We's in California

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


89.3 KPCC has become our radio station of choice. They are a So Cal (I can say that because I live here now) station affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR), the largest and best noncommerical radio network in these here United States of America. You can tell by the names of their programs like "The Loh Down on Science" and "All Things Considered" that it is well rounded and worth listening to. They are supported by some private companies which you DO hear about in a very non-annoying ad every half hour or so and it isn't that bad. The majority of their funding comes from member pledges which I think Dayna and I might do in a few months because we do listen to it all the time.

The radio stations in many parts of the US (including ours) are...different. I've seen billboards for a station that says "If you're a Democrat, you probably won't like us". There are many very conservative Christian stations raining down fire and brimstone over the airwaves. It seems like the craziest thing you might hear on the radio in Winnipeg is Charles Adler complaining about potholes or two of Winnipeg's five "black guys" being funny on 107.9. Here the hosts get really really worked up.

They also get pretty stupid to. The craziest one is 97.9 "La Raza". It's a Spanish station that has their sticker on every older car in LA county. Their billboards are EVERYWHERE and always have their flagship DJ "El Cucuy" giving a thumbs up with about 12 girls in the background who are missing the bottom 29 thirtieths of their jeans. The only way to describe the sound of the station is lots of lazers combined with the Spanish bee guy from the Simpsons who is yelling as loud and fast as he can.

Back to my main point, KPCC is great. The best part is that I've heard the CBC mentioned a few times in NPR news stories as sources and weekday evenings between 10 and 11....As it Happens! I don't know if it's the voice of Barbara Budd, or the unreal flute solo in the intro song, but I love hearing it. It reminds me of home. Apparently AIH is syndicated all over the US on NPR. Say it loud, say it pround: "I'm not embarrassed about Canadian state sponsored radio!".

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Mass of Christ.

Every year a freak storm passes over The Grove shopping mall and it snows twice a night at 7 and again at 8 for two weeks in December. Scientists still haven't discovered the cause of this phenomenon, but it sure brings out the shoppers! It also has the side-effect of convicing parents to wait in line for 30 minutes to pay $12.50 to have their kids scared by Santa Clause and have their picture taken.

Scientists also haven't figured out how a Christmas tree can look so incredibly lame. A Korean scientist has came up with the formula:
(uneven light distribution * crooked star) / the fact that it is 3 feet tall and cost $30!) = look carefully at how bad the wrapping job is on the big green box. Guess who wrapped that one. But as we all know, Korean scientists HAVE been proved wrong before.

Anway, Merry Christmas to all. People freaking out about seeing the work "Christmas" and all of us shaking our heads at how many stores are open have just become part of the tradition by now, so just forget about it. Enjoy your family and be grateful for all we have and why we have it.

We plan on going to San Francisco for new years because we didn't want to pay $80 each to see the Flaming Lips in LA. Also, if you were wondering how indie we are, let's just say we got tickets to Wolf Parade without paying a scalper $150. (Which I actually saw on Craigslist). We are I don't really love them, but I do like them. So far over half the bands we've seen here are from Canada. Makes you wonder. About what you say? Only time will tell. Only time will tell. ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Notes about Van Nuys.

I've been reading a little about Van Nuys and the rest of the San Fernando Valley. Here are a few facts about places that are close to where we live. The links show where we live, and where these places are:

1) The Rodney King beating. Believe it.
2) Van Nuys High School - this is where Fast Times at Ridgemont High went down.
3) Vivid Video is apparently the largest porn production company in the world. In 2002 they made over a billion dollars. A billion. That's 1000 million. The only studio where they make their movies (that make them a billion dollars) is nice and close.
4) Encino Man. Remember? I hope not.
5) This is not a place but is very important. In Pulp Fiction when Vincent and Jules are looking for where to hide the dead guy in their car, Jules says "I ain't got no partners in the 818". That's our area code. I guess sometimes the streets can get heavy in the 204 as well.
6) We go to movies at the Sherman Oaks Galleria . Frank Zappa wrote the song "Valley Girls" about girls at this mall who like totally, like talk like this and abbrev their like words. So that's where every girl in grade 11 English class comes from.

And so on and so forth. Van Nuys has been described in the LA Times as " a giant bowl of oatmeal."

Although this description of our area of town is more confusing than derogatory, it's still ours and we still like it! It's like Wolesely without the hippies, nice old houses, dogs, yuppies, and trees. Errr?

We miss our family and friends and hope they are following their advent calendars dutifully in anticipation for the celebration of Christmas. We have a few fun plans for the holidays and perhaps our next post will have a Christmas theme. And maybe even a picture of us at a market we plan on going to that apparently shoots fake snow in the air for 4 hours a night for the next few weeks. Sounds environmentally devastating.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Libraries. So good.

I would say that we are avid readers. Avid is a term usually only used when people describe their reading habits and want other people to think they're smart because they are in fact "avid" readers. The problem for Dayna and I is that in addition to being avid readers, we move a lot so buying books has become kind of a hassle. The boxes...oh the boxes. So although when I become a "grown up" and buy a "house" I want to be one of those people who has a big book shelf of all the books I've read, we've decided that for now the library is a better option.

Boy did we find a good one. It's fairly close and has a great selection of books. I think we've been turned off by libraries for a while because in Winnipeg the Centennial has been closed for two years and Winnipeg's smaller branches are not very good. They just ain't. Dayna checked out some high class Marilynne Robinson literature, her usual delicious veggie cookbook, and a "How to Speak Spanish and MEAN It" cd set. I got a few local history books, a book about the history of religious extremeism in the Middle East (what extremeism?), and a Las Vegas travel guide. Screw Mossad and Hamas, I want Celine Dion!

Three points about our library:
1) Just like in Canada there were posters of celebrities saying how a awesome it is to read. But instead of Elvis Stojko in a tutleneck there was LL Cool J and other rappers who endorse other things in their music besides reading. Like shooting people.

2) The library was connected to a "Child Development Center". People in Los Angeles seem to be overly interested in the development of their children. People live vicariously through their kids to a degree that I've never seen in Canada. In the US since college is more of a priveledge and WAY more expensive than Canada and it seems like your whole life revolves around getting into college, even at a very young age. Every single minivan you see has a sticker that says something annoying like "My Child is an Honor Student at I.M. Greedy Middle School". I say let kids be kids. I would settle for "My Child Hasn't Done Drugs Yet!".

3) Most of the people in the library were on the computers wasting time on or playing games. I think it's unfortunate that this is what libraries are being reduced to. Every time I'm in a library I realize how awesome it is and I'm scared that when I retire at 32 and follow what I now realize is my true calling, there won't be any real libraries left that need librarians. I think that in a world without libraries we would be left with an ignorant population. People would have no insight into the world we live, be ignorant for the most part, and most would actually find this billboard funny:

On the other hand, if we keep libararies and reading culture alive, if people learn and understand their own history and develop a love and respect for the written word, then we will be rewarded with a population who just as I, when they see this on the side of the road, know that it is funny and take a picture:

They look like boobs!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Vayamos a México, otra vez

Yesterday Dayna and I went to Tiajuana to get my TN visa. This time we parked "State Side" and walked over the border because we didn't feel like waiting in line in our car for over an hour to get back (while people bang on our windows trying to sell us sombraros, castanets, ponchos and anything else nobody in Mexico under the age of 120 actually has). I've mentioned it before, but there is no security going into Mexico. Here it is evident that the Mexican government's strategy to protect citizens from foreign drugs and weapons and also to prevent cheap foreign labor from coming in and destroying its thriving "really big hat" industry is to only let in those who know how to push a revolving gate.

What follows is the process you must follow when getting your TN visa:

1) As soon as you walk into Mexico turn around. Immediately.
2) Get into the lineup outside the US admin building.
3) Wait for over an hour.
4) Right before your turn is up, watch as the first white person you've seen in over an hour cuts the line and walks right into the building.
5) Get really mad because you know if your older brother was there, he would have flipped out on that girl because you know as does he that people cutting lines is first in a short serious of human behaviors that leads to...Total Anarchy!
6) Overhear the attractive white line-cutter girl in the bad powersuit get her TN visa, flirt, giggle, and do everything but actually have sex with the Customs and Border Patrol officer across the desk.
7) Just as she was leaving, (and at this point I had been thinking for about 20 minutes of what I could say to her because I was so mad), she said to the CBP officer "! This is like totally the fastest I've ever done my TN!". Perfect. Almost...too....perfect. I walked up behind her, tapped her on the shoulder, and informed her that this was because she actually cut everyone in line. She got really embarassed and started making up some excuse about how she was such a hoochy or something like that. I wanted to turn around and give Dayna the "up top, down low, too slow!" but for some reason she didn't look like she would be into it.

The serious point about this whole affair is that she, being white and good looking, looked at the line of what she saw as poor Mexicans, and knew that if she walked right in, they wouldn't even question her. People just looked around at each other and thought there was nothing they could do. When I saw that I got so...emotional? I don't want to read too much into this incident, but it was a subtle yet powerful display of how powerless people can become based on, and even saying this phrase sounds cliche, the color of their skin.

Aaaaanyway, that got a little preachy but needless to say I got the visa without having to get beaten with a phone book for hours on end by a man in uniform.

We went looking for a library today. What did we find? Stick around to find out!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

New Job.

I (Gareth) got a job last week. It's with a company that sends doctors and nurses to elderly and palliative patients' homes instead of making them go to the hospital. This works out better for patients because
A) It drastically improves the quality of life for these people because they worry less, get regular care, don't have go through the trauma of visiting the hostpital, etc.
B) It saves their health care providers a lot of money, which (hopefully) in turn saves patients money.
This company is cool because they really believe in what they do. Plus Julie Andrews is a spokesperson for them, which gives them street cred. So basically I'm a doctor for them. My U of M computer science degree was enough and when I told them I watch Scrubs on my computer, that sealed it. I'm totally kidding, like totally. I'm helping with the online patient records system. Should be really fun. The company is growing like crazy and they're actually moving closer to where we live so it will only be about 20 minutes to work! That's unheard of by LA standards. Which are pretty low standards. For commuting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A new iron curtain drawn across the 49th parallel.

We saw Propaghandi and Greg MacPherson last week. There's nothing that makes you feel cooler than seeing one of your hometown bands in a place that's far away from your hometown. Added to the fact that this show was in Hollywood and these two bands stand for pretty much everything that Hollywood isn't, it added to our very self-indulgent feeling that we (and nobody else) "got it". I wore my St. Boniface t-shirt to the show and when I struck up a conversation with the merch guy and he exclaimed "Where did you get that shirt!?", I pretended I didn't even realize I was wearing it, even though I totally did. (We also saw David Bazan. He was great.)
Still, there is a definite feeling talking to people here that many have a difficult time finding a sense of community, something I think Winnipeg is an amazing city for. I think there are two factors at play here.
1) The physical geography of the city can give it a very "sterile" feeling. There's something about being enclosed in a metal box with windows for hours a day that makes it difficult to feel very connected with people sharing this experience. Living in central Winnipeg you almost have to try not to become part of the community at large.
2) Many people our age come here to "make it". Whether this is in business or the pornography industry, the focus is on professional achievement
(and for most this boils down to $$$). "Health" here almost always means "Physical Appearance" and you really have to look to find people and places where this does not apply.

Now to completely turn this around and make us look like hypocritical idiots, here are shots me being cool and of Dayna enjoying our new car the only way a new car can be enjoyed: Smelling it so hard that you need to actually touch your nose on the dash. Don't laugh Dayna..don't!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


A few days ago we had our first Entertainment Industry Personal Encounter. I realize that we will not ever really meet someone "famous" out here (and neither do we care to), but I suspect we will run into more people that exist somehow on the margins of the movie/television/useless garbage industry that makes its home in our neighborhood.
We were at the post office and an older Jewish fellow beside us started asking our teller about a manuscript for a book that he had sent to his publisher in Florida. Apparently the manuscript hadn't made it. I immediately told this man I was surprised that writers still send things via "snail mail" instead of emailing it. I think I offended him because immediately he told me he's been a TV writer for over 20 years. Then he told me he wrote alot episodes of Different Strokes and Full House.
I froze.
My veins turned to ice.
My head started pounding like a set of djembe drums that first year college boy treeplanters bring to camp along with their $300 boots.
Standing in front of the man who could very well be responsible for the fact that people know who John Stamos is, I wasn't sure wether to shake his hand or punch him in back of the head. I also think many of our generation lost the innocence of childhood the first time we heard Dave Coulier talk in his "funny voice". Anyway, I let it slide because I always warmed up with Full House before the really weekday pre-supper headliner Fresh Prince came on. Plus he was a really nice guy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dept. of Homeland Security Manual: Section 5, Article 2C

Regarding well educated Canadians from the praries with good jobs and proper identification and paperwork requirements completed, DO NOT BE FOOLED. In a recent study this demographic has proven to be the number 1 trafficker of illegal narcotics, followed in distant second by Columbians in boats who don't speak English and have no identification.

One common tactic these groups of Canadians have been known to employ is to package their household goods in clear plastic containers, thinking that the fact that you can see everything inside will prevent us from opening the package. Again, STAY VIGILANT. As soon as you see this behavior, lift the package above your head and throw it across the room, making sure it lands on it's corner, breaking open and allowing you to inspect the contents that could already see from the outside.

If they ship a computer, DO NOT BE FOOLED. 92% of all drugs and weapons entered the US last year inside the Apple Emac. To make sure it is a computer and not an empty case with drugs or weapons inside, DO NO PLUG IT IN AND TURN IT ON and DO NOT USE SNIFFING DOGS. It may blow up. Instead, rip the back off with a crow bar.

Also, make sure you do a good job of this because we are charging these "Canadians" several hundred dollars for these containers to cross the border and we have a reputation of security and understanding to uphold.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Holy macaroni.

So, ever though about buying a house in LA instead of paying rent? This is what 399,999 American dollars gets you. No joke, I checked others like it and its same idea.
And to think in Winnipeg that gets you a place on Wellington Crescent. Then again you need to take into account other factors, like quality of life. Wait a minute, 3 minutes of cold until your car warms up versus 3 minutes to pull out of your driveway...then another 120 to get to work. Hmmmm?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Interview with a gang-star.

LA has the perfect example of every stereotype out there. Ever. And this is why I bring it up:
We're sitting at a desk in the bank today. A BMW pulls up. In walks a man.

He has gold teeth.

Apparently he plays for the North Carolina Tar-Heels because he is draped, doo-rag to sneekas in it. Then again maybe he doesn't because he has a debilitating limp. Which I'm sure he's faking. He has 6 gold rings, four on one hand, and two on the other. He has Chanel sunglasses on. Inside. He had a keyring on his back pocket with about 100 keys on it. (which I didn't really "get".) He was sucking a huge sucker at 10 in the morning. (which explains why so many of his teeth needed to be replaced with solid gold.) Etc, etc, etc.

Our banker is nowhere to be found so Dayna and I are leaning back trying hear what he is saying to his banker without laughing which would have probably gotten us shot. Throughout the course of his conversation we picked up the following sentences:

"I was hit with 50 g's yesterday." - 50,000 dollars was deposited into my account. At this point his banker also started referring to thousands as g's. Seriously.
"My account's been blowin' up" - I am doing something illegal and it is quite lucrative.
"I be shown' my face at 'Big in 05'." - I looked it up and it's a VH1 award show. He is going.

"It's hittin' the airwaves on VH1, January 1st. Yu' gonna like it man, me and 14 ladies. I ended up with a good one." - He just finished taping a VH1 dating show with 14 women who all really wanted this person.
"Hit me back." - He said this before hanging up his cell phone. It means please return my call. That was my favorite one because it's subtle, yet super. I use it now.

Anyway, a fairly surreal experience all in all. He made me think of Jay-Z's best line, (or maybe the only one I know) "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man." Yes, yes and yes.

(PS: Here is Warren and Suzanna's msn space. From monkeys pulling glasses of peoples faces, to my brother in a tilly hat, it's got it all!)