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Tech Time Machine… You’re On A Rocket…

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Marty McFly… let’s hop into your DMC DeLorean time machine and juice up the flux capacitor.

OK, set the time back by 30 years to 1990 (if this takes you into prenatal times, please please tell me what that looks like, I want to know the answer to that as much as I’d like to see into my post-life times).

I’m thinking about time travel right now for a reason.

Looking back with today’s eyes, 1990 was a “foreign country” for us all.

Thirty years ago this week, I stood in chilly Okanagan Lake waters at 7 am on a Sunday morning with nearly 1,000 others clad in wetsuits.

Supportive family members and friends came from near and far to give me a cheering boost for an event I had trained so hard for in the year leading up to this day.

My heart was pounding in my throat, both in exhilaration and terror (the good news is that in the lake, you can pee your pants and no one knows better other than the swimmer directly behind you. Sorry… TMI?)

We participants were all ready to dive in at the sound of a booming cannon – the cannon that starts the Ironman Canada triathlon race, a 3.8k swim, followed by a 180k bike, finishing with a 42.2k run. Great way to spend a relaxing Sunday.

But today, I’m not only thinking about the gruelling race, but also about the huge changes to our world in these oh-so-short 30 years.

Here are a few other things that cross my mind.

It’s about our world and technology.

I’m thinking about how many folks pulled out their cellphones and snapped photos of their friends and loved ones jumping into the water that August 1990 morning. How many photos got posted online for the world to see within seconds…

Here, let me answer that for you… pull out my calculator… hmmmm, 960 participants multiplied by an average of 4 or 5 relatives and friends watching from behind the barriers…

… and the answer is???? ZERO. None.

Huh? Why not Larry?

Well, a myriad of stuff has changed for you and me in 30 years… call a taxi… right! Wait until next Tuesday to watch your favourite TV show… hardly! Meet your life partner-to-be at a bar… *cue laughter*….

A few more examples…

1990. No smartphones… a few cellphones (owned by 4% of North Americans in 1990) sure, but pretty much no such thing as a smartphone with a camera embedded. The first early versions were still 12 years in the future.

These days, when I enter even the tiniest running or other athletic race (in non-COVID times)… camera phones are everywhere, all the time.

In 1990, there were no smartphones, no text messages… no Tesla’s or other electric cars… no BlueTooth, no Facebook, no YouTube.

In 1990 you paid your utility bills at the bank or by snail mail with a personal cheque.

Watch a movie in 1990? Just run by your local VHS rental store or Blockbuster and make sure your neighbours aren’t there when you sneak into the “ADULT” section in the back.

In 1990, you answered your landline phone (usually corded) because it was someone you knew calling (although no call display told you who), no telemarketers or scams.

In 1990, when you wanted to find a street address or your way through a strange city, you hauled out something called a map and found the location with your fingertips, not your GOOGLE.

In 1990, people read books. I mean books made of paper and glue and hard and soft covers that had pages you turned and needed a flashlight to read under the covers. No eReaders, no Kindles (first released in 2007), no Kobo’s. Bookstores were popular “social media” gathering spots in 1990.

In 1990, did you drive through your local Starbucks for a Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino? Of course not. Starbucks had barely 100 stores in 1990, probably none in your area. Just Mary & Joe’s Cuppa Joe House (or Timmy’s for us Canucks) was on your corner in those prehistoric coffee days. Espresso drinks were something Europeans drank.

In 1990, a blog? Is that something stuck in your toilet?

In 1990, when you listened to recorded music, it was usually from a cassette tape, a big step up from 8-track tapes! Your choices were vinyl or cassette. CD or mp3? Huh??

In 1990, a restaurant meal or a plane trip usually involved breathing in someone else’s secondhand smoke. In my province of B.C., smoking was legally allowed in restaurants until 1996. Smoking on flights within Canada was first banned at the beginning of 1990.

Feel free to tell me some other things I’ve missed.

And finally, in 1990, when I crossed the Ironman finish line (below) as the evening sun set and my muscles cried, my kids were 5, 3 and 1 years old. It’s so long ago that I can barely picture them in my head. They were so cute.

Right McFly, bring me back to 2020.

Those little kids are older and smarter than me now. Yes, that’s right, they are older than me… I was 19 years old in 1990 and today I’m still… 19. (I turned off my time machine long ago. That’s new math for you.)

More importantly though, they were healthy then and they are healthy today.

I’m a lucky man to return to 2020 in my older DeLorean body.

OK Boomer…

Fire and Rain

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Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again…

.

JAMES TAYLOR ca. 1974

.

Fire and Rain… OMG, I have loved this James Taylor song for so so many years…

… JT and this song in particular were midnight staples and saviours for my teenage angst – F & R was my favourite solo guitar song for coming down from a late night shift at McDonalds, or upon returning from a boozed-up-on-25-cents-a-glass draft beer night at Corktown Irish Pub in Hamilton.

The blues-without-the-blues-style song is James’ lament to a woman friend who died by suicide (Suzanne) and his personal struggles with heroin and fame. It’s a story of deepest darkness and anguish, a soothing salve.

At the time, I didn’t know or understand the genesis of the song’s underpinnings, but the wonderful thing about music done well is that lyrics only tell a part of the story. The melody, the key, the pacing of this song speak to profound sadness… words or no words.

I’m reflecting on the song today because right now, I’m sitting in Forest Fire Central aka British Columbia (BC). NO fire AND rain, just fire.

And yet. I love living in BC.

Even though I’ve lived in and visited many many wonderful, beautiful places in the world, there is no place I’d prefer to live than here.

Now, upon saying this, I also have to acknowledge in recent times that part-and-parcel of living on the west coast of Canada (actually the entire west coast of North America) – and more specifically, the Interior region of BC – is accepting dry, summer heat and forest fires as a routine part of this summer life.

As I look out my window, a heavy pall of acrid grey-white smoke lingers lazily over the valley hillsides. Each day, I listen to the overhead hum and buzz of water-bomber aircraft lugging off to pollinate the woods with huge gulps of fire-quenching water.

Four of the past 5 summers here have been filled with these huge, relentless fires from July through until late September when, finally, cooler temperatures and a modicum of rain mark the passing of the singe season.

You could say that the BC economy runs largely on trees… the ones we cut down and slice into sticks of wood to build houses… and the other ones we burn down each year that create billions of dollars of GDP in putting the fires out.

GDP is a great measure of our financial success except when it’s measured in tragedy for human and animal life. GDP should measure productivity, not destruction.

So, my mind runs off in winding tangents as I think about JT and his beautiful song…

… and this takes me into thinking about the lovely region in which I live…

… then veers further onward to fires and global warming that affects us all to greater and lesser degrees…

… and finally…

… it all lands heavily on how we are living amid a much greater degree of science denial than I ever dreamed possible 5 short years ago (a denial that covers much more than global warming, but I’ll restrict my thoughts to this today).

It takes a strange and perhaps demented mind like mine to segue from 1970’s James Taylor music all the way to climate change and its deniers.

I won’t dig too deep into a rant here other than to say that anyone willing to take an hour or two of downtime to review the broad and peer-reviewed research on climatic evolution should come to an inevitable conclusion.

………

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
– Mark Twain

………

This is not a mere cosmic routine cycle of climate change that occurs every 100, 250, 500 years. The floods, the hurricanes, the fires, and melting ice-caps are not just “nothing to look at here” routine stuff.

This is “us” caused and needs to be “us” cured. Soon.

The silver lining underlying this “whoa is us” scenario is that I have great faith in the ability of human ingenuity and technology to stem this tide.

Humanity (myself included) has a tendency to sweep bad news under the carpet until there are no options left other than to deal with it. Inevitability breeds action, eventually…

These days, when I play my guitar, I don’t suffer from that same teenage angst of years ago; now when I play Fire and Rain late at night, my angst is for the larger blue planet that we share, the same one we also share responsibility for its future and care.

My fervent hope is that, should I live long enough – and I’m working hard to be a participant in the Centenarian Olympics – the only sad Fire and Rain we’ll be afflicted with is in James Taylor’s sweet music…

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again…

JAMES TAYLOR ca. 2021

Sweet 16 Jobs I’d Love YOU To Have

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Close a door, open a window…

After I “retired” in 2014 from my long medical lab career, I left the sweet bacterial scents behind and began looking for fun and captivating things to do.

No, it wasn’t out of boredom, or financial need, but in a spirit of adventure; a mini adrenaline shot maybe? SHOT! SHOT!!

But where would I bite?

The Menu: the first entree I took on was bartending, with a volunteer side dish of Soup Kitchen vegetable chopper, followed by a dessert of local college literacy and ESL tutor.

Next up came a post-prandial sip of a few hours weekly as a shipper at a local winery.

And now, here I am in almost-post-COVID mode and my mind is – in slow motion – seeking ideas for future stimulation…

Let’s step back for a second…

… you stare at yourself in the mirror (full-length nudity isn’t required here, but you can decide) and ask yourself: Who am I?

You’re bored or frustrated; an adrenaline junkie or an artist; perhaps recently retired, and hopefully not just Waiting For Godot.

You’ve worked in the same job, the same profession for 5, 10, 25 years and are looking for a change? Of course you are. Life is too short to be boxed into one vocation for decades. Carpe diem and all that…

If you’ve woken up with vivid dreams of taking on a brand new challenge, I have some juicy ideas for you.

Actually, these schemes are for me, but maybe it will fire up your own creative juices and dig up some exciting idea bubbles for you.

These are all real jobs, however, to be candid, some of them are Looney Tunes as hell, while others do have real merit… only you can decide which is which and move forward in your fun future.

Let’s explore:

1. CHOCOLATE TASTER – Heaven… I’m in heaven… sure, chocolate taster jobs don’t require any formal qualifications, but you do need to have an acute sense of taste and smell to do this job effectively. Large chocolate companies have several chocolate tasters they use to make sure their product is delicious. You can think of yourself as a Sommelier de Chocolat.

2. LIVING STATUE – Who knew you could be paid for standing still as well as laying down on the job? Performing as a living statue is one form of busking, especially in places with a high level of tourism. Living statue performers strategically choose a spot, preferably one with a high level of foot traffic, then create the illusion of complete stillness while standing. Sometimes, passers-by won’t realize you’re a real person, which can deliver a shocking surprise when the “statue” gives them a small gesture (such as a wink or nod). The objective is to create fun moments of interaction that result in a tip. In truth, I’ve actually done this “job” twice as a non-profit fundraiser – once as Jack Frost (below) and another time as The Grinch – it’s a blast and kids love the tease!

3. CUIDACARRO – yup, in Spanish this means “taking care of a car”… all you need to do is get thee to a city with sky-high theft crimes and let wealthy car owners pay you for standing watch over their car to make sure it isn’t stolen, or disassembled and put on blocks while they’re elsewhere, peacefully sipping scotch or Dom Perignon. How cool is that?

4. MUSIC THERAPIST – Ah hemmmmm… music therapy practice means establishing caring and professional relationships with people of all ages and abilities. Empathy, patience, creativity, imagination, an openness to new ideas, and understanding of oneself are important attributes. Music therapists are musicians as well as therapists, so a background in and love of music are essential. To get the inside track, individuals thinking of music therapy should consider gaining some experience through volunteer opportunities or summer work in nursing homes, camps for children with disabilities, and other settings which serve the needs of people… even animals. Doh re mi!

5. DEODORANT TESTER SNIFFER– almost as much fun as being a chocolate taster, but NOT at all! In order to test the effectiveness of new products, “odour judges” are hired to smell volunteers’ breath, feet, and armpits. To make sure their judgment is accurate, sniffers have their sense of smell tested monthly. This is one job that really does pass the sniff test.

6. AUDIO ENGINEER – Like to work the graveyard shift with narcissistic, ego-driven musicians? An audio engineer (or a sound engineer) works with the mechanics of recording, mixing, and reproducing sound. Audio engineers are not the same as sound producers, writers, or performers, as they deal specifically with the technical and mechanical aspects of music and sound — nothing else. If you like to hear the same song performed 100 times consecutively, this is your chair.

7. PERSONAL TRAINER – Are you jacked? Ripped? Look good in tight spandex? Share your secrets… a personal trainer works one-on-one with a client to develop and implement a fitness training regimen that helps them lose weight, get stronger, improve physical performance or invest in their health. Trainers introduce clients to individualized exercises that are based upon their personal goals, skill level and needs. Side benefit: all the protein bars and kale smoothies you can stomach.

8. HOMICIDE DETECTIVE – Law & Order… Bum bum… If you faint at the sight of blood, jump forward to #9. Beginning at a crime scene, a homicide detective works alongside forensic specialists to examine evidence. Detectives also spend a significant amount of time interviewing witnesses to form an educated guess about how a homicide happened and who may be responsible. After identifying suspects, a detective makes arrests and performs interrogations to gather further information about a murder. If a case goes to trial, they may assist the prosecution by testifying in court. Prepare yourself for vivid dreams until the day you die.

9. VOICE ACTOR – my brother has, later in life, taken acting classes, and picks up acting gigs here and there. He does the full physical job of acting, but for the less “camera-inclined”, there are speaking roles where your face never gets a chance to entice paparazzi… ie. the voice actor. Voice acting is a performance art where actors use their own voices to entertain or market to an audience. But lending just your voice to a cartoon or a goofy commercial can be more difficult than physical acting on a TV series, so be prepared to prepare and work hard. “Alexa, find me a voice acting job!”

10. SPEECH WRITER – ever since I watched the first episodes of The West Wing, I wanted to be a speech writer like Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe). I love the art of oration, but lack the gravitas in my own voice to become Barack Obama or Walter Cronkite (who?). The next best thing? Write eloquent and memorable speeches for Barack or Walter, Kamala or Justin, Pierre or JFK. Ask not what you can do for your next job… If this job bores you, maybe try this next one…

11. PROFESSIONAL SLEEPER – just like it sounds, the professional sleeper is someone who gets paid to sleep. REALLY! They generally do this as part of scientific research where scientists analyze their sleep patterns or to evaluate the quality of various sleep-related products. I’ve worked with more than a few colleagues over my career that I know are perfectly suited to this position… it’s definitely not your average 9 to 5 job…

12. PROFESSIONAL MOURNER – Do you really want your funeral to look like the crowd at the Olympic Opening Ceremony? It is a tradition in South East Asia that a loud funeral will assist the dead as they travel to the afterlife, so professional mourners are hired to cry and weep loudly throughout the service. This is almost the equivalent of being a voice actor, and most certainly is not a dying profession.

13. BIKE COURIER – riding slalom on busy car-clogged streets… yes! Adrenaline jockeys… bike couriers are most common in large cities with downtown cores and business districts where vehicle deliveries can be costly and hard to schedule due to traffic jams, construction, parking availability, and other factors. Enter the bike courier: often hired to deliver items such as food, clothing and articles for photo shoots, digital files on flash drives or hard discs, legal, financial, or other sensitive documents, corporate gifts, medical samples. You gotta have strong legs, and a strong heart to deliver hearts for transplant.

14. DEAD BODY REMOVER or CRIME SCENE CLEANER – OK, simple really, but not always really simple. You never know what you’re going to run into during a home body removal or post-death clean-up. Some people with predisposed conditions, or ugly homicides or messy accidents that ultimately cause their death may die days or weeks before they are found. You have to remove them and it can get downright gross. Skin slip, purge, faeces, urine, insects, odour. This is bloody haunted house stuff for the bravest of souls.

15. GOLF BALL DIVER– are you tired of standing in the blazing summer sun, salty-sweat stinging your eyes… waiting to take your Tee shot, knowing that it’s sure-as-hell gonna land in the stupid water hazard? Simple answer: put your Calloway Big Bertha back in its bag and find a cool job on the other side. Summer is sweet when you dive into those cool ponds to collect the balls all the other suckers have wasted in futile attempts to be the next Tiger or Annika. Keep in mind, not all ponds are pristine, sand-lined, leech-free, swimmer’s itch clear delights. Murk and mayhem may await!

16. AMUSEMENT PARK VOMIT CLEANER – Whoa, that roller coaster ride was more than you bargained for.. and so is the disgusting mess you left behind in the car you were riding. Did you think all that stomach churning effluent just magically disappears when the coaster comes to a stop? Hardly! Take on the “Chunker Challenge” and make the ride squeaky clean and sweet-smelling for the next inhabitant – discreetly and quick as a wink!

So, there you go, a few ideas to stimulate your creative juices. The good news is there are a ton of other fabulous jobs out there that will kindle your fires, amuse, excite, animate, scintillate… and… repulse.

I’m still tossing around some other first-class opportunities like professional whistling, fortune cookie writing, snake milker, water slide tester and professional snuggler.

So many choices, so little time…

Are We BC, AC or PC? 8 Movies or TV Shows I’ll Watch Again While I Wait To Find Out

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Like ancient dinosaurs, we’re passing into a new epoch…

… and while summer has arrived, and the livin’ is easy – this COVID era continues to transform many homes into workplaces, and makes social activities challenging.

Today I’ll reflect a bit on the blessings and the curses of this time. Yup, sweet and sour.

A mere two summers ago we were living in the BC (BEFORECOVID) period, although we didn’t know it at the time; this is the way of Black Swans. I doubt the dinosaurs saw the asteroid approaching.

Yes, life in this BC era was maybe simpler and… maybe more predictable (or not, depending on how you view BC life).

Then last summer, the fear and intense reality of COVID transmission were gearing up for a tidal wave surge that would leave a tense trail of sickness, death, and long-haul destruction in its wake.

This was/is the AC period – the AMIDCOVID Period. Lots of infections and no vaccines or clearly effective treatments (bleach injection anyone?).

Here we are today, we’re in this No Man’s Land of AC, but the tide is turning…

Soon’ish, we’ll enter the PC period (POSTCOVID).

Or will we? We’re standing at the doorstep, and not quite sure if the door will swing open wide or snap shut like a malicious mousetrap.

We’re still a few anxious breaths away from truly transitioning into a new BC era… becoming who we were before March 2020.

………….

It would smack of first-world arrogance if I didn’t add that we’re still a long way from a PC era in most poorer countries where vaccines have barely seen an arm yet.

African, South American, and some Asian populations are stifling in increased poverty and sickness as COVID spreads wildly, sucking away livelihoods for the most oppressed.

Please, the world is small, let’s not any of us forget our neighbours from other countries and continents.

………….

Back here in the privileged countries, COVID has changed every one of our lives in a myriad of ways… some stuff from BC we’ll return to like nothing ever happened, while other things we’ll question and ponder deeply about.

Do we really hanker to be the same person we were in the BC times? Introspecting R US…

Until we know where we are in this uncharted period of time, many of us will continue to semi-cocoon for a while longer like Groundhogs who have seen their shadows.

OK, now for one of the blessings.

BC, I had 10 different and diverse activities on my plate each week.

I was stimulated on so many fronts, but many have fallen off and so I find myself returning to the “comfort food” of the movies and TV shows I’ve seen before but have a tremendous affection for still.

Typically, I don’t usually like a return to what I’ve seen before. I crave the new and novel.

As TV character Ally McBeal would say when entering the stall of her workplace bathroom – “I prefer a fresh bowl“.

I agree with Ally, but… to push this very strange analogy even further, I’d add “… if it’s yellow let it mellow… if it’s brown, flush it down“.

Sometimes I just like the comforting warmth of the known and recognizable (I guess that’s the yellow in my above analogy!).

For some unknown length of time, a lot of us will continue to absorb our popular culture through the strong list of streaming choices our era of technology has gifted us when we want some diversion or relaxation, entertainment or provocation.

Until the day when COVID is undoubtedly in the rearview mirror, I’ll harken back to my short list of 8 shows or movies that I am happy to boomerang around to a 2nd or even 3rd time. Comfort food on the tube.

I won’t spell out all of my specific reasons of why I’ve made these choices, other than to say that in these shows I see and hear a combination of intellect, wit, profound thought, outrageous humour, deep sadness or boundless joy which leave me deeply affected in one or more directions.

Any cultural or artistic product – at its best – should leave us somehow moved, hopefully even changed for the better.

So, in no particular order, here I go:

  1. West Wing
  2. The Newsroom
  3. Of Mice and Men
  4. Seinfeld
  5. When Harry Met Sally
  6. Schindler’s List
  7. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. BONUS: The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over Concert

Reviewing my own list, I can see – in the writers and actors of each – a sense of the artistic gifts I personally admire and seek out for myself: Aaron Sorkin, John Steinbeck, Jerry Seinfeld, Nora Ephron, Steven Spielberg, William Goldman, Freddie Mercury, Don Henley/Glenn Frey.

Maybe you too can see yourself reflected in the choices you would make on your list as you await the return of BC.

Or perhaps PC will bring on a different you… Introspecting R US!

BC + AC = PC

RAMBLER SUMMER – The Song

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Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learning how….

Summer beaches, summer fun, summer hormones, summer sun…

Summer holds a delicious lure to us residents of the chillier northern regions (although perhaps not this week where the temperatures here in B.C. reached well into the 40+C range).

This magnetic lure is intense.

When the dark days of December and January descend like a heavy, grey blanket, the lily-white limbs of northern denizens do a lemming-march onto airplanes, then migrate like geese, southwards to recapture that special, intoxicating summer lure.

July and August blow in in a heady combination of scanty clothing, the scent of BBQ and french fries in the air, convertible car tops down with wind in our hair, sweet potent icy drinks, trashy beach books, and of course, la pièce de resistance… summer music.

I wonder if you, like me, have one summer in your past that stands out as unique and memorable in a way that no other has before or since?

My “special” season came along in 1974… I turned 17 during those hot, humid, Hamilton summer days.

I passed my driver’s licence test that spring.

I moved away from my family home into an apartment with my sister when my widower father remarried.

By the time Grade 12 ended in June, I was flipping burgers at McDonalds for about 2 bucks an hour (my starting wage was $1.55/hr) and through some financial wizardry, I scraped together $1,000 bucks… enough to buy a 1967 Rambler American car.

Tan brown and suburban middle-class stodgy, my Rambler wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t sporty, it wasn’t fast, but… it was MY own car.

I installed a clickety-clack 8-track player and fed it the music of James Taylor, Carole King, Seals & Crofts, America, Supertramp, Elton John, Eagles… and of course, summer music supreme… The Beach Boys!

Cars and boy hormones are a standard teenage combustible combination… which means by the end of August I had a car… AND a girlfriend. All my hormones were cosmically aligned and on fire.

I wasn’t old enough yet to vote or drink alcohol legally… still, this young man came of age in the summer of 1974.

Which brings us to the song below, whose lyrics I wrote and posted here a year ago on June 28.

At the time I labelled it The Colour of My Rambler Summer, but after a number of revisions, I’ve shortened it to just Rambler Summer.

OK, now the nitty-gritty of putting music to a lyric. Hours and hours are spent experimenting different time signatures, keys, melodies and chord arrangements. This song has been through about 3 complete iterations in differing styles.

BUT.

Music and lyrics have to blend and match like a pair of identical twins to create magic, yes?

Musically, I wanted it to have a summer song ambiance- after all, it has summer in the title (as I hear DUH in my ear).

I love the Latin-style Cuban beat and one of my favourite Latino singers is a talented Cuban-Canadian young man, Alex Cuba (who lives in Smithers, B.C). Cuba often uses a Latin calypso rhythm in his songs which I’ve hijacked here. When I hear Alex, I feel summer heat on my skin.

Alex Cuba

Come the chorus, there was no doubt in my mind that it had to emulate a Beach Boys style of harmony to give it a summer-beachy sound.

It all begins with my simple Martin acoustic guitar and builds from there. It’s like baking a cake, adding one ingredient at a time.

Of course, I have miles to go to achieve the quality and texture of an Alex Cuba, or the mastery of a Brian Wilson song, but I’ve had a blast of summery fun playing, singing, and recording all the layers to this tune.

See if you can hear the elements I’ve mentioned.

If you pass, I’ll send you a music appreciation certificate like the one I received in Grade 6 for Sight-Singing music!!

Rambler Summer

by Larry Green

I don’t know if I learned the truth
at 17 or in my older days
soft lips and youthful yearning
the colours of a rainbow’s arch
seemed so clear in my first car
shared tones between the bars

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
melting ice cream on my chin
syrupy sweet night
dark and light
dreams come free at a cost

Cool Butch and handsome Sundance
were the heroes of this laddish young’un
I’d pretend to be the thuggish
bad boy that held the school hall fun
watching shag cut kids with
droopy eyes singed by drugs

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
melting ice cream on my chin
syrupy sweet night
dark and light
dreams come free at a cost

We sat in movie theatre matinees
cool dark balconies hanging with Steve McQueen
while outside buses fumed the air
sidewalks seared the shoppers’ feet
city streets scorched humid in the sun
that curled the women’s hair


CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
melting ice cream on my chin
syrupy sweet night
dark and light
dreams come free at a cost

Funeral For A Chocolate Eternity

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Today, a spicy little twist from this Man On The Fringe.

As we enter a Northern Hemisphere summer, I’m offering up this rehash/reprint from a younger, stronger, handsomer… me.

Eight short years ago (June 2013) this week I wrote this post, a fantasized vision of my own funeral.

Morbid, maybe… but also how fun really! Let’s hit the time machine on this mini pseudo-philosophical tale…

………………

The rear swing door of the black hearse sitting in the horseshoe-shaped driveway was already gaping open like a Domino’s pizza oven, impatiently waiting for the deceased’s delivery.

.

hearse door ajar

Sun rays were prying their way between the clouds, trying desperately to make this final day bright.

Alone, I hesitated a second at the tall, heavy oak door of the generic staid but stolid funeral home – I pulled it open. Within seconds, a tall, dark-suited bespectacled man approached.

Did you know the deceased well?

He was dignified and compassionate in his well-honed professional approach to terminal matters.

Very, I said, grinning in a sheepish, modest sort of fashion.

In fact, I AM the deceased.

I spoke in a breathy whisper, hoping he would pick up on the discretion I wanted for such an unusual occurrence. He barely blinked when I said it though…

How often does this happen? This guy was a pro. He slide-stepped a quarter turn sideways and gestured with a sweep of his arm that I might like to enter the chapel.

I was worried that I would be noticed when I passed into the dimly-lit open hall so I sat down quickly on one of the empty long wooden pews at the back of the room.

Funeral chapel

Fortunately, in churches and funeral homes, people don’t turn around to look behind them. You only look left, right, or forwards. I haven’t perused the holy book lately so perhaps it’s some religious rule, maybe even a commandment–  that you don’t turn around unless they start to play “Here Comes The Bride“, and then it’s rude NOT to turn around.

Music … I love music. Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” was just ending and the distinctive guitar picking of James Taylor began softly echoing off the high wood-panelled ceiling of the chapel – “You’ve Got a Friend”… I closed my eyes and absorbed one of my favourite songs.

I was adjusting my pant leg when a woman’s voice coming from my right whispered, “Are you the dead fellow?

My eyes were just adapting to the low lights of the room. Surprised, I turned to see an elderly woman scrinching her way, sliding gently towards me on the bench. She looked familiar, but only in the way that any woman of her age might remind you of your grandmother. She was squinting at me through her thick eyeglasses.

How did you know that?

– Well, you might think its a bit strange, but I come to a funeral here every week. IF there’s a funeral on a Friday. I have bridge club on Thursday and my daughter comes to help me out on Wednesdays. The other days just don’t feel like funeral days to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m Catholic. Fridays feel like a funeral day.

She slid her hands slowly over the knees of her dark dress to straighten the pleats that had been disrupted on her slide towards me.

– I never know the dead person, but I enjoy a good funeral. I get to see and hear the sum of a person’s life in about a half hour. I learn a lot about what’s important to different people. Sometimes it’s all just religious rigamarole – sandwich without a filling – almost like the dead person never existed. But sometimes, there’s a whole gourmet dinner laid out of a person’s soul. It makes me see my own life better somehow. I like those ones.

She fell quiet when she spotted the man in the dark suit, the same one that greeted me at the front door, approach the podium at the front of the room.

man speaking at funeral

He paused at the metal-faced lectern, looked down quietly at his notes, then slowly looked back up, and began:

One of the great benefits of living for a number of years, is that we absorb and observe and enjoy the things that make our time as humans on earth special and memorable. We experience the multitude of stages that constitute a life. Birth, childhood, teen years, first loves, fast cars and vehicles, first jobs, the stresses and great joys of family life and interacting with people that surround us. We see beauty, and pain, in so many forms, often those things that we glance past in early years become the treasures of our later lives.

-If Larry was with us here today, if he was sitting right here in this chapel at this moment…

He glanced with a small ironic smile towards the back of the room where I was sitting.

– if he was here, he would want us to reflect on the things that mattered greatly to him and at least take them into consideration in the living of our everyday lives. 

Hallelujah brother, I wanted to yell out.

But I didn’t want to distract the modest crowd of mourners and well-wishers who had broken away from their daily existences to say a final farewell to a small piece, a fragment really, for most of them, of their lives.

Aside from close family, a funeral, at its most basic level isn’t really about the person who has passed. A funeral is about how each of us reacts in the moment, decides our own personal life course, and editorializes how we’re doing so far.

– Highly spiritual but not a typically religious man, Larry suggested in his final requests that I put in a good word about 5 things that stood out for him and that made his own existence special and noteworthy.

spiritual path
  • Love of creativity. Creativity surrounds and envelops us every day. Almost everything we touch from simple kitchen gadgets to fancy cars is there because another human conceived and made it. Our medicines, our clothes, chocolate bars. You name it, simple or complex, it needed creativity. Music, sculpture, yes even Fifty Shades of Grey… they all originated in the amazing mind. We need to observe and appreciate the good and great we’ve created and be mindful of the not so good. But more importantly, we need to be an active participant and create within our own sphere too. Create a garden, create a meal to be remembered, create a poem, create a pair of socks. Perform some idea sex and create something totally unexpected. Absorb others’ creations but take the time to make your own little masterpiece too.
  • Love of at least one other who loves you back. The warmth of another’s love and respect is what makes humans human. It grounds us, it gives us purpose. Giving love to someone else lifts up the poorest beggar to the richest monarch. It can’t be bought, it can’t be sold, but it’s more valuable than the Crown Jewels.
  • Love of health and activity. Our bodies are striated top to bottom with muscle. Bone and blood and muscle thrive on movement, active movement. Our mind muscles and our body muscles all feel better when they’re exercised and strengthened. An internal global sense of health and well-being starts with active movement.
  • Love of the unknown… fearlessness. Stepping to the edge of the metaphorical ledge makes our heart race and our soul sing. Horror movies are so popular because they take us to the edge of our comfort zones, creating a sense of exhilaration, but pulling back and leaving us drained from a cathartic high. Taking ourselves to the limit or into an area that intrigues but intimidates us at the same time is a fantastic journey that puts LIFE into life. I’m told that Larry confided once that running marathons or learning another language in a strange, exotic locale filled him with fear. But, living and pushing forward into that fear is exhilaration exemplified.
  • Love of the senses. This is a world replete with sights, sounds, smells that can overfill our senses, and yet we often downplay or ignore them. We need to learn to slow our breathing and absorb the plethora of beauty in all its forms that surround us. The smoothness of pine needles, the scent of seafood in a crowded marketplace, the roar of a jet piercing the sky overhead, the glitter of the setting sun rays caressing the lake surface at sunset. Our lives can be so much richer when we take the time to appreciate the exquisiteness around us.

– So, Larry asked that we all retreat within ourselves today and reflect on those things we feel an affinity, a love, a respect, a passion for in our days and years living this amazing miracle that brought us to this place, this time, this world that evolved from no one yet knows what or where.

Oh, and one more thing. Larry wanted me to add…  eat some chocolate … always eat some chocolate!

Life can be as simple as that sometimes.

coffin crisp

The time felt right for me to leave.

The old lady next to me turned and nodded knowingly with a small smile. Leaning in slowly, she bussed her lips against my cheek and whispered, “Thank you for the lovely soulful meal you made for me today. I’m going to think about the things that were important to you. I’m glad we had this chance to meet.

I stood and took one last look over the group of my friends, my relatives, my life.

Some were smiling, some were gently wiping beneath their eyes with white kleenex; the ladies dressed in mixtures of short and long skirts, with sweet floral smells and red lips. Men in dark suits, some in clean blue jeans and open necked shirts, a disjointed harmony of style and generation that spoke of honour and fashion.

To my own surprise, I felt good. It was a bittersweet moment knowing that my own few eternal seconds had come and passed so so quickly.

I turned and pushed my way through the door of the chapel. Instantly, a brilliant white light shone through the upper windows of the funeral home, the sun had won its skirmish with the clouds.

I wasn’t sure where the white light led but I felt a robust attraction to first one exit door on my left and then an equally strong pull towards an exit door on the right.

On each door a sign was posted prominently on its surface. The one to the left stated:

Buddha awaits your reincarnation

The sign on the door to my right said:

Chocolate Eternity

I hesitated and thought deeply.

SERIOUSLY? All of life’s philosophies come down to this?

Maybe death can be as simple as that.

I paused for a moment longer, then smiled a little smile and stepped confidently forward. I’d made my choice.

With all my strength I threw open the door.

2 more doors

A Man In Tights… Just Isn’t Necessary…

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NO… a man in tights is not a pretty sight… at least not to me…

… nor is the male Speedo bathing suit (crotch hammock) considered a SuperStud look, at least beyond the sightlines of an Italian Riviera beach…

… further … and at a more personal level, I’ve been oft reminded of my own Speedo debacles many times in the late 80’s and early ’90’s by my kids- with the haunted look of Edvard Munch’s The Scream on their faces – whilst training diligently for triathlons adorned in this briefest of briefs…

No… a man in tights or anything similar just isn’t necessary.

Back in my kid’dom, my family went summer camping at Port Elgin on Georgian Bay, an offshoot of Lake Huron.

These were the best kid summers ever, befitting the iconic Beach Boys era of music and bikini’d babes on the beach. Close your eyes and envision Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon running in the sun-drenched sand.

Occasionally on one of those sticky-humid summer evenings when the late-day sun cast beautiful amber tones on our faces, we’d get lucky and my parents would take us out to a “professional” wrestling match at the local arena.

Passing through the building’s doors the atmosphere was excited and boisterous, swirling scents of fresh popcorn, underarm sweat and cigar smoke filled the arena air.

The famous “tights” boys of the time were Whipper Billy Watson (always the gentlemanly good guy), Haystacks Calhoun, Bruno Sammartino, The Sheik (the ultimate villain, racism thrived!), Sweet Daddy Siki.

For a pre-pubertal boy, these nights were the closest thing to a wet dream there was…

… the tights that squeezed like sausage casings over the generally rotund bodies were colourful and fashionably imaginative… and anatomically revealing… which makes me wonder today just what Billy Watson’s “Whipper” nickname referred to??

It just wasn’t necessary…

It was in this timeframe that I personally began flirting with sexy undergarments …

I’m an old-time hockey player… as a 6 or 7 year-old, I began wearing a garter belt to hold up my hockey socks before I had any knowledge of gender issues. Marilyn Monroe uses these? Does she play hockey too?

If my Dad had only known about it, I may have been pulled from the Parkdale Steelers hockey team. A gentleman of his Mad Men era wouldn’t calmly tolerate a boy of his wearing girly underthings.

Years passed, and in my high school of the 1970’s, a number of the boys looked to impress the sweet female audience in our classes.

Preparing themselves in the bathroom before the start of class, the brawny bold guys sat down manspreading in their desk chairs with cocky grins on their faces… they carefully ensured their clothed member was skillfully outlined down either the right or left leg of their tight pants, like a hungry, adolescent serpent hiding in the bushes.

I don’t know if sex sells in the high school classroom but they were trying their best to impress with largesse.

It just wasn’t necessary.

One last example: who really wants to see the bulky enclosure that male ballet dancers use to hide/highlight their elephant trunk?

I enjoy dance performance… but, sometimes, I find watching the dance becomes less about technique and beautiful movement… and more an observation of what the hell is that pup tent apparatus, holding everything in place down there?

I wonder if maybe the wine served at intermission is really intended to wipe away the lingering vision of the lycra crotch bubble (“hello, my face is up here…”).

As a general observation, men’s fashion when it comes to the area where the twig and berries hang out is a scary and precarious thing.

I figure there’s a reason why male anatomy mags never really took off the way the girlie mags did… us boys don’t carry the same artistic lure in our “Y” region… we pack functionality for sure, but any aesthetic beauty was shunted aside for this usefulness.

It’s reassuring for you – and my kids – that I’ll likely never be found in “tights”, or a Speedo, again in my lifetime… small mercies and all.

Today, I carefully shield my gentletalia from public view as much as possible… it’s my kind and gentle contribution to fairness and all that is good in the world…

… and heavens, should there be an accidental exposure? Well, the skillful Stephen King couldn’t put a more chilling horror show together with all his weird word’ish expertise.

Let’s face it… it just isn’t necessary…

Holding Back The Death Of A GrandMinstrel…

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By a number of measures, I should be dead.

I drove my 1967 Rambler American more than a dozen times while numbingly inebriated before I turned 19. The lights of Main Street were lit, and so was I.

Terrible choice, absolutely, but also – poor excuse aside – common in that era.

On more than one occasion I recall thinking to myself after arriving safely back home late at night…

… shit, I don’t remember that drive.

I wouldn’t describe it as a blackout but more a trance-like state, as if someone else had taken control of the steering wheel and magically transported me home while I hazily observed. Gage Park wobbled back and forth in my heavy eyes as I passed by…

I could have killed myself, or even more tragically, some innocent pedestrian or decent steelworker making his journey home to his family upon finishing an afternoon shift at Dofasco (my boyhood hometown Hamilton, Ontario is a well-known steel-making city).

At other times, I’ve foolishly wandered down dark alleys in seedy areas of cities (eg. Hamburg, Germany, or Granada, Nicaragua) where you could reasonably expect a grisly murder to occur… or gone home with total strangers that I know I shouldn’t have but was too polite to say “NO THANKS” (it’s that damned Canadian politeness factor)!

I’ve scuba-dived down deep… jumped from an airplane at 10,000 feet (yes, WITH a parachute attached, I’m not a TOTAL idiot!).

Minor and major life-threatening events occur to each of us throughout our days and come at us from different angles… some we anxiously avoid and some we dive into wholeheartedly.

BUT… still…

I fear death… do you?

I fear it more intensely now than when I was younger and even more witless.

Why? The fear isn’t so much about a lack of courage (although I would easily win the part of the Lion in The Wizard of Oz!) I’ve decided that it comes down to a big three for me… CURIOSITYFOMO (Fear of Missing Out) … and AMBITION.

I begrudge you death…

CURIOSITY?

Despite all the daily worries and problems out there in the big world, and certainly not for everyone, but… to me, the time in which we live is a Golden Age.

And the mountain of gold is growing bigger still.

In my murky crystal ball I foresee huge peaks of future excitement.

Technology has increasingly enlivened my days with each passing year, and the wonders of new ways of doing things, communicating, travelling, learning, and relating to the world around me.

I’m flabbergasted and invigorated with enthusiasm for what is still to come. It makes me giddy… and I don’t want to miss a thing even if I don’t understand it all. Humanity’s creativity has generated some crazy and amazing stuff.

Masters and those who display a high level of creative energy are simply people who manage to retain a sizable portion of their childhood spirit despite the pressures and demands of adulthood.”   Robert Greene, author

Which brings me to…

FOMO?

Add to this curiosity my relatively new (3 years) experiment as a grandfather, and again, I don’t want to miss out on seeing all the potential and wonder of who and what becomes of my young successors.

There’s a heightened level of pride that seems to skip a generation where it comes to grandchildren: perhaps there’s less intense pressure as a grandparent to micro-manage the little ones’ day-to-day direction that frees us to see the beauty and marvel of a developing new life.

What a loss it would, and will be, to miss these million milestones …

AMBITION?

This is tied part and parcel into this compulsion I have for goal-setting that I’ve mentioned here on numerous occasions.

Guitar skills, songwriting, new cooking artistry, language learning, running targets… goals towards anything that gets my heart racing for all the positive reasons related to the marvels of endorphins.

I’m a minstrel at heart who pines to become a better minstrel… and becoming better at anything – as Malcolm Gladwell will happily tell you- requires time and HOURS of practice.

I need time because… Death has a way of cutting short practice time…

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”   E.E. Kenyon, 1953

The thing is, life is short and precarious. Much of our success in living another day is as much luck as anything else.

To attain old age is akin to the way the late Bob Ross painted his quiet little masterpieces, all… “happy little accidents“…

In a breath this grandminstrel (ie. me) will be dust in the wind, a universal nomad… no matter my curiosity, FOMO or ambition… it’s preordained…

The bottom line just has to be Carpe Diem... wash your hands, eat your vegetables, live your life in high-definition, bravely, fully and well…

Let me know if you have a fear of dying, and if so, why.

PS You can put your mind at ease… I haven’t driven under the influence in many…. decades!

PPS Just one more reason to live a long time… I want to wear these clothes that are smarter than me!

Back To The Future aka The Way We Were…

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I’m guilty and so are you… probably…

Every generation, at least in the past 100+ years thinks…

… that’s there’s something hugely wrong about the next generation.

They’re irresponsible or lazy or inappropriate or ill-mannered or off-base.

It’s your kids, Marty! Something’s gotta be done about your kids!”

Doc Brown, Back To The Future

……..

Yup, just plunk yourself down at a table in a bar or a coffee-shop (when it’s COVID-allowed) and listen to the vintage-gangs of older men or grey-haired women… catch the greasy wafts of Brylcreem and Oil of Olay mixed with caffeine and righteousness...

John will gruffly complain about the government and how they coddle the unemployed or the youth, “we worked hard for everything in our day, there were no handouts.”, he’ll say.

Susan will lament about how the new Mom’s are slack and overly-attentive to their children’s every scrape or bruise, “it’s like the sacred kids can’t breathe without their mother’s phone camera catching every blessed inhale.”

So, are they right?

All of us have a fixed point of reference in our lives, and that point begins the moment we cry out and inhale our very first breath.

Everything that is “normal” in the world is what happens after our “birth”day and in our first few years.

The normal world isn’t what occurred 100 years ago or 100 years from now… it’s what we see and hear with our own eyes in our early years.

Case in point: The house where you grew up probably didn’t exist 100 years before you were born, but to you … that house is what is NORMAL, not the forest of trees that lived there for hundreds of years before.

Before and after that, it’s just a cluster-fuck… all aberrant and crazy.

Think about it and reflect a bit… every school, every job, every value and every technology that rolls out is compared to what we’ve personally experienced through our life: our own formative days and years.

I’m convinced all the old crotchety people *which might mean ME* we encounter are viewing the world through this jaundiced lens… which is why we so often hear the elder generation say… “it’s not like it was when I was growing up“.

And they’re right… it’s not.

Countless things have changed and will keep on changing.

Our existence – like a rose’s bloom – is in constant flux.

Generations back, fathers and sons shared the same “worldview” from generation to generation knowing that they were farmers today and farmers tomorrow… mothers and daughters knew that they were housekeepers and child-raisers for all their days.

But the Industrial Revolution followed by the Information Revolution came along and the wheels kept spinning faster and faster. Farmers became accountants and assembly line workers, housewives evolved into lawyers and engineers.

Parents grudgingly adjusted to the new reality while hoping this revolutionary change would stop with them.

But it never did. And their kids pushed the envelope and kept “remodelling and retooling”. They loved Elvis and Marilyn Manson, not Bach or Benny Goodman.

To your parents and grandparents, you became the one that was leading a ridiculously misguided life.

Time passed, and one day you perhaps became a parent yourself. And the wheels of change kept on rolling, rolling, rolling.

Today, every child is bombarded by hundreds of TV shows on a dozen platforms, thousands of websites, daily changes to software and apps that they use in every waking moment.

Kids’ Moms and Dads both work outside the home and tread life’s water as fast as they can with outdated tools that were given them 10, 20, or 30 years back.

They paddle hard but they’re helpless against the flood coming at them.

These same kids too will find themselves snowed under one day in the near future and recount to their own kids about how life was simpler and more sensible in their day.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with each successive generation… different, yes, but not wrong…

The way we were isn’t the way we are… nope…

We are living in a Back To The Future world… good golly Miss Molly… Marty McFly is… US!

PS Random thought from the blog post of INVERSE:

Riddle me this: Both of these organs guard their contents closely, appear wrinkly on the outside, and can determine the course of an individual life. What are they?

We’re talking about the brain and the testicles.

Human male testes and brains create more than 13,000 of the same proteins, more than any other tissues in the body, and partially control what makes humans unique.

So don’t laugh when men think from below the waist… it’s a part of our smart DNA….

And Now For Something Deliciously Different…

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You gotta eat… right?

OK, well, other than Karen Carpenter… What? Too soon?!

Food for me is like the rest of my existence… it’s an ADHD kind of thing…

I detest mealtime rehashes (at least in the short term).

Every meal, every night… better be something very different from last night or the night before or the …

And something else… you could be forgiven for thinking that as a former lab guy, I would be extremely precise and scientific in my cooking adventures.

That I’d follow recipes to the T like some Julia Child or Child of Julia… BUT, sadly… you would be wrong.

Perhaps I was born to be a lab researcher because I’m constantly tinkering with food preparations… add some turmeric here… more tomato paste there… definitely another teaspoon (although WHO uses an actual teaspoon?) of cinnamon…. less cumin today but let’s throw in some fenugreek leaves.

………….

A man who measures life, never knows his own measure”… from Today’s Special (movie)

………….

And of course the magic ingredient to any dish – savoury or sweet – is a smidgen of sugar.

There’s still more lucky magic for this spoiled late-model westerner…

… beyond my early-life acquaintance with WASPy European cuisinery styles, I’ve been exposed to a hodgepodge of ethnic approaches to cooking through neighbours, friends and relatives…

… but also from various journeys afar to play in the kitchens of cooks from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to Havana, Cuba, from Marrakesh, Morocco to Udaipur, India, from Cusco, Peru to Xian, China.

Guinea pig (cuy) in Cusco, Peru
Curry preps in Udaipur, India
Chicken Tajine making in Marrakesh, Morocco

But this COVID era has metaphorically abducted the frying pan from my hands, so I thought I’d review and reflect on some of my favourite “victuals” movies … food flix are a socially acceptable form of sensual porn, don’t you think?

Just this morning, after deciding to write about this topic, I shockingly realized that I’ve missed out on a cornucopia of delectable comestible cinema… why have I missed so many of these yummy selections?

Sure, I’ve absorbed Ratatouille, Fried Green Tomatoes, Chocolat, The Hundred Foot Journey, Julie and Julia… plus most of TV’s Anthony Bourdain, Stanley Tucci in Italy, and The Great British/Canadian Baking Shows… sorry Gordon Ramsay… your food porn is too much like a sexual assault to make it onto my food-lovin’ playlist.

Today, for fun, I thought I’d list a mere few of the movies for you to consider watching that different sites and reviewers think are the Best of the Best, Most Delicious of the Delectables, Chewiest of the Chows.… with a helpful international cuisine guidepost so you can pick your favourite dish from a country of your choosing.

So, here goes… some wonderful calorie-free cinematic morsels for you to chew on and digest:

FRENCH

Babette’s Feast

Julie and Julia

Chocolat

Burnt

Ratatouille

ITALIAN

Big Night

Dinner Rush

MEXICAN

Like Water For Chocolate

Tortilla Soup

CHINESE

Eat Drink Man Woman

BBQ

Fried Green Tomatoes

Uncorked

INDIAN

The Lunchbox

The Hundred Foot Journey (French/Indian)

Maacher Jhol

Nina’s Heavenly Delights

Today’s Special

KOREAN

Always Be My Maybe

Antique

CUBAN

Chef

JAPANESE

Tampopo

The Ramen Girl

Sweet Bean

GERMAN

Mostly Martha

• And finally… to finish off this culinary erotic expedition… a movie about PIE!!

WAITRESS… who could go wrong while sampling these classics… MARSHMELLOW MERMAID PIE, FALLING IN LOVE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE PIE, NAUGHTY PUMPKIN PIE, OLD JOE’S HORNY PIE

… try feasting your palate on some of these cooking movies… a lusty love story in every bite.

The Torture of Your Choices

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We’re a mystery to ourselves…

🎶nu nu nu nu🎶… your next stop is…

.

.

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What cup of coffee or tea do you prefer?

Starbucks?… Tim Hortons?… Costa Coffee’s?… your own?…

Decaf? Oat milk? Hazelnut shot? Cold Brew? Green or black tea?

Frappuccino? Acai? Hibiscus? Mocha? Guava? Passion fruit?

OMG, caffeine-waterboarding… it’s torture! Choices and more choices… everyone’s different, yes?

And still more choices… when you read my posts.

I understand that you reading this is a privilege for me because you have the choice.

That you vote to take a few minutes away from 100 other things you could do or read or watch is humbling. It’s the nature of our 21st century multi-choice universe that the option to flip past me is the easiest thing ever.

What makes me so special to deserve your eyeballs? I’m not John Krasinski handsome or Malcolm Gladwell insightful.

After 9 years of writing these weekly missives, I know that readers come and readers go, and a brave (or foolish!!) small number of you have stayed with me from Day One… I thank you.

But honestly, as much as I appreciate you, I don’t write for you as my #1 motivation. I’ll tell you what is in a minute…

This is fortunate because I don’t earn a living – hell, even a pittance… sniff… not even a penny – from my weekly word count.

Of course I peruse the number of views I have on my posts each week and from which country you originate (that’s it… I don’t get your name or city, just your country)…

…the social part of me, like Sally Field (YOU love me!), loves the recognition that you read my words, or make a comment, or click a LIKE.

But I don’t obsess over or tailor my words to suit any individual or group.

Now I do sometimes read my posts as if I’m “possessed” by one of you (will I channel YOU this week?). I put myself in your shoes and try to interpret what I’m saying through YOUR filter (or what I perceive as your filter).

I like to present and challenge ideas without offending – there’s space for us all.

I accept that each of us sees the world in a slightly different way. However, I will choose reason and scientific fact over rumour or rhetoric where facts exist.

Emotion and opinion have their place too, but they should be secondary to fact. The internet has hugely challenged our ability to think rationally with roiling oceans of pseudo-truths (alternative facts).

Back to me navel-gazing…

Motivation #1 for this blog?

My thinking and personal understanding happens when I write… I access ME when I put words to paper, or screen, or song.

Really… I’m ultra-clumsy in interpersonal verbal interactions… I fumble and stumble and say inappropriate things that I would never do or say if I had a minute or an hour to think and reflect. Fortunately this “woke” dude has learned to NEVER ask a woman when she is “due”.

I also try NOT to be inspired by the misogynistic male judge (John Michael Higgins) from the movie Pitch Perfect commenting on the female singers: This does not look like the fresh-faced nubile Bellas that we have come to know. Is it me, or are those skirts just not working anymore?

I know many others who can think faster than a blink of the eye, who explore their inner thoughts and opinions while speaking… their brain functions best through the spoken word. I am in awe of the fast thinkers of the world.

I’m a slow thinker. Whatever “intelligence” I possess happens while I write… I find my insights and perceptions while writing my blog posts, and in my personal e-mails, and in my songwriting.

I’m constantly shovelling/writing to delve further inside myself looking for understanding – of myself and of the world around me. In that moment I’m Stephen King with magic powers.

This intelligence typically takes me 500 or 1,000 words to surface… anything less and my head is spinning like I just got off a fast Merry-Go-Round ie. no substance or understanding…

A miniskirt-short blog post is like a Twitter post…

Jerry Seinfeld says: “Twitter is good. Why say a lot to a few people when you can say virtually nothing to everyone?”

… but more than 1,000 words in my post and it’s just VD (verbal diarrhea). Maybe that’s one thing I learned from Hemingway’s brevity.

Back to Seinfeld… he’s my philosopher of the week… for some obvious reasons I can’t use Bill Gates for awhile now.

Seinfeld observes that people who are comedians work at understanding themselves, while actors observe people in order to play different characters.

I would add to this that poets and songwriters also look inside for understanding of themselves and the cosmos. Do you see yourself in any of these roles?

So, this week’s “Larry Wisdom”?

If, at some time, you feel introspective, “choose” a cup of your favourite espresso or oolong and think about your best route to “finding” the you that lies deep beneath the surface. It might be your best Twilight Zone experience ever.

One last Seinfeldian observation of this crazy world to ponder:

If aliens are watching us through telescopes, they’re going to think the dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them’s making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?”

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