Monday, December 31, 2007

Hard at Work, Furtively

Good evening! And an upcoming Happy New Year to all.

(It's a lot easier to greet people with "Happy New Year" than with "Merry Christmas" because you can be pretty sure that everybody celebrates the New Year. Don't let the concept of Chinese New Year throw you!)

When I said in my previous entry that I might have two or three posts left in me, I suppose in retrospect that I exaggerated a bit.

Don't think I've forgotten you, though! When I haven't been scouting graduate schools -- or lying around playing video games, because I am what I am -- I've actually spent the days since Christmas working surreptitiously on a nice surprise for you guys.

It's not quite done yet, but it's coming -- so watch for that! It won't be done this year, since this year has about three and a half hours left in it, but it'll be along soon enough.

You'll know it when you see it! Trust me!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Almost Forgot to Mention

As you're well aware, the festive season we find ourselves in is busy for everybody involved -- and I've been so preoccupied with other various things that I nearly forgot to once again plug myself shamelessly.

When I say "Uptown", you say "Mag"!


Well, that's a bit better. We're getting there.

Stand strong, true believers! I'm sure I've got two or three posts left in me yet before the year is done, so feel free to meander back from time to time when you have a free moment.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One Door Opens, Another Shuts

So the emptied United Army Surplus building -- which you'll recall I'd written about previously -- has been bought by the University of Winnipeg with the intention of converting it into bookstore space. And other miscellaneous retail space, if they can squeeze it in.

Good! That's definite progress, and I'm happy to read this news.

Uptown readers will remember that I'd hoped the University would buy up the A&B Sound building. The old United Army Surplus store may not be the distinctively tricoloured, outlandishly large, prominently vacant downtown building that I'd specifically thought of -- but you have to admit, I was damn close on this one!

The University of Winnipeg gets more space (and oh boy have they been snapping up whatever they can find lately), and our downtown becomes the slightest bit less empty. I can dig it! Unfortunately, the tradeoff is that we'll lose that hilariously anachronistic "WARNING" sign atop the building; such are the sacrifices made in the name of progress.

God, I love that sign.

I wonder -- who would I contact at the University of Winnipeg about buying those charming handpainted signs on east wall of the building? Those would be kind of nice to have, as a quaint sort of local novelty item. How often do you see people handpainting huge signs anymore? I mean, really now!

In the meantime, another longstanding Winnipeg institution hangs in the balance; Pollock Hardware is on the bubble, and unless its nearby supporters come up with a plan pronto the place will be liquidated and quietly boarded up. Which is nothing new for buildings on Main Street, granted, but isn't exactly the best option available -- and I can guarantee with reasonable certainty that the University of Winnipeg probably wouldn't buy this one up, considering its comparative location.

(Most city powerbrokers are quite happy to pretend that the entirety of Main Street vanishes just north of the Museum. It's more palatable that way.)

Man, bad year for local business mainstays! The old Canadian Tire at Isabel and Notre Dame was closed up back in April, Surplus went belly-up in the summer, and now Pollock Hardware is singing its swan song; would it be giving our fine Mayor too much credit to assume this is part of his grand plan to keep stores from selling spray paint to minors? He's very serious about it, you know! You get 'em, Sam!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Don't Give a Hoot About Eyewear

I operate on the assumption, most of the time, that the average passerby in our fair city is not necessarily as internet savvy as you or I. This seems a reasonable assumption to make -- and when somebody, for example, chooses 'OMG' as the name of their company, I usually take it as a given that they probably didn't consider the online connotations of their choice. (On the other end of the spectrum are folks like All Your Base Computers, who clearly know their audience very well.)

But then there are times when I'm genuinely unsure about this assumption. Because sometimes a man just runs into something, stares at it for a few seconds, and announces aloud to himself that these people can't not know what they're doing.

This is one of those times.

Osborne Village has a reputation as being a particularly hip and with-it area of town, as one of the places to be to stay on top of trends and cultural movements. In the heart of Osborne Village lies this spectacles store, a store that many denizens of our fair city pass by countless times without a second thought -- but as late they've had a message on their sign that makes me stop and ponder it every time I go past.

What, you may ask yourself, am I going on about this time? Let's have a closer look:

"O RLY".

"O RLY"?

I get that it combines with the above line to form "naturally" -- er, sort of -- but to what end? Did "NATURALLY" not fit on the board when they tried it? Are they trying to suggest a link between poor eyesight and poor spelling? Is this genuinely a reference to the internet meme, and I'm supposed to mentally link the store's products to the superior eyesight normally reserved for owls? Who decided to put this up onto the sign, and why?






There are a lot of mysteries around here.

Be sure to tune in next time, when somebody writes "STFU NOOB" on the Convention Centre sign and my brain makes a quiet sizzling noise!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wakka Wakka Wakka Wakka

Well! That was a sizeable chunk of inactivity. Hello again, everybody!

As you could probably imagine from recent posts (and from the subsequent lack of recent posts), I've been pretty tired and burnt out -- so this past week I finally bit the bullet and quit my poorly paid, dehumanizing temp job. It was a long time coming, and it was brought on by a variety of reasons, so I'm not sad to see it go. (Plus they were going to make me work Christmas Eve. Nice try, buddies! I've been down that road before, and several times at that!)

I mean, yes, money is never in terribly ample supply for me -- but I figured, what the hell. I was obviously getting nowhere near any ladders of promotion or windows of opportunity, I've bankrolled just enough to see me through the Christmas season, and I can find something else once the new year hits and I've decided what I'm doing with my education.

Besides all that, I can safely say that my financial security is about to get a whole lot better -- because I am just about to win $25,000!

Yes, that's right! It's Pac-Man! In convenient scratch-ticket format!

We're all familiar with Pac-Man; it's a simple game, and it's an easy game. Surely the scratch ticket version will be equally effortless!

I've even got audio tutorials and accompanying music to see me through!

Curtis Hoard - Pac-Man (Conquer the Video Craze, 1982)

Kid Koala - Fender Bender (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, 2000)
[buy | site | myspace]

As you can see, I can't lose! Let the heavens sing my name -- my fame and fortune await! So watch carefully, folks; with just a few flicks of a coin, my present and future financial well-being is





what is this shit i can't even have my two dollars back













Okay. I've got it. I am a rational man, and I have thought about it rationally, so I understand what has just happened here.

The convenience store clerk scammed me somehow and stole my winning ticket.

This is the only reasonable explanation. It happens all the time, I heard it on the news. Can't trust any of them, I swear.

I have once again learned a valuable seasonal lesson, and that lesson is to HATE EVERYTHING AND EVERYBODY OH GOD SO ANGRY



Ahem. Anyway!

Since I've rid myself of my unreasonable day job, I'll be able to work on clearing up the extensive backlog of posts I've been meaning to write here; I'll also be able to dive headfirst into the whole graduate school dance, try and track down a few former professors, and take the rapidly growing puppy on walks she quite obviously needs.

I'm counting this as my Christmas vacation time, folks! Expect to see a lot of me!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Dam Bursts

Good lord, it's finally happened. I've hit the point where I'm actually, legitimately considering the idea of applying for graduate school.

GRADUATE SCHOOL. What the hell.

Now, of course I can't afford graduate school; I could barely afford the first degree I got, and that's even taking into account that I got it from the threadbare bargain store of education that is the University of Manitoba. But my employment history to date has been such a mortifying chain of underachievements and disappoinments that something has to be done, even if it means throwing good money after bad and chasing a second piece of paper even after the first got me nowhere.

Consider this: you know those applications that you have to send to universities just to even be considered for admission? It costs minimum fifty bucks a pop just to file the application. (Yes, really. And that's lowballing it! For example, the Universities of British Columbia and Saskatchewan ask $90; Queen's, and the University of Regina, ask $85; the University of Alberta says 'screw it' and demands the full $100.) And each application must be accompanied by at least one official transcript; these transcripts, despite being mere sheets of paper with my own numbers on them, will cost me ten dollars each. (Yes, really.)

So if I apply to four or five schools, hoping reasonably that I might get into at least one of them -- I will actually be spending more money than I make in a week. And I work full-time! At a dollar fifty above the current minimum wage, no less!

Such is the whimsy and merriment that I have to look forward to, if somebody doesn't smarten me up and talk me out of it first.

Bloody graduate school, I swear. Rasserfrackin' mumble grumble why I oughtta.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I've Been Better

First things first -- it's that time again!

When I say "Uptown", you say "Mag"!


Okay, we'll work on that later.

You can read my article by picking up a copy of this week's issue -- available now! -- or peruse the electronic version at your leisure. What am I up to this week? Well, not to spoil the column too much for you, but those of you more familiar with my oeuvre have heard me ask this before:

Why is this building still empty?

My previous posts on the subject are now tagged, for her pleasure for your convenience.

Uptown and ugly buildings aside, what's new with me? I haven't had the chance to post everything I've been wanting to, so obviously I've been sidetracked. By what? Why, by work stress and by my own failing personal health, that's what!

To wit, and to recap -- I last posted here on Tuesday. Wednesday I woke up feeling a bit sick, but shrugged it off and went in to work; midday at work I was given an hour's notice to clear everything off my desk, then immediately moved to another department. As this was the third department I'd been assigned to in the past calendar week, you can imagine how I felt about that. (I may have taken this better if I hadn't been feeling increasingly unwell.) And the work day starts an hour earlier for this job, which is probably their way of telling me that they don't actually like me.

Speaking of which: in talking to another employee (an actual employee, one that doesn't have a quarter of her wage chopped off and diverted to a temp agency) and giving her the backstory that I've worked in five different departments with this same company since January, she widened her eyes in genuine surprise and asked in a tone of amazement: "And they still haven't hired you on permanently?" No. Clearly, they haven't. Thanks for that, though.

Thursday morning I woke up quite conclusively ill, but dragged myself to work as best I could regardless. I'm too noble to miss my 'first day' of work at a 'new' job, and I'm too stubborn to admit when I'm obviously out of commission, so in I went; halfway through the day I was sent home, partially because the work wasn't coming in as expected but mostly because I was almost immobile by that point.

I got home, slept ten straight hours, woke up feeling worse still, and spent the night hovering in and out of consciousness before finally calling in sick this morning.

And here I am! It is Friday evening, and here I am -- lapsing in and out of ineffective recovery rest and weighing the comparative benefits and drawbacks of dying in my sleep.

It hurts to swallow, it hurts to turn my head, I feel freezing cold under three blankets with a heater running full blast, and -- to paraphrase Captain Murphy -- my lymph nodes are as big as cats. It could be strep throat, the flu, tonsilitis, or some combination of the three; it could be a voodoo curse, an unknown karmic backlash, or West Nile contracted from a mosquito so tough that the deadly winter weather just led it to grow fur. I'm hoping my immune system can just armour up and kill it, whatever it is; I'm a busy man with things to do, and it's hard to get stuff done when you're wincing every fifteen seconds.

Things could be better, you guys!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Not Gonna Get You a Diamond Ring

Last year it took me a full month before I finally got around to posting about the annual parade; keeping that in mind is what makes me feel comparatively good about the idea of getting it out this year within about a couple weeks of the original event.

I mention this because I'm finally getting around to moving all the photos off my ol' digital camera, and even that is really only because I've nearly filled the sucker up completely (!). In looking at these pictures, I figure that these cover at least five different subjects spanning three different notable days; clearly I've got good times with formatting ahead of me.

And there are still some planned posts I haven't even started photographing yet. 'Tis the season for immense backlog!

So, first things first. For the sake of progress, let's get an unrelated one-shot out of the way.

We're now into the Christmas season -- as you may have noticed, if you've had to go outside or interact with people in the last couple of weeks -- and the onset of Christmas shopping means that retailers have to ready their marketing strategies and get their best foot forward to draw in the fickle consumer and the almighty dollar.

Some advertisers will go retro, and others will go current; some will go subtle, and others will go brazen; some will produce rational and well thought out promotional material, and others will go work for Warehouse One the Jean Store.

Have you passed by a Warehouse One recently? If you have, I don't doubt for a second you've probably noticed that something seems a little off about their promo pictures. And if you haven't been near one as late, behold as I beheld the imagery that they have chosen as their Christmas marketing plan:

Step one: cut a hole in the box--





I like a good Saturday Night Live callback as much as the next guy -- and having said that, I intend to die in slow-motion from a gunshot wound while Imogen Heap plays in the background -- but really, now. Does this picture make you want to buy jeans?

I know that some of our younger readers may still be impressionable and subject to the influence of mass media imagery, so let me serve as a paragon of virtue on this point: do not try this at home ever. Regardless of how keen a sense of humour your sweet babboo has, the odds are prohibitively high that this will be a fiercely bad idea no matter where you bought your pants from.

And if this Christmas you rack your brain for ideas and genuinely decide that your best bet is to dress fancy in Warehouse One jeans and give your girlfriend a Dick in a Box -- guess what! You are going to get no sympathy from anyone when you're explaining why you're single on New Year's Eve.

Warehouse One is trying to trick you! Do not be fooled! I can't promise that I won't laugh uproariously at your misfortune, but I might feel bad about it later!

And underneath it says 'Affordable', ye gads. "Well, dear, I've been a little short lately, so--wait, no, I mean--uh--"

Man, and this isn't even the worst promotional material I've seen recently. Stay tuned, gentle readers! The world only rolls downhill from here!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh Dear God No

I've been very busy, as you could probably tell. These days, granted, I'm always very busy; it has been even busier than usual as late, though.

It is now the 30th of November, and tomorrow we will be into December; it is with this in mind that I've just now realized I... er, I... I'm not sure if I've checked my primary listed email account at all this past month. It's been two or three weeks, at least.

Oh dear. I'm actually kind of afraid to look in there now.

Boy, I'm good at staying on top of things!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Short, But Straightforward



Oh, god, I feel so bad for Milt Stegall right now.

To the best of my recollection, since he's started playing for us, every other team has won a Grey Cup. Including two teams that don't exist any more.

Sorry, Milt. Maybe next ye... aw, damn it!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Oh, And

Uptown Magazine! Thrill to it!

I grace the News & Viewpoints pages once again this week; hear tell is I'll be appearing biweekly from here on out, so heads up. And this week the issue also features such items as a profile on Chris Jericho and a PostSecret primer, so obviously I'm feeling right at home.

(The PostSecret exhibit has been bumped back a bit and is now scheduled to open December 1st, by the by. I'm quite looking forward to it.)

Go have a look! It's good stuff!

It's shaping up to be quite the busy weekend for me, so we'll see when I can next pop in to post. I've plenty to get to, that's for sure!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Nice Work if You Can Get It

That Santa Claus Parade sure was, er... was... short. That's really the best descriptor I could use. It was short. I'll be going over the highlights once I have the chance to transfer the pictures off my camera and extract the few that didn't emerge as blurred, bizarre blotches.

But that'll be for later, when I have more time available. Right now, there are other matters to deal with -- like the surprise news out of our city council today!

No, not the water and sewer hike; that one was going through no matter what anybody had to say about it.

What I'm particularly interested by is the defeat of the proposal for city councillor term limits. And even then, not because of the actual result; what I was intrigued by in this story is that anyone might even have the gall to act like it could have happened.

Did any among us genuinely expect this idea to become a reality? Not a chance, my friends! Not in Winnipeg!

I was born in 1984, and only twice across my lifetime has the provincial government changed hands from one party to another. Winnipeg, as a city, has not voted out a Mayor in the last fifty years; some retired, some stepped down to run provincially or federally, and one died (yes, really), but the last Mayor of Winnipeg to run as an incumbent and lose was George Sharpe. (If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, you must not have been around to watch him lose in 1956.) And since there are city councillors who have been on the council my entire lifetime, I have no reason to believe that voters are clamoring for change there either.

I offer this up not as a good thing or a bad thing, but just as the way things are around here. If you can grab that brass ring, chances are high that it's yours to hold for decades to come -- and all that will stand in your way are your own boredom or advanced age.

And you mean to tell me there are people amongst us who would change that? Not on your life! Hell, as far as I'm concerned, it sounds like a pretty sweet deal! If my longterm life goal of being appointed to the Canadian Senate (or, as it is known colliquially, slacker heaven) falls through, it's comforting to know that there will still be other options for well-paid lifetime employment consisting of sitting in comfortable chairs and disagreeing with people all day. Gives a man something to shoot for!

Term limits, pfft. Right. Term limits, my ass.

Better luck passing that one next time, dreamers; you and I both know the same people will still be there to vote against it!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Holy Damn How Did They Not Lose That Game

You really can't credit the Bomber defence enough for this win today. It's lucky for the Blue Bombers that Michael Bishop was having a particularly stinky game, because two fumbles within ten yards of the endzone -- including the starting quarterback appearing to break his arm during one of them -- would usually be enough to kill a team outright.

(Admittedly, it was really funny to hear the screams of anguished disbelief from Khari Jones after that second straight goalline fumble. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME-- HOW DO YOU--")

Now that the Bombers have finally made it to the Grey Cup game, the severity of the Kevin Glenn injury looks like it might well tank their chances. I'm sure Dinwiddie is a great guy, and as a player he might well have plenty of potential, but he's thrown maybe thirty passes this year tops.

Ryan Dinwiddie makes me nervous. Ryan Dinwiddie probably makes a lot of us nervous. Just hearing Steve Armitage mention his name repeatedly during the last quarter of the game -- "We'll be back after this to watch Ryan Dinwiddie and the Blue Bombers take possession!" -- sounded terribly, terribly dangerous to me. One week isn't a lot of time to totally revamp your offensive system around a new quarterback; expect Charles Roberts to get the ball a lot against whoever represents the West in the Grey Cup. (The Bombers versus the Riders would be an awesome Grey Cup game, for a variety of reasons, but somehow I hold suspicion that the Lions might just blow them out by like thirty points today. We'll have to see.) Mind you, stranger Grey Cup games have happened. Prove me wrong, Dinwiddie!

That's going to be one weird game. Hoo, boy.

Hey, Troy Westwood was the best kicker on the field today! Go him!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Precocious Puppy Prevents Proper Post Planning; Parade Pending

I am given to brief bouts of alliteration.

We named the puppy Cadence, or 'Cady'; I wasn't the one to originally suggest the name, so she's not actually named after Edmonton rapper Cadence Weapon. That was entirely coincidence.

Anyway! Cadence, being a golden retriever puppy and being maybe thirteen weeks old, is as much a handful to keep out of trouble as you would expect. I had a post plotted out in my head about the crazy weather that we'd had the last couple of days, but I've hardly been able to prepare the accompanying pictures; I have to keep myself mentally tethered to the puppy at all times right now, because a good sized puppy can destroy anything you own within seconds and then will probably have to go out to pee again right afterwards. It's like dealing with a furry, adorable combination of a water balloon and a hand grenade.

I've other work to do and a column or two to write in the immediate future -- and even now, I'm writing this message quickly and furtively on a commandeered laptop -- so the next couple blog posts may be a bit delayed. My early apologies.

However! This coming Saturday is the Santa Claus Parade (!), and since I covered the event last year I figure I'll probably have just as much fun doing it again this year. Maybe I can rope somebody into actually coming with me this time! Or at least this year I'll be more considerate of the Honey Nut Cheerios bee!

In looking at that piece again, I think my writing's actually grown a little more polished over the past year. Good. I quite obviously needed it. Soon enough I'll be writing with unflappable refinement and culture, a model of class and distincti--





Monday, November 12, 2007

What's New

I'm glad you asked! (I'm pretending you read the title out loud. Humour me.)

First order of business:

Uptown Magazine! For those of you outside of Winnipeg, Uptown Magazine is the weekly local news-slash-arts and entertainment paper; it stands among the top three most prominent city newspapers, and it makes a fine read both on paper and on the internet. This week's installment is a particularly good one, but I'll admit to a bit of bias when I say that. And that bias stems from the minor but important observation that this week I am in it.

That's right -- have a look! This week's issue marks my inaugural appearance as a columnist, weighing in on the ongoing Manitoba Hydro question that remains completely and majestically unanswered. I encourage you to read it and let me know what you thought of it. (And be honest, now! I'm pretty good at knowing when you're lying to me.)

Uptown Magazine, with a newly minted columnist -- now how much would you pay? Nothing! It's free! So go grab a copy and hunker down with it; I'm on page six, eagerly awaiting your readership.

(To all readers who are encountering me for the first time via Uptown -- greetings! Have a look around! I'd have prepared a more thorough welcome, with links to the blog's most significant posts, but quite honestly the whole development has caught me largely by surprise. It'll more satisfying to find them yourself anyway!)

That's what's new with my writing, and I'm quite pleased to announce it. What else is new with me? Again, I'm glad you asked! (I'm pretending you... ah, never mind.)

On Saturday my brother and I attended BaseLAN, the semiannual All Your Base Online gaming extravaganza; a grand time was had by all, and when we got back home we were greeted by -- wait for it --

A new puppy! Yes! A charming, affectionate twelve-week-old Golden Retriever puppy.

She doesn't have a name yet, but clearly that's a minor detail. New puppy! She is precarious and timid and only partially aware of how to work both hind legs at the same time.

Things are looking up! I can't wait to see what's waiting in the wings to kill my mood!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Now That's Good Football

Holy hell, did that game get dramatic in a hurry.

Good on Troy Westwood to come through right at the last second after blowing it a few minutes earlier; it would seem incredibly unimaginative if you wrote a movie script exactly the same way this game unfolded, but that's why movie drama is no substitute for real life drama. (And from the televised shots, it looks like the attendance pulled through after all.)

I swear, a few times during the game I thought I would have to come on here right now and put up the Disappointed Milt pic -- but his career rides on, if only until the next game. Good times.

I'll be back later tonight, to cover other subjects; just wanted to get this out of the way right now. Damn, that was a great football game to watch!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Transit All to Hell

Everybody who was clamoring for another Winnipeg Transit fare hike that will bring no accompanying increase in quality, technology, accessibility or service -- put your hands up with pride! Your city is serving you!

Our Mayor is quoted as saying that the bulk of the hike will go to a rapid transit reserve fund; this likely means that they'll bankroll just enough to budget for another task force on the subject, then laugh and have us keep riding the same candy corn clunkers we started off with.

That's just a guess, of course. I mean, I'm basing this guess on the past precedents of every Winnipeg Transit fare hike in recent memory -- but maybe we'll get lucky and I'll be wrong about it this time!

"Rapid Transit reserve fund", sure. I doubt he even made it all the way through that statement without chuckling a little, and the rest of the room probably chuckled with him. Sam Katz is no more enthusiastic about rapid transit than I am about leaving rapid transit in the hands of Sam Katz.

We weren't told that the money will pay for more drivers, or for more buses to be put on the road; we weren't told that the money will go to buying articulated buses; we weren't even told that the money will be used to construct a transit building that's actually big enough to hold articulated buses. We will be expected to pay more money for each bus ride so that the money can be put somewhere completely inaccessible to save up for rapid transit plans that we don't have and won't make.

Not to worry, though! This proposed motion hasn't been approved yet; surely the inevitable unpleasant reaction from the public and the strong opposition of our city councillors will keep the unpopular and ill advised idea from succeeding, just like they did against the police advisory b... like they did against the renewal of the red light camera contr... just like they did ag...

I'm going to go to bed and try to forget that I ever looked at the news. In retrospect I probably should have known better.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Musical Housekeeping

I haven't been able to post any music since my last storage provider went under, and anyone passingly familiar with me knows that I can't go very long without yammering openly about anything I enjoy listening to.

The major advantage of my last MP3 host was that it allowed one-click downloading (after some workarounds, mind you); the major disadvantages were that it went down frequently, had serious recurring problems with uploading and ultimately removed its free service entirely. That leaves me with few viable options for hosting, especially since my interest in other music blogs almost lives or dies by the ability to one-click. For now, I'll have to make do; the interim host takes a couple clicks to download anything, but seems to upload reliably and doesn't delete my files arbitrarily when I'm not looking. I'll roll with it.

Since I'm both a completionist and a fool, I'll be going back and reuploading everything (!) I've posted on the blog -- which means I'll then be going back and switching the addresses around in all my previous posts, so all in all there's plenty of fun in my future. Ah, the lengths I go to in my zeal to propagate music about zombies and Teppo Numminen.

I'll be sure to mention when I've got everything up to code again. It'll be good times!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Arbouring a Grudge

I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tr--

--as, uh... as half a tree?

That's definitely not the standard fare for scenery on a walk home from work; on a scale of one to expected, this is maybe a two. Coniferous trees aren't even supposed to lose their needles in autumn, let alone lose exactly half of them all on one side!

Who did that tree piss off?

Uh... well. There went that train of thought.

Fine! Forget poetry, and forget trees! From now on I'm going to stay inside all day, playing Virtua Fighter 5 Online and speaking entirely in unrhymed prose! So there!

I think I'm losing my mind.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cats, Comics, and Car-Crashin' Cops

Good evening, gentle readers. I have been conspicuous in my absense. My apologies.

Shortly after my last post here, I got a call from the Humane Society; they had found my missing cat, Maceo, but in the month that he'd been missing he'd suffered a tail pull so severe that the spinal damage left him incapable of bladder functions and largely unable to use his hind legs. I kept him in my room for a couple of days on the advice that he might show some improvement, but ultimately I had to have him put down on Friday.

You can imagine the mood I've been in about that.

I went to the Manitoba Comic Convention on Saturday, if only to cheer myself up a bit; I ran into some people I hadn't seen in a while and I purchased a few things of interest, one or two in particular that I'll definitely want to be posting about here when I'm feeling more up to it.

Some things, however, demand immediate attention. To the news!

You've seen it, I've seen it, we're all well familiar with it by now -- Harvey-Zenk will serve no jail time, instead facing the harsh penalties of (oh dear) a nightly curfew and community service work.

Yes, seriously. Community service work. Because obviously everything went so well the last time he was serving the community.

Now, many people have expressed indignation and outrage in the aftermath of this case, railing for some sort of necessary change to result -- but you and I both know that substantive change never actually happens in Manitoba. So when I read the news, I like to think more productively -- and by that, I mean I try instead to think of ways I can use our province's significant deficiencies to my advantage.

So, in keeping up with the local news, I now know exactly what to do if I ever hate somebody enough to want them dead -- just bribe or befriend a cop, get him good and plastered, and have him kill them with his car. It's foolproof! And a contact in East St. Paul told me that the deepseated police corruption and injustice have been the lay of the land out there for years (and he made a point of recalling examples as he passed this along) -- so nobody would even bat an eye about it!

But what if, instead of a murder, I need a property crime or a nonlethal violent assault committed? Well! If that's what I'm in the market for, I could easily locate and pay some underage gang members to do it for me -- and if I paid them extra for their silence, neither I nor they would ever face any serious consequences! Brilliant!

But, wait! What if, hypothetically and presumably by accident, you kill somebody yourself? No problem! There's a specified field out northwest of the city where everybody dumps corpses; people will assume the body you left there was some prostitute, the death will be chalked up to a serial killer, and you can rest easy knowing that the murder will never actually be solved!

(To readers from outside the province, and I know there are plenty of you: this is normally where I would put a conciliatory message indicating my facetiousness, and I'd like to, but I'm afraid I'm not actually kidding about any of the above. Winnipeg's still a lovely place, though! We have a new arena! And a really ugly new bridge! So please come and visit us before we're all dead.)

Tonight is Halloween, of course, and I love a good Pagan holiday as much as the next candy-chomping cynic. But I don't need ghost stories or scary movies to get my spook on! I live in Winnipeg!

Our Provincial Government can't get cropburning right, our Mayoral Office can't get traffic lights or Daylight Savings Time right, and our police forces actually make us feel less safe -- Happy Halloween, everybody!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Those are Bad Signs

My my, but the weather as late has been phenomenal, hasn't it? They're predicting highs of eighteen degrees tomorrow! Plus eighteen! In October -- in Winnipeg! Bizarre, but more than welcome.

I took my lunch break this afternoon to just walk around downtown a bit and enjoy myself; it hit plus twelve, which again is still pretty bizarre for a Winnipeg October, and really just had to smile at how idyllic it all seemed.

Never mind that people are being stabbed in the neck downtown in broad daylight, or that our bars and nightclubs are being shot up on a seemingly nightly basis; never mind that the same people who screwed up with our red light cameras last time were awarded the contract to screw up our red light cameras again, or that we're number one in underage homicide; never mind that our Mayor and his baseball team have been suddenly plagued by mysterious phantom financial problems once people started asking where the Crocus money went, or that our Premier is more concerned with making Kyoto promises to impress dignitaries than he is with cleaning up Lake Winnipeg to improve things for us Manitobans.

Never mind all that! That is what I thought to myself, also trying to never mind that I had to be back at work within minutes. Just walk around, enjoy the warm sunshine and the surprisingly pleasant wind, dream idly that this moment could last forever, and take in a bit of... the...


Oh. Oh hell no. You have to be kidding me.

(Moment lasting forever, pthhbtth. So much for that.)

No! Bad angel! Get down from there!

It is not the Christmas season yet. Absolutely not, I refuse to allow this. We're still a week away from Halloween! You put down that damn horn and get down from there right this instant.

They're putting up Christmas decorations before it even snows, why I oughtta. Who do they think are even looking at them? Not to be too alarmist, but have a look at that last picture again; isn't it a little weird that I was walking around downtown in the early afternoon and nobody else was on the streets? I didn't crop this photo at all, no framing tricks, no sleights of hand -- I pointed, clicked, and hours later went "wait a minute holy crap I was alone out there".

What's up with our downtown? Well... never mind that, either, I guess. Eighteen degrees tomorrow! Whoo!

Monday, October 22, 2007

This is How People Find Me, Part III

These never get old for me. Not ever.

As before, yes, these are complete and unedited search engine strings; they are real, and they are true, and sometimes they are almost fatally amusing to me.

Little had I previously realized that my target audiences are looking for:

-- kern hill furniture kern hill
-- bus bench realty signs royal lepage
-- ron pollock
-- ugly building winnipeg
-- the worst professional wrestlers
-- rob fai on the canucks
-- arthur a leach school blog
-- balmoral hall school past pupils 1999
-- what does 360 mean gang affiliated
-- janet stewart and fan site
-- delissio pizza spokespersons
-- louie the lightning bug history
-- songs about slurpees
-- milt stegall song
-- moses mayes wikipedia
-- pig upside down in winnipeg
-- murder markers
-- sam katz sucks

Bless your hearts, misdirected seekers of knowledge! May you one day find what you're actually looking for.

More to follow, hopefully! I'm striking into burgeoning writing projects for at least (!) two (!!) other places of note, and I'll let you know if they work out, but rest assured I never stray too far from my designated home base. I mean, I keep my beer here!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Return and Begin Again

Lucky me, I've finally been able to return home. I still can't walk on any of the hardwood floors, so I'm sequestered to the second floor -- but I get to sleep in my own bed, and I get to use my own computer, so for now it's a start.

Speaking of starts -- I have a lot of writing to start catching up on, and for a variety of things. That and I need to find MP3 hosting again, since the last one has removed its strikingly unsteady free service and attempted to charge me for its strikingly unsteady paid service.

Well, always something, I guess. Time to hunker down!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The 2007 Speech from the Throne: A Slurpees and Murder Anniversary Liveblogging Extravaganza Special (or, I Like Long Titles)

5:28 PM

All right! I'm almost all set up; I'm home from work, dial-up is dialed up, and any second now my little brother will save his game of Beautiful Katamari so I can put on the CBC and spend an hour and a half enjoying myself more than anybody should.

5:33 PM

Hoo, damn. It might just be this TV, but Peter Mansbridge is looking orange today. Mansbridge must be some kinda wizard to get a tan that deep in the middle of October.

5:35 PM

Boy, the advertised 'pomp and pageantry' of the Governor General's entrance is... kind of underwhelming. Clearly she thinks so too, because she's looking pretty bored; then again, I'd imagine she has other things on her mind.

5:36 PM




5:40 PM

Damn, the Guard Commander has two swords? That's awesome! If any invading army forgets their guns at home and attacks our country exclusively with fists and short knives, we will be ready! (And two swords means double the attack power!)

Ha ha ha ha ha Mansbridge has already whipped out the CGI calendar to show the two most likely election dates. Awesome.

5:44 PM

Oh, boy, Coyne and Hebert. Is this honestly what I tuned in for? And are we sure they aren't actually fraternal twins who were mistakenly split up at birth?

5:48 PM

. . . what the hell is going on with the collar on Chantale Hebert's shirt? Did she actually dress herself this morning? I wish I had a screencap of this, because I don't think anybody would believe me if I tried to describe it.


Uh-oh, eighteen minutes in and we've already heard the first mention of the likelihood of Dion stepping down if anything goes wrong. That can't be good for him.

Nice shot of the external stone heads; I don't know why Red Arremer is right next to the King of Clubs, but architecture was funny back in the day.

5:50 PM

Does anybody else ever want to see somebody get clocked upside the head by the ceremonial Black Rod? Wouldn't that be awesome? Or am I alone on this one?

And if that's the Usher of the Black Rod who'll be running the messages back and forth all night, shouldn't they give the guy comfier shoes? Or give the position to somebody who looks less than seventy years old?

'Terry Christopher', Mansbridge announces as his name; he looks like Mr. Green from Clue, but that might still be me fixating on the idea of him cracking some skulls with his ebony cane.

And now we get to watch him walk through the building for a while! HE'LL BE FACING THE SAMOAN BULLDOZER UMAGA THAT MATCH IS NEXT

5:54 PM

(Knock three times on the ceiling if you waaa--)

I was previously unaware that the French for 'Governor General' is, in fact, 'Governor General'. Well, that'll learn me.

This may sound odd coming from a guy who got a Double Honours in History and Political Studies, but -- what's with the pointy triangle hats and the ornate ribbon bows on the backs of suits? Is this how we have to dress to keep being friends with the Queen?

6:02 PM

Oh, god, I would have felt so bad for the Usher if he'd gotten lost. But that wouldn't have stopped me from laughing too hard to type anymore.

Aww, we'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear Dion's reaction? Not cool, guys. Well, maybe they'll cut to him during the speech and get a good shot of him grimacing his Muppet grimace or something. And wow, everybody's speculating on how long he might last as leader. Somebody should get a pool going.

6:03 PM

Speech starts.

Nice shot of the token woman included in the military delegation. Long preamble about our military history and reputation to start.

Ever notice how many statements in this thing are half-truths and straight-up lies? Like when they say "Our society is a caring society, committed to the welfare of our Aboriginal peoples" and you almost nod and gloss it over before you doubletake?

6:10 PM

Aww, the Arctic, here we go. Let's see what's up here.

Canadians see the North as a symbol of our boundless potential and imagination? Really, now? Most of us don't just associate it with the word 'cold' and with Farley Mowat eating mice?

A promise is made to put a "world-class research station" up in the Arctic, which they briefly pretend will do important environmental research before giving up and admitting that it would only be there to made seabed maps that favour us and not them foreigners.

6:12 PM

"Canada is back as a credible player on the international stage." Sure, and I can transform myself into a My Little Pony just by thinking about it really hard.

If you're wondering how we'll return to prominence as a credible player on the international stage, it'll happen through... modernizing the reserve registration system? Er. Sure!

The notion is put forward that Canada should stay in Afghanistan until 2011, and that a Parliamentary vote should be held by February 2009; how likely are we to actually have a sitting parliament during that time?

6:18 PM

Of course you realize that they know they can promise whatever they want about Haiti because nobody will ever call them on it. Haiti captures the passion and imagination of the Canadian public about as well as Bryan McCabe defended the net in overtime last night. (Yeah, that's right! Ice burn! Suck it, McCabe!)

6:22 PM

Ha ha ha they still want to try and democratize the Senate. Good luck with that, guys. Clearly the average Canadian clamors for major governmental changes like these, which is why we dumped the Queen back in 1997 and declared Bert Raccoon our new symbolic ruling figure.

6:27 PM

Ah, there are the anticipated tax cut announcements. Nobody acts surprised.

What's funny is immediately after that the speech promises to beef up infrastructure nationwide and improve the social safety nets for families and homeless people; I can't wait to see how we build towards these goals by specifically taking in less money than before.

6:30 PM

Wow, the Conservatives are still going to keep pushing for the end of the CWB? What part of any of this went so right for them over the past couple of years that they want to keep trying?

I waS keen on hearing more about this, but the speech jumped immediately and haphazardly to aboriginal employment opportunities up north; I'm really starting to notice that this speech isn't written all that well. I mean, it's really all over the place. There's precious little cohesion to be found, and if I'd handed in something this scattershot my professors would have been justified in shooting me.

6:33 PM

"Jack Layton tells CBC News he will not support the speech." Well, that didn't take long! No surprise, of course, but still -- wouldn't you at least bother to stick around and hear the whole thing? Does anybody stay in their seat to hear the whole thing?

6:37 PM

"It is now widely understood that (...) Canada's emissions cannot be brought down to the levels within the Kyoto Protocol". Oh, snap! No you di-in't!

6:40 PM

See, now they just jumped straight from talking about environmental regulation to talking about Chinese imports. Weak segue, you guys. Who edited this thing? Is she reading this off the cocktail napkins they scribbled the speech on this morning?

6:42 PM

The speech finally ends; Mansbridge clocks the speech at thirty-nine minutes, which--hey, that does match my clock! Good to know I'm keeping up to date on these things.

Interview with Duceppe; the first words out of his mouth are "I cannot support this speech". Duceppe says pretty much everything you would expect, but he does make a good point -- not a lot was actually said about what actions are actually going to be taken about things. And he immediately shoots down the platform for federal-provincial relations, which is kind of funny because it was specifically supposed to appeal to Quebec.

6:45 PM

Interview with Layton immediately afterwards; Layton says pretty much everything you would expect, too. I like his quick soundbyte that "Harper is taking this country in entirely the wrong direction"; not a lot of ambiguity in that one!

"We're the only party that has voted against the government on every confidence vote so far." Yeah, Jack, but you kind of don't count. That's like me boasting I've never voted for the Bloc Quebecois.

6:48 PM

Oh, boy, Ignatieff. Yeah, now my night is complete.

He just tried to form some metaphor about a menu at a restaurant, but I seriously -- I'm not being cute with this -- I genuinely had no idea what he was talking about, because he trailed off halfway through it and only phrased it properly when he returned to it at the end of his interview.

Wow, you know what? Ignatieff is actually pretty brutal on the mic. How did we not notice this before? With his strained monotone and his long pauses to stop for a tense shrug, Ignatieff is only seconds away from actually being a Eugene Levy character. He's certainly got the eyebrows for it.

6:52 PM




God, I love Don Newman. "Mapping Arctic waters is not going to drive Canadians to the polls." True enough.

6:57 PM

Hey, wait a minute! Where the hell is Rex Murphy in all of this? I could have sworn they promised me Rex Murphy when I caught him on Newsworld last night. Dang, that's disappointing.

7:00 PM

Peter outlines what's next on the networks, signs off, and that's that. Dang. No Rex Murphy fix.

Well, that's the speech; we have to wait and see what amendments the Liberals pledge, and for that matter we'll have to wait to even get any comments out of Dion about the speech at all. Way to show leadership, dude. Going mute for twelve to twenty-four hours in the face of something you might disagree with doesn't exactly scream 'confident go-getter'.

There was enough inflammatory phrasing in this evening's speech that I can't imagine the Liberals playing along with it; I suspect they'll probably try and amend just about everything, which almost defeats the purpose of proposing amendments at all. that

Ignatieff is now sucking up all the screen time on Newsworld, and Dion remains nowhere to be seen; I don't know who benefits from the deputy leader conducting all the interviews while the actual leader plots behind the scenes, but let 'em have their fun.

I know much is made of the concept of election fatigue, but truthfully? I never get tired of elections, and given the nature of confidence motions (especially that all-encompassing crime bill; hoo, boy, that one won't float) we can never safely say that one isn't in the cards. We might have to have one of these things every six or nine months, until somebody finally does so badly that somebody else gets to run the show. I don't know about you, but I'll enjoy it!

Canadian politics! Whoo!

Can't Keep Me Away From This

There have been, I'm told, shenanigans and goings-on regarding the ongoing refurbishment of the hardwood floors. Miscommunications about the types of sander and stain (what) and complications arising from sanding against the grain (whaaaaaaaat) mean that the original idea of returning home on Wednesday night lies broken and exposed as the lie it was.

Right now we're cooped up in my grandmother's apartment while she's away, which is the third different place I've stayed in over the past three nights. And I was initially told about the extent of these renovations twenty minutes before we had to clear out of the house, so I had time only to throw some (at the time unwashed) work clothes into a small bag; as it stands I'm doing laundry every second day and figuring that maybe nobody will notice I'm wearing the same black shirt to work three times in a five day work week.

And there still has never been any sign of my missing cat. You cannot imagine the ceaseless torrent of fun and satisfaction that my life is right now.

As you can see, however, I am online; there was a laptop left here, and it has dial-up internet on its 56.6k modem (say whaaaaaat holy crow what century am I living in), so here I am.

So! Since I'm cut off from most everything else, might as well take my fun where I can get it. Which brings me to tomorrow afternoon.

The thought occured to me that I should check my records, in case I've any minor milestones coming up, and sure enough -- this coming Thursday will be the first anniversary of Slurpees and Murder. But I don't have anything specifically planned for that day, for what should be obvious reasons. (With the new setbacks, Thursday might be the night I get to sleep in my own bed. If I'm lucky.)

So, as must be done sometimes with commemorative commitments, I'm going to bump the blog's birthday a couple of days ahead and celebrate the occasion tomorrow. With what, you wonder aloud? Why, what else -- with the Speech from the Throne, of course!

You may have forgotten over the past few months that I'm deeply entertained by federal politics; I haven't done much of anything about federal politics lately, but then again nobody actually in federal politics has done much of anything either. And tomorrow, through some crazy star alignments or plot contrivances, will be the first time that I have a computer near a television when something will be happening that I can probably draw some glee from laughing at talking about.

I've never tried liveblogging anything before, which is precisely why I want to try it -- and what better test subject than something nobody else is going to be watching anyway? The possibility exists that something important might emerge from this speech, but it probably won't; either way, I figure I'll get at least some low-level jollies out of it. And if it gets really slow, I guess I'll just start firing off bald jokes about Peter Mansbridge. Like I said, I take my fun where I can get it!

The Speech from the Throne is set for tomorrow evening at 5:30; join me, won't you?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Temporary Interruption of Service (Again)

I've just found out, upon getting home from work, that extensive work is being done on the first floor of this house to the point that it will be completely uninhabitable until Wednesday. At the earliest.

I dearly would have loved to hear about this previously, and by 'previously' I mean 'even this morning'.

Alas. Updates to resume whenever I get to come back.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not Encouraging Signs

I have a Lost Cat ad in the Free Press, right now; I got a call from somebody near St. Vital Park letting me know that a friendly black cat had been around the neighbourhood for the last few days. So I drove down there, searched for it, tracked it a bit, picked it up when it cheerfully came over to me, thanked the callers for their help, and took it out to the Humane Society to be checked on.

Naturally this wasn't my cat, of course, after all of that. Quite a similar cat, yes, but I'm not lucky enough for things to work out that easily. It did have a tattoo, and it's already safe and sound at the Humane Society, so its owners will have no trouble finding it -- and I guess it's nice to know I can at least find other people's cats and get them returned home safely. Lucky me!

I take my meager comforts and my silver linings where I can get them, I guess. A man's got to keep his morale up somehow. Which must be why this Free Press article made me chuckle a little.

My Double Honours was in History and Political Studies, as you'll recall; if you wait long enough, just about anything eventually falls under one or both of these categories. And I always enjoy thinking about how people in the future will look back on us folk here in the present day; for example, they will probably assume we as a generation had no taste in music whatsoever. (And they'll probably be right to think so, depending on what songs are eventually held up as defining the decade.)

One game that can be played in this exercise, and one I never seem to get tired of, is considering how our leaders or icons of today will be remembered in the tomorrows to come. I bring this up because of that article. Because years from now, when people look back on Sam Katz and his tenure as Mayor, this is something they will genuinely and truthfully be able to say:

"It was after people started stabbing each other in the neck downtown in broad daylight that Mayor Katz promised better police coverage for the area, not by hiring more cops, but by making the small crop of existing cops work harder."

Boy are we ever going to get laughed at by future generations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

They say that money can't buy you happiness. This is actually a bald-faced lie, most of the time. (I can specifically think of at least a good half a dozen ways I would be personally happier if I had a bit more money on my hands, and that's just right now off the top of my head.) But every so often a situation will arise where the expression holds true, and I found myself in just such a situation recently.

Can money buy you happiness? If you know what you're after, sure. But if all you have is five cents and you are either hungry or in need of intellectual stimulation, you are completely out of luck. Five cents will neither buy you nutrition nor entertainment; in fact, your purchase will only make you fatter -- and dumber.

Plus it magically turns your mother into Flattop Jones from Dick Tracy. I'm not sure what the deal is with that.

Dubble Bubble was originally invented in 1928, allegedly by accident; the comics that became a staple of the brand began print inside the wrappers two years later. According to this page, where you have to squint really hard to look at any of the images, the original stars of the comic were two twins named 'Dub' and 'Bub' -- completely spherical twin brothers in Mickey Mouse pants who could not possibly have been entertaining in the slightest. The character Pud is believed to have first appeared in 1950 as the comics' protagonist, and as such that would make fifty-seven years and counting of him being one of the most stunningly unfunny signature characters ever established.

I mean, granted, the standards are insanely low for these; he doesn't technically exist as an 'advertising' character, because you don't read his tiny inset comic without first having already bought the product. Since there's nothing actually left to advertise after that, his main selling point seems to be merely that he exists; the sales pitch is that the gum comes with a comic, and so the writers (or cartoonists, or soulless corporate automatons, or whoever actually makes these) only have to come up with something vaguely recognizable as a comic to have kept their word and maintained the trust of the consumer.

But even with these hauntingly low expectations, I can actually say with no hesitation in my voice that these are five cents spent that I wish I had back. Because I bought the gum, and I opened the wrapper, and out came this:



Okay, I think I've got it. The gag here is that he crapped himself.

Yes, seriously. That is genuinely the only explanation I can offer with any certainty. Wow that's awful.

Panel one, he's upside down and a speech bubble of exclusively exclamation points appears, not from his head, but from his pants; I'd be willing to accept this as a necessary stylistic oversight and not a plot point if the second panel didn't prominently feature flies circling him. So unless the 'bully repellent' he invented was a pig's head on a stick as an offering to the Beast -- because he is about that age, after all -- or unless Pud is actually the physical manifestation of Beelzebub himself, the flies have been drawn around him specifically to cement the otherwise unspoken assertion that he fouled himself under duress.

And now he's proud of himself for doing it! Which is ostensibly why he hasn't cleaned himself at all, instead walking all the way home and around the house still encrusted in his own filth and surrounded by his newfound fly friends. Oh, the ceaseless cavalcade of mirth and satisfaction it must be for this woman to have raised such a child. I can only imagine the joy she must feel to be the talk of the neighbourhood.

And this is aimed at children! Under no circumstances should children be taught that bullies will leave you alone if you just shit yourself and hope they go away! I guarantee you this will not serve as an effective deterrent!

If I were beating on some dude in a fight and he lost control of his bowels, would he expect me to feel bad about it and stop? And would he expect his dignity to spontaneously rematerialize? Heck, I would feel pretty badass after doing that to a guy! More badass than usual, even!

So needless to say, this is absolutely horrible by any reasonable standard and everybody involved ought to be ashamed of themselves. I did not fork out my hard earned nickel to have my faith in humanity trampled!

Then again, it's not as though any of us are unaccustomed to people making massive piles of shit and claiming they've created something helpful.

And we've established previously how I register bursts of intense disappointment in humanity, so:

"You have brought nothing but dishonour and misery to our family since day one. Nobody is amused by your antics, least of all your long-suffering mother. You are wasting our time, you are wasting your life, and you just tracked feces footprints across the same carpet that your mother just finished vacuuming. Go to your room. And die there."

God, I hate Dubble Bubble comics. Lesson learned, I guess. That'll teach me not to fritter my money away so frivolously.

Yes, I'm willing to acknowledge the possibility that I get myself a little too worked up over one of the absolute lowest examples of mass media 'entertainment', but come on! If I wanted to laugh at people fearfully crapping themselves in the face of an increasingly unfortunate situation, I'd watch our local truck drivers continually crashing into bridges!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

If It Isn't One Thing, It's Another







Friday, October 05, 2007

Not Settled In

Good evening morning. A few things are different now than they were the last time I talked to you, but you had probably gathered that from before.

I've mostly moved back into my old place, I'm slowly acclimating myself to my new job, a new hockey season has begun, and I've re-aimed my sights once again towards what should be a positive direction. (Remind me to tell you about that later.)

That's nice, you might say, probably patronizing me when you do. Sounds like good times, you add. And I'm sure they must be, but despite these things it has not exactly been a good week.

Far from it, in fact. I've spent the past week anxious and miserable and pissed off all at once, and this combination may not be coming apart for a while yet.

This is my cat, Maceo. He is a black cat with yellow-green eyes and a distinctively low call; his fur is far smoother than you would expect, and since he is made of solid muscle he is substantially heavier than he initially appears.

He is about a year and a half old, he is neutered, and the tattoo in his ear reads SA3317. He has been missing for a week now, and there is nothing that I could have done about this.

None of my former roommates have owned up to doing it, but damn sure somebody put him outside; I don't know what kind of contemptible shithead lets an indoor cat out two days before its owner has to pack up and move away, but sure enough somebody did just that a week ago and nobody has seen my cat since.

This is astoundingly similar to how my last black cat disappeared. At the time I was eleven years old, and I had owned her since I was two and a half; eventually she turned up after several months and immediately died of feline leukemia. I took this about as well as any eleven year old does in these circumstances.

You can imagine why I've not been blogging away, as late. I've tried phoning every outlet available (the Dead Animal Pickup has no records matching the descriptions, so there's hope yet); I've called from the windows and hilltops; I've lapped that neighbourhood who knows how many times now. The Humane Society only holds on to adult cats for four days, so I'll be launching myself on regular sortees out to Transcona. And with a week having now passed I'm going to be scaling up to posters, handbills, increasingly furious searches, and a progressively worse mood.

If you're in the southern tip of Winnipeg, in neighbourhoods along Pembina and just north of the Perimeter, please keep an eye out for any black cats; if one walks up to you (and I don't doubt that he might), check his ear for tattoos or lift him to see if he's deceptively hefty. Turn him in to the Humane Society or your nearest veterinarian, or contact me directly at the email address given above; whatever the case, I'm sure I can scrape together some kind of reward for whoever might find him.

And until I find out what's happened to him one way or the other, I reserve the right to be taciturn and dangerous; I'm very much an animal person, and since nobody has yet confessed to their having taken an animal of mine away from me at the worst possible time, I've decided that I'm not too keen on people right now. (And I was never much of a social butterfly to begin with.) Please do not take it personally if you approach me about some unrelated or trivial matter and I burn straight through you with the heat and fury of a thousand suns and a thousand wrathful gods.

Such is my mindset right now. My apologies in advance.

Broder Daniel - Dark Heart (Broder Daniel Forever, 1998)
[info | myspace | official... forum? | somehow this album is completely unavailable anywhere]

Deckard - Nothing More (Dreams of Dynamite and Divinity, 2004)
[buy | site]

Okkervil River - No Key No Plan (Black Sheep Boy Appendix, 2005)
[buy definitive edition | site | myspace]

Zombina and the Skeletones - Nobody Likes You (When You're Dead) (Taste the Blood of Zombina and the Skeletones, 2002)
[site | myspace | for the life of me there is nowhere to buy this album]

I'll make an effort to keep writing about whatever and the usual and etcetera, but you'll probably be able to tell that my heart isn't really in it. Granted, I'm out of town for most of this weekend (it's already Thanksgiving, somehow; I don't know how that happened), but I'll come up with something soon.

Man, I miss my cat.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Notice of Temporary Interruption of Service

Well, obviously. I'm moving, as I'd mentioned in previous posts.

Since this computer is minutes away from being disconnected and popped into a box, no blog updates will be forthcoming until everything is set up again.

I'll be back soon, though! Fear not!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mark Your Calenders for (Journée) Louis Riel Day

Huh? What? Oh! Sorry. As per my previous entry, I'm just now starting to emerge from within the pile of music I'm working through; I'm still (!) not done, but the recent joyous call from all about the town caught my attention.

The declaration has now been made! Monday, February 18th, 2008 -- and the third Monday of every February hence -- will be known in Manitoba as Journée Louis Riel Day.

Well, okay, no it won't, not entirely. The first word is an entirely optional nod to bilinguilism; the full name is completely redundant, I have to rack my brain for the right alt-number code whenever I need the acute over that first E, and I can only type "Journée" so many times before I start itching to make Steve Perry jokes.

Louis Riel's message for the future generations of Metis people was "Don't Stop Believing"

Manitobans have embraced the new holiday with Open Arms

John A. Macdonald may have placed higher on CBC's Greatest Canadian list, but Who's Cryin' Now

I won't, though. I have far too much willpower for that.

Tony Soprano shall hang though every dog in New Jersey bark in his favour

So setting Journée aside for now, our new February holiday shall be recognized as Louis Riel Day. It's a good name, and I for one am quite pleased with it; I challenge you to name me one figure more uniquely significant to Manitoba's historical heritage than Louis Riel. (And if you tell me "Burton Cummings" I will smack you upside the head, in an attempt to knock some excess facetiousness out of your brain.) The general consensus seems to be that nobody really cares too much about what it's called so long as we actually get to have it; hell, I think this might even be the happiest that we've ever seen Tom Brodbeck. (Off day, or oncoming apocalypse? Place your bets now!)

Mind you, when the reports say that this was the best name suggested by the schoolchildren of our province, I believe it -- especially after seeing the other suggestions. Despite my own better judgement, my curiosity led me to look at the provincial government's list of names that each school suggested (a 16KB PDF file) -- and, well, we should all be dearly thankful that Louis Riel Day was the name we ended up with.

For example -- as you may have already read elsewhere -- the kids at Earl Oxford School suggested... they put forward the suggestion that... they tried to...

"Chil-Lax Day"? Are you kidding me? Oh my god you are serious. You seriously--Chil-Lax Day? Are you all out of your minds?



Some other suggestions made by schools from around the province:

The Alhijra Islamic School suggested "Manisnowba Day", which is admittedly a little demeaning but still kind of cute. Emerson Elementary suggested "Hudson Bay Holiday", which rolls off the tongue quite nicely and would probably be a great name for a third-wave ska band. And Anola School (in Anola, naturally) suggested Manitoba Outdoor Family Fitness (or O.F.F.) Day, which would be a really keen idea if the holiday weren't in February. We live in Manitoba; we can never rule out the possibility that any given February here is cold enough to kill somebody outright.

Some schools were on the right track, but went a little long with their ideas. Elkhorn School (in Elkhorn, naturally) offered "Family Winter Wellness and Fun Day"; similarly, St. Maurice School came up with "February Family Fitness & Fun Day". I'm as big a fan of alliteration as the next overindulgent writer, but can you imagine dropping that one in conversation?

"Hey, Kyle, wanna chip in for beer? We're going to watch the game and then get good and drunk on February Family Fitness and Fun Day."

Alas, I think the novelty would wear off on that one after a while.

Ditto for the suggestion from St. Paul's Collegiate in Saint-Francois-Xavier, which was "Celebration of Lord Selkirk and the Settlers"; I'd definitely be down for that one as a longer event, though. It's a long title for a single day, but if you stretched it into a whole weekend's worth of renaissance fairs and feasting I think it'd fly pretty well.

Arthur A. Leach School suggested "Bison Break", which I am totally stealing as the name of my finishing move if I ever become a professional wrestler. (It'll be a Fire Thunder Driver. If you were wondering.) Oakenwald School suggested "The Polar Pause", which sounds less like a holiday and more like something you'd die of if you had an Outdoor Family Fitness Day in February. And Grant Park High School suggested "Bring on the Bison", which is a couple DNA substitutions away from being an awesome Echo & the Bunnymen reference.

The Henderson Elementary School in Dauphin, for reasons I don't really want to think about for too long, suggested "Purification Day"; the New Hope Christian School in Kleefeld suggested "Prime Rose Day". I don't even know what these mean. I'm sure they're well-intentioned, though.

The Wanipigow School, up in Wanipigow, suggested "Family First Friday"; I think what must have happened is that everybody liked the name but nobody had the heart to tell them that the holiday is a Monday. Sorry, guys. Keep that one handy for next time, though.

The Crystal City Early Years School, down in Crystal City, suggested "Crocus Day"; admittedly the Crocus is still our provincial flower, but they really have to have known that this was a doomed suggestion right from the beginning. Nice try, Crystal City Early Years School! Good luck getting our governing NDP to blurt that holiday name out! You'd have had just as much luck suggesting they name it "Gage Guimond Day", "Hallway Medicine Monday", or "Lake Winnipeg is Rapidly Dissolving into a Toxic Cesspool and Our Elected Leaders Remain Frighteningly Inactive But Never Mind All That Because Here is a Brief Respite From Work Day".

(Okay, so that last one might be a bit long too. "Hey, Kyle, wanna chip in for beer? We're having a party on...")

I may poke fun, a bit, but I appreciate the effort that went into all of these ideas; it's nice to get students active in, or at least thinking about, the kind of decisions that will be remembered and relevent decades from now.

But then, there are some things -- like, say, "Chil-Lax" -- that will never cease to irk me. And when I say that I am thinking specifically of Balmoral Hall School and of Gray Academy, because both Balmoral Hall School and Gray Academy put forward the idea that our newly-minted and much-anticipated February holiday should be called -- wait for it, this one is going to hurt -- "Spirited Energy Day".







oh god these children are our leaders of tomorrow noooooooooooo

Ah, well. I'll get over it. Thanks for your input, schools!

Regardless of what we're now calling it, we all finally have something to look forward to in February -- besides the commercialisation-induced anxiety or the crippling loneliness of each Valentine's Day, I mean -- and we're making at least the minimum effort to maintain the legacy of one of our own homegrown legends.

(Which one of you just blurted out "Burton Cummings"? Don't make me come back there!)

So to commemorate the establishment of a new day off, and since I'm digging through my catalogs anyway, here are a couple of fittingly titled ska songs from years past:

The Planet Smashers - Holiday (Life of the Party, 1999)
[buy | site | myspace]

Fighting Gravity - All I Need is a Holiday (Shishskabob, 1992)
[buy | site | myspace]

And if you're concerned that the two songs above sound kind of same-y, or that all ska bands basically sound alike, then the Cheapskates have you covered:

The Cheapskates - All Our Songs Sound the Same (Nobody's Prefect EP, 2001)
[buy | holy crap it is hard to find anything about these guys online]

Well, I think that covers that topic pretty thoroughly. And if any fine readers out there harbour any misgivings about the new holiday's name, don't fret; take a breath, think about how happy you'll be to have that statutory off, and remember -- it's not the destination, it's the Journée!

Yeah, I know. I caved. I'm sorry.

Here it is. God, I'm so weak.

Of Montreal with Jason NeSmith - Don't Stop Believing (Journey Cover) (Live at the 40 Watt, 2007)
[video | site | myspace]

Back into my pile of CDs I go! If nobody hears from me in the next few days, send a rescue team!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Think I Need a New Hobby

Today I threw a van's worth of stuff together, loaded it up and drove it across to my next place of residence. So I've already started the moving process and I'm already getting into the moving mindset, and with this moving mindset comes the impulse to turn things upside down and make sure you have everything.

Also: when I'm not steadily employed (and suddenly I'm not, as I mentioned last post), I tend to gravitate towards nocturnal patterns. I get myself good and turned around, stay up all night and then sleep through anything of importance when the sun is actually out.

So, since I'm going to be moving everything eventually, and since I'm going to be up all night tonight anyway, I decided that -- hey, why not? -- this will finally be the night I set up a spreadsheet on my computer to find out once and for all how many CDs I actually own.

Granted, I'm under the impression that I own quite a few, so this could be a bit of an undertaking. Also granted, I actually had a few different collections scattered about the house. But I dutifully compiled every music CD I own into one place, threw it onto my bed for now, and--

--oh. Huh.

Am I sure there are no computer CDs in there, nothing burnt, noth--no? No. Those are all actual legal music CDs. In fact, this picture is only my CDs -- I have significant collections of cassettes and records that I'm not piling in.

My. Well.

Then I guess I do own a lot of CDs. In retrospect, I shouldn't act like I'm surprised when I try to photograph the pile and the pile actually reflects the flash up along the wall and right to the ceiling.

Nor should I act surprised that the pile is actually seven or eight CDs deep at its thickest, and that's even after spreading it across an entire double bed.

Nothing out of the ordinary!

And I definitely shouldn't act surprised that my cat is thoroughly unimpressed with the whole affair because the CDs have the gall to cover right where he would normally nap.

It can be said, at the very least, that I don't halfass it when I decide something needs to be done. It's a good thing I have nothing pressing to attend to tonight, or tomorrow... or...

Why did I put all of these on my bed?

Lest you assume the whole thing will leave you out in the cold, reading public, fear not; since I'm going through every CD I own anyway, I'll see fit to grab a track here and there to throw up onto this fine site.

And don't feel bad about downloading whatever songs I put up; considering the pictures above, you should never let anybody tell you that music sharing stops people from purchasing CDs. If it did, my bed would currently hold ten CDs and a sleeping cat. Which would be a lot easier to move from one house to another, now that I think about it -- but alas. I am what I am.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Turbulent Week

Good evening. It's been a while, hasn't it? Mine has been a life of turmoil and chicanery, of late, so let's get caught up.


I had a brief flash of curiosity about the fallout of that Quebec byelection; imagine my surprise to read the followup news reports and see Stephane Dion accepting full responsibility for the Liberals' ill fates that previous night.

Now, keep in mind that I'm twenty-three years old; I don't think I've ever seen a Liberal leader take responsibility for anything in my lifetime. Granted that this is probably because Jean Chretien headed the Liberals for over thirteen of those years, and Jean Chretien never met a problem he couldn't either purchase or punch his way out of.

Good on Dion for doing such a thing, of course, but the shock of the whole affair understandably left me incapacitated for the rest of the night. I mean, the very idea.


As you'll recall, Wednesday was the NHL exhibition game between the Coyotes and the Leafs at the MTS Centre.

I wasn't actually inside the arena for the game; by the time I remembered it was happening most everything was sold out, and besides, between the two teams' rosters there are maybe six players I care about.

(Georges Laraque, Alex Steen, Kyle Wellwood... who else... Shane Doan, although that was mostly for his accidental political hilarity last year... I like Mats Sundin, I guess... and, uh... okay, there are five. Hey, I tried!)

But on the way home from work that day, just all of a sudden and out of the blue, I thought to myself -- "hey, wait a minute! That exhibition game is tonight! And I own a guitar!"

Yes, this is genuinely what I did. As soon as I got off that bus and got home (which takes a while, mind you -- my god but our transit system is abhorrent), I set to work; I printed off a few tabs to quickly study en route, tuned my acoustic guitar, and set out downtown.

It went pretty well; it was a nice night, the game was being shown on the building's external bigscreen (!!), and in between periods I caught a few bucks from passersby.

I was pretty rusty, actually; I hadn't played anything on the acoustic in a good long time, and it took me a while to get back into form. Fortunately -- or distressingly, I'm not sure which -- nobody seemed able to tell the difference, and the scratch I made playing an initially shaky rendition of Stompin' Tom's "The Hockey Song" at the end of the night effectively doubled what I'd made to that point.


$24.26 garnered over the span of three hours -- which means about fourty-five minutes of actual playing time, and the rest of the time spent sitting and watching a hockey game I would have sat and watched anyway. I also got a complimentary hot dog, valued at $2.75, and a pack of smokes with one smoke still in it. (Mind you, I don't smoke -- but thanks anyway, random guy!) Not bad for a guy who started the night actually whiffing some of his chords.

If you're wondering -- I took some of my spoils and bought cat food, which is why there's a receipt in that picture. Nothing screams 'damn right I am a rock star' like paying for a bag of cat food with seven dollars in small change. I'm big time, baby! Whoo!


I spent all Thursday holed up at home working on a different writing project entirely. I can tell you about that one later. Be patient with me.


Remember back in the summer when my temp job kept getting extended and I ended up working through the entire summer, a notion I wasn't all too pleased with? Well -- ha ha -- at the end my shift on Friday I was abruptly informed that my position had now expired, five months and three weeks into what should have been a seven-week stay.

Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha. I figure there must be some sort of actual employee benefits that kick in after six months at the same place, and that said hypothetical benefits were why they had to jettison me after all of that. Lucky me! Boy, I can't wait to get out and enjoy that October sunshine! Ha ha! Kill me!

Saturday and Sunday.

As a bit of background, I had decided months ago that the end of September would be when I would move back to my Mom's house and start the long haul of saving up money for another run at postsecondary education. (My initial degree has been quite thoroughly useless, and any skeptic who doubts this claim would be quickly convinced by one look at my resume to date.) I don't know where I'm going to go yet -- there are a lot of options, and currently I can't afford a damn one of them -- but I know for certain I have to start scrounging some scratch if I'm going to make it to one of them.

Well, the end of September is now almost upon us; quite serendipitous that my current job dried up a week before the intended move time. I know full well that I've accomplished a great deal with my life since graduating, and I know full well that everything that I'm doing I'm doing for right and justifiable reasons, but nothing makes a man feel small and pitiful quite like the knowledge that he's about to be unemployed and living with his parents.

And I guess I'll be missing both the Loreena McKennitt and Chris Cornell concerts; I mean, I was going to automatically miss one of the two anyway, but fifty bucks is a lot of money to throw at a concert ticket when you don't know how you're going to recoup the cost later.

So the hell with it all, I said, and I spent the weekend asleep. You would have, too. It was for the best.


Ha ha. Ha. Ha.

So today I got a call from the temp agency. Starting next Monday they're sending me right back to the same company, at the same building, for the same payrate -- in a slightly different department.

Ha, ha, ha. Boy, are you guys ever lucky that I desperately need money to escape the lightless pit of my current employment prospects! Semper fidelis, I guess!

So anyway!

To answer your question, gentle reader, yes, I have been very busy. And next Monday I start all over again from day one, working at a not-exactly-new job and living at a not-exactly-new place.

In the meantime, I'll have a lot of moving to do before then -- but I'll also do my best to get plenty of blogging done too, during this downtime, and I may have a couple of choice declarations to make by this coming Thursday or Friday.

Ah, life.