Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Hotmail is Officially Dead to Me

Hey! Remember when Hotmail was a great way to get messages from your friends? Not anymore! Now all I seem to get is delightfully-titled messages like "she sucked off everyone at the part xuhghgggfh" and "Barry, is someone wanting to meet you?" and "nubian tramps prefer white poles xxgygdfftd" and "Plump girlzzzz with collossal jubes." I'm not even sure what a "jube" is, even.

I'm probably coming to this decision late, but now that my work is requiring me to spend more and more time away from my precious internet and literally thousands of these messages are piling up, I'm gonna pull the plug. If you're accustomed to reaching me through the "drop me a line" link at the side, please let me know in the next few days because as of next week I'm not going to be checking it anymore.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

The Mystery of the Forgotten Ladder

What would you do?

On Wednesday morning I was working from home, which my new contract sometimes allows me to do. As I was polishing off the final details on a diagram I was working on, I began to hear some strange thumping noises downstairs. No big deal, I thought, my neighbour has been doing some home renovations; until I heard voices. Voices in my backyard.

So of course, I thought: hmmmm.

I took a quick look out the window to see what was going on. Much to my surprise, I made eye-contact with some unshaven guy in a baseball cap, who was standing in the middle of my yard and staring up at the 3rd story window. He saw me, I saw him, then he moved away from where I could see him.

So of course, I thought: Maintenance?

Sure, must be maintenance. My house has had a bunch of repairs and painting done in the last few months, so it was conceivable that this is just one more installment of UPHEAVAL! The Musical. And hey, if it’s maintenance, maybe Stacey knew something about it and forgot to tell me. A thirty second phone-call later and I found out that if there was work being done, we didn’t know about it.

So of course, I thought: Maybe I should talk to the guy and find out what the fuck he’s doing in my backyard?

I bolted my way downstairs, adrenaline coursing, and pulled up the curtain to the back patio. Only to find there weren’t any men in the backyard, unshaven, in baseball caps, or otherwise. But there was a big, honking ten-foot ladder that looked like it had been dropped suddenly.

So of course, I thought: Hmmmm. Fishy.

I ran back upstairs and looked out the front window, trying to see if there were any suspicious vehicles in front of the house. I spotted a flatbed truck but not much else. I made a quick phone call to my landlord to see if there was anything going on that they hadn’t told us about. No dice. As far as the person I talked to knew, there were no work orders matching our address.

So of course, I thought: Break-and-Enter-ers!

Especially after I looked back out the window and saw that the truck was gone. I called the police, but I was still half-thinking that there was some explanation for what was going on. I mean, who breaks into a suburban home in broad daylight at 10:45 in the morning with a ladder, which they subsequently left behind? Pretty zany criminals, if you ask me.

So the police showed up and they told me they’d already been patrolling the neighbourhood. They said that earlier that day, two other houses nearby had been broken into and the perpetrators made off with thousands of dollars worth of electronics, valuables, and one large duffel bag, perfect for further stealing and the like. This didn’t reassure me.

I wrote out a report with a description of the guy, showed the cops the ladder, all alone in the backyard, and sent them on their way to catch some criminals. They promised to send somebody over to take possession of the ladder as soon as they could.

So of course, I thought: Bad-ass! I’m in a cheapo Cop show on TV! Kanata Vice: 2003.

And what I actually thought: Uhhhh? Other Break-ins? Did I just foil a crime and save all our stuff?

I waited an hour or so, feeling pretty unsettled. Forget work, I couldn't even concentrate on Captain Kirk and the Star Trek episode on TV. Another officer showed up with a van, only to discover that the ten-foot ladder was too big for the 8-foot cargo space in the van. So back it went into the backyard.

So of course, I said: Hey! I don’t want that thing back here! When are you taking it away?

The cop’s vague answer of “tomorrow” wasn’t good enough. Hell, I wasn’t leaving a ten-foot ladder in my backyard overnight, regardless of the circumstances. So the cop suggested I put it into the basement. So into the house it went.

Another hour or so had passed and I was still trying to decompress. As I was trying to follow the less-than-labyrinthine plotline of a daytime TV show, I caught sight of a truck passing by the back window on the street behind the house. And either it was the same goddamn truck I saw this morning, or I was as crazy as a cat burglar who risks breaking into a suburban house in the daylight with a ladder WHO ALSO returns to the scene of the crime mere hours later. And it came along with two other vehicles this time, a car and a panel van, and parked just up the street.

So of course, I thought: You’ve gotta be kidding me.

Another trip to the kitchen to call the police followed moments later. As I was scribbling down license plate numbers, two police cruisers showed up and the two female officers asked the guys in the truck some questions. Before I knew it, I heard tapping at the back patio sliding door and found the two officers poking around looking for the ladder. I was happy to show it to them and less happy to answer a few more questions about the guy I saw.

The cops went back to ask the guys in the truck some more questions. And some more questions. And then they brought back two of the guys into my backyard, where this whole thing began hours earlier. Mind you, neither of them was the man I saw earlier that day. The cops said they checked them out and they had produced a work-order saying they were contractors who were there to repair our balcony, among others in the condo complex.

So of course, I thought: D’oh.

The aftermath started out embarrassing but quickly switched over to righteousness. I didn’t feel guilty for calling the cops and they had a lot to answer for. As in, why hadn’t they let us know they were going to do the work, by email, by phone call, by notice in the mailbox, by doorbell, by anything at freaking all? As in, why did they take off after I saw the guy, leaving a ladder behind? As in, maybe you could take some responsibility for this thing? They were unapologetic. I also had to give them back their ladder.

So they’re coming back sometime to actually do the repair. Maybe they’ll let us know when this time.

The moral of the story: If you’re a contractor, make sure the resident of the house (or at the VERY LEAST the landlord) knows you’re gonna be there. And if you aren’t letting anyone know (through laziness or negligence or sheer stupidity) make ABSOLUTELY sure you don’t leave behind large, suspicious things in their backyard. Okay?

Friday, October 03, 2003


In a blaze of mediocre downloading-speed and regular trips to my local CD shoppe, I have rejoined the world of new music. New music is a very precious thing. It's so easy to slip into a pattern of complacency and sleepy closed-mindedness. And the next thing you know, you're more out of style than moustaches. Let's be honest, here. Once you reach your mid-twenties, you're one step away from some future equivalent of that guy who you see on street corners today, rocking out to David Lee Roth with ratty, hair-sprayed mullet to match.

I'm still torn between two major sides of my music-listening persona. On one hand, I like my music hard, fast, a little rough around the edges, but full of heart and energy. On the other, I like stuff that's intricate, polished, melodic, and catchy, the kind of stuff that normally would make the other side of me cringe. So is it a problem that I'll go from listening to something like The Strokes or The Hives and then calmly switch over to Radiohead or Coldplay? I'm sure it has confused a lot of people over the years.

Another great thing is that I have friends who also have diverse tastes in music. Doesn't mean we always agree, of course. But every once in a while, I get a recommendation that I can't help but love. And being the nice guy that I am, I pass it on when I can.

So what's been gracing my various music-listening devices in the last little while?

Mike and Matt have been raving about a Vancouver-based band called Metric for months now, but I haven't had much luck finding their music up until recently. And believe it or not, it came to me. My girlfriend Stacey brought it home after falling in love with a b-side track on the newest Delerium album, starring the vocal talents of a certain Emily Haines. And Metric's album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? is every bit as good as they said it was. I can't wait to see them live (and anyone who knows about a show happening close-by had better call to let me know!). Metric grabs you right from the beginning. Emily's voice is one of the best I've heard in a while and the music is so melodic and rhythmic that you can't keep yourself from dancing. It's sugary and treads that thin line between pop and art that defies you to classify it as either one. Support your Canadian music scene and check them out next time they're in town. And if you're interested in the CD, I've seen it as low as $13. HIGHLY recommended at any price.

Matt also turned me on to a new band called Athlete, which I managed to sample for the first time today. I have already fallen for a song called "You Got the Style," and judging by the little bit I've heard so far, it's by far some of the very best music to come out of the UK in the past year. It's not straight-ahead brit-pop fare, it's a bit catchier and a bit edgier, a young sound from and up-and-coming band. Good luck finding the CD in Canada, though. The cheapest I've seen it for so far has been $30+, but I'm going to keep looking.

On the edgier side, I recently picked up A Perfect Circle's new disc, The Thirteenth Step and in many respects it's much stronger than their last, possibly thanks to the recent addition of former Smashing Pumpkins guitar-guru James Iha to the line-up (or so I'd like to think). Maynard's vocals are strong and introspective like always, and although many people miss (ex-ZWAN) Paz Lenchantin's feminine touch on bass, the rest of the line-up compensates, including Danny Lohner (aka Twiggy Ramirez, Ex-Marilyn Manson) on guitar. I find the tracks a bit more accessible, way more melodic, and overall, it's a more unified album as a whole. It's also softer, making it a bit less engaging. But hey, it's hard to find fault with their first single, "Weak and Powerless". Go ahead, you can find this one anywhere. Even Wal-Mart, if you're that unimaginative.

Oh yeah, speaking of ZWAN, they're finished. Billy Corgan pulled the plug on the project just recently and vows to do some solo stuff. Personally, I'm not holding my breath anymore.

And just today, we found out that Muse has a new album called Absolution, released in late September. We're having some trouble tracking this one down in Canada. Special-order only and over $36 so far. Check out "Time is Running Out" and "Stockholm Syndrome" to get a taste on where they're going with this one, or see their official site for an online version of "Apocalypse Please" (Flash required). And according to Mike, Travis has a new disc AND a concert on the 31st of October in Toronto (spooky). Of course, I found out too late again and it's sold out. One of these days I'm gonna find someone who'll keep me in the loop with Toronto concerts so that I actually have time to get some tickets. If anyone hears even a WHISPER of a Jamiroquai or Muse show in Toronto or elsewhere nearby, I'd better be the first to know. Or else!

Ahhhhh, empty threats, does a body good!