Monday, June 30, 2014

Eat. The Best Place for Breakfast in Las Vegas

Cinnamon Biscuits
 For the last four days I've been in Las Vegas, NV at the 2014 American Library Association Annual Conference.  I've been to some pretty exciting sessions and events, had a lot of great talks, and even tried my luck at the tables (it being my first time in Vegas), but after getting home this morning the first thing I really want to talk about is this restaurant in Downtown Vegas called Eat.

On my first morning in Vegas I decided to go for a bit of a walk (okay, an hour) from my hotel near the Convention Centre to this breakfast and lunch place I had heard about.  The staff were incredibly friendly and my first meal was the Cinnamon Biscuits with strawberry compote followed by their Shrimp and Grits.

Shrimp and Grits
Needless to say the food was so good I was not only satisfied with another one hour walk back to my hotel, but was also certain that Eat. was going to be my breakfast place of choice while in Vegas.

To put that into a little context, the walk (both ways) was on average about 32 degrees (or 89.6F), but once I'd tried the stuff I couldn't help but go back.

The restaurant itself just felt like one of those perfect finds, the kind of place you wish you could brag about to your friends.

Which, to be fair, is what I'm doing now.

If you happen to still be in Vegas at alaac14, give it a shot, the place isn't on the Strip, but after three days, it might be nice to try something else.
Corned Beef Hash
Finally, make sure to try the corned beef hash - I had it on my last day and I think it ruined me for Corned Beef Hash at any other restaurant.

If you have Vegas on your agenda for anytime in the future, this place is a must.

Thanks to all the great staff for a wonderful experience.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My first few days in Vegas at ALAAC14

Hello all; after a couple of crazy busy days I've finally got a few moments to myself, and I'm giving them all to you!

So I'm currently writing from Sunny Las Vegas, NV (it's currently 41 degrees Celsius (or 106 degrees Fahrenheit) outside, so I'm sitting in my hotel room looking back at the last couple of days.

First of all - the conference is going really well - after doing this last year in Chicago, I'm finding myself much more open in chatting with other people and have consequently not spent the majority of my time at the convention centre quietly reading between sessions - on the down side my reading isn't going nearly as fast as it did last year.

Secondly - I've found a great local breakfast/lunch place called Eat, and if you're ever in Vegas - definitely give them a try, the food is amazing!

And finally, I have to say that for a town built on over-the-top spectacle, I'm having a pretty great time exploring the downtown area and the stuff around the convention centre - I've popped into Bally's and the Bellagio but as I'm an asthmatic, the smoke-filled casinos aren't quite the draw to me as they may be to others (also I'm not a big gambling guy, so there's that as well).

What I have found enjoyable, however is a lot of the unintentionally creepy imagery I've come across - perfect example, the giant clown from Circus Circus peering over a neighbouring rooftop at me on my way back to my hotel - if this doesn't settle the whole "Are Giant Clowns Creepy?" argument I really don't know what will.

I head home in a few days, but for now it's back to conference events and potential Elvis sightings.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Heading off to Vegas Tomorrow

Just one day left before I head off to this years annual conference of the American Library Association. As I've never been to Vegas before, I'm pretty exited about checking out the city, as a Northern boy, I'm pretty nervous about the heat.

Since stating I was heading to Vegas I've been told the following 

1) Bring a water bottle
2) Hope you like the heat, and 
3) Get me a cool "Read" poster Dad!

So with those things in mind, I'm looking forward to a pretty great trip, and will continue to blog while I'm there!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Taking a Mental Health Day

So I booked today off from work to do pretty much nothing, it's not actually anyone's birthday and I'm not heading out on a trip, I just decided it would be nice to have a long weekend and maybe get some reading done.

In my mind, taking a day off every couple months for no particular reason is a pretty great thing to do (if you can), as it gives you the time to catch up on all the fun stuff you've been putting off.

For example, today I ran some errands with my wife, read two comic series collections and a number of short stories from the new short story collection Rogues (which includes the latest Song of Ice and Fire story and a Neverwhere spinoff as well!)

Past that I watched some TV, when on a walk and made some pulled pork for dinner tonight.

Tomorrow is back to work for me, but just having the ability to take a day off to do very little was a pretty great way for me to spend the day

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Genre Character of the Week: Robocop

As someone always interested in media studies, I was pretty excited earlier this week to get the 2013 film Robocop from my local library earlier this week, as I was interested in how it would measure up to the original.  Then I realized, my kids haven't seen the original yet, so tonight we addressed this and watched the 1987 original, Robocop.

A quick side note - the original film (even 17 years later) is one of the most violent films I've ever come across, and I watch a lot of horror and war films, so even through I'm saying I showed my kids this movie, it's important to note that my kids are 17 and 21, and both of them have been raised with the goal of increasing media literacy since they were very young, looking at not only any given story, but how it works and why.  Although I feel the film has a lot to offer it's audience, don't show this movie to the younger crowd as the violence is intentionally shocking and pretty horrifying.

I first saw this movie at the age of eleven, and at the time I simply thought it was pretty awesome.  I loved the action and was entranced by both the point of view segments and the great performance done by Peter Weller as the main character.  It wasn't until repeated viewings at an older age when I started to connect the film to Frankenstein and began to see it as the satire on corporate culture and the war on crime it was.

What I like best about the character (in the first film) was the great sense of loss that he carried; having been overwritten by new programming, police officer Alex Murphy was supposed to no longer exist except as the basic biological foundation of Robocop.  The story follows his existence from man to machine and back to man again (sorry for the mild seventeen-year-old spoiler), and that character arc is one of the greatest things about the film - and also the stop motion animation for ED-209, which was pretty darn great.

I'm nervous to see what the reboot will bring to the concept, but am open to what it has to offer.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

Late last week I read the new Stephen King novel Mr. Mercedes and really enjoyed it.  The novel, more a thriller than a horror (although to be fair the opening chapter is pretty horrific), focused on a retired police detective named Bill Hodges who finds himself being literally taunted by the perpetrator of an unsolved crime from years ago.

The novel quickly introduces the criminal and alternating chapters show the cat and mouse game being played between retired detective Hodges and Mr. Mercedes (the name given to the criminal by the press due to his use of a mercedes in a spree killing he committed years ago).

What I liked best about the novel was both the fast pace at which it moved (I read the book in little over a day and a half), and the great characters introduced throughout.  Hodges comes across as a really interesting character and the villain is one of the most disturbed individuals I've read about in a long time (and I tend to average at least one horror novel a month, so that's saying something).

Definitely worth the read, and on June 10 the Author mentioned on his twitter feed that this is intended to be the first book in a trilogy.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Me and my Shine

As a convocation gift, my wife and kids got me an activity tracker called a Misfit Shine (pictured right), which works to help me keep track of my daily activity goals.

In addition, it looks really cool - it's a dark blue colour called "Storm" and wearing it makes me feel like I'm living a little bit in the future.

Although not as well known as the Nike Fuel band or the FitBit, for sheer cool factor I'm pretty impressed with the thing.

I'm still in early days as far as claiming its effectiveness, but so far it seems to work pretty well, and I'm really enjoying using it for it's secondary feature as a pretty neat little analog watch.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

So I guess I'm a Librarian Now...

After two years and eight months of part-time work, I got to take the stage at the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada yesterday and am now completely finished with my time in Graduate school.

The last few years have been pretty great, and a huge part of that was doing this blog (which I fully intend to continue with) as it got me very used to delivering written work on a regular basis.  For all of you who have followed my blog over the years, or commented on any posts, Thanks!  To the folks who have just swung by and read - thanks as well, keeping you all in mind while writing has definitely kept me on my toes for the last few years.

As a special thanks, here's a photo of me on my Convocation day, I'm sitting next to one of my favourite sculptures on campus and am holding the eagle feather I was awarded by Aboriginal Student Services upon graduation.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

This weekend I went with my daughter and my BFF Mike to see the latest Tom Cruise movie, Edge of Tomorrow.

The film, based off the 2004 Japanese novel All You Need is Kill, focuses on a man forced into a War he recruits for but doesn't participate in, and the events surrounding his death on his first day in battle.

The problem is, as soon as he dies, he wakes up again, two days earlier, and relives the same two days again, and again, and again.

The film itself is pretty great, both leads do a wonderful job and the effects are pretty fantastic (although I still don't recommend seeing it in 3D if you can avoid it).  I enjoyed it a lot more than Oblivion last year, and to be fair, I liked that film fine enough, but this one brought a lot of interesting concepts to the table, and also had Mechs (robotic suits of armour found commonly in Japanese animation) which I absolutely loved.

My only issue with the film (as with a lot of movie adaptations) was that it left out a number of things from the original book I would have liked to have seen (including the ending).

In the end, see the movie, as it's well worth it, but definitely pick up the book, because it was just amazing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: All You Need is Kill

For the first time since finishing Grad School, I've finished a book in a day.

Also the book was pretty freaking awesome!

All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka is a great little military science fiction story which begins like a bizarre war-themed SF story mixed with the film Groundhog Day and quickly evolves into something much more interesting.

I fully admit that I picked up the novel as I wanted an excuse to go see the new Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow (which is based on the book) and always find it easier to justify seeing a film if I've read the original source material.

The story moves incredibly quickly and is a great mix of Japanese Mecha Science Fiction (focusing on stories involving robotic suits controlled by people) and an intriguing concept, both of which kept me interested throughout and turning pages faster than I normally do while reading SF.

Would I recommend it?  Absolutely.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So my oldest daughter is a University Graduate

At 10:00 this morning my family headed to our local university to watch our oldest daughter's Convocation ceremony.

It was pretty darn awesome.

Although I don't necessarily feel old enough to have a University-graduate daughter, it doesn't really matter, as I now have a University graduate daughter.

And I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bookmonkey vs. Aerobics

About two months into my healthy living and I was getting kind of frustrated; although I was still eating well and had increased my walking and stair climbing (I’m up to 50 flights a day, three times a week, eventually hoping to get that elusive 250 flights in a day badge from but I had pretty much stopped in terms of weight loss. Starting at 254 back in April, I dropped to 241 by May 5th and pretty much stayed exactly there through the rest of the month.

Talking to a couple of my coworkers about it, they informed me I had probably plateaued and would be best served by a change up in my exercise regime. So I decided to give aerobics a try, and swung over to my local branch of epl to see what they had to offer. At first I came across a lot of super-fit folks looking angry or extremely intense, neither of which is something I’m really interested in dealing with while exercising.

And then I saw this guy.

And decided, what the heck, at least he isn’t frowning, and how hard could it be?

So twenty minutes into my first run through of Sweating to the Oldies, and I was huffing and puffing and feeling the beginning of a stitch in my side.

The workout was a lot of fun (I think I was grinning about two minutes into the set – darn you and your infectious smile Richard Simmons), and by the end although I was definitely
feeling it, I couldn’t help but think, Yeah – I could do this for the next month.

So we’ll see how well the program works for me in June and I’ll check back in with you at the beginning of July!