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

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I worked for the Junos.

The job came, simply enough, as an offer in my school's job message board.
It came, fortunately, as a replacement for the one-day-a-week garbage job I had at My Daily Newspaper. And more fortunately, it paid twice what My Daily Newspaper did, times six days.
So I signed up. (For those of you getting impatient or bored, yes, I did forget to pick up Ben Mulroney once, and dropped him off on the wrong side of two lanes of traffic the next day. But be patient.)
Originally, I had to take time off from my Daily Newspaper, but my fortunately-timed firing really opened up my schedule.
So, on the first day, we picked up our Dodge Caravans, hung around the venue, and ate at the craft (free meals) table. I had 6 meals. My teammate Nick had infinity meals. I think one of us went to pick something up. I don't really remember.
Day two: we picked people up from the airport. The airport in Halifax is a beautiful 40-km drive from the city, and is really about as nice a drive as you can get on a highway. You cross the big brigde, you go through a scummy area, past a huge commercial development that leveled about 34 acres of forest and hills, and then, finally, you're home free. Trees, lakes, birds, some beer cans, a kid who got lost, you know. That kind of scenery. Whoa. So far, I'm pretty disappointed with this post. Mostly because I should be finding another job.
Day three: find some pens. No, not those pens. These are the wrong pens. Driver chief, did you send this guy to get these pens? I wanted the other pens. The special pens. BF-145-L! These aren't even PILOT pens! Papermate? We don't use papermate in Toronto.
Ah, yes. Here's the time when I make a comment on Toronto. Many of the people I worked for this week weren't Canadians, per se, but rather, Torontonians. Canadians say thank you when you get something for someone. Torontonians say either "too slow" or "I will not acknowledge your presence."
Before I get too far into this, I think I'm being a little unfair. It wasn't Torontonians, specifically. It was people, who, somewhere along the way, got better than me, or most of the people on Earth. Maybe that's what happens in Toronto. Maybe not. All I know is that if I ever want to feel like a human toilet, I'll work with these select Torontonians. If I want to feel worth more than the ground chuck special at the grocery store, I'll work for someone from .. I don't know. Care-A-Lot.
Ah, I'm not being fair. There were really nice people that I was working with. Maybe it's the TV media curse? Maybe they were stressed out. But when I'm stressed out, I go for a beer. I don't treat people like shit, at least not when they're listening. And I certainly don't care what kind of pen I'm writing with. I don't give a shit if that's the "theatre standard" or "TV pen" or "I don't care." I almost herniated the muscles that roll my eyes and raise my eyebrows sarcastically or in disbelief, because I was hard pressed to not acknowledge the fact that I worked with a bunch of primadonnas. If I would have heard "can someone go on a Starbucks run" one more time, I would have travelled back in time to the second before they were about to ask if I could go for a Starbucks run, and just scream at the top of my lungs in their face. I'd probably scare the shit out of myself, since I'd be standing right there waiting for orders when I came up beside myself and screamed at my captors. But that's all in hindsight now.
Luckily, my boss was from Cape Breton, and all the other drivers were from Oceantown. They were fine. Using the powers of politeness, jokes, and freeway ground-speed record attempts, rather than antisocial silences, condescention, and sarcasm, they kept us drivers happy. Or at least fed. For free. Until we couldn't move.
Day four: One day to the Junos. So, please... sit really still for four hoursWHOA WE NEED SIX MILLION VANS AT THE AIRPORT, THREE MILLION PENS, SIX THOUSAND TRILLION COFFEES and a kitten for the President of CTV. Or else. And no Tim Hortons kittens. Only Starbucks kittens. OH, GOD! THIS KITTEN HAS TOO MUCH FOAM!!
So, on this day, we drive around all over the place. The weather has been beautiful all week, but, since God hates Nickelback, he plays a joke on the construction crew building the red carpet setup outside: he makes it rain. They've got an entire block of Oceantown pavement covered with red acrylic low pile, and now it's soaked. Luckily, it's 45 seconds before Home Depot closes.
I get the call at 8:55:58. Daily Reporter, we need you to go pick up two wet-vacs from the rental desk at the Home Depot in outer Bosnia.
"Ten-Four," I say, making some kind of salute at my walkie-talkie.
It smiles back gently.
Racing somewhere near the speed of light (which is no small feat in a Dodge Grand Caravan), I fly towards the overly useless highway system that surrounds Oceantown, and leads nowhere. As I climb the first hill out of the city, a blanket of fog not unlike a blanket of tar or clouds or brick walls gathers around the vehicle, making the road and vehicle and other cars and lines and medians and lights completely invisible. I cautiously slow to 120 km/hour.
Three seconds later, after flipping the van over the ditch, through passing traffic, and landing upright in the Home Depot Parking lot (sadly, on top of one of the shopping cart corrals), I dash into the store, and meet the least-trained 19-year-old rentals counter desk clerk I've ever seen. That's not fair. He was trained. I'd just caught a little bit of Toronto-itis, and got really impatient. I'd forgotten the drivers' code, which is, when you're out driving, the boss thinks you're working, so, as long as you're doing something, you're not going to get in trouble. Read on.
So, I get the wet-vacs, give them to the poeple, and get out of there.
On the day of the Junos, we are surprisingly relaxed. Everything is going smoothly.
At one point, the quest was as follows: find a specific phone card, so that the head of the drivers can keep calling us, and give us more quests, mostly to do with specific pens. I am called forward.
"I need this phone card. It's only available at the post office spots at this specific chain of drug stores." Ok. Sounds great.
I begin driving to the drug stores I know are open in the area. There are two. It takes 10 minutes.
"Neal to boss."
"Go ahead."
"I can't find any."
"Keep looking."
Time passes.
"Are you just driving from store to store looking for these cards?" my boss radios seconds later.
"Pretty much."
"Why don't you look in the phone book, and just call them!?" he asks, incredulously.
"I'll do it," says my fellow driver, Fasttalker McGee.
"All right, My Daily Reporter, you stick tight there, and wait for McGee to get back to you.
I keep driving. Passing directly in front of my girlfriend's house, a thought crosses my mind. Now, it's a fairly obvious thought, but the glory of it is, I do it.
Pants off, calmly reclining, I sit the radio by the bed, and wait for the radio to guide me to phone cards.
Things get a little steamy.
"McGee to Daily Reporter."
I turn quickly, and pick up the radio. "Go ahead."
"Still can't find anything. Stay tuned." But the radio is already back on the floor.
About 35 minutes later, a call comes from the boss.
"OK, you guys. I want you to cut this out. I told you the cards could only be found at the specific store. And, since none of you bothered to tell me that the post office portion of the drug store isn't even OPEN on Sunday, I want you all back here."
"10-4," I say. "I'll be about 15 minutes." I turn the radio off.
45 minutes later, and luckily, mostly stain-free, I replace my clothing, refresh my deodorant, brush my hair, and set out for the venue again. I feel that some all-seeing agency should be at very least nominating me forsome sort of slacker certificate or trophy.
They're beginning to shut down the area around the venue, blocking it off so that nobody can attack Nickelback, kidnap those two gargantuan pustules Pamela Anderson has stuck to the front of her plastic body or otherwise disrupt Canada's sovereignty by toying with musicians that nobody listens to. And we certainly can't have anyone getting close enough to Ben Mulroney to note that "hey, that guy's face is almost entirely orange." It's true. He's orange, and he 's hyperactive. I guess that's why he's the host of a show that caters to a nation of youths and idiots who can't stay still as long as it takes to blow a fart without wondering what the next fart is going to smell like.
Anyway, Oceantown's best criminal gets a great idea. "I'm going to steal a car, and drive it all over the city, whipping the cops into such a frenzy that they don't let ANYONE within blast radius (5 km) of the Junos venue." And that's what he does.
Again and again, I try to convince officer after officer that the three passes on the dash of my van entitle me to park within a block of the venue in those three spots that he can see. They're right there. Please, please let me park there.
Another problem with this is that I wouldn't have gotten so close, if it wasn't for the cop on the other end of the street, who saw my passes, and let me in. So, in front of myself and many civilians, I see a veteran cop rag out a junior cop, while bellowing at me that if I don't move my car, I'm going to get towed.
I try to apologise, and explain that I knoiw he's just doing his job, with the intent of doing what he's told me to do, which is tun around and move out.
But he interrupts me.
"Turn around, and get out of here right now," he yells, like a grade 5 gym teacher with downs syndrome.
"You're a fucking doorknob," I say to him, before I can catch myself.
I can feel the glow from his face. It's beet red, and his hand clutches his baton. Then his brain turns on, if only a little bit.
"I may be a doorknob, but you're the one who's turning around," he says.
I'm not sure if he's joking, or whether he thought he was being witty, but it's a disarming comment. If he can turn my own insult back onto me in the heat of battle, then, sure, I'll move. As I'm driving away, I watch him berate the other driver I was talking to. I write the good cop and the bad cop's names down for future reference.
Back at the venue, the driver for the President of CTV is locked out of the venue. She was given permission to park inside, but nobody knows it. I try to help. But she acts indignant, and won't listen to me. I go inside, and talk to security. I call the president of CTV. I get passed on to the head of security for the entire event, a former RCMP officer with a good sense of humour. He's already with the President.
I tell them I'll let her park the Lincoln Navagator in our special parking spots nearby. I might as well have said I'd take a dump in the president's hair, going by the look she gives me.
"It's only for the short term, until this gets worked out," I say. Little does she know she's blocking Nickelback and some other nobody from getting into the main Junos area (or something).
She moves, trys her hardest not to thank me, and disappears. Then she gets hit by lightening, and I get the Lincoln Navigator. I move in immediately, and separate the trunk space into several bachelor apartments.
Finally, the Junos start. Monkies hit themselves in the face with their instruments, and accept their awards. Nickelback has a good pyrotechnic show. Some other stuff happens, and bands I've never heard or heard of do their thing. I watch a little.
It all ends. Everyone is frazzled. There's an after-party at one of the bars nearby. I'm exhausted, since I've been up since 8:30 a.m., and we don't stop driving and kissing up until 1:30a.m. that night.
At the party, after my beer-and-a-half, I reach into the cheese platter, grab the chunk of blue cheese, and shove it into my pocket. My driving boss sees me, and almost busts a gut the next day describing how nonchalant I was.
Last day: Airport, airport, airport. We go, come, go, come, go. One van is the luggage van, and the other four we use as people-carriers. Vans that were gutless when empty are even worse with eight people in them. I tell Justin Trudeau's wife she can't come with us because she's not on the list. She says she can. I call my boss, saying "some lady" wants to come really badly. I leave behind another CTV executive, who thinks the car coming for him is a limo, rather than a van driven by a guy who hasn't showered in ages.
But it all works out in the end.
One thing I think I've learned is that I don't really want to move to Toronto. I think, and it's no fault of their own, that the people there just get a little too intense for me, present company excuded. I'm not someone who appreciates things more because they're worth more, and I don't respect people more because they make more money or work hours that would kill a normal Atlantic-Canadian immediately. That being said, I'm unemployed, and once again, bored to tears. Working 16 hours a day really made me feel useful, and now that I'm out of it, I've kind of got the blahs again. So, hopefully, there's some kind of job out there in between Toronto stress and Maritime pay that's easy, close to a lake, and has dental benefits. And a Dodge Caravan.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

DVD Covers for Algernon

Holy shitballs, Ricky, the Post-a-palooza continues! After last night’s wallet-eating drinkathon (see pics in Chris’ previous post), I took my hangover for a walk around Chinatown this afternoon. No trip to Chinatown is complete without bootleg DVD browsing, of course. And I say “browsing” because it’s more fun to read the mangled “Engrish” on a copy of V for Vendetta than it is to actually watch a $5 handicam-shot version of the film. I did however buy a few not-videotaped-in-a-theatre-by-a-guy-breathing-over-the-soundtrack Asian titles that probably won’t show up in North America, among them a Thai film called The Unborn.

Now, there are various places online that spotlight laughably bad mangled English on bootleg DVD packaging, but this back cover text is interesting because it isn’t uniformly bad. Most of these “translations” seem to be comprised of some mix of running an Asian version of the text through Babelfish and throwing a game of Boggle at a keyboard, but this one starts out quite coherent and gradually descends into fractured nonsense – as if written over the course of several weeks by Charlie (“Charley”) in Flowers for Algernon.

It goes like this:

Based on a true story that became the talk of the town in Thailand in 2000, the Unborn is written and directed by Bundit Thongdee. Hie precious works include Hoe Down Show Down, the second highest grossing box office hit for 2002, and “The Father’s Heritage” which was well-received by critics and audiences alike.

A few spelling errors and inconsistencies aside, it’s not too bad, and can be clearly understood. Then things start to fall apart in the second paragraph/sentence.

The story begins when Por (Indira Charoenpura of Nag Nak). Who is about to give birth, wakes up in a hospital after being brutally beaten by a drug dealer.

Whoops, what the hell is that period doing in there? And why does that sentence need to be its own paragraph? Moving on.

Frightened and confused, Por finds herself confronting strage and disturbing occurences. She hears theweir of a child, and has to ceal with the appearance of a my sterious woman (Prangthong Changdam of Tigress of the King River) who she has never mer herore.

Charley’s clearly off his meds, adding random spaces, wildly misspelling some words, and then making other ones up altogether. Is there nothing sadder than the theweir of a child? Is there?!? One last sentence to go.

Trapped between reality and illusion, Por faces the most terrifying experience of her life?

This is the final Hail Mary, where the author gives it all he’s got before giving in to utter confusion, indicated by the questions mark at the end. Trapped between reality and confusion indeed! Those DVDs aren’t $4 apiece for nuthin’.


(1) What are you talking about, Neal?

(2) Who the fuck thought this would look like Elvis?