Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Je ne suis pas fiable

"Fiable" means "reliable," according to my Larousse Dictionnaire Compact. Anyway, sorry about the whole never posting even though I keep saying I'm going to thing. The problem is that the less often I write, the more daunting the task seems when I sit down to do it, as there's always so much to say. The obvious solution would be to write shorter posts every day, but, you know, other things get in the way. Like French! And drinking! So this will be pretty quick, as I'm heading downtown for lunch with the guys (to clarify, this is as opposed to "the girls," who I obviously wouldn't be having lunch with if I could avoid it).

In class this morning a fellow Edmontonian (who now goes to the University of Nebraska on a diving scholarship) and I had to give a ten-minute presenatation on the city for our oral midterm, which went okay until the question part of the presentation, at which point we stood there in awkward silence while everyone in the class tried desperately to think up Edmonton-related questions to ask us, including our prof. Turns out Edmonton just isn't as interesting as, say, London, Edinburgh, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, or the small Japanese town near Tokyo one woman is from. Go figure. Anyway, I didn't have time to mention anything about dead hookers or rotating baseballs bats, as Chris suggested, but I did get to talk about how stereotypes of Albertans apply much better to Calgary and rural Alberta than to Edmonton, which was "le fun," as they say here. Tomorrow we have our written midterm, which I really need to study for, but I just can't get motivated. When you're not sure you're even going to get credit for a course, it's surprisingly hard to care about your marks when there's a vast, interesting city out there to explore.

So anyway, besides school, things continue to be relatively rad. Yesterday we finally got to go on that tour of the city we were supposed to have two weeks ago, which was quite good, although probably not as useful as it would have been the first week. Still, it was interesting to hear (or at least partially hear, as it was in French) the history behind everything we've been seeing, if not a little disillusioning (we learned that the main square in the centre of the lower city, which has several very beautiful old-timey buildings, was actually rebuilt in the '70s, for example). But to counter that, I discovered that the place on the Plains of Abraham where we were drinking on Saturday was right by the spot where General Wolfe died, and the well where he took his last drink of water was just a few feet away from there too (history!). It was also cool to see the parliament building (sorry: L'Hôtel du Parlement) up close. The highlight for me, besides getting really sunburned, of course, was when some girl came up to me after our guide had just spent 20 minutes talking about the parliament building (and I don't care how little French you know—I think the giant Fleur-de-Lys and the dozens of statues of famous Québecois made it pretty obvious) and asked, "So, what is this?"

Alright, I've talked about history long enough. I'm sure you all have one question on your minds: what really retarded things has Joanna been up to lately? Well, the usual, really, including taking an hour in the mall to buy a pen yesterday while we waited in the grocery store for her (I publicly vowed that I'm not setting foot inside another mall for as long as I'm here, so I couldn't come with her). But best of all is the elaborate vendetta she has against Nelson (that Venezuelan guy we were hanging out with earlier in the trip) because he decided to start dating (or at least sleeping with) this Mexican girl. See, this really tears Joanna apart, since she can't handle not being everyone's favourite person (ironically enough, as I haven't met a single person here who likes her—even Steph and Jen are starting to get annoyed), hence her indignant comment about me being Matt et cetera's roadie. Because of this, she's decided that the best way to handle her insecurity is to be a total bitch every time she sees him. Nelson, being a relatively nice guy, is somewhat bothered by this, and apparently went to go talk to her about it yesterday. She then proudly recounted to me how she told him that we're all really pissed off at him and don't want to hang out with him as long as he's seeing that girl.

So basically Nelson temporarily thought we're all incredibly shallow, insecure people like Joanna because she decided that it would help her cause if she pretended we were all on her side. Luckily, I ran into him today after class and explained everything and we had a good laugh about how crazy she is. Bon temps, as they probably don't say here (I think that actually means something about the weather being good).

Hmmm ... what else have I been up to? We went into centre ville for some excellent crepes on Tuesday and spent a while wandering around (the city is much more enjoyable at night, mainly because it's cooler and therefore you can see things without wanting to die). Speaking of which, I hate to talk endlessly about the weather, but I've never experienced anything like this before. It's actually a little better today, but for the last four or five days, it's been around 30 with anywhere between 90 and 100 per cent humidity, making it feel closer to 40. There was a thunderstorm on Tuesday and there was actually steam rising off the ground while it was raining, if that gives you any sense of what it's like. Actually, just imagine what a really small room feels like when you run an extremely hot shower in it for about an hour—that's exactly what it felt like outside for the last four days or so. Not only does this make you feel incredibly gross all the time, but it also makes your hair look really stupid. Needless to say, there was a decent amount of complaining going on.

Monday we went to this "soirée internationale," which was basically a glorified talent show for the people in the program. It wasn't bad as talent shows go, although there were the requsite number of embarrassment-shiver-inducing performances (like some girl singing I Will Always Love You so badly that people were actually laughing during it, or the guy reading his poetry who kept mixing up his words because he was so nervous). And ... what else? Oh yeah, the highlight of my week! How could I forget? On Sunday Sean actually managed to organize quite a decent potluck (I made fruit salad after making it explicitly clear to everyone that I can't/don't cook). Unfortunately, that was the hottest day of them all, and everyone decided to eat in the kitchen where it was even hotter (not exaggerating, I think it was about 45 degrees in there—I was sweating like I'd been at the gym for an hour, and I don't sweat). Still, it cooled off a bit once it got dark, so we decided to head into town to see Calexico, who were playing for the last night of the festival.

This trip resulted in two very stereotypically Québecois things happening: first, we wanted to drink but didn't want to pay the exorbitant drink prices at the festival, so we bought some beer and were drinking it out of paper bags (classy!) while watching Calexico. This was all fine and well until one of the guys working the festival came up to me and starting saying something in French which I couldn't really understand since he was talking quickly and it was loud. I assumed he wanted me to throw my beer out, so I was on my way to do it when he stopped me and told me that he just wanted me to finish it quickly and then throw it out—never have I encountered a Canadian city that's so liberal with its drinking laws. It's hilarious.

Secondly, we left for part of Calexico's set to check out some of the big street performers' festival that's going on right now. Now, this may not surprise some of you, but street performances here are very different from street performances back in Edmonton, namely in that they make absolutely no sense. The first one we watched consisted of two guys in nothing but white underwear performing vaguely sexual acrobatic tricks together. As if this wasn't good enough, we then stumbled upon a performance for kids that was going on. As soon as we started watching, I was reminded of Chris once telling me about how crazy and nonsensical French/Québecois kids' television shows are.

Okay, this is really long and I have to go to dinner, so I'm going to post it and finish my story later. What a cliff hanger!!


Hey all! Just wanted to let everyone know that with the new hockey season a-comin' and the draft happening next weekend, Mike Winters and I have started up an blog where we can rant and holler about everyone's favourite team. Actually, it'll be more thoughtful than that makes it sound, and hey, Mike'll be serving up some hot little cartoons as well, which will hopefully distract from my long, boring discussion pieces about the virtues of an overload powerplay setup and how Brad Isbister should be ground up into hamburger and fed to his parents.

Anyhow, we haven't really done much to pretty-ify the whole thing yet, but check it out at coveredinoil.blogspot.com. It'll be in the links to the right as well. Thanks all.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

the incredible lightness of raddening

Hey! So how about all that self-pity a couple days ago, huh? Oh, poor me; Edmonton is so lame and I'm so awesome... yeah. Sorry about that, everyone.

Anyhow, check this shit out, homos and lady-homos: for the past couple of months, I've occassionally had this weird feeling that my phone's vibrate function is going off in my right pocket, even though it's not. I shrugged it off as me being crazy, but over the past couple of days, I've come to discover that if I'm in a seated position and I tilt my neck forward like I'm looking at my shoes, my pelvic area and the backs of my legs light up with this really sharp, jarring "buzzzzzz....," which, of course, has prompted me to interesting new realms of freakoutery.

While thoughts of brain tumours, spinal fluid viruses and impending paralysis crossed my mind at first, I think I've narrowed the whole thing down to a pinched nerve in my neck that's affecting my legs, seeing as the problem pretty much goes away if I take a Robaxacet or two. Crazy, hey? Still kinda wondering what I should do for the long term about this. But for now, drugs are the answer.

Yeah, anyway, that's my story. And what an interesting one it's been!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Bee-lee! Bee-lee!

That's what it sounds like when thousands of French people try to get Billy Talent to play an encore. Strangely enough, it didn't work (seriously, they didn't come back out. I have no idea why, considering I'm sure that was the biggest crowd they've played to in their entire career).

Anyway, yeah, so I totally saw Billy Talent on Friday night (yeah, yeah, I know—it's a guilty pleasure, okay?). It was surprisingly good, but I think that had more to do with the fact that they were playing to what was probably close to 10 000 people on the Plains of Abraham than their music. Ah, being crammed in front of a stage with thousands of sweaty French people—is there anything sexier? Quite possibly.

Speaking of sexier, I was introduced to a bunch of guys from Mississippi on Friday night, including Mississippi Jed (yes, that's right, his name is actually Jed), who has long hair and enjoys telling us this story over and over again about some guy in the town he goes to college in saying, "Don't y'all got barbers back in [insert name of equally stereotypical hometown here]?" He also has a hilariously thick accent and says y'all all the time, but this isn't nearly as good as his friend Drew. Close your eyes and think of what a high-school football player from Mississippi would look/act like, and it's like you're looking at a photo of this guy: polite, corn-fed, kind of dumb, blonde bowl-cut, too-high jeans with his polo tucked into them, old Nikes, etc.

So anyway, I went down to see Billy Talent with Matt, Mississippi Jed, and some guy from Grant MacEwan (the sheer number of people from Edmonton here is kind of creepy) with the intention of meeting up with some other people later. Unfortunately, I managed to get separated from everyone (like I said, thousands of sweaty French people), and only managed to avoid going home by myself by chance when I ran into Garrett and Sean (the other U of A guys), who were with a couple of lovely 18-year-olds from Saskatchewan, whose favourite pastime is apparently complaining about walking up hills (I guess that's something you can generally avoid doing in Saskatchewan). The highlight of my evening was when these two girls were going on and on about how we weren't doing exactly what they wanted to be doing, and Sean actually came out and said, "You're not the queens of your high school anymore." They left after that.

So after getting rid of the Saskys using Sean's subtle tactics, we wandered over to Dagoberre, the club we were at last Friday, to see if anyone was around, and discovered that if you stand outside Dagoberre for long enough you run into every single person you know in Québec City. Seriously. Not only did we find Matt and Jed again, but I also saw about half my class there and pretty much everyone else I've met since I got here. Despite the ridiculous popularity of the place, however, we decided we weren't really in a "watching people grind on speakers" kind of mood, so we wandered around Vieux Québec aimlessly until we found some bar with shitty live cover music in a back alley—which reminds me, there's this one song you hear everytime you listen to live music here about a Québecois guy being in love with a girl from Saskatchewan. The chorus is "Saskatchewaaaaaaan!" which is almost as good as that "Un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, Québec!" song we heard on our first day here.

Anyway, after drinking there for a while, we decided it was time for a poutine break, and headed over to this ubiquitous fast-food place called Chez Ashton, where they not only sell regular poutine, but poutine with peas and roast beef in it and, best of all, hot dogs with fries on them—I took a photo of the menu, so I'll post that when I get home. After that (it was a long night), we decided to wander up along the old walls so those guys, who are kind of potheads, could smoke up. While up there, we ran into two guys looking for speed. After discovering that we weren't able to help them, they decided to take the opportunity to discuss separatism with us. Unfortunately, they barely spoke English, and I was the best French speaker in the group, so this resulted in a very strange political argument, half in broken English and half in broken French, about Québec's place in Canada. Good times.

Other than all this, I haven't been up to too much. The tour of the city we were supposed to take on Thursday got rescheduled again, as God was all like, "What's that? You want to get to know this city before you go home? Well that's too bad, because I totally hate you!" and then there was a big thunderstorm about ten minutes before we were supposed to leave. So now we're going next Wednesday, weather and organization permitting, of course.

Last night a bunch of us went and drank on the Plains of Abraham. It was a little bit of a throwback to high school, especially since almost everyone were drinking 40s (not me—I couldn't bring myself to stoop quite that low, despite the fact that my dinner consisted of an inedible wrap made out of—wait for it—ham and cheese and a bag of chips from Couche Tard, the Québecois version of Winks). Since about half the people we were with were Newfies, we spent the evening being taught Newfie slang, which is eerily like Cockney. My favourite was the word "burger," which means "awesome." Why? Well, because the original Newfie term for awesome was "best kind," which got shortened to "bk," which then turned into "Burger King," which is now just "burger." That island is a strange, strange place, I tells ya.

Oh, and I think I'm very slowly getting Joanna to hate me, which is a good thing. See, on Friday they went downtown without me in the afternoon (I was sleeping), but she forgot her wallet. Apparently, it's my responsibility to bring her things when she forgets them, so I agreed to meet up with her and give her her wallet whenever we made it downtown. Then, when she found out I wasn't going to come downtown until 9:30, she got really mad and just came home instead. Yesterday, in an attempt to make this up to her (for some reason), I agreed to come with her out to Québec's equivalent of South Edmonton Common so she could get her phone replaced at the Fido store—round trip, this took about three hours. While enjoying another lovely afternoon in the mall, I got lectured about how annoying it is when I talk about Edmonton with Matt, Sean, and Garrett, told that I should stop hanging out with them because people are going to start thinking I'm their "roadie" (whatever that means), and then, finally, told that she was "so over" going out every night, implying that I'm really childish because I enjoy staying out past 8pm and drinking sometimes. Then when we got home I lied about how I had to call my parents so I could get rid of her, and went and met up with those guys without calling her.

Hiiiiiigh schoooooooool!!!

oh, edmonton...

Another night of drinking about two or three too many pints, causing me to holler like an ass, confuse my words and generally embarrass myself. I've started to think I really have to knock that off, as I've come to realize I don't like waking up in the morning to the sensation that I probably said something stupid (or, at the very least, drunkenly uninteresting). Ah well. What are you supposed to do when a friend's in town, I guess.

Oh yeah, Kris Meen's leaving Alberta and going back to Toronto was the occasion last night, and it's a shame to see him go... again. Kris, Jeremy Derkson and I gathered on the Dog patio at around 8ish and hung out until it started to rain, at which point we grabbed some seats by the window and proceeded to get sincerely hammered. Along the way, Derkson was doing his best to convince me that Edmonton is a fantastic place to live and people shouldn't be so hasty to leave. He almost had me convinced, to a degree, until Dave Berry and his friend Prishani (I'm sorry, I don't know if that's the right spelling) showed up and Prishani, who runs the ECOS department at the U of A, mentioned how the people she works with basically hate me. And then I remembered why I so badly want to leave Edmonton.

I'm just so weary of that kind of bullshit, of people in that same, depressing, go-nowhere university activism crowd who decided I'm the worst person in the world for some reason--and, amazingly, continue to think that, despite my not having any contact with that scene or actual real-world impact on their lives in any way. It's infuriating to hear that people are judging me based on no actual information about my personal character, and it drives me even more nuts that I have to hear about it, because there's obviously nothing I can do to change their minds--nor should there be, because I don't feel I've done anything wrong beyond not being the cause-championing preacher/writer that they wish every journalist would be. It's petty, uninformed, small-town, retarded shit that could only exist in Edmonton's petty, uninformed, small-town atmosphere. In a bigger city, I'd hope these people would realize there are more important things to tend to in our lives than randomly hating strangers. And even if this wasn't the case, in a bigger city, I wouldn't have to hear about it. Because it fucking sucks that people take joy in hating me. And I hate how it sends me into this stupid, poor-me spiral when rationally, I know it doesn't matter. I just want to get away from it, I guess.

Oh, Edmonton...