What do you get when you pour boiling water down a rabbit hole?
A hot cross bunny.
Ba dum dum.
Oh, and what do you get when you pour boiling water on a hen?
A mad, wet hen.
My father and I pulled in at dusk. Car troubles, weather troubles, we’d barely made it. Got out of the car and heard a beeping sound from inside. Through the window, I could see my grandmother walking slowly across the kitchen. Heading for the telephone I guess. It has to ring a long time for her to make it.
I came inside to the kitchen, started to take off my boots. The beeping was actually coming from the hallway. Smoke alarm?
My grandmother stood in front of the stove, teatowel in hand, toying with a smoky frying pan. Smoke: both burners on her little stove were on full blast. As I watched, her teatowel flopped across one of the burners. Fire seized it as if it were paper. A flash. It went up in an instant.
I ran over and took the flaming towel out of my grandmother’s hand. It twisted on an axis of orange. Flakes of black ash spiralled down to the hardwood floor. I threw the towel in the ancient white sink, blasted it with water until the fire was extinguished.
I went over to the stove and shut it off. I gave my grandmother a hug, my heart pounding in my throat.
My father walked into the kitchen and stamped his feet. “Got any salt we could throw on those steps? It’s some slippery.”
At 7am I get on a bus and drive to New Brunswick. I’m going to Gaspereau Forks to visit my grandmother for a few days. Big white house in the middle of nowhere. Old grey barns falling down all over the place and the Salmon River running through the backyard. She’s 90 and has a few stories to tell.
This trip has been all I’ve been thinking about for the past two weeks. I’ve had a lot of fun this winter but there’s also been a lot of hard work and some bullshit as well. The country is a place to go to scrape the shit off your shoe. Kick through the last of the snow, walk in my boots down to the edge of the river.
I’m taking along a copy of 19 Knives, a copy of Paradise Lost, a blank notebook and a brand-new fountain pen. See you all later.
2. bok bok bok.
I opened up the Coast today and found out that Mark Anthony Jarman is coming to town. Exciting news as he is currently my favourite writer. I have a copy of 19 Knives in my backpack right now.
The reading takes place tomorrow at 5:30pm at the Saint Mary’s Art Gallery. I don’t even know where that is… anyone want to take me on a literary date?
It’s getting late. I’ve decided to head down to Hell’s Kitchen after all. Before I go, I lie on my back on my bed, thinking–thinking, not moping. My bedroom door pushes itself open and Vickers the cat slides into the room. He hops up onto the bed beside me, purring grimly.
“Well, here we go,” I say.
He’s going to climb up onto my chest and have a snooze. I will not be allowed to move for the duration of his nap. It’s the law. How many times have I been late for something because my cat was asleep on top of me? Probably as many times as I’ve been late because of a last-minute need to masturbate. The intensity of the urge is always proportional to the importance of the event; another unwritten law.
It takes Vickers two tries to make it. The first time his fat little butt slides off sideways, slowly and comically. He regroups and finally manages to haul himself up onto my torso. Sprawls out across me, wiggles himself into a comfortable position. Paws kneading into my side.
“I don’t want you to go to Hell,” says Vickers. I scratch his head and rev him into a deeper purr. “She has a boyfriend,” he says.
He’s reading my mind, so I’m reading his. “You know my mission,” I say. “I have to rescue this woman from monogamy.”
“You’re spending too many nights away,” Vickers complains. “Can’t you ever bring the ladies back here?”
“We live too far north,” I say.
Vickers puts his head on his paws. Our breathing has synchronized: a slow, steady rise and fall. His warmth spreads into my chest. As he closes his eyes, his purring mellows to a soft little cat-snore.
“I tell everyone about you,” I say. “Lots of ladies are dying to meet you.”
“That might have excited me, back in the day,” he says, “before they cut off my balls.”
Vickers is a big, furry black jellybean. Black and shiny. A lump of coal, spat up on the roadside on the way to Grand Lake, New Brunswick.
After a few minutes he opens his yellow eyes slightly. A pair of tiny robots emerge from the dark slits of his feline irises.
The robots march down the side of the bed, under the bedroom door, and away into the house somewhere.
Vickers says, “Is there any food in my dish?”
The robots report back on their little walkie-talkies: No, there isn’t. Vickers closes his eyes again.
“Sorry,” I say.
After a minute he gets up and stretches, climbs down off me. My eyes are closed, but I hear his paws on the hardwood bedroom floor and know what he’s doing.
Presently I hear a rustle of plastic. He’s fooling around with the garbage bag that contains my clean laundry. It’s pretty obvious that he’s climbing inside, nestling into my socks and underwear.
“So my underwear isn’t allowed to go to Hell either?” I say.
“Your underwear can stay right here,” says Vickers.
His voice, muffled and deepened from inside the bag, sounds like the voice of God. I sit up and look across the room.
Only his black tail is visible, sticking out of the garbage bag. I’m reminded that I almost named him King James, back when I found him. Unclaimed: he’d been abandoned at the vet’s office. Black kitten with a face like a little bat. Scrappy and smart.
I glance at the clock and a spark of lust ignites in my chest. My ribcage is a fireplace of broken-down brick. You can see the lake from the campsite; night is falling. Move in close as the flames crackle. Wide bands of purple are stripped from the horizon one by one. The smoke makes my eyes water.
“Don’t go to Hell,” says Vickers the god, Vickers the jealous god.
To whoever dropped off the “Dirty Fun 31″ birthday treat bag outside the studio door: I see there were two forks in that bag, looks like I missed out on a dessert date.
I ate the cheesecake… it was delicious. Swing by the Khyber Club tonight and we’ll light the sparkler.
Thanks very much, whoever you are.
Here comes a week of parties for y’all.
Wednesday March 13: 9Volt Sound System performs live in Hell’s Kitchen. I’ll be dropping electro mad science on those retro dance retards. Never know what hit ’em. Starts around midnight or 1.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: I’m doing live sound, also in Hell. Twiddle knobs, drink vodka, and throw stuff at the bands. You party while I work, but my work is also a party.
Sunday March 17: been born one day sooner and i’d’a been a Patrick.
Monday March 18: It’s my birthday. Yes, I’m a Pisces you jokers. Party at the Khyber Club, with some DJs and live music I bet, and cake (well there better be cake). Monday night DJ Higs Boson… it’s his birthday too. Some come on out and watch me put away the Jager. Thirty was dirty, and thirty-one will be dirty fun.
Tuesday March 19: House show at the Bloomfield Compound. God save the Queen. Featured acts will include Mitch and the Motorhomes as well as a famous local rapper as well as a famous local arty hardcore band. Starts around 5 or so. If you don’t know where Bloomfield House is, you better axe somebody.
I’m going to be teaching a course out of Soundmarket Studio on home recording techniques. Acoustics, signal flow, tracking, mixing, effects, dynamics processing… as much as I can cram into a twenty-hour course. It’ll run for four weeks in the month of May and will probably end up costing around $300.
I’ll be taking six people for starters. If you’re interested in learning a few audio basics, drop me a line.
Last night I was doing sound for the open mic in Hell’s Kitchen. Matt Mays is the new host, replacing Al Tuck. Sometimes I have a lot of fun at these nights. But last night, I found myself growing a little bit cranky as the evening wore on.
Some guy took the stage and said he’d learned how to play “Stairway To Heaven” backwards. So he launched into this gibberish mish-mash of notes and chords and before long he was in the middle of some bizarre wailing solo. And then he rocked out on that confusion for five or six minutes, gradually getting quieter until he was playing this soothing passage of guitar music that was still a gibberish mish-mash. Finally he just stopped. He took a deep breath. Four or five people clapped.
Then a woman got up with her trumpet and announced, “I’m going to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to my cat.” She had brought the cat along. She blatted out the song while staring down at MooMoo who sat in a little cardboard box and looked around, all bewildered.
Matt, ever the affable host, got up on stage and gave her two drink tickets, one for herself and one for MooMoo. I think MooMoo got a little dish of milk out of the deal, or maybe Jagermeister.
The Bogus Sisters got up with banjo and mandolin, performing their medley of “songs made famous by Gordon Roach.” The Bogus Sisters are actually capable of pulling off some sweet harmonies. The Bogus Sisters are actually male.
By this point I was going crackers and was possibly drunk. Twenty-five hippie dudes in a row got up and played really slow, eight-minute-long Bob Dylan covers. I stood at the back of the bar with DJ Higs Boson and shouted things like “Where’s the meaning behind the moaning!” and “Gong!”
I was munching on a piece of Hell’s Kitchen pizza when a woman came up to me and tugged on my sleeve and said, “Excuse me are you the sound guy, because don’t you think the guitar is maybe a little quiet and do you think you could turn it up a little bit?”
The correct sound tech response would have been one of the following:
a) “Do you think you could tell your boyfriend to quit playing like a wuss?”
b) “Where do you work? ‘Cuz I’m going to show up there tomorrow, and tell you how to do your job.”
c) “Oh, OK.” [push up fader that doesn’t actually do anything] “Is that better?”
My hands were shaking as I stared back at her, and something about the blank look on her face prompted me to choose option d), which involves running up on the stage and screaming “Louder! Louder! I’ll show you louder!” and pulling out a stick of dynamite and shoving it inside the guitar’s soundhole and then detonating it in a ridiculous explosion that sends several dozen folk-rockers to the hospital and ends up with my badly burned body being hauled away in a straitjacket, while my eyes bug out of my head and drool rolls down my chin and I keep repeating “Louder! Louder! Louder louder louderrrr…”
It’s taken me four hours to type this, mostly on account of the bandages.
I ate a big bag of candy all by myself. I can’t believe I ate the whole bag. At the studio, I was all by myself. Me and a big bag of candy. Afterwards I could not even move.
Just typing and typing. I’m not even supposed to eat sugar really, on account of what it does to me. I got the sugar rush, I was eating these candies, one at a time, two by two, non-stop. Just kept on typing. I was all by myself.
Looked at the empty bag. I can’t believe I ate them all. Oh my god they’re so good. Zzzz, they’re hot. Shouldn’t be eating these, it’s like pure sugar. Sweet and hot. Half an hour later, I realized I’d been lying on the studio couch for half an hour. Ohhh sugar.
I just crashed. I couldn’t move. The whoooole bag. Little red cinnamon hearts. I love those but I shouldn’t eat them. Let alone all of them at once. I have a heart-hangover. I am love-sick. I fall off the couch and roll around on the floor.
Love, love, love. “I will always be lonely; I am best so.” You can go to the bulk barn and scoop them into a bag. Hard little cinnamon hearts. I’m all by myself. Shake the bag; it’s definitely empty. Oh I am going to cry. Sugar loves me but it wants to kill me. I’m sprawled out on my back on the floor. I can’t move. My lips burn with sweet love.
I drag myself into the bathroom. Burning. I spit into the sink. A hot red glob of cinnamon and saliva. I half-expect to see a tooth in there. Childhood memories sizzle somewhere below my blood-sugar level.
It’s too late. It’s all over.
So I drink a litre of milk and put on my coat and go downtown, and life becomes all wonderful.
I just redesigned halifaxstories.com, so feel free to pop over and have a look.
This web design stuff sure is thirsty work. Hooray, it all works in Netscape.
That’s it… I’m off to the Khyber.
Sobey’s is my neighbourhood supermarket.
1. I head to the dairy section to pick up a litre of milk. A little old woman with a red scarf around her head is peering through the refrigerator door.
Two percent, one percent, skim. I stand behind her and wait. Two percent, one percent… skim…
“Decisions, decisions,” I say.
She jumps about a foot in the air. We both start laughing.
2. I go to turn up the cat food aisle, and a little old woman with big thick glasses on has her cart sideways across the aisle. I back up my cart a little bit and she turns her cart away from me. I start to go up the aisle, but then she starts to back up. So I pull back a little bit. She turns her cart around and points it towards me. Her cart contains six boxes of kleenex and ten or twelve packages of cookies. I back up and pull off to the side so she can drive past. She stops to fiddle with her purse. We are basically back how we started. Then she straightens up and steers her cart past me.
“Thank you,” she says.
3. I’m picking up some toilet paper. A woman in pink pants with salt-and-pepper hair appears at the end of the aisle.
“They put some of them in packages of eight, and some of them in packages of thirty-two,” she says. “Now how are you supposed to carry them home? They have these packages of eight, but these ones here are twenty-four, or something like that, now why do they do that?”
“It’s crazy,” I say.
She’s already past me and halfway down the aisle. “We don’t use that word,” she says.