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Friday, February 28, 2014

Stage West Calgary - "Unnecessary Farce"

Stage West Calgary
"Unnecessary Farce"

My review is now live online, or if you are in the Calgary area, available in print for you to purchase and save as a likely collectible issue :-)


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Acceptable Breakfast Choices

Ever since I got caught years ago by a cousin while I was walking out of a gas station convenience store with an ice cream sandwich for breakfast, I've taken more care to make better choices.

First, I now go waaay out of my neighbourhood before I buy one. Sometimes I'll get them with my groceries, and take one along so I don't have to risk running into anyone I know at a public location.

Second, I have considered other options - traditional breakfast choices that a nutritionist might be able to endorse.

Sadly, many of those are terrible! Oats, fruit, fibre, or softened cardboard.

In a perfect world, here are acceptable (if not at all healthy) breakfast choices:

1) Twinkies. Fast, convenient, delicious. Isn't that all a person can ask for? Aside from diabetes...

2) Chocolate Chip cookies. A favourite since childhood, taken in enough quantity, just might provide appropriate amounts of dairy to be a healthy choice??

3) Macaroons. No argument I can make in favour of these little bon-bons - they're just so darn tasty...

I better quit while I'm still ahead. Of the bakery section...


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Apples and Oranges

Comparison #1:

Apples are typically red, while oranges are orange. I'm not sure how that translates if you are colour-blind, but that could be one difficulty when comparing apples to oranges...

Comparison #2:

Apples are long and curved, like a hockey stick blade - with a soft peel that monkeys can easily remove.

Wait - that may be be wrong, let me surf back to Wikipedia to see if I may have written down the wrong description!

Comparison #3:

Oranges can be used as a substitute projectile in slo-pitch softball baseball pickup games, while an apple a day will only keep doctors away.

Comparison #4:

Only oranges can be used to make juice.

(Wikipiedia, are you shitting me?? I'm pretty sure I've heard of apple juice...)

Comparison #5:

Apples come with convenient bumps on the bottom, that allow them to be displayed upright. Oranges are roly-poly, and quite difficult to photograph. There are actually classes that prepare food photographers for that challenging task.

There you have it - comparing apples to oranges!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fish Gangster Whacks...

"Bob, you ratted us out - today, you're gonna walk with the humans..."


Monday, February 24, 2014

The (Inexplicable) Things We Do

(NOTE: It has already been pointed out that the team Canada played for a gold medal was Sweden. It could have been Atlantis, for all that it mattered. But I did screw this piece up, and I thank the eagle-eyed reader that caught my muck-up...)

Yesterday morning, much like what was happening all across the rest of Canada, Mrs. That Dan Guy and I got up before the crack of dawn. We awoke before night shift workers had punched their time clocks and gone home.

We got up to watch the gold medal final between Canada and Switzerland. Because it was hockey...

Talk about a stereotype (or talk "abut", for that matter, while we're on the subject of stereotypes...)!

I wish I could say this was the first time we've done this, but it is not. We've dragged ourselves out of bed even earlier in the past.

The funny thing now is how much social media has changed everyday life. I couldn't post my first tweet of the day, as we did sleep in a little bit, PVRing the start of the game.

Once we had fast-forwarded and caught up to real time, I was able to read Facebook and Twitter posts, and friends from coast-to-coast had clearly been up from the start of the game, posting live streams of comments.

Yes, we are crazed in Canada.

Hockey-crazed, as much of a stereotype that may be.

Oh Canada!!!


Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Seven Dwarfs - 2014

Time passes, as do dwarfs. I hereby present Snow White's newest companions, the Class of 2014:

1) Texty - A chronic distracted driver, Texty is well-known for NEVER being without his i-Phone. Which makes him one Happy camper...

2) Tatts - modern times have removed the stigma of tattoos, and Tatts has certainly embraced THAT philosophy. Covered amply, in addition to a host of piercings, Tatts is going to be the easiest dwarf to identify in a collapsed mine rescue...

3) Rainbow - a far more embracing and enlightened society lets every dwarf be true to his or her self - and speaking of embracing, Rainbow is sure a fan of tattoos and piercings...

4) Birdeep - Just one of the new immigrants to The Enchanted Forest, Birdeep brings a respect for his heritage to his new life in the forest.

5) Beebs - After early negotiations among the celebrity world, both the Hilton and Kardashian families were denied membership in the class of 2014, but in an attempt to rebuild his image, a wayward pop star narrowly beat out the mayor of a large Canadian city to be in this group...

6) Leno - recently unemployed, every village needs an idiot - am I right? The court jester of the Enchanted least until he returns to hosting a popular evening TV talk show...

7) Grammar - hopelessly trying to convince everyone that the proper term is "dwarves", but even that could be more politically correct... The lack of interest in the proper descriptor makes him one Grumpy Gus.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by That Dan Guy, on behalf of weekend guest blogger Charlie Chicken...)

Watching Charlie nap during this Bronze medal game between USA and Finland, it's hard to believe he can be such a handful.

Peaceful, innocent, a little farty - he...


A LOT farty!!!

What does this guy eat??

It's only 9:00 AM - it smells like someone is sacrificing a goat in here!!


That's it - I'm gonna watch the rest of this game downstairs - my olfactory senses are protesting this airborne assault.

Cluck...uhh, I mean chow, for now!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Popeye - The Steroids Scandal....

Long a popular cartoon, you don't hear much about Popeye The Sailor Man anymore.

Recent reports indicate he may have voluntarily retired from the spotlight, to avoid the humiliation of a doping scandal...

While major league baseball has been the primary focus lately for steroid use, modern technology was likely not too far from determining that the nautical world had something to hide, under forearms larger than the average sailor's waist.

Strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach? More likely something a bit more anabolic, Sailor Man...

Speculation, you say? How many windmill arm punches have you seen, without the benefit of robotics or an actual windmill?

Plus, the man is a chain smoker - that pipe never leaves his mouth! Is that the sort of health correlation we typically expect from bad behaviour, or is it supplemented performance perhaps????

Before this "gentleman" gets elected to the Seafarer's Hall Of Fame, these are all questions that need to be answered....


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Canadian Women Going For Olympic Curling Gold.

As my eyes are beginning to come into focus this morning, one of the perks of not having to punch a time clock right now just happens to be the opportunity to catch the gold medal finals in women's curling.

I'm not sure when hair styling became an Olympic sport, but I sure intend on supporting my fellow Canadians in their quest.

You go, ladies! Curl your way to gold!!!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Unemployed Bum Journal, Week 1

This is the first week of "freedom" for me, having left the security of "the Man", to...

Well, to do something other than have the security of "the Man", I suppose.

Here's my week so far:


Holiday. Spoiled the effect of not having to go to my day job. Spent day trying to get into spirit of things, but it really didn't count. Took advantage of sale at local mall. Stocked up on Kraft Dinner, and one-ply toilet paper. Will eventually fashion a key to steal that from our local gas station...


Still doesn't seem real. Mrs. That Dan Guy mapped out a full day of chores, which by about 1:00 PM started to feel an awful lot like I had gone to my day job. Protested by taking an extra long lunch, and watching Days Of Our Lives. Wow, soap operas have REALLY changed. I had better study this trend in greater detail...

Putting some thought to either job hunting, or entrepreneurship. I could be a captain of industry.

Note: Google inexpensive industries to start from scratch...

Wednesday (today)

Advised sternly that I needed to start shaving again. Driving MTDG to work, and more errands to run??? What the doodles??

And what exactly are sanitary napkins? Aren't they ALL clean when stores sell them??? How am I ever going to get to be a captain of industry if I'm stuck as a common private, Grunt First Class?

I need to allow my mind to sail the open seas of possibility. I need to percolate exactly how I will be the next Donald Trump!

I need to know what happened with Todd and Dylan, and if Mary's evil twin managed to kidnap Kimberly....


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How To Avoid Conflicts

1) Don't spend any time around prisons - many conflicts are held there, and some may just be getting released while you are there!

2) Stay away from courtrooms - that's where conflicts get conflicted!

Well, not many tips on how to avoid conflicts, but at least if you follow those two suggestions, you should be able to minimize running into them!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Stage West Calgary "Unnecessary Farce"

Stage West Calgary
"Unnecessary Farce"

The "Before-Noon" Theatre Review: Stage West Calgary's presentation of 

"Unnecessary Farce".

by Paul Slade Smith
directed by J. Sean Elliott 

If the reaction of last night's audience is any indication, word of mouth for Stage West Calgary's latest comedy is going to be cause for a whole lot of sellouts there during the next couple of months...

Chock-full of talented actors embracing a script that percolates along to the full boil of a surprise ending, I can assure you that the laughter is literally relentless. 

Once again I have to hold back some of my choicest comments for the official Calgary Herald review I'll be writing as soon as this one is posted (link here when that goes live online!), but I can say that "Unnecessary Farce" stands out in my mind as the best comedy I've seen in this facility - and there have been some awfully good ones over at least the past 5 years that I've been attending.

How can you lose, when you have a fabled "Highland Hitman", that plays a song on the bagpipes before he eliminates his quarry? Or a sort-of "assistant murderer", that preps the victims, yet has some remorse and jitters that tend to complicate his part of the missions?

There's a mysterious "big wheel" orchestrating all the activity, as well as a fledgling cop that couldn't even be trusted with an official police force-issued pistol, settling for something more appropriate for a schoolyard encounter. 

Add in some irresistible attraction to percolate the love element, and you're getting close to seeing the big picture in this exceptional farce...

There's even one scene that pays homage to our very own Calgary Stampede - featuring a little bucking...

Set in a pair of adjoining motel rooms, the set design was terrific, allowing for the characters to migrate between the situations unfolding entirely erratically in each of those rooms. The plan to catch a small town mayor on videotape confessing to a corruption scandal goes off just perfectly, if the planners of that enterprise had been Laurel & Hardy...

I'm not sure how much of this production is script or director, but there's no question that the end result is a brisk, madcap adventure that had audience members exchanging glances as they howled with laughter. 

I just can't give anything away without spoiling the fun, so beat the crowds (last night appeared to be sold-out) and get right down to Stage West to take in this funny and enjoyable crime comedy!

Check back later this week for my Calgary Herald review!



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger, Charlie Chicken...)

Howdy hoomans!

Hey, which one uv mah "pecs" does ya like best??


Git it??




Hey, at least ah didn't try to toss in a pic uv the "other" peck-er....

Ah'll leave THAT ta tha hoomans in government office...

Cluck fer now!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Calgary Folk Club, 02 14 14

The Calgary Folk Club

02 14 14

Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem
The Fretless

The "Before-Noon" Entertainment Review

Calgary Folk Club, featuring Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem
with The Fretless

The runaway, no-questions-asked "wow" moment of last night's presentation of The Calgary Folk Club had to have been the finale - Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem joined onstage by The Fretless for a  stunning collaboration on "Crossing The Bar". But so much more happened even before that point. 

Let's work our way back to that...

First off, it's important to note that last night almost didn't even happen - both acts had weather-related challenges that nearly prevented them from getting to the venue. Happily, that was not the case.

Openers The Fretless took to the stage, with a wide variety of fretless stringed instruments. 

I will admit here, I'm not terribly sophisticated when it comes to the subtle differences between a fiddle and a violin. I will say that from an uneducated layperson's perspective, if some of those instruments were NOT violins, they were awfully large fiddles...

Regardless, none of that matters - these four young musicians are quite adept on what they do play, as evidenced by winning the Instrumental Album Of The Year at the 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards, along with Ensemble Of The Year and Instrumental Group Of The Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.  

Not hard to make THAT connection when you see them live...

Seamlessly, they bounced around genres during their set - at moments feeling like you were in an Atlantic kitchen party, then over to a summer BBQ in The Enchanted Forest, before bringing you out to the hills of Tennessee. 

"Hewlitt's" alone was a five-star treat, along with the robust and rollicking "Lulu". 

Brought back for a well-deserved encore, they closed their part of the show with "Purple Beads".

Did I mention they have a brand-new album available? They also EACH have their own website, but you can find out all about them at their website... They were a terrific discovery.

Which brings us to Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem, and closer to that closing collaboration between the two acts...

Kicking off with the lush harmonies that would dominate the evening in their "Hear Jerusalem Moan", the foursome brought together fiddle, guitar, upright bass, and the percussive leftovers of a tornado passing through a Home Depot. You have to see Scott Kessel's recycled drum kit to fully appreciate the innovation in putting that all together...

(Pictured: "bass drum")

Each of these folks sing up a storm by themselves, but the combined harmonies were something to behold. On tracks like the upbeat blues song "The East Virginia Blues", the shuffling "Miami Moon", and "Will Your House Be Blessed" (on which they were ably assisted by the warm vocals of the audience) you didn't want the songs to end. 

The camaraderie and recollections of life on the road, as well as the stories behind some of the songs were hilarious - I'm sure there will be another one added soon, given the band had to be creative to get to Calgary, then did their soundcheck during the break between sets, prior to their own performance. 

The talent is deep in this band. From unique covers of artists like Bruce Springsteen to John Thompson, and on to their own repertoire, a listener just gets entirely drawn into their offerings. I can't begin to list all the highlights to the night.

But I'll try :-)

"Heart Of The World", "I Got Oil In My Vessel", and "You Ain't Hurryin' Me" certainly stood out. But here's where we get to the last three songs, performed with The Fretless.

Collaborating once before (at my hometown of Winnipeg's enduring Folk Festival), the two bands shone on selections like  the barnburner "I Want To Be Ready When Joy Comes Back To Me". Not to mention that closing selection I mentioned way back at the start of this review - simply stunning. I wish I had recorded a little snippet of that one...

You owe it you yourself to visit their website, you won't regret discovering Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem, I can assure you...

Also, check out The Calgary Folk Club, and experience the talent live for yourself!!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Tips!

Here's a column from last year, where I offer "tips":

Valentine's Day

Enjoy - and Happy Valentine's Day!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow & Pop Stars

Snow in North America is becoming as popular as the current young pop stars making headlines - wearing out the welcome mat in a hasty fashion!

This winter has been nothing if not a return to olden days - in Canada, we're pretty resolved to having this white party-pooper around for months and months every year. Not so much in southern parts of the U.S., where snow has been as welcome as another indiscretion by Justin Bieber, or Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Like those mouth-breathing spoiled baboons, snow has stayed too long at the party.

Well, we're halfway througoh February. In Canada, that means another month or so of winter. Hopefully for my friends further south, our mayor will exit the news, along with snow and ice for the foreseeable future.

Otherwise, can I interest you in a lovely wool toque, and a hockey stick???


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interrogating An Ice Cube

1) Remove from freezer, and ice cube tray.

2) Place on very small chair, under heat lamp.

3) Ask questions VERY quickly.

4) If no response, be prepared with dish towel, or sponge towels.

5) Wipe up residue.

6) Choose alternate ice cube, repeat even quicker.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How To Use An Elevator

1) Approach elevator, identify door. Press button for direction you would like to be taken. "Away" is not a valid option...

2) Wait for response from closed doors. Once doors open, enter elevator. NOTE: Do not be frightened by others joining you. Elevators are not a private means of transportation, even if you have paid someone in the lobby for First Class accommodations...

3) Locate buttons, press desired floor. Again, be aware that others may press floors you have no interest in stopping in - these commoners do have the same rights you do, as frustrating as that may be.

4) Once elevator begins to move, look away. Look away, Dixieland. Do NOT make eye contact, or attempt to converse with your fellow passengers. Should you feel the need to discreetly pass gas, try to glare at a random passenger to defer blame.

5) Arrive at your destination floor, leave elevator.

Now, how hard was that? Enjoy your life in elevators, wherever your travels may take you!!


Monday, February 10, 2014

DePlane, DePlane!

That would have been the sound you might have heard whenever a plane landed that featured Tattoo as a flight attendant...


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger Chuck E. Chicken, Triangle Player)

Well, wot wot!

So happy to be part of history today, eh lads??


Yessir, 50 years ago today, me and my backup boys appeared on Ed Sullavin, and tha wurld wuz NEVER tha same!

Yer welcome, world!

Keep them royalties comin' in!!


Cluck fer now - I gotta practice my part for tonight's show on CBS...

Saturday, February 08, 2014

50 Years Of The Beatles

I wish I had more time to edit this link down, as there is some stuff that is totally irrelevant included.

However, this look back at our 2009 year just happens to include:

1) Catching The Beatles/Cirque "LOVE" at The Mirage.

2) Footage of Paul McCartney performing live on the "roof" of the Ed Sullivan Theatre, after we saw him on David Letterman earlier in the afternoon.

3) Shots of StrawBerry Field in Central Park.

4) A blurry picture of me while we attended the historic live "Good Evening New York City" live concert recorded in the former stadium the Beatles performed years before.

Thanks Beatles - 50 amazing years!

2009 Short


Friday, February 07, 2014

Last Tonight Show With Jay Leno!!

Well, I am sure looking forward to watching what I understand will be the last episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, later tonight.

I'm not taping it, I'm not recording it - I'm tuning in live - I'll bet it will be worth the time spent. This may even BE the last time he hosts the show! If he does come back though, I get to watch him retire a THIRD time!

Hold my calls - I'm going to hunker down tonight!!!


Thursday, February 06, 2014

Old MacDonald Had A Farm (And A Song)

He should have had an appearance on Wheel Of Fortune - at least then he could have had a consonant or two in his refrain...


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

My Facebook Video - FAIL!

I'm getting updates from Facebook friends and family members swelling with pride and excitement over the movies the social media app has made from their postings.


I've got a few pictures, most not even mine!!!

Is this a slight I need to be concerned about? Has my time on Facebook been woefully inadequate, such that Facebook looked my files over, went "meh", and moved on to someone more exciting??

I'm trying not to be traumatized over this, but........

Sign me Boring In Cyberspace....


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Man's Best Friend

My hat is off to whoever it may have been that invented the TV remote control - and my money is on a wife that was getting tired of having to get up and change channels for her own husband, back in the day.

Of all the inventions in modern history - fast-thawing sandwich bread, twist-off beer caps, or even resealable pretzels bags, the TV remote control has made the lives of untold men infinitely easier.

I recall growing up in a home with no remote for the TV. You practically had to sit at the base of the unit for Pete's sake! How cumbersome the task of flipping through the seven or eight channels you had to choose from back then, until you found something worth watching.

FYI: In Canada, we used to have a French language station that often ran movies with nudity. How titillating (literally) to a young, impressionable lad in his formative years! Now, you can scroll through a host of nekkid selfies on your smartphone. Far less left to the imagination these days...

Where was I though??

Oh yeah - remotes!

I've had remotes die at night, with no replacement batteries until the next day and a quick trip to a store that stocked them. I've never felt so much like a caveman - helpless and lacking in even the most basic needs of a modern-day civilized survivor. And no matter how hard I tried, my damned cat couldn't follow even the simplest of training to do the changing for me.

Makes me wish I had a dog....


Sunday, February 02, 2014

Chicken Scratch

(posted by weekend guest blogger Charlie Chicken...)

Look at this putz!

Iz thair reely any wunder why I am wut I am?


Lord have mercy....

Cluck fer now!!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Calgary Folk Club: January 31, 2014

Calgary Folk Club
January 31, 2014
The Crooked Brothers
Del Barber
Cara Luft

The Saturday Morning "Before-Noon" Arts & Entertainment Review:

Calgary Folk Club

The Crooked Brothers
Del Barber
Cara Luft

Funny how life circles around and around. Being born and raised in Manitoba, I grew up on what I felt were some of the best music acts in the country, and have a substantial record collection from my 30+ years living there. My first published writing was back there as well, an entertainment column for a music paper back in the day. 

Now, here I am in Calgary, writing about theatre, writing and music - and last night, getting a chance to see how much the scene back home has grown with a Manitoba Night theme at the Calgary Folk Club.

How it has grown...

Openers The Crooked Brothers inspired murmurs throughout the audience during their first song, "Your Love Is A Ghost Town", with growling vocals that fell somewhere between Leon Redbone, Tom Waits, and the vocals on the Christmas classic "You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch". Captivating and then some!

Multi-instrumentalists, all taking turns on vocals, their set was a rousing tour of roots, folk and blues anchored by a bit of dark humour, and it all worked to win over the crowd. "Windsor Beer' made me smile, just one of several Winnipeg bars I used to DJ in years ago - happy to hear they are back to live music there...

We got to hear selections from their 2011 album "Lawrence, Where's Your Knife", "Deathbed Pillowtalk", and their upcoming EP "Postcard" - but you can find out more and order any or all of those at crooked Representing all that's right in today's folk scene, you really should get out and see them live as well...

The man in the middle last night was storyteller Del Barber, and man, can this gentleman tell compelling stories.

I could fill this review with his clever lyrics (I've got a sink for my dishes, and a sinking feeling for my heart), but you need to hear that for yourself. One of those creative sponges that can take in most anything and wring it out into a heartfelt recollection, songs like "Right Side Of The Wrong" and "The Waitress" showcased the delicate but delighting union of melody and lyric under his purvey. 

Mr. Barber has certainly developed his own voice, but their were times during his set last night you could hear a bit of roots icon Jim Cuddy. Barber elevates the humour aspect considerably though - his musings between songs were just as entertaining as the selections themselves.

It is an over-used cliche to say that Del Barber had the audience in the palm of his hand last night (technically, he had the neck of a guitar in a least one for most of the night), but the version of his song "Home To Manitoba", which detoured over to a tender singalong at the conclusion, may have been that right perfect moment of the night.

Visit his website!

Finally, former "Wailin' Jenny" Cara Luft took the stage - just about the time I realized that my oldest sister had sent me a copy of her "Darlingford" album for my birthday last year. 

That still did not fully prepare me for her ability to shine on a variety of stringed instruments - including banjo and acoustic guitar last night. I think I was enjoying one song on banjo too much to jot down the title, but that track was one of my favourites.

Of course, there were others that I did remember to right down, like the opening track to the aforementioned album, "Only Love Can Save Me", as well as the audience participation "Charged!". 

The virtuoso side shined in her conversions back and forth between melding traditional and modern folk, with "Black Water Side" highlighting her attention to detail in that regard. 

While she is working on a new album, hearing several tracks come to life from "Darlingford" was a real treat. Around the time of her encore, she made a comment to the effect that coming out on stage every night, and getting the reactions from the audiences gives her life.

It feels much the same for the audience on hearing your music, Ms. Luft...

Check her out at  

And although last night was COMPLETELY sold out, be sure to get in on what folk fans have known about for years. Visit The Calgary Folk Club.