Thursday, 30 July 2009

A Huge Career Step

At work when I write commercials I get pretty strapped for ideas or material. I like to write really cheeky, witty spots, or stuff that's just completely bat-shit crazy.

Today I received my first letter of complaint over an ad I wrote for a Sportswear store, and I've never been more pumped. I'm finally in the big leagues if my ads are attention grabbing enough to warrant angry letters.

In all truthiness, when I wrote it I knew it could have been pretty offensive to women, but it's still really funny and I think anyone with even half a sense of humour would get some giggles from it. Especially since it's obviously satire. The fact that she remembered the name and what happened in the ad means I did my job right.

Plus it's a genuinely good sale!

Here's the offending ad, and below that, the letter the angry listener submitted.

" I just heard the new Action Sportswear commercial, and I must say that it is a true disappointment for the the store, and the station. Not only is it ridiculously stereotypical, but it is also offensive! It shows just how redneck Grande Prairie truly is! Definitely one of the worst commercials I have ever heard. Right up there with ... and ... . I don't even care if it came like that and you have to run it, I work in the advertisement business, and I refuse to run offensive and sexist material. At least change the voices to some that don't make everyones ears bleed. The commercial doesn't make me want to shop there at all, it just makes me change the radio station or spend the extra money on a satellite radio."

I posted a copy of it on my office wall to honour this momentous occasion.

I love my job.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Shaving. What a chore!

Luckily I only have to shave every other day, except today for some odd reason.

I woke up and discovered I had grown exactly half a moustache, more like a Crustache to be specific. It wasn't very thick, but it was definitely there for all the world to see.

It's a good thing I noticed this because I would have looked very strange indeed walking around with a half-stache all day.

The cause of my mystery moustache? No clue. Maybe some kind of post puberty hiccup is to blame.

Anyway, just thought I'd share. Anyone ever grow strange amounts of hair for no apparent reason?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Lord Tunderin' Jesus!

You know what I really enjoy? East Coast music. Which is good because I ended up introducing lots of bands this past weekend at The East Coast Garden Party.

The East Coast Garden party is a big music show held every year in Grande Prairie where they feature some local bands who play some east coast sounding stuff, and a few big bands who're flown in to entertain the masses.

Alberta happens to have a large population of folks from the coast, especially Newfoundland & Labrador. So needless to say, half of the concert's attendees were ex-pats from the coast. On average after they had about 4 drinks I couldn't understand a single word coming from their mouths. I think had good chat with a guy about country music, but for all I know he might have been telling me about his dog Skippy.

Here's a series of photos from the event:

This is tub #1 of beer. The back of the trailer this tub is in had tons more. No festival celebrating the east coast would be complete without excessive amounts of alcohol.

This is the drummer (Ryan McCaffery) and bassist (Troy Spinney) of The Mudmen. They were f'n awesome, except I started getting silly behind stage,

And Troy decided he'd had enough of my guff.

Here's the Kilkenny Krew, rocking out as per usual. These dudes were also a killer act, and you should definitely check them out if get the chance. But be forewarned...

...Don't make a mess behind the stage...

Because it isn't just the Kilkenny Krew's lead singer who doesn't appreciate it...

It's the ENTIRE band who doesn't appreciate it.

Further advice I have is that you shouldn't make fun of Newfies in front of Newfies, because they'll get angry with you.

Which I quickly discovered.

Anyway, that's another East Coast Garden Party all wrapped up. In summary, East Coast music is good for you, and you should listen to it daily.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Something cool I learned today:

In Russia, there's this AM radio station that's been playing a repeating beeping noise 24/7 since 1982, and that's just when someone happened to discover its broadcast frequency. Nobody can say for sure how long it'd been around for since before then.

photo for representation purposes only. Not actually UVB-76

Only three times in its 27 years of service has the beeping been interrupted, here's what Wikipedia had posted about it:

  • At 21:58 GMT on December 24, 1997, the buzzing abruptly stopped to be replaced by a short series of beeps, and a male voice speaking Russian announced: "Ya — UVB-76. 18008. BROMAL: Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 742, 799, 14."[6] The message was repeated verbatim several times before the beep sequence repeated and the buzzer resumed.

  • A similar voice message was broadcast on September 12, 2002, but with extreme distortion (possibly as a result of the source being too close to the microphone head) that rendered comprehension very difficult. This second voice broadcast has been partially translated as "UVB-76, UVB-76. 62691 Izafet 3693 8270."

  • The third voice message (and, as of January 2007, the latest one) was broadcast on February 21, 2006 at 7:57 GMT. (recording of the third voice transmission) Again, the speaking voice was highly distorted, but the message's content translates as: "75-59-75-59. 39-52-53-58. 5-5-2-5. Konstantin-1-9-0-9-0-8-9-8-Tatiana-Oksana-Anna-Elena-Pavel-Schuka. Konstantin 8-4. 9-7-5-5-9-Tatiana. Anna Larisa Uliyana-9-4-1-4-3-4-8."[7] These names are found in some Russian spelling alphabets, similar to the NATO phonetic alphabet.

That's creepy as all hell. Also, sometimes you can apparently hear people talking in the background, so it's definitely a manned station and not some piece of equipment hooked to a dusty old transmitter in a locked room. Once, this message was heard over the radio in the background:

"I'm 143rd. I don't receive the oscillator." "That's what the operating room is sending"

Who is 143rd? Why would someone come to him looking for an oscillator? Where is the operating room located? Who was talking to him?

What a mystery!

So we can tell it's constantly maintained, and has been since before the collapse of the USSR in '91, but the only messages anyone has caught have been well after the fall of the state. Nobody has been able to decode the meaning of the broadcasts, if there's a meaning at all.

Theories as to the purpose of the station are many. Some say it's a relay station for spies to receive information or orders, others claim it's a military operation that sends secret orders to some hidden HQ.

Finally, one of the big ones is that it's a leftover from the Cold War, originally built to be one of the stations that would activate the USSR's 'Dead Hand' plan. In the event nukes were fired at the capital, and the USSR's leadership was killed along with lots of other high ranking officers in what's called a 'decapitation strike,' Dead Hand would be activated by sending AM Radio waves to secret underground bunkers staffed by soldiers so the country could still retaliate and nuke the crap out of everyone else.

There's a really good chance that all the secret underground bunkers still exist (if they ever did in the first place) and there's no reason why the Russians wouldn't want to keep their own stash of nukes kept safely tucked away underneath the noses of everyone else.

Anyway, you can read more about UVB-76 here, as well as view it from google maps.

Would anyone be up for a road trip to Moscow to check it out?

Monday, 20 July 2009

Jake and The Oversized Beaver

This past weekend my sister and her boyfriend came from a visit all the way from Manitoba. We had a good time seeing lots of touristy things along with a couple festivals and copious amounts of gambling.

More pictures will follow, but of all the photos taken on my camera, this one is definitely my favourite.

Me mounting the giant beaver in Beaverlodge.

I'm so witty.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Take the Bitter with the Sweet


I work at a radio station as a creative writer. My job is to write and produce ads every day for a plethora of clients ranging from furniture, to Honda lawnmowers, to street festivals and everything in between. It's a fantastic job, but there's one problem.

The music can really suck sometimes.

I'm in a one-station building. This is getting to be a rare thing these days in radio, especially when you're located in what's considered to be the geographical boonies like me. Lots of stations across Canada (and I'll presume the US as well) have two and even three stations in the same building. In Brandon, Manitoba there's a building with 2 radio and 1 TV station.

Anyway, because I'm in a one-station building the station PA system is locked on only our station and it's always playing country music.

There's nothing wrong with country, and a lot of it I really do enjoy. But I can understand why some people say country music makes their insides curdle and die. Personally, I'm a classic country man. John Prine, Johnny Horton, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, that's where the good stuff is. But there's some decent new stuff too. I'm a big fan of Corb Lund and Johnny Reid.

But like those of you who can't stand country, I feel your pain. There are a few singers and bands with songs that make my ears bleed. Here's a select few:

Sugarland – Life in a Northern Town

This song is crazy popular, and I have no idea why. It's a cover of a Dream Academy Song, which isn't even that great in its own right. After a year of listening to this band sing this mostly nonsense song it still gets requested every day. Today I was doing some filing and this was playing. I just about strangled the nearest person to me in a fit of rage. More than 50% of the song made-up gibberish!

Want to read the lyrics of the chorus? I'm not even kidding you here:

Ah-hey ya ma ma ma, into the night-ah
Hey ma ma ma, hey-ay-ay-ay, ah
They shut the factory down
Ah hey ma ma ma ma

Yeah. Seriously. They repeat that a good ten times more. Great work ripping off the easiest possible song to sing Sugarland, you sure showed that children's choir of 4 year-olds how to sing one heck of a gibberish song.

And I already hated Sugarland enough as it was. Back when I was On-Air I'd take out every single song by this band that I saw. I didn't care that it was AAA material, the stuff that everyone wants to hear, for the sake of making sure my blood pressure didn't drop dangerously low from the torrent of crimson rain jetting out my ears, I had to take those songs out.

Continuing along my musical rampage, here's another country band I hate:

The Roadhammers – Homegrown

Here's a song about how the band isn't banging floozies while they're on tour, but instead saving themselves for the floozies in their hometown.
Thanks Roadhammers! I really needed to know that. I will gladly invite you into my home to meet my daughters any day of the week.

Just kidding, you're just about as bad those bums in Sugarland. In this song they insist on repeating the same stupid, high pitched crap over and over. I'm all for country music about women, booze and cornfields, but this song is terrible.

If I hear you play this song one more time Roadhammers, you're outta here!

Rascal Flatts – Everything ever sang by them ever.

Kill. Me. Now.

Oh goodness do I hate this band. Words cannot even begin to express just how badly I want to rip the lead singer's, Gary LeVox, throat from his body and feed it to a herd of starving pigs. This guy's voice instantly fills me with hate and rage.
And not only that, but the Rascal Flatts are so DEPRESSING! You know what one of their most popular songs was about? A girl with cancer. Fine whatever, but what really cooks my goose is they don't even finish the story they're telling in the song. Just sort of leave it about 4/5 of the way through and end the song.

Oh how I hate you Rascal Flatts. I really enjoyed throwing your songs into the garbage along with Sugarland's.

You know who wrote depressing songs but still had a good time about it? The Barenaked Ladies. That's who. And their lead singer was fatter, funnier, and liked to drugs more than you ever did Gary LeVox!

Lisa Brokop – Shakin' Up

Blech. This is bad of me to say, but the ratio of good female country singers to bad ones is pretty out of whack. I'd say it's like 1:5 of good to bad. I don't know why, but some chicks just can't sing country. No hard feelings girls, but maybe you should look into rock or pop or something else instead.
Lisa Brokop is one of these women. I think my biggest problem with a lot of these songs is that they repeat the same lame lyrics in the chorus over and over again in a whiny voice. This one has it bad. Real bad.
You know what Lisa? Maybe try a more difficult song, you're a real talented lady, but you have no creativity. Quit singing about moving in your boyfriend and write the next love ballad or something.

Jo Hikk – Sweet City Woman

Here's the history of this song:
Jo Hikk walked into a studio one day, looked at his producers and engineers and said,
“Hey Guys! I just had a great idea!”

His producers look at each other, blink, and then stare at Jo.

He could hardly contain his excitement, “Know that song Sweet City Woman by The Stampeders?”

“Of course Jo.” His chief engineer replied. “It was one of the most popular songs in Canada during the 70's. It won single of the year in 1972.”

“I know!” exclaimed Jo, “So let's do a god awful cover and make millions!”

So said Jo Hikk, and so it was. A fantastic song was covered, and now gets played every day on dozens of radio stations across the country. It's truly truly awful. The original was great! What a classic tune! But Jo Hikk had to ruin that for everyone. Such a travesty.

So those are the songs I can't stand right now. I'm sure there's more of them, but these are the worst offenders.

I have to add though that I'm getting pretty darn sick of the constant 'Feed Jake' jokes. Ha Ha guys. Real funny. I haven't heard that one before.

Anyone else who has to listen to terrible music all day is encouraged to vent.

Pirates of the Mississippi - Feed Jake

Monday, 13 July 2009

Review: How I Won The War

No dilly dallying on this blog entry. I'll cut straight to the chase with this film review. This movie is a complete trip from start to finish.

How I Won The War (HIWTW) stars Michael Crawford as a bumbling, inept, Commissioned Officer of Britain's military during WW2, and how he recounts the tale of how he was responsible for the Allied victory in Germany.

But the film is far better known for casting John Lennon for the role of one many soldiers conscripted into service.

If you're a person interested in the career of John Lennon, then the film is probably worth checking out. His performance is pretty standard though. He's a pacifist thrust into a war, and is completely unwilling or unable to shoot someone. It's been done before. It was an okay performance though.

However, what must be said about this movie is this:

If you're a fan of historical and accurate war movies, then HIWTW is not for you.

If you like movies with a linear, sensible, easy to follow plot, then HIWTW is not for you.

If gore and people getting shot, stabbed, and dying miserably isn't your thing, then HIWTW is not for you.

If you enjoy a really dark black comedy or absurd British humour, then HIWTW is definitely for you.

I found the film to be completely shocking, hilarious, and amazing all at once. It's a film style completely all its own. Unfortunately I was flipping through channels when I came across it yesterday and missed the first ten minutes of the film, so it took a while to figure out what was happening. Sometimes it's a documentary, sometimes it's a behind the scenes movie, sometimes it's a flashback/flashforward scene, it's just all over the place.

This film swings from being pleasant movie about some wacky in WW2, to a tale of the horrors-of-war and how people deal with it. One moment you'll literally be laughing away and then *pop * someone is getting gutted by a bayonet. Be prepared for major mood swings with this film.

I give HIWTW a final score of

It gets big points for style of humour, and for breaking the fourth wall perfectly. I can recall four of five times they do it, and each time is done as masterfully as a soliloquy penned by Shakespeare himself (breaking the fourth wall and a soliloquy aren't the same thing though, but I figure it's a close analogy).

It loses points though for leaving some thoughts unfinished. Sometimes a minor tangent or subplot is just abandoned. Or they'll start rolling into a separate plot and you're caught unawares. It's hard to explain without actually seeing it.

Without giving too much away, I'll recommend it to anyone who likes war protest music from the 60s and early 70s. Some of the stuff in the film is completely off tangent comedy, like when a general goes to battle wearing blackface makeup, to some shtick involving land mines.

My HIWTW recommendation comes with fair warning though. When they say this a black comedy, it's pitch black comedy. This isn't a film anyone who can't appreciate a morbid sense of humour can watch.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Around my office it's generally accepted that I'm completely bat-shit off-my-rocker crazy. If someone wants some creative off-beat story ideas or just wants a laugh, they generally come in my direction.

I also sing and dance a lot, which people have been thrown into the looney bin for.

One of the things that the girl in the office next to mine has noted about me is that I talk to myself a lot. All the time in fact, 24/7.

She's a filthy liar, I don't talk to myself at all. Rather, I talk to the inanimate objects in my office. I'd like for everyone to get to know the wacky and offbeat characters who I work with in my office.

The Stapler -

He's an okay guy. Lately for some reason he's been really good and staples papers together like a dream. My biggest annoyance with him though is that he likes to hide under papers when I'm too busy to hunt for him.

It's not appreciated Stapler, get your act together.

The Computer -

Our tech guy just hooked Miss Computer up with more RAM, so she's been happy about that. But most days she's slow and I shout at her a lot. We have an abusive relationship, but we stay together because I don't know what we'd do without each other.

She just got back from the hospital actually about two months ago. While she was gone I cheated on her with another computer that ran Ubuntu. She was so much faster and better looking and I would have liked to leave Miss Computer for Ubuntu, but things just didn't work out.

The Calendars -

Where would I be without my calendars? Probably unemployed, that's where. My 'Nuns Having Fun' calendar is awesome, and everyone likes to come by and talk about it. It's also responsible for making me look crazier than usual. And the big calendar, a new addition to the family, is sweet too. Everyone likes to put stickers on it because it's generally agreed that it's too plain to be on my wall.

The Filing Cabinet -

I just cleaned this yesterday, so she's lost some wieght. But she's sloppy, I don't like her, and I wish she were digital or something. But in the end we put up with each other. She likes to misfile things on a regular basis though, and then I have to spend ten minutes looking for the right paperwork.

And that's about it actually. What inanimate objects do you have conversations with?

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - The Impression That I Get

Monday, 6 July 2009

He's Gone Country!

This past weekend was Expert Mobile Extreme Country Fever. It's a long convoluted title for what's basically a Country Music festival.

Because I work at a radio station which happens to be a huge sponsor and advertiser for the festival I get access to the backstage.

So here's a series of photos of me doing silly things during Country Fever weekend!

This is me backstage on Friday when Johnny Reid was playing...

And this is where Johnny decided he'd had enough of my shit.

Here's me meeting a guy who was the spitting image of a slightly portlier Jack Nicholson...

And here's where country singer Julian Austin punched me and told me to quit bothering his fans who look just like Jack Nicholson.

Here's me backstage once more with country music legend Neal McCoy

He was so cool he even posed while he punched me in the jaw

Here's me doing my best impression of Mosh Girl

I didn't have the crowd grimacing as much though

Here's me and some of the Big Country radio crew along with Miss Grande Prairie Stompede 2009, Leigha Rode (She's a rodeo queen here and gets to travel all over the place)

And here's her deciding I was getting too fresh with her

And I'll wrap this post up with one last image of me on the dance floor doing a mean two-step.

Expert Mobile Extreme Country Fever kicked ass, even when I was the one getting my ass kicked!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Je suis une Pizza!

You guys know me, I don't brag much

*pause for laughter*

But I'm a pretty good cook when I set my mind to it. I have lots of roommates so it gives me a good chance to make something and shove it down their throats as test subjects. Lately my big thing has been making pizzas. Last Friday at work I decided I really wanted pizza. And I mean I really wanted pizza.

The problem though is that pizza in Grande Prairie costs way too much, and even the Poverty Pizza joints are too expensive. Back in Brandon, Manitoba, I could get two extra large 'Zas and a 2 litre of soda for 24 bucks. That's a pretty good deal. Also, I could order cappicolo on that pizza, which isn't something you find often here in Canada. At least in my experience. I will say though that those pizzas were of medium to low quality. It obviously isn't some Italian Joe's F'n Amazing Pizza. You're getting what you pay for.

Anyway, pizza is just too damned expensive. Luckily I've always liked making my own. I've never had to deal with making dough because I would always buy the thin crust pizza shell at my local grocery store. It was amazing. It's the best thin crust pizza base I've ever had. But I can't find it anywhere but in my hometown, so for the first time I had to make my own dough.

I found a recipe, bought the ingredients and set out to make me some pizza from scratch.

Here's the recipe I used from

.25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast

1/4 tsp. granulated sugar

3/4 cup 110 degree water

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

pizza sauce - of your choice,

as needed shredded cheese - of your choice,

as needed toppings - of your choice,

-Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.
-Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
-Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
-Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12" circle. We've also found that holding the dough up, off the counter and stretching it works well, too (keep rotating the dough circle as you stretch to keep an even circle forming).
-Place dough on a lightly greased pizza pan and stretch dough to edges.
-Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
-Bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden.

It works pretty darn well actually. Anyone can figure this one out. The nice thing is that because it's a thin crust you don't have let the dough rise or anything. So you don't waste any time waiting around doing nothing.

But it still isn't thin enough. The crust I used to buy was almost a pastry. It was flaky and delicious. Further research is warranted, I suspect I'll have to search high and low for the secret recipe. As far this dough goes though it's okay. It's actually a really good start point, and it's easy as all hell to make. Fifteen to twenty minutes is how long I'd say it takes.

The first pizza I made was okay, but the roommates gave it mixed reviews. I put down the dough, used lots of sauce, a layer of salami, then cheese, then pepperoni, then mushrooms, then mo' cheese.

These are the remnants of my second pizza. I took the rest of it to work for lunch today because I liked it so much I decided not to share the leftovers. I've also hidden it in my desk because I have trust issues when it comes to food.

It got rave reviews from my roommates. This time I skipped making a round pizza (there was too much dough the first time and the round pan was too small) and just flattened out the dough in a cookie sheet. I made it as thin as I could, but it still rose quite a bit. The underside got good and roasted, so it had a satisfying crunch, while still being fluffy on the top.
I did basically the same thing as the first one for toppings, but left out the salami and put more pepperoni in there. The salami I used before was some weird European variety. It seemed that they were out of the regular stuff so I figured “How different can it be?”

Turns out they can be a lot different. Disgustingly different in fact.

So if anyone has any ideas of different ingredients I could use in the crust to improve it or has any pizza making tips, they would be much appreciated.

The Aquabats - Super Rad