September 29, 2008

Saturday at 10:00am.  Every Saturday.  He hated this.  Did that make him a bad person? 
As he drove to his daughters house, grimly chain-smoking in silence he contemplated this larger issue.   The divorce was in many ways a blessing.  He was eating better, going to the gym.. he even met someone, they were on their third date. 
When all was said and done, he didn’t hate his first wife.  She was a sweet girl and they remained cordial through the proceedings.  He was hit with huge alimony payments which he didn’t even bother to contest (much to his lawyers dismay).  After all, she got stuck with his daughter.  She agreed to take care of Dora. 
Dora.  He shuddered internally.  In the most tucked away places in his head, the places he didn’t go, he would admit that he despised her.  It wasn’t her fault she was one of 16 million children born with craniosyntosis – a relatively benign disease that sadly shaped her head like a football.  Anyway, it wasn’t even that part of it that bothered her.  He wasn’t that shallow, he could love a child with a football shaped head and freakishly contorted, massive eyes.  No, it wasn’t that.  It was the rest of it.
When she was 5, they had her tested thinking that her grotesque, misshapen skull had also caused her to be somehow mentally different.  But all the tests came back negative.  Except for her enormous troll-head she was in every other way “normal”.  Normal, whatever that meant. 
He pulled up to the house and she was waiting on the porch.  She was wearing the same thing as always, that orange – pink combination that set his eyes on fire.  The omnipresent backpack was along for the ride.  At least she wasn’t bringing that stupid howler monkey with her.  Last time she brought him that stupid animal bit the back of his elbow.  He was on second 15 of strangling the life out of it – Boots, she called it – when the fat, wet tears seeping from her thick, moon-sized freak eyes finally brought him back from the brink.
She climbed in the car.
“Hi honey” he said, forcing a smile.
“Ola Daddy!” she replied cheerfully.  Ola.  Him and his wife were born in Canada.  They had never even been to Spain.  Fucking Dora and her Spanish.  “Ola” he replied dutifully.
“Where are we going?” She asked.
“Oh, I thought we’d go to the zoo today” she was always talking about animals, and again, she loved that filthy howler monkey, so he figured this would be a win.
“The zoo!” shrieked Dora.  “Magnifico!!”.  Again.  Never so much as sniffed Spain.  “How will we get there?” she asked.  This was her favorite part.  He knew what was coming, he just didn’t know how to stop it.
“We just drive down the -” she interrupted, as she always did
“If there’s a place you need to go, I’m the map.  I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m THE MAP!” she sang happily, irritatingly.
“YOU’RE THE MAP!” he yelled with forced cheerfulness, hoping he didn’t seem manic.  “You’re the map” he repeated more calmly.  “I’ve gotcha.  You’re the fucking map”
She stared at him shocked “Mommy says you shouldn’t swear”
“Mommy says I shouldn’t drink either” he replied tersely.  God, let this day be over.
They drove in silence for awhile.
“Daddy, how do we get to the zoo?” Christ, she just wouldn’t let it go.
“Like I said Dora, we just head down the 401 to the 404 and then we’re there.”
“401.  404.  Zoo”.  she clapped excitedly.  “Daddy, say it with me!  401.  404.  Zoo.  401.  404.  Zoo!  401.  404.  Zoo!  401.  404.  Zoo!  401.  404.  Zoo!”
He struggled not to swerve the car into oncoming traffic. “Boy Dora!” he grinned “You sure have a great sense of direction.  Please don’t talk anymore for the rest of the drive, okay sweetie?”
“Do you know where the 401 is Daddy?” she asked irritatingly.
“We’re on it right now Dora” he said through clenched teeth.  “We’ve been on it for 15 minutes.”
“WE DID IT!” she clapped!  “WE DID IT!  WE DID IT!  WE DID IT!  WE DID IT!” she sang at the top of her lungs.
He nearly cried with frustration “Dora, please shut up?  Just for like 5 minutes?  Daddy.. Daddy’s had a rough, long day”.
“Daddy, maybe we should get something from my backpack?”
– Jesus wept – he thought.  “No Dora, let’s just leave your backpack out of this.  That… that doesn’t make it better, ever”
He flipped on the radio and concentrated on the road, hoping to mute her bleating to sweet sweet background noise.  He knew how this day would go.  She would spout the same repetitive phrases over and over again.  She wouldn’t stop.  It would get worse and worse.  He wished her cousin Diego was here.  He was also irritating, but made her marginally more bearable.  Being with her, even for 1/2 a day hour was worse than agony.  It was the same thing, over and over again.  It was totally predictable.  Even her drunk pedophile Uncle, Bob, with his sexually repressed assistant Wendy was better than this.  And that lunatic thought he could talk to construction vehicles!! 
Saturday at 10:00am.  He wished he was dead.


Canada vs. the US part II

September 15, 2008

Part 2 in a series of explorations of arbitrary comparisons between US and Canadian music.

Parts in the series:
Part 1 – Death Cab for Cutie vs. The Weakerthans – Winner: The Weakerthans.

Today’s Matchup:
We are the world (USA for Africa – US) vs. Tears are not enough (Northern Lights – Canada) vs. Do they know it’s Christmas (Band Aid – Britian)

The 80’s were a tumultuous time.  North America was seeing unprecedented levels of prosperity while other parts of the world were suffering.  We continued to explore issues like personal freedoms, broad political reform and horrific hair.  Africa continued to explore issues like how to get nutritional value out of dirt.

Part of the reason celebrities are so awesome is because they think they make a difference, when in fact they don’t.  Put another way, how successful any cause becomes is an inverse relationship with the number of celebrities involved in it.  Case in point – the 2004 American election had unprecedented celebrity involvement in getting younger people out to vote.  The result?  Lowest voter turnout ever in the demographic they were targeting.  Father case in point – Sean Penn advocates anything, but then does it in such a condescending, dickish way that people end up killing several endangered species just to wash the taste of smug, celebrity bloviating out of their mouths.

Anyway, in the 80’s the cause de jour was famine in Africa and by God, the celebrities had to do something.  They couldn’t possibly be expected to solve Africa’s food crisis simply by, oh, I don’t know, giving them some of their own money?  No that wouldn’t work, the only thing that would do the trick here was a ham-fisted song wherein a portion of the proceeds went to the kids.  This despite the fact that the bands included Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson (pre-crazy), U2, Neil Young, Anne Murray, Bryan Adams, Dan Akroyd (inexplicably), Paul Simon, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Collins, David Bowie and ALL of Big Country.

FYI, Michael Jackson’s net worth in 1984 – $168 million.  I’m just saying.

Anyhow, now you know the idiot players involved, let’s get right down to the comparisons to determine which country is superior (obviously not Africa).

The Lyrics:
USA: We are the World, we are the children.  We are the ones who make a better day, so let’s start giving.

This lyric almost singlehandedly reveals the problem with the US in its entirety.  You’re not the entire World, you self-centred douchebags.  And Bruce Springsteen is no more a starving child in Africa any more than I am the ruler of a small country off the coast of Peru.  You’re certainly not the ones who make a better day (insert obvious, tired joke about Iraq here) and as revealed in the paragraph above, the singers actually didn’t contribute any money. 

Canada: We can bridge the distance, only we can make a difference, don’t you know that tears are not enough.

Canada, didn’t you listen to the song by the US?  They’re the ones who make a better goddamn day, not you.  Also, I’m not sure Canada has ever made a difference to anything, anywhere, ever.

Britian: Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time.

I think I’ve got to hand it to the guys from across the sea here.  They don’t fuck around with their demands, they put it right on the table.  Feed the entire world.  They lose some points because I originally thought the lyric was “We the world”, but I’m not sure I can blame this on them.

Winner: Britian

Amount Raised
Canada: 3.2 Million
US: 8 Million
Britain: generically described as “millions”
Total raised – $15 – 20 million.  Not too shabby!  Winner, USA, but really if you pro-rate Canada, they win.  I’ll give this one to the States however.

People involved who, in retrospect, seem like a pretty odd choice to be involved
USA: Dan Aykroyd
Canada: Mike Reno (Loverboy)
Britian: Big Country
Winner (or loser): Britian

Quality of the song:
On its surface, this is a totally subjective choice, but it’s really not.  It’s just science.  I’m giving the nod to Canada for this one, especially when Bryan Adams comes in all emotional near the end and goes “TEARS ARE NOT ENOUGH… YEAH!”.  I feel his pain and I feel him hearing my pain.  Do they know it’s Christmas was a little more upbeat and had that groovy chorus, but it just can’t compete with a bunch of relatively unknown Canadians singing their little hearts out.  This song might have even won “Britian’s got talent”.

Who came first
USA: March 7, 1985
Canada: May, 1985
Britian: Dec 3, 1984

Britian takes this one. I didn’t actually know the song came out at Christmas, but it makes a lot of sense. I thought that they were being generic, like “it’s basically like Christmas everywhere else, all the time, what with our ubiquitous health care and healthy population and $2.50 happy meals.” but I guess they meant it literally. Given that the majority religion in Africa is Muslim, and Christmas is a Christian holiday, not only did they not know it was Christmas, they were probably kind of offended. Africa should release a song for the mortgage crisis – “Do they know it’s Eid al-Adha at all?”

And the winner is..
Britian takes this one in a cakewalk. They came out first, they had Big Country.. the deck was stacked in their favor from the start.

Bedtime Stories

September 12, 2008

“… but that’s a tale for another day” finished the Father, closing the book with a wink.  His kids watched him in fascination, mouths agape.  “Have a good sleep boys” he chuckled, tousling the hair of the youngest before getting up.  “Remember, there’s more stories of Captain Blackrod coming up”.  Another wink, and with a flourish, he turned off the light and shut the door.

He swelled with pride as he replaced the book in its prize spot in the mantelpiece.  His wife was always saying he wasn’t involved with the boys, well this would show her.  Yes, it would show her alright.  Not only was he reading to them every night, he was writing his own goddamn stories.  Other kids could be spoon fed the corporate pap that oozed out of Elmo and Barney and Fuckle and whoever else the shit those other dumb bastards liked.  Not his kids though.  At 6 and 8 respectively, John and Gus were old enough now to get the stories that had been bouncing around in his head for decades now.  Stories about Captain Blackrod, the dirtiest, meanest sonofabitch to sail the seven seas.

He wandered downstairs to tell his nag wife Deloris to maybe even go fuck herself, visions of becoming the next J.K. Rowling bouncing in his head.

In the bedroom, the boys had not spoken since their fathers departure.  Finally it was Gus, the youngest, who broke the silence.

“John” he whispered.  “John.  Are you still up?”
“Yeah” replied John from the blackness.  “I haven’t gone to sleep yet.  I… I can’t”
They mused over the truth of this statement for awhile, both lost in their own thoughts.
“John” whispered Gus again.  “Do you… like Daddy’s stories?”. 
John considered this for awhile.  “It’s not that I don’t like them.” he said slowly “but I don’t get them.”
Gus eagerly seized on this opening. “Exactly!  I like the parts about the pirates and the sailing the seas and finding treasure, but I don’t get a lot of words Daddy uses.”
“Of course you don’t” said John smugly “you’re just a little kid”
“Okay jerk” whispered Gus angrily “I guess you know everything.  Fine.  Do you know what ‘saw-domy’ or ‘saw-do-mize’ means?”

John didn’t want to admit that he didn’t.  “Of course I do.  It means… it’s a big word for… it’s what grown-ups say when they talk about… paying.. taxes!”  As soon as he said it, John new it was true.  “Doesn’t Daddy always say that the government is saw-do-mizing him when they take his money?”

Gus pondered this for awhile.  “So when Captain Blackrod and his crew of ruthless saw-do-mists captured Admiral Backwant’s ship, they made the entire crew pay taxes?”
“Exactly” replied John.
“For two whole days?”  Even to Gus, as young as he was, this seemed like an excessively long time to pay taxes.
“It was a weird narrative shift” John allowed.
“And then, I guess that’s why their ship is called the Filthy Saw-do-mist because all they do is go around and make people pay taxes”.

John agreed “That’s why all the guys are grunting and saying ‘no no no’ as their taut glistening bodies recoil.”
“Why do some of them eventually come to like it” wondered Gus
“They’re French” sneered John as if that explained everything.  “Who knows why they do anything”.
“Man” said Gus “I wonder why he just doesn’t say taxes then?  It would make the story easier to follow.  I wonder what will happen when they land on the Island of taxes?”

“Oh” yawned John “probably the same as always.  A lot of people will resist and then start liking it near the end and then pay taxes harder than ever.  I do wonder why no mommies ever pay taxes though”

Satisfied, both boys got to the business of going to sleep, looking forward to another round of stories tomorrow.

Sports and Wine

September 9, 2008

Contents of sports articles guessed at by someone who doesn’t follow sports just using the headline as reference

Brady out for season

I know enough about sports to know that they’re talking about Tom Brady, and I’m pretty sure he plays football.  Normally people either go to jail or get hurt when they’re out for the season, and I recall my wife liking Tom Brady so I’m going to assume he’s out with an injury.

I guess he hurt his throwing arm or maybe his catching arm.  I’m pretty sure he’s a quarterback, so maybe it was his running leg.  Either way, I’m sure this has some significant ramifications for whatever team he plays on (Jets?  49’ers?  Steelbacks?).  Now, I may not know football, but the one thing I do know is the coach who is in charge of whatever team he plays for, whatever his name is, will have a plan.  If coaches make staffing decisions (do they call it “staffing decisions” in football?), then this person would have a decent 2nd string quarterback.

I’m going to go against my colleagues and predict that this won’t impact whatever team we’re talking about in the slightest.  I’m going on record as saying Tom Brady had his best season three years ago and ever since then has been coasting on the momentum.  I think 2nd string guy (I hope his name is Gary, because that’s what I’m calling him from now on) is just dying to get in there and show Coach Whoever what he can do.

Whatever team we’re talking about, they have a strong backfield and also maybe the defense will pick up the slack.  Gary knows how to move the ball down the field, and he’s not afraid to call audible if he doesn’t like what he sees at the line.  Unlike Brady, Gary isn’t a selfish player and will probably pass to the wide receiver, on average, 6 times a game.  Also, look for special teams to really explode now that Brady isn’t doing something

Federer wins record 5thstraight US Open

This one has me stumped because I can’t remember if the US Open is the golf one or the tennis one or maybe even racing.  I think the racing one might be called the US racing cup or something.  The reason this has me so confused is because if it’s golf, why didn’t Tiger win?  Doesn’t he always win?  I guess he exploded on the back nine or something.  So I’ll have to take that angle.  If it’s golf.  Also, I thought “Federer” was a hockey player.  This headline is 10 types of fucked.

 Federer (maybe the hockey player) won a golf tournament, inexplicably.  No one thought he could do it, even though he’s apparently won this whatever four times in a row.  He demonstrated once again that he wouldn’t let Tiger’s head games get to him.  Tiger has a habit of flashing his Nike sign right at you when you’re about to putt, but Federer was wearing sunglasses or looking the other way.  Whatever he did, it worked.

If there’s one thing Federer knows, it’s this course.  I guess he should since he’s won it 4 times.  He seemed almost bored as he birdied the 2nd, 4th, 9th, 11th though 15th and 18th hole.  He only got one eagle, a disappointment for those who were betting large amounts of money that he would get more.  His next nearest competition was Tiger Woods who only made one good shot of the day, during bout of drunken, self-pity during half time. His caddy bet a rival golfer that Tiger could hit the ball out of the bar, across a lake, and hit a pillar and make a seagull fly away.  Winning this bet gave Tiger the extra oomph he needed to Rally in the 2nd half, but not enough that he could win.

Federer will be enjoying his the cash from his win as he moves into the hockey season where he can expect to make virtually no money due to the salary cap.