You want to see fearful? Look at our political options and forget about zombies

zombie

I know my attitudes of the day place me well apart from the contemporary zeitgeist but, like Popeye, I yam what I yam.

What I am saying is that there are certain cultural trends that I cannot bring myself to embrace and indeed I have no interest in attempting to embrace. That’s mainly because I think they are boring and really, for grownup people, pretty puerile and stupid. But that’s just me.

So here are the popular fave-raves that I find to be insufferable pains-in-the-ass and tiresome beyond credulity. Either that or just gratuitously offensive.

Zombies: Let me be (apparently) the first to say that there is no such thing as a zombie. They only exist in the imagination and in certain voodoo mythology. They are no more real than Caspar the Friendly Ghost and most of them are about as scary as Caspar. The only decent zombies in film lore were the ones in Shawn of the Dead which is pee-your-panties funny and should be seen. You see, the filmmakers there poke fun at the genre because it is so silly. And if you think I am overstating this issue, there actually are grown-up, albeit not very smart, adults who believe that zombies exist. Sorry folks, dead is dead.

marvinRobots: By this I am not talking about ‘robotics’ which holds significant promise in so many realms. I mean, I’m not even talking about robotic sex dolls. I could, but that’s a whole other realm again. No, I am talking about the ‘robotic revolution’ in which we have been led to believe that not only will future bots do all of our tasks, but will also be capable of independent cognition like the ones in Blade Runner which you won’t be able to tell from regular flesh, blood, guts and pudendi human beings. Well, frankly, I don’t believe that will ever happen and therefore find exploration of the idea tiresome and unentertaining. In truth, the only robot I have ever had any use for is Marvin, the eternal but chronically depressed robot in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

buffyWerewolves and, God help us, overdone vampires: Like zombies, these are not real entities. So why are our TV networks cluttered with them? Have we all become 12-years-old. And love stories involving real human girls with creepy vampire dudes who, for whatever reason, are considered sexy. The only sexy reference to vampires came with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that was entirely due to Sarah Michelle Gellar and not to anything supernatural. And frankly there have been no sexy vampires since Bela Lugosi with that mellifluous Hungarian accent.

ghostGhosts: I loved the movie Ghost. Play a couple of bars of Unchained Melody and I’m a weepy goner in the only film that ever justified the existence of Demi Moore in the cinematic world. Otherwise, of ghosts, I don’t believe in them so I don’t find them particularly riveting or scary. You want scary ghost tales read Henry James’ Turn of the Screw.

Gratuity: I’m not talking about sex here. There is too much gratuitous sex around – or – depending on your attitude, not enough. No, what I am talking about is gratuitous graphicness. I know that dead people look like corpses, but do I need to embrace them for my viewing pleasure? Ever-popular (even though I haven’t actually watched it in years) CSI series thrive on autopsies wherein the deceased are subject to the indignities of all sorts of pathological indignities in full scrutiny. In the CSI Miami version this is despite the fact we viewers are subjected to (at least the 10 viewers who still watch this one are) the indignity of the ongoing existence of David Caruso. But even my regularly watched and otherwise admirable NCIS is guilty of parading some disemboweled poor stiff who ends up being subject to the rather tasteless wit of the otherwise lovable Ducky who will be munching a sandwich while the hapless and late petty officer lies on the examination table. Sometimes too much is too much.

Come fly with me in the fiendish skies of today

flying machine

There’s not much to do on a long airplane flight, especially when you are traveling in steerage. You know full well that all the Don Drapers in business class are being propositioned by luscious flight attendants, whilst scarfing down lobster thermidor and chugging endless glasses of champagne, but we back in steerage are left to our own devices.

I mean, what can you do to make, say, five hours (or 10 if you’re off to Europe) pass and still have a semblance of sanity left that will keep a body from turning homicidal when the morons download their steamer trunks from the overhead racks and impede your desperate need to depart the much-too-small airborne tube at the end of the flight?

pan amThere was once a time when a fellow could ogle the stewardi and fantasize about a delicious liaison with the delectable creature who was there to tend to all your needs – and in that fantasy that meant ‘all’ your needs. That has changed as flying has deteriorated and the nowadays ‘flight attendants’ are worked off their pretty buns and aren’t, well, quite as charming (even flirtatious) as once they were. I don’t blame them. I think what was once a romantic dream job has to nowadays be a pretty shitty, sweaty gig in which they have to deal with probably more obnoxious and self-indulgent assholes in one long-haul flight than the rest of us have to in a year.

Anyway, you’re sat there in a seat that does not remotely resemble the contours of your bum and you have to fill in the time once airborne. You idly ponder how the gymnastic challenges of joining the ‘mile-high-club’ would be pretty much out of the question back there in econo class where you are position. You resent the fact that the toffs in business probably even have an option to trip the carnal fantastic that is denied to you. And then you look at the exhausted face of your opposite sex traveling companion who has just been through a body scan as part of the airport bullshit and know that even if you had a private bedroom it would be denied to you. Yet the creeps back at the airport got to see all her good bits.

You try to read to while away the time. You pick up your novel and just read your damn fool head off and go through page after page even though reading on a conveyance makes you feel a bit nauseated. Well now then, that must have knocked a bit of time off. You check your watch. It has. Maybe 10 minutes. Only four hours and fifty minutes to go. OK, rent one of those little TV devices and watch a couple of episodes of Big Bang that I haven’t seen more than 30 times at home, just to gaze on Penny with whom I’d like to be exquisitely intimate and have her bear my children. That’s gotta kill more time. Yep, about an hour and I get to use those excruciatingly uncomfortable little bits of earphone crap that never work in stereo.

Now the drinks trolley comes by. Considering the tedium of the flight I’d love to order a quintuple vodka on the rocks, but since I no longer imbibe I settle for something with a vague resemblance to coffee. Actually, on our trip back from Hawaii a couple of months ago I asked for a glass of milk. I was informed that on afternoon flights they don’t serve milk. Why ever not? I haven’t yet figured out that one. So, I settled for tomato juice and gave myself stabbing heartburn for the rest of the journey. Heartburn that was compounded by the appearance of:

Wait for it:

The meal service. Found out that virtually everything that might not have been profoundly vomit-inducing was unavailable. I settled for a crackers, cheese, grape and apple slice combo that vaguely resembled a very poor, indolent, hit-the-skids, alleyway wino junkie’s ploughman’s lunch.

My memory drifted back to the days of the exquisite stewardi and Hy’s Restaurant meals of the wonderful and agonizingly lamented Wardair service when they allowed even economy travelers to feel like they were a little bit special.

By that time my bladder had alerted me it was time to head back to the toilet. Time to head back where the aisleway (very narrow aisleway of a nature that nobody can pass by your seat if you are on the aisle without jostling you) is completely cluttered with (so-called) meal and drinks trolleys.

In my quest for relief I am joined by some others, in a few cases noticeably squirming in extremis. Is it a federal aviation violation to have a pee accident on the floor? Anyway, no such thing happened. I made it to the odd little loo, peed, headed back up the long aisle to my seat only to feel 15 minutes later like I had to pee again.

Fly the fiendish skies indeed.

Learning to follow your bliss is more easily said than done, I find

bliss

Yesterday I was perusing some photos from the Panama Canal cruise we took approximately a year ago. I was attempting to find subject material for a prospective painting and I had an image in mind. It was a shot of the fascinating cathedral in the old town of Cartagena, Colombia.

And then I looked at the rest of the shots I took. Such fascinating destinations and adventures: San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco, Chiapas, Costa Rica (replete with crocodiles), the astonishing canal with a big fresh-water lake in the middle, Cartagena, the Caribbean, Fort Lauderdale. Man oh man. Such a trip.

And then I was a bit saddened by the fact that despite the magnificence of the adventure I didn’t fully appreciate it as thoroughly as I might have if I had been fully ‘there’. I mean, I loved the trip, but I realized that I was oddly picking up more enchantment in retrospect. That kind of sucked for me.

In that I mean I have gone through a lifetime of, I don’t think, being ‘fully there’ in the adventure that is ensuing. My lovely wife is. You can see on her how much ‘there’ she is with any adventure. She is immersed. I feel like I am on the sidelines, and I resent the hell of that little bit of self understanding.

muriA number of years ago we were on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands and one day as we were exploring the breathtaking Muri Lagoon I reached the conclusion that it doesn’t get better than this. And then I went to the thought that is was so astonishing that I honestly couldn’t take it all in so I would somehow have to live in the memory of what I thought it should feel like to be fully involved. I kind of resent my reality.

I will confess, and I hope this doesn’t fall into the realm of TMI, that one time in which I feel fully present and in which I do not want the moment to go away is in those too rapidly fleeting microseconds just prior to orgasm. Then I am involved. Utterly and blissfully involved and you don’t need me to elaborate further. But I want such feelings of ecstasy to transpire in other aspects of my life, but I am not quite certain of how to go about that.

I want to know why I have a tendency to emotionally run away from the good elements of my days. And I am blessed enough to have a plethora of good elements. I have traveled widely, I have friends I cherish, I have had lovers I adored, I am intelligent, I am tolerant, I have a good home and marriage. And so on and so on. Yet I too often tend to appreciate those elements in retrospect rather than in the actuality of the moment.

So, I take photographs of them, I paint them, I write about them, rather than live them at exactly the time and place. There is an irony in that the one thing I have never been able to write about successfully is that aforementioned pre-orgasmic moment of intimacy. I mean, truly how can such a thing be conveyed in mere words on a page. The writing of words is an intellectual activity, not one that involves the whole body, central nervous system and, I daresay, the soul.

I would like to make such feelings more universal in my life. I am not sure how to do that.

You’re meant to love your neighbour as yourself; so was it something we said?

sold

No matter how you look at it, life is about changes and those changes are often losses in which the fabric of our beings are rent asunder by events beyond our control.

Throughout our days we have faced the deaths of family members and beloved friends. We have suffered divorces and/or separations. And others with whom we are close have departed for foreign parts and no matter how much you think such a thing will make no difference to your relationship; it will. You know it will.

As the years go by they will make new connections, and so will you and while such people might remain special in the heart, they will not remain the same. They cannot.

And then, at a more minor level, you have the case of neighbors. Neighbors sometimes have a tendency to move. That is distressing. Especially if they are good neighbors.

For a decade now we have had some very fine neighbors in the house next door. And they are in the process of moving. We’re pissed off about that. For the past few weeks they have been gathering up items, goods, and even chattels and putting them in boxes and then putting the boxes into trucks and transporting them away from the hood.

I don’t like that. Neither of us in this household like that. We’re irritated with them and their decision-making processes, none of which involved consulting with us. Bastards.

neighborsIf they had been shitty neighbors we would have welcomed the change, but they were quite the opposite. They were a quiet, considerate professional family not given to wild parties or chucking beer cans over the fence. Husband and wife didn’t have raucous rows in which the police had to be called, and their sons, when they were still living at home weren’t dealing crack out of the basement door.

They were just plain agreeable. We didn’t live out of each other’s pockets and there were lots of things we didn’t know about them, and that they didn’t know about us, and that is as it should be – you know, the old ‘good fences’ adage.

Furthermore, they liked our dog and we liked their dog and those things count for a lot.

So, and I’m serious, we were filled with a certain gloom when the ‘sold’ notice appeared on their real estate sign. Sold! WTF? They were serious about going. Who is going to replace them. We have been very fortunate with our neighbors on all sides. Will this time be different. Will we get a biker gang moving in? Some retro bastards obsessed with heavy metal playing at full volume? Meth cookers? Really, really messy folks? Chronic partiers? A brothel? Who can tell?

Anyway, changes; ch-ch-ch-ch-changes don’t make me a happy resident and I cannot do a damn thing about it.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and that enhances my attitude of gratitude

gratitood

Thanksgiving is kind of a gratuitous celebration of gratitude in that if you woke up this morning in your own bed or one belonging to a terribly dear friend, then you should be thankful – possibly on two counts.

But, I don’t intend to be glib, cynical or callous here. Well, as you know such behaviors are not in my nature, and also because there are aspects of my life about which I am filled with gratitude. This blog entry will be short and to the point, mainly because it’s a holiday weekend and I don’t feel like sweating it. So, if you are one of the two or three people who still get around to taking a look at my blog, I am thankful for you. You rock.

Otherwise, I am thankful for:

- My life with Wendy. I mean, not every minute of every day, any more than she feels always that way about life with me. We are human. But, considering the domestic wars I have been through I am delighted to share my life with her.

- Our house is a very, very, very fine house. Not extravagant, just a pleasing and tasteful bungalow in a pleasant neighborhood with good neighbors to boot and hardly any mayhem on the streets.

- Max. No more needs to be said.

- I’d like to be younger, no point in denying it. But, since that is impossible, I am ecstatic I’m still kicking around and my health seems fairly decent.

- The wonderful travels I and we have taken.

- Time spent in Hawaii, my other favorite place to put my feet up.

- My God-given creativity. Hasn’t made me rich but it gives me much gratification, so thanks for my modicum of talent.

- After a great run of bad behaviour I am happy to have been sober for 17 1/2 years.

- All the girls I’ve loved before. Bless you all.

- The lovely ladies at Bosley’s. Gracious, pleasant and goshdarn pretty and Max loves you too.

- Wonderful music of all genres.

- People I’ve been reunited with on Facebook. Thought you were lost to the ages and now you’re not. People badmouth FB but it has distinct virtues.

- Having seen my byline in various publications including the Times of London.

- Having had the access to a number of notable people in both politics and entertainment via my newspaper career. A few were assholes, and lots were much more pleasant than I anticipated they’d be.

- Having gotten a decent education and having been exposed to a world of ideas and thought, all of which ultimately led me to my life’s work.

- Having once been a teacher and cherishing the fact that I now have strong friendship connections with a few former students of mine.

- My years as a newspaper scribe, especially at the Comox District Free Press, the best damn little paper in the country.

- Living in a country that is, so far, to be noted for its lack of stormtroopers and state censorship, which means I can write my screeds without fear of being carted off to a festering prison at 3 am.

- Friends, old and new. They are my lifeblood. Some have consistently remained and some have moved on and a few have sadly departed permanently, but you all meant much in making me who I am.

- Family, at the immediate and distant levels. You are my connectedness and if you’re still kicking around, you mean a lot. If you aren’t, then you meant a lot.

- Ex-wives. You will not escape a mention in my gratitude list. I loved each of you dearly and I still love you both even if things didn’t work out and there was pain and tears involved. Life has pain and tears and then we move on, so bless you both.

There is more, no doubt, but that is my basic list of gratitudes for this Thanksgiving.

The time will come when I shall have to vote. Then what’ll I do?

fields

Not to be cynical – no-no-no – that’s just not me, but as far as politics go – and I am talking about federal politics not the municipal ones that are on the immediate horizon – but the ones that pertain to those who live in a far away town with a crappy climate – I am of the WC Fields school.

That means, I do not vote ‘for’ anyone, only ‘against.’

Now, in the case of the Ottawa sonsabitches I find that I am essentially against all of them and may somebody salt their topsoil in my esteem, so I am left trying to choose some party that I loathe the least.

Where the hell is the Rhino Party when we need it the most.

But I jest – though only ever so slightly.

Let’s take a look at the field of offerings:

steverinoStephen Harper: Old Steverino is kind of an anomaly amongst politicos in a democracy in that he apparently doesn’t give much of a shit whether your like him or not, so he makes no attempt to do warm and cuddly. He believes he is the best person for the job and that we’ll rue the day if we turf him from office. This great pal of China (oh, and Canada too, he protests) sees no concerns about climate change and I suspect that in his heart (I may be wrong) he thinks it, and all the issues that affect our natural environment are just so much hippie folderol. Needless to say he sees the biggest collection of hippies here in British Columbia, a place about which he seems to know little, but possibly has visited a couple of times.

Meanwhile, his politics have consistently drifted to the right in his years in office, and some feel they are perilously reactionary. I’m sort of one who feels that way. And his bearing has become increasingly sour and confrontative. In fact, the only time I’ve seen him look and sound excited was when they recently found that Franklin ship which he seemed to feel was terribly important in the scheme of things. An emotional response shared by, oh maybe .0013 per cent of Canada’s populace. And I won’t get started on the Israel thing.

If an election were held tomorrow I wouldn’t be prepared to say how Stevie would do. His loathsomeness factor hasn’t quite reached the level that Mulroney’s attained but, hey, there’s still a year to go. Meanwhile, my own view of the man has altered slightly over the years – altered downwardly. First I saw him as being admirable in that he was able to break the stranglehold the increasingly corrupt Liberals had over the country. But then the ‘power’ thing evolved and there is an adage about ‘absolute power’ and that’s about where I am with those guys right now.

mulcairThomas Mulcair: I put him second on the list because he, not the Twerp, is actually the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. So, old ‘Mr. Crankypants’ has never succeeded in capturing the pizzazz of the late Jack Layton. I think that had something to do with charm. Anyway, Mulcair has kind of fought the good fight against various forms of adversity but he has never succeeded in convincing a lot of Canadians in terms of likeability. I mean, he works hard and does his homework but he seems to feel his primary rival isn’t so much Steve as the young dude with the hair. And beard doesn’t necessarily trump cool hair unless you’re Abraham Lincoln. Another factor is (and I may be wrong, but suspect not) that the NDP will never prevail over the old guard ‘family compact’ parties no matter who is in charge. Even Layton, as charismatic as he might have been, couldn’t pull that puppy off. Ironically, the NDP in spoiler capacity against the Grits enabled Harper to get his majority.

turdeauJustin Trudeau: I didn’t really mean to refer to him as ‘twerp’ No wait, I did. I did because he has consistently acted like a paragon of immaturity since he attained leadership of the Liberal Party. Frankly, I don’t care a whit about his feelings about pot, abortion or anything else. I care whether he has the intellect and maturity to actually form a government in this country. So far I have yet to see a sign of anything other than knee-jerk populist ain’t I cool stuff. He has been pumped up in some quarters as Pierre’s son (a reality that gains little traction west of Ontario) and Pierre, you know, was real smart. Well, the gene pool works both ways in the siring process. Just sayin’. Don’t count your Justin before he’s hatched and I haven’t seen much to count yet, and see less every day.

mayElizabeth May: I have toyed in idle moments of making Elizabeth of the Green Party my choice on election day. I mean, she seems like a nice lady and I believe in nature and all that stuff and hold the opinion that hydrocarbons are indeed possibly destroying the world and as long as I don’t have to go vegan I could handle voting for her. But, and it’s a big but, no matter how altruistic one would like to be, the chance of the Greens have any sort of impact other than remarkably minor is a remote one.

And that leaves me with:

Rhino_logoThe Rhinos: Come on, fellas and girls. Take another crack at it. Your country needs you.

Time is on my side, and for a mere $10. Impressed yet?

watrch

What’s with all the fancy watches I see advertised in Esquire Magazine?

Not the most riveting introduction but I thought starting out with a Seinfeld statement might pique your interest.

But, back to the issue at hand.

There will be pages and pages showing the faces of Rolexes, and their overpriced ilk. Why? Yet it seems that high end putzes see the watch as a symbol. Case-in-point, if you meet somebody who owns a Rolex they will try to work it into the conversation and attempt to impress me with that factoid. It won’t work, Mr. Well-dressed, upwardly-mobile, Beemer driving dork. It’s a fucking watch! A timepiece, a chronometer, a thing that most people own. I am unimpressed with what people own and am much more interested in what they have done to justify their stay on the planet. You have found a cure for ebola? Good. Get yourself a Rolex; you deserve to have one.

Otherwise, who looks at what a dude is wearing on his wrist?. I honestly never have. I’d be more impressed if you had an old-fashioned pocket watch like the ones train conductors used to use. That’d make a statement.

conductorI, in fact, do have a ‘name’ watch. I have an Omega. A very aged Omega that still works fine. It’s a wind-up kind. And to show you how worldly I am, I actually bought it in Switzerland many years ago. Bet that makes me seem pretty sophisticated – no? Of course not. Why should it?

I’m just not a suckhole for ‘impressive’ labels. What I am a suckhole for is a bargain. For example, I have a Seiko (impressed yet? I thought not). In fact I have two Seikos (doubly-impressed? Likely still not). Both of the watches were gifts; one from an ex-wife and one from my dad. Was I thrilled to receive them? Not greatly. Watches just don’t excite me. They fulfil a function. I mean no disrespect to the bestowers and in the case of the one from my dad, it likely means a bit more since he has gone now.

Both are battery operated. That’s a good thing. Except when the battery runs out. And the battery is designed to run out when the watch is on my wrist and I am vacationing far from home. This has happened to me four times. It happened again when we were in Hawaii just recently.

So, did I rush out when the watch stopped and get myself a Rolex.

Nope, I headed to Wal-Mart in Kailua and I bought myself a dandy little timepiece for $10. The watch has since been known as the ten-dollar watch. I haven’t yet got the battery replaced in the Seiko so I am wearing my ten-dollar watch right now.

If you happen upon me I’ll show it to you. You’re bound to be impressed and inclined to tell your friends how you have a friend with a ten-dollar watch.