Monday, 28 July 2014

CD Warehouse is closing: Say a prayer for the rock bottom remainders

This coming Saturday, CD Warehouse on St. Laurent Boulevard will close its doors forever.
It will be a sad day for those of us who liked to spend time there browsing for those unique little musical gems, the ones handmade with love by our hometown heroes and beloved legends.
I remember spending time there with my friend Dave, now long passed, who liked to buy CDs made by the sidemen, the musicians who added the little amazing touches, a lick here, a beat there, to sweeten an already wonderfully-made concoction. It was like adding just a touch of rhubarb to a perfect strawberry pie.
Dave the bass player had the most incredible collection of CDs and vinyl. I used to curl up for hours beside him, over a few beers, maybe a joint, and let the knowledge rain down on my little ears. God, he knew his stuff.
Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end.
They did, of course.
Dave has joined the ensemble in the sky, but if I close my eyes, I can still see the twinkle and the crooked grin that announced that Dave had found a good one.
I miss him. I really do.
Dave would have been crushed to hear of the passing of yet another record store. It will probably end up as a fusion restaurant or a factory outlet store, like we need another one of those in our neighborhood.
Nowadays, it's easy to find anything on-line, but wasn't it nice to see a friendly face, to chat up the staff who forgot more about blues, rock, even classical music than most of us knew? Wasn't it great, too, to get that phone call saying the used out-of-print Travelling Wilburys CD was in, and you now could get your thumb prints on the only copy for miles?
Bragging rights, that's what it gave you.
The good news is that only one of the CD Warehouse stores is closing. How long before the rest follow suit, put down like a Blockbuster video store or an old mutt that nobody wanted anymore?
Today, we can simply click on the Apple Store app and pick off a tune here, a tune there. Nobody buys the whole joint anymore, at least nobody I know.
It's like picking up the shiniest piece of fruit from the box. People don't realize it all tastes good. You just have to give it a chance.
I feel sad about this, I can't lie.
CD Warehouse was more than a record store. It was a community hall where the greats and locals gathered and were supported.
A guy or a gal simply had to come into the store with their CD and they'd stock it just like the ones that came from the big record labels.
There are still a few places you can get their music. You can always fuel up the gas guzzler and amble out to the stores in Nepean and Kanata, where, I assume there's a better market for music you can hold, touch and place in a machine.
I'm sure there are geezers left that still cherish the liner notes. They live in paid up ticky-tacky houses that all look the same.
If you're bussing, you can go to that place in the Glebe, I forget its name. You can park there but you'll pay for it, or face ponying up the parking fines, because the stuck up people in that neighborhood really don't want you to come record shopping.
No more free parking at CD Warehouse.
Feed the meter, feed the man.
It's a sign of the times. Feels like I'm gettin' old, losin' my girl, hurtin' in the places I used to play.
I can always go on the Interweb and peck in a credit card. It just seems so cold to me.
Like feedin' the meter in the Glebe.
In the meantime, I'll meet you down on St. Laurent for one more blast from a golden oldie.
We'll say a prayer and pick up what's left of the rock bottom remainders.
So long CD Warehouse.
Thanks for stopping by on your road to oblivion.
There will be a hole in my neighborhood that's for sure.

Okay, Pinetop, let's play 'em out.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Mind the Thigh Gap

After three long years standing on the weight loss plateau, I've finally found a machine at the gym that works for me. It's made by Octane Fitness and it's a combination elliptical and strider which requires the athletic supporter to run in a squatting position -- backwards.
Whilst everyone else around is blissfully gliding up and down as if they were on a merry-go-round, you are slipping and sliding in a number of delightful poses and positions. While they are glowing with a light mist of perspiration, you are leaving buckets of sweat on the floor.
This machine means business. I call it the Punisher because if you don't hit a decent clip, it turns off the audio on the television. So you're standing there waiting to see if Mandy Patinkin gets the perp on Criminal Minds, and all of a sudden -- silence!
What criminal mind thought of this punishment?
I've been working out on this machine for three weeks, and I've dropped half my gut, the gut part that is below the waistline, the muffin bottom, if you will. Also I lost half the ass I built up over last Christmas eating velvet cake and bon bons.
Sure, my knees hurt and my hip screams "stop! you stupid bitch!"
But that's the price a woman pays for screwing the pooch around her abdomen.
I'll take it.
Also, I've developed -- or should I say re-developed -- the thigh gap which is all the rage amongst the yoginis. It's one of two hot places on the body right now, along with the bikini bridge, which is the little space above the pelvic bone taut young things have when they lay down on the beach.
Guys, you know what I'm talking about. It's the place where you can put a hand
in without stretching the material. Many a dude has been arrested for doing this, especially in Brazil.
I vaguely remember the bikini bridge from high school. I had a bikini bridge one day, then the good Lord took it away in punishment for having children.
He sort of blew up the bridge and built a bunny hill there.
The thigh gap is more easily attained than the bikini bridge.
It occurs when you squeeze your thighs together and they don't stick. There's a space between your thighs.
Until I hit menopause, I always had a thigh gap, though I thought I was simply bow-legged.
I had a thigh gap until I hit menopause, then my thighs ate about a gallon of cottage cheese and the gap was filled in with fat globules. As I recall, it was about the same time I started wearing mom jeans.
Once you've widened the gap, it's a bitch to get back.
But thanks to the Octane Fitness machine, I now have one.
I'm stoked.
If it gives me a bikini bridge, I'm asking it to marry me.
Check it out.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My Heaven includes Botox

Today, I took my tired-looking self over to see Sheila Mackay, a registered nurse who works at the Facial Surgery and Cosmetic Centre of Ottawa.

Sheila is the angel who sticks needles in my face, and I love her.

She gives me Botox and Dermal Filler to fill in my craggy good looks.

A lot of people will say: "what a ridiculous thing to do" or "you look just fine the way you are; you should love yourself more" or --- and I really hate this -- "I don't need that stuff. I've earned every wrinkle."

I say, good for you. If you want to look like a topographic map, that's your right and I will defend to the death your right to look like the Canadian Shield.

It's true, I don't look that bad for 58. With the help of hair dye and makeup, I can pass for 50 even younger because I don't have a face that looks like an unmade bed. I don't smoke. I have a nap nearly every day. I eat my veggies. I exercise. And I get my eight hours in a dark, cool room without benefit of technology.

There's no secret to having good skin.

But even good skin cannot work forever.

I've begun to notice lines from the inside of my eyes that are bisecting my cheeks, leaving what is starting to look chicken filets around the nose. Also, jowls. I have nightmares about Joe Clark.

As you see from this picture, I also have a very heavy muscle between my eyes. From an early age, I knit my brow -- as Carolyn Keene used to write in Nancy Drew. It started because I didn't have nice eyelids, so I started to squint in an effort to make my eyes look bigger. Forty years later, the squint is gone, thanks to me coming to my senses, but the furrowed brow is highly prominent and not very attractive.

I could have lived with these changes but I didn't want to. I'm vain, there I said it.

Why should I look like Granny Clampett when I can look like Helen Mirren?


I don't do stupid things like take diet pills or hormone replacements. I don't spend a fortune on department store plumpers that never work.

I'm never getting plastic surgery on my face. I don't want to look like somebody grabbed my skin and hauled it behind my ears.

Instead, I get injections. They don't hurt, not as much as a teeth cleaning.

And they make me look less like a map of Mississippi.

What I had done today will go away eventually. The Botox that eases the furrowed brow will disappear in six months. The filler will stick around for 18 months. Then both will be gone.

At that point, I'll decide whether to have it done again.

Would I? Would I!

Here's why.

In the last year, I've watched three of my friends become widows. I've visited umpteen friends in the hospital who are undergoing hip and knee replacements. I've sat with friends in the doctors' offices as they've worried over whether or not they have cancer or a bad ticker.

Me, I've been lucky. Aside from a gallbladder attack, my doctor visits have all been preventative. I am not on any medication, not even for high blood pressure.

I work at it. I punish myself at the gym to keep my weight down and my heart strong. I eat kale and Greek yogurt for my innards.

So why wouldn't I do something that makes my skin feel and look better? It is the largest organ. Why shouldn't it get the same love as my kidneys?

Look, I raised three kids on a shoestring. I battled an ex for money to put the kids through college. I stared down adversity at every juncture.

Now it's me time.

Don't look at me in that tone of voice; I bite.

I'm not going to enter my geezerhood telling everybody about how much I've sacrificed.

I'm not some kind of churchy Madonna. I'm the other kind. The one with the whips and chains -- in my mind at least.

I'm not waiting to get my Green Card for Heaven.

The lineup's too long and I'm impatient.

I'm getting mine, here and now.

And it starts with Botox.

p.s. The boobs come off next...

Here's to me.
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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Loblaw Wagyu beef marketing disaster

I'm updating this post which discusses the sale of Wagyu Beef in my local Loblaws, a move that turned out to be an absolutely disaster. Apparently, the Loblaw superstore sold only five Wagyu steaks last week. And the Loblaw in Vanier had their entire stock of Wagyu stolen right out from under the store staff.

Today, I checked out the Wagyu in Elmvale and there were still steaks but they were being sold for ten bucks each instead of nearly sixty bucks. Just thought you'd like to know. :)

I walked into our Loblaws this week and there it was, as promised in the flyer, a cartload of Wagyu beef steaks with a side of  Chiliean sea bass.

The steaks were nice enough, meaty, with veins of fat running through them and the fish, well, the fish was beautiful, pristine, white like a Caribbean beach.

Wonderful. The price, however, not so much.

Each steak was selling for $59. The sea bass, which I only know about because it's featured in fancy restaurants in the movies, was $16.

At first I though it was a joke.

These are serious economic times, ladies and germs, when most of us are fishing through our pockets looking for enough money to afford steak on Saturday night at an average cost of $16 to $20 and Loblaws does this. I suppose Galen Weston is trying to appeal to the upscale folks in my neighborhood at Elmvale Acres but given the fact a lot of people are scraping by, living in high rises, cruising around in motorized wheelchairs and gas guzzling beaters -- or taking the bus -- I'm thinking that maybe Galen was a little light on his market research.

I asked the meat lady how many steaks she'd sold that day and she just shook her head.

"None," she said.

What makes matters worse is that Loblaws continues to gouge its employees, having de-unionized the lot while packaging and cutting off the heads of its long time workers, people like my friend Scottie who has worked there for more than 30 years who had his wages cut effectively by a third. He'd finally had enough last week, a bid sayonara to a fish monger job he clearly loved.

What the hell is going on at Loblaws?

It's passive aggressive behavior is starting to worry me.

First, Loblaws plies its customers with loyalty cards, then it makes us all feel bad to shop there.

There should be a law, I say, there should be a law.

Needless to say, my husband and I left Loblaws without purchasing the Wagyu and instead went over to the Ottawa Farmers' Market where we picked up two lovely large tenderloins for $18. We wouldn't have done that a week ago, but $18 farm-to-table, while supporting our farmers seems like a pretty good deal to me.

Look, Wagyu beef is terrible for you. It's full of marbling, which means saturated fat. The friendly dietician on Loblaws staff would, or should, be telling you it's a cardiologist's worst nightmare.

It's also evidence of Japanese class warfare, coming from a place where only a small percentage of people can afford to eat meat and instead eat rice and cucumber sandwiches as their staple.

And here's a bigger question: what's going to happen to all that Wagyu when nobody buys it?

It will go into the dumpster some place, that it is a certainty.

Loblaws won't even be able to give it away to the poor because of the health hazards of serving expired meat. Oh, well, there will be some mighty fat and happy maggots at the Loblaws dumpster.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

We come here to praise Mike Duffy not bury him

Glass is half full kind of Canadians should thank Mike Duffy for the investigative journalism he's undertaken which is revealing the depth of corruption and depravity within our system of government.

For years now, Old Duff has been toiling on your behalf, posing as a political Senator, to unearth how many ways it's possible to screw the Canadian taxpayer. At times, he's even revealed that it's possible to do double duty, fingering the front orifice of Josephine Lunch Pail while putting a digit in the back end of Jimmy Conservative.

Indeed, he should win himself a Michener Award, or a Genie at the very least. Do they still give those out for enterprise journalism?

Seriously, folks, everyone who lives in Ottawa knows the system stinks -- especially Senate operations. We've had major evidence of this for years. Like the Senator who spent all his time in Mexico instead of warming his seat in the Red Chamber. How long did it take people to figure that one out? Or how many others managed to go from living in nice condos to multimillion dollar houses in Manotick within minutes of their appointment to the Senate. How many of them are registered lobbyists?

You see, people who are appointed to the Senate have, well, expectations. Most of them come from well heeled jobs in corporate Canada, or law firms or big media jobs. They believe they deserve free booze, large expense accounts and golf memberships.

You'd think they'd just won Cash For Life. Well, guess what, most of them did!

Senators have been forging documents for years, fudging their expenses, free wheeling their way around the country toiling for their respective political parties on the taxpayer dime, and everybody, everybody, everybody knew about it and did absolutely nothing.

It took Mike Duffy to belly flop in the pool and displace all the water before anybody -- the RCMP, the media, officials in the Senate, the Canadian Revenue Agency -- thought: "Holy Shit, we really need to get on top of this".

Journos are lining up to take the credit, and bows, scooping up major hardware and rewards for "uncovering" the Senate scandal. That's unfortunate. They're all trying to convince Canadians that it was their investigative journalism, but really, it was Duffy all along.

Let's buy him a round.

For it will be Duffy, not CTV news, who will take down a sitting prime minister for snoozing while the Red Chamber burned. It will be Duffy who will be personally responsible for cleaning up the Senate and its loosey goosey rules and regulations. And it will be Duffy who will be responsible for ensuring proper accounting methods are put in place.

(Though Pam Wallin does deserve an honorable mention for best hair.)

I'd say there are a lot of former Senators who are pretty happy they are dead right now. And there are many, many sitting Senators who are sending their shorts out for dry cleaning. The gravy train stops right here, right now. And there are plenty of Lucys who have some 'splaining to do.

If I were in charge of the government, I'd go further. I'd call for a pre-emptive strike on other questionable practices which are followed not just by Senators and MPs, but by journalists. If we're going to make Parliament accountable, we should shut down the Parliamentary restaurant, take away the tabs at Hy's, and make everybody eat at Tim Horton's just as we do. Also, get rid of the free parking and subsidized cafeterias.

We don't get free parking, do we? I don't know about you, but it costs me $15 every time I go downtown, so I take the bus. No little green bus picks me up.

It's time that our elected officials mirror our lives and bring their own brown bags, and pay for their own memberships at Good Life fitness. (Hey, you get points for referrals!)

Let them get hair cuts at First Choice, and go to U Frame It to get their vanity pictures framed.

And while we're at it, take away their householders, those ridiculous pieces of mail MPs send out to you and me that just end up in the recycle without being read. Let them use the Internet like the rest of us to deliver their propaganda. Dial up!

Duffy has shown us that as long as there are loopholes that we can drive a lorry through, there will be cheaters who will use the system to their own advantage and line their pockets. So let's get rid of all of them.

No more two residence rules for anybody. No more limos to drive Cabinet ministers four blocks from their condos to Parliament Hill. No more interns in short skirts and thigh gaps.

Let's make being a Senator or MP as unfun as possible.

It's only then will we get people in office who truly want to be there for the betterment of Canadians.

Thanks Duff, thanks a lot.

Godspeed, and let 'er rip at the trial.


Monday, 14 July 2014

King Kong: Labrador Retriever Edition

For two years, Scott has been telling me that Finnigan, our Black Lab, would settle down...eventually.
At that point, all of my dreams would come true.
There would be no more menacing guests and crawling all over them, no more punching me in the face or ripping me a new butt hole when I turned my back on him. No more of that high peeled, incessant barking when he wanted out, or simply demanded attention. No more dropping saliva-coated twigs on my leg while he shook nervously.
Sometimes, Finn has been hard to love, especially during the times he's put me in real danger, like that time at the dog park when he nearly knocked out my front teeth when he hit me in the face whilst running full boar.

I had two black labs before Finn. Mandy died after eating an entire bowl of oatmeal chocolate chip muffins the babysitter had left out. Maggie was given to my friend Derik after many failed attempts at training and one scary event in the dog park when she pinned me on the grass with her teeth bared.
I swore I'd never get another one, but that was before I met Scott who I believed had magical powers over dogs like Finn.
It was an entirely wrong assumption.
Still, with Scott at my side, I remained committed to that mythical two year mark.
I simply hoped for the best and expected the worst.
Most recently, there are signs of hope.
We acquired a Kong dog toy for training purposes.
We'd bought one the year before, but Finn didn't know what to do with it, and eventually tossed it past the gate, where it was found by another grateful canine.
We decided to give a Kong another try this spring, and this time, it worked. Finnigan fell in love with the thing. He was absolutely smitten.
Since then, we've gone through three of the things. He just chomps the head off after worrying one for a couple weeks.
The good news is that Kong stands by its product, so we just go to the pet store every few weeks and get a new one.
The best news is, since the Kong arrived, Finn no longer barks or chases dogs beyond the fence. He's stopped eating Gordie's poo. And he no longer menaces the company.
The only reminder of the old Finn is incessant barking when he wants you to throw the thing, which is about every two minutes.
I'll take it.
Thanks Kong for taming the untrainable beast.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Ottawa's garbage: A simple case of Organomics

I was thinking this week that the councilors who run this city should simply go down the road to the Rideau Carleton Slots and pour all our money into the machines.
At least they'd have a chance of winning.
Anyway, it would be more fun than sinking it into a ridiculous garbage deal.

As taxpayers, we pay a lot of money to our city manager.
The man makes nearly $350,000 a year to be smart, or at least accountable.
That's more than twice as much as the mayor.
So how does he have the nerve to sit there and tell Ottawa City Council that it's not his fault that our tax money is being dumped into a sinkhole called Orgaworld, an organic waste collecting service that doesn't take most of the household waste we produce.
We pay millions to this company to take away our potato peelings, but not our diapers, lawn trimmings or dog shit (which is a natural composter). It doesn't take that stuff because it's too stinky. We have to put it in our garbage and leave it beside the barbecue for a fortnight, making sure it gets even stinkier in situ.
Kent Kirkpatrick merely shrugged when told by the city auditor that this deal smells to high heaven. It wasn't his fault. It was the fault of city staff who don't work here anymore.
That's like your kid blaming the broken vase on a poltergeist.
Isn't the city manager ultimately responsible for things like this?
When told we had to sign a 20 year deal, didn't he say, wow, that's a long time.
Can we buy a warranty, at least.
I'd hate to see his cell phone contract.
In any event, the auditor is suggesting that we break the contract and go with a cheaper service, one that will pick up all the waste. But Kirkpatrick railed at this, saying it would cost us $8 million to cancel the contract.
I wonder if he's divorced.
His wife would have taken this guy to the cleaners.
And what about the geniuses we elected? Didn't any of them question the numbers?
Surely the former staffers, who probably scored some great seats at the Sens Palace, didn't pull a diaper over their eyes.
Even Rob Ford high and drunk would have figured out that these modern day Tony Sopranos were selling Ottawa back its own real estate.
Why a 20-year deal exactly?
Why couldn't we have signed a five year deal?
Oh, I guess it's because the taxpayers are actually paying to build the facility.
That's what governments do, right?

This might be fine, except that nobody likes the Green Bin program other than a few tree huggers. Most people like their garbage to simply disappear. They don't want it stinking up their garage. They aren't crazy about the maggots in the summer and the frozen banana/coffee ground/chicken guts mess in the winter.
I don't mind it personally. I like to think that I'm doing my part by sorting my garbage though it hardly compensates for the number of people who don't do it, including all those who live in high rises that surround my neighborhood and the Shameless crew who live next door.
But this is a real cock up.
The mayor must be shaking in his support hose, thinking that he nearly got through an entire term without a scandal or an embarrassment.
Just one New York minute, Mayor Milhouse.
I'm afraid that while the former staffers are playing golf or taking their kids to Disney, Ottawa City Council will be wearing this one.
When is the election again?