February 12, 2007
In late July of 2000 I bicycled solo over 500 miles around Lake Ontario heading east out of Toronto towards Kingston. I crossed by ferry over Wolfe Island and headed west through New York along the south side of the lake towards Niagara Falls, crossing the border and heading home. My bike was loaded down with a handlebar bag and four panniers probably weighing about 100 pounds total. In hindsight I had over packed for the journey. I was following the Water Front Trust trail which consisted of paved trails, city streets and secondary highways. Secondary roads in Ontario give the cyclist about three inches of pavement to the right of the white line to ride on. Total concentration is essential. On day two before arriving at Brighton for breakfast I survived a near death experience. I was pedaling along a lonely stretch of highway when I steered into the loose gravel to the right of the road. To get back onto the asphalt I over compensated and steered sharply back towards the middle of the road. At the same time a family in a teal Ford Escort station wagon was right behind me. The driver swerved into the left on coming lane to avoid me. All I remember was looking down at the gold ring on my left little finger, hearing tires screech and a flash of teal fly by. Between the car and my left handlebar were about four inches. I regained my heading back to the right side of the road and the Escort driver now in front of me waved out his window to make sure I was okay. I waved back to let them know I was fine. After what had happened set in, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. I pedaled onwards to Brighton to find a greasy diner to have breakfast.
The ring on my left finger was the my grandmother's gold wedding band that I inherited. I always wore it as a good luck charm and to remember her by. Perhaps that day she was my guardian angel and helped me escape disaster. Today, I still wear that wedding band; it was enlarged to fit my ring finger back in July 2001 when I married Sharon.
January 13, 2006
Growing a Beard
I've been having trouble with in-grown whiskers after shaving my face for a while so I went to see a dermatologist. I was diagnosed with folliculitis. I have about 40 years to live. It is inflamation of the hair folicules on my face. She gave me some antibiotic cream and told me not to shave with a razor with more than one blade. The Gillette Mach III I've been using for my head and face have three blades. Good luck looking for a half decent single bladed razor at Walgreen's that won't mutilate your face.
The doctor gave me two options. First, I could use a razor called the Bump Fighter, that is popular with African-American men with curly in-grown hair problems. Secondly, I could grow a beard. Letting all the hair on your face grow out solves the in-grown hair problem. It will also give your skin time to heal from the folliculitis. I read on the web that it takes about six weeks to grow a beard. After two weeks I realized I did not inherit any beard-growing genes like the ones Grizzly Adams did. I think I'm closer to a Gil Grissom.
My wife doesn't mind the beard and she thinks I look fine. I never intended to grow a beard for fashion sake or to look cool. I did it to heal my skin. It's also kind of odd to have a shaved head and a beard. If Shel Silverstein could pull it off then so can I.
The funniest part of growing a beard is the reaction I get from co-workers and friends. I never thought I could offend someone by growing it. One guy at work who wears purple shirts with cowboy boots and doesn't own a horse, keeps telling me I look terrible. I guess he yearns for clean shaven Stephen! Others just look at me funny but are too kind to say the truth. I know exactly what they are thinking. Others say, "You're growing a beard, cool!"
The itching has subsided and I'm going to grow it right out until mid February. And when my skin heals up, I'll start shaving again, probably with the Bump Fighter blades.
November 9, 2005
Santa Cruz Surfer
Sunday we took Justice for a walk along the ocean near the Lighthouse. I took a few photos. I'm going to start mixing up my long commentaries with simple photo entries too. Just to keep it fresh.
October 13, 2005
On Thursday my Grandfather passed away.
BELL, Gene - Peacefully at the General Hospital
with his family by his side on Thursday, October
6, 2005 at the age of 81. Husband of Bernadette
Bell. Stepfather of Robert Martin (Nancy) and
Susan O'Leary. Proud Papa of Rob, Ted and Wesley
Martin, Erin, Andrew, Mark and Sean O'Leary. Also
step-father of Gary Burns (Leigh Campbell) and
Ronald Burns (Judy) and their children, Brian and
Stephen Burns and J.D. Burns. Special friend of
Anne and Cliff Sanderson. Brother-in-law of Del
Belanger, Robert Bouillion (Cecile) and Theresa
Eaton. Uncle of many nieces and nephews. Friends
may call at the Arthur Funeral Home & Cremation
Centre on Sunday, October 9, 2005 from 12:00 noon
until time of funeral service in the chapel at
2:00 p.m. Rev. Bruce McLeish officiating. Memorial
contributions to the Group Health Centre Trust
Fund would be appreciated by the family.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning,
We will remember them.
Members of the Royal Canadian Legion are requested
to assemble at the Arthur Funeral Home & Cremation
Centre on Sunday, October 9, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. for
a service for the late Eugene Bell.
I was one of three who gave a eulogy at the funeral service. Below is my speech...
Papa, not Grandpa. Papa. I believed we called him that because my father called his Italian grandfather Papa also. It has some Hemingway-eskness to it now as I look back. Technically speaking Gene Bell was a stepfather and a step-grandfather, but he preferred not to use the "step" prefix. Some of the bonds he created with his children and grand children are much thicker than blood.
Papa was good at many things.
He was a master distiller. Ruby cabernet, dandelion wine and chokecherry wine come to mind. One day my brother called me. He was all excited that he obtained a coveted bottle of the chokecherry wine. I recall seeing these old bottles of Seagram's 7 in the rafters of his workshop in the basement, filled with a dark red liquid. Usually the cap was almost hermetically sealed with the finest masking tape that was stained from the wine oozing out the cap. That evening Brian opened the bottle of wine and drank it. He did not awake until 5pm the next day.
Papa was an outdoorsman. He loved to go hunting. He enjoyed fishing whether it was by boat or by snowmobile on ice.
Papa was a great gift giver. Gifts from Papa and Bernie at Christmas were the best. I never once received a pair of socks or a sweater. All the gifts were battery operated and had motors like remote control fire trucks and motorcycles. After a few months my curiosity got the better of me and I ended up dismantling all the toys to see what was in them and how they worked. This did not go unnoticed and the following year, at the age of 10, I received a real set of Canadian Tire screwdrivers and pliers.
Papa was best at telling stories. He wasn't much of a listener, but he sure could tell you some pretty cool stories. Now that I think of it some of Papa's stories parallel some of Papa Hemingway's fables. I remember an ice fishing story about catching the dreadful ling fish in Northern Ontario. However, I will not miss the story of Ronnie wanting to smoke a cigarette at the house. I've heard it too many times. I've heard many stories about his troubles with his Mazda van and the customer service he received. Poor Bernie must have heard them a hundred times.
When I was in my twenties I started taking interest in World War 2 history. I would visit Papa and we would sit at the kitchen table and sip ruby cabernet and I asked him to tell me about the war. His stories were fascinating and vivid. They were much more interesting and detailed than the war documentaries on the History channel. He once explained how after they took Normandy, his group was humping it up the roads along the coast heading north. French women stood along the rural roads with glasses of milk for the invading troops. Their sergeant yelled, "Do not drink the milk, it could be poisoned," since these women were previously acquainted with the German soldiers who occupied the area. One of his buddies immediately snatched a glass of milk and quaffed it down and yelled, "The milk is okay Sarge!" I also got out of him many other battle stories and the one of how he got the bullet wound on his brow. I'm sure many of you have already heard it.
In 1999 while bike riding along the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto my friend and I stumbled upon the Legion Branch 344, home of the Queen's Own Rifles. The Regiment Papa belonged to. We couldn't resist, and within moments we were sitting in the Legion at the bar, drinking draft beer and talking to veterans.
A few months later, on the evening of my initiation at that branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Papa and Bernie were in the area visiting their children Susan and Bob. So, Papa met me at my place in downtown Toronto, and we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant. He was wearing his Queen's Own Rifles jacket and his 50th Anniversary D-Day cap. Afterwards, we headed down to the Legion where he ever so proudly, sponsored my membership and paid for the first year. He said, "I'm only paying for one year, you'll have to pay the dues for rest of them." I am still a member today.
On the way back home in the car, I regretfully mentioned to him that my brother and I, knew the whereabouts of our biological grandfather in Niagara Falls. We were thinking of going there to meet him. Papa piped up loudly, "Now why in the hell would go and do that! I'm your Grandfather! I'm your Grandfather!"
He was right.
Papa will be greatly missed by all of his grandchildren.
October 1, 2005
The High Cost of Underwear
I guess it's a good time to replace your underwear when you can see daylight through the crotch. I'm 35 and my mother still purchases my underwear for me. Oh, don't laugh at me. I can't get this underwear without the help of my mother. I like to keep at least 12 pairs of boxer-briefs in the top drawer of my dresser. That's enough to get me to get to the furthest possile laundry day during earthquakes or black-outs. Plus, the more you have, the less they get worn, so you can get more miles out of them. My current outgoing set of Stanfield's are on their sixth year. They are the only underwear I will wear, besides my sporty fave, the Ex Officio which I will talk about some other time. Meanwhile, the Stanfield's are 100% cotton and are tight enough to hold the boys in place. It's all about support. Over the years the fabric will relax and lose its tenacity. I bought my first pair of Stanfield's at Chalkies clothing on Spadina Avenue in Toronto. Annually in the fall, a group of fraternity brothers would visit the winter clothing store mecca. Since I have moved to the states I have not been able to find a boxer-brief that had good, thick, high quality, cotton, ones that wouldn't be see-through in a couple of washes or was a 50/50 blend. I looked online too and went to the Stanfield's website and phoned them at their offices in Truro, Nova Scotia. But I couldn't find any stores online that would ship to the United States. My mother was planning a visit so I placed an order with her to purchase seven pairs of medium Stanfield's from Sears in Sault Ste. Marie. Priced at $14 CDN each the bill can add up quickly when you purchase multiple pairs, but look how long they last. I got 6 years out of them for $12 back in the day, so that's $2 per year divided by all those days equals 0.00547945205 canuck cents a day for your scivvies. Not too schabby. As I was unpacking the undearwear from the bags that they came in, an "Inspected by" tags fell out from behind the shorts, officially signed my Jean and Leah. It appears Jean was working the black underwear assembly line and Leah was working the gray gitch that glorious day in Truro. It must have been cold out. I unpacked all the gotchies and put them in the washer machine on warm with a little soap. I hate wearing brand new clothes with that brand new sheen on them. A good wash and dry, especially with cotton with puff and soften the fabric up nicely.
I also highly recommend that you do not purchase white underwear. First of all you will never be accused of wearing tighty-whities, when you are wearing nothing but solid gray or black. Whites show the stains to predominantly. Remember that time when you where getting naked just before having sex with your lover. You threw your underwear nonchalantly onto the floor and they fell onto the carpet with the interior crotch exposed for your naked lover who sitting naked on top of the bed to see. I'm not saying this ever happend to me but I'm sure that your undearwear with a bigger skidmark than a five car pile up ruined the mood. Whites are for those who shave their ass and use wet baby wipes to clean up their bottoms after bowel movements. Anyways you get my point.
Black and gray underwear also helps you differentiate the new and used underwear on a trip. I think I'm going to use the Sharpie laundry marker this time and number them.
I wanted to make sure that the ladies who inspected my underwear were aware of my undying gratitute to there service in the undergarment industry, so I sent them a thank-you email to: email@example.com.
Subject: Thanks to Leah & Jean
I just wanted to thank Leah and Jean for inspecting my Stanfield's boxer-briefs. Please let them know that the fine work that they do is appreciated.
A fine Canadian in Los Gatos, California
If you would like to get your hands on a pair of new Stanfield's from Canada, contact my mother.
July 5, 2005
Patriotism out of Fashion?
In honor of Independence Day this year I decided to hang the American flag I had bought for Sharon for our second wedding anniversary. Second anniversary is cotton. On July 3rd, I took the extension handle off of the deck scrubber and zip tied the flag to it and hung it from the front porch. It looked beautiful. The colors on this cotton flag are really bright not like those cheap polyester ones. We both stood in the driveway and an odd feeling overcame us. Two Canadians hanging an American flag on their house. It just felt weird. That evening we went to a movie with our neighbors and afterwards met up with friends of theirs at a bar in Santa Cruz. I recanted my flag hoisting story to them and their friend jokingly asked, "Are you a Republican? Because only Republicans hang flags on their houses." It appears that Republicans are considered to be more patriotic than Democrats here in the U.S. I don't think I'm a Republican. In late September 2001 I've never seen so many American flags flying from every mountable object in my life. I just hung the flag because it was the 4th of July and it's what you should do. When in Rome. I also thought it would bring us some Green Card karma. That evening after we got home, I went online and purchased a Canadian flag for next year's Canada Day on July 1st. Next year I'll hang both flags from the house.
June 22, 2005
Last Thursday I called the Esalen Institute to book a late night hot bath atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur. Sharon's friend, Joanne was visiting from Toronto and we've been meaning to go there for a long time. I also booked us a room at the Fernwood Resort, twenty-five minutes north of Esalen on highway 1. The girls drove down to Big Sur in the afternoon on Monday and I rode down on my motorcycle after work. It's about a 125 mile drive from Palo Alto. In Seaside, just north of Monterey, I pulled off of the highway into the parking lot of an Econo Lodge to put on a sweater under my riding suit as it was getting cold along the coast. As I was getting ready to leave I noticed that when I squeeze my clutch that my kickstand did not retract automatically as it was supposed to. So, I pumped the clutch three times and the cable snapped. Profanity ensued. On long trips I usually carry a spare clutch cable. I could visualize the cable back home, sitting inside the side pocket of my BMW travel bag. At the same time Suzanne called because she was feeding and walking the dog. I asked her to look for my BMW bag and she found it and the clutch cable inside. She kindly offered to deliver the cable to me, 50 miles away in Seaside where I was stranded. What a great neighbor and friend! The taco stand across the street filled me up with chicken quesadillas as I waited for Suzanne. She arrived at 8pm with the cable and I installed it in about 15 minutes. I've heard that some BMWers pre-install spare throttle and clutch cables along side the existing ones so that when they break you just have to attach the ends to the components and you're done. Mental note: order spare throttle and choke cables tomorrow. I slipped Suzanne some money for gas and I was on my way south to Big Sur. The sky was bright orange-red along Pacific's horizon as I had just missed the sun going down. At the motel the girls and I played a game of Crazy Eights and then slept from 10pm till 12am. We then drove down the highway to Esalen and arrived at 12:45am. At 1:00am we walked down the steep entrance road in the dark with other late night bathers and arrived at the kiosk where we signed in. Cost was $20 per person for 2 hours. We walked over to the poured concrete bath house which was pretty new as the old one fell into the ocean after the big earthquake. The change room and showers were co-ed and the theme was clothing optional. The lighting was subtle and relaxing. We acquired our own square tub that could hold about 8 people. The spring water had a slight sulfur smell and it was heated by elements in a retainer basin just behind the tubs. You just had to pull a plug to let more hot water in. It was a beautiful moonlit night and the view was spectacular. The sound of the ocean lapping up on the rocks as the oil like water reflected the moonlight. Massage table were scattered throughout the room and Sharon and I took advantage of them and gave each other massages. At 2:30am we headed back to the motel as we were all tired. I was looking forward to the morning commute to work up Highway 1 along the coast.
May 19, 2005
Hey! I'm on the Radio!
This morning on my way to work I was listening to the Greg Kihn Show on 98.5 KFOX. He was talking to callers and trying to guess what kind of accent they had and where they came from. I thought I would give them a taste of the old Canadian accent that everyone notices on me down here. I dialed in and got a busy signal but kept on hitting redial until suprisingly it started to ring. Chris Jackson answered the phone and I told him I had a Canadian accent for them. I was parked in the Orchard Supply Hardware parking lot and I was on hold. After waiting 15 minutes Greg Kihn came on the phone and said, "You're on the Air! Start talking and I'll guess your accent." So I said, "I was out and about yesterday." He yelled, "YOU'RE A HOSER!" He talked for a bit about touring in Canada and about meeting a beautiful Canadian girl who wanted to party after the show, eh? I asked him if he wanted me to turn up the Canadian a bit a do some more expressions. I did a thick Northern Ontario accent... "Hey dare, how ya doin'? I was a da hockey game last night, eh..." He was laughing his head off. I also did a Quebecois ordering breakfast for him..."I'll have two eggs side by each with an orange glass of juice." He laughed some more and asked me to repeat the "eggs side by each" again. He thanked me and as soon as I was off the phone I turned up the radio and heard myself from the beginning of the call. There was about a two minute delay, eh.
April 21, 2005
Love on the Rocks, is Hard on my Back.
Last Friday, Sharon, her friend Amy and I went to the Catalyst in Santa Cruz to see Super Diamond. They are a Neil Diamond tribute band. The crowd consisted of a hodge-podge of cougars who where out on the prowl for gen-x's like myself who grew up listening to Neil Diamond because their parents listened to Neil. As the band came on I stood up and walked closer to the stage and started laughing to myself as Surreal Neil started singing. It was funny. Our parents back in the seventies would have seen Neil in concert, now the children of Neil fans have to go see the tribute band. Actually, you still can see Neil Diamond in concert. The "Jazz Singer" is on a world tour right now. The sad ending to this story is that we left at 11:30pm during the intermission because Sharon was tired. We missed "Sweet Caroline" and "Cracklin' Rosie" much to my chagrin. I guess we're getting old.
March 31, 2005
Keeping Abreast with Motley Crue
In November Motley Crue announced that they would be touring in the new year after a five year hiatus. I was quite happy. I was the biggest Crue fan in all of my high school. My bedroom walls were plastered with every poster and photo from Circus Magazine. And of course for Haloween I dressed as Nikki Sixx. I went online and found out that the fan club members could get premium pre-sale seats early. So I joined the fan club for $40 and recieved an ugly t-shirt and purchased two tickets for $90 each. The venue was the Oakland Arena. I knew the tickets would be floor seats but I did not find out until I recieved them in the mail two weeks prior to the concert date. I have seen the Crue twice prior to this concert in Toronto, but my seats were never this close. I assumed Sharon would join me at the concert, fist pumping and singing all the songs with Vince but she declined. Although Peter was an Iron Maiden fan in high school, I decided I would ask him. He liked the old Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil albums. Peter accepted the offer and the Cruesters were ready to rock! Late February, Sharon said we had to attend her friend's wedding on March 26th. I said, "Sorry honey thats the night of the Motley Crue concert. I'm so upset I'm going to miss the wedding." Sharon didn't fuss as I had purchased the tickets a month prior to the wedding announcement and I was in the clear. The tickets arrived and I was very happy to see that we acquired ninth row seats, left center stage! I thought we were in range for Nikki Sixx spitting water on us but it ended up we were about 50 feet from the stage. The day of the concert Sharon and I woke up at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco after an evening of celebration with my employer Topix.net. I was a bit hungover and cranky as Sharon dragged me through Macy's, shopping for bedding. I wished I was at home in my cave. At 2pm I jumped on my motorcycle and headed across the Bay Bridge to Peter's place in Oakland. The fresh air helped me out a lot. Peter and I went for a motorcycle ride through the twisty roads in the Oakland hills with views of the entire bay. The g-forces got my blood flowing and I was getting amped up for the concert. We had dinner in Rockridge and caught the BART to the area and got in line with thousands of other thirty to forty year old metal heads. It looked like a freaky high school renunion. I didn't wear my $40 Motley Crue t-shirt because I and Peter believe that wearing a band t-shirt to their concert is like wearing a San Jose Sharks uniform to a Sharks game. It's obvious I'm a fan already, because I paid 90 bucks to see them. I brought my camera to the concert because the tickets did not say "no cameras", but a the door the doorman searching me would not allow me into the concert. So, I had to check in the camera across the way where I could pick it up after the concert. I was thankful for the service. The concert was loud and the the Crue pulled every chiche rock and roll concert trick out of the hat. Half way through the concert Tommy Lee came out with a video camera. It was given to him because of his experience with video cameras. This camera was called the "Titty Cam." I was recording and it's display was on the big screens behind the stage. As he zoomed the camera on the crowd, girls starting revealing their breasts. Fate had it, that two hotties were parked next to us ready to reveal their mams. I whipped out my Treo 650 which has video recording capablities and caught the girls in the act. This is my first time editing with iMovie on my Mac. Enjoy! Click here to watch video with Windows MediaPlayer | Click here to watch video with Quicktime | Download Quicktime
March 9, 2005
Mile Marker 35
Tomorrow is my 35th birthday. I know one thing for sure will happen. My mother will phone me in the morning and sing "Happy Birthday" to me. When this week comes around every year it tends to bring lots of introspection. I'm not upset that I'm getting old. That doesn't bother me one bit. I'm just passing another mile marker on the highway of life. For some reason, the feeling reminds me of the November blues in my first year at away from home at university. Well cheer up Stephen! There's two types of highways in my map book; the long straight flat interstate or the curvy secondary roads through the mountains. I think I'll stick to the roads less travelled; yes the twisty ones. The views are better and my motorcycle likes them too. When you stop in the small towns on those roads the people you meet are much more friendly and interesting. This brings me to my next adventure at the end of April. I am going to ride up on my motorcycle to Washington and the US/Canadian border to renew my work visa. Last time I went, I took "the slab" otherwise known as the interstate there and I didn't see much. This time I'm going to take all the secondary roads and see parts of the northwest that should be seen. It may take two extra days but it will be worth it. I think I may have a birthday resolution here. I'm not always going to be in a rush like those people on the interstate. I'm going to take it easy and stop and smell the roses while driving on those back roads. What's the rush?
January 10, 2005
You Must Bend the Body to Untangle the Mind
This past weekend Drew and Jackie visited us. Drew came to the area to play a gig in San Francisco and to teach some Bikram Yoga in Santa Cruz. Sharon and I decided we would attend Drew's Saturday 4pm class at the Village Yoga studio. We've done yoga before, but this is a fast paced yoga in a room heated from 105 to 120 degrees farenheit. The room was packed with about 30 quite attractive women, scantilly clad. I was one of 3 men including Drew. Note to single guys out there: Yoga studios are a great place to meet women in great shape. The session consists of 26 positions in 90 minutes. Within minutes I was sweating like I've never sweat before in my life. The towel on my yoga mat was soaked at the end. Being my first session I found difficulty balancing and locking my knee in some positions. I was also distracted by all the lovely ladies. Sharon was fully supportive of my dilemma. After the rigorous work out I felt energized. I've never felt that good after a work out before. We all went to Shogun Japanese Restaurant for sushi and had a fabulous dinner. We said good night and good bye to Drew and Jackie and they headed home to LA. As newbies to the yoga studio we were given a free pass to attend as many classes as we wanted for the next 10 days for $10. We went again on Sunday afternoon and this time the 90 minutes seemed to go by much faster and it was getting easier. We've never felt better. I'm going to cancel my gym membership and attend Bikram yoga classes instead.
January 7, 2005
New Year's Eve
On New Year's Eve we rented a room at the Los Gatos Lodge. This is a motor lodge not a ski lodge type of inn. That evening we joined Jim and Jennifer and five of their friends to see local Los Gatos country singer Tim Murphy. He was performing in a large room at the Lodge. We all met in Jim and Jen's room to eat hordeurves and drink libations prior to the show. I was drinking vodka, soda with borrowed lemon from the bar. At 9pm we walked right throught the bar and into the show with our 16 ounce styrofoam cups full of booze in hand. We were happy we didn't have to line up for overpriced small drinks at the show. Refill trips back to the room were frequent. If you want to see a lot of people wearing cowboy hats, go to a country music concert. They all come out of the woodwork. It's kind of like you only see people wearing hockey jerseys at a hockey game. You don't see many people wearing cowboy hats in the urban areas of California. Other popular cowboy hat areas are in Texas, Montana or any other state where your main form of transportation is a horse. There were a lot of, how do i put it, interesting looking people in attendance. There was no stage in the room that held about 75 people and we all stood to the right of the band within roadie distance. I actually played roadie a couple of times, helping the rhythm guitarist find the end of his cord after he changed guitars between songs. We all danced and recieved high fives from Tim. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of "Sweet Home California," with altered lyrics from Lynard Skynard's hit. After the show we went into the bar where some girl who was a losing contestant on American Idol had just played. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Coke to hydrate myself. Sharon was standing beside me, anxious to go back Jim and Jen's room to party some more. An older black lady on the barstool next to me started chatting me up, laughing at everything I said and being overly friendly. Some might call it flirtatious. I introduced her to the reluctant Sharon and she introduced us to her husband who was beside her, but he failed to recognize us as he gazed out into the bustling crowd of people. Sharon kept nudging me to go back to the room. I wanted to chill out and sip my pop and talk to strangers. So, back to the room we went. We stayed up with Jim and Jen and friends till about 3am. We woke up at 11am in our king size bed threw on our clothes and drove home. I was fine but Sharon was hungover. When we got home, our neighbor Harry called to wish us Happy New Year and to get technical support for Windows XP, and I told him of our evening at the Los Gatos Lodge. "Oh! The Los Gatos Lodge," said Harry, "That's a notorious SWINGERS hang out!" Married swingers that is. Harry noted that he was a victim of the Los Gatos Lodge in his younger years. So, now I understand why the lady at the bar was so friendly. I'm was flattered, Sharon was grossed out. Happy New Year! (I'll post a photo later tonight.)
December 29, 2004
Dismembering the Tree
It was just like a scene from the Sopranos except I was dismembering a Christmas tree instead of Richie Aprile's body. I took my 11.8 amp DeWalt reciprocating saw and trimmed the bottom branches off. I unscrewed the tree stand bolts and dragged the dead body out onto the deck. I then cut the tree in three and threw the pieces off of the deck towards the fire pit below. Thoughts raced through my mind of the CSI team spraying a form of luminol that detects fir tree sap. I was doomed! Needles were everywhere! I Shop-Vac'ed for hours and mopped but the needles kept reappearing. Segue. I had this idea for a TV show. I think they should mix the Sopranos with CSI. It just bothers me to see these mafia guys kill off eachother so sloppily. The CSI team would have found Ralph Cifaretto's blood all over his kitchen where he was killed. Everyone knows that bleach can't hide blood stains from the luminol.
December 25, 2004
Christmas Eve Drunk
My benefactor Mister Richard Skrenta has inspired me to write tonite. My QWERTY fingers dance, fueled my Mr. James Beam and Coca Cola. My respected audience: Please do not expect a grammatical opera of prose as I write this evening pissed out of my skull...After making crank calls to many relatives and friends impersonating Russian boyfriends from highschool cyber-stalking or parking authority hot shots bitching about Mazda Miatas parked illegally, my Emmy Award winning impersonations beckoned for recognition. The last phone call of the evening portrayed four year olds donning Darth Vader voice encrypted helmets sounding like a birthday party at Chucky Cheese without earplugs. Meanwhile, yoda is in Palm Desert playing black jack until the wee hours of the morning. On we go. Here I sit in robe, drinking Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water hydrating my liver that begs for forgiveness. How romantic you say? Today was one of the most productive days I've had in awhile. I nailed the redwood batons over the siding repair job left over from this summer. At 5pm the job was complete. Some festive drinking needed to be started. After guzzling Jack Daniels and Coke the night prior and discovering my body's affinity to the beligerent accolades of white trashism, I thought I would stick to the recipe. Mr. Jim Beam was hiding in the corner. Sharon was impatient to open gifts. The fireplace was filled with the fallen redwood branches from the windstorm from the night before.
The lovely Sharon made appetizers with cucumbers, smoked salmon, philly cream cheese and a single caper. We ate so many, that our meat ravioli dinner was avoided due to our stomach's fullness. We telephoned all the members of our families as we got plastered upon our olive color couch. Back in Canada it was around -20 degrees Celcius freezing rain and snow storms. Meanwhile we were having troubles with the 68 degrees fareheit. The night was young so we headed over to our neighbors, Claudio and Kim's house to harrass them. Claudio concocked martinis comparable to the size of hurricanes in the French Quarter. This seemed to do it. We tried playing Trivial Pursuit but my brain was in a knot. Standing up to leave I tripped on some imaginary object on the floor and dropped like tree, face planting the floor. I didn't feel a thing. Merry Christmas and Happy Hangover!
December 20, 2004
Here Comes Santa Claus...
Christmas is upon us. So, I organized a little field trip for us and our neighbors to ride the Roaring Camps Railroad Holiday Lights Train through Santa Cruz. After obtaining our tickets we boarded the train and grabbed some seats in the rear car. Live roving carolers were singing on an amplified sound system that blared throughout the train. There was a car with a bar serving hot apple cider sans alcohol. I was prepared for this tame train and brought my own travelling coffee mug full of Bailey's and vodka on ice. Trains and alcohol go together like milk and cookies. Just ask any hobo. One Christmas when I was in university, I took a train home to northern Ontario and we drank the beer car dry. Yes, Canadian trains have "Beer Cars." Back to Santa Cruz... After the train started rolling Mrs. Claus entered the train followed by Old Saint Nick himself in the flesh. Not wanting to miss this photo opportunity with the jolly fat man in red I invited him to jump onto our laps for the shot. As David took the photo, my hand was upon Santa's lower back, which I discovered to be quite moist! So, I called him on it and said, "Santa! You're all wet! What's with that?" He avoided my question and just Ho-Ho-Hoed his way on to the next wided-eyed kid. Meanwhile, my hand is covered in Santa juice. Forensics specialist Stephen kicks in. Is it sweat? The train is cool inside and half of the cars are just covered in tents with the cool ocean air blowing through them. I know about sweat in costumes. I used to work professionally as Freddie the Falcon, the mascot for ASCU Community Credit Union. I'll tell you, I lost about a gallon of fluids in 85 degree weather on a float in the Community Day Parade. There's no reason Santa should be sweating enough to wet his suit. If so, perhaps future Santa suits should be made of breathable Gore-tex. I know what you're thinking, but Santa wasn't riding the Nightrain and he was not covered in booze. There was no odor present. Curious, I followed the moist merry old man into the other cars as he greeted the children and posed for pictures. Most of the train's passengers were swilling the free cider and the rocking of the cars back and forth as we rolled along may have caused some spillage onto the red suit. I noticed no stickiness to the moisture, but the cider was watered down a bit. I've got a theory. I'm thinking, maybe this year is Santa's turn to get even. Maybe that gig at the mall didn't work out with all those little kids sitting on his lap and wetting their pants. Yup, Santa's gettin' even this year! You can depend on it!
December 14, 2004
When the Headlights Hit Your Eye like a Big Pizza Pie...
Last night Sharon made a very good homemade pizza with Trader Joe's pizza doe. She put prosciutto that we had in the fridge on it. Prosciutto is the best pizza topping. Pizza places don't provide it as a topping because it is so expensive. Our neigbor David who runs a gourmet pizza restaurant said that pizza is a great product to sell because it only costs about $1.25 to make. Which leads us to the nightmare I had last night. I did a google search on pizza induced nightmares but nothing substantial came up. Anyways, I'm delivering a pizza to a house on the old street we used to live as children, LaSalle Court with a lawn covered in white snow. Dennis Guerrieri is laying in the snow amongst wild deer who are rather inquisitive of the pizza I am delivering. I am wearing the hat of my former 1987 employer, "Papa Piccolino's Pizza." Don't laugh, this is true. We had very high quality red, white and green ski jackets (that we got to wear to highschool during the day) that everyone was envious of. A fleet of seven white Dodge Omnis mixed with their sibling Plymouth Horizons with automatic transmissions rested in the freshly paved stip mall parking lot on Great Northern Road. These cars were treated far worse than rental cars. Train tracks in Sault Ste. Marie's northwest end were atop high ridges on the road. A handful of the driver's enjoyed that late night run to Old Goulais Bay Road and the opportunity to get all four wheels in the air. It was like getting your wings. Other vehicle testing occurred on a regular basis, like driving the car at high speeds in first gear or shifting into reverse while travelling at 60 kilometres per hour in drive. For some reason these acts of god were not covered by the 60,000km drive train warranty. After about three years that business decided to call it quits. The young owners Arthur and Craig where great guys. Too much money was spent on radio advertising in the first year. Also the pizza market is a hard one to crack in the Soo. The cost was high for that lesson learned in that business venture. Back to the dream. So, Anthony Brunetta is to my left and I start throwing pieces of pizza to the deer who is catching them like an Australian shepherd would a frisbee on Bondi Beach. I ran out of pizza and the dear turned into a posessed demonic deer and puts Anthony into a headlock, choking him! I pass through that space between sleep and consciousness, disoriented not sure of where I was, or what side of the bed I was on. After realizing, I got up to drain the main vein.
One of our favorite neighbors came over tonight because he was looking for his bottle of Grey Goose vodka that he conviently stores in our freezer. After consuming a shot he told us how he hit a deer this evening with his white Toyota 4Runner on Glenwood Drive. He had no idea if the deer lived but there's a catering job's worth of damage to the front of the vehicle. Yesterday I noticed the one year old heated grips on my motorcycle are no longer working. Sharon accidently dropped on the kitchen floor, two pieces of her famous pottery collection. Broken pottery. Sad Sharon. Happy Holidays.