June 28, 2009

AA Gill & Jeremy Clarkson

Not often I order a combo in a restaurant. Today I didn't have to. Two of my favourite guys, all in one spot. Gill is reviewing The Palm, a restaurant in England that basically imports all thing American. And Gill wonders why they bothered.

He ponders the whole meat-eating/greenhouse gas problem ("there are too many farty cows because there are too many farty people wanting to be fed. The answer surely is not to eat the cows, but rather eat the people"), before answering his own question. Of course you can't eat people; we don't eat carnivores. Which means we could eat vegetarians, he reckons.

Five of them went for dinner, had a miserable meal, and it cost the equivalent of a thousand bucks. I loved it just to hear him say that Clarkson, who hasn't met an opinion he agreed with that wasn't his own, wouldn't know caviar from bubble wrap.

As always, a review buried in an avalanche of fun.

Faster Then A Speeding Bullet...

Spent yesterday out at Toronto Motorsports Park.

Why you may ask? Why would I intentionally head out to a strip of concrete on a blistering hot day, to bask in the scream and roar of a racetrack, with a quarter-mile drag strip attached to it?

Got to hop on the back of a 1000cc superbike. A Suzuki GSXR1000, sponsored by Thermocomfort. And then I got to blast around the track holding onto the guy that has a slew of championships under his belt. Scott Rupert took me for a ride.

I don't think I've ever been so frightened. It had been adapted to take a passenger, and I have to admit, in all my years in the motorcycle industry (whole 'nother life, whole 'nother story, for a whole 'nother day), I've never, ever seen anything like it. My hands were still shaking until later that night when someone thankfully pushing a glass of wine into them.

Here's the thing: you can do this. July 10, 11 & 12th, you can go to Toronto Motorsports Park and hop on this bike with Scott. The Southern Ontario Association of Racing (SOAR) is raising money for injured riders. For 40 bucks, you can head out for a few laps like I did. It is unbelievable. If you've ever ridden a motorcycle, or dreamed of it, this is a can't miss opportunity. Scott's sponsors have ponied in the fuel, tires, track time and you even get a picture. More details will follow in the column, or email me.

Column will follow. And Webgod was there with pics. He'll put more up under Adventures - Lord knows, this was an adventure.

June 24, 2009

For Gilly

Or to be more accurate, from Gilly. Gilly is my little sister - soft 'g'.

I promised I'd not venture into the Jon & Kate debate, because, well, somebody has to show some dignity. And for the very first time ev-ah, I thought it might be me.

But Gilly has tagged the latest kerfuffle Jon & Kate Disintegrate.

And, well, I just love that and wanted to see it in writing.

For Any David Sedaris Fans...

...here's a great interview in the Guardian today.

CSI Shark

Ooooooooooh. This is cool.

Seems they've discovered that they can kind of 'profile' great white sharks and their killing, just like they do serial killers.

Apparently, although the beasts traipse around the world's oceans at will, they do have their favourite haunts that they repeatedly return to. Like Cheers for sharks, I guess.

Researchers have identified individual sharks, and monitored their movements and killing patterns. I don't think I'd want to be the one who ratted out one of these things, frankly. Not that any of this means much, I'm thinking. I mean, what are you going to do? Have David Caruso lower his sunglasses while standing on the front of boat and say, "Now that my friend, is a shark who murders. And it's my job to stop him."

Actually, I'd kinda like to see Caruso try that.

June 23, 2009

Sick Days Are Not Holidays

I really wasn't going to climb into the civil servant strike going on in Toronto. I mean, the liquor store is threatening to strike at midnight tonight - now that I could get flustered about.

It boggles my wee mind that on Day One And A Half of the strike, we are seeing the usual pictures of piles and piles of garbage. Seriously? Get a grip, people. Or maybe it's just the media, cruising around and special-angling a shot so that it looks like a restaurant's towering pile of uncomposted waste is really in front of a single family home. Either way, they've been threatening for a couple of weeks, and the weather reports told you this heat was coming - why does everyone wake up as surprised as they are on Christmas morning? I mean, I'm heading out to buy extra wine to ride out a strike - why would you not consider that garbage could become a problem?

Yes, I'll admit that my problem here in suburbia is far more embraceable.

There are kids that were supposed to start summer jobs. They're SOL. There are more kids turfed from summer camps and daycare - this is crap.

And the issue? Sick days? Really?

The Poor Sod is in a union. I was raised to hate unions. But this whole sick day nonsense is just that. And 18 of them? Jee-zus. Are you kidding me? If the Poor Sod is sick, guess what? He doesn't go in. And he doesn't get paid. Wow. That was tough.

I'm old. I've never been paid to be sick. I had one employer that ponied up 3 sick days a year, which was kind. He was a small business, and it was a big gesture. But 18? And you can save them up like when you hoard Halloween candy? Piss off. Count with me - 18 days is nearly AN ENTIRE MONTH of being sick.

Unions, you're picking the wrong battle this time. You're stupidly obvious timing - the first week that school's out, forecast extreme heat - is cowardly. With the economy in that dumpster you refuse to fill, you are sorely testing the last advocates you might have had.

Take your vitamins and do your damned job like the rest of us - while you still have one.

June 22, 2009

Squeezing The Juice

O.J.'s ex girlfriend is shopping a tell-all book. It sounds horrid.

Dim restaurant, a greying O.J. sitting at the bar, looking around like a shark at a pool party. Table of girls, all giggly and stupid, pretending they don't know who he is.

O.J., to first girl: "Hey, there, come hang out with me. I have a great time, and I get away with murder!"
Girl One: "Buzz off, creep."
O.J., to second girl: "Honey, I have a trophy to show you!"
Girl Two: "I'm gonna call the cops...buzz off."
O.J., to third girl: "Sweetheart, you're just so pretty. Can I call you Nicole?"
Girl Three: "Okay! Bye, Courtney and Brittany!"

Thirteen years later. Girl Number Three goes looking for a book deal.

You're alive, you stupid ignorant moron. Shut.The.Hell.Up.

Beer Ye, Beer Ye...

Okay, here's an idea for anyone needing a reason to try a new beer. This article suggests the ten beers you need to try this summer.

The Poor Sod drinks his way around the world, though usually ends up back in Germany. My father would be so proud :)

Friends of ours, Tonia and Jerry, always bring beer when they come over. Their eldest, Damian, goes to the store with his Dad and selects the beers they will be bringing. They arrive with one of each of 6 or 8 different kinds. It's hilarious.

But reading this list, I think Damian may be onto something...


Personal Responsibility

What a quaint idea. I remember the first big 'stupid' lawsuit, from the U.S., of course, about 20 years ago now. A woman spilled hot coffee on herself from a McDonalds restaurant and sued. And won. Now, details revealed several more things - it was at a drive-thru, the coffee was scalding hot, she had third degree burns on the top of her legs, and the initial monster settlement sum was cut way down on appeal.

Still. It twigged. At what point does choosing to do stupid things - nestling a steaming cup of coffee between your legs while driving - mean you've accepted that if you insist, a third party can't be responsible for just how stupid you are driven to be?

Burglars who sue homeowners because they get hurt while breaking in, some guy who sued a stripped for giving him whiplash, prisoners who sue for everything, because they have nothing else to do - the list goes on.

But this morning I'm greeted with this: the man who lost his wife in the British Columbia back country earlier this year is suing the Search & Rescue team that failed to find them, the resort, the RCMP, and the province. Because none of them could find them. After they skied OUT OF BOUNDS. ON PURPOSE. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

I hereby propose replacing all those 'Out of Bounds' signs with new ones. These shall say 'Shit Out Of Luck'. Perhaps that will make it abundantly clear to every Scoobie Do skier and boarder and nutjob and extreme-powder-seeker (I really don't know what that means. I don't ski) that should you opt out of areas of control, you are officially in areas beyond anyone's control. Got that?

When you choose actions, you choose responsibilities, no? Every time you live for another minute on this planet, you have beaten some odd. Perhaps it's that nobody smucked you up in a car accident. Perhaps it's that your rats didn't escape their cage and eat you over night. Perhaps it's that you didn't get stabbed by your own knitting needle as you sat down on your favourite chair. Maybe it's that your secretly locked away DNA coding hasn't sprung it's latest surprise on you.

And no, I don't sit around thinking of these kinds of things. Well, I didn't until just now.

But if you bolt yourself onto a Skidoo and head to avalanche country, guess what? If you decide heli-skiing is your thing, guess what? If you decide racing a car, a boat, or even the idiot next to you at the stoplight is your thing, guess what?

Where there is negligence, sometimes money is the only thing that makes change. If this couple from Quebec had arrived at the Out of Bounds signs, and it had instead said Free Martinis, Two Miles Any Direction - Go For It!, fine.

I take chances in my life sometimes. Not huge ones, not uncalculated ones, but the fact remains that I go places and do things that could jeopardize my safety. Every chance for that is mitigated, but ultimately, I make that decision.

The Quebec couple took an extraordinarily big chance in their search of adventure. It was not calculated, it was not cautious, it was not safe. The fact they had kids and did this blows my mind.

Natasha Richardson chose to ski. She chose every precaution except a helmet, which might have saved her life. Her family is devastated. But I will be shocked if they sue anyone for decisions she made.

If we want the freedom to live our lives unfettered by all the rules we say we hate so much (especially here in McGuinty's rule-crazy Ontario), we accept the responsibility that goes along with it.

June 19, 2009

Sound of Siggingfriggin Music Festival

Oh, Burlington is positively abuzz with the Sound of Music Festival. 25th Anniversary, apparently.

Which means I've been hating it for 25 years.

Oh, shut up. If you lived in the core, you too would hate the damned thumping and crashing for 4 straight days. Last night, with our windows clamped tight to keep out the wonderful breeze and the exploding noise from 6 blocks away, I had a ceiling fan on high to try to make some white noise. Please tell the sound engineers not to worry - nothing was going to interrupt their genius.

I already have a moronic neighbour out back who destroys pretty much every weekend from May until October with their lousy taste in music and beer...but at least them I can occasionally do something about. Seriously. 3:30 in the morning is too much for me.

The Festival has grown and grown and grown. It is now, I'm told, an international draw. It's probably the biggest thing Burlington hosts, even bigger than the Rib Slopping Eating Fest that takes place later in the year. Forgive me, but driving by and seeing long lines of picnic tables full of people gnawing on ribs, covered in sauce from ear to ear and elbow to elbow lacks a little something.

If you saw a list of the bands playing at the Sound of Music, you would agree it's a pretty great event. Every year, there are more and more I know of. Which is terrific. They keep adding days to it. It is an event you would definitely want to put on your calendar if you're a music buff. Or not even. Our downtown core is gorgeous, and it's a really great social event. For four straight days.

And I would like it too. If I could show up and partake, and then leave it behind. Instead, it's like pitching a tent in the middle of Disneyland, and being told you can't leave. I'm not exaggerating. We can't hear anything over the music when we're in our own yard, and it's tough to shut it out even inside our house.

Four days. Sigh.

Don't bother calling me a scrooge. I don't care.

June 18, 2009


Now, I know that teenagers in general are full of crap when they get in trouble. The excuses fly thick when they're caught, and part of that is growing up.

But, check out this one. It's destined to become a classic.

This girl apparently went to have a few stars tattooed on her forehead. Because we all now how attractive it is to have black stars running around the side of your head. Now, she says she 'fell asleep' and woke up with 56 stars tattooed on the side of her face. It's the fault of the tattooist, and that's who her irate parents should blame.

That's what she said. 'Fell asleep'. Ever had a tattoo done? Well, I haven't, but I've seen it done, and 'falling asleep' is pretty much last on the list.

I was having a tattoo conversation with a friend this week. I don't like them. But we both agreed that they're totally okay in some circumstances, on some people. Like Popeye. I mean, if you really were a merchant marine or a sailor visiting many ports of call (and not on the Love Boat), then a tattoo is actually a requirement.

But, most of them are ugly. I don't like them. You see people on the red carpet in a 20K dress, and a smudge of crap on their shoulder or ankle that just screams "it seemed like a good idea at the time". I did like when the male Canadian Olympic swim team had little maple leaf tattoos on their chests years ago (think Alex Bauman). Or maybe I was just busy staring at their chests. Whatever.

I know, I know, people have many reasons for piercings and tattoos. Many are commemorating important moments. That's why we have cameras. And I think you should haul out those photo albums, and see how stupid your hair looked in high school. Now, imagine you have to have that hair for the rest of your life. And those glasses. And those slouch boots. And those leg warmers. Okay, now I'm just projecting. Sorry.

But if a tattoo is a must, I suggest you take a designated stay-awaker with you.

Update: Yup, she lied.

June 17, 2009

Mazda MX-5

Seriously. Within 5 minutes of returning this little baby, the rain started.

Ah, it's been a fun week.

June 12, 2009

2010 MX-5

I'm be flying around for the next week in the most darling little car. A brilliant yellow Mazda MX-5. With a not-so-brilliant smiling idiot behind the wheel.

It's really, really fun. I'll post a pic later.

If you see me, wave!

...and some you lose.

Have you even known someone who is just lucky?

50/50 draws, empty licence bureau lineups, $20 dollar bills in a winter coat, "nope, no mold", "the branch missed the roof by this much", sold high, bought low, "can I take the next person in line?", lottery wins, starts on the first pull, "it turns out it's a first edition!" - you know, those kind of people?

This woman isn't one of them.

June 8, 2009

Your Top Ten

Today's column (click Motherlode over there, on your left) is about my Top Ten Book list.

Your own lists have been heading in this morning. Orwell's 1984, Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Gone with the Wind, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Silas Marner, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil...surprisingly, no other Dr. Seuss work. Hmmm....

God Is An Englishman, recommended along with all of R.F. Delderfield's work by one reader, who also likes Nigel Tranter's work. So, all you historical fiction buffs, go find these two.

Bridges of Madison County has now been lobbed at me by both a reader and an editor. It's a weeper, people.

Pile in. And take notes. You never know when you're going to get sent in a new direction.

June 5, 2009

Bad Pics & Lost Babies

The Poor Sod got his licence renewed. He just stood here opening the envelope.

"Oh, gee, I guess I should have shaved," he noted, scowling at the photo. He handed it to me.
"Yeah, and maybe had a nap and sobered up first, too," I told him. If anyone has a good licence photo, scan it and put it here. Licence bureau photographs make the Smoking Gun look like a glamour shoot.

On a totally unrelated matter, click this.
I laughed like an idiot.

June 4, 2009

Hear That Scraping Noise?

I am experiencing consternation. There's nothing you can take for it. It's TV consternation, and it's Roz's fault. So, take it up with Roz if you have any questions about this blog. I'd post her phone number, but then she wouldn't be my sister any more. She would kill me.

She made me promise to watch 5 minutes of the worst show on TV the other night. She even called it that, like the listing said The Worst Show on TV. Now, if you knew some of the crap that Roz watches, for her to call it The Worst means it's really, really bad.

Because we're into summer re-runs, because the Poor Sod was at a class, because the kids were ignoring me and the cats were asleep, and mostly because I'd had 2 glasses of wine, I put on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

At first I thought it was like a Waldo poster, and the goal was to find the celebrity. While I saw many people, none of them were celebrities. I only define 'celebrity' as someone I may recognize, even in a cloudy, gauzy, 'don't I know you from somewhere?' kind of way. If I recognize the lady from the bank when I see her shopping at the Bay, even that would count.

Nope. There was a woman who used to be Janice Dickerson, who last I knew had her skirt over her head at Studio 54 back in the 80s. There was a woman on the show who looked kind of like her, but it couldn't have been because her face had half melted off, and the part that wasn't melted looked stapled to her skull.

Ari wandered in and asked who these people were. We realized then they had names on their shirts. This helped. "Oh, see that guy?" I said to Ari. "Yeah." "You know Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock?" "Yeah." "That's not him. That's his brother, I think, but a pudged up, weird- eyed, born-again nutjob. I believe there are several brothers, and they move into acting roles like shark's teeth. They just move up, and nobody notices," I concluded. "Why didn't they just get Alec Baldwin?" Ari asked. This made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

There was a super-annoying couple who kept saying they were celebrities. And quitting. And coming back. And nobody cared. I don't think they're celebrities. And the chick kept spraying dry shampoo in her hair, which I didn't get even a little bit. The whole point of going into the jungle is so you don't have to do your hair. I wouldn't even brush my teeth.

I realized this is more than 5 minutes watching, but did I mention the wine?

There was an actor who was once La Bamba. He's taking this very seriously. He let rats eat his hand - take big bites out of him. He was an idiot. I would have just yanked the little suckers out and thrown them at the annoying couple. Or Janice Dickerson's face, which they would have bounced off of without her even knowing.

There was a former NBA guy, which makes me wonder if they're not paying as well as they used to. And some other people I've never, ever seen before. Only two (a female comedy duo, apparently) seem to understand just how stupid this is. These two, I might go looking for after this is over.

Before I finally turned it off, Annoying Couple had quit. Which was a good thing - I'd rather have rats gnaw on my hand then watch another second of these two, anytime anywhere. Of course this left the 'producers' scrambling for replacements. So of course, they flew in another Baldwin brother - I told you, shark's teeth.

It wasn't Alec, so I turned it off.

I think they should call in Mantracker, and he's just kill their sorry asses while sitting on his horse.