Monday, February 28, 2011

Peddling My Wears

The Boat, Fishing, and Leisure show recently wrapped up in our fair city of Antler River. I just love these shows filled with various exhibitors who are trying to get you to buy their products. Of course, they charge admission. I mean, it's only right that we should pay to watch someone peddle their own wares. It's like how people pay good money to wear an article of clothing that is boldly emblazoned with a corporate logo.

Business people aren't stupid. They know that the public will do the advertising for them. The boat show charges $10 a head. Even those who have little or no income are expected to hand over some jack. Seniors and children can fork out $8 and $5 respectively. Children under 6 are not charged admission since they cannot grasp the concept of free enterprise. They think the world and everyone in it should cater to them. They're all in for a rude awakening once they've lived a year past their fifth birthday.

An interesting item that was pitched at this year's show was the Firebuoy. This is a floating lightweight aluminum fire pit! You can have a barbecue or campfire right on the water! I don't know about you, but every single time I'm boating, or canoeing, or swimming, or even sitting in a hot tub, I think. "Gee-whiz. Why can't I have a barbecue or a campfire right here, right now?"

Everybody sing: "Smoke on the water... "

Incidentally, do they pronounce it Fire-boo-ee or Fire-boy? Personally, I like the pronunciation that rhymes with gooey. When someone pronounces it "boo-ee", then I'm certain as to what they're referring to. But if someone says there's a buoy out in the water (and pronounces it "boy"), then I'm likely to start running around looking for a life-boo-ee to throw to the boy who might not be very boo-ee-ant.

But back to the subject of advertising. I can see that publicity, promotion, and plugging is what my blog needs. I must get out there and beat the drum for my interests.

The Oscars were televised last night. If I'd had the foresight, business acumen, moxie, and moolah, then I might have flown out there and tried to convince one of the attendees to stroll down the red carpet with an official item of Snow Shoveling In Canada Evening Wear ®.

As well — being the author of such a noteworthy blog — I could probably have obtained a press pass and interviewed a few of the celebrities. I've heard some of those interviews. The hard-hitting attack style of questioning demonstrated by Mike Wallace is not required. You just need a microphone and the right amount of smarm.

Maybe next year. Oh buoy, I can hardly wait!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ah-Choo! Gemütlichkeit!

Winter is a great season to get together for a dinner, a party, a soirée, or some other social diversion. There are Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s parties, Oscar parties, and St. Patrick’s Day parties. But there’s no need for an excuse. A nice warm fete with friends, food, drink and perhaps some agreeable music seems to always be in order during this frosty interlude.

There is a German word for those fuzzy snuggly moments that one experiences in these distinct winter social gatherings: Gemütlichkeit.

A Wikipedia article describes the word as meaning more than just comfy and cozy. It states, in part, “... rather than merely describing a place that is compact, well-heated and nicely furnished (a cozy room, a cozy flat), Gemütlichkeit connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time”.

One drawback however, to this social warmth is the danger of contracting the dread acute viral rhinopharyngitis. This affliction seems more frequent this time of year, but it is not because of any exposure to the frigid elements. Rather, it’s due to contact with infected people who think nothing of sneezing or coughing in your face during one of the aforementioned shindigs. 

But we can be pro-active and take steps to reduce susceptibility to this illness:

• Drink fluids (especially orange juice)
• Get plenty of exercise (squeezing oranges to get some juice is highly recommended)
• Wash hands frequently (with orange juice, if possible)
• Use saline sprays (or orange juice) to irrigate nasal passages

Remember these tips the next time you have a get-together, like your upcoming annual World Figure Skating Championship party.

This year’s event will take place in Tokyo at Yogi’s Gym, and the competition will be fierce. These competitors are incredible athletes; displaying agility, strength, poise, skill, and impressive butt muscles. Just try to imagine the pressures that these skaters face.

Picture this: here you are, after years of dedication and practice, ready to compete in the most important event in your life. Not only do you have to perform at a top-notch level, but you have to look your absolute best as well. Hairstylists, make-up artists, and fashion designers are consulted in order to make you look as if you stepped off of the front page of Glamour.

You gracefully glide onto the ice to appreciative applause. Some schmaltzy version of "Lara's theme" blares through the loudspeakers as your routine begins. You look magnificent. Then you get ready to perform your first spinning leap (perhaps a triple sow cow, a quadruple axle, or a quintuple klutz). The crowd is hushed in breathless anticipation. You leap ten feet into the air, looking like Baryshnikov or Bessmertnova on blades; spinning like a dervish. You land — and fall; ignominiously sliding on your ass for the entire length of the ice in front of the thousands present and millions of viewers worldwide.

I can think of no other sporting event where there is such incongruity between what you want to portray and what you end up looking like. The only scenario that could possibly come close would be in an equestrian dressage event attended by royalty and the upper crust. If one of the participants were to land face first into a sloppy mixture of mud and manure, then that might equal the mortification of the skater’s gluteal glissade.

It would be nice if no one fell this year, but I believe the average number of keester-to-ice landings during these championships is about 197; so it is likely there will be many sore cabooses during that week.

Ah-Choo! And sore noses. Ah-Choo! Gesundheit. Ah-Choo! Goodnight and gemütlichkeit.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Second Annual SSIC Poetry Contest

It's back by popular demand! We at Snow Shoveling in Canada are proud to announce the winners of the Second Annual SSIC Poetry Contest.

Entries this year were judged on creativity, rhythm, intonation, and the amount of palm grease supplied to the judges.

First we'd like to reprint a couple of limericks that were entered. These are usually not considered pure "poetry" by most balladry buffs, but we thought these were the best submissions of that ilk.


When shoveling in snow cold and brisk
Beware of the dangers and risk.
Remember this please:
"Keep back straight, bend the knees"
Or you'll find that you've slipped a disc.


There once was a man from Ontario
Who wanted to be a Lothario,
But his problems were such
That he couldn't rise much
With regards to his ol' ding-dong-derry-o.

That's enough of those.

We don't want you champing at the bit any longer for the good stuff, so here are this year's winners:



Late last night while fast asleep,
a strange dream dreamt this dreamer —
A tiny basal primate was I,
from toe to head to femur.

Living 'neath a canopy
with vines that hang like streamers,
then slumber broke and I awoke —
a man, and not a lemur.

SECOND PRIZE (we've decided not to make a joke about a poet lariat here):


After hitting the trail
where I rode hill and dale,
I retire to the tub
to get a good scrub.

What method’s a must
to wash off this dust?
The cleansing solution
is in this ablution.



Frankenstein, Frankenstein
Created a monster six-foot-nine,
Of tremendous strength and abnormal brain;
Doctor and creature — both insane.

HONORABLE(?) MENTION (from the same "poet" who submitted the above entry):


If you should go swimming in the Black Lagoon,
Make sure you are armed with a good harpoon.
Or you may find that you'll need a surgeon
If you bump into this half-man, half-sturgeon.

There you have it. The best of the submissions. Ugh. If we don't receive anything better next year, then this may very well be the last annual SSIC poetry contest.

Whatever happened to great poetry? You know, the kind written by all those Lords; like Lord Byron, Lord Tennyson, and Lord Athol Layton.

The Wrestling Interviewer by Lord Athol Layton

In the wrestling ring I can be quite a brute.
When I interview I'm genteel and astute.

Between those ropes I can maim and I can bruise
But when I talk I can charm and I can schmooze.

So best keep in mind if I should chat with you;
Do not misbehave or that choice you may rue.

Act orderly or l will have to make you stop
With my signature patented judo chop.

Well alright; maybe Lord Layton wasn't the best of your lordly poets. But I'll bet no one ever addressed him by any of his names other than "Lord" or "Mr. Layton"!

I remember one of my favorite poems was by Lord Tennyson. I think it was an ode to a bank robber. I believe it was called The Illegal. Let's see if I can recall how it goes:

He grasps the bag with crooked hands;
Close to the cash that he demands,
Wronged by the lawful world he stands.

The silent bank alarm now calls;
A SWAT team waits outside the walls,
And like all criminals he falls.

Or something like that

In closing, I'd like to quote the poet Percy Shelley (who was not a Lord but a Bysshe) who said, "Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds."

Keep in mind that happiest and best are used in the very loosest sense with regards to the poetry presented here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Canadian Snow Shoveler in Cancún's Airport

My wife and I just recently returned from a vacation in Mexico, only to be greeted by a major blizzard that swept across the eastern portion of the U.S. and into Southern Ontario. The news on the radio said that we missed the brunt of the storm and received only 10 centimeters of the expected 30.

Well, if you grabbed a ruler and measured in some arbitrary spot on the driveway, you might come up with a measurement of 10 centimeters. The drifts were more like half a meter; and HEAVY. Holy mackerel, that stuff felt as if I were shoveling lead pellets.

One of my favorite parts of a vacation is that tradition known as "the packing of the luggage". My wife — like all wives — gets to use the largest suitcase. It's amazing how much stuff she can cram into that thing, and yet she somehow manages to keep it under the allowable weight limit by just a few micrograms. I swear all women must take a course — Suitcase Cramming 101. Her carry-on bag alone contains enough goods to fill a small department store. If she were to pack my needs for a vacation, she'd be able to fit it all into a clutch purse.

The first delightful moment of our trip took place upon our arrival at Toronto's Pearson International Airport at 3am. We were advised that our flight would be delayed by twelve hours. This brought much glee to our hearts since we could think of no better way to start our vacation than by spending the day in Toronto in -20C weather. And our airline was great about what they perceived to be an inconvenience to us. They booked rooms for all of the out-of-town passengers at a nearby hotel and gave us a voucher for one meal (and that was only right; for who needs more than one meal over a twelve hour period?)

A bit of a problem arose however when the woman at the airline check-in wrote on the hotel vouchers that we were to stay at the Quality Holiday Best Westin, or something like that. A mob of us scrambled down to where the hotel shuttles were and harassed every driver until we found one that was willing to take us all to a Best Western. After a nice eight minute sleep and one meal, we were quite refreshed and raring to get back to the airport.

Airport security is, of course, a highlight of any travel destination. Scanners, pat-downs, metal detectors, the third degree — it's all good. After sufficient probing, prodding, pestering and poking we were allowed to board our plane.

The flight was great fun also, what with all the commotion in the cramped aisle next to my seat — people brushing their butts against my shoulder while I'm trying to do a crossword or eat my gourmet airline food.

Once that four hours of pure joy ended, it was on to phase two of the pleasurable airport experience — immigration. One thing I didn't expect though was to have our luggage scanned by Mexican security as we were coming off the aircraft. But, when you think of it, this makes perfect sense. One of the passengers could be a MacGyver-like character who could have fashioned some sort of weapon out of items gleaned from the plane: plastic cutlery, magazines, left-over cole slaw and a couple of barf bags. However, I can't think of a reason why anyone would want to bring a weapon to an all-inclusive resort on the Mayan Riviera, unless it was used to ward off some of those pushy timeshare sales people.

We then spent a week in the sun at our resort, but the winds were so heavy that pelicans were being blown all over the palm-tree-lined Mexican sky. Otherwise the stay was uneventful, unless you count the incident where our beach towels were stolen. Of course it was my pleasure to pay $30 per towel for this person's much needed yen for thievery. And if I may, I'd like to now publicly thank him or her for their thoughtful act (you know who you are, you unscrupulous sleazeball).

The mirth continued on our return to Cancún airport for our journey home. Security singled us out to have our carry-on luggage rummaged through. This was understandable as my wife and I look like your typically boring, mid-fifties, middle-class, terrorist touristas. The agent showed us his badge before mistreating our belongings. This was done lest we took him for an airport washroom attendant with a fetish for fondling baggage.

We agreed to have him take a look but he wanted us to open the bags. I believe this is the same policy that is used if you happen to find yourself being strip searched and having the exit area of your anatomy examined — it's up to you to open your cheeks.

The flight home was the usual delight, but it was Canadian customs that really brightened my day. We had no problem with the stern young man who gave us a card verifying that we were OK to go-ahead. But for some reason we had to show this card at several checkpoints beyond him. Perhaps all these people were doing the exact same job, but each person we subsequently encountered had more job experience than the last. The first guy was probably a first day or first week trainee.

Anyway, we made it home safe and sound after a relaxing two hour drive down the peaceful Highway 401. But you know, in retrospect, air travel to foreign countries is a mite tiresome. Perhaps next year our winter getaway will be a land journey to Moose Factory.