Canada: The Land Of Fluffy Towels And Clean Ashtrays

ACC (Air Canada Centre)
Toronto, ON
October 24, 1999

Please join me as I tell you the story of my 1680.6-mile trek to The Great North for an adventuresome five concerts in five days. Are you sitting comfortably? ARE YOU?!

October 23, 1999: The trip started bright and early on the morning of October 23, 1999, Al's 40th birthday. In honor of Al, I put on my glow-in-the-dark Al T-shirt that no longer glows-in-the-dark and packed the car up with pickled wieners and Slim Whitman tapes and headed off on my journey to Canada. The drive itself was pretty uneventful. I passed the time trying to identify road kill and trying not to become road kill myself.

My first scheduled stop was in Buffalo, NY, where I picked up the lovely *other* Amanda at Buffalo Airport. I was very happy to see Amanda again and was really looking forward to our weeklong ordeal of touring with scissors. We headed across the border and stopped at a restaurant called "Harvey's" and had some dinner. Much to our disappointment, they didn't serve hamster food. We spent a while looking for our hotel. "Perfectly located" -- yeah right!! I must say, at least the room was pretty big, which was very helpful since we had a lot of stuff along. We spent the evening unwinding and watching the Much Music video special about Al.

October 24, 1999: We got up early for our complimentary continental breakfast and spent some time decorating my car, which throughout the trip was now known as "Driving With Scissors." The car had giant yellow scissors on the front grill and creative window clings that Amanda made. At least a few people thought it was creative, including the "Eat It guy" (no, not Al!) who yelled from his vehicle to us as we were driving.

Now, we were off to begin our day in Toronto. We headed down Yonge St. for a nice tour of the city. We stopped by the Air Canada Center (ACC) and looked for the tour bus, but it had not arrived yet so we followed these underground tunnels to a shopping mall and had some lunch. We headed back to the ACC, but the fine people inside the warm building said the band hadn't arrived yet.

The ACC is "perfectly located" in downtown Toronto right next to the CN Tower, which was one of the stops that I had wanted to make. On our way over the CN Tower, we saw some posters advertising that night's "Weird Al" concert. I tried my hardest to get them off the poles, but it was really cold and windy that day, and the poles were cold, and whoever put up the posters used this substance that was stronger than the gel that the guy in Flock Of Seagulls must have used on his hair, so they came out wrinkly and slightly ripped. But after all my hard work and frostbitten hands, I was able to pull one down for me, and one down for Amanda.

The CN Tower was very nice and has a glass floor that you can walk and jump on, high above the ground. It was a bit cold to go outside, but we went out for a few minutes and pretended to throw bananas at the pedestrians below. Undoubtedly had we thrown real bananas they would have frozen solid and shattered into tiny pieces on the sidewalk below. We went back to the ACC and managed to track down Bermuda. Poor Jon was very sick so we left him to rest and got psyched for the show.

Before the show started, I went over to say hello to Sharon and Fred, who I noticed were at the show also. Our assigned seats were pretty good, but, besides a nice person named Staci, who coincidentally sat near us for all 3 shows, the whole row was empty. So, after the opening comedian, we moved closer to the center of the stage.

The show itself was really great! It's been a while since I had seen a show and it was even better than I had remembered. I'm amazed that Al and the band can give 110% each night, sometimes 6 nights a week and never tire or slow down. It's incredible.

Amanda ran up to the stage and took a roll of pictures during "Germs." Al came down the aisle near us and Amanda was again in the lucky seat as Al gave her his shorts during "One More Minute." I took a few pictures from the front during "Smells Like Nirvana," and everyone sang along during "The Saga Begins" and "Yoda."

After the show, those with after show passes gathered near the stage and were lead to the green room. There was this little girl who was a guest of Jim West and celebrating her birthday. She was sitting near us, and we found out that she had her birthday party at the Al show and Jim was helping to arrange it so that her friends and her could meet Al afterwards. It was pretty nice of Jim to do that.

I had worn my specially made Stephen Jay tour shirt hoping that I could show it to Steve, but he was the only band member who never showed up. I had a very belated birthday gift for Jon, which he opened and seemed to enjoy. It was chocolate filled with various types of alcohol. I'm sure, if he decided to have any while he was sick, it would have knocked him out right away. Jon and I talked for a little bit and he stole my giant scissors. Actually it was more of a misunderstanding, but I let him keep them anyway.

Rubén and Jon posed for a few Elvis pictures and then Jim showed up. I talked to Jim a little bit about the tattoo I was planning and showed him a picture that's my front-runner for the tattoo but still not exactly what I was looking for.

Soon it became my time in line, and I presented Al with his slightly belated birthday gift. It was a homemade T-shirt that said "Canada The Land of Fluffy Towels and Clean Ashtrays" and a Hawaiian shirt with yellow buses on it. He commented how it was the first Hawaiian shirt he got this year, which I thought was a bit odd, considering how much he is associated with them. I think he kind of liked it. At least I hope he did, and if he didn't, I hope I never find out. Amanda gave him some cookies and an accordion. We stayed as long as we could, but soon they tired of us being there and sent us back out into the cold.

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