Thursday, April 30, 2009

Movin' On Up (To A Deluxe Apartment...)

I'm moving outta here!

It's not far, and in fact it isn't moving "up" as the new place will be smaller, less rent $, and no deck or lake.

But it is damn well time to bid this dump adieu.

Bonus: I will be within easy walking distance of my current gym. Hopefully I will start going again (it has been a rough spring).


Monday, April 27, 2009

Anvil: A movie experience

The Skinny

This movie is recommended. My experience was transcendent, though somewhat unique, as you'll see below.

The flick is high on profanity, dubious on music, and enormous on charisma.

The Long

A friend and I went to see Anvil on Saturday night. A key point is that the band was in attendance for the viewing. They would take a Q&A session after our 7pm show and then play after a 9pm viewing.

The Setup

As background, Anvil is a heavy metal band that formed in Toronto in the late 1970s. They scored some modest success circa 1982 with an album called Metal on Metal. They toured with acts that would go on to be much larger. Though respected to this day as trail-blazers, their career tanked.

The buzz about this movie is that it is a mirror image of Spinal Tap. Spinal Tap is the iconic mockumentary where art imitates life. Anvil is a real-life, gritty 30-year existence of a band, whose tragic career trajectory imitates Spinal Tap.

This is especially true since the style (but particularly the lyrics) are similar. What's more: Rob Reiner directed Spinal Tap; a different man, Robb Reiner, plays drums for Anvil. It is no wonder that a lot of people think this is a big hoax.

It isn't.

To be honest, I only vaguely remember Anvil. I probably thought they were pretty cool, on the edge of the new metal sound that was quite electric to my 12 year old ears. Going into the show, though, I have to say that I was very skeptical and joked about asking some rude questions to the band.

The Movie

The film opens with a 50-year-old man delivering food to schools, driving a minivan. He is Lips, the lead-singer of Anvil, and founder of the band, along with his high school chum, Robb R.

For awhile, you laugh at these guys. They are old, weather-beaten, and well, kinda pathetic. However, their enthusiasm and passion is quite contagious: particularly Lips'. As they go on hiatus from their day jobs to embark on a modest club tour of Europe, you wonder, as they do, if things might turn around.

They don't. The tour is a disaster. e.g. They play a show in Poland for a crowd of 50 people, and then have to fight just to get paid. (This is bizarre as the movie theatre -- the Tivoli -- is at about 10% capacity itself, for the movie.) Their sound isn't really much different from their heyday in 1982. As they talk, the emotions run the gamut from devotion to their fans, hope for the future, and utter despair at the current circumstances. All of this is fuelled by a deep bond between Lips and Robb, who love -- and fight -- as brothers. They almost seem like Lennon-and-McCartney Lite: all the yin-yang fraternity, without the calories of musical genius.

This is cognitive dissonance as art.

Somewhere, though, along the way, they win you over. You secretly realize that though you know intellectually that they should pack it in, you are rooting for them. This was doubly strange with them in attendance at the Tivoli. I really felt embarrassed about some of the jokes I had made. These guys are living their dream. Robb is quiet about it, but Lips is pure, unabashed charisma. He is so excited to be onstage that it belies the dark, macabre genre that they've chosen.

The Mind-Blowing Weirdness

I don't feel that I've caught the vibe here but by the end of the movie, some shed tears. I don't know why, and yet I do. This movie is about humanity, brotherhood, and blind devotion in the face of logic and sanity.

At the Tivoli, the credits came on screen and I heard some music start. After a moment, we realized what had happened: the band had secretly jumped into the orchestra pit, donned their instruments and began to play their flagship anthem. They weren't supposed to play yet, but to hell with it -- this is rock 'n' roll!

Half of our crowd stood to clap and rock out. About 6 (six!) dudes with long-hair, tattoos, and dusty metal tee-shirts now rushed to the front to head-bang.

For 3 incredibly weird minutes, we were in the documentary. University City (a section of StL) was united psychically with Krakow, Poland: both were mostly indifferent to Anvil, and yet contained a few freaks to offer support to an aging metal band. There are no words.

It was embarrassing, cool, and foreign, all at the same time.

The Departure

I wore a red t-shirt that sported a Maple Leaf and the slogan "Canada, Eh?".

As we left the theatre, the band manned the merchandise station. I went up to Lips, the singer, and said hello. He burst into a big grin and said "hey I have a shirt like that, only with black lettering". I told him I was from Canada and that I hope that the film takes them "through the roof". He shook my hand and thanked me.

The sincerity in his eyes was unbelievable: it was heart-warming and alarming (in the sense of being worried about him), all at the same time.

Moments later, as we walked down the street, I desperately wanted to return, and give the guy a big hug.

And that feeling is precisely why you should see this movie.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More curves than Marilyn Monroe

Life at my apartment complex is somewhat unpleasant. However, there is an oasis of sunshine in an otherwise bleak existence: this car in the parking lot.

I drive by this beauty every morning. Compared to the boring, efficient lines on all the other cars, this thing stands out like a black lightning bolt against a grey sky.

Taking a page from my Dad, I'll invite readers to guess the year and model. I've done some research and have it down to a 2-year window.

ps. I'm not sure if it is the suspension or the pavement, but she is always leaning to one side, which really adds to the dynamic of the lines (though probably not the ride quality).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hrmm... maybe this could go somewhere

I mentioned the new tech idea in a previous post.

Here is some early reaction from someone in Brazil.

If this is my new gig, I'll save some $ on bumper stickers!

ps. Props to EMB for the funny comment on CtJ ;-) He asked if "patently false" consists of fake news

Golfing on PEI

BryGuy sent this my way... A reality show on the Golfing Channel, set on PEI (click here)!!!

The sport of golf on PEI is no surprise: about 15 years ago, a US magazine rated an Island course at 5 stars. Quick to look for income, there was an explosion of courses all over the Island (with some concern for the environmental impact).

However, I didn't know that there was a TV show! This will be a great boon to the tourism industry. If you watch it, you will probably be tempted to write me and ask: why would you ever leave? Before you do that, I invite you to check out the photos over on Pedaling PEI to get a more accurate assessment of the Island.

(There is no denying that the summer is perfect, though).


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wired magazine gets spooky

I received the May issue of Wired today.

You can't make this stuff up. Every month they do a page called What's Inside, where they explain the chemicals in a product ranging from spray cheese to Tilex.

This month, and I kid you not, the product is WD-40.

No joke. It turns out that it is mostly mineral oil (i.e. baby oil and vaseline) with some hydrocarbons thrown in as the solvent and propellant etc. The main nasty seems to be cyclohexane which, as they point out, "will knock you out cold if you huff it".

Overall, the apartment situation is much better and I consider it resolved. Though still going to look for a new joint this weekend. It's time.

In other news, I thought I found a neat puzzle for Mom in the Wired issue. These guys make high-end jigsaw puzzles that are beautiful and backed with cherry wood. This monstrous example has a mere 44 pieces, but they fit together in many different ways: and only one is correct.

The bummer is that the thing costs $400. Holy moley! The catalog is fun to look at, though....

The Best Help-Me-Move Request in History

This is a wonderful email from my friend Andy.... all personal info removed.


On the morning of Saturday, April 25, at 10 in the morning, you are all cordially invited to help me move the detritus of my work life....

I shall, by the end of the work week, have moved all the operating technologickal equipments from the premises, leaving only the
to be

With a sufficient force of manpower, and the
and also the
I'm confident we can extract said materials from the old location and deposit them in the new one within the span of two to three hours...

Thereafter, we shall adjourn to my
and feast upon

Please RSVP

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

And now, the WD-40 Atomizer

I won really big at poker recently, and the universe has decided that there must be balance, because things have been pretty rough since then.

Rant: enabled.

The heater at my apartment is pretty loud, which I think has been contributing to a "ringing in the ears" sensation. I have a mild case of this from, probably, my Miata and my guitar playing.

I asked the apartment complex to check it "and see if it is normal".

Later, I came home to a rather smelly apartment. My sense of smell is not keen: but even I could tell something was awry. (This wasn't just a faint odor: it seemed serious.) I shut the heater down and opened the windows. I called the complex to complain.

Four days later (with heater turned off), they send someone out. I was there with a maintenance guy (who was cool and helpful). I fired up the electric furnace again (for the first time) and there was the smell. This time, I recognized it immediately: WD-40.

Now, we all know that WD-40 is the twin brother of duct tape: an all-purpose remedy for anything squeaky or stuck. (It isn't a lubricant, from what I understand, but whatever: it works.)

I think, if used carefully, it might make sense for a heating unit.

However, using it liberally on a glorified fan probably isn't a great idea. Surprise: the air tends to fill with atomized particles of WD40ium, or whatever that stuff is made of. The maintenance guy agreed that "they went a little overboard".

Perfect. Now, I will wonder if my couch smells like WD-40 for the rest of my days. I tend to get neurotic about air quality. Though in this case, I'm not sure that it is neurosis.

I am 90% sure that I am moving out at the end of May. I can't take it anymore.

Rant: disabled.

I am grateful that I have family, friends, a career, and my health (I hope). I will repeat this today.

ps. They are replacing the electric motor and cleaning the unit. I wish they had done that in the first place. I have only been paying them rent for 8 years!

pps. Yes, the potential fire hazard was on my mind as well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Venture

This is more on the tech side, but I thought I might write a bit here, as I'm excited and really grateful to some key people who have listened to me on this front.

Though I remain true to my tech blog, it hasn't been doing anything new lately so I have decided to try something else: a Twitter feed that is dedicated to the spoof stuff. Specifically, it is just satirical, absurd geek headlines and nothing else.

The idea came when I realized that the best part of The Onion are the headlines. The actual articles are just follow-through filler! (Though the Kafka video is unbelievable -- a masterpiece)

Anyway, thanks again to my peeps, and wish me luck...

The Twitter feed is here. There is a blog as well but mostly as a "home base".

ps. Long-time readers will recall incendiary tirades against Twitter both on this blog and the other one. What can I say... it is a cool site, and I've been swayed. To quote one wag, Twitter is to Facebook as Google is to Yahoo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Metallica is still hardcore

Check out this great pic of Metallica's lead singer out on the town!

The best part are the words: they match the rhythm of one of Metallica's heaviest songs (One).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy 10th!

Friday will be the 10th anniversary for my Uncle R and his wife C!

If you know me in person, you probably know that I had two major influences (from each side of the family): Ricky and 'R'. R is often referred to as my Beatles Uncle.

Many readers also know that, despite being happily single, I quite enjoy stories about weddings: particularly the proposal, the choice of wedding song, and other traditions such as the tactic used to get the bride and groom to kiss at the reception.

Well, Uncle R and C have a dandy story. A Hall of Famer. I hope I haven't written it before... I'm getting old and this is an old blog.

Here we go...

Both of the families have a long history with our local volunteer fire department. C's father and my father (R's brother) were in the department for many years. Many of us grew up around the 'fire hall'. We were often at the station on weekends; there was a major summertime competition between rival departments, where the firemen/women would display their skills; and, of course, our fathers would rouse themselves from bed in the dead of winter to fight a barn or a house fire. (See the quote by John Godfrey Saxe).

Ever since she was young, C wanted to ride on a fire truck at her wedding. She was often told, despite the sense of community, firemen do not -- cannot! -- use equipment for such things. For years, she was told "it's not gonna happen".

Many years later she met my uncle and the courting commenced. A couple of years later, I was living in Cincinnati and I received the call: he popped the question. I was asked to be best man.

And so on a sunny day in April 1999 there was a lovely ceremony in a small church back home. Though I nearly killed poor R by pinning a corsage into his chest, everything else went swimmingly. (Some other time, I'll write about weddings in small churches. They are wonderful.)

The couple walked down the aisle together, smiling, and received people at the back of the church. We all filed past them, going outside to blow bubbles (in lieu of throwing rice) on the happy newly-weds.

Imagine the look on C's face, as she stood at top of the church steps, when she gazed upon the Fire Engine No. 1, below. Fresh from a wash, its classic red paint glistened majestically in the mid-day sun. Four firemen from the department stood by her, dressed in their formal blues. Giddy with delight, C and R climbed aboard, off to the reception, held at the very same fire hall where we played as children.

When a father and an uncle put in years of good work, and want to surprise good people, things happen.

And dreams come true.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

'Tis the Season

Happy Easter and a Joyous Passover as appropriate, dear readers!

It has been a lovely weekend here in StL. Really sunny and fairly warm, unlike the past few days. Many friends are making Easter eggs and taking the kids on hunts.


ps. Factoid: my tech blog receives a lot of hits these days for "Easter". Many of them come from a Chinese search engine called

Sunday, April 05, 2009


Long-time readers will know that bought a new stereo for the car, Rowdy, some months back. It isn't super-fancy but it is modern: it plays MP3's, has a connection for an iPod, etc.

It has been fantastic, for several reasons:
  • I rotate two RW CDs. Burning new podcasts on disc gives me the same thrill as buying a new CD. I'm not especially materialistic but that feeling is pretty neat (considering it is free) in this economy.
  • I can't stand listening to the radio anymore. If I have new stuff to listen to, I'm happy to drive anywhere. Otherwise, I feel like I am wasting time.
  • The connection to Canada is fantastic. I am listening to all kinds of news and entertainment stuff, mostly from the CBC. I recently listened to the woes of Newfoundland (celebrating a tumultuous 60 years in Confederation) and a tribute with the legendary Gordon Lightfoot.
  • I listen to a lot of geek podcasts. Free-training during my commute!
The upshot: podcasts rock. If you don't have any in your life, there are many ways to open yourself up to them. An iPod isn't strictly necessary!