Friday, November 29, 2013


Nothing says true love like dragging your fiancé to the KISS concert.  Did she have any desire to go?  Irrelevant.  It's like asking an Eskimo if they like winter—dude, all I have is winter.  It's like asking an Eskimo if they like being called an Eskimo—probably not, but we are going to go to the KISS concert anyway.  

I personally love KISS and they have been a staple in my life since my friend and fellow metalhead Greg introduced me to KISS back in the mid 80s.  They didn't have any makeup on at the time—so basically it was a bunch of middle-aged men in ripped T-shirts and tights playing some hair-band songs.  (It was better than it sounds.)

Anyway, back to the concert.  Stacey is my fiancée (I like writing fiancée instead of girlfriend because it makes me sound older than 12 and also the computer automatically adds the thingy on top of the "e".  Very cool.)  She was a good sport and said that she would go to the concert, and could I make a mix CD of the bands hits? 

I was yeah.  About that.  They don't really have any... hits... exactly.  I can show you a picture of fireworks and maybe a cannon exploding?  Would that help? 

I was listening to KISS the other day in the car and it sounds very different when there is a fully-grown adult female in the car.  Suddenly "Room Service", "Rocket Ride" and "Uh All Night" don't seem as cool as when I was fourteen years old. 

I have some buddies of mine who come over about once a month and we jam downstairs.  We played a KISS classic "Deuce", which is a dirty song by Gene Simmons.  I tried to explain that the song that we played downstairs was by KISS!  I'm not sure that helped either.

So despite all of these efforts, we still wound up going to the concert.  Now let me say first of all that the band had just toured Japan and Calgary's show was originally scheduled back in July, before Godzilla destroyed the town and Iron Man & The Avengers showed up and beat the bad guys and destroyed downtown and all of High River in the process.  So the Saddledome was destroyed but KISS said it would take more than that to keep rock and roll from coming to Calgary!  More specifically, a paid gig is a paid gig, and these guys are showing up and taking our money.   

The first KISS album came out in 1974, so these guys are old with a capital "Oh My God these guys are old".  Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are the original members, and they are both in their sixties.  They were joined by Tommy Thayer on guitar, who is now dressed up like the Spaceman, but originally was an assistant for the band.  He literally used to clean Gene's gutters on his house and now he's the lead guitarist.  Talk about a promotion.  The drummer is this guy Eric Singer, who I was most excited to see.  He's actually been around since the early 90s with the band, and I love the drumming.  So to see Eric Singer in person was awesome.

They played a bunch of hits, and there was so much pyro that at one point I thought we were getting invaded by Obama.  I won't spend any time talking about the songs or the music, because there isn't much point—a KISS show isn't about the music.  There was a full house, and literally every person was smiling, singing along, or clapping.  So I don't care what the critics say—the fans were there and it was a great evening out. 

And at the end of the day, that is what it is all about—big dumb fun and having a great time with the fellow KISS army.  A big thumb up from this KISS fan—and I hope that when I'm in my sixties, I have enough health and energy to parade around in my spandex while yelling at people and sticking my tongue out.  You know—growing old gracefully. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


          Girls love hearing the engagement story, so dudes, you had better make it a good one.  We were on vacation in Paris and I decided that it was time to ask my girlfriend Stacey to marry me.  This was it.  I went out and bought the ring, and then the games began.
          First of all, I wondered, where am I supposed to hide a diamond ring?  The obvious answer is in the suitcase, except that I pack like a junior high school student’s locker.  I just take clothes and kind of stuff them in.  There’s no folding, there’s no organization.  I would never find the ring again.  So here was my big plan: I stuffed the ring in the bottom of a pair of shoes that I was bringing along, and then put a sock in the shoe.  Brilliant.  Just to make it not look suspicious, I stuffed another sock in the other shoe.  I told myself this looked normal, even though no one in the history of mankind has ever stuffed socks in shoes when they travel. 
          Who’s looking in my suitcase you may ask?  Here’s my other foible: I don’t really “do” laundry.  I put a pair of Lulu Lemon pants in a dryer once a couple of years ago and I was pulled from the game.  Apparently Lulu Lemon pants cost a fortune because they are the greatest fabric in the world—they can withstand sweating, stretching, exercise, et cetera—but if you put them in the dryer they are destroyed.  So the coach pulled Wiebe from the game and now I am holding the clipboard on the sidelines when it comes to laundry.  Don’t get me wrong—I am not complaining.  I can supervise the washing and the drying of the clothes and watch football at the same time.  If the dryer catches fire, I will grab a fire extinguisher during the commercial.  That is the extent of me doing laundry.  So Stacey has “all access” to the suitcase since I will just put stinky underwear back in the suitcase.  It’s not an issue (for me, anyway) because I can tell, most of the time, which clothes I have worn before. 
          So the suitcase has shoes in there, and the shoes have socks in there, and there is a ring hidden in there somewhere.  We wound up in Paris, France.  My big idea was to propose at the Eiffel Tower.  This was the plan.  If you haven’t been to the Eiffel Tower, then you are probably thinking “wow, that is the greatest”.  If you have been to the Eiffel Tower, then you know that this is a terrible idea.  I will explain now the difference between the marketing of Paris and the reality of Paris.
          The marketing: you show up at the Eiffel Tower via a horse carriage.  Everything smells like lavender.  You put away your parasol and ascend the beautiful Eiffel Tower to the viewing platform.  Some dude with a pencil moustache appears at the top with an accordion.  You gaze out over the river and the Arc de Triomph and suddenly you whip out the ring.  The girl starts crying, she screams yes and you kiss on top of the world.
          Enter reality.
          First of all, there are gangs of gypsies roaming around the Eiffel Tower.  This is what we were told upon arrival.  Watch out for the gypsies.  They are everywhere!  What would have been helpful is if someone had explained to me what a gypsy looks like.  I was picturing Little Steven from the E Street Band, but that was just an old guy with a bandana.  Then I thought of some guy with a turban and some pointy slippers, but I am pretty sure that was a genie.  So I decided that logically, I should be terrified of everyone.  I walked into the horribly long lineup to the Eiffel Tower with my hands in my pockets, guarding the ring, my wallet and my fingers.  They weren’t taking anything! 
          There are actually two lineups to the Eiffel Tower. Line up #1 is for VIPs like us who bought advance tickets.  This meant that we were in a small lineup.  Then there were all the schmoes who just showed up.  They were in a way longer line.  So we were feeling like big shots until we got near the front of our line. 
          The lines merged right at the elevator.  So this meant that if you were pushy enough, you could just get into this “mosh pit” of people who were trying to get on this elevator. 
          There are four towers at the Eiffel Tower.  One lift was operating.  So that meant that you had one tiny, rickety elevator that was built in the 19th century to haul a bunch of pushy, angry and impatient tourists to the top.  The doors opened and we pushed forward.  I expected to hear Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow” blare out of the loudspeakers.  I am pretty sure that I crushed a Spanish lady’s foot and I didn’t show any remorse.  I stand by my decision and I’m sure she will heal someday.  We made it onto the elevator—I was pushed up into the corner, my hands stuck firm inside my pockets.  I was hoping that Stacey was on the elevator.  If she wasn’t, she did her best and she would be missed. 
          When the doors opened, people scrambled off with the same ferocity as when we got on.  Being Canadian, I have been conditioned to act with at least a tiny amount of manners, so that meant that me and my girlfriend were the last ones off the elevator.  We caught our breath and stepped out onto the observation deck.
          The winds were horrible that day, my friend.  You know it is bad when you use “winds”.  As in plural.  Wind is normal—hey, we are golfing today, watch out for that wind!  “Winds” means that people and property are being blown away.  The winds on the top of the tower were fierce.  I whipped out my little iPod to take a picture and it almost blew away.  We look like we are smiling in the pictures, but we are gritting our teeth and trying to remain on the concrete. 
          “MIND THE PICKPOCKETS” blared over the loudspeaker every 10 seconds.  It’s hard to propose when you are hearing this over and over again.  We were constantly frisking ourselves, making sure that phones, cameras and money were still in our pockets. 
Me: I think that you are very special—
Me: I would be honoured if you—
Me: Umm...
 Me: Watch out for that guy!

          This went on for a few minutes, and I abandoned the plan.  The observation deck was out.  Instead, Stacey said that she wanted a glass of champagne.  They have one guy, in one booth, at the very top and all he sells is champagne.  Awesome.  So we buy a glass of champagne and we hand the guy a 20-Euro note. 
          He tells us that he has no change.
          Really.  You are working at literally the most famous building in the world, at the top, and you only sell one item.  He seemed surprised that anyone was actually buying anything.  I imagined that he phoned down to his supervisor on the ground floor.  “Hey boss, you are not going to believe this.  Yeah, we finally sold a glass of champagne.  I know!  I know!  That’s what I thought.  Who buys this stuff?  Anyway, we have no change.  I never thought to bring any up when I started my shift.  Yeah, bad planning on my part, but in my defense, I didn’t think that any tourist would travel all the way to Paris for champagne!”
          We enjoyed the view and finally stuffed ourselves back in the squeaky elevator and made it back to solid ground.  That was okay, I said to myself.  I was going to propose on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower.  Just as romantic.  It’s still on the property.  Still counts.
          So we went to the supermarket and bought some picnic stuff—some long bread, some wine, and some fruit.  Perfect!  We picked out a spot on the lawn and ate our bread and enjoyed the majesty of the Eiffel Tower.  How romantic! 
          Then we saw the gypsies.  These creepy-looking young guys were wandering around asking people to sign some document or petition.  But they were laying the paper down on tourists’ purses and belongings and trying to do the old “steal your possession” trick.  Get out of here gypsies!  For the record, they were wearing regular shoes—no pointy shoes, just regular sneakers.
          So they finally went away and we starting eating again.  With eyes darting around on the hunt for creepy gypsies, or genies, who human-rights advocates who wanted me sign a petition, we began eating grapes and drinking Cherry Coke. 
          I reached into my pocket to pull out the ring, and it was just then that three girls from Japan set up shot six feet away and decided to spend the next 20 minutes jumping up and down and taking pictures.  And I mean jumping up and down.  Like jumping jacks.  I don’t know what kind of cheerleading they have in Tokyo but these girls had some energy.  There was the “pointing to the top of the tower”, the “chest bump”, the “standing on each other’s shoulders”—they must have taken 300 pictures.  There was selfies, twofies, and a threefie in there at some point.  Anyway, the park was out.  Forget the park.  It wasn’t going to happen.  We finished the lunch and Stacey declared that she was ready to go home.
          Think, man, think!  If it didn’t happen at the Eiffel Tower, where else could I propose?  The French Army Museum?  There was an Apple Store at the Louvre—in my defense, I had like ten seconds to run through different places.  I loudly declared that it was time to go for a walk around the park first.  I made up some story about memories, and we should smell the flowers—if she wasn’t suspecting something before, she would very soon.  I haven’t voluntarily smelled a flower in my life and I wasn’t about to start.
          We quickly got on a pathway and I proposed in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  It was private, romantic and wonderful. 
          I guess even great wine takes some grape-stomping, so I don’t mind that we had to stomp on some grapes in order to create a great memory.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Have you noticed that the local 7-Eleven has introduced a huge grill near the cash register?  They have taquitos, sweaty weiners and all sorts of sausage-like things dripping on the grill.  This is already in addition to selling cigarettes and lottery tickets.  It now takes 10 minutes to get through a lineup at the store.
I'm a simple guy.  I like to get a slurpee once in a while.  Okay, okay—every day.  But my point is, I have my change ready.  I know how much the slurpee is.  The coins are in my hand.  Boom, boom—in and out.  However, recently some head honcho at the 7-Eleven marketing head office has sent out a memo that asks—no, DEMANDS—that all staff try to upsell stuff at the till.  Full disclaimer: I have not actually seen the memo.  I have absolutely zero evidence that the memo exists.  However, I picture the head office guys all sitting around smoking Players Menthol Extra-Filtered 7-Eleven cigarellos and eating 7-Eleven nachos dripping with complimentary 7-Eleven chili and cheese and then, like convenience-store Zeus on Mount Olympus, they hurl a lightning bolt (the memo) from the mountain (the head office) to the normal working-class people below (the clerks).  Shame on you, convenience-store Zeus!  I curse you and your delicious slurpees.
Here's how a typical conversation goes at the 7-Eleven:
Clerk: Hey, what's up, average person buying one item.  Is that it for you?
Me: Hello.  Yes.  Just a slurpee.
Clerk: Hey, did you want anything from the grill?
Me: No.  No thanks.
Clerk:  Spicy Sausage?
Me: No thanks.
Clerk: Taquito?
Me: Nope.  I'm good thanks.
Me: Ha ha.  Yes, I heard you.  I'm good.  I don't want anything.  Just the slurpee.
Clerk: Donuts are 2 for a dollar.
Me: No thanks. 
Clerk: Come on.  Two for a buck!
Me: Seriously.  I seriously don't want anything else.  I literally just want the slurpee.
Clerk: Please buy some lottery tickets.  I will give you a bag of free chili sauce.
Me: Please stop.
Clerk: There is a green chili pepper in the bag of chili sauce.  I saw it with my own eyes.
Me: If I buy something, can I still punch you in the teeth?
7-Eleven has also started another disturbing trend—sticking as much garbage as is humanly possible on the checkout counter.  Can I set my slurpee down in order to hand over cash?  Nope—not unless you want to knock over the display of 60 Tic Tac boxes!  What's the matter, you don't like FRESH breath?  And by fresh, we mean cotton candy flavoured pellets.  What's this?  Why yes I would like three slabs of beef jerky that have mysteriously appeared in my version off to the side.  It should be a counter, but now it contains meat.  Great.
There are always three clerks that work at the 7-Eleven at any given time, but for some reason, two of them are always—and I mean always—counting inventory.  They are counting magazine, bags of chips, cigarettes, lottery tickets—while one poor soul works the one cash register as the Soviet Union breadline grows longer and longer into the horizon. 
Here's a thought—there will be less to count if you sold items!  Ring that cash register!  And no, I don't want any nacho cheese-flavoured paste on my rolled up Mexican taquinto. 
But I might have a Tic Tac. 

Monday, July 1, 2013


The other day I'm sitting in my living room, watching educational television ("Money Morons" on TLC counts) and I noticed that my neighbour put up a flag pole.  No, that isn't code for some weird night on the town—they really put up a 30-foot high flag pole in their front yard.  And then the next day I noticed a big ol' Canada flag flying at the top of it. 

It looks weird.  Don't get me wrong—they did a great job—the pole has yet to fall over and crush any small children playing in the cul-de-sac.  But it is just strange as a Canadian to be outwardly proud.  Take the United States, for example: have you ever seen their veterans driving around town?  They usually have a liscence plate (or decal) with a massive American flag, a bald eagle, fireworks, choirs of angels singing and Osama at the end of a pitchfork being roasted.  Meanwhile, in Canada, we have a completely normal license plate for veterans, except we give them the poppy.  Hey, you invaded Juno beach and took shrapnel in the shoulder?  Here's a poppy.

Don't get me wrong—I love the American patriotism.  But I also love Canada and here's my top 5 reasons (in no particular order).

1.  Guns.  I am almost forty years old and I have never been shot.  Not even once!

2.  Medicine.  I sprained my ankle once playing soccer.  I drove to the hospital in the middle of the night and received a scan, some drugs, and a visit from two nurses and doctor.  And the parking cost more than the medical service.

3. Infastructure.  If I ever turn on the faucet and anything other than clear drinking water comes out, I am outraged.  (At least in theory I would—it has never happened).

4. Government.  I have no idea what religion any of my elected officials are.  I also don't know how many kids any of them have.  Or what they are up to at this exact moment.  I don't really care.  All we really get passionate about is how much tax money they are spending and how good (or horrible) a job they are doing.  I love our undramatic and short elections.  I appreciate the fact that I can bitch about the government and no one shows up and takes me away in the middle of the night.

5. Human Rights.  Around eight years ago, Canadian Parliment had one vote and legalized gay marriage nationwide.  And most everyone in the country said "sure, that makes sense that human beings all have the same rights.  Now quiet, there's a hockey game on!" 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I'm pretty excited to be going to the KISS concert next month.  As if the Calgary Stampede isn't crazy enough—let's have KISS show up during Stampede on a Saturday night.  It will be a fun mix of drunken metal heads, country bumpkins and baffled, jet-lagged tourists.  Hopefully the smell of deep fried Mars bars will make everyone get along.

KISS nowadays are super old—Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are both in their late nineties and there are two other dudes (Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer—known as "the other guys") in the band.  So it is safe to say that the glory days are behind them.  But it should still be a great show because it will be very loud, and something is guaranteed to blow up.  I like high art. 

While wandering around the library the other day, my girlfriend casually handed me Peter Criss' new biography called Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss.  I broke the "no sqealing" rule and I'm pretty sure that the librarian shushed me.  (Kind of rude, since some junior high kids were "studying" in the corner, and I could totally hear one of them talking on their phone.  Be consistent, librarian.) 

Anyway, the biography is great—Peter Criss was the drummer in KISS and was also my personal favourite in the band when I was a kid.  I dressed up as Peter Criss for halloween on more than one occasion—it resulted in lots of candy in my pillowcase, but no women flashed me.  

 So far, three of the four original KISS bandmates have released biographies:

Gene Simmons released Kiss And Make Up (great title—I guess whoever releases the first book gets the perfect title).   It is a really interesting read, and it shows what a terrific businessman Gene is.  He is a big fan of comic books, women and making money.  There aren't many seedy details on the biography, but he does talk a surprising amount about the business side of things (music, entertainment, television, etc).

If you are the type of person who likes to slow down and survey the wreckage after a car crash, check out Ace Frehley's autobiography No Regrets.  Really?  You have literally no regrets?  This is the guy who wrote a song about getting drunk, wrecking his car, disfiguring his face and almost dying.  Hmm.  I regret missing an exit while driving through Los Angeles last year—this guy is getting the jaws of life in 1982 and he's like "no worries, man!"  It's a great read and I learned some great "life tips"—like how many bottles of champagne I would be able to drink in the morning before I would need to get my stomach pumped. 

Peter Criss released Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss in late 2012.  Like almost every autobiography, it starts with him holding a gun, on the verge of killing himself, blah blah blah.  That is just standard fare for an autobiography.  Of course he doesn't do it, or else the book would be extremely short.  Just a head's up—if you ever see a three-page autobiography in the bookstore, chances are high that the guy pulled the trigger. 

The Criss book is filled with "real life" on the road—four young guys trying to make it in the late 1970s.  While KISS Army fans look at Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter as rock gods, Peter Criss shows that they are flawed, regular dudes who seem to fart and whip their genitals out a lot.  Whether it is backstage, in the hotel room, or even in the van, it's always a good time to whip it out and just see what happens.  There is definitely some mud slinging in this book.  One of the main reasons I keep my junk in my pants is that I am terrified if I show it off, someone is going to write about it forty years later.

Although it is a main ingredient in an autobiography, one complaint I have about the read is that the story is being told by one of the guys in the band.  As good as that is, you may not be getting the whole story.  Gene says that Peter is druggie, and Ace drank alot.  But Peter says Gene is a bloated windbag Ace drank alot.  Ace can't remember because of the drinking.  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  If you are interested in a biography on the band itself, I reccommend Kiss And Sell: The Making of a Supergroup.  The author does a good job of not only talking about the crazy success, but also the 1980s, when KISS was struggling to fill stadiums while wearing feather boas and no makeup. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


(because I am not a dick).

So here is the deal with the new Star Trek franchise: when you say you "like Star Trek", or you don't like Star Trek, what exactly are you referring to?  This is the problem that has plagued Star Trek for the past 40 years.  Which "Star Trek" is currently in the movie theatre? 

Look at Star Wars as a comparitive for example.  There's six movies.  That's it.  Now, I know that there are video games and books and action figures and cartoons, but basically, for 90% of us, when we think of Star Wars, we think of the original three movies (the good ones) and then the next three movies (which are the first ones, or the bad ones—this may be confusing, so let's refer to them as the "Jar Jar" ones).  I would pay $20 to kick Jar Jar in the binx. 

This newest Star Trek movie reboot is loosely-based on the 1960s TV show.  When J. J. Abrams rebooted the franchise in 2009, I gave a big ho hum.  It wasn't even a "boo!" - I just didn't care.  The Star Trek Franchise has gone on the following run in the past 40 years:
  • Original Series (1960s) - virtually nobody watched it
  • Original Series (reruns) - watched it when you were sick and home from school
  • Next Generation (1987) - lots of people really enjoyed this show
  • Deep Space Nine (1993) - okay, we are starting to get a little tired of this
  • Voyager (1995) - good lord, even baseball only has 162 games
  • Enterprise (2001) - I am officially terrified of turning on my TV at any time of the day or night for fear of seeing Star Trek.
Plus the movies!  There were six "Original" movies and then four more with the Next Generation cast.  That's a lot of Trek.  More like Star Bleecchh!  (Thanks Mad Magazine.)

However, J. J. Abrams got every thing right with the 2009 reboot.  It is designed for people who would not normally go to a science-fiction movie—the movie has great characters not bogged down with years of backstory, and the action is second to none. 

That brings us to the newest installment: Star Trek Into Darkness.  Quite simply, this is a perfect action movie.  I loved everything about it so I won't just drool like a nerd and leave—instead I will rave about Benedict Cumberbatch, who is a british actor.  He plays the villain in the movie.  If you ever get a chance to watch BBC's Sherlock, you will see how great an actor Cumberbatch is.  (Plus Sherlock stars Tim from The Office, or maybe you know him as the Hobbit.  Anyway, Sherlock is a fantastic show).

As much as the action is the driving force in the movie (big crashes, fist fights, etc) - there are a lot of really intelligent, strong characters in the film and that is the backbone of any great story.  Every really good movie has a powerful villain who doesn't act like a villain (they think they are the hero), and this film has a perfect villain (Cumberbatch).  

If you don't like crowds or people talking on their cell phones, I recommend seeing a film during the workday. There were nine people in the theatre.  One guy sat down within forty feet of my seat and I was outraged. 

I watched the movie in 3D but I'm not sure how much that adds to the experience—in some scenes, the 3D is awesome, but in others, like when people are standing around, it can be kind of distracting.  I keep waiting for someone to throw a machete at me or something.  Anyway, I loved this film. 
At the end of the day, a great movie (to me) is one that you get to the end and you didn't look at your watch, or wonder about work the next day.  I was totally engrossed and loved it.  If you are a science-fiction fan or an action fan, check out the 2009 film (simply called "Star Trek") and then hit the theatre for a big-time action movie. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


I was flipping around on TV the other day and stumbled across a commerical for yet another horrible sit com.  It is set to premiere this summer!  (Never a good sign when the show premieres while 2/3 of the potential audience is out camping).  Fortunately, in this day and age, we don't have to settle for crummy, run-of-the-mill sit coms.  I turned off the TV and remembered a DVD I had grabbed a while ago.  (Well, okay, I turned back on the TV; I hadn't really thought that through).  I had heard about a quirky, arty show called Portlandia which originally aired on IFC back a couple of years ago.  I checked out the DVD of season 1.  

If you like Kids In The Hall, then you will probably like this show.  It is really, really weird.  Really weird.  Like "crushing your head" with your thumb and forefinger weird.  I always thought that Kids In The Hall was 20% brilliant and 80% weird.  This show is like that.  I guess it is no surprise since Lorne Michaels is involved in the show (as a producer), as he was on Kids In The Hall.  I doubt Michaels is sitting there for hours reviewing scripts, but it definitely has a similar feel. 

It stars Fred Armisen, who you might have seen from Saturday Night Live.  Although he has been on SNL for over 10 years, Armisen have never really been a household name.  On Portlandia, Armisen plays a number of characters, along with Carrie Brownstein, who was (and is) a musician, but also a very funny actress. 

Portlandia is basically a sketch show; each little five or six-minute sketch is absurd and off the wall.  The season opens, for example, with a music video about how stuck in the 90s Portland is, and then dives in to a couple who spend an eternity bombarding the waitress at a restaurant about the living conditions of the free-range, organic chicken that they are about to order from the menu.  After fifty or so questions about the chicken, they cannot bring themselves to order it and must instead drive thirty or so miles out of town to check the farm for themselves.  It is hilarious. 

I must say, for a small-budget show with no laugh track, shot on various locations throughout Portland, this show is worth a shot if you are in a weird mood and like weird sketches.  Did I mention it was weird?

Saturday, May 18, 2013


This just in: I'm old.  Well, I'm not 20 anymore.  So when Fleetwood Mac decided to pull the drum kit out from storage and tour, I had no problems agreeing to go. 

The Scotiabank Saddledome was actually almost full, which shows that there are either lots of Fleetwood Mac fans still around, even though they haven't had a recent hit in twenty years - or it was Friday on a long weekend a people had nothing else to do.  Either way, the Saddledome was very busy.

They opened up with "Second Hand News" and it was apparent right away that Fleetwood Mac actually wanted to be here - they thanked the crowd, looked relatively happy and could still sing the songs. 

My biggest complaint, as it is with any public event, was the people.  If you want to help society instead of be a dink, here are a few tips to make the concert more enjoyable for everyone:

1. Try flushing the toilet.  There is a little handle on the side of the toilet.  If you pull it, your six pounds of Soviet-Union-era borsche will disappear forever.  It's almost like the person just says, "Wow.  This is the most productive I have been all week.  I will leave this here so future generations can admire my handiwork."  No!  The Louvre is on my bucket list - stall #2 in section 119 is not. 

2. Try showing up on time.  This one is tough.  You know that phone that you are talking into during the entire concert?  It has a clock in there somewhere - probably next to the Angry Birds app or the Cappucino rating website.  Because when the lights go out, and 99% of us are sitting in our seat, we want to watch the expensive concert, not you shuffling down the row in the dark, hoping that this is actually your section. 

3. Try not talking for 90 minutes.  I admit, this one is basically impossible.  The two ladies sitting a few seats over had an anecdote about their kids playing soccer, and it was NOT going to wait just because Lindsay Buckingham has spent thirty years mastering the guitar and now wants to "show off".  Did Timmy win his division 3B intramural game?   I wish Stevie Nicks would stop singing, we need closure on this whole Tiny Mites story. 

Overall, the concert was great.  It was a good mix of playing the hits (Tusk, Gypsy, The Chain, Don't Stop, etc) but they also had a 10-minute drum solo from crazy old guy Mick Fleetwood which was really cool.  (He drums great for 65 years old - or any age). 

By the way - did you know that the "encores" at the concerts are actually set in advance?  They don't just decide to come back out and crank out a hit or two.  So when they leave the stage, and the house lights are all down... chances are very good that they are going to come back.  So when they say "goodnight!" and half the audience gets up and starts leaving, hang tight in the seat.  That way, when they come back for the encore, you aren't one of the legions of people now hanging out in the fire exits, wondering what all that racket is back near the stage.  And after the encore... when the lights come on... the show is over.  You can cheer all you want, but they ain't coming back.  When the light come on, THIS is the big cue to talk about your kid's soccer game.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I was complaining the other day - actually, it might have been a couple of months ago - whenever the Academy Awards were - that all the big press comes out for the big movies - your Transformers, your Lincolns, your Alvin & The Chipmunks - you know, the big tour-de-forces that drive the movie business.  But what about the little guy?  Well, I know what you are thinking: if there is one thing that I am known for, it is being a champion for the little guy.  Especially when being a champion means watching movies and then literally just typing while drinking a slurpee.  I am a champion.

I present to you some movies that have been overlooked.  These are not big-budget movies (and they are not new releases), but if you are flipping around on TV and realize that there is nothing on, check out these shows if you want something different.

Moon (2009): It always annoys me when some guy comes along and directs his first movie and it kicks ridiculous ass and then I discover that he is the son of someone famous.  I'm always thinking, "yeah, if I had famous parents, I would be a successful film director too!" and then I realize that I am wearing pajamas and eating cheezies while complaining instead of working hard.  Sorry, mom.  I will no longer blame you because I slept in until 11:00 am on the weekends. 

Anyway, where was I?  Right - Moon.  It was directed by Duncan Jones, who happens to be David Bowie's kid.  Arrgh.  How many geniuses does this family need?  This movie stars Sam Rockwell, who I think is a great, great actor.  He's it.  He's the whole movie.  It's a science fiction movie about a guy who works on the moon.  It also stars Kevin Spacey as a robot.  I don't want to give anything away, but some weird stuff happens on the moon to Sam Rockwell who is working up there.  All is not as it seems. 

If you liked 2001: A Space Odyssey, you will love this film.  It is big on plot and acting and no bounty hunters get lasered or phasered. 

Man On Wire (2008): This movie actually did win an Oscar, but no one really knows about it.  This is one of the greatest documentaries ever.  It is the story of a crazy high-wire walker named Philippe Petit who, with the help of his crazy buddies, strung a tightrope in-between the World Trade Center Towers and then walked out on them. 

The whole movie is plot and mystery.  The buddies aren't sure about the crazy french guy, the crazy french guy is on a unicycle and juggling, and then suddenly they are lugging 1,000 pounds of equipment up flights of stairs to the roof of the World Trade Center.  It is a beautifully-shot caper movie that really shows how insane the whole idea was - and it worked!  I am a huge fan of Philippe Petit and his interviews in the movie are worth the time - his face lights up at the thought of being arrested. 

The Cove (2009): If you find that you have too many dry hankies in your house, consider this movie about the Dolphin slaughter in Japan.  This film has a really important story to tell (about where food comes from and how it gets to your dinner plate) and from a pure entertainment standpoint, the plot is really interesting.  A group of activists join together like a G.I. Joe task force, complete with infra-red technology, spies and guys slinking around at night trying not to get caught.  It is a really great movie, although it is impossible to get through without sobbing uncontrollably.  So don't watch this one on your birthday or if you have to be out in public later.  But if you want to educate yourself about the struggles that some activists are facing, this is an absolutely amazing film.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


If you are ever talking to someone who is super old, but you aren’t sure if they are super old, just ask them if they enjoy reading.  If they say “no, I only enjoy biographies,” then chances are very good that they are at least sixty years old.  If they reply that they only enjoy biographies about war generals, then they are at least ninety.  (And thank you for your service!) 

I enjoy reading the occasional biography.  There are basically two types: biographies about really good people, and biographies about really bad people. 
Examples of good people:
  • business leaders / CEOs
  • inventors
  • doctors
  • sports athletes (preferably really successful ones who then have a substance-abuse or drinking problem)
  • rock stars (preferably really successful ones who then have a substance abuse problem—which is pretty much every single one of them)
  • military leaders

We read these biographies because we want to know what it is like to shoot the winning basket, make a ton of money, or sleep with the supermodel. 

Examples of bad people:
  • murderers
  • multiple-murderers
  • some guy who kills ALOT of people
  • sports athletes—who kill people
  • military leaders (if their side lost the war)
Here is my major complaint about biographies: they are very formulaic.  You can pretty much just grab a biography template and fill in the blanks.   

Every biography opens with the exciting part that we actually want to read about.  The sports guy is sitting in the parking lot thinking about driving his car off a cliff, or the rock star is in the hospital on life support and the doctor is screaming for a needle—a needle containing life SAVING drugs?  What a twist!  And we are only on page two! 

Then, unfortunately, the next part is the really boring sixty pages of the book where we jump BACK in time and start with the potato famine of the 17th century or some European plague.  Amidst all of this medieval-time boring stuff, a great-grandfather emerges.  Then we have to sit through the great-grandfather courting the great-grandmother.  Did you know that Hans Blichtenzing sat outside the Belgium cheese factory all summer in 1856 in order to ask Mary Ann Vleoptara for her hand in marriage?  We don’t care!  We are begging the author at this point—please fast forward two centuries to get to the guitar player who is shooting heroin already.

The best biographies are the “unauthorized” biographies.  This is because it speaks to the real reason that we are reading the book in the first place—we want some dirt!  Autobiographies can be super boring, because the person writing the book isn’t going to admit to the uncool things that they have done in the past.  Sure, they will admit to shooting the drugs, bopping the girls and making the money, but they aren’t going to readily admit to one thing—being a dummy.  They won’t complain about some accountant ripping them off or worse, being lazy.  They will only do this if it makes them look cool.  Example of uncool lazy: Hans took the summer off to eat cake instead of bodybuilding, and as a result, he lost the big Mr. Wonderful championship.  Yeah... not going to happen.  Instead, it is written that Hans was screwed over because of corrupt judges.  Poor Hans! 

Example of cool laziness: rock star is too lazy to write a new album—because of all the naked ladies running around his mansion!  That lazy bum.  We can’t stay mad at lazy guy.  He’s only human, and he’s a great guy!  At least according to his autobiography.    

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I travel a little bit for my job, and this means a few hours in a car, driving from town to town.  One of the big problems that I have, and I’m sure that you do as well, is staying alert on the road while driving by yourself.  After all, driving along a highway in a comfortable car can be tough—you have air conditioning or heat, plush seats, and (if the windows are rolled up) it is quiet and calm.

I never had this problem when I was younger.  I had a little hatchback that I drove around for a while when I was in university.  First of all, you will never fall asleep at the wheel or be bored if your car does not have power steering.  It’s impossible.  The other thing without power steering that is impossible is to actually turn the vehicle.  The first time I drove the hatchback, I was literally pulling out of the parking stall and getting ready to test drive it.  I wanted to turn right.  I thought about turning right, I felt I should turn right—my arms tried to turn the wheel clockwise, and the car just kept going straight.  The car decided that I needed to do more push ups, or maybe start injecting steroids into my bum.  I’m not sure.  Luckily I slammed on the brakes and the car screeched to a halt (well, more like slowed down from two miles per hour to a dead stop) and I loudly declared the car “undrivable!”.  Power steering is a huge advancement in technology—for those of us who don’t do “push ups” it is like the printing press or penicillin.

One of the nice features of that old car was that the glove box had fallen off.  I’m not sure where it went, but it wasn’t with the car.  There was a piece of cardboard where the glove box should be, which was great for the driver. The passenger would get icy winter air blowing right on their genitals.  I mean, it was a direct hit.  That kind of constant complaining keeps the driver alert in the winter. 

Anyway: you are out on the boring highway and you are in your comfortable, swanky, high-class car that has all the glass in the windows and the heater even works.  You snob!  Well, the joke is on you.  You are so comfortable, that you will eventually fall asleep at the wheel and veer off the highway.  Actually, come to think of it, that is not really a joke, but you get the point.  We don’t want that.  So here are a few tips to stay awake, alert and have some fun while driving to your destination!

1. Take off your shirt.  Now hold on.  Hear me out.  Of course, I am advocating this for the dudes only.  Unless, of course, ladies you are into that sort of thing.  In which case, try it out for a couple of months and see how it feels.  But if you are offended, then of course I am talking to the guys only here. 

First of all guys, you are going to notice your nipples quite a bit.  Keep your eyes on the road.  Trust that nothing in the car is going to bite or attack your nipples.  The air rushing around the car, as well as the concerned looks of other drivers will keep you alert and refreshed!

2. Sing to the radio, CD or mp3.  What I am talking about here is not just “humming” along or even regular singing.  I am talking full-blown Pavarotti.  Get into it.  Own the song.  If you enjoy ballads, then you should have tears streaming down your face as you pull into the hotel parking lot.  Making the devil sign if you are a heavy metal guy is okay, but just don’t head bang during turn off ramps.

3. Get angry.  Confession: I am slowly turning into my father.  I listen to talk radio now.  And part of me likes it.  Remember being eight years old and wondering why old people listen to the radio and it is NOT a rock band?  Well, I find myself listening to radio shows—sports interviews, political talk shows, and so on.  Sometimes listening to a conversation can be fun, but often the topic on the radio show is kind of boring.  The environment?  Please.  European debt crisis?  Snooze.  Hockey interview?  That is fine—if you want to drive your car off the road!  Instead, consider not only answering the questions yourself, but getting really angry while you are doing it.  Example: the host of the radio program is interviewing a financial representative about retirement.  The host asks about RRSPs.  Now forget what the guest is going to say—you don’t care.  Get angry!  Start ranting about how inappropriate that question is.  Why is he giving you, the financial expert, the third degree about finances?  How dare he!  Who does he think he is!  In this day and age, if someone sees you ranting and raving in the car all by yourself, it's no big deal—they just tell themselves that you own a Bluetooth.  Or maybe you have an imaginary friend.  Hopefully they won’t be judgemental.

Remember, if you get pulled over by the police: put your shirt on.  Turn down the radio.  Wipe tears from your eyes if it was a ballad.  Stop shouting.  Most importantly, have some fun!  Officers love that.  Try not to get tazed—although if you do, that would really wake you up.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


          Living in Canada, there is a tradition up here that happens every spring.  “Spring” is defined as when the temperature gets above freezing for more than twelve consecutive hours.  If you see a puddle of water outside of someone’s home, chances are very high that it is now officially spring.
          The tradition that I’m speaking of is the Canadian custom of taking off clothing as soon as it stops snowing.  I was out driving around town yesterday and I saw shorts.  Keep in mind, it was about eight degrees out.  You still don’t need a refrigerator at this point—just find some shade by an evergreen and put your milk over there for a few days and it would be fine.  There is some unwritten rule that says that if you can bare some legs and the blood technically continues to flow to your extremities, then you owe it to yourself—and society—to walk around in your shorts, a bathing suit, or even just some underwear on your way to the grocery store.  Hey, I’m not wearing a winter jacket, so apparently pants are now optional as well.
          My neighbourhood still has large patches of snow around, although there is some sad, brown goopy grass poking its stubby blades through some yards.  This means that it is time to rake the lawn!  One neighbour is literally raking the grass around the clumps of snow.  Is this really helping?  Isn’t this nature’s way of telling you to go inside and watch Wheel of Fortune?  It always seems to be the seniors who are doing this—I’m not even forty years old, and I can barely muster the energy to glance out the window.  Meanwhile, there’s an eighty-five year old lady raking her front yard like my cat in the litter box.  Scrape, scrape, scrape—well, I think all of the brown goop (leaves) has been separated from the other brown goop (grass). 
          If I ever lived on a farm, I think that the rooster would eventually get on my nerves.  However, the rooster is doing its job—the sun comes up and this animal is screaming at the top of its lungs.  Okay, I get that.  We have a similar situation it the city.  I call him “motorcycle guy”.  When spring has sprung, it is now apparently time to rev the motorcycle in the garage.  Mind you, the bike is not actually making an appearance at this point—it is like the space shuttle.  The bike needs about four hours of preparation time in the garage first before “launching” at seven miles per hour onto the mud-puddled street.  Hey, is that Buzz Aldrin on a motorbike?  I sure hope so—that would be about the only situation where I would be okay with four hours of revving a motorcycle in a garage.  (Because then I would have an astronaut as a neighbour, and I would put the mail that was addressed to me in his mail box so he would be forced to come over to my house to drop off the mail and then I would invite him in and spend the next three days demanding to know if the moon missions were faked.  Or we could just watch Seinfeld reruns.)    
          The thing I don’t get about motorcycles is that they don’t do anything.  Even a tiny car can carry things—like groceries or supplies—from point A to point B.  But a motorcycle just carries the driver and maybe, sometimes, in rare instances, someone else.  There seems to be ninety minutes of preparation time, which involves a leather scuba outfit, cowboy boots, and often a helmet with the spike on top.  Okay Kaiser.  Let me stop you right there.  You can tell that the government is making the motorcycle guy wear the helmet and he doesn’t want to.  Motorcycle guy is like “alright, I will comply with your laws.  I will wear the helmet.  However, I will affix a huge spike on the top of the helmet, so that in the event of a crash, I will become a human javelin.  I may be safe, but if I stab enough people, there will be a new law passed that says all pedestrians must wear Kevlar body armour when walking down the street. 
          Body armour wouldn’t apply to the legs of course—it is spring, after all.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013


It's March in Canada and that means one of two things: either it is 15 degrees and sunny, or it is -15 and blizzarding like crazy.  I live in the prairies, and it happened to be -15 and blizzarding.  What is there to do on the weekend?  I could sit at home and drink, but apparently society sees that as a problem.  The next best thing is to go out bowling! 

First of all, I am not sure that bowling is a real sport.  It's kind of like golf in that there seems to be 95% technique and about 5% physical fitness.  Just like going to the golf driving range, there seems to be drunk people doing the activity better than me.  Huge guts and large green Shamrock hats seem to be okay and don't impede on anyone's ability to bowl.

I tried going bowling a couple of years ago and my girlfriend and I wound up going to a casino where we heard there was bowling.  Hey, it's a casino - home of the free watered-down drink and broken-down senior citizen playing penny slots for 4 hours and costing them a grand total of $3.00 in change.  How expensive can bowling be?

Well, my friend, the stinky old casinos run by rich old guys has changed.  We got to the casino and the parking lot was absolutely packed.  We parked down the street in some construction lot.  The five-minute hike to the casino through muddy earth was spent wondering if the car was going to be towed or just run over by a backhoe. 

We got to the casino, sweaty and out of breath, and found out that UFC was going on.  Not the big, televised event, but rather some local guys.  On one hand, I had to respect the crowd for supporting local sports, but on the other hand there was something weird about watching Jerry the guy who bags my groceries at Co-Op pummeling the swim instructor at the YMCA.  Anyway, we were on a mission to bowl.  We walked past the slot machines and blackjack tables and found the bowling alley. 

Keep in mind, it was just the two of us.  So when we saw $60.00 per hour, I was a little flabbergasted.  I'm not getting my bathroom rennovated or my transmission replaced.  I just wanted to throw a bowling ball into the gutter!  Good Lord.  We got out of there and wound up playing penny slots for a couple of hours.  The only down side was that I was out three dollars at the end of it, but I saw a lot of bells and whistles in the meantime. 

So, fast forward a couple of years later.  The bowling alley that we went to on Saturday night was absolutely packed.  It makes sense - the prices at the bowling alley near my house is actually quite reasonable.  They charge by the game, not by the hour.  The only down side to this is that there is absolutely no incentive to get your game done - ever.  People are running off to get drinks, go to the bathroom, who knows - maybe people are leaving and getting a pizza and coming back.  I have no idea. 

We got in around 8:30 pm and they had "Cosmic Bowling" going on.  Apparently even the people who run the bowling alley know that bowling is not exciting enough to just have bowling.  The 80s and 90s dance music is blasting and there is black light and laser pointers shooting around like crazy.  It makes it a little hard to concentrate, but that is okay - I was looking for any excuse at this point as to why I can't knock down all the pins.  It doesn't help that in 10-pin bowling, the ball weighs literally 80 pounds.  I was looking around for a bocce ball or maybe a couple of baseballs and trying not to notice that the drunk guy with the huge shamrock hat was crushing the pins and then dancing around.  

Let's Bowl in Calgary.  Good times.  I reccommend it.

Friday, March 8, 2013


I just got back from a great vacation in Jamaica.  We’re talking sand, surf, sun, and, of course, boatloads of food and gallons upon gallons of alcohol. 

I’m not sure I understand why there is the all-inclusive resort.  I mean, don’t get me wrong—I love them—you get off the airplane, put your wallet and your passport in the safe in your room and forget about them for a week.  I just think that having a mile of perfect beach, scorching sun and breezy tropical winds should be enough to entice pasty bloated tourists like me each year to leave my frozen wasteland I call home. 

“Hmm, there seems to be an island in the middle of the Carribean.  Let me look it up on the computer.  Beautiful weather... lots of sand and beach... If they have more than twelve pies, I will consider leaving immediately.”

The first and most wonderful thing that you have going for you at the all-inclusive resort is the free food and booze.  I happen to be a skinny guy but, gun to my head, I can pack it away.  People have witnessed my show at the Chinese Buffet and they brag about it.  At least that’s what I am telling myself they are doing as they recount the story to strangers and point in my direction.  Anyway, what is great about the food is that you can stack your plate up high with all sorts of exotic meats, ice cream, pie, pizza, more ice cream, fish, fruit, things you think might be fruit, and bacon.  I’ve come to realize that wherever you are from in this world, if you are visiting a resort, you will place salty meat on top of your plate.  I don’t care if there is ice cream under there.  The bacon is going on the top. 

Hey, if you don’t like it, then don’t eat it!  You aren’t paying any more for a huge plate of waste than if you are trying to be responsible.  Don't worry about making the waiter upset.  They love cleaning up your four half-eaten plates of papaya and pineapple.  You weren't sure if you would like the chocolate cake, so you only took three pieces.  They get it—the resort crowd is not the responsible crowd.  If they were, someone would eventually get out of the pool bar to use the bathroom.  I have yet to witness that. 

You see all sorts of interesting people at the all-inclusive resort.  I happen to fall under the “happy drunk guy who still thinks he is ten years younger than he is” category.  I’m in the pool trying to play volleyball against 19-year-old college students from Omaha.  I am not a professional volleyball player.  So I totally understand why I am terrible.  But here's my question: they don’t even have water in Omaha—at least I think they don’t.  So why are there Nebraska dudes with abs spiking a ball into my face?  It’s been ninety minutes since my meal inbetween lunch and dinner—I think I’ll grab a snack instead. 

Everything becomes a big deal on vacation.  Have you ever had a drink at your house?  Maybe you get home from a long day, and you are watching television, and you kind of walk over to the cabinet and pour yourself a drink?  No one applauds, do they?  For some reason, if you order a couple of drinks at 10:02 a.m., strangers are applauding and pointing.  Maybe they are doctors, or they happen to own shares in a rum plantation. 

The huge competitive tanners come out of the wordwork on these tropical vacations.  The minute people are at the resort, the shirt is off.  Boom.  Dudes are topless within seconds.  Women run like Florence Griffith-Joyner to their hotel room and spin around like Wonder Woman three times before dashing off to the beach.  It might take her four days to pack for the vacation, but within forty-five seconds she is on the beach, in a chair, facing the sun like a photo-sensitive Venus Flytrap.  We also need the US Magazine and the largest sunglasses that a human cranium can safely support.  I say good for you—it’s all anyone ever asks about after you get back from holidays anyway.
          Coworker: Where were you?
          Me: I was in Jamaica.
          Coworker: Where’s the tan?
          Me: I don’t want to get cancer.
          Coworker: I don’t see much of a tan.
          Me: I had a pretty good time.
          Coworker: So... no tan? 

By the way: how come at home I can make my bathroom towel last a month before it finally marches itself into the wash, and yet on vacation I am going through eight towels in one day?  They have a little hotel resort sign on the counter that says “save the environment, only put towels in the tub that you don’t want to use again!”  Well guess what.  Every single towel is going in that tub.  I’m breaking into neighbour’s hotel rooms, taking their towels, and throwing them in the tub.  The thought of even looking at a towel more than once becomes instantly disgusting.  I’m wearing the same T-shirt four days in a row, but I’m going through towels like toilet paper. 

Anyway, Jamaica is great if you like sun and nine meals a day.