my grampaw, the warlock

Oh, it’s not all Alan Rickman’s laser gaze and cute teens prancing around the Great Hall in robes, nosiree.

from the Archive:

My Grampaw, the warlock

Friday, September 30, 2005

Well it makes a hell of a lot of sense, if you think about it.

Even if he wasn’t my grandfather.

Depends on your definition, see. Are you an “on paper” person, or an “off the record” person? Because who my grandfather is depends on who you are in just that way.

On paper, Tom Bailey was my grandfather. Off-paper, or in other fact readily on-paper, he was at sea for ten months before my mother was born. In long retrospect, ie a visit almost 40 years after the fact, a picture of the next-farmer-over’s lawful daughter, sitting on top of the tv, looked enough like my mother to settle the matter. So. Are you a bureaucrat or are you a gossip? Those are your choices.

So. Tom Bailey was known as a warlock. Not a pagan. Please don’t make that mistake; Tom Bailey was a warlock, meaning he had allied himself to what he recognized as the powers of darkness in order to gain power, rather than wrapped himself in silk togas on long weekends and melted aromatherapy candles while doing tarot for his knitting club.

Awwww, how can you say that about a poor, semiliterate farmer?
Any number of ways, starting with the fact that, stone cold sober, he shot out the wall between the living room and the kitchen knowing full-well that his children and wife were on the other side. He wanted to practice, you see.

One of my aunts, as happens in families, was known as “the pretty one,” and, as happens in families, she prided herself on it. Until she was fourteen. At fourteen, she suddenly sprouted warts all over her hands. Now, anyone nowadays knows warts are caused buy a virus. And there’s nothing you can do but get them frozen off. But back then, there was no known cause and nothing you could do. And she was sure, absolutely sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no man would ever marry her with these warts on her hands.

She cried. Of course she did. She cried night and day. And did it bother Tom Bailey? Of course it did not; with a father like him, the kids were always bawling anyway. But finally, after an interminable time during which nobody in the house was able to sleep because of the wailing and the tension, Tom Bailey took arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, ended them.

He said, “You stay here. The others will leave the house. Let them go to my brother, across the way. Tell them not to come back until an hour after dark. NOT. BEFORE.” and she did what she was told, related what she’d been told, they did what they were told, and an hour after sunset they headed back.

She was thin and shaking. She would not speak. She held her hands out, and they were flawless. They have remained flawless to this day, as has her silence.

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more marketing tips for hookers

Part Two of Three: Part One and Part Three. From the Archive.

  Friday, September 20, 2002

4) Keep Your Neighbors Happy

Hooker Barbie!It is a people business, as I said, and your neighbors are people, too. If you alienate them, they shut you down; if you make friends you get free espressos from Starbucks!

Years ago, when I was working at the Starbucks on East Hastings, near the Franklin Street Kiddie Stroll, we used to have a hooker as a regular customer. Her pimp used to send her in for drinks for all his girls, a couple of times a day. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the hookers from the civilians, especially post-Britney, but there was no mistaking her.

She was about 25, and 5’10” with baby-chick blonde hair piled on top of her head in a loose, tendrilly bun. Her outfit was always the same: Skintight white vinyl mini with matching bandeau top and bolero, high white boots with massive platforms and heels, sometimes matching gloves or, in the dead of winter, a big, grandma-knitted style scarf that had more square footage than the rest of her outfit combined. Makeup out to there. She was absolutely gorgeous, to boot.

There was no point even trying to help her; every man in the shop dove for the till as soon as she cleared the door. She would flirt with them while they made her order (as slowly as possible) and gave her free espressos while she waited, just as long as she stayed right there.

She was always nice to the rest of us, too, and once, when we complained that the crowd in the store was so noisy they were driving us crazy she said, “Leave it to me,” and paced the length of the store slowly, sashaying for all she was worth. The place went silent. We gave her two free drinks that day. I remember offering to call her a cab once, when the rain had turned to snow, but she said “No, that’s okay, I’m never without a ride or a way to get one.” And she stepped outside, gave one sashay, and we heard the squeal of tires. As good as having a car, and no insurance costs!

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the legend of Stamp’s Landing, with bonus legend decoder

Stamp's Landing 

from the archives 

The Legend of Stamp’s Landing, with bonus legend decoder
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Got this from the back of a menu at the pub. Hey, you think this kinda thing makes it into Toynbee???

The Legend of Stamp’s Landing

Stamp’s Landing was named by Captain Edward Stamp in honor[sic] of his great-grandfather who, in 1794, under the command of Lord Howe, fought in the battle of “the Glorious 1st of June” [they fought grouse from British warships off Spanish Banks? Vancouver’s history is even more colourful than I’d imagined. What kind of ordinance did the grouse use against the Brits, I wonder].

Sir William Henry Stamp, Bart [which isn’t a Simpson’s reference: it means “Baronet”] the commander of HMS Formidable [a word I can spell only by remembering the French, which sounds way cooler anyway, even just in your head] 74 guns, did engage in that battle and sustained a heavy blow to the head [ the Bart, not the Formidable]. Delirious, he jettisoned a small landing craft, boarded it and drifted into a fog bank and disappeared.

He drifted for several days at last hitting a rock shore in a small inlet now known as False Creek. He was greeted there by several friendly natives who cared for him, sustained him with food and drink, and showed him a good time. [he musta been a big spender]

After a year, he reluctantly bid farewell to that friendly place [besides, the girls were starting to “show” by now]. The natives took him into open water at what is now known as Point Atkinson. There he was picked up by a packing frigate that was patroling the area. Stamp related the story of his landing in that friendly place with beautiful women, good food and drink and warm companionship. All aboard were fascinated by the stories and the good fortune of Stamp’s Landing.

Throughout the years the name “Stamp’s Landing” has lived in legends of good fortune and navel [sic again, unless this is another sly pregnancy reference] luck. When adrift at sea, sailors would propose a toast with whatever rations they had left, “Here’s to another Stamp’s Landing!

and now for the Secret Legend Decoder, which I got from inside mine own head. 

Secret Legend Decoder

So this dude, no doubt sent abroad for sheer uselessness, as were so many young men of the times (there’s always a surplus of useless young men; at least, there was back then, before the days of motorcycles and fatal vending machine accidents) got the shit scared out of him when he was bopped on the head with something in battle with the fearsome grouse of the Lower Mainland, and besides, he was in the wrong ocean entirely anyway. So when an opportune fog bank rolled in, he got into a wee boat, hoping to sneak away from the action unmissed.

He succeeded, landed, managed to make some friends among some unwarlike people, and spent many months making a parasitic nuisance of himself. Finally, when they’d had enough of this pasty-faced layabout, they stuck him on a boat out in the middle of traffic, where sure enough some lemolo kingchauch sailed by and went: oh look! Anudder whiteboy! Let’s fish him up! Whereupon this dude lied the pants off himself and thus became legendary.

So much easier to do when you’re the one writing the legend, eh?

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(phone) service with a smile

From the Archive

why yes, I AM free on Saturday night...Monday, October 10, 2005

I was a little worried. Really, it takes a fair lot to worry me, particularly about strangers, most of whom I consider protein reservoirs God gives us so we don’t starve when the cows all die. But I was a little worried, it must be said. Typed. Whatever.

A little. It was the sounds that worried me, the sounds coming from the little room behind the concierge desk at the Hotel Vancouver. The one that only the concierge and “Todd” were allowed to go into. I never saw Todd, to this day I have never seen Todd and so would be useless at activities such as, ferinstance, picking him out of a lineup, but I knew he was back there and she was, too, and that’s where the sounds were coming from.

The sounds like a grizzly bear and a mountain lion fighting to the death.

What does this have to do with my new cellphone camera?

I'm a happening dude!Everything. It’s all about the phone, baby. All of it. Look around you. Yes, right now. Right where you are, in that stinky Internet cafe in Beijing or that suburban converted garage. All of that, all that you see: it belongs to the phone.

Believe in the power of the phone.
Do it now: Save time.

Anyway, it was all about the phone. The idea that a perfectly polite concierge could give her life in service of the phone was, as I said, a little worrying. I mean, what if Richard Branson found out? He’d be so mad…

It’s a Virgin phone. But then, if you realize I update this blog five fifteen to forty times a week (it’s gotten worse), you’ll realize I have, in fact, no life and therefore it’s almost by definition a Virgin phone.

I’ve already texted and sent pix on it…does that count, or can I still wear white for my first download?

It all started, like most BC stories, at London Drugs. Well, before that it started when I came into a slight amount of money, what most people would consider a week’s pay, which to me was like the sky opening up and God sending down angels, angels who looked like Daniel Radcliffe, Viggo Mortensen, and Gabriel Byrne and sounded like Alan Rickman, and each of whom handed me a three piece living room suite made of solid gold.

You know, like that.

Naturally, I went straight to London Drugs. Well, there was a slight disagreement at the bank, but once the cashier informed me that my wallet would not fit that much in twenties, I took her advice and got several hundreds instead, feeling sure in the deep recesses of my heart, that nobody would EVER take a hundred. Of course, I haven’t been to the West Side in ages and am a bit out of touch.

So I went straight to London Drugs. Now, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Vancouver woman in possession of a small fortune must be on her way to London Drugs. And not without reason, because it’s sort of a cross between Harrods and Santa’s Workshop. Believe me, there is not one single item available for sale in this world that cannot be obtained at London Drugs if you’re willing to wait for the shipment from China.

Naturally, that’s where I bought my phone.

I'm tawkin heyah!You can get these things everywhere, but if you get them at Future Shop the half-life of the employee is less than that of enriched Uranium, so good luck getting any help if you’ve got a problem later. So I went to London Drugs, and I stood there in front of the very nice phone display, being completely ignored by all the no doubt longterm employees who were probably busy thinking about their pension plans and feeling smug. I finally went over to a guy who was straightening two dollar blank videotapes and asked him if he wouldn’t mind selling me a phone.

I got the good one.

It was only a hundred dollars more, but this one takes pictures. It does lots of other shit too, but who gives a rat’s ass about that: I ain’t even looked it up yet. All I cared about was the pictures. And I got thirty-two of ’em right now! So that was a good choice and as soon as I get more time I’ll upload them and spam them all across this damn blog so my loyal readers in Norway will finally be able to see what the Irish Heather actually looks like. So then they can move on…

“Now, you know that this is self-activated,” said Mister London Drugs Guy, sternly. There was a pause to let the words sink in. Instead, they bounced harmlessly off my cranium, which is not equipped with a database that includes the definition of terms such as “Self-activated phone”. I mean, does it go blind if it self-activates too much?

“Okay. Sure. Whazzat?” said I, smoothly and trying to look like my density was ironic rather than disabling.

Seriously, the dog looks embarassedHe explained I had to find another phone and call virgin…hell, everyone I know is…nevermind…and call Virgin and get them to basically turn the phone on. And I thought only pervs were turned on by Virgins. And I thought only Hello Kitty turned on virgins.

So that’s how I ended up at the Hotel Vancouver. No, really, that’s a natural segue…fill in the blanks. Where would YOU take a virgin? Ah, probly the Cecil; everyone knows about you.

It’s posh, and I’ve always liked it. It’s not French posh, where the furniture looks at you like, do not even think of sitting upon me, you plebian! It’s just nice old-fashioned Canadian robber baron posh, and the public phones are among the best in Vancouver. They’re off to the side, down a hallway leading to the porte chochere, and nobody ever goes there except couples arriving by cab. The phones have lots of space, they’re in a quiet alcove with carpeting and no background noise, and there’s a bar right next door if my call should be so traumatic to require medication, although at that place I can only afford one.

So I get there, I dial the number handily printed on the back of the box, I am amused by Richard Branson‘s choice of voice messages, and I get to a helpful person who walks me through picking a number, etc etc.

Then we get to the part about “and now you turn it on.”

Alexander Graham Bell, pleaseSee, I have to take it out of the box for that. And it’s not a normal box, oh no. It’s a plastic blister pack about the size of a large canned ham and about the thickness of David Beckham. Meaning, they should put THIS on those Hummers headed for Iraq, because although I am using a very pointy steel pen, ten fingernails and my very expensively orthodontized teeth, I cannot get this fucker open no matter what.

So I say, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to hang up now and find some weaponry” and she says an uncertain, “okay,” and that’s how I end up at the concierge desk, explaining that I am not a guest but I am hoping she can help. She lights up; obviously HR found just the right person for this thankless job of helping strangers all day. She hauls out a pair of scissors so big they might be a prop for Hagrid, and starts cutting. And cutting. And cutting. She cuts of the edges all around the rim, leaving them splayed all over her desk like she’s been shoeing draft horses with French manicures or something, but can she get into the actual space where the phone is?

She cannot.

We admit defeat. For a second. Then, a slight sound, a rustle from the back room reminds her that, “Todd is back there! Todd‘s…burly! He’ll get this open!” and she gleefully runs through the swinging door to her fate.

Which brings us to the top of the page…

After the grizzly and the cougar had fought it out for a good, solid five or six minutes straight (which was kind of embarrassing, as everyone in the lobby turned and stared at me, like that poor girl had given her life and jumped into the enclosure just so that this greedy, selfish bitch could get her phone activated) she re-emerged, a little sweaty.

“I’m sorry about the packaging. Todd‘s a little…well…sorry,” she said, tipping my shiny new phone, two instruction booklets, and what looked to be the remains of an acrylic nail factory explosion into my messenger bag.

Good to go! (phone) service with a smile
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a lucrative sideline…

from the Archive

That's a nice crop, Joe. Be a shame for something to happen to it...Lucrative. Outdoorsy. Bizarre. Potentially fatal. I tell you, this has me written all over it. I wonder if Crimestoppers pays by the bale or by the grow-op when you turn them in…

I’m just sayin’…one might run into such things from time to time on one’s travels. And one must think of the future. A future, perhaps, under an assumed name, but it certainly wouldn’t be the first nor for the last time for lil’ ol’ raincoaster here, as you can probably imagine.

Again, there exists the distinct possibility that the grow-ops, knowing on which side their bread was hemp-nut-spreadded, would pay one to keep such information to one’s self. And the fact that, should one take such money with every intention of turning them in anyway and should one thereafter actually do so, there would be, insofar as I can see, no law whatsoever that would compel one to give that money back. I mean, they can hardly claim under contract law for an illegal action: and I, I mean “one,” couldn’t be charged with blackmail if one never intended to keep the secret. One would, obviously, be guilty of lying to pot gangsters but while this is indeed stupid, I do not see that it is actually illegal. It’s not like they’re airline security monkeys.                    

How much…?