Archive for May, 2007

Radio Dan, the Bus-Ridin’ Man

You want to know what’s wonderful? The late-shift. I’m working 3:30 to midnight now, which is exactly as much fun as it sounds. From 5-10, there’s non-stop calls.

But enough about that! I have come not to complain, but to entertain. In fact, you may want to play Joplin’s (Scott, not Janis) “The Entertainer” in the background, in order to supplement the effect. Ready? Let us begin….

The city bus is a wonderful place to meet crazy people. I once met an old man with a huge, unkempt beard and strange smell who spent the ride ranting loudly about how Johnny Cash and Sammy Davis Jr. ripped him off. When the woman sitting across from him tried to ignore him, he got up and started yelling at her until he was escorted off the bus.

That’s just a small sample of what you’re likely to see on the bus. Many of the people that come on are merely strange, but every now and then you get someone truly bizarre like our friend above. But all those crazies, with all their strangeness, pale in comparison to the bus rider I call “Radio Dan”.

Radio Dan is a bit of a legend on the bus circuit. I’d heard stories about him for awhile, but yesterday was the first day I saw him for myself. Our friend Dan, as you may have guessed, is obsessed with the radio. But where Dan differs from most fans is that he is also convinced he is on the radio. As Dan rides the bus he gives detailed weather reports, does commercials, segues between songs, and performs all the responsibilities of a Radio DJ. He even brings a CD player and extra discs so he can switch tracks.

I find this endlessly fascinating. What causes someone to be fixated on the radio like this? How does he think he’s broadcasting when he lacks any equipment whatsoever? Why does he do it on the bus, of all places?

Radio Dan has a bit of a funny voice, as well. I like to imagine that it was his lifelong dream to become a radio DJ, but when he auditioned for the role he was rejected for the way he sounded. On the bus ride back, utterly crushed, he began his own “broadcast” to prove to he could do it, and now he continues with that same broadcast to this day.

Of course, reality is never that obvious. I imagine there’s a lot of complex and deep-seated psychological issues involved in Radio Dan’s behaviour. Still, no matter what the origins of his delusion, he’s great for a weather update. And for that we can all be thankful.

Radio Dan, There Shan’t Be Wit Salutes You!
Crazy Bus-Person of the Year!

May 30, 2007 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

I am in Total Awe

Sometimes, if we’re very lucky, life gifts us with a thing of beauty beyond compare. Something so stunning it becomes an essential part of our being, defining the way we live from that point on.

Today, I have seen such a thing.

At the climax of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End two mythical ships, the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl, do battle in a whirlpool during a raging storm. At the same time Jack Sparrow duels Davy Jones atop the mast of the Flying Dutchman to decide ownership of the Heart that Controls the Seas, while Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan the Pirate Queen are married by the mad captain Barbossa, all of whom are in the process of fighting off a crew of fishmen that are boarding the ship.

Any of these things on their own would usually make a fitting climax to a movie. That Pirates would do more than one is daring. That it would do all of them is glorious.

I can honestly say I can’t think I’ve ever seen anything so stunning in it’s grandeur. And I say this as someone who’s been to the Louvre and seen the treasures of Europe.

By god, that was an awesome movie.

Editor’s Note: To clarify, I don’t think At World’s End is a particularly good movie. It is, however, an awesome one. There comes a point where you have to just shut off your brain and go with the cool, and this movie hit it with the ridiculous climax. Oh man.

May 26, 2007 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

Teddy Catches the Sun

I have an unusual interest in the inter-personal politics of my little sister’s stuffed animals.

It’s funny. For as long as my little sister’s been able to talk, she’s been creating elaborate personalities and relationships for her toys. It started with her favourite pink teddy bear, named Teddy (of course). She takes Teddy everywhere, has long conversations with him, and basically treats him like her best friend. One day she decided that in addition to being a bear Teddy was also the President, and for the next three weeks we were hearing about President Teddy’s new policies. During this period, I took to joking that President Teddy made the trains run on time.

Teddy is basically a rambunctious kid, much more so than my little sister herself. He’s outgoing, inquisitive, and enjoys scaring people by roaring (he is a bear, after all). He’s also a little shy at times, and is very sensitive about what people say about him. Teddy tends to have grand adventures, including the time he got lost at school (an event I eventually adapted into a children’s story).

Teddy’s best friend (besides Victoria) used to be Mr. Sheep, who is of course a stuffed sheep. However, when I got back from my year in England, I was surprised to learn Mr. Sheep had grown rude and pessimistic while I was gone. My little sister now has occasional arguments with him, and more than once has given him a time out.

Rounding out the “Big Three” of the stuffed animals is Sally Bunny, Teddy’s sister. No, I don’t understand how a bear has a rabbit for a sister either. Sally’s a bit like Teddy, but more quiet; probably the most like my little sister of the three. As I understand it, Sally still maintains good relations with Mr. Sheep despite his change in attitude.

Besides these three, my little sister has perhaps a dozen more stuffed animals with names and distinct personalities; Dozy Bunny, Rainbow, Kitty, Glow Bear, etc.

Personally, I find this all endlessly fascinating. My little sister is only in Kindergarten, and she’s gone and created a detailed and complex set of characters and relationships for her stuffed animals. They’re only stuffed animals, but the way she describes what they do and acts as them when they “talk” makes them seem alive, especially considering she’s been building these stories for years now.

By this point, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve attended a “birthday” for one of her stuffed animals. Sometimes it gets to be a pain, but really… it’s not going to last much longer. She’s growing up, and soon she’s going to stop playing pretend with all her stuffed friends. All their adventures and relationships and conversations are just going to stop. It’s sad, really; being around here, I’ve gotten to be friends with her stuffed animals too, and she’s going to move on long before I do. She’ll get too old for Teddy’s companionship before I ever get tired of hearing about him.

It’s a funny world, I guess. This really isn’t something I should be concerned about, but here I am anyway; worrying about the fate of Teddy and his stuffed friends. Maybe I just look for significance in the wrong places. Maybe this is just part of me worrying about her growing up. Until that happens, though, I’m going to keep going to those birthdays, and I’ll be sure to listen when I’m told what Teddy did today. After all, who knows what adventures he might have?

May 25, 2007 at 3:11 am Leave a comment

Back-Seat Movie Making, Volume II

Guys, guys, guys.

There’s a new Fantastic Four movie coming out. And as you all know, I had issues with the last one. So let’s take a moment to look at my top ten suggestions for fixing the Fantastic Four movie. Behold the work of:

Jacob McNeil, Script Doctor!

1. The new movie origin sucked. I’m taking it back to basics; Reed Richards and Co. steal a spaceship to beat the Russians in the Space Race.

Because seriously man, fuck the Russians. History has shown bad shit happens when they get access to cosmic rays.

2. In addition to the restored origin, the Fantastic Four shall only travel through the use of a flying bathtub.

3. Dr. Doom sucked too; his “villainous” plan lacked oomph. In my movie, Dr. Doom kidnaps the Fantastic Four and sends them back in time to steal Blackbeard’s gold.

This actually occurred in Doom’s first appearance in Fantastic Four #5 (published 1962), thus establishing him as the most dastardly and brilliant villain to ever live.

4. While in the past, The Thing becomes Blackbeard.

Yes. This actually happened too.

5. The Thing’s mutation should flicker on and off periodically, just to fuck with him.

6. Replace Jessica Alba with someone who can believably play a scientist. Seriously, what the hell?

7. Special cameo appearance by Luke Cage, Hero for Hire

8. Narration by Stan Lee, done in the style of Stan’s Soapbox. The phrases “‘Nuff Said”, “True Believers” and “Excelsior!” must be used at least a dozen times each.

9. The climactic showdown takes place at Marvel Comics offices, when Dr. Doom kidnaps Editor in Chief Joe Quesada, writer Brian Michael Bendis, and Stan Lee. The latter of the three continues to narrate despite his capture, with hilarious results.

10. In the end, Dr. Doom is defeated through the power of squirrels.

Given these changes, I assure you that the first Fantastic Four movie would have made $12 BILLION dollars and won no less than 19 Academy Awards. It would also be in the running for the Noble Prize in Literature, and even become a surprise nomination for the Noble Prize in Chemistry. It’s just that awesome.

It’s ideas like these that prove I’m going to make it in the movie business. Just you watch.

You can find more Adventures in Back-Seat Movie Making here:
Spider-Man 3: Jacob’s Cut

Editor’s Note: How much did I hate the first Fantastic Four movie? Enough that I have refused to see the sequel on principle, even though it includes the Silver Surfer and Galactus (and I’ve made my feelings on them quite clear). I can’t think of a lot of things I’d do differently, some of them are even serious suggestions.

May 22, 2007 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment

Wherein I Forget to do Things that are Vitally Important

I am freaking lazy.

Ever since I wrote that big essay last week, I’ve been having trouble writing. You might have noticed the lack of posts this week. I’ve been having even more trouble on the home front; you know those five essays I have to write? They’re kind of not getting done.

This is really bugging me for a lot of reasons. My theme for the year has been taking control over my own life; it’s why I’m running a marathon, maintaining a blog, and doing a variety of other things that require effort and commitment. I’ve actually been doing surprisingly well with it, considering my general slothfulness. I say I get things done, and then I do them. It is a remarkable thing.

But last week has thrown that all out of whack. I was struck by a horrific case of writer’s block (or maybe I still have it?) and now I’m way behind. I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to get a few of the things in by the deadline, given mailing times (stupid Canada Post).

There’s no real point to writing this. I just want to make it clear that I am in a rut, and it is my own fault. Curses and daft.

Editor’s Note: I tend to get into these kinds of ruts a lot. It’s one of those things I’d like to fix, and have tried to in the past, but my efforts always seem to slide back to the status quo in the end. It can be a very serious problem sometimes.

May 21, 2007 at 5:46 am Leave a comment

Adventures in Tech Support

So, on my first day of work I learned that every single person in the world is an idiot. All of them. Especially me.

It’s funny. I was really worried that I wouldn’t know how to do my job. It turns out that I really don’t know how to do my job, but it doesn’t matter because no one else in the building does either. And the people calling in know even less than us.

During my time there, I got no less than two transfers from people in other departments because they didn’t know how to schedule a technician to go out. A third transfer was someone who’s problem was their computer was too slow, which is bizarre since we’re an internet provider. Not only did the caller not know what they were talking about, but the other call center guy didn’t know enough to know we don’t handle that and so tried to pass the problem off to me.

One lady got me to go to Google Maps and give her driving directions over the phone. Some guy’s internet was broken and I spent twenty minutes fixing it, only to learn that it had gone up somewhere around the fifteen minute mark and he just didn’t bother to tell me (I only figured it out when he mentioned he was on Linksys’ website downloading drivers, and I asked “er, how?”).

The absolute worse was the women who needed her wireless internet working on her laptop. We got it fixed, only for her to explain just before I hung up that the internet on her desktop computer had gone down. After ten minutes of troubleshooting, she finally explained that she had unplugged the ethernet cable. That, of course, was why it didn’t work.

So it turns out I hate everybody that called, and for most people I did a very poor job fixing their problems (if I managed to fix them at all). It was all kind of hilarious, in a novelty sort of way. Hopefully I’ll get good at the job before the novelty runs out.

Hopefully.

…I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Editor’s Note: Of all the bullshit I dealt with on the job, it was other Call Center people I hated most. Specifically, the ones who would transfer us calls when it wasn’t our responsibility without even trying to fix the problem themselves. I even got calls from technicians who, in the midst of installing internet in homes, realized they had no idea what the fuck they were doing. Who hires these people?

May 19, 2007 at 9:35 pm Leave a comment

That Was The Week That Was

Haha!

Today I finally succeeded in getting my running time down to 24 minutes (which was the time I had running the treadmill in England). Of course, I nearly busted my gut doing it, but the point is I am an achiever.

Sorry blogging has been slow lately. I was busy writing a 1500 word essay on the concept of heroism in Canadian culture. I got some good flow going, powered through the thing in a few days with kickass results, and will now hopefully earn a $2000 for my efforts.

Now I have to write a 500 essay on how I’ll use my university education to benefit Canadian society, and I’m getting wicked writers block. Funny how that works. I really need to get over that, though, because I need to get that essay done so I can move on to the five other essays I need to write by the end of the month.

So, that’s my life lately. Running, writing, and working. Or rather, still training for work; we finally get around to hitting the floor on Friday. I fully expect to be a total failure at it, though, at least for the first few days.

I’ll let you all know how that goes when it happens.

Editor’s Note: My ‘Canadian Heroism’ essay ended up winning that contest and I didn’t have to write any other ones. Fuck yeah! Also, seriously, 24 minutes? I doubt I could do that anymore. I need to get back in marathon shape.

May 17, 2007 at 3:46 am Leave a comment

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