Monday, 29 June 2009

Kicking my Addiction

I'm a man of many vices. One of my bad ones that I never imagined I'd get hooked on is coffee.
I remember when I was a young buck thinking “Man, coffee is G-R-O-S-S.” But then again, at that age I liked to combine Cheez-Wiz and peanut butter in the same sammich, so maybe my tastes have changed a little since then.

I have college friends to blame for my addiction mostly. Being poor, and living hand to mouth meant I didn't have lots of money to do fun things during school. Of course, my poorness was partly to blame on spending food/rent money on beer, but who hasn't done that at some point in life?
I started drinking Earl Grey tea (Twinnings) because I had so much of it and because it was hot and I didn't like to turn on the heater because of the associated costs. And with nothing else to drink at friend's houses I'd just bring along tea and we'd have a good old time playing video games and pretending to be British.

Okay, so I was only the one pretending to be British, and that really only happened inside my head. But we did all drink tea.

I got hooked on the stuff. I'd drink a litre or two of black tea a day. Screw soda! I'm a tea man! Every Thursday we'd have bake club (No, it wasn't about marijuana, it was about eating cereal and cakes and things. The actual name stems from a long convulated story concerning potato patties) and have snacks, watch TV, and drink tea.

Then we switched from tea to the hard stuff. Coffee. One buddy had always tried to hook me on The Joe,
“Just try some, you'll like it!” he would say.

“I dunno man, that sounds like a bad idea.” I'd reply tentatively

“Listen, the first cup is free. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it ever again...”

“Well, okay, but just this once.”

I tried it and was done for. I've always had an addictive personality, so I should have realized that as soon I drank some java I'd be on it for life.

Anyway, I've decided to cut back. Yesterday I drank 12 cups (one pot) all by myself. Some days at work I go through a pot and a half all by myself. It can't be healthy for me (Not that drinking coffee is the least healthy thing I ingest on a regular basis).

Today, I had one cup of coffee (that was like 1/6th of a pot) and chewed gum. My eyelids feel droopy and my hair is all itchy.

It must be withdrawl. I should get some methadone like heroin addicts do. That stuff isn't addictive. Right?

Reel Big Fish - She Has a Girlfriend Now

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Ode to the Things in My Office

Have you ever stopped for a moment to take a look at the things that surround you in your workplace? Computer and phone aside, there's not many things I use a lot of around here.

Or is there?

Once I stop to think about it, there are some things I'd be lost without. We often forget one of mankind's greatest achievements that we use every day.

The ordinary paper clip.

Stop and think about it for a moment. It's something you see all over the place, but don't pay much heed to. Take a good look at it and marvel in its design.

The common paper clip is an unattributed invention. They were being manufactured in Britain during the 1880s. But who invented it, specifically when, and how they evolved is a little murky.

There were early imitators, but the design of the common paperclip hasn't changed in hundred years. And why would they change it? It's a small, elegantly shaped, simple to use, versatile strand of metal. It's a perfect example of an innovation that will continue to stand the test of time for many more years to come.

On the subject of a paperclip's versatility, they can be used for many different things.

- You can twist it into a little loop, put a drop water in that loop, and make a tiny magnifying glass. This is a useful tip for spies and ninjas alike!

- You can use one end to poke those tiny buttons on the back calculators and cell phones to reset them.

- You can use it to eject the CD-tray on your CD-ROM Drive. Just insert one end into that itty-bitty hole on the front your computer's disc drive, and voila! Instant access to that disc your computer just ate.

- They can be used clean your finger nails.

- You can unclog the holes in your salt shaker with one.

There are tons of uses for paperclips, here's an entire site dedicated to their many uses.

It's like the world was designed to work with paper clips. I bet it was on purpose, because where in are you going to find a tiny, stiff piece of wire when you need one? In a paperclip. That's where.

Let's all take a moment the next we see a paperclip to appreciate it's usefulness. Without paperclips I suspect the world would have long ago descended into total anarchy and chaos. Horrible monsters would rampage and we'd be powerless to stop them. It would probably look something like this:

Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb

Monday, 22 June 2009

Journey on a Midnight Train

This is yesterday's painting.

Still haven't figured out how to take a decent photo with my camera

This is called 'Journey on a Midnight Train.' Ten points goes to the first person to identify the painfully obvious reference and source material I used for this painting.

It took about 6 or 7 hours, although I took a few breaks in there. Sitting on your ass all day does get a bit tiring. Since I finished my charity chair more than a month ago I've only had time to paint one other weekend, but it didn't go so well.

Speaking of things not going so well, my woman riding on the front of the train and playing guitar turned out pretty androgynous. Which is too bad because chicks who play guitar like a rockstar are hot, and that's what I was going for.

But then, if he/she could be interpreted either way I guess that lets people make up their own story about it. That's kind of what I go for when I paint something. I like to just sort of show one image from a story and let whoever sees it spin their tale about what's going on.

What I learned from this painting is I'll have to practice my female figures. Males aren't a problem for me because I have myself as a pretty standard model, but the way women are drawn is completely different. I don't know if you know this, but they have these strange lumps on the front them that are really hard to make look natural.

Yesterday's painting just started flowing and didn't stop until I was finished. There's a few things I'd like to change about it, such as the train being more centered and showing the engineer's cab, and I'd also like more of 'something' going on in the bottom right corner. There's lots of blank space for something to happen, but I couldn't quite figure out what. I thought that maybe I'd put more clouds in there, but that's something I should have done right off the hop before painting the train. Oh well, what's done is done.

This weekend (time permitting) I think I'll try watercolours and ink. One of my various roommates let me play with his water colour set and fountain pen, and thet were awesome! The different between acrylic paints and watercolour is astounding.

The next painting will be about cocaine. I've had an awesome image in my mind about it for a while, and since that's always good source material it'll probably win some awards.

Friday, 19 June 2009


Maybe it's the slight hangover from last night's beer and video-games,

It might be the delirium from drinking 1 1/2 pots of coffee,

It may even be attributed to the 4 cookies and slice of cold, crusty pizza I had for breakfast,

But I'm insanely giddy over my first ever art sale. My piece sold for hundreds of dollars!

3 hundreds and 25 dollars to be specific.

Yes, today I learned how the Art Auction went that I skipped out on. I received a letter at work from the local charity it was for. This is the chair I donated:

I toiled, screamed, lost sleep, and generally procrastinated over trying to finish this chair. But in the end, it turned out pretty well. Although I'd say it was only about 85% done, and I wish I'd have had just one more day to dedicate to painting it, I'm a little proud of it. Looking back there's about dozen things I would change. But it's in the past now, it was a learning experience, and I'll move on to bigger and better things.

But most of all, I'm really proud that it went for $325 bucks. I'm a nobody artist, a complete newcomer and amateur, and this was quite literally my 8th or 9th in my entire life. Looking through the pamphlet of some of the other pieces I'm pretty honored to have even been in the same auction. So going over $300 is a decent accomplishment, especially when I was going to bring a $40 cheque just in case nobody bid on it.

The first thing I did when I found out about it was rush into the office and excitedly exclaim to Grant Berg (who is himself a very talented artist, be sure to take a look at his work here) how much my chair sold for.

Then I started flipping through the book of all the art and took a closer look at my listing.

They spelt my name wrong, and they put down the wrong business that I was representing/where I work. Which is quite funny because I signed the chair, sent mail and emails with my name spelt my name right, and put a Big Country XX 93.1 sticker on it, just to make it abundantly clear who I was working for, and who I was representing.

I even remember when I dropped the thing off that I said who I was and where I was from.

Oh well, it'll be a funny story to tell in years to come.

Monster Magnet - Space Lord

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Just one more car photo

To fully express how much I love my new car versus my old one, here's one last set of photos:

This is me expressing anguish when The Buick told me she had a new owner.

Here's me hugging Glenda in front of that harlot Buick I used to roll with. She dumped me in that Midas parking lot, and that's where she can stay for all I care. We're through. Glenda is younger and hotter anyway.

And here's me filling the void of my broken heart with food from McDonalds and enjoying the toy they gave me. It was Amelia Earhart flying a bi-plane, which is historically accurate, although she did fly other planes too. The toy was fun nonetheless

Monday, 15 June 2009

You're Rubbish.

Once again the city of Grande Prairie needed some real celebrity power for their special events. This past Sunday I was called upon to be a judge in an honored and venerable competition as old as the human spirit itself.

A karaoke contest

I strode into BJ's Q-Club and Sports Bar where I was immediately accosted by several dozen women craving my attention and wanting my favour for the contest.
"Away with you harlots! I am the judge and I will not be swayed!"
Okay, so there was only one woman, and she wanted ID because as you'll see in this photo:

I looked like I was about 16 years old. I said I was from the radio station and she let the issue drop. Good thing too because I don't have any legal picture ID right now. Anyway, I sat around with a friend for an hour drinking and eating fries, and then it was time for the judges to take their spots.

Blah blah blah, some singers were embarassingly bad, others were okay, and a couple of them really blew the roof right off the building.
Here's a list of things of things that myself and the other judges were looking for; For future reference for any of you who are going to be in a karaoke contest:

- Be able to sing your damn song! Don't go up there and plan to read the screen. It's not amatuer night dammit! Although technically every time someone sings karaoke it's amatuer night.

-Look at the crowd once in a while, play with them. Make some girl's heart flutter by pointing at her. Make some guy' I think you all know what I was going for with this tip.

- Move around during instrumental interludes. The one thing people did that made me want to die a little was when their songs would take singing breaks and do instrumental solo parts, and they'd just stand around and tap their feet.

Could you be any more boring?

Play some air guitar or something. It's a silly contest, have fun! The worst that could happen is someone will get a good laugh out of it.

- Dress appropriately. Nobody lost any points for dressing badly, because that's not what the contest was about. But I figure that if you're getting on stage you should at least try to put something nice on. There was this one girl who was a little bigger, and she just didn't dress well. She looked a bit like a sausage. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Okay, so that's it. Us judges were pretty much unanimous in our decision as to the top three, and scored everyone almost the exact same.

It was between this black guy who sang like Frank Sinatra, and was a pleasure to watch sing. He handled the microphone really well, and the got the crowd involved before starting to sing. BIG points for stage presence!

And this country boy who had a distinct Toby Keith/J Geils Bands feel. He was fantastic, and got the all the ladies screaming. He won by a really close five points difference ahead of the black guy.

So that's that, another Hammelltime exclusive! The bar owner liked my judging so much that he invited me down to judge a bikini contest next month too!

Hell. Yes.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Is That Your Final Answer? Part 3

*Suspensful Music*

Regis Philman stares at me from across the monitors. His gaze locked with mine. He asks,

"Is that answer?"

I can feel the beads of sweat roll down my face, this decision could make or break my immediate future. If I make the wrong move now I'll be completely screwed.

"Yes Regis..." I reply "That is my final answer."

He sits backs, sighs, and looks at me agian.

"Well Jake, I've got a little tip for you..."

My heart seizes for a moment in pure suspense...

"...change your oil every 5,000 miles, because you JUST BOUGHT A NEW CAR!!!"

And the crowd goes WILD!

So my car buying experience didn't exactly go like that and it didn't feature any guest appearances by Regis, but it was pretty exciting.

I decided that I would 'Buy me a Mercury, and cruise it up and down the road,' in the words of Alan Jackson. The Neon was simply too much money to insure, and the Grand Marquis was the car I wanted from the start.

The best advice I got was from my boss who said, "Just go with your heart, Jake!"

To which I replied, "I will Suzi! And since I'm going with what my heart says, enjoy seeing me naked at work tomorrow!"

She grimaced, "Go with whatever your heart says, unless it's telling you to get naked. If you come to work naked you're not going to be employed anymore, Jake."

True story.

I bought it for $2,000, which was 500 less than asking price. That saved me some decent money, but the car ended up being about $300 more in repairs than I had estimated. After getting it a proper insurance inspection, repairs, parts replaced, and labour, I spent about $1,100 getting it fixed so it could get insurance.

Insurance is another 2 grand or so, but that's in monthly payments so it's not the end of the world.

I've been cruising around in it all week and all I have to say is,


That car is one fly ride. It's so smooth! And the interior is amazing! It's like sitting on a couch, and the steering is all wide and slow, just the way I like it. The brakes are soft and easy, which is good too because I'm really bad with brakes that are touchy and sensitive. I'm more liable to get in an accident than I am to avoid one with brakes like that.

I took it to the pumps for a fill when it had about an eighth of a tank, and it cost around $55. That's about ten bucks more than my last car, but gas is a lot more expensive now than it was three weeks ago when I still had my old car. So I figure my gas budget won't change too much. I averaged a $40-50 fill every two weeks, I'll budget another extra twenty or thirty a month to compensate.

On the topic of my old Buick, it's still parked in the lot of the Midas where I abandoned it. Some pictures were took on a camera I don't have, and those'll be here soon.

I'm so happy I have a car with a tape deck too! And yes, I do mean tape deck. I think there's a real art to making a good mix tape. It's gotta have flow, and be timed out perfectly so that when one side ends it'll flip right over and begin on the other side. They're almost as much fun to make as they are to listen to!

FYI, I named my ride Glenda. When I was at the bank getting a draft cheque to pay for the car repairs the girl who helped me was named Glenda. I thought this was a fantastic name for such a good looking young girl to have. It's definitely an older style name, like my car, so I figured it was a perfect fit.

Glenda and I will have a long and happy future together. I'm sure of it.

Alan Jackson - Mercury Blues