Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Finally! MPFH Presents:

Part 1 of Andrew's Big Concert Road Trip Weekend Extravaganza: On New Music, Memory Lapses, and Snow Storms

My lovely girlfriend Stacey and I love traveling. It gives us a spark and makes us feel alive. We need to experience new things and explore new places, hitting the road with a back seat full of candy, caffeine, and bags upon bags of chips and a glove box full of CD cases.

Living the grey-cubicle and laptop-screen-squinting life drags after a few months. This being said, Stacey and I haven't been on a trip since July, a span of time that, by all rational forms of measurement, is a crime against humanity. Well, at least a crime against our humanity.

Moving dominated most of our time and energies over that period, but since we moved in and settled, we found ourselves slowly de-evolving into gelatinous lumps. Lumps which slouch their way out to the bus stop and into the office every morning and slouch their way back into the house to gaze mindlessly at the chattering light-box in our living room until it was time to slouch up to bed.

At the same time, I have discovered a true treasure trove of new music. Thanks to contributions from my friends and family, my musical horizons have been expanding to the bursting point on a nearly daily basis.

I am quickly becoming obsessed with random bands from around the world, bands whose names would have been nothing more than strings of meaningless words to me not more than a month ago. Just when I felt like I was becoming a true adult, doomed to purchase only new CD's released by now long-in-the-tooth bands that I enjoyed in my youth, I have advanced to a state of near new-music-nirvana, and I'm loving every minute of it.

One of these bands that have reached near God-like status with me in the past three weeks has been a UK band called Saint Etienne. They're been around since the very early 1990's, they've had a pile of hits in the UK, and they're considered one of the first founding groups of the "Britpop" sound. Yet, for whatever reason, despite my greater-than-average exposure to cutting-edge music, I'd never heard of them.

One mp3 and a double-disc greatest hits set (called Smash the System) later, I had fallen in love. What's more, I found out that they were playing in Toronto at the end of the month. It felt like fate. I was already planning to visit my high school friends in Toronto that weekend, and this more than sealed the deal. Stacey and I decided to pack up the car and make the trek down the 401.

Of course, we live busy lives. Stacey couldn't really commit to it for sure until the night before we were supposed to leave. I'd already bought the tickets and made other arrangements, and I was going, regardless, but the last minute logistics still hadn't been taken care of.

The Friday afternoon, Stacey was scrambling to get her work done so she could go. With an hour to spare before we had to hit the road, she closed down her laptop and started packing while I ran around the house in a panic, thrusting food supplies and bedding into plastic bags.

I made check-lists in my head and arranged everything neatly on the bed as I was packing. Phone numbers for people I was visiting? Check. Bathroom supplies? Check. Disposable camera, in case there was a picture I had to take? Check. Cell phone re-charger? Check. In mid-check, Stacey jumped on top of me and showered me with kisses. Hey, I wasn't going to complain about a distraction like that! After a quick packing-break, I zippered up the bags and took a quick look outside.

Total white-out.

In the first case of the Weather Network completely screwing us over, there was a blizzard in full-swing outside the house. I ran downstairs to check the Weather Network again, to make sure they hadn't changed their forecast. Nope, they were still reporting a light frosting 3 cm of snow in Ottawa. "What do you want to do?" Stacey asked me. "They say it's only going to be 3 cm. It'll probably stop any minute," I replied, optimistically.

We cleared off the car, and cleared it again, and again, and finally finished packing the car. There was already a good 10 cm or so on the ground when we pulled out of our driveway. As we were crawling along the Queensway on our way out of the city, Stacey turned to me. "Do you have the telephone numbers?" she asked. "Of course I do!" I replied, "but now you're making me doubt myself..." I checked the plastic bag where I kept all the car stuff, leafed through a few pages of maps and directions and things and found the telephone numbers. "Got it."

We got a bit further along the road. Traffic was very, very slow, and it took us almost an hour to scrape by a distance that we can normally make in fifteen minutes. To while away the time, we decide to pump some tunes, and what better choice than the band we're going to see, Saint Etienne?

The band we're going to see. We listen to a few songs, and suddenly a breaker clicks over in my head.

I forgot the tickets.

"I forgot the tickets" I said quietly.


"You're JOKING, right? This is a 'ha-ha, let's fool Stacey' joke, isn't it?"


"You're sure? You're sure you don't have them in that bag? TELL ME THEY'RE IN THE BAG." I leaf through the papers again, just to make sure, but I already knew the answer to her question. "They're not there," I replied.

Stacey was amazingly calm. I mean, she wasn't a saint or anything, possibly saying "there, there, it's okay, you made a mistake," but in the middle of a snow storm under those conditions, who really can be? I'm surprised she didn't kick me out of the car to drive away and leave me standing in a snow bank at the side of the road. We toyed with a number of different ideas, including keeping going and buying more tickets when we get to Toronto, but fearing that the show would be sold out, we took the next exit and turned back.

Another hour, one massive detour, two wrong turns, another 10 cm of snow, and two tickets held firmly in both hands, where we both could see them later and we were back to where we began when we discovered we didn't have the tickets.

After we got out of Ottawa, the snow miraculously stopped and it was pretty smooth sailing the rest of the way to Toronto. We didn't arrive until after midnight, but we got there. And Matt had a cold beer waiting for me when we arrived. You've gotta love a host that understands.

The rest of the weekend, Stacey jokingly asked me almost every 15 minutes if I still had the tickets. And asked me when we were leaving the house if I still had my pants on. And other related jokes. I fully deserved it, I admit it. The pitfalls of having a witty girlfriend and the joys of having a forgiving one, I guess.

Part 2: On Older Crowds, Dance Caves, and Hobbits,” will be posted soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

The Following Post Reflects the Views of The Particiants and Not Necessarily those of MPFH or Antonio Monkerro

I thought this was clever, and it's something people should see. It was sent to me this morning by my friend and militant activist, Christy Ferguson:



November 21, 2002

(Toronto) A coalition of Canadian peace groups today
announced their intention to send an international team of
volunteer weapons inspectors into the United States later
this winter. The coalition, Rooting Out Evil, are
recruiting inspectors through their newly launched website,

"Our action has been inspired by none other than George W.
Bush," said Christy Ferguson, a spokesperson for the group.
"The Bush administration has repeatedly declared that the
most dangerous rogue nations are those that:

1) have massive stockpiles of chemical, biological, and
nuclear weapons;
2) ignore due process at the United Nations;
3) refuse to sign and honour international treaties; and
4) have come to power through illegitimate means.

"On the basis of President Bush's guidelines, it is
clear that the current U.S. administration poses a great
threat to global security," said Ferguson. "We're
following Bush's lead and demanding that the U.S. grant our
inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any site in
the country including all presidential compounds so that
we can identify the weapons of mass destruction in this
rogue state," added David Langille.

Visitors to Rooting Out Evil's website are invited to sign
on as honorary members of the weapons inspection team.
Honorary inspectors can participate in the action, or they
can simply lend the support of their name as they would on a
petition. The actual inspection team that crosses the
border will be comprised of prominent individuals from
Canada and other countries.

The Rooting Out Evil coalition includes Greenpeace Canada,
the Centre for Social Justice, and the Toronto Committee
Against War and Sanctions on Iraq, and is supported by
American groups such as the National Network to End the War
Against Iraq, Global Exchange and the US section of the
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. They
oppose the development, storage, and use of weapons of mass
destruction by any state.

For information: David Langille or Christy Ferguson

Dear Weather Network,

You suck.

Sincerely, Andrew

Monday, November 25, 2002

Keeping my Writing Sharp

Jay was nice enough to print my review of the Analyze That trailer on his new web site, The Trailer Trash. Check out my review at the bottom of the "New Releases" section, and please take the time to read some of the other reviews that have been posted. The site is still in its infancy, but there is some very funny material there already. Enjoy!

Oh, and a report on my weekend is coming up soon. Part 1 will be posted as soon as I have a couple of free moments to myself....

Saturday, November 23, 2002

2:30 AM, Enjoying a Bottle of Keith's

Hey, wanna see a good show this weekend? Check out Saint Etienne at the Opera House.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

This One in From My Buddy Matt

Matt sent me a link to site where you can actually see the deterioration of Mikey Jackson's face over the years. Truly educational stuff. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I Am a Wild Party

The housewarming did not, repeat, did not happen. Stacey and I have reluctantly dismissed the idea of an entirely housewarming-themed shindig in favour of some other event in the near future, possibly Christmas. As it turned out, we had a large number of cancellations and people who couldn't make it. Even so, we would have had a grand ol' time with the people who could still make it, only to find out I had a mild case of sinusitis. And as much fun as it is to have fluorescent green stuff pouring out of your head orifices, I preferred not to share it with my closest and dearest friends. You're welcome.

So, if anyone's interested in coming over, seeing the house, and indulging in three bags of sour cream and onion chips that were purchased before the cancellation, let me know. Because I think sour cream and onion chips are the chip-equivalent of biological waste. But hey, if you like 'em, more power to you!

The trade off was I got a chance to purchase and watch the Star Wars: Attack of the Clones DVD, which was excellent. The sound and picture quality are breathtaking, and the special features were well worth owning. It upsets me that Lucas is probably planning another edition of all of these movies when all six movies are complete, but I don't care for right now. I'll cross that bridge four years from now, when DVDs will probably be obsolete anyway.

A difficult realization came upon me yesterday. I have decided that my days in Canada are probably numbered. I really don't know how many more Canadian winters I can tolerate. Until recently, I was fine with winter. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but it also didn't cause me any physical pain or psychological turmoil. Things have changed.

This realization was triggered, of course, by the 30 cm of snow that was dumped on Ottawa over the weekend. It was worsened by the two (yes, two) buses that splashed me from head to toe with salty, brown slush. The bus drivers seemed to enjoy their little game of passing the bus stop and soiling the poor schleps stuck waiting there with nowhere else to go, cackling merrily and gunning their engines whenever they came across a puddle deep enough to sink their tires into. After getting on my bus, a little punk-ass high school brat had his feet up on the seat and dangling into the aisle, only to kick at me as I was passing, leaving a soggy boot mark on my leg. Fury justifiably consumed me.

Fall is nice....but I wish we could just jump ahead to spring instead of enduring six months of slushy, frozen hell beforehand.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Mascot Monkey Update

MPFH's Mascot Monkey's bio-sheet finally arrived from the zoo, but it didn't include any of the information that I had hoped for. My Golden Lion Tamarin is apparently named "Golden Lion Tamarin" and the sheet makes no mention of the monkey's sex. In light of this fact, I have decided that my monkey will be named Herberto Monkerro, and it will be a male-monkey. Just because that's what happened to leap into my head at this particular point in time.

Please join me in welcoming Herberto to the page, and wave at him next time you end up at the Metro Toronto Zoo. Hopefully, only to visit.

Big Housewarming Shindig

Well, this weekend's finally the weekend for the party. Stacey and I have been putting it off for some time now, with family and illness and work conflicting. Eventually, we put our foot down and decided it's this weekend or never. So, it's this weekend.

Unfortunately, I've barely managed to call anybody. So, if you're reading this and you'd like to go, it doesn't mean I'm not inviting you for whatever reason, it means I'm completely useless at using a phone these days. No, seriously. In my opinion, phones are awful devices compared to their online equivalents and I frequently forget to use them. Send me an email or give me a call and I'll give you the directions to the place and other details. But don't worry, it'll be a full house: Stacey has no problem with using phones like I do.

Creepy Photo Time

Behold! The King of Pop. If that's not the best argument against plastic surgery I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Well, maybe one particular scene in Breast Men, but that was just make-up. I have to admit, in a way, I feel sorry for the poor bastard. He did it to himself, but still, you have to admit that there's obviously some faulty wiring in his head to make him want to go to such extremes.

And now, he's paying for it.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

An Aside

I'm drowning in music right now, and I love it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Wanna be an Astronaut?

The London, Ontario-based Canadian Arrow team wants to send you into space, provided you are Canadian, have aerospace and flight knowledge, are healthy and physically fit, and have $95 burning a hole in your pocket to apply on-line and another $8,000 if they decide you have the right stuff to finance your astronaut training.

But act now! This offer is only good until April 2003. Organizers plan to have one team member take the first flight, another the second flight and the third person will be a backup, with a summer! Once they know the Arrow works safely, they'll start offering flights to the general public. Expensive flights. But it means there's a chance that I may have the chance to see outer space before I die, which is one of my oldest lifelong dreams.

Apply to become an astronaut here.

Learn about the X-Prize (the international competition to build a reusable rocket for space tourism with a payoff of $10,000,000 US to the team that does it first) here.

And finally, get an idea of Canada's best chance of winning the competition, the Canadian Arrow, here. It looks like something out of a Tin-Tin comic book, but if it works, who cares? The most amazing thing is that the design of the rocket and its main engine is based on the German WWII scourge of the skies, the V2 rocket. Trippy. 1940's technology as a solution for the spaceflight of the future. Jules Verne, eat your heart out.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Few Things are Sadder Than the Truly Monstrous

This is a short list of things that I learned this past weekend:

1. It is not a good idea to have a burrito that the menu says is "as big as your head," no matter what the waitress tells you. Yes, they can be that big.

2. Beer does not make you better at competitive trivia.

3. When you know you have the right answer to a question, say so, loudly, and fight tooth-and-nails for your answer. You can get a lot more points that way.

4. A floor lamp does not make a good door prize, especially when you plan on going out for more beer after the event.

5. Just because the bar is called Fat Tuesdays does not mean that it's solely frequented by the grossly obese.

6. It is surprisingly easy to lose a group of middle-aged bald men in a crowd of rowdy bar patrons when you're drinking at the Heart and Crown.

7. Sometimes, old friends can be assholes. Fortunately, they sometimes have sisters that are quite happy to talk to you for a bit while your friend spends all her time ignoring you.

8. There are no taxi cabs in Kanata after dark. So get walkin', punky.

9. I like showers. A lot.

10. The band Saint Etienne rocks.

11. Dinosaurs are BIG. And they had particularly funky ones in China.

12. Word games are not my preferred way to spend a Saturday night.

13. Spinach gives me royal gas. We're talkin' human bagpipes, here.

14. Fancy candles are like crack to my lovely Stacey. Invite her to your candle party.

15. Cars need bateries to go. Not getting a new one is a bad thing when you have somewhere to be and it cacks out on you.

16. Being sick is not a good way to spend your day off. Still, better than working.

17. The Sopranos' writers did not do a good job of tying up loose ends in the last episode of the third season.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Christmas Present Idea

This is a good one for the Lord of the Rings nut in your family...which in my family, would be me! (hint, hint)

They've made a version of Risk based on the books, and it looks like a lot of fun. Check out the game here.

Enough Already

Is anyone else getting tired of hearing about Winona's life of "hard crime" and of seeing her pathetic, swollen doe-eyes on TV? Why on earth would a big movie-star like her need to steal something as mundane as clothing in the first place?

This story is mercifully short and sweet, in case you've been living in a cave and you haven't heard the verdict yet.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Cool LEGO Model of the Month

I know it's early to decide on November's winner already, but this one is tough to beat. It's the Nautilus from Disney's version of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and it's extraordinary. Check it out.

It Was Too Good an Idea NOT to Make Money

I came across this today. De-Motivational Posters that you can browse and buy on the internet. Some of them are funny. But I've seen better.

For the GW-folks: we all know we did these first. These folks were just the first to figure out that they could profit from them.

Getting Back Into Being Actively Literate

Recently, I have started reading again. At first, this seems preposterous. "Reading again? How could you avoid reading? Don't you read all day at work? Software reports and project management plans and the like?" Of course, I don't mean that kind of reading. I mean reading just for me and not because somebody's offering me a pant-load of money to do it. Books, novels, literature...whatever label you'd like to apply to recreational reading material.

Up until a few days ago, the limits of my reading time would be spent reading Calvin and Hobbes or The Far Side in the bathroom. Hardly challenging, to say the least. Then, one day, I realized that The Two Towers was going to be out in theatres in December, two months away, and I insist on re-reading the books before the movies come out. I began to panic, in a very slight way. Two months? How on earth can I finish reading close to 500 pages in two months with my busy schedule? That's INSANE.

I took a few steps back from that line of thought and realized I was getting a little carried away. 500 pages really isn't that much. In university, I used to read at least that many pages of bland, academic historical drivel in the day or two before my exams to prepare. And with Tolkien, I actually wanted to get back up to speed with the exploits of little Frodo and the Fellowship and walk again across the fields of Rohan, into Isengard, and across the borders of Mordor.

So I made a conscious decision to get on with it. I was aware of the fact that on buses, many people like to read. I have always wondered why people would do this: how could they keep picking up the story again when reading in small 20-minutes chunks? Me, I have always been a discman-and-headphones kinda guy. It has always suited me to shut-out the sound of the annoying geeky guys in tha back of the bus who are arguing at length over what was cooler (Pokemon or Digimon?), the chatter of the career public servants (who have nothing better to talk about than their drudging, repetitive, soul-less work, day after day after day), and the roar of the poorly-maintained bus engine.

Side note: I have this weird thing about buses. I like looking at people and wondering what they're like, and whether they could be a friend, what they do for a living, and other stuff about them, but I'd rather not talk to them and find out for sure. Maybe I'm not the only one. But it only works if they're looking away: as soon as they see you looking at them, they'll probably think you're being "Creepy Staring-Guy," and you quickly have to avert your eyes and make it look like you're looking all over the place, and not just at them. Maybe people do think I'm "Creepy Staring-Guy."

Of course, I can't STAND it if someone's staring at me. I'm nuts, aren't I? Except if it's a cute girl, giving me a bit of an ego boost, which is nice in the morning. And then, I usually get to work and find that there's a sesame seed stuck to my face and realize she was probably staring at that. Anyway, back to reading (end of side note).

I decided I'd try it. Instead of shutting-out the world with music (which still leaves your eyes to wander and still imagine the conversation of the annoying geeky guys and the public servants in your head) I would shut the world out and immerse myself in a world of Elves, Dwarves and plucky little Hobbits, the loveable little scamps.

A week and a bit later, I was amazed. Somehow, I had finished the book. Even though I'm one of those people who are irritated by having to stop a movie half-way through because it interrupts the plot, I had managed to put that aside. And chapter by chapter, page by page, mornings and evenings on the commute, I finished it, almost two months ahead of schedule.

Now, here's the conundrum: Do I read "The Return of the King" now or next fall to prepare for the movie? I still haven't figured that one out. In the meantime, I am four days into my next book, "Code to Zero" by Ken Follett, and I'm almost done. Excellent book, by the way. It's kind of a mystery within a mystery (is he or isn't he?) kinda plot.

Almost overnight, I have become a voracious bus-reader. Go figure. At least maybe now I can repair some of the "Creepy Staring-Guy" damage from the past couple of weeks. Now I will be "Oblivious Reading-Guy."

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Trailer Trash

Jay Pinkerton's aptly-named new comedic venture is called Trailer Trash. Now, we're not talking slack-jawed, inbred cousins that shack-up in a shabby, wheeled hovel, here. No sir, not aptly-named in that way. It's about movie trailers, and every Monday, Jay takes a look at some of the most recent ones out there and tries to trash them as much as he can. Unless they're good, that is.

It's a neat new spin. Reviewing the trailers, the marketing vehicles behind the movies, rather than the movies themselves, and taking them for what they are: marketing. Do they do their job? Do they sell movie tickets, the ultimate in modern luxury commodities? Ever since they raised ticket prices to the point where you have to sell a lung to finance a night out at the local cinema, trailers have become more and more important, and flashier, and quicker, and more revealing. And Jay'll be right there to knock them back into the gutters where they belong or place them on a pedestal as the apex of effective hype and viewer-pandering.

Brilliant. I highly recommend the site. It's funny, smart, and a great way to appreciate the unrecognized marketing machine that plants your butts in the seats. This week, Jay reviews the trailers for the new Harry Potter Movie and The Two Towers. Check the site in the future under the "trailers" link in my link bar to the left.

Monday, November 04, 2002


Ian's blog entry hurt my head. He used a Watchmen reference, though, so I can forgive him.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Worst. Hallowe'en. Ever.

Here is a sumary of my activities last night.

Rush home at breakneck-speed so I don't disappoint the kiddies. Start getting excited. Set up pumpkin in window. Get dressed up, just because (hey, it's fricken' hallowe'en! When else can you wear a costume without feeling like a tool?). Move candy bowl downstairs.


Wait some more.

Let Stacey's sister out the back patio door, because she doesn't want to walk around the house. Trap skin of finger in between door and frame after slamming the sliding door hard. Nurse blood blister. Swear like a sailor.

Stacey makes trip out to post office, leaving me behind to man the door. Curse some more about throbbing finger.

Wait some more, now sitting in dark all by myself. Drink bottle of beer. Wonder why all the kids seem to be going to the significantly larger houses across the street and not to ours. Realize the fickle little buggers are going to the bigger houses because they think they have better candy. Shake fist at kids and fume quietly.

Doorbell rings. Deploy Popeye cigarettes to two kiddies with half-assed costumes. Tell kids not to smoke real cigarettes because they're bad for them.

Wait some more, still in dark all by myself. Drink another bottle of beer. Unable to keep from playing with blood blister, making it more sore.

Start feeling like tool for getting all dressed up, apparently for my own benefit alone. Decide to move pumpkin downstairs, because maybe kids aren't seeing it clearly-enough.

Further waiting. I am now out of beer. Decide to turn on lights and do something else, but can't watch TV because Friends and Survivor are taping. Consider leaving and locking house to go buy more beer. End up eating some candy and popcorn, instead. Regret decision.

Stacey returns, having had a good time going through haunted houses and doing some shopping with her sister--an hour has passed. It feels like 72 hours for me. After some begging, Stacey dresses up as gypsy to make me feel better. It helps.

More waiting still.

After one more doorbell ring, another round of Popeye cigarette deployment and more free health advice: give up on kids and watch taped survivor while gorging on more candy. Realize I haven't eaten dinner but feeling too down to do anything about it. Remove uncomfortable pieces of costume. Remove under-appreciated pumpkin from front step and place in garage. Eat more candy.

15 kids, several hours, two beers, half a bag of popcorn, and 17 empty candybar wrappers later, go to bed without watching any scary movies and with stomach full of chocolate.

I suppose it could have been worse. But I'm planning on not being home next Hallowe'en, I think.

And right now, this very moment, it's started snowing! It's a blizzard in downtown Ottawa!

Decide to buy more beer on my way home.