Total Pageviews

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Introducing...The Earliad: The Bleak House of Blahgs Photo Annex

Hi, everyone - I'm experimenting a little with another webpage, using the long-neglected webspace that comes with my Shaw account. If all goes according to plan, right now there should be a couple of photos of me cavorting around Commonwealth Stadium; Jim and I were down there this morning for an Epcor/Hole's Wise Watering media event. See the photos here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Peanut Pranks

I like mischief. I can't remember when I first came up with the notion of inserting peanuts into the unsuspecting ears of my friends, but the idea soon took irresistable hold of me. I believe the first to fall victim was my brother; I snuck up behind him and with one fluid motion, stuck the unshelled peanut into his ear. His reaction was quite satisfying, and later on I tried it out on my friend Ron Briscoe. It was my first visit to California, that long road trip down to LA, fifteen members of the U of A Star Trek and Scuba clubs crammed into one van. We stayed at a hostel near the famous Korean Bell, and when Ron went to bed, I waited patienty for him to fall asleep and crept out of my bunk with a peanut in each hand. I leaned over Ron, and just as I was about to drive the peanuts home, his eyes snapped open.

"Earl," he said dangerously, "Do not...stick...those my EARS!"

Foiled, I retreated. But my greatest peanut victory was yet to come.

A couple of years later, several Star Trek Club alumni attended the Namao International Air Show. Ron was there, and so was Steven Neumann, his sister Susan, and her boyfriend Jeff Shyluk. Naturally peanuts were served, and as we reclined on picnic blankets and watched the ballet of the jets overhead, I couldn't resist casually tossing a peanut in Jeff's direction.

Much to my surprise, the peanut sailed in a graceful arc, closed the two-metre gap between Jeff and I, and landed directly in Jeff's ear. Jeff immediately clapped a hand over his ear and his eyes goggled in disbelief.

"MY EAR!" he wailed, "A PEANUT!"

It was glorious.

More recently, I managed to sneak a peanut into Sylvia's ear, catching her completely by surprise on the couch. Her reaction was almost as satisfying as Jeff's. However, the aftermath has convinced me that perhaps now would be a good time to put away childish things...i.e., silly pranks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Viva Blahg Vegas, Part II

The next day, Tuesday, Sylvia and I left the Imperial Palace, striking out for the MGM Grand. Once again, she used the scooter and I walked alongside, snapping pictures all the way, looking exactly like the tourist I was. (But then, I have a feeling that most of Las Vegas' two million inhabitants do their best to avoid the Strip.) The heat was unbearable (for me; Sylvia thrived on it), and by the time we made it back to the hotel, I was exhausted. I didn't know it at the time, but a nice case of heat stroke was waiting in the wings.

Still, air conditioning works wonders, and soon enough we were on the move again, this time sans scooter. We headed down to Treasure Island and watched Sirens, an outdoor musical held on full-scale pirate ships in a manmade lagoon. There was singing, dancing, and scantily-clad bootiliciousness (aha, I've coined a new word). Plus cannon fire and explosions. One thing about Las Vegas entertainment: it's not subtle.

After Sirens, we considered heading back to the hotel and calling it a night. But we saw that Treasure Island played host to Cirque de Soleil, and after a bit of debate, we decided to see the show. Great tickets, too - third row centre.

Sylvia and I nestled into our seats and waited for the fun to begin - little knowing that we'd soon be a part of it. To start the act, the lead clown/ringmaster made a game of escorting latecomers to their seats. The clown made a big show of leading the patrons up and down the aisles, booting other patrons from their seats, leading them back, losing the tickets, stealing popcorn, and so on, spotlights capturing the antics all the while.

And then he stopped right in front of Sylvia and I. He looked right at me: "Ah, you're the fellow."

He reached into his bucket of popcorn and flung a kernel at me. And like a well-trained seal, I tried to catch it in my open mouth. I missed. Much laughter from the crowd. Another try; I missed again. "Come on!" I barked. "I'm doing my best!" he replied.

One more try. I missed again, and, disgusted, he threw the entire bucket at me. A huge roar from the audience; I have no idea what my expression must have been. Probably some form of shock.

Sylvia loved it, and I have to admit, it was a huge thrill. Any chance to be a ham, I'll take it - first time I've performed (in the most minor sense, of course) for an audience for a long, long while. It's fun, and I miss it. Times like that, I wonder about the road not taken. The rest of the show was utterly amazing - I could scarce believe the wonders those performers could do with their bodies. It was graceful, erotic, magnificent, and worth every penny. I'm glad we took a chance and decided to see the show. I'm not big on spontaneity, but sometimes it works.

Anyway....that was the end of the second day. Day three wouldn't be quite so much fun...

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Viva Blahg Vegas

And we're back! What a long, strange couple of weeks it's been. The last of my hacking and coughing seems to be winding down, thank goodness.

So how about that excursion to Las Vegas?

Well, let me tell you. For me, the highlight had to have been taking Sylvia through the Star Trek Experience.

We rented a scooter for Sylvia - she was afraid of slowing me down, since I'm normally a pretty fast walker.

I walked alongside her as we journeyed from the Imperial Palace, our hotel, to the Las Vegas Hilton, home of the Experience.

Once there, we went through the Klingon Encounter, which I've seen before, and the new Borg Invasion 4-D, which really was incredible. Live characters all around you, Borg popping out of the walls, people screaming, consoles was wild. Sylvia got quite a kick out of both rides.

But the best part was down at Quark's restaurant, where Sylvia got to give a Ferengi waiter some pretty intense oo-mox. The Ferengi seemed a little surprised by Sylvia's ardour, but he certainly seemed to enjoy it - and I have a picture to prove it.

 Earl versus the Gorn.

Sylvia's scooter got ticketed by the Ferengi, complete with the Ferengi Boot (a styrofoam plate with Ferengi swizzle sticks) and tickets demanding several strips of gold-pressed latinum. Fortunately, a friendly Federation officer got rid of the boot for us.

However, the trip back wasn't quite so much fun. My walking pace had rapidly slowed after about an hour's journey down the Strip - the temperature hovered around 40 degrees C, and there was little shade to be found. By the time we reached the Hilton, I was really dragging my feet, and while our stop at the Experience revived me a little, the journey back was...daunting.

Since the outbound leg of the walk had proven so lengthy (maps in Las Vegas are not to scale), we decided to take another route back to our hotel. We were trundling along pretty well for a while - Sylvia and I doubled up on the scooter to save my feet. At first things went fine - we used a very well-maintained new sidewalk next to one of Las Vegas' busiest avenues.

But then , a couple of kilometers away from the Hilton, the smooth sailing ended and the sidewalk abruptly vanished, replaced by a very narrow strip of bare earth. The cars of Las Vegas continued to rush by, their drivers no doubt amused by our plight.

Here began the real adventure. I had to abandon the scooter so that Sylvia could gingerly navigate the machine along a rubble-strewn dirt pathway, periodically blocked by supports for overpasses and the monorail. Whenever we came across one of these obstacles, Sylvia would dismount and I'd have to lift the scooter into the freeway and haul it around the post - without getting hit by the insane Las Vegas traffic. Keep in mind that I was already exhausted, the scooter was insanely heavy, I was trying not to damage it, and had to duck in and out of traffic like Frogger.

Sylvia, naturally, was getting quite a kick out of all this.

The terrain got rougher as we went along, and more desolate. I knew we were pointed in the right direction, but pedestrian traffic along our route was limited to less than a half-dozen other souls, compared to the thousands we encountered along our original course. Sylvia had to dodge rocks, open pits, broken bottles, fallen road signs, endless flyers for escort services, and some debris I was afraid to identify. This, I thought, was the real Las Vegas.

Finally I saw sidewalks in the near distance, and even more encouraging, the lights of the Strip. Sweat poured down my body in sticky rivers as I staggered alongside Sylvia's happily whirring scooter.

"Almost there," I rasped. "Just...a little...further..."

We reached one more obstacle, another open pit that I'd obviously have to lift the scooter past. Poor Sylvia had to wait while I dodged traffic with the scooter yet again, and when I lifted the mechanical monstrosity to safety once more, I looked back to see that Sylvia had fallen into the pebble-strewn orange dust. I dashed to her side, only to discover that she'd fallen simply because she'd been laughing so hard at my antics.

After dusting off her dress, we returned to the scooter and prepared to make one final break for the sidewalk, just a few lanes of traffic away. There was no designated pedestrian crossing, but we figured that the red lights would serve just as well.

The lights changed, and we made a break for it, neither of us actually using the scooter - we'd been too caught up in watching the traffic to actually hop aboard. There was just barely time to scramble across, but we made it to safety just as the traffic resumed its deadly, inexorable flow.

We returned to the hotel within another half hour or so, with no further incident.

That was the first day.