Thursday, August 28, 2008

1966 Muppets Commerial

*Turn up the sound, the audio for this clip is weak.*

Just finished reading Anne Moore's book "Unmarketable". Still have it swirling around in my head, but I'll have a post up soon about the books content and my own relationship to marketing.
In the meantime, another add as entertainment. Since the products no longer exist I figure this isn't me shilling on someone's behalf. Trent let me know that there may be a new Muppet Show if the new Muppet film is a hit. Since the Muppets are owned by Disney now, I do not have high hopes. For instance, the edge that the made the Muppets great (such as in this ad) could never be expected from Disney.

Fugazi, "Turnover" (Live 1991)

I like Fugazi.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Dead End" Jobs, A Slight Return

CD in Play: Joy Division, The Best of...

Today was an incredibly horrible day weather-wise. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I am used to overcast weather and heavy rain. Today, though, was something special and deserves some mention before getting on with the two happy points of my post. It didn't just rain, it hammered down. It was an extended thundershower without the thunder and lightening. People were hammered by by heavy gauge nails of H2O. The city was blanketed in sheets of rain. Cats and dogs, etc. And it just didn't let up. Sewer lines (they just had to be) were overflowing and foul, brown water was running in the street in some areas. Eventually it slackened, but the rain didn't let up and the down pour would return. All that was missing was a guy and his family herding in all the animals into some big boat two by two.

It was in this weather that I proceeded to the apartment I was applying for. I was dropping off my application and deposit. Little did I know, that the manger had already decided to rent me the suite. It is a bachelor suite on the 4th floor of a building from the 1920's or 1930's. Hard wood floors, huge tub, no shower and a ceiling fan. (a necessity here in summer) So I finally get to live that bohemian lifestyle I wanted when I was in my 20's.

The added bonus is that it is just north of the city centre and a five minute (or less if they let me take a short cut through Emergency) from my new job at City Hospital. I am now a probationary employee of the Health Region working as a Diener. The word "diener", as I just found out, is German for "servant" and is an abbreviation of the German term "Leichendiener". Leichendiener literally means, corpse servant. Other regions use the terms Morgue Attendant, Pathologists Assistant or Autopsy Technician to describe my job. As such it is my job to assist around the morgue and the Pathology Department in a number of ways - and yes that includes cleaning the "client" and prepping him or her for viewing by relatives.

Can I really do this job? I hope so, but truthfully I am not 100%. I have never been the kind of person who actually hunts down autopsy photos to view, I'm just not that morbid. The woman who hired me was a bit ambivalent on the phone and deservedly so. It isn't easy work. Despite a decent enough wage, I am being underpaid. But then the way I see it is that the majority of us are being underpaid today, skilled labour or not. However, I am running out of options and need this job to pay down my loans in order to return to school full time and get my teaching certificate.

However, I have always been interested and fascinated with human anatomy and am excited by the fact that I can actually see our inner workings, well, in the flesh. Aside from some potentially grizzly and saddening things that I will see, we are flesh, blood, hair, bone and organs. We will all die and potentially end up on the slab to be dissected if our deaths' warrant it. Death is a part of life, I will just get to see it very up close and personal. At least this how I am trying to steel myself before starting the job. (after the criminal check)

My jobs in security have led me to work around the living dead, with people who have given up. It is pretty hard on a person to walk in on a mother (about 45) with her two adult children (mid and early twenties) chopping up heroin to smoke in a parkade stairwell. Or to walk in on a junkie, stark naked and masturbating with a dildo after having shot up. Or to have to arrest and detain some guy who has been wanking in the change rooms while spying on people as the they try on clothes. Watching a person deteriorate over time, losing more of their mind and their soul as their addiction grows. Watching them wither away from Hep. C and AIDs. Or to have those same people threaten you with a needle just because. Some of these people are actually quite likeable and you develop a raport with them, making it that much harder because you can't just simply write them off as a scum. They are no longer just the "other".

I had other aspirations, other aims. They never worked out. So I am here. I don't regret it at this time, though. I have never been afraid of difficult jobs, just unrewarding, unsatisfying and pointless jobs - jobs that only seem to exist to keep people employed. Hopefully I am not writing here in a few weeks stating that I couldn't handle it. However, my friend Elijah made a good point when I called him today - "Well as long they aren't talking to you or eating brains, it should be okay." Amen to that.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


CD in Play: House of Low Culture (Isis), Holy Tears

I am supposed to be working the We Are Many Festival, but I am reeeaaalllly sick. It was unseasonably cold yesterday, the high was 14°C. Usually an optimum temprature for me, except when I am sick and unable to sleep. WAM was at Diefenbaker Park and I had planned to attend the festival, which is trying to encourage local residents to plan for and build a greener city than we have now. However, my company handles all the events in town, so it was inevitable that I would be called into work. I was supposed to work 12 hours yesterday, but they let me go since I was looking rough and not that many people came out for the first day. That sun only came out two hours before sunset didn't help the temperature any.
I really wanted to check out the Weakerthans tonight - first show I've worked with any musical acts I was interested in checking out and I am unable to be there. However, despite the small crowd, Saskatoon's own Maybe Smith put on a solid show. Anyhow, I am ill and about to pass out.

Friday, August 22, 2008

This Really Happened

*The details contained within are all true. There has been no fudging of the facts. Everything that has recounted here actually happened. Truly. It did. Well, maybe not the stuff about Hepburn. That might push the boundaries a bit too hard.*

Pete Chattaway was in Saskatoon on the 20th and left on the 21st. It was good to see him, however briefly, and we hung out and gabbed with Geosomin for a while. On Thursday morning we decided we had time before meeting Geo for lunch and decided to head to north to Hepburn and Waldheim, Saskatchewan. So we hoped in Pete's rental and headed due North.

Pete had attended a Bible College in Hepburn, Bethany Bible College. Naturally, a lot has changed about Pete since those days, so it is fitting that Bethany and Hepburn have changed as well. Hepburn has one restaurant, gas station, credit union, a community hall/bowling alley, a co-op (read general store) and a couple of regional offices in its town centre. There is the old grain silo, which has been preserved unlike some other rural towns it seems. Pete recalled the time he was walking from Bethany down to the town centre during an infestation of grasshoppers. There was nowhere a person could walk outside that wasn't covered in the insect and and the sound of footsteps were obscured for all the crunching.

Pete showed me around his old campus and we were met by the man who runs the school. He was one of Pete's old teachers and the only person from Pete's time there who was left. It was good to finally be able to put have a mental picture to go with Pete's stories about his Bible College days. The people of Hepburn and Bethany are friendly and hospitable.

We carried on up to Waldheim, just about 15 minutes away. The reason we went to this obscure out of the way place is because our good friend, Trent Ernst (Macanuck) as well Tyler and Darin Clisby, call Waldheim their hometown. The road is rough into town. It is a rolling landscape filled with wheat ready to be harvested. A strong wind was blowing, the skies overcast. We entered the town limits and were greeted by the hungry looks of feral dogs, gathered outside an abandoned house around a suspicious looking, messy red and black heap.

We missed the first turn off for the town centre, but looped around a near by street. We rolled through the centre of town, noting that the restaurant was closed and the building was up for rent. Trent, Darin and Tyler were always tight-lipped to certain degree about growing up in Waldheim. We pushed it but always met with resistance. Maybe if they had told us a little bit more about Waldheim, we might not have made the mistake rolling into town.

Trent has always been competitive in weird ways. For instance, Peter was reading his way through the myths of the Greeks and Romans. He mentioned that he just finished Aeneid by Virgil and a load groan of disappointment came from the backseat where Trent was. He had wanted to read it before Pete had. In that spirit, Pete decided to take me to Waldheim before Trent had the chance.

We decided pictures were in order, so I settled on a picture by the old rail station, Pete in front of the post office and both of us in front of the now defunct Waldheim Cafe. The rail station is now part of a park dedicated to the memory of Sanford Waterland, aka "The Colonel". On a plaque it read that he had been the mayor from 1947-2007. When we walk up to the Waldheim Cafe we ask a woman walking by if she would care to take our picture in front of it. She hestitates and but accepts to do this for us.

Cautiously she asks, "You two just passing through?"
"Yeah, we just came from Hepburn on our way up here." responded Pete.
"What brings you to Waldheim."
"A friend of ours grew up here. Thanks for taking the picture." I said.
"You're welcome, have a good day." she looked at us with reservations and went in to the nearby insurance agency.

Having a cold, I decided to get a tea at the Tea House. The women inside were very friendly, none more so that the one named Rhona. Bright and excited she got me a cranberry tea and fresh hot cornmeal muffin. Pete ordered some decadent, homemade chocolaty thing called a ho-ho. Three burly men in their late 50's were sitting at a table watching us. Pete went to the washroom when one of the men received a phone call. all three got up to settle their bill and paid close attention to me as the left, offering a curt nod and a pressed smile.
Soon Pete and I were out the door and on our way back to Pete's rented vehicle. We got past the Post Office when six trucks loaded with men came rolling into the area on either side of us. All eyes were fixed on Pete and me, silent, serious.

Pete looked around, "Um? Hello?"
A large man came around from one side of the truck closest to the rental. He strode up slowly and casually. He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder to the vehicle, "This belong to you boys?"
"Uh, yes?" Pete looked at me. Men in their late 30's can hardly be called boys anymore, but this man made us both feel like guilty teenagers.
"Enjoying the cornmeal muffin?"
I looked at him, " It's very good."
"Best in the area, better than what you could have got in Hepburn." He looked at Pete, "The ho-ho's are good too, but a little early in the day for desert, don't you think?"
"I hadn't thought about it."
The man nodded, "I guess thinking isn't the order of the day. Understand you have friends from this town, mind if I ask their names?"
"Uh... Trent Ernst and Darin and Tyler Clisby." Pete stated.
"So you know the Ernsts and the Clisbys, do you?"
"Um... yes."
"Those boys haven't lived here for a long time, but I guess you know that." he kicked the left toe of his boots into the pavement and brushed something out of his moustache, "They don't come around much either, usually call ahead to let us know if they plan to. Know why that is?"
Pete and I looked at each other again and I looked at the man,"Well, no. We don't have a clue."
"You see that plaque in the park? the one where you shot one of those photos? Sanford Waterland was my father. I'm Obediah Waterland, his son. I'm the mayor now."
"Pleased to meet you your worship."
"Thank you. Now since those boys decided not to talk about why they don't come around much I figure it isn't up to any of us to enlighten you either. Were you planning on dropping the Clisby home today."
"Well, I suggest you hop in that rental vehicle of yours and head back to Alberta. Understood
"Good. If you don't mind we'll all drive on with you for a bit."
"It's your town."
He stared fixedly at us for a moment before speaking, "Yes. It is." He strode back to the passenger side of his truck.

Pete and I hoped in the rental and headed out of town. The convoy formed behind us and stayed with us all the way back to Highway 12. as we waited for traffic to pass, the locals all got out of their tracks and moved up, staring at us as we drove out onto the highway. No words were spoken for the next couple of minutes, Pete and I only able to look at each other. Our hearts were partially stuck in our chests with the realization that what people don't know about their friends just might get them hurt them.

Waldeim on the 21st of August, 2008

Originally uploaded by Peter T Chattaway
Macanuck's (Trent's) hometown.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Movie on Television: The Road Warrior

I should be in bed. Asleep. I have a job interview at 9 am with the Health Region. But I am restless. Pins and needles.

An Imbalanace of the Humours

Music in Play: Assorted Ska tracks.

A River of Black Bile Runs Through It

Depression had since the time of the Greeks more commonly been referred to as melancholia. Ancient medicine believed that the human body was made of of four humours, each corresponding with the four elements, seasons, assorted organs and possessing their own unique characteristics; The humours consisted of black bile, yellow bile, phlegm and blood. For those who are curious, see Wikipedia's entry on the subject under "Humours".
The balance of the humours (eucrasia) was key to good health and all diseases - physical or mental - occurred as a result of an imbalance of the humours. (dyscrasia) Bloodletting was thought to be a way of of bringing the humours back into balance, by the way. Of course, we know so much more these days than the peoples of the Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance times. (Humoralism wasn't officially quashed until the mid 19th Century) However, that doesn't mean that coping with depression has become any easier.
A friend of mine is going through an enormously difficult time right now. As we haven't been friends for all that long it is hard for me to reach out in the way that I could with my friends back in British Columbia, Montreal or anywhere els in Canada. His wife and I have been friends for a while now and it is easier for her to talk to me. The situation is hard for her, but she is generally such an "up" and legitimately happy person she is coping remarkably well. That every man should have a wife so devoted. But it is hard to watch such a good person go through such a shitty time. And for this friend it isn't simply a matter of pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, snapping out of it or any of the rah-rah crap that gets hurled your way when the chips are down.
I have been battling depression off and on seriously since 1996. I haven't been an "up" kind of person since at least 1976 or 1977, when I was in the Primary grades. After my parents divorced, I would say my personality changed to being somewhat melancholic. I never dealt with it and was good at hiding it. (I think) By the time I was 15 that melancholy was channeled out as sarcasm, arrogance, disdain and outright rage. In 1996, it all hit the wall courtesy of unrequited love and my lack of emotional maturity. Things just seemed to get worse. A lot was due to circumstances beyond my control and the rest due an inability to actually do what was best for me and help myself.
After a decade of failure on many levels and no hope of change in sight, things changed. Montreal was great for the most part but I had some really dark turns there. Two people helped quite a bit. One does not want to be named but she gave me a thorough berating and verbal ass-kicking at the point it was needed most. The other was Montreal's own Master of Crass, the Impresario of Immorality: Dom Castelli. Dom's constant cajoling and prodding forced me out into more good times than I can recall. Dom's mission was to make everyone smile and he usually succeeded. Dom, even if I looked dour or serious on the outside, you always had me smiling within. Theres a healthy dose of sap for ya.
Back in Vancouver it was a different story. Unemployment and changes in the social scene really got to me. Trent cajoled me into starting this blog. The blog's name is a reference to my depression, more or less. As haphazard and inconsistent as The Shining Path has been, it was something to channel my energies into and it kept me pretty steady. Steady employment really helped me pull out of depression as has having my focus back and something to work towards.
I have had some crap here in Saskatoon that I was tempted to let get me down and feeling sorry for myself, but my friend's ordeal has really forced me to refocus and push myself back up for everyones' sake. I have been listening to a lot of ska lately. Ska is one thing that helps me out when I am depressed. So lately I have just been trying to keep those up, up, up ska rhythms going in my head. One mental exercise is reworking downbeat, mellow songs like "the Crystal Ship" by The Doors or "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" by Charles Mingus into ska/rocksteady songs. But this time I am not doing so much for my own sake, much like Dom, but my friends'.

Picture: "Melancholia I" by Albrecht Dürer

Madness - Night Boat To Cairo

I'm not crazy about everything Madness has done, but it stuff like this that helps me refocus and stay happy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Got the Time?

CD in Play: Madness, 7

I hate wrist watches. I don't like wearing them, aside from an old and illegal Rolex rip-off someone brought back for me from Singapore in the 90's. I always wanted a pocket watch, but they aren't commonly sold and aren't cheap if they are working. My Dad periodically chastised me that I should get a watch, but eventually realized that I generally have a good sense of time and stopped. Still, a pocket watch would have been cool.
I was struck sometime ago, however, when I had my first cell phone that they really are the new pocket watches. I thought about it for a while and then forgot about it. However, yesterday at work people would ask me for the time and here I was pulling my phone out of my pocket. As I watched the crowds going back and forth at the Folk Fest (a completely different affair here than in Vancouver) I saw other people doing the same thing. They weren't wearing watches, no need as their phones told the time for them.
Of course cell phones (not including a certain computer company's wonderphone du jour) do a whole lot more than tell the time, but that isn't the point. (Trent)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The La Choy Dragon

The last time I tried to post to my blog from YouTube, it took up to two and three weeks for them to appear. It is August 16th today, so here we go.
I have no idea if La Choy and McGarry's are still products on the market today, so please excuse me as it is not my intention to shill for any company going. I view these simply as odd entertainments. This add consistantly cracks me up.
Geo and I have been casually talking about how to design a La Choy Dragon costume for me to wear. We figure we'll drop the fire breathing aspect.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Mcgarry's Sausage

I have a passion for the Muppets. Not that I whore myself out to any old Muppet marketing scam, I prefer things like this clip. Henson ans Company did a lot of advertising in the `50's and 60's. Anyone wanting to deflate the myth of the Golden Age of Family Values should look at this commercial, one feature Rowlf the Dog and any of the Wilkin's Coffee ads. Violent, abusive and utterly hilarious.

Stevie Wonder - "Superstition" live on Sesame Street

This is way too cool. I sort of remember this too. It aired in 1973, but I probably saw a repeat in `74 or `75. It is a great performance and I can hardly believe they pulled this off on a kids show. More reasons why the early 70's rocked hard

Riding to Work in 2025(Your Invisible Now)

An example of my obsessio with the FLips. The track is from their 1997 experiment "Zaireeka". The laid down four tracks on four different CDS, The listener plays one to four of the CDs on one to four CD players at approximately the same time. The performed this live earlier this year and I have been craving this album ever since. the FLips make me very, very happy. It is hard to describe, but I just feel good listening to them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The "It's Raining Meme"

CD in Play: The Slackers, Wasted Days

It is raining actually, and Geo and J say a big storm is headed Saskatoon's way shortly. I am kind of at a loss for anything meaningful to write, so I figured I'd role out the meme. (or whatever this misunderstanding of a meme really is)

Current attire: well all my clothes are the same, so allow me to lie. Slate lamé dress shoes, gold lamé trousers, copper lamé morning coat, silver lamé waistcoat, pearl lamé formal shirt, obsidian lamé bow tie, and a monocle. And no, I don't have a brother named George.

Current DVD: The Grifters, starring John Cusack, Angelica Houston and Annette Benning. I bought this back in Vancouver but have finally watched it. Just as bleak as when I saw it at the Hoy House with Pete Chattaway and the gang way back in the early` 90's. A solid film, though, by Stephen Frears who would go on to direct Cusack in High Fidelity a decade later. The film is based on a novel by famed pulp crime writer, Jim Thompson. I've been meaning to read Thompson's work for a few months now.

Current Books: I am double teaming again. The Mabinogion, which is the Welsh cycle of myths and legends made popular by Lady Charlotte Guest. I was a big fan of Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain as a child, and he was influenced by The Mabinogion. Also in the dock is Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing and the Erosion of Integrity by Anne Elizabeth Moore of Punk Planet fame. The book looks at how Corporations and Marketers have been co-opting alternative and underground subculture for profit. The Georgia Straight gave it an unfavourable review because Moore provides few solutions to accompany her criticisms. However, I have never been one to expect that a work provide me with all the answers and am finding it an interesting read.

Current Headache: My job and the interview process. I am back in security, despite wanting to be out of it for good. The hours just aren't coming in and I need them to come in. I should be getting my second interview with the Health Region next week, however. But then they have to make their decision and I am not 100% sure the answer will be what I am hoping for. And if it is yes, how soon will I start? And yes, this is the autopsy tech job.

Current Interest: Quatermass. Old British sci-fi. I have seen the 1967 film version of Quatermass and the Pit and the 2005 remake of The Quatermass Experiment (it was broadcast live as was the 1955 original) The character intrigues me and I'd like to see more.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Night at the Lucky Dragon

CD in Play: WholeNewBrain, The Minutes

As I stated earlier, I took a job with a security company here in town while waiting for the Health Region to finally get around to holding my second interview and/or make their decision on whether or not I will take the autopsy technician job. I do have mixed feelings about this and would be working at another job if one made it itself readily available. Employment has been hard in coming for most of my life and security is the one job where a guy like me is always wanted. I am big and apparently kind of intimidating in an unintentional way. But I have more to offer and more potential that security can offer me.
For the sake of respecting my non-disclosure clause and making sci-fi literary reference, let us just call my company IntenSecure and my site as The Lucky Dragon Convenience Store. It is a step down from where I was in BC, working at a university. My job was simply to maintain a presence inside the Lucky Dragon in order to discourage the hordes of people coming in from the big Exhibition and Amusement Park. Prior to having security there, people would enter in on mass and just loot the store, safe in their numbers and the belief no one could stop them.
I was stationed inside the store while my partner, whom we will call Durius, stationed himself outside. Durius chain smokes. Smoking on duty is strictly prohibited by the company, but for some people it is the only way they can keep themselves focused and entertained. I have the music loop to keep me entertained. It is a mix of songs from the 60's, 70's and 80's and leans heavily on Born in the USA by Springsteen.
The cashiers are both older guys in their 50's and there is another guy in his early 40's cleaning up the store and stocking up. Kind of depressing, and I wonder if I could end up slipping lower down the totem pole into a extremely pointless job like this? The oldest and roundest cashier is quiet and good natured and the guy on the floor seems pretty cheerful. The second cashier is the tallest and leanest of the crew. He's odd. He spends his entire shift telling customers that they dropped their penguin. The customers usually fall for it or are just plain confused.
"You dropped your penguin."
"Huh?" customer looks around.
"You dropped your penguin."
"What penguin?"
"He followed you in and you dropped him."
Customer looks bewildered.
"Aw, see - you stepped on him. You stepped on Charlie."
He started at 3pm and he was at it until 11pm when he left for the night. I wanted to stuff a pop bottle down his mouth.
I spend the night dealing with questions about what is for sale and can they please use the washroom. Angry youths wander in, too young to be sporting the tattoos they have. They eye me up and decide it isn't worth the effort. They wander for a bit, buy their slush cups, fill up and leave. A couple of hard living ladies wander in and out of the store and the bar across the street throughout the night. Heavily tattooed, one has a taut face and hollow blue eyes. She craddles a loaf of bread for a minute before setting down, settling on cigarettes instead. The other, also heavily tattooed, comes in with incomprehensible stories fired off at a rapid pace.
Around 9pm we deal with a pregnant 15 year old outside. She's feeling nauseous and has cramps. She has no money and refuses to let us call her an ambulance. Her brother, around 12, is angry and full of attitude. Paramedics were called over from the Exhibition arrive and the brother has to be taken aside so they can deal with his sister. He's angry that the paramedics don't have equipment and are unable to diagnose his sister's condition. He doesn't want to listen, he just wants to be angry. Lord, I hope I am not in security by the time he hits the age of 14 or 15. The girl agrees to take an ambulance and they are both from the scene.
After this the shift is spent ticking down the tedious minutes until my shift's end. Durius smokes half a pack by the end of it. By this time the whole front of the store is alive with small insects swarming the lights. Tiny beetle like things along with months and mosquitoes flutter and knock up against the window. Durius comes in periodically to get some relief. But at 11:30 we are both outside, but with the lights off most of the bugs take off elsewhere. Now it is us and drunken teens who are out way too late.
Durius and I talk and periodically patrol around the store, waking up people who have passed out and ushering them off the property or calling for the cops to take them to the drunk tank. Talking to Durius about the companies and contracts around town makes me realize just how different this city is from Vancouver. I find out more about how bad the bad areas in the west part of the city are. One guard was beaten near to death after trying to stop 15 gang members from beating on someone else. In Vancouver, I don't think any guard would have tried to intervene - our training just outright states that we shouldn't. We would call it in to 911 and maybe advise the group that the Police have been called.
The Lucky Dragon shut down for a few hours to take inventory and clean up the mess. It is amazing just how angry people can get when a convenience store shuts down. People walk or drive up and leave in a huff or to the sound of peeling rubber when we tell them the store is closed. But two and a half hours and 50 drunken teenagers later I am finally out of there. Durius drops me off at my place. I am tired. I just stood for seven straight hours doing very little. I am hoping something else comes along soon. I need something more.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

On Bugs and Baldness

CD in Play: PJ Harvey, Peel Sessions

When I arrived here in Saskatoon two things were immediately impressed upon me. Firstly, this area receives much more sunlight than Vancouver does. Many Canadians (including not a few British Columbians living in enormous denial) are of the impression that British Columbia is the land of sunshine. In fact, the area I grew up in is classified as temperate rainforest, which means that it is quite rainy quite often therefore it is also quite grey. Saskatoon is classified as a dry-prairie/savanna biome averaging around 2,381 of sunshine a year. Secondly, Saskatoon has much more in the way of insects, especially small pesky insects. There are these flies out here, relatives of the fruit fly, that just swarm around and try to get in your eyes and ears, in your mouth and up your nose. They have done an excellent job of getting right up my nose. They also love to swarm and crawl around on top of my head.
Back in BC I was never given to wearing hats all that often. I did have a hat (and I still have it) that I liked wearing instead of a toque in winter time, but I really never took to wearing hats at any other time of the year. Part of it is because I am bald and just didn't want people to think I was compensating for a loss of hair, like so many men do. But being bald, a hat is a very good thing - especially here. I realised quite quickly that I was going to need a hat if I was going to live here. Burns, bites, sunstroke and skin cancer would be a drag.
I went to Hats and That in the Broadway area and bought a woolen Donegal style cap. (also called a Gatsby or newsboy cap) The cap has served me well and as of yesterday, I realised that I was taking it for granted. I left it in a co-worker's van at work yesterday (I worked for 13 hours at the Vans Warped Tour) and he left before I did. He is on holidays for two weeks, so I probably won't get my cap back until after that. No big deal, right? I can cope without it for two measly weeks, yeah? No. Not at all. As soon as I left the house bugs began landing and crawling all over my bald pate, driving me insane. (and yes, I do shower regularly) So it was off to Hats and That where I bought a lighter Kangol version of my cap. My sanity is safe for now - at least is on that front.

A note on baldness

It is interesting how people react to pictures of me with hair. Usually, they find it quite uncomplimentary on me, having only known or become accustomed to me being bald. My Dad has gone through the same thing when he has shaved off his beard. He finds people asking him when he is going to grow it back. (I also encountered this when I shaved off my goatee) I do miss my hair, but even I find pictures of myself with it a little odd.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Anatomy of a Perogie

Film Playing: The Candidate

So Geo is baking up a storm in preparations for her holidays. She and J are taking off to the Kootneys for an event called Shambala. There are Saskatoon berry muffins, cookie bars, granola bars and cram. (bacon, cheese and onion muffins) There is a whole assortment of mind blowingly tasty baked goods going on. Anyhow, we also managed to squeeze in our own perogies.
I picked up some pointers at the perogie plant and took the opportunity to to experiment. I may try and sell these at a farmer's market sometime, they turned out really well. Heather's filling was potato based and featured cheese, onion and a spicy ham. The first of mine was a mix of three cheeses and garlic and the other was meat, cheese and herbs. All turned out well. I need to work on a tomato sauce for these - something light and fine. I also have ideas for cabbage rolls with a Spanish and Moroccan flavour.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cowardice and Culpability

CD in Play: The Future Sound of London, Dead Cities

The big story in Canadian news is the attack and beheading of a 22 year old aboriginal male in Manitoba aboard a Greyhound bus. (See the CBC website for the story, Geo's computer won't allow me to post the link) Tim McLean of Winnipeg, MB was heading home after working a carnival in Edmonton, AB. As he was snoozing in his seat a 40 year old passenger named Vince Weiguang Li (from Edmonton) pulled out a what sound like a large bowie knife and proceeded to stab Mr. McLean repeatedly, calmly and dispassionately. Two witnesses have described the scene and when people realised what was going on they fled the bus. The driver disabled the bus and Mr. Li was locked in side by a passenger holding the doors shut. Mr. Li decapitated Mr. McLean, showed the young man's to the people outside and sat in the drivers seat. He eventually attempted to escape out a window and was apprehended at that time. Cannibalism has also been mentioned in the story in the Globe and Mail.
It is horrific and baffling what happened. I caught some of the comments on this story on the CBC website. The trolls and reactionaries are out in force are out for blood on this one, with accusations of cowardice against Mr. McLean's fellow passengers. I find that many people who are quick to call others cowards are usually the first to go running to others for protection when confronted with a threat. The accusations bother me because I am not a coward when it comes to standing up for other people, but I honestly cannot say what I would have done in the place of anyone on board the bus. It would have been great to read about witnesses subduing Mr. Li at great personal risk and applying pressure to Mr. McLean's wounds until the paramedics could arrive and rush him to hospital. But that didn't happen and I don't think we can make accusations of cowardice against anyone on board either.
Mr. Li was said to be very unemotional in the attack, quite normal prior to the attack. There were no signs of agitation, no verbal outbursts just action. Mr. McLean began to scream and people are suddenly confronted with a horrible act in their midst. It is a horrific thing to see. I have never seen anything quite like this, but horrible things can leave you stunned for a moment. Had the witnesses Garnet Canton and Cody Olmstead decided to tackle Mr. McLean's assailant, chances are there would have been three dead men on the bus. Instead, Mr. Olmstead alerted the other passengers as to what was happening and got them to leave the bus. Mr. Li came after the driver, Mr. Canton and Mr. Olmstead with the knife and attempted to slash them. Mr. Canton held the doors shut as Mr. Li tried to get out.
I have stood up to many people at great personal risk to myself, some of this people could have easily killed me or done serious damage. However, I do not know how I would have reacted on that bus confronted with Mr Li and his actions. I don't think many of you really know either. The people on the bus have their own nightmares to sort through now, they don't need anyone who wasn't there pointing fingers.

CBC's story:

A separate story of a man from Surrey who was stabbed coming to someone's aid:

In Addendum

I was talking with Geosomin today and we were talking about this story and the concept of heroism. Geo mentioned that she found it troubling how people are dwelling on the ghoulish aspects of the case. Natural I suppose, but think what people should really be discussing is the state of mental Health in Canada. For too long our "leaders" have pushed the issue aside, unless it is to make cuts to the Mental Health system. I know British Columbia is facing a Mental Health crisis, but so is the whole of the country according to an article in the Globe and Mail about a month back.
Something constructive needs to be done and done soon to prevent people like Mr. Li from falling through the cracks. The past couple of years have shown me the problems facing this country on the mental Health front and I fear this is the first of other grim incidents that could happen in this country.