Saturday, April 28, 2007

Rush still sucks...too bad their fans kick ass.

It's too bad I like Rush fans. I enjoy trading barbs, entering into deep discussions concerning the merits of various bands and artists, and exchanging opinions about all kinds of things, both musical and otherwise. If Rush fans were by and large obnoxiouis, like Leaf fans, it would be much easier to dislike all things about the band. As it stands, their fans seem to be, for the most part, well versed and very knowledgeable about music in general. This means that all I can do is agree to disagree concerning Rush, and most of the other music Rush fans tend to like. But I do like the Rush fans.

I got a chance to meet several of them Thursday night, when I was forced to conduct the listening party for their new album, Snakes and Arrows. The Rush fans seemed to like it, I did my best not to listen at all. There's something amazing about Rush, and that is the kind of fanaticism they seem to engender. Rush fans are Rush fanatics. They live and breathe this band. One of our winners that night was a man who had once been in a coma for 43 days. And then in the hospital for a further three months. When he got out of the hospital, he went home, showered, changed, and attended the Rush concert in a wheelchair that same night. You don't catch too many Styx fans doing stuff like that.

Overall, it was a fairly enjoyable evening. The people were great, we all had a good time, and I was able to ignore the album as best I could. The big prize was actually really good, for the Rush fans. It was a giant book full of every program from every tour Rush has been on since they first formed in the 70s. It went to a big Rush fan, as it should have. Too bad they're decent folks.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

RUSH!!! whee

I couldn't imagine the reasoning that went into tonight's Rush listening party. Well, the reasoning that went into my own involvement with that listening party. I sort of understand the sadistic need Doc and Woody have for abusing me and making me do things that are distasteful to me, but if you're not there to see the pain you inflict, you are not a sadist, you're just a jerk. And knowing I dislike Rush to the extent that I do, why send me in there with a bunch of Rush fanatics who are going to want to talk Rush, who live and breathe Rush, and who will resent my very presence there as the leader of the Rush-hating populace?

Then it hit me. Here's why. No one else would do it. Robin Harper is on the air at the time, there's no way Jeff and Carly would stick around after their show to attend, fat chance getting Doc and Woody to come back to work after they're gone for the day, and Jackie obviously has better things to do with her time. So, what happens is a deceptive ploy is made, wherein I am to understand this is merely a way of torturing me with a Rush listening party, but the real reason is that they are forcing me into something that is convenient for them all. They are not sadists after all. They're jerks!

Incandescent light bulbs...it's about time. Well, in five years.

So. Incandescent lighbulbs will be phased out by 2012. Good! It's about time we did this. Really, there's no reason to buy regular lightbulbs any more. Although they are cheaper on the surface, they are also much more expensive in the long run. 2.50 for a bulb that lasts six years, or .50 for one that lasts five months. Come on! I could have used one this morning. I got up at two, and barbecued a couple of burgers for breakfast. But halfway through, the light in the backyard burned out, and I could no longer see to barbecue. My burgers burned, they were wasted. Had to throw them out. If I had had a compact flourescent bulb, it would have lasted eight years or something, and this would never have happened. The cost of those two burgers was more than the difference between a flourescent bulb and an incandescent job. To say nothing of the pain in my foot from where I smashed it into the barbecue.

The problem I have is the problem I have with all governmental initiatives. Even good ideas are implemented way too slowly, so that everyone can be appeased in the process. Woody and I got into it a little this morning, off the air, when I suggested that this ban could take place in six weeks. Simply stop selling the old light bulbs, and began selling only the new ones. Done. When people's old bulbs burned out, they would be forced to purchase the new ones, and the incandescents would be quickly phased out altogether. Woody's point was that people who worked at the incandescent lightbulb factory might lose their jobs. So...those two hundred votes matter that much to the Conservatives? They need FIVE years to phase out the old bulbs, phase in the new ones, and save those jobs? Come on! Say fifty people are out of work at the light bulb factory, well, fifty more are being hired at the flourescent factory. Seems to work out. But this idiotic idea of balancing the environment and the economy is bizarre. How does one balance the two? Ten years from now, I can certainly see people saying "geez, I lost my job at the light bulb factory, and it was a rough three months until I found that job at the nuclear plant, but at least I'm breathing air." I find it less likely someone would say "well, my kids are screwed, everyone has athsma, my family's medical bills are through the roof, and there are twelve million refugees seeking shelter in my backyard, but at least I was able to keep making light bulbs and driving my SUV."

So come on! Speed this stuff up! The Liberals signed on to Kyoto without having any kind of plan as to how to meet the targets set out in the accord. Then a bunch of people say well, we can meet the targets, but it will take fifteen years...there might not BE fifteen years, dummy. And now we keep hearing that adhering to Kyoto might HARM the environment? Isn't that kind of like saying water might harm your crops? Or that drinking water may be bad for you? At worst, it will be of little help. At best, it will be a godsend. But how can cutting greenhouse gases HARM the environment? This twisted logic is a nice way to get around saying "Kyoto might harm our economy". this is what the worry really is, but no one will say that because no reasonable person would put their pocketbook ahead of their life. How many times, when presented with that classic dilemma, "you're money or your life", do people decide to give up their life? They know for sure, that if they choose to die, the robber will simply take their money anyway.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Jeff Brown knows how to stir up controversy!

Of all the things we thought would be controversial about Jeff Brown's recent bet, the one thing we thought was likely to be problematic was the urinating on Doug Gilmour's jersey. We thought it might present a problem because of the laws against public urination, but not because of the jersey number. Of course, I had forgotten all about the rabid love Maple Leaf fans have for Doug Gilmour. A love that borders on obsession and lunacy. Gilmour was with Toronto for what, five years? He won a Stanley Cup with the Flames, scored 90 percent of his career points with them, and had all but one of his best years with Calgary, but Canada thinks of him as a Leaf. Why? Because that one year, his best, was with Toronto. And that one year was also Toronto's best year since they last won the cup in '67. Not only did the Leafs ACUTALLY win a playoff series, but they won TWO! And ALMOST a third! Losing to the Kings and Gretzky in the Conference Finals in 1993 did nothing to abate the love Gilmour was given in T.O. The Leafs actually DID something! And he's why!

If Jeff had a Mats Sundin jersey or a Darcy Tucker jersey, no one would care. Hell, he could have a Johnny Bower, a Darryl Sittler, and a Dave Keon, and he could invite people to come urinate on them, and the outrage would not match this. A guy called in this morning saying he has a series of emails, just ready to be sent, to the various news channels, Toronto radio stations and sports television personalities, and he was going to bring Jeff down if he didn't renege. Craaaazy? No. Leafs fan. Delusional, Doug-Gilmour-loving, living in 1993 and the Leafs' "glory" of that year, Leafs fan. And he's not the only one. Not Gilmour! Anyone but that guy who was briefly on our team!

It says something about the collective lunacy of Leafs' nation when they are more angry about this than anything else. I keep thinking of Carl Perkins and his blue suede shoes. You can urinate on Gretzky's Oilers jersey, Yzerman's Wings sweater, Mario's Penguins shirt, the Stanley Cup itself, but don't pee on my Gilmour shirt. You can come to the station and stab my brother, come and punch Mahatma Gandhi in the face, beat up Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa with a wiffle ball bat, that's cool as long as you don't pee on Dougie! God, I wish it was still 1993. Remember that time we lost a little later? Ahh, that was sweet.

Weddings...the other side.

I was spoiled by Doc's wedding, I am convinced. A seven-minute ceremony where you could bring your beer, then dinner and drinking, it was ideal. On Saturday I saw the other side of marriage ceremonies. Anglican ceremonies. My great friend Mark Lindsay was getting married to his longtime girlfriend, Frances Bustamante, who I have known for a long time now, and who is awesome. She is from Venezuela, and I think they speak Spanish there. I think. Frankly, I couldn't tell one way or another what language they were speaking at the wedding, all I knew is that it was neither English nor French. But what a long ceremony! Almost two hours, and all of it very Anglican and religious. A lot of standing up, singing, sitting down, praying, standing up, praying, sitting down, watching. St. Matthew's church has been Mark's church for a long time, but it is awfully large for a wedding. I couldn't hear a word he or Frances were saying to each other, but that was OK because the priests were mic'ed up, and the couple were just repeating what they were saying.

That's right, priestS. Or reverendS. Or whatever the Anglicans have. Because Frances' family were there, and some of them spoke only what I assume is Spanish, the ceremony had to be translated for them as well. So it took twice as long. And there was no bathroom. Before the ceremony began, the reverend? locked the doors to the bathrooms, leaving us with no escape. I snuck out during the communion portion of the thing to hit the bathroom across the street at the KFC, and made it back before anyone noticed. Whew!

When it was all over, the reception was still a few hours away, since there needed to be many pictures taken, and I ran home for a while, grabbed my girlfriend from work, and went back. Everyone else hit the bar on their way. By the time I got there, a few of my friends were already drunk, and one of them was absolutely hammered. You know, that guy at the wedding who yells stuff during the speeches, and everyone gets slightly irritated, but doesn't really care, because it's a wedding and they figure hey, it's what people do. Somehow it's one of the only places where you can get away with such behaviour. Not for long though, as he managed to get sick long before the speeches were over. I was mentioned in a few of the speeches, and they motioned toward where I should have been sitting, but I was walking my drunk buddy around outside the banquet hall so he could make it back inside and at least survive until dinner. Of course, the rest of us caught up to him fairly fast, since there was an open bar. Hey - there's the one thing Doc could have done better at his wedding. Open bar!

The 100-yard flash

I was asked to provide two ass paintings on Friday. One was for a fundraiser by Operation Go Home, an organization that does really wonderful work with homeless kids and teens here in Ottawa, and an organisation I try to involve myslef with as much as I possibly can. I arrived at their "Night at the Races" at the Rideau Carleton Raceway at about 5:30 on Friday, and I gave them the best painting I had, "Tears in Seven". It was seven blue tears, surrounded by red arcs and blue and yellow colour splashes, and I'm told it sold at a silent auction for 50 bucks. Overall, the organizers managed to raise almost $3,000 dollars for OGH, and that's a lot by their standards, since they don't get any government funding and they rely solely on donations from the public. I though I could have done better than 50 bucks, but my art doesn't do well at silent auctions.

No, live auctions are the way to go, and later that night I was out in Greely for a live auctioning of my next work, Moonsaic. I arrived at 7:00, and the auction wasn't to take place until after 9, so I sat with some lovely ladies from Vernon at a table as I waited for my moment. Sandy and Joanne and some others made me feel very welcome and I was happy to be there. The evening was called "Hunks With Hammers", and that meant that various muscle-bound men in tight shirts were fulfilling many different duties, like serving drinks and holding up the auction items. One tightly-muscled young man - actually, I think he was rather old, but I don't know - came out and flexed. I guess as though it were a bodybuilding competition. Or something.

Anyone who ever complains about the Doc and Woody Golf Tournament being sexist and demeaning to the women in lingerie are absolutely bonkers. (Yes, I have heard that complaint once or twice, ususally from people who do not attend these tournaments.) Bonkers! When the hot young girls come out to do a Pussycat Dolls show, or a swimsuit competition, the response from the men is loud, it's happy, it's an excited cheer that last year shook the roof of the Canadian Golf Course. Compared to these women, the guys at our tournament seem sedate and boring, quiet and unassuming. Like a rug on valium. No, these women went NUTS. Every guy who came out there, whether it was the firefighter with huge muscles and the face of a fifteen-year-old, or the 90 year old man with a hearing aid and suspenders who came out to auction off a set of lingerie, the women were all over them. Even this poor elderly gentleman, who looked like he was going to have a stroke as he brandished the lingerie set on the end of his cane, keeping the more predatory women at bay. If a girl had to fight off a guy at out golf tournament, that guy wouldn't be there for long!

After they auctioned off an autographed tie provided by Max Keeping (not making it up), I took the stage. I told the ladies I was sitting with that sure, they could come up and be my cheerleaders. So they took the stage with me, and away went the auction. As we danced at the front of the stage, the auctioneer raised the bids. I heard him say something about my ass, but didn't quite catch it. Then I realized he had suggested the ladies might like to see the butt that created the painting. Before I knew it, the queen of Vernon was down on her knees in front of me on the stage, and was taking off my pants! I thought about fighting it, then thought, what the hell, it's a party, and who hasn't seen my underwear-clad ass before? Anyone who's been to the Doc and Woody website, anyway.

But that wasn't her plan. As I turned to show the ladies my underwear, and by extension, my rear end, my underwear was suddenly, and without warning, yanked right off! There I was, standing stunned in front of three hundred women, stark naked and, well, a little frightened. I covered up the front end fairly fast, and then began the awkward movements of trying to crouch down and pull up my underwear without fully exposing myself any more. I managed to quickly get off the stage, after having presented my naked behind to the two hundred women behind me, and my bait and tackle to the one hundred women in front of me. Remarkably, it was one of the women who saw EVERYTHING who ended up purchasing the picture. I hugged the ladies of Vernon, no hard feelings, no harm done, and slipped out the back door.

Imagine a guy doing that at our golf tournament, and how fast the police would arrive. It's a different standard, that's for sure. But I'm also someone who really doesn't care, and I found it far more funny than offensive. AND I made more money for my painting than Max Keeping did for his tie!

Barbecues...drive you to drink.

The following are actual quotes from the manual of the Life @ Home 2 - LP burner propane barbecue I just built:

Step 16: Align the hole in the right side shelf with the hole. Screw a bolt (A) along with a lock washer (D) and a flat washer (E) into each hole where the holes.
Repeat the same produce.

WARNING: The use of alcohol may impair an individual's ability to properly assemble or safely operate this appliance.

Well, I did it sober, produce or no produce. Although I obviously needed a barbecue, having recently moved and having left my old barbecue for my girlfriend's mother, it was still somewhat of an impulse buy. My advice to all those mechanically inclined; do not purchase a barbecue at a grocery store. For me, it was somewhat of a spur-of-the-moment decision, based on the fact that I craved steak. So, in the grocery store, purchasing steak, I realized I needed a barbecue in order to cook that steak. So I grabbed one on my way out the door.

Six hours later, I was sobbing uncontrollably in the backyard, my steak was slowly rotting on the counter in the kitchen, and I had caved in and ordered a pizza. A suggestion to the makers of barbecues: Rather than printing the instructions in four languages, how about just one language, but get the words and grammar right. Align the hole where the holes? What the hell does that mean? At one point, I became stymied completely. Not only were the instructions missing a crucial step, but in order to actually screw in the part I needed, I would have had to have the hands of a midget and a screwdriver half the size of the tiny one they provided. I tried for forty minutes to put in the screw. Then I cut a hole in the metal plate that protects me from the fire, stuck my hand through and completed the task. I repeated the process on the other side. When I grill, I will just stand further back.

When I was done, I had five bolts left over. Not because I had built anything wrong. No, I know where these bolts go. Rather, it's because those bolts were too big for the holes in which they belonged. Just a small oversight on the part of the manufacturers, nothing to worry about, I'm sure. Then they warn you not to drink while building or using the barbecue. I love nothing more than drinking beer in the backyard while I flip burgers or make giant plates of sausages, and I don't plan to stop any time soon. Although should I ever need to join AA, I think I'll be fine. This barbecue took me through 24 of the most painful steps I have ever experienced. AA should be easy in comparison - they have half the steps.