Some Little Kid Memories Of Nikolai Volkoff

There haven’t been as many So Long posts lately as there used to be, and that’s intentional. To be quite honest, I don’t particularly enjoy writing them. Some folks, even when you appreciate whatever it was they did, just don’t inspire a whole lot of words or draw out much in the way of specific memories or good stories. And judging from the statistics many of you seem to enjoy the reading end of them almost as much, so making the decision to cut back on them has been a pretty easy one. But there’s no way I’m not making an exception for Nikolai Volkoff.

I was not a Nikolai Volkoff fan back in the day, because I was a little kid, it was the 1980s and Russians were bad. The more things change, right? But you would never have known I wasn’t a Nikolai Volkoff fan given that one of my 6-year-old self’s favourite pastimes was sitting on the swings in my back yard, belting out the Russian national anthem Nikolai style at the top of my lungs.

Sadly, that video is not of me. As far as I know, unless Joe McCarthy has it, no video or audio exists of me doing this. But to this day my mom still jokes that it’s a wonder we’re still allowed in the country whenever somebody brings it up.

As much fun as I had with it though, that damn anthem almost scared me out of my first live wrestling experience. I can’t remember the date, but it was at the old London Gardens somewhere around late 1986 or early 1987. I was super excited about going, but in the back of my mind, there was a problem. What if Nikolai Volkoff was on the show, and what if he wanted us to please rise and respect his singing of the Russian national anthem? I knew from sports and school that you were always supposed to stand for an anthem as a sign of respect, but I also knew from the news and wrestling and just about everywhere else that Russians were bad. What if I stood up and the people near me got mad? Or even worse, what if I didn’t stand up and Nikolai caught me? Either way I was in trouble, and the last thing I wanted was to get in trouble. As the days went bye and the show got closer, more than once I thought about asking somebody what I should do or even faking an illness because although I’d miss out on something I was hugely looking forward to, it would be better than death by angry Sheik and Volkoff. But somehow I managed to keep my mouth shut and my fear in check, deciding that I’d do whatever everyone else did and if Nikolai didn’t like it, dad and our neighbour would protect me. Thankfully I didn’t have to test that theory, because Nikolai almost certainly would have destroyed both of them had he been on the show, which he wasn’t.

Man did I ever love that Wrestling Album. The way most kids are about watching the same movie over and over again, that was me with the Wrestling Album. Pretty sure I wore out a record and a tape listening to it alone, subjecting my family to it, wrestling with my friends while it was on in the background, using it for theme music while I played with my figures…that reminds me of one more story, actually.

I don’t remember what the occasion was, but somebody gave me Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik thumb wrestlers as a gift one time.

I was pretty happy, but I couldn’t help but wonder out loud who they were supposed to wrestle. Somebody in the room gave what she thought would be the obvious answer, “each other.” So I had no choice but to explain to this obviously uneducated person that this wouldn’t be possible. There’s no way Sheik and Nikolai would wrestle each other, because they’re tag team partners. Luckily I got a Junkyard Dog one either that same day or not long after, so I was able to book handicap matches in living rooms and bedrooms all over the province. So if you’ve ever seen me go off about some stupid, illogical wrestling thing and wondered is this guy ok? The answer is yes. This attention to detail stuff is not new.

I don’t have a favourite Nikolai Volkoff match, but aside from Big John Studd lifting me way up in the air when I met him in a parking lot, he’s in a lot of my favourite earliest wrestling memories and I’m pretty sad that he’s gone.

Rest in peace, Nikolai. I promise I’ll stand for the anthem next time, even if Russians are bad.

If English Were Phonetically Consistent

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said that English is a frustrating, nonsensical language where rules matter until they don’t and that it could seriously due with some consistency. But what if we actually had some of that consistency?

English would sound like it, German and Swedish had a drunken, baby makin’ 3-way, apparently.

Maybe we should just leave things as they are.

Yes, Things Have Been Quiet, But That’s Only Because We Were Off Learning That Siri Existed 30 Years Ago

Well hello there!

Yes, both we and the site do, in fact, still exist. Things have just been quiet the last little bit because it’s summer and that tends to be how things roll around here regardless of intent. Usually you all have the same idea as us, but for some reason numbers haven’t fallen off of nearly the cliff this go round that they generally do this time of year. I can’t decide whether to credit that to the list or if the lesson is that we can abandon you more often without having to care.

It’s been a good summer, for the most part. Some relaxing, some time with family, some time with friends, some music on our own porch and elsewhere, some relaxing after the friends and music because we’re starting to get too old for this shit and some other, less fun real life stuff that I won’t get into right now.

I can’t promise that we’re back up to speed starting now since it is, after all, still summertime, but in almost 15 years there has yet to be a month in the archives with 0 posts in it, so I had to come up with something since that’s a thing I’m strangely proud of.

So to keep the streak alive and also because it’s good, please enjoy this video demonstration of Siri…the 1980s edition.

As a blind guy I’ve heard a lot of awful computerized voices and have gotten pretty used to them out of necessity, but this one is so over the top awful that even I can’t make some of it out. The only thing I got out of the Nirvana’s first album question was 1967, and I don’t even know where to start on the coolest German song bit. But there’s some nice dumb subtle comedy here when you can understand it and they absolutely nailed the hokey old school presentation, so nice job.

Happy 29th Birthday, CBC Newsworld!

It’s hard to remember a time before CBC Newsworld, or CBC News Network as we know it now. For years it’s been the first place I turn when I hear about the sort of breaking news that gives me an urge to follow it nonstop, because it’s one of the very few television news outlets that doesn’t leave me feeling either totally gross or less informed than I was when I started.

But for a little while in the 1980s, it sometimes felt like it might not happen. Between carriage disputes, court challenges and mandated changes to how it had to operate, getting it up and running was anything but smooth sailing. But on July 31st, 1989, nearly two years after its license was granted, it finally did get up and running, and this is what it looked like.

Just try getting that bumper music out of your head, I dare you.

Here’s more from the CBC Archives.

When viewers first tuned in to CBC Newsworld on July 31, 1989, they saw a slew of technical hiccups. Satellites lost their signals, audio crackled in and out, and hosts clumsily stumbled through their first demanding day.
That applied only to those who could actually get the channel. Due to a disagreement with cable companies in Nova Scotia, Alberta and Quebec, Newsworld wasn’t universally available.

But, for the first time in this country, Canadians had their own dedicated 24-hour news channel. Designed for on-the-go viewers, Newsworld offered frequent news updates and magazine-style programming. The network had an exhilarating if imperfect debut, as shown in this local Halifax television report.

Newsworld debuted at 6 a.m. on Day 1 with a taped recording of the national anthem and prepared speeches by CBC president Pierre Juneau, CBC TV vice president Denis Harvey, information programming chief Trina McQueen and Newsworld chief Joan Donaldson.

CBC Newsworld’s first year of programming included a current events program titled Canada Live, the cross-country news program This Country, Newsworld Morning, Business World and Fashion File.

I Can’t Wait To See My Old Flame…And Then Piss It Out


A friendly chap by the name of Michael Allen Haag seems to have had himself quite the time during a recent plane ride from Denver to Charleston, according to reports. The people around him? Probably not so much.

Witnesses gave an FBI agent these accounts of a harrowing flight from Denver on Thursday night, according to an arrest affidavit:
During the first two rounds of drink orders, Haag bought double shots of vodka and tonic.
At some point, he turned to a woman sitting next to him and described being “physically excited” to visit an old girlfriend in Charleston. The passenger threw on some headphones and tried to sleep.

But as Haag asked the woman about her relationship with her husband and looked at her legs, she later told the FBI, she grew “more and more uncomfortable.”
Haag then turned to another woman, who was asleep when she felt Haag touching her fingers. She lifted her head from her tray and found Haag looking away, “very agitated and shuffling things.”
He touched her leg, she later said.
“Stop touching me,” she yelled, as Haag leaned toward her and apologized. “Back off.”
After she said Haag touched her leg again, the woman stood and yelled for a flight attendant. 
The flight crew ushered Haag to the back row of the plane, where another woman reported seeing him urinate on the seat in front of him.
The woman snapped a picture, then screamed.

This, I do believe, would be the photo in question. You’re welcome, and I’m sorry.

Haag faces a charge of indecent exposure that could carry with it a sentence of 90 days should he be convicted, but that’s the least of his worries. He was also hit with a felony count for interfering with a flight crew. That one could net him up to 20 years.

I hope that was some good vodka, my man.

What In The Actual Hell Is Going ON In Guelph These Days?

These are all items from Guelph police news releases, and all were published this summer. I’m not 100 percent positive that this is a complete list, but lord love a duck, there are certainly plenty of them as it is.

Obviously there were incidents here and there, but I can’t recall there being this sort of volume in such a short time during the years we lived there. What is happening? Did somebody slash the event budget? Are you aiming to change your slogan from Royal City to Oil City?

Good lord.

Update: The local CBC appears to have stolen my gimmick and begun compiling a list of its own. Theirs stretches back to March, so has a couple of items mine doesn’t.

Also, Mayor Guthrie is unimpressed.

“Guelph is known for our beautiful parks and green spaces — so people, whether they’re visiting our city or live here, they need to be able to enjoy them without any fear of this activity going on,” said Guthrie.

“Police are very aware of these incidents and are taking this very seriously,” said Guthrie. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve had some increased investments in enforcement — and I’m going to continue to support that.”

Guthrie adds mental health issues and drugs are most likely playing a part in this as well.
“Those can’t be full out excuses for what is happening, and for the younger people performing any ‘acts’ as a ‘prank’ . . . it’s not a prank, it’s disgusting. My message for them? Find a different hobby, or get a job.”

“As I said, there is also a part of this which is mental health issues – so we do need to have some further support from the provincial government for all municipalities. We need to make sure people are aware there are drug issues involved in this too – but these aren’t way of ‘explaining out’ the situation, or using it as an excuse.”
He adds as much as we need to be aware of these issues, we also need to acknowledge that Guelph is a great place to live.
“It is going to take our whole community coming together to not be fearful of this issue. Go out, enjoy our parks — but at the same time, be vigilant and call the authorities if you see anything out of place.”

Public Transit By Uber Seems To Be Going Alright

Last year, the town of Innisfil decided to partner with Uber instead of spending piles of money to build its own transit system from scratch. I said then that it was an interesting idea and that I was pulling for it to work out.

So how is it working out? Pretty well, it appears.

Innisfil, Ont., estimates an experimental transit partnership with Uber is saving the town more than $8 million a year compared to using an equivalent door-to-door bus service.

“This worked for us, and we’re thrilled,” Deputy Mayor Lynn Dollin told guest host David Common on CBC’s Metro Morning on Thursday.

“If we were to try to offer the service that we offer now — so 24 hours a day, to any resident in the municipality — it would cost $8 million, so there’s absolutely no way we could have done that.”
The town and company say 3,400 users have completed more than 26,700 trips in the first eight months of the program.

I don’t know that the more rural parts of Waterloo Region will ever try out something like this at least in part because the taxi lobby would flip its lid, but it’s certainly something worth thinking about. It would be much more efficient and convenient than trying to connect them through bus routes that only run a few times a day.

New Golf Shoes

Old Bert always wanted a pair of soft spike golf shoes like Freddie Couples wore, so when he saw some on sale after his round one day, he wasted no time buying them.

He was so delighted with his purchase that he decided to wear them home so he could show them off to his wife.

Walking proudly into the house, he sauntered into the kitchen and asked “Honey, notice anything different about me?”

She looked him over and replied, “Nope.”

Frustrated as all getout, he stormed off into the bathroom, undressed and walked back into the kitchen completely naked except for the new golf shoes.

Again he asked, a little louder this time, “Notice anything different NOW?”

She looked him up and down and said “Bert, what’s different? It’s hanging down today, it was hanging down yesterday, and it’ll be hanging down again tomorrow.”

Furious, Bert yelled out, “AND DO YOU KNOW WHY IT’S HANGING DOWN?”

“Nope. Not a clue,” she replied.

“IT’S HANGING DOWN BECAUSE IT’S LOOKING AT MY NEW GOLF SHOES!”

“That’s nice dear,” said his wife. “Too bad you didn’t buy a new hat.”

Family Vacation

Gill is back to talk the people on your family road trip. Number one is absolutely Carin, and I can see myself as a four, maybe a five and probably a seven. I love useless trivia, and somehow I can be both easily annoyed and very easygoing.


Get out the road maps, pack your bags and load up the Sedan, van or station wagon. Not only are we heading back in time, but on the time honored family trip. In this essay I will talk a little about family vacation stereotypes and the members of your family who fit them. Sit back, relax, and you better have went before we get started because the next rest stop’s roughly an hour away.

  1. The organizer – This is the one who had checklists for the checklists. Usually a mom or in some cases dad or an older sibling they would have it all together two weeks before the trip. Anyone who dared mess up the natural order of things usually felt wrath.
  2. The overpacker – This was usually a female in her teens who felt that even on your family’s quick trip to the coast that she would need several of everything.
  3. The Procrastinator- This was usually a dad, brother, or the messy teenager. They would often wait until the morning of the trip and throw it all together.

  4. The fun facts person – This was usually an older relative who had spent the last month researching the rout, things on said rout, and fun facts about your destination.
  5. The Griper – This was often that teenage sibling, finding fault, rolling eyes, and with their head covered by walkman.
  6. The photographer – Often a mom or teenage sister, they like to click click at every rest stop, bed down, or anywhere else no matter how interesting it might be.
  7. The Go With The Flow – This person just enjoyed being on the trip.

Question

Have I missed anyone, and what was your favorite family trip?

Gill sent this not long after what you just read, so since we seem to have a theme going, let’s keep rolling.

My family used to play the place name one all the time on long drives.

Ok! Ok! Settle Down! Don’t make me turn this blog around, so no one has fun! These are the games and threats that happened on a typical vacation.

  1. The Alphabet game – This could be very simple (“a is for apple”) or more complex. The game my family played on long trips was someone would say a place name like Rochester, and someone else would say Romania, each taking the last letter of the last person’s place name as the first letter of theirs.
  2. Punch Buggy – Depending on where and when you grew up, a punch buggy could be any red car, or a particular brand of car. The object of this game was to punch the person next to you in the arm as hard as you could and say “punch buggy no punch backs” before that person could do the same to you.
  3. Travel card games – This often worked if a lot of people piled in to one of those vans with a table in back. Usually it was an older cousin or sib teaching the fine art of snap or go fish.
  4. Don’t make me turn this car around – How many times were you arguing with your sibs and one of your parents actually made this threat?
  5. Actually making the kids get out – This could be considered highly frowned upon now, but back in the day it wasn’t uncommon for the sibs in the back of the station wagon to be fighting and the parent, having had enough, to pull over and open the doors. Sometimes they would even drive off to put a scare into them.

Question

What’s the most interesting bribe you took from or offered to a sibling?

Vacation Bible School Makeover

Here’s Gill with a few words on what she’s up to these days. I don’t know where she got her ideas about volunteering, but that was never what I saw where I grew up.

When you think of Vacation Bible School, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably you think of arts, crafts, Bible studies, and maybe the pastor’s wife talking about how she and the pastor assembled a church school for thirty children in Botswana when they were missionaries. What if I told you it was something completely different, and more like the most fun you could have at a day camp?

So Different

When I was a kid going to VBS, we did traditional things, games, devotions, arts and crafts, and trivia. That was then, but where I’ve been volunteering, the kids had a choice of basketball, drama, or soccer. I helped in drama, leading games, giving out ideas, and watching as the mostly six and seven year olds ran around and enjoyed themselves. It was really satisfying observing the kids practice cooperation as they allowed their imaginations to soar skyward. The kids were great and I felt respected. They called me “Ms. Gill” and when I gave instructions, they listened and were polite and gracious.

The Verdict

As today was the last day of the program I am slightly sad, but here I sit smiling on the priceless and abundant blessing those children gave me. I never thought much of volunteering, sure I volunteered some at a local hospital growing up, but I never thought about it as much. What do I mean? Where I grew up, unless you were volunteering for a sporting event, retired, or intellectually challenged you generally didn’t. But this experience has broadened my horizons. I am thankful that the head of the Children’s Ministry approached me and proposed the idea of helping out at a Vacation Bible School. I really enjoy working with children, and would happily do this again.

Question

What is a volunteer job you had that you loved, or are you interested in volunteering?