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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

My 8 Unimpeachable Quarantine Goals for 2021

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A daring bloodless revolution is underway…

… not in Tehran or Washington… nope… in the confines of my home.

Do I think New Year’s resolutions are passé? … well… not so much… but…

… OK, I’m still a goal setter – and it may just be my advancing age – but it’s more likely this whole COVID thing has me becoming more discerning and self-critical.

The belly button gazing has become more intense (and fogged by fluff).

The choices and opportunities for setting goals and achievements has narrowed substantially this past year. Today…

• I substitute PBS Rick Steves episodes for international travel destinations

• CNN is a surrogate for fantasy literature stories

• baking powder or starter mix does its bubble-dance in place of hard-as-toilet-paper-to-find yeast

• energetic hikes to the refrigerator take up the sweaty role of boot camp classes

• snatching a package of toilet paper from an elderly lady’s shopping cart makes for a high-five victory (and a lap of shame too, Larry)

Author Jim Collin’s Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) remain out-of-bounds for awhile still.

So… my major mental activity these days is to categorize my minor-league goals; here are a select few of these 2021 Humbled Downsized Miniaturized Goals (HDMG):

  1. Hygiene: Brush my teeth at least twice a week. Finger rubbing between brushings scores chocolate bonus points. Avoid smiling at hygienist daughter: stay focused.
  2. Hygiene: create a small business of mobile face-mask washing kiosks outside malls and grocery stores to remove crusty spots and brown saliva stains from customer masks worn for weeks and jammed into filthy pockets.
  3. Exercise: Run 5k at least once a …. run 5k over the coming year. Marathon Stretch Goal– keep weight gain to 26.2 lbs.
  4. Exercise: Climb to the very top of local mountain, Giant’s Head, carrying a case of Double-size Charmin toilet paper, without the assistance of bottled O2 or an accompanying medic… train ahead of time with YouTube Couch Cross-Fit and BedBounce Yoga classes.
  5. Mental: Read War and Peace in original Russian… or 10 Trump tweets in English, whichever is less difficult to understand. Late breaking: No more Trump tweets, nyet… so War and Peace it is… da!
  6. Mental: Yell out in properly verb-conjugated Spanish at the neighbour’s Chihuahua when it poops on my property…. el perro gordo loco….
  7. Creative: Write 10 blog posts that don’t mention the words Trump and F*ck in the same paragraph. Also: write one full post using only my left pinkie finger.
  8. Investment: pour entire pension fund assets into toilet paper futures using Bitcoin (Larry, do you even have the slightest understanding of what bitcoin is?)

  • BONUS Goals:
    • Cooking: Work on sculpture-based meal-making using a combination of Beyond Meat and Chia Pet seeds. First up: Bob Ross Meat(less)loaf. Also: Send my 2 yr-old grandson’s famous recipe for Stinky Cheese Donuts to Tim Hortons.
    • Juvenile: Dress up as Miss Piggy and eat frog legs for breakfast.
    • Music: Write a Broadway musical about Trump called Hangry Humping On The Resolute Desk.

Welcome to silly season. So what will be YOUR goals for 2021?

Hang on cuz this will be a year of necessary continued patience and finding something funny in the absurd. Even many Holocaust survivors found room in their lives for dark humour to lift their spirits.

Those afflicted with COVID, or those with someone close-by affected, need the respite of laughter to distract and soothe. To quote my COVID long-hauler Irish cousin, “Let’s not forget all the positivity among the pain – those little glimmers of sunshine in the darkness that got us through.

Now’s a good time to start your own home-bound res(v)olution…

BREAKING NEWS for MEN: 8 Tricks to Look Like George Clooney Beyond Middle Age…

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WELCOME to my

DIY Handsomeness Course

Last week I mentioned that I stopped aging at 19, but that was only partly true.

The rest of the story is below…

Full disclosure: I stopped MATURING at age 19… ie. my mental maturity got stuck in the mud like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth (this happens to men a lot). Bad news.

The physical side of me – my face and body – felt left out by the process, so in nasty retribution they went into a hyper-speed zone after I chronologically traversed the teenager divide into adulthood (this also happens to men a lot). More bad news.

Having the V-shaped physique that marks a virile, stud-muffin man can be a problem if the apex of the V begins at your neck and hits full wide-open stride at your waist. Yes, this too is bad news.

So here I am now, stuck with a juvenile mentality and looking for a physical reversal and rejuvenation, sort of a Benjamin Buttoning of my outward appearance.

For sure it’s an ego trip, a full-fledged vanity expedition, probably resulting from the unintended ingestion of too many late-night infomercials.

It’s akin to when I was a kid, when I believed the comic book ads, the cunning tripe that tried to sell me the magic scope that would allow me to see through women’s clothing… creepy stuff that flared a pre-hormonal boy’s wistful dreams. Boob city for only $1.00 + $ .25 S+H?

Sucker born every minute, right PT Barnum?

This week I’ve been doing a little extra GOOGLE research into male anti-aging solutions that will offer me more Sean Connery and less Mystical Connery.

Here are a few things I’ve been reading about and will sift to determine which I should try so that my face and body match my juvenile mentality.

*The Small Print Disclaimer*: Please don’t try ANY of these “solutions”- no one wants to look like me!

  1. NECK TAPE – my turkey neck syndrome is solved with this clear medical-grade tape that is placed on the back of the neck. The instructions are simple: Grab your neck skin at the nape, pull it back, tape it in place, and then cover the evidence with your hair. The result is a fairly slim and firm-looking neck. Maybe I can make this a part of my daily “manly” routine in addition to SSS (S*&t, Shower & Shave). Unintended positive side effect: ripping off the tape at the end of the day gets rid of the unwanted hair on the back of my neck… DOUBLE SCORE!
  2. URINE DRINK – Brit Harry Matadeen, 32, leaves his urine for up to a month, before drinking a glass every day and massaging it into his skin every morning. The health coach says the ‘free and powerful medicine that can cure all manner of diseases’ has made him healthier and smarter than ever before – and claims he now gets mistaken for a man in his 20’s thanks to its anti-aging qualities. I’m only sad knowing that I poured thousand of litres of urine down the sink in my career as a lab technologist. I could have had the skin of 6 month-old baby with early knowledge of this miracle drink! Forget those “green smoothies”, yellow has the power.
  3. BIRD POOP FACE MASK – Nightingale droppings have been used in facials since ancient Japanese times. The guano from the nightingale has a high concentration of urea and guanine. Because birds excrete a fecal and urine waste from a single opening, called the cloaca, the fecal-urine combination gives the droppings a high concentration of urea. Urea is sometimes found in cosmetics because it locks moisture into the skin. The guanine may produce shimmery, iridescent effects on the skin. It’s speculated that because of the short intestine of the nightingale, the droppings have protein, a fat-degrading enzyme, and a whitening enzyme that acts on fat and scurf to whiten skin and even out blemishes. Holy Shit… Sign me up!
  4. PONYTAIL or COMB-OVER?– OK, what dude doesn’t look great with a youthful ponytail, or better yet, a comb-over? I won’t even go into detail here because we all know that a semi-balding fella always looks more lusty and fertile with one of these age-defying trendy do’s.
  5. VIAGRA CREAM – Sagging jowls and eyelids got you down? Forget BOTOX. Forget the ED use of this solid wonder product. Viagra enhancement cream liberally smeared on the face daily will stiffen and engorge the skin with huge blood flow to bring a man’s face to attention in no time. Sure, it’s an off-label use, but I’ve heard it’s on the White House list of effective COVID treatments too. What could go wrong? Visit a doctor if your face goes stiff for more than 4 hours.
  6. WEAR A “BRO” – This is a no-brainer friends. No one wants to look at a cute older couple walking along the ocean boardwalk on a warm evening and try to determine if the man or woman has saggier hooters. If your 100 pushup per day routine just isn’t firming up those masculine pecs, then it’s time to try out the 2020 WonderBro. No separation, just lift. Keep the female eyes on your (Viagra’d) face and not your chest, boys.
  7. FULL BODY WAXING – Steve Carell had the right idea in The 40 Year-Old Virgin *cue the screams*. In today’s world, any body hair below the neck is too much body hair. Believe me, I know. Immersion in a warm, syrupy wax tank followed by a full body rip is the ultimate solution to the question “why haven’t I cried lately“?
  8. JAW CHISEL SURGERY – ever watched hip replacement surgery? It’s a joy to see the Home Depot saws and hammers and chisels emerge from Operating Room drawers after the patient is comatose. Those same miracle tools can be put to good use on your chin by all the Dr. Michelangelo’s out there. There’s no way that Clooney and Connery came by those chiselled chins naturally. The DAVID statue and Mount Rushmore had less work done than either of those two.

So guys, you should be feeling pretty pumped and well-equipped now to send your face and body into reverse gear.

You’re gonna love being a teenager again (except for the acne)!

Seriously Your Honour? … An Innocent’s Lament To A Beeoch…

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policewoman at window

A small (ironic) parable today… if you can stomach it.

…………….

She shook her head and glared at me. Such lovely dark eyes.

I didn’t get it. She didn’t get that I didn’t get it.

A young’ish female judge in flowing black robes and white tie sat on the bench in judgment… of me?

Thin stripes of burgundy brocade garnished the front edges of her judicial robe like sardonic drips of menstrual blood dripping from her chest. Taunting me.

And just like my orange-tinged idol from the Land of the Free, I knew in my heart of hearts that I had done nothing wrong. And yet.

Here I stood at the front of this courtroom defending myself. Witchhunt.

Defending myself against ridiculous trumped-up charges that an obviously poorly-trained RCMP officer- a woman no less … a pretty lady who plainly would have been better suited to hairdressing as a career than policing – was levelling against me.

My eyes flashed wide, directed in amazement towards the judge, the police lady and the courtroom.

woman judge

So many women. I felt like I was in a cat-house. I was simultaneously pissed and aroused.

Now I want you to see clearly the nonsense, the crazy miscarriage of justice perpetrated here, so I’ll provide you a direct quote from this officer lady’s notes that she read out to the court in the charges against me:

“I approached the vehicle of the suspect Mr. Green. He lowered his window.  I asked for his registration and licence. His response was “Of course Sweetheart, you look tired, was the lineup at Tim Hortons too long this morning?

I repeated my request for his documentation which he then provided. I asked if he knew of the reason for being pulled aside.

He shook his head and wondered aloud if he had a burnt out taillight or if I was suffering from some monthly issues.

No sir, I responded. Besides driving at 74 kilometres per hour in a 30 kilometre School Zone, I noticed that you were texting on your phone while driving and appeared severely distracted. You know that’s an offence sir.

Oh is that all?, he replied. Everyone does that, right? No big deal. C’mon, the kids got out of the way.

And the phone sir? Anything you’d like me to add? I asked.

Oh, so you noticed me reaching into the back seat to retrieve my phone that had been ringing? Once I was able to get my seatbelt back on and see that I had missed a call from a bar buddy I met last night – I have to admit I’m still a bit fuzzy up top here – I turned off the Netflix show I was watching on the dashboard screen and zipped off a quick text telling him I was driving and would call him later. 

I see Sir. And I detect a strong scent of cannabis as well. Have you been smoking pot? Is that a joint I see smouldering on your console?

Sure little lady, but it’s medicinal. I have this cast on my foot that really hurts when I drive – I hate driving standard – so I smoke some weed to cut the pain. It’s legal weed, so no offence there Honey.

Sir, there are so many Motor Vehicle charges here that I barely know where to begin. Please step out of your vehicle and place your hands on the hood of the car.

You’re kidding me Sweetheart, right? I’ve done nothing wrong.

You’re kind of pretty you know, doesn’t the RCMP have some sort of skirt for officers like you to wear?

He stepped from the vehicle with a grin on his face and slowly turned and placed his hands on the car.

This is harassment. My lawyers will have all of this in the courts for years to come. Plus I’ll destroy your reputation Bitch, you won’t be behind the wheel of that cruiser a year from now. Somebody should grab you by the pussy and make sure you’re satisfied.

Yes Sir, I’m sure you believe that. I frisked the defendant and secured his hands behind his back for transport to the station.”

eye rolling.gif

The judge lady shook her head in some sort of womanly tantrum… I have to admit that it was a bit titillating. She was clearly in on this whole fake arrest thing.

Then the Grudge Judge declared me guilty on the full set of charges. My plump, wild-eyed lawyer reassuringly whispered in my ear that appeals would tie this up for months, maybe years.

As I was led from the courtroom, I turned and suggested to the Beauty Shop Cop that she get some anger management training and try chilling, maybe go to an old-fashioned movie with a friend.

WITCHHUNT. Watch out Twitter.

Twitter-rage

 

 

 

The Horrible Shame of Being Human…

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terrible children.jpg

Let’s face it… YOU are terrible. I am terrible.

Humans are horrible.

Modern North American life is a life of shame…

Every action I take makes me a bad person.

I don’t want to be a bad person.

I try to remember all my family’s and friends’ birthdays. I even bake them cakes.

But then I don’t think and eat an almond. Damn, uses too much California water. Spit out the almond.

Try a bowl of raisin bran with milk and banana. Healthy. Good. Can’t go wrong there. But…

Raisins = sulfite preservative = sugar-coated = Bad…

Milk = cows = too much land required to raise and treated poorly = Bad…

Bananas = monoculture = Bad

Spit out the cereal Larry.

Don’t even get started on eating meat products. Killing + Fat + Land Use = Bad.

Right … so I’ll try Beyond Meat … no animal product consumption there … lots of good pea protein… WHEW I’m good …. except … Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers have more saturated fat and sodium content than a comparable beef burger… OMG! And just wait for the next scientific study that proves vegetables are truly able to feel pain … yes, carrot juice IS murder!

green pepper

I’ve gotta do something to redeem my hellish sins…

Drive my car to help out at the soup kitchen. Good? Nope, bad.

Driving uses non-renewable fossil fuels and contributes to global warming. Drive a battery-powered Tesla? Hmmm… uses a ton or two of energy consuming metals and the battery has to be landfilled after 10 years.

I’ve got to escape for a few from the guilt of my feckless faulty footprint … I won’t read a book because that has paper … the destruction of forests on my head? No thanks. I’ll just read some Stephen King on my Kobo (e-reader) … breathe deeply and relax.

Wait… that e-reader consumes electrical power from a hydroelectric dam (on First Nations territory) in northern BC that wiped out hundreds of square kilometres of animal habitat and besides…

… the electronic reader I’m holding was shipped from China on a freighter that drank a gazillion gallons of fuel and dumped plastic into the ocean … and …

… the wifi electromagnetic waves that it receives invisibly through the atmosphere cause brain cancer. Oh good grief…

Forget vacations that involve airplane travel… jets devour gas like it’s icy-cold cerveza on a hot Mexican playa. Too much noise pollution too.

Recycle? Follow Canada’s lead and send your plastic to Malaysia or the Philippines for them to hold for a few years before shipping your shit back to you …

Speaking of …

SHIT? Do you know how much human excrement is sent into our rivers and oceans?  One extreme example … the Ganges River in India absorbs more than a billion gallons of raw sewage and industrial waste every single day. Enjoy your swim.

swimming in garbage.jpg

Everything I do … you do … comes at a cost… because every stone we throw hits the ocean, and ripples of the water hit every shore … which leads to the question…

I try to be a good person, so what are the rules that can lessen my shame?

Let’s face it, the guilt and shame are the stink that can never be fully washed away… no tomato juice baths will make any of us squeaky clean. Ever.

It’s old and it’s hackneyed and it’s cliche.

Think globally. Act locally. Vote for the politician who thinks not like a narcissistic buffoon but like a chess player … 8 moves ahead … 8 generations into the future, considering the consequences of our actions on the world.

And as much as I hate the word for its lack of clear meaning… be moderate … and in the end… forgiving of yourself. The world is complex and terrible and homely, but also kind and beautiful and enthralling.

I know I’m very lucky. I try to be healthy. And generous … when I help others, my own happiness increases.

Clint Eastwood, the wise old cowboy Yoda, described us as we are …  The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

the good bad and ugly

 

Hip Hip Hooray… Ain’t Your Bathroom Great?

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Dog on toilet

CRAP … I lost another game of iPad solitaire while sitting on the toilet.

Yup, CRAP!

The very best place for sitting, game playing, thinking, contemplating, figuring, worrying, laughing, reading, and of course… shitting… is in the bathroom. Instant privacy and quiet.

Just the other day I wandered aimlessly upon a moment of intense gratitude. We all need more gratitude moments.

I live in a house that has an indoor bathroom. With a toilet.

I’m gonna take a wild guess that you do too.

Call it what you will… loo, WC, restroom, washroom, head, lavatory … by any name we should all smile with great glee at this thought.

In February when the cold winds and snows were pouring off the white-shrouded mountains like perilous nasty whitewater waves, I was warm, dry and windless in my cozy little comfort station.

It seems such a simple expected perk of life. So simple.

 

Diner toilets.jpg

But I don’t have to look too far off into the distance to glimpse other areas and eras where this would be a huge luxury.

In post-cyclone Mozambique news today, a reporter makes note of: “Three thousand people who are living in a school that has 15 classrooms and six, only six, toilets.”

On a “First Class” train journey from Jaipur to Mumbai, India a couple of years back we had to balance ourselves in a squat position over a pit toilet as it jostled back and forth with the rhythm of the clickety-clack.

You guessed it. The smell and sights within the squalid little room were stomach-churning.

And of course, historically within my home country Canada, just a few generations back, my relatives all hiked outside every single day, every season. No cushy pillowed wipes… it was newspaper and Eaton’s catalogue time.

In the humid heat of fly-enriched summer and icy-terrained winter, my grandparents did their business in a highly-scented wooden box just like in the opening graphic scene from the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

………………

Well, not quite like that but you get the idea.

Our world is encased in oodles and oodles of technology, and yet, for me, despite the inventions of:

  • cars and airplanes
  • computers
  • television and movies
  • recorded music and all the electronics it comes from
  • telephones
  • automatic washing machines and dishwashers…

… that enhance my standard of living… and yes, I could go on and on … there is probably no human-devised invention that enriches my life more than indoor bathroom plumbing.

Praise be the in-house toilet.

We really don’t take time often enough to reflect and en-wrap ourselves in gratitude for the modern luxuries that enrich and simplify our daily passage.

Which is why I am dedicating this week’s blog post in praise of the indoor toilet.

You may think I’m wasting your time, you might like to poo-poo me, sure, tell me to piss off, possibly you don’t even give a shit …

… but I will continue on giving a crap about such delightfully uncomplicated things that bring me comfort and joy, even if I can’t win this stupid game of solitaire!

ipad toilet

The Big E … The Edible Exotic Erotic Feast

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Man Big O

What does your face look like?

No … not when you look in the mirror.

Anyone can make themselves look presentable to the mirror, and if you’re lucky (*probably doesn’t include me) even handsome or beautiful, when all the stars align and you’ve put an hour of effort into making your countenance shine.

No, right here, right now, I’m talking about in the dead of night (or during Afternoon Delight) when you reach that hot moment of glory … the Hail Mary worked… your game “face” is on …

… you know, the Big O, where the inhibitions and worries fade away and all that remains is the pouty flash-of-glory, the swinging-from-the-chandeliers, the peeling-panties-off-the-ceiling, the fireworks and Northern Lights on full display.

Now it could occur in a tandem encounter (excellent), or perhaps a solo effort (great too) or … hell … if you’re into team sports, could even be in the Orgy Dome at Burning Man in Nevada (this one beats me).

Maybe still, it’ll be the Meg-Ryan-in-the-Deli (hell yeah!) scenario … where you and I wanna have what she’s having.

meg ryan O.jpg

Damn, I got distracted… again!!

*face palm*

The whole purpose of this post is supposed to be about how we eat. The cuddly facial contortions of the eating process. There’s lots to chew on here.

OK, though maybe not as titillating as the Big O … the Big E … truly does fascinate me.

And truthfully, in most cases it’s not a pretty sight (I sadly include myself in this category)

This past week, we were revelling in a delightful buffet and restaurant romp in the tropical heat o’ Mexico.

Mucho mucho demasiado comida.

Spooning (as well as knifing and forking) in the dining room is as entertaining as most other spectator sports.

My poor distracted eyes were in their most hyperactive state.

Gazing around the dining areas, the plethora of styles of masticating food is just too damned hard to ignore.

Through the musical meanderings of the accents from varied regions of the world: German, British, Japanese, French, Polish … yes, Spanish… and lots of Canadians.

There were: speed-eaters; plodders; the bend-over-to-the-plate-eaters; the eat-everything-except-mashed-potatoes-with-your-hands eaters; the mash-everything-together-eaters; the consume-while-you-text-eaters; the non-stop-talk-eaters.

Chewing is engrossing (and sometimes just GROSS) … the jaw-straight-up-and-down-chew, the circular-cow-eating-its-cud chew, the nibble-and-chew-at-the-front-of-the-mouth chew.

There really should be etiquette classes given to each of us as children on how to eat with some delicacy and grace.

Most of the consuming I saw was akin to watching a Grade B horror film… ugly but nearly impossible to look away.

And in fairness, there were a few instances of eating ballet on display… beautiful, delightful folks who obviously enjoyed their food without facial contortions while chewing, no ugly Big E moments, no displaying the contents of the food in their mouths for the world to admire.

Noshing Olympians. Bravissimo!

antelope eating.gif

The worst offence? for me? Pouring wine or beer or even water into your mouth while unchewed food still remains on view. Edentum deformis…

Eating and drinking are 2 separate activities… would you do your tax returns while approaching the Big O? … do not answer… I thought not!

Eat. Swallow. Drink.

Self Description? I’m not sharing my Big O face nowhere no-how … but my Big E face?… I guess I’m a bit of a speed eater… a slight left-to-right-jaw-drift chewer. I’m a gastronomic adventure eater (I like to try lots of different innovative foods… lots of ethnic diversity, guinea pig in Peru, snake wine in China, bull’s testicles in Greece).

When it comes to the Big O, there’s not much I can offer you … mirrors are not useful in these situations (except on the ceiling? whatevah you into)… but there is hope and help when it comes to the Big E.

Why not try watching yourself eat in a mirror sometime?

Try to adopt some classic grazing variations that increase your beauty quotient while eating. A great Big E could lead to a great Big O

Or … watch Halloween 3.

You can choose your fright-faced option!

ugly eating

K-Tel vs Amazon… and the Winner Is?

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Capitol record club

Those were the days my friend…

OK, dammit I’ll admit it… it really gets under my skin when people talk about the “good old days”.

Good old days… Did you mean those good old days of cruel slavery and gruesome world wars and where women were unable to vote or own property?

Hmmmm… are we talking about the REAL “Good Old Days” or “New Age Trump days”?

Good old days was one of my Dad’s favourite expressions and I often hear it today when I’m in the company of the elder generation (notice how I’m carefully avoiding placing myself in this category… you know… VANITY is my name!)

I’ll know I’ve crossed the Rubicon to advanced Seniordom (SeniorDUMB?) when I believe that ALL things in the world were better when I was younger. Canned peas definitely were NOT a positive feature of my childhood dinners.

C’mon, every day is fresh and new and has the wide-eyed capacity to be a good day, or sometimes bad. Let’s face it, there are days of exhausting trial.

There are so many exceptionally positive things about the world of 2018 compared to, say, the world of 1918 (speaking of world wars).

Under the category of not better but different makes me search through my inner hard drive for some stuff that was popular in my young days and is now defunct, non-visible, like, gone… gone… gone.

I cast back in my memory banks wondering whatever happened to Capital Record Company, or K-Tel, or Book-of-the-Month Club.

In my 1960’s and ’70’s early youth, I loved all of those companies.

What a delight I’d feel, almost like a Christmas morn awakening, when I opened a cardboard mailing package containing a monthly LP record by Three Dog Night (“One is the loneliest number….), or peeling the plastic covering off K-Tel’s 40 Greatest Beach Hits of 1969… or a brand new shiny hardcover edition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

three dog night

It felt like the planet had delivered the Science-Fiction model of humanity that Montreal’s Expo 67 promised visitors with its motto, Man and His World.

The Jetson’s maybe wasn’t just a cartoon. Good dog Astro!

Further, whatever happened to daily milk truck delivery or eggs, or potato chip or soda pop or orange juice deliveries, all brought by separate delivery truck?

It was crazy the stuff that could be trundled up my street by some middle-aged family man (or woman, we had an egg lady) in an old delivery truck. We never locked our house so they could deposit their goods inside the door.

These were iconic entities of my youth along with the one-armed Fuller Brush man who’d regularly appear at our door, or the knife-sharpening guy who walked up the road ringing a handbell and dragging a pull cart.

But best of all for us kids, was the Good Humor Truck, more affectionately known as the YUMMY MAN.

Yup, the ice cream truck with its sing-song jingle and its heavy insulated doors that hid the delectable Strawberry Shortcakes and Buried Treasures and Tiger Stripes.

He’d open one of those doors and big wafts of ice-cold clouds poured out while he reached in for our precious jewels of creamy sweetness.

good humor truck.jpg

Over the decades we lost these services as bigger and bigger grocery chains took control over the shopping experience with lower and lower prices and the convenience factor that put most of our daily needs and wants in one spot.

Gone was the need to traipse from the baker to the butcher to the dairy, the megastore had them all.

Truck-to-door delivery service wilted away like autumn frostbitten flowers… but much like clothing fashion that circles back around… the Phoenix has arisen from the ashes and we now have…

… a return to the past with home delivery of millions of products by the likes of Amazon and Best Buy and grocery stores and hundreds of others online.

The good old days we hear about have returned with steroidal gusto…

The crazy busy, the telecommuters and agoraphobics of the world have found a sweet spot where they really never need leave their safe houses.

Want to watch a movie tonight? Easy-peasy, just order from Apple or Netflix. You can lie back in bed, wireless iPad linked in, while the pizza boy delivers your intermission snack right to your comfy bedside.

The world will once again come to you with low prices and free delivery. Eggs and milk and books and music (oh, did someone mention PORN?) are available in a flash and a click.

Soon enough the Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers and Millennials will be looking back in their rearview memory mirrors and reflecting fondly on their good old days just as every generation before has done.

It’s the Circle of Life where everything old becomes new again and the world wakes up from its humble slumber and forges off to work newly dressed in a shiny tech-happy wrapper.

From time to time in my nostalgic moments, I find myself wondering why songwriters and musicians don’t make music of the quality they used to, you know, like in the good old days?

But know what? I’m kidding myself even there. I’ve paused at the edge of the Rubicon, not quite ready to make the crossing.

In my youth there was only one Three Dog Night.

Today, there are dozens, hundreds… thousands of musicians and songwriters as good as or better than Three Dog Night…

Yes, these ARE the good days my friend…

Good-old-days

I’m In The Mood For A Little TeeHee…

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Love to laugh

… I love to laugh …

Remember that little ditty from Mary Poopins?teehee… I mean Poppins

Some people laugh through their noses
Sounding something like this, dreadful
Some people laugh through their teeth goodness sake
Hissing and fizzing like snakes
Not at all attractive to my way of thinking

I love to laugh
Loud and long and clear
I love to laugh
It’s getting worse every year

When was the last time I laughed so hard that I shot a nostrilful of milk across the table?

I’ll bet my Grade 13 lunch mates at Sir Wilfrid Laurier School in Hamilton still remember…

Probably the only thing worse than being vomited on (I g-g-gag just thinking…)…. is having recycled cow squeezings snorted over you in a misty white shower while trying to wolf back an egg salad sandwich that your Mom so lovingly prepared.

Hmmmm…. and I wonder why my old buddies Larry or Renato won’t befriend me on FB…. oh yeah, the milk snort shower.

The world has been a shadowy, humourless place in the last 14 or 15 months with DJT (Da Jaundiced Twerp) running our planetary schoolyard. Maybe Orange(head) truly is the New Black.

Ha ha… AR-15’s. Ha ha… #MeToo marches. Ha ha Nuclear threats.  Ha ha Slow WiFi… where is the laughter?

First world problem

Another great Third world problem…

OMG, a great vacuum has sucked up the milk snorting Teehee’s.

Of course I can’t grouse too much because I can’t tell a joke (at least a funny one) if my life depends on it. My punchlines need some IV-administered Viagra…

Yes, it’s difficult sometimes to unearth a good laugh when living in the current version of the dark ages…. I wonder how many standup comedians traipsed the countryside during the Black Death Plague (courtesy of my old Microbiology lab friend Yersinia pestis) that ravaged Europe for 4 years in the 1300’s? So… do all curses come in 4 year stints?

Could Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey or Rita Rudner have made a livelihood while surrounded by the stench of rotting bodies in the streets? It’s hard to hear the giggles over the corpse crowd, the dead silence …”Smoking will kill you… Bacon will kill you… But smoking bacon will cure it.” Cue laughter.

It’s crucial to find humour in the dingy, dreariest of times. Haven’t most of us laughed through our tears at a funeral or at the bedside of a dying loved one as a way to cope with the inner anguish?

I have to find humour in any place that isn’t a mirror ’cause it’s so damned hard to laugh through the crevasses and white hair that accost me like a time thief when I see THAT reflection. All I can say is, “Thank God my eye colour hasn’t changed.

FUN FUN FUN… today I’ll risk my foolish pride by telling you the longest, best bout of laughter I’ve had in 2018 was at the local movie theatre watching…

Peter Rabbit.

Yup, a kids’ cartoon.

I laughed and snorted the whole way through.

I hope the couple sitting in front of me didn’t mind picking semi-chewed specks of popcorn out of their hair when they arrived home after the flick. Hey, it isn’t milk snort!

Peter Rabbit… a beautifully computer-animated version of the classic Beatrix Potter story with some not-so-classic silly voices of Peter, and his triplet sisters Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail (aka James Corden, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and Elizabeth Debicki).

 

It was clever, and irreverent, often silly but never totally jumped the garden fence into slapstick. It had drama and heartwarming moments, terrific animation, and a gentle love story to complete a great screenplay.

Benjamin Bunny: I’m still so out of shape.

Peter Rabbit: How’s it working with the putting the dressing on the side?

Benjamin Bunny: Good. But, I don’t understand why it’s healthier to drink it all at once.

OK, maybe it was the mood I was in.

Yes, our mood.

I recall gasping in laughter watching Woody Allen’s neurotic-laced Annie Hall the first time through.

On second viewing a few years later, I shook my head, wondering if I was watching the same movie. Where was the incredible humour that had me rolling in the aisle the first time?

Decades back I peed myself through the triad of Monty Python movies (Monty Python and The Holy Grail, The Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life). I can watch them today and come away with contradictory sensations of laughter and absurdity.

Yes, our mood.

Humour isn’t always what is given to us in the moment. Laughter affects our taste buds differently with each serving.

Often, it’s what we bring to the moment in our own mood… where is our tipping point? Today, is our funny bone right at the surface or deeply submerged?

I love it that I can watch CNN in 2018 and shake my head in laughter more often than I frown. Absurdity is such great comedy.

Perhaps the next time I view Peter Rabbit, my mood may be different. I’ll wonder what the hell was so funny.

But today I’m still giggling the same way I did when I was 7 years old and good ole Mary Poppins gave me that first spoonful of sugar laughter….

spoonful

 

 

Stuck In The Middle With You…

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snowy pumpkin.jpg

I’m trying to laugh.

There’s snow and ice on the ground suddenly, just 3 days post Hallowe’en … and the ghouls of early November have laid havoc and challenge across the streets and life paths.

Cosmic jokes.

This morning, I studied a homeless woman crossing at a corner in downtown Penticton, doggedly pushing a shopping cart filled to the gunnels with who knows what.

Like a heavy lawnmower in thick grass, it was a difficult push for the poor lady dressed in an old Salvation Army coat, scarf and gloves. The small wheels on the cart were chattering like frigid teeth over crusted ice.

In a surreal juxtaposition, pea green leaves still clung to the large maple tree overhanging the street.

She may have been young, maybe older. With her head bowed, and layered up against the chill as if attired in a niqab, who knows?

Do I know this woman? – maybe she’s visited the soup kitchen on one of my volunteer days – but with her face totally covered, it’s impossible to say.

I try to envision how she finds respite and comfort somewhere in the gloomy rawness of the grey cloudy day ahead but I’m drawing blanks.

I’m trying to find some humour in her situation.

Isn’t there humour somewhere… somehow… to be found in every situation?

If she dressed like that in mid-summer, I could have a belly laugh at her comfortable eccentricity. Or… if she had a Canada Goose perched on top of her cart watching out as her navigator I could laugh.

Humor-Quote.png

Bill, a man I’ve worked for, and with, for close to 30 years died suddenly this week.

He was a man who could find humour.

He’s dead and I hurt.

I hurt like when I see a wounded animal in agony. It makes my gut knot up and cry out. I hope he felt that his life was worthy… that he had done the best he could.

A rapid, candle-snuffing heart attack stung like an angry wasp as he hung Christmas decorations at home.

The irony (but not humour) I suppose is that he spent his career skillfully slicing into thousands of cold corpses, detecting and probing for clots and other sources of cursed invaders that initiate a final breath.

The thief that stole his last breath was a tenacious clot similar to innumerable ones he’d seen over the decades.

Bill and I weren’t fast, bosom buddies, but we were friends.

When together, we talked easily about our kids’ exploits, our travels, and frustrations with medical bureaucracy.

We laughed a lot and enjoyed each other’s company. Bill’s amiable smile unearthed nuggets of humour in most situations even when he was acting his curmudgeonly best.

Bill was like raconteur Stuart McLean in real life. Bill gifted me smiles.

I’ve attempted to locate some humour in his situation.

But Bill is gone from this world.

Bill is gone from his family’s world.

Bill is gone from my world.

Bill is a ghost now in the minds of those that cared.

So where’s the humour?

If he’d had a heart attack and survived, I could have sighed in relief, then found some laughs in the dietary and lifestyle changes that might have magically transformed this big teddy bear curmudgeon into a vegetarian fitness guru.

I can burst out in laughter at the mere thought of seeing Bill dressed in tight yoga wear.

yoga man

The shopping cart lady and Bill remind me of the “polar opposites” in life.

I don’t like this life deal where some of us live in warm, luxurious comfort while others exist in stiff and frosty discomfort.

I don’t like this life deal where the delight and joy of new birth is mirrored by the shock and pain of unanticipated death.

None of us has the choice of where we begin or…  where we end.

Life is about opposites.

Life is warm and cold.

Life is joyous and tragic.

Life is hello and goodbye.

Or perhaps as Susan Sontag said, “Life is a movie; death is a photograph.

Life is…

… a movie with your beginning, your middle, then your end.

The middle? The sweet middle is all about understanding and choice.

Let’s face it, your beginning is sheer luck and random chance.

Two unrelated amorous people make a carnal choice to build a person that is you. You don’t get a vote! Nope, none…

But there’s a nugget of beauty in this story.

The diamond gem is that you and I have the opportunity to write our own middle, and how the middle shapes the ending.

The “note to self” in the street lady pushing her cart and in Bill’s departure is the reminder to constantly remember that we make the middle, the funny and messy middle, we make the proactive choices every day that shape our world, for better and worse.

Every person’s “middle” is different, but a satisfying ending is written in that middle.

Little by little, I’m still learning. Little by little I’m still growing.

Little by little I’m paying attention and keeping my eyes and ears attuned to the small stuff that all adds up to the the BIG stuff that is life.

I’m trying to laugh today, but honestly, there are small tears tickling the corner of my mouth.

inside out.jpg

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