Friday, November 26, 2004

Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Yep. They did it., my web-based filthy habit, decided to inform the world on the front-end of their homepage that the Bush twins are turning 23 years old over the American thanksgiving holidays. What a relief. For a moment I was worried that they were actually going to fill the void left by the conclusion of the Scott Peterson trial with some actual news coverage.

I liken my morbid fascination with what my friend has dubbed "Chicken Noodle News" to the same kind of hypnotic effect that Homer Simpson's jiggling fat had when Gillian Anderson put his half-naked body on the treadmill to lose some weight. You just can't wait to be disgusted even further.

It of course makes sense. North American culture is obsessed with either grossing out or scaring the hell out of itself. It's all part of that innate desire that we have to inflict some kind of pain on ourselves. I have theory about that. Historically and presently, people on this end of the planet haven't had to put up with half of the crap that the rest of the world has had to endure. We're essentially talking about over 300 million people with a rough case of what the experts call "survivor guilt". Or should I say "cross-bearing envy"? Seriously, kids, who doesn't like to feel accomplished for toughing out a day at school or the office while sick with a case of the sniffles? Our lives in general have such little challenge or controversy that we feel compelled to inject chaos into our lives every chance we get. People likely cheat on spouses because they're bored, most shoplifters don't really need what they steal, and kids butt to the front of the line with the same sprirt that we kick around ant hills for fun. Don't tell me that you've never tried it... it's amazing how those little chuckers rebuild those things twice as big....

But I digress. The bottom line is that if we were lemmings, we would be negotiating a group rate to pitch ourselves off of the cliff every spring.

It is in the spirit of that kind of self-infliction that I entered into a fools bet last week with Ginny. I was certain that a guest star on CSI was none other than the same guy who played Lietenant Tom Paris on Star Trek Voyager. Yes, it was a geek's bet. Now, it ended up that it was played by someone who could have easily been this guy's twin. Nevertheless, I am now contracted to Ginny to be her slave for a day, as per the condition of our bet. Now, I am normally good at trivia and matters of general knowledge, but have a bad history when it comes to identifying TV stars for some strange reason. (Honestly, who would have thought the guy who plays the doctor on Everwood was Treat Williams, and not Billy Ray Cyrus? Who?) So with this knowledge in hand, why in god's name would I enter a fool's bet like that?

The answer? I'm clearly a sucker for punishment. A very willing sucker for punishment. After all, it gave me something to write about.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Did I Ask For Too Little... More Than A Lot?

My dad was in town and decided to treat K. and I to dinner. I'm 26 and he still does that, and I still accept. It feels too surreal if its done any other way.

We went to Casey's, and ordered our beverages. Then, we decided to order mushroom caps and onion rings. Apparently, their new head-office revised menu decided to ditch those two. Head office did, however, graciously leave their more expensive appetizers on the menu, and then proceed to charge an average of a dollar more for those items in question. Who is going to pay $9.99 for six to seven chicken wings? Not this sucker. I'm saving my money for something sensible, like a crack-coccaine binge. I didn't say much right off the bat but it was pretty clear that I wasn't impressed, and the apologetic nature of our server did the opposite of placate me.

My rage escalated. I suggested another place that we could go to that had our fave appetizers, and then proceeded to walk up to the waitress and cancel our drink order, informing her that we would be going to another establishment. We went to the moose, where they had what we wanted, plus their frigging awesome wings.

K. seemed moderately shocked that I would do something as outlandish as cancel an order, and she's right, it is not "normal" to do that. It is, however, in my mind, quite proper. I don't think that people should have ridiculously high standards, but if an establishment doesn't meet their needs, they should politely change establishments, and not feel compelled to stay just because they occupied the booth at that chow joint for a minute or two. It feels awkward to leave like that, or send food back to the kitchen, or complain about slow service, but it can also, when done responsibly, be quite liberating.

Oh, and we got a beta fish. We're calling it Shark-Bait.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Take Me Back To The Start....

Yes, well, I'm talking with my boss and I thought that I burned all bridges when I mentioned that I was actively looking for employment with another ministry. As an intern, I'm entitled, but if I got employment elsewhere soon, I would be leaving after only six months. This would seem strangely familiar, as it is my track record for jobs over the last year and a half. I'm never fired, I just leave to go up a few pay scales and get more experience. I just always have to kick myself back to the beginning of the learning curve, which can be a little draining at times.

My manager was suprisingly cool about the notion, and offered to make some calls on my behalf to scout out opportunities.

I really should clue into this whole world. I always stress out about leaving, and then realize that "oh my god", the business will continue in my absence quite fine, thank you. Of course, my nervousness about leaving is not really about my delusions of indespensibility, but about my sense of loyalty to organizations I work for. I think that is a good thing. I am usually pretty loyal and focused in whichever place I work. If I find that my heart is not in a job, I WILL leave it. It is simple as that.

Enough of my sanctimonious prattling. The lark visited this past weekend, and it was le fun. I think that my wife would have liked to have spent more time alone with her, but it was quite difficult to accomplish. It is quite difficult for one to spend everyday with a friend for two or three years, and then POOF discover that it is no longer the status quo. I can empathize. I had a few friends in my high school years that I spent almost every day with... all three moved out west. It must have been my stench or something.

Wow, most nonsensical and disordered entry yet. The re-election of the Bush has totally taken the wind out of my sails.

John Morgan died today. That's rough. He was easily one of my favorite Canadian comedians.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Last Post

Memorial Gardens was packed to the gills today. I stood outside the main arena area, close to where the zamboni comes in. Two minutes of silence passed, and then two men began to play "The Last Post". I could hear the other one clear as a bell across the arena. The second was performed by an elderly veteran a few feet away from me. His face showed signs of strain as his trumpet sputtered to a start. His rendition sounded tired, flawed, and seemed to be off tune with his counterpart's. It was easily the most beautiful thing that I had ever heard.


My dad's father was leading a convoy across a bridge in Italy. The driver of the lead truck was scared to cross the bridge because of enemy fire in the area. The convoy would have been caught in the fight if they had not crossed the bridge. My grandfather pulled out his pistol, pointed it at the man's head, and said "You will drive this truck across this bridge or I will shoot you myself."

He was no older than I am now.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

It was electric, suprisingly hectic

Last night, I sat down for a special one and a half hour episode of CSI Miami. Immediately afterward, I pulled myself off the couch, staggered down the hall into the bathroom, and pissed pure testosterone into the toilet bowl.

What a wild ride that was. In the space of a single episode, David Caruso managed to utter three stone-cool movie style lines that introduced a commercial, arrested multiple felons, scored with the hot District Attorney, shot up two guys involved in a bank-heist, outran a tidal wave into a bank vault to save both himself and the injured woman he was carrying, drove his hummer out of an exploding building to save that woman's husband, chased a criminal mastermind down on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, and even found time amidst all of that to notice that his dead brother's wife had been beaten up by the stereotypical asshole who runs internal affairs. Yah. You know, the guy that's always on Caruso's case whenever something goes down that isn't according to procedure? That dude. Of course, Davey Crockett has to inform the sonofabitch that he'll kill him if he ever hits her again.

What else... oh right, his supporting cast managed to both help him out and solve a few boring murders of their own.

This show is nothing like the "good" original CSI. The science is there, sure, and the characters have plenty of umph, but where is the subtlety? Gil Grissom doesn't drag his fellow head poindexter and storm a bank in the middle of a freaking armed robbery! He also doesn't stand at the edge of a coast guard cruiser like he's Leonardo DiCaprio looking for a Kate Winslet to dangle over the bow. Mind, you Vegas doesn't have any water at all, but you get my point. I watch this show because it makes me laugh.

Once I start crying, my love affair with CSI Miami is over.

I've got to get up uber-early tomorrow to do a massive call tracking report. Bah.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm Not Bitter

Okay, so we now know that the right wingers of the USA were running scared because exit pollsters (those guys who ask you who you voted for after you exit the booth) were somehow dooped into thinking that it was a Kerry landslide.

Could it have been any more opposite? The Replicans cleared the Democratic table like a guest at Christmas turkey dinner. We're talking the presidency, senate, and house of representatives. I would offer the Democrats a wishbone for good luck next time, but Trent Lott and friends are currently ramming it down Tom Daschle's throat. I could wax philosophic for pages and pages about how it is that team Bush managed to pull this off, but suffice to say, the American public made a very conscious choice to ignore certain mistakes and failings in favour of a man who "shares their values". Blind faith is great, isn't it?

Seriously, folks, saddle up and get ready for a crazy four year ride. Now that the majority of the US public has endorsed the policies and overall behaviour and conduct of these people, you will see a fundamental shift in world opinion towards Americans. Note my choice of words. Americans, not America. One must consider that right now, you can ask residents of some of the most vehemently anti-American countries in the world, and they will contextualize their stance as being against the US government and its policies, but professing a love for the American people. Mostly. Now that the citizens of the worlds only superpower have given Bush a blank cheque despite the mounting evidence of corruption and lies, it will be a lot harder to give the average American the benefit of the doubt. It is one thing to hate a particular leader, party, or even government. It is quite another to start disliking the people who are ultimately responsible for putting that government in power.

For decades, the world has refused to hold Americans accountable as a people for the actions and policies of their leaders. The jihadist nut-jobs decided to change that a la' 911. At first, the world was shocked and horrified that innocent blood would be shed just to send a message to the Bush administration (and all past administrations). Most of the planet rallied around the USA to go after Al Queda and associates. Popular opinion started playing reversi when Bush started shoving Iraq. It will get even worse now that the Americans have failed to hold their leader accountable. Its one thing to make the fundamentalist Muslims hate you, they were dying for an excuse anyway. But the rest of the free world? Not a great idea.

What complicates this matter is that we now have John Kerry being a true American and pledging to support Bush to help unite the country. This is a common trait of their political system. Sure enough, in this "time of war", it is likely that the Democrats will become more cooperative for at least two years, until it comes time to start gearing up for the next election. In the meantime, mainstream Democratic legislators will likely undermine their own moral authority by climbing over themselves to follow "the American way" by sticking up for Bush. Again, at least for the next two years. This of course will leave the rest of the planet feeling a bit betrayed by political leaders who, just two days ago, pledged to reach out to the world community. They can't exactly facilitate that with no real political power, so, mark my words, they will give Bush a similar kind of support that he experienced shortly after 9-11.

It's a little different in Canada. The day after our federal election, Stephen Harper wasn't exactly talking about unity and standing behind our leader. He was concilliatory, but the underlying message in his concession speech was not "we're with you Paul", it was more like, "See you at work tomorrow, asshole."

Our system has its own flaws, but the American system still scares me.

Oh well. On to happier things.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

This is about as unscientific as I'm ever going to get, but as I watch election night unfold in the USA, I've noticed that all the Republican party leaders and right-leaning pundits are looking pretty rough. I mean, REALLY rough. Red eyes, pale faces, dishevelled hair... they're normally so coifed! Honestly, you look at the lefties, and they're cold as ice. What are the Republicans sweating about? Is there something that they're seeing in exit polls that we haven't heard yet?