Sunday, February 21, 2010

Winnipeg - Soo - Toronto

Once again I've been slack about this blog stuff but that's teh way I am.  Anyways, thanks for popping in and I hope you enjoy the last few episodes of my travels in North America.  Last time we were together I'd just finished playing cricket in Winnipeg and was heading off on the Greyhound heading east.

I'd spent my last night in Winni over a few beers and a game of German Bacgammon.  Can't remember really how it went but at one stage I had to give Schultz a strudel so he wouldn't do anything about Newkirk dressing up as a General and me using Klink's car for a trip to the Hammelburg Beerfest with young Hilda in tow.  Next morning I was off again with my green mate Gumby perched on the window and the promiuse of Ontario in the wind.  But it was still a way off so I stopped at St Sault Marie (Soo),  near the edge of those big bits of water which straddle Canada and Yankeedogland I had a sore foot again and needed to rest up for a couple of days.  The area is pretty much a winter tourist place but while I was tehre I went on a boat trip around the Sault locks which link a couple of the aforersaid big bits of water (Lake Superior being one of them).  It was impressive enough and kept me off my sore foot for half a day.  The youth hostel inlcuded a small library where I swapped books, I was going through them at a great rate on the long bus trips.  I left behind a Heinlein and a Kerouac and took on board Micheners' "The Drifters", a rollicking tale of ratsackers in Europe in the late 60's.  Hmmm, been there, done that.

In Soo I was down at the shops getting some tucker when a bloke from Bankstwon (south-west Sydney) heard my accent and introduced himself.  He was  a Canterbury Bulldogs supporter and to celebrate we held an impromptu meeting of The Bulldogs Overseas Supporters Squad at the first bar we came across.  This lasted most of the night and Dave and I were in fine form as we attempted top paint the town blue and white.  I remember getting rejected twice, slapped once and developing a tsate for Canadian Club (not the one used for hitting seals).  I must have developed a few other things because next morning I was feeling pretty rancid.  Those Hangover Gorillas had struck again with vengeance.  I put off continuing my bus trip and stayed another day in Soo, looking at the water, looking at the sky and wishing to fuck that I hadn't met Dave.  Dave by the way had somehow insinuated himself into the arms of a local dress shop worker and it was mid afternoon before I saw him again.  I congratulated him on his success and wished him all the best for his trip over to Vancouver.  The late afternoon saw me at a local museum checking out the artifacts (indigenous, historical and lake type stuff) and felt like a refreshing beverage to steer me through the evening.  As with all good museums there was a pub nearby, so lickety-split to the Victoria Inn.  Cold beer, a good steak dinner and another beer lifted my spirits considerably and I started chatting to a few people watching a baseball game.  There were two girls and a guy so I my thinking was that I could even up the odds a bit.  Then I noticed the damned wedding rings on all of them.  Still, we sat around and talked and drank and were joined by another two of their friends. I started putting in some spade work on one of the new girls, Katie.  I also made sure she wasn't going to get thirsty in a hurry.  The evening was great, the Canadians were fine party company and Katie became the most beautiful girl in the world, so I told her that.
By jingies, it worked!  We did all that cute holding of hands and sly frotting stuff before I discretely asked her if she'd ever seen the Soo submarine races.  So we went off to see them.

When I woke up at around 7.00 refreshed and pumped I didn't know where the hell I was but Katie soon let me know.  Should I stay or should I go?  Well, faint heart and all that and Katie was keen so I delayed my departure for half an hour to take care of business.  We went to a cafe near her place for breakfast and she gave me a lift back to the hostel.  She even waited while I packed my gear and then gave me a quick tour around town before dropping me off at the greyhound terminal.  I don't know what Katie Did Next but I'm sure she did it with style and generosity.  Thanks K!

The 12.15 took me to Sudbury, within spitting distance of Toronto.  I stayed at Sudbury overnight wondering why I'd left such a find as Katie in my wake.  Wasn't the first time, probably not the last either but it did make me think a bit about such quick liaisons.  The bus journey was made more tedious by these unbidden ponderances on the emotional life of a traveller.  Fuck it, time to get sorted.  In Sudbury it was shitfight from the Greyhound depot to the hostel where I sat watching the Copmmonwealth Games and cheering for Oz, Canada and even the Kiwis ( I was eyeing off a lass from Christchurch seated at the same table).  Thehostel manager didn't agree with my thinking that drinking was okay in thehostel common room.  Something about kids being present.  Must have been worried that they'd nick my beer.  Our tabel left to pursue our alcoholic needs outside, but it was a poor substitute for a comfy room and TV sport.  sudbury sucked, so it was with great joy that I left the prison the next morning and soon after midday was on board a Greyhound, destination Toronto. I wondered if Doug had received my letters and postcards but then I'd already booked a hostel bed in case he'd suddenly developed common sense and put me on the unwated list.
So it was late afternoon when I phoned Doug from the hostel in downtown Toronto and an hour later he walked in grinning his grin and howling with laughter at Gumby, perched half out of my pack, waving his tiny green arm.

We spent the night boozing it up with Doug's room mates.  He and a couple of other blokes (Yug and Rob),were buying a house in one of the traditional working suburbs and it was their home.  Three young blokes sharing a house.  It was known bythe rest of their crew as The Clubhouse.  The reunion with Doug was a blast.  We laughed at some of our antics in Europe and I pretty much eased into this circle of young Torontonians.  The second day we went to The Beaches, hung in a couple of bars and the guys showed me around Toronto.  The next week pretty much blends into a blur of parties, pubs and sightseeing.  I also met up with Phil, an acquaintance from Sydney who'd worked in teh same governemnt department as me.  I'd met him once during a weekly Squash tournament a few other colleagues and I indulged in.  I liked the game because it was a balance to soccer training and was a good mid-week muscle stretcher and thirst builder.  Phil was married to a Torontonian and we were due to hook up with Jerry.  Jerry was one of the blokes who missed a rendezvous in Basel which led to my meeting up with Doug 'n  Dave with whom I launched into some amusing adventures in Europe. So a couple of years later and we'd finally get our shit together, this time in Canada.  Jerry was living in London on a 2 year break from Oz, working in a hotel frequented by B list celebrities.  He was due in Toronto at the end of my first week there.

A day later Doug took me to a home game of his baseball team.  He was the captain and seemed pretty serious about it to me, especially when I offered to bat clean up.  His team mates were mostly from where he worked so it was good for company morale that Doug led them to a good victory without my help.  We ended up at The Unicorn, an English style pub, drinking Blue and mucnhing on ribs 'n wings.  We organised to get to a Blue Jays game at some stage.  The following day I went to Phil's place and met up with Jerry.  The silly bugger actually made it!  Phile and Adele supplied a splendid dinner and I supplied wine and beer
Jerry and I reviewed our plans, thinking that NYC and places south would be good.  Doug resuced me from sensible talk by coming around and picking me up then driving me back to the clubhouse where I rooled up some hash I'd procured.  The deal had been that I'd meet this guy, lined up by one of Doug's friends in a bar a mile or so away from Doug's place.  We didn't know each other so to put a stop to any confusion and mystery I simpl wore an Australia t shirt.  Took about ten minutes, thirty bucks and a beer.  Easy.  Back at Dougs we launched into the hash, a few beers and laughed uproariously at Letterman.

The following day Phil, Adele, Jerry and I ended up in Centre Isle where we rode bicycles (anything to build up a thirst) and then went to Harbourfront for a few beers.  Back at Doug's the boys had a bbq parrty lined up so I went and bought some more Labbatts Blue and a bottle of Jack.  Then we cooked burgers and dogs, drank Labbatts, smoked hash and I attempted to talk to a few of the girls.  I had no hope.  They'd been told all sorts of bad things and didn't want to know.  All I did notice was Doug and the boys laughing uproariously whenever I received the cold shoulder. Nothing elese to do but join the dance and party on!

The next day I cooked up the breakfast and in the afternoon ws taken to Chick'N' deli for beers, wings and a blues band.  I was reeally enjoying Toronto but eventually you have to do something so Jerry and I hit the road the following day.  This time it was on the train and we went to Niagara to see what all the fuss was about and to see if any of the honeymooning brides needed help.  The Falls were spectacular, The Maid of the Mist tour was okay and near the youth hostel we found a cheap bar which was showing a Blue Jays game live,  all in all, an excellent.  The return to Toronto was filled with discussion about where to go next.  We decided on Quebec, Montreal, P.E.I. and whatever else we found on the way then Boston and New York.  Back in Toronto it was time for another bbq party at the Clubhouse on a Saturday night.  Sweet. 
It was a major blow out with beers, Jack, hash, burgers, dogs and even more bullshit than last time.  at least the girls didn't freeze me out totally this time as my natural charm and manly attraction started to impose themselves.  Okay, so it was the booze, but at least I was dancing with them and getting hints of future action.  Thaty action would have to wait a while becasue the next day we went with phil and Adele to Ontario Place and then back to their place for dinner.  I even celebrated the final night in Toronto by taking along a dozen Carlbergs. It must have been imporessive because I wrote it in my journal.  Doug popped around to say bye-bye and help us demolish the beers.  He tried to get Phil and Adele to adopt Rob's cat but they wouldn't be in it.  He even said the cat would die if it wasn't adopted.  They thought he was kidding but I wasn't sure so I told them he was most likely serious.  Luckily that was the lsat night I was with Phil and Adele, they weren't impressed with the thought of a cat being euthanased.  Its okay though folks, the cat was fine last time I saw it.  But all this meant that I was going to have another hungover departure for the next morning we were heading to Montreal.  On a train.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winnipeg and Cricket

Just a reminder that a post ago I asked for slanderous, abusive and amusing team names for pub trivia nights.  Yez can tack them on here if you like.
Point no. two is I'm working up another Dog Shit Killers piece which will appear in the next week or so.  When I say, working up , what I mean is that I'm occasionally thinking of how it will pan out.  I reckon a plane crashh at the end would be tops but the Molloy Boys ruined that one with their Boytown fillum.  Now, back to the Greyhound bus where last time I think I'd left busted-arse Brandon for points East.

I got out at Winnipeg after another long night, patchy sleep, arse-numbing Greyhound haul.  At 5.30 in the morningthere was fuck all to do except grab a breakfast, and finish off the dregs of my Jackie Dee. After that I shlept over to the local hostel, grabbed a bunk and napped for a couple of hours, before getting hosed out of the joint at 9.00.  I hitched up my daypack and went to the parklands where there was a zoo and plenty of sunny spots ideal for idleness.  The zoo was out because I had a really fucking sore foot.  I never figured out what it was but it lasted all day.  After limping around the grounds for a while I grabbed some bread, cheese and cold cuts and found a spot to have a picnic.  Oh yeah, I also grabbed a six pack of my new best friend, Labbats Blue.  What I found was several adjoining sports fields upon which some blokes were playing cricket.  I found some shade, sat back against a tree and picnicked and drank an LB while watching the local Indian community toil under the hot Canadian sun.  After another beer I felt a bit more chirpy and yelled out an SCG favourite "Avagoyamug!. Two cricket teams, their friends and a couple of umpires looked in my direction so I waved back at them.  Didn't take long for the bloke fielding at Deep Mid Wicket to trot over and suss me out.  A quick chat evinced the fact that this was their local A-grade comp which in the past had provided Canada with a national rep player.  The standard wasn't too bad.  I'd seen a lot worse in local association comps in Sydney.  Aftter a few more overs a couple of the batting side walked around, obviously having been worded up that an Aussie yobbo was in their midst.  They asked me if I played and I admitted that I had played a couple of seasons in z grade as a fill in when my mate's team was short.  I was more of a beach man when hungover and didn't really fancy spending Saturday afternoons fielding at Deep Long Forget About Ya with the hangover gorillas still running around my head in 40 degree heat.  I did however play a bit of social cricket where it was more about the beer and having a dip than taking anything seriously.  Nevertheless I did know the basics of batting, bowling medium fast and bowling wrist spin.  Didn't do it any of them with great skill but didn't make an arse of myself either.  All this was leading to the fact that the bowling team was short a couple of players and they'd bend the rules a bit to let me play if I was interested.  I had to beg off due to a) a sore foot, b) I still had three beers left and c) I didn't have any kit.  They then said they'd be here tomorrow for the second and final day if I felt like playing.  Interesting.  After another hour or so I limped away and found a bus to take me back to the hostel.  I dumped my day pack (with 1 LB left) and lurched into a nearby sports bar where baseball was being shown and beer was being sold and complimentary mini burgers were being dished out.  Nice.  After a couple of preliminaries and sorting out that the Cubs weren't playing the Blue Jays I settled in for a couple of hours, quickly being wrapped in the warmth of sportsbarness found the world over.  So what diod I learn of Winnipeg?  Not a lot because there's ten parts of fuck all there.

The following day my foot was pretty much okay so I went to the zoo to see if I could find any primates upon which to inflict revenge for the Hangover Gorilla attack I was suffering.  A pancake breakfast at a noshery near the zoo helped me out and I explored the thing.  It even had a few kangaroos, obviously it wasn't culling season in Winnipeg.  They looked tempting though with their dopey ears and tardo hopping and that stupid scratching they do on their ribs.  Just asking for a clean shot from a .243 and a quick sear on the bbq grill.  The rest of the zoo was pretty much what you'd expect with growly lions, shittimg bears, a couple of tired looking zebras in amongst the inmates.  Oh yeah, there wuz chimps.  Good enough for me.  Fuckin' hangover monkeys got an earful (when no-one else was around) and at one stage I was almost going to cup a crap and hurl it at them but I just couldn't do it.

Upon exiting the zoo I wandered around the park and fouynd myself back at the cricdket fields.  I wandered up to the short team who were now batting and asked how they were doing.  Not well. Five down for sixty chasing one-eighty odd.  Did I feel like havingf a hit? Okey doke, I was in.  I was wearing pale grey shorts, a mainly white t-shirt, runners and footy socks.  Very much the Oz yob gear for social cricket.  One of them handed me a Molsen and said I was batting after the next two wickets dropped.  this took about half an hour for the addition of around twenty runs and there I was, putting on the pads, slipping in a box and strapping on a thigh pad.  I put on the gloves and selected a Grey Nicholls from the kit.  GN was my preferred weapon of choice and this one reminded me of my own back at home.

Strolling out to the wicket was weird.  Here I was in Canada, playing for and against some Indian blokes and hadn't even asked them about the bowling or the pitch conditions.  I soon asked the standing batsman all about it and he said the ball was seaming around a bit and I should play on the front foot.  Shit! My strengths were the pull, hook and cut shots.  I played and missed the first couple of balls, luckily not getting an edge. The next couple of overs saw us develop a partnership of sorts.  I was there for a good time and after playing a couple of drives from the front foot got cocky.  Molsen does that to you.  Sanjay at the other end was getting cocky as well and slog sweeped the oppositions spinner down mid wicket's throat.  Nice shot but didn't quite middle it.  His departing advice was;
"Try and stay in Greg."
Greg?  As in Chappell?  That was a compliment!
Yeah, right.  Our next batsman walked in looking nervous and asked me about the bowling.
"Dead easy mate.  Just smack 'em like Hookesy".
He survived the over by playiong straight against slow bowling which wasn't showing any signs of spin at all.  I really wanted to get amongst those donkey drops but had to face the seamer first.  I tried a couple of lusty hoicks over cover but only managed to sky one oput of the rach of 3rd man.  Didn't even make the boundary but I got 3.  Next over I was facing the non-spinning run giver.  I played the first and I was right.  Doing nothing.  The next one I was bale to get hold of over mid on.  Not quite 6 but a boundary was nice.  Next ball was wide and the one after that I directed way over cover.  A nice hit if I'd middled it but long off trotted around, pouched it and that was it for me.  Oh well, death or glory ended up being death.  At least I'd made double figures.  When I was taking off the pads one of the team said;
 "Bad luck, Greg."
I replied "Greg Chappell?  Thanks mate, but not really."
He laughed and said,
"Not Greg Chappell.  You like Greg Ritchie."
Fucker.  Greg Ritchie was a portly Queensland and Australian Test batsman who was good at thumping the ball but not running very quickly due to his girth.  His nickname was Fat Cat.  Sure, I carry a few extra pounds but Greg Ritchie?  He's a fucking Queenslander for fuck's sake!  Fuck off!  I preferred to be thought of more as  a Gary Gilmour type.
The players were good about me not getting a century, saying it didn't matter because any runs I made were a bonus anyway.  Thanks guys.  The rest of the innings brought us another twenty-odd runs and we ended up losing.  It was fun, no-one seemed that worried about the result, more about how they'd gone about things and in my mind they'd done it properly because there was a bloody big beer chiller full of Molsen and LB sitting invitingly near the kit bags.  Winsome young thing it were with "come to me" eyes and a full body.
The skipper asked
" Would I like a beer? " The fools.  We sat around for a couple of hours talking cricket shit.  They felt bad about Australia's lowly position in world cricket at the time (this was '86) and I just told them we'd come good soon enough, no worries, because that's what I always thought about any of our sports team.  After we'd crapped on about Sunil Gavaskar, Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee, Alan Border and Bradman it was time to pull up stumps and head off.
"Bye Greg!"
"Fuck off, Bishan!"
Time for an early night before hitting the Greyhound trail again, ever closing in on Toronto.

Next time I'll take you through Sault St Marie and into Toronto.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Games and Names

No travel tales this time but they will continue in the next post. First up a tiip of the Tooheys Extra Dry cap to Dr Yobbo who has part one of a hangover tale going on over at his place  As usual its well worth a read.  Do it now before the bugger starts publishing for money and we have to actually fork over bags of cash to read his gear.  Money which can be spent on other things.  Like Uncle Teds or Boags Premium.  And live sport of course.

Speaking of sport I watched NSW limp in against the FKN Cane Toads the other night in a Ford Fucked Gearbox and Leaky Sump Cup 50 over match, largely due to Phil Jaques finding form, batting through the innings and scoring over 170 not out off just over 130 balls.  Now that was awesomeness in the flesh.  A pity the bowling brigade (under 19's except for Bracken) couldn't maintain the pressure and force a drubbing on the Fourex suckers. Oh well, a win is a win and we like those here in NSW when most of the team is either injured or on duty with the Australian squad.  Hang on, 'twas only last night. Fuck, I need a drink.  We were watching the game while attempting to answer trivia questions at the Edinburgh Castle, the scene of my fight with Nautilus' Green Frog of Awesomeness.  That's my fist you see shaping up to GF and the pic above is a beer tableau enjoyed by Naut and myself.
In the trivia last night we bolted to the lead only to be beaten by a bunch of googlers who aced the 2nd and 3rd rounds thanks to Steve Jobs and his i-Phone.  In theory they're banned but ...  The hostess realised this and spotted us an extra voucher to go on top of the 40 buck bar tab we got for coming 2nd.  Three jugs of Carlton later we didn't give a flying fuck about googlers and were looking to see if Johnny Iwank had any runners in the Perth Greyhounds.  Our team name for the evening was "The Ball Sucking Pakis".  Usually most teams will stick with the same name each week.  We reckon that's boring so we pick on something topical and try and twist it.  "Ball Sucking Pakis" was tops because it roped together racism and homophobia in one hit.  Previous team names have included;
"It won't suck itself"
"I sucked off my neighbour's alsation"
"John Howard is a cunt" - always a good stand-by if we were struggling for ideas.

Generally the idea is to abuse someone famous who has just passed away or has been in the headlines recently.  Something like "xxxxx is a paedophile"  generally doesn't get read out by the trivia host(ess), but something like "Malcolm Turnbull's noxious arse emission" will get through, unlike emissions trading legislation in the Senate.

So here's a busted arse challenge for anyone who'd like to contribute to our winningness. Come up with a team name.  Keep in mind it has to be embarrassing for the trivia goon to read out and cause anguish, revulsion and/or embarrassment to at least one group of people.  For example, I heard that Matthew Stokes, a Geelong AFL player was busted for dealing cocaine.  What first comes to mind is something like;
"Matthew Stokes is the victim of a snow job"  or "Stokes Coke joke blows" or "Mathew Stokes possessions stats - two kilos" or "Matthew Stokes and his Geelong snow dome" or "Matthew Stokes wins the Winter Olympics snow jump". They're a bit lame but you get the general idea.  The person with the best suggestion/s gets some sort of lame prize from the Therbs Lame Prize Cupboard sent to them by post or courier, depending on what I can wrangle at the time and depending on what the prize actually is.  And that's if I can be arsed actually doing it, because I am a lazy cunt after all.  Now its time for a drink.  Cheers.