End to the Year Thoughts

I kind of like the idea of reflection, so I figure I'll finish this year with a recap of some of my favourite and most note-worthy posts. 
  • Starting up, we have a real-life event that staggers the mind.  Imagine, hipsters that work at a record store, being completely in the dark about Radiohead! 
  • Next up, we have another true story - an overheard conversation between two co-workers.  They spoke the truth:  death knights are the worst
  • I have no idea why this is, but the number one search topic that brings people to my blog is "pterodactyl porn".  Which brings people to this post, which is still one of the most visited pages on my site.  People are very, very strange. 
  • This post, I just find very, very funny.  So much so that, after just re-reading it, I am chuckling like a fool.  Which pretty much sums up my usual frame of mind, more or less. 
  • Does anyone remember the blogoff?  This was a challenge to see who would have the title of "newt", when I randomly challenged another blogger to a "blogoff".  I wound up losing, but it was still a lot of fun.  The blogoff begins here, although many of the posts from both participants were great fun.   
  • And then there were the Olympics, not very far from my little corner of the world.  I tried to capture the experience during a day trip down there.  I wound up just making stupid faces when I actually overheard a woman say "oh my god, that torch is on fire!" 
  • Ah, Day as Night.  I love making them, but they take just too damned long.  This one happens to be my favourite. 
  • The Crazy Newt Customer Illegibility Scale was something I secretly hoped would catch on.  Mostly because at the time, I was spending almost twenty hours a week listening to people mumble into a phone.  I guess I was the only person who found it funny - which is pretty much how these things go.
  • I love haiku wednesdays.  They're fun to write, but they're rarely funny.  This one, based off a real conversation I heard at work, is actually kind of hilarious.  You can be the judge. 
  • July was an insanely hot month.  So much so that I would frequently spend the night lying in bed while covered in a sheen of sweat.  Occasionally, I'd hallucinate.  But really, who doesn't? 
  • I like to make wry observations.  I'm all about wry observations.  It's my purpose in life, really.  Unfortunately, I rarely make wry observations.  So when I do, I'm rather proud of them.  Apparently, I also like to say "wry observations".  Wait, does that last sentence count as a wry observation? 
  • I took point notes about a night on the town.  I thought the post was actually really funny.  However, everyone who read the post decided it was "bad" or "ugly", so I guess I was the only person who thought it was funny.  Which is generally how this blog works. 
  • And then there was this.  It won an award for "funniest blog entry to include the word 'samosa' in the punchline".   Okay... it actually didn't win the award.  It would have... but the awards these days have become so political, man. 
  • This was another post based on an overheard conversation.  Kate was right, though - I should have cut it off a little earlier.  Damn me and my attempts for accuracy! 
  • I submitted a post to reddit.  It got this blog a huge number of hits.  For about three days, I thought I was about to be famous.  Then reality slapped me in the face.  But still - it was a pretty funny post
  • And then, finally, there was my in-depth coverage of Rifflandia.  Probably a little too indepth.  But I was pretty obsessed with the music.  And why shouldn't I have been?  I mean, the Dodos are pretty fucking awesome. 
And there it is.  2010. 

Bring on 2011!

People are stupid. Exhibit A:

(Scene:  DAVE, a stunningly good-looking salesman, is in the headphone aisle of a box store, trying to sell overpriced headphones to a weasel-faced CUSTOMER.)

CUSTOMER:  Man, I really want these headphones.
DAVE:  Yeah.  They're a great pair of headphones. 
CUSTOMER:  But they're kind of expensive.
DAVE:  Well, they're quality headphones.  You're paying for top of the line headphones.
CUSTOMER:  You're right.  I'll take them.
DAVE:  Awesome!  If you'll follow me to the till...
CUSTOMER:  Yeah, cool.  I didn't know what to spend my money on, an ipod or headphones...
DAVE (innocently):  Oh, you don't have an ipod?
CUSTOMER:  No.  I broke my last one.
DAVE:  That's cool.  I guess you're using the headphones on your computer, then?
CUSTOMER:  Don't have one.  It's my roommate's computer.
DAVE:  Oh.  Um.... the TV?
CUSTOMER:  Nah.  I have great surround sound.
DAVE:  So, um.... What're you hooking the headphones up to, then?
CUSTOMER (A Long pause):  Hm.  Good point.  I guess I don't need them, hunh?

After some back-pedalling, I wound up selling him an iPod touch and a cheaper pair of headphones.  I made less money on the purchase, but I imagine he would've figured out those expensive headphones would be absolutely useless when he got home, and I'd be stuck with the return.

He also lost his receipt for a Wii he was returning, and blamed it on me.  Turned out he had dropped it, but was convinced that was "impossible".  I found it only after having searched through our trash for him. 

Gah. 

Foreshadowing:

We stand at the gates, Basil and I, looking ahead without blinking.  My hands are clammy, and I find myself wiping them on my pant leg every moment or so while simultaneously chewing on my lower lip. 

"Do you... do you think we'll... do you think...?" I whisper, quietly. 

Basil is leaning against a wall.  "Quiet, rookie.  Just remain calm, stick near me, and we'll make it."

I nod my head, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically, and look over at the other recruits.  Jimmy is huddled in the corner, scratching a last-minute missive to his fiancee.  Eli is grinning and laughing, but we can all tell it's entirely faked - the jokes are too flat, and the laughter too shrill.  Aaron is puking in the corner.

We can hear them, outside.  Their wordless fricatives sound more like the prowls of predatory animals than the speech of human beings.  Those sounds remind me of the differences between us... and them. 

"Get ready boys," Basil says.  "The doors are about to go down."
We all gulp.  But we are ready to do battle.  We have trained for this.  We will make it.

Today... is boxing day. 

The Haul

Yeah, Christmas isn't about stuff.  I know it, you know it, so let's not dwell on that.  If you really want to read a post about how Christmas is overly commercialized, I'm sure there's a teenage girl's blog that will cater to your interests.  Those emo girls are never happy, man.

But one of those questions that always seems to pop up is "what did you get?".  And this is because it's one of those questions that we can safely ask, and actually understand the reply.  After all, everyone's Christmas is terribly personal - we, for example, do all the gift-giving on Christmas Eve, have a big dinner on Xmas eve, and then play board games and watch movies all through Christmas day. 

But "what did you get?" is one of those things we can all compare and make conversations about.  And I have to say, I got some really cool, thoughtful presents this year.  Definitely an awesome year.  So without further ado, my list of awesome presents:
  • Some Cheese from my mother.  It's a jalapeno havarti cheese, and she got me a massive block of the stuff.  I used a lot of it to make omelettes on Christmas day, because there's no way I can eat all of it myself.  You could say it was very gouda.  But then, do I havarti be making such awful puns?  Obviously, I mozza, probably because they're a bries to make.  You don't have to be a whiz to do it, after all.  I could probably make them till I went blue in the face... 
  • Diet Coke, in crazy little glass bottles.  I drank all six within about three hours.  And then felt sick.  But it was so worth it.  My mom knows me so well.
  • All the stuff to make Ginger Snaps, from my friend Manga.  We made some a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun, so she gave me all the spices and stuff to make them myself.  She also got me some chocolate covered espresso beans and a really cool star for my tree.  I walked home from her place at around midnight a few nights ago carrying the star in one frozen hand while cars slowed down and looked at me quizically.  Awesome stuff.
  • Surround Sound Speakers.  Well, sort of.  See, we all chipped in to buy my dad a set of new surround sound speakers and a receiver... and so they gave me their old speakers. I've heard them before - they sound awesome.  And right now, they're doing a great job of casting ominous shadows on my wall, like some sort of modern sundial. 
  • Shure Headphones.  This was my gift to myself, because I only have my employee discount at Future Shop for a few more days, and wanted to get something suitably awesome.  Two hundred dollar headphones for seventy bucks is pretty awesome, if you ask me.  Let it be official - I am a dork. 
  • Shark Cap and Shirt.  A San Jose Sharks Toque and a Sharks shirt.  I now have nine items that have a sharks logo on them.  I'm not sure if that's cool or sad.  Actually, no, I'm 100% sure it's awesome. 
  • Cooking Stuff.  And not just "cooking stuff", but independently-made cooking stuff!  Such as hot sauce, barbecue sauce, and meat rubs from this guy.  I've had his stuff before (purchased at the government street market with Kittens, actually), and it's amazing. 
  • ...And there was also this great indie pesto sauce and tapenade.  Organic and vegan friendly, if it matters.  My mom loves it when I cook... although she is the only person I know who hates pesto.  I sometimes wonder if I'm adopted.
  • My mom's friend even gave me stuff!  She got me some packets of tea, a great triangle version of dominoes, and work socks.  Socks, by the way, are a great gift for me, and something of a tradition in our family (see next entry).
  • Wool socks, from my dad.  See, he gets me these every year for Christmas.  And every year, this is awesome, because they are the most comfortable socks in the world.  My feet are in foot heaven right now. 
  • A pomegranate.  From my mom.  Weird.  But awesome.  She also got me craisins, because they are the best diabetic-friendly snack food out there.  They're like candy, man.  Only, you know, not. 
  • Gift cards from my brother's girlfriend (for itunes), money from my aunt, and a gift card from that yogurt place right next to my work from my mom. 
  • Assholes Finish First, by Tucker Max, given me by my sister and her fiance.  I love reading Tucker Max, and I actually started this blog a few weeks after I first read I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.  For a while, I sort of sounded like him in these revered pages... but then I realized I'm not even close to being as much of a dick as Mr. Max.  I'm pretty sure he's a douchebag I would hate to actually meet.. but I really love reading his stuff.  I was up till 2 am last night reading it, giggling inanely.
  • A Wireless Router from my brother.  He's even going to help me set it up!  This is great, because it means that it'll be easier for me to play my Xbox while also playing around on the internet. He's even going to help me fix my crappy-ass computer so that it, you know, doesn't suck balls
  • And last but not least... The White Album.  On vinyl.  From my loving mother and her friend, who actually owned two copies of the original pressing of the album.  In short, I have a near-mint copy of the Beatles' White Album now, from 1967 or so.  I am, in fact, listening to it right now.  You have no idea how friggin' incredible I find this. 
And now, time for a photo-montage.  You can see my awesome sharks cap + star, and even might be able to see some of Kittens' presents under there that really need to be sent out sometime soon. 


A Very Important Day

So as you all know, a long time ago, a great person was born on this day.  And a lot of the great things we have in our lives today are owed directly to the ideals this person espoused.  This person's words are often quoted and remembered, and this person's song still rings out in our heart.

I shudder to think of what the world would be like if this person had never been born.  Would we still have compassion?  Would we still have charity?  Would we still have love?

I am referring, of course, to Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong, better known simply as "Dido".  Her angelic tunes warm even the coldest of hearts.

There really should be some sort of holiday to celebrate her birth, don't you think?

Blue Shells Ahoy!

My family is doing a "lame christmas" this year.  And everyone is fully on board with it.

See, most years, my mom goes a bit overboard with the presents, while often simultaneously playing cruel mind games on us with those selfsame presents.  But hardly a year goes by where our tree isn't absolutely dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of presents. 

Little nutcrackers look up at the tree and say "yeah, I could climb that thing, but only if you moved all those goddamn presents, first". 

It reaches the point where, every year, my siblings and I have a hard time remembering everything we got for the holidays.  And here's the thing - we'd rather it not be that way.  All of us are just as happy with a few gifts and a sock full of little things.  The kids in my family are not, for the most part, selfish people.  Really, the most selfish we get during the holidays is when we play the traditional game of Mario Kart, and my sister hogs all the red shells. 

My sister is a very mean person.  Luckily, this year she'll be doped up on pain killers due to her recent surgery, so I think my brother and I might stand a chance against her crazy Mario-Karting skills. 

But this year, we're going present lite.  I wish I could say we're doing it because we're rejecting the capitalist ideals of Christmas, but really, we're doing it because of the economy.  But whatever. 

I'm broke.  My sister and her fiancee are broke as they struggle with their wedding and my sister's surgeries.  My parents aren't exactly broke, but they're hardly swimming in money either, due mostly to my sister's impending wedding.  So yeah, we decided to do a "cheap christmas" this year, and I'm really looking forward to it. 

My sister and her fiancee are making everyone presents this year (he's a carpenter, you see).  My brother's girlfriend is getting everyone tea.  I'm making CDs for every family member, filled with songs hand-picked for them that I'm sure they've never heard before but will probably like.  I know they all sound like sort of lame cop-out gifts on paper, but in reality, they're something a bit more - things that you just can't buy, no matter how much money you have. 

And while I spend a lot of time on this blog bitching and moaning about the state of the world, or making snarky comments about, well, everything, the fact is I do like sappy little things like that.  I've reached that age where I'm excited about the idea of Christmas not being about stuff, but instead about family. 

Or, to be more specific, beating the crap out of your drug-addled sister in a no-holds-barred match of Mario Kart.

Christmas Eve Eve.

I wanted to write a post about my invented holiday of Christmas 3ve, or, for those who are linguistically impaired, "Christmas Eve Eve Eve".  Unfortunately, that day fell on a wednesday this year, so I was honour-bound to write a haiku instead.  Here's hoping it worked.

Instead, I have to write about "Christmas 2ve", which really doesn't roll off the tongue as well.  But it's still quite the day.

This is the day where people traditionally realize "holy crap, Christmas is just around the corner" and then freak out on a shopping spree, doing their best to get their shopping done, because "only suckers and fools go shopping on Christmas Eve".

Today, I'm in a large electronics boutique selling overpriced electronics to those very same people. 

Today is also the day where my friend Manga, who hates being referred to on this blog as "manga" and has specifically asked me to change her name, heads south for the holidays.   I really hope she has fun down there, while at the same time feeling just a little jealous that she gets to go while I'm stuck up here, catering to people who can't seem to realize that "wireless" doesn't mean "wireless power" and who are convinced that "the internet gives you cancer". 

I say it every year around this time, but Christmas can't end soon enough.

Weekly Haiku #39: More Christmas 3ve Musings

tucked in a corner
pool balls hang from aged tinsel


She must be, like, an elf or something

I was working yesterday, selling a buttload of ipods and other mobile electronics to people for christmas.  I was having a great day, rolling in the dough, when I saw a customer wandering around out of the corner of my eye.  Naturally, I went over to help her.

It was then that I saw she was rather attractive, and dressed in that pseudo indie way that I love - tights, knee-high boots, a short plaid dress, and a scarf wrapped around her neck.  She looked to be maybe twenty eight or twenty-nine, and she was by herself.  She was holding a few random items in her hand, looking just a little lost.

Both my "inner salesman" and "inner single guy" said the same thing:  Jackpot.

It wasn't particularly busy at that moment, so I helped her pick out some ipods, headphones, and the like.  We chatted about Victoria (she's not from here), swapped a few jokes, and browsed the shelves.  Then she dropped a bombshell.

"I'm kind of looking for a gift for my twenty year old son.  What would you get a twenty year old boy?"
I was absolutely stunned, because this woman did not look to be in her thirties, let alone forties.  I mean, I suppose she could have had the kid when she was very young (in fact, she must have), but still -  I thought she was the same age as me.  I really wanted to compliment her on how well she's aged, but I knew anything I'd say would just sound false and lame.  So instead, I just answered her question.

"A good gift for a twenty year old boy?  That's easy - a twenty-year old girl."

The 'beard'!

Remember last month, when I said I'd grow a big-ass movember beard?  Remember how, three weeks in, I caved and shaved the damn thing, because I had a date and a job interview?  And do you remember how I said I'd eventually post a picture, showcasing the results?

I should mention that it didn't turn out as super magnificent as I'd hoped.  In fact, it was a rather scraggly beard - apparently, I don't excel in the facial hair-growing department.

I do, however, excel in the "not smiling for self portraits" department.  With a scowl like that, I could be on the cover of every rap CD ever made. 


Look at that scraggly thing.  Let it be known - Movember turns men into jackasses. 

Can't wait to do it again next year. 

Weekly Haiku #38: self reference

dvd junkie
who just watched twelve episodes
feels a tad hazy

This always gets me in trouble...

...but I'm just gonna say it.

I don't like Star Wars.

Now, I don't hate Star Wars or anything, but I am unable to really understand why everyone thinks it's so absolutely amazing.  To me, it just seems like Muppets in Space, with overdone bad guys and awful hair cuts. 

I mean, Yoda?  What the hell, man?  That guy is basically just Kermit the Frog, aged sixty years and suffering the aftereffects of a massive stroke.

So yeah. 

I just don't get the love. 

Music Mondays - Bon Jovi!? Really?

I had a great post figured out, regarding one of the greatest new(ish) bands from British Columbia.  It was going to be funny, insightful, and educational.

But then I spent a whole day at work, listening to the canned music overhead.  Apparently, someone decided it was appropriate to spend the whole day playing the entire Jon Bon Jovi catalogue.  Everything from "You give love a bad name" to the Young Guns soundtrack to "Who says you can't go home?". 

After a while, all Bon Jovi songs sound about the same.  And it's a sound that's roughly analogous to screeching tires on wet asphalt - it triggers a primal terror response that is impossible to shake. 

They found me, after my eight hour shift, curled into the foetal position in the home theatre department, nestled behind some panasonic sneakers wearing a best buy flyer as a hat.  Apparently, I was sucking my thumb and muttering something about 'musical gremlins trying to get me', but I'm not sure of anything - I blocked out most of the day. 

You ever see those firemen who visit the burn ward in the hospital and then become unable to fight fires?  Or those artists who get completely burned out after teaching a community college painting class?  Or actors who lose their edge after doing a season on a soap opera or something?

That's  happened to me.  I'm pretty sure Mr. Jovi has destroyed my sense of music.  For the last 48 hours, every time a song plays, I get flashbacks to that fateful day.

Some people can't forget Vietnam. 

I can't forget "Livin' on a Prayer". 

And that is why there is no music post for the day.

Margins

I get stuff at work at margin. Stereos, TVs, ipods, headphones - all at margin.

This doesn't mean much when it comes to the big ticket items - there's very little markup on those items. If I want to buy an Ipod touch, for example, I might get around ten bucks off.

But it does apply to guitars. And even more so to guitar accessories. Things like guitar tuners, strings, mini amps, capos, guitar picks, drum sticks, practice pads, and tab litarature. All at roughly half price.

We have a fender telecaster, normally retailing for around eight hundred and fifty bucks, that I can buy for less than five hundred. I feel like that kid who won that golden ticket and then got to eat all that candy before getting a really bad case of the diabeetus

Plus, there are at least three people who work in this store who think my idea of "acoustic indie rock with heavy use of sound loops and effect pedals and no bass" sounds like it'd be a hell of a lot of fun.
Yyup.  I think I've died and gone to music dork heaven. Because I see angels... they look like Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison. And Sting, even though he's not dead.

Yet.

Okay, this may be slightly exaggerated

I'm a sucker for redheads.

This is a known fact, and one that is easily measured.  You could have me sit in a room, drinking a can of diet coke and watching the hockey game.  A smoking hot blonde/brunette/whatever could walk in, and while I would do a sly "check out", I'd be more or less the same person.

Now let's say a cute redhead walks in.  Within about three seconds, I will be putty in this girl's hands.  Before I know it, I'll be doing her laundry while puffing out my chest and stuttering worse than a CD player in a washing machine.

And then there was... yesterday. 

Cute red-headed girl, about 5'4", slim build, glasses with nerdy threadless t-shirt (bonus!).  Wanted to buy an ipod. 

Yours truly was the salesman.  What did he do?

Did he make a move?  Did he get her number?  Did he make pleasant conversation?  Hell, did he even try to make a sale?

Nope.  He spoke about the weather for approximately five minutes, nearly broke his hand on the ipod display due to his rapid gesturing, and then said something along the lines of "it'sokayI'mthefirstaiderhereandI'malsotryingtogetintonursingbecauseIlovehelpingpeopleplusIthinkanimalsespeciallypuppiesareamazing."

Then he winced, blushed a deep red, and retreated to the staff room to hide until she left.

Don Juan, I ain't. 

On the subject of feet:

I'm working at future shop the other day when I have to make a detour through the digital imaging department - in other words, an area filled with camera displays.  Row upon row of moderately expensive cameras, fawned upon by moderately wealthy yuppies. 

As I cut through that swath of men wearing scarves and women with expensive knee-high boots, I couldn't help but notice that digital imaging seemed to be filled with an abundance of attractive people.  And I couldn't help but compare that abundance of attractive people to the rather unpresentable folk who crowded the audio department - unshaven, self-obsessed sound snobs who would shrivel up under any form of natural light.  And the customers were just as bad!

Just for a moment, I dreamt about becoming a camera salesman.  I dreamt of slyly winking at the numerous women folk as I spoke of shutter speeds, tripod mounts, and exposures.  And some other, less interesting, crap about cameras. 

But then a flash went off, and I was snapped back into the real world.  And my jaw dropped at what I saw:

One of those super attractive women had just used one of the demo cameras... to take a picture of her feet.  It took all my willpower to refrain from saying "dude, can't you at least wait until you get home to do that!?"

You see, I have never understood this ritual.  And apparently, I'm not the only one

I have nothing against feet.  While I'm far from a foot fancier, I have absolutely no problem with a girl rocking the sandals.  In fact, I've even kissed a foot or two in my time.  What bugs me about the photos are the pure cliche of it all! 

Self foot photography is the equivalent of a guy playing stairway to heaven on a guitar.  Or an author naming his novel after a line from the bible.  Or a dancer doing the macarena. 

Ladies - this is something you do when you're thirteen, and then feel embarrassed about when you're twenty one.  This is not something you do in your late twenties, in a crowded future shop showroom, for all the world to see.  I mean, if you want to take a photo of a body part, I can think of at least five different parts I'd rather see first.

(Yeah, I went there.  Sorry.)

Obscure...

I'm working retail again.

I haven't worked a retail job in over two years.  The last time I did it, I was selling gourmet cheeses in a grocery store and working in a fairly decent deli.  It was a pretty fun job, and one that kept me on my feet all day (a good thing), but the pay was pretty much atrocious.  Eventually, I was able to move on up to bigger and better things.

Of course, then this damned recession hit, and I've been jumping from low-end office job to low-end office job ever since.  I figured a few months ago, when I was laid off yet again, that if I was going to be making next to no money, I may as well do it in a fast-paced retail situation, because at least there the work is considerably less boring.

Still kind of annoying, though. 

On tuesday, I had to explain to a lady how headphones work, how itunes works, and how you can use itunes to find all sorts of music.  She told me itunes doesn't carry her music, as her music is "way too obscure" to be found on itunes.

I figured she was talking about super indie stuff, or weird world music or something.  Nope.  Turns out, her definition of "obscure" consists of Pink Floyd, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Bob Dylan. 

I showed her an ipod touch, quickly displaying the numerous apps that the device can carry.  I casually mentioned that it also contains a dictionary.  I'm hoping she uses it to figure out what "obscure" actually means.

#37. Thirty Years

thirty years ago
holden caufield's bullet screamed
and the walrus died


John Lennon, October 9th 1940 - December 8th, 1980

An Open Letter to the Deli Worker at the Uptown Wal-Mart:

Hi,

First off, let me just say that I understand the difficulties of your job moreso than most.  I myself worked in a deli for three years - it was a position very similar to yours, with perhaps only superficial differences.  So I know some of the problems you guys face on a daily basis.

I am referring, of course, to the "exact weight" customer - someone who wants exactly 100 grams of sliced meat, and if you go even two grams over, will ask that you shave some off to make it an even 100g.  I have dealt with these people, and I know how frustrating they can be.  That being said, you and I both know that most customers will shrug if you go a little bit over and say "close enough".  If they want 100g and you accidentally slice 120g, they're fine with that. 

That being said, when I ask for fifty grams of turkey meat, I am not going to shrug and say "close enough" when you put one hundred and ten grams on the scale.  That is more than twice what I asked for, after all.  Would you say "close enough" if you ordered an 8 oz. steak at a restaurant and instead got a 20 oz. steak, and then were charged the full price? 

The fact is, I wanted enough meat for one sandwich.  I realize it's only a difference about one dollar, but it's really the principle of the thing.  Not to mention the fact that I'm not exactly rolling in the dough right now, and these days, every dollar counts. 

So when I said "actually, can I get fifty grams?" when you started packaging up that 110g of meat without asking me, you had no right to make a face.  And I think you realized this yourself, because shortly thereafter, you took off enough meat to make it 50g, and then put the meat back on the scale and wrapped it, giving me sixty grams of sliced turkey for free. 

I appreciate the gesture, and I thanked you for it.  And then I turned to leave.  And you made another face, one that looked sort of like a pug that ate a bad prune.  It was a face that said "I can't believe how unappreciative that guy is, after I went and did such a nice thing for him!"

But let's be honest, here.  If you didn't give it to me for free, you'd be throwing that meat out - so it cost you nothing.  It just meant that when you take the garbage out, the bag is going to weigh about sixty grams less.  And it's not as if I went up to you, begging for sixty grams of free meat.  I wanted roughly fifty grams (or forty grams, or sixty grams, maybe even seventy grams), and I was willing to pay that amount. 

So please, don't expect me to treat this exchange as if you've just given me a free car, or offered a spare kidney you just had lying around. 

Please keep this in mind in the future.

Yours truly,

Newt.

P.S.  Oh, yeah.  Telling me that turkey and chicken "are the same thing" is kind of a stupid thing to say, especially when you work in a deli.   

Music Mondays! Playlist for December:

I've been listening to quite a bit of indie acoustic rock.  Really, for some odd reason, december's playlist really is more uplifting than most of the stuff I usually listen to.  Not that I'm complaining - these songs are frakkin' amazing.

There's even a Hannah Georgas song on the list, which is surprising, as I usually don't like her stuff.  I'm pretty sure Kittens is reading this and smirking with an "I told you so" look on her face... but I'm too cheerful to care about it! 
  1. The Dodos - This is a Business
  2. Christian Hansen and the Autistics - Don't Leave Her Out
  3. The Barmitzvah Brothers - Show Promoter
  4. Hannah Georges - The national
  5. The Awkward Stage - I Hurt the Ones That Love Me
  6. Apollo Sunshine - Singing to the Earth (To Thank Her forYou)
  7. Said the Whale - The Light is You
  8. Hey Ocean! - Song About California
  9. Dan Mangan - Tina's Glorious Comeback
  10. Matt & Kim - Daylight

This goes up to 11....

Being cripplingly poor is never a good thing. 

After almost a month of being on EI, I was desperate for a job.  And this is how I found myself working a sales job at an electronics boutique.  Me - the guy who still doesn't own a cell phone, kind of sucks with a computer, and has had the same ipod for almost three years. 

I didn't think I'd last a week. 

It's been two weeks, though, and I'm actually doing pretty good.  And, the scary thing is, I sort of enjoy the work.  It made me realize that for the last year, those office jobs were sort of - what's the word?- soul-crushing.  And working on the floor, where I'm on my feet and dealing with customers, is relaxing in a sort of high-energy way.

Of course, the best part is that I am actively encouraged to play loud music.  Such as, I dunno, The Dodos - cranked to max volume in the car audio section. 

An addendum

While I was a little shaken by the events of last week, I have to admit, the whole thing has made me feel even more confident that nursing is my future.

I'm not talking about how damned attractive I realized some of the nurses are (this was after my brother was more or less fine, thank you very much).  And I'm not talking about how, even in a highly stressful situation, I kept my cool and handled things.

Nope.  I'm talking about how I apparently have a nurse's sense of humour. 

My brother was out cold - dead to the world.  The nurse came in, holding a chart.

"How's he doing?" she asked.

"Well, he's been better," I dead-panned.  I've always been a fan of black humour. 

Thought the poor girl was gonna choke on her gum, she was stifling laughter so hard. 

About Last Week...

Yeah.  I mentioned earlier this week that I'd give the glory details.  And now that I've got some rest, I guess it's probably time to go into the nitty gritty.

Last sunday was my brother's birthday party.  As it fell on a sunday, I really didn't feel like going out, especially because I had already spent both friday and saturday out with other friends, and didn't really like the idea of drinking three days in a row.  But, I had a familial obligation to go out with my little bro and buy him as many drinks as he could possibly handle.

Long story short, we all went a little overboard.

One moment, we were relatively fine - we had ordered a round of drinks affectionately called "gladiators", and my brother and I decided on the spur of the moment to shout out "to Rome!" and "Glory to Rome!"  A few minutes later, my brother was wobbling on his feet, unable to finish sentences, and using the wall as a standing aid.

Which was to be expected.  It was, after all, his birthday.

But it got a lot less funny soon after, when we were laying his unconscious body over a snow drift in a vain attempt to get him to wake up. His eyes were open and rolled up into the back of his head. Flecks of gray bile that looked like pancake mix bubbled at his lip. 

I've never sobered up so damned fast.  I made the call to call 911, and then had to explain to the dispatcher what was going on.  All while one of my brother's friends was yelling at whomever was nearby, his guilt changing to fury due to the magic of alcohol. 

My responses to the paramedic's questions were always one or two words, as we bumped and jostled through the night, sirens off. 

I spent the night in the hospital with him, his level of consciousness the lowest possible while still being alive.  Nurses pumped IV fluids in him, took blood, and gave me a blanket.  I sat by his bed for hours and watched as the quiet drama of a slow sunday night in the ER played out around me. 

The nurse finally convinced me to go home at four thirty in the morning.  I walked in a light rain as the street began to wake up around me.  I was so damned tired I could barely stand, and yet when I got home, all I could do was stare at the ceiling.  Because while it was my brother's fault he was unable to say "no" to the drinks put before him, I was one of the people putting the drinks before him in the first place. 

The nurse called at six am in the morning, telling me he was awake.  I stumbled to my feet and got ready to go back out when my mother called - she had my brother, and was taking him home.  And she told me to go back to bed.  But I couldn't - going to sleep would mean I'd sleep through the day, and wouldn't get to sleep monday night, which is a bad idea for insomnia.  So I figured I'd stay awake and go to bed early monday night.

Eight pm on that monday night, my mother called.  My brother hadn't had any food or water since sunday afternoon, and couldn't keep even water down due to stomach damage. He was going back to ER. 

Another walk to the hospital, the rain still falling as night hit the city.  Another night by his side, as the doctors pumped IV fluids into him.  Nurses recognized me from the night before, clapped me on the back, and told me how I was such a good brother.  And I grit my teeth and felt more and more guilty. 

Eventually, he could walk without the aid of his IV stand.  And so I paid his cab fare home, hopped out of the cab a few blocks from my house, and walked home in the pouring November rain.  I collapsed in my bed, having been awake for nearly thirty six hours. 

And yet, I barely slept that night, either. 

Recipe for Absolute Happiness:

Here it is, ladies and gents.  CrazyNewt's recipe for Absolute Happiness.

Ingredients
  • Firefly TV series, on DVD or Blue Ray.
  • Big Screen TV with DVD/Blue-Ray Player
  • Noodle Box Black Bean with Garlic Noodles (spice to taste)
  • Couch
  • Blanket
  • Pants
  • Tazo Green Chai tea
Recipe
  1. Put the DVD/Blue-Ray into the appropriate player.  Turn on TV, and begin playing an episode of your choice (they're all good).
  2. Take off the pants, and kick them across the room.
  3. Wrap yourself in the blanket while sitting on the couch and watching the episode of Firefly.
  4. Eat noodles and drink tea while viewing.
  5. Repeat at least once a month. 

Weekly Haiku #36: I'll explain this all later (after I get some frakkin' sleep!)

restless sick bay night
brother's ill - self-inflicted
we did it "for Rome!"

A Place Holder:

There might be a post here, later on.  But right now, it's just dead air. 

Why?  Well, I had time scheduled for today to write this wicked-awesome post about either Rah Rah or Hey Ocean!.  But then a birthday party last night went a little crazy, and I was stuck being the responsible person.

I hate being the responsible person.

And now I'm way too tired, while paradoxically wound up like a spring, to write any sort of music post.  And so, you're going to have to get a place holder.

Does anyone mind if I do a "Music Monday" on tuesday?  Also, is there a preference between Rah Rah or Hey Ocean! 

Dolphins with Prostate Cancer...

My friend Manga had a bake sale today, and so I grabbed a bus and went all the way down to Cadboro Bay to buy some of her cookies and support prostate cancer research.

Only 75% of the cookies I ate were delicious.  See, I had a great chocolate cookie, and then I had half a super sweet cookie that caused my mouth to send an urgent message to my brain, that went something like this:

Dude.  You know you're diabetic, right?  This shit is way too sweet.

After having tea and chatting for a bit with Manga (who was wearing the world's coolest 1960's style apron), I was given a challenge - create a children's book on the subject of dolphins with prostate cancer, and why all dolphins need to drink more milk.

This is quite the challenge.  But I think I'm up to it.  Because I think it's a story that needs to be told.  There are far too many prostate cancer-related deaths among dolphinkind.  I mean, it's the second largest killer among dolphins, beaten only by super-delicious tuna nets.

I can't figure out a way to segue out of that.  So I'm just gonna go with the classic "Aaaannnnnnyways....."

Later, I walked all the way home from Cadboro Bay.  I live near Mayfair mall.  For those who don't know much about Victoria geography... it's about an hour and a half walk, if you're a fast walker like me. 

To put it in musical terms, it was the entire length of the Dodo's album Visiter, along with the entirety of the Beatles' Abbey Road and a good chunk of the Mountain Goats' Sunset Tree.  And yes, I measure time in album lengths.  Because I'm just that much of a nerd. 

It's cold as balls in Victoria right now, but I have to say, even in the last days of November, it's still an amazingly beautiful city to stroll through.  I highly recommend everyone go out there and just walk - it'll remind you just how awesome this city of ours is. 

Ten Best Bands?

Went out and did a bit too much drinking after the Sharks vs. Canucks game (holy crap was it a blowout.  Unfortunately, it blew in the wrong way.  6-1 Canucks.  Gah).  It was, all in all, an awesome night, involving yours truly getting a free San Jose Sharks jersey.  However, at ten am in the morning, yours truly is a bit too hungover to fully write an engaging post. 

Whoops.

Anyways.  The Times Colonist (Victoria's newspaper) went and put together a list of the city's ten best bands.  It's a great list, with live videos of each band. I paraphrase for posterity:

  1. Wolf Eyes
  2. Cobblestone Jazz
  3. This Old Town
  4. Vince Vacarro
  5. Acres of Lions
  6. Maurice
  7. Jets Overhead
  8. Aidan Knight
  9. Current Swell
  10. Jon and Roy
It's come to my attention that I've only seen five of those bands.  This needs to be rectified... have some work cut out for me over the next month, eh?

Addiction:

There is an epidemic in this city.  Over the past few years, addiction has spread throughout the street, turning normal people into crazed junkies, always hungry but never filled. 

It has taken over the lives of ordinary people - students, tourists, and young professionals - and the not so ordinary - hipsters, musicians, and artists.

And this outbreak of addiction is one that is perfectly legal.  Some of the addicts are even cops!

I am speaking, of course, about Victoria's noodle addiction.

I'm a little embarrassed about it, because I've never really seen myself as the type to be an addict.  But I am one of the growing number of Victorians who is a noodle junkie.  I realized it last night: 

I found myself inside the Noodle Box, listening to strange european electronic music while waiting in line, desperately anxious to get to the cashier. 

"I... need my noodles, man!  Gimme my noodles!" I said to the cashier, grabbing her collar with sweaty hands. 

She smiled mirthlessly at me, in the manner of pushers the world over, and said, "Do you want some of the local, west coast shit, or do you want the imported asian stuff?  And how hot do you want it, man?  Because we do all kinds."

"Hot.  Extra hot," I said, my skin tingling with anticipatory noodle-bliss.  "Black bean.  Hokkein noodles.  Tofu."

I pressed my money in her hand, and she just smiled evilly.  "Price went up.  Eleven don't cut it no more."

"What!?  But, this is all I have!"
"Thirteen, or no noodles for you."

"But... but... I'm sick."  I whimpered.

I dug in my pocket and pulled out the last of my laundry money, wondering how long I could go before I'd have to start re-wearing my socks.  "This is... this is all I got."

She counted it twice.  "Great.  It'll be a half hour wait."

"Half an hour!?  But, I need my noodles now!"

"Well, you're gonna have to wait."

"You're killing me.  I'm, like, dying, man!"

"Grab a seat."

And so I found myself sitting on a chair, writhing with "The Noodle Sweats".  Next to me was a hipster in emo-glasses and a Black Keys t-shirt curled up in a foetal position, mumbling "Cambodian Jungle Curry" over and over again. 

I realized I had hit rock bottom.  I rushed to a phone book, only to find that there is no twelve-step noodle addiction program.  In fact, when I called one of addicts anonymous hotlines, the counsellor flat-out told me that "you can never have too many noodles" and then hung up.

What has become of Victoria?

What will become of me?

Movember Update, as well as a work update... plus... the noodle box.

A few fun facts, to keep y'all informed:

1)  I caved in and shaved off my movember beard.  It had to be done - I had a job interview and a date, and didn't want to look like a homeless person.  I actually looked sort of like a red-headed amish guy, as there was absolutely no moustache.  Don't worry, I have photos.  And yes, I will be making my donation to the Canadian Cancer Society to pay my reparations.

2)  I am no longer unemployed.  This is a very good thing;  after all, it means I can go ahead with phase 1 of the blog renewal project!  Super stoked on that.

3)  Did I mention that there is a brand new Noodle Box opening across the street from my new job?  Did I mention that, upon finding this out, I actually jumped about three feet in the air and laughed with pure joy?

That is all. 

Weekly Haiku #35: poetry, continued

frozen winter shroud
draped over summer's last gasp
spring blooms from the bones

409 hours!?

"I am not really much of a video game person."

I say this fairly often, probably because I look like the type of person that should be a video game person.  And, well, I've recently come to the conclusion that maybe all this time I've been lying to myself. 

I would say "hey, I only play three games - Civilization, Halo, and X-Com.  I'm obviously not a video gamer."

And I would believe it.

A few days ago, I was writing a blog post when I accidentally opened up my Steam account.  This account apparently tells you how many total hours you have spent playing games.  And I was stunned to see this: 



Yyup.  Four hundred and nine hours.  And this is a game I've owned a little over a year.  To put it another way, I've spent seventeen days playing this game. 

And x-com is my least-played game out of those three I listed.  I seriously dread to see how many hours I've spent playing the various halo or civilization games.

Music Mondays - Matt and Kim (with footnotes!)

Friday night, and my friend Mangaa and I were sitting in my apartment.  A little bored, we decided to swap musical bands.  Focusing on the area where our tastes converge, we swapped the names and videos of super cheerful indie bands.  I told her about Mother Mother, Christian Hansen and the Autistics, and Rah Rahb.

And she told me about Matt and Kim.

Imagine a two piece band - a girl on drums, and a guy singing and playing an instrument.  Sound sort of like the White Stripes?  Well, imagine the white stripes, only they're much, much happier.  And instead of playing blues-inspired rock, they're playing pop music you can dance to.  Oh, and instead of being divorced and angry-looking, they're dating and clearly in love with each other and the world around themc

How have I not heard of these two?  I mean, I'm kind of embarrassed that I'm learning about them just now.  How can I be a music fan who also loves youtube, and yet still be unaware?  I'm pretty sure the answer has something to do with global warming, but I'm not entirely sure how.  I'll get back to you on thatd.

It might take a while, though, because I have a feeling I'll be listening to these guys for a bit.  It really is detrimental to your mental and emotional well-being to avoid these guys - some guys blow money on therapy to feel better, but wiser men spend a couple of bucks on a Matt and Kim album.  And not only is the Matt and Kim album cheaper, but it also involves absolutely no cigar-smoking therapists that want you to talk about your mothere

Matt and Kim are just so damned cheerful and happy that, after watching a few of their videos, you can't help but feel happy.  The look of sheer joy on Kim's face as she plays rather basic drum beats, or the look of pleasure and contentment on Matt's face as he pounds through a keyboard line - these are looks of sublime human happinessf

Don't believe me?  Check out their videos - whether it's the cramped happiness of Daylight, the free-spirited striptease of Lessons Learnedg, or the literal "food fight" of Yea Yeah.  Watch those videos, and you will find yourself a happier person.  Your faith in humanity will be restored.

a.  (Pssst - not her real name!)
b.  Have I not talked about Rah Rah yet?  I really should do that one of these days...
c.  Also, Matt and Kim have never had their music in a crappy ipod commercial. 
d.  I have a theory involving dolphin farts, a plastic garbage bag the size of mexico, and Ray Liotta. 
e.  Sometimes a cigar is just a penis, doch
f.  Sort of like that feeling you get when you see an obnoxious child get punched in the groin.
g.  Lesson Learned:  cops are apparently afraid of grabbing a naked woman, but have no problem wrestling a naked dude to the ground. 
h.  Wait.  Did I say penis?  I meant "cigar"i
i.  Alright.  You caught me.  I actually meant "penis".

Angry Face!

Well, this pisses me off. 

That, for those that don't want to check the link, leads to crazynewt.blogspot.whatever.com.  You see, I wanted to change my URL, because I sort of want to drop the whole "crazy thoughts from a..." part of the URL (too long!). 

And yet, the name's been taken.  And not touched since 2006.  And it's just a bunch of dead images and links to pictures of animals.  Gah!

Redesigning your blog can be difficult. 

Sad face. 

Preserved for Posterity:

Last week, a bunch of friends were discussing past misadventures.  I related the story of my friend Squee's first time at the casino... which resulted in many laughs.  And Squee swearing "that's not how it happened" - presumably because he's blocking the traumatic experience.  Because he obviously doesn't want the world to know of his foolishness, I've decided to post it on the internet.

I'm a good friend that way. 



Squee and the Blackjack Table

It was sometime around 2002 or 2003, and Squee (one of my best friends) and I were bored.  We were driving around Sooke at around nine p.m., with absolutely nothing to do in the small logging town.  At nineteen or twenty years old, we were old enough to buy booze, but were just old enough to realize that maybe blowing money on alcohol isn't always the most fun way to pass the time.

Unable to think of anything else, I came up with those five words that every young man will say at some point in his lifetime and eventually regret:  "Let's go to the Casino!"

These are bad words.  Never learn these words.  As the Animals famously sang, it's been the ruin of many a poor boy.  Saying those five words are almost as bad as "yeah, you do look fat!" or "Sorry officer, I'm really high." 

"I've never been to the casino," Squee said, as we barrelled down an old logging road at Mach-2.  The sonic boom of his sports car was knocking over trees and scaring the hell out of deer. 

"Really?  Well then, you have to go!"

He seemed nonplussed.  "Slot machines seem kind of.... lame."

"Well, yeah.  Slot machines are lame.  That's why you play blackjack!"

"I've never played blackjack."  He said.  My jaw dropped. 

"Seriously?  You've never played blackjack!?"

"Nope."

"Okay.  Turn around.  We're going to the casino.  Right now."

As we hurtled into town at one tenth the speed of light, I explained to Squee the rules of blackjack.  How the goal is to beat the dealer's hand without going over twenty-one.  I explained the customs for betting, how to use hand communication to relay information to the dealer, and how split pots work.

Finally, we got to the casino, make our way inside, and each got about forty bucks worth of blackjack chips.  We sat down at the table, and played a few quick hands.  I lost a few, Squee won a few - just enough that he began to think he was some sort of natural at the game.  At one point, he actually decided to give me advice on the game.  Naturally, he stopped playing for the minimum bet, and put around fifteen bucks down.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?" I asked.

"Dude, I've been doubling up every time.  Let's make more money."

"Um, okay..."

He gets dealt an ace and a nine.  The dealer had an 18.  I'm shaking my head - dumb fucking beginner's luck.   

And then:  "Hit me."

I couldn't have been more surprised.  Literally, were he to take off his belt and slap the dealer with it, it would have been less surprising than those two words.  And it's not just me.  Everyone at the table is shocked.  I try to stop his hand movement, but I'm too late - the dealer drops another card down, shaking his head ruefully.  A five. 

"hit me again," he says, wincing.  And is busted.

"What the hell!?" I shout, absolutely shocked.  "Why would you take a hit on a twenty!?"

"Twenty?  Dude, I had an ace and a nine.  That's ten."  He says it like he's explaining basic math to a five year old. 

"Aces are worth one or eleven!  You had twenty!"

A pause.  "You never told me that."
I looked at him blankly, knowing I had mentioned it, albeit in a possibly roundabout fashion.  And then:

"You know, this 'blackjack' game  plays almost exactly like that game '21'....."

I sighed.  "They're the same game."

"...oh," he looked confused.  "You never told me that."

"Squee, maybe slots are more your speed."

Updates!

There are some changes in this blog coming up on the horizon.  Once I've got myself some steady income flowing in and have liquid assets again (curse you, abject poverty!), Newt's crazy updates will commence.

What changes, you ask?

Well, it's begun to occur to me that maybe I should narrow this blog down a bit.  See, as it stands, it's just a resting place for memories and observations by yours truly.  And, while this might be interesting to the few (relatively speaking) people who know me, it really means absolutely nothing to the unwashed masses.

The goal is, starting relatively soon, to focus this blog more on Victoria and Vancouver Island - with a focus on the music scene.  I'll be writing about random occurences still, but things like "Film Friday" will follow the way of the dodo.  The goal is to write more about live shows, new bands, and the goings-on in this lovely city o' mine.

I'm kind of looking forward to it.  So, yeah. 

World's Best Chili

Ah, chili.  The meal of choice for the unsettlingly poor.  Or at least, my meal of choice when I'm unsettlingly poor - I imagine there are a lot of people out there who would rather live on ramen noodles, spaghetti, and kraft dinner.  But those people are idiots.

Chili is the way to go for a few reasons.  First, it's cheap to make - for a little over ten bucks, you can make a batch large enough to last one person for a couple of days.  Second, because chili tastes better the longer you let the individual flavours mix, it actually tastes better as leftovers.  Third - and most important, for me - if made right, it's a helluva lot healthier than other types of poor people food.

And finally, it goes great with hot sauce.  Always a plus.

It's a little known fact that I make the world's best chili.  People have expressed doubts over this fact, especially when they learn that my chili is completely vegetarian (it might even be vegan!).  But every time they eat it, they wind up grudgingly admitting that, yeah, my chili is awesome.

And I've been eating it for the past two weeks.  I guess it's one of the ups of being poor, eh? 

Anyways, without further ado:

Ingredients
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can chick peas
1 can corn kernels
1 can of either a bean mix, or lentils (I prefer lentils, but the mix works too)
2 larger cans of crushed or diced tomatoes (if you can, get a "garlic" or "chili" mix)
1 can of Aylmer's "Chili Accents" crushed tomatoes
1 packet of Old El' Paso Chili Seasoning
2 Carrots, chopped into small chunks
1/2 Red Onion, chopped into small chunks (the smaller the better!)
2 Stalks of Celery, chopped into bite-sized wedges
1 diced serrano pepper (alternately, use a jalapeno for less spicy chili, and use 2 habaneros for hotter chili;  leave the seeds in!  Omit the pepper if you like milder chili). 
1 tbsp of dried chili pepper flakes
2 tbsp of brown sugar
optional:  1 diced garlic clove
optional:  1 tbsp chili powder

Cooking Instructions
1.  Combine all the beans and corn in a single bowl and drain of any excess fluids.  Rinse this mixture multiple times, to get rid of any gross "bean guck" that will make your chili look ugly.  Drain of any excess fluid, and let the bean mix sit for about fifteen minutes at room temperature.  Drain again, and then dump into crock pot.
2.  Combine all the other ingredients into the crock pot.  Give it a big stir.
3.  Cook on "low" for 6-8 hours, or "high" for 3-4 hours.  Stir approximately every hour or so.  The mix is done when you think it's done, although a good rule to go by is you're good when the carrots are soft but not too soft. 
4.  Best served topped with shredded monterey jack cheese and a dollop of sour cream. 

Variant
Sometimes, I'll cut the onions really big, and fish them out when the chili is done cooking.  Also, I like to put the Serrano pepper seeds into the chili seperately, and I take out the pepper itself when the recipe is done cooking, as it tends to get soggy.  Naturally, use organic ingredients when able.  If you use dried beans, make sure you let them soak for 24 hours before putting in the chili - but I recommend using canned beans, because they really do taste better. 

Crazy Newt's guide to Rye!

You know, I really don't drink much.  Occasionally, this blog might suggest otherwise, but in actuality, I'm really something of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.  And most of the times, when I do drink, it's in fairly small amounts - two or three drinks, tops. 

But sometimes, I run out of things to write about.  And when that happens, I write about whatever random item is sitting on my desk... which happens to be a barely-opened bottle of Canadian Club.  And I realized, even though it might make me sound like a lush, I had to grade my five favourite ryes.

Y'know... for educational purposes. 


Canadian Club:  Known throughout the world.  Originally brewed by that greatest of Canadian distillers, good ol' Hiram Walker himself.  This is probably the best known Rye internationally, although personal experience has told me that it is not as well-liked in Canada as Crown Royale.

 I prefer the "Premium" brand personally, though don't let the name fool you - Premium is their basic blend.  The Reserve blend is probably, ultimately, better, but I just enjoy the smooth taste of basic CC.  Plus, the classic-style bottle makes a great "bloop bloop" noise when you pour it.  I believe I've mentioned this already. 

I remember having a flask of this stuff in my pocket during a Canada Day celebration, and a bottle of CC and Ginger Ale in my other pocket.  I was stopped by a cop who patted me down and found the ginger ale and CC mix and made me dump it.  He never found the flask, and later on that very night I found myself on a boat in the inner harbour, drinking CC straight while watching fireworks explode overhead. 

*Sniff*.  Memories...
Flavour:  A;  Price:  B; Presentation:  A.  Overall :  A-




Crown Royal:  Apparently, the number-one selling Canadian whisky sold in the United States, and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the number one seller in Canada, too.  This is that whiskey that is sold in those purple velvet bags that everyone seems to have - I remember my crossing guard at school giving me a bag for my marbles when I was only about six.  It was really nice of her, although what my crossing guard was doing with an abundance of crown royal bags, I don't know.  I guess life was hard being a crossing guard in the 1980s... knowing all you were doing was preventing natural selection from weeding out the stupid kids who'd otherwise walk into traffic.  I'd probably drink a lot, too. 

Anyways, I like this stuff, although it's a bit nutty and I find the flavour is a bit strong for my liking.  Also, it's usually the most expensive rye, so I rarely buy it.  Sometimes, I think it is a best-seller simply because it is one of the pricier Canadian Ryes.  Great christmas present, though!

All that being said, the worst experience I ever had with alcohol was with Crown Royal.  I was about nineteen or so, and was trying to impress some guys I had just met and this girl I was sort of interested in.  Naturally, I wanted to show how tough I was, so I slammed an entire 750 mL.  I literally watched the liquid disappear, and as I swallowed the last drops, I thought to myself "that was probably a bad id-"

The next thing I know, I'm being dragged back to my campsite asking Squee to "Punch me in the face". 

So yeah, be careful with this stuff, boys and girls!

Flavour:  B+  Price:  C-  Presentation:  A+;  Overall:  B




Gibson's Finest:  Kind of a smaller brand, for a long time, this was my absolute favourite rye whiskey.  It tastes great mixed with ginger ale, it's relatively cheap, and it has this great tinge of walnut or something when you sip it.  The bottle and packaging is kind of lacklustre, and if you keep it on your shelf for awhile like I do, you'll notice the label will quickly start to peel.  But hey, who cares so much about packaging if it tastes good? 

For a while, I used to base which bars I'd frequent based entirely on whether or not they carried this brand... I still choose it over any other store brand when able, and my mom has made a habit of buying me a bottle every year for Christmas.  Not a top seller, but a brand I highly recommend. 

Also, don't drop the bottle on your toe.  I can't stress this enough.  Due to the shape of the bottle, it seems to amplify the weight, and will crush your poor toe into oblivion. 

Flavour:  A-  Price:  A  Presentation:  C Overall:  B




Hiram Walker Reserve:  My drink of choice.  Originally created by the same guy that made Canadian Club (and, I believe, still produced by the same company) this lesser-known rye is essentially a much smoother version of Canadian Club.  It holds the distinction of being the only rye I can drink neat without making "whiskey face".  And it tastes absolutely amazing with ginger ale.

The price fluctuates, but it's roughly equal to Canadian Club.  It comes in a great rectangular bottle and has this deep amber colour to it that always makes me smile.  About the only downside to this stuff is that I've yet to find a bar or restaurant that serves it.  Were I to ever find the place, I'd probably become a regular. 

Flavour:  A+  Price  B Presentation:  A Overall:  A




Wiser's Deluxe:  This drink holds the dubious distinction of being the first rye I ever drank... and it was the first alcohol I ever actually got drunk on.  I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now.  In fact, this rye almost made me swear off ryes completely - it tastes as if someone took the very worst parts of rye whisky, vodka, and rubbing alcohol, and sloshed them all together. 

I remember drinking it for the first time, on a cold spring day and having my friend James teaching me that "the only way to drink it is quickly, and make sure you breathe out the fumes becuase they're what make you gag".  About the only fond memory I have of this stuff is drinking mouthfuls and then trying to spew out fireballs by lighting a match as you spray out.  Which is really a better use of the stuff than actually, you know, drinking it. 

While it is not the worst rye I've ever had (that distinction goes to Royal Reserve or that awful rye from Alberta), it definitely is not a rye I choose to drink if at all possible.  Sure, it's cheap, but there's more to life than just money.  About the only time I wind up drinking this stuff is when I'm at a bar and I don't realize this is the stuff they have tapped.  And it only takes one before I'm dishing out the extra money for Crown Royal or CC. 

Flavour:  C-  Price:  A+  Presentation:  C-  Overall:  C+. 

Weekly Haiku #34: look at me being all poetic!

grayish blue vic skies
-november wind on bare flesh-
...twilight of a year

Job Applications

I've been doing my damnedest to find work.  Even if it's just temporary work.  Because of this, I've been applying to everywhere, including the absolute shittiest jobs available.  I'm talking places like Wal-Mart, Subway, and Denny's.

These massive corporations don't like talking resumes, mind you - they all require you to fill out applications.  And these applications are ridiculous - you basically transcribe your resume, doing your best to make your writing legible (friends will tell you my writing is anything but).

But some weird questions stand out.  And sometimes, just sometimes, they make me want to run for cover.  For example, this little gem from a Denny's Application:

On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being 'disgusting' and 10 being 'heavenly', how delicious would you rate your internal organs?

Luckily, I was able to throw a mug at the manager's face while I fled the building, running in a zig-zag pattern.

Music Mondays - Christian Hansen and the Autistics

While listening to CBC Radio 3, I came across a very strange little band.  And, as you all know, I'm quite the fan of strange little bands.  But this one stood out among all those other strange little bands for one simple reason - they were making a type of music I usually hate.

It's electronic.  It has a dance music vibe to it, with maybe a touch of industrial or 80s new wave thrown in.  The drum beats are simplistic, and the instrumentation is almost entirely digital.  And yet, after listening to songs like Don't Leave Her Out, High School's Over, and Cocaine Trade, I found myself nodding my head in a very Roxbury-esque fashion. 

The band hails from Edmonton, Alberta and they are known as Christian Hansen and the Autistics.  They get five gold stars for the name alone.  And then you watch their videos and live feeds, and you just fall in love with them - 1980s cheese, combined with over-the-top indie self-deference and simple yet complex dance beats with just a hint of early punk thrown in for good measure.

The lead singer (Mr. Hansen, I presume?) kind of reminds me of Rick Astley, in a bizarre sort of way - but rather than the crazy humour involved in rick-rolling, he's in on the joke.  And somehow, that makes it all better. 

All in all, a good collection for driving, cleaning the house, or cheering up the missus.  And definitely a band I'm going to check out when they roll into town.

True Story:

I suffer from insomnia.  While it comes and goes, it's been a part of my life since the day I was born.  And I don't mean that in any form of hyperbole - I was born at 4 am, and was more of less nocturnal for the first week of my life.  And insomnia has followed me since then.

About a week ago, I was lying in bed, tossing and turning.  Even though I had the heat turned off and a window open, I was sweating for some reason - yes, I know, it's November in Canada, but I was hot.  It was about two in the morning, and I'd been in bed for about an hour and half, with no luck getting to sleep.

Finally, I just said "to hell with it" and decided I'd take a walk.  It really does help put me to sleep sometime.  I figured I'd walk down to the Selkirk Waterway, maybe cross the trestle, and then come back home and go to bed.

When I made it to the waterway, it was dark, with the only illumination coming from distant city lights being reflected off obdisian black water.  I felt eyes watching me, and had this strange sense of unease.  I had been on the waterway at night before, so I had no idea why I was so bothered.  Hell, only a few months earlier, I took a girlfriend right down to the waterline to show her the distant parliament buildings - one of the most romantic views in this entire city. 

I come down here all the time, watching majestic herons feed in the water, or seal pups frolic at the shore's edge. 

In short, the waterway is a place I associate with calmness, relaxation, and solitude.  Not quiet unease.  But that was how I felt.

I began to think about the homeless, and how it was a possibility that, due to the crappy winter weather, it was possible some homeless people were using the area as a camping site.  When I saw an abandoned shopping cart, despite the fact that there are no grocery stores anywhere nearby, I began to really believe in this theory.

I made my way to the trestle, and started walking anxiously.

And then something hit me on the back.

It wasn't hard - it felt like someone threw a stick at me that barely bounced off my back.  But I was already a bit anxious, and spun around, ready to fight.  My fists were in the air, as I stared at road around me.  Waiting for my assailant to materialize.

And then something moved in the bush.  I spun to face the bush... and saw a heron, flying away.  And that's when I realized:

I had just been kicked by a heron.

A Joke.... a very long joke.

A few years back, I heard the doorbell ring.  I got up from my chair, wearing nothing but a ratty pair of boxer shorts and one wool sock pulled up to the knee.  Opening the door, I at first saw absolutely nothing.  And then, I looked down. 

It was a giant snail. 

Now, by "giant", I don't mean "Oh my God, that snail is bigger than a building!"  What I mean is, of course, "Comparatively Giant".  Around other snails, I'm sure this guy would be like King Kong to those chimpanzees that smoke cigars and wear diapers.

But to me, it stood about a foot tall.  Roughly the height of Tom Cruise. 

"Excuse me, sir, but if I could...." it began, in a voice that sounded strangely like Art Garfunkel's. 

"Get the fuck out of here," I said, and promptly kicked the snail in the air and went back into my house.

I have to admit, I felt guilty about the whole event.  I mean, who was I to treat someone like that? Sure, can we really refer to a giant snail as a "someone"?  Is a hermaphroditic wanderer of an entirely different, almost alien, species still something worthy of our respect as human beings?  I mean, despite all that, people like Carrot top, right?

Okay, bad example.

But this got me thinking about the nature of empathy.  It plagued me for months - I would lie awake at night, tossing and turning as I stared up at my ceiling, wondering... Who am I?  Why would I do such a thing?  And, most importantly, if I was able to treat another entity with such calloused disdain and hatred once, would I do it again?

Would I be able to stop myself?

Eventually, after a year of being plagued by demons, wondering about the nature of my eternal soul, I sold all my worldly possessions and went to Asia.  I wandered Tibet, where I held long conversations with buddhist monks.  I meditated in India, speaking with hindus about the nature of rebirth and reincarnation.  And I did some other religious stuff in, oh, I don't know, China or something.  Lit some candles and snorted rice or whatever. 

After two years of soul-searching, I finally felt at peace with myself.   While I could not change the past, I could at least accept my new understanding of humanity and the nature of empathy that keeps all of us individual organisms connected in one world-spanning web of interconnectedness and mutual debt. 

I got home, got my house back, and got back to living. 

One day, as I was busy repainting a wall in my living room, which was soon to be my meditation den, the doorbell rang.  I opened the door, and saw nothing.  And then, I looked down.
It was a giant snail.

In a voice, not unlike Art Garfunkel's, he piped up "What the fuck was that all about?"

Movember Update:

Just to let y'all know, because I'm still unable to post pictures... the movember challenge continues!  I have, at this point, avoided shaving for thirteen days! (I had my last shave on October 30th).  However, I have trimmed any and all "neck beard" because, well, it's hard enough finding a job already without adding THAT in. 

The goal is, in two weeks, to shave a pac man into my beard, chasing a ghost. 

There will be photos.  I just have to find a way to post them. 

Hunh

There was a murder a block away from my house today.  Less than 24 hous after it happened, I actually walked right past this building (it's on a sideroad, on the path of my nightly insomnia-inspired walks). 

Kind of creepy. 

Film Friday: I've had it with these monkey-fighting snakes....

I'm a big fan of movies.  But I absolutely *hate* watching movies on TV.  The reason is pretty simple - the movie has been edited, often heavily, to fit TV censors.  Sometimes, the censors will even cut out vital scenes which are referenced later in the film.  Last week, I saw a short film on the independant movie channel that had the entire LAST SCENE cut.  You know, the important scene that closes out the film? 

But language censors are the best.  You know, those movies where they do a voiceover, so that instead of John McClane saying "Yipee Kay Yay, mother fucker" he says "Yippee Kay Yay, Melon Farmer"?

That stuff is golden.  Case in point: 

(warning - SOOOO not safe for work!  So many curses, so little time!)

Guitar Shenanigans

I had a nice long post here about how to read guitar tab literature, and how sometimes the people (even professionals) who transcribe it make really silly errors.  And how these errors can really get in the way for those trying to learn relatively simple songs.

But the moral of the story was that I figured out a much easier way to play Mother Mother's "Tic Toc" than the suggested way, and now I just want to brag. 

It took me less than an hour to learn the song.  And it got me really psyched about playing music again.  I've been strumming my guitar for the last few hours, just having fun.  Sometimes, life is peachy when you're on EI - you don't come home all stressed out about work.  You just... play guitar and write songs that no one is ever going to hear because, let's face it, they suck.   

Flip side of the coin? 

Realizing you have absolutely no spare cash for things like guitar strings.  And that those songs you wrote are probably going to come back and embarrass you at some point in the future. 

Gah.

P.S. to my good pal Kate - I'm sorry in being so far behind on penpalery!  I had mail written up, but it was too long and it sucked, so I'm re-writing it so that it's awesome.  Also, do you want me to send you a guitar tuner?  It's one of my old ones, and while it's not perfect, it's better than nothing.  I was going to ask you in letter format, but it's quicker this way.

I stand corrected.

I just found out that Chuck Berry isn't dead.  He has never, in fact, been dead.  He was "not alive" throughout much of human history, coming to life only very recently in geological terms.  However, he is not dead.

This really threw me for a loop.  I've been under the assumption that he died of Tuberculosis in the 1960s, which is why he didn't sue Michael J. Fox for that scene in Back to the Future that implies Mr. Berry stole his trademark sound from a time-travelling kid from the 1980s. 

Seriously, now.  My facebook occasionally provides me with information about my interests, and it told me that there was a concert in Ireland that Chuck Berry would be unable to attend.  This made me laugh, because I was sure it was one of those stupid jokes - like, I'm throwing a party, but unfortunately, Elvis will not be able to attend.  In fact, when I read the notice, I may have said "of course he can't attend... he's been dead for half a century!"

Nope.  I'm wrong.  Mr. Berry is still very much alive.  And, in fact, he's still doing concerts.  At ninety-four. 

Boy, got egg on my face. 

Weekly Haiku #33: Movember Musings

day three... it itches
finger cut rubbing my chin
i'm sandpaperface

A day in the life

I'm walking to the lottery store with a third generation lottery ticket in my hand.  The rain is coming down softly, so I pull myself tighter into my hoodie and wonder idly how soon it will be before I need to invest in a heavy jacket.  I've gone entire winters jacketless, and I find myself hoping I'll make it through another one without having to put down the two hundred bucks to grab a new coat.

It's been three weeks since I bought the first lottery ticket.  A spur-of-the-moment purchase at the convenience store, grabbed entirely so that I wouldn't get so much change when I used that twenty-dollar bill to pick up a pack of gum.  And so far, it's done pretty well for itself - each week, I get just enough numbers right to give me a new ticket. 

It's almost a weekly ritual at this point.  I walk into the store, make idle chit-chat, and check my ticket.  When I get my free ticket, I grab another pack of gum with a ten, getting enough change for laundry that week. 

Each time I check the ticket, I superstitiously avoid thinking about it - if I avoid thinking about winning, I increase my odds of winning.  I know it's a completely pointless thought that lacks any sense or reason, but there it is. 

It's a game.  It's as if I'm using reverse psychosis on fate.  "Look, fate, obviously I don't care whether I win or lose.  In fact, I'm not thinking about it all... I WANT to lose.  So, go ahead.  Let me lose."  And so far, it's worked.  Each week, I win a free ticket, carrying on the period in which I subconsciously think I may be a millionaire, while consciously doing everything I can to avoid thinking about that possibility. 

I get to the convenience store, walking past a small dog tied to a post.  The rain drips off the eaves, collecting in a puddle that the dog drinks from.  The asian couple nod to me as I enter, while they watch a chinese soap opera on a laptop.  I mingle through the store, grabbing a pack of gum on my way to the lottery checker.  Spearmint.  I swipe the ticket, waiting.  Trying not to think of what I would do if I won millions.

Trying not to think of the house I'd buy - small, but with maybe half an acre of land and maybe even on the water.   With a bar in the basement large enough for a pool table and maybe a drum set.  A kitchen with an island and a large stove.  A garden.

Trying not to think of maybe buying a boat.  Trying not to think of taking my friends out for some crazy party.  Trying not to think of which charities would receive a portion of my largesse.  Trying not to think of the guitars I would buy.  Trying not to think of being able to be a full-time student.

Of course, I fail miserably.  Just for a second, I think of what I would do if I won that money.  And, of course, in that second, I've lost.  Because the machine tells me "Sorry - Please Play Again". 

I shrug, defeated, and approach the cashier.  She smiles back at me, aware that my run of "free ticket luck" has died.  She swipes my gum while I fumble in my pocket.  All I have is a twenty. 

What the hell.

"Can I have another ticket?  With the extra?"