Missed It By That Much!


Usually I begin a post with a topic in mind and end up digressing all over the place, but today I thought I’d try something different:  I’m going to begin with the digression and (hopefully) end up on topic.

…So the other day I stumbled across a movie recommendation for Cloudburst, starring Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. I rarely watch TV or movies, but the trailer looked good and I was in the mood for a movie. Better yet, it was available on Netflix.

And I loved it! The plot was a little thin and parts of it were preposterously unrealistic, but I didn’t care. The characters were irresistible, the acting was brilliant, and the dialogue left me rolling on the floor.

(Warning: Cloudburst contains geriatric lesbian kisses, lots of coarse language, and full-frontal male nudity.)

(P.S. to the warning: Naked men look funny when they run: flap-flap-flap-flap-flap-flap-flap…)

Sorry, where was I?

Oh, right; Netflix. I’ll get to the point now.

A few days later I got an ad for the upcoming Broadway shows here in Calgary. I enjoy the live shows, but they’re really expensive and it’s always a pain in the ass to get there, get parked, and then escape the madness of the parking lot after the show.

So, emboldened by my Netflix success, I decided to check for movie versions of the shows that were being offered. The first show was Kinky Boots (I admit I searched the title with trepidation – there are so many ways that could go wrong). But Netflix returned this:

Is there anything in these results that remotely resembles my search terms?

Is there anything in these results that remotely resembles my search terms?

Disappointed, I searched for Newsies:

Okay, is the Netflix search utility just a random result generator?

Okay, is the Netflix search utility just a random result generator?

The search results were so far off-base I couldn’t even figure out what tenuous connection Netflix thought they’d found. The only commonality I could spot was one vowel and one consonant.

The whole experience reminded me of how most automated systems totally miss the mark. The worst culprits are phone menu systems. For a while, our local phone provider’s system was so utterly useless that I was usually swearing a blue streak before I even made it to the third menu level. I dream of the day when computer systems develop the ability to identify what I’m saying even if it’s not one of the preset menu items:

“You said, ‘Fuck you, you pissant inanimate piece of ratshit’. I think you’re trying to select the ‘Fuck you’ menu item. Please choose from the following options: ‘In the kitchen with a candlestick’, ‘In the ballroom with a lead pipe’, ‘In the lounge with a pipe wrench’…”

Automated support systems aren’t much better. A while ago I was having email problems so I went to my web host’s page and started a service ticket with the subject line ‘Cannot send or receive email’. I jumped through all the usual flaming hoops and filled in every irrelevant blank they required including my shoe size and the date of my last mammogram, then optimistically clicked ‘Submit’.

Moments later, the following message appeared on the screen: “Thank you for submitting your support ticket. You will receive a response from our team via email.”

In the immortal words of Maxwell Smart: “Missed it by that much!

‘Scuse My Bear Behind

Gardening season has been exciting this year.  I had a feeling my impromptu pole dance in the spring would lead to a stellar career, and I was right.  This week found me head-down-ass-up in a tunnel of pea vines, belting out Broadway tunes at the top of my lungs.

A number of factors converged to produce this one-of-a-kind entertainment extravaganza.  In the first place, I didn’t plan my garden well.  In spring when there was nothing but tilled soil, it looked as though there was all the room in the world between rows.

There wasn’t.  The peas overran their trellises and joined hands in fellowship above the (now obviously inadequate) space between the rows.

Fine.  It’s awkward to pick peas, but lush growth is the kind of garden “problem” I can happily accept.

The second factor is that our garden is out in the middle of nowhere, only a couple of miles from a vast forestry reserve.

Last week I was out there when a cloud of dust and loud rattling announced the approach of a vehicle.  Moments later a truck appeared, towing a large cylinder on a trailer.  In block letters on the cylinder were the words ‘BEAR TRAP – KEEP BACK 10M”.

Last year a grizzly killed two horses on the farm north of us.  And I thought, “This can’t be good.”

The truck paused at our corner before continuing west.  That road dead-ends only a couple of miles past our place.

This really wasn’t good.

So when I went out again a couple of days ago, I was cautious.  The path to our garden winds through heavy spruce and aspen forest, and after I parked my car in our campsite clearing, I let out a few shouts of greeting:  “Hello, Mr. Bear!  I’m going to the garden now!  Yep, down this path!  Through the woods!  Scary human being here!  Time for you to move on!”

I strapped on my canisters of bear spray and stood debating whether it would be less embarrassing if the neighbours caught me loudly talking to myself in the woods, or singing really badly.  Singing won by a small margin.

I don’t know how rock stars manage to sing while jumping around on stage.  Granted, I have a crap voice, but I thought I was in pretty good shape.  Singing nervously and strolling through the woods to give the bear an opportunity to get out of the way, I was pathetically out of breath by the time I got to the garden.  Which made me sound even worse than usual.

The 8-foot deer fence around the garden won’t repel a determined bear, but it should prevent him from accidentally wandering through, so I went inside and promptly shut the hell up because even I couldn’t stand my singing by then.

That is, until my neighbour drove over to warn me they’d caught one grizzly a mile west of us, were fairly certain a second was still at large, and there had been a number of black bears in the area, too.


I abandoned all pretense of dignity.

And this happened:

bear behind

I’m not proud of my performance, but I didn’t see a bear, either.  If there was one in the vicinity, he was probably too incapacitated by laughter to maul me anyway.

Anybody else have a bear tale?