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Are You a CT?

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CLEVER Type? … to be clever is not an easy achievement.

Clever is not synonymous with being smart – un-unh – it’s nuanced… clever can come from the bowels of the lowliest of troglodytes to the brains of the Masters of the Universe *are you talking about ME?! aw, shucks*

Nope. Not smart. Not really.

OK… I’ll bend a bit and accept that to be clever does take some intelligence.

Maybe, just maybe… cleverness is one of the 12 (originally 9 but expanded over the years) intelligences as described by Howard Gardner in 1983.

1. Logical-mathematical intelligence

2. Linguistic intelligence

3. Spatial intelligence

4. Body-kinesthetic intelligence

5. Musical intelligence

6. Interpersonal intelligence

7. Intrapersonal intelligence

8. Naturalistic intelligence

9. Emotional intelligence

10. Existential intelligence

11. Creative intelligence

12. Collaborative intelligence

… or maybe clever is a handy combination of a group of the 12 intelligences in one neat package… hmmmmm…

To look at something, to express something in a very different way is to be clever.

Clever is really a pseudonym for innovation with ideas, thoughts, words and actions. Kinda like IDEA SEX.

Clever to me is an adroitness with ideas, a facility with finding something we don’t usually see with casual observance.

I took the shell off my racing snail to make him go faster. Now he’s sluggish

I personally think that Dad jokes are clever, but… wrong!… I’m struck down immediately by my kids when I try out my so-called cleverness… I just need another outlet!

People that are clever notice things that others don’t- they find a way out of the box, a facility to take practical and learned knowledge and come to an independent conclusion about something. Clever people break ground.

Oscar Wilde was clever. Charles Dickens and Jane Austen were clever. Monty Python was clever. Jerry Seinfeld, Picasso, Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Curie, Steve Jobs and Joni Mitchell – all clever. I begrudgingly admit that even Donald Trump is clever, just not in a way that I appreciate.

You can be clever and stupid at the same time *see comment about Trump above*.

Clever and stupid?

I admire cleverness. I strive for cleverness because it’s rare.

I aim for cleverness and sometimes when I’m writing a blog post or song lyrics, or crafting a chord combination for a song, I say to myself, “that was clever Larry“. All I’m saying when I mumble this to myself is that I’ve found a way to express a thought, idea, or emotion that excels, that I haven’t consciously seen or heard before. Cleverness= Originality.

When I hear a song or watch a movie that says something that I’ve never heard expressed before, I feel enthused and excited. Originality is tough to find.

The great thing about cleverness in our consumer-oriented society is that it usually doesn’t cost a cent and yet gives us the buzz of internal excitement, a feeling of life being really lived, not just observed.

Being smart is good. You want to be smart. In today’s world, to thrive you should be smart.

But to experience an elevated emotional state takes a different kind of smart, a different kind of intelligence.

So shed your embarrassment over the CT term and rise up and show the world that you are a proud CT… you know, Clever-Type!

Mom Joke!

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

The Great British Tale of Two Oliver’s…

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Please Sir… I want some more…

Welcome friends to Idea Sex week…a dreamy trifecta, a misty ménage à trois, a threesome of cuisine’some…

The British Christmas Armada has invaded my television screen this week as we grow ever closer to the reason-for-the-season.

And while I’d actually prefer to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol (who can resist Gonzo as Charles Dickens the narrator, and his hilarious companion Rizzo the Rat?)…

… in Fozzie Bear’s place, instead, I’ve been watching urchin Oliver Twist doing battle with fat Mr. Bumble, scheming Fagin and evil Bill Sikes …

… I’ve drooled as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver seductively enticed me, like warm-hearted prostitute Nancy, with Yorkshire puddings and bacon-swaddled turkey, and finally…

… I’ve giggled as The Great British Baking Show judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith presided over a festive Christmas baking spectacle with 4 previous contestant bakers.

So…. (and with the greatest of apologies to the principals of this post)

Today, let’s go into our collective imaginations and, like the ephemeral Ghosts of ChristmasesPast, Present, and Yet to Come, listen and watch from above as Jamie Oliver meets Charles Dickens meets The Great British Baking Show….

It’s a culinary Tale of Two Oliver’s as I bring you a cooking challenge of Oliver Twist vs Jamie Oliver… two great British characters separated by almost 200 years and a huge socio-economic divide.

The big question? Will Oliver Twist’s simple but rib-sticking cuisine outmatch the more sophisticated Yuletide fare of the Naked Chef?

The contest is set, so settle in and enjoy the “Christmas Breakfast Showstopper“.

In this match we’ll have young Oliver Twist preparing his famously simple, yet delightful, Yule Gruel, from his Workhouse childhood, running head-to-head against Jamie Oliver as he pulls together a memorable breakfast of Grinchy Green Eggs and Ham.

The nervous contestants fidget at their baking counters as the judges call out in unison…

“You have 15 minutes… BAKE!

Oliver Twist’s YULE GRUEL

This blueprint is based on the ingredients used in the 18th century workhouse where Master Twist was raised upon his mother Agnes’ death during childbirth.

Gruel was one of the main foods provided to the workhouse children.

Oliver gained great notoriety (and disdain) when he humbly begged the master: “Please Sir, I want some more…”

Here’s the recipe that Oliver will be using to prepare his signature dish today:

Ingredients

  • 3 dessert spoonfuls of oatmeal
  • 1 pint of water
  • a little salt
  • …………..

Judge Paul Hollywood saunters to the station where wee Oliver adds and stirs, stirs and adds. “How are making your dish for us today Oliver?”.

Hollywood, hands tightly jammed into pant pockets, grins with his trademark smirk that says: “You have no idea what you’re doing, right?”

Oliver’s tender cheeks blush a bit as he squeaks out a timid explanation:

“First, Sir, mix the oatmeal with a little cold water to make a paste…

Put the rest of the water in a pan

Add the mixture and boil for 10 minutes.

If it looks like dirty washing-up water, you’re doing it right.

Finally, add the salt.”

…………………

And now, the camera slides over to Jamie Oliver, who jumps enthusiastically into his preparations of:

Jamie Oliver’s GRINCHY GREEN EGGS AND HAM

Ingredients

  • 1 small knob of unsalted butter
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 160 g cooked sliced higher-welfare ham
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • Green chili and herb salsa
  • 2 small green chillies
  • a few sprigs of fresh mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, basil, mint, dill, marjoram, chives
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • ½ a lime

…………….

This time, judge Prue Leith stops by the cooktop where Jamie, bent over a mixing bowl filled with a fragrant salsa mixture of herbs, vinegar and oil, takes a tiny sip from a teaspoon to test his blend.

Brilliant!” he calls out to Prue, who smiles brightly and gazes at him through bright pink eyeglasses that perfectly match her lipstick.

“Now to fry up the ham slices and break a couple of fabulous country eggs, cooked to perfection for 3 or 4 minutes… sooooo good for your Christmas morning.”

“We’ll just drizzle a few spoonfuls of this amazing salsa over the eggs and ham… presto… Green Eggs and Ham!”

…………….

“3…2…1… TIME’S UP, step away from your cooktops!

…………….

The chefs-du-jour back away from their dishes, satisfied that they have done their very best. Now it lies in the hands of the judges.

Hollywood and Leith stand next to the judges’ table, brows furrowed as they scan and inspect the steaming dishes placed before them. With these skilled and experienced cooks, there will be no artful dodging when it comes to flavour detection and estimation.

The judges go to their work.

A nibble here, a munch there… Hollywood’s eyes close to allow the senses to absorb and discern the flavours and sensations on the tongue.

He shakes his head, but no one can tell if it’s in enjoyment or disgust.

Prue smacks her lips and quickly declares everything delicious. “The creaminess of the Yule Gruel is spot on, salted perfectly”. “And, the herb salsa has just the right amount of of spicy heat and tartness from the vinegar”.

Prue is mostly kind; everyone knows that Paul Hollywood will make the final cutting decision as to a winner.

Again, the iconic sly grin as he looks back and forth at the faces of the contestants… a hesitant nod up and down of his head before he turns to Jamie Oliver… and extends his right hand in congratulations… the greatest honour he bestows… a winner is declared.

There is joy and sadness in everyone’s eyes, for in victory there also lies defeat. Usually…

… as Jamie Oliver retracts his hand from the celebratory Hollywood handshake… tot Oliver’s eyes grow 3 sizes larger as he sees Hollywood’s meaty hand slowly also extend outwards towards him in congratulations.

Smiles beam in every corner of the land.

And then Hollywood, whom many might describe as a modern-age Scrooge, quietly recites a few final words as today’s dream-scene descends to black:

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

The Borrowed View

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borrowed 3

The borrowed view… the lovely, sexy borrowed view… no, it’s not a morning TV panel of women in heated discussion… or a euphemism for a Peeping Tom.

No, of course not. But close your blinds just to be on the safe side… although my lawyer will be using it for my legal defence after I raise bail and return to social isolation instead of solitary confinement.

No, the borrowed view is a term my wife often uses as she gazes west out our living room window towards lush, sweeping Ambrosia apple orchards and a mammoth volcanic rock edifice in the near-distance called Giant’s Head Mountain…

… neither of which are situated on our “owned” property but that we happily accept as part of our daily vista ie. our borrowed view.

Gh 2

A view from our window of Giant’s Head

Usually, a borrowed view is understood as the Chinese-originated principle of “incorporating background landscape into the composition of a garden” found in traditional East Asian garden design.

You should know by now that I’m into Idea Sex, mixing ideas in a blender to create a new thought.

As we’ve trudged through these troubled days of climbing virus infections, obvious racism and other human rights’ problems, I’ve reflected and Idea Sex’ed on my personal “borrowed view” of a slightly different sort.

It’s a sort of Peeping Tommery, but in a positive light.

Racism and hatred would be lessened across the globe with this version of a borrowed view, or as my Syrian friend says in his newfound English idiom… taking a walk in someone else’s shoes.

Life’s good fortune, and admittedly, some not-too-bad choices of my own, have afforded me opportunities to see the world through others’ eyes… to walk in others’ shoes, to at least a limited degree.

I benefit from the richness of a borrowed view of the people I’ve encountered (and so do you when you think of it).

On the flip side of this, I know I’ve been able to share my “view” with others so that they can see the world a little bit differently from my perspective.

We’ve both been enriched by this borrowed sharing of the walk.

OK, one small example of this.

In 1982, Lionel, a young, black-as-night skinned Guyanese man and his wife and five young kids, lived in a tiny house next door to our rental basement apartment in a picturesque small town called Hantsport, Nova Scotia.

Lionel had migrated to Canada in order to train to become a clergyman. He had a thick accent and a gorgeous smile. And a big bible.

I liked Lionel instantly, and for the next few months we spent some time bonding over (or under) some barbells in the cramped basement area next to our apartment.

He was a man of great religious faith. I sat on the opposite side of the God-fearing fence.  However, Lionel and I both grew as humans (no, not just muscle-wise!) as we sweat-pumped iron and talked about our life experiences and views.

We were both inquisitive and respectful. It was heartwarming to get to know him a little.

My WASP worldview was broadened, altered, and enlightened, just as Lionel astonishingly discovered that a heathen could understand and live the Golden Rule sans a bible in hand.

We were able to pass to each other a “borrowed view”.

Another example? OK, a bit more recent.

Ten years ago, we travelled to Cusco, Peru where we lived for 4 months in the high Andes. We studied Spanish and became lightly immersed in ancient Incan culture, but more importantly, immersed in a lovely family of Incan descendants.

This Quechua family generously took us into their home on occasions, and shared meals and holidays, market shopping trips and local football games, dancing and much-too-much chicha (corn beer). My Spanish conversation skills jump dramatically while quaffing chicha!

They lived a simple, rustic life under precarious conditions where a heavy rainfall might possibly destroy their house (and actually has done so partially in the intervening years).

We could see their smiles and hear their laughter but also understand some of the hardships that life had brought their way.

It was/is a difficult existence that they bear with grace and love, and they unselfishly shared it all with us giving us a beautiful borrowed view. We remain friends to this day.

These days, my borrowed view comes through the eyes of a young Syrian man that I tutor each week (online currently). We study and work hard together but also laugh deeply and share a trust and affection. I have the privilege of understanding the world a tiny bit better through the lens of his Muslim perspective.

The more borrowed views I take in, the more I understand the one-ness of our planet. It’s never good to think of the world as US against THEM… it’s US with THEM.

The search for common ground and compassion is much simpler when we experience through our own individual encounters and not the media or the internet.

Hatred is so much easier when it’s held and seen at a distance.

These are the things that remind me that we all live with boundaries and borders just as I have a property boundary here in Summerland.

But life is much richer for us all when we search out and embrace the “borrowed view”.

Just remember, the borrowed view is best applied looking OUT your window and not INTO someone else’s.

DSC_0421

One of my favourite borrowed views… WALL STREET! Booyah!

 

 

 

 

The Blessing And The Curse … COVID-19 Version

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blessings-curses

Quick… TRIVIA Quiz…

What are the names of the 7 von Trapp family children in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC? (Don’t cheat… answers may be found at the end of this post).

The Sound of Music (or to be really silly in these dark COVID times… it might be renamed The Sound of Mucous) has been a recurring theme in this house for the past few weeks. If you’ve never heard of or never *NOOOOO* seen the movie, this might be a good time for you to sign out of this post… just sayin’…

Since the oncoming rushing train we’ve labelled COVID-19 was introduced to us in the last couple of months, the entire world has had this sci-fi common experience of physical isolation, but definitely NOT social isolation.

This isn’t your great grandparents’ version of the Spanish Flu… *drum roll* … introducing the INTERNET! Have you heard of it?

The planet has adapted in many many ways to keeping our hands and expelled body fluids away from each other.

The friendly exchange of our body’s bacterial and viral biome with others has been our way of communicating, connecting and bonding with our family, friends and acquaintances for millennia.

Shake my hand, hug me, cheek buss, bum pat (SLAP… OK, this one is long out of bounds!)…

STOP! Do Not Touch! Anyone! Anything!

It’s tough and it can be slightly embarrassing or uncomfortable. It’s just plain weird to turn a lifetimes’ social learning and flip it on its head.

Which brings me back to The Sound of Music.

Early on in this isolation period, our family began a weekly Zoom get-together on Monday nights to have a Pub Trivia Night in Canada.

It’s a weekly chance to remind me why I didn’t get selected to join the Jeopardy TV family despite challenging the “Contestant Test”.

Physical isolation YES… Social Isolation NO…

In week one of our Zoom sessions, we posited the final BONUS question to our physically-distanced kids and partners: What are the names of the 7 Von Trapp family children in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC?

Despite some close attempts, no one quite accomplished the task successfully.

Then, once again, in week 4 of the family Zoom nights, our daughter posed the same question. And again, no one quite jumped over the high bar.

Furthering this Sound of Music theme that has been stuck in my little head… I finished up my online tutoring session with my Syrian friend this week by asking him to listen to a YouTube version of Julie Andrews and the 7 von Trapp children singing… My Favourite Things.

His homework quest was to listen to the spirited song and then write down all of the favourite things that Julie (ie Maria) and the children list in song. The good news is that he managed fine although he found Julie Andrews British accent a bit “dawwwnting”.

 

Our favourite things have changed now that COVID-19 has taken and taken.

We all have a sense of what we’ve given up during this enforced “Lent-of-Sorts”. There are myriads of sadnesses and laments over what and who has been lost.

My mind wanders this way and that… I was watching a TV documentary about country singer Garth Brooks last week. He calmly stared into the camera, slowly flipping his hands back and forth, and said, “Everything you want has a blessing and a curse…”

… and this led me to the Idea Sex concept of this week’s blog… to combine COVID-19 and My Favourite Things  (the curse and the blessing)…  granted, an odd combination… but folks… you’re dealing with an odd mind here… so….

… here goes…

These Are A Few of My 8 Favourite Things

COVID-19 Version

1. This one is easy … and clever too. The Coronavirus version of DO-RE-MI

 

2. Music. The needed push for me to quit procrastinating and spend some time not only playing and practising guitar (this is easy), but also the time to sweat through songwriting sessions (this is NOT easy!). Developing unique and interesting melodies is akin to running the half marathon for me… intense and exhausting but ultimately exhilarating. Does this sound more like a happy ending than a songwriting session?

3. Garden. Setting up a new low-water use irrigation system for the garden. The old 1990’s underground sprinklers are fabulous for soaking huge areas in huge quantities in water… but this is so 20th century thinking. Drippers and micro-sprayers use a fraction of the water and accomplish the goal of keeping everything lush, colourful and beautiful, just like my own peacock’s feathers (right, in your head Larry!)

4. Exercise. Re-discovering my self-motivation exercise gene. For many years, I’ve relied on spin classes, boot camp classes, yoga classes, organized runs etc, to get me out the door and sweating. Now I wake up (and it’s almost light now at 5 am!) and begin my own motivational self-talk session that eventually results in a salty sweat-stained set of shorts and T-shirt. Then I get out of bed. My beer and bread belly has only increased – you can’t see me, right? – marginally!

5. Cooking. Working harder and with more enthusiasm to broaden my ethnic cooking horizon. For many years, I’ve routinely alternated the style of cuisine I prepare… Indian, Italian, German, Moroccan, Thai, Peruvian, North American, and so on, you get it. My quest now is to expand on these ethnic directions by adding new dishes into the mix. Wanna try my Pad Thai Pizza, Prime Rib Ceviche, or Schnitzel Tajine?

6. Vegging. Yes, oodles of time where there are multitudes of streaming shows that entice and seduce like creamy smooth chocolate. My favourite indulgence recently is the Netflix mini-series UNORTHODOX… or is it Gossip Girl? shhhhh… Recent credible research suggests that binge-watching produces a surge of IgG and IgM antibodies biologically active against… absolutely nothing.

7. Soul Searching. Having an intense internal conversation with my inner voices and demons where I play Trevor Noah or Jimmy Kimmel to myself. I earnestly ask myself all the questions I’ve always wanted answered: Why does Mom love my brother more? If I’m so GD handsome, how come no one ever asked me to pose for Playgirl magazine? Should I sue Keith Urban for plagiarizing my voice?

8. Toes. Yes, rediscovering long distant body parts is great fun and refreshes me on things like simple arithmetic (how many are there again?) and also … just what have my piggies been doing all these years since childhood? And why is my toe jam more like toe peanut butter? So many intriguing questions… so much time.

Thank you COVID-19. And finally …

*The von Trapp childrens’ names?

  • Liesl
  • Friedrich
  • Louisa
  • Kurt
  • Brigitta
  • Marta
  • Gretl

beefcake fav things

HOT? Maybe… but Definitely NOT on MY list!

 

 

 

Are YOU Kidding ME?

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Coronavirus Lego (1)

Where are you going?

Right… NOWHERE. I can predict that with almost 100% certainty. It’s like I live inside a Magic 8 ball.

But you know why. I don’t have to spell it out.

I’ve got you where I want you *bwahhhh-ha-haaaaa* and now I have to decide what I’m going to do with you.

It’s cruel and it’s powerful and it’s a rare moment in the universe’s history, so far as we know.

I know that you’re likely stressed in some way, so I’d like to relieve your angst a wee tiny bit this week cuz that’s just the kind of nice guy I am. I want you to like me, even if I am a jerk.

Today I’m coming at you with some ideas on how to take your mind off the pretend/reality TV world that over a couple of weeks has transformed into a real/REALITY WORLD… aka…

SURVIVOR- Coronavirus Island

Now you may not consider all of my ideas as fun… after all, fun is in the eye of the beholder – we don’t all love the same music or movies – so skip past the ones that make you nauseous, groan or cringe and move on.

Some are IDEA SEX and some are… *wink* SEXY IDEAS. Either way, surely, we can find one or two things to make you smile through the tension.

So… here are 10 things to do to lift your socially-isolated day out of the doldrums:

 

1. Channel your inner pervert and wear your partner/friend’s: underwear, bra (most noses are adequately protected by a B cup), or sanitary pad as a face mask to the grocery store… if that doesn’t catch anyone’s eye, try practising your moonwalk in the middle of the natural food aisle, plus maintaining 2 metres distance from everyone whilst dancing backwards.

lettuce mask

This works too!

2. Send out this woefully soulful note to your family:

Gal Gadot (or Chris Hemsworth or…) and I were set to have our beautiful wedding this April. However, due to the coronavirus, we will be postponing the celebration of our love. We’re heartbroken. My apologies to our friends and loved ones. Do not ask Gal about this she’s busy…

3. Do like Benny and Joon and make grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron on your ironing board. Young Johnny Depp at his finest…

 

4. Draw a spider on the toilet paper roll.

5. Make up a new national holiday (eg. National Cherry Cheesecake Day, World Naked-At-Your-Front-Window Day). Write to all your contacts and ask them to celebrate the special day on their social media platforms. See if your new holiday goes “viral”.

6. Out of TP due to shortages? Buy a package of paper towels and slice them in half with a sharp knife. For more extreme fun, hang out a few reams of damp toilet paper on your outdoor laundry line for your neighbours enjoyment.

7. Make up new recipes for the times: think… Emergen-C banana breakfast bread, Cinnamon-buns with 15% toilet paper-infused cream cheese icing (a treat at both ends of the eating experience).

8. Do your best erotically seductive dance in front of the pharmacy counter to get first shot at the new shipment of sanitizer.

9. Take an online class such as : 1. Get Stuffed: How To Taxidermy Your Problematic Family Members 2. Tantalizing Toilet Paper Origami Projects 3. Make Your Own Porno Netflix Special – Scintillating Solo Sex For Singles 4. Fabulous Blender Cocktail Recipes Made From Sanitizer.

10. Send an e-mail to all your friends and relatives and give them a silly nickname. The more outrageous the nickname, the better. The more ludicrous it is the better. See if they remain your friend after this lock-up period.

BONUS: 11. Couch Scavenger Hunt – the best way to find all those matching socks (or… used condoms and pizza crusts) you’ve lost and a great way to recover some of your lost virus income in nickels and dimes.

And finally… get out the kleenex (if you have any left)… a little soft nostalgia below to help you through these difficult times…

Toilet paper (3)

 

 

 

Your Creative Refresher Bomb

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man pulling hair

AAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY… my head’s exploding…

All of the new streaming services that sail content into our homes – yes, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Netflix, Crave, Apple TV, Hulu, YouTube, et al… the list is growing like a nuclear mushroom cloud – are calling for more and more creative thought and projects: TV shows, music, movies, computer games, books.

I’m getting exhausted at the mere thought. I should lay down.

And it reminds me that I’ve run out of ideas. For blog posts. For writing music.

WAIT … that’s WRONG! Of course, we’re never out of ideas. NEVER

The joy and fun of creativity is a tough master to keep fed. The blazing brainchild fire needs a steady supply of dry wood. It’s like a mental climb up Everest. But did I mention?

It is fun.

And it runs in cycles, like your blood sugars after a superbly gooey cinnamon bun (OMG, you should try the ones I greedily gobble at GROUNDS FOR COFFEE in Vancouver)…. whoa… up she goes, and then… *screaming*… the rollercoaster plummets.

cinnamon-buns grounds for coffee.jpg

The job for myself and any of you who thrive on the act of creating – something, anything – is maintaining a sense of balance on life’s beam and understanding the cycles that can leave you with a big bipolar headache.

Please don’t ever believe that creativity will wholly happen consistently because you’ve been magically blessed with some supercharged gene from your Cave-person forebears.

Remember the old Dick Van Dyke Show where Rob and Buddy and Rosemarie sat around in an office all day/every day throwing around comedy ideas for the Alan Brady show?

What? You don’t remember? Sorry, this is OK Boomer talk!

They sweat their idea machinery for hours day in and day out.

Most minds are not instantaneously creative… which is why the 1% who are truly and consistently creative (I lag in the pack well below the 1% group, but I score the participation prize), the ones who are more than “one-hit wonders”, just so happen to be the most sticktoitive kind of folks.

New idea sex, that seductive synonym for creative purpose, can at times flow easily, like the fabulous ideas that float into your head while dreaming (I love these).

… but, my friend … and this is THE important point of my post this morning.. the BOMB if you will … and the thing that took me decades to learn myself … sadly, most good stuff comes because you and I MAKE IT HAPPEN.

creative bomb

We sit and think, sometimes for minutes, but more likely hours and days… we cogitate ideas back and forth like an intense tennis match, keeping the ball aloft and moving, making a few good lobs and passing shots, and then finally… finally… a kill shot materializes.

It’s a process that evolves the 10,000 hour rule into the 10,000 ideas stratosphere.

……………..

Creativity is only good if you do it.

Thinking about being creative isn’t enough. You know all about good intentions.

Intentions and positive thinking are the start line, not the glorious arms-raised finish.

Creativity is invisible work until you decide that your child can be released, sent to school, and shared with the rest of the world.

Sure it can be a bit scary. I know for myself that sharing my songwriting lyrics on this blog site is sometimes exposing my inner being, my self worth – both the good and bad – to anyone and everyone. Risk is part of the creative process.

Certainly we can enjoy the fruits (and popcorn) of creative labour of all those in the media industry and consume consume consume.

But I believe that the greater joy of this and every season is when you produce something that you’ve poured yourself into with an element of your unique inner brilliance and passion.

It’s the gift that you give to yourself and others. Something that has released a part of your creative fire and spirit.

Now, let’s celebrate with a fabulous cinnamon bun!

creative fire

The Sunshine in Artistic Endeavour

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Sunshine lollipops.jpg

Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows… do you thrive on sunshine and luxuriously lengthy days like me?

Know what? I’m really missing them. I do every year at this time.

I’m addicted to bright, long sunlit days as thoroughly as I’m addicted to smooth milk chocolate and cheesecake. It’s all soothingly warm yumminess inside.

But at this time of year the sweet chocolate is frozen solid and hard to bite; I realize that those chocolate warming rays must come from a different star when the days are so damned short.

Over time, I’ve figured out that the sun radiates in my world when I participate in a kaleidoscope of new and old experiences, a clutter of things.

Just this week, I’ve had lots of sensory input to excite my eyes and ears and tastebuds and make me partly forget about the hulking, smothering darkness.

Sitting here in the early morning 50 shades of grey, I hear an occasional Canada goose honking in the distance over Okanagan Lake. I’m pondering how all this input ties together in some sort of seamless fabric, even though on the surface, it appears tattered and fragmented… like thin sheets of fragile ice on the small puddles perched at the end of my driveway.

So, here’s a sampling of my week’s inputs:

  1. Musical harmony practice with guitar and voice. We’re working on pieces like this and this.
  2. Volunteering at the soup kitchen with a crazily productive chef and a large crowd of chilled and hungry lunchers.
  3. A night of salty popcorn munching at the theatre while absorbing Charles Dickens’ world in the flick, “The Man Who Invented Christmas“.
  4. A college inservice for volunteer tutors like myself, all about knowing and understanding the “Highly Sensitive Person” (HSP).
  5. A saintly church visit for Christmas Musaic choral harmony for my heathen ears.

Shake it all up and whaddya got? Hmmmm….

Are there gossamer webs and connections in the things that we do and interest us at our core?

As a person trying to be curious and understanding of the relationships between seemingly unrelated events i.e. Idea Sex… I’m sitting back, looking for commonalities in these occasions, a lovely ribbon that ties and makes some sense on a scale of creative output.

Using that concept of Idea Sex, I’m seeking glimmers of order in the chaos.

Music… volunteerism… cinema… learning and new insights… more music.

Yes, it’s a random muddle but the mere fact that I’m writing about it here I think shows some blend of creative thinking, where I jostle and mingle ideas looking for connections.

For instance, suppose I’m wanting to connect “music to learning and new insights“, or “volunteerism to cinema“. Rather than asking how they can be connected, I picture both of them in my mind and ask, “How am I feeling, seeing them together?

“Does playing and listening to music build my childlike enthusiasm for general learning and growth and vice versa?”

“Are there moments when I’m volunteering that make a dramatic or comedic impact within me like a well-crafted movie?”

OK, maybe there isn’t a correlation here at all.

I could, and usually do, arrive at a minimalistic solution to this question that contains the least baggage and explains the most (otherwise known as, and I love this term… Occam’s razor). 

Occam’s razor would likely come up with a simple trashy response like, “it’s a random jumble much like Billy’s walk across the yard in The Family Circus.”

Family Circus.gif

Really, it makes sense.

Some thoughts and ideas belong in the shitty cesspool. Do you think the correlation graph below is a keeper?

spelling bee chart

 

Maybe not, but some correlation is important.

It really comes down to the creative process. Writers, musicians, and artistic sorts of all types need to find fresh approaches to their craft, uncovering metaphors that smell like fresh bread arising in the heat of the oven, drawing the consumer of their art to the alluring scent.

Idea Sex or finding connections isn’t easy. It’s friggin‘ hard.

Art, like life, is hard.

Done with an attitude of enthusiasm and gusto, art, of any sort, like life, can be deliciously pleasurable.

In my seething brain I’m seeking beauty and sunshine in the darkest days of December because the sun adamantly refuses to give it to me directly.

I have to make my own brightness through writing and music and cinema and volunteering.

Occam’s razor had it right. That’s a simple correlation.

Sunshine… on my shoulders … makes me happy….

Sunshine 2

8 Ways to An Inspired Life

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creativity ocean.jpg

We live in a vast swollen ocean of inspiration and creativity.

A sea that, at times, is ugly, frustrating, even tempestuous, but also tranquil and stunningly beguiling at others.

The choice is ours alone… to swim in its liquid warmth, tickled and massaged by rainbow-striped fish swirling around and beneath us… or to remain in the colourless dry “safety” of the boat absent from its beneath-the-surface ethereal wonders.

I was reading an article the other day of an interview with singer/songwriter James Taylor where he said something like: “I never thought of myself as a songwriter, but then I sat down and wrote, and wrote, and over time I discovered that I really could be a songwriter.”

That’s kind of a capsule summary of my thoughts and approach to creativity.

woody allen success

We become something by believing, trusting that we can do, and then, at last, by doing.

By “showing up”.

Every time I:

  • pick up a book
  • sit in a movie theatre
  • listen to a song I love
  • ponder a beautiful painting
  • cheer an athlete cross the finish line
  • spy an airplane passing overhead…

… I’m inspired.

How can I not be?

These are all amazing diamond-dusted creations of an individual person or persons.

They weren’t formed through some supernatural magic (although in some back eddy of my mind I can almost believe they were).

They were all folded and formed and thrust like a volcano from the depths of the sea by the actions and fortitude and dogged determination of the human mind and physical effort.

When I awake in the morning, it’s like I’ve arisen in a stolid prairie field with a wide swath of openness, virgin soil, before me.

My first breaths allow me to decide… to choose… if I’ll leave the broad expanse before me fallow, untended, bereft of new life and growth…

or…

… do I absorb a deep breath of clean, fresh open-sky air and purposefully decide to plant and nurture a pasture filled with verdant growth and beauty, replete with colour and texture and expression.

Sure it involves work, but the rewards are life enhancing.

prairie 2.jpg

In order to fulfill my desire to be inspired, here are 8 rules, the work-to-reward system I follow:

  1. Proactive and decisive – there’s just no way to grow creative flowers without plowing the field and planting the seeds. Do something. Start small but do something. Decide today. Write a paragraph, sew a seam, run a block. It’s one foot in front of the other, over and over.
  2. Fail quickly and gloriously – as I grow older, my “who cares” voice has gained ground, and so failure, a word that once was anathema in my life, has become a calling card to likely success. Failure is rarely “fun”, but it’s a necessary evil to pass through to building a creative life. Failure takes courage.
  3. Laziness – procrastination (I can hear Carly Simon singing right now… PROCRASTIN-AY-AY-TION) is one of my bigly’est sins. The mental and physical effort we need to make ourselves creative takes considerable prodding and spent “calories”. Couch potatoes need not apply.
  4. Focus intently – this is another weak zone for me. I start in and before 10 minutes have melted away in writing a blog post, practicing guitar, preparing a lavish birthday cake… my mind begins a bastardly wander that needs electric fencing to keep under control… if only I had a little sheep-pig named Babe to keep my bemused head “contained”.
  5. Stay actively healthy – whatever paths we follow, the bearing we choose to pursue… we need a healthy physical presence to realize a worthwhile ending. Hemingway undoubtably spent much too much time drinking and smoking, but I’ve seen the desk at his Finca Vigia in Cuba where he wrote For Whom The Bell Tolls... no chair for sitting, it stands upright high where he would stand for countless hours typing his words. Sitting is the new smoking – Hemingway was ironically ahead of his time.
  6. Be willing to adapt – a common theme I’ve observed as I, and those around me age, is that the “mature” mind slowly evolves toward a gelling process that freezes opinion and one’s attitude and approach to life. Old Codger… Old Coot… are often accurate descriptions of a senior mind that has become set and unwilling or unable to bend and adapt. A local senior newspaper columnist remains stuck on the notion that everything is terribly wrong in today’s world, and terrifically right back in his youth.
  7. Pay attention to the world with an open mind – creativity is a sun-kissed virtue that relies on a free and open set of eyes and ears, unlocked to the shadowed nuance of our daily existence. An inquisitive, curious mind bursts opens like a morning glory flower to the subtlety of the breezes, the scents, the minute visions of what is meant and felt, and not merely said. Absorb the texture of a toddler’s gentle fingers, the shadow cast by a streetlight across a moonlit lawn.
  8. Embrace Idea Sex – well, surprise surprise… I’d say embrace sex of ANY kind, but from the viewing stand that overlooks the lyrical valley of inspiration, a swirling and blending of idea juices is what inevitably produces the sweetest fruit on the tree of our lives. Creativity thrives on combinations of thought balloons, ideas, notions, perspectives. The iPhone, as one small but world-altering example, employs a big seductive pile of idea sex where a bunch of technology snowflakes are rolled together to make a huge avalanche of a snowball.

apps

Ho hum you might say.

You may be thinking that a whole lot of what I’ve said above is pretty cliche’ish.

Right. I get it.

Gorgeous scarlet-flamed sunsets are cliche’ish too.

And yet, you and I, repeatedly over our years, gather ourselves on a quiet bench, listening to hushed waves lap at the sandy ocean front as the drowsy sun kisses the ocean goodnight.

Cliches are easy truths… that’s why they’ve become cliches.

Inspiration is the hardest easy truth.

once upon a time

Winter Games and Alzheimer’s Sex

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Lucy-chocolate-factory

I’ve heard you asking…“Larry, why aren’t you writing about Idea Sex anymore?

Well …. I’ve listened and so … here’s another blog post about IDEA SEX! You’re welcome…

Today I’m mating my Teenage Virginity with BC Winter Games with Alzheimer’s Sex … you’ll understand in a minute.

Last week, we volunteered to make a few sandwiches and lunches for aspiring young athletes from across and up and down the province of British Columbia. Right, just a few.

Maybe … let’s see … 5,000,000 sandwiches constructed from 10,000,000 slabs of whole-wheat bread layered with sliced ham or beef, plastic-wrapped (OK… it was 5,000 sandwiches! But it felt like 5 million) … then pitched into brown paper bags to cuddle with a banana, an English Bay chocolate chip cookie, Kellogg’s granola bar, SunRype juice box, and a packet of mustard.

Truthfully, the lunches were extremely boring … which errant sock drawer did the organizers’ creativity gene get lost in?  Lunch of champions? Perhaps not.

The work itself was reminiscent of watching TV’s Laverne and Shirley on the beer-making assembly line, or Lucille Ball standing by the conveyor belt as chocolates raced past her. Fun, but a touch mind-numbing too.

sandwich assembly line

A lot of random musings roll through your head – like fluffy clouds drifting lazily across an azure sky – when you’re on an assembly line.

But mainly? SEX.

Things like, how –as a guy –  you spent your entire teenage years dreaming and wondering what it would be like to lose your virginity. Scrumptious virginity-plundering sex with a satin-skinned, sweet, floral-scented honey.

Carnal fantasizing yet feeling the pure undefiled terror of not knowing what to do, how to do, where to do … oh the numbness and freedom of the assembly line.

After fabricating the daily athlete energy packs, we’d wander about to the various sports sites and observe the up-and-coming potential Olympians.

There were moments of breathtaking inspiration watching a sleek speedskater zoom ahead of the pack like he was wearing a jet pack, pulling away from the other skaters as if they had parachutes dragging from behind.

Or the tiny little fella, maybe 11 or 12 years old with figure skates holding his feet to the ice … watching as this minuscule dynamo, solitary on the expansive ice surface, floated upwards, spinning round and round, almost taking off into orbit, before finally, slow-motion returning to the icy earth with balletic grace and an excited grin of satisfaction.

Speed-Skating.jpg

But while I watched on, I found myself becoming more interested in the anxious parents gazing over their young charges.

I scanned the faces of the young parents emoting their own hopes and aspirations, replaying the life they had lived or wished they had lived.

Dreams enjoyed, dreams quashed.

The drama and grace of their child’s activity played out on the drawing board of their faces.

Then the memories began resurfacing.

I began re-living the inner atmosphere of fear, of pride, of the emotion and pleasure, the soul-searing heartbreak and joy of raising these creatures from a precious pairing of two individual gametes to this remarkable moment.

Because 10, 15, 20 years ago? That was me.  Sitting … cheering … jumping up yelling out a hurray … lowering my head into my hands in frustration.

Snapping back to the present, the milieu was like an out-of-body experience. I was a heavenly angel calmly observing the whole scenario detached from above.

Harry Chapin sang about this still-life moment in All My Life’s a Circle, the rising of the sun each morning, the day’s commute to and from school or work, the birthday and Christmas celebrations.

This circle of life where – as my adult son and I discussed only yesterday –  one day we’re listening impatiently to our father’s unwanted words of advice or reprimand, then, in what feels like a few short breaths later, hear ourselves repeating those same words to our own offspring.

It was a shock the first time I heard my father’s voice coming from my mouth.

And it occurred to me while watching this sports’ stuff, you know, the kids, the coaches, the parents, it was great fun at the time but like Alzheimer’s sex, as much fun and as enjoyable as it is, you forget about it.

The beauty, the excitement, and the delicious passion of the moment drifts further and further back in dusty eddies and recesses in your mind.

Eventually, barely realizing the loss, it becomes a mirage beyond sight, almost as if it never happened …

… until …

… you go to the Winter Games and the electrified feeling of being a sport’s parent returns.

You get to enjoy the present moment and the excitement and enthusiasm while simultaneously feeling an inner joy at the passionate memory of similar moments in your life.

I admit that I fear and maybe even shrink from the notion of growing older. I relish and prefer the sunny days when my thoughts revolved around the loss of my teenage virginity more than I look forward to twilight Alzheimer’s Sex.

I can’t turn back the clock or slow the aging process in any meaningful way, but I can capture moments of grace and beauty surrounding me today and enjoy the warmly satisfying reconnection to earlier days.

For me, it’s like concocting a fancy new cocktail in my bartender job … Idea Sex is another way of marrying our present adventures with our past.

ALZHEIMER

 

 

 

 

 

 

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