June 2011


Former Blue Jay and Current Phillie Roy “Doc” Halladay

Snake from Degrassi

Boom! It’s Canadiana Tuesday. All of this is a roundabout way of saying that Roy Halladay’s brother Glen is gay. I think.

My name is Jonas, I’m carrying the wheel expectations, hopes and dreams of the entire Toronto Raptors team and fanbase on my very slim and pasty shoulders.

Let’s all sing along, shall we?

I really want to be excited about this pick, but when Jonas himself said during the ESPN interview “I am not very strong,” I winced. When Kemba Walker wins Rookie of the Year while our pick languishes in Vilnius, I am going to be significantly less excited.

Last night my wife and I were talking about the school trips we went on as little kids. I mentioned the Toronto Zoo, the CN Tower, the Planetarium — all the usual suspects for a kid growing up in the Toronto region. My wife, on the other hand, grew up in semi-rural Ontario. She has distinct memories of two trips she made in elementary school: the pencil factory, and the potato farm.

This is quite possibly the saddest thing I have ever heard.

She said the pencil factory was terrible. It took over an hour to get there and the tour was only a few minutes long. It was, after all, a pencil factory.

On the plus side, it’s kind of neat that my wife actually lived the equivalent of a Simpsons episode.

Guide: Many interesting and important things have been put into boxes over the years: textiles, other boxes, even children’s candy.
Milhouse: Do any of these boxes have candy in them?
Guide: No.
Milhouse: Will they ever?
Guide: No, we only make boxes to ship nails. Any other questions?
Martin: When will we be able to see a finished box, Sir?
Guide: Well, we don’t assemble them here — that’s done in Flint, Michigan.
Bart: Have any of the workers ever had their hands cut off by the machinery?
Guide: No –
Bart: And then the hand started crawling around and tried to strangle everybody?
Guide: No, that has never happened.
Bart: Any popped eyeballs?
Guide: I’m not sure what kind of factory you’re thinking of; we just make boxes here.

My wife recalls liking the potato farm. She probably acquired a nascent form of skin cancer due to pesticide exposure, but she had a good time outdoors. I mean, sure the CN Tower is tall, but do they give you potato soup after you come down in the elevator? Advantage: potato farm.

A propos of nothing, remember Take Your Kids To Work Day? I am wondering if you can recall it going any worse than this.

I shaved my face while getting ready for work this morning (as opposed to shaving my chest, which I do for Twitter photos). I happened to be naked and a huge glob of shaving cream dropped onto my junk. All I could think of was, “Wow. This is my Varsity Blues moment.”

My pasty, flabby and likely homoerotic Varsity Blues moment.

Van Der Beek, don’t go anywhere. I’ll be down in a minute.

I am among the last one hundred people in North America that still buy CDs, so every Tuesday morning I go into my local HMV to check out the new releases. It’s getting kind of sad now. HMV used to have a massive CD section. Now it’s a basically a corner of the store next to the cleaning supplies, and they barely even bother to alphabetize their stock. Every time I actually buy something, I am stared at with bemused curiosity by the staff. “You know there is something called iTunes, don’t you?”, I can see them thinking. Yes, I fucking know. But if I am going to pay the same amount on iTunes, I might as well get an actual, tangible object so I can still have my music collection when my computer inevitably melts down. Also, CDs will be valuable like currency in the coming zombie apocalypse. CDs and anal virginity. And any sort of anti-zombie spray you may have developed. Mark my words.

Anyway, walking into HMV, I was immediately struck by a DVD box set I saw on the end of one of the shelves.

Jesus, that’s pretty blunt. I know HMV isn’t doing well, but I didn’t think it was stocking those.

I moved closer.

Oh, CLINT. Never mind.

Y’know…maybe he’s not so hard to relate to after all.

Not sure how that theatre stays in business, though. That movie came out three years ago.

Madeline: Thanks for helping me drop those clothes off at Goodwill, Tim. I would never have been able to carry them myself.

Tim: Hey, that’s what sons-in-law are for.

Madeline: Oh, you’re such a good boy. We should pick up lunch to bring back to the house, you two must be hungry.

Tim: I could eat. Subway?

Madeline: Oh, I don’t know these new shops. Whatever you and Kate like.

(Pull into Subway; enter store)

Sandwich Artist: Can I take your order?

Tim: Hi, can we get…

Madeline: Now, now, let me get this.

Tim: Okay, thanks mom. But should I order at least?

Madeline: Please. You’ve done enough today already.

Tim: You sure? I come here all the time.

Madeline: (shooing Tim away) Sit, sit, I’ve got this.

Tim: (puts up hands in mock surrender) Alright, you win. (sits down at table, starts flipping through paper)

Sandwich Artist: What would you like, ma’am?

Madeline: Hmm. What do people usually get here? Sandwiches?

Tim: (arches eyebrow)

Sandwich Artist: Yes ma’am.

Madeline: Okay. And do they come in different sizes?

Sandwich Artist: You can get a six inch sub or a twelve inch sub.

(A large truck driver enters store and gets in line)

Madeline: Tim? Do you want a six inch sandwich or a twelve inch sandwich?

Tim: Twelve, please.

Madeline: And Kate?

Tim: She’ll probably only want a six.

Madeline: Okay, I’ll have one twelve inch sandwich, one six inch sandwich, and…I guess I should get a six inch sandwich, too.

Sandwich Artist: Okay. What kind of bread?

Madeline: What kinds do you have?

Tim: Oh Jesus.

Sandwich Artist: We’ve got them listed right there in front of you.

Madeline: (stares intently at bread display) Hmm.

(A teenage couple enters store and gets in line)

Madeline: Tim, what kind of bread do you want?

Tim: Wheat, please. Same for Kate.

Madeline: (smiles at Sandwich Artist) Three wheats, dear.

Sandwich Artist: You got it. Do you want those toasted?

Madeline: Toasted? You can do that?

Sandwich Artist: We certainly can.

Madeline: Tim, do you…

Tim: No! Kate neither!

Madeline: I think we’ll…

Sandwich Artist: (smiling patiently) I heard him. Now, what kind of subs would you like?

Madeline: There’s more than one?

Truck driver: (looks at watch)

Tim: (hops up from seat) Listen, mom, why don’t you let me order? You can still pay…

Madeline: No, no, I insist. Besides, I’m enjoying this. I’m learning.

Tim: Okay, just get Kate and I BLTs with mayo then.

Madeline: (to Sandwich Artist) Do you have those?

Sandwich Artist: We do. And what can I get for you?

Madeline: (smiles blankly)

Sandwich Artist: Our menu is right up here.

Madeline: Oh my. So many choices. What would you recommend?

(A dad walks in with four kids dressed in soccer uniforms; they get in line)

Sandwich Artist: How about a meatball sub?

Madeline: Oh, heavens no. All that salt? What do you have that doesn’t have much salt in it?

Sandwich Artist: Not much. Veggie, probably.

Madeline: I’ll have one of those.

Truck driver: (begins tapping feet impatiently)

Sandwich Artist: Which vegetables?

Tim: (under breath) Just say ‘all’, just say ‘all’…

Madeline: (points at counter) These are them here?

Sandwich Artist: Yes ma’am.

Madeline: Oh jeez, here we go. Lettuce?

Sandwich Artist: Okay.

Madeline: Tomatoes?

Sandwich Artist: Mm-hmm.

Madeline: Carrots?

Sandwich Artist: Nope.

Madeline: Onions then?

Sandwich Artist: You got it.

Madeline: Few more onions, please.

Sandwich Artist: (adds more)

Madeline: Just a touch more.

Sandwich Artist: (adds a touch more)

Madeline: Perfect.

Sandwich Artist: Anything else for you?

Truck driver: You got anyone else working back there, bud?

Madeline: (turns to truck driver sweetly) Oh, I’m sorry dear. Would you like to go first?

Truck driver: (suddenly sheepish) N-no, ma’am. You go ahead.

Madeline: Are you sure? I’m in no hurry.

Truck driver: (gestures to counter) That’s alright. I insist.

Sandwich Artist: Anything else?

Madeline: Let’s see. Green peppers. Olives. And…a few pickles.

Sandwich Artist: That it?

Madeline: I guess so.

Sandwich Artist: Any dressi…

Tim: SHE’LL HAVE ITALIAN!

Sandwich Artist: Okay.

Madeline: (proudly, to Tim) That wasn’t so hard. (to Sandwich Artist) How much do I owe you, dear?

Sandwich Artist: That’ll be…$16.58.

Madeline: (holding five dollar bill in hand) What’s that now?

Sandwich Artist: $16.58?

Madeline: You have got to be shitting me.

Sandwich Artist: (taken aback) M-ma’am?

Madeline: Twenty bucks? For three submarine sandwiches? Is that some kind of fucking joke?

Tim: Now, mom, calm down…

Sandwich Artist: I…I don’t set the prices, ma’am.

Madeline: I should bloody well hope not! This is an outrage. Here. (slaps $20 bill on counter angrily) I want my change.

Sandwich Artist: Of course. (hands over change) Here you are. I’m sorry if we’ve upset you.

Madeline: You can shove your sorrys up your ass, hairnet.

Tim: Whadda you say we get out of here, huh? (starts leading Madeline out of store)

Madeline: (passing by soccer dad) Your children are ugly.

(Leave store, walk towards car)

Madeline: Can you believe the nerve of those dicklickers? Charging prices like that?

Tim: That’s actually pretty standard these days, mom.

Madeline: Oh, what do you know? I can make these same things for less than two dollars at home. That place will be out of business in a week.

Tim: (chuckles) Well, they have something like 30,000 franchises, mom, so I doubt that…

Madeline: (glares menacingly at Tim)

Tim: …that they can keep going at prices like that. You’re right, they’re a flash in the pan.

Madeline: (rubbing temples) You drive. I got the DTs something fierce.

Tim: Sure thing. Should we pick up some coffees, too?

Madeline: (stares at Tim in disgust)

Tim: (confused, lowers head)

Madeline: These sandwiches smell like shit.

Remember Kanellos, the Greek protest dog? That rabble-rousing mutt who seemed to be present at every social demonstration that took place in Athens over the past 2+ years? Well, I happened to be in Athens during a recent honeymoon, and had a fantastic little encounter with a canine who looked suspiciously like him. Allow me to share the tale.

We were just coming back from visiting the Acropolis, on our way to the National Gardens, when we found ourselves standing at a crosswalk in front of a busy, six-lane roadway. From somewhere down the street to our right, we heard the angry barking of a dog. We started to turn towards the direction of the sound, but our attention was immediately redirected to a responding bark emanating just a few feet behind us. There was something unusual about this particular bark. It was hoarse. Lived-in. Wise.

It belonged to a large, golden retriever-and-something mix, who had unbeknownst to us been sleeping in the shadow of the building at our backs. The first dog’s barking had roused him from his slumber, which he took, it seemed, as his cue it was time to go to work.

And go to work he did. He immediately trotted up beside the ten or so people standing at the crosswalk. The U.S. and Canadian tourists among us were easy to identify, as we were the ones who frantically started ordering him not to cross. He ignored us, in the same way a hippo ignores the incessant buzzing of the horseflies that travel on his back. In the dog’s mind, we weren’t protecting him from walking into traffic; he was seeing us safely to the other side.

Sure enough, the signal changed to walk, and our shaggy escort flanked us on our left, pacing us the entire fifty feet or so until we were completely across. Needless to say, we were impressed. But our awe quickly turned to panic when Kellanos mystery dog turned and walked right back onto the street, the light now having changed with traffic moving straight towards him. Was this proud beast about to meet the most ignoble of ends, right before our horrified eyes?

Nope. Turns out he just wanted to properly position himself for a leaping, threatening chomp. At a city bus. He missed the thing by maybe a foot as it sped by. Maybe he wanted it to slow down?

We collectively exhaled as The Littlest Homer marched safely back onto the sidewalk and started heading up the street. We were trailing about ten feet behind him when he sprung into action again. This time his target was three South Asian gentlemen in their late twenties, two of whom were having great fun scaling a street-side tree. They were venturing out onto a very large branch that hung over the street about ten feet off the ground, and the dog didn’t like it. “Be careful,” he conveyed, by way of a series of very aggressive barks at the lone member of the party standing on the ground. The guy was (rightfully) terrified as the dog inched towards him, and you could practically see him trying to decide whether he should flee up the tree for safety. If the look on his face was any indication, he decided to shit his pants instead. Message delivered, the dog continued on his way up the sidewalk, but not before quickly darting on the street again to take a harmless chomp at a passing motorcyclist (the motorcyclist calmly kicked at the dog in stride – apparently the two had a history). Eventually, he quit the sidewalk, veering off out of sight into some nearby bushes…

…whereupon he emerged ten seconds later, carrying a man’s wallet in his mouth.

I’m still not sure how he knew the wallet was in there – did he put it there himself, or see it get tossed? Or did he just have some sort of preternatural sense for when there was some wrong in a given area that needed to be righted? Either way, he started dragging the open wallet up the street, the cheap plastic card holders (presumably full of membership cards to various bath houses) flapping in the wind. At one point a guy bent down to try and take it from him. The dog jerked his head away violently, and you got the feeling if his mouth wasn’t full he would have taken a hand off for his troubles. Instead, he dragged that wallet all the way to the entrance of the Gardens where, I kid you not, he dropped it in front of the tourist information booth. A man who had seen the dog coming picked up the wallet and turned it in. Fido was three for three.

All of the above happened in the span of five minutes. The next we saw, an impressed tourist was giving the dog pieces of his granola bar. Ever the gregarious leader, he started barking to signal his pals that he had found a soft touch, and a few of them came a-runnin’. We continued into the Gardens, did our little tour, and exited half an hour later to find the dog sleeping peacefully under a nearby bench, having punched out after a shift honourably worked.

Now look – I know the odds that this amazing dog was Kenallos are unlikely. Impossible even. With so many untagged street dogs roaming the streets of Greece, you’re bound to run into dozens of them who are street-smart and who see their neighbourhoods as turf they must police. But I like to think that, with no austerity protests going on in Athens (that day – they’re back at it again), this was Kenallos. He was just biding his time, doing menial tasks to try and keep his skills sharp, like when Wolfgang Puck goes on a cruise and starts getting creative at the buffet salad bar.

We befriended another couple on our honeymoon who managed to take a picture of the dog, and they’ve offered to send it to us. But I’m not so sure I want to see it. Not because I’m not curious and don’t want to compare. But because I have a feeling that Kenallos would somehow know I needed proof it was him. And he would be disappointed in me. Because I didn’t just believe.

Long may you run, protest dog. Just make sure to look both ways.