Big Ass, small pews

My good buddy Sandra used to tell me how incredible it sounded when she'd go to musical performances. I'm not talking rock and/or roll bands, although they sound nice, too. She'd go to orchestras and choruses (chorii?) and such. She'd rave about them. I figured, meh, Sandra's all smart and stuff, and more cultured than I. She's probably right, but it doesn't sound like my bag.

Well, Amanda told me she'd be going to a thing this past weekend at a church up the street, and I figured ... why the heck not?

Friend-of-a-friend and super-nice guy we met at Laura's wedding, Andrew Killawee, runs a choral ensemble called Eventide. They were set to perform at Saint Patrick's Church on Brunswick Street. I saw Andrew at a party the night before and chatted a bit about it, and again figured ... why the heck not?

Saint Patrick's is beautiful. I'm not into churches all that much, but, jee-zus, they's pretty. This one, especially. Building began in 1883. It's a gorgeous building inside. Outside -- well, it was dark on Sunday night, and I've never really looked at the outside.

The most famous thing inside is the statue of Saint Patrick. His right hand was blown off in the great Halifax Explosion. (Great meaning large or immense, I use it in the pejorative sense.)

The church was scheduled for demolition after being delisted by the Big Catholic Church. It seems they've put that off, pending the raising of $600-thousand by next June. I think they're calling the campaign "Give Saint Patrick's A Hand" -- pun intended.

Anyway, the show.

Andrew's Eventide Choir was phenomenal. The church's high vaulted ceilings carried the 18 voices and let them float gloriously through the hall. Excellent tonality and timing. Even though I didn't know the words to any of the Renaissance-era tunes, I was impressed with the work. Fabulous stuff.

For an intermission, Andrew's roommate, who we'd met at another party at Andrew's house, came out to perform a piece he'd written. I'd have been impressed if a guy came out with a ukelele and did a three-minute ditty called "Churches Are So Pretty" ... but this was somethin' else!

His outfit was ... a violin, a viola, a cello, Andrew on piano, and the composer on saxomophone. Weird combo, yes, but it was freakin' awesome. It's mind-buggering to consider that this fella -- just an ordinary dude -- could not only perform an extended beautiful piece of fantastic music so flawlessly ..... but he wrote it! Hell, I can barely *remember* all three chords in a three-minute pop song, and this guy's writing masterful stuff for a five-piece quartet (?) and ... anyway, kudos to Andrew and everyone else involved.

And good luck to the people at Saint Patrick's. I'm sure Saints can get by with one hand -- I'm sure ambidextrousness is next to godliness -- but a Saint without a house is a sad sight.

Gaining omentum for a diet


I'm flipping around the teevee before sleepytime last night, and happen upon the local (local being Boston or Detroit, I think) PBS station doing their pledge drive. The show they're using to hook people between pledge breaks was one I'd seen bits of before. Some doctor-lookin' guy in scrubs explaining good concepts of "waist management." You know, eat this, do this, don't eat that. It's pretty straightforward and un-gimmicky, and very easy to digest, pardon the pun.

I'd never watched it for any great length of time, but I watched enough last night to see something I'd never heard of before.

What the hell is an "omentum"?

I emailed myself a note with the Blackberry to look it up today.

Turns out -- and this is vastly oversimplified, so anatomy nerds need not correct me -- the "omentum" is a fatty gob *under* your belly muscles, around your guts. When you're a fat guy, the omentum can get fatty and push your belly out. That's how some folks can have visible ab muscles with little subcutaneous fat, but still have a beer gut. (I'm not those folks. I mean the folks with the visible abs.)

Interesting, I thought. And interestinger because it is, according to Doctor Whatsisname Wearing The Scrubs, all connected up with hormones and digestion and various whatsits in your innards.

You all know the only thing I love more than being a know-it-all is learning that there's stuff I don't know anything about. And this is the latter. Very curious!

The book being touted is called "You On A Diet". Based on what I saw of the PBS show, it's a synthesis of stuff I've heard about, know a bit about, but never fully synthesized. Stuff like how certain foods will spike your insulin levels, what that does to fat storage, and how your guts honestly process the stuff you eat. It appears to be a very simple-and-makes-sense-without-being-condescending and/or bullshit book.

Someone over at thefitshack.com did a more thorough explanation of the "omentum" and related concepts, having pretty much the same reaction as I did. Go there and learn something new.

Bruce the Moose - followup post #1


Here's a followup to the first Bruce The Moose post.


I've scanned three photographs taken by Little Sister back in 1996 at Waterloo Town Square. They're over in Flickr. (One, two, three.)


Email is out to the Square's management asking for more information.


I came up empty trying to track down the Chatham mall. The mall's been demolished, so that'll be touch.


A search of the Newmarket Era-Banner's online archives through the Newmarket Public Library came up nil for Bruce The Moose.


I've posted queries on two Newmarket and Chatham message boards seeking information.


A possible hypothesis so far is that there was only ever *one* Bruce setup -- first at Upper Canada Mall in the early 1980s, then on to Chatham, and ultimately on to Waterloo. Bruce's origins, history and ultimate fate are still unknown.


But at least we now have a picture. Mind you, these pictures don't give you any sense of scale, movement or sound.... but it's a start!


Bruce The Moose mall display: Part One

What ever happened to Bruce The Moose? Bruce the Moose at the Quinte Mall in Belleville? At Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket?

There are two follow-ups to this post so far:



You probably don't know Bruce The Moose. In fact, the only reference I can find to Bruce the Moose on the whole bloody internet is on this message-board posting by 'NorthernGrl':
When I was a child, Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket, Ontario had "Bruce the Moose" He was this huge moose that played a giant piano and sang Christmas carols as you waited to see Santa. Then, in my teens, after the mall had huge renovations, Bruce was just gone.I was really upset, and still wonder where he went. I hope he was refurbished and sent to another mall, and not just trashed.
I also grew up in Newmarket, and have the same story. Bruce was there on the lower level as part of the sit-on-Santa's-lap setup. Bruce was a giant furry semi-animatronic moose. He had a sidekick -- some kind of squirrel or beaver? And they played and sang along in a clackety-clack mechanical way to a prerecorded soundtrack. Sometimes Bruce malfunctioned and didn't move. Sometimes Bruce moved and there was no music.

Now, I considered ... well ... odds are Upper Canada Mall didn't commission Bruce The Moose from scratch. That'd be a mighty big project. There had to be more Bruces the Mooses. (Meese?)

Then I met Sarah Mann, formerly the morning show producer at the radio station here in Halifax. She grew up in Chatham. A mall there also had a Bruce The Moose. She corroborated my story.

The only hard evidence I have of any of this is a single Polaroid. My sister found Bruce at a mall some years ago when she was in University, well past the Upper Canada years. I don't know where the photo has gone, but if I find it, I will scan it and post it.

So, the call is out to any and all who remember Bruce The Moose from any mall ... or anywhere the moose may have roamed.

Seeking:
- Bruce The Moose coloring books or other handouts
- Any recordings or other renditions of the Bruce The Moose music
- Photographs
- Video
- Background: who made the displays?
- Epilogue: where did the Bruces go after they were done?
- More: anyone work with these beasts and have stories to tell about their maintenance and implementation?

This is only Part One. You can add more in the comments or send me e-mail. As the material comes in, I will re-post and expand, and eventually we'll compile the official Bruce The Moose Christmas Display archive on the Interweb.

Step one: I think I'll go call Upper Canada Mall to see if anyone can give me some background.

Spread the word through Facebook or MSN or whatever you people use. Let's get 'er done. Preserve the memories.

Gay guys totally dig me on Flickr

I've been meaning to write something about this for a while, but I don't really know what to say about it.

The bottom line is ... some gay men enjoy pictures of my gut.

Stop laughing.

The picture on the right has had six people label it a favorite. That, as far as I can tell, makes it the most favorited picture in my Flickr library.

The favoriters (word? is it? probably not) include men named tex - just tex, N!(K -- loveforphotography --, Cute_Boy_Wonder, bobjeffs00, matadormat_net, and, the name that seems to sum it all up, Overfed & Underdressed.

Clicking on any of those names will show you their favorites. (I don't suggest doing it at work.) You'll note that they're mostly pictures of topless, hairy, fat men. I'm in good company.

The picture of me with Randy from the Trailer Park Boys comparing big hairy bellies is also a popular choice among the same crowd. Actually, checking right now, I see it has 8 people counting it as favorite, including beardad4bears.

I suppose I'm flattered. It's nice to be considered a sex object, even if those objectifying me aren't the ones I'd expect to attract.

If I were gay, I suppose I'd be welcomed into the "Bear Community." Wikipedia has an article about this, with the following terminology.
  • Admirer - a term that refers to someone who is sexually or romantically attracted to Bears (this term is often used in various communities to describe an outsider who has sexual attraction to people within that community). Also often referred to as a Chaser.
  • Admirers/Chasers can be of any weight, hairy or hairless and any age.
  • Bear - a man with a stocky or heavyset build. Can be hairy or hairless and can be of any age.
  • Cub - a younger (or younger looking) version of a Bear, typically but not always with a smaller frame. The term is sometimes used to imply the passive partner in a relationship. Can be hairy or hairless.
  • Daddy bear - is an older guy sometimes looking for a daddy/son relationship with either a younger Bear, Cub, Otter, Wolf or Chaser.
  • Goldilocks - A female, often heterosexual, who is often in the company of bears. A bear's fag hag. Also can be referred to as an Ursula.
  • Muscle bear - a muscular version of a Bear. A muscle cub is a younger or smaller, yet muscular, version. Can be hairy or hairless and of any age.
  • Panda bear - a bear of Asian ethnicity. A panda cub is younger version. Usually hairless.
  • Polar bear - a silver- or white-haired Bear.
  • Otter - a man who is hairy, but is not large or stocky - typically thinner, or with lean muscle. Slimmer version of a Bear with little pockets of fat like love handles or a tiny gut, but not as lean as a Wolf.
  • Woof - A greeting often used when a Bear spots another Bear in public and wants to express physical attraction. He might make a growling noise ("Grrr!") or say "Woof!"
  • Bear run - a gathering or circuit party for Bear/Cub types and their Admirers.
Kevin Smith has a nice bit about this whole phenomenon in the second An Evening With... DVD. A gay friend told him that if he were ever to switch teams, he could get a really really hot boyfriend, 'cuz the cute muscly hairless guys really go for the chubby hairy dudes.
So, to all the "chasers" -- uh, thanks. Thanks for diggin' my scene. You can look but don't touch.
PS: I now have a full beard. Oo, I'm such a tease.

Two days of cleaning in four minutes

After posting the YouTube video of one of my old stop-motion films, I remembered that I shot some time-lapse video this past spring.

Crews were cleaning all the gunge and filth off the concrete exterior of the Halifax Metro Centre. The power washing was interesting to watch in real time, but probably more enjoyable as a temporally compressed experience. We had a perfect view out the apartment window, so I perched the webcam on the edge of a vase and shot for two or three days. I stitched the videos together and added some Ween music, and the result is shown below.

In the days before DVD

Not so many years ago, people didn't have DVDs. We had videocassettes. We had the Betamax vs. VHS wars, which are chronicled so thoroughly on the interweb. And people who wanted something better than videotape had Laserdiscs. They were big -- like the size of records -- but they had great picture quality, fantastic sound quality, and often had extra stuff... the kind of extra stuff we take for granted now on DVD.




This is a clip I found on an old VHS tape when I was doing some transfers at home. It's a clip from Buffalo's NBC affiliate, WGRZ-TV, Channel 2, on their evening newscast. It's a consumer segment asking whether it's a good idea to invest in a laserdisc player. I figure this clip is from early 1992, several years before DVD was introduced.

I get a kick out of past predictions of the future, and old-time fascination with technology that we now view as archaic. And I'm looking forward to the days when the stuff we consider high-tech is considered embarrassingly out of date. Hell, look at how far cell phone technology has come in just the past ten years.

Storm is over. Back to bidniz.

I ended up sleeping through the storm, awakened this morning by a Blackberry email from my parents wondering if we'd been swept off the map because the Internet feed for the radio station was down.

Yes, we survived. No broken windows. No leaks. The barbeque is still on the balcony. I was afraid we'd lost Amanda's cat, but she was just hiding in the closet in the Dungeon/Studio.

We went out this morning to get material for more stories this afternoon.







This low-rise apartment building on Monastery Lane, behind the Canadian Tire on Quinpool, lost its brick facade around 4am. Two cars parked in a no-parking zone were crunched. A third was damaged. A woman who lives inside says the most-damaged car looked like it was a pretty sweet ride...beforehand.

A big tree tipped over at Quinpool and Rosebank, across from the Irving, next to the Ardmore Tea Room. It didn't snap the lines, but stretched 'em pretty good. I was lucky enough to find Nova Scotia Power's communications woman there, so I snagged a decent interview after she told some kids not to play on a fallen tree under power lines. (Parents? Anyone?)


We headed out to our favourite rocky shoreline area off Purcell's Cove Road -- and we weren't the only ones there this time. The waves were spectacular. You can't quite fathom the scale from the pictures here. (Click on 'em anyway -- they'll take you to Flickr.)

Storm's still coming

I went out in the storm for a reporting stint ... will probably head out again soon for an update.



Checked out the shoreline by the harbour ... lots of wind ... nearly lost my glasses coming back up Duke Street. I felt sort of like John Holliman on CNN standing in a hurricane -- and the storm is still 400km away. Chatted with some students at the Split Crow. They're hell-bent on drinking and partying no matter what the weather. The cover band was doing some Guns 'n Roses -- Sweet Child o' Mine, though November Rain would've been the obvious choice.


I came back thoroughly soaked, despite having worn Amanda's Land's End raincoat.


Forecast is for the peak winds to hit around 6am. We'll see about going out in the morning for more coverage. So much for getting an extra hour of sleep.

Hatches: battened down

There's a big storm coming tonight. It used to be known as Hurricane Noel. Now it's post-tropical, and Halifax is in the crosshairs.

The rain has started ... the wind has pickeded up ... and conditions are expected to deteriorate as the day and evening wears on.

Peter Bowyer at the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth is saying the peak of the storm will hit after midnight, into the morning hours, winds of up to 140 km/h.

We're up in a high-rise building that suffered some window damage during Hurricane Juan a few years ago. We've strapped down the barbeque on the balcony and brought in the balcony furniture. Amanda is filling up extra bottles of water right now. We have plenty of food and water on hand.

The scary part, for me, will be later tonight when I'm out reporting. The radio station is putting on a special show tonight, and I've drawn the "out there" assignment. "Out there" as in "not at the station" -- so it's not clear whether I'll be reporting from Barrington Street, the bar district, my balcony, or hiding in the bathroom from flying glass. We'll see how it goes.

So much for getting an extra hour of sleep tonight. It sounds like we'll be getting an extra hour of rattling windows and howling wind. W00t!

I'll post any interesting pictures over to Flickr.

Considering braces

I was flipping through the teevee the other night, and landed on a show called Style By Jury on the dubya network. It's similar, kinda, to Extreme Makeover -- only more Canadian in terms of budget and production. They recruit a mark, put her in front of a focus group which, behind a see-thru mirror, criticize her appearance. Not viciously, just "honestly." Then they set the mark up with relevant aesthetic and lifestyle services. In this case, a woman had laser acne treatment, porcelain veneers, laser eye surgery, a new hairstyle and makeup, and spa treatment including some much-needed romance time with her fiancee. Looked like the lady deserved it, caring for a special-needs son and all.

Anyway, I got to thinking ... if I had a bit of money stuffed away ... which I do ... and I had some things I'd like to change ... which I do ... what would I do?

I consider my reactions when I see pictures of myself:
- Jee-zus, where'd my hair go?!
- Holy crap, I'm fat.
- Oh gawd, I have such goofy teeth.
- Oh, yes, I have glasses.

So, going down the list of solutions, I considered:
- My hair is going. I'll have to accept that. I've never been impressed with the results of other peoples' hair-replacement efforts. I don't want to look like "Spike" Gallagher or "Mel" Lastman. I may consider something for this eventually, but for now, I'm going to aim to embrase my Quibellesque hair pattern.
- The fat thing is thoroughly documented here. Surgical weight loss doesn't appeal to me. Liposuction is disturbingly violent and just doesn't sit well with me. We've watched a season of Big Medicine, and none of the stomach-reduction surgeries make me want 'em either. Getting un-fat is going to have to be an old-fashioned procedure.
- As much as it'd be nice to have great sight without glasses, it's not extremely high on my priority list. My glasses look alright, and they don't interfere with my lifestyle too much. I can see well enough that I can navigate around the apartment without them and not risk grievous bodily harm.
- My teeth. My teeth are goofy and gappy. There's the target.

I missed the "it's cool for adults to have braces" opportunity by a few years -- you probably remember back in the early 00's when it was almost trendy. Someone told me it was a Tom Cruise-led thing, which makes me glad I wasn't part of the fad.

My parents tell me they encouraged me to get braces when I was a child, but I refused. I don't remember that, but I'm not about to say they're lying.

My teeth are fairly straight. They're clean and in decent condition. They're just spaced a little funny. They're gappy and goofy. It's one thing that discouraged me from getting into television years ago -- I mean, you don't see many goofy-toothed folks on television, Letterman aside.

So, what to do? Braces can be in places for two years or longer. How would I feel as a 36-year-old with train tracks? Or more importantly, how would I feel as a 36-year-old with a gorgeous smile?

Braces are expensive. I haven't had a consultation yet, but prices I've seen suggest it'll cost at least $5000. I see home ownership in my future in the years to come. Would that conflict, or is it a reasonable price to pay?

I talk for a living. Would braces interfere with my delivery? Or would I adjust smoothly?

I'd have to change my eating habits. Okay, that's a good idea anyway.

So, those are some of the things I've been considering. I have a consultation booked with one of the city's top orthodontists. He'll presumably give me the low-down on most of those issues. I should probably get at least two estimates before making any decisions.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Today was my last day at work, and I'm okay with that

Today marks a weird spot on the calendar for me. It’s one of those landmarks that really doesn’t mean anything, other than to illustrate the...