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I Have Bagina Envy …

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Boy did we get it wrong. 

Who is this WE I’m talking about?

MEN.

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All these many Freudian decades we thought that women suffered the slings and arrows of PENIS ENVY. Ha!

It’s difficult for me to say this, but the painful non-patriarchal truth is that I, and most men actually suffer from BAGINA envy (see, it’s so difficult and painful that I can’t even say the real word!) … the Grandest of All Canyons.

OK, it’s probably not envy so much as worship. It’s like the control centre of our universe. We always thought that Captain Kirk (Penis) was at the helm of the Starship Enterprise, but really, all along it was Commander Uhura (Bagina), the Communications Officer.

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Yup, the Bagina is in charge…

We can’t help it. We just can’t help it.

It’s not a conscious choice where we men sit ourselves down at the conference table one morning and say, “Today I shall lay myself at the blessed altar of the bagina.” Unh-uh. Some joker of a mind programmer inserted a viral chunk of code in our heads that dictates, “you must have the Bagina, the more the better”.

There’s a ton of science behind it all.

Many have addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, race horses (for betting, not carnal relations) … these are isolated, one-or-two-off dependencies for select individuals. ALL heterosexual men have an addiction to the big V, bar none. Why are porn websites so popular?… yup, worship of the bagina.

But are women as beholden to the phallic member of their male brethren?

By the popularity of BDSM literature like 50 Shades of Grey, you might be tempted to think so. But really I think that women are more attracted to the romance and desire inherent in the stories … a penis just happens to be involved – perhaps this is one more instance where a man is incidental to the true lusty lure.

Women say that men don’t understand them, which is probably true. Of course it works the other way around as well. Just as Men Are From Mars and Women From Venus, women don’t necessarily understand the primal sexual urge that propels the male head(s).

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The appeal of visual porn for men and written erotica for women reveals the differences between the needs of the two genders. Men are viscerally turned on by the mere sight of female skin – foreplay be damned – show us a bagina, and we’re 95% of the way to steamy liftoff.

Women say “hold on … talk to me, hold me, tell me I’m desirable, touch me all over, not just on the naughty bits. Let’s make this performance a full-length feature, not just a 30 second commercial break.” 

…………………………..

Women know the formidable power that resides in their nether regions. Men have guns and swords and big bicep muscles for weapons. Women carry an arsenal that’s far different. They wield a softer, furrier form of authority that they carry with them at all times and can never set down or misplace. Men fear, yet yearn for it more than they fear or covet the sword.

…………………………..

To be in possession of a bagina confers automatic membership to an exclusive club, no boys allowed.

It’s a whole secret organization, a club for bagina owners, like the Freemasons or the Knights of Pythias (what the hell is a Knight of Pythias anyway? … is there some connection to urine worship here?)

There are pluses and minuses to Bagina Club membership, but the real bottom line of the clique is that its members secretly rule the world, a sort of  The DaVinci Code.

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Men have no Penile Club to belong to where they share genital inside information with their comrades … no “I’ve got penile cramps”… no, “I’m a week late”, no, “is it hot in here, or am I just having a hot flash?”. NOPE, nothin’.

Women share the mystery and glory of their private parts as cooperative partners with other women. They carry spare tampons and pads for those stranded in distress. They nod compassionately and offer Midol to those in cramped discomfort. They visit restrooms (something they call “Powder Rooms”) together.

The closest men come to this clubby sort of atmosphere resides in the urinal line-up where we huddle in straight lines, hand-on-member, looking bored into a cold, tiled wall 6 inches from our nose … sure, 6 inches is really more like 3 inches, but we boys have difficulty determining true length. Talking is frowned upon while urinating because it just feels too intimate to be chatting to another guy when you have a penis in your hand.

Yes, to men, the bagina – and its club – are mysterious. The bagina is, like the Wizard of Oz, hidden behind a lacy curtain and all powerful.

Here are some of the features, tenets, advantages, and disadvantages of belonging to the BAGINA CLUB. I can’t know them all because I don’t have a membership card to the coven of adherents (and obviously never will):

  1. Women have monthly menstruation … until they don’t, then another set of complications arises.
  2. Women have hysterectomies – this is the easy way out of the complications mentioned above.
  3. The bagina doesn’t protrude like a pistol when excited.
  4. Women need options: Birth control pill, the ring, IUD’s, hormone shots, sponges, diaphragms, even female condoms. It’s like a shoe closet for the bagina.
  5. There are whole aisles of product set aside in supermarkets for the care, scent and maintenance of the bagina … no penis aisles. OK, one shelf of condoms, but men don’t really want to use the product, so who is it really for?
  6. There are special spa treatments for the bagina… Brazilian waxing, bikini waxing, sugaring, threading, bidet rinsing.
  7. Sexual performance isn’t complicated … the emergency backup method is a bottle of lube, and if it’s still there in four hours, you don’t have to consult a physician.  You just wash it off.
  8. Cutesy names: Peach Pit – Velvet Office – Temperamental Tunnel –  Garden of Eden –  Pride Lands –  Love Cushion –  Nappy Dugout –  Kitty Kat –  Mystical Fold –  Pandora’s Pink Box – Box Office

So for all the men who have derogatory comments about the one place they are constantly, actively trying to enter, and for all the ladies who are the gatekeepers of such an exclusive location, listen up.

I think we can all agree that women are not going to give up the “pit of power” anytime soon. So let’s shelve the Freudian pretense that women envy and want what we have and accept that girls have a more desirable “Playhouse” than boys.

The consolation? We boys still have control over the power tools  – at least the ones that reside outside the bedroom – the TV remote and the BBQ.

What more could we want?

Yes, you are the king here, and THIS is as good as it gets!

Yes, you are the king here, and THIS is as good as it gets!

The Zen of Travel and Bucket List Maintenance …

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Map of the United States-4

12 Days … 8 States… a “taste” of many places and sights… Nevada (blue surrounded by red) will have its own stop one day later on …

Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold. Why, you can reach out anywhere and pick an orange. Why there’s always some kind of crop to work in. Why don’t you go there?
 The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck

 

Salinas, California – Huddled gangs of male, dark-skinned immigrant workers sway swiftly, expertly in the skin-searing sunshine. Salty drips of sweat glisten on their faces as they creep steadily forward, feeding the machine.

It’s a synchronized dance – bent over at the waist, quietly swinging their arms and hands back and forth, cutting off the lettuce head at its base, then flipping the green, leafy bundles upwards to the hungry motorized contraption that semi-automates the harvesting of vegetables.

A quiet mix of Spanish chatter accompanies the work train as it inches, like a fuzzy caterpillar, over the landscape.

Women workers sit crouched under the shaded canopy of the moving machine, catch the lettuce head tossed their way and rapidly strip any stray or dirty leaves before layering the head into a waxed cardboard box that is whisked away across the country to your neighbourhood supermarket or restaurant.

 

Harvesting Romaine Lettuce in Salinas, California

Harvesting Romaine Lettuce in Salinas, California

Hundreds and thousands of store shelves are filled with heads harvested every day in this very same way, using the inexpensive sweat of a Mexican worker’s brow.

If you had a salad this week that crunched with lettuce, chances are it came from this field, or one just like it in California’s famed Salinas Valley. 80% of the lettuce consumed in North America is grown in the seemingly endless trench of flat, fertile farmland south of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

On the dirt roads that line the edges of the field are mobile Porta-Potties… 5 to 10 upright pee and poop houses pulled on wheels like a wagon train behind dusty pickup trucks that follow the workers from field to field.

Field after crazy long field look the same – endless rows covered with leafy greens stretching off to the far-distant hills.

It’s a modern, ghost-like vision of the 1930’s Depression-era John Steinbeck novels Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.

Of course in the 1930’s harvesting was done with the grunt labour of the displaced mid-western sharecropper forced off his land by drought and dustbowl conditions.

Today, the Mexican labourer is the standard-bearer for the 30-40C hard work while his American counterpart drives an air-conditioned Hybrid-powered Prius to work in Silicon Valley’s shiny Apple and Adobe office buildings just a few miles north of here.

Reading Steinbeck’s stories of the Depression and the Salinas Valley was a treat for me in high school – his detailed, painted descriptions put me in the hot field alongside the poor emigrant farmer from Cimmaron, Oklahoma or Dallas, South Dakota.

Depression workers in field

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We’ve been off driving through 8 western U.S. states for the past two weeks – absorbing the stunning views and the sounds, smells, and tastes of the country and its people – a fast-paced 14 day “tasting” tour.

This journey is another slice of the pie that makes up my bucket list goal of visiting each of the 50 American states – a slice bitten into and consumed in years past has been walking the roads of each Canadian province and territory.

Of course, this one blog post can’t bite very deeply into such a large pie. And so I’ll share with you an appetizer “taste” from each state we passed through of the larger impressions and themes that swirl in my head from such an odyssey.

But firstan important starter.

Music.

I always find a way of cementing a trip like this or any other into my mind, is to choose one song that somehow connects with the memory and impressions of the scenery and the people. We all know a certain song heard years later re-immerses us in the sights, sounds and smells of a moment in time.

With the exception of California, the musical sounds of the western America’s radio airwaves are dominated by country station after country station, while the talk radio is all evangelical scripture and deep-voiced preacher types.

One song played over and over again each day that I couldn’t resist singing like my hair was blowing long and unfettered in the breeze – Bartender – sung by the trio Lady Antebellum –  a harmonious blend of voices, pop-country beat and great banjo picking at the end of the chorus (I even enjoyed the song before I’d seen the video featuring blond eye-candy Kate Upton — BONUS!!). This song will project a clear vision of the highways of the western U.S. onto my interior TV screen for years to come.

And so now, my quick and dirty impressions:

  • WASHINGTON – Known as a huge apple-growing state I was taken by surprise to find a prairie landscape on its interior roadways. The stretches of blacktop between Spokane and Grand Coulee Dam were surrounded on both sides by monstrously huge grain and hay fields stretching into the distance. It only seemed appropriate to eat a COW PIEmashed potatoes, corn, crumbled meatloaf smothered in gravy – at the Cowboy Cafe in Davenport. YeeHaw!

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    Where are the apple trees?

  • OREGON – Sparkling sun interspersed with fog and mist along the twisting bends of craggy shoreline, azure sea and royal-blue sky. Scents of salt and slightly fishy breeze had me dreaming of the next serving of clam chowder and crab with each step along the long, sandy beaches.
  • CALIFORNIA – Towering redwood and sequoia forests made tunnels every few miles along the weaving highway north of San Francisco. When you entered the grove, the air became damp in the dark and cool, as if someone had turned out the lights in the room. The car danced between the trees that hugged the edge of the roadway. Deep, vertical striations in the bark of the grand trees lead your eyes upwards, straight up like pencils because the trees have no signs of any bend in them. There was no branch growth going up for 40, 50, sometimes 100 feet.

Further south and west of L.A. – beyond Palm Springs and gargantuan “wind-turbine farms”, the hot, dry, desert highways were lined with mile after mile of plantations of almond and pistachio orchards.

  • ARIZONA – Scrubby desert, McDonalds billboards, and 44C temperatures led us to the precipice of the striated, colourful Grand Canyon. Despite being the “shoulder season”, licence plates from across North America jammed the numerous parking lots leading to the Visitor Center and the edges of the immense canyon. Yes, it was GRAND!IMG_4562
  • UTAH – 80 mile-per-hour (135kph) speed limits carried us northward like a strong tailwind. Evenly-spaced green grass clumps speckling the wide valleys like a measles epidemic collided with hillsides of red soil and rock. And then the white white granite architecture of Salt Lake City arose, the spotless homebase of Latter Day Saints. Immense, shuddering musical notes emanating from the colossal pipe organ inside the Mormon Tabernacle leave me breathless and at an unexplainably heightened spiritual level.
  • IDAHO – Highways that in most areas normally rumble along with a happy mix of auto and 18-wheel freight truck traffic, are taken over by heavily-laden potato trucks running just-harvested tonnes of spuds to markets and storage depots and french fry processing plants. Yes, Idaho really does grow potatoes, lots of potatoes. I pulled out a bottle of ketchup and began to salivate as I drove alongside.
  • WYOMING – Yellowstone Park has an amazing landscape of geysers, steamy outbursts, and bubbling mud flats. And then, of course, each 90 minutes, Old Faithful, the lover that never tires, recreates its explosive show over and over. It attracts tourists to its ritual performance, like a popular Broadway play in New York City, or, for a trip like this, like the Grand Canyon’s quietly impressive presentation further south.IMG_4711
  • MONTANA – This is truly big cowboy country. Lacy, translucent mist in the valley bottoms with sun that streaks the upper surfaces and hillsides in the early morning dawn. Smooth-sloped hillsides that are grassy on one side, and furry with evergreen trees on the other side like a man’s unshaven back. Montana is replete with big skies, big fields, seemingly ubiquitous casinos and big, huge bellies. It’s a surprise to me that I haven’t encountered it before, but Montana is the first U.S. state where I’ve eyed the modern-day stereotypical American we all hear of with a huge appetite and belly to match.

…………………….

The road trip journey just ended has added another 8 states to my list and left me with a lifetime count of 22 states sampled. Yes, I’m not yet halfway finished in my search to make a call on all 50 states. It’s a dirty job …

But I’m carrying out my wanderlust pilgrimage by free choice and personal desire.

I look on John Steinbeck’s depression-stricken characters like Tom Joad; or today’s Salinas Valley, filled with desperate immigrants working for meagre pay – all impressive in their resilience and strength, carrying out their own journeys to survive – a necessity for existence.

For all of that, I feel myself so lucky, so fortunate, to live in a place and time where I’m not scrabbling hopefully, desperately, across the landscape searching for a meal and a dollar to survive.
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Next time you’re in Utah, drop by my new enterprise!

 

A Moment of Sweetness at the Scotia Inn

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I pulled open the glass-fronted door and entered the Super 8 Motel in Fortuna, California, just south of the state line from Oregon.

The “Tasting” Tour was 3 days in. Lots of driving and little stops here and there for a taste of what the area has to offer … and then off down the road once again.

There’s a certain sense of relief when you reach the end of a 12-hour day of a road trip. The sun is close to settling down and the muscle memory of twists, turns and rises in the asphalt is still buzzing inside, like the sensation you feel when you dismount from a horse and the movement hasn’t quite stopped yet.

A young, red-faced man sat behind the high counter in the tiny, cramped lobby and when I began to speak, he immediately began nodding his head, preparing to speak before I could finish telling him that I had made a reservation earlier for the night.

“Yeah, I’m really sorry, I just called Booking.com to tell them that they reserved you a room that I don’t have. We’re full. There’s a bikers’ gathering in town and everything’s filled right up. You could try a few of the other places nearby, but I think you’ll find the same everywhere. I’m real sorry.”

………..

Early morning that day, descending the last bit of hill to the coast and the town of Cannon Lake, Oregon was a real transition, leaving the warm sun behind at the top of the hill, falling downwards on the bending road, finally finding cooler and heavy misty-damp air at the bottom.

It took a couple of hours, driving past numerous scenic pullouts – why pullout to look at the soupy greyness greedily enveloping all of the scenic beauty? – one after the other until the sun finally pushed and burned its way through the foggy mist and the Oregon coastline finally announced its arrival.

Sandstone cliffs overlooked bay after bay where jagged rocky outbursts pushed out of the ocean floor – the salty scent of the water wafting in the gentle onshore breezes – sun speckles twinkling on the azure blue ripples of the sea.

All of the oohs and ahhs of those I had spoken to about the Oregon coastline finally meant something real to me.

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An hour and a half later I groaned, dropping myself like a sack of potatoes into the overstuffed antique sofa in the expansive, high-ceilinged lobby of the Scotia Inn. It was a friendly haven to find after being rejected at the Super 8 in Fortuna.

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There were some streaky, orange signs of sunset through the expansive front windows, but for all purposes, night had now claimed its place – along with some grey damp fog-  in this tiny town called Scotia, about 20 miles south of Fortuna (or UnFortuna, as I like to think of it) just off Highway 101.

In the quiet, semi-darkness of the hotel lobby, I watched a 40-something man move toward the front desk. He was bent slightly at the waist as if he too had been driving in an uncomfortable position all day.

In his hand he held out a long-stemmed daisy, extended to the pretty 30’ish blond sitting behind the counter.

She smiled, a crinkle setting in the corner of her eyes and stood – “is that for me?”.

She was the girl-next-door type, pretty-faced even with no makeup and a gentle voice that told you you were at home here.

At a distance, I could see a faint blush in her cheeks. What I couldn’t discern was if her smile was a nervous, “oh my God, how do I handle this poor guy”, or perhaps, “isn’t it nice that someone is paying attention to me.”

In a nervously halting deep tenor voice, he said – “thanks for telling me about that restaurant, it was good.”

“Oh, you liked it? It’s really the only Italian food you can get in this little town, and I enjoy it there.”

The Scotia Inn is a throwback of a grand Old Dame. Built about 100 years ago, it’s fine white expanse of building was a pleasurable sight when we pulled up a half hour earlier.

Standing in front, looking up at its gables and 2nd storey windows feels like drawing back in time to an era when cars filled with men in suits and spats drove up with lovely girls in frilly dresses that their mothers would have never approved.

Cigarette smoke would drift lazily in the early evening air and the men would hurry around the car to open the door for their dates who just smiled, knowing they looked delicious, tempting but never willing to offer too much.

The blond girl at the counter took the flower, licked her lips and glanced downwards a bit shyly.

Scotia was a small quiet town and she probably saw little that would make her heart beat a bit faster.

A smatter of male attention was likely going to be the high point of her week. She would look over at the flower sitting in its vase from time to time and dream of worlds and exotic men waiting out there for her.

And as the man with dark, receding hair turned way from the counter and the winsome blond who stood with her satisfied smile, I could see that he also was slightly flushed and pink-faced.

His eyes too were a bit misted over, just like early morning Oregon fog, a dream and a smile settling into his head for the night.

80% of Life is Showing Up

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plato-quote

My favourite philosopher and great thinker/doer never lived in ancient Greece or Rome like Aristotle or Cicero. He never conquered a nation like Napoleon or Hitler. He never started a society-shaping company like Steve Jobs or Henry Ford.

Philosophers come in different shapes, genders, sizes and spring forth in every era with their shrewd and perceptive observations.

You might even consider Joan Rivers as a late, great philosopher of the recent epoch.

But for today’s post, who is this orgasmically-astute philosopher I’m referring to?

Woody Allen

Yup, the little neurotic pessimist.

Like so many others I reluctantly admire for their accomplishments (Lance Armstrong, Kevin Spacey, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump) I don’t necessarily like Woody Allen as an individual mortal.

He’s not a perfect person. I identify.

He has weaknesses and has made some poor choices. I identify.

To all appearances, he’s just an ordinary schmuck with nothing to physically separate him from the masses on a busy city sidewalk. I identify.

Some would say that being an asshole is a requirement for great accomplishments. I don’t know the answer to that one yet for sure although it seems to me there are some creative geniuses who shine as delightful human beings as well.

BUT …

Allen’s written 49 movie screenplays: directed 46 of those: acted in all but 17 of them: he’s produced some documentaries: guest hosted the Tonight Show in the 1960’s: written 3 books …  AND …  he crafts amazingly clever perspectives on the absurdities of the lives we lead.

Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good.

 

Basically my wife was immature. I’d be at home in the bath and she’d come in and sink my boats.

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Some of the wisest words that I’ve ever come across about making a mark in life were spoken in an interview Woody gave a few years back after finishing his movie, Vicki Christina Barcelona. This is a long passage, but each sentence has a powerful message, so I’m giving you a big chunk to absorb, OK?

 I think that the biggest life lesson I learned as a boy that has helped me and is still with me is that you really have to discipline yourself to do the work.  

If you want to accomplish something you can’t spend a lot of time hemming and hawing, putting it off, making excuses for yourself, and figuring ways.  You have to actually do it.  

I have to go home every single day, no matter where I am in the world, no matter what I’m doing, and putting 30 to 45 minutes of practice on my clarinet because I want to play.  I have to do it.

When I want to write, you get up in the morning, go in and close the door and write.  You can’t string paper clips, and get your pad ready, and turn your phone off, and get this, get coffee made. You have to do the stuff.

Everything in life turns out to be a distraction from the real thing you want to do.  There are a million distractions and when I was a kid I was very disciplined.  I knew that the other kids weren’t.  I was the one able to do the thing, not because I had more talent, maybe less, but because they simply weren’t applying themselves.  

As a kid I wanted to do magic tricks.  I could sit endlessly in front of mirror, practicing, practicing, because I knew if you wanted to do the tricks you’ve got to do the thing.  I did that with the clarinet, when I was teaching, I did that with writing.  

This is the most important thing in my life because I see people striking out all the time.  It’s not because they don’t have talent, or because they don’t want to be, but because they don’t put the work in to do it.  They don’t have the discipline to do it.  This was something I learned myself.  

I also had a very strict mother who was no nonsense about that stuff.  She said ‘If you don’t do it, then you aren’t going to be able to do the thing.’  

It’s as simple as that.  

I said this to my daughter, if you don’t practice the guitar, when you get older you wouldn’t be able to play it.  It’s that simple.  If you want to play the guitar, you put a half hour in everyday, but you have to do it.  

This has been the biggest guiding principle in my life when I was younger and it stuck.  

I made the statement years ago which is often quoted that 80 percent of life is showing up.  

People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen.  All the other people struck out without ever getting that pack.  They couldn’t do it, that’s why they don’t accomplish a thing, they don’t do the thing, so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening.  

So that is my biggest life lesson that has worked.  All others have failed me.

 

Thanks for that Woody, I couldn’t have said it any better.

I like to accomplish things, but I also lean heavily towards laziness … such a conundrum.

I’d like to stretch and attain a height of 6 ft tall but I’m too lax to go and get myself a hanging rack to lengthen my spine, so I’m stuck at 5’10 1/2″. Also, my goal of running a sub-40 minute 10K run, will just have to roll into the grave – sorry – cremation oven along with me.

Sad? Not really.

There are so many other wonderful things to focus on … and so many of them are attainable still. I’m going to leave some of those truly unattainable dreams behind and move forward with what I can do.

It’s not a failure to discard some goals and dreams, adjust course, and move on with others. It’s not a mutually exclusive thing for Dreamers to also be Realists.

One day I’ll grow sick and die.

The plaques in my arteries and little bastard cancer cells are setting up camp somewhere, adjusting their little tuxedoes, just waiting for the curtain to rise and make a special announcement.

Now is not the time to perch in my leather LazyBoy and watch the clock in anticipation. Like a boiling kettle, the Grim Reaper will come in his own time without my assistance, or invitation.

So, the race is on. The finish line banner is in place and it’s up to me to keep putting one foot in front of the other with daily practice and enthusiasm.

I’m gonna grab that sage old philosopher Woody Allen’s hand, SHOW UP AND PRACTICE.

And, no offense Woody, but as much as I admire your witticisms and accomplishments, I hope you make to the final finish line well ahead of me.

I need a lot more practice!