Diary of My Day (or A Journal of Frustration)

I believe that my number one accomplishment today was that I did not hit anyone. After spending over $600.00 fixing my car last month, it was back to the garage today to figure out why the car would not start. Heard of intermittent wipers? Well I had an intermittent starter. I thought it was my clutch switch but I couldn't be sure. The battery checked out fine, and I never had a problem with the starter. Once I arrived at the garage today, I attempted to blame the garage for not doing the repairs properly last month. But seeing as how the clerk knew more about car repairs than I, there was no convincing him.
Since my day off from work was going to revolve around the garage, I figured I would take the car some place with plenty of stores and restaurants within walking distance to while the time away.

First it was off the the bank. Banks were closed today but the ATM was functioning. Sort of. I tried taking out $150 but the machine did not have enough cash. I tried $50. The ATM gathered up its lose change and spit it out at me through the little slot. Not a good sign for the bank to run out of money. Especially since Tuesday is also a bank holiday and the cash box will not be filled until Wednesday morning. Not my problem though, I got mine.

Next it was off to Tim Horton's for my coffee and breakfast. I planned on reading the morning paper but was distracted for the first few minutes by the resident crazy guy who was talking to himself. After five minutes I realized he was talking on his Bluetooth. After another five minutes I realized, that Bluetooth or not, he was still crazy. After another five minutes, I noticed that although he was talking on his Bluetooth there may not have been anyone on the other end.

Once I finished reading the paper I went on to Future Shop where I was labelled a shoplifter as soon as I walked in. Instead of asking if I needed assistance one clerk gave me dirty looks and followed me around the store. I am sure he thought he was being discrete. Maybe I should dress nicer when I take my car into the garage for service. Maybe the guy at the store should be polite, he would probably make more sales. I walked out without buying anything.

I walked up to the Tommy Hilfiger store. For a store that is under 200 square feet, I was surprised that there were over 25 people in line. I would venture a guess that there were a lot of gift cards exchanged over Christmas. Since when does the Tommy line of clothing consist of nothing but stripes and plaids? I just want a button shirt with a collar, no stripes, no plaid, just a solid colour. No buttons on the collar. No stripes, I do not want to look like a popcorn salesman. Listen, style is a personal thing, to each his own. I have not worn plaid since my '90s grunge days and I haven't worn stripes since my mom stopped shopping for me.

Next was Bureau en Gros (Staples outside Quebec). I have never seen such a mixed message from any one store. Ten people behind the print-shop counter to answer your needs before you even know you have them. Every single cash register was staffed. Pay quick and get out. Yet there was only one clerk for the entire floor. But, good news, I finally found the computer desk for which I have been looking. I will have to come back later to pick it up in my car. $100 off. Not bad. I have been using the same desk for 25 years and it is time for a change. The vinyl covered pressed wood is starting to show its age. Time for a new vinyl covered pressed wood desk.

Lunch time. Ahh... McDonald's. When did a trio at McD's start costing $7.50? I went as healthy as I could. Or as healthy as I wanted. I bought a Big Mac Trio, and had a salad instead of french fries and ordered a diet coke to go along. I try to replace fries wherever I go. At Burger King you have the option of a baked potato, at some places it's rice.
Gone are the days where I would eat half a pound to a pound of red meat in one sitting. Even when I was boxing and trying to eat properly, I may not have been eating all that healthy. Today, it is all about cutting out fried foods, reducing red meat intake, eating as many servings of vegetables and fruit that you can handle, eating fish a few times a week, limiting servings of dairy and making sure it is low fat. I also switched to Cheerios in the morning.

But where was I? Right, after lunch it was a walk across the parking lot to Reno Depot (also known as Rona, or replace this with your local mega hardware store). Reno Depot is the type of place I can walk in, not needing anything, and walk out with $40 to $50 in purchases. Today was no different. I found a nice mass-produced painting for $9.99 that will go well with the paint on my walls, and the other massed-produced paintings I own. I am also building a bar. I started it in July. I also stopped in July. Today I bought more parts that I will need to complete the bar. Luckily, the fact that my bar has not yet been completed has not hindered my ability to drink.

Next was a walk back to the garage. They were supposed to call me on my cell to let me know what was happening. When I arrived the friendly clerk said, "What good timing, I was just about to call you."
Get this, they didn't start working on my car because the engine wouldn't start. I reminded him that I brought the car in because the engine would not start. He wanted to charge me an extra $40 to get three guys to push the car inside. After staring at him dumbfounded for twenty-three minutes, I suggested that I start the car and drive it inside. I managed to start it on the second try, drove the car inside, put it on the lift and asked the clerk if he would like me to fix it as well. Any paper work you would like me to do while I am here? Perhaps I can tidy up while I am at it. Wash the toilets for you?

Now I needed to kill two more hours. Luckily my friend Stinky Al was in the neighborhood. He needed winter boots so I got to watch while he tried on winter boots. Guys don't enjoy watching other people shop for boots. Or anything. We then headed off to Costco where I watched him buy more stuff. I really didn't need anything at Costco since I was there a week ago. I could have purchased another case of pasta, a vat of cream cheese, a bathtub of mayonnaise or an acre of tuna, but I figured I had enough in my larder.

Finally, with another 20 minutes to kill, we stopped to eat and then back to the garage. Apparently, the clerk was "just about to call" me when I arrived, to tell me the car was ready. $28.17 to fix the car. Not bad. $24.05 went towards labour, the rest was tax. I was told they just needed to adjust the clutch switch. Really?

After paying I attempted to start the car and the car wouldn't start. The clutch is working, it's just that the engine won't turn. New problem. I have never had a problem with the engine. After a bunch of excuses, engine is flooded, air in the valve... I finally get out, start the car, drive, get home, and remember I never picked up my desk.

I guess I will get it tomorrow on the way home from work. If my car starts.


Pegg & Frost Duo Make a Trio of Films

The boys from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are set to release their third collaborative film. Paul directed by Greg Mottola, stars Pegg and Frost as two sci-fi geeks who meet up with an alien while driving across the U.S.A. Seth Rogen stars as the voice of the alien, Paul.

Paul is scheduled for a February 2011 release in the U.K. and a March release in North America. It has been rated R for language and some drug use. Paul has a strong supporting cast including Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor and Gilbert Gottfried.
Paul Movie Poster


Things to do On Christmas Day When You Don't Celebrate Christmas

There are many people out there who do not celebrate Christmas. Many people do not consider that Christmas is not an American or Canadian holiday but a religious holiday. What do you do on Christmas Day when you do not partake in the festivities? My first thought? Nothing. Even the places that are usually open 24 hours are closed. But there in fact plenty of things to do on Christmas Day. Here lies a list of things to do on Christmas when you do not celebrate Christmas.

2) Volunteer. (I only thought of this one after I completed my list, and had to renumber everything. I needed one serious item. This is important. There are many community service organizations, outreach groups, soup kitchens and hospitals that need volunteers every day.)
3) Visit friends who celebrate Christmas.
4) Visit friends who do not celebrate Christmas.
5) Visit friends who celebrate Christmas because they probably have better food and are likely stocked up with alcohol and may have an extra gift for you.
6) Sulk.
7) Go to Chinatown. The restaurants are open today.
8) Go to a halal restaurant.
9) Why are kosher restaurants closed on Christmas? (I am not referring to this year. It is Saturday today after all)
10) Sulk some more.
11) There is at least one restaurant in Montreal that stays open 24 hours a day and never closes, Christmas, New Year's or otherwise. So, if you can stomach Chenoy's, your typical Canadian style eatery/ deli, you've got it made. But I warn you, never, ever order a milkshake at Chenoy's. Trust me on this one.
12) Go see a movie. The theaters open in the evening.
13) Leave the country. This isn't a last minute type of idea. You should have thought of this in advance.
14) Leave the country and do the 11 other things that proceed it on the list. Or sit on a beach, etc.
15) Go skiing or tobogganing.

In my previous life working for the radio station, I would volunteer to work on Christmas Day. First of all, I would get paid time-and-a-half. Second, I had no where else to go. Third, my boss would really appreciate my seemingly altruistic behavior, as, I usually threw in that my colleagues would probably want to spend time with their families whereas I did not need to, etc. Fourth, I knew that just for working on the 25th, they would automatically give New Year's Day off. Imagine starting your shift at midnight on New Year's Day. Or at 6AM. So I always had New Year's Day off.
A friend of mine would throw a party every year on Christmas Eve. He called it the Orphan and Jews Party. As he had moved to Montreal to attend university and never left, he had no family within a six hour radius. He recognized that many of his friends under similar circumstances did not have anyone with whom to celebrate. Throw in a few Jewish friends who were stuck reading lists of things to do on Christmas and you have a party. It was usually a potluck dinner with a couple cases of beer. Hmm... I didn't get an invite this year.

So, as today is just like any other Saturday for me, I'm going to drink coffee, read the newspaper, watch True Grit (the original) on TV, go to my parents for lunch, and meet up with some friends tonight just as the world starts turning back to normal.
Or go to a Matzo Ball Party


Tron : Legacy Review

Tron Legacy
Tron: Legacy is a stunningly beautiful, eye-catching and technically spectacular film. This sequel's release comes twenty eight years after the influential and under watched original, Tron. In 1983 Tron was a groundbreaking and inspirational film at a time where the concept of a home computer was freshly new and mostly part of the science fiction world. 28 years later, where we have moved beyond personal computers to the world of iPads and pocket PCs, and jaded and cynical reviewers (see Big Fat Ostrich and the Tron: Legacy Review). But we at StubbornFool.com forgive reviewers like Mike O.

28 years ago the idea of launching ourselves into a mainframe was as far fetched and imaginative as visiting Middle-Earth to battle orcs. With the incredible advancement of technology both in our computers and digital film, the what-else-have-you-got attitude is almost expected. The idea of entering our processors is imaginable, and ends up being the trap in which Tron: Legacy gets caught. If The Matrix (the first movie only) never existed, perhaps the cynics could be satisfied. Any sequel must compete with itself. When an original film is put on such a pedestal, and maintains a cult following for 28 years, can it's sequel succeed?

A 43.6 million dollar opening weekend usually speaks of success. Disney led up to this weekend's release with an immense marketing campaign. The immediate comparisons have been made with both Avatar and Star Trek, holiday releases of the last couple years. Tron: Legacy's 3D effects are one generation advanced of those of Avatar. Both Avatar and Star Trek opened to $75+ million weekends.  Legacy faced an uphill battle to match these numbers. Star Trek was in the public eye almost continuously  for over forty years.
The Tron story itself is compelling. Thematically it speaks of the creator versus the devil, the father and the son, or simply and more to my liking, the parent realizing that all that he was ever searching for he found long ago, it took him 28 years to realize.
Truth sometimes passes from reel to real, why build on the greatness of the original? Cynics and the jaded aside, Tron: Legacy tells a compelling action story, with stunning special effects, and beautiful actors. while predictable in the general sense Tron: Legacy's success is that it stands apart of so many action films today, with multiple climactic scenes and thrilling action.


Heineken : Walk-in Fridge Campaign

I love the new Heineken commercial. Well, it is new in Canada, from the number of viewers on Youtube and the date of it's release it is not so new after all. The commercial, referred to as the Heineken walk-in fridge ad has spawned a couple sequels. I laugh every time I see it.

And here is one of the terrific sequels

Here is a terrific spoof of the Heineken walk in fridge, I wish it were real.

Here is Bavaria's campaign, also a spoof

After the original video went viral Heineken added a new twist by leaving these supposed walk-in fridge  boxes on the streets of Amsterdam on garbage day, perhaps adding to the hype, perhaps fooling people into believing that the fridges were a hot new sales item.
Heineken walk-in fridge
Heineken walk-in fridge


Dinner Time Dilemma, Peanut Butter and Pliers

If you are allergic to peanut butter you cannot borrow my pliers. It was supper time again. Funny how that keeps coming up. Everyday too. I had a healthy lunch of rainbow trout with a side of salad so I wasn't interested in eating anything too healthy tonight. What am I to make for supper? I have to plan ahead. My lunch for Thursday is already packed, chicken with couscous and a side of vegetables. I needed something that would not take too much time to prepare since the hockey game was about to start. I couldn't go too unhealthy because the day before for lunch I caught up with Mike at the fish and chips restaurant for the greasiest deep fried fish. Tons of grease. The fries were dripping. I think they accidentally deep fried the basket they were in.
Finally I got it! Peanut butter and jelly. Well, peanut butter and jam. Peanut butter and apricot jam on freshly made, sliced chunks of whole grain bread. Or peanut butter and apricot jam on freshly purchased slices of toasted chunks of whole grain bread.
I lost myself somewhere in the last paragraph.
My mouth was watering while I was making the sandwich. I dug out a dollop of peanut butter, piled it on the bread. I grabbed a handful of jam and spread on in an inch thick layer.  I couldn't wait to start eating! In anticipation of heading to the dining room to sit down with my sandwich, I threw the knife into the sink. The knife landed with a clunk, but then there was a bounce, and then the rattle, and down the drain it went.
Not again.
At least this time I caught it before I turned on the garbarator. I started to reach my hand in and stopped suddenly. Wait a second, these garbarators are sharp, they garbarate things. I better get some tools. I run into the garage, spreading peanut butter and apricot jam on the wall and light switch. I popped open my tool box and grabbed the pliers. Quick enough I extracted the knife from the drain, carefully placed the knife and pliers on the counter and proceeded on to my original target, my sandwich. The sandwich was great. My pliers were covered in peanut butter, so if you are allergic, you can't borrow my pliers.
Wilkin & Sons, Best jam ever.


An Alphabet from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: A is for Ackbar

I suppose the subtitle could be Episode IV : A New Alphabet. Brandon Peat came up with the most amazing sketches and designs to decorate his child's bedroom. Running through the entire alphabet, he created a set of kid-friendly of Star Wars character prints. Here are a couple examples of this great art work. Look for the link to his store below.

Check out the store.


Thor - Holy Crap! Another Film from the Marvel Stable

Coming to a theater near you in March 2011, from Marvel Comics comes Thor, the tale of the warrior god cast out from Asgard to serve time on Earth. It stars Nathalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Hemsworth, you will be interested to know, stars in the (hopefully) soon to be released Red Dawn remake.


Hardest Hockey Slapshot. Ever.

A hockey goaltender stands on his head blocking every shot coming his way. And then comes the hardest slapshot ever. Let's see Zdeno Chara try this.


Office Girls Gone Wild

Another office Holiday party is in the books. That makes it two down and two to go. First there was the department managers' party, then last night was the company party, next is the department party and then there is the company wide managers' party. That is a lot of food and alcohol and a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere. Three of the four parties are paid for by the company. I am hoping they will be as generous with the end of year pay raises.
no, not me
The plan last night was to show my face, have a drink, say hi to everyone and head on my way. I figured two hours would be sufficient. I really was not expecting much in the way of fun, I also have a personal rule against partying with coworkers. I have witnessed it time and time again, the abuse of boundaries at work parties. I have always been of the belief that a certain restraint must be shown amongst coworkers and the people you have to face on the Monday morning after. We work so hard at building up our careers why throw out this hard earned image in one night?
Friends are friends and colleagues are colleagues. That being said, the two hours somehow rolled into six hours. I type this slightly slow and slightly tired today. Sunday is a good day to do nothing. I did not abuse the boundaries, just my liver.

*** I think this is worth an update. It's Monday and the emails and stories are spreading throughout the office. Remember the days we would pose for pictures because we only had 24 exposures in the roll? Digital camera allow us to snap hundreds of shots without worry of waste. I recall seeing at least three digital cameras at the party and others snapping pics on their phones. You're on candid camera. I received no less than 180 photos in my email this morning. Some are the usual posing for photos, some are of people dancing or hugging, others are of the 'what's he going to tell his wife' or 'is that so-and-so lying on the floor' variety.

So far I've only seen two pictures where I am the victim subject and in both I am posing with some colleagues in some sort of huddle. I think I am off the hook.


Up Up and Away! Dave Van Horne

Dave Van Horne
Long time baseball announcer Dave Van Horne has won the Baseball Hall of Fame's Frick award for excellence in broadcasting. The Ford C. Frick Award is presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for major contributions to baseball. Van Horne will be inducted in Cooperstown, N.Y. in July 2011.

Van Horne originally from Easton, Pennsylvania, spent 32 years calling the game for the Montreal Expos, and the last ten in the Florida Marlins' booth. Known for his smooth, and easy going style, Van Hone is a unique voice in major league baseball.

Not only have the plays on the field made the highlight reels, Van Horne's calls have made radio listeners and TV viewers jump out of their seats with his "up, up and away..." call for every home run. His coverage of the Dennis Martinez' 1991 perfect game is still heard today, "El Presidente... el perfecto!"

I had the pleasure of working with Van Horne in the late nineties while I was producing the Expos games for the local radio broadcast. At the time he was paired with the great former player and a terrific announcer himself, Ken Singleton. Van Horne was always professional and expected perfection from the staff. He may not be terribly concerned if the pre-game show was scrapped due to technical glitches or errors, but the first pitch had to get to air. I remember a colleague of mine being lectured by Van Horne on the importance of the broadcast and being alert and aware of his cues.

For years, he was the only English voice of baseball in Canada, from the inception of the Expos until the Toronto Blue Jays came along. Even after, and until he left Montreal to join the Marlins in 2001, his was the only voice many Canadians had ever hear call a game of baseball. Congratulations Dave, here's to 42 more years!
I wanted to post a video or some audio but I do not have the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball.


Snow Begone!

It's December 6th and I have had enough of winter. Today was the first major snowfall and I have had enough of winter. One hour and forty five minutes of sitting in traffic and I am fed up with winter. The snow started falling early this afternoon. The wind kicked up soon after. I had a meeting across the street from my office. The wind was pushing the snow so that it was coming down sideways, and fast. It hurt to cross the street. Hell, I've been living here in Montreal all my life and I still can't get used to it. Or don't want to. What is the weather forecast for tomorrow?

I left work a little later with the plan of avoiding the afternoon rush. It kind of worked. I think a lot of people went home early in attempt to beat the mess. A ride that usually takes no more than forty minutes took me and hour and forty five minutes. And I had to urinate. Well, I didn't have to. I wanted to.

The roads were snow covered, the wind was blowing and my speed topped out at all of twenty kilometers per hour. Most of the ride home was about focusing on the car lights in front of me, playing follow the leader. The snow had yet to be cleared and there was no way to know where the lanes started and ended.

Time to listen to the radio. Christmas music on 92.5, flip. Delilah introducing Christmas music on 92.9, change quickly. Crappy pop tune on 95.9. Flip. Nickleback on 97.7, change. Okay, settle in on 99.9 The Buzz, until the commercials come on. Flip. Damn missed the news. Flip. The Team 990, crap it's soccer night. Change. So there wasn't much on.

Made a couple phone calls. What's there to talk about? It's snowing and I have to pee . Sorry, I don't have to pee. I want to pee. Then, I finally arrive home, pull into the driveway and my garage door opener doesn't work. I back up, pull into the driveway and park in the one spot with two surrounding walls. Either the semi enclosure will protect my car from snow accumulation, or my car will be buried beneath a six foot snow drift. Something to look forward to tomorrow. The repairman is on his way, we have a service contract for the garage door opener so he has to come and he can't charge a premium for driving in this weather.
I'm not dreaming of a white Christmas. I am dreaming of a warm Chanukkah in Miami.
View from my balcony. That's my car, on the left next to the wall. No, the blue one with the snow on it.


Come on let's go Garbage Truckin'

We're garbage truckin' round the stars  Come on let's go Garbage Truckin'. I was driving to work the other and I noticed a garbage truck pulled over on the side of the road. The driver had set up emergency flares and there was another garbage truck parked just in front. I can assume that one truck broke down but why the second truck? Did the driver call the other for backup? What were they doing now? Were they transferring the load?

A taxi driver or bus driver will call for backup if their vehicle breaks down. The passengers will quickly be off and on their way. A tow truck would be called to take the bus away.
I do not recall ever seeing a garbage truck being hauled away by a tow truck. 

What do you do with a broken down garbage truck? It is a garbage truck. I couldn't stay to watch but I am wondering if the garbage men just heaved the broken truck into the back of the second vehicle with all the other garbage.
That is why I am thinking they just get thrown out.