Friday, June 1, 2007

Snoop Dogg...the Keith Richards of rap music.

I really enjoy Snoop Dogg. Formerly Snoop Doggy Dogg. Perhaps now just Snoop. To the izzle. He seems to be one of those guys who goes through life just doing what he does, never really hurting anybody but always slightly on the wrong side of the law, enjoying himself and for the most part, getting away with it. Everyone enjoys the man. Just like Keith Richards. Every time he gets busted for something, it's drug related. Just like Keith. By all rights, he should be dead right now. Just like Keith. He does some good in the world, like the youth football league Snoop runs, much like Mr. Richards. Only you get the sense that the good stuff they do is not out of some desire to actually be charitable or to make some donation to some cause, but because that's just what comes of them doing what they do. Good can come of it, and that I'm sure doesn't upset these people, but it's not why they got into whatever it may be. They just plain like doing it.

And how easy was it for Snoop to become famous? He's the Dr. Seuss of rap, and Dr. Seuss had about the easiest job ever. Can't think of a word that rhymes? Just make one up. "I went to the store and purchased an orange"...nothing rhymes with orange...so..."the coolers were jammed with bactinklers and blorange"...yeah. That'll do. Snoop does the same in his rap. "I ran inside to escape the drizzle. The girls were hot in here...fo' shizzle?" Good enough. I wish he had never come along, so I could become the multi-millionnaire pot-smoking porn producer everyone loves. Then again, I don't have a clever name like Snoop Doggy Dogg...I'd come up with something lame like "Puff Daddy".

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The ten best albums you'll never hear on CHEZ.

I was recently asked by a friend to list my top ten albums of all time. He requested that I put it in my blog, so he could make reference to it and search out the albums I mentioned. This is what I get for pretending to be some kind of musical authority and allowing people to believe I know something about music. In point of fact, I know only what I like and what I don't, and there is plenty that escapes my grasp. However, I will make my list anyway, since what are blogs for if not to force your opinions on those unfortunate enough to read them?

This gentleman is an avid CHEZ listener, so it seems fairly pointless to include such albums as Houses of the Holy, Beggar's Banquet, Metallica's Black album, Abbey Road and The Who By Numbers. So I'm going to steer clear of any artist we might even think about playing on CHEZ, in an effort to expand the musical horizons of others through my arrogance. I will also stay away from some of my other favourites, since they can be found on every single "top 50 albums of all time list", whether it's done by Blender, Rolling Stone or Sports Illustrated. These are albums that are universally recognized and will always appear, like Citizen Kane and Casablanca and The Godfather and Gone With The Wind are on every "top whatever" movie list. John Coltrane's Giant Steps. Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Marvin Gaye's What's Going On. Pet Sounds. Stevie Wonder's Innervisions. All these are obvious.

And thirdly, I will choose albums as though I'm not talking to giant music geeks. Music geeks might find my choices SO obvious and pedantic that they will dislike me for my lack of vision and imagination. But I don't care about them. So here goes:

10. The Coup: Pick a Bigger Weapon.
A rap album from 2007, that is the best I've heard in years. This is the smartest anti-war, anti-government album I've heard in years, and the lyrical mastery is above all other rap groups that aspire to be political in nature, like Dead Prez. The best song is track #2, We Are The Ones. Great lyrics like
"philosophically you'd be opposed
to inhaling coke via mouth or the nose,
but economically I would propose
that you go eat a d*** 'cause employment it grows.
As socially sensitive and as powerful an attack on American values as there is in music. Other great tracks are track #6, "Bush and Hussein Together in Bed", and #9, "Ass Breath Killers"

Further listening (download if you can): "Me and Jesus the Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night" from The Coup's classic early '90s disc, Steal This Album. If a rap song will ever make a person cry, this is it.

9. Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus.
I think this might be the greatest sax album ever recorded, and it's certainly better than anything from the last twenty years. Sonny Rollins was maybe the greatest improvisor in jazz history. The best thing about this album is that it proves that at one time the saxophone was a cool instrument, before it was buggered up by pop groups in the '80s and the subsequent superstardom of Kenny G.

Further listening: Sonnymoon for Two

8. Stone Roses - The Complete Stone Roses.
Here is where music nerds will accuse me of a cop-out. One of the "underground" albums that appear on every critic's list is the self-titled debut of the Stone Roses. It's one of the great stories in music, this group that absolutely stormed Britain in 1989, almost single-handedly creating the "Madchester" scene of raves and parties, and then dropped off the face of the earth. They resurfaced a few years later to craft a sub-par second effort, then decided they hated each other, and everything, and formed their own groups. The Complete Stone Roses is a collection of all the singles from that debut album, as well as their B-sides, and a few other tracks thrown in for good measure. Songs and singles don't come much better than "I Am The Resurrection", "She Bangs the Drums" or "Mersey Paradise".

Further listening: "I Am the Resurrection", album version. Adds a full six-minute jam session that is cut out for the single version on Complete Stone Roses. A must-listen for guitar fans, if not so much guitar players.

7. The Seahorses - Do It Yourself.
Just as All Things Must Pass is the best album made by a Beatle after the breakup, Do It Yourself is the best album made by a member of the Stone Roses following their breakup. "The Seahorses" is in fact an anagram of "He Hates Roses" - no one knows if this was intentional. The Roses' guitarist, John Squire, put this band together with a busker he found on the street to sing. It was his way of attempting to prove to the Roses' singer, Ian Brown, that he could have done the whole scene without him. And he may be right. While this is a lot more rock-oriented than the Stone Roses trippy style, it's a wonderfully crafted album. Love is the Law is one of the best British singles of the past 20 years.

Further listening: None. This was the Seahorses one and only album.

6. Johnny Cash - Sings the Ballads of the True West.
I know, I know, Jeff Brown WILL play Johnny Cash on CHEZ. But never anything from this album. Country meets folk music in a brilliant way as Cash sings about the history-shaping events that moved him personally. Uless you pay close attention to him, you will not know any of these songs. It's by far his most personal album, and is the first album he ever made entirely on his own terms, without any input from studio execs and suits. It's also one of his two best albums, along with the San Quentin prison concert.

Further listening: "Streets of Laredo" from American IV: The Man Comes Around.

5. Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros: Rock Art and the X-Ray Style.
The former lead singer of The Clash, who tragically passed away a couple of years ago, Joe Strummer continued making wonderful music even after the breakup of his old band. With the Mescaleros, he released three fantastic albums, this being the best. They fused punk, reggae, ska, and hard rock to make a sound unlike any I have heard in years. The title track, X-Ray Style is (I hope I can say without sounding like a sissy) absolutely a beautiful tune.

Further listening: The entire album "Streetcore".

4. The Mighty Diamonds - Right Time.
Maybe the most under-appreciated reggae album I've come across, even in the reggae-rabid circles. This is my absolute favourite vocal harmony album, and while the Backstreet Boys and their ilk have run around giving vocal harmonies a bad name, there was a time when it was only done by the truly gifted vocalists. There may be no reggae tune more soulful and catchy than "Have Mercy".

Further listening: Toots and the Maytal's album In The Dark, and specifically their terrific cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads".

3. Merle Haggard - Sing Me Back Home.
One of the all-time great country albums. And Sing Me Back Home is one of the all-time great country songs. I know, sad country music is now a cliche...but a song about a man on death row who wants to hear the song his mother sang to him before he gets executed manages to be both sad and bad-ass at the same time.

Further listening: Swinging Doors. The greatest drinking song ever written.

2. Eric B. and Rakim - Paid in Full
Rakim, as the rapper in the group, had the best flow of any rapper who ever lived. Still does, I imagine. And this is the best rap album ever recorded. The title track is the weakest song here, and it's by no means a throwaway. The best songs are "I Know You Got Soul" and "Eric. B Is President", and not just because my name is Eric B. This is actually very good stuff.

Further listening: Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em. The only other song they did that was good enough to be on this album.

1. The soundtrack to the movie The Harder They Come.
Another cop-out for the music nerd crowd. Although Bob Marley is pretty well the only famous "true" reggae artist in the world, and has crafted some classic albums with the Wailers, the Harder They Come Soundtrack is actually two things. One, the greatest soundtrack to a movie ever, and two, the greatest reggae album ever released. Of course, it's a compilation, but anyone seeking to delve into reggae music beyond Bob Marley should start right here. It includes the greatest reggae song ever written, The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff. It has Toots and the Maytal's two best tracks, Pressure Drop and Sweet and Dandy, and features major efforts from Desmond Dekker, the Slickers and the Melodians. And the movie itself is fantastic, another overlooked classic.

Further listening: Watch the movie, then download "Stepping Razor" by Peter Tosh. But not illegally.

So...this is it, in my uninformed opinion. Of course, there's always Welcome to My Nightmare, Music From Big Pink, Allman Brothers at the Fillmore, Grateful dead's American Beauty, Frank Zappa's Apostrophe...all the CHEZ stuff. And honourable mentions to Weezer's Green Album, Jurassic 5's Quality Control, Bunny Wailer's Blackheart Man, Wille Nelson and Merle Haggard's Pancho and Lefty, the Duane Allman anthology, and countless others. Either way, this was the best I could do with what opinionated and self-indulgent knowledge I might have. Just don't disagree with me until you've listened!

An explanation is in order...

OK. That last post? Merely a test. You see, Scott Oake interviewed Snoop Dogg on CBC last night during the hockey game, which was kinda cool. At the end of the interview, he got Snoop to throw it back to Bob Cole in the booth, as only Snoop can. With the whole S-n-double-o-pizzle fo' shizzle and so forth. We got thinking that it would be fairly great to have him as the colour man to Bob Cole's play-by-play, or even to have him replace Bob Cole himself calling the game. Bob Cole might be on his last legs anyway - last night I heard him come up with some real gems. Stuff like "the Ducks are 0 for 7 on the power play in this series, and the law of averages suggests that they will score a power...play...goal. Sometime..." well done, Bobby. I love Bob Cole, but come one.

There is a website called "gizoogle" that does the exact same thing as google, but when it finds the webpage, it translates it into Snoop-speak. So the only way I could get some play-by-play translated into Snoop language was to type it out on my blog and then find it with gizoogle. So no, I have not lost my mind, I'm merely displaying my craftiness in finding a solution to a problem. Now, go to gizoogle and read this again! Fo' shizzle.

I'll explain this later...

Spezza knocks the puck ahead to Alfredsson...along the boards into the Anaheim zone, chased down by Heatley. Heatly, battling for the puck along the boards with Pronger, loses the puck and Pronger has it. He clears the zone and the puck is tied up in the neutral zone...picked up by Pahlsson as he carries it into the Ottawa end. Alfredsson makes a weak attempt to slow up Pahlsson by blowing on him, but Pahlsson wheels into the slot and shoots...scores!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I would never join a club that would accept someone like me as a member.

Perhaps the greatest quote of all time, this one by Woody Allen. And it applies to so much of our daily life. Today, for example, I got to wondering what it takes for people to become politicians. Maria McRae, one of our laudable local city councillors, has decided that she feels the Ottawa Senators should be responsible for paying the cost for the extra cops that are required on Elgin Street during the Sens Mile celebrations as the Cup Finals progress. The theory, I suppose, being that the Senators are to blame for the fact that more cops are needed. If they were just nice and normal, they would have bowed out in the first round of the playoffs, not stirred up any excitement, and gone on their way without being so bothersome. But since they insisted on playing well and rallying support and inspiring civic pride, they should be penalized as a warning to others who may want to create a sense of unity, pride and happiness within the city.

Serves them right! You say! Make THEM pay! I'm not the one contending for the Stanley Cup, why should I pay for the ancillary costs of such a run? Screw the Senators, say local businesses. Just because my bar is packed every night and my hardware store sells fifty Senators flags a day and my tour bus has twice the attendance as in summers past, this is all owed to me by the hockey club. I have put their logo in my window, I am advertising for them, therefore I should not be held responsible, as a taxpayer, to see that things are kept under control! My nine cents is MINE. This, I assume, is Ms. McRae's position. Which is terrific. Standing up for the poor lowly taxpayers is what city councillors are elected to do. So, she wants to see that their best interests are served, and that is commendable. Right?

Or, perhaps - and I don't want to say anything cynical about it - there's a slim chance that she is one of the very few local councillors who are enamoured with the sound of their own voices, and just like to talk as much as possible. Perhaps, but not likely, she is one of the few politicians who cut out every article in the paper in which her name is mentioned, and so she attempts to get in however she can. But I don't want to suggest that this is the case. It is far more likely that she just wants to save the taxpayers this extra burden, while at the same time cautioning our hockey team that Cup Contention comes with a price, so perhaps they could tone it down a little next year. Make the playoffs, by all means, but please don't get to the third round. Toronto doesn't have problems like this!

I say this because there are so few politicians that like to hear their own voices. Our own city councillors are beyond reproach in this case - thier suggestions are always made with the best interests of the city in mind. Take out the parking lots at Lansdowne and plant some trees? That will make the city prettier, while at the same time killing football and the 67s. And who benefits from that? Local artists. Without football or hockey, those entertainment dollars will be spent at gallery showings at places like the Parkdale. Our local artists will become far more successful, some will grow bigger than Ottawa, this will market our city to the rest of the world, and tourists will flock to Ottawa in droves to find the next Picasso and take in a pottery show at the Civic Centre. In our best interests.

Bury the power lines in the Glebe? Perfect. If the Glebe stops being the eyesore it currently is, what with all those messy power lines blocking the view of windows high in the street, we can finally get a good look at all the girls who bare their boobs in those previously-obstructed windows. That way, we can make Bank Street into a Bourbon Street North, where tourists will flock with their beads and their beers in order to catch a glimpse of the tremendous scenery that is the Glebe. Glebe residents will love it, since if there is one place in Ottawa that never receives noise complaints, it's the Glebe! It can be a big boob-fest, a Mardi Gras North, perhaps while the Ex is on, and we can hire tons of performers. The Ex will be much smaller of course, because there is no parking lot, and the Cattle Castle (that eyesore of no historic value) will finally have been torn down, so Randy Bachman and Kim Mitchell can play to thirty-eight assembled people while Kiss Me For A Dollar and Touch Me For Twenty Dollar booths replace that stupid whack-a-mole crap.

Bottle our own tap water and sell it back to the townspeople? This is not a horribly stupid idea, and it was not just one man wanting to hear his own voice. No! This was a devious plan to get government dollars. When this plan went ahead, the world would hear about it! The townspeople of Ottawa would accept this! And then, the rest of the world would begin to believe that the City of Ottawa, collectively, as a people, had become mentally imbalanced. Doctors would fly in from around the world and spend their massive doctor dollars on our steak restaurants and at our strip clubs. Medical aid would be sent from other provinces every day. Canadians would pony up the supplies we needed, because after all, our government lives here, and we can't afford to have the politicians overtaken by the same kind of lunacy that has gripped the town as a whole! Brilliant.

Dress codes and behaviour policing at city council meetings? Absolutely. That way, the politicians (the small number of them) who really like the sound of their own voice will be able to exert their moral superiority over the ones who don't know that blue shirts clash with green pants and who aren't aware that Prada was SO last season. And finally, these crass individuals would get their knuckles rapped when they ate with their elbows on the table. It's about time this sort of thing happened. In the words of my favourite rap group, The Coup: "It makes perfect sense to have a dress code at a nightclub, because people who get dressed up can't shoot you". I paraphrase.

Sorry I went on so long again. There is still more to say, but I feel brevity is key here, in as much as any sort of brevity is still possible after my lengthy diatribe. I guess I like the sound of my own voice.

Reviewing movies takes its toll on your brain.

As host of Cynical Cinema, I have so far attempted to review just about every new release that hits stores. Some I know for a fact I will not enjoy, but I must watch them nonetheless so that I can tell others, with honesty, that they also will not enjoy it. And, on occasion, I am surprised. "Because I Said So", for example, I expected to be abysmal. It turned out to be only dreadful, and so I was pleased. But the last three movies I have reviewed have likely lowered my IQ by about seventy-four points. And my IQ was 91 to begin with, so lord knows I'm now only slightly smarter than a stalk of celery. Thank you, Epic Movie, Date Movie and Half Past Dead 2.

It turns out that the people who made these films must have similar IQs to mine. Only they are below the level of a stalk of celery, and might in fact be dumber than a box of Triscuits. Date Movie and Epic Movie are two of the worst cinematic experiences I have ever endured. In fact, I could not even endure Epic Movie beginning to end, and I stopped after about 40 minutes to go take a cold shower, watch some paint dry and stick my head in the oven. The idea behind these movies is that they want to capitalize on the popularity of recent blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean and X-Men by spoofing them. Epic Movie has ample movies to choose from. How many epics have been made recently? Lord of the Rings, Pirates, there are tons. However, they open the movie with references to The Da Vinci Code, which tanked at the box office, Nacho Libre, which was anything but Epic, and Paris Hilton having a small dog. Which isn't a movie. Nor is it epic. There is exactly one laugh in Epic Movie...well, it's more of a slight smirk than a laugh. And it's a reference to the film Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. A movie seen by exactly twenty-one people worldwide. And also - not epic.

The thing that both Epic And Date Movie do in an attempt at humour is go over-the-top with the gross. When you can't think of an actual joke, just vomit on people. When there is nothing clever to say, try having someone's chest hair come off in your mouth. Or show a really graphic liposuction. Much like Robin Williams stand-up, there is no actual content in these movies. Although at least Robin Williams makes up for that with craziness and a manic delivery. (STILL NOT FUNNY, by the way) but these movies have nowhere to go but disgusting. So you don't laugh, you don't care, and you cringe every time something vile happens. What's the point in watching that? Date Movie is the worst offender in terms of the vileness, but Epic Movie is still the worst movie ever made. Ever.

The reason it is the worst movie ever is that it was actually released to theatres. That's a prerequisite, I think, for being called the worst of all time. And Half Past Dead 2 was a direct-to-DVD release. And it is the one that made me angriest of all. In 2001, my favourite ridiculous actor, Steven Seagal, made a solid attempt to resurrect his career with the almost-decent movie Exit Wounds. It looked like he would be able to make a real comeback. Then in 2002, he made one of the worst movies of all time, and it relegated him to direct-to-DVD films for the rest of his life. That movie was Half Past Dead. It starred Seagal and Ja Rule, one of the worst rapper-actors of all time. IT was a prison movie set at Alcatraz, and was too stupid to talk about. But not for some movie execs, apparently, who have talked about the brilliance of Half Past Dead for the last five years, to the point where it seemed a sequel was in order to that classic film.

The have even hired two of the stars from the first movie! Kurupt, another rapper-actor who is actually WORSE than Ja-Rule, and the spanish prison guard guy. Who is in the second flick for eight seconds. And Kurupt stars. When you can't get Ja Rule, get Kurupt. This is a poor idea. Here's a better idea: If you can't get Ja Rule, don't make the movie. On second thought, if you're even attempting to get Ja Rule, think twice about making your movie. And because Seagal would not deign to sign on to a sequel of this magnitude, get Bill Goldberg. This is a former wrestler who was also the guy they got when the couldn't get Jean-Claude Van Damme for Universal Soldier 3. Another classic. If you can't get Steven Seagal OR Jean-Claude Van Damme, get Bill Goldberg. Which makes him quite possibly the worst actor to ever appear in movies, possibly the worst that ever lived. There's a possibility, although I believe it's slight, that somewhere in small-town USA, say Hoboken Hamlet near Wichita Valley, there's a dinner theatre company that presents plays written by the local general store clerk, who occasionally let the slow-witted guy who usually mops up the stage play a tiny role as the hotel doorman in one of their productions. And there is a very slim chance that he is a worse actor than Bill Goldberg. But it isn't likely.

Why? If the orginal Half Past Dead was watched by 212 people, and 210 of them thought it sucked, why would you EVER make another? This is a staggering idea. The whole thing is a big long useless prison riot, with the "hardened cons" not looking like much more than kindergarten slap fighters. I can't really describe the lunacy of the film...in fact I just don't want to, there's no point in describing something you will (hopefully) never see. It's the idea that someone, somewhere decided to MAKE this movie that is too stunning to believe.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bachelor parties make me happy as much as they irritate me.

I have always been vaguely irritated by the notion of a bachelor party. Exactly what is the idea here? I am to suppose that the woman I intend to marry will go out on her own, I will go out on my own, and we will spend our last day as single people before getting chained to one another forever? And of course every bachelor party ends up with porn, or at the peelers, or what have you. (And much the same for bachelorettes, I might add.) So then we are again to suppose that once our buddy is married, he will no longer be able to go to the strip club? Ever again? That only NOW is he absolutely free to do as he pleases. The implication being that just having a fiancee isn't really a commitment, it's just something pleasant to say. Only once that ring is on your finger and the documents have been signed are you truly in a committed relationship.

This is bizarre. It seems to me that as soon as you call someone your "girlfriend", you are automatically making a commitment that does not really change once you are married. The idea behind calling my girlfriend "my girlfriend", is that I don't plan to sleep with anyone else. That seems to be implied in the nature of the words, unless you have one of those kick-ass open relationships to which I can only aspire. So then when you get married is the idea that now you REALLY shouldn't sleep with anyone else? No, same deal, right? Marriage is no different, only now you've had some party about it. So why is a bachelor party about "your last day of freedom"? Your last day of freedom came the day before you said "yes you can call me your boyfriend". In point of fact, the leap from just dating to "in a relationship" is much larger than the leap from "in a relationship" to "married". So when the girl you're dating says "let's be exclusive", and you think about it, and it seems like a good idea, set a date. "We'll become exclusive on the 15th, I'll have my party on the 10th." Now THAT's when it should happen. Try it - I bet it'll go over awesome.

That way you actually CAN go have that last hurrah. Go to the clubs and actually pick up. Go look up that ex-girlfirend you want the one last time with. And that way, if the relationship fails, then you get ANOTHER big party when you start up your next one. Ideal. As it stands, all the bachelor party is, is a drunkfest with your buddies, a quick glance at some dirty boobs, and after-hours poutine at some greasy spoon. It may even be a way to incite jealousy on your part, as you watch your single buddies leaving with girls and going home, as you sadly make your own way home to the ONLY girl you'll ever be with ever again.

That being said, they ARE fun. And Saturday's was great. My buddy Eric St-Cyr, who I used to live with, is getting married. In fact, he left me for her, in a way, a long time ago when I WAS that single guy who bothered all my friends by doing what they were no longer allowed to do. Of course, it was great despite the usual bachelor party nonsense. The hat shaped like a penis, the pink shirt and the markers so people could write messages on it, and so forth. I suppose this is worthwhile, simply because it identifies you as a bachelor party to other bar patrons, and as such you might get more free drinks. But I do find it all rather unnecessary and annoying. But it was good anyway.

We kicked things off with road hockey in Orleans at a local rink. God, I'm out of shape. We played for less than two hours, and I could barely move my legs. I was so sore that I could barely reach up to wash my back in the shower. I really need to get more excercise. After we all showered, or at least some of us did, we hit the Honest Lawyer downtown for dinner, drinks and debauchery. Only, because it's a bachelor party, and for the reasons I have outlined above, debauchery does not take on Caligula-esque proportions. In fact, it was barely Andy Dick-level debauchery. OK. Fine. It's the wrong word altogether.

After the lawyer, we went to the Rainbow, where a Motown covers band was playing. I thought they were awesome. One of the most entertaining cover badns I've seen in a long while. And there were a couple of really hot singers, also. Doc made a good point this morning though, which was that at that point I was so far into the bag, I might have been entirely wrong about both the attractiveness of the women AND the quality of the music, but the place was packed and I certainly REMEMBER having an excellent time. I'm certain they really were that good.

My buddy is a bouncer at some club downtown called...I don't know. Tequila somthing. I didn't even know until we passed him on the street on the way to the Rainbow, and he said he'd get us in when we came back. When we returned, there was no chance for us to get in, and he had to recant his offer. Apparently Lukas Rossi, the guy who won that Supernova rock star contest, was performing there, and dozens upon dozens of young dumb girls flocked there in droves to scream in ecstasy and throw their...shoes? at him. (I don't really know what they'd throw. We saw them all rushing in and none were wearing bras OR panties.) So we had to go to the peelers. Of course, it's a bachelor party.

The first place we went was lousy. Two girls working, one was a bartender, and eleven customers. It looked classy, it looked high-end, but the talent and clientele was almost identical to one I once went to in Baie-Comeau in Quebec. Only, that club didn't even have a sign. It was just a door in a barn. Anyway, I'm not a huge fan of the ripper clubs anyway. I like going with guys who look shabbier or nerdier than I do, because they are then the ones who receive the high-pressure approach. Unfortunately, on Saturday night in the second club I must have been the shabbiest looking, or the nerdiest, or perhaps the person who exuded the most desperation, because the high pressure sales tactics were being applied to me by everyone. And I find it difficult to remain polite while still being clear about my intentions. My intentions are as follows: I will not be spending any money on you. Or your friends. I could drink my entire paycheck away in here with four beers, and there's no chance I'm giving up a drink to irritate myself. It's like bing in a club full of scantily-clad high-pressure saleswomen. Let's move things forward. They obviously work on commission.

When that was over, I got distracted talking to an old friend from college, an effeminate young man who I last saw going somewhere with Max Keeping. He must work in TV, but I can't remember what we discused. What I do remember is that when I turned around, my ride was gone. I had to cab over to the Elgin Street diner to get some poutine and get a place to crash. I was staying with the bridegroom. Mostly because my girlfriend was out of town on a road trip all weekend and I had no place to stay what with no car, but also to re-capture old memories of the days when I lived with Eric, and I got up at 4 to do the show, but I would run into his room for a last-minute cuddle with him and Katie before work.

All in all, I still find the idea of a bachelor party obnoxious. We got Eric a couple of lap dances, but rather than enjoy them, he ended up getting a lecture on the pros, the cons, and the various merits of the institution of marriage. From strippers. Sort of like a better looking, skankier, episode of the View. Of course, he doesn't even want a lap dance, but it seems like the thing you're supposed to do at your bachelor party. So fine. What's important here, though is that we all had a very good time. A very good, very expensive, very booze-fueled time. The next morning there was all the usual stuff to attend to - getting me a new toothbrush, showering off the marker that was all over us, and driving the bride-to-be to the clinic to take care of her sprained ankle. Also at the clinic was her friend Chris, who had split his head open during the course of the previous night's bachelorette party revelry. Nothing says successful evening like injuries.

A fine weekend of burgers.

My goal this weekend was to eat nothing but free burgers. I almost made it. Things started nicely on Friday when Harveys brought in burgers for us to eat, to promote their everybody-gets-a-burger-free day on Sunday. They are celebrating their 40th anniversary, and apparently, they were voted Canada's best tasting burger. No idea who the other contestants were. I do enjoy a Harveys burger, but the people who voted must never have been to The Works. So they're giving every Ontario resident a free burger to celebrate, and that was free burger one.

Free burger two and free burger three came at Cadence Design Systems. They are our first "project partners" with the Doc and Woody Fund for the operating rooms at CHEO. We have been attempting all year to raise 30,000 dollars to purchase a Tri-Gen nail system for the operating rooms. We finally reached our goal a few days ago when Dr. Mike Pilon, our dentist friend, gave us the final $700.00 that we needed to put us over the top. The people at Cadence bought an operating table, worth 40,000 dollars, in just SIX WEEKS. Not only that, they managed to overshoot their mark, and presented us on Friday with a cheque for FIFTY thousand dollars. An unbelievable effort from all concerned. They had held pool tournaments, poker nights, chili cook-offs, dances, car washes and innumerable other events, and boy, did they ever come through!

One of the ways they raised money was through the sale of a special spice mix created by one of their employees, Jim Dean. This spice mix was worthwhile. He was using it on the chicken burgers, the hamburgers, asparagus and mushrooms at the barbecue where Cadence capped off their fundraising drive. Some seriously addictive stuff. I would have had more than the two burgers had I not filled up on the very addictive mushrooms. Kevin Keohane from CHEO was there as well, to accept the oversize novelty cheque, and the festivities were capped off with some pie-in-the-face action. Curtis, the guy who organized the whole thing, and Nick, the top-ranking guy at Cadence, both took some of the whipped-cream-in-a-pie-plate. This is a big thing I think in offices, since it is so out of the ordinary for an office party, and is certainly different from your average day at the office. For us, it's kind of old hat, but it is difficult to be jaded about something like that when it's a great expression by people who are celebrating having done a truly great thing.

I barbecued hamburgers for supper also. But I paid for those.

Free hamburgers number four, five, six and seven came at Audiotronic, where I was doing a live commercial on Saturday. They broke out the barbecue! Like they knew just what I wanted! Free burgers number eight and nine came at the Honest Lawyer, where I went for a bachelor party. One was slipped to me by a kindly cook from the kitchen, and the other was abandoned by a friend who had begun to celebrate many hours before the rest of us, and decided any extra stress on his stomach would perhaps be too much.

Free burgers number ten, eleven and twelve came at Harvey's on Sunday. I went there only twice, but at one location I hit both the counter AND the drive-through. The scene inside at the Harvey's on Innes was incredible. It was almost an hour's wait in line before we got to the front and grabbed our burgers. And Harvey's knew what I was up to, because they slipped me something extra for free. Only, they didn't quite get it, and they gave me a poutine. About which I wasn't going to complain.

So, in the end, I had fourteen burgers this weekend. But I paid for only two! Success! Let's see that kidney stone return now!