Leonard Cohen in Concert

When I started listening to Leonard Cohen, he had been living in a monastary for 5 years.  I pretty much assumed that, like most of the music I started to listen to when I started university, it was by someone I would never see live.

Which is fine by me, because I prefer the prefection of a studio recording.  I like it to be exactly how the artist wanted the music to sound, because they could retry if they didn’t like it.  So, I assummed from when I first began to worship the man as something like a god, except far more powerful and actually real, I would never be in his presence.

Because I decided that years ago, I didn’t realize, until I pulled up wikipedia to write this blog, that he toured in 2008 and 2010.   But shut-up.  You don’t know what your favourite band is doing right now, so back off.

When Old Ideas, his newest album came out in January, I fell completely in love with it.  It is amazing.  It’s a beautiful look at mortality and regret, and it’s uplifting and heartbreating.  It’s aboslutely amazing, and when I learned he was touring, I was like a hawk on the ticket release date.  I was going to get me those tickets.  I registered with something or other to prebuy, and got myself floor seats on the Saddledome.

I picked up two tickets because I assumed I would find some cute single girl to take with me, because I have a completely off idea of who Leonard Cohen fans are.  See, most of the times I talk about music, it’s because I’m trying to impress a girl with how good my taste in music is.  It’s usually some really cute crunchy granola girl who cares about the world and buys clothes at second hand stores, half for the irony, and half because they care more about art than money.

Basically, her.

So, I’m looking for these girls, and they’re not showing up.  Then I start looking for other people, who at least like Leonard Cohen.  Sure, they exist, but everyone I talked to either ended up busy on the night of the show, or they weren’t interested in several consecutive hours of his music.

So, like I always do in times of great crisis, I made Kodie my solution.  I forced him to come along, because somehow, after 20 years, I can still talk him into my plans.

When I got there, I found out that the average Leonard Cohen fan is a little more…

…this…

I mean, he was born in 1934, so I’m not quite sure why I didn’t think a 78 year old genius wouldn’t have gathered fans over the years, and lots of them had known about him since … before I was born.  I mean, there were some cute young girls there, but they were spaced out amongst a sea of silver.

So I got myself a Saddledome crack-beer, and we found our seats.  And then everything was amazing.  Leonard Cohen bounded onto the stage, so full of life and energy.  He loved the crowd, and we loved him back.  He was funny, and engaging, and his songs brought him to his knees with the remembered pain and the perfect catharisis.

Every musician on stage with him was extraordinary.  They could have filled theatres themselves.  They were there to play with him.  Each one was a master, and everything sounded so … perfect.

And I was worried that my expectations would be impossible to live up to.

He played for an hour and a half, and then announced he was taking a break.  Back in reality, Kodie was … suprised to learn that we were only a half hour in.  He … he wasn’t having the blast I was, because he likes music by people who aren’t part of our grand parents generation.  He’s a little less “Hallalujah” and a little more “Call Me, Maybe.”

So we had an intermission, and then another hour and a half of great music.  Then a three song encore.  And then another.  The third standing ovation brought him out again, and he sang again and Kodie gave me this “I’m going to kill someone” look.  I assumed it might be me.  So we started heading to the door.  Leonard told us it was alright during the first encore.  “If you have someone waiting,” he said “Go to them.  If you have time, friends, I’ll sing a few more songs.”

He’s the best.

But Kodie told me that I now owed him.  Kodie never says that.  He just puts up with my ridicilous bullshit.  So basically, if Cher does another fairwell tour (her third, I guess it would be), Kodie’s boyfriend is off the hook.

 

 

Worth it.

 

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 5:13 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.

Drinking in Stettler

It’s been ten years since I lived in Stettler full time.  A decade.  Sure, my first few years of university, I came back for the summers, but that just isn’t the same.  While I still have family there, none of my friends live there anymore.  Hell, none of my friends parents live there.  I don’t know anyone in town I’m not related to anymore.

David wanted to go out on Friday night, and I had nothing else to do, I tagged along.  We headed out to one of his friends apartments, and I recognized it instantly.  Kodie used to live there.

People tend to come to Stettler to settle.  They have families, and they want houses with big back yards so the kids can run around, and some are there to retire.  People don’t move across town often, and when they do, it’s a big deal.  The last time my parents moved, it was because our house burnt down.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I think it’s pretty admirable to find a place where you belong and make it your own.

The problem is not everyone knows where they belong.  When you reach a transition phase, say when you’re done high school and don’t know what you want to do with your life, there’s not a lot of options in Stettler.  People want to move out, but there’s not a hell of a lot of places to go.  People tend to buy houses, not rent them.  Most of the people in the few apartment buildings plan to live there their whole lives.

So if you want to move out of your parent’s house, and you’re not ready to leave Stettler, then there are about three places you can rent.  Ten years ago, Kodie lived two suites down from the apartment we went that night.  We walked in, and it was like a time machine.  I didn’t realize how much I’d raised my standard of living.  I don’t really hang out in places with that many bugs anymore, or that many empty bottles.  You could tell the poor bastards that lived there had been given the dubious honour of being the standard party hosts.  Everyone just assumed they could come there to drink, and they didn’t really say no.

We hung out for a while, and … and it was Stettler.  We didn’t have much else to do but play drinking games.  We did something called Three Man, which was kind of like a drinking version of craps.  So … a bunch of guys sat around the table, making each other drink.

University is worth it, without a degree, just for the gender ratios.

So we drank, and I told them I was old so that I wouldn’t have to make myself sick, and they kept going.  Then we had to go down for the cab they had called.

I was… shocked to say the least.  Each day, my walk to work would take me right across Stettler.  There’s a real problem in town with cars.  No one realizes you rarely need a car, and people drive more often than needed.  If you aren’t carrying stuff or transporting small children, you can probably walk it.  To give you a hint of how little we needed it is the cost; we herded drunks like cats and they guy left the meter running so that the cost was six dollars.

We went to Social Bo’s, which is the one bar in Stettler that pretends to be a club and nearly succeeds. 

Look right across the bar

It has had several names, the earliest I remember is the Kowloon.  It sits in a little strip mall, and used to be attached to a restaurant.   Bouncers stand at the entrance, and there’s a bar and a shot bar, but if the music was off, you could have a conversation across the room.  It’s really not that big.  People dance, instead of sitting at their tables nursing beers.  Well, people still sit at their tables, mostly guys who are afraid to be seen dancing.   Most of Stettler’s bars are pubs with old guys sitting around looking sad.   I’m not saying I’m a big fan of clubs to begin with, and the makeshift version in Stettler, well, it depresses me.

What really hit me though, were the patrons.  Anyone who’s still in Stettler at my age generally has a couple of kids, and won’t be found in the bar.  No, the people there are either in or just out of high school.  As I looked around the bar, I realized that most of the people there probably hadn’t started the first grade by the time I left high school.  I felt old, in a I need to get out of here. 

They may be blurry, but I assure you, they also may be underage

David decided to stay because he knows who was actually of age, and has lower standards than me.  I just … I couldn’t.  I don’t belong there.  He asked how I would get home.  I reminded him it was Stettler, and then walked for ten minutes.

And I don’t think I’ll be back at Social Bo’s.  I’m too old and it’s too creepy.  I couldn’t even stick around long enough to give them a review.

But it probably would have come up as creepy.

Published in: on October 25, 2010 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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Miniblog: Halloween Costumes

My birthday is in early October, and over the last couple of years, it’s become something of a tradition that my sister Kim makes me a Halloween costume as a gift.  This is incredible.  She works in the theatre, and the quality of these costumes is amazing.

This year, however, I’ve hit a bit of a problem.  I’m not sure what to be.  I already wore an awesome Caesar Romero Joker:

Not Heath Ledger's Joker

and a superb Goblin King:

If you haven't seen Labyrinth, you live a sad life.

But now what do I do?  I’ve got a couple ideas, and I’m looking for advice.  I know I want to do a pop culture costume, but do I go with classic pop culture, and ask her for Indigo Montoya:

If you haven't seen the Princess Bride, I pity you

Which is awesome, if people get it, but otherwise kind of looks like a random pirate.  I mean, if I keep asking people about six fingered men and such, it’ll be fine, and I bet I can talk Kodie or Shawn into the Dread Pirate Roberts, which is an easier costume, because he’s pretty much Zorro, and see if we can get Tall into a Fezzick costume, completing the set and making it more recognizable. 

Alternatively, I could go super recognizable with Luigi:

It's a me!

It’s fun, people will get it, and who doesn’t want a Luigi costume to go go-karting or to a party.  It’s super fun, but it’s … it’s almost not worthy of Kim’s incredible skill.  Is this the one?

Or do I go a touch more modern and obscure with Dr. Horrible:

If you haven't seen Dr. Horrible's Sing a Long Blog, you know the drill

People might not get it, but if they don’t, I think Mad Scientist is better than pirate.  If people do get it, they’ll fucking love it.  Getting Tall into a Captain Hammer costume won’t be tough.  This one also includes no fake mustaches, so there’s that.

I love all three.  I really can’t decide, but I need to, quickly.  So help me out! 

If you want to explain your choice, leave a comment.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

 

 

I went to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World this weekend with Kodie and Shawn.  Because it was opening weekend, we went rather early.  Shawn is now pretty deep in the world of comics these days, and in case you didn’t know: 

 

Scott Pilgrim was a comic first.  Shawn was pretty certain with the limited screens playing the movie, it would be tough to get tickets. 

These fears turned out to be unfounded.  The audience seemed made up of two groups: fans of the indy comic it was based on, and Michael Cera fans.  Michael Cera has a lot more fans than the comic, because who hasn’t seen Juno, or have some friend that constantly bemoans the cancellation of Arrested Development, like it was the holy grail of television programming, and there has never and will never be a better sitcom. 

Didn’t they ever see News Radio? That’s the best sitcom ever.

  

I absolutely loved this movie, but I doubt that will be common.  As we were walking out, people all around us had a great time, but also seemed confused.  I over heard three separate hipsters mutter about how they didn’t get it.  How often do hipsters admit that?  Even Kodie had a little trouble wrapping his head around it. 

While I haven’t read the original comic, I did spend a lot of years at University studying English, so I’m pretty good at understanding how a story works.  I’m not saying I’m smarter than people who didn’t get it, just that I have the training to spot what was going on.  See the movie worked on a conceit, an extended metaphor.  What happened on screen meant something else, and it never explains itself explicitly.  

The basic plot is that Scott, a slacker bass player in a no-name band, starts dating Ramona Flowers, who is the girl of his dreams.  Literally.  The first time he sees her, he’s dreaming and he hasn’t met her yet.  In order to date her, he needs to defeat her seven evil exes, and each one is like a boss battle out of a video game. 

The movie is beautiful, the fight scenes are great, and it’s really funny.  Even if you don’t entirely get what’s going on, it’s a hell of a fun watch.  Kodie’s favourite part is that it’s set in Toronto, and very Canadian, from CBC t-shirts to the self-depreciatory national humour.  They also do a very cool thing with the pacing of the movie.  How Scott feels about things changes the way the cuts are done.  When he’s spaced out and ignoring the world, you’ll suddenly be snapped into a situation, and Scott is more confused than the audience.  When things are great for him, days fly by in seconds.  When things suck, time drags itself out.  I do recommend it to anyone. 

While this is kind of a romantic comedy, it’s great in how human it remains.  See, Scott is kind of a douchebag.  He has major flaws, and the reason he doesn’t have a girl friend is because he fucks things up.  He’s not the standard Michael Cera character who’s a great guy who chicks just don’t notice.  He says and does stupid things, and a lot of his problems are his own fault. 

Now, this next part isn’t really spoilers.  It’s my explanation for that extended metaphor, and if you’d rather watch the movie and try and figure it out for yourself, stop reading here. 

Okay, so here’s how it works; every battle is Scott dealing with his issues.  He’s got to overcome how he stacks up with her first boyfriend, the boyfriend who does all the things he can’t, the boyfriend who does everything he wants to do better, and issues like that.  The magnitude of each fight is based on how much trouble he has overcoming the problem.  Usually, Ramona needs to explain herself for him to move past an issue, but even that isn’t always enough. 

I think I know how I got this, when a lot of people seemed to miss it.  It’s not just the English training.  It’s also the fact that I process emotions in a similar way.  Lina often laughs at the way I apply rules and systems to a chaotic world to make sense of things, as if there’s an underlying order if you can just figure it out through the static.  Scott does the same thing by looking at his problem through the lens of a video game, where there are bosses to beat, points and powerups to collect, and a set end point he believes he can achieve to have beaten the game. 

I’m not saying that I ever imagine fighting my girlfriends exes in my mind’s eye, or craft huge narrative in the back of my head.  I mean, that would be crazy, right?  I certainly don’t do exactly what Scott’s doing in the movie.  At all.  That would be weird.  Right?  Cause I don’t do that. 

And the fights aren’t awesome and epic.  I don’t feel so good when I finally trounce those opponents, usually when I don’t care about who or what they were.  They totally don’t make amazing stories I wish I could represent visually, or even share without a whole bunch of masking so that no one nows. 

…AT ALL.

An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Some might say its unethical to promote work done by your friends as an impartial view. I’m certain literary critics are friends with authors and that Ebert probably eats with Spielberg and Bruckheimer. So you can go talk to them about integrity. Besides, I’m being upfront about the fact that I’m friends with Gavin Williams.  

I'll steal his promotional images to promote his play

  

That doesn’t change the fact that his An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder is a great play. In 2007 it won the Calgary Regional One Act Play Festival.  And the Alberta One Act Play Festival.  That means someone more impartial than me liked it best of all the other one acts. When I saw it at Loose Moose, there was a featurette attached called “The Receptionist” Lindsay Mullan performed physical comedy for about 10 minutes, alone on the stage with a single word of clearly audible dialogue. She was fascinating, bouncing around with unbounded energy, and every time I was certain there was nothing more that could be done with a strange and lonely receptionist, I was both wrong and entertained.Once Lindsay’s piece ended, the main play took to the stage. Gavin wrote, co-directed, and played to protagonist in “An Informative Guide on How to Climb the Corporate Ladder” so I feel very comfortable calling it his. It follows how one is hired, disillusioned, and stays with a terrible job in a huge company, tempered with Gavin’s caustic wit.

 The cast was perfect. All three members slipped in and out of the various roles assigned to them with ease. You never needed to guess who they were at any give point, as their demeanour and body language suited each role so completely.

The set was simple and functional, as this is very much a one act festival piece. Everything was basic and multifunctional, so it was easy to set up and strike the set.

The eerie part of the play is how well it predicts life with a corporation. It touches on every annoying aspect of that world, every justification you make to stay, every frustration that makes it nearly intolerable, and every shred of futile hope which paralyzes you into inaction. Kodie ended up with the exact same terrible shame as I did for making every one of the mistakes hi lighted in the play. We were entertained the whole way through, and harrowed when we really thought about the content of the piece. Basically, if you watch this play, you will want to quit your job.

 Of course, afterwards, when I told Gavin that, he told me the real message was “Joey, kill yourself.” That explains why he looked directly at me several times throughout and whispered those words, but I guess I missed the real message.

***********************************************************************************************

If you missed the show here in Calgary, you’re not out of luck!  Gavin’s taking it to the Edmonton Fringe Festival.  It’s the coolest theatre event in Alberta.  For more shameless plugs/shows I would definately see, check out Happy Whackin’ Jim McCrackin. You’ll here more about this play from me next week.

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.

Finding Home

Nique is rarely around.  She’s in Chicago most of the time, learning to be a doctor.  When she comes home, she usually doesn’t have a lot of time.  She has too much doctor learning stuff to do, so she can’t be away for long, and it’s too expensive to come home from school often.  When she is home, she needs to see family, friends, and spend some alone time with Ren, who she’s been dating for several years.

Like the jerk I am, I always emotionally manipulate her into allocating more of her visiting time to me than is fair, or appropriate.

Ren and I have been hanging out long enough that he’s seen through my clever tricks, so for Nique’s most recent visit, he acted as her personal assistant, controlling all communication between her and I, ensuring I didn’t steal 72 of her 144 hours in Calgary.

Well played, Ren.

They decided to have dinner with me, Tall, Kodie and Shawn on a Tuesday.  They asked me where I wanted to go, and of course I told them the Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club.  It’s where I always want to go.  This isn’t a review, because that’s an excuse to go back yet again.  I mean, they’ll be getting 5 stars.  I mean, look at this –

Down there, at the bottom...

They never took down the furniture store façade.  That’s awesome!  The whole place is so Renegade Folk that it nearly puts me to shame.

But this is not the review.  That’s for later.

As usual, I had an awesome time while there.  I didn’t have enough time to get from work to the gym, home, and back to the bar in time for supper, so I brought an extra change of clothes and went to Palomino’s from the gym, getting there twenty minutes early.

I sat at the bar, enjoying a Corona.  The bartender and I chatted a bit, and we both knew every word to every song that came on the radio.  We both sang along, not loudly, not karaoke style, but it created this sense of belonging.

Kodie, Shawn, and Tall showed up just as the sun came out.  We took a seat on the patio, and Ren and Nique arrived moments later.  We talked about old times and new plans, and all the hoops Nique still needed to jump through to be a doctor.

The specifics really don’t matter.  We laughed, ate until we were stuffed, and drank to a happy buzz.  One thing I’ve found in my adult life, especially in Calgary, is I rarely have what I would call a home feeling.  There hasn’t been a consistent place where I’ve felt completely at ease, not since I left to live in Japan.

I am comfortable at my place, but there’s no sense of permanence in my apartment.  I doubt I’ll live there this time next year.  I feel like a stranger at Loubagga’s, mostly because I don’t know his girlfriend as well as I should.  Matt, Tall and Lina all have houses, but I always feel like a special guest in those places.  They’re happy to have me, but it’s a given that I’ll be leaving.

But somehow, on the back patio of a downtown bar, I felt like we could stay forever.  I was at complete ease with good friends.  There was nothing we needed that we didn’t have, nothing pressing, nothing missing.

It was so damn near perfect, I couldn’t even tell you what was missing.

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.