GETTING MORE TALE #442: Oktoberfest
Gemütlichkeit and willkommen! Love it or hate it, it’s that time of year again: Oktoberfest!
Based on the original 200 year old Bavarian festival in Germany, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest attracts thousands every year to bask in our glorious beer, Polka music, sausage and fall weather.
It’s also the time of year that parts of the downtown gets closed to traffic, and congestion increases to an undesired, maddening level. With all the construction and destruction this year, Oktoberfest 2015 will be the hardest yet to navigate with your vehicle. I dread my daily commute in and out of town. Add in the potential for drunk drivers and you have a great old time lined up, right? Approximately one million people will show up for the celebrations here, the second largest Oktoberfest in the world.
The climax of the movie Strange Brew was filmed and takes place at Kitchener Oktoberfest. “Take the 401 to Kitchener,” says Doug McKenzie in this clip.
It’s not all bad. Sausage and schnitzel on a bun is always a treat, but people don’t come all this way for anything except the beer. Sample one of the many, many brews while you are here…just don’t make an ass of yourself while you do it. As a local, I’ve never been fond of this time of year. I don’t drink beer anymore so there is very little to draw me to the downtown core during Oktoberfest. However, there are plenty of draws for the rest of you.
Polka music and dancing! If that’s your thing, then put on your lederhosen and dirndls! Get ready to do the Bird Dance and check out the accordion of Walter Ostanek. Sometimes there are some good Oktoberfest shows to be seen, such as the year I Mother Earth played (with Ostanek!). There are beer exhibits and dining experiences. There’s Onkel Hans, Tante Frieda and the tapping of the keg. There’s Miss Oktoberfest and the annual parade.
Actually, forget it – I don’t care about any of these things! I’ve gone to the parade before, but it’s always so cold that you wished you stayed home and watched it on TV. I have done my fair share of Polka dancing. In fact, Polka dancing was compulsory in grade school. Learning such cultural cornerstones as the Bird Dance was deemed important enough to justify teaching kids about a beer festival in grade school. While my opinion is certainly not held by all residents, I was burned out on Oktoberfest before I was even old enough to drink.
By the way: There are plenty of safe transportation options for drinkers, including free busses from the festhallen, free soft drinks for designated drivers, and the excellent company Over the Limit Designated Drivers (1-888-594-9144), who will drive you and your car home safely.
Working the Record Store days, I always hated the seasonal requests for Polka or “Oom-pah-pah” music. Our used Polka CD selection (filed under World Music) rarely had anything in it, and when it did, it would be snapped up long before Oktoberfest. Once, Walter Ostanek came into the store himself looking for Polka music. When I responded that we had nothing in stock, he handed me his card and said, “If you need any, let me know.” I responded, “Hey, I know you! You’re the guy who won all those Juno awards.” He paused and looked at me gravely. “They were Grammies,” he corrected me. Whoops!
Oktoberfest 2015 runs from October 9-17. Come to the festhallen and biergartens, get your Polka on, and get pissed. But please, don’t drink and drive. Use one of the options listed above to make sure everyone gets home safely.
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#385: The Epic of the Garlic Sausage Apocalypse
I have been sitting on this story for five years. Now, the true tale can finally be told.
Some folks don’t like their mother-in-law. I do! I am very lucky to have a great, generous and fun mother-in-law. She’s also very proper and old fashioned, Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom, so sometimes she will be easily shocked. For example, she refuses to say the word “fart”, considering is as vulgar as another f-word. Instead she prefers the word “puup”. A word she used frequently during the night of the Garlic Sausage Apocalypse.
She had come to spend the weekend, visiting us in our little apartment. It might be small but it’s usually big enough for the three of us. Not on the weekend of the Garlic Sausage Apocalypse.
Jen and her mom went to the Kitchener farmer’s market that morning and picked up some goodies. The apple fritters there are excellent, especially when still warm, so they picked up two boxes of those. Fresh veggies, fresh meat, all natural unpasteurized local apple cider, and four huge links of smoked garlic sausage (about two pounds of meat, garlic and spices). It was, as they say, the proverbial successful trip. Much of the time they are sold out of that garlic sausage. I immediately tucked into a full link and called it lunch. I ate close to half a box of apple fritters and called that dessert.
By the end of the day, I had almost finished two links of delicious smoked kilbassa by myself. Jen and her mom were watching something on TV, but I was feeling a bit gassy to say the least. Given the contents of my stomach, fermenting and being transformed by bacteria into a lovely melange of methane, you could smell me every time I had to let one go. The farts were frequent and supercharged. Whatever pills we had in the house were not helping. And like I said earlier, it’s a small apartment.
The explosions were occurring approximately every five minutes. To me, all I could smell was the fondly remembered scent of garlic, pork and methane. All Jen and her mom could smell was rotting death-like fumes of evil. And they were all coming from my ass! Jen threatened to get on a bus and “buy a cork”. Of the two of them, Jen was definitely the most offended. “This is the last time we are bringing you garlic sausage I swear to God!” There was nothing I could do to stop it. Leaving the room to evacuate my colon of gas didn’t help; the mere act of getting up and moving was enough to squeeze one out. Faced with a lack of options (and starting to feel a little queezy myself) I called it an early night and went to bed.
The next part of this story has been assembled from testimony by Jen and her mother.
Mrs. LeBrain and her mom watched television peacefully after I retired for the evening. I was asleep quickly, but the body continues to digest your food and expel gas even after you fall asleep. Whether your spouses believe you are not, people do fart in their sleep, and my ass quickly turned the bedroom into a chemistry lab gone awry.
A short while later, in the living room, Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom smelled something. Sniffing the air for a clue, she was repelled by the odour.
“Jennifer! Did you just puup?”
“No mom,” replied Jen, but picking up the scent as well. “I thought it was you but I didn’t want to say anything!”
“Then what is that gawd-forsaken smell??” queried her mom.
Jen knew but did not want to face the truth. “Oh God! It’s Mike!”
“Isn’t the bedroom door closed?” asked her mom.
“YES! Oh God. I have to sleep in there!”
Jen and her mom discussed the situation but agreed that there was only one couch large enough to comfortably sleep on. Her mom is very wise, and knew how to deal with the situation. “Just put some perfume on your arm,” she advised. “When you go to bed, just sleep with your arm near your nose, and that will help.” Good advice, but it was not enough to protect her from the stench.
When it was bed time for Jen, she took a deep breath, held it and entered the Den of Death.
I guess the old perfume on the arm trick worked in the long run, because she did fall asleep. Meanwhile, I was oblivious to all of this, happily dreaming of guitars and lightsabers. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I had no idea that anything was amiss.
It only took me one second to realize something was very wrong. The bedroom was filled with a heavy, pungent cloud. It had penetrated every cubic inch of the room; it was inescapable. It was also immediately identifiable as the scent of garlic, sausage, and my intestines. And it was still being produced, I discovered, as I tooted once more upon leaving the bed.
I went about my morning business and settled into the computer room to check my email. I was only appalled further when I ascertained that the entire house smelled of garlic sausage sphincters. It wasn’t as intense as the bedroom, but it was detectable in the air.
It may have been winter, but I cracked the window in the computer room and began the fumigation process.
What of Jen and her mom? They did survive, although neither of them really know how they did it. The inner strength of those two women must have carried them through the night. In the morning, they implemented a two-year ban on buying garlic sausage. I can’t say that I disagreed with their ruling, in light of all the horrible evidence surrounding us!