Archive for the ‘ Anecdotes ’ Category

XBox Xcapade

I was told that today was my lucky day.

Without question, said the plucky clerk, would I obtain what I desired if I only showed up early enough.

Thought I: Sounds like a reasonable proposition – sacrifice sleep for goodies!

Therefore: I found myself on the bus on the way to Atwater’s FutureShop at the ungodly hour of 7:15 am to actually participate for once in the mass hysteria that is known as xmas shopping, on the renowned absolute worst day of the entire year to do it.

I should have known something was up when the very first step I took outside my home ended up splashing the melting slush all over my right shoe.  As the street water and grime slowly worked their way into my sock, soaking me for hours to come, I should have recognized a bad omen for what it was, and not just a stupid mistake attributable to my drunken sleep-deprived state.

So on the bus then (omens aside).  The nice thing about taking public transport in the wee hours of the morning is that there are no silly little cars to get in the way of bus drivers’ dreams of one day being F1 racers.  I swear, we could have take out a little old woman (who seem to populate the streets in unsettling numbers at that time of the day) and barely even felt the crunch of her walker.  I arrived at my destination in a record-breaking 6 minutes, white with fear and standing, since I didn’t have much time to even contemplate sitting down.

I stake out the store, and there doesn’t seem to be a line formed at the main entrance.  Strange, thought I.  For wherefore art thou bloodthirsty, teeth-gnashing holiday revelers?  My mistake – the line forms on the second floor.  Although arriving merely at 7:30 (opening at 8 ), there is a family group at the front, clustered around something that I cannot see.  I hear sounds coming from the middle of their half-circle.  Could it be that they’re pumping themselves up for the carnage that will soon unfold?  Is it some ritualistic chant that somehow grants them unparalleled product-gripping hand strength?  My curiosity overpowers me.  I get behind them in line, and witness the horrible truth.

They’re watching a movie on a portable DVD player.  Sneering, I take my place in line behind the "second" customer, a really hawt girl sitting on a provided chair showing off her tattoo to anyone lucky enough to sit behind her.  This really was my lucky day!  A 360 soon to be in my hands, and this in the meantime!

We hear some clanking noises near the gate.  Our heads turn.  The little kid in the family unit (still wearing flannel pyjama pants) jumps up excitedly at the emergence of a number of uniformed store clerks approaching the front of the line.  It’s not even 7:40 yet, I think, what’s up?

It turns out that FS employees regularly let in the first people in line (personally accompanied by a store clerk) go choose whatever the hell they got up at this ungodly hour for.  I felt like I was on a blind date!  Who would I get paired up with?  Would we be compatible?  Would we like the same sort of things?

I meet my match.  Nervous and shy, I mumble ‘salut’ and follow him into the store.  Everyone seems to be going for the xbox rack.  I overhear the hawttie telling her clerk "partner" that she’s been here since 5 am.  FIVE!  Now that’s dedication.  I can see the xbox aisle approaching.  The clerk stops.  I stop.  Something’s wrong.  I can see it in his face.  He drops the bombshell.

"Oh yeah, we only have core systems, you know that – right?"

AIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!

As any knowledgeable gamer knows, the only box to get is the premium systems, because it comes with a hard drive and all sorts of wonderful features that the core doesn’t include, but more importantly the premium edition allows you to play the games you owned for the previous xbox on the new one.  Without it, you’re restricted to only new games, and on top of that, no game saving unless you buy a memory card.

Clearly. Inadequate.

My partner seems to read into my disappointment.  If it weren’t for the fact that I was crushed right now, I could certainly see the beginning of a wonderful relationship forming.  I ask him what I should do.  And then – joy – a glimmer of hope!

"You can give me a call – I can tell you when they’ll arrive, and you can show up early and grab one when they do!"

It’s not much, but at least I’m not coming away empty-handed!  And then – score! – he gives me his extension number!  Hot damn!  I picked up a clerk!

We head towards the exit.  Shyly I ask him when he would think a good time to call would be.  I don’t want to rush things, you know?  That might scare him off.

"I’m on vacation in the first week of January, but you can give me a call the week after that!"

Annoyed, but satisfied for now, I head out back into the slush.  One 4-minute rocket bus ride with my body plastered to the back of the bus later, I find myself back at home, with hope in hand in the form of a hastily scribbled note.  My day will come.

Now, I’m fucking going back to sleep.

A Man’s Home is His Snow Fort

 

Another semester down the drain, another few credits (pending passing grade!) and another degree under my belt.

Say what?!

Actually, that’s a lie.  I’m still not entriely sure about the status of my master’s degree, since I’ve opted to go for the "fast track" program towards a doctorate, which allows you to get accepted into a doctorate program without turning in a thesis for a masters.  And since from what I hear a master’s needs a thesis for a degree, it suddenly appears that my ruse to get a degree without doing the required work now means I have put a year and a half into my graduate studies with absolutely nothing to show for it, save for pictures of a giant snow fort I made last winter!

Speaking of snow forts…

As my friend Dave so eloqently pointed out, in the span of 11 hours last, last night to early afternoon yesterday a freaking Ho-Ho-Whole lotta snow came to town, to bury all the naughty kids under a foot and a half of snow and make all the nice ones wonder where their bullies dissapeared to.  I tell you, it’s a great day indeed when you wake up to this on your back porch!

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After yelling in excitement and running around the apartment announcing the news to my disgruntled (and still slightly groggy) roommates, I decided then and there that I would have to do something with the mountain of snow so close at hand.  I mean, it was practically begging to be made into something …uh… impenetrable!

So, once again we took up the mighty tools of the snow masons (the stalwart "recycling bin" and the true "recycling bin internal seperator plastic sheet"), and began our long trek outside to our front lawn.  Exhausted, we contemplated what oh what we would attempt to make with the mountain of snow.  Naturally, this debate was already a foregone conclusion since Lindsay and I are guys and guys only see snow as a simple prerequisite to building a fort.  That, and occasionally the medium to bury your buddy’s face in à la "snow job".

We went to work.  It was slow going, mostly because every 20 minutes a neighbor would exit their house and begin to try to unearth (although I guess here it would be unsnow) thier vehicles using anyting they could get their hands on – one lady tried to do it with a broom.  Anyways, what this meant is that we would invaribly go over and help them out, which finally allowed us to meet quite a few of our neighbors at long last.  It also meant for a wicked sore back the following day :).

However, we faltered not and continued onward with our endeavor.  We were finally rewarded at the end of a long and sore day with our masterpiece:

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Spec-tacular.

View from the doorway:

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View from the back:

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I tell you, there’s no greater momment than when a passing child stops, looks up and his eyes glaze over, the only sound escaping from his slack jaw (besides the drool) being a sound of awe.  In that momment, we were gods to that kid.  Also, we can now throw snowballs as passing pedestrians with impunity.  They might break a few windows in their reply, but hey – those are the landlord’s.

Attack if you dare.

BAR

I went to Bar after my soccer game last night.  No, you don’t understand, that’s not a typo.  I went to BAR – that’s what it’s called.  It’s the next day, and I still feel dirty.

The evening started out with a bad omen – notably, the slight drizzle turning into a torrential monsoon the momment we parked next to the gym where our soccer game was to be played, only to stop after we entered – but the game was well fought and we came out of there happy with the knowledge that we would indeed be fighting for the championship once again in the playoffs.  Afterwards, glancing outside, we were all relieved to see that the rain had stopped, so we made out way out to discuss where we wanted to go celebrate with a drink.  The mighty rain gods however, seeing their favorite prey just standing around so utterly vulnerable to their whims, decided to once again unleash hell and soak every last one of us in the span of 30 seconds.  Shrieking like little schoolgirls, we ran to the cars and continued our conversations in a more "pardon-me-do-you-have-any-grey-poupon" type manner, and it was unanimously decided that no one knew knew where to go.  With such conviction in our spirits, we headed out in search of cheap beer. 

Riding in the lead car, discussing our options, the driver and I came the realization that there was a place right off the highway that we could grab a drink at, and so we made our way there.  Arriving, I see a giant unlit sign proclaming "Tavern" as well as three giant letters B-A-R painted in the corrugated frosted plastic windows.  Small speckles of light from cristmas bulbs (no doubt as old as the place itself) shone through the plastic just enough to make the place look even tackier from the outside than it already was. 

We gathered our resolve and made our way inside.

We looked around.

The place was deader than the proverbial horse that one has been kicking for the last three hours.  Actually, scratch that – there were two people in there.  One of which was a grizzled old man sitting towards the back of the place near the BAR (ha ha), smoking up a storm and wearing tinted glasses.  The other, I cannot descirbe to you as he quickly made an exit towards the back of the place and dissapeared behind a closed door.  Ahhh.. so very reassuring!

The old guy got up and greeted all eight of us, and proclaimed that "nous fermons!" (we’re closing!), but not to worry, there’s somewhere else we can go!

He walked towards the wall.  He grabbed on to a hidden latch and pulled.  A door, invisible before,  magically appeared!

"Go on through!" He growls.

Nervously we enter what could only be called the only bar crawlspace that I’ve ever been in.  Dark looming stairs lead down, up and away from the platform we’re on, and there’s another door to our right.  We’re led through it, and emerge into what was actually (relatively speaking to the last one, of course) a "happening" place.  i.e. it had music and a waitress.

We sit down, carefully chose our beer (they only had one kind) and laughed at the sign on the back door proclaiming: "Warning! Falling bricks outside!". 

Danny thinks often about opening his own restaurant one day, lovingly calling it: Heated Food

Hallo-weenie

Oog.

I might be tired, but that has NOTHING to do with Halloween.  Well, ok, it absolutely does but the point I was trying to make is that there were extenuating circumstances during the proceedings yesterday, which was unoffcially denounced as the
"Saturday-before-halloween-AND-before-daylight-savings-time-so-we-get-an-hour-bonus-so-let’s-PARTY" day
(I attended the meeting).

But to tell you about the night, it’s necessary (and unfortunate) to tell you first about the day.

So, soccer game at the ungawdly hour of 10 am on a Saturday morning for me.  Apparently, the only referee willing to be up this early is some 70-year old geezer who doesn’t run very fast at all, and who doesn’t see the need to follow the play close up.  Calling throw-ins from accross the field works fine for him, thank you very much!  Anyways, that’s another story.

The point, anyways, is that it was a brutal and close game and I was pretty tired by the end of it (notice, dear readers, the foreshadowing.  Ooo literary devices!).  But that’s pretty normal anyways.  What I want to do when I get home and what I have to do are two entirely and unfortunately mutually exclusive things.  Instead of chilling on the couch, I get to start working on my costume, while one of my roomates does the same.  We still don’t know why, but for some reason both of us came to the conclusion that creating the most complicated costumes of our lives was an insanely good idea, and it would all be worth it in the end.  Et tu, my once-mighty brain?  Is coming up with ideas like this some sort of punishment for my slowly killing you with alcohol and computer monitor radiation after all these years?  If so, I feel that your catching on only now is a problem in itself.  We’ll talk later.

So I’m pretty tired, and I finally take the decision to go as one Harvey Birdman (more), attorney at law, defenders of cartoon characters past.  I’ve never actually dressed up as a person before – I mostly have done hack jobs about concepts or reputable professions.  So this whole "get the character traits right" was a little new to me.

All in all, I was very proud of myself when it was complete:

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MORE! YOU WANT MORE!

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However, before it got to that suave final state, and while I was cursing at how much work was involved to make a pair of stinking wings out of cardboard, what was going on down the hall, pray tell?

IT WAS: LINDSAY SHAGPADDLE, Carpet Warrior!

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As you can see, I was insanely jealous of his +15 shag vest and tried to vent my emotions in my own special way.  Unfortunately for me, shag carpeting turns out to actually be quite functional as a form of armor and I was left bitter and inconsolable.  I tried again a little while later, but by that time he had fabricated himself a defensive weapon and I was denied my bloodlust once again.

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One thing I hate about Halloween is getting to whatever party you’re going to invariably involves some form of public transportation and therefore the inherent public humiliation that goes along with wearing something ridiculous among the throngs of people.  Add to this that the exact metro we choose to take was the one in which all the Canadians fans from the Bell Center decided to pour into after the hockey game, and I was feeling a little cramped.

My first (yes I said first) party was way out near Crémazie metro station, so I parted ways with my comfort group and made my way through dark alleys and abandoned parking lots looking like a superhero who really needs to get somewhere in a hurry.  My exhaustion lingers in the background.

I catch up with my good friend at the party (my costume is actually recognizable!), and then decide to make my way to the second where a bunch of people I know are hanging.  I call for directions and an address, and I’m off into the darkness once again!

I arrive at the right metro, and start walking.  And walking. And walking.  The directions are simple, yet long.  I turn down the required street.  Approaching the address.  Approaching.. 30 minutes later, cold and tired, I look up.

The road ends.  The address doesn’t exist.

I place a necessary phone call.

I repeat aloud the address on my piece of paper.

I start swearing.  Mostly at the person on the other end of the line.  Something about eating their firstborn.

I walk back up the bloody street for another 1000 addresses in the right direction.

I arrive, finally, I don’t know 90% of the people there, (interestingly a good 25-30% know me or Harvey Birdman) and it’s almost impossible to move around the apartment because of the massive amount of people present.  Notable is the German guy who dressed up as a large (large!) carboard box, who basically clogged up whatever room he stood in.  Good times.

The party was fun, there were a LOT of drunk people (and boy, I mean drunk), and we had St. Viateur bagles from the closeby store at the end of the night.  I get back in at 5 am, but thanks to modern technology and the elliptical orbit of the sun, I magically go to bed an hour earlier, dead from soccer and costuming and walking and walking and walking and dancing and walking again.  But it was a good Halloween :).

Quote of the night:

German box guy trying to go down the front steps to leave with his box on (i.e. recipe for disaster).  Asked if he had fun, he stated a little sadly and with finality:

"I’ll never be box again."

Beautiful. 

My Rogers Cup Runneth Over

In yet another sickening display of overindulgence of corporate advertising, I participated (thanks for the ticket, Dave!) in my very first attendance of a tennis tournament recently.

My first impression of the whole event turned out to be the right one.  As we approached the entrance, we were accosted by a duo asking for donations for cancer patients.  A noble effort to be sure, but for my donation I was given a sticker that awakened suspicions of some sort of corporate involvement:

Look familiar?  It’s a freaking scam!  Labatt’s getting little old ladies to collect money for their coffers, and if that wasn’t enough, they make people unknowingly promote their product all day long!

However, leaving the black helicopters aside for a second, taken at face value the sticker seems to promote happiness and good times.  I decided to go with this explanation, as all that conspiracy reverse-engineering was giving me a headache.  However, the corporations weren’t finished with me yet…

After walking inside the arena grounds the first thing that you can see is the various mini-mall tents lining the sides.  It’s basically an opportunity to shop before you go watch some tennis.  It was the first clue of the day of how one could really see that the sport of tennis has been derived from an extremely posh and well-off background.  Everything about the sport screams "high-class", and if this wasn’t that obvious in the first place with tennis being the only sport to my knowledge that has freaking servants collect the balls and towel you down, then perhaps the freaking art gallery would tip you off!

I appreciate art just as much as the next philistine, but at a sporting event?  It’s like a visual oxymoron.

However, even with my increasing grumbling, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, in order to address the complaint that the ball is difficult to see while in play, a new tennis ball size has been adopted:

At least this way we’re spared from the glowing-hockey-puck fiasco.

Still, I became emboldened by the discovery of sporting goods, because at least it’s not trying to sell you something that’s bad for you – although a fit body a $55 Adidas sport shirt does not automatically make.  You still have to do stuff in it.  Well, the spirit was there, at least.  And not only that, but the spirit took on a disturbing corporeal form:

Yes, that’s right kids.  I got to meet Vasy, Quebec’s new fitness mascot.  Although I have to admit, touching him was a odd experience – I have my suspicions that he’s mostly made up of some type of blue goo.  Either that or he chewed on Willy Wonka’s three-course-meal experimental gum.  By his example, I took a healthy course of action and quickly ran to the bathroom to wash my hands.

Being the large arena as it is, and my physical conditioning being nowhere close to the peak picture of health that Vasy enjoys, I quickly ran out of steam.  Dave took this opportunity to get one of the only free things offered that day (besides the air and brutal sunshine), and consequently single-handedly ruined any chance of a profit margin by the organisation.

Never fear though – the leeches didn’t build a stadium by giving things away.  I single-handedly put them back into the black by buying a "Nomad" 750 ml Evian water bottle for the reasonable price of $5.50 and some sunscreen for an understandable $12.91.  So basically I destroyed a $20 just so I could stay comfortably the same temperature I was before.  Invariability has its price, people!

The court was pretty nice, and we had great seats, although the sun was absolutely unrelenting.  I think at some point I could feel my skin trying to peel away in an attempt to flee.  Anyways, have a look for yourselves:

The two Canadians that we saw playing in the qualifications round were pretty soundly beat, but as we found out, tennis is a sport where its quite easy to stop paying attention (.mov, 7MB).

Two games were enough for us.  With a $10 roast beef sandwich in our bellies (it came with a baby carrot stick!), we decided to leave – but not before I had a chance to take on Vasy in a equal-footing race.  Of course, to compete with Mr. Perfect, "equal-footing" meant I needed some wheels.  Luckily a Smart car was handy!  Vroom vroom beep beep!

I creamed the bastard.  My honor was maintained.  Blue cheese, anyone?