So call me sick but I find a certain charm in depravity

donTwo of my favorite US generated TV shows are The Good Wife and Mad Men. That statement does not mean for a second they are my favorite bits of TV fare. In truth I find such UK offerings as Doc Martin, Lewis, Call the Midwife and New Tricks to be superior at all levels.

Call me a TV snob but frankly I think the Brits do it better. Oh, and I shall be honest enough that, with a few very, very rare exceptions, Canadians do it worse. So shoot me for that opinion if you will.

joanAnyway, of the two American offerings, which I think are exceptionally well done, I must also acknowledge the fact that my dear wife doesn’t really like them. Not that she thinks they’re badly done but just that they are so depressing and the characters are utter shits almost to a one in both.

And they are and I won’t argue the point about how sleazy everybody is. On Mad Men it seems that the only individual who is genuine and shows character is bountifully buxom bodacious (howsabout that alliteration?) Joan. Most of the rest aren’t worth the powder to blow them to hell. But that’s what I find enteraining about them. I almmost revel in their respective potential denouements. I want them to go out. They ain’t lovable. And eventually the boozing, the screwing around, the smoking and the double dealing will destroy them like a huge Greek tragedy. I like that. Wendy hates it. Not that she’s seeking all sweetness and light, she just doesn’t want to watch people who will drag her down.

aliciaWith The Good Wife I am having a secret fantasy love-affair with Juliana Margulies (Alicia), but confess to being fascinated by Archie Panjabi’s duplicitous, double-dealing, bisexual Kalinda who you would definitely want to have your back, otherwise she’d stick a shiv in it. These are not nice people. And Alicia’s philandering husband, sleazy politician Peter, is something of a latter-day Don Draper who would do anyone who would give him the chance but then cry character assassination if found out. But, Alicia screws around, too. As I said, interesting, but not particularly nice folk. More Greek tragedy.

It is interesting that Wendy finds these programs depressing – which they are, to a degree, but that to me is part of their charm. As I indicated, I am intrigued by the morally unscrupulous (and where could you find collections of the depraved in greater numbers than in a big law firm or an ad agency?) because they make me feel a little bit superior (OK, not a lot superior) in the ways in which I handle kalindamy own life.

It’s also odd that she finds those programs distressing, whereas she doesn’t find Lewis to be so, despite all the murders most horrid amidst the stately spires of Oxford, and hell, if you want to find morally bankrupt, lawyers and ad folks have to take a back seat to certain fictional (and sometimes real) academics.

And, there is virtue in having two TVs sometimes.

The kids are all right. At least ‘my’ kids are

blackboard

It will come as no news to most of you that I have no children – that I know of, and since nobody has hit me up for anybody’s upkeep or education, I think i am safe to assume the belief is true – and no children are planned.

I had a brief and still cherished foray as a stepdad, but I have mentioned that before and won’t be going there again in this space.

But, none of this means that young people haven’t figured prominently in my life. I was, as many might know, a secondary teacher for about seven years, many years ago. And, even though I was pretty good at the gig and liked the pedagogical process, the hidebound system that reeked of favoritism and a good-ole-boys net, did not sit well with me. In fact, it sat so badly and sadly with me that I can still get pissed off if I think about it for too long. So, I won’t be doing that here, either.

What I will consider here in lieu is some of my former students. A person amasses a lot of youthful charges in seven years. Some of those charges are remembered not so fondly; some are, sadly, forgotten; some were just there and went on their respective ways years ago; and some are still, one way or another, part of my life and I deeply value my connections with them.

These are the people whom I regard as peers, with some of them being gratifyingly successful in what they have done with their lives, and I take no credit for their successes. Nobody should ever take much credit for the success of another except, perhaps, they provided a certain guidance when it was needed.

A lot my Facebook friends are former students and we meet in that forum as peers. It’s nice. I like being a small part of their lives and I cherish their successes. They are my grown up kids, after all. And considering how long ago it was when I stood in front of a classroom, they are very grown up indeed.

(To give you an idea of what I’m about here; just checked my email inbox. Of the seven items showing on the screen, two of them are emails or notifications from former students).

And to set the record straight on the realities of life for a high school teacher when I was at it. It was nothing like The Blackboard Jungle (pictured), no switchblades and other nasty items. I was never told to “fuck off”, I never had any intimate physical contact with a female student, albeit a lot of them were amazingly attractive and the odd libidinous fantasy crossed my mind. But in my mind was where it stayed.

to sahI don’t know if I truly inspired a kid like Mr. Braithwaite did in To Sir With Love, a film that, ironically enough, came into being in my first year teaching and of which a dear young girl wrote that sentiment in my yearbook. But, she wrote it in shorthand and I had to get my former steno mother to translate it for me.

So, whether or not I inspired any of them, some of them have inspired me for their attainments.

As is the case with many demographics life wasn’t always kind. Some have passed from the scene prematurely. Others have run afoul of addictions and even the law. Some were mad and some were bad, even bad to the bone as the song goes.

singa 002But others became doctors and lawyers, experts in fields as diverse as economics and psychology. I had an internationally famed movie star among my charges, and a woman I happen to think is one of the best journalists and editors I have ever encountered. Throw a couple of exceedingly accomplished and successful musicians into that mix, and some fine artists and all I can say is the kids were and are all right.

And some, likely the majority just became decent citizens who raised good families and contributed well to the general weal of society.

Today I had conversations, purely by accident, with three former students. The encounters were pleasing adjuncts to my day.

Proud of my kids I am and this thought came about as a result of some chance encounters today.

Do whatever it is you do to mark your Good Friday and I shall do likewise.

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I am always at a loose-end on Good Friday.

Never quite know what to do with a holiday that marks a dismal anniversary. You know, it’s all about the crucifixion and the agonies of Christ and how human beings can be a bunch of bastards when some dude departs from accepted practices. In truth, crucifixion or not, we don’t seem to have lost that impulse.

Kill the messenger who tells us stuff that departs from the acceptable. Christ certainly filled that bill. Nothing but a troublemaker who didn’t necessarily subscribe to the theory of rendering unto Caesar. So they kilt him is what they done, and that was what Good Friday was invented for. That, and an extra day off.

Now, I am not a particularly spiritual person in the conventional church sense of the matter, but once in a while I paid attention in the Sunday school classes I was compelled to attend, probably so Mom and Dad could have a Sunday lie-in and I don’t want to speculate on what was involved with that.

So, the way the thing works is that Easter is the 2nd day of the whole Easter ritual. First is Maundy Thursday, which is the day of the Last Supper and Judas’s betrayal; second comes Good Friday which is the day of the Crucifixion, Gesthemane, Golgotha and “Give us Barabus,” and all that stuff; then comes Easter Saturday which is the interim between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, and that Resurrection (the point of the exercise from a religious point-of-view) comes on Sunday. Convenient they did it on the Christian sabbath. How did they know? Finally comes Easter Monday, which is designated as yet another day off for public sector union members and denied to all other sloggers who must perforce be more sinful becuase they don’t seem to deserve that extra day of rest. Sucks, that does.

bunneezNow, it has come to pass that Easter essentially means chocolate eggs, baskets, chicks, bunnies and all sorts of other commercial crap brought to us by the same pagans who brought us Christmas trees to defile that other erstwhile sacred time of year.

In any case, today is good Friday and my mother always maintained it was apt that it should rain and be dreary on GF to mark the desolation Christians everywhere are supposed to feel for having messed up yet again.

Well, one can quibble with that. For one thing, there weren’t any Christians yet, and secondly it was the Romans and Pharisees who were largely the villains in the matter. And in my case, I certainly wasn’t there at the time, though I might have raised an objection had I been.

Now, if I don’t catch you Sunday, have a Happy Easter everyone, and I hope you are having a Good Friday that is whatever meaning it has for you. Eat some unleavened bread, maybe.

Hope I’m not going to hell for this. I tried to be respectful of everybody’s belief system. About matters clerical I always hold to the opinion that states: Hey, I could be wrong.

Beauty is a multi-faceted beast

lar of atttractuib,

Have you ever wondered why we’re attracted to some people and not to others? By ‘attracted’ here I am talking about romantic or even sexual attraction.

When we are unformed and callow we tend to think it’s all about physical beauty. In other words, if the individual looks sorta like the flavor of the day then he or she must be beautiful and therefore we must be attracted. And to a degree that’s true. I have met girls and women that could make me stop breathing such were the esthetics they exuded.

Yet, I have never fallen in love with a creature so ravishing as that. Not because I didn’t feel I was up to it. My self-esteem is pretty good, but because a certain chord wasn’t struck.

Elizabeth Taylor once said she was dateless in her teens because males found her too attractive and they were intimidated. Interesting. Mind you, considering her coupling history, it might have been better if males had continued to be intimidated, especially Richard Burton who had a brilliant reputation as an actor before he met lady Liz. Not so much after.

If truth be known, and why would I lie unless backed into a corner? I have fallen for a lot of females in my life. Were they all ravishing beauties? They certainly were for me at the time and that was what counted. In other words we were attracted enough to each other that all the other aspects of our beings worked splendidly.

Yet, I still maintain that what attracts us cannot be easily defined. There is so much more to the ‘whole’ person – intelligence, charm, wit, nice tits (oops, sorry, that last one just slipped in with a Freudian gusto), no, but seriously, charm, with, intelligence, a good smile and lovely laughter do so much. Add some irreverence and naughtiness and I am yours, baby. And when those conditions are met you will find that superficial appearance becomes increasingly irrelevant.

Here is an experiment you can try. Walk along a street or into a mall and espy somebody of the opposite sex (if you are heterosexual), or of the same sex if you are not, whom you deem attractive. Study that person’s face for a little while, though not long enough to get yourself arrested for harassment. Now, take a day and then picture that person’s face. I bet you get a pretty accurate rendering of them in your mind. If you have an artistic bent you could probably draw the person.

Now, try to get an accurate mental image of your nearest and dearest, the person you love more than any other. Bet you can’t do it. And the reason is that you know the ‘whole’ person and superficialities like physical appearance matter less and less as time goes by.

 

Many facets to the month of April and some are pretty and some ain’t

april

For a kind of neither here nor there month, April, it seems, has inspired a lot of people to various musings.

- O to be in England now that April’s there: Well, I like England though when I lived there April was rather chilly. And I do know and am very fond of an April and wouldn’t mind spending time in England with her, other than that she’s very attached as am I. So that’s out.

- April showers may come your way: Of course they will and you can’t do a damn thing about it. This was an Al Jolson tune. Evidently Jolson was kind of an egotistical jerk, and that’s about all I’ve got about him except he was ostensibly in the first ‘talkie’ though that isn’t entirely true, evidently.

eliot- April is the cruelest month: Good old Thomas Stearnes who became the prototypical conservative, Anglican Englishman even though he was actually American, and wrote a very long and difficult poem, The Wasteland, an analysis of which I once did a university paper and didn’t get a brilliant grade for.

- April in Paris: Have not been in Paris in April, but evidently chestnuts there are in blossom, though ours aren’t yet, and it is April here as well.

- April Love: It’s supposedly “for the very young”, which seems a bit unfair. Love works at any age and any time of the year. This was a popular song by Jesus-lovin’ Pat Boone, a man of good voice but devoted much of his career to doing really white guy versions of songs done so much better by assorted black performers of the day. No black artist ever did April Love, however, as far as I know.

- “It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Opening line to George Orwell’s relentlessly grim and arguably prophetic 1984. I’m a huge Orwell buff and have read virtually every world he ever penned, but i was always struck by the pessimistic note of that sentence, even though the pessimism is unstated you know it’s there.

- ‘April hath put a spirit of youth in everything’: I would be remiss to not offer something by Shakespeare here. So here it is. Something by Shakespeare.

I’m of mixed feelings about April. While it is spring, it’s not yet full spring with spurs on. It’s spring-lite. Blossoms are coming out and bulbs are in flower but it hasn’t yet come in with the vengeance of May when the world truly comes alive. “Hooray-hooray, it’s the first of May, outdoor screwing starts today.” No such ribaldry in an April quote because it’s too chilly yet to be courting twigs sticking into your bum.

April, evidently, can have a rather negative psychological effect on the vulnerable. The suicide rate evidently climbs, which seems odd since winter is over. I mean, if you’re going to off yourself, doesn’t wretched January or seemingly interminable February make more sense? Not the case, evidently. Psychiatric wards do a fairly thriving business in this that first full month of spring.

Generally though, I have no negative feelings about April. I love the spring as it’s my favorite time of year and today I am wearing shorts and that makes me feel just grand. I made it though another winter.

I think native art is very beautiful but it doesn’t necessarily ‘speak’ to me

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Inordinately huge color photo and article on the front page of the Vancouver Sun a while ago exposing how a non-native Canuck living in Texas was making a shitload of money by creating huge Haida tattoos for the backs his clients.

The tale left me with mixed emotions and a certain judgmentalism based on the fact that I am as weary of tattoo trendiness as much as I am weary of the plethora of articles telling us everything we really didn’t particularly wish to learn about the wonders of marijuana and how it will save the world if we were not such reactionary boneheads. In other words, both tats and pot have become extremely boring due to overexposure. However, as an admirer of free-enterprise I say more power to him for exploiting the trendiness of aboriginal art (and tats) in a unique manner. Added to which his creds and connectedness to Haida Gwai are both good so I do not indict him in any way.

Indeed many of his clients are themselves aboriginal and often Haida (and tattooing is very tied in with cultural mores of coastal natives in much the same manner as it is with Pacific islanders).

All good and I admire a good sense of entrepreneurship in an economically-fraught world. If you have devised a plan to make some bucks via your own ingenuity, God love you for it.

injun stuffNow aboriginal art has become very trendy in recent years. Nothing wrong with that. Some of the masks and bowls and other artifacts are downright beautiful by any standard of esthetics. And living where I do, with a resident native population, we get a lot of totem poles, graphic art works, canoes, carvings, and jewelry. I have a Thunderbird pendant that never leaves the silver chain around my neck. It’s beautiful and I cherish it for a number of reasons, including the fact it was given to me by Wendy early in our dating lives.

And I love how native artworks and structures are so integral to the history of the Northwest and recoil at how the peoples of this coast were often robbed blind by revolting vandals who went under the guise of being missionaries for a God I could never worship; stole their art; banned the Potlatch; and sent their artistry to museums all over the ‘white’ world. Some people believe the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum were stolen. Fair enough. How about the stolen North Coast Indian artifacts in that same museum?

Yet, despite all that lengthy preamble and despite my admiration for native art, I am also ‘not’ a big fan of it. I am who I am and my background is European and the art works I gravitate to are European or European North American in inspiration.

tangagaroaWhile I might want it to be otherwise, the simple fact is: Native art doesn’t really ‘speak’ to me. Why should it? I am culturally different. I love Hawaii, as regular readers know, and admire a lot of Polynesian art as well, but it’s still not mine. It’s theirs. I have another pendant around my neck of Tangaroa, the Polynesian fertility god found in Pacific cultures. Tangaroa with his hugely evident phallus. Good naughty fun. But, he is still of ‘their’ culture.

So, when I go through a European gallery I see paintings that I can understand. When I lived in Grenoble, France for three weeks I spent a great deal of time at their civic gallery with some wonderful works. My idea of heaven would be to spend hours in the Turner rooms at the Tate. You get my drift.

So, no, there is not a lot of native-themed work on display in our home.

Chacun a son gout.

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. OK. Works for me

kitchen

Once – in another life with another mate – she and I embarked on a venture that led to the sticking on of a major addition to our domicile.

The end result was heavenly. We stuck on a complete wing, turned the carport into a sunken den with cozy wood stove and then two steps that led up to a huge master-bedroom with vaulted and beamed ceiling and tall windows everywhere. I was even more enraptured due to the fact it was my design and it worked.

But, at the end of the day wifey and I were in accord that we would never want to do such a thing again. Well, fate being what it was, we parted never had a chance to test our vow.

We wouldn’t do the thing again due to the mess and disruption of our lives. The house was filled with sawdust and dirt and eventually you don’t even bother with vacuuming. I’d come home from work wondering what our contractor had accomplished that day. Sometimes nothing. Not that he was bad, he was actually very good, but there were days when he couldn’t get the stuff he needed so couldn’t proceed to the next stage. It was wearing and if you are worn enough eventually you get depressed and begin to think the goddamn thing will never be finished. Eventually you reach the stage where you almost don’t care any longer. You’ve lost the will to go on – sometimes literally.

But, as the Kinks song goes, ‘here we go round again.’ No, not an addition this time, but here, in another house in another lifetime with another spouse, we have decided on a major kitchen reno. Two rooms that will sell a house are the kitchen and the bathroom. Interesting, the two ends of the digestive process, but for fear of sounding tasteless, I shall move ahead.

oldOur current kitchen is ‘tired’, I think would be the word. It’s dated. That ‘steam’ microwave is the giveaway. Actually it’s a ‘macrowave’, brutal damn thing. No, it’s not quite that bad, but we have grown tired of its worn nature. But in dealing with that reality we have pissed around for about two years over the matter. But eventually we decided this year will be the year. (Sob).

So the past few weeks have been spend lining up cabinet people and choosing what we wanted those cabinets to look like, and then countertops. Frustrating due to the plethora of choices out there. We’d bring sample possibilities home and while they looked great in the shop they sort of sucked at this end. “I hate that. I don’t want my kitchen to look like that! It (which seemed kind of vibrant in the shop) looks like a Baghdad whorehouse.” Not that I have a clue about the inner workings of a Baghdad brothel. I’m only guessing. And then there was the floor. What material. We rather liked cork but found it to be brutally vulnerable at a few levels. Anyway, we found a floor we fell in love with – eventually after a few dozen fits and starts.

Ultimately we got to the sexy stuff – the appliances. Appliances which meant a new range (why are stoves called ranges, anyway? And the English call them ‘cookers’, which seems a bit more to the point), dishwasher and fridge. All stainless steel, which was what Wendy wanted. Oh, and a new kitchen sink. I cannot get excited about a new sink, though the appliances were a tad of a rush, and we were very grateful for the kind counsel and wisdom of Kathy at Sear’s in Courtenay.

OK, we’ve done that part. Come June the construction part happens. That I am dreading because that will be like the aforementioned addition from years ago. I have no idea of how long it will take. And we will have to make adjustments. We’re hoping for good weather as I think we’ll be doing a lot of barbecuing.

And at the end comes the best part. Paying for the job.