Let’s Go To Vegas

Seriously, let’s do it!

What are you up to, October 20th through 24th?  That’s the weekend after Canadian Thanksgiving, or the Weekend before Everywhere Halloween.  I’m turning 30 in October, and this is how I’ve chosen to celebrate.  I’ll be in Vegas for 4 days.

Some of you might be asking “Am I invited?”  Well, despite what you may have heard, I am not the boss of Las Vegas.  Not since Johnny Fourstroke managed to convince my boy on the Nevada Gaming Commission … you know what?  Never mind that.  I’m not the boss of Vegas.  So off course you can come.

Assuming you want to hang out with me, which is a far assumption, because I’m cool like a rainbow made of chocolate coins and gold coins, then come on!  Do.  It.  Vegas is such a cheap place to travel to, because they assume they’ll get your money from you with shiny lights and satsitically difficult to profit on games!  Flights and hotels are cheap!

I’ve decided I wanted to stay at an iconic hotel.  I did some research on which one would be best.  It involved asking S1 if she thought Ceaser’s Palace was cool, and she said it was alright but that the MGM Grand was cooler.  So…


I’ll be staying at the MGM Grand.  If you wanna come, let me know.  All are welcome.

Except Johnny Fourstroke…

Published in: on September 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Last Minute Halloween Costumes

Not everyone is like me when it comes to Halloween.  Some people do not consider it last minute to figure out what they will wear for Halloween on September 1st.  They don’t spend the months leading up to the holiday scouring costume shops, thrift stores, variety stores and the internet for all the pieces it takes to perfectly imitate some character.  I understand that.  I’m exceedingly fortune that my talented sister, Kim, has started a tradition of giving me an excellent costume for my birthday, on the caveat that it would be worthy of her skill and interesting enough that she should bother. 

Some people don’t even have the foresight to buy a slutty costume the weekend before.

And you can find a skanky version of anything

There are pre-made costumes available at stores, that for girls are supposed to be a sexy fill in the blank, and for guys most costumes are usually some crude visual gag.  You can also find costumes based on whatever movie or TV show people have been watching.

I watch Jersey Shore, and all, but seriously, Snooki costumes? Why is this a real thing?

But what if you didn’t think to pick something up, and now, it’s time to go out for Halloween.  Well, let’s look at what you can do, and what you can’t.

Acceptable — Work Uniform

If you used to work at a fast food place, or somewhere with a recognizable uniform, you can put on your old work clothes.  Make a fake, punny name tag, and make sure the clothes are clean.  As long as people know it’s a costume, it’s okay, but they shouldn’t think you just left work.  This costume is especially true if you are a cute girl who used to work anywhere the uniform included an apron, like Starbucks, and you want to pull a Rene Zellweger form Empire Records

This is always okay.

Unacceptable — Hockey Jersey

Do not just put on a hockey jersey, and claim to be the player whose name is on the back.  If you want to do this, you better fucking look like the guy.  You also should go a step or two further.  Put on a pair of hockey gloves, maybe a fake black eye.  If you are a white guy with long hair, you can’t just put on your favourite player’s jersey and tell me you’re this guy:

because you look nothing like Iginla

Acceptable — Vampire or Zombie anything

Put on any clothes.  Grab some make up.  If you don’t have any either run to the drug store for some make up, or borrow some from your wife, girlfriend, mother, or neighbor.  Seriously, it isn’t that hard.  The internet is full of great tutorials on zombie make up, or if you’re lazy, just put down a white base and run a little red down the corner of your mouth and be a vampire. 

Ignoring my awesome cap teeth, there's not a lot to this costume...

Unacceptable — Superhero T-Shirts

If you’re like me, you’re not desperately trying to figure out what to wear on October 31st.  But if you’re kind of like me, you have a bunch of superhero T-shirts, and if you’re dumb, you think they could be turned into costumes.  This is untrue in almost all circumstances.  A Green Lantern t-shirt and jeans is not a costume.  There are exceptions.  First of all, if you have the right haircut and the right Superman symbol T-Shirt (red symbol, black background) you can be

This one, specific Superboy

Also, if you have Peter Parker or Clark Kent clothes, you can do mid change superhero.

This is the lamest Halloween costume I've ever worn. I have high standards.

Unacceptable — Toilet Paper Mummy

Just, just don’t.  It’s gross.

Acceptable — Dressing as a Holiday

Not everyone has a collection of capes like I do, but most people have Christmas decorations, or … Easter, or something.  Wear them like a costume.  Be Christmas.  It’s better than wearing nothing.

Unacceptable — Ghost Sheet

Don’t cut the eyes out of a sheet and be a ghost.  Especially after that one South Park, where Cartman showed us what you really look like:

You can't unsee this.

Acceptable — Bedsheet Toga

Seriously, if you need to wear a sheet, wear it as a toga.  It looks better.

Unacceptable — A Celebrity you look like

So you think you look like Johnny Depp, or Edward from Twilight?  It’s not enough.  You need Depp’s weird hat, or Edward’s eyebrows.   If you want to be Ricky from Trailer Park boys you need to wear one of his signature shirts.  Basically, you can’t do this unless you already have built a costume, and if that’s the case, then you have a costume, don’t you.  It’s not enough to wear your regular clothes.

Acceptable — Dress Clothes

Put on your best suit.  You’ll look like something.  Maybe you’ll need a headphone run to your ear to look like secret service, or maybe you’ll look like James Bond.  For girls, you might look like a prom queen or a bridesmaid.  You can go with it.

Unacceptable — No Costume

This is not okay.  You hear me Kodie?  Not acceptable.  You have to stay home.

Acceptable — Your Skankiest Clothing

Ladies, it’s Halloween.  No matter what you’re wearing, you’re not a slut.  You could say your a prositute, but you don’t need to.  If you’ve got an animal ear handband, you’re more than set.  It’s the Mean Girls Equation: 

Animal ears plus underwear equals costume

Seriously, wear your underwear, and you’re good.

Leonard’s Visit


Leonard was coming back to Calgary from Art School for a week, which meant I was going to be at either the Ship and Anchor or the Distillery.  The Distillery has changed a lot lately, and in some ways, no matter how many new things she tries, Leonard is still a robot of habit in the deepest steel chambers of her mechanical heart.  She can’t handle seeing how some things have changed, and she wanted the familiar, so we were at the Ship.

We went on Friday.  If you don’t know, the Ship and Anchor is a bit of a punk pub, at least originally, but it’s slowly showing a hipster influence.  There’s a row of fake books on a shelf near the ceiling.  Antique-looking paintings and artefacts adorn the walls, interspersed with FIFA soccer pennants.  Each table had its own crowd, with no coherent group dominating the bar.  A couple of old guys spoke emphatically near a group of bookish girls too afraid to yell to be heard over the bar noise.  A pair of overly attractive people tried to decide if they wanted to make out at 8 pm in a pub, mostly through trail and error.

I got there to find Kodie, Leonard, B1 and A2.  I hadn’t eaten, so I ordered food.  For the rest of the night, one person at our table was always eating.  Either someone new would show up and order food, or someone who had been there for a while needed an appy.

I was sitting by A2.  He was ordering a different beer with each round and showing off his iPhone.

Tall showed up a bit later, followed by R1 and A3, friends of Leonard.  It freaks her out to see people she knows from different places together, especially if they get along.  She especially hates it if they start doing things without her.  She calls it “hanging out behind her back.”  I believe it’s because robots are always plotting against humans, so she assumes it goes the other way.  She knows it’s crazy, and she’s mostly gotten over it, but at times it bugs her.

So I probably shouldn’t have been hitting on A3.  Since the last time I’d seen her, she’d gotten a rather significant haircut, and was adorable with her short hair.  I was trying to be subtle, so as not to upset Leonard until there was reason for her to be truly angry at me.  On top of that, it was a loud bar, and everyone kept switching places around the table, so A3 and I didn’t get much of a chance to talk.  I doubt she noticed.  She also didn’t get my full attention, and I wasn’t willing to push to hard, so she was able to escape my considerable charm.

This time…

When Shawn showed up, our waitress changed.  The new girl was gorgeous, and completely inattentive.  You had to yell at her to stop her to order a drink.  We soon decided it was time to move the party, and Kodie and Shawn suggested the Elbow River Casino.  Tall, A3, B1 and R2 were out, but the rest of us decided to go. 

I’ve only ever been to the casino in Lethbridge.  It’s a newish building on the highway out of town.  I used to go with Txt Girl and her friends, because she loved to gamble.  I’d spend $20 on ten games of blackjack, then just hang out, because I value my money.  The Lethbridge Casino was fun every time.

Elbow River Casino was different.  It was smaller, darker, and mostly row upon row of heartless slot machines. 

Pictured: Uncivilized Gambling

 I don’t like playing the slots because they’re too much like video games.  The bright lights and sounds confuse me into thinking I’m having more fun than I am, and I forget every button I press costs me money.  I feel like my Nintendo cheated me as a child, so I know those machines that are literally after my money will for sure.  I just don’t like the disconnect I get from something too much like my Xbox 360.

So I walked by and got a drink.  Then I checked out the Blackjack.

There were no $2 tables.

The lowest on the floor were $5 minimum bet.

When the fuck did that happen?  I want 10 games for my $20.  Now, the most I’m guaranteed is 4 games.  4 fucking games.  Less than half.  I sighed, and sat down by A2.  I managed to last for 8 games without going over my $20 limit.  I was frustrated when the last of my money left so I went to find Kodie.

He was at a slot machine, and I was not sober enough to make good decisions.  In 3 minutes, the evil little robot ate $20 more.  I asked Kodie how he managed to keep the machine going.  He shrugged a timid shrug that suggested he’d spent more than he should have.

Shawn and I found the cheapest slots in the place, and I lost another $10 before I gave up.  It was home time, and I was down $50.

Do all Casino’s suck this much?  Am I remembering things wrong?

Or is the Elbow River Casino where hope goes to die?

The Baby Stag

I recently went up to Edmonton to visit a buddy of mine from high school just before his wife had a baby.  I asked them what they wanted me to call them in my blog, as per my naming convention, and she told me to make up nicknames for them.  She requested they sound like 80s supervillians.  So she is Malinmar and he is Professor Destructo. 

This was my first baby stag.  It is a party you have before the baby is born, when you don’t have to worry about being too quiet or being a bad influence.  It’s more bachelor party than baby shower.  The party was a Saturday evening, so Kodie and I drove up that day, planning to sleep on our hosts floor.  We brought amusing gifts for the baby based on old inside jokes.  We fascinated the guests who arrived before us.  I had my ninj-brella because it was raining, 

A weapon? Protection from the rain? Or both...

And our vodka was in a crystal skull. 

Magic Vodka

Yeah, prop comedy.  How far the mighty have fallen… 

I grew up with Professor Destructo.  When I think back to my earliest memories, his house is the first friend’s I remember playing at.  We took figure skating lessons together, including a performance dressed as Ewoks, and went to the same school from kindergarten to grade 12.  It’s a bit odd to visit him at the house he owns, with his wife, to celebrate his first child.  It’s really cool, but it’s also weird.  I can picture him as an unsteady four year old dressed as Wicket, and he’s having a baby.

I may be remembering it wrong, but I think we looked like this


Malinmar is a different story, because I’ve only known her as an adult.  I met her at their wedding, and took a liking to her right away.  It could be that I like to be famous, and I feel famous when I hang out with her.  In Harvey, the greatest  play of all time, Elwood Dowd says “You seem to have me at a disadvantage,” when someone knows his name, and more about him than he knows about them.  I always feel this way with Malinmar.  Professor Destructo has told her reams of stories about me, but as we haven’t lived in the same city since high school, he never had many chances to tell me about her.  She’s also read a great number of my blogs, so she knows what I think about things and we always have great conversations about things I’m interested in, on which she has insightful ideas. 

The best part about her, though, is she’s good for Professor Destructo.  They compliment each other with different strengths and a genuine desire to look after each other.  When Professor Destructo gets lost, which happens because he’s easily distracted, she’s there to right his course.  When Malinmar gets down, he’s there to lift her up, and he’s never happier than when he’s doing something to make her smile.  They also speak the same way.  They say “realistically” constantly.  I made a game out of it, to see if what they said afterwards was realistic.  It’s similar to when you try to determine if people are using irony after they say “it’s ironic.” 

This was one of the biggest gatherings of my friends from high school, probably since Malinmar and Professor Destructo got married.  We drank at their house, and Ryan dominated the room.  This always happens, because he’s got an incredible presence, and all eyes end up on him.  He’s quick witted and gregarious, and always seems to be the center of the most interesting conversations.  So we listened to stories about the drunkest he’s ever been, and how everyone reads the letters of the “Anonymous” tattoo on his arm upside down, and due to the script get “Snowhound” instead.  

I think I realized why Kodie and Ryan always got along so well.  Kodie rarely speaks, but with Ryan there, no none notices or cares. 

Rounding out the group of people I spent everyday in high school with was Skippy.  Skippy and Professor Destructo stayed close like Kodie and I did.  For Skippy’s last birthday, Malinmar got him a doll so he could practice not hurting the baby, just before she announced her pregnancy.  Skippy is a series of contradictions.  He looks like a biker, with a bushy beard, standing 6 foot 3, and you have to really pay attention to notice the guy is brilliant.  He doesn’t want you to know.  He listens to really heavy metal, or the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra.  He will constantly make comments designed to display how negligent he is, until someone actually needs help, which he gives freely and with gusto. 

There were a bunch of other people there as well, some whom I knew, others who had gone to university with Professor Destructo, Malinmar, and Ryan, and others who’s relation I couldn’t trace.  Kodie, Skippy and I spent a while catching up or listening to Ryan, until it was time to bowl. 

I haven’t been five pin bowling in years, mostly because I have an easier time finding ten pin.  We took up three lanes.  We drank beer at bowling alley prices, which is the true meaning of bowling. 

The bartender was a cute girl in dreads who was eating out of Ryan’s hand as soon as he spoke to her.  He felt bad, being unavailable as she kept throwing herself at him with mounting desperation.  We kept egging him on to find out facts about her.  Between being the center of attention, and really just being asked to talk to the cute girl, he couldn’t deny us.  By the end of the night he knew her age, whet she was taking in uni, where she was born, and nearly every biographical fact she could offer, except for her name and how to get her on the phone.  I think he broke her heart. 

Skippy bowls regularly, and destroyed our scores by the end of the first game.  Professor Destructo couldn’t believe I came in second, probably because in high school I was notoriously bad at sports.  The thing is bowling is less a sport and more a drinking game.  There’s a certain  buzz I can catch that makes me a competent bowler. 

By the second game I had passed it and came in near the bottom of the heat. 

Kodie watched us all silently, pleased to see how easily things could go back to the way they always were, at least for a night. 

After three or four games (I’m really not sure) we returned to the house.  Skippy had to head out, and as he was the sober guy in a crowd of drunks, I really don’t blame him.  Kodie and Malinmar had a long discussion about religion.  He kept dragging me into it, no matter how I tried to escape.  I’d find another conversation, but he’d need to check a fact with me.  

Not long after Kodie realized he was drinking, and as usually he decided he had better vomit and pass out.  I had long discussions about movies, superheroes, and heard a harrowing tale of betrayal in those pre-dawn hours where exhaustion and the haze of vodka mean everyone who’s still awake can be trusted, and you’ll only remember topics, not specifics.  It’s when truths come out, the sort you wish didn’t have to be true, but need shared when there’s no light left, just to purge the darkness.  If you’ve never lasted to five am, I can’ t really explain this twilight to you.  I encourage you to learn pacing, because these are the most human moments in the world, and if they aren’t painfully sad, they are ridiculously perfect.  You won’t know until they happen, but every one is a treasure of truth. 

Soon after, I was asleep on the couch.  I woke up to the 2009 Astroboy movie playing, which has Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, and Kirsten Bell.  It’s better than I expected, and is worthy of that cast.  Malinmar got up soon after, and was puttering around the kitchen, making breakfast for everyone.  I offered to help, but she tod me I’d just be in her way. 

Despite my knowledge of breakfast cooking, a talent even Gilly will admit I possess, I’m never offended when I get kicked out of a kitchen.  Anyone who doesn’t want your help probably knows exactly what they’re doing.  Malinmar made the best French Toast anyone has ever eaten.  Ever.  She also made a range of bacon, from deliciously soft, to ruined crispy, so that even freaks could have their burnt, ruined bacon. 

Ryan’s mom lives in Edmonton, and she joined us for breakfast.  She spent a far portion of the meal trying to convince us she had never done anything wrong and neither had her son.  We had grown up with him and spent the previous night listening to him trying to figure out which story was actually the drunkest he had ever been, but he quietly nodded, letting his escapades slip below her radar. 

I don’t quite understand it.  I’m proud of my mistakes.  I’ll tell anyone about the time I jumped out of a moving car, or why I can’t drink scotch, or the tale of Tequila Bender 2006.  My mom, much to her regret, keeps reading my blogs and sees hears the tales of my escapades.  I think she prays constantly that David never takes up blogging. 

Unlike Skippy’s Birthday, which I call November Absinth Massacre, Kodie was able to move the next day.  He drove us back to Calgary, talking about how he wants to plan a camping trip with me, Skippy, Ryan, and, if he can leave the baby for a few days, Professor Destructo. 


Since this was written, the baby has been born.  This kid doesn’t know how lucky he is.  Baby Destructo couldn’t come into a more loving home, and couldn’t ask for a better set of people as parents.

The Back Alley With My Brother

I don’t try to keep up with David, my younger brother, very often.  I tend to feel old amongst his friends, mostly because they’re much younger than him, too.  I’m Methuselah in their company.  He sometimes gets caught up in trying to impress his group of acolytes; servers, bartenders, and hangers-on, who are drawn to his gregarious personality.  He forgets that they would already follow him over the brink of reason.  He doesn’t need to go big to impress them, but somehow he always decides he needs to out drink them, out party them, out go-without-sleep them, and generally out do them.


Then again, he is my brother, and that does lend itself towards a certain flair for the dramatic.  I’ve just gotten too old to need to do a shot of tequila or stay up till 5 am to prove myself.  I only do those things when I want to, not because someone else thinks I should.  

David gets along with my friends, but I live in a calmer world.  I mean, watch how early in the following tale we lose my social group:  

On Saturday night of May Long Weekend, I invited Matt, Ren, and David over for the sort of thing that lives more in my sort of social gathering than my brothers.  We watched Yatterman, a strange and wonderful piece of Japanese … something.  

Technically a movie, but …

We watched it with no subtitles and drank every time it made no sense.  Ren kept predicting the fucked up things in the movie, like the flowers were missiles, or that Yattergirl could deflect them with a stick.  

The movie is pretty fucked up, so we were nicely drunk by the time it ended.  David and I decided we wanted to go to a bar.  At the mention of such a thing, Matt and Ren vanished.  Matt had important World of Warcraft raiding to do, and Ren, not always the most social individual, was in no mood for the drunken general public that night.  

My friends, in general, are not partiers. 

David asked me to call anyone I knew who would join us.  I scrolled through the contact list on my phone.  There were maybe three people in there who might have gone, and they were out of town.  So he furiously texted a bunch of people while I played poker on my phone as we rode the train to the Back Alley

While drinking, my BlackBerry photography skills are minimal at best...

 We arrived to find a short line out front, who turned out to be smokers finishing their cigarettes before they headed inside.  It appeared the city had been abandoned for the long weekend.  We flashed our IDs at the bouncer and checked our coats.  

 Of all the clubs I’ve ever been to, the Back Alley is by far the best.  The first time I came, it raised my expectations for all clubs forever after, and nowhere else has ever come close.  Mostly, it comes from the music.  Very few clubs play music I like, as I find most dance and top 40 jarring.  Back Alley plays Modest Mouse, the Proclaimers, Rage Against, ACDC, and all sorts of stuff you don’t hear outside of pubs.  I never find myself praying to Zeus to fry the sound system with divine lightning to save my sanity.  

Not the ghost town I had expected

 On top of that, they always keep the crowd at a good size.  Even on the long weekend, we were pleased to find the place was busy, and the dance floor was packed, but we could move, and find a space to breathe if we needed one.  The staff is fun, and seems to enjoy their jobs, even the tit-shot girls who pour a shout of tequila down patrons throat from a hip-holstered bottle, and then motorboat the drinker.  I was a bit surprised they still do this, but I guess they’re will always be a market.  Even the bathroom attendants are unobtrusive and helpful.  Other places, I find them creepy, mostly because in University, the clubs that had them either needed them to ensure you weren’t coking up in the bathroom, or they were selling coke.  In the Back Alley, you never notice them until they drop some liquid soap in your hands and turn on the water, and they keep the place far cleaner than you would expect from such a busy club. 

David and I did a lap around the dance floor, on the off chance anyone we knew was there.  Apparently, even David’s texting was fruitless on May Long, the busiest camping weekend of the year.  We grabbed a pair of stools by the dance floor, and enjoyed a couple of beers and the scenery. 

Two cute girls slid off the dance floor, brunettes in little black dresses, barstars in their prime, and they ask my brother if he’s David.  He feels famous, even though one girl went to school in Stettler with Bev, our youngest sister.  They wanted to dance, but David knows me.  “You need a couple more first, right?” 

“I’ll be fine,” I told him, waving him towards the floor.  “You go, I’ll have some beers and people watch.”  Barstar2, the girl who wasn’t from Stettler, looked really disappointed as the three of them went back to the floor. 

Cute girls don’t know it, but they love to be ignored. 

By 12:34, focus was not my strong point.

I don’t know why, but I always feel part of something when I’m enjoying the same music as people around me.  I always get that feeling in the Back Alley.  I’m involved in whatever everyone in the building is involved in, and it’s not like a Starbucks, where people are in public, but each table is an island.  Everyone is here, in the same place.  I think it’s something we avoid, with iPods and carefully ignoring everyone around us.  I know I’m guilty of it too, and it’s nice to step out into a bigger world, even if it’s just for a few hours. 

I'm 93% certian this is the bartender I'm talking about

When I went and grabbed another beer from the bartender, she’s par for the course here; stunningly gorgeous, down to Earth, and glad you’re there.  I often find servers in busy clubs seem bored, and are faking that you’re not a hassle.  Staff at the Back Alley treat you like you’re attending their party, at their house.  Sure, they’re busy, but they’re having a great time, and it’s really important to them that you are too.I got lost in the crowd, enjoying the people around me.  I saw old friends running into each other by surprise, new couples clumsily batting tongues as if they’re alone, people lost in the sound and dancing their hearts out, and the strange, flamboyant people with Mohawks and feather boas, trying to find themselves and praying no one notices they’re lost.  I mouthed the words to songs and slipped like a shadow through the club, soaking up all the spilled drops of life stories. 

After a while, David and the Barstars came off the floor, and we did a round of Jaggerbombs.  “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers came on, and Barstar2 and I shouted the lyrics at each other.  She asked us if everyone from Stettler Line dances.  As she did, the only country song they play all night comes on, and it was “Cadillac Ranch” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, so in the back of the bar David, Barstar1 and I formed a line and showed them what we learn in Junior High School in small town Alberta. 

I was trying to be a good brother here, and wingman for David.  The problem is, he hadn’t chosen his Barstar of preference, so we kept switching girls.  Since he wouldn’t pick, I was waiting for them to do it for him.  They either couldn’t decide who wants whom, or neither is willing to settle for the runner up, or “Little Brother” prize, as I like to call him. 

This went on for a while, and at some point later in the evening, we got separated from the Barstars, who find guys who will buy them drinks to impress them.  Suddenly, they seemed very thirsty.  David is poor, and I was just sober enough to remember it’s often a mistake to hook up with a 20 year old Barstar.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t, but I’m not willing to spend fifty bucks to get her drunk to seal the deal.  Or twenty bucks.  We gave them another beer (which is a unit of time in which it takes us to consume a single beer, we really weren’t buying them drinks by this point) to choose cool over guys who have nothing to offer but a drink, and then headed over to say goodbye before we grab a cab. 

They were super disappointed, but they walked away from us, so we returned the favour.  David grabbed both their numbers, and they were also disappointed when I don’t ask.  They have little to offer me outside of their little black dresses, except being out of their little black dresses, and I’m not taking a rain check on that.  Barstar2 hugs me goodbye, which catches me unaware, and is really awkward until I call her clingy.  David and Barstar1 laughed, and she caught on that it was a joke.  She seemed to learn an important lesson about whoring herself out for vodka slimes. 

David and I took a cab back to my place, where he crashed on the couch.  I have a very small stash of Aquarius, and after drinking hard for twelve hours, I decided to pre-cure my hangover. 

This is what magic looks like

As I fell asleep, I thought about how after I go to most clubs, I don’t want to go back ever again, or at least for six months.  I never get that with the Back Alley.  I was ready to go back the next day…


Final Rating: 5 Star

As stated above, I love the Back Alley, so that get all the stars:

  • Drink Star
  • Staff Star
  • Price Star
  • Music Star
  • Atmosphere Star


Seriously, did you go to Joey’s Twitter yet?

Liquor Ban

Read about how Alberta joins liquor ban in national, provincial parks for May long weekend

As far back as I care to remember (1998), May Long Weekend has been a time for camping.  It’s usually the last snow of the year, and like some pagan festival, Canadians send our young adults out to celebrate the change of seasons.  They suffer rain, snow and sleet to welcome the coming summer.  They drink and fornicate in excess, so the Great Sky Beast knows we are ready to welcome it’s Time of Ruling. 

The Mighty Skybeast

This year, Banff National Park placed a liquor ban on all its facilities over May Long.  Following the example of the most important campground in Canada, a number of other National and Provincial Parks declared their own ban.  The reasoning provided by officials is that this will reduce vandalism and noise complaints. 

To be fair, when I look back over my storied May Long career, I do find several … questionable instances.  On more than one occasion, K2, a friend from high school and a champion drinker, would decide to go down the back roads at three in the morning, extremely inebriated.  He would hit every sign he came across with the prow of his enormous truck.  I’m not condoning drinking and driving, and I wouldn’t get into the truck with him, but at the time no one got hurt and it seemed pretty funny. 

Older as I now am, I can see how the noise complaints would be a problem.  I now have friends with kids, and they should be able to take them out camping without hooligan shouts keeping them up all night.  Traditionally, I’d be one of those people, out at the campfire until five in the morning, making too much noise. 

But this liquor ban changed my May Long plans.  I don’t have kids.  I want to be at a campground where we drink late into the night.  I want to pour a rum and coke into a travel mug in case a warden comes by as I wonder to neighbouring campsites to introduce myself.  I want to be surrounded by nineteen year old girls who are eager to impress and experimenting with making terrible decisions.  In the morning, I want to wake up to the breakfast beer, the camping treat, the one time you can drink before 10 a.m. and it’s socially acceptable.  I want to tend the fire and go for walks that lead to revelations, and return to stare at the flames in a drunken haze. 

I can’t be bothered to research to ensure I go to the right campground.  I suspect a number will determine they’re dry at the last moment.  There are other types of camping I enjoy, which don’t involve drinking.  Those types also usually involve a campsite more remote than those in a National Park, and a fair bit more planning.  Since May Long is about irresponsible drinking in a tent for me, I’ll stay in the city, and hit up patios and wonder around Princess Island Park.  It’s not the same, but I don’t feel like spending the whole weekend sober in a tent. 

Normally, I would just use all the tricks I learned in university, to drink in places I’m not supposed to drink.  There’s a small arsenal of clever prestidigitations, recipes and containers that are innocent to all but the most intense inspection.  But they’re really for drinking in movie theatres, or lecture halls, or getting from one party to the next.  Camping is about having a keg in the river and a Texas Mickey on the picnic table. 

Just so non-North American readers know what a Texas Mickey is..

Being this is the first time they’ll be shutting down the drinking, I suspect the Mounties will be out in full force.  They’ll confiscate your booze and write you a heavy ticket for something that’s been an accepted tradition since at least 1998. 

My camping this summer will all be on private property now.  Kodie’s family has land on the shore of Slave Lake.  Tall might be able to secure a cabin in the Rockies.  We also talked about going down to Waterton, and going to the U.S. side. 

In Alberta, the drinking age is 18.  People come here to tie one on young legally from other provinces and sometimes from Montana.  It’s surreal to be considering the States as our drinking destination, with their history of prohibition and their ridiculously high drinking age, just to celebrate an Albertan tradition. 

Being drunk in the wilderness.

We Should Know Each Other

After the lacrosse game, S1, one of my co-workers, and a bunch of her friends were headed back to her place for drinks.  I was invited, and the thing about a girl offering me drinks at her house is it’s gonna happen.

Not … not sex, of course.  But I will drink anything at any girl’s house.

It helps that S1 lives two blocks from me, so I can stumble home when I’m sufficiently inebriated.  Everyone loves their own bed.

Five Bad Ideas

Five Bad Ideas

At some time, every one of us makes poor decisions.  The guy who decided new needed to do shots at two a.m. did.  So did I, when I drank it.  And maybe several more.  I don’t really remember.

I do remember pain.  I woke up with it taking up most of the bed.  Why couldn’t it have just been a three hundred pound buffalo of a woman?  You can just ignore her until she gets the hint and leaves, and go on living your life-like it never happened.  Instead, my head was bursting.  There were things in my stomach that didn’t want to be there, and demanded out.  I obliged, and it was a long and painful morning.  I kept trying to drink water, but it just dissolved more alcohol that wanted to leave again, or however science works.

Magic Hangover Cure

Magic Hang Over Cure

Why doesn’t this stupid country have Aquarius?  Seriously, a bottle before bed kills a hang-over, and if you forget (polite for pass-out) it still does wonders the next morning.  But no, all Canada has is water.

Seriously, Fuck Water

Seriously, Fuck Water

Fuck water.

Anyways, by noon I was ready to eat a cubic metre of grease from McDonald’s.  It helped a little.  By that point, I was only a tiny bundle of agony.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting better fast enough.  That night was the “We Should Know Each Other 50” party my roommate A1 wanted to bring me to.  A buddy of his had been having these things for years, parties where cool people could meet up and find each other.  He assured me it wasn’t a key party, but I agreed to go anyways.

I’m not good with strangers. I have an odd sense of humour, and I know it.  Without someone there who knows when I’m joking, and therefore laughs, I alienate people.  In the three years I’ve lived in Calgary, I can count the number of new friends I’ve made on both hands.  This party is where I needed to go, just not as death warmed over.

Where No Boots Are Made

Where No Boots Are Made

But I went.  It was at the Alberta Boot Company, which doesn’t make boots anymore.  It’s a hollowed out building that rents out its space.  It’s also across from the scary downtown Bottle Depot.

Don't Get Too Close

Don't Get Too Close

We paid our $2 cover, which went to the space rental.  Inside, they had set up a few different rooms.  The main space was set up for bands, and also had a makeshift bar, which I had an astonishing lack of interest for.  Some of the bands were really good, like the guys who rocked out some Jewish folk music.  Others weren’t so good, like the guys who thought a high pitch whine was a note.  At first, I thought it was just speaker feedback, but it turns out those guys hated me.

Another room held icebreaker games.  There were standard questions built into ingenious little devices.  There were wheels you could spin to play “Would you rather be … Or …”  There was a board with questions that you could shot an air pumped die onto, to break the ice.  There were a few more I can’t really describe, and I didn’t get pictures of them.

There was also a Lego room.  The floor was covered with years and years of Lego, more than I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of Lego.  People hung out and chatted as they built stuff.

It was all really cool.  Unfortunately, I was not.  Still suffering, I was more than a touch insufferable.  People who knew me didn’t talk to me long, as I had little to say, and a more permanent grimace than Ronald McDonald.  I managed to offend an ex-girlfriend, which is something I rarely accomplish by accident.  New people had no interest in getting to know me, and at that point, the feeling was mutual.



It’s too bad.  I was really looking forward to the party.  As the night went on, the atmosphere got more and more bar like.  The party was on Earthday, so at 8:30 the lights went out.  About then, it got too much for me.  Darkness, loud bands, and an inability to communicate drove me out of there.  If I manage to get another invite to one of these parties, I’ll jump all over it, and avoid S1 and her late night shot parties the night before.