Friday, August 27

Important Musical Moment #2

So, perhaps I'll do this in some sort of chronological manner.

Important Musical Moment #2

London Calling, The Clash

I was deep and happy into my John Lennon and The Beatles obsession. He and they were all that. I was content playing my growing Beatles and John Lennon collection over and over again. Then one day I was over at a friend's house, Colin Kennefic, and he put on a new album he just got. It was London Calling. From the very first strum of the very first note, I was hooked. It was a moment so profound for me that I can still remember the feel of the Lazy-Boy Recliner in which I was sitting. The Beatles were great, but it was the music of my older brothers. This music, though, was speaking to me. London Calling, album and song, broke my punk cherry, and from there I dove head first into the back-catalog of 1976-1980's punk. I swam naked in the fury and anger of that music, and I gobbled up all the musical gobs that those artists spit at me.

Important Musical Moment #1

A couple of days ago, I came across a blog with a post about personal important musical milestones. I thought I'd begin a series of posts highlighting some of my important musical milestones.

So, here is Important Musical Moment #1

(Just Like) Starting Over, John Lennon

Before December 1980, I was not very 'into' music. At that time, I was 14, and listened to the radio a bit, but music didn't really affect me. When John Lennon was killed, I knew who he was and had a vague understanding of his importance. A few weeks later, when my mother (inexplicably) gave me his Double Fantasy album as an unsolicited present, I graciously accepted it, thinking I'd not play it very much. While there are some great songs on it, and I did play the album quite a bit, I consider this album, and this song as important, not for itself, but because it led me to my (still strong) infatuation with The Beatles. Almost immediately upon hearing Double Fantasy, (and despite the Yoko Ono songs) I knew that John Lennon was going to be an influential artist in my life. I quickly bought The Beatles 1960-1966, and The Beatles 1967-1970 and my life, in terms of 'musical appreciation' has not been the same since. Even though this song is not close to my favourite Lennon song (it may not even be top ten?), it is the one that I owe a debt of gratitude to, for introducing me properly to John Lennon, The Beatles and to Music.

Thursday, August 26

Greek God of Sugar: Diabetes

I really get bugged when I hear/see conclusions that are taken out of context, or that are useless to begin with.

For instance, the report that came out today or yesterday that links soft drinks to diabetes. Now, the easy headline is/will be "SODA KILLS" or some such thing. What has been failed to be noted, however, is the rather crazy basis on which these results are based:

The study shows that women who drank one or more sugary drinks a day had an 83 percent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes than women who drank less than one a month. The study shows that over a four-year period, weight gain was highest among women who increased their soda consumption from one or fewer drinks a week to one or more a day.

So, here is the comparison: those who drink one or more sugary drinks a day, compared to those who drink less than one a month. Is this a fair comparison? Doesn't that seem like a foregone-conclusion-waste-of-time comparison? Doesn't that sound like parameters that would pretty much guarantee a result like the one found?

It's like saying: Those who travel to New York City 36 times a year have a greater likelihood of being murdered in New York City than those who only travel to New York City once a year. Also, being victim to New York City muggings was highest amongst those who dramatically increased the number of New York City trips per year that they took.

Yet all we get is the pronouncement: Travelling to New York City linked to being murdered.

Conclusions are so easy.

Hot Saucing & Tea Bagging

Blair was on GMA, advocating 'hot saucing' as an effective means of disciplining children. I had never heard of the term, or the practice. It is the practice of putting a small amount of hot sauce on a child's tongue as a form of punishment or discipline.

Truth be told, when I read "hot saucing" in the headline, I clicked on the link because I thought it was a type of sexual activity, like tea bagging. I assumed that Lisa Welchel was caught hot saucing children. I was simultaneously glad and upset that it wasn't the case.

I am not a fan of corporal punishment as a means to control children. I assume I am lucky to be of that mind because we have a child who never needed anything stronger than verbal communication and the understanding of who was in charge in the household. If he was a hellian, perhaps my opinion would now be different.

In any event, the biggest detriment (besides all that psychological and physical torture stuff) is that it will cause hot-sauced children to dislike spicy foods.

I never liked Blair.

Wednesday, August 25

A Million Euros!!!

I was just informed, by email, that I won a million Euros in some draw that I wasn't even aware I had entered. How lucky are my stars!? It's called the Microsoft Lottery. Since it's from Microsoft, it's gotta be legit, so I'm pretty stoked right now.

According to the email, they've deposited my lump sum one million Euros in the lottery's paying out bank in the Netherlands. All I need to do is email a Mr. Harvey Kurt with information as to which of my bank accounts I'd like the money transferred to. His email address is:

Wait a second. Why would an employee of a Microsoft Lottery have a email address? Something's fishy here, but what it is, I'm not ---

Oh man, is this spam? Have I been duped?

Tuesday, August 24

Canada's Olympic Anathema

One good thing about Canada not winning many of the competitions in Athens is that we are not subjected to what I think is perhaps the worst rendition of O Canada I've ever heard. I heard it twice on Sunday, and both times I was sure it was being played live by a junior-high school band that had a couple of jack-ass students whose goal was to sabotage the song. It seems like it changes keys a couple of times, there are a couple of times when sounds and noises show up that just don't sound like they should be there.

Still, I hope we hear it a few more times this week.

Monday, August 23


I enjoy a good ad. And one that I've seen a few times now, and that I'm liking more and more each time, is for Stella Artois beer.

Starts with some WW1 troops arriving home to a small French village. A bruised, battered, injured young soldier is gregariously greeted by the community, especially his loving father, who owns a tavern. Along with the young man is another soldier, who appears to be a stranger to the town. Both look like they've been through a World War One hell.

All the dialogue is in French, so (unless one speaks French) one kind of pieces together what's going on. As they all triumphantly gather in the tavern, the young man tells the adventure of how this other soldier singlehandedly saved the young man. The other soldier appears to be a humble sort.

The father, overcome with emotion, demands a toast to the two soldiers, and pours them wine.

"No, papa," says (in French) the young man. "This deserves Stella Artois". (or to that affect) The father is ever-so-subtly, slightly taken aback, and with a barely-reluctant nod, agrees. It is apparent that the other soldier is greatly anticipating this drink.

The father pulls a draught of Stella Artois into a big glass and joyously hands it to his son. Everyone cheers. The father gives the other soldier a look and puts another glass under the tap. Pulls the handle and nothing but foam spurts out.

Apologizing, the father says they're all out of Stella Artois, and the other soldier looks lost.

Cut to under the bar, and we see the father take his foot off the hose that leads to the beer tap. He had deliberately stopped the flow of beer for the second glass.

As everyone, except the other soldier, excitedly continues on, the Stella Artois end-tag picture comes up.


I love this ad for a few reasons. First that it expects its audience to be able to understand what is going on, even though it's in French. They don't resort to subtitles.

Also, I appreciate the subversiveness, with the father purposefully denying the soldier a drink.

It trusts that the audience will pay attention enough to make the (slight) effort it takes to understand the concept.

Good ad.

Saturday, August 21

If I Had A Deutschmark For Every Corpse

I know, I know, another friggin' Sketch post. But, it's all I have right now.

So, last night's audience for Sketch 22 was our biggest yet. We had to stand back stage because they took our chairs to give to paying customers. I gotta say it feels real nice to be part of this show.

Yesterday, driving to the show, I was going over my lines. Specifically, the lines I speak at the end of the show. It's a monologue that is supposed to tie the show together somewhat, before we all burst into the big finale song number. I don't know if the monologue works, artistically, but it is what it is. The last couple of shows, the monologue was getting a bit rote.

So, as I was driving to the show, going over my lines to see if I could find different inflections in words or whatever, to freshen it up, I began to do them in a different voice. Those who have seen me do improv know the first 'different voice' I'll go to is my infamous German Nazi Interrogator, pinched and high-pitched voice. (In improv shows, it was always an unwritten challenge between Matt and myself who would be the first to get to do the German Voice.) So, in the car, I began doing the lines in that voice.

It felt good. Real good. So I decided I'd perform the lines like that during the show that night. Of course, I wouldn't tell anyone I was going to do it. I hoped to throw the rest of the cast off guard and get them to laugh.

As soon as I decided I'd do it, I chickened out. Nah, it wouldn't be fair to spring this on them. I wouldn't be able to keep the voice up for the whole monologue. It might ruin the ending of the show. It was too indulgent.... On the other hand, I might get the guys to laugh on stage. It would at least veer the scene in an interesting direction. What to do? I probably changed my mind a dozen times...

...right up to the moment when I was about to start speaking that monologue. Even as I drew in my breath to say the first word, I was unsure if I'd do it. Leading up to it, I was nervous and my heart was beating fast as I kept trying to talk myself into doing it. Breath in...the word (the word is "Sometimes...") comes out... it sounds German to I commit to it and do the monologue in a ridiculous German accent.

Matt and Andrew are the first to laugh. Matt's head goes down into his chest, Andrew turns his back to the audience. I laugh a bit at them laughing, but regain my composure. I believe I get Josh to laugh a couple of times, by changing the lines to something more apropos to what a German would say. Graham, though, is a tough nut to crack, I can see. He wavered a couple of times, but I can't definitively say whether I got him to laugh, to break character. If I pushed the issue, I'm sure I could have gotten him. But just at the moment when I could toss my best pitch to him, I softballed him. I let him off the hook.

Of course, I didn't consider that, if I started the monologue as the German, I'd have to end the scene as the German, too. And that included the big finale song that ends the show. I toughed it through, though, and sang the song with that ridiculous German accent. I'm sure the audience was befuddled.

So, now, with only three shows left, I'm afraid I've opened Pandora's Box. The Corpsing Glove has been slapped against the faces of my fellow actors and the game, I'm sure, is on. Now it'll be a mug-fest, an avalanche of accents, a litany of new lines, all meant to get the others to laugh. Unfortunately for me, I've shot my wad.

How about this boys: First to laugh on stage buys the culprit's eggrolls after the show?

Comedy Comedy Comedy Comedy

Four, count'em 4 nights of comedy.

Thursday and Friday are the final two regularly scheduled performances of Sketch 22. The show has been consistently selling out the past few weeks, so if you plan to go, go early and get your tickets. Doors open each night at 7pm.

The ARTS Guild does take reservations (even though we tell them not to) that are basically meaningless. Reserving through the ARTS Guild doesn't guarantee a seat. Unless you show up early enough to buy your tickets. If you call the ARTS Guild to reserve seats, and you show up at 7:45 expecting to get tickets and/or seats together, you may be out of luck.

We've also added an extra performance. This Sunday is our "Service Industry" show. This is an extra show, added for those who work Thursday and Friday nights in the summer, so they can see the show too. Of course, everyone's invited to that one too. I expect all three shows to be pretty well packed.

Tucked in between the Thursday-Friday and the Sunday Sketch 22 is the Saturday Night Comedy Smackdown. The inimitable Andrew Sprague will be hosting this evening of improv that pits the boys from Sketch 22 with the boys from 4 Skit's Sake. Even though it's billed as a comedy competition, the rivalry will be kept to a minimum, as we all focus on a rip-roaring evening of improv goodness.

Speaking of which, Graham and I were special guests at 4 Skit's Sake's final show of the summer. It's been probably 2 years since I've performed improv on stage, so I was kinda nervous about it. As soon as I got on stage for the couple of games that had me participate in, though, it was like I never left. Much fun.

The 4 Skit's Sake guys were saying that tonight's crowd was their biggest/best yet, so it seems they're going in the right direction in terms of creating a fan base.

Next weekend should be a killer weekend of comedy. Seriously, I expect to die from exhaustion.

Thursday, August 19

Ask An InSensitive Rob MacD

Because I like to emulate the great American President, George W. Bush, I thought I'd take a page from his campaign trail - specifically, the staged Ask President Bush events - and open up this blog post to answer some questions my legions of readers may want to ask of me.

Just to be like George, (it's a Salon link, you'd need to watch a small advertisement to get a 'daypass' to read the article, sorry) I'm going to have to ask that you profess a pledge of allegiance to my blog before you can gain entrance to the comments section of this post. And of course, once you enter the comments section, you must promise to only ask questions that are either pre-approved, or that are soft-ball enough that I won't stumble over in my response. Also, only ask questions that will make me look good.

Here are topics that I would appreciate you NOT ask/comment about:

- My boyscout attendance record. Unfortunately, the records regarding my attendance at Parkdale - (St.Pius X branch) Boyscout meetings were mistakenly destroyed and/or misplaced.

- The night during Sketch 22, on Battleship HMCS ArtsGuild, when I had the "Comedy Accomplished" banner unfurled, even though there were/are still more comedy shows to perform.

- The gas-mileage of my vehicle, and my firm belief in the necessity to find more fuel for my vehicle at any cost.

- The fact that I continually try to imply that Saddam Hussein was involved in the Sept.11, 2001 attacks on the USA.

- WMD's and WD-40.

Here are topics that are open to questions/comments:

- The family cat, Arista.

- How great my economy is doing. (if you ask questions about this, DO NOT ask questions regarding Mastercard or Visa bills)

- As long as you too are a firm believer in it, you will be allowed to ask questions regarding my undying faith in the Magic 8 Ball.

- Hickory Sticks.

Of course, you are not limited to questions only in thsoe topics, however, I maintain the right to ignore completely any question that I don't want to answer.

So, ask away, friends.

Monday, August 16

The Soda Of Ignorant Deadbeats

So, here's the latest television ad that is bugging me.

Guy's watching a ball-game on TB, baby crying off camera. He looks off, says "I'll be right there", slurps from the can of advertisement, eagerly resumes watching the game. Baby still crying. He looks off, says "Just a sec, honey", slurps and watches. Baby still crying. He looks off.

Suddenly his sense of duty kicks in and he goes to the crying baby. Turns out the baby is crying because it was just born, as we see the mother, doctors and nurses all huddled around the hospital bed. The mother (his wife we assume) smiles an understanding smile, as if to say, 'yep, that's the knucklehead I married!'. The final shot is of dad and swaddled baby, with dad telling baby a nuance of baseball.

Ha ha, so the guy was, like, watching the ball-game and drink product instead of participating in his child's birth. Ha ha, that's so 1982.

It doesn't work for me. Not in the least.

Friday, August 13

Extra Large Gobble Gobble

Two coffee stories today:

1) years ago, when Dunkin Donuts had their business on University Avenue, a few friends and myself were going through the drive-thru. A couple of us had ordered 'double doubles'. Anyway, when the lady was giving us our coffees at the window, as she handed them through, she'd tell us what each was. For the three double double's she said "dauble dauble...dauble dauble...dauble dauble" in a flat monotone voice. I replied to her that she sounded like a turkey. She wasn't impressed with this observation.

2) today, I was going through the Robin's Donuts drive-thru across the bridge. I recognised the driver of the car ahead of me, who was placing his order. It was Bobby MacMillan (he might go as 'Bob' now), who used to be manager at Myrons. He was very nice to me and the rest of the Annekenstein and 4Play casts when we performed a couple of otherwise fairly unspectacular seasons of comedy at Myrons. Anyway, I recognised him by his voice but didn't bother to acknowledge I was behind him in the drive-thru. He drove up, I placed my order (extra large gobble gobble), and drove on to the window. When I got there, the woman told me that my coffee was already paid for.

Bobby bought my coffee. What a nice thing to do. Thanks Bobby.

I realise that saying this might crack it, but I think there's some good Karma hitting me the last few days.

Wednesday, August 11

Reasonably Happy

I cannot remember a day when I was in such a good mood for such a long period of time without any obvious reasons.

I am incapable of enjoying it without reflection, so here are five potential reasons why I'm smiling today:

1) my wife loves me.

2) I am involved in a show that can only be described as an unqualified success.

3) I am staying on top of a big pile of work at work.

4) I appreciate my music collection.

5) I have no reason to believe so, and it doesn't really show I don't think, but I feel better, like I may have lost a few pounds.

I'd add "I had lunch with Matt today, and he even paid for mine" as a reason, but I was already in the good mood before that.

So, thanks! Thanks to those reasons and more for giving me a happy day today.

Tuesday, August 10

Or Are You Ugly AND Stupid?

Would you rather:

a) be as smart as you are good looking?


b) be as good looking as you are smart?

Me, I'd rather be as good looking as I am smart.

I was gonna add a third option: c) be as good looking as you are funny... but I didn't think anybody would want to be funny looking.

That is all.

Saturday, August 7

MaryJane, Patellar I Love Her

It is getting ridiculously funny now. The sitcom that is the Miami Dolphins' offseason. It's enough to make a DolFan weep.

Even before Ricky "I'm retiring in the prime of my career to pursue other interests and besides football doesn't excite me anymore and it's not about those pending marijuana fines but it kinda is and boy would it be great to play for the Oakland Raiders next year" Williams stunned the Dolphins with his surprise retirement, the Dolphins off-season was a mess. But when the player that the whole offense (an already weak and not very effective offense) is designed around, when that player retires suddenly and without warning, that hurts your chances to have a good season.

Still, we think as fans, all hope is not lost. Perhaps instead of relying so much on the running game, perhaps the offense will be forced to utilize the receiving corps more. Perhaps that will be a good thing and they'll surprise everyone. After all, the Dolphins did take a huge risk in getting former pro-bowl receiver David Boston, that so-called nutjob who couldn't fit in with the last two teams he played with. David Boston would now be the star of the offense, right? The Dolphins would show the NFL that getting Boston was a gamble that will pay off big time, right?

Yesterday, David Boston, while running a routine deep passing route, tore his Pateller tendon and is out for the season. Yet, even though hopes were shifted from Williams to Boston, and Boston's injury should be stunningly catastrophic, we all knew that Boston wasn't going to pay off for the Dolphins anyway, because the Dolphins don't have a quarterback with skills enough to get the ball to him, so no big loss right? So, his injury doesn't really matter, right?

What a mess. The good news is that the offense has pretty much eradicated itelf of players whose injury or departure will further hurt the team.

Therefore, it's time for the defensive players to start quitting and getting injured. With its current roster, Miami's defense should still be one of the best this season, and a great defense can take an otherwise mediocre team all the way to the SuperBowl. So, with the defense go my hopes and expectations for a successful season.

I hear, though, that to celebrate their potential dominance, the Dolphin defensive players are all going to take a cruise off the Miami coast. A three hour tour. Not to worry, though, it's reported that the mate is a mighty sailing man and the skipper's brave and sure. So nothing should happen to them, right?

Thursday, August 5

Dig Up The Dirt

Assume for a minute that you had the physical strength to do it. That you had the ability to dig to China (or to the opposite side of the Earth). Assume that you had the capacity to deal with the claustraphobia and the heat.

You still couldn't do it.

Sure, you could make it to the Earth's core, it's centre. That'd be no problem. But after that, it's an uphill battle so to speak. Once you began the second half of the journey, you'd then have to deal with gravitaional forces working against you. You'd be digging above your head.

So you still couldn't do it.

Unless you were wearing some type of jet-pack.

If you're planning such a feat, this is something you should be aware of. Just giving the bad news to you straight.

Monday, August 2

Small Window of Opportunity

In a post I made some time ago, I talked about how I had been looking forward to the time when my son could compete fairly against me in video games. For about 5 years (from his age 4 to age 9) when we would play games, I'd always play at a skill level lower than my abilities, so that the competition would remain close. I'd have accidents, lapses in judgements, whatever necessary to be deceptive worse than I actually was, just to keep the games close. This wasn't so fun for me, yet I didn't want to discourage Cameron from playing against me. I knew that someday, when he was older, we'd have real battles. I looked forward to those years of game-playing.

About a year ago, we were probably on an even level in the games that he liked to play. At the time of that initial post, he was getting close to beating me as much as I beat him. Now, I have very little chance at beating him. I'm guessing there was a one month window of opportunity where our skills were comparable. If I was to attempt to challenge him, it'd take some dedicated practice and playing. This, I am not willing to do.

To be fair to me (and to keep a modicum of dignity and pride) I will say that we really only play games that Cameron enjoys, and which he's played for hours upon hours. If we were to play games like Madden Football, I'd be all over him.