Wednesday, November 30, 2005

poor old Lucifer

poor old Lucifer
          deluded fool
who talked himself into
some kind of hell

you could shake your head
          at the irony of his name
for what light did he ever bring

but the reflection of pure mind?

poor old Lucifer
          couldn’t face
his conditional immortality

grasped instead
          at his sense of injury
thumbed his nose
then cut it off
just to make sure he was real

poor old Christians
          deluded too
by the thought of intrinsic evil

forgetting that god and light
          are one
and Lucifer light
and pure mind nothing but

poor old Christians
          solidify satan
inventing darkness for the sake
of light

inventing hatred for the sake of god

rather feel some compassion
for the bringer of light
who fooled himself into the dark

Remembering Tammie

I went to Tammie's memorial service today. I wonder how many people have friends like this: someone they consider a close and dear friend, but who they don't really know all that well. At least not in terms of their day to day lives. This is how it was with Tammie and me. We met ten years ago as members of a weekly or bi-weekly discussion group of seven or eight people. This group met for about two years, and during that time we had some intense discussions. But through it all, I remember a lot of laughter. We became friends.

Not really the kind of friends who hang out together, though. After the group came to an end we continued our friendship by establishing a tradition of a yearly barbecue for the members. And that was about how often I saw Tammie after that. Once a year.

But it didn't matter. We (all of us) had an understanding of one another and an appreciation of each others' life journeys. So we gathered every year for our barbecue, gossiped, laughed, talked turkey, talked serious, caught up with what everyone was doing.

I remember Tammie, during the discussion group years and after as well, as someone who was forthright, direct, completely in touch with what seemed right and just to her. But she was warm and funny too. Loved cats. Cats especially. She was intellectually agile and emotionally intuitive. She brought out the best in us and demanded honesty from us by her own unflinching integrity. She looked you in the eye and you just had to tell the truth.

Two years ago she came to the barbecue with her head wrapped in a scarf. She was undergoing chemotherapy. Much of the discussion that evening centred around how things were going for her. Not great, as it turned out...But she was not defeated. She was not daunted. She was fighting.

This past summer Tammie didn't make it to the barbecue. She had intended to come, but she was again having chemotherapy, and not feeling well that day. We gathered anyway, of course, a smaller group now, and talked about Tammie along with other topics.

A few weeks ago I received an email telling me that Tammie was in palliative care, but not really wanting visitors. So I didn't visit.

Until today. I'm sure gonna miss her.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

It was one of those variable skies days. In the midst of a sunshower, I thought to myself, "Somewhere there's a rainbow." This got me to ruminating how that might could be a song. Yeah, a bittersweet kind of ballad maybe. But I really was thinking that this was the kind of sky that would produce a rainbow. Sure enough, a minute later I looked to my left, and there it was. A perfect rainbow. Perfect if you overlook the fact that it wound itself into a cloud and popped out the other side.

I marvelled. I uttered self-congratulations. Clairvoyance it was. Thirty seconds later I nearly rear-ended the SUV in front of me. Thirty seconds after that the rainbow was gone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Mantra Machine

That’s what those Chinese ladies in Richman’s Hill were. On both Saturday and Sunday, they/we began with a Morning practice. Virtually every practice includes what are called the preliminaries…the Refuge prayer, Four Immeasurables, the Seven-Limb prayer, offering of the Mandala…followed by invocations of the lineage masters, supplications, aspirations, dedications. This particular Morning practice also included a short Tara practice. Tara is a female deity who represents beneficial action on the earthly plane.

The Tibetan definition of “short” is not like ours. The Morning practice, done properly, takes at least one hour.

Tibetan books are also not like ours. Traditionally, they are loose-leaf sheets about ten inches wide and three or four inches long. The Morning practice book, including the Tara practice, is over 150 pages. But each one of those pages must include, at least in the west, the Tibetan script, a phonetic transliteration, and an English translation. So a single page usually only manages to have four lines of text at most. After four or five years of attending Tibetan teachings and rituals, I have managed to become somewhat comfortable with reading the phonetic versions (although they do not reproduce precisely the Tibetan pronunciations…you just have to learn some of the rules…) So, I can read along, chant along, if the pace is relatively slow.

But with these ladies it was utterly impossible. They motored along like Ferraris on the Autobahn. At most I was able to get the first two words and the last two, sometimes when I was able to look ahead, an entire phrase. Sometimes I knew the phrase, or recognized it. But most of the time I just followed along silently, hoping not to lose my place. I remember being at the Kalachakra initiation listening to the monks chanting, performing rituals in the mornings…it was really nothing but a drone to me. There are those who, with long familiarity, are able to join in. Not I.

That’s what it was like with these women too. Since I had the book in front of me, I could see how this drone occurred, the syllables and the techniques that were creating it. It’s a fascinating phenomenon to me. Everybody goes at top speed for as long as they can. When you run out of breath, you have to suck it in fast. Others are still going. When you start again, you might be at a slightly higher pitch, a different intensity, a syllable behind. It all mingles to create a hypnotic, undulating rhythm, punctuated now and then by brief silent mantras, low murmuring mantras, bells and even finger snapping. (All of which have a specific purpose I can’t necessarily explain.) In addition, many of the prayers have a certain melody which is used for the chanting. Through the course of the Morning practice there are, I think, two different melodies, each with their own rhythm. I’m embarrassed to admit, being a musician, that for some reason these melodies do not stick with me. They’re not hard or complex. But I can never seem to remember them afterwards. (Something karmic happening there, I think.) In five years, I’ve learned one melody – the one that goes with Om Mani Padme Hum – and I think that’s because it reminds of a Native American type of melody. I can imagine rain dance drums beating behind it.

The women were obviously well-practised in the Morning ritual. In fact, Lama Phuntsok said it was just like being in the monastery…(except that these were women…) But they recited just as quickly in the Manjushri practice, which I thought they might not be very familiar with.

The Sunday, especially, was a day devoted mostly to ritual. That’s what the women want. They value the devotional aspect. But since it was an empowerment, I think Lama Phuntsok insisted on giving them some teaching as well. Devotion is one thing. But the reason why we have devotion, the meaning of the Dharma, is the heart of it all. So he taught – what the Vajrayana means, why we visualize Manjushri…and the women seemed to appreciate it.

I have the impression these women, seven or eight of them, are the backbone of this Dharma centre. They organized. They cooked! Cooked for Lama Phuntsok and the rest of us too. Fabulous meals. They cleaned the centre. Looked after the altar and shrine. Water bowls, candles, all the statuary. They prepared the food and materials for the tsog (which is an offering ceremony). They take care of Lama Tashi, the resident Lama. They are devoted. To the Dharma. To the centre. To the Lama. Fine examples of guru devotion. And I suppose that’s why their practice consists of devotion, moreso than instruction and analysis. Did Francis of Assisi analyse the birds? I think not.

They have something to teach westerners about valuing Dharma and its teachers. I guess, really, it’s not so different from a congregation making sure the minister has what he needs to tend to the flock. But western Dharma practitioners are still somewhat rare. We’re not sure how to take care of the Lama. And by and large, we’re not especially rich. A wealthy benefactor is what every Dharma centre needs. And devoted practitioners.

Making Offerings

Lama Phuntsok told us that when we visualized making offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, we should think about the things we like, the things we  think are good. So, he said, if you think that this car, say a Mercedes, is good, then that’s what you offer. He brought it very down to earth. Of course, we can offer the entire universe. There’s nothing wrong with this. But it is good to offer the things that have value for us. This pleases the Buddhas. You offer the thing you would most like to have yourself. (That’s why we say, “my body, wealth, and enjoyments…” – all the things we most like to have…)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Oh my God! They've killed Kennedy!

I was nine years old when JFK was shot. I remember how the news came over the PA system at school. It was a quiet moment at school. The class was doing some kind of written work. Everybody at their desks. I can’t remember what it was we were working on, but I do remember how calm and quiet it was. And then the principal announced that Kennedy had been shot. I’ll never forget the chill that went through me then. I don’t think the news of anyone’s death has affected me, either before or since, in quite that way. It’s always said how this was the end of Camelot. I think it was the end of some sort of innocence for me too. I went home at the end of the day and watched the film over and over and over. There was nothing else on TV. Nothing else happened in the whole world that day. Now that I think of it, I wonder if this was not the first assassination of a major figure ever broadcast on TV.

JFK was a hero to us kids. At least to me he was. I was intrigued by his Massachusetts accent. I read the book about his wartime experience in Guadalcanal, PT109. Saw the movie. Watched him on TV. I read his book, Profiles in Courage. I was really impressed with his wife. What a babe, eh? Even at ten I knew that. I already had the beginnings of political consciousness. I knew there was something going on with that president. Something important. I didn’t know quite what it was, but I felt something. Every school kid knew his famous inaugural line…ask not what your country can do for you…a line which he borrowed, but it didn’t matter.

And let it not be forgotten that all of Canada felt a kinship with his presidency, and with the US in those days. Our entire school took the day off to watch his funeral on TV. Not at home. At school. A Canadian school spending a day of mourning for a foreign president. I can’t imagine what comparable event there might be today. Yet, to me, it demonstrates how Canadians have always mourned with Americans during their times of tragedy. This has not changed…through 9/11, the disintegration of space shuttles, and lately the devastation of hurricanes. It proves to me as well the enduring friendship of Canada with the people of the United States…even when we don’t like what they’re doing in the world.

Kennedy’s presidency is really a question mark. It might well have ended in disaster anyway, once he decided to engage in Vietnam. But it’s sad that the US seems to have a predilection for destroying its bright stars just when they’re on the point of illuminating some universal truth.

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Pseudonym of the day: Herculaneum F. Troopers

Monday, November 21, 2005

Being Manjushri

I went to Richmond Hill this weekend for what you might call a mini-retreat. Actually, teachings and an empowerment by Lama Phuntsok. This is the first empowerment I’ve received from Lama Phuntsok, despite having known him and attended his teachings for four years. And, interestingly, he was giving it in Richmond Hill, not in his own centre right here in good old Lunchbucket.

I don’t know what’s behind this. Except that the centre in Richmond Hill is quite active, populated by a group of Chinese women, mostly, who are devoted to their devotion.

What I mean by that is this: most westerners are attracted to teachings. They want to hear the dharma, learn the doctrine and philosophy of Buddhism. In contrast, most Asians grew up with this. They know it by osmosis. Or perhaps some of them don’t even really know it. What they know is the ritual. The devotional side of Buddhism. I think many westerners are baffled by the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism. And with good reason, you might say. Buddhism is the most rationalistic religion in the world. Tibetan Buddhism, on the other hand, is encrusted with jewels, gods and goddesses, incense, candles, bells, implements, drums and cymbals and blaring discordant horns. Chanting! Mantras, mudras, mumbo-jumbo. And at the end you are reminded that all of this is like a magician’s illusion.

Which brings me to the empowerment. This was an Anuttarayoga empowerment, one of the higher tantras…permission to generate oneself as the deity Manjushri. Manjushri is, among other things, representative of wisdom. He brandishes both a sword, which slices through ignorance and delusion, and a book. There it is again…the word. That’s one of things that Dharma is…the word of the Buddha. And ultimately, each deity, each protector, has his or her own set of words…syllables, really…which is the mantra. The mantra is a sort of magical incantation…syllables of power…but more than that, because emptiness pervades all, the mantra is also the essence of the deity. It is the essence of the Dharma. The mantra is the speech of the Buddha which is not different from the mind of the Buddha which is not different from the body of the Buddha. Which is not different from our own body, speech and mind.

The empowerment is a process by which the supplicants, us, request and receive permission to visualize ourselves as this deity. In effect, we are practising what it would be like to be Manjushri (in this case), to have the purity of his view, his mind, his compassion, his omniscience.

Tibetan Buddhism is a complicated affair. I’ve found that virtually everyone has gaps in their knowledge. You need years and an intensity of dedication just to achieve some awareness of all the paths and byways available. That’s why, very often, conversations revolve around what practice someone is undertaking. Not so much the homilies of the Buddha, but the specific ritual or focus one is using to uncover the truth of those homilies. There are some practices which are common to every yoga and every tradition, but after that, it seems that each path is quite individual.

Shit, I don’t know what I’m talking about. At the moment I’m having trouble formulating consecutive thoughts.

What I’m trying to say is, Manjushri practice is one of these. It belongs to the class called tantra, or Vajrayana…the diamond path, the indestructible path. I’ve had some difficulty determining what the tantric path is all about. In spite of the fact that I’ve received several tantric empowerments. This is what I mean when I say it’s complicated. Sure, I’ve read all kinds of stuff, but somehow I haven’t quite grasped it.

You need a teacher, and this past weekend Lama Phuntsok demonstrated precisely why. Vajrayana practice has two stages called the generation stage and the completion stage. I’ve read this lots of times. Didn’t get it. Lama Phuntsok, in a few words made it clear. The generation stage means generating yourself as the deity. Starting with visualizing yourself as the deity. The goal is to gradually refine this visualization, add detail, make it as real and brilliant as you possibly can. Simultaneously, you are also visualizing the same deity in front of you. Front generation and self-generation. You work with the qualities of the deity. Compassion. Wisdom. You work through your own afflictive emotions and feelings, with the awareness that you are inseparable from the deity, that you have all the same qualities as the deity. That you are in fact the deity. That’s the generation stage. At least that’s what I understand of it. I read this lots of times. It took Lama Phuntsok’s words to make it clear to me. Then the completion stage begins when you recognize this self-generation as not different from the deity and all his magnificent qualities and you begin to perform the kinds of actions that deities are capable of. You begin to develop the power they possess.

Sorry, I’m babbling.

Because, you see, when it comes right down to it, it’s imperative to recognize that this deity, Manjushri, has no solid existence! We’re imagining it! We’re creating it with our thoughts! Just like we create everything else. We create Manjushri and the process is no different from the one by which we create our own self. The only difference is that we imagine Manjushri as the essence of wisdom and compassion, while normally we imagine ourselves as imperfect, miserable, selfish, fallible, angry, happy, full, forlorn, covetous. And that’s the lesson we’re supposed to learn. It’s the reason the Buddha is omniscient. It’s the reason the Buddha has limitless compassion and wisdom. And generosity. And equanimity. So we imagine ourselves that way and call it Manjushri.

Later, if you can stand it, I’ll write more about how these Chinese ladies in Richmond Hill do their ritual.

Song of the Day

You Can't Hurry Love by Diana Ross & the Supremes (or Phil Collins later).

Monday, November 14, 2005

Song of the Day

Rip van Larry sez: the last thing I remember was sometime in the 70's
Ride Captain Ride by Blues Image

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bruce Springsteen: Early Avatar of Rock & Roll

Remembrance Day

I can no longer pass Remembrance Day without shedding a tear. As years go by you hear more and more stories of how these wars affected people, nations, families. The horror that so many lived through, and died in, is virtually incalculable. It’s tragedy and courage which is incomprehensible to me, who never had to endure this sort of thing.

I believe there are only five veterans of WWI still alive in Canada. All over 100 years old. That war occurred nearly 100 years ago. The war to end all wars. It’s hard to comprehend the conditions those soldiers must have experienced. And WWII is sixty years old this year, a whole new level of horror built of steel and chemicals and atomic energy. Human flesh was never meant to stand against this. It’s remarkable that human spirit can do so.

Still, I heard another important bit of war history on CBC today. The number of US soldiers killed in Vietnam was eventually surpassed by the number of veterans who returned from Vietnam and ultimately committed suicide.

One final thing. The mayor of Toronto said something profound this morning at the remembrance service there: That phrase, “the war to end all wars”, still resonates with us. What we need is a peace to end all wars.


Patrice Desbiens - Poet Laureate of Timmins

I don’t listen to Shelagh Rogers as often as I used to listen to Peter Gzowski. (Actually, I never listen to anybody. Listening is not one of my strong points. People want to tell me things, people want to order me around…I become querulous and uncooperative…Maybe that’s why I don’t pay much attention to Shelagh, she’s too soft and agreeable for me, too adoring of those she interviews…)

All this to preface a piece she ran (“interview” by David Gutnick) on Patrice Desbiens, a bilingual poet from Timmins who apparently has become a star in Quebec, the best-known poet in the province, perhaps one of the greatest French language poets living. He resists interviews…has issues…but his eventual conversation with Gutnick was interesting. Gutnick, trying to get him to talk, asked him to read a poem. Desbiens replied, “I don’t feel like reading a poem.” Gutnick asked him how he comes to write his poems. Desbiens asked, “How does a hockey player score a goal?”

Here’s what I got from the CBC website: Patrice Desbiens latest book: Desarmé is published by Les Editions Prise De Parole in Sudbury, Ontario.

I really haven’t been reading much poetry lately. (Actually, I never read poetry. Reading poetry is not one of my strong points. People poeticate at me, people want to lift my soul from the depths of depths of depths of…I become somnolent and uncommunicative…Maybe that’s why I’m in the Yoni School…)

Where was I? Oh yeah, Desbiens…I think I’m gonna try to find some of his stuff. Practise my Français. Oui oui…ja ja…nay nay I say…bonjour qu’est-ce qui se passe?

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Pseudonym of the day: Roman Lint

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Song of the Day

Smoke From a Distant Fire by the Sandford-Townsend Band

(Update June 5/07: Smoke From a Distant Fire is one of my favourite pop songs of all time. It has everything you could want, all in three and a half minutes: a memorable riff, equally memorable refrain, ear-catching lyrics (Don't let the screen door hit you on your way out...!), both a guitar and a sax solo, a breakdown in the middle, call and response (song title over and over with variations) as the song comes to a close, and a tight, firm ending phrase. Perfection.)

or alternatively
Lightning's Striking Again by Lou Christie

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Spam spam spam spam

Another email spammer's name: Rapists V. Consumption

Don't you just hate the ones that start with, Hello Dear, or Dear One.


Song of the Day

Land Down Under by Men at Work

Cosmicat Rubs Up Against the Buddha's Leg

I have a rather elaborate Buddhist altar in one end of our rec room, and not far from this is Cosmicat’s favourite resting place, a love seat which Suzy Homemaker brought from her old house and which was Cosmicat’s favourite place there as well. It took quite some time for her to figure out that it was the same place in a different location, but now it’s where she is most likely to be found.

For some reason I have noticed this more especially in the last few days and have decided that this is, as the Buddhists say, auspicious. Cosmicat likes to hang out and rest and nap and dream where the Buddhas are.

Tonight I decided to do a short Chenrezig practice. Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion. Of course, Cosmicat was there. As soon as I entered the room, she was watching me. And as I lit the candles, offered the incense and performed prostrations, there she was…underfoot so to speak, demanding attention. When I sat down on my meditation cushion, she interposed herself between me and the little table on which I keep my prayers and literature. As cats do, she rubbed her cheeks against whatever was available and finally climbed up onto the table.

Then, after I had rubbed her head with the Dharma book, she took an inordinate interest in my mala (rosary). She wanted to play, of course, because the mala has little dangling bits that she would be attracted to, but I figured a mala was about the best thing possible.

They say it is beneficial to recite mantras into the ears of animals, planting seeds for future lives. Cosmicat received a rainbow shower of Manis tonight as I recited the practice, and indeed she sat still for all of it.

When I was done I picked her up and took her to the altar, showing her all the images and statues, and reciting the mantra of each.

Shakyamuni Buddha: Tadyatha om muni muni maha muniye svaha

Medicine Buddha: Tadyatha om bekhandze bekhandze maha bekhandze radzaya samudgate svaha

Chenrezig: Om mani padme hum

Vajrasattva: (long one) Om Vajrasattva samaya manupalaya Vajrasattva denopatistha dido me bhava sutokayo me bhava supokayo me bhava anorakto me bhava sarva siddhi me prayatsa sarva karma tsutsame tsitam shriyam kuru hung ha ha ha ha ho bhagavan sarva tathagata vajre mame muntsa vajre bhava maha samaya sattva ah hum phat

Tara: Om tare tuttare ture svaha

Cosmicat listened carefully to them all. But she seemed to like Chenrezig’s and Vajrasattva’s the best.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Googling Larry Keiler

OK, so I googled myself. Took several hours to clean up the mess. You'll all be pleased to know that Larry Keiler doesn't exist. Anywhere. Except right here.

And a good thing too. Last thing I need is a visit from the Canubian Revenue Agency.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Spam spam spam spam spam

How about this name purported to be the Sender of a spam email having something to do with software: Ellen H. Syphilizing

Edmonton...Part 3

What is there to do in Edmonton on a Saturday afternoon at the end of Oktober?

Well, if the weather is nice, which it was this past weekend, although a little chilly, you can go up to Whyte Ave. and the Strathcona section of town and hang out with superannuated hippies (like me) and hardy western patio latté sippers bookstore browsers art gallery appraisers.

Or you can go to West Edmonton Maul. Been there. Done that. Got the sweatshirt. (I’m not joking. A few years ago, I had a sweatshirt specially embroidered with those exact words at the West Edmonton Maul.)

If you’re from out of province it’s almost obligatory that you engage in some kind of shopping. Why? No provincial sales tax! So I did. I bought two things, big ticket items as they say.

One: my new cell phone. A little early for this one. The old one was working fine, but the battery was beginning to seem a little iffy. Off to Telus downtown, a block away from my hotel. This turned out not to be such a big ticket item, though, because (unlike DT) I signed up for three years, since I need it for my other work anyway. Cost me 50 bucks (no sales tax but still the infernal VAT, or GST as those placid Canucks call it). However, I had to go through technohell to program it. Or rather the inexperienced sales clerk/Saturday manager went through technohell, because for some reason the phone had been previously programmed for Alberta of all places and needed to be reformatted or otherwise dumped in an acid bath so that it would respond to an Ontario accent. And after that I discovered that none of the speed dial or Mike numbers had been transferred to the new phone and so I spent a good portion of the next 2 days doing this by hand after basically figuring out how to work the damn phone by trial and error because the manual’s a piece of crap.

Two: an iPod. See, over the last couple of years I’ve downloaded small stacks of Buddhist teachings from the Internet. I won’t say Buddhist monks/teachers are long-winded. But many of these files are too long to fit onto a CD. What to do? They’re taking up space while I decide to listen to them as I type up my weekly blogette. So I bought an iPod. Oddly enough, the installation of software to my computer went well. But not well enough. Something was not quite working. A day later, the iPod informed me it needed to be reformatted as well. Restored was the word, I think. Restored? It’s brand new! The Sistine Chapel needs restoration! The Roman Catholic Church needs restoration…(sorry, that was reformation wasn’t it?) Not my brand new iPod. But sure enough, after being restored it began operating just as all the pdf userguide tutorial help pages assured me it was supposed to. Now I have my ears iPlugged with Dharma. Yeah, I’ve put some music on it too.

Edmonton...Part 2

Flying is no fun anymore. Was it ever?

The Air Canada people are pleasant enough. But now you have to pay for everything…even the utterly inadequate pieces of navel lint they’ve been passing off as pillows for years. And it’s not as if Air Canada was WestJet, offering cheap fares in return for cheap service. We, the band, are apparently forced to use Air Canada because it is the only airline left that allows us to get our equipment on board without the hassle of having to send it by cargo plane (ie a whole separate trip), but I fear this will change in the near future too.

The Buddhist smoker is obliged to practise infinite patience. One of the six perfections.

I will say one thing. Security and all that blather was less blathersome this time around. Everyone is getting used to the new normal. In other words, no one is questioning the insanity of it all.

The new terminal at Hawgtown Internutsified Hairport is like something out of Arthur C. Clarke. I don’t think I need to say anymore. When I walk around there I feel like an alien just in from Alpah Centauri.

But I have an example of how complex things sometimes fall out of synch. Park’N Fly. In the new terminal they have these little phone kiosks that are supposed to connect you with various services…transport, hotel, what-not. Parkiefly is one of these. When you arrive at arrivals you go out to the kiosk, press the appropriate smudge on the screen and plug in to Parkersfly. The idea is to let them know you’re home and want your car back, assuming it hasn’t been trashed by unscrupulous employees and their shady associates. (An event which occurred to us several years ago.) To do this, you have to punch in a code number which you received when you abandoned your vehicle to the vicissitudes of Spark’N Pry. Unfortunately, the spiffy kiosks with the touchscreens and 21st century telephone receivers have no number pad. So you have to hang up from the kiosk and go find the pay phone and use the 1-800 number. Then wait for the bus. Then…then…then…about an hour after arriving in Hawgtown, I was finally on my way back to the arrivals level to pick up the equipment being guarded by my brother.

Finally, speaking of kiosks. At the Edmonton Wilderness Trek Airport, they’ve apparently instituted new procedures guaranteed to extend your stay. Now you have to go and arrange your tickets at the ticket kiosk. OK, fine. That’s assuming there’s someone there to tell you that this is what you have to do, which in this case there was, although she wasn’t all that clear about it. But after you’ve done that, you still have to go to the check-in counter. Why, I don’t know. And then! Sometimes you’re not in the system (like 4 members of our party of 9). In this circumstance, you have to go to a different check-in counter, labelled Triangle. Why it’s called Triangle I don’t know, except that it means you’ve been triangulated out of your seat by technological overlap.

Meanwhile, the line of unfortunates waiting to submit themselves to the indignities of aluminum tube travel stretches approximately half the length of the terminal. Have you noticed that our culture of queueing is really beginning to resemble postwar Europe? Again...bodhisattva patience required and an uncanny ability to not notice these things, or at least disregard them, not to mention accepting them as inevitable consequences of this degenerate age.

Travellers! ID this. ID that. IDeedyDooDoo.

Edmonton...Part 1

I know this is old news already, but most of my life works that way. Always several days behind.

Last weekend I was in Edmonton playing for the yearly Oktoberfest to Rocktoberfest at the Shaw Conference Centre. The other band was Trooper. I have to say, Trooper has got to be one of  the best rock bands in the country. Yeah, a bunch of old guys (I know, DT, what is old, anyway? Not as old as Mick Jagger maybe, but relatively speaking…old…old as rock…old as mountains, the rarefied heights of rock…brought down to earth and a picturesque valley in Alberta viewed from a glassed-in escalator winding down the side of the hill…I’ll never forgive you for denying me the use of the phrase “old guys”….)

Where was I? Oh yeah, Trooper…old guys who are masters at putting on their show…I remember seeing the Trews last year (and they were at the Halloween show this year too), watching their finale and thinking, “This is old stuff…I saw Lighthouse (or Steppenwolf or Alice Cooper or Springsteen or any number of bands) doing exactly this thing thirty years ago. For that matter, Trooper is probably doing pretty much what they did thirty years ago too…but then it was original and interesting and it was theirs. It was not Trooper imitating Spike Jones. Or even Elvis.

Anyway, these guys are great. If you get a chance to see Trooper, go go go. If you are of a certain age, you will sing along with every song.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mental Blog Repair 1

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