Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do It Yerself Project #1

That’s right. It’s handyman time. Something useful for a change. Perhaps Roger will correct me if I go astray somewhere here. Because Red Green surely does not read this blog.

So - you know the problem. It happens all the time. You’re looking after your ex’s house for a couple weeks and someone sexy calls you up and says, “Hey, you wanted to cook me dinner some time while you’re in town? Well, I’m free tonight. We’ll have drinks in the hot tub after and you can smoke that fancy cigar!”

Which sounds great, of course, but there’s that problem with the hot tub. It developed a very slow leak and the vendor hasn’t yet come around to replace the offending hose. The water level has slipped about five inches low over the last couple days and time is running short. If you go to the standard solution - the hose through the basement window - the temperature might cool down too much to be fully reheated in time for after-dinner drinks.

The problem, of course, is that the basement tap only delivers cold water.

The solution: The kitchen tap can deliver hot water! You just have to find a way to transport it to the hot tub.

Here’s what you’ll need:

- Kitchen sink

- Garden hose. Put one end into the hot tub. Run the other end under the kitchen door and to the sink.

- Plastic milk jug. This will act as a funnel. Preferably Mac`s Milk 2%. I can`t tell you why except to say - I used Mac’s 2% and it worked for me. Wash it thoroughly. We don’t want any stale milk in the tub.

- Duct tape. This goes without saying. All home projects north of the 49th parallel require duct tape.

- Scissors. This is for cutting a hole in the bottom of the jug so that, inverted, you can insert the faucet. Let an adult do the cutting for you. Scissors are dangerous. And don`t run with them or stick them in your eye. Not even for a good reason, like shits and giggles.

- Two pots filled with hot water. This is for stability. Or for transporting water to the hot tub if this bloody contraption doesn`t work. Also, if you exceed the water heater`s capacity you can use the pots to boil water instead. And if neither contingency is required, why not cook some hot dogs? All this work will tax your stamina. You’ll need to replenish vital nutrients and energy. I suggest Jumbo hot dogs, of course.

- Pig`s ear. This is to keep the dog distracted so he’s not under your feet constantly and getting hot water spilled on him. Or - if you overcook and ruin the hot dogs, it’s for you. Eat carefully. They’re very very crunchy.

Tip #1: Do not turn your back on the project while the tub is filling. Many things could go wrong and you don’t want a flooded kitchen.

Tip #2: Upon completion, roll up the hose and store it where it will not freeze.

That’s it. Our tub refilling process is complete and the temperature only dropped from 103 degrees Fahrenheit to 102. Success! Sad, isn’t it, the lengths a man will go to just to get someone out of their pants. Shocking really.

Be sure to join us next week when we’ll show you how to rescue your hors d’oeuvre party by crafting makeshift samosa dip from HP sauce and Coca Cola.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


In the last 36 hours I have shared love passionately, laboured very hard, conversed with former Hab, Howie Morenz Junior (son of the more famous Howie Sr.), composed a delightful little song, taken a happy dog for a long walk, had coffee with two beautiful people and sipped an excellent scotch.

It was in passing my neighbor's apartment as I lugged furniture and belongings to the truck, and seeing the bamboo plant I'd just given away to her sitting front and centre in her window, bathed in rare January sunlight, that put an immense smile on my face.

Until now that plant was regarded as a one-off dinner party centerpiece that had happened to not yet die and so was given water regularly. Now it is cherished.

Hours later I'm still smiling.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Revenge of the Morons

Steve-o and I have been in a dispute with the landlord for two years over the living room window wich leaks a ghastly draft and drives our heating bills into the stratosphere. They continually fail to meet their endless promises and flat-out rejected any disussion over their liability for our elevated utility cost.

So at the end of December we gave notice that we were leaving as of January 31st and yes, that's only 30 days notice but too bad. The situation can not be tolerated for another 60 days and no further rent cheques are forthcoming because the last month's rent deposit is already in their possession.

They responded with an eviction notice stating that January's rent must be recieved by January 28th or eviction proceedings would begin.

For their sake, I hope that eviction proceedings take less than three days or else we'll already be gone.

In other words, they've said, "What! You want to leave! Well, no way! Under no circumstances are you allowed to leave of your own volition. You can only leave if we tell you to leave! And we are telling you to leave! So leave! Um... unless you want to stay. In which case, you may stay."

I have no intention of responding to them - except perhaps to suggest they take their act to the Monty Python people.

Friday, January 16, 2009

FWG is a movie whore

Been spending an inordinate amount of time at the cinemas lately. According to this opinionated storyteller, here’s the skinny:

Quarantine (Warning! Spoilers below!)

The Good: Nothing. Oh - except that I got to watch it with the I.S. Oh - and that it wasn`t too scary for me to handle.

The Bad: In fact, it was so not scary that I didn`t get to hold the I.S.`s hand during scary parts (as was negotiated when I was dragged out to see it) - because there weren`t any.

The Ugly: As in Cloverfield and Blair Witch Project, the use of a character`s video camera as narrator rather than prop, it allows this oh-so-very adorably clever (and already over-done) plot element: Every character dies. Luckily they were all so lame we won’t miss any of them.

Quantum of Solace

The Good: If you like action sequences, they’re intense, omnipresent, often plausible and blessedly free of noticeable CG cartoonism. Doctor Lock calls this film “A better Hulk movie than The Hulk.” Daniel Craig remains a more modern and believable Bond than his predecessors and much less a misogynist pig.

The Bad: This latest Bond also severely lacks the charm and humour of the originals. In short, the patented Bond character is missing, perhaps to return some day, perhaps not. In short, I don’t know what sets Bond movies apart from other action movies any more.

The Ugly: This latest Bond villain was so tame I’ve already forgotten his name and his face. I think maybe his name was Bob and he was an insurance salesman who liked to step on innocent ants or something. Where, oh where is Dr. No when you need him?

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Good: The emotionless automaton-like alien is perfectly portrayed by Keanu Reeves who blessedly possesses no acting range or emotional capacity which might otherwise get in the way.

The Bad: Where to start? Such compelling scope to the theme and material but they never get around to doing anything with it but the shallowest possible exploration required for a cheesy action flick. The characters have no voices but merely bumble around servicing the plot. B-movie all the way.
The Ugly: Writers of any kind have an unfortunate habit of falling on their face when they try to write dialogue for characters who are supposedly more intelligent than the writer himself. Here we have super-advanced, well-researched aliens and a Nobel Prize winner trying to discuss the essences of humanity but choking out only the most foolish of clichés.

Yes Man

The Good: I laughed out loud on a couple occasions. If that’s the only objective of a comedy film - kudos.

The Bad: The plot was so thin I’m not sure it had one. But that’s okay because it made me laugh.

The Ugly: The fact that I showed up at the wrong cinema by mistake, where my film of choice was not playing, and I was so lazy I just watched this muck instead. Which is okay because it made me laugh.

Seven Pounds

The Good: Vibrant characters who behave legitimately and useful themes; primarily the gap between kindness and self-interest.

The Bad: I kept guessing what the surprises would be only to discover - there weren’t any.

The Ugly: My pal’s comment that Will Smith is type-cast because he always plays a black guy.


The Good: A very well-crafted story given the challenge of adding historical responsibility to the long list of conflicting priorities that hamper every attempt to create a compelling story and inevitably provide us critics with something petty to snark about. Which makes movie critic about the easiest job in the world.

The Bad: There were details here that I had no previous idea about. This may very well speak poorly of my attention to history class rather than Hollywood’s integrity.

The Ugly: That many will miss out on a great movie because they’ve got a thing about their perception of who Tom Cruise is. In fact, his acting performance was good enough that I forgot he was Tom Cruise. I fell right into this story; found it very compelling.

So if you’re wondering what to do with your Cineplex Odeon Christmas gift certificates - my recommendation is Valkyrie. Or else hold out for Star Trek Origins. That’s my plan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

$526 for a limp rocket

Went to see the IMAX film Roving Mars. Me and five friends. Spent the night prior at Peter Pan's house.

"Don't stay up too late," I said. "We have to leave by 11:30 tomorrow."

"Don't worry about me," he said.

I went to bed knowing it would take a miracle to get us away on time. Pan's late for everything. Always.

At 11:00 AM, still in pyjamas, he asks, "What time do we have to leave?"

I cut him some slack and tell him the truth. "11:45." Now, this is not in accordance with standard Pan handling procedures. You're supposed to pad the departure time by an hour until the day of the event and then by a half-hour the day of. I`m giving him way too much credit.

At 11:30 he asks how much time he's got. I tell him, fifteen minutes, and he takes Zee, Prince of Canine Chaos, for a short walk.

He returns at 12:00. I remain calm. Life is circumstance and choices. My choices enabled this circumstance to arise. I know how he is.

We get a little bad weather on the way, and a little traffic, and arrive late in Little Italy where we are picking up the Worldly Sculptor, who's greatest phobia in life, it turns out, is the fear of being late.

As the organizer of this outing, I wish not to screw things up for the others who are meeting us at the Ontario Science Centre where I must be present to receive the tickets that I ordered on everyone`s behalf. But I'm perfectly calm. It's pointless to stress over it. Circumstances and choices. One choice at my disposal, is to take my lumps if we're late and to avoid such circumstance in the future by declining Pan`s participation in similar - time sensitive - outings.

"We're meeting the boys at 1:45," I say calmly and pleasantly. "You`ll get us there on time, Pan, or else you`ll be thrown into a pit of starving wolves."

We arrive roughly 1:58 and scramble into the theatre during the trailers. Being late, we`re seated at the perimeter.

Now - I`d never seen an IMAX film before. Or should I say - CMAX. Because the screen is dome shaped, looming over and around you, and when you`re seated at the perimeter, the perspective is altogether wonky. Things that should be straight up and down - like a rocket, or the letter 'I' for instance, are shaped instead, like the letter 'C'. The whole film was warped to shit. Didn`t enjoy that one bit. Luckily it was no great loss for me. Turns out I`d seen this film previously on my home screen sans CMAX effect.

Everyone else seemed to get a kick out of it though, and took the flaccid rockets in stride.

The Facing Mars exhibit also failed to impress. It was more for kids or for adults who don`t normally take a big interest in planetary science. Given my passion for the subject, it was silly perhaps to have expected to see something new here.

Although I did get a kick out of the martian meteorite sample and the video clips of various experts talking on the subject of sending people to Mars. I listened to a Planetary Scientist, an Aerospace Engineer and a Bioethicist. The last offering was from a Globe and Mail Writer. I walked away at that point.

The bill was $26 each for the total Mars experience - but wait - there`s more. Dinner at the Biermarket cost Pan another hundred. He insisted on it being a birthday present.

And then, on the way back to Hamilton, despite my assurance that the wolf threat had expired, he took the highway too swiftly given the snowy weather, and lost control; went into a spin. Oddly, I felt no panic at all. We bounced off a snowbank and came to rest, backwards on the shoulder.

The bumper was dented and cracked. A pricey affair but Pan is a champion at getting deals and swears it`ll only cost him $400.


Back in Steeltown, on the heels of five beers, I trudged eight or ten blocks through heavy snowfall to see the I.S. A mickey of scotch seemed to evaporate and then the wine came out. I never noticed how drunk I was. The I.S. did though, upon driving me back to Pan`s at five in the morning and putting up with me when I cried like a baby and wouldn`t let go the embrace.

Late afternoon, my head still splitting, I`m awakened by the phone call. I apologize for my poor behavior and am told there is nothing to apologize for. I`m told we`re all allowed our moments. We all have to have them now and then, and that, hey, with my move to Hamilton soon, we`ll see plenty of each other. So cheer up.

I guess I'm spoiled. Every now and then I want too much. I have to remember how very thankful I am for what I've got.

Monday, January 12, 2009

FWG's nugget o' wisdom #442

Unless you can produce step-by-step instructions that explain how one can fly to Pluto, how to become a six-shooter-toting wild west sheriff, and how to bang Judy Garland, all you little motivational speakers should maybe drop this shtick about following your childhood dreams and start thinking about some advice that`s actually useful; something relevant perhaps. Just a thought.

This has been an original nugget o' wisdom from the brain of Fantasy Writer Guy. Do not use nuggets o' wisdom without advice from a trained psychic or Gypsy. Do not exceed four nuggets in any 24-hour period. Do not ingest orally. If you begin screeching like a chimpanzee, dancing the moonwalk or wearing a single white glove, cease use immediately. Do not operate a Hadron Collider Particle Accelerator or VCR while under the influence of nuggets o`wisdom.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Attack of the reverse stalker

So I'm at the Williams Coffee Pub actually doing some productive writing for a change and I notice a woman who, if I'm not mistaken, is an independent movie director who I was introduced to once a long time ago. She's there with a fellow and a couple laptops.

When she disappears to go buy a latte, make a call or tinkle or whatever, I approach the fellow and ask if his coffee mate is who I think it is. He confirms and is keen to chat. He's an actor and comedian and the two of them are writing a script together. He's a prolific chatter and tells me all about the acting and comedy industry, even after Director Lady returns and I try to indicate I should get back to work and let them do likewise.

As I have told him about the Jammin' On The One improv comedy group in Toronto which I have attended and plan to continue to do so, he wants to know more. He asks if I'm on Facebook.


He writes out his name and tells me to look him up on Facebook.


So after a bit of a battle I finally locate him. He spelled his first name "Richard" when on Facebook it's actually "Rich". Okay. Forgiven.

He accepts my friend-request the next day.

The day after that, I look up the Jammin' On The One facebook group and try to send an invite for him to join. After a long battle I discover why I can not make this work.

He has vanished. He is no longer my friend and he is no longer visible to me when I search for Rich McManiac-Comedian*

Apparently he had a change of heart and blocked me from seeing him on Facebook. He's treating me like some kind of stalker when he's the one who initiated everything.

Let me be clear. My feelings are not in any way the slightest bit hurt. I'm almost entirely immune from caring what others think of me; good, bad or otherwise. Every living person on earth is cordially invited to not want to be my facebook friend. Block me to your hearts content!


Don't talk my ear off, request that I go to the trouble of looking you up on facebook and gathering info to send to you, so that you can peek at my profile, decide I'm not elite enough for your social-climbing purposes and then sever our connection without notice, leaving me to waste more time trying to fulfill your request in vain.

My time is worth more to me than gold, you thief. Don't steal from me. By stealing from me you reap the consequences of your actions. Your consequence? You now are forced to choose between career and family. You can't have both. Because if your career ever ignites, and you're doing stage shows - I'll be there. And I'll be wearing my steel-toe work boots. And I'll be jumping on stage with you and kicking you in the balls - which will probably be the funniest part of your show. Thus career blossoms; and children - not possible.


* McManiac-Comedian not actual name.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Who can hear the chalk?

I parked the truck, hopped out, and there on the sidewalk a message was scrawled in chalk; the words, “DON’T BE A” and then a simple drawing of a fluffy four-legged beast that could only be a sheep.

Looking up, there loomed a billboard hawking the latest crap that nobody needs.

Of these two messages, I suppose far more people will see the billboard. And for those who do, all will suffer in one way or another.

Far fewer people will notice the chalk message during its short life prior to being washed away by the elements.

Of those who see it, some will be permanently, if perhaps only slightly, changed by it. Some will be comforted by it. Some will be annoyed that hooligans have marred the beauty of this paradise of concrete, pavement and billboards with senseless graffiti. Some will be in too much a hurry to grasp its meaning and at least one will talk about it on his blog.

I hear the voices of dull conformity everywhere I turn in this society while the wise are rarely heard.

But do we deserve better? Aren’t we all enablers?

By our constant capitulation to the obvious unapologetic bullshit of all things political; to the wildly illogical lunacy of modern religious interpretation, to the useless meaningless tidbits of crap sold by the media in drag as information; and the vulgar vacuous doublespeak of corporations, we empower these structures and promote their continued slide into insanity.

While most of us are far too intelligent to fall prey to such ludicrousness, we do so anyway. We don’t take the time or effort or courage to question our role; our participation. We harbour our fears and just keep doing the same thing everyone else is doing and preaching the same empty counterfeit sound-bytes that everyone else is saying.

Mindless participation in joyless, asinine and illegitimate pursuits. It keeps the governments, churches and corporations thriving; keeps the big machine churning; keeps our lower-order instincts and our false fears agitated; keeps the rich rich and the powerful powerful and the deceived deceived.

And the sheep never learn that they are sheep.

Sorry chalk man. Sorry to let you down.