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CORONA-CHRONICLES… The Cup Half-Full Edition

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Good-News-Bad-News

A virus means bad news and perhaps… good news (that is cup half-full shit, I can hear you saying!)

First the bad.

I’m missing my popcorn fix. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

In “ordinary” times we routinely hit the movie theatre an average of about twice each month. Sometimes more if there’s a plethora of quality releases and maybe a bit less when all that’s out there is Sausage Party or Bill and Ted Anything.

I do honestly love popcorn… assuming that the butter:salt ratio is perfect. My Pavlovian response is classic science. I sit in a darkened theatre and get my doggie treat of popcorn just for sitting and watching for 2 hours. It’s perfect.

A picture show… I love absorbing the artistic product of others.

I live in a state of near-constant wonderment at the creativity and skills of a million creators.

I’m also in awe of the mathematics and science creators (researchers and academics),  but unfortunately I can’t as obviously see and experience the products of their tireless efforts. Alright, maybe I CAN every time I sit at a computer or look at my cellphone…

… but, they haven’t found a way of stuffing me with hot buttery popcorn when I view their stuff. What’s with THAT, bright minds? (Does that statement make you think of Lucy and Schroeder, Beethoven and bubblegum cards? At all?)

lucy and schroeder

So there, the bad news is out of the way. Almost…

Yes, more bad news: The obvious… D’OH… Millions will suffer and thousands will die from this black swan novel virus.

It’s not just numbers on a TV screen. It’s real people with real lives and real families. The repercussions will be felt for decades to come. Guess that FAKE NEWS didn’t make it to the White House TV screens.

You’ve suffered enough. Now the good news:

The good news about this virus is that movie theatres will re-open one day and popcorn will pour forth like summer Saskatchewan locusts… OK… not fair there  *slap my typing hands* … how about British Columbia forest fires? That’s better…

Even more good news:

There will be a golden age of scientific innovation in areas we can only dream of, as zillions of dollars and focus drill in on not only virus research but countless other areas and idea spin-offs (yes, Idea Sex).

Wars and moonshots have historically shown us the results of enthusiastic and dedicated research, and a global effort to rocket us forward in good, and sadly sometimes, some not so good ways.

A few little examples of research bonuses: cordless tools, artificial limbs, LED’s, CAT scanners, superglue, radar, GPS, duct tape, epi-pens, penicillin…

I can’t begin to fathom the possibilities that will flow from today’s “let’s science the shit out of this” era of COVID-19… Matt Damon called it correctly in the movie The Martian…

… but I can confidently predict there will be humanity-altering discoveries not just for this particular virus but perhaps for the question of the common cold or a dozen or more other medical mysteries and problems.

There will also be unexpected and surprising innovations unrelated to the cure for a virus. Research has a way of running madly and wildly (and productively) off in many directions. This is usually a good thing. Climate change anyone?

Sadly, there may be some unwanted discoveries that create their own set of future problems. Weaponry of all sorts has progressed negatively in times of global stress before and I anticipate it may once more.

Yes, bad news and good news.

Yin and Yang. Black and white. Push and pull… within Yin lies the seed of Yang and vise versa.

And I can even return to one of my earlier blogs where I quoted the famous country music philosopher Garth Brooks. Brooks meditates on the nature of opposing forces when he describes fame and other aspects of life as, “a blessing and a curse”.

These days of virus awakening will jet-charge those natural opposing forces creating both a blessing and a curse in its wake.

As a cup half-full kind of guy (most days)… I’m counting on the blessings coming out on top.

Strap yourself in, maybe grab a bag of popcorn, because another famous philosopher of our times with the name Dylan said:

Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

dylan

EXTRA EXTRA! Get Yer Antiquated Newspaper

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YE Olde Newspaper.

I delivered newspapers for about 10 years as a kid.

Monday to Saturday. Rain. Wind. Snow. Oh yeah… snow!

All my siblings delivered newspapers too. It was in our DNA.

I was a GREAT paper boy. It took years to wash the newsprint ink off my arms afterwards.

I won trips to Detroit and Montreal and Ottawa for being a GREAT paperboy (my brother won a trip to California, he was the GREATEST!)

larry-spec-carrier-tiff.jpg

I read newspapers avidly for about 50 years.

I was a GREAT newspaper reader, maybe the GREATEST.

I subscribed to 2 or 3 dailies, a financial weekly, and also to a bunch of magazines of different flavours.

Nowadays…. nowadays… I barely scan a newspaper. Not one made from actual paper at least.

I subscribe to ONE physical newspaper… Penticton Herald – and ONE paper-full magazine… Acoustic Guitar… no Macleans, no TIME, no National Geographic (African Lady porn, we all know), no Nose-Pickers’ Weekly.

So. Have I changed or have newspapers changed?

Both answers are incorrect… wrong you might say.

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED.

And of course, it’s not just newspapers. They’re merely one example of a huge picture.

Used to be that jugglers were special and rare. Jugglers schmugglers…

We turned on Ed Sullivan (who?) on Sunday night to watch somebody throw 2, then 3 balls, and if they were really good… 4 balls… in the air without dropping any.

We were GOBSMACKED at their ability and talent.

Today, unlike 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, we don’t watch Ed Sullivan (he doesn’t look so good now anyways).

Today, WE ARE THE JUGGLERS. (OK, sometimes we do still watch other jugglers… Cirque du Soleil jugglers manage 50 or 1,000,000 objects simultaneously. Ridiculous)

cirque juggler 2

We all have dozens of metaphorical balls in the air and the internet is the wind beneath our wings that helps us keep this all afloat.

We multitask in 6 different directions and the ease of internet access facilitates our distractability. How many windows are open on your phone or desktop right this second?

Paper news takes time and money out of our lives, our pockets.

At essentially no cost, we can monitor news up to the millisecond from 1,000 sources… most terribly disreputable, but still many that have quality journalists and writers on staff, despite what that Fake News hawker south of the Canuck border whimpers and cries about daily.

Right now as I write this I can call up news items from 1 minute ago from any corner of the world without moving anything other than my arm and fingers. Amazing, huh?

Is it any wonder that our western population as a whole is in adipose collection mode? (In 1978, about 14 per cent of Canadian adults qualified as obese. That number climbed to 28 per cent in 2014- Public Health Agency of Canada)… but I get distracted, another side attraction/horror to the internet.

computer obesity

Physical newspapers don’t carry news anymore – they bring us history.

Each day, a newspaper recounts to us all the things that we already know happened because we read it on our internet feed the day before. Right before we closed our eyes and began snoring!

Truly, The New York Times or Globe and Mail aren’t “newspapers” in 2019.

These are news “sources” that we tap into at any moment of the day or night to discover As The World Turns, both in our personal world (Facebook, Instagram etc) and the larger world.

If there is a newspaper delivered to my house in 10 years, I’ll s**t myself  be shocked out of my solar-powered underwear and AI brainscan-monitored mind.

Reflection.

We will all spend more and more of our coming years reflecting nostalgically on the way things once were. Yes Virginia, it’s inevitable and understandable.

The changes we encounter are/will wash over us at a tsunami pace that thrills and terrifies us simultaneously.

EXTRA! EXTRA!… remember, you read it here first … in the MAN ON THE FRINGE internet news!

NO Fake News here…

Old news 1950

 

 

 

Boney M Must Die …

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Boney M

I’m such a fascist.

I know it’s the season of goodwill and peace but all I want to do is smash and burn Boney M Christmas music CD’s.

Christmas. The splendour and fears, the joys and heartbreak mix together like a multi-hued fruit cake … loved to the heavens by some, loathed to the devil’s armchair by others. Strong, strong gut-felt sensations from heart to head to toe.

Smells of pine or fir needles waft softly through the warm rooms of our hearts and homes, scents of gingerbread and vanilla and shortbread, voices of grandparents, Mommies and Daddies, the thp thp thp of excited pyjama-clad feet over wooden floors.

Laughter at turkey-festooned tables, where long simmering bitternesses are subsumed by best behaviours… the notion that no ill words will be laid on the Christmas table; not this hour, not this day, at least.

Modern Family Christmas

And in the background of all this joy and tension lies music. Seasonal tunes emanating from vinyl record and CD players, cellphones, MP3 players, songs springing from the living room’s polished piano keys or the silken strings of Aunt June’s guitar.

I love so many carols and hymns played over the Christmas season, don’t you? And if a chanteuse sings one song I don’t enjoy so much, there’s usually another they perform that lifts me skywards to nirvana.

Holly_Wreath

Years ago I lived for a time in Canada’s arctic town of Yellowknife.

As Christmas approached, I’d sit crammed with a bunch of other revellers in the cheek-numbing open-air box of a friend’s pickup truck and drive through the dark at -40C under the warm, green-tinged swirl of northern lights to co-workers’ homes for carol singing and rum drinking. Staid old Dr. Igoe was always the most generous with the spirit bottle, so we unfailingly sang our best festive tunes in the warmth of his living room.

Our Arctic choir didn’t have one, but just about every artist in the recording universe has a Christmas album or two. I can enjoy a carol, a hymn from just about anyone … exceptBONEY M.

The gritty, irritating sand of the synthetic Boney M Jamaican/Disco sounds wear at me like fingernails screeching down the blackboard.  Every verse, every chorus, every song.

I want to scream and run over sole-searing hot coals until there’s more pain in my feet than in my ears.

When I tell my family and friends of my Anti-Boney slant, they look at me like I have two heads, as if there’s something terribly wrong with me, a sickness that needs a cure.

Maybe I have an aural allergy, is this possible?

But enough. I won’t spend my Christmas season in a funk because of one musical group who, for me, massacres the sounds I love so dear.

Each of us has a selection of festive melodies that find a way into our hearts, giving rise to joy, melancholy, desire, cheer, sorrow. Our range of human emotions is brought rolling to the surface in a huge wave when the annual litany of music hits the tidal sands of Christmas.

Christmas FaMILY AT PIANO

Today, I have a question or challenge to make you exercise your mind and hold the Alzheimer demons at bay. Are you ready?

If I were to send you away Tom-Hanks-Castaway-style for the next month and your iPod or iPhone or Galaxy S would hold ONLY 3 Christmas (substitute SEASONAL if you prefer) songs/ carols/hymns … what would your choices be?

To jog your thinking, I’ve gone to the wintry streets and canvassed a few folks nearby and received a few suggestions like:

Also, just as an FYI, a recent Nielsen Company survey of most popular Christmas song downloads are as follows:

All I Want For Christmas Is You (Mariah Carey)

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) (Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24 (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

Christmas Canon  (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)

Rockin Around the Christmas tree (Brenda Lee)

The Chanukah Song (Adam Sandler)

Where Are You Christmas (Faith Hill)

Feliz Navidad (Jose Feliciano)

Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms)

White Christmas (Bing Crosby)

My own musical tastes at this time of year gravitate towards the melancholy end of the spectrum, maybe because I like to plumb the depths of my emotional heart. So, restricted to just 3 pieces, I would go with:

  • Holly_WreathTom Jackson (Huron Carol) … the wonderful Canadian Christmas carol (likely written in 1642 by Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons) by deep-voiced Tom Jackson. The tremelo of his “In excelsis gloria” sends shivers down my spine.
  • Holly_WreathJohnny Mathis (The Christmas Song) … a favourite from my childhood that was always heard on the record player while we decorated the tree.

Released in 1958 by Columbia Records, Percy Faith provided the album’s musical direction. The Christmas album containing this song by Mathis peaked at #3 on the Billboard 200 album sales chart in 1959.

  • Holly_WreathVince Guaraldi (Christmas Time Is Here)… another childhood favourite… the swish swish swish of the brushes on the snare drum just makes me feel the snowflakes falling.

This song was written for the 1965 Christmas cartoon Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. In the weeks preceding the premiere, TV producer Lee Mendelson encountered trouble finding a lyricist for Guaraldi’s instrumental intro, and penned Christmas Time is Here in “about 15 minutes” on the backside of an envelope.

The recording sessions of the childrens’ choir were conducted in late autumn 1965, and were cut in three separate sessions over two weeks. They often ran late into the night, resulting in angry parents, some who forbid their children from returning – therefore, numerous new children were present at each session.

The children were directed by Barry Mineah, who demanded perfection from the choir. Mendelson and Guaraldi disagreed, desiring the “kids to sound like kids”. Each child was paid five dollars for their participation. In addition, the children recorded dialogue for the special’s final scene, in which the crowd of kids shout “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”.

                    charlie-brown

So, as you sit sipping an egg nog latte snuggled under a warm blanket, sugar plum fairies dancing in your head, snowflakes sowing themselves gently on your window frames, take a moment to ponder over your three finalists.

If you’re brave you can share them with me and I won’t laugh … or decry you … even if … a Boney M tune is among your selections. How’s that for Christmas Spirit? HOHOHO…