Thursday, 29 December 2011

Spriggsblog Goes To The Library


Quotation Of The Day:  Anthony Powell -- Books do furnish a room

This being part the next in our year end wrap-up, and today we deal with this year's books.

As i said earlier, i'm a list freak, and i keep track of what i read. Here's the 2011 bunch:

Jan. 10:  Ian Rankin – The Complaints
Jan. 15:  Roberston Cochrane – The Way We Word
Jan. 22:   Robert Barnard – A City Of Strangers
Jan. 29:  Alex Games – Balderdash And Piffle
Feb. 5:  Ian Rankin – Knots & Crosses
Feb. 20:  Ian Rankin – Fleshmarket Close
Feb. 27:  Robert Barnard – A Scandal In Belgravia
Mar. 8:   Michael Hall & Brian Proffitt – The Joy Of Linux
Mar. 18: P.G. Wodehouse – Full Moon
Mar. 25: Ian Rankin – Hide & Seek
Apr. 2:  Ian Rankin – Let It Bleed
Apr. 11: Robert Barnard – Touched By The Dead
Apr. 26: Kingsley Amis – The Old Devils
May 1: Julian Barnes – Pulse
May 12: Ian Rankin – Watchman
May 20: Nick Hornby – Slam
May 26: Isaac Asimov, Terry Carr & Martin H. Greenberg – 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories
May 31: Julian Barnes – Flaubert's Parrot
Jun. 5: Ian Rankin – Tooth And Nail
Jun. 16: Ian Rankin – A Question Of Blood
Jun. 28: Graeme Thomson – Under The Ivy: The Life And Music Of Kate Bush
Jul. 7: Nicolas Freeling – Not As Far As Velma
Jul. 10: Anthony Burgess – One Hand Clapping
Jul.21: Ian Rankin – Dead Souls
Jul. 28: Bruce Chatwin – The Songlines
Aug. 16: Emilio Raggi, Keir Thomas, Trevor Parsons, Andy Channelle & Sander van Vugt
                           – Beginning Ubuntu Linux
Aug. 27: Ian Rankin – Black & Blue
Sept. 6: Ian Rankin – Mortal Causes
Sept. 16: Ian Rankin – Doors Open
Sept. 26: Martin Myers – The Assignment
Oct. 9: Nancy Edmonds Hansen – How You Can Make $25,000 A Year Writing (No Matter Where You                       Live)
Oct. 17: Nicolas Freeling – A Dwarf Kingdom
Oct. 28: Ian Rankin – The Impossible Dead
Oct. 29: Terry Deary – Horrible Histories: Stratford-Upon-Avon
Nov. 12: Ian Rankin – The Naming Of The Dead
Nov. 20: Ian Rankin – Strip Jack
Nov. 22: Michael Ondaatje – The Collected Works Of Billy The Kid
Nov. 26: Julian Barnes – The Sense Of An Ending
Dec. 11: Northrop Frye – The Great Code: The Bible & Literature
Dec. 14: Lin Carter – Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord Of The Rings

Now, a lot of these were books that i read for the second or third time.  Of the new ones, the perceptive reader will note that i've been on an Ian Rankin binge.  He's been writing since the 80's but i only discovered him a few years ago and i've been grabbing up everything i can.  Unfortunately, this has lead to a problem:  i've read so many of his books in such a short time, i sometimes can't remember which was which.

Another favourite writer is Julian Barnes (www.julianbarnes.com).  I've read three of his books this year -- an oldie but goodie ("Flaubert's Parrot") and two new ones, "Pulse" and "The Sense Of An Ending."

And this year's winner is:  
















To quote the review in The Globe & Mail: it's "a meditation on memory and the way the past is reconstructed to suit the needs of the present."  It also won this year's Man Booker prize so someone, at least, agrees with me (first time for everything).

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Spriggsblog Goes To The Movies


 Quotation Of The Day:  Billy Wilder -- An actor entering through the door, you've got nothing.  But if he enters through the window, you've got a situation.

This being part 2 of my year-end wrap-up, this edition dealing with the movies (or more accurately, the DVDs)  i have watched this year.

Well, i'm a bit of a list freak, and i've kept track of everything i saw:

Jan. 11: 48 Hours

Feb. 8: Taxi Driver
Feb. 12: The Replacement Killers
Feb. 15: Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon
Feb. 27: Goodfellas

Mar. 2: Heaven
Mar. 9: Salt
Mar. 22: The Net
Mar. 30: 25th Hour

Apr. 12: The Ghost Writer
Apr. 13: Green Zone
Apr. 22: The Bourne Ultimatum
Apr. 23: The Bourne Supremacy
Apr. 24: The Bourne Identity (yes, i know i watched them in reverse order)
Apr. 26: Leaving Las Vegas
Apr. 27: Smilla's Sense Of Snow

May 1: The Adjustment Bureau
May 2: Romy And Michelle's High School Reunion
May 12: Eastern Promises
May 23: La Femme Nikita
May 24: Mean Streets
May 25: The Taking Of Pelham 1 2 3

June 21: Duck Soup

July 19: Get Shorty
July 20: Salt
July 21: The Adjustment Bureau

Aug. 9: Inglourious Basterds
Aug. 17: Adoration
Aug. 24: Independence Day

Oct. 10: Sleuth
Oct. 11: Blow
Oct. 24: Source Code
Oct. 25: Candyman
Oct. 28: Frantic

Now, i love films, but what a dismal record since October!  There have been just so few evenings when i seem to have had the requisite two (or more) hours to spare, so i've been watching episodes of television series (on DVD), things like Father Ted, The Big Bang Theory (thanks, Jen!), Hill Street Blues and The Rockford Files.  Also, you'll notice that most of the above are older movies, most of them i've watched two or three (or more) times.

And i won't keep you in suspense, i know you're dying to know what was my favourite new film of the year.

Grabbing the top spot is  (ta-daaa) "The Adjustment Bureau" (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt).  But a very close second is "Source Code" (Jake Gyllenhall, Vera Farmiga).

Which kinda sorta leaves "Salt" in 3rd place, as it was (i think) the only other "new" film i saw in 2011.  And it was all right, lotsa action and very entertaining.  But there was something ... like when the character played by Angelina Jolie watches her husband be murdered and does nothing.

Th-th-that's all folks!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Year-End Wrap-Up, Part 1

Quote of the day: Richard Thompson -- We sing Hallelujah / at the turning of the year.

Right, well i haven't written anything in a bit -- primarily because, until Christmas Eve, i hadn't had a day off in ten days -- something i'm a bit angry about, actually.  But it's over and done.  And i had a super Christmas; i hope that you, my regular reader, had a great one, too.

I suppose it's not too early to start by "best of 2011" lists, but i'll start slowly -- with my favourite folk music CDs.

1. June Tabor & The Oysterband -- "Ragged Kingdom"

















2. Bruce Guthro -- "Celtic Crossing"

















3. June Tabor - "Ashore"


















And special mention must go to "Another Christmas Present From The Albion Band."  But as it's live recording from 1986, i don't think i can include it.

And that's my top 3.  I don't buy a lot of folk music albums, although i love it.  But most of the performers i grew up with, are either no longer active, or are shadows of their former selves














Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Today Is The Tuesday I Should Have Had Last Tuesday

Quotation of the day: Woody Allen -- She wore a short skirt and a tight sweater and her figure described a set of parabolas that could cause cardiac arrest in a yak.

Time constraints seem to have resulted in me only posting to this modest li'l blog o' mine on my day off, which, most weeks, is Tuesday, but there was no post last Tuesday.  Why (i hear you ask)?

First, last Monday, i started to feel the symptoms of a cold; by Tuesday it was full-blown and i spent the day coughing and sneezing (with eyes and nose streaming).  Poetic justice, really:  i was talking to someone at the pub last week about the 'flu shot -- i said i'd never had one and boasted that i hadn't had so much as a cold in about ten years (a fact i attributed to my healthy lifestyle: i drink and smoke too much and try to avoid fresh fruit & vegetables).  Three days later, aaaa-CHOOOO! Sniff, koff.

But that's not the only reason there was no new posting last week.  I had computer problems all day.  Again!  Good grief, i love computers when they work, but i seem to have so many problems with mine.

It began in the morning, when i discovered that i couldn't send any email.  I did some Googling, tweaked some settings, disabled my firewall, even power-cycled my modem.  Nothing.  Then i tried disabling my anti-virus and re-booting and ... Windows wouldn't load!  It loaded my wallpaper, but nothing else, no desktop icons or Start Menu, just the wallpaper.  I thought at first that Windows was lost altogether, but after five minutes, my screen saver kicked in so i knew that i still had an operating system, just no way to use it.

So i plugged my network cable in to my laptop and did yet more Googling (coughing and sneezing all the while).  I found a few possibilities, but nothing worked.  "Why," i cried in despair, "do my computer probs seem to be unique in the history of personal computers? Why?!?"  And i added a superfluous "aaaah-CHOOO!"

Finally, it occurred to me (with no help from Google) that maybe Windows Explorer had crashed when i re-booted earlier, so i decided to re-boot again, this time into "Safe Mode With Command Prompt."  At the prompt i ran "explorer.exe" and Eureka! (as Archimedes said).  Windows loaded.  Whew!  I'd just spent a fair chunk of the hard-earned on this compooter at the repair shop a few weeks ago, maybe i could avoid further expense.

It seems that i had two different problems, then, instead of (the premise i'd spent most of the morning working on) just one.  Whilst in safe mode, i ran an anti-virus scan, an anti-spyware scan, i defragged, i deleted temp files, all this diagnostic shit that one does on a regular basis (when one remembers).  And re-booted.

It worked! Hurrah! But .. i still couldn't send email.  GRRRRRRRRRRR!

I plugged the network cable back into the desktop and went to visit Mr Google yet again.  A couple of ideas came up:  i uninstalled and then re-installed both my firewall and anti-virus software.  Still no ability to send email, and then i discovered something else.

I use Thunderbird as my email client, Avast as my a/v program.  I went to an Avast forum and learned that Avast and Thunderbird are traditionally in conflict, something to do with the way each handles security settings.  I disabled Avast's email scanner and ... it worked.  I could send email again and all was right in the world.

But it was now almost 7 p.m.  I'd spent over twelve hours on it (and used an entire box of Kleenex), so i was in no mood.

 

And that's Emily Blunt to my left there.  She has absolutely no relevance to this post, i just wanted to cheer myself up :o)  Today, i'm having a good day.









Tuesday, 29 November 2011

English As She Is Spoke (Even)

I've noticed a rather bad habit creeping into my speech lately, and it is the use of the adjective "even" where no adjective is or should be required.

For example, i find myself saying things like "i didn't even notice that" (instead of "i didn't notice that") or "i didn't even reply to that email" instead of "i didn't reply."

Christ, you'd think i learnt English through a correspondence school or somefing.




The Rock's Electric Lunch

Quote Of The Day: Cat Stevens --Music makes you cry

Well, so, i listened to 94.9 The Rock's Electric lunch today (as i am wont to do on my day off)...

Vanessa wasn't working, perhaps she's finally gone on maternity leave, i dunno. It was Lee Eckley (sp?) (a new guy) instead.  He seems ok, but he's not Vanessa....

Anyway, here's the playlist:
Pink Floyd – Comfortably numb
Saga – Scratching the surface
Guns 'n' Roses – November rain
Crowbar – Oh what a feelin'
The Romantics – What I like about you
April Wine – You could have been a lady
Green Day – When i come around
The Beatles – Here comes the sun
Elvis Costello – Alison
Harlequin – Thinking of you
George Thorogood – Who do you love
The Headpins – Don't it make you feel

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

My Wars With Technology, Part 564 + Vanessa Murphy

Quotation Of The Day: Carrie P. Snow -- Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.

And so, a week or so ago, my DVD player died.  It simply would no longer play any discs i inserted.  Occasionally, i would get a "bad disc" message, but usually i just got a big fat nothing.  So, that evening, i was in the mood for dinner 'n' a movie, and so i dug out one of my old videotapes, slid it into the VCR and ... it wasn't working either, grrr.  What, i said to myself as i smashed my head against the wall, are the chances of both of these FREDs ("f*****g ridiculous electronic devices) dying on the same day?!?!?

(In retrospect, i now think it's probable that the VCR had gone belly-up some time ago; i just hadn't tried to use it in a while....)

And so, after a week of fruitless searching through troubleshooting forums (fora?) on the Internet (and also incidentally, fruitless searching for the player's users' manual), yesterday, i gritted my teeth, dusted the cobwebs from my wallet, and bought a new Toshiba SD5300 DVD player (oh, look, there's its picture:








 And i was pleasantly surprised to find how inexpensive they are nowadays.  It was a little more than half of what i paid for my last one, a couple of years ago....





Now i just have to figure out how to set it up -- which if course i won't do if  i spend my entire day off drinking beer with my butt parked in front of the compooter (as i am wont to do la la).

Now, veering tangentially from that subject, on to something more organic -- Vanessa Murphy ;o)

As it's my day off, i of course listened to Nasty Nessa's "Electric Lunch" on 94.9 The Rock.  Here's today's playlist:

Elton John - Rocket Man
Rush - Time Stands Still
Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight
Steve Earle - Copperhead Road
April Wine - Roller
The Black Crowes - She Talks To Angels
Metallica - Master Of Puppets
DeFault - Live A Lie
Rick Derringer - Rock 'n' Roll Hoochie Koo
Theory Of A Deadman - Bitch Came Back (great band, great song!) 
The Who - Pinball Wizard
Bryan Adams - Kids Wanna Rock.


Is it any wonder i love this station?


(Incidentally, Vanessa is about 10 months pregnant at the moment, so she could disappear at any time.  Whatever, then, shall i do?)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Seether

I can't contain myself.  I just bought the new CD by Seether (www.seether.com) "Holding Onto String Better Left To Fray" (daft title!) and it's without a doubt the best album i've bought all year.

They seem to have been around for a while but, to my knowledge, i'd never heard them until recently, when (my favourite radio station) 94.9 The Rock started playing a couple of tracks from this CD, "Country Song" and "Tonight" and here's the video for the latter: http://www.vevo.com/watch/seether/tonight/USWV41100046

Album of the year 2011 (unless the forthcoming Kate Bush CD is "Hounds Of Love II" LOL

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Vanessa Murphy II

Quotation Of The Day:  David Frost -- He's turned his life around. He used to be depressed and miserable.  Now he's miserable and depressed.

 Hey, everyone.  I know i haven't been keeping this up, but i must try to keep my oar in.  This blogging business.  

It's not that i've had nothing to write about; i'm aching to vent about my crappy work situation, which is deteriorating rapidly and is really dragging me down these days.  But i've heard too many reports of bloggers writing (and Facebook posters posting) about how much they hate their jobs and winding up in heaps of trouble at the orifice, er, office....

So, i'm just going to do a repeat of last Tuesday's post, and list the songs Vanessa Murphy played on today's edition of The Rock Electric Lunch:

Queen -- Bohemian Rhapsody
Rush -- New World Man
Scorpions -- No One Like You
Against Me! -- Thrash Unreal
Five Man Electrical Band -- Signs (i hate this song!)
Heart -- Crazy On You
Aerosmith -- Angel
Van Morrison -- Brown Eyed Girl
Rev Theory -- Hell Yeah
Led Zeppelin -- Babe I'm Gonna Leave You
Bruce Springsteen -- Born To Run
Colin James -- Voodoo Thing.


Too bad about the Five Man Electrical Band, but generally i love this station! 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Vanessa Murphy

I was listening to Vanessa Murphy on my favourite radio station today www.therock.fm -- she's funny, i like her, but i don't get to listen to her very often.  She's on during the day, and i'm at work..

Except on Tuesdays.

Every day, she does the "Electric Lunch" and here's today's playlist:


The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again
Honeymoon Suite - Feel It Again
Pink Floyd - Young Lust
Jet - She's A Genius
Max Webster - Let Go The Line
Hollowick - There Goes Another One
Krome - TMZ
The Rolling Stones - Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
Ozzy Osbourne - No More Tears
The Fixx - One Things Leads To Another
The Tea Party - Heaven Coming Down
Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song
Bryan Adams - Somebody

Is it any wonder i love this radio station?


Saturday, 29 October 2011

My Love / Hate Affair With Computers, Part 195

Quote of the day: William Shakespeare -- O, woe is me, To have seen what i have seen, see what i see!

So, after all of the hassle of two weeks ago, on Wednesday morning my e-mail client, Thunderbird, decided to stop working.  I could no longer send or receive e-mail.

I awoke at my usual time (which is 4.30 a.m., kids:   i lead a monkish life).  I checked my overnight messages and all was well -- the usual 30+ offers of Cialis -- but at around 5 a.m. all went a-gley ("a-gley" being the Scotch word for "kerflooey"), when i tried to write a message.  Nuffink happened. (Apart from an error message, "connection to SMTP server failed, check your connections and try again" or something like that.)

Huh?  I tried to send again.  Same error message.  So i clicked on "get mail."  Same error message.  What the hell happened to Thunderbird between 4.30 and 5.00 on Wednesday morning?

On Wednesday evening, when i returned from my job at Justin Bieber's favourite restaurant (he loves my cooking) i spent half an hour or so playing with settings, until i was able to receive, at last!  30 + offers for Cialis, and cheaper than the last 30, woo hoo!  But i was still unable to send (mope, grope).

On Thursday morning, frustrated as bejaysus, i effed around, Googled like a maniac and haphazardly played with my settings and ... eureka.

Seems that on Wednesday morning Thunderbird updated itself and reset everything.  All  (all?) i had to do was revert to all of my previous settings and everything was hunky-dory.

I hate that, i hate it, when something on my computer changes without my knowledge or permission.  It happened yesterday, too, now that i think about it.  When i returned home from The Little Shop Of Horrors, i booted up and ... my wallpaper had disappeared.  I use Manet's "At The Folies Bergere," one of my favourite paintings.  Oh, look, there it is there:








 

What i had instead was a boring blue screen (not the dreaded BCOD, i hasten to add!).

Stoopd compooters!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Adventures Of A Linux Newbie, Part 2

Oh, dearie me.

I got my desktop PC back from the shop on Tuesday, and it's so nice to have it again, after two weeks or more of struggling to learn Linux on my laptop.

I'd noticed, after two weeks on the laptop, a significant slowdown in its speed.  What would you do in Windoze? Defrag, run a registry cleaner and delete the temp files, right?  Uh, uh, not with Linux.

First of all, it doesn't store its files in a fragmented way, so defragging would be unnecessary.  Secondly, it doesn't use a registry.  But i found a way to remove the temp files.

So much in Linux requires the use of the Terminal (the equivalent of running Command Prompts in Windoze).  To clear temp files i had to open the terminal and enter "sudo apt-get clean" (without quotes).  Hey, it worked well, but i had to Google for that information, as none of my Linux help menus seem to work....  ("Sudo" stands for "super user," i.e., adminstrator, and something else.  In my case it's probably "d'oh!")

Ah, well, it's been a learning experience, this Linux lark, and i really believe that when one stops learning, one may as well lay down and die.  I shall persevere with it.  But it's so nice to have the desktop back, large screen monitor, and a keyboard i can use (i was friggin useless on the laptop's touchpad, fortunately i had a spare USB mouse lying around...)










Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ofra Haza Part 2

I wrote about Ofra Haza (Yemeni singer) a week or so ago.

She died from AIDS, tragically young, and (as my anonymous correspondent tells me) not because she was infected by her manager.  That must be an urban legend or somefing, it's what i had been lead to believe.  Wrong again!

I've been listening to her music a lot this past week or so.  Her music speaks to me.

Try this:

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Adventures Of A Linux Newbie

Happy Garbanzo Bean Day, everyone!


Well, apparently it is, at least according to Pearls Before Swine:






















So much for frivolity.

Although i've been  throughly enjoying learning about Linux via the forced usage of my Linux laptop since my Windows desktop went belly-up last week (and i honestly do believe that when you stop learning you may as well curl up and die), there's still so much i can't do.  

I've downloaded .zip files and even though i have unrar (the Linux unzipper) i can't figure out how to extract them, just to use one example.

But i think that what is frustrating me more than anything, is the way the system changes itself without my knowledge.

For example, my default language is English (obviously)  but sometimes, and for no apparent reason, this changes itself to Multilingual.  A phrase like "i don't understand," becomes (in Multilingual) Èi donèt understandÈ


This happens with odd regularity.

And another thing. This morning, i couldn't get the laptop's keyboard to work.

I couldnèt, i mean, couldn't, recall spilling my beer into it or anything, so i investigated my keyboard settings.

Evidently there's a setting with which only accepts keystrokes if the key is held down for a few seconds. I didn't default to this, i didn't know it existed until today.  Linux has a mind of its own.....

So do i, of course.


I'm taking 8 days holidays, starting October 18th. I was originally calling it "medical leave" (because  some of the people i work with make me sick), but i've now changed that, to "psychiatric leave" (because it's all driving me doolally).








Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Stoopid Compooters!

My desktop computer is now comatose (i'm writing this on my laptop). It's not a hard drive failure, but instead, a power supply problem. It's not the power cord -- i've tried three different ones -- the machine is simply getting no juice. Now, i really hate to have to open up the case and mess about in the innards. I'm no good at it, for one thing. Back in the days of Windows 95 and 56k internal modems, i needed to replace a modem and shorted out two before i successfully, er, succeeded.

Plus i looked in my old PC repair textbook and the section on power supply and it all went whooooosh! way over my head.

So, until i can afford to take the desktop into the shop (next week) i'm now forced to do everything on the laptop, which has presented another set of prebloms.  Problems too.

As my regular reader will know, i bought the laptop in February, with the express intention of formatting the hard drive to remove everything Microsofty, and installing Linux. (I have an installation CD from Ubuntu.)


Linux appealed to my inner geek and i thought it would be fun to learn about.

Unfortunately, one thing and another, you know how it goes, i never really applied myself to learning this totally foreign operating system.  But now that i'm dependent upon it i feel like someone who is being taught to swim by being flung into the deep end.  I'm floundering.

For example, it took me four days (four!) to figure out how to listen to my online radio station (www.therock.fm).  For another, i download Linux software and then don't know how to run it.  For a third, i've downloaded zipped files that won't unzip (even though i have an un-zipper).

I'd like to rip some music to the laptop.  The Linux audio extracting program is called Soundjuicer.  Can i get it to work? No.  And clicking on Soundjuicer Help opens up ... nothing.

On the bright side, though, at least i now have a decent radio station to listen to as i give myself eyestrain peering at the laptop's comparatively small screen....

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Tragic Tale Of Ofra Haza

Ofra Haza (1957 - 2000) was a Yemeni singer, one of my favourites, her album "Shaday" is in my personal top 100.


Apparently, her premature death was a result of being infected with AIDS by her sleaze-bag manager.

So beautiful, and so young...




Saturday, 24 September 2011

Rise Against

Quotation Of The Day: Martin Myers -- I'm a terrible cook.  I turn perfectly good food into poison. I have many recipes.  I can prepare a meal to give you heartburn, nervous indigestion, a gall bladder attack, colitis, ulcers, hyperacidity, gas, cramps, nausea, anything you like.
 
I just bought the new album by Rise Against, "Endgame." (www.riseagainst.com)

The radio station i listen to every morning  (www.therock.fm) has their song "Make It Stop (September's Children)" in heavy rotation these days -- an angry, nay furious rant on the subject of high school bullying and its consequences and it blows me away.  Here's the video:

The first few times i heard it, i didn't know it was Rise Against, of whom i'd never heard before.  I thought it was DeFault -- the vocalist, Tim McIlrath, sound pretty similar to DeFault's singer Dallas Smith.

This is angry music, folks.  But it's also powerful post-grunge activism, and the album may well show up on my "best of 2011" list.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Exploding Head Music

Quote of the day -- Michael Ondaatje:  floating barracuda in the brain












As my regular reader will know, i, for the sins of my previous life, make my living as a cook.

My restaurant, as do most beaneries nowadays, has a satellite muzak feed, and sometimes ours is tuned to the 50's pop music channel.  One of the most dire decades in the history of popular music (IMFFHO).  Some of it i like, i confess -- Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, i can listen to those dudes all night.  But they didn't rule the decade.  Instead it was utter horrors like Bobby Vinton, Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Clanton, Neil Sedaka (oh, egregious Neil!) (possibly the smarmiest singer in the history of western civilisation) and, on the distaff side, Annette Funicello, Shelley Fabares, Tami Yuro....

Do you remember the Tim Burton film "Mars Attacks!"?  When the Martians hear the music of Slim Whitman, their heads explode.  I know the feeling!

GTG and listen to some Hendrix now -- ah, the sixties and seventies -- now that's what i call music!


Sunday, 11 September 2011

September 11

I have no words to describe how i feel today, and i can't even begin to imagine what Americans are going through, on this anniversary of that nightmare.  It makes me wish i had a god to comfort me, but i haven't.

I have heavy drinking instead, it numbs the pain.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

My Day Off

Quotation of the day: Alan Coren -- I wonder sometimes if manufacturers of foolproof items keep a fool or two on their payroll to test things.

I've discovered the secret to having a great day off.  I only get one a week and i have, in the past, made all of these huge plans for it, and am then disappointed when i wind up sitting in front of the computer all day and accomplishing nothing.


So now, i've stopped planning to do anything, and i'm brilliant at it.  Well, it's hereditary.  When my dear old Dad (r.i.p.) retired, he would often say that he'd finally found something he was good at: doing nothing.


Now if only i could find someone who would pay me to stay home....

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Why Don't....

Why don't supermarkets enforce the 1 - 8 items, cash only rule at the express checkout? Woman in front of me tonight must have had twenty items and paid with a debit card. I had one item. Grrr. I was in a hurry and she was doing my crust in. Did i mention that she had a squalling baby with her?  And she was fat.  I won't be "friending" her on Facebook, i assure you.
Oh, and in response to all of the none of my readers who have asked for a more recent photograph of me, here's one:

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Psychology Of Smoking

Quotation of the day --Tom Waits: We're all gonna be just dirt in the ground

I'm a smoker. Not proud of it, wish i'd never started and there's a 60% chance that i'll die of lung cancer. But it's difficult to quit if you're not determined, and self-discipline has never been my strong point. Nicotine being one of the most physically-addictive substances known. But let's examine the psychology. The mind moves in mysterious ways (its wonders to perform).

When i'm sitting at home, with my butt parked in front of the computer (as it usually is), i'll have one going constantly.  But at work, i start at stupid o'clock in the morning and usually have my first harry rag (oh, sorry, "harry rag" is Cockney for "cigarette") at around 10 a.m.  I don't even start to think about lighting up until maybe 9.45.

When i'm at the boozer, i never go out for a smoke until i've put myself on the outside of my first pint.  I don't even think about a smoke until pint #2 arrives.  And when i'm on the train to Toronto -- a two-hour trip, smoking forbidden -- thoughts of a ciggie don't even enter my mind until the CN Tower comes in to view through the window.  Oh, look, there it is now.

Right well, time for a smoke



Monday, 29 August 2011

Kelsey's II

And so, after a rough work week -- my work week is Wednesday -- Monday -- i staggered into Kelsey's at around 3:30 on Monday afternoon, looking for a friendly face and sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name (and they're always glad you came).

Now, you have to remember:  Kelsey's is a really expensive spot.  My beer (to which i am devoted) costs about $1.25 more there, than it does anywhere else in town.  But that's okay, if i just wanted to drink economically, i'd drink at home, or brew my own, or drink chrome cleaner or something.  No, i go there because (as i may have mentioned) i like the people who work there.

Werrlll... it was a bit of a disappointment, as the barmaid was someone i'd never seen before.  She was very good, but not a familiar face. It was all right.  It was fine, i just sat there and read my book ("Mortal Causes" by Ian Rankin, if you must know), but i'd been hoping to see some of my favourites, Nicole, Ashley & Maggie.

And just as i was leaving (after my customary two pints) ... Nicole, Ashley & Maggie arrived for the evening shift





Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Kelsey's

Quotation Of The Day -- Bruce Chatwin:  We watched them go off to bed. They were two people made in heaven for each other.  They had been hopelessly in love since the day they met, yet had gradually crept into their shells, glancing away, deliberately, in despair, as if it were too good, never to be, until suddenly the reticence and anguish had melted and what should have been, long ago, now was.

Nothing whatsoever to do with me and Astrid, that quotation.  Oh, no, of course not .

Anyway.  Anyway.  Anyone who reads me regularly will know that my favourite pub in this god-forsaken town is Kelsey's. (www.kelseys.ca). It aspires to be a sports bar and that as you may realise is anathema to me; but i go there because i like the people who work there.

I have, on my flickr page, a series of photos taken from Kelsey's smoking section  -- i.e., outside their front door -- at various times of the year.  Have a look at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34806425@N02/sets/72157619393471020/

Here's the most recent:

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Working For A Living, Part III

Quotation of the day:  Oscar Wilde --Work is the curse of the drinking classes

You know, i'm normally not happy to be thought of as a member of the human race.  Generally, we disgust me.  Norway yesterday, Osama bin Laden, Hitler, the list goes on and on, serpentine, threaded throughout history.

Plus, also, too, it's human nature, it seems, to complain when things go badly but to elide when things go well.

So now i'd like to state that things today made me realise why i love what i do for a living.

Yes, yes, i moan about how much i hate it, how i'm employed well beneath my capabilities and education, working really hard for crappy wages in  mediaeval working conditions and surrounded by Neanderthals.

Today, though....  Yes, i arrived at work at 7.30 (as per usual).  I had a man scheduled at 9:00.  He didn't bother to show up at all.  I had another scheduled at 10:00.  She arrived late but was ill, and went home almost immediately.  Another 10:00 person wandered  in at 10:30, by which time the kitchen was already seriously behind schedule.  Another man showed up at 11:00 expecting to work in the nice, air-conditioned dining room -- we lassoed him and he had to work in Dante's Inferno, i mean, the kitchen.

So, seriously short-handed, seriously behind schedule on virtually everything, we then got seriously busy.  But do you know what?  We rose to the challenge and bloody hell it was hard work but we did it:  all went well.  And for me, that feeling of accomplishment is the greatest rush.

(Mind you, if it had gone badly i would have been slashing my wrists but there ya go.)

And so i rewarded myself, and paid a visit to my fave pub, Kelsey's, where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came, and their Sundays seem to run about as smoothly as ours do.  There was Nicole  (one of my favourite people there) behind the bar in a bit of a daze, a glazed look on her boat, saying how much fun she'd been having with obnoxious customers all day and how she loves going home early on Sundays LOL.

Poor Nicole.  Such a beautiful girl deserves better.  Shame i'm far too old for her....

Saturday, 23 July 2011

R.I.P Amy Winehouse

Dead at 27. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14262237

Not a surprise, considering the way she lived, but a bummer and a shocking waste of a great talent.  I loved her "Back To Black" album.

Although i've seen photographs of her looking wretched, here's the one i'll remember her by:

Monday, 18 July 2011

I Hate A &W!

No, i shouldn't say that.  I go in there for breakfast occasionally and it's fin.  Er, i mean, fine.  I love the sausage 'n' eggers, they've never let me down.

But, where i live, there are very few places within walking distance that are open past 8 p.m.  I often eat my din-dins later, and occasionally -- if i don't wish to wait for a pizza delivery -- A & W is only a two-minute walk away.

But, but, but why do i bother?  They almost always screw up my orders.  A few months ago (and i wrote about this) i ordered a coupla mozza burgers with flies. I mean fries.  I got home and discovered ... no fries.

Last night, i ordered a coupla mozza burgers and an order of fries.  It was more expensive than i expected, but that's cool (i said to myself), prices are rising everywhere.  When i got home, i found that they'd given me two orders of fries....

A & W has an on-line complaint form.  I complain, every time.  Do i get a response?  Well, of course, never, no.  So fuck 'em.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Working For A Living, Part II

I wrote about this once before, years ago, when i published a dead tree magazine, but it bears repeating as i am often asked the question "when is the best time to go into a restaurant if you want optimal service?"  People seem to think that i have inside information or something.

Suppose your beanery of choice operates from 11 a.m. 'til 11 p.m.  Going in right at opening time is no good, because the staff are most likely still scrambling to get everything ready, and will be unable to give you the attention you deserve.

Between, say, 11:30 & 1:30 is not a good idea, either, because the lunch service is at its height and the staff are too harried to pay much attention to you.  (Unless of course it's a crappy restaurant to which no one ever goes, but then, why would you want to go there?)

OK, then, mid-afternoon.  Er, nope.  The kitchen staff will be busy getting ready for the dinner service and the servers will be relaxing and smoking and gossiping and won't appreciate the interruption.  Sorry.

All right then, how about at dinner time?  Well... no.  For the same reason that going in at lunchtime is ill-advised:  everyone's too busy.

So, later on in the evening, after the dinner rush is over, then?  Well, gee, i hate to say this but that's pretty much out of the question too:  everyone's tired (some of them will have been there since before 11 a.m.) and they all want to clean up and go home.

So my advice?  Go in whenever the hell you wish, but if the server (or, less likely, the cook) <wink> screws up your order, don't get annoyed, accept it.  (And this applies especially if you have ordered something that isn't on the menu!)

(I see that there's a movement afoot amongst some of the best chefs -- the refusal to cater to special requests.  I agree whole-heartedly even though i'm just a grunt in a chicken joint.  The point being, according to the chefs, that they created the dish to perfection to begin with;  saying you want extra havarti or no chestnuts indicates that you are a charlatan and you deserve to be tossed out on your arse!)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Working For A Living

Being musings on the nature of the hospitality industry and its joys and horrors....

In spite of my relative intelligence and education -- in the 99th percentile in the OPSATs (2nd highest in Ontario in English for that year) (my friend Ian scored the highest) -- a B+ in Canadian Studies from York University and the second (or was it third?) highest mark in my college computer course, i chose to enter the restaurant bizness.  Unlike most of the people who are in it, who are only in it because they couldn't find anything better, couldn't get a job in the factory, i entered voluntarily.  So here i am, underpaid, under-employed, working really hard in lousy conditions (always either too hot or too cold) surrounded by people who behave like they're just down from the trees...

So maybe i'm not so smart after all, and yet, there was a time when i loved it.  Not that i'm allowed to use my creativity, working in a franchise as i do nowadays, but that was a part of the original appeal, the art of cooking.  And there are still aspects that i love -- as when we get really busy unexpectedly but manage to serve all of the meals smoothly, it's the greatest rush imaginable.  (When we get busy unexpectedly and fail to serve smoothly, it's a ginormous bummer though.)

There are people i work with that i like:  Rose and Cassie light up my life;  Marilyn is one of the few in the kitchen i respect; and i'm always happy to work with Billy & Patty.  Most of the waitresses are great lumps but there are a few cute 'n' perky ones (Laura's arse is a work of art, oh, but there's me slipping into "dirty old man" mode again)....

I'm planning to write a pilot for a TV sitcom.  Set in a restaurant.  It'll be about a gifted but neurotic cook and the zany antics that result from his attempts to deal with surly waitresses, incompetent managers, daft kitchen help and a scuzzy salad girl....  I shall call it "Chicken On Wry."  Probably be the biggest thing since "Friends."

Not about me, obviously.  Any resemblance to persons living or dead, etc.  Besides, if it were about me the cook would be gifted, neurotic and a babe magnet

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Black Country Communion

Quote Of The Day: Wilko Johnson -- The greatest line in rock 'n' roll is, "Awopbopaloobob Awopbamboom."  Top that if you can!

I just bought the new CD by Black Country Communion, entitled (uninspiredly) "Black Country Communion 2."  Oh, look, there's its cover down there, the pic appeared like magic out of nowhere.  In case you hadn't heard, B.C.C. is the latest blues-rock supergroup (and i love blues-rock) --  Glenn Hughes (of Deep Purple), Joe Bonamassa (best blues-rocker guitarist working nowadays) (IMFFHO), Jason Bonham (son of John, of course) and, er, Derek Sherinian (well, every supergroup has someone unknown in it LOL!).  (Rick Grech, anyone?)  Is it good?  Well, yes, it's bloody brilliant.  According to the Sunday Mercury (www.sundaymercury.net/) "This is classic rock goes large, an album that lives up to its heritage. It may not be bettered this year." I tend to agree.

Don't believe me?  You can download a (free) bootleg of their June 19th performance in Washington here: http://www.filesonic.com/file/1333801601/2011-06-19.rar

Or check 'em out on YouTube.



Saturday, 2 July 2011

Canada Day (Was Yesterday)

But i had to work all day.  Here's possibly my favourite Canadian song of all time (sorry, Helen!):



I'm trying to think of a drummer who's better than Neil Peart....  I can think of a few who are as good as, but...?

How many drummers does it take to change a lightbulb?  Ten.  One to change it and nine to point out that Neil Peart could have done it better LOL

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

And The First Day Of Summer ....

Quotation of the day: John Sebastian -- Hot town, summer in the city / Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty / Been down, isn't it a pity / Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

As some of you will know, i (as penance for the sins of my previous life) make my living as a cook.  I always work weekends (today -- Tuesday -- is my only day off) and this past Sunday was Father's Day.  Traditionally, it's a busier-than-usual Sunday, not as crazy as Mother's Day, but very busy.  This year, Sunday -- and Saturday for the matter of that -- were insane.  (There was also a ball tournament in town, and i've written before about how much the restaurants here, hate the ball teams http://spriggsblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/working-for-living.html ....)

I left on Sunday feeling utterly shattered, drenched with sweat and miserable.  How did i ever get into this schtoopid business, moan groan, poor me, etc.  In fact i'm only now starting to feel alive again.

However, Tuesday, the only day i really have to do housework, i'm wasting it with my butt parked in front of the computer....  Oh, i cleaned Cate's litterbox earlier, made breakfast, had a bath, shampooed a rug, but there are so many other things to do and guess what, i ain't doin' nuffink else today.  (I tell a lie, i have to do laundry later.  I have no more clean work uniforms.)

What i intend to do, after i log off here is (a) have some lunch and (b) watch my favourite Marx Brothers movie

















And it's the first day of summer....

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Day Off! And A Rave

Quotation Of The Day:  Frank Zappa: Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read.

Hi, everyone, it's a while since i posted but the last time, i had a rant, now i have a rave. I was bewailing the fact that i couldn't get my paws on a couple of CDs (new albums by Kate Bush and Rory Gallagher).  I could have ordered them through amazon.com or some other corporate elephant, but i prefer to go through my friendly local independent dealer, Video + Books And CDs (http://www.videoplusbooks.ca/)  They do a super job of finding stuff for me, but it must be frustrating for them, too, when an album is advertised for release at a certain date, and then isn't.


But!  I've got them now, hurrah!


And, another victory for the independents:  Graeme Thomson's biography of Kate, "Under The Ivy," came out in England last year.  When i went to my favourite local book shop, Fanfare Books, to order a copy, i was told that its Canadian distributor had gone out of business.  Well, there was much gnashing of what remains of my teeth when i learned that, i can tell ya.

But! again:  Fanfare called me last week.  The book had a new distributor here in the frozen north, and they had a copy for me.  I picked it up on Saturday.

It's been a good week (the trials and tribulations of work notwithstanding).  A little expensive, though (but heck, what the hell else do i have to with my hard-earned?).

But then, now, i have to add, today is a sad day here at Spriggs Towers:  on this day in 1995, Rory died, of complications following a liver transplant, and in 2009 my beloved cat Watson succumbed, to liver disease.  (Amazing, really -- i drink too much and the cat gets liver disease, sigh.)


On a happier note, it's also my sister's birthday today (she'd kill me if i told you how old she is).  Rest assured that, although i am in fact drinking to her health today, that's not the only reason....

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Day Off! And A Rant.

Quotation of the day -- Douglas Adams: You have destroyed most of a small galaxy. Please pick your words with greater care.

 There, to my left, is a brand-new pic of my dear Cate. 

Today, i went to my friendly local CD shop, optimistically expecting that they'd have two albums waiting for me -- the new Kate Bush, and the new Rory Gallagher.  I've had them on order for a few weeks, and they were supposed to arrive today.

Wrong again.  The release of  Kate Bush's "Director's Cut" in Canada has been postponed for the third time, and the Rory Gallagher (a previously-unknown "lost" album) has likewise been delayed.

Now, consider this.  The record companies are constantly bewailing the fact that they're losing millions to free file-sharing sites and such.  I honestly believe that they are 100% responsible for the troubles they have.

Kate's album almost made #1 in the U.K. charts a couple of weeks ago.  She has a huge fan base in North America and this is bound to be a big seller.  Record company exec says, "let's not release it yet."  Brilliant move, Mr Executive. Meanwhile i already have it as a download (S.K.F., you know who you are!) but ... i want the damn CD!

On to Rory Gallagher.  He has a massive fan base in North America -- all of his albums have just been released in newly-remastered versions but ... the release of the "lost" album?  Record company exec says, it won't sell as much as Lady GaGa so let's leave it for a bit.  Meanwhile, i have already found it as a free download from one of my favourite music blogs (http://zinhof.blog.hr/2011/05/index.html#1629252614) and i could have downloaded it.  I didn't, though -- i want the damn CD!

Record company exec. says, "file-sharing is killing the industry!"  To which i reply, eff off, you are killing the industry by not releasing what the people want.

Okay, rant over. (And, to ease my pain, i bought the new album by The Strokes, "Angles."  Which is pretty good but it's not Kate or Rory...).

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Day Off!

Quotation Of The Day: Emmanuel Kant --  All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?

After a complete and utter bullshit week at work (i'll spare you the sordid details), i finally have a day off.  And what, i hear you ask, have i done?  Went to the beer store; two loads of laundry; scrubbed Cate's litterbox; started last night's supper dishes....

On a more cerebral level, though....


I bought two new CDs last week, and these are they:

The Paul Simon is really nice.  Not as groundbreaking as "Graceland" of course -- that was a once-in-a-lifetime deal --but pretty good for an old geezer.  (No, i'm not referring to myself, how dare you).  So i listened to that and then to Kate & Anna, and their "new" album is a real treasure.

It's a 3-CD set.  Discs 1 & 2 are remastered versions of their first two albums, which are and always have been utter magic, but it's disc 3 that's the draw here: previously-unreleased recordings & demos, which are invariably delightful.

But why, oh why, has their "The Logdriver's Waltz ever been released on CD?



Anyway, after all of that i was in a Rory Gallagher mood and watched disc 1 of the "Live At Montreux" DVD.  Funny how, when i'm in a crappy frame of mind, Rory always gives me the energy to keep going.  The Beatles have the power to do that, too, but Rory had so much energy himself that it inspires me.

I should probably finish doing last night's supper dishes now, and start on tonight's supper....

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Obsession

www.theadjsutmentbureau.com  Did i spell that right?  The Adjustment Bureau dot com


It seems that every once in a while, i become obsessed with a movie.  This time, it's "The Adjustment Bureau."  Here's a link to a featurette:  http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3122240281/

Just learned that the official release date for the DVD is June 21st.  That's soon! This is a must-buy DVD for me.

www.theadjustmentbureau.com

Can true love prevail when even the angels are opposed?  Well, for Emily Blunt.... yes, i'd fight for her, too (for that is she, at the left there).



Sigh

$$$$$$

As a further to my previous post on the subject, i have just discovered, by the innovative method of checking my AdSense account, that i have actually made $10.80 from this blog in 2 and a half years. Guess i won't be quitting my other job just yet.

Perez Hilton i'm not LOL

Haiku

Knocks on head
sounds hollow
must be management

Monday, 9 May 2011

Don't Hire Me!

I came across this the other day and couldn't resist sharing it.  I hope the people at http://www.pinetree.net/humor/donthireme.html don't mind!

Things Not To Say at a Job Interview

We've all been interviewed for jobs. And, we've all spent most of those interviews thinking about what not to do. Don't bite your nails. Don't fidget. Don't interrupt. Don't belch. If we did any of the don'ts, we knew we'd disqualify ourselves instantly. But some job applicants go light years beyond this. We surveyed top personnel executives of 100 major American corporations and asked for stories of unusual behavior by job applicants.
The lowlights:
  • Said he was so well qualified [that] if he didn't get the job, it would prove that the company's management was incompetent.
  • Stretched out on the floor to fill out the job application.
  • Brought her large dog to the interview.
  • Chewed bubble gum and constantly blew bubbles.
  • Candidate kept giggling through serious interview.
  • She wore a Walkman and said she could listen to the music and me at the same time.
  • Balding candidate abruptly excused himself. Returned to office a few minutes later wearing a hairpiece.
  • Applicant challenged interviewer to arm wrestle.
  • Asked to see interviewer's resume to see if the personnel executive was qualified to judge the candidate.
  • Announced she hadn't had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and French fries in the interviewer's office.
  • Without saying a word, candidate stood up and walked out during the middle of the interview.
  • Man wore jogging suit to interview for position as financial vice president.
  • Said if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm.
  • Interrupted to phone his therapist for advice on answering specific interview questions.
  • Wouldn't get out of the chair until I would hire him. I had to call the police.
  • When I asked him about his hobbies, he stood up and started tap dancing around my office.
  • Had a little pinball game and challenged me to play with him.
  • Bounced up and down on my carpet and told me I must be highly thought of by the company because I was given such a thick carpet.
  • Took a brush out of my purse, brushed his hair and left.
  • Pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a flash picture of me. Said he collected photos of everyone who interviewed him.
  • Candidate asked me if I would put on a suit jacket to insure that the offer was formal.
  • Said he wasn't interested because the position paid too much.
  • While I was on a long-distance phone call, the applicant took out a copy of Penthouse, and looked through the photos only, stopping longest at the centerfold.
  • During the interview, an alarm clock went off from the candidate's briefcase. He took it out, shut it off, apologized and said he had to leave for another interview.
  • A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: "Which company? When do I start? What's the salary?" I said, "I assume you're not interested in conducting the interview any further." He promptly responded, "I am as long as you'll pay me more." I didn't hire him, but later found out there was no other job offer. It was a scam to get a higher offer.
  • An applicant came in wearing only one shoe. She explained that the other shoe was stolen off her foot in the bus.
  • His attache [case] opened when he picked it up and the contents spilled, revealing ladies' undergarments and assorted makeup and perfume.
  • He came to the interview with a moped and left it in the reception area. He didn't want it to get stolen, and stated that he would require indoor parking for the moped.
  • He took off his right shoe and sock, opened a medicated foot powder and dusted it on the foot and in the shoe. While he was putting back the shoe and sock, he mentioned that he had to use the powder four times a day, and this was the time.
  • Candidate said he really didn't want to get a job, but the unemployment office needed proof that he was looking for one.
  • He whistled when the interviewer was talking.
  • Asked who the lovely babe was, pointing to the picture on my desk. When I said it was my wife, he asked if she was home now and wanted my phone number. I called security.
  • She threw up on my desk, and immediately started asking questions about the job, like nothing had happened.
  • Pointing to a black case he carried into my office, he said that if he was not hired, the bomb would go off. Disbelieving, I began to state why he would never be hired and that I was going to call the police. He then reached down to the case, flipped a switch and ran. No one was injured, but I did need to get a new desk.
  • Asked if I wanted some cocaine before starting the interview.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Oh, Demon Alcohol

Quotation of the day: W.C. Fields (attrib.) -- A woman drove me to drink and i never even had the courtesy to thank her.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, i'm a great aficionado of pubs.  Not bars, i hate bars, but generally a pub has an atmosphere that, even if i've never set foot in it in my life before, makes me feel at home.  Part of this may because, when i was growing up, i spent a lot of time with my uncle and auntie, who ran a pub on the island of Linsisfarne.  (I used to feel very much at home in record stores, but they don't really exist anymore, thanks to the record companies....)

I like to go into my two local pubs (Kelsey's & Bentley's) and do so probably once or twice a week (each). I have friends who work there, and i like to see them, but i also like to just enjoy the atmosphere, relax, have a couple of beers (usually two, occasionally more but never fewer) and read my book or newspaper, or take my laptop in and read the e-book i have saved to it.  But, why...?

Why oh why do drunks so frequently attach themselves to me like limpets?  I'll be standing (or sitting) there trying to read and -- it happens so often -- someone who has had a few already will decide that i must be bored and that i will benefit from his opinions on global warming/politics/Harry Potter.

It's almost -- almost -- enough to make me want to quit drinking; or at least, stop going into pubs....

Thursday, 5 May 2011

$$$$$$$$

Quotation Of The Day -- Spike Milligan: Money can't buy friends but you can get a better class of enemy

See that little gadget i've just installed there, to my left?  It's called a page counter.  It shows how many people have looked at this blog.

Apparently, since i began, 5889 people have had a look. Or maybe one person has looked 5889 times?  But let's say 5889 different people have visited to see what all of the fuss is about.  If each of those clicked on only one ad, i would have made, er, let's see (dum-de-dum, + 5, carry the two, divide by the square root of eleventeen) over $58!!!  Not bad for 2½ years work....

Ah, well, i do it because i have to, not because i want to la la

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Holidays, Part 2 (Sunday)

Quotation of the day -- Ray Davies: Holiday, oh what a lovely day today, i'm oh so glad they sent me away to have this little holiday.

Sunday dawned cool and dank, but that was okay, i wasn't kipping in the park, i stayed at Terry and Ann's, and i couldn't have asked for better accomodation.  Terry had recorded a couple of Saturday's football matches on the DVR, and he and i watched Wigan (my team) play Everton (it was 1-1) and then Arsenal (his team) defeat Manchester United, in a game that was very exciting indeed. 

But then it was time to say my farewells, and off i wandered into the rain -- and went downtown and bought a new camera.  The old one was "NWR" (not worth repairing) (they told me at the shop) and so i bought a cheap one (rank amateur that i am) that is in fact much better than the old, expensive one.  10.1 megapixels, as opposed to 3.2, and with a 4 gigabyte HD card (as opposed to the six or seven 64 megabyte cards i had for the other one).  Oh, look, there's a picture of it just over there to the right --------->

But it was a crappy day for taking photographs, pouring with rain by this time and so i went for lunch at, oh, guess where?  The Wolf & Firkin.....

On Saturday, at the Wolf, i had mentioned to Julian & Andrea that one possibility for Sunday was a visit to the cinema (for the first time in a decade).  (I'm an avid movie-watcher, but not an enthusiastic cinema-goer.  The cinemas in Stratford rarely show anything other than moronic movies with a target audience of moronic teenagers.)  Anyway, they unaninoi, aman, unanymously they both said that the one to see was "The Adjustment Bureau" (Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp) and so, man of action that i am, i did, not really knowing what to expect, and i loved it.  Thanks, J & A!


(Even though this is still in the theatres and thus quite a few months away from a DVD release, i found a torrent download for it and am leeching  even as we speak.  I want to see it again!)








After the film (did i mention that i loved it?) what did i do?  It was still raining, so i walked a bit, through The Eaton Centre (i hate shopping malls except as shelter, don't know if i've ever mentioned that) and out again to a pub called The Duke Of Richmond, another nice little boozer i often visit when i'm in the big city.  And it was there, in their smoking section (i.e., outside) that i took my one and only Toronto photograph for this visit.











And there it is.  Well, i did say that i was a rank amateur LOL.

But then it was time to dash off for the train station, pausing only for some street meat (spicy sausage on a bun) i caught the train with minutes to spare.

So that's that.  My semi-annual trip to Toronto in a nutshell or two.

p.s., when i arrived home at Spriggs Towers, i watched "Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion" of course, but also played with the camera a bit.  And here's my dear Cate, preparing to attack my case of beer:

Monday, 2 May 2011

Holidays!

Quotation Of The Day: Billie Holiday: Don`t threaten me with love, baby. Let`s just go walking in the rain.

Yes, i'm on holidays, a five-day mini-vacation and the primary reason is this man here, to the right.  My friend Paul, whom i've know for about thirty-five years, celebrated his 65th birthday on Saturday, and i went up to Toronto for the beano (that photo, btw, was taken two years ago, when we went to see Oysterband at Hugh's Room). (Photograph © Eric Thom.)

But this post is going to be a diary of my weekend, so first things first.  Saturday was a beautiful day, mild (for April) and sunny.  My train arrived at Union Station bang on time (well done, Via Rail!) -- i had arranged to meet Julian & Andrea for lunch at The Wolf & Firkin pub in Elm Street (possibly my favourite Toronto boozer, known affectionately as The Pterodactyl & Firkin LOL, i never fail to pop in at least once on my Toronto visits), but i had my camera with me and wandered around a bit, hoping to take some photographs -- cityscapes, as Toronto really is a beautiful city -- but discovered that the %#!*% camera (which i'd been having trouble with for a while) was as dead as a doornail.  No it wasn't the batteries, they were new.  It was yet another example of technology failing.  Like i haven't had enough of that this year.

With my photographic aspirations in shreds, i wandered in to the HMV superstore on Yonge Street.

Twenty years ago, my trips to Toronto, i would always include about $300 in my budget, with which to buy obscure albums i was unable to get in Stratford.  The Internet changed all that, though.  Obscure albums i can't buy in Stratford, are now easily obtainable online.  This has made my visits to the big city immeasurably cheaper, but i usually drop in to HMV anyway, just to see what's what and what's new.  And i bought this:



 For $6.00.  Yes, i know, don't say it.  But i have dual-weaknesses for Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino.  Ahem!  Sometimes one needs some light relief from all those Bergman films....

So then headed for The Pterodactyl and had an excellent lunch with ....  It's funny, or perhaps not.  I moved away from Toronto about 26 years ago.  So many friends from the old neighbourhood have fallen by the wayside, those who remain are the bestest people and i love them dearly.  Anyway, i mentioned that i was thinking of going to the cinema on Sunday, and Julian & Andrea recommended "The Adjustment Bureau."  More about that later.  26 years of geographic separation and i feel closer to those two than ever.

After lunch, i walked, and walked, and walked, taking in old neighbourhoods and all of the freaks who were promenading (and Toronto, like any other city of 6,000,000, has its full complement of weirdos and freaks).  The traffic was heavy, Carlton Street was virtually a parking lot when i stopped in at a pub called The Spotted Dick to slake my thirst.  After a couple of pints there it was time to head north, to Yonge & Eglinton (where i used to live) and to Terry & Ann's house (where i was staying for the night). And from there to Paul's birthday bash.

Oh, my, what a super party it was, too.  I'm not an avid party-goer, as you can imagine, considering my incipient Asperger's and so on, but a splendid time was guaranteed for all.  The company was excellent -- i saw people i hadn't seen in 10 / 15 / 20 years (and was astonished to notice that so many of them had dyed their hair grey LOL), the food was brilliant and the drink flowed and the conversations were scintillating.  (I expect you'll be surprised to learn that i didn't drink too much, i was enjoying the social intercourse far too much -- although, as always at these occasions, some people overdid it, but who am i to criticise, i have been know to overdo it myself.) (Not this time, though.)

Also, oh deary me, Anne E. was there.  I had a crush on her 20 years ago and i took one look at her and realised that i still do.  And i told her so (thanks to either the courage or stupidity brought on by a couple of late-evening whiskies). My, she looked good. Sigh.  Or perhaps i should say "Urk!"  Crushes are most undignified in a man of my age.  Well, i haven't been able to think of much besides Anne since my return, but, realistically, nothing's going to happen.  (Although we did exchange e-mail addresses....)

And that was Saturday.  The party broke up relatively early (we geriatrics need our sleep, you know), and i'll write about my Sunday in due course.