Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Roo: what's a good name for a book on winter camping?

J: snow is thicker than water: murder camps in winter

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

name game

So I'm getting a puppy at the end of March, right around my birthday. The bitch who gave birth to my mom's dog (Charley the Wonder Poodle, the only dog in the world who can bake muffins and brew you a perfect espresso with a nice thick crema) just had a gorgeous litter a few weeks back, on Groundhog Day. Check out these little monsters:

Spare me the "why a poodle" question because I'm about to answer it anyway. Bred and trained properly, standard poodles can be fantastic, cuddly, laid-back, quiet, occasionally hilarious, well-mannered dogs. I think I'm going to get a boy dog, even though in this breed there isn't supposed to be much difference between the males* and females, because I've heard that they're slightly easier to train. Poodles also don't shed, which is awesome in my books, and they tend to not absolutely stink to high-fucking-hell when wet.**

So anyway, now I have to come up with a name. When I was a kid, my best friend Alia and I named every new creature*** "Freddy" or "Herman", which we thought was pretty funny. Despite excellent name suggestions such as "Action Item" and "Poodie P. Schnoodle"****, I am stumped by this process of coming up for a moniker for something that is going to be my little buddy for the next 12 years.

So yesterday I got this great idea that I'd name it Rorschach, because you know, a black dog is kind of like an ink blot test that I could use to conduct elaborate psychological testing on friends and acquaintances:

"I see two men fighting."
"I see a butterfly."
"I see a map of the world!"
"I see eyes. Eyes, and a clitoris."*****
"I'm hungry. Do you have any more of those almonds?"

OK, now it's your turn. Any suggestions? (I'm looking for names, not inkblot interpretations.)

* neutered males, anyway

** some people mistake me for a dog lover, but I am not. I love certain dogs. Similarly, people who I love mistake me for a people lover, but I am not. I just love you.

*** caterpillar, bumble bee in a jar, ladybug, you name it - we weren't allowed real pets for the longest time

**** this latter suggestion from The Dude, who then complained that he was barred from participating in the process of choosing names for his daughters

***** this is actually what my good friend John claimed he saw in a Picasso painting we looked at together in Barcelona--of a field of wheat--and I laughed so hard and for so long that I nearly got kicked out of the museum - he was going on something like his 72nd hour without sleep after performing in Toronto and then flying overseas to meet me, both of which were conducted with much wine involved, and he was in deliriously rough shape, staggering around the Barrio Gotica with me blurting out wonderful, foul absurdities

Monday, February 11, 2008


I've been bad. Bob Wiseman did the coolest thing for me and I didn't even mention it here. He did this concert where he jammed with Catherine MacLellan on a CBC show called Fuse, and he invited me* and a few other folks in town to go, and it was great.

The idea with Fuse is they ask one musician or group to pick another musician or group that they have never played with. Then they put them together and these people get, like, one afternoon to hack around and come up with a concert together. It's really neat and the best ones have this kind of jovial feel to them, a bit like being in a living room packed with 100 strangers, with some musicians doing their thing in your midst. (CBC will soon archive the show for online streaming and when they do, I'll post the link.)

Toward the end Wiseman and MacLellan did a cover of Liz Phair's "Divorce Song" from Exile in Guyville.

That Liz Phair album reminds me of being in Vancouver in 1993, where I first heard really old Bob Dylan recordings** and got properly introduced to Elvis Costello by my friend Paul, and my roommate Chris gave me Bob Wiseman's City of Wood and the Wrench Tuttle album. I also remember a geeky friend of mine excitedly pointing out that part of Phair's nipple showed on the cover of Exile in Guyville, just as I recall the night we all got out of hand and gleefully kicked a hole in the wall and discovered that our shitty, robin's-egg-blue student house was uninsulated.

So anyway, Bob and Catherine decided to do a second take of Divorce Song, and they invited people up to sing with them. The friend I was with knew I knew/loved the song because I'd thoughtfully jabbed him in the gut with my pointy elbow when they first announced they were doing it, and whispered, "Oh yeah! This is gonna be great!"***

Most of my friends know I won't do karaoke because even though I love the idea I just can't do it. I just can't and won't so don't try to make me because I will claw out your eyes and kick you ruthlessly in your most tender places and cover your entire body with acid spit and writhe on the floor.

So my friend, who apparently never read the dossier on my inability to sing publicly pushed me on stage to sing along, and, you know, what the hell. Get over yourself, I thought. Liz Phair, she's just so good, and something about the feeling in the room that evening was just so relaxed and good natured that somehow I didn't fall to my knees and weep with embarrassment. It also helped that I stood so well back from the mic that I was probably inaudible. The woman to my right had a beautiful voice, and Amanda Putz seemed to know what she was doing with that shaker.

Some kind stranger took this picture, and then sent it to me because I asked.

Anyway, thanks Bob, for being kind and fun and giving a great performance, and thanks Catherine MacL for your sweet voice, thanks random strangers for taking pictures of me giving Bob devil horns while he flipped the bird at the lens and then sending them to me, and thanks CA for letting me beat you around the head, face and abdomen with my forehead and elbows.

*understand that we don't really know each other, so this is generally just a generous and trusting cool human thing to do

**where you could still hear how wistfully in love Dylan was, musically, with Guthrie, all played to me by a guy who I was in secretly love with, but who would have been all wrong for me, who was more in love with Dylan anyway

***also bonking him forcefully on the nose with my granite forehead as I tried to get my mouth near enough his ear to whisper

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

oh yeah! time for a tirade and some poetry!

Hi folks, it's me... WBE (worst blogger ever).

I've been super busy with contracts lately and trying to shovel as much moolah into my RRSPs as I can so that I don't have to pay tons of tax this year.*

Anyway, I'm finally moved to post something after reading one of the most depressing articles ever about genetically-modified onions that won't make you cry. Worst line in the article: "we would like to see them become the household and industry norm within the next decade" (italics mine).

So who's up for an incoherent tirade and some poetry? YOU ARE? Great. I know that's what you come here for and I like to deliver. I've just the thing:

Onions make you cry! Get over it! Can't we let just a few things be uncomfortable? Does everything have to be so boringly easy and perfectly pleasant? We're already destroying the planet with our climate-controlled homes, drive-through bank machines and over-processed over-packaged nutritionally-void so-called food, do we now seriously have to fuck with the onion? How about putting some of that research time and energy into addressing any one of the more pressing concerns, like renewable non-polluting energy, working out some climate change solutions, eliminating human-made carcinogens from our air, water, soil and food chain. Or if you really are interested in genetics, how about getting involved in preserving the DNA of all those fruits and vegetables that are being whittled down to just a handful of varieties, or like, saving whales or something. JUST A THOUGHT, YOU ONION-FUCKING WEINER POOPIES.

I sort of imagine that a few tears and burning eyeballs are the price we pay for its deliciousness, for the depth of flavour it adds to so much of our food. I figure it's a fair price to pay just for the pleasure of smelling it frying in butter.

So as a bit of an antidote, I offer you "Ode to the Onion" by that poet, activist and womanizing genius, Pablo Neruda:

luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
the table
of the poor.

You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone

and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.

Thank you for weighing in, Mr. Neruda. I almost feel better.

*I'm all for the welfare state, don't get me wrong, but setting aside a bit for when I'm a crotchety paddling hiking skiing boozy geriatric is probably a good idea.