Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Best Cat Pictures Ever

Time to lighten up the post. Here's some pictures of the Awesome Girlfriend's cats. I selected these as they are particularly artistic of reflective of their personalities.

I also heard a great line about cats last night; here's the paraphrase. "Every time I use the can opener, the cat comes running. The next time I get a cat, I'll name it "Mreeeoooorrrrr" (the sound of the can opener)."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Nature vs Nurture, or "Wanna Fight?"

Just a word of warning, this is a more serious "op-ed" entry, not a "the world sure is goofy" entry.

The other day I got into a pretty heated discussion on the role of "nature vs. nurture" as it relates to gender roles; "male vs female". The person I was having the discussion with felt that "nature" accounts for no more than 10% of how we view our gender roles, and that Sociologists have demonstrated on numerous occasions that society decides how males and females are "supposed" to behave from an early age (little girls being given dolls, little boys being given toy trucks, etc.). This person pointed out, factually, that gender roles have changed over the last hundred years, and that women who were once thought to have no ability to conduct the types of activities are clearly demonstrating them today. This person also stated that, aside from reproductive paraphernalia, there is really no difference between men and women.

I felt that "nature" has a greater role in gender identification. I did not dismiss the role that culture plays in gender role identification, but I felt that physiological factors, what I referred to as "wiring", had more to do with gender roles that the other person wanted to admit to. I pointed out that children, raised in similar circumstances, will often display vastly different personality traits, often in opposition to what is perceived to be the "traditional" gender roles (e.g. boys who like cooking, girls who like to work with tools, etc.----just as an aside, I don't think this exists as much as it used to, so defining what is a "traditional" gender role is much more difficult nowadays). I also thought there were more significant physiological differences between males and females than just their "equipment" (effects of hormones, genes, chromosomes, even brain size; females average 1130cc brains, males into THAT what you will!!).

The fact of the matter is, science doesn't really know what extent each of nature and nurture plays in gender roles (at least according to Wikipedia it doesn't!!). We know they are both very important, but the line or lines are hugely based on individual circumstances related to family, culture and biology. (Hey, this is starting to sound like my favorite Grad paper conclusion..."more research must be done". I loved that one, as it implicitly justified my profs going for more grant money :)

Now I have to admit right now that I didn't offer some of these comments during the discussion. The other person appeared to be getting quite furious that I wasn't seeing their position, and even challenged me to state "typical male or female behaviors". I didn't answer right then, partially because I don't think that quickly (I'm the kind of person who thinks of snappy comebacks 12 hours after the fact), and partially because I needed to give the matter some more thought and research (hence this posting).

What struck me was the fervor that the other person argued their point. Looking back I think if I had pressed on, I might have been struck with a basket of holiday mints, or the other person might have stormed out of the room. That's when I started to realize that we weren't in a scientific arguement, we were in a political one.

Heres' the op-ed part-brace yourself!! Discussion of gender roles is a hugely politicaly charged issue. Almost every day, it seems like the newspapers report conflicts over equality rights, access to resources and acceptance related to gender. I have to admit I was pretty ignorant not to see the emotional impact this was having on the other person until their eyes blazed and their voice became shakey. I think I am also ignorant about the social implications of research into this area. Being a comfortable white strait male gives me societal advantages I'm not even aware of. I can see now how discussion of this topic can appear threatening to people who want to enact social change in this area. After all, if opponents can simply say that gender roles and societal status is related to biology (which it has), it potentially diffuses the chance to make meaningful change.

What I am suggesting is that the scientific truth, whatever it is, doesn't have to impact our ability to change ourselves and our societies. It seems like this arguement is analagous to Copernicus discovering the earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa. The establishment of the Roman Catholic Church was horrified by this discovery, and tried to get Copernicus to recant his findings. They thought it threatened the structure of the Church. Well of course it didn't-the beliefs of the Church are deeper than "what planet orbits where". I think it's the same with the "nature vs nurture" discussion. If social justice can be demonstrated, the degree to which our gender roles are determined by society or biology should cease to be an issue. I also think we need to keep in mind that people are able to go against their "programming" (societal or biological) when they need to . Think of all the men who have served in combat roles in past wars. Most of them had no deep seated "desire" to take another human life, but the horrible circumstances they were in forced them to go against their previous training. If people can change their training in such a negative situation, they can certainly do it to make a positive change. And it can be done without being afraid of the truth.

OK, heavy and contriversial posting. Let's wrap up with something more seasonal. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Let's get programming ourselves for some hope, and de-program aourselves from fear.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

So long, Uncle Forry

If anyone reads this, it's pretty obvious I'm a huge fan of classic horror and science fiction films. I grew up dueing the 60's and 70's, right when there was a revival of interest in films like Frankenstein, Dracula, and the 50's sci-fi like "Them". Every week I would watch the "Chiller Thriller" movie from Pembina, North Dakota, Saturday at 10:30pm. Anticipating the weekly dose of classic horror was heaven to kids like me; in other words, kids who weren't the popular or athletic kids in school. I was bound to a larger community of like-minded kids across North America by a magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland; a fun and pun filled monthly tribute to the films us "monster kids" loved. It was created and edited by a man named Forrest J. Ackerman, or the "Ackermonster" to us kids. Here was an adult who not only loved the same kind of stuff that we did, but was able to communicate in a way that we kids understood an appreciated. I guess looking back, puns like "Horror-wood, Karloffornia" were pretty corny, but we ate it up with two spoons.

"Uncle Forry" passed away Thursday night at the age of 92. An elderly man with the heart of a young boy (he kept it in a jar by his bed.....bada bing!!!-don't worry this isn't disrespectful, Uncle Forry would have loved it!). I feel fortunate to have met him once several years ago, and just a couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to write him a letter to let him know how much I appreciated him and his work. I don't know if he ever saw the letter, but that's ok-I just needed to make it know. So here's the contents of that letter, as my tribute to Uncle Forry.

Dear "Uncle Forry",

This is just another letter from a slightly-greying monster kid who grew up with Famous Monsters magazine, and shares an undying love for the classic monster movies your work and life has so joyfully celebrated. I was able to meet you briefly, once in San Diego, and while we didn't have a long chat, that opportunity to meet you ranks as one of my proudest moments (way ahead of the Master's degree!!).

I suppose everyone has a "Forry Story", and here are a couple of the moments of how you and your passion for the classic monster movies made ME a better man. I clearly remember you publishing a letter from an enraged father, who claimed to have destroyed his son's collection of magazines and models. His letter to you ranted about how you were exploiting kids, pushing your "garbage" on them, and how the world would be better off without "your kind". Reading his letter enraged me the way nothing else had as a kid, almost to the point of tears. The only thing that stopped me from breaking something in my fury was reading your response. I can't remember the exact wording, but your answer was so articulate and respectful in tone, it took my breath away. You not only expressed EXACTLY how I felt about monster fandom, but you did it that was in no way demeaning to the man who so thoroughly berated you in his letter. You showed me how a true gentleman stands up to hatred, not with threats or profanity, but with clarity and civility and courage. You helped me grow up a little that day.

My other story is a few years later, when I was just starting grade 7. I was in a new school, and the typical chubby shy kid. My first two days were horribly awkward, and I started picturing spending the next three years as the outcast of the class. On the third day I took my current issue of Famous Monsters to read over lunch. As soon as the other kids saw that magazine (Vincent Price was on the cover, I forget the number of the issue), the other kids started to ask "what's that?", "where did you get it?" "can I look at it?". PRESTO! Just like that I was the kid who knew all the COOL STUFF about monster movies!! Thanks to Famous Monsters, what could have been a horrible experience in my early adolesence turned into a break-out year, when I started to explore life beyond my little shell!

Now I suppose I'm considered a pretty successful and well-rounded individual. I have a beautiful girlfriend, a wall full of movies and a life full of great memories. To me you have always been the adult who new how to talk to us kids. I have to THANK YOU with all my heart for your work and your presence here on Earth. God bless you, Mr. Ackerman!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Arch Hall JR experiences

Tuesday Dec 2nd was Arch Hall Jr's birthday! To the majority who don't remember, Arch Hall Jr. (pictured here) was a somewhat squishy-faced young man who appeared in several low-budget independent pictures, which coincidentally were produced by his father, Arch Hall Sr. His titles include movies like "Wild Guitar", "The Nasty Rabbit", and my personal favorite "Eegah". "Eegah" starred Arch Hall as well as noted giant actor Richard Kiel, whom I met at the Monster Bash in Pennsylvania two years ago. It's an odd little film with earnest amateur acting and some reedy singing by Arch (he tends to croon to someone named "Valerie" though his girlfriend in the movie is named "Roxy"). Arch also like to say "Wowee wow wow" in this film, adding to it's charm.

The plot has to do with the discovery of a caveman (Kiel) who mysteriously has stayed alive for millennia, due to a steady intake of sulfur water from a spring in his cave (yum!). "Eegah" grunts his own language, whose most descriptive word, in my opinion, was "shtemlow". The basic stroyline is this: Roxy discovers Eegah (by almost hitting him with her car), Roxy's dad investigates and is captured by Eegah, Roxy calls on boyfriend Arch Hall Jr to search for dad, Arch and Roxy race around the desert in his dune buggy yelling "whee" for about 20 minutes. Eventually there is the standard "Beauty and the Beast" scene where Eeegah falls for Roxy, loses her to Mr. Dune Buggy, follows her to town and ends up face-down in a motel swimming pool (kind of like a cave man spring break I guess).

The movie apparently was pretty popular in the independent drive-in movie scene of the early 60's, where the fans, like Arch, were likely also funny looking and lacked for talent.

Anyway, since my birthday ALSO was December 2nd, I decided to make myself an Arch Hall Jr. T-shirt and wear it to work. Pretty much everyone liked the shirt, many laughed, but only 2 people asked who it was. One person saw the name "Arch" and thought it was a picture of "Archie Bunker". One asked who it was and then dropped the subject, and only one other asked who Arch Hall Jr. was. It's kind of a testement to my status at work that no-one actually asked WHY I was wearing a picture of Arch Hall Jr. on my chest. I didn't mind them not knowing. Telling people at your workplace that it is your birthday usually causes them to squirm uncomfortably, not knowing whether they are expected to sign a card or buy you a chocolate bar from the snack machine. So Arch and I kept our birthday secret for another year. To Arch, however, I'd just like to say: shtemlow, buddy....shtemlow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Weird Dreams Part 2

Just a couple of weird dreams I've had lately. I don't know if dreams are some way your mind is trying to tell you something important, or just the way the mind flushes out old garbage it's not using anymore. If there's any meaning in this stuff, I'll be surprised.

One night I dreamt I received a bundle of official papers. The papers came from the United States, and claimed that I had purchased, through a web-site, a used Russian hover-craft. I remember looking through the papers thinking "did I really do this? Was I drunk or something?".

The papers themselves were kind of weird. One page featured a group of bikini models pointing out important facts such as "it's better to tow it home" and "this hover-craft can be broken down into three smaller hover-crafts with snow-scoops!". Apparently I was able to pay by Visa, MasterCard or "Saskatchewan dollars". I'll keep checking my mailbox over the next couple of days.

I don't know if another dream I experienced had meaning, but it certainly had sweaters. I remember being in an open room, I think it was a food court in a shopping mall. There were people in chairs all watching a speaker, and we were all wearing those funky 80's-style sweaters that Bill Cosby used to wear. I couldn't hear what the speaker was saying, but I was really upset over the content. I thought they were lying to the listeners. In the dream I (very uncharacteristically) stood up and shouted "no, don't listen to him", and started to run around the shopping mall grabbing people saying inspirational stuff like "you only have one life, this is your shot!" Apparently we only have one life, but many sweaters, as I always seemed to be dressed in a different "Dr Huxtable" look. Man, I miss those sweaters.

Whatever you think about stuff like this, it's never boring.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you veterans!!

It's Remembrance Day again. I've just watched the national ceremony from the Cenotaph in Ottawa, and again I found myself shedding tears for the thousands of strangers who lived through horrible experiences so I could live my convenient life. A few things really stood out for me this year.

-In London, the Canadian Embassy (Canada House) in Trafalgar Square projected the names of every Canadian soldier who died in the First World War, in a continuing cycle for eight days, leading up to Remembrance Day. The same thing was timed for sites in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The tribute was designed by a Canadian actor. Well done-it looked like a beautiful and moving tribute.

-This year for the first time, an Aboriginal veteran offered a tribute in Ojibway. I didn't understand the words, but his tone and expression said it all, and the Ojibway sounded like a mysterious song.

-I used to question the value of ceremony, but it struck me how quickly and thoroughly animosity melts away when people join together for a common purpose; in this case, to honour veterans. People who normally resent each other for their language, race and beliefs immediately forget all that and honour each other the way they should all year round. I wonder how else we can keep reminding ourselves of how great this felt?

-The Chaplain who led the prayers began by saying "I ask you to pray to God in the way you understand Him, as I pray through my savior Jesus Christ". I thought that was a wonderfully inclusive statement, " the way you understand Him". Nothing about "I'm right and you're wrong", just an accceptance that we all have our way of understanding the "big mystery".

-It's apparently becoming a tradition, after the offical wreaths are laid at the Cenotaph in Ottawa, for visitors to leave their poppies (small poppy pins Canadians wear as a tribute, offered by Veterans groups, for people reading this from outside Canada) on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and at the grave marker on display at the National War Museum. No-one told the public to do this, they just started doing it spontaneously. I think that's the greatest tribute of all-nothing orchestrated, just a little tribute from the heart. It reminds me of the Jewish tradition of leaving a small stone at a grave side to mark that someone had come to visit. Beautiful stuff.

-So there you go, it's 11:17am as I'm finishing this up; the tributes are ending with parades and celebrations. I don't know how many people actually read this stuff I write, but today I'm glad I had the opportunity to write it down. Thanks for everything, veterans.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Random Thoughts and Observations

Random Observation 1: work weirdness

Here's an example of the weirdness of my workplace, which is an international survey company of, I'm guessing, middling-to-no-respect in the industry. Recently one of our clients had a meeting with the Project Manager who handles their account and the Field Supervisors who actually run the day-to-day gathering of opinions. The client, who seemed to have no idea as to how their own survey was being run, listened to some of our interviewers call their customers to take the survey. This is a survey where, for several years, we have been instructed to only call people during business hours, to avoid bothering people in the evenings, during the dinner hour, etc. When one person asked to be called in the evening, the interviewer, correctly, explained they are not allowed to do that, and asked for a more convenient time during the day.

The client asked "why didn't the interviewer accept the evening call-back?". the Project Manager asked the Field Supervisors "yeah, why DIDN'T the interviewer arrange an evening call-back?" The Field Supervisors explained that, for several years, evening callbacks were contrary to instructions, that that the computerized settings had a variable that simply wouldn't allow an evening appointment to be set. The Project Manager, puffing themselves up in from of the client said "well, why dont you just change the variable?" The Field Supervisors asked "Can we do that now?"

The Project Manager answered: "No".

Corporate management at it's finest, no?

Random observation 2: Sports broadcasters

I was watching a football game the other day, when a colour commentator tried to describe the speed of one of the players. He said (I kid you not)" He's like a cannon, shot out of a gun" This is almost as good as my all-time favorite sports broadcaster comments which went: "He runs with his feet and catches with his hands!"

Random Observation # 3: What if....?

What if the Borg (from Star Trek) dressed like Earth, Wind and Fire? Wouldn't they be more accepted throughout the universe? If you heard the EW&F Borg command "Let's Groove....resistance is futile" woudl you resist? I think not. The Borg just needed a make-over.

I was watching TV when a commercial for Rub-A535 came on. I weasn't very alert at that moment, so I thought the name of the product was "Rub-Ass" creame. Personally, I would think this name would do better in the marketplace, and inspire MUCH more creative commercials.

In a conversation with AGF (awesome girl-friend) last week, she was commenting on something being "not very good". Trying to sound profound, I offered "well, not very good is better than bad!" Profundity is something that comes easily to some people, but obviously not me! :)

Mr. Furley (Don Knotts) from Three's Company was the best dresser on TV, bar none.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Today I'd like to talk about a cartoon I frequently watched, and was somewhat embarassed by, as a kid...that Hanna Barbera superhero-BIRDMAN! (not Charlie Parker!)

Birdman was a winged hero created by the same animation studio that brought the world The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, etc. Our hero (the aforementioned "Birdman") apparently lived and worked in a pretty cool secret base on the top of a mountain. Birdman never seemed to cook, clean or do laundry in his little hideaway, he never even seemed to change his clothes....all he did was sit and watch a screen mounted on the wall for the latest emergency message. These came at the start of every episode, when he would recieve a call from his boss, a suave joker wearing any eyepatch and smoking a pipe, by name of "Falcon 7" (it was never established what happened to Falcons 1 through 6, though I imagine the crime fighting business can be pretty perilous at times). Falcon 7 would grimly intone that one of Birdman's old nemeses had returned (a bit of perfunctory back-story), and Birdman needed to stop him. Always eager to help if he could, Birdman would turn to his assistant, a giant purple eagle named "Avenger". "Come Avenger", Birdman would command, "..."Aawk", Avenger would reply, and they'd be off. The roof of the mountain would open up, and Birdman and Avenger would soar up into the sky.

This is where I usually became a little embarassed as a kid. Birdman would always shout his name in an over-wrought baritone..."Biiiiiiiiird...MAN!" he would shout, usually several times an episode. I don't know why, but it always kind of bothered me, and I remember clearly dashing to the TV and turning the sound down whenever it looked like Birdman was about to announce himself. There must be some psychological root to dealing with a hero who occasionally embarasses you-probably the same one we deal with when coming to grips with our parents.

Anyway, Birdman's power came from the power of the sun, which was pretty cool..UNLESS..he entered some kind of shadowy domain...a cave, a basement, etc. wherein his powers would fade. Unfortunately for Birdman, ALL of his nemeses lived in basements, caves, grottos, etc. So there would be Birdman, shouting his name and swooping in to kick ass, when suddenly (in the same baritone) he would announce "my powers.....WEAKENING!" Uh oh...looks like it's lights out (literally) for Birdman. And it would have been too, if not for his purple pal, Avenger! "Bird" (if I can call him that) would have just enough juice to push a little button on the collar around his neck, and communicate with Avenger, who had a stylish matching collar (and maybe cufflinks, I don't know). "Avenger", "Bird" would gasp..."Operation RESCUE". Avenger, invariably would know what to do (as Birdman would get captured with greater regularity than Exlax). Freeing Birdman, the duo would fly into the sky to get "close to the sun" (Icarus, where are you?) to recharge his powers. With one more shout of his name (and me sliding towards the TV to turn down the sound), Birdman would hurtle towards his always-startled foe. Birdman had some pretty neat "solar" weapons, including a "solar sheild" he could generate, and a "solar ray". I still vividly remember one villian shouting "Don't use your solar ray...YOU MIGHT HIT ME!!" Anyway, Birdman would save the day, and once more, shout his own name to the heavens (sound down of course).

The Birdman show had a second feature with three alien superheros of the future called the Galaxy Trio. The Trio had some pretty hilarious powers-"Gravity Girl" could reverse and control the effects of gravity (was she Estee Lauder in disguise?), "Meteor Man" could make any part of his body grow to gigantic proportions at will (remember, this was a pre-peuberty show for me, so I though his giant fists made perfect sense). Finally there was "Vapor Man", could could create any kind of caustic vapor known to man. Considering the amount of time we spent amusing each other with our own caustic vapors, he was probably the closest adolescent boys could come to actually being a super hero.

A lot of times people say they watch their favorite childhood shows again after gowing up, and complain about being disappointed. I'm happy to say I'm not disappointed with Birdman. Sure it's cheezy and repetitive, but doggone it, it's cool. And I'm no longer embarassed when my hero shouts out his name.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Country living made "easy"

I just bought a copy of a book called "Country Wisdom Almanac", from some place called "Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers". It's one of these collections of relatively folksy bits of information that most people probably used to know, but have since been relegated to book sections for the urban folk-wannabees of the world. These are the people who currently enjoy the comforts of modern urban civilization while pondering wistfully as to when they might plow up their back yard to plant rows of corn, or make a chicken coop out of their garage. I have to admit, I am increasingly finding myself drifting towards that camp. Whether I eventually give up the deliciously-convenient life of the urban taxpayer due to personal choice (selling up and buying a bit of land with it's own artesian well and space for a herd of attack goats) or whether it's forced upon me (meteor crases into the earth, ending industrial civilization), I am increasingly attracted to the "son of the sod" scene.

Now of course, I'm not kidding myself. I'm still an urban-comfort junkie because it's not easy tilling soil, weeding a garden or scooping out chicken droppings. The plus side, as I envision it, is in knowing how to do stuff for yourself, with locally-available ingredients. Here's an example:

Know the difference between a "poultice" and a "plaster"? A "poultice" is a "warm moist mass of powdered or crushed fresh herbs" (according to the above-mentioned C.W. Almanac). These herbs (witch hazel, herbal tea, or maybe even something called "herbal tincture") are applied directly to the skin to relieve inflammation, draw out infections, relieve muscle spasms, and for all we know improve your love life do your taxes for you. "Plasters" are like a poultice, except the herbal goop is between two thin pieces of cloth. Now I can say, with confidence "Looks like you need a poultice applied to that. Ayup!"

How about building your own stone wall? The average city "dude" would probably say you just start heaping rocks on top of each other until the contractor comes to do a proper job. Not the nouveau-sodbuster though! There are actually different kinds of stones, ranging in texture from coarse, soft, crumbly and dense (much like the people many of us work with every day). Advise from the C.W. Almanac includes "If a stone looks doubtful for laying, pass it up" (great advice for all of us) and when lifting stones, "Grab the stone in what would be a normal position, and drop your rear another 2 feet. When lifting, hug the stone close". I can just see all those poor dumb city-folk, trying to lift their stones withuot hugging, and possibly caressing them, in the proper way.

I actually bought this book as a substitute for the book I originally wanted to buy. That one was out-of stock, but my store has ordered extra copies, and I shall soon add the knowledge of that book to what I already have. This other book (I think it was called "101 Things Your Grandparetnts Knew" or something like that) also includes information on how to make your own shoes, and how to dig a well. Rural bliss cannot be far behind. Poultice anyone?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Singing in the Shower

People often comment on how much better their voices sound in the shower, but how many people acknowledge how much they improve on the lyrics of thier songs? Here's my most recent version of the old Trooper song "The Boys in the Bright White Sportscar" (remember, you need to hear the sound of splashing water and smell Finesse moisturing shampoo to get the full effect)

Here I am,
The boy in the bight white sports car,
Waving my arms in the air (wave arms here)
Who do I think I am?
And where did I get that car?

There I go,
The boy in the bright white sports car,
Honking at all the girls,
I'm jack-of all-trades-Stan,
Or maybe a garbage man

Naaa na na na, Naaa na na na NAAAAAAA

There I go,
I am really rollin'
I'd better call a cop,
Say my car is probably stolen
(shout this)

Alternate lyric:

Say I love eating stollen...STOLLEN!!! (a sweet German pastry)

There I go,
A boy in a bright white sports car
Who do I think I am?
Where did I park the CAAAAR???

Personally, I think shower lyrics make a heck of a lot more sense than the originals. If I ever remember any others, I'll record them here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jive Talk Update-G.I. Jive!

Ok, it's been a while since I had some entries from the HepCats Jive Talk dictionary. Here's a tribute to the amazing people who serve in the armed forces...of course I'm talking about G.I.Jive!!

Armored Cow- canned milk

Bean Gun-rolling kitchen

Cross Bar Hotel- guard house

Dog Show- a foot inspection

Ether- a radio telephone

Fly the Wet Beam- flying along a river

General's Car- a wheelbarrow

Higher than a Georgia Pine- unduly excitied

Ink- coffee

Jeeter- a lieutenant

Knuckle Buster- a crescent wrench

Let Her Eat- drive ar full speed

Maggie's Drawers- a red flag used on a rifle range to inidcate a miss

North Dakota Rice- hot cereal

Old Issue- an old soldier

Prop Wash= an expression of disbelief

Quartermaster Gait- a step longer than the regulation thirty-inch pace

Red Leg-artilleryman

Six and 20 Tootsie- any bit of a young and enticing femininity who is responsible for a Flying Cadet returning late from a weekend leave

Tar Bucket- full dress hat

Uncle Sam's Party- payday

Valley Forge- temporary tent city in cold weather

Wing-heavy- inebriated

You're Gigged- you've been reported for violating a rule or ordinace

As always, if anyone wanders across this site and would like to see more of these posted, just leave a note! If this is your first visit, look back at my old posts for more Jive Talk!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Thoughts

I've always had mixed opinions about the modern Olympics. On the one hand, you have to admire the dedication of the atheletes involved, whether they win a medal or not. The sacrifice and pain they must put up with dwarfs anything I have attempted in the past, and deserve unflagging admiration. On the other hand, the Olympics are frequently a political statement on the merits of one form of government or another, and the concept of "fair competition" between rich and poor countries is often questionable. There is also the arguement of "the money could be better spend doing....(fill in the blank)", but I've never really subscribed to that one, as it tends to belittle anything that isn't absolutely pragmatic, and I think humans gain their quality of life and identity through how they manage their non-pragmatic stuff (art, love, purely investigative science, etc.)

Here's a thought that surfaced this weekend. How about having an Olympic games founded soley on playground games? We could have Olympic Red Rover competition, or "line tag" (I don't know how many people played that one-you need a tennis court where the players have to stick to the lines when they move, but are considered "safe" when standing on an intersction of lines). How about Olympic "What time is it Mr. Wolf"? If you never played that, the "it" person is the "wolf", and the players advance slowly behind him/her asking "What time is it Mr. Wolf?" The "wolf" answers 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, etc. until they think the line of players is close enough to "tag" one of them, when they scream "It's lunch time", and turn around and run at the screaming hordes behind them. I love picturing a group of Olympic hammer-throwers running away while shreiking at the tops of their lungs.

There are enough playground games for a winter Olympics too. Olympic "king of the hill" is a natural, along with Olympic snowball fights and Olympic snowman knock-down (how long does it take you to knock down another kid's snowman?). I remember kids spending their entire winter recesses trying to roll the largest snow-ball they could make, often rolling one or more kids under the mammoth snow-ball as they went.

I forsee "Nerf" being a major sponsor of the games, and host nations introducing their own country's kids games as demonstration sports. I oould easily identify with a marble-shooter more than a decathelete, and enjoy watching the laughter of thwe kid rolled down the snow-hill more than the distress of the sprinter who lost a medal by 1 1/100's of a second.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Better Than Awesome moments!

Once in a while I like to think back to those moments where I gained a temporary or passing victory of some kind, but which has since, gained a signifigance far beyond the implications of the actual event. On other words, life's greatest moments. Here's a sampling.

This year: I was sitting in Chicago's O'Hare airport, waiting out a 2.5 hour layover. It was during the lunch hour, so I had plenty of time to burn off by sitting down and having lunch somewhere. I selected one of the ubiquitious restaurants that seem to breed in airports these days (I think it was called "Chili's" or something like that). I ordered a lunch from the menu and a beer. The waitress asked me for some ID before she would bring me my beer. I'm 47 years old, and I was "carded". That was the best beer I ever tasted.

Flash back to High School (grade 10 I believe). I don't know how many people have a personal tormentor in school, but I'd suspect it's probably more common than the "High school is the best time of your life" set would admit to. Mine was a gap-toothed little troglodite with a permenent scowl who, before I even knew who the heck he was, started calling me the word to suggest my sexual preferences lay within my common gender. Now please understand, when I went to High School, suggestions of homosexuality were the worst kind of epithet. While it wasn't true in my case, I found out that I had to endure regular snide comments by this little troll who apparently just didn't like my looks (for this I also gained somewhat of an appreciation for the torment that gays and lesbians have had to deal with over the years....not a total appreciation, mind you , but this little sampling was sickening enough for me). I wasn't a kid prone to fighting (the thought of it quite frankly scared me), so I tried the "avoidance" technique, which occasionally worked, but which also occasionally left me lurching away with hunched shoulders after another verbal tirade. Well, one day in a gym class, our "teacher" (gym teachers always seemd to be Vince Lombardi wannabees, ignoring the general physical health of the masses, to pander to the jocks of the group) had us divide up for a game of flag football. To make a lengthening story short, I found myself lined up against the troglodite, who instantly started promising humiliation beyond my wildest dreams. The first time he charged at me, I raised both arms and smashed the little bugger in the chops. I still remember walking back to our side's "huddle", to the congratulations of my side's guys. as the little toad writhed in the dirt. Just as a post-script, I think he's a cop now. Take from that what you will.

Primary school. I remember (vaguely) making a clay figure of an Ankylosaurus ( a 4-legged plant eater with a hard shell on it's back and a club at the end of it's tail-kind of like a cross between a rhino and a tank). I was REALLY big on dinosaurs as a kid, and while other kids were dreaming of being pilots or cowboys, I was dreaming of being a Paleontologist. Anyway, I remember making my little clay Ankylosaurus, and my teacher being so impressed I was asked to take it to the Principal's office to show the Principal himself. Now aside from the chance to linger outside of class, I was also able to show up the Principal, who had no idea what an Ankylosaurus was. I remember starting to doubt the intelligence of adults at that time as well. I still do.

Other little victories:

-the first time I got a haircut I wanted (Beatles) rather than the one my parent's wanted (mental patient)

-when I beat my best buddy in a game of badminton (he always beat me in everything, up to then)

-being called the "coolest guy ever" by a girl I had the hots for

-winning a Mexican yodelling contest in a Caribbean resort

Notice than none of these include things like "getting my degree" or "buying my house". I guess the sweetness of the Better Than Awesome moment is in the brevity and personal nature of the event.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dream a little dream with me

Dreaming is something , they tell us, we all do, whether we remember them or not. People have tried to interpret dreams for centuries, with varying results. Some, I think, are fairly obvious. I remember I used to dream about tornados fairly frequently. The dreams had different settings (a field, a road, etc.) but all had the same sequence. I would start off, travelling through an open countryside, when I saw the start of a tornado in the distance. As I ran and searched for shelter, the tornado would form and come right towards me. For all but the last two dreams, I was just about to find shelter (a gully, a basement, etc.) as the tornado was upon me, and I would wake up just before I found out if I was safe or was sucked off to Oz. The second last time I had a tornado dream, I was able to open a door and start down a flight of stairs before the tornado hit. The door shook violently, but I felt fairly safe. The last time I ever had a tornado dream, I found shelter and was deep in a safe basement, with other people I didn't recognize. By the time the tornado hit, I felt calm and safe.

I used to have another, very weird dream all the time. I always started the dream in the basement of a house, and would start to explore the house room by room. As I explored, I felt a growing sense of threat and unease. The dream would always end just as I was opening a door, and my nerves were screaming at me not to do it. I would sometimes have this dream more than once a night. The weird thing was, if I did something in the first dream, like move an object, the object was in it's new location in the second dream. I had these for a number of years as well, and I knew they were almost over when I had one dream that had me looking up a spiral staircase into the light. I wasn't out of the house yet, but I knew I was close. The second last dream I knew I was on the ground floor of the house and about to get out. I still explored rooms, but mainly out of curiosity. I remember one had a bunch of Asian monks, hovering cross-legged in front a black board, in a room that looked like a school room. I remember thinking, in my dream "no that's not it." This particular dream sequence ended literaly, with me walkong out of the door and into a grassy field. I remember looking back and seeing a red-painted wood-frame house. There was one more brief dream after this one, where I set the house on fire and said to myself "I had to do this".

Most of my dreams, however, are of the weird and amusing kind. Recently I dreamt I was the host of a local public-broadcast talk show. My first episode didn't go so well, as it was based in the small appliance department of a store, and I had no guests to talk to. For my second episode, I switched locations to a small coffee shop, located in an old house. The house had a number of shelves with small china figurines in it. My guest was Tom Petty, and I remember clearly asking Tom how a creative person got their ideas. Tom proceeded to demonstrate, by putting on a cloth octopus costume and prancing around the room as he spoke. I remember watching ceramic oraments flying as Tom pranced from side to side, including a little ceramic cowboy's head with a cowboy hat being crushed under his feet. As you can imagine, the episode was a hit.

Another dream I just had last night featured myself in Las Vegas. For some reason I was wearing a long hair extention from the back of my head. It was ponytail, about an inch and a half thick. It was obviously an extention, as it was red and my natural hair colour is greying-brown. I clearly remember whacking people with the end of my pony-tail as I walked past them. If they confronted me, I would hold the end of the pony-tail under my nose, like a false moustache, and in a phoney English accent, would say "My dear chap I don't know what you are talking about." Of course, no-one saw through my ruse.

I would have to say that probably 90% or more of the dreams I can remember are of the variety of the last two I have mentioned. Bizarre. Oddly entertaining. And probably entirely without deeper meaning, except the definite possibility that my mind is happily warped.

Unless Tom Petty actually does prance around in a cloth octopus costume when he's writing songs. If anyone can confirm this, I would be greateful.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Better Than Munsteriffic Monster Bash '08

If anyone reads this fairly regularly, then you know I'm a HUGE fan of the classic horror and science fiction movies of the 30's-50's. This year I again attended the fabulous Monster Bash in Butler, Pennsylvania, and had a FANTASTIC time. Here are some highlights:

Meeting neat people! The guest list was fairly heavy with TV personalities, including Pat Priest, who played Marilyn on The Munsters (pictured here, with yours truely!!) She's not only a great person, but she had some great stories of working on the show. Apparently, Fred Gwynne (Herman) LOVED the old "Munstermobile", and at one point decided to drive it off the lot, while in full Herman makeup, and toodle around the streets of Los Angeles for a while. I'd have LOVED to have seen that.

Meeting great things! Also pictured are my run-ins with the original Audrey plant, used in the Broadway version of the Little Shop of Horrors. There were a couple of guys from "Muppet Labs" there too, and they showed how to work their creation. The last picture is of a major movie star in it's day, and a co-star of Steve McQueen. Yep, someone brought the original "Blob" (pictured in it's luxury bucket). I was hoping to be able to wear it on my head for a picture, but it's a bit of a senior citizen Blob these days, and doesn't handle too well.

Meeting great fans! Cudos to all the people who run and attend this event. Even being a foreigner, I never felt like I wasn't 100% welcome at all times. An event like this attracts a certain demographic, the people who grew up during the late 50's to early 70's, when monster movie's were the staple on TV, and there was a sizable industry of monster models, trading cards and magazines (specifically Famous Monsters of Filmland-thank you Uncle Forry!!)It seems like we all had the same experience growing up; waiting for the weekly late-night horror movie to come on, reading about the filsm, building the Aurora plastic model kits. Now we're "grown up", but we're all still "monster kids" at heart.

Speaking of regular family attending this event has a son who requires quiet a bit of costly medical attention.The Bash hosted a charity auction of better-than-awesome pictures, posters, toys and books, raised almost $5000.00 for this family. Monster kids stick together!

Final thought-as much as I like the convenience of my DVD player, I sort of miss the days when all you could do was look forward to seeing a classic movie being played on the Chiller Thriller movie on a Saturday night. Seeing a favorite film listed in the TV guide was like findign a nugget of gold, and the anticipation made the experience, well, better than awesome. I'm really glad I was able to experience that!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Random Thoughts-Company Weirdness

Working in a call-centre based industry is probably more common than most people want to admit. From what I've seen, the biggest advantage is the endless supply of material that should one day become the basis for a very successful Fringe Festival play. The only problem is, few people will believe that it could possibley be true. here's a few examples and you tell me if you think things like this can exist outside of a Dilbert cartoon.

Episode 1-Stressed for success. A supervisor is told by a Manager that his call centre representative is supposed to dial through a certain group of phone numbers on a certain project, in this case, attain a dialing rate of 40 numbers per hour. Now, normally, one dials phone numbers on a project in order to contact people, which this call centre rep. did. In fact, the rep. was quite good at their job, and was able to make a number of successful calls in this time. However, since successful calls actually slow down the dialing rate, the rep. didn't manage to dial those 40 numbers that were asked for. I think yo know what came next...the Supervisor was scolded for NOT DIALING THE 40 NUMBERS. "What went wrong?" the Manager asked. "We were successful" the Supervisor explained. "Well..." the Manager mused "you should have called the numbers"

Episode 2-What's the message. Call centre staff can call into an office voice-mail to communicate any attendance issues. The voice-mail message begins by saying...."don't leave a back later to speak to someone". This is a rather lengthy message, and most people hang up before they hear the proviso " are calling early in the morning for the daytime shift" Daytime representatives were calling the attendance line, hearing the first part of the recording, and not leaving messages. The solution to the problem? The unimaginative would say something ridiculously simple like....CHANGE THE MESSAGE!!! But no, this is a business. The centre spent weeks re-training their reps to ....IGNORE THE MESSAGE.

Episode 3-Don't go breakin' my heart. Staffing a call centre is always a difficult task, as the work tends to be repetitive and staff turnover is ridiculously high. So when a big project comes in, the push to "ramp up" quickly always causes some panicky and irational. There was the project where we "NEEDED" 20 people a day to call through "20,000" phone numbers. We ramped. We trained. We somehow found 20 bodies to call on the project. When it was finally launched.....oops, did I say 20,000?? I meant 2,000.(This from a 'senior" staff member) Of course there's always the "hours blitz", to try to encourage staff to add and extend their shifts, only to be told part way through that they are no longer needed. Finally there's the "bonus frenzy". wherein Supervisors earn their annual bonus through encouraging staff to add or extend their shifts. the most recent one was announced tothe Supervisors like this. Management: We're going to start our "bonus frenzy", so for the next little while you'll need to really encourage staff to add shifts" Supervisors: "great, when does it start?" Management: "TWO DAYS AGO"!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Co-op Story Time

As usual, bolded text is A.G., plain text is mine. Hope you enjoy it!

Walking down the rainy streets, the man pondered his problem. He had won a new lawnmower in the hardware store raffle. He really hoped to win the Hibachi, as he lived in an apartment, and had no use for a lawnmower. But is was such a great lawnmower! One of those riding models with the little padded seat that fit oh so snug! So here he was, walking the streets, wondering if he should sell the lawnmower or buy a lawn.

Passing a small restaurant, he happened to glance into the window and was shocked by what he saw.

His mailman and his neighbor, Miz Greely, were seated together at a booth, locked in a disturbingly public embrace. However lewd this was, it was not nearly as shocking as what lay upon the table in front of them. The mailman and Miz Greely's flailing limbs knocked the shocking item to the floor in their passion.

It lay on the rug, waiting to be noticed.

He stepped over the odd apparition and stepped out the door. This day was getting more and more complicated all the time. After stretching his calves and thighs, he laced up his jogging shoes and started to trot down the street. Little puffs of steam seeped between his teeth in short bursts, and he couldn't resist saying "chuff chuff chuff...woo woooo" like a choo choo train. Eventually he was forced to stop, as his route led him through a doorway and into the public library. Stopping in the periodicals section, he was forced to stare at the man behind the desk.

He looked just like Ryan Stiles!

He reached out fotr a kiss, but only managed to embrace an armful of air. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Miz Greely dashed up and executed a full body check, then proceeded to rip off her clothes and writhe around on the floor. Soon she was peacefully asleep.

He who looked like Ryan Stiles prodded her inert form with his shoe.

Just then it jerked...once, twice, three times, then it lay dormant. "This shoe just isn't doing the trick" said the Ryan Stiles look-alike. Quickly exiting, he jumped into his car and drove to the mall. "There must be a shoe store in here somewhaere", he said out loud to no person in particular. However, after 30 minutes of searching, all he could find were several clothing stores, a drug store, a grocery store and a Radio Shack. Remembering he needed batteries, he trotted, stork-like, into the store.

The clerk greeted him with a strange, knowing smile and said..."hello".

"Hello?", he replied. A strange, knowling silence fell between them....and so did, also a ceiling tile. Upon the ceiling tile was perched...the mailman! He had overheard everything!

The clerk burst into tears.

It was the end of a very weird day for the clerk. First there was no hot water in the apartment, then the battery was dead in the car, finally the strangeness that just occured. But thing smay be looking up, the clerk thought, viewing the newspaper ad proclaiming:

"Riding Lawn Mower for sale"

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Random Observations

1-Awesome girlfriend and I were in a craft store last week so she can stock up on beads for her Awesome beading hobby. Amongst the thousands of beads was something called the "rainbow" selection. The colours: Black, White and Clear.

2-Running Emo. Observed on a city street: an EMO youth (dressed in retro Elvis Costello style glasses, EMO pants and thin-brimmed hat), ran south down P. Highway, passing A.G. (again, awesome girlfriend). Running Emo changed direction, and ran north, again passing A.G. Running Emo flags down a city bus going north between stops. Running Emo gets off the same bus after one stop, and proceeds to run south again, past A.G. Running Emo appears at A.G.'s store the next day to buy a table. If this were the 50's Disney would do a "Real Live" documentary on the mysterious Running EMOs.

3-My workplace ran a "spirit week" to improve morale, in conjunction with an "hours blitz" to encourage employees to add more hours. They also chose this week to cut employee hours and reduce shifts, following the heroic corporate strategy of "retention through reduction".

4-Whatever happened to Tony's van from "Who's the Boss"? Unlike the General Lee or the Batmobile, the rusty blue van never made it as a model kit, or featured in a board game.

5-Whatever happened to board games based on popular TV shows? You used to be able to rush out and "play" Charlies Angels or Night Rider.

To be continued.....

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The On-going Arguement-Burton vs. Axl

At this point I'd like to share an on-going arguement I have been having with someone at work. It's about the relative merits and drawbacks of two recording artists; Burton Cummings and Axl Rose. Now these two performed different types of rock music at different times, and appeal to much different audiences, so the arguement hasn't been as much about their individual musical styles as much as the advisability of being a fan of each of them. Musical tastes aside, my co-worker (who shall remain nameless, though if she reads this blog she'll know who I'm talking about....I'll refer to her as "SUE", for the sake of continuity) continually expresses a revulsion for all things Burton, late of the Guess who and his own solo career, while simultaneously demonstrating never-ending loyalty to Axl Rose, late of Guns n-apostrophe Roses. Apparently this un-named co-worker despises Burton for his frequent demonstrations of immense ego and self-adoration, while finding these same traits "cute" in one Axl Rose. I'd just like to take a few minutes to demonstrate why I feel I'm right and "SUE" is tragically suffering some form of self-delusion, probably caused by over-exposure to the derivative rusted-brake-drum squeals of Mr. Rose. So here is my "Top Ten" list of reasons why Burton is better than Axl:

1) Burton reminds us to "Stand Tall". If you asked him if you could fall, he would strenuously insist that you do NOT fall, and for God's sake, don't go do something foolish.

2) Burton has been featured prominently in a series of guerilla-artist posters (pictured above) again reminding us to "Stand Tall", giving him immense "street cred".

3) Burton has played with Ringo Starr's All-Starrs. I believe he performed "Stand Tall" for his solo performance.

4) Burton is part-owner of a burger joint called Salisbury House. He even has appeared in commercials, reminding us that his burgers use "fresh baked buns".

5) Burton has the coolest "rock out" face ever. He looks like he's trying to dis-gorge a half-eaten baked potato, but he's really just into the music.

6) Burtons' classic "American Woman" can be played as a rock anthem or as a bluesey acoustic piece. No matter how you play it, it's a great tune

7) Burton looks amazingly like my buddy Steve, who cannot sing, but certainly can "Stand Tall".

8) Burton knew enough to give up acting after filming Melanie, which, as far as I know, has NEVER been released onto DVD, VHS or even Beta format.

9) Burton likes wearing Felix the Cat T-shirts, who, as we must remember, was a "wonderful wonderful cat".

10) Burton has "his own way to rock"!

Letters to Celebrities

One thing I have never done is write a letter to a celebrity. Part of that has to do with the fact that there are few, if any, living celebrities I actually want to communicate with. I don't really know what's going on in celebrity's lives, and they more than likely have little idea of mine. So what do fans actually write to their favorite celebrities? Requests for autographs, certainly, maybe a picture or two, and sometimes requests for items to be donated to a celebrity auction. All fine requests, but none of them really, oh, vital information or questions that the celebrity truly needs to know.

Personally, if I were to write to a celebrity, I would probably end up writing something that I thought was terribly important they know. Possibly something they have been kept in the dark over for a number of years, and would be grateful to receive my illumination. Most of all, something written to a celebrity who, in my mind, probably owes me a reply for the service I'm about to provide to them! Here's an example of something I might write to that rock-and-roll vagabond, Elton John:

Dear Mr. John,

I'd just like to say how much I've enjoyed your clever song "Saturday Night (is appropriate for fisticuffs)". It's quite up-tempo, and never fails to entertain, especially the way you correctly spell the word "Saturday". Or is that the Bay City Rollers? Anyway, I thought you'd like to know of a rather shocking trend that I have observed lately. While your song clearly refers to a specific day of the week, it is often played on radio stations on other days!! Yes, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I have had the misfortune of listening to my car radio on a Wednesday, and heard your "Saturday" song played quite clearly in defiance of the calendar. Perhaps you need to call these stations and correct them? One was in Minot, North Dakota. I can't remember which, but I'm sure you can look them up in a phone book, available at your local library.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll respond to this letter, as it's coming from Canada, and since your partner is Canadian, I'm sure you'll express your gratitude with a personal reply. Please continue to write those clever tunes!! I'm sure you'll become a great success!! Yours Truly....etc. etc.

As you can see the information I would give is clearly vital to the celebrity in question. I think I'll have to go to my local library and look up his home address.

In conclusion: Your local library. A vital resource worthy of your support!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Awesomeness in Cheap Packages

Here's a topic I hope people will contribute to on this blog. To me, there's something extra awesome about the cheap, temporary or unpretentious. Places or things that bring you endless joy, despite the fact that it was never intended to be much more than a quick diversion. For example, people "like" going to fancy restaurants, but they treasure their favorite "dive". I think most of us would rather drink coffee from one of those old white half-inch thick cafeteria cups than out of fine china, and eat foods named after people ("try the Big Ned burger!!!") than dine on haute cuisine.

Really, which gives you greater joy....a high tech gadget costing hundreds of dollars, or the toy you found inside your "Kinder egg"?

It's this kind of joy that always brings me back to those heroically cheesey "horror" movies of the past. Pictured is an example: "Monster on the Campus". I missed the age when you could go to a theater or Drive-in and actually watch these treasures in first-run, but I can still get a kick out of the seedy audacity of their claims. "Co-ed beauty captive of man-monster"! Why just the sheer density of hyphenated characters virtually guarantees a great time! Of course, the real movie was no-where near as lurid or exciting as the poster, but that was part of the fun too.

There's one movie experience I DO miss though. Back in the 50's, a movie producer and director named William Castle raised this brand of cheesey showmanship to it's zenith. His movies almost always included the promise of some kind of new "special screen sensation", guaranteed to shock and amaze the theater-goer. Among these was "Emerge-O" where the "monster" comes RIGHT OUT OF THE SCREEN AT YOU!!!! AAAAAAHHHH!!!

O.K., so it was really just an inflated skeleton on a wire. The point is, Castle made you curious enough to want to go see it!! I personally think his best gimmick was for a movie called "The Tingler", wherein Castle had selected seats in each movie theater wired to deliver a shock at a pivotal moment in the movie! (It was actually a scene where the hero , Vincent Price of course, God bless him!!!, runs into a movie theater on-screen and shouts "the Tingler is loose in this theater...scream....SCREAM FOR YOUR LIVES!!!" At that point the lights would go off in the REAL theater, and selected patrons got juiced (and goosed!)!! Wonderful!!

Oh sure, modern movies have better special effects. They have bigger budgets. But there's NOTHING, in my mind, that would have matched the entertainment factor of that movie theater. A "cheap package"? Definitely. Complete Awesomeness? Absolutely!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Enter....The Flying Guy!!

I've just seen the coolest guy in the world. Last night, when my girlfriend and I were driving out of her apartment block parking lot, we were witness to the coolest guy EVER! As we paused to check for traffic, a middle-aged white male, wearing a long-sleeved pullover shirt, arced gracefully in front of our car. Arms boldly swept backwards in the hyper-efficient delta-wing formation, the man trotted gracefully down the street. Weaving from one side of the street to the other, this latter-day Icarus banked left, then right, then left again. His legs pumping, the Flying Guy maintained the serious demeanor of a 747 pilot landing his jumbo jet on a slippery runway in the middle of a thunderstorm. He glanced only briefly at us, before he whisked himelf away down the street.

Flying guy didn't say anything. His performance would only have been cheapened by uttering "vroom vroom" sounds. Instead, with total seriousness, Flying Guy briefly touched our lives and our hearts, before banking left down the dusty, sun-dappled street.

To say he brought a smile to our faces would be an understatement. Neither of us wanted to laugh at Flying Guy. Instead, we both felt a surge of child-like joy, and not a small degree of envy, for the brave street-pilot who careened in and out of our lives that lovely spring evening!

We aren't sad, though, as Flying Guy is now a part of our lives!! Walking down the street this afternoon, I took the opportunity (and the dare!) to replicate some of Flying Guy's manouvers. I may not have been as graceful, and I certainly wasn't as serious as our featherless flyer, but I surely compensated with enthusiasm!!

So, if the world is getting you down, your boss dumped on you, you hate your job, your left-over spagetti sauce grew mold in the back of your fridge...whatever! Just lean your arms back in that delta-wing shape and go for a quick flight. Trust me, it's the cheapest form of therapy you'll evern have.

Thank you , Flying Guy!!!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Better Than Awesome website-old Canadian TV shows

Continuing what seems to be a theme of recalling old Canadian TV shows, recently the love of my life and I found the following link to a GREAT website:

It's not an exhaustive source, but it features some references to TV shows I had forgotten I had even seen. Shows like "Harrigan" (B & W photo), a kid's show featuring a somewhat demented-looking leprechaun who liked to sing-spell his name at the opening credits ("H-A-double-R-I....G-A-N spells Harrigan!!"). It was remarkable for it's cheesiness: Harrigan would prance about in front of a chromakey screen, squatting on poorly-rendered "toadstools", playing his clarinet and sharing stories and songs designed to force the young viewer to finally turn off the TV and switch to their homework for a welcome respite. Harrigan, like most "whimsical" children's entertainers, always kind of frightened me with the intensity of his desire to magically charm the viewer. It was kind of like watching "Lucky" from the Lucky Charms box trying to shake off a sugar high from too many yellow stars and purple horseshoes.

The site also includes references to that after-school classic "The Edison Twins". This eighties foray into "edu-tainment" features a pair of plucky twins and their unfortunate-looking younger brother. They would solve neighborhood mysteries like "who polluted the pond?" and "where did all the ferrets go?" through carefully considered applications of scientific principles (hence, the "Edison" part). I don't really remember too many of these episodes, except for one where dog whistles were used to solve the mystery-du-jour. Actually, I think dog-whistles featured in most of the episodes for some reason. The highlight of the show (and this web site) was the catchy neon-themed opening credits, featuring the eighties-appropriate twins dancing and rolling to one of the catchiest themes ever. To give you an idea of the impact the show had on young minds, I was recently told that some graffitti was spotted in the basement of a local old heritage building, the graffitti being the neon outlines of the Edison Twins as they were caught in mid-frolic.

Of course, the site wouldn't be complete without a couple of references to Canada's version of Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin put together, "The Littlest Hobo". Hobo was a German Shepard who travelled the highways and biways of Canada, stopping in his travels only to help a stranded orphan or some other deserving soul defeat a nefarious evil-doer (though never with a dog-whistle...can't blame him for that). I always thought the show was a little cruel, myself. At the end of each episode, Hobo would have been put through the ringer, usually having needed to jump into a waterfall or bite the tires off a moving Semi to foil the villians' plans. The show would usually wrap with a soulful-looking character asking a fellow survivor "Hobo looks lost....can we keep him?" As Hobo would look back expectantly hoping for a bed, a meal or even a stray milk-bone, the fellow survivor would usually say "no....his place in on the road!!" Thanks bozo! "The Littlest Hobo" had an even catchier theme than the Edison Twins did, which of course you can view in this site. Keep an eye out for the opening-credit scene where Hobo is carrying a high-powered hunting rifle!!! Apparently there was an episode where there Hobo came across ingrate too many!! A milk bone?? Can you spare it, sport?? Well, here's Hobo's response!! **kapow**

Monday, February 18, 2008

Better Than Awesome Valentine's day present

Hey folks,

Pictured is one of the best Val's Day presents I'm able to post on a website-The NEW Celebrity Cooks Cookbook, featuring Beachcombing uberstar from the CBC in the 70's and early 80's, Bruno Gerussi!! Many Canadian visitors will fondly remember the long-running CBC TV show "The Beachcombers", featuring the aforementioned Mr. Gerussi as Nick Adonidas, gold-chain adorned "beachcomber" off the west coast, scrounging for the perfect log to drag back to the lumbermill for that juicy finders fee (which was never really stated in the show...was he paid cash? gold chains? tank tops? Nick always had plenty of the latter two, so I'd guess either or both are safe bets). Nick was always in competition with his rascally old beachcombing rival "relic", played by veteran Canadian actor Robert Clothier. Relic was always a bit of a mess, and no matter how hard he tried to swoop down and make off with Nick' was always confounded, and often left drifting off to apparent doom with his boat out of gas and possibly a rabid sea lion chomping at his rudder. The show was on for about 75 years, and it gained a pretty good following, due to it's jaunty theme and the fact that, for a CBC show, it wasn't that bad.

Fewer may remember that Bruno Gerussi had a spin-off series that made up for the overall quality of The Beachcombers. "Celebrity Cooks" was a half-hour show that featured Bruno hosting a variety of 70's-era "celebrities", who always tended to be either Pete Barbuti, Orson Bean or Nanette Fabray. Of course, this was a Canadian show, so it also featured the likes of John Allen Cameron, Toller Cranston and Ed Broadbent (only in Canada is the leader of the "third" poltical party considered a celebrity. Come to think of it, compared to a lot of our new politicians, ol' Ed was pretty much on the ball). Bruno was the proud overseer of a magnificently almond-themed studio "kitchen", where he would entertain his guests by imbibing large quantities of wine and looking verile. This book (published in 1979!) is one of the progeny of that show, and I have to admit, aside from the nostalgia aspect of reading Marty Allen's Moussaka recipe, some of the items in there look pretty good. Here's a sample:

Wilf Carter's Crisp Corn Flap Jacks

1 1/3 cups white corn meal
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
2 cups buttermilk
1-2 eggs

In a bowl, mix corn meal, salt, baking soda and flour. Cut into this, with a pastry blender (?!?), the butter and beat in buttermilk and eggs. Stir this occasionally, but don't overbeat. Cook on a very hot griddle (a drop of water should bounce and splutter). Spoon the batter on to the griddle and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn only once. Serve hot with maple syrup.

Now if Wilf Carter's Flap Jacks don't sound down-home good enough, the fact the word "splutter" is part of the recipe has to make this one of the best Flap Jack recipes ever! Just saying the name "Flap Jack" fills me with a wholesome warmness that's practically immoral in it's deliciousness. I don't remember ever having seen this particular episode, but I'm sure Wilf (with his Col. Saunders down-south long-ended bow tie and big white hat) and Bruno Gerussi (with his glass of wine and abundant chest hairs) must have been a magnificant culinary combination.

If you try this recipe, please reply to this blog! I'm sure Wilf won't let you down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Story time part deux

If anyone read and enjoyed the first "co-op" story that I posted here, get ready because here's another one! And if you didn't like it, well, go away for a while because here's another one....but come on back!! Again, it's the game where one persons starts writing a story, and the next has only the last sentence to build on.

Bob and the Purple Lady (again, bolded segments are my amazing beautiful girlfriend's contributions, the other junk is mine!!)

Bob the astronaut was proud of his profession. Proud that he was part of a very small group of scientists and technicians to have left the earth's atmosphere. Proud in his role in the building of the international space station now orbiting the planet. But most of all, Bob was proud of his space suit. Bob wore it the base, to the grocery store, to the bowling alley. many people thought Bob was obsessed with his spacesuit. And they were probably right. Bob probably would have continued tobe obsessed with the shiney whiteness of his space suit for years.

Until he saw....her!!

Then, all else ceased to matter to him. her purple, sparkley gown, her white and purple hair, her revolving scalp, her vacant smile. he stood, mesmerized as she approached him.

"Excuse me, but could you please tell me how to get to the laundromat?" She asked.

"Uum" he said

Then silence

He woke up several hours later. Looking around, he discovered that he was lying naked in a field, among a herd of dairy cows. "Holsteins" he said to himself, ironically. Weaving a pair of maekshift shorts from an assortment of grasses, he made his way towards the mooing herd towards a farm house. "I may look suspicious" he thought to himself. "I'd better divert the home owners with a clever ruse"> Locating a tire swing, he grabbed the end of a rope and climbed to a high branch in the tree. With a yell of "Aaaaeeeeyyaaaaahh" he beat his chest and swung towards a window.

In a flurry of glass and smashed window pane, he hurtled into the house.

The purple goddess followed, carefully avoiding the pointy shards. They dashed into the bedroom and began to rip off their clothes, and stuff them into a laundry bag.

They stood, coolly, regarding each others nakedness

"We really are naked" he said. The moment lasted approximately seven minutes before he reached for the kilt that lay on the floor beside him. Strappingon the kilt and adjusting the sporrin in the front, he yelled "Och" and raced out the door.

Bystanders stood shocked as the kilted figure loped down the street. racing for a phone booth, he frantically called the operator, and asked to be connected to The Embassy. Upon hearing The Embassy staffer say "Hello?", he recited the code that all operatives were required to learn. "Oooh Eee Ooh Ah Ah" he chimed. "Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing bang" the voice responded, just before the line went dead. In less than ten minutes a black limosine with tinted windows drew alongside the phone booth.

Getting into the car, he was shocked to find himself seated next to...

strong>>... an invisible snowman! All that he could see was a carrot bobbing around in the space in front of the headrest, as the snowman prattled on excitedly about the very lucky day he had been having. "First I found a dollar on the ground, and then TWO dollars, then a sandwich which tasted AWESOME. And THEN..."

The car abruptly pulled away from the curb

"Well, I didn;t expect that"> He remarked. Luckily the car deposited him in front of a convenience store. "Finally", he thought, "I can get a bag of Ketchup-flavoured potato chips, and maybe a can of Tahiti Treat." Striding manfully through the store, he quickly located the chips, drink, and one of those little car deodorizers shaped like a pine tree. Clutching his bounty to his chest, he slipped out into the cool night air.

Looking up at the stars, he asked himself "could this be the end of my adventure?"

He was once again surrounded by broken glass, having been smashed throught the windshield of the car upon impacting the mailbox. He had forgotten all about the purple goddess, although the snowman was bleeding invisibly all over the road, soaking everything in sight. As he began spiralling upward toward the brillian stars, he changed his mind. His adventure was just beginning.<strong>

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Signs of the northern climes

Random thought time. Here's a few words or phrases that will identify someone who lives in a northern climate every time (kind of a "you know you're a redneck..." theme, but in this case "you know if you're frostbit..."). Here's a few phrases that will always identify a northerner (strangely enough, most to do with driving conditions).

"What's the windchill?"
"Did you plug in the car?"
"I need a boost"
"I bet I can make it through that snowbank if I just give' er"
"I hope my command start will work from here"
(This one's old and not really relevant any more, but I still like it): "Nuts, the frost shield has a crack in it"
"Oh great, my coat broke" (not torn.....broke)

I think people who live in northern climates take a kind of perverse pleasure out of telling anyone who will listen about the extremes they work through. To tell the truth, I kind of like many parts of winter, except the -40C stuff, which makes me want to call in sick until may and try to live off of "Chicken Delight" delivery. I have to admit, the long nights and endless putting on and taking off of boots, parkas, mitts, touques, scarves and polar fleece get very tiring after a while. What makes it all worthwhile, however, is how you feel when you get the first warmish day of spring. When you step outside and realize you don't have to hunch your shoulders against the cold....birds are singing, snow is melting in rivulets down the street. It's still probably -10C, but you don't care, because by comparison it's semi-tropical. The charge you get out of realizing that winter is over is what it must feel like to get out of jail, or maybe an Adam Sandler movie. It's pure bliss, and everyone and everything you come into contact with is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. Spring. Forget what the calendar says, in this neck of the woods it's only 3 and a half months away. What's that number for Chicken Delight again?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jive Talk Part 2

A few months ago when I started this blog, I included some references to a 1940's era giveaway called ther Hepcats Jive Talk Dictionary! I posted some of the references, and said I'd post some more...well, here we go. Enjoy!

Abercrombie- a know it all
Artillery- baked beans
Barbeque- a beautiful girl
Beagle- a frakfurter
College- jail
Crunchy- the pavement
Dickeroo- a policeman
Dreambox- your head
Exodust- to flee
Eye- a detective
Feelers- your fingers
Flippers- your ears
Gammin- to strut
Goola- a piano
Headache- the wife
Homey-someone from your home town (see, it's not that new!!)
Icky-conservative person
Ivories- dice or piano keys ("tickle the ivories on the Goola, Jack!")
Jackson- form of salutation
Jiver- hepcat who knows the ropes
Kicks- a pair of shoes
Kong- an inferior drink
Leaky- one who talks too much
Lip- an attorney
Make-to win the affections of the opposite sex
Muggin- to make facial gestures/ or attack
Napoleon- one with grandiose ideas
Nurse- a stingy person
Oats- enthusiasm
Oiler- a fighter
Package- a girl
Phoebe- a five on a pair of dice
Righteous- perfect
Roscoe- a gun
Saw- a mean landlady
Smackeroo- a kiss
Tickeration- strutting exhibition
Tin- small change
Uncle- a pawnbroker
Upstairs- blue sky
Vine- suit of clothing
Vocalovely- pretty girl singer
Wolf- a male who stalks women
Wolverine- a female who stalks men
Yam- to dine
Yank- a dentist
Zowie-exclamation of approval

That's all for now-I'll do more again in a while!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Blarfier Than Awesome

Ok, this one has me stumped. Has ANYONE ever heard of a game called "Blarf?" I know, it sounds like the greatest game ever (even though it sounds like the result of a college frat party). To be honest, before my girlfriend purchased this, I had no idea this thing existed! According to the box, "Blarf" included the "challenge of Chess" with the "simplicity of checkers" and a "super dash of Fun!!" (Not just a regular dash, mind you. That's for wimpier games. "Blarf" demands no less than a "Super" dash.)

Now you're reading a blog of someone who watches old toy commercials for fun. I can sing the "Trouble" jingle backwards and forwards ("wait, don't run!")I still play Monopoly with old original wooden hotels, houses and tokens (anyone remember the egg cup? the milk bottle?) But I have NEVER seen or heard of "Blarf" before this weekend. The troublesome thing is, The name is so darn catchy, I find I am seeing and hearing "Blarf" everywhere. Smokey Robinson singing "Blarf Machine". Reading Stephen King's "Needful Blarfs". Watching "Blarf Trek" on TV. And I thought the Smurfs were bad

Better Than Awesome: co-op story writing

Want a great way to fill part of an evening in a creative, and potentially twisted way? Write a co-op story with one or more people. This isn't a really new idea, but it's a heck of a lot of fun. Each person writes a paragraph of a story, the next person only sees the final sentence and writes another paragraph, and so on. You can end it whenever you want and two or more can play. Here's a bit of weirdness my girlfriend and I created this weekend. When an author alternated, the text goes bold (I started the story, so you can see my girlfriend has all the writing talent). Each paragraph ends with the single sentence the other author saw. Hope you enjoy it!

Strongathan the strong man sat pensively. He read the pamphlet again, for the fourth or fifth time, but the words never changed. The Strawberry Girl was returning. A small salty tear traced it's way down his mighty cheek. The last time he had seen Strawberry girl was when she was stepping aboard the train with the Blue Man. Strongathan recalled the ache in his heart in watching her board the traing.

And he remembered the faint surge of hope as his eyes met Strawberry Girls one last time.

But, that time was meant to run out eventually, and it did. Time does, you know. But his skin was tingling, and he knew it was time to move on. He was a mover...and a shaker...and a rattler... a rattlesnake. A real snake in the grass, all right. But yet, his love for Strawberry was genuine enough. Her sparkling eyes set his heart aflame....but he was afraid of fire...

...yes, afraid...

And yet, he knew his wits and nudity saved him in the past. He would need to rely on them again. Picking up a branch of a tree that had been struck off by a recent lightening storm, he crept through the undergrowth that surrounded the theatre. Using his psychic powers, he willed the lock on the stage door to open, and with a creak of rusty hinges, the door opened.

Clutching the wet branch, he stepped into the darkness.

His apprehension only served to heighten his desire...for her. The darkness wrapped around him like a cloak. He made his way further and further into the darkness, and memory. Memories of happy Strawberry times, times of lightness and delight. But now, however, he had to stand in the dark and immerse himself in the darkness of his very soul. He slapped himself in the face a few times with the wet branch, in order to keep his concentration sharp.

For he had a promise to fulfill...

Packing his suitcase, he boarded the next Transatlantic flight to England. he cleared customs with little difficulty, but at some point, he misplaced his duty-free bottle of gin. Inquiries at the information desk yielded blank stares and shaking heads, which infuriated him more. "Bloody English", he thought. Still, he couldn't wait for his first breakfast of fried bread and baked beans. Calling for a cab, he sat silently as he was whisked towards London. The cabby was mercifully silent, and the ride uneventful.

Until he smelled smoke filling the back of the car.

With David Bowie warbling on the radio, he began to roll down the window, but his strength was ebbing. "Fame..." David uttered, but our hero was on the verge of unconciousness. A sweet blackness like dark chocolate, like Iman....he was beginning to hallucinate. If only he could get the window to open. Perhaps he could chew it open? Or use his unusual powers.

His powerful mind powers....

Inexplicabley failed! The women were all still wearing their clothes. Without missing a beat, he stripped off his shirts and yelled "Drop 'em ladies, your love sheik has parked his camel!" Amid the flurry of flying clothing and the shrieks of delight, an unwelcome shape rose up behind him. It was Strongathan! Looking for vengance! "Now I have you", the cross-dressing beast shouted, "and I'll show you what happens when you try to mess with a union member!" Reaching out one massive hand, he extinguised the light.

I the darkness, he waited for the end to come.

A single drop kept dripping, over and over in the corner. He attempted to align his heartbeat with the rhythm of the drip...when suddenly, david Bowie burst onto the scene, having buzzed a hole in the wall with a chainsaw. "Surprise!" he cried.

The scene evaporated in a rainbow of smootches.

As you can see, it's usually pretty silly but great fun-try it out!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Better than Awesome moments

If you ever want to feel "Better Than Awesome", try this: dancing to the Smokey Robinson/ Miracles hit "Love Machine" in your living room, with the blinds open and the lights on. If anyone can get you into the "who gives a toot" mood, it's Smokey.


Further to: annoying songs. I unfortunately remembered the "hit" by songstress Patsy Gallant, "From New York to LA" here's how it started:

In my mind there's a face
On my lips, there's a name
In my life, there's no place
For the man that I love
'Cause I'm livin' my life
Just to sing and be free
From L.A. to New York
From New York to L.A.

I suppose what makes this song less than Awesome, is the fact I remember a Canadian Content TV show on CTV that featured the one-dimensional and strangely-faced Patsy singing her "hit" at the start and finish of EVERY SHOW!!!! At the time, of course, she was neither a star in New York, L.A. nor even Medicine Hat. I still shudder at the hideous vision of somewhat boney Patsy strutting across a sound stage in Toronto, feebly trying to convince the viewers that she was "hip" and "relevant" in her sparkley disco gowns, while the rest of the world was listening to The Clash.

Ever a reason to destroy brain cells....Patsy Gallant singing "From new York to L.A."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hot News!!

For those who may enjoy my witty musings, you can now wear them on a T-shirt! Just go to: see my selection-it's not much to start with, but stock will change and the site will get better all the time! Thanks for having a look!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Madness inducing songs

Everyone at some time has had a song stuck in their head. It's often a maddening tune that you didn't pay more than a passing attention to initially, but that has flitted endlessly in your mind, like some kind of psychic border collie, drooling and leaping, saying "look at me, look at me", until you are forced to give it your full attention while it stops to inspect it's psychic privates. If you are at all squeamish about this kind of thing, I'd advise not reading further.

HOWEVER, if you have a clueless friend or aquaintence that thinks it's amusing to endlessly discharge their false teeth in public, or perform their armpit version of Ave Maria whilst visiting the Vatican, and CAN'T TAKE A HINT THAT NO-ONE IS INTERESTED....then dropping one of these musical depth charges may be the cure you are looking for. Sing the song, hum the tune, heck even just mention the names of some of these tunes, and you'll send the listener on a veritable Love Boat cruise of practical agony. Sure, it may seem a little harsh, but extreme situations call for extreme measures. Here are some of my suggestions:

The Rainbow Connection-Kermit the frog strums, we groan
The Candyman-can he?? I wish he wouldn't
The old Rice Krispies commercial-ok, this is pretty obscure, but there was an old commercial featuring the three elves singing a jazzy little number about how "Pop" makes the world go round-snappy the first time you hear it, until it's repeated for about the 400th time
The Wedding Song-by Joey Gregorash
Moody Manitoba Morning-"nothing ever never does"

There are plenty of others, so I thought I'd ask anyone who happens to read this to contribuet their own suggestions. remember-the only way to get rid of these things is to pass them on to someone else!!