Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Posts posted by Velvet

  1. 102417

    Actually, it was only one drink (each), and an order of fries (again, each).

    The flight to Beijing went fairly well (for a thirteen-hour flight).  Heather and I had booked the aisle and window seats, leaving the middle seat hopefully empty.  No such luck this time, and we didn’t end up asking the lady to switch because she was watching movies and Heather’s headset movie machine was not working.  

    I had a beer and a pretty lousy chicken meal (not as bad as Heather’s Chinese fatty-pork), watched Wonder Woman and the new Spiderman movie (both not too bad), and curled up for got some fitful sleep.  I was finally fully asleep when the lights in the cabin illuminated and the loudspeaker came on*.  After a loud, aggressive bout of Chinese came the English translation, which went something like this:  

    “Ladies and gentlemen, we are three hours from Beijing.  We hope you have been getting a good rest, and we wish you the best of luck getting back to sleep after this announcement.  Please enjoy the rest of your painfully long flight.”

    I just don’t get it.

    I did, however, manage to get back to sleep just in time for the forty-minute pre-landing wakeup warning.  

    We landed in Beijing around 5pm local time.  Looking out the window as we approached the airport I noticed how very foggy it was outside.  When we actually landed I couldn’t see any fog outside at all.  Turns out it was not fog, it was pollution.  A crazy, crazy amount of pollution.

    We got off our tardy plane with less than 45 minutes to catch our connection to Hong Kong.  We jogged through the airport until we came to a sign that pointed one way for domestic flights and another way for international flights.

    Which stopped these two airport-runners dead in our tracks.

    Now, if you’re in Beijing and you are heading to Hong Kong, would you consider it a domestic flight or an international flight?

    Of course Hong Kong was a British territory for a long, long time but we all know it went back to China about twenty years ago.  So, domestic right?  But wait a minute, I’m carrying Chinese currency and Hong Kong currency; if it has it’s own money it must be international, right?

    (God only knows what country Macau is in!)

    The lack of any additional signage whatsoever really added to the mystery.

    So we lined up for a domestic transfer and were waiting to go through customs when a helpful stranger suggested we were in the wrong line.  We booked it over to the international line which was moving very slow and kept getting cut by airline employees pushing older folks in wheelchairs.  We eventually tried to stop one of the wheelchair-pushing line-butters.  He showed us a boarding pass that said 8pm.  We showed him ours that said we boarded at 6pm, which at this point was less than ten minutes away.

    He was impressed, but he still butted in front of us.  

    When we finally got through that line we ran downstairs and found a long queue to get through security (which was pretty redundant as we had just gotten off an international flight and had not left any secure section of the airport).  We showed the guard our boarding passes and without a flicker of a change of expression - the dude acted like a human robot - he indicated we were to follow him and he delivered us to the front of the line.  Security still took a while; I had to stand on a stool and hold my arms straight out for a full two-minute pat down.  When we got out of there we ran as fast as we could though we were pretty confident we were going to miss our connection (which would make us eat tonight’s hotel reservation and would they cancel the rest of our reservation if we don’t check in tonight and do we even have a phone number to call and will they speak English even if we do and…?).  

    I got ahead of Heather, yelling over my shoulder that I’d hold the plane for her.  When I finally saw gate E17 from a distance I could see that it was empty save the one, single check-in girl.  She spotted me and started waving her arms.  I couldn’t believe it, but it looked like were going to make it!  I got to the gate and I breathlessly pushed my boarding pass into to her extended hand.  Pointing back down the hallway I tried my best to speak.  “Hea…ther…(pant, pant, pant)…still…come…(pant, pant)…ing.”

    We made it onto the plane at the last minute and - dripping sweat - we took our seats in the last row, this time with nobody between us.  Mercy.  We lifted off and plunged through the smog bubble and up into the sky, and now here I sit with just about three hours between me and Hong Kong.

    The second plane only has those pop-down screens where we all watch the same movie**, which in this case is a Chinese film conveniently supplemented with Chinese subtitles.  Ah well, here comes the drink cart.

    And it’s 5am somewhere.

    *I always fly wearing earplugs and an eye mask (I call it ‘flying Tommy-style’) but I had accidentally left everything in my carry on and I just could not find the gumption to get up and dig them out, though I kept telling myself that I should.  And of course that sort of internal argument can do nothing but keep you mostly awake.  Like debating whether or not to get up and go to the bathroom when you’re sleeping in a tent.  

    **Though I’m an unabashed lover of the vast entertainment selection generally available on airplanes I gotta say I miss the old days when a screen would drop down at the front of the cabin and everyone on the plane was forced to watch (or try to ignore) the same movie together.  Whether we liked it or not, the cabin would inevitably laugh and gasp together at the funny and surprising parts.  Sure we all imagined having our own customized entertainment system built right in to the seatback in front of us, but we knew that was only a crazy dream future times and until then, hey at least we had Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy.

    And though the fulfillment of our collective dreams may have gained us freewill we have suffered a tragic and irreversible loss.  We have lost community.

  2. I haven't posted my travel logs in a long time.  In honour of our good friend Bradm (who enjoyed my travel logs and loved it when this board was more active) I'm going to start posting them again.  Though I don't have anything solid on the horizon right now I did just get back from China, so here goes:


    I think this might be my record for most miles travelled versus least time prepping.  Getting randomly yanked off the street and thrown into an airplane would have been the only way I could have been any less prepared as I was when we left Ottawa for China this morning.  When I woke up at 7am I hadn’t even started packing yet, and our curfew for leaving the house to take the cat to the sitters was 9:30.  (Heather’s mom again; she seems to be getting slightly less annoyed by the chore every time).  

    Frankly I hadn’t given the trip hardly a thought.  Leading up to today I had been busy getting a proposal together for a new book idea which completely distracted me from any thoughts of vacation.  After plugging away for the last week or so I had finished my rough draft at midnight last night and gone straight to bed.  

    (This all completely falls in with the fact that I booked the trip to China with hardly a thought as well.  A while back I saw a post on facebook advertising an Air China seat sale to Hong Kong priced at just $501 per person, return from Montreal.  I told Heather about it, we shrugged and booked it.  How could we not?  Imagine how I felt when a few weeks later I saw another post advertising the same flights at just $400, these ones time departing from Ottawa!  Can’t win them all.)

    Of course I got it together and packed with time to spare.  We dropped the cat off and made sure he was happy before circling the car around to the bus station where I left Heather and all of our luggage to stand in line for the Montreal bus.  I drove home, pounded a quick tall-boy and power-walked back to the Greyhound station, joining Heather in the Montreal line in thirty minutes flat.

    And here we are sitting on the bus.  I’ve gone over the book proposal for a quick proof-read and will send it in from the airport.  Then maybe I can start to relax and think about Honk Kong.

    Though I suspect I’ll just head straight to the nearest airport lounge and think about ordering a few drinks.


  3. My goodness, BradM was such a great friend. We went to Europe together, we saw countless, and I mean countless shows together, he introduced me to my wife, he was ALWAYS the first to arrive at every party I’ve thrown since I’ve known him, he was THE most dedicated music fan I’ve ever known (and in our crowd that’s saying a lot), and of course he recorded every band I’ve been a part of for the last…what…fifteen years? There are so many songs/lyrics/chord changes I would have forgotten if I didn’t have his recordings to go back to. He was so friendly, so smart, and so damn punctual. I mean, if a ticket said “8pm" BradM would be in the room by 7:30.

    For years - and I mean years - every time I saw BradM he would pull a handful of CD's out of his ever-present backpack that he had specifically burnt for me.  They might be a show we had seen together, a show I had recently played, or some local band he had  recorded that he thought I should hear.  I have literally boxes and boxes of these CD's, and so do a lot of other people.  Go ahead, put up your hand if BradM ever gave you a CD.  The man was so unbelievably thoughtful.

    BradM, I loved you. We all loved you. You were an indispensable, necessary, and utterly unique member of our social circle. You helped make it a community. You were so supportive. Man, you will be so, so very missed.

  4. I was at a restaurant in downtown Kingston last June having dinner on the patio before a Bob Dylan concert at K-Rock. I knew that Rob Baker was a regular at the restaurant so it wasn't a complete shock when he walked right behind me, leaving the restaurant. It was, however, a shock to notice that Gord Downie (and Gord Sinclair) were with him. They stopped to linger on the sidewalk and Gord Downie noticed that I had noticed him. 

    As I stared with my jaw slightly agape Gord leaned down and put his elbows on the little fence that seperated the patio from the sidewalk. He rested his chin in his hands and smiled, staring at me with a bemused look on his face. I stared and gaped, he stared and smiled. It seemed to last for thirty seconds or more. Eventually he got me: I flinched and looked away. 

    When I looked back the three of them had set off down the sidewalk towards the Dylan show, completely unmolested by the throngs of people in the busy streets, all of whom had the respect to treat them the same as everyone else.

    It's a wonderful final memory to have of a man I admire so much.

  5. Finally, House Of Targ is trying out music that I might be interested in!  This Wednesday is their first jazz night...hopefully they get a good enough crowd to make it a regular thing.  Maybe I'll see some of you there.


    SUPERMURGITROID Jazz Nite w/ 8 Bit-ches

    • Wednesday, October 18, 2017

    Presented by: House of TARG, PBR
    Doors: 8pm / Show at 8:30pm
    Cover: $5 / 19+

    SUPERMURGITROID - Jazz slang for really cool.

    Modern takes on classic video game console music as interpreted by some of Ottawa's hottest jazz musicians.
    8 Bit-ches
     (Ott Jazz Supergroup)
    The 8 Bit-ches are a cover band dedicated to classic console game themes. The quartet consists of some of Ottawa’s highest-scoring jazz players, who owe their quick fingers and epic grip strength to blistering rounds of Super Mario Kart as much as they do to music school. Expect to hear modern takes on the themes from Punchout, Super Mario World, Excite Bike, Mega Man, the Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog and many more of your favourite classic console games. The 8 Bit-ches deliver a total K.O every time!

    The players are: 
    Michel Delage - drums
    Alex Moxon - guitar
    Jake Von Warden - bass
    Steve Boudreau - keys


  6. You know in Raiders Of The Lost Ark at the end when they open the ark and all the nazi dudes melted?

    That's what happened to all the people around me in MSG when Phish started playing that Radiohead song.  Everyone just freakin' melted and there I am with a huge frown on my face, my arms crossed and I'm up to my ankles in melted hippie.   phorbesie leaned in with a suggestion: "Just pretend it's a jam."

    "Gawd, what a lousy jam."



  7. On 2017-07-23 at 5:53 PM, Freak By Night said:

    My trip was short.

    I left Ottawa early Friday morning and made it to the hotel in Jersey City by 4:20 pm a quick shower then I was on my way by the PATH train to the 33rd street station, right near Madison Square Garden. Met some peeps at a nearby pub, then it was off to the show at MSG.

    Phish killed it! What a great show with many musical peaks. I finally had a good seat for a show at MSG and I really enjoyed it. Musical highlights for me were "Halfway to the Moon", "Slave", "Suzy Greenberg" and "Tweezer". No reprise though! Maybe that will come later during this residency in New York. They also nailed a cover of Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" and the encore of Zep's "Good Times Bad Times".

    In all, I thought the concert was excellent. I met some really good people at the show. New York is a lot of fun.

    Afterwards it was a walk up to Times Square to catch moe. in a sold out late performance. As you've probably heard, Rob will be undergoing cancer treatment and they had to cut the summer tour short. This was one of the few dates they kept. The outpouring of love and support for Rob was great. There were several huge cards to sign at the merch table. The show was a lot of fun, I was dancing at the front to start but fatigue overcame me after a short while, I moved to the back where there were plenty of free seats in this very nice theater. I remained there for the rest of the show, which finally ended at about 3:30. The band got into some serious weird jams but finished with a stellar Rebubula and a touching cover of "Halleluja". It was a long day and I was very tired when I got back to the hotel just before 5 am, but I'm glad I caught moe. before their forthcoming hiatus.

    I'm seriously thinking of returning for the final weekend of these baker's dozen shows, the first weekend in August. Gotta scrape up some $$ for tix and accommodations.



    Good work.

  • Create New...