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Thursday, July 31, 2003
Is there no depth to which bureaucracy will not sink? At Beefstock's telecast of the big Toronto benefit concert, hapless Calgarians also had to sit through some political speeches. The concert was interrupted so that a couple of tax-guzzling scoundrels could yap on about public spirit and beef on a bun. But that's not what's got me steamed, no: it was that they cut in just as The Flaming Lips took the stage. You just know that some low-wattage goombah looked at the lineup and said, "The Flaming WHAT? I've never heard of 'em! Put the speeches here." Moron. But phew, eh? At least Justin Timberlake finished his set, eh?
A Boot to the Head to the woman at Costco. Rather than negotiate the switchback queue line to the lunch counter, she tried to step ahead of me as I reached the front. "I'm just going to get a drink!" giggle, blink. "Then you're just going to go to the back of the line and wait your turn," I say, stone-faced. "Oh, I'm in A RUSH!" she says piteously. I am unmoved. "Yeah, me too," I say. But by this time the counterperson has surrendered to pity and served her ahead of me. "I hope you don't mind," she says. I say I do. There appears to be a stalemate. Way to ruin my baked chicken pocket, lady.
Hmm. I appear to be in a foul mood. Could it be the impending family reunion, as in tomorrow, as in I'm not nearly ready to go?
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
"SARSstock" is taking place in Toronto right about now: the benefit concert to reawaken interest in, and tourist visits to, Canada's World-Class City. Starring The Rolling Stones, Justin Timberlake, and good old Cancon standbys such as Rush and Burton Cummings. Well, anyway, the name "SARSstock" made me chuckle. Then I realized that my own city, Calgary, is putting on a big benefit of its own today. It will feature a delayed telecast of the Toronto concert and attempt to raise funds for our ailing cattle industry, still reeling from the Mad Cow crisis in May. I hereby christen it "Beefstock," which should get me punched repeatedly.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
A code in the head, sniffle, wah, how is this possible? Rhinoviruses should expire in a heat wave. But no. At least I'm keeping myself entertained with new Don Martin sound effects every few minutes. Gashfloogle! Kreepork! Snurm.
Belated thanks to Bill Barol for his recommendation of "Yours, Mine and Ours" by The Pernice Brothers. I've been listening the hell out of it lately. I was at the point of lunging at people with X-Acto knives and phone cords yesterday, when suddenly the music came on and began to fondle my frontal lobe, preventing an outburst. So yeah, thanks.
Monday, July 28, 2003
Thank you, thank you, my knowledgeable Blog Buddies, being Nikki, Howie, Sean and Mike M., in order of arrival. I republished my archives, and lo, even the ones with naughty words did appear. Magic.
I should have known. I make the special trip to the airy-fairy aromatherapy boutique to buy a bottle of "Perineum Massage Oil" without which Vinnie La Vin does not intend to give birth. I am made to wait a few minutes while a previous customer discusses how much better oil of violet, or was that essence of summer violet? -- and some decoction of elf ears and endangered lichen has made her complexion, sex life and bowel movements. Irritated, I begin to handle the merchandise as I wait, which is a huge mistake as I am horribly allergic to mystical oils, and my fingers begin to swell. Puffing and growing more deadly in mood by the second, I finally make the purchase while explaining that, no, it's not for me, no, I'm not a doula, and yes, my fingers always look like scale model Zeppelins.
All for naught, because the baby was found not to have switched position in the uterus and was still stubbornly presenting bum-first when Vinnie went into the hospital on Saturday night. At about 4 a.m., after understanding what "labouring in vain" really meant, poor Vin had to wait a few more hours before the obstetrics surgical team came on shift, not very comfortable hours I might add, before the inevitable Zip-loc delivery. Caesareans are such effortless operations these days that it makes you wonder why everyone doesn't have one. Except your essential-oil of marigold and moonbeam crowd, of course. Congrats to Vinnie and Luke and baby Lief, and remember, you can always use that perineum oil on his diaper rash.
Another Folk Fest gone, and another successful year. I had only one moment of sheer boredom, which occurred during Michelle Shocked's set. Apparently she'd gotten "Folk" and "talk" mixed up, because talk fest was what we got. Blah blah blah I'm getting divorced so I really know what misery is blah blah blah learning how to drive in the back roads of Texas blah blah blah blah....hey, Michelle! Here's a thought: shut the hell up about what inspired you to write the songs, and just sing the damned things.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Question... Does anyone have an idea why some of my archived blog entries have disappeared? At least one of them had a profane word, but others didn't. I'm baffled.*
*[It doesn't take much.]
Bad head, boffo barbecue, bad bug, bravo music. Oh man, another migraine looms and I've got two deadlines this afternoon. Now, if I could only develop an ulcer and a martini habit, I could be an ad hack from the '60s.
The Myrmidons' lawn-bowling barbecue was a hit, actually even making a profit. We just knew the crowd was ready for barbecued food after weeks of chili and lasagna and curry and pizza. All nice foods, yes, but in a heat wave you want barbecue, by God. So we served beef satay on skewers, peanut sauce, rice pilaf, greens with sesame dressing, and mango popsicles. Also an insulting vegetarian alternative of grilled bulgur pucks on a bun. Not a scrap left over. Too bad our culinary success didn't carry over into our bowling, as we were badly shamed on the green. We held top place in the league for one brief week: now it's back to the minors.
The evening ended on a curious note as a marauding wasp flew in from nowhere and proceeded to attack bowlers standing around after the game. One woman was stung inside one nostril before we shooed the wasp away, whereupon it buzzed another bowler and stung him on the chin. Then it came back to get the Myrmidons, but Craig was ready for it, swiping brutishly and chasing it out of sight. The stung woman was helped to the clubhouse, weeping. The stung man was holding a Budweiser to his chin. No need to guess which one gets honorary Myrmidon status.
Last night was the first night of the Folk Fest, and the first time in 25 years Elvis Costello has played Calgary. The story, told to me by my old roomie Lori, goes like this: Elvis came to Calgary in 1978 and played the Jubilee Auditorium. He was at the forefront of the New Wave then, all retro Buddy Holly looks and brilliant music, and the crowd was pumped. Problem was, it was the Jubilee Auditorium, the tight-assed matron of an uptight fine arts scene. People sat quietly in their seats to listen to the symphony or the opera. Only ruffians and hoodlums stood or, heavens, danced. So the Jube's security staff kept cracking down on the Elvis fans, threatening to stop the show, finally even dragging one repeat dancer out of the theatre. At that point, Elvis apparently stopped playing and said that because of the brutality he’d witnessed, he'd never come to Calgary again. Well, good thing he changed his mind: it was an amazing show. What a voice. What sinister, brilliant, heart-rending lyrics. It was just him and a pianist onstage – the pianist himself was a virtuoso worthy of a standing ovation – and they played for almost 90 minutes without a break. Elvis did some old faithfuls like "Allison," "Watching the Detectives" and "King of America," but mostly he played newer material. He got his start at folk fests, under his real name, Declan McManus. Nice to see him back at it.
Monday, July 21, 2003
Stunned Again. Taking his place in the front rank of Exceptionally Generous Brothers is my older brother, Lawrence, who stunned me with the gift of a digital camera this weekend. I'd gone up to help out with child-droving [summer camp in the country for some, hockey camp for others], and Lawrence simply handed me a bag containing the Canon A370, or as I call it, the "Oh my GOD oh my GOD oh my GOD." I simply don't know what to say to such overwhelming generosity. We're not a physical family, so I can't hug him and/or cover his boots with kisses. I'm a copywriter, so I can't exactly buy him a birthday gift of comparable value. But until I can no longer hold the car keys or control the gears, I'll drive his children anywhere they need to be. I'll help out at the cabin. So help me, I'll even laugh at his jokes.
It never fails. The week that is jam-smacked with deadlines is also the week of the Myrmidons' Lawn-bowling barbecue and The Calgary Folk Fest. So I can either skip one of those events or work my ass off tonight, which is what I have been doing. You know, I used to work stupid hours every week at EyeWire, and Adobe before that, but since coming to Karo I've developed a liking for 8-hour days and office-free weekends. But since I've also become addicted to regular employment, there's nothing for it but to put in the time. And whine a lot. As you can see.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Too far east is west. Too far geek is cool. According to Dominic Cavendish of The Daily Telegraph, "Knitting is officially cool." Knitting is the new rock and roll!
And if you are very, very cool, you knit your own Elvis Wig. [The link came from Tim Blair: thank yuh, thank yuh very much.]
Friday, July 11, 2003
My day was made by a phone call from Jon telling me that I'd made the Ideas page over at the the Veerdos by finding the Klein bottles web site. Also home of Klein toques and Moebius scarves -- which now I must absolutely knit, or die trying.
It's been a pretty good week, rare for a bitchy old Stampede-hater. The super-important super-secret work project was a success, I had a long overdue and very enjoyable coffee and chat with Bryce, The Myrmidons exacted fearsome victory in two lawn-bowling matches on Wednesday, and Vinnie La Vin's baby shower last night was a big hit. Even small things get chalked up in the Good Things column this week -- another fantasy lived vicariously yesterday as a pro baseball player swatted a mascot with a bat, something I've dreamed of doing my whole life. And this morning Fearless phoned to say that the Eddie Izzard tickets are finally in her possession, so the end of August road trip to Vancouver is on. And as I write this I can hear galvanized tubs being filled with ice and Corona bottles just outside my office. Who do we think we are, a law firm? Oh, and the massive condo-cosy afghan just needs its panels stitched together now.
But before I come over all daisies and happy faces, let me just say one last thing about the Stampede: changing the name of calf-roping to "tie-down roping" isn't fooling anyone, you dolts. I probably won't live long enough to see rodeo become so reviled for cruelty as to be banned outright. Well, I console myself with the knowledge that crowd-pleasing and wildly lucrative gladiatorial combat was eventually abolished, so perhap there's hope that rodeos will likewise disappear some day.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
I like I like I WANT I WANT: Two very cool things which I must not, must not! waste money on. First, a full set of Klein Bottles, and no, they're not Ralph Klein's dead soldiers a-mouldering in his garage.
Second: my own Zorb, which I will take to all ski resorts in my vicinity, in both winter and summer, thus successfully irritating skiers, boarders and backpackers.
People. I ask for so little. Would you deny me these small trinkets?
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Yesterday's "Duh" newspaper headline: "Cut Parachute Cords Led to Death." What's next? "Suicide Bomber Killed?" Oh, no no...wait, how about "Big Mac Consumption Indicated in Obesity?"
I think the spate of recent lawsuits in the United States is proof of the growing trend of people not wanting to take any responsibility whatsoever for what they do to their bodies. The one exception would be the lawsuits against those tobacco companies, who knew damned well what they were doing when they increased the levels of nicotine in their cigarettes, the buggers. But suing fast food restaurants because your ass looks like a garbage bag filled with wet spaghetti? Ridiculous. Okay, how about this headline? "Scrabble Linked to Woman's Low Self-Esteem." There's a lawsuit in waiting. Then I'm going to sue physics for making me feel stupid in Grade XI. Or life itself, because it insists on ending, which is plain bad ROI. Wait, I think Douglas Adams (may he enjoy endless heavenly rewards) already took care of that one. Thanks.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Checking in. Waking up at 6:30 a.m., I note that it is a bright and lovely summer morning, my pulse is a healthy 65 bpm, my eyes are clear, and yes, I still hate the Calgary Stampede.
Staff Appreciation Day passed tolerably well, though once again my team failed to win a prize. The Mood Rings caused a few giggles, but bowled abysmally. My homemade stuffed jalapeno peppers blew the top of everyone's head off, and it was rumoured that children cried in distress and had to be given popsicles. Sue and I had our modest pre-bowling hoot rudely interrupted by the most strait-laced member of our workplace, which naturally made us not at all repentant. I was happily beery and mildly high when introduced to another Susan, a very pleasant woman whom I took to be somebody's girlfriend. Turns out she's the replacement ad executive who's going to be in charge of my biggest client accounts when MTZ goes on maternity leave, so my lifelong tradition of making appalling first impressions continues unabated.
You've got Sand in My Coffee...Had a lot of fun Saturday helping Fearless get paint all over her condo. The majority of the walls were painted a sandy beige called "Safari," covering up a horrible mint-green. Then an accent wall was painted a lush brownish black "Espresso." I left all the hard work to Fearless -- the sanding, washing, unscrewing of lightplates, taping -- and merely helped myself to a roller and anointed the ceiling in a few too many places during the course of the day. Despite the spots, the overall job looks damned decent. I came over to Fearless's place again yesterday, ostensibly to help out with the trim and the cleanup, but ended up sleeping in a chair for the balance of the afternoon. Such a friend.
When Danger Reared its Ugly Head, I Bravely Turned My Tail and Fled. I was continuing my afternoon doze into the evening when, at about 9:50 p.m., shrieking came from across the way. "Help me! Help me! Somebody help me!" It was a woman, and her panicked screaming was accompanied by a child's wailing. First thought (annoyed): it's somebody's TV. Second (startled): No, that's real screaming, oh my god. I ran out onto the deck in time to see a crowd of people rushing from both sides of the street towards the screams. Then, just as quickly as it started, the screaming stopped. People turned around, left the woman's yard and went home. No police cars or ambulances arrived. "Must have been the kid getting trapped under something and his mother wasn't able to lift it," I thought. It was unsettling, but strangely comforting in one detail, that being the number of people (at least 20) who rushed to the woman's aid. Calgary's a pretty good city, for all I slam its yearly Western embarrassment. I went back to deep relaxation until an hour or so later, when I heard what was probably a car backfiring nearby, but sounded eerily like gunfire. No, not the Stampede fireworks; they came later. Out to the balcony again goes Chicken Jane, she who does not rush to help people immediately, but scopes the situation first. Sigh oh sigh. I had trouble sleeping afterwards, but that was probably because I'd spent the day snoring. Not because I'm paranoid or anything.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Hell Week 'n' a Half dawns... As if there weren't enough reasons to be embarrassed about the Calgary Stampede. Not enough animal cruelty and bolo ties and bad shirts and twangs that are more Okotoks than Oklahoma. This year the poster is especially horrible, showing a burly cowboy with a protective arm around an implausibly buxom and sluttishly attired cowgirl. Then, in bewildering montage around them, chuckwagons and prairie chicken dancers and bucking broncs and brahmin bulls and fireworks and roulette wheels, and the Calgary Tower, don't let's forget that symbol of potency, no no.
If you isolated a strand of Hieronymous Bosch's DNA and implanted it in a fairground caricaturist, you might begin to achieve visual chaos on this level. Oh well. I can be disgusted all I want, but I do get tomorrow morning off because of the deplorably cheesy parade. Yee haw.
Actually, I get all of tomorrow off from work, since it is Staff Appreciation Day, which means I have to hang out with the coworkers and drink and play at lawn-bowling. This year the team theme is "colours." "Interpret it any way you want," said the memo. Immediately I came over all metaphorical: we could go as Communists [reds!] Environmentalists [greens!] Mississippi Delta musicians [the blues!] My team's response was a tactful "what the FUCK?" -- so the upshot is, we're going as a mood ring and I have to head out tonight and buy hula hoops for the ring part. I tell you, I am quite thankful for Canada's relaxed marijuana laws at times like this.
Congratulations to Vancouver on getting the 2010 Winter Olympics. As former hosts of the Games, we Calgarians pray that you'll come up with slightly less barfulous mascots than Hidy & Howdy, and a slightly less insipid anthem than "We are the Neighbours of the World." Fifteen years later, my pancreas still flinches.