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Dear Ron Howard: I Need You! WE Need You!!

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The Fonz (Henry Winkler) and Richie (Ron Howard)

Dear Mr. Howard…. may I call you Ron (not Opie or Richie, I get it)?

I’ve admired you since childhood …

Your ability to circumnavigate the pressures and stresses of Hollywood life as a child actor in the Andy Griffith Show and later as an adult actor (American Graffiti), director, and screenwriter is a testament to your level-headedness and composure.

You’ve always shown us a friendly face and a gosh-darn charm that is nearly impossible to find in the world in which you live.

I find it particularly commendable that you’ve mastered the challenges of directing… what an achievement to wrangle hundreds of people (and egos) into making a coherent and tight production.

In the world of superb movie directors I believe you’ve been overlooked as one of the greats.

A mere few of your directorial achievements are: A Beautiful Mind, Apollo13, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Willow, Cocoon, Cinderella Man, Splash, Parenthood, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code.

Finding the right director is critical to the success of a flick… I’ve personally had the experience of working with a music recording producer who tried to re-shape me – an unabashed folkie-style singer/songwriter – into a “rocker”… ok, it was fun, but not a good fit.

I don’t know beans about filmmaking but I’m pretty sure that finding the right directorial “fit” is a big part of a film production.

I’m coming at you today because I have a brilliant idea for a film or TV show…

… and given your experiences in directing and writing a variety of movie styles – notable ones that I think relate directly to my idea are Willow and How The Grinch Stole Christmas – I believe you are the best choice to bring my concept to life.

Here, let me run this past you for your thoughts.

It’s a riff on the early 1990’s Jim Henson-inspired TV show DINOSAURS.

Dinosaurs was a raucous and extremely clever satire on late 20th century human existence acted out by a charming family of, yes, animatronic dinosaurs.

Father Earl Sinclair and mother Fran’s son and youngest child is a Megalosaurus.

Baby Sinclair is the clear star of the series.

Baby is sarcastic. Baby is wisecracking. His favourite thing to do is hit Earl on the head with a frying pan while calling out his catch phrases such as “I’m the baby. Gotta love me.”, “Again!” and “Not the mama!“.

Although Dinosaurs is targeted at a family audience, the show touched upon multiple topical issues which included environmental, endangered species, women’s rights, sexual harassment, LGBTQ rights, objectification of women, censorship, civil rights, body image, steroid use, drug abuse, peer pressure, indigenous peoples, corporate crime, and racism.

The true beauty of the show was that any topic could be addressed and lampooned when the characters are merely ridiculous dinosaurs. We don’t take our own foibles personally when the characters don’t resemble us… it’s THEM not YOU!

OK, so here it is Ron. The meat. The place where YOU enter.

My idea is to bring back and update a very similar TV/movie scenario but in the form of political comedy with the dinosaurs loosely (but very clearly) resembling in tone the characters of the Trump White House… a true political satire.

I laugh just thinking about it. Donald and Melania, Ivanka and Eric, Don Jr. and Kaylee, Pompeo and Kellyanne, Barr and the rest of the comedy troupe … ALL dinosaurs wandering the White House hallways!

Just imagine if you will, an orange-tinted dinosaur (shall we call him TRUMPOSAURUS?) who :

  • treats his sick minion-dinosaurs to bleach cocktails…
  • holds Dino-Bibles upside-down…
  • thinks origins is pronounced “oranges”…
  • says: ““I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down”
  • or: “I’m a shallow person. That’s one of my strengths. I never pretend to be anything else.”
  • or: “Never had a drink. That’s one of my good things. Never had a drink, and I never had a cigarette. Other than that, I’m a disaster.”
  • or: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
  • or: “[he’s] … not a war hero. He’s a war hero – he’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”
  • or: “She does have a very nice figure… If [she] weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”
  • or: “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.
  • Or finally… “That’s why I am running: to end the decades of bitter failure and to offer the American people a new future of honesty, justice, and opportunity. A future where America, and its people, always – and I mean always – come first.”

Great comedy material, right?

Please… I need you Ron Howard… we all need you… WHY?

The world needs to hear and see a pack of crazy, silly dinosaurs saying these lunatic, incomprehensible things so we don’t plunge back into the same primordial mess once again.

Isn’t the world suffering enough?

I implore you … It’s either you Ron, or a reset with another big asteroid strike.

Prehistorically yours… Larry

Putting The Focus On Your Labels

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Do as I say not as I do…

I’ll be chatting you up about labels and focus today but before that – and demonstrating my terrible lack of focus – I can’t not share the splendour of spring beauty that sits outside my window in this small valley oasis in Western Canada… the Okanagan Valley.

As I stroll my little rural street, it’s mid-bloom, a lyrical miracle of stunning colour and scent of fruit trees… nectarines and plums, apricots and apples, peaches and pears. Pink and white promise-filled flowers blended into the fresh, new leafy green shoots.

Stepping outside in the morning is the springtime equivalent of stepping into your grandmother’s house at Thanksgiving or Christmas and inhaling the aromas wafting from her oven – the turkey, cinnamon and sage spices, vanilla and baking apples.

Mixed in with the sweetness of the drifting floral scents is the humming of activity surrounding the square white boxes left on the fringes of the orchards where pollinating bees come in and out of their hives like rushing throngs of Costco shoppers.

It’s sensory overload of the greatest kind.

…………..

NOTE to self: focus Larry.

Yes, today I’m thinking about LABELS and FOCUS.

Like cans and jars in the supermarket, we all have labels that attach to us – little descriptors that tell us and the world who we are. (Let’s agree to ignore the negativity labels that exist to bring us down)

Labels tell us our personal meaning of life… labels justify our existence. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy… you get it.

What are the labels you use to describe yourself if someone asks?

I struggle with this as an ADHD kinda guy who has many too many labels to know where to begin.

Perhaps this sounds like a good thing but I’m not so sure.

I’m TOO scattered.

Here’s my off-the-cuff label list to bore those who are foolish enough to inquire:

  • Husband/Parent/Grandparent
  • Guitar player/Singer/Songwriter
  • Exercise – Runner/Swimmer/Cyclist/Yoga/Weight Training/Tennis/Hockey (as a kid)
  • Stock Market Investor
  • Liberal
  • Introvert
  • Traveller/Homebody
  • Blog Writer
  • Music Lover -Folk/Country/Classical
  • Rom/Com Movie Lover
  • Medical Lab Tech/Retired
  • Woodworker/Renovator
  • Language Learner/Teacher
  • Cook/Baker/Fast Food Junkie
  • Chocaholic
  • Atheist/Philosopher
  • Gardener
  • Philanthropist/Volunteer

It’s an endogenous and exogenous list that both describes the internal me while also giving me a real meaning and sense of purpose… we can agree that this is good.

But, while that list may or may not be as long as yours, the boots-on-the-ground problem with a lengthy label list is focus and prioritization.

Like I said, I’m too scattered and this creates a brain traffic jam for me.

My solution has typically been making daily lists and trying to site the most critical tasks and joys early in the day when my mind and body are at their freshest and most energetic.

Today, I find my brain squeeze is growing ever greater as being an involved granddad and “parenting” a local Syrian family with their daily struggles is making me take a critical look at my list of labels – my label darlings.

As writers like William Faulkner and Stephen King are known to say, “You have to kill your darlings.”

Or, less dramatically, as Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson might say, “Something’s Gotta Give“.

Going forward, I’ll be looking carefully at my focus and priorities. Making tough choices.

As a people pleaser, I’ll struggle with the word NO, but will need to steel my resolve and use it more often.

And, unlike Stephen King, I really don’t want to traumatize any of you, so I promise I won’t kill any of my darlings, but I may have to put some down for a nap. (but definitely NOT the Chocaholic!)

I’m too sexy for my car…

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Nope, it’s not this Man On The Fringe that’s too sexy for anything. Not a chance

However, my good pal (and regular guest blogger) Jim Ferguson was and is filled with sex appeal. He oozes sensuality from his pores… scratch your screen and smell the heady musk…

As you read this post, I may be running my grand ole a** through the streets of downtown Vancouver with thousands of other crazies, so this is a perfect time to have Jim take the reins and tell you another of his fun stories.

Thanks for jumpin’ in here James… it’s over to you:

………………..

Larry has once again asked yours truly to provide some MOTF blog fodder and so I will do my best to live up to the fine standard Sir Lawrence has set (there is a standard…right? 😊).

I was listening to the radio recently and Right Said Fred’s song “I’m too sexy for my…” played. I’m sure you’ve all heard this catchy tune.

Well, one of the phrases in the song goes like this: “I’m too sexy for my car, too sexy for my car, too sexy by far”, and on it goes.

Well…I started to ponder whether I am, indeed, too sexy for my car and I realized that I have two vehicles (“I’m too sexy for my vehicle” just doesn’t do it for me…how about you?).

Not only do I have two vehicles BUT I have owned 27 vehicles in my adult life, and I am here to tell you that I am too sexy for most of them. Just ask Larry. He will tell you I am about as sexy a guy as you’ll ever meet. Right Larry?…..Larry?…..Larry?

Okay… that’s up for debate but allow me to make my case here and you can determine if I am too sexy for the following samples of cars from my collection over the years. You be the judge.

I married my wife Deborah in October 1979.

She had a 1969 two-toned VW bug. It was awesome and some even went so far to speculate that I had married Deb for her car. NOT SO! 😊

It was a two-toned, stick shift, brown VW bug with a Porsche gear shift knob. It was fantastic and honestly, I must say I was NOT too sexy for that car. That car was fun to drive, and I wish we still had it today as it would be worth a nice tidy sum if it were still in decent shape.

We saw the proverbial writing on the wall as mechanical issues reared their ugly heads. So, we sold the bug to a friend who wanted to fix it up and we slid on into a 1971 VW Super Beetle.

What a letdown that was.

It was bright orange and flashy, we had a new engine installed, but, it was rather blah and uninspiring.

I was definitely a sexier beast than the Super Beetle (now… maybe if it had come with John, Paul, George, and Ringo…different story… 😊).

Let’s move on to a few others from my car collection that I know I am too sexy for.

How about our brown, blah VW rabbit?

It had four wheels and drove and that was about it. Having a root canal was more fun than driving the Rabbit! We had this car while at university and it was a good utilitarian car for college students. It was great on gas BUT that still does not make it sexier than me!

We did own a Ford LTD. Can you say, “boat anchor”. We bought it off my folks in Nova Scotia for $500.00 and drove it for a year before it tanked on us.

Now let’s get those damn minivans out of the way…right here and now!

Move them to the side of the plate with the Brussel Sprouts. No way I lose out to a minivan. I owned two of them. They are great when you have kids. There is no denying that! BUT they are still minivans!

I owned a stick shift Dodge Caravan and an automatic Plymouth Voyager. I am almost too embarrassed to be even having this discussion. I feel like I should apologize to each reader individually. There simply is no way I lose out to a couple of minivans. I am like Fabio compared to minivans! Or a cross between Fabio and Keanu Reaves…right!

Better than a minivan, yes?

Now, during our college days, we did buy a 1967 Dodge Dart on its last legs and drove it for a year or so even with a crappy radiator and a cracked manifold.

I can’t compete with a ’67 Dart (despite the crappy radiator and cracked manifold and all). Uncle! Uncle! I give up! The Dart was a sexy beast and fun to drive. I humbly submit to the Dart.

Oh! And when I was in grad school in North Carolina in the late 1980s, I briefly owned a…wait for it………wait for it………be patient and wait for it……….a YUGO!!!

Yes indeed! I was the proud owner of a Yugo. I bought it second hand, but it was essentially new and it had less than a thousand miles on it. It was a sexy little car and fun to drive.

Imagine Deb and me and three kids crammed into that tiny car zipping all over Greensboro, NC! I submit to the Yugo. It was sexier than me by a long shot. I bet you didn’t see that coming right!!!

Here’s a “gimme” for you.

I owned a 1997 Mazda Miata 5-speed stick.

What a fun ride that was. In the summer after a busy/stressful day at work Deb and I would head out onto the country roads of Oregon with the top down at high speeds for what we termed “Miata therapy”. It was always fun and relaxing and a sweet ride.

Not too much fun in the winter or when there was a lot of rain, yet, it was definitely a smidge more sexy than I.

As you’ll see in the list below, I also had a Kawasaki 650 motorcycle for a couple of years. I had similar exhilaration on the motorcycle as experienced in the Miata with the top down.

I can’t end this jaunt down memory lane without an honourable mention for my 1997 Ford Expedition. I bought it in 2001. When we moved back to Nome, Alaska in 2002, I made sure to ship the Expedition to Nome and man ‘o man am I glad I did.

I got in and out of some crazy remote areas for hunting and fishing in the Expedition. It opened doors to access areas a normal vehicle could not reach. The Expedition was definitely a sexier beast than I.

Well…that’s all I have for you this time. Definitely some lighter fare than my usual headier blog posts.

I would be remiss if I did not give you the full list of my vehicles owned since 1979 (as best I can recall).

You be the judge. I am feeling the love from all of you and know that you’ll agree that other than a few outliers…

I am way too sexy for most of these vehicles:

  • 1969 VW Beetle
  • 1974 Ford LTD
  • 1973 Super Beetle
  • late ‘70s VW Rabbit
  • 1967 Dodge Dart
  • 1971 Pontiac Sunbird
  • 1980 Dodge Caravan
  • early ‘80s Kawasaki 650
  • 1985 Nissan Sentra
  • 1988 Yugo
  • 1986 Nissan Sentra
  • 1971 Plymouth Volare
  • 1992 Dodge Dakota
  • 1994 Plymouth Voyager
  • 1989 Pontiac
  • 1981 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon
  • Chevrolet S-10
  • 1997 Ford Expedition
  • 2004 Honda Civic
  • 2008 Scion
  • 1997 Mazda Miata
  • 1996 Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Tacoma x 2
  • Subaru Outback Sport
  • Toyota Prius
  • 2006 Dodge Dakota
  • 2007 Lexus RX350

What vehicles are on your list? Anything worthy of a mention? Feel free to add your favourite(s) in the comment section.

Peace,

Jim

Is this man too sexy?

Wandering Wonderings

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Then sweet music sounded on the air, and the loud tones were hushed, as in wondering silence the Fairies waited what should come.”  Louisa May Alcott

A

few wonderings today… not Pet Peeves this time, just Wandering Wonderings, little curiosities and things that confuse me…

.

.

Do you often find yourself questioning in your mind like a child who incessantly asks, WHY?

There may be 7 famous Wonders of the World, but you and I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our planet is filled with countless wonders that call out for an answer, a solution to the why, to the how.

And thankfully in the these last 15 years or so we have a tsunami of information at our fingertips with the likes of GOOGLE and Wikipedia. Love ’em or hate ’em, they give us instant answers to our whys that help make us wise.

Here are a few of my recent wandering wonderings… I’m sure you could easily add a dozen yourself:

  • Why does our education system allow, even encourage people to attend school for more than a decade without imparting a strong sense of reading, thinking, and discerning truth from fiction; to understand good quality research and evidence vs flimsy, poorly laid out analysis, or worse, opinion?
  • After watching Jeopardy faithfully for how many years, why am I still only able to answer less than 50% of the “ANSWERS” correctly? Surely 60 questions and answers passing through my brain daily should leave me an expert in essentially every area of knowledge, and yet?? Do I need to order a new Brain Plug from Amazon to prevent the drain?
  • After writing this blog for almost 10 years now without a cent of salary, no pennies of payment, no euros of royalty, no “exposure dollars” (as in for FREE), what bizarre mindset spurs me to continue to do this? Or for you my friends, to read this? Are we all part of a mass hypnosis?
  • How will this planet find a solution to the nuclear blackmail that allows a despot to run roughshod over an invented enemy because he has a back pocket full of nukes to raze the globe over 10 times? Humanity needs to nose out a firm and long-term solution to unhinged brutality, or “hegemony by tyrant” will control this orb forever. Could this be our “meaning of life” moment?
  • Why do some folks prioritize and respond to a text message in the middle of a conversation, or sitting for a meal in a group? How do you say BOOR?
  • Why was I taught a good deal of European, Asian, and North American history and culture in my school days and yet so little about Africa and South America? I am shockingly ignorant on these countries, their history, languages and culture. It’s like whole continents never existed…
  • In today’s world, why is OK that a woman could call handsome men up on stage and run her hands lasciviously over their bodies to applause. If I were to do something similar to women I’d be in a cell at Riker’s Island before I can say OSCAR. I’m totally in favour of the #MeToo movement, but I also subscribe to equality and fairness extended to all gender categories. Just wonderin’…
  • When we know that certain foods and makeups etc contain known carcinogens, why do we allow their sale? Don’t answer… might it have something to do with corporate profit and government revenues?
  • Why do some men do a hair combover with the expectation that no one will notice the baldness that lies beneath? You can fool some of the people some of the time…
  • Why do all team sports protect and heavily penalize against fisticuffs (forget the boxing ring) except hockey where organizers actively stir the bloodlust of the beer-infused spectator? Will Smith has been banned from Oscar for 10 years for a slap… in hockey they just give you a 5 minute timeout for giving the other guy a concussion.
  • What loving God would make sugar and bacon taste so good when they’re obviously the Devil’s food choices? Why doesn’t kale have the same “addictive” qualities?

I’ve been wanderin’ early and late
From New York City to the Golden Gate
And it don’t look like
I’ll ever stop my wanderin’… James Taylor

Reflections on Narsicim, er… Narciscim, arrgh… Narcissism

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One of the best, the worst, or the most beautiful (genetic) gifts you can be given is the “N” word… no, not that one… another “N” word…

Narcissus(ism).

Alas, one word, Narcissus, but here I’ll show you three different outcomes, saving the best for last.

Two Beauty’s and a Beast... or is it The Good, The Bad and the Non-Ugly *why do you make these stretches Larry?*

THE BEST (A Beauty): I want, and generally possess, the gift of spelling acumen that allows me to spell most of the hardest words commonly used in English.

Thank you Mom and Dad for this hereditary spelling endowment…. with little effort, I can spell almost anything… EXCEPT…

NARCISSISM (you know I used spell-check to get this, right?).

Where the heck do I place the “C”s and “S”s and how many in which spot. I get tied up in knots.

And truthfully, I couldn’t hold a smoking candle to those sharp-as-Japanese-Miyaba-knives 10-15 year-olds in the Scripps Spelling Bee that I watch with nerdish fascination as they conduct full autopsies on words I’ve never heard and never used in conversation.

Wunderkinder aside, belief and admiration of this trait, this ability in myself, likely qualifies me for the Narcissist’s Hall of Fame; it’s akin to grinning at my reflection in the Oxford Dictionary.

THE WORST (The Beast): What I don’t want but have already acknowledged I am a possessor of… is the trait of narcissism. Doesn’t writing a blog alone automatically qualify one for nomination in the Best Narcissist category at the Oscars? Slap me now Will (What? too soon?!)

The best and the worst forms of narcissism are truly 1st world issues… nobody huddled in Syria, Ukraine, or Sudan gives a flying sh*t about whether they can spell certain words, or if they hold an excessive interest in themselves.

You can’t really struggle for your daily existence and simultaneously admire your visage in the river.

Given the great difficult patch we’re in on this planet – aren’t Global warming, MAGA, and COVID enough trauma for one decade, do we need an unnecessary war? – isn’t something beautiful a soothing salve no matter where or when you live?

Summerland’s first 2022 Narcissi …….. Photo: Maureen Green

MOST BEAUTIFUL (A 2nd Beauty): yes, the national flower of Wales… I say Daffodil, you say Narcissus. Whichever word you use, they are some of the most lovely, regal flowers that symbolize spring for me more than a chirpy robin or even a flamboyant tulip.

Each year, the first daffodil blooms usher in my eldest daughter’s birthday, portend of longer and longer daylight days, and herald the shedding of winter parkas and mitts as they open their amiable faces with an array of delicate petals and mixture of colours.

Contrary to Meg Ryan’s assertion in You’ve Got Mail about daisies: “They’re so friendly. Don’t you think daisies are the friendliest flower?”- NO Meg, as much as I love you, Narcissi (OMG, another spelling when pluralized) are truly the friendliest flower.

But back to the kids… in 2019, 8 kids, for the first time in 92 years, co-shared the Scripps Spelling Bee trophy (and $50,000 each), after exhausting all the words given in 20 rounds without error.

It’s really enough to knock the stuffing out of any aspiring Narcisist, Narsicisst, oh bloody hell… Daffodil!

My Few Moderately Inflammable Retirement Peeves

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I’m feeling powerfully peever’ish this week.

More peeves? Of course. I get this peever fever (not Bieber fever) once a year or so.

Despite all the wonderful things happening in our world – and there are many – we’ve cornered ourselves into some of the most dark and desperate days of the last generation or two. Headline anxiety is running amok.

Yes indeed. Pandemics and Racism (see last week’s post) and Social Networks and Global Warming and Sociopathic Politicians and Military Muscle have driven us to the brink just when we thought we had civilization all figured out.

We’ve muddled our way into a transition period perhaps not unlike moving into the Industrial Age; a time of huge upheaval for humanity and the planet’s existence, before the golden days return.

I hope.

Before I step back and give my head a needed respite from this multitude of negativity, I have to offload some more pet peeves to set my mind at ease for a little while… Ommmmmmmm

I’m a word and spelling snob. I’m not proud of it but I admit it.

Improper word usage, phrases, and speling erors drive me batty, just as exaggeration (any Trump sentence), hyperbole (any Trump sentence), and obvious non-factual misdirection ie lies (any Trump sentence) make me reach for high blood pressure meds.

Let’s just dive into a few of my language irritants… my “wordle” pet peeves, shall we? … feel free to add to my list if the irritation moves you:

  1. MODERATE – who decides where moderate lies in the spectrum of a little to a lot… I think that eating 4 large slices of cherry cheesecake is being moderate, while you believe that eating 1 tiny square of a Fruit and Nut Bar is excessive. Who’s right? (ME, of course!)
  2. PIANIST – OMG, nope, nope, nope… this sounds much too much like my boy parts… let’s just stick with “piano player”, OK?
  3. RETIREMENT (R) – I know that most of you reading my blog posts are either retired or on the precipice of the blessed event. Congratulations! BUT… “Retired” is an anachronism that speaks to my parent’s generation. We don’t “retire” anymore… we change direction into one or more other regions of who we are, so in my pretend world of make believe I just use the letter “R” to represent this non-sequitor.
  4. (IN)FLAMMABLE – we should all know by now that placing “in” in front of this word doesn’t change its meaning… the words are synonyms. “i.n.” are just throwaway letters… so let’s toss them into the flammable pile, OK?
  5. MOIST – it’s interesting that MOIST is apparently the most despised word in the English language according to a number of surveys. I can only find it funny now that my Canadian Prime Minister used it during the deepest pandemic days, uttering: “If people want to wear a mask, that is OK. It protects others more than it protects you because it prevents you from breathing or speaking moistly on them.” Moist conjures up an impression of moldy flotsom in my head, definitely not a pretty vision. And please don’t breath or speak it at me!
  6. SANCTION – yeah, one word with opposing definitions. Dictionary def’s? 1. a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule, or 2. official permission or approval for an action. “Sanction me? So… are you coming back to my place for the night or not?”
  7. FEWER/LESS – I’d die a happy guy if folks just used fewer less‘es. Try using fewer with countable nouns like cookies. Less means “not as much.” We use less with uncountable nouns like milk. Most often, you will not have to be Hercule Poirot to deduce whether a noun is countable or uncountable, so the decision between less and fewer will be an effortfewer …er … effortless… one.
  8. HAVE A GOOD ONE – sorry, a good… what?? A good life? a good marshmallow? a good bowel movement? Don’t leave me hanging, what should I be having that’s good?
  9. THE FACT IS – in my experience, anytime someone prefaces their phrasing with “the fact is” means they have no idea what the facts are and are making this shit up. Leave “the fact is” out of your statement and actually provide me the documented (3 peer-reviewed studies is ideal) facts.
  10. BLOG/PHLEGM/PUS – there’s nothing really wrong with any of these words except they strike my “irritation centre”… the sound of each is unappealing and leave me feeling like I want to slap the person next to me for no reason at all.
  11. PANTIES – The word panties in itself is innocuous, but for some reason, it gives me a weird feeling. An innocent name for female underwear, and yet it sounds pornographic in my head. Worse still is that it sounds like kid-speak, and so combine porno with kids and I feel like a wretched pedophile merely saying the word.
  12. FLACCID – As a male, this word may be descriptive, but it sounds demeaning and “belittling” to my manhood. I know it says something about my insecurities and sensitivity. I’ll try to get over it!
  13. WHATEVER – when spoken, this usually means the end of any potentially meaningful or productive dialogue, but in an insulting fashion. I’m pretty sure the fact is, with his panties in a knot, and knowing that sanctions would be forthcoming, “whatever” was the last, moist word a flaccid Putin said to the world before he unleashed his moderate, yet inflammable forces on Ukraine … Have a good one Vlad!

When Will I Find Puberty? Inscrutable Hirsutability

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HAIR

I could be embarrassed. Should I be embarrassed?

Is hair THAT important? Just how superficial am I?

What’s the big deal?

The deal is… I’m not certain I’ve hit puberty yet. There are some clear signs I’m told.

When I listen to my voice on tape… or CD, or mp3, or whatever format is today’s current and oh-so-temporary waste of my $… *where can I play my extensive library of America and Carly Simon 8-tracks huh?*

Where was I? Oh yeah… my voice… my voice sounds like my sister’s lovely higher-pitched vocals… except I don’t want her voice (no offence Sis).

I want a manly, mellifluous, FM DJ’s baritone timbre. I’d even settle for a decent tenor.

Not only that, but looking back on my early high school days I remember pining for the day when I would have hair.. you know… down there

And I did get it – temporarily – in spades eventually, but before that …

Changing in gym class was a torture as I squirrelled away in the back corner while all the hirsute gorilla-boys with curly black wads all over their groins and pits snapped towels at each other… many even adorned already with moustaches and beards…

… I peeked down and viewed my Brazilian “do”… no fair!

I couldn’t complain to anyone… there were no FB chatrooms or support groups for woebegone juveniles who were slow to physically mature.

And even if I did want to complain I’d have had to walk uphill for hours and hours through 4 foot-high snowdrifts just to get to my friend Renato’s house. Those were the times my friend!

I wasn’t totally overlooked by pubertal change I suppose… I did have a pimply chin and nose… lucky me.

So let’s recount here… Girl’s voice, check. No body hair, check. Acne, check.

I was living the life of Danny Zuko – cool dude, cool car, cool chicks – in GREASE… HA! only in my mind! My Greased Lightning manliness was a Two-Wheeled Tricycle.

Just so you know I’m not an inveterate complainer, a few years later I did hit a sweet spot in life where hair was abundantly flourishing everywhere…

So much so that while living in William’s Lake BC in my early 20’s, one of the female doctors in the hospital where I worked even joked that perhaps I was the Missing Link because of the fluffy dark tufts of hair poking above the top of the collar of my scrubs… I was living the Latino dream… so I guess I did find my delayed puberty after all.

I sat in that sweet spot for about 20 years… sadly, my voice never dropped, but I did sport the thick, dark hair and clear skin that gave me that “Saturday Night Fever” style.

Until… *mic drop*… one day in the lab where I worked in Penticton. One of my so-called “lab friends” giggled about the bald spot on the back of my head. I laughed right along because it was just a joke and who doesn’t like a good joke, right?

Later that day – my co-worker’s voice and laughter tracking in my head – I checked in my bathroom 3-way mirror for reassurance, akin to you looking at a new mole carefully to reassure yourself that it isn’t a deadly cancer growth.

WTF!!!! Seriously? The laugh track stopped and the BeeGees began singing I Started A Joke in my head… yes, there was a small hole in the ozone layer in the back of my head. Noooooo.

My Everest-like hairy peak had been summited and I was now tumbling and sliding on the downslope of manhood… I had male pattern baldness … I felt myself cowering back in that gym class corner.

Another cruel ironic appendage to this furry tumble has been the unexpected sprouting of hair on the rims of my ears and from my nostrils… perhaps you can attribute these indignities to my atheistic perspective: either God is truly non-existent (surely no loving God would do this to me)…or… this same God is making me pay the price for dissing his/her/their existence. But that’s another blog post, right?

Life is about perpetual flexibility and accommodation… we hang on and survive through the embarrassments and lean times, and thrive through the buoyant patches. C’est la vie.

I’ve decided that puberty is truly a moot point so long as I stay immature for life!

Na-na na-na boo-boo… stick your head in doo-doo…

8 Sexy, Sporty Ways To Become a COVID MILLIONAIRE!

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So I had just finished skinny dipping at my local public swimming pool.

There were maybe a half dozen others – also uncovered– doing exactly the same… breast stroke, freestyle, backstroke… all the swim strokes… Laps done.

I pulled myself from the warm water up onto the pool deck, grabbed my towel and dried myself a bit, and then demurely slipped back into my covering… pulling one strap over one ear, then slowly sliding the other strap into place, ensuring both cheeks were fully covered… black, sleek and elegant.

Modesty restored. Ah, that’s better… my face mask firmly and securely in place.

And I realized as I trundled cautiously across the grey, slippery tiles back to the changeroom, that I was “enjoying” a sensation such as women have been having for ages.

My next thought – as a capitalistic, investing kinda guy – I pondered as to why Victoria’s Secret and Maidenform and Chantelle and Dolce and Gabbana and Playtex, hadn’t jumped enthusiastically onto this bandwagon and expanded their potential audience.

For 2 viral years now they’ve merely expended valuable time and left a bazillion dollars unclaimed.

Sure, there is some semblance of “style” in masks out there. But real function and “runway”-worthy fashion is sadly lacking.

What a foolish oversight I said to myself as my heaving cheeks blushed lightly beneath my pleated, yet masculine mask.

Let’s think about this for a minute.

A product with two straps that wrap around a body part to securely contain and accentuate other body parts and also perform a decorative and yes, often sexy role, simultaneously?

BRAS!

Women spend countless dollars/pounds/euros etc on every form and format of brassiere throughout their lives.

Whole stores line our malls and departments-within-department-stores selling one product to one half of the population.

Stretching the product line into face masks is a ridiculously simple line extension. As my Brit friends would say: It’s brilliant!

Sexy push-up bras, strapless bras, full-figure support bras, sports bras, racerback bras, lacy bras, bralets?

All of these can be reconfigured to the facial market for women, men, and tweens, adolescents and teenagers alike. Matchee matchee bralet facelet!

And where the bra market begins with training bras for the young tween, face masks can even be sold aplenty to the beginner baby and toddler training-mask market.

COVID has broadened the selling-floor and scope to cover every living adult and child across the globe.

There are countless “idea sex” directions this escapade can take, but today I’ll pass on just 8 helpful little ideas I’d suggest for the BIGGEES in undergarment wear to unveil in their spring catalogues’ Face Mask lineup:

  1. Plunging noselines for office parties and dramatic red-carpet events… the J-Lo line.
  2. UnderArmor and Nike padded masks to enhance facial musculature of those in gyms and Cross-Fit Hot Boxes… the Schwartznegger line.
  3. Push-up masks for the older crowd (like me) with slumping cheeks and burgeoning jowlsthe Vintage Betty White/George Burns line.
  4. HIIT training masks with face-hugging support to keep facial-jiggling under control the Pamela Anderson Control line
  5. Bikini-style masks for beach and travel experiences… an upper for the nose area with a separate bottom for the mouth… trés chic! the Pamela Anderson Out-of-Control line.
  6. Back or front fastening masks for a bit of variety, and male “unhooking” challenges when moving in for that first kissthe Notebook line.
  7. Pullover masks for athletic eventsthe Usain Bolt/Simone Biles line.
  8. Uplift masks… Similar to the elders’ push-up mask (#3 above), a younger version for those looking for a sexy Nordic uplift to cheeks… the Liv Ullman/Daniel Craig line.

I’m back from the pool now. And what feels better when I return home than to slip off those spaghetti straps digging in behind my ears… ah, to let my cheeks settle and relax and breathe once more…

OK… I’m ready to receive royalty cheques and become a MASK MILLIONAIRE!

More good news. I’ve made my functional purchase and won’t be seen “skinny dipping” again anytime soon. You’re welcome!

The Wondrous Beauty of Being AND Doing

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I get confused when I hear the expression, “we’re human beings, not human doings.

I like to think of myself as BOTH a noun AND a verb… yes, this one thing I can multitask in a focused way!

You got it… I’m part sloth, part puma…. grrrrrr….

Here’s how I maintain myself as a human being and a human doing…

My desktop – the real physical one I can touch and spill my latte all over – is filled with sheets of foolscap and lined paper pads … papers that run top-to-bottom and side-to-side with my daily scribbled LISTS!

Without lists, without a calendar, without the morning sunrise… I’m solely a human being… you just might as well take me to my grandson’s daycare each morning and show me which toys to play with because I will have ABSOLUTELY NO Direction.

None, nada, zilch… you catch my drift? I get “LISTLESS”.

…………………

Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.

~Marcus Aurelius, Stoic philosopher

…………………

The three greatest hallmarks I possess (*one of which used to be my hair*) are

  • 1. my calendar
  • 2. my lists, and
  • 3. a slave-like devotion to “Own The Morning”… getting the most important things done early in the day.

I get it. I understand that we don’t want to become automatons enslaved to “do do do“, but I also understand that I don’t want to imprison myself in a philosophy of “idleness, indolence and inertia“.

     (Aside: Pet Peeve: It drives me nuts when I see men (it's almost always XY chromosome creatures) who think that earning a living ie. being the hunky breadwinner, is sufficient excuse to collapse on a couch after a workday. 
     Meanwhile, the (usually) woman partner: works, cleans house, grocery shops, prepares meals, looks after children.
     Any relationship where one partner believes that doing only 20% of the daily work involved is equitable, is stuck in Slave-holder Plantation-Master mode. Beware the Underground Railroad!  

OK, where was I?

Right. As part human doing, I’m not advocating for non-stop busy work or a compulsive need to be constantly accomplishing stuff… yes, rest and recovery are important. My human being part needs regular refreshing.

But a life well-lived, in my books, is one where we experience things directly, by doing… we learn, we try out all kinds of things both easy and difficult, we meditate and sweat, we love and hate, we laugh and cry, we eat and fast … doing and experiencing= invigoration.

…it’s part of the ancient stoic philosophy of overall self-improvement blended with healthy balance.

It’s no accident that my daily practice of making lists, checking my calendar, and owning the morning, allows me to revert to a partially relaxed and satisfied form of slothdom later in the day. However, if you happen to flip the day on its head and Own The Night, well, good on you too!

When life’s critical doohickeys are done, my head becomes clear and unbothered, my body trained and physically tested, my spirit able to enjoy and absorb.

I’m an ordinary Tale of Two Humans and that’s a wondrously wonderful thing.

Remembering My Bananas Brother

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It’s sad and it’s sweet… and I knew it complete… when I wore a younger man’s clothes…

How can any person live 79 years and feel they’ve been shortchanged?

How can you have lived in 7 countries, have a wife and 3 kids, 5 grandkids, 2 great grandchildren, and somehow be cheated by death? You can’t really… except…

… it feels to me like he was cheated, like a million others, probably someone you love(d)… not by death, death is certain… but by a beautiful mind that became shrouded in dense cloud and mist. Alzheimer’s storm.

Today I write this blog post as an homage and tribute to my brother Robert who passed this week… my family of 5 siblings has winnowed down to 3 …

I really didn’t come to know my brother until my adult years… Robert and I were separated by 15 years in age, and when he moved from Hamilton to Edmonton to work on his PhD when I was about 5 or 6 years old, our age separation was multiplied by a few thousand kilometres of physical distance.

As I grew up, I heard stories of my “foreign” brother… mostly about how incredibly smart he was. Bright enough to skip 2 grades in school. I teased myself later on that I was a failure, a black sheep, because I only moved ahead one grade.

Robert married a lovely prairie girl Lois (another PhD student) and they shared an adventurous life of making babies (3 in total) while moving every few years to live and teach in a host of countries (Malaysia, England, Egypt, Nigeria, India, Wales).

In between their globe-hopping they would settle for a year or two in Regina or Saskatoon before taking on another international escapade.

Robert was also a bibliophile, a book lover.

Broadway District, Saskatoon

One day he opened a popular bookstore in Saskatoon, Broadway Book Merchants.

Broadway Street is a destination artistic haven to this day and his bookstore was a well-known stop for many many wandering the streets. Robert revelled in the authors who regularly sat in his store to autograph new releases.

He was never so happy as when celebrated author and storyteller W.O. Mitchell (Who Has Seen The Wind, Jake and the Kid) came to the house for dinner after a book signing. After dinner, Mitchell said in his lovely sonorous voice that he’d be happy to share stories with the family all night long, so long as the alcohol flowed liberally! Robert (an inveterate wine and beer maker himself) was delighted to oblige.

Bookselling retirement was eventually forced on him as the inevitability of the mega-online booksellers ate away at bricks-and-mortar retailers. He accepted the inevitable and moved on.

Somehow, over the years, my wife Maureen and I were able to meet up and spend bits of time here and there with Robert; never for long, but let’s say it was “quality time”.

Cross-country skiing over mountain passes in Jasper, organizing and coordinating family reunions, vacationing together in China, visits in Cusco, Peru, teaching me to add cumin to my chili recipe, and his many visits to our Okanagan home gave me the chance to “bond” with Robert.

A wee sip of Chinese snake wine… adventurous!

He and I shared a silly sense of humour that was always best expressed while taking in anything by the Monty Python crew…

Robert wasn’t a perfect man (he and I must be related!), but he had an inner softness and vulnerability that I loved.

We became “brothers” as adults when childhood hadn’t afforded us that opportunity.

On our shared journey across China almost 10 years ago, I could sense small changes in Robert’s mental functioning that said something was awry.

Sure enough, only a couple of months after we returned, the Alzheimer’s diagnosis was confirmed and his lengthy downward journey became his final unwanted odyssey.

This past year, I wrote a song (with an irreverent title but one that Robert would have laughed over anyways) about Robert’s decline that I’ll share with you here once again today.

Thanks for being my brother Robert…

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