Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wild Dog Imray Bee Flex Closes it Off with a Bang

Yes!! (Shouting, as I do several kung fu motions ending in an arm-to-the-heavens thrust)

I have one more day of my old job, I'm running on a scant few hours of sleep this week, after having seen my friend off to South Korea and playing some poker. Then I have a day and a half off to move my clutter, party, and go to the System of a Down and Mars Volta concert on Friday in Toronto with Andy. Woot! They are both going to blow my mind!@!

I just trained for my wicked-ass new job today over conference call, so I'm feeling pretty fresh. I guess I'm going to be the big man on campus when it comes to career service connections. So that's exciting, and it's great integrated marketing experience. Something to be gung-ho about.

But ah Guelph! I'm going to miss this town, miss all the folkiness of it, miss biking, skateboarding and running around these lazy streets where you recognize everyone. I'm ready for a change though. Time to get down to business.

But only after a big fat week of fun and summer closing celebrations.

Monday, August 29, 2005

New Orleans is Floating

Read this, about how hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Mississippi this morning, causing floods and major damage. It has halted US oil production, causing surges in price. Evacuating most of the city, and sending more to shelters, resulted in traffic jams that barely crawled. There was fear that something like this could cause toxic spills and devastation to the floating casinos in its path. Because parts of New Orleans are below sea level, it is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes. The stories are chilling. Drowning seems like a terrible way to die. The fear of mounting seas, rain and the damage it causes for months and months as people try to rebuild homes, connect families, and reconnect power is hard to take.

Ironically, it reminded me of this song, by the band with an ironic name. Please excuse me for posting it if you are insulted by this, but when things are this bad, I try to find something to entertain me:

New Orleans is Sinking -by Tragically Hip

bourbon blues on the stree, loose and complete under skies all smokey blue-green i can't forsake a dixie dead-shake so we
danced the sidewalk clean my memory is muddy, what's this river that i'm in? new orleans is sinking man and i don't wanna swim

colonel tom. what's wrong? what's going on? you can tie yourself up for a deal he said, "hey north you're south shut you big
mouth, you gotta do what you feel is real" ain't got no picture postcards, ain't got no souvenirs my baby, she don't know me
when I'm thinking bout those years

pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire picking out the highlights of the scenery saw
a little cloud that looked a little like me

i had my hands in the river my feet back up on the banks looked up to the lord above and said, "hey man thanks" sometimes i
feel so good, i gotta scream she said gordie baby i know exactly what you mean she said, she said, i swear to god she said...

my memory is muddy what's this river that i'm in?

new orleans is sinking man and i don't wanna swim

Getting Closer

I read this post from Gulnaz, and it made me think of the trouble I put myself through sometimes just to feel that I am indeed sane. I give myself guilt-trips and make up rules for myself that I'm sure to break, only to pity myself. But then again, the goals I make challenge me, and although I may not accomplish them, I train myself to get closer. I am always struggling to get closer to somewhere where I'll feel comfortable with myself, where I'll feel fit, alert, intelligent, suave, computer-saavy, in control. But it only happens in glimpses. It's like chasing the sun, you can only do it a day at a time. You break your record little by little. Then I started to feel that this is the human condition. We're either terrified of death, or terrified to live. Either way, we deal with it in our own way.

Never to be Someone Else

My own mind torments me,
but I think this is a mastery of a new art,
the art of becoming,
and as I change,
I grieve not for the man that died in me.
Well perhaps a little,
-everyone longs for yesterday, but lives for tomorrow.
I thank him for showing me a friend, and passing him on.
Sure, he wasn't always himself, nor the person he was before that,
but he doesn't wish to be somebody else, because then how would he know it?
How would he see what dreams come from short-comings,
if he could trade all his failures, for someone else's luck?

@Copyright 2005

Saturday, August 27, 2005

No Other Like The Schottzter


Today Steve will be flying back to Halifax, and then on to St.Johns, Nfld. CAN, leaving us without an official health and safety representative (Howard has abandonned his post as pseudo health and safety representative as well). It will also leave us with one less helluva dude. Over the summer, he acquired more than 154,912 nicknames and growing.

He will be remembered for:

His loveable threats and general toughness of demeanour, ex. the welcomed question: "Do you wanna go or something?"

  • His rendition of "You are my sunshine" and overall musical enthusiasm while working on swing-stages, or with deafening tools, when you can't hear him.
  • His dedication to restoration, having served five summers demolishing, repairing and blessing architechtural structures.
  • His friendly and upbeat company.
  • His taste for music, politics, and law.

Filed under Heros

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Daily Toil for an Ultimate judgment?

I am now certain that I hate my job. After two weeks straight of the jackhammer, my hands felt like they had been injected with novocain, and I don't know how they managed to continue dangling from my body after my arms were long gone. Let's look on the bright side now though shall we? There is only 6 days left of the work, and I'm recovering. Today was a new plateau: I was freed from the jackhammer!!

Sorting out work issues
The other day I was really ticked off at Boss D, because I had gotten a call offering me another job that was actually in my field, not some hilarious mockery of my labor power, but a job, yes, in integrated marketing, (No, not advertising. I'm trying to steer myself towards PR, which is the other half of marketing, and much different) and he said I couldn't have Monday off to go to the training session. Unthinkable. Boss D is a workaholic who would never imagine "wasting" a days wages to participate in an interview that could translate into a job I'm actually interested doing for something other than the $$$, so him denying me was just enough to make me simmer a bit more. I was getting sick of everything, sick D's same old jokes, sick of wearing a hard-hat when my neck is already deforming under the weight of my head alone, and just sick it all, so I patiently resigned myself to just forget it. Obviously he's stressed about losing some of the crew this week already (Schotter) and so if I were to leave for one single day, the situation would look like a freeforall to him.

But anyway, it turns out that since I'm going back to school soon to finish my PR diploma, I've been referred to another agent after playing quite an extended game of phone tag with the first one. This one is working on getting me a job right on campus! Tony the tiger says: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!! Now I just have to hold on for a bit longer before I move out of this town, start school, hopefully start a new job, meet new people, and start fresh, but I don't know how easily I can completely sever all my current ties, or whether I really want to.

How the Weekend Affected my Mental Space
The weekend was busy. I jogged on Friday and went out with the boys, coalesced with prostitutes and thieves, got my fill of debauchery and poker. The moon was red again on Saturday, and I had this feeling of evil inside me, like something was a little off. On Sunday I was reflective and down, so I went to church with DW, which was an experience I haven't had for quite awhile. I very much enjoyed it for the singing, the sermon, and the reflection. Usually the bar is my place of worship on Sundays, and I usually play open mic, but wouldn't you know it? The one day that I'm in church and NOT at open mic, Hawkesley Workman, whose very song I was contemplating covering that night, shows up and jams with all my friends except me. He's a Pokeroo if you ask me. But I know you were here Hawkesley, watch out. Being with God was good too, but too bad they both didn't coordinate a little more.

Did you Say Sir Barrett was in Church?
So anyway, the whole sermon on Sunday about Amnon and Absalom (Samuel 2:13) and about God's chastisement of David, through his children via Amnon raping his half sister Tamar, then Absalom's exile as a result of him murdering Amnon for raping and ruining Tamar's life, as the result of David's mischievousness in having an affair with Bathsheeba, and his inability to deny his sons of their desires, regardless of his responsibility as a father and a king, which makes him feel a lot of grief, put me in a crazy mental space. I liked the literal ambiguity that I've never really taken notice of before in the bible: David grieves for his son, but which one? On the one hand, he has reason to feel bad that Amnon has been murdered, on the other, because Absalom is in exile for doing it, on the one, sadness because Amnon failed him as an heir to the throne, on the other anger because he did not teach him to be a proper King, on the one righteousness because Absalom did something to stand up for Tamar, who was raped, on the other self-pity and disgust, because he was one who naively handed her over (his own daughter!) to her rapist (his own son!).

This whole story is confusing and layered, but it made me realize and think about how it is common to empathize with two sides of a battle at different times. We are at times ignorant and justified only because we do not have knowledge enough to do the right thing ourselves. At other times, we think we know everything, and are quick to judge and take things into our own hands, but it is only God who really knows and rations out blessings and wretchedness. We play God. But to feel the power of grace, you must experience wretchedness. On the one hand you have the path to sin and self-indulgence. Amnon loved his half-sister, dwelled on it, then he raped her and grew disgusted with her. Then you have Absalom who was angry and had his men kill Amnon for doing it. That is thugish.

Which one of the two brothers is nobler? It is easy to say Absalom: because rapists deserve to die. But this is the tragedy of the story -Absalom had nothing to do with it really except that he loved his sister and hated that his brother ruined her fortune. All of the misfortune came from David, and was seconded on his children. David drove Absalom away from him, because as King, he was like the sole proprietor of justice (next to God) but he neglected his family, and made them destroy and drive each other away. If that's a microcosm for society, he's doing bad civil management. Poor sinning David.

The moral of the story, as far as I can tell, is that it is never right to sin, but that grace is for sinners as sinners. You should do everything you can to prevent sin before it grows, but if you can't, you must rehabilitate sinners.

It was very fitting that the service ended with "Amazing Grace"

So Why did we get this Hob-Schobb Bible Lesson?
My reason for telling this story is because then, come Monday morning, my mind is tripping. I went from wild Friday night to Sunday night, when I ended up being invited to the pastor's house to drink coffee and play with his lovely though eerily well-behaved and cornicopious children, while discussing such issues as whether life really matters at all after death. I'm still thinking about it up on that swing-stage, and what I have done to deserve God's chastisement (which is the jackhammer). I don't think of God as a punishing malevolent force, but a good God. Still, I think God works in mysterious ways and could teach me a thing or two if I didn't know how to predict him straight away, and there seems to be truth in the form of poetic expression to the idea that in this life we pay for things that we neglect or take advantage of or waste. Those things could include: me neglecting to find a better job this summer, me not taking lots of prozac and trying to enjoy jackhammering as much as possible, me not taking steroids and becoming a monster fit for jackhammering, me not being decisive enough in choosing my temporary profession, the list goes on. I can blame myself or others for the things that I do in this life, but God is the one that knows the details.

Ministry Put into Action
Nate has commented before that jack-hammering is a job that seems like it would be a proper reform for rapists and murderers. Is that the kind of crime I'm performing divine retribution for?

Now that it is mid-week, I don't really know and I don't really care. I'm off to an art show just this moment, which is why this post might be a tad disorganized. I apologize, but I wanted to stay in touch, and I thought I might as well do it now while my server isn't crashing like it has been lately. It seems when things are busy and you're excited about the moment, the big questions don't matter. When you think about the big questions, all the details seem irrelevant. Both extremes seem essential though. So I think it's a balance. Don't get too caught up in thinking about the universal doom, nor the particular pleasure, but combine and synchronize both. I'm not saying it's easy, but this is something I'm going to continue to try.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

What's in a Name?

For those of you interested in astrology or the kabala, you should try this. It's fun! It gives you an analysis of the meaning of your name and how it is supposed to effect your life. The idea is that your name creates your life, influenced by the time you were born and how it combines with your other names.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Howard and I Have a Fight

"Good morning Sir Barrett!!" resonated Howard's awfully energetic voice at about 7:35am today, as he saluted and passed me before I had the chance to respond. He was wearing his blue cape, which I have trouble taking seriously, and wearing a T-shirt that he designed himself, which has the skull-and-cross-bones (or poisonous symbol) with a big red circle and diagonal line through it. He says it's his "pledge to health and safety" but I just call it his "anti-poison" symbol. "I see that Howard's at full throttle again" said Andy, and grinned widely.

Howard was running around like usual, more marching I suppose, puffing out his chest and exuding a full-of-himself mode. I had just poured myself a coffee and I wasn't ready to start up the jackhammer for a little while (Boss D gives us time to wake up before we wake everyone else up with our noise at around quarter to eight). Howard obviously had a fire in his belly and wanted to be the big trailblazer. I suppose that in his mind he had important matters to deal with, and couldn't fritter his time away sitting with the actually employed crew.

Boss D said:
"I guess I'll have you go up with him. Make sure he doesn't get tangled in the power cables this time, and I guess I'll get you guys to fill those patches on the eighth floor." "OK" I said. I couldn't fight it. I was going to have to supervise Howard again.

First we walked around getting things all set up: untying the ropes from the swing-stage that are attached to the roof, mixing some cement, and hooking the jack-hammers up to the air compressor. I did most of it, but Howard would blend in, while he whistled to the tune of "Little Cabin in the Woods".

There was a can of paint that someone else left out. I was about to pack it away but the lid wouldn't fit properly and Howard put his hand on my shoulder (which tends to piss me off) and said:
"No, no, no, Barrett, this simply won't do. Let me see that. You've got it all wrong." I got up and gave him the screwdriver so that he could bend the clamps onto the bucket. Even though it frustrates me, there's no point trying to resist Howard's aid when he decides to take over. "This lid has something peculiar about it. It is all too wrong for this bucket entirely! This is balderdash! Let me tell you something my son: women are very much like buckets." (groan. Another analogy!) Howard picked up another lid that I didn't see and started fastening it. "Rather, a man is like a bucket, and women are like lids." "But buckets are more vaginal than lids are." I argued. "I am not talking privates you pervert! This is not a Freudian psychoanalysis, I am trying to give you an important lesson! What I mean is, that every bucket has its proper lid. Every man has his proper woman, every head has a hat, hand a glove, belt a see my point. A man may have to search across the seas to find his her, or stretch his every ligament, or if he is someone suited to idleness, his unworthy soul may be so lucky as to stumble across the girl next door. On the other hand, he may go years without slaying the proverbial dragon, devoting his studies to her arts, writing encomiums, holding fast, and beating his breast for the love of some damsel, BUT!" And when he said "BUT!" his volume rose and he punctuated it with a pause and with his finger pointing at the sky, "...But! When he finds that one woman, she will be a perfect fit."

"Do you believe that Howard? That there is the one and only one perfect fit?" "Well, there may be others that can be banged into place if you intent on forcing them, and there may be those synthetically designed to fit if.." "Howard, just answer the question!" "Yes, I believe in true love." Wow! Howard never talked like this! I didn't think "love" was in his vocabulary. Before Pamphilia, the most romantic thing Howard had ever done was play chess with his maid. I had to push it a bit further. "Is Pamphilia the lid to your bucket?" I asked. Howard turned beet red, but when I looked into his eyes, I thought I saw them glisten with happiness. "She is."

So that was Howard's idea of how love worked.

Then we went up and started punching out holes in the concrete slabs with our hammers. I was expecting disaster but Howard was actually pretty good. He drilled in deep within moments. He caught me gawking and didn't even stop but smiled and winked while continuing to hammer with an almost unsettling expertise. After awhile he stopped and wiped his forehead. "I've never seen you jackhammer Howard." I commented. Then I got some explanation: "Yes, it reminds me of Istanbul in '99. I was just passing through on my way to sea, visiting the historic sites where the greatest sultans lived. I walked on the same stones as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Howsoever, I suppose you could say that I was part of a special emergency crew that formed to deal with things after they became such a dreadful mess." Howard had never told me about being in Turkey. What was he doing there? What does this have to do with jack-hammering? "Yes, after the earthquake hit, they were desperate for those of us skilled enough to rescue the victims that were trapped. It was a horrid affair, and quite terrifying. I was saved by sheer accident, but it seemed like divine intervention that I was handed a jackhammer at just the critical moment, by the hand of Turk. The man had the hammer, but wasn't in the position to use it. I must admit I didn't even know what it was at first, but I knew there was serious business at hand. There was one Howard who wasn't going to let those poor people down. I picked it up fairly quickly, considering that I was under acute pressure. As I was digging through the mess, I pulled away the rubble, and soon enough I saw a hand waving. I pulled a woman out and she was badly hurt, but she was conscious enough to scream out in pain. What amazed me was that she was still holding her cat!" "Wow Howard! That's quite a story!" I had to admit it. It was. "But why did the man just happen to have a jack-hammer and just happen to give it to you." It seemed a little too strange and spontaneous to be true. "Well, actually, he was a construction worker working on a building just like this one here. Then the buidling started to shake and it toppled over and a bronze statue fell on his head and he was killed." "Oh, that's too bad. I see. So it wasn't as if you were part of the Red Crescent Society sent on an official mission to help save lives?" "No, not exactly." "No? So you just happened to be strolling in Turkey when you stole a jack-hammer off of a dead man in an earthquake, which you then figured out was a jack-hammer, which you then you used to break people out of the carnage with?" "That is correct," answered Howard matter-of-factly. "I also saved a cat!" He added, seeming very proud, but as it turns out I was pretty sure that I didn't recall Howard being an emergency worker sent to Turkey for that reason. He's just lucky. He gets thrown into everything.

Then it was lunch time and we lowered ourselves to the ground to head over to the break room. Howard and Boss D talked about explosives again. D was in the military and Howard was asking him about using phosphorous in bombs to give them a glow like incendiaries. Boss D got talking about napalm and dynamite, demonstrating the effect of their destruction with large gestures and yelling "BLAM! BOOM!!!" after every mention of a bomb, just to make sure we understood that they were that powerful. I went outside to read and take a lie-down on the 'sleeping grass.'

After lunch we went up to throw cement into the holes that we had chipped out with our instruments of demolition. We took balls of cement and threw them as hard as we could to get them packed tightly into the holes in the slabs. Even though the balls wouldn't travel more than a metre from my hand into the cracks, Howard still felt it necessary to rate each of my throws, saying: "Good sidewinder. Ah! Excellent curve-ball!" and so on. I don't know how he does it, but he was sincerely engaged. Then he got into critiquing me with things like: "that pitch was a little off." or "Now, don't give the batter too much advantage. I think if this were baseball you wouldn't be playing for the major leagues." "Yeah, well if this were baseball, you wouldn't even be on the field."

After awhile we got into our own work and things were going smoothly for awhile, until I looked over and Howard was standing in front of one of the patches with his eyes rolled up in his head and his hands caressing the mud lightly. I could see that he had deviated slightly from our priority, which was to repair the structural damage of the balcony, and had instead decided to do some of his own sculpting. His hands rested on what appeared to be some of the finest breasts I had seen in awhile. "Howard! What the hell are you doing!?" Howard shook out of his reverie and cleared his throat, "Nothing, nothing at all." Then I asked him about Pamphilia, what she was up to, how the rallies were going. He said she was distressed lately that she was not pretty enough for him, which was "absolutely ridiculous" he said. "She is worried that she doesn't look like Jessica Simpson, that her hair is too long, or too short, or that her skin isn't fair enough. I cannot tell her often enough how beautiful she is, how I adore her almond eyes, and how she doesn't need to worry about me pandering to the likes of other women. She makes me coo." "That's nice. So do you see marriage in your future?" "HA!" Said Howard. This "HA!" seemed like him downplaying the consideration in his own mind. "I see pelicans and mulberries in my future! This is not a time to be talking of marriage! We are both very busy!"


We worked a bit more, then Howard asked about "that fine European princess" that I visited when he met Pamphilia. "She was a feisty cat. Where is she and why doesn't she send us gizzards anymore?" "She thought you were a jerk Howard. I'm surprised you remember her." It was true. When she met Howard the once, he tried to kiss her hand and she pulled away and told him to leave her apartment. Somehow Howard smoothed things over and they ended up studying together. She liked Howard's rock collection and she showed him how to do a proper dissection on a goat. (This came in handy when Howard needed to do autopsies to find out why his goats weren't producing optimum milk yield for his homemade ice cream). "I always liked her even if she didn't fancy me so much. She was such a bright young lady, and such vigour she had! Why did she leave you? You should have been kinder to her." I didn't really want to talk about it with Howard, but I had a friend who I deeply offended because I got too nosy about a friend of hers, and she told me to stop bothering her after things turned sour. "I tried to be kind, but she took it as meanness. She would get angry when I'd joke around." I explained. Still, I haven't figured out why I made her so angry or why she stopped talking to me. I felt bad because I upset her. Then Howard offered his advice: "It is one thing to joke, but quite another to joke about those who are close to others. That is bogus. I thought perhaps she could have been your 'lid' Barrett. You had feelings for her to that effect, as far as I gather. Did she simply start to acquire more passionate feelings for the rubbish man?" Here he was joking and being all light about the downfall of my relationship with someone I thought was close to me, and he's warning me about doing the same to others! Now Howard was proding. "He's not a garbage man, he's a book salesman." "Yes, Pamphilia said she saw her at the beach the other day, sun-tanning...with an accomplice." I was thinking: "Shut-up Howard!" but he was obviously egging me on. I concluded the conversation by trying to put a lid on it: "Whatever man, it's bunk that she doesn't want to talk, because she was a good friend. Friends 'see through the act, but they still enjoy the show.' I don't know why, but for whatever reason, she was putting on an act with me, or she doesn't enjoy the show anymore, I don't know which, but I wish I could make it up to her. She suddenly abandoned me and I think she's probably just confused, but I hope she's doing well." I do. I want her to be happy, but I also want to be part of it. However, I think too much about hypothetical situations like that. Howard had the nerve to have the last word: "Yes. Hopefully you'll have better luck next time."

Just then, Nate came walking by underneath our stage, yelling "BLAM! BOOM!!" mocking Boss D. Howard took immediate offense and turned around abruptly to yell back at him. "Nathan! That is very rude behaviour! Unacceptable! You could try to show some respect for your elders." Nate looked up for a moment, then, in the same tone as Howard, he said "Howard, you can suck me." To add to his comment, Nate used the hammer that he was carrying to make a masturbatory gesture. This sent Howard into a bit of a rage, and he clenched his teeth and sucked air through them, muttering curses under his breath: "that wretched boy! I will have him in for it one of these days! He will see my wrath!" Apparently Howard is a little more protective of my boss than I expected. I asked Howard why he took things so seriously, and he said "well, it makes a difference whether or not you're going to do things for real or in the mode of a fool. I choose not to be a fool, so that's why I take this job seriously." "But Howard, this isn't even a job for you. You don't even get paid. Why do you come and work here?" "I am the guardian of health and safety. You may choose to think of your livelihood as a game of poker, but I will not endanger my friends." So Howard was here for my benefit!! "But Howard, we already have a health and safety rep: Steve!" Then Howard just shrugged and acted as if that was of no influence. "Others may hold official titles, but father Howard is watching out for you." Father Howard??? Sometimes I don't believe him. "Howard, I don't need you to look out for me. I'm fine. You need to chill out." Sometimes I wish father Howard wasn't watching out for me, but how do you get rid of him? I wanted to ask him why he does the things he does, why he refers to himself in third person, why he doesn't just travel like he usually does, flying by the seat of his pants.

Back to the holes in the slabs. You have to first brush the surfaces with a diluted version of the cement. This is called "slurry," but to get the liquid all the way to the back of the holes, you have to be quite violent with the brush. Slurry often sprays out and you get it all over you, so I was doing it the way I always do, and just 'givin' er'. Then Howard yelled "Stop! What are you doing?! Who are you? Pollock the painter? You have to thrust in a more forward fashion." Then he started doing it, moving his body like he was throwing darts, but it was spraying all over anyway. I took the brush back and said, "like this?" Then I flicked it right in his face. He sputtered and shook. He looked completely shocked. Then, for a moment, I realized I had taken it too far, and he said "well, aren't you a rotten little rodent!" Then he jumped at me. I resisted, but he was flailing and punching in an unpredictable way. I had his head in a hold faster than he could say "Heidegger" and grabbed a mortar-ball and shoved it into his mouth. He picked up a rusty stick of rhebar and did a backhand swing to smash me on my head. The bastard probably could have killed me, but I had my hard-hat on. I was furious! I caught the bungee cord from off of the stage, and I was going to use it to strangle him, but he smacked me again and we both tumbled over on top of each other, like lovers in the heat of the moment. I grabbed a hammer and started hitting his fingers to get them off of me. "Ouch! Ouch! You rogue!" He yelled and then put his fingers in his mouth to suck on them. I bet it stung, but now we were both exhausted. We both lay down and panted for awhile, but then he got up and said: "Take me down from here. I'm not working with you another second." "That's fine!" I said. "No one likes you anyway!" I'm not sure that this is true. Howard can be extremely charismatic at times, but I was totally pissed. We drove down the wall in silence, until we were on the ground and he unhooked himself violently and angrily. "You can sort out this problem Barrett. You won't have any help from me." He said. What did it matter? I had been doing this work for two summers in a row! "Take a hike Howard! Take a hike to Timbuktu, before I knock you there!" What a guy! He threatens to just walk off the job! I didn't even know what to expect next, but he ripped off his harness, and I could see that his lip was bleeding slightly. "I hope you sleep in a bed of brambles." He said, so vehemently that I could see the spit and blood fly together in the air. Then he simply walked off. I was stunned.

I had to work with Boss D for the rest of the day, and Boss D said I looked a little "shaken up" but I said that Howard and I just had an accident involving some falling plywood and he didn't ask too many questions. The whole episode made me think about how it escalated, and how Howard, despite his eccentricities, was actually just a sensitive person deep down inside. I had projected all these feelings I had about him because I feel like so many people misunderstand him and just dismiss him as a weird dude, but that he's always been there for me.

When I got home, there was no Howard. I bet he went to the pool hall to burn off steam. It was such a weird day but I guess they happen every once in awhile. Oh well, he needs to know that people don't appreciate his arrogance. He needs to add some new Howardianisms to his book.

Filed under Howard Wayword

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Final Countdown

12 days left! Woot! Then, if the constellations be gracious, I will never wear a hard-hat again! I sing the song "Final Countdown" and tick down the moments in my head. It's what keeps me going. We are stepping up the oomph! to get as much done as possible, but frankly I don't give a form-board. I will miss will my crew: Boss D, Steve, Andy, Nate, Chris, and Howard, though some more than others.

I would tell you more, but now the evil step-mother that lives upstairs (who I will also be rid of in 2.5 weeks) has just informed me that I must clean the bathroom. I know I leave concrete in the drain and toothpaste on the mirror but ughhhhhh! I don't want to clean. Not now!! Now I'll have to scrub and wipe while I listen to her talk on the phone about how she didn't just hear that her boyfriend wants to get engaged or, while she talks about how some movie is SO good or how she's SO tired, or whatever her SO of the day is. She'll be lazing about painting her toenails, flipping through a cosmo, and flash me a hairy eyeball, because I'm the weird man that lives in her basement, who comes home and washes the dirt off himself every day after work. Oh well, I guess everyone has to be a Cinderella one day or another. It is my turn. I just cleaned her dishes too because they were in my way, but she thinks she's a princess. Time to sort her cotton balls and polish her mirror, mirror, on the wall. To the bathroom! Haarooooouquen!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

For the Love of Music, and Disestablishmentarianalism, of Course

We got to Kimbercote music festival at 2pm on Saturday, not sure what to expect, simply glad we had not gotten lost at all. There was a registration tent right in the entrance where we were greeted. The organization for the weekend was quite thorough. We recieved a pamplet printed with vegetable ink on recycled paper explaining the entire line-up for the weekend, which workshops would be included, plus additional rules and expectations for the Kimbercote retreat centre, nestled in the Beaver Valley, on the Georgian Bay.

The atmosphere was of a communal activist mentality. We were encouraged to engage in lively discussions about the dangers of prescription drugs like anti-depressants, take a canoe ride, or gather herbs from the forest. Andy and I contemplated playing the life-sized chess game, but spent most of our time hiking through the various trails, setting up our tent, and listening to the acts on the Kimbercote barn stage.

I was disappointed by the turn-out, because it couldn't have been more than 70 people that attended. When I played at 4pm, there were several people on the lawn, but not many. As well, I had to grudgingly forfeit Stella for a borrowed semi-acoustic-electric guitar because I didn't have my electric amplifyer, and they didn't have one either, contrary to my previous beliefs about what a music festival usually stocks.

The area where the festival took place was gorgeous. From where the tent was pitched, you could see far across the landscape to the hills that face them, some of which are open as ski resorts. The Kimbercote kitchen served up some food that was quite tastey for vegan dishes, but of course I had to race back to civilization today in order to get some red meat. The other performers were a mix of spoken word groups, percussion ensembles and funk bands.

Overall it was a good experience, but I realize that I'm not accustomed to living like a hippie. I think it's important that people conserve and that they're concerned about human rights and the environment, but I have trouble taking people seriously if they're so left wing that they live on a different planet. I get lost in conversations about gender identity and feel nauseous when I see women with more armpit hair than I have. However, I feel that much more refreshed coming back to my reality, where life is just a commodity, society is a melting-pot, and everything is so convenient that I just snap my fingers. Yes, call me gluttonous, but I am grateful for mass-production. Technology makes things so fast, and I'm addicted to it.

If I did learn something this weekend, it's that I shouldn't throw my electronic gadgets into the garbage. Landfill sites have too much wasteful and toxic energy. The CD players, headphones and TV that you see in this picture are all examples of things that should be turned over to an electronics disposal unit or donated to friends or second-hand component dealers.

I may not be a hippie, but I'll try not to throw my junk in their backyard, because they were kind enough to invite me into it.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

First Big Show: Kimbercote Festival in the Wings

Showtime in 12 - 0.5 hours. Very excited/nervous/elated. I'm going bring Stella, my fender stratocaster, and Lucy, my Sigma classical (to soothe me and for the openess of it's full auditory expression in rehearsing the songs for the big stage beforehand) and drive about 2 hours north of Toronto to a retreat centre operated by Kimbercote organization. It will be a roadtrip, yes, and a voyage à souvenir.

Andy, my big bad poker-playing opponent, and coworker durant l'été, will accompany me for the love of music and basically just to see what unfolds. (He is a loyal). If you knew Andy, you'd realize how much he is superior in karma to a lucky rabbit-foot. When we work together, we are usually tied to harnesses, but this time will be our moment of liberty, our once-again weekend escape. We are already now unchained! I feel ready to rock. "Into the inferno we go" -Billy Talent?.

I've been singing the songs for my set non-stop, out loud and in my head. Songs that I wrote in highschool, and even ones I know I most definitely may still be writing and tweaking, not that that will effect the current portion of the songs. My scenic route through the surreality of daytime is an unchained melody of radio-like bursts broadcasted to the pre-articulatory loop of my temporal lobe. These mental laser-beams keep me entertained, especially because they are erratic, and more connected to my dark, earthy sense, than the rest of my methodically and scholastically trained mind. Music is something that cannot be taught. It takes practice and passion. It drives me. Rhythum and tone boils up through loose and dreamily-wired connections from the subconscious of my brain, integrating flash-bulb memories to motivate the protagonist of my verse and delivery, this concept or node, I imagine, travels/translates to the frontal lobe, where decisions and personality manifest into a pattern, is kept rhythumically consistent by the cerebellum. It then becomes recognizeable and hopefully familiar, like a face.

I plan to play variations of cover songs that I've fallen upon and grown to cherish and songs I've written and morphed into new things, songs that I've gone to for refuge, when the situations that have inspired them vaguely make sense, and songs that stick with me, like a ghost of the child I once was; the ghost of the child I will always be in some way or another.

Here's an example of a song (just the chorus) I'm going to cover, based on the original by John Denver, covered by Neil Young:

Four Strong Winds

"Four strong winds that blow lonely
Seven seas that run high
All these things that don’t change come what may
Now our good times are all gone
And I’m bound for movin’ on
I’ll look for you if I’m ever back this way"

Yes, this promises to be an enlightening and challenging experience, this weekend. The threat of one de-tuned string could pillage the human ear beyond redemption, and that would cost me an entire audience. I must be prudent in my vocalization and placement of finger.

I've never had to worry about mechanical or technical failure in the past because I've mostly always relied on borrowed and pre-tuned instruments and trustworthy equipment. So I've never had to be as vigilant and observant as now. However, this event will supposedly supply proper patch-cords and reliable amplifyers, so I don't need to curse and bend my cable in order to get consistent volume. I should be fine. All I need to worry about is my Stella.

I have actively involved myself in caressing her and nurturing her to her fullest potential recently, and I fear that because of the intimate interaction that has become routine, I may indeed be falling for an inanimate object, not that you really need to know. I just hope that the intonation of my fretboard holds out...

My Stella is beautiful, but frail. She is mortal.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to write to you lurkers and joggers and rampant Internet surfers. You are an audience worthy of comparison to any concert-going folk. It feels good to be in the centre of it for this moment, looking out. Besides the deaf, I've never come across someone who doesn't have a preference for one sort of music or another, and what do people of all different tastes communicate to me in that mutual absorbtion of vibratory stimulation? Possibility. What better way is there to bring people together in sync, than collectively faced point-blank range at a large musical outlet? I believe music is sacred and it's meant to be shared, like knowledge. Yet, it can be intimidating to be a performer because the standard seems like it has to be statistically higher than ever before these days. We have American Idol on TV (not that half of them aren't horrible). As our population rises, so does the clutter, and so does what rises above it, which is another reason for me to live in suspense to see the other performers. Who knows, one might put us all to shame.

But I hope to gain an insight into the diversity of reception of the music, because it's bound to be read through multiple layers.

Beautiful words and songs are meant to be sung, and if this were indeed a 'once upon a time' deal, I would just be glad to have had it as a novel opportunity. I am afterall, playing for who-knows-who, and without a clue. But that holds potential for so much more freedom. I am not playing for anyone identifiable. The music can be drawn out through raw, unpressured coaxing.

I would like to perform transcendentally, as an experience no more isolated than singing in my shower.

Anyway, I feel the invigoration. I'm going to play some Metric and Neil Young. For me, the vibe of John Denver's "Four Strong Winds" is very touching, and I can't help but feel nostalgic when I sing it. It will be a good preterito.

Filed under Events

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Switzerland, As Seen by PJ, From a Train

My friend PJ took off this summer to go to Switzerland. His father was a citizen, so therefore so is he. It was a surprise when I found out, but that PJ would surprise me doesn't surprise me at all.

We've known eachother since grade 7, and talked many a discussion about philosophy or just plain old nonsense atop many a sandhill, or over many a brew. PJ is PJ, and there is no other way to describe him.

I missed him, his wit, his charm, his debonair, and so I asked his whereabouts, then I heard that he had been in a dreadful accident, hence the neckbrace. Through several emails, he informed me he was alright, despite a little damaged, and gave me a link to his site and pictures, which is here

Here's a trackback of our correspondence:

"Hello everyone, The much belated mass email has arrived. For those of you who did not know, I have taken myself back to the Fatherland to live and work. It is here where I hope to rediscover my Swiss roots; to embrace at least half of my heritage; and to find out just what truly makes this funny little muddle called PJ. I got a job at an Irish pub here in Fribourg and have found an apartment that I will likely be moving into soon. It, like everything else here, is just a little bit more expensive than what I can afford, but I will worry about that later. For now, it's the old architecture, the swimming in the various canals, and of course, sheltering myself from the seering heat. I welcome all of your emails.

"Damnit! I really wonder who got it and who didn't. Ah, who cares.. Anyway, the 'new's is that I got the job and I've been working here. I'm going to post some pics soon, but I'm at the really really expensive internet cafe right now and so I haven't the time.. And it's Switzerland! But read on, and I'll talk to you later,

"Uh,...............................PJ? What's this about me hearing that you are in Switzerland and got in some crazy car accident where you flipped three times, burst into flames, and somehow got out alive,...with a broken neck?!#$ Are you OK???????????????/ I don't know if this is just information that's taken on mutation from the game of telephone but would you please email me back to indicate your status: dead, living or otherwise? I hope Switzerland is that wonderful place that you hold close to your heart and your hand. May the hills be alive, with the sound of music.

"Yes, the accident -- nasty business, that. *HA! Still funny with a broken neck!*

And if the sound of my tip-typing away does not alleviate the fear that I am no longer living, then let me assure you that I most certainly am, Coronel.

Actually, I've had this thing on for 2 weeks and 6 days now; but tomorrow.. oh tomorrow. It's the big day when PJ goes back to the hospital where the nice doctor will do more xrays to see if I've recovered.

Coming back from a Jamiroquai concert, no less!

Anyway, if you haven't been getting my mass emails, then you're welcome to check out some pictures from the homeland here: (there should even be some of me in this bluenoose).

Tschüß and all of that,

So I look forward to hearing more about PJ's adventures. Unfortunately the accident occured when he was a passive passenger, so he couldn't do anything about it. His injury effects his work, but at least he's alive and doing well.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jackhammering on an Old Woman's Balcony

An old woman scurries to clean her balcony the enth time today.
I just dropped another piece of rubble in her geraniums.
Why wait until it gets any worse?
She'll get a start on things, while there's still time.

And the tedium keeps her busy.
Not much longer now, surely.
At her age, keeping the mess to a minimum
should take her to the end of her days.

She measures not more than three feet tall, with her back hunched.
So light and brittle, to pick up a bowling ball would make her whole body crumble, from her hands to her feet.
But her fingers still grasp, and the world isn't through with her yet!

Her broom sweeps drearily, perhaps melancholy.
She looks at the ground: where she can still turn her neck.
Her eyes, a weak gray-white, like cauliflower.
She pushes off the dust and dirt to fall down below,
which gets caught up in a gust of wind-
Fly away!!

All the past gone,
like the worn away foundations of concrete.
The people,
The palaces she might have seen,
when she was younger and braver, scattered.
She was once not this scrivelled, dried up husk.

I didn't mean to smash her flowerpot.
I would have hosed off her floor with a high-powered hose for her.
"We're going to clean the balconies when we're all finished, just so you know."
I wanted to explain.
I felt bad.
Does she hear me?

She is sitting, smoking a cigarette, staring off at another time.

That was a different time,
Was that just yesterday?
I thought I remembered something falling and something scraping, and there was such a mess to deal with. You should have seen!
Who knows when anything is anymore? For heavens sake!

They need to stop giving children such weapons of mass destruction!
@Copyright 2005 SirBarrett

Friday, August 05, 2005

Chaos, and Much Ado

artwork by Chris Cann *
So it was a long week for a four day week (Monday was a holiday). After the move and all the rigging, we started jack-hammering, breaking big chunks of concrete off of the balconies with fifteen pound air-pressurized chizels. When you press the lever, they bounce up and down like jack-rabbits mating. However, their weight and awkwardness kills your arms. I think we were all ready to die. I think it was also a strange week for many people. I found out that a girl I was interested in is, as it turns out, Lesbian. It's either that, or she just likes making out with other girls. Sanjay got stranded in Toronto coming back from his new job at Rogers because a plane from Air France, flight 358 overshot the runway and burst into flames, constricting traffic on the 401. Luckily, no one was killed.

Nate and I had a stage accident. We wanted to swing our stage into the balcony so that it was just sitting on the ridge of the panels but somehow the button for "down" on the stage got punched in and jammed, so even after he got off the stage, the stage continued descending of its own will, though perched dangerously on half of the balcony. There was a scary moment when I held onto the balcony above me because the stage was about to tip right over, threatening to send all our tools and equipment plummeting down 10 storeys. Thank goodness Nate has quick reaction time. He punched the emergency stop button and we both had a sigh of relief.

Andy Carruthers turned 22 today! We're going to get him loaded and possibly play some ping-pong. Andy is the biggest, baddest, best sportsman and competitor I've met. His hospitality shows through his invitations to poker or fussball or into his home. He always picks me up on time for work, and expresses his determination by knocking on my door for as long as it takes to wake me up, on bad days. His girlfriend should feel ashamed that she didn't remember that it was his birthday. Perhaps she'll still have some way to make up for it ;)

I'm looking ahead to school now, because I know it's big year number 2, the final year of my Public Relations diploma. I'll be looking for a (volunteer) job placement for second semester. In the meantime, I have to get everything rolling and conclude my time in Guelph. People are moving away or changing schedules, so that all takes adaptation. I haven't been able to practice music much with my new-forming band, so that is another thing.

I'm very excited to perform on Saturday next weekend (Aug 12-14) for MusiCHAOS, an annual festival at Kimbercote farms. Admission for the weekend is only $20 and includes meals. Kimbercote is a progressive community committed to environmental and social justice. They provide tours and operate as a retreat centre. I'll be playing originals and one or two covers, but in the meantime I must practice to be perfect.

Work will last right up until the week before school, so I'll have to move back home, learn how to drive standard, pickup my books and passes, and get set to go full steam ahead. I'm kinda nervous but it hasn't really set in yet. I'm just excited that things are all moving quite seamlessly right now. If I can make myself be organized and do all my homework promptly, I shouldn't have too much on my plate, but it might take some time to search out my ideal part-time job: like working at a library, or being a receptionist.

Ok, well, fridays are not for sorting all the details out. Now it's time to go see the birthday boy.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Montreal Highlights



It didn't take long for me to come back again and just like southern Ontario to still be hot and muggy despite having driven through two thunderstorms and weather variances today on the way back from Quebec. Here are some highlights of the trip:

1) The drive there was filled with excitement and frenzy. We kept getting lost and called the hotel innumerable times to find out the difference between service roads and actual highways, when lefts were rights, and which way to go as not to drive straight off a cliff to nowheresville. Redbull kept us awake and we didn't die in a car accident as Andy (the driver) warned us might happen. We played an alphabet game where we would go around the circle thinking of a word related to a chosen topic that started with the next letter in the alphabet. It's fun. It can be challenging. You should try it sometime.

2) We stayed at an ultra cheap motel on the outskirts of Montreal, [the sound of royal trumpets signaling the importance of the name] ~Hotel Raphael~ so that we actually had somewhere to park, and save a little $$$ too. It was nice enough to have an outdoor pool, fridge, A/C, TV, clean towels, a no cockroaches. We could go just down the street for groceries, or catch the metro downtown.

3) We went to a pub called "les trois brasseurs" (which means 'three brewers') and decided we just might have to check it out. BUT, we didn't want to enter under any non-celebrity status, so we marched up to the hostess and claimed that we three were the trois brasseurs ourselves. Her reaction was shock, and either she played along with us very convincingly to accomodate us, or didn't know whether to take us seriously or not. Either way, we were entertained, and the staff was loosened up. Our waiter talked us out of poutine "heart-attacks on plates" and into the trois brasseurs specialty, something they call "Flamm's" which, as I was informed, were NOT pizza's, though they had cheese and toppings and sour cream, instead of tomato sauce. They were very delicious.

4) Andy made up a gajillion names for our friend who's last name is Schott. If we needed to get him going, or if we merely felt like hyping him up, we shouted a list of names that ranged everywhere from 'Schottzie' to 'Schottzerama' to 'Slap-Shot.' Andy and I would say "C'mon Schottie, it's go-time!" to prep ourselves for a big hike or night on the town. We amused ourselves for quite awhile when 'one shot' was trying to sleep and we were trying to get him up to play poker. We'd swear we saw him smile just so subtly, but then he wouldn't stir. He must have hated us.

5) We found the most fantastical salsa club with little fountains and fake palm trees and squares on the dance floor that lit up in all the different colours of the rainbow. I was watching a girl who was obviously engaged in teaching her friend how to dance salsa. She'd twirl and slap her hips and pivot back and forth so fast you'd think she'd lose her dress. I eyed her greedily for information and skill until I felt confident enough to make a fool of myself on the dance floor. First I broke the convention of partners and just went solo, trying to imitate the step step forward and step step back to the synchopated rhythum. Then I ended up making some other tourist dance with me until she laughed and said that our dancing was "just bad". Ah, learning experience...

6) We went to Mount Royale, hiked on the trails, then went down to the park, were all the drummers gather on Sundays. We could feel the reverberations and see the bald patch of land where people were dancing bare-foot and losing themselves in the ritual. We walked up higher and saw some mock battles occuring. There were knights, soldiers, archers, and gladiators all armed with padded weapons to enact an assault. They would begin at opposite ends of the field, then CHARGE! Bloodless brutality ensued, and those that were hit, would walk off the field. We saw those dressed as romans, highlanders, crusaders, samaurais and even small children with tomahawks or maces. I never knew these kinds of things had such a following! Many played frisbee or guitar, or smoked various herbs or played cards. I finished 'Tale of the Body Theif' by Anne Rice and watched the one-on-one duels between swordsmen.

7) We got back in time today to relax before bed.

I have been so tired lately, I have epic plots that unfold in my dreams each night and leave me confused and groggy all day. I think all this 'go-time' is making me feel debased and nostalgic for other times. Ex I still think of the friend I lost every day. I want to talk to her and compare notes and see what it's like from where she's looking at the world, but she doesn't. I have to respect that.

Tomorrow it's back to reality part IV and now it seems the summer is over enough that the crunch is hitting me: to start job-hunting for the future and getting more practices scheduled with my band and prepared for school this fall. Yes, I'm going back to school soon and it will be getting cooler and the days will be getting shorter before long. Just you wait. So, at least it is nice to have some highlights along the way. Some escapes. It was great to get away from things this weekend as it is important to do once in awhile, so that you can come back at it with a fresh feeling.

Tomorrow we start at the new job site after having completed the restoration for two apartment complexes. This job will be over in a month now. In terms of freshness for once, that is a good start.
Who Links Here