A Little Less Conversation

I'm not sure if anyone knows this about me but I do enjoy a nice bout of complaining. I try to save it for times I think are worthwhile but who am I to judge?

On the train that carries me each day to and from work, the conductors are required to call out the few stops there are over the public address system and make safety announcements. Their job has to be a monotonous one as they sit alone at the end of one of the cars facing the passengers and go through the same routine day in, day out.

For about a year, my route has had the same conductor. Rather than just call out the stops, he harnesses the power of the p.a. system and prattles on about the weather, calls out to people as they get on and leave and lets young children talk on it (cute once, not so cute every ride). When there's a service delay, he tells everyone to email the company and provides the address so people can complain. Sometimes he makes jokes but more often just funny noises.

He ends each 'set' with a very bad Elvis homage - Thank ya, thank ya very much. There's nothing like seeing a whole trainload of people rolling their eyes in unison to make you feel like you're really a part of something.

A few weeks ago, before I went to work, there was an announcement on the news that a murder investigation was underway on a pedestrian walkway near one of the stations we usually stop at. A young man had been knifed to death. The first morning train was cancelled as there was a concern that it might disrupt the crime scene. The train I take was allowed through but not to stop.

Sensing an opportunity to expand his repertoire and being a man who understands emergency preparedness, the conductor began playing the Pink Panther theme music over the p.a. as we approached the murder scene. He snickered over the airwaves that we should all be on the look out for Inspector Clouseau and then made a few more jokes. At the end of the ride he played the music again and thanked us for riding the 'Disoriented Express' and gave us his best Elvis again. People were even less amused than usual.

When I got to work, I emailed the train company (at least I didn't have to look the address up) and let them know that I didn't find it funny that while someone's father, son, or brother lay dead beside the tracks, everyone was subjected to this man's bad jokes about the situation. I suggested, because I'm also helpful, that someone let him know about open mic night at the comedy clubs. At least the audience there is expecting to be subjected to comedy. I also asked them to let him know that nobody enjoys his terrible Elvis impression either.

Two days later, there was noticeably less patter over the airwaves and when we arrived at the point where he'd usually hit us with Elvis, he very clearly enunciated Thank you very much and have a nice day. He's still doing it.

I was satisfied with this result until someone who sits in his car told a friend of mine that he was really pissed at whoever had complained about him. The source of his anger though was at the fact that this 'person' who'd complained had the nerve to say that he did a bad Elvis impression when obviously he does a very good one.

I shake my head but not my hips. Not for this anyway.


Dynamite With A Laser Beam

To dwell on the We Will Rock You debacle a while longer, I refer you to Holly's thoughts on the fandango.

I chose to basically say 'hated it' but she eloquently explains why.


Fake Blaze Of Glory

I once pondered whether an injury you sustained while playing a video game could be considered a sports injury. Barbara Bruederlin was kind enough to assure me that I was virtually an athlete.

A physical exam I had several years ago with my doctor brought up the fact that my heart rate seemed a bit low. My doctor posed the question ‘are you an athlete?’ to which I replied ‘Doc...you’ve seen me naked’. We both laughed, she a little longer than necessary.

I’ve never been much of a sportsman but still managed to get into trouble on the weekend. While playing Tiger Woods PGA Golf on the Nintendo Wii, I heard the crack of my club hitting the ball followed by another sound, me going arrgghowwwee (pronounced as it’s spelled) as something in my elbow gave way. I tried to keep playing but on the next swing, my cry got even harder to spell and I had to stop. I’ve decided that Tiger had me Nancy Kerrrigan’d because I was getting too good for my own, er, good.

To add insult to injury, I’ve now read that the American Medical Association is soon to vote on whether Internet and Video Game Addiction should be classified as a formal diagnosis. After the vote, the matter will go to the American Psychiatric Association to determine whether it should be called a mental disorder.

I'm waiting anxiously for the outcome as my permanent record's been a bit of a boring read lately.


And Bad Mistakes I've Made A Few

When Holly, my intriguing and intrepid blogger pal, told me she’d be in Toronto for a few days, we decided to get together for lunch or a drink and have a look at each other. I dusted off my raised by wolves defense in case my lack of social skills betrayed me but everything seemed to go just fine.

Holly was a lot of fun to spend time with and we had good conversation and laughs over dinner and then headed off to see the Queen musical We Will Rock You. On the walk over, we joined a gang, quit when we realized it wasn’t for us and then before you knew it, we were standing in front of the Canon theatre looking up at a 25 or so foot statue of the great Freddie Mercury on the marquee.

I’d seen this tribute to him and the show in passing but hadn’t had the chance to really see it up close. It looked more like Omar Sharif after a particularly bad night than Freddie. The legs were impossibly long and out of proportion and there were strange drapery folds on Freddie’s business area suggesting a sculpted wardrobe malfunction. And so tolled the first warning bell.

The kids in the show worked their tails off and sang their hearts out doing as much justice as they could to the snippets of songs they were given. Some had lyrics changed to fit the ‘script’ which was appalling. Peppered among the sexist and dated schtick were banal pop culture references to Britney, Avril and ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’. There was more groaning in the audience than in any of my porn films, not that I own or have ever appeared in several of them.

The staging, sets and special effects had Corky St. Clair stamped all over them although I was surprised to not find his name anywhere in the credits. This is the only time I have ever been thankful that poor Freddie wasn’t with us anymore. With the numerous re-releases and special editions of A Night At The Opera, you’d think the remaining band members would be sufficiently financially fixed to not have to abandon their souls so readily.

At intermission, I suggested to Holly that we could leave if she wanted to but she raised a good point by asking ‘but what if Act 2 is even worse and we miss it?’ We stayed and things didn’t improve much at all. Another great Holly moment arrived at the souvenir stand in the lobby where programs and t-shirts emblazoned with Queen lyrics such as 'I want to break free...' were being sold. Holly asked the person selling them if they had any boxer shorts for sale with 'Fat Bottomed Girls' on the back. The answer was no but the lady behind the counter thought it was a great idea.

Throughout the performance, I had the urge to call out to the performers to let them know just how bad the tripe was that they’d committed to. I couldn’t think of anything suitable although ‘She’s in the attic!’ did spring to mind. It refers to a fabled production of a play about Anne Frank where the performers were so bad that when the Nazis arrived at the door, someone in the audience yelled out ‘She’s in the attic’ in an attempt to end the misery.

All told, it was still a fun night and I was more than thankful to have someone along who could appreciate it in the same way I did. Thanks Holly and come again!


All Thumbs

One of my biggest childhood dreams was to be able to burp the alphabet but I don't think I ever got past 'B'. Since then, I've given up on such lofty goals.

The only stupid human trick I can claim as my own is this weird thumb thing where I can push it flat down with my other fingers. It might not look like much but it's all mine.

Do try this at home. If you can do it, this blog post is free!

Figure 1

Figure 2


Being Bella

Poor Bella Rossa.

Not only has she failed to make any sort of impression at her local coffee shop but now she must suffer the indignity of having me steal something she posted first.

After you've read her highly entertaining but troubling post, have a look at this amazing representation of 500 years of the women of Western art. Thanks You Tube and Bella!

Saints Preserve Us

Some of you know the lovely and talented Tanya Espanya. She recently did something rather amazing and something I could never do. She moved her blog to Wordpress!

Oh, and she gave birth! At 00:40, June 16, 2007, she and Rowbear welcomed little 9 pound Alexander into the world. Rowbear mentioned that they don't measure the babies now until after they've had their first bath, could be a French thing.

Although Tanya said she didn't want any photos of her looking bedraggled at the hospital, my spies did sneak me a picture of the new recruit.

Congratulations y'all!
I posted an item on Tanya's blog as well because she lent me the secret password. I will now go in and write several posts extolling my many virtures. Oh wait, I already do that here. Never mind.


Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Wheelchairs

A lot of people in wheelchairs just look bored to me. I wonder if they long for a sense of speed and adventure? In my usual generosity of spirit, I am offering help.

Knowing how much fun those little remote controlled cars can be, I thought, why not remote controlled wheelchairs? With people in them.

After a few minor modifications to the chairs and providing complimentary helmets, all that would be left to do would be wait for the looks of joy on those faces as we, the bored and able bodied, helped them whiz their way right into a real life smash up derby! It's not like anyone would get much more hurt than they were already, right?

To any disabled folks who might find this offensive, please let it be known that I do not support dwarf tossing, that's just mean.


Don't Stop or A Tale of Two Tonys

No spoilers were used in the composition of this post.

The Tony Awards seems to be one of those consistently low rated events begging for viewers. This year, someone had the brainwave to put them up against the series finale of The Sopranos. I did watch the opening and found it interesting that while Radio City Music Hall gave the Rockettes the night off, the big show opened with the kick line number from A Chorus Line. Genius whether intentional or not.

The series finale of The Sopranos was, in a word, satisfying. I'm not a big fan of shows that try to wrap too much up in a short span of time. Remember the send offs for M*A*S*H? Seinfeld? Six Feet Under? Joanie Loves Chachi? I hated them all.

Thank you David Chase for not crapping out.


Strange Magic

I believe this photo taken in my back yard to be either a crop circle or the tiniest hoax ever perpetrated.

Have I been listening to too much Coast to Coast AM as I drift off to sleep?


Until You Improve Your Business Acumen

PJ? You know how that business you opened a while back down the street from me that never seemed to really take off? I pass by all the time and try to think of ways to help you. I've finally hit on it. Try adding an 'S' to your sign and things might just pick up.

The sign reads PJ's Used Car.

In other news, last weekend, two of the major highways were closed for a charity cycling / rollerblading event. The proud corporate sponsor of the 'Ride For Heart' was Becel (pronounced Baycell). The local AM radio announcer read it over the air as the Beckell Ride For Heart.

It's the little things that make it all worthwhile.


Sorry Man

Do you think Alan Berliner would be insulted that both times I've tried to watch Wide Awake, a documentary film about his insomnia, that I've fallen asleep?

It reminds me of the time...

How Soon Is Now?

Beckeye of The Pop Eye recently sent me a list of demands, alright, questions but she did demand that I answer them. I'm happy to do it and say that it hasn't been easy. She appeals to my vanity, my jackassery and puts me on the spot in ways only she could.

1. You've introduced me to some great bloggers: Johnny Yen, Barbara Bruederlin and X-Dell just to name a few. All of the folks I've found through your links are talented and entertaining writers, yet they also seem to worship you as some kind of blogGod - myself included. Are you actually the glue that holds all of Blogdom together? Or is Write Procrastinator really the glue, through whom I found you?

I'm more like the sticky stuff you find on the bottom of your shoe Beckeye and since even disorganized religion is suspect in my eyes, Write Procrastinator must be honoured and blamed for everything. I'm not worried about this charge because he can write his way out of anything! Just about every person on my list is responsible for casting a spell on me for which I'm grateful. They make blogging fun and worthwhile. Except for that one guy.

2. I noticed on your profile that your first-listed interest is Opera. Were you being sarcastic or do you really think that you're better than everyone else?

Clearly, I'm better than everyone else especially if I'm the only one in the room. Opera (cue the Endless Love music, My first love...) was introduced to me a few years ago in the form of some free tickets and there was no looking back, just up, at the Surtitles. I love culture in all its forms, even the petrie dish kind.

3. You're from Canada. Can you explain what was up with Nell's deviant relationship with Dudley Do-Right's horse? Is that something that goes on often in your part of the world?

At first I was puzzled by this question until the first image I found seemed to lend credence to your charge. I think it's got something to do with her name. Remember that whole Chicka, chicka, chickabee. / T'ee an me an t'ee an me thing? As Bubs recently pointed out, strange things happen in Canada and I refuse to take the blame for almost all of them.

4. Do you have a man crush on Coaster Punchman? Details, please.

Coaster Punchman was one of the first characters in the blog world (hi Chelene) that I wanted to see step off the page and into real life. As it turned out, he was as smart, devastatingly funny and charming in real life as I'd been led to believe on his blog (even though I suspect his partner Poor George actually writes his best material). Rather than a crush, I think of him more as my American Idol, only taller and more talented.*

5. You're given the task of writing the American Idol winner's schlocky single for next season. Without using any variations of the words "love," "dream," "amazing," or "blessed," what's the title? Give us a peek at the chorus while you're at it.

Writing the schlocky single is an unenviable task. Even if it doesn't turn out to be ultra-dreck (which it always does), legions of bloggers will be at the ready to call it dreck just the same.

I think my song title would be Flying On My Own (After A Big Corporate Push) and I'd insist on it being dedicated to everyone's favourite ghost in the machine, Clive Davis. It'd go a little something like this:

Flying On My Own (co-written by Carole Bayer Aspirin)

I'm spreading my wings
For the very first time,
How high will I go?
How far can I climb?

You were there from the start
To help me along
You're here with me now
And this is my song.

Flying on my own
Oh it feels so right
Flying on my own
Never thought I'd take flight.

Flying (stretch 2 syllable word into 18 - 22 syllable note here) on my own.

If possible, the actor singer should choke out a sob and cry one single tear at the end.

Bonus: The only question with me now is, "do I make you proud?"

You do make me proud each and every day Beckeye, when I first fell in love with you so many months ago, I wondered where it would all lead. Now I know. It leads to really friggin' hard questions. To prove my love, I'm going to send you the Taylor Hicks fan club information you've been begging me for. I think he'll be appearing in the back of a pick up truck somewhere in your area soon.

*I'm actually using Coaster Punchman to get to Poor George's cooking and then I'll drop him like a stone.


Better Read Than Dead

A few years ago at work, we were required to participate in High Performance Training. It took a few afternoons a week of our time for several months (perhaps we were the remedial group) and there was a general sense of discomfort among my team over the whole process. I disliked it for different reasons which I'll perhaps get into later.

Apart from doing all sorts of team exercises and activities designed to pull us apart and put us back together, there were some interesting things we learned. We were able to identify and streamline processes that had previously seemed cumbersome but had 'always been done this way'. An example of how this occurs might work along these lines: You think you have a secret technique for cooking the best roasts and it's been handed down through your family. Cut the roast in half and cook it in two separate pans, it works every time and makes the most delicious roasts. You do this because that's the way Grandma always did it and your Mom always did it and they were excellent cooks. Then you ask one day how Grandma discovered her little secret and you find out she cut the roasts in half because she didn't own a large enough roasting pan.

For years there was a red bin near our fax machine at work and the staff member in charge of retrieving, sorting and delivering them put up a paper notice saying Please leave faxes in order and in the red bin. At some point, the bin was changed to an orange one and there was a new staff person assigned to the fax area. The paper notice got replaced with a nice new one that said Please leave faxes in order and in the red bin. It took a long time for someone to scratch out the word red and replace it with orange. This week, I noticed someone had scratched out orange and replaced it with hue of pumpkin.

I'm looking forward to seeing a new sign and how far back or forward we'll travel over this.