Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hi! I'm Shirley Crazy!

I'm surely crazy.

I just paid my fifty bucks so there's no turning back now. I've registered for the 2006 International 3-day Novel Contest.

I'd estimate there's at least 400 other writers from around the world entering. It started as a bet between a handful of Vancouver area writers back in the 70's. The idea is to write an entire novel between 12:01AM Saturday September 2nd and midnight Monday September 4th. Hoo haw! What a way to spend the long weekend. The original bragsters all failed to finish by the deadline but many have succeeded since then as the contest has grown. This will be my first time entering.

There's an online message board where entrants can keep in touch during the marathon. This is what makes the 'contest' all worthwhile I think. Because it's not about winning. It's about taking a solitary pursuit - and bringing its lonely devotees together in an environment of severe challenge where we can all support each other. Sharing our triumphs and frustrations and whatever else one goes through during such an absurd exercise. I guess I'll soon find out.

You're allowed to prepare an outline in advance. Mine is 19 chapters, 3 parts. Fatally over-ambitious I suspect but that's how the idea evolved. Not much I can do about it. It's too late to start with a new idea. The outline is fleshed out pretty thoroughly through the first five chapters. The rest is rough. The characters will hopefully take control of the story by the fifth chapter.

The immediate problem with such a short time frame is that good novel writing requires lots of mind time for the writer to get to know the characters so that the characters will assert their will when they're supposed to. A work that sticks rigidly to its outline falls flat because its characters have no voice.

I've tackled this problem with a fairly obvious strategy - one that may be common to this contest, I suspect - although I've yet to hear evidence of that. I'm basing my characters on my own circle of friends. They're a colorful bunch. I'll push their personalities to the edge. Make them just a little larger than life. It will still be fiction ultimately.

There's one obvious concern. In the hysterically unlikely event that I win, the piece would be published and thus become accessible to said friends. And they'd know pretty quickly which character they inspired. That could be awkward. I might have some 'splaining to do.

The outline could use some more attention but it won't get it. Tomorrow I have a date with Grandma for dinner and then a rendezvous with a very special somebody who's been garnering my rather elicit attentions for some time now. Friday evening Captain Vino and I will be taking Canada's largest ribfest by storm. I'd dearly love Professor Plonk to join us but he has a scholastic commitment and he's such a good boy I'm loathe to corrupt him by inciting truancy. For shame. Regardless, da Vino and I will surely do massive damage to the pork population on our own.

Then the grocery store. I'll stock up on simple comfort foods to get me through the writing marathon. Cereal, toast, hot dogs, salad ingredients. The phone numbers for Gino's Pizza and Popeye's chicken will be on hand.

Oh - and I'll need a bottle of champagne just in case. Just in case Monday evening rolls around and I see the words 'The End' appear before my weary eyes.

Wish me luck.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Skeeter Willis Report: Hello!

Hello. I’m new here – and I have a problem. That’s the first step – admitting that you’ve got a problem.

My problem is that the FWG has invited me to be a guest writer - and I’m not a writer. I don’t pretend to be – nor do I have the slightest idea what to write about.

Correction - 2 problems. No skills AND no ideas.

I suppose I should be honored. Mr. Visionary thinks he sees something in me that I haven’t yet learned about myself. Who am I to question his observation? After all, he’s the writer, the professional – not me. He’s well aware of the skill set and behaviors required. I certainly don’t. So, I’m intrigued. “Me? Write? On your blog? Wow.”

I first learned about this blog after the posting of the “Real swell email survey” and I’ve been a devoted follower ever since. Partly because:

1. I find this site extremely entertaining and well written;
2. I’m nosy as hell, and
3. I like to increase the site hit-counter a few times a day to drive FWG crazy.

But back to the email survey - I was quoted a few times by the FWG – so I think to myself: “Hey! I’ve already published Internet material! This is easy! No pressure. I can do this.” So I accept his challenge – foolishly, I suppose. If you recall, I have no skills AND no ideas.

I request suggestions from my new mentor– a topic - some sort of framework to work within. Anything. And what response do I get? NOTHING. Mr. Inspiration doesn’t want to limit nor influence my creativity. He wants me to fly solo. Mr. Generous ' only suggestion, and this is hardly parameter setting, is to “just be myself”…


I realize that I can’t be myself. I need an alias. Everyone has an alias on this site: Captain Vino, Professor Plonk, Rocking Rod, Porn King, even the origami queen…. EVERYONE. Now I need one. Where the heck do I get one of these? Do I pick a name that identifies a funny behavior of mine? A physical characteristic? A smokescreen to completely throw everyone off my scent?!? Who knows?

For those of you keeping score – There's now 3 problems: No skills, no ideas AND no alias.

Wait a minute…I DO have something…I have an online gaming alias known as “Skeeter” - Shortened from Skeeter Willis. It was a name that a friend of mine came up with back in our university days – not necessarily for me. It was a trend of nicknames that he would call anybody that he spoke to – nicknames that included: Earl, Elmo, Skeeter Willis, Buttwad, Viking Stud, and some others that I’ve forgotten. He was either too lazy to remember everyone’s actual names or he thought he was just being funny. Either way, the “Skeeter” name has always stuck in my brain – so I started using it for Internet gaming to ensure my anonymity. That works. I suppose it will work here as well.

I shall, from this point forward, be known as Skeeter!!!

One problem down, two to go.... but wait.... wait....

LOOK UP! I've written something that resembles a blog article - arguably about nothing, but an article none-the-less. Sweet.

Well, two out of three ain't bad. Let me try this again...

Hello. My name is Skeeter, and I’m a guest writer.

No problem.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A rite of passage

I've graduated to a new stage in life.

I don't know how I've missed it up until now. It's sticking pretty far out my left nostril. Perhaps three millimetres or more. I don't know if it was growing unseen - sort of curled up inside the nostril and now suddenly it has sprung out - or what, but I shall have to find some wee scissors and trim it. At first I thought it was an errant severed moustache hair that slipped up my nose somehow but when I tried to pull it out it tickled something awful and would not come loose.

Well - I'm off to find some wee scissors. I got my first hair. I'm a man now.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Grotto-of-Cool Party Diary

Sunday August 6th

Steve drafts the electronic invitations to be emailed out:

Come celebrate the Grand opening of the GROTTO OF COOL. Hosting this evening will be raucous Rich and the Amazing Stephen!

Got big plans already? Can't get a babysitter? No worries! Advance polls open all afternoon of the 19th. Rich will be home all day drinking iced coffees and crafting the finest hors'd'oerves from Steve's Jamie Oliver cookbooks. So come by. Bring the kids. We'll plug an onion!

Park in back of the building, or on the street. There's usually plenty of parking.

Deep Fried Mars Bars not provided.

House rules:
1) There's no talking about The Grotto of Cool
2) There's no talking about The Grotto of Cool
3) Don't spill shit on Rich's rug
4) The toilets are flush-challenged, and may require your assistance
5) Smoking permitted on the patio
6) Any potted plants found on the patio double as urinals
7) If the neighbours ask, you're with unit # 8
8) The David Hasselhoff impersonator will arrive at 9:00 sharp. Well, actually an impersonator was too expensive, so we invited the Hoff himself
9) Friends are welcome
10) Drink responsibly and plan a ride home if you're going to be boozing.

Sunday August 13th

One week ‘til the big house swarming bash. The TO-DO list reads:

Sunday: organize bedroom; install LR & DR blinds; hang remaining artwork

Monday: unpack & organize remaining books

Tuesday: get haircut; unpack all remaining boxes

Wednesday: purge unwanted books and belongings (Goodwill?); break down and recycle boxes; plan party menu; make ice

Thursday: buy beer & booze; clean windows, mirrors, glass tables, etc; clean bathrooms; make ice

Friday: duck work at 3; get big painting from Plonk & Vino’s; hang big painting; dust; vacuum; email map & directions to all YES and MAYBE guests; make ice; time permitting: organize den

Saturday: buy groceries; set up bar; prep food

No problem.

Friday August 18th

Ducked work at 2:55. Made the Etobicoke-Aldershot trip in just under an hour, loaded the painting into the banana boat. Enjoyed a Guinness with Cap’n Vino. Went home. Hung the painting over the couch.

Neighbors Yvonne and Suzanne from units 4 and 8 drop in since our back door is wide open, allowing a nice breeze to blow through. They help themselves to a tour, seeing what we’ve done with the place. They ooh and ahh over the living room.

“This place is way too nice for a couple of guys, don’t you think?” says Yvonne. Suzanne agrees.

“Well, Steve took a lot of interior decorating courses,” I say loudly, ensuring that Steve can hear me from the kitchen. “Back when he lived in San Francisco.”

They nod politely and leave.

Later Steve cooks up a pair of delicious hamburgers. We have a couple beers and kick back in the living room.

“Let’s plan the menu,” I say. Steve’s game. I play secretary. The resulting list has all the usual suspects: pumpernickel with spinach dip; Samosas; Nacho dip; bacon roll-ups; crab dip; meatballs; cold cuts; shrimp; cheese and crackers; veggie tray; oysters; pate…

“Hey, let’s go get the groceries tonight,” he suggests. I pull my revised up-to-date TO-DO list out of my shirt pocket. It reads:

Friday: unpack all remaining boxes; purge unwanted books and belongings (Goodwill?); break down and recycle boxes; plan party menu; organize bedroom; buy beer & booze; clean windows, mirrors, glass tables, etc; clean bathrooms; dust; vacuum; email map & directions to all YES and MAYBE guests; make ice; time permitting: organize den

“Um. What time is it?”

“Eight thirty,” says Steve. “If we leave now we can stop at the beer and liquor stores. Sobeys is open 24-hours.”

I take another dubious look at my to-do list. “Um. Okay.”

We pile 4 cases of beer empties into the trunk of the Mustang and fly.

At the liquor store I snatch 7 bottles of wine, 2 bottles of rum, 2 vodka and 1 Triple Sec. Steve has his own agenda.

We get to the beer store five minutes before closing and park in the middle of the empty lot. I start to open the passenger door but immediately close it again. Some woman is about to pull into the spot right next to ours. We’re surrounded by a sea of empty parking spots but this pea-brained bozo insists on parking immediately next to us. I wait patiently for her to settle her car into place then I jump out and take two steps toward the beer store before stopping and turning around. Steve is just opening the trunk.

“Aren’t you going to help?” he asks. But he’s already smiling. He knows exactly what I’m doing. By standing where I am I’m blocking Miss Peabrains from opening her door to get out.

“Oh. Yeah. Sure.” I take my time sauntering over in slow motion.

We leave with a 28 pack of Blue and twelves of Steam Whistle, Brahma and Alexander Kieths I.P.A. None of that omnipresent buck-a-beer vat-crap for us. Laker or whatever. I’d rather lick bird shit off a Cadillac than drink that swill. I'm not kidding. It's absolutely disgusting - that stuff.

At the Sobeys we grab a cart and start at the produce section. I pass on the fresh mint. It’s all spotty. I pick up a bag of organic pre-cut packaged carrots. They call those things baby carrots but I assure you that's untrue. They’re just big carrots cut up and whittled down.

“Real carrots or crazy carrots?” I ask.

“Crazy carrots. The less cutting we have to do, the better.” We move on. “Celery!”


“Red and green peppers!”


“Old goat testicles!”

I check off radishes.

“Shrooms. Wee tomatoes.”

“Check, check.” We scoop a variety of fresh fruits for Steve-o’s sangria and his Orange-You-Glad-I’m-Not-A-Banana Rum Punch, then we drift into the bakery section. “We need punkernipple and buns for the cold cuts.” Hmm. We look around.

“I don’t see any punkernipples.”

“Nor any buns for cold cuts.”

“Norwegian Blue?”

“Venezuelan Beaver cheese?”

All the shelves of the bakery section are in fact entirely empty. We find a rolling bargain rack laden with assorted bread-like drudgeries.

“This stuff blows,” says Steve. “Let’s get the bread tomorrow.”

“Agreed. And the mint.”

“What mint?”

“For mojitos.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Next stop - the deli. We go nuts on meats and cheeses.

Frozen section. We snap up a few boxes of frozen jalapino poppers and cheese sticks as contingency - in case we run out of the other stuff. Then we inspect the frozen meatballs. There are two varieties. Same brand.

"Italian or Swedish meatballs?" Steve asks.

"I dunno. Whatever's better for a sweet sauce. I'm thinkin' teriyake."

"Teriyake sounds good." He holds a box of each - Italian and Swedish. He shrugs.

"Read the ingredients."

"Beef, water, mono-something-or-other, gluco-something-or-other, artificial flavor, random carcinogens, onion, garlic. That's the Italian."

"And the Swedish?"

"Beef, water, mono-something-or-other, gluco-something-or-other, artificial flavor, random carcinogens, onion, garlic."

"What the fuck's the difference?"

"I dunno, man. I guess one has Italian garlic and one has Swedish garlic."

"Hmm. Take the Swedish garlic. The Swedes were less annoying during the World Cup."

"Good point."

We're off and running now, building momentum. Two bricks of cream cheese. Three tubs of sour cream, a package of mock crab, a pack of Pillars pepperettes. Mmm. I loves those things. The cart is filling up fast. Cases of pop. Frozen and bottled juices, a couple shrimp rings. I'm getting hungry just looking at all this stuff.

"Let's make our own cocktail sauce," I say.

"For sure."

"Horseradish and ketchup."

"I got extra spicy ketchup at home."

"I'll get some regular ketchup then."

"Okay," says Steve, "If you want everyone to know you're a pussy and you can't handle the spicy stuff."

"Um. Okay then."

Onion soup mix, frozen spinach, teriyake marinade, assorted crackers, garlic-stuffed olives, feta-stuffed hot peppers. The list goes on and on. We've got a serious heaping effect growing out of this shopping cart. I'm getting seriously hungry.

"Where the hell's the horseradish?"

"I dunno. Every grocery store keeps it somewhere different. It's the bane of every grocery shopper."

We split up to go looking for the elusive horseradish. Alone at last I rip into the pepperettes and mow down. We wander all over the store catching glimpses of each other and trading shrugs. I finally discover the horseradish hiding among the eggs in an isolated eggs-and-horseradish end-cap section. Very creative, you Sobey folks. Bravo.

We meet up at the checkout. The cashier is young and cute. She raises her eyebrows at the state of our cart. She looks mildly alarmed.

"I'll warn you - it's my first week on the job," she says. Steve shifts into prowling gear on instinct. He saunters down to the debit machine area and chats her up while I load up the belt.

"Keep an eye on the total," I say. "Make sure we don't go over ten dollars!" They laugh. Steve-o nods as he laughs - very sauve-like. I try to stay organized. Frozen stuff, then chilled, then cans and bottles. I save the produce for last. Everything goes on with the barcode facing the cashier. "Oops!" I hear her say.

"Hey Rich," says Steve. "You lost a couple sausages!" I turn to look. The girl has two of my pepperettes in her hand.

"The bag was open," she says. "These ones fell out. Should I throw them away or put them back in the package?"

"Where did they land?"

"Right here on the scanner."

"Oh. Uh. What else has been on the scanner?"

"Pretty much everything in the store, I guess."

"Oh. That's fine. Put them back in the package." She does.

"Sorry about that," says Steve. "Nothing gets in the way of my friend here when he's hungry. It was either that or he'd have eaten some of your customers." They laugh. Steve grins wolfishly. His teeth sparkle.

The total is $275. I offer to pay by debit. While I wrestle with the debit machine the youngsters continue their oral exchange.

"So, um - do you guys live together?" There's something unmistakable in the tone of her voice. She thinks we're a couple. Steve detects it too of course. He panics just a bit. Slips out of cool mode.

"Well - we work together so - we thought we should move in together."

This strikes me as absolutely absurd. And Steve knows at once that he's blown it.

I want to immediately add: 'Yeah, because - you know - we couldn't get enough of each other!' But this strikes me as so uproariously funny that I can't get the words out. I'm literally laughing so hard at my own joke that I can't say the joke. I'm utterly incapacitated. Steve's right there with me. We're both laughing so hard we're crying. I'm trying to put my debit card back in my wallet but I can barely see it through the tears. We finally squeeze the last of the shopping bags onto the cart and we stumble out the door and into the parking lot and we're still doubled over in fits of giggles. People are staring at us. They clearly think we're on drugs.

Oh well. We had a good time.

More on the party later.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Black & White

I'd never been to the Laundromat on a Sunday before. I'd assumed it would be too busy for comfort on the weekends. I can be just a little bit agoraphobic at times. Since I go neither to bars or laundromats for the purpose of meeting chicks, I prefer these environments quiet.

To my surprise there was only one car parked out front as I arrived. It was a very nice car. Ritzy. The kind that bears a hood ornament resembling the United Nations emblem. It was clean and shiny and obviously well maintained. Naturally I wondered how anyone with the means to afford such a car would be unable to finance their own laundry machines at home.

Sure enough, there was only one other customer in the laundromat when I entered. I would have said 'Hi' to him but he never looked up as I passed by.

I coined up the machines, whipped out my last two 'Gain' brand free-sampler laundry detergent pouches and realized I'd forgotten to bring an exacto knife. Fortunately a thorough trouser pocket search produced a pair of nail clippers and that did the trick.

My clothes a-swishin' I made my way back to the truck to enjoy my traditional laundry-day burrito dinner courtesy of 7-11. I should note that this may mark the end of said tradition with Steve-o and I aggressively shopping for a washer and dryer of our own. Furthermore, the new de-tubberization project may warrant that burritos be placed on the prohibited (stupid) food list. We'll have to see how that goes.

My gaze was again drawn to the fancy car and I noticed a bible sitting on the dashboard and I noticed the personalized license plates. Here's what they read. I promise you - no joke:





So much for 'I LV LUCY' and 'POO LVR' ranking in the highest tier of license plate intrigue. This one takes the cake.

Now if this gentleman (and he is black) or his kin have endured some motoring incident involving undue attention from the police and this is a preventative and/or retaliatory measure - then I applaud the strategy - or statement as the case may be. Bravo.

There's a MacDonald's in this parking lot which of course draws an army of seagulls. One of them is standing ten feet from the truck - on the driver's side - looking at me. As 800 grams of burrito is 200 grams too much, I've got some grams to spare. I rip off a morsel of flat bread, roll it into a ball and toss it at the bird. He very deftly catches it on the first bounce and then starts "sqwonking" like a bloody maniac - non-stop until the entire tribe of seagulls comes coasting on to the scene. Dozens of them. It's a blitzkrieg. Scenes from Hitchcock's The Birds come to mind.

There's plenty of extraneous bread so I rip off a few more pieces, roll them into pellets and fire them into the gallery.


The squonker pitches a fit. He's easy to discern from the rest of the crowd. He's very wide and bright white and seems to be wearing orange lipstick. Every poor bird that stands closest to any given offering gets utterly mauled by the charging squonker who drives his victim aside and either wins the morsel or at least comes up with a beakful of feathers.

Why the heck did he go out of his way to throw the party if he didn't want to share the food? Good grief! He's like the Orangeville Northmen lacrosse team playing a home game. It's not enough to out-perform the opposition. It's vital that they rub their noses in it and do some serious harm while they're at it. They're compelled to add injury to insult. Damn psycho bird. With all these stressed out gulls everywhere I worry that my actions may bring about a few splatterings on the truck - or on the shiny luxury car that is black-owned and not stolen.

I could imagine the face of my fellow laundry-doer coming out to find his pride and joy all spot spangled.

'Sorry about your car, man,' I might say to him as I pass by on my way to load up my dryers. 'Listen - I saw the whole thing. It was those seagulls over there - the white ones.'

'Gosh!' I'd add. 'You don't suppose they can read, do you?'


Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Ficus in the Bathroom

After our writer's group meeting I entered the men's room and discovered a ficus standing there beside the toilet.

'Hmm," I said aloud. "There's a ficus in the bathroom."

And thus this poem (for better or worse) was born.

A Ficus in the Bathroom

There's a Ficus in the bathroom
There is butter on my bread
There's a hound dog in the bedroom
There are voices in my head

There are kittens in the hallway
On a carpet gold and red
There's a moose head on the wall
And he's well and truly dead

There's a Ficus in the bathroom
And the hound dog’s on the bed
There's a kitten in the bedroom
Where the others fear to tread

There's a Ficus in the bathroom
And my mind is filled with dread
There's a rifle in the basement
Say the voices in my head

Now the kitten's on the pillow
And the hound dog's on the spread
There's a Ficus in the bathroom
So I use the sink instead

There is honey on my butter
There's a shotgun in the shed
There's a Ficus in the bathroom
There's a fracas on the bed

Now the cat wails like a banshee
And the hound dog's seeing red
And the fur is just a flying
Round the mounted moose's head

There's a Ficus in the bathroom
There is thunder in my head
There's meowing in the kitchen
Where the kittens all have fled

There's a cat up on the counter
And he's nibbling on my bread
There's a Ficus in the bathroom
But I've pumped it full of lead


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The state of all things

The state of the blog

Okay - life has been chaotic of late. The move to Streetsville. The car going ka-putz. Dear old Blue - the miracle dog - almost going ka-putz. Been playing lacrosse in two different leagues this summer. Too much. Too few moments of calm with which to put coherent editorials together.

I've been feeling a little guilty over the neglect of el-bloggo. One or two posts a week doesn't really cut it. I think a blog should ideally be updated daily, don't you?

I'm thinking I should post shorter blurbs but more frequently - and maybe not be so fussy. Generally for every two to three entries I post, I leave one unpublished, judging it too boring.

I realize I've left some stories hanging - thus the nature of this entry - a hodgepodge of updates.

Perhaps I'm starting to take this thing just a tad seriously thanks to the new counter I just installed a month ago. I'm surprised to learn I'm actually getting a few hits now and then. Whether that's just Captain Vino peaking in three times a day or just a steady patrol of search-engine robots, I don't know.




Actually I'm thinking about inviting a guest writer or two to join the roster and thus provide a little more volume and variety. We'll see how that goes.
I'd certainly have gone to Captain Vino with an offer but he's got his own forum:

Freak Magnet Dave

The state of dear old Blue, miracle dog

She has now turned 14. She also had her bandage removed finally and the procedure - thus far - appears to have been successful. She lives on - and seems happy.

The state of Fantasy Writer Guy

FWG is much too tubby. And it's time to do something about it. Or we're not going to live long enough to finish this confounded fantasy adventure trilogy. The 6-step plan:

1. Find the scale that has mysteriously failed to appear through the entire post-move unpacking process.
2. Join a gym
3. Go to godforsaken gym every other day whether we likes it or not.
4. No more dessert.
5. No more outrageously stupid food - like french-fries.
6. Publish results on the blog including any and all cheating. Perhaps fear of public embarrassment will prove motivation where other sources have failed.

The state of my xiphisternum

I never did get my tests done to ensure this lump in my chest is just a harmless lipoma and not something dire. I really should get around to that. Got to find a Streetsville physician.

The state of the eye-clicking

I once promised to conduct a research survey to determine the prevalence of eye-clickers. The results are long overdue. Here they are:

50% of all surveyed reported that they frequently experience a clicking sensation when rubbing their tired eyes.

Number of persons surveyed: 2

Fantasy Writer Guy's surveys are accurate within 2.0% one time in fifty.

The state of the banana boat

Gee willikers. I finally got the plates today. Over a week ago I'd gone to the MTO office with my bill of sale, my safety certificate, the signed permit, my old plates, the plate permit, the transfer portion of the used vehicle information package and a rhino-choking wad of cash. But I was turned away. Be warned. All this is not enough. You also need an emissions certificate.

So - I went to the Canadian Tire Service Centre on Tuesday and abandoned the boat to them for a half-hour. I scoured the nearby Goodwill store (landing seven decent novels and a VHS copy of Ferris Bueller's Day Off - all for just over ten bucks), then returned to pick up the boat and my emissions certificate for a cool $38. I passed but barely. The Customer Service Guy was very careful to point out that my parts per 'm' of 'HC' was 52 and the limit is 52 - one for every card in the deck. No Jokers aloud. I suspect 'm' stands for 'thousand'. I dunno about the 'HC'. Helpings of Crap perhaps? He was actually a little snotty about it - which got my back up. Never mind that this was only the ASM2525 reading and that at 'curb idle' I only had 27 helpings of crap under a limit of 150! Now that is some passing with flying colours right there! That's an 82% crap-helping cushion right there - but did I receive any accolades for that? No. Of course not.

"Perfect!" I told the CSR man. "That's the way I like it. I like to live on the edge!"

Okay - that's a lie. What I really said was "Perfect. That's the way I like it. Can I pay my bill now and go get on with my life?"

I realize that wasn't very polite of me but he was impolite first and more importantly - in the grand scheme of things I was more polite than the average Canadian Tire Auto Service customer. The average customer has something like this to say:

"What? Are you kidding me? Holy shit - that much? Are you crazy? You're ruining me! You're driving me to financial ruin! Why don't you just bleed my wrists! Jesus Christ!"

So there you go. I was a walk-in-the-park by comparison.

Also in the 'What - Are you kidding me' department is another tidbit of wonderment from this whole automobile transition adventure:

I tacked $6600 onto the $9000 purchase price when applying for the loan - in order to cover the provincial sales tax and to consolidate another debt. The Bank of Montreal - with whom I've enjoyed a long borrowing history (since I was 18) - mortgage, credit card, line-of-credit, car loans and credit reserves - all paid in full without incident or delay - turned down the application. I was surprised but not shocked. I brought mom into the picture as co-signer. She has over a million dollars in assets. They turned her down! At that I was plenty shocked. So we went to the Meridian Credit Union with the exact same application. They didn't know me from Adam. No history with them. They asked me why I was offering a co-signer. I didn't need one, they said. They gave me the loan straight up.

They gave me a nice comfy chair, free coffee, plenty of smiles and nice fat cheque. What a marvelous experience! A thousand middle-fingers to you, Bank of Montreal!

The state of the town-slogan project

Two new additions to the town-slogan project. The first was submitted by Porn King:

Welcome to St. Catharines: When you need a little Viagra!

It's only fair, I suppose - to point out that St. Catharines already has a slogan on their welcome signs. It is this: St. Catharines - When you need a little Niagara!

Which brings us to addition number two: Welcome to Niagara Falls: When St. Catharines just won't do!

Send in your town slogan proposals! We're compiling a database!

The state of dear old Grimace, purple blob guy

Remember Grimace - Ronald MacDonald's old purple friend with the dopey crack-head eyes? If you're like me you've been wondering what he's been up to all these years. Well - apparently he's just hanging out at burger joints, molesting small children. He just doesn't make the headlines anymore.

You know I've always been bitter towards Ronnie and his new crowd for abandoning Grimace and the old McGang. Hamburgler, Mayor MacCheese, Sheriff Big Mac and the Fry Guys. He just cut them loose without any career transition plan or even good references. He brought in that insipid bird-lady and her politically-correct friends with their healthy body types and their coherent English and their calculated personalities. To hell with them, I say. They've got no souls.

I love you Grimace! It's not your fault you're a freak!