Friday, October 06, 2006

The Calgary Misadventure

So you might be wondering why it's taken me until now to finally post something about my trip down to Calgary this week to participate in the Red Mile Revenge reading for October.

Well, to put it quite simply, the whole Calgary trip turned into somewhat of a misadventure. Now don't get me wrong because now that the misadventure is over I would have to say that I would not have changed anything about the trip at all. It was an experience.

Before I set out on the road Tuesday I thought it would benefit the driving if I were to swing by the local A&B Sound store and get some road music. I ended spending just over a hundred bucks on CDs. I'll probably be mentioning some of these new albums for my library before long, but in a quick summary sort of way I ended up buying music by The Killers, Queens Of The Stone Age, Beck, Broken Social Scene, The Dears, and TV On The Radio. When it came time to pay for everything I couldn't get my debit card to work properly so I decided to use my credit card instead. This detail plays a part in my story later on so make a note of it.

The drive down to Calgary was great. I grooved to the new Killer disc, stopped in Red Deer for dinner, and got to Calgary in what seemed like little or no time at all. In fact, the drive down was so good that it made me really look forward to the drive back, which I was going to be making at night when the Queen Elizabeth II Highway would be dead.

As per a visit I made to MapQuest before I left Edmonton my route through Calgary to my reading would involve driving south on the Deerfoot until I hit 17 Ave, where I would turn right and pretty much head straight to my venue. Little did I know that just giving a brief look at a road map is not the same thing as actually looking at it for longer than two seconds. I would have seen that the exit I chose really just led to a maze of roads passing through industrial areas, not nearly the straight line I thought I saw on the map beforehand. So after a number of random turns I found myself at the entrance to Stampede Park. And then...

My car broke down.

And I couldn't get it started again.

This was when I first saw how friendly the people of Calgary are. Not long after trying and retrying to get my car started again, a woman from the line next to mine at the gate offered to give me a push out of the way, which I took her up on because I was growing ever more embarassed by the sorry state of my car. The woman at the gate called the park tow truck driver over to take a look at my car to see what could be done for me.

The park tow truck driver looked and couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong with my car, only that he couldn't smell any fuel getting to the engine. His guess was that it was probably a problem with my fuel pump and that maybe letting the car sit for a while would benefit it enough to get it running again later. With the time that I had to wait I could actually go do my reading, but I would need a cab to get there.

I called a cab and it turned out that the venue was actually within walking distance from Stampede Park. I guess I wasn't that lost after all. Anyway, the reading went well. It was a smaller audience than some of my readings, but holy shit was Victoria's Restaurant a nice venue. And the food? Excellent. Wow! I think that if the Raving Poets ever hit the road for a one-off show in Cowtown we should really do it at Victoria's because that place totally rocked. For the reading I brought out "The Clifford Brown Downtown Scope", "Marionettes", which I dedicated to Selina Clary even though she couldn't make it down to the show, "Spectator Sport", and I closed with "Vitriol", a poem I had yet to perform for the people of Calgary for fear of being lynched.

Then after the show everything went surreal.

I got back to my car and tried it, hoping that the down time would have done a world of wonder for it. No such luck. The car still wouldn't start. So I called my uncle Keith, the only Calgarian mechanic I know personally. He said that I could tow the car to his shop and he would look at it in the morning. My aunt Tharon and uncle Keith offered to put me up for the night since it looked like I was stranded, but I really hate being more of a bother than I already am and uncle Keith was already doing more than what I required of him by offering to look at my car so I declined their offer and told them I would seek a hotel once the car was towed.

Second lesson in how friendly Calgarians are: my tow truck driver that night was Larry. He was very forthright with what was best for towing my car and along the way to where the shop was he pointed out all the points of interest in Calgary and we got to talking about the economic situation in Alberta was like, our war stories from our respective jobs, etc. etc. And then when we got the car to the shop where my uncle Keith works it came time to pay and it turned out that my credit card didn't have enough credit left on it to cover the entire tow. Stupid CD shopping binge! So Larry asked me how much cash I had on me and I still had sixty bucks kicking around in my wallet so we tried the credit card again, this time sixty dollars less and it worked!

Now the problem was that I was on the outskirts of Calgary with no money, a broke-down car, and no transportation to get me to some sort of lodging for the night. My plan was to basically spend the next hour or two walking back into town and to shelter. Larry, though, offered to give me a lift on his way back in because he knew that he would be passing by numerous hotels since his route back was right by the airport. So he drove me to the Sandman Inn.

At the Sandman the desk clerk asked me for my credit card so that I could get a room. I explained to her that my credit card had recently been sapped by a tow truck and my own CD-buying stupidity. She told me that it was fine if I paid up front with my debit card. Do you remember why I had to buy my CDs with my credit card in the first place? Yes, you guessed it, my debit card is a piece of shit. The desk clerk tried and tried, but could not get it to work. I asked where a bank machine might be so that I could just get some cash for the room because I had plenty of cash, albeit in my bank account. She told me that the nearest bank machine was a long way away in the Calgary airport. Then she decided to try the old trick of putting tape on the debit car stripe to make it work. And it worked. Oh yes, thank you Buddha for that one.

So I got myself a room, an expensive room because it was the only one left, a two bed smoking suite. And I tried to wind down, but I couldn't sleep at all because I began to worry that the car repairs would be more expensive than what I could afford. I was also worried that I was imposing too much on my uncle Keith. I was also worried about the cat that I was supposed to be looking after for my friend Nadine while she's on vacation. All this worrying meant that I could only sleep soundly for as much as one hour.

When I got up I checked out of the hotel quicker than any human being has ever checked out of a hotel (call me Guiness Book of World Records, seriously). I had a hike ahead of me. I had to find cash somewhere. So I walked from my hotel on Barlow Trail and McKnight all the way to 32 Avenue and 36 Street. I'm not 100% sure on those coordinates as I am a tourist in Calgary even at the best of times. It was a long walk that's all I know. It was probably three miles or so to where I finally found a bank machine and I took out a large wad of cash just to be safe. I then called a cab to take me to my uncle Keith's shop.

Once at the shop it turned out that the repair to my car was indeed the aforementioned fuel pump, which on my car is a rather simple repair. I apparently still had the original (and 30-year-old) fuel pump on my car so I can't really be upset at fate for making that part fail me at last. It took a few hours, but my uncle Keith and his coworkers got me on the road again for a very small fee compared to what I would have paid at some shop where people see suckers born every minute.

The drive back home was scary at best. Because of my lack of sleep I really found myself nodding off behind the wheel as I was getting closer and closer to Red Deer. When I got to Red Deer I was very tempted to just put down 60 bucks on getting a room at this motel that I passed just so that I could get enough sleep to make the rest of the trip back to Edmonton. After eating lunch, though, I found myself rejuvenated enough to make it back, though to ensure I stayed awake I put on some hard-rocking Queens Of The Stone Age and made sure to sing all the way back to E-Town.

Finally I got back home after all the walking, lack of sleep, lack of cash, and adventuring, and misadveturing, and it was 3:00 in the afternoon and I was just going to climb into bed and sleep because I didn't have to be at work until Thursday night.

But that wasn't to be because two hours after falling asleep I was called into work.

So I really didn't get much sleep until this morning. And now I finally have a day off and I don't intend to do anything but host a poker game and a hockey draft later tonight.

I'm glad the misadventure is over, but damn it was fun when everything was done. Thank you, Calgary, you restored my faith in humanity.

I'm almost wondering when the next time I'll be down the Cowtown way will be because I actually kind of miss it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brief Transmission

So today I have a day off of work (thank fucking god, let me tell you, with how things have been going at work lately) and today also happens to be the day that my friend Selina Clary puts on her regular monthly poetry reading in Calgary, The Red Mile Revenge. So I have a day off of work and there's a poetry reading in Calgary. If you put two and two together you must be able to figure out that today I'm taking a road trip down to Cowtown to participate in the Red Mile Revenge.

The show takes place at Victoria's Bistro And Bar (306 17 Avenue SW, Calgary) tonight (October 3, 2006) at 8:00 p.m. So if you are in Calgary and you want to come out to hear some killer poetry by me stop on by. Hell, even if you just want to hear some killer poetry in general and you happen to be in Calgary you should check out the RMR show happening tonight.

See you there!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Bottom Ten, September 2006

10.) The Royal Family- I was watching one of those shows that listed the biggest heirs and heiresses in England and, of course, Prince William was named at number 1 because the royals are worth something in the neighborhood of 10 billion dollars. My reaction: Why? I mean, okay, I can see the family being worth that much through years of sound investments and proper financial planning, but I know that a good chunk of that fortune stems from the fact that somebody, somewhere attaches some sort of relevance to the notion of a royal family. How the fuck are these people still relevant? Can anybody tell me? I'm at a loss. The t.v. show that I was watching also made a huge point over how one day William will be King of England. Big fucking deal, asshole. It's too bad nobody really for real thinks that generations of inbreeding is grounds enough for giving you some real political power.

9.) The Conservative Knee-Jerk Reaction- Click here. In Frisco, Texas an art teacher basically lost her job because one of her students saw a nude sculpture during a field trip to a museum. Oh my god, no!!! Not a nude sculpture in a museum! Holy fuck! Who in their right fucking heads would dare put a sculpture of the naked human form in a museum? Somebody might see a schlong! Or...gasp! Titties! Oh merciful fucking heaven to mergatroid (or however the fuck you spell mergatroid)! Seriously, you fucking hillbillies, is the naked body such a crime in the art world that you could lose your job over a child seeing it? If that is truly the case then shouldn't parents be reprimanded for having mirrors in their homes where children might, gasp!, stare at their own genitalia? I pity the generation that's growing up so sheltered that they have no fucking clue what a schlong is only that it's the tool of Satan and all that is unholy.

8.) The Stork- Those same conservative parents are raising that generation of children to believe that the stork delivers the babies in the night. Just wait until the liberal post-secondary education system gets ahold of them and they flunk because they answer on exams that the purpose of the vagina (they call it the Hoo-Haw Hole or some other asinine name because "vagina" is a swear word) is to make potty and only potty. Anyway, my beef with the stork is that it's just a fucking shitty bird. Of all the things that the conservative right could come up with that magically dieliver babies in the still of the night they had to go with a fucking shit-machine white bird while Christmas gets Santa Claus, Easter gets an egg-laying bunny rabbit, and teeth get taken away by a fucking fairy. I suppose that you've pretty much exhausted the limits of the imagination with all that other shit so a fucking bird carrying babies is all that's left. What a fucking bunch of arbitrary bullshit. A man shoving his cock in some woman's cooch and nine months later a baby popping out sounds a whole bunch more miraculous than some fucking bird that probably shits on people's windshields as it makes deliveries. Fucking birds.

7.) Cross-Promotion Bullshit- Click here. Ahhhhh, Martha Stewart, where you have been lately? My bottom ten lists got lonely without your cold, evil overlord kind of embrace. What now, you ask? Well, Martha Stewart has openly invited Eminem to appear on her show because Martha and her cult are more into the music of Eminem than you would believe. I'll let that sink in for a moment. Do you think that this is an attempt on Martha's part to gain some sort of street cred, branching her appeal into the world of rap, or an invitation to Eminem to branch his appeal into the world of banal domestic divas? Probably a little from column A and a little from column B. I hope that this invitation is decline, or better yet, not even acknowledged because I fucking hate every one of Martha's publicity stunts. Although, she did serve time for being a fucking evil icon or something, maybe she gained an appreciation for rap music while being brutalized in pound-you-in-the-ass prison.

6.) Using The Word 'Diva' To Describe Anything- I should really punch myself in the balls for using that fucking word for anything other than complaining about people who use that word or try to make it some sort of label by which they live their lives. I'm a diva. You're a diva. We're divas! Fuck you! What the fuck is a diva? Seriously. It's just some amorphous, vague jargon that gets thrown around to justify prissy behavior and it's fucking time that people grew up and started taking responsibility for their actions. I demand Perrier Water because I'm a diva and I will be treated accordingly. You demand Perrier Water because you're fucking stuck-up and you have a disproportionately large ego. If you put it like that I might get you a fucking Perrier just to shut you up.

5.) Feuding Pop Princesses- Click here. Britney and Christina have finally settled one of the bloodiest, most violent feuds in pop music history. Indeed, their spat was one of the darkest chapters in modern history and will be long remembered by future generations. What did it take to finally settle this deadly conflict? A fucking crockery set? How the fuck did one attention whore buying another attention whore a fucking crockery set get deemed as newsworthy? Fucking crockery sets don't settle disputes; they don't settle shit; they only make crocks (whatever the fuck those are). Only fistfights and/or lesbian make-out sessions end feuds.

4.) K-Fed- You know what? I'm K-Fed up with with fucking douchebag. Oh, stop groaning, that was fucking pun gold! Click here. So while Britney and Christina attempt some sort of reconciliation over crock (whatever the fuck that is) K-Fed is out and about fostering brand new feuds with many of today's brightest stars by giving the songs off of his soon-to-be-released album titles that are the same titles as songs by other artists. All this because there's a possibility that people will confuse his songs for the songs by those other artists (which are undoubtedly better due to their %100 less K-Fed involvement) when they do things like download tracks off of iTunes. I guess it's sort of fitting that anybody dumb enough not to check who sings a song before they download it off of iTunes deserves to get to hear K-Fed sing.

3.) Spelling "Thanks" With An "X" At The End- Congratulations assholes, you managed to save yourself the time and effort of having to write that whole one extra letter. How the fuck are you not in NASA with such mental prowess as to say, Hey, you know, "-ks" sounds a lot like the sound that the "x" makes. Holy fucking shit! I could just change the "ks" to an "x" and people will still understand and I will look like a total fucking genius because I was able to economize my time. So tell me, genius, what are you going to do with that 0.00056 seconds you just saved with your clever respelling? Oh that's right, 0.00056 seconds isn't even enough time to let out a juicy fart.

2.) DVD Cases That Are Sold With More Than One 'Security Device Enclosed' Sticker On Them- The message behind 'Security Device Enclosed' is straight-forward enough for me that it only takes one sticker to convey it. Why the fuck would you put three of those annoyances on your packaging? Any real crimnal knows that the security device is in the packaging and not on the DVD itself so why not just steal the disc and leave its sticker-riddled packaging on the shelf? Instead you cover all the opening edges with the your stupidity and make legitimate consumers have to work to see your fucking piece-of-shit movies. Bravo.

1.) "London Bridge" By: Fergie- What a fucking terrible song! I know you're kind of expecting me to say something funny because I am a bit of a joke-monkey sometimes, but seriously, that song finds a way to transcend the art of sucking and manages to suck so hard that it implodes on itself almost to the point where I can listen to "My Humps" without vomiting out of ass. That's suck.