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Friday, January 31, 2003
The Receiver General is trying to kill me. I don't get it. I don't get it. Last year's tax reassessment was enough of a shock, necessitating four months of bitter economy to pay it in full. This after I had, for the first time ever, hired an accountant to do battle with my new Capital Gains tax and other inescapable numbers. So of course there was a refund check in the mail yesterday. I feel like phoning the accountant and saying, you know, what the goddamn hell? Except, oh yeah, like you'd know. Yes, I'm going to cash the check, seeing as how I'm so into cosmic humour these days. No doubt I'll get another reassessment notice in a couple of months saying "Made you look!" Those Revenue Canada funsters! They slay me.
Give it up, Nigeria. Four of those wacky e-mails arrived this week, all from people claiming to be the sole surviving child of a martyred celebrity farmer. We've all seen these things for years, but I did find it funny that they all mentioned different amounts of money in U.S. funds, from a paltry 4.3 million up to 8.6 million. Do I hear 8.7? Maybe I should forward these people to Sean, who knows how to deal with such things.
It was going so well, the human/bed sleep experiment, until last weekend. Maybe that wee rhinovirus knocked me off the rails, but the last six nights have been battles for sleep. After a particularly sleepless Wednesday, I caved and went for a little DH2 on the rocks (that's dipenhydramine hydrochloride for you Chem 30 grads) last night. It worked, but I'm still bothered by the current situation. After so many years, how could I suddenly have forgotten how to sleep?
I think I'll just blame it on someone. Fearless should do. She scuttled off to Mexico City on Thursday, maps and tourist-speak packed and ready. Have fun in the ruins, small friend. Eat lots of jalapenos and limon and keep those joy-riding microbes at bay.
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Oh man. You do NOT want to be the hapless Air Transat flight attendant who has to tell The Goon that they're out of mini-pretzel shards. Why? Click the link and read his January 29th post.
We loff our mail. The first-ever letter from a stranger arrived at Not My Dog (thanks, Mike H.). I was intrigued by the descriptors "dysfunctional" and "Gen-X" -- well, okay, dysfunctional is pretty much a given, but thank you, THANK you for saying Gen-X. I happen to have been birthed on a year which is either the end of the Baby Boom or the beginning of Gen X, depending on which version of Trivial Pursuit you're playing. Too young for hip-huggers the first time and now far too tubby for them. But disaffected slackerdom, oh yes, I'm all over it.
Monday, January 27, 2003
We have fresh links! We have e-mail! We have a dozen new reasons to be in Grant's debt! Occasionally, but Oh! so rarely, I bestir myself to reimburse Grant in worldly goods for all he's done and continues to do for me and the other beneficiaries of It's never enough.
There are four of them, and they conduct their down-and-out drinking on the weirdest timetable. Either that, or the stuff they're drinking (X-brand mouthwash, cheap and obviously containing alcohol) has obliterated their collective circadian system and they have no idea where they are, what time it is, or what they're doing. At least twice a week, at approx. 8:15 a.m., they stagger from some sordid burrow and propel themselves not very successfully along 9th Avenue, stopping to knock back 1.5 litres of mouthwash, and accosting any thing remotely humanoid. Crossing the street is more of a block-long, gradual shift of position, heedless of traffic. Naturally, anyone at the bus stop becomes an easy though unwilling target. The school called the cops when the Blotto Quartet chose the playground as their local. The gas station didn't love them much, either. But there's not much we can do at the bus stop, other than band together in musk-ox fashion and tell them to walk away.
They've been an odd catalyst for strangers to introduce themselves to the same faces they've seen for months on the bus. We all have a "Fending off the Impossibly Drunk" tale to share. None of us know where the foursome lives, or where they go after their mouthwash toot, or how they manage to panhandle when they can't form an intelligible sentence. Personally, I can't wait for the warmer weather so I can ride my bike to work daily. Self-interest, c'est moi.
This year's High Performance Rodeo at One Yellow Rabbit ended on a highly entertaining note, with the Preston Sturges-inspired "Caribbean Muskrat" performed by the Edmonton troupe Teatro Quindicina. I saw six shows in all, and would have to say that, of them all, I was blown away by the Frank Zappa tribute. Other shows were proof that I can appreciate the originality and ingenuity of a performance without actually enjoying it. And one or two were utterly irritating -- but, as I always say, there'd be no experimental theatre without a few failures here and there. Now on to this year's Play Rites at Alberta Theatre Projects. Life, she is verra good.
Friday, January 24, 2003
Oh, THANK YOU, "Save $5 on Mary-Kate and Ashley titles!"
Fuck right off.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Today's truths:
  1. Statistics are not all that comforting when you yourself are in that "1 in 71" probability zone of something unpleasant happening. Geez, only 70 chances that it might not happen? That's not enough! Get the goddamned mathematician on the set.
  2. Irony is only painful if you want it to be, and thus I find it extremely hilarious that I am buried in projects during a creativity drought.
  3. If you take normal speech and add unexpected pauses to it, accompanied by atonal music and uncoordinated dance steps, then you are probably on stage at The High Performance Rodeo and you are wasting my goddamned time.
  4. Everybody on "Will and Grace" is a jerk. Next question.
  5. I am lucky in so many ways that just to recite them makes me happier.
  6. A language barrier during an ultrasound can cause heart failure. Just ask my pregnant friend Vinnie. The doctor frowned and said, "You have two....." while running the scanner over Vin's tum. Vin stopped breathing. The doctor tried again: "You empty your bladder." Laughter resounded throughout the hallways to the washroom, and across two continents to Calgary.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Headline alert! Can you identify which words are missing from the following Calgary Herald headline? Phys. ed. linked to smarter kids. It should read "Phys. ed. linked to smarter kids getting beaten up after school." The article contains the enjoyable quotation, "We are firm believers in a fit body makes a sound mind," from an Alberta school superintendent. Ungrammatical? That's unpossible!
Monday, January 20, 2003
Idol idyll. Today I am coasting on an odd sort of high....a long-held dream come true, one that would have caused my giddy 16-year-old self to fall down dead from shock. You see, I worked doping control at the World Cup speedskating Sprint championships this past weekend. On Saturday afternoon, while waiting for my Russian skater to get through testing, I spent a happy hour in the waiting room, chatting with the U.S. skater Chris Witty and her team official, a very handsome man in his mid-40s who looked teasingly familiar. I was, for once, relaxed, not too tongue-tied, enjoying watching the men’s races on the crappy t.v. and hearing the insider info from Chris and her coach. Then Sunday I was in the infield at ice level, clipboard in hand, when the handsome U.S. official came over for another chat with the old Canadian Doping Control bat. This time I sneaked a look at his accreditation. It was Eric Heiden, 5-time Olympic gold medallist in 1980. The man on whom I kept a massive scrapbook for over a year, whose photo by Annie Liebowitz is still in my collection, who got me hooked on speedskating in the first place.
Good thing I hadn’t figured it out on Saturday, or I would have been much too gobsmacked to say a word, let alone chat. I feel a tiny bit dumb that I didn’t recognize him straight away (the famous Liebowitz photograph shows only his thighs and legs) but then, meeting a god from my distant past was about the furthest thing from my head that day. And anyway, I had to concentrate on following my Russian speedskater. Later on I also managed to spot Bonnie Blair, another hero, in the infield. If Johann Olav Koss'd been there, it would have finished me off, old and jaded and cynical though I am.
If you don't follow speedskating, the names probably don't mean much to you. But whatever activity or art you follow, imagine not just meeting the very best of the field, but hanging out with them. That was my weekend.
I was also lucky enough yesterday to shadow the silver medallist, a Canadian named Cindy Klassen, who is hands-down the nicest athlete I’ve ever met. She had to go through a bunch of interviews and medal ceremonies and so forth, between sprints to the dressing room for passport, clothing change, etc. (with me huffing along behind her, a comic sight for all nearby). I tend not to interrupt with chit-chat at such times, leaving it to the athlete to decide whether to talk, but Cindy and I soon found that we had something in common: bursting bladders. We finally had to duck out of the victory lap that was planned for the top 6 skaters, and pelt back to Doping Control. I said, “The only thing I’m worried about is that I’m going to end up shoving you out of the way to get to the toilet first.” Big laugh. Very nice person. This year's competition has been the most fun of the five I've attended as a volunteer.
You Daring Lousy Guy: The Next Generation. From the inestimably enjoyable Gail Armstrong of Open Brackets fame, a link to the Flubtitles site. More bad English subtitles for your viewing pleasure! What, you're not a fan? Then I ask you to stick out your tongue because it's the way of your dying look.
Friday, January 17, 2003
Uh-oh. Doppelblogger.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
It's decision-making time...or is it? About the most valuable lesson I've learned in life is not to make decisions when I'm not in my right mind. Especially not to make long-lasting decisions. Changing my mind about whether or not to go for the eggs or the tuna for lunch, well, not such a big deal. The problem is that I am so rarely in my right mind these days. There are bad patches in the year and January is always a classic, which I think is a result of environmental forces (amount of sunlight, resultant deficit in melanin levels, etc. No, no, not melanin, knucklehead. Melatonin.). Anyway. This time last year I was convinced and determined that I'd had a heart attack. And while for the last three months I've been thinking on and off about a little four-letter reality that starts with the letter "L," but is not "Love," it is not the cause of the wrong-mindedness. This year I'm convinced I'm tapped out creatively. No joke. It's even hard to blog, which is one of my favourite activities in life. I've even been furtively tweaking my resumé, expecting to get drop-kicked from Karo at any moment. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Luckily for whatever vestiges of sanity remaining to me, another lesson kicks in at these times: the only way to get through it is to go through it.
But on an up note, the New Year's resolution is coming along very well, and I'm spending the whole night in the bed quite happily. Of course, I have to have the radio on, so when I do wake up I am often entertained by the Kenyan or New Zealand or Netherlands news service, played in the early hours on CBC. The accents are thrilling and calming all at once. Oh, I know, it's an odd sort of accomplishment: what did you do in 2003? "I slept in a bed the whole night through. Top that!" But we take what victories we can.
Monday, January 13, 2003
We few, we happy few, we collectors of legal specimen: Another World Cup speedskating match is coming to town, and both I and Fearless have once again been recruited for Doping Control. Irony Alert: I'm going to a Frank Zappa tribute at the One Yellow Rabbit High Performance Rodeo at midnight the night before. Good thing I won't have to stand and deliver at the Olympic Oval before they give me my credentials, because I have a feeling there's going to be a higher THC to oxygen ratio, albeit second-hand, in the theatre audience on Friday.
Not that I live to see the world's best speedskaters fill small bottles in my presence, but I really love volunteering for World Cup events. Being backstage and getting to meet people from around the world, that's why I do it. It's also why I'm guilty of a selfish thought, namely, that Vancouver doesn't win the 2010 Winter Olympics, because if they do, Calgary won't be able to host as many international events thereafter. Yes, it's seven years in the future and I can't believe either that I can concern myself with such thoughts.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
Requiescat in pace, Billy Van. Non-Canadians and zygotes probably don't know who he is. But those of us who had limited television choices in 1970s Canada probably know most of the characters he played on "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein," from The Count himself to my favourite, the Librarian. [Sound byte of the old devil available in mp3 format here.] It was cheesy and no doubt a lot of the cultural references were lost on my brothers and me. But many of the character's sayings became part of our family idiom, such as "Explain yourself, Igor!" and "Now for the mothhole in the fabric of our entertainment."
Billy Van would have been every bit as famous as Mike Myers, if not more, if timelines could be switched. He was an incredibly talented performer -- and typically Canadian, in that he never got the recognition he deserved.
Oh. So that WAS the flu. Not food poisoning. Ah. Well, it made for an interesting Tuesday, paralyzed in bed, and a somewhat frantic Wednesday with one overdue deadline and inconvenient dizzy spells. And I missed out on a show at The High Performance Rodeo. Damn.
Mot du Jour: "fadient," n. What happens to your beloved Craptastic mug logo when you put it through a dishwasher cycle one too many times. Cf. gradient.
Monday, January 06, 2003
Oh, yeah. I resolved to stop crashing in front of the television on work nights. Last night was the first attempt at the whole night spent in the bed. And it was sleepless, and I was expecting that. Probably I could have timed it better, as Mondays are notoriously busy around here and I've got life-threatening head bobs.
Because there really hasn't been much to blog about, that's why. But -- oh, all right, here goes. Holiday Highlights and Lowlights: Instead of a present, my older brother's kids put on a game show for me and their dad, called "The Weakest Drink" [hah! do they know me, or what?]. The prizes were beers from around the world, and the questions were based on Christmas customs in those countries represented by a brand of beer. It was a riot, and no, they did not buy the beer themselves, despite Red Deer's indifferent carding of underage drinkers. Their mommy fenced it for them.
Wrangling both sets of nieces and nephews in two different cities was enormous fun, although I may have to refresh my material as the kiddies were prone to chant along with some of my favourite lines. "Wash your hands...(all) With SOAP, PLEASE." "What part of 'Put your brother down' (all) DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?" "Mess with the power...(all) AND THE LIGHTS GO OUT!"
Whoever gets the short straw and ends up with me as a Christmas guest knows my peculiar tradition of boiling the turkey carcass for stock on Christmas night, adding lovingly roasted and caramelized vegetables and an alchemist's assortment of herbs. This year's stock was particularly good, so much so that I regretted the requisite second part of the tradition, i.e., forgetting to take the leftovers home with me.
A stomach bug was the undoing of several over the holidays, including my big brother on Christmas Day. (A lowlight.)
Visiting my aunt and uncle in Edmonton after Christmas was a long overdue highlight. Funny how, seeing as he disliked me so distinctly in my earlier years, my uncle has really become an ally. I really enjoy talking with him now, where before I used to live in fear of ridicule, even if it never came to pass. In fact, seeing these two legendary perfectionists simply relaxing and yakking away a couple of hours was a treat in itself. I wonder: of those people who irritate me profoundly now, who will become the welcome companion of my much crankier years?
In the course of my visit to Edmonton I found out that this blog has been outed to my Victoria cousins and others. This is not a lowlight, but I admit it disquieted me a little, as I may have to start telling the truth now.
You know your family is worried about your health when you get The Parables. This year, Tales of the Morbidly Obese Whom We Have Cut Open, from my older brother the surgeon.
Being a cheerleader for my beloffed chum Laur's pregnancy was also a new sensation. She'd barf, I'd say "Hey, that's a good sign, that means everything's progressing as it should!" Why I am not dead I do not know.
Getting buried in books by my extremely generous and very bad friends was also grand. Funniest gift of the year: "What the Hell is Myrrh?" from Rory.
Coming back to work on the 30th to find out that one of my clients had reversed his before-Christmas approval of an ad campaign was not so very fun.
New DVD player, yay. Old TV, boo. New RF Modulator with S-Video link, yay. Extended DVD version of LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring, yay. "Dressed to Kill" by Eddie Izzard: double yay.
"Mobilize" by Grant Lee Phillips: yay yay and again yay.
Attended my second Ukrainian Christmas gift exchange in rural Alberta on Saturday, bringing one of the oddest gadgets I've ever seen: a handheld vacuum with an attached inflation hose and pressure gauge. You can either suck up crumbs on the counter or inflate your bike tires, if you've got all day. Sadly, it wasn't as popular a gift as a hotplate, an insulated casserole dish, or a set of dishes with cows on them, but it was just odd enough to get me invited back next year. I ended up with a Pasta Set, with huge glass jar, cheese shaker and various spaghetti-tangling utensils. Not bad.
Finally: here's what will motivate me to walk to work in the mornings rather than taking the bus. This morning I walked past four extremely drunk men standing across from the elementary school, passing around the 40 of vodka. After they smashed the bottle on the road to indicate their disgust with it being empty, the drunkest of them staggered to the bus stop and starting power-harassing me and the other two people there for money. Bravely or stupidly I said "I've called the cops, now walk away," holding up my cellphone (actually a pocket calculator, but I figured distance and blurred vision were on my side). By the greatest of coincidences a police cruiser drove past at that moment, which distracted the drunk from swinging punches at one man. The bus arrived just as the other three drunks were figuring on joining the fun. Sometimes I hate living in the inner city. Note to self: perhaps I really should think about getting a cell phone.