Why do I care what you have strapped to y0ur scrawny wrist?

conductorI knew it would finally come to this. The $10 watch I acquired at Wal-Mart on the Big Island of Hawaii some two-and-a-half years ago finally ticked its last tock.

Actually, It didn’t tick at all since it was battery powered. And that was what happened, the battery bit the dust. Ten bucks for over two years of time keeping. I have no complaints.

So did I go out and get another battery inserted in that 10 buck chronometer? I did not. I merely went and purchased a classy looking new watch for $19.95. And the Hawaiian watch can now join the 27 or so other defunct timepieces I have stashed in a drawer in my bedroom closet.

They’re not all cheap throwaways those chronometer remnants in the drawer. I have an Omega there. A wind-up Omega that I bought in Switzerland decades ago. But the bracelet is broken and I haven’t bothered to get it fixed. And I have a couple of Seicos. Nice watches. Dead batteries. Aye, there’s the rub with battery watches.

But, I have decided that cheapos is the way to go. In the first place, well, they’re inexpensive and they look good. They look every bit as nice as those gazillion dollar Rolexes and such that they advertise in mags like Esquire. I mean, who is to know? Furthermore, who is to care? Who gives a shit about how another tells time. I have a few friends – really I do – and I haven’t the slightest inkling of what brand of timepiece any of them have strapped to their wrists. If you have to grandstand about the brand of watch you have then perhaps you should get a grip.

Blessedly ‘Movember’ has nearly run its course

samI am happy the ‘Movember’ thing is nearly over. Not that I, as a male, don’t support the prostate cancer cause, it’s just that I don’t ‘do; mustaches.

And the truth is, most men do not look well with upper lip hirsuteness.And men who should have more sense than to grow one, do indeed grow them for the sake of that aforementioned cause. Thank God it’s only for a month.

Mustaches are like bowties (another of those cyclical fashion things) that should only bedeck the necks of certain males. Winston Churchill and Groucho Marx come to mind, along with Dagwood Bumstead. If Dagwood had worn a long tie it would have covered up that curiously huge single button in the middle of his shirt.

But, back to ‘stashes. They simply do not work for most. They can give an evil and sinister look to some men (it may be worthy of note that no US president since Teddy Roosevelt ever was elected if he happened to be mustache adorned. Thomas E. Dewey came closest and it was actually believed that the mustache sapped his credibility in Middle America.

I grew one once and even have some old photos somewhere showing me with sort of a blondish mess beneath my nose. It looked horrible and did not last long. I later opted for a full beard, which looked better – but not much.

But, for some, the mustache is an almost essential accoutrement. It ‘works’. It works to the degree that the normal mustache wearer looks naked and ineffectual without it.

Who are the great mustache-wearers of our culture?

Clark Gable: In his early films, like It Happened One Night, he was clean-shaven. Thus, he was an able enough actor, but not necessarily thrilling. But then the mustache came in the late 1930s, and nobody could conceive of Rhett Butler having the panty-wetting dash he did were he devoid of the mustache.

Tom Selleck: The poor-man’s Gable in many respects would never have been Magnum if he had been cleanly shorn. If seen him in the odd vehicle without one and it just doesn’t work.

Sam Elliott: Generally given to playing grizzled cowboys these days, the dude (pictured above) defines what a wonderful retro full mustache should be. How could you not trust a man who looked like that? Again, clean-shaven he is pretty much nothing, but in full bloom, it all works.

Groucho Marx: Good old Groucho, he gets to be mentioned twice in this blog, and he deserves to. In his early stage and film work he was minus mustache, but the image of having one worked so well for him that he painted it on. Later, in You Bet Your Life days, the mustache was for real. The Groucho leer would have never worked without it.

George Clooney: Sometimes he’s had one, sometimes he hasn’t. The bastard would look good in anything, alas. I hate males that even other males can recognize as being too good looking for his own good.

Burt Reynolds: In the days when he still had some credibility – and prior to some atrocious cosmetic surgery – Burt had a certain amount of dashing impact. Again he has been clean-shaven and mustached. Mustached always worked better.

Grandpa Walton: Of course. All good grandpas have trustworthy looking mustaches. Mine did.

By the way, I am not planning to grow one. It would still look dorky on me.

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt

nileAn old friend met with me for lunch one day. It was a nice encounter since, even though I have known him for over two decades, we rarely cross paths, since he lives in Ontario, and I am in British Columbia. However, he was out visiting his elderly mother, and thought he would give me a call.

I didn’t realize when he contacted me that he had a motive other than just a long-duration friendship. He wanted to share some thoughts with me. This became apparent part way into our lunch, after we had exchanged all the usual pleasantries.

I had been sober for a number of years then, and during my sobriety I also gained credentials as a certified addictions counsellor. So, my friend wanted to tap into my embracing of sobriety after many years of alcohol abuse, and he also wanted to tap into my counselling skills.

I knew that Rob (not his real name) was a bit of a pot smoker. It was a substance that was never my drug of choice, although I tried it a number of times during my drinking days. Quite frankly it did little for me. But, a mind-altering substance is a mind-altering substance, and having worked for some time in a drug and alcohol rehab I was highly familiar with all intoxicants and how they worked.

I should add that about a year prior to our meeting, Rob had undergone a personal tragedy in the death from cancer of his beloved wife. She was only about fifty at the time of her death and Rob (about the same age) was still reeling from that and having a difficult time getting centred. In that, he was also smoking a lot of cannabis.

To look at him, you would never suspect it. He is a very successful man, high up in the Canadian bureaucracy, and the farthest thing imaginable from the stereotyped image of the sluggish, slacker pothead.

He told me that he appreciated how I had managed to kick booze (I was about eight years sober at the time), and he felt he would like to do the same with marijuana and wondered how difficult it would be for him. I asked him how much he smoked. He told me that his consumption was at least six high-test joints per day. By any standard, that’s a lot, especially considering the THC levels of contemporary pot. But, I made no judgment, and I let him continue with his story.

It came to me after Allison (not her real name) died that never, in all the years we’d been together had we ever made love when I hadn’t been using,” he said. “We never once were intimate when I was completely straight. I’ve been smoking for so many years that I would have no idea what that feels like.”

It was a sad statement, but it was one with which I could empathize. In my brief duration and highly tempestuous second marriage I don’t believe I even once bedded my wife when I was fully sober. In fact, she was rarely sober, either, since we both abused alcohol. Needless to say, the drinking was a huge factor in the demise of the marriage because, with a colossal booze intake on both our parts, if we weren’t making love, we were making war. Many things about that failed marriage fill me with regrets, but alcohol-fueled intimacy is one of the greatest regrets of all. As an aside, I might add that in my current, very happy marriage, I have always been sober, and my wife and I have never been in an ‘altered’ state during our ‘close’ moments. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And that was essentially what I told Rob, when I conveyed my story. I said that it was too late for him to do something about it now but, should a future relationship come about – and I would have little doubt that such a thing would happen; he’s a good looking, highly intelligent and charming man with a vibrant career – then perhaps he should look into getting away from that particular intoxicant. I added that maybe he should also ponder the fact that substance abuse had perhaps not let him go as far in his career as he might have hoped for.

We finished our lunch that spring day, and he told me he had to return to Ontario the next day, but that he would be back out later in the spring, and we would get together again for further conversation.

That never happened, and it has now been many years. I tried e-mailing him but was informed that his e-mail address was no longer operative. He, of course, has never e-mailed me again. Perhaps I was too truthful. Perhaps I told him something he wasn’t prepared to hear. Whatever is the case, I hope he has found the strength to address his ‘problem’ much as I was allowed to address my own.

.

Oh demon alcohol, sad memories I can’t recall, or part 2,743 of a world progressively going mad

moonwhineWhen was it that alcohol stopped being the drug that costs more lives than all others combined?

Never, from what I understand.

When did booze cease being implicated in domestic violence, forced sexual encounters (ie rape), brawling, and murder? Again, never.

Now, I write this as a recovered alcoholic, nigh on 20 years sober since I made the best decision I have ever made. I put the plug in the jug and never looked back. Booze and my abuse thereof virtually cost me a lot of years of my life and I had no one to blame but myself.

Now, if you think this is an anti-alcohol tirade, you would be wrong. Handled well and sensibly (and I did that a few times) there is nothing more pleasing than a fine wine, a good single-malt, or an icy brew on a hot day. The trouble is, some of us were unable to stop, so some of us have kissed it good-bye and suffer no further delusions about the piss.

And this is why I find myself aghast at what is happening in this province with flagrant disregard of the dangers of unfettered access to booze. We used to be ridiculously uptight about access and the good stuff was stored in those vile old ‘likker stores’ with blanked out windows so the tiny tots could not see what evils were on the shelves therein. That model was insulting and demoralizing. I still remember those odd shaky Sundays in which I’d drive well out of town to find a local store that had been granted a liquor licence and which could sell on the sabbath. The official ones could not and that made for a lot of thirsty drunks.

Now it has gone the other way and I am left wondering WTF are they thinking of? Booze is to be, if the plans go through, available virtually everywhere. If you want to get a snootful at the barber shop or movie house, you will be able to. That’s right. Businesses that have no connection with the purveying trade will, if they choose, make the ‘good stuff’ available. Now in grocery stores, that’s one thing. But if your lady is getting a bikini wax does she need a good belt to help the process go unstubbly?

I think not. I find it ludicrous. Drunk drivers kill people galore every year. “Hon’ I’m going for a haircut and I may end up getting shitfaced.” My question is, who the hell asked for this? Did anybody ever say, what this salon needs is a good bar? I somehow don’t thinks so. Or if they did, it may be an admission they have a problem.

In these Trumpian times the world has gone a bit mad, I think.

I’m far from being the best I can be, but as the Beatles sang: ‘I’m getting better all the time’

bestI etched this out a few years ago. Time to check in and see how I am doing.

Rules o’ life to be aspired to

 

  1. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears of past experiences. Ha. Not very successful in that regard. Not crippling but irritating. Spontaneity, how is that defined?
  2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. This is an aspect of me that has vexed all my life. I have had wonderful adventures through everything from travel to sex and a whole lot in between. Yet, I often feel I am not right in the moment. I can look at photos of say the Cook Islands, Hawaii or London and think that I was there and it was lovely, but did I get the full impact at the time. I can think of women I have ‘been with’ (a polite way of suggesting torrid intimacy) and the memories can be delicious, but did I fully appreciate the moment or moments? God. I hope so. Otherwise, what a waste
  3. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment. Ties in with the preceding item. But the point being, it is an ‘ability’. Have I learned to do so. I hope so – sorta, kinda. It’s a learning curve thing. It’s all about being ‘present in your life.

4. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others. They gonna do what they gonna do regardless of what you want so let it go. This one is tougher than it seems.

5. A loss of the ability to worry. Worry is an ‘ability? Who knew?

6. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation. We get into depressive episodes of dwelling on the negatives. I know I sure as hell do. Take the recent and hideous American election. Nothing I can do about Trump being the leading fuckpig of the known universe, so I extend my appreciation to the Obamas and their inspiration and that leaves me with hope for the world that there are others of their ilk.


7. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
I love a walk in the woods with my wife and dog. I adore my friends; some of them perhaps more than they know or more than I have told them.


8. Frequent episodes of smiling. I
smile a fair amount Smiling and laughter I do believe are good for the soul and mental health.


9. Letting things happen instead of forcing things to happen.
I have gotten better at this, I do believe.


10. A willingness to be vulnerable and show emotions.
I have always been vulnerable and emotional and I accept that. Latterly I have noticed that the cries of babies make me misty. I like that.


11. A giving and receiving of love without strings attached.
As the great Hank Williams said: “Unchain my heart and set me free”. And that’s what it’s all about – freedom.

Tricky-Dick was as dishonest as the day is long, but he was saintly compared with Trump

Richard NixonI once thought that Richard M. Nixon was the vilest person to hold the office of US president.

That was then. This is now. In comparison to the Trump-dump, old Tricky Dicky, he of the perpetual five-o’clock shadow, was a pussycat, a mensch. So I was wrong. I thought then that the US could not stoop lower. But now they have gone and stooped as low as is possible. If they can stoop lower then stop the world, I want to get off.

At one time ‘Tricky Dick’ declared “I am not a crook.” Pretty darn debatable. We all knew that. Even arch-rightist Barrie Goldwater ultimately concluded the bozo was indeed a crook. And as the story played out he was eventually turfed from the presidency.

I write these words out of bias. I detest Donald Trump. I revile everything about him. Nothing new in that. I have despised him for years. And no, I am not anti-capitalist. But I am also pro-honesty. He is a profoundly dishonest man. You know how you can just get an instant hate for certain people? Trump is one of those. I hate his bullying tones; I hate the way he looks; I hate his abusiveness. I never watched his disgusting TV shows in which some people – I guess – were entertained by his abuse of those he deemed inferior. The sad aspect of such a narcissist is that he didn’t recognize that in the eyes of decent folk he was inferior to the welfare ‘bum’ who panhandled on street corners.

There have been a number of US presidents during my time on the planet. Some IS liked. Some I disliked. I wasn’t hugely keen on the Bush clan (pere et fils) but they were saints compared with Trump. Surprisingly (perhaps) I thought JFK was overrated whereas LBJ was unfairly granted short-shrift. And Jimmy Carter was just too damn nice for a horrible job. A good man, but a kind of poor president. I am, however, a huge Obama supporter and have been from Day 1)

We carry on, I guess, with an elected swine who is as dishonest as the day is long and hope to survive. I send a message of love to my dear American friends.

If we’re going to show dirty stuff then let’s get dirty is all I’m saying

couple-making-out-in-car-dj3nacPhoto on a Facebook entry shows a woman seemingly in the throes of amour atop her male partner and, as somebody aptly pointed out, she is wearing a bra. Who does that at such an intimate moment? Nobody I have ever encountered.

Yet such modesty is still rampant in TV-land. This is akin to the regular depiction of the woman parting the bed after coupling and heading off to the loo, during which process she either wraps the sheet around herself or is inexplicably wearing panties. How did consummation take place, one would be well to ask.

While the cinematic world has become more honest and graphic in its depictions of what a lot of otherwise respectable people refer to as ‘fucking’, TV seems to have a long way to go in terms of getting real. And in that I don’t mean just real in terms of the wanton behaviours of rampant horndogs but also in terms of the behaviors of good God-fearing Baptist sorts who also doff all their duds when they are fulfilling their nuptial duties. Some of them may “ utter the odd dirty word when it gets good, as long as they are not blasphemous words. I don’t know if “Oh God!” at a high point qualifies as blasphemy.

No, much of television, in lieu of being honest about sexuality, has lapsed instead into nudge-nudge innuendo, or rampant vulgarity. I hate vulgarity because it is suggesting that broadcasters and the people who make this stuff still think human sexuality is a kind of icky thing and must be regarded with an excess of juvenile humor. Juvenile humor is a misstatement because it is rarely humorous, just juvenile.

By television here I am referring to regular network stuff, by the way. I know that HBO and other ‘pay per view” options are more frank and candid as pertains to full frontal nudity (complete with naughty bits) and graphic sexuality. All of which means it’ll cost you money to see the spicy stuff, and therefore you just may as well porn-surf.

I also notice that UK productions aren’t quite so nicey-nicey, and that can be rather satisfying since British production values and writing are usually superlative.

This left us in North America a couple of years ago with the sluttly pseudo-sexuality of a Miley Cyrus – who is a smart little minx since she knew her fakery would get all the neo-puritans cranked up and maybe secretly turn them on. It seems to be either Miley or coupling with vampires.

In conclusion I can only say the inclusion of undies in scenes of sexual behavior only indicate to me that a lot of people are not comfortable with their sexuality.

What a pity. It’s really rather fun.