Music Mondays - Any way the wind blows...



(Crap!  I think they're out there!)

(What do they want?)

(A post, I imagine....)

(Like, a full post?)

(Yeah, I think so.)

(Don't they realize you're a busy guy?)

(I don't know)

(And very, very important?)

(I have no idea)

(Don't they know you have better things to do, than to entertain them with your amazing wit?)

(I haven't the foggiest)

(The philistines!)

(So.  What should I do?)

(Um.  Take the easy way out and post a link to something silly?)

(I couldn't do that to them.  It's so lame and unoriginal)

(Well, then, I guess you'll just have to buckle down and post something then, eh?)


Hey, ladies and gents!  I was strolling around the internet, and saw this amazing video.  After seeing it, I just knew I had to share.  You see, it's a very, um... uh....


(*runs away*)

The Crazy Newt Customer Illegibility Scale:

Gah.  Indecipherable/heavily-accented/mentally-handicapped customers.  Gotta love 'em.  I've found that when referring to such customers, some sort of "indecipherability scale" needs to be in place.  And so, during a few slow minutes at work, a co-worker and I put together the "Crazy Newt Customer Illegibility Scale". 

Note that this scale only measures communication problems.  Someone could be very easy to speak to (a rating of "0") and yet be an absolute moron with nothing to say.    Which, unfortunately, is often the case.


Easy Communication (Rating = 0)
  • Customer speaks fluent English.  While there may be a slight accent, it is barely noticeable. 
  • Customer is able to understand what you are saying, and is able to articulate a response. 
  • Example"Hi.  My name is Matt, and there seems to be a problem with my account at your store location.  I was hoping I could talk to someone to, um, clear it all up.  Thank you."
Slightly Strained (Rating = 1)
  • Customer speaks English, but may forget, misuse, or mispronounce a few words.  There may be an accent, but it does not impair understanding what is being said.
  • Customer understands what you are saying, almost perfectly.
  • Example"Hello?  My name is, er, Mattias.  There is a.... er.... problem?... with my account at your store.  Can we fix it?  Thanks you."
Strained (Rating = 2)
  • Customer speaks English, but likes to pepper his speech with "colloquialisms" from back home.  He also may have difficulty speaking the language, and probably mumbles or cannot pronounce certain vowels.  Customer will often use the same words, and may use the same phrase again and again, simply to "beef up" his sentences, even if the phrase has no import on the subject at hand.
  • Customer often has difficulty understanding what you're saying, and will often misunderstand and give you completely useless information (when you ask him where he is calling from, he'll say something like "A cell phone" or "Vancouver", rather than a street or something like that).
  • Example"Er, hi.  *mumble mumble mumble* I tell you this, *mumble mumble* store... money!  No working.  *mumble mumble mumble* Fix this, I tell you this!  *mumble mumble* many thank yous!  I tell you this, Many thank yous!"
Very Strained (Rating = 3) 
  • Customer can barely speak English.  In fact, it sounds less like English, and more like someone who has never spoken English doing an impersonation of an English speaker.   Hand motions almost always accompany the speaker - even when they are talking on the phone, which has its own difficulties.  The customer will speak in a very loud voice, and use only a few words, hoping that if he says "money" enough, you'll realize there's a bill jam at an ATM he is using. 
  • Customer will completely misunderstand what you're saying at least once every other sentence.  Often, this will be followed with "I no understand" or the customer just repeating their previous sentence.  Sometimes, you get the customer that says "yeah" or "I understand", simply because they don't want you to realize that they know about as much about your language as you know about theirs.
  • Example"*foreign language speaking rapidly* Money!  Money... store!  *children screaming in the background in pakistani* Yes.  Hello?  Money.  Store.  I use... store.  *more rapid speaking in foreign language... it sounds like someone is selling shrimp in the background*.  Fix!  *customer puts phone down to yell at his screaming children.  Guy selling shrimp picks up phone, and you can hear him getting attacked by your original speaker.  Phone disconnects*
...What the Fuck?  (Rating = 4)
  • Customer is not speaking English.  In fact, you are pretty sure it isn't any language at all.  Not only can your client not speak English very well, but he cannot speak his OWN language very well.  You may as well attempt communication through morse code.  When the customer does speak English, it is only through words that may or not even be tangetially related to the subject at hand. 
  • Customer does not understand you.  But, in almost every case, the customer is very angry with you.  On the plus side, you can call him whatever dirty name you like - he has no idea what you're saying.  On the downside, while he can't speak English... he does know how to dial your number.  And he will.
  • Example*loud screaming over the phone* BLARESH!  Fish!  Fish!  Ia!  Ia!  Cthulu Ftaghn!" 

And the walls just stare back

Every few months, I start reading old blog posts I've made.  I'll just kind of bring up a post, start reading, and occasionally... I'll laugh.  I know it's a bad thing to laugh at your own jokes - it's no different than that guy who only listens to music he's recorded himself, or the writer who proudly proclaims "everyone but me is a hack!". 

But, it sneaks up on me.  I usually have almost completely forgotten the post in question, and it's as if I'm reading someone else's blog.  "This blog is pretty funny," I'll say to myself.  "Why can't I write like that?"

Then there's this awkward pause.  I stare at the walls.  And the walls just stare back.

Film Fridays: Questionable Previews

While watching the previews for Funny People the other day, there was an ad for yet another American Pie movie.  It looked like your typical umpteenth sequel, with just enough ties to the original that fans of the series (apparently, they exist) wouldn't be too upset. 

For the record, the original American Pie was okay, for what it was.  And the second one wasn't horrible, either.  But it all sort of went downhill (well, even moreso) from there.  So, I avoid the movies almost as much as I avoid the plague.  Or Diet Pepsi.

Anyways, during the preview for this movie, there's a scene where he gets women to show him their breasts due to a poker game or something.  And, amazingly, the preview actually shows the scene in its entirety.  A few points:
  1. Are previews really allowed to do this?  Don't previews have to follow a certain rating scale?
  2. What is the point of doing this?  Shouldn't you show the hot women, cut the actual boob flashing, and then show the awesome reaction shot?  As if to say "if you really want to see these women's breasts, you're gonna have to fork out some cash". 
  3. Most importantly, how come this has never happened at any poker game I've ever played?  Is there a new version of the rules I'm not informed of?
Also, it always amuses me that in any "high school" comedy, all of the women seem to be older than I am (I'm 26).  And they all seem to have fake breasts.  While I could be living in candy land, I'm pretty sure the average girl in my high school didn't have double-Ds that were mostly artificial and doubled as floatation devices.  Which is probably unfortunate, since we lived by the sea, and there was always at least one drowning a year that could have been prevented had naturally buoyant breasts been readily grabbable.

The girls of my school, however, tended to not be of the "mostly plastic" variety.  While quite a few were dumb (but hey, we all were - this is high school, we're talking about here), I'm pretty sure the average girls at my school were a far shot from being absolute bimbos who couldn't keep their shirts on in a poker game if their lives depended on it (that'll learn 'em for playing a Queen Seven off suit!)

This is probably a good thing, though.  If I went to school with those bimbo-ey girls, my already abysmal high school grades would have dropped down even more.  What can I say?  I'm easily distracted. 

(As a side note, I almost made a joke about how you could equate a woman's breast size with their average grade - if they were mostly As, they mostly got As.... and so on down the road.  Luckily, I have matured through the years, and did not make that joke.  You can all bask in my maturity).

Actual Customer Calls...

As I write this, it's a relatively slow sunday afternoon at the ATM office.  It'd almost be pleasant... were it not for the morons that have decided to call me.  And they ring, hour after hour - people with the most inane complaints or concerns.  I think it's because I've been reading Dr. Grumpy's blog in my off time, and they seem to have picked up on it.

Seriously, guys - my customers have become dumber.  Something is going on.  Because there's an epidemic of "dumb".  Check it out:

DAZED AND CONFUSED:  Um, hi.  I'm in >>Hospital Name<< right now, and I'm using your ATM.
DAVE:  Mm hmm?
DAZED AND CONFUSED:  Well, I tried to take money out of your ATM and it wouldn't work.  Is there a way I can take money out of your ATM without using a card?  I seem to have lost mine...
DAVE:  Um.  Not legally, no.
DAZED AND CONFUSED:  Oh.  See, I need some money because I just parked my car... I need some change.
DAVE:  Well, um our ATM doesn't give change...
DAZED AND CONFUSED:  Really?  What if I put a twenty in it?
DAVE:  Uh.  It's an ATM, sir.  I can only dispense money.
DAZED AND CONFUSED:  Oh!  I have to use my debit card?
DAVE:  Yes.
DAZED AND CONFUSED:  How do I do that?


DAVE:  Hi there, how can I-
GAMBLING MAN (At a well known casino/race track):  Your ATM isn't working.  I'm at >>Casino<< and it won't give me money.
DAVE:  Ah, yes.  Unfortunately, that particular machine won't be in service for a little while.  It's broken, and we're sending a part-
GAMBLING MAN:  But I want to gamble now!
DAVE:  I understand.  But that particular machine has an error that needs to be fixed and-
GAMBLING MAN:  So when is the error fixed?
DAVE:  Well, on tuesday, but there are other machines at the casino-
GAMBLING MAN:  So you're saying I have to wait until tuesday before I can take out money?  I want to play the slots now!
DAVE:  No, sir, there are other ATMs at the Casino, you'll just have to ask a staff member to show you where they are in the location.
GAMBLING MAN:  What?  Your company made a mistake, and now you expect me to fix it?
DAVE:  Um.  No.  I'm saying you have to ask a staff member to show you where a working ATM is, because I've never been to >>Ontario Casino<<
GAMBLING MAN:  Well, that much is obvious.
DAVE:  Okay.  I work at >>ATM Company<< not at the casino, sir.  And we're trying to fix our machines.  There are working machines there, I just don't know exactly where, but I'm sure a staff member would be happy to-
GAMBLING MAN:  This is just fucking ridiculous.  *click*


ANOTHER GAMBLER:  Hi, I'm at >>another Casino<< and your machine doesn't work.
DAVE:  Okay?  What seems to be the problem? 
ANOTHER GAMBLER:  It says the machine is temporarily out of service.
DAVE:  Ah, yes!  That machine is out of service for the next few minutes.  I'm just getting some info from it.
ANOTHER GAMBLER:  So, have I been billed for my transaction?
DAVE:  no.  Did you put your card in the machine?
DAVE:  Then you should be fine, sir.
ANOTHER GAMBLER:  So, what I'm supposed to do?
DAVE:  I'd recommend using another machine?
ANOTHER GAMBLER:  Uh, okay.  Where is another machine?
DAVE:  Are you standing by the ATM right now?
DAVE:  Look to your right.
ANOTHER GAMBLER:  Oh, hey!  There's another ATM there.
DAVE:  Have a good day, sir!


VISA LADY:  Hi, I use your machine.  It no work...
DAVE:  Okay.  Um, what seems to be the problem.
VISA LADY:  I use my Visa Premium Pratinum card, and no work.
DAVE:  Well, unfortunately, our machines do not accept Visa.
VISA LADY:  But it no work.
DAVE:  I understand.  Our ATMs do not accept Visa...
VISA LADY:  It premium card.  Just got.
DAVE:  Yes. 
VISA LADY:  I enter pin number and everything.
DAVE:  Yes, but our machines do not accept Visa cards.
VISA LADY:  But it no work.
DAVE:  Right.  It won't work.  Because our ATMs do not accept Visa Cards.
VISA LADY:  Your machine no take Visa?
DAVE:  Our machines do not take Visa.
VISA LADY:  No take Premium Visa?
DAVE:  No take Premium Visa.
VISA LADY:  Ohh....
DAVE:  Is there anything else I can help you with today, miss?
VISA LADY:  You take Mastercard?
DAVE:  Yes.  Our machiens take mastercard.
VISA LADY:  Oh.  Can I appry for mastercard, then?
DAVE:  (bangs head on desk)

Weekly Haiku #29: A Note to the first aiders I work with

air tank is empty
turn it off when you're done, please
oxygen ain't free

Music Mondays - An Actual Conversation with a Credit Counselling Agency:

During the work week, I process papers in a Collection Centre.  It's boring work, and part of it involves talking to credit counsellors... people who try to consolidate the debts of the broke and set up payment arrangements with the creditors.  They have a job just as depressing as my own, and they have to deal with a lovely class of people - people that don't pay their bills, get sick of harrassing phone calls, and so enter a credit counselling service... and then are surprised when they're expected to actually, you know, pay their bills.

I was discussing this phenomenon with one of the counselling ladies, when she said she'd had enough of it.  That she wasn't going to take it anymore, and would just call them on their B.S.  "Just like that song," she said.

"What song is that?"  I asked, completely lost. 

She didn't know the name, but she started giving me the lyrics. 

And that was how I wound up singing Twisted Sister's "We're not gonna take it" over the phone with a credit counsellor in her mid thirties.  And how one of the collectors, upon hearing it being sung, decided to join in. 


Speaking of the Sheldon Sisters...

Don't believe how dumb the sisters I was talking about yesterday are? I can give you an actual conversation that happened in class, remembered freshly 10+ years after the event.

It was during a history class - a discussion of Rasputin.

TEACHER: ...and so they had to get rid of Rasputin. They tried poisoning him, but it didn't work. Then they shot him a few times, but he did not die. They tried to strangle him, but he fought on, and was still alive. They beat him with clubs, and he lived. Eventually, they threw his body in the water, and he died of drowning.
SHELDON SISTER: (Raises hand) Um. I heard that's not what happened at all.
TEACHER: (raises eyebrow) Oh? What happened?
SHELDON SISTER: Well, I heard he was murdered.

A Complete aside:

God, those french canadians really like their hockey.  Holy opening ceremonies, batman!

The Sheldon Sisters

I've been taking some trips down memory lane lately.  And you're all going to have to just sit back and deal with it.  Hopefully, it won't mean much to you, since these trips down memory lane are hilarious.  And make fun of people who are most definitely not me... for the most part.

I've been thinking about the Sheldon twins lately.  "Sheldon" not being their actual last name (or even close), but there's an association here that people who have gone to my high school might be able to catch.  But I digress. 

The Sheldon twins were two of the absolute dumbest people I have ever had the misfortune of meeting.  They were two girls in high school who were perfectly able-minded (ie, they didn't need to wear a helmet to class, and they had no attached care workers or anything).  However, these girls were so damned stupid that we would all sometimes wonder how these girls got out of bed in the morning.  And yes, they were "Stupid" even in comparison to us mid-nineties kids in our frayed shirts, mushroom cuts, and Limp Bizkit fixation.

There was the time the twins were convinced that they lived on the mainland (we all lived near Victoria, which is, for those not in the know, on Vancouver Island).  They had lived here their whole lives, and yet they did not know that Victoria is part of an island.

"But, no... I thought Vancouver was on Vancouver island... isn't that why it's called that?"

Now, I I know it can be confusing.  And I don't blame tourists for getting mixed up or asking a passerby the nearest road to drive to Vancouver.  But when you've lived here your whole life, you should know that you're on an island.  You should also know that you can't take a bridge to Vancouver.  These girls?  Apparently they missed the orientation session, or something.

They'd make stupid comments, every damned day.  A lot of if was just plain ignorance ("They don't speak spanish in Mexico... they speak Mexican"), and a lot of it was just stuff they learned from TV without thinking much on it ("did you know that they live in igloos in Ontario?").  But that was their particular breed of stupidity - to take something put in front of them, and just accept it without questioning it.

Naturally, this made them a prime target for the likes of my friends and I.

There was the time we convinced them that my friend Blowkie "liked to fuck small birds".  We also went on to explain that this was because Blowkie had an incredibly small penis, and birds were the perfect size for it.  And the twins bought the story in its entirety.  It makes me afraid for the future, it really does.

It all culminated in an elevator at school, with Blowkie, the Sheldon twins, and myself.  Blowkie and I were on one side, the twins on the other - staring off vapidly into space - when I saw one of the twins whisper to the other "He likes to fuck birds".

Blowkie and I both heard, look at each other and exchanged a glance.  It was an unspoken conversation and it went something like this:

BLOWKIE:  Hey, wanna mess with them?
DAVE:  Yes.  And let's make it epic.
BLOWKIE:  Gotcha.  Try to keep up.

At that moment, Blowkie started screaming and frothing at the mouth and started throwing his body at the elevator door.  He put his entire weight into the throws, which causes the elevator to rock a bit. "A bird!  A bird!  I neeed a biiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrd!"  he screamed as loud as he could.  It echoed in the tight confines of the elevator.  The twins screamed.

"He needs his medication!" I shouted.  "He's having an attack!" 

I feigned terror, while trying to "restrain" my friend, who continued to shout about the odd things he wanted to do to birds. 

We played this little game for the elevator ride.  And then, when the doors opened, we walked out as if nothing had happened.  Literally - one second Blowkie was screaming, and then there was a bell and the doors opened, and he was fine.

We thought it was funny as hell.  The twins never realized they were getting messed with.  They gave Blowkie a wide berth after that.  And they told all of their friends - it was, after all, "proof" that the rumour was true.

Gotta love the gullible.    

Film Friday: The Best Movie EVER MADE....

It's a well known fact that, these days, Hollywood is not a fan of original movies.  The reasoning is actually pretty sound - movies that are based on original concepts have a chance to fail.  It is much more profitable to instead make movies that belong to a franchise, since each new iteration will (in theory) draw in more and more fans. 

Failing that, it is a better idea to make a movie based on an established trope or subject than it is to tread new territory - while many of those "new territory" films can wind up grossing a decent amount of money, they are just as likely to fail miserably, costing some studio exec his career and (more importantly) fancy parking space.

I'm not saying anything new, here.  I think most people that watch movies are aware of this.  It's why we see the same movies, again and again, and why we see other movies getting remade every ten years or so.  How many batman movies have been made?  How many batman movies have been made that offer different explanations for how batman came to be?  Hell, did you hear that they're remaking spider-man?

You know, a movie that was released less than ten years ago?

I have a prediction.  Someone in hollywood is going to make a movie that takes all of these subjects, all of these genres, and mashes them all together.  Someone is going to take all of those high-grossing films, tie them together with a formulaic plot, and see what happens.  And the awful thing is... it'll probably work.

I have the story already figured out.  It goes a little something like this:

A rather attractive male in his late teens (played by an actor in his early thirties) gets a summer job working for his uncle at a strange island in costa rica.  During the nights, he goes to a seaside village community and dances in front of the locals, where he of course meets another attractive teen (played by an actress who is as close to 18 as possible, so she can show bewb) - and they strike off a happy go lucky relationship. 

Then the dinosaurs attack.  These dinosaurs are (of course) bred by our hero's uncle, and they swarm over the island, killing all of the ethnic locals while letting the white man (and a witty black guy who seems to only speak in one-liners) run free.  Luckily, our male lead develops super powers due to a dinosaur bite, and is able to fight them off.  Also, he has a shotgun.  And a muscle shirt that gets covered in sweat.

At one point, the dinosaurs put our heroine in a corner.  And nobody puts her in a corner.  So our hero busts in and beats them up.  At this point, we discover our brooding heroine is a vampire who twinkles in the sunlight.  She thanks our hero by gazing up at him, longingly. 

Then a T-Rex breaks in, and transforms into a truck for some reason.  To escape, our heroes jump into a car and time travel back to the start of the movie, where comic hijinx ensure.  The heroes have a passionate kiss, and try to escape on the cruise ship that is leaving the island.  Our hero even draws a picture of his nekkid girflriend (yay for 18 year old bewbs!). 

Of course, the ship sinks because it hit an iceberg.  In Costa Rica.  So, the heroes get back in the time-travelling DeLorean and make it back to the present time, where the shape-changing T-Rex is now trying to get a career started as a rapper.  This career fails, and the dinosaur falls over, clutching its chest.  A baby velociprator emerges, and runs around.   It is, apparently, very scary, because our heroes hide behind a door.  "it's a good thing they can't open doors" our heroine says. 

Of course, the next scene involves the door slowly, ominously, being opened.  And then we have a thrilling climax in which there's a shootout and a car chase, for some reason.  Because not only can this velociraptor open doors, but it also apparently able to drive stick. 

The Annoying Customers, Part One:

I work two different jobs that involve customer service.  The nature of the beast changes whether it's the weekend job or the weekday job, but it's still definitely a beast.  A drooling, moronic beast that is prone to uttering the phrase "it's not my fault" as a defence mechanism, and is prone to impulse sueing

After dealing with these customers for a while, I realized there were numerous different "types" of customers that call me.  And I'm sure they call you, too.  So, here's a field guide so any customer service professional can easily identify and spot the annoying customer. 

And laugh at them.  Because, naturally, I have to make fun of them.  It's what I do.

Sue me.

The Helping Hand

This customer will contact you because he is suffering from a slightly unusual problem - something is not workign the way it should in your place of employment, and this customer is suffering as a result.  Alternately, he could be making a request that you are capable of covering, but do not usually have to deal with. 

For example, he could have a printer jam because he used an incorrect size of paper not covered by the default printer setting.  Or he could have a jammed bill in an ATM.  Or he could want a coffee that's "not so hot" and wants you to put an icecube in it (and you have to run to the backroom to get an ice cube). 

Even after you fix the problem, this customer will not be satisfied.  Instead, he feels it is his job to offer you advice on how to perform your job.  He will quickly offer you a solution that would fix the current situation at hand.

Quite often, these solutions would indeed make servicing this particular customer easier - while slowing everything else down.  That printer should automatically adjust itself to fit paper sizes, rather than requiring "crazy technical skills" to adjust that in print settings.  That ATM should have a wider mouth so it's easier to pull clear bill jams (and easier for people to, y'know, steal money).  And you should have a freezer by the cash register, stocked with ice cubes, so that you don't have to run to the back to get those ice cubes.  Who cares if it's in the way the other 98% of the time? 

How do you deal with these guys?  Two simple words.  Repeat after me:  mmm hmm.  Say it while he speaks, and nod emphatically.
Then, finger him when his back is turned. 

Works every time.

The Caped Crusader

This lovely customer is, about 75% of the time, a middle-aged white female from the upper middle class.  Quite often, she belongs to the PTA, a church group, or some other social organization.  She is usually very fond of bake sales.  She has led a nigh-on perfect life, and as a result, she becomes overly angry when faced with minor problems that most people would look upon with slight inconvenience.  Whereas most people will simply shrug or sigh, this customer is known to shriek "what do you mean, there's no milk?" 

To put it simply, this woman has the same level of pespective as a short-sighted mole.  On a foggy day. 

This customer will feel so slighted by the failures of your company that she feels a certain responsibility - to the public at large, you see - to prevent it from ever happening again.  This woman often sees herself as the next Rosa Parks... only instead of that whole bus thing, her goal is to make sure that no one will ever have to wait in line on a busy saturday afternoon ever again

No matter what you do, this customer is going to be angry for your failures.  And she will tell you of her plans to rid the world of the evil threat you represent.  She is going to write letters to the editor (because she's friends with the editor, of course), she is going to spend some of her money to place an ad on the TV listings channel, and she is going to call into the radio.  After all, how dare you knowingly put ATMs into service that occasionally time out for five minutes?     

Luckily, this customer is very easy to deal with.  Endure her tirade until she gets tired and leaves (her blood sugar is probably getting low... it's always getting low). I find that it helps to make lists in your head while it's going on - for example, compile a list of animals you'd find on a farm, or four letter words that best describe this woman you're stuck dealing with - and then smile sweetly when she leaves.  And don't worry - she's not going to call the radio or deal with the editor or anything like that.  Because these people have very little follow-through.

Either that, or their husbands laugh at them when they furiously describe their newest crusade over the dinner table.

The "God Bless You"

The God Bless You's are probably the nicest sort of annoying customer you can get.  But make no mistake -they're still annoying.  And you're allowed to feel annoyed by them. 

It generally works like this:  they have a problem, and it's often a fairly big problem in their life right now.  They could have a drunk uncle who keeps borrowing money from your institution, leaving the poor customer stuck footing the bill.  Or they could have left their wallet at your store, and need the money inside to pay their rent.  So on, and so forth.

When they come to you hoping for a resolution, they are so surprised to see you fix the problem quickly and helpfully that they come to tears (brought on, no doubt, from their recent stress) that they grab your hands and repeat "God bless you" over and over again.

Usually, there's a crowd of your co-workers watching.  And, far from feeling like a hero, you feel like you're receiving praise you don't really deserve.  After all, you didn't do anything special - most of the time, you probably just followed company policy or did some basic human act of kindness (you left a message on your service to no longer loan to the drunk uncle, or you looked through the wallet to find the lady's name, looked her up online, and gave her a call letting her know you had her waller). 

So what?  You're a nice guy.  You certainly don't want to bring God into this, right?

The problem with thiscustomer?  They're about 50% likely to start crying.  And that's rarely fun. 

Weekly Haiku #28: Spring is in the air...

the spring sun rises
necklines plunge, skirts soar, skin gleams
and eyes will wander

Music Mondays - Completely Random Trip Down Memory Lane...

It's time for a trip down memory lane. 

When I was in high school, I had a teacher who was kind of a jack of all trades.  He taught music primarily, but he was also a social studies instructor and a psychology teacher.  The irony being, the guy was so energetic and weird that most of the students felt he was the last person who should be teaching psych.  Seriously - he would tell the class about his various cats, and would give people bonus marks if they drew pictures of cats on their papers.  If memory serves, he had a cat with half a head that he had rescued from an animal shelter, named something like Mewky. 

From ninth grade until twelfth grade, I think I had this teacher about seven times (three years for guitar, twice for social studies, and twice for psychology... I think).  So I knew him pretty well, and volunteered to help him out for extracurricular stuff.  We got along fairly well, despite the fact that he was terminally anal about handing in papers and I steadfastly believed in the art of "meh" during high school.  One girl in my guitar class got an "A" even though she could barely name all the strings on the instrument... whereas the kids that could actually play the instrument were getting D's because they wouldn't hand in their "practice logs" since we didn't want to bug our parents. 

A lot of what he said bugged me during high school, and came off half-cocked (for example, his statement to our psych class that people "way back then" lived healthier because they weren't exposed to all of this modern stuff - the Bible said people lived for thousands of years, and some mesopotamians lived for ten thousand years! and so on an so forth).  But one thing really, really bugged me. 

He asked our psychology class (a psychology class, not a music class, an anthropology class, or a socials class, where it would be more in context) what the first human musical instrument was.  And so the class listed off all of their guesses:  drums?  Nope.  Something like a flute?  Nope.  Maybe it was a bone that you banged on?  Nah.  Did they maybe bang the skulls of their dead family members together, in a very Black Sabbath-style fashion?  God no.  And on, and on, and on.

His answer was that the first human instrument was the human voice.  That humans were making music with their voices and bodies long before there was any external addition.  And of course, he's right - we were singing long before we ever touched a drum. 

But the voice is not an instrument.  It was, in essence, a trick question, and we in the class were made to feel stupid simply because he was approaching it with a loose terminology, and we were looking on it in a specific manner.

What got me mad was the fact that it was completely unrelated to the subject at hand, and that he was doing his turn at being Socrates or something and had this all-knowing smile on his face while we honestly tried to figure out his little riddle.  And the riddle itself was flawed - it'd be like me asking you what Michael Jordan's favourite food is, and then after you guessed a bazillion times, telling you Jordan's favourite food was Gatorade, as if that should be obvious. 

When I tried pointing this out to him in class, he just told me that yes, the voice was an instrument, and that he knew a thing or two about music, so I should just accept his point.  What that point was, I have no clue.  He never got around to it.  I think because his headless cat had just bought a new hat, or something.  (Did I mention that apparently, the cat spoke to him?) 

I have no idea why I've been thinking about all this lately.  Probably because I just sat there and didn't argue my point.  Were it to happen today, I'm sure I would have been all vocal, calling him all manner of idiot. 

I mean, it's pretty obvious the first musical instrument was the Banjo.



Got an e-mail from the boss at the ATM company I work for during the weekends.  It pointed out an error I had made (it was a silly error - I'm amazed he didn't say "you're a moron" at some point in the e-mail), and explained how to fix it.  And then he spent a good three paragraphs telling me what a great job I've been doing for the company.

I got the e-mail while I was blogging.  In another window, I had open an ER nurse's blog I had been reading for the past two hours.  On the desk, I had a bunch of healthy snack foods, a bottle of water, some tea, and a half-read book.  In another window, the one usually reserved for checking on ATM statuses, I had music playing.

I also had a listing of ATMs that were on "keep an eye on it" status, so I wasn't entirely slacking. I had done all the work necessary for the job (and maybe a bit more) two hours into my shift, and the phone hadn't rang in over three hours.  So yeah, even if I had wanted to work (I didn't) there wouldn't have been anything for me to do.  So, I slacked.  And got told how I should keep doing what I'm doing.

Lemme just say, it feels good to be great at your job.

My first call...

I had my first "first aid consult" last week at work.  And, for just a brief moment, I felt like king of the hill.  As if I were putting all my training and practice to good use, while I helped a fellow co-worker through his problem. 

Really, though, it was the most bland and vanilla of calls.  But I figured it should be recorded.  You know.  For posterity

He approached me just before lunch, complaining of soreness in his legs.  I reminded myself to go through the usual first aid checklist - scene safe, one patient, airway is clear (he's talking to me), breathing is fine (he's in no respitory distress) and his circulation is fine (skin tone is good to go, and he's not sweating profusely or anything).  Which is, of course, silly.  But hey, who knows?  He could always be having an early stage heart attack.

Or, worse, bad gas.

We went through the usual trouble-shooting, and realized his pain was due to the fact that his chair wasn't at an appropriate height, and the way he was sitting in it was causing pain to his legs (which were cramping up).  It was very ER-esque.

Okay, sure, it was a very simple "call", and I did just wind up recommending that he adjust the height on his chair a little bit... and make it a point to get up and walk around every two hours.   But still, it was a call. And I got to use my first-aid-fu.  In case you didn't know this, if you chronically sit too long at your desk without moving, it can help build up blood clots and inreases your chances of a heart attack or a stroke. 

By informing him of this, I probably saved his life.  I know, I know.  I'm a hero.  You don't need to tell me I am.  I already know it. 

Seriously, though, I enjoyed it. Like I said, it was a simple call.  But it was kind of fun to be at work and go through the whole process of being "on call" and actively helping someone feel better, and live better.  The whole thing made me want to be in the nursing program, like, today.  As opposed to whenever I get off the damned waitlist.

Film Friday: IRON MANNNN!

I finally saw it last week, with the special lady.  The first one- I don't know if I'll ever get off my butt and watch the second one. 

It was one of those movies that people have been telling me to watch since, well, since it came out.  "It's right up your alley - funny movie".  Of course, I ignored them - super hero movies being, of course, utterly brainless and not worth my time.  I mean, I like casual movies - I've posted about this a few times - but something about super hero movies just doesn't do it for me.

But, I finally saw Iron Man.  And I enjoyed it.  Granted, it won't be on any top 50 lists or anything, but it had some highly entertaining moments. 

Watching it, it made me think about movies I have never seen, but have already decided I wouldn't like.  And the list gets longer and longer every month.  Transformers 1 & 2 are on that list.  So are the last two Star Wars movies that came out.  Kill Bill is up there, along with Inglourious Basterds, simply because Tarantino films are hit or miss with me.  And the list goes on and on.

And this, of course, makes me wonder if maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe Transformers is an awesome movie, filled with laughs and deep insights.  Maybe it is Michael Bay's opus, his crowning work and an apology for all the other trash he has inflicted upon us over the years. 

Then again, maybe it's just a movie about giant robots that turn into cars beating the crap out of each other.

I went for a good couple of years missing out on a good movie because I thought it was just a dumb film with a guy in a robot suit flying around.  When I finally did watch it - and yes, it's a movie about a guy in a robot suit flying around... and so much more - I will admit to having underestimated it.  But if I had never seen it?

Well, if I had never seen it, my life would be pretty much exactly the same.  Except I'd be trying to think of something else to write a post about right now. 

Batman's Incredible Nose.

I have a nephew, who for the sake of this blog post, I will call "batman", because, like many two year old boys, batman is his hero. 

(My hero, for those that are interested, was Mr. Dressup.   I don't know if that's cute, or an early warning sign.  You be the judge).

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with the entire family, when my nephew comes up to me.  He's about knee high to a duck, so when he looks up at you, he's looking way up. 

"Hey there, little dude," I say, smiling at him.

He gives me a nervous smile.  Kind of joking around, I put out my fist, for him to "fist bump"

He seems to know how to do this - at two! - and we tap knuckles.  The adults chuckle quietly.

Batman's a little distracted here, and looks around at the people around him.  I decide to keep the chuckles going because Batman is, let's face it, incredibly cute.  So, I put my hand out for a high five.

But Batman's now very distracted.  And his finger is buried up to the knuckle in his nose.  But he quickly tugs it out, and tries to high five the available hand.

He doesn't connect, though.  Because his uncle Dave has jumped about two feet back, hands thrust into pockets. 

Batman goes back to picking his nose.  The chuckles turn into hoots of laughter.

There's a moral here.

But I don't know what it is. 

Weekly Haiku #27: Advice for coffee shop patrons everywhere!

a chai tea latte
tastes great, but it's not unique
don't act like it is

music mondays - dancing, pregnant, devil-worshiping commies

I've been listening to a lot of rock and roll lately. 

I don't mean rock and roll in the current incarnation of the term - we're not talking about mainstream "rock" or anything like that.  Nope.  I'm talking about the original rock n' roll, the stuff that evolved from the electric blues and was rhythmically designed to induce dancing.  And, if you listened to the "Squares" of the 1950s, was also designed to introduce unsuspecting teens to the Devil.  Who would make them pregnant.  And commies.

Pregnant commies.  Yyyup.

But, to hell with it.  I don't mind being a dancing pregnant devil-worshipping communist, if it means I can listen to some classic, awesome music.

Stuff like Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode", almost anything by Bo Diddley, some Elvis Presley classics ("Jailhouse Rock" or "Hound dog"), a whole bunch of hits from The Animals (one of my favourite bands), some classic Beatles' tunes, late Elmore James stuff, some Johnny Otis, and so on, and so forth. 

Couple that with my other current interest in music - old school R&B and motown.  We're talking Marvin Gaye, the Silhouettes, Bobby Bland, Otis Redding, and the like.  You know, music that the opposition said opposed the Vietnam war (the nerve!), encouraged free love, drug use, and actively told young black men and women to rise up against their white "betters". 

Because of that music, the opposition has been unable to find a comfortable seat on the bus for nigh on fifty years.   

I got to thinking.  Combining the devil's music with civil disorder music would be, quite possibly, the greatest band combination ever.  Old School Rock and Roll + late 60s Motown + Modern Instruments + Acoustic-y goodness = pure awesome. 

(Seriously.  Double-check my math.  It's good). 

Honestly, I have no idea what it would sound like.  But I'm pretty sure it'd blow your mind


Just had a strange call at the ATM office. 

Basically, a guy from China (with the stereotypical chinese accent, but I won't complain until I can speak chinese better than he can speak English) was calling from a ferry, quite upset.  See, he had asked for 400$, and only got 20$ - and was charged the 2$ service charge.

After dealing with the other parts of the call (ie, yes, we did take the full 400$ from your account, but that 380$ is already being reversed and might take an hour or so to do so, keep your receipt, yadda yadda yadda), the guy started getting angry about the 2$ service charge.

After all, he was charged two bucks on the hopes of getting 400$, and only got 20$.  And now, he had to go to our other machine, and get dinged the 2$ again.  I can see where he's coming from, I really can.  Anyways, he wanted me to reverse the two dollars, which I am unable to do.

After I flat out told him he was going to be stuck paying the two dollars again, he got rather incensed. There's something pretty funny about a guy getting angry at you in Engrish, by the way.  And it gets even funnier when they tell you that they're going to phone their lawyer.

Keep in mind that I was perfectly polite and helpful during this call, agreeing with him, "feeling his pain" and being as sweet as can be.  I mean, he got dinged two whole dollars!  And he needed that money... since he had made the point of telling me had over seven thousand canadian dollars in his account - that two dollars is probably good feng shui, or something. Anyways, I was a bit surprised at the threat, but let it pass.  Until he brought it up again:

"Wait.  You're going to call your lawyer?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna call my lawyer before I go back to China, he's gonna talk to you, be very mad, and-"

"You're going to call your lawyer," I said again, flatly.

"Yeah, and-"

"Over two dollars?"

"Yes, and-"

"Um... won't your lawyer's services cost a bit more than two dollars?"

There's a pause.  "Okay.  So I won't call my lawyer.  But if you don't give me the two dollars back, I'm gonna be very mad."


I didn't laugh until I finished the call.  Politely, even. 

And then I just burst out laughing.

Somewhere out there, there is a very angry chinese guy.  I can live with that. 

Film Fridays: Indie Filmmaking

After watching a bazillion movies on youtube, I'm tempted to do it myself.  Put down the five hundred bucks to buy a decent camera, and maybe another couple hundred to get some basic sound gear.  Buy myself a mac for editing purposes.  In all, spend about two grand.

...and then start unleashing madness upon the world.

See, I've been blogging, often about movies, for a good nine months now.  And a part of me is wanting to put my money where my mouth is, and actually release something.  I don't necessarily know what, yet.  But it involves barbarians.  And the 1980s.

And a Kraken.

Which begs the question:  how does one film a kraken with a special effects budget of around ten dollars

I'm in talks with Harryhausen.  Who is apparently dead.  Luckily, seances are fairly cheap. 

A review (of sorts)

The Special Lady and I love going to restaurants.  We're on the same page when it comes to eating, too - locally-owned companies make better food than massive chains.  Neither of us want to go to Earl's, or the Cactus Club... if we're going to dish out the money, we want to eat at a place where the owner actually has a stake in the business.  We want new dining experiences, dammit.

We both love the Irish Times Pub, to the point where we've been there almost once a week since we started dating.  And when we went to Chandler's two weeks ago, we agreed it was great food, even if it was a bit on the pricey side (they wanted my first born son.  I guess it's cheaper than hiring a dishwasher). 

Last week, it was my turn to pick the place.  And I decided we'd get a little risky and go to a new place known as Salute.  I wish I could say I picked the place for a good reason:  friends recommended it, it had a great rating in the Zagat guide, I knew the owner, etc.  Nope.  The reason I picked the place?  They had the menu in the window, and they served a relatively cheap Peppercorn steak.

...And I love peppercorn steak.  I don't know where these peppercorn cows come from, but it is my goal to raise them one day.  And devour them.  It would probably be cheaper, too.  For some reason, a place can serve a great twenty dollar steak, but the second it's a "peppercorn" steak, the price doubles.  Before I found Salute, the cheapest (good) peppercorn steak was around twenty seven bucks.  Salute's steak is in the low twenties. 

Anyways, we made our way in, and I had misgivings right away.  The tables were close together, the bar was lit by mood lights that changed colour, and it had one of those "upscale moden" places that usually wind up serving boring and slightly overpriced food.  A sort of Indie Earl's, if you will.  I was debating throwing a tray in the waiter's face and shouting "run!  It's a trap!"

Luckily, I didn't.  But only because there were no trays nearby.

Turns out I was wrong.  The place is amazing.  The small serving staff is still very attentive to you, without being in your face about anything.  The drinks are well made.  They even have a small lounge area where you can watch the hockey game, without the TV being somewhere central that everyone has to see! 

Oh, and the food is amazing.  I made a point to tell the waiter that the risotto that came with my steak was the best risotto I had in years.  Which was true... because it was the ONLY risotto I had had in years, but still... I'm pretty sure it'd be the best I'd had, too.  The Special Lady's Tandoori chicken was pretty damned tasty, too.   

I don't really drop reviews on my blog.  It's more of a "complaints" blog, as opposed to a "compliments" blog.  Despite that, I knew I had to drop a reference to it, and get some people down there.  Because if this is one of those restaurants that dies a quick death, a part of me will die with it. 

Twenty dollar peppercorn steak, people!  Come on!

Strangely GENIUS.

So, um, yeah. 

This is just a little odd.  I mean, the guy in the corner doing sign language just ties it all together.

Also, ukeleles are awesome.  I want one. 

Weekly Haiku #26 - Ode to the debt-ridden folk that call me...

i'm sorry you're broke
but you brought this on yourself
it's your own damned fault

Music Mondays: I'm Not A very Good Person...

Last friday, I took the Special Lady to one of my favourite places:  Long and MacQuaide.  L&M, for those that don't know, is a music chain that sells pretty much everything:  electric guitars, drums, acoustic guitars, banjos, pianos, mandolins, harmonicas..... it's incredibly fun.  The type of place music nerds go to instead of "normal" entertainment places like bars, strip clubs, and the horse tracks. 

L&M is very close to my house, and the lady I went mostly for something to do before heading downtown.  I, of course, showed her one of my dream instruments (a Les Paul Double Cutaway), before I found myself in the acoustic room, playing my OTHER dream instrument - a Martin Dreadnaught Acoustic guitar. 

I had an audience, so I was trumping things up a little bit.  I felt like a little boy standing on his head, shouting "look at me!  Look at me!" every time I did something new.  And she, like the Special Lady that she is, nodded approvingly and asked all the right questions.  I'm a lucky guy, sometimes. 

I went through a few chords and mini solos, and I was instantly taken back down memory lane.  I  instantly remembered what it's like playing a well-made instrument... everything just seems to be easier.  And then,  carrying on with trips down memory lane, there was this kid in the room, nervously fingering a classical guitar. 

I remember being this kid.  Being sixteen or seventeen, playing instruments and trying to get a few tunes under your fingers when some guy in his twenties walks in with his girlfriend (do musicians ever get girlfriends?  Why can't I get a girlfriend? you find yourself thinking) and starts slamming out riffs on an instrument that he'll "probably buy in a year or two" (I wish I had money).  You've only just started learning on the acoustic, so you play quietly in corner, not wanting to display the fact that you're just very good. 

Like I said, I've been there.  And it sucks.  Quite a bit, in fact.  I wanted to encourage this kid, tell him that it's all a learning process.  That he's going to get better in time.  That no one here will judge him if he plays a simple song on the acoustic, and not some super complex song.  And that he was doing a great job playing those few Beatles' songs he knows. 

A good person would do that.  Yeah, I totally wanted to do that.

Instead, I played loudly, and played the hardest material I know.  I ripped through crazy bass lines.  I played crazy guitar chords.  I went through all the good parts from Dark Side of the Moon that I could remember.  I improvised rock and roll lines.  I went crazy with string-bends, palm-muting, slides, and super crazy hammer-on/pull-off tricks.  I did everything in my repertoire to show off, and put that young punk in his place. 

It was around that point that I remembered.

...I'm not a very good person.

This is an actual email I wrote today:

Hey all.  Sorry about the last few days.  Holy mackeral has it been busy! 

Of course, it's all slowed down.  Which has given me time to bitch about an event that happened at the ATM office yesterday.  See, I had asked one of our guys to save me a few slices of pizza and a can of diet coke.  Only, when I came in yesterday, some wit had covered the pizza in pepper (which actually made it taste BETTER, in my humble opinion) and had taken a knife and stabbed my diet coke. 

It bugged me for a little bit, but then I wrote the following e-mail to the co-worker who had kindly put aside the food for me (and who, almost definitely, DIDN'T murder my diet coke):

Good evening Agent B---.

At approximately 1200h. Saturday afternoon, one of our agents went into the refrigerator unit at the ATM office, and came across a most gruesome sight. A young can of diet coke (approximately 3 months old) was foundmurdered. Also accompanying the body were three pieces of pizza that were covered in pepper (which were, sources say, delicious).

The can seemed to have perished from a single knife wound, located distal to the "o" in "Cola". Even more disturbingly, a cup containing fluids that had obviously bled from said wound was found on the office desk. Experts on the scene have dated Time of Death at approximately 2000h.friday evening.

Agent B---... there is a cola-can murderer in your office. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to find the murderer, and bring him to justice.

Possible Suspects:

  I---: Sources say a man named "i---" was working during the time of themurder. He is the prime suspect at this time. His motives remain uncertainat this point, but he is known to have connections to Fidel Castro andnumerous "bred in the USA" terrorist agencies... such as PETA. Sources sayhe often goes by the name "Stinkums", but this has not been verified.

S----: During preliminary interviews, one of the suspects (named S----) proclaimed her innocence several times - a bit TOO loudly, it would seem.  She affirmed her uninvolvement several times, leading our scene investigator to believe that perhaps she is involved. Her motive for the crime is obvious: money for crystal meth (when asked if she did crytal meth, she protested - a bit TOO loudly, it would seem....)

EL NINO: While we have been informed that El Nino is actually just a prevailing weather pattern, our investigators remain unconvinced. After all, with a name like "El Nino", how could this NOT be a cold-blooded, coke-murdering killer?

We appreciate your investigation into this matter, Agent B---.

Remember,there is a murderer nearby. Trust no one. Watch your back.


-Agent D.

It is, I think, in the top five list of funniest work e-mails I have ever sent out.  But then, maybe I'm just sleep-addled?