Friday, February 27, 2009

Maybe we should go back to calling it 'rasslin'

I find the idea of wrestling as an entertainment (or activity) completely repulsive. The idea of being up that close and personal with another male’s sweaty armpit turns my stomach. The fact that he would be perpetrating personal mayhem on my while my nose was stuck in his pit, or someplace even more repulsive really does make my gorge rise.

Maybe I could wrestle a girl? I have wrestled girls, in fact. But that was when both had an entirely other objective in mind. Enough smut. Let’s move back to the whole wrestling thing.

I have never been a fan of wrestling. I think it’s all fakery and despite arguments to the contrary its defenders’ll never convince I I’ll never be convinced it’s anything but a sham sport. Indeed, as a sport, I would put professional wrestling on a par with roller derby. Entertaining in its way, but still just an entertainment.

That is why professional wrestling has superseded real wrestling. If you were to watch true wrestling of the sort they do at the Olympics you would be comatose with boredom in short order. It’s all about assorted holds, and nothing much more. There is no yelling of epithets, no challenges to the spectators, no garish costumes. Just holds.

I used to watch wrestling when I was about 12, when we first got TV. We knew it was fake even then, but we were 12 and we found it a hoot. This was in the glory days of Gorgeous George with his peignoirs and blonde ringlets. There was also Mr. Moto, who was a Japanese guy who really played dirty pool in the ring. The war was still within living memory of the adult audience, so the rotten little (you’ll pardon the expression) ‘Jap’ was fair game as a villain.

Then there were also the midgets. They weren’t called ‘Little Persons’ wrestlers, just midgets. They were fun. And sometimes, just to confuse us, the lady wrestlers would come out. That was a whole different thing, and we found ourselves diverted, to say the least. But, as I said, we were 12. And 12 back then was 12, not something ‘going-on-25’. We knew nothing.

So, the movie The Wrestler was a big thing at the Oscars this year. I’m happy for Mickey Rourke. I used to like him as an actor in conventional vehicles like Diner, long before he went, shall we say ‘eccentric’. Then something happened to him and happened to his pretty, rather feminine (back in the old days) face. I don’t know what, but he looks entirely different. I don’t follow this stuff so closely so I can tell you no more than that.

Anyway, evidently he excelled in The Wrestler, and I am happy that he seems to be getting his career back on track, although I gather from my Perez Hilton that he is still a trifle on the bizarre side at all levels.

And that’s about all I have to say about wrestling.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I guess the beat still does go on

In the Palm Springs air terminal there is a commemorative bust of one Salvatore Bono. That’s kind of nice. Sonny Bono was, of course, mayor of that lovely desert town for a while, then he went on to be a congressman. While his DC gig was was still in place he, sadly, lost an argument with a tree when he was out skiing.

I’m put in mind of this because a friend just took off today for Vegas.

“I’m not much for gambling,” she told me. “But, Cher’s performing and I’d like to see that.”

She probably wasn’t born in 1965 when Sonny and Cher’s signature song, I Got You Babe was a huge hit.

“How were Sonny and Cher?” I asked university commuting passenger one Monday morning in about 1966. She had just been to see them in concert in Vancouver that weekend.

“They were OK,” she replied. “But who I really liked was their opening act; two young guys named Simon and Garfunkel. They were really good.”

So, I was thinking about I Got You Babe and what a silly little song it was and who would have thought it would have become some sort of vintage offering that a person would still be hearing 44 years after S&C brought it into the world.

I think part of it is, it’s a likeable song. It makes no demands either musically or philosophically. Kind of in the realm of the Beatles’ All You Need is Love. Silly throwaways both but they evoke a kind of youthful enthusiasm. Compare them with the netherworld junkie realm of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray, or the Doors’ Light My Fire.

I Got You Babe
is a 'ditty', pure and simple. A ditty performed by a couple of sweet kids at the time who were nutso in love with each other. That put me back in thoughts of the Sonny memorial at Palm Springs. For a kind of goofy little guy the man did well, and served both his town and ultimately his country well. And that’s a good thing. And Cher, well Cher has always been Cher in all her incarnations and God love her for that. Glad my friend is going to see her. If I were in Vegas, I’d go too.

On an entirely un-Sonny and Cher-ish
matter, the lovely Vivavoom accorded me this award and I am flattered and humbled to be held in such regard. Very thoughtful of a very thoughtful lady in all her Wonder Woman-ness. Thank you.

The Lemonade Award is for sites, which show great attitude and/or gratitude!

Rules for the award:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate at least 10 blogs, which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Nominate your favorites and link to this post.

I need to nominate the blogs I find deserving of the lemonade award. But, this is a random choice because there are many others.

Here they no particular order:
1. Jazz
2. Geewits
3. Get Off My Lawn
4. Deborah Sistrunk
5. Andrea
6. Leesa (told you I’d get you next time)
7. Leslie
8. Daisy
9. CS
10. Merely Me

I hate choosing names for awards because right now I could easily find 10 more and another 10 after that, and so on. So, if I didn’t choose you this time, I will next time around.


Monday, February 23, 2009

And then there was that 'love' thing

Oh life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Romania.
-Dorothy Parker

Since my birthday is just past I am left with some thoughts about the passages of life and where one is at any given time, like right now. I should know by now. But truly I don’t. But here are some musings on a vital facet of life. My life, and the lives of many others, especially once we get beyond a certain age and acquire a tiny smattering of wisdom. Personally, I don’t think any of us are granted any more wisdom than just a tiny smattering.

Anyway, some thoughts on love.

I have been in love many times in my life. There was a time in my youth that I would fall in love four or five times between breakfast and lunch, depending on where I was and what I was doing.

Now content in a truly loving relationship that I hope is for life, I realize that my earlier infatuations, crushes, or infusions of sheer horniness were not 'true' love, even though they seemed, as an emotion, to follow the rules of the real thing as I understood love at the time. Mainly the females at that time only needed to satisfy in such scenarios as follow:

a) Would I like to be intimate with her?


b) Would I object if she came up to me and said: "I'd like to have sexual intercourse with you, and eventually I want to bear your children. “

The female in question could have been a classmate, somebody I’d seen in a coffee shop or on a bus, or an individual in a short skirt riding up an escalator and flashing her undies. Indeed, I have fallen in love for the sake of a chance glimpse of silk on more than one occasion. “Love your panties, will you marry me?”

In terms of my veneration of the various facets of divinely-inspired female pulchritude, I am essentially a 'face' guy. If a female has an adorable combination of eyes, nose and mouth placement, the rest of the package is of much less importance to my enchantment.

Not, of course, that there is anything whatsoever on this earth that deducts from a shapely, rounded bottom, or comforting looking breasts, but if those elements are there in nice proportion, but the face doesn’t work for me then, I am very sorry, I do not want to be there.

Evidence indicates that men and women are different as far as love is concerned. For women, love is a serious business. It should be as they have so much more to lose if it turns bad. For them the commitment is a deeper thing at the outset than it is for men; at least than it is for men in the earlier part of their lives. There is a certain coming together later on and, while it's not a full convergence, at least men and women finally, from middle age forward, hang out in roughly the same amorousness ballpark.

When a man is young his biological imperative is to impregnate as many nubile females as possible. Not that he actually wants the impregnation part to transpire, he just fancies the process that can lead to pregnancy if it is so destined. In other words, young bucks like sex; a lot of steamy sex is cherished and/or fantasized about. Mainly fantasized about, if truth be known.

As it happens, most males spend their formative years biting their knuckles and having tears well up in their eyes due to all the pretty little things out there. Part of the tearing stems from rapture at the profound beauty of these distaff creatures. Another part (indeed the most part) of the tears originates with his realization that he cannot have them all. For, that is indeed what the young lad wants – ‘all’ of them. Some guys, of course, never lose that impulse, and as such can face many complications in their lives.

Of course, it’s a good thing that the quest for possession of all young females is a futile one, or there wouldn’t be any left for the rest of us. Anyhow, it’s the chasethat is of the essence. If your dog chases cars, the big question is always, what would he do if he caught one? If a randy lad of no sophistication chases a pretty girl, what is he to do if she turns around and says, "OK.”? He is going to be terrified, and likely muff his chances badly.

Later in time the boy settles down with his 'one-and-only', thoroughly convinced that this is indeed the real thing. She will be the only one for him for the rest of his life. The problem here is that in his early twenties he has no clue as to what sort of woman would be ideal for him for the rest of his life. This too can lead to complications a few weeks, months or years down the road.

Our divorce lawyers rub their hands each and every time they hear church bells on a Saturday afternoon in June, and not because they are incurable romantics.Fortunate indeed is the person who finds that 'soulmate' right off. I am acquainted with a few such people, and am amazed by both their staying-power and by the fact that they not only hit it right at the start, but that they have consistently been able to work it through.

It can't all be about love -- can it?


Friday, February 20, 2009

See the pyramids along the Nile, see the sunrise on a tropic isle

I have a birthday coming up. Tomorrow, if memory serves. Can never be too sure these days. Just checked. Yep, I’m right. Tomorrow is the 21st. so please feel free to wish me Happy Birthday. I also want cake and ice cream and lots of hugs and kisses and large denomination crisp bills. OK?

I am being silly about my birthday because it is my little way of avoiding lapsing into profound depression at the unspeakable passage of time, or paroxysms of screaming-meemies hysteria at exactly the same thing.

But, I just read something that made me feel better. For years now I’ve been suffering from the realization that the incessant foreshortening of time is invariably going to preclude me attaining what I want in the days I have left. In that, I hope they are many, but ‘one never do know, do one?’ as the inimitable Fats Waller once said. In his case he only made it to 39, so I have a few years up on him. On the other hand he wrote and performed ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ and that is accomplishment in life enough for any 10 people.

But, I digress. Last year there was a film called The Bucket List in which a couple of old farts, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, who knew they were dying attempted to get in whatever they had not yet done before they kicked the proverbial.

What they did involved all sorts of activities, some tasteful and some distasteful and considerable travel, too. Their quest was to fit it all in.

Now it is understandable to people past a certain age that youth is truly wasted on the young, and that if I were magically transformed to my misspent youth for another try, there are things I would have done differently. What might have been different were I operating from what limited wisdom I have acquired?

- I wouldn’t have married until I was at least 35.
- I wouldn’t have allowed myself to get stuck in a career that was ill-suited.
- I likely would have had children.
- I would have traveled, traveled and traveled some more.
- I would have pushed my creative endeavors to the hilt.
- And (perhaps this is the most important one of all) I wouldn’t have been afraid to do any of those things.

I had coffee yesterday with a young female friend with whom I have a slight mentor role. She is smart, pretty, ambitious and has the world at her fingertips at age 25. My basic message to her was, go for the gusto, girl, and don’t be afraid to do so. Don’t be limited by convention or the expectations of others. Be your own person and your life will be blessed. She agreed fully; verbally at least. I do hope she acts accordingly.

Back to the article I read that gave me a certain peace-of-mind. What it suggests is, ‘bucket list’ notwithstanding, a body cannot do it all. The writer said that he realized that he would never make it to Japan, for example. “Japan has gotten along fine without my presence for hundreds of years, and I think it will have to continue to do so.” He said he felt likewise about Egypt and Morocco, despite having in the past thought he would like to go to those places. So would I. But what he said was that when he came to that realization that he could not visit every place on his list, he felt “a great liberation.” He was free. Free of guilt and free of a sense of obligation to do it ‘all’.

I think his point is well taken. I asked myself if there is any place ‘new’ I would go to in preference to places I would rather re-visit, and the answer is ‘no’. Not an unqualified no, but a no after due consideration and qualification.

So, I would rather go back to England and Ireland, France and Italy, Belgium and Holland rather than go to Spain, Portugal or Scandinavia, and assorted other European spots that I either haven’t been to, or have no desire to revisit. I would always go back to Kauai because it’s a kind of spiritual home for me. I love the desert southwest of the US and would go back there again. San Diego is always on a ‘must’ list as is the Oregon coast.

But, I have never been to Asia, Africa or Down Under (except for the Cook Islands, which I adored and would go back to), and I just might not make it this time around. That’s OK. I can handle it. Thus far my life has been a good adventure and I hope it continues to be for some time to come.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Modest proposal to end a violent crime wave

My city of origin, Vancouver, has become a bloodbath lately. Needless to say this is not the sort of news to cause a swelling of civic pride or to delight the chamber of commerce. In the last two weeks literally not a day has gone by without somebody being mowed down by one of the filthy drug gangs that has been festering in the place in the last few years. Drug gangs that are thriving thanks to inadequate policing and pathetic courts handing out lame-ass sentences for evil people.

Two days ago a young mother with her four-year-old son in the back seat was ‘executed’ at a stoplight. Needless to say, as tragic as it was, and despite the fact the kid will be traumatized for the rest of his life, Mom was ‘connected.’ You ain’t driving a big pearly-white Caddy in your early 20s unless you are connected. ‘Live by the sword, die by the sword, etc.’ I mean, it’s sad, but come on.

For some reason best known to them, governments at all levels don’t seem to be rising to the occasion. Oh yes, they are “decrying” violence, but they are doing effectively nothing to address the situation in any tangible way. Why is this? Do we wait until we become Mexico before we get off our sorry asses and do something?

Well, it has been suggested that maybe it’s a waiting game. If we let these bastards keep wasting one another then eventually they’ll all be gone. It’s a nice idea, but doesn’t work. Didn’t happen in Chicago in the ‘20s and ‘30s and won’t happen in Vancouver in the latter part of the first decade of the 21st Century. I mean, I like the idea of gangsters killing gangsters. At least it gets rid of some of them, and we can’t count on the courts to do it. We know that.

What will really work is for us to actually countenance the idea of getting tough. And to get tough we have to accept that gangsters are another order of creation and should not have the same civil rights as the rest of them.

Here’s my modest proposal:
- deny bail for anyone changed with a gun crime. You’re packing heat, even if you’re not firing it and haven’t been so convicted, you don’t get bail.
- If you are convicted of a gun crime you automatically get a dime. That’s right, 10-years for a fist offence, and that is even if nobody died.
- If you take a life in a gun crime you get life – full life – no hope of parole, ever, regardless of what sort of a model prisoner you might be, regardless of how many jailhouse programs you take. You are going away for keeps.

Of course we could always bring back capital punishment for such transgressors. But if you suggest that you get everybody’s knickers in a twist. It has been said that capital punishment is no deterrent to crime, and that is probably true. On the other hand, it does effectively get rid of some pretty awful elements in society.

But, and it’s a big one, what if you hang the wrong guy (or girl, we’re equal opportunity in our punishments)? It has happened and it could happen again.

Anyway, if we brought back the ‘long drop’ I don’t think we would be imaginative enough in our categorization of which crimes and individuals warranted summary execution. In the early part of the 19th Century there were more than 50 crimes that could lead to an appointment with the rope. Over the years the rules were tightened up and eventually, for those jurisdictions that have retained it, only murder (and sometimes treason) remain.

In my esteem this is not sufficient.

Sometimes if I’m feeling piqued I’d like to see the following follow the ‘dead man walking’ parade:
- investment fraudsters
- Ponzi scheme perps
- A whole lotta banking execs
- Reps of the petroleum companies who deny there is gouging or price-fixing (an act of penance could save them from the gibbet if they promise to stop lying to the consuming public)
- Airport security brownshirts

And if I’m really feeling cranky I might consider the fact the world would be better off without:
- Drivers who don’t activate turn indicators until they are actually in the turn.
- Drivers who lollygag when the light has turned green and I am behind them.
- People who take phone calls and chat with the person on the other end when I am in their office.
- Neighboring homeowners who operate chainsaws on a sunny Sunday afternoon when I am on my patio.
- Parents that let children run wild in stores or coffee joints.
- Store clerks that are more interested in chatting live or on the phone with their friends than they are in serving me.

Oh, there are more. Many more, but I’m feeling in a good mood today so shall refrain from extending further.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Better to have false hope than no hope at all

Yesterday it was spring. Actually, it was faux printemps, but that’s better than no printemps at all. Even though it is, like a sexual infatuation, bound to end in disappointments. But I have never had a sexual infatuation that I don’t cherish just a teeny bit in memory, and I have never spent a false spring day that betrayed me. Subsequent days might, but the day in question is always fulfilling and highly satisfying.

So, yesterday I got out into the garden fro the first time since back last fall when the 2008 garden had shot its bolt and had become humdrum and boring. But, 2009 was the beginning of a new love and that first date was gentle and delicate and never presumptuous. I just went as far as seemed prudent. The day seemed willing to go along with it.

So, I pruned and snipped and raked and looked with almost paternal pleasure on the crocuses in wondrous early bloom. The daffodils are turgidly thrusting through the soil, meanwhile and the tulip and grape hyacinth foliage has already been nibbled by the deer.

It wasn’t a warm day by any understood standards of warmth, but it was pleasing enough to wear a light jacket. The sun shone vibrantly throughout and taking a break on the front doorstep of a westward facing house felt benevolent and sensual. I could get used to this.

I know it can turn ugly, just like that metaphorical sexual encounter, and the smiles might give way to tears and anger, but just that one day, February 15th made me want to embrace and gently caress what might lie ahead for 2009.

And, it is still too early to have to cut the damn grass.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

All the news that fits, we print

I have been reading the morning paper. I do it every morning – well knowing that I shall find in it the usual depravities and baseness and hypocrisies and cruelties that make up civilization and cause me to put in the rest of the day pleading for the damnation of the human race.
- Mark Twain in a letter 1899

In fact, Mr. Twain ran hot and cold on the papers of his day, depending on how pissed off he was at any particular time. He didn’t really want to bite the hand that gave him his start in the realm of words. At the same time he was distressed by the dreck that was pushed on an unsuspecting public on a daily basis.

I feel pretty much the same way. I have devoted much of my life to being a scribe and newspapers are very much part of who I am. The old timers used to say when I started that “newspapering gets in your blood,” and it surely does. At the same time I, like Twain (not for a moment suggesting I dwell in the same pantheon as he did) am often distressed and offended with what the papers have become.

I detest their pandering, I loathe their political correctness and refusal to waver from accepted, government prescribed party line – all papers were abominations during the Bush years – and their cheap tawdriness and flavor-of-the-moment catering in which they try to suggest, ‘Aren’t we trendy? Aren’t we hip?’

Let me suggest from my experience in the trade, daily papers are the antithesis of hip, and are invariably at least six months behind in virtually everything. They have to be. It keeps their advertisers satisfied and remember always that papers are first-and-foremost businesses and their primary obligation is not to you, the reader (because you are so insignificant to their bottom-line) but to the advertiser.

“Editorial content is the stuff that goes between the ads,” said old Lord Thomson of Fleet, and in that (cynical as it was) he was being honest.

So, I look at my weekend paper this morning – weekend papers are the worst in terms of crap content – and I am left disquieted. Nothing much there to cheer up any distressed soul.

The economic news is as depressing and distressing as it could be and you can see that we all are damned to an eternity of poverty. Nothing with a positive spin and the papers seem to have developed a fetish for assailing us with negativity on our tailspin into the abyss. That is so they can then write the headline (and accompanying story of sorts): ‘Consumer confidence loss hits the markets’ Uh –what else could it be?

Then there is the beginning of a series decrying the squalor of Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. offered in a sort of fundamental style suggesting that nobody has heard of how bad it is.

Inside we find stories on the pending Olympics and stories on the pending Oscars. I cannot decide which one interests me less – Oscars or Olympics? Probably the Oscars interest me less only in the sense I will end up paying for the damn Olympics if they lose as much money as anybody with any common sense knows they will. Ask the residents of Montreal if you don’t believe me on that score.

Other pieces include a profile of a lacklustre UK singer named Lily Allen who is, I believe, better known for her alcohol fuelled shenanigans (a fine role model for young females, not that it matters since most young people either won’t or literally can’t read a newspaper, leaving one only to wonder why the article on Ms. Allen even exists in the paper since most people over 30 would have no interest in her whatsoever) than any musical styling prowess.

There is also a piece on very expensive sex toys for rich broads. Nothing like a bit of suggestiveness to take a body’s mind off the recession despite the fact the article – replete with pictures of the gadgets – is appearing in a family newspaper.

Good, now that I’ve vented that bit of spleen I feel much better about the world. A feeling that was enhanced by a fine walk in the sunshine on this late winter day, and to realize that the world of news garnering and purveying has changed very little since the day of Mark Twain.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Using that other L-word

What’s the biggest Hallmark seller after Mother’s Day? Of course it’s Valentine’s Day. Tomorrow. Or, today if you are reading this tomorrow. And Valentine’s Day invariably sends one the direction of thoughts of love.

Not love as in lovemaking, although that’s a darn swell manifestation of love, but more ‘love’ as a word and how we use it.

My handy online dictionary defines it thusly:

(l v)
1. A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
2. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.
a. Sexual passion.
b. Sexual intercourse.
c. A love affair

The foregoing definition works for me and covers the amorous ground, to a degree at least. And in looking at love from that perspective, I sometimes worry if we’ve cheapened the word in recent years by being too ready to use it for all occasions.

I was talking to Wendy on the phone and she told me she was going to lunch with a lady friend that day. I haven’t seen her friend for a long time and don’t really know her that well, but immediately said: “Well, give her my love.”

“I didn’t know you knew her so well that you had such an affection for her,” Wendy said.
“I don’t know her that well, and I couldn’t say if I would feel that way about her if I did know her better. But, you know, it’s just a throwaway. That’s what everybody says.”
“I don’t,” she replied. “I say it to you and that’s about it.”
“OK, I get what you’re saying. Uh – just say ‘hi’ for me.”

People tend to use ‘love’ quite blithely these days. Perhaps it is a sign of perilous and insecure times, or maybe it has just been cheapened. Sort of like the ‘F-word’ which hardly works as a curse any longer as it has become so ubiquitous.

I confess, I use ‘love’ a fair amount. I will call females of my acquaintance ‘love’ or ‘my love’ fairly blithely, though never in a creepy way. But, and it is a big ‘but’, I don’t use it cheaply. If it comes into a reference it is because I feel genuine affection for the individual. Not necessarily hearts-and-flowers, or “let’s leap into bed” affection, but human affection. I am an affectionate person and the world is filled with too much pain, torment and anger.

In that context, I am not offended by the concept of Valentine’s Day. I think it’s rather nice to have one day out of the year given over, if not to huge romantic love, then at least to human affection with no ulterior motive in mind. Unless there is an ulterior motive in mind, and that’s fine, too but it is something you’ll have to work out for yourselves.

Love’ in its broader context is like kissing. There are genuine and deep kisses and they are heavenly, and then there are light kisses. Even light mouth kisses. I only kiss three females on the mouth. My wife, of course, and two old female friends, and in their cases it is very light and fleeting kisses that are only set apart from cheek kisses (the next order in the scale) by the location of their destination. Cheek kisses (either given or received) are nice and also only for special people via some sort of mutual understanding.

To closer female friends I close personal letters or emails with ‘love’. Nothing to do with romance per se, but very much a sign of affection and trust. I email an old old friend whom I’ve known since first grade. When we began writing each other a few years ago she asked if I would object if she closed her letters with ‘love’. I said there was nothing I’d like more. It made me feel good.


Happy Valentines Day and love to you all.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

That's me. Ian Lidster, 'thousandaire'

Pity the poor banking weasels who are now going to have to subsist on a mere half a million a year. What must that be like? I suppose if your sense of fiscal responsibility and entitlement is stratospheric, it must be a very bad thing to be forced into such penury.

But, it’s all relative. In the (unlikely) mind of a Paris Hilton, I suppose the thought – she has them, they say, though they often conflict with considerations of appropriate nail polish hue – would be a sympathetic one for those who will now have to struggle so.

I do not live in such exalted realms. I’m also a tight-fisted bastard. So, when I accrue a few dollars, I detest spending them. I like getting bank statements showing four (sometimes even five) figures. I detest debt and attempt to scrupulously avoid it. Right now Visa owes me $11.35. How cool is that?

So, by this stage of my life the only thing I want to spend money on is (aside from the obvious like mortgage, food, cable and transportation) is travel. That is never money badly spent.

So, you can imagine the joy in my acquisitive soul when blogger Leslie offered me a cool five grand. That’s right. In her tagging of me she said $5,000 would be laid on me; my personal bailout, if you will. All I have to do is respond to a simple question: What would you do if given $5,000? A nice little sum that. Not a half million, but tolerable. So, when she tagged me you can imagine how jubilant I was.
All I have to do to get my five grand is suggest a worthy use for it. Excellent.

It was only a while later that I realized that the sum was strictly symbolic and that no filthy lucre would change hands between her and me. I thought we were friends but I guess we just weren’t as close as I’d imagined.

Nevertheless, I want to play. The only criterion in my response is that my answer has to be sensible and worthwhile, not $5,000 worth of M&Ms, which was a concept she toyed with for a while.

So, here are some possibilities I might consider:
I rejected my initial response which was to lay the money on a friend of mine who is in the process of opening what she hopes will be the first legal brothel in Canadian history. No, my friend is not a ‘lady of the evening’ but she is an advocate for them. Well hookers get a lot of bad press, their lives are often wretched, and some of them can be very nice (don’t ask me how I know that), so the idea wasn’t a bad one. But, I pulled back on the idea because I think there remain too many legal hurdles. So, I move on. OK, now these are my serious suggestions:
1. I have a friend who operates a halfway house for recovering alcoholics/addicts. So often people complete a rehab program but end up having to return to some dysfunctional and shitty dive once clean and sober. This puts them in jeopardy. So, I would happily give my friend some of that largesse.

2. Leslie mentioned her husband suggested investing in solar panels. Brilliant. I could see doing that. A number of years ago when we were in the Cook Islands we noticed that many of the dwellings had solar panels. It made so much sense, and I could only think, what the hell is wrong with us that we’re not doing likewise? Those people are supposed to be primitive. We’re just morons burning up hydrocarbons like there is no tomorrow. Guess what? There isn’t.
3. Provide hypodermics for Type I diabetic children of poor families. In this weird society they give out free syringes to junkies. Yes, I know, it is to thwart the unwanted spread of HIV and Hep-C. Fair enough. Yet addicts are there by choice. Diabetics have no choice. And have no freebies.
4.Donate the bucks to the Island Corridor Society. This is the group that operates the little railway on Vancouver Island. They get little help (other than from loyal passengers, and there are many) from officialdom and deal with governments who want to pave the world into freeways and ignore the highly viable option of rail transit. The Asians and Europeans are about 200 years ahead of us in this regard. No wonder much of the rest of the world thinks North American attitudes are pretty pathetic.
5. Send Ian and Wendy back to Kauai (or the South of France, either will do nicely). You know, just to clean out our psyches so we might continue to contribute to society. Just consider it a body and soul investment. Well, it was worth a shot. The first four suggestions, by the way, are absolutely serious.

Who would I like to see do this? Well, absolutely anybody who wants to give it a shot. It truly does make one think. But specifically I will look for comments by:

Thailand Chani
Merely Me

Heart in San Francisco
D. Sistrunk
Acuity Todos


Monday, February 09, 2009

If your Mondays are awful (and everyone's are) blame the school system

When I first awaken pre-dawn on a Monday morning I am struck by a brief (very brief) thought of maybe slashing my wrists.

It’s OK. I’m not really suicidal at all, but there is something about a Monday that brings about the impulse of not really wanting to face the realities of the day. Because, in so facing, one must also accept the realities of the week that ensues.

I think maybe more people off themselves on Monday than on any other day of the week. I have no statistics to bear this out, but it makes sense to me.

Two days of the week cause the greatest angst in western society: Monday and Sunday. And Sunday’s are truly stressful for many. Sundays can be tedious and, in a seeming contradiction, feel both long and short.

“There’s something about a Sunday that makes a body feel alone,” wrote Kris, and rarely has a truer sentiment been penned. Sundays are inclined to be lonely, especially for those who are socially isolated. Sundays also put us in anticipation of Monday, however, and I think that is the real vileness of the day.

Years ago I wrote a column no the wretchedness of Sunday; on the angst that starts to bubble up early in the afternoon and increases in magnitude as the hours crawl (or speed) by. Anyway for that virtually throwaway column I received more mail and phone calls than any other I ever wrote. Everybody, it seemed, could relate to it.

One guy wrote that the afternoons were so bad he found it prudent to begin drinking at about 2 p.m. so that by bedtime he was effectively numbed.

Yet all of this Sabbath distress, I believe, is due to Monday anticipation. Sunday before vacation for example, doesn’t cause boils in the soul. Such a Sunday can be a fine day. No, it is because Sunday is the day prior to the week’s demands.

Personally, I blame all of this adult misery on the schools. A word of advice here, if you are ever in doubt about something to blame for all that is wretched in your life, blame the schools. It’s an easy cheapshot and who could argue with you? Prior to being frogmarched up to first grade, most of us had decent Mondays, filled with play and frolicking. Then a hideous reality was imposed on us and life became less charming. It would always remain less charming. Yep, blame the schools and the ineffective farce of public education.

After that, Mondays are bound to be bad for the remainder of your life. Take my case, for example. Monday is essentially my least challenging workweek day. I don’t have to go into the office for client counseling until Tuesday, and I have a day before me in which I can catch up on writing projects, puttering in the garden, maybe planning something splendidly tasty for dinner, or having coffee with a friend.

My Monday is all of those things, yet I still have this big hand twisting my gut, just because it’s Monday. Monday merely reminds me of all the things I vowed to get to during the week and hadn’t addressed the previous week due to such important causative factors as laziness and procrastination. Consequently, my Mondays leave me feeling immersed in guilt because I know I will decide that the entire challenging Monday task I should address will be deferred until Tuesday.

So, here I am, late morning Monday, writing this blog rather than turning my hand to a freelance writing project that is three-quarters finished but that I don’t feel like getting back to, even though I won’t be paid until I finish it.

Goddamn Mondays.

I blame the schools.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Big girls don't cry. C'mon, don't cry, I said

We know that people haven’t been hard enough hit by our staggering global economic woes if their primary obsession is that some D-list entertainer has turned into a lardass.

Some singer (or something) named Jessica Simpson is reported to have joined the blimpo brigade much to the consternation of those who have much too little to be actually concerned about. OK, I know who Jessica Simpson is, sort of, a singer of some kind, I believe. I just feigned ignorance of her presence on the planet to emphasize the point as to how little I care if she balloons up to 400 pounds and then explodes.

Anyway, piling on a bit of pork hasn’t hurt our Jessica too much. She is getting more supermarket tab cover space and ink than her previous (lack of) talents afforded her. No such thing as bad publicity, goes the adage.

What worries me about this societal obsession with excess avoirdupois – obesity is the new smoking – is that it suggests any sort of heft is by its very nature unappealing and no female should ever be more than wisp-like in bearing. In other words, what the tabs are telling Jessica and every adolescent miss is that plumpness equates with being a dog.

The odd thing about this is that males don’t really care all that much about a surfeit of female poundage that has gone beyond some mystically prescribed ideal weight. Where did that come from? Seriously. Give yourself one of those much-hyped BMI tests and I almost guarantee the result will show that you are too chubby.

Showing how fashions change, Marilyn Monroe by current BMI standards would be deemed obese.

Personally, I rather likes me a ‘well-built’ woman. But, I guess I am a product of my times. Me and Rubens.

Of course, there are health issues with extravagant adiposity, and they are not to be scoffed at. There is the huge increase in Type II diabetes for example. But, in my esteem that is more a by-product of the crud we eat rather than weight per se. Throw back items swimming in transfats and you are bound to pay the price. I cringe when I watch the TV commercial about the dutiful Mom who is feeding her kids goddamn Pop-tarts for brekkie before sending them off to school.

But, speaking of brekkie, I think that is one issue that might be addressed. I love breakfast and truly do feel it’s the most important meal of the day. I especially love those wonderful English breakfasts: Eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, fried bread, sometimes kidneys and kippers and even baked beans on the side. It’s a great deal if it’s included with your room rate. That way a body can skip lunch if traveling on a budget.

At the same time, I’m really only good for a couple of those per trip or I end up feeling bloated.

American breakfasts I find at times to be incomprehensibly large: Eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, etc. served in absolutely massive portions. Again, once or twice per trip. After that it’s a bowl of instant oatmeal back in our motel room to start out our subsequent days of travel.

Actually, oatmeal is God’s gift to sensible eating. It’s very good for you, zaps cholesterol, fills a body nicely and tastes great.

Try oatmeal, Jessica, it might serve you better if you’re worried about your zaftigness. Though, I don’t think you need to be.
Oh, and do you have a favorite breakfast? If so, please feel free to share it. My is good, old-fashioned eggs benedict, but on fresh prawns, or lox in lieu of ham or bacon.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Nope. So far no replacement for Bogey

I got tagged by Alexandra for this one and since I am in a bit of an inspirational lull au moment, I thought I would do this. I mean, I’ve done a gajillion of these profile things before, but once more won’t hurt. Feel free to move on if you don’t care more than a fiddler’s fart about what makes me tick. Or, take it on yourself and see what you find out about you. However weird (or scary) you want to make it will rest entirely with you.

The object of the exercise is to list 25 things that are part of you. Maybe you alone, or maybe you and the King of the Belgians. So, here’s is a bit about who/what I am on this dreary February morning.

1.I used to suffer almost chronically from insomnia. I didn’t want to use drugs to deal with it, and using booze to sleep is a dangerous habit to get into. So, I developed a certain meditative ability to literally rid my mind of all extraneous thought. It works about 80 percent of the time, which is pretty good.

2. Episodes of Cold Case almost invariably make me feel weepy at the end. The stories are just plain damn sad.

3. Alexandra mentioned having synesthesia. Me too. Consequently, I see days of the week, months of the year, numbers and letters in color. In her case, she also hears in color. I don’t, but I can understand it. I also always dream in color.

4. I got my two best university grades in Slavonics Studies courses, both firsts. I speak no Russian and have never had even a slight desire to visit Russia, with the exception of St. Petersburg, probably. I’d love to see the Hermitage. In one class I sat next to an absolutely stunning and sophisticated and very smart older coed who professed to be a communist. For some reason that was an aphrodisiac for me and made her remote high-cheekboned aloofness even more erotic. She then invited me to go away with her for a weekend and I chickened out. Youth truly is wasted on the young.

5. I have been to one full opera (the lead was Joan Sutherland) and one full ballet in my life. That was enough. But I am happy to have had the experiences in both cases.

6. I have dreams about former cars I’ve owned. I go into a remote garage somewhere and there is an old Ian vehicle. For some reason I have a key for it. I fire it up and it starts immediately. I am delighted and prepare to take it home with me.

7. Speaking of dreams, when I was about 14 I kept a small flock of livestock fowl, chickens, ducks and geese. I still have dreams about them and I am wracked with guilt because I haven’t tended to their needs for so long and feel I must go and see to them, collect eggs and clean out their house. I get to them and they always seem to be OK.

8. One of the first things I do when I arrive at a new place is to get a local newspaper. It gives me the pulse of the place, the politics, the issues and so forth.

9. I studied the violin when I was a kid. I was never very good at it and gave it up after a couple of years. I now regret not being able to play an instrument, since I love music and would love to be able to make my own.

10. I’ve always believed that if I’ve had a romantic interest in somebody that the other person feels the same way about me. In other words, they have given off vibes indicating they are approachable. I still believe from experience that is true about 80 percent of the time

11. I have significant acrophobia. I detest heights and even find it difficult to watch films of high steel workers and rock climbers. Ironically, flying doesn’t bother me at all, even though being in a tall building does. If I am higher than the fifth floor I cannot go out on a balcony.

12. I’m not very mystical. I don’t really believe in fortune-telling, astrology and other forms of soothsaying. I’d like to, but I don’t.

13. Yet, I do believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe positive thoughts attract positives, and negative thinking leads to negative results. I honestly believe there is a cellular thing in all of this and I have seen it happen with myself and others.

14. Is there life on other planets? Of course there is. Indeed, if we accept the premise the universe is infinite in its magnitude, then there is life on an infinite number of planets. I don’t believe for a second we are alone in the universe. Why are we so arrogant as to assume that?

15. That said, I’m not much of a sci-fi buff. Fantasy tales in general leave me cold, for the most part. But, I am intrigued by the concept of time-travel and time-warps. Such sagas will set my imagination soaring.

16. I haven’t danced around the house in years. I used to, whether I was alone or not. Then it stopped. Why is that? It’s sort of like when children run for the sheer exuberance of it and then, in adulthood they don’t. Why do we stop?

17. Even though my financial advisor at my bank is easy on the eyes, charming and intelligent, I still hate banks and everything they stand for. Same with insurance companies.

18. I can say without fear of divine retribution that I have never stolen anything in my life. I think I was always afraid I would get caught. I once years ago ‘borrowed’ a guy’s wife. It’s a long story and not one I’m proud of, but I didn’t steal her.

19. I don’t trust guys who part their hair down the middle. It shows an inability to commit.

20. Pregnant women should not wear bikinis at the beach. Just a personal esthetic bias.

21. If a woman bends over and shows a great deal of cleavage all heterosexual men wiil look. So will a surprising number of heterosexual women.

22. I have never watched an episode of ER all the way through. I don’t find illness and injury to be entertainment. I feel the same way about House, though Hugh Laurie is superlative. No, give me old-fashioned crime saga any day.

23. And, while on the topic, I still miss Jerry Orbach’s Lenny.

24. I still think Billy Bob Thornton’s Slingblade is one of the best movies ever.

25. They haven’t yet found acceptable replacements for Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy or Bob Mitchum.

Rats. Just when I was getting on a roll I completed my 25. As I said, no tagging here, but it’s another one of those stream-of-consciousness relatively easy exercises. Try it, if so inclined.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Let the revels begin

Today is Groundhog Day. To some this might mean little, but for me it is my chosen holiday of the year. No fuss, no muss, no gifts, no guilt, no anxiety, no overindulgence, nobody picking up a shotgun and wasting his family just because he couldn’t cope with the pressure of the occasion and was filled with resentments over Groundhog Days past. For, all GHD offers is a slight element of hope and a forecast that spring is on the horizon.

Today is Groundhog Day. To some this might mean little, but for me it is the best holiday of the year. No fuss, no muss, no gifts, no guilt, no anxiety, no overindulgence, nobody picking up a shotgun and wasting his family just because he couldn’t cope with the pressure of the occasion and was filled with resentments over Groundhog Days past. For, all GHD offers is a slight element of hope and a forecast that spring is on the horizon.

I’m sorry, but the topic invariably put me in mind of one of the most underrated film tales of recent years, the inspired and even inspiring Groundhog Day.

Feel free to cue Sonny and Cher’s I Got You, Babe.

I’ll begin by stating that I am an unrepentant Bill Murray fan. Any world that offers a place to Bill, and yet still makes room for a Howie Mandel or Adam Sandler is beyond my comprehension, but I have no power over that.

Of course GHD is an allegory. It’s a morality play. It’s a study of sin and redemption much as is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – and arguably just as effective.

Aside from being extremely funny, GHD looks at how we fall into traps of our own selfish devising and lose touch of how we might extricate ourselves. Murray is jaded and cynical Pittsburgh TV weatherman, Phil Connors. He and a TV crew have been sent to the little town of Punxutawney, PA for the annual awakening of the famed local rodent of the groundhog sort, Punxutawney Phil. Weatherman Phil is insulted and bored by the gig, but sees it as a possible opportunity to get into the pants of pretty assistant, Rita (Andie MacDowell).

What happens, as we know, is a miracle of sorts. As weatherguy Phil is forced to relive what he has already deemed the worst day of his life, he eventually begins to assess where he might have gone wrong all along the way and that the wretchedness of his existence is of his own devising, and nobody else’s. What he ultimately realizes is that he has been undergoing the best of all humbling experiences. What seemed like a curse is really a gift.

Ultimately Phil has his epiphany and becomes a new and decent man and, incidentally, does get into Rita’s aforementioned pants. See, guys, as Otis Redding once said, sometimes all it takes is to try a little tenderness.

For me, this is one of those extremely rare films that I’ve actually viewed a number of times since its release in 1993. In re-viewing I live a certain Groundhog Day of my own with it because I find I get a little more from it each time.

As for the real Groundhog Day, it’s primarily a silly thing. The myth is that if Punxutawney Phil or any other groundhog actually casts a shadow on Feb. 2(which is meant to send him scurrying back to his burrow), we are due for six more weeks of winter. Eek. What a terrible thing. But, wait a minute, here’s the flaw in this. Whether or not he sees his shadow, we’re still due for six more weeks of winter because that time span will take us up to around March 21, the Equinox and hence the beginning of spring.

Oh well. Regardless of that, it’s still my favorite low-stress and expectations day.

Looking outside this morning, thought, I perceive scant chance of the little rodent bugger seeing his shadow in these here parts today. Yay! In six weeks it will be full-blown spring. The groundhog never lies. Come to think of it, we don't actually groundhogs in this area. Would a rare Vancouver Island Marmot do?