Friday, February 10, 2012

Psychological Trauma

Not having a work permit for Canada means that I've had plenty of time recently to catch up on quality television. Over the last year in Vancouver we've been so busy enjoying ourselves that my old number one time waster has fallen to the wayside. Staying in touch with the newest shows and episodes was once important, but lately I haven't been watching anything. I have yet to touch many shows that I was looking forward to seeing, including the dino-series Terra Nova.

Instead, I've been playing catchup. I'm currently racing through season four of Burn Notice, one of my all-time favourite spy shows. Built in the mold of MacGyver but "with more violence", as my wonderful wife once observed, it was an instant success as soon as they dropped Fiona's Irish accent in the second episode. I've been watching since the pilot, and wrote about it way back then. It helps that not only does it star Bruce Campbell, but also the fantastic Sharon Gless, whom I've enjoyed since watching Cagney and Lacey with my mum back in the '80's.

Along with Burn Notice, I'm hoping to catch up on Community and Fringe with all this time off as well, but all this began with me finishing a show I started way back in 2008.

Battlestar Galactica was a mind blowing experience right from the pilot episode. The first season kept that going from it's opening episode, 33, that put the fleet at the head of an unstoppable chase to it's close, when... well, stuff happened. I got distracted originally late in season two, then got as far as the fifth episode of season three a few years ago.

My enthusiasm was peaked again during our trip to Seattle when Claire and I visited the Experience Music Project, home to the Sci-Fi Museum as well. We had seen the museum in 2008 during our Epic Holiday[TM], and didn't really have much interest in seeing it again. But on arrival, we discovered that there was a BSG exhibit, as well as a James Cameron's Avatar one!

The Avatar exhibit was incredible. There were amazing props, design specs from the production, and other fascinating trinkets throughout. We got to play with not one, but two Microsoft Surfaces and stand in the shoes of an Avatar, literally! The movie was pants, but the designs behind it are incredible.

Of course, the main attraction for me was the Battlestar exhibit. It covered both the new and original series, with costumes, props and models from both. The exhibit was centered around three full-scale ships, a classic Viper, a new Viper and a Cylon Raider. Not only was there pilot and crew costumes, but they had Imaginary Six's red dress as well. There was a neat display related to the series musical score, playing a space combat scene and a switch to alternate between "Action Score", "Emotional Score" or "No Score", illustrating how there can be more than one "prefect" piece for any given scene. Conveniently, it also illustrated what a genius Bear McCreary is.

One of the highlights was seeing one of the Command Center's combat phones against a wall and asking Claire to get a photo of me holding it. I picked it up and put it to my ear, and my eyes widened. Felix Geata was ordering me to battle stations, declaring "Set condition red". For a moment, I was instantly transported right into the heart of Galactica, right there, rubbing shoulders with Commander Adama.

When I got back to Vancouver I picked up where I left off and watched the final two seasons in a short space of time. There were several episodes that had me, literally on the edge of my seat. Given how many episodes ended, I was only too delighted to have waited; I didn't have to bite my nails for a week to find out the resolution to the mutiny, or the identity of the Final 5[1].

In the end, I watched the final ten episodes, as well as the final special created for the big finale all in one day. At approximately 45 minutes an episode, and a feature length finale, that adds up to nine hours of Battlestar Galactica in one day!

It was quite the rush, and an emotional ending.

However, that night, and for several nights after I had the weirdest dreams, involving Cylons, robots, androids, Lego Cylons, and all sorts of other things. It was getting to the point that I didn't want to go to sleep for fear of what I'd dream of this time.

So, the moral of the story, kiddies is: Don't watch nine hours of Battlestar Galactica in one go, especially not the blood pumping, adrenaline charged, non-stop roller-coaster ride that is the final nine hours. It's not good for you health.

[1]- If you watch BSG you know what I mean. If you don't, explaining it won't matter. If you are planning to, or currently in the early seasons... forget I said anything. Move along.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hard To Believe

It's been one year since Claire and I were last in Ireland. More than that now, as I didn't feel much like blogging about this last week. We've had a pretty spectacular time of it here in Vancouver this past 12 months, and we're looking forward to spending more time enjoying ourselves in the coming year.

My job has been nothing short of incredible. The children, families and staff are all amazing and the job itself is rewarding. Claire's web design business has really taken off, and it's not unusual for her to be working on two or three sites at the same time. Of course, right now, we're between work permits, which means that we're on a holiday visa in Canada. We can stay and have a good time, but can't work until the new work permit arrives.

I've been making the most of this free time by catching up on some TV series, most notably Battlestar Galactica, a show I started watching with the Pilot in 2003, but never got around to finishing. I flew through the remaining two seasons over the last few days, and finished watching the grand finale at 1am this morning. Having been effectively watching this show for over eight years now, it was sad to see it all end.

We also went to Seattle at the end of January to visit our friend Cian. That was just way too much fun for me. I had a blast hanging out with him and his friends, and we even did a group breakfast Saturday morning. I felt like I had been transported back to Cork for the morning again, sitting in Puccino's having our weekly Sunday breakfast get-together.

I was hoping to get a lot of reading done while I'm home from work, but I find myself distracted by Xbox, the internet and watching TV shows. I've done a huge amount of reading since we moved here, but most of it is done while sitting on the bus on the way to or home from work. I may have to start taking the bus into twon for no other reason than to get some reading time!

Right now I'm off to take a walk. It's a beautiful, if cloudy day here, and I'm going to get out and enjoy it. I need to. Yesterday I watched nine hours of Battlestar Galactica! I was having Cylon dreams for the night!