December 30, 2014

Let's All Not Go To The Movies

Do any of you still go to the movies?
Like a lot of people, I'll go when I feel the film calls for it. You can have a solid surround sound system at home, but it still can't compare to what the best theatres offer visually and sonically. Plus, if there's a film you're really Jones'ing for, you want to see it right away.
My preference when going to the movies.
This way I can also be pantless.
But usually I'll go to a weekday matinee. And that's because I don't like, nor need, the "shared" experience of going to the movies. First, I've grown accustomed to having space between me and the next guy - in fact, a lot of space. Yesterday I went to a 4:30 screening at the Cineplex at Yonge and Dundas, and being the holidays, it was rammed. I had people on both sides of me. I know I know..first world problems, but me no likey. And I won't even get into the low hanging fruit annoyances like talking, cellphones and the waft of quarter pounders.
Perhaps I'm overly sensitive, but I find that audience audibles pull me right out of the immersive experience. This list can be extensive and includes:
Not sure why so many of those things start with "g", but there you have it.

December 26, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio - Episode 4

Success! (to be swiftly followed by failure, I'm sure).  I've spent endless hours soldering metallic condenser fabricators and switching hub router interchange modules in the bowels of the Hobo Guantlet Studios, and below you can see I've added a player, currently featuring Episode 4. For the time being, this is the best I can manage with a non-existent budget and zero programming knowledge.

Ep.4 features Adorable, Divine, The Postal Service, Stabbing Westward and Big Audio Dynamite to name just a few. Of course, if it doesn't work from where you are, Episode 4 features nothing but a big fat donut hole. 

December 22, 2014

Let's Stop Kidding Each Other

Today was one of those days that I intentionally take off from work so I can run all the errands that I constantly put off. You know, like getting a haircut, visiting my bank, hiding a body..that sort of thing.

First up, drop the car off at the dealership for it's regular maintenance. For $188, I got a lube, oil and filter. For that much money, they should have thrown in some heavy petting with that lube. Next, a joyful field trip to the dentist. I was really due for a cleaning since I've put off the last few scheduled cleanings. Can you blame me? It's the fucking dentist.

This stock photo depicts a moment that has happened never.
In any event, aside from the pleasures of getting my gumline jabbed by a sharp instrument, a trip to the dentist is always fun due to the sheer trickery that goes on. It's like when James Bond meets a foreign spy at a fancy cocktail party. They're civil and polite, but nobody's telling the truth. Like a lot of people I imagine, my dentist and I have this unwritten rule where we constantly lie to each other. He used to ask me if I'm flossing regularly. I'd say yes. He pretends to remember what I do for a living by looking on his computer fourteen seconds prior to coming into the room. But I'm ok with our deception. It's like we're telling each other to stop kidding each other without telling each other to stop kidding each other. It's passive aggressive behaviour at it's finest. One time, one of his hygienists was busting my chops a bit much about the flossing thing, so I just said listen - if I and your other clients flossed as regularly as you'd like us to floss, you'd eventually go out of business. By letting my gums turn into the third act of a Friday The 13th movie, I'm sending your kids to college.

For the record, my teeth and gums are actually in pretty good shape, as I do floss semi regularly with a water pik thingamabob. This results in significantly less gore when I go for my cleanings, and I don't walk out of there feeling like someone's fired a shotgun into my mouth.

The other reason I don't feel bad about being less than truthful with my dentist is that today, as we made small talk about last minute Christmas shopping, he said he only has one stop to make. It's his annual visit to Tiffany's so he can present that little blue box to his wife each and every December 25th. Maybe this Christmas I'll show up at his house when he's about to give it to her - after all, it's really from me is it not?

December 18, 2014

Random Punch In The Face

Listen, I get it.

I understand people love Christmas and it makes them feel warm and cozy and sugar plums are flying out of their asses,et cetera. I can't quite pinpoint it, but for some reason, it annoys me juuust a little bit when I see people randomly wearing Santa hats. Like in a lineup at the Tim Horton's. Like in a mall. Like the woman at work who just walked through my department. There's also the suburban minivan set who put those antlers on either side of their vehicle.

You won't know when, or where, but one day, I will come for you. 
I do wonder what possesses people to make an outward physical statement like this. I know, I know. It's harmless and they're happy - who am I to spoil their fun right? So, moving forward I've got a plan. On Easter I'm going to carry a basket of coloured eggs around with me and take them into meetings at work. And for Hanukkah, I'll have a fully lit menorah with me at all times and bring it to restaurants. You know. Religious statement and ambience all in one. When the manager asks me to leave the establishment, I'll ask him to come close, whisper "Hitler" in his ear and then enjoy my complimentary meal.   

December 16, 2014

A Life, Realized.

A time comes in every man's life where he sits back and reflects.

Like Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty, a man often reflects on his accomplishments, his failures, his victories, his life. There are many moments that resonate in a person's lifetime. Some are filled with joy and some with sadness. Whether it's mountains scaled or professional failures, love realized or missed opportunities, one will often play back a lifetime of decision making and experiences, like watching some epic cinematic masterpiece.

Perhaps it's a quiet moment late at night sipping a single-malt scotch while contemplating the years that have gone by and those to come. But most likely, it happens during the most mundane moments.

This morning as I set off on my journey to my workplace, I sat quietly in my vehicle listening to the soothing sounds of classical music. It was Bach I believe. The string section was magnificent, and as I waited for the light to change, I marvelled at not just my life, but life itself. I thought it was quite miraculous that through millions of years of evolution, every single new moment is a result of what has come before it, leading it to the next. Dinosaurs have come and gone, global wars have been waged, and billions of lifeforms have interacted to collectively push us forward.....which is precisely when I glanced to my right and noticed the bag of cat shit on my passenger seat. A person can truly say that one's life is complete when, and only when, he or she is tasked with transporting feline feces for purposes of a veterinarian's inspection.

"It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. 
Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."

-Joseph Campbell

December 12, 2014

Hobo Gauntlet Radio Episode 3

On Episode 3 of HGR, it's a time travelling sonic adventure..check out the mash of tunes whipped up from Kasabian, The Doors, The Stone Roses, LCD Soundystem and Echo & The Bunnymen, to name just a few. 

Episode 3 is live right now, over at

December 9, 2014

Mayor Tory Needs A Haircut

I like John Tory.

He's a very very smart guy, is good for this city and is a class-act.
Why hello there. For some reason I'm resting on my elbow on
a nasty beach in December. 
But you know what, he really does need to do something about his hair. It's getting a little out of control, and we have to think about the reputation of this city because.....wait..what? sorry. Scratch that.

December 7, 2014

Yay A Parade

It's that time of year again.

Toronto's Etobicoke Lakeshore Santa parade was today, Weston's was last week, and always strangely early, the city's major Christmas parade was in July.

I saw this when I was 6 years old at my first Santa parade.   
I don't like parades. In fact I dislike them in every possible way. Part of it has to do with the fact that I used to be in them. When we were kids, my folks got us into an Irish accordion marching band. Yes. Accordion. I thought maybe I'd meet girls, but since I was new I didn't know how to play anything so I was given a flag to carry. A dude carrying a flag doesn't get girls. Trust me. 

But I just don't get the appeal of parades and being childless means I don't have to endure them. If they're good, they're rammed and people fight to get a good spot for their kid. If they're weak, although you have no problems getting a view, half the floats consist of four greasy car salesmen waving out the window of a cadillac strung up with an auto dealership banner. And who cares about seeing a fire truck? Living in the city I see them almost every day, and firetrucks, particularly with sirens, symbolize tragedy, death and sadness.

 And if that's not enough for me to hate parades, I have one more reason. Years ago when in university, a friend had a brilliant idea. He'd make up little red plastic stop-signs printed with "STOP at my house Santa", and we'd walk along the route and sell them for five bucks. We'd make hundreds and hundreds of dollars, he said. Instead, we lost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It was freezing, I got hassled by parade organizers and I sold exactly two signs, one of which was to my seven year old full price.

December 4, 2014

The Abyss

I think that reality TV is akin to the formation of the first labour unions. It was a good idea in theory but it just got out of hand. I truly find all reality television cringeworthy and simply unwatchable. Clearly however I'm in the minority because someone's watching - otherwise new series would simply not be produced.

I have several issues with reality TV. First, there's nothing "real" about it. Most people know that but still look the other way and turn off their brain. Ok, I'll give them that - everyone needs an escape. Second, each new wave of shows is derivative of the last, and as we enter the umpteenth year of reality tv shows, they've become increasingly cross-bred and mutated. In short, if we started with Brad Pitt, we're now the mountain men in Deliverance.

But one key aspect of the popularity is that people who watch feel inherently superior to the jackasses who sign up to be filmed on these shows. They'll think: Oh my god that guy's a crazy hoarder - I'm better than him. Wow those people are redneck white trash, unlike myself. A lot of people will say reality tv is terrible, but they are in fact contributing to more terribleness since they continue to watch, driving new productions.

So, all to say that while flipping around television, I came across a new low, or a new high, depending on your perspective. We've now entered the era where we're creeping into the exploitation of religious traditions, and that can be perilous. See, this show is about people in a neighbourhood who compete to have the most kick ass Christmas decorations. This also ties nicely into the whole suburban upper middle class bullshit associated with keeping up with the Joneses.

Honestly, I could barely watch a minute of this trype before wanting to pull out my eyes. Now I know Christmas is something that's completely exploited for commercial gain, which has been going on since forever. But the point is that this new niche has opened the door. What's next? A show where Jews try to out-Jew each other? Or maybe two black families compete to see who's blacker, complete with underlying tension associated with the fact that one family has lighter skin. Using the religious angle could be going down a very dangerous road - don't we already have enough crackpots in that arena?

This week on NBC - "Who Can Live Like A Slave?"

So, when pointing fingers about societal woes, be careful about blaming things like movies or violent video games. In fact, although Canada is a comparitively peaceful country, an already low rate of violence is now at it's lowest in many years. Instead, perhaps look at things in the media that may subtlely suggest conflict, division and a sense of superiority over others.

Like reality television.

December 2, 2014

Tuesday Morning Party

I seem to have gotten a cold.

For me, the associated symptoms are a huge pain in the ass. Rummaging around the closet we store sundry items in (yes I said sundry), I dug through the usual stuff - suntan lotion, tylenol, after bite and road flares.

So I came across some pills for colds and sinuses. But jesus christ spaghetti monster it's a nightmare reading the dispensing instructions. Yes I should probably get reading glasses, but my wife has decent eyes and she couldn't even read them. The print is like that old timey caligraphy shit you see on those tiny ships people put inside glass bottles.

I was sneezing like a banshee and I had a sinus migraine so I figure I've gotta roll the dice and pop two of them. I can proudly say this is the first time I've been high while at work. So, I'm bringing a giant bag of Doritos to my 11am meeting, which I can finish at home after I'm fired.

So ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, second quarter results were encouraging
and hey there's a unicorn!

License To Ill

Borrowing from the Beastie Boys' debut album of the same name, this post's title has less to do with rap and more to do with that obsession known in North America as the buffet.

When I was a kid, I'd see tv commercials for buffets and I thought they were fantastic. I remember thinking wow, look at that unending carnival of delicious food. They had roast beef and chicken and potatoes and ham and pork chops. No longer was I constrained to having a single meal when going to a restaurant like those suckers at other joints. I was unshackled from the tyranny of  just one bowl of soup or two pieces of bread. In short, going to a buffet was heaven on earth for ten year old me.

However, as I began to realize that there was no such thing as heaven, I also started to see the buffet in a different light. It wasn't an overnight transition though. I recall in my twenties when I was living in the Yonge and Davisville area of midtown Toronto. My then girlfriend and I would venture up to the Mandarin buffet on Sundays. Every Sunday. There we would drop maybe fifteen bucks, but we'd take full advantage and spend hours at the place, you know, to get your money's worth. We'd think yeaaaa...we're sticking it to the Mandarin because "we ain't leavin' " (said in a redneck accent of course) until we figured we'd eaten at least 25 or 30 dollars worth of food.
Oh no that bit won't do. Just give me the whole thing.
 Years later, I discovered the phenomena known as the all inclusive resort. So now, instead of going to a buffet every Sunday, I could go three times a day, and if I really wanted to, eat complete meals hourly at the resort grills or have room service bring me whatever I want, whenever I want. Having said that, resorts are about complete indulgence - a vacation to do as you please, although I always try to be mindful of not overdoing it. Let's not be fucking animals.

And then there's the weekend brunch buffet, which I don't like whatsoever. For starters, I don't feel like eating turkey dinner at 11am. But my main problem is that if you go to a brunch, you can easily bugger yourself for the rest of the day, effectively spoiling a relaxing dinner experience later on. Indeed, as a society we seem to revere the all you can consume mentality. It sounds absolutely fantastic in theory, but reality is a different thing of course. After you've inhaled that seventeenth plate of linguini in cream sauce, your body is gonna yell at you and shut down one way or the other. And there's something to be said about the acceptance of these sorts of restaurants. They advertise on the tv box, so it must be ok to do it right? And you see hundreds of other people at the buffet too, so it must be ok right?  I call it amortizing the guilt, which for the restaurants, translates to maximizing the profits.