Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What will come out first - Chinese Democracy or Paris Hilton?

Every day, whether we like it or not, there is an entertainment story about Paris Hilton. And we don't like it. I may ramble some more here, I'm still on painkillers. Now that she's going to jail, we may well have 45 days of no Paris stories. Thank God! But we had to get one more in. She has started a petition on her website, that will be presented to California governor Arnold Schwarzennegger, to be pardoned. Which is cute, like she's on Death Row or something. Why did I capitalize Death Row? Painkillers. The petition suggests that anyone who is a fan, or a supporter, or is against injustice, should sign the petition to keep her out of jail. This punishment is cruel! Inhuman! Celebrities are above the law, and all she did was drive drunk while her license was suspended. No harm no foul! She doesn't specify you have to be a Paris Hilton fan, or supporter, just that you are a fan of some kind, a supporter of some kind, and that you are against injustice in general. Good. If someone was really on the ball, they'd take one for the team. Some girl should get arrested and go to prison with Paris. Then she should organize a series of escape attempts, bringing Paris with her, and extend her sentence some. Or go one better, and frame her for an inmate shiv murder. Get rid of her for good. I'm ahead of the game here. If I ever am a witness to a murder being committed I'm going to take Peter Griffin's adive and say it was Celine Dion who did it. Get rid of her for a while.

Paris, however, will be out in 45 days. In the meantime, tracks are being leaked to the Guns 'N Roses album Chinese Democracy. Most of these tracks are awful, and make me sad when I listen to them. 15 years to make an album, it ought not to suck monkeys. But it does. And, I expect, it will. The wait has been on for a while, and Axl Rose seems to be in no hurry to release it. But the rumours are circulating that it will be available soon, and I think the smart money is on Chinese Democracy coming out before Paris Hilton does. Although Woody made a good point this morning. Perhaps Axl Rose is waiting for ACTUAL Chinese Democracy before he releases the album. Which would be a terrific political move. And would delay the album possibly another seventy-four years. I'm all in favour of it though. I am a supporter of a free Tibet, because I am against injustince. AND I'm a Green Bay Packers fan. Oh no, I better go sign that Paris Hilton petition!

Painkillers scare me. They make me McHappy.

Please excuse me if I ramble here. Or if I mis-spell things or lapse into poor grammar at times. You see, I am currently under the influence of painkillers. Heavily sedated, as it were. These things are powerful. Upon returning to my house from the hospital, I took a couple yesterday. The pain from my kidney stone is excruciating. I am OK when I'm just walking around, but I'm not doing well when I cough or move quickly. So I thought yesterday that there's something to be said for medicinal marijuana. I would have done well using that as a painkiller. However, it makes me cough, or at least I assume it would if I ever tried it, which of course I haven't. And it's the coughing that kills me. So I'm stuck with these pills.

I can see how people get addicted to painkillers. They give you this crazily dreamlike feeling where life isn't really happening to you, you're just there and it's happening all on it's own. I just had an hour-long conversation with my mom. I was lucid and erudite enough that she didn't know I was in an altered state, and I was comfortable enough to talk for an entire hour. Usually I'm trying to get away in ten minutes. Not that my mom is boring or irritating, but the conversation usually involves people I barely remember, issues about which I do not care, and eventually it turns to me needing to clean up my act one way or another. I drink too much, I should stop smoking and I'm too fat. She's very nice about these things, and uses the tack of brutal honesty sugar-coated by pleasanteries and anecdotes. And of course she's right. About two things. I SHOULD stop smoking and I AM too fat. I've found a decent way to fix both at once. I have begun to slowly wuit smoking. Every time I have a craving while I'm at home, I drop and do 25 pushups, or 50 squats, or run on the treadmill. It's working OK.

Except for now, because the idea of doing pushups or sit-ups or dumbbell curls is heinous to me with my current medical condition. And with my current doped-up condition, I could conceivably drop the weights on my toe due to lack of dexterity, and not notice it was broken for three days, due to my inability to feel pain. The smoking thing is working, though, since I can't smoke too much right now. I am terrified of coughing, so I have cut back quite a lot. I am also terrified of going to the bathroom. First of all, when it's a number two, the muscles I flex in forcing it out are the ones that kill me. The family loves being wakened up at 2 a.m. with me screaming in pain on the toilet. And secondly, when it's good old reliable number one, I am scared to death that this may be the one where I actually pass the stone. As one man described it, it's like pissing out a rocking chair covered in barbed wire. And still others suggest that it is easier and less painful for women to give birth than it is for a man to pass a kidney stone. Well, at least I'll be able to say "quit whining" when women complain about childbirth. Now I'VE passed a tiny stone out my urethra! Take that, whiners!

This is actually the worst pain I've ever had, and I'm the guy who took painkillers for three months after almost losing a testicle in a work-related accident last year. Even that doesn't compare. Testicle pain is an all-consuming, full-body sort of pain, where you are constantly nauseous from it. It never leaves, and the smallest jostle caused me to double over, unable to walk and often I would fall to the ground in agony. But this is different. Normally I'm OK, but when I get that cough or that pain from twisting my torso, I actually think I'm going to die. It turns out I'm a much bigger sissy than I thought.

This is what cut short McHappy day for me. Out at McDonalds today, I was working the drive through, talking on the phone, and doing my best not to cause myself any extra pain while leaning out the window. It was hurting, but I could bear it. The good people at the Heron and Walkley McDonalds were very concerned about me, and did everything they could to make me more comfortable. I was selling McMuffins and berating customers. Those who purchased burritos or McGriddles drew my scorn and fury, since they were not buying the one item on the menu that helped the kids. If you buy breakfast burritos today, I felt, you hate children. Go back to the beginning of the drive-thru and try again. I was doing alright until I sneezed. It sort of snuck up on me, the way sneezes often do. If I thought coughing brought on agony, sneezing caused an amount of pain I can describe only as ridiculous. I screamed in pain again, fell down to my knees, and couldn't stop yelling for about thirty seconds.

McDonalds decided the spirit of McHappy Day was not berating customers, sneezing on food, and screaming obscenities around kids. They sent me back to the station, where I served out the rest of my shift and made it home in one piece. Which is fine with me. McHappy Day irritates me. It's nice that McDonalds is doing something good. Ronald McDonlad House is a laudable charity. They provide homes for families with sick children who need medical treatment, families that would ordinarily not be able to find that type of housing. It's the actual process that bothers me. I mean, only McMuffins and Big Macs? Why so specific? Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Day and Camp Day and all that crap - they give money from every coffee sold. Everyone who goes to Tim Hortons gets a coffee. That's an actual charitable act. Just about every order goes to the charity. Limiting McHappy Day to Big Macs and McMuffins feels empty, like Wal-Mart doing a huge CHARITY DAY thing where a dollar from the purchase of every jar of beer nuts goes to some charity. When you make billions of dollars in profit, you can afford to give up one day. Like Tim Hortons. I really wish I had passed the stone in the restaurant.

Ottawa Symphony...good tunes, good times.

My mom has played viola in the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra for twenty years. For those of you who don't know, the viola is like a big violin. It bridges the gap between violin and cello, and is the forgotten instrument in an orchestra. Which means that for much of my childhood, I was subjected to viola jokes. Things like "the viola player burned down the conductor's house. And the conductor said 'what the hell's a viola'" and things of that nature. They were told better by my mother. It also meant that as I grew up, I was constantly surrounded by the works of Dvorak, Sibelius, Wagner and Mahler. I didn't hear rock music until I was about eleven.

I went through my mom's record collection recently, and there was a ton of stuff I wanted but she wouldn't part with it. Of course she has all that Mozart and Beethoven and Bach and Berlioz, but she also had a tone of old CCR and every Beatles record ever made. I wondered aloud why she had never played these records when I was younger, but I did not even know they existed. Which is fine, I feel, since I was able to get into that stuff on my own later on, yet still have an appreciation for Stephane Grappelli and Glenn Gould. I tend to go to the Symphony concerts only when they are playing a piece with shich I am familiar and one that I like. The last one I attended was Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, one of my favourite pieces of classical music.

Monday night was my mom's retirement concert. Her last ever with the symphony, and one I wanted to see, Gustav Mahler's 6th symphony. My sister and her husband drove up from North Bay for the show, and we all went out for dinner at the Black Thorn cafe beforehand with Mom and her boyfriend Larry. Larry is good people. He wanted to make this last one special, so he bought us all box seat tickets and dinner. Black Thorn is great, by the way. At the corner of Sussex and Clarence in the market, it was one of the best steaks I've had in a while. Then Larry and mom went off to the show, and my sister MifAnne, her husband John, and I went drinking at the Elephant and Castle to prepare.

Last time I went to see the OSO, I went with my buddy John, and we brought some flasks with us. Which was a great idea, but we may have started too early, because by the time the intermission hit, we had passed out on each other and we were snoring fairly loudly. This time I was well aware of the need for moderation, mainly because I had to work so darn early the next morning. I still skipped the third movement, because I hate it, and went for a smoke. But all in all a wonderful concert, and my mom was pretty thrilled that her last appearance had been attended by her family. Her friend Rosalynn, a cello player, was playing her last show as well, and they all went off to a party afterward, one which we could not attend. After all, I had to get up at 2 the next morning, MifAnne had to get back to North Bay that night, and the whole thing ended at around 10:30.

I can still see my mom perform, with various quartets here and there and as a singer with the Ottawa Choral Society. They are performing Carl Orff's Carmina Burana soon, and I have written some liner notes for their program. Carmina Burana is one of the most famous pieces of choral music in the world, thanks to "O Fortuna". The liner notes I wrote concerned the involvement of O Fortuna in countless movies. It's the song you hear during the dramatic moments in those Rickard's commercials, and it's featured in everything from Excalibur to Jackass. Also Glory, Natural Born Killers and Oliver Stone's The Doors. In fact, it's even included on the soundtrack to that film, among all the Jim Morrison classics.

Congratulations Mom, on twenty years with a terrific local organization. I've enjoyed the Ottawa Symphony concerts for years, and I look forward to enjoying those of the Ottawa Choral Society in the future.

Yep, kidney stones.

I feel like a giant sissy. For the most part, my pain is just dull and irritating. So ordinarily, I am fine. When I left the hospital yesterday I walked half an hour to Burger King because I was starving, and had no problems outside the sweat and the fact that I'm out of shape. When I talked to the doctors at the hospital, I was OK, not doubled over in pain or anything, just uncomfortable. I felt as though they were looking at me and saying "this stupid hypochondriac. Why is he wasting our time?" But when I cough, or try to go to the bathroom, or especially when I sneeze, I feel like I'm going to pass out.

Sure enough, it is a kidney stone. The people at the emergency room at the General saw me fairly quickly, and even with blood tests, urine tests and an ultrasound, I was there for less than five hours. When I did the urine test, I spilled a few drops, and tried to wash them off the bottle. No nurse needs to put her hands in my pee, I felt. But in doing so, I washed the label with my name on it off the bottle, so I had to do that one twice. Then they gave me a blood test and some painkillers. The blood test needle wasn't bad, but the painkillers were administered with one of those horse needles, and ironically the process caused me a considerable amount of pain.

I then got sent to the ultrasound room, and underwent a fifty-five minute ultrasound test. There was a cute young girl who was a student, learning how to do ultrasound, and she spent a long time experimenting with the gel and the machine before the experienced technician stepped in and did the actual work. Which was fine. They made me put on a hospital gown, something with which I am of course familiar. I got to keep my pants on, since thy were doing the ultrasound stuff from the waist up. So, I put on a gown just so they could lift up the gown. I asked why thy didn't just get me to take my shirt off, and they didn't seem to know. Procedure, they shrugged. The ultrasound was very exciting, because I learned I have an extra spleen. Sort of. Well, an extra mini-spleen. Or something like that. I don't really know, I was doped up on painkillers. Apparently this is normal, there are people out there with four kidneys.

Eventually, they decided it was in fact a kidney stone, and the doctor prescribed painkillers, anti-inflammatories and water, and he sent me home. I got home and took a painkiller, then another. I was awfully doped up by the time I went to bed, and I had many bizarre dreams about that cat from Hello Kitty and how it was a prostitute being pimped out by Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sort of a whole Taxi Driver type dream, where Hello Kitty was Jodie Foster, Splinter was Harvey Keitel, and DeNiro's part was played by an unusually muscular and angry Raggedy Anne.

Unfortunately, I have to drive to and from work today, so I can't take any more painkillers this morning. It's also McHappy Day, a day when McDonalds does some sort of thing where they share 0.00002% of their gigantic profits with some sort of charity, and in ruturn for this massive generosity, I go out to one of their locations and serve breakfast and harass people at the drive-thru. Who knows, maybe this year I will be able to actually pass my kidney stone AT McDonalds, live on the air. Jason will be with me, so it'll be OK if I pass out, and the yelling from the bathroom may end McHappy Day a little early this time. Plus, it would be fairly entertaining.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I think I might be close to death.

I have one of those irritating smokers' coughs. It's chronic, hasn't gone away in years, and never really bothered me until last night. Then all of a sudden, I began to have pains in my back when I coughed. Now, whenever I cough, it feels like I'm being stabbed with a knife right in my side on the back. It's so painful that it brings tears to my eyes and if I'm not careful I will fall over. And I have no idea why. Perhaps I have broken a rib unknowingly (that's happened before). But last time I broke my ribs, I was OK, it was just tough to breathe. And it didn't hurt even close to this much. I should probably spend less time writing my blog and more seeing a doctor. Crap!

Monday, May 7, 2007

I may be a lunatic, but I haven't escaped! Finale.

At the corner of Conroy and St. Laurent, the police finally caught up. A cop car pulled over in front of me, and an attractive young female poice officer motioned me over. People ahd been stopping me all morning, giving me a bit of cash and donating money to the Doc and Woody Fund in support of my run. I thought that was what was going on. I figured this lady might want to give me ten bucks, and I stopped to find out. When she asked me for ID, I was so out of breaht that I could barely speak. I tried to catch my breath for a moment, and in doing so took a look behind me. Six more cop cars had pulled up behind me, completely surrounding me! SIX!

I finally managed to spit out, through my wheezes and gasps, who I was and what I was doing. They still needed ID. Where, I reasoned, was I to put my ID while wearing nothing but a hospital gown. This seamed reasonable to the lady, and she put my information into the system. No outstanding warrants, I was free to go once they confiremed my identity and the reason for the gown. I called Jason immediately and asked him to come back and save me. He got there in twelve seconds flat, and helped me explain. I was about to run off, when a seventh cop screeched up in his car, got out and started yelling. Apparently this guy was a senior-ranking officer, who did not get the joke.

Out of the car like a bolt, he flew toward Jason, pinning him back against the CHEZ truck and screaming at him, inches from his face. It was kind of like watching a fight between a manager and a baseball umpire, only Jason wasn't fighting back, and he couldn't thrown this jerk out of the game. The other cops milled about nervously. Obviously this guy was their superior, and they couldn't say anything about it. But they didn't think it was such a big deal. THey just thought the whole episode was funny. Not this guy. Wasting valuable police resources! Tying up emergency lines! Have you no conscience! I tried to place myself in his line of sight, because I thought he might turn his attention off Jason to me, and I had th open line to the radio station. This was too good not to get on the radio. But it was not to be.

The other cops shooed me away, attempting to diffuse the situation, and I ran off, toward the station. I made it back in time, and all was OK. Last I saw Jason, he was still being torn to pieces by Robocop, and the film guys were trying to quietly and sneakily get it all on film. In the end, we got enough of the cops on film to make for a very funny video, and enough footage of by slow, obese, unpleasant run for CHEO to make things funny. Spectrum Sound and Vision edited the video that night, and we already have 5,000 hits on it on youtube. There is a link off the Doc and Woody Fun Page, and there's a link off the main CHEZ 106 page, and it's well worth watching so you too can laugh at my expense. The next few days were one thing after another, with interviews with the Citizen, finding pictures of the run, and making sure the video was available as soon as possible. But boy, was it worth it. What a finish! Thank you Ottawa police, you made the forgettable so memorable!

I may be a lunatic, but I haven't escaped! Part 3.

In retrospect, it was my shedding of the various accessories with which I was provided that led the police to me. A guy running down the street in a hospital gown with a hamburger tied to his hat and a sign on his back would say to most people: "I'm doing something weird, but it's for a reason". A guy running around in just a hospital gown says "I have escaped from a nearby mental institution, and in the interests of the public, you may want to come by and apprehend me". And they sure did.

Apparently the calls began coming in around the time I hit Baseline and Prince of Wales. The cops received dozens of calls about some guy running around in hospital garb, and kept trying to head me off. The only problem was that they had no idea I was actually doing a run, for a reason. So they went to the area where the call had come from, and by that time I was long gone. For two hours, I was the unwitting quarry in a bizarre cross-Ottawa fox hunt, as the cops slowly closed in on my exact location. They would go to Heron and Bank, I was already at Alta Vista. They went to Alta Vista, I was already at Herongate. It should have been fairly easy, just follow me down Baseline to Heron to Walkley to Conroy.

The whole time I was doing this run, I was being filmed by the guys from Spectrum Sound and Vision, and the CHEZ truck was following me closely. Apparently, this wasn't enough of a clue for the people who complained. Perhaps it was the fact that I was unshaven and unkempt. Or maybe it was the fact that I was fat and sweaty and looked close to death. Or, perhaps they just objected to the open back of this hospital gown. Who knows. Either way, the cops finally did catch up. Ironically, it was at the only point in the run when the CHEZ truck was no longer with me. I was on the homestretch, and I had sent the film guys ahead to get back to the station, so they could capture the home stretch of the run, and film my triumphant return to the station after such a long run. They would get me coming around the corner, running into the building, up the stairs, and into the studio. So they were long gone as I began running down the final block. And that's when the cops came.

I may be a lunatic, but I haven't escaped! Part Two

Doc was at it again this morning. Coming up!...We'll find out who really shot John Lennon...when we play a song backwards...in the next segment! Well, the backwards sogn thing - not all it's cracked up to be. I'm certain I heard Britney Spears played backward and she said "Satan licked me in his Maseratti." But The Yoko Ono song? She says "I shot John Lennon"? That doesn't make much sense, since I can't tell the difference between the song forward or backward. Anyway...more about the running. In the next paragraph.

So as soon as I found out I was going to be running, I was pretty sour about it. I could have trained, or planned...or something. At the very least, I could have smoked less that morning, and maybe lived through it without as much coughing and hacking and almost vomiting. Gross. So I set off from Fisher and Baseline, and had to be back to the station by the end of the show. I looked it up on mapquest, and that's about a 12-km run. For me it was a 12-km jog with a few walking breaks. Or, a 12-km walk with some jogging breaks.

At first, I had a hat on with a Big Mac box hanging from it, like the carrot for the horse. Jason, our promo guy, had spent hours upon hours rigging this up. He had taken a drumstick, attached it to the hat, and tied a Big Mac box to it. He also had to put in the effort of eating the Big Mac, shich must have been tough. Clearly the only thing lying around that worked was a drumstick, since I noticed part way through that it was signed by Vinny Appice, the drummer for Black Sabbath. But it was no use. It was too close to my face, and yet too heavy anyway. As I ran, the box smashed my face, and the hat kept falling off, no matter how tight I had it. Within two blocks I had taken it off and thrown it in the truck as I passed by.

There was also a sign strapped to my back. It said Doc and Woody Run for CHEO and had our phone number. But I discovered I couldn't really run with that on either, and by the time I got past Riverside, the sign had been cast aside also. I think this made Jason disappointed. He had worked so hard on these things, after all. The sign had taken the better part of six hours to make, alone in a cubicle in the bowels of the promo room, smelling the fumes of two different flavours of magic marker and finding just the right box top to rip off. Then there was the intricate and precise process of taping a strap to this sign, a strap which it turns out was ill-equipped to handle my considerable girth. Although it broke Jason's heart, all these accoutrements came off quickly, which I think is what led to the involvement of Ottawa's finest.

I may be a lunatic, but I haven't escaped! Part One.

We should have known. I should have known. But it never occurred to me on Thursday morning just how our event might turn out. I knew Doc and Woody had something devious up their collective sleeve, and that this "run for CHEO" would involve me doing something I disliked intensely. As it turned out, I was wrong. It ended up involving something I despised intensely. Running. I figured out quite a while ago that there was no real "Run For CHEO", outside what I was doing. If I was going to be involved somehow, there was no reason for Doc NOT to tell me the plan, unless there was, in fact, no plan to speak of. And of course, there wasn't. If he was going to bring in a running team or some such thing, then he could have told me. Even if he wanted to keep it a secret until the day of, he could have told me off the air. Not that there would be any good reason to keep something like that a secret, but Doc is a great lover of the flashy unveiling of things, whether those things be deserving of a flashy unveiling or not.

The Rolling Stones are coming to Ottawa! OK, deserving of a flashy unveiling. Blue Rodeo plays Bluesfest! NOT deserving. Of course they're playing Bluesfest. They play it every year. It seems that Bluesfest organizers are the only people in the world who don't realize Blue Rodeo has become the new Trooper. James Brown is dead! Deserving of flash. And funk. But then, as we talk about James Brown for the next few weeks, EVERYTHING gets a teaser. Coming up, we'll tell you about a body that...has not yet been buried. I'm convinced Doc watches the Insider-Etalk-Entertainment Tonight-Celebrity Scoop series of TV programs way too much. But enough of that for now! Let me tell you about the run for CHEO. Stay tuned for the next segment.