Monthly Archives: October 2002

Bad Theatre Review


Theatre critics can be a harsh lot.  They have to watch plays that confound audiences with their literary allusions, societal commentary and artistic pretentions.  Having sat through the occasional example of ‘high art’ theatre, I can only sympathize. 

The play “Nord-Ost” playing at the Stolichnaya Playhouse is an example of the post-modernist theatrical ethic.  Set in modern Moscow, after the collapse of the Workers Socialist Party, it examines the didactic of the haves and have not’s of a neo-classic Soviet-era bourgeoisie group confronting their own mortality and reflecting on their past lives.

Written by the Chechnyan Liberation Army, featuring more than 700 cast members, the play opened to much applause from the crowd.  As the story unfolded, Aristotle, symbolizing the plight of the workers, insisted on keeping the middle-class values of the Smegvorsk neighbourhood in which he grew up, by insisting that all the members of the audience stay in their seats, under penalty of death.

In a stunning use of immersive, interactive theatre, the hostage taking scene, spread over three days included an innovative use of props, tear gas and live rounds forced the audience to question their upbringing by forcing them to use the orchestra pit as a latrine, going without water and food and generally feeling the oppression of the working socialist in a post modern era.

The climactic scene, the storming of the theatre by Russian Security Forces had all the elements of high camp, innately parodying yet embracing the conventions of the seminal ’39 Blows’ and the Palace steps scene from ‘Potemkin’ with its anti-cinematic use of frequent bullets and the liberal use of stage blood as the RSF actors, portraying yet ironically parodying armed thugs of liberation/death imagery, stormed the theatre.

An entertaining evenings’ amusement.  Tickets are $20 through to $50.  No matinees. 

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Electricity


I like the flow of electrons. It likes me. We get along wonderfully. I turn on a light and the electricity gnomes do their thing, causing visible light so I won’t stub my toe on the fridge.

I don’t however, like working on electrical stuff. I do it because I can and the Scottish in me won’t allow me to pay someone $75 an hour to do work that I can do. The reason I don’t like electricity goes back to, like most fears, my parents. One day my Dad asked me to work on the dryer at home with him. He assured me that he had pulled the fuse to the dryer, so I violated the first rule of Electrical Safety: Trust No One, Including Yourself.

When I grabbed the leads to disconnect the dryer, I saw a fascinating array of stars, glowing planets, little tweeting birds and flying musical notes. I was also upside down, splayed on my head, on the other side of the basement, about 20 feet away from the dryer. I also learned an interesting fact about my Dad: He can’t be trusted to tell the difference between a stove fuse and a dryer fuse.

For those of you who are not electrically minded let me simplify: With the power OFF, working on electrical wiring is as safe as you can be playing with stiff copper wire and hand tools. Don’t stick wire under your fingernails. Don’t poke yourself in the eye with the pliers and try not to drill a hole in your hand. The usual run-with-scissors kinds of safety stuff.

With the power ON, however, they be enough juice in dere to kill yer ass dead five times over. Touch the wrong thing and you get to see God, up-close and personal as He asks pointed questions regarding taking names in vain and some stuff regarding adultery. So, it was with some trepidation that I cracked open the breaker panel at Chateau 59 to hook up some stuff

The power is now resolved in the basement. All the computers run on separate outlets, protected from bad electric gnomes, rogue electrons and to quote Donald Sutherland, “negative vibes, man”. It was done without incident, safely, slowly and properly. I now don’t have to worry about it for a while until I set up that aluminum smelter or arc welder in the basement.

Pullin’ Wire


Make up your own joke, but I’ve spent the last few days pulling my wire.  No, not that.  Pulling network wire and phone wire.  The lower level office is only partially wired and because we are both computer geeks, we need access to the World Wide Wait.

So do the roommates, Lindsay and Joscelin, as part of the their studies in Journalism and Economics respectively.  Q.E.D., ‘net access is mission critical

I feel like I’ve spent eleven days in the ceiling, covered in plaster dust, fiberglass and the effluvia of construction.  Each night I crawl to bed, bent like a pretzel made by monks with no sense of depth or proportion.  The end is not in sight yet, but there are eight net drops in place and three phone lines all running as advertised. 

Mind  you, I do have bits of cat 5e cable under my finger nails and am now getting network signals in my left hand.  Tomorrow, David vs. Electricity!

Cheese


Take cow’s milk, mix it with rennet, heat it, stir it, let it drain, press it into blocks and you have cheese.  You can do this with goat, sheep, kangaroo, or even possibly, human, milk.  Color it, if you would like, orange is common for cheddar, but the natural milk color is fine too.  Cheese has been made for thousands of years in more or less the same way and for those who are not lactose intolerant, it is a wonderful food.

Until you get to America.  The Dairyland, Wisconsin, knows how to make cheese, as they should.  In the rest of the States, however, cheese is another matter.  It is a commercial product, like Titanium Dioxide, or Borax.  Intense engineering efforts have gone into extracting the most products from the most humble of products, milk.

After ‘cheese’ is made, you are left with whey.  Just like Little Miss Muffet, eating her curds (cheese) and whey (mostly water) they have to do something with the whey because they can.  The first step is to make whey powder, by drying the liquid.  In days of olde, farmers would feed the whey to the pigs, but not Food Science folks.  That’s not ‘viable’ or ‘fitting the economic vector’. 

One day a bunch of Food Scientists were sitting around with a beaker of whey, staring at it and drinking heavily.  Not whey either.  They invented American Cheese.  A slab about the size of a thin bathroom tile, based on whey, whey powder, colorings, wax, milk by-products, things found in the glove compartment of a ’72 Maverick Grabber and the stuff at the bottom of a woman’s purse.  They knew it was high in vitamins, because they would spray them on at the factory along with the flavourings and color.  Sort of like spray paint, except not by Tremclad.

Another benefit was also found.  American Cheese has a half-life, like Radium or Lawrencium in the Period Table of Elements.  Each slice individually wrapped would last at least five years and protect the product from harm, or taste.  In testing, American Cheese performed as well as or better than lead shielding in nuclear plants in absorbing gamma radiation.  It also patches asphalt roofs, fiberglass boats and, in a pinch could be used to treat battlefield burn casualties as an analog for skin grafts during rehab.  Some doctors have even used American Cheese to replace arterial walls in neuroaneurysm patients.  The only drawback to the product was its taste and the leftovers from the cheese food manufacturing process that were too dreadful to even use as sliced American Cheese.  What to do?

Scientists worked long hours trying to find the answer, always coming close but not quite close enough to score the big one.  One night after clogging his gut testing flavourings, A Noted Scientist had the Eureka Moment: Make it Bacon Flavoured and put it in an aerosol can.  Spray Cheese in a Can.  What flavour do you want?  Bacon, Shrimp, Celery, Peppers, didn’t matter, as the propellant carried the flavour molecules along with the cheese.  As long as it was a strong enough flavour, the cheese would be palatable to the customer.

After receiving the accolades of his peers, A Noted Scientist, watched though a one-way mirror as focus groups tested the product.  It was a hit with consumers:  Salty beyond redemption, bacon-y, cheese colored and with little holes in the aerosol nozzle, you could decorate a Ritz with fanciful floweresqe shapes.  A Food Science Home Run!

With one exception.  It isn’t cheese. Or Cheese Food.  Or even Cheese-related product.  It is Universal Manufacturing Goo:  The stuff you see in railroad tank cars at the freight yards with the dangerous looking placards on the tank.  UMG can be anything you want: Exert enough pressure at high enough temperature and it can be a fender for a Corvette.  Or Cool Whip or the Banana filling in doughnuts.  Even in the ink cartridges of your printer, UMG again.  Want to mass produce prosthetic limbs?  Get a tanker of Universal Manufacturing Goo, some dies and an injector and you can be turning out African-American Left Leg Prosthetics (Our motto:  It ain’t Right and it ain’t Fair) and you’re in business.

The reason for this note is thus:  I’m enjoying a nice hunk of St. Albert’s Cheddar with some Apple pie.  A real cheese and some nice pie.  Try it sometime.

Home is where the ummm, errrr…


Home is a wonderful concept.  To me, it seems, home is where my toothbrush is located.  Currently, its a Chateau 59.  I don’t recognize the place though.  The basement construction changed so much.  So did the acquisition of two roommates, Joscelin and Lindsay. 

Where my office was is now a bedroom of a twenty-something.  The guest bedroom, which was the shipping department for Marylou’s concern, is now also a bedroom for another twenty-something.  I am surrounded by oestrogen and empty glasses. 

The computers were finally hooked up again, the house network at least workable to get my new workstation online and get near my mail.  Aeroplan is offering me my own private jet now, as I spend too much time in United’s aircraft.  American Airlines could be doing the same for me later this month.  Avis has just sent a letter saying thanks for keeping them in business and a offer of intimacies from any board member I choose.  Unfortunately none of the board members are Sigourney Weaver, so that is off the table.

Zen History is now in its first year.  Several hotels have my initials and the year inside a drawer.  My waistband is a bit tighter, due to the sauce on all the barbecue I’ve been eating.  I blame the sauce, as barbecue, inherently, does not have calories.  It’s the sauce dammit!

I found the bedroom, finally.  Speedvision is on Cable 59, as it should be, not far from CNN on 33.  Rather than no Speedvision and only CNN Headline news and then only if the hotel was not in the throes of ‘economizing’ and ‘rationalizing’ their hospitality offers. 

The Customs agents in Ottawa are their usual surly lot.  I got searched, extensively, as I had been away for too long and too near the Mexican border.  No body cavity search this time, however. 

Dog and Cat (Ralph and Joey) both remembered who I was and treated me with disdain (Joey) and tears of joy (Ralph).  The lawn needs destroying.  The weeds need carpet bombing and there are more than eight thousand little post-construction tasks that need doing. 

The toothbrush is in the bathroom and all is right with the world.

Cities-Atlanta Convention Crowds


The hotel in Atlanta is a Westin and a really nice set of digs for a few days.  Unfortunately, they also host conferences from the outside world.  Mary Kay Cosmetics is holding a two-day dog and pony show here.  To get to the office across the courtyard, I have to walk by the Conference of Cosmetology. 

How much makeup can be worn by 200 or so ladies?  Figure about a pound per person.  I have seen too many double and quadruple chins delicately caressed with Mary Kay’s Ugly Bitch Blush.  Too many eyes lined repeatedly with Hosebag Mascara.  Lipstick?  Pick the colour, including those colours not in the visible light spectrum.  All done with a fine line of Classic Whore about an inch around the approximate area where the lip pigment ends and the rest of the face starts.

Hair Colour?  Start with Slut Platinum and run the colour wheel down to Dominatrix Black, spending plenty of time around Skank Red.  Eye colour?  There was one eyelid colour that I swear was pool cue chalk blue.  Probably marketed as Eight-Ball Blue.  And not just one colour on the eyelid.  It seems that five or more are THE fashion statement on each eyelid, including some with sparkles and stick-on stars and real ‘gems’ at the corner of the eye.  Imagine extraordinarily ugly women, coated in hot glue and dragged face first through a paint booth then a craft shop and you’re close.

Clothing?  It seems that “slutty” and “whorish” are the fashion watchwords this fall.  The only thing missing was really, really tacky lingerie on these tarts.  Push up bras?  The only place to see more tits pushed skyward is to go to a mammography clinic and tip the machine over on its side.  Judging by the age of some of these old Madams, I suspect they rolled the sweater puffs up first, then jammed them into the bra to be tugged even further skyward.  Oh, stiletto heeled fuck-me pumps at 0800 in the morning are mandatory. 

If it wasn’t for the enveloping clouds of really cheap perfume, I would have thought that I had walked into a convention of retired World War camp whores from the Italian and French Campaigns (“These are the women who serviced your grandpa in WWII…”)

Do I have a fond spot for Mary Kay?  Well, you tell me.