She Knows If You've Been Bad or Good...

...but she couldn't care less. 

Happy Holidays to all who have stopped here and made me laugh, think, and laugh some more.  May the ghosts of Christmases past be friendly, may your travel woes be few, and may the baby Jesus keep your turkeys moist.


Making Merry

Shopping for Christmas gifts is daunting unless I front load the experience by buying something exquisite for myself.  This year, I started my 'me shopping' early by getting tickets to An Evening With David Sedaris at Massey Hall.  

Mr. Sedaris was in fine form reading stories old and new, some with a Christmas theme and one with a local connection.  He continued on with selections from his diaries and then had the lights turned up and hosted a lively Q & A session with the audience.  

Hearing one of your favourite authors bring his stories to life is not an experience to be underestimated.  If you need proof, track down a copy of his audio recording Live from Carnegie Hall.  It's a rare gift to hear experiences unusual or even mundane filtered through a critical eye to the place where you feel both the humour and the heart of the situation.

I was distracted briefly when he began speaking about encounters with his fans and in particular a flight attendant who told him that sometimes for fun while cleaning the cabin, they hold open a garbage bag to passengers and say "You're trash" or "Your family's trash" to amuse themselves.  The distraction was borne of recognition of a flight I took and mentioned here.  Have a look at the last line.

At the end of his hour and a half presentation, David did what he regularly does on his book tours and invited those with further questions, comments or just wanting a book signed to join him in the lounge downstairs.  I'd forgotten the book I'd brought and so went into the night with a smile and adding another item to my growing list of dreams come true.  

Merry Christmas to me and to you David Sedaris!


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's easy to spot people with Christmas spirit - some wear holiday sweaters, others smile at you for no reason, another might let you ahead of them in the grocery store line, but there's always one special person who really drives it home.  

When you're in control of an SUV filled with children, have taken the time to attach a wreath to your front grill, nearly run me over in an intersection and then give me the finger, well, you win!


The Call is Coming From Inside the House!

A few nights ago, while I lay dozing under a warm blanket of potato chip crumbs in front of the television, I kept hearing a faint beeping sound.  At first I thought it might be my hearing aid but quickly ruled that out as I don't have one.

After hearing it again a few minutes later, I realized it sounded like the beep my treadmill makes when you change speeds or programs.  Considering I've been too lazy to even hang clothes on the damnable thing for months, I ruled that out too.  

As my confusion grew and the sound continued, I decided to crawl my way up and out of the chesterfield and went searching for the source.  I opened the door to the back room and was horrified to see that not only was the beeping coming from the treadmill but it was also flashing my weight in red letters (you enter your weight I suppose for humiliation purposes?).  

I pushed the stop button, the power button and the other buttons I don't understand but it continued to beep and I swear, laugh.  I unplugged it and thankfully, it stopped its menacing taunt.  

Considering I haven't been that weight for months, who's laughing now?  Stupid treadmill.  


Number One With A Bulletin

A bulletin was circulated at work saying that poinsettias are no longer allowed in our building.  "This plant has been known to trigger a very serious reaction in one of our employees" was the message.

I felt so powerful.  I'd just finished saying "I'd rather shoot myself in the face than have to see another pile of stupid friggin' poinsettias!" and now here was a bulletin telling me I mattered.
It was quickly brought to my attention that the very serious reaction alluded to had naught to do with me but a near fatal allergic reaction someone in the building had last year.

I've made peace with the fact that if someone has to nearly die for me to get what I want, I can live with that.  It is the season of giving after all.


Search Me!

After having neglected my Site Meter for far too long, I sent myself back out on the hunt for the amusing ways people end up on my blog. It’s really the fault of everyone’s favourite zombie because she recently did a post like this herself. Don’t worry, blaming’s not always bad.

Some amusing searches turned up -- “man comes around strum” and “president’s choice self carve turkey” but one in particular made my eyebrow do that funny arch thing I’ve been practicing since childhood.

This was the search that caught my eyebrow: “chilling drinks with hailstones”. Sure, that's strange but stranger yet was how Google decided to involve itself.

Often if you type a search into Google and you've spelled something incorrectly or the term is similar to something else, they intervene and politely ask “Did you mean _______?”

In this case, Google asked instead of chilling drinks with hailstones, “Do You Mean chilling drinks with gallstones?” Don’t believe me? Click here. Unless they’re suggesting that you somehow combine organ harvesting with happy hour, I'm at a loss.

In other search related news, I was thinking I needed a blog header to spruce up the place a little. I was trying to figure out who could help me with such an undertaking and remembered that Chris, most excellent writer of The Radloff's Random Midnight Thoughts also runs an outfit called HippieBoy Design. While I hate overachievers, I have to say, I’m still smirking at his excellent handiwork. When I find myself stuck for something to write (90% of the time), my glazed gaze now has something worthwhile to fall upon.

Thanks Chris, I like it, I really like it!


The Answer Man

Puss in Boots, better known as Michael G, tagged me to answer a series of very intrusive questions but as he thought to say please?, the sheer force of his politeness compelled me to comply.

Five names you go by

1. Dale
2. POTD - Katie Schwartz is responsible for that.
3. Daisy - I don't really go by it but a client at work once very badly misheard my first name and thought it was Daisy. I thoughtfully had her killed.
4. Pennywinkle - one of my brothers used to call me this and I have no idea why, I wonder if it's too late to ask?
5. Fuckface - me, a name I call myself.

Three things you are wearing right now

1. Layers
2. At least 3
3. See above

Two things you want very badly at the moment

1. Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic - and I shall have it, in about 45 minutes.
2. For winter to be over (cue the We've Only Just Begun music).

Three people who will probably fill this out

1. PJ

Two things you did last night

1. Ate crispy beef with ginger (that's small 'g' ginger and not Ginger Grant).
2. Watched half of Tropic Thunder before giving up (the fake movie ads were better than the movie itself).

Two things you ate today

2. Leftover General Tso's Chicken

Two people you last talked to on the phone

1. My mother the tactician

Two things you are going to do tomorrow

1. Optimistically speaking, I have to go with wake up
2. Watch a film called The Fall that Mob mentioned a while back

Two longest car rides

1. From small city New Brunswick to big city Ontario (16 hours - my father killed several birds by driving so fast even they could not manoeuver out of his way)
2. Any cab ride where I don't feel like small talking my way home (feels like 16 hours)

Two of your favourite beverages
1. Coca Cola
2. Bloody Caesars - clamato juice - yes it's made with clams, but there's alcohol involved! Try it!

Please feel free to play the home game!


Back In The Habit (An Audio Post)

Between work and winter, I don't seem to have a prayer but I know who might!  

If I ever were to write a book about my sister, I'd call it Letters From A Nun mostly because she's a nun, and she writes letters.  

As I'm far too lethargic for such an undertaking, I've done an audio blog instead.  You'll find it over on my sidebar under the Let's Go Audio heading above the GCast player.  

Press play, God wants you to. And so does my cat.  Oh, and Sally Field, she always wants it.  Just look at her.


Church of the Poisoned Blog

It's Sunday and we all know what that means!  Time for Church!  

Being a recovering Catholic, I long ago decided the only church I would attend is the one in my heart.  Only problem is, every time I get there, it's full - not a seat to be had.  Bloody hell!

So, I make my way to the drive thru and do what I can to not worship false idols.  We all pray in our own way.


Moods for Moderns

What does it mean when you find a song that's been sitting on your iPod for nearly a year without ever having been listened to and then you listen to it 32 times in the span of a day and a half?  Around here, it means it's Tuesday (even if I'm recounting this on a Friday).

By about noon on Tuesday, it already felt like it had been a long week.  When most hope seemed lost, a perfectly lovely little pop song clocking in at 2:07 found my ears.  Not having recalled hearing it before, I threw caution to the wind and brazenly took my iPod from my pocket in broad daylight.

It turned out to be a song called "Seventeen Dirty Magazines" by a band called Modern Skirts.  Modern Skirts?  But they're guys!  That's crazy!  Where the hell did this come from?  I played it over and over until I thought I smelled smoke, gave it a rest and then started again.   

I finally got all modern myself, did a search and saw that the band was from Athens GA.  I knew where to look next - over at Beth's place.  Sho' nuff, she'd posted the song on one of her mix tapes on November 23, 2007.  I must have downloaded it at the time, let it ferment and foment and ta-da.  Even when you're not thinking about blogging, it creeps back in.  Thanks Beth!

If you'd like a listen, be my guest.


Picnic Anyone?

Soon after bravely and proudly presenting my 'no cold cuts please' position, I was filled with misgivings. At the risk of relinquishing any remaining dignity or credibility I may possess, I have to confess something.

For many years with great zeal, though I was young, I enjoyed eating 'Meat, Macaroni and Cheese Loaf'. *

As I gazed upon the Q-Tips and cheese bits that dot the landscape of this fine product, I realized with more than a little dread that the Best Before date has a month and day assigned but there seems to be no requirement for a year. Oh my.

While in this confessional mode of mind, may I please add to the list of weirdohole things about me one more item?

The smell of canned cat food is something I find most repugnant, yet each time I open one for little Rizzo, I am compelled to smell it. As the urge to vomit begins to pass, I adopt my slightly shrill but still sweet talking to cat voice and encourage her to enjoy what surely will be the finest canned Turducken she has ever tasted.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get a snack before readying myself for the opera tonight.

*Many thanks to Esther for her comment about eating 'olive loaf' in the previous post which inspired me.



Dr. Zibbs at That Blue Yak and Esther from Gratuitous Violins (fairly) recently tagged me to disclose some weird things about myself.

In the interests of public safety and avoiding criminal prosecution, I've limited myself to a few things you may or may not find marginally interesting that may or may not involve me.  Let it never be said that I'm afraid of a disclaimer!  Here we go...

I'm afraid of disclaimers.  Perhaps 'general unease' is a better descriptor but each time I hear a medication being pushed on a television commercial and the voiceover says something during the laundry list of warnings like "may cause some forms of cancer", I feel sick.  My other favourite is "...and in some cases, death".  Come on you big chicken! It's only some cases!

Today I learned I know someone who owns one of those creepy dolls Marie Osmond sells.  These dolls make me fear Mormons for more than just the usual reasons.  He and his wife had seen Marie hawking a doll with the same name as their daughter and impulsively bought it from a home shopping channel.  Their daughter,  thankfully, showed better judgment in not wanting to even take the creature out of its box and it remains there to this day.  Next occasion, go for the Paper Roses instead.

Once after a physical exam, my doctor remarked that my heart rate seemed low.  She asked if I was very athletic as athletes often have lower than usual heart rates at rest.  I said 
"come on Doc, you've seen me naked" and she laughed much longer than necessary.  It turned out that I have a slightly enlarged heart, something not always evident in my day to day dealings with people.

Cold cuts creep me out, please don't serve them to me.  Unless I've sliced it myself, I always think it's some pressed together mixture of dread.  That said, I will eat a submarine sandwich on occasion possibly because the bread hides the fear.  Any food larger than I think it should be, a giant tomato say, also makes me worry that we fuck a little too much with nature.

I've never been comfortable disclosing whether I'm a Wilma or a Betty man.

While I'm far too scared to read through my blog, it occurred to me after writing this post that all my posts could be about fear.  Years ago, reading through a story in a Twilight Zone magazine, one line stood out and has remained with me since.  "We're all afraid because none of us knows where we're going".  There might be something to that.


How Will You Celebrate It?

Although it's Tanya Espanya's birthday today and she's planning on shopping off to Buffalo, I will be at home celebrating in my own way - with a good old fashioned cocktail of meds!

On Friday at work, I smirked too hard at someone and somehow managed to throw my back out of whack.  Thank goodness for that free Canadian health care!  I was able to leave work early, pick up some choice meds and head home.  I had been scheduled to take in the opera Don Giovanni in the evening but crapped out which I heard is just what the production did anyway. 

Yesterday was spent in a wonderful haze of medication fueled naps but today I'm feeling better.
Please join me in wishing Tanya a wonderful birthday.  If I end up with any unused medication, I plan to share it with her.  What can I say, I'm a giver!


It's That Time Again!

Happy only time most people can get away with wearing orange Day!*

*This message not intended for employees of A&W or their subsidiaries.

From the vault: my post entitled I Was A Teenaged A&W Cook. The horror! Oh, but there's royalty in the story too.


The War Room

Inestimably talented Doc knows just how busy a life I lead and has captured it perfectly. Can someone come and clean the litter box please?


Boo Who?

If proud parents can place questionably cute photos of their little tykes in Halloween regalia on our intranet at work to torture me with, then you should have no trouble torturing the blog world with your own photos showing your Halloween spirit as represented by your childhood selves.

It’s just about time for The Big Wicked Online Pageant to go live and it needs your help. I'm sure you recall me shilling for this recently. I even posted a photo of a younger version of myself to entice you with. Although I wasn't in costume, it sure was frightening.

Here’s another to help you get in the spirit. Behold the beauty that was my young self in a photo I call “Most Uncomfortable Looking Boy in the World” or as Coaster Punchman has called it my ‘Ma Vie En Rose’ lookalike shot. Again, not in costume but if you squint, I might pass for the Hamburglar as played by Prince Valiant.
Send Beth your entries and help Bubs fulfill his dreams.

If you don’t have a shot of you, feel free to substitute a shot of your little sister (you know she looked ridiculous that year!) or even one of your dog (does he know no shame?).

Enjoy and look for the winners and losers on a blog near you soon. Full rules and details are posted there as well.


War and Peace - The Comic

After seeing some excellent cartoons done by the multi-talented Doc at Social Zymurgy The Culture of Beer, I commissioned one and by commissioned, I mean begged.  He came up with a perfect depiction of me and some of the goings on I've described here.  Hey Ma! I made the funny papers!  You can read his accompanying explanation and check out the comments here.  
Doc's timing was perfect, opera season at the Canadian Opera Company has begun again in earnest with a little production of War and Peace by Sergei Prokofiev based on Tolstoy's novel.

At nearly four hours, the opera was only a bit longer than Napoleon was tall but the show was epic befitting the source material.  The orchestra and chorus were excellent as they always are and the leads poured their souls into it as well.  Doc tried to save me the time by letting me know it was all Napoleon's fault and he was correct.  He didn't mention the strumpet at the heart of several love affairs but I had more than enough time to get to know her.  For a full review of the show, you can read more here

Due to scheduling issues with Deborah, I had to switch my usual Friday night slot for a Saturday afternoon show and so the seats were different as well.  Rather than my usual orchestra seats I sat in the third ring (there are five horseshoes in this joint) and from there, I could see the production well but there was also a lot to distract me.  

While I don't mind sitting on high in judgment above the madding crowd, even Hekyll and Jekyll might have found this perch a bit much.  The sightlines to the stage were excellent but along the way, there's also a full view of the orchestra, the exit signs and of course the heads of codgers nodding off everywhere.  I'm the most distractible person I know so I'm glad that next Friday, order will be restored and I'll be back in my regular seat for Don Giovanni.

Thanks once again Doc, I love the cartoon.  Now get back to your anniversary celebrations with the lovely Flannery Alden.

Places Everyone!

Today's the day that blogging cyberstalker extraordinaire Coaster Punchman and his longtime love Poor George walk down the aisle in sunny California ahead of a looming weather change due to the threat of Proposition 8, an initiative to ban gay marriage. While I want them to happen, I'm hopeful Prop 8 won't.  Here's how you may be able to help.

They're a couple of the loveliest fellows around and will be married by their good friend and blogging wonder woman Melinda June ensuring it's a special day all around.  

May their best gifts include many more happy years together, all the fish tacos they can eat and the defeat of Prop 8.  

For those about to wed, we salute you!


Abandoned Pools

The security guard in the lobby of my building at work has begun whistling the notes to Summertiiiiiime and the livin' is eaaaasy over and over. This could mean that I’m spending far too much time in the lobby but more likely, it means that he's accepted that warm weather is becoming a memory and so must I.

I had noticed a two day trickle of water running down Honeypot’s driveway last week but I thought she was just marking her territory. The blanks were filled in with the treat of seeing her emerge from her nearly drained pool wearing a sweat suit and rubber boots, a fetching look to be sure. I suppose my dream of seeing her try to ice skate across its frozen top should be put aside.

The trees have also been doing their part to warn me. After a brazen display of colour, they’ve been readying themselves for raking and the nights have definitely grown colder. Perhaps the most obvious sign was watching the snow fall through the train window on the ride home yesterday. Snow, in October, that stayed into today.

It’s not all bad and I'm not really complaining. It's exciting to think that it's time again to start working through the sorting of acceptable distances between the sofa and essentials (snacks, drinks, remote controls) in preparation of my annual near hibernation.

This year I may even give up the pretense that I hate it when the weather’s bad and officially declare myself a shut-in. I wonder if there’s a minimum age before you can apply for Meals-On-Wheels?


Very Very Frightening Me!

I remember it as though it was only 2 years ago...blogging sensation Beth at A Cup of Coffey hosted the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant dedicated to, well, some of our more awkward phases captured in photographic glory.  She's at it again, this time working on inspiration from none other than magic man Bubs of Sprawling Ramshackle Compound!

This time, the challenge is to show off your finest Halloween costumed selves as young 'uns and be a part of The Big Wicked Online Pageant.  Don't make us go back in our time machine and ridicule you in person.  Instead, scan your photo(s), post it/them on your blog on Monday, October 28 and then email Beth (the address is in her sidebar) so she can link everyone up.

Good thinking Bubs!  Good hosting Beth!  Good Lord Dale! (this is one of my Little Miss Sunshine entries - I'm still shuddering).
Go see Beth and Bubs - they're good for your soul. Come on, you're not using it anyway.


Praise You Like I Should

It’s time for the Thanksgiving Day long weekend again here in Canadaland.

I am thankful

- that I got to see a Monarch butterfly land on the cab of a parked cement truck on a warm October day and then continue on its journey

- that the cement truck was painted all in pink complete with a huge Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon

- that I don’t have to drive that truck

- that I can experience the wonders of the world from the comfort and safety of the great indoors via the BBC Series Planet Earth

- that you’re all there

- and that I don't look like this poor guy anymore (the surgery worked!)


Videodrome (Audio Blog)

These days for me, it's all about work.  How to manage it, avoid it and ultimately survive it.  To find out how I'm doing, click on my GCast player on my sidebar and you'll get an audio idea.  I've got to run, I have an elevator to catch.


The Walrus Was Paul

Now that Newman's out of the way, maybe another man's dreams can come true?  Coming soon direct to dvd near you... 
Shaun Cassidy and the Sundance Kid



I Love My Job, I Love My Job

Does anybody else get as excited as I do when it's time to refill the stapler? No? Okay.


Oh, My God

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Margaret Cho in Toronto while she was touring with her I'm The One That I Want show.  I just saw an episode of her new television series "The Cho Show" and it reaffirmed why I like her so much.  Smart and funny always win the race.

Someone pointed out this excellent rant to me entitled I'm A Christian, You Fuckers! from her blog.  It's righteous and I'm pretty sure God fucking well approved her message.


Why Don't The Windows Open In This Building Again?

Someone this morning said to me "You must be able to retire soon".  "No, I just look that old" was all I could reply.  It's a good thing I don't wake up until noon. 


A Day Late And Several Hundred Dollars Short

There was an email sent to everyone yesterday at work entitled Emergency Preparedness For Work and Home. Aside from my dislike of the word preparedness, the timing I found to be questionable.

The night before, I woke up hearing a strange noise, strange only because I hadn’t yet had enough sleep and wasn’t willing to ponder it for long. I woke again at 5:00 a.m. and was more ready to realize that the sound was dripping water. Dripping water? How strange.

After listening to it for a while, I decided I could wait no longer – I went to the bathroom - I’m fairly suggestible. Now better equipped to investigate, I padded out to the kitchen and stepped into what felt like a very large bowl of gazpacho. The kitchen was flooded.

As I stood wiggling my toes in the water, additional consciousness eventually dawned. I checked under the sink and found that the solder on the main water pipe had given way just enough to produce a steady burble of water.

My next realization was that the dripping sound remained and with a flash, I recalled there being a downstairs to this house. I tromped down and switched on the lights. There were two tiny waterfalls coming directly through the pot lights onto the carpet. I switched off the lights and put buckets under them to catch the excess and the drip sounded much nicer.

The plumber’s been and gone, the carpet’s drying out and will need to be replaced but for now, order has been restored to my tiny kingdom.

I wonder if it would have made a difference to have received that Emergency Preparedness email a day earlier? Probably not. I still haven’t read it.


Questions For the Ages

If you see a grown woman walking down the street wearing what appear to be pyjama pants covered in question marks, should you stop and ask why?


Three, Two, One or A Tale of Two Traps

I recently was heard to say that I planned on making mittens out of the feral kittens who'd taken up residence in my back garden.  There were three kittens so I was sure there'd be no problem with supply and demand.  Shortly after my brilliant idea began germinating, one of the cats stopped showing up.  From his shady looks, it's a good bet he's dealing catnip a few yards over.

Wondering whether we could take on trapping and adopting two cats resulted in much hemming and hawing but ended in John calling a 'critter control' guy for traps.  The night the traps showed up, only one cat came around looking for a handout but we set both traps the next day just in case.

The traps have a small raised metal plate (covered in newspaper) that trips the door as the animal steps on to get at the food just beyond it.  I came home to find two empty cages and I was a bit disappointed.  On closer inspection, yes, there were two empty cages but only one full can of food;  the other had been licked clean.  In the plants at the back of the yard I spied one very satisfied looking kitten who'd beaten the system and was now lazing in the fading sunlight.

On day two, stealth was not on kitty's side and we arrived home to a cage full of cranky but well fed kitten.  We got her to the vet where she had a full examination, shots and a good flea bath.  A much shinier three month old kitten was the end result.

Over the last week, she's gotten used to us, the laundry room and now the whole downstairs.
She will hiss if I make too rapid an approach but one touch and she melts into a purr measuring just under the rumble of a tractor.  She's also gotten used to being called Rizzo after Rydell High's oldest teenage student.

Winter's on the way and my one good deed's out of the way.  Unfortunately, there's been no sign of the other two cats.  I'm choosing to think that they've been adopted rather than having become part of some other creature's happy meal.

It will take me a while to fatten her up and to figure out shipping options and costs.  To be on the safe side, order your mittens now for arrival by Christmas.


Location Location Location

Today at work attached to all of the washroom doors is a notice from Weight Watchers.

"Lose Weight At Work - We'll Come To You"

I can lose weight in there without anyone's help thank you very much and if you do decide to approach me while I'm in there, I'm calling a cop.


Sad Songs

Someone recently found my blog by searching for "passion of the chairs".  And I thought my life was boring.


Information Exchange

There is ongoing construction near my office building and as a result, there are security guards and construction workers accessing and egressing this building frequently.

This morning as I walked through the concourse toward the food court and hash brown heaven, I saw two construction workers stopped by one of the big plant boxes that dot the indoor landscape.

The older guy said to the younger one pointing to a cluster of flowers -

-Ya know what that is? That's hibiscus. The younger one nodded.

A couple of other construction guys were coming up behind them right then and one of them offered some clarification -

- It's a fucking azalea you moron!

People helping people, that's what it's all about.


Do I Have To Hand Out Cigars?

There are few things I'm really good at. Right up there on the list though, is rampant personal consumerism. Taking me by more surprise than my credit card bill is the fact that now, I seem to have fallen in love. With a machine.

For a couple of weeks now, I've been cooing and calling my shiny new iMac 'baby'. I haven't heard back on my request for parental leave at work yet but I'm a patient man, I learned it from working with a PC.

Through several operating systems now, I've heard Mac fans sing the praises of their magical computing machines and now I understand. From box to desktop took all of 5 minutes and since then, there's been not a hint of concern from my whisper quiet baby.

Rather than go on like an ex-smoker insulted by a whiff of stray cigarette smoke, I’ll just say I’m happy to have had some quality time with PCs over the years but move over, there’s a new kid in town.

A Proud iMac Daddy.


I Met The Walrus

I was catching up on my The Hour video podcasts and was really glad to catch a segment with Jerry Levitan who in 1969 at the tender age of 14, finagled his way into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and snagged an interview with him.  

To hear Jerry talk about the experience was hilarious but to see the animated short film that's been made about his experience was incredible.  The film is called I Met The Walrus and is in contention for an Oscar. 

If you have 9 minutes, watch the segment from The Hour first and then have a look at the actual film which is about 5 minutes long.  

If you don't like either, as always, my policy is:  your money back!


Hardcore Logo

I've always enjoyed the way Google plays around with the masthead on their web page.  By replacing one or more letters with an object that fills in for the letter, they keep things interesting.  
When other corporations go for an effect like this, it doesn't always hit the mark.  The bank I use, Scotiabank, is sponsoring the AIDS Walk For Life in September and has advertising all over town.

Someone had the idea to try and tie the red AIDS ribbon we're all familiar with into the bank's logo.  I may be the only one who sees it this way but that second 'a' in their logo now looks more like an 'o' if you ask me.  

All I see now is Scotiabonk AIDS Walk For Life! Oh my.  


The Kitten Whisperer - An Audio Post

Yes, I've decided that this should now be an all kittens, all the time blog. Click my GCast audio player on my sidebar to hear why.


Compression of the Dale

In case you missed it in the comments a few posts back, after I rattled on about Honeypot's balancing act getting into her dee-luxe above ground pool with a smoke and a drink, the talented Sans Pantaloons came to my rescue and sent a link to this picture he did. Click on it for a more glorious effect.

If I ever write a book Sans, I hope you'll be there to help illustrate it.



Last night I went to see Kathy Griffin who has finally stopped ignoring Canada and swept into town to share the love. After an introduction by way of a clip compilation from her various stints in TV and movie land (X Files? Really? Pulp Fiction? I'd forgotten about that), she kept the sold out and wildly appreciative crowd at Massey Hall laughing for a solid 130 minutes.

After ragging on us for being a bunch of socialists with free health care and having a boring prime minister, she launched into some fine and fiery skewering on the differences between Canadian and American Idol, trashy reality shows, young Hollywood, old Hollywood, George Dubya and her many strange encounters in the celebrity jungle.

There were hilarious stories about Oprah and her boyfriend Gail, Justin Timberlake, Tom, Katie and their Asian baby, Nancy Grace, Miley and Billy Ray, Pamela Anderson, PETA, Janet Jackson, Larry King and dozens of others worthy of our derision.

One of the things I really enjoy about Kathy (I call her Kathy) is her rare gift for making it seem as though it's just you and her, sharing stories and secrets. I know she was just being polite in pretending to include the other people there. She only had eyes for me.

Thanks for a rollicking performance and one I won't soon forget, my body is still racked with pain from laughing so hard. Come back anytime Kathy and if for some reason you decide not to, well, you can suck it!


I'll Arm Wrestle You For It

Cutesy children in advertising generally rankle me. They belong right up there with any ad that features an animal talking, singing or smiling. I suppose I could turn off the television but then how would I know what to buy or what the weather is?

I wouldn't give the product in this short ad another thought but I would give whoever cast the kid at the end a big fat bonus. Just this once.

Say it with me: Awwwwwwww.


Trilogy of Terror - Wildlife Edition

Following my recent adventures in the animal kingdom, I should have just gone back to my regularly scheduled stint as a shut-in.

I was walking along the sidewalk of one of our main streets and didn't notice the pylon on the sidewalk until after I hit it with my left foot. There's been a lot of construction in the area and they sort of blend into the scenery for me.

When I tapped the side of this one, I looked down and sidestepped it and a rather massive raccoon. I jumped but it didn't. While fairly clean of coat, I'm sure the poor creature wasn't just sleeping off a long night's marauding, it was dead.

As hungry as I was at the time, my racing heart commanded that I shudder my way back home to safety. I've decided now that it's best if I limit my forays in the outside world to emergency situations only, for example, to see a movie.


You Fill Up My Senses

Neighbour 'lady' Honeypot continues to delight, this time by trading in her inflatable pool for an 18 foot above ground model, part of her evolving ode to good livin'. It's positioned safely away from her fire pit in the back corner and therefore quite near the fence that keeps me from wandering over and declaring my love.

Each time she harrumphs her way up the pool ladder to negotiate a comfortable spot on the filthy floating air mattress, it's a triumph. If you can get in to a pool while balancing a drink and a smoke, all that weight and barking orders at your sons the whole time, there are no two ways about it, you're at least a triple threat.

Occasionally, the air mattress is given a rest and two inflatable chairs are pressed into service. The chairs are fairly small of seat unlike most of the denizens of Glitter Gulch and so on several occasions, Honeypot and pals have ended up in the water with a great squeal and a splash.

I now take comfort in the knowledge that should I suddenly become blind (spontaneously or voluntarily), the beautiful flowers on my side of the fence will continue to flourish, well watered by the wicked wake created several times daily.


Noises Off

As I sat on the deck looking for clouds in my coffee a few mornings ago, a small noise niggled at my eardrums.  I couldn't quite place it (a baby? a bird?) and then it stopped, allowing a return to my regularly scheduled deep thinking.

After a moment or two, I glanced to my right and was surprised to see a black and white kitten beside my chair, no doubt the source of the earlier noise. I'm not sure how motionless I'd been to that point but the mere act of turning my head startled the poor thing into scampering away to safety (I hope!).

Last night while sitting out, I heard another odd noise, this time, a dull scratching sound. After a quick investigation, I realized it was coming from inside the downspout attached to the side of the house. Might it be my little kitten with a whip in distress? Looking at how small the end of the drain was, I settled on it likely being a bird or mouse with a terrible sense of direction.

As I'd not done a good deed in a number of days, I decided to try and free the source of the noise. I detached the long arm of the drain that extends into the yard to keep water away from the house but the noise was definitely coming from further up the pipe. With probably not enough care, I teetered from the seat of a chair onto the rail of the deck, reached into the eaves and snaked a garden hose into the drain opening. I got down without breaking my neck or my stride and turned the water on gently so as not to drown whatever had Baby Jessica'd itself in there.

The water began running through. Nothing...nothing...some muck...nothing...more muck and then...a small stick. No, not a stick, it moved! A leg? Could it be a tiny leg? My heart raced as I imagined starring in a very special episode of The X Files. Then what looked to be a large clump of dirt started coming through the open end of the drain and after a great plunk, I had my answer. The clump was actually a rather large frog. It tucked its errant leg back into position and sat there, traumatized but breathing.

I turned the hose off and we stared at each other, neither of us sure of the protocol. A couple of minutes into this, I decided it was my move. Picking up a watering can and emptying it slowly over the frog, I washed away his sins and helped him find his legs again. As he hopped off into the bushes leaving me to my mild revulsion, I wondered when to expect the locusts.


Spoiler Alert

As I've said before, I rarely take a sick day from work and that's still the case. Rather than say I'm too busy to write, I'm going to cash in a few sick days and use them here. Weather permitting, I'll be back in a few weeks.

Stay warm, dry and safe my friends. Love and comments to you all.


Strange Days Indeed

I spent about 4 minutes of last Monday wondering if the roof of the house was going to cave in on me. It was quite frightening considering how loud it was, much louder than it sounds on the video. Of course, watching the news about all the devastating flooding in the U.S. and weather issues elsewhere quickly put things into perspective for me.

Have a look:

Hail to the er, hail!



Singing Just For Me

Friday the 13th turned out to be quite lucky for me. I added another entry to my book of dreams by seeing Laurie Anderson in her Homeland show, part of this year's Luminato Festival.

From the time I was introduced to her opus United States by a university radio pal, I'd wanted to see her perform live but somehow, never managed it. This time, I was at the ready and secured 3rd row seats where there was little to distract me. I won't even mention the girl beside me who slept soundly through most of the show, apparently tired from having spent the first few songs making out with her boyfriend.

I'd read that Homeland was built around themes of fear, obsession and paranoia in America post 9/11 and was a little apprehensive. Would it be too dark and dire? Too like my heart? Could I bear it? I worried needlessly.

In and among the serious and reflective was a lot of humour, artistry and deft commentary. Aim was taken at Al Gore's trophy case, Oprah's couch, John McCain and several other worthy targets. She also ruminated on a variety of subjects from the beginning of memory to billboard underwear models and set it all to compelling music.

There were bursts of pounding energy and moments made for closing your eyes and feeling the universe expand (without the need for medication). There were songs and stories, some in Laurie's own voice and some run through her voice enhancer which provided surprising nuance. Sitting in with the accomplished band (percussionist Joey Baron, keyboard wiz Rob Burger and bassist Greg Cohen) for the last few numbers was none other than the legendary Lou Reed. It was a real treat to see and hear him play along and sing.

The set was simple with a few bare bulbs hanging and scores of small white candles arranged around the stage. While wrapped in Ms. Anderson's warm electronic embrace, I took them to be planets and stars (perhaps the need for medication?).

Although the show was conceived as one continuous piece, ovations and praise found their way in whenever possible. While it would have been wonderful to have an encore, I felt the integrity of the piece was better maintained without it. Watching the players carefully tiptoe through the array of candles for three bows was an end fitting enough for me.

Apart from the thrill of seeing and enjoying the show so much, the people-watching was of course exquisite. Rarely have I seen so many inflicting so much very personal style on the rest of us. I'll just call them Strange Angels and be done with it.

Thank you Laurie Anderson for a most excellent evening and I hope to see you again soon.


Madras As Hell

Madras patchwork clothing should be outlawed. It looks horrible on everyone. If you must wear it, please ensure that you are on acid and ready to share.



I'll Cut Me!

Standing in line at the bank machine this morning (I simply adore standing in any sort of line), a man and a woman were chatting behind me so of course, I had to listen in.

She said "I rode in with her on the train this morning and I thought I was going to have to slit my fucking wrists!'.

I turned and chuckled and she said to me "Too dramatic?" "No, I know just how you feel", I replied. "Oh, you must know her" and they went back to talking.

Proof that I'm not alone in the universe.

This also ties in nicely with Barbara's review of an interesting sounding film Wristcutters: A Love Story.



Riding The Rails or Bang Crunch

It's audio blog time again on Passion of the Dale, now that I can speak again. After a trying several hours, I'm back on track and ready to roll (my eyes at least).

Click the play button on my GCast player (Let's Go Audio) on my sidebar and listen in on another episode from this small life.

Please note, this one involves an unholy trinity of ennui, booze and dentistry. Oh, and Ambassador Brad!


The End of the Line

Friday marked the end of yet another era in my life - I endured a long goodbye from the Elvis train conductor's who'd been reigning over my (in)sanity.

The company that runs the commuter trains we good, bad and indifferent citizens use has changed hands and so there's been a change in staff starting today. Don't worry about poor Elvis lite though, he'll still be employed, just on another line. He chitted and chatted quite a bit over the 40 minute ride home on Friday but knowing it was his last ride, I was barely agitated.

One of the things I won't miss is the way he had of calling out the stops. One of them, Old Cummer (not named after me), he'd drag out interminably so it was more like Ooooooooooooooooooooooold Cummer", funny once but never again. As we pulled in to the last stop, he got back on the horn and said Elvis has left the building, thank ya thank ya very much.

There were no tears to be wiped from my eye although had there been, they would have been made of hope and joy.

I'm giving the new guy two days before I can find some horror, real or imagined, to complain about.


X Factor

Whenever I attend a presentation at work, part of the fun is hearing the mind numbingly stupid questions people ask highlighting that they haven't been listening. Yes, there are stupid questions and usually, they're asked by some pretty stupid or at least inattentive people.

Often, the presenter will hand out an evaluation questionnaire at the end of the session. Today, the presenter gave them out before she'd even started. So far, your driving's excellent Miss Presenter!

My attention was drawn to the layout and wording of the evaluation. It asked questions about how relevant the information was to your job and requested that you Place a check mark (X) in the box beside your desired response.

There was a comment section as well and I couldn't resist (well, I could have) letting her know that an X is not a check mark. It was my random act of assholishness kindness for the day.


Do You Hear What I Hear? (An Audio Post)

If you're like me, you need help. If you're not like me but wonder how magic can almost happen on the weekend, I've got just the thing.

Okay, maybe it's not just the thing but if you've got 55 seconds to spare, you're in for quite a thrill ride.

Alright, it's not a thrill ride at all but for sure, it'll tell you something about my brain.

Head on over to the Let's Go Audio GCast player on my sidebar (look to your right under the bumblebee) and listen in.


In A (Four Day) New York Minute

Last weekend was lovely, not only because it was a long weekend here in Canadaland but also because I got to spend time in one of my favourite places, New Jack York City. While there, I barely had time to complain about my hotel room, change rooms and then change hotels entirely, take in three shows of varying quality, shop, drink, eat my body weight and then walk it all off.

I got to see my pals Coaster Punchman and Poor George, Chelene and Beckeye, all who remain wonders of the world. Beckeye and Chelene have blogged their point / counterpoint on Xanadu so I’ll just mention my disappointment with The Country Girl (well chronicled here by Esther and Steve, two bloggers I've recently been enjoying). Frances McDormand and Morgan Freeman while wonderful to see, were not at their most captivating. Peter Gallagher however was on point and he and his eyebrows did some fine acting.

The prize for unplanned but incredible event was seeing Gypsy starring Patti Lupone. One word: mesmerizing. Another word: spellbinding. Third word: electric. The whole show was excellent and the entire cast worked and played their hearts out. I lucked into some 2nd row centre seats and locked eyes with several of the principals which while thrilling was off-putting - what if my perma-grin made them break character wondering what I was up to? I give this production 4 Mama Roses (out of 4)!

Now I'm back to the real world and at work. I'm heading off in a minute to Gilligan's Island for a 3 hour meeting. I'll do my best to provide the laugh track because I'm certain there's no hope of rescue.


Beautiful Garbage

There's seems to be a lot more art hanging around the city than there used to be and I notice more of it each time I decide not to litter.

Garbage and recycling bins around the downtown core have been festooned by Canadian artists courtesy of an outfit called Magenta. They're doing a swell job at supporting the arts and emerging talent.

Stopping for a moment longer than it takes to dispose of my coffee cup teaches me a little bit more about the participants and their vision, easier done since a blurb about them is printed on the sides of the bins.

Rather than just trash talking all the time, may I take this quiet moment to say that I love it when ideas like this take hold? A sampling of what I'm talking about can be found here.

Way to go world!


Time The Avenger

Life can be so fast paced that slowing down seems like a concession. I don't generally confront this fact until forced to, as when I find myself walking behind a group of older people.

Look at them, so dear and so wise. They may not smell like you and me but they know more than just how to crowd a sidewalk. They're in the most important footrace but still manage to savour each moment as they make their way.

Someday, that'll be me - stealth no longer mine, my body a network of betrayal. Then my instincts take over. A couple of well placed kicks and canes and limbs go flying. I laugh along my way to new adventures and know they barely have time to even wonder what hit them. Ah, to be youngish.


The New Guy (A Honeypot Mystery) - Audio Blog

It's been quite some time since I've done an audio blog post and so, please direct yourself to the little GCast player on my sidebar to the right (under Let's Go Audio) and press play. It clocks in at a very lengthy 86 seconds so hopefully, it won't hurt too much.

It's going to be a long summer. How do I know? Honeypot's got a new man (or an old one) and it could get pretty sleazy. If I'm lucky.


Walk This Way

Today I found myself wrapped up in an accidental enterprise. I was minding my own (and everyone else's) business walking the block or so back from the bank to my office. Crossing the street, I spied a decent sized group of middle aged tourist types. My recourse seemed simple - I'd swath right through the centre of them and continue on my way.

As I started through, they somehow closed in around me and boom - I'm on a guided walking tour led by someone clucking in umlauts and hurdy gurdy wordiness. Dutch I figured.

It took a bit of jostling but I freed myself as quickly as possible and carried on my way. For a moment, and my trouble, I considered letting them in on this great place I know for coffee but my chewy Canadian centre wouldn't allow it - we need the tourist dollars.

You're welcome Canada! My country 'tis of thee. Wait, wrong country. Never mind.


Honey For The Bees

My Guitar Hero fascination has waned sufficiently that I no longer feel withdrawal pains when I'm away from my plastic toy (that didn't sound right). Interest may be renewed when the Aerosmith edition lands in a store near me but only if a Steven Tyler scarf is included to hang on the end of my guitar (and by guitar, I mean guitar).

You'd think this would free me up to get outdoors and spy on Honeypot more. No, I busy myself now with praying for rain so as not to feel guilty about strapping myself in for hours and playing Super Mario Galaxy. Although the cartoon violence is mild, I make sure to swear as much as possible while failing at ridiculous tasks to make it seem more like an adult pursuit.

At points in the game, Mario gets a little help by transforming and acquiring new abilities. When he turned into a bee, I thought, I really should be blogging. I waited several hours until that passed but now I'm in between galaxies so here I am.In other news, I'll be calling the first lady of tact in a short while to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. I sent her a book I think she'll enjoy and hope she'll remember not to try reading it while driving. The most comforting part of the call is in our ritual at the end. Her "I wish you were closer" will be answered by my "yes, I know". I'm fairly sure the quiet delight that I'm not, goes unnoticed.

It's looking like a decent day shaping up so I really should fly and see what the buzz is in the outside world.


This Is Not A Love Song (KBL Edition)

After being Korean Bagel Lady'd (thanks for the terminology Barbara), I realized there was a bit of information I'd forgotten to impart. While I'm still compiling documentary evidence of her henchwoman for Kim Jong Il status, I now at least know her name. She has a name ladies and gentlemen!

Back in the carefree days before she tried to poison me, I overheard someone at the counter say "Hi Joanne!" in the Bagel Lady's general direction. I asked if that was indeed her name and she verified it. I told her I'd expected something a little more exotic. She said "Well, my real name is Gin". Seeing her neckerchiefed helper working in the back, I said "So I guess you two are like Gin & Tonic then?". Her humourless "No" dashed my hopes of writing a buddy cop screenplay based on their adventures.

It wasn't until Coaster Punchman commented that if the Korean Bagel Lady and his nemesis Mama Gin met, they might cancel each other out that this fact returned to me. Reading that was like being struck with the force of, I'd say, four to six stale bagels. There are two Gins! Evil twin Gins perhaps separated at birth and by nation.

All this Gin flowing seems to support my view that evil grows in the dark, where the sun it never shines. If I was a man of prayer, I might say Saints preserve us! Instead, I'll just cling to to my belief that I'm tastier than her coffee will ever be.


The Make Up Sex Should Be Awesome!

The unthinkable has happened - I've broken up with the Korean Bagel Lady! Before you leave me for dead, please hear my tale and then judge.

Last week on a work day filled with unsanctioned breaks and work avoidance, Jessica and I stopped to kibbitz with everyone's favourite bagel lady and get a cup of coffee. From there, we headed for the parkette outside the building to take our places on a bench warmed by spring sunlight.

We chatted a bit and I took a sip of my coffee. That's not right I thought, it must be the gum in my mouth. I went ahead and took a bigger sip and thought that weird taste can't just be from my gum. I asked Jessica to try hers and she did a brilliant spit take followed by a rapid fire: That's awful, there's something wrong with this coffee! Tastes like there's something in it that shouldn't be.

Seconds later, my tongue was tingling and my lips felt numb. This was more than just the heady thrill of being outside for the first time in months without a jacket, this was from coffee most foul. We headed back inside and approached the scene of the crime with caution.

After treading through our explanation, the Bagel Lady asked So, maybe coffee is too weak? No, it's not weak, there's a chemical taste to it, I said. No use any chemical, only clean machine Fridays with safe "cleaning" that company give me (she owns a franchise).

Maybe coffee too strong
? she continued. Quickly becoming exasperated, I said No, it's not too strong, it's not too weak, but it's definitely not just right, there's something wrong with it! She scowled and said Here, let me see - which one Jessica and not yours? She took a swig from her cup and looking more sour than usual found her breakthrough moment. Yes, it bad, she declared.

You'd better throw out the rest of that pot before someone else drinks it, Jessica said. Skipping over this point she went straight to You want free coffee? Here, I give. She was about to pour a new cup out of the same pot. You can't serve the rest of that coffee!, we chastised, there's something wrong with it!. She acquiesced and disposed of the rancid brew. She then told us to wait while she made a fresh pot.

We compared symptoms and wondered what our livers were about to start trying to process until the new brew was ready. We hesitantly poured and went for the milk. It was empty. You're out of milk I said. Here, new one. As soon as it hit the hot coffee, the milk curdled. I can't take any more of this, let's just go, Jessica said. We told her we'd decided to pass on the idea of coffee today and she countered with Come back tomorrow, I give you free one!

Within a half hour, my head was pounding. I'm getting a headache now I called over the partition separating my deluxe cubicle from Jessica's. So am I. We shared some Advil and started drinking lots of water.

When I got home that evening, I brushed my teeth and tongue several times but the funny taste/feeling lasted right through to the next day. Jessica had enjoyed her evening even more after spending part of it throwing up.

We went back to our would be executioner and told her about it. She at first tried to say that we were just thinking about it too much and that's why we felt funny, you imagine it. When she saw that we were about to reach over the counter and brain her, she said she'd isolated the rest of the bags of coffee from that batch and opened a new case. She also called the company to test the coffee. Free one? she asked. We declined.

She refused to agree that there was any sort of chemical involved although my thoughts went to her long ago claims to having put bleach and CLR in my coffee. My guess is that maybe she did clean the pot out with something and forgot to rinse it.

I haven't been back since. I've walked by a few times and tried to avoid her icy stare. My response has been to just smile back while shielding her competitor's coffee cup from view. I know that sooner more likely than later, my body will betray me and demand bacon on one of her damned cheese bagels and I'll be back, but for now, I'm just biding my tongue time. I know which side my bagel's buttered on!

PS: While I have broken up with her, I haven't forgotten you my lovely readers and commenters. I've just been very busy. As soon as I have time, I'll break up with you properly.


Honeypot's Spring Line

Ah, spring. The plastic bags are in the trees, the sun is shining like it means to stay and my neighbor Honeypot has emerged from hibernation.

In less than a week, the old gal has played hostess to four spectacular backyard fires and is a definite shoe in to re-light that pesky torch should the I.O.C. run into any more trouble.

She's also been busy spring cleaning. How can I tell? Several garbage bags await rescue and as it's a week early for pick up, milady has made sure they have some company. The couch formerly gracing the backyard may have witnessed one startling romp too many and has been dragged curbside. The sight just brightens the whole neighborhood.

Click photo to behold the glory.

Not having a clothesline hasn't stopped my Honeypot from hanging her clothes out either. Eaves troughs until now have been too singularly purposed don't you think? It may not be evident from my surveillance photo but be assured, there are several sweatshirts in her signature red hanging just above that old pot, not unlike the way they hang on her.

I think I've asked this before but now I'm pleading, won't you be my neighbor?


Naked City (I Wish!)

One thing I enjoy about living in the big city is judging categorizing people based on their looks as I walk by them. Although I've no proof that any of my guesses are correct, I'm convinced they are.

Look! There goes a harried single mom, someone else who's one bad decision away from being homeless, a heart attack waiting to happen, a chronic masturbator, a model slash actress, a diddler, and a bouncer who needs to get off the 'roids. There are eight million stories in the naked city but I've only got time for one, this is rush hour.

Each morning walking through Union Station, I see a man standing in the same spot, cellphone to his ear. Something about the way he's dressed and the life's beaten me down look he wears tells me he's busy placing bets with a bookie. I've passed him nearly every day for a couple of years so I should know.

A few days ago I slowed down and went to put my newspaper in the recycling bin near where he stands and finally overheard him conducting this piece of nasty business: "I just wanted to make sure you were up honey, hope you have a wonderful day, I love you very much". My guess is that he calls the bookie right after that. In fact, I'd bet on it.


Can't You Read The Sign?

All week long, I've been stealing the signs in our building announcing the Theft and Fraud Awareness seminar scheduled for next week. Nobody's come for me yet, I'm a little disappointed.

In other news, our local information channel with the sexy ticker type display let me down today. As a Canadian, it is important that I have up to the minute weather information without having to look through the window next to the television.

The damned thing was stuck going back and forth announcing the times for sunrise and sunset over and over, useful perhaps if I still had my dream of someday starring in Fiddler on the Roof but no help to me should I end up in a small talk situation today. The horror.


Why I Love British Telly

This first bit I saw on Allison's blog and it kept me laughing through the day yesterday. It's from a show called The F Word with Gordon Ramsay. Ricky Gervais is the guest diner.

Why can't North American chat shows be more like The Graham Norton Show? I first heard of him on Melinda June's blog and I believe Gifted Typist has mentioned him as well. I think he was featured on the Kathy Griffin D-List episode when she went to London too. I've seen two episodes on BBC Canada but it only took one to hook me.