Sunday, October 16, 2005
Buffalo, New York
The Walden Galleria shopping mall
When I think of Buffalo the first things to come to mind are all the brain washings from watching TV as a kid. TOPs friendly markets, Rocketship 7 with Commander Tom, eye witness news, Channel 4 news with Irv Winstien, "it's eleven o'clock do you know where your children are?", the random fire in Cheektowaga, the random fire in north Tonawanda, and the pre FOX channel WUTV 29 of which I watched hordes of cartoons before the CN tower was built and seemed to jam the signal.
Not surprisingly, when we did spot a TOPs Friendly market, I had to resist the urge to jump out of the van and go there to buy a box of Cookie Crisp. The cereal that was banned from entering Canada for one reason or another. The thing about Cookie Crisp was it resembled small penny sized chocolate chip cookies that tasted like chocolate chip cookies when you added milk.
The important part was adding the milk. This I found out when travelling to New York city to visit a cousin. I bought a box of cereal to get to my cousin's place only to find he didn't have milk. I took matters into my own hands and ate the cereal right out of the box. After all, they were mini cookies how bad could they be? I think chewing on milk bones had more flavor, especially the little green milk bones.
Years later, I found at the time of purchase the cereal was made by Ralston (Ralston Purina, makers of dog and cat food). To make things right at the time of having the actual cereal in my hands and just to make sure the TV brain washing wasn't a bizzare attempt at getting a kid to part with his money on a cookie taste thing I ran out to make a separate trip for milk. Once back I flooded the bowl of dry cookie-like things. Like the commercial stated they stayed crisp in milk. It was like adding the milk was magic. They really did taste like little choclate chip cookies. Wow, they were good! How could I doubt a TV commercial for cereal again?
As an interesting side, the mascot of the cereal was a "magical" wizard named Cookie Jarvis (what else?) that protected the cereal from a thieving burglar. I don't know if the burglar had a name but he always got caught with his hands in the cookie jar and the cereal always managed to get to the deserving kids. Kids that should have been me.
Buffalo today. Why were we there? Why to go to the Walden Galleria of course. A rather large-ish shopping mall that would rival Toronto's Eaton Centre if it were slightly bigger and had more natural light. As with the cereal there's always neat stuff that they sell in the States that they don't offer in Canada. For example hunting equipment. Rows and rows of guns, rifles, and crossbows that could shoot a dart easily through a small tree. It made me shudder while in the section looking for a duck whistle.
Sure guns don't kill people. People kill people. But if you take away the guns, killing people becomes a bit more difficult. People would have to work at it. Guns are like the infra red TV remote control. Whereas if you were to use a knife to kill it would be like using a dial on the TV you'd turn to manually change the channel.
Take channel surfing. Would people change channels the same amount of times at the same frequency if it involved getting up off the lazy boy, going over across the room, over to the the dial on the TV, and back to the lazy boy? Compared to clicking the remote. I'd bet a lot more infomercials and crappy TV programming would be watched just because we are too lazy to change channels that way. Same thing with a gun. Just whip it out, pop the guy off, put the gun away. Effortless. With a knife. Take a hold of the knife in the back pocket, think the gruesome thoughts, then take the hand off the knife because you've already spent way too much resources and it's just too much effort involved.
A duck whistle. Yes a duck whistle. Since there aren't that many hunting stores in Toronto that I know of. At least downtown. I thought a duck whistle would be a great thing to buy since it seems there's a hunting section in every sports store (see convenient and laziness comes into play here as well) and I've been photographing all these birds recently. Bird photography good. Bird hunting bad. Plus it's great device to use before leaving your verbal response on a telephone answering machine.
The Smooth Talker coming to an answering machine near you.
To my surprise there were many makes of duck whistles. Some even came with instructional videos (VHS and DVD). The names of the whistle models were great. "Smooth Talker", "Yo, Sista", "P.H.A.T. Lady", "The Hag", "Original Wench" . Really, they exist. Some were single reed and some like the "Smooth Talker" were double. What that really means I don't know it just sounded more impressive and because of that was also a bit more expensive. Heck it could have said "contains no MSG" and I would have bought it.
Thinking "How hard could using a duck whistle be?", I opted to overlook the whistles that included the video instructions. There are only two ends. A duck whistle ranks up the musical chain next to a wooden block or triangle. Besides, on the back of each package, video or not, there was a short description telling how to use the whistle. One of my favorites being "Make the whistle sound natural". Not only simple instructions but all encompassing.
I guess it was put there for the same people that chain saw packaging put "Do not stop with genital area". Although to misuse a duck whistle is probably less dangerous. Unless you get pecked to death by all the ducks wanting you to stop using the device. Mind you, duck beaks are rounded. You'd get bludgeoned to death as opposed to speared to death. Stay away from the Blue Heron. Now that bird has a spear (see previous entry). Conclusion: Ducks are cute, harmless, and funny looking. Why irritate them with bad duck calls? ...and so I bought the Smooth Talker, the Barry White of the bunch.
I think the highlight of the trip was seeing the canadian customs officer's face when I demonstrated it.
CCO - "You bought a duck... what? a whistle?"
Me - "Quaaaaaaack" (imagine the duck is half wheezing)
CCO - "go on through." (smile on his face)
For an instrument that plays only one tone it really takes some practice. If you blow too softly it sounds like your duck is slowly deflating, too hard and your duck is having it's life squeezed out of it, much like you were playing it under your arm like a bagpipe.
Over the next few days I will try it under different conditions and get back to you with the results.