Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Musings on the Eve of 2009

Myself and Colin (at the dawn of time) being smart and good looking

While 2008 has had its up-and-down moments; my particular annus horribilis was 1996.

Lost loves are meant to stay that way.

If there were a single word essence to my philosophy it would be ‘forgiveness.’

In one of her drunken rambles my mother once said in reference to two of her sons (both of whom were present): “You were always the smart one and Colin was the good looking one. Thus damning us both. Forgiveness still comes hard for this one. Maybe someday.

I love my brother, Colin, dearly. And he me. We both cherish that and need it.

Ants are intriguing
. They ‘speak’ to one another. There are more of them than there are of us. They are likely more important.

Because I was ‘too talkative’
in my third grade class the teacher banished me to sit on the ‘girls’ side of the room I was in heaven. I suspect that was where it all began.

Maybe I was a class clown, but never thought of myself as such. But I was funny. I know that now.

A kid in junior high once asked me how I knew a particular fact. I said I had read it. “Is that all you do is read?” he asked disdainfully. He became a plumber. He probably made more money than I ever did.

The stupidest waste of a year of my life came when I, after I got my degree, decided to take secondary teacher training. It was all inane. You either are a teacher or not, and no half-baked pedant can teach you to be one.

I was a good teacher and a popular one. I hated it. In retrospect those eight years were not happy ones.

Good reporters follow the wisdom of the old guys. Read some H.L. Mencken and Ernie Pyle and you don’t need much more.

In loving ‘more’ is not necessarily ‘better.’

Every man should someday meet with a femme fatale. You learn from that – if you survive.

Drug addicts have found their ‘happy place’, but it is a brief one punctuated by depravity, dishonesty and despair.

I believe in God but I don’t need somebody in a white backwards collar to interpret God for me.

A friend went on three spiritual pilgrimages to India in vain attempt to find his true spirituality. Eventually he found it was inside himself all the time and he could have saved the airfare.

likes to sell itself as a ‘world-class city.’ It is nothing of the sort. True world-class cities (and there are others) that I have spent time in include London, San Francisco, Montreal, and Dublin. Dublin may seem like a bit of a backwater, but there is more history and soul (albeit often misguided) on a single block of O’Connell Street than in the whole of Vancouver.

The best Chinese restaurant
I ever visited was in Honolulu’s Chinatown.

I got Griffin, my cat, at the beginning of 1997. He is now old and spare of shank, yet he somehow seems wise. I don’t know how I’ll take it when he goes.

I rarely cry. I mist, but rarely cry. But I did in early 1997. Great racking sobs that lasted hours. I think it was needed.

Love may keep us together, but money seems to be a vital part of the equation, too.

I’ve had many crushes in my life. I always remember them, and sometimes they have lasted down the years. They must never be realized. That destroys the mythology.

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do ‘intentions’, as in this might be attainable or not. But at least I’ve tried. Each year we write out our intentions on a sheet of paper, and as the new year comes in we take them outside and burn them; turn them over to God, or whatever cosmic muffin might be listening. And, I believe He/She/It is.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Oops -- hold your water, dear

Regardless of how you look at it, all it takes is one little glitch, a tiny bump, to throw your life into complete disarray.

Wendy and I were snuggled all comfortably in our bed on a Sunday night (yesterday, in fact), and she was reading “her Emily Dickinson, and I my Robert Frost”. Well, not really those tomes, but it was pre-lights-out reading time. It was all ever so nice. Then, Wendy said she could hear a hissing. It sounded like water running, she said. Normally I might suggest she was imagining it, or just hearing a night noise. But, this time I could hear it too.

We arose and went through the house checking all faucets and turn-ons and nothing seemed to be amiss. Then, on a hunch, I lifted the trap door to the crawlspace. And there it was. It wasn’t a hissing sound like a lady having a pee; it wasn’t a trickling sound like a babbling brook, it was a bloody torrential, Nile cataract sound. Uh-oh!

We went down and it was pouring out all over boxed papers, old computer bits, chairs, items of cabinetry currently redundant, and other stuff that had been stored away. It was a low-grade disaster to punctuate the end of our weekend.

I called an emergency plumbing service number. I was told I’d have to get the town to shut off the water before he could do anything. I called their after-hours number and a guy came out. And, in one of those rare happenstances, this fellow was a gem. He was wonderful, conscientious, caring and rapidly became a god in our books. I want to leave him something in my will, so impressed was I. How often does a body get that from a civic employee, especially when the time is nearing midnight in raw weather? He looked through everything, got thoroughly soaked, realized he had to go to the street and find the main shutoff. It took ages for him to get there, and he had to dig down close to the netherworld before he actually found the shutoff. But, he did. And we were able finally to hit the sack for real.

Fortunately, we did have the foresight to plan ahead before the water was shut down for the night. We filled a bunch of buckets and the laundry room washtub so that we could dump buckets into the potty tank and avoid that disagreeable inconvenience. We also set the coffee maker up to go in the morning, and filled a pitcher with drinking water. Very clever we were.

This morning a plumbing guy came and rectified the problem. The water was turned on. It was a return to paradise, we could shower, use the toilet, and so forth. It was all a reminder of how much we come to count on relatively simple things – simple things that would be regarded as a luxury in many parts of the world.

At the end of it, we were kind of grateful for a number of things. As said, we weren’t away from the house at the time, and we were served well by a couple of really thoughtful guys, one from the town and one from a plumbing company. We’ll now have to see if our insurance company is as obliging.

And my shower this morning was heavenly.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back to the future, or is it Forward to the past, or just time present?

Maybe it’s much too early in the game,
Gee but I thought I’d ask you just the same.
What are you doing New Years – New Years Eve.
(Treacly old song sung by a loser)

Wendy keeps asking me: “So, what do you think 2009 will be like? What would you like to see happen?”

I hate that sort of question, and usually respond with some smartass quip like: “I’d like to keep breathing,” or, “I hope I can continue to look at the blossoms rather than the bulbs.” In other words, I don’t like making future plans. This drives her nuts. She likes to speculate on what she would like to see fall into place.

Nothing wrong with that, per se. But, I think it’s a mug’s game. I subscribe, tiresome bastard that I am, to the philosophy that holds: Expectations are premeditated resentments.

Wendy hates that response even more than I hate questions about future fortunes, or lack thereof.

You see, I learned long ago that virtually nothing turns out the way you expect it will, or hope it will. It simply turns out the way it does, and I have no control over that.

I used to have expectations and fantasies about my future. I wanted to be ever so well respected in whatever I turned my hand to; possibly even slightly famous. I wanted to be well-loved and even revered. I wanted to have pots of money that would have been earned only by me doing something I loved. I wanted to have yummy sex with whichever females I fancied. I wanted to meet the ‘one-and-only’ then and fall agonizingly in love with her and she with me, and to live happily ever after with this one person. I then wanted to die at an excessively advanced age having been the picture of health and virility all my days up until then.

That was what my expectations looked like. I then adjusted them over the years when things didn’t seem to be panning out in the manner I’d ‘expected’. And at different times nasty things happened, and that ‘one-and-only’ was nothing of the sort, so then there were ‘others-and-only’, but they worked out even worse and even the sex wasn’t quite as ‘yummy’ as it was in my imaginings. Eventually I ended up deflated and depressed at the way life had unfolded. It looked nothing like I imagined it to hold in store when I was 20.

But then I discovered a great secret. That secret was to have no expectations whatsoever; to just let the days unfold as they will. I don’t mean to suggest that life should be utterly irresponsible with no look to the future. You know, you’ve gotta pay the bills; get the car serviced, and put a new roof on if one seems to be needed. I do look to the future in terms o maintaining what must be maintained, including the serenity of the household and the well-being of my beloved ‘current-and-only-life-partner’.

But otherwise, I let it unfold. It’s kind of fun. It makes life more of a great mystery, which is really what it is – and what it should be if you just let it.

So, what do I expect to see happen in 2009? I have no idea. And I am happy about that.

What am ‘I’ doing New Years Eve? Giving thanks that whoever controls this stuff allowed me to get another year in, and has left me with the slight hope I get a further one. This works for me.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blessings of the season to all my friends hither and yon

I have stuff to do over the next little while, so I flagrantly purloined this from Jazz who lifted it (for much the same reason as I did) from A Little Off Kilter. Thank you, ladies. No wonder I hold you both in such high esteem.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I’m a guy. Guys don’t gift-wrap. At least they don’t gift wrap in a manner that suggests some sort of esthetic grace. So, gift bags for sure. Actually, this year we are going ‘green’ since I heard that gift wrap does not break down nicely. So, we’re using newspaper. Aren’t you proud of us? Me, I just got a letter from Al Gore praising me.

2. Real tree or artificial?I love real trees, but a few years ago we opted for a smallish artificial one and I’ve never really regretting the decision. Less mess and it looks fine.

3. When do you put up the tree? About a week before the 25th. And keep it up until Jan. 2nd.

4. When do you take the tree down? Oops, just answered that one.

5. Do you like eggnog? I don’t mind it, but the commercial stuff compares not at all with good homemade. My Aunt Freda made the finest eggnog on the planet, all with whipped-cream and other artery clogging substances just designed as a gift for family members who felt their cholesterol count was too low.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? For Christmas when I was 5 I asked Santa to bring me a windup paddlewheeler and a flashlight. I have no idea why. Yet, I still remember those specific gifts. I also remember I was sick for the kindergarten Christmas party that same year so Santa came by – in full regalia – driving a Chev. No sleigh at all. That was disappointing.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Wendywendywendywendy. Not that she’s pernickety, I just know that she is a woman of strong tastes in certain directions and I hate to disappoint.

8. Easiest person to buy for? In past context, my ex, Trudy. Anything girly and outrageously expensive worked for her.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail to friends far away. Email or nothing for close-at-hand. I still like getting cards.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? There have been some that I haven’t cared for all that much, or that I didn’t really like at the time. My stolidly and hypocritical Presbyterian paternal grandmother was great on religious treatises like a Bible, prayer book, etc. Charmed me little. Yet now I rather value having them.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The 1950 British film of A Christmas Carol (called Scrooge in the UK) staring the inimitable Alastair Sim as the old Christmas curmudgeon himself. Nobody was ever better in the role, and it has been a must for me every Christmas since I was about 10. I also like (but am tired of) It’s a Wonderful Life. I do a killer Lionel Barrymore impression from that film. There is also a British film called The Holly and the Ivy which concerns a Christmas gathering of dysfunctional adult children. It’s kind of grim in essence, but ultimately a strong message comes through. And, A Christmas Story especially for Darren McGavin.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? As close to the day as I can get away with. Like most males I detest Christmas shopping, the crowds, the acquisitive stupidity and so forth. It holds no pleasure for me.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I recall..

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Not turkey, which I think is highly overrated and nasty to digest. Last year we did prime rib, which was heavenly. As a nod to the francophone side of this country, I love tourtiere. And Wendy makes a killer crème brulee, which I begin to anticipate in about October. And, if I have been to Hawaii the previous year I always bring back a can of Ed and Don’s macadamia nut brittle which I save for Christmas.

16. Lights on the tree? Of course. A combo of little fairy lights and some more recent small LED lights.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I am so tired of Christmas songs by this point that I am almost ready to puke if I hear another. Traditionally, though I like the classical Christmas carols by the Kings College Choir of Cambridge, or some other wonderful choir and a mammoth pipe organ must provide the music or it’s no good. Otherwise, I like Bobby Helms’ Jingle Bell Rock, der Bingle’s White Christmas, the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York (featuring the heavenly and adored voice of sadly lamented and loved Kirsty MacColl), and Elvis’s Blue Christmas.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Would kill to be away at Christmas. Someplace warm where Christmas is not a big deal. Family gatherings out-of-town? Not so much. Now that Wendy and I are both orphans we don’t need to do that any more.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Of course I can, but I’m not going to bother. But, let’s get one thing straight. I saw one of them in an advertisement referred to as ‘Donner’. It’s DonDer, folks. Buncha morons, I tell ya.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? An old Father Christmas kind of guy with a long white beard and golden robe.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning, always. My ex was Swedish and they did it Christmas Eve. I thought that sucked because it made Christmas morning an anti-climax. Mind you, life with her was kind of an anti-climax anyway, but enough about that.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Virtually everything I can think of except for the things I like, which I have already indicated. Yet, I long for Jan. 2 so that all the nonsense will be over.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Some things we’ve picked up on our travels. Otherwise, they don’t excite me too much. Wendy has a snowman kind of home craft thing that I utterly detest. But, it gets trotted out regardless each and every year. That’s OK. Wouldn’t be Christmas without that ugly bit of crap.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Virtually anything but turkey, as I have indicated. I must confess, though, that I love turkey sandwiches and turkey soup. This year we are doing Cornish game hens. And I already mentioned the crème brulee.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Survival. Except for that, we both have pretty much all that we need, and considering the bleak existences of some, we have way more than we need, or even want. I do try to share, but probably don’t devote enough time to so doing.

Merry Christmas and/or Happy Hanukkah to all my blogger friends wherever you might be. Follow your hearts and have a blessed season.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Little known myths and truisms about the Yuletide season

Just when you thought life was too dangerous to be bearable, I am here to offer you some comforting news, just as a kind of Christmas gift from me to you.

An article in a recent issue of the Globe and Mail offers the reader a bit of enlightenment that has come about due to legitimate scientific experimentation. Consequently, you are now free to do away with some widely held myths this Christmastime.

Here are the results of the G&M study:

- Poinsettias are not poisonous: Poinsettias are at worst widely overdone at Christmas and are really not all that pretty and should best be studied in the places where they grow, like Mexico, Hawaii and other tropical climes. But, there is also a longstanding belief that even a nibble on a petal would result in immediate and agonizing death. In fact, recent studies have shown you could scarf a boxcarload of them and suffer no ill-effects. Such a finding, however, does not make them particularly beautiful.

- Suicides are not more prevalent at Christmas: Newspaper folks, cops and medical parishioners have always been in accord with the poet who attested that April is the cruellest month. In truth, the desire to off oneself comes with the balmy days of spring, for whatever reason. While the Christmas season may bring about some genuine despair, the final solution seems to be rarely sought.

- Sugar does not make kids hyperactive: It rots their teeth and can expedite Type 2 diabetes, but if they are tearing around the house and damaging the bric-a-brac it is probably because they’re undisciplined little jerks.

- There are magical hangover cures: There are not, period. The only cure is time and by God you will suffer during that time. Self-inflicted injuries have penalties, so live with it or learn to drink moderately.

- You do not lose the majority of your body heat through the top of your head: Everybody believes this one, but it just ain’t so, say researchers. If you went out in sub-zero weather with a hat on, but no pants, you would lose just as much body heat through your legs. You would also probably be arrested.

Space limitations precluded the G&M covering ‘all’ the myths and misapprehensions that about this time of year. So, as a service to my faithful readers, I am about to fill you in on the items that did not make it. Consider if you will (said in a Rod Serling voice, if you choose) the matter of the following:

- Simply three successive playings of the Twelve Days of Christmas has been proved to render laboratory rats suicidally depressed. However, the Little Drummer Boy need only be played twice to render those same rats insane.

- Commercial eggnog is passed by food safety inspectors provided it contains not in excess of 28 percent industrial waste.

- A sex act with a non-spouse if carried out under mistletoe does not constitute adultery in the eyes of some churches. Federal law, however, forbids the naming of those churches.

- In Belgium it is illegal for children to arise earlier than 7 a.m. on Christmas morning. The state can seize children who violate this regulation, and their parents can and will be arrested.

- It is common knowledge that there exists in the world only one certifiable Christmas cake, and that it has been sent by mail from recipient to recipient throughout the western world since 1627. At the end of the Yuletide season it is returned to the Tower of London where it is kept next to the Crown Jewels until the following October. In 1747 one Percy Warbeck of Coventry was beheaded for slicing off a little chunk and suggesting he actually liked it.

- The Queen’s favorite Christmas song is the dogs barking Jingle Bells and she demands that it be played at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve. The dogs are, of course, all corgis trained by Her Majesty. Refusal by an archbishop to carry out this mandate can and has resulted in beheading or banishment to the Antipodes.

- The actual Little Town of Bethlehem in Israel is also known as the Cleveland of the Holy Land and was, prior to the rise of computers, the Wite-Out manufacturing capital of the world. Computers are still deemed blasphemies by the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.

- In Britain, Canada and much of the Commonwealth, December 26th is known as Boxing Day. This is a day devoted to unfettered brawling in the streets and pubs with no penalties. It’s a great stress reducer.

- In the State of Pennsylvania it is mandatory for families to invite the most loathed members for Christmas dinner and it is also compulsory to bond and fake having a good time. If said good time does not ensue, the loathed cousin, aunt or whoever, can report the family which will be forced to forego all Christmas activities for the ensuing five years.

There are no doubt more popular myths and also a few truisms about the season that I've missed. Whatever the case, may you all have a wonderful one.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just leave Father Christmas alone you PC weasels

As far as important dates in the Christian calendar are concerned, Christmas was always well down the list. In that respect people shouldn’t get excessively distressed about the secularization of the December 25th season. Those early monks and martyrs paid it no heed but instead saved their fealty energies for Easter. Easter and Good Friday are the genuine biggies for those who believe in the Christian story.

In fact, Christmas as we have come to either love or loathe it really doesn’t go back much further than Victorian times when Teutonic consort Prince Albert brought a lot of German traditions across the Channel.

It was given a further boost by Charles Dickens with A Christmas Carol. Good old Ebenezer, the only guy in the tale with any gumption, and he’s the one that gets reviled. Oh, well. Anyway, the fact that Scrooge pays no heed to Christmas was not out of the ordinary in the England of 1843, when the book was published. The fact that whining Bob Cratchit wants the ‘whole day’ off would have been quite out-of-keeping in most workplaces of the time, so Scrooge was probably possibly correct in being contemptuous of his seemingly indolent clerk.

As we know, once the Christmas concept was marketed it simply took off. Churches, of course, attempted to quell the rampant commercial extravagance of the season by reminding their parishioners and others of the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas, which was a celebration of the birth of Christ. Yes, the Christ thing was nice, and the Three Wise Men, and shepherds watching their flocks and all, and pretty, semi-sacred songs, but what most people really embraced was the Teutonic Kris Kringle thing. Yes, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Jolly old St. Nick, and stockings hung by the chimney with care. That was really what all and sundry came to cherish.

At the same time, there arose a grumpy-pants battalion of those who felt Christmas, as we’d come to see it was nothing more than a testament to greed. Parents and others were driven into penury trying to satiate the gaping maws of greedy kids who wanted more-more-more. Newspapers came to be filled with heart-rending tales of poor families in which the kids weren’t getting’ nuthin’ and for which you should feel really bad and cough up a few toys and a few bucks, and then with clear conscience you could forget about them for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, there have always been those individuals whose memories of Christmases past were not cheery. They recalled nasty times of alcohol abuse, family rows, never getting the toys requested, and so forth. Crisis lines exist for those people, as do chock-a-block filled shrink wards, detox facilities, and jails.

Do my comments suggest that I want to kill Christmas, too? Not at all. While there are aspects of the ‘season’ I detest, there are others that I value. Periodically I have even been known to attend a church service on Christmas eve because I love carols by a choir and some of the pageantry of it all. In that I wish we had a cathedral in our town with a massive pipe organ. Powerful organs (of the pipe variety, that is) can bring a tear to my eye. Anyway, I think in a world of too much weariness and travail, we need whatever festivities we can muster, and Christmas is one of those festive things that can take us from the mundane.

But, there are those who carry it all to an extreme. I read of a bunch of elementary teachers in England who want to obliterate all references to Father Christmas, not to mention any Christian messages in order to avoid offending ethnic minorities. To them I would ask, did any of those minorities actually ask you to do this? Furthermore, do you also refrain from references to Ramadan and Passover? I bet not. Situational PCs are offensive to all concerned, so get a grip.

Secondly, and more importantly, I will offer a suggestion. If Christmas means nothing to you and therefore gives you leave to steal it from children, why do you take that Christmas vacation? Why not give it up and just go to work as you normally would.

Bunch of killjoys and PC fascists that you are.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Call them what you want, they're still the best harbingers of Christmas

In those days they didn’t show up until around the beginning of December. The marketers hadn’t yet succeeded in pushing yuletide merchandizing back to mid-October.

As it was then, Christmas was Christmas and like all good things you were expected to wait and wait. Not always so easy for a kid. But then, in the first week of December grocery stores would suddenly be filled with little pinewood boxes. Within those boxes (that made wonderful kindling when chopped up later) was row-upon-row of turquoise paper-wrapped seasonal citrus delights.

Now, I must confess something here. There was no such thing as political rectitude when I was a kid. The use of certain terminologies didn’t immediately label one to be bigoted and nasty. Couldn’t have in my case. My parents, to my ongoing gratitude did not have a racist bone in their respective bodies, and to speak disparagingly of someone due to their heritage meant that severe punishment would be meted out. If the ‘N-word’ was to ever be uttered, that was deemed worse than any profanity. For their stance I am grateful.

At the same time, I am referring to a period not too long after World War Two. Consequently, the fruits to which I am referring were always called ‘Jap Oranges’. We knew no other term. Well, maybe Japanese Oranges, but usually Jap Oranges. “Ian, go down to the box and get a Jap Orange for your school lunch.”

Later, at university, I asked a Japanese-Canadian friend what they called them when he was a kid: “Jap oranges,” was his reply.

Later, of course, they were christened ‘Mandarin’ oranges, and even Satsumas. And now not all Mandarins come from Japan, but many are from China, and some even Korea. I think the Korean ones should be called ‘Hyundai’ Oranges.

And now, as I said at the beginning, the damn things appear in the stores in October, even September, so that bit of seasonal sparkle ahs been taken away. They are now in crappy cardboard boxes, and the individual oranges are no longer wrapped. Just not the same.

Not the same except in taste and aroma; they taste like Christmas. And the fragrance is only to be surpassed by the Noel-like pong of a freshly cut fur Christmas tree. And, as compared with regular oranges, they peel ridiculously easily. I might also mention, as a little-known Mandarin factoid, if you squeeze the peel and hold a match under it, you can light the oil that squirt out. Maybe this might be suggested as an alternative fuel?

Because of those things, I only acquire my Mandarins after the first of December regardless of when the stores want to push them on us.

Some things are too sacred to be trifled with.


Monday, December 15, 2008

In the jungle, stalking the wild piggies

Pigs are the Rodney Dangerfields of the mammalian world.

They don’t get no respect.

In truth I had never given much thought to creatures of the porcine persuasion for much of my life. When I was in university I used to have to park way out by the pig barns of the agricultural college. They smelled evil. And that was the extent of my interaction with them – an eye-watering wake-up excursion past their vile paddocks.

So, you see I didn’t respect them either. Not that I was averse to bacon, for example. Who of non-Semitic calling is antagonistic to a sinfully unhealthy Sunday morning repast? And, a good roast of pork with applesauce and hot mustard – heavenly. Nothing much better than a good ham with scalloped potatoes on the side.

Yes, I did respect them as culinary fare. But, I didn’t much fancy their sense of decorum or attitude to personal freshness, so I disregarded them as creatures.

That changed for me in 2001.

Way up in the jungle of Rarotonga in the heavenly Cook Islands I had a tiny epiphany about pigs. The Raro jungle is exquisite. It’s all lush and viney and Tarzan-ish. It looks exactly as a jungle in a tropical clime should look. Bonus is there are no snakes, few evil insects (other than mosquitoes that might transmit dengue fever (but a good dousing of heavy deet repellent keeps those bastards at bay), and, oh my, no lions or tigers (or bears), and a few of the ubiquitous mynahs that have destroyed much of the wonderful native bird population of the island – alas.

Anyway, it was there, as we strolled a lovely trail, revelling in the enchantment of the place, and keeping a wary eye heavenward each time we passed under a heavily laden coconut palm (those things can kill you), we passed by a remote pig farm. Why not put it out there? The stink won’t offend any neighbors, and there are no predators.

We looked down from the path at the big porkers going about the business of getting fat for the slaughter (sigh; almost immediately the thought of Sunday’s bacon was a little less appealing for a guy as susceptible to guilt as I am) and continued on our way. Then we heard a scurrying in the underbrush. We looked closely and up popped three little pink heads with ears sticking straight up. They stared at us for a few minutes and then with a squeal that was virtually a screech, two of them, their twisty little tails behind them, scurried frantically down the path toward the farm and (they’d been lulled into thinking) safety. One little guy, however, was braver than the other two. Li’l Mr. Alpha Piggy was going to stand his ground. That lasted for about 10 seconds, after which he, with similar squeal, also evacuated for the piggery.

There are many pigs on Raro. We had a trio on the beach path from our condo. Mama sow was a tethered porker. They do that on the island. They secure a hind foot with a rope and then they set the pig loose on that long lead to root and expel pig poop and thus to cultivate and fertilize a field. The next season it will be planted and the pig will be expedited to another fallow bit of ground. I was of mixed mind as to whether the tethering was cruel. She didn’t seem to mind.

Mrs. Pig (Petunia?) was possessed of three piglets that were just on the verge of leaving the safety of the teat and learning to forage for themselves. There were two females and a strutting boy. He was the bravest of the trio. After a couple of weeks of my walking by he would actually tentatively approach me.

Over the weeks I grew quite attached and realized that pigs have distinct personalities. I got fond of them and did not want to think of their ultimate fate as chops or (adding insult to injury) pork rinds. Pigs, you see, are extremely intelligent and probably more in the realm of dolphins in cerebral acumen than just mere dogs and cats. They can, it is said, be housebroken in a couple of days, and will readily learn their names. If we really considered pigs from humane perspective they likely wouldn’t be considered a source of bacon.

But, we’re situational when it comes to animal esthetics (let’s face it, we are with humans; pretty folk get more breaks than homely ones) so we love our kittens and puppies, but not pigs. A friend, a high school biology teacher, once suggested that if those fluffy baby seals on the Newfoundland ice floes looked like warthogs rather than the big-eyed cuties that they are, nobody would give a damn or be rallying to their defence.

Sadly, I think he’s correct.

But me. I got new respect for pigs when I went to the South Pacific. Alas, I also still eat bacon. Not a lot, but some.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Sorry -- can't make it. Whatever night it is I'll be washing my hair

Some people like to rock some people like to roll
But movin' and a groovin' gonna satisfy my soul
Let's have a party ooh let's have a party

One of the really pleasant aspects of not having a full-time job is that I will never-ever have to undergo the rigors of an office party at any time.

Christmas season is, for whatever reason, the time of the hideous gathering of co-workers at all levels in the business hierarchy, throw them all in an assembly place, ply them with huge quantities of booze, feed them with crappy rubber-chicken meals, punctuated with assorted hors d’ouevre (hors de combat, I say) and demand that they have a good time with one another.

In the first place there is a fatal flaw in the scenario. The assumption is that everybody that works together wants to play together. Nonsense. I have always had colleagues who became friends, and I would socialize with them, regardless. As for the rest, they were just colleagues. In fact, and this is invariably the case, I didn’t even like some of them.

The merriment of Mr. Fezziwig’s jolly Christmas party is a piece of Dickens fiction, not real life. And the fact that such gatherings are de facto 'compulsory' makes the concept even ghastlier.

In the second place, there is an assumption that there is something ‘matey’ and democratic about killing the pecking order so that folk can have fun together. This is balderdash. The boss is still the boss even if he/she well into his/her cups tells a subordinate all the sordid details of said boss’s personal life. Come Monday the subordinate will find that the old order has not changed at all. This moment will be especially poignant for the dude who decided at the party it might be cool to put moves on Mr. Big’s 20-years-younger bimbo wife.

I had a female subordinate at my newspaper who, there is no question, ‘liked’ me. I never gave her any encouragement in that direction, and I honestly liked her and respected her in a boss-subordinate manner. She was talented and accomplished at what she did.

But, at the annual Christmas party she would drink. She and alcohol were not a good combination. When she got drunk she would decide it was high time she declare her passion for me. Indeed, she would even try to demonstrate her passion for me. She would ask me to dance and grind her pelvic bone into me and try to wetly kiss me at every chance she got. In fact, she was so overt that my wife of the day wasn’t even offended because she knew my colleague was drunk and meant no threat. I, however, found it a tad embarrassing. Being publicly humped by a co-worker in open view does tend to mortify. Even in private, if such attentions are unsought, it's distressing.

Of course, come Monday she would be filled with remorse and apologize profusely. I would always be forgiving and tell her there was no cause for concern. I would say that because I wanted to keep her as an assistant and also because I knew that next year the scenario would be re-enacted. Kind of in the nature of parties, alas.

Those particular parties were back in the days when I still hoisted a few. Though even then, as a mid-manager, I was always pretty circumspect about my consumption at office parties just so I didn’t make a buffoon of myself and give people something (more) to gossip about. When I began seeing the female colleague who was to become my second wife they already had mucho fodder for gossip.

(Someday, by the way, I’ll write about how office romances – even when the parties are unencumbered by spouses etc. – are never-ever-ever a good idea.)

Later, when I quit drinking about 12 years ago, workplace shindigs became truly obnoxious. And, more than that, they became horribly boring. This only led me to believe they had always been boring and people only drank too much to alleviate that reality. Imposed merriment never works.

Yet still, the parties go on. Yet still people get polluted, make passes at those they shouldn’t, fool themselves that they are having a grand time and then, well over the limit, they get into their vehicles and drive home.

Hopefully they get there.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Qwerty' rules, but the rest was all a big waste of time

I had a moment of revelation a decade and a bit ago when my stepdaughter asked me to lend her a hand in balancing some equations for her high school chemistry course.

I immediately went into blind-panic overdrive at her request: Chemistry! I thought. Damn, I want to look good and ever so wise in her eyes, so why did she have to ask me for help with a course I tanked in? A course I never did get! But, I thought, I’ll accede to her request. Maybe I can somehow fake it.

And so I did. And within minutes a concept that had been alien to me – balancing chemical formulae – became vividly clear. It was so logical. It all made fine sense. I could help her with her homework and she was none the wiser. Amazing what little age and acquired wisdom can give a body.

So, no, I was not good at chemistry. I hated it. It bored me back then. So did mathematics, French, English grammar, woodworking, gym (oh, how I hated gym; it still upsets my stomach thinking about it). OK, time to come clean: I hated the whole goddamn thing. I detested high school and still conclude that anybody with a lick of common sense also had to detest high school or there is something wrong with them.

You see, for its clientele, high school is irrelevant. It does not address the priorities of (in my case) a lad’s life. My priorities were: angst about not having a cool car; angst about not being as cool as I wanted to be; angst about the 50 or 60 girls with whom I definitely wanted to have sexual intercourse (I was successful with ‘none’ of them, I am finally prepared to go on record about this); angst about how my biggest crushee ‘wasn’t really into me’ and anxiety about what I was going to do after I flunked literally everything by the end of my senior year.

I was a mess.

All high school students are messes, and schools do a shabby job of addressing that reality. I know, for I wasn’t just a student, I was also a high school teacher. Which, by the way, offers some evidence that I didn’t actually flunk everything in my senior year.

The problem for me lay with that aforementioned irrelevance of my course material. I wasn’t going to be a chemist, so why did I want chemistry? Likewise, I had no aspirations in the direction of being a mathematician, or anything related, like an engineer, accountant (math and boredom captured in a single professional calling). Was I going to become fluently bilingual living out on Canada’s west coast? Hardly. I think at last count there were 17 francophone Canadians west of the Rockies. And hey, when I went to France, I actually found I could get by and did not need to discuss the writings of Sartre in the non-translated versions, and no residents of Grenoble were remotely interested in discussing gerunds.

So, at the end of it all I came to a profound conclusion: all my high school courses were a waste of my precious puberty with the exception of one: Typing!

One year I had a spare block. I had to fill it. I decided on typing. I decided on typing for two reasons: 1) It wouldn’t be a bad skill to have and 2) Many, many, many girls took typing (see my earlier references to sexual intercourse as a motivation factor).

The typing teacher was a kind of nasty crone who was charmless and wore way too much make-up. I was lousy at the task and spent a lot of time looking around. Meanwhile, and this was a bit daunting, the typewriters we used had blacked out letters. Yes, folks, welcome to ‘qwerty’, the wide world of touch-typing.

But, even if by the end of the year my word count was up to about 7 wpm, I have never regretted it. How could I have been a newspaper guy without being about to touch type? Now my word count is probably about 75 wpm (no, not error-free, but I’m no longer being graded)

So, aside from the fact that typing has enabled me to earn a living for many years, it was also a godsend at university because I did not need to hire somebody to type my essays, and I could even make a few shekels by typing the essays of others.

My high school years would have been a great success if I’d only had to concentrate on typing. After all, it was the only course of real value I took. Virtually all other knowledge I have I have acquired since my HS years.

What course did you take in school that has helped you in life more than all others?


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Go ahead and vent, compadres, it'll do us all a world of good

The joke question once was: How do you tell a Canadian? He’s the guy who, if he bumps into a coffee table, apologizes to the table.

Too often I tend to agree with sentiment of the gag, and it depresses me to know that it’s true much of the time.

Americans are accused of being brasher than we Canadians are and certain Canadians (I stress ‘certain’) use this misapprehension to give themselves a sense of moral superiority rather than a perceived wimpiness.

Invariably I have found the Americans with whom I have dealt in my travels and assorted interchanges to be polite and gracious. The difference, however, is that those in the US are less inclined to take crap from people – especially people in power.

In my experience I have always found the English to be much blunter and more forthright than Americans, to the extent of being downright rude on some occasions. Usually charmingly so, but rude nevertheless.

The point remains, however, that Canadian politeness and resignation over decisions made by our politicians, bureaucrats, plutocrats, judges and all other manner of poltroons has been significantly self-defeating and shameful. In that I have periodically voiced the sentiment that: “It’s too bad we’re not more inclined to adopt the fine old American custom of political assassination.” I say it waggishly – somewhat.

But, last week and through the weekend my compatriots did me proud. Finally, finally Canadians were pissed off enough to let others know they were MAAAAAD! It was heavenly to see. I am not about to get into sides on the issue. I have my beliefs and others have theirs and probably never shall the twain meet, but that’s OK. That’s democracy. And Canadians stood up to unmistakabley let the players in the nation's capital know that we consider them 'all' to be talentless bozos having no right to be exercising their will over a people who had heretofore trusted in you. Yes, your 'all' might be different from mine but, like I said, democracy in a free nation.

How dare the political bosses and their minions? For shame all, absolutely all of you, regardless of your party affiliations. For shame for the hubris that led you to say “Fuck you” to a nation.

I say this in a non-partisan manner. I have my beliefs as I suggest and possibly think that some players are more sinister (and stupid) than others, but nobody comes out with the fragrance of roses in this other than the put-upon and formerly too trusting Canadian public.

From coast-to-coast during the weekend Canadians on both sides of the equation attended rallies and demonstrations stating their case and their belief that no politician has the right to tamper with this democracy. It was heartening and I hope the message was clear for the inhabitants of the Corridors of Ineptitude, Hubris, Self-Seeking and Divisiveness. The crap you foisted on us all will not be easily forgotten.

Over the last month Canadians have looked southward and have marvelled at both the success and fence-mending skills of your President-elect. May he succeed in all he is trying to attempt for he sets the watermark of what voters should be seeking. It’ll take Mr. Obama a while to offset the ghastliness of the Bush years, but most Canadians believe it will happen and will take comfort in that right alongside you. May some of that spill over north of the border.

In my pique I’ll also make mention of the lazy bastards in Canada who couldn’t get off their fat asses to vote in the last federal election: In the first place, shut up. And secondly realize that your role in our federal debacle was huge, so learn to live up to your responsibilities. Maybe then our so-called leaders will not get off the hook so easily in future.

Phew, glad that's off my chest. Now I can go back to being polite and apologizing to tables.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sorry, God, but it just doesn't seem right/or seething resentment by me

Expectations are premeditated resentments

In continuing with my quest to become one of the finest human beings to have every walked the planet I realize I still haven’t made the living saint grade when it comes to ‘resentment.’

When resentment still rears its ugly head once in a while I get exasperated with myself. That’s because I detest ‘poor me’ people and I don’t want to be associated with them.

And I like to think ‘my’ God doesn’t like them, either. God hates whiners. By the way, my God looks like the Michelangelo Sistine Chapel God who touches Adam’s finger. I don’t know why, but mainly because that is what I’d like God to look like. Sort of like Ronnie Hawkins but slimmer.

“So, not happy wit’ what ya got? Take dat den!” says my God. My God has a Brooklyn accent when he feels he has to sound tough. Otherwise, it’s good old New Testament parlance. No, not with the ‘thees and thous and begats’, that’s English from the time of King James, but ancient Hebrew chat. Nobody can understand that much any more, so that’s why he goes to Brooklyn. He thinks it sounds cool and really digs Joe Pesci.

Anyway, enough theological digression, and back to resentment.

My resentment this week comes from the news I heard that somebody I know has had a book published. That really bites. I mean, I am usually happy for authors who get their stuff published, but in this case I’m resentful. I’m resentful because I know this guy. I won’t elaborate on how I do, but I am pretty familiar with his ‘skill-set’ as a writer. Familiar yet never impressed. By ‘never impressed’ I mean he is nowhere near as good at this soul-destroying, solitary craft as am I.

In saying this, I don’t mean to infer that he is a nasty or unintelligent person, for that would be true. It’s just that he never impressed me as much of a writer, so why in hell does he have a book published before I do? Whatever he wrote certainly couldn’t be more effective than my prose. I know it couldn’t be. I used to see the stuff he did years ago.

So, I have been left with a simmering and seething resentment. Do I hate him for meeting with a modicum of success? Not at all. I am happy for him. My resentment lies more in the direction of my own ego that tends to take rejection badly and tells me that just because a manuscript has been rejected by, say, seven publishers, then I must give up. My work is obviously inferior and how dare I impose such drivel on a self-respecting publisher? On the other hand, if I were to learn that my friend had his MS accepted after only sending it off to five publishers, I am going to be really pissed.

I also know I can be just the tiniest bit lazy about this whole publishing business. After I have done all the dog work of writing the book, painstakingly editing it, exhorting Wendy to equally painstakingly edit it, making whatever revisions are called for, and so forth, I feel I have done 'my' job and in truth publishers should be knocking my door down.

Unfortunately, that doesn't happen very much at all to virtually any writer. Publishers are self-involved bastards that believe that writers should kiss their pretty bums and approach them cap in hand, always. Well, I do a bit of the obsequious and smarmy stuff, and then grow weary of it. That is why at least two completed manuscripts are collecting electronic dust on my hard drive and on CD Roms while other jerks are getting published. RESENTMENT, I tell ya.

Back to my ego. I do tend to take rejection badly, no matter how long I’ve been in the writing business. I forget that other writers of note have had stuff rejected by, in some cases, hundreds of publishers before they meet with acceptance and a genuine blockbuster is released to avid readers.

I also must consider the wisdom of my initial premise which means I should never send off something with expectations.

I always do.



Thursday, December 04, 2008

No time for boredom as I still have lots to do

My 99

Lovely LA Liz of Los Angelista sent this meme along my way. It made me realize I still have a lot to do before I shuffle off this mortal coil. OK, there are some I have no desire to do – like sky-diving or bungee jumping. As a friend whose adventurous adult daughter convinced Mom to join her in a skydive said: “Unless you have some weird desire to publicly soil yourself, give it a miss.” I heeded her words. Anyway, as follows are my 99. If you want to play, simply put the ones you’ve done in boldface.

1. Started your own blog (that's how you're reading this list!)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo (In the shower)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris (I guess passing through Chuck de Gaulle Airport in a train doesn’t really count.)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (Many times in both Europe and Canada)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (Once, and I was riddled with guilt and never did it again,)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (Once, in 1991)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (I am ashamed to admit)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (and in the sun and under the stars)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I’m a boy)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (my bunny)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (highly overrated) 7
2. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (do grouse count? Would never do it now, though)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (Having been in the newspaper biz, too numerous to list)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one (too many)
94. Had a baby (Not that anybody has told me of. Phew!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

While Liz tagged me for this, I think I am going to throw it wide open rather than suggest. I recommend trying it however because it is, at the very least, amusing. I have a hard time tagging because there are so many people whose answers would interest me and I don’t want to narrow it down. I hope you do it though because I look forward to seeing your answers.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oh all right, whatever it will be. Satisfied?

My times they are a-changin’.

Of late I have been working diligently to follow the premise of ‘letting go.’ It’s working OK. Not perfectly, but it’s still better for me, and so much more logical. It’s a big and nasty world and there is little I can do to fix it. It’s not always easy, but in that I go back to the remarkable wisdom of the Serenity Prayer: About 20 times a day when things haven’t been going right.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference

If that isn’t sufficient for you, I can give you the same thing in Hawaiian, in case you’re feeling in a certain vacation spirit.

E ke Akua Mana Loa, E ha’awi mai I ka maluhia
E ‘ae m ai I na mea I hiki ‘ole ai ia’u ke ho’ololi,
Ka ikaika e ho’ololi ai I na mea hiki ai,
A me ka na’auao e maopopo ai ka ‘oko’a.

Cool. Now I feel better in two languages, my at-home one and my vacation one.

So, what are the things I cannot change and therefore should not be lying awake or dealing with a zero libido, loss of appetite, plumbing distress, palpitations, prickly heat or diaper rash over? Why, damn near everything. But, specifically?

- the economy, other than my own sensible regard over my resources

- international politics. The bastards will do what they want to do regardless of what I might think, and regardless of how senseless and even suicidal their behaviors are.

- Domestic politics. Currently, despite the boneheadedness of Canadian politicians of all stripes – and may they all go to hell in my esteem for not having even the slightest inkling of what democracy actually means and what a vote actually means (hey, we voted for these guys because we hate your guts) – I have done just one little thing. I sent off a letter to the Governor General requesting a general election. Other than that I can do no more.

- The plight – deserved or otherwise – of the Big 3 automakers. Quite frankly I don’t really care for their travails except for the fact we’re talking jobs and local economies here, folks. Then I could, if I let myself, get all Michael Moore-ish.

- The impending demise of the Spotted Owl. Haven’t ever killed no spotted owls, and that’s about the best I can do.

Now, the courage to change the things I can department. That I can do if I choose to. If any of those elements that follow are causing me distress then it is my call to rectify them. If I don’t, then I have no right to whine and I equally have no mandate to blame anybody else. So, what are those?

- taking care of my health and making whatever changes might be needed to continue to thrive.

- Extending gestures of love and affection to those nearest and dearest.

- Doing what I can to give back to my community which, for all its flaws, has generally treated me well.

- Letting go of people and practices of my past if there is no reason to continue with either.

- Coming to realize that just because I wouldn’t do a certain negative thing to another, it doesn’t mean they won’t do those things to me.

- Accepting that.

- Letting go of guilt.

- Letting go of things that might invoke guilt, including the fun things. Realistically those fun things are the most guilt-inducing.

- Not internalizing imagined slights from people I might cherish. Could be they’re having a bad day.

- Or, it could be they don’t love me as much as I might fancy I love them.

- Keeping c’est la vie, que sera, and shit happens in prominent places in my working lexicon.

I plan to have a good day. Hope you do as well.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Or, should it be Dr. 'Whom'?

For the legions of Dr. Who fans worldwide this is a stressful time. The angst arises with the sure knowledge that the charmingly flamboyant David Tennant is leaving the role (by his own choice) and there will yet be another actor to pick up the ‘screwdriver, board the Tardis and gallivant through the universe, time and space with possibly another charming female in tow.

Who will it be? Rumors abound. I mean, this is something like the 273rd or incarnation of the Time Lord – or it seems like that – and the assorted Dr. Whos through the decades since the 1960s have all put their own imprint on the character. The fact that so many have played the lead character in a series makes Dr. Who unique in this respect (and in so many other respects, as well). It would have been like allowing various actors to play Captain Kirk or Mr. Spock. It really wouldn’t have worked. Granted there have been assorted James Bonds over the years, but that is in films.

Of course, there was the matter of the 2nd Darren in Bewitched. No explanation was given, yet suddenly there was another guy playing Darren Stevens, getting to snuggle-bunny with the luscious Liz Montgomery and it was assumed nobody would bat an eye. They did. Darren #2 just didn’t do it for a lot of us – like me, for example. Nope, I was a ‘good’ Darren (Dick York) buff all the way. Evil Darren (Dick Sargent) didn’t even look like Good Darren, as you can see from the accompanying photos. Anyway, back to Dr. Who.

In the rumors floating around it has been suggested that it isn’t essential, what with changing times or mores, that the doctor needs must be a regular old Anglo-Saxon sort of bloke. He could be another ethnicity, for example. Why not a black Dr. Who? Would work fine for me. Maybe a rasta-embracing Jamaican to represent the changing demographic of the UK –Mon?
Or, a female? The name of the toothily toothsome and utterly gratuitously yummy Billie Piper has been vouchsafed. Why not? The comely Ms. Piper bopped around the universe with the doctor, so why couldn’t his soul morph into her. My heavens, makes me feel weak-in-the-knees thinking about that possibility.

I suppose we’re just going to have to wait to find out. Anyway, as it has stood over the years, virtually all the choices have assumed their own imprint and the fan base has never been hugely impacted. I suppose in the spirit of democracy, the Daleks, too, should have a voice in this, but I say to hell with them. They’re nothing but trouble, sort of like the Canadian Liberal Party.

I first happened upon Dr, Who when I was living in England in 1980-81. Stanley Baker was the personage at the helm of the Tardis back then. For some he was sort of a prototype of what the doctor should be, but I beg to differ. There is no prototype. He must be whatever personification he might assume. He is, after all, the Time Lord – literally a man for all seasons from the Alpha to the Omega.

In writing this I am probably sounding like a sci-fi geek. In truth I am not. Have never been much of a fan of the genre. I’ve read the odd book over the years and have seen a few films. The overblown Star Wars was fun the first time out, but it’s not really science fiction but a tale of knighthood not far removed from Camelot. Star Trek? Well, not a ‘trekkie’ here.

My point of departure lies with the whimsical and I still the brilliant Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker series. All the sci-fi elements are there, but in sardonic vein. Dr. Who is a bit similar. It has never been a follower of convention, so it works for me. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s even romantic. But, it can be horrific and nightmarish to the degree that lesser offerings pale in comparison.

So, all I can say is may Dr. Who go on and on in whatever form he/she/it might assume. But, I will miss David Tennant, I must confess.