Sunday, August 28, 2005

Small town rodeo

So before God invented skateboards, motorcross and Extreme Everything, God invented rodeo.

He prefers small town rodeo. God is not much for sitting high up in binocular-land, top of a grandstand in some name brand cow town.

At a small town rodeo, every seat offers the sweaty, sweetstink, hoof-eye view, better than a pair of golds at The Hanger. You are nose-to-nose with the stock. And there's always the lucky chance they'll come thru the fencing and give you a swift boot to the head. You've been asking for it.

Who was the first guy who said to his bud: "See that one-ton steer? The snarly one? I bet I can ride it." I mean honestly: how bored were they?

But here walk heroes.

The "thud" is no louder, the fractures and risks no greater in Calgary than in Weasel Breath, Ontario. And when the cowdudes get the ladies sweaty wtih their daring deeds, or somebody makes the eight second horn, the sun shines a little higher, a little brighter.

Holy crap. Did you see that? Who wouldn't want to be a cow hand?

Or so it seems this perfect August Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ontario's big heart

A modest proposal

Quite by accident, I discover the CBC is on strike.

An endless stream of mediocre music fills the radio network airwaves, interrupted by an occasional management voice and moldy oldies like This Is Art. Can Canada keep its begonias alive without the Monday gardening phone-in? Find a way, I say.

Since most agree the CBC's best days are behind it, why not just repeat every show the network has ever broadcast? And never make a new one?

This serves two purposes.

1. A continuing drizzle of public sector ear drool for a loyal, grumpy, shrinking audience of hearing aids.

2. A guaranteed sunset clause for taxpayers. After the CBC exhausts 50 years of archives, let the ship sink slowly in the west.

Is everybody happy?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

One day out

Gone kayaking.

Ready and waiting

Going, going ...

Taking turns

Prime Minister Dithers' delightful appointment of another obscure CBC talking head as governor general raises new hope that George Stroumboulopoulos can become GG in our lifetime.

Thus, Canada's first suspect separatist Governor-General would be followed by George, star of Newsworld's Yo We Be Happin' The Hour: our first pierced GG.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How hot is it? About five inches

Broken justice

So how much does the NHL care about a broken neck?

Not much.

How about a new rule for the next time somebody like Todd Bertuzzi takes a run at somebody like Steve Moore?

You get to play again whenever the guy you've injured plays again. Simple? Easy to remember? Even for Bobby Clobber?

No 10 games, 13 games, 20, luck of the draw.

No sad hearings and appeals to the commissioner.

You play again whenever the guy you cold cocked does. It might be four games, it might be never.

You think players might focus their energies in a better direction?

Fair disclosure: the above rule would not apply if the object of the hit was NHL boss Gary Bettman. We all want a shot.

Monday, August 08, 2005

That'll do

Dawg days

Oh the happiness. The frisbees. The barking.

Spent three days at the annual Kingston Sheepdog Trials, now in its 18th glorious year.

The pastures at Grassy Creek Park roll down to an unexpected sand beach on the St. Lawrence.

Dogs and trainers move sheep thru gates or try to sort out the few with red collars on.

Dogs play fly-ball.

And since spectator dogs are welcome, for every one of the 100-plus dogs in the herding events and Freestyle Dance (yes!) events, there are another 50 dogs watching, whimpering, barking, straining.

"Let me at the flying fuzzy thing he's got."

"Hey hey hey, that sheep in the back is looking the other way!"

"A little help? I'm here, I'm here! Me!"

The fly-ball demonstration--dog relay teams jumping hurdles--is about 90% airborne.

On a sunny afternoon, double the moving shapes for flying dogs and their scooting shadows three or four feet below.

There is nothing a border collie would not do to grab a rope, a pulltoy or to just get much crazier than usual. Here is the proof.

Perfect weather. Dog people. Happy mutts. Sweet.

Sheep shearing

Ontario's Thousand Islands Casino shears more sheep each year than most wool farms.

This is a mighty mystery.

Follow the signs near Gananoque, and you arrive at what appears to be a failed Wal-Mart or Loblaws in a field. Inside this eyesore box is more security--and less fun--than most airports.

An Unsmiling Uniformed Greeter will decide if you should be allowed in. If she suspects you are under 50, you will be shepherded into a second line-up to produce two pieces of identification for a Large Uniformed Bald Guy. Prove you are 18. People obviously in their 30s and 40s were digging in their wallets when I was there. Or having their cameras confiscated.

Are we having fun yet?

Beyond the doors is an area smaller than a Canadian Tire store, filled with slot machines. It is patrolled by Large Uniformed Security People. A few random table games are under the yawning control of Uniformed Croupiers. You will notice there is much less sound than in a Vegas or Atlantic Casino. No yelling, no laughter. Are we having fun yet?

At the far end of the hall is an entry to the Grill. It is more brightly lit than the casino or most high school cafeterias. Here you will order your overpriced beer and a bump. Do try the Virgin Baah shooter. Thanks to Ontario's arcane liquor laws, drinking and gambling may never be mixed. No cocktails for high rollers.

But then, you can buy beer, wine and booze at many rural groceries. The province insists all city folk buy their drinks from lazy LCBO stores, conveniently located wherever the MPP of the government of the day insisted there be one.

In short, here is a sullen, imitation casino for sheep. It is a sad, insulting imitation of the real thing, where sheep are stripped of their money with Great Joy and Delight.

Ontario is politically correct so it is a "charity casino." The charity of course, is the Ontario government which thanks to your participation, can ignore good causes they really don't give a darn about. You have bought them The Freedom from Guilt.

Aren't you taxed enough? Casinos are a tax on the stupid. Why would you give them a cent? If you are wise, you will just take a nice snapshot of the large rock in parking lot C2. And leave. Shaking your head.

Is it more humiliating to work at the Thousand Islands Charity Casino Penitentiary? Or to actually spend a dime there as a customer? Discuss.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Do you believe in ghosts?
Backing out the driveway, I glance at the spot
where my sweetest sheepdog buried his bones.
He died in January.
Nothing ever grew in this spot, mostly because
he'd dig, hide and rearrange his stash on a daily basis,
even thru the coldest winter.
This morning, there is something there.
Yes, I'm spooked.

Take this desk and shove it

Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, found the typical office desk harbors some 400 times more disease-causing bacteria than the average toilet seat.

Hey Bob! I'm moving my computer.
If anybody wants me, I'll be out back.