Monday, October 01, 2007

Marcel Justgeau!

I like to dress myself up.
Not to the nines--just nicely--and I do so frequently. What's "just nicely" entail?
I'm glad you asked.
On this particularly evening it bears an explicit description of my attire so that the court of public opinion can weigh in with an educated viewpoint--either in support, or in condemnation.
So, to put a fine point on it, I was in a charcoal cardigan, with charcoal wool trousers, a crimson narrow tie on a white collared shirt, with a grey short-brimmed fedora and red black and white Adidas. Spiff, if I do say so myself.

So while I was waiting in line at the parking ticket meter with several other Calgarians anxious for their Friday night to get underway, I was feeling like I had the world by the tail. Until. . .

. . . there were two hobos perched beneath the meter, and with each new parking customer one of the gents was engaging them in a bit of polite smalltalk, which inevitably turned into a solicitation of money for "coffee". When my turn came, the hobo blinked at me, and I could see the wheels turning behind his eyes.

H- "You look like one of them. . . one of them mimes."
B- "Pardon me?"
H- "You look like one of them mimes."
B- (pause)"Geez--you're a real sweet talker, ain't ya?"
H- "It's a compliment!"
B- "Then you must have a completely different opinion of mimes than I do!"
H- "What?"
B- "The world hates mimes."

With that, I strode off, having entertained the line behind me--and no doubt garnered their silent support for my position on mimes.
A Marine (his car plate read "Marine" and he had a giant "Semper Fi!" sticker on his back window), who had been immediately behind me in line, asked me when I would be performing next. I told him that when I wasn't wearing my white gloves, I was off-duty.

Friendly advice to anyone: never compliment someone by drawing comparisons between the Complimentee and:
1) A mime;
2) Hitler;
3) Goose shit.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Betty Jubilee!

Poor, poor Betty!
The indignities she suffered at Calgary's Beerfest were too numerous to mention. Her beauty, lost amidst the haze of beer goggles worn by Friday night's horde of revelers, led to her gas cap being stolen and someone generously feeding her beer (via the open gas tank).

Now--Betty's not so genteel as to deny herself a drink now and then--so the small sample of beer in the tank (and maybe some curry chicken, I don't know) had little effect; engines from her era can blow through almost anything. What was truly inconvenient, was the gas that gurgled out of her when the ignition was engaged. Gas that bubbled and spewed with every engine rev. Gas that I inadvertently deposited all the way down Macleod Trail on my way to Canadian Tire to purchase a new gas cap. Gas whose collected vapors in the cab created a nice warm glow within me as I drove. Which is perhaps why the following exchange took place (but imagine it all yelled over the din of wind, moving at 60kms/h):

B- (singing joyously along with the radio--likely to Gowan)
A Civic pulls up alongside Betty, at cruising speed, a passenger's head out the window.
C- "Hey! Hey! There's gas coming out of your truck!"
B- "I know! I'm doing a stunt! I'm going to light it on fire!"
C- (a look of obvious concern and surprise)
B- "I'm kidding! Someone stole my gas cap! I'm going for a new one!"
C- (no response--still kind of uncertain)

That's the last time I try to be funny about leaving a trail of flames down a highway.

Maybe the second last time.

Friday, May 11, 2007


After my bout of laundry-generating digestive disobedience I drafted a letter to the corporate head office I felt was responsible and voiced my concern for the cleanliness in one of their franchise locations. I didn't really want anything more than an "I'm sorry to hear about your shits without giggles--we'll give that kitchen some elbow grease and get'er back to 'like new' condition"--which is what I fully expected would happen.

Days turned to a week or so, and nothing.

In the meantime, the Manager of the Edmonton Coast Plaza (whom I wrote immediately following my letter to the offending restaurant so that I could heap praise on him and his crew for a series of terrific experiences I have had staying with them) responded to my email in under an hour. The Coast Plaza in Edmonton is class all the way.

Then, one evening my phone buzzed to life. Lo and behold--and Edmonton number! And you'll never guess who it was.
The Capital City Health Unit.

The fella I got was a case study in nervous telephone mannerisms, which is why I am willing to cut him some slack in this following exchange:

H- "So, Mr. Goddard--"
B- "Brad is fine."
H- ". . .oh. . . okay--Brad. Brad, you experienced some diarrhea recently after eating at R----'s?"
B- "I actually had some diarrhea and vomiting."
H- "Oh!"
B- "At the same time."
H- "Oh!"
B- "Yeah. It was pretty wild there for a while."
H- "Oh! Sounds serious."
B- "Yeah--I didn't know which end to aim at the toilet. Hahaha."
H- "Oh. Uh. . . did you--I mean--did you go and take a stool sample at a clinic or hospital?"
B- "Nope. I rode it out. When things settled down the next morning, I stopped thinking I was going to die and sat down with a flat ginger ale and watched Coronation Street."
H- "Oh. So no stool sample, huh?"
B- "No--but if you have some forensic guys, I could give you my underpants. Their blue light would definitely find something; I had a bit of an accident."
H- "Oh--we don't have the resources for that type of thing."

My best joke in the food poisoning arsenal, and that's his comeback? Not enough resources?
I didn't know if I should tell him that I was kidding, or that I would write a letter to my MLA requesting funds for a CSI: Capital City Health Department to process dirty trousers.

At the end of the conversation, H determined inconclusively (because I hadn't pooped in a cup) that judging by the timeline and symptoms it sounded like food poisoning. I told him that his professional opinion made me feel much better.
I was joking again.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How Many Angels Can Dance on the Head of a Pin. . . worm?

Emboldened by reader enthusiasm for my personal misfortunes (ie. shitting and barfing my own trousers), I now feel comfortable enough to share something that, until now, I have harbored as a dark secret. A dark, dirty little secret.

Before I start, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I wash my hands frequently.

To my knowledge, I have never played host to small animals--and by this I mean, I have never had lice, worms, fleas, ticks, or any of the other various and sundry parasites that often afflict children and the very dirty. This was because I, by most accounts, was a tidy child. I didn't even like to play with my G.I. Joes outside, for fear of getting them dirty. In fact, the responsibility of any rough-and-tumble G.I. Joe-ing in the flower bed fell squarely on the shoulders of Recondo (Daniel M. LeClaire to the payroll department; Danny to his mother)--for C and I had found him in a sandbox, and had little respect for his already grubby appearance (don't let that winsome smile fool you--he's as dirty as they come).

And we even washed Recondo after his flower bed adventures, even though we didn't respect him--because we were meticulously clean, and we wanted things to stay that way. This is likely why the only sports I excelled at were bowling, shuffleboard, lawn darts, and debating.

Fast forward several years, and I saw myself as still relatively clean--only now occasionally sporting a mustache like Recondo's. Unfortunately, the 'stache was not the only thing I had in common with my little buddy. There was more than met the eye--I was also dirty. Dirty like the lost-and-found Recondo. Dirty like the wolf.

No wait: the wolf is hungry. I was dirty like. . . the dog.
The dog that rolls in shit when you're dog-sitting for a friend, forcing you to wash him before letting him back in your house (all the while swearing you'll never dog-sit again, and hoping that your friends bring you back a big bottle of duty-free booze). But I wasn't so obviously dirty. I was secretly dirty.
And not the secretly dirty that everyone else is, wanting to be tied down and stuff.
Secretly dirty like a filthy schoolyard child, or a hobo. . . or a lost-and-found Recondo. . . which is, I guess, where I started.

I'm dragging my heels telling you this next part, because things really take a turn for the worse . . . of my ego.

Lying in bed, not long ago, I felt an itch in my anus. Not your average, run-of-the-mill sphincter itch either; a desperate, insistent itch. An itch so urgent, that I couldn't sleep. With it also came an unsettling sensation of crawling.

I itched, and itched, and itched; but each time I stopped itching and returned to bed, the itch returned. And so did the crawling sensation.
Yes. I finally stood on the tub and examined by anus in the vanity mirror, fearful of what I might see. All I saw, however, was my pert little Ewok ass, and nothing more. Well, not nothing more--I saw the choda, my thighs, and other things--but nothing crawling. Thank Christ.

Somewhere around 4am I fell into a fitful sleep, and dreamt of a time when my ass didn't itch.

All the following day I felt fantastic--save the fatigue from lack of sleep--and maybe even did a little skipping to relish the quiet that had fallen over my anus. The itch was behind me! (yes. A pun. Hardy-har-har)

Or so I thought.

Exit light; enter night.
Take my hand--off to itchy anus land.

This time, the itch was so all-consuming, so intensely distracting, that I actually thought I might lose my mind. It sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Unlike other itches that you can't scratch, or itches that are tolerable for seven years, this one was notably unpleasant.

Just what the hell was wrong with me, I didn't not know. Out of desperation, I put my faith in Google.
After washing my hands, I typed in "itchy anus night", favouring a direct query over something more eloquently worded. It was clear, within minutes, that I had pinworms. Little mother fuckers.

Knowing thy enemy is key, and now that I had a name, and a somewhat unpleasant face, I was ready to Jon Rambo the little jerks. After getting the name "Combantrin"--which seemed close enough to the word "Combat" for me to trust that it would get the job done, I called the closest Shoppers to see if they had it. I am loath to admit that, over the phone, I told a white lie without being asked:

B- "Do you have Combantrin, for pinworm treatment?"
S- "Let me check--yes, we do."
B- "I need it for my son--I think he has pinworms."
S- "Oh. Okay. Well, we have it."
B- "Great! You're open to midnight?"
S- "Yes."
B- "I've got a half an hour--see you soon!"
S- "Okay. Bye."
B- "Bye! . . . . . . my son will be very grateful."

Braving a pretty serious snow storm behind the wheel of Betty, I raced with all deliberate speed towards my local Shoppers, blood lust steeling my nerves against the weather.

Smile all you want, you little bastard! You're about to go meet your Maker--and I sure as hell hope it isn't the same guy who made me, because I'll be some pissed off if miserable little bastards like pinworms get into heaven.

Because of my size, relative to the average Combantrin consumer (dirty children), I had to eat half the box. That night, though uncomfortable as I was, I slept well--the screams of pinworms acting as my lullaby.

Open letter to any and all pinworms with big enough balls to take on my anus again: I still have half a box of Combantrin, so bring it, bitches! I will send you straight to hell--on the express train I like to call, My Morning Dump. In the words of Iron Mike Tyson, I will eat your children!

You know, I almost immediately regretted writing that; it was likely eating their children that got me sick in the first place.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You Gotta Be Careful.

I had dinner with two very dear friends of mine last night, and we were feeling a pretty nice glow by the end of the affair. I had repaired to the washroom, and was holed up in a stall trying not to listen to the piped-in crap rock and weak R&B offerings when I was joined by someone else. I was sure that I recognized the boyish falsetto singing along with Des'ree's "powerful, uplifting" song "You Gotta Be", and as my washroom companion listed off all of these things that, according to Des'ree, you gotta be (bad, bold, wiser, hard, strong, tougher, etc) I inquired:

B- "What else you gotta be, big boy?"
Who I thought was S- (silence)

Judging by the silence, the guy doing the duet with Des'ree was not my friend caught in a moment of indulgence, but someone completely foreign to me.
I leaned over to peek under the stall wall to have a look at the shoes.
They were long, white leather numbers. Of course--what else was to be expected of a Des'ree fan?

B- (in my head)"Oh snap."

So I had to think fast, and the best I could come up with was:

B- "Sorry pal! I thought you were someone else--and I thought I was being funny."
Not S- "No problem."


Not S- "You gotta be cool. You gotta be calm. You gotta stay together. All I know, all I know, love will save the day. . . "

I admired him for climbing back in the saddle, and continuing to sing--even though he had missed a few beats earlier; however, I have something I wish to add to Des'ree's list: You gotta keep your trap shut in the men's room--all I know, all I know, is it will save you from getting a shiner.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Eggs Tarantino

Edmonton has many things that it may count in its favour: a bounty of Stanley Cups; the status as Provincial capital; and an outstanding Fringe Festival. One thing that it also has, is one of the most bitter women I have ever had the pleasure of waiting in a breakfast line-up with. Unless they trade her to the Islanders.

After elbowing her way to the head of the line, using her baby's car seat (with baby inside) as a sort of battering ram, she began to swing the poor infant in what I'm sure she thought was a loving, matronly manner--meant, I'm sure, to silence the poor child's crying. Had she looked into the baby-carrier, she would have noticed that the child was crying because a buckle for the seat was banging the poor little bastard in the head. The more she swung to sooth the child, the more momentum the buckle had.

You are likely saying in your heads, "Now B--at most, this woman sounds a little pushy."

Don't interrupt.

While sitting in the cue for a seat, I was given the opportunity to watch this particular bundle of "sugar and spice and all things nice" interact with her husband. This is where her true colours really shone. After a small misunderstanding with her husband regarding the arrival of "Grandpa", she made a comment that piqued both her husband, as well as my own, curiosity.

W- "We're lucky we don't own any firearms."
H- "Why?"
B- (inside my head) "Yeah, why?"
W- "Because I would shoot myself in the head right now."
H- (silent)
B- (inside my head) "Oh wow."

I've been hungry and frustrated before, sure; but so far it hasn't led to irrational suicide threats.

The expression on the pre-teen daughter's face said exactly what we were all thinking: a slight frown, with saucer-wide eyes.
I considered offering space at my breakfast table for any members of their family wishing to claim refugee status from what was sure to be some pretty intense breakfast table chit chat.

Norwalk on the Wild Side.

Nothing will extinguish the light in your soul quite like realising, while in your most vulnerable moment bent over the toilet bowl heaving away your dinner (then your lunch. . . then your breakfast), that the warm sensation blossoming in the back of your lap means you have just shit your pants.

And you know that I would only make a grand statement like that if I could back it up.

Whether it was Norwalk, or a particularly energetic strain of food poisoning, I'll never know; what I do know for sure, is that I've never spent a night quite like I did last Saturday.

At 8pm, after finishing the keg set-up of a music video wrap party/rock show I asked the organisers if they'd mind terribly if I went home and splashed some water on my face--I was feeling a little, well, off. But I would certainly return before the party hit full swing--absolutely.

By 9pm, while curled up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor, I was beginning to doubt the sincerity of my promise to return to the party.

By 10pm, I was beginning to doubt whether I would live.

By 10:10pm, I had executed the simultaneous evacuation of my stomach and bowel, as described above. Needless to say, a humbling experience. Clearly there was something going wrong deep within me; something that, before the night was through, would test my humility and sense of humour well past their limits. As they say, it's always darkest before the dawn--and it was only 10:10pm, so we were barely into "evening".

On wobbly legs, I peeled off my trousers and drawers, threw them in the tub, and turned on the faucet; that was all I was willing to do at present to address the situation. I went to my bedroom, and had just finished redressing when I felt an unsettling movement--like an urgent need to have a bowel movement (which, those who have read ALL my posts, will understand is not an entirely unfamiliar feeling for me). Dashing off to the toilet with all deliberate speed, I arrived just in time to deliver what could best be described as "hot soup" from my ass into the toilet. It was then that the light in my soul, already aflicker from the earlier indignity, was snuffed out. With "hot soup" flowing free and unchecked from my ass, I barfed directly into the pantlegs of my fresh trousers. It happened so quickly, I had no time to react; but the second wave, which I felt welling within me, posed an interesting problem: which end do I face at the toilet?

And truly, with such vileness flowing so freely from one's face and one's behind, there is a completely different morass to wade through--namely, coming to terms with putting your face where your ass just unleashed a deluge of effluence. And what if your ass isn't done? Which would you rather clean up?

I chose to barf down my pantlegs again, for those dying of curiosity.

When the storm subsided, I also chose not to put on another pair of trousers and drawers--the laundry was really starting to pile up--fool me once, shame on you Norwalk; fool me twice, shame on me.

I also chose to climb into the tub, with it's delightful, easy-clean surface and cool touch.

Open letter to the next 40 years of my life: I dare you to provide a worse night.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pain in My Ass.

Ever since moving to Calgary, where pedestrians are more obedient than seeing-eye dogs, I have established some pretty high expectations from my two-legged friends. No one jaywalks, dashes out from between cars, or even risks crossing the street once the little red hand starts flashing; which is what makes my most recent experience all the more unique.

Trying to take advantage of an advance green, I was forced to stop mid-left turn to accommodate one of Calgary's many hobos as he ambled across the street, against the light, ultimately killing my advantage. I had my window open, and apparently this particular hobo had good ears, because when I thanked him (rather pointedly) he turned his hundred-yard stare in my direction, gave a meek smile, and threw me a wave. As far as I was concerned, this did not makes us "square"; he still owed me an advance. Little did I suspect, we would be fast friends in 2 minutes.

While waiting for a pal to return from the bank, cozied up in a parking spot not far from where I had suffered the loss of my advance green, I saw my new hobo buddy ambling, pretty much at the same rate of speed as before, but this time eating a green pepper whole. Where he got an entire green pepper in 2 minutes is beyond me; however, with his obvious fondness of green things, it should come as no surprise that as soon as he saw my lovely green truck Betty, he made a change in course, and started sauntering in my direction.


This could result in one of two things, as near as I could tell: he had heard my rebuke, and decided to waltz over and give me a knuckle sandwich; or, he just really likes green things, and would try to eat my fender. Neither excited me terribly.

My hobo buddy strolled up to my open window, stuck his filthy mitt in my face, and said:

H- "Put'er here, guy!"

No word of a lie, I've seen abattoirs with hands I would rather touch--in fact, I've seen abattoirs whose hands I would rather lick than shake this dude's paw--but ever the diplomat, I politely obliged. I'm nothing if not polite.

H- (one healthy bite out of the pepper--seeds and all)"That is one hot truck, man."
B- "Thanks."
H- "What is she? A '67?"
B- "Nope. A '68--close, but no pepper. Ha ha ha!"
H- "Say, can I have 35 cents?"
B- "No."
H- "Okay." (another healthy bite of pepper) "Have a good day, eh?"
B- "You too. See ya later!"

I tried to drive the rest of the day using only one hand, not wanting to touch anything with the soiled right hand. This meant that when Nickleback came on the radio, I had to grin and bear it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The rule of 3's.

My darling--the love of my life--Betty (the 1968 Chevy truck I drive) required a spa day a couple of days ago because her front tire was going to fall off.

No kidding.

While waiting at Stampede Pontiac GMC I found myself wandering the halls while the mechanics counted how many nuts and bolts she had discarded on the highways and biways of Alberta, and I happened to make a fast friend in one of their self-described "crack salesmen". The way he was behaving, I first thought he meant crack cocaine; he actually meant crack in terms more akin to the A-Team--a crack squad--successful, without rules.

I hate talking to salesmen who fly into their automated pitch, and this guy was at full boil when I turned him to simmer by saying:

B- "Hey, pal, I drive a 1968 Chev truck, everyday. You haven't got one thing on this whole lot half as cool as that--so I think I'll likely stick with what I got."

In the background, I was sure I heard Betty's anti-sway bar drop to the floor with a clangclangclang.

So instead, this young man decided to give me an education on the ins-and-outs of car sales. To him, all customers in Calgary who were over 50 fell into one of three categories: those who listen to Neil Diamond; those who listen to Kenny Rogers; and those who listen to Johnny Cash. He told me that if he could figure out which one they preferred, he could sell them a car. I then got tricky and asked him:

B- "What if they like all three? What do you sell them then?"
S- ". . . I just have to figure out if they like one of them."
B- ". . . oh. . . you can likely tell if some old gal's into Neil Diamond if her panties are hanging on the rearview mirror. Ha ha ha!"
S- "Yeah. It's a bit harder then that."
B- ". . . ha ha. . . I. . . was mostly kidding."

This near-humourless dude then went on to describe the nuances of two different Slayer concerts he went to 20 years apart. How did he get into this conversation?

S- "You look like a guy whose into metal! You like Slayer?"

No shit--I was in a cardigan. I had a feeling that anyone under 50 fell into one of three categories for him: those who listen to Aerosmith; those who listen to Debbie Gibson; and those who listened to Slayer. For some reason, he took me to be the latter.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Two Things Which Override the Central Nervous System, Together Again!

My dear brother C was kind enough to relay a story he knew I would love, for I have a well-known penchant for stories that involve electro-muscular disruption--but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Beer shows, as we have all learned on this very blog, accentuate both the positive and negative in all God's creatures; which side you fall on depends largely on how big a douchebag you are in real life. Some folks aren't douchebags atall--they are the jolly drunks I would let my mother meet; some folks are aleady kind of douchey, and it's these particular individuals that should avoid beer shows if they can--for once they fill themselves to their gills, they become precisely the kind of douchebag that starts 'cruising for a bruising'. And, in some cases, 'cruising for a non-lethal transmission of powerful electrical pulses'--but I'm getting ahead of myself again!

One of our dear good beer folks, who happens to be a girl, could likely--in a police line-up--point out two such douchebags who were paying customers in a recent beer show; and she would likely tell you that they had a lot to say about her appearance, and none of it would appear in a Jane Austin novel. No--she would likely tell you that these guys spoke like Penthouse letters reads--and she wasn't particularly enjoying their descriptive brand of conversation. So my dear brother, another good beer folk, brought them to the attention of festival security, and the Police (who are never far away during beer shows).

To make a long story short, they were escorted out; but not before registering their indignation. When one needed to retrieve his jacket from within the show's gates, the police were momentarily separated, and it's the choices our douchebags made at this vital juncture that would truly elevate them from small d douchebags, to Douchebags.

Douchebag #1 (D1) began making certain inappropriate overtures to the female cop left to babysit him. They were in poor enough taste that D1 was told to keep his opinions and sexual position suggestions to himself, lest he get a snoot full of pepper spray. A small d douchebag would have shut his trap; a Douchebag would have taken that as an invitation.
Gentle readers, you are a clever and gifted lot, and have all likely skipped ahead to what is surely the inevitable RSVP to the perceived "invitation" (for, let's face it, I rarely tell happy bedtime stories on this blog)--but! the story will get much better.

So D1 gets the spray.

D1- (to the lady officer) "I eat that shit for breakfast!"
LO- (removes her night stick, extends it with a flick of her wrist, and issues a blow to the head)
D1- "I love the rough stuff! Do it again!!"
LO- (removes her tazer from it's resting place, makes sure her aim is true, and discharges the non-leathal weapon)
D1- (falls to the ground and promptly pisses his pants)

It was at this moment--as if things could possibly get any better!--that D2 arrives with his jacket to find D1 twitching in a puddle of his own effluence. The spectacle is more poetically described on the website of a manufacturer of tazers as an exhibition of a tool "specifically designed to stop even the most elite, aggressive, focused combatants. Rather than simply interfering with communication between the brain and muscles, the (tazer directly tells) the muscles what to do: contract until the target is in the fetal position on the ground". I think using the words "elite. . . combatant" is a bit of hyperbole, but it does sound exciting.

What D2 found attractive about D1's circumstance is left for the judge to discover in the pending criminal trial; but I doubt D2 enjoyed falling into "the fetal position on the ground" in a puddle of his collected beer samples. What I do know, is that I enjoyed telling you about it.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

As part of my swinging bachelor routine, I go out to bars, restaurants, and cultural functions by myself. This is generally regarded by folks at bars, restaurants, and cultural functions as sad and pathetic. I can see it in their eyes.

Last week I attended a swank art auction at arts central in town here to raise money for ACAD. I was wearing the same outfit I would eventually wear two nights later at another art auction--but in a different city--because I liked the way it made me feel. People really love the jacket. It's what I imagine having really great fake tits feels like! Everyone's eyes on it--twinkling with wonder and amazement--and fleeting flashes of jealousy! I digress. . .

Ah yes--I was decked out in my yellow and black thatched pattern jacket, a bowtie, and some nice Converse high tops--very daper! And I was trying, with all my heart, not to look: 1) bored; 2) lonesome; and 3) sad and pathetic. It's not easy--but this amazing jacket helps.

So after about an hour of standing in one spot nursing a glass of wine, this guy walks up to me and says:

G- "Are you art?"

I mistook this to be a really awful pick-up line. Really awful.

B- "Well--hah--my mother thinks so! Ha ha ha!"
G- "So. . . you're not one of the auction pieces? Are you some installation art?"
B- (cluing in)"Ah. No. No--I just dress like this for the attention."
G- "Oh. Sorry. I just--we thought because you hadn't moved from that spot for the last hour that you were art."
B- "No. Just too lazy to move. Ha ha ha."

He walked away. I tried to resist the urge to move--even just a little--for fear of looking guilty of standing in one spot too long and being called on it.
I was eventually asked to move by the event organiser who gave my spot to the auctioneer--whose jacket, incidentally, wasn't as nice--and his bowtie wasn't hand tied. Looking at my replacement, I felt an arrogant superiority: no one would mistake him for art.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blazer condemned by UN.

I have a blazer that is particularly striking. Given to me at the end of my tenure at the University of Waterloo's Theatre department, I had a lot of sentimental attachment to it. It still features a cuff button I broke in a production of "Taming of the Shrew". I love it. Our Wardrobe Mistress, whom I always had a crush on, was kind enough to give it to my upon my departure from the department.

It's yellow and blue thatch pattern, with a fox hunting motif on the liner. No kidding. And tonight, with my black slacks and tie-your-own black bowtie, I owned the city's fashion scene.

And of the legion of compliments I have received over the years (because when I wear it out and about, I wear it--it does not wear me) I received the finest one this evening in the Edmonton Coast Plaza Hotel's lift. Three girls, returning from the bar, shared the elevator with me--and once the doors closed, one of them got up the courage to comment:

A- "That's a sweet suit, man!"
B- "Thanks."
A- (busting out a rhyme) "That ain't a suit, it's a goddamn warhead! It's spittin' nukes like American war dead!"

I thanked her and departed--I was only on the 6th floor, and we got on at the Lobby; however, I was pretty impressed what she was busting out. I like the idea of thinking of my blazer as a warhead.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

To bed without dinner. . . or phone reception.

I've been displeased with Ma Bell recently. I live in Calgary, on the top of a hill, and yet for the first time ever, I'm getting a ton of dropped calls.

I used to laugh at the commercials touting "Fewest dropped calls!"--"Who are they kidding!?" I would scoff, "No one has dropped calls!" That was when I lived in Toronto, where I'm told Lucille Ball once picked up radio signals in her fillings.

Calgary--dropped calls.

Finally, at my wits end (and more than a little humbled by my once cavalier attitude towards the subject), I picked up the phone and called Bell. It didn't take long for things to hit a stand still.

For the sake of this conversation, I shall remain B (it's my blog); Bell will be Z.

Z- "Have you tried standing by a window?"
B- "My entire house is windows. I have to wear pants ALL THE TIME I have so many windows."
Z- ". . . well, we don't guarantee reception in your house."
B- "I never used to have this problem elsewhere."
Z- "Where else have you used Bell's services."
B- "Toronto."
Z- "Well--that's Toronto. It's a big network."
B- "No wonder people hate Toronto."
Z- ". . . "
B- "Because it gets all the good stuff, eh?"
Z- ". . . "
B- "So how come my pal, whose on the Rogers network, gets 5 bars in my house, and I get one?"
Z- "I don't know. We don't guarantee signal in your house."
B- "Is that what you tell businesses who are considering your services? That you don't guarantee reception in offices--so maybe/maybe not folks will get their calls?"
Z- "No."
B- "So--what? Should I just go sit on a tack?"

I always ask customer service reps, when things aren't going my way, if they'd like me to go sit on a tack. It's a habit I've picked up, and it beats telling them to "Go take a long jog off a short pier!"--only, I would use more swears.

Z- "No. I'm sorry, sir, but I can file a report. . . "
B- "Where's the nearest relay tower--or whatever you guys call it."
Z- "I can't tell you."
B- "It's a secret?"
Z- "It's--"
B- "It's a big tower--it ain't much of a secret!"
Z- "I can't tell you because--while you may not go and vandalize the tower--others might."
B- "What might they do? It's a great big bloody tower?"
Z- "It's not information we give out for security reasons."

Since 9/11, every single mother-loving Corporation boils anything they don't want to tell you down to "security issues". My comeback?

B- "What? Would I go toilet paper your tower? What could someone possibly do to your tower?"
Z- "It's our policy, sir."
B- "I mean, how mad have people gotten at you guys in the past that you now classify your towers as confidential? They're great bloody huge towers! With lights on them! Usually sitting at the highest points in town!"
Z- "It's policy. I will file a report, but there's nothing we can do--we do not guarantee signal in your home."
B- "This is a crock."
Z- "Are you calling me from inside your house right now?"
B- "Yes."
Z- "Has you phone dropped the call while we've been talking?"
B- "It just did, smart ass."

And with that less-than-clever reversal of his little nipple tweak, I hung up.

Next time Bell calls me asking for something, I'm going to tell them that "due to security issues" I can't speak to them at that time. Then I'm going to say, "Wait--how did you get my number?!" and pitch a real big fit.

Harold Ramis makes every teen male look hot!

In my old age have I begun to take for granted the leisure of making out in my own home? Forgotten how my spine would tingle at the sound of footsteps heading towards the basement stairs? Or the blind fumbling in movie theatres?

Apparently I have, because tonight with legs and heads rolling across the screen during the late night screening of "300", I could only look upon the mass of horny Edmontonian teenagers with mild revulsion as they pulled at each other's laps. Despite the nudity, and the sweaty, heaving bodies of Sparta's finest--not even a tingle did I feel. Not a twitch. Only sadness that this is what teens are forced to resort to; and all the while, with an armrest between themselves and their beloved.

Are you there God? It's me, B.
Could you please send Edmonton a boring romantic comedy?
Maybe something by Penny Marshall?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Uncolourful Commentary.

I make a yearly pilgrimage to whichever local rep cinema is playing the "World's Best Commercials"--and have since University. But the quality of this programme has steadily declined over the past few years, making it nearly on par with what I see in between snippets of "America's Next Top Model"--so I don't know why I continue going.

Yesterday, I fulfilled my yearly obligation and took in the Commercials during a matinee at The Plaza here in Calgary. Little did I know, it is the one show in a rep cinema that parents drag their children to, I suppose in some misguided attempt to reclaim the cool their children robbed from them at birth. To any parents reading this thinking that it's great to take their children to see commercials (mostly in other languages) may I make a suggestion? Don't.

A family chose to sit directly behind me in what was a half-full theatre, then proceed to have a hushed discussion about whether it was okay to consume "outside food and drink"; one of the young, moralistic daughters had read a sign upon entry stating that such behaviour was verbotten--and now it lay on dear ol' Dad's shoulders to tippy-toe around why it's alright to break some rules (which I desperately hope will come back to haunt him in a few years when the virginal daughters want to stay out past curfew with "a friend").

Before the show, Dad used a joke he clearly prepared beforehand for the occasion. One of his daughters asked him some question and he answered:

P- "Ancient Chinese secret. Har har har!"

He thought it was a doozie.
No one else got it--so he finally had to explain that it was a line from an old Tide commercial where a customer asks a lady at a Chinese laundry how they get the whites so white, to which the lady responded "Ancient Chinese secret". The daughter still didn't get it because she didn't know what Tide was--which he explained was "like Clorox bleach". Which it isn't. The Mom corrected him by saying, "It's not like Clorox, it's like Cheer." The daughter didn't know what Cheer was either.

M- "Tide's in an orange bottle."

Holy friholy--I was about to explode. I desperately wanted to turn around and say, "It's laundry soap. Tide and Cheer are laundry soaps--so they're like laundry soap. That's the answer to your daughter's question!"

Dad's crummy joke was dragged out with a 5 minute explanation and by the end, the joke well and truly overplayed, and the daughter none the wiser because Mom and Dad are idiots.

As the lights dimmed, questions began pouring out of one of their daughters like Grandpa's flatulence.
D- "Where's this from? What's it about? Is it a car commercial?"

It didn't end. Fresh questions every 30 seconds--with mom reading subtitles and country names--in fact, reading aloud any printing that appeared on the screen.

The questions were painfully stupid. With a giant product shot on the screen of a Sony Handicam, the daughter actually asked:

D- "What's this commercial about?"
M- "Sony Handicams."

Yeah--no kidding. The whole screen is taken up with a Sony Handicam--why didn't Mom let her daughter solve that mystery alone? Exercise her critical thought processes a bit. I mean, unless the kid was blind, describing precisely what is on a one storey screen isn't going to help cure the kid of her case of the stupids.

There was a particularly abstract Pirelli Tires commercial done all in Italian, featuring John Malkovich as a preist and Naomi Campbell as a Hellspawn that provided a challenge for Mom because she was no farther ahead than the rest of the audience in understanding what the Sam Hill was going on.

There was one short reprieve from the questions when, during a commercial featuring a Transvestite prostitute (one of the funniest in the reel), the obvious question came up:

D- "I don't get it."
M- "I'll explain it to you later."

Fat chance, kid. That's the #1 parental avoidance technique in the book.

Just thinking about this matinee has exhausted me. It took all of the patience I could muster from my years as an Anglican Altar boy to not turn around and say, "Jiminy Cricket! Will you shut your gosh dang mouth?!"


I recently rode the bobsled at Calgary Olympic Park.
The ride lasted 59 seconds, and we reached speeds upwards of 123.4 km/h.
According to my calculations the experience cost roughly $2/second; at that rate, it would have been cheaper for me to go to a hooker.

ooooooh! Did I just zing myself?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Under suspicion

I wouldn't say that I'm generally what people would describe as the "suspicious type". I have have the same boyish charm that I did in Grade 5, the same dopey eyes, the same crooked little smile--hell, I still get my hair cut in the school boy style (parted to the right). In fact, about the only thing that garners suspicion are my bowties, and it's always from members of the opposite sex, who look on wearily as if I may try to convert them to Mormonism.

Even my lime green pickup truck Betty, a classic '68 "Vanity Model" Chevy, attracts nothing by adoration.

Yet today, there was something about B that made the long arm of the law put on his leather gloves and approach me with caution in a parking lot. I should say "long arms", as there was a pair of Smokies giving me the 20 questions treatment.

I had thought nothing of the Cowtown Police paddy wagon driving the wrong way down a one way street behind The Palomino; the cops rarely observe traffic laws, and I didn't figure that they would pick today to start--it was cold out. I was toasty warm in my pheasant hunting curling sweater, a nice burgundy paisley bowtie, Arnold Palmer cardigan, light brown fedora, and sharp dark brown slacks. I felt like my mother's pride and joy on two legs! But that inflated opinion of myself would spring a leak when I noticed the coppers from the paddy wagon milling around Betty's nose. As I strolled over to put my parking chit in the windscreen, the one po-po startled back into the other, and things took an unfamiliar turn:

PP- "This your vehicle?"
B- (tipping my hat back)"Sure is! What a beauty, eh?"
PP- "Over the last 40 minutes I have observed you at three different locations around the city. Once at 14th and 11th. . ."
B- "Well, I actually saw you guys at 10th and 12th earlier, if that's what you were driving about 40 minutes ago."
PP- "Yes. And I am curious as to what you're up to."

". . .what you're up to?" Is that real copspeak?

B- "I'm a beer salesman for Steam Whistle Brewing."
PP- "Is that your homebrew?"
B- (I tried not to get snippy)"No. It's certainly no homebrew. We brew a pilsner beer in a National Historic Site at the base of the CN Tower--"
PP- "Yes--"
B- "Our brewmaster is from Pilsner Urquell, the original home of the style--"
PP- "Yes--fine. So what are you doing?"
B- "Well. . . typical salesman type things. I drive around to retailers and licensees. . ."
PP- "Yes--Is it typical for you to make so many stops?"
B- ". . . yes. I'm the only guy for the entire province, so I've got to keep moving."
PP- "I see."
B- "Can you call my boss and tell him that you've seen me all over town; he'd be awful pleased to hear that I'm working so hard."
PP- "Thank you."
B- ". . . keeping warm?"
PP- "Yes. Thank you."

Jumpin' Jeepers! What kind of crime spree would I be able to fashion in a bright green pickup truck while wearing a bowtie? I don't mean to flatter myself, but I have a university education: if I was going to go on a bloody rampage, I wouldn't wear a silk bowtie.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Gummy Bear Hug

There is an instant camaraderie people feel with me because, well, for two reasons I think: I drive a classic Chevy pick-up truck (affectionately named Betty after a much-adored brewer back home) which is bright green--so it's cheery; and I wear a lot of bowties (so I look completely harmless).

This camaraderie means that, over time, I've developed a casual relationship with all the vagabonds downtown.

It's tough to fly below the radar in a bright green truck.

One of the kindest of them all, Gummy Pete, keeps me updated on his continuing battle with certain injectable unpleasantness. But like all relationships, there is still so much that i don't know about him!

Thankfully, during this -30 degree weather, we had a chance to catch up. Outside.

After the obligatory update on his progress with vice (I get to see his arms as Exhibit A and B) I learned that Gummy Pete worked the carnival circuit with his parents for some 10 years or so (favourite ride: The Scrambler; favourite food: corn dogs; favourite game: none, they're all fucking scams).

He then asked me for whatever I could spare.
It just so happened that I had a big bag of Gummy Bears leftover in my truck to spare.

B- "How about these Gummy Bears?"
GP- "Uh. . . sure. I like sugar."
B- "Then they're yours! Are you going to be able to handle these little gummy buggers?"
GP- "?"
B- "Well. . . I mean, your smile has been brighter."
GP- "Oh! The teeth? I'll just keep working on them until I can swallow'em whole."
B- "You sure? Don't choke. I don't want to get a knock on my door at 2am, the police looking grim, hauling me downtown to ask me when the last time was that i saw you."
GP- "You won't."
B- "I'm serious. I don't want to be an accessory to murder. I'd stand out like a sore thumb in a line-up with a bunch of Gummy Bears."
GP- "That's funny! Can you imagine? Getting put in a line-up like that? Har har har!"
B- "As a matter of fact I can."
B- (looking grave, serious)
GP- "HAR HAR HAR! You're a funny guy!"
B- "Thanks. You're the only one who thinks so. That's why I save all my best material for this parking lot."
B- "Pal--I have got to go. No offense--and I know this will make me sounds like a prick--but it's pretty damn cold out here. I gotta go, or my yet-to-be-born kids will have blue toes."
B- "Go out on top--Thank you, and have a good night!"

it wasn't until I got in Betty that i realised I had used my sworn enemy: the 'now don't take this the wrong way' cliche; however, for the first time in the history of the cliche, I don't think that it was taken the wrong way. Why? Because I think he agreed with me: I DID sound a bit like a prick; and it was pretty cold.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pirates of Costco 2: Dead Man's Sweater

Let's face it: when I go out, I turn heads.
I don't mean this as a self-serving statement oozing bravado; I happen to wear a lot of bowties and embroidered western shirts and sharp hats--so I get the attention because clearly I crave it. Occasionally the heads are turning away from me to snicker. . . but that's neither here nor there.

I have this super excellent new curling sweater. Don't take my word for it; take the thousand words that leap to your mind when you look at these photos:

Tonight, at Costco (my first official shopping visit to this mecca) my wardrobe curried unexpected favour from a mother and her daughter.

B- (on the phone with my mother) "Blah blah blah."
A- (a near whisper)"Oh my God!"
B- (still on phone) "War in Iraq! Har har har!"
A- (interrupting) "Excuse me? My father had that exact sweater!"
B- (holding down the phone) "Really? It's a sharp sweater--the old pheasant hunting motif!"
A- "My father's dead. . . but I remember him wearing that sweater so clearly."

She was looking at me with the same dazed wonder a blind man looks at the sun. I, for once in only a handful of times, was at a loss for where to take the conversation. Dead relatives are a tough thing to discuss with strangers.

A- "Where did you get it?"
B- "Oh. . . I got it in Kensington. . . in Toronto."

The daughter piped up:

C- "Mom. Check the label--see if it's his."

At this point I thinking, 'Shit. I hope this isn't dear ol' dad's sweater. I love this sweater! I don't want someone crying all over it and offering me $20 so that she can have a sentimental piece of her dearly departed!"

A- "No. It was such a popular design, I guess. I had a deer on mine."
B- "Yeah! They're very popular! I know this guy has a football player on his."
C- "Check it! Maybe it's his."
B- (staring daggers of the Teen Queen)
A- "No. It likely isn't his."
B- "Would you like to check?"
A- (puts her hand on my woolen arm) "No. It was just a nice coincidence to see it. Here. On you."

That hand on my arm, I could have sworn, felt like it was creeping up my sleeve.

B- "Well. . . I better keep shopping for large quantities of things. Take it easy!"

And we parted. Thank God.
The last place I want to start hashing out old Electra complexes is in the pickle aisle of Costco; I would fear over-stimulation.

Reap What You Sow.

After the threat of making Santa's "Naughty List" loses its sting, what do parents have to wield as a club?

According to a conversation I overheard from a young guy in Ikea: plenty.

A- "Now listen to me. I know that this might be tough to hear--and it's going to sound shitty. . ."

Already my interest is piqued. Any time ANYONE has ever said ANYTHING to me with the prologue, 'Now, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but. . . ' the ensuing comment has always made me want to kick them in the tenders.

A- ". . . but you have got to start being nicer to your parents. They're starting to get older, and when they die you want an inheritance. . ."


A- ". . . That's the only reason I started being nice to mine."


But the girlfriend's response took the cake.

C- "You're right."


My brother and I have already lost the inheritance battle to our deaf, blind toy poodle Kelsey. That little French bastard treats mom like the sun rises and sets on her--and he's been doing it since he was a puppy! Oh, if I only knew then what I know now. . .

Sunday, January 07, 2007

National Icon & High Fashion

With the recent snap of cool weather in Cowtown, I've been able to dust off one of my classic short-brim fedoras. If I'm to believe the tag under the brim, my little beauty was brought to life in Guelph through the loving handicraft of Jim Miln--thanks to you, sir.

Dashing around town, fedora perching on my head with a jaunty tilt, I learned quickly how to shorten the life of a compliment:

A- "Say, that's a really nice hat!"
B- "Thanks! It's beaver."
A- ". . . what?"
B- "The hat. . . it's beaver."
A- "What do you mean 'beaver'?"
B- "I mean, the brown fur my hat is made out of was formerly a beaver."
A- ". . . ."
B- "What?"
A- "That's gross, man. Beaver?"
B- ". . . I suppose that you don't want to see my rabbit foot keychain, huh?"
A- (leaves for greener conversation pastures)
B- (calling after)"You do realise that beavers are nasty little fuckers, don't you? Fine. . . go back to your C.U.C.U.M.B.E.R. Club reality, where beavers are friendly and dress like roller disco heros!"

Yes. My beaver fedora is hung on a deer hoof gun rack, which I currently use to support my flashiest bottle of scotch.

Yes. I am the biggest monster I know--both from a design and style position, and from a "Mills-McCartney" perspective.