Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

In the stinkin’ rich ski resort town of Whistler – to the north of Vancouver and where the overhyped, overspent, tiresome and boring 2010 Olympics which will admission-cost-wise be out-of-reach for anybody but the chosen few – there is a move afoot to sterilize local bears.

That’s because bears tend to live in the area. And, because the assholes that reside in the mega-expensive properties at Whistler are ‘skeered’ of actual wild animals, they want to keep them from wandering into town. Consequently, they’ve created a body with the quaint name of Get Bear Smart Society and they have come up with this proposal: get rid of the spawn and then the bears will all go away. They miss the point that if they didn’t leave their goddamn garbage lying around, the ursines would have little motivation to wander into the village. Bears are notably unimpressed by Mercedeses and Caddy Escalades. They don’t much care for self-impressed city slickers either, and it’s in a way too bad they don’t work their magic more on them.

Whistler lies right next door to one of the last remaining tracts of genuine wilderness in North America. So, needless to say, there are bears (both black and grizzly), cougars, wolves, wolverines, foxes, coyotes, deer, elk and cute li’l bunnies and squirrels mighty close at hand. Because, of course, fools that those damn animals are, they kind of thought the wilds were their own, aside from the odd encroachment by trappers, loggers, and the long-resident native people. But, then uptown came and attempted to transfer high-end neighborhoods to the boonies. Of course, they brought their manicured lawn sensibilities with them. “Oooh ick, deer poop, Ralph. They should do something about that.”

Anyway, I’ve had a long-standing gripe about people moving from the big city to remote realms, and then decrying the fact there are resident animals that have been displaced. They are, of course, the people who get beside themselves whenever a cougar or bear wanders into their vinyl-siding realm. For myself, I’m disappointed that in all the years I’ve lived here, I am yet to see a cougar in the wild. Albeit they are dangerous, but they are also magnificent in their sleek feline beauty.

Say, folks. Here’s an idea. Instead of sterilizing the bears, why don’t you do everybody a favor and sterilize yourselves? Just a modest proposal.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Oh, Hell, let us have bread and circuses instead

Let me open by saying I am not a particularly religious person in a church-going sense. I have my own spiritual beliefs, and they are profoundly held and cherished and they serve me well, and I have never felt I needed the interpretations of a person in a stiff collar to guide me along.

At the same time, when I was a small kid I went to Sunday school. Not necessarily willingly, but it was a demand that we all go to SS. I didn’t like the idea, and did an awful lot of screwing around, and was regularly exiled (excommunicated) and sat staring at the coats and galoshes in the hallway. That was OK. It wasn’t ‘real’ school, so there wasn’t much they could do in the punishment realm.

Later, it was expected that I be confirmed as an Anglican (Episcopalian) and take communion. I went through all the rigors, including memorizing the Apostles Creed and all of that stuff. And, I took communion – “Hey, you get to drink wine! How cool is that?” – possibly twice, but never again. I had fulfilled the familial theological obligation.

Also, at that time, in school each morning (this continued from first grade right through to graduation) we recited the Lord’s Prayer and had our daily scripture reading. Often New Testament (screw the Jewish kids and other non-Christians), but never Song of Solomon.

And, that was the way it went in those days. In many respects I’m sorry that it doesn’t still go that way. I’ll explain why. What it gave me (and many others of my generation) was the basics of our Judeo-Christian culture. Not so much to do with God, but to do with who we were and where we came from. Although I didn’t pay much attention, I picked the stuff up. At a later date I could read and understand Shakespeare, and I knew the metaphorical reasons why Faulkner titled one of his tales Absalom-Absalom.

Today, we live in a more culturally diverse society in North America and Western Europe. Many people of non Judeo-Christian heritage populate our lands. Nothing wrong with that. I am not a biased person and I like the presence of other cultures and interacting with them. At a later date I pondered some of the tenets of Buddhism and love the meditations. Likewise, the basis of Taoism is “shit happens.” Can’t argue with the wisdom of that, either.

At the same time we’ve gone wrong along the way. As we listened to the PC fascists (school boards and administrations did especially) we decided that in the name of ‘inclusiveness’ our schools must become purely secular institutions and there must never-ever be references to that aforementioned JC connection. So, no Bible readings and no Lord’s Prayer. Consequently kids from non-churchgoing families would have no points of reference as to who they are and where they come from heritage-wise. It almost goes as far as to suggest they should be ashamed of their heritage.

Today, however, school administrators and teachers absolutely wet themselves in catering to the other ethnic groups. Sikh festivals and Islamic holy days and Chinese New Year are to be given full play, but don’t you be mentioning Christmas or Easter by name.

The sad point in this is that those other groups never ‘asked’ us to do this. They are happy to have Christians and Jews in their midst because they admire people of a spiritual bent, regardless of the origins of that spirituality.

But, to show you how terribly silly (and boneheaded) we have become. A few years ago in this area there was the opening of a new middle school. Lots of ceremonial stuff, including a spiritual smudging by elders of the local Native band. Nothing wrong with that. It’s colourful and fun. But, at that same time, can you imagine the uproar if a pastor or priest had come to bless the school? That would have been unacceptable.

We are currently engaged in military conflict with elements of the Islamic world. What we fail to recognize is that these people, even if they are misinterpreting their own scripture, are vehemently religious people who ‘know’ the tenets of their faith. We don’t. We don’t know theirs, because we don’t even know ours.

This is yet another reason why I cringe a little bit for our future, and weep a bit for our culturally-corrupted children who actually believe a Lindsay Lohan is of any consequence in the world of their future.

You know, I still remember a good chunk of the Apostle’s Creed.


Monday, April 28, 2008

No room for the shiftless here

Life, somebody said, though I cannot remember who, even though I respect his/her wisdom, is mainly involved with ‘shifting’ things; moving items or substances from one place to another.

This applies in virtually every case you can think of. Our work, our travel, and making a move are the obvious ones. Less obvious, but equally valid are food consumption, digestion and excretion – if it goes in, it has to come out, and after it comes out it has to be expedited elsewhere to be disposed of. Yes, our shit must be shifted. Even making love, from intercourse to consummation, to giving birth is essentially about shifting items or substances. OK, graphic enough? But, come to think of it, we even refer to lazy people as being 'shiftless', as in not doing their rightful share of shifting.

Anyway, our weekend was involved with shifting. Shifting Wendy from Victoria to back here full-time (yay!), but also shifting a lot of stuff from Victoria to here. Even though we’d hired a moving van, we also hauled masses of things up in both our cars, which were filled to the gunwhales, or whatever equivalent cars have.

And then, once we got the Victoria stuff here, we also had to shift some stuff that was already in place in our primary residence. Fortunately, I have a dear friend whose soul I utterly love – the physical aspects of her are pretty cute, too – who is opening a half-way house for recovering addicts and was seeking furniture to deck her place out. Great for her and greet for us. We could shift some stuff 'out' to her, and we could then shift 'in' some of the stuff that’s coming here in the next day or so.

Her taking the stuff brings me to the second aspect of this thesis – the human propensity to hang on to stuff rather than shift it. You’ve all read those stories of elderly hermits who are found dead in some fleabag apartment literally buried in stuff, old newspapers and some such. The point is, if we don’t let things go, such could happen to any of us. We acquire things, use them, and then quite oddly really, grow sentimentally attached to them. They have associations and memories.

I had to deal this when I was giving my things over to my friend.

“Are you sure you won’t miss the table?” Wendy asked me. The table to which she was referring was a teakwood table that we used as our kitchen table. We ate many a meal at it. My second wife, stepdaughter and I ate many a meal at it. For my first wife and I, it was our first piece of decent dining furniture and we got it in 1975. Christ, that’s 33 years.

So, in answer to Wendy’s question, “Yes, I will miss it, in a weird way.”

But, it is to be replaced by a spiffy new table and chairs we had in the Victoria apartment. They will be better. Furthermore, we had literally no place to put the old table. It would have ended up in the garage as a storage platform for paint tins, or something equally undignified. Now it can serve as a place for a group of recovering junkies to have a coffee, chat and wrestle with their respective demons. A much better purpose.

The other item was the old, second-bedroom queen size bed. It was the nuptial bed for wife #1 and I and aside from serving for sleeping, it was also host to all sorts of other shenanigans. That’s a pretty cool history over many years. But, the thing is, in Victoria we had a wonderful king-size that is shortly to arrive here. In the master bedroom we had a beautiful brass bedstead queen size, so the crummy (albeit sometimes very naughty) bed lost in the draw, and it will also go to the recovering junkies. May they rest blissfully and drug free.

The final one was a perfectly decent chest-of-drawers. That one was easy. Neither of us liked it.

Hopefully the shifting will be over in the next couple of days, and then I can weep quietly for my old table and bed.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008


Stress cannot and should not be avoided. Everybody is always under some degree of stress. Even while quietly asleep our heart must continue to beat, our lungs to breathe, and even our brain works in the form of dreams. Stress can be avoided only by dying. The statement "He is under stress" is just as meaningless as "He is running a temperature.
-Dr. Hans Selye

I’ve been feeling stressed lately. It snuck up on me a few days ago, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Life is good. Indeed, it’s very good. In a couple of days Wendy will be returning full-time to our family home, rather than sort of visiting every other weekend. Furthermore, it means I won’t need to be going to ‘visit’ our Victoria apartment once or twice a month. In fact, it means we can give up said apartment, which has been cutting into our assets to the tune of a grand a month. That’s a lot when you’re still paying a mortgage on top of it.

So, it’s good. I’ll be with my ladylove full-time, other than during the hours in the day when we’re working. We’ll be saving a big chunk of money – money that can be used for travel, maintaining vehicles and that sort of thing.

Therefore, all the positives considered, why am I feeling stressed? Then I remembered my Selye readings from way back in Psych 100 days. Selye, who was an academic at McGill University in Montreal, was the guy who ‘invented’ stress. Well, he didn’t exactly invent it, but he defined it in such a manner that his considerations are basically universally accepted, just like Kubler-Ross’s on the Stages of Grief, or Virginia Satir (see above) on Stages of Change are.

One of Selye’s primary points is that life is about stress. We need stress in order to keep living. It keeps us safe and keeps us functional. And a body can be feeling just ecstatic, but be under stress. You can be lying on a beach in Hawaii or doing the naughty with a new lover, and still be stressed. You want to talk about stress, ask the folks who’ve won the lottery. They’re sometimes so stressed they go nuts or die prematurely.

So, back to me. I mean, since it is my blog, it is all about me.

I realize that my stress comes from ‘change’ in this case. Positive change, but change nevertheless. Wendy and I had lived together full-time – without and ultimately with benefit of clergy – since the spring of 1998. Then, in December of 2006 she took a good job in Victoria. It was a foot in the door kind of thing and she would have been crazy not to have taken it. At the same time, it meant she had to spend most of each month in a place 130 miles away. And, we both had to adjust to our loss of full-time. We both thought it would get easier as time went on. It didn’t, which is a nice testament about how much we value each other. So, it actually got harder.

Then, she finally, this spring, got the option to carry out the same job within commuter distance from our actual home. Wow, that was pee in our pants exciting news. So, that’s where we are.

At the same time, during that nearly 1-½ years, we’d both adjusted to our reality of the day. We’d had to live our lives. We developed our own routines. It sucked, and it was lonely as hell sometimes. The loss of regular nuptial tenderness wasn’t exactly a thrill, either. And, eventually it evolved that when she was here, she felt like she was visiting, and when I was in Victoria, I felt the same. Damnit, that wasn’t what we’d signed on for when we’d ‘plighted our troth’ (whatever the hell that means). But, as I say, we adjusted.

Adjusted to sleeping alone (except during ‘visits’), eating meals alone – me and cat Griffin in front of the TV at dinnertime – doing household chores alone, and dealing with household problems alone. But, we’re both pretty functional people. We did our tasks as needed, and we did them ‘our’ way, just like Frankie. By that, I mean we did them our way as individuals. Now we must return to doing them ‘our’ way as a collective.

So, we’re each rather like soldiers coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan (albeit without the horrors they faced) in that we know there will be a period of adjustment demanded. There will be a change. A good change from something that was less than good.

But, it’s stressful, nevertheless.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

'Dirt Day' it was called

Yesterday, in case you hadn’t noticed, was so-called ‘Earth Day’. Actually, nothing new about Earth Day – which of course leads us to realize that, despite the armies of the ever-so-precious-and-young-and-concerned that are scolding us constantly these days, environmental concern wasn’t invented when Al Gore had his epiphany – it has been around since 1970.

At my newspaper back in the 1980s we always referred to it as ‘Dirt Day’, both to show how cynical and above faddism we were, and also in reference to the hippies in the local boonies who, even back then, were making a kind of religion of it. Ha – they’d come into town in their clapped-out, oil-burning VW vans and proceed to tell us how we were all doomed and the big threat from all the worldwide pollution ‘Korporate Amerika’ was creating (as opposed to fume-spewing vans) was going to lead us into a glacial winter. Yep, global cooling was the big threat then.

Anyway, I remember going to cover meetings organized by local eco-groups and listening to what they had to say. The predominant attendees at these meetings were those aforementioned, gum-booted hippies from Merville, Black Creek and the offshore islands, and some wonderful venerable ladies of a certain level of scholasticism, sensitivity, and very left-of-centre politics.

In my opinion, that was why proto-enviro-consciousness never really captured the mainstream. It was too politicized. If you support the environment you must be a pot-addled admirer of Che Guevara, so how on earth were Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia, with their three cars and water-ski boat with the biggest honkin’ outboard to be found, to embrace the cause. “Buncha hippie shit, nuthin’ to do with me.” Too bad, because we’ve latterly found out that it has a lot to do with us.

In my own defence, I’ll say that I think I’ve always been environmentally conscious, even before it was fashionable:

- I gave up driving cars with big V-8 engines in the late ‘70s. Fun as they were, they were too costly to fuel, and that was back in the days when gasoline was about 50-cents a gallon.
- I have never littered.
- I have never used chemical herbicides or pesticides.Well, not a lot, and now none at all.
- I began separating my garbage into trash and recyclables a long time ago.
- I detest the despoliation of the wilderness for the sake of fancy-ass golf courses – I mean, how many of those damn things do we need? – ski resorts, and great big parking lots at those resorts and golf courses.
- I walk when it is a reasonable distance.
- I don’t fish or hunt, but accept the fact that such animals as deer actually do need culling on occasion; I just don’t want to be a part of the cull.
- I grant bears and cougars the right to wander into ever expanding suburbia, and am disdainful of those who would poop their pants at the presence of such animals in ‘their’ neighborhood. Sorry, folks, we’re in the animals’ neighborhood, not the other way around.
- And so on.

I heard yesterday that a lot of ‘serious’ environmentalist (those who take no prisoners in their scolding of us) have become disdainful of Dirt Day because it has been co-opted by the spurious and has become a groovy, trendy thing with little substance.

I suspect they’re right. Once Vanity Fair started running its pukey ‘green’ issues – ‘What Madonna is doing for the environment’ – then I knew something had gotten lost in the process of raising consciousness. The environment as marketing ploy! What an idea!

That ties in with doing carbon trade-offs (Al’s big on those), and whatever other easy-peasy compromises we can make. Isn’t that sort of like making bargains with God or shaking hands with the devil? Just asking.

Anyway, Earth Day 2008 has come and gone and Hummer owners can relax for another year.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Top 40, news, weather and sports

Beautiful downtown Grenoble

I got this from Liz at Los Angelista’s Guide, and I liked it. And since she, beautiful generous soul that she is, offered it up, I took it. So, as follows are 40 things about me. Seem to have been doing a lot of this sort of thing lately. Either I’ve gotten lazy, or I’m feeling blocked. Whatever. This one is fun. I recommend it.

What I was doing 10 years ago?

-Moving in with Wendy to her appealing little townhouse

-Sharing our accommodation for a weekend with two high-spirited girls from Up With People.-

-Slogging away at a small-town newspaper.

Five things on my to-do list today?

· Wait for Wendy to get here from Victoria

· Curse the rotten cold wintery weather we’ve been having this spring.

· Get back to a painting I’ve been avoiding.

· Get a good strong coffee from Starbucks and chat with the charming baristas.

· Do some reading.

Places I have traveled

· Hawaii

· The Cook Islands

- Across Canada

- Mexico

- The south of France and much of Europe

- The United Kingdom and Ireland

- San Diego

- Palm Springs

- Many others.

Five snacks or treats I enjoy:

· Hotdogs

· ice cream

· Reuben sandwiches

· watermelon

· French fries

Things I would do if I were a billionaire?

· Buy a lovely home on Kauai next to Tunnels Beach on the north shore

- Go on a round-the-world cruise

- Buy another place in Annecy, France

- Hire a chauffeur to drive the Bentley

- Create a fully-subsidized treatment centre for addicts based on Eric Clapton’s model of the same thing

· Write a lot, not caring if anything were to sell

Five of my bad habits


-Feeling less than adequate

-Too flirtatious at times

.-Getting easily wounded

-Smoking. I smoke very little, but I’d rather not smoke at all

Five places I have lived

-Comox Valley

-Grenoble, France

- Victoria


- Great Yarmouth, England

Five jobs I’ve had

-Secondary teacher

· Addictions counselor

· Reporter

· Editor

· Columnist

Actually, I came in at 41 things in this. Please forgive me for violating the rules. Give this a try; it’s a fun self-appraisal.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

It may not be much, but this much I do know

For most of us, life has been a pastiche of good and bad decisions. Some are probably still feeling the residuals of their bad decisions and faulty judgment calls. But, there is Balm in Gilead, and that balm is to be found in our good decisions. I’ve had a few of those. So have we all. Mine are as follows.

The best things I ever learned:

1. To read. I cannot begin to assess the value mastery of this skill has given me at so many levels. I once learned that one of my journalistic heroes, the ‘Sage of Baltimore,’ HL Mencken suffered a stroke in his later years and for the last decade of his life he was unable to read and comprehend a word on the printed page. I’d rather have died.

2. Never to take up heroin or cocaine.

3. Don’t really like acronyms, but have come to fully appreciate the virtues of KISS as a mode of living life.

4. Like Jimmy Carter I have lusted in my heart (oh, too many times to be counted), but I have in later years come to realize that emotional infidelity is probably just as dishonest as actually doing the dirty.

5. Realized we are the products of personal history. Personality quirks can often be explained. I have an inordinate fear of somebody I love dying in a traffic mishap. My beloved grandmother was hit and killed by a car. I now realize that has impacted me throughout my life. That realization was a good thing for me to arrive at.

6. Learned (the rudiments at least) of a different language. It not only broadens one’s horizons, but it facilitates ease in dealing with services in a country where that language is spoken. The French might have regarded with curled lip my attempts at their language (they’re like that), but it made me feel good to have ‘tried’ at least.

7. Realized that whatever personality or even sexual quirks I might have are not really abnormal. Most people have ‘stuff’ that they wouldn’t necessarily want revealed if they were, say, running for public office.

8. The laughter of children keeps a fellow going at a time when life might be bogging him down.

9. That my father had many virtues that I didn’t really come to appreciate, alas, until after he was gone. If yours still lives, make your peace with him. Unless he’s a complete prick, of course.

10. If you’re hosting a cocktail party or ‘at home’ and are planning to serve devilled eggs as one of your hors d’oeuvres, make twice as many as you think you will need. That still won’t be enough.

11. How to change a tire.

12. How to change a diaper.

13. How to sew on a button.

14. How to iron a shirt.

15. How to prepare the best damn potato salad on the continent (hint: It has something to do with horseradish.)

16. Being prepared to concede an argument (even if I know I’m right) for the sake of maintaining domestic harmony. Nothing is that damned important.

17. If you suspect that you might drink too much; you do.

18. To never hold the gaze of an attractive stranger for more than three seconds unless you are planning to do something about it.

19. To never eat ‘fresh’ seafood in Mexico.

20. What the ‘stinkeye’ means in Hawaii and how to avoid it.

I could keep going with this for much longer, but I have also learned that everything has an optimum limit. It’s the lesson learned from the film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Too many comic geniuses carrying on for far too long do not make for an uproarious movie.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

My view of the world on this fine day

Periodically random thoughts and impressions go through my mind. None of them are extensive enough to turn them into full-fledged blog items, so I thought I would instead do a sort of potpourri. This is not going to be a regular feature, or necessarily even a spasmodic thing. In fact, I may never do it again. But, today I decided to do it. It’s just an April 17, 2008 kind of thing. Here goes:

I like the word lissome – or, lissom, if you prefer. Certain females are described as being ‘lissome’. Mainly it means agile and bendable, like a dancer. Audrey Hepburn was lissome and Gwynneth Paltrow is, as well. Pam Anderson is decidedly not.

My favorite possession, after my car, is our Jacuzzi tub. It is sensual and relaxing and wonderful either solo or a deux. There’s something highly civilized about it.

Really, I wasn’t seriously ticked off by Kim Cattrall’s failure to acknowledge me in that article. Maybe she’s ticked off by something I said when I was interviewed for a segment of Biography on her. In truth, I am happy for her career, even if her oeuvre doesn’t enchant me so very much.

People seem to think the word nubile, as applied to a young woman is some reference to ‘stacked like gangbusters’, or something equally lewd and suggestive. All it really means is of marriageable age, meaning all of a young lady’s ‘big girl’ bits are in place for childbearing.

Whenever I see octogenarian Mickey Rooney on a chat show or somesuch, I am shocked. In my mind Rooney still looks like he did in the old Andy Hardy movies of the 1930s. They were made long before my time, but I used to like watching them when I was a
kid. I also could never understand how Andy, of munchkin size, was able to score with somebody as delicious as the impossibly young in those days, Lana Turner.

Speaking of very old Rooneys, I must admit I periodically provide space in my schedule for Andy Rooney. Sometimes he’s tiresome and pedantic and overstates the obvious, but once in a while he hits a hard home-truth in his lovably curmudgeonistic way. But, how many people realize that Rooney was a notable war correspondent in Europe during World War Two. As far as I’m concerned he has a place on 60 Minutes until he’s 200 – about five years from now.

Also, considering age and accomplishments, a favorite comment of mine was one made by musical satirist Tom Lehrer a number of years ago in which he mused: “When Mozart was my age, he’d already been dead for three years.”

If I were ever to run off with somebody – which I am absolutely not planning to do -- I think it would be with the lovely lady who does my hair. Cindy has seen to my tonsorial needs for over a decade-and-a-half. She knows my scalp intimately. So, I thought, she is pretty, she is funny, I love her company, and if we blew this town together, I would also look good all the time. I was dismayed at one point when I learned that a friend of mine also goes to Cindy. I felt a twinge of jealousy because I’d thought she was mine and mine alone, or at least that all her other customers were female.

I don’t like getting older. But, I like the alternative even less.

Sometimes in the morning when I am feeling devoid of ambition I wander around singing the old Todd Rungren song, 'I don't wanna work, I just want to bang on the drum all day'. I don't even have a drum. But, it's not a bad metaphor.

I turned down a job today. I don't really like doing that. It was an inquiry from a young Turk fledgling publisher who wondered if I would be interested in both writing for and editing his new trade publication. The thing is just starting, and the tasks he would want me to see to are extensive, and the pay quite frankly sucks. I found liberation in the idea that I don’t really need that job, nor do I want to make the time commitment. The irony is that 20 years ago I would have killed for such a thing and would have seen it as a leg up. This doesn’t mean that I’ve reached the stage in my life where I am coasting, it’s just that I think I have the freedom to prioritize what I want and need. What he needs is a young guy or girl who is starting to climb up that greasy publishing pole, not me.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fair's fair, Kim, so you're off my list

Now, I am a kindly man. Some might even be driven to say generous, and indeed always tolerant and forgiving.

But, with the foregoing positive attributes understood by my readers, I am driven to say that Kim Cattrall is now ‘off’ my Christmas card list.

My pique stems from a rather fawning article in a daily newspaper in which it is noted “Cattrall … left Courtenay at age 16 to attend New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts.” That much is utterly true, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

What was not mentioned, however, was the role of her English teacher in her actually getting to the AADA in the first place. I mean, she had the talent, and she had been awarded a bursary to attend, and deservedly so; no doubt , the kid was good.

However, she wanted to bunk off school a couple of months early without having completed her English requirements to graduate. Consequently, I received no small number of plaintive and cajoling telephone calls from Miss Kimberly and her father, pleading with me to give her some crash studies and to spring her for her forthcoming brilliant career.

I acceded, mainly because I genuinely liked Kim, and I also thought she deserved the shot. What would it really hurt? I didn't want it to be said I had stood in the way of her career. So, Kim, how come no mention of that? Hmm? How come no mention of your first film, either, the execrable Rosebud, which I believe was seen by at least 17 people. I’m sorry. That’s mean. We all have to start somewhere.

I have another quibble with the article and that is that the writer makes regular reference to Kim’s hometown of Courtenay. In fact, her hometown is Comox, which is another community in the general collective conurbation of the Comox Valley. Hey, Comox people got feelings too, Kim. And, if somebody wants proof she was from Comox I could – for a small fee, of course – take you right to her family home and even park in the driveway. A family home that is in rural Comox, not Courtenay. Hey, I even drove her to that family home when she was back for a visit in the early 1990s after she was a big star.

Oh, and something else. A statement made by Miss Cattrall, or at least attributed to her was not, I hope, as hubristic and patronizing as it reads,

She states, in reference to her hometown fan folk: “People, especially in my hometown and surrounding areas, feel they have a personal stake in what I do. It’s lovely.”

Shucks, Kim, you noticed. Yep, none of us have anything much else to do, so we avidly follow the career of Kim and just darn well feel we’re a part of the dazzle and glitz, since our lives are so hollow and shallow. She adds that she was home over Christmas. “We went to the Best Western for New Year’s.” Dagnabit, girl. Just like regular folks do in this jerkwater burg.

Don’t get me wrong in this. I genuinely like Kim. I liked her when she was a weedy, cheerful kid, and I’ve liked her the few times I’ve met her again in her adult career.

I must confess I was never a fan of Sex and the City. I thought it was boring and slutty and vaguely offensive. More important, it was rarely funny. But, I never understood why Will and Grace existed either, so that’s just me. I do believe, however, that talented Chris Noth has always been much better served by the L&O franchise.

Anyway, I wish my old student lots of continuing success, but don’t necessarily be expecting that card from me come next Yuletide, Kim. I have feelings too, you know. And, I bet not many people know, as I do, that your dog when you were first in LA was named Rupert, after Rupert Bear.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Be frugal with smiles and people will love you

“Parents – tell your daughters their sexual favors should be like smiles – they are most enticing and best appreciated when given sparingly.”

I don’t know why I put that in quotes, since I made it up. But, I think it is quotable and should gain widespread cachet.

I’ve been told I have a “great” smile. I’ve been told I have a good smile because I don’t go around using it loosely. Much of the time I’m kind of deadpan, I guess. It doesn’t mean I’m ill-tempered or unfriendly, it’s just that I think a smile indicates pleasure of some sort, or friendliness, or amusement and should be kept for those occasions. I’m wary of people who go around with stupid grins on their faces when there is no cause. I don’t mean a body should look grim, just non-committal.

I had an uncle who was a very quiet and taciturn man. He rarely gave of a smile. There was nothing nasty about him; in fact I genuinely liked and appreciated him. He just didn’t smile much. But, when he did. Well, it just lit up the room. The transformation was amazing. You knew that whatever amused or entertained him must have been good.

I have a neighbor like that. She’s relatively pretty but not someone “to write home about,” as my mother would have said. She is also quiet, a bit shy, like my uncle, and almost dour of expression. Except when she smiles. Sometimes it's a bashful, look at the ground smile, and at other times it's a dazzling brilliantly white tooth smile – she could be an advertisement for dental strips – that utterly enchants me. When she smiles I would definitely write home about her, or run away with her, other than we’re both really happily married. But, if I am talking to her and she smiles it’s just a very special treat, and it makes me feel good if I evoke smiles from her.

The late Princess Diana had just such a smile, and that was just one of the reasons why so many people worldwide and female as well as male were in love with her. She didn't go around with a goofy grin all the time, but when she smiled, especially that mysterious smile in which she seemed to be indulging in an inner joke, just worked miracles.

Smiles, of course, bring us to laughter. I don’t laugh a lot. And laughter, like smiles, I think should be granted sparingly so that the outpouring of mirth has genuine meaning. My best friends in this life have been people who could make me laugh so uproariously that I would ‘lose it.’ You know, the souls who can make the tears run down your cheeks in spite of yourself. The people who get you on a roll sufficient to wonder if you should start wearing Depends.

Very few guys and girls like that, but I have been blessed with some. My brother and I can do that; so could my former sister-in-law. And, as I say, my very best friends; one of whom lives across the country in Toronto, the other of whom lives in Australia, and the third who happens to be deceased, but whose comments in times past can still bring a smile. That’s his legacy, I guess.

But, I have another one like that, and that was what led me to truly realize I loved her madly, and that is Wendy. Early on I realized that I had finally found a spouse I could really laugh with.

It’s a blessing.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

I love my little T-roof motor car

For the first time this year I drove with my top off – on the car, that is, not me. My lovely little car has a T-roof (I actually prefer the more cosmopolitan sounding Landau to T-roof) so it therefore qualifies as a convertible. I’ve had this delightful and surprisingly spunky little auto since 1992 and I’m yet to grow weary of it. That’s primarily because, the first time I remove the top I remember exactly why I bought it.

I have an almost fetishistic love of convertibles, either ragtops or T-roofs, it matters not to me. I like to be able to look up and into the blue sky; I like the feeling of the fresh air and breeze in my hair (Wendy hates the breeze in her hair, by the way: “Argh – convertible hair!); I like the fact that when the car is shiny and clean and the top is off, people still look as I cruise by. Really I would like babes to look as I cruise by, but it’s usually 17-year-old youths who suffer from T-roof envy.

I still remember the first time I took it out with the roof off on a bright early springtime day. I cruised to some winding country roads inserted Hendrix to the sound system and turned up Purple Haze to full volume. I was in sheer bliss. It was almost sexual so thrilled was I to actually have my very own convertible.

Ever since I was a kid I’d loved that style of vehicle. Riding in, or driving an open car is so very different from being in a plain old sedan. My old man was a plain old Chevy sedan kind of guy, so I would look with envy at the very rich people across the street who had not just one, but two ragtops, a Ford and a Cadillac.

My enchantment never wavered. A friend in high school had a bright pink ’57 Ford ragtop. That guy got laid more than Sinatra (or so he reported), and I put it down to the car. I never put it down to the fact he was very handsome, charming in an adolescent sort of way and superbly athletic to the degree he went on to play professional football to reasonable repute. No, it was the car that got him the action, in my esteem. I wonder whatever happened to his car? I’d love to have it.

Once when my ex and I took a trip to Maui with her daughter, we went to pick up the car we’d booked – some el cheapo bit of Suzuki crap that was in the lowest category of Alamo’s rentals. The Alamo guy said, quite apologetically, that they had run out of cars in the ‘vehicular scum’ category, so would I object to taking a Mustang convertible for the same price as the cruddy little car? “Please twist my arm just a little bit,” I advised. Cruising Maui in a Mustang convertible is not at all a bad thing.

Now, we are at the point where both our cars are getting elderly. We have to consider replacement at some point – although I personally want to be buried with my car – and we would ideally like to downsize to one vehicle.

I, of course, want another convertible. Wendy, the more practical of this nuptial duet, suggests convertibles are not terribly practical, especially in this climate. She’s right, of course. She will concede a sunroof, but doesn’t want to go any farther than that.

I don’t know what to say about that, so I think I’ll go out for a ride in the T-bar sunshine.


Friday, April 11, 2008

And, Anne Murray remains yummy, too

The Snowbirds are back!

For those who might not know, the Snowbirds are not Anne Murray’s first hit song (the babe still looks fabulous and desirable at age 94, or whatever she is), nor are they lucky Canadians who winter in Arizona, Florida or Hawaii. Well, all of those are snowbirds, but the Snowbirds I refer to are Canada’s crack aeronautic team that always spends the month of April in the Comox Valley, practicing their stunts for the forthcoming season of, well, stunts above awe-stricken crowds across the land and overseas.

For Americans, the Snowbirds are the equivalent of the Blue Angels.

There are those cranky souls who do not like the Snowbirds. They find them noisy (they are) and they don’t relish the fact they fly real low over residential areas, and they are especially miffed by the fact that they suck up massive amounts of fuel in a time when the rest of us are really being ‘hosed’ at the pumps. Some folk tell us we are being hosed due to petroleum shortages. In truth we getting a major shaft in our bank accounts due to hideously greedy petroleum companies (check their profits for the last year) who are in cahoots with assorted governments. That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. But, that’s another matter. Back to the Snowbirds.

Way back in 1999 I had a chance to go up with the Snowbirds. It was something I’d longed to do for years. An advantage of being a newspaper person in a military base town is that certain perks come with the calling, and one of them is spending a fair amount of time going up in airplanes and writing nice stories about them. I’ve been up in many, many airplanes, all the way from reconnaissance craft to jet fighters. It has always been a rush. But, I had never cracked the Snowbirds nut.

One day I got a call from the media liaison guy who told me my time had come. They had a flight for me on April 23rd. Hot damn! Then I mentally backtracked. I couldn’t do it. Damn! April 23rd was to be my wedding day to Wendy. It was all kinda booked. No point in asking if we could defer the nuptials for a day or two. Would not go over well.

So, as it was, I did get to go up in a plane that day. After our reception we flew off to Honolulu. And God, with an omnipresent sense of humor (everything about God is ‘omni’, by the way) deemed that we should also spend our wedding night at Honolulu International.

Due to a mistake in booking – our actual honeymoon was to be on Kauai – there was no late night flight to our favorite island. The first one was at 7 a.m. We got to Honolulu about 1 a.m. too late to book a hotel for a matter of about 4 hours sleep. So, our wedding night was spent lying on hard benches outside the terminal. Well, at least it was nice and warm there, if not conducive to normal wedding night revels. A hard bench plus no Snowbirds.

Some might think those were negative things. Not so. Now, nine years later, I still believe it was still the best honeymoon start a couple could have. Certainly the best one I’d had.

So, as the Snowbirds fly over, it comes to mind my anniversary is on the horizon. Guess it would serve me well to remember that.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hideous tragedy in a small town

The little town of Merritt in BC’s interior is, in my recall, basically a cow-town and a place on the way to somewhere else. The setting is pretty enough, with rolling hills and rangeland right at it’s doorstep. It's probably grown since I spent time there.

It’s in the dry zone so there’s lots of sagebrush, cactus, tumbleweed and big trucks hauling unfortunate cattle on their way to the abattoirs from the big ranches up the Nicola Valley. Big-big ranches, like Douglas Lake, once a rival to the Gang Ranch in commodiousness, and formerly owned by ‘Chunky’ Woodward, bossman of late-lamented Woodward Stores in BC and Alberta.

I spent a fair amount of time in Merritt as a kid. My uncle and his clinical partner, best buddies and fresh from med-school had set up practice there as the town doctors. This uncle was my mother’s kid-brother and she liked the company of him and his pretty young wife. So, we would go to Merritt on a fairly regular basis for a couple of years.

For a kid from Vancouver, Merritt was sheer heaven. It looked like a cowboy movie set, and there was good fishing in the Nicola River. When things got boring we could go up to the city dump just outside of town and take pot-shots at rats with 22s. I don’t recall ever actually hitting one. They would sit on the piles of garbage and sneer at the non-crackshot city slicker kids.

But, this isn’t a travelogue in intent. Last weekend something quite awful happened in sleepy little Merritt. It was one of those traumatic events that small towns never really get over. One thoroughly fucked-up guy took it upon himself to murder his three children, ages 10, 8 and 5. What can you say? It was one of those hideous ‘Susan Smith’ (the one who drowned her kids in South Carolina a number of years ago) kinds of things. I have no idea what would go through the mind of somebody who would perpetrate such a hideous act.

The first thing that invariably comes to my mind is: “Why didn’t you just kill yourself and leave the kids alone, you hideous sonofabitch? Do the world a favor and rid the planet of ‘you’.” I have no children. I wish I did. I love kids. And in that I cannot even begin to go there in terms of thinking of the terror of those tykes immediately before. Truly, my visceral response is that for some people hanging is much too benevolent.

But, there is more to it than that. And this is the part that distresses me almost as much as the slaying of the children, and that is the system. In the first place, the suspect, one Allan Dwayne Schoenborn is still on the lam. My fondest hope is that he does the world a favor and ‘offs’ himself. Suicide-by-cop is another agreeable option.
Distressing, however, is the fact that the previous week the bastard was arrested three times, for drunkenness, ranting and raving, causing a ruckus at the kids’ school, uttering threats and so forth. The cops attested he should be held, as he was dangerous. The local courts disagreed and released him on ‘his own recognizance’ Huh? How is a person like this, obviously mentally ill and severely alcoholic able to monitor his own behavior? No, said some judge of some sort, he hasn’t done anything to warrant holding him. I hope that same judge is having some mighty sleepless nights these days. Big gaffe. They guy had a history. He’d had multiple arrests in Vancouver, whence he lived prior to going to Merritt a few months earlier. He had a ‘history’. Somehow, that ‘history’, in an age of instantaneous electronic connectedness did not make it into the hands of this judicial person who made the decision to open the cell door.

Speaking of sleepless nights, the mother, who had had a restraining order against Schoeborn, got the thing lifted. Another huh? Not only that, she stepped out for a few moments on an “errand” on the day in question, and left the kids in the care of their father. Bad judgment calls both. I don’t mean to malign the mother who will be going through the agonies of hell, but I cannot help but wondering what goes through people’s minds at times.

My only final comment is that the judicial system is not just designed to protect the ‘rights’ of bad people, but also to protect the rights of the innocent. The system failed woefully in this case.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The dawn came up like thunder out of China 'cross the bay

I’m finding myself bemused by all the breast beating, fulminating and posturing over the China versus Tibet and the Olympics that has been going on lately. I mean, really, have people just discovered that China is a ruthless, remorseless and utterly unapologetic dictatorship? Are their memories too short or are they too young to remember Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the defiant kid standing in front of that tank?

Nobody really knows how many people were slaughtered at TS. The Chinese never really said, and we never really asked. Therefore, I must ask, re the China-Tibet question, what’s new?

China subscribes to the belief that legal right is on China’s side regarding Tibet. It has ‘owned’ the region since the 1500s. Indeed, legal right is on China’s side. Cultural and hence moral right is an entirely different matter. In that regard, maybe we could state ‘our’ views to our own native Indians. An unsavoury truism of history is that ‘might maketh right’, whether or not we like it. The bullies prevail.

Furthermore, the Chinese hold to a ‘realpolitik’ that would have even impressed Bismarck. The Chinese do what it takes to prevail; they always have and always will. They are also unremitting in their quest for world domination and will show no cowardice in that regard. Knowing at this moment they do not have the military power to decimate us – yet – they make nice. They open their land and invite us to come and call and take tea. They trade with us, and send missions and delegations all over the world and we fawn in their direction. It’s how diplomacy works.

At the same time, I don’t choose to forget a comment made by Mao many years ago, in which he stated (in paraphrase), If the west were to launch a nuclear attack on China and if that nuclear war took out 90 per cent of China’s population, we would be left with a population we could handle, so it would be to our advantage. In other words, China is quite prepared to forsake nine people out of ten, so do we think they are really worried about Tibet and what ‘our’ opinions are on the matter?

But, there is another question at issue here; the matter of the Olympics themselves. China, of course, wants the Olympics, and they want them to be a success. They believe the Olympics will add to their street creds on the international stage. And, they will.

At the same time, we could be forgiven for asking why the IOC awarded the Olympics to China in the first place. We will get no answers. This dictatorial body almost equals the attitude of China in its refusal to answer hard questions. After all, the same outfit gave the Olympics to Nazi Germany in 1936, and to the Soviet Union at the height of Soviet aggressiveness. Again, it looks good for a ‘bad’ (in terms of human rights) nation to score all the fun of the games.

This will go nowhere further because there are no answers. The Olympics will go on as usual in China; China will make some minor concessions regarding Tibet (the Chinese are patient, the matter doesn’t have to be resolved right now) just to keep the peace, and our good leaders will flock to the games and there will be lots of hugs and kisses in the name of international brotherhood and all of that bullshit.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Does George actually think he's good?

There are two types of people in the world – aside from those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t – and that is those who feel that they are frauds, and those who don’t.

Oddly enough, those who don’t feel like frauds often are individuals of scanty skill at what they are doing, and those who do feel like they are pulling the wool over the collective eyes of the planet are sometimes genuinely good at their task.

For me, I would like to blame my parents and the public school system for giving me such insecurity that I am regularly left with such feelings as:
1) I hope nobody finds out that I don’t know what I’m doing.
2) They have given me this task; I don’t think I’m good enough to complete it. By the way, unless there is some unforeseen impediment, I have always completed tasks set forth for me.
3) You want me to do what? I’m not skilled enough to do that.
4) They bought my article. Don’t they realize how bad it is?
5) They gave me this award. They must have very low standards.

The point really is, I ‘do’ think I’m good at what I do. And, once I’ve done something with which I am pleased and I read it through, I’ll surmise that I do have fairly significant skills.

Having done what I do for three decades and having always been able to make a living at it indicates I am a decent writer. Sometimes I even think I am a good writer.

But, if somebody doesn’t buy what I have sent them, then instantly any professional self-confidence goes down the toilet. Then I am a hack and, worse than that, a fraud. They’ve finally caught up with me, the bastards, and my career is now over. Word will spread and on the lips of publishers everywhere will be the words: “Buy nothing from that bozo. He actually had the audacity to think our standards were so low we’d buy his crap.

Do other people feel that way? Do you feel that way about what you do? Does the Queen wake up of a morning and think: “Good job I was born to this gig because I think I’m dreadful at it.”

But, more importantly, why don’t the genuine hacks and frauds realize how lacklustre they are? Why doesn’t Adam Sandler realize how excruciatingly unfunny he is and therefore should get a job as a postman? Why has it not dawned on Celine Dion that she should be slinging hash at a low-end beanery rather than passing screeching and wailing off as singing? Why is Howie Mandel being foisted on anybody? I thought he’d died after St. Elsewhere ended, yet there he is on some repulsive, greed-inspired quiz show. It’s not right.

But, I think it is because Adam, Howie and Celine know who their constituents are. They know they will not win over people with genuine taste and wit, so they appeal to those who don’t have those traits and they make millions. Smart of them really. I guess if I’d mastered that concept early on I’d be a millionaire, too.

But, at the end of it, I think those aforementioned people, and many like them, genuinely believe they’re good at what they do. Much as George W. genuinely believes he is a good president, and Dick Cheney believes he is an actual human being.

Meanwhile, I hope you like this blog. I’m not sure how good it is.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

What are you doing after you ditch Sarkozy, babe?

First Lady of France strikes a regal pose
I was just reading in a British newspaper how the good citizens of the UK have gone ga-ga over pretty French First Lady, and Sarkozy’s former No. 1 concubine, Carla Bruni, who is now his missus. Even the old Duke of Edinburgh was so charmed by the jeune-ish fille that he ended up in hospital after her visit.

Well, there is no doubt about it. She is kind of cute in a supermodel sort of way. Indeed, throughout her grownup years she has charmed (and bedded, it is reported) a lot of mighty powerful dudes aside from shrimpish Sarkozy, such as Mick Jagger, for example. Although, in the case of Mick I think a mark of distinction for a woman might be that she has ‘not’ done the ‘horizontal tango’ with old Flabby Lips.

But, what her presence on the world stage, as it were, suggests is that we are all suckers for a Princess. Diana left the scene in a tragic way more than a decade ago and since her time there has been a vacuum in babes sufficiently charismatic to charm the world. Indeed, comparisons have already been made between Carla and Diana in the belief that there is such a vacancy of high-end pulchritude.

Before Diana Spencer there was Jackie Kennedy. Personally I always thought she was kind of creepy looking, and about as deep as a sheen of rainwater on a pavement, but she seemed to have some sort of charisma that even charmed Nikita Kruschev. Of course, looking at Mrs. Kruschev you could understand why anybody female not wearing a babushka and army boots would have caught old Nik’s fancy.

Prior to her there was Princess Margaret, the Queen’s sister. Margaret, aside from being a rather wild child, also was quite sporting in showing off her D-cup accoutrements to fine advantage in very low-cut frocks, and thus charming all sorts of men who suddenly found themselves professing staunch monarchist sentiments.

But, what is the appeal of any princess? Why is she needed? Purely and simply, I think she just brings a bit of glamour into an international theatre that is fraught with nastiness and ill-spirit. Princesses featured prominently in fairytales and mere mortals could enter flights-of-fancy in just wondering what it would be like to – well – you know.

I must confess, I fell madly and besottedly in love with the very pretty and very young Diana back in 1981 when I was living in England. To me she was all that a princess should be – one part dignity – the other part an object of healthy lust.

I suspect Carla, considering her background, offers much the same.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

I think I need some of what is pictured below

I am at an impasse. This is just one of those moments in time that hits everybody who creatively attempts to make sense out of the known (and unknown) universe and then tries to explain such findings via the printed word, the paintbrush, a hammer and chisel, a blob of clay, or any other medium that may be utilized in this solitary calling.

Right now I am in a creative wasteland. I have a number of things I’d like to blog about, but they’re just not pulling together like I want them to. I have been busier than I’d like to be in the past number of weeks, and there have been other things happening as well. Good things, I might add and I’ll elaborate more on them later, but they say change is as good as a rest. Lies, all lies. Change is change, and positive change is as stressful as negative change. Just ask Dr. Hans Selye if you don’t believe me. Of course, you'd have to conduct a seance in order to ask him, since he is no longer around.

So, today I was going to write on a number of items. I had a couple of nanny state rants I wanted to indulge; nanny state stuff that sometimes makes me want to get some camouflage fatigues and head into the bush as a survivalist.

I was going to write about why I have never found overtly ‘out there’ (in every sense of the word) females, like Pam Anderson, Loni Anderson, Suzanne Sommers and others of that exhibitionistic female ilk to be sexy, whereas I find such women as Kathryn Erbe of L&O CI, the girl who plays Pam on The Office, and Sarah Michelle (Buffy) Gellar to be quite provocative.

I was going to tell you about my first ride in a hybrid car and how impressed I was by the smoothness and silence of it all.

And I was going to tell you how recent actions (and inactions) by the government of this province have left me with nobody to vote for in the next election, because I hate the other guys, too.

But, until such time as the words are flowing like water again in a few days, I shall refrain and just regroup a bit. You know how it goes. You’ve all been there.