Goodbye, 2009...

End of the year, end of a decade.  As I'm sure you're probably aware of.  And if not, well, um, you're an idiot.

So, when 2000 rolled around, I was still in high school, and most of my predictions about the next decade were not nearly as prophetic as I'd hoped.  For starters, I'm not the guitarist in the world's number one metal band.  Secondly, Jessica Alba is not nearly as prominent as I thought she'd be.  Also, it turns out that this blogging thing is a bit more than a "fad". 

My bad.

But, I'm older and wiser now, so I think I'll dispense some of my predictions for the next ten years:
  • Paris Hilton will attempt a comeback of some sort, and will show a brief resurgence in popularity before getting by a huge public backlash.  This will inevitably end in a high profile showdown in which Paris winds up holding a loaded pistol to Lindsay Lohan's head.  And yet, the world will move on.
  • Flying cars will finally hit the market, only to be pulled a few weeks later when little old ladies the world over discover that flying at 15 km an hour is not enough to maintain lift - after headlines scream "octogenarian crashes into strip mall; explosion kills 32" a few times, people unanimously decide that maybe traffic isn't that bad, after all. 
  • Reality TV takes things "to the edge", with shows focusing around semi-famous "celebrities" 24/7.  There will be a web-based program that follows some woman or another every minute of every day for the next year.  When her ratings begin to drop, she'll kill someone.  The judge will let things slide because "hey, I'm on TV".
  • Coca-Cola will release a new flavour, called "Diet Coke Edge" that is one part diet cola, one part energy drink, and one part engine oil. 
  • It will be discovered that some household vegetable (such as, say, celery) is a leading cause of cancer.  Then it will be discovered that the same househould vegetable actually cures cancer.  No real progress towards the cure for cancer will actually be made.
  • As for next decade's fashion... two words:  Flannel's Back. 
And that's that.  Hopefully, ten years from now, you'll all realize that I'm, like, the new Nostradamus.  Of course, good luck contacting me... I plan on being the number one guitarist in the world.  Who just happens to be married to Rachel McAdams.  Or something.

Weekly Haiku #8: Batman

If I were Batman
Robin would leave the bat cave
...but Catwoman stays


Day As Night #1: Loophole

I've been toying with doing this for some time, now.  I've been reading far too many webcomics, and I have spent long nights wondering if I had what it takes to actually do it.  Of course, I lack any sort of means of posting any artwork I created, so the idea was out of reach, for now.

Or was it? 

I got the idea rather suddenly, bolting awake at 4 am on boxing day night and rushing to my computer.  The basic joke (and the idea) was put together, though it took something like two hours to actually mesh all the sceenshots together into something that is at least somewhat aesthetically pleasing.  But, I'm pleased to present... *ahem*... Dave's first attempt at a webcomic!

Bonus props to anyone who figures out why I named the strip "Day as Night".  And an equal number of bonus props (one "prop", by the way, is worth exactly thirteen cents, and they can be redeemed in person, though there is a slight processing fee) to the first person who can identify the movie I stole borrowed the pretty pictures from. 


Fifty Years of Rock Lyrics!

This is the last "music monday" post for this decade.  Which made me realize I should probably do something special.  A sort of musical "looking back" over the past decade in music.

Unfortunately, the past decade in music kind of sucks.  So, let's look back at the last fifty years - from 1960 onwards.  And play a sort of game!  I'll post a lyric, one from each year, and you have to guess who it's by, and the title of the song.  Post your answers, and we'll see if anyone can get all 50 right.

All of the songs listed were hits, or at least were widely known.  There are no super indy songs on this list.  Most come from the ranks of pop music, rock music, or r&b.  I won't use the same band more than twice, but the same individual artists might come up a few times. A few lyrics might not be perfect copies (I'm depending on websites for the content).  Have fun!

  1. 1960:  "Do the chairs in your parlour seem empty and bare?/Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?"
  2. 1961: "Wimoweh, Wimoweh, Wimoweh, Wimoweh/Near the village, the peaceful village..."
  3. 1962: "I got up this morning turned on my radio/I was checking on the surfing scene"
  4. 1963: "Three nights and days, I sail the sea/think of girl, constantly"
  5. 1864: "And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy/and God I know I'm one"
  6. 1965: "Suddenly/I'm not half the man I used to be"
  7. 1966: "So fee-fi-fo-fum/look out baby, 'cause here I come"
  8. 1967: "Acting funny and I don't know why/excuse me while I kiss the sky"
  9. 1968: "Every day I get in the queue/to get on the bus that takes me to you"
  10. 1969: "He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola/he say 'I know you, you know me'"
  11. 1970: "On we sweep with threshing oar/our only goal will be the western shore"
  12. 1971: "You know we've got to find a way/to bring some loving here today"
  13. 1972:  "The ocean is a desert with its life underground/and a perfect disguise above"
  14. 1973: "Singing to the ocean, I can hear the ocean's roar/play for free, play for me, and play a whole lot more!"
  15. 1974:  "There was funky chinamen from funky chinatown/they were trapping them up, they were trapping them down"
  16. 1975:  "The band is just fantastic, that is really what I think/oh, by the way, which one's pink?"
  17. 1976:   "And that time over at Johnny's Place/Well, this chick got up and she slapped Johnny's Face"
  18. 1977:  "You got mud on your face/you big disgrace"
  19. 1978: "I woke up in a SoHo doorway/a policeman knew my name"
  20. 1979: "No dark sarcasm, in the classroom/teachers leave those kids alone"
  21. 1980:  "Toe to toe/dancing very close/barely breathing/almost comatose"
  22. 1981: "Just a small town girl/living in a lonely world/she took a midnight train going anywhere"
  23. 1982: "And the last known survivor/stalks his prey in the night"
  24. 1983: "You're wondering who I am (Secret secret, I've got a secret)
  25. 1984: "So don't become some background noise/A backdrop for the girls and boys"
  26. 1985: "Now she don't even know my name/But I think she likes me all the same"
  27. 1986:  "Turning and returning to some secret place inside/Watching in slow motion as you turn around and say..."
  28. 1987: "Annie are you Okay?/Are you okay, Annie?"
  29. 1988: "In every life we have some trouble/and when you worry you make it double"
  30. 1989:  "Alright stop/collaborate and listen/Ice is back with my brand new invention"
  31. 1990:  "It's been seven hours and fifteen days/Since you took your love away"
  32. 1991:  "Cause nothing lasts forever/and we both know hearts can change"
  33. 1992:  "Some of them try to rhyme/but they can't rhyme like this (go!  go!)"
  34. 1993:  "I wish I was special/you're so fucking special"
  35. 1994:  "In the time of Chimpanzees/I was a monkey"
  36. 1995:  "So please stop explaining/don't tell me cause it hurts"
  37. 1996:  "Breathe in... breathe out... tied to a wheel/fingers got to feel/bleeding through a tourniquette smile"
  38. 1997:  "When you get old and start losing your hair/can you tell me who will still care?"
  39. 1998:  "Like Kurosawa I make mad films/okay I don't make films/but if I did, they'd have a samurai"
  40. 1999:  "I wish that I could fly/into the sky/so very high/just like a dragonfly"
  41. 2000:  "I want the things that I had before/like a Star Wars poster on my bedroom door"
  42. 2001:  "And everything I can't remember/As fucked up as it all may seem"
  43. 2002:  "I wanna run through the halls of my high school/I wanna scream at the top of my lungs"
  44. 2003:  "It was a baby boy/so we bought him a toy/it was a ray gun/and it was 1981"
  45. 2004:  "A fake jamaican took every last dime with that scam/it was worth it just to learn some sleight of hand"
  46. 2005:  "Hold their dreams up to the light/the wildebeest is searching for sight/and we are not going home"
  47. 2006:  "Why don't you ask the kids at Tiananman Square?/Was fashion the reason why they were there?"
  48. 2007:  "You are not to blame for/Bittersweet distractor/Dare not speak its name/Dedicated to all human beings"
  49. 2008:  "My daddy's got a gun/my daddy's got a gun/you better run"
  50. 2009:  "Sometimes you break a finger on the other hand/Think you got me confused for a better man"

A New Law #5...

During the late autumn and winter months, individuals wearing shorts, skirts, dresses, sandals, or any other form of warm-weather clothing do not have the right to complain about being "cold".  They are allowed to stand still and shiver, but have no right to complain about just how cold they are.  Those that break this rule will be placed under house arrest until the first day of spring.

A non-hypothetical question:

Help me out here.  For Christmas, yours truly got a record player.  I love it to pieces (it can actually transfer my records to iTunes!).  I've been listening to my vinyls since I brought it home... and yes, I actually owned vinyls before ever owning a record player.  And yes, I know that's weird.  Shut up.

Anyways, my vinyl collection is rather slim - I think I have around ten - and five of the vinyls I own (six, if you count the 45) are by Jimi Hendrix.  Now, I love Jimi and all that, but I like a little bit of variety. 

I went to Ditch Records (one of my favouritest places in Victoria), looking for some additions to my collection.  And came across a couple of great ones (most of which I have in other mediums).  However, I have nowhere near enough cash to purchase them all.  This is where you come in.

Help me figure out which album to buy!  I already have some rock (Tool and A Perfect Circle), a lot of Jimi Hendrix, and (of course) Kyuss' Sky Valley.  With that in mind... which album should I pick up?  (they're all within five bucks of each other)
  • The Beatles' Abbey Road
  • The Beatles' "White Album" (yeah, the best "deal", since it's a double record)
  • Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy
  • Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (with the crappy reissue cover)
  • Radiohead's OK Computer
  • The Original Desert Sessions album (*drool*, but really, only because it's a rarity)
  • Robert Johnson's original 14 recordings (A reissue, obviously!)
Your help is greatly appreciated. 

You are what you love

One of my all-time favourite movies is High Fidelity, which I'm sure will have a blog post dedicated to it one of these days.  In case you haven't seen it, it's a movie (sort of) about guys that love music, and know everything there is to know about music trivia.  One of my favourite lines in the movie is by the main character, played by John Cusack.  I don't remember the exact line, but I can paraphrase it pretty well.

Basically, he says that the music, movies, and books we love are a reflection of who we are as people.  That the albums, books, and DVDs we own and put on display say a lot about who we are, what interests us, and what motivates our behaviour. 

Now, while in the movie the main character begins to realize that this is perhaps a poor barometer of a person's identity, I think the theory has at least a little bit of substance to it.  Someone who has a DVD shelf consisting only of blockbusters, a record collection of Top 40 hits, and purely practical books picked up through school studies, is probably going to be a rather faceless, bland person.  Someone with a DVD shelf entirely of indy films, albums consisting entirely of bands "you haven't heard of", and books entirely focused on esoteric topics - well, that person is probably an elitist indy snob.  And so on, and so forth.

Essentially, the media in our household is a shorthand people can use to figure out the basics.  You won't get all the details, mind you.  But they are still informative, which is why I think a lot of us gravitate towards those media areas when first visiting someone's home.  It's the socially-acceptable alternative to rooting through someone's medicine cabinet.

I've found that I can use this to get a quick initial impression of a person during a conversation.  Basically, all I have to do ask something like "What are your favourite movies?" and I quickly begin to build up an idea of who this person is.

If the person only lists movies of one "type" (kung fu movies, anime, and so on), it usually means he's the type of person that gets focused on one subject, and is usually rather specialized in his interests. 

If the person only lists movies made in the last few years, he may have little depth or conviction, and probably flits from subject to subject, like an A.D.D-riddled monkey.

If the person only likes blockbusters, or mass-marketed movies, I'd almost say it's a sign of stupidity, but really, it's more a sign that the person either doesn't like movies, or doesn't really make any sort of emotional connection during films.

You get the idea.  If the person only lists sci-fi, odds are there's a latent (or not so latent) geek hiding in there.  Documentaries lead to an inquisitive, rational person.  Comedies can mean the person is fairly laid-back, or doesn't really want much out of a movie besides laughter.  And so on, and so forth.

This trick doesn't get you too much information - just a quick snapshot of someone's current tastes - but it can serve as an early warning system.  If a person's three movies are composed entirely of:
  • Films that make fun of other films (such as Meet the Spartans, or Scary Movie)
  • Films that are gross-out comedies (those American Pie-type clones)
  • Films made by, or involving, any of the Wayans Brothers
...then that person is an idiot, and should be avoided. 

This is a golden rule.  Break it at your own peril.

Those movies are garbage, and even most of the people involved in their making know the films are bad.   If someone's top three list involves ONLY those movies, they are poor examples of human beings, and should probably be wearing a helmet.

Film Friday: A Christmas Classic

Well, it's Christmas time.  And it's also friday, meaning I should make a movie post.  But I don't really want to make a long-ass post, because odds are, you're too busy celebrating in various ways to actually sit down and READ a huge post about movie minutiae. 

So instead, I'll just say this:  You have to make sure you watch the best christmas movie ever made today.  And I mean, that movie that is so about Christmas that it perfectly encapsulates the Christmas spirit.  It is a movie that has become a christmas tradition in my household, and really, should be a tradition in every household.

No, I'm not talking about A Christmas Story.  What?  It's a Wonderful Life?  Are you high?  And no, it's not Christmas Vacation, either.  How is Chevy Chase a good thing?

It ain't A Charlie Brown Christmas, and it isn't Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Or Frosty the Snowman (is that one even about Christmas?)  And it's not one of those new-age crappy christmas shows, either, like Jingle All the Way or some lame movie involving Shrek.   

Nope, it's a movie about Christmas cheer, and goodwill towards all men.  If by "Christmas Cheer" you actually mean "sarcastic dialogue", and by "towards all men" you actually mean "towards all men that aren't actually robbing a high rise tower".

Yyup.  I'm talking about Die Hard.  The one with Bruce Willis.  Stuck in a building, fighting off the bank robbers of Hans Gruber and company.  Die Hard:  A Christmas Classic.

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!
Or, "Merry Christmas Kay-Yay, Motherfucker!"

My Parents Are Mean People:

My parents are cruel, cruel people.  Who enjoy torturing me this time of year.  Like the time my mom wrapped a box of rocks, and when I opened it, said "Oh, looks like you got coal.  Guess Santa thinks you were a bad boy, this year".  (I was three).

Or when they hid all my presents around the house a few years later.  And made me search for them, one by one, simply so they could laugh at me and take pictures ("oh, look, the little retard is actually trying to check the inside of the chimney.  What a dork"). 

Or the time I was around fifteen, when they hid my christmas presents, and insisted I had nothing to open (except a gift card) while my siblings opened everything.  I had to watch everyone opening presents, with absolutely nothing to do.  Which was kind of annoying. 

Or - and this was the worst - was when I was around sixteen or so, and really wanted an electric guitar amp.  They put a huge box under the tree, and I naturally assumed it was the amp I wanted.  And they did little to dissuade that theory.  It was a shelving unit.

Oh, yeah.  A shelving unit I had to put together.  To hold all the clothes and socks I got that year.  Did I mention my dad laughed at me the whole time, with "you should have seen your face"?

The moral of the story is, my parents can be cruel, conniving people who enjoy messing with their eldest because that is how the sick bastards get their jollies.  But I've got a plan this year - I'm getting even.  I can't go into the details, but it involves a clapper, a remote control helicopter, a spray bottle of febreeze, an inflatable Danny DeVito doll, and the tears of a newborn child. 

Aw, man, it's gonna be awesome. 

Waffle-Eating Nudists...

I realize most of the signs posted on this site are funny simply because they're taken out of context, but still... how can you put a sign like this one into context?


Weekly Haiku #7 - How to Get More Blog Comments...

Posting better works
a sad cry for help's better
fake suicide note?

***

(Quick note: ever notice that you'll see a blog with absolutely no comments, and then the author posts something sad and emo-y, and suddenly there's a bazillion "I love you, you're amazing" comments?  Yeah, it bugs me, too)

Christmas 3ve musings

Holy crap, time sneaks up on you, doesn't it?  It's, um, Christmas Eve Eve Eve.  I think.  From now on, byt the way, the 22nd will be known as "Christmas 3ve".  I should trademark it, I really should. 

Of course, I'm not of the age where Christmas gets me super excited any more.  Mostly, I look at it as a chance to sit with family, have a few drinks with my dad, and see if I did a halfway decent job of picking out things my family members will like.  But I remember it being pretty different when I was a tiny little ginger boy, knee high to a duck. 

You see, this was roughly the point in time where I went from being a fairly normal shy ginger kid to a hyperactive crazy kid by day, who'd turn into a fretful insomniac at night.

Seriously - I'd spend the whole day getting keyed up by my parents, helping with the cooking, doing household jobs, getting high off industrial-strength sugar (seriously, I think I was ingesting the LD50) and generally being on my best behaviour as a last-ditch effort to sway the mind of Santa. 

And then, when I'd go to bed... my nocturnal tendencies would kick in, and I'd toss and turn.  And worry about, well, everything.  What if I didn't get the toys I wanted?  What if I did something embarrassing while family was there?  What if the unthinkable happens, and MC Hammer goes bankrupt? 

And then my mind would wander to all those bad places kids shouldn't think about:  how I would eventually die, whether my parents would join the ranks and get divorced, and whether I'd ever get the chance to see Vanilla Ice live. 

(so far, thankfully, none of those awful things have come to pass... but I hear Icey boy is in the studio again, so it's not safely off the list yet, I'm afraid)

It's a general fact that I am an insomniac.  But it gets worse when I'm not required to get up during the days - and so, during the christmas season, a time coupled with stress (yes, even for a child), the insomnia kicks in.  And so it is now - I actually got my butt out of bed early today, and yet here it is, 1 am, and I'm still wide awake.  Watching my fish swim in circles and my newt chewing on a piece of fake plastic while thinking "I know how you feel, little buddy"   

And come Christmas Eve, even though I'm not worried about whether or not I'll get that super awesome toy or embarrassing myself in front of my family (that ship has sailed), you can bet your ass I won't get to sleep.  I never have before, and I doubt it'll happen this year.  I mean, a few years ago, I didn't get to sleep until around 3 am... and then was awakened by my parents at around 5.  Woot.  Luckily, my mom doesn't understand what "turmpf de fucghing lighteh opf!" means.  And my brother was pretty good at dodging the pillow I threw at his head.

See, it's a game.  My dad likes to get up super early, and he knows I go all insomniac at times.  He sees it as a character fault.  So, he tries to wake me up JUST as I'm falling asleep.  And then he acts all innocent and says "what?  It's christmas", as if that's a valid excuse.  It's a well known fact my parents are mean, mean people. 

Also, while it should come as no surprise at this point - the next couple of posts on this blog are post-dated.  Meaning, they aren't "fresh" - as if I'd actually update on Christmas Eve!

Album #7: Queen, "A Night at the Opera" (1975)


We have a special place in our heart for our first love.  We never forget those first loves, even though we often outgrow them.  Queen happens to be my first love - when it comes to albums, at least.  Their amazingly awesome "The Game" was one of those loves that I must have listened to over five hundred times through the course of about two years.  I would literally listen to that album twice a day, five days a week, almost without fail. 

But, as I got older, I put it behind me, and as I've become a more mature music listener, I have to admit the album can be kind of hokey.  I outgrew it, and put Queen behind me. 

Then, while talking to a friend in a college history class, I mentioned my old love of queen.  And he mentioned "A Night at the Opera" - and I shamefacedly admitted I had never actually given the whole album a listen.  He pressured me to check it out, so I wound up buying the album and listening to it that very night.

It opens with the unusually-aggressive (For Queen, at least) "Death on Two Legs", a spiteful song dedicated to Queen's former manager (one of the best lines, sung in the usual harmonic chorus that is Queen's trademark:  "Do you feel like suicide?  I think you should.").  And then it goes all over the place.  There are some of the weird, operatic songs that are very playful ("Seaside Rendezvous", "Good Company", "Lazing on a sunday afternoon");  there are the zeppelinesque arena rock tunes that originally put Queen on the map ("Sweet Lady", "I'm in love with my car", "The Prophet's Song"); and then there are lovely ballads ("you're my best friend", which actually outsold "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a single), super pretty songs involving harps ("Love of my Life"), and even the mandatory song about science fiction that makes absolutely no sense ("39").

Oh, yeah.  And its penultimate song is a little ditty called "Bohemian Rhapsody".  You may have heard of it.  Its generally been declared one of the best songs ever written.  It is, as far as I know, the only song to have ever made it to the #1 spot on the records charts in two seperate decades (once when the album was released, and then again when it was featured on Wayne's World). 

Fun fact about Bohemian Rhapsody.  The song was recorded on analog tape, and the band did so many parts for the song dubbed onto the master reel (each time, using up more and more of the spool of tape), that by the time the song was done, guitarist Brian May recalled that the spool (which is supposed to be be brown, sort of like on a cassette tape - you remember those, right?) was nearly transparent.  He figures there are perhaps seventeen guitar parts recorded on that song.  And, lesse here... at least four vocal tracks... and two piano tracks... and a drum track... and a bass track... and... 

Re-runs

It was a long night.  My apartment was fairly cold, with a draft coming through the window, so I was sleeping under a layer of blankets so thick I imagine they'd be able to stop a bullet.  But, after an hour, I'd get so hot that I'd have to kick off my coccoon - only to have my sweat freeze on contact with the air.

I'd fall asleep, dream for a little bit, and then wake up all sweaty.  My body was loosing moisture so quickly that I was getting dehydrated.  Yeah, from sleeping.  So I'd get up, get a drink of water, and try to sleep again.  And the process would repeat - a half-finished dream, a hazy awakening, and the icy shock of december air on clammy skin.

For a moment, I compared myself to those airborne paratroopers in Band of Brothers, during the siege of Bastogne.  Of course, it wasn't a fair comparison - they were outside in sub-zero conditions with no winter clothing, whereas I was sleeping next to a drafty window with the heat turned on and thirteen layers of blankets and comforters.  But, when it's 3 am and you're so tired that you're starting to imagine your pillow is talking to you, you're not exactly going to make apt comparisons. 

And boy, that pillow was racist, let me tell you.  It was talking about setting a cross on fire and putting it on my coffee table to "put the fear o' God" into the cushions on my couch. 

My brain all garbled from sleep deprivation, I'd ignore my paratrooper thoughts and racist pillow, and go back into a half-doze and dream.

What was worse was the fact that these dreams were not new.  They were dreams I've had before - some were dreams that have been recurring for years, to the point where I knew what was going to happen next during the dream itself.  And some were just re-enactments of TV shows I'd seen in the past.  Or movies.  Or conversations I'd had about albums.  And so on, and so forth. 

After about the fifth time I'd jolted awake, sometime around five or six a.m., I remember mumbling "I fucking hate re-runs".  Then I burrowed back into my blankety coccoon, and decided that sleeping pills might be a good investment.

Like the worm that he is...

Two weeks ago, during a very busy day, I found myself in downtown Victoria walking down Government street.  It was around 11 am, and I had just been hired at a new job - naturally, I was pretty stoked, and had the iPod cranked.  I'd like to think I was listening to some really cool, groovy song... but in reality, I think I was listening to something like 1980's Queen.  Y'know, "it's a kind of magic" and whatnot.  Luckily, I wasn't grooving like I was in iPod commercial or anything.

I was wearing my awesome power suit, and strutting like I owned the place, thinking back on the last couple of months.  About how much it sucked to lose my job in the provincial government - a few weeks before the announcement came to layoff new hires such as myself, the lovely MLA's decided to vote themselves in a payraise. 

Then I started thinking about how much EI sucks, how disorganized it is, and just how many people in my lovely province are without work. 

Of course, that's a bad thing to be thinking.  It brought me from "Wooooot! I have a new job!" to a low of "hey, I'm making almost half of what I was making six months ago, and I'm thinking this is a good thing because the economy is just so damned shitty".  A real pick me up.

Then I bumped into a man.  He was well dressed, wearing a snazzy suit that earned my instant approval, with a stylized haircut and a sleek cell phone.  I didn't bump into him hard - neither of us were watching where we were going, but we weren't power-walking, but I still pulled out my ear plugs, apologized, and kept on going.

A few steps later, I realized who I had bumped into.  Gordon Campbell.  The premiere of B.C.  The guy who is directly responsible for the cutbacks in the government.  The guy who voted himself a pay raise.  The guy who - well, I won't go into details.  I think most places have a head politician like this guy - he's really not all that special. 

I felt a wave of anger.  How dare he bump into me?  Hasn't he done me enough harm already?  And what kind of freak wears a suit at 11 am on a thursday?  (oh, wait....)

I was already a few steps away from him, and came to the conclusion that I'd be a real ass if I ran back and bumped into him again.  But, to hell with it.  You only live once, and he didn't seem to have any bodyguards with him.  Only, this time, I'd use my elbows.  And maybe a knee hit.  Take that bastard down, hockey-style.

Unfortunately, he was able to make his escape, like the worm that he is.  I imagine he found some sort of burrow to crawl into.

To make up for my missed opportunity, I used some early christmas money to  treat myself to some Noodle Box.  With extra veggies.  And, while eating, I began to plot my revenge...

I'm an idiot. An AWESOME idiot.

I just found the coolest website.  It lets you make silly little movies using a text to voice system.  I had to play around with it, and wound up just taking a script from my blog and putting it to video.  I have to say, I enjoyed the result

Film Fridays - Great Opening Scenes (Cont'd)

So, three more movies with great opening scenes!  I won't introduce the piece with a huge wall of text - if you want that, just go read the original post.  I am going to cut down on the photos, though - I think I went a bit overboard last time.  You wanna see pictures, click on the friggin' youtube links.

4.  Super Troopers (2001), directed by Jay Chandrasekhar


What?  You've never seen super troopers?  Are you friggin' serious?  You don't know the glory that is the opening scene of this movie? 

Well, too bad I can't give you a link, because youtube doesn't seem to have it.  Stupid privacy laws!  All it offers are crappy montage links.  I guess that means you have to rent this movie and watch it.  Probably about ten times, because it is one of the funniest movies of the decade.  It really is pure genius.  And when the Shlesbian gently told me that I was an idiot for forgetting to include this movie on my list of great openers, I slapped myself on the forehead loudly.  And dramatically.

I left a mark, even.

Why is it a great intro?  Because it perfectly introduces the main characters of the film by focusing on characters that we will not see again (for the most part).  It introduces the humour of the film, with a completely self-contained vignette that instantly draws the viewer in.  And, really, it's just bizarrely funny, without being so over-the-top or obvious.  It has drug humour, without being "OMG, that guy just took a lot of drugs, lol!" or anything stupid like that.

We have a few stoner kids on the road, and a cop car starts chasing them.  They freak out, and get the kid in the back to eat all of their weed so the cops won't get it.  Then, the kid eats all the mushrooms.  He is saying weird stuff ("the schnozberries taste like schnozberries" - said after licking the window of their car).  The cops shout "pull over", and the car pulls over.  The cops shout "Pull over" again, and the terrified driver, nearly crying, shouts back "I can't pull over any more!  I've pulled over as far as I can!"

The cop saunters over to the window, while the nervous kids try to play it cool.  "Do you know how fast you were going?"

"Um, sixty five?"

"Sixty three."

And it carries on from there.  I can't really do the scene justice, but suffice it to say that it really strikes a chord for most people.  Even my dad, the most unfunny navy person in the world, had to admit that this scene was kind of funny. 

5.  Pulp Fiction (1994), directed by Quentin Tarantino


Pulp Fiction's opener is great because not only is it the scene to start the movie, but it is also the final scene of the movie (if you didn't know this, well then, too bad - you've had fifteen friggin' years to watch this movie, so suck it).  It is also in the same tone as the rest of the movie - beautifully-written dialogue, well-acted, and with drawn-out, insightful scenes with a healthy dose of humour.

My favourite parts of the opening scene, by the way, happen to be the part where the (british) bank robber complains about there being too many "fucking foreigners" in the U.S.A., and of course the last lines of the scene ("...I'm going to execute every motherfucking last one of you!") before the quick transition into Dick Dale and his Del-Tones' version of "Miserlou". 

Much like the rest of the movie, this scene doesn't take its time.  It just lets the characters talk, and much is revealed as the scene progresses.  The humour isn't thrown in your face, being presented in a very subtle manner.  The characters have a sense of gray to them - the robbers do not come across as necessarily bad people, but there is definitely a sense of craziness and a mean streak to them.  And, the whole thing is filmed in a very simple manner - a few stationary cameras, without much done in the way of lighting - that really helps capture the scene. 

But, as with every Tarantino scene ever filmed, it is all about the dialogue.  Seriously, about the only CSI episode I like is the one that Tarantino directed. 

6.  Gladiator (2000), directed by Ridley Scott


Yeah, I'm a Ridley Scott fanboy.  I'm aware of this, and I've found myself fighting back the urge to just start listing his movies here.  I mean, Alien has a great opener.  So does Black Hawk Down.  And, yeah, I'm partial to the opening sequence of Bladerunner, but that's probably to be expected, right? 

But the opening scene for Gladiator has to be mentioned as Ridley's best.  The movie opens with a shot of Russell Crowe's hand, moving through a field of grain.  And this shot is repeated throughout the movie, a repeated metaphor for death - which the audience will quickly learn, as about ten seconds into the movie we are treated to Crowe's general Maximus ordering Roman troops in an attack against Germanic hordes, in a blasted and burned forest.

Note how the movie doesn't just drop you into the fight.  Instead, it builds the scene up - we know a fight's coming, and we can see the hesitation in the men's eyes.  We see a dead roman scout sent back to the army on a white horse (Ridley loves that white horse - see Legend or Bladerunner).  We get to hear Hans Zimmer's excellent scoring, a wonderful arrangement called "the Battle" that, for some reason, still gets played at hockey games.  A song that slowly builds, and builds, and builds...

...and then all hell breaks loose.  We get explosions  that aren't just stupid action movie explosions.  We get sword fights.  We get crazed germanic barbarians.  And roman prowesse.  And, and, and...

So, I saw this movie in the theatre with my dad.  And about halfway through this scene, we just looked at each other and grinned.

I don't think that grin came off my face until the movie had been over for a few hours.  Just pure brilliance. 

An open letter to McDonald's:

Dear McDonald's:

I have to say, I haven't really been to your chain in at least a few weeks, which is a trend I plan on continuing for a long time. 

It's not you, McDonald's, it's me.  I guess I've just come to respect my body, and have absolutely no desire to fill it with the carbohydrate-stuffed poison that you are wont to serve.  Seriously, even your salads seem like a health nightmare.  How is it that you can screw up a salad?  I really want to know.

A few days ago, I was walking by one of your lovely stores near the Wal-Mart, on my way to find wrapping paper and other christmas accoutrements.  And there, on your billboard, was the most baffling announcement I have ever seen:

two new smore pies for 1.39

Smore pies?  Are you kidding me?  I can understand adding a new pie flavour - at the very least, your apple pies smelled appetizing, which is above and beyond anything else you serve.  But there are a lot of pie flavours I would consider before a smore.  Like, I don't know, "Blueberry".  Or, to be quite honest, "Danny DeVito".  A smore pie is about as unhealthy as you can get.  I can imagine the board meeting you guys had before deciding upon this particular flavour.

"Guys, we have a problem," one board executive says, secretly fretting about his receding hairline.

"I agree.  We are not killing our customers fast enough!" another adds

The group nods in unison.  They know that, despite their best efforts, too many McDonald's customers are surviving their dining experience.  And that just won't do.

"How can we fix this?"

"We need a new pie flavour, a flavour so filled with garbage that those who eat it are destined for an early death."

"I got it!" one man exclaims, in a classic "Eureka!" pose.  "SMORE FLAVOURED PIE!"

Dear McDonalds.... I imagine, at that board meeting, that you all high-fived one another, and released your gastronomical experiment upon an unsuspecting populace.  I can't believe you would so irresponsibly release such a product upon the masses, knowing full well that this is just another nail in their coffin.

And at two for 1.39, how can they turn it down?

Weekly Haiku #6 - Selkirk Waterway Seal

a seal plays beneath
thin layers of waterway ice
panes of frozen glass


A key to success...

I learned something last week:  always wear a suit to a job interview.  This is really just a great piece of advice, and it works well for me, for about a bazillion different reasons.

For starters, I look amazing in a suit.  I mean, I'm already quite handsome, if you ignore the fact that were I to stand naked in front of a white wall, you would only see a floating pair of glasses and some red splotches here and there.  I've been compared to an albino Denzel Washington.  Granted, I was the guy doing the comparison, but it's still pretty flattering, right?

But put me in a suit, and my hotness goes off the chart.  I give you exhibit A, which was taken a few months ago at a Halloween party.  Myself and the Shlesbian were at a "Dead Rockstar Party", and yours truly decided to fake dye his hair black and wear a suit and go as Frank Sinatra.  Unfortunately, I looked nothing like ol' Blue Eyes, so I wound up being The Shlesbian's manager.  Or, "extremely good-looking guy in suit at a halloween party"

So, exhibit A:



To all my female readers - you can make out with your monitor.  It's okay.  You wouldn't be the first.  And yes, that is the Shlesbian's real face.  Creeps the hell out of the kids.

So, I'm at the job interview, and the interviewer keeps checking me out in my hot suit.  Which is good, because I keep looking down her shirt.  This makes me feel kind of bad, because I think one of the major rules of a job interview is to not look down the interviewer's shirt, but I am a male, and I am hotwired to do this.  In fact, at one point during the interview, I came to the conclusion that if I didn't get the job, I needed to ask this woman out for a cup of coffee. 

Unfortunately, that never happened, because I got the job.  I blame the suit.

It got better, though - I found myself in the conference hall, with a bunch of other recent hires.  They were all wearing jeans, or crappy "club shirts" that were usually purple with black swirls.  They took one look at me, in my snazzy glory, and gulped.  I wanted to look at them and say "that's right, boys and girls.  I am the king of this little pack, and I own you now."

I didn't get a chance to say that, though, because I was busy staring down the shirt of my new boss.

Album #8: A Perfect Circle, "Thirteenth Step" (2003)

I haven't forgotten about my old list of "top ten albums" - I've just been wondering exactly what to say about the #8 choice.  It's an album I've listened to over and over again, but it's one that I've heard so many times that I wonder if there's anything new to say about it.  But, finally, I just had to bite the bullet and get this series on with. 


A Perfect Circle was a "super group", formed in a time period when it seemed like forming "super groups" was the in-thing to do.  In a few short years, we were given bands like Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, and A Perfect Circle - fusions in the rock world that all seemed destined for short term greatness.  This particular super group was fronted by Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer for the metal group TOOL, and contained members from various low-key rock groups, as well as well-known guitar technician Billy Howerdel.

I had always figured APC's first album, "Mer De Noms", was a rather boring and flat set of recordings, lacking the musical depth and emotional range of a tool album - which is something I still believe.  However, after listening to the album on a midnight drive with a friend of mine, I started to hear a new side to the band - a sort of mainstream rock sound that also incorporated string work and a 1980's "New Wave" sound.  Without any of the crap that you would usually associate with new wave - there are no flocks of seagulls, and David Bowie won't be talking about any sort of China Girl.  The jury's still out on Devo, though. 

The problem with many fans' perception of APC stems from the frontman.  Too many people (myself included) imagined that any band fronted by Maynard James Keenan would be a "metal" band, and APC is anything but metal.  It's not even a lightweight metal - on the periodic table, I'd put it somewhere around Hydrogen - lightweight, lacking in complexity, but volatile and one spark away from exploding. 

"Thirteenth Step" was APC's second release, and, in my mind, the best of the three.  The entire album deals with the subject matter of addiction, through multiple perspectives.  It opens with the creepy drum-based song "The Package" - a whispered song about sex addiction and the lack of respect for both parties in such a relationship - and goes strong from there.  We've got songs like "Weak and Powerless" (a song that was generally well-received on the radio, though I find it to be one of the more flat songs on the album), an anthemic "blue", and the brilliant "The Outsider".

My favourite track on the album is "The Noose", which does that trick I love so well:  constantly layering tracks on to a repeating section of the song, modifying instruments and rhythms slightly as the song carries on.  The repeated chorus ("And I'm more than just a little curious/how you're planning to go about making your amends/to the dead") is one that always gets stuck in my head, and the main idea of the song - that an addict who has cleaned his act should not necessarily be absolved of crimes committed while using - is just brilliant.  And the last lines of the song ("your halo is slipping down to choke you now") is about as awesome as last lines can get. 

But this isn't just an album of hard core rock.  Listen to the creepy cover of "The Nurse Who Loved Me", which is funny, poetic, and offbeat, or the pretty guitar work in "Gravity" (I really believe they made a mistake in putting some of those heavier parts in the song).  Really, the album shines when it's soft, not when it's hard.  If you want hard, listen to Tool. 

I love this album to the point where I actually have a copy of the vinyl hanging on the wall, right next to my imitation les paul guitar.  It is also, for those who are curious, the youngest album on my top ten list, and one of a very few that were released in the last decade.  Yes, it belongs on the same list as The Who, Led Zeppelin, and the others to come.  Will people remember it in two decades?  I don't know.  But they probably should

Adventures in Public Urination

A fun story from thursday:

I've just finished a doctor's appointment, and I need some change for the bus to get back to Victoria.  So, I have to break a five, by running across the street to the Tim Horton's and ordering a tea.  While the place is about as inviting as most Timmy's (read as:  it's not), I figure I'll have to brave it - I really, really don't want to walk. 

As soon as I walk in the door, I realize I have to pee.  So, a quick detour to the washroom.  It is around this point that I realize why I have to pee, and that I've had approximately five caffeinated beverages in the last four hours... It's been a cold day, and I've been running on less than two hours' sleep.  This would also explain why I had such a high blood pressure during my exam, and might contribute (just a tad) to the fact that I currently look like "Death's retarded young cousin, Jeffy". 

Peeing is finished, and then, coming out from his home behind the toilet, is the world's biggest wolf spider.  We're talking a spider so damned big that I took a step back - I didn't want to get into his way.  He looked like a bouncer at one of those lame night clubs where the men wear pink shirts with popped collars who try to fight everyone that doesn't wear a pink shirt with a popped collar in order to prove how tough they are to the white women who desperately wish they were black. 

So, this spider looks at me, and is all like "sup?" and I'm all like "dude, I was just about to leave" and he was all like "that's cool, yo."

Okay, so I exaggerrated the story a little bit for comedic effect.  The spider didn't speak to me.  Much. 

But the next part is absolutely true.

I get to the counter, and politely inform the woman that "there is an absolutely huge spider in the men's washroom".  And her response to me is "What did you do!?"

As in:  "Why would you put a spider in the washroom, and what are you going to do about it?"

And then she did absolutely nothing, and tried to keep my five dollar bill for a chai tea that cost around a buck.  As I left the place, I saw a man go into the washroom, and heard the sound of a muffled scream and some gurgling noises. 

A Long Road...

There have been some weird commercials out there.  And some that are just plain creepy.  But when I saw this one on TV, my jaw dropped.  This is the commercial that nightmares are made of - animals torn in half on a dark road, facing their mortality.  And then the car that is about to kill another animal gets good tires, and all the road kill critters get up and dance (with tire tracks on their bodies). 


I told some friends about this awhile ago, and they didn't believe me.  Well, here it is - the weirdest commercial on TV right now.  Strange stuff. 

Interior Cell Design For the Criminally Insane

Apparently, some minimum security prisons in the United States have rules that allow inmates access to the internet.  Some may call this a sham, or a policy that is dangerous for the average U.S. civilian - after all, why should convicts get access to the outside world? 

I, for one, welcome this policy.  If only because, if I play my cards right, I can pick up some extra web traffic.  So, if you know anyone in a minimum security prison, make sure you send them my way. 

In fact, I'll sweeten the pot a little bit.  From now on, saturdays will be "Prison Saturdays", and will be dedicated entirely to the convicts of the United States of America.  Each week, I'll have a post with a topic that is of interest primarily to the prison population.  Upcoming topics will include:
  • How to turn your Puerto Rican cellmate into a shank
  • Why all your loved ones have forgotten you, and no longer remember your face
  • Why prison guards cannot live without their spleens
  • Bros can be hoes (if you're horny enough)
  • Interior cell design for the criminally insane
As you can see, there are going to be a lot of topics of interest to the web-surfing prisoner.  Naturally, I imagine I'll be rolling in the page hits in no time flat, and...

...oh, wait.  Turns out, they don't get internet access, and I was just lying because I didn't have anything else to write.  I'm a sad little man.

Film Fridays - Great Opening Scenes...

One of the rules of scriptwriting, novel writing, and, well, pretty much any form of creative expression whatsoever beyond graffiti and writing haiku, boils down to - start with a hook.  It's almost a no brainer - the introduction to your film should be visually interesting, something that will catch the viewer's attention, and indicative of the experience to come.  Hopefully, this will give the audience of movies like White Chicks time to rethink their choice for the evening. 

However, your introduction cannot be TOO important to the film - after all, people are still coming into the theatre, they haven't given your production their full attention, and so on, and so forth.  I actually sort of disagree with this reasoning, because I figure if you're late, you should suffer the consequences.  But, unfortunately, I don't write the rules, and so directors have to cater to people who are dead set on that extra large coke and popcorn.  So, most movies are made to allow the gluttons some extra time to get a headstart on an early grave. 

Paradoxically, the first few minutes of a film are both some of the most important minutes... and some of the least important. 

Now, I'd like to think most movies do a pretty decent job of this - they set up the tone of the movie, they catch the viewer's attention, and they're not so important that someone walking in a little late is going to spend the whole film playing "catchup".  If the movie is a comedy, there will be some great opening jokes.  If it's an action, there'll be an explosion or someone getting shot in the eye.  And if it's a drama, the opening scene will involve some actress's naked back.  And possibly a butt shot of the male lead.  This goes all the way back to Bambi, I think.

However, how many films have great opening scenes?  Surprisingly few.  I mean, those scenes that everyone remembers, these quintessential film moments that are just plain genius.  I can think of many films I absolutely love (High Fidelity, The Princess Bride, and even my beloved Bladerunner) that have "only okay" introductions. 

I have a list of some of my favourites, but if I posted them all at once, this post would be a million pages long.  Instead, I'll choose three (in no particular order), and list some of the others some time next week.  Possibly on installment number two of this new "film friday" feature. 

One last note:  these are movies that I believe have great introductions.  That does not mean they are necessarily my favourite movies of all time

1.  Saving Private Ryan (1998), Directed by Steven Spielberg


Okay, admittedly, the scene I'm talking about isn't actually the first scene - technically, the "first" scene is instead a shot of an old man in a graveyard, looking at a grave.  The camera zooms in on his eyes, and then we see the eyes of Tom Hanks on the beaches of Normandy, some fifty years earlier.  This scene then goes on to express the absolute carnage that was Omaha Beach on June 6th, 1944.

And it's a long scene, well over twenty minutes.  And it consists of these small vignettes of unnamed characters dying in a brutal landscape that no man should ever have to endure.  I remember having to watch this scene in a grade eleven history class, because my teacher was sick and tired of the kids either making light of the second world war, or being completely oblivious to what actually happened.  No one laughed during that screening, not even the usual high school douchebags.  I know a few girls were crying by the end.  There was silence in the classroom when the picture showed.

That opening scene is powerful in a way films very rarely are.  It manages to capture scenes of complete chaos in such frequency that each viewer only catches about half - there is just so much on screen that it overwhelms your senses.  A man has his arm blown off, and grabs it as if it were his rifle.  Two men take cover from machine gun fire behind an anti-tank mine, but it is only large enough for one, so the larger man pushes the smaller man out in the open to save his own life.  The gates open for a landing craft, and the entire cargo is cut down by machine gun fire.  Men jump out of their landing craft only to drown in the water as bullets cut through the ocean.


The camera work is shaky, as if it were through the eyes of a soldier on the beach.  It doesn't rest on one spot, and it is up close to objects that are never fully in frame.  You don't get wide vistas - instead, you get a close, cold, look at the shadowy faces of soldiers fighting - and dying- around you. 

You see this, and you know it is powerful.  It does not glorify war.  It does not show nameless characters getting cut down while the hero emerges unscathed with the sound of a full symphony playing.  Every face looks the same - watch the scene, and see how many times you can pick Tom Hanks out from the rest of the crowd.  He's just another face.  Veterans who were there have said that no movie has ever been able to catch that feel, but Private Ryan has come the closest.  The real "longest day", however, was much worse.

2.  The Lion King (1994), Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff 


The opening scene for the disney animated movie The Lion King begins with the sun rising on the African Savannah, and the sounds of an African Chorus.  An african woman begins to sing about "The Circle of Life" as animals from throughout the Savannah are moving towards the same goal.

We see millions of birds flying over a river delta in a scene that I would see years later in the BBC documentary Planet Earth.  We see carpenter ants in focus, moving along a branch, before they go out of focus to show the zebras herding by below (remember, this is animated - think of how much work it took to build in a focus effect, all for the sake of the shot).  We see the lions standing proud over their cub, and then see an ape take the monkey, walk up a long stand of rock that will feature throughout the film.  Even the heavens part, sending a ray of light upon the lion cub.

And then the ape presents the future king to the animal kingdom.  Zebras, gazelles, elephants, and giraffes bow.  And the camera pulls back, and on a single drum beat, we are given the title of the film:  The Lion King. 


This scene so perfectly captures the nature of the film that it was used as one of the theatrical trailers for the film, in its entirety.  Open with the sun, cut with "the Lion King", and the release date.  The song ("Circle of Life") won an academy award for Elton John and Tim Rice, and the animation was, at the time, some of the best animation ever made (and I'd still say it ranks in a top ten list somewhere). 

The great thing is, if you caught the opening scene, you knew you were in for a treat.  Plot elements were introduced (there is a Lion, he is king of the jungle, and he has a son), many of the important characters are shown, and a sense of drama is built upon.  But if you missed the scene, you would still be able to pick up on the movie later on (which is even more essential for movies aimed towards children). 

3.  Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), directed by John Hughes

Comedies rarely have great opening scenes. They also rarely have great camera work (it gets in the way).  In fact, the comedy genre is perhaps unique in that it is a genre in which the director tends to have less importance than the main actors and the script writer.  Really, an ideal comedy director tends to get the shot in focus and then step back. 


Because of this, comedies usually have scenes that are forgettable.  Often, for comedies to work, the opening scene has to establish what is "normal", for the later events of the film to disrupt that routine and produce comic results.  Tragedies also suffer from this, which isn't surprising, considering that they are just the other side of the same flippin' coin (as Woody Allen once said "Tragedy + Time = Comedy"). 

And then there's Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  The movie opens with a monologue that introduces our main character.  There are numerous Beatles' references, which foreshadow one of the best scenes in the movie.  There are shots of Chicago's suburbia.  A plot exposition by Ferris ("this is my ninth sick day this semester").  Many jokes.  And a light-hearted attitude that really jumps into the plot.

And, like all good comedies, it establishes the character.  It exceeds in doing so - few comedies have ever done better.  John Hughes made a brilliant decision, here.  The opening scene of the movie was actually the last scene shot, after Matthew Broderick had been playing for the character for six weeks or so. 

And then, of course, the scene ends with a cut to Ben Stein, and the infamous "Bueller.....?  Bueller....?" scene that stretches on uncomfortably long (and, of course, gets funnier and funnier as a result). 

The Canucks need a new theme song

Went to see the Canucks lose to the awesome sharks a little over a week ago.  It was, as you can imagine, awesome.  I'm sure there'll be details (and photos!) soon.  But something struck me as a little odd, that needs to be addressed.

Namely, the song used to introduce the Vancouver Canucks.

These songs should be crazy, energetic, and somewhat intimidating.  They should have a set of lyrics that foretells of the doom facing the opposing team.  I'm thinking of songs like "Eye of the Tiger", or "The Boys are Back in Town". 

Instead, they went with Pink Floyd's "Time". Which is, if you've heard the song, probably the weirdest opening song ever for an opener.  I mean, we have a song about impending death, heralding the approach of the home team?  It's not even a happy-sounding song!

But, maybe the music guy was prophetic?  I mean, take a look at the lyrics (with notes made by yours truly!)

"Time" by P. Floyd. 

Ticking away, the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way (the canucks got spent the last two periods chasing the sharks)
Kicking around on a piece of ground, in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way (they played aimlessly and emotionlessly often)

Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain (welcome to Vancouver!)
And you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today (playoffs are far away, and Vancouver is doing alright so far)
And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run.... you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking (how many playoffs have the 'nucks missed by only a few points?)
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same, in a relative way, but you're older (their big stars aren't getting younger)
Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death (funny how a song about mortality is used to herald your team, eh?)

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation in the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say
Home, home again
I like to be here when I can (Canucks *do* have a better home game record)
And when I come home, cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells (i.e., a funereal - lucky 'nucks)

***

For the record, the Sharks won the game.  And I was left wondering why anyone would pick that song.  Or, really, any song off Dark Side of the Moon.  And the second I heard the bells tolling, I knew it was a bad pick.  Weird stuff. 

Weekly Haiku #5 - Toskala!

Vesa Toskala
Fans call you a great goalie;
boston fans, that is. 



...And the rest is history

During a ferry ride to Vancouver last week, we wound up talking about our grandfathers' war experiences in the Second World War.  I told a few of my grandfather's, a few of which were actually published in a book (coincidentally, the book was written by a historian who lives in Victoria, even though my grandfather had never been to B.C.).

Anyways, I figured I'd share one here, because it's kind of funny.  And, it's the story of how my grandfather met my grandmother.

So, my grandmother's brother was in North Africa, during his first few weeks of combat.  The british were under intense fire from germans, with shells going off all around them.  And there my great uncle was, hunched down in a foxhole, nervously holding his rifle and peering over the edge.  When were the germans going to attack?

"Hey, there, Mate!" a voice yelled out over the sound of exploding shells.  My great uncle turned and saw a Canadian highlander soldier, in full kilt uniform, come charging up.  The Canadian dived into the foxhole, with more shells exploding around him.

"What the...?" My (british) Great Uncle said - or something to that effect.  I'm making up the exact dialogue, here.  But I imagine my Great Uncle was a bit surprised to see a Canadian in his neck of the woods, during an artillery barrage. 

It got a bit weirder.  "You wouldn't have any salt on ya, would ya, mate?" the Canadian (my grandfather) carried on.

"s-s-salt?" My Great Uncle stammered, as a shell exploded a few dozen yards away.

"Yeah, salt."  The Canadian seemed unfazed by the explosions, cocking his head over the edge and surveying the lines.  "We caught ourselves a rabbit, and we're cooking it up.  And we have no salt.  Hoping you guys might be neighbourly... if you have some salt, we'd share with you..."

"Share?  We're about to attacked by the bloody nazis, any minute now!"

The Canadian laughed.  "Nah, mate.  They're shelling us right now.  They'll do that for an hour or so, stop, and then do it again, before attacking.  We've still got a few hours.  Fight on a full stomach, and all that.  So... have any salt?"

And with that, the Brit and the Canadian ran across a war zone so they could cook a rabbit.  And my Great Uncle thought it was so bizarre that he befriended the Canadian (and the Canadian looked out for "the new guy").  Eventually, he introduced the Canadian to my grandmother, and you can guess where it went from there. 

Tips on how to date a felon

I've been losing a lot of sleep lately, finding myself on the couch at 2 am, bleary-eyed and wishing I could get my ass in bed.  But every time I get into bed, I toss and turn, busily engaged in a staring contest with my alarm clock. 

So, at 2 am, instead of sleeping in the world's comfiest bed, I'm either watching TV, or surfing the internet. 

TV is a lost cause, because - surprise surprise - there's very little on at 2 am that is worth watching.  Except, of course, MSNBC's Lockup.

The premise of the show is simple - an inside look at the prison system of the United States.  And man, is it an addictive show to watch.  Officers searching for shanks, murderers bemoaning their fate, and weird mexican dudes with moustaches doing karate in a cage.  Seriously.  Weird mexican dudes that do karate while prison guards watch on.  And then there was this great bit about a murderer who used Yoga to escape prison. 

And people say Yoga is harmless. 

The best part, though, are the prison weddings.  You get to see lonely men who have had little contact with women, and then they somehow meet a woman and fall madly in love with them.  Rather quickly, they get married (mostly because the men want the conjugal visits, I'd guess).  Here's the great thing - those women tend to be rather, um, unappealing.  They are usually a tragic combination of at least three of the following traits:
  • Stupid
  • Overweight (and not in the "well, most north americans are overweight" sense, either)
  • Unattractive
  • Annoying
  • Excessively Confrontational
  • Stupid
"Stupid" is on the list twice for an obvious reason:  you married a guy who is convicted of killing his ex-wife.  How dumb are you!?  And the greatest thing about these women is how oblivious they seem to be of their character flaws.  I watched a bit about a woman who had all of those traits (yes, she had both "stupids") - and she carried herself, and addressed the camera, like she was Halle Berry. 

So, I laugh when I watch Lockup.  Let the prison men get their conjugal visits.  And they can suffer through having to make it with a woman in a plus-plus-plus size pink nightie who needs two full tubes of lube for one night of passion.  I'm all for prisoners having to suffer for their crimes, and this seems like an imaginative way of doing it. 

After Lockup ends, I flip to the internet.  And do my late-night perusals of all sorts of topics.  I read books on Project Gutenberg.  Or, for nights when I have the attention span of a gnat, I browse profiles on Plenty of Fish. 

There are a lot of attractive women on Plenty of Fish.  And I'd like to think that I've messaged many of them, and made them uncomfortable in new and imaginative ways.  But then, there are also women who are not really my "type".  Girls with profiles that contain racist comments, obvious lies ("I love hockey - big fan of the Celtics!"), massive amounts of spelling/syntax errors, excessive lol'ing, or any picture in which the woman is standing next to a horse. 

But I'm a kind soul, and I always feel bad for these women.  I mean, they're on this dating website, but every time I'm on it, I see them there.  Over and over again (and don't make a comment about how I'm in the same boat as them, since I check the site over and over again - it's not polite).  They must be lonely.  They have to be searching for someone.

I have some advice for these lonely women, that I've discovered from watching Lockup.  There are plenty of men that have been married, while in prison.  And every one of these prison brides is generally a combination of stupid/unnattractive/unhealthy/argumentative/stupid.  So, while you may not be the number one pick on Plenty of Fish, I can guarantee you'd make a wonderful prison bride.  If you find yourself a guy that has a life sentence without parole, you can get all the conjugal visits you could want, a loving and devoted husband who you only have to talk to a few tims a week, and absolutely no chance that he'll kill you in your sleep.

Lucky you.

As for me?  I think I need to invest in sleeping pills.

The Experiment:

The experiment started on a tuesday, shortly after my arrival home from a weekend trip to Vancouver.  A one-week goal set by yours truly, the experiment asked if I was able to change my lifestyle choices.  Namely, could I avoid eating out for a whole week?

No fast food.  No restaurants.  No starbucks.  No Tim Horton's.  No pubs (gasp!).  No chips from a convienience store.  No "instant meals" from a deli or grocery store.  In short, everything I'd eat for the entire week would be self-made to one degree or another. 

It started off well, with home-cooked meals - panini sandwiches, stir fries, and the like.  And then it began to digress a little bit, as my larder shrank and my laziness to go out and buy more food grew.  French fries.  Baked Potatoes.  And, at 2 am last night, when I was half asleep - bread.  As in, just plain bread

Tonight, I'm going to have a dinner of pancakes, bacon, and hash browns.  Tomorrow is "let's make a sandwich and pretend it's a subway sub."  I'm a very sad man, but so far, I've stuck to my guns.

The flyers arrived in the mail yesterday.  The first few I looked at were the usual sort - "We're having a sale!  Save money on stuff you don't need!" But they got worse.

An ad from Subway:  "Dave, where have you been?  We miss you?"

An ad from Tim Horton's:  "Dave, are you okay?  Haven't seen you in a while.  Who else is going to visit us at 3 am and order an iced capp when it's almost zero degrees outside?"

An ad from McDonald's:  "Dave, don't you love us anymore?  Cute girl has been asking about you."

And then a sad little pamphlet from Heckler's:  "Dave, why aren't you drinking here?  What, have you fallen on the wagon?"

I ignored them all, and went upstairs to eat a little recipe I call "ball of bread".  It consists of three slices of bread, rolled into a ball, and seasoned with honey.  Yeah, I'm totally living the life. 

Cool

Hunh.  This has to be one of the more interesting fundraisers, and one I wholeheartedly approve of.

Raises money for a good (and not necessarily one that only "looks good") cause?  Check.  Uses an unconventional means of doing so?  Check.  Involves good music?  Check.

I kind of wish I had a webcam to submit something. Even though I can't sing to save my life. Anyone want to join the cause?

Edit:  I guess I should clarify things a bit more, because it will all be erased in a little over a day.  Basically, the idea is this:  at 5:30 am on monday (Pacific Time), you submit a video of yourself singing The Beatles' "All You Need is Love".  Every video submission is a donation to an AIDS Medicine for Africa fund. 

A New Law #4

A New Law...

Anyone who refers to an event as occuring "back in the day", when said event has occured within five years, shall be subjected to death by catapult.

HNIC

Last year, when Hockey Night in Canada changed its theme song, I was one of the many Canadians that was upset by the whole thing.  After all, you have to be pissed when the CBC lets drop a 50-year old broadcasting tradition simply because they didn't want to pay the royalty fees.  And then, to see that theme go to TSN, an AMERICAN broadcasting company?  Sacrilege!

But now, at least a year later?  I actually kind of like the new theme song.  Especially, and you'll laugh at me here, the bagpipes.  I don't know;  the new theme song just seems more like hockey to me. 

That is all.  My game's about to start.

"Quit Being a Smartass"

You know, I've always been a smartass.  I think I've been a know-it-all, wise-cracking, pain in the ass since the day I was born.  Ask my mother - she'll tell you about countless  times I've been a little too smart for my own good.  Really, that should be the title of my biography - So Damned Smart, He's Retarded

I remember, way back in high school, our English teacher was explaining a Thesaurus to the class room.  "It's a book that can be used to find similar words.  Say you're writing, and you need another word for 'sad' so you don't keep using 'sad' over and over again.  The thesaurus will give you other words.  And it does this for many words in the English Language.  Go on, someone, think of a word."

I raise my hand, that gleam in my eye.

"Yes, Dave?  What word?"

"Synonym.  Is there another word for 'Synonym'?"

She sighed, shot me a glare, and said "quit being a smartass."

I'd like to think that, as I grow up, I'm becoming a mature, sensitive adult.  But, I'm afraid this may not be the case. 

I was shopping with my mother, who was a bit stressed out.  "I wish I didn't have to do all this shopping for Christmas.  I wish there was a way I could get out of doing it every year!"

"But there is," says I.

"What?  I'm all ears."

"Convert to Judaism.  Or Hinduism.  I hear there are plenty of interesting cult options open, mom."

She sighed, rolled her eyes, and said, "Quit being a smartass."

Bladerunner, part two

The featured page on wikipedia today just happens to be about Bladerunner, the best film ever made.  Go ahead and read the link, I'll wait.

Back?

So, did you read that part about a proposed Bladerunner sequel?  Did you cringe like I did?  Are you envisioning crazy car chases, loud explosions, and the inevitable shot of a replicant being torn in half and showing all sorts of mechanical innards? 

Do you see CGI landscapes that you could never imagine in real life?  Did you see the part about the film exploring the "off-world colonies", and wonder if that means we'll have space stations and space suits? 

If that movie is released, I can guarantee I'll be there opening night.  And, at film's end, a little part of me will die inside.

...Hunh

So, this would make a great movie.

To summarize, way back in 1978, soon-to-be crazy dictator Kim Jong Il ordered the kidnapping of a south korean director and his recently-divorced wife.  The couple were stuck in North Korea for eight years, making movies for the dictator, and "asked" to remarry. 

Then, they were able to flee their captors in the mid 80s, making their way to the United States.

I mean, that's pretty crazy stuff.  Really, someone should make a script out of this. 

Another Pointless Post

I've been swing-dancing it up lately, learning all sorts of silly moves that will serve to elevate my capacity for breaking people's arms and lowering my sense of worth to dangerous levels.  I can do all sorts of fun tricks involving kicks, spins, and a handy little clavicle-busting manouevre known as "the yo-yo".

Of course, I had to show off my newfound dancing prowess.  Naturally, I went to the biggest swing dance in town.  I went in with high hopes, but a hidden sense that things were going to go terribly wrong.  And that the people that showed would all be social rejects of one sort or another.

Except me, of course. 

Things went fairly well.  Actually, they went swimmingly.  Few social rejects, and most of the people that showed up were students of one stripe or another.  And, the "UVic Law" still holds.  The "UVic Law" being, namely:

UVic LawWomen that attend the University of Victoria must be, on a ten point "hotness" scale, at least a 7.3.  Any woman with a rating below 7.3 has 48 hours to put on some makeup, buy some new clothes, or otherwise "hot up".  Failure to do so within the deadline will result in an expulsion from university grounds.

Hey, I don't agree with the law, either.  But it seems to be fact - UVic women are all cute.  And a good chunk of them had shown up to watch me dance.  Jitterbug, even.

I did some charming things - I chatted up a girl that was obviously shy, I made witty jokes, I reassured a middle aged woman who was struggling with the steps that she was doing "just great" (she wasn't).  But then, I did some less than charming things, too - I fled from an older woman who kept trying to dance with me, I accidentally scowled when a girl said she loved horses (you know they're evil, right?), and I, um, accidentally kicked a girl I was dancing with.  Twice.

Didn't break her arm, though.

...and that's the story.  You weren't, like, expecting a moral or a summary or something, were you?  Geez.

Weekly Haiku #4 - hot sauce

jalapeno sauce
touch of spice, touch of heaven
nectar of the gods

Dave and Crystal Meth (!?)

Okay.  Way back, in the late 1990s, I was in a health video produced by the Capital Region District called Teens with Diabetes.  It was an education video, made by diabetic teens who were up front about how they dealt with their disease.

Victoria is not a large city, and people have recognized me from the video.  Of course, I get embarrassed by it - I was around seventeen at the time, wore awful 1999 clothes, and had a part where I played guitar (to show that diabetic teens are just like "normal" teens... as if I'm ever "normal" anything). 

The guitar part, in particular, embarrasses me.  Imagine a really lame late 90s metal riff, on a crappy guitar, on an even crappier amp.  Now imagine a guy that is struggling to play this riff, while at the same time trying to look like he's not actually struggling at all, and trying to look "cool".  While standing in front of his bedroom wall - plastered with rock star photographs.  Oh, yeah.  And he's making a guitar face.

Point is, I've been trying to forget that video for years.  Flash forward to yesterday, at around 10:30 p.m/

After a quick stop at the grocery store, I hopped into Tim Horton's to get some tea to drink on the walk home (it was cold out!).  And a girl comes up to me - someone I used to work with, a few years ago.  Someone who is, shall we say, a little dull.  And someone who has a loud voice.

GIRL:  Hey, Dave!  Dave, right?  I saw you in a video in my class today!
DAVE:  Oh, that?  ...You saw my diabetes video? 
GIRL:  Yeah, in health class... wait, Diabetes?
DAVE:  I was in a diabetes video years a-
GIRL:  No, it was a video for Crystal Meth!

(People in the Tim Horton's turn to look at me)

DAVE:  Crystal Meth?  No, I was never in a crystal meth video.
GIRL:  (Adamantly) no, you were.  I saw it.
DAVE:  Ha ha, trust me.  I've never been in a Crystal Meth video.  I would remember if I had been.
GIRL:  No, you were.  You totally were.  It was you.  David Percival, right?  How would I remember your last name, if you weren't in the video? (helpfully, as if I'd forgotten - presumably because I was high on meth, or something) You were talking about how you don't want to do meth.

(People in the Tim Horton's look at me even more warily. )

After this, I manage to convince her that she was wrong.  That she had watched many movies in class, and got my diabetes video mixed up with a meth video.  She realized her mistake, and then realized that she had basically told everyone in the Tim Horton's that I was a meth addict, and sheepishly apologized. 

At around this time, two guys stumbled into the Timmy's, obviously on some drug or another.  My guess would be, um, Meth.  A few people in the Tim Horton's who had been eavesdropping started to laugh.  My companion blushed.

So, it's a funny encounter, and I'm laughing about it now.  But the next part kind of scares me.  See, this girl is going into the nursing program... the same program, in fact, that I will be enrolled in. 

To put it another way... some time in the nearish future, I'll be watching a lame, super embarassing video of myself, in a class of cute girls who will instantly realize that the geeky guy on screen is, in fact, the very same guy that is sitting next to them in the classroom.  The guy that is, at that very moment, trying to bury himself under his backpack and notebook. 

Maybe I should just start taking Meth now?

Satisfaction

A few years ago, I was just hanging around the ex's place (back when she wasn't "the ex"), when her cousin came around the corner, wearing a Beatles T-Shirt.  I remember it pretty clearly - yellow with "The Beatles" in a faded red ink... the type face being the same as the one on The White Album.

Not realizing this girl was into, you know, good music, I kind of grinned.  "You like the Beatles!?" I asked, happily surprised.

"Oh yeah, I totally love the Beatles."

"Yeah?"

"I'm a huge fan.  Love their stuff."

"What's your favourite song by them?"

"Satisfaction."

"....oh."

End Scene. 

I have to say, I'm so happy that the fad of wearing band t-shirts to look cool is on the way out.  There have been multiple times where I'll see someone wearing a misfits t-shirt or hoodie... and when I say "hey, the misfits - they're a good band, eh?" I get something like "who are the misfits?" or "I don't listen to them" in response.

The best moment was seeing Hillary Duff wearing a Motorhead t-shirt.  That blew my mind.