Archive for October, 2006

First things first… if it’s the evening of October 30th and you’re looking for a pumpkin to carve anywhere in the GTA, don’t bother driving around to grocery stores. You’ll be sorely disappointed. Danielle and I took a tour of the Danforth, the Golden Mile and then hiked all the way out to the eastern burbs only to come home empty-handed (well, we hit up a Bulk Barn for treats to ease the pain of going pumpkin-less).

Second things second… as I sit here typing this, I’m dressed up like a cowboy. This makes me the only adult in the downtown core who’s wearing a costume today. No one on the TTC was wearing one (nor did they seem to want to recognize that I was wearing one… they were probably ashamed of not dressing up), and no one else in my office is even remotely dressed up. What a waste.

There’s but one day a year where you can get dressed up and have a little fun in character without raising too much suspicion about your sanity, and no one is taking advantage of it but me. If I had any dignity left, I’d be pretty embarassed, but instead I’m quite proud of myself… and disappointed in everyone else.

I’ll spend the rest of the day drowning my disappointment in candy and save the crunchy ones to drown out the ‘Brokeback Mountain’ jokes that will surely come my way (from people who need to use humour to mask their shame in NOT dressing up today) before heading back to my Jack-o-Lantern-less castle.

Maybe not finding a pumpkin is for the best. I mean, who’s going to end up at OUR door on hallowe’en? “Hey man, you got any crack?” isn’t the question you want to ask someone dressed as a cowboy. Ahem. I mean, enough with the jokes already.

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A few years ago, I was hiking on an old access road near my cottage on Thanksgiving weekend, and I took what I thought was quite a nice photo.  Every fall, I use it as my desktop background at work and I think it’s a really relaxing photo.  I decided to make it available in my photo gallery online in a section of wallpapers to see if anyone else liked it, and if so, they were welcome to use it.  Here’s the photo in question.

Recently, I noticed a spike in traffic to my photo site and realized that a LOT of MySpace users have suddenly started linking to that image as their page background.  Fine… no skin off my teeth.  It’s not like they’re going to blow my bandwidth completely.  Still, I was wondering how so many people found that photo so easily… until today.

I doublechecked the list of Google searches that brings people to my site, and there were a ton for a search on ‘Fall wallpaper’. Try it yourself!  The middle picture under ‘image results’ should look familiar. That’s just weird, man.

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On saturday night, Jared and I decided that it was time to venture back out and see a movie in a real theatre for a change (rather than just dipping into our seemingly unending reservoir of DVDs).  Since I was meeting Danielle and her friend for drinks on Queen West, our theatre location and start time were basically prescribed.  The Paramount for around 10pm left us with few options, but we both were intrigued by Death of a President, so we decided that was the way to go.  (That meant passing on that steaming pile that is Robin Williams’ latest movie)
I was riding the Queen streetcar around 8:30 with a few dozen other people when a bunch of REALLY drunk teenagers got on in their hallowe’en costumes.  They were headed to a party, but wanted to spend their TTC ride trick-or-treating.  That would have been funny if they weren’t so drunk and belligerent, so it was just sad and annoying.  When two girls approached me, slurring “Trick or treat” I started with a polite “Sorry”.
“Are you telling me you don’t carry candy with you when you ride on the streetcar?  It’s [expletive] hallowe’en, man!”
“Sorry. I don’t have candy, it’s bad for you.”  Note that I was still being polite.
“Well, where’s your costume?  You should be dressed up for hallowe’en.”  This conversation had now gone on too long.  It was time to get belligerent myself.
“I don’t celebrate hallowe’en.”
“Why not?”
“My parents were [pause for dramatic effect] murdered on hallowe’en two years ago. [another slight pause, eyes downcast slightly, man seated behind me laughing hysterically]”
“Oh man, I’m so sorry… we didn’t know.”  And they sat down quietly for the rest of the ride.

Does that make me a huge jerk?

On my way off the streetcar, the guy sitting behind me was still giggling and gave me a wave, so I feel sort of justified.  I hope I didn’t ruin the night for those girls though.

Anyways, you’re probably saying ‘Hey Dave, you should be reviewing the movie instead of telling this story’ to which I say ‘Phbbt’.  My story was more compelling, original, based in fact and much, much shorter than the film.  It’s not that it’s bad, it’s more that it’s not very good.  Do yourself a favour and wait to watch it when it pops up on TVO in a year or two.

On the plus side, the documentary style was very A&E-like.  That’s the only really nice thing I can say about it.  It’s unsuprisingly slanted and has some very unoriginal misdirection.  If you feel like watching a fake documentary, walk to your nearest video store and rent “This is Spinal Tap“.  You won’t regret it.

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I’m not sure if you noticed how dark it is in the mornings now, but it’s pretty dark in the mornings now. Here in Southern Ontario, that’s partly due to the constant state of ‘partly cloudy and overcast’ that we’ve been living under for weeks, but the rest has to do with with a little thing we like to call ‘Daylight Savings Time‘.

Invented by miserly clock-makers in Switzerland (I assume), DST is a ploy to have us spend hours two weekends a year screwing with our clocks trying to figure out how to change the time on them. In the end, we get frustrated and just buy new clocks. It’s called ‘The Circle of Life’.

Sadly, this sunday is the fall version of the DST where we ‘fall back’ (rather than ‘spring forward’… that makes them easy to remember… or something), so we gain an hour of time this weekend. So you can sleep in, or enjoy 20 3-minute eggs.  Use your time wisely.
DST time means it’s also the season for changing your smoke alarm batteries (if you have one), and might I recommend changing the batteries in ALL your appliances? Remote controls, wireless mice, battery-powered egg-beaters… why should the smoke alarms get all the attention, huh?

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It would appear that the Canadian Armed Forces have stepped up their marketing budget and are producing commercials with the same production values as some high quality TV shows.  I’m not sure if all of you have seen the new commercial centred around the word ‘fight’, but it’s very well-shot and quite stirring… if you’re into that sort of thing.

This new ‘get on board to fight the good fight’ kind of advertising is a huge departure from years of cheesy commercials (mostly seen in movie theatres) where you could beef up your resume by serving a short stint in our volunteer army.  I can only assume that after decades of budget cuts and limited operations overseas, the Canadian Armed Forces didn’t really need to do a lot of recruiting… which isn’t the case now.

Like it or not, the Canadian military is preparing for the long haul in Afghanistan and will need fresh supplies of replacement troops to cycle in-country, as well as replacing those wounded or killed (either by the ‘enemy’ or by so-called ‘friendly fire’).

I’ll keep my personal comments on Afghanistan to a minimum (citing only the technical military term of ‘Clusterf**k‘), but it’s always nice to see the Canadian government producing something more professional looking than the latest Beachcombers made-for-TV reunion movie.  You may also note that in the entire commercial, not a single boom mike slips into the shot.  Brilliant.

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For men, realizing that you’re an old geezer is a slow process made up of dozens of smaller realizations.  One day your peach fuzz is suddenly a few coarse hairs on your chin, and then another day it’s a full beard that you have to shave regularly or lose your job.  Or, one day you’re a carefree schoolboy and the next you’re pushing paper for The Man in a cubicle for minimum wage plus benefits.  I’m sure it’s not ALL bad, but complaining makes for better reading in here.

Lately, I’ve been bothered by the deep layer of fallen leaves that’s coating our front lawn and back patio.  We have a number of gorgeous old trees that have been shedding pretty regularly and I keep meaning to pick up some leaf bags so I can rake them up and drop them at the curb.  That’s how old men think.  It wasn’t until this morning when I realized that there was a day not long ago when there’s nothing I would’ve liked more than to rake all those leaves up into a big pile and jump into it.

So, now the question is, do I rake the leaves up and jump into the pile just to prove that I’m not over the hill yet (although I’ll still end up packing them into bags for pick-up) or do I give up my dreams of living like a kid and just do the responsible thing?

Meh, being responsible is overrated.  Maybe I should rake them all up and throw them over the fence into my neighbour’s yard.  That would also mean that I’m still a prankster.  Still, being youthful takes a lot out of me.  Afterwards, I have to drink a tall glass of prune juice and take a nap while trying to watch Matlock.

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Long-time readers might recall the previous two trips to Dangerous Dan’s Diner on Queen Street East.  It’s an annual event each fall (shortly after Marty’s birthday) where we abuse our bodies by gorging on some of the largest burgers money can buy.

Consuming one of the two ‘special’ burgers they have on the menu is a feat that can only be called Herculean, but even if you don’t finish yours you can still enjoy the comraderie of sitting on an old minivan bench seat staring at half a cow on a soggy bun, thinking to yourself “How on earth will all of that food fit in my tiny stomach”.  That is, unless your stomach isn’t tiny… at which point you’ll be thinking “Once I finish this, I’d better head to an all-you-can eat seafood restaurant for dessert”.  You’re a glutton.

I’ve had a few questions about the timing for this year’s event, and I’ve nailed the calendar date and time.  Drum roll, please….

Sunday, November 19th at 1pm.  You can find Dangerous Dan’s on the northeast corner of Queen St. E. and Broadview (I recommend taking the streetcar because you might not fit behind the wheel of your car when you’re done).  It’s not hard to miss… just keep your eyes open for the giant strip club… yeah, it’s that kind of neighbourhood.

There’s no need to RSVP, just show up in your maternity pants (which have lots of stretch-room) and bring cold hard cash.  I’ll have my camera to document the occaision and I’ll have the Heart and Stroke Foundation emergency line on speed dial on my cell.  Maybe someone could bring a portable defribrillator to help push the poutine through our arteries.

As always, ladies are more than welcome, but please refrain from making vocal judgments about our menu choices… we know it’s not healthy.  This is one of those events that clearly marks that fine line between ignorance and stupidity… we’re the latter, not the former.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my training… I’m stretching my stomach and arteries in order to maximize my DD’sD effectiveness.  I’m going for a gold medal this year.

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Somehow, after a full but relaxing weekend, I’m just as tired today as I was at the end of last week.  This doesn’t really bode well for the remainder of the last full week of October, but perhaps I’ll have some realistic looking zombie eyes for Hallowe’en weekend.  I always try to look for the silver lining to each cloud.

My dad’s visiting from the Valley for a few days this week, so I’m on the couch in the living room.  That’s not all bad, since it’s a cozy couch but I’m also on street level which means I can hear all the fun sounds of Pembroke St.  (note the sarcasm… there are no fun sounds on our street).  Last night was no exception and I was woken up in the middle of the night not once, but twice by two entirely separate arguments right in front of our house.  That doesn’t include the sounds of the racoons playing volleyball with our securely closed garbage cans.  It’s a vibrant place at night.

I think that tonight I’ll enjoy a little nightcap (either port or fine scotch) and then put on some soft music to drown out the craziness outside my door.  In the meantime, I’ve been working the eyes and feet of my racoon voodoo dolls.  I recommend that you do the same with yours so as to maximize our efforts at making life as miserable for them as possible.

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