Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Legacy of the One-Minute Cartoon

About 18 years ago, I worked as an audio-video technician for a large Canadian university. Looking back now, I have to admit it was one of the best jobs I've had: the work was diverse and interesting, my co-workers were all superfun drinking pals, and the environment was quite casual.

I would kick off many a shift with a one-minute cartoon. I did this purely to entertain myself and several of my co-workers when we gathered at Master Control to organize our equipment deliveries for the shift. Each doodle was drawn with a black Sharpie on a 4" x 5" piece of scrap paper, and was always created in one minute or less. Sometimes my colleagues would give me a topic, sometimes not, but they were always juvenile, silly, and very crudely drawn. Each finished drawing was tacked to the wall of the control room until it eventually evolved into a sort of patchwork quilt wallpaper. Of course, I assumed they were torn down and tossed out after I moved on to a different job.

Then last week I bumped into Tony, a cherished friend of many years and the Master of Master Control, still employed with the University. We went for a few pints and he told me he would e-mail me some jokes that I'd really enjoy. A few days later, I received a series of scanned illustrations -- Tony had in fact saved the one-minute cartoons from extinction and had scanned them for posterity! I'm very grateful to him for having the foresight to preserve a little piece of our work-art history. Some of them are dated and a bit cliché almost 2 decades later, but they really cracked us up back then.

click each image to enlarge

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Car Meets Train. Train Wins.

Yesterday, I was travelling by train across the snowy rural plains of Ontario when we hit a car that was crossing the tracks on a country road. Like many of you, I have heard the horror stories of Car Meets Train since my youth and I've always wondered how any driver (Clark Kent exempted) could be stupid enough to challenge a speeding locomotive. But there's always someone willing to explore the parameters of physical science.

In this case, I can report that the driver is alive and well, but his wee Mazda didn't make it. I don't have the details of his injuries (we were only told they were "minor" in nature), but the train clipped his tail-end and sent his car spinning into the air like a newspaper in the wind, so if nothing else, he's gotta be pretty shaken up. I bet he felt like that cow in Twister.

Here's something surprising: from the train's perspective, hitting a car is actually less jarring to passengers than hitting a 4 foot snowdrift. We hit plenty of large drifts during the trip, each one violently rocking the cars and slowing the momentum of the train. But when we hit the car, no one noticed... well, until the car floated past the passengers' windows like a frisbee.

And I have to say, the accident itself was kinda cool. Like being in a Hollywood blockbuster action movie or something. Slow motion-like and really spectacular. I regret to report there was no fireball or explosion of any kind. I also regret that Tom Cruise was not at the wheel.

I would feel terribly sad if the driver had been seriously hurt or perished in the accident, even if I was merely witnessing Darwinism at work. But the driver didn't die or suffer serious injuries, so I'm still a bit pissed off that I lost 6 hours of my life (in addition to the 4 hour trip) to someone else's incredibly bad decision. And yes, maybe I would feel better if he was hurt. Maybe it would have made those freezing cold hours I spent with cranky, smelly, freaked-out complaining seniors more meaningful.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Radloff

It was Chris' birthday yesterday, and though it may seem that I'm a day late in wishing him many happy returns, I was actually celebrating this special event in full-Radloff style, and it took me 8 hours to finally locate a modern computing device to report my experience.

To honour the Radloff, I travelled hundreds of miles into the remote backwoods of Southwestern Ontario, to a sleepy farm community in possession of one post office, one bank, one school, three churches and and six taverns. Feeling almost immediately Iowan, I was escorted by 4 leather-jacketed and fully-patched bikers to a friend's garage, where I was handed a beer, and welcomed into a passionate garage-dude conversation about manifolds. Or something like that - I wasn't really paying attention. I was checking out the Snap-On-Tools calendar on the wall. Sweet.

After a solid game of "My-Bike-Rocks-Harder-Than-Yours", we barbecued luscious racks of pork ribs in the depths of a 17 degree F snowstorm. Three hours later, in a state of alcoholic nirvana, we traded air guitar licks in the living room and broke my mom's picture frames on the fireplace mantle.

So Happy Birthday Radloff, and thanks for a great party - you Iowans really know how to have a good time! Ois guade winsch i dia zum Gbuadsdog!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

happy birthday Birdy!

Today is Birdy's birthday. I'd like to wish my friend and occasional collaborative partner a great day, in spite of the fact that he doesn't really like the attention. Good thing for him that very few people read this blog.

Birdy ranks 2nd on my Top 10 List of People I Wish to Get Drunk and Photograph. This isn't because I like him. I mean, of course I enjoy the friendship, but there's a much bigger reason he beats out the other mega-celebs and heroes on my list. It's because no one in the online universe (save for his personal friends) has actually seen a photo of his face. He's a bit of a tease, regularly posting self-portraits of his eye or his chin or a finger or his chin again, but never the whole face. He's like a fucking Sasquatch. Photographic proof of his facial existence is so rare that I'm sure it'll fetch me some good coin and national media attention. Katrocket solves age-old Birdy mystery. News at 11.

So have yourself a helluva birthday, Birdy. If a dumptruck full of candy, driven by topless supermodels bearing pints of Guinness arrives at your office today, it's from me.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

the Office Pirate

A woman in my office throws up her hands in a kind of mock-despair. She's fed-up with something.

Office Woman: "Why does everyone keep making pirate comments today?"

(she does a funny little twirl, as if modelling for me)

"hey Kat, I don't look like a pirate, do I? I love this outfit! It's cute."

Let's see... black capri pants with cuffed hem, the cut is slightly flared out from the knee, and paired with knee-high black boots. They are not a sexy style of boot, but kinda like a middle-aged woman 'comfort' dress boot with a buccaneer heel and the toe slightly curved upward.

On top we have a black and white striped boat-neck cashmere sweater, some kinda black and red lacey fringed shawl-scarf thing around her waist in lieu of a proper belt (...what is it with moms and their dressy shawl-scarves worn in abstract ways? If you ever see me wearing one for reasons other than sheer warmth, please choke me with it.)

The only items that seem to be missing are the eyepatch and the parrot. And not every pirate was lucky enough to have an eyepatch or a parrot, but I thought 'my GOD woman, HAVE YOU NEVER SEEN A FUCKING PIRATE BEFORE?'

Me: "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar."


Saturday, February 3, 2007

When Squirrels Attack!!

7:18 Pm - I was walking through my neighbourhood park on the way home from work, minding my own business, when out of nowhere, a grey squirrel attacked me.

A quickly moving blur caught the corner of my eye, momentarily paralyzing me with shock. I reacted in cinematic slow motion as the blur leapt out at me from atop a nearby fence post. It landed on my shoulder, skidded across my back, and used my head as a springboard to launch itself skyward into a nearby low-hanging branch. This sent me into a fit of hysterical shrieking and arm-flailing, which did not go unnoticed by my old nemeses: The Dogwalkers Who Think They Own The Fucking Park.

Don't send hate mail: I actually love dogs. And dog owners. And other people who love dogs and dog owners. But these particularly self-righteous knobs give an evil face to the otherwise innocent and pleasurable hobby of Dog Ownership. The Dogwalkers let their freakyhyper hounds run lose so they can molest me with their grubby noses, and some of the dogs are rather aggressive in the crotch-smelling and leg-humping categories. Nice doggy, please stop fucking me! No lady, I don't think it's cute or precious. Call off your slutty mutt. RIGHT NOW.

Many of The Dogwalkers don't bother to scoop, littering the park with special little gifts from their special little friends -- something everyone can enjoy! And now they were laughing and pointing at me, armed with a good dinner-table story for the folks at home: "you'll never guess what I just saw in the dog park!" Not one of them asked if I was okay.

The squirrel will probably deny the attack. I'm sure it will maintain that it was merely using me as temporary transport location to get from point A to point B. It didn't bite me or cause serious harm, save for a near-coronary and an interesting new hairstyle -- which I kept, by the way. Just another commuter's badge of honour.