Tuesday, July 31, 2007

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the wedding...

Lately, my wife and I seem to have a knack for missing bad parties. We missed a real bust during the Beach Rugby tournament in Agadir over a month ago, and missed another one this Saturday for a cousin's wedding.

It was stiflingly hot in the historic medieval city of Fez. For the part of the wedding that we missed, it was so hot that the guests were uncomfortable, bored, sweating... and getting hungrier by the minute.
Men and women were separated for the proceedings, which was the reason we decided to skip the ceremony. While the women danced and had fun, the men sat, uncomfortable, exhausted, squirming, checking their watches... and getting hungrier by the minute.

Girls just want to have fun, and they did. The men meanwhile, especially two joining families, one conservative Muslim, the other modern and liberal, sussed each other out, sitting and sweating... and sussing... and getting hungrier by the minute.

It wasn't until 1am before the food finally arrived. Moroccans are polite, especially during the special day of someone's wedding. So even starving and waiting hours longer than usual, nobody spoke out of turn and and said, "This sucks, where's the fucking food."

I knew how it worked, and that's the very reason I often cringe at going to Moroccan weddings. Food, if on time, doesn't come until 10pm. 1am would be excruciating.

We made it for the second part of the wedding on the Sunday, where Siham's side of the family threw a bash of their own to make up for the sexual separation of the Bride's conservative family.

It was hot enough to fry an omlet on a dark rock, and guests were told to arrive just in time to really appreciate the midday summer heat. We showed up an hour late. If I could do it again, I'd show up two hours late. The given time was 1pm. Nothing happened until 4pm.

People sat in the meagre shade of the common room, hoping for a gust of air to provide some respite from the suffocating heat.

A blurry family connection owned the giant house. Siham tried to explain, but lost me somewhere between inlaws and nephews and grandparents. In the reception room, elaborate arabic tapestries were carved throughout the ceiling and along the walls.

Some genius decided it wasn't hot enough to have an afternoon wedding meal on the first floor, where people were suffering from the beginning stages of heat stroke. Instead, we went up a floor, where it was a few degrees hotter, and without a huge door to send gusts of wind onto the guests. My legs felt like I'd been forced to wear my pants for a month strait, burning, itchy, sweat-caked, and I'd only been there two hours.

Food was served. I was hungry. There was a lot. First a beef tagine, with almonds and an olive-oil-based onion sauce, later there was a similar chicken tagine with olives. My appetite was appeased. Perhaps the cooks were suffering from heat stroke too, because guests quietly whispered that it wasn't up to the succulent wedding standard they expected.

Whoever planned the food supplies, seemed to have neglected the drink supplies. Hint: In fifty degree heat, people are thirsty. The two one-litre bottles of soda and one bottle of water lasted half a minute at our table of ten. We waited anxiously for fillups that never came. The image of ice cold beer ran through my head, and Western weddings, and air conditioning.

Afterwards, Siham and I went to the local cafe and downed bottles of water and soda. I contemplated buying a cold beer from the nearby supermarket, but didn't.

The evening provided some respite as chairs were set up on the lawn outside. The dancing and clapping crowd in the common room seemed to replace the sun's power with the stuffiness of body heat in an enclosed space.

A Moroccan band bleated horns and pounded hand drums. The bride and groom were carried around the room on Palanquins. Dancing ensued, and continued late into the night.

At least nobody was hungry, and when something ends on a memorable note, all the previous little troubles seem to fade away.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Memory of a childhood friend.

"You have a group invitation."

That's what it said on the top right corner of my facebook info page yesterday. I'd joined other interest groups for schools, sports, etc. But this one wasn't like any other group, it was a memoir group for a friend passed on, "Dave Currie."

I clicked to go to the group, and confirmed that my friend had died. Unfortunately, there weren't many details. From the pictures posted, I figured he died of some sort of brain cancer or tumor as some of the photos showed a large scar from his forehead, around his ear and to his chin. The last pictures showed him bald.

As kids, I remember Dave's curly pate of bright blond hair. I first knew him as a hockey teammate.

When I was ten, Dave moved down the street from us and started attending the same school. We formed an instant friendship. Dave was charismatic. Girls loved him. He was also mischievous and a trouble maker. On more than one Halloween, we could be found running from house to house smashing pumpkins left high on the walls of split level houses. We fished illegally in the Credit River during salmon spawning season.

Around the same age where Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had there adventures, Dave expanded my horizons from my neighbourhood to the entire region of Meadowvale. There wasn't a place we didn't bike off to just for the fun.

He taught me to catch a football better than anyone else in our pickup games, calling me a wuss every time I dropped it until I didn't drop it any more, even his hardest throws.

There was always an electric feeling when I knew I was going to hang with my buddy Dave. I still remember the excitement because I never knew what adventure we would have. Running/trespassing through people's backyards; Skateboarding down steep hills; playing road hockey on his street; spray-painting goalie pads to look like the Maple Leafs; picking up girls (unsuccessfully) at the mall; telling his sister scary stories and seeing her jump a foot in the air when I grabbed her leg and yelled, "AAAHHHH."

Come highschool, Dave moved to the opposite side of Meadowvale. I suppose we became more interested in girls and other activities and grew apart; though we still played hockey on the same team. As with most of my friends, after Highschool we completely went our separate ways. I moved onto University, then to Africa where I've spent most of the last six years and haven't been in touch.

One of my last vivid memories of Dave was at a hockey game. We were about seventeen years old. The referees were terrible! Half of our team was in the penalty box at any given time of the game. During one particularly bad call, the coach was shouting, the players were fuming on the bench, the fans (Parents, buddies, and girlfiends) were pounding the glass in protest. Out of nowhere Dave builds up speed and starts figure skating. He began with a couple pirouettes, followed by a (not so graceful) swan glide with his back foot stretched behind him higher than his ass. There were a couple more pirouttes and a jump twist in the air before he fell down and raised his hands in the air.

The refs and other team stared at him in confusion. Our team went from fuming to cheering and banging on the boards and the fans started clapping and cheering him.

That was Dave. He took a bad situation and gave everyone a great memory. He was always a team player, had a booming slapshot that scared the shit out of goalies, and was full of surprises and jokes.

In another game, we were winning by a huge score - 10-1 or something. I'd set Dave up for a hat trick already (I was a hog so it was rare for me to pass). In the last minute, I spun around with a blind pass and missed Dave by about ten feet behind him. I put my hand up in apology at the terrible pass.

After the game, he came up to me, pretending to be pissed. "Damn Dan, we would have won if you hit me with that pass."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Too sexy!

They're only young once, so you might as well have a good ol' laugh.

By the way, the shirt says, "Hung like a 5 year old." It was a gift from my good friend Lee back in Canada.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NHL schedule 2007

Just as it did last year, the schedule for the NHL in 2007 sucks. In what Bettman described as intensifying divisional rivalries, teams within the same division face off against each other a gut wrenching total of eight times.
Newsflash: It doesn't intensify rivalries, it bores the hell out of viewers. I hate watching the same teams play over and over and over.

Here is how the schedule works: The NHL is divided into two conferences, with three divisions in each conference.

5 teams in same division: Teams play each division rival each eight times - 32 games.
10 teams in same conference but not division play four times each - 40 games
15 teams in other conference, of which ten total games are played. - 10 games.

Since ten games are played outside the conference, five are at home and five are away. So stars like Sydney Crosby, who are likely to sell out crowds no matter where they go, are only allowed to visit any particular cross conference city once approximately every three years, if not less. So for hardcore hockey fans of the fifteen teams out West, only five of them are lucky enough to see Crosby in a home game this year.

Meanwhile, Philidelphia, New Jersey, the Islanders and the Rangers get to see Crosby four times each. If you live in the New York area, you have options of hopping to New Jersey, MSG, or the Island to take him in - a whopping twelve games in that area.

Compared to once every three years in Minnesota, Chicago, Nashville, or San Jose - struggling markets where his presence could really help.

How it should have been...

There should have been five games against divisional rivals, for a total of 20 games.
There should be three games against conference rivals for a total of 30 games.
There should be two games against each cross conference rival, with the extra two games for old rivalries or bonus games that make sense. Toronto-Detroit, Chicago-Montreal, etc.

Otherwise, the schedule doesn't make sense. Someone mentioned teams are upset about travelling out west so much.
Then why is Detroit in the same conference with Western teams? It's okay to screw Detroit on the schedule, but not give an extra ten games on the road to every other NHL team?

The NHL management is incompetent and insensitive to the fans. It's long past time a rival league put these bufoons out of business.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The new RCMP commissioner: is Stephen Harper crazy?

The RCMP has been in the midst of the worst string of bad news in their history.

First there was the case of Mr Arar. The RCMP falsified terrorist information about him, passed off to the USA as fact, and ignored his pleas as he was arrested in the USA, and deported to Syria where he faced incarceration and torture without trial. He was innocent, and worse still, it was found that the RCMP fabricated information to cover up the issue. RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli resigned after providing inconsistent testimony over the Arar inquiry.

Next, it came to light that the RCMP hired a pathalogicial liar as a civilian agent, paid him large quantities of money for cleverly constructed lies, and later erased his prior criminal record by entering him into witness protection program. Under his new identity, he now faces murder charges.

Third, the Pension-fund scandal. Millions of dollars went missing. It is currently under investigation. Still, for the supposed protectors against fraud and theft, to be ripped off themselves, by themselves, is a little shocking.

Fourth - the Air India bombings. Despite the RCMP claiming they knew nothing of the Sikh extremists terror plot, considerable evidence from the recent inquiry proves otherwise. More than one witness has given evidence that they passed on specific intelligence of an impending terrorist attack on an Air India flight. Even more startling is the seeming lack of security for that particlar high-risk flight on that particular day.

The most recent scandal to hit the RCMP is the death of Ian Bush. He was shot in the back of the head while in police detention. Even more startling, is that his arrest was for having an open drink in a public place and providing an officer with a false name. RCMP Constable Koester claims self defense in the incident, citing that he was attacked. An expert has, in what he described as an extremely difficult decision testifying against his colleague, said Constable Koester's version of the facts doesn't fit with the blood splatter evidence at the scene of the crime. The trial is ongoing, however at the very least, it is deeply embarrassing for any police force to have a civilian killed in their custory for a minor violation.

There's no getting around it, the RCMP has its problems. That's not to say it is a lost cause organisation. The RCMP has over 24000 members. Some of those members made a serious mistake with Arar. The head honcho resigned over it. You have to assume others involved were reprimanded and punished accordingly.
While I agree, there needs to be something done, some major ass kicking overhauls, I would stand up and be the first to say I believe the overall ethics and morals of the RCMP is the best in the world. I also believe they work hard trying to serve and protect Canada every day.

Canadian Prime minister Stephen Harper has broken with 135 years of tradition and replaced the disgaced Zacchiareli with a political ally, William Elliot, a bureaucrat with questionable credentials. Even more startling, is that Stephen Harper's friend is an outsider to the force, something that hasn't occurred in the last 135 years of their history. This seems scarily reminiscent of George Bush's attempt to impose his totally unqualified close friend, Harriet Miers, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Should one of the RCMP's responsibilities not be to act as a check on our government's corruption? The nation's highest police force put under the control of the PMs political buddy - what's next? Will the terrorists become so dangerous Canada needs to be declared a police state so Harper can further grab power?

If I were an RCMP officer, I'd be pissed. On the whole, the RCMP is a great organisation that has historically done Canada proud. Tradition is an important part of their history, and Canada's history. Some of the hard working RCMP officers envision themselves one day leading the entire organization. To take that dream away from them, and to impose someone who isn't wanted, is an insult to the 24000 members who, in fact, are responsible for the Prime Minister's life and safety.

If I was Stephen Harper, those would be the last people I wanted to piss off.

Is he crazy?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The crazy pranks of Brock U's Queenston Rez

I wasn't a bad prankster, certainly compared to the guys upstairs in Doherty hall. I gave a few cold shower surprises, taking a glass of ice cold water from my refrigerator, lifting it over the shower curtain and dropping it onto unsuspecting buddies.
Fortunately, our hall got along with the trouble makers from Doherty, who pulled countless fire alarms in the middle of the night. Yeah, that pissed me off. They also like to do tippers, who someone described as garbage pails full of water leaning against the elevator door. Ninth floor, bzzz ding - all over the floor and into the neighbouring rooms. Except there's something else - that wasn't water!

Something fishy is up?
The stinky surprise placed in the ceiling on the ninth floor. These guys really didn't like that floor. An exterminator had to be called before they tracked the stench and disposed of the offending fishy substance.

We had a few clowns on my second year in Queenston.
The secret Santa gift exchange might have been the worst.
One of the naughtier boys on the floor ended up drawing Mr Bondy. An older, married student who wasn't well liked. He creeped out some of the girls. The secret Santa gifts to Mr. Bondy began with a porno of enormous fat-chicks, followed by a big dildo, a bag of dog poop and more unpleasant surprises, all marked - Fuck you from secret santa.
Bong the Banger.
A Korean exchange student, a rake-thin pimply girl, lived next door to me at the very beginning of my second year at Queenston. Her parents visited her the first week, and I recall them screaming at the dons and resident head for placing their lil' princess on a coed floor. She was soon moved to an all-girls floor.
That didn't stop lil princess from visiting Bong, the Korean exchange student who remained on our floor. A few weeks later, and for the remainder of the year, one could hear her moaning and screaming, as good ol' Bong lived up to his name.
One day, ol' Bong was banging, much to his neighbours chigrin. Walls were thin in Queenston, and the voice of a screaming sex-crazed Korean girl could be heard bouncing echoing like an amphitheater.
One day, one of the naughty boys passed by and heard the pleasure-driven screaming. Naugty boy summoned his buddies, and all together they hammered their fists on the door and interrupted Bong's bang. "Way to go Bong, Way to go Bong, Way to go Bong, Yeaaaah Bongster."