Thursday, June 29, 2006

This will make a billion dollars.

You know what this country needs?


A fucking Waffle House or two.

If you've never travelled to the southern United States, you've probably never heard of this place. If you have, then you've probably seen one at damn near every exit off the highway south of the Mason-Dixon line (and a few north of it).

For a little over two bucks, they serve you up the best damn waffle you've ever had, and likely the biggest, too. The thing is most of the size of a dinner plate, and according to a young fellow named David who just started working at their restaurant right off I-75 in Corbin, Kentucky, "they make the batter from scratch, that's why it tastes so good." Their coffee is actually pretty decent, too, which puts it one step ahead of Denny's (who apparently think dipping a brown marker into hot water somehow qualifies it as "coffee").

Of course, for ambience, every single location has a jukebox featuring the latest country-music hits of today, some from yesterday, and some very exclusive odes (by some music-biz unknowns) to the yellow-and-brown chain of diners. Also unique is the way your server calls out the order to the chef (it's an open kitchen)... if there are two waffles in your table's order, they'll yell out, "Waffle on two!" When you're seven years old, that's both hilarious and awesome... and it still sorta is today.

Anyway, when I eventually hit the lottery and/or have a dump truck full of cash crash into my building, I'll make it my personal crusade to bring a franchise north of the border. I'll import all of the waitstaff and cooks from places like Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas, so you'll know the southern drawls are authentic. And I'll be sure to pack my jukebox full of Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers and, to ruffle a few political feathers, both Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks.

So... this is an open call for (a.) Waffle House testimonials/anecdotes, (b.) offers of cash to help me start up the franchise, or (c.) flocks of gorgeous women to feed me grapes, one by one. I know that last one doesn't really fit in there, but damn, that would be awesome.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jesus, not another one of these.

If you want to read fifty things about me, click here. Otherwise, have yourself a lovely day. (Stolen from Caitlin.)


1) Sleep with or without clothes on?
In the wintertime, usually a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. But in the summer, as little as possible... usually nothing.

2) Prefer black or blue pens?
Black, ever since teacher let us write with pen instead of pencil (grade 5? 6?). Blue is just so "everyone else."

3) Dress up on Halloween?
Not usually, but I can be convinced. I do enjoy being out on Hallowe'en, though, and watching the totally different social dynamic that occurs when people ensconsce themselves in costumery.

4) Like to travel?
It's alright. I've been here and there, but I've come to the realization that there are often many, many things right around the corner from your house that you've never realized were there.

5) Like Someone?
This question is not answerable in less than 4000 words.

6) Do they know?
Yup.

7) Who sleeps with you every night?
Eleventy billion supermodels. It's a tight squeeze on a double bed, but we get by.

8) Think you're attractive?
Not particularly, although some would disagree with me.

Edit (2006/06/28, 10:03 pm): I thought about this while on a little walk around the neighbourhood, and I think I have a more accurate answer. I think I have everything pretty much in the right place, which makes me think I look alright. The thing is, I'm not terribly eye-catching... like, nobody ever glances across a crowded room and thinks, "Holy damn, who's THAT guy? Meeee-owww!!!" But that's fine, I suppose. I guess. I don't know. I'm clueless. I'm not sure who would ever read this, given that it's a full day or so after I posted this up originally, but hey, whatever, at least I got this thought down somewhere. Now, on with the inanity.

9) Want to get married?
Eventually.

10) To:
Someone with whom I can mentally joust for the next 70 years. Oh, and a great rack helps.

11) Are you a good student?
I was a good student. Too good (but not a kiss-ass). I tell my own students, "I should've skipped more classes in high school."

12) Are you currently happy?
I'm pretty much always happy, and am now, for the most part.

13) Have you ever cheated? Been cheated on?
No, and not to my knowledge.

14) Birthplace?
Petrolia, Ontario — a town of 4000 near Sarnia. But the only reason I was born there was because the town in which I grew up was too small to have a hospital (or a school, or cable, or chlorinated water).

15) Christmas or Halloween?
Christmas, because of the family get-togethers. They all live a fair drive from me, so it's nice when we can all get together and catch up.

16) Colored or black-and-white photo?
They're both nice, depending on the situation. Without colour photography I never would've been able to capture this for posterity, and that would've been a shame.

17) Do long distance relationships work?
After a while, you hit a ceiling in terms of how much the relationship can develop, just because you can't spend enough time with the other person. Maybe if it was pre-established, it could work... but not when you're just starting things.

18) Do you believe in astrology?
No. Absolute horseshit. Show me a controlled scientific experiment in which it works... oh, I'm sorry, you can't? Then shove it up your ass.

19) Do you believe in love at first sight?
First sight, no. Within ten seconds of talking with a woman I can feel attracted to them... but love? Nah, that takes a lot longer.

20) Do you consider yourself the life of the party?
Depends on the crowd. I can usually strike up a conversation with pretty much anyone, but I probably won't be the guy dancing to "Unskinny Bop" on the front lawn wearing nothing but a smile and sandals.

21) Do you drink?
I do enjoy the booze, yes.

22) Do you make fun of people?
Nah. Not unless they deserve it, and most people don't.

23) Do you think dreams eventually come true?
What are dreams but unrealized possibilities, anyway?

24) Favorite fictional character?
I don't usually read fiction, but I've always been an admirer of Kilgore Trout.

25) Go to the movies or rent?
Rent or download. (Yes, steal.) I'll see maybe two movies a year in the theatre, tops. And those have got to be special.

26) Have you ever moved?
When you're a co-op student at UW, you spend five straight years moving pretty much every four months... and this has carried through to my post-UW days. Starting from my move away from home and into residence at Waterloo, I've moved... let's see... 15 times.

27) Have you ever stolen anything?
One baseball card from a pack that had split open and spilled all over the floor in Woolco when I was about 8. I've never told anybody about this, ever. You, Dear Reader, just got a "scoop," as it's called in the news business.

28) How's the weather right now?
Hot. Too hot. And muggy. And sunny. God damn, I hate the heat.

29) Last time you cut your hair?
Mid-May, I think. I'm glad I'm back in the old neighbourhood where I can go into the barber shop and say, "Give me the usual, Rocco."

30) Last person you talked to on the phone?
I rarely talk on the phone these days... hmm... lemme think... I think my mom called on Sunday night.

31) Last time you showered?
This morning.

32) Loud or soft music?
Depends on the music. White Cowbell Oklahoma? Loud. Miles Davis albums from the '50s? Soft.

33) McDonald's or Burger King?
I don't usually eat either, but if forced to eat one or the other I'll go with the King.

34) Night or day?
Night. It's cooler, and I won't get a sunburn.

35) Number of pillows?
Two, but they're ridiculously thin from being ridiculously old. I bought a new, puffy pillow a couple of months ago, but... I dunno... I think my head and neck are just used to the old, crappy ones.

36) Piano or guitar?
I play a credible rhythm guitar (I don't have the patience to figure out and practice solos, or intricate stuff, or where the notes are on the fretboard). But my first love is the drums, at which I can hold my own.

37) Future job?
Professor at a faculty of education who doesn't have his head up his ass. They're a rarity.

38) Current job?
High school physics/science teacher.

39) Current love?
Matthew Sweet albums from the early to mid-1990s... French toast... temperatures below 20 C... open-source (and free) office software which is, at times, better than Microsoft's... and the Detroit Tigers, who are the best team in baseball.

40) Current longing?
A conclusion to a current conundrum in my life.

41) Current disappointment?
The fact that supply-teaching didn't pay quite as much as I thought it would.

42) Current annoyance?
I seem to be clenching my teeth a lot in the past couple of days. I try not to, but I catch myself doing it now and again. I don't know why, and I've never done it before.

43) Last thing you ate?
A lunch consisting of a barbecued hamburger, some Caesar salad, delicious delicious red sweet peppers, and a bit of chocolate cake.

44) Last thing you bought?
I chipped in for a pizza yesterday with some co-workers.

45) Most recent thing you are looking forward to?
I'm going to Ottawa on CanaDayTM... that should be fun.

46) What are you hearing right now?
Matthew Sweet's "Day For Night," in my head.

47) Plans for the weekend?
The aforementioned Ottawa sojourn.

48) What did you do today?
Got up, made some coffee, went to work, had two meetings, ate the aforementioned barbecue lunch, tried to put stuff together for the summer-school course I'm teaching this July but kept getting sidetracked, came home, read some blogs, found this, stole it, and now I'm up to question 48.

49) Pick a lyric, any lyric or song?
There is a road / no simple highway / between the dawn / and the dark of night
And if you go / no one may follow / that path is for / your steps alone
— Grateful Dead, "Ripple"

50) Pick a movie quote?
"Quit tryin' to strike everybody out. Besides, strikeouts are fascist. Ground balls are more democratic."
— Crash Davis, in a pitching-mound visit to Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham

There. Now go do something productive.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Environment Canada is a bunch of cockteases.

Owing to the general temperature of my apartment (i.e., hotter than the most fiery depths of Hades), I eagerly and frequently check the Environment Canada website to see if maybe, just maybe, I can get a little relief from this ridiculousness.

Imagine my elation when, as I checked the website a couple of days ago, it stated that later this week in Toronto the high temperature would be nineteen glorious degrees Celsius. Nineteen! I was very near climax, I'm not gonna lie.

But then, as soon as my brain was adapting to the idea of maybe having it be long-pants-wearin' weather again (seriously, nobody needs to see my Whitest Legs This Side Of Albinism)... I checked it today.

Twenty-six.

And with that, my heart sunk.

If you need me, my head will be in the fridge.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A slight revision.

Previous statement:

All the good ones are taken.


Amended statement:

All the good ones are either taken or gay.


Seriously. This is getting ridiculous.



My new favourite motto: "Life's a motherfucker sometimes."

Minutiae.

Why is my apartment so friggin' hot? It can't be just because it's on the third floor of my building. Regardless, the most recent Canadian Tire flyer shows that $50 ceiling fans are going for $25, so I'm going to buy two. If you'd like to come over and help me put them up (they're a two-person job, with minimal chance of electrocution for your part of the deal), I will pay you with beer and/or physics lessons.

I was down at the Pride goings-on last night with some friends. It really has gone from a niche thing to just an all-out, all-inclusive party weekend, not unlike the Calgary Stampede. (There's plenty of leather at both those events, albeit used in much different ways.) As a straight person, I'm used to being able to express affection to the gender of my choice in a public sort of way, and it's a bit sad that a large group of people may face some flak for doing exactly the same thing, most times and places. Not on Church Street last night, mind you... which is one of the reasons it's so over-the-top, I guess. (One of the people in our group witnessed one woman slapping another random woman on the ass; and when the slappee turned around to look at the slapper, the latter said, "It's all out, baby!")

I wish my financial situation didn't suck so bad. Then, I wouldn't have to spend my July teaching summer school... I could roam the streets of this fair Hogtown, seeing this and that, and spending lots of time relaxing out on the Toronto Islands, which I haven't visited since I was six (and only briefly at that). Does anyone know, what is there to do out there? I'm intrigued by the notion of a quiet, seaside community a short subway/ferry ride away from me. (Mostly by the "quiet," as I live facing a major 4-lane street, and the noise of car/truck/siren traffic is driving me batty.)

Does anyone else think of '80s boy-pop band Menudo when they see the word "minutiae?"

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Bonnaroo recap.

I know you've been patiently waiting for it, so here it is. Click here to read the gory details about what happens when three pale Canadians make a trek to south-central Tennessee, all in the name of rock and roll.



After a drive down which included a Jesus sighting (more on that later), a visit to a Waffle House and a grocery store cashier telling us he was attacked by a hippie in a Wal-Mart parking lot earlier that day (possibly whilst drunk), three novice campers managed to erect a tent in the dark which none of them had assembled before and set off on a sojourn to where all that awesome music was coming from.

On Thursday night, we managed to catch partial sets from DeVotchKa (crazy eastern European-inspired folk-punk), Marah (middling Americana) and Toubab Krewe (think "Phish Goes to Nigeria") before eventually collapsing in a heap in our new nylon home.

Friday morning brought an oppressively hot tent, but also an introduction to our neighbours: Mark from San Francisco (but soon to be Austin), and Shawn and Doobie from Virginia. Seriously, these guys were stupendously great, and hardcore festivalgoers, and Doobie owns sparkly pants and man-skirts. (Plus, they don't really give out that kind of a nickname for nothing, if you catch my drift.)

Eventually we worked up the gumption to head off to Centeroo (the music-tent area of the Bonnaroo complex) to take in Ben Folds' set. But, to enter Centeroo meant undergoing a search of your backpack; security started off searching everyone vigorously, which resulted in a giant, static lineup.

This presented a unique opportunity to study group dynamics. I reasoned that, with this type of a crowd (i.e., slightly rowdy festivalgoers who really really want to see the music they paid to see), their patience would soon run out. Lo and behold, the scorching Tennessee sun eventually persuaded the security folks (egged on by the crowd, no doubt) to let everyone in without searches. As I walked past the gates, one of the official-looking fellows broadcast to the crowd, "You don't have any drugs, right? We're trusting you on this."

Yeah, right. There was so much pot in Centeroo all weekend I felt like I was at a meeting of the Marc Emery Fan Club. Not just pot, though... there were people, at various parts of the weekend (mostly encountered on "Shakedown Street," where a good deal of vendors had assembled) hawking their wares:
  • "Liquid THC! One for three dollars, two for five!" (shouted by a man standing on top of a cooler)
  • "I Need Acid" (worn by a guy on a sandwich-board)
  • "I got blow." (quietly muttered over and over by a guy walking through the crowd)
Oh, drugs. How abundant you were.

At any rate, we sweltered through Ben Folds' great set, which included his Dynamite Hack-ish rendition of a Dr. Dre song, and tried to make it to G. Love and Special Sauce. I say "tried" because we all stopped for a little rest under a shady tree... and before we knew it, we'd all zonked out for 45 minutes. Seriously, it looked like the video from Radiohead's "Just," with people lying down everywhere.

Eventually we revived ourselves, caught the last bit of Nickel Creek's lovely bluegrass set, and bore witness to Cat Power's bizarre show in which she made a third-song entrance (letting the supremely talented Memphis Rhythm Band take the first two numbers solo), eventually dismissed the band to play solo piano tunes, then called them back to kick it again, then dismissed them once more. I really liked the entire ensemble together, but wasn't quite so enamoured with Ms. Power's solitary efforts.

By dusk we'd made it over to What Stage, the big one, for Tom Petty. I was a bit disappointed that the first eight or nine songs he played were all from 1990 and beyond (seriously, I've heard "Free Fallin'" more than I'd ever want to)... but then he brought out Stevie Nicks for a duet on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," which redeemed him somewhat.

...but not enough for us to take off and explore the rest of Centeroo, eventually catching a comedy show featuring Jon Reep and the Daily Show's Demetri Martin, among others. Reep, a southerner, had a line which gets funnier every time I've thought about it since: he described how people, when they hear the way he talks, just wait for him to say something stupid like, "What are shoes for?!" He delivered that line in a doofus-y voice while alternately kicking out his feet to the sides. If you see me in person within the next few weeks, ask me to re-create this for you. (It's quite funny in person, not so much in print.) Martin was funny, but reminded me a bit of Mitch Hedberg... that's not a bad thing, and it's nice to see someone carrying on the late comic's style. Still, though.

At any rate, we finally plodded our way back to the tent and zonked out for the night, after chatting a bit with Doobie and Mark, who were able to quite clearly hear Mr. Petty's set all the way back in Camp Jeff Spicoli. (You see, the camping area was split up into sections named after various movie characters... apparently Jeff Spicoli was in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which I have never seen. Or something like that. I quite appreciated Camp Capt. Rex Kramer, Camp Marty McFly, Camp Clark Griswald and Camp Scott Evil.)

Saturday was going to be more fruitful, musicwise, than Friday. It very well could have been the best day of music ever experienced by anyone, anywhere.

The day started off with Swedish psychedelic-metal superstars Dungen at That Tent, which I eventually distilled down to a combination of "the Melvins meets Burt Bacharach." They tried some broken-English stage banter, which was endearing, but mostly they stuck to awesome, awesome instrumental wanderings, which I greatly appreciated. Lyrics just gum-up the works, anyway... although when they're in Swedish they tend not to be so intrusive.

We then ambled over to What Stage and managed to score a good, close spot for Elvis Costello and the Imposters, featuring Allen Toussaint. Musically, I enjoyed this set the most out of any all weekend, which is saying a lot. Toussaint brought along the Crescent City Horns, a superbly tight backup set which added just the right touch to a lot of these songs... besides, lately I'm diggin' brass sections in rock music (witness my recent obsession with early work by Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears).

After Elvis' stupendousness, we held our spot and steadied ourselves for the maelstrom that would be Beck's show. We knew it'd be ridiculous, and it certainly lived up to our expectations (and surpassed them). The video screens flanking the stage showed not the band but marionettes exactly aping their moves, dressed in the same outfits as them, holding little instruments and "singing" along with the music. Needless to say, the songs were great and the stage show had me giggling most of the time (including a video starring the puppets going around Bonnaroo — hit up YouTube for that — and the encore in which Beck came out in a bear suit and showed off his rapping skills).

The final show of the day was Radiohead. What can I say? They had eighty thousand people eating out of the palm of their hand. The quiet stuff elicited awed silence; the giant arena-rockers got the entire crowd shouting and dancing along; the new stuff was well-appreciated. Speaking of their new material, it sounds like the next full-length is going to be a bit more overtly poppy, with guitars continuing to take a leading role — apparently "bleepy bloopy" music, as a good friend of mine calls it, was just a phase. At any rate, the show was magnificent, top to bottom. That was worth the price of admission alone.

A couple of us were pretty tired after sitting and standing in that hot-ass field all day, so we only took in a bit of Dr. John's crazy gumbo-funk before trudging back to camp and promptly passing out, and actually sleeping in a bit on Sunday morning.

We made one last foray into Centeroo on midday Sunday to catch Be Your Own Pet (who reminded me of You Say Party! We Say Die!, which are alright for about seven minutes before they become tiresome) and also deadboy and the Elephantmen (no typo on the lowercase "d" — yup, they're that kind of band), who were also underwhelming.

After experiencing a few minutes' worth of The Streets and deciding they weren't really my cup of tea, a couple of us ambled over to Son Volt, who put on a solid show of Americana... sort of a more countrified version of John Mellencamp, and definitely music to put on while driving down the highway.

We then tried to get into Lewis Black's comedy set, but the lineup was huge so we decided to chill out until Sonic Youth's show. They were pretty awesome, playing some new, great stuff, but I honestly wasn't really feeling it that day... SY is the kind of band that I need to be well-rested and undisturbed in order to fully appreciate, but by that time on the last day of this four-day festival, I was pretty much fixated on the idea of a hot shower and a soft bed.

Getting out of the site proved to be a little easier than I'd thought it'd be — sure, it took an hour, but I was envisioning a much larger clusterfuck than that. Eventually we tumbled into a room in Chattanooga, after experiencing the ridiculousness of south-central Tennessee's fireworks superstores, some of which are open twenty-four hours a day. (Imagine it... some guy, at three in the morning, stumbling into Big Daddy's Fireworks... "Thank fuck you're open." We giggled at that idea.)

On the drive back, we kept an eye out for Jesus, and snapped a picture of him in all his thirty-foot glory in southern Ohio along the I-75. We stopped into a winery in the middle of Kentucky for an impromptu tasting — don't worry, I only had a few sips — and a lunch at Cracker Barrel which included turnip greens (they taste like a mix between spinach and garbage). After fighting our way through a ridiculous thunderstorm near Toledo we breathed a sigh of relief as we crossed the border back into Canada, and tumbled into Toronto at midnight after a 15-hour marathon of four-lane madness.

So, that's how I spent last weekend: in a field in Tennessee, watching amazing music being made, and spending more time in a tent than I ever had before. There are photos here, should you care to see them. But for the next little while, I think I'll just listen to music in the comfort of my own home, with running water and a soft (permanent) bed nearby.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sometimes, it's the little things.

I enjoy seeing illegally-parked expensive cars getting parking tickets.

Today on Bayview a Ferarri convertible was already festooned with a little yellow piece of paper, and while I walked past a black Mercedes parked in a no-parking zone (but with the 4-way flashers blinking), a parking attendant was furiously scribbling on his pad.

Yup. The little things.

That was one seriously long drive.

Have you ever driven fifteen straight hours, from Chattanooga to Toronto, all in one go?

I just did.

That's why the screen appears to be moving right now, even though it's firmly sitting on my desk.

A complete Bonnaroo recap will come shortly. However, to whet your appetite, let me give you these tiny tasty tidbits:
  • Beck's puppets
  • "Whuuut're shooooes foooorrrr?!"
  • Delicious, delicious breasts
Stay tuned. But for now, I'm going to go lay down and hope the ceiling doesn't look like it's moving towards me at 125 km/h.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Crisis averted.

My ticket for the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, which is starting in two short days (and for which I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon), was supposed to have arrived here on June 1.

"No problem," I thought. "I'm in Canada, and it always takes longer for stuff to get here from the US than it should. I'll wait a couple more days."

So I waited.

Then I waited some more.

Finally, on Sunday evening (the 11th, if you're keeping score at home), it dawned on me: "Hey, I don't think it's coming."

That took me to the Bonnaroo ticket-buying website, where a couple of clicks and a whole lot of reading later, I found that I'd typed the wrong address to which to deliver the ticket.

This was less than four days before we were to leave for Tennessee. Panicked (and if you know me, you'll know that I am very, very seldomly panicked), I sent off multiple emails to the Bonnaroo people, saying it hadn't come yet; I tried calling UPS at 1:30 late Sunday night, but I was kindly informed their offices don't open until 7:30.

At 7:29 on Monday morning, I got through to someone (I get the feeling I was the very first call that got through, as I spent exactly zero time on hold), and had them redirect the package to my correct home address. Later that day, I called to ask how that whole process was going, and the nice lady said it might get to my house on Wednesday.

The thought occurred to me: "What if I'm not home to receive it? Might as well just pick it up at their warehouse in the GTA." So I told her I would, and I remarked in an off-the-cuff kind of way while she was typing that "it's gonna be a hell of a drive over on the 401 at rush hour." She suggested I just get it shipped to work, so I said that'd be great. A giant sigh of relief was breathed.

At around noon today I called them to ask about the status of my package, and they kindly informed me that it had been delivered, and signed-for by a person whose name I didn't recognize as being a secretary at the school at which I work.

This was puzzling. "Who is this person? And why do they now have my $200 ticket to a music festival?!?"

I frantically checked everywhere around the school, asking if a UPS person had come — nobody had, they said — and generally acted like a crazy-person for about an hour. (Aside: how do perpetually nervous people live? I was one for no more than 60 minutes, and it wore me out.)

Finally, it dawned on me: one of my building's superintendents is named "Christine," which was really close to the name of the person who signed for my package. Maybe they'd written the name down wrong, and my ticket was in fact safe and sound at my building!

I called up my supers, and...

...lo and behold, my lovely UPS package was sitting on their kitchen table as we were speaking. I've lived here for a month and a half, but hadn't known my supers' last name (they're a 60's-ish couple from Newfoundland; their accent is fantastic)... but now I sure do.

In conclusion, a formerly-very-worried J is now looking at his shiny Bonnaroo ticket as he relaxes for the first time in about 40 hours.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Rest in peace, Grand Prankster.


Moe Drabowsky, 1935-2006

Assorted pranks pulled by the late pitcher:
  • giving someone the "hot-foot" (lighting their shoes on fire) — many victims, including then-Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn during the 1970 World Series
  • putting sneezing powder into the opponent's locker room air conditioning system
  • placing goldfish in the opposing team's water cooler
  • hiding snakes in teammates' lockers, shoes and bread-baskets at team reunions (namely, Brooks Robinson's)
  • ordering Chinese food from a bullpen phone
  • ...from a restaurant in Hong Kong
  • Moe's all-time favourite: using the phone in his bullpen to call the other bullpen to get one of the opposing team's pitchers to start warming up (even funnier, considering the opposing team's starting pitcher was cruising along nicely)
"Players seem to be more serious now. They don't have as much fun. You don't find the same kind of characters in the game today. Egos are a big factor."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Consumerism ahoy.

I was in a shopping mall today, which is a rare occurrence indeed. (In my defence, though, all I wanted to access was the Chapters in the southwest corner of Bayview Village; if I'd had my druthers, I'd have just parked outside Chapters and used its external entrance. Oh well.)

As I meandered through the stores, a thought occurred to me:

Eventually, someone is going to buy
all the shit in all the stores in that mall.

All those bracelets, all those shoes, all those $45 martini glasses, all those shirts that I look at and wonder, "Who the fuck would ever give anyone money in exchange for that?"

Eventually, somebody.

And when all that stuff is gone, there'll be a whole new batch of stuff to take its place. When that stuff is gone, there'll be a whole new... and so on, and so on.

This raises some questions.
  1. Who needs all this stuff? People don't seem to be hurting for stuff these days, especially in the bourgeois neighbourhood in which Bayview Village is located.
  2. What do people do with all their old stuff? Does it just keep accumulating in their closets? I suppose this is good business for people who sell those closet-organizer things. (You can probably buy those at Bayview Village, too.)
  3. What happens to the stuff that nobody ends up buying? You can't tell me that stores eventually sell every single thing they put on the shelves. Does it keep collecting dust, or does it go somewhere else?
  4. There are a lot of very-expensive-looking women's clothing stores at Bayview Village. Okay, this is a comment and not a question, but it did catch my attention.
  5. Who in their right mind would ever buy the "Angels and Airwaves" album based on the first single? Does that guy's voice (and especially his ullllltraaa-preeeeeciiiiise diiiiiiction) not drive you up the wall? (This one was inspired by a commercial I just saw on TV, but it's worth bringing up. The aforementioned "guy" was in Blink-182, if memory serves.)
In conclusion, I hate shopping malls, but it doesn't look like they're going away anytime soon.

In other news, in addition to the flu kicking my ass on Friday and Saturday, that was on top of strep throat, which (to my recollection) started on Wednesday evening and got really bad today. I'm a medical basket-case these days, but don't you worry, I got me some pills. All will be good.

Knuckleballers can be so prescient.

From Jim Bouton's website, dated October 14, 2002 (remember, the "Coalition of the Willing" invaded Iraq in March '03):

Q: Do you think President Bush is making the right decision in taking up a war with Iraq?
Danny Diaz - Bronx, New York

A: No. For the simple reason that we lack the cross-cultural expertise — wide fluency in middle eastern languages would be a minimum — to manage the aftermath of such a war. Of course if we had that expertise, we might not have to fight in the first place. Our weapons scientists are way ahead of our social scientists. We are cowboys with lasers. Monkeys at the controls of a rocket ship.

The "cowboys with lasers" comment struck me as particularly apt, given Dubya's odd fascination with the Southern Drawl. (Ever notice that brother Jeb doesn't speak with one? Curious, that.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Having the flu is not a lot of fun.

Main Entry: in·flu·en·za
Pronunciation: "in-(")fl├╝-'en-z&
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian, literally, influence, from Medieval Latin influentia; from the belief that epidemics were due to the influence of the stars [Wow! Neat. -ed.]
1 : an acute highly contagious disease caused by any of several single-stranded RNA viruses (family Orthomyxoviridae) and characterized by sudden onset, fever, prostration, severe aches and pains, and progressive inflammation of the respiratory mucous membrane

I didn't feel so hot at work yesterday — I was tired, I hurt all over, and my head was throbbing. "Here's what I'll do," I thought. "I'll go home, chill out on the couch for a couple of hours, pop a couple of Tylenols, and I'll be at that Jays/Tigers game at the Dome tonight, for sure."

It didn't exactly work out that way.

I took a nap, but when I woke up at around 5:30, I was drenched in sweat and felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I reasoned, "If I leave here at 6, I can make it down there, buy a cheap ticket, and soak in the game whilst not moving a muscle."

But then the geometry of the SkyDome (I refuse to call it by its new, corporate name, and no, I don't care if he owns the team) occurred to me: cheap tickets are in the 500 level. Have you ever walked up those ramps to the 500 level? Those are an endurance test even if you're healthy, which I wasn't. So, I was forced to watch the game on TV (as the post below suggests, the eighth inning was a train-wreck).

...which means that today, instead of going to Kingston for the wedding of two friends of mine, I'm watching the second game of the series right now. It's 5-2 in the 8th for the Tigers, but it was 5-2 in the 8th for the Tigers last night, and that didn't turn out so hot.

I just hope I'm in top shape by Wednesday for the trip to Bonnaroo. According to the Inter-Web Net, I should be; the worst symptoms are over in four days, which would be Monday. In the meantime, I'll stay horizontal, hit up the chicken soup (luckily I had some already), and drink lots of fluids. Wish me luck.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Jesus Christ.

The Tigers were up 5-2 going into the bottom of the 8th against the Jays, who were looking like they were going to just mail the rest of this one in. So the Tigers bring in the head-case Fernando Rodney, and he serves up a solo homer and a couple of base hits. Then they bring in Todd Jones — Jonesy may be a great guy, but your closer should not have an ERA over 5 — and it's just a giant fucking mess from there on in. By the time they bring in Bobby Seay, who has just as I type this has allowed the SEVENTH run of the inning to make it 9-5, and the Tiger bullpen fucking disgusts me; Bonderman was doing just fine, maybe a little over 100 pitches, but he was nasty tonight to get out of no-out jams by striking out a couple and inducing a grounder. Zumaya came in and was popping the mitt with 3-digit readings on the radar gun; sure, he walked a couple, but he was doing just fine and could've gone another. But no, they had to bring in Rodney, and the Toronto hit-parade just keeps on coming (it's now 10-5, and I'm going to shut it off and go to bed before I vomit in rage).

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bonnaroooooooooo.

One of the benefits of being a supply teacher is that you can book off days at your leisure. Of course, you don't get paid for the days you don't work, but that schedule-flexibility is something that full-time teachers can only dream of.

(It really is incredibly regimented, when you think about it. Your entire career is not only governed by the calendar, right down to the day, but also by the clock, right down to the second. I can tell you exactly what I'll be doing on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 11:42 am: walking down a hallway full of teenagers en route to the Science Office to pick up money to go buy lunch.)

As such, the past two years — being a graduate student and now a supply teacher — have been something of a dream in those regards. If I don't want to work a day, I don't... and if I want to take Wednesday the 14th through Monday the 19th and go to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee with a bunch of crazy Queen's grads, I can.

I hate camping, but I'll be bunking-down in a sleeping bag in a tent in a campground with tens of thousands of other music fans. Why, you ask? Check out the god damn lineup and tell me you didn't just have five simultaneous alt-rock-induced orgasms.

I'm jazzed for this festival. Really jazzed. It's going to be amazing, I just know it. One of the festivalgoers, a good friend of mine, really really REALLY needs a vacation, and has made it her goal in life to see Beck perform his quirky brand of alt-folk-electronic-punk-hip-hop-rock in person. Well, ECB, from 5:30 to 7 pm on Saturday, June 17, I will stand beside you as we both drink in Mr. Hansen's greatness, and you can then die a happy woman.

The big names on this thing are great, but I have a feeling some of the lesser-known bands are gonna rock my sox as well, like dios (malos). I really dig their latest long-player, and I have a feeling it's going to be a good, rootsy, organic type of show. Seu Jorge should provide some Brazilian swoonery — you know him, of course, as the gentleman who popped up in A Life Aquatic doing solo acoustic guitar covers of David Bowie songs in Portuguese. And Bill Frisell has been a favourite of my friend Mike for quite some time; Mike has introduced me, over the years, to instrumental music, jazz and the Fugazi/Tortoise-ish genre of alt-rock, whatever you'd like to call that, so I'll definitely have to see what this fellow is all about.

Plus, Lewis Black is going to be there. Lewis Black! I should bring a tie to wear just so I can stand in the crowd and loosen it and act enraged in tandem with the vaunted comedian.

So, in conclusion, I will return to Toronto on the evening of June 19th very likely sunburnt, tired as hell, and sore from driving 3000 km in a few short days... but with a head (and hopefully) camera full of memories which will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Secret Conversations of Teachers.

Setting: the Science Department Office at the school at which I usually teach.

It's about 9:30 in the morning, and the windows are slightly open, allowing the sounds of a Phys Ed class outside, which is vigorously playing some sort of team sport, to trickle in.

Me: "Man, it sounds like they're killing each other out there."
Colleague, calmly: "We can only hope, Jason."

We're good people, I swear.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Activist Presidents.

Something struck me as particularly odd today, when the Monkey-in-Chief addressed a horde of supporters on the topic of same-sex marriage (because, really, why would he ever get up in front of a crowd that doesn't applaud his every stupid fucking sentence, anyway? That could hurt the fragile little boy-president's feelings):

This national question requires a national solution. And on an issue of such profound importance, that solution should come not from the courts but from the people of the United States.

First off, people in the U.S. elect their judges. If you've ever driven around any American city around the time when judicial elections occur — "Vote Mary Schmuck for 44th District Court Judge" — you'll see signs covering pretty much every square centimetre of every lamppost, fencepost and compost. Therefore, the judicial branch of government largely reflects the will of the people, by definition.

Yet, the M-i-C continues to invoke the "activist judges" boogeyman to scare people into thinking that, for some odd reason, an "activist president" is somehow a better choice.

Another thing he talks about is the "sanctity of marriage." To me, two people who have been in a stable, loving relationship for 20 years who are looking to have that officially recognized as a union-for-life should be able to do so; if it walks like a marriage, and it quacks like a marriage, then it's a marriage.

If you think marriage is so vital to the stability of a society, why not ban divorces? I'd think that people who say "I do" a half-dozen times are more of an affront to the "sanctity of marriage," whatever you choose that to mean, than two dudes or two dames exchanging rings.

Of course, because Steve Harper didn't like the way the Parliamentary vote went on same-sex marriage a few short months ago, he's all too gung-ho to reopen the debate. WE SETTLED THAT ALREADY. DON'T BE SUCH A SORE LOSER.

Anyway, the point of all this ranting and raving is this:

If you don't approve of same-sex marriage, don't marry someone the same gender as you.

It's as simple as that.

Of course, with the 2006 midterm elections staring Republicans in the face, they need something to whip up their Bible-thumping constituency into a frenzy. Hey, it worked in 2004.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A heads-up.

The documentary The Corporation was partially-funded by TVOntario. The version that appeared in theatres was pretty long (two hours and 25 minutes), but even at that gargantuan length, there were big hunks that were cut out.

Because TVO footed part of the bill, they occasionally show it in three, one-hour parts — and they're doing it again this June 7th, 14th and 21st, from 10-11 pm. Set your VCRs (if you still have one of those stone-age devices; I do, for just such an occasion). It should be some gooooooooooood anti-corporate television.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Subtlety? Don't even try it.

The following message is a public service announcement, directed towards women.



The scene:
A guy and a girl are walking down a sidewalk carrying ice cream cones. They are on their second coffee-date. Things have been going very well; the conversation has been lively, and she has been sending him subtle hints that she likes him.


Her: You know, I've been having a really nice time with you lately.

Him: Oh yeah? Well, I've been having a really nice time, too.

Her, with a sly smile: So... um... did you know that both of my housemates are gone this weekend?

Him, completely earnestly: That's cool. Will they be back soon? You must be lonely. I hope they come back soon.

Her, confused: Uh... I'm feeling a little tired. I'd like to lay down on my bed, but my bed's so big. Would you like to lay down on my bed with me?

Him, expressing concern: Oh! I read an article in Mattress Weekly saying you should really not have a bed that's too big for you.

Her, increasingly flustered: Um... riiiiight... that's... good. Listen, I've been on this really safe kind of birth control pills for the past year. My doctor says they're the best kind on the market—

Him, perking up: Do you mean "Ovu-B-Gone"? I hear those taste like orange Tic-Tacs. Those must be tasty!

Her, furious: Listen, you dope. I like you. Let's have us some sex.

Him, befuddled: ...huh? What do you mean?



Remember, ladies, guys do not pick up on subtlety. At all. Never. And even when you come right out and say exactly what you mean, we're so programmed to read between the lines with you people, we'll probably completely miss that meaning, too. The moral of the story, of course, is that men and women will never truly understand what the other is saying.

(The above scenario, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, did not feature me as the guy; a friend of mine was the girl, though. So I had to set her straight and remind her to speak very slowly, use small words, and say exactly what you mean, and don't dance around the point with subtlety and nuance and double-entendres, because we won't ever pick up on those things.)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Deliciously fallacious.

Delhi, Ontario is a small town in the middle of a region which has, for over a century, grown tobacco as its main cash crop. Tobacco farming has pumped countless millions of dollars into the area, and was even the subject of a Stompin' Tom song, "Tillsonburg." ("My back still hurts when I hear that word," Mr. Connors opined, as he recalled the arduous task of bending over and picking the leaves by hand.)

Just to show you how fully-integrated tobacco farming is into the region, consider this: high schools in Elgin County have always started classes one week after Labour Day. This is because the end of August and the first week of September are prime tobacco-harvesting season, providing work for many a teenager (including my buddy Dan who, because we were in Lambton County and school started the day after Labour Day, would always miss the first few days of class).

However, as of yesterday it's quite illegal to smoke Elgin County tobacco in a lot more places in Ontario than before. Being a non-smoker myself, I really don't mind; it doesn't impinge on my rights one bit. However, as mentioned in the London Free Press today, some residents of Delhi, who have fallen on hard times as people continue quitting smoking, aren't too happy. And, because the Free Press is a Sun publication (unfortunately; they were Ontario's last independent paper of any importance before getting bought-out in the '90s), I'll respond to these quotes in the same snarky, Toronto Sun-style one-liner style you'd see if you were ever unfortunate enough to have picked up that shit-rag.

"It's communism," said Jerry from the aforementioned town. "Our fathers fought against communism and now the government is here trying to take away our freedom. I say, 'Get rid of the government'."
The last time I checked, Jerry, our fathers fought against Nazis alongside "Uncle Joe's" red Soviet commies

Jean Brown offered this opinion: "They try to make you feel guilty because you smoke, but it is not my fault. It is not fair, it is just not fair."
It's not your fault that you (a.) started smoking, and (b.) continue to choose to smoke? Of course it isn't, blame the rat-finks at Queen's Park

A local club, German Hall, is run by a fellow named Joe Csoff, who observed, "They say they are doing it for health reasons. But it is not about health, it is about votes. If they are going to stop smoking, why doesn't the government stop drinking and everything else that is toxic? Why pick on one?"
Because if you knock back a Manhattan, you don't damage the livers of everyone lucky enough to breathe the same air you do

It's unfortunate that Delhi, and that whole region, is experiencing economic hardships. But really, what else do you expect? When they found out that DDT was an environmental wrecking-ball, were families of workers at the factories that produced that chemical similarly up-in-arms? "DDT has built this town, and now they say it lingers in the environment for decades and accumulates in animal tissues and is causing widespread destruction in natural habitats. Okay, so it's a little hazardous, but so are cheeseburgers. Why don't these communists get rid of cheeseburgers too?"