Home

This Song’s for You

Leave a comment

Version 3

Next month marks 7 years of this weekly diatribe, this wordy assault of inner thought in my character of MAN ON THE FRINGE.

In June of 2012 … I began a meandering reflection totalling 365 weekly posts (with the rarest of exceptions) to date.

My intent at the time was to personalize the differences, the commonalities, the challenges and beauties and frustrations between men and women. All from the viewpoint of a guy who doesn’t fit neatly into a box of manly genderociousness.

But as I’ve learned over these years, as you probably have too, gender labels are fluid and there is danger in categorizing and putting lives into tidy little boxes.

Yes, nothing in human relations is simple. When I think I’m smart, I’m actually stupid.

Over time I’m realizing that perhaps I should re-brand, re-label as PERSON ON THE FRINGE.

But that’s just a touch of lint-gazing into my not-so-pretty navel (who designed belly buttons for God’s sake?). Let’s move forward, shall we?

Given that I’m a guy who has a mixed relationship with routine, I’m patting myself on the back for staying with this diurnal habit – this diarrhea of words with no seeming end – and I plan to carry on for a wee bit longer… but … but …

… perhaps with a slight twist to my “norm”.

There is a price to be paid for attempting to absorb too much of the vigour and energy that surrounds us.

Diversification in investing is admirable, smart even, but too much diversification in real-life can become deworsification.

The dilution of what we really appreciate and want, dilution of what drives us becomes a painful irritation of casting about in a huge ocean.

I need to spend more time on the things I love.

For the past few years I’ve been focussing more on music, and one of my desires… my goals … is to write music … meaningful lyrics, melodies and harmonies.

It’s narcissistic and self-aggrandizing to some extent to believe we have something important and meaningful to add, but it’s a draw into humanity that refuses to be ignored… it just is.

Every spring I plant flowers that I know will return to composted soil in a few short months for another season, and still I return each year to the seeds of growth because the ephemeral beauty is too luscious, too sweet, to turn away from.

I’ve said more than once that I use you as a juicy, delicious Bugs Bunny carrot of motivation in writing this blog. You are my personal assistant sans pay!

My proposal is to use you (again) as my motivator … my muse … the fire at my feet to take my disciplined approach in writing this blog every week and carry it over into the passion of songwriting.

Guitar music.jpg

So going forward I’ll take a break from my every week yada yada yada posts to morph into regular lyric writing, an internal friendly exchange of prose for poetry.

No, not every post will become a tuneful poetic ode but I see it as a refresh and a push to spend more time on something I love … the personal expression that comes out of my head and my mouth in harmony.

You’re welcome to comment on my writings and also to share your lyrical thoughts back if you care to “expose” your inner expressive words for others to enjoy.

So… here’s a song I’ve had in process for a little while now, not complete yet but so be it … a nod to those who struggle with interior thoughts of suicide… I’ve used the late Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade as a means of personalizing the unbearable pain many suffer:

THIS IS WHO HE WAS (Anthony & Kate’s Song)

Camera catches amber light
that last bite was great he said
giggling of a child with bread
smiling host whose face was red  
eyes just a little wide and wild
This is who he was

Sad can’t be the sun in sky
When setting at the end of day
maybe clouds will always stay
when you fly a million miles
blindness hides the fragile eyes
This is who he was

CHORUS
His Days were numbered
our days are numbered too
sometimes we choose to count them down
sometimes they’re counted down for you
smiles within a smokescreen
sun comes shining through the clouds
yet there’s nothing left but rain

Born a Christmas Valentine
In a castle with your schoolboy prince
Cast your eyes on Central Park
Colours helped you make your mark
For every girl who wanted to be you
This is who she was

Whispers in your playful smile
Like snowflakes ‘cross your spirit while
The ones you’d helped to come of age
Blinded by your hidden pain
Or the one you left behind who carries on
This is who she was

BRIDGE 
Our loss has no end
Listen to the mystic hymns that guide us back to life

CHORUS-
Her days were numbered
Our days are numbered too
sometimes we choose to count them down
at times they’re counted down for you
the smiles are just a smokescreen
of normalcy through pain
the sun comes shining thru the clouds 
yet there’s nothing left but rain

… nothing left but rain… nothing left but rain…

anthony-bourdain-kate-spade.jpg

 

A Square Peg… Or How I Started As A Wine Virgin

Leave a comment

funny wine

Mmmmmm… nice overtones of peach and grapefruity citrus with a strong acidic finish and a light touch of oakiness.

Yes… a pretentious yet sensitive wine with a sunny hint of snot, clown tears, and liquid viagra. Great with roadkill or Cap’n Crunch.

The wine world is viewed by a lot of people as a mixed word salad of pompous ostentation.

Pinot Meunier, Reisling, Cabernet Merlot, Chardonnay. Still or frizzante. White, red or rose.

For someone who doesn’t drink much booze, the demon drink has been a prominent part of my life for the past 5 years since I hung up my laboratory petri dishes… a new set of chemicals (ethyl alcohol) and microorganisms (yeasts) has displaced the E. coli’s and Salmonellas that I sniffed and puzzled over for more than 3 decades.

Each of the past 4 summers I’ve mixed and poured my heart out, bartending a couple of nights a week at a local Greek restaurant. Martinis, Margaritas and Sangrias were my stock in trade.

I thrived on the enthusiasm and fast pace – the steady flow of staff and patrons that cascaded life right back at me. Bartending has a certain scent of glamour and mystery I love.

However, for a guy who routinely wakes up each morning ready to fly (or spin or HIIT) at 4:30 or 5:00 am, concocting colourful umbrella-festooned drinks at 9:00 or 10:00 PM, well… it’s not the very best collaboration conceived.

Be Best.

Thanks Melania… my best is early in the day which makes my new summer job a “best” fit.

Living in Canada’s Okanagan Valley today means an exposure to grapes on just about every hillside… we’ve become a pint-sized version of Napa or Sonoma,  Mosel or Reine, Loire or Bordeaux, Tuscany or Collabria, Coonawarra or Kangaroo Island.

So this summer, I’ve decided to hang up my evening bartender’s apron and try on a daytime sommelier’s cape.

Signing on for a couple of mornings each week at a winery 5 minutes walk down my road is just the fresh breath I need.

8th Gen wines 2

My morning role is minimal – I set up and send boxes of wine to restaurants and wine club members who receive regular shipments of the fermented juice.

And when (if) my time allows I’ll set up shop at the counter of the tasting room and pour out mini-sips of liquid and words of wine wisdom to the visitors passing through.

But back to the jargon of wine country.

The other night, for a few hours, I and the entire crew of wine hosts (perhaps 12 of us) sat and quaffed our friendly owner/vintner’s full line of libations. Being paid to drink and eat is hard work!

Like car salespeople, we were test-driving the vinos on offer to the local and tourist throngs that flock to this region in the summertime.

Of course I’m new to this world. A square peg in a round hole. A virgin in disguise as a well-oiled call boy.

The other hosts/sippers have mostly completed college and university courses that detail the importance of terroir (terror?), the crush (schoolyard romance?), the malolactic fermentation (marshmallow what?).

The table was covered tip to tail with long-stemmed and tumbler-style glassware of different sizes and conformations. In front of me I counted 5 unique sipping vessels.

I immediately displayed my impeccable knowledge-base of the fermented grape by sloshing a generous spurt of water into the Cabernet Merlot tumbler. Oops! Nothing to see over here folks…

The wine was skilfully poured by our smiling hosts (the wife and husband owners) and with each sip we were served an encyclopedic description of where it was grown in the valley, the soil type, the micro-climate, the time of picking, crush method, fermentation approach …. and on and on … did I mention… on?

Yes, it was overwhelming for this neophyte. Fascinating, but overwhelming.

8th gen vineyard.jpg

The descriptor word salads were sashayed forth in great abundance and splendour… yada yada yada

I smiled, and in contrast to my younger years when I would have blushed and tried desperately to fit in, I didn’t make any attempt at looking remotely intelligent (like the others).

I didn’t even verbalize any (not one) erudite comments that displayed my astounding breadth of knowledge as a oenologist. This is good and oh, this one’s yummy maybe wouldn’t have added to the mastery and understanding of the gathering.

I came, I sipped, I listened. And I enjoyed. You translate that into Latin!

I fit in like the paparazzi observing a special event, recording and enjoying but also realizing that I’m not (yet anyway) a true part of the world of this vintage group.

The good news is that no one made me feel lesser for my “virginity”. The warmth of the evening and the people I shared it with was a tasty introduction to my new “chemical” society.

Afterwards I shuffled (straight, mostly) home and whispered quietly into the cool night air and stars above … Cheers… Salud… Prost… Gun Bae… Santé…

cheers

 

Don’t Do This …

2 Comments

hummingbird and lilac

Can you smell the delicious sugary-sweet scent of roses and lilacs in the light spring breeze? Stop … slowly … breathe in deeply …

The hummingbirds and bees turn the dial in their noses up to high before diving in to get their mind-blowing fix of nectar. It’s their cocaine snort. Maybe that’s why they buzz …

Speaking of buzz …

Hey Larry, how was your weekend?”, someone probed me on Tuesday this week.

Well… sniff… er… umm… oh yeah, I ran a half marathon with 18,000 others in Vancouver on Sunday … but I can barely bring it to the surface.

I hate it when someone asks me what I did last weekend. Or what I’m doing next weekend. Shit … I don’t know.

It’s not because I hated what I did … it’s because …

… I can’t remember what I did yesterday, or the day before yesterday, or the past weekend. What I’m doing tomorrow is pretty foggy.

What did I have for breakfast? Who did I help out? To be or not to be…

Days, weeks, months and years flash by… it was 2010 yesterday.

Give me my calendar and my notes so I can re-live the past and remember the future.

forget me not.jpg

No, I don’t have Alzheimer’s or dementia (yet, I hope)… it’s just that my process is do … done … move forward to the next do and the last do that’s done is filed at the back of my internal hard drive. Got it?

How many weekends do I have remaining to forget? chggg cgghhh rumbl grggl (internal calculator adding up)… let’s say I live to 75 … I have about 700 weekends to enjoy and remember before last call.

……………..

In many of my posts over the years, I’ve listed a few things we can do that I believe work well for the construction of a life well-lived.

Today I’m taking the reverse course and telling you NOT to do what I typically do. Yes, I’m embracing negativity as a life lesson to you.

RUSH RUSH RUSH… This is not a process I recommend to you.

These days we hear a whole lot about meditation and mindfulness… I have friends out there like Jimmy and David and Denise and Marsha who take the time and patience to focus intensely on the moment at hand. Smart folks.

I admire those who stop and smell the roses and lilacs. And remember.

Alabama had a great pulsating song:

Can’t be late
I leave plenty of time
Shaking hands with the clock
I can’t stop
I’m on a roll and I’m ready to rock

Oh I’m in a hurry to get things done
Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why

I’m in a hurry, yes, and I do know why.

I was at an Open Mic a couple of nights back. It’s an experience. It’s a memory. I wanna drink in as much as possible and the friggin’ clock never stops tick-tick-ticking.

Each experience we inhale – we participate – slows it all down. Injects a moment with life.

Treadmill existence is both good and bad. I know this. I know I rush too much.

I’m gonna try (yes Yoda… try!) slowing down a tiny bit.

But at this point I also know that when I slowwwwww down too much (for me)… I feel the urge, the burn, the ache.

So perhaps do as I say and not as I do …

I want to live forever and continue to – in my own hapless way – forget, yes, forget… all the great things, the activities, the people, the conversations, the corny puns and silly innuendo, the luscious foods, the harmonies, the books, the Cuban cigars and Gewurztraminer sips, the blog posts…

… and especially, the sweet flowery perfumes and birdlovesongs that sail gently through my window on brilliant spring mornings.

rose at window.jpg

 
 

Trivial Pursuits… Ken vs James … A David and Goliath Moment?

Leave a comment

Jennings and Holzhauer

… In the red corner, checking in at 162.5 pounds, soaking wet … undisputed champion and winner in 74 rounds of nerdish intellectual battle …

Kennnnnn Jennings (and the crowd roars…)

 

… and in the blue corner, weighing 165 pounds… the up and coming contender, the king killer from Las Vegas, Nevada…

Jamesssss Holzhauer (another sizable roar…)

JEOPARDY

The regal sport of trivia nerds and Alex Trebek groupies.

If you’re of a certain age… you might remember when Muhammad Ali was at his peak of boxing perfection and popularity. Everyone oohed and ahhhed when he’d “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” in the ring. He was brash, loud and seemingly invincible.

In 1969, some promoter dude concocted a “reality show” where he spliced together a fictional dream boxing match, titled The Super Fight, between 2 undefeated pugilists from different eras – Ali (31-0) and Rocky Marciano (49-0).

At the time, Ali and Marciano were the only undefeated heavyweight champions in history and fans often debated who would win had they met in their primes. Ali and Marciano were filmed sparring for 75 one-minute rounds producing several possible scenarios for a genuine fight, with the result claimed to have been determined using probability formulas entered into a computer.

Who won? Drum roll….. sorry … no spoiler alerts here…. head to the GOOGLE for your answer.

ali-marciano.jpg

And today, we could see another Super Fight, a match of kings-at-their-trade with Trebek in his role as the referee.

It’s been 15 years since Ken Jennings packed his big punches while James Holzhauer (at this writing), remains on a roll like a hot bettor at the craps table in Vegas.

Jennings and Holzhauer are freaks of trivia nature. The hard drives inside their heads are multiple times larger than 99% of us. Their ability to retain gigs of data, access it quickly, and then skilfully out-click all of their opponents consistently is … well … mind boggling.

So, for those of us who enjoy the sport of watching excellence vs excellence in any arena, a pitched match between these 2 trivia superheroes might be just the thing to take our minds away from the 10,000 lies and Congressional hearings and Venezuelan coups.

OK, it may not attract the feverish crowds that slurp at the trough of Game of Thrones or Avengers: End Game and their huge markets of physical battle-related contests and the endless speculation of who will be having sex in next week’s episode.

I’ve yet to see anyone naked on Jeopardy, much less have a sexual encounter, but intellect can be sexy, don’t you think? Ohhhh hunny, it makes me so hot when you know the capital of Lithuania…

I admit that I’m a Jeopardy fan… a trivia nerd if you will.

I shout out my answers (sorry, questions) at the TV with no buzzer button to handicap my responses. I play my Walter Mitty part and accept Alex Trebek’s congratulatory handshake at the end of the episode.

I’ve dreamed of becoming a contestant – to match wits and tidbits of esoteric info that float through my head.

Yes, I even took the online qualifying test, but alas, have never heard back.

I harbour no illusions that I would ever make a close battle with James Holzhauer… the friendly, little daughter-loving, quiet but clever-spoken whiz kid.

I’m just hoping for a Super Fight between old master Ken and young grasshopper James.

And the winner is … Who is Sean Connery? No, I mean Turd Ferguson….

Nope, these days it’s always James Holzhauer.

Funny Jeopardy.jpg