Saturday, March 10, 2007

Toys for Boys is almost over.

I've done my last Toys For Boysd event until the party, so I finally have a weekend to relax. Doc is out at Performance Mazda until 3:00 right now, giving away two of the last keys.

Last night was my final event, Sub Zero hot tubs. It turned out to be a little bit difficult to find, since it is hidden in a mall just off Innes and Youville behind the Home Depot. Which meant that, pressed for time as I was, I missed it on the way by.

Upon reaching Orleans, I felt as though I had gone too far. But, worrying about time, I decided it must be a bit further, and I kept going. I managed to get to some city that was not Orleans, and I realized it was time to turn around. A quick phone call to the station, and back toward the queensway. At a speed that was safe, of course, but still slightly above the posted limit, I made it with six minutes to spare before my first cut-in.

Of course, the good people who work with me have no faith in me, so they had gone ahead and cancelled that first cut-in. I was disappointed, because my brain works very well at 150 km/h, and I had a really good one planned. This also meant that we extended our hours to 7:30, and gave people that extra 1/2 hour to grab their bonus code and get in on the draw. No faith!

Another successful event, but I expect Doc will be twice as swamped as I was today at Performance Mazda. They're our biggest sponsor, it's the last event, it's a Saturday, and, people want to meet him more than they want to meet me.

Sub Zero is giving us a hot tub and a pool table. I was provided with a list of features of the tub and pool table, but who cares, really? It's a pool table and a hot tub. They sell themselves. Easy as pie. Except for my last cut-in, where I sleepily made a bizarre reference to Persian rug makers.

Now, just looking forward to the party on March 22nd at the casino, and it's all over. Someone leaves with more than 100 grand in prizes, and I will leave wit a desperate desire to sleep and a nice buzz.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Round two...this time with Mom.

My mom lives around the corner from the Parkdale, which is of course where I grew up. She tells me that many of my old friends and neighbours have visited the Asspirations display, with various reactions, mostly positive!

I was there to have my picture taken by a Sun photographer, for the story they are planning to run. I have no idea when that will take place, but I can only assume it will happen between now and Monday.

Oh, just got off the phone with Dennis Armstrong of the Sun. The story will appear in Friday morning's paper. I won't describe the photo that will run with it, but I will say this. Rarely in my life have I had the opportunity to stress my mother out to the extent I did while that picture was being taken. In fact, I managed to freak out both my mother and a large portion of Mechanicsville.

James Robinson, curator of the Parkdale, told me that by and large, the reaction to my work (even from my mom) has been positive. Even the other artists at the gallery have suggested that the paintings are not bad at all, and they all expected them to be quite bad.

While you're at the Parkdale, check out the other art, it's fantastic. James himself paints masks and portraits, and he has two pieces I especially like. One with all Lego figures, and one of Ken Dryden leaning on his stick. There's another guy named Vaz who does a really cool style of painting, with metal for the canvas and what I can only describe as electrical-looking paint. He has a really cool looking piece that depicts musical instruments - drums, and a guitar, and stuff like that.

James has invited all the artists currently on display at the gallery to attend the showing on Monday, and I think it'll be great to have them there to talk about their own work, with so many people looking at it.

The dog seems to have got over his aversion to my paintings, and is once again friendly with me. Either they don't have staying power, or the smell of ass has faded.

We talked about art, and I was surprised to find I had similar opinions to established artists. James and I talked about the elephants and monkeys in zoos who are given a paintbrush and paint, and their works sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Why? Who cares that it was done by a monkey, sucks is still sucks.

There's another guy my dad was telling me about, in the prairies somewhere, who looks at a landscape, then blindfolds himself, then paints that landscape. Do you really want that guy's paintings? Wouldn't they be much better if he was just painting it WHILE he looked at it? Same thing with the ass art. This "other" butt painter in the States paints actual objects, like barns or tulips. But wouldn't a real artist, with a brush and his hand, paint a better tulip than the ass guy? So if you want a picture of a tulip, wouldn't you just buy the good one, no matter how it had been created?

That's why abstract is the only way to go with butt painting. If the legitimacy of something is more tied to the manner in which it is produced to the creation it produces, there has to be some kind of reason to like it. And the juxtaposition of colours, the freedom of expression, and the artistic feel are the reasons to like a butt painting, not whether or not it looks like something else.

After viewing the paintings (and my scandalous photo shoot) I went to the Carleton for another delicious smked meat sandwich with my mom. She told me she is selling her house and moving to Kingston. She would not elaborate much. This may have been a decision that had been planned for a long time. Or, it was a decision made on the spur of the moment, upon realizing she was living in the same city as a son with whom it was too embarrassing to be associated.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Who do I believe...my dad or the dog?

I met my dad at the Carleton Tavern yesterday, which is where we meet now and again when he's in town from Saskatchewan. He lives in D'Arcy, which is a small town between Rosetown and Kindersley. Which are small towns between Saskatoon and nowhere. I believe the popluation of D'Arcy fluctuates between 11-18, depending on how many of the kids are home for Christmas.

My dad is very active in the town hall meetings, where important issues arise. The last important issue was how much of the budget should be allocated to purchase new tables for the church. That meeting began in June, and for all my I know, it is still an ongoing source of contention between the warring factions in D'Arcy. Or maybe they've worked out their differences.

Anyway, my dad had visited the Parkdale gallery before meeting me for a delicious smoked meat sandwich. He told me that the art he had seen was surprisingly good, by which he of course meant that he had expected it to REALLY suck, and it turned out that it only KINDA sucked. He also mentioned that when he last visited my sister in North Bay, they had checked out my ass-painting video together, which sparked a reaction of laughter from dad, and one of dry heaving from my sister.

We headed to the gallery next, since I had yet to see my exhibit, and met James Robinson, the director of the gallery. There is some really remarkable art in that place, and a lot of paintings that I thought were amazing. And many of those paintings weren't even my own!

There were even ladies there perusing my art, and they all suggested that yes, it was in fact better than they had originally surmised. Three more women showed up and said the same. Then a nice young couple came by and concurred. I don't know if they were all being nice, but I trust James' opinion, and he said he had turned away some art at the gallery that was actually worse than mine. I believed this, but that didn't tell me too much. Had he accepted any art at the gallery that was worse than mine? Doubtful.

Everyone who was there made a generous donation to CHEO before they left, which was wonderful. I think we'll be close to the 30,000 dollars we're aiming for soon enough. We're trying to buy a tri-gen nail system for the operating rooms at CHEO, and they cost thirty grand. We're at about 20 right now, and who knows? Maybe this "Asspirations Of An Intern" might put us over the top.

James did tell me one thing, which I wasn't sure how to take. He has a dog that wanders about the gallery, and he says that it is trained to stay away from the paintings on the wall. For the most part, it ignores the paintings, but apparently, not mine. When James hung my art on the wall, the dog stared at it, then growled at it, barked, paced in circles, and basically freaked out. The dog, for a while, kept James from approaching the stage where the art was hung.

This means one of three things. Either the dog is an art critic who hates my work, or the art is so powerful that it can evoke a strong emotion in both people and animals, or the third possibility. The dog could smell my butt on the canvas.

This morning, I received an email from one of the real artists who has work hung up in the Parkdale. He said thanks for mentioning the other art that was hung in there, and perhaps we'll have a beer together at the big showing on the 12th. I'll ask him how the dog reacted to his work. I bet it wasn't as exciting. HIS stuff didn't smell like ass.

Monday, March 5, 2007

I am perplexed in many ways by Canadians.

OK, I'm sick of Canada. Not the country itself, or it's delicious Alberta beef, PEI potatoes, or eclairs from Gatineau. No, I'm sick of our national identity being that of a noisy, irritating little brother to the United States.

Nothing bothers me more than when people say "did you know Jim Carrey is a Canadian?", or "Neil Young is from Winnipeg, you know". Of course, I'm more irritated when they mention Rush or Celine Dion or Bryan Adams or Pamela Anderson, and hold up these people as shining examples that yes, we Canadians can be famous and wonderful too!

This once again annoyed me during Oscar time. First of all, we're nominated for an Oscar! In foreign language film! Deepa Mehta's Water was a sensational film, directed by an Indian woman who lives in Canada, filmed in an Indian language, in India and Sri Lanka, and mentions Canada in passing on the DVD box. It's ours!

Now we've won one. Best animated short film. It's called The Danish Poet. It couldn't be called The Canadian Poet, of course, because what American would watch a short animated film about Robert Service? Hmmm. Come to think of it, what American would watch an animated short film? What Canadian would, for that matter? When it comes to Oscars, Best Animated Short Film is a category akin to Best Handstand at a wet T-Shirt contest. It's basically one of those "participation" awards I used to get in Grade four.

So who sits at home watching the Oscars, and waits with breathless anticipation for the announcement of the winner of the Best Animated Short Film award? Well, friends and family of Torill Kove, the Canadian filmmaker who won. And those friends and family are Canadian! Well, not really. She's Norwegian, and they're...also Norwegian. She isn't a Canadian citizen. But the MOVIE is Canadian! Well...no...she says the fim is 100 percent Norwegian. Except the "Danish" in the title. But she's lived in Montreal for a little while. Canada won an Oscar! Yay!

Radio stations are required, by the government, to play 35 percent Canadian music. Which is fine for a station like CHEZ, because there is a lot of Neil Young, BTO and Guess Who music we can go through. But all this does with the stations that play "new" music is create an environment where instead of hearing any new, exciting Canadian bands, like Broken Social Scene or Godspeed! You Black Emperor, you get fed a diet of Nickelback, or Celine Dion, or Avril Lavigne, or Shania Twain, over and over and over, depending on what kind of station you are.

And this creates my biggest pet peeve. There is nothing worse for Canada's music community (or, artistic community in general) than the blanket acceptance of all things Canadian. Are we to love and support Nickelback and Shania Twain simply because they were born and created in the same country in which we were born and created?

I had this conversation with someone the other day. I will try to relate it word-for-word, although it WAS over beers, and my memory is hazy.

He said "you can't hate Rush. I mean, you HAVE to like them - they're Canadian!"
I said "That doesn't mean I have to like them. In fact, I am more likely to dislike them BECAUSE they're Canadian."
He was flabbergasted. "But what about Blue Rodeo"
"Meh."
"Tragically Hip?"
"Meh."
"Honeymoon Suite?"
"Garbage."
"Barenaked Ladies!"
"They're terrible."
"Triumph?"
"Hahaha. Come on."

I tried to explain that the only way to create a great music scene in Canada is to force musicians to create great music. Just accepting Nickelback because they're Canadian, and playing the crap out of them, does nothing for Canada. In fact, it weakens our music system. As long as that band is successful, other bands will merely imitate them, and be equally, if not more, awful. This explains Theory of a Deadman, Default, and countless others.

We must hold our own music to a higher standard. Maybe not a higher standard than other music, but definitely a higher standard than we currently do. That way, if people want to get by in Canada with their music, they'll have to actually make it GOOD.

Suggesting I should accept Rush, and Terry Jacks, and Celine Dion, and that I should buy all their albums simply because of their heritage is foolish. I tried to explain to this gentleman that this is kind of like saying "That Paul Bernardo guy's not that bad. Give him a break, he's Canadian!" "Did you know Robert Pickton is from CANADA!" Hooray.

Pride in one's country is a good thing. But be proud when we win an Olympic medal. Be proud when we decline to send troops to Iraq. Be proud of our health care system, and the fact that we care about the environment. Don't be proud that we produced Nickelback. I, for one, am ashamed.

Anna Nicole Smith and the Little Mermaid

Yesterday I sat through The Little Mermaid on TV. I realized that Disney is partially, if not entirely, reponsible for the bizarre expectations of women my age. Has there ever been a Disney movie involving a female protagonist where she didn't lust after, and subsequently marry, a prince? She's always some lowly girl who does menial jobs, but somehow captivates the attention of a handsome prince, then almost loses him, then marries him and lives happily ever after.

The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty...so on and so forth. And vice versa for male protagonists. Aladdin marries a princess. Go figure. So this makes royalty the ultimate end goal for women of today who were girls in the time of The Little Mermaid. Just once, it would be nice if the guy who was shipwrecked and met the little mermaid and fell in love with the little mermaid was a bricklayer from New Jersey. Or a door-to-door knife salesman from Kamloops. Or a porn actor. Or SOMETHING else.

I know, I know, these are all movies based on fairy tales, and you can't expect much more when the stories were written two hundred years ago and that was the standard of excellence. But the obsession women have with being princesses is no less creepy today.

Remember when Prince Harry was the "World's Most Eligible Bachelor"? Hmmmm. I guess because he is so attractive. No...he's fairly homely in a Pete Townshend sort of way. Maybe because he's so charming. No...never really heard him speak. He has some amazing talent that draws women to him? Like he's in a band, or he writes poetry, or he's a superb cricket player? No...never heard about that...Maybe it's because he's a prince. Bingo!

The latest example of this obsessive desire to be princessish and royal manifested itself in the form of Anna Nicole Smith and the ridiculous spectacle that was her funeral. She was dressed, of course, as a princess. Her idol was Marilyn Monroe, but her dream, her REAL dream, ever since she was a little girl, was to be a princess. So perhaps in some way she also idolized Grace Kelly. And Grace Kelly, pound for pound, kicks Marilyn Monroe's ass any day.

She may not have married a prince, but we will all remember Anna Nicole Smith, mostly because of who she DID marry. Only the most naive and dim-witted individuals ever believed that she married her 104-year-old husband for love. The man had billions of dollars, and she had giant boobs. A match made in heaven. So...the lesson to be learned here is: If you can't find a prince, find a guy who's really rich, it's close enough. In fact, it's even better than marrying a prince from one of the poorer countries. Mission accomplished, Anna Nicole Smith.

So, her dream was finally fulfilled, as she was laid to rest in a specially designed, commissioned pink dress and a tiara. Princess at last, albeit in death. Delusions that may well have begun in childhood. And delusions that may or may not have gone hand-in-hand with the bizarre behaviour and drug abuse. Truly, the bizarre behaviour, the drugs, the stupidity of her life was (I speculate) a result of the same thing that makes women long to be a princess. The desire for the spotlight. Make me a star!

I will say one thing for good ol' Anna Nicole, though. In one area of her life, she certainly made the right choice. John Travolta recently made a statement that had Anna Nicole attended Scientology rehab, she could have been saved. As opposed, I suppose, to the "crystal meth bender" rehab she attended instead. Apparently Scientology either attracts or creates so many drug addicts that they need their own rehab centre. But they're not a cult.

Travolta says that he met Smith while shooting the movie Be Cool. We can only surmise at this point that he and the rest of the kool-aid brigade attempted to convince her to join, but were unsuccessful. Maybe she was too far gone for even the Raelian crew. Which brings me to the one smart, honourable thing Anna Nicole Smith ever did with her life, as was put to me by one of our funnier listeners on Friday.

She chose drugs over Scientology. Well done, and farewell, sweet princess. May your very rich baby turn out to be mine after a DNA test.

Motorsports World

Have you seen The Godfather Part II? No? well you should. It's great. And there's a scene in it where Robert DeNiro, playing the young Vito Corleone, walks through a market place in Sicily, and all the vendors stop him to offer him their goods as he passes through. In a surreal sort of way, I felt like Don Corleone on Saturday.

I was at Motorsports World, the motorcycle shop that provided us with the Suziki Ghost Flame limited edition motorcycle for Toys For Boys. Lots of cool bikes, and a staff that was knowledgeable enough about them to explain many things that I previously did not understand about the motorcycle culture.

It was from 11-3, and at about 1:00, a succession of people came in bearing gifts. I was amazed! Coffees, food, cookies, a cuban cigar...people are great. And then, finally, a young boy, who was probably about 9 or 10 years old, brought me the coolest gift of all. A butt painting. He had clearly been so inspired by the exhibit that I am about to unveil later today that he wanted to do the same, and had a great time at home creating his own masterwork. And it was pretty good! He had even signed it "Steven Savary", and had created a symbol for his name, a-la-Prince, and handed it to me complete with frame!

I brought it in to show the guys this morning, but then I'm taking it home. The rest of the event was excellent, as many Platinum Nation members stopped by to get bonus codes and check out the bikes. Our nation knows a heck of a lot more about motorcycles than I do.

The picture is going up on my wall when I get home, and it will hang there as I eat cookies, smoke a cigar, and watch Notorious.

Bathrooms First.

I did two of our Toys For Boys live commercials on the weekend. Bathrooms First was on Friday night, and Motorsports World was on Saturday.

Of course, Friday the commercial started at 3:00, in the middle of that brutal snowstorm. I left my house in Kanata at 1:00, to give myself plenty of time, and it actually took me two hours to get there. Unreal driving that day. I figured we'd have next to no people coming out with the weather, but there were still nearly 200. I was not looking forward to the drive home, but by the time I left, the roads were clear, like nothing had even happened.

Bathrooms First has a really cool showroom, and a ton of stuff I might actually want in my bathroom. If I didn't rent. They are giving away a $10,000 bathroom makeover as part of the Toys For Boys prize package, and it almost seems worth your while to buy a house for it. Almost. Then again, there are some crazily expensive items for the people who are so rich that they can get them just because. And THOSE are the ones I would get. If I won Toys For Boys. If I was allowed to win.

I have never before seen a 500 dollar toilet paper holder. Or a 500 dollar towel rack. I thought perhaps they were diamond-encrusted, but no. They are just really nice. The toilet paper holder, they tell me, is that expensive because it's perfectly balanced. It knows when you're trying to pull TP off the roll, and also when you're pulling a little harder to break off that TP. Isn't technology super?

There is also what basically amounts to a bidet, but it has an extendable rod that comes out from under the seat when you need to use it, and sprays you down with water. You can adjust the temperature of the water, and the volume, and the flow, and the location, everything. And what really makes this product awesome is that you can use it with a remote control. So you may want to think twice about purchasing the thing if you have a wife...she may no longer need you.

I would buy it though - I don't think I'd ever use it myself, but if I had buddies over, and they imbibed too much, and the next morning they were down, praying to the porcelain god, I'd use the remote control function and spray them in the face. You see? This is the freedom you have to spend your money on frivolous and stupid things if you win Toys For Boys!