Sunday, August 31, 2008

If you can't sleep, then don't sleep

Winston Churchill would wander in the wee smalls from room-to-room in his large house and recline in a bed in each one for a while. He’d continue to do this until ultimately, he hoped, Morpheus would come a-callin’ and he’d get some precious sleep.

Equally insomniac Thomas Edison didn’t even bother having a bed, and merely reclined in an easy chair in his lab in hopes of grabbing at least a little shut eye.

I might add, despite the bleatings of ‘sleep experts’ that both gentlemen lived to a very venerable age and were pretty darn functional throughout.

Margaret Thatcher said she only need three hours per during her tenure as British PM, although her daughter has revealed that Mum, at age 83 has sadly gone rather dotty. I don’t think extra shut-eye would have prevented that, however.

This convoluted intro is just my means of saying that I had a nasty bout of insomnia last night. Maybe logged three hours max. This isn’t a normal occurrence for me, since I generally sleep OK, albeit I awaken ridiculously early.

But, last night was one of those nights. We turned in about 9 just to watch TV in the bedroom. After our bout of Criminal Intent, we turned to our books and read for about a half hour. By 10:30 my eyes were glazing over and sleep was at hand, I knew it was. I ‘knew’ wrong. At 11:30 I was still awake. It was then I decided that, rather than disturb my partner by any restlessness, I would depart for the other bedroom. By 12:30 I was still awake. And so it went.

At about 1 I went and got a glass of milk. No effect. At 2 I exited for the living room couch. I lay there and I lay there. There was so much light from the streetlamp that I had to go and get my sleep mask. And then there was traffic. I live in a quiet residential neighborhood. WTF were people doing cruising about at 2 a.m.?

How was I to get to sleep? I no longer drink, so I couldn’t use booze. Heroin is noted for its unavailability in our house. I took a Tylenol. I don’t think that made one iota of difference. It was all infuriating. I wasn’t feeling particularly stressed. My mind wasn’t racing. It’s just that the elusive Zs had no desire to manifest themselves for me.

Then I went to sleep for a while. I knew I had because I had a weird dream about my second wife and my stepdaughter. Neither of them was particularly nice to me in the dream. So, I awakened about 3 and, since I’d been asleep I assumed it was safe to go back to bedroom #2. It was, and I went back to sleep until about 6:30 and then was fully awake.

Did I get sufficient sleep? Hardly. Will it kill me? Unlikely. But, it has left me feeling a bit trashed for the day. Now, of course, I am already trepidatious about tonight, and have brought to mind an old adage about sleeplessness. It seems to answer the question about insomnia:

“If you can’t sleep, then don’t sleep.” Isn’t that easy?

Meanwhile, if you suffer from insomnia, what do you do to get to sleep?


Friday, August 29, 2008

It's like Woodstock Nation, man

Easy Rider was on TCM, or AMC or one of those channels the other night. All I could think was, what great music, what a crappy film. The dialogue is truly excruciating and stunningly boring, as are the characters, except for Nicholson. Glad that Hopper went on to bigger and much better things.

As it is, ER is just horribly dated and silly, and almost embarrassing in its naiveté. Good thing youth is wasted on the young because the world would be even worse than it is if we'd retained our callow impulses. Some, of course, do, but that is a whole other topic.

What brings all this to mind is a story in one of our local papers. A woman, whom I know fairly well – a respected teacher and youth counsellor – was the focus of the tale. A tale that concerns her trip to Woodstock. Not only did she go to Woodstock, Man, she was the poster child for that famous picture – the one shown above. It is testament to her self-effacement, I guess, that in any conversation I’ve had with her, she had never mentioned her ’15-minutes.’ I admire that. But, she finally decided to come clean, and why not?

The episode in her life also brings my own ‘cultural failures’ to the fore. I mean, here I was growing up when I did, and reaching adulthood when I did, but I never firsthand did the things that I've always suspected others did. I never saw the Beatles when they came to Vancouver because I had to work that night. I never saw the Stones, despite the fact I love their music. And, years later, when Long John Baldry (“Don’t lay no boogie-woogie on the king of rock-and-roll”) was on the downward slope of his career, I never got out to the local pub where he performed regularly. I meant to. I promised myself I would. And then the magnificent blues man died at an untimely age. Bummer.

And I never got to Woodstock. After reading my friend about all the muck, appalling food, horrible weather, hideous sanitary conditions and terrifying drug trips, I’m retrospectively happy about that. But, at the time, I really wanted to do it; to hang out with Hendrix (who’d soon be dead), and CSN and Y, and treacly Joan Baez, and John Sebastian stoned out of his skull, and so on. Cool. But, I didn’t make it.

I meant to. I went back to Toronto and stayed with friends with the intended objective being that we would drive down, do the festival and drive back after we’d heard all the great music and hung out and ‘grooved’, taking all the precautions of course to ensure that we didn’t ‘inhale’, just like Bill C. didn’t.

And then the radio reports began coming in. Radio reports about the hideous traffic mess, the bad trips, and the ghastliness of the site. At first we refused to be deterred. We would go to bits of the concert and then maybe stay in some lovely white-painted, upstate NY country inn. That would be nice. We’d sip fine wines at the end of the day and marvel at what we’d seen and heard.

By the next day, the news reports became more ominous. At first they foretold that it would take so long by that point for anybody to attain the site that it would probably be over by the time we pulled in. Furthermore, the weather forecast was horrible. And finally they said, quite forcefully, “Don’t go! We ain’t letting any more cars through.”

So, that at least let us off the hook. It wasn’t our fault we didn’t go. We wouldn’t need to feel guilty down all the decades for missing this pivotal cultural happening. And for the most part I never have. I have been content in my memory of meeting Donovan in Heathrow Airport one time.

Then I read the story in the local rag today.



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My 'just for the sake of argument' rant on arts subsidization

Do I value the guys who pick up my trash and recycling every Tuesdsay morning more than all the artists and writers (real as well as self-described) in my country?

As the late Dick Martin was wont to say, you bet your sweet bippy I do. I also value such things as health care, adequate policing, school crossing guards, and providing our troops in Afghanistan with absolutely everything they need, more than every painting or written screed I’ve ever come across in this land of ours.

I’d rather see a kid in a village in Somalia or in Nunavut in Canada’s far north get a few good meals than to see some painting or other subsidized via my tax bucks.

Does this make me a philistine? I don’t think so for a moment. I love the arts and hold them in great value and esteem, be such arts painting, sculpting, prose, poetry, or theatre little and big. We are surely the sum of all our collected creative forces.

But, I also believe in something else. I don’t believe taxpayers should subsidize the arts past a certain point. Consequently I do not buy into the big foofrah about the current government of Canada purportedly stiffing the arts in the country. The argument is all bloody politics, no more, no less. In point of fact the current government actually gives more to the arts than did the previous Liberals, despite M. Dion’s protestations to the contrary and attempts to make it an election issue – as if Joe Lunchbox could really give a shit. He’s more concerned about Dion’s avowal to slap a carbon tax on everybody across the land.

By the way, there is absolutely no truth to the rumour that Stephane Dion is Celine’s brother -- is there?

Now, for fear of appearing Neanderthal about all of this, let me clarify. My point is that while I revere the arts and firmly believe the world would be a worse place without some of the magnificence that has come our way via the brilliantly creative, I happen to hold to the antiquated theory that the arts should pay for themselves via purchasers, patrons or whatever. That worked well in the times of Shakespeare and Mozart, and I suspect it does now. For example, the corporate world is awash in money both legitimately and ill-gotten. Let them pay for the arts, too..

For one thing, what is deemed ‘art’ is a matter of taste, and I don’t think any artist, musician, writer or whomever should have to go cap-in-hand to some gormless civil servant to seek approval. The approval is up to public taste, and the work should rise or fall on its own merit, or lack thereof. If there is a bureaucrat who happens to fancy madrigals sung in the Ojibway language, that is jolly nice. But, if there is little demand for such an obscure offering, then I am damned if I want to pay for it.
Anybody who has ever applied for a Canada Council Grant knows well the hoops that must be conquered to receive a nod, and those nods only come if the flavor of the moment is adhered to. The joke used to be that if you happened to be a bipolar, aboriginal lesbian, double-amputee writing in a native Canadian language of which there were only two known speakers, you were in. If you wrote a ripping yarn in English you were hooped in the old CCG department.

For another thing, I am just not all that big on creative nationalism in which a work is deemed worthy only because it is Canadian in both theme and in the origins of its creator. Art to me is a universal thing and can possible get more out of a book translated from the Slovenian than I can from something written by a poet living in Moose Jaw, Sask. Or not. The Moose Jaw verse might be wonderful and inspiring, in which case thousands will flock to buy it. Frankly I did that there now is or ever has been a poet who could put a meal on a table by dint of his or her efforts at versification. Most teach, or sell used cars, or wait tables. The sensible ones marry rich. It’s in the nature of the calling. At the same time, most poets don’t give up their passion just because big government doesn’t cough up.

“That’s it, I’m out of the poetry racket. The government either gives me a grant, or I’m pulling the pin.”
“Wow. That oughta bring the bastards to their knees.”

In earlier times, and certainly in many other countries, the artists rose and fell on both the talents of the artist and, if he or she was lucky, he or she managed to acquire patrons to back their efforts. Either that, or they managed to capture the public’s affection.

Some societies were known for fully subsidizing the arts, provided a national flavor and state-deemed acceptability were in place. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany come to mind. Oh, and don’t be citing Solzhenitsyn or Pasternak to me. Both were rebels, of course, and received no state support whatsoever. Yet, funnily enough, their works survived and gained universal appeal. Might be something to do with the fact they were brilliant.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

A tribute of sorts to 'Uggy'

When my maternal grandparents had their first child back in 1910 my very Victorian-in-attitude grandfather was depressed because his wife had given spawn to a girl child.

The child was christened Vivien but my grandfather’s servant; a Sikh (Granddad had money back in those days) suggested that if he wanted to break the curse of siring females he must give Vivien an insulting name. Consequently she ended up with the nickname ‘Uggy’, which is what she was called by family members until the end of her days. Uggy was a derivative of the name ‘Ugly Boy’.

When their second child was born a year later the karmic curse was still intact, so my aunt Helen was stuck with ‘Other’ for ‘Other Boy’ down all her years. Finally, with kid #3 good fortune shone and they had a boy who was, of course, immediately baptized in name after his father and became Robert Jr. His nickname, however, was ‘Boy’ because he was the real goods.

I have no idea why I was thinking of Aunt Vivien other than to conclude that the ill-will of her father kind of haunted her down all her days. Vivian would be 98 now, though she passed in her early 80s. ‘Other’, by the way, is still with us as far as I know. OK, I don’t keep in real close touch.

Vivien (Uggy) was not an easy person or, as her 2nd youngest brother (there were ultimately 7 kids in the family) stated a few years ago: “Let’s face it, Uggy was always an asshole.”

I suppose she was, in her own way. She was: arrogant, disdainful of people and siblings she deemed her intellectual inferiors, an insufferable anglophile to the degree she affected a ‘teddibly’ English accent, a unrepentant chainsmoker, probably an alcoholic, and a few other things.

Ironically, considering her lifestyle failings, she was a highly respected public health nurse. She was also a very tough old broad.

In World War Two she was an army nurse who served on the front in both Italy and Western Europe after D-Day. She lived through a V-1 bombing in London and she also sent gifts back from Europe to her 2nd oldest nephew – namely me.

I still have those gifts: A stuffed bunny (who is minus eyes and forepaws;) a pair of wooden shoes, and two picture books. For some reason I’ve kept them.

I think the reason I’ve kept them is that I (unlike most others in the family) actually liked Uggy. I spent time with her. Always a maiden lady (isn’t that a quaint old term?) I early on figured there was nothing virginal about Vivien. It was an instinct that I know wasn’t wrong.

But, I would go to visit her in her crappy little apartment (she could have afforded nicer digs, but chose not to, for whatever reason) and we would drink good scotch through an evening and talk about books and ideas, and I always enjoyed so doing. I found that she had a good sense of humor and was worthwhile company.

I don’t mean this to disdain her siblings who always found her exasperating and self-righteous; she was those things, but she normally didn’t pull that kind of crap with me.

When my first wife and I made our first trip abroad many years ago, we were sitting in our grotty little London hotel one evening, when there was a knock at the door. It was Vivien. How she found us I’m not sure, but she also happened to be in London at the time. “Come on, I’m going to take you on a pub-crawl,” she ordered. She already seemed a little into her cups. But, we went. And we had a good time. She was like that. Others seemed to miss out on those aspects of Sister Uggy.

When she died in the early 1990s she left me a little sum of money. Not huge, but much appreciated. I was the only one of 26 cousins to be mentioned in her estate. My brother was a bit pissed at that. I said to him: “Did you ever take the time to get to know her?” He replied that he hadn’t because he didn’t like her. “I did,” I said. “I guess she knew that.”


Saturday, August 23, 2008

I've been told I kick glutealy

I know I’ll never get a Nobel, and a Pulitzer is unlikely to come my way, despite how notable (in my mind) some of my journalistic offerings have been so, as a consequence, I am quite content to and gratified to graciously accept whatever award comes my way.

Blogging awards do have meaning, especially if one is an Award Whore, and are not to be disregarded. I’m not saying I am an AW, just that sometimes my sense of self-worth takes a pummelling, so it’s a relief to get some recognition from bloggers I regard as esteemed Blogsphere colleagues.

Jazz is one such blogger. And she has deemed that I am a Kick Ass Blogger. I’m touched and flattered, especially when I think that she is more Kick Ass than I am. Her ‘rants’ are brilliantly honed in their wit and her ability to capture all the stuff that pisses the rest of us off and to express in a manner that suits all who detest cant and hypocrisy. While Ms. Jazz may not earn as much as Lewis Black I put her right up there in his exalted pantheon.

So, for her to put me in such a category makes me feel both proud and unhumble. But, not ‘unworthy’. I think I earn my stripes in that regard as well.

So, here is How it works:- Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers"- Let 'em know in your post or blog comments that they've received an award- Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to
Mammadawg- Hop on back to the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky then pass it on!Now, this is the part I hate doing, which is narrowing my numbers down, since all my Blogger people are ‘kick ass’ in their assorted realms, and I couldn’t think otherwise. And, some chosen will be ones I have chosen before for other awards. Yadda-yadda. So, as follows are the five for this time around:

I’m really liking Dita. She’s got heart and soul and just a terrific wit to go along with a number of other virtues. She hasn’t been on my roll for that long, and I can’t recall how we came across each other, but pay her a call.

Liz – Highly intelligent and thoroughly eclectic in her subjects of interest and great thought. I’ve awarded Ms. Los Angelista before and hope I can do so again. We bond nicely in a lot of attitudinal areas and for that I am grateful for her presence.

Leslie – This blogger almost falls into the realm of recreational reading for me as I follow her tales and saga. Kick ass? When called for, most definitely, but never with a jaundiced eye. Just wonderful honesty. I like that. Always have.

Susan, who left her Heart in San Francisco a few years ago, charms the bejesus out of me almost consistently. Funny, honest and genuinely kick-ass. Couldn’t be without me regular dose of her blog. Neither should you.

Carol at A Little Off Kilter is a long-time connection for me. If you don’t like honesty, stay away. She calls ‘em as she sees ‘em, and she’s usually right. She’s also funny, takes fabulous photos, and offers amazingly wonderful recipes on a regular occasion. I like her. You will, too.

And last, but assuredly not least is Chani at Thailand Gal, who is rivetingly honest about herself and the world she sees around her. And kicks ass in a very thought-provoking manner.

(Oops. Silly me. I forgot to establish a link with one of my Kickass bloggers, but have rectified that omission. Sorry, Dita. Now I have one too many, but so did Jazz, so I'm going with my chosen six.)

Please check the aforementioned out, especially if you’ve never been around to their place before. You will not regret it.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

My time in stir -- a cautionary tale

I went to jail once.

It wasn’t for a criminal matter, it was just for being young, foolish and irresponsible and was a long time ago. It was just one of those experiences of which I’ve had a few and am perversely happy to have under my experiential belt, but don’t ever want to court again.

I didn’t like being in jail.

Though, I do think that is the general idea. If people liked it then it would lose some of its impact as a punishment. I not only didn’t like it, I absolutely never wanted to repeat the experience.

It wasn’t that they treated me badly. They were actually remarkably civil; even courteous. But, why wouldn’t they be. They can come and go as they please. If you’re in the lockup, you can’t, no matter how much you want to.

So, what is jail like? Well, I’ll tell you what it was like when I did my ‘time’ (about 12 hours, if memory serves). But, first I’ll tell you what it wasn’t like.

It wasn’t like the quaint and homey little lockup in Mayberry in which Otis would go out of a Friday night, get a snootfull and then come and lock himself up. Andy and Barney would come in with the morning light, and say “Hey, Otis,” when the poor bugger was trying to sleep it off. Later Aunt Bea would come in with homemade muffins for the poor hungover guy.

No, mine wasn’t like that. No Aunt Bea muffins. I think I actually got a Big Mac, fries and coffee. The cop-shop had a deal with McDonald’s. I think it stems back to the days when Ronald did hard time.

Anyway, so no nice Mayberry jail. But, I was grateful that it was no Midnight Express, either. No inmates were being sodomized in darkened corners, nor were any major drug transactions going down. Probably that was because I was the only guy there. It was a slow day. Consequently, I didn’t need to run my tin-cup along the bars to catch the attention of the screws, and they didn’t need to come and turn the hoses on me. Like I said, they were polite and so was I. Hey, that was the way I was brought up.

What it was like was this. It was a Spartan, yet open room with a couple of cots with foam and plastic covered mattresses that were not comfortable at all. There was a toilet in full view in the middle of the room, so a body better be utterly comfortable with complete lack of privacy.

Mainly, there is nothing to do, and that sucks. No TV. No books or magazines, no diversions of any sort. That door clangs behind a body – and believe me, you do check, just on the offchance it hasn’t latched properly and maybe you could make a break for it. But, no. It’s in place and the first thing that strikes you is that no matter how tired you are of being there, you still can’t go until they say so.

Such a realization actually fills the soul with dread. And I thought later, I was only in for a few hours. What is it like to be in there for months – or for years – or for your entire life? I’m not so certain that capital punishment is all that “cruel and unusual.”

Anyway, I did my time and got out and was sent on my way with a stern admonition of “Now, grow up!” Believe me, I did.

Many years later, when I was first working as an addictions counsellor, I did a tour of a major maximum security prison in British Columbia. I wanted to see what the place was like because some of our clients at the rehab where I worked were ‘conditional’ clients fresh from this place.

Wow, ‘real’ prisons are just like they are in the movies – only worse. We had to go through three separate huge iron doors, which were then locked behind us. “Hey,” I wanted to protest, “We’re good guys. You don’t need to be quite so draconian with the doors and all. I mean, I tend to get a bit claustrophobic.”

Then you go to a desk. And there you give some stern-faced looking people ‘all’ your stuff: wallet, ID, extraneous bits of paper in your pockets, etc. I don’t like giving that stuff away, even temporarily. Anyway then, and only then, are you permitted to attain your destination (under escort all the while.) I mean, my destination was only the office of the prison social worker, but it made no difference. Seems to me old Jack McCoy gets to just wander down to a cell and chat his client, or an incarcerated felon up. Not so here.

In truth, I did feel claustrophobic in there and it was not a diverting experience, but something I wanted to escape at the earliest possible instant. I couldn’t conceive of working in a prison and having to go through that every day.

No, I’ve concluded it’s generally better to be law-abiding.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mucking through the primordial ooze

I was just reading my friend Los Angelista’s wonderful blog in which she was marking her fourth anniversary at this ‘art’ and it came to me that I too might have been at it for a time approaching four years. But, I wasn’t sure, so I checked.

Vaingloriously, I ‘Googled’ myself and I found my earliest blog. This crude effort was three different blogs ago. The current one is the one of longest duration and I am not planning to depart from it in the foreseeable future.

Anyway, what follows is my blog from Sept. 4, 2004. This is actually the second blog entry I’d ever offered to the world, or my two readers at that time. The first entry was merely a reprint from a newspaper feature I’d written.

I also checked my personal journal for that day, just to find out what the world was like for me at the time, and found that we had gone to the Farmer’s Market whence we ran into different people we knew, including my ex-wife’s erstwhile student teacher from two decades earlier and upon whom I had a kind of crush at the time, and I noted that she had, ahem, aged remarkably pleasantly. Nothing much else other than that we were recently back from Kauai.

But, 2004. It was so long ago. What was life like back then? Let’s see. George W. was still president but the situation in Iraq, we were told, would be cleared up ‘soon’. Al Gore hadn’t yet morphed into Michael Moore with nicer clothes, and Princess Diana was still dead, but continued to provide fodder for People mag.

On the home front (everybody’s home front) property speculators and developers were still having orgasms over a real estate market that woujld be booming ‘forever’, bringing us all wealth and palatial homes with mortgages of half-a-million but easily affordable at subprime for a couple who worked at Wal-Mart or Burger King. And Britney hadn’t yet ‘doffed trou’ for public scrutiny. Yes, in all it was a happier time.

Without further ado, let us return to those golden days of yesteryear with a retro-visit to my 2nd blog entry ever.

Sept 11/04

1. No matter how much money you have, it's always barely enough to get by on.

2. There is always a Plan B.

3. Never pee into the wind on a sailboat.

4. You will only stub your toe in bare-feet when you have an ingrown toenail.

5. No matter which route you take, there will always be roadwork -- especially when you're late for work or an appointment.

6. No matter how late you arrive for a doctor's or dentist's appointment, you will still have to wait half-an-hour.

7. Doctors will have you sent into that little examining room even though they're not yet ready to see you. Is it to give you hope, or to increase and prolong your anxiety?

8. If you're male, you couldn't get an 18-year-old hottie when you were 18, and now that you have the money and car that might lure her, you're too old.

9. Procrastination is like masturbation -- either way, you're only fucking yourself. (pardon the profanity, I was very young and crass back then.)

10. In life, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

11. You can be a godfather, a godmother, or a goddamned fool, but you can never be a god.

12. The queue you decide to join will always take the longest, and the little old lady with only two items to check out, who is just ahead of you, will have 47 store coupons (most of them outdated, or from another store) that she will demand to have checked. She will then hand the cashier 200 lottery tickets she wants scanned.

13. All divorces are acrimonious at first.

14. When the divorce is finalized and your ex states that she wants you to remain friends, that will never truly happen. The most you can hope for is a reserved politeness on meeting, in which both parties are waiting for the other to say something inflammatory.

15. Children will never love you back as much as you love them.

16. After having chastised a youngster for not visiting the bathroom prior to departure on a trip, you will be struck by an overwhelming urge to pee within half an hour of leaving your doorstep.

17. All airplane trips are frightening, uncomfortable, and hideously boring.

18. Cat hair does not cling to cats.

19. Anyone nitpicky enough to write a letter to the editor complaining about a typographical error, deserves the error.

20. Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, either teach PE or chair the local teachers' union.

21. A person cannot step into the same river twice. (OK, I stole that one from Buddha)

22. Unrequited love fantasies never become reality -- at least not in the way you wanted them to.

23. Or, they do, and that can be worse.

24. Your dreams are merely dreams, they do no foretell the future or resolve problems.

25. Beautiful women do not break wind, get greenery stuck in their teeth or become stricken with diarrhea. If they did it would destroy all illusion.

26. (bonus aphorism) There is no justice in the universe. If something genuinely fair or fortuitous seems to have transpired, it was a random fluke. So, life ain't fair. So, get over it.

posted by Ian at 8:50 AM


Monday, August 18, 2008

The whiskeyjacks just make the world a bit brighter

Up behind the Comox Valley there’s a goodly sized hill known as Mt. Washington. Why a Canadian mountain is named after the first US president remains unknown to me, and cared about even less, which is why I’ve never bothered to check out its nomenclative origins.

Anyway, it’s an impressive little mountain of about 5,000-plus feet and it provides a fine backdrop. It is also a major destination ski resort and general winter sports venue for the entire Pacific Northwest. It’s biggest benefit for those who choose to pay a call is that it takes a little over a half-hour’s drive on an excellent road to attain the recreation sites.

While wintertime Mt. Washington is a big draw for those who like sliding down hills, getting wet bums and fracturing assorted limbs, for me it is primarily appealing in the summertime. Fortunately, those who run the winter facilities have endeavoured to make it equally inviting in the summer.

And on a bright summer’s day it is a superlative place to be. So, since Saturday was a bright summer’s day, that’s what we did. We go up the mountain at least once every summer and we walk the trails through the Alpine Meadows and, if we’re feeling ultra-ambitious, we hike into one of the lakes. On Saturday we only felt moderately ambitious, so we stuck to the meadows.

I think my impulse tied in with my previous blog about souls and a need to take to the hills, just to change my perspective by ‘communing’. And then there were the ‘whiskeyjacks’. The whiskeyjack is more accurately known as the gray jay.

They’re wonderful and gregarious birds that watch for hikers so they can beg. Remarkably tame, for whatever reason, they take food from the hand and show absolutely no fear as they tramp around all over the feeder, always demanding more. The only wild birds I’ve ever known to come close in their lack of fear of humans are the little zebra doves of Hawaii.

Here is a bit of ornithological/etymological info which may or may not be true, according to sources, but it’s worth pondering:

In modified form, Wesakachak has been part of English for centuries. For the gray jay's most common nickname is "whiskey jack" (also spelled in several ways). Reference books agree that whiskey jack is derived from a Cree or Innu source. Some of them, however, describe the term's origin in an unlikely manner.
Katherine Barber, in her 2007 book Only in Canada, You Say, suggests that whiskey jack comes from the Cree word for blacksmith, "wiskatjan." The bird's colour supposedly made people think of ashes and soot. Hudson's Bay Company workers in the 18th century, who heard the Cree word as "whiskeyjohn," then altered John to the more informal Jack. A similar account appears in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, among other places.
Whatever is the case, they’re cool birds and they did my soul (old, young or middle-aged) a world of good on Saturday.
Now, to completely break stride I do need to do a Monday morning rant about the haphazard and cliché-ridden nature of some of the journalistic endeavors I see around me these days. I still do and always will consider myself a newspaper guy, and in that calling I am an anal and uptight perfectionist. I believe that sort self-discipline is a mark of professionalism.
So, as Wendy will attest to, I regularly fulminate against sloppy spelling (Spellcheck doesn’t do the job and papers should bring back proofreaders), and hideous usage (there is a big difference between ‘exasperate’ and ‘exacerbate’, not to mention ‘flaunt’ and ‘flout’. Nobody ‘flaunts’ the law unless he or she is a bragging lawyer or judge.
But, the one that ground me down last week was three headlines in virtually as many days referring to a sad amalgam of negative coincidences as a ‘perfect storm’ Come on, folks, even as applied to a third rate film is was a tired and silly expression, and when applied to anything else it is, at very least, a really lame cliché. Get to work, boys and girls of the press and develop a genuine love of the language.
There, so endeth my imperfect tempest of Monday spleen.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Am I a Soul Man? I'm not yet certain

I once was told by a psychic that I had an ‘old soul.’ I wasn’t entirely certain, not being terribly well-versed back then in the metaphysical arts, what she meant.

In essence, it meant that my codger of a soul had been around for a few lifetimes and was nearly finished its journey through the universe. That was a good thing, she told me. All those wrinkles on my soul meant that I had made some good changes.

One of them, she suggested, was to have quit the relationship I’d had with my second wife who was possessed of a very juvenile soul. My ex, you see, had also gone to her for a reading. I wondered about the ethics of her telling me about the pubescent nature of my ex’s soul, but I didn’t question it since I wanted to find out whatever dirt I could on her. Anyway, the psychic didn’t like her much; I could tell.

So, you see, my ex's zit-infested soul was still inclined to be throwing adolescent tantrums and making lousy judgment calls, while mine was more in the line of an impatient grandparent constantly thinking: “Geez, what next from this kid?”

I am, as you might have noticed, making light of all this stuff. In truth, I know a bit more about it than that, and at a slightly more complex level. I've done a lot of reading since then. I’ve read my Jung and my Joseph Campbell and other source books that ponder what is deemed the bare essence of us as individuals – the thing that makes us what and who we are – the soul.

And, it’s there. To me there is no doubt. Whether or not it’s divinely inspired is a matter of individual belief. But, the fact remains there is neither a religion nor a society, from the most sophisticated to the most rudimentary, that denies this essence.

If you doubt it, then look at a corpse. It may even be the corpse of one you know (knew) well. Something is missing. The corporeal shell is there, but nothing more.

I once held the head of a dying deer in my arms. A car had hit it. Not mine, blessedly. One second the deer was alive and its eyes were watching, watching – and then it was dead. There was no mistaking. The eyes immediately clouded. An element had left the hapless animal. Do deer have souls? I’m not about to go there, but native peoples assuredly believe they have. Who is to say they’re wrong?

At the moment I am reading an intriguing book entitled The Snow Leopard, by Peter Mattheissen. It’s an old book, published back in 1978 and at its barest essence it concerns Mattheissen’s trek into the remotest regions of the Himalayas. He has many motivations, including wanting to put the recent death of his estranged wife behind him.

But, there is more than this in his quest; there is more than the amazingly rare snow leopard in his quest, there is his journey to find his soul and come to grips with what life, love, death and the whole damn thing mean to us as individuals, since it is surely an individual thing, Mattheissen, who is now a Buddhist priest in upstate New York, finally concludes. But, it is a tortuous route to reach that conclusion.

He too, he deduced, had an old soul, which is why he went on a metaphysical rather than material quest. We old souls tend to do that, my psychic told me those many years ago.

I suspect she was right in that, too. Never has my soul been fed by stuff. But it has been fed by meditation, thought, reading, love, sex, travel and all the other non-stuff things.

So, now that I have laid my soul – as I understand it, which is not at all, kind of a Zen thing, y’understand – bare, I am going to move on and watch the Simpsons. Nelson has far more soul than many might realize.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Olympics don't care for me, so I don't care for them

I see that Canada is showing its usual prowess at the Olympics. Zero medals.

I don’t truly care.

On the other hand, we all remember that moment of brief glory back at the Seoul Olympics when sprinter Ben Johnson won us the gold. Why, he was a ‘Canadian Hero.’ Then it turned out our hero was doped to the pecs. Overnight the Canadian hero became that Jamaican guy.

Yeah, as if all other competitors were innocent. Johnson was just dumb enough to get caught.

But, again, I didn’t really care.

I didn’t care because the Olympics mean diddly to me.

I won’t go into all the reasons for my Olympics antagonism, but one of the important ones goes back to childhood trauma. Doesn’t everything?

You see, as a kid, I was not exactly known for athletic prowess. If truth be known, I was always the ‘second last’ kid picked when we were choosing up sides for anything involving a team effort. God, how I hated those moments. I wasn’t the last picked, because there was always some poor kid who was the true bottom of the barrel.

What I came to realize from those moments – and they really hurt, believe me – was that kids can be remarkably thoughtless, and that they had handy allies in those pedagogical scum of the earth creatures, PE teachers. I came to loathe school jock teachers, coaches, and their ilk with an abiding passion. I hated them because they humiliated kids and were too stupid to even ‘get it.’

I mean, I was otherwise an OK kid. I was fairly popular, had lots of friends, did well in my other stuff and generally played the ‘larger’ game in that detestable institution known as the public school. Yet, when it came to choosing teams, even my so-called friends would turn against me when the picking of players came about. What was that all about?

I don’t know why I wasn’t very athletic. I mean, I wasn’t an awkward shape, and I didn’t stumble over my feet, but when it came especially to team sports, I just regularly tanked. I couldn’t catch a ball to save my life, for example. I did OK in individual areas of prowess, like track, for example. I was a decent runner and even got a few ribbons. I was also a decent swimmer, and I could even ice-skate with prowess. But, throw hockey into that mix, and I was a goner.

I have concluded that the reason I was never much good at sports was I didn’t ‘get’ sports. I mean, sports consists of ‘games’. Games are playtime, they’re not serious. Games are fooling around and not getting one with life and matters of import. The other part I didn’t understand was why people took playtime pursuits so seriously. Games are supposed to be fun, in my esteem, because they are of no value whatsoever other than that.

Yet, look at how seriously society takes them. Look at what we pay boneheaded so-called professional athletes. Look at the reality that deems a goddamn high school coach as being a more significant person in a school than a math or English teacher. In reality, he is so much less important that it boggles the mind.

So, that’s why I don’t give a rat’s-ass for the Olympics. The Olympics committees are a collection of superannuated high school jocks given licence to glean huge amounts of public and corporate money for the sake of silly games. Games that don't even pay lip-service to any form of international morality which is why the games have been accorded to some pretty awful totalitarian regimes, such as Berlin in 1936, Soviet Moscow later, and currently Beijing.

And I primarily don’t give a rat’s-ass because I never got picked, so why should I play along now?

If you think I’m being childish and mean-spirited about this, that’s OK. Anyway, it’s my blog.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Down by the station, early in the morning

Blue Water, Blue Water, Blue Water Line Blue Water, Blue Water, Blue Water Line If you can't afford a quarter then you ought to give a dime If everybody gave then we could save the Blue Water Line

So went the old Brothers Four folk tune back in the 1950s. The little Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway Line on Vancouver Island stands to suffer the same fate as the Blue Water and dozens upon dozens of other small rail systems in North America as the boneheads who govern us with antediluvian mindsets push through more highways while paying lip-service to their admiration for alternate modes of transport.

I confess, the old E&N is dear to my heart, as it is to hundreds of Vancouver Islanders. One of the reasons the former colony of Vancouver Island agreed, in a moment of madness, arguably, to join Canada was the promise from Ottawa of a railway in perpetuity.

The little train runs from Victoria to my hometown of Courtenay, some 140 miles to the north. During the time Wendy was working out of Victoria we used the little Dayliner many times to go back-and-forth, especially in inclement weather. The fare was reasonable, and even though the little old coach plodded along at a less than stellar pace, it was much less stressful than driving the miles.

As follows are some lines from the blog I wrote pertaining to the beloved train and the trip back in February, 2007:

It’s decrepit in a funky (almost charming) way, and it shudders and rolls from side to side, added to which it makes odd (and one hopes not ominous) noises as it wends its way along to its hoped-for destination some 135 miles distant.I’m referring to the E&N (Esquimalt and Nanaimo) ‘Dayliner’. This is the single diesel unit railway coach that runs from Victoria on Vancouver Island to Courtenay (the end of the line) and then back again to Victoria on a daily basis, come rain, shine, snow, sleet, flood or earthquake. This aged relic is the last vestige of the first transcontinental railroad in Canada and it came into being in return for British Columbia’s agreement to join the Canadian Confederation – which to this day isn’t deemed an agreeable situation in many minds in these parts.Politics notwithstanding – or, in truth, maybe ‘withstanding’ – the feds, or their railroad handmaiden, Via Rail (Canada’s Amtrak, so you know what I mean), have been trying to kill the E&N for decades now. They don’t like it. It doesn’t turn a profit (as if any passenger service does), and what the hell do they care about the transportation concerns of a handful of people in the never-never land. It pisses them off that they were able to kill the ‘Newfie Bullet’ in Newfoundland (leaving that province without rail service), but they haven’t been able to do it on the west coast. Pisses them off indeed that the courts have always found that they would be wise to honor a century and a quarter old undertaking, or that all sorts of shit would be flying around the corridors of power in consequence.So, as a relief to Vancouver Islanders and others who have used the service, the old, old, old ‘Budd’ cars still ply the wavy and bumpy rails each day. Of course, Via’s way of continuing to give the finger has been their steadfast refusal to replace the rolling stock with something that even resembles late 20th century, let a lone 21st. Oblivious to any considerations of the environmental virtues of mass transit so that travelers can eschew their cars (don’t these morons read the papers?) they would rather we fire up private vehicles to make our trips up and down the Island. It is testament to the E&N’s mechanics in Victoria that they are able to, with spit, baling wire, curses, and pirating from one diesel unit to another, keep these relics running.

Now, for those of you who have never ridden the E&N, which is likely most of you, there are two things I am asking for you to consider, and no I am not seeking your nickels or dimes – and let me add that I rarely take up causes, but this one is dear to my heart, sense of romance, and sheer environmental common sense (something sorely lacking in our leaders, despite their protestations to the contrary). So, I am going to ask you to tap into the Island Corridor people’s homepage at And also, if so inclined, to add your name to the list. They are seeking 4,000 names and already have well over 2,500.

It doesn’t matter where you live. I believe our rail lines not only must be preserved, they must also be encouraged and expanded. As it is, the Europeans put us to shame with their sleek and speedy electric trains.

For decades there has been a concerted effect on the part of North American politicians to kill our rail lines. Don’t let them get away with it!

Maybe you can play a role in saving your own metaphorical Blue Water Line, too. If there is a beleaguered shortline near you, give it all the support you can. If for no other reason than if I am in your neck of the woods, I want to ride one of your little trains, just like I want you to have the option to ride mine.


Monday, August 11, 2008

'I'm really, really, really, really sorry, Baby. OK?

I am going to step out of my Canadian bailiwick for a moment and share some thoughts on a thing that has been happening on the US side of the border. I happen to think what happens in the US ‘is’ my business, much as it is everybody’s business globally because of the huge impact matters American have on all of us. The thoughts that follow also pertain to certain issues of morality and moral turpitude of the sort that is not unique to any nation, but certainly evidence aspects of how vile human behavior can sometimes be.

“Vengeance is mine,” sayeth the Lord. Or, at least, so sayeth the scriptural scholars who presupposed what the Lord sayeth. The Lord might just as easily have sayeth: “Smite the bastards.” Old Testament God would’ve sayeth that, though wimpy NT God is a little softer

“Judge not lest ye be judged,” the Lord is also purported to have sayeth-ed.

On the other hand, my friend Dave said: “That guy is lower than the belly of a snake that has been run over by a semi.” He was talking about a guy we both know who was remarkably unattractive and uncharming, and who was married to a woman who was lovely, charming, witty and had all those dream girl attributes, and this bozo screwed around on her ‘all’ the time.
So, Dave wasn’t specifically referring to erstwhile Democratic presidential aspirant John Edwards, but if the shoe doesn’t pinch. Well, you know.

Now, Mr. Edwards – eloquent, boyish, bright, etc. – has, as most people this side of the Amazon rainforest know by now, been caught with his hand in the metaphorical cookie jar, or in the literal contents of the panties of a woman to whom he was not married.

He’s come clean about it – after months of denial – you know the adage, when in doubt, lie your ass off. And, he’s told the missus, and she’s forgiven him, he says. God, these pathetic political wives – give yourself a bit of a break and claim some honor, dears.

Now, it’s not that it’s unprecedented for some high powered politico to indulge in a little sexual hanky-panky. Indeed, it seems like it’s almost compulsory by now.

“OK, hon’, going out to get laid by a bimbo, now,”
“You go, sweetie. You know I want to see you win that election.”

But, joke as we might, there is one factor that, I would suggest, puts any future ambitions of Mr. Edwards in the political arena in jeopardy:

His Wife Has Terminal Cancer, for Christ’s sake!!

I mean, and I hate to be judgmental, but that is inexcusably low. In that one I will go back to my friend Dave’s ‘snake’ comment.

I’m not tossing brickbats here, and hope like hell I’m not being hypocritical and, well, infidelity happens, and for a number of reasons. And, there was a time, albeit many years ago and in a different relationship, when I wasn’t exactly fastidious about where I hung my hat or doffed my skivvies. But – and there are buts all over the place here – I wasn’t running for political office. I wasn’t asking gullible and decent members of the public to place their trust in me, only to find out that I had the morals of an alleycat.

That was what Edwards was doing. He was boffing the brains out of the remarkably pedestrian looking Rielle Hunter when he was seeking not only public office, but ‘the’ public office.

Like I said, lower’n a snake’s belly.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Edwards, ailing and frail, stood by her sappish and weak man, smiling all the while. They would mount a dais together, hand-in-hand and I can imagine many Americans thought, especially after the Obama romp, that the guy had Veep timbre about him.

Of course, he is now contrite. He is now saying he’s sorry, and that he and the missus will work this out. You know, “our time of trial” bullshit. OK, you’re sorry. You got caught out, thanks to that august journal the National Enquirer. But, if you’re sorry, what are you going to do about it to compensate the people who put trust in you?

Way lower’n a snake’s belly.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Your weekend roundup of the pertinent and impertinent

While the universe continues to deteriorate, I have decided that a number of items need to be addressed, at least in a cursory manner. Come to think of it, maybe everything should be addressed cursorily, since we make such a botch of things via in-depth analysis. “Oh, poverty, crime, homelessness, drugs – bad things, those. We should do something about them, sometime.” See, cursorily.

“Onward,” as Mort Sahl used to say. Wow, that dated me.

* The Beijing Olympics have started. For the next while China is officially a ‘nice’ country, rather than a ruthless tyranny.

* I read that Canadian pop-tart Avril Lavigne is going to get her teeth filed down because she is tired of her “fangs”. Hey, hon’, the fangs may be the only distinctive aspect of you. And there are always those future parts in B-pic vampire movies.

*The governmental carbon tax fraud continues in British Columbia. This ‘revenue neutral’ tax grab is nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with the deficit that will arise from the 2010 Olympics and the government-engineered failed forest industry. If everybody in BC quit driving their cars tomorrow, it wouldn’t make a rat’s-ass of difference to global warming.

* Official French bimbo, sorry, First Lady, Carla Bruni is featured on the cover of the latest Vanity Fair. Why? She also fancies herself as a future Jackie Kennedy. Why? Will her Jackie Kennedyness give Sarkozy the right to screw any female who comes within his scope, just like Jackie’s husband did? Come to think of it, that was how Sarky acquired Carla, n’est ce pas?

* No matter how hard I try, I just cannot accept this 'Brangelina' amalgam as being of more value to the planet than the average street cop or trash collector. Sorry.

* And, while I’m trying to care less about the alleged rift in Madonna’s marriage, I think I’ve reached the nadir of uncaringness.

* The Obama family made the cover of People. Somehow the world now seems a little bit safer.

* Paris Hilton’s mom is pissed with McCain for using her daughter as a cheap joke in a speech he recently gave. Since Mrs. Hilton has sunk bucks into the McCain coffers, she wasn’t amused. Why? Did she think her daughter had by this point risen above being a cheap joke? I thought that was Paris’s career plan.

* Boobsified PETA maven and Canada's official slutbunny, Pam Anderson has received the
green light to build a great big property development in her little hometown of Ladysmith on Vancouver Island. Her application was passed without a murmur by flushed-faced town councillors. They’re still finding glitches after four years in a similar application by local developer Joe Schmoe.

* Why can’t the ‘Muppet’ people be put in charge of designing Olympic mascots? At least they’d be cute and funny rather than hideous and borderline scary. If you think the Beijing ones are bad, wait till you see the Vancouver ones. I am also left with the residual question. Since we’re grownups here, why do we need mascots at all? Did the original Greeks have mascots? “Hey, look it’s a little tiny, fuzzy Sophocles!”

There you have it. Just a little pastiche of the world around us all on this particular day in history. Good night and good news.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ah -- go heal thyself, f''crissake

Ever since I had my touch of infirmity back in June I have been spending entirely too much time dealing with the medical fraternity. Oh, don’t worry. Everything is OK and I am getting thoroughly on track after a couple of glitches in my health. It’s just that I want to get back to where it was -- which consisted of me never going to visit a doctor.

Oh, I have nothing against doctors as such. It’s an honorable enough calling, and I even have a couple of them in my family. I just don’t want to give them my trade.

You see, men don’t do well with doctors. Men don’t understand such psychological manifestations as hypochondria or Munchausen’s syndrome. Why would somebody want to see a doctor unless he absolutely had to?

Why do normal males run metaphorically screaming from regular checkups? Because doctors are authority figures. Males don’t handle those so well. Doctors are like cops, parents, teachers, and wives: they are empowered to tell you what you mustn’t do any longer.

Furthermore, doctors force otherwise morally upstanding chaps to tell lies due to the probing personal questions they are asked.

“How much do you drink?”
“Oh, gee, it’s been a while. Does sacramental wine count?”

“Still smoking?”
“Oh heck no. Quit a while ago.”
“How long ago?”
“Uh – well, curiously enough, just before this appointment. Otherwise, oh, about two cigarettes a year.”

“Any problem with erectile dysfunction?”
“Me?? You must be joking. At it probably about 15-20 times a week. But, er, I wouldn’t mind a prescription for that there Viagra, just so maybe I could up it to 25 times a week. ”

I guess the hard part is the caveats. We all do things we shouldn’t and we do those things for a long time. We like to think about men we’ve heard of who lived to 110 and had the most atrocious life-styles. Winston Churchill is assuredly a hero to most men, in that regard. “Yep – old Churchill; two fifths of brandy a day and 25 stogies. Didn’t hurt him.”

But, let’s say prudence and common sense dictate that a fellow might touch base with that virtual stranger, AKA his GP. That’s what happened to me. It had been so long that I hadn’t realized my old doctor had retired and been replaced by a callow youth not long past acne. Oh, OK, probably late 30s. And, he has turned out to be a very nice guy, and impressively conscientious. But, otherwise, I still hate going.

You know the routine. You go to your clinic. Doctors are all in fancy-schmantzy clinics these days. It’s their own investment and it pays well. That’s why my former doctor is now retired, even though he’s younger than I am. The bastard.

So, you go to the clinic, check in and are told to sit down in the waiting room and wait until you are called. You look at the other people in the room and hope that none of them have anything communicable, what with all their hacking and wheezing. What are you doing here if you’re sick? Why aren’t you at home in bed rather than spreading your crud to other folks?

Some of these people look worse than others. Some, you’re pretty damn sure, aren’t going to see another Christmas. Oh, and that guy, major booze-hound, you can tell by his ruby complexion. Is his doctor ever going to give him shit, and is he ever going to lie. Then there is the woebegone looking 17-year-old preggo and her junkie-looking significant other. Wow, is that kid ever going tot have a nice life.

After shuffling though the magazines, most of them being of the vintage Ladies’ Home Journal ilk, and building up huge resentments against people who came in after one, but have already been ushered off to a doctor, you get the call. At that point you go from the big room to the little room. In the little room you will sit for at least another half hour while the doctor goes for a manicure, or slips out for a cocktail, or whatever it is they do while you are cooling your heels.

I tend to scope out the room while I’m there. I sheaf through the assorted medical journals at the desk, and ponder the diplomas on the wall. Hmm, University of Lesser Cayman Medical School. There is paraphernalia in this room. A gurney thing to lie on. So, how exactly do those stirrup things work? Do they wash the gurney down at the end of the day? A box of rubber gloves. Oh, God, I’d forgotten about ‘la teste’. Arggh. And by then I am bored senseless. Eventually I hear chatting in the corridor and female laughter combined with male jollity. So, what’s he doing? Making a date?

And then he comes in and the real stuff starts and it will continue to go on for minutes and minutes, with him writing on his pad all the overpriced prescriptions he wants you to buy, none of which you want to take, and none of which you ant to pay for.

Once, when I was addictions counselling at a rehab I told a doctor that she knew absolutely nothing about addictions. The issue concerned a prescription that she was insisting a client must be permitted to utilize in the facility. I told her to pound salt; wasn’t gonna happen at our rehab.

She got highly indignant at the idea of a mere layperson taking her to task.

I found it a very empowering moment, especially when she hung up on me.

I often remember that when I go to see a doctor.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Celine? No, thanks but I'll take the waterboarding

Can you imagine having Celine Dion wailing (some might call it singing, but I could never be so generous) that horrible My Heart Will Go On at you incessantly until you crack?

Or, in the same vein, Paul Anka’s vomity She’s Having My Baby wired to your earholes so that you could never escape it? Wouldn’t you blow the whistle on the transgressions of your own mother if you were forced to undergo such rigors?

Well, according to well-informed sources, music torture is just one of the refinements of interrogation being used on the hapless inmates of Guantanamo. This is for real. So, if waterboarding isn’t excess enough at Gitmo, then Terry Jack’s screechingly awful Seasons In The Sun is sure to make the strongest Al Qaeda operative crumble.

Seriously, music torture has to be one of the most frightful marriages of technology with brutality – all in the name of freedom, y’unnersrtand. If you think about it, incessant exposure to even fine and normally soothing pieces of music would make you crack.

I happen to be rather fond of Clapton’s Layla, or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird, but I wouldn’t want them pounded out at me. The Zombies’ She’s Not There has always brought me pleasure, as has Hendrix’s Purple Haze, and the Stones’ Honky-Tonk Woman, but within reason. After a while it would become tiresome, then infuriating, and finally, torture.

Even lovely classical pieces by Mozart or Bach would ultimately exasperate one if one were to be bombarded non-stop. Brahm’s Lullaby wouldn’t bring sleep, it would bring madness.

When I first read the article on musical torture, I thought it was tongue-in-cheek, but it was nothing of the sort. The writer also queried whether or not the Gitmo interrogators had sought the rights to the pieces of music and if they were paying royalties. Legitimate questions, if you think about it.

What pieces of music would make you crack? I’ve included some of my own:

I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston): I think this already qualifies as musical torture for anybody who has attended a wedding in the past 20-odd years.

Horse With No Name (America). What in the hell is this song about?

Honey (Bobby Goldsboro). Honey was very fortunate. She died before hearing this dreck.

Kokomo (Beach Boys) From the dudes who brought you God Only Knows and Good Vibrations, this is a travesty.

American Pie (Don McLean). Catchy at the beginning, woefully tiresome and sappy by now. Credit to McLean, he has come to loathe it, too.

The End (The Doors) Pretentious asshole Jim Morrison at his pretentious asshole worst. 'Hey, man, that’s like deep Freudian analysis.' No it’s not. It’s pseudo-Freudian bullshit.

Ebony and Ivory (McCartney/Wonder) They both should have been so thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

I could, just like Celine, go on and on with my list, but shall refrain, but leave you with this thought. In our incessantly wired world, try to escape the ‘sounds’ sometimes and be grateful that you have the freedom to do so.

Oh, and if I have included some of your favorites with my 'worsts' it doesn't mean I don't still love you.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Hooray for us -- I guess

British Columbia is 150 years old.


Well, actually it’s a lot older than that in a geological sense.

Anyway, 150 years old, they tell us. Isn’t that kind of a Eurocentric White Guy view of the place? Sort of suggests nothing happened here prior to 1858, but I suspect it did.

I didn’t think we did that sort of thing any more.

Added to which, why is such a minuscule age considered such an accomplishment?

The Holy Roman Empire was 1,000 years old when they packed it in about 1800 after fully realizing it was neither Holy, Roman, nor an Empire.

Nobody’s missed it much.

Anyway, have a good BC Day anyway all you BC-ers. An August holiday is not to be sneezed at.

(BTW, I had a really nice picture of fireworks and all to run with this but stupid blogger decided to not pick up any art. Bad-Bad Blogger)

Friday, August 01, 2008

WTF? Department

Griffin sorting out his Yin and Yang

When I was ‘between marriages’ back in the mid-1990s I got myself a cat. The cat was Griffin. You’ve heard about him before.

At the time I was a member of the league of the walking wounded, having just come out of a tempestuous (to state the case mildly) relationship and having no desire at that moment to share domicile on a permanent basis with any wearer of panties (fortunately that jaded impulse changed). So, I got me a cat.

It was great. Grif is a good guy – even still. He’s clean and neat and testicle-less, so he doesn’t fight. He was about 6 then and is now the far side of 18, as near as I can deduce.

OK. Opening premise here. Pets are good. Griffin kept me sane and well behaved and then when the right person came along, as in Wendy, I was ready for it. So was he. He also fell in love with her from the outset.

When we did our year-and-a-half back-and-forth between here and Victoria, the one thing that galled me about the Victoria apartment complex was that pets were not welcome. Many of the residents of the place were seniors. Some were recently widowed. They were alone and often lonely. So, why no pets? No reason was ever given.

Animals pee and poop? So do people.

Animals can be destructive? More damage is done to flats by people than is ever done by pets.

Animals can be noisy? See ‘damage’ above.

The pet ban was a pity, and one that I think should have been questioned. If we were to have been there for the long haul I certainly would have questioned it, due to the lack of logic.

Now comes this. One of the communities that constitutes the interconnected urban area of the Comox Valley is the historic coal-mining village of Cumberland. Cumberland is a quaint and sometimes even enchanting place with lots of good interconnected folks and the cheapest real estate in the area.

Just recently the local press noted that the residents of a seniors complex in the village have been told to give up their pets, “or else.” The ‘or else’ part is either abandon cats and dogs that you have acquired or ‘get the hell out’ by Aug. 31.

It seems that the residents, many of them widowed women, have taken in a few feral tabbies and pups, or have acquired some from the shelter. They had been led to believe that this was OK by the overseers of the complex, the Cumberland Senior Citizens Housing Society.

Now, they have been told that former directives in terms of pets are invalid. And, if these senior folks (you’d think they’d have a few rights, but you would be wrong) to adhere to the draconian decree, they muster damn well pack their bags and hit the road.

I can only assume the good members of the Cumberland SCHS don’t have any parents or grandparents of their own or they wouldn’t be quite so fascistic about this.

Anyway, it doesn’t look good and it also flies in the face of conventional wisdom that holds that pets are remarkably good for the mental health of seniors. That is why a number of care homes in the area have resident dogs and cats.

By the way, it comes as no surprise that the board members of the Cumberland SCHS would not return calls to local newspapers. That’s because they cannot help but be seen as heartless and mean bastards.

For that is what they are, regardless of how they would like to justify this sort of abuse and emotional blackmail.