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May, 2002

May Edition

May started out decently warm but then temperatures went through the floor! This year's Spring Collection includes ski jackets and lined jeans; anyone who planted early gets to do it all over again thanks to killer frosts; and even Victoria Day campers were greeted with snow and temperatures that would freeze the mantle off a Coleman lantern. This is May? I think not...

First the Good News: the Boy Scouts of Canada plan to plant two million trees this May and June. Now the Bad News: with your luck the leaves from those two million trees are going to end up on your lawn..

The guy who torched the Blue Box in Port Carling (formerly The Mahogany Emporium/ currently The Smoldering Heap) got three years as a guest of the Crown for his efforts and was fined $1 million. Considering he's 'of no fixed address' that million is going to be a long time coming. Still, the burning question of the day has to be why he did it. He's not saying. It's a secret. Maybe voices in his Rice Crispies told him to.

The Home Depot that's going in at the intersection of Taylor Road and Hwy. 11 isn't going to be alone - now they're building a Timmy's/Wendy's there, too. Imagine that! What were the odds? Next they'll announce a Price Club, a discount shoe warehouse, a Mattress World and oh hey - we'll have ourselves a power center! Welcome to Scarborough North. Cozy now?

Note to drunk drivers: don't stop for directions! Direction-givers who notice your breath and rather unique walking style might report you to the O.P.P. And guess what - they know where you're going!

Okay, picture this: you've just been paroled from Fenbrook Medium Security... they've driven you to the bus station in Gravenhurst... but you've missed your bus by 5 minutes. What do you do? If you're one apparently patience-deprived individual you steal the first Explorer you see and head off to Toronto on your own. Alas, one man's 'initiative' is another man's 'Grand Theft Auto' - Sparky is now back with his friends on the inside and the residents of Gravenhurst have six more months of worry-free parking.

The Bracebridge Chamber of Commerce drew a lot of fire when they decided to start selling ice cream at their downtown business office. They claimed there was a huge demand for the product but two different ice cream vendors a couple of hundred feet away still didn't think much of being put out of business by an agency they pay to support. After three weeks of incredibly bad press, the media-savy PR geniuses at the Chamber of Commerce decided to bow out of Bracebridge's hotly contested ice cream market. Good call, guys!

Bracebridge's most accident-prone parking lot continues to be the Shopper's Drug Mart plaza. Last time it was a drunk driver trying to get a prescription filled (see March for those sorry details). This time it's a kid in an SUV who doesn't seem to understand the left peddle/ right peddle thing. That or Audi makes SUVs now. Either way, a serious case of unexpected acceleration caused our troubled pilot to rear-end a parked Geo and push it through the front window of the store. Sorry, the Drive-Thru window is now closed.

The King of Norway visited Muskoka Airport this month to a lay a stone commemorating the wartime training of over 3000 pilots, navigators and mechanics back when the air-strip was known as "Little Norway". Margaret Trudeau was nowhere to be found.

There's a new grocery kid on the block in Bracebridge - Gagnon's Independent Grocer opened for biz on the 11th. Maybe it's my Scottish ancestry but I thought the opening was decidedly lacking in 'specials'. At the same time, I must admit that I was disgusted by the behaviour of some people taking advantage of the few deals that were offered. People were filling their carts with strip loin steaks and boneless chicken breasts - 20 and 30 packages of each! As my dad used to say, "I'm in the boat - swim ya bastard!"

The KEE to Bala has been sold. But rest assured, the new owners plan no changes - it'll be barely-competent business as usual.

Speaking of Bala, The CPR has finally agreed to paint over the graffiti on the railway bridges in town. I suppose it's just as well. I don't love her anymore anyway...

Jan Wong was in town speaking on her favorite subject - Jan Wong. One can only hope the non-event was poorly attended.

1-877-847-1577 is the number for the Muskoka Fire Hotline. And no... that's not for Hot Talk or for ordering Suicide Buffalo Wings - it's a service that gives you a recording of the latest Fire Danger report.

Speaking of Hot Talk, those of you who put off dropping by Bracebridge's #1 adult novelty shop, Dreams and Fantasies, have missed out for good - it's now a collision repair shop. It's still a hangout for body guys, I hear.

Speaking of hot wings, a brief restaurant review may be in order here. I went to Bracebridge's acclaimed rib joint The Purple Pig recently and made the mistake of ordering chicken wings. I haven't been that disappointed since I interviewed Miss Wakestock 2000. What I would consider a decent sauce base - Durkee Frank's Hot Sauce - they consider the finished product. Pretty amateurish. Great ribs though - I'll give them that!

The Muskoka BassMasters held their Lake Muskoka Live Release Pike Tournament on the Victoria Day Weekend. Okay... it's live release, but there are prizes? "Hey guys, mine weighed 60 pounds! Here's a picture I took of it with my digital camera". Thank you Photoshop!

Wakestock is history, dude! The promoter behind the event got fed up with trying to deal with the restrictions placed on the event by the Township and has decided to relocate Wakestock to Wasaga Beach. While I must admit that Wakestock and Wasaga seem like a pretty good match target-market wise, it's frustrating to see Bala shoot itself in the foot. Again.

A fund-raising poker run organized by the Algonquin West ATV club has been greeted like baked beans on a bus trip by the Proudfoot Township Property Owner's Association - they say they don't need no Satan's Choice-types staging events in their area. Hands up anyone who's ever seen an ATV rider wearing colours? In a related story the federal government recently forked over almost $30 grand to the Canadian All-Terrain Vehicle Distributors Council to set up an environmental awareness program for riders. I smell an image problem here!

The Muskoka Games for Senors will take place June 10-11. Events will include "Full Contact Bingo", "The Right Turn Signal 500", "Blocking the Aisle At the A&P", and the ever-popular "100 Metre Nevada Ticket Peel". Entrants will have to undergo mandatory drug testing - those with fewer than 6 prescription drugs in their systems will be disqualified. And please, no wagering.

The MOOSE 100.8 is now The Variety Station MOOSEFM 99.5. Variety, huh? So their ten year INXS/ U2 fixation has ended? Somehow I doubt it. Last week I heard them play Bon Jovi, Peter Gabriel and Fleetwood Mac back to back. Now that's variety! Or lack of a format. It's a fine line.

Students at BLMSS walked out recently to protest their new curriculum. One eloquent student spokesperson by the name of Cody (ugh!) said that the new curriculum was just thrown at them, remarking, "It was just like getting jumped on by a really big fat guy." I think we all know what he was getting at.

O.P.P. drug officers recently showed up at a Port Sydney man's house with search warrants for several buildings on his property. He informed them that they'd find nothing in THOSE buildings - his dope grow-operation was in his basement. Police didn't have a search warrant for the house but took advantage of the gentleman's open door policy to wander down to the rec room to lay a few charges.

How do you show your gratitude to the selfless schmucks who make their living selling pizza by the slice at 1 a.m.? Why not punch the guy out? An overly refreshed Huntsville 'yute did just that while his struggling-filmaker friend recorded the moment for posterity with a video camera. Is there a show called America's Most Pathetic Home Videos that I don't know about?

It used to be that you had to be careful that someone might steal your boat. Now all that's changed. Your boat is right where you left it - but your stern drive has joined Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa and the Sasquatch somewhere off in The Twilight Zone. "Pssst.... buddy... wanna buy a Mercruiser outdrive?"

Tour organizers take note: the Alcan copper and aluminum wire plant is closing. One hundred and sixty people got a scant six weeks notice that as of July they'll be up to their ass in leisure time. Meanwhile... anybody want to buy a factory?

Tour organizers take note Part II: ordering 'coke' at the Country Squire restaurant on Hwy 11 south of Gravenhurst may cost you more than the usual $1.25 - the place was recently busted for being the largest cocaine distribution joint in Muskoka. It's operator will be a guest of the Crown for the next 6 years.

'Zamina headline of the month: "Currie guilty". Well... aren't we all? Trouble is, what this goomba is guilty of happens to appear in the Criminal Code - he's the one who drove off the end of a pier and accidentally drowned his passenger. The first runner-up headline was "King Harald recalls war veterans". Apparently there was a problem with their steering. Second runner up: "Ticking bomb goes off". The 'bomb' in question was some gal's stressed out husband who ran over man-about-town Gary Kelly in a drug-induced stupour and then left the scene. Kelly spent weeks in hospital. Time bomb hubby will most likely do the same only in a different kind of hospital.

First the good news: a woman leaving the Howard Johnston's in Gravenhurst took the keys away from her husband because she thought he was too drunk to drive. The bad news: she was drunk, too. Just not AS drunk. The O.P.P. were unimpressed with her 'lesser of two evils' approach and took away her license until the end of Leon's current 'Don't Pay a Cent Event'.

Muskoka - no one can call us backward! Case in point: May 10th. Two, count 'em TWO separate cases of spousal assault where the WOMEN were the ones being charged. I blame the Spice Girls...

The Bank of Nova Scotia is urging Grade 8 students to stay in school. "Ask us about our low low slightly less than usurious rates on student loans..."

You know you're dealing with some criminal masterminds when their idea of how to Get Rich Quick is to rent a Sony Playstation 2 at Muskoka Movies and then pawn it at The Hock Shop. And the guy didn't rent it with fake ID, either. "Hi, I'm calling about your overdue Playstation rental..." Uh oh...

It's May. The blackflies are out in full force. So where is the insect repellent story in the Ads Vance? Buried on the last page! I never knew this but apparently DEET, the active ingredient in all of my favourite insect repellents, can do to your skin what it does to the finish of fine furniture! Products with more than a 30% concentration of DEET can actually blister the skin, leaving permanent scars and studies have indicated that DEET use on children may result in seizures later on in life. The point of the piece was that high concentrations of DEET are not necessary: while a 30% concentration is supposed to protect you for 6.5 hours, a safer 15% concentration should leave you bug free for at least five.

The Township of Muskoka Lakes is getting tough with public dock users. Actually public dock ABusers. The docks in question are Carlingford Dock on Joe, the Birch Avenue dock in Port, and the public wharf in Beaumaris. Those most affected will be people who leave boats overnight, islanders who use it as their own private landing, and contractors who block the dock with barges. You'll see...

This month's Balls That Clang Award goes to the guy in Gravenhurst who can now say, "I drove away without paying!" and mean it. Anyone who can load a massive garden rototiller into the trunk of a Chrysler Neon in broad daylight and just drive away has mucho cajones.

Put on your Sunday jeans and grab a second-cousin or two - Stompin' Tom Connors will be playing in Gravenhurst on June 22! Tickets are available through the Lions Club. It should be a blast!

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) is warning people of CNIB-imitators going door-to-door asking for money - it's a scam. If you look at the forms closely you can see it says "Canadian National Institute for the BLAND". And no, Ernie Eves did NOT consent to be their spokesperson.

Bracebridge has one less indoor grow-operation - this time on Cedar Lane. The estimated street value of the drugs was $70,000. You mean my basement could generate $70,000 of tax-free income every couple of months? Why isn't Gordon Pape pushing THAT Canadian Home Income Plan plan on T.V.?

The Bracebridge Farmers' Market is in Memorial Park this year but them farmers is less than happy. Seems the yearly rental of the park ($1,400) and the damage deposit ($1,000) are too high in their opinion. Speaking of high prices, why is it that farm-fresh produce is cheaper if you order it from room service?

THEN-Finance Minister and P.M.-wannabee Paul Martin was in Muskoka recently speaking to seniors with local M.P. Andy Mitchell. Mr. Martin said he was looking for input for what the government should be doing. Based on data collected, the government will now be serving tapioca less often and bringing back Don Messer's Jubilee.

Speaking of Andy Mitchell, our noble M.P. is due to host a day-long Rural Innovation Summit on June 7th. It's about time Rural Innovation received the recognition it deserves! My neighbour is pretty innovative - he makes counterfeit quarters in his barn (who can tell anymore!). My other neighbour used to be innovative but the O.P.P. helicopter noticed said innovation and they came and burned his patch down. The motto of this year's Summit: Innovation in Moderation.

Volunteer clean-up crews hit the ditches again this spring and collected 283 garbage bags of roadside flotsam (or is that jetsam): Timmies cups, McDonald's wrappers, beer bottles and of course, lone running shoes. What is it with roadside running shoes? And here's the Evolutionary Question of the Day: what kind of self-absorbed, thoughtless, suburban cracker drives three hours through killer traffic to vacation in a place that looks nicer than the parking lot he lives in back home... and then chucks an armful of fast food wrappers out the window of his Explorer on 118W? The litter problem isn't 100% seasonal resident related, mind you - it just makes even less sense from them. Locals doing the same thing deserve the same boot to the groin.

There was a note in the 'Zamina a couple of weeks ago warning people of turtles crossing the roads at this time of year. May I remind people that being critter cautious is one thing... nailing the brakes and causing a three-car pileup is another. Local body shops are thanking one local avid naturalist who did just that and survived to comment, "The turtle ended up upside-down but okay!" Swell...

Bracebridge is thinking of moving its Town Hall to the vacant Hydro One building on Taylor Court and the downtown merchants are some cheesed! Think about it - even town counselors don't want to go downtown anymore.

Fouler Construction is repaving Highway 118W between Bracebridge and Port Carling and everyone is hap-hap-happy. Well, everyone except the people who got white goo splashed on their vehicles. Turns out it's 'asphalt bonding agent'. And it doesn't come off with water. Oops...

May means Mother's Day and a recent article in the 'Zamina reminded me just how much mothers give... and give.... and give. One inmate at Fenbrook Correctional actually got his mom to help him smuggle hashish into the institution. Is that a tight family, or what? Well, maybe not too tight - mom smuggled the hash into Fenbrook in a condom slamped up... ah... somewhere. Which makes one pause to consider what's worse: asking your mom to slamp something up somewhere on your behalf.... or receiving that something under a table during visiting hours. Does Hallmark make a card for that? Let's hope it's laminated.

Port Carling has a new restaurant at the top of the hill on the left as you head to Bracebridge. It used to be a clothes store... then an ice cream shop... then a coffee shop. Next year it'll be a furniture store - with a killer deck overlooking Island Park.

Are the local papers around here so desperate for submissions that they have to accept editorials from all over Canada? Every couple of weeks it's another nutball from somewhere who has mass mailed their own take on the world to every second-string newspaper in Canada and gotten a bite from the letter-starved editors of Muskoka. The most recent example was an anti-immigration editorial penned by some Unibomber-Lite from White Rock, B.C. How about a new rule, guys: editorials must be written by someone who lives in OR once visited the 705 area code.

Okay... so McDonald's is running a special: two double hamburgers for $2 or two double cheeseburgers for $3. It costs $1 for cheese on those burgs?? Who do they get their cheese from, room service? Still... there's a little McDonald's in all of us. Yeah, that pain you get in your chest when you walk uphill? That's a little McDonald's - lodged in your left ventricle.


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