From the monthly archives:

January 2008

The Home Stretch Smells Terrible

by Dave on January 30, 2008

in Animalistic,Travels

Coming to you live from the Doubletree Hilton at 400 Soldiers Field Road in Boston – I have escaped the clutches of Florida and am slowly picking my way back to Ottawa. I stupidly booked my flight back Sunday night to coincide with the Superbowl, so I’m very proud of that. Still, when I cross the threshold of my front door and begin a several hour berating by a small orange cat who’s been waiting for me for a month, I’ll be a very happy chappy. And I can always watch the highlights.

Boston Terrier Puppy

A few days later I collect the wee baby weasels, Rhubarb and Shep. Have a look at the latest puppy gallery updates for some heart-wrenching cutie-pant photos fresh from the breeder. Although life will begin revolving around the little guys, punctuated frequently by overwhelming doodie smells, I am thoroughly looking forward to fatherhood. And I’ll be gosh darned if I leave the province for good long time. I may sneak out for some fun in Beantown this weekend prior to departure, so get at me, dawgs.

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labels drpepper

“No time for love, Dr. Pepper!”

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There Will Be Milkshakes

by Dave on January 24, 2008

in Movies

As I believe I’ve said before somewhere, I love this time of year because all of the movies nominated for Oscars, SAGs or Golden Globes end up online, long before they have been released on DVD. This is because they are released as “screeners” to the members of the various organizations who vote for the winners. As I am spending the majority of my time as a trailer-bound caregiver, I can’t say I feel too bad about maybe or maybe not downloading them all for my own amusement. That having been sorta said, There Will be Blood is the best movie I have seen in years.

That’s quite a statement, I know. Let me back it up a bit. I love period pieces and the turn of the century oil boom has been lacking for a treatment. Daniel Day Lewis and PTA are two of my favorite artisans and together they’ve made magic. It’s an amazing, beautiful, smelly, dirty universe they’ve created. And the score, although it has just been disqualified for an Oscar for a few silly reasons, will have you snapping your fingernails off on the armrest. So, basically, I wanted to write about it today, but there’s no shortage of reviews or stories about it online – so what do discuss? And it’s no fair getting too specific as you risk spoiling the movie for others. When I searched to see what clips were available on YouTube, I found a send up of the “milkshake scene”, so I’m going to talk about that.

Daniel Plainview doesn’t like Eli Sunday. And it’s hard to blame him, even though by the conclusion of the movie Daniel is no bargain himself. The last time they meet, Eli asks Daniel for money he feels he is owed for a land lease / oil deal they made many years before. Plainview explains why Eli will never see the money because he sucked all the oil off of Eli’s land without actually ever having had to physically drill on it. He uses milkshakes as an analogy. It is one of the most electrifying scenes I’ve ever enjoyed.

Drainage! Drainage, Eli! Drained dry, you boy! If you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and I have a straw and my straw reaches across the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!”

The last sentence is followed by a violent slurping sound that Day-Lewis should win the oscar for based on alone. Some cheeky bugger has edited the audio together using the song “Milkshake” by Kelis – and it made me laugh. So there you have it. No Country for Old Men is an excellent movie as well, but TWBB gets my vote for the oscar… for the next five years. Go see it. If you’re a male you will love it. If you’re a female, I’m sure there’s a ticket or two left for Juno or Atonement. Here is the proper version of the scene.

Update: It’s always somewhat defeating when someone else has already done something you want to do… better.

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God damn them all! I was told, we’d cruise the seas for American goldstan-rogers
We’d fire no guns! Shed no tears!
But I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett’s Privateers

– Stan Rogers’ Barrett’s Privateers

Jonothan Richman came to Guelph in 1994 and I went to see him at the almighty Albion hotel for what ended up being one of my favorite concerts of all time. The chap who opened up for him, and I wish I could remember his name, did a jaw-dropping acapella version of Stan Roger’s Barrett’s Privateers that will stay with me forever. This incredible song grabbed me by the short and curlies right away, and after hearing it in the car the other day on one of my Dad’s CDs I knew I had to write about it. Every version of this song is acapella, actually, as that is how Rogers intended it, and here is a very grainy video of him singing it around a kitchen table from a documentary entitled One Warm Line which you can watch in its entirety by clicking the link.

Rogers was killed in an airliner fire on June 2, 1983 when he was exactly my age, 34 years young. There are unsubstantiated claims that he made it off of the Air Canada flight on the ground in Cincinnati but succumbed to smoke inhalation after going back in to rescue other passengers. Like that story, Rogers’ music immediately gets under your skin and if you’re Canadian the subject matter – primarily ye olde maritime sailing culture based – is uniquely of this country and stands to provide a wonderful history lesson. I had no idea, for example, that there was such a thing as a Canadian pirate which is a loose way to describe Privateers. But I’m not going to regurgitate everything I’ve just read. You won’t find a better explication of the song and the history behind it than Dan Conlin’s:

“There was no Elcid Barrett. There was no Antelope sloop and there wasn’t even a town of Sherbrooke in the year of 1778. Stan Rogers basically made up an imaginary privateer to carry a 60s anti-war theme in a traditional folk setting. Having said all that, many of the details, ranging from the type of cannons mentioned to the letter of marque reference, are very authentic.”

Back in the golden years of sailing, once you were on a ship you were on a ship, and as part of the crew you were doomed to follow orders and obey regardless of how you felt about missions that were called on the go – lest you walked the plank or spent the rest of the long voyage eating rats in the hold. And many ‘conscripts’ were downright lied to about their intended purpose. Barrett’s Privateers tells the story of a naive young Nova Scotian who boarded a ship under the promise they would fly under a legal English charter (letter of marque) and inconvenience the burgeoning American navy by by stealing cargo. But Barrett had other ideas, and the song goes on to describe the mental anguish felt by the ‘broken’ protagonist when he finally makes it back to his Halifax pier.

The song is available for purchase on Amazon, and I encourage anyone who owns an album by the Decemberists to check out the late, great Stan Rogers in greater detail. There is also a Facebook petition devoted to getting Stan a star on the Canadian walk of fame and it’s good to see I’m not the only “younger” Canuck spreading the word about this great musician and his ongoing influence.

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As walking a cat on a leash seems a bit ridiculous to me, I decided to tape one of my jaunts with my parent’s cat, Spud, on the off-chance anything funny might happen. Watching it back and editing it together with a little Fats Domino, I realized the whole event was funny in and of itself – so I’m featuring it here on Veekend Video.

Not to mention the peacock standoff, poisonous caterpillar warning and controlled burn / raging blaze which touched off only a hundred meters from our trailer. Definitely an interesting 15 minutes of Florida morning, edited down for you here to about 4 and a half. This is one strange universe.

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I’ve been meaning to write a few vignette type blurbs about some of the interesting experiences I’ve had whilst living in a trailer park for the last two weeks. As my time is fairly limited at the moment, I’m going to try and kill that bird and the Quizzlet bird with one stone today. Let’s see if I can spin these questions my way…

Appetizer: What is your favorite beverage?
Definitely water of the bottled variety. There are 4 types of water I have recently become intimately acquainted with while living in Wickham Park. Bottled water is self explanatory. Grey water is what ends up stored in the trailer via the sinks and shower. Black water is what they call the trailer sewage, pumped out every Monday by the infamous Honey Wagon – however the more able-bodied residents use the public washroom/laundry building which all the trailers encircle for ‘number twos’. The fourth type of water is the kind which shuts off for two days and forces masses of senior citizens to build pyramids in said washroom building like ancient Egyptians.

IMG 1253

Home Sweet Home

Soup: Name 3 things that are on your computer desk at home or work.
My father’s Captain Teague doll, which spouts a variety of piratey sayings voiced by Keith Richards when its motion detector is tripped, sits on the table I have commandeered as a desk. “It’s not about living forever. It’s about living with yourself forever” is what I’m greeted with every time I get up to put the cat on or off his leash. Every day I move it somewhere else, and every day it miraculously returns to haunt me. I feel like I’ve been living in this trailer forever and am craving the space, comfy bed and even the temperature of home. “It’s not about living in the trailer forever. It’s about… OK you’re right. Keep the rum.”

Salad: On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how honest do you think you are?
Every evening there is a moveable feast of sorts, with all of my parent’s friends gathering in lawn chairs for drinks in front of one trailer or another. One of the friendlier residents, who is teaching me how to play Frisbee golf next week, is a Civil War re-enactor with a little penchant for booze. The other night he mixed up vodka with some sort of coffee energy drink and was passing it around. “It’s not bad,” I said, “but you’ll want to try my Mudslides sometime.” I may regret making that statement, as I have been conscripted by the North to make ‘slides for the whole park tonight and I have to head out soon to get the fixings. Thank goodness the liquor is so cheap in Florida. Where does the honesty factor in to it, you ask? I told them they weren’t too strong (senior citizens, remember). That statement alone knocks me right down to a 7.

Main Course: If you could change the name of one city in the world, what would you rename it and why?
Wickham Park is in a city called Melbourne which is an hour away from Orlando where I fly in and out of. It’s a myriad of strip malls, palm trees and homeless people on bikes. I have, however, enjoyed the Mexican food which is in short supply in Ottawa. Everyone says “y’all” and I have been reminded that Florida is indeed part of the American South, although people don’t often consider it in that category due to all the tourism and Latin American influence. There’s an Airstream trailer near ours with both a classic Confederate flag and the “Don’t Tread on Me” version flying high off the top. Most of the folks in the park have been in the military, and one fellow was a substitute teacher at both Concord Carlisle and Acton Boxborough whom Janet claims to remember. I’m rambling here, but a reasonable spin. I guess I’d rename it Peacockton, based on a recent event I captured on video and will be editing into a clip to post here over the weekend.

Dessert: What stresses you out? What calms you down?
I have to get back to work: Venemous caterpillar warnings / Mudslides.

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Bonnie is Back Home

by Dave on January 17, 2008

in

Health update for family and friends: Mom is back from the hospital and staying at a friend’s house nearby who has a condo, as opposed to a trailer, and a spare bedroom. I pick her up in the morning, bring her to the park for the day and then take her back to a proper bed at night. She is in good spirits and has bounced back really well. She promptly took Spud for a walk as soon as she got to the trailer this morning and soon had a little entourage of park residents walking with her – it was very cute.

The bad news is, her pathology report came back and we found out yesterday that she will need “continued treatment” – which basically amounts to Chemo. So, that obviously sucks, and I don’t think any of us expected it based on certain indicators that hadn’t been there in the PET scan or the recent blood work. After some sniffles we got back on the horse and have made an appointment with Mom’s oncologist for early next week. He will help us decide what the next steps are and whether or not the folks will have to cut their Florida season short. If chemo is yet again the course of action Mom wants to have it done in Canada with the same doctors who managed it when she went through this 3 years ago. In which case by May we’ll have Mom, Dad, me, Janet, 2 puppies and 3 cats living under the same roof. Thank goodness I managed to finish the Winchester last summer – cause I’ll be moving the frig in!

Yes, the news could have been better. But the surgery went off without a hitch, and the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the lymph nodes which are easy enough to zap and clear out. There is even a brand new drug called Avastin which cuts off blood supply to affected lymph nodes thereby killing off the harmful cells. We may give that a go prior to dusting off the wig again. Said hairpiece sits in a box on a shelf in my bedroom closet and I sincerely hoped to be able to burn the damn thing once I got home.

My family is quickly turning into a seasoned troop of grizzled health issue veterans, and we’ll get through this like we’ve tackled everything else. And let’s be honest – the weasels are really going to help both Mom and Dad’s mood and recovery. Only 3.5 weeks left till puppy ground zero! My hardwood floors shudder in fearful anticipation.

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Gallery Updates for Gazing

by Dave on January 15, 2008

in Photos

I just updated my galleries with a few new sections and updates. First off, enjoy silly stills of my Florida adventures thus far. You’ll see angry peacocks, cats on leashes and awful septic snaps. Then, please marvel at my latest additions to the Shepherd 2.0 gallery. Rhuby and Shep’s eyes are open and they look less like Guinea Pigs and more like Boston Terriers these days. Finally, I’ve also added a gallery of Christmas photos where you’re sure to enjoy elves on shelves, pirates, weird looking dogs and nocturnal poolside partying. Use plenty of lube and don’t chaff yourselves.

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Monday’s Quotelet: Bashful Bostons

by Dave on January 14, 2008

in

IMG 5802

When Shep and Ruby were shown a photo of their soon-to-be adopted parents, David and Janet, they immediately asked if they could be re-assigned. Or perhaps even sewn into a sack and thrown in the nearest river.

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Appetizer: What is your middle name? Would you change any it if you could?
My middle name is James after my Grandfather Jimmy Smith. Not to be confused with Jimmy Smits who is far too young and hispanic to be my Grandfather. Jimmy Smith was born in Scotland and I spent most of my youth following him around and aping his accent – which probably explains a lot regarding my propencity for mimicry. And scotch.

Soup: If you were a designer, which fabrics, colors, and styles would you use the most?Gay-Pirate
I am a big fan of forest green, cobalt blue and not being gay. In terms of a style I think I’d be leaning towards metro-sexual pirate. “Avast, me hearties! Can I borrow a flask of rum and two fingers of product fer me fookin’ beard?”

Salad: What is your least favorite chore, and why?
I find that changing bed sheets requires an insane amount of effort. Especially if you use the same set over and over. Or frequently piss the bed. Stripping the mattress is quick enough, washing and drying is fairly automatic. It’s putting the whole thing together that takes the most time. Then you have to pull the bed out from the wall, flip the mattress so you can sleep on the dry side and sprinkle more lime on the dead hooker under the boxspring – it’s quite a chore, to be fair.

Main Course: What is something that frightens you? Can you trace it back to a life event?
Even now I do not like swimming in the ocean. I have never been a big beach person but to actually submerge myself in the open sea is something I might do once a summer. In terms of an determining event I’ll say what everyone else probably does – repeated viewings of Jaws as a child. And the fact that I was drowned as a witch in one of my former lives.

Dessert: Where are you sitting right now? Name 3 things you can see at this moment.
I am sitting at a makeshift desk in my parent’s trailer. Dad is to my right watching the first season of SNL on DVD (a present from me, obviously). The hockey fights DVD is probably going to be next. I can see the picnic table outside where I plan to sit tonight, have a beer and play LOTRO after the sun sets. That’s wicked nerdy, I know, but I’m on Dad-duty this week and as crazy as it sounds even I can only watch so many Bond films. Finally I see one of the park peacocks strutting around the lake next to our trailer. This is definitely a strange little universe I’ve found myself in that I will try to relay in future posts. Happy Friday, y’all!

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Bonnie’s Bum is Better

by Dave on January 10, 2008

in

Dad and I are heading back to the hospital in a few minutes but I wanted to quickly let everyone know that Mom’s surgery went as well as it possibly could have yesterday. We spoke to her in the recovery ward while she was waiting for a room and she had her eyes open and was still rambling on through the morphine wondering if we had enough to eat. Bless. She’ll be in the hospital for at least 8 days and then we’ll bring her back to the park where one of the neighbors, who is away, has generously offered up their sweet RV for her to stay in while Dad and I try not to strangle each other over which James Bond DVD to watch next door. As they say in FLA, “I’ll keep y’all posted“.

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I finally made it to the trailer park in Melbourne, Florida around 7pm last night and am now working on one of the surgical waiting room computers at the hospital where my Mom is having her operation. Luckily there’s also a big flatscreen in here so my father will be mesmerized for a couple of hours. So far so good, and I hope to set out soon in search of the cafeteria for one of those awesome hospital lemon danishes and a shot glass full of OJ.

Last night after my arrival I set up my computer and tried to get online using my newly purchased Verizon Wireless card. It’s a little antenna looking thing that you plug into one of your USB ports that allows you to access the internet using cell phone signals. It costs $60 a month and works pretty well. I bought it specifically while I was here at Christmas so I could work from the park for the next few weeks while I’m in Florida, but it was a Godsend Monday and Tuesday when I was stuck in Ottawa. I used it for work and left it on all night as I slept in my hotel because it’s a flat fee. After I set it up and tried to log on, I got an error message telling me to call customer service. I was quickly sent from the one of the main customer service reps to some sort of ‘wireless investigation’ department. The person I spoke to went on to inform me that they’d ‘hotlined’ (disabled) my card because over the previous 2 days in Ottawa I’d racked up $908 in ‘roaming charges’. Apparently I only had a national plan.

My silver tongue quickly came to the rescue as I calmly pulled out the dementia and ass cancer cards while also relaying how I’d been shown a coverage map when purchasing the card a few weeks before when I was last in the States. “Sure it’ll work in Ottawa!” (Oh-tah-wah) the sales person working on commission cheerfully told me. So no big tragedy here. Verizon is doing the right thing and waiving the charges. But I can’t imagine it’s too hard to implement measures that would keep such a device from working at all in another country. Anyway, I have bigger fish to fry today. Thanks to everyone who’s sent along well wishes, I look forward to your Valentines Day cards and I’ll keep you posted.

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Fog can Suck my Fock

by Dave on January 8, 2008

in Travels

I’m back at gate 11 in the Ottawa airport, once again trying to get on my flight to Orlando. Yesterday my 11:30am flight was eventually cancelled around 3pm, and currently that same flight is the only flight throughout every airline that still hasn’t been cancelled. As visibility through the window beside me is about 25 feet – I’m not optimistic.

I’ve never seen fog like this. Did anyone see The Mist a couple of months ago? I did, and everytime I longingly look out at the runway to see if the fog has lifted, I expect a giant monster bug to smash against the glass. This is unreal. My mother’s surgery is tomorrow and I have to get down to look after my father. But what do you do? Is it worth even getting mad?

I’ve already called the hotel and re-booked my room for another night, because there’ll be another swarm of Orlando-bound cancellites scrambling for them in about 3 more hours. Tonight I may venture out of the hotel, do myself a favor and treat myself to a decent dinner. But to be honest – I have no idea what’s around. In my 3 times now driving to and from over the last 2 days, the various cabs and shuttles can’t see farther than about 10 feet in front of them.

At least WestJet is making it as tolerable as they can. They automatically rebooked my on today’s flight immediately after yesterday’s was cancelled. By the time I got through to them on the phone, they were like “Yep, same time tomorrow.” So I have that going for me. And total conciousness on my deathbed. I’m a looper. A pro jock.

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Monday’s Quotelet: Snake, Rattle and Roll

by Dave on January 7, 2008

in

 

snakegirl

Lunga the Snake Girl often helped her Uncle practice his putting.

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WestJet Review: They Frigging Rule

by Dave on January 4, 2008

in Canadiana,Travels

All too frequently, people use their blogs to bitch about things. I try very hard not to do that, exclusively. Although I’m about to do a bit of whingeing, ultimately this post was inspired by WestJet’s amazing customer service. The old adage goes something like… Do something nice for someone and they’ll tell a few close friends. Do something bad and they’ll tell anyone who’ll listen. Well – I’m attempting to do the opposite here.

When I flew down to Boston in early November for my citizenship ceremony, I had a flight booked with Air Canada to fly down on Tuesday and return on Friday. After I booked the flights I found out that two friends of mine were driving 9 hours from D.C. to be in Boston for my swearing in and it was meant to be somewhat of a surprise. Not only that but they had made plans to stay the weekend too. Now, if someone drives 9 hours to sit in a boring 3-hour ceremony on your behalf – that’s a friend. I also discovered that my sister had organized a little party on the Friday night. Long story shorter, I absolutely had to change my return flight to Sunday.

Air Canada raked me over the coals. By the time I got off the phone with them I found myself sitting on the couch in shock – having just spent an additional $600 to change the flight having already spent $600 on a round trip ticket a few weeks before. With taxes and all that good stuff two short flights to and from Boston ended up costing me nearly $1500 dollars. I’ll just let that sit with you for a second…

Looking for alternative airlines, my Mother suggested WestJet. She knew from experience that they had a direct flight from Ottawa to Orlando. To get to Orlando on Air Canada (which I did 2 weeks ago for Christmas) not only do you have to sell a kidney but you have to first fly to Toronto, find your baggage, go through customs, go through airport security for a second time and then by the grace of God make your connecting flight. Same deal on the way back a week ago. So when my Mother recently told me her cancer had returned and she needed me down there again by January 15th to take care of my Father while she had her second surgery for this goddamnned fucking bastard of a disease, I sighed audibly. Then I remembered WestJet.

I booked a round-trip flight on WestJet.com back to Florida 6 days ago as soon as I mikethen returned from there. The fare was so low that when I CC’d the neighbor who is looking after my cat on the itinerary she called me to ask how I’d managed to get such a low fare. It was almost half of what Air Canada would have charged for a semi-last minute booking. My Mother called me yesterday to tell me that her surgery had been moved from the 15th to the 9th – so immediately I envisioned a good part of my savings flying out of the window like a flock of seagulls. I mean, that’s what I’m used to, right?

Not only did WestJet get me on a flight this coming Monday when I called them an hour ago, they agreed to put my return ticket into a credit because I don’t know when I’ll be able to return. Did the last minute change to Monday have a fare increase? Unfortunately, yes. $20 fucking dollars. Not only that, but when I briefly mentioned the reason for my schedule change, Chantal unflinchingly said she was going to waive the normal fee for that which would have come in at close to $100. I was speechless.

WestJet’s routes are currently limited, I was sad to discover they don’t fly to Boston, for example, but the agent told me they were adding new destinations all the time. Check out their current routes and do yourself a favor – fly WestJet. I’ll update this post with some details from the actual flight experience when I get to FLA.

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