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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I'm officially the worst kind of person ...

... an Ontarian, that is. Only I'll never be an Ontarian, because they're the worst kind of people.

Anyway, this post was going to be much more dramatic with photos from the premature nostalgia tour I took before I left Edmonton, but I seem to have lost the cable that connects my camera to my computer somewhere in my travels, so that won't be happening until it turns up or I buy another one.

So here I am, in Canada's Capital City, or whatever compelling slogan Ottawa has given itself, sitting in a semi-depressing hotel room using an irritatingly slow wireless connection to post this. I have the keys to my place, but no furniture to live there yet, so in the meantime I'm staying in an extended-stay hotel just down the street.

It's been a whirwind week since I packed up and moved out last Wednesday. I spend my last three days in Edmonton with Dave Berry, irritating him (I'm sure) with my constant griping about how weird it was to be leaving the city I've lived in for my whole life. He managed to take my mind off things for an afternoon at least, though, when we went to Fort Edmonton Park—where I've never been, strangely enough. (For those of you who get the chance, it's surprisingly awesome—there's way more to see than you can reasonably do in a day, and they let you play a game involving fake bull testicles and sticks. Good times.) After several tearful goodbyes, I finally left Edmonton for good (or at least for a while) on Saturday and made a brief stop-over in Toronto on my way here. The highlight of that was clearly seeing the coolest dad in the world while out for brunch with Chris. Unfortunately we couldn't take a photo without being incredibly obviously, so my poorly phrased description will have to suffice: basically, picture your quintessential rock star—greying mane of hair, covered in diamond- and ruby-studded jewelry, pants ripped right at the thigh so you could see the bottom of his ass—only having brunch in a health-food restaurant with a regular-looking mom and two teenaged kids. It was spectacular. While in Toronto, Dave Alexander also kept us entertained at Rue Morgue's Festival of Fear, which involved a lot of horror nerds who couldn't accept that Halloween is two months away, psychobilly and, uh, drinking.

I arrived in Ottawa Monday night so I could go to my orientation yesterday. It was quite the day, which culminated in me feeling both excited and totally underqualified. For some reason I assumed I'd be one of the most experienced students in the program after working for CP this summer, but after meeting everyone I quickly realized that while I may be up there in terms of professional experience, I'm totally lacking in life experience, which is presumably relatively important if you want to be a journalist. Most of the people in the program have travelled all over the world, are trilingual, and come from countries like Mexico, Bermuda, China and Rwanda. One girl I met spent the last six months in Columbia helping street kids and speaks English, French, Spanish and Mandarin fluently. I was all like, "Oh yeah? Well, I spent five weeks in Quebec City last summer, bitch!" There are also lots of student-newspaper types, with people from the Sheaf, the Muse, the Fulcrum, the Varsity, etc., and two people from the U of A, one who wrote very sporadically for the Gateway so she could get in to Carleton (I'll reserve my opinion on people who do that here), and another who never volunteered but who did show up to orientation wearing a "Your future ex-boyfriend" T-shirt. We're already best friends.

There are 15 girls and five guys in my year, which doesn't bode particularly well for someone who hates girls—but hey, at least these are interesting, educated girls who I feel vaguely inferior to, which will certainly help. After orientation I spent the afternoon yesterday hanging out with one girl named Brianna who is from Toronto, spent the summer in St. Petersburg covering the G8 summit, and has worked for the CBC. She seems quite interesting, and I'm actually not worried at all about getting along with most of these people. Yesterday afternoon they had a party for all the MJ students that involved a whole lot of drinking, particularly among our profs (which doesn't surprise me, yet did assuage initial fears that everyone would be too wrapped up in school to be much fun). The party moved to a little pub called The Manx afterwards, which I immediately decided will be my new Garneau, if only because it has Grasshopper on tap.

The evening was spent hanging out mostly with second-year students, who all seemed really nice and gave us a huge amount of helpful advice. (Like how we should write every assignment so we can sell them, because the point of being here isn't the degree, but rather the contacts you make. And as much as I hate schmoozing, they're probably right.) The only dark spot was some asshole intern from the Ottawa Citizen who showed up because he knew one of the second-year girls. He spent the whole night going off about how he's 30 (and therefore a million times smarter and cooler than us), how he hates CP because their copy is so badly written (after I told him I interned there—I think he felt a little emasculated by that), and how he knows more about the "industry" than we can ever hope to.

Today was spent running around getting the keys to my apartment, signing my lease, and meeting the prof for my elective (a western Canadian history class. I found out the first book we're going to read is by my dad, which should be interesting). Once I had my keys I stopped by my apartment to check it out (it was as awesome as I remember) and to get my mail. It was then that I discovered I was offered a teaching assistantship by Carleton about two weeks ago, as well as a much larger scholarship than I originally thought I was going to get. Of course, Carleton was the only place that I forgot to give my new address to, so this had been sent to Edmonton, then back to Ottawa, where it sat in my mailbox until I got my keys today. This was both a relief, as it pretty much covers my tuition (!) and I was starting to feel like I was the only person here who wasn't TA-ing, and shitty, as there was a mandatory TA orientation today that I didn't go to since I thought I didn't have to. So anyway, the rest of the afternoon has been spent running around figuring out what the hell I have to do now. It sounds like I'll be helping a journalism prof with research for a major article she's working on, though, which should be great experience.

Also: grad school. TA-ing. Weird.

Anyway, classes start tomorrow, so I'm sure I'll have more to report on (get it? "Report on"?!?) then.

I miss you all. I'm buying a futon so people can come visit me. Just so you know. Eh? EH?!?!?!?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Who'll hunt the crocs now, Steve?

Australians are in shock today, sort of.
Steve Irwin, their beloved Crocodile Hunter, while filming a documentary called, more than ironically, "Ocean's Deadliest," was stung in the heart by a stingray, more than likely while holding the li'l buggah and saying, in some way or another, "croikey! What a dahling! What a beauty!" through the mouthpiece of his scuba suit. Medics tried CPR, but doctors still don't have a cure for pericardial punctures by poisonous ocean creatures.
I don't remember when I first saw The Crocodile Hunter show. All I know is that, when I first saw that wily Aussie kiss a croc, kiss a lizard, and then ride a dolphin down the main street of Brisbane, I was hooked. Every episode was supposedly different, but much the same: "Heah, today, we'ah goin' ta foind the great reah forest biter snayke. Heah he is, the little devil! LOOK at him! Isn't HE A DAHLING!?"
Of course, by this point, the snake is hanging from the end of Irwin's nose as blood runs down his face. Change the species of animal, throw in a few uncalled-for pokes with sticks, and you've got a goldmine of TV magic.
And how could the world not watch as a man who has been riding crocs since he was nine brings his one-month-old son Bob (rather than his Eight-year-old daughter Bindy-Sue, named after his favourite dog, Bindy) into the crock pit at his Beerwah, Queensland croc park? It got him a lot of flak, but this guy knew animals. Except the ones that bit him.
So I suppose Australians are in shock at Irwin's death today the same way they're in shock every morning when the sun comes up. "Crikey," they all say at once, as it echoes though the streets, "Oi can't beloive it haeoppened."
Like the sun coming up, it was only a matter of time before a man who picked up and kissed every poisonous creature there is Down Under got stung, bit, or eaten to death by one of them. Despite that, I'm going to miss the li'l buggah.
As he once explained to someone, "I have no fear of losing my life - if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it."
Without Steve, the world will be a much safer, much more boring place.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Who likes this game?

I found something fun. Play along!