Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dina Lohan: Still The Best Mom Ever

Inaugural Dishonour Roll inductee Dina Lohan is back in the headlines this week following the debut of her new show on E! Living Lohan.

The premise? Follow Dina et al around as she finds new ways to exploit her children and blame everyone else for the disaster that is her eldest child.

Back in November when Dina was dishonoured for her parenting skills, it was, for the most part, due to the antics of Lindsay and Dina's lack of interest in curbing her wild child daughter's self-destructive behaviour.

Today, it's a whole new barrel of monkeys.

You know what's an awesome parenting technique? Looking at porn that claims to be one of your daughters when the other walks in and asks you, "Is that Lindsay?"

This is precisely what happened in Episode 1 of Living Lohan.

Can you imagine? Ali is what, 15?

My parents would have slapped me silly had they found the porno mags I had tucked away in various locations throughout the house at age 15...

This woman is looking at porn claiming to be her daughter, not reacting in any way when her 15 year old walks in and asks about it and then calls Lindsay to confirm whether it is her or not.
How does that conversation go?

"Lindsay, it's Mommy. Listen baby, there are some pictures that look like you on the Internet. Did you suck any dick on camera recently?"

"Gee Mom, I dunno. It's been a while, I think. I haven't sucked any dick in like, three weeks. I'm a lesbian now, remember?"

The capper of it all is the next scene, where Dina insists that the paparazzi and the media attention have got to stop and threatens legal action to some poor schlep on the other end of a phone.

You know what would help Dina?

If you didn't prostitute your kids on television like they were giant cash cows.

But you couldn't do that now, could you? Then how would you get all the fame and attention you crave?

Peep the episode here.

Continue reading ...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Summertime
Artist: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Album: Homebase (1991)

Some songs just take you back... this is one of those songs for me.

Long before Will Smith was Hancock or Legend or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he was The Fresh Prince, one half of a dynamic duo that made simple, easy, enjoyable rap, at least in my youthful opinion at the time.

While most of the work Will & Jazz did together back in the day has lost a lot of it's luster as I've grown up, Summertime has endured.

Sampling Kool & The Gang's "Summer Madness," this track is an ode to the old school days of summer and it makes me nostalgic every time I hear it.

I owned this Cassingle.

Remember Cassingles? Came in a crappy little cardboard case that bent the minute you took the tape out?

Side one was the song, side two was usually the instrumental, which was fine here because you could do the rap yourself. But who needed an instrumental of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" like we had?

Anyway - this song has always been a favourite because it's an effortless track, void of the giggyness that has infected everything Will Smith has done post-Fresh Prince. Except for "Switch" - that joint was tight! It's simple yet fresh every time you hear it. There is no overproduction or complexity to the lyrics; just Will explaining what it is we all long to do ever day in the summer...

I got to see Will & Jazz do this song live a couple years back. They performed at the Prince's Trust concert I went to in London, England a few years back and the whole place went bananas when Will turned to Jazz and said, "Drums please!" (It's the opening line from the song...)

Instantly I was taken back to Chatham - living in Birdland, riding around on my bike every day after school, hanging out on the playground at our school.

Easier times. Simpler times. Happy times.

That's what music is supposed to do for you and this song does it for me.

You may not be able to get the cassingle, but you can download it... and I suggest that you do.

Continue reading ...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex in the Theatre

Tomorrow is Friday, May 30, 2008, a day women everywhere have been waiting for since February 22, 2004.

Conversely, it's a day men have been dreading for just about the same length of time.

Sex and the City
opens tomorrow.

Gentlemen, you can hand over your testicles at the ticket window. If you're watching this - and I don't care how hot she is or how much nasty sex she has promised you - you're no longer a man.

This show used to be awesome. Past tense.

When it first came out, it was a breath of fresh air for television - a show that was fun and entertaining, well written and poignant, with cougarlicious Kim Cattrall and Prim-and-Proper Kristin Davis serving as reason enough for men to tune in. Notice there is nothing in here about SJP or Big Red...

Now? It's old news. It jumped the shark a long time ago and no big screen adaptation / continuation is going to save it from the fate it already has.

Can I just be honest for a second?

SJP is kinda creepy looking. She's not hot. In the picture above, she looks kind of like a tranny... crossed with a horse.

And Cynthia Nixon is just, well, Cynthia Nixon and she's the one who gets most naked in this film guys, in case you had your hopes up for some excessive Kristin Davis flesh.

Of course, none of this matters. Nothing is going to stop millions of shopaholic Carrie Bradshaw wannabes from flocking to theatres from Kamloops to Kalamazoo to watch the Ultimate Chick Flick and think it is the greatest movie in the history of movies. This movie will be to women what The Godfather, Scarface and Slap Shot are to men...

Movies of television shows just don't work, unless it's Star Trek. A Friends movie would be brutal, because really, what more can be done? This crap that comes out tomorrow is no different.

If the plot was so great that it just had to be done - as opposed to being an opportunity to capitalize on merchandising and people's allegiance to a once great show - than it would have appeared while the show was enjoying it's outstanding run, wouldn't it?

D'you know what makes all this even better?

The first one isn't even out yet and ol' Horseface is already talking about a sequel...


Continue reading ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Rundown: Are You A Skeet?

Some of you may not be familiar with the term skeet.

You've heard of Skeet Shooting and, well, skeet shooting and maybe you even remember Skeet Ulrich.

But what exactly is a skeet?

A skeet is an amalgam of all things low class and uncouth in the world.

Our dear friend Cletus Del Roy Spuckler (pictured) is a redneck skeet, but let me assure you that skeetdom knows no boundaries.

You can have redneck skeets like Cletus, little wannabe gangsta skeets, grown-up Nascar-loving skeets and on and on. Age isn't an issue either, as there are just as many 12-year-old skeets as there are 40-year-old residents of Skeetville.

In fact, you may have been aware of skeets all along. Maybe you just called them something else: rednecks, hillbillies, trailer trash, Britney Spears, tools... you get the point.

No matter what you call them, there are certainly surefire signs to being a skeet.

Top Five Signs You Might Be A Skeet

5. When Your Outfit Consists of Track Pants, Crocs and a Dirty Tank Top... With Your Pregnant Belly Sticking Out
When Jennifer Aniston did it as Rachel Green in Season 8 of Friends, it got a big laugh. But here is a little tip: if you're not Jennifer Aniston, reconsider the wardrobe. Sadly, some people haven't gotten the message. We saw one such unfortunate sole strolling through Wal-Mart this weekend. As an aside, if you want to see the biggest collection of skeets under one roof, hit up your local Wal-Mart* on a Saturday afternoon...

4. Telling Complete Strangers Intimate Details of Your Life
Like, say, that the 18-month-old in your arms was an accident? Who does this? Skeets, that's who. There is no social tact, no understanding that that information isn't something to be shared with the couple you just met, firstly because it's private and kind of personal and secondly because we're only here to see if we can adopt your dog, not get to know you and become friends. Bonus points for mentioning nuggets like this in front of your other children too.

3. Vocabulary
Do you axe people questions? Do you enjoy reading at the libary? Do you say fuck more than any other word regardless of whether you're talking to a close friend or a complete stranger? These are just some of the signs that indicate you very well could be a skeet. Everyone uses slang and has colloquialisms that they share with their friends, but skeets have only this. Basic grammar and sentence structure are radical concepts; thinking "gangsterdom" is a real word on the other hand...

2. The Cigarette Test
Is your favourite brand Other Peoples? Do you use the words, "Gotta smoke, brother?" on a regular basis? When met with, "No, sorry this is my last one" do you reply, "Cool, can I have a draw?" Do you smoke simply because you think it makes you look cool and not because you can't get enough of that sweet, sweet nicotine like the rest of us? Welcome to Skeetville, Population You.

1. Other People's Reactions to You
When you're out in public, do people regularly give you the once over and not in that, "Hey, they're checking me out" sort of way? Is it more like a "Wow, can you believe he/she is wearing that?" or "Is that not the best mullet you've seen in a long time?" type of fashion? Sorry to burst your bubble... You're a skeet.

* Nothing against Wal-Mart; I like the place, but seriously, read this post, stroll through there on a Saturday afternoon and tell me I'm wrong!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Adventures of Johnny Domestic

From the time Sarah and I first started talking about settling down together, we've talked about me staying home and being a House Husband.

No, that doesn't mean I'll be sitting on the couch all afternoon watching baseball games and Oprah; it means I'll be working from home - I have the office design already in mind - taking care of Gizmo (if we get him) and the kids (when we have some), making dinner, doing laundry, etc.

Basically, I will be Johnny Domestic.

Today is a practice day for that future life in a way.

Sarah is currently on nights, which means her day is spent sawing logs, leaving me with copious amounts of time on my hands to get shit done. Sadly, I only crawled out of bed at 11 this morning, so I got a bit of a late start. But we're cooking with gas now!

Laundry is ready to roll - both whites and darks, as well as the delicates that don't go in the dryer. Yes, I know what stuff doesn't go in the dryer. It goes on the drying rack.

The house is fairly tidy and now it's time to tackle dinner.

Lemme tell you - this is going to be one bad-ass dinner!

We picked up some Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna Steaks the other day - they look a lot like the pepper-crusted delicious steaks above - and tonight is the night we feast on them. But plain old Tuna Steaks would be boring.

We're doing Ahi Tuna Burgers.

Well, slabs really, because mincing and mashing tuna like this would be a sin. Instead, it'll get split in two, dipped into some light soy and laid on the barbecue. Since the tuna is the star of the show, I'll going with really thin, fresh buns and a wasabi mayo with fresh avocado and cucumbers.

Then, once Sarah leaves for work, I'll do the dishes, flip the laundry, take out the trash, do a little writing and watch some sports.

This is a day in the life of Johnny Domestic...

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Monday, May 26, 2008

And Now We Wait...

Yesterday afternoon, Sarah and I went to meet our potential new dog.

Yes, that's him. Isn't he cute?

After meeting him, two things were certain:

  1. Our original name idea - Pickle - doesn't suit him. He's a Dog Faced Gremlin and so, his new name will be Gizmo.

  2. We really, really, really love this dog!
The uncertain thing is whether we're actually going to get this dog.
Yesterday, when we met the dog, we also met the family, obviously.
The dog actually belongs to the most mature 9-year-old girl I have ever met, although her apparent lack of exercising the dog is the reason he could become a Kyte.

At least, that's the reason we were given.

After spending thirty minutes with the family - except for the father / husband - Sarah and I came to a couple revelations:

  • Dad hates this dog. He has a Lab and this little dog is the furthest thing from a Lab.

  • It's entirely possible that we're serving as a wake up call to this poor 9 year old who is being expected to provide solo care for this dog.

I don't care how mature your kids are - who gets their 7-year-old a dog and then expects her to be the only one who takes care of it? She's a kid for chrissakes!

It probably doesn't help that the family of five also has a big Lab, two ferrets, a guinea pig, some fish, a couple sharks and a camel in the backyard...

Mix in a 14-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter and a one-year-old who we were shockingly told was a surprise - I'm not lying! - and you can see how the townhouse might be a little crowded.

Oh yeah, the fact that our potential future dog can also tackle the little girl - which he did at one point yesterday - might work in our favour too.

We sent an email thanking them for the visit and got one back earlier today asking for a little patience while they talk things over.

So now, we wait, fingers crossed, dog treats at the ready.

Continue reading ...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

This week was full of developments and distractions, so grab a cup of coffee - or your drink of choice - and settle in to get caught up on what's been going on...

1. Get Tired of Sushi? Not Possible
Sarah and I stopped on the way home from Cornwall last Friday night and feasted, as per usual, at the All-You-Can-Eat joint in Kitchener that we love. As Garry didn't accompany us, he felt left out and craving sushi. So we went again Monday night. I honestly would eat this stuff every day of the week if money wasn't an object and AYCE joints are the best place to try for beginners, since you can pick at stuff everyone else likes without paying an arm and a leg.

2. Serving: It's Like Riding a Bike
Tuesday was Shift #1 back in the realm of restaurant service and other than having no clue where anything was (getting better) or what the hell is on the menu (know it cold now), everything was aces. How could it not be? It's serving. You bring out the food, smile like an idiot, lather, rinse, repeat. My training wheels are off now too. I'm all growed up!

3. We've Found a Dog!
Actually, Sarah found him, but I love him just as much as she does and we haven't even met him yet. Him is Luka, a 18-month-old 3/4 Pug, 1/4 Jack Russell - that makes him a Jug - who we're meeting this afternoon. Should he become a member of the family, his name will be changed to Pickle. Why Pickle? Why not?

4. Now I Know How Vanessa Loring Felt, Except Not
Vanessa Loring being Jennifer Garner's character in Juno for the awesomeness challenged. Over the course of the week, we've gone from getting to meet the dog to bringing the dog home yesterday to bringing him home today to come meet him Sunday and we'll go from there. I couldn't imagine how nerve racking it would be to do this with a child. We haven't even met the little snorting drool machine and we already know that it'll be Sad Bastard Central if we don't get him. Imagine if he was a kid? I wouldn't leave the house for weeks...

5. Driving My Dream Car, Circa 1993
I was 15 in 1993, so I wasn't driving anything. If I was, I wanted to be driving a Civic Hatchback. You know, the one with the bubbled-out back, sits low to the road and was everywhere? That one. Fifteen years later, I'm driving that car. Vic - yes, I know, not very original - is great, in terms of what we need right now. But in terms of former Dream Car, it's like having had a school boy crush on Alyssa Milano and watching her grow up into a baseball player groupie... kind of a letdown.

6. Exercise - Not As Bad As I Always Thought
Playing demolition derby with Bambi over Christmas forced me to walk a lot during the final months of being in Newfoundland. Moving home, I still tend to walk to work as often as I can. And I gotta say, I like it! Work is 1.5 km from home, which means a round trip is 3 klicks worth of exercise, something it would have taken me three weeks to accumulate pre-Christmas Crash. Now, not even a little rain stops me from walking home. Probably because it's only wussy Ontario rain and I barely get damp. It's not like a good old Newfie Rain Storm!

7. Irons in the Fire, Part I
My man and regular iBlog commentor Newt and I have been discussing a joint venture a little as of late - Vain? Maybe. Useful? I think so. It would basically be like a Spencer Kyte Wal-Mart - you could read the blog, check out updates on upcoming projects, link to my Bugs and Epic posts and get your milk, laundry detergent and a cute new outfit all in one place. Feedback please...

8. Irons in the Fire, Part II
Add another freelancing job to the resume! Got in touch with the fine folks at Canadian Sports Magazine over the past week and it looks as if we're going to be able to get together on some work in the very near future.

9. Cross Those Fingers People
Applied to be a newspaper man earlier in the week and all the good thoughts and superstitious activities you can think up would be greatly appreciated. The Kingston Whig-Standard is looking for a new Sports Reporter, so I figured, "Why Not?" Worse case, they, like the Kitchener Record, don't bother getting back to me. No harm, no foul. $1.21 well spent.

10. Tomorrow is #200!
Can you believe I've churned out 199 of these things already?
Can you believe how much time you've wasted reading them?
Thanks for the 199 posts worth of support gang!

Continue reading ...

Can I Get You a Side of Shut the Hell Up?

That one goes for guests and employees alike.

Week One at The Cookhouse is just about in the books and after my first night on my own - tonight - I have come to remember what I both love and hate about the restaurant business.

Guests are going to complain; it's a fact of life and there is absolutely nothing that we as servers can do about it. Going Waiting-style on the steaks just isn't possible, nor is pulling a Tyler Durden with the Lobster Bisque.

Here's the thing though, and I offer this as an advisement to those of you thinking of going out for dinner any time soon.

If you're going out on a Friday or Saturday night to a "family" chain establishment, you have no one to blame but yourself when it takes 45 minutes from seat to eat.

It's Friday or Saturday and you're one party out of 70 in the building, all sitting waiting on Apps, Entrees, refills and bills. Be happy that you're not having to sit at home and cook yourself, not to mention having dishes to worry about and understand that you're not the only one who is hungry.

Don't like waiting? Either show up before or after peak hours or stay home. It's as simple as that.

What kicks me in the crotch even more is listening to servers bitch and moan about slow kitchen service, poor tips and not having as many tables as they would like.

Listen gang, we'd all love to make $300 a night in tips, have 10 great tables and our food come out piping hot and perfectly on time every time we send an order.

I'd also like a publisher to call me, offer to publish every book idea I have, drafts unseen and Sarah to get to work 9-5 on her dream floor for $100K a year.

See where I'm going with this?

There are only ever two options: Shut up, suck it up and do your job or hand in your pouch, punch out and find another job. It's that easy.

Want more hours? Pick up shifts and change your availability.
Want to make more tips? Try smiling and taking care of the people at your tables.

In the mean time, do the things you're responsible for, like running your own food, helping others run theirs and even if the people at your tables are total jackasses, do your best and take whatever they give you, whether it's 5 cents or 50 bucks.

Or else you're just taking up shifts that I'd love to have, even if it's only 2 hours...

Continue reading ...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: After Tonight
Artist: Justin Nozuka
Album: Holly (2006)

Acoustic Guitar.
Distinct Voice.
What more do you need?

Loyal readers, if you haven't discovered Justin Nozuka on your own as of yet, please do. You won't regret it.

The younger brother of George - as in "Talk to Me" and "Lie to Me" George - Justin brings a much different sound and style than his Backstreet Boy endorsed older sibling.

Blending Jack Johnson-esque acoustics with a hip hop edge, this song has been in heavy rotation since hearing it, of all places, in my Mom's car when I first got home. It's on the 2008 Juno disc...

Thanks Faye...

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dishonour Roll: eLearning

That's right. It's back! At least for today, anyways...

Whoever came up with the idea of eLearning needs to be kicked in the crotch, regardless of gender.

This is quite possibly the worst invention ever and makes my list of reasons why I want to be a full-time writer, just after "Getting dressed for work means putting on underwear" and right ahead of "Watching crappy Daytime TV on a regular basis."

With the move to Montana's comes 23 online instructional video sessions to sit through.

No, I'm not exaggerating, there really are 23 videos.

Besides being voiced by some constipated tool who speaks like you've hit the slow motion button, they are nothing more than a time-suck filled with obvious information and common sense logic that companies are forced to force upon their staff because some dipshit thought trying to catch a falling knife was a good idea...

The best part though, is that no matter what position you're in, you have to do all of the training. So here's me, Johnny Server, spending two hours last night clicking through the Safe Knife Handling session when the only time a knife will ever be in my hands is in my own kitchen. And should I want to wipe that knife on my pants or chop both meat and vegetables with it, the eLearning Police aren't going to come barging through my door... are they?

I suppose I shouldn't be mad at Montana's or even the fact that I have to do this mind-numbing nightly exercise since they do pay me for it.

I should really be mad at the dumb sacks of hammers who make some of the ridiculous mistakes they illustrate in these sessions, because you know somewhere along the line, some jackass actually handed a knife to a colleague blade side out or stabbed himself while improperly sharpening a knife.

At least it's not as bad as Home Depot - they wouldn't even let me go near a cash register until I had complete 20 hours of this shit. Can have someone working as a cashier unless they understand the science of scanning a barcode...

Continue reading ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Rundown: Back From The Dead

I just pulled up all the installments of The Rundown that have appeared here - an easy little trick involving clicking the label marked "The Rundown" for all those interested - and discovered that the last installment ran on April 23.

That was a month ago!

What in the hell have I been doing on Wednesday's over the last month that has kept me from fulfilling my witty obligations to you, my faithful readers?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Anywho - since this week has been dedicated to rededicating myself to my craft and getting back on track, why not salute some others who have decided to do the same?

Top Five Current Comebacks

5. New Kids On The Block
Yeah, I don't even care how ridiculous this sounds to you. Last week when we were getting ready to go to Buster's funeral, I flipped on the Today Show and there were Jordan, Jon, Donnie, Danny and Joey uniformly styled, microphones in hand, breaking out harmonized lyrics and choreographed dance moves and it made me all nostalgic. Ah, Grade 6...

4. 90210
Speaking of nostalgia - the Zip Code is back bitches! I actually have only one interest in this show, which I'll tell you about later, but what I am looking forward to is all the memories of Old School 90210 that are sure to pop up all over the Pop Culture World in the next couple week's as the show starts up.

3. Brian Austin Green
Sprinkling in a little extra 90210 nostalgia, the former David Silver makes the list not because he's returning to host the morning radio show at West Beverly again or because Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is actually a really good show, but because he is inexplicably engaged to Megan Fox. How do things like this happen? He dated Tiffani Amber Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski!) and then was engaged to Vanessa Marcil. Now Megan Fox. He's the "Brian" tattooed in script just above her who-ha! You have to give the guy his due - that's a really, really good list for a crappy actor and even worse musician.

2. Alanis Morissette
Can you believe it was 13 years ago that Jagged Little Pill came out? "You Oughta Know" is still a killer track, despite how crappy "Ironic" and "Hand in my Pocket" were. Anyway, Ms. Morissette is back with a new album dropping in early June and I for one am excited, for a couple reasons. One, she's actually talented, unlike many female starlets and two, she's returning to her JLP roots, having written what is a more grown up breakup album. I will say this though: Ryan Reynolds' answer to Alanis' most famous lyric is, "No. He's thinking of Scarlett Johannson when he's fucking Scarlett Johannson."

1. Lori Laughlin
This is why I'm interested in the new 90210! Aunt Becky from Full House is the new Cindy Walsh and lemme tell you, the years have been good to her. She's still a knockout! Grown up, is there a better looking female cast than Full House's Tanners? I'm going to vote no.

Continue reading ...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Our House Edition

Thankfully, reorganizing our London living space didn't involve the delicately coiffed Ty Pennington and his band of overly enthusiastic, sentimental carpenters, designers and trades people.

I don't know if there is a group of people on television who annoy me more than the folks riding that big, stupid bus.

It did take about three weeks from start to finish. More correctly, it took three weeks from start to "organized and sorted out enough that no one is going to go postal in the next couple weeks while we finish tinkering with designs and alignments."

You see, Sarah and I are both pretty anal retentive about some things.

Number one for me is cooking - as in, if I'm cooking, why exactly are you in the kitchen, touching my food and taking up my space?

As much as my mother would try to refute this, number two is organization. Everything has a place where it belongs, so why not put it there? Dirty dishes and garbage are my biggest pet peeves, especially when you leave the dishes on top of the dishwasher and the garbage next to the trash can...

Sarah can get screaming mad - literally - when things aren't clean and organized and out of her way. It's a frightening occurrence that I could do without...

So Sunday night, Sarah and I got talking about our plans for yesterday; what we wanted to get done, what to have for dinner, etc.

Finishing the Guest Room / Office was Priority #1 on my list, especially with Garry heading to BC for another two weeks this AM.

Since I spend a ton of time in here, having it organized and inviting is important to me. I couldn't finish it on my own, however, because we needed the shelving unit from downstairs and the new guy to the house doesn't go moving all of his future father-in-law's junk, no matter how many weeks it's been since he first mentioned he was going to do so.

Sarah, however, is a different story. She's Daddy's Little Girl (I might get smacked for that one) and so when she mentions moving the shelving unit, within 30 minutes it has been cleaned off and relocated to the Guest Room.

She also managed to get the basement cleaned up as well. Not only is all the clutter and junk that has just been sitting around since Christ was a cowboy been discarded (or at least moved somewhere else), but the alignment of the basement is way better now.

The final steps in the process will happen later today - cleaning out the fridge, freezer and cupboards and doing a massive reorganization.

Then we're done and we managed to do it without any sappy stories, dreamy carpenters or collection of neighbours yelling, "Move that bus!"

Continue reading ...

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Rebirth of Slick

The long-forgotten hip hop act Digable Planets' most well-known hit is becoming the motto for this time of renewal in my life.

Over the past ten days, I've had a lot to deal with - getting my head around the passing of my grandfather, thinking a lot about the awkward interactions with my father at his funeral and plotting my course for the next little while, to name a few.

Writing has taken a backseat to getting my ducks in a row.

They're all straightened away now and it's time to rekindle the fire that brought both you and me here in the first place.

I used to wake up on Mondays not very interested in the week ahead.

Talib Kweli put my feelings on this particular Monday best in his contribution to the Soundtrack of My Life:

This morning, I woke up
Feeling brand new and I jumped up
Feeling my highs, and my lows
In my soul, and my goals
Just to stop smokin, and stop drinkin
And I've been thinkin - I've got my reasons
Just to get (by), just to get (by)
Just to get (by), just to get (by)

I took the last couple days off to just get home and get right; relax from a taxing ten days and plot a course for the summer that is rapidly approaching.

I set some goals for myself:
  • Drop some weight - 20 pounds or so
  • Get in shape
  • Stop smoking - I know, I know... you've heard that before
  • Write every day
  • See if anyone is interested in publishing the ideas that rattle around in my head
We're going to Vancouver in September to spend some time with Sarah's Mum, brother and West Coast friends and that is the target date I am using as a measuring stick.

Imagine how nice it would be to roll out to VanCity all tucked up, off the darts and able to tell my future Mother-in-Law that instead of worrying that I am going to be a low income, starving artist, house husband as originally expected I am a full-fledged, well-received, soon-to-be-published author.

As cool as that news would be to deliver to Jane, I want to deliver that news to myself and Sarah more than anything.

This is the first step to that end.

This is The Rebirth of Slick...

Continue reading ...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yesterday was a beautiful ending to a long 10 days, as we laid my grandfather and namesake Edgar Gordon Levy to rest in Cornwall, Ontario.

This wasn't a day of sorrow and misery; yes there was sadness, but it was sadness from not being able to share the stories we told and the laughs we had with the man who inspired them all, the glue that held our family and friends together for so many years.

Yesterday was a day of remembering Papa and paying tribute to him and we did that in spades.

Faye read a great eulogy - sweet, funny, proud, all things Papa was every day.

The four grandsons - Rob, John, Peter and myself - all delivered readings and served as Pallbearers alongside four of Buster's closest and dearest friends - Ricky, Jack, Robin and Keith.

It wasn't until we laid Papa down at his final resting place that the emotion hit me.

Resting behind Papa - waiting for him for the last thirty years - was his only son, my uncle Eddie, who died tragically ten days after I was born in 1978.

One of the first thoughts I had upon hearing the news of Buster's passing on Tuesday was that now he's reunited with Eddie and the two of them have already lined up a couple fishing and hunting trips up in Heaven.

As we waited in the little room they usherd the eight pallbearers into, the stories and memories and laughs flowing freely, Robin looked around the room with a smile and said, "You know him and Eddie have already gone fishing together."

Everyone smiled and nodded their head, knowing full well that Papa was doing just fine.

In fact, yesterday, I think he was doing better than the rest of us.

So long Pere...
Give me a hand every once in a while, between fishing trips...
And say hi to Uncle Eddie for me.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Our "New Car" Was Stolen...

For about 3 hours and 45 minutes.

We only knew about this for the 45 minutes, which started when the gentlemen with poor English phoned the house to see if we picked up the car and ended when Garry got back to the house after stopping at the shop.

"It's sitting right there," he said to me as I marched to the porch for yet another anger-induced smoke. "I stopped on my way in and the car is sitting there."

So many questions. So many frustrations.

  • How do you send three hours seemingly unable to find a car that is sitting in plain sight?
  • What kind of bullshit operation did I take my car to?
  • Why in the name of all things holy would you only call me three hours after you opened to find out if my car was in fact stolen or picked up?
  • Exactly when am I going to get my car back from these freaks?
I certainly should have just taken the car to Midas yesterday like I had originally intended. Being a cheap bastard got the best of me and an E-test and Certification for $230 sounded too good to be true.

It nearly was.

Now, it's 12:30 and they have only just resumed fixing the problems (whatever they are) that caused our new '93 Civic Hatchback to fail the E-test and meet certification standards so we can go and register the damn thing.

Interestingly enough, we don't really need the car all that much. I'm done working halfway across town at Lackluster Video, so now Sarah and I can both make it to work with nothing more than two feet and a heartbeat. That's ironic Alanis. An old man turning 98, winning the lottery and dying the next day is a kick in the nuts, not irony.

* * * * * * * * * *

I want to thank everyone for their kind words here, on Facebook and MSN over the last day. It means a lot to Sarah and I, as well as my family.

We're heading out tomorrow morning - carpooling with my brother and his fiance, which ought to be interesting - so I'll be missing Thursday and Friday's Soundtrack post will probably be up fairly late.

Let's face it - it's prolly going to be a sad bastard song too, just so you know.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Edgar Gordon Levy: April 7, 1918 - May 13, 2008

"There's nothing to be scared of Spence."

That's what my grandpa said to me Saturday afternoon as he lay in a bed in the ICU of a Cornwall Hospital, the members of his family funneling in and out of his room, knowing he would be going to a better place very soon.

Early this morning, he passed away.

Friday night, after almost everyone had left the hospital, Buster had a massive heart attack and we were all called back to the hospital. He hadn't seen anyone during the day, as chest pains were making him uncomfortable and the ever-proud patriarch of the Levy Family wasn't up for visitors.

As I walked into his room early Saturday morning, the bright smile that I will always remember my grandpa for came to his face.

"Hi Spence," he said, reaching out his hand for me to hold. "I hear congratulations are in order." He wasn't avoiding the obvious; he was being Buster. Enough about me, let's talk about you.

Later in the day, when Sarah came in with me to say hello/goodbye, Buster spoke with her and then turned to me with a wink and asked how we - he and I - had ended up with such beautiful women in our lives.

"They like the name Pop. It's all in the name," I replied.

Buster laughed as best he could and squeezed my hand a little tighter.

"I read your articles, you know. Nan found a place that sells your magazine and we both read those articles," he told me, showing the support he has always provided, even in his last days. "You've found something you love and you're good at it. Make sure you keep it up."

"Did you see that E at the front of the name?" I questioned. The smile I got in return was all the answer I needed.

That E stands for Edgar - in honour and now in memory of my grandfather.

You're the best man I've ever know and I miss you already Pop...

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Anyone Know a Good Publisher?

I went to bed at 12:30 last night.

At 12:45 I was tossing and turning, thoughts racing through my head.

By 1:00, my ass was parked in front of this computer, tapping away at the keys, feverishly firing out the first 1000 words of what I think will be an outstanding book.

No - not the one about me and my old man. Another one. A different one. One that is a little more - how shall I put this? - marketable.

And there is a market for it. I know. I checked.

Problem is, I have no idea who to contact about said idea and making it a reality.

I'm so confident in this idea that I want to shop it before it's even complete, that's how confident I am that someone else will recognize the idea as the original, exciting and potentially lucrative concept I think it is.

I've started flipping through the Interwebs looking for publishers and have stumbled across a couple, but none of them appeal to me. Maybe I'm thinking too big, but some small town press in Nowhere, Ontario isn't who I see putting this bad boy out.

This concept is worthy of the big boys, only I'm not sure who the big boys are and how I would get in touch with them.

If you've got more insight into this than me, fill me in would ya?

In the meantime, I've got some more writing to do...

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

10 Things I Learned This Week

1. My Grandfather is a Great Man
I knew this all along, but seeing the people who have shown up to see him at the hospital and the phone calls that have poured into my grandmother's house asking about him reminded me. Buster is an institution in Cornwall, but he's also the glue that holds our family together, along with Nan, of course. In the span of two days, everyone was there. That tells you how important he is to us all.

2. My Son Will Have Edgar in His Name
The legacy needs to be carried on...

3. I Have an Incredible Girl
She's been with me the whole time and she's been outstanding. She knows me almost as well as I know myself and knows when to talk and when nothing at all is what needs to be said. My family gave me the best gift I could ever ask for this past couple days, opening their arms and accepting her fully into our little group. You're my rock Sarah... I Love You!

4. No More Blockbuster
All this Cornwall business put an end to Blockbuster before the official date could arrive. Sadly, I didn't get to have a "Fuck Blockbuster" moment yet. Maybe I'll burn all my uniforms later. I will say this: there isn't a single ounce of me that is going to miss that job. No one should hate what they do. Life is too short to not follow your dreams.

5. Speaking of Dreams...

Starting tomorrow, writing becomes Priority #1. Passion falling by the wayside (or wherever it has fallen as of right now) is a good thing, because it gives me more time to go out and grab at bigger, brassier rings and that is what I intend to do. It's time to make this shit happen instead of waiting for it to come to me.

6. I Think I Gotta Make Up With My Old Man
This being angry is just too damn hard. I'm too damn old to still be walking around holding grudges. Yeah, he fucked up and we had a couple good dust-ups about it. Time to move forward. Life is happening rapidly around me and he is one obstacle that I can't keep avoiding.

7. The Wedding Planning Has Commenced

Destination Wedding Magazine #1 was purchased last night - not by me you bunch of smart-ass bastards - and talk on The Cole Side of an Engagement Party sometime this summer has begun as well. I find it hilarious that everyone took that one week to be caught off guard and surprised, then dove into planning mode head first. Time to start on My Guest List I suppose...

8. Ryan Seacrest is a Total Douchebag!

Not that I hadn't realized this before, but the only radio station we could get pre-Toronto on yesterday's drive home had American Top 40 on and hearing that uber-douche talk made me want to drive the car into an overpass. Thankfully, Sarah was driving and I could just stare out the window, fuming at how much I hate Ryan Seacrest.

9. Living Here is Weird
Not weird bad, just weird. I think anyone who has been on their own for an extended period of time then moves back into a parent's home will tell you the same thing. Just odd going from walking around your apartment naked - if you're so inclined - and peeing with the door open whilst talking to the missus to closing the door and always having pants on.

10. The Jays Are Done
Read the latest B&C piece if you don't know why already. It's going to be a long summer of trying to make crappy baseball seem interesting... but we'll still give it a shot!

Continue reading ...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Just Like Death and Taxes

You can add a Spring corporate structure conflict with Passion Magazine to the above list of inevitable events.

It happened last year, it's happening again now and all I can say is, "Awesome!"

Yesterday sucked enough on it's own.

I didn't need to any news from Passion pissing in my cornflakes to ruin the day. So when I clicked into my email last night to check the status of my completed and submitted Michael Musto Interview - which was to be running in the next issue - and had one new message, this was not what I expected or needed.

Basically, everything is on hold.

My interview.
The issue.
The magazine in general.

Had I not gotten the news I received yesterday, this would have been a colossal kick in the nuts, but whatever. I've benefited from my relationship with Passion more than they have benefited from having me on the writing staff and should the issue or the magazine not move forward, the intellectual property that is my interview with Michael Musto will be become a free agent piece that I shop like a mo'fo in efforts to secure a new gig.

I was planning on doing just that anyway. Not with the interview, but with my services.

In the relatively short time that I have been professionally putting pen to paper, I've built a reasonably good-looking portfolio of Pop Culture, prose and sports-minded pieces that look awful good when lined up front to back in an Adobe file.

So, I'm going to put some polish to the pieces, burn them onto a CD or 7, send out feelers and see what happens.

Worst case? Bugs, Epic, Trot Magazine and this here blog.

Best case? Who knows? Someone might actually think what I have to say is amusing...

You know, besides you lot!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

For Buster...

No Rundown today. This one is real personal, so if you're not into that, come back tomorrow.

I'm asking for your strength and your prayers.

My grandpa and namesake - Edgar Gordon Levy - is in the hospital right now. He went in a couple days ago and while one concern has been dealt with, there are still a handful of unanswered questions to go along with the knowledge that at age 90, being in the hospital is never a good thing.

Buster is the only grandfather I have ever known; my dad's dad died when the old man was six, but somehow, Buster more than made up for the lack of a paternal grandfather. He was the best. Hell, he still is the best.

A gifted and talented artist, I know my passion for prose comes through him, as page upon page of handwritten notes and letters used to arrive at the house about once every two weeks. Some of his paintings still hang in Faye's apartment and I hope to one day scam one from her to have in our place.

Around Cornwall, he is the master of the St. Lawrence - the guy you need to talk to when you're heading out onto the water in search of perch, bass, pike or anything in between. Buster has the spots, the status report and the best homemade minnow traps every produced. Besides, a bad day on the water is better than a good day anywhere else...

Except at the track!

That love of horse racing that courses through the veins of Pete and I may come from Faye and Phil, but Faye sure as shit got it from her old man. For the last I don't know how many years, he's stashed away his allowance every week to build "The Bankroll," a pocket full of potential to wager at the wickets on longshots, sure things and hot tips at the track. Whether it be the old days of crossing the bridge to Massina, New York or hitting one of the shady spots that ran OTB in Cornwall itself, if we were in town, we made a trip to the track.

My mind is going to be preoccupied a little until I know what's going to happen with my grandpa, so I apologize in advance if I miss giving you your fix over the next couple of days...

I'm talking to you here Newt! Just kidding...

I'll be here and I will keep you posted.

When I talked to him last week he told me how proud he was that I had found something I was passionate about, so I can't stop, not for nothing.

That's the way he would want it.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Next Move

With one part of life sorted out, we've wasted no time in getting down to work on the next phase of life, deciding where exactly we want to set up shop for the foreseeable future.

Eschewed are the pipe dream ideas of moving to the Cayman Islands or England or somewhere exotic; while any of those would be nice, they're not really feasible and since we're in the process of growing up, being realistic is important.

Over coffees (both of us) and cigarettes (just me) this morning, I think we narrowed the field down to three legitimate, realistic choices. They are:

  1. Cambridge / Kitchener / Waterloo
  2. Northern British Columbia
  3. Midland
Rocking the Tri-Cities would work on a number of levels, as it is central to both of our Ontario-based families and close enough to Toronto that we can jump on the 401 and catch a game / show / concert / meal any time our schedules allow. There is also the added bonus of being located in an area where I have a great deal of contacts and opportunities to continue to build this writing career of mine.

NBC makes sense because the fine folks in government in Sarah's home province would pay back her sizable Student Loan for her, as well as contribute extra cash on every pay cheque for her having two degrees. Couple that with being in closer proximity to her Mum and brother, the beautiful and spacious outdoors Sarah loves and I'm coming to enjoy as well and these two lead dogs are neck and neck...

Midland is a distant third simply because, well, it's Midland. The benefit, or potential benefit, is a place to stay at a reduced rate when Sarah's Aunt and Uncle make their regular winter pilgrimage to California or Florida or whatever warmer climate they decide to inhabit this winter. Faye might be up there too, but since Faye has about as much of a plan as to where she'll be in September as we do, we're leaving her out of the discussion for now.

Feel free to cast your votes in the comment section.

Sorry Newfoundlanders, but coming back to St. John's isn't an option.

Continue reading ...

Monday, May 5, 2008

An Engaging Story

We're gettin' hitched!

Saturday night I asked Sarah to marry me and for some reason she actually agreed.

I'll pass along your congratulations - we're both really appreciative of all the support and excitement from the last couple days.

So I know what you're thinking: How'd you do it?

I'm glad you asked.

It starts a year and a half ago - October 2006 - when Sarah came home from Newfoundland for my cousin Rob's wedding. I went to pick her up and had made a sign one night at work that read "Welcome Home Baby!" and held it up like a sappy doofus when she came through the doors at Pearson.

Since then, every time I have had to pick her up at the airport - which hasn't been many, but still - I've brought that sign. Saturday was no different, except...

On the flip side of the cardboard was a brand new sign that simply read, "Sarah - Marry Me! - I Love You," along with a ring, of course.

She walked out of the baggage claim, noticed me, noticed the original sign and gave me a hug. Do you see it anywhere in there that she noticed the new sign? Nope.

I had to draw her attention to it post-hug.

"Look at the sign bub," I said, shaking and holding the ring in front of it.

Biggest Smile Ever.

Then she kind of just looked at the ring for a minute, smiling uncontrollably and shaking a little, all of which was the anticipated and welcomed reaction, not that I had any worries.

And with that, me and Ms. Cole were engaged.

* * * * * * * * * *

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

1) Do we have a date in mind?
Yes - end of April, early May next year.

2) Where?
We're thinking destination, having found a beautiful resort in the Dominican that we both really like, but nothing is certain... yet. If 1/3 of the guests have to travel (think plane, not car) regardless of where we have it, why don't we all go some place?

3) Is she crazy, marrying me, the starving artist / part-time waiter?
I think so, but it was her decision...

4) Could I be any happier?
Nope, not in a million years!

I'll keep you posted on all things weddingy as they come up...

* * * * * * * * * *

One last thing:

I asked both her parents before proposing.

Guys - trust me on this one - this is a must. Do things the right way. Thank me for it later.

Continue reading ...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Where Have Movies Like This Gone?

Someone needs to answer this for me because after spending the last year working at Blockbuster and watching the good, the bad and the ugly that Hollywood and everywhere else has to offer, setting in with Butch & Sundance last night was the best movie experience I've had in a long time.

I can't believe no one ever mentions this as their favourite movie. It's now officially mine. How could it not be?

Newman and Redford are a perfect match and play off each other better than any tandem we've seen on the screen in a long time. They are what every buddy movie pairing aspires to be and so very few actually capture.

And if that's not enough, this movie has current era tie-ins that should force anyone who claims to like movies to pick it up.

Sundance, as in, the film festival. I wonder where it got it's name?

Mallrats fans, this is where the daunting Mall Cop LaFours - he's got four kills! - comes from, name and white skimmer hat included.

At the end of Hot Fuzz, when they're shooting it out with the bad guys? Butch & Sundance.

Besides, it's two of the best ever running around robbing banks and slinging jokes on screen for two hours. If you've sat through Atonement, then you sure as hell can spend a night with Mr. Parker and Mr. Longbaugh.

And if you don't want to watch the whole thing, do yourself a favour and watch the Knife Fight scene and the scene where they're stuck on a rock ledge, pinned in by LaFors above them and a river below them.

I pissed myself. You will too.

"The future is all yours, ya lousy bicycle!"

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life

Song: Snow ((Hey Oh))
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: Stadium Arcadium (2006)

I didn't like the Red Hot Chili Peppers off the bat.

When everyone was fawning over Blood Sugar Sex Magik and "Under The Bridge," I thought both were just okay. They kind of annoyed me to be honest. They were more a spectacle than anything else, keeping people wondering what silly little thing they would do next.

Next was John Frusciante leaving mid-tour while in Japan to become a full-fledged addict.

Next was replacing the prodigious Frusciante with Dave Navarro, a move that nearly ended the Chili Peppers existence altogether.

Miraculously, Frusciante didn't die during his prolonged love affair with drug addiction and when he proved to be committed to living a clean and sober life, the decision was made to bring him back into the fold.

The result was Californication. That is when I got on board.

This song is the embodiment of everything I have now come to love about the post-Navarro Chili Peppers. Melodic, layered guitars, Frusciante's harmonizing with Anthony Kiedis, Flea's distinctive basslines and Chad Smith rattling on the drum kit in fits-and-starts.

[This song is] about the repeated failure to start your life anew and how difficult it can be to get rid of old ways of thinking, and destructive ideas we become so attached to.
- Anthony Kiedis

And there is the other part that makes this a favourite of mine.

While the quote works in reference to the Chili Peppers themselves - the band continued to abuse drugs and alcohol following the death of original guitarist Hillel Slovak in 1988 and watched Frusciante leave to become a professional addict - that message resonates with me on a personal note as well.

Over and over and over following my parents divorce I told myself that I would never grow up to be like my old man, only to see myself constantly repeating his mistakes. I too cheated on loved ones, squandered every penny I had and didn't know when to stop heading to the bar. At one point, I had nearly pissed everything completely away.

Saying you want to be better and actually taking the necessary steps towards doing so are two totally different things and it took me a long time to start making those steps. But I eventually righted the ship and found a better course.

Just like the Anthony, Flea, Chad and John.

I got your hey oh...

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Final Thoughts on Miley...

The other day when I was talking with Sarah, she reminded me of an piece I wrote a couple summers back called The Decline of the Girl Next Door, where I basically said we're at a stage now where there are 20 skanks to every 1 Girl Next Door.

She wondered how I could take the "It's her back for crissakes!" approach to the Miley thing considering I was the guy advocating for the return of the GND.

And so, here we go...

Miley isn't the Girl Next Door.

First and foremost, she's a Disney Prop.

Secondly, she's an actress and business person and it is easy to see that the market needed a new wholesome teen queen for the tween set and their mothers to flock to with the departure of the Trailer Park Princess and her hillbilly sister getting knocked up too.

That's why these other photos from some guy's MySpace page aren't very shocking at all. Little Ms. Miley flashing her bra and making with the sexy eyes. It's like how Britney professed her chastity when you, me and everyone else knew that JT was getting lucky. Image is everything.

Part of my defense comes from the fact that the last reigning Disney Dream, Vanessa Hudgens, got barely a slap on the wrist from Disney for her pro-bush pics and I don't mean the President. Baby V snapped pics of her snapper and got a slap on the wrist; Miley shows a little back and Disney and a bunch of pissy parents, go ballistic. How is that right?

But the biggest part, at least in regards to my thoughts on the the Girl Next Door, is that The Girl Next Door is an ideal and a dead one at that, I'm afraid. Hollywood's take on the concept was the nail in the coffin.

Nothing I say can change the fact that by the time my niece hits 13, she's going to know more about sex than I do now... which isn't saying much, but you get the point.

Sex is marketed to every age group at every turn, starting as soon as playing with Barbie becomes uncool. So, five or six.

Does that mean I like it? No, it means I've come to grips with the fact that when I was growing up, fathers didn't have to start sitting on porches with shotguns until 16.

Now, I've got to end this so I can go and polish my shooter... and I don't even have kids yet.

With that in mind, who the hell are we to get all up in arms if Miley Cyrus wants to show her back? At least she's not popping out a kid or starring in her own sextape.

See? Perspective.

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