Saturday, June 30, 2007

Streetsville Part 2: The Perils

While Streetsville is quite nice in many ways, bearing infinitely more character than the average template suburban tile on the Mississauga gridworks, there are in fact three ghastly monsters lurking at its underbelly, of which I've previously hinted at to various degrees. But let me expand:

1. Youth and Their Automobiles

They pause at the intersection under our living room window, stereos blasting vulgar stereo noise that they sadly mistake for music.

They cruise back and forth down the street sadly mistaking large groups of pederastrians for envious admirers of their spleen-shivering injurious ultra bass weapons of mass-vibration, not realizing how loathsome they are and how sincerely wished they are to die and painfully so.

They park in our private lot and return from the bars at two or three in the morning, laughing idiotically, hollering moronic things to one another, making asinine threats, arguing, fighting, slamming doors, gunning engines and keeping other, potentially useful, human beings - we residents - awake, sleep-deprived, and thus somewhat less useful the following day.

And though, yes, I frequently wish them dead, during fits of selfish despair, I do fully realize that none of this is particularly their own fault.

That this is only to be expected.

That this is merely one of the more pathetic symptoms of this wildly illogical, illusory society; this thorough alienation of youth stemming from our flat denial of their nature and our bizarre insistence that we infantilize them, treacherously disconnecting them from their own reality.

And that we were entrenched in this fantasy existence long before they were born.

Oops, sorry. 'Nuff preaching.


2. I Got the Power! (Now and Then)

Here is the scene from 12:45 PM today at the grotto:

FWG stares at the black computer screen, utterly stunned, his eyes wide as frying pans.


"Hey Rich, the power went out," says Steve-o. He's standing at the living room window, looking down at the main intersection of Streetsville.

"NO SHIT EINSTEIN! I was writing all morning and I've lost it all! ALL OF IT!! AAAAAAARRRRRRGH!!!"

"Come look at this. There's gonna be an accident."

"I'm going out to find the nearest hydro worker and kill him. You in?"

"The stop lights are out and they don't understand."

"I think I'll strangle him with barbed wire."

"They don't get it. They're supposed to treat it like a four-way stop."

"It's a three-way intersection."

"Yeah but they're supposed to treat it like a four-way stop."

"Why not a three-way stop?"

"Yeah, whatever. At least the barbecue 'll work. I'm making double-baked potatoes tonight."

"No you're not. We're having hydro workers for dinner."


"And we're eating them raw. I want to taste the blood."

"Oh come on. It's not that bad. Come and watch the accidents with me."

"Fuck off."

Steve-o starts to sing and to dance. "Gray skies are gonna clear up!"

FWG turns, sulking, and slinks back up the stairs.

"Put on a happy face!"

Our hydro fleebs on us twice a month minimum. Minimum. It's unbearable.

3. The Queen of Freaks

I think you got the idea from the previous Welcome to Streetsville post but here's an update. There's not too too much to report on account of her being absent a few days this week. Where did she go, you ask? We don't know exactly. The nut-house perhaps. But she's back. Perhaps she was just too nutty to fit into their program Perhaps she was over-qualified.

We returned from work Monday, first day of the recent heat-wave and were told by another neighbor that we would not see crazy Jolee for awhile on account of her being picked up by authorities after running through the streets half-naked and causing quite a fuss. She's very good at stirring up screaming matches with strangers, you see. To the point that some of the local merchants below us have taken to offering to escort their customers to their cars for their protection against the screaming local lunatic.

Now here's a funny coincidence. A friend of Steve-o's called to tell him about a bizarre experience while visiting our neighborhood that Monday afternoon. He and his girlfriend bought a couple iced Cappuccinos from the local Tim Hortons and climbed back into the car when suddenly a woman wearing bra and panties jumped into their back seat and said, "Stick-em up! Give me your ice-caps!" They yelled at her to get the hell out of their car. She did, whipped off the bra and went running down the street drawing jeers from a crowd of onlookers. There's an O.P.P (provincial) police station on the same block so we can piece together the rest.

She's back now and claiming to have left the local police force and been hired by the O.P.P. She says that they haven't given her her guns yet and won't until things are straightened out regarding her medications but upon that time - she will be armed. I guess she spends so much time in the company of police officers she's taken to thinking she's one of them.

We've discovered she refers to herself in the third person. And not as Jolee but as Barbie. Steve-o hadn't been informed of this and learned of it the hard way. She coaxed him into her apartment to look at her plumbing - um - her kitchen faucets that is.

"You'd have sex with Barbie, wouldn't you?" she said.

"No," replied Steve. "I wouldn't."

I trust him when he says he didn't.

She leaves her back door open when she's home and I see that the interior side of it has been painted brown. Or rather - two thirds of it has been painted brown. And not by brush or roller. No. By finger. She has clearly finger-painted her door. Also on the door are two writings in black marker. In one place it reads, PAint mE and in another, SCREWS. You can clearly see these words through the smearings of brown paint. At least I assume it's paint.

Oh god.

Oh god oh jesus oh jesus oh god. Please. Let it be paint.


Friday, June 29, 2007


…And you know what that means.

Okay. No more pencils, books, dirty looks etcetera. Yeah, yeah. Okay. But more importantly:

No more stopping behind the flashing lights of big yellow busses.

No more chauffer moms (or dads) adding to the daily rush-hour load.

No more crossing guards taking their sweet-ass time (Sorry Aunt Karen – no offense).

And no more parents halting their cars in all bizarre manner of places and traffic situations and angering other motorists and then sending their children out to scurry through traffic (and said angry motorists) to get to the schoolyard – if they’re lucky. I’m convinced this is some kind of extreme strain of Munchausen syndrome.

There’s one school in particular where this problem is really bad and police cruisers habitually sit nearby trying to deter folks from this practice. Now they’ll be freed up to do more important things. Mainly, following me around everywhere I go, dishing out speeding tickets and breath tests.

So what does it mean?

Fifteen minutes people! It took me fifteen little old minutes to get to the office this morning. Shorter drive time means more time to spend at the office, saving the world through quality marketing data! Hoo haw! We’re livin’ the good life now.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Book: Contact


If the T.C. Boyle collection was a personal breakthrough in literary tolerance then Carl Sagan's Contact was a miracle. Despite constant glaring offenses in the writing style and story framework I was able to participate with very little annoyance.

The book - though clearly fiction - reads often like biography or technical article. And when venturing into the softer matters - of the heart for instance - the narrative is brutally unsubtle. Incredibly I was okay with all this. The only sin that got me at all worked up was the terribly indulgent travelogue chapters that made the second of the book's three parts drag like a sonofabitch (yes - drag like a sonofabitch. What a brilliant simile, eh? I swear I'm gonna be famous one day with such scintillating description as this). The plot has the heroes travelling to different countries, the primary reason, apparently, being an excuse to regale the reader with historical and geographical factoids of the sort that Sagan clearly finds interesting and that this reader most fervently did not.

Aside from that I was thoroughly immersed in the book. Partly, I suppose, because I'd already developed significant trust and respect for Sagan through his other, technical, works and partly, I suppose, because of the subject matter, having to do with the future of humankind and the nature of the universe, being very near to my heart; being of intense interest to me.

I'd seen the movie a couple of times and loved it and was surprised - and disappointed, actually - to discover how closely the movie adhered to the book with regards to themes and the core speculations of the author. I'd hoped to absorb more advanced insights than I had gleaned from the film. Mind you the afterward seems to suggest that Sagan himself designed the concept of the movie and did so prior to writing the book.

Much of this work has to do with the rift between science and religion and some attempt to bridge it - or at least to propose commonality. I can see how this might have fascinated me at one time but at this stage of my exploration I'm far more interested in the gap between scientist and poet. This seems to be an outright war of paramount importance. At this time I can imagine no greater accomplishment in life than uniting the scientist and poet. I wonder often if such an endeavor is indeed the purpose that my own core work is evolving toward. I also wonder if such a dream is thoroughly and pathetically naive.

Anyone interested in cosmology, astronomy or theology, I suggest you'll find Contact entirely useful. As for all others - It's a great story. I beg you to experience it. But I suggest you choose between the movie and the book. You probably won't want to do both.


More stories from the loo

No, not the Louvre. The loo.

As our lacrosse game in St Catharines is an early one this week, I will visit the I.S. afterwards. Therefore car-pooling arrangements with teammate Porn King are altered. We meet not at his Burlington house but at a parking lot on Centennial Road, just off the highway at the Hamilton - Stoney Creek border.

At this large, relatively dead plaza there’s a Golden Griddle Restaurant – haven of extremely bland food. It’s a great place to go though, at six in the morning on the tail of a vicious bender where wine with dinner migrated seamlessly into double scotches at a noisy dance bar then quadruple scotches at an after-hours party and then stunned disbelief at the rising sun, a wildly spinning environment and the realization that you’ve devolved into a four-legged beast. A place where you can pound back eight cups of coffee and six breakfasts and begin the slow agonizing recovery into being human again.

Not that I would ever do anything like that.

Ever again.

It’s also a great place to duck into on a hot afternoon to make use of their bathroom and change out of your office clothes and into shorts and T-shirt. And that is my intention.

But the bathroom is small – with just one cubicle and it’s in use. So I wait. I hear voices inside it.

“I don’t think this poo will drop,” says a voice - a very young one.

“Sure it will,” says a parental one.

Groaning... grunting…

“There it goes! Weeeeeeeee! Sploosh!”

“Weeeeeee! Sploosh!” sings dad and thus begins the father-and-son turd-dropping song in two part harmony.

I'm forced to leave. It’s that or crumple to the floor in hysterics. I get changed in the truck.

I can conceive of the idea of having a child. It’s not entirely unimaginable. But taking part in the poo-dropping song?

Sorry. No can do. I can only assume that having children must do something weird and magical to your brain.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Letter to Proctor & Gamble

I'm sending this letter today:

P&G Canada
P.O. Box 355, Station A

Toronto, Ontario M5W 1C5

Dear sir or madam:

I’m concerned about the lid for the deodorant I purchased recently called Gillette Right Guard Sport Active Deodorant with NEW! Fresh Scent!

The lid is designed to fit perfectly flush with the rest of the apparatus forming a simple unified shape. It’s my observation that it has long been the convention in the deodorant world for products of this shape to be designed with such a lid fitting very snugly. Thus when customers reach for the product they need not take caution to pick up the unit by the bottom portion necessarily and need not take care to hold it upright lest the lid fall off. Such casual use of the product would seem encouraged by the manufacturers as the design does not make the body and lid particularly distinguishable.

However the lid of my new Right Guard Sport Active Deodorant with NEW! Fresh Scent! fits very loosely.

This morning I picked up the unit by the lid and the container portion immediately fell away. As I was in the motion of pulling it away from the shelf, the momentum carried the unit roughly three and a half feet west of the cabinet on its path to the floor.

Alas – it did not hit the floor. Do you know what obstacle lies on my bathroom floor roughly three and a half feet west of the cabinet? I think you can guess.

The shot was a perfect one. Swish. No rim.

To your credit, I’m pleased to say that your product floats very nicely and was thus easily retrieved.

However I fear that future enjoyment of your NEW! Fresh Scent! will be hampered by the constant knowledge of the environment this product has visited however briefly – a place not in any way conducive to fresh scents.

It’s my hope that you will share some thought on this matter.


Fantasy Writer Guy

Monday, June 25, 2007

Revenge of the Xiphisternum

I think it's been five years now - since I first went to Doctor Rhamadamadingdong about the lump on my chest and was told I have no lump on my chest. Four doctors, two x-rays and one ultrasound later and I find myself at Dr. Grant's Lipomorium on the promise that this specialist would be the one to determine which of these spreading little beasts should be removed and would be the one to do the removing.

After poking me into oblivion with his bionic finger he announced, "These aren't Lipomas. There's nothing I can do for you."

"Oh. Do you have any idea what they are?"

"Not a clue. I can't detect a thing. I'll contact your family doctor and let him know."

"Oh. Okay. Do you have any idea what kind of doctor I should see about this?"

"Not a clue."

Five years, five doctors and I'm back at square one. Except whatever these frigging masses are, they're many times larger now.

The ex is in the medical industry. I called to see if any strings could be pulled. Some way I could get in to see a good doctor. The kind who don't normally take new patients very often.

"Yeah, for sure. Doctor so-and-so! He's excellent!"

"Really? that would be great! But what kind of doctor is he?"

"He's a pathologist."


"I'm sorry. Did you say pathologist? I was kind of hoping for an answer prior to the autopsy. Does he ever examine live people?"

"No. Just cadavers and body parts. Amputated limbs and such."

"I see. Yes. Um. You understand I'd prefer to remain intact, right?"

"Of course. You wouldn't see him in an official sense. You'd come visit me when I'm on evening shift and he could take a look at you on the side. He wouldn't mind staying a bit late to do me a favor."

"Does he work in the morgue area?"


"Okay. We're gonna forget we had this conversation."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Amazing Technocolor Steve-o

More of the roommate's random mutterings. His singing, as always, is printed in italics.

Stephen's a tool... Stephen's a tool...

We three kings of orient are
Trying to smoke a rubber cigar.
It was loaded. It exploded.
Now we're among the stars.

Peameal and bacon
And boys like Troy Aikman.
The fuhrer's in Kleinburg planning extradition
He's gonna kill Tom Hanks 'cause he didn't like Road to Perdition.

Man, I can't even cut this. It's like trying to part the rivers of Mosesland!

Itsy bitsy spider ran up the water spout.
Out came the eggs and the spiders crawled out.
They went into my kitchen and into the hutch.
I don't like itsy bitsy spiders so much.

Hello. You've reached Stephen's House of Aesthetics and Hand Jobs. Please leave a message...

Love lists us up where we belong,
Where the eagles fly,
On my counter top...

It's like that bathroom candle. That thing was powerful. It could cover up anything. We could have murdered someone in the that bathroom and it would have covered it up. The CSI guys wouldn't even have figured it out - except they'd probably find some kind of insects. Ah, yes, the coabular dissenteria bugs. Those coabular dissenteriasts only infest bathrooms where someone has been killed by a knife and sodomized. Okay, now bring out the light gun. The light gun that can see through time...

Like a good neighbor...
My balls are there...

Why do people watch ultimate fighting? I'd rather watch ultimate knitting. At least they'd have weapons.

The above opinions are not endorsed by FWG, Troy Aikman, Tom Hanks, The Nazi Party, CBS Broadcasting Inc. or, presumably, Moses.

Star Wars

Had to share this. Just had to.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Welcome to Streetsville

Streetsville is a quaint little old-town neighborhood pushing the north-west fringe of the great sprawling suburban grid that is Mississauga, Ontario - the sixth largest city in Canada by population. In this city we have houses and buildings and people and grocery stores. We also have restaurants and traffic lights and dentists and fire hydrants. Doesn't that sound like an interesting place?

And if that's not enough, we also have schools and grass and newspapers and ATM machines. Isn't that wild? We're crazy!

We also have a mayor who's been re-elected more times than god. If she survives one more term in office she'll reach one hundred years of age. We celebrate that we have the oldest mayor in the world. We assume that there's a World-Wide Mayoral Date-of-Birth Registry Association who keeps track of these things for us. Safe assumption, right?

To get to Mississauga you can either drive east through Oakville until everything you see looks much the same as it just did - or you can drive West through Toronto until everything you see looks much the same as it just did.

I've lived in Streetsville/Mississauga over a year now but so far not the mayor, the mayor's age, the lofty population or either of the city's two biggest problems have seemed to make the slightest impact on my living experience. The two biggest problems of course being, one, that it is too dense an two, that it is not dense enough.

Once in Mississauga you can find Streetsville one of two ways. You can look at a damn map, Or you can just pull over and ask the nearest pederastrian to point the way to the nut-house. We’re smack in the middle of Streetsville, you see. If they're at all confused or unclear about your query just say:

"The nut-house! You know! The strip of loft apartments where FWG and Steve-o live and all the rejects of society. You know - the spaced-out lunatic deviant mental cases. The freaks. The freaks of nature. The crazy people. The ones who sniff their fingers a lot and drink their bath water - suds and all. You know? The looney bin. Where all the shit-ass crazy mega-maniacal mental-institution escapees live. Yeah. Yeah, that place... Thanks!"

There are eight apartments in a strip above eight stores. We share a substantial balcony running the length of the complex. So we're all rather cozy. Let me tell you just a bit about the neighbors. Just the highlights.


I call him Sal. I don't know if he minds or not. Sala is schizophrenic and heavily medicated. He's quiet and polite. He likes to sit just outside our apartment and smoke cigarettes, the stench from which rises to my second-level bedroom window and grosses me out. I don't mind too much. I like Sal. He's my favorite neighbor. He's by far the most normal of them, warts, schizophrenia and all.


She lives next door. She behaves in a rather chummy manner with me. She's a Christian and speaks very often of her church and its guiding influence on her life. She loves to give me advice. I don't bother telling her that her advice is almost never even slightly relevant to my life and circumstance. I assume that she assumes that not being Christian I must be a dumb ass and in need of much advice.

She's a fledgling writer. She wrote a romantic ditty about a man named Mac who presented a white handkerchief to the heroine at which time they fell in love and lived happily ever after. When later, in real life, at a funeral, Yvonne was crying and a man named Mark offered her a white handkerchief she nearly collapsed under the karmic wonderment of it all, fell instantly in love (well - upon approval from her church of course) and decided that she and this resident of England were going to elope to Scotland and marry. It hasn't happened yet but I think she's got her bags half packed.

I think she's one scarf short of a suitcase.


She's my other next door neighbor. She's very nice. Another writer of sorts. Yes, we're everywhere. Dime a dozen. Her child is not so nice. She's known as The Hellion among other less-printable things. She's maybe ten years old and likes to throw fits. Lots of screaming, screaming, screaming, slamming of doors, more screaming, maybe another slamming of a door. Maybe an other. Maybe one more. Perhaps a few odd bloodcurdling screams in between the regular screams of red murderous rage. I've often lost sleep due to this. Miraculously she has yet to scream so violently that a vital organ or two has flown from her mouth. I presume that day is coming. I presume that will be the sad sad end of her. Poor little sweetheart.

Julie has a spare room to sublet. She told me to recommend her to anyone I knew who was looking for a place (and who, presumably, wouldn't mind living with the daughter of Satan). Yeah. I'll get right on that.


He's different. Very different. A typical Carl encounter goes much like this:

"Hey buddy, do you think I could use your barbecue to cook some hamburgers?"

"Sure, Carl. Just remember to turn the gas off when you're done, okay?"

"Okay. Um. Do you have any hamburgers I could borrow?"

"Well, as a matter of fact we bought some frozen burgers and neither of us like them. You're welcome to try them and if you like them you can have the rest. I'll just grab them from the freezer for you."

"Thanks. Um. Do you have any hamburger buns I could borrow?"



"There's a variety store right below us. They sell buns there."

"Oh yeah. Hey, where is it you guys work, again? Is it computer work you do?"

"Yes, something like that."

"Could you get me a job there? I want to do computer work."

"I really don’t think they’re hiring, Carl, but I'll ask."

"Thanks, man."

Steve-o threw a barbecue party the other day for friends and co-workers. Carl sauntered over and was introduced to a few guests. He remained quiet for awhile, eyeing the burgers no doubt, and listening to the discussion going on around him; discussion around sports, politics, the workplace. Typical stuff. At a break in the conversation Carl piped up with this:

"So, do you guys prefer girls who squirt or don't squirt?"


Jolee is the queen freak of all freaks. You have no idea. Just looking at her is an adventure in queasiness. She's got the crazy eyes like nobody's business. She's lived here precisely two weeks and four days. I remember the day she moved in very clearly. The men moving her furniture approached carrying a mess of a couch that looked old enough to have survived the Truman administration - and one of his nuclear bombs to boot.

"Get out of the way, man," said one of the guys, "This couch smells like a fuckin' corpse!"

I held my breath.

Here's what Jolee has accomplished in just two and a half weeks:

She claimed to have lived here since April. (She hasn't.) She claimed to be our new superintendent. (She's not.) She claimed to be, on separate occasions, a police officer, a member of the Hell's Angels, a member of the Banditos and of the Mafia. The real police have visited her on at least three occasions that I've seen. Probably more.

She laid a surprise kiss attack on Steve-o in the parking lot, getting one cheek and narrowly missing the other as he ran for his life.

She's made enemies with pretty much everyone in the building and with a gaggle of teenagers who hang out in our parking lot very occasionally.

She opened her car door and smashed a neighbor's car door.

She drove her car partly off the ledge (our parking lot sits at a higher elevation than the surrounding ones). Or else her enemies pushed it off. I don't know.

Waiting for the teenagers to come along again, she hid in the bushes along with a tall vagrant whom she introduced as her bodyguard and who was found intruding in a neighbor's apartment uninvited just prior to the neighbor's camera going missing, and also with a large dog whom she introduced as her guard dog and who attacked a neighbor's dog, inflicting serious bloody wounds.

"We're talking their language now!" she proudly said of her trio of bush-sitting endeavor.

Last evening I showed up here with Rockin' Roddie and some cheese and salmon and healthy salad tid-bits. Steve-o was on a date. We planned to have a nice quiet dinner, share good conversation and drink a case of wine or two. The usual thing.

Jolee was waiting for us at the top of the stairs to the shared balcony.

"You had a flat tire!" she announced triumphantly. Not exactly true. I have a slow leak in one tire. It sags a bit now and then until I stop at Esso to pump it up with free air, use their bathroom and scram without buying a thing. "They did it! But don't worry! I took photos of your tire!" I guess she wanted to test out the stolen camera. "The police came and took Yvonne away!" (They didn't) "She was the ring-leader! She was repressing me! But it's all out in the open now! The conspiracy! They were gonna sneak into my apartment through the ducts and steal all their stuff back!"

People, I'm not making this up. I swear.

"Now everyone is going to have to apologize to me!"

"Well, I'm not going to apologize, Jolee, because I'm not involved in these shenanigans at all."

"Oh, I know. I know about you. I watch you. I see when you come and when you go."

Nice, eh?

Tonight I got home - after dark - and nearly made it in the door before she approached me with a wine bottle in her hand.

"All I've got left is the Merlot! Here, you take the Merlot. It's shit!" When I didn't move to accept the offering she placed it on my stoop.

"I don't understand," I said, picking up the bottle. It was filthy and empty and once held a Lindemans Shiraz according to the label.

She took it back. "It's Merlot. It's all I've got left. You'll need it. You have no light." She placed it back on the step. "The only lights that work are mine and the one at the end." Indeed they were the only exterior lights currently on - because the rest of us had simply not turned ours on. "I'm sorry it's dirty. It's covered in plaster. Everything is. Look at me, I'm covered in plaster!" (She wasn’t).

"Why are you covered in plaster?"

"I'm rebuilding the walls!"

"I see."

Sala meanwhile snubbed his cigarette and edged away from us. "Goodnight sir," he whispered.

"Good night Sal. You take care." I turned my back on Jolee, went through the door, turned, closed it and fumbled with the lock while spasms of terror racked my every fibre.

I need to buy some more locks. And I need to start parking elsewhere and using the private front entrance instead of the back.

God help us.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

The incredible shrinking world

I contacted my teacher from grade eight. I told him I'd be thrilled would he write back. He did. And I was.

How different the experience must be for him than for me. It must seem somewhat more like the same lifetime for him - that time twenty-five years ago. Whereas I feel more like a wizened reincarnation of that brave but fragile adolescent who lived in such a different world; a seemingly much larger world, riddled with mystique and threat and uncertainty.

I sense I have a new pen-pal. I won't continue to post our exchanges but this, his first overture, I shall record for posterity:


What a pleasure to hear from you and to get such glowing compliments!!! Of course I remember you!! The three of you were the AV guys I think. I would love to know what happened to Emil and John too. I got started in computer in 78 when St Gabes got that one Commodore PET 32 K computer!!! I finished my career in June 2005 after teaching high School since my start in Germany in Sept 1983. For the last 12 years I was teaching Computer Animation!!! I loved my times at St Gabe's and Camp Tawingo was always a highlight for me as were the ski trips. I can assure you that you were picked for the volleyball team for your talent not a sympathy call. I have attached three pictures.

I have 2 daughters 22 and 19.

OK so tell me more about you, your life, what you do etc.



Friday, June 15, 2007

Twelve Years

Twelve Years of tacit negotiation,
Forever logging concessions.
Rounding up our own,
Rounding down those received.

Twelve Years of reinvented intimacies;
Brief renewals of interest.
Where'd you learn that?
Oh, you just heard about it. Oh.

Twelve Years of conspiracy; of partnership in crime.
Of dangerous confession; blackmail material.

Twelve Years of personality roulette.
Monogamy? But I count at least three of you.

Twelve Years of sacrifice and reward.

Twelve Years of vanity.
Look everyone! Look what we've accomplished.

Twelve Years and we are still just strangers on a sidewalk,
Eyeing one another in a shopfront window.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Creature of Habit

I walked into Gemelli's today about 11:58 AM, just in time to beat the rush. I grabbed a tray and then a diet pop from the fridge and marched up to the counter to survey the delightful selections of the day - most of which were regulars, those that appear two to three days of the week. The meatballs are the exception - always present.

Today there's also broccoli, rapine, cannelloni, pizza, sausage with peppers, lemon chicken and pasta - all of excellent home-made quality.

"Chicken, meatballs and broccoli," said the familiar young woman. It was more a statement than a question.

"I beg your pardon?" I said.

"Isn't that what you want? You're in here all the time. I know what you like. That's why I don't ask you anymore if you want bread with your meal. I know you don't. That's why I don't bother telling you what the day's pasta dish is."


"So? Chicken meatballs and broccoli?"

"No. I'll have the broccoli, meatballs and chicken. In that order!"

She tried but couldn't quite suppress a smug grin.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Googling gopdebeek

You know what I like about the Facebook web site?

It’s not just that you can show off how staggeringly popular you are. Or how you can cram a phone-booth-full of good-looking friends into your profile pic and demonstrate what a cool crowd you hang with and how much gosh-darn fun you have. It’s not so much that you can align yourself with a myriad of fave movies and TV shows and let that serve as some kind of identity. It’s not the shallow whuzzupping splattered on everyone’s ‘wall’.

What I like is that we now have an environment where it’s acceptable – hip even – to reach out and contact old long-lost friends and associates.

It seems that as much as we love to run into old acquaintances, we fear to actually attempt to make it happen. As if those friends we’d vowed to stay in touch with might secretly despise us by now. As if we might appear to be some kind of desperate loser for phoning out of the blue.

Well, no more. I’ve made contact with estranged coworkers, lovers and even a Katimavic student I met only once, three years ago in a sports bar in a town where neither of us knew anyone. We’d traded email addresses for kicks.

But there are special people I’d love to reconnect with who aren’t likely to be on Facebook. I’ve searched for them and come up dry. There’s one fellow though, who’s absence there did not deter me. I left the Facebook site and went to Google and tried a few searches, hoping to find an email address. This didn’t prove easy. On the cusp of defeat I tried one last phrase – and found an address. I sent an email.

I hope the address is still valid. I hope he gets it. And I hope very much to get a reply.

From: Landriault, Rich
Sent: Tue 6/12/2007 11:15 PM

Subject: 25 years later...

Mr. Op de Beek,

I read this on a web site relating to a 'Lahr Senior High School':

OP de BEEK, Gys and Angela , 83-87. LSS Computer Science and Math; Angela taught Home EC. Now living in Kelowna BC. Love to hear from anyone. Contact us at gopdebeek

I'm hoping the gesture extends to St. Gabriel’s alumni!

You had me in your class in '82 (I'm guessing). It was your last year at St. Gabes before you went to Germany - I think it was - to teach at a Canadian military base. I was disappointed at that. I remember high-school kids dropping in to our class-room to visit you and I knew that would be me one day - dropping in like that. But of course life is not that predictable.

Perhaps you'll remember me. I chummed around with John Chalupka - the Quarterback, and the big Greek - Emil Fiorantis. You were generous to us, granting us privileges. Computer tutoring after school. Recess breaks indoors playing Dungeons and Dragons. Not having to do my homework! More than once you glanced right past my unfinished work without a word and carried right along with the inspection!

I have more memories of grade eight than any other school year. I can't even remember the names of most of my other teachers.

You selected me for the school volleyball team - for reasons not entirely to do with athletic merit, I suspect, but I loved being a part of it. Loved the uniform. For a shy sensitive kid it was a confidence-booster.

The week at Camp Tawingo. You took us on a night hike. An excellent experience. And the climactic night-orienteering competition on the final night. I was on 'your' team - the one you supervised. It was your last time participating in this contest and we read all kinds of significance into that. We were so proud to be on your team. We gathered out of earshot from you. "We're gonna win this for Mr Op de Beek. We HAVE to. Whatever it takes!" We all nodded solemnly. And then we went out and kicked ass. We flew by two other teams like they were standing still. A girl named Julie lost her shoe in the mud. "Leave it!" she cried, and finished in one shoe and one sock. Awesome memories.

You told me to exercise my choice. It was mine to make. So I did. I chose not to undergo Confirmation. You might say that that was the first big step in a very grand adventure. I've since escaped a great many trappings of society. It's extremely cumbersome to try to explain the journey I'm on. I'll say this much - I'm almost surely the happiest person I know and I'm more at peace with the world than most people could dream. I see my place in the universe with remarkable clarity. And I mean that in a very sincere tangible way. There's no mysticism whatsoever in my life. But forgive me, I didn't look you up for the purpose of bragging about my strange euphoric existence!

I googled 'gopdebeek' and a few similar phrases out of curiosity - because this 'facebook' social networking web site I recently got sucked into has awakened a bit of a nostalgic yearning as I've been re-introduced to old friends, and I started thinking of you. And because I just wanted to tell you that you're the best teacher I ever had. But I must be more honest than that. I really have no idea if you're the best teacher I had or not. To say so legitimately would require more examination into the essence of teaching and the education system than I'm prepared to undertake.

But I can say this. I count myself among the most fortunate of all people for having made friends of the highest character and quality - who are central to the joy in my life - and for having had access to the finest of mentors at the times I needed them and I count you among them. I will say that you're the finest human being that ever was my teacher!

So thank you - sincerely - good sir. I very much hope that you're well and happy and in good health.

I'd very much love to hear from you if you're inclined to write. It would be a thrill.

Rich Landriault

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ask FWG, not Jeeves - edition 4

More google questions. more answers.

1. deseronto hanger storage
For how many hangers? I have an uncle in Marysville who’s only using half his hall closet. I’m sure he could use the cash. Oh. Or did you mean hangar? I don’t think he has room for a plane.

2. pin her down struggle fantasy
Oh no. Oh dear. There goes the pervert alarm again. Why do I get so many perverts here? Look – I can’t help you with your struggle fantasy. Isn’t there a 976-number you can call?

3. guy noples
They’re mostly the same as girl noples but much more difficult to squeeze milk out of.

4. At the mercy of caning officer
Oh gawd, there it goes again. Can someone please reset the damn pervert alarm? Why me?

5. g2 oakville rout
Oh I’m so sick of these drive-test questions I could scream. 90 per-cent of my traffic is would-be motorists getting side-tracked while looking for drive test info. That and perverts. What a sad state of affairs.

6. lipoma forehead picture
I’m sorry. We’re fresh out of lipoma forehead pictures but can I interest you in a shot of Bob Runciman with three foreheads each bearing a swastika? No charge.

7. g2 oakville route
Oh – you again. And you remembered the ‘e’ this time. Good for you. But you forgot that clicking ‘Fantasy Writer Guy’ doesn’t lead you to the government drive test web site after all. Strange. You’d think it would, eh? Why don’t you go back and try it one more time?

8. fruitopia stain
Depends where the stain is. Is it on your bed sheets? Do you engage in rough sex? It might not be Fruitopia. Start by soaking in cold water. If that doesn’t work, let me know.

9. passing grade for g1 test Ontario
Piss off. Go away.

10. I fuck you back to ın the vevenıng!!!
Well! I guess I’ve been told. But really – change it up now and then. Try a little mormning session some time.

11. "jack handy" "deep thoughts" pickle jar
Yes. It’s true. Jack stores all his deep thoughts in pickle jars. Sometimes he has a hard time getting them out. He tries to stab them with a fork and the damn things just bob around, you know? It’s exasperating.

12. dvd ontario g1 drivers licence
Don’t rent it. It sucked. Lame plot, wooden characters and the car-chase was awful. They never went over 55 mph.

13. knowledge test for ontario,s written and vision test questions and answers
It’s called the Drivers Handbook. Buy it. Read it. Stop trying to cheat, you cretin.

14. imbibage
J’ne parle pas Francais, monsieur.

15. G1 testing centre eglinton Mississauga
Snorples. That’s right. I said snorples. It’s my web site and I can say snorples any time I please. Just try and stop me.

16. driving exams 5555 eglinton avenue west
Snorples to you too, Jack.

17. fantasy pictures wrath lust envy
That’s it? What about greed, pride, sloth and – and – crap. Why can I never remember all of the 7 deadly fantasy pictures?

18. purchasing naan bread in etobicoke
It’s quite easy. Really. You just say, ‘I’ll have some naan bread please.’ And they’ll give you some and ask for some money and you give them the money. It’s really nothing to fret over. Just tell the merchant it’s your first time. I’m sure she’ll be gentle and help you along if you get confused.

The information above has been tested on a closed track by professional drivers. Do not attempt at home. The author bears no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for any manifestations of the use or misuse of the above counsel, including but not limited to: financial loss, motion sickness, dimentia, groin pull, purple nurple, burnt toast, night sweat, goose pimples, heart palpitations, compulsive masturbation, split ends, hang-nails, terrorist bombing or unpopped kernels.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Steve-o: Popular Favorites

That's right. More ridiculous, regrettable, random regurgitations from the roommate. As always the songs are in italics.

Tweet tweet. Twiddle twiddle.
It’s the only one candy with the hole in the middle.

Welcome to Ground-Porkville, population this.

You’re a strange animal
That’s what Gowan knows
Cause he’s a strange animal
Larry Gowan…

Would you say I have a plethora of piñatas? Yes?
Do you know what ‘plethora’ means? No?
Then why would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?
Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s from ‘Three Amigos!’

Bacon fat… It’s not your fault…

Where are the midgets! I ordered fifteen midgets!

I’m fryin’
I’m fryin’
I’m cookin’
I’m not lyin’.
Fiiiiiiiive onion riiiiiings…

Man, that blows. That blows like a French whore with a wooden leg.

Willowby wallaby woo
An elephant sat on you
Willowby wallaby wee
An elephant sat on me.

You want some eggs for breakfast? I have to warn you they’re expired but just barely. They should be fine. Oh. Um. And the octopus has leaked all over them. Don’t worry, it’s just octojuice.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Book: After the Plague and Other Stories

“Who’s the author?” asked Steve-o, from the other end of the breakfast table – as I started in on the last of the stories in this collection.

“Last name’s Boyle,” I said and turned the book sideways, showing him the spine. “Middle name is this word.” I pointed at the name, Coraghessan. “Don’t ask me to pronounce it. And if you think that’s bad, I can’t imagine how ghastly the first name must be. They’ve only dared provide the initial, T.”

Reading this book was a bit of a breakthrough for me. I’d been in a pretty bad funk over my inability to trust the authors I’d been reading. As my own writing endeavors were maturing and intensifying I was becoming an apparent literary snob, finding flaws in everything I was reading and mentally re-writing it. And I was not happy about it. I thought I’d lost a sort of innocence that would never return.

Trust is a big issue for me. When an author both writes well and tells a story well (two different things, I suggest) and there are no serious flaws in the first chapter or so, I develop trust with the author, I suspend judgement and I fall into his or her hands – to be carried away into their world and to forget about my own. When these conditions aren’t met, I keep the story at arm’s length and reading it becomes a chore. I suspect this is true for most readers. I find it’s an instinctive organic response.

The situation improved as I returned often to authors I’d already developed plenty of trust for over years (Poul Anderson, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King for instance). But here’s the thing: This collection bears a flaw that should have been a stumbling block and yet I was able to overlook it. I was able to suspend annoyance each time it occurred and fall quickly back in to T. C. Boyle’s hands. I’m extremely happy about this.

I suggest that Boyle is both an excellent writer and storyteller. The writing is powerful. He mentions nothing off-hand just to make you aware of it but delves into the essence of everything. But succinctly, mind you, without hampering the pace. There’s a delicate equation behind the ability to do that. Clearly Boyle has lived a life of intense observation. That’s part of it. And his mastery of the metaphor and simile is another part.

The only thing eclipsing his mastery of the metaphor is his penchant for it. They’re on every page. When they work they’re magnificent, painting clear pictures both visually and texturally. But some of them don’t work very well. That’s the flaw that I was blessedly able to tolerate. Metaphors have to work perfectly. Otherwise forget it. When an awkward metaphor makes you stop and re-read it twice – it’s one that should have been edited out. It’s not useful at that point. And that’s my only criticism.

The stories here tend to involve highly relatable characters – regular nice people with regular nice idiosyncrasies and perfectly good intentions – that gradually, perhaps logically, slip into the state where desperate or unlawful acts are committed. He blurs the line between everyday people and freaks. Or perhaps he reveals that there is no line.

Very useful work. I recommend it to anyone.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why machines will not take over the world

I pulled into a Canadian Tire gas station last night about one A.M. A fellow stood next to the pump that would be the most likely for me to pull up to – which I did. I figured he was more likely a panhandler than an employee and one glance at his name brand running shoes told me he was less in need of cash than I was. Regardless, I had none on me.

He was a bit sloppy, a bit scruffy, but was alert. He hadn’t the half-comatose doormat personality common to the street-resident community.

“Could you do me a huge favor?” he pleaded – just as soon as I was half-emerged from the truck. I smelled scam all over him. “Could I pay for your gas with my credit card and you can give me the cash? You’re gonna fill up, right?”

I was taken aback. What kind of scam involved the scammer buying me gas on his card? Okay – you’re probably a little swifter than I and have figured it out immediately but I was a tad slow last night.

“I’m only getting forty dollars worth and I’m using debit. I have no cash.”

“Oh, well there’s a bank right over there at the mall next door. Could you do me a big favor and take out some cash? It would really help me out. I just got my credit card in the mail you see and I haven’t got my PIN number yet so I can’t withdraw any cash. I just need a few bucks so I can go to the bar, you know? I just want to buy a few drinks and have a good time!” His expression was wildly comical here, with eyebrows and shoulders severely raised and palms turned skyward.

Not comfortable declining good-Samaritanship without a solid reason I nodded slowly and said, “Okay. Sure. It’s a Bank of Montreal, right?”

“No, it’s a TD-Canada Trust. The Bank of Montreal closed down a while back. That’s okay, isn’t it?”

It wasn’t okay. I wasn’t about to surrender three bucks in service charges so that Credit Drinkie Boy could have a good time. But at this point my vague intention was only to stall him until I figured out what was going on and how to get out of it. I’m sure you already know what’s going on and are dying to get to the comment box and enlighten me in but don’t worry. I’ll come around. You’ll see.

“Sure,” I said and climbed into the truck.

“I’ll meet you over there,” he said.

Alarm bells went off in my head. ‘Yeah, you and how many creepy friends?’ “Uh – no, that’s okay. I’ll meet you back here.”

As I navigated the various obstacles between the gas station and the mall, I saw that he was running, making a bee-line for it. (Why are parking lot arrangements so wildly convoluted these days? Invest all your money in curb-manufacturers, people. It’s the wave of the future). As our paths joined I slowed and lowered the window.

He stopped and pointed ahead. “It’s up there by the three arches.”

“Gotcha,” I said and added firmly, “I’ll meet you back at the pump.”

He went no further. The bank was a fair distance away. As I proceeded I looked at the clock. It was many hours past the last possible mail delivery and there was almost no time at all for Drinkie Boy to get to the nearest bar before last call. The time of day did not support the plausibility of his story at all. It then occurred to me that any bar in town would surely accept his credit card. His PIN was not even required.

Finally I realized the nature of the scam. I’d been so concerned about how he might try to scam me that I’d missed the obvious. The victim was a third party. He had one or more stolen credit cards.

I drove past the bank and well away from the scene. I stopped at the next gas station and went to the pay phone and dialed 4-1-1.

“For service in English, say English. Pour service en Francais-”


“Do you want a residential number?”


“For what city?”


“For what name?”

“Hamilton Wentworth Police Service.”

“Please repeat that name.”

“Hamilton. Wentworth. Police. Service.”

“Thank you.”

A human being than came on. “Is this a regular non-emergency call?”

“Yes. I wish to report a crime in progress and I have no money on me so I want to make it a collect call.”

“I can’t do that from here. Only an operator can do that.”

We then proceeded to fall all over each other trying to come to an understanding. He seemed to keep trying to tell me that there was nothing he could do without receiving payment.

“Can’t you just tell me the number and I’ll write it down and then I’ll call the operator and request a collect call?”

“Yes. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

“Great. My pen is ready. Shoot.”

He gave me the number. I thanked him, hung up and dialed it with a zero in front. More recordings. I chose the collect call option.

“Please state your name.”


“Please hold.”

I could here the phone ringing. It was answered by an automated voice system. I knew immediately I was wasting my time. This wasn’t going to happen.

Now let me clarify the thrust of my post here. It’s not to demonstrate that there’s a crook on every corner, waiting to pull a scam. You already know that. It’s not to expose the fallacy of the idea of police being ready, willing and able to serve and protect at any given time. In my experiences only 9-1-1 calls garner any kind of useful response. Otherwise, getting the readiness and the willingness and the ability out of a police force is some kind of serious jackpot. I assume this also matches your experience. Hey, not that I’m complaining. I assume they do the best they can given the resources and legislation they’re provided. I’m just sayin’s’all.

No, the thrust of the post is this. You know movies like Terminator and The Matrix where the future is controlled by machines that have defeated humankind?

Well, there’s nothing to fear. Ain’t gonna happen for a very very long time. Here’s an indication of two machines trying to cooperate. Here’s what I heard on the phone more or less:

“You have reached the Hamilton Police Service. If you have a life-threatening emergency or wish to report a serious crime in progress-”

“You have a collect call from.”

“Please hang up and dial 9-1-1.”


“Immediately. If you know the 4-digit extension.”

“To accept the charges.”

“Of the person or unit you wish to reach.”

“Please press one.”

“Please dial it.”


“Now. Many frequently dialed numbers.”

“You have a collect call from.”

“Can be found in the white pages.”


“Under Hamilton Police Services.”

“To accept the charges.”

“If you are calling from a rotary-dial phone.”

“Please press one.”

“Or if you wish to speak to an operator.”


“Please stay on the line.”

“I’ve got my head stuck in the cupboard!” I cried.

“And someone will be with you shortly.”

“The party you are dialing is not responding. Please-”

“Oh fuck off.” I hung up and went home.

Pretty bad eh? Like a Monty Python skit? No sir, I don’t think the machines are gonna take over the world any time soon.

Now, call me crazy. Call me utterly kookoobananas if you will, but how about the automated collect call script containing a signal that could be interpreted by automated answering systems as a collect call which would then be patched directly through to the operator? Just a thought. I realize this is far more difficult than say – putting a man on the moon for instance but hey – that was 38 years ago. By now perhaps we’re ready to look into the technology of signals transmitted through phone lines…

Okay. Enough dream-building. The real tragedy is this. I mismanaged the whole affair right from the beginning. If you ever find yourself in such a scenario, do this: Offer to give the thief $40 cash if he’ll buy you $80 in gas. If only I’d been thinking!

[Editor’s note: The author does not in any way endorse the spontaneous fencing of stolen property nor any illegal profiteering of any nature nor the frying of bacon in the nude.]

[Senior editor’s note: There shall be no further references to nude bacon or use of the word kookoobananas on this web site ever again. This decision is final.]

Saturday, June 02, 2007

FWG's nugget o' wisdom #99

The dumb hath inherited the earth.

And they were anything but meek about it.

This has been an original nugget o' wisdom from the brain of Fantasy Writer Guy. Do not use nuggets o' wisdom without advice from your physician. Do not use if you are left-handed. Do not use if you are meek. If you are meek you don't have time for this crap. You need to get out there and win back the earth for Christ's sake.