Writing

So, a few days ago, a beautiful and talented woman asked me what I was working on creatively.  I was embarrassed by the answer, and it was only made worse because she was super hot and better at art then me.  Basically, if you’re reading this, you know I’ve done nothing in months, and very little all year long.

I’ve got to change that, and that’s going to take some concerted effort.  Basically, I’m going to regularly need to make sure I keep writing.  I may make a couple of changes around here to make sure that happens.  I’m also going to need to look after my other stuff, like my deviant art page.  I might make some formatting changes to my blog.

One of the things I noticed is I’ve become a little insecure about the things I like.  I watch a lot of fantastical movies and tv shows, and read books where extraordinary things happen, but I don’t want to write about that.  I need to figure out how to let that go.  If I read Game of Thrones, then there’s nothing wrong with writing fantasy.  When I watch Supernatural, even in to Season 7, where it gets next to unwatchable, why can’t I write some horror stories.

Although, something I might start doing more of is scenes from songs.  I get a lot of strong imagery in my mind’s eye when I listen to music.  I’m going to write more of those.

Basically, I don’t care what you think.  Unless you’re a beautiful and talented woman, then I care that you think I make good art.  The most important lesson I learned from my Creative Writing Professor in University is that the point of art is impressing cute girls on the off chance it will get you laid.

Published in: on November 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The English Lit Geek Tour

I studied English Literature in University.  A lot of English Literature was written by the English, and back when they had an empire, they were pretty self-obsessed.  I’ve read a lot of books, plays, and poems that take place in and around London, and there are certain things I really wanted to see when I was there.  Fortunately, Gilly did English lit in University as well, so she was willing to humour this plan. 

We had only one day before we were heading out to Derby, so I had to give up Jack the Ripper, ghostwalks, and visiting jails to see these things.  My professors should be proud.  Also, I could have chosen a trip based on Monty Python and Doctor Who, but that would have lead to Gilly abandoning me at best, but more likely murdering me in a fit of justified rage. 

The first place on my list was Shakespeare’s Globe. 

 

This isn’t the original theatre, which burnt down in Shakespeare’s lifetime.  This is a replica built near but not on the actual site.  They used all the information they could find about the dimensions, building materials, and lighting. 

Cashmere goat hair walls, 14 sides, and natural lighting.

 

While they do plays here, two a day, we showed up when they were doing King Henry IV Part I, which is a shitty play, and King Henry IV Part II, which is the sequel to a shitty play.  Yeah, Shakespeare wrote shit, and we should all recognize that just because he was brilliant, it doesn’t mean we have to pretend he never fucked up.  We just took the tour, because I refused to watch crap in that theatre. 

We went to Trafalgar square, which was awesome: 

Monumental, even.

 

and about this point, I got lost.  I’ve got pictures from wandering through Oxford, and Piccadilly circus, and Regent street, but I’m not sure which is which.  

But I don't need to know where I am

 

To find cool stuff

 

Or entertain myself

 

Finally, we reached my last destination, Hyde Park 

 

We were at the Speaker’s Corner end, and Gilly was exhausted from me making her walk most of the way across London, so she rested while I listened to crazy people yell nonsense.  Seriously, they weren’t making words. 

We had hoped to see a show that night, but it was a Sunday, and there wasn’t much playing, and less that was good.  I would have loved to see Avenue Q, which is like the R rated version of the Muppets.  I was also willing to see Phantom of the Opera, or the sequel, Love Never Dies.  These were both better than Henry IV, because you may not know it, but those could be the Batman of the Opera plays.  But there wasn’t tickets to anything that wasn’t shit. 

But there was some serious shit.

 

So we headed back to the hostel, to do some relatively unblogworthy eating and drinking. 

Next time: Derby Shire.

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.

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?

Tommy Burger

I barely made it back from Portland in time for Tall’s birthday.  He wanted to go out on Friday night, and I was landing at midnight.  Being the unstoppable force of nature I am, I planned to take a cab home, drop off my bags, and catch up to the party.  The day before I left Oregon, I got a text, saying the festivities had been moved to Tommy Burger on Saturday afternoon.  That meant it would be easier to get there, and Kodie could pick me up at the airport, because he was no longer going to be at a party.  Everything was coming up Joey.  

 

A few months earlier, one of my coworkers, W1, had told me about a restaurant downtown where they served gourmet burgers, like a $40 Kobe Beef burger with lobster and white truffle Hollandaise sauce.  Only in Calgary, kids.    He told me about their wild game burgers, like elk, and the tuna, turkey, and bison.  Gilly was slightly disgusted for what passed for classy in Alberta when I told her about this place.  She couldn’t believe we would be willing to make burgers out of Kobe beef. On the drive home, Kodie was worried about the cost, but glad it was close.   

The next morning, I realized I was wrong.  W1 had told me about Lounge Burger, not Tommy Burger.    

Where we needed to be...

Where we needed to be...

 We were not going to the above restaurant.  My first concern was that Tommy Burger was a far ways South down McLeod Trail.  I called Kodie, who after all these years was still surprised I could be wrong.  His boyfriend, Shawn, was at work with his car.  We called him, and Shawn had thought to find the restaurant before he needed to leave.  He swung by to pick me up, and we grabbed Kodie and headed south.   

   

Tommy Burger turned out to be high-end casual dining rather than gourmet, which suited me better.  Casual dining, for those unfamiliar, means a restaurant is nice but not pretentious, the sort of place you aren’t ashamed to bring a date, but you know every item on the menu.  I don’t have a highly refined palate, as evidenced in my wine country tour.  I will eat anything, and I would try an ostrich burger, or whatever rich people insist on eating, but I generally prefer something simpler.   

We walked in, and the hostess was a beautiful blonde girl in a short dress so tight it looked like she had been dipped in half a bottle of ink.  I decided it was probably best I did the talking, since it would be wasted on the gays.  I told her we were there with people, and gave Tall’s name.  I was about to say something witty and charming, the details of which I won’t type here so that I don’t get promises of undying love from women I’ve never met, but then I remembered she was a hostess. I used to work in a restaurant, back in university.  There I learned the true reason restaurants have hostesses.  Sometimes, a jaw droppingly gorgeous girl will come in and apply for a job.  You would never guess by looking at her, but she turns out to be sixteen.  Alberta law requires servers to be eighteen in a licensed establishment.  Minors can only be employed in positions that don’t handle alcohol.  A restaurant does better with attractive serving staff, and a hostess is an investment in the future.  She has a job right out front, drawing customers into the restaurant, and she starts to learn how things are done.  When she turns eighteen, she can become a server.  

A Classy Interior

A Classy Interior

Jailbait is jailbait.  I bit my tongue and followed her to our table.  We were about twenty, so they put us in a section where our long table had walls on three sides, with just one opening into the rest of the restaurant.  The décor was designed to subtly remind one of a 1950s diner, but with enough restraint to keep it from being tacky.  Over half our party was there, so I let someone else entertain Kodie and Shawn while I perused the drink menu. 

What’s this?  Tokyo Iced Tea?  

Tokyo Iced Tea

Tokyo Iced Tea

Kiwi?  I fucking love Kiwi.  Our waitress was tall and smiled easily, and was too busy to give me her undivided attention.  I stopped flirting and sent her off to get one of these tiny wonders.  

Really, look at that drink.  Think about how good it could possibly be at its best.  It was better than that.  David showed up, and I told him needed to try one.  “Joey, that’s just a long island iced tea with kiwi.”   

“Yeah!  Kiwi!”   

He decided to sit at the far end of the table to avoid me.  I assumed he just didn’t want to compete with me should our cute waitress have three seconds to spare.   

Tall is a giant, and he eats like one.  Meals out with him generally include appetizers, to maximize the amount of food he can possibly consume in a single lifetime.  It was 2:12 by that point, and all that was sloshing around in my stomach was Tokyo Iced Tea, so I figured I had better get a starter.  Then I saw them; Kobe beef sliders.  Despite living reasonably near Kobe in Japan for a year, I never had their beef.  There was enough other exciting food.  Gilly might be right, putting Kobe beef in hamburgers, even tiny hamburgers, might ruin it.  

Also pictured; Shawn's bucket of poutine

Also pictured; Shawn's bucket of poutine

But trust me, sliders are not ruined by Kobe beef.  They were juicy, without being fatty.  I bet that’s what angels taste like.  They were amazing.   

For the main course, you could choose a prebuilt burger, or build your own.  I perused the ingredient list, and found a dilemma.  First of all, they make tamago burgers.  The Japanese may not know a lot about burgers, considering the fact that they won’t put Kobe beef in them, but there is one piece of burger technology they have perfected.  Everywhere you go, every chain, has a tamago burger.  First you take a regular burger.  Then you add a fried egg.  Then you’re done.  You’re welcome.   

But next to the second greatest hangover cure in the world (after Aquarius), was another burger-vation.  That is an innovation specifically related to burgers, by the way.  They would put a pineapple on my burger.  I love pineapple.  Pineapple makes me consider the possibility of a loving god who understands my taste buds.  So now I had to choose between tamago burger and pineapple burger.   

Some of you are probably thinking “Pick both!”  That’s a dangerous option.  What if the savory glory of the egg is compromised by the pristine tang of the pineapple?  In the past, I have melded such diverse ingredients and created chimeras of fantastic taste splendor, such as the Unholy Cheeseburger Pizza.  But that day was not the day to see if fried egg and pineapple mix.   

Mostly because they probably don’t.   

Instead, I had them put on fried onions, bacon, aged cheddar, and I went with pineapple.  

The Burger as Art

The Burger as Art

Some of you might not like the fruit, but let me tell you, this was as good as pineapple gets.  Imagine the best possible outcome for this burger.  Now add 25%.  That’s how good it was.   

 Tommy Burger was high end casual dining.  While it wasn’t the cheapest burger I’ve ever eaten, it didn’t break the bank.  It was worth every penny.  It was one of the best.  Top three, actually, after Freshness Burger and Hawaiian Kitchen in Koichi, Japan.  But if you’re not willing to leave the country, you may have to make due with Tommy Burger.  

 You know, which is like making due with a Rachel McAdams/Jessica Alba threesome.  

So Far, so good...

So Far, so good...

What? No Amy Smart? I'm out of here.

What? No Amy Smart? I'm out of here.

 

Tommy Burger gets 5 stars from me, and if you don’t go check it out, you are either a vegetarian, or you hate yourself.   Which most vegetarians do.  

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Ratings Breakdown:

 Full Stars; Food, Drink, Staff, Price, and Atmosphere.  

Five Star Total

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If you are a Calgary restaurant, and you’d like to have Joey review your restaurant, send an email to joey.stadelmann@gmail.com.

Oregon Miscellany

Portland from 30 Stories Up

Portland from 30 Stories Up

There are several Oregon items that don’t quite merit their own posts, but they’re good.  I’ll collect them all here:    

Micro-breweries: Apparently, Portland is the micro-brew capital of the world.  They have approximately 3 micro-breweries on each block.  Any beer which is bottled more than a dozen at a time is despised, and generally unavailable to prevent riot.  Instead, everywhere you go, someone offers you a beer you’ve never tried.  There are lots of good ones, but by Oregon law, you may never drink the same beer twice.  Ever.    

Wineries: As above, but with wine.  Also, I don’t really care about wine without a Stretch Hummer.    

The British and Rivers: Chris asked Gilly why the English were obsessed with finding the source of rivers.    

“What do you mean?” she asked, confused.    

“British people are always trying to find out where rivers come from.  Like where does the Nile start, or the beginning of the Amazon.  You’re all obsessed with it.”    

“Where did you get that idea?”    

“I’ve been reading books by an English author, and every one has finding the source of a river was a major plot point in each book.”    

“Maybe it’s just that writer.”    

“Maybe.”    

“I mean, I went to the source of the Thames, and it wasn’t impressive.”    

“See!  No one else would care!”    

We’re an All Natural Commune: Portland is a green city.  It’s good for the world, and the ease and access of bike trails and public transit are admirable.  Sometimes, they go a bit far.  Everything is all organic, done/made by hand, and locally produced, and it’s very important to the average Portlandian.  They seem to think the rest of the world is a poison cesspool full of robot created Chinese death.    

As I was leaving, Chris was worried that I didn’t bought any completely natural, handmade Portland goods.  I told him, “I think that’s more important if you’re from Portland.  Akiyo laughed so hard I thought she was going to burst a blood vessel.  I think she may be tired of hearing about the wonders of handmade organic Portland goods.    

Sales Tax: Oregon has no sales tax.  It’s the only thing anyone knows about the state up here in Canada.  Txt Girl, a cute girl who lives in Vancouver and texts between every heartbeat sent me three messages when she heard I was going.  Each expressed her jealousy that I could shop without paying sales tax.  People in Portland try to convince you you should buy an extra metric tonne of handmade organic goods because there’s no tax, and you could just ship it home.  They refuse to understand that the freight would be higher than G.S.T.    

Gilly’s Detective Skills: Gilly joined me on the couch as I was working on a blog.  Because the whole internet will see it later, I let her read over my shoulder.  She pointed to where I had written Gimtmbifhbsic.    

 

     

It looks like this in the Black Book

It looks like this in the Black Book

    

That’s not a word,” she told me.    

“You’re a great English Teacher.  It’s a code.”    

“Why are you writing in code?”    

“I’m not sure if I’m going to put it in.”    

“But why bother with code?”    

“So if you see it, you won’t know what it says.”    

“Are you worried I’ll be mad if you write ‘Gilly is mean to me, but I forgive her because she is cute’?”    

“…no.  And it’s not slander if it’s true.”    

Food Stands: On third and fifth street in downtown Portland, there are outdoor food stalls like the ones at Skidmore Market.  The food is great and inexpensive.  You have to try them if you get the chance.    

Powell’s:    

It's bigger than it looks

It's bigger than it looks

Powell’s is an enormous second-hand bookstore.  They have new titles as well, and they’re stored on the same shelves, so if there are no used copies you can still get the book.  It’s divided by the Dewey Decimal System, and I think it may be bigger than the University of Lethbridge library.  They certainly have more rare books.  It is several stories tall, and divided into sections like literature, genre fiction, true crime, travel, foreign language, and each ends up with its own room, large enough to be a lesser bookstore.    

When I see this, I hear Choirs of Angels...

When I see this, I hear Choirs of Angels...

Bookstores are fiscally dangerous for me.  It happens like this; I see things I want, I buy them, and I don’t worry about when I’ll actually have time to read them.  I tore through the building, abandoning Gilly in the first room.  When she caught up to me, 45 minutes later, I had shown great restraint.  I only had three books I had to buy.  There were eight more I was seriously considering.  They were the sort of strong maybes that would become yeses with just a little time.  Gilly had much stricter requirements.  She wanted something small (even by book standards) due to the weight restrictions on her luggage home, cheap as this was a used bookstore, and unique enough she might not find it somewhere else.  She needed more time.    

I realized I was about fifteen minutes from a euphoric bookstore breakdown.  This would have led me to drain my bank account and max out my credit card.  There was no tax, so I could just ship all those books home.  Before all logic drained from my brain, I bought the books under my arm and headed to the attached coffee shop.  I waited there, downing mochas for two hours while Gilly gave the store the attention it deserved.  I kept thinking I should get just one more book.    

Akiyo Plays Volleyball: In Japanese school, if you join a sports team, you spend hours each day playing that sport, a level of dedication reserved strictly for hockey in Canada.  Akiyo played volleyball from Junior High until she finished university, and we went to watch one of her community league games.    

Akiyo is sweet, energetic, friendly, and modest.  When she’s playing volleyball, she’s all those things and a force to be reckoned with.  She tends to call thing out in Japanese.  For example, when she serves, she yells “Hai!  Ippun!”  She can play any position, and play them well.  She was dominating the games we watched.  At one point, when she was serving, she scored ten consecutive points.  She would serve, and before you knew it, she was at the net, spiking the ball back with more force than she could have possibly contained.  She was everywhere at once, and the other team was terrified of her.    

Gilly Makes a Wish:  Gilly didn’t want to go back to work, and wished she didn’t have to fly back to the UK.  The next day, a volcano in Iceland exploded, interrupting all air travel to Great Britain.  The airlines lost over $200 million a day, and I encourage them to talk to Gilly about it, because correlation equals causation and this is her fault.    

A Ride in a Convertible: Chris’s care is a two-seater green convertible, which is cool but not practical when he, Gilly, and I need to go somewhere.  We kept walking or talking trains, but eventually we needed to drive somewhere and couldn’t find a larger car to borrow.  Chris informed us that there is a way to fit three.    

We pushed the passenger seat all the way back, and I sat there, being much bigger than Gilly.  She crawled in and sat on the floor between my legs.  Even though she’s tiny, it was a tight fit, with my legs squeezing her ribs.     

In order to avoid being pulled over, Chris decided to stay off the main roads.  The street we took had speed bumps.  Before we reached the first one, Gilly instructed “Make a cushion with your hands behind my head.  I don’t want to head butt you in the crotch.     

As I do, Chris informs us “Usually, the third sits facing the person in the seat.”    

I take a moment to think of how that would work, with Gilly’s face colliding with my business.  It is not an image of pain.  “You can turn around if you want,” I suggest, with my smirk in my voice.    

Just then, we hit a speed bump, and I catch the back of her head as it flies at me, too quick for comfort.  “You can move your hands, if you want.”    

Gimtmbifgbsic.    

Going Home: I decided “Fuck Bombardier Q400s” on the way home.  Alaska Air my charge $6 for a tiny bottle of vodka, but I wasn’t going to get pass-out drunk on beer.  I had to shell out.  I finished my first, and try to get my second.  Apparently, we were too close to descent, and the attendant wouldn’t bring me another.    

Sweet Escape

Sweet Escape

I grab a few quick drinks in Seattle, and formulate a plan for the next flight.  I slammed the first.  I figured if I went fast, I could get 3 down in an hour and not think about how much I hated the deathtrap around me.  You think the flight attendant got without shouting range at any time before we hit turbulence?  Because that would be a big no.  I think they were hiding from me.

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Is there a story about you and Joey you’d like to hear him tell?  Want to know his warped perception of some event?  Good news, he’ll take your requests, about that time you met, what he remembers about you, or that fucked up time in Cleveland that no one really wants to remember.  Send him a message through WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or email and he’ll write it and let you know when it goes up.

Late Late Breakfast Show

For the sake of honesty, I should admit this is more of an advertisement than a review.  I have something of a relationship with the Late Late Breakfast Show. 

Late Late Breakfast Show

A few years back, Lina came up to Calgary because some friends of ours from university were doing sketch comedy in The Late Late Breakfast Show.  I wanted to hang out with Lina, so I agreed to come along.  I didn’t have high expectations, but I figured I could at least support my friends. 

But there’s the key; my friends were heavily involved in the show.  These people made me laugh in conversation, so give them some practice and some props and they were killing me.  With laughter, not props. 

Lina came up for the next couple of shows, and I went with her each time.  We tried to hang out with Amos and Gavin, but when you do a show, the cast bonds.  If you go for drinks with a group of actors after a performance, prepare to be left out of conversations and inside jokes.  They’ve worked their asses off together, and they’ve bonded in ways your lazy ass can’t be expected to understand.  Lina and I were often talking in the corner when we headed out with the cast. 

As time went on, I started really becoming a fan of the show, to the point where if all my friends quit, and the show went on, I would still go see it.  Some of the sketches, like “Cheese,” “Jacked,” “Sad Hearts,” and “Pat Quinn’s Dracula” really grew on me.  As is the way of life, eventually there came a show Lina was unable to attend.  So I brought Kodie.  I kept bringing people, and the show was fine with expanding the audience. 

I had reached official hanger-on status when I went drinking with some of the performers, and it wasn’t because they were going out after the show and I was tagging along.  I was just invited.  They were brainstorming, and I kept throwing in my two cents.  I made them laugh, and advanced some of the ideas.  When I went to the next show, about a month later, a couple of my ideas and lines had survived through the writing and rehearsal process and were there in the show. 

I fucking loved it. 

A little while later, Amos became my roommate.  Living with an actor, you’re going to run lines, and if you live with a writer, you’re bound to read over their work.  It’s just a fact.  They will make you.  By default, I was more involved in the shows, just by virtue of who I lived with. 

One day, Amos told me “Oh, you’ve got comp tickets to the next show.” 

“What?  Why?” 

“Contributors get comps.  We’re doing A.I.D.-sy” 

A.I.D.-sy was a sketch that came out of a conversation Amos and I had a month earlier.  We joked around about what would happen if someone told you they had A.I.D.S. and you had trouble distinguishing it from the hiccups. 

I’m a classy guy.  A classy guy who loves free tickets! 

By the next show, I submitted scripts and collected comp tickets.  I believe in working collectively, and that the actors know their craft.  After I submit the written work, they are free to alter it.  The cast found a much better ending for “Action Boner” than I could. 

There’s a show this week, from Wednesday to Saturday (more info here).  I wrote three things for this one; “Bigfoots,” “Capes,” and “Behind the Couch.”  If you’re reading this, you’re probably been tricked into thinking I’m funny.  If you want to see what real professionals can do with my words, come and check it out.  Or, if you’re like me, and enjoy things that are funnier than the shit that asshole Joey writes, enjoy all of the show but these three bits.  I’ll be at the 8 p.m. show on Friday. 

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  Performance is at the Bird and Stone Theatre, located in the basement of the church at 204, 16th Ave NW Calgary.  Shows run from Wednesday April 28th to Saturday May 1st, at 8pm nightly, with additional 10 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday.