Crazy Cones And Cockroaches

Yaaaa-hoooo!! It’s Stampede Week here, and the usual happy insanity reigns.

I love the Calgary Stampede. If I had time (and if I wasn’t too cheap to pay the daily $18 admission fee), I could easily spend days there. The free exhibits are fascinating: circus acts, horseshoeing contests, tractor pulls, Superdogs, team penning competitions, art shows, native cultural displays, live bands, extreme BMX/motocross/snowmobiles; you name it. There’s even the Cannon Lady getting shot out of a cannon several times a day.

The giant midway doesn’t really attract me, though. The rides are expensive, and I can’t quite get over the knowledge that they’ve been knocked together in record time by sleep-deprived carnies fresh off the road. Or worse, fresh off their last party. I know they have a stellar safety record, but… I’m just sayin’.

The rodeos are fun to watch, too, but I rarely go to them. Tickets are pricey, and there are so many other things to see and do that I just can’t fit it all in. Not to mention I can’t help giggling at the thought that rodeo is clearly a sport designed by men, for men. A bunch of guys giving each other prizes for their ability to stay up for 8 seconds…? Boys, I hate to break it to you, but an 8-second ride ain’t gonna do it for the ladies!

Speaking of rides to remember, I noted a few years ago that the Stampede is a prime opportunity to get the gift that keeps on giving. Syphilis was the big winner when I wrote that post four years ago, but in true Stampede spirit we’re diversifying. Now gonorrhea and chlamydia are getting their fair share of erm… exposure, too. So before you ride that cowboy, you might want to slap a latex saddle on his pocket bronc.

If you’re looking for a slightly less risqué adventure, the Stampede offers lots of scope for risky business of the culinary variety.

Last year’s scorpion pizza was a big seller, and this year foodies were eagerly anticipating the cockroach pizza. Alas, they were doomed to disappointment: Apparently the shipment of dead cockroaches from Vietnam got delayed at the border. (There’s a unique first-world problem.)  But our indomitable pizzameister promises they should be in soon, so the pizza might get its cockroach crunch before the end of Stampede.

I dunno; I expend a considerable amount of effort to avoid eating food containing cockroaches, but I guess that’s just me.

And in case your stomach wasn’t upset enough after the rides and cockroaches, you can also get a cup of mini-doughnuts topped with cheese curds, gravy, and jalapeños. I’m not sure why you’d want to, but you can.

Or, if you’re looking for a treat that’s both risky and risqué, how about a Crazy Cone:

Oh dear...

Oh dear…

The last time I saw something like that, I was in a sex shop. (Doing research on Lola’s merchandise for my novels. Honest. That’s my story and it’s sticking to me.)

Anyway, no Stampede Week is complete without the requisite crazy-citizen stunt, so here it is:  Some folks’ll do anything to get high…

What’s risky or risqué in your neck of the woods this week?

Hello From Planet Innuendo

Apparently Mercury was retrograde from June 7 to July 1, which astrologers say is supposed to cause general chaos.  I don’t know much about astrology, but if there’s a planet that governs accidental double entendres, it’s definitely exerting its influence this week.

Friday night I was sitting in the pub with the usual suspects, regaling the crew with tales of our recent search for a good used RV.  I had only one requirement:  a queen-size bed with some space around it.  I didn’t care about the kitchen or living area or anything else.  Just the bed.

(Those of you with dirty minds are getting ahead of me… oh, never mind; whatever you’re thinking, you’re probably right.)

Anyway, we found a trailer Hubby really liked, with a nice big living space and kitchen, only seven years old, yadda, yadda.  But the bedroom was designed for a double bed.  The current owners had put in a queen mattress, but that left only a few inches between it and the wall.  You could still squeeze in, but only if you had skinny legs.  Grrr.

Now back to the pub scene…

Fuelled by some very tasty beer, I was expounding upon the idiocy of the designer who planned the layout of a huge trailer without allowing for a queen-size bed.

“Goddammit,” I ranted.  “It’s a thirty-one-foot trailer, for shit’s sake!  It’s not like the guy who designed it didn’t have any space to work with!  I can’t believe he couldn’t give me just six more inches in the bedroom!”

My rant was completely derailed when my buddy Chris burst out laughing.  “You want six more inches in the bedroom?” he sputtered.  “That sounds like a blog post.  But I want credit!”

So here you go, Chris – this is your five minutes of fame.

After we dried our tears of laughter, the conversation wandered as it usually does and we got talking about cars and buying gas and the oddball sensor in my car that requires the gas cap to be cranked around several times after it’s tightened to prevent the ‘check engine’ light from coming on.

My friend Swamp Butt spoke up:  “Our new car doesn’t have a gas cap at all.  It’s so easy to fuel up.  You just stick it in, pull it out, and you’re done!”

More raucous laughter ensued.

But Planet Innuendo still wasn’t finished with me.  The Calgary Stampede is on now, so everything around here is western-themed.  And wouldn’t you know it; the patron saint of dirty minds blessed me with another gift this weekend:  a completely serious ad from a staid and reputable company, exhorting me to “Celebrate the cowboy in you.”

I might have let that pass if not for the fact that I’d just finished reading an article about how all the health clinics brace for the annual surge in syphilis cases during Stampede.  Save a horse; ride a cowboy!  Give the gift that keeps on giving!  Yaaa-hooo!!!

Needless to say, I laughed myself silly(er).

Did anybody else notice the effects of Planet Innuendo this week, or was it just me?

P.S.  The word ‘innuendo’ always gives me a childish snicker, too.  It sounds like the Godfather describing a sex act:  “In-U-end-o”…

* * *

Speaking of celebrations, I’m celebrating the upcoming release of Spy Now, Pay Later by giving away two signed paperback copies!  If you’d like to enter to win one, here’s the contest link:

Look for the first e-book versions of Spy Now, Pay Later at Smashwords and Amazon on July 17.  As usual, Kobo, Nook, and Apple versions will show up later than Smashwords and Amazon… but my distributor promises me they’ve improved their system and it should only be a few days instead of a few weeks.  Time will tell, but regardless, I’ll email notifications to everybody who’s signed up on my new book notification list.

Ride A Cowboy!

The Stampede is on in Calgary this week, so the medical clinics are bracing for the annual surge in syphilis cases.  No, I’m not making this up.

Forget your sensuous blues, your hard-pumping rock, and your suave, sophisticated classical music.  The true aphrodisiac is cowboy boots and country music.  Apparently, something about the Stampede just strips off your inhibitions, rolls them up in a ball, and kicks them under the seat, steaming up the windows and rocking the pick-me-up truck.

Except for those people who get direct economic benefit from the Stampede, like western-wear vendors and penicillin manufacturers, most Calgarians fall into one of two camps:  those who love the Stampede, and those who loathe it.

I’m firmly in the “Love the Stampede” category.  No, it’s not because I partake in the randy rodeo.  It’s because during the ten days of the Calgary Stampede (inexplicably referred to as “Stampede Week”), the entire atmosphere of the city changes.

All the suited-up, buttoned-down businesspeople vanish from the downtown core, to be replaced by swaggering folks in western boots, shirts, and faded jeans.  The smell of horseshit and pancake syrup floats on the air, and country music blares from every restaurant and lounge, regardless of its musical orientation prior to Stampede Week.  Bales, rough wooden fences, and hand-daubed signs drawling, “Howdy” crowd the lobbies of the sleek highrise office buildings.

Every morning, there’s a free pancake breakfast somewhere.  Just go downtown at 7:30 in the morning, listen for the music, and follow the smell of bacon and syrup.  Every afternoon, there are dozens of Stampede parties.  No need to follow your nose; you can hear them from across town and navigate toward them by following the trail of inebriated cowboy wannabes staggering along whooping, “Yaaaa-hoooo!”.

Some suggestions for safe Stampeding:

  • Don’t stand close to anybody in an enclosed space.  You’ll get drunk just from the fumes wafting off them.
  • Don’t light a match, either.  One of the staple foods at Stampede parties is baked beans.  Flammable fumes abound.
  • Use protection.  Or, if you really want the gift that keeps on giving, try

Stampede strips away food inhibitions, too.  Fifty-one weeks out of the year, the thought of eating a corn dog makes me gag.  During Stampede week, I salivate uncontrollably at the mere thought.

Also, after dedicated research, I have determined that there is, in fact, no upper limit to the number of mini-doughnuts I’m capable of eating at one sitting during Stampede. A couple of years ago, I topped out at twenty-five, but that was only because the bag was empty.  If there had been more, I would’ve eaten them.

If your tastes are a little more adventurous, there’s a bar down on 10th Avenue where you can eat prairie oysters.  (For the uninitiated, prairie oysters are bull testicles.  Or… ex-bulls’ testicles, I guess.)  Mmmm-mmm good!

And the midway vendors vie each year to offer the newest, oddest foods.  A few years ago, it was deep-fried Coke.  I haven’t been down to the grounds yet this year, but I hear they have deep-fried Pop-Tarts.

Hell, those aren’t new.  You can find them after any Stampede party.  Just follow the sound of hiccups and look for the Daisy Dukes.

It’s Stampede time!  Save a horse, ride a cowboy!  Yaaa-hooo!