Bizarre Snacks and Bluetooth Insanity

Ok, so I have officially eaten the most bizarre flavour of potato chip. Here in Canada, we are liberal in government but fairly conservative in our potato chips. The most outrageous we’ve ever gotten was when Lays ran a contest and Swiss Chalet Sauce came out on top (with maple syrup being a close second). The taste was like a sweeter BBQ sauce but nothing that the taste buds couldn’t handle. But the British? Is there a single thing that the Brits will NOT use to flavour their crisps? Kate was already obsessed with “Roast Chicken” flavoured Lays, which we can only find in specialty shops here, but on Boxing Day, my aunt brought me two packages of Walkers chips that a friend who’d recently returned from England had given her. The first one was “Pigs In Blankets”. I’m never quite sure what that is—in North America it refers to hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury crescent roll dough, which is already disgusting on its own, but in the UK, it can be “a variety of different sausage-based foods…depending on geographic location.” That sounds kind of gross for a potato chip, unless it’s the Scottish version, called “Kilted Soldiers”, which consists of sausages wrapped in bacon. Now that’s a flavour I could get behind. What I can’t get behind is the other bag my aunt gave me, which were BRUSSEL SPROUT FLAVOURED. Yes, the British have taken the most disgusting vegetable known to humankind (aside from beets) and turned it into a potato chip. And the best part was the bag, because the bag features the company logo surrounded by swirling sprouts in the shape of a Christmas tree with the caption “Brussels Sprout”, and I don’t know if that’s a typo or if it’s because they’re “sprouting” out of a green gift box on the front of the package. But the best thing, like the ABSOLUTE BEST THING, is that beneath all the sprouts it actually says, “IMAGE OF SPROUTS FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSE ONLY. PRODUCT CONTAINS NO BRUSSEL SPROUTS”. Like someone was seriously going to buy these and then be like “Cor Blimey! Where are all the sprouts wot I was promised?! It’s bloody Christmas–this is bollocks!!” At any rate, I DID try them. They were green, very salty, and had a terrible aftertaste. Just like real Brussel sprouts.

You might not have noticed it, but I’ve spent the equivalent of several days revising all my blog posts so that they have metatags. I read somewhere that having tags on each post might increase traffic, so I set about adding them to every single post. I have so far written 276 posts as mydangblog, with each one between 1000 and 2000 words and I had to read every one of them to decide what tags to use. And I have NO idea if I’m doing it right, because it was mostly just me going “Hmm. This one’s about poop so I should use that as a tag.” So far, the tags I’ve used the most are Humour, Wine, Titus, Bathrooms, Worst Case Scenarios, and Star Wars, and that list alone should tell you everything you need to know about me. Here’s a picture of the Baby Yoda cookies Kate and I made, just so I can add a gratuitous Star Wars tag to this post too.

I decided that I probably shouldn’t use Porn as a tag, even though I have several posts related to porn, because I already get enough spam enticing me to click on a link to see hot college co-eds. Will tags make any difference? Only time will tell, but at least I got to read some funny sh*t that I’d forgotten about.

And speaking of funny sh*t I’d forgotten about, on Friday, I was driving and my 6 year-old niece Cecile tried to FaceTime me. I couldn’t answer, so I tried calling her back, but my Bluetooth was acting REALLY weird. I asked it to call Cecile, and the woman’s voice just kept saying “Pardon?” The third time I said her name, the woman said, “Ok, calling Phil” and I was like “WHO THE F*CK IS PHIL?!”And this reminded me of the last time I rented a car. (I had to rent it in the name of Queen Elizabeth because I work for a secret agency. This is not a joke. In fact, I had to call the rental agency to verify something, and the guy couldn’t find the car under my name, so I said, “Try “Her Majesty the Queen,” and he was like, “Oh yeah, here it is.” I’m glad the Queen wasn’t actually driving with me, because she would have been less than impressed by my relationship with the woman who ran the Bluetooth system. In my own car (under normal circumstances), when I want to make a call, the woman simply says, “Ready,” and I say “Call”, and she says “State the name or number.” So I tell her, and the next thing, I’m talking to someone, usually Ken. I don’t know what kind of sick, evil mind designed the system in this Nissan Sentra that I rented, but here’s what happened when I tried to make a phone call:

First attempt

Woman: Please say a command. You can choose from Call, Redial, Call Phone Book, Recent Calls, Location, Hang Up, Try Again, New Command, or Help.
Me: Uh…I…can you just call someone for me? I’ve forgotten what the options are already.
Woman: That command is not recognized. Hanging up.
Me: WTF! (presses button again, listens to list). Call!
Woman: Please specify from the following list. Name, Phone Number, Redial, Call Back, Hang Up, or Help.
Me: 519-555…
Woman: Command not recognized. Disconnecting.
Me: Wait, what?!

Second Attempt

Woman: Please specify from the following list. Name, Phone Number, Redial, Call Back, Hang Up, or Help.
Me: Name.
Woman: OK. Hanging up.
Me: What?!

Third Attempt

Woman: Please specify….
Me: Phone Number.
Woman: To dial, please speak 3, 7, or 10 digits. Say “special number” to dial 24 digits, including special numbers like star, pound, or nuclear launch codes.
Me: What the f*ck?!
Woman: You have requested the digits 254. Please say the next 4 digits to dial or choose from one of the following options. Correction, Redial, Call Back, Take Me To Funkytown, or Help.
Me: Help me…
Woman: Command not recognized. You are either speaking too loudly, too softly, or in Mandarin.
Me: I’M NOT SPEAKING MANDARIN!!
Woman: OK. Calling Ken.
Me: Sigh.

(Update: I tried the Pigs in Blankets chips last night and they tasted remarkably and unfortunately just like hot dogs. Ugh. Cor blimey.)

My Week 241: I’m In The Movies

The other night as I was drifting off to sleep, I had an idea for the most amazing tweet. I don’t tweet a lot; I mostly read other people’s tweets and sometimes retweet (also, I hate the word tweet and having to use it this many times to set up this week’s story is making me want to smash my laptop), but in my semi-conscious state, I was convinced that it was something I absolutely had to say. So I tweeted out this:

Then I woke up the next morning, looked at what I had tweeted, and was slightly appalled. But then I comforted myself with the knowledge that Twitter is pretty much a cesspool anyway, so who cares if I say something random and dumb? I mean, it’s not like I’m an American president or a Canadian Conservative or something. Also, notice that the tweet got one ‘like’ (it was from my awesome blogger friend Sean P. Carlin–you should check him out). But then I got to thinking—what other movies would have been completely different if I’d been in them? So here are some films whose plots would definitely have suffered due to my presence:

1) Since I’m writing this on May the 4th, let’s start with Star Wars, at the moment before the Death Star is about to be destroyed…

Obi-Wan: Mydangblog, trust your feelings.
Me: I really wish you would call me Player One.
Obi-Wan: Concentrate, Mydangblog.
Me: But all the other guys get cool nicknames! There’s Red Leader, Gold Leader, Wedge, Goose…aw, Goose just got exploded.
Obi-Wan: Goose was from Top Gun. Will you please concentrate?!
Me: Ok, I’m going into the weird tunnel. I’m gonna blow sh*t up!
Obi-Wan: Use the Force, Mydangblog.
Me: No way. I’mma use this visor thing with the targeting computer in it.
Obi-Wan: LET GO!
Me: Are you Force-splaining how to destroy a Death Star to me?
Darth Vader (heavy, pervy breathing): The lunacy is strong with this one.
Obi-Wan: Mydangblog, trust me.
Me: That heavy-breathing perv just shot my robot! That’s it! Tick tock, m*therf*cker—your time is up! (*puts on theme song which is obviously Sugar How You Get So Fly, blasts everything in sight with my laser guns, manages to hit portal, Death Star detonates*)

I know—it ends just like the real Star Wars, but it was a lot more fun.

2) The Empire Strikes Back

Scene: Out on some glacier.

Me: Holy sh*t, it’s cold.
Obi-Wan: Mydangblog. Mydangblog.
Me: You again? I told you to call me Player One.
Obi-Wan: You will go to the Disco-Bar system and learn yoga.
Me: What the actual f*ck? Urghhhh, it’s so cold…
Han Solo: Mydangblog!! Come on, give me a sign here! There’s not much time! I’m going to cut open this Tauntaun and put you inside it to keep you warm.
Me: GROSS. I’D RATHER DIE.

So in my world, I only appear in two Star Wars movies, but I stand by my choice. Tauntaun intestines are disgusting.

3) 2001: A Space Odyssey

Opening scene:

Monkeys all screaming and having some kind of monkey war. I suddenly appear, like a strange female monolith. They stop and stare.

Me: Hey chimps! Which one of you wants to be my monkey butler?

(*One monkey tentatively walks forward. He picks up a big bone from like a Tyrannosaurus or whatnot, and advances on me.*)

Me: OK, cool. I shall name you Ralph Van Wooster.

(*Monkey shakes his head and waves the bone menacingly. More monkeys start to move towards me.*)

Me: I think I’ve misjudged this situation terribly.

(*Monkeys stop their in-fighting and attack me with their dinosaur bones. Then they, after having united against me, live in peace and harmony until the end of time.*)

4) Psycho

Shower Scene:

Me, in the bathtub, splashing around and having a dandy time. For some reason, the shower curtain is pulled closed, which I would NEVER do in real life because I need to know if someone is sneaking up on me, but let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment. There’s the silhouette of a figure approaching, knife raised. The shower curtain is suddenly pulled back. Violins screech and then stop abruptly. Norman Bates looks confused.

Norman: Why aren’t you in the SHOWER?!
Me: Showers are the devil’s cleaning system! Get out of my bathroom, you psycho! (*grabs hammer that I always keep on the bathtub ledge and breaks his kneecap as theme song, Sugar How You Get So Fly, plays*)
Norman: I wouldn’t even harm a fly!…

Get me out of this shower!!

5) Lord of the Rings

Gandalf: OK, so you’re going to take the ring—
Me: I know, I know—to the tiptop of Mount Crumpet and there I’m going to dump it.
Gandalf: No, that’s wrong.
Me: Come on, Sam-wise—I need you to pull my sleigh.
Samwise: Of course, MyD–I mean Player One.
Me: Sam, I’m glad you’re with me.
Gandalf: Fly, you fools.

Cue theme song, which never gets old.

My Week 203: Another Mystery, Titus and I Talk Movies

My life is shrouded in mystery. If it’s not blonde hair in my condo, it’s porn on my porch. There are forces out there that cannot be explained…

So last Sunday, I followed my usual routine. I got up, sat down in front of my laptop and wrote for a while. Ken was in his office working on his photography portfolio (he just got accepted to be an ‘official’ contributor to Istock/ Getty), so when I was done, I came upstairs to see how he was doing. I was standing in the doorway to his office and we were talking when I looked down and saw it. I stopped mid-sentence and exclaimed, “What the holy f*ck is THAT?!”

Ken: What’s wrong?
Me: I—I—there’s a MOUTHGUARD on the floor here. Whose is it? How did it get here?
Ken: A mouthguard?
Me: Yes! Like one that a dentist would make. Where did it come from? It definitely wasn’t there a few days ago!
Ken: Kate used to have one. Maybe it’s hers?
Me: And it just randomly appeared on the floor outside your office?!

Um…what?

But I remembered that a few years ago, we had a nightguard made for Kate. Maybe she’d left it at the house the last time she and his girlfriend, the lovely V, had stayed over. So I messaged her with a picture of the mysterious mouthguard, and here is the verbatim transcript of my gentle attempt to discover the truth.

Me: WTF, KATE???
K: what is that
Me: A mouth guard!
K: whys it under a table
Me: I DON’T KNOW
                is it yours?
K: if it is its from kung fu
Me: How did it get by dads office?
K: the dog probably
Me: not what I expected to see under the table in the foyer!
K: that’s not my dentist mouthguard
                I have that here

So Kate’s theory was that the mouthguard had fallen out of her kung fu bag when we were cleaning and that the dog had carried it upstairs and left it under the table outside of Ken’s office. Plausible, despite the fact that Titus insisted he had nothing to do with it and “would never put something so disgusting in his mouth”. But then we realized that Kate’s kung fu mouthguard was a black ‘boil and bite’ so it couldn’t be that. I was deeply disturbed by all of this, so I left the thing exactly where we found it. When Kate came home this past Friday, the subject came up again. We went upstairs and all stared at it in disbelief, like the strange plastic harbinger of doom that it was.

K: It’s definitely not mine.
Me: Then who the hell does it belong to?!
Ken: Maybe it dropped out of the cleaner’s pocket?
Me: Of course. Steph was carrying her nightguard around with her during the day while she was mopping, and it dropped out under this table 2 weeks ago, and she still hasn’t noticed it was missing. Obviously. Come on! You know, I had one of these when we were first married. Do you think it’s mine? I mean I haven’t seen it in almost twenty years, but you never know. Let me just try it on…
K and Ken: Oh my god, no! It’s filthy! Don’t! You don’t know where it’s—EWWW!
Me: Nope, not mine.
K: Mom, that was disgusting. You’re going to catch some kind of disease.
Me: I’ll just swirl some wine around my mouth. There—germs all killed.
K: Ugh. I can’t believe you did that.
Titus: I know, right?! Gross.
Me: It was a ploy. If any of you knew anything about it, you would have told me to stop me from putting it in my mouth. It seems that you are all truly innocent.
K: Well played, I guess…

But the question—and the mouthguard—still remain. Where did it come from? Is my house haunted by an anxious ghost with bruxism? Do I have a VERY forgetful cleaner? Did someone break into our house, take nothing, but leave it behind as a warning of further dental incidents to come? We may never know.

Titus and I Talk About The Movies

Me: So hey, my blogger friend Often Off Topic is doing a Dog Blogathon in a couple of weeks so for the challenge, I’m supposed to write about dogs and movies.
Titus: Cool, cool. I’m a huge movie buff. I’m still pissed off at you for not taking me to TIFF.
Me: Right, like I was going to take a chance on you trying to high five Sam Rockwell and slapping him in the face?
Titus: Fair enough. But I do love “the moving pictures”.
Me: Really? What’s your favourite movie?
Titus: Citizen Kane. Good old Rosebud.
Me: I know, right? That shot of the sled at the end gets me every time.
Titus: What sled?
Me: The sled. Rosebud.
Titus: Rosebud wasn’t a sled. Rosebud was the guy.
Me: What guy?!
Titus: The main dude with the big castle.
Me: THAT was Citizen Kane.
Titus: I thought Rosebud was his nickname or something.
Me (rolls eyes): What else do you like? How about Star Wars?
Titus: Meh. That giant cat was really annoying.
Me: You mean Chewbacca? He was a Wookie.
Titus: Chewy cookie? Yes, please.
Me: No, Wookie. So you didn’t like it?
Titus: It was confusing. I could never tell who the bad guys were. Luke and Leia made a cute couple though.
Me: They were brother and sister.
Titus: WHAT?
Me: And Darth Vader was their father.
Titus: You’re sh*tting me! Thanks for the spoiler!
Me: You don’t pay very close attention to what you’re watching, do you?
Titus: I like to multi-task.
Me: If by multi-task, you mean ‘beg for popcorn’, then no wonder you miss so much. So what are some dog movies you’d like to see?
Titus: Um…Slumdog Millionaire. That sounds GREAT.
Me: It’s not about dogs.
Titus: Huh?! OK, what about Reservoir Dogs?
Me: Again, not about dogs.
Titus: I thought it was some kind of nature documentary. Dog Day Afternoon?
Me: Nope.
Titus: The Dogs of War? Wag The Dog?
Me: Do you know any movies that are actually about dogs?
Titus: Apparently not. By the way, Soylent Green is people.
Me: I already knew that, but nice try. Here, it says on this website that Old Yeller is the number one dog movie of all time.
Titus: Sweet. We could watch that. What’s it about?
Me: It’s about a dog that gets…then the boy…uh…Reservoir Dogs it is!
Titus: Awesome–I love a good documentary.
Me: Do you want popcorn?
Titus: Is Jaws a shark?

A dog of discerning taste.

 

Black and White Challenge Week 6

 

My Week 180: Star Wars Death Elevator, Purple Rain

Well, I managed to survive another week, and by survive, I mean LITERALLY not get killed. Over the course of the last few days, something terrifying happened, and something lovely also happened. Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Obviously, the bad news, right? Because we need to get the sh*t out of the way so that we can celebrate the good things that life has to offer. So away we go…

On Thursday, I decided that I wanted hot chocolate. I like to make it with half hot water and half milk, but the communal milk in my mini-frig was sour (sorry, M, but we aren’t drinking that sh*t fast enough—pick up the pace!), and I decided to pop down to the store on the corner to buy a new carton. I came back into the building with my bag of milk, and some hummus and crackers for lunch, and got onto the elevator. You may recall, if you visit this site often, that I am particularly phobic about elevators, and often have nightmares about them. You may also remember that a few weeks ago, I had an elevator incident where I accidentally pushed the basement button and couldn’t get to my floor for a few minutes. So naturally, I’m very careful now in terms of buttons. Of course, aside from the numbers, I don’t know what any of the other buttons mean. Most elevators just have symbols, which I have always related back to the Star Wars universe, and simply call them “Imperial Fighter”, “X-Wing Fighter”, “Darth Vader’s Helmet” and either “Princess Leia’s Hairdo”, or “ET, phone home” depending on which way the phone icon is facing. So yes, I know the phone is to call someone, but as for the rest, I am perpetually stumped. I never know which one opens the door or closes it, and 9 times out of 10, I accidentally shut the door on someone calling, “Hold the elevator!” and then seem like a total jerk, when actually I just DON’T READ BRAILLE. Like, I understand the importance of making sure the blind don’t get stuck in elevators too, but can’t these buttons be also labelled in regular WORDS? Is this a Canadian thing, where we expect people to guess how the elevator works? Some elevators have words, from what I’ve seen on the interweb, but not mine.

See the resemblance?

Luke, I am your alarm button.

Anyway, I got on the elevator and pressed “12” for my floor. The door shut. The elevator started moving, then it stopped. The light on the “12” button went out. Nothing happened for a second. And then the elevator DROPPED about a foot and then bounced up and down. I started stabbing the lobby button frantically but nothing happened. I looked at the buttons. Imperial Fighter or X-Wing Fighter?! How do I get these f*cking doors open?! I tried both, but nothing happened, and then the elevator dropped and bounced again. At which point, I pushed Darth Vader’s Helmet as hard as I could, not knowing whether this would result in a light sabre battle with the Dark Lord, but I would have gladly lost a hand to get off that elevator alive. A piercing alarm sounded. I kept pushing the Helmet Button and I heard a faint voice saying, “Stop pressing the alarm—we’re coming.” So I stopped for a second, and then the elevator dropped again. At which point, I resumed pressing the button and also screaming, “Help me! Get me out of here! Please! Someone help me!” I also started crying, so probably good that Darth Vader’s Helmet didn’t summon the Dark Side, because I would have been an easy kill at that moment. Suddenly the elevator doors opened, and two guys were standing there looking at me very concerned and apologetic.

Guy 1: Are you OK?
Me (crying a little bit): No.
Guy 2: What floor were you going to?
Me (crying a lot): 12.
Guy 2: Do you want me to go up with you?
Me (sobbing ridiculously): Yes.

On the way up, he apologized profusely. Apparently, he and his friend were checking for water leakage in the basement, and had locked my elevator at the exact moment that I had pushed “12”. So it was like an epic battle between floors, with me caught in the middle. By the time I got back to my office, I was in the middle of a complete panic attack. I walked in with tears rolling down my face, and was immediately surrounded by the warmth and care of my coworkers, who helped me to a chair, offered to get me water, and brought me chocolate because, as my colleague put it, “Nothing helps a panic attack more than chocolate”. And if anyone ever wonders why I work so far away from home, when I could try to find a job within easy driving distance, this is it. Except for the elevators.

So that was the scary thing, although it had a nice ending. The really cool thing that happened is this:

We recently brought on board a person whose job is, apparently, to understand what the secret agency does. I’ve had to meet with him several times, and the conversations go something like this:

Him: What’s this?
Me: It’s this.
Him: What does it do?
Me: It does this.
Him: Who’s involved?
Me: They are.
Him: What happens next?
Me: This does.

And then he fills in his fancy and complicated spreadsheet. He’s a very quiet, polite, older fellow, and doesn’t say much, at least not to me. Then the other day, he needed some information and came to my office. When he sat down, he looked at my tote bag, my hair, and a couple of other things in my office and said, “I see you really like the colour purple.” I said, yes, that it was a particular favourite. He responded with “I have something on me that I wish was purple” and he started rolling up his pant leg. And I was like, “Wait, what is happening here?!” (in my head of course, because I was alarmed, but also fascinated). He pulled the pant leg up to reveal a tattoo of the Prince symbol on his calf. Honest to god, it was the last thing I expected from this quiet, older man. Turns out, he and his wife are both huge Prince fans, and we spent the next little while reminiscing about Prince, and how wonderful he was in concert (I’d never seen him live, but my colleague had on several occasions). His biggest regret aside from getting the tattoo in solid black instead of purple, he said, was that he didn’t get VIP tickets for the last concert, because the people sitting on the corners of the stage actually got called up by Prince to DANCE with him. It was a lovely conversation, and it struck me how important it is to get to know people on more than just a spreadsheet level. And the best part was when I was telling Ken about it yesterday on the way to see a movie with T and his girlfriend, and just as I was describing how much this guy loved Prince, “Kiss” came on the radio, and all I could picture was this cool, quiet, older guy dancing his heart out.

Anyway, sorry that this week wasn’t as funny as normal, but a near-death experience can do that to you. I feel bad though, so I’ll leave you with this conversation that I had with a telemarketer last week:

Phone rings at 7:30 on Saturday morning, then stops. Ken has answered. I’m worried that it’s someone with bad news, because who the f*ck else calls your house at that time in the morning. I pick up the upstairs phone:

Heavily accented voice: …an illegal charge on your credit card. If you don’t pay right away, the police…
Me: Ken, this is a scam. Tell him to f*ck off.
Heavily accented voice: You f*ck off.
Me: No, YOU F*CK OFF.
Heavily accented voice: NO, YOU F*CK OFF.
Me: Ken, hang up the damn phone.

Yep. That’s me. Willing to engage in a swearing match with a telemarketer at 7:30 in the morning. Near death experiences have made me bold.

My Week 149: Getting Ready to Vacation, Hammacher Schlemmer Revisited

Can I just stay home?

Is “vacate” the verb form of “vacation”? Because that’s what I’m in the midst of right now—getting ready to vacate for a vacation. I’m not good at the whole down-time thing, but I have to say I’m getting a little excited. Ken, T, and I are going on the Queen Mary over to the UK with our whole family, including Mom and Dad, and my brother (the one with the Ph.D) and his family. The worst part of the whole experience, aside from worrying about EVERY worst case scenario possible, is the packing. I’ve been struggling for days with what exactly to bring, and how I will fit it all in one suitcase for two weeks. The Queen Mary is a super-fancy boat, and then once we dock, we`re going to be hiking around Wales, so it’s one extreme to another. I basically just took everything I had, and rolled it all up into tight balls, so now I have room for shoes. I have a LOT of shoes. Mostly flipflops, so they don`t take up much space. But Ken’s in a jam because he has to take “formal wear”. I can roll a dress into a tight sausage, but a suit isn’t that easy:

Me: Are you going to put your stuff into a garment bag?
Ken: I suppose…
Me: Why are you acting skeptical? It’s a garment bag, not a Tauntaun that you cut open for warmth.
Ken: What?!
Me: Nothing. Do you think three pairs of black flipflops is too many?

Random Star Wars references aside, Ken and I are T minus 11 hours away from departure. We’re also minus K, because she’s having a last farewell with her girlfriend, the lovely V, before she goes off the grid for a few days. But she promised to be home for Ken’s birthday dinner.

Meanwhile, Ken decided that he wanted to take photographs to submit to a contest held by a local ice cream company. His grand plan was to use Titus and me as models on the porch of our garden house. I had to sit there in the boiling sun with a “Yukon Bar” dripping down my arm until Titus decided he’d had enough, grabbed it out of my hand, and pulled the whole thing off the stick:

Me: What the f*ck??!!
Titus: Did you seriously think you could keep waving that at me and I WOULDN’T steal it? Whoa—ice cream headache!!
Me: Serves you right, you dick. Also, it was chocolate ice cream, so don’t come crying to me if you get sick.
Titus (whispers): It was so worth it.

Anyway, that sh*t is boring AF for you, so I’ll get to the point. I’m vacating the country for a while, and it occurs to me that I don’t really want to go anywhere else. I know that Canada isn’t perfect and that there are horrible people here too, but in the last couple of days, I’ve had some particularly Canadian experiences.

1) Yesterday, I was waiting in line for the train at Union Station in Toronto (the biggest train station in the country). When the line started to move, the woman in front of me looked down at some bags at her feet, then moved them to one side, and we all kept walking. The guy behind me was a little worried and said to me, “Do you know who those bags belong to?”

“No,” I answered, “but this is Canada. No one’s going to take them.”

“True enough,” he agreed. A couple of minutes later, I saw a man come running over breathlessly and grab the bags, smiling at the people in line, who smiled back and let him in. Which is a big deal, because Canada has some pretty stringent line protocols.

2) Over the course of the last two days, I’ve had a door held open for me by at least 10 people, some of them young people, which doesn’t surprise me—I mention it only as a counter-measure against those who continually whine about millennials.

3) This morning I was in the neighbouring city getting a few things for the trip. A couple had a shopping cart at the top of the stairs leading to another plaza. They carried two of their bags down but left three cases of water in the cart. As I walked by, the people behind me said, “Oh, someone’s forgotten their water!” Then the couple came hurrying back. “Don’t worry,” I said. “No one’s going to take it.”

“Oh, I know,” the woman replied. “I was just worried that the cart might be in someone’s way. Plus if someone DID take it, I guess they needed the water more than me, so that’s OK.”

4) I went to Shopper’s and forgot my points card. The cashier said, “Don’t worry—it’s Senior’s Day” which initially had me like ‘Dear God, do I look that old?’ but then she explained that she gave my points to the woman ahead of me in line who was a senior and who HAD her points card, and gave both of us the senior’s discount. “I pretended that you were her daughter and gave you the discount. Just say ‘Thanks, Mom’ to her, and we’ll call it even,” she said. So I did.

5) My hairdresser is openly gay, and her partner is a transgender person. We all live in a small town of 500 people, and no one gives a sh*t. Try getting an appointment with this girl—she’s booked solid every day. Although she DID fit Ken in for a straight razor cut because she just took a course and he’s one of the few guys in town who shaves his head.

And while I imagine these kinds of things happen in other places in the world, I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that they happen in Canada. But that worries me too, because there are good people everywhere, and things are still pretty sh*tty in other countries, so who’s to say that Canada won’t be next, or whether to some people, we’re already as bad as other countries? You can blame social media all you want for giving assholes a platform that they never had 20 years ago, but the fact is that assholes still existed then—they just made the people in their IMMEDIATE vicinity miserable instead of tweeting out their idiocy to a wide audience, or making ludicrous and ill-informed comments on national news articles.

At any rate, it’s time to see more of the world and find those little pockets of decency where I can. Because I know they exist. So have a great week–I’ll be coming to you from the UK for the next installment of mydangblog at the point where I eventually have wifi.

And now here’s a throwback to November 2014 that you might not have read on the weirdness of mail-order catalogues…

Wednesday: I wonder who exactly buys things from mail-order catalogues.

On occasion, we get mail order catalogues delivered to our house. There’s Added Touch, which features jewellery, clothes, and furniture. Why would I order anything from them, when I can buy the same things from actual stores, without having to pay shipping? We also get Signals, offering logic games and clever T-shirts with saying like “Don’t trust atoms—they make up everything” on them, and Bits and Pieces, which sells really cheap plastic garden ornaments and jigsaw puzzles of kitty cats and thatched-roof cottages. But the icing on the mail-order cake came on Wednesday, when we got, for the first time, a catalogue called Hammacher Schlemmer, which I think is German for “sh—t that you’ll never buy because it’s stupid and way too expensive”. Aside from the assorted remote control spy drones, the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, and the washable cashmere bathrobe (only $399.95), there were some really bizarre things available for purchase. Here are a few of my favourites:

Page 5: The Outdoor Heated Cat Shelter, $129.95. It’s a tiny doghouse for cats, which comes with a heated floor. It’s waterproof and can be plugged into any grounded electrical outlet. This, to me, is a paradox. You don’t like your cat enough to let it in the house when it’s cold or wet out, but you’ll pay $130.00 for a cathouse? Do you love your cat or hate it? Maybe it’s like Schrodinger’s cat—you simultaneously love AND hate it—either way, you probably shouldn’t have a cat.

Page 60: The Faux Fireplace, $69.95. The description of this item reads: “The removable fireplace decal that instills instant ski lodge coziness to a room otherwise devoid of winter’s most heart-warming tradition.” While the prose is lovely, let’s be clear—it’s a STICKER that looks like a fireplace. You just paid seventy bucks for a giant sticker, friend. It will not warm your room. The flames don’t move. The picture in the catalogue is of a man sitting in a wingchair, staring at the fireplace. Let’s be realistic—he’s staring at the wall. For the same money, you could buy a space heater, if it’s warmth you’re looking for, or for another hundred bucks, you could go to Canadian Tire and buy an electric fireplace with fake flames that actually move. If I was ever going to stick anything on my wall, it would be a life-size Johnny Depp. (I asked Ken if he was OK with that, and he said only if he got a life-size sticker of someone too, but he wouldn’t tell me who because he “didn’t want to be judged”).

Page 64: The Cyclist’s Virtual Safety Lane, $39.95. This ingenious invention consists of two laser beams that you mount on your bicycle to provide motorists a “visual indicator of a cyclist’s riding width”. This is also known as the “target zone”. Don’t people on bicycles already have enough problems with inconsiderate car drivers almost knocking them off their bikes without providing them a clear indication of exactly where you have to drive to do that? I admit, I’m not a huge fan of fanatical cyclists who zip around in their fake sponsorship outfits and torpedo helmets (I went through a post-Olympic phase of yelling “Where’s the peloton?!” out my car window when Ken and I would pass one of them on the road), but still, I don’t like to see anyone get hurt. And neither does Hammacher Sledgehammer, because on page 71, for an additional $199.95, you can also get a Bicycle Rear View Camera, just so you can see who’s bearing down on you and the rest of the peloton.

Finally, the most incredible and most useless item in the catalogue can be found on page 59. For the low, low price of only $345,000 (yes, over a third of a MILLION dollars), you can order a 6 foot tall robot. In the catalogue, it’s described as a “Celebrity Robot Avatar”, and has apparently appeared in movies, TV shows, and music videos. As a purveyor of pop culture myself, I have never seen this robot anywhere on screen. And just to clarify—it’s not actually a ROBOT. It’s a battery-powered, remote control metal can. It doesn’t do anything on its own. It’s controlled with “an intuitive wireless remote that is small enough to escape detection”. You can make it move forwards, backwards, and spin, as well as make it seem like it’s talking by speaking into a “discreet wireless microphone”. What kind of money do you have to make to spend $345,000 on a puppet? For 50 bucks, I’ll dress in a robot costume, come to your party, and have ACTUAL conversations with your guests. That’s right—I’m your robot butler, baby. Your swear-y, angsty robot butler.

My Week 148: Family Vacation, Star Wars Casting Choices, TBT (Throw Back Titus)

It’s been a kind of crazy, hectic week, what with us taking a mini-vacation to Blue Mountain with K and her girlfriend, the lovely V. The trip was in honour of K’s 19th birthday, and the best part was at midnight on the Wednesday, when we went into a local bar. At exactly one minute after midnight, K ordered a glass of scotch, and when the waitress asked for her ID, she whipped out his driver’s license like a boss. The waitress read it, her eyebrows shot up, and she laughed. “Congratulations!” K’s next goal is to go into the liquor store that she and Ken were recently kicked out of, because Ken was letting her carry some of the alcohol and there’s a ridiculous rule in Ontario that people under 19 aren’t even allowed to TOUCH anything, so they got told to leave. Seriously. My poor husband, who’s never done a single illegal thing in his life, got tossed from the LCBO. (Actually, he DID run a red light once, but in his defense, I was in labour, it was 3 in the morning, and who WOULDN’T run the light with an insane woman next to you screaming, “For f*ck’s sake!! Do you want me to have the baby in the car?! Why are you stopping?!”) So K’s plan is to go in and very obviously touch  as much liquor as she can and carry bottles around until someone confronts her, then she’ll whip out her ID again in the manner she’s been practicing, which is to say, very confidently and smugly.

If you’ve never been to Blue Mountain, the resort there is fantastic, with mini-golf, ziplining, treetop adventures, the Apex bag jump so you can pretend to be a stuntperson, and the Ridge Runner, which is like a combination rollercoaster/bobsled run down the mountain at top speeds (there are plenty of cheesy homemade movies on Youtube if you want to see how it works). Mini-golf is always a great family activity, but I have to admit that we take it seriously and play by the rules, UNLIKE the family behind us, who were playing “best ball” and kept dogging us at each hole, tapping their feet and sh*t because we were actually trying to make par and keep score instead of PICKING UP THE BALLS FOR YOUR KIDS AND PUTTING THEM IN THE HOLE IN A CAVALIER FASHION, LADY.

There was also a swimming pool where I would have been able to show off my awesome swimming prowess if it wasn’t for Ken:

Me: I’m going to do the Australian crawl. Spot me so I don’t smash into anything.
Ken: OK. Off you go. I’m watching.

10 seconds later:

Me: OWW. OMG, I just smashed my hand on the ledge. Why are you holding onto my ankles?! Are you trying to drown me? Let go!!
Ken: I was trying to help you straighten out. You were going all crooked.
Me: Are you drunk?
K: We were yelling at him to push you away from the concrete, but he kept trying to grab your feet.
Ken: It seemed like the best option. Plus, you’ve been drinking too—no wonder you can’t swim straight.
Me: Sigh. Fair enough.

(Before I go on to the next bit, I just want to quickly add that Blue Mountain has the best gift shops. I bought a pair of socks that say “This meeting is bullshit” on them, and I am totally wearing them to the next meeting about whether or not the percentages on the pie chart are accurate.)

Anyway, aside from the “pool incident”, we had a great time, and were pretty exhausted on the way home. At one point, we got passed by a truck, and the sign on the side said ‘Underground Investigations”, which got me thinking—what kind of business is that exactly? Private detectives? Sewer inspectors? People who work at cemeteries making sure that the holes are dug properly (or that the people in the coffins are really dead)? A secret agency that looks into other secret organizations? (of course, if you do that, it’s kind of stupid to advertise it on your truck). When we got home, I looked it up, and it turns out that it could also be a heavy metal band, or a TV reality show that follows the adventures of 4 plucky men who “follow clues to the source of hazardous liquids that flow into storm drains.” And now I really can’t decide which one I’d rather be—a rock star or a sewer detective—because both sound pretty cool, and there’s not technically much to choose between them aside from the hazmat suit, but that could also be your trademark as a heavy metal band. I mean, there are bands that perform in clown costumes, and bands that perform dressed like space aliens, so why not orange jumpsuits and gasmasks, am I right?

But an even better choice is “bucket or truck?” which I asked Ken as we passed a road crew trimming trees along the highway using cherry pickers:

Me: Bucket or truck?
Ken: Huh?
Me: Would you rather be the guy in the bucket or the guy in the truck controlling the bucket?
Ken: The guy in the bucket controls the bucket. The guy in the truck just sits there hanging out. So I’m going to say “truck”.
Me: The guy in the bucket gets to control the bucket?! I’m totally saying “bucket”. I’d be up and down and swooping around—it would be fun.
Ken: You’re just supposed to trim the trees.
Me: Seriously? F*ck that. That sounds boring and labour-intensive. I change my choice to “truck”.
Ken: We can’t both be in the truck.
Me: Fine. You go in the bucket then.
Ken: But I don’t want to be in the bucket…
Me: Stop being a baby and get in the damned bucket.

But later, in revenge for making him be the guy in the bucket, Ken informed me that I had to make K’s birthday cake yesterday, instead of today like I’d planned:

Me: Why? I was going to make it tomorrow morning.
Ken: No. It needs time to cool down before you ice it.
Me: Do you think I’ve never made a cake before and don’t know how to do it without all the icing soaking into the hot cake?
Ken: I’m just saying.
Me: You realize that if I make it now, you still don’t get to eat it until tomorrow, right?
Ken (pause): Yes. Sigh.

Friday Night: I ponder casting choices

On Friday night, we were tired from the trip and decided to rent a movie. The kids wanted to see Star Wars: Rogue 1 again, but as we were watching it, it occurred to me that the casting is pretty random when it comes to the aliens:

Director: OK. For this scene, give me a girl with elephant trunks for ears. Make her blue and half-naked. Also, I want a giant white sloth.
Costume Person: We need more fake fur!! Someone get to Len’s Mill Store, stat!
Director: Not too much fur–he needs to have cyborg parts.

Later…

Director: Now, for this scene, I’m gonna need a guy with a squid head, a woman in a toga, and a frog wearing a beehive for a hat.
Costume Person: We’re all out of beehives.
Director: NO! Don’t tell me that—it won’t be authentic without the beehive. FIND ME ONE! Oh, and give Forest Whitaker an oxygen mask to suck on.
Costume Person: What about the blind Asian ninja? Should I find him giant red shoes or something?
Director: Don’t be ridiculous! There’s such a thing as overkill, you know.

People have very strange ideas about what aliens might look like. Personally, I think if there ARE aliens living on other planets, they’re probably invisible. Either that, or they look like the members of a heavy metal band.

Throw Back Time

It occurs to me that many of you who only started following in the last year or so might have never seen some of these earlier posts, so I present to you a throw back to November 2014, when Ken and I first got Titus:

Friday: I realize that my dog is a bit of a dick.

So let me just say first that I love my dog. He’s awesome. We got him about 2 months ago, and he’s this big, black Labrador Retriever that another family had to give up. Now I know why. No, just kidding. Titus is actually like the best dog ever, but he has some bad habits that make me crazy, and I’m just going to vent a little.
• Tonight, he licked my pants FIVE times. Seriously. Five times. Do you know why? Because I dropped a Dill Pickle flavoured rice cake on my pants. I picked it up and gave it to him, which apparently is dog-ese for “lick the pants that the thing landed on.” (When Ken read this, Titus was sitting next to me and tried to lick my pajamas. When I objected, Ken told me that Titus had called me “a human smorgasbord.” He gives the dog a little too much credit.)
• Two days ago, he ate an entire bag of pitas. He has a voracious appetite. Since we got him, he’s eaten 2 full unopened bags of dog treats, a package of tortilla shells, 4 boxes of chicken bouillon cubes and a can of beef bouillon powder, a bag of grapes, a box of cherry tomatoes, an unopened box of Vegetable Thins crackers, and so on and so on. We have learned the hard way to make sure there is no food left out ANYWHERE, because he also has no issue whatsoever with vomiting. When there is no food, however, he will steal dishes out of the sink and carry them around the house, licking them lovingly. (Just for the record, we DO feed him his own food.)
• He likes to sleep on our bed. We’ve never had a dog that wanted to do this. I wouldn’t mind, except that he weighs almost as much as me, and insists on sleeping between Ken and me. And he likes to SPOON.
• He thinks the cat is another toy. She, however, does not appreciate his playful nature. Have you ever heard a very small cat growl from the depths of her soul, like a demon? Titus doesn’t seem to understand her objections to him, and wants to smell her ladyparts whenever possible. Naturally, this is putting up a barrier between them.

You’d think this would be another “worst case scenario”, but he also does this thing like when you’re petting him and you stop, he puts his nose under your hand and flips your hand up, so you understand that he still wants you to love him. And whenever he eats something he shouldn’t, he looks guilty (right before he throws everything up.) And when he jumps on the bed, slides over and puts his head on your chest and his arm around your neck, you’d forgive him just about anything. Well, I would. I can’t speak for the cat.

*As of right now, we’ve been well-trained to no longer leave food out, so the vomiting is a thing of the past. He and the cat have made their peace, and sleep together with us on the bed. Also, as it turns out, he’s a great conversationalist.

My Week 128: Quest for a Mini-Fridge, Titus is the New Zoolander

Wednesday: I buy a refrigerator

I recently got a promotion at work, and, for the first time in my career, I have my own office. Sure it’s just for a few months, but I was really excited. Not because of the office itself, but because the room is notoriously hot. My manager, who had just vacated it, having also been given a temporary promotion, said to me, “I’m leaving you the fan, because it gets really hot in there.” And I was like, “Sure, thanks,” but secretly, I will never use the giant floor fan because I’m always cold. Like freezing. ALL THE TIME. Except, in a strange twist of “middle-aged woman fate”, at night, where I can barely stand to have any covers on, and keep my condo at 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Nevertheless, I knew I would be just fine in the glorious hot office except for one thing: she also took her mini-fridge with her. And I wouldn’t care, except that I was secretly hoping for my own fridge because the refrigerator in the office kitchen is always overflowing, and people just shove your stuff to the back to make room for theirs. So I’ll put my lunch on one of the shelves in the morning, and by the time noon rolls around, it’s like an archaeological expedition to find it again. And when I DO find it, either shoved in the back all squishy and sh*t or upside down in the vegetable crisper, I’ve had to touch several other people’s lunches, which always makes me feel weird and strangely unsettled because I don’t know where these things have been, and also I don’t remember where they were to put them back in their proper places, so EVERYTHING IS F*CKING CHAOS. This may seem like a first world problem, but imagine if Bob’s sandwich was a goat, and Bob’s goat was standing in front of my goat, and I needed my goat, so I killed Bob’s goat and shoved its corpse into the back of the lean-to where the goats live. And I NEVER want to kill a goat, so this is why I need a refrigerator.

Anyway, I was sitting in my condo on Wednesday after work, pondering the whole fridge/goat issue, when I decided I would just buy my own damn mini-fridge. I live in the heart of the city, so I googled a couple of stores and found an absolutely awesome Star Wars mini-fridge at Bed Bath and Beyond. The one I wanted featured a young Hans Solo frozen in that slab of carbonite, which seemed apropos for a refrigerator. They didn’t have any available on-line, so I decided, at 6:00 pm on a February evening, to change out of my pajamas (stop judging me) and back into my clothes and undertake the journey two blocks down to the actual human store. Because now, this was a QUEST:

Bed Bath and Beyond: None in stock. The young salesman looked them up online. The entire continent was sold out. I wouldn’t have thought there were that many Star Wars fans who wanted mini-fridges.

Eaton Centre: I tried EB Games. They had a Star Wars waffle iron. The salesgirl told me to try the Sears on-line catalogue because “they had them in the Christmas Wish Book”. No, Sears. I will not wait for you to deliver this to me. I want it tonight and I shall have it.

Canadian Tire: Jackpot! No, not a Star Wars fridge, but “Retro” Coca Cola fridges in two sizes. I decided that, for the sake of expediency, that I could make my peace with not having Hans Solo forever screaming in agony in my office. I opted for the larger Coke fridge, which holds up to 18 cans of pop. But then I realized I would have to get it back to my office. Well, hell. I’d come this far—what was 17 pounds and 1 kilometre? The cashier fashioned a handle on the box out of packing tape and plastic bags and off I went. LIKE A BOSS.

Now, you may think that I looked slightly ridiculous walking down the busiest and longest street in Canada with a giant-ass refrigerator box, but trust me—there are plenty of people in the city centre who are WAY stranger and no one even gave me a second glance. Not even the guy who had tried to attack me the other day by threatening to put his cigarette out in my face, then tried to punch me in the head. (For real—it was random and scary and I may or may not have cried a little). He was now sitting on the corner with a sign that said “Spare change for weed”, which explains a lot about his behaviour, plus if he’d tried anything, I could have hit him with the fridge. So to sum up—a middle-aged woman carrying a refrigerator is not that interesting in downtown Toronto unless she’s wielding it like a weapon. I took it straight to my office and left it there to unpack in the morning. The concierge at the desk gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up, as if to say, “Another goat saved. Well done.” I went to bed that night feeling tough and cool for carrying the fridge back all that way by myself. Then I woke up at 3 in the morning, in agony from muscle strain, and had to take 2 Advil like the out-of-shape middle-aged woman I actually am.

The next day, I got in early, and opened the box. There was an instruction manual inside that was supposed to explain all about my glorious new refrigerator. On the front cover, there was a picture of the fridge and in bold AND italics, the words “Please Read These Instructions Very Carefully Before Use!” I was suddenly worried—how complicated was this going to BE?! The unit was made by Koolatron, which sounded like a German electronic dance music duo, so I prepared myself for some mindboggling, robot-helmeted directions.

The first thing inside the cover was “MODE SELECTION”. Luckily, there were only two modes, and I quote this verbatim:

ON – Move the sliding switch to “Cold”, the unit will cool and a green light will be on.

OFF – Move the sliding switch to “Off”, the unit will be off.

Seriously. It actually took 30 words to explain that. Yet, two comma splices.

The next thing was MAINTENANCE. There were several reminders, one in particular that “small tobacco or dirt particles in the socket or plug may affect performance”. What did these people think I’d be doing in my office?! Then there were a sh*tload of cleaning instructions about how to prevent odours and stains using charcoal and bleach. Who is the normal clientele for this product—a messy, chainsmoking serial killer?!

Then on the back, there was a rider on the warranty that the product was not covered in the case of “abuse or neglect”. Did I buy a refrigerator or a goat?! What kind of abuse could I perpetuate on a Coca-Cola mini-fridge? Like putting Pepsi in it or something? And neglect? I WAS planning on mostly ignoring it, but now I feel like I have to at least say “Good Morning” to it, or it will be sad and my warranty will be voided. Despite its deceptively complicated MODE SELECTION, this fridge was turning out to be pretty high maintenance.

Still, I plugged it in, and switched the mode to ON. The green light came on, which was a good sign, and the fan started to hum comfortingly. Now, how best to ensure that it works?

Me: Hey, do you have a can of pop?
L: I’m not sure. Why?
Me: I want to check if my new mini-fridge is working, and I thought if I put a can of pop in it, I would know because the can would get cold.
L: And you don’t like to drink cold pop, so you need me to give you a can…
Me: Right. Do you have any Coke? I don’t want to upset the fridge.
L: Actually, I do. Here you go. Oh, it’s so cute—and the can of Coke totally matches it!
Me: I know, right?!
Both: *high five and stare fondly at refrigerator*
Refrigerator: *whispers* I’ve found my forever home. Now I can chill. Sigh.

coke-firg

Saturday: Titus is a fashionista

Me: Hey, guess what? A friend of mine just sent me pictures of some dog coats and I bought one for you. She’s bringing it to work on Monday, and I’ll bring it home for you next weekend.
Titus: This is the best day EVER!! Let me see…Ooh, fancy!
Me: I’m glad you like it. It’ll keep you warm on those late night walks.
Titus: And the fedora you’re going to get me to match will keep my ears warm. I’d say “trilby” but I think my head is too pointy for one of those.
Me: Fedora? What are you talking about?
Titus: You’re buying me a coat that looks like a classic tweed Burberry trench coat! I can’t rock that style without a gentleman’s fedora. What do I look like—a hippie? Oh—also, I’m going to need Raybans—I think Wayfarers will complete the look.
Me: You’re getting a coat. Be satisfied.
Titus: Well, there goes Milan. I’d make a great male model, you know. Check me out. Blue Steel!
Me: Good god.

titus-model

titus-burberry