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Looking Towards A New Me… When I’m 64!

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Jim Ferguson is an old and very good friend of mine (and the MAN ON THE FRINGE).

For a second time this year, I’ve asked Jim if he would consider contributing a guest post and he has generously taken me up on this.

I always enjoy Jim’s insights as he possesses an extraordinary vision into the combination of science, religion, and human compassion. These can be challenging subjects to mix and marry, but Jim has a talent for bridging the gaps.

Today, Jim is striking into a lighter and perhaps… more fun arena – his upcoming “retirement”. I’ll let him tell you his story:

The Man Behind the Curtain aka Man On The Fringe – Sir Lawrence Green – has once again asked me to contribute a guest blog focusing on the theme of my impending retirement from a medical career spanning the better part of 44-years.

It all started in Canada’s Arctic region, Yellowknife, NWT, in 1977 when I trained as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) and then worked with Larry at Stanton Yellowknife Hospital until spring, 1979.

I then married an American girl and was off to medical school in the States a decade later, graduating as a Physician Associate and getting a Master’s degree in Public Health and completing a fellowship in Integrative Medicine along the way. The rest, as they say, is history.

As I approach my retirement, it really is all about history-where it all started and the journey to where this phase of my life will conclude.

It seems that this journey has passed in the twinkling of an eye to the point where I feel a bit numb and dizzy as I view the course of the past 44-years…sort of like a retirement version of benign positional vertigo.

As I have been reflecting on this major life-change I have found myself defining my retirement by some of the major retirement songs of our era. I’ve been thinking of some of these songs and whether any of these might be apropos as I board the retirement ship to “sail off into my golden years”. 

Here are a few examples and some musings. Maybe those of you reading this who are retired will find some common threads.

Glue your dentures in and make sure the Depends are nice and snug…here we go:

– Johnny Paycheck is known for the song Take This Job And Shove It. The opening refrain is recognizable to many- “Take this job and shove it, I aint workin’ here no more”.

While I love the feistiness of the song, I would have to say that this song doesn’t reflect my attitude towards my work or my employer as I wrap up my career as a family medicine provider.

I entered medicine seeing it as a vocation or even a calling. I love being of service to others and what better career path to follow than medicine where you work with people at their most vulnerable i.e., when they are ill.

I have loved my work for that reason and have had great employers over the years whether in Yellowknife in the early days, in remote Alaskan villages during the middle of my career, as a public health officer, and finally for Providence Medical Group here in Oregon.

While I am retiring from my job with the medical group, I am not retiring from medicine completely. I will seek ways to recreate myself in service to others using my medical knowledge and talents and I look forward to those opportunities.

– The Beatles had a hit with Sir Paul McCartney’s light and fluffy When I’m 64.

While I tend to favour Lennon’s more gritty rock and roll sound, this particular “bubble gum” attempt at a rock tune strikes a retirement chord.

As it turns out I will turn 64 in December a month or so after I pack it in at my current place of employ. This song has some definite influence on my retirement.

I’ve long lost much of my hair, I’ve been handy (thanks to Red Green who has told millions of men: “If women don’t find you handsome, at least let them find you handy“), I’ve spent more hours than I can count in the garden on my 5.4-acre farm in Oregon.

Bottom Line regarding this song: been there…done most of that!! I guess I could throw this CD in the player as I walk out the door at work for the final time and it would seem appropriate.

– If anyone is expecting me to live up to the message in Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild, well you have another thing coming.

My version of wild these days is to down a bottle of Geritol, chase it with a Fleets Enema, and hit the hay by 8 PM.

OK… maybe I’m not that far gone BUT the wild days are behind me. Larry can attest to the fact that our Yellowknife days were about as wild as they come- who else here can chug a Molson Canadian standing on their head in under a minute…😊

Those days are long gone and while retirement will be nothing like the days of yore, they will be filled with opportunities to be of service to my community and I do welcome the change from having a set schedule day in/day out and being more flexible in determining what I invest my time in.

I do have hobbies that I will pursue. I still enjoy watching my beloved Habs (Montreal Canadiens hockey team) when I can. I also enjoy my mandolin and playing music. I love being outdoors and hiking and running. There will be lots to keep me busy as I move forward.

– As I have alluded in this blog post, I see a beginning in the end.

As one career ends another exciting phase of life begins. What better song to portray this than We’ve Only Just Begun by The Carpenters featuring the silky-smooth voice of Karen Carpenter.

Don’t tell Larry that I told you this BUT he and I would occasionally sprawl out on the two chesterfields in his apartment in Yellowknife and semi-doze off listening to Karen and Richard performing their magic.

That song is a great segue towards retirement. As one door closes another opens, as one window closes, another window opens, etc. You get the point…Insert your own cliché here:___________________.

Karen sings “so many roads to choose, we’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run…sharing horizons that are new to us…” A great inspiration as I head into the unknown.

I am also aware that maybe I’ve peeved off a few folks in my work life along the way, so I am a firm believer in the adage that if you are being run out of town, get in front of the crowd, and make it look like a parade…😊 That’s my plan on my last day. It’s a win-win for me.

– I will leave you with one last song that I have always loved…. Five for Fighting’s 100 Years.

It is a touching tune of the passage of the years from the age of 15 to 99. Go listen to it…you’ll recognize the song when you hear it.

I can especially appreciate the verse where he sings: “Half time goes by… Suddenly you’re wise…Another blink of an eye…Sixty-seven is gone…The sun is getting high…We’re moving on.” Man ‘o man…how true it is.

Where have the years gone? I feel as though I am there now. Two-thirds of my life has flashed by and yet I am thrilled at the thought of what is to come and look forward to the great adventures that await.

Well…if you are near retirement or have already moved beyond that point in life, what songs best describe your retirement journey? Let’s see them in the comment section below.

Peace,

Jim Ferguson

Are You Bloody Serious?

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To: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson.

Billionaires to the Stars Head Office.

Rocketship Central.

………………………….

Dear Sirs:

Please refund my $10 million dollar deposit forthwith as I am officially withdrawing my application for the All-Inclusive Rocketshot Excursion to Mars.

Upon return of said deposit, I’ll immediately FedEx back the supercool spacesuit you sent. I’ve had it dry-cleaned, and also sewed a small tear in the armpit (hardly noticeable).

Why you ask… after months of intense training and sacrifice and expense… why now?

It’s simple and I’ll tell you why.

I’m willing to play my guitar and sing songs about Major Tom while 140 million miles away from earth.

I’m happy to float like a butterfly from chamber to chamber of your Roman-Candle-to-Mars.

I’m even… yes, I’m even willing to eat potatoes grown in my own poop…

but here’s where I’ve reached the end of my tether…. get it, tether, like spacewalk tether? Forget it.

You want me to – have I got this right? make bricks from my blood? Bloody hell… surely this is FAKE NEWS, or maybe just some “truthiness”, yes?

Sadly, I gather not. I guess reality really is stranger than fiction.

These bricks even have a name?

AstroCrete!

3D-printed brick made from human blood.

Really? REALLY?

I’m truly a giving kind of guy. Altruism could be my middle name.

I’ll happily give a pint of my lifeblood to keep an unfortunate victim alive after a car accident, or a major OR bleed, or even a haemophiliac crisis, but…

I don’t care that scientists at The University of Manchester have developed a concrete-like material made from mixing extra-terrestrial dust along with the blood, sweat and tears of astronauts.

I don’t care that their study, published this week in Materials Today Bio, suggests that albumin, a protein from human blood, combined with urea, a compound from urine, sweat or tears, could glue together Mars soil to produce a material stronger than ordinary concrete, perfectly suited for construction work in extra-terrestrial environments.

I don’t care that it saves you bucks because it costs an exorbitant $1 million to transport a single conventional brick from our planet to Mars.

I really don’t care that over 500 kg of high-strength AstroCrete could be produced over the course of a two-year mission on the surface of Mars by a crew of six astronauts.

And yup, I don’t care one tiny erythrocyte that each crew member could conceivably produce enough AstroCrete to expand the habitat to support an additional crew member, doubling the housing available with each successive mission.

This was NOT included in the fine print of the contract I signed for this Vacuous Vacation of the Millennium.

I think technological innovation is getting too carried away, because all of these things that looked like science-fiction in my boyhood (did the Jetson’s ever make a blood brick?) are becoming science NON-fiction!

And also, a small point pulled from my personal rudimentary-science background. Please set me right if I’m wrong Elon. I’m not the brightest astrophysicist in the cosmos.

Matter can’t be created or destroyed, isn’t that correct?

My blood liquid volume consists mainly of good ole H2O, right?

Sooooooo…. if we don’t find a source of water on Mars, each brick produced – à la ME – to make this wonderful new condo unit is gonna suck me dry like the prune I’m already becoming in my latter years. Oil of Olay won’t solve THAT problem, Jeffy!

OK, rant over. I’ve had my say gentlemen.

I’m out. I wish you the very best of success in your Sanguineous Scheme… your Bloody Blocks… your Corpuscular Cravings.

For the time being, for all its troubles and faults, I’m just gonna stick it out here on Earth and keep my blood locked inside this vessel I call my body.

May All Your Fluids Be Vital… Larry

What’s In YOUR Name… LARRY Untethered…

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HURRICANE Larry… Seriously?

Yup, the big nasty blow striking the Canadian province of Newfoundland this very weekend is called LARRY.

I’ve never LOVED my name… I’ve even almost hated my name at times…

… but today, it’s like Larry has become a sad cartoon’ish character chosen as the nom de plume for anyone too embarrassed to use their real name, or a buffoon *OMG, maybe I AM well-named!*

While life gives us plenty of choices, realistically, the name we run around with and answer to every day is ONE huge decision where we have no real choice, regardless if you’re a democracy-devotee or a commie-lover.

To be named is the very first life decision after we pop out. It’s made on our behalf and we aren’t included in the discussion (hmmm… seems circumcision came in here too!)

Sometimes I wonder how many children born into this world were NOT called Larry because one (or both) of their parents said, “we can’t call him that, I knew this Larry (“me”) once, and he was a jerk-off, absolutely no child of mine will be called Larry!“.

Have you ever thought that maybe… maybe… you were given your name because it was the only one that your parents could finally agree upon that didn’t have a rotten smell associated with it? YOU may have been a big post-coital compromise…

Frankly (Frank, there’s a good name!), some names are just better than others…

Some good ole WASP male names that command respect? Grant, Atticus, Gregory, Arthur, James, Charles, William, and even, finally… Lawrence.

Lawrence is my REAL given name. Larry is usually a shortened version of Lawrence or something spelled similarly like Laurence. Hail Lawrence.

Lawrence has heft and dignity and commands respect… think Lawrence of Arabia (T.E. Lawrence), Lawrence Welk, Laurence Fishburne, Laurence Olivier, Lawrence Gowan, would you believe Yogi Berra’s real first name was Lawrence?

Larry and Lawrence are names of the past.

You would be hard-pressed to find a child born in the last 30 years, named Larry at birth. Can you think of even one?

And yet… right now, on any typical week in the past few years while watching TV, a movie, listening to an advertisement on radio… you could easily believe that Larry is the most common male name in the English-speaking world.

But, sadly, Larry is rarely, if ever, associated with a character with “character” or dignity like the ones I mention above. Nope. Like Rodney Dangerfield, I Don’t Get No Respect.

C’mon Larry, that’s an exaggeration, why so sensitive?

Fine… here are just a few samples:

Larry the Cable Guy

Larry the Cucumber (Veggie Tales)

“I’m Larry and this is my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl” (Newhart TV show)

The Zebra TV commerical (insurance) – Larry, Serial cat-rescuer.

Robbert the Burglar in SimpliSafe home security ad… admonishing another burglar, Larry the Loser “you’re losing your touch Larry

Crash Test Dummies (Vince and LARRY) commercial…

The Three Stooges (Larry, Curly & Moe)

A few other Larry’s?

Larry Flynt (Hustler Magazine), Larry Nassar (Women’s gymnastic team sex offender), Larry Linville (Major Frank Burns on TV’s MASH), Larry Quinn (Cat In The Hat character), Larry & Steve (animated characters).

After all of this, it’s just piling on to add a hurricane to my Larry list of indignities…

But, to find a silver lining in this sad story, I suppose I should take contented solace knowing that we didn’t end up with a Larry Hitler, Larry bin Laden, or Larry Trump (close, we do have a Lara Trump).

The next time you hear my name used in vain on TV or in a movie, know that I’ll be here… to just take a deep breath, smile, and accept… again… another 15 minutes of infamy!

Do Astronauts Eat Cold Oats?

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Have you ever had a wet dream over cold oatmeal?

I know I’m a bit old for this, but I think I’ve come close.

Yes, Cold Overnight Oats are THAT good (here’s a simple recipe).

Remember last week when I said I was having difficulty in unearthing subject matter to write these posts? I will totally forgive you for thinking that this post might perfectly exemplify that statement.

OK, moving forward…

… Food, glorious food…

In the 1960’s, I grew up on simple, new-age chemical foods. The wonders of modern laboratories. Tinned peas. Astronaut drinks. Spam. TV dinners. All eaten to the soundtrack of Honey (Bobby Goldsboro) and I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Marvin Gaye).

Even babies were fed “nutritionally superior” food from a can or bottle. Women no longer needed breasts, while some of the chemicals we consumed helped men grow breasts, go figure.

When I look back on my childhood and compare it with today… well… the food choices, l’idée du moment, the sheer variety of ingredients, and exposure to ethnic foods has exploded in 50 plus years.

In the early to mid-1960’s I had yet to lay eyes or teeth on a green pepper… a dragonfruit, a passion fruit, a kiwi, a mango, a yam, sushi, turmeric, yogurt, cumin, soybean anything, wild rice, couscous, rotis, lentils, the list continues on to the horizon.

Here I am, half a century later… 50 years in the life of edibles and… food has changed BUT so have I. (A small aside: in 1960, the average Canadian consumed about 2800 calories daily, today it sidles in at close to 3400 calories per person (International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).)

For most of us today, the health consequences of what we eat is far more front-of-mind than it was 50 years ago; the impact that we have on animal life and the health of soils and eco-systems that grow our sustenance is increasingly more important to us.

Ultimately, what we eat, what we enjoy… are flavours, colours and textures that tempt our senses. While some eat to live, most days I live to eat. Sorry Socrates…

Enjoying, savouring food is one of our greatest human characteristics. The popularity of food shows on our TV’s is a pretty fair testament to our love of delicious foods and the company of those we love to be around while eating.

Time for a gustatory journey…

Let’s go on a small time-travelling tour of the evolution of my food half-century and peek in at some of the changes both to the world I live in now and how I too have changed.

CAUTION: Some of the things I once consumed are a bit scary… PSYCHO of the Cuisine Scene!

13 of My Favourite Foods of 1971 and 2021

.

1971

  • 1. Peanut Butter and Jam sandwich on white Wonder Bread
  • 2. Chicken à la King
  • 3. Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls with Egg Rolls
  • 4. Roast Beef with Oven-roasted potatoes
  • 5. French Onion Soup
  • 6. AlphaBits cereal
  • 7. Lipton Onion chip dip
  • 8. Tang orange drink
  • 9. Spaghetti-O’s
  • 10. Jello 1-2-3
  • 11. Cheese Fondue
  • 12. Tuna Noodle Casserole
  • and my all-time favourite 13. Tomato Aspic (YUK!)

2021

  • 1. Peanut Butter and Banana on Crusty Whole Grain
  • 2. Chicken Rogan Josh
  • 3. Steamed Dumplings and Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
  • 4. Moroccan Tagine
  • 5. Squash Veloute
  • 6. Cold Overnight Banana Blueberry Oats or Bran Flakes
  • 7. Tangy Mango Salsa with Tortilla Chips
  • 8. Freshly Prepared Fruit Salad
  • 9. Pasta E Fagioli
  • 10. Fruit Pizza
  • 11. Chicken Enchiladas
  • 12. Seafood Paella
  • 13. Greek Salad

Back to the future: It’s almost as if I’ve returned from space after 50 years like a modern-day Marco Polo with a cargo bay full of new, pungent spices, and fresh produce, and a lot less chemical additives.

Going forward, I think I could be happy blasting off to Mars with Elon, exploring the cosmos but only so long as I can take along my cold overnight oats (and lattes!) and leave the Spaghetti-O’s and Tomato Aspic behind!

why? oh Why? Oh WHY?

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Why?

Did I just hear you whisper… Because?

LIke many youngsters you may know in your world, this word… WHY… is my 3 year-old grandson’s favourite.

But WHY should we leave it to 3 year-olds to ask why…

Curiosity is a fabulous trait to carry us from the womb to the graveyard. I wish I was more deeply curious than I am…

Curiosity leads us on exciting journeys – opening doors that spring the world wide-open, like a can opener circling a can.

Learning and understanding make our world infinitesimally more enriching.

Today, I’ll take you on a random stroll through my WHY thoughts during a pandemic – and political era – that has taken my mind into a number of strange and scary places …

Feel free to share your own mind-bending WHY thoughts if you dare… let’s begin…

  • Why do I always love the fragrant smell of pine or cedar woodsmoke when I’m camping, or lighting the woodstove on a chilly winter morn, but not so much when a wildfire is burning the same stuff in my valley and sending it wafting through my window at night?
  • Why is correctly spelling words so natural and easy for me, but fixing a broken drainpipe in the kitchen is a monstrous logistical challenge far above my intellect? Why should I need a college diploma to do some typical home repairs?
  • Why does the TV game show Jeopardy march out contestants who obviously know far less than me, while not accepting my test results and highlighting me on the show? It’s clearly blatant anti-Canadianism! Maybe it’s time to rehash the War of 1812!

  • Why must I ALWAYS hold the phone to my left ear to hear properly and yet my hearing has been tested and works equally well on both sides? Have I unknowingly had a stroke?
  • Why do I love the heady feeling of being soaked in sweat while working out vigorously, but hate the sensation of sweat on my skin 2 minutes after finishing the workout? 
  • Why does my wife always know the plot direction (and killer/victim/bad guy/good guy) of a TV show or a movie in the first two minutes of the show and I’m still scratching my head in confusion at the end an hour later? Is it possible I’m NOT the sharpest knife in the drawer?
  • Why do stock markets always rise meteorically or fall dramatically in direct reverse proportion to my confident prognostications and to the number of people with whom I boldly share these predictions?
  • Why did Mother Nature give me a “near-perfect pitch” ear and a B string on my Martin guitar that absolutely refuses to EVER be tuned properly? This is the equivalent of musical “waterboarding”.
  • Why must I wear a pair of pants, a pair of underwear, but women don’t have to wear a pair of bras? Gender inequality issues should go both ways, right?
  • Why do I love the flavour of chocolate in bar form and in cakes, but not so much in ice cream? Does chocolate change its chemical form when chilled?

    Recipe for Chocolate Ice Cream with cocoa powder

     
  • Why do (some) people with dogs conscientiously gather up the pet’s faecal droppings in a plastic bag and then… set the bag at the side of the road!? Am I to believe this is someone generously offering free compost for the taking?
  • Why has evolution made our bodies crave and create Vitamin D through sun exposure while simultaneously setting up the cancer store for melanoma? Does this have something to do with my song The Blessing And The Curse?
  • Why am I finding ideas and thoughts to write blog posts about much more challenging during a time of enormous change and upheaval in the world eg. politics and health and science and technology? Could it be that ideas are often generated and stoked by the interactions we have with other people and the outside world?

“… Face it. Curiosity
will not cause us to die–
only lack of it will.
Never to want to see
the other side of the hill
or that improbable country
where living is an idyll
(although a probable hell)
would kill us all.
Only the curious
have, if they live, a tale
worth telling at all.” Alistair Reid

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…

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…

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.

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