November 30, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio - Ep.2

On Episode 2 of Hobo Gauntlet Radio, it's an eclectic mix of new and old, featuring Nine Inch Nails, Gorillaz, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and the outstanding Fatboy Slim remix of Cornershop's Brimful of Asha. And, don't be shy - embrace the epic Bastard Engine from Old World Vulture and stew in the goth juices of Killing Joke's Love Like Blood.

Check out Ep2 of Hobo Guantlet Radio at Girth or click here.

November 26, 2014

A Meal To Remember

Tonight I came home after a long day at work. My lovely wife was out and I threw a small frozen pizza in the oven, and within 15 minutes I was sitting down to enjoy it as I watched the hockey game on TV.  It was one of those blue menu veggie pie's with mushrooms and peppers. As it happens sometimes, some of the cheese or pepper fell off a slice, some on the plate and a couple of small chunks on the rug. I picked up the stray food and put them back on the plate along with a bit of discarded pizza crust I shunned earlier for the tastier portions of pizza.

After a few minutes I got a phone call and as I chatted, I decided what the hell, I'd eat the relatively flavour-less crust after all. About five minutes later I hung up the phone and took my plate to the sink to wash it which is when I noticed something. Since I was focused mainly on the phone call, not only did I eat the crust, but I ate the bits of pizza that fell on the floor as well. Lovely! Given the so called five-second rule however, I figure no biggie.

While all this was going on, I had gotten a text from my wife but obviously was unable to reply while on the phone. Checking it afterwards she had given me an update on a pressing matter at Casa Hobo Gauntlet regarding Jones The Cat. Jones is a fine feline. She's quite affectionate and friendly and swears very little. But, she's been under the weather a little. She's been keeping to herself and has been throwing up, but from what I hear a cat that vomits is about as common as a crumpled up Leafs jersey on the ice at the ACC. Usually, when Jones yaks you'll discover the main mound of terribleness in one spot, but sometimes you'll find a few tinier nuggets in the general vicinity a little bit later on..

So, this could be my final entry here at Hobo Gauntlet. To my wife and family, I love you all.

Thank you, and goodnight.

November 25, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio

Extensions in life are good.

An extension on your mid term paper is nice. An extension on your house is fantastic. An extension on your junk would be simply wonderful.

Introducing Hobo Gauntlet Radio, the all-natural, gluten free extension of this blog. I'll be producing various episodes here and there, and I welcome your feedback, your musical requests and your shenanigans. Especially your shenanigans.

Hobo Gauntlet Radio is being produced in association with the delightful folks over at Girth, so for the time being, you'll find episodes here. Girth is an audio playground for creative people just doing it for fun, so do check it out. When I get smart enough to figure out how to post them on my own damn blog, I'll do that too.

November 22, 2014

There's No Such Thing As Small Change

I went to a local old timey diner for breakfast this morning. The food was fine and cheap and the servers were classic diner-lady types.

The decor is straight out of the mid 80's, and even the bathrooms were from another time. They have those really annoying faucets that only stay on when you physically turn them - I've never quite figured out how I'm supposed to properly wash my hands with those.  And even better, they had those manual towel roller thingy's to dry your hands. These are the kind where you pull down your bit of clean towel, and as new towel is pulled out, the old towel is fed back into the unit, and I guess they eventually take the whole roll out and have it washed. Even though I always get a clean bit of the towel, these things creep me out because you can often see the soiled towel that someone's just used.  For some reason the material - particularly the soiled portions - reminds me of old man's underwear. I just hope there's not some terrible incident from my past I've repressed that causes me to think this. But why is it that these old fashioned restaurants still exist? Certainly there are modern places to go, yet there's still something appealing about the diners. Often they remind people of their childhoods or some other earlier time.

Taking a larger view, we appear to be hard wired to seek out basic pleasures from an earlier part of our evolution as a species. This explains why we all love sitting around a campfire - it's primitive and cozy and strikes a chord, and we often just sit and stare into it. Similarly, we all crave the basic elements when we are denied them. In the desert city of Dubai, a gigantic indoor ski park was built. You can stay the night at an ice hotel in Quebec. City dwellers will drive hundreds of kilometers from their homes while enduring traffic congestion just to sit in the middle of bug infested woods.

We've certainly become an entitled society too. If you want ice cubes in your drink you just grab some from your freezer. Not long ago, massive blocks of ice were actually transported in ships from colder climates to warmer ones, making it a very hot commodity. The point is that as a society, we take a hell of a lot of things for granted. The invisibility in everyday things is the sheer brilliance of them. So although it's easy for me to scoff at the old man's underwear towel dispenser thingy, for a time that too was a very advanced solution to drying your hands.

An actual photograph depicting the invention of the donut.
Another misconception people have is the so-called "Eureka!" moment. Conventional thinking suggests that a single inventor or scientist would suddenly have a singular moment of brilliance. But in reality, major inventions were actually a compilation of hundreds of minor improvements from many different people over time. Whoever was able to pull everything together at the right time was the one who reaped the rewards though. Thomas Edison and the light bulb is a perfect example of this.

So pause sometime and look around you wherever you are. Think about all the blood, sweat and tears that went into making life unbelievably comfortable for you. You'll be amazed at just exactly how much was involved to get us from there, to here.

November 19, 2014

Cookin' Like It's 1884

Today I bring you yet another culinary adventure, but this time the only casualties were a dozen shrimp. But first, let's be clear. I am not a cook. I can handle myself in the kitchen, but my lovely wife is the real pro in that arena.

Given our commuting logistics, it makes sense for me to cook most meals during the week, which is fine. I always welcome opportunities to mangle meals. Once with friends over, I cooked some chicken fingers and nearly sent everyone to the hospital. Apparently chicken fingers need more than three minutes in the oven.

In any event, recently I tackled a reasonable dinner task. Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and shrimp. Easy right? Can of tomatoes, seasoning, onions, pasta. Grabbing the bag of shrimp from the freezer, I notice they didn't resemble the type I've seen before. Aside from their Hans Solo-like deep freeze state, they looked like they just came out of the ocean. Given this monstrous appearance it's amazing someone at some point in history took a leap of faith to eat them at all, but I digress.

The loyal family dog in the nineteenth century.
Loving, playful and good on a stick.
In today's fast-food, easy to cook, microwaveable roast beef in a bag society, I can truly say that preparing this meal was a complete anachronism. There are many steps involved, and the time to go through them all increases significantly since it was my virgin attempt. I guess Captain Highliner was more Dexter than fisherman, because when working with raw shrimp you basically have to disect the poor bastards.

I can say that I've never had to "remove a husk" quite like this when preparing a meal. Corn doesn't count because corn can't swim. You then move your way down to the millipede-like legs, another treat. But nothing compares to the jolly good fun associated with disembowlment. I've heard of this terribleness. I took my knife and did the deed, removing shrimp poop like you'd pull off string stuck on your sweater. Done right? Nope. Lo and behold, I discovered yet another string of nasty on the underside of the shrimp. So let me get this straight, they have two asses?  All in it took about an hour to deal just with the crustaceans - only a fourth of the ingredients in the meal.

In the end, the experience made me think about what humans had to go through to prepare food decades and generations before us, not to mention having to catch the fucking things. If it was 1884 and I was living like Laura Ingalls out on the prairie, chances are I'm not making it to 1885.

November 16, 2014

Meat Is A Murderer

They say physical pain is all in your head, so I guess I was imagining things many years ago when I hyper extended my left leg while playing hockey, causing a tiny muscle in my groin to unhook itself from cartilage.

Yea, I'm gonna go right ahead and speculate that the pain was right up there with giving birth without anaesthetic. Doctors in Emergency supported this theory when they mentioned that the intensity of my discomfort would be greater than a broken bone. Fantastic! Because the muscle was now just flappin' about in it's unholy unhooked state, every time I'd get a little chilly or tense up, the muscle would contract and all sorts of fun nerve endings would have a party, with me as the guest of honour.

So, every little bump I get nowadays has paled in comparison, and I use the hockey injury as a benchmark of sorts. Playing the same sport about ten years ago, I twisted a knee. This time however it was ball hockey, and to complete the emasculation, it was a girl who caused the injury. See, due to my unbelievable skill and incredible lightning fast feet, she decided that it was a good idea to slow me down by inserting her hockey stick in between them. I stepped on the stick and twisted a knee. I invented several new curse words that day.

Which brings me to the point. A couple of days ago I was fortunate enough to suffer another injury, albeit a relatively minor one and a tenth of the pain levels of those mentioned above. For a quick dinner, I decided to throw a couple of turkey sausages in the oven....can you see where this is going? No. No you can't.

I was nearly murdered by this the other day.
The sausages were in the freezer. Not having time to thaw them out, or the sense to defrost them for a few minutes in the microwave, I opened the package and naturally they were frozen together. For a moment I thought about taking a knife and gently stabbing the permafrost in between, but then thought..wait..that might be dangerous. That's what you call irony kids.

I don't need no stinkin' knife, I tell myself. I can just pull them apart. I'm a man goddammit and frozen meat won't defeat me. But these things were fused solidly and battling me good. It's as if they knew their culinary destiny and would simply not go down without a fight. I pulled harder , and harder, and voila! - they came apart. But wait..what is that shooting pain I feel in my finger? It was the equivalent of stubbing your toe very hard, but what in the hell could be causing this pain? As it normally is in my house, the lighting was dim. Looking at my finger, nothing seemed to be broken, bleeding or bent. Turning up the light however, I came face to face with my foe.

In pulling the sausages apart, a sliver of the frozen meat wedged itself underneath a finger nail, forcing it slightly up and away from the skin. It hurt, but I found it funny. The meat-sicle was about 1/2" wide and I had visions of it slowly forcing my fingernail off the longer it remained, so I yanked it out. To this day it throbs a bit, but I seemed to have dodged a bullet fired from the voting members at the Darwin Awards.

During this incident, I'm sure that turkey's ghost was up in turkey heaven and smiling - for just a brief moment, the prey had become the predator.

November 11, 2014

Don't Be A Dick

Generally, I like to think I'm a pretty decent person. Oh sure I've killed before, but that was a different time, when men were men and and a Peruvian Donkey Ride was an innocent pastime. 

Today's episode of DBAD comes to you from the local supermarket. On my way home from work, I had to stop by to pick up a few things. Some salmon, blue menu soda water (sodium free!) and a couple of miscellaneous items. See figure 1 below.

Well hello! Welcome to Figure 1
So I proceeded to walk around the supermarket to grab the various items. In addition to what I've mentioned, I also needed a lemon, Comet, Swiffers, minced garlic and turkey sausages.

This particular supermarket is one of those gargantuan places that also has a Joe clothing store, so I proceeded to have a look at some jeans. I pushed the cart to the side for 5 minutes and then returned to pay for my items. Within a few more minutes, people started joining the line behind me, which is when I took another look at my cart.  If you look closely, there is one additional item in my cart other than what I've mentioned. Too lazy too look for it? Here's a hint. Left side, and they are in a ..oh for fuck's sake it's the grapes. 

So, it seems that someone decided to grab a bag of grapes, only to decide moments later that he or she didn't want them. I get it. It happens. But, I would like to think that if I was that person, I would at least have the decency to put the grapes back, particularly because we're talking about a perishable food item. One thing for sure, I wouldn't be an utter jackass by dropping them in someone else's cart.

So unless your name is Richard, Don't Be A Dick.

November 8, 2014

Colours of The Rainbow

I was out recently for a pint at a decent little local pub. When I first arrived, I noticed an older gent sitting a little further down the bar from where I was. I'd guess he was about 70, and he had this incredible pot belly, the depth and girth of which was accentuated based on his posture in his stool.

He was leaning back and his hands were clasped together over his formidable belly. His eyes were glossy and tired, and he looked like a man you might see in an episode of Game of Thrones - perhaps a King who fought and ate and drank excessively. He also yawned. A lot.

I wouldn't want to clean out his cage in the morning.
In these instances, I sometimes wonder about the lives people have lived. Who knows what his backstory really was, but although he sat and enjoyed his pint, there was a definite sadness buried somewhere deep inside. At the same time, the man definitely projected a sense of I Really Don't Give A Fuck. 

About ten minutes later, his cell phone rang. As he answered, I picked up a well mannered, polite english accent, and I heard him make arrangements to meet a woman here at the pub. His wife, I assumed. Not long after that, in walked the lady on the phone, and my assumption that it was his wife couldn't be further from the truth.

She was about 40, but looked about 55 - the old timey 55. The kind from another era who had worked in a coal mine sort of 55. She had ratty hair, a rough complexion and she was twitchy. She rolled in to this place and he greeted her. She sat down and ordered a gin and tonic from a slightly embarrassed bartender. The picture was starting to come into focus now.

He yawned several more times as they spoke about things you might speak to your significant other about when you meet them for a drink after work, but on a different level. Instead of "how was your day", it was "that son of a bitch Ralphy stole all my fuckin' lottery tickets", and rather than "traffic was terrible", it was "my tits are cold".

They also argued, and I could tell that she was trying hard to contain the demons which writhed within. Relatively speaking, this bar was the Ritz for this woman. The kind that doesn't take kindly to screaming crackheads. The only reason she was allowed in the joint was because our polite English gentleman seemed to be a regular, so the staff seemed to look the other way. She was now walking a fine line though. Her volume began to increase, and the man lightly chastised her - not for the volume, but for the whereabouts of the two hundred dollars he gave her a few days ago.

It was apparent by this point that she was barely scraping by in life, and he was supplementing her with cash and a healthy supply of gin and tonics. She was a prostitute, but not in the conventional sense. There was no way this man was sexual with this woman. There was no way this man was sexual with any woman. Rather, she was a companion, and the only one he could get. He'd give her money to buy cell phone minutes, which went directly into her arm. Perhaps he saw her as a girlfriend, or maybe as a daughter but in the end it doesn't matter. It was someone that would talk to him.

After a few more minutes and fresh glances from the bartender, the woman's phone rang, and she announced her departure. Johnny, apparently, was going to meet her to get that thing. She gulped the remainder of the drink, kissed him on the cheek, and was gone. From the time before she arrived, to this moment, other than lifting his pint, he hadn't moved a muscle. His hands remained clasped, and he yawned again. He sat and stared at nothing in particular.

It was then that I realized that this man, was me.

Well no, that's not true. But the situation did remind me that ultimately people need people. And when necessary, class and other so called societal barriers will simply not matter. As mentioned above, perhaps then he was a modern day King of sorts, and she a pauper. But that's ok - it's all part of what makes us who we are.

November 5, 2014

We Have No Idea

Pause for a moment, and look around. Go ahead. At this very second, stop and take in where you are, what you're doing, and what you had for dinner last night.

Chances are, things aren't that bad. Sure, everyone's got problems and bills to pay but in the grand scheme of things, your life as you know it could be much much worse.

There are a lot of reasons your life is the way it is, but a major one surrounds the eleventh day of this month. If a certain terribly mustachioed tyrant got his way 70 years ago, it could be Oktoberfest every day where you live. Now I know that sounds like fun, but there's only so much sauerkraut one can eat.  So make sure you do pause and think about the sacrifices made not just by those who fought in WWII, but all of the men and women who have put their lives on the line for your country.

You'll never be as tough as this guy.
As for me, I recognize Remembrance Day in my own personal way, and make sure that every year I lose more poppies than I did the previous year. It's my way of saying thanks.