Sunday, December 27, 2009

A few choice snippets.

The whole article is here, but this could give you a bit of an idea about why I couldn't get out of Toronto today, to Boston, en route to Iceland:

"It's absolute bedlam in here. And in true Canadian fashion, no one is coming and telling you what's going on, whose doing what, what your expectations are. We're going to go home and drive. We'll take our chances that way."

. . .

"It's not a good scene here. We've moved forward eight feet in 45 minutes. The line is winding around - it's almost the length of the terminal."

. . .

"U.S. customs should take a more reasonable approach to security."

. . .

It seems to be a great deal of overkill, Allan Bowditch said, adding he hasn't seen anything like it in 40 years of flying. "I think everybody appreciates there needs to be extra security, but not to the point where you grind the whole system to paralysis."

. . .

Trish Kale, a spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said Sunday that there were significant delays, mostly for passengers flying to the U.S.

"It would help if passengers were familiar with the new regulations," she said, referring to passengers who are allowed to bring only one carry-on baggage instead of the previous two bags. "We have some delays because passengers come to the airport and they don't know that so then they're shuffling things around."
[I really doubt "shuffling things around" trumps "everyone gets searched twice," "everyone's carry-ons get hand-searched," and "everyone gets frisked." Those seem to be a little more onerous and bedlam-inducing than "shuffling." —jtl]

. . .

Kale said the GTAA was not responsible for flight cancellations, and would not say if the cancellations were due to the newly enforced security measures.
[Of course she wouldn't say. Why would she? Someone or something is clearly to blame here; maybe she thought it was so clear, she wouldn't bother to state the obvious. —jtl]

. . .

Tyler, who was waiting in the customs line at the airport said Air Canada officials announced that 20 flights had been cancelled, although no reason had been given. Flights leaving for Houston, Pittsburg, Newark, New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston and Nashville amongst others has been cancelled.

She said officials told passengers from the cancelled flights to go home and rebook their flights online. [This is correct; we were given 1-800 numbers to call, and I can now rhyme-off American Airlines' number like my own.]

Air Canada could not be reached for comment.

. . .

So, there you have it: an unprecedented travel clusterfuck at Pearson cock-blocks my trip to the land of Björk and putrefied shark meat.


You're gonna love this.

"Hey J," you ask, "It's almost 6 pm on the 27th. Shouldn't you be on your way to Reykjavik?"

Yes, I should.

But, I'm not. And here's why.

On the day of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, some asshole over Detroit tried to turn himself into a Roman Candle. This means tons of flights into the US in the subsequent days — including mine into Boston, which went on to Reykjavik — got delayed because of the extra pat-downs, frisking, and what I can only imagine (hope?) are incredibly invasive cavity-searches.

I got to Pearson Airport here in Our Home on Native Land, and the first thing to greet me (other than gigantic lineups) was a sign saying my flight to Boston was cancelled.

I waited in a line for an hour, only to be told that I was in the wrong line.

I waited in another line for over an hour, only to be told that the next available flight out of Toronto to Boston would be TUESDAY. That means I would get to Reykjavik on WEDNESDAY, so I could leave on Friday and return Saturday.

Brilliant Idea Alert: I'll man-up, drive to Boston myself, and fly out of there tomorrow to Reykjavik. All I have to do is call up Icelandair and see if it's possible to flip to tomorrow's flight.

Brilliant Idea Possibly Shot Down: Icelandair's North American phone hours are, get this, 9-5 on Monday-Friday, and on Sundays you can only call from 9 to 11 in the morning.


If you run an airline that only has flights on, say, Tuesdays, I can see how you could have such hours. Or, maybe if you only carry passengers named Matilda, or Rutger, or perchance Aftab. But hey, jerkwads, you run those things every day, all over the world, and we all pay a pretty penny for them, too. The least you thumbdicks could do is put Old Aunt Hagrid on the phones on a Sunday afternoon — when all hell is breaking loose on our side of the pond, too — to make sure people can get where THEY PAID TOP DOLLAR TO GO.

So, now I'm not sure what to do. I called up Expedia, and they said to call the airlines. I called American, who cancelled my first flight to commence the clusterfuck, and the person on the other end was so awful, I actually wrote "TITS ON A BULL" under the "American Airlines" section of my game-plan for today. I called up Icelandair, and you know how that turned out.

There is actually a significant chance that I will not be able to get to Reykjavik.

Rage level... rising.

ECB, want to have an extra New Year's guest in Chicago?

* * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATE: As far as I can tell, my trip is completely kaput. I'm going to try to get refunds from Expedia and/or the airlines involved.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Airport security.

Let's recap, shall we?

9/11: All hell breaks loose, of course.
Result: All planes are grounded for a few days, and a generalized assault on civil liberties begins.

Later that year: Some nutjob named Richard Reid attempts to light his shoes on fire.
Result: Now you have to take your shoes off and put them through the scanner when you try to get on a flying machine.

August '06: Someone was going to blow up a plane using liquid smuggled on-board.
Result: No carry-on liquids or gels over 100 mL, and even those you have to put in a separate Ziploc bag. This blogger suspects a conspiracy hatched by the US government, the Ziploc Corporation of America and, of course, the Illuminati.

Yesterday: Allegedly, some moron from Nigeria tried to light a powder on fire as his plane was getting readly to land in Detroit.
Result: Nobody's really sure how this one is going to turn out but, in the meantime, anyone boarding any flight going from Canada to the US is going to be searched. Twice. Reports today suggest that flights to the US could be delayed up to 2 hours while all this extra screening is going on, which is really handy if you're flying to (or through) the US, which I am, tomorrow, on what is already the busiest travel day of Pearson Airport's year. Reports also suggest that nobody will be allowed to leave their seat when the plane is less than one hour away from landing, lest they want to pull this sort of chicainery as the plane is landing (as if that's any better than any other part of a flight).

Part of the problem is that, aside from the whole liquids/gels thing, all of this stuff is reactionary rather than, well, "actionary." Do you honestly think that, today, someone is going to try to hijack a plane with a box cutter, smuggle something in their shoes, or haul a two-litre bottle of liquid explosives in their carry-on? (The last and latest one is too vague to nail to the wall, which is why there's just a generalized increase in confusion about what to do.)

Three things strike me as particularly vexing.

1. Only Israel, a country whose enemies routinely talk about wiping off the map, has the level of airport security that we have. Also, Israel is pretty crazy (and possibly not-entirely-in-the-right itself when it comes to international relations, I'm just sayin', is all).

2. Enough, al Qaeda. You don't like us. We get it. Let us live our heathen lives and burn for an eternity in hell while you nail virgin poontang forever in heaven, or something like that. (Personally, I like a woman with a little experience in the sack.)

3. Why does this shit have to happen the day before I get on one of these pressurized flying tubes, anyway? Seriously, asshole, it's the holidays — chill out now and bomb something in February or April or maybe November Sweeps, if you're feeling plucky. In the meantime, pass the Yule Log, go get some Boxing Day deals, and stop trying to ruin my impending vacation.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A few Christmas-shopping observations.

That's right, bitchayz — I'm done like dinnah. All that's left is the wrapping (and the rapping).

Here are some handy pointers I have gleaned from this year's Mad Season:
  • Bayview Village is a good place to shop if you're a rich old lady who likes buying expensive clothes and purses.
  • Bayview Village is a bad place to shop if you require the services of a parking space.
  • Bayview Village is a bad place to shop if you like to actually exit the parking lot.
  • Bayview Village is a bad place to shop.
  • There are some good deals on at Mark's Work Wearhouse, especially if you have a dad that wears a lot of flannel.
  • Hey, did you know that a few of the kids are wearing flannel again? It feels like Seattle, 1989 around here.
  • Ikea in North York is full of Asians.
  • . . .
  • I'm not racist, really I'm not. I'm just observing.
  • . . .
  • C'mon now, don't say that. That's ridiculous.
  • . . .
  • Oh yeah? Well, you can just go fly a kite, you racist sack of...
  • . . .
  • I did not say that about Michelle Obama!
Anyway, the moral of the story is that Christmastime is the most magical time of the year, or some shit like that. I saw Clark W. Griswold rant last night on the CBC, thus my holiday season is complete; the rest is just icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A steaming, barren rock in the North Atlantic.

Q: What better place is there to spend New Year's than Reykjavík?

A: Just about everywhere.

But hey, I've never been there before, and you only live once, right? Shit, a few years ago I spent New Year's in Thunder Bay, and that's a hell of a lot colder than either Toronto or Reykjavík.

When the calendar flips over to 2010, I'll be sippin' the Brennivín with such notable Icelanders as:

Renowned musician/actor/weirdo Björk!

Hazy-post-rock superstars Sigur Rós!

Ultra-strongman Magnús Ver Magnússon!

Olympic bronze medal-winning pole-vaulter Vala Flosadóttir!

Random smokin'-hot pale-eyed and pale-haired Nordic beauties! And,

The statue of Leif Ericson!

Yeah, it's gonna be a great time. And yeah, it took me forever to figure out how to put all the squiggly and dotty bits on all those letters. Fuck I hate Iceland.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This is really, really stupid.

But, it's really really funny.

It'll make you dumber, but I guess that's kind-of the point. Start at the start for maximum stupidity.

(Tip o' the hat: Eve)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bands That Suck #1.

Whilst driving home from my late-ass union meeting today, CBC had on an interview which wasn't particularly interesting and Q107 was playing a song by Boston (sorry, ECB, all their songs sounded pretty much the same), so I flipped over to CFNY/The Edge, and was inspired to create a feature on this here blog-o-ma-thing over here.

Bands That Suck #1:

AFI (which stands for "A Fire Inside," proving that while they do indeed suck, they are at least efficient) has been around since 1991, proving that you can indeed teach an old dog new ways to suck. Witness this early track from 1996 when they were cheeky and punky:

Frankly, I was stunned when I heard this song — it's not a song I would necessarily choose to listen to, but, holy crap is it different from what they do today.

The song I heard tonight, "Medicate," is pretty representative of what's wrong with mainstream alt-rock these days. Listen at your own risk.

This isn't the official video for the song, but you get the point. Consider this lyric-snippet:

Can you describe what it's like?
I feel nothing
Can you feel this?
Does it sting?
I feel nothing at all
I feel nothing at all
I feel nothing at all
(Can you tell me how it feels?)
I feel nothing at all
(As we pretend this is real)
I feel nothing

Who wrote this crap? A 15-year-old girl who wears black nailpolish, listens to the Smiths, and occasionally cuts herself? It's not like these guys are woe-is-me angsty teens — their lead singer is 34!

In conclusion, we're all doomed, and only Rik Emmett's impossibly tight pants can save us.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

See if this makes any sense to you.

Ah, plane ticket prices: you make no sense. Check this shizz out.

I might be going to Iceland over the Xmas holidays — not the sunniest of destinations to be sure, but I've heard Reykjavik is a pretty cool place (and I'll be meeting up with the inimitable Matt, who's in Moscow these days). Now, there are no direct flights from Toronto to Reykjavik these days; you have to go through Boston, which isn't too crazy (it's not like you have to connect through, say, Miami or anything).

Going out is no big deal — sure, there's a red-eye on the way there, but you get that day back — but coming back, the flight comes into Boston at about 6pm and, oddly, there aren't any more flights back to Toronto that day. I can think of worse places to spend a night than Boston (Flint, Michigan being one of them; I may be doing that in March).

And now, the prices.

Toronto-Boston-Reykjavik out,
Reykjavik-Boston-Toronto back: $1388

Toronto-Boston-Reykjavik out,
Reykjavik-Boston back: $1726

One less flight, $338 more. What the hell is going on here? Could someone please explain this to me? Is Salvador Dali in charge of this or something?

Generalized malaise.


I'm falling into a shitty pattern lately.

I get up and go to work. I get there shortly after eight in the morning. A nine-hour-long tornado hits me, I come to my senses around 5:30, and I schlep myself home. Sometimes I have a meeting or other assorted work-based engagement, so it could be later. I groggily make dinner, waste a few hours, then go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat five times a week, for 40-ish weeks.

There's not a whole lot I can do about my workday — it's my job, I love it, and I'm not looking to change it — but outside that, I can't help but feel a little dazed and lost. I live in the Centre Of The Universe, so there's a lot of stuff to do, bands to see, booze to drink, and good times to be had. But, as long as your plans don't include showing up at a random bar and getting sloshed solo (which is a little sad if you're most people, me included), you need a runnin'-crew.

Current status of the J-man's Runnin'-Crew (names have been changed to minor Seinfeld characters to protect the lame):
  • Bob Sacamano: quasi-married, with 2-year-old
  • Franklin Delano Romanowski: gone to Chicago for the next little while
  • Lomez: a good kid, but in Ottawa every other weekend
  • Art Vandelay: out in the sticks, with no car
  • H.E. Pennypacker: out in the further-out sticks, but with a crappy car
Add to this the fact that I'm getting semi-dicked-around by a broad (and not in a good way), and presto, there's your malaise.

Should I start doing coke or something? I'm scared to death of it, but it seems to make people pretty jubilant. Maybe I'll dissolve it in battery acid and inject it straight into my naughty-bits, just for fun. Just an idea.

Ok, so, bye for now.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Kirk Cameron gets his ass kicked.

Verbally, I mean — and not to his face or anything, but still sweet enough.

Tip o' the hat: confirmed Theist, possible quasi-Christian, newly-minted-Muscovite, Matt Hubert.

Also: one of my all-time favourite local indie rock artists, Mandy Mintz, and her new-ish collaboration, Mandeverest, are going to be playing a show at the Silver Dollar (Spadina just north of College) on Saturday night. I'll be there, and I hope you'll be there too, whoever you may be, unless you're that sentient blob that haunts my dreams, in which case you can just go to that dickish Richmond Street club called Circa, whoops, I think the owners are going bankrupt, oh shucks, I guess d-bags have to find somewhere else to slip roofies into drinks.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

For a funky good time, press play.

Nevermind they're as white as I am (mostly) — these cats can lay it down.

"Breakin' The Chains Of Love" by Fitz and the Tantrums. Expect to hear this at midnight at the next Everyone's a DJ, on December 12 (the second anniversary show).