Saturday, March 24, 2007

A cheaper alternative to jewelry...

Coming soon to cynical cinema...Blood Diamond. Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, in a story that exposes the diamond trade in Sierra Leone at the turn of the millenium. DiCaprio is good, because he's actually a good actor, and Hounsou is good, because he's played that exact same character so many times now he can do it in his sleep. But that's not why I'm writing about it.

No, I feel I should get the message out there as soon as possible, as a public service. Normally, I wouldn't say this about a movie that involved genocide and the hacking off of kids' arms, but Blood Diamond is the perfect date movie.

For years and years now, I have asserted to many a girl that I have never, won't now, and WILL never buy a diamond for anyone. I think the theory that a guy should spend three months of his salary, whatever that may be, is reason enough never to purchase one of these idiotic items.

Even when I was making minimum wage, three months ago, three months salary would have been about $3,500.00. What person making minimum wage can afford 3 grand? Even on a car, that's a purchase way out of my scope as a minimum wage worker. And the idea I should spend that much to make my girlfriend's finger a little prettier? Asinine.

But that was merely an objection to marketing and consumer idiocy on my part. The real objection comes from genocide. In my view, anyone who buys a diamond, no matter where that diamond comes from, is encouraging genocide. I know, you can have a certified, made-in-Canada diamond, that comes with it's own certificate and costs 20 percent more. Fine.

But even buying THAT diamond adds to the problem. You are still buying into the culture fabricated by DeBeers and their ilk. If you want to boycott the Gap because they run sweatshops, that's fine. But if the Gap starts a little table inside the door selling woolen mittens that were knitted by Aunt Ginnie down in Pembroke, you can't buy those either. Your money is still going to the Gap, and they are justified in continuing to run their sweatshops.

So it doesn't matter that your Gap purchase wasn't painstakingly crafted by the tiny fingers of a 6-year-old Thai boy who works 16 hours a day for a dollar seventy-five. It goes to the same basic place. And it doesn't matter that the diamond you bought for 14 thousand dollars was mined by Gordy Canuck in BC somewhere, the money still goes to the same people who have looked the other way as Africa has been destroyed.

Rebel armies in Africa have made slaves of local villages to work in diamond mines for decades. To keep these villagers in line, they will take an anti-government stance. The government circulates innoculations against a virus. The solution? Chop off the kids arms where they have received that innoculation. Take that, government! The funds from the diamonds are then invested in more guns so the civil wars and the genocide can continue.

And make no mistake, the diamond companies for years have merely looked the other way. There are millions of diamonds every year that are certified as NOT being conflict diamonds that in fact ARE conflict diamonds, but through some fancy accounting, no one is the wiser. And no one looks terribly carefully, either. Most of these diamonds are not even sold, in fact. They are stockpiled and hidden, so the price of diamonds remains artificially high.

So, the way I see it, every time someone spends three months salary on an engagement ring, the DeBeers of the world see themselves as justified in doing what they can to increase their profits. Not that it's the fault of the man who buys it, per se, but I think if anyone knew, they would hold off on that purchase. If you knew a ring for your girlfriend costs someone else their arm, you wouldn't really buy it, no?

I have been trying to explain this for years. Girlfriend after girlfriend, and it was like beating my head against the wall. Because girls love the diamonds, and they aren't easily put off. They think I am exaggerating, because I'm too cheap to buy something with a diamond in it. Or they simply don't care. You can tell someone this stuff forever, and as long as they don't see it, they're OK. In fact, many of these girls I've struggled with have gone out of their way NOT to see it.

"Here's an article all about the civil wars and the diamond trade."
"Oh, I'm not reading that. It'd just depress me. So when am I getting that bracelet?"

These relationships did not last long. My current girlfriend, while she was a little skeptical and posed many objections concerning my views on diamonds, has at least accepted those views. So far so good.

But now, guys, there is a sneaky, underhanded and entirely effective way to turn your girl off diamonds forever. Pardon the pun. Blood Diamond actually shows you the results of the international trade, and you can't ignore it any more. This is why it's the perfect date movie. Here's what you do:

Pretend you don't know anything about it. Say "I heard it was kind of like a violent romantic comedy. Like if Tarantino directed Sleepless in Seattle." Or tell her the truth. Or whetever it takes. Lie if you have to, just get your girl to watch it!

After all - Diamond engagement ring: $18,500.00
Rogers video movie rental: $4.75

You do the math.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Certain common traits.

Doc told a story this morning about his wife-to be. There was a long power outage in Stittsville, lasting all the way until about 10:00 last night. So, wanting to ensure that Terry was able to see upon arriing home, Doc lit some candles. As I would have done for my girlfriend. Had he been single, he would have just gone to bed in the dark. As I would have had I been single.

But this did not work out. It would not have worked out for me either. Terry got upset, because the candles Doc used were from the LIVING room, and were not the cheaper ones from another area in the house. Which is exactly what my girlfriend would have done had I done the same.

You see, both these women have a thing with candles. One I assume many other women have as well, but I have yet to run into any others. What I don't get is how a girl can approach a candle as anything other than a means to an end - either light my room when it's dark, or make it smell good when it stinks.

But this is not always the case. Some candles, it turns out, are not for practical use, they are decorative. Therefore, the intention was never to burn them, or use them AS candles, but rather to use them as furniture and decorations.

I can actually picture my girlfriend getting just as angry about me burning certain candles to light the house as she would if I created a bonfire with our paintings to warm it. At least candels smell better when they burn than paintings. I think I have the luxury, however, of living in a house with so many candles that a few here and there would not be missed.

How can someone buy so many candles when they shop? I probably have it easy, really. She does not have closets full of shoes. She has a mere six pairs or so. But candles! I think I'm OK, and I don't want to rock the boat at the moment.

My suggestion to Doc, however, would be to find baseball gloves, bats, hockey masks, classic vinyl albums and maybe cheese graters and leave them on the mantel, on the shelves, and on top of the bookcases. Although I know Terry would have them cleaned up eleven seconds after he placed them there. But I would do it if I had to, and then suggest these things weren't for actual USE, but rather they were decorations for the house. Isn't it pretty!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

PETA is great.

I love PETA, because they are able to make themselves ridiculous almost every time they open their mouths. As Borat says, they are AGAINST cruelty to animals? Haha, crazy Americans, what are you gonna do?

It's not that they're against cruelty to animals. I can only assume everyone is, to some degree, against cruelty. I hope. No, it's that they're so ridiculous, and in some cases, funny about it.

These are the people who campaigned to death row officials to force prisoners to eat vegetarian for their traditional last meal. Because that would really show people how evil it is to kill animals for meat. See what happens? This man was so evil during his lifetime that he needs to be executed. And, to really drive that point home, we're going to force him to eat celery! take that, criminal! NO one likes vegetarian food! And you wanted lobster. Don't you know they scream when you boil them?

These are also the people who wanted the Green Bay Packers to change their team name, because 200 years ago there were meat packing plants in Green Bay, and the current name of the team may in some way be derived from those plants, which are now used for cheese. Cheese from defenseless cows! In fact, the Packers' fans wear cheese on their heads as a show of support for their team! Did someone obtain the cows' consent first? I think not!

Not that they are concerned about other team names in sports. Indians? Who cares? Braves? Not interested. Blackhawks? Doesn't affect animals. Redskins? As long as they're not talking about fox fur, no one important will be offended. This is the kind of logic PETA displays, which is ridiculous.

What makes them funny is the fact that they keep screwing things up. A bunch of PETA protesters open the doors of a pig sty to let the soon-to-be delicious pork run free. And are promptly trampled to death by the freed pigs, who are then rounded up and made into sausage anyway.

And what makes them irritating is that their biggest, most famous spokesperson is Pamela Anderson. Although she is irritating on her own, that is not the biggest reason. The biggest reason is that they keep taking their clothes off and demonstrating in the nude against things like the seal hunt. All this nudity, and so little of it is Pamela Anderson nudity! Irritating!

They are at least fairly good at getting publicity. Most of the world knows who PETA is by now. But the problem is it's mostly negative publicity. When the radio stations and TV shows and newspapers of the world discuss PETA, it's almost always to say: Look at the latest really stupid or asinine or bizarre or misguided thing they are doing! Aren't they ridiculous!

Which is what happened again this morning, as PETA sent us a T-Shirt with a bleeding Canadian flag that advertised their wishes to stop the seal hunt in Canada. Because stopping the genocide in Darfur is just human-on-human violence, and humans can defend themselves. So of course we jump on PETA again. Maybe that's just what they want, to get their name out however it might be done. Who knows? At least to us it's funny.

This of course led us to debate the seal hunt in an in-depth sort of way. Like, how many seal-skin jackets do you really see, and why don't we eat seal sandwiches at delis? What WOULD seal taste like?

Apparently a lot of people have tasted seal. We received one angry email, telling us we should be ashamed, and seven phone calls telling us how seal tastes. Mostly from Newfies, who apparently have a much larger percentage of the recommended daily intake of seal in their diets than do we Ontarians.

One guy said it tasted like reall lean ground beef. He had eaten it out of a tin. I found this surprising, as did Doc. Doc thought it would taste fishy, what with all the fish seals eat. And I thought it would taste fatty, what with all the fat seals have.

Another guy said his dad used to prepare seal meat, and it was very unpleasant to taste, and oily. This led Woody to speculate that maybe people shouldn't can seal meat with motor oil, and there was some conjecture over whether this man had tasted the seal during the days of the Exxon Valdez.

So I'm not sure if PETA's campaign is working the way they wrote it up - it may be backfiring, or maybe they subscribe to the theory that bad publicity is still publicity. Whatever. We will keep talking about them as long as they keep being ridiculous.

Toys For Boys

Toys For Boys, the big party at the casino, is tomorrow night. That means I will be sleeping all day tomorrow to prepare, and I will not be writing a blog about it, so I figured I'd get ahead of myself and write one today.

The reason I will be sleeping all day tomorrow, is just-in-case. Although the event starts at 6:00, and may well be done by 7:05, there is always the chance that we will go until midnight or past. One year, I was not home from Toys For Boys until 2 a.m., which is when I get up for work.

The reason is that it may take that long to find a winner. Every year, there is a giant board with hundreds of identical envelopes containing identical keys. 199 of those keys is useless, and one starts the motorcycle. We have to watch every key winner closely, to make sure they use the key properly.

The one year when we got home at 2, there were 270 people with keys, or thereabouts. The winning key was chosen 264th, or thereabouts. Which meant that as we got closer and closer to the end, from about 200 onward, our promo guys were sweating more and more profusely.

What if they had missed the right key? What if someone got the right one, didn't put it in the bike properly, and tossed it back in the box as they left the stage? What do we do if NONE of the keys starts the bike? We did everything right, didn't we?

Everything turned out OK. We HAD done everything right, it just took that long. In fact, in all the seven years or so of Toys For Boys, apparently the key has only once gone in the first hundred. I think the earliest it has ever gone was at #99. Perhaps this year we are due for a quick one. Key #4, then we all go home to bed.

But not likely. And I like sticking around at the casino, because they put on one heck of a party. The food is pretty good and plentiful, and the beer is always flowing and cold, and the set-up is tremendous. Every single prize in the Toys For Boys package is on display right there inside the room where we have the party, the loot bags are great (for the winners, not me) and everyone gets a card for the slot machines (except me).

On the plus side, Doc and Woody are the MCs, so conceivably, if it starts getting late, I can slip out unnoticed while they keep the event going. And then Friday morning, I may well be the only one coherent enough to make sense on the radio. If they get angry, I will tell them simply that it was in the best interests of the show.

The suckhole that is the Junos

As we talked to David Gogo this morning, we discussed the fact that he was recently nominated for a Juno. Best blues album, for his acoustic album. The other nominees in the category are Colin Linden, Colin James, and Roxanne Potvin. I thought, wow. There may actually be a category I care about at the Junos.

Having a category I care about does not make the Junos worth watching. Nothing worthwhile happens at the Junos. One crappy Canadian artist after another gets trotted out on stage for a performance, they all try to one-up each other, and away we go.

David made a good point about last year's Junos. Much as I dislike the Barenaked Ladies, they did something fairly cool last year. After the big fire-explosion Nickelback show, and Nelly Furtado's "I'm REALLY slutty, please like me" performance with seventy-four backup dancers, The Barenaked Ladies came out and used one microphone, two acoustic instruments, and just did their thing.

It's a nice respite from the crap, but I don't know if that moment was worth watching on its own, it was just terrific in comparison. It's like anything that overwhelms you. If you were hanging out with Rita McNeil all day, you might consider making out with Sandra Bernhardt by 5:00.

The point is, even if you ARE a Barenaked Ladies fan, and you really want to see that performance, you have to sit through Nelly Furtado, Nickelback, thirteen Canadian Idol contestants and the stilted, embarrassing hosting job done by Pamela Anderson. I mean, come on. The host of our National music awards is a woman best known for being naked a couple of times? This qualifies her for hosting duties? Or are we just showing the world again "Look who's Canadian!"

Of course, this year we're upgrading our host to someone who actually works in the music business. Nelly Furtado! Who released a fairly decent debut album that was sweet, well-written, and sort of interesting. She then followed it up with a very interesting sophomore effort, which sold a total of eleven copies in Canada. So her handlers decided that the real path to international stardom was to write songs about her love for casual sex with strangers, and to couple those songs with videos in which she wore barely any clothing and touched herself provocatively. It was a huge seller! And, more than that, NOW she's a legitimate artist, and worthy of hosting our national music showcase.

David clearly has the same contempt for Smelly (as he called her) Furtado and the rest of the Juno empire, but he is nominated and so can't really voice his opinion too loudly. But I understand his frustration.

And, in point of fact, his category will NOT make the Junos worth watching this year, because it is not going to be a part OF the Junos. It will be given out in a special ceremony the day BEFORE the televised event, since the category is not glamorous enough to be included in prime-time. Best Blues album will not involve explosions, karaoke contestants or the slight possibility that we might glimpse the top of Nelly Furtado's thong poking out the top of her very tight pants.

David suggested that the Junos could maybe one year feature artists who write their own songs, play their own instruments, or maybe even both. Or at least one of the two! But this is stupid. The key to being musically important has nothing to do with the ability to write a song or play an instrument. In fact, that's counter-productive.

The way to assert your musical relevance, and by extension to be rewarded for it, is simply to sell lots of albums. And it's impossible to sell enough if you spend all your time writing songs and practicing instruments. That would leave the artist in question with precious little time to find really slutty clothes for their on-stage wardrobe. And that time can't be wasted.

So this year, at the end of the month, I will sit, glued to the TV, as Nelly Furtado hosts (hopefully with lots of heavy breathing) the Junos. I will wait with great anticipation to see which of this year's Canadian Idol contestants have been nominated. Because of the musically significant nature of Canadian Idol, all they have to do is release an album to be nominated. And I will clasp my hands in admiration as Nickelback and Blue Rodeo go through the motions on stage for the twenty-third year in a row.

Tremendous excitement lies in store for me. I can't wait. And neither can David Gogo, I'm sure. Since his category is already announced the previous night, he can just show up to the televised event and drink his face off. Maybe even boo everyone. I know he won't, but I'm sure at some level he wants to hurl a highball glass at a Canadian Idol contestant or two. I'm just sad that I won't have that chance. I would break my TV.

David Gogo is playing at Tucson's both tomorrow night and Friday. Tomorrow is acoustic and Friday is electric with the whole band. I highly recommend checking out both.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The marketing machine that is KISS.

Gene Simmons is a genius. An irritating, obnoxious, self-aggrandizing, patronizing genius. KISS markets baby clothes, bathroom tiles, coffins, toilet brushes and Paul Stanley graham crackers. And they sell. For some reason, the KISS army, or the regular fans, or just passers-by can't seem to resist the pull of a Ace Frehley wet-nap or a Peter Criss fanny pack.

I never understood. I still don't. But I have now bought in. Yesterday, at a Mac's milk, I made an impulse purchase and picked up a KISS ashtray. Oh sure, there were others. Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, whatever. But I wouldn't have wanted those. No, I needed the KISS one, simply because it was more ridiculous than the others.

It never occurred to me that since I don't smoke in the house, I would never have the opportunity to put out a cigarette on Gene Simmons' face, but that doesn't really bother me. I tried to explain my purchase to the girl behind the counter. How yes, I like Alice Cooper and AC/DC and Ozzy more than I like KISS, but somehow that giant marketing machine made it necessary for me to choose them over the others.

I do relish the idea that someday, when the summer comes and I smoke on my back porch, I will be able to burn Gene Simmons in the face with a smoke. And, if I quit before then, as I plan to do, I will bum a smoke simply in order to do so. I really do dislike Gene Simmons. I watched a DVD where he was going on a college tour or something and making Tony Robbins style motivational speeches. It was dreadful.

Simmons comes off as a belligerent, egomaniacal jerk, a complete moron who says things that he thinks are deep but are really a random series of words strung together, and all about money. "Money does NOT make the world go round", he'll say. "The world revolves AROUND money". Well, that SEEMS like something deep, but if you pay close attention, it actually doesn't mean anything at all.

And his TV shows! Good lord, bullying kids who know more about making actual music than he ever will into forming a rock band against their will? It worked for Jack Black in School of Rock because he was funny. Gene Simmons is not funny. He's just obnoxious. The only guy who IS funny on Family Jewels, the Gene Simmons-at-home reality show, is his son, whose only laughs come at his stupid father's expense.

Shannon Tweed must be a tongue-size-queen, because even she seems like Stephen Hawking beside this oaf. She can't possibly need the money. Even if she only got paid 500 bucks every time she showed her boobs in some crappy downhill-skiing-contest themed B-movie, she'd still be a millionnaire on her own.

Yet somehow, everything this man touches turns to gold. He's the King Midas of the music world. He managed to create a gigantic band that is known across the world without having any real ability as a musician, arranger or song writer. He has spun that band and their overblown image into an institution, encompassing comic books, TV shows and breakfst cereal. And he has created perhaps the most rabid and inclusive fan base in all of rock music. KISS is not a band. They're not good enough to be one. They're an entity, an icon, and they're here to stay.

So despite my eyes rolling back every time I hear that Gene Simmons has come out with a new perfume or a KISS line of car products - motor oil, carburetors and transmission fluid, KISS-style, I still respect the enormous PRODUCT that is KISS. The sheer volume of merchandise is overwhelming, and even though I have never purchased a KISS album in my life, I still somehow have four of them in my house. And an ashtray.

And even though there has been virtually no talk of KISS touring again, let alone coming to Ottawa, they have made it to blue alert on our Concert Advisory System on the Doc and Woody Fun Page. Why? Because KISS just exists, they just ARE, and who knows if tomorrow they make a snap, spur-of-the-moment decision to appear at Max Keeping's retirement party?

I, for one, am desperately hoping that they DO come to Ottawa, just so I can check out their merchandise table. And so I can sit outside doing the concert before the concert, burning Gene Simmons' face off with my smoke.

Tibet looks good this time of year.

So I'm watching the budget coverage on TV yesterday, and when it comes down, the pundits swarm into action like the rats that swarmed all over whatever girl Indiana Jones had in tow in that tunnel, who fell down and was buried in rats. The pundits all agree, for the most part!

This budget is great! Everyone wins! The provinces are all happy, the voters and taxpayers are all happy...super. But then I start laughing and can't stop. Why? Because the pundits then have to figure out WHY the Conservatives have created a budget that makes people happy. What kind of alterior motive might they have for such a magnanimous act?

Well, there of course IS an alterior motive. With the prospect of an election looming, and the danger that a budget that angers people being the catalyst that brings about that election, the budget has to make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. It must be because of an election.

So it occurs to me - the theory here is, that EVERY year, it's possible to come up with a budget that will make everyone happy and content and complacent. That power is always within the government's grasp. But unless an election is riding on it, they CHOOSE to create a budget that pisses people off. It's in no-one's best interests to be pleased with a budget. Cutting costs or reducing funding to families - that's the right way to go. Except in election times.

What kind of government is there in Tibet? I'm moving there. Oh right, a Chinese one.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I may well be too dumb to live.

One of these days I'm going to die. Doc maintains it won't be doing some stunt for work, it'll be a bizarre gardening accident, or a random freak oven explosion or something.

I've fallen down my carpeted stairs because of a pedicure. (My girlfriend was all about it - lotioned my feet up afterward - whoops! Down I go.) I've spun out on the Queensway in front of an 18-wheeler doing 140, and there wasn't even a scratch on my car. I've fallen off statues, off balconies and down the stairs at the Corel Centre. So far so good. A gas truck once backed over me at an Esso while I was working there.

I've always thought I had remarkable luck to not only remain unkilled, but for the most part unharmed through all this. But today I realized that what's MORE likely is that I'm both lucky and stupid. Lucky enough to remain unscathed but dumb enough to gt myself into trouble in the first place.

I discovered this as I was shaving. I was standing in the shower, and I saw the razor and the shaving cream right there, and I thought "I'm starting to look a little mountain-manish" and I picked them up and shaved. No mirror in the shower itself, but I figured - I've done this thousands of times with a mirror, I'm sure I would do it the same without.

OK, my stupidity didn't hit me until I stepped out of the shower. That's when I looked in the mirror. I wasn't evn close. I had missed spots all over. I looked like a patchy old alley cat - fur missing, some remaining, and bloody gouges in the skin. Not only that, but I had gone a little too far, and shaved off a bit of my actual head-hair on the left side, and a little too much off my goatee on the right.

I fixed the goat and the face as best I could, cleaned up the blood, and sat down. I thought about waiting until my girfriend, a hairdresser, got home from work. Then I thought, this is an explanation I don't want to go into. Not only that, but once she starts cutting my hair to even it up, she's going to get carried away and shave my whole head the way she likes it.

She's been bugging me for months to cut my hair. I feel like it's the 60s and she's my establishment mom and I'm a dirty hippie Frank Zappa. My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Scissors. Not that I have Zappa hair yet, but I'm working on it.

We have reached a compromise. I will let her cut my hair for Doc's wedding. I'm hoping she'll be cool enough to style it into a disgusting but mighty mullet, but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime, I'm guarding my moppy hair with my life. Fact is, I don't even like it myself, but I do kind of enjoy fighting about it. That way I can feel like I'm living the 60s life without ever actually living during the 60s. So far so good. Wait until I spring my ideas for the Summer Of Love on her!

So I decide to fix my hair myslef, and as I'm doing so, I'm thinking - I must be really dumb. I was dumb enough to think it was a good idea to shave without a mirror, and now I'm fixing my own hair, which can only make it worse. Maybe I should just give up on impulse actions, sit down, and wait for the cavalry.

But I kept going. It worked. I don't think she'll even notice. I fixed it good! Which of course, is going to give me license, in my own head, to go ahead and burn some books I hate on the coffee table next time I get cold and I'm too lazy to get up and move the thermostat.

Toughness...then and now

With the golf season almost upon us, I discover that I am anticipating the opening of courses to an extent I had previously thought unlikely, even stupid. I have made an effort to distance myself from the golfers of the world, to turn my noes up in an uppity manner at all those who purchase club memberships so they can put on shiny white golf shoes and collared shirts and behave in an equally uppity manner with their colleagues.

I have always been aware of the double standard I have been practicing, that my disdainful condemnation of a whole sect of people has been based solely on my disdain for their disdainful condemnation of the likes of me. And although I am still a little bothered by the culture of expensive shirts with collars, 300 dollar shoes, 900 dollar six-irons and eight dollar balls, I can no longer condemn the golfing public simply for their excess.

I would like to state for the record that I don't plan to ever spend eight dollars on a ball or 900 on a driver. If an eight dollar ball goes eleven feet farther than a 50-cent ball, that's super. But I don't get mad when my 50-cent ball goes in the lake. But I would get angry should a ball that I bought instead of a McDonalds meal goes into that same lake, eleven feet further away.

And a driver for which I set aside my plans for a plasma TV would bring me no more joy than the 15 dollar job I have now. For you see, if I could drive 330 yards, I would never, ever find my ball. As it is, I drive maybe 280 when I get off the best shot of my life, and that shot invariably finds the edge of the trees. 50 more yards and I'm hacking through brush, using a pitching wedge like it's a machete. But only for about 30 seconds. My ball's worth only 50 cents, remember?

So although I will never buy completely into the ways of those at whom I used to chortle in a self-aggrandizing sort of way, I have at least joined their ranks in the sense that I would now call myself a golfer. Not in the sense that I am now good enough to be considered a golfer, but that now I will actively seek out opportunities to play as often as I can, and I will care about my score to a certain extent.

I look forward to the season. I think about my scores from years past. Three times I have shot 100. Never have I broken 100. Therefore, I think, will this be the year where I finally break that mark and make the leap to the opint where I shoot consistently in the 90s? Will I take a lesson to improve my swing and correct my flaws? Probably not. I'm not that obsessive yet. But I realized today that this did not start for me this year. This "golfer" thing began three years ago, and then snuck up on me in installments.

Three years ago, I was at Bluesfest to watch the Allman Brothers. I had too much to drink, climbed a statue at Confederation park, fell off, descended ten feet to the pavement and landed square on my shoulder. I walked it off, and did not realize until the next morning that it was really hurt. When you wake up after a night like that and your shoulder hurts more than your head, you know you've done something seriously wrong to that shoulder.

I was unable to see a doctor about it. I was too busy, what with the summer charity events and the station events and so on. And on the days where I had nothing on, I would golf with Doc. Golf, you say? Why would you not take those days to go see a doctor and fix your shoulder? Well, because I just plain wanted to golf. It hurt like hell. Every swing I took, my shoulder screamed at me, and I occasionally fell over from the pain because I'd taken a really hard swipe at that ball.

So for months, I continued not seeing a doctor. I continued to be busy, to be in pain, and to make matters far worse every week by golfing at least twice. (This is why I feel Doc is more obsessive about golf than I am. He will take time off when he's sore and hurt, so he can come back a better golfer. Me, I didn't care how good I was as long as I was golfing.)

When I was in high school, I broke my arm playing football. I had a cast put on, and I sat out all of our practices, because I didn't want to aggravate the injury. But I still played all the games. You couldn't keep me out of the games, cast and fracture be damned! I was TOUGH! In retrospect, I was no more tough than I am today, just smarter. I was avoiding practice not because I hated practice. In fact, I loved practice. I still did all the wind sprints, I still attended. But there was something more important, and that was the game itself. Everything led up to that game, and nothing could jeopardize my ability to play in that game.

Now, I'm a lot more of an idiot, and fairly lazy to boot. I could have gone to a doctor. I could have taken a day off golf. But If I did that, the doctor would have told me to stop golfing. And I would have had to take a bus to go see him...and miss the Maury Povich show...that seemed like a lot of effort.

By February of the next year, my shoulder had fully healed. It is now fine. But I had been started on that path to golfing that I now realize has overtaken my objections and partially indoctrinated me into the cult that is Ottawa Golf Land. I had my first sip of the Kool-Aid and I liked it. So I am pledging here and now to no longer make fun of snotty stuffy golfers because of their snotty stuffiness, but at the same time I also pledge never to make complaints about "these damn kids on the course these days" and "why can't I find a good golf umbrella".

I have changed my tune. I used to look down on golfers with a skeptical, almost cynical disdain. But now that I am among their ranks, I have come around. Hey - I used to feel the same way about bloggers!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Beer at a museum beats Ben Stiller at a musem. Hands down.

The expression "hands down" comes from horse racing. I don't watch horse racing, so I don't know if they still do it, but I DID read the whole Black Stallion series as a kid. Even the spinoff series, something about a big red flame or something. Not important. At least in the old days, when a horse had an insurmountable lead on the rest of the field coming down the homestretch, the jockey would let go of the reins and coast across the finish line with his hands dropped. Hence, "hands down".

Perhaps some jockeys took that to the next level, and took advantage of their free hands to give devil horns or the "hang loose" sign to the assembled mint julep drinkers. I would like to think that at some point that took place. Because I saw a lot of devil horns and "hang looses" last night when I presented Comfortably Numb, hands down the best Pink Floyd show you're going to see.

There were two shows, one at 4 and one at 8, and they had been sold out a month and a half in advance. I was surprised, since their last show did NOT sell out. But I realized quickly why. These shows were at a real, proper venue for a show of this nature. The museum of Civilization in Hull. The previous show I hosted was at the New Capital Music Hall, perhaps the worst live music venue in town.

A converted strip club, the New Capital Music Hall is equipped for a certain kind of band, and that kind of band only. Punk bands and metal bands and rap artists where the show is more important than the sound, where people like to form a full-bar mosh pit and throw drinks at each other, and where they don't care a huge amount whether they can see the band or not. For this kind of show, it's ideal.

But for a show like Comfortably Numb must be appreciated for the visual spectacle and the sound. And although it's a show that encourages the making of substantial amounts of noise, it's not one where you will ever see a mosh pit or a fistfight. And the Museum of Civilization provides the perfect atmosphere for this.

It was my first time there, and I was very impressed by their set-up. I hope there are more Numb shows there, more return engagements, because it was perfect. The light show, the sound, and the mood of the band were all better than I've ever seen them. At least for the second show - I was unable to stick around for the first.

Riaz, Numb's manager, told me they are booked for a little while, including two shows in Cuba! I thought that was awesome, and I told him say hi to Castro for me. These guys are world-renowned, and last night they were filming the show for a DVD release that will prove their worth to the world. I can't wait for that.

I was also pleasantly surprised that the museum was selling beer. It's St. Patrick's Day, people need to have a beer or two, and they can do it right in the museum! It's beautiful. I was celebrating a little bit in the green room with the guys, watching the video feed of the show, when I met a really interesting Jamaican guy who was working security for the museum.

This guy is 50 years old, came over from Jamaica 20, 25 years ago, and plays bass. But I almost fell over when he told me who had taught him to play. this will likely mean nothing to 95 percent of people, but he was taught by a man named Aston Barrett, who was one of the most important figures in Jamaican reggae music for decades. He played bass on hundreds and hundreds of the most significant reggae tunes ever realeased, and I am a giant follower of his work. It's obscure, but it's like being a giant fan of Elliot Gould, and then finding out your florist is his son. Or...something like that.

Two things I think there should be more of at a museum. Beer and Comfortably Numb.