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[ 2005 ]



[ 2004 ]

[ 2002 ]

[ 2003 ]

Friday, December 31, 2004

Good to the Last Sandwich

That's it! Happy New Year, ya' freaks!

9:48 AM , # ,


Treat Me Like a Monkey!

Everyone's doing that year-end thing, eh? How was your 2004? This chart sums up my year as a Monkey in the Year of the Monkey:

The thin line represents activity/stress levels with the light blue space in the middle showing the "zone of comfort". You like comfort, right? The colour bars show the focus of each chunk of the year (obviously, I didn't take off four whole months over the summer). The grey bar shows ... er ... the months.

Compared to cushy 2002 and sluggish 2003, 2004 was exactly what I was expecting: a bumpy ride. It really was a 'Year of the Monkey': there were ups and downs and surprises and changes and death and romance and sadness and joy and mayhem and aliens and quiet and blogging and boozing and dancing and fun and a few really unexpected turns (such as that nasty Kenny Rogers incident). After last year when nothing much happened, it was a welcome change and even though some of the dips caused me to lose my appetite (I'm about 15 pounds lighter than I was at the start of the year), it was a great time. I'll take crazy over dull any day of the week.

As you can see, the WORKING portion of the year was pretty intense. The highlight was working on the largest single project I've ever taken on and in March, surviving the hardest week of work I've ever managed: nine solid days working full tilt on 3 hours sleep a night. That's my excuse for geeking out in front of Lorraine Segato at that party ...

The VACATIONING stretch was easy and groovy. I didn't go on any big trips but I was out of town almost every weekend and enjoyed four combined weeks of laziness up at the lake. And no broken toe!

Things got a bit hectic again in the fall. I started the Fall Dating Experience to get back in the game and did a lot of things I've never done before such as going on a date on national tv, arranging a first date for the morning (and I'm not good in the morning) and even tried out the speed dating (speed kills, Del). The weirdest incident was when that woman approached me on the street because she'd seen my internet dating profile. Don't try that, it doesn't work. Another thing that doesn't work is emailing someone every six months for a couple of years after you've been on two dates that didn't go anywhere.

Now the cycle begins again and it's back to work mode. I'm hitting the ground running on Monday ... which is good for the blog, because the busier I get, the more I blog.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being complete crap and 10 being excellent, 2004 was a 7.64873!

1:35 AM , # ,


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Mr. President

George Bush surfed the blog today. Fortunately, the new banner comes equipped with a brain scanner that automatically captures and transcribes the thoughts of everyone who visits the site.

Here's what the most powerful man on earth was pondering during his visit:

nine iron nine iron nine iron pizza blamblog brad lamb brad lamb sells the condos blamblog happy creature wishes he could find a girlfriend ha ha ha he never will look at him he's sweating oh yuck he's drinking it what a funny little guy colin powell blamblog brad lamb sells the condos sugarmama click on that one crap she's gone away skillzy is funny at least he's on my side i think nine iron chip never posts anymore nine iron where's laura twins twins twins mandy moore mandy moore mandy bush mandy moore remember to rent krull brad lamb sells the condos nine iron

7:40 PM , # ,


Doc Soup

The first person to email me at craggerz (at) hotmail (dot) com can have two passes to the January Doc Soup screening, courtesy of Hot Docs, Canadian International Documentary Festival:

Liberia: An Uncivil War won the Special Jury Prize at IDFA and the award for Courage Under Fire at IDA. It is directed by Academy Award nominee, Jonathan Stack, who will answer questions at the screening.

Doc Soup is Hot Docs' monthly screening series. The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival -- the world's second-largest doc fest -- runs from April 22 - May 1, 2005. Only four months away!

12:18 PM , # ,


Canadian History Moment

As the year draws to a close, it's important to look back and reflect, because those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it! As a public service, here's a dramatization of a landmark event in the founding of our great nation:

Mutant Bear Attack in Upper Canada, 1852

The Players
Blamb ... Col. Thomas Talbot
Brother Lou ... William Lyon MacKenzie
and Dickson Coatsworth as Abraham Lincoln
photos by Merv

In the cold, dark days of the waning year, Col. Thomas Talbot summoned an old foe to his settlement. William Lyon MacKenzie had returned to Canada from exile only three years prior ...

WLM: What do you want from me, ya' sorry Tory mick?

TALBOT: Listen, sloof, you're the last person I wanted to call on.

WLM: Out with it, then! Every minute I spend with you is time away from readin' me Gil Blas.

TALBOT: Back on in November, something lit up the sky one night. T'was bright as the day! E'er since, somethin's been lurking in the woods and killin' the men building the road.

WLM: You an' yer bloody, curs'ed road!

TALBOT: I assembled a posse to find the beast, an' they were all slaughtered.

WLM: Fine, fine, fine. I'm sure I can make short work o' the beastie.

TALBOT: It's seeking refuge within the catacombs beneath this land.

WLM: Take me hither!

Talbot and MacKenzie rode to the bluffs on the shore of Lake Erie and found the entrance to catacombs.

WLM: Tis dark as pitch! Light the lamp.

TALBOT: I hear a noise.

WLM: The beast!

TALBOT: It's getting closer!

WLM: The lamp! The lamp!

TALBOT: AHHH! It's here!

LINCOLN: I say, halt, y'all!

WLM: Who are you?

LINCOLN: Name's Lincoln. I hail from the good ol' US of A.

TALBOT: What are ye' doin' down in these caves?

LINCOLN: I'm an elected representative to the United States government, but I'm also a secret operative for an elite intelligence and security force called A-51. Our special tracking sensors detected an object from outer space. It crashed in this area, y'all. Upon investigation, we found that it was a meteor and the radiation it emitted caused some of the local flora and fauna to mutate.

WLM: What's this you're sayin'?

TALBOT: What's been killing my men?

LINCOLN: Well, I ain't a hundred and fifty per cent sure, y'all. But I reckon it's a mutated bear. And I'm here to capture it.

WLM: Capture it? We've got to kill it!

LINCOLN: Don't you understand, this animal offers many opportunities for scientific discovery!

TALBOT: Fie! I know your kind. You want to use it to create some sort of bio-weapon!

LINCOLN: Negative there, friend. That would be acting against God's Law.

WLM: HUSH! Something comes this way.

TALBOT: Guns! Guns! Be ready.

TALBOT: Aim steady.

WLM: Shhhh. It's close.


WLM: It's got Lincoln!

TALBOT: Shoot it!

LINCOLN: NO!!! I can take it, y'all! Arrrggghhh!!!!!

TABLOT: It's tearing him apart!

It was a frenzied battle between Lincoln and the bear, but Lincoln stepped on the edge of a crevice, lost his footing and both plunged into the darkness.

TALBOT: Surely, no man nor beast could survive such a drop.

WLM: They are truly killed.

MacKenzie and Talbot searched the catacombs for the following week, but no trace of Lincoln or the bear was ever found.


Following the incident, Col. Thomas Talbot feared for his safety and only dealt with the public from behind an iron-barred window.

William Lyon MacKenzie's grandson become Prime Minister of Canada.

Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States. During the US Civil War, the Union army defeated the Confederates using a covert army of mutant fighting bears.

This has been your Canadian History Moment!

1:04 AM , # ,


Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Blogger Participation Activity

I'm back in the city where nothing is clear and I'm working on a year-end post and I'm hankerin' to do a chart or two. If you'd like to participate in the chart activity, please rank the intensity & insanity level of 2004 from your point of view in ye' ol' comments field, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being dull as dirt and 10 being loopy as Tom Cruise at a two week Narconon retreat).

9:54 PM , # ,


Look at All the Happy Creatures

It's a wrap! This is the last Happy Creature strip for 2004! Get ready for weekly strips in 2005!

The way it was meant to be read! On paper!

Happy Creature: Smells Like the First Time features all 25 strips from 2004 in handy booklet form. That means you can read it in bed with someone you don't love.

I'm glad that first year is over. The first year is all about working out the basics, and that's not as much fun as when the characters are figured out and things start moving and Crusher gets replaced with Pulaski. Then, in the third year everything zings. Heck, why not take the year off and come back in 2006!

1:23 AM , # ,


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Life Sub-Arctic

with Zack & Lex

Merv thought we were showing off, but it was just a little walk through the fields so the dogs and I could spend some time together ... and talk.

Lex wades through the snow as the train passes on its way to Toronto.

ZACK: So, as we were heading out the door I said, "We are just heading outside for a poop and may be some time."

BLAMB: Very funny, Captain Oates.

ZACK: Well, I'm not like you. I prefer my scatalogical humour a shade more subtle. With historical references.

BLAMB: Lex, how do you like your poop jokes?

LEX: You just said 'poop'! That's dirty! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

ZACK: What movie did you see yesterday?

BLAMB: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

ZACK: Pffftttt! I hope you liked it, I don't want to have to endure another year of you ranting the way you did about The Royal Tannenbaums.

BLAMB: No, it was great. Excellent flick, very funny.

ZACK: Phew!

BLAMB: And I didn't agree with the reviewers who said that the set design and quirkiness and dry humour kept you from connecting with the characters. That was my main complaint about Tannenbaums, but I felt Bill Murray's pain all through this one.

ZACK: So you had a good time?

BLAMB: Yeah, except Dickson's car broke down in the middle of the country on the way home and we were stranded. It was freakin' cold.

LEX: Hey! Hey! HEY!!!

BLAMB: What?



LEX: Well, you were saying that poop is funny! Yuck!

BLAMB: Poop jokes are funny. Poop itself is just disgusting.

LEX: Uh oh, it's buried in the snow. We have to find it!

BLAMB: No we don't. Come on.

ZACK: Are you enjoying your break?

BLAMB: Yeah. The satellite tv is fun. Today I watched a former junkie get a make-over on TLC. That would make a great series: Junkie Makeovers. They could give drug addicts and street people makeovers. I would consider getting cable just to watch it.

LEX: You know who needs a makeover? David Spade!

ZACK: Have you seen that commercial he's in?

BLAMB: The problem is his goatee. Both David Spade and the goatee reached their zenith in the mid-nineties. By wearing the goatee in the commercial, it draws your attention to the fact that Spade's career has tanked and that he's longing for better days. It's sad. David Spade has become the very type of person he used to mock in his one-note Saturday Night Live gag.

ZACK: If I ever met him in real life, I'd slap him and shout at him, "Do you think Farley got off easy? Is that what you're thinking? Man, you've got so much ... just look around you and freakin' appreciate it." Then I'd slap him again for effect.

BLAMB: You would not, you'd just try to lick his face.

LEX: Lick! Yuck, yuck! You said 'lick'. That's dirty!

BLAMB: It sure is! Ok, let's go home and watch TRON!

And the holidays continue ...

1:05 AM , # ,


Monday, December 27, 2004

2004 Year-End Sci-Fi Geek Out

If you ask me ... and you're here, so I'm assuming you did ... 2004 was a pretty unremarkable year for sci-fi entertainment action. But the year arrived with no expectations, so the gems we got were gravy. 2005 is gonna be a riskier venture. Here are some impressions of 2004:

There wasn't much truly bad stuff this year, the way Attack of the Clones was bad (unless you were drunk when you saw it ... which made it great). The worst stuff of '04 was simply boring, pointless and mildly irritating.

Space Nazis
Enterprise introduced a Space Nazi plot and failed to milk it in any way, whatsoever. I can just hear the pitch for that one:

BRAGA: Space Nazis! It writes itself!

BERMAN: You're right! Here's a stack of paper and a pen. Stick it in a drawer for a month and see what happens.

One month later ...

BRAGA: YAY! This is a great script! This will wrap up the Temporal Cold War for good!

COTO: These pages are blank.

BRAGA: It gives us room to improvise! Hey, let's have a character named, 'Carmine'!

Also worth mentioning is the fact that the Xindi story failed to address the issue of sexual relations between the various Xindi species. Do Arboreals have fetish sex with Aquatics or Insectoids? And do they have a Xindi Speaker's Corner where they go to complain about it, "Listen up, Reptillian men, they don't show women no respect!"

Shrek 2
The original Shrek is one of those movies that's fun to watch one time ... just one time ... and never again. Shrek 2 is like watching Shrek again. Without Lithgow.

Someone told me that when Gwenyth Paltrow had her baby, she was in labour for 20 hours or something. That's far less pain than I endured watching her ruin the otherwise decent Sky Captain.

On Smallville, Lana is quickly threatening to overtake Richard Pryor as the most irritating thing in the history of all things Superman. What made Lana interesting was her internal struggle against being "just another small town girl" (just as Clark & Lex struggle against their destinies). Instead of following that through to a logical and satisfying conclusion, they've tossed in witches, a lame tatoo and a mysterious boyfriend. When Robert Vaughn shows up, you'll know it's all gone to hell.

I, Robot
I, hated this bloody movie. It wins the Star Trek:Generations award for I Hated It Even More After I Left The Theatre. Someone should do a phantom edit and splice this movie together with Minority Report to create the ultimate adaptation bastardization.

Finally, when acquaintances work on projects my first impulse is to be a booster. But there's no denying how bad this sludge was:

Dawn of the Dead
After a promising start this remake quickly became an A-Team episode (one of the later ones when Peppard and Mr. T were fighting and wouldn't shoot scenes together). There is a missed opportunity every 6 minutes and 12 seconds. But the big question is ...


One of the fun things about the original were the various zombie characters: the zombie Hare Krishna, the nun, etc etc. The remake gives us 28 Days Later-style "running zombies" at the expense of letting us spend any time with them. And, except for Sarah Polley, the human characters don't grab you enough to pick up the slack.

And the ending is a huge cop-out. The characters escape at the end (thus fulfilling the 'Hollywood Happy Ending' requirement) but if you bother to sit through the credits, you discover that they actually get chewed up after all (thus fulfilling the 'Having Your Cake and Eating It, Too' requirement). Compared to the original's bleak, ambiguous ending, it's total smudge.

Kingdom Hospital
The orginal Kingdom miniseries played at the Bloor several years ago and was weird & spooky with a great payoff at the end. And Udo Keir. Only someone as tiresome as Stephen King could mess that up, and he does with his unwatchable adaptation. Doesn't like her cooking? Damn you, Stephen King!

Mutant X
Cancelled with prejudice.

There was worse stuff than this, but I avoided it. For example, last night I was at the local video rental joint and Van Helsing was on the shelf and when I reached out and touched the DVD case I blacked out and woke up in Switzerland.

It wasn't all Snoresville. Some stuff glowed like a shaft of gold while all around was dark.

After Computerman was cancelled on Channel101, I never thought I'd love again. But the first season of LaserFart is the funniest thing not on tv, especially the 'inspired by Jesus' speech LaserFart gives at the end of one episode.

Shaun of the Dead
I don't get film reviewers. A bunch of them complained that Shaun of the Dead turns into too much of a standard, violent zombie flick at the end. It's just a bit o' blood. I think it gets a bit too hammy and the sense of jeopardy wanes nears the end. Doesn't matter, the flick was necessary to show Zack Snyder how much emptiness is in his soul.

Babylon Galactica
Watch this miniseries and take a drink everytime you sense that something was lifted from Babylon 5 and you will get as drunk as Col. Tigh/Garibaldi. But other than that, it's a damn fine update of the original, right Ivanova/Starbuck? Looking forward to the series next month, but if they do a follow-up series called Galactica 2006 where they reach earth with a bunch of magical space kids, all bets are off!

Star Trek: Enterprise
After a rocky first few episodes, Enterprise hit its stride with some great Trekkage, improved music and some much-needed character action (such as the Trip/T'Pol mess). The 3-episode arc with Spiner featured some Grade A, hammy Trek acting. The only way it could get better is by including scenes like this:

ARCHER: You're with Trip?

T'POL: I am married to some doughboy at home, but yeah, I dig Trip.

ARCHER: And you don't dig me?

T'POL: I'm sorry Captain, I could never love a man who cries after sex.

See? Cause Archer, he is all ... ah ... aw, screw it ...

On Smallville, scenes of Lex's descent into evil are flat-out glorious. And I remain pro-Lois.

The Incredibles
Best movie nobody will remember in five years.

Not a great year, not the worst year ... just a blaaaahhhhh year. 2005 shows promise, it could potentially be a terrible year!

2005 is gonna be one of those years that raises your expectations ... and then splatters them on the rocks like a bunch of zombie brains. Here are my pics for the biggest potential disappointments:

Star Wars III
Come to think of it, after the first two prequels, if you have any expectations for this movie at all, you're a complete idiot. Sure, we're all going to line-up and see the sucker, but let's face facts: George Lucas is insane and ADD and this movie is going to be like watching an outer space version of that Real Gilligan's Island reality show. You could sit Jake Llyod, Hayden Christensen, James Earl Jones, David Prowse and Sebastian Shaw at a table and film them discussing the big fight between Obi-wan and Anakin for two hours and you'd probably end up with a better movie.

Hitchhiker's Guide
How do you make 20-year-old jokes fresh & funny again? For some reason, I'm expecting a 2005 Fifth Element.

War of the Worlds
Speilberg + Cruise = Minority Report on three legs.

Doctor Who
What could go wrong?

So long, 2004! Thanks for nothin'!

11:43 AM , # ,


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Where's Alice?

My parents never approved of the whole "Alice thing" (they call her 'disturbing') and this weekend they tried to set me up with some other woman. I didn't like her, she says weird things:

I'll finish cleaning out the garbage, honey. Your friends are waiting for you to play golf.

Are you sure it's ok to wash this shirt? You've only worn it for a couple of days.

It really doesn't matter if you leave the toilet set up, it makes it easier to clean.

I think she's the most passive-aggressive person I've ever met ... and she seems to have me pegged as someone else. Golf? I never play golf.

Since I've been away from the city, Alice has been showing up in my dreams. Last night's dream was really weird. Alice appeared and started talking to me:

ALICE: Brett! Brett!

BLAMB: Alice. You're a ghost!

ALICE: No, I'm communicating to you from deep space using alien telepathy.

BLAMB: Deep space? How the hell did you end up there?

ALICE: I was kidnapped by Greys back in the summer.


ALICE: They transported me to a planet in the distant Andromeda galaxy. But now, I am returning. I am returning!

BLAMB: I didn't even know you were gone!

ALICE: I wish I could tell you more. I wish I could warn you of what's coming, the danger. But all they will let me say is that the time has come for me to return to the earth.

BLAMB: Some people think they've seen you around.

ALICE: Alien telepathy isn't perfect. I may have appeared to some other people before I was able to contact you.

BLAMB: I see.

ALICE: So get ready. You'll see me when you see me.

BLAMB: Hey, say, "Booooooooo!"

ALICE: I told you, I'M NOT A GHOST!

BLAMB: [sigh] I just thought it would be fun.

9:10 PM , # ,


Saturday, December 25, 2004

Do You Wish You Were Special?

The other morning, Agit (formerly in Warsaw Pack) phoned at a ridiculous hour in the morning:

AGIT: Hey man, turn on Citytv right now! Hurry!

I dragged myself into the other room and turned on the set just in time to see our friend, Hilbert performing on Breakfast Television.

While that's fun, what's really cool is that two of Agit & Rick's puppet videos are on the new thing, The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth of All Time. They're excellent videos, featuring some pretty wild puppets and make the DVD worth the price of admission.

That's Radiohead-o-riffic!

More plugs
Wrapping up the holiday crap:

RobotJohnny posted his annual e-card for CHUM. His orginal idea is better.

I do one every year for a client. Here's this year's, last year's and the year before, my favourite.

[left] And if you're in the Annex, pick up the December Gleaner. Cover art is mine, mine, mine!

11:00 PM , # ,


Santa Night!

As Merv noted, last weekend I gave in and became Santa again. For the past eight years I was able to resist the urge thanks to a special inhaler Kris Kristofferson designed for me.

But Merv wasn't there, so it is only now, on Xmas Eve, that the true story of that evening can be told ...

Auntie Sharon embrances the universe's ultimate evil.

A couple of my cousins brought new boyfriends to the family gathering on Sunday. One of them, Charley, seemed suspicious of me. By coincidence, Charley had recently moved into the house next door to me.

BLAMB: Is something wrong, Charley?

CHARLEY: [paralysed with fear] No. Nothing. Nothing, sir.

I figured I'd let it drop. But later in the evening, I overheard him talking to my cousin.

CHARLEY: And I was on MSN typing and I just looked out my window and I saw Brett through his bedroom window and he was dressed as Santa and there was a woman with him and he bit her neck and started sucking her blood!

Well, I couldn't let those sorts of stories get around. I excused myself, telling the relatives that I'd been up late the night before and needed a nap. I went to down to the basement and started to transform ...

My eyes glowed red, my belly became swollen and expanded, my cheeks grew chubby and white hair sprouted all over my body, my breath began to smell like candy canes. I writhed in pain as the physical transformation tore through my body.

I went back upstairs as Santa.

SANTA BLAMB: Now Charley, I don't like it when people talk about me behind my back.

I lunged at Charley, reaching for his neck. But cousin Gillian saw what was happening and sprung into action, attacking me.

GILLIAN: This evil must end!

SANTA BLAMB: Under attack! I'm being taken!

I fell on an end table and it smashed. Gillian grabbed one of the severed table legs and plunged it through my chest. Blood gushed, I screamed, I gasped ... and was quiet. A crimson stain spread across the floor.

Charley and Grandpa, horrified by the attack.

CHARLEY: I knew it! He was a Santa!

GILLIAN: He won't be making any more lists of who's naughty & nice.

Suddenly, my chest heaved and I vomited blood.


CHARLEY: He's alive!

SANTA BLAMB: HA! Fools! You can't destroy me!


CHARLEY: Of course! The only way to kill a Santa is to destroy the King Santa!

SANTA BLAMB: Right! Destroy All Santas, Vol. 4, Issue #6. [via Rusty Robot]

GILLIAN: I didn't know that! I was never into Xmas comics ...

Meanwhile, in Texas ...

The King Santa was terrifying Sugarmama's niece, prompting one of her readers to link to a picture, taken several years earlier, of the same King Santa with her son. Where will he turn up next?

As for me, I'm back on the serum.

2:15 AM , # ,


Friday, December 24, 2004

Come On, Get Happy!


Starting this week and for the rest of this season of the Blamblog, The Happy Creature will be running weekly. That's a whole lotta fun, in the meantime ...

... Not in time for Xmas!

Happy Creature: Smells Like the First Time features all 25 strips from 2004, the first full year of the comic.

Not a bad deal if you're purchasing in the US but Canadians will have to pay US$6 for shipping above the price of the 'zine, so caveat emptor.

With the strip going weekly, next year's book should be twice as big. There will be some other changes, the strip is being retooled even as you read these very words. So watch for the exciting second year of Happy Creature starting in January!


9:52 AM , # ,


Still the Blamblog

Every Xmas, I take the train home from the city. For the past few years, Caroline has joined me.

[left] start: Union Station, Toronto, pop. 2.5 million

Trains were delayed a little this evening, but the lounge was comfortable and we kicked back. Soon we boarded and were off ...

BLAMB: I saw Kate Bosworth on the cover of a magazine the other day. It's the second time I've been surprised to see that she wasn't eaten by a shark.

CARO: Shark? [points] Here comes that guy, get him to top up the wine.

OLD WAITER GUY: More wine?

BLAMB: Fill 'er up!

CARO: Do you start blogging again, tonight?

BLAMB: Yeah ... I think I'm confusing Kate Bosworth with that surfer ...

CARO: So what happens on your blog? Things were busy before your break.

BLAMB: It was a good season. Much better than the previous season when I was engaged to be married to Alice and Aukko the Octopus tried to split us up. Last season wound up having all of the genre elements of a screwball comedy, including three acts, plot points and a wacky, happier ending.

CARO: Whatever happened to Alice?

BLAMB: I dunno. I'm sure she's gettin' by ... Kate Bosworth was in that surfer girl movie, right?

CARO: I don't know who Kate Bosworth is. So how does tonight's blog season begin?

BLAMB: We open with the main character riding the train home, alone. He's down and disappointed. His fall romance ended, some other things have changed, the party season is over and a cold winter is setting in.

CARO: Alone?

BLAMB: Yeah. The opening scene is an homage to the 1983 Leave It To Beaver reunion movie, Still the Beaver. That show opened with the Beaver riding the bus home to Mayberry ...

CARO: Mayberry? That's Andy Griffith.


CARO: Mayberry was the Andy Griffith show. You have the wrong town.

BLAMB: Ok, well, the show opened with the Beaver and he's grown up and riding the bus home. His wife is divorcing him, he's lost his job and the Supertramp song, Take the Long Way Home, plays over the opening montage. So the blog reopens with the same scene except it's my character riding the train home.

CARO: Yeah, but you're not alone. I'm sitting right here having dinner!

BLAMB: When I write it on my blog, he'll be riding alone in coach reading a copy of WIRED. And sitting beside a greasy teenager with halitosis. The teenager might fart, I haven't decided yet.


BLAMB: Can you top up my coffee with the Baily's? Thanks.

CARO: I'm having it with ice. Hey, Old Waiter Guy, which do you think is better? Coffee or ice?

OLD WAITER GUY: I don't know! [starts to cry]

CARO: So what's new this season?

BLAMB: I don't know, so I went to an astronomer the other day and got a reading to find out. The astronomer said that my chart has been a rollercoaster of conflict and tension for the past month and a half and will be until the end of the year. He said the best policy for Aquarius is to sit back, relax and ride it out. Which is funny, 'cause my doctor said the same thing.

CARO: Don't you mean astrologer?

BLAMB: Same difference. Apparently, Uranus, planet of instability and Mars, planet of conflict, are hanging out and shaking things up. I'm supposed to stay away from the ocean, because all these factors combine to make me particularly susceptible to shark attacks right now.

CARO: Like Kate Bosworth.

BLAMB: But she wasn't attacked by a shark! I just imagined it! I think it was some surfer girl and I've confused them.

OLD WAITER GUY: Excuse me, did you just mention sharks? Cause I just heard on the radio that former child star, Jerry Mathers, was just killed in a shark attack!

BLAMB: NOOOOOO!!!!!! It should have been KATE BOSWORTH!

[above] end: Glencoe, Ontario, pop. 2,200

1:00 AM , # ,


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Blog the Long Train Home

So you think you're a piece of jam
But your fridge is filled with ham
Blog the long train home
Blog the long train home

Cause you're the joke of the Dufferin Mall
Showin' your face takes a lot of gall
Blog the long train home
Blog the long train home

There are times when you feel sandwiches are not enough
It can get a little rough, using tahini
Then your dog seems to think you're just a poop-scoopin' machine
Oh, it's so obscene, he used to be so nice

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
Take a trip from the city lights
Blog the long train home
Blog the long train home

You never type what you want to type
Sittin' there in your pjs at night
Blog the long train home
Blog the long train home

When you post to your blog it's so unbelievable
Oh, unforgettable, how the hits ignore you
But then your dog seems to think you're losing your sanity
Oh, calamity, is there no way out?

[bridgy thingy]

Does it feel that your life's become a catastrophe?
Oh, it has to be for you to grow, boy
When you look through the archives and see what you could have wrote
Oh, what you might have wrote
If you had had more time

So when the day comes to settle down
Who's to blame if you're not around?
Blog the long train home
Blog the long train home ...

pluggo: BLC is #5 on NOW's Top 10 websites in today's issue.

11:14 AM , # ,


Monday, December 06, 2004

Gone Fishin'

That's it, I'm on a blog break! Posting resumes on Thursday, December 23.

This concludes six months of solid blogging action and I'm goin' out on a high note: today was my all-time high daily blog traffic record! I'll still be lurking in all of your comments ... so watch it.

If you're really bored, feel free to peruse the archives. In May I returned from a three month hiatus with a new design. In June I went to Ottawa. In July I went to the cottage. In August I got into lists. In September I got my blog groove back (that's right, three months to warm up). In October I met my past and future selves. In November the sandwich went to Italy. And in December, it was party time.

Be seein' ya!

10:22 PM , # ,


Sunday, December 05, 2004

A Smashing Santa Story

The events described in this last Santa Story happened twelve years ago today, on December 6, 1992. It was my first and worst year as Santa. This tale was originally posted two years ago in four parts and Laura, my girlfriend from that time and primary victim, helped recall events:

Laura always managed to duck out of tough scrapes. Here she is surrounded by thugs in downtown Cleveland.

Part 1: A Santa is Born

In the fall of 1992, I’d finished university and was wondering what the hell I was going to do with my time, besides eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Laura and I were living above a store at 711 Mt. Pleasant, just south of Eglinton and I was making ends meet by borrowing large wads of cash from my parents and doing papier mache projects. I had a little room at the back of the flat where I would work until the early morning hours slapping strips of paper together to make masks and other stuff. It was the height of the recession and jobs were scarce and my credit card was like a gasping baby bird waiting to be fed, so I took a job at the GAP at First Canadian Place. University had been four years of fun and now life seemed bleak and hopeless.

Gee, thanks! I don’t think it was that bad. My sister moved in to help with the rent. And the Sopranos next door were on your side ….

Vicky (Cleaopatra 2525, Mutant X) helped with the rent.

Oh, it was that bad: the GAP. The GAP! They paid minimum wage, so when the opportunity to top up the cash tank appeared, I jumped at it: five weeks of Santa at the Woodbine Centre Mall in north Etobicoke for $12 an hour. I’d worked with kids, I’d been a swimming instructor. It seemed like the easy money.

An aunt had pitched the Santa gig to me over Thanksgiving dinner. I set up a schedule so I could work at the GAP in the mornings and Santa in the afternoon/evenings. My parents’ lent us their blue Volvo to help with the commute.

The week before the Santa season, we had a crew meeting to get set up. The helpers were college beauty-school students and the other Santas were a bit older and unemployed, also doing the job to pick up some cash. At the meeting, the veteran helpers began wistfully reminiscing about their favourite Santa from the previous year:

“He was so sweet. Remember how he used to have to go into the Santa House and pee in the bucket! Poor guy. Too bad he died.” The girl telling the story explained that one night after his shift, Santa went home, went to sleep and never woke up. He must have been pretty frail, I thought. How hard could the job be?

All of the Santas had to suit up to make sure their suits and beards fit and we were given a little booklet explaining how to be a “good Santa”. A good Santa never says, "I", a good Santa always refers to himself as "Santa". It's similar to the Bob Dole instruction book.

On my first shift, I discovered that there was a problem with the fine-looking beards we were wearing: they were HOT AS HELL. The high quality beards and wigs we had to wear that year were exceptional. They were full, finely-crafted $100 wigs; the best damn fake-hair items I’ve ever seen or worn. And the most painful.

Woodbine is also a relatively warm mall and the Santa set was under a skylight, so if the sun was out in the afternoon, the atrium would heat up and Santa would start to melt (you can see the atrium in the movie The Freshman, in the scene where Matthew Broderick is in the mall trying to catch the runaway Komodo Dragon). After my first shift I felt sick and sore, like I’d been beaten and had the flu at the same time. I went home and slept.

The second shift was worse.

For the entire season, playing Santa involved a great deal of physical torture. The suit was hot and the beard itched and was giving me a rash around my neck and the wig was causing my scalp to go numb. Not only was the beard uncomfortable, I also wound up sucking strands of hair into my mouth and sometimes swallowed long strands. Under the suit, I was drenched with sweat.

Even though the job was knocking the stuffing out of me, others had it worse. One mall security guard spent a half-hour puking after working a sub shift when a Santa called in sick. One of the other Santa’s started getting headaches from the camera flash (I had that happen, only mildly, during my final year as Santa). Despite everything that happened later, I was the only Santa to finish the five weeks. I was the only Santa to last more than two weeks.

The pain was slowly wearing me down, but every morning I checked in at the GAP and every afternoon I did Santa.

Note: Brett was not his usual cheerful self during this time. Quiet, moody, and slightly sad. Just what you want your boyfriend to be at Christmas time. Brett was also susceptible to any and all colds, flus, and runny noses passed on from the snotty kids on his knee.

That’s right, if a kid was sick, I caught it and sometimes felt like I had a few colds and flus running simultaneously. By the second week, I was a mess. Not in great condition for driving.

At least things couldn't get worse.

Part 2: Things Get Worse

A couple of weeks in, my schedule and the grueling Santa shifts began to take their toll. At first I expected to build up endurance but instead I was getting sicker and sicker and more worn out each day. My parents felt sorry for me and arranged a family visit to Santa – the family, my grandma, a couple of aunts and a few cousins all came and had their pictures taken and after my shift, they took us out for dinner.

December 6, 1992: the relatives visit. Hey, it's young Merv!

Afterwards, at home, Laura and I set out on one of our holiday chores: getting the cats used to the car. We had two cats and both were nervous in the car, so to help them prepare for the trip home at Xmas, we took them out for a short drive around the block every night.

That evening (a Sunday) we drove down Mt. Pleasant with the cats in the back and at the intersection at Davisville, I simply blanked out and drove through the red light. I remember flashes of what happened … seeing the car outside the right-hand window, maybe seeing smushed metal … and then everything moved in slow motion for a second after the impact. Everything not bolted down became airborne and I realized that we’d been hit and that we were airborne and we were rolling over. There was a bit of a thud when the car landed on its roof and then the sound of the pavement scraping on the roof. And then everything stopped.

The car was broadsided, but we didn’t roll. The car was thrown in the air and flipped in mid-air. When we landed, upsidedown, the impact was really immense. We then skidded kitty-corner through the intersection, sliding into a bus shelter.

I was strapped into the seat by my seatbelt, hanging upside down and I look over to see if Laura was okay and her seat was empty. It hit me: she wasn’t wearing her seatbelt. I looked down and saw her lying on the ceiling and she wasn’t moving. I undid my seatbelt and dropped down and froze because I realized that it was possible she was dead. I asked her if she was awake and finally she started asking what happened and I explained that we were in an accident. She said that he didn’t have time to be in an accident, she had too much homework.

Didn’t respond right away because I couldn’t breathe or talk. I could hear you frantically trying to get me to talk, but I was unable to move or respond. Finally, when a guy came to see if I was ok, I was able to whisper to him to tell you I was alive. I don’t think I started thinking about homework until later. By the way, it was exams, not homework.

I vaguely remember a guy at the window. A crowd was gathering outside but I don’t remember much about what was going on, I was pretty worried about Laura and was focused on keeping her talking to get a sense of what kind of shape she was in. A TTC bus had stopped and radioed for help and soon the fire department and ambulance arrived.

Luckily, the bus had been behind us and able to call for help right away. I was stunned and unconscious for a few minutes before opening my eyes. When I did, a woman who was standing there and looking at me, started to scream. “she’s alive, SHE'S ALIVE!” Then the guy came over to ask if I was ok. Dumb question, really. But it was really nice to have someone to focus on until the ambulance arrived. I was in a lot of pain, and very confused. Brett was wandering around, I think. Didn’t really know where he was.

My door was cut off and I stepped out of the car and an ambulance attendant grabbed me and put me in a spinal hold and shouted, “Holy crap!”

I said, “I’m not hurt, I’m okay.”

And the attendant said, “That doesn’t matter! You don’t just let someone stand up after and accident like this! You never know, you could have a broken neck!!!”

And they stuck me on a board and loaded me into an ambulance. I started babbling at that point and a cop came to take my statement and I explained the Santa thing, the exhaustion, that I’d ran the light and blanked out … etc. The cop charged me with running a red.

My exit from the car was not so smooth. They cut the door off, but I couldn’t get out. I was lying on the roof of the upsidedown car. But I was having trouble breathing and couldn’t move. So they had to find a way to get me out of the car, gently and safely. On impact most of the windows had blown out – feature of Volvos. The only window left was the back one, and that’s the one they needed to drag me through. So they put a blanket over me to protect me from the glass, and broke the window. Basically over top of me. Then they had to cut off all of the head rests to drag me out.

Once out, they loaded me into the ambulance and took me to Sunnybrook, prepping me for trauma on the way.

Blue Volvo
Precious and warm the memory
Through the years
And I still can see Blue Volvo
Through my tears

Part 3: Emergency

BLAMB: We went in separate ambulances to Sunnybrook hospital. And were a few stalls apart in the emergency room.

In the stall between us, a guy was being questioned by a doctor about his condition and the patient was mumbling about ‘space diseases’ and ‘biofilters’. After lying on the stretcher for about half an hour, I was given teh once-over and allowed to leave. I saw that the guy had wired himself up with car batteries and wires and duct tape: his home biofilter.

Laura was in the end stall and things weren’t going well. She wasn’t allowed to have painkillers until they’d fully assessed her injuries and the intern who took her blood was having a difficult time and there was blood splattered on the wall.

No painkillers. I was in excrutiating pain. It would later be revealed that I had 5 broken ribs, all along the back. And I was lying flat on my back in emergency. I was dizzy from the pain. The intern was funny; she was trying to get my blood gas, but couldn’t find the vein or something. She kept stabbing me over and over, getting more frustrated. I tried to lighten the situation by noting the blood on the ceiling, which wasn’t mine. Asking her if it belonged to the last guy she took blood gas from. She was not amused. And left in a huff. Later, when she came back and informed me she was giving me a rectal exam/probe to make sure I didn’t have a rectal puncture, I refused and told her to find someone who knew how to do it. This made her reallllllly mad. But she didn’t do the probe, and no one came to do it. Kind of makes you wonder ……….

I was kicked out of emergency and had to go wait in the lobby, so I started making phone calls. My first was to Johnny O, and I explained what happened. Then I called my parents and after that I was allowed back in to see Laura again. She was about to go get x-rays and they were about to give her painkillers.

I told Brett not to call my parents until we knew if I was ok. Brett called many people that night, freaking most of them out.

I didn’t remember being told not to call them, I felt guilty that I didn’t.

I waited in the lobby some more and then I was informed that Laura was coming back down from getting x-rayed. As they wheeled her down the hall towards me, I could see that she was laughing … painkillers?

No painkillers yet. Just delirious from the pain. Scared and trying to make myself not scared.

As they wheeled her past me, I asked, “How are you feeling?” and she blurted out with a big smile, “WHO’S THIS GUY? I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM BEFORE IN MY LIFE! HAW HAW HAW!!!”

I did not laugh. I was teasing, but you didn’t know I was teasing. You looked so scared and freaked out that I didn’t recognize you. I felt a bit bad about that.

Early that morning I took the early morning bus to Eglinton and then walked home. It was snowing, big fluffy flakes and everything was covered in a warm, white blanket. It was quiet, the city was just waking up, Laura was stranded in the hospital and the cats were gone. And Santa and the GAP were still waiting for me ...

The cats? As you know, when the car was hit the windows blew out so they bolted when it came to a stop. The evening after the accident, I put up a bunch of 'lost cats' posters but no one responded.

About two weeks later, Laura was back after spending a week at her parents and she had this sudden urge to go to the Humane Society. She recruited a few of our friends to take her (since I was still playing Santa) and despite being in great pain from her five broken ribs, hobbled to the animal shelter (it should be mentioned that she also went to the Xmas party that year). There, in one of the cages, was Legsy, who was less than a year old at the time. Laura broke down and started blubbering. We never saw the other cat again.

Where are they now?
Legsy still lives with Laura's parents up in Bruce County. Laura still lives in Toronto, is married and has a daughter and new son. Santa Claus still appears in malls across North America. And me? Three months later, I escpaped the GAP and started doing the art with kids. And I had this idea for replacing Santa with a new holiday mascot who would be a skinny, naked hairless guy ... but that's another story.


11:59 PM , # ,


Making a Mess In 6 Easy Hours

Another night, yet another party; last night was my annual pre-holiday party thing. Booze not included. This year's edition was co-sponsored by my mom ... who thinks I'm cool.

Speaking of cool, there were bloggers. [above] Eva, RobotJohnny, Christie (who arranged the food action, so thank her) & [left] The Armchair Garbageman, reunited again for the very first time after we saved this blog from the giant, trans-dimensional Kenny Rogers. Some of the other bloggers who showed their mugs: Dave, James, Brent, Brenda, Paul & Jenn.

[below] It was Zack's night to par-tay (and mooch). He had even more fun when Dave, his dog walker, showed up and took him out for a pee.

[above] "Are you gonna post this on your freaking blog?" Mike, Karen & Neil face the consequences of the internetish age.

[left] Lori considers a new hair style, passing on Warren's spikey look.

[above, left] Janet & Bob, content with their own hair. [above, right] Pete & Lisa dropped by to represent Glencoe, our hometown. I've known Pete since we were 4 (he lived two doors down) and he acted in many of our Super 8 movies and videos. Badly. He is not an actor. Not even close. You wouldn't believe how bad he is. Terrible.

[above] Accordian Guy, Chelle & Rannie, visibly disappointed that a less-boozified Liz isnt licking their faces.

[left] Joey belts out some tunes. The bloggers were ready for it, but the rest of the crowd didn't know what hit 'em. Anita emailed today:

Thanks for a fun party! I woke up this morning, thinking, "Was there a guy playing the accordion last night or did I dream that?"

[above] Mariela and Jim brought along my new neighbour, Emma. She's only been in the 'hood a few days and she's already discovered the glory of the Dufferin Mall.

[left] Nancy & Jenn realized that they once knew each other ... in a parallel universe!

[below] Darryl in suave Robert J. Sawyer-mode.

And that wraps up the hosting duties for '04! Except for the cleaning, which still needs to be done.

The holiday party season continues ...

11:03 PM , # ,


Har! Thar Be Pictures!

Rannie's & Liz's photo set from Friday night's blogger party are posted on the GTABlogger site. Lots of pics of all the usual suspects. Last night was my party, pics to come .... laterrrrr.

4:02 PM , # ,


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Last Night ...

... Liz Vang Didn't Get to Sleep at All, No, No!

Wow, Liz looks completely sober in that photo. Last night was the annual GTABloggers Xmas party. Christie already has some pics and important lessons posted. ... yeah, I said, "This looks like a GREAT parking spot!"

Now I gotta clean up this gin joint ...

9:31 AM , # ,


Friday, December 03, 2004

All in the Family

Dad posted the pics from the time they took the foreign exchange students to Warren to see Eminem's childhood home. Oh, those crazy kids and their rap music ...

He also posted a poem the Ice Queen wrote him when she was one of his students.

Merv posted a pic of our cousin who is preggers with twins. It makes you just want to run out and have twins!

Here's a poem:

I have a cousin who's gonna have twins
In the early stages of gestation, they both had fins
They're mostly baked now
She's as big as a cow
If they go bowling together, they'll knock down a lot of pins.

What? You're not paying for any of this.

1:10 AM , # ,


How to Blog ...

... in 31 easy steps.

1:05 AM , # ,


Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Gales of November Remembered

November. How I hate that freaking month! The leaves are gone, it's cold and wet and grey and I tend to get a bit sick on and off until the snow comes. This November was better than most, but while there were plenty of hijinks and fun and games in Blogville, the lives of friends and acquaintances have been filled with grief -- ranging from the usual small sorrows to things too terrible to think about.

Through it all, there remains the sandwich. An oasis of calm, warmth & peace. The sandwich is always there, day after day, year after year, reminding us that enduring November helps us appreciate the better days ahead ...

... like this Saturday!

2:39 PM , # ,


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Aye, Curmudgeon!

Quick reminder: Alan Zweig's doc, I Curmudgeon, is on TVO tonight at 10pm. Alan wanders around and interviews 'diffcult' people including Harvey Pekar, Fran Lebowitz and Rick McGinnis. Watch it and find out why Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes reigns as King Curmudgeon.

5:23 PM , # ,



It's time again for the semi-annual blog break! Operations will cease for a couple of weeks starting Tuesday, December 7th and probably resume on the evening of December 23rd.

But the break has to be worthwhile, so I need some ideas for a project to take on while I'm off. Something I can start and complete during the break and post results at the end.

For example, I considered taking a second shot at developing an addiction to scratch & win lottery tickets, but that tanked so badly last time, I'm not going to attempt it again. I guess I could stop working out and eat a lot of fatty food and see how much weight I could gain ... but I'd expect to be paid a lot of money for that. And Morgan Spurlock pretty much covered it.

Here's an idea: I could use self-tanning products for the entire hiatus and post before and after pictures at the end. That wouldn't cause any permanent damage!

Suggestions? Let's hear 'em!

1:11 AM , # ,


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