December 30, 2014

Let's All Not Go To The Movies

Do any of you still go to the movies?
Like a lot of people, I'll go when I feel the film calls for it. You can have a solid surround sound system at home, but it still can't compare to what the best theatres offer visually and sonically. Plus, if there's a film you're really Jones'ing for, you want to see it right away.
My preference when going to the movies.
This way I can also be pantless.
But usually I'll go to a weekday matinee. And that's because I don't like, nor need, the "shared" experience of going to the movies. First, I've grown accustomed to having space between me and the next guy - in fact, a lot of space. Yesterday I went to a 4:30 screening at the Cineplex at Yonge and Dundas, and being the holidays, it was rammed. I had people on both sides of me. I know I know..first world problems, but me no likey. And I won't even get into the low hanging fruit annoyances like talking, cellphones and the waft of quarter pounders.
Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but I find that audience audibles pull me right out of the immersive experience. This list can be extensive and includes:
*laughing
*gasping
*shrieking
*guffawing
*gibbering
Not sure why so many of those things start with "g", but there you have it.

December 26, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio - Episode 4

Success! (to be swiftly followed by failure, I'm sure).  I've spent endless hours soldering metallic condenser fabricators and switching hub router interchange modules in the bowels of the Hobo Guantlet Studios, and below you can see I've added a player, currently featuring Episode 4. For the time being, this is the best I can manage with a non-existent budget and zero programming knowledge.

Ep.4 features Adorable, Divine, The Postal Service, Stabbing Westward and Big Audio Dynamite to name just a few. Of course, if it doesn't work from where you are, Episode 4 features nothing but a big fat donut hole. 
...

December 22, 2014

Let's Stop Kidding Each Other

Today was one of those days that I intentionally take off from work so I can run all the errands that I constantly put off. You know, like getting a haircut, visiting my bank, hiding a body..that sort of thing.

First up, drop the car off at the dealership for it's regular maintenance. For $188, I got a lube, oil and filter. For that much money, they should have thrown in some heavy petting with that lube. Next, a joyful field trip to the dentist. I was really due for a cleaning since I've put off the last few scheduled cleanings. Can you blame me? It's the fucking dentist.

This stock photo depicts a moment that has happened never.
In any event, aside from the pleasures of getting my gumline jabbed by a sharp instrument, a trip to the dentist is always fun due to the sheer trickery that goes on. It's like when James Bond meets a foreign spy at a fancy cocktail party. They're civil and polite, but nobody's telling the truth. Like a lot of people I imagine, my dentist and I have this unwritten rule where we constantly lie to each other. He used to ask me if I'm flossing regularly. I'd say yes. He pretends to remember what I do for a living by looking on his computer fourteen seconds prior to coming into the room. But I'm ok with our deception. It's like we're telling each other to stop kidding each other without telling each other to stop kidding each other. It's passive aggressive behaviour at it's finest. One time, one of his hygienists was busting my chops a bit much about the flossing thing, so I just said listen - if I and your other clients flossed as regularly as you'd like us to floss, you'd eventually go out of business. By letting my gums turn into the third act of a Friday The 13th movie, I'm sending your kids to college.

For the record, my teeth and gums are actually in pretty good shape, as I do floss semi regularly with a water pik thingamabob. This results in significantly less gore when I go for my cleanings, and I don't walk out of there feeling like someone's fired a shotgun into my mouth.

The other reason I don't feel bad about being less than truthful with my dentist is that today, as we made small talk about last minute Christmas shopping, he said he only has one stop to make. It's his annual visit to Tiffany's so he can present that little blue box to his wife each and every December 25th. Maybe this Christmas I'll show up at his house when he's about to give it to her - after all, it's really from me is it not?

December 18, 2014

Random Punch In The Face

Listen, I get it.

I understand people love Christmas and it makes them feel warm and cozy and sugar plums are flying out of their asses,et cetera. I can't quite pinpoint it, but for some reason, it annoys me juuust a little bit when I see people randomly wearing Santa hats. Like in a lineup at the Tim Horton's. Like in a mall. Like the woman at work who just walked through my department. There's also the suburban minivan set who put those antlers on either side of their vehicle.

You won't know when, or where, but one day, I will come for you. 
I do wonder what possesses people to make an outward physical statement like this. I know, I know. It's harmless and they're happy - who am I to spoil their fun right? So, moving forward I've got a plan. On Easter I'm going to carry a basket of coloured eggs around with me and take them into meetings at work. And for Hanukkah, I'll have a fully lit menorah with me at all times and bring it to restaurants. You know. Religious statement and ambience all in one. When the manager asks me to leave the establishment, I'll ask him to come close, whisper "Hitler" in his ear and then enjoy my complimentary meal.   

December 16, 2014

A Life, Realized.

A time comes in every man's life where he sits back and reflects.

Like Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty, a man often reflects on his accomplishments, his failures, his victories, his life. There are many moments that resonate in a person's lifetime. Some are filled with joy and some with sadness. Whether it's mountains scaled or professional failures, love realized or missed opportunities, one will often play back a lifetime of decision making and experiences, like watching some epic cinematic masterpiece.

Perhaps it's a quiet moment late at night sipping a single-malt scotch while contemplating the years that have gone by and those to come. But most likely, it happens during the most mundane moments.

This morning as I set off on my journey to my workplace, I sat quietly in my vehicle listening to the soothing sounds of classical music. It was Bach I believe. The string section was magnificent, and as I waited for the light to change, I marvelled at not just my life, but life itself. I thought it was quite miraculous that through millions of years of evolution, every single new moment is a result of what has come before it, leading it to the next. Dinosaurs have come and gone, global wars have been waged, and billions of lifeforms have interacted to collectively push us forward.....which is precisely when I glanced to my right and noticed the bag of cat shit on my passenger seat. A person can truly say that one's life is complete when, and only when, he or she is tasked with transporting feline feces for purposes of a veterinarian's inspection.

"It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. 
Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."

-Joseph Campbell

December 12, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio Episode 3

On Episode 3 of HGR, it's a time travelling sonic adventure..check out the mash of tunes whipped up from Kasabian, The Doors, The Stone Roses, LCD Soundystem and Echo & The Bunnymen, to name just a few. 

Episode 3 is live right now, over at girthradio.com.


December 9, 2014

Mayor Tory Needs A Haircut

I like John Tory.

He's a very very smart guy, is good for this city and is a class-act.
Why hello there. For some reason I'm resting on my elbow on
a nasty beach in December. 
But you know what, he really does need to do something about his hair. It's getting a little out of control, and we have to think about the reputation of this city because.....wait..what?..oh..um. sorry. Scratch that.

December 7, 2014

Yay A Parade

It's that time of year again.

Toronto's Etobicoke Lakeshore Santa parade was today, Weston's was last week, and always strangely early, the city's major Christmas parade was in July.

I saw this when I was 6 years old at my first Santa parade.   
I don't like parades. In fact I dislike them in every possible way. Part of it has to do with the fact that I used to be in them. When we were kids, my folks got us into an Irish accordion marching band. Yes. Accordion. I thought maybe I'd meet girls, but since I was new I didn't know how to play anything so I was given a flag to carry. A dude carrying a flag doesn't get girls. Trust me. 

But I just don't get the appeal of parades and being childless means I don't have to endure them. If they're good, they're rammed and people fight to get a good spot for their kid. If they're weak, although you have no problems getting a view, half the floats consist of four greasy car salesmen waving out the window of a cadillac strung up with an auto dealership banner. And who cares about seeing a fire truck? Living in the city I see them almost every day, and firetrucks, particularly with sirens, symbolize tragedy, death and sadness.

 And if that's not enough for me to hate parades, I have one more reason. Years ago when in university, a friend had a brilliant idea. He'd make up little red plastic stop-signs printed with "STOP at my house Santa", and we'd walk along the route and sell them for five bucks. We'd make hundreds and hundreds of dollars, he said. Instead, we lost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It was freezing, I got hassled by parade organizers and I sold exactly two signs, one of which was to my seven year old niece..at full price.

December 4, 2014

The Abyss

I think that reality TV is akin to the formation of the first labour unions. It was a good idea in theory but it just got out of hand. I truly find all reality television cringeworthy and simply unwatchable. Clearly however I'm in the minority because someone's watching - otherwise new series would simply not be produced.

I have several issues with reality TV. First, there's nothing "real" about it. Most people know that but still look the other way and turn off their brain. Ok, I'll give them that - everyone needs an escape. Second, each new wave of shows is derivative of the last, and as we enter the umpteenth year of reality tv shows, they've become increasingly cross-bred and mutated. In short, if we started with Brad Pitt, we're now the mountain men in Deliverance.

But one key aspect of the popularity is that people who watch feel inherently superior to the jackasses who sign up to be filmed on these shows. They'll think: Oh my god that guy's a crazy hoarder - I'm better than him. Wow those people are redneck white trash, unlike myself. A lot of people will say reality tv is terrible, but they are in fact contributing to more terribleness since they continue to watch, driving new productions.

So, all to say that while flipping around television, I came across a new low, or a new high, depending on your perspective. We've now entered the era where we're creeping into the exploitation of religious traditions, and that can be perilous. See, this show is about people in a neighbourhood who compete to have the most kick ass Christmas decorations. This also ties nicely into the whole suburban upper middle class bullshit associated with keeping up with the Joneses.

Honestly, I could barely watch a minute of this trype before wanting to pull out my eyes. Now I know Christmas is something that's completely exploited for commercial gain, which has been going on since forever. But the point is that this new niche has opened the door. What's next? A show where Jews try to out-Jew each other? Or maybe two black families compete to see who's blacker, complete with underlying tension associated with the fact that one family has lighter skin. Using the religious angle could be going down a very dangerous road - don't we already have enough crackpots in that arena?

This week on NBC - "Who Can Live Like A Slave?"

So, when pointing fingers about societal woes, be careful about blaming things like movies or violent video games. In fact, although Canada is a comparitively peaceful country, an already low rate of violence is now at it's lowest in many years. Instead, perhaps look at things in the media that may subtlely suggest conflict, division and a sense of superiority over others.

Like reality television.

December 2, 2014

Tuesday Morning Party

I seem to have gotten a cold.

For me, the associated symptoms are a huge pain in the ass. Rummaging around the closet we store sundry items in (yes I said sundry), I dug through the usual stuff - suntan lotion, tylenol, after bite and road flares.

So I came across some pills for colds and sinuses. But jesus christ spaghetti monster it's a nightmare reading the dispensing instructions. Yes I should probably get reading glasses, but my wife has decent eyes and she couldn't even read them. The print is like that old timey caligraphy shit you see on those tiny ships people put inside glass bottles.

I was sneezing like a banshee and I had a sinus migraine so I figure I've gotta roll the dice and pop two of them. I can proudly say this is the first time I've been high while at work. So, I'm bringing a giant bag of Doritos to my 11am meeting, which I can finish at home after I'm fired.

So ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, second quarter results were encouraging
and hey there's a unicorn!

License To Ill

Borrowing from the Beastie Boys' debut album of the same name, this post's title has less to do with rap and more to do with that obsession known in North America as the buffet.

When I was a kid, I'd see tv commercials for buffets and I thought they were fantastic. I remember thinking wow, look at that unending carnival of delicious food. They had roast beef and chicken and potatoes and ham and pork chops. No longer was I constrained to having a single meal when going to a restaurant like those suckers at other joints. I was unshackled from the tyranny of  just one bowl of soup or two pieces of bread. In short, going to a buffet was heaven on earth for ten year old me.

However, as I began to realize that there was no such thing as heaven, I also started to see the buffet in a different light. It wasn't an overnight transition though. I recall in my twenties when I was living in the Yonge and Davisville area of midtown Toronto. My then girlfriend and I would venture up to the Mandarin buffet on Sundays. Every Sunday. There we would drop maybe fifteen bucks, but we'd take full advantage and spend hours at the place, you know, to get your money's worth. We'd think yeaaaa...we're sticking it to the Mandarin because "we ain't leavin' " (said in a redneck accent of course) until we figured we'd eaten at least 25 or 30 dollars worth of food.
 
Oh no that bit won't do. Just give me the whole thing.
 Years later, I discovered the phenomena known as the all inclusive resort. So now, instead of going to a buffet every Sunday, I could go three times a day, and if I really wanted to, eat complete meals hourly at the resort grills or have room service bring me whatever I want, whenever I want. Having said that, resorts are about complete indulgence - a vacation to do as you please, although I always try to be mindful of not overdoing it. Let's not be fucking animals.

And then there's the weekend brunch buffet, which I don't like whatsoever. For starters, I don't feel like eating turkey dinner at 11am. But my main problem is that if you go to a brunch, you can easily bugger yourself for the rest of the day, effectively spoiling a relaxing dinner experience later on. Indeed, as a society we seem to revere the all you can consume mentality. It sounds absolutely fantastic in theory, but reality is a different thing of course. After you've inhaled that seventeenth plate of linguini in cream sauce, your body is gonna yell at you and shut down one way or the other. And there's something to be said about the acceptance of these sorts of restaurants. They advertise on the tv box, so it must be ok to do it right? And you see hundreds of other people at the buffet too, so it must be ok right?  I call it amortizing the guilt, which for the restaurants, translates to maximizing the profits.

November 30, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio - Ep.2

On Episode 2 of Hobo Gauntlet Radio, it's an eclectic mix of new and old, featuring Nine Inch Nails, Gorillaz, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and the outstanding Fatboy Slim remix of Cornershop's Brimful of Asha. And, don't be shy - embrace the epic Bastard Engine from Old World Vulture and stew in the goth juices of Killing Joke's Love Like Blood.

Check out Ep2 of Hobo Guantlet Radio at Girth Radio.com or click here.

November 26, 2014

A Meal To Remember

Tonight I came home after a long day at work. My lovely wife was out and I threw a small frozen pizza in the oven, and within 15 minutes I was sitting down to enjoy it as I watched the hockey game on TV.  It was one of those blue menu veggie pie's with mushrooms and peppers. As it happens sometimes, some of the cheese or pepper fell off a slice, some on the plate and a couple of small chunks on the rug. I picked up the stray food and put them back on the plate along with a bit of discarded pizza crust I shunned earlier for the tastier portions of pizza.

After a few minutes I got a phone call and as I chatted, I decided what the hell, I'd eat the relatively flavour-less crust after all. About five minutes later I hung up the phone and took my plate to the sink to wash it which is when I noticed something. Since I was focused mainly on the phone call, not only did I eat the crust, but I ate the bits of pizza that fell on the floor as well. Lovely! Given the so called five-second rule however, I figure no biggie.

While all this was going on, I had gotten a text from my wife but obviously was unable to reply while on the phone. Checking it afterwards she had given me an update on a pressing matter at Casa Hobo Gauntlet regarding Jones The Cat. Jones is a fine feline. She's quite affectionate and friendly and swears very little. But, she's been under the weather a little. She's been keeping to herself and has been throwing up, but from what I hear a cat that vomits is about as common as a crumpled up Leafs jersey on the ice at the ACC. Usually, when Jones yaks you'll discover the main mound of terribleness in one spot, but sometimes you'll find a few tinier nuggets in the general vicinity a little bit later on..

So, this could be my final entry here at Hobo Gauntlet. To my wife and family, I love you all.

Thank you, and goodnight.

November 25, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio

Extensions in life are good.

An extension on your mid term paper is nice. An extension on your house is fantastic. An extension on your junk would be simply wonderful.

Introducing Hobo Gauntlet Radio, the all-natural, gluten free extension of this blog. I'll be producing various episodes here and there, and I welcome your feedback, your musical requests and your shenanigans. Especially your shenanigans.

Hobo Gauntlet Radio is being produced in association with the delightful folks over at Girth Radio.com, so for the time being, you'll find episodes here. Girth Radio.com is an audio playground for creative people just doing it for fun, so do check it out. When I get smart enough to figure out how to post them on my own damn blog, I'll do that too.


November 22, 2014

There's No Such Thing As Small Change

I went to a local old timey diner for breakfast this morning. The food was fine and cheap and the servers were classic diner-lady types.

The decor is straight out of the mid 80's, and even the bathrooms were from another time. They have those really annoying faucets that only stay on when you physically turn them - I've never quite figured out how I'm supposed to properly wash my hands with those.  And even better, they had those manual towel roller thingy's to dry your hands. These are the kind where you pull down your bit of clean towel, and as new towel is pulled out, the old towel is fed back into the unit, and I guess they eventually take the whole roll out and have it washed. Even though I always get a clean bit of the towel, these things creep me out because you can often see the soiled towel that someone's just used.  For some reason the material - particularly the soiled portions - reminds me of old man's underwear. I just hope there's not some terrible incident from my past I've repressed that causes me to think this. But why is it that these old fashioned restaurants still exist? Certainly there are modern places to go, yet there's still something appealing about the diners. Often they remind people of their childhoods or some other earlier time.

Taking a larger view, we appear to be hard wired to seek out basic pleasures from an earlier part of our evolution as a species. This explains why we all love sitting around a campfire - it's primitive and cozy and strikes a chord, and we often just sit and stare into it. Similarly, we all crave the basic elements when we are denied them. In the desert city of Dubai, a gigantic indoor ski park was built. You can stay the night at an ice hotel in Quebec. City dwellers will drive hundreds of kilometers from their homes while enduring traffic congestion just to sit in the middle of bug infested woods.

We've certainly become an entitled society too. If you want ice cubes in your drink you just grab some from your freezer. Not long ago, massive blocks of ice were actually transported in ships from colder climates to warmer ones, making it a very hot commodity. The point is that as a society, we take a hell of a lot of things for granted. The invisibility in everyday things is the sheer brilliance of them. So although it's easy for me to scoff at the old man's underwear towel dispenser thingy, for a time that too was a very advanced solution to drying your hands.

An actual photograph depicting the invention of the donut.
Another misconception people have is the so-called "Eureka!" moment. Conventional thinking suggests that a single inventor or scientist would suddenly have a singular moment of brilliance. But in reality, major inventions were actually a compilation of hundreds of minor improvements from many different people over time. Whoever was able to pull everything together at the right time was the one who reaped the rewards though. Thomas Edison and the light bulb is a perfect example of this.

So pause sometime and look around you wherever you are. Think about all the blood, sweat and tears that went into making life unbelievably comfortable for you. You'll be amazed at just exactly how much was involved to get us from there, to here.

November 19, 2014

Cookin' Like It's 1884

Today I bring you yet another culinary adventure, but this time the only casualties were a dozen shrimp. But first, let's be clear. I am not a cook. I can handle myself in the kitchen, but my lovely wife is the real pro in that arena.

Given our commuting logistics, it makes sense for me to cook most meals during the week, which is fine. I always welcome opportunities to mangle meals. Once with friends over, I cooked some chicken fingers and nearly sent everyone to the hospital. Apparently chicken fingers need more than three minutes in the oven.

In any event, recently I tackled a reasonable dinner task. Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and shrimp. Easy right? Can of tomatoes, seasoning, onions, pasta. Grabbing the bag of shrimp from the freezer, I notice they didn't resemble the type I've seen before. Aside from their Hans Solo-like deep freeze state, they looked like they just came out of the ocean. Given this monstrous appearance it's amazing someone at some point in history took a leap of faith to eat them at all, but I digress.

The loyal family dog in the nineteenth century.
Loving, playful and good on a stick.
In today's fast-food, easy to cook, microwaveable roast beef in a bag society, I can truly say that preparing this meal was a complete anachronism. There are many steps involved, and the time to go through them all increases significantly since it was my virgin attempt. I guess Captain Highliner was more Dexter than fisherman, because when working with raw shrimp you basically have to disect the poor bastards.

I can say that I've never had to "remove a husk" quite like this when preparing a meal. Corn doesn't count because corn can't swim. You then move your way down to the millipede-like legs, another treat. But nothing compares to the jolly good fun associated with disembowlment. I've heard of this terribleness. I took my knife and did the deed, removing shrimp poop like you'd pull off string stuck on your sweater. Done right? Nope. Lo and behold, I discovered yet another string of nasty on the underside of the shrimp. So let me get this straight, they have two asses?  All in it took about an hour to deal just with the crustaceans - only a fourth of the ingredients in the meal.

In the end, the experience made me think about what humans had to go through to prepare food decades and generations before us, not to mention having to catch the fucking things. If it was 1884 and I was living like Laura Ingalls out on the prairie, chances are I'm not making it to 1885.

November 16, 2014

Meat Is A Murderer

They say physical pain is all in your head, so I guess I was imagining things many years ago when I hyper extended my left leg while playing hockey, causing a tiny muscle in my groin to unhook itself from cartilage.

Yea, I'm gonna go right ahead and speculate that the pain was right up there with giving birth without anaesthetic. Doctors in Emergency supported this theory when they mentioned that the intensity of my discomfort would be greater than a broken bone. Fantastic! Because the muscle was now just flappin' about in it's unholy unhooked state, every time I'd get a little chilly or tense up, the muscle would contract and all sorts of fun nerve endings would have a party, with me as the guest of honour.

So, every little bump I get nowadays has paled in comparison, and I use the hockey injury as a benchmark of sorts. Playing the same sport about ten years ago, I twisted a knee. This time however it was ball hockey, and to complete the emasculation, it was a girl who caused the injury. See, due to my unbelievable skill and incredible lightning fast feet, she decided that it was a good idea to slow me down by inserting her hockey stick in between them. I stepped on the stick and twisted a knee. I invented several new curse words that day.

Which brings me to the point. A couple of days ago I was fortunate enough to suffer another injury, albeit a relatively minor one and a tenth of the pain levels of those mentioned above. For a quick dinner, I decided to throw a couple of turkey sausages in the oven....can you see where this is going? No. No you can't.

I was nearly murdered by this the other day.
The sausages were in the freezer. Not having time to thaw them out, or the sense to defrost them for a few minutes in the microwave, I opened the package and naturally they were frozen together. For a moment I thought about taking a knife and gently stabbing the permafrost in between, but then thought..wait..that might be dangerous. That's what you call irony kids.

I don't need no stinkin' knife, I tell myself. I can just pull them apart. I'm a man goddammit and frozen meat won't defeat me. But these things were fused solidly and battling me good. It's as if they knew their culinary destiny and would simply not go down without a fight. I pulled harder , and harder, and voila! - they came apart. But wait..what is that shooting pain I feel in my finger? It was the equivalent of stubbing your toe very hard, but what in the hell could be causing this pain? As it normally is in my house, the lighting was dim. Looking at my finger, nothing seemed to be broken, bleeding or bent. Turning up the light however, I came face to face with my foe.

In pulling the sausages apart, a sliver of the frozen meat wedged itself underneath a finger nail, forcing it slightly up and away from the skin. It hurt, but I found it funny. The meat-sicle was about 1/2" wide and I had visions of it slowly forcing my fingernail off the longer it remained, so I yanked it out. To this day it throbs a bit, but I seemed to have dodged a bullet fired from the voting members at the Darwin Awards.

During this incident, I'm sure that turkey's ghost was up in turkey heaven and smiling - for just a brief moment, the prey had become the predator.

November 11, 2014

Don't Be A Dick

Generally, I like to think I'm a pretty decent person. Oh sure I've killed before, but that was a different time, when men were men and and a Peruvian Donkey Ride was an innocent pastime. 

Today's episode of DBAD comes to you from the local supermarket. On my way home from work, I had to stop by to pick up a few things. Some salmon, blue menu soda water (sodium free!) and a couple of miscellaneous items. See figure 1 below.

Well hello! Welcome to Figure 1
So I proceeded to walk around the supermarket to grab the various items. In addition to what I've mentioned, I also needed a lemon, Comet, Swiffers, minced garlic and turkey sausages.

This particular supermarket is one of those gargantuan places that also has a Joe clothing store, so I proceeded to have a look at some jeans. I pushed the cart to the side for 5 minutes and then returned to pay for my items. Within a few more minutes, people started joining the line behind me, which is when I took another look at my cart.  If you look closely, there is one additional item in my cart other than what I've mentioned. Too lazy too look for it? Here's a hint. Left side, and they are in a ..oh for fuck's sake it's the grapes. 

So, it seems that someone decided to grab a bag of grapes, only to decide moments later that he or she didn't want them. I get it. It happens. But, I would like to think that if I was that person, I would at least have the decency to put the grapes back, particularly because we're talking about a perishable food item. One thing for sure, I wouldn't be an utter jackass by dropping them in someone else's cart.

So unless your name is Richard, Don't Be A Dick.

November 8, 2014

Colours of The Rainbow

I was out recently for a pint at a decent little local pub. When I first arrived, I noticed an older gent sitting a little further down the bar from where I was. I'd guess he was about 70, and he had this incredible pot belly, the depth and girth of which was accentuated based on his posture in his stool.

He was leaning back and his hands were clasped together over his formidable belly. His eyes were glossy and tired, and he looked like a man you might see in an episode of Game of Thrones - perhaps a King who fought and ate and drank excessively. He also yawned. A lot.

I wouldn't want to clean out his cage in the morning.
In these instances, I sometimes wonder about the lives people have lived. Who knows what his backstory really was, but although he sat and enjoyed his pint, there was a definite sadness buried somewhere deep inside. At the same time, the man definitely projected a sense of I Really Don't Give A Fuck. 

About ten minutes later, his cell phone rang. As he answered, I picked up a well mannered, polite english accent, and I heard him make arrangements to meet a woman here at the pub. His wife, I assumed. Not long after that, in walked the lady on the phone, and my assumption that it was his wife couldn't be further from the truth.

She was about 40, but looked about 55 - the old timey 55. The kind from another era who had worked in a coal mine sort of 55. She had ratty hair, a rough complexion and she was twitchy. She rolled in to this place and he greeted her. She sat down and ordered a gin and tonic from a slightly embarrassed bartender. The picture was starting to come into focus now.

He yawned several more times as they spoke about things you might speak to your significant other about when you meet them for a drink after work, but on a different level. Instead of "how was your day", it was "that son of a bitch Ralphy stole all my fuckin' lottery tickets", and rather than "traffic was terrible", it was "my tits are cold".

They also argued, and I could tell that she was trying hard to contain the demons which writhed within. Relatively speaking, this bar was the Ritz for this woman. The kind that doesn't take kindly to screaming crackheads. The only reason she was allowed in the joint was because our polite English gentleman seemed to be a regular, so the staff seemed to look the other way. She was now walking a fine line though. Her volume began to increase, and the man lightly chastised her - not for the volume, but for the whereabouts of the two hundred dollars he gave her a few days ago.

It was apparent by this point that she was barely scraping by in life, and he was supplementing her with cash and a healthy supply of gin and tonics. She was a prostitute, but not in the conventional sense. There was no way this man was sexual with this woman. There was no way this man was sexual with any woman. Rather, she was a companion, and the only one he could get. He'd give her money to buy cell phone minutes, which went directly into her arm. Perhaps he saw her as a girlfriend, or maybe as a daughter but in the end it doesn't matter. It was someone that would talk to him.

After a few more minutes and fresh glances from the bartender, the woman's phone rang, and she announced her departure. Johnny, apparently, was going to meet her to get that thing. She gulped the remainder of the drink, kissed him on the cheek, and was gone. From the time before she arrived, to this moment, other than lifting his pint, he hadn't moved a muscle. His hands remained clasped, and he yawned again. He sat and stared at nothing in particular.

It was then that I realized that this man, was me.

Well no, that's not true. But the situation did remind me that ultimately people need people. And when necessary, class and other so called societal barriers will simply not matter. As mentioned above, perhaps then he was a modern day King of sorts, and she a pauper. But that's ok - it's all part of what makes us who we are.

November 5, 2014

We Have No Idea

Pause for a moment, and look around. Go ahead. At this very second, stop and take in where you are, what you're doing, and what you had for dinner last night.

Chances are, things aren't that bad. Sure, everyone's got problems and bills to pay but in the grand scheme of things, your life as you know it could be much much worse.

There are a lot of reasons your life is the way it is, but a major one surrounds the eleventh day of this month. If a certain terribly mustachioed tyrant got his way 70 years ago, it could be Oktoberfest every day where you live. Now I know that sounds like fun, but there's only so much sauerkraut one can eat.  So make sure you do pause and think about the sacrifices made not just by those who fought in WWII, but all of the men and women who have put their lives on the line for your country.

You'll never be as tough as this guy.
As for me, I recognize Remembrance Day in my own personal way, and make sure that every year I lose more poppies than I did the previous year. It's my way of saying thanks.

October 28, 2014

World's Best Mayor

To all the great cities of the world, I'm sorry to say this, but Toronto has the best mayor on the planet, hands down.

How can I make such a claim? Well today, our incredible Mayor John Tory showed up for work! If that's not enough, he didn't smoke crack all day and as of this writing, has not been videotaped partying with gang members and speaking in a racially insensitive Jamaican patois. And I know, I know, I realize this is probably pushing it, but I'd say there's a relatively decent chance Tory won't be flying to L.A to appear on Jimmy Fallon to be made fun of, thereby embarrassing the great City of Toronto.

Fingers crossed!

You're Lying To Yourself

Dear Tim Horton's.

Each morning when I pop by to see you, please stop asking me if I want to try the Dark Roast. Don't you remember me from the last four hundred and nineteen days in a row I've been here? And after you've interrogated me and we've exhaustingly come to the conclusion that I just want the original flavour, do not ask me if there'll be something else. "Why I'm glad you asked, because I completely forgot that I also wanted to order a thousand timbits."

I'll never put one of these in my mouth ever again, and I'm ok with that.
On a related note, to the lady I see in the lineup frequently - stop lying to yourself. That Bacon Wrap you order every day isn't healthy because it's in a wrap. It's just like the delusional folks who order a big mac, large fries and a diet coke. Don't delude yourself. If you want to eat that shit, eat it. Eat it, and at least have the balls to own it. 

October 26, 2014

Darwin was right

It's no secret our musical preferences are forged in our teen years. The youthful mind is a hungry gorging beast, like a sponge or that giant sand vagina with teeth in Return of The Jedi.

When I was about 13 I was bored with what I was hearing on the radio. I grew up in a time when Top 40 radio was on the AM dial. I hated it all. I didn't relate to Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar or Madonna.  Then I discovered FM accidentally when I tuned in to Toronto's CHUM FM to listen to Theatre Of The Mind late Sunday nights. Musically I'd hear deeper album cuts from bands like The Police and The Boomtown Rats.

It wasn't long after that I discovered the station that changed everything for me. It's branded today as  102.1 The Edge, but then it was the one and only CFNY The Spirit of Radio.  From top to bottom it was free-form radio at it's finest. DJ's would often pick their own music, and once or twice I even remember "The Live Earl Jive" pulling the needle off a record mid-song because he simply didn't want to hear it anymore. Think that would happen today?

I was exposed to punk, new wave and innovative electronica that heavily influenced the alt rock bands of today. Of course there was New Order, The Smiths, The Cure and Depeche Mode, but there was also a lot of obscure artists who wouldn't get airplay anywhere else, because other than a few college stations, it was considered too weird for mainstream radio.  Love and Rockets, Siouxsie and The Banshees, The Cocteau Twins were just so completely different, and I loved it all. CFNY would also spin tunes from Canadian bands who wouldn't get a lot of exposure otherwise like Skinny Puppy, National Velvet and Blue Peter. And, I must admit it's easy to throw on the rose coloured glasses, but in reality some of the music I heard wasn't really to my liking. At the end of the day, it's an artform and up to interpretation.

I know I run the risk of sounding like a cranky old bastard stuck in another musical era, but that wouldn't be accurate. See, I believe in evolution in all its forms.  Today, I embrace new music and listen to bands like Bloc Party, Muse, James, Mother Mother and many others.

Much like Jones The Cat, I too want to end up with only
a couple of teeth in my head.
The point is, for me it's important to never stop growing. This applies to everything that comes along with life, good and bad. Roll with the punches. Adapt or die. Instead of fighting change, choose to change because time will march on anyway.

As Moby so brilliantly said, we are all made of stars, literally. Everything that's happened before this moment has all lead up to what you are this very second. And if it's worked for life on this planet for a few billion years, how can we possibly think otherwise?

October 24, 2014

Phone Phun Phriday

So, my phone stopped working.

As such, I enquired about finally getting out of 1946 to upgrade my iphone4. Relatively speaking I guess it's like I have one of those giant cones old folks would put up to their ear.  I even caught myself saying "What's that sonny?!" in an old man's voice when my wife called me the other day. Yea you know the voice I'm talking about.

What's ironic is that it's financially more sound for me to get an iphone6, rather than just a modest upgrade to a 4C or even a 5. Something tells me that's no mistake.

My iphone4. 
Regardless, when it's all said and done, I could get a brand new bendable iphone6 for $600, which might be an issue for me personally because I wear unbelievably tight skinny jeans every day of my life. So then I thought - that's crazy. Maybe I should resist the urge to automatically contribute to our throwaway society, and look into repairing my phone.

I figure if the repair is less than say $100, it makes sense for me to go that route. Then when my current contract is done in August, it'll be at least $200 less for me to upgrade to a 6, and perhaps any bugs will be sorted out.

So the repair shop called me back and said they only had to  replace the charger port and it was only 60 bucks. Fantastic. I felt quite proud of myself that I made a Wise Adult Decision. Oh sure, 19 Chinese teenagers threw themselves off the iphone factory roof this week, but hey, 60 bucks is 60 bucks.

October 22, 2014

Grasping At Straws

Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling the Catholic church is worried. Very worried.

The last few years, Pope Billy Bob McGee seems to be pushing for more acceptance of homosexuals, atheists, other religious groups and even heavy-breathers. Just what the sam-fuck is really going on?

The way I see it, the Catholic church and other major religions are like any large corporation. First off, the dudes at the top are..well..dudes. Second, the Pope of Greenwich Village has to take a 30,000 foot view and look at the health of the corporation 10, 20 and 30 years down the road. They've finally had an epiphany. The reality is that religion is slowly losing it's grip on society as a whole, and that's bad for God business. After all, someone's gotta pay for those fancy robes and paedophile-related lawsuits. At least the incense they use in their rituals is cheap. I recently bought 1000 sticks for like 9 bucks in Chinatown. What a bargain!

Listen, it's just to help my migraines ok. 
So, the Church is spinning it all to tell us they're hip. Hey look - Popey McPope is tweeting out selfies dumping a bucket of ice on his head wearing a YOLO t-shirt, and rumour has it he's hosting SNL next week. Whoop whoop whoop!

Whatever man. I'm onto you.

October 21, 2014

Crappy Tire

To the uninitiated, here in Canada we have a large hardware store chain called Canadian Tire. It's been around since that ape beat that other ape senseless in Kubrick's 2001, so it's a bit of an iconic retail giant in these parts.

Recently I was there to exchange an air conditioner jimmy hat, aka an A/C cover. This is the plastic tarpaulin thingy you throw on it to protect it over the winter when you're done using A/C in the Fall.  As an aside, I'm not sure why it's necessary to protect it from the snow when all summer long raccoon shit and rain beats down mercilessly into the guts of it, but that's a question for science, not me.

Canadian Tire stores are supermarket sized, so searching for a relatively obscure item can be something similar to what your average Hobbit experiences in any given Tolkien novel. Sure, there's signage indicating different departments, but narrowing it down is the challenge. Could be Home Comfort, could be Seasonal. If the latter, because it's nearly November, have A/C products been relegated to the warehouse? I approach one elderly employee nervously stacking boxes on a ladder, which is a surprise in itself since Canadian Tire stores are usually staffed by 17 year-old's who know less than me about home repairs.

He grunts the location to me, so I find my way to the myriad of shapes and sizes of A/C covers. The dimensions shown on each package vary wildly - some expressed in inches, some in millimetres, and some really dusty ones are expressed in latin. And, is it length by width by depth, or some other mind-bending permutation? I'm proud to say I achieved a mensa-level 68% in grade 13 relations and functions, so it was no surprise I ended up selecting the correct size.

Fuck all'yall waiting in line behind me. I'm posing for this stock photo.
But ahead of gloating in that success, I still needed to go to the exchanges desk to swap out my old cover for the new one. It all started off well, but after a few more seconds of her scanning the receipt, she utters "oh my it's really been a long time since you bought this!".  This is true. I purchased it in May, but the reality is, you don't use the product and realize you effed up until you need it - ie The Fall.  She cryptically stares at me, and takes off her reading glasses, suggesting she means business. "Well sir, unfortunately I'll first have to call my manager to authorize this".

In reality, however, I know what's coming. She's playing Jedi mind tricks with me. Of course they'll exchange the goddamn fourteen dollar A/C cover. See, she's been trained to give me the gears for half a second, but ultimately give me what I want so I walk out of that store thinking: Golly Canadian Tire you guys are great! She even picked up the phone and left a voicemail for the manager indicating what she was doing, but in reality, I think the woman faked it.

It's not the first time a woman's faked it.

October 19, 2014

Groundhog Day

While having lunch the other day at my workplace cafeteria, I took a moment to observe. I noticed the same 20 or so people I typically see when I'm at lunch.

There's that loud group of brash non-employee contractors who seemingly have been on campus for years repairing something or the other. Since they're not actually employed by the company,  I suppose they feel ok about being rather voluminous in their lunchtime antics.

There's the reserved looking woman who runs the gym, sitting alone eating carrot sticks and a kale salad. She's wearing her usual yoga pants and sporty zip up gym jacket.

And over there is the group of well dressed, quite attractive late forties'ish women who are fighting their way up the ranks. There's a certain loneliness and desperation about some of them, so perhaps they're experiencing troubled marriages or kids who hate them.

Of course, you can't forget about the cafeteria ladies. There's Mabel - not her real name but it's just as cafeteria'esque as Mabel - she's annoyed as usual because the manager refuses to have anyone help her during lunch rush. And Carla at the cash, the strong, loud and chatty woman who gives people cut eye when they use their interac card to buy a coffee for $1.39.

Then yesterday, I was walking around downtown Toronto when I came across this:

Yes I know I'm in public and working, but this nose isn't gonna pick itself.
See, there's a marathon going on around Toronto, and crews were scattered about setting up barricades, signage and such when I came across this. These are rows and rows of medals for people competing in the marathon. As you can see, there are literally hundreds of them, and likely thousands from what I could see.

What does this have to do with my lunchtime observations at the cafeteria? Everything.

Think back to when you were in school. Just like the contractors, there was always the obnoxious table of loud students - sometimes just extroverted kids or maybe the offensive line of meat heads from the football team.

There were the shy nerdy kids who would eat alone, much like the woman who operates the gym.

And who could forget about the table with the hottest girls in school. They knew every dude was checking them out, and the bitch faces were strong in this group. Despite being attractive, there did always seem to be a certain sadness, not unlike the group of cougars in the cafeteria.

And cafeteria ladies have always looked and behaved the same from the dawn of time, and amazingly all have the same names.

As for the rows and rows of medals at the marathon set up, well, isn't that just like elementary school track meets where everyone gets a ribbon?

When I was a kid, I remember thinking to myself. I can't wait to become an adult, because after school, life's gonna really start and it's gonna be so different and fantastic. But when you really think about it, adult life is nothing new. It's really just the same old shit we experienced when we were kids, except now we pay taxes.

October 15, 2014

Killing Them Softly

If you haven't seen the film Killing Them Softly, I highly recommend it. Nowadays Brad Pitt can afford to take better roles while leveraging his notoriety to send a message if he so chooses. Such is the case with this film.

It's essentially a commentary on how Western society in particular has become de-sensitized to the realities of  war. We have economic interests in some shit-hole part of the world? No problem, just send uneducated grunts who have no future anyway.

But the film gets the message across in a clever, accessible way. It features expendable low-level hoodlums who are just trying to get by, and although they're criminals you still feel a degree of empathy for them since they seem to have no other options in their pathetic lives.

Having said all that, it's easy to point the finger at governments and take the moral high ground. We're all equally guilty because all of us benefit from said economic interests, so we too have blood on our hands. And speaking of blood, there's also a parallel to that delicious rare steak you consumed over the weekend.
Not tonight honey, I've got a headache.

Thanks to Meat Processing Inc., chicken, turkey, fish and beef magically appear in our pristine supermarkets. We conveniently forget about the horror often experienced by these creatures as they shuffled off this mortal coil and directly onto our forks. So you see, we are all killing them softly.

But it's simply a characteristic of where we are in the food chain. Your wife sees a spider on the wall, you're dispatched to kill it. Personally, I will always make an attempt to release any sort of creature into the wild, provided of course it requires nominal effort. And even then, the chances that this insect survives in it's explosively new environment are slim, but at least I'm giving it a fair shot.

So next time you're at the gourmet burger shop and order a ground up cow topped with a double helping of hacked up pig, at least pause and have a little bit of appreciation. In the billions of years since the universe began, things have aligned themselves just so you could shove that greasy burger down your neck.

It easily could have been the other way around.

October 10, 2014

Cringe Of The Day

If you live in Toronto, I'll start by saying congratulations. You're a citizen of one of the finest cities on the planet. But where there's a yin, there's a yang.

Each weekday morning as I prepare for work, I eat my delicious president's choice whole wheat shreddies, read newsworthy items online, and in the background I typically throw on The Chill Lounge digital music channel. It's a soothing introduction to the gong show that awaits.

But for some reason today, I decided to flip around channels on the television box. As expected, a myriad of awfulness known as morning tv shows was on full display. Shrill is a word I don't use very often, but it applies here. To me it's mind-numbing gun-to-the mouth sort of stuff. I know, I know, I suppose it's entertaining for some people. Who the hell am I to judge right? But the proverbial line must be drawn somewhere, so here I'll point out the worst of the worst.

It's CP24's Dance Party Friday.  To the unfamiliar, various cameras around the station get shots of an endless sea of awkward white people creakily bending to techno beats. The news anchor, the control room crew, and even the honkiest man on the planet Cam Woolley out on highway 400 "dancing" with five OPP cops. It's painful to the nth degree. Each Friday before the segment I can visualize some out of touch producer trying to rally the troops. "Come on everyone, It'll be fun! It's wacky. This is gonna go viral!"

The perfect storm: sober white people bustin' moves at 7:22am 
When watching today, I caught myself cringing deeply, uttering  "no..no..oh no..ahhhh", like the scene in Casino where Robert DeNiro starts juggling when he gets his own tv show as the Food and Beverage Manager of the hotel.

It would be bad enough if this went on for say 20-30 seconds as they kill time going into a break, but it went on for at least a minute or two, seeming like a horrific eternity.


October 7, 2014

I Beat Children

And I'm proud of it. You see, it's no easy task issuing smack-downs on people who didn't exist in the last millenium.

I'm talking of course about the internet based tank-battle game Tanki Online, which I'm completely addicted to. In a nutshell, you create and build a custom military tank and enter various battle scenarios, either in teams or as an individual warrior. Yes, I said warrior.

Demographically speaking, I'd hazard a guess that the average person playing is a twelve year Russian boy. So it truly makes me feel like a man when I annihilate small children.

What's that? I should pick a fight with someone my own mental size? Well how about the animal kingdom? Ever see footage of  a tiger chasing down and eating a baby gazelle?  The way I figure it, if it happens in nature, then it's ok in the virtual world.

Besides, it's no secret that the computer revolution is what truly balances the scales - look how it benefits physically disabled people in the workforce. So, on many occasions while playing Tanki I've had my ass handed to me by these kids, usually because they've been playing the game longer, or have built a superior tank with better ammunition or a stronger hull.

Vaporizing twelve-year olds is way more fun than putting up shelves
or building a deck..
 
Now I'll be honest and say that at first I felt a bit odd playing the game and getting emotionally invested in winning when I knew I was competing against children. Frankly, the paranoid side of me suggested that the FBI was listening in. For that reason, I stay far and clear from the chat feature, particularly when I'm invited to join other teams due to my unbelievably deadly skills.

The other thing you might ask is, why the hell is a grown ass man playing video games at all? Well, that just goes to prove that I have more in common with the other players than you'd think. You see, these kids are on to something. If you never grow up, you'll always stay young.

October 3, 2014

Strangle You I Must

It seems like every few years, there's a new batch of corporate speak that makes its way through organizations. In fact, it's just like the Ebola virus. You might think it's proprietary to the company you work for, but as different firms communicate to do business with each other, the vernacular creeps its way in like stinking dirty whorish vines on the side of your house. And yes, I fully realize the last part of that sentence might have been harsh, but that's simply what came to mind.

A number of years back, one of the most popular phrases was "think outside of the box".  After several people working in offices were inexplicably stabbed to death with Bic pens, that phrase seemed to dissipate. Recently I've heard "cascade", where some senior corporate chimp issues a directive from the top, and managers are told to "cascade this to your employees".

Well Nancy this deliverables report is good, but you forgot to include The Hot Karl you gave me
at the office Christmas party last year.  
But over the last couple of years, there's one phrase in particular I've been hearing, and it's time for it to die. It's "reach out", as in "I'll reach out to ABC company to discuss marketing initiatives."  I never liked the term from the get go, and the person issuing it was fabulously talented at other nebulous corporate speak, so I was suspicious about it permeating and spreading. I'd attend meeting after meeting and each time it was uttered, it was like a tiny tiny needle sticking into the back of my neck. Not enough to draw blood, but an irritant nonetheless.

Having said that, who am I to tell people what they can or cannot say? If I was Hitler, a James Bond Villain or even one of those bad guys on Scooby Doo who only dress up as a ghost, I guess then I could dictate what people can say. But until that day comes, free fucking Willy. Say what you like, but do so at your own peril. Because after awhile, corporate speak can sometimes illustrate something very interesting. It says that you've heard it on some Zig Zigler motivational cassette, or read it on a smart ass T shirt purchased on Queen West, and sadly, you end up sounding rather vacuous.

But, at the end of the day, let the chips fall where they may, que sera sera and it is what it is...

October 2, 2014

That Can't Be Right

Welcome to this morning's episode of That Can't Be Right!  It's the show that will amaze and baffle you at the same time when you're told something that can't possibly be right!

Today we bring you a true tale of wonder, courtesy of my friendly neighbourhood car dealership.

You see, for a while now I've told myself that I should really get a spare key for the car. It's one of those things you put off and put off until one day it bites you square in the ass.
Someone actually took quite a long time to set up, light, focus 
and frame this photo. Show some respect.

But no not me. I'm a responsible person after all, so I wisely and pro actively contacted the dealership about the replacement so that if I ever lose my keys, I wouldn't be in a bind because I've got a spare! 

Similarly, a few months back I popped over to my local hardware establishment for house keys. Nine bucks later I had four keys. Now that's some responsible adultin'.

So about an hour after I emailed the dealership, the service manager writes me back. No problem, he tells me. We can get you a replacement key for you for $538, plus tax! 

Nooo..that can't be right! Right? Oh but it is friendo, it is.

October 1, 2014

Encounter at Fowlpoint

Perhaps it's just me, but I feel rather uncomfortable in supermarkets when they have in store demonstrators giving out tiny morsels of food.

Recently I was in one on a Sunday morning just before noon. There weren't many people about (which is why I decided to go that early), and as I came around a corner with my cart I see one of these guys at his little booth.  His easy bake oven is all fired up, cooking some type of chicken slathered in some sauce. Since there's nobody else around he immediately looks at me as I turn the corner and our eyes lock. Although he's feigning enthusiasm, in reality he just wants to give out all his goddamn chicken so he can go home to watch the Packers game. But I can't do it.  I just had a bowl of Shreddies and I really don't feel like eating glazed chicken. Yet strangely, I feel all committed now.

Part of me wants to dart down the nearest aisle to escape the situation, but another part of me wants to help the poor guy out by letting him do this thing. After all, my Sunday morning started about 9am, relaxing with coffee and reading the news. His probably started about two hours earlier than mine where he woke up thinkingJesus Christ I've got to go hand out glazed chicken today.  

So, I decide to make a compromise. I continue past his booth and smile, at least acknowledging the guy. I get about halfway and then I hear the pitch. I can tell I'm his first of the day. He stumbles with his script and refers to his notes. But I feel for the fella. I've had similar gigs..in fact I've had much worse gigs.

Thanks to my university education, I'm wearing a bowtie in a supermarket
Anyway, I tell him no thanks, but I still feel the need to give him a reason. Sort of like when a hobo asks you for change. You tell him you don't have any, but you both know that's a lie. But I'm honest. I tell him I just had some Shreddies, with blueberries, hoping that will convey the idea that all that business just wouldn't mix with chicken. I still feel a little bad so I make a weak attempt at comedy. I ask him if I can take some to go. You know, instead of a tiny bit in a crappy paper cup, maybe he can cook me a whole chicken breast and wrap it up so I can have it for lunch tomorrow. As is often the case in these situations, he clearly didn't realize I was joking and frowned at my suggestion.

I was exhausted by this point. Instead of explaining I was kidding, I thought it was best to just walk away. I stopped by aisle 14 for swiffers. Then over to aisle 20 for cat litter. When it was all over, I walked out of that supermarket on that crisp Sunday morning, and never looked back at him once.

September 30, 2014

Modern History

It's always interesting to look back at old photos of the town or city you live in. You might see a main street that looks somewhat similar but with vastly different looking buildings, cars, public transit and even old-timey looking people. Just google high school yearbook photos of kids from the 1920's. The entire tenth grade looks like they're in their forties.

But it's easy to forget that a cityscape changes over time, and some change is so gradual we don't even notice it happening. 

Here's a classic example from the city I live in, Toronto. Honest Ed's is an iconic (and gigantic) retail store that opened in 1948. It's tacky and they sell cheap junk, but it's a landmark. The now deceased owner, Ed Mirvish, was a promotional maniac. He'd draw thousands of people to the store every year as they lined up around the block when he gave away free turkeys at Christmas.    
Those lights suggest I can get a corndog inside.

But soon, Honest Ed's will be gone, so I figured it was an opportunity to enter the madhouse one more time...perhaps for the last time. It's a convoluted maze of schtick, and for those of you prone to claustrophobia, you might lose your shit in this place, literally if you can't get out in time to find a bathroom. But as I walked around, I ignored the trinkets and paid more attention to the old promotional photos of B and C list celebrities adorning the walls, since the Mirvish family have been involved in Toronto's theatre scene for decades.

Having said that, I did find a child's winter jacket for $3.99. What a steal. It's the only garment of clothing you can buy that will get you arrested when your kid freezes to death walking to school.

Nowadays, Honest Ed's is more of a caricature of itself, yet Torontonians will always have a soft spot for the old joint. Do try to to make your way there one more time, before it's gone for good.  

Something tells me there's been a shitload of dishonest activity in this alley.

September 29, 2014

About a hundred years too late

These are cute.

Assuming you live in Toronto as I do, I'm sure you've seen them around town. Would you ever use one of these given the digital alternatives?

The infamous media critic Marshall McLuhan said "ya I'll have a double double with an everything  bagel with cheddar" when he was in a Tim Hortons once. But he also said "the medium is the message". In this case, I suppose it professes this city's love for staples.

A recovered medieval torture device: Criminals would have their faces dragged along this board
thrice daily for a fortnight.

Business Crackumen

You know, I'm no high-falutin' CEO, but I would have to think the business owner who made the decision shown here is not that great at business.
Yes but I'd like an extra helping of duct tape on my kofta please.

Look I get it. Times are tight. You're trying to run a small operation catering to people with three bucks to their name. Chances are this isn't the sort of joint that requires a jacket and tie when dining at this fine establishment.

I would hazard a guess however that the time it took the owner to go look for his duct tape, strategically cut it and cover up what slop isn't available anymore, might be equivalent to the cost of a new goddamn sign.

September 28, 2014

Of Trouts and Common Courtesy

Someone, somewhere in summertime said this before, but it deserves a re-telling, perhaps best framed as a Public Service Announcement.

Being in public means we are all sharing the space with each other. It's a communal situation, so we should all be cognizant of some basic guidelines, which I'll re-visit here and there.

For now, one thought to pass along. If you are employed, chances are there may be some kind of cafeteria or lunch room. In my case, it's the former, which has a bank of microwave ovens for folks to warm up their lunch. The process of doing so is a bit of an awkward ritual and strangely intimate and personal. But that's another story.


Don't bring this to work.
When we share microwave ovens, let's be aware of what we are sticking in said ovens. In short, when considering what to bring to work for lunch, do not bring a trout. A trout is a harmless beast on its own, but when it's been selected to ultimately reside in your stomach, warming it up in a work cafeteria setting is never a good idea. Oh sure, to you it's a delightful fragrance that stimulates the salivaries. But to me, sitting nearby innocently having my relatively scent-free lunch, it's a dagger. A dagger that cuts deep.

Thank you. We now return to our regular programming.

Touching Hell

Not literally of course. I mean, nobody can touch hell. If Hell did exist, it would likely feel similar to the tactile delight that I experience a few days a week.

Cat food.

You see, Jones The Cat eats the stuff to survive. When she's slumming that is. You see, most days Jones eats people food. Tuna. Fucking tuna. You know you've done alright as an animal species when your culinary regimen involves a dish you can get at an expensive corner deli.

Anyway, I think it's important that we all remember our roots. Modesty is of paramount importance in a person's character, so by extension I like to instill it in Jones The Cat too. This is why Jones supplements her VIP diet with cat food. In all honesty though, it's not regular cat food. It's porn star. Due to her laundry list of hang-ups (psychological or otherwise) Ms Jones eats Medi Cal Hypoallergenic. Which brings me to my point.

Regardless of this stuff being of premium quality, cat food is still....cat food. From a mass production perspective, I shudder at the thought of what this stuff is. At the end of the day it's basic animal nourishment peppered with some flavour instinctively appetising to cats. But what's revolting to me is the feel of the stuff. Unless I'm doing it wrong (and I probably am), when I serve up some kitty mush, much of it sticks to the fork due to it's cold mealy consistency. As a result, I use a finger to push the terribleness off the fork into the bowl, which is when I am Touching Hell. Feeling this stuff on my digits, I physically cringe and some unknown organ within retreats, curls up and dies. The food is soft, but not too soft. There are tiny gritty particles I can detect, and forgive me if I forego commenting on the scent, because I wouldn't know. Instinctively I breathe only through my mouth when serving this feline cornucopia.


Jones The Cat
When it's over, I go to the bathroom, turn on a hot shower and sit down in the tub, and begin to sob uncontrollably. And when I see Jones afterwards, she quietly looks at me and sometimes I think I see a quiet appreciation in her eyes. But then I realize I'm being ridiculous.

September 27, 2014

So Here We Are

Ironically, the simplicity of this post's title is what astounds me. Four little words that say so much. It's really a good centre point for me. A place of balance. A mental benchmark that I can return to when Life occurs.

There's even a song titled So Here We Are. It's track ten on Bloc Party's album Silent Alarm. It's one of those songs that resonates for me. Not a clue if it has the same meaning to the band as it does to me, but isn't that the point of art?

There's much to say here, so this is just the beginning. But this isn't just about me. Your words are welcome here too, but not mandatory. Life provides us with enough rules, so we don't need any more here.

Welcome to Hobo Guantlet. Let the adventure begin.