Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Ruddy Ruddy #8

Good news: just when I was wondering when Ruddy Ruddy would get more mail, along comes a package from the Medallion Milk Co. Ltd. of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I can't resist opening these things now. Inside: a 50-gram sample baggie of skim milk powder. (Should be fun to wave around customs officers.) Also, a sample of NotMilk non-dairy milk substitute. It's kind of ironic, since I ran out of milk this morning and just before getting home to find this mail, had stopped off at the store to buy a carton.

Also, judging by the mailing label, I'm apparently the owner of an e-mail address: ruddy_ruddy@hotmail.com. I've since forgotten the address, but apparently I must have set it up in order to get all this free stuff. That's a little more proactive than I'd assumed; I thought I must have just given the fake name to some telemarketer to get rid of them.

America's least-loved folk hero

I'm very proud to have made up America's least-loved folk hero today: Johnny Babyseed, a pioneer and frontiersman who sowed illegitimate children wherever he went during his travels across the American heartland.

Come to think of it, maybe he's America's most-loved folk hero.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Barriers to networking or Why editing is a solitary profession

In the name of professional development, I checked out the year's first meeting of the Editors' Association of Canada tonight. As the crowd is mostly freelancers, networking is very important, and to that end, career consultant Colleen Clarke was brought in. Midway through her seminar, we were asked to break into groups of four and discuss our potential barriers to networking. "To make it easy," Clarke said. "The person with the birthday closest to now will be the scribe. The person with the birthday furthest away will be the debriefer."

"Well, I'm April 8th," I told my group.

"April 13th."

"February 10th."

"July 22nd."

"Well, he's the debriefer," said February 10th, pointing at July 22nd.

"Wait. Shouldn't he be the scribe?" I asked "His birthday was only two months ago. It's the closest."

"No, it's ten months away. It's the furthest."

"Well, are we only moving forward in the calendar, or is six months from now in either direction considered furthest away?" I asked.

Good question. The debate consumed my group, burning up vital minutes of discussion time with ridiculous arguing over whose birthday was closest and whose was furthest. Come on, I thought, not noticing that July 22nd's nametag read "Sheila" until later. We're all grown men here. Surely we can solve this.

"Colleen!" shouted April 13th. "Did you mean furthest away moving forward in time, or closest six months either way?"

"What are you, twelve?" Clarke responded incredulously. "I'm going to pretend you didn't even ask that," she said, shaking her head as she walked away.

Eventually, I somehow got named the debriefer. Seconds later, Clarke signaled for our attention, ending the exercise. The scribe in each group rose to present their results, obviating the need for a debriefer altogether.

Fortunately, our group was able to escape notice. A good thing too. If I'd had to present our results in my capacity as debriefer -- assuming the debriefers had any function whatsoever -- I'd probably have had to say, "To be honest, our main barrier to networking is that we bickered over whose birthday was when so much that we never even got around to telling each other our names."

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger for Student Body President

In a roundabout way, the Austrian Oak threatened to give opposing candidate Arianna Huffington a swirlie during the televised gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night. He may or may not be a misogynist (a viewing of True Lies might answer that question), but he sure knows how to deal with a nerd.


Have you seen this guy Cojo? What the hell is with him? He's like a flamingly gay Steven Tyler (and Steven Tyler is one of the more flaming heterosexuals out there). There's nothing wrong with being gay, but there's certainly something wrong with being this guy.

In other news, I opened the Ruddy Ruddy package of free books: dirty, smutty Harlequin Blaze novels! I gave them to the girl at work who got the Pepcid Complete, who demanded them. There seems to be a connection between heartburn and Harlequin Blaze, but I don't know what it is.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Three cheers for the Feenstras!

I was pretty impressed when I read a while ago about how scientists had developed a form of electronic paper that could dynamically display text. After all, combining that technology with the ability we now have to store incredible amounts of data at ridiculously small levels on smaller and smaller hardware could lead to storing everything ever written in one convenient, easy to carry book. Well anyway, I was even more impressed when I read this article about how that very same electronic paper could now store high quality video. The best part about it all is that one of the two scientists who developed this new prototype is a Feenstra! This is great news for two reasons.

1) It's nice to see that my fellow Feenstras are doing some pretty damned impressive things.
2) Now when you do a Google search for "Feenstra" and "video" you'll get more than just those porn flicks I filmed back in high school.

Three cheers for the Feenstras!

The most multicultural city on Earth

Guy on the street asking me for the time: Goop gai?

If he hadn't been pointing at his wrist, I wouldn't have had any idea what he was asking. I think he was actually speaking English too, just amazingly accented/slurred. Sometimes living in the most multicultural city on earth is kind of annoying.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

There lies a lonely grave for the Maytag man

When it comes to sitcom icons of the '70s, there's one area where John Ritter had it all over Gordon Jump: timing. Not comedic timing, for they each provided countless hours of quality televised hilarity. But Ritter answered the final curtain call at the exact right moment, while Jump just missed it.

You could argue the death of John Ritter was untimely. He was, after all, only 54 and he was still in the prime of his career, the star of a hit series. But he also had the fantastic luck to die just before the Emmys, just in time to have a special tribute to him produced and presented. Bob Hope was the only other celebrity to receive this kind of honor, and he was a certifiable TV legend. But what of Buddy Ebsen? Or Robert Stack? David Brinkley? Each was a giant of the small screen, and each also died recently, though long ago enough to have slipped from the headlines and immediate memory, and long enough ago to not warrant a special individual tribute.

Poor Gordon Jump will have been almost forgotten entirely by the time the Emmys roll around again, since he had the misfortune to pass on a scant two days after this year's ceremonies. Yet, his Mr. Carlson is almost as memorable an icon of 1970s television as was Ritter's Jack Tripper. He was a reliable small-screen presence, appearing in both the original and the revival of WKRP in Cincinnati, Growing Pains, Sister Kate, Soap, Starsky and Hutch, and countless Maytag commercials as the venerable Maytag Man, a role from which he just retired at the end of July. (Gordon Jump had nothing to do with 21 Jump Street, however.)

Yet his most indelible moment surely came when he portrayed the bicycle repairman who tried to molest Arnold and Dudley on a very special episode of Diff'rent Strokes. It's frankly amazing that they ever let him be the Maytag Man after his portrayal of the loathsome Bicycle Man, and the bad name he gave the repair industry in general. That's surely worth some kind of award testifying to his skill as an actor. He won't get one, but I'll be satisfied if the deluded and embittered Gary Coleman gives a speech from the gubernatorial campaign trail out in California in which he openly applauds the death of the monster who drugged and groped his friend Dudley. That'd be close enough.

Monday, September 22, 2003

NHL 2004

I've been waiting for NHL 2004 to come out for months now. The reviews have been great. Everything looks fantastic. It's supposes to be the best hockey sim ever. And I've been going to the homepage at EA Sports for a while now, patiently watching the countdown timer tick off the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until the shipping date. Today was the long-awaited day. Zero hour.

So I called up Compucentre today to confirm that it had arrived. "Oh yeah," they said. "We've had it since Friday." What the hell? How did they have it before the shipping date? I could have been playing it all weekend? I could have been taking out my pent-up aggressions of an entire work week using Tie Domi as my violence-dispensing avatar?

No matter. I played Vice City all weekend, so plenty of violence was mine for the spreading around. And I now hold NHL 2004 in my hot little hand as I clear out the hard drive space necessary to install it. (Goodbye, Microsoft Word! Goodbye, Norton Antivirus!) I'm going to have such a rock'em, sock'em good time that I may have to call in sick tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Hot, hot robot sex

I just want to say two words to you ... just two words.

Are you listening?

"Sex robots."

Sex robots are to the new millennium what plastics were to the 1960s world of The Graduate: a nascent industry with an unlimited upside for profit for the investors foresighted enough to jump onboard. (The real situation may actually be more complex when it comes to plastics; rumor has it that the famous advice in The Graduate actually helped jumpstart the industry. If I should do the same for sex robots by mentioning them here, so be it.) If you've got a few extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket, invest in technology that may lead to the development of sex robots. Trust me. Before long, you'll have enough money to burn holes in all your pockets, assuming clothing still exists in those golden future days of carnal bliss.

It's well-established that as soon as any new technology exists, people immediately try to find a way to (literally) pervert it toward new and better ways of getting off. The invention of photography was soon followed by dirty snapshots. The invention of film was soon followed by dirty movies. The invention of the telephone was soon followed by dirty phone calls. (We don't really have any explicit records of this, but then again, Alexander Graham Bell's first telephoned words to his assistant were "Watson, come here! I want you!" and they were prompted by him spilling something all over his pants.) We even have dirty cave drawings, proving that even early man (and chances are it was a man) immediately adapted his new technological breakthroughs for sexual purposes.

And in fact, sex often even drives research and development of new technology. Want a DVD that makes truly innovative use of the medium? Look no further than the latest porn disc, which will allow you to virtually direct the film, choosing your own camera angles.

Yet, right now, we have the technology for an invention which could put DVD porn to shame: the sex robot. We just need to synthesize the various technologies. Aside from the work going on now in artificial intelligence, nearly sixty major android projects are underway around the world. Some of these robots can walk, talk, and respond to human gestures and postures.

And while these highly advanced robots currently look about as humanlike as C-3P0, this doesn't have to be the case. Stunningly realistic sex dolls have been invented, ones that are distinguishable from humans only by their perfection, their glassy eyes, and their inability to assume more than one expression (which makes them about as realistic as any given cast member of Baywatch). Yet technology has solved this problem too; highly expressive robot heads are already here.

It's going to be a while, but it's just a matter of time before all the pieces are put together and we have domestic androids that are straight out of Isaac Asimov's I Robot -- mechanical chamberlains governed by the Three Laws of Robotics and capable of fulfilling all the necessary tasks of a household, from cooking, to cleaning, to childcare. But given the trend we've already observed, they'll serve as consorts too, fully functional and programmed in multiple techniques.

Practically every household is going to want one of these. They might not quite make romantic partners obsolete, but they'll be the next best thing for those who don't have one -- or can't get one. They won't be limited to the sad and lonely, though. For instance, they'll also offer variety for couples, or a safe, monogamy-approved outlet for your mom or dad's secret impulses. (They're certain to be available in male, female, or hermaphroditic models.) No messy affairs, no secret families, no nasty STDs brought home -- you'd be crazy not to own one, and you'd be a good deal hornier too.

If a company comes along with a decent plan to combine the best available technology and start marketing realistic sex robots, screw plastic -- put your money into screwing plastic instead. Thirty years from now, not only will you be filthy rich, but you'll be coming home to a gorgeous android who greets you by name, gives you your phone messages, announces the dinner menu, and queries, "Would you like me to seduce you?"

Friday, September 19, 2003

The most annoying catchphrase in sports broadcasting

I've noticed this happening more and more, and it's increasingly irritating: Sports announcers who always yell "Are you kidding me?!" every time an athlete performs some superlative (but inevitably not actually unbelievable) feat of athleticism. These guys would sound like the most incredulous broadcasters in the history of television if it didn't sound so much like a rote, mediocre catchphrase.

Just once, I'd like to see an outfielder -- say, Barry Bonds -- look straight into the camera after his stupendous diving catch has been been lauded with this tired, idiotic blurting and icily answer, "No, I'm playing baseball. Why would I waste my time deliberately trying to deceive a pissant like you?"

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


I just noticed another piece of Ruddy Ruddy mail on the table -- a thick RealSimple magazine! If you have any idea how I can tape this onto a wall, I'd like to hear it.

Have I always been a bad person?

I received Ruddy Ruddy mail #5 today -- an Imodium sample, appropriately enough, since I spent a good part of today wondering what beatniks called diarrhea (my best guess: "dropping a loose deuce"). Along with my fraudulent Ruddy Ruddy mail, I got my voter registration for the upcoming Ontario election. I think we know what must be done next.

Today I was asked -- probably after saying something offensive that slips my mind right now -- "Have you always been a bad person?"

"No," I said. Then after thinking about it for a while, "Only since Thanksgiving, 1995."

When I was a kid, there was a big kid in my neighborhood named Derek Schinkel. I didn't know him all too well; I only really ran into him when everybody went sledding on Laurier Hill on our GT Snowracers. He seemed like a bit of a dick -- kind of like one of the Beagle Boys from the Scrooge McDuck comics, actually -- but I didn't really have much contact with him.

Years later, I heard that he had been walking on the Stewart Blvd. overpass over the 401, having a horrible drunken fight with his girlfriend. According to the story, he decided to prove his love for her by the foolhardy stunt of climbing up on the railing along the side of the overpass and walking along it as if it were a balance beam. Partway through, Derek Schinkel fell, plummeting twenty or thirty feet and slamming into the rock cut along the side of the highway. His girlfriend rushed down to the rock cut and held his bloody body in her arms as he died. (Rumor has it that she was seen lugging a heavy bag at his funeral, and wouldn't allow anyone to see what was in it. Finally, someone got a peek while she was otherwise occupied. It was full of blood-covered rocks.)

A couple of years later, on the Thanksgiving weekend, 1995, I was headed home from school to Brockville for the holidays. In a huge coincidence, I ran right into my old friend Barry (who was en route from Montreal to Whitby) at the Kingston bus terminal, and much hearty back-slapping ensued. "So where does the bus stop in Brockville, anyway? Barry asked.

"At Stewart and the 401," I told him. "You know ... the Derek Schinkel Memorial Drop-off Point."

It was then that I knew I was a bad person. But on the bright side, if I'm going to be a supervillain, at least I have an origin story. Look for the comic-book adaptation in the upcoming Two-Fisted Tales of Peter Lynn #1.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Ruddy Ruddy Redux

I opened the Pepcid Complete Ruddy Ruddy mail. But there was a good reason.

As soon as I got to work this morning, I taped the envelope up on the Wall of Ruddy Ruddy. Amazingly, one of my co-workers stopped by a short time after, noticed the new piece of mail immediately, and seemed quite pleased about. Shortly thereafter, I called another co-worker to tell her all about it, since I know she digs the whole Ruddy Ruddy thing. (Sometimes she even calls me Ruddy Ruddy.)

Later, she e-mailed me asking whether I had anything minty.

"As a matter of fact, I just went and bought some gum," I responded. "Minty gum."

She didn't think that would be strong enough, though, since she was trying to kill a Indian-food-induced case of heartburn. Why would mint cure it? I don't know, and it didn't matter.

"Well," I said, "I do have the Pepsid Complete Ruddy Ruddy mail...."

And so, I took the envelope off the wall, slit it open with an X-acto knife, took out the antacid tablet (which even turned out to be mint-flavored!), resealed the box inside the envelope with tape, then put it back on the Wall of Ruddy Ruddy. So I broke my vow to waste the free sample, but with mitigating factors. First, it was a medical emergency. Second, the co-worker is very nice, and good-looking to boot (had it been anyone else, I'd have just sent them to the breakroom fridge to find some baking soda and a plastic spoon). And third, I resealed a whole bunch of free coupons inside the envelope and I am wasting them.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Ruddy Ruddy #4

The fourth piece of Ruddy Ruddy mail is in. Based on the outline of a small box inside the envelope, and the markings outside, it clearly contains a sample of Pepcid Complete. Should I open it?

No. Besides the previously-established point that I'm making of not opening any Ruddy Ruddy mail -- instead preserving it for display on the Wall of Ruddy Ruddy -- the whole point of a free sample is to get potential consumers to try the product, with no strings attached. Therefore, it is more fraudulent -- and therefore more fun -- to waste the company's resources by not opening it.

Haw! Haw!

Haw! haw!

Improbable quotes

Told to my co-worker over the weekend when he was at a baby shower in which he was the only white man amid a gaggle of black women:

"Oh, you look like Magneto! He's so fine!"

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Cryptic Path

Follow me.

Friday, September 12, 2003

More dead

Who would have thought that the Pope would ever outlive John Ritter? (I initially wrote "Who would have thought that the Pope would ever outlaw John Ritter?" which seems marginally more probable.) The Three's Company star died late last night, presumably of injuries incurred from tripping over a couch. I've been meaning to write an article for a while about Cockney rhyming slang that didn't make it into popular usage, in which a "John Ritter" was to have been the slang for "apple fritter." So, in memory of the man, treat yourself to an apple fritter today.

Asked for comment, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace stated, "I'm thinking, why-ee-ii-ee-ii / is Hooperman dead?"

Also, the Man in Black has finally met the other man in black. (Implausibly, Cash outlived Ritter.) That's probably a good thing, what with him being really sick and with his wife dying just a short time ago. Two Highwaymen down, two to go. I'll let Johnny and friends play you out:

I fly a starship across the universe divide
and when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
or I may simply be a single drop of rain

But I will remain
and I'll be back again ... and again ... and again ...

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Awkward Tiein

Check me out weakly linking three of Peter's most recent topics to a mostly uninteresting story about my day. Today (September 11, exactly like September 11) some digital cable channel was showing the terrorist-y movie Toy Soldiers (cheesy film from the eighties, like Three O'Clock High) in which I got to see Samwise Gamgee's ass (privates viewing, kind of like CO-WORKER being able to see Peter's peter).

And Peter's peter starred in "A Time to Peepee" with none other than... Kevin Bacon.

What we're not talking about

I don't know about you, but I found that almost nobody felt inclined to mention what happened two years ago today. There was one guy at work who said he was going out tonight to celebrate, but it turns out that today's actually his birthday. This guy happened to start working with me on my birthday, so I told him we're tied as far as having our birthdays ruined by catastrophic events.

I'm sure you remember where you were two years ago today. Here's where everybody else was, minute by minute. What was George W. Bush's decisive first move after the attacks? Picking up and reading a children's book named The Pet Goat.

Workplace chit-chat

This was kind of an uncomfortable encounter. I suppose it's my fault for taking things too literally, but on the other hand, there's a time and a place for phatic communication, and that place isn't the bathroom, and that time isn't when I'm trying to do my business. I was probably trying to prove a point, I suppose. I bet it worked too -- this guy will probably think twice before talking to me again.

INT. An office bathroom. A CO-WORKER is leaving one of the stalls. PETER walks in and heads for a urinal.

CO-WORKER: What's going on, Peter?

PETER (urinating): Oh ... you know ... urinating.

CO-WORKER: ... I ... can see that.

PETER: You'd better not be able to see this.

CO-WORKER: ... (exeunt)

PETER: (rolls eyes back in head; clasps hands behind neck): Ahhhh.

Actually, I just saw something worse. Three O'Clock High is on TV and when Casey Siemaszko's character meets the bully, Buddy Revell, they're standing side-by-side at adjacent urinals. Not only does Siemaszko pick that moment to introduce himself, but he actually tries to shake hands with him. While urinating. They can try to paint Buddy Revell as a violent psychotic for wanting to beat Siemaszko up, but in fact, it's a perfectly reasonable response.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Garbage or dog food?

From an article on obesity in the National Post:

Children or teens would have to submit to psychological testing to rule out other factors, such as drug abuse, an underlying psychosis or a medical condition such as Prader-Willi syndrome, a baffling genetic disorder that causes such extreme hunger and over-eating, children have been known to eat garbage and even dog food.

That's kind of curious language. Am I to take this to mean that dog food is worse than garbage? If so, this gives added punch to the phrase "not fit for a dog." And if dog food is so horrible, why would we subject our pets to it? Even if you don't care about being humane, you have to admit it would at least be cheaper to feed your dogs garbage instead.

The Great Antonio

Our Montreal correspondent, Mike, passes along a link to another story about the late Great Antonio. If you can't get around to reading it, here are the best parts:

Antonio's landlady once told Gazette columnist Josh Freed that Antonio was "a nice boy. But so big. Every time he sits on toilet, bang - toilet breaks. My son fixes and fixes, but always the same. Boom. Toilet breaks again."

He once said he trained by running head-on into trees from a distance of 60 metres.

By this spring, when a Gazette reporter last spoke to him, he was convinced he was descended from extraterrestrials. "I went to donate blood, and they refused because my blood was too strong. I have extraterrestrial blood!"

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

September Gurls

A short message today because my mortal enemies Mississauga Transit screwed me today. Why must their buses come at completely random times? Why do they lie? Because they're jerks.

Anyway, I'm always happy when I go into a store and they're playing a song I like. I invariably wet my pants with glee when the song is one that I never dreamed I'd hear outside my bedroom, as was the case today when I walked into the Gap only to hear "September Gurls." Sure, it was merely The Bangles' version, but that was actually a good thing, for three reasons. First, The Bangles actually did a good version. Second, I'd already listened to at least four or five different versions by Big Star today at work. Last, I actually did hear the original Big Star version on the radio once when I was in a store, and I almost died of shock, so I don't want to run that risk again.

Of course, if there's one month to hear that song in public, it's this one, since radio programmers (and whoever picks the music for the Gap) can't resist the urge to get cute (and neither can I; that's why I was listening to Big Star in the first place today). But if we're going to air songs according to calendrical appropriateness, I'd like to suggest the following:

· "January Rain" by Hunters & Collectors
· "February" by Jesus Jones
· "Marching On" by The Alarm
· "April 8th" by Neutral Milk Hotel
· "Mayfly" by Belle & Sebastian
· "Junebug" by Sparklehorse
· "4th of July" by Soundgarden
· "August" by Love
· "September Gurls" by Big Star
· "October" by U2
· "November Spawned a Monster" by Morrissey
· "December" by Teenage Fanclub

(You might think "April 8th" is only good for one day, and not a full month, but you're wrong. It's my birthday, so I tend to really milk it.)

Monday, September 08, 2003

The world turns upside down and inside out.

I never thought I'd side with a member of 98° over a beautiful, voluptuous blonde, but Jessica Simpson is a clueless, spoiled princess and Nick Lachey is too good for her. Wow. That felt weird.

In other news, Wham-O is suing the makers of Dickie Roberts over that scene with the Slip 'N Slide (which you can see in the commercial), thus winning the Fox News Award for Lawsuits Wholly Without Merit.

And apropos of nothing, here's a cool video of a sonic boom. Downright soothing, compared to the above.


Well, Warren Zevon is finally dead, the Werewolf of London cut down by the silver bullet of cancer at age 56. I'm sure many an elegy will be sung for the singer/songwriter -- tune into tonight's Letterman, and you're bound to hear quite a bit on the subject from his close friend Dave -- but let me just say that the man faced his doom with guts, dignity, humor, and determination to leave us with one more great album. It was, quite simply, a quietly heroic death.

What you might not hear about, however, is the passing of another hero, The Great Antonio, who fell victim to a heart attack while sitting on a bench in a supermarket in Rosemont. As my friend Mike (who undertook a quest to seek him out a couple of years ago) tells me, The Great Antonio was, in his day, an international celebrity and a legendary strongman known for such feats of might as pulling multiple buses full of passengers. But by recent times, he had been reduced to little more than a derelict, stooped double by age and hardship, roaming the streets of Montreal spinning tales of his former glory, selling autographed photos of himself, and playing golf with his long, braided beard.

Courtesy of Babelfish, I present you with the following imperfect translation (probably not imperfect enough to circumvent the copyright laws that I'm clearly flouting) of Anne Richer's tribute to The Great Antonio, originally published in La Presse on June 10, 1996:

With the ridge of its glory, it drew four buses stuffed from passengers, makes move African elephants, raised in its arms Johnny Carson in front of million televiewers, and drawn the attention of the American wide-area networks of information: it played in the war of fire, killed some bears, does the one of largest daily newspapers of Japan. Antonio Barichievich, alias the Large Antonio, has nearly 72 years now. It still impress. Born with a force herculéenne which comes to him from a planet remote, it ensures, it does not have an adversary: one declared fixed price before even it to fight "Louis Cyr? Coquerelle beside me ", thunders it.

His/her father is a logger. The destiny of the small (!) Antonio is already, at six years, the peak and the shovel, work hard, stone bags on its back. In brutality and the insulation of its childhood, the voices of Caruso and Frank Sinatra reach him by miracle. It wants to sing too. An old woman, a little witch, reveal sound to him extraterrestrial origin and teaches a little the music to him. Its physical force exceptional carries out it, of the field and the forest, with the loadings of ships and until in the English army, in particular, where during three years, it carries out the hard ones work and learns English. It arrives at Canada at 19 years.

One often sees it surveying Plaza St-Hubert, the street Beaubien, the downtown area, of a step slow, heavy, the crowned head of an inextricable tangle of hair of an impressive length: "washed with a special ancestral liquid" Of feet in shoes of size 28 supporting 500 pounds of man, are enough with he to open the way. Vêtu with the daily newspaper of a full jacket, a fuller Jean still, solidified and faded in a chronic dirtiness. It has the pockets faggots of papers, postcards with its effigy which it offers to those which recognize it and want well, a moment to hear its history for some under. Its account is truffé obsessions, inconsistencies, of showing off, but also of truths.

Where did it see this yéti stray? In a part of an ordinary building of the street Beaubien, which it pays 300$ per month. Its office? Dunkin Donuts of opposite where it holds audience and takes root on stone a solid bench like a king on sound throne.

That about says it all, but I'll let Mike give the final lament for The Great Antonio here:

"He was a forgotten legend of Canada's athletic history, truly a heartbreaking example of what happens to celebrities in the long run. God rest his mighty soul."

Dandys rule, OK?

I just got back from the first night of a two-night engagement that the Dandy Warhols are playing at the Opera House here in Toronto. I paid a scalper $80 for a $17.50 ticket, and it was actually worth it. The Dandys played for the better part of three hours, and seemingly played their entire catalogue, even reaching back to play a song they hadn't performed in eight years. I was right up front, too. The only thing that would have made it more of a complete Dandy Warhols experience would have been if the keyboard player had indulged her habit of getting her breasts out onstage for everyone to see. I may well go back again tomorrow, if I'm not too exhausted from tonight's show and the five hours of sleep I'm going to get, not to mention the knock-down, drag-out apartment wrestling match I had with my housemate Shanel on Friday night, in which we nearly knocked over the oven. (A couple of those links aren't safe for work. See if you can guess which!)

The concert tonight did leave one unanswered question. While taking a break, singer Courtney Taylor-Taylor drank a nice, cool Coke and sang its praises. Then he pointed out that the Coca-Cola company charges more for its Dasani bottled water (which is really just tap water) than it does for regular Coke (tap water plus sugar and syrup). What's with that? How can this be? The crowd was largely silent as it chewed over this (admittedly good) point. "Apparently only about six of you find that ironic," Taylor-Taylor said after a pause.

So here's my question: How is the audience supposed to react to such a statement? When the audience is happy, the traditional response would be to cheer. When unhappy, booing is appropriate. To show respect, applause or a respectful silence is the norm, depending on the situation. But how is the audience supposed to express the perception of irony? Do we applaud the speaker's insight? Boo the hypocrisy that he's pointing out? Murmur in discontentment? Yell out, "Testify!"?

I'd like to find out the proper protocol here. If I do go back tomorrow night and Taylor-Taylor hits me with another of those things that make you go "hmmm", I'd like to give him the appropriate response.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Back to school ... now die!

CITY-TV seems to be having something of a back-to-school film festival of teacher/vigilante exploitation flicks. A couple of days ago, they showed The Substitute. Tonight, it's 187. I'm guessing that Class of 1984 can't be far behind. That one's got a gory fight in a shop class in which one of the young punks gets his arm chopped off with a rotary table saw then bounces right back up to keep fighting before being slammed down right on his back on the spinning blade. That terrified me so much when I first saw it twenty years ago that it still gives me the heebie-jeebies today.

This might actually be a smart, community-minded move by the program director. After being thoroughly inundated with a whole bunch of these movies where all the young punks get their bloody comeuppance, students going back to school this fall might think twice before sassing their teachers. I know there's no way I'd throw paper airplanes at the front of the classroom if I thought there was even a slight chance that a scowling, grim-faced Tom Berenger might burst through the door and start hurling ninja stars and knives back at me.

Friday, September 05, 2003

The case for my being a bad guy

I just realized while reading an (offline) back-to-school article on ties that ever since I first started wearing neckties, I've been using a Windsor knot. I've been wearing it for years, but never knew what kind it was, since I learned it from an older friend who never told me what kind of knot it was, and I've always found most articles on tying ties to be confusing. (They should be printed upside down. They'd make sense that way.) Apparently, I'm odd, since most men use the four-in-hand knot. So it turns out I'm weird. Worse yet, James Bond always said that a Windsor knot was "the mark of a cad."

So, I guess old Gus was right: I am a bad guy.

And now, a story entitled "Peter's really drunk (but at least he's not lying to Bob Geldof)"

Two weeks ago, around the time of the Magic Bus incident, my good friend Mike came for a visit, catching a ride to Toronto with his friend Rob. Mike is my oldest friend in the world; I've known him since before kindergarten. Mike has long espoused a philosophy known as the Five Glories, in which the five greatest endeavors in which one can engage oneself are eating, sleeping, fighting, romancing, and taking a really great dump. Overjoyed to have him visit, I was determined to be the greatest host ever, and to start him off with the means to fulfill at least one of the Five.

"I'm gonna eat everything in your house!" Mike bellowed as he entered, with Rob in tow.

"Start with these!" I replied, hurling a bag of potato chips at him.

"Wow!" he said, gratefully (and impressed with my preparedness), and we went out to sit on my lawn.

"Hold on," I said. "I'll get you guys some juice." I went back in, filled two glasses, and walked back out with one in each hand, the very picture of a happy host.

Mike and Rob were sitting in lawn chairs and talking to my landlord, Gus, an old Greek guy who's been coming over a lot recently to check on the tomato plants he's been growing in our yard. "He thinks you're drunk," Rob said.

"Hi, Gus," I said. "Want a drink?"

"Oh, no ... no. That's okay, Peter." said Gus, with a strange expression on his face. He eventually did accept some chips, and then left. Mike, Rob, and I proceeded to have some fun times, including the perplexing Magic Bus incident. Then, Rob eventually split to hook up with some other buddies to hit the clubs. And then, in hushed tones, Mike began to spin a tale....

"When you were in the house and your landlord came by," Mike said, "Rob got up right away to introduce himself. You know, because there were two strange guys sitting in the yard. He told your landlord you were in the house. Then he told him, 'Peter's really drunk.' "

According to Mike, Rob managed, in a very short time, to paint a vivid picture of me as being so obnoxiously, incapacitatingly, falling-down drunk that the two of them finally had gotten so disgusted that they had had to just go outside and get away from me for a while.

Hearing this, my landlord just shook his head in disappointment. "Peter's a bad guy," he said sadly. "... Peter's a bad guy."

It was then that I had walked outside and greeted them. And you know, with a glass of swirling, colored liquid in each hand and a big smile on my face, I probably did look just like a happy, doublefisting drunk at that very moment.

What's a reader to do?

So here I am, just sitting here waiting anxiously to find out the important questions. Why is Peter so drunk? What drove him to it? Will lots of great stories appear here as a result of his intoxication? Or will I just be treated to a string of obscenities and nonsense that he'll probably just edit or delete the next time he's sober? And most importantly, without updates from Peter's life what am I supposed to do with myself on a Friday night?

Next: Peter's really drunk.

Sting "sexes up" sex tales

Former Policeman Sting has finally confessed: He got drunk and made up all that stuff about being able to have Tantric sex for eight hours at a time in order to impress Bob Geldof.

That's fair. I think we all want Bob Geldof to think highly of us.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

My absolute favorite stranger in the world

In a used record store called Neurotica on Queen Street West works the consummate used record store guy. Last time I saw him, he was wearing a T-shirt that read "Nobody knows I'm a lesbian", which seems like consummate hipster apparel. There's always going to be something bizarre playing, because this guy is like the musical equivalent of a porn freak who's delved so far into the realm of perversion that he can't get turned on by straight porn anymore, but has to resort to some odd combination of midgets, livestock, and cigarette smoking fetishism to get off; indie rock won't do it for this guy anymore -- he has to listen to obscure German marching band music from the 1920s in order to get any sort of pleasure out of the listening experience.

I don't even know this guy's name -- though based on this article and an anecdote he told me last time I was there, I think I've just figured it out -- but every time I'm there, I end up talking to him quite a while. Why? Because he knows music like no one I've ever met before in my life. When I walk into the average HMV, I'm often a little distressed to find out I know more than the clerks do ("Sigur what?"). You can give them spiky hair, a pierced lower lip, and a cooler-than-thou attitude, but it seems you can't teach them that punk goes back further than Green Day. But this guy -- he's the Alan Cross of record store guys. If I went up against him in Rock & Roll Jeopardy, he'd murder me worse than the time Mark McGrath made Dave Mustaine look like an utter retard. (Actually, Dave Mustaine makes Dave Mustaine look like an utter retard; when he was once asked to explain the name of his band, Megadeth, he responded -- and I quote -- "It's like death, but, like, really mega!") Bottom line -- when this guy talks, I listen.

Last time I was there, we got talking about, his particular passion, 1960s jazz. "You know what '60s jazz I like," I said. The music from Spiderman. I found a bunch of it online and then found out that these guys from Winnipeg actually did a cool album of some of the music, and I only discovered that they even existed the very day they played NXNE, so I luckily managed to catch them. It's all based on the original music by ... what's-his-name...."

"Ray Ellis," said Record Store Guy.

"Holy shit!" I said. "That's the guy!" I was mightily impressed. We talked for a bit about the complex arrangements and avant-garde nature of a lot of the music used in cartoon scores. "That reminds me," I said. "I was just reading something about that that guy who did the music that you always hear in factory scenes in cartoons...."

"Ah. 'Powerhouse' by Raymond Scott," Record Store Guy said.

This is why Record Store Guy has to be my absolute favorite stranger in the world.

Twitching with joy

Yes! Twitch City is back on TV, and in a fantastic bit of luck, I discovered this just as the pilot episode was beginning. It's easily the best non-Degrassi show the CBC has ever aired, although Snake does make an appearance in this episode. So does the King of Kensington, who gets beaten to death with a bag of cat food cans by one of the main characters (Daniel MacIvor), setting the whole premise of the show in motion: Said character goes to jail, leaving his recently-evicted girlfriend (the super-cute Molly Parker) to eventually hook up with his shut-in housemate (Don McKellar, who you may know from his other projects with the show's producer/director, Bruce McDonald). Former Kids in the Hall Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney also make appearances as a talk-show host (McCulloch plays the character in the first few episodes, and McKinney takes over later) in a show-inside-the-show, which might give you an idea of the offbeat tone of the short-lived but hilarious series. Tune in to Showcase at 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, right before Trailer Park Boys.

Speaking of Trailer Park Boys, there's a little old guy who works at the Mr. Sub (dig their flashy website!) near my office who wears glasses as thick as those worn by Bubbles from that show. It's actually kind of disconcerting because the way the light refracts through the bottle-thick lenses, I can never tell when he's looking at me, and the way he squints to keep the glasses on his face makes him look just a little irritated, so I always feel like he's annoyed with me for not responding immediately when spoken to. I'm also not crazy about the way he tries to make two subs at once. It doesn't go any faster, but it does confuse the situation so I get the wrong stuff on my sub. Mark my words: That guy and I are gonna tangle. We're talking violence fight.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I should have kept my mouth shut

There I go shooting my mouth off about how Mississauga Transit tried to screw me by changing my bus route, only to inadvertently make my commute faster. ("Fuck you Jack! I'm bulletproof!" I might have said. I don't remember.) Well, I should have kept my mouth shut. One of the other things that improved with my new route was that my transfer point between buses had a bus shelter, which I didn't have at my original stop, where I got seriously drenched more than once. "Dig this!" I crowed. "Shelter from the elements! Awesome! I look forward to using this many times in the future!"

So today, when I arrived, the shelter was gone! Sometime during the previous 24 hours, Mississauga Transit just up and took it away, all the while probably shouting, "Screw you, Lynn! You think you've gotten the best of us? We'll get you yet!"

On the bright side, it might be possible that I've got readers in the transit community. (And why not? I'm continually harping on about the subject.) Hi guys! You drive like assholes!

In which I discover a wormhole through time, space, and the GTA transit system

I'm pleased to say that my new commute -- involving the same destination, but an extra bus transfer -- actually takes 15 minutes off my trip on the way home. I'm at a loss to explain how this could be so, since my tactic is to catch a bus in order to transfer to the same bus I was taking before, which in theory, should be on pretty much the same kind of timetable as before. So I should, in theory, be getting home at pretty much the same time as I always did. I do have to get up and go to work a half-hour earlier, of course, but since I seem to be getting back 15 minutes at the end, it only amounts to about 15 extra minutes I'm spending at work -- which I was doing while waiting for my bus in the afternoon, which I don't do anymore. Now, I just get that 15 extra minutes in the morning, when it's more relaxing. If this is something of a confusing read, it's appropriate, since I'm not sure if the new way really is better, as it seems to be somehow, counter-intuitive as it may be. Of course, it's definitely going to be worse in the winter when I have to trudge through the dirty snowbanks at the side of Derry Rd. at the end of the trip, which will probably turn what's now a five-minute walk into at least twice that. So I'm still looking for alternatives that might allow my workplace to move closer to home.

On a completely unrelated note, the host of the syndicated version of The Weakest Link just doesn't have it. Anne Robinson set the tone by being cruel, scathing, and faintly dominatrix-like, but this guy just comes off as just kind of flippant and gay -- although that last part is mostly due to his Greg Proops glasses. Thumbs down to the syndicated version of The Weakest Link, although it's still better than Rendez-View, which may be the most pathetic thing I've ever seen. Hey Proops -- instead of just sitting around weighing in with snarky comments about the two people you're watching go on a date, why don't you try going on a date yourself or something? It's not like you're on Hardball discussing weighty poitical issues or something, so your talking head act just looks incredibly jejune and irrelevant.

In more positive news, I got more mail for "Ruddy Ruddy"! Awesome!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Don't go see The Medallion

If I were murdered and then brought back to life with supernatural powers, I could do worse than to use them to prevent innocent movie-goers from seeing The Medallion, Jackie Chan's similarly-themed new film.

While running an errand, Scott and I were walking by the Famous Players theatre on Princess St. in Kingston, when he noticed The Medallion was playing. "Let's go see this!" he suggested.

"I don't know," I said. "The reviews are pretty negative. After a certain point, I hear it's full of all that wire-fu stuff, like in Charlie's Angels. If Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore can be made to look like they're doing all this crazy shit, why should it impress me when Jackie Chan does it? The point of seeing a Jackie Chan movie is that he really is doing all that crazy shit."

"That's true," Scott said. "But it should still have some of his regular stuff, and he probably does the wire-fu better anyway. Let's see it." So, we bought tickets.

About ten minutes into the film, he leaned over to me and said exactly what I was thinking: "This is terrible!" It was. In fact, it's worse than terrible. The only thing that kept me in the theatre was the memory of other Jackie Chan movies, and the hope they provided that this one might include at least a little of that vintage action.

The Medallion is pure, unadulterated garbage, and it's mostly the fault of Lee Evans, who plays Watson, a more irritating sidekick than even the notorious Jar-Jar Binks. You may remember him as the crippled-but-not-really guy from There's Something About Mary. (Yeah, the detective's sidekick is named Watson. This ought to give some kind of idea what kind of originality we're dealing with here.) The character is supposed to be some kind of Interpol agent, but his incompetence is played for laughs, only to the point where it actually violates even the shaky internal logic of the movie that Interpol would trust him with emptying wastebaskets, let alone trying to arrest international supercriminals. He makes Inspector Clouseau look like some kind of supercop. He's just absolutely useless, and besides that, irritating.

Making things worse, each of his little comedic scenes was accompanied by that whimsical music you'd usually hear at the very end of an episode of Star Trek, right around the time that Kirk would be telling Spock that he got more human every day and Spock would be raising an eyebrow and responding that he saw no reason to be insulted, and the entire bridge crew would break into laughter that lasted a couple of awkward beats too long, given the quality of the joke. Basically, it's the sort of music that's used to tell you that there's a joke going on here, which you'd already know if it were, you know, funny. Much has been made of the incompetent photography of the film being unable to capture Jackie Chan's balletic grace through its use of tight, close-up shots instead of longer shots that capture the whole body (that's no slight on Sammo Hung, who choreographed the actual fights, but didn't shoot them), but the real offender here is the music editor.

There's a particularly bad sequence where Chan and Evans trot out that hackneyed comedy bit where they have an argument about something that makes them sound like gay lovers to anyone who overhears it. You can see the bit coming from a mile away, it's not particularly well done at all, and it lasts forever. Seriously, it's three times longer than it needs to be. The film devotes what feels like five full minutes to Watson stammering something like, "Oh ... you thought ... that we? ... But we're not ... you know ... together ... not that there's anything ... you know ... wrong ... with ... you know ... that ... because, in all seriousness ... it's perfectly ... well ... all right ... not that I think that you ... would have any sort of ... well .. problem with that ... which is not to say that I think you yourself are a ... well, you know....

Actually, I think the version I just wrote may in fact be funnier and more concise than what's actually in the film.

Another bad and overdone bit: We see Chan's (chaste, as usual) love interest Claire Forlani approach him, accompanied by a romantic soundtrack. But when she reaches him, she slaps him, and the music is cut off abruptly by a -- get this -- record scratch! Hilarious! And original! So much so that the movie has not one, but two such scenes! Ugh.

Another complaint: Watson's wife, whom we only see briefly, is Asian. But their son is obviously a fullblooded (and jugeared) English boy just like his old man, without a trace of mixed blood. This raises questions about the family's history that distract from the film, all of which more or less distill to, Why is Watson's wife Asian? The answer comes when the house is attacked by bad dudes and Watson's wife inexplicably goes into full Hong Kong action movie heroine mode, displaying deadly expertise with martial arts and firearms. No effort is made to explain how she knows how to do any of this, but I suppose you're supposed to say to yourself, Ah. She could do all that stuff because she's Asian. That makes sense.

Another logical problem: At least twice, characters other than Jackie Chan are killed and resurrected by the eponymous medallion. They immediately walk onscreen to look down at their own corpses, which then dissolve and blow away. But when Jackie Chan is resurrected, he doesn't show up and look down at his own cadaver until he's in the morgue? Why? Is it simply to provide a humorous excuse to show Jackie Chan's naked buttocks? It must be, because there's no other explanation.

What's good about The Medallion? There's a little bit of decent action, I guess. But even the stuff that happens before Jackie Chan's character's death that shouldn't have any wire-fu feels a bit like it does. The nice parts are the little things, like when Jackie Chan climbs up a fence and through a small crevice really quickly. That kind of thing is okay. But really, the best thing about the movie is that it's short.

All in all, the wire fu just defeats the point of a Jackie Chan movie, and the comedy is execrable. You're way ahead to just rent some classic Jackie Chan movies, watch them at home, and pretend The Medallion isn't even in theatres. That shouldn't be too hard -- in a week or two, this piece of garbage won't be.

Rating: Two record scratches.

Leave the driving to us. (You supply the violent psychosis.)

From now on, I'm taking the train.

There's something about the bus ride from Kingston to Toronto. Getting from Toronto to Kingston is usually no problem. I mean, this time, my walkman batteries went dead, and I was left with only the crushing weight of my own thoughts for company (with the exception of the nattering of the too-friendly old guy a couple of rows ahead who was inflicting himself on some other guy, and thankfully not me). But on the whole, the trip there is uncrowded and uneventful.

But the way back is a different story. It never gets as bad as my all-time worst bus ride, which took place ten years ago -- on Canada Day, 1993 -- when I won tickets to go see Van Halen at Molson Park in Barrie. Not only was the bus incredibly uncomfortable, with upholstery so rough and sharkskin-like that it actually left me chafed and bleeding, but the stoner behind me managed to take a mighty hit off his bong, choke, and spit and splutter bong water all over the back of my head and neck. Then he apologized profusely and gave me many, many limp handshakes that felt like he was trying to hand me a dead fish. It was thoroughly unpleasant.

The Kingston-Toronto trip isn't that bad. But it's always more crowded and hard to get a couple of seats all to yourself. And last time, a couple of guys got busted for giving each other blowjobs right there in the seat, without even cover of darkness, let alone a blanket or jacket. (And justly so; this is what the bathroom is for.) I became aware of what was happening when the guy behind them realized what was going on and started yelling at them very loudly and angrily, so that the whole bus could hear. When we arrived in Toronto, the bus driver asked everyone to remain in their seats until he could check on something and went back and consulted with the complainant. Then the both of them got off the bus, only to return with a security guy. The offended passenger fingered (figuratively) the offenders, who were asked to remain onboard as the rest of us disembarked. I don't know how the whole thing turned out, but I imagine they were given a good tonguelashing about giving each other ... well, a good tonguelashing.

This time, the woman in front of me started talking loudly in her sleep, yelling mostly unintelligible things. I think I caught something like, "They won't let you into Toronto! You're a Jew!" The anti-Semitism was somewhat appropriate (insofar as such a thing can be) because I happened to be reading a copy of Marathon Man that I'd lifted from my friend Scott's laundry room. But it still made no sense. After this went on for a while, I eventually peered over the the seat to see what was going on -- and maybe tell her to shut up -- only to see her staring right back at me. She wasn't talking in her sleep at all. She was just a raving lunatic. Fortunately, she was the only person on the bus who didn't have to share a seat, which is what allowed her to be lying down -- if not napping -- in the first place. "The guy behind me, he killed Kennedy!" she yelled. Me? I killed JFK? I wondered. Or did I kill RFK? John-John or Bobby?

Occasionally, she'd return to a sitting-up position and at unpredictable times, thrash and flail around spasmodically. At that point, I started wondering if she was going to come over the seat at me. How would I explain things to the authorities if I had to break her arm or ram her head through the window? I didn't see how I'd be able to deal with her with anything less than incapacitating force. (I always assume myself to have certain untested but lethal ninja-like powers.) Eventually, however, she just dropped off to sleep. When we got to Scarborough, the driver came back and woke her up, since her ticket only took her that far. She grumbled and whined something barely intelligible. The driver asked, "You want to go to downtown Toronto?" She whined affirmatively, and we drove to the downtown terminal, where she got off and continued on her way. Security wasn't called; I guess the bus company just throws its hands up in the air and says, "Whatever" in such situations.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to save money by buying a ticket only valid for part of your trip, and if you want to guarantee getting a seat to yourself to boot, this is exactly how you should behave.

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