Sunday, November 30, 2008

a day for the ravens

With all the warm weather recently, Yellowknife has been sort of white-washed or grey-painted as each day, overcast skies dump layer after layer of snow on the ground and keep temperatures from reaching the nose-tip numbing bitterness I'm used to this time of year.

As a result, there seems to be a colourlessness to the days, like the visual volume is turned down or Ned Flanderized. There is nothing bold and no contrast out there.

I went for a bit of a drive Saturday and maybe due to all the white covering the city, the propensity and activities of the ravens really stood out to me.

I am fascinated by the birds. I did some research a while back and it turns out young ravens are some of the most curious creatures currently on Earth and will try anything once. They're very attracted to shiny objects. But something happens to a raven over the course of its life... Old ravens become neophobic and are terrified to try anything unusual.

I wonder what it is?

The slightly gusty Saturday was truly a day for the ravens.

Pulling through the Timmy's drive-thru, a furry bird with his share of scruffy feathers under his beak, had his neck tucked in to its body, huddled on the ground next to the spot where drivers picked up their food goods from the window. The raven looked as if it was studying how this process worked -- watching as people rolled up to the cashier and exchanged shiny things for pieces of food -- some of which he had probably tasted while picking through the contents of the dumpster behind the building. It bobbed up and down as each car left and new one took its place. He looked like he was really enjoying himself, like a little kid that takes to a game and won't let you stop because it gets such a kick out of it. The raven eyed up the driver. He opened his mouth, as if to mimic the drivers speech. I wanted to jump outside, scoop him up, sit him in the passenger seat and explain how the whole thing worked.

Anyways, I drove away and actively searched ravens out as I meandered through town.

Some of the black birds crow-hopped through parking lots, skipping from one spill in the snow to another to taste test. Others ransacked a bag of garbage beside the highway, like hyenas picking apart a long dead zebra.

I chuckled as every second street light or telephone pole or building corner or ledge held an inquisitive raven, just hanging out, watching scattering and scurrying humanity below, calmly from its detached viewpoint above. I imagined them scrawling observations on notepads, jotting down sketches of what was going on below them, learning something new about those goofy two-legged mammals that did all those crazy things.

I really admire the intelligence and humour of ravens -- the way they work together to solve problems, like breaking into dumpsters. I've watched them play tricks on people in winter. After a big snow fall, they will wait out on a particularly snowy ledge and when a person or another animal walks underneath unsuspecting, they will dump some snow down on them. I can swear a see a smile and a laugh after. I've seen ravens reek havoc on sled dogs, stealing their food after the handlers scoop food into their bowls. The dogs go crazy, tied to their small homes with ropes and the ravens hop away with their food locked in their beaks. Ravens stash golfballs at the golf course (it's not a myth -- I've seen it first hand.) 

They can also mimic sounds. After a day full of sirens and ambulances and fire trucks and speeding tickets one downtown afternoon last week, I was walking down Range back to work and heard a raven -- perched on a rail in the parkade -- sounding out the siren ("boop"  "boop"). It was so strange! There is a raven behind my parent's house in the summer that sounds like a frog. 

Watching these birds, I started to believe that if I had to face off with a raven in a chess match, I would probably get creamed in four moves. And when I left to go get a bite from the pantry, his buddies would have pillaged it.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel like ravens are also becoming more brazen these days. I never remembered seeing a raven standing on a vehicle when I was a kid. Nowadays, they scratch their feet all over the roofs of cars or prop up on bumpers or hitches. And they don't run as quickly as they used to when you approach. That's not true. They do run, or hop away, now. But they used to fly. I think all their note-taking on lampposts is to blame.

I wondered what ravens ate before there was garbage. I wondered where ravens went to die.

Making my way downtown, I watched the ravens swoop into the air madly with updrafts of wind sweeping up the side of Northern Heights. They dipped and dived and then -- whoosh -- back up five stories or so when their wings opened to take in the air. They played. They chased each other like World War I planes dogfighting. I've always wanted to feel the exhilaration of that flight in the wind, as they do at the cliffs by Jackfish Lake or Back Bay in the summer time. It's always something I've wanted to know.

And after seeing all this adventure and resourcefulness and activity on such a bland looking afternoon, I suddenly became very jealous of the ravens, as I sat at a shiny red light in downtown Yellowknife, stuck to the ground in my 21 year old 4-Runner.

Shiny things were not attractive to the young man on Saturday afternoon in Raven Town.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

becoming something i never thought i would

Big day for me today. I got a call from a local business asking me about a friend they were considering for a job.

Can't help but laugh. Yes, me. The man who searched so recently, so desperately for references just a year or so ago had now become one. 

I think that was one of the oddest conversations I've ever had. You don't want to lie and you want to help the applicant because you think they will genuinely do a good job, and it's just bizarre trying to talk about the helpfulness of the applicant without sounding too eager, or douchebaggy.

Anyways, it went well, although I started to ramble and talk in circles and tell a horrible Barry White joke that I'm not sure was appropriate (my friend is applying for a computer help desk job over the telephone and I said he'd smooth over any frustrated caller with his deep Barry White voice).

"Hey baby... Ohhh Yeaahhhh... Now I just want you to turn that router off. Yeah, just like that.... Now go on and take off them pants... Ohhh Yeaaahhhh baby...."

Not sure if there's some kind of reference call protocol or etiquette.

Good luck, Mac D.

Monday, November 24, 2008

day after tournament torture

Back from Hay River and forgetting about the destroyed left arm that was crunched into the boards backwards away from my body by a large defenseman as I was reaching for a puck; the charlie horse above my ass from getting slew-footed in front of the net Friday night and having my pant pad jab me; a burnt left hand brought on by a brief bout of fried-chicken deprived shakes on Saturday night that turned a large cup of French Vanilla coffee into a canister of napalm that left a mark on me; and my Mr. Burns legs that had to be hefted into Slader's truck with my arms, I feel great.

Four games in three days -- five if you count Thursday. Lotsa, lotsa hockey. Tied the first, won the next two and then lost the last game by one. Should have been different that last one, but I missed a gimme and two other beauty chances. It felt great to grind out a couple games though, particularly after becoming so accustomed to losses so far this year.

On a personal note, I felt like I played really well the first two games, but completely got my ass kicked in the third and fourth games. I couldn't backcheck and I ended up watching a lot of goals get scored while coasting in panting at the blue line. I've been trying to work on my all-around play since getting duty at centre, but those two games were definitely a low point. I lost my will. It's funny how that happens. When you're down by a goal, tied, or up by one, everything seems so much harder. But when you get up by three, you feel like you could skate for days.

Also, it was kind of neat to play in front of people. For our games against Hay River, it felt like a lot of the town came out and kids were running around with hockey sticks, playing makeshift games with crushed up beer cans. During some big 'A' division games (I should qualify our tournament -- we played 'B') the bleachers were nearly packed. It definitely felt like a community event and I'm sure all the players appreciated it. I love that arena too. It looks and smells old. But vintage old, not decrepit.

The weekend was definitely not only about hockey though, as Hay River and the boys we picked up to play with us once again proved more than hospitable -- I'm gonna have to get some memory foam pillows after staying in the guest room a friend's mom prepared Friday night. Hay Riverites know how to party and each time I've been there for this tournament or for baseball, there has never been a shortage of things to do. This year, it was rockin barefeet at a house party, tossing gloves and the odd empty beer can into a ceiling fan and trying to control where they went, and watching a mortified young lady get razzed after she "plunked a deucey" that plugged the toilet.

The five and a half hour drive back to Yellowknife was painful but not just from the hockey torture. There were a few times I hurt from laughing.

Monumental human questions were posed like "Where did the saying lukewarm come from?" or "If you're last name was Gibson, would you call your kid Giblet?"

Mindy and I spent an hour of the drive deliriously creating the fictional life of Dwarfton Dwarfton III, from upper-Dwarfton in the Province of Dwarfton. He became the 45th President of the United States -- and first president dwarf -- amongst many other things. He carries an axe and traps things and loves Battlestar Gallactica. He has seventeen brothers and sisters, all named Dwarfton Dwarfton. 

Also, I have a new favourite accent, loosely based on a guy named Bill Gibson, who Slader and Keegs impersonated earlier in the weekend and then Mindy and I over-slaughtered: "Let's play some heeeee-key."

The best/worst though was the Grey Cup broadcast, which although entertaining, featured the worst selection of ads ever assembled. The small local station from Montreal must have only gotten a few minutes to sell ad space, because they had just three commercials throughout the entire four hour broadcast... and two were for radio programs on their station. The other was an ad for Brault and Martineau, some furniture company in Quebec who -- I had singed into my brain for life -- "take care of you." 

By the end of the Grey Cup, I could repeat the ad nearly verbatim. We began placing bets on what order they would play the ads.

It was demonic. It felt like some Satanic plot to wear down the customer. I was starting to think homicide. I felt like anyone tuning into this broadcast would back me up and testify on my behalf, that these three people (two hosts and one voice guy) needed to be stopped. We talked about how both radio personalities and the furniture ad guy would be found dead and no one would tie the murders together until someone who listened to the broadcast (most likely driven to check themselves in to an insane asylum or something) phoned in and explained the whole ordeal.

The Montreal Alouettes lost the 96th Grey Cup 22 - 14 to the Calgary Stampeders last night. In a completely unrelated story, 73 Brault & Martineau stores were firebombed across the province...

A few of the best lines pulled from the weekend:

"How would you feel if the porno you starred in was only being sold for $4.95? How are you supposed to take that?" - Binio after an ad for adult toys and videos (starting at just $4.95!!!) on Sirius radio, somewhere between Kakisa and Enterprise.

"I killed a girl and I liked it."  - parody of that Katie Perry song. The running joke of the tourney about Mac T's 1984 blunder. (I really do feel like Satan is probably fluffing my syphilis pillows on the bed my mouth is starting to make for myself in hell.)

"That was my first goal in 15 years." - Slader after popping the game-winner against the Tlicho Warriors, his first goal since the minor hockey days.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Yes, Wayne. Herbiberous is feeling most excellent again.

Hey all you out there on the interweb. I know the last post was sort of a tonal shift here on Slingin Lingo, and for that I apologize. You do not come here for sad rants. You come here for corny jokes.

As well, to address the declining number of posts, I'm feeling a little burnt out when I get home, and after sitting in front of a computer all day, writing words, words, words, and trying to fix 'em together coherently in an orderly fashion to purty up my stories, sometimes the last thing I want to do is turn on the computer and write. Sometimes I'm finding my brain is drying up of ideas worse than an old lady's... umm... mouth after smoking a big doobie? (I also apologize to anyone I haven't responded to through email. I seem only to be capable of responding in two sentence, facebook wall posts... It's kind of pathetic.)

Anyways, I just spent a very satisfying week with friends, past, present, future, scored a beauty at hockey tonight (amazing breakaway pass from PH) and am set to head out to Hay River for a hockey tournament this weekend with a stellar group of compadres. Things are looking up and I'm starting to get that bounce back in the step.

I hope this weekend rejuvenates the old bones here and I come back an energetic young biberous.

Party On!

Friday, November 14, 2008

journey outside the biberous oil can

Indulge me for a few moments, kiddies, while we take a little trip.

This involves getting outside the characters characterized characteristically on this here blog -- the ones you have grown to laugh with (hopefully). Yes, let's leave the slightly Costanza-esque Herbiberous and the always cantankerous Oil Can behind for a just a few paragraphs and let us traverse into parts unknown.

It's presently November 14 and I can't think of a more depressing day of the year (other than the literal darkest day - Dec. 21). Winter has finally settled in, every day gets shorter and the mercury won't rise again for six more months.

Earlier this evening, over wings and a beer, I couldn't kick the restless feeling. It doesn't feel like I'm doing anything new or else I've just sunken into the predictable work-afterwork activity-home routine and can't break from it.

And I think it may be evident to you from this blog -- my life and the things I'm writing can't be as interesting as they used to be a couple months ago... I mean, Burton Cummings for fuck sakes. What is that all about?

In Iqaluit, I was encountering something new with every venture out the door, with every conversation at a coffee shop, with every bite of food. New thoughts and entertaining stories bursted out from nothing, from mundanity. A drive from the river to Apex filled me with excitement. That's why I started this thing, because I had so much to write about and many of the people I wanted to share it with in Yellowknife.

Now I'm back and the feeling of adventure is definitely not something I'm getting in Yellowknife right now. Call it fatigue from familiarity. But I find that even while I'm learning new and interesting things at work every day -- like how tuberculosis is more a social disease than medical, due to its higher rates of infection in poorer populations that tend to have overcrowded and poorly ventilated housing; or how this kooky thing we call government works -- I'm still finding myself at home at the end of the night and my days kind of just look like blah. I'm coming home tired with no funny stories to tell.

It feels like if someone I don't know comes up and starts talking to me, I don't have the patience to oblige in conversation and I kind of kindly just walk away. It's as if I don't need to know this person, because I already know enough persons here. But then I'll have nights at the Monkey Tree where I'll shake hands all night but not talk to anybody for more than 30 seconds.

Tonight at the Elks, this old guy walked over to me and the Lion and started telling a story about working for the city in Prince Rupert and how they made him work outside the liquor store landscaping and on hot days people would say "Hey, so-and-so, you're working hard. Here, have a drink." and he'd say "Okay." and so he'd punch in sober in the morning and clock out drunk at the end of the day, and when his superiors found out, they moved him to somewhere he wouldn't be able to get a drink: the graveyard. The story was great, and he laughed big time after the punch-line, and I laughed too. And it's not something I do enough here. I don't listen to peoples' stories. I get too cozy doing the same-old same-old because it's so easy and I gravitate toward laziness. But I've had way too many shitty walk homes from the Monkey Tree cursing myself for not being creative enough to find challenging or new ways to spend my Friday nights.

I do not have the attitude I have when I'm traveling when I'm home. If I meet someone from out of town, I say hey and tell them where to go and that's it. When I'm traveling, I have time for anyone.

I love this place but...

This attitude has to change.

Or I think it's time to leave.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

celebrity look-a-likes (down on your luck version)

Just saw a commercial promoting Burton Cumming's new album. Kind of sad, looks like some ass kiss America, remember I was the guy who wrote American Woman crap.

Plus, buddy looks right out of it on the commercial. (This isn't from the commercial, but it's close. Just think more stubble.)

Guess who's probably not getting any groupie love after the show?

I was a little disturbed to see a Canadian icon looking this way, I won't lie. 

I have this weird thing I think I got from my mom where I compare things constantly, so I got to thinking, who does he look like here?

And here are our candidates:

A down-and-out Jake 'the Snake' Roberts...

Intercontinental Twinkie and crack champion... too soon? Eww, I feel bad about that one. I'm sorry. Cheap joke.

Or the hedgehog himself, Ron Jeremy...

This guy has handled more beaver than a 1800s Hudson Bay Company fur trader.

I'm torn... I can't decide. I need help. 

I will do my darnedest to attach a poll here. If I get enough response, maybe I'll start making this a running feature.

If I don't, well I'm sorry for wasting your time. You can get back to downloading adult videos...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

hyperbole hilarity: the demonization of the plastic bag

I did a story a couple weeks ago about the GNWT preparing to give nearly every resident of the NWT a reusable shopping bag to try to curb plastic bag use.

Good idea, right? I don't think anyone would dispute that weaning ourselves away from plastic bag consumption is a good thing.

I did a little research while writing up the story, just to see what kind of opposition there is out there to the old plastic bag. I was overwhelmingly grateful to stumble upon

It is noble in hyperbole. Beautifully ridiculous in symbolism. Unintentional in comedy.

Each time you refresh the homepage, a different picture from the gallery pops up. And the pictures with their cutlines are some of my favourite things ever in the whole wide world.

The cutline on the photo below goes something like: Plastic bag blots out the sun.

Kind of dramatic, don't you think?

The cutline for the following picture is something like: Plastic bag spoils view of San Fransisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

Ah... the perfect picture. Now, I'll just click the button and... Oh, you little fucking plastic bag. Get out of here! Get on! Shoo! You ruined everything!

I love it! The website is so great. They completely demonize these troublemaking inanimate objects, like they are the scourge of the Earth, like some kind of evil footsoldier army sent out by plastic Hitler to wreak havoc on crappy photographers around the globe. They'd make you think the minute you left your home, a handful of plastic bags would sneak in and strangle and suffocate everyone you've ever loved.

These photos actually do the opposite for me. I kind of actually sympathize for the poor down-and-out bag, criticized and decried by all. These sad, aimless, anywhere-the-wind-blows vagabonds, that don't have a place on this planet.

They're called litter. Garbage. Trash. They're empty. They are stepped on. They are used by society and then tossed away.

A beach bum... What's a sad sack to do in this mixed-up world?

Next time you see a bag on the ground, give it a hand. Pick it up, ask how it's doing, and maybe buy it a coffee...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

i'm on youtube!!!

I don't know what to say (tear rolling down face).

My buddy Neilio told me about a video he posted of my friend Dizzle doing push-ups at a slo-pitch tourney earlier this summer. I looked it up and there it was. 

It's so bizarre. I'm so honoured just to share the same (cyber)space as the dramatic chipmunk and Star Wars kid and two girls, one cup reactions.

I love that I can now be found on my favourite time-waster. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

congrats Mr. Obama

I have to say, I've never enjoyed watching an elderly person get so ferociously beat up and pummeled.

Apparently, Barack Obama also enjoys watching 62 million-plus beat a 72-year old man to a pulp.

Congratulations, Mr. Obama.

With the masses of people crowded in parks and streets around the States and the world, with tears running down faces, I believe he's filled a great many with genuine hope. And there's really nothing a white guy sitting in front of a laptop in snowy Yellowknife, NWT can add about the significance of a black man being elected President that hasn't been said already by the media or pundits or jubilant Americans. I agree with Jon Stewart, that this was the first true "show don't tell" moment of equal opportunity in American history.

Thumbs up, America. Hey, you're not so bad after all.

Although, I don't know if we all should be celebrating so quickly.  If we are to believe everything we are being told, these are pretty hopeless times. The man has quite a task in front of him, but meh... the hell with worrying, I'm sure he knows more about what lies ahead for this world than anybody else. I'm gonna go play some X-Box...

Ooh, before that - five quick things:

The best headline to come from the election (as a co-worker pointed out earlier today)
From Ultimas Noticias in Caracas, Venezuela: Un negro en la Casa Blanca

I want to start a band now, only so that our first album can be called: Un negro en la Casa Blanca

Second: Hopefully this is the last we hear from 'The Sarah Palin' in a long while. The doomsday device needs to go back into the shop for a while for some retooling.

Third: Canada looks awfully backwards now beside the 'progressively liberal' US. Whodathunkit?

Fourth: If they would hurry up with that recount in North Carolina and give it to Obama, I win 20 clams.

Fifth: I want to preemptively trademark this headline for when Obama finds himself in a tough situation.

Barack and a hard place


Monday, November 3, 2008

bad habits

I've been told by many that I need to stop spitting. Apparently, it's a disgusting habit and very unbecoming. I counter that I have to -- subconsciously basing that on a perceived genetical predisposition to loogie-ing due to the rather large nasal protrusion that calls my face home.

However, I've lately been forced to re-evaluate this quick-to-spit attitude. On more occasions than I can count on one hand in the last three months, I've walked outside whilst horking loudly, and let loose with a big nasty goober just as a pretty girl walks by. It's not cool. It's happened too many times not to be some kind of divine sign. And, I mean, that's got to be the worst first impression a guy can make.

My spitting image?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

glitches, bitches

This probably goes on a little too long, but I can't help but laugh when I watch this.

Bob Saget?

I wonder what these guys do for a living? Also, I think I want them as friends, because they would most likely make me feel a lot funnier than I probably am.