Friday, November 17, 2006

Guess you know I'm back, eh?

Guess who's back? Back again. Fack is back. Tell a friend. Fack is back. Fack is back. Fack is back. Fack is back. Denananana.

Here's a little story
about Fort McMurray.
It's an oil boom town
with lots of snow flurries.
Flew up Sunday
Froze off two toes
couldn't sew them back on
But that's how it goes.

Ok, I don't know where that came from, but I'm done rapping. Sometimes I just have to flow.

Oh Canada, what can I say about you?

First off, Canada was cold as Hell -- the seventh level, you know, the one Dante envisioned frozen by the frigid winds creating by Satan's flapping wings? That's Canada. The high in Ft. McMurray the entire time we were there was -12 C. (That's 10 degrees fahrenheit for all those of you who aren't down with the metric system. (Freezing is at 32 degrees fahrenheit for those of you who are just plain retarded.)) I was so happy when we made it back to Calgary this afternoon because it was only -2 C there!

So imagine if you will standing outside in the -12 C snow wishing there was some sort of feeling in your feet for about 6 hours supervising a camera crew and listening to interviews to make sure the interviewee is spitting out the right lines, so that nothing violates corporate policies or confidentiality agreements. Meanwhile there's these Canadians standing around watching me watching the crew saying, "Lucked out with the warm weather today, eh?" Apparently it gets down to -40 C at times. I was just standing and shivering. I wasn't even running a camera or doing anything to keep me occupied. Then again, that was kind of a blessing because at least I got to keep my gloves on, so my hands weren't as cold as my feet. Although it was overcast Monday, it didn't snow hard on us, so there's something about the bitter cold that motivates you to get your scenes finished, so you don't have to stand out in the bitter cold for a second day.

So this whole Ft. McMurray region has what they call oil sands. It's oil suspended in sand, so instead of drilling for oil, you strip mine the sand, run it through some sort of process to distill the oil out of it, then put the sand back and refine the oil. Kind of weird because in the oil business up there they refer to mines instead of wells. We were staying in Ft. McMurray, which is a boom town bursting at the seems from all the oil companies importing workers for the mines and refineries. We actually shot our film up in Ft. McKay an hour north of there, but that place doesn't even have a hotel.

Ft. McMurray is small and can't really handle the capacity of people that have immigrated there. The airport is about the size of my house, and there's only two terminals (one waiting room with a door out of each side labeled "Terminal 1" and "Terminal 2". There's no extendable walkways to the jets. They just roll a stairway out onto the tarmack. You're first taste of Ft. McMurray is the bitter cold walk from the plane to the Terminal. There's constantly a line of cars ringing the drive-thru at Wendy's and every restaurant we ate at was out of certain menu items because the suppliers just couldn't keep them in stock. Unfortunately at one place that item was Bud Light, but our waitress sweet-talked me into drinking Molson's Canadian -- which they all had plenty of.

Apparently minimum wage in that town has become around $14/hour because labor is in such demand. However, rent has skyrocketed, so unless your company is paying for your housing, it's almost impossible to find a house or apartment. One thing I did notice is that since all the men are working out at the mines and refineries, the entire labor force of town is teenage to 20-something women. This, I did not mind. Young, beautiful women at the rental car place. Young, beautiful women at the hotel and restaurants. Young, beautiful at the airport. Young, beautiful women at the gas station. It was amazing. I noticed most of them were married though.

Something else I noticed about a lot of these Canadians were big freaking cold sores. That was kind of gross.

Oh, and Canadians aren't extra nice like they're portrayed in the movies. I had to cut one off in traffic, and he made an extra-special effort to catch up to me to honk and fly the bird.

From what I could tell in Ft. McMurray they just refined oil, listened to country music, rodeoed and watched Hockey. Switch the Hockey for football, and they'd be Texans with goofy accents.
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