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Saturday, May 31, 2003
Cuss cuss rickin' rackin' frippin' frappin' CRAP. A month ago my older brother booked me for a weekend of house-, dog- and child-sitting, which I was well pleased to accept. In the interim, he sold me SoccerMa for roughly half of what he could have had for her in a private sale, though he insists that he didn't, and naturally it increased my sense of obligation that much more. Even though I'm going to miss the best birthday party of the year. BUT. I blast up to Red Deer after work, sail in through the front door, and -- painters? Drop cloths? Furniture under plastic? Yep, the bro and sis-in-law decided four days ago to get the indoor walls painted, and figured (rightly, curse them) that I would be able to cope.
And I was coping, until about 8:30 this morning when there was a knock on the door from a city waterworks employee, telling me that they were shutting the water off to the houses on our side of the street because a monumental construction goofup in the back alley had ruptured the water main. "How long will the water be off?" I asked. I get a long shrug in reply. "Oh, could be noon....could be...afternoon..." So! Tear upstairs for a 5-minute shower! Tear downstairs to fill jugs and pots with water! Make VERY strong coffee. My old pal Jean and I have arranged a playdate with her dogs and the incredible bonehead Carbon for later this morning, so there will be some respite from the paint fumes and drought. I need a nap.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Best bumper sticker of the year, but only if you're a Western Canadian: it shows the Alberta and British Columbia provincial flags side by side, with the legend "MY premier can drink more than YOUR premier!"
Welcome, SoccerMa: So far almost everything is fine with the new transportation, the turquoisey Ford Windstar. As I told Fearless, the only problem will be getting it into my tiny, tiny garage, a feat comparable to getting me into control-top pantyhose on a hot day. Luckily for the van, the side-view mirrors fold flat. Even then I might need a shoe horn.
Friday, May 23, 2003
A brief history of The Best Car, ever.

October 1986: Mad Melvin purchases a gleaming silver 1987 Oldsmobile Regency '98, top of the line. Four doors, red plush interiors, electrical doodads, an engine that devoured pavement but drank lightly of gas, and a trunk that could hold not one, but two full-grown adults (an important consideration in Road Ragey Alberta).

November 1986: Mad Melvin's wife, taking the Oldsmobile down an Edmonton hill, hits an icy patch and stands on the brakes, sending the car sideways, then over the median. A wheel-well is mangled and a side panel dented. Ever the independent, Mad Melvin tackles the repairs himself, which is why you can still see the mangled wheel well and patched side panel to this day.

1987-1996: The car gets driven all over North America, in all weather. Mad Melvin does most of the driving, then frets for the remainder.

June 14, 1996: M.M. sells the "best road-driving car he's ever owned" to his daughter, who had previously driven an earnest but narcoleptic Escort. She drives it to Calgary the following day and it is truly the best highway car she's ever handled, easily passing even sportier cars.

June 16, 1996: Wake up to a beautiful Sunday morning and a pile of blue glass in front of the residence. The Dadmobile has been stolen. [Note: this was in one of Calgary's upscale neighbourhoods, too.]

June 16 & 17, 1996: Tears, disbelief, rage.

June 18, 1996: The police find my car! It is a little chewed up and out of gas, but otherwise well. It goes into the body shop, and I breathe again.

July 16, 1996: I get the Dadmobile back from the body shop at last, only to drive it straight into Calgary's worst hailstorm of the decade, basically a meso-cyclone that didn't touch down. Major cussing ensues.

July 17, 1996 - December 26, 2000: I love this car. Only one repair needed in 4.5 years.

December 27, 2000: Because I am one of God's own fools, I figure I can drive back to Calgary from Red Deer in what looks like a medium-strength snowstorm. Wrong, wrong, little Formula One driver. It's a full-blown white-out blizzard. Cars, trucks and trailers litter the road and ditches. Yet I am too stupid to turn off onto a country route. A trailer overturns a half-kilometre in front of me. Other cars spin crazily in attempts to evade disaster, yet the Dadmobile grips the road like death. I arrive at the outskirts of Calgary to the extreme amazement of the Mounties, who'd closed the highway two hours earlier. I really, really love this car.

Saturday, May 24, 2003: The Dadmobile goes to a well-earned rest and helps support the Kidney Foundation. 294,078 kilometres, a few cracks in the windshield, a querulous transmission. But a mighty engine to the end.
Meanwhile, SoccerMa awaits, gleaming, in a Red Deer driveway for my arrival.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Like there's another kind? I went to see "X2: The X-Men United" last night with old Fearless, and was glad to see that the mutant Catholic demographic has at last found its comic book representative.
I mentioned this in an e-mail to Vinnie La Vin, and she wrote back to say that "mutant Catholics are known as 'Protestants,' dearie." Fearless confessed to being a bit bored by parts of the movie, but I was entranced throughout, being a Marvel Comics junkie of old.
The movie contains some exterior mountain shots that we both found very familiar. After a little digging on my preferred database, I discovered that these scenes were basically shot in our own back yard, the Kananaskis region of the Canadian Rockies. There's a little CGI going on in the shots, but they left the mountains alone. [Completely different from the first movie, where the scenes captioned "Northern Alberta" made locals hoot. Northern Ontario, maybe, but them thar ain't no Northern Alberta hills and trees.] Anyway, movie production crews are enough of a rarity in Alberta that I can still find it all very cool. And Ian McKellen just has way too much fun as a bad guy. Verdict: see it.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Thanks for the grammatical snout-whack, Vinnie. The offending phrase has been amended to read "Monique and me," below.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Now, where was I? Ah. Well, that was a busy few days. The drive along the Icefields Parkway was magnificent, and yes, Mr. M. of Vancouver, you should definitely cycle it. But pack carefully; you'll need raingear and snowgear in late spring, and some thermal wear for overnight throughout the summer. And don't forget the bugfuck and extra film.

The business side of the business trip presented polar opposites: the Jasper clients, who are friendly and hardworking, and whom I love. Then the tiresome client, who was especially tiresome this time, keeping Monique and me waiting and then not offering a beverage despite knowing we'd just driven 3 hours to see her -- and then embarking on matters which could have been handled easily in a 5-minute phone call. Ah, well.

Then getting back to the office and finding out that a great friend had been laid off -- well, that made it easy to quit whining about the Tiresome One, anyway. Looks like the layoff's only temporary, but still.

Then a weekend filled with driving and children and Mad Melvin and hockey. Doing the New York Times Sunday crossword with my younger brother Colin and owning that damn puzzle, us. Flying kites in a freezing windstorm. Fending off toddlers. Drinking much too much red wine again, why? Why, when I know I'm going to get wakened by a 5-year-old at six bells? I must be stupid. Cuddling the latest addition to the clan, the microbambino, Zane, who took one squint at me and threw up. Driving to old haunts in Edmonton and finding that they are now selling hemp clothing or have been replaced by loft-style condos. Overall, a great trip.
Banned, by God! Nikki writes to tell me that she tried to check out Not My Dog while out of town: "I was going to spy on you from afar (Newmarket, ON), but this Internet terminal (in Chapters) blanked out your page with this ominous message: 'This site contains adult content not suitable for a public viewing environment.' Way to go!!!!" Hmm, perhaps I am using a few too many "fudges" and "sugars" in my posts.
And speaking of four-letter words: [Or: The Brainless Client Chronicles, May 2003.] I have a local radio station as a client, and I can't tell you the name, because that would be unprofessional and bad and stuff. But what I can tell you is that they employ extremely witless people. Michael and I designed their promotional CD, complete with a one-word title, and were told that the women in the client's office thought it was "vulgar." The word? "Flow." That's as neurotic as Victorians who referred to "limbs" of chairs rather than "legs." I mean, okay, if the radio station were named "The Rag 98.3 FM," I could see their point. Actually, though, the word "flow" complements their name in rather the same way that "burn" complements "fire." But no! Apparently "Flow" can only be interpreted as a reference to a lady person's reproductive cycle. Dimwits. "Fine," said Michael, "We'll rename it 'Glow'." "Why not 'Light', as in Light Days'?" I asked. We are both tired of clients of the "cutting teeth" kind: the ones who will inevitably drop-kick us, only to discover that we were far more patient with them than a regular ad agency would be.
Still laughing more than a week after I'd seen "A Mighty Wind." Roger Ebert thought it was nothing new, but I don't think he "gets" the Christopher Guest/Eugene Levy moviemaking style. For my part, I think Eugene Levy could well be tied with Michael Palin in the Most Underrated and Most Talented Member of a Famous Comedy Troupe category. Even if you're not a folkie, you can't help but laugh at the songs -- the music itself is actually quite legit, but the words are amazingly insipid. And Fred Willard walks away with every scene he's in. Go see it. Jane has spoken.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Job perk! I'm off to Jasper for an overnighter. On a perfectly bright and sunny day, I get to drive the most disgustingly scenic highway in the province, the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. Horseshoes up ass? Check. Bad-ass rental car with CD deck? Check. Monumental hubris about to be smacked down by petulant deities? Check.
It's not all glaciers and beer...I have to meet with The Tiresome One on the way back tomorrow, she who rewrites everything I do. That oughta' satisfy those deities.
Gosh, sorry to break it to you, Mr. Bus Driver, but the qualifying heats for the Indy 500 were last weekend. Still, nice "stand on the brake" technique for those corners that come out of nowhere every other block.
Friday, May 09, 2003
Weekly Roundup:
Monday: Snow. Bad cravings for Theo, hound of my heart.
Tuesday: Snow. Head out to Costco in evening. Buy two tons of potting soil. Make Fearless carry them up three flights of stairs.
Wednesday: What a surprise, snow. The Canucks are making me very worried.
Thursday: Il neige comme un vrai bâtarde. [Translation: Golly, more snow.] Odd: at noon, like someone flipping a light switch in my head, I get the classic visual cue of impending migraine. A quivering band of distortion snakes and whip-cracks across my field of vision. Uh-oh. Soon, whenever I try to focus on something, my right eye goes "black." The pills put the pain on call forward. I am zonked.
Friday: Snow. Right eye feels like a BB in a knothole. Buy plane ticket to Santa Cruz for that fateful day next month, should I survive. R.I.P. Vancouver Canucks. See yez next year.
The hell? I buy a bottle of red wine as a thank-you to the Creative Director for sharing his, and the bastard doesn't even open it! It's Friday evening and I am completely sober. How wrong.
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
"...snow had fallen
snow on snow
on snow on snow on snow
In the bleak midwinter
and not very long ago.

[fr. "O Little Town of Gimmingham," by The Kipper Family]
EVERY YEAR it snows in Calgary in May and EVERY YEAR it's bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch. Every year someone attempts to put out bedding plants before the Victoria Day long weekend, and every year there's a snowfall after the Victoria Day long weekend. Howls and protests abound. But wait, you say, are not the farmers happy with the recent precipitation? Nay, no, for it has been said by the wise that the cry of the Canadian farmer is "Not enough not enough TOO MUCH TOO MUCH," and so the moisture merely means the ground's too wet to seed. Sigh.
Thursday, May 01, 2003
Damn, I'm wrong again. I've sneered gently and silently every time I've entered the lunchroom at work and happened upon people discussing who did what to whom on the previous night's reality TV show. Why would you care? I wanted to ask, but didn't really want to get into it, that and I was greatly outnumbered. And then along came "Manor House," the PBS rebroadcast of the UK series where a group of people spent 3 months attempting to recreate life in an English country manor in the Edwardian era. Six hours of television over the last three nights, an interesting and entertaining website, and Janey is hooked but good. I came bustling back to work after the first broadcast just dying to discuss how much I wanted to kick Kenny the hall boy, and thought Kelly the scullery maid was a whiny little simp, but to my sorrow, no one else watched the show. Having finally understood why people get hooked on stupid reality television, I am still utterly, utterly alone.
Uh-oh. Taxes. As in due yesterday. Heh heh.