Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I visit Whitehorse, up in the Yukon, once in a while when I am tired of big-city life.  I'm not crazy, though—I only ever visit in the summer.  It is a really neat place where the sun stays out 22 hours a day in July.  It is always fun to wake up at 4:00 am to bright blue sky and wonder if there has been a nuclear holocaust.  Nope—just summer.

Anyway, I visited my mum years ago and we were sitting around in the living room, drinking rum and rye, like card-carrying Canadians in the summer.  My mum said "hey do you want to watch a movie!"  She had been pushing this movie, called Fight Club, for about three years.  Why would I want to watch a movie about people punching each other?  It sounded so stupid.  After much, much nagging and complaining (like three minutes' worth), I finally said FINE—I would give it a few minutes and if it was terrible, I would take my drink out onto the patio and watch ice cubes melt in the 6-degree summer weather.  (It was technically above freezing). 

Anyway, mum pops in this DVD of Fight Club and within 20 minutes I am loving life.  It was (and is) a great film.  I loved it.  I sincerely apologized to my mum for ever doubting her.  (I also felt bad about throwing my sister through the coffee table when I was eight and running into my mum's face when I was a kid, shattering one of her teeth.  It was an afternoon of many drinks.)

Fast forward to two years ago: I am back in the Yukon.  Mum and I are sitting around drinking.  She says, "hey do you want to watch Sherlock?  It's a new version on BBC".  Yawn.  I would rather literally stare at the wall.  Who wants to watch a show about 1800s detective and his bumbling sidekick?  I laughed right in her face but it was OK because I was her son, I can get away with it.  She has to love me—it's the law!

Near the end of the vacation, I finally said fine and mum fired up the old PVR.  Within the first 20 minutes I was totally hooked.  I was loving life.  Sherlock is a modern-day, fast-paced, action-packed, intelligently-written show by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who also work on the highly-praised Dr. Who show.  I watched two of the episodes and I was blown away—they are 90-minute movies with high production values, and some of the best writing I have ever seen. 

I got back home to the big city and tried for two months to convince my girlfriend to watch Sherlock.  "I'm telling you, it is really good!" I pleaded, my voice getting whiny and high-pitched.  It finally worked.  One night, we fired up the old Netflix.  Stacey glanced away at one moment and I shrieked "give it twenty minutes!"  It turned out that she was making sure the cat didn't light itself on fire with a nearby candle, but I am glad that I got her attention.  Within 20 minutes, we were both hooked.  

One of the reasons I didn't like the 1980s TV Sherlock that has been on in the past is that Sherlock's assistant, Dr. Watson, was often portrayed as an idiot who could barely tie his shoes.  Not in this series.  Dr. John Watson is brilliantly played by Martin Freeman, who most people will recognize at the Hobbit and Tim from The Office.  Watson is an army veteran and extremely loyal, intelligent and has some great comedic lines (without looking like a complete dummy).  Sherlock Holmes is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch, who wins for the most British-sounding name in history (sorry, Professor Cockney Pennyfarthing Bollocks the Third).  Cumberbatch is very unlikable (a "high-functioning sociopath") which makes the character all the much more fun to watch.  Rude, intelligent and anti-social—yikes maybe I shouldn't be so excited that I can relate. 

For some reason, British shows only run for a few episodes.  There are three episodes in "series 1" (available on Netflix) and three episodes in "series 2" (also available on Netflix).  I highly-recommend this series—action, comedy, good chills and great writing.  Plus you get to see some remarkable shots of modern-day London.  If you have ever been there,  you can scream "Agghh!!  We've been to that tube station!" as Sherlock tries to solve a mystery.   

Nice work mum.  Although I still don't like the taste of rye, you do have good taste in movies and TV shows.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Consequences for Actions: All-Inclusive Resort Edition!

People love justice.  There's a scene in the popular TV series Breaking Bad where Walter White gets even with a rude loudmouth by sticking a gas station squeegee under the hood of the loudmouth guy's expensive car, and moments later the car bursts into flames.  We cheer!  Yay, the jerk got three thousand dollars' worth of damage to his car.  But what happens when this sort of thing occurs in real life?
Speaking of rude louthmouths: all-inclusive resorts.  I love them and I hate them.  I was in Mexico this year on an awesome, all-inclusive pig fest that included six meals a day, unlimited booze with poolside service, and an employee who is probably not a licensed physician who carted around a tequila shot cart and gave ladies by the pool mysterious liquid that made people gag and cry.  Typical family fun in Mexico.

Once the sun goes down, the party really gets wild.  Because I am getting old, my wild partying consists of sitting in a comfortable lounge chair sipping rum punches and complaining about the extra three pounds of steak that I shouldn't have eaten.  However, on our next-to-last night at the resort, things got crazy at the evening sports bar.
Here's the scene: me and my fiancée are sitting at the bar.  There is an older lady at the end of the bar, and then enters the guy.  The guy is about 6' 2" and in decent shape.  He looks like a young Mr. Spock, if say, Spock had drank some Martian rum or Jupiter Elixir or whatever the hell Star Trek aliens drink.  Anyway, this guy had his arm draped over the older lady and the older lady didn't look very happy about it.

What to do?  I did the "Ghandi"—meaning, for me, that I sat quietly and chugged my rum.  That was my non-violent protest.  My fiancée, being a woman, felt what is known as "sympathy" and gestured for the older lady stranger to leave the hungry-eyed drunk guy and make her way over to where we were sitting.
It turns out that old lady didn't know drunk guy.  She didn't like drunk guy.  She wanted nothing to do with drunk guy.  Her husband was a little under the weather and he was back in the hotel room, sleeping.  And so older lady wanted to come downstairs for a drink.  Come on, drunk guy!  Personal space please!  Anyway, we thought that was the end of it.  Lady rescued. 

Drunk guy shows up again, having successfully negotiated the twenty-five feet of bar stools and bright 40-watt lights of the Mexican sports bar.  He wrapped his arms around this older lady and exclaimed that he was "interested". 

"Hey," my fiancée spoke up.  "That's my mom!  We're here for a family reunion!"  I nodded, much like Ghandi would have silently nodded when he was getting beaten up by the police.  Are we both heroes?  Let's let history decide. 
Drunk guy was from Saskatchewan and he claimed that we was interested in the older lady.  Why he felt the need to mention that he was from Saskatchewan remains a mystery.  Anyway, we explained that "mom" already had a "dad" and that he might appear at any moment.  Watch out, Saskatchewan!  Saskatchewan, who was about twenty-five years old, loudly exclaimed that he was ready to be our new daddy.  Really?  He wanted to buy the older lady a drink.  A conversation between Saskatchewan and my fiancée wound up with Saskatchewan bunching up a napkin and throwing it in her face.  

So what do we do at this point?  Ghandi might have gotten up off the bar stool and started punching, but I didn't.  Maybe that makes me even more Ghandi-ish.  Where's my Nobel Prize?  We told Saskatchewan to give us some personal space and thought that was the end of it.  Saskatchewan noticed two guys sitting at the end of the bar—they looked about thirty, maybe thirty-five years old and were quietly sipping beers.  "What are you guys looking at?" Saskatchewan yelled.  Oh dear. 

We pulled the two guys into this by exclaiming that these were our brothers.  They said they were from Michigan... of course!  Our brothers from Michigan.  This was a family reunion!  We tried to make small talk for a few minutes, but with Saskatchewan hanging out and loudly yelling "Roughriders!" at random intervals, it was not likely that any of the world's problems were going to get solved.
Saskatchewan suddenly yelled that it was time to do shots.  He was buying us all shots.  Wow, thanks!  At an all-inclusive resort?  You are a hero my friend.  He whipped out two 500-peso notes and threw them down at the bartender.  We all froze.  I did a double-take and the Michigan guy who was closest to me said "nope," meaning, don't say a word.  Things were getting good now.  Normally people tip anywhere from 10 to 20 pesos for the whole evening.  He had just dropped about $75 US on the table.   

The bartender scooped it up like Penn Jillette pocketing my watch on a street corner.  In one fluid motion, he set up four shots on the bar—these had some sort of nasty tequila stuck in a shot glass, upside down, inside of a glass of dark brown beer.  Gun to my head, I would rather have drank my own pee at this point than whatever was in that glass.
A long, drawn-out discussion ensued about who was going to drink what.  Finally, we were all able to convince Saskatchewan that he had paid for the shots, and we didn't want to rob him of the chance to prove that he was "the man".  He grabbed one and downed it within ten seconds. 

He grabbed another one and it took him about twenty seconds.  I figured that would be the end of it—his heart would stop and he would be carried away by the grounds crew.  However, he kept going.  He downed the third.  He then, unbelievably, he chugged the fourth shot with the beer.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing. 

Saskatchewan went to put the last glass back on the bar, and he slipped on an invisible banana peel and disappeared.  We heard a "sack of potatoes" thunk on the marble floor and figured that was it—time for the grounds keeping crew to finally dig a hole and bury this guy out in the desert.  It's was nature's way.  No one moved—we just enjoyed the silence for a couple of seconds.  I heard Howard Cosell's voice in my head yelling "Saskatchewan is down!  Saskatchewan is down!"  It had been a great run, champ.
Two arms suddenly punched the air above the bar and Saskatchewan leapt up from the cold, marble floor with such ferocity that it rivalled a horror movie.  Jason with the hockey mask is dead?  No.  No, Jason cannot die.  Jason is from Saskatchewan. 

We started applauding (why, exactly, we are still unsure) and suddenly Saskatchewan was taking bows and waving at the crowd.  He turned to an old man who was sitting in the corner.  The old man had a white beard and a smart checkered shirt—he reminded me of what Ernest Hemingway looked like if Hemingway wanted to hang out with an idiot for the evening.
Hemingway's eyes went big when he discovered that Saskatchewan was slowly walking in his direction.  At this point, the eight drinks in two minutes was starting to kick in.  Saskatchewan's eyes were huge and black, like a cat who spotted a squirrel through the window.  Was Saskatchewan going to play with Hemingway like a mouse?  Was he going to just vomit on Hemingway?  "Back!  BACK!"  Was all that Hemingway could muster, holding out his hand like a pitch forked villager against Frankenstein's monster.

This happened with a few other patrons at the bar—basically Saskatchewan Frankenstein would approach them, arms outstretched, eyes wide open with the thousand-yard stare—and people would recoil in horror and either politely or firmly yell at him to "get away, get away!"
What happened next is still fuzzy—not so much the details, but why they occurred.  At some point during this whole "drunk zombie" march, Saskatchewan decided that the best thing to do would be to just take off his pants.  So he stumbled to the middle of the bar area, and with about 80 onlookers he proceeded to undo his belt and shimmy his pants down around his ankles.  I think that during the whole zombie marching phase, people were beginning to get bored, because I pointed and shouted "look!" and people seemed genuinely surprised to be looking at white underwear. 

I think we all know where this is going now. 
The underwear came down.

Showing the dexterity of a hypothermic stripper, he awkwardly pulled down his underwear, exposing the hairiest bum I have ever seen.  And I've seen Star Wars.  This was like Chewbacca before going to the barber.  I once saw a sign next to a beauty salon that said "Bikini Wax... $40 and up".  I think this guy would have qualified for the "and up".  It was both hideous and glorious—one person's bold stance against the establishment, a rallying cry for those of us who have, at one time or another, said "I simply want to be naked, and you eighty or ninety strangers are just going to have to deal with it".  I was impressed. 
I wish with all my heart that this was the end.  I really do.  But there is a little "DVD extra" that occurred: before security showed up, Saskatchewan, with his pants off and his underwear firmly entrenched between his legs, began shuffling to the bar in an effort to climb up onto the flat surface.  You know... where the bartender prepares drinks?  Why go to Las Vegas at all?  Why spend good money to the "Thunder From Down Under" when you have Chewy up on the bar, his prairie flapjack spinning in the cool Mexico night? 

He got about three-quarters of the way up the bar—just far enough up that his hairy bum got dangerously close to a lady's face and about three people's martinis.  Then security showed up and escorted him out.
After that, the bar kind of just petered out.  People still drank their drink, and made small talk, but it wasn’t the same.  There was something missing.  Something loud and hairy missing.  

Quick epilogue: I saw Saskatchewan the next day.  The sun was out, it was scorching hot, and he was in front of the towel shack, drink in hand, casually discussing CFL football with another dude.  They were casually making their way to the pool.  He was totally fine.  He lived.  As far as the rest of us: I'm sure that we will all be fine as well—they have books and websites about post-traumatic stress disorder so we’ll all figure it out.