Saturday, September 8, 2007

OK. More KISS.

There were enough responses to my KISS post that I felt I had to write another post about it, rather than attempting to answer every comment individually. First of all, the Beatles. Just because their initial success was a triumph of marketing (paying the girls to scream, which led to real screaming girls) and image (the haircuts and the cutesy banter), that does not in any way make them comparable to KISS. And just because SOME of the Beatles' songs contain inane lyrics does not make them comparable to KISS. That's kind of like comparing Pauly Shore to Marlon Brando, simply because Brando had a couple of movies that weren't big box office hits also. With KISS, ALL of their lyrics are inane. No one can argue that by and large, the Beatles catalogue IS one of substance.

So I think there IS something wrong with KISS comparing themselves to the Beatles. This truly is like Paris Hilton comparing herself to Charlize Theron as an actress (which she recently did, may she die soon). Once you have created eleven timeless albums, once you have created not just one, but seven divergent paths of influence through popular music, once you have become the absolute biggest band in the entire world in terms of popularity AND influence AND critical acclaim AND musical relevance. Then you may compare yourself to the Beatles. But no one ever has. Maybe Elvis would have deserved the comparison. But that's it. Not even Bob Dylan could make this claim.

Courtney, who sent me a very long email about her love for KISS, made the point that if you showed a picture of KISS to anyone in the world, they would be one of the most recognizable bands - a point Paul Stanley has made several times himself. And I agree. Next to the Beatles and the Stones, they are likely the number three most-recognizable band. However, ask those same people to name the members. Or to name a KISS song. Or a KISS album. There are likely 200 bands on that list ahead of KISS. Up to and including the Spice Girls, Slipknot and The Pussycat Dolls, the three bands that leap to mind as the direct descendants of KISS. If I took a picture of Paris Hilton around the world, I bet more people would recognize it than a picture of Robert DeNiro. More people would recognize Lindsay Lohan than Martin Scorcese. Nicole Ritchie has a more well-known face than Meryl Streep. This doesn't mean you're good. It means you're famous.

The suggestion was made that KISS is the epitome of live rock and roll. I agree with this statement in part. They are the epitome of a live act. Much like David Copperfield and his ilk. But rock and roll? No. The Who, Stones, Zeppelin (I assume), Hendrix (I assume)...these bands are the epitome of live rock and roll, because it is not simply the fact that they are live and loud and have an incredibly intense stage show that makes them kick ass, it is also the fact that their music is good, it is relevant, and you are sucked in as much by the music as you are by the performance and the explosions. I WOULD go to see KISS live, for the same reason I would go to see David Copperfield or Cirque Du Soleil or the Jim Rose Circus. Not for the same reason I would go to see Joel Plaskett or Bob Dylan or Neil Young.

The question was posed: Since when do musicians have to only play music? What's wrong with marketing? And who says that when you're a musician you can't do other things than play music? All valid points, and all true. Every musician has to market themselves in some way. Either they do it themselves, or they have some big corporate marketing department do it for them - The Sex Pistols, for example. Nothing about Sid Vicious being in the band was relevant to the music, it was all a giant marketing ploy where they found the most messed-up guy they could, so they would get in all the papers. I get that. And there is nothing wrong with Bono doing his African relief stuff, with Ian Anderson owning a trout farm, or whatever people do when they are not performing music. All I'm saying is that KISS is one of the bands (and there ARE many others) where the marketing has become way more important than the music.

The fact of the matter is, I love KISS. The same way I love Steven Seagal. And I love the KISS Army the same way I love the rabid action movie fan who doesn't care if a story makes sense, only that something blows up and someone fires two guns whilst flying through the air. The same way I love wrestling fans like Ted and his ilk, who can be absolutely passionate about something so stupid. No, it doesn't make the fans stupid, but it makes them cute in a oh-it's-great-that-he-loves-that sort of way, like a guy who's very attached to his incredibly ugly, so-ugly-it's-cute dog.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The adventures of Hilary Duff and the phallic-shaped glowsticks

While the whole town of Ottawa is abuzz following the latest major concert event in our fair city, those of us cynical and mean-spirited enough to openly dislike Hilary Duff are confused. Exactly what is the appeal of this pop-tart? Perhaps, I suppose, it is that she is NOT a pop-tart, merely a pop-nothing. Whereas the Aguileras and Spears and Pussycat Dolls of the world make their nipples and nobbles, drapes and carpet an integral part of their stage performance, Hilary Duff maintains her air of squeaky-clean teenage cotton candy. Tasty, but not exactly filling. We spoke to a few guys this morning who had to drag their daughters and step-daughters to the show last night, and they all said the same thing. 6,000 screaming 12-year-old girls is enough to make a grown man nuts. (Speaking of nuts, apparently the glow-sticks handed out to these young girls last night looked remarkably similar to, well, something you would expect more at a Paris Hilton concert. If she ever give concerts. And I certainly hope she doesn't.)

However, it got me thinking - grown men were going nuts, but it is a far different kind of nuts from their 13-year-old sons. If I had a 13-year-old son, I would send him to EVERY Hilary Duff show, every Britney or Olsen Twins or Jessica Simpson show I could. Why? Because this is an idea I never took advantage of when I was that age! I should have gone to all those shows I wanted no part of! New Kids on the Block! Janet Jackson! What was I thinking? I know what I was thinking - I hate this music. Screw you AND your Escapade, Janet Jackson. But I was going about it all wrong. How often does a 13-year-old boy get a chance to throw himself into a seething sea of overly excited, shrieking 13-year-old girls? Never. So go, now, while you have the chance!

The same principle applies now that we're older. We all know how good and how easy it is to hook up with a woman at a concert, but it's a little tougher at a Slayer show than it is at The Who. And it's a little tougher at The Who than it is at say, Def Leppard. That's what you can do, now. Find the rock show women absolutely love, and the one they get off on. Then hang around outside, until Bon Jovi has finished sucking his way through that fifth encore, and collect the goods as the concert hall empties. This is my advice to you - you know that creepy guy who hangs out at Scotiabank Place, leaning on one of those flagpoles until concerts get out? Well, you too could be like him - creepy, but successful. Just pick the right show - any show can get you laid, not any show can get you twins or a team of freaky gymnasts. So Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, the Scorpions, any cheesy and crappy hair metal band from the 80s, and, for some reason, Comfortably Numb, the Pink Floyd show we're presenting in October. Don't ask me why (or for any details - my girlfriend reads this blog), but that show is a gimme! (More so at the bars than the Museum, but who knows!)


Tom Pechloff (our news guy who is filling in for Randall the few days he didn't want to come in this week) and I were discussing passports this morning. I am hoping in the next year to be able to visit my buddy Kent in the States, and I will need a new passport, or a renewal of my old one, or something. Last time I used it was when Kent and I went to Thailnad, six years ago or something. So I looked up the list of people who are eligible to be my "guarantor" on my passport, if and when I actually begin to go through the process. The list is hilarious! Here it is:

Be a Canadian citizen residing in Canada and must be accessible to Passport Canada for verification.
Have known you personally for at least two years.
Be one of the following:
Lawyer (member of a provincial bar association), notary in Quebec
Medical doctor
Minister of religion authorized under provincial law to perform marriages
Notary public
Police officer (municipal, provincial or RCMP)
Principal of a primary or secondary school
Professional accountant (APA, CA, CGA, CMA, PA, RPA)
Professional engineer (P.Eng., Eng. in Quebec)
Senior administrator in a community college (includes CEGEPs)
Senior administrator or teacher in a university

Umm...right. So, as I understand it, under our current system, chiropractors are treated on much the same level as telephone psychics and that guy at the bus stop who does card tricks, but they are trustworthy enough to vouch for my ability to travel? Optometrists and dentists are fine, but not pediatricians? Oh, that's covered under medical it's either redundant, or you get double points for having an optometrist stamp your passport application. you get two passports!

What makes me laugh, more than anything, is the seemingly arbitrary nature of this list. How is it determined that THESE particular professionals are more trustworthy than your grocer, your neighbour who's on welfare, or the guy who drives around with the Jesus Is Coming signs on his car? Cops but not firefighters. Pharmacists but not paramedics. Accountants but not astronauts. I know some high-ranking government officials - do they count? No, better ask that chiopractor you went to a couple of years ago. At least they didn't include politicians on that list. Apparently, their trustworthiness is somewhere below that of lawyers, pharmacists and veterinarians.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jeff Brown is gone.

We have been trying to get Jeff Brown on the phone for some time, so that he can give his own explanation as to why he left, and what is going on with him. We shouldn't really be surprised, those of us on the Doc and Woody show, when he does not call in at the appropriate time, the time upon which we have all agreed. You see, Jeff was never on time, even when he worked with us. Also, Doc has set up the phone calls. And no one whom Doc books to be on the show ever calls in. Doc is somehow cursed. And thirdly, Jeff has clearly forgotten us, having moved on to bigger and better things in the thriving Metropolis of Toronto, home of his beloved Maple Leafs and smog. He has forgotten the good times we had with him as our boss. He has forgotten the fondness we had for him and the memories of us that I'm sure he will cherish, 30 years from now. He has also forgotten that he promised to renegotiate my contract and that he owes my friends and their production company some money for a commercial they produced. Those friends are no longer speaking to me. Thanks Jeff. So long!

So here is the real deal, this is what is actually going on. Jeff came here a few years ago, from Q107 in Toronto. He had been the afternoon drive guy there, along with Carly, and he was replaced in T.O. by Kim Mitchell. Yes, that Kim Mitchell. He is, after all, a wild party. So Jeff came here, with the goal of making CHEZ 106 number one. He did. After making us number one, his work here was done, so he jumped ship, looking for another station to perfect. He discovered such a station in Toronto, JACK-FM (which is similar to JACK here in the valley, only bigger and cooler). (JACK is run by our same parent company, Rogers. A while back, Rogers decided to do an experiment with JACK in Toronto by firing all their DJs and on-air personalities. It was just music and commercials, that's it. Thankfully for those of us who are in that profession, the experiment failed, and their ratings took a major hit.) Jeff is now over there attempting to resurrect that station.

Of course, Toronto is more appealing to Jeff than Ottawa. That is where his hockey team is. Also, now instead of making that horribly long commute from Carleton Place to Ottawa, which would take him three hours on the mornings where our meetings were scheduled for one hour, he now has a nice, leisurely drive into Toronto from, I'm told, Peterborough. Now he can leave his house at 5 am, get to work for 9, leave work at 5, and get back home for 10. Genius! At any rate, he is gone for good, and Carly has gone with him. Either Jeff is just too lazy to break in a new co-host, or Carly is too lazy to find a new gig. I don't know which. But they are great together, and Toronto, I am sure, will welcome them back with open arms.

So there it is. I am writing this down because I still get people asking me "whatever happened to so-and-so, used to work at CHEZ 106?" Invariably, I have no answer to this question. You see, that person worked on the air at CHEZ before I worked there, I never met them, I probably haven't even heard of them. Some people ask me about on-air personalities who worked there before I was BORN. So no, I don't know where Digger McTarmac is now, or Senator Walnuts or Stabby Curtainrod or anyone else with some clever radio name. Unless they worked there in the last five years, I am lost. But I do know where Jeff went, and why. He went to Toronto. Because Toronto has more money, and they were willing to give some of that money to him. Next time you are in Toronto, tune into JACK-FM for your fix of Moby Dick, Edmund Fitzgerald, and Stompin' Tom.

A comment on Randall's comment.

Randall had a great commentary today, slamming our city councillors for (once again) having their heads up their asses. The whole issue was that Larry O'Brien (a businessman by trade) wants to have final say over the money that is taken in and given out by the council members. Of course, this measure, much like every other measure ever tabled in our City Hall, has been met with considerable resistance, hair-pulling, biting, tears, scratching, clawing and heart-wrenching shrieks by the giant douchebags who sit at that table. Well, most of them. Chiarelli and the other three not-douchebags-this-time, good for you.

Randall's point was that it was a pretty decent idea, and that it couldn't hurt for O'Brien to oversee this stuff for the next three months, which was the proposed time. What struck me, however, was that apparently, this was NOT the case before. When I read about this latest pile of sobbing from City Hall, I was frankly amazed that this had to be suggested at all! Had I thought about it, I would have automatically assumed that the mayor had final say in these matters. But apparently that could be dangerous to the sissies over on Elgin, so they will fight it tooth and nail. For Christ's sake, he's the mayor, people. How come this isn't already the case?

Speaking of elections looming.

Speaking of elections looming, I have to laugh every time I see the papers now. People all over the place are "threatening" elections. As though they would "threaten" to go on strike. I suppose this is apt, since during election times, I assume that every politician in the world completely quits doing anything productive for the country, effectively going on strike, in his or her bid for re-election. I just love the language. "Harper threatens Liberals with election". "Election threat looms over NDP." I can just picture these House of Commons sessions. Don't vote against this bill, or I'll call an election! Don't make me do it! Uh-uh, my finger's on the election button! Keep your hands where I can see them and sign this paper. I'm not scared!

There ain't no flies on

The story I saw first in several of our newspapers today was that John Tory story, if you can call it that. He was captured on youtube as he spoke to a student at the University of Ottawa, saying that years ago, they used to call it U of zero - (instead of U of oh, get it?). This is captured by someone's cell phone camera, and put up on the web for all to see this MAJOR gaffe by our elected official. And with an election looming, no less! Jim Watson demands that he apologize. And Tory does. His office sends out some statement about "if I have offended anyone with my statements, I am truly contrite..." or some such thing. My God! IS this even news? Does this even bear mentioning in a paper? Or is it just something people say to other people in a friendly way? In point of fact, if you watch the video on youtube;

It has been hyped up by some guy at what I assume is the Liberal Campaign IT Department, to the point of being hilarious. This is the most ludicrous thing I have seen in a while. And in no way could anyone ever actually be offended by that video. God, I used to go to Ottawa U. We ALSO called it that. We called Carleton Last-Chance U. My personal favourite, however, was "Carleton. Where the "K" stands for "Quality"." Now THAT's a lot funnier than U of Zero!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Why KISS makes me laugh.

I am slowly making my way through the KISS box set we were recently giving away in the Platinum Nation. Kissology, Vol. 2. We all know the massive marketing machine that was KISS in their heyday, and that sustains their legacy through these modern times. And I think most of us (except our weird traffic girl) realize that KISS was less than examplary when it came to musicianship. Amanda and I recently had a long discussion about KISS, and her point was that if they toured today, she would not want to go see them, since without Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, it was not real KISS. My point was that the "musicians", if you can call them that, are irrelevant in a band like that. Our discussion slowly became a fight, but fortunately the fight was interrupted before we came to blows, because "Beth" came on the radio, and she quit talking to me so she could go stand in front of the door to the studio and sing along to the tune at the top of her lungs. I quickly made my escape.

I understand the rabid KISS fan base. I get it. It is the same fan base who enjoy Chuck Norris movies. The more explosions the better. The more blood the better. The less substance the better. That is fine. But where KISS fans go wrong is in imagining that their favourite band is something more than it is. Which is a giant marketing machine, designed by the money hungry and frankly, slightly evil Gene Simmons, where music is secondary at best to the makeup and the explosions and the blood. The music is even secondary to the lack of substance! There have been other non-musical bands, those without specific skills with their instruments or the ability to write songs. But I will state this for the record right now. KISS is the most musically irrelevant band that has ever existed. In history.

And it's not their lack of skill at writing songs or playing their instruments that makes them irrelevant. If you ask musical artists who their influences are, a few will say KISS. One of these people is Garth Brooks. How much of "Love Gun" can you hear influencing "Friends in Low Places"? No, he means they influenced him in terms of the stage show he puts on. Explosions and showmanship and so forth. There have been bands with even less musical talent than KISS. Say, the Sex Pistols. But the Pistols were far more musically relevant than KISS could ever hope to be. They created, along with the Ramones, a style of music that was so vehemently anti-music, anti-arena rock, in point of fact, anti-KISS, that it became a genre of its own. So that made a difference. In the world of music, KISS did not.

Which is why KISS makes me smile. Placing KISS in music history in terms of their musical talent is like placing Steven Seagal in movie history in terms of acting ability. Both would finish at about number 750,000 on that list, behind the likes of Matchbox 20 and Pauly Shore. But what makes KISS entertaining, much like Steven Seagal, is that they have no idea they are this bad. Steven Seagal believes the FBI ruined his movie career, and that he would still be box office gold had they not spread those vicious rumours about him, whatever they were. But say this for Seagal. When he talks about his movies, he is so self-absorbed that he will never mention any other actors. In this way, we will never hear him compare himself to Marlon Brando. So we may never really know the depths of his delusions. And that is why I love him.

I do not love KISS. I am merely entertained by them, because they wear their delusions on their sleeves. I have just read the liner notes that come with Kissology, Vol II, the 3-DVD box set. In these liner notes, which are merely quotations taken from the members of the band (Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, for the most part) they really seem completely out of touch with the fact that their music is just plain not that good. A few sample quotes:

Paul Stanley (on Eric Carr, the drummer who replaced Peter Criss): I really felt for Eric - I see how overwhelmed he was, being thrown into something with such incredible history. Overnight, the poor guy has to become a Beatle.

Gene Simmons: Look at the Beatles - four guys from a small town, and as soon as outside girlfriends and lifestyles changed, the band changed. It happens.

Gene Simmons: "Kiss Meets the Phantoms" was, again, us stepping up and doing something we had seen our heroes, the Beatles, do. They made a film, which made it OK for us to make a film.

Paul Stanley: When we were approached about "Kiss Meets the Phantoms", we were sold on it as "A Hard Day's Night" meets "Star Wars".

On the DVDs themselves, there are several interview segments where the band makes reference to the Beatles. They have even coined a term for their appeal, "KISSteria", which is meant to be a "tribute" to Beatlemania. Ummm...guys? You're KISS. Comparing yourself to the Beatles is not only ridiculous, it's offensive.

Sidebar: Only one quote by a "musician" has ever been dumber, when Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst went on record explaining the title of their new album, "Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water", as their version of Sergeant Pepper - you see, the Beatles got so big they had to hide away from their fans by assuming a new identity, and Limp Bizkit had to get away from that pressure also, so they created their new identity, Chocolate Starfish. For Christ's sake, Durst! Sergeant Pepper was a concept album, not the Witness Relocation Program! And until you come up with something that is at least as good as "Octopus's Garden", you are hereby banned from even referencing the Beatles when you talk. Let alone comparing yourself to them.

OK, sidebar 2: Another quote that was dumber: Ted Nugent; "hey Obama! suck on this, ya punk!"

So anyway, the guys in KISS continually compare themselves to the Beatles, and they MEAN it. I believe that Gene Simmons is smart enough to know that KISS has absolutely nothing in common with the Beatles, but he uses the comparison as some kind of marketing ploy. But I also believe the other KISS members are just plain too dumb to understand this. I think part of Simmons' diabolically successful plan with this band was to get the others to drink his Kool-Aid, and away they went.

By the way - Kiss Meets the Phantoms? Well worth checking out. Star Wars, it is not. Hard Day's Night, it is not. Truly awful, it certainly is. Worthy of Steven Seagal himself.

God has it in for us.

You know how when you're in a relationship, or even when you're in a "relationship", there seems to be an unending supply of women willing to hop on board with you and provide you with a fantastic time? But you don't, because you're in a relationship? Or maybe, you're just in a "relationship", and so you break that off to take advantage of all these available women, and all of a sudden it dries right up? I think we have all experienced this. (The fact of the matter is, the best way to maintain the flow of other people willing to get together with you is to think as though you are still in a relationship. When I was single, I considered myself as having a relationship with the Green Bay Packers Football Club, and as such, I could easily talk to women as though I desired nothing more than their conversation, since it would not be infidelity. I could still be a Packers fan AND sleep with women. We had an open relationship, me and the Packers. It really worked, too.)

The reason this happens is that God has a wicked sense of humour. Oh, you're going to leave your girlfriend because you can have meaningless sex with lots of strangers? He says. Well...joke's on you! I'm taking those strangers away! In the same way, God has a very keen sense of humour when it comes to smoking. I first started smoking at the age of 24, just to throw off the demographics somewhat. The first few cigarettes I had were fantastic. I continued to really enjoy that buzz I got from each cigarette for abouta year. At that time, I could go a day or two without one, it wasn't a problem, and I could have quit any time. But I did like smoking, and I felt as though I could get away with it. I mean, I had dodged all those years of high school peer pressure, hadn't I? This was a habit I took up and chose for myself entirely on my own.

But after about a year, the buzz started going away. And as soon as I no longer had that buzz from smoking, I was then addicted to smoking. And I had to keep going, whether I liked it or not. In point of fact, I did still like it, and I was still enjoying my cigarettes. But now I don't like them any more. I now dislike smoking. So I want to quit. My original plan was that I would phase it out slowly. Cut back to 15 a day, then 14, then 13...I am now down to 10 per day. But this does not work either. Because now that I am doing it so seldom, at least compared to before, the buzz has come back! And all of a sudden, I enjoy smoking again! Lousy God.

The conclusion I have reached is that quitting smoking is like a band-aid. Cold turkey is the only way to go. My plan to do this goes into effect on Saturday of this week, and I plan to be just fine from then on. That way, you never discover your love for smoking again! It does not come back, merely the cravings are what you deal with, and that seems easy enough. Forget those patches and pills and injections and what-have-you. Just plain cold turkey. Why do they call it that anyway? Because cold turkey is delicious?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Planning ahead...for years from now.

We went to our friends' place for a barbecue dinner last night. Jim and Debbie have lived in the same house for almost 20 years. They have decided they are never moving, simply because packing that place up would be an enormous amount of effort that just would not be worth their while. I get that. Most of my stuff was already in boxes. And I still hate the thought of moving yet again. We had a lovely dinner, and some terrific food, and we ate outside ou their brand new deck in the backyard. Jim builds things for a living, and he obviously has put a lot of thought into the deck and it's layout. It has an octagonal gazebo, with all kids of neat features - a fan, running lights, and so forth. It is a two-tiered job, with the higher tier reserved for their barbecue and their smoker. A fantastic set-up.

Of course, this got me thinking - I now own a house, myself. I also would like a deck like this one. This might be one of the few things I would be able to do on my own without being so lazy that I quit halfway through. I'm pretty good with math, and from what Jim was saying, the math was the toughest part for him. Well, that and the time he fell off the ladder. Of course, I will have to wait six or seven years before I can afford even the wood that would go into this thing, but the seed has been planted in my brain, and now it's all I can thinkg of doing! Which is perfectly awful, frankly, because it means that I have now caved fully and accepted the fact of my residence in suburbia, picket fence and all. I once objected to that picket fence on principle, simply because I felt it was some kind of token of acceptance of yuppiedom, but now I object to it on aesthetic grounds.

I drove past my new house yesterday, and I found myself thinking, boy, that white fence is ugly, and I could really do something with that area...I would have to tear down that fence...but then I could build a deck there, one that goes around the corner of the house and reaches the sliding door...what am I thinking? Yet another barrier between me and standard living has been broken down. There are few things left. I still don't care at all about my lawn. But Doc was the same way I was once, and now he takes great pride in his manicured lawn and its accoutrements. I think it may be only a matter of time before I cave in to that as well, and spend time with fertilizer, and grub killer, and what have you.

Jim has convinced me that building a square gazebo is far better than building an octagonal one, simply by virtue of being simpler. I think I will do this, because a gazebo would be excellent where the patio is now, and the fence would have to be taken down, and then I pictionary parties? What the hell is wrong with me?


So, my dog's name is Muffin. That's fairly embarrassing. She is a toy poodle. Also fairly embarrassing. (For her, not for me. She seems to really want to be a much bigger dog.) I think every day she feels that little-dog complex, the need to be loud and powerful and tough without the size to make that possible. So she is bitter. And I feel for her. If I was a little guy, and I wanted to push people around, I would be loud and obnoxious and bitter as well. But I'm cool, because I can push Muffin around. Well, push her around is the wrong phrase, but I definitely helped contribute to her complex yesterday. I rubbed salt in the wound, added insult to injury, made the small guy feel even smaller.

You see, money is extremely tight right now for me, what with the move coming up in a month. I am trying to scrounge and save every penny until that time. The rest of the family isn't quite on board, but I'm eating the 40 cent macaroni instead of the 99 cent real Kraft Dinner. Instead of cutting up the Juicy Jumbos to put in said macaroni, I am cutting up the 99 cent chicken hot dogs. My life, for the time being is undelicious. The rest of them are eating well. I can't in good conscience subject two kids to that kind of awful food! That, and I am by far the household's biggest consumer of food, so it really is my sole burden to bear. God, I can't wait for regular KD and Top Dogs! It'll taste so, I know what you're thinking. No, I did not cook and eat my dog. Although I did look up some recipes. Turns out she isn't big enough to even be an appetizer.

No, I decided it might be a good idea to save the 60 bucks on grooming her by doing it ourselves. My girlfriend is a hairdresser, after all, and how much different is a furry little dog from a furry little dude, really? Muffin's hair was all in her eyes, she could barely see, she was developing a really long, gross-smelling was time. But it turns out that dogs and humans are MUCH different when it comes to haristyles. We came away from the whole experience with a new found respect and admiration for the likes of Marlen Cowpland, who must have had a ridiculous amount of skill to be able to dye her dog so consistently pink. Kudos, Marlen, You may have been the weirdest looking trophy wife ever, but you were definitely good at something. And at dyeing dogs.

Anyway, it was not as easy as it looked, in fact it was very difficult, and my girlfriend, being the hair perfectionist that she is, wanted to make sure Muffin's hair was absolutely even. Which, by the time she was finished the grooming, meant that she was absolutely bald. Her head still had hair, her paws still had hair, but her entire torso, neck - butt, was bald. We had taken enough fur off a 2-pound dog to fill a pillow. Muffin was quite good through the whole process, but then, dogs don't do mirrors. She does not know how ridiculous she looks. She does not understand that this is merely one further indignity to be heaped upon her psyche, to make the small-dog copmlex even more insulting. The fact of the matter is that she does not even look like a dog. I can't really describe it, but she looks kind of like a rat with an Ewok head.

I have reached the conclusion that poodle owners force their dogs to suffer the horrible indignity of all those poofy and irritating hairdos at the dog shows not because they actually think it looks good. (Everyone KNOWS it looks ridiculous.) But rather because poodles are the dog whose actual body and shape no one wants to see. They're freaky looking things. Muffin has a super long neck, a tiny little bum, and a fairly ridiculous head. It seems way too big for her scrawny tiny little body. But maybe that's just because it's the only thing left with hair.

Golfin' rules.

I still don't quite understand the reason behind many of the rules in golf. Oh, I get the whole "don't take your carts on the greens" thing, and the "yell fore if you're going to kill someone" thing, but what's with the dress code? On Saturday, I was presented with a choice - my mother-in-law wanted to go to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, and she wanted to take her grandson, who was in my care for the day. But there were no seats available in the car, so the only way he could have gone was if I had driven him, and, by extension, gone as well. My choice was I could either bite the bullet and attend the Hot Air Balloon Festival, or come up with something else to do with Andrew so I would not have to go.

I chose option B. I may have distorted the truth a little when I said "oh, geez, we'd love to, but we've already planned to go play golf!" Especially since I booked our tee time immediately AFTER hanging up the phone. But I just couldn't stomach the thought of attending a "festival" where I could watch performances by Eva Avila and her understudies, play bingo, eat cotton candy and watch some balloons go up into the air. It sounds to me like the Ex, only with less interesting entertainment (slightly less interesting) and balloons. Quite simply, it sounded excruciating.

Since I had booked the tee-time on the spur of the moment, and merely as a way to avoid something unpleasant, I was woefully unprepared when we arrived at the Canadian. When I go to golf courses, it is almost always a tournament of some kind, so I am wearing my CHEZ golf shirt. It never occurred to me that the white Ottawa Raiders T-Shirt I had on, or Andrew's camouflage shorts and T-shirt were inappropriate golf attire. That is, until we got to the first hole, and the marshall waitingt to send us off took me aside. "I don't know if they're enforcing the dress code today..." "Dress code? What? Oh, right..."

Over the course of nine holes, I had to explain many rules of golf etiquette to Andrew. But he's 12. How is he to know? But they all make sense once you explain them. We joined up with two 15-year-old kids, Matt and Taylor, and I felt that if we were with strangers it was more important to follow the rules and customs. For example, you don't talk during someone's backswing. You don't bring your pushcart onto the tee box. You don't walk through someone's putting line. When he would ask me why, I would have an answer for all these things. Of course, it doesn't bug ME at all when people are talking during my backswing or walking through my line or whatever. I'm not in the PGA, there's nothing riding on my shot, and I don't need absolute silence for absolute concentration. But I see why other people play this way.

But when he asked me about the "dress code", and why our T-shirts were not good enough, I really had no answer. He was right. It wasn't like they were ratty old T-shirts, we weren't sloppy looking, it was simply that they did not have a collar. That's it. Now, I think the Canadian is a little more lax than many of the courses in Ottawa, because I know we would have been asked to leave had we been elsewhere. But where did this system come into practice? Who decided that only those with shirt collars can play golf? It is, quite frankly, ridiculous, but it happens everywhere. I mean, golf is an elitist sport enough as it is. Only those with money are able to play golf. And those, like me, who just happen to be in a job where there is a lot of free golf. So golf is elitist enough as it is. So do they really think it's necessary to keep out the riffraff by means of a dress code?

I don't really know what the idea is. Perhaps the well-to-do people who golf really think that it is a sport for them and not the poorer folk. Perhaps they really believe that poor folk might be able to scrape together the 89 dollars it takes to play a round, and ruin the average tax bracket of the country club. And maybe they really think that once that low-income guy has scraped together that much money, and wants to come golf, the extra expense of having to purchase a shirt with a collar will keep him away. Now, I've seen Tiger Woods and Stephen Ames and Ernie Els playing without collars on their shirts. I have a shirt just like Tiger's no-collar job. (Again - free through work. Thank you, Bushtukah.) And I think (I will try this as an experiment next time) that were I to show up in this shirt, there would be no questions asked. There would be no taking me aside and questioning my attire.

Which means that these marshalls are placed at the front of golf courses, all golf courses...except maybe the be the arbiters of taste. It's not really the exact type of shirt they require, it's a nice enough shirt. Like that bouncer at the club who tells you you can't come in because you're wearing running shoes, or that you have to take off your hat. The thing is, when that bouncer tells me I can't wear my hat inside, I am going to another bar. There are hundreds of pubs in Ottawa to choose from, and I am not letting anyone tell me what I have to wear when I go out. (Which is the biggest reason I hate strip clubs. I'd probably go to them if I could wear my hat.) But you can't do that with golf. You can't take your buisiness elsewhere, because everywhere is like this. Unless you go to the...Edgewood...