Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My Girlfriend Dared Me to Say This

I know I haven't been writing much lately, but my Christian girlfriend has been leaving her Bible in random places in the apartment, so my hands are so scalded from picking it up so often, it makes it difficult to type.

How's that for Culturally Appropriate Christmas Sentiment (tm)?

But this is from me:
'Tis the season to be jolly and grateful, so I just want to thank all of my readers who pop in to see what thoughtblob has being gracefully ejected from my brain and onto electronic techno-paper. I run into you people fairly regularly (like at tonight's Yule Ritual where I got to play Ra the Sun God) and I'm always pleased and flattered to find out that you take the time ("Oh yeah, I read your blog all the time." // "You do?!?!").

Happy Yule and a Merry Christmas to you all! I look forward to hoisting a pint with you in the New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

High-End Tea

I was out Xmas shopping yesterday and I swung by Hogg hardware on Sherbrooke to pick up a teapot and cup for a friend of mine. I had spotted this tea set about a month ago and decided this would be the present for her, but I hadn't checked the price. It's a teapot and a mug (from the Bridgewater set), I figured. I was sure I could afford it.

The teapot was white with black lettering, as was the mug. The mug itself could hold a pint of tea and it read "I'm not greedy. I just like a lot." Perfect, I thought.

Until I stopped in yesterday and saw the price: teapot: $125 // mug: $48. With jaw hanging askew, I put them back on the shelf and headed of to the Craft Fair at Bonaventure.

To get a teapot and mug for $175 (plus tax), it had better fill with Lady Grey tea magically on command. I wish I could be living in that lifestyle, but I'm far from it.

But speaking of big purchases, I spent last week looking at three types of cars and I decided I would take a decision on them. I've decided to go with a 2005 Toyota Matrix and I'll start the process of purchasing it on Monday. Hopefully, it will all go through. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Inner Green Man

This year, we've decided to go with the live tree thing for Christmas ("In the spirit of Christmas, we've gone out and killed a tree for you!"). We've been steadily decorating the green beast, but we don't want to overpower the thing with too many decorations. What's the point of having a tree in your house if you turn it into a hat rack?

This is Ms. Carotte's first Christmas in a place she feels she can call home. Remember that she spent the previous 8 years on the road with a touring theatre company, so Montreal is her first steady spot in quite a while. She's going a bit azy-cray with the glittering decorations on the house and the tree, but I'm trying to keep her reigned in. Here's what the tree looks like now.

In the meantime, I'm getting in touch with my inner greenman.

My contract is about to hit a lull, so I'll be using that time to go out and hunt down some Christmas presents. I still want to hit the craft exposition at Place Bonaventure, but I need to stop in the regular shops to get a few other items. Ms. Carotte has a few things under the tree already, so I need to start keeping up.

Only a week left or so before the holidays start up. Yikes! I hope you and I can meet up for a holiday pint sometime soon...

Friday, December 10, 2004

CSI Las Vegas wishes it were CSI Manitoba

So Ms. Carotte has gotten me hooked onto CSI (in its various regions). I've been watching more Las Vegas and Miami than New York (although I'm a big Gary Sinise fan), so I don't know if the other shows do this as well, but here's what I've noticed:

What is with the obsession with Canada in CSI?!? Typical Canadian that I am, I'm extra-sensitive to Canadian references in non-Canadian shows. Not that I have a problem with them (I love it), but I just notice it more.

What I've noticed is that, at least once an episode, there'll be one reference to Canada. That reference may be as a Canadian flag, the mention of a province or city, or of a news item. At first, I thought it was a fluke, but I was watching CSI last night and the investigators walked into a depanneur on the outskits of Vegas (I could've said "corner store", but this place was about 10 km from the closest corner) to investigate the clerk being shot.

Twice, the camera panned a set of license plates over the entrance door, and the second time, there was clearly a Quebec license plate, complete with the Je Me Souviens on the front of it (for those who don't know, "Je Me Souviens" translates roughly to "I got a souvenir").

I'm like that. I've always been looking in the backgrounds of scenes to see what the scene designer is trying to hide. I started noticing these things watching Looney Tunes and then the Simpsons. Having directed a few plays, I've been known to hide meaningful items in plain sight on the set, just to see who might notice them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Skating Rink

Last night's freezing rain sure did a number on the attendance at my storytelling event. We had 20 reservations, but only nine people showed up. Still, the stories were good and the people were appreciative, so I'm going to count it as a success.

The owner of Shaika even said that she'd let us come back and do more shows like this anytime. Yay! Maybe next time, we'll get a bigger crowd and it'll take over more of the cafe. The noise levels were quite high last night (there was a knitting circle, of all things, clicking and guffawing in the front corner of the shop), but a larger crowd should take care of that.

But the skating rink that the city sidewalk turned into...! I've dislocated both knees in my lifetime, so I get quite paranoid about walking on Montreal's sloping sidewalks. After years of not owning winter boots, I think I need to break down and get some. Does anyone know a particular kind that would give me more traction on these icy roads?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Tough Crowd

I had a pro bono gig on Sunday night with the Montreal Children's Hospital at the Novotel on de la Montagne. It was a special weekend where the kids who were being treated got to spend time with their friends and families doing a variety of activities, including a sleepover and a visit from Santa on Monday morning.

So they contacted me to ask if I'd be willing to volunteer some time and tales for about 60 kids. I said sure, but I made sure to mention that I'd need a room that didn't have too much traffic and noise in which to tell me stories. The event organizer said that would be no problem.

When I showed up, the 60 people (kids and parents) were sitting in a huge room where they had just had supper and were now doing arts and crafts. They cleared a space for me in the corner and announced the storytelling, but only 20 of the 60 people left their tables to come and listen.

The rest of them stayed at their tables working on their arts and crafts and speaking at an above average level, which meant I had to practically shout my stories to be heard. I asked one of the organizers to ask the others to keep their voices down. To her credit, she tried, but the hordes paid no attention to her and kept talking, shouting and laughing.

By the end of the show, my own voice was hoarse although the kids stayed with me right until the last story. The organizers were very grateful and very apologetic, saying that they would make sure I had a quieter space next year when they did this event again.

Speaking of events, are you coming to our Winter Tales show on Tuesday night (entitled Twas the Night Before)? It's at the Shaika Cafe (5526 Sherbrooke, corner Old Orchard) at 7pm. You can download the poster here.

C'mon.. can you imagine a better way to spend an evening? Cup of hot chai, a pastry, and Winter Tales to warm the soul?

Friday, December 03, 2004

Dirty Words

I was at a meeting yesterday where one of the members was asked to bring an inspirational quote. This member stood up and read the following quote:

Men of principle are principal men
- Palmer (I think)

Immediately, there was a wave of murmuring in the group and one of the women crossed her arms and stated "I am not a man! You should change that to people."

Confused, the guy who read quote said "It was a quote, so I can't really do that. To me, the "man" in this quote means men or women."

"It's still not appropriate," she replied. "You should've said "people" and not "man". "

And the debate ended pretty much there, except I was left stewing in my corner. Since when is the word "man" a dirty, derogatory word? We were all adults around that table (I figured) and we're all intelligent to know what the spirit of that quote meant, so why must the terminology be changed?

The man who read the quote has always been an upstanding professional and has never done anything to suggest otherwise. I found it insulting that his character was attacked in this way, suggesting that he was somehow discriminating against women because he read a quote that said "man" rather than "people".

So rather than learning from a noble quotation, another person decided to use it as a soapbox to flaunt an unrelated issue and, as a side bonus, attempt to damage his character. If she had a problem with the word "man", she could've just as easily spoken to the guy privately and made her displeasure known to him.

I thought about raising this issue with the woman in question, but I checked with Ms. Carotte first. She said I shouldn't say anything, that most of the people in that room would not agree with me, and I might only damage my own standing in the group. "It's wrong, but this is how society views men nowadays. Let it go."

I'd like to be a man of principle, but apparently, because I'm a man, I'll just have to do my best, handicapped as I am with that pesky Y chromosone.

Principles indeed.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

My Yuletide List Just Got Funky

I just figured out what I really want for Yule, but I can't think of who would get this for me. I need to make more friends in the UK. When you check out the link, scroll down and listen to the sounds these bad boys make. I was only so-so on the idea of owning one of these until I heard them hum.

Speaking of weaponry, I sure could use an Orc Detector. Since Frodo Baggins has made his home in BC (where did you think that ship was really going in Return of the King?!?), he doesn't really need it. Besides... I live near a tunnel! Orcs abound!

Then again, an Orb attuned to my computer could be fun. A mood ring for geeks!

Would it be dangerous to have earth's magnetic poles so close to my computer?

Actually... Just hearing from you for the holidays will be great. And if you don't, I'll bop you with my plastic toy that hums! Oh yeah... You know what I'm talking about...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Upstaging of Death

Frick: "Didja hear the news yesterday?"

Frack: "Sure did... Unbelievable."

Frick: "I guess this day had to come sooner or later, but it's still sad."

Frack: "Yep... I wish I could've gone to Ottawa to join in the protest."

Frick: "Protest? Whaddya mean protest? How can you protest about a man dying of heart failure?"

Frack: "Wha--? George Bush didn't die of heart failure! He was visiting Ottawa!"

Frick: "George who?"

Pierre Burton died yesterday. I'm sure it would bring a smile to the old historians lips that his death upstaged Mr. Bush's visit to Ottawa. We Canadians have plenty to be sad about, really. But it's snowing outside, so it can't be that bad.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Travellin' the Long Road

Dating a girl with a family in Toronto means I gotta cross the 401 more often that I'm used to. In this last excursion, I noticed something strange about the rest-stops we refuelled at: there's always a few video games and there's always at least one driving game. After being on the road for a couple of hours, why-o-why would you want to play a racing game? Let's have some diversity here!

This past year, I've rented more cars than usual, so I'm figuring that's a sign from the gods that my six-year moratorium on owning a car has come to an end. In the next couple of weeks, I should be buying a car.

More than likely, I'll be getting a Ford Focus Wagon. Sure, it's not a car that fully reflects my inner macho man, but I do alot of things that require some cargo space. I ski, I camp, I white water kayak. I need a car that's got some room in the back to store people and things.

The Focus has gotten some good value-for-money reviews, so it's a good buy. I've spoken to a few FFW owners and they've had good things to say. And it's not such a bad looking car, but I've always had a thing for hatchbacks.

But just to get it out of the way: No, I won't be moving your stuff on July 1st, although I can be talked into making a trip to IKEA. I am the spirit of compromise.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Objects at Rest

After being on a forced vacation for a few months, I'm getting back into the working groove. I've got a new contract that has me working from the home office. I'm sure you're all weeping boo-hoo for me, but it takes some mental preparation to get back into the working world. I need to be independently wealthy.

I've got a whole bunch of things coming together at the same time. The company work is picking up, the Book/CD is 95% finished, and I've got another storytelling show on December 7th at the Shaika Cafe (Sherbrooke, corner Old Orchard).

Who knew putting a Book/CD could be so much work? Zimmerman and I have to go back to the studio next week to record a final track and clean-up a few glitches on the recording and then I gotta finish the layout and meet the publisher's requirements.

And to think I was hoping to have this done by end of September. Sheesh.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

One step closer to Linux

Argh. Ever since I updated my Windows XP with Service Pack 2, I've had nothing but headaches. Windows Explorer is constantly crashing and I need to keep rebooting my machine to get my email though Outlook.

I'm this close to backing up all my files, wiping the hard disk clean, and reinstalling everything. If you haven't installed Service Pack 2 for XP, don't do it. Get a good firewall application (like Norton from Symantec) and sit tight.

Friggin' Billzebub Gatecifer and his demonic machinations...

Friday, November 12, 2004

Nice Lasso

I've been hearing rumours floating about that a Wonder Woman movie is in the works and that Sandra Bullock might be taking the lead roll in all her star-spangled glory. If you've been following the animated Justice Leagues, WW's been kicking ass and taking names anew.

So let's just go over her super powers, shall we. The WW of the 1970's had super strength, an unbreakable golden lasso that made you tell the truth, bullet-deflecting wrist bands, and a boomerangish tiara that she could use on the bad boys who started running. She couldn't fly, but she could always use her invisible jet.

The modern WW doesn't use her tiara anymore, but she can fly on her own steam (although she still takes the invisible jet out once in awhile, just to impress the locals (assuming they can see it, that is)). I wonder how the modern movie machine will change WW for her new millenium debut.

And Lynda Carter simply must make a cameo appearance. Maybe as Hippolyta?

Physically, Bullock does seem to suit, but I'd go see the Wonder Woman film just to see Sandra tumble out of the invisible jet, her foot caught in the invisible seatbelt.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sudden Telling

So I went to French storytelling last night at Café Sarajevo (the second Tuesday of each month). I happened to be in the neighbourhood and I had been meaning to stop by. I've always loved Café Sarajevo; they have great gypsy music and the ambiance is relaxing. It's a great place to bring a date.

I ran into the usual suspects there and got drafted into telling a story myself. I was quite nervous about this telling because it would be in French and I didn' t have time to prepare it. But Yves insisted, saying that I needed to learn how to tell spontaneously. Besides... he bought me a beer. How could I refuse?

I ended up telling The Blue Hippopotamus in French and did a pretty good job. The people responded well and I only tripped in a couple of places. It would have been better if I had had time to prepare it, but oh well.

The teller who performed before me (Eric Chalifoux) told a couple of very traditional Quebecois folktales, including Ti-Jean se debarrase du Curé. In this story, Ti-Jean tricks the local priest several times which ultimately causes the priest to throw himself off a cliff.

I was telling the story to Ms. Carotte this morning and she exclaimed "That's a horrible story!" She was horrified that the priest would be treated in such a disrespectful way, but that's very much a part of Quebecois folk culture; it's a very strong love/hate relationship. Even though this is not the case now, people raised in French Canadian culture know that at one time, the parish priest was not to be trifled with. He had enormous amounts of power and respect within the community.

I'm not sure if I would retell this story, but if I did, I would have to be very careful about the audience I did tell it to. For example, I could not tell this story to an Irish audience because in their culture, while the priest may be a bit of a partypooper, he is still highly respected and slightly feared. Telling them a story about how the hero humiliates and ultimately tricks the priest into taking his own life would be such a culture shock, the people would not be able to appreciate it.

I can already hear some of you saying stuff like "So what? Why shouldn't they be challenged in their thinking? Don't pander to their insecurities!" This is where Storytelling differs from Spoken Word as an art form.

Many Spoken Word artists I've seen tend to shock their audiences with controversial verse and taboo subjects. Sometimes this is effective, sometimes it isn't. But this is the nature of the Spoken Word beast. It's very experimental and the audiences that it draws know to expect the unexpected. They expect to be challenged and shocked.

But in Storytelling, you can challenged your audience, but it tends to be more subtle. The concepts, the imagery, the folklore can be challenging to the audience, but if your main focus is to shock the listeners out of their seats, you'll end up with empty seats. It's important to have a good idea of what the audience is expecting to hear and pick the stories that fit under that umbrella. If you're telling to children, don't pick stories with strong sexual content. If you're telling to an adult audience, don't pick stories whose themes are too childish.

The Blue Hippopotamus story sounds childish, but it deals with the complex idea of reincarnation. I've tried telling that story to kids and they get confused by the ending. But to adult audiences, it is complex enough for them to appreciate, but fantastic enough for them to find it magical.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I just checked the results of the presidential race. Argh. Bush is in the lead. I'd say good riddance to them if the results didn't impact Canada so much. Maybe we could put a 30 foot wall along the US/Canada border with mirrors on the US side. Faced with their own reflections, they may forget we're here at all.

Of course that will mean that BNL will no longer be able to tour in the US, but that suits me fine. Maybe they can turn-up in Montreal a bit more often.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Any rock-star that has managed to carve out a decent to indecent living will tell you about the time the agent booked a hall that could hold 1000 people and only 100 people turned out. Hopefully, the rock-star will have played his best and those 100 people will have gotten a show that they would never forget. One of the basic rules of theatre is that you never play to the empty seats.

But I learned a hard lesson in humility this weekend. I'll admit it... I got cocky based on past successes. When we did the Irishman's Tale concert back in March 2004, we got a record-breaking turnout of 140 people. Looking back, it was a bit of a unique situation and we cornered a particular market with that success.

So when we were trying to figure out when to put on this year's storytelling festival (our second), we had originally done it for mid-October. Unfortunately, the hall where we wanted to put our main concert was booked for that date and was only available at the end of the month. "Hey," we thought. "That's Halloween! What better a time for a weekend of creepy tales?"

It turns out that with Halloween parties going on all over the city, we may have had too much competition for the weekend. To me, halloween is all about ghost stories and creepy tales, but I am biased in that opinion.

On Friday night, we had room for about 150 people in the hall, but we only got 20 (including 5 tellers). The Friday night show was our only money-maker, so we were in definite financial trouble. We had shows on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon/night, but aside from donations, we could not recoup our losses. Fortunately, we're only talking a couple of hundred dollars.

This is the risk you take with a self-funded festival. If it's a financial success (ie: you break even or you make a profit), you build confidence from that feather in your cap. If it fails, then you start to question if what you do is the right thing (along with other joyrides down Negative Notion Lane). This failure is not coming at a good time, what with a published book/CD on the verge of being printed (all self-funded, BTW). I think it'll be time to crack one of my sacred walnuts to push me forward.

On the upside, the weekend of storytelling was fantastic. All the storytellers were dead-on and Tom Lips (our guest teller from Ottawa) was in tip-top form singing songs and telling ghostly tales.

It would've been nice to at least break even, but the weekend wasn't about making money. It was about storytelling, and in that, it was a success. Gotta stay focussed on that.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Old Friends in the News

Before I moved to Blogger, I used to keep a blog on my Sympatico webspace. Back then, I had written a post about a high school reunion I had attended (summer of 2001). I've just heard from a mutual friend that Eustachio has handed himself to police for murdering his girlfriend. I'm completely in shock.

Here's my old posting about him:
    On Saturday night, I attended my Katimavik High School reunion (that was just the name of the High School and has no connection to the Katimavik program). I haven't seen some of these folks in 15 years (ye Gods, I'm old). I was a bit nervous about attending, mainly because I didn't know what to expect (they had another reunion five years previous, but I couldn't attend that one).

    There were a few people there who have not changed since I saw them 15 years ago, while others it took a few seconds of careful scrutiny before I could zero-in on their identity. I was a toss-up: some people said I had not changed while others said I had.

    It was great to see everyone and hear that they were all doing well. We had an attendance of 25 people out of the 60 that could've come (there were another 10 who said would come, but they didn't show). At the end of the evening, two more guys show up. One was a friend that I have kept in touch with over the years (Jean-Luc Trahan) and the other was Eustachio Gallesse.

    Eustachio gave me nothing but grief for all of my elementary and high school years, but when I saw him at the reunion, he made a beeline towards me, gave me a warm handshake and said "I want to apologize for all the horrible stuff I put you through in school. I'm really, really sorry for being such a shit to you all those years." Wow, I thought. Someone must've treated him worse than he treated me since those years.

    I had long since put my feelings of resentment towards the bullies that hounded me over those years behind me, but it was nice to hear that from him. We were kids, what did we know? I don't hold any grudges against any of them now. Still... It was cool.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Release our women, you KISS-impersonating midget freaks!

This is just a sampler of the conversation in my household. I was remembering and recounting an evening at Brutopia when I was surprised to see that the band on stage was four midgets from New York dressed as the members of KISS.

I could've sworn I blogged about it, but I couldn't raise it on the Google search. Weird.

Anyways, I was just whining about how storytellers just don't get the same kinds of groupies that rock stars get. I was recounting the time when I walked into Brutopia one random night and noticed that the back room was curtained off. Just as I asked the doorman who was playing that night, the mini-KISS singers strode to the stage surrounded by their groupies.

The groupies weren't short women. They were regular girls who were attracted to these very short KISS performers. So you don't have to be tall, dark, handsome, and play guitar to get the groupies. Maybe the guitar is all you need.

Then again, I wouldn't mind hanging with this rock band. They've got to have some interesting stories to tell. But I guess the strongest attractive factor is being confident in what you do, believing in what you do.

If you're 4 feet tall and putting on a KISS concert, confidence had better not be the thing you're lacking. It's a good lesson to learn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Blog Ideas

Ms. Carotte and I made our way to the town of Russel yesterday to plunder it for its unearthed treasures (translation: we went to get the rest of Ms. Carotte's stuff out of storage). Thanks to Aengus for the use of the USS Galileo (translation: his white minivan).

I distinctly remember saying to Ms. Carotte that I needed to blog about something, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was.

I do this all the time. "I'll be blogging about that!" I'll exclaim, but when I finally sit in front of the computer, I usually can't remember the tidbit of human nature I wanted to capture and immortalize in blogform.

Apparently, my friends describe my way of being in two ways: 1) He's forgetful and 2) He's always a bit late. I'm trying to fix #2, but it keeps slipping my mind.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Vaudou Cancan balais taboo

So I finally saw Les Triplettes de Belleville. This was the first time I ever bought a DVD without actually seeing the movie first. I just knew that I would like this film and ye gods... I wasn't disappointed.

I am so glad that the Oscars noticed this film, although I'm still bitter that Finding Nemo actually won the Oscar for Best Animated film. Every aspect of Triplettes was infinitely more daring, blatantly traditional, and yet still used cutting-edge modern animation refined compared to Nemo (a now run-of-the-mill 3D cartoon). I'll admit, I may be biased because I know the making of this film used a technology that I once documented.

Yeah yeah... I know the Oscars are rife with politics. It's still an honor to be nominated and I'm glad that a film that broke so many "rules" was recognized.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Mental Note #37

When picking up a hot curling iron, make sure you pick up the cooler end. In case you ever wondered how hot a curling iron really is, let me assure you that the pain in the hand that picked it up for about two seconds lasted for six hours. It's friggin' hot.

I tried to cover up the fact that I stupidly burnt my hand by picking up a hot curling iron from the wrong end by telling people I had picked up Ms. Carotte's bible by accident. "You call yourself a loving God?!?! Is this a sample of your mercy?!"

You had to be there: Happy belated Tarasmas everyone! As it is tradition after all, I got to play the drunken informant at the annual Tarasmas celebration again. Thanks... it was fun.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Most Amazing Line this Week

Yesterday, I overheard a statement that nearly made me drop my dumbbells.

"I'm a lesbian that likes men."

This town is just filled with people, stories, and bizarre statements like this one. You just have to keep your ears open.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Variety and the Planet Thongo

Ye Gods... I just blogged about Ming the Merciless. I knew it was just a matter of time.

Don't tell me you don't get an unpredictable amount of variety on this blog. As my mother would say "Franchment!"

I know I had something brewing about thongs, but I can't seem to get it out there. Basically all I have to say about Thongs and the People Who Wear Them is that I'm not sure how to feel about them. I know that thongs on men are just wrong, but what's with the visible thongs on women?

With the arrival of low-rider jeans, more of a woman's lower back is on display. Mind you, I'm certainly not complaining about that. If you're going to get a tattoo down there, do your best to show it off. Flaunt!

But when their thong underwear is clearly visible... Are they doing that on purpose? Is it supposed to be erotic?

Personally, I just find it embarrassing all around. I'm not particularly turned on by seeing a woman's thong, but I'm not sure if I should say anything about it (along the lines of "Your fly is open.").

For now, I'm leaning on the cautionary side and not saying anything, but my feelings are still mixed. Maybe I'm just not a Thong-Man. I can live with that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Sky Captain and the Koopa

Last weekend was the last game at Domaine du Createur and it was great fun. Maybe because it was Thanksgiving weekend or mid-term season, but attendance was a bit low (the Francos were missed).

However, you can't go wrong when the final battle involves a giant green dragon, although I couldn't help thinking of the Koopa from the Mario Bros game. Hence, here's the spoof shot:

The good news is that Valentino made it through to the end with a couple of lives to spare. I'm toying with the idea of shelving this character for awhile and coming up with something new that I can really role-play and not care if he gets killed off quickly. I think a Town Drunk would be fun.

As usual, after weekends like this, I'm completely exhausted. I spent most of Monday asleep, and consequently, I couldn't return the rental car on time. So since I had wheels last night, I roped Elim into seeing Sky Captain last night in Kirkland. Sure, we could've gone to see the movie in town, but since I had the wheels, so I wanted to see a movie in a cinema that was far away with decent parking. Sue me, I live to drive.

Sky Captain was fantastic and beautiful filmed. It is written and filmed in a style that was prevalent in the 1930s (a la Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless), but brought to life with modern blue-screen and CGI technology. This is a Pulp Serial brought to the blue/silver screen. As long as you understand this, you'll enjoy it. It's getting so-so reviews, but I think the people aren't appreciating it in the right frame of reference.

With everything going on, we haven't had time for Thanksgiving turkeys, but the plan is to have our turkey offering next week.

And Ms. Carotte is coming back today. Yay!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Good Cause

Note: Sympatico seems to be down, so my layout is a bit messed up. Please excuse the mess.

This just appeared on one of the elists I moderate, so I thought I'd pass it along. Sorry for the long silence, but life has been a bit hectic. Busy, but oh so good. I'm brewing a post on the concept of Thongs, so stay tuned.

Here's the good cause. I should be dropping off my donation today:

~~~~~Please pass this on and help find a cure~~~~~

Breast Cancer Foundation - Shave to Save

The Editor of Caffimage.com will have his head shaved for the Quebec
Breast Cancer Foundation.

More info please follow the link:


~~~~~Please pass this on and help find a cure~~~~~

Image Is Everything

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


All I have to say about Dunchurch is that it's a long long long way to drive. Thank goodness that the Budget rent-a-car had unlimited mileage on it because driving to Dunchurch on Friday and then driving back to Montreal via Toronto (to get Ms. Carotte's things) racked up 1600 km on the odometer.

It also satisfied any need on my part for long-distance travel for a good long while. I'm still craving a car though. The car I want doesn't even have to be as sporty as the Grand Am I rented for the weekend (although it was fun having the thing take off like a bat out of Lethbridge when I mashed the accelerator). Right now, I've got my eyes set on a Toyota Echo (hatchback) or a Ford Focus Wagon. I've always had a thing for the practicality of hatchbacks.

But the long and the short of it is that Ms. Carotte is pretty much settled into my pad. We've got a few more things to take care of to make her arrival official, but all in due time. After six years of living alone, having someone share my space is an adjustment, but so far, so good.

CD News: I spent more time in the studio than I expected, but the CD is almost done. Gern needs to make a few more tweaks and the CD will be ready to go. Click here to listen to a 25-second clip (mp3) of Jack Cures the Doctor (what I refer to as my Jim Carrey moment).

If anyone is interested in pre-ordering the Book/CD ($20), email me at womp@symatico.ca. I'll add you to the list and I'll make sure you get an autographed copy!

Monday, September 27, 2004


Just a quick shout-out to Kristy who claims that I'm inspiring. Did ya hear that? I'm an inspiration to young Canadian women. Move over Roberta Bondar!

So Kristy has been busy. She's got a blog, a photo journal, and a bunch-o-photos over at Yahoo. Way to get linked girlfriend.

Oh but wait... I can't call Kristy by her real name, so I will be referring to her as Magaly from now on. Thanks for the all the nice complements Magaly.

I just got back from Northern Ontario with my Toronto Mail-Order girlfriend. She's made grilled cheese for me. Gotta run.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Tales from the Golden Gryphon

Last night, we had our first official WOMP night of storytelling since the Fringe: Tales from the Golden Gryphon. It was held at the Gryphon D'Or cafe on Monkland and there's another one tonight. The place is a bit small (holding only about 20 people), but it makes for an intimate space and it's very cozy. Perfect for storytelling.

For tonight, we've got 16 people reserved, so I'm hoping another 4 will turn up today (I always want a place to sell out). So far, the turn-out has been strong, so we're seriously considering turning it into a regular gig (like once a month).

But this show was designed to promote a much bigger event at the end of October that will span the three days of Halloween. Stay tuned for more information!

All this and the Book/CD is nearing completion. Very exciting times...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Cellular Ding-a-Ling

I wish I had a cellphone that supported this. Green Day has come out with their latest album (must add them to the list) and to promote it, they've come up with Green Day ringtones. But these ringtones are more talky than ringy.

In fact, I probably wouldn't answer the cellphone just to let the ring play itself out, especially if I'm on a crowded bus or metro. The thought of someone's cellphone saying "Hey! It's Responsibility over here! Pick up your fucking phone" makes me giggle like a school girl.

You can visit the Green Day website to hear the ringtones, but I warn you that when you load the page, it starts playing a preview of the ringtones right away and quite loudly too, so modulate your volume in response to it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Blather, Blintz, Bleat

This must be a sign of getting older, but I get so impatient with people who do not speak in an efficient manner. Instead of thinking about what they want to say, they'll work it all out aloud, giving the rest of us an unwanted window into their thought processes. Then the point of whatever they're saying starts turning blue from lack of oxygen because it gets piled over prefaces, life examples, and disclaimers.

Says the guy who seems incapable of writing a short blog entry. I recognize it. Shut up.

I was at a meeting last night and there were a few people there who either didn't know how to cut to the chase or couldn't be bothered to. And me sitting quietly at my chair, eyes boring into the floor, my mind screaming "shutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutupshutup" and "gettothepointgettothepointgettothepointgettothepointgettothepointgettothepoint."

Here's an example:

Question: So do you agree with Proposition A?

Answer: Well I don't know, y'know? But, like, it's kinda like this thing that happened last week when I was at school, whatever? There was, like, I don't know, a teacher? And he was, like talking to us and -- I don't know -- well, I started thing about, I don't know, life? And how big it was when you-- whatever. Anyways,I think it's a good idea, but I don't know, like whatever. But then there was this presentation on elephants, and like y'know, how they never forget? And I was thinking, yeah like, this is just so like Proposition A, but then again, I don't know-- whatever.

Argh! I think it's time I pick up one of those wooden canes so I can shake it like a Poloroid Picture at those kids breaking bottles on my street. I seem to be well on my way to brown pants, white sneakers, and bifocals galore.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Dinner Parties

Growing up in my parent's house, my folks loved to host a dinner with a few friends. My Dad had an extension to the table so that you could seat 8 around the table or if we had more, he'd get out the sheet of plywood (which would then seat 10). The kiddie table was always set in the laundry room.

My mum would spend the day cooking: groceries in the morning, bubbling pot lids in the afternoon, and the house would smell of roast beast. My Dad even used to make his own wine, so it would be La Cuvée Pops for the table wine (my Dad is the oldest of four kids, so they nicknamed him Pops).

The food was always perfect, the lights would be low, and the conversation was lively. By the time the tea/coffee arrived after dessert, we would all be stuffed.

So when I host a dinner party at my own house, I tend to go a little over the top. I keep wanting to recreate the mood that I grew accustomed to at family dinner table. So last night, I had a few close friends over for a sit-down roast beast meal. Everyone contributed something and we were all putting it together in the kitchen.

We all pulled up our chairs to the dinner table and we began to feast. It being Harvest time, we were all in the mood for a bountiful Harvest supper. And ye Gods, we weren't disappointed. The roast beast was juicy and flavourful, the mashed potatoes and the salad were delish, and the tea and dessert finished everything off nicely.

That was the closest I've ever come to recreating the dinner mood in my parent's house in the 15 years I've been away from home. I loved it.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Turning Points
  • Last night's studio session was productive. The CD portion of the Book/CD is almost done. We'll be getting the First Draft of the Master CD on Monday. Oooooh.

  • Fate has introduced me to a guy who might be able to get me a good price to put the Book/CD together. It's going to be expensive any way you cut it, but hopefully sales will be good. You'll buy one, won't you?

  • This Sunday afternoon, I'll be doing my first solo performance at Band Camp. Ask me if I'm nervous or if I feel prepared.

  • On September 27th, my life will be changing forever and definitely in a good way. Ms. Carotte will be sharing my living space. Prepare for oodles of lemon scones and couple stuff. That reminds me... I need to clean this place up.

  • On September 29th, I'll be leading my first Men's Circle ritual. This is hopefully the first in a series of rituals being offered this year that will explore male spirituality and the male mystery. Ask me if I'm nervous.

  • At the end of October (Halloween), the second installment of our storytelling festival will be taking place. Three days of storytelling, ending on Halloween night at Hurley's Pub. Stay tuned for more info.
In the midst of all this, I'm hoping to get a new client or contract. These months are going to be busy.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

My Own Private Box

So last night, the Admiral invited me out to see some Avant-Garde theatre out in the Village. We went to see The Boxman at Station C. I hadn't been in the Village in years and it's always an experience.

When I first moved to Montreal, Aengus took me for a tour of the interesting places, including the Village, but he didn't tell me that at first. We were walking down Ste. Catherine street and I looked in the cafes and bars and I said "Wow... It's a slow in the bars. Not many women out tonight." THAT's when he decided to let me in on the secret.

Anyhoo, onto the play. The audience was let into a large room that had a set of cardboard box booths laid-out in a square and facing inwards. Each booth had its own chair, flashlight, water, facecloth, and toilet paper. The inside of the booth was decorated with a collage of pages from magazines and newspapers.

Then the play began... It's difficult to describe exactly what was going on. Because it's avant-garde, it doesn't follow and traditional rules of theatre. The best way I can describe it is that it's a series of loosely connected vignettes, centered around people who live in cardboard boxes and watch us live our lives.

Interesting idea, but the delivery was only so-so. Some of the actors need to learn how to project their voices because I missed most of what they were saying. Also, this play was over two hours in length with no intermission. That's a long time to stay focussed and in your seat.

Visually, the play was facinating: the visuals were strong and remarkable. It mixed recorded images and claymation with live stage performance. It was also fun to have the flashlights to throw extra light on what we wanted to see on the stage.

Before we went into the theatre, I was a bit apprehensive because I read the program and the director/writer's two-cents on the piece. It could be basically summed up as follows:
    I don't write plays to entertain. We already have the Hollywood claptrap to stimulate our senses. I am an artist, I create. If you like what I've done, great. If you don't, great. Your approval or appreciation is not necessary or required. I am an artist and the my creation is the most important thing.
I'm torn on this isssue. On the one hand, I think it is important for artists to push the boundaries and be innovative, but not at the expense of their audience. If I go see a play about urban life and it's two hours of hookers flinging Kraft cheese slices at a photograph of Mr. Bush doing the cha-cha with Jean Chretien, I can't say my time/money has been well spent.

The writer/director may want to call it Art, but where's the consideration for his audience? Challenge your audience, yes, but don't leave them in dark, bound and helpless. You're not doing anyone any favours except indulging your own dark fantasies. Art can be therapeutic, but it shouldn't be a replacement for therapy.

Again, don't get me wrong: I think it is important to challenge the audience, but it's important to strike a balance between taking your audience to a new place while giving them something they can digest.

To do otherwise is lazy, self-indulgent, and does more to hurt the Art than to bring it to the next stage of evolution.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Circular Answers

During a touring show of Sleeping Beauty, I was armed with a video camera and turned to T! to ask him what he thought of working with such consumate professionals. The answer was as sarcastic as the question.

T! turned to me and gave me his answer using the same words I used in the question, but in various positions and juxtapositions.

Watching this video clip of Mr. Bush trying to stumble his way through an explanation reminded me of that (although T! was much more eloquent).

Sometimes it's just better to say "I don't understand your question" or even simpler "I don't know the answer to that".
Canada Rocks

Team Canada beat Finland last night 3 to 2 in the World Cup of Hockey. All the goals were solid except for one (it dribbled through an opening and into the goal (more luck than anything)). I was down at the Old Orchard watching the game, but I couldn't convince any of my cronies to come with.

When Team Canada won gold at the last Winter Olympics, we got a gang together and watched the game at the Cage au Sports in the Bell Forum. The place was packed and the cheers were deafening. After the game, the streets were overrun with celebrating fans. It was great.

I guess World Cup just doesn't have the same weight. The streets were quiet in NDG after the game, although I heard a few people saying that there were huge celebrations in town. I hope they didn't get out of hand.

Monday, September 13, 2004


It's a bad habit and it's getting me into more and more trouble. I never used to be chronically late like this, but now I'll be showing up to things 15 to 30 minutes late. I hate it.

So I used a meditation exercise suggested by a couple of victims of my lateness (thanks Autumn and Ash) and the horrible truth was revealed.

It's been about three years since I lost my dream job at Toon Boom and, unlike any other job I've held, I've been keeping tabs on what's been going on there since I left. In some ways, I'm glad I'm gone, but in other ways, I'm still wistful.

Back in 1999, I was freelancing my writing when I approached TB for a contract. The interviews went well, but then I was offered a job rather than a contract. I was so tempted by the offer that I put my freelancing days on hold to have a chance to work for this company.

Over the next two years, I poured everything I had into that company and I produced some of my best work (ZDNet even noticed the documentation, saying it was "Excellent"). To achieve this, I worked late nights, weekends, and I gave up personal time and cancelled plans to make sure I made the deadlines (which were largely unreasonable). I was very loyal to this company, despite a few bumps and rolls.

So you can imagine my devastation on September 19th 2001 (two years to the day I was hired) when I was laid-off with a dozen others. So much for loyalty or recognition. I gave my all to that company and in the end, I was reduced to a salary, to a number, and was cut from the group. One month later, I found another job (for a gaming company), but that one only lasted 9 months when I was laid-off again.

Since then, I've been finding it very difficult to give my projects all the attention and energy they need. I keep feeling like my contributions are meaningless in the grand scheme of things and I'm not as motivated to keep my promises or put in that extra effort. All my work and efforts at TB didn't prevent them from casting me loose so they could save a few bucks.

It's not a conscious decision, but it hangs around my neck like a dead weight. When I should be heading out the door to make my appointments, I let myself get distracted by other things, and consequently, I'm late.

Now that realize where this weight is coming from, I can start to fight against it, but it's so difficult. I don't enjoy being like this -- it robs me of the joy of my activities.

Mind you, I'm not trying to make excuses. I'm trying to figure out what's wrong and find a way to fix it.

It's pulling up by the Boot-Straps time, but *whine* the boots are so far away...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Now with Pictures!

You'll find the photos of the Kayaking Weekend at the Admiral's Canned Photos site. The photos were taken with a Disposable Waterproof Kodak camera, so the quality ain't that great. I had the photo place develop the negatives and burn a CD.

There's only two pictures of yours truly (one of the problems with being the photographer) and they may not look very scary, but I can tell you the adrenaline is pumping when you're jumping the eddies, rolling with the current, and trying not to flip over.

I went to the Eye Doctor today to have my eyes dialated. I couldn't see straight for 3 hours after they put those drops in my eyes and it was difficult walking around in daylight (with the eyes fully dialated, the sun is plenty bright, thank you very much).

But I should be getting my new lenses and frame on Tuesday; I'll be keeping my current frame but have the new lenses placed at the end of next week. I'm not sure what's coming, but the Eye Doc assures me that my vision will be so much better.

Maybe then, I'll stop misplacing my glasses.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Hurts So Good

If my body was a oppressed village, there'd be open revolt right now for what I just put it through. Fat happy little villagers living their sedentary life are not pleased when they are suddenly forced to perform feats of strength with virtually no warm-up.

After my third white-water kayaking trip in four years, I'm in pain, but satisfied and happy.

I wish this was me, but it ain'tMy first kayaking trip was with Aengus and Kensington, organized by Aengus. He had heard through the grapevine at work that the H2O Adventure company offered a great course in kayaking that lasted two days (the weekend). So we picked a weekend that suited all of us and headed off to the white water.

That first time, we decided not to camp out with the other kayakers, which in the end was a mistake. After the first day, we all hopped into Aengus' fertility wagon (a mini-van) and headed back to Brossard (a 1.5 hour trip). In that time, my muscles had seized up so badly and I was in so much pain, I had to ask Aengus' girlfriend to cut my steak up for me: I couldn't put enough pressure on the knife to cut through the meat.

Since then, we bring out tents and sleeping bags with us, along with a few cans of beer and other assorted refreshments to share around the campfire. Not only does it allow us to hang with the other people (who were a very entertaining bunch this weekend), but the muscles don't cramp up as bad if you keep moving.

Our dry land is an island on the Rouge River and our wet land is the bottom of the Rouge itself. Unlike other kayaking companys, H2O doesn't start you at the top and forces you down the white water immediately. H2O starts you at the bottom in calm water so that you can learn and practice all the basic moves in a stress-free environment.

Then when you are ready (which is usually at the end of the first day), they take you up to the rapids at the bottom of the river. This means that you can choose how rough a rapid you wish to take on, based on your own skill and confidence level.

As I said, this was my third time on the Rouge, so Kensington and I took an advanced kayaking course which put us in the rapids after lunch on the first day. I didn't do too badly... I was able to surf the ways and jump from eddy to eddy with relative ease., although I flipped over a few times in the water water.

I meant to learn how to do the Eskimo Roll this year, but decided I'd rather spend the time paddling. Besides, I need to develop some more strength in my body to be able to flip the boat around (it's all in the hips).

So each time I flipped over, I would perform a Wet Exit, which means you exit the kayak while underwater. Looking back, I should've done more T-Rescues (using the tip of another kayaking to help you right yourself on the water). Doing a Wet Exit means you have to drag your kayak and paddle to the shore, empty the kayak out, and get back in. Very tiring. Still, each time I flipped over and Wet Exited, I just got back into the kayak and tried again.

On Saturday night, the kayakers were delighted with a fire-spinning demonstration by the Admiral, as well as a story from yours truly. Then it fells to jokes and teasing all around. At least we avoided Kumbaya (although narrowly). I shared some of the Fireball Whisky with the people, which was a very manly drink until one guy said that the taste of it reminded him of those little pink hearts you get on Valentine's day.

Argh. This was the revenge exacted upon me for my Ham story.

Sunday was again spent on the river, but now the whole lot of us were surfing the rapids, which made for a crowded river. Still, I was able to surf a few eddies with my buddies and get more confidence on the water.

Sunday afternoon was certainly bittersweet. I was glad to be heading back home, but I was going to miss the gang we hung out with all weekend. A big shout out to the whole gang, especially to Bill and the Bombardier Crew.

I'll be awaiting Spring Thaw 2005 on the Rouge River with anticipation. I hope all you can join us on the rapids!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

PC Patience

Maybe I'm not built to work in retail. Dealing with the public brings you into contact witht he lowest common denominator more often than not, and they can ask you the dumbest questions. I was chatting with someone who works in a local New Age shop and she was telling me about a woman who said "I was performing this ritual and after I lit my incense stick, I noticed that the stick got smaller and smaller and then it went out! Did I do something wrong?" or "I want my money back. This Book of Shadows doesn't work! Where's the magical writing that is supposed to appear whenever I open it?"


My family is a bit of the same way with computers. My parents bought an HP Pavillion a few years back (it's one of those combo computers you can buy at Bureau en Gros (Staples)) and it works only so-so, mainly because it only came with 64 megs of RAM.

I have tried and tried to explain how the computer works to them, going from technical explanations to metaphorical demonstrations, but the workings of personal computing is just too abstract. I've even written out the instructions step-by-step, but of course, they don't read the instructions...

I try to be patient and answer all their questions, but sometimes I dread going home because of the barrage of questions being thrown at me over and over (some of them are re-runs). Here's a selection of some of my favorites:

"Can I feed this sheet of paper into the printer and then fax it to Ireland?" -- We have an HP Deskjet, not a fax.

"I burned a CD with my favorite MP3s. Why doesn't my CD Player play the CD now?" -- You guessed it: she doesn't have an MP3 CD Player.

"When I try to start Outlook to read my email, it crashes. Should I call Sympatico (the ISP) to complain that the Internet isn't working?"

"When I click on the thing and select the doojigger, nothing happens. Why? What am I doing wrong?" -- A direct quote from my mother and she wasn't pointing at anything at the time, but looked at me expectantly as if I would instantly know what she was talking about.

"What is that? I didn't put that there. What does it do? Why is it blinking? It annoys me." -- My family tends to install stuff without really knowing what it is or what it does. Consequently, IE has about 6 new toolbars on it and when we connect to the Internet, 1700 pop-ups clutter the screen. I installed and ran Ad-Aware to look for spy-ware and found that there were over 700 spy-ware programs running on the PC. No wonder the hard disk chugged so much everytime we got connected.

Fortunately, my family tends to use the PC to get email and do some light surfing of the Web, so they are far from power users. But they so want to be Power Users, kinda like men wanting to be mechanics so that they can change their own oil and sparkplugs.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Honestly Patriotic... Now with a List!

I must thank Tal for this (missed you at KG buddy!), but I wish to dedicate it to The Admiral because he thinks he can be an honorary Canadian if he incorporates the word Aboot as much as possible. Sorry mate, but you watch too much South Park.

I can personally relate to most of these except for numbers 12 (I don't brag about Celine), 13 (I didn't know that), 19 (I was never in grade 12), and 24 (obviously not, being a Quebecker). I really relate to numbers 9, 10, 11, and 18.

Please let me know how many you do or do not relate.

You Know You're From Canada When...
  1. You're not offended by the term, "Homo Milk."
  2. You understand the phrase, "Could you pass me a serviette, I just dropped my poutine, on the chesterfield."
  3. You eat chocolate bars, not candy bars.
  4. You drink pop, not soda.
  5. You know what a Mickey and 2-4 mean.
  6. You don't care about the fuss with Cuba. It's a cheap place to go for your holidays, with good cigars.
  7. You know that a pike is a type of fish, not part of a highway.
  8. You drive on a highway, not a freeway.
  9. You have Canadian Tire money in your kitchen drawers.
  10. You know that Casey and Finnegan were not part of a Celtic musical group.
  11. You get excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada.
  12. You brag to Americans that: Shania Twain, Jim Carrey, Celine Dion and many more are Canadians.
  13. You know that the C.E.O. of American Airlines is a Canadian!
  14. You know what a touque is.
  15. You know that the last letter of the English alphabet is always pronounced "Zed" not "Zee".
  16. You understand the Labatt Blue commercials.
  17. You know how to pronounce and spell "Saskatchewan."
  18. You perk up when you hear the theme song from "Hockey Night in Canada."
  19. You were in grade 12, not the 12th grade.
  20. "Eh?" is a very important part of your vocabulary and more polite than, "Huh?"
  21. Winter. Whenever you want it. And then some.
  22. There's German food, Italian food, Chinese food, Armenian food, American food, but NO Canadian food.
  23. You don't call a "mouse" a "moose".
  24. You like the Americans a little because they don't want Quebec either.
  25. Contests run by anyone other than the government have "skill-testing questions" that winners must answer correctly before they can claim a prize.
  26. Everything is labelled in English and French.
  27. Milk comes in plastic bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.
  28. Mountain Dew has no caffeine.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Only Children of the 80's will Get This

This certainly has been a year for losing people who have marked generations. The voice behind Gloria has faded away.

I didn't catch the opening ceremonies, but the closing ceremonies for the Games were certainly spectacular. I really must make a point of catching the Winter Games in Whistler in two years.

I'm sorry I didn't catch the marathon race where that crazed priest attacked the race leader. What an ass. At least the runner was talented enough to get back into the race and win the bronze, but he certainly deserved his own gold medal. Olympic athletes shouldn't have to spend half their concentration on wondering who is going to jump out from the crowd to assault them.

Go Canada Go!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Scum Scam Call

I got the weirdest call yesterday. Recently, I applied for a Mastercard from my bank and I still hadn't heard back from them. Then yesterday, I get a call from a fast talker offering me a Mastercard. At first, I was confused, thinking that it was my bank calling me, but in the stumbling, rambling diatribe that came out of the phone, I realized it wasn't my bank but MBNA.

This guy was trying to be smooth, but I was left with the mental image of this guy trying to juggle 4 open cans of paint while rollerblading on the road. You've seen the potholes in this city, you know that crazy windmilling will be involved and it's far from graceful.

Here's what the conversation was like:

Him: Hello Mr. Hoobbes. IamcallingfromMBNA and I have your pre-approved credit card ready for shipping. I just need some final details from you.

Me: Wha--? Who are you?

Him: How do you spell your name Mr. Hoobbes?

Me: Er-- H-O-B-B-E-S. Hobbes. But what--?

Him: Ah! Hobbes! My mistake Mr. Hobbes. We'll just fill out the rest of this application and you'll have your new Mastercard card in no time.

Me: Who are you? Where are you calling from?

Him: MBNA. How long have you been living at this address?

Me: Er-- Since December. Listen... Are you with the Bank? What's MBNA?

Him: MBNA are the people who have selected you to benefit from this great Mastercard! How much rent do you pay?

Me: Wait wait... I don't feel comfortable giving you all this information over the phone. Just send me the application form and I'll fill it out and send it back to you.

Him: No no Mr. Hoobbes. That's not how we do things now. We are very modern here. You give me the information over the phone and I'll fill out your application. It's much faster.

Me: But I don't feel comfortable giving my personal information over the phone like this. Can't you just send me the application form?

Him: Sir... We can't send you the application form, because we do this by phone now. I have my computer and a headset and we sit in a new Call Center. Very modern. We can't be retyping all your information into our database! That would take too long!

Me: (amused) Are you doing this for free?

Him: What?

Me: Are you getting paid for doing this job? If so, you can still make your money by retyping my appliation form into your computers, 'cause I'm not giving you my info over the phone.

Him: Ah well then sir, you won't be able to take advantage of this great one-time offer. Goodbye.

Me: Wait wait... First you say that you can't wait to send me this card, but because I'm cautious in this age of identity theft and phone scams, I no longer qualify?

Him: Uh--- Um--- How much rent do you pay?

Me: I've taken note of your phone number and now I'm calling the cops. If this is a scam, you'd better start looking for new work in robbing little old ladies.

Him: But Mr. Hooobes! This is a great honour to be selected for a Master--*CLICK*

It turns out, the call was probably legit. I called MBNA today and they said that they had a phone drive on yesterday to get new customers, but the customer rep I spoke to said that the guy should've offer to send me the application form or told me about the website.

I instantly get suspicious of any salesguy who speaks too quickly and gives me short answers before asking more questions.

It's a big scary world. Take care.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Dark Corridors and my BFG

Note: The Nav bar that appears at the top of the blog allows you to search for stuff in my blog. Yay!

I finally got a hold of D3 yesterday. We were supposed to go downtown for some illicit drinking, but we never got the call we were waiting for. The others went to watch a Woody Allen flick while I locked myself in a dark room and loaded D3 up.

The industry has come up with a graphics card that can handle D3 yet, but it's still very playable and creepy. One thing I love about it is that the corners are shrouded in shadow that is completely black until you shine your flashlight onto it. A couple of times, I looked into a shadowy hallway and was surprised to see two glowing eyes turn and look at me.

The great thing about Half-Life was there weren't always critters hidden in the shadows. You'd be walking down a corridor rather confidently and then... Yikes! Some critter with teeth in the nastiest places would jump out at you.

In D3, it gets a bit predictable because almost every shadow and corridor has some kind of deformed critter in it. Granted, they are creepy and grotesque critters, but they seem to be having some kind of discussion just before you show up. I am reminded of a recent posting in Penny Arcade (The Other Side strip).

Do you think that means I won't purchase my own copy of D3? Are you kidding me?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Look out Leonard Cohen... Westmount has arrived (again)

You don't really expect me NOT to have this in my CD collection? How could I possibly resist? Thanks Bill for letting me know that my train has arrived.

And thanks to Lightspeedchick, I can now fold a shirt (it took a few tries).

Today has been very edumacational. And I still have two appointments to meet which involve scraping my teeth and poking at my eyes.


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

City of Gold didn't Make the Money

On my travels yesterday, I picked up a VHS copy of The Road to El Dorado (read the overly Christian Review). This wasn't a huge hit for Dreamworks, but the story of the making of El Dorado is history-worthy in the world of animation.

I've searched for an article about this on the web, but I can't find anything about it. When this movie was being made, I was working at Toon Boom, so I was a bit more plugged in to what was going on in the animation world.

It seems in the making of this movie, Dreamworks had to go through three to six directors (I thought it was six, but the movie credits only list three (unless the other three took the Allan Smithee route)). When you watch this movie (which I think is alot of fun despite the obvious problems), you can almost spot it to the second on when the director will change. The behaviour patterns of Miguel and Tulio seem to morph from time to time, reflecting the changing of the directorial style. It's interesting to watch.

This movie is really not meant for children since it does contain some pretty bad stereotypes and a few pretty adult scenes. Rent it if you get a chance, but watch it after the kids go to bed.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

I, Robot

Yep, I went to see it last night. I'm not a Asimov fan, so I have no real understanding on how this movie is nothing like the book (but then again, I understand that movies are not books, and movie screens cannot compare to your own imagination)..

That being said, I thought it was a fun movie to watch. Ye Gods... It's Will Smith. That should be enough for you to know that the movie isn't going to be hugely thought-provoking. Although I think Smith is a great actor and I'd like to see him do something a bit more dramatic (like Robin Williams did in Awakening and Dead Poet's Society).

When the ads for I, Robot came out, I didn't realize it was Asimov-inspired (or suggested, as the credits say). My first thought was that it was an extension of the Matrix storyline (check out The Second Renaissance Part I at the Animatrix). I have the Animatrix on DVD and the more I watch it, the more it makes me think of I, Robot.

Anyways, if you haven't read Asimov and won't be distracted by how much this movie isn't Asimov, go see it. It's fun.

(PS: I need to make a point of blogging everyday. I realize it's been a week or so, but I'm trying to spend as little time in front of this PC as I can in the summer.)

Thursday, August 12, 2004

List Time and Telemarketing Scams

Nathalie over at I'd Like To Fly has the best telemarketing story I've ready in awhile. I usually know how to deal with telemarketers, but I've never had anyone call me up asking for my banking account number. If it ever happens, I'll be reading from this script.

And now for tee list. Feel free to copy and paste to your own blog:

Last Cigarette:: don't smoke
Last Alcoholic Drink:: Alexander Keiths (bottled)
Last Car Ride:: about 12 hours ago when Maggie offered to pick-up Ms. Carrote and bring her to a late-night game of Cranium with friends.
Last Kiss:: about 10 minutes ago
Last Good Cry:: I can't remember the last time
Last Library Book checked out:: That's way too long ago. The last book I perused at the MPRC was Jewish Folktales
Last movie Seen in Theatres:: Spider-man 2 (blah)
Last Book Read:: Mad Love by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm
Last Movie Rented:: Radioland Murders
Last Cuss Word Uttered:: Fuck, repeatedly
Last Beverage Drank:: Lady Grey tea with brown sugar
Last Food Consumed:: French toast with Maple Syrup and Velveeta
Last Crush:: Ms. Carrote
Last Phone Call:: To Ms. Carrote saying we were on our way over to get her and could she pack all the beer in the house into a box?
Last TV Show Watched:: a very fuzzy W5 (I need to get my cable reconnected)
Last Time Showered:: yesterday at 10 am
Last Shoes Worn:: sneakers
Last CD Played:: Oddly enough, it was my own self-published story CD, but before that, It was Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham by Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet.
Last Item Bought:: Haagen Daas Ice Cream: Vanilla, Caramel, Brownie
Last Download:: X-Men Evolution: Cajun Spice episode
Last Annoyance:: a group of friends who couldn't be quiet enough to let the baby sleep (not my baby)
Last Disappointment:: A client who has decided not to continue with the contract (dammit)
Last Soda Drank:: President's Choice Club Soda
Last Thing Written:: this blog entry
Last Sleep:: from 2am to 9am
Last Weird Encounter:: a man who spotted my pentacle asked me if I knew any gnostic groups still operating in Montreal
Last Ice Cream Eaten: Haagen Daas Ice Cream: Vanilla, Caramel, Brownie
Last Time Amused:: When we realized that The Rear Admiral was trying to rearrange the wrong word on the Cranium card to come up with Free Trade Agreement (he was fixated on the word HINT).
Last Time Hugged:: about 13 hours ago
Last Time Scolded:: about 10 hours ago
Last Time Resentful:: i plead the 5th
Last Chair Sat In:: my office chair
Last Underwear Worn:: the grey boxer shorts
Last Bra Worn:: this one does not apply (yet)
Last Shirt Worn:: my green Rayon shirt
Last Webpage Visited:: Before I'd Like to Fly, I was checking to see if there was a new episode of Breakup Girl. Sadly, there wasn't.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Let's Go Over This Again...

After talking to a few people over the last few days, I feel compelled to go over this again. Pens at the ready? Is the water warm enough? Then let's begin.
  1. When dating someone new, never diss the ex, even if he/she has the worst things to say about the ex, don't join in on it. Just listen and nod your head, but don't add your own two bits.

    Why? Because your new beau spent sometime with this person and felt something for them at one time, so if you start saying bad things about the ex, your beau will have a knee-jerk reaction and actually start defending the ex.

    It's illogical, but it's there, so don't go there.

  2. This is related to Point #1, but try not to talk about your ex to your new beau as much as possible. Good or bad, if you're talking about your ex, this tells your new beau that you haven't gotten over him/her yet and will send up warning flags.

    If you must talk about your ex (because after all, that person was a significant part of your life at one point), keep it short and focus on the event rather than your ex. And afterwards, shower your beau with compliments (don't go crazy) to show him/her that you're so happy to be in this new relationship.

  3. When your new beau asks you questions about you, answer truthfully and with some passion, but don't go on for too long. And somewhere in there, find something to ask your new beau about. These conversations should be a dialogue, not two sets of monologues.

    If you're not aware of this now, it can become an instinctive thing, but it's a good start to just be aware of how long you prattle on for (said the long-winded guy with the blog).

  4. The whole money thing can be confusing, especially since so many guys are taught that we're supposed to pay and then the girls get miffed because they perceive this as being a statement against the weaker sex.

    So on the first few dates, go dutch. Each of you pays his/her own way, or if you feel it's going well, buy each other stuff on an altering basis (I'll buy the movie if you pick up the popcorn). Be reasonable about it, but don't nickel-and-dime it to death. It's the gesture that counts.

    And anyways, it's a good habit to get into 'cause it helps you both feel like your contributing your part as the relationship grows.

  5. There is no point #5, but there's just something so damned sexy about having 5 points in a list.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Net Maturity

Some people cannot take criticism of any kind, especially when they know they screwed up.

But for some reason, it's worse when it's written down. I'm on a dozen or so elists on various topics and for various organizations and when it comes to using good judgement on when to use the Send button, most people screw up at least once.

The biggest list I've joined is TechWR-L (with 4000+ members) . I regularly sign on and off of it whenever I need something (it generates about 100 messages a day). And when I sign on, I usually get involved in some thread, say the wrong thing, and get booted off the list, all within the first month of my membership. When I acknowledge my error, the moderator lets me back on. It's that simple.

But my point is that we do screw up. We break Net Etiquette all the time: sometimes it's because we don't think fast enough before we click the Send button, sometimes our passions get the better of us. What's important is that we acknowledge the mistake and learn from it.

Too often, I'll see some elist member (usually someone who has contributed quite positively) make a mistake, get called on it by the moderator, and then leave the list in a huff. As if they are above such things and the perfect revenge is to deny the elist of their pearls of wisdom.

Dude... You're not leading hunger strike against an unjust government. It's an elist, fer Gods sake! Relax! There are more important things in life to get upset about.

Net Maturity is getting better, pixel by pixel over the last ten years or so. It's just amazing how long it takes common courtesy and sense to translate over to the electronic world.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Sarongs and Bare Feet

I just got back from a four-day pagan festival (KG) in Ontariariario and I needed a couple of days to recover from it. Quite honestly, I didn't want to come back to civilization; there's just something about being able to wear a sarong, walk around in your barefeet, and not be rushing here and there.

This was my second time at KG and already people were recognizing me from last year. It's nice to hear someone say "Oh yes... I remember you. You're Hobbes the storyteller!" I was camped out with the folks from WIPA and they took very good care of me, including a touching show of support when I performed in the Saturday night Bardic (a pagan talent show). They offered plates of chocolate and a bottle of chocolate/mint mead to the judges, hoping to sway their favour towards me. It didn't win me the Bardic, but it gave me a huge boost of confidence when I told my story.

I attended a few workshops and rituals, but I didn't want to be running anywhere. It was relaxing to just head off to see friends, go for a dip in the pond, or hang out at the campsite. I even got to play with some Legos with the KG kids (albeit with a bit of a hangover from the previous night of fire-dancing).

I don't know what it was like in your part of the world, but the Quebec/Ontario region was hit with a bone-chilling rain storm. Parts of the campsite were flooded in no time (including my tent, which forced me to sleep in the car) and it put a bit of a damper on the activities and the people, but we kept right on festing.

Some people were more depressed than others, but this is the price you pay for being closer to nature. You can't take the sun without the rain.

One of my favourite parts of the fest was a Norse Sauna ritual we did Saturday morning. Auz had a small, six-person sauna tent set up near the pond and led a Norse ritual, complete with some Norse mythology. The ritual was very enlightening (it cast a surprising light on a part of my life I need to work on) and the runs from the sauna to the pond and back again were surpisingly refreshing.

Of course, there were the nightly drumming circles around the bonfire and moonlit walks along the beach (we were blessed with a full/blue moon).

Update: I almost forgot to mention (thanks Erin!) that I finally got to do some storytelling for the KG kids. I was supposed to tell tales at a camp-out last year, but just like this year, the night of the camp-out was rained-out. Fortunately this year, the camp-out was rescheduled to Sunday night, so I was able to do it this year (although it meant we had to leave a bit later than expected, but it was still worth it).

I want to give a big shout-out to the folks from the Inner Light coven ('specially Moonlynx, Nathalie, Sandee, Patrick, Luc, and Willow) who filled my evenings with laughter, Belladonna juice, and good company. Loved festing with you folks!

But for now, back to the real world.... *sigh*

Monday, August 02, 2004

Unpacking and Great Reviews

I just got back from KG last night and have started to unpack slowly. I'll have more to say about it later, but all that rain we got on Friday/Saturday was even more unpleasant than you may have believed. My tent got so flooded, I was able to open it as a water park with slides and dolphin shows. Friday night, I slept in the car.

I just noticed that the Fringe guys have put up all the Buzz we received from the show, so here's what people were saying about us during the Fringe:

  • Great show. Great storytellers. Go see it. Kids too.
  • Bright-eyed and optimistic. Our two storytellers dish up a load of beans and blarney.
  • Great stories! Take your kids!
  • A wonderfully charming, funny and engaging show! Great for kids and adults! See it!
  • **** Wonderful, entrancing and well-told. Hilarious.
  • Great concepts. Fresh ideas.
  • A funny, whimsical storytelling show. The two tellers draw in their audience. Well worth seeing!
  • Great show. Go and see it. Great storytellers. Yea!
  • I really liked this show a lot. I recommend these Jack tales storytelling to everyone. I would like to see more storytelling shows & more Dylan & Dave telling. Bravo. Thanks.
  • Great show - funny - good for kids, too (school age). Go see it.
  • Very fun storytelling. Must see. Don't miss this shows. Jack Goes A-Wanderin' for older kids, too.
Nice to know. Now... time to do the laundry.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Truth in Advertising

When I was in Toronto about a month ago, I was taking the subway somewhere with Ms. Carotte when I noticed this little piece of advertising. We have this same style of advertising in the buses in Montreal: each ad is on a banner and slid into a slot that runs the length of the bus/subway car, so the ads appear one next to the other.

There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the order in which these ads are placed, but I can't believe this is a coincidence. Even the ad guy has a sense of humour.

Rest assured that Ms. Carotte and I will take this under advisement.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Poker face

The Boys have been teaching me how to play Poker and after a year of them taking my money, I'm starting to get better at it.

Of course, we play for money, but more along the lines of 10, 20, and 50 cents. Still... after a few hands, this small amounts can start to add up.

When I started to play, I'd always end up losing anywhere from 2 to 5 dollars by the end of the night. But now I'm starting to either break even or make a bit of profit. Progress!

The only thing I need to really work on is my poker face. Dimitrius can read me like a book and he can always tell what kind of hand I've got. From my end, I can't read anyone, which is deadly 'cause there's alot of bluffing in this game.

And I can't get The Gambler out of my head, except it's an odd rap version...

Yo! Ya gotta know when ta hold'em
Know when ta throw'em
Know when ta walk away like a motha
And know when ta pop d'em inna head

Don't tell me you haven't thought of that already. Kenny Rogers is just a fuzzy Eminem...

Monday, July 26, 2004


Printing a document on two sides of a sheet shouldn't take a Masters Degree in Logistics. If I was using one of those super-duper Laserjet printers, it'd be easy. But with this Inket printer, although it says it can print duplex, executing the job is a bit more complicated. And using MS-Word doesn't help.

No wonder the printer came free with the computer I bought (It's a Lexmark Z55). Sheesh. The HP Inkjet I used to have lasted me 5 years before it broke down. I've barely had this one 6 months.

Paperless society my foot. I still remember the days when we used to carve our CPUs out of wood...

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Water Park

This past weekend, I went to Ile St.Helene to catch some of the Dragon Boat races. I've never actually seen them and they looked wild. Unfortunately, I missed the race my friends were in, but what I did see inspired me enough that I want to try it next year.

I brought the kite along (it was in a purple bag on my back, in case you might have spotted me there), but the wind was just not strong enough to get it off the ground. Drat. We had such strong winds in the spring... I'm thinking I might have missed my opportunities there.

Near Jean-Drapeau metro (yellow line), there's a small water park where kids were getting drenched. I'm guessing that the jets in the water park are controlled by computer, but after spending over an hour there, I could not see a pattern.

I took some shots of the kids playing in the water (you can see them in my PhotoBlog), but after an hour or so of envious watching, I couldn't resist plunging my own head into one of the streams (although the streams kept shutting off before I could get to them a few times).

It relieved me of some of the heat and I felt like a kid again.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Expect the Unexpected

I went out last night to meet up with Erick the German to catch up and get some of the latest gossip. It had been a while since I went downtown for pints and music. I got to chat a bit with the band and talk a bit about my upcoming book/CD launch in September. I'm hoping that we'll be able to add some music to the storytelling. I'll keep you posted.

Because Hurley's and Brutopia are so close to each other, many people tend to visit both during the night. I wanted to pop into Brutopia and give my congrats to Jeff who had recently gotten married. I managed to find him and we were talking when I saw the band that was playing that night.

I love this town... Just when you think you've seen it all, somebody comes along and turns you upside down. Evil Dead: The Musical is one such example. This band was another.

Coincidentally, I had been talking with a couple of people about KISS and how they're just not the same without the make-up. As you might have guessed by now, the Brutopia band was a KISS cover band, complete with the suits and the make-up. But that's not what made them stand-out.

This KISS cover band consisted of four midgets in KISS costumes and make-up. There's something bizarre about listening to a cover of I Was Made For Loving You when it's being delivered by four midgets.

I need to start carrying a purse (aka a European Man Bag) with my digital camera. Montreal is always showing me something new and no one is going to believe me if I don't capture it "on film".