Archives: “life on the prairies”

Why we moved to Toronto


For those of you still using imperial units that’s -32.8° F or -54.4° F with the windchill.

In other words, rather fricking cold.

(Just to clarify things, this was the temperature in Winnipeg, my home town. To compare, Toronto was +4°C on the same day.)

Yet another reason I will never give my money to Future Shop


Sign posted in Future Shop DVD section:



Me: Excuse me, why is Fahrenheit 9/11 “available upon request”?

Future Shop Entertainment Associate: Um, because it has sensitive material.

Me: Sensitive material? Can you be a bit more specific? Does your version have an unpleasant cover or something like that?

FSEA: Um, no… but it has sensitive material in it.

Me: Like what?

FSEA: Well, (long pause) it has violence in it.

Me: (points to House of 1000 Corpses DVD on display): You mean like this?

FSEA: That movie rocks! Er, I mean I think we’re supposed to keep it off of the shelf because people might get offended.

Me: Hm. Are there any other movies that have sensitive material that are available upon request?

FSEA: No, I don’t think so.

Me: So is Future Shop starting to voluntarily pull Fahrenheit 9/11 from its shelves because people might become offended? Seems to be kind of a strange policy, don’t you think?

FSEA: Um… (looks blankly). Do you want to buy something or what?

Me: No, thanks.

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

(but inside it’s warm, baby)

Coming back home always feels a bit strange, though the wind chill and my shivering, ice-cold kneecaps has helped take my attention away from such thoughts. To quote the inimitable Mssr. Waits, it’s colder than a well digger’s ass.

Fucking inhuman “exposed-skin-freezes-in-seconds” weather aside, it’s nice to be back. I’ve missed basking in the glow of my friends’ and family’s brilliance. I’ve always felt that the perfect city for me would be one where I could slum with my beautiful kith and kin whenever I wanted, while still being able to indulge in the art / music / culture / humanity that is cities like Toronto and MontrĂ©al. You can’t have it all, I suppose.

Homecomings are a strange beast. For one thing, the run-up to the holidays causes Winnipeg’s population to swell by at least a few hundred thousand people, as hordes of expats flood back into the city. Excursions out to the King’s Head pub are half joyous reunions with old friends, and half “hey, isn’t that…” as one recognizes long-lost Winnipeggers, back from far-flung locales to get their annual fix of family and festivities.

Returning home is like time is being folded. You seemingly joins the moment you last left and the moment you returned, and all of the time you were away steps back into the shadows and disappears.

I suppose that’s the small tragedy I feel every time I return to Winnipeg. Even though it seems as if all of my time away somehow vanishes when I step off of the plane, there’s this gap in each of our personal histories. The people I love have changed, have lived through life’s small victories and defeats, and I’ve missed it all. And yet it feels like it once was…

But, this is what warm evenings indoors with friends and families are for: unravelling our histories and sharing ourselves with those we’ve missed. I, for one, am thankful that I am fortunate to have many who have been missed dearly, and whose stories I hold on to every word.

Happy holidays, folks. I hope you’re spending time with your favourite troubadours.

Rantings of a Coffee Fanatic

(Editorial note: This is an incredibly long, meandering, and silly rant worthy of the "Rex Murphy" [the Andy Rooney of Canada, but with more pretentiousness] award for pointlessness. Ignore at will.)

coffeeCupAs some of you already know, I'm a bit of a coffee fanatic. I don't drink, I don't smoke anymore, and I don't do drugs anymore either (technically), so I hold on to the few vices I have left with both hands.

Coffee is, to me, the liquid of the gods. It shares a lot of the qualities that has attracted me to other vices: it helps wake me up when I'm tired, it mellows me out when I'm stressed, it can be done socially as well as in the privacy of my own home, it's reasonably accessible, and while it can be cheap, I can indulge in outrageously expensive pursuits if I so feel inclined. Oh, and it tastes good.

I'd like to think that even though I'm a coffee fanatic, I am most definitely not a coffee snob. That is, I'll drink any kind of coffee as long as it tastes good, and it isn't decaf. Decaf makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, like being a gifted musician but only playing 80's hairband cover songs (The Darkness, I'm looking in your direction), or drinking Diet-anything when you're not on a diet. Why would you do that?

So, a realization: Tim Horton's coffee is utter crap. Yes: the self-manufactured hallmark of everything that is Canadian sucks pants.

» Rantings of a Coffee Fanatic continues...

The Weather

coldIt's cold, but then again, it seems to be cold everywhere, so what the hey.

This afternoon I went out, foraging for nerd lore and vittles in the bland wasteland that is Grant Park mall. For those of you not from "these parts", Grant Park mall is one of those malls that is so overwhelmingly beige it's almost painful.

But, this post is not about Grant Park mall. No, it is instead about the weather. This is partially due to the fact that I am Canadian, and thus I, like ever other person in this vast, hinterland-dominated country of ours, am obsessed with the weather.

There are people who revel in the cold grasp of winter. These people almost always end up seeming (to me, at least) to be incredibly, almost preternaturally cheerful, with an endless supply of Gore-Tex clothing, and tuques with large, bouncy pom-poms hanging from the top.

I am not one of these people. I hate winter.

That said, I can't imagine living somewhere that did not know four distinct seasons. Winter (and fall before it) brings out the deep introspective side of me, which is probably a damn relief to anyone who has put up with my superficial "who-gives-a-shit" spring and summer demeanour. Warm seasons are for mucking about, languid lounging, and letting my cajones get the better of me; cold and blustery equals pensiveness. When it becomes cold out, the smog lifts from my brain, and I can think again.

And it's damn cold out there, which means that there's a lot of thinking going on. Walking through the parking lot of the mall this afternoon, the one thought that dominated my brain was:

It's time to get the hell out of here.


On the bus coming home after work this evening, the bus driver was humming Silly Long Songs, as a malcontent brunette glared angrily out the window, mad at nothing and everything all at once. The iPod played a cheery song by The Shins.

Approaching the Donald Street bridge traffic slowed to a crawl. Row upon row of cars snaked their way over the bridge and beyond the horizon. Victim to years of poor traffic management, and the inevitable rush of vehicles streaming out to the suburbs, the bus slowed.

Out of nowhere, the bus driver stopped the bus completely and opened the front doors. Is he okay? he yelled out the door.

Looking out my window, I saw a man sitting on the concrete, knees drawn up to his chin. Blood curled away in a meandering river from where he was sitting to a nearby gutter. A man wearing a Santa suit stood, bent over, hands on knees, over the bleeding man. At the sound of the bus driver's voice the Santa looked up. The bus driver repeated himself again.

is he going to be okay?

A woman at the front of the bus started laughing loudly, in this braying, lurching manner that send shivers up my spine. A young guy sitting in front of me told the woman to go fuck herself. The sullen girl beside me looked over and muttered, there's no fucking way that's really santa. The sound of car horns filled the air.

The man sitting behind me leaned forward and whispered in my ear,

this always happens to me when I take the bus.

The bus driver closed the door, put the bus back into gear, and slowly pulled away, as a small group of people gathered by the Santa. Going home after work.

It Begins…


l’automne, c’est la saison pour moi

fall shot fall shot fall shot

Fall in Winnipeg comes abruptly, and like a gust of cool wind through an open window the chill is delicious, prickly, revitalizing. Fall is undoubtedly my favourite season, if only for the fact that everyone starts wearing all of the cool fashions that they've hiddem away during the sweltering summer.

It's no surprise that most of my life's major decisions (quitting bands / jobs / bad relationships, moving away from Winnipeg, moving in with my girlfriend, getting a real life) were made in the fall. The coolness of the season seems to give the brain some breathing room and space to allow decisions to expand, exhale, and spread into the deepest crannies.

The leaves seemed to change so quickly this year. One moment the whole world is green and alive, and in the next the streets are littered with a thousand corpses, puddles running red with the blood of summer's best intentions.

Golden Brown

fall shot fall shot fall shot

I'm just getting over a totally brutal flu - no delirious hallucinations, drooling mania, or weeping mother dabbing a damp cloth at my feverish brow, but sick all the same. Of course, this happens just as Winnipeg goes through a rather unseasonal heat wave (+28 degrees for the past three days). Suh-eye.

The Sounds of Summertime

The mosquitos are back in full force now, after many blissful weeks of bug-free summering. They're getting so bad Renée and I could feel their bodies bouncing off of us as we rode home from the park this evening. Not a lot of talking and riding for these cyclists, less there be an accidental indulgence in a buggy buffet. Yeech.

I've been trying to stay away from the computer as much as I possibly can this summer, to spend more time just living and enjoying the weather. It's been a warm, wet summer so far this year, but not an uncomfortable one, and besides the minuscule threat of West Nile virus, or another embarrassing celebrity-sighting in the local paper[1], it's been enjoyable.

Michael BerrymanThe biggest pain in the ass so far has been all of the bikers that roar down the street that runs in front of our apartment. It's like having Michael Berryman stomping through our living room every night, like he did in Weird Science - but not as cool. I'm sure bikers can be smart people if they want to be, but I don't understand their reluctance to embrace modern muffler technology.

This, coupled with the unfortunate sound of people arguing and screaming gut-renching expletives while using the public phone right outside our window (many Winnipeggers don't do cellular) has made for a rather immersive urban experience this summer. I think half of the city has fought with, bellowed at, and broken up with their girlfriend or boyfriend on that goddamn phone. As much as people try to downplay it, Winnipeg has its share of loogans, and they all seem to hang out in our neighbourhood.

But, it's not all headaches and rampant noise violations around here. Late at night, when I'm sitting in the reading room / office enjoying a really great book (Banvard's Folly, by Paul Collins), and the grues have wandered off to terrorize other areas of the city, I can hear the high-pitched keen of the CN railroad cars off in the distance, and the sound of crickets and other late-night folks chatting away the evening. Sometimes the living really is easy.

How's your summer going?

[1]I kid you not: Richard Gere Peed Here, read a recent cringe-worthy headline, with accompanying photo. Oh, we are such hicks. ^

Stormy Weather

Renée and I ventured out today after a long day of work (last day of work before holidays: YES!) for sushi and some relaxing chit-chat. I need to curtail this rather nasty sushi habit I've developed before I start signing my paycheques over to the neighbourhood sushi joint. Actually, what I need to do is find cheaper obsessions.

The last few days have been very warm, humid affairs; the kind of humid warmth that makes you realize that it will thunderstorm soon. Winnipeg gets some of the best thunderstorms I've ever seen: big, loud, bombastic affairs that come swooping in like an arrogant teenager out on the town, blaring across the city, dumping unbelievable amounts of rain in the shortest possible time, and then disappearing abruptly.

I like this about Winnipeg.


Man : "So what do you think of the new pastor? I tell you, he's way better than that last one. This one is more humane."

Man : "Can I use this DVD player to make phone calls?"

Clerk (making face like someone just farted): Oh, good lord.

Woman : "Do you think anyone has ever called breasts chesticles?"

Later: Well I'll be damned. People have. I must be living under a rock.


Today was different than other days. It wasn't because the bus took an extra twenty minutes to arrive, or because the shy man who cleans the school quietly said, "hello" when I walked in the front door. It wasn't because I didn't have class today, or because there was a fierce snowstorm outside, no doubt remnants of the Big Eastern Seaboard Storm coughing out the last bits of a winter's fury.

Today was different because we found out that a student passed away yesterday. The student was very young, energetic, vibrant, and as far as I could tell, well liked. I walked into work this morning to a group of instructors standing together, brows furrowed, eyes downcast, deep in discussion.

One of the students, upon hearing the news, locked himself in one of the offices and had to be quietly cajoled to unlock the door. In the hallway, groups of students stood together, eyes red and stained with tears.

There was little in the way of classes today, for many of the students.

Death is never easy. A creative soul extinguished far too early is an unjust, cruel thing.


Minus 44

Haunted Hotel Brunch

Fort Garry HotelTonight, Renée and I are spending the evening at the historic Fort Garry Hotel, which was (I believe) the first hotel to open in Winnipeg.

Built by the Grand Truck Pacific Railway in 1913 (when Winnipeg was referred to as "the Chicago of the North"), the hotel has been a fixture of the Winnipeg skyline for years. It's a gorgeous example of turn-of-the-century architecture, but was nearly closed after falling into heavy debt in the early '90's.

Thankfully there was a drive to keep the hotel open, and after fundraising, a savvy marketing campaign, and extensive restorations, the Hotel is doing well.

The Hotel holds a special place for Renée and I, as it was one of the first places that we went out to when we first started dating. The main floor piano lounge, called the "Oval Room", is utterly gorgeous and never fails to leave me feeling like I've been transported to another age.

As with most heritage buildings, the rumours have been passed around for years that the Hotel is haunted. Workers have reported strange sounds, hotel guests have seen bizarre lights, and Room 202 is said to be visited by the long dead ghost in a white ball gown. We've never seen anything spooky there yet, but I have my fingers crossed...

What's even better is that the cost of a room includes brunch for two the next day. I am a brunch monster, and the Hotel has possibly the best brunch in town. I'm already getting hungry. Brunch is just so... decadent.

I'm hoping we can get a tour. I'll take pictures if we do - the ballroom is supposed to be magnificent.

Geburtstag Sushi

Today is my sweetie's birthday. If you feel like it, pop over to her site and say happy birthday. I'm sure she'd like that.

Oh, and if you're in the celebrating way, you owe it to yourself (and the celebratee) to go out for sushi. But, you knew that already, right? That is all.

prince and cuban missles

A few thoughts about the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to my school:

  • He actually spoke to a group of us, asking us "are you instructors or students?", and then cryptically remarking, "where are the builders?" I think he was referring to the architects, who he had just met 25 minutes earlier.
  • For an 81-year-old racist, sexist, homophobe, he seemed pretty spry. (I particularily like the "slitty eyes" comment.)
  • Man, he's short.

At any rate, I'm glad that's over. I kept imagining some of the more, er, "dude-ly" of the students pulling a major breach of protocol, "Dude! I have all of your albums!", but the surprisingly short visit passed without incident.

And now, for something completely different: Read a fascinating article in the Boston Globe about the Kennedy tapes during the Cuban missle crisis. Really interesting.


So. The Queen herself, with Prince Phillip in tow, is visiting Winnipeg on October 9th. In of itself this information wouldn't be a reason to mention it, except for the fact that the man himself (no, not the Queen) is planning a visit to the school.

Liz and PhilApparently, and I only know this because I was told this during the instructors' meeting on the royal visit, he likes architecture. That's why he's coming to the new downtown campus where I work: he wants to see how the architects will merge the old, 1900's stone facade with the new, glass and steel design.

At any rate, this again would be of minor note to me (and possibly to you) except that, just like any royal visit, there will be photo-ops. Apparently the college wants to have instructors with a student or two in all of the small video editing suites on the first floor of the school, so his, er, eminence (?) can "chat them up".

So I may have a chance, if I really want, to meet the guy. The big problem is I know absolutely nothing about British royalty. I know their names, and I know their scandals, but I feel quite sure that wouldn't be proper conversation material. At least I know that I wouldn't want to come thousands of miles to have some snot-nosed Web designer guy remind me that my son once had aspirations to be a tampon.

Tomorrow we have a campus-wide "royal protocol meeting", where the students and staff get to learn all of the strange and bewildering protocol that we need to follow whilst in the presence of Phil. It should be interesting.

And I'll let you know what my decision is on whether or not I'm chosen to meet him. Anyone got anything to share that I should know about the guy?

And then it was fall

A chilling wind blew into Winnipeg over the weekend, ripping summer's humid grasp from the forefront of daily thought. Last night I went for a quick run to the corner store (I am so addicted to ginger ale), and, as the full moon glared down at me, I felt my first shivers of the season. How delicious.

I love fall. It's my favorite season by a long shot. To me, fall is heavy with a sense of transition; change, like the blaze of fallen leaves, is everywhere. And I like change.

The main problem with fall, especially in Winnipeg, is that it constantly has winter nipping at its heels. As much as I enjoy fall, winter depresses me, and Winnipeg winters are notoriously gloomy. Let's not even go there yet.

Still, I'm going to enjoy this year's installment of fall. Winnipeg winters finds us so bundled up with parkas and mukluks only the Michelin man would find us sexually appealing. We spend more time in spring jumping to avoid being soaked by cars plowing through knee-deep puddles, or the dog poop landmines that seems to be ever-present. And summer? It's hard to look swank when you've got pit stains for miles and sweaty butt checks virtually plastered to a sad pair of Adidas shorts.

Fall, though, is a time to look good. I've already pulled out all of my old man cardigans and swank fall jackets that I've been hording all summer, ready to hit the fall catwalk. It's going to be fun.

Cat Vee at 33° Celsius

catveeS.jpgIt is hot. The heat is so muggy and tacky and completely bewildering it's difficult to do anything but slouch on the futon and have mental arguments with oneself. About what? Such things as the plusses and minuses of rushing out to buy a portable air conditioner (even though we can't afford it, and besides, this weather won't last forever, and it's a sucky, wimp-ass thing to do) - important, meaningful arguments.

To make matters worse, the infamous Prairie mosquito season is upon us with avengence. Renée and I tried walking down to the local gelati joint last night, and after a mere hour outside I was literally engulfed in loonie-sized mosquito bites. We beat a hasty retreat back to the sauna-like (but mosquito-free!) confines of the apartment, where the cats were well-nigh swooning in the heat. I sprayed them with the watter bottle and swear I heard them squawk "hallelujah!"

So, on this Canada Day weekend, it's hot (45° Celsius with the humidity factored in), during the day, and encephalitis-carrying, nunchuck-wielding killer mosquitos at night. Here's hoping you're comfortable and bite-free - happy birthday, everyone.

Ice. Snow. Pool. Shower.

The Ex

theEx.jpg Okay, I posted three more iPhoto movies in the Photos section of a visit to the Red River Exhibition that me, my brother and my nephew made. Nothing spectacular photography-wise - just a weekend family outing and that's that - but you may find it interesting.

One thing's for sure: if the overwhelming presence of Scooby-Doo dolls as prizes was any indicator, the Scooby Doo movie is going to be huge. They were everywhere.

(Oh, and a photography tip: never take a bunch of photos without checking the white point setting of your camera first. I had mine set to "interior", and spent a very long time colour-correcting these to get rid of an infernal bluish-magenta cast. Sigh.)


Have I mentioned that Winnipeg is a gorgeous city in the summer? I really have forgotten just how green and lush Winnipeg becomes once the barren, snow-filled desert of winter finally shuffles off of the seasonal stage. And the clouds...

Actress Shelley Duvall was once here in the summer, acting in local film maverick Guy Maddin's Twilight of the Ice Nymphs. She continually remarked how bowled over she was by the gigantic, billowing Prairie clouds, going as far as getting someone to drive her around Manitoba, taking photos. But, I digress.

As blissful as Winnipeg can be, there's always history. History is the reason I left Winnipeg in the first place...

» Anonymous continues...

Reasons I regret not having my camera today

  1. Sign over The Gentleman's Club (a local cheeseball, greasy "high concept" strip club [as if all of those words go together]): This Week is Banana Week!
  2. Passing by a 60's style diner, long abandoned to the elements and hereunto now never seen. For sale sign on front door, half-obscured by years of detritus: "Bernie Wassleman: Realtor".
  3. Watching a young Chinese boy rock his baby sister to sleep while out for lunch with my friend Dean.
  4. Discovering the parade of concrete flourishes that adorn the Lindsay building while waiting for the bus to go to work.
  5. Native men and women playing a very spirited game of baseball in a field off of Logan Street.
  6. The suddenly green and alive trees reaching across River Avenue like a botanical recreation of a Michelangello painting.

Tomorrow, I'll fill in these images with photos. Or perhaps I should just leave these as images in your mind?

Some really bizarre and borderline disturbing Flash work: Qrime.

June 1st

Sunny SaturdayA strange hybrid of spring and summer has finally sputtered to life. I woke up to the pleasure of a window overflowing with sunlight and greenery. The trees outside my window have obviously realized that they're still alive after a much too long winter.

This, of course, makes everything better: bus rides, long walks, nips out to the corner store, sitting in the park reading, staggering down the street in a blurry haze, hanging out on the corner with the pachucos...

Winnipeg is a city suffused with sunlight on even a bad day. A gloriously radiant summer afternoon, with a soft, Prairie breeze meandering through chattering leaves, and the soul-warming comfort of a huge cup of coffee and book almost feels like a kind of heaven.

A Camera, A National Holiday, and iPhoto

LampFace It was a beautiful Victoria Day here in Winnipeg. Warm (+19° celsius, which kicks the recent crappy weather in the butt), and sunny, so Renée and I ambled our way down to a Winnipeg landmark cum tourist trap, The Forks.

Located at the juncture of the Red and Assiniboine River, The Forks (or La Fourche for the Voyageurs in the audience) is historically significant as the place where settlers first set up digs in 1738. As with most North American historical sites, it has now been overrun with trinket shops and other business attempting to cash in on the fairly heavy tourist traffic.

But, we didn't care. We just wanted to get out for a nice walk, and I wanted to actually use my somewhat new Fuji Finepix digital camera (Model #2600), and play with 's nice iPhoto.

Here's a little movie from a lovely, lazy Victoria Day. (1.6 mb, music provided by the great Pullman.) As you would assume with something created by an product, you definitely require the Quicktime player plugin to view the movie. Sorry.

Snow in May

I know no one cares about this except for the person it's happening to, but I must say it again: Where the hell is spring?

The glories and tribulations of Being

Life lately has been incredibly stressful. I won't bore you with the gory details, and frankly, some of it is just too personal to be posting willy-nilly in a public place such as this.

Needless to say, there's the usual suspects: work, relationships, life... but other things, too. And that's as much as I'm going to say about it. But, pardon me if I seem strange. As with everything, this too shall pass.

It's been beautiful here the last couple of days, which always helps lift the spirits. I was walking from the office this afternoon and I couldn't believe the sight of everything melting, and the sun brilliantly out. In Winnipeg at this time, it's almost always frigging cold - highs of minus 25 or 30 degrees celsius, sometimes compounded with a deathly wind that drives the temperature even lower. I remember one winter (god, that sounds like such an old man thing to say...) when it was -50°C with the wind factored in.

Of course, that makes the +2°C of the last couple of days seem... eerie. I know it's a typically Canadian thing to talk about the weather, but you have to admit: the weather the last few years has been really, really odd. Hurricanes, tornadoes, horrendous drought in much of North America, massive floods, earthquakes all over the goddamn place, and snow and blizzards in Greece and Italy... it all makes me wonder if the damage we've wrought to the planet is irreversible - as if we're doomed already, like a bit player in a shitty Sylvester Stallone movie, and we just don't know it yet.

Still, all that doomsday musing aside, it really was a glorious day out. Walking along Academy road, by the Academy Bowling Lanes where a huge group of friends and I use to go drink & bowl four years ago, the long rows of trees planted in the 1940's looked palatial and calming. With the sun setting the buildings off in the distance took on a brassy, honeyed glow, as if off in the distance was the Golden city, and I was on the path to quiet salvation.

Riding the All-Consuming Wave

Boxing Day is one of those days when I'm convinced the entire world's sanity takes a 90-degree turn just south of common sense and doesn't look back.

I woke up this morning, thinking that I'd go out and do my Happy New Year's present shopping (because that IS the real holiday, in my book), and stare, slack-jawed with wallet at ready, at all of the GREAT DEALS! Because hey! - Boxing Day is the day when all of those corporate, soulless, indiscriminately evil box stores unveil their so - cheap - you - can't refuse - and - oh - well - we - really - could - use - another - plunger prices.

And I am such a sucker.

» Riding the All-Consuming Wave continues...

The First Snowfall

snowstormIt snowed almost all day Wednesday: 13 centimetres (just over five inches for the folks still in imperial). Blustery, blowing snow so thick at times the trees in the park across the street looked like looming shadows, fuzzy and indistinct but still somehow threatening.

Looking down on the street, I watched people scurry for cover (hopefully somewhere warm and cozy). A street person huddled under what looked like six parkas on a bench, looking miserable.

My friend in Toronto reported that from where he stood, it was 17°C. 17 - in December! "It's too hot and muggy here!" he complained. "I miss snow."

Later on, the snow plows sounded like distant thunder as they rumbled down residential streets, scraping the road raw. The sound of car tires on freshly plowed streets sounded uncannily like miniature jets as they sped by the home office window. A drunk staggered through knee-high snow drifts as a young child, all but sexless under a bulging snowsuit, playfully tossed snowballs at a quickly retreating mother.

Night at the Braemar

Let me begin by stating outright that I find buffets creepy. The idea of everyone ladling heaping servings of mass-produced food out of the same stuffy, sneeze-protected steamtable, while kids run amok with their mashed potato-smeared faces makes me shudder.

(Did I ever mention that I once worked for Uncle Willy's Buffet?)

Last night, Renée and I had quite the surreal experience. A buffet was involved. Isn't that always the way?

» Night at the Braemar continues...

Mean Streets.

I used to live in Winnipeg. Then I got sick of it, and move to Toronto. Three months ago I moved back to Winnipeg, so that my girlfriend could get her degree in Education. The plan is we're gonna move to Spain once she graduates.

You know what I hate about Winnipeg? Crime. There's tons of it. "Murder Capital of Canada" is one of the many not-so-nice nicknames that Winnipeg has. A couple of years ago, it was the Arson capital of Canada - yet another somber sobriquet, earned after many, many buildings (including one in the my favorite area, Osborne Village) were burnt down.

» Mean Streets. continues...

To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)

I was coming back on the bus from work this afternoon, head throbbing from too many hours of squinting endless at a goddamn monitor at some mindless what-have-you... the bus was one of those, well, "squatting" buses - the ones built for the handicapped, the infirm, or the eldery. There was a woman at the front end of the bus in one of those motorized jobbies you see zipping around the Mall, barrelling towards you in a flurry of white hair and granny gumption.

The driver of said motorized jobby was this incredibly wrinkled woman, in her late 80's if she was a day... her husband was Hyman Roth, all the way to the loose-fitting hawaiian shirt and self-confident swagger. He was regalling this incredibly large woman sitting beside him with some story involving himself, a shotgun, and "a bunch of cocky bastards" (soundbites are a magical thing). Their stop came, and Mr. Hyman-Roth-esque and Ms. Motorized Jobby prepared to leave.

The problem quickly became apparent that Ms. M.J.'s vehicle had pulled into the bus in such a way that reversing was nigh-mpossible. Do you remember the scene from Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, where Austin Powers is in a golf cart, and he's stuck backing up, and then moving forward, and then backing up, and then getting stuck in the hallway?

It was exactly like that. The minutes passed by painfully as the woman got more and more frustrated as she tried to find some way to get her vehicle out of the bus. Her (I'm guessing here) husband got more and more annoyed. The large woman looked on with the look on her face resembling that of someone stuck in a very small space with a very large, overwhelming smell. The cart went backwards. The cart went forwards.

After what seemed to be many, many minutes, the woman was almost in tears with frustration and humiliation. Just when the guy sitting next to me and I were just about to get up and try to help lift her out, she managed to wrench the steering wheel enough so that she could just squeek out the bus's door, followed closely behind by a muttering Hyman Roth.

I think a lot about getting old.


It's coming, and I'm not looking forward to it at all. After years of comparatively balmy Toronto winters (where the mercury rarely dips below minus 10 degrees Celsius) the full force of a Winnipeg winter (minus 40, wind, snow, deserted streets) will be frightening. There's something disturbing about living in an area of the country where the weather can be so deadly, a man can die from just being outside for too long.

And no, we don't live in igloos here. You'll never guess how many times I was asked that question while travelling in the U.S.

Okay then. Four times - all of them serious, and three of them in the Carolinas.

But, I digress... Why am I talking about winter? Why, because the Autumnal Equinox just passed (thanks for the reminder, Barb), and that means I had better start looking for my winter boots and jacket.

I like fall - an introspective, cozy season if there ever was one - but winter? That's why I moved away from Winnipeg in the first place. Well, and to be with my sweetie.

On another note, if you're one of (surprisingly) many folks who came to this site looking for information on the mighty Jack Soo, it was probably this that you wanted - or that the search engine found here, at any rate.. Search engines are weird. (By the way, what the hell does Jack Soo have to do with this? Yeesh.)

Winnipeg Story

I had been walking across the concrete parking lot expanse that is Polo Park. Polo Park, where I used to go as a child to get my picture with Santa, and later on where I used to go bowling with friends. The sun was high and piercingly strong, as it usually is in the central plains - there isn't the smoggy gossamer that Toronto has to mute the sun's rays - and the quality of light was dreamy and narcotic. Daydreaming was interrupted by what sounded like an injured animal. I looked over and saw a native man wearing a pink, intensely frayed sweater. He seemed to be trying to open his car door, and two men (friends?) seemed to be trying to play-wrestle with him.

It wasn't until I saw the flash of sun off of the handcuffs that I realized it was two undercover police officers trying to arrest the Man In Pink. They scuffled and awkwardly grd with each other, and if you didn't think about it in the context of an arrest, it almost looked like three good ol' buddies just goofing around. But the Man In Pink kept making this sound: high, keening, wounded. He fell down. One of the police officers fell on top of him. He got up and staggered a few steps. Fell again. And as the undercover police finally pulled the Man down, one of the police finally said something: "Give up. Please give up."

I turned my head away and kept walking.

Snippets of home.

Walked down the path to the bus that I walked every day when I lived at my parents. Went by the thankfully closed "all-you-can-inhale" buffet restaurant I regrettably wasted 10 months at when I was 20. Swung on the swings I used to play with my dear, missing friend Marianne. Saw the place where my heart was squished by Melanie Fetterly after watching her kiss my then best friend Andy. Basked in the good, truly warm friendliness of a Prairie city and remembered that people can still care.

Walked by old hangouts with the sounds of past laughter and good times still in my head. Ate a soul-revitalizing "Sun Burger" from one of my favorite restaurants. Passed by the place my mom used to buy me shoes when I was a wee tyke, and remembered the old man there that used to frighten me so much I used to bawl my eyes when it came to shoe-buying time. Looking around for faces I remember...

I'm getting used to being here, but it's still so... unusual. I've come home, but it's nothing like I expected it would be. History reverberates loudly from every corner, and everything looks so familiar - and yet it somehow seems so, well, new.

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