Thursday, February 18, 2010

An Old Story

Here's a little thing I wrote five years ago, and only just re-found. Enjoy.


Benjamin looked at the dog. It was very still; the only sign of life being that its eyes occasionally would point his way, perhaps to be sure that he wasn't up to anything, or holding treats, or what-not. This puzzled Benjamin, and had done for the last several hours. "Why is he so quiet?" Benjamin thought to himself. It was strange for precisely the same reason that a boiling kettle should cause concern if it failed to whistle. You see, the dog was a talking dog, and, even more uniquely, a talkative dog. But he wasn't talking now, and hadn't done ever since Benjamin had decided to have a sit down in this field. Naturally, this puzzled Benjamin.

"Right," said Benjamin, and then, "so," after the briefest of pauses. The dog looked his way again. "You may as well say whatever it is that you're going to say, rather than lying there waiting for me to read your mind," said Benjamin.

Benjamin couldn't be sure, but he got the distinct impression that the dog was rolling its eyes. "It is not my turn to speak," said the dog, "I asked you a question, and am still waiting on your response."

"What?" said Benjamin, who furrowed his brow a little at this, "Did you?"

"Yes," said the dog, "I remember it quite clearly. I shouldn't wonder, but that you've forgotton the matter entirely."

"Well, as a matter of fact..." Benjamin trailed off, now growing a little frustrated by the combination of his own forgetfulness, and the dog's evasiveness. "Would you care to repeat the question?" he said.

"I simply asked, 'Should we encounter any dogs, would it bother you greatly if I implied that I was walking you, rather than the other way round?'," said the dog. Yes, this sounded like familiar ground to Benjamin.

"Right, well, I can't think of a reason why we should pretend, when it's clear to anyone that I am walking you," said Benjamin. He wondered to himself if it was right to take such a firm stance, but recalled the advice that in any human-dog relationship it was important to clearly assert dominance.

"And why should that be so clear?" asked the dog.

"Well, humans are superior to the animals," said Benjamin, now feeling that the conversation was slipping onto ground that was much less firm.

"Are they? And why, pray tell, is that?" asked the dog, who appeared to be trying very hard to sound incredulous.

"Well, I should think that the answer is that humans have thumbs," said Benjamin. Clearly, "The ability to speak and reason" wasn't going to work with this particular animal. He was a clever dog, Benjamin knew.

"Ah, yes, thumbs. Very handy, those," said the dog. "Yes, I can see how those would make all the difference in the world. And, should a human lose their thumbs in some sort of horrible accident, then they would be less human and thus equal with the animals?" the dog asked.

He is a clever, clever dog; of that, Benjamin had no doubt. You see, for some time Benjamin had the sneaking suspicion that the dog was, in fact, more clever than he. In fact, the dog was smarter by a significant margin. The dog knew this; Benjamin did not. This, it need not be said, was an extremely smart dog. Benjamin remembered now why it was that he had not answered the question earlier: he had had a premonition that the conversation would end up very poorly.

"Right, well, not just thumbs, of course," said Benjamin. He paused for several moments, trying to think of some other way in which he was superior to the dog. All he could manage was 'fur', although it sounded a bit weak as far as argumentative points go.

"It's just a bit embarrasing," interrupted the dog. "I haven't had a decent conversation with another dog in quite some time, and I just thought it might be easier to talk properly if I wasn't wearing a leash," it continued.

"Ah, well, that seems reasonable," said Benjamin, "but how do I know you won't just run off and leave me?"

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sacrificial Self

Just finished watching About A Boy again. I've got a thing for plotlines involving self-gifting. The concept of unselfishly giving a piece of yourself to someone, or for something, just gets to me. Call me a sissy (and thanks for that, btw) if you must, but it's true.

Let's not involve Stockholm, but I'm downloading the soundtrack currently. Don't worry, crimefighters: I'll be buying it as soon as payday hits. Sometimes you need to hear or see something immediately, and delayed gratification simply won't suffice. I'm becoming more like my dog in that sense, I imagine. Or like Wimpy. "I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today." says he.

Had a lervly fire at Topsail Beach last night, which is a fine way to break in the birthday pants I purchased on my parents' behalf recently. They now smell slightly of smoke and large, rounded rocks. Hopefully this will be the first of several summer nights. A little late, but welcome.

I need more clothes, I'm finding. Some shirts, perhaps, and maybe even a pair of decent shorts. The sad thing is, the types of men's shorts sold these days (rugged, pocketful) make me feel like a bit of a fraud; like a truck-owning junior executive.

Got a sweet second-hand bike from my dad recently, which is a good improvement over my current one except for a broken pedal arm. Must get that fixed soon, although at least I've got a backup bike to tide me over. The new one is so smooth, though... light weight, fast gear shifting, city tires. It's a solid ride.

Off to get dragged around the back 'yard'. Wish me luck with the spanworms.

"All alone by the fire
Shadows move through the night
The stars above, they seem to shine
As you say your goodbyes"
- The Wind, by Alanna Vicente

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Immortal Memory

Last night I went to a friend's house for Burns Night. I'd never heard of it before, but apparently it's a going concern in England (and probably moreso the Scottish bit). It's a night to celebrate the life & works of Robert Burns, Scotland's national poet. He's the dude who wrote Auld Lang Syne, among other things.

The dinner was great. They had real haggis (did not try), veggie haggis (loved), turnips, potatoes, and fried parsnips. The haggis was piped in by Bill with his "bagpipe" (in mp3 format, conveniently), and people took turns reading stanzas of Burns' poem, Address To A Haggis. The haggis was stabbed appropriately, then we ate.

After dinner came the traditional speeches. First was my speech below, followed by Mark's Toast to the Lasses (rhyming & rowdy!), then Julie's Toast to the Lads (much gentler than we deserve). Each was followed by a shot of whiskey, which helps immensely when giving or receiving speeches. The official part of the evening ended with the singing of Auld Lang Syne (many more verses than you realize). The evening continued unofficially with a wide range of songs, including one of my favorites, Sam Hall.

I volunteered to write and give a speech in lieu of cooking something for the dinner portion, as it was the least fear-inspiring option... I know, I'm weird. For your entertainment, and to help anyone else out there who has to do this kind of thing in the future, here's what I wrote. It's short, if nothing else.

The Immortal Memory
of Robert Burns

This is a toast to the memory of Scotland's favorite son, the ploughman poet, and the Bard of Ayrshire. The man. The legend. Robbie Burns.

Now, many of us can trace our roots back to Scotland, through one branch or another. Perhaps a legitimate branch of the family tree. Perhaps not. But how many of us know anything about the man that we've come to celebrate? I must admit: until recently, I knew very little.

So who is this man, this legend? Well, let me briefly explain.

Robert Burns was born on the 25th of January, in the year of our lord 1759. He was the eldest of seven siblings. Son of William, a farmer, and Agnes, a stay-at-home mom.

His father made sure that his children learned to read and write, and clearly it was time well spent. Robert worked on farms for most of his life, and to maintain his sanity he wrote poems and songs.

At the age of 27, he went from obscurity to national fame by publishing his first book, “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect”. He never made much money from this work, nor the hundreds of poems and songs he wrote after, but so well was he known and loved, that when he died at the tender age of 37, ten thousand people came to pay their respects.

But why should we here tonight care about a poor Scottish farmer-poet from 250 years ago? Perhaps for the heritage which many of us share, if you dig deep enough. Maybe only for Auld Lang Syne, sung each year after a kiss. Or perhaps because his story is like so many Newfoundland stories, of artists rising out of poverty and obscurity to steal the national spotlight.

Whatever your reason to celebrate, one thing is true: Robert Burns loved his lassies and his whiskey, and I'd like to think that he'd be happy to be remembered this way.

So would everyone please raise your glass, and toast with me the immortal memory of Robert Burns.

"Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!"
- Robert Burns, Address to a Haggis.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You Can't Handle The Tooth!

Another week, another visit to the dentist. This time was straight business, yo. I needed to get a replacement for a filling that fell out a while back. I climbed into the chair, was tilted backwards for maximum blood flow to the brain, had my gums filled with happy-juice, and sat waiting for the numb to spread. My dentist glanced through a magazine or catalog... probably a catalog, as he later talked about suit shopping with the assistant. All the while, hits of the 80's filled the spaces.

Now, a lot of people avoid the dentist because of the drill. That whiny, incessant, insistent strain. I am no fan of it, myself, but such is my resolve to have healthy teeth, that I put it out of my mind and instead pretended I was a monk in a trance. I made peace with the ceiling tiles and wondered vaguely what Tina Turner is doing these days. Has her leg insurance lapsed? Probably.

Right; the drill. I did manage to man up and deal with it pretty well, I have to say. Even the "bumpy" (his words, not mine) drill bit was fine in its way, although for several minutes I felt like my skull was moving independent of my eyes.

In the years since I was last at a dentist's office, the science of teeth has advanced pretty dramatically. They now have a polymer gel, instead of the good ol' radio-wave-receiving metal fillings. The prime benefit, apparently, is cosmetic (this, according to Wikipedia, so it must be true). It does seem to blend well, although it's caused a bit of a problem. After I left the place, I headed back to work with my puffy, numb lip, and it seemed like the tooth he'd just filled was soft or something. I put it off to my mouth being a bit screwy from the anasthetic. Later in the afternoon, though, when things had calmed down a bit, it still felt odd. I prodded the spot with my tongue, and some of it came away, in a soft clay-like ball. Very strange. I realized that the thing hadn't set fully, and a large part of the tooth was now mushy.

I'm guessing it was just a bad batch of gel or something, or improperly set with the UV light probe they used. Either way, I'm heading back again tomorrow morning to get it fixed, and praying that it isn't as big of a deal as getting it filled the first time. I can only muster a zen state so often, and I was hoping I'd have a week to recover. Besides, I'm on stage tomorrow night. It'll suck if my mouth is aching, although I do have a scene where I break down, so maybe I'll just work with it.

Oh, and I heard from TMo tonight. She just ordered a new laptop & iPod. She got heftily upgraded versions of what she had, and for less than she'd paid for them the first time. It still means she's lost her photos, music, and whatnot, but at least she'll have a place to make & store new whatnots. Does it make any sense that items lost in a car theft (aside from the car itself) should be covered by house insurance, but not car insurance? It baffles me a bit.

Watched Coffee & Cigarettes tonight. It's a series of 11 black & white scenes with several famous people (not all actors). I thought a lot of them were great. Iggy Pop & Tom Waits create a funny dynamic, representing a mismatched fame balance. Jack & Meg White discuss Tesla Coils. Cate Blanchett does a nice scene with herself. And Alfred Molina has a fantastic scene with Steve Coogan. They're not all winners, but I'd definitely recommend seeing it. Check out the trailer.

UPDATE: Just got back from my fix-up session at the dentist. Turns out, the mushy feeling was just the sensation of the inside edge of the tooth now being rounded rather than ridged, and the bit that came off yesterday afternoon was some leftover "bonding agent". He was good about it, and even ground down the filling a little to improve the fit with the rest of my teeth. Awesome. :)

"Daaamn, that don't sound too good, Bill Murray."
- Delirium, RZA (aka Bobby Digital)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Crime & Punishment

Last night was a mixed bag of emotions. After our show got rained out, I headed home to do a little work before heading to Dave's BBQ where I'd meet up with Geoffy and Krista (just down from Ottawa for a visit).

The barbecue was a good laugh. Poor LA fell victim to Pat's strong-drink-mixing philosophy, but she seemed to enjoy herself till they had to leave. It's rare for them to get a solid night-out, so I'm glad they had fun. The party seemed to have the usual social fracturing that plagues many large parties, but there was enough intermixing to keep things interesting, and it was great to see all the people I knew there. Oh, and Craig C. is a friggin' guitar hero (III).

The night came to a sad end when TMo called me up to let me know that her folks' car had been broken into while she was at Holy Heart reviewing a show. They broke the window, popped the trunk, and stole what amounts to a solid chunk of her soul: Blacbook, iPod, new backpack, and god knows what else. They must have been watching her beforehand, as it seems pretty random that they'd hit only one car in that parking lot, and it would happen to have stuff with that kind of value in it. I'm not sure what's going to happen from here, but frankly there's only one option at this point: insurance. The RNC can/will do nothing about this, just as with the camcorder that was stolen back in '03. The thieves would basically have to get caught trying to move it and tell the cops where they stole it from, and even then I'm not sure if anyone would put the pieces together. Has anyone ever recovered stolen property through proper channels in this town?

On the opposite side of the crime spectrum, I got home from the barbecue to learn on facebook that my friend Jeff had been beaten up by a drunken mob that mistakenly thought he'd left his dog in his truck for 8 hours. He hadn't, but they weren't listening to reason, and they ended up knocking him around a bit. He's not badly hurt, although I imagine it was pretty upsetting at the time. But, if there's something Jeff and I have in common, it's that we're hard to rile, and he seemed fine when I saw him today. So what happened when the police were called? Nothing. They didn't show up. Nothing.

Both situations could have been a lot worse, and thankfully they weren't, but they're still rotten. Are the police parking bait cars anymore? Are cruisers patrolling anywhere besides George Street and Signal Hill? I know they trained/hired 75 new officers recently, but it's hard to see evidence of it, and I wonder how the new numbers are offsetting baby-boom retirements. I'm not looking for a police-state, but I'm kinda warm to the idea of my friends and family living in a safe place.

I'm reminded of a night last Summer when I was about to cross Church Hill and saw a dude leaning in through the broken window of a truck. I called the police on my cell, told them I was witnessing a robbery on Church Hill, and the woman on the other end insisted that I answer questions about myself before she would do anything else. I said, "Listen, I watched a guy in a hoodie removing a bag through the broken glass of a truck window, and now he's walking down the hill with it. If you're planning on doing something, now's the time to do it." The cop-shop is literally 3 blocks away from that spot. I watched the guy walk down the hill and round the corner, waited a while longer, and never did see a cruiser. All I can imagine is that they're getting a lot of false alarms or something, but even still, their mandate should be to respond to any plausible report, shouldn't it?

"Why can't you do what I want you to do
when I want you to do what I want you to do.
Why can't you read my thoughts?
Guess my next move?
What's wrong with you?"
- Do What I Want You To Do, Fur Packed Action

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dr. Horrible

This is up for free viewing until midnight, Sunday, July 20th 2008. Go watch it.

After tomorrow, you'll have to pay to watch/purchase, so do your wallet a favour and see it now.