Monday, October 19, 2009

James Howard Just Does Everything at Once

Man, time flies around here! I had a whole bunch of stuff to talk about a few days ago, but then I was working full eight-hour days and helping people move and going to bonfires and trying out this video game where you punch people in the face -- and then here I am and all of a sudden it's Monday, which must be the fault of that dadgum Daylight Savings Time I've heard about.

Anyway! We've got lots of ground to cover, so let's start with some uncharacteristically literary perspective out of me.

Uptown Magazine! Willy-nilly-silly old bear!

You can find my column for the most recent edition here, covering the sudden proliferation of inevitably terrible sequels in a variety of mediums. Remember when it was just movies that did this? Then movies and video games? Then the Goosebumps series? (Yes! Big slam on Goosebumps from out of nowhere! Ha ha ha ha oh man did that series go downhill.)

I had originally written "fanfiction" at the end of that ninth paragraph, but in the editing process I'd imagine somebody ran a spellcheck and found that the word doesn't actually exist in any respectable dictionary. So in the final product it came out as "fans-fiction" -- and you know what? That's actually even funnier, if you read it in the rambling half-senile kind of way that makes all of my columns better. You kids these days 'n yer fans-fiction!

That column ran last Thursday, which turned out to be quite the busy day for me. Because this past Thursday I took an early lunch (and one of the very nice available staff cameras -- shh!) and attended the Red River College ribbonchain-cutting ceremony at the Union Bank. I am sort of RRC staff right now, so why not show a bit of solidarity? Yeah! Go team!

The bigger picture of what you need to know about the event has been well covered since then, by the mainstream media and by fine local blogging, so I'll skip all that stuff. Instead I'll cover the finer details missed by other communication outlets, because A) I am a details kind of guy and B) I need to find something to contribute if I'm going to show up to the party four days late.

Here's what you missed, in a haphazard half-point-form:

-- The event actually had a pretty respectable turnout, considering how bizarrely cold the wind was that day. (And putting aside for the moment that every third or fourth person seemed to be media, although I guess at the time I probably seemed to be media that day too.)

-- Vic Toews got in a cute one-liner about how he should have brought one of those oversized branded novelty cheques.

-- Red River College President Jeff Zabudsky can rock a pinstriped suit like nobody's business, which Graham at Progressive Winnipeg actually did mention but which bears repeating. So that's what having money must be like!

-- The bricks along the exterior walls of the building have some interestingly hypnotic effects if you stare at 'em long enough.

-- Ron Lemieux dresses like a guy you would absolutely never want to cut off in traffic.

Bad. Ass. Now that is a god damn tie, let me tell you.

I actually feel a little bad about this picture, because everybody in it looks like they're doing something ridiculous; Sam Katz looks like he's contemplating the inevitable heat death of the universe, Paterson GlobalFoods CEO Andrew Paterson appears to be eating an invisible chicken leg, and Lemieux is acting out the pause between "If you smell what the Rock" and "is cooking". He pulls it off, though! You can pull anything off when you're wearing a full-length 100% leather coat and a tie with the same pattern as the poison spells from Super Nintendo games. Mayor Katz showed up with a grey raincoat and, apparently, a look of stunned horror. Which brings me to my next point:

-- You don't really notice when you're actually taking pictures with Sam Katz in them, but the more you look at your own photographs afterwards the more you realize that he really only has the two facial expressions. He either looks really strained or really happy, and there is no real middle ground between the two.

Try it out for yourself next time you see him, let me know what you make of it.

-- Unless you already have the building chained up beforehand -- and they didn't -- staging a "chain-cutting ceremony" involves setting up the chain yourself.

No, no, you hold this, you grab that end, everybody line up like--

okay good everybody good no wait wait wait

-- Also, four out of five bolt cutters work properly on first use. Little known fact.

Sorry, Mayor! Luck of the draw with these things.

So with the chain officially broken to open the doors (I know, I know, but humour me), we in attendance actually got to go inside the building and have a look at what seventeen years of neglect can c--




It was actually pretty funny, the building had the one security guard just milling around this table to make sure nobody made off with the helmets, but several different people just kept coming up and asking her ab--

Oh, right, the building. Man, I'm bad at this.

So, yeah, the place has seen better days. Even through the dilapidation, though, you can see how the building's got a really interesting vibe. And the chandeliers were in pretty good condition, too!

Well... mostly.

There isn't any camera trickery or anything going on in this shot, I actually am just this tall. This is what every day looks like for me. I don't know why Bartley Kives looks so completely unimpressed with me in this photo, though.



The main centerpiece, which we weren't supposed to walk past, was the concept renders for the exterior; the interior concept designs were on a table to the right of the displays, looking quite nice (if distinctly like something out of ReBoot).

My suspicion is somebody in construction got a good talking-to after the event, though, because there was one small but noticeable oversight on the table:

Ha ha, whoops. That's going to be an awkward conversation with the event planners. I would have investigated the matter further myself, but... well, I only do get fourty-five minutes for lunch. Sorry, journalistic integrity, but a brother's gotta eat.

A good event all around, though! There was a definite excitement going around about, holy crow, something actually happening downtown, and I'm totally stoked to see all the best from this project. And I'm not just saying that because the College is temporarily signing my cheques! I like to think it's well established that I'm rooting for downtown to succeed, despite itself, and it's good to see substantial improvements going on that don't involve the same couple of nightclubs renaming themselves every year or two.

But here's a downtown development that I didn't see coming:

Oh my god there is actually a store in the old A&B Sound building. Guys, guys! This is a big deal for me! I've spent the last few years openly loathing this piece of blight, and the idea that it's finally going to operate as part of a revitalized...

What? It's a... it's a Halloween costume outlet? Run by who? San Francisco?



Oh, well. It ended the streak at four years of abandonment, at least! Now we get to reset the counter and start over.

Well, I'd say this is a pretty good catchup post, right here. Just to close it off: The Guiding Light, "Captain" Lou Albano, died this past week, which was poignant but not unexpected given the earlier news of his prolonged illness. He lived to be seventy-six, which is a ripe old age for any man his size, and especially so considering the usual mortality rates of professional wrestlers.

As a now-grown man who enjoys professional wrestling, who owns the complete Super Mario Brothers Super Show on DVD, and who loves the nickname "The Guiding Light" (I swear, I would have people call me that on the street if I thought anybody would play along), Lou Albano was a pretty sizeable titan of my childhood. Is there any fitting way to play him off? Oh, you know there is!

NRBQ with "Captain" Lou Albano - Captain Lou (Lou and the Q, 1986)
[buy | site | music video]

I don't care how many times I listen to it, hearing him cackle at the end and blurt out "I AM THE GUIDING LIGHT" is always going to make me smile. Bless that man.

Well, I'd say that was a productive post! Let's see if I can keep them a little shorter and swifter in the future.


Anonymous said...

It looks more like I'm eyeing up a cup of hot chocolate or a sandwich.

I was pretty hungry.


James Howard said...

Yeah, I've been there. You know you're desperate when a half-cup of abandoned coffee starts to look good.