Monthly Archives: November 2011

Ultimately I realized fame demanded more than horn-rimmed glasses

When I was a kid I was bespectacled (I used to confuse that word with ‘bespeckled’, but I just wore glasses, I wasn’t spotty). It’s a horrible thing to have to wear glasses around the time hormones are starting to rage and I wanted to look like a combo of Elvis and James Dean, not like Arnold Stang.

But, glasses I was stuck with in order to correct what was known as a ‘cast’. That meant that I, especially when tired. would go rather crosseyed. So then my choices were either Arnold Stang or old silent film actor Ben Turpin. Sucks to be a kid who just wanted to be cool. Of course, I had no way of knowing then that my idolized J. Dean was hugely myopic and wore specs in his off hours. If only I’d known.

And then Buddy Holly arrived on the pop music scene. And not only was he good and immensely talented, he became a pop icon in short order — and the sucker wore glasses! I believe I was finally born just a few months before “the day the music died”. That good old boy from Lubbock became my personal hero. Well musically and creatively he was sans pariel for the day — but mainly he wore glasses! Initially he donned kind of dweeby looking two-tone frame things like a science teacher would wear, but he ultimately opted for very cool looking horn rims.

I begged and pleaded with my parents to get me some of those. Ultimately (which was entirely unlike them) they relented. I got the glasses and kids started commenting on how much I looked like Buddy Holly. I didn’t think I did, but if looking like Buddy was going to get me laid by my own Peggy Sue, what cared I.

I regret to add, as an aside, the glasses did not do the trick in the carnal regard. Somehow I needed more than glasses, like a boss car and a lot of money. I had neither. Just glasses.

And eventually I got tired of the Buddy Holly comparisons. Especially true after his sadly untimely death. At the same time, my ‘cast’ repaired, I was able to shuck my ‘four-eyes’ accoutrement and look out at the world through what God gave me. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 40s that age changes demanded I get ‘readers’ and that is still all I need.

But, Buddy and I did share a moment of time many years ago, and for that I am grateful for both his talent and his visage.

And I still love his music.



Motor madness in the land of the Nordic fiends

I read the other day that the Chinese have made a bid for the Saab Motor Company, and entity that has been in dire straights for quite a while. That seems like an odd cultural juxtaposition to me, but what can you expect with a company that sticks two vowels in a row in its name.

Have they ever considered that might be part of the problem. How would Ford have done if it had called itself ‘Foord?’ OK, this is getting to be a waste of time.

I’m not going to belabor Saabs too much longer other than to say I have one lovely Saab memory. Way back in 1976 my then wife and I were making a little rural train trip in England, from Exeter to Barnstaple in North Devon Our destination was the tiny fishing village of Appledore whence we had booked a cottage for a week.

Sharing our compartment was a rivetingly beautiful young woman who looked like actress Julie Christie’s baby sis. I fell immediately in love with her and remain so to this day. No, that last part’s not true. Anyway, when we got to Barnstaple we needed to get a ride to continue on our way. I asked Miss (sigh) beauty if there was a bus service. She said her brother was to be picking her up and she was certain he’d be happy to give us a ride. Indeed he was. He drove a Saab. Nice car. All I have to say about Saabs.

My main topic here is that other Svenska car, the Volvo. Well, to give Saab credit, at least its silly name hasn’t been the subject of lewd jokes like Volvo’s has. But that’s beside the point.

I’ve noticed that Volvos have sexed themselves up of late. They’re pretty spiffy looking cars now. Nice to see them having their mojo back. They used to have it back when they looked like mini ’48 Fords. My brother had one. It was a great car. But then Volvo went boxy and clunky for decades. The Volvo stationwagon became the ultimate schoolteacher car. Sane and safe and hideously unimaginative. I won’t say those traits suit the personalities of a lot of teachers. I’ll leave that up to you. Why should I be the one pilloried?

Now, the much vaunted safety aspect of the Volvo is not hyperbole. They really are ridiculously safe. I once went and took a press photo of a Volvo that had been hit by a train. The front end was sheared off at the windshield. The elderly inhabitants of the car — perhaps retired school teachers, who knows? — were utterly unharmed. After we ran the photo the Volvo company contacted me to ask if they could use the pic in an advert.

On another occasion, when I was living in England in the early 1980s an accident on the highway right near our house involved a Volvo and a dump truck in a head-on. The trucker hit has brakes so hard to avoid the impending collision that the truck literally ripped up blacktop. The lady driving the Volvo was pinned under the dashboard and in a normal car she’d have been a goner. In the Volvo she escaped with some bad bruising. Commendable, to be sure.

But, they still weren’t very sexy cars in my esteem. Consequently, I never hankered after one. indeed, except for my brother’s ancient one, I’ve never driven one. I think I am too insecure about my presence in the world to drive a vehicle that is preternaturally unsexy.

But, as I said, the image has now changed. I assume Volvos are still safe, but they look pretty neat now that they’ve lost the boxiness.

According to what I’ve read, their place in the dorkmobile universe has now been taken by Subaru.

Nothing wrong with a little re-invention

I don’t have too much on my plate today. Just finished sending off a couple of freelance stories, so what I think I’ll do is take a few minutes to re-invent myself. Be patient. It won’t take too long.

“All seriousness aside,” as the late Steve Allen used to say — and if you’re not familiar with Mr. Allen all I can say is that you missed one of the great wags of all time.

No, truly, and to be serious, after a certain amount of soul-searching (I liked some of the trash I found in the basement of my soul, but really detested some of the other crap) I concluded I wanted to move in a different direction with this blogging venture. This isn’t in a desire to attract more traffic — despite the fact my level of traffic has become profoundly sucky — but to fulfill myself a little more. In other words, if you find my blog entertaining or even enlightening on occasion, I am delighted. But, mainly I write it to explore some aspects of my fevered mind. I did the same when I wrote my column in years gone by.

Anyway, what I wanted to explore was an aspect of my creativity that I haven’t been able to put my finger on. As I have said before (I believe) I once was a cartoonist. I was even a newspaper cartoonist for a while. But, even more than that, from the time I was a very young child, I drew cartoons — always, chronically, pathologically, obsessive-compulsively. My cartoons took me outside of my reality, and sometimes my reality in childhood was more like The Simpsons (minus the humor) than Leave It To Beaver.

I continued to cartoon throughout my adult life. I did my ‘professional’ cartoons, and I did my self-fulfilment cartoons. I’d sit and watch TV and be drawing at the same time. It was compulsive. I have hundreds and hundreds of them in boxes in the garage.

And then one day it stopped. I just quit. It was around about the time I took up with the woman who became my second wife. Well, to be frank, in those torrid early days, we were compulsively occupied elsewhere (not to put too fine a point on it). But, even when the fervor died down, I didn’t take up cartooning again. It was weird. I still knew how to do it, but I had no compulsion to go there. And I haven’t had the compulsion since that time in the mid 1990s. I am in no way blaming my ex for the change. The change was within me.

So, my revelation in re-inventing myself is that I want to get back to it. To see if it still has allure. To see indeed if I can still do it. I don’t want to be the person I was back then, but I’d like to figure out what happened.

So, my decision is, I want to (on a sporadic basis) illustrate my blogs. Others do it — some extremely well — so why not me? I have the skill set still.

So, this one includes a cartoon I did years ago in the Christmas season back then. But, I’ll produce some new ones periodically. I hope you enjoy. I hope I do.

I think I’m going through a ‘passage’. Do you want to come an lend a hand? I’ll be ever so grateful

If there is a single truism about life, it is that it is always mutable. Changes take place and we can do nothing about them. The test is how we handle them.

Last evening Wendy and I had an interesting conversation pertaining to where ‘I’ am in the grand scheme of my life. It pertained to something that has long been an ambition of mine. An ambition that has yet to see fruition.

You see, I have always wanted to have a book authored by me published. This is something that has been a kind of quest since my early 20s. I have wanted to publish something between actual covers for a number of reasons.

  1. I sincerely believe I have something to say.
  2. I think I’m as good a writer as the next shmo who actually does get stuff published.
  3. I have earned a living as a writer for many years. OK, journalist – but that’s writing, right?
  4. Vainglory.

OK, primarily four reasons.

At the current time I have been working on two manuscripts. I also have a third one. I have been editing and have been going through the usual psychological process which usually includes such self-doubts as: “What a piece of shit. How dare I think I can impose this on others.” My agonies are generally compounded when I make the mistake of reading ‘good’ writers and therein I am left with such thoughts as: “She/he expressed this so brilliantly. Why can’t I express things equally brilliantly? How dare I (again)?”

I mean, maybe my stuff is OK. Maybe I just can’t help but regard it with a jaundiced eye. I mean, I look at some other (published) stuff and wonder how such people found publishers. Does it involve sexual favors granted to agents? I can be bought. Really.

Then, as we chatted, Wendy – as is her way – asked some hard questions. I hate it when she does that. She asked, for example:

–         Am I certain that I really do want to have a book published?

–         If I do want a book published, why am I not getting out there and jobbing my respective MSs?

–         Why do I want to publish a book?

–         Wouldn’t it be nicer to maybe let writing go for a while (since the process seems to depress me so much) and devote my leisure to painting, which doesn’t seem to depress me? Painting doesn’t depress me mainly because I don’t give a damn whether people like a piece of work or not mainly because I do it for me and to work on techniques.

–         Have I maybe left that stage of my life behind and my recalcitrance is perhaps based on the fact that publication is no longer the quest that it once was?

–         Why do I want to have a book published?

Maybe it is all vainglory. I like to think it’s because I have something to say, and mere vanity seems odious, somehow. And then with fame would come, of course, moolah (in Canada? As a published writer?). OK, scratch the big bucks part. How about groupies? Don’t famed writers have groupies? Salinger had this silly young girl who literally camped out at his place. That could be interesting. I didn’t tell Wendy about that part of the motivation.

And maybe it’s just a matter of posterity. I would be thrilled if my grandfather, say, had been, oh, Mark Twain (but not Ernest Hemingway), for example. Wouldn’t I want my grandchildren to have that? Well, if I actually had children so that I could have grandchildren.

I don’t know, at the end of the day. Is this all just a stage that is reflective of the aging process? You know, like giving up aspirations of wanting to have a relationship with every female I’ve ever fancied. Well, marriage sort of put an end to that, as did common sense and the rigors of not having the libido of a 17-year-old dude any longer. And I know I’ll like never own a Rolls or winter in the South of France.

But (and I’m serious) do you think I should give it up and give myself an emotional rest, or should I still seek publication? Are you a reputable publisher? Do you want to publish me? Just asking.



This is way better than the other one — trust me. Or, a bit of a life, if you will


This was sent my way by one of my favorite bloggers, Dumdad (aka Julian) in Paris. A fellow scribe and a person with whom I have a most agreeable connection. Anyway, it is (yes) another meme, but one that is vastly superior to that lame thing I imposed on you a while ago. This one actually demands considerable thought and analysis if you want to do it as it should be.

It originates with a French TV showed that is compered by a guy named Bernard Pivot, but the same questions are asked by the sometimes tiresome James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio on Bravo on this side of the Atlantic. Give it a whirl.

1.           What is your favorite word? Salubrious


2.          What is your least favorite word? Snot


3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Love, passion, freedom of spirit, sexual arousal, having a romantic crush, free time, liberty, rest, etc. etc. etc. etc.


4. What turns you off? Anger, insecurity, rejection, loss of love, depression, fear, self-loathing etc. etc. etc. etc.


5. What is your favorite curse word? “Fuck”, I am not ashamed to admit. It fulfills a myriad of functions, some of them profane, some of them merely exclamatory, and some actually quite agreeable.


6. What sound or noise do you love? The surf of a tropical sea or the current flow of a river or stream provided I don’t need to pee. And the sound of an owl in the wee small hours of the morning.


7. What sound or noise do you hate? An alarm clock; the grinding of gears; somebody vomiting.


8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Many, actually, none of which I am going to actually indulge at this stage of my life. But, in earlier incarnations I thought I’d like to be, in no particular order, an architect, a marine biologist, a psychotherapist, a detective, a forensics person, a hobby farmer, an academic (even though I find most academics to be unjustifiably arrogant sods), a professional artist/illustrator (of the latter I was only quelled by sheer laziness, I believe), a Hawaiian surfer, and many other possibilities. On the other hand, in my life I have been (or continue to be in some cases) a millhand, a high school teacher, a journalist/editor, a freelance writer (wherein I’ve met and interviewed some awfully interesting people), an editorial cartoonist and a counselor. So, not bad in all.


9. What profession would you not like to do? A miner of any type. The concept of working underground is hideous to me and I admire immensely those who are able to do it.


10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Surprised?”




Politics and I make strange bedfellows; but so do Scarlett Johansson and I, much to my chagrin


I’ve never run for public office. This revelation may surprise you. No, not really, but what might surprise you is that I’ve actually been asked in the past. I won’t elaborate on the circumstances.

But, I have never even remotely considered running for office for about 3,798 reasons (approximately). But, I think my primary reason is I don’t like people to be mad at me. If I were actually elected to office then I would go around trying to please everybody. You know, sort of like Obama.  Doesn’t really work.

Maybe it’s better to be like Nixon and have everybody think you’re a completely unrepentant shit. But then you’d have to see that stubble in the mirror every morning and also be married to Pat of the unwavering tightlipped semi-smile.

Anyway, I come to this topic because today is local election day. I feel a small sense of jubilation only in the sense that tomorrow will be the first non-election day in a while and that evokes a sense of relief.

Now, this being a relatively small community and me having been in the media biz for more years than I’d care to remember – no, really, I still can actually remember how many and that’s a relief, I just don’t ‘care’ to remember – I know a lot of the candidates personally and a goodly number of the boys and girls are seemingly honorable folk. I don’t agree with all of them philosophically or even in terms of their skill-sets, but no crooks or gangsters seem to be in their numbers. This isn’t provincial politics, after all. And don’t get me started on the feds.

What has thwarted me from being a political aspirant is twofold: one, I bore easily and when you have to get into stuff like budgets and so forth (actually, I wish a few more ‘successful’ politicians would get into budgets in terms of developing some understanding of money-in/money-out, but that’s just me), and two, I’m kind of philosophically eclectic. You see, I don’t subscribe to any one belief set.

(By the way, the accompanying photo of Scarlett J is entirely gratuitous but sort of ties in with the title of this piece)

In terms of social ills, I am the soppiest, wettest, most sympathetic bastard on the planet. “Let me put my hand on your head and heeeaaal you, brother. Praise Jaysuss!” Mrs. Thatcher would have hated me. But in other realms, in terms of social responsibility I am big on bringing back the lash for miscreants and scofflaws. Especially those that would disturb my sleep with loud motorcycle pipes. See, inconsistent.

Actually, there is a further element that keeps me from politics, and that is that I abhor meetings, and it seems that politicians – the successful ones –- have to go to a whale of a lot of meetings.

There are, of course, always allegations of graft and corruption as ascribed to policies. So, if I got into that I’d be a failure too. I don’t lie so good. And all they’d have to do is get Wendy to interrogate me in any investigation – and she would give me ‘that look’ and use ‘that tone of voice’ – and I’d be off to join Bernie Madoff.





This is me today. How do you like me? Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better

This is one of ‘those’ things that I haven’t done in a long while, and perhaps neither have you. The questions were sent my way ages and ages ago and I’ve finally gotten around to responding. Some are a bit fatuous, others can provoke a slight modicum of thought. Please feel free to join in the party and post your own answers to the following.

The Following:
1. Does anyone know your passwords beside yourself? I suspect Wendy does, though she’d never say. That’s OK, I have nothing to hide. I crossed my fingers when I wrote that. Oh, and probably half a million hackers and other Internet vermin.
2. What was the last thing you ordered at McDonalds? I can’t recall. I rarely go to fast-food joints. Let’s say a sausage McMuffin, OK?.
3. Are you an emotional person? Far too emotional for my liking, though I rarely show it.
4. Do you like your middle name? Not much, since it’s the same as my father’s first name. On the other hand, it is the same as the last name of the character  Mel Gibson portrayed in Braveheart – “Scots wha hae, etc. …” I didn’t mind that until Gibson showed the world what a Jewbaiting creep he was last year.
5. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes I do. That hasn’t always been a good thing as experience has shown. Actually, I can fall in love more rapidly than the dropping of that proverbial hat..
6. Does the person you like, know that you like them? Puleeze, I’m married and I’ll say no more than that.  What are we with this question — 15?
7. What was the last thing you did? Went to visit a dear friend to give her a birthday card..
8. Wherefore art thou, number 8? Eight to the bar. An old swing term. I don’t really know what it means but you can hear it expressed in the Andrews Sisters’ Boogie-Woogie-Bugleboy.
9. Who was the last person you ate with? Wendy..
10. What song are you listening to right now? Absolutely nothing other than the earworm playing in my head. Though I do like music and always have it on in the car..
11. How’s the weather right now? Slightly overcast and too chilly for my liking..

12. Last person who called you? Some telemarketing turd.

 13. Last lie you told? I rarely lie. Though I will make an effort to preserve somebody’s feelings. “Does this sweater accentuate my bust too much?” “Oh, good God no.

14. Last song you sang? I don’t remember. This morning’s shower was too long ago.
 15. Do you love anyone? Of course I do. My wife, a few friends (male and female), my brothers, and a couple of secret inamoratas who shall go nameless. Hey, I am a very loving person.
16. Lost a friendship over something stupid? A couple of marriages, but never a friendship that I can recall. I may be wrong.
17. Last thing you drank? A cup of good strong dark coffee.
18. Last thing you ate? A bowl of oatmeal at brekkie.
19. Where do you wish you were? Somewhere warmer; Kauai, a French sidewalk café, Palm Springs, San Diego, looking out over the Norfolk Broads, having lunch with my cousin Angie in a nice café in lovely Bath. Otherwise here will do.
20. Faked being sick to miss school? Rarely. My old ma had a keen bullshit detector. Later faked flu when I was hungover. Glad those days are gone.
21. What time did you wake up today? Far too early. Before the little hand was on 5.
22. Last person you talked to in person? Lise, a dear friend to whom I gave that aforementioned card..
23. Last person who made you laugh? Probably Lise. We get along well..
24. What are you wearing right now? A sweatshirt and age jeans from Walmart.

25. What’s the first thing you notice about the opposite sex? You thought I was going to say either boobs or bum, didn’t you? I’m not saying I don’t notice those things, but in a physical realm, I am very much a ‘face’ man. If I like her face (and it needn’t be beautiful) then the rest fades into insignificance. But, what really sustains me are intelligence and sense of humor.
26. When I was 26 I had been teaching high school English and history for two years.
27. Where are you right now? At home, at my computer, obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing this.
28. What day and date is it? Thursday, November 12th 2011, if you are going by the western calendar. I used to follow the Aztec one but I found those big stone wheels difficult to attach to the kitchen wall. Anyway, I’m not to crazy about the world ending next year and all..
29. Did you go anywhere today? Out for coffee and out to give Lise her card.
30. What did you do there? What I said. Also stood in a park and watched Max and Lise’s little dog run each other ragged..
31. What else are you doing today? Finishing this; doing a little painting, walking Max. God that’s boring, I suppose.
32. Are you watching TV? Hardly.
33. Are you mature or immature? I like to think I’m mature. At times I am. At other times I can revert, and not always in a positive and fun-filled way. Other people seem to think I’m mature. More fool them.
34. Who are you closer to, your mum or your dad? Neither, since they’re both dead. However, I think I miss my dad more. Not a whole lot, but just a bit more. I haven’t spared many moments missing my mom. Kinda sad, but sometimes life’s like that.
35. When I was 35 I became a newspaper reporter. Didn’t love every moment of it, but I loved it enough that I was prepared (grudgingly) to accept the shitty rate of pay.
36. What school(s) did you go to? Douglas Road elementary, Kensington Jr. High, Burnaby Central High, Burnaby South High, University of BC.
37. What’s the most annoying thing people say to you? So, keeping out of trouble? I hate that, so I usually respond with, “I would be but your wife keeps calling me.” No, I don’t really, but I’d like to. Also, “Working hard or hardly working? Yuk-yuk.” Piss off.
38. Do you like music? Love it. All genres but rap and 99% of C&W. I make exceptions for Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. I haven’t kept very current since most ‘musical’ offerings today are atrocious. I make an exception for the wonderful Adele, about whom the hugely talented Jann Arden said “Thank you Jesus for Adele.” I also made an exception for the talented and tortured late Amy Winehouse.
39. Do you want to get married? Been there. Done that..
40. When I was 40 my ex-wife thought it would be a wonderful idea if she bought me a bicycle as a gift. It wasn’t a wonderful idea.
41. Where did you go on vacation last summer? To da Big Island of Hawaii. It was heavenly.
42. Would you bungee jump? Of course not. Nor do I skydive. I like keeping my undies clean.
43. Do you like rollercoasters? Only been on once, when I was 16. Glad I did it. Never have had any desire whatsoever to repeat the experience. But, I do like the ‘idea’ of rollercoasters. I don’t know why.
44. Is there anything you wish for every summer? Vacation and sunny benevolent weather.
45. Do you use chopsticks? Quite adeptly, thank you. I hate people who go to Asian restaurants and ask for a fork. That’s on a par with people who go to Olive Garden thinking they’re in an Italian trattoria.
46. What’s your favorite meal of the day? Breakfast. I could eat breakfast at all three meals.
47. Thinking of someone right now? Just you, dear reader, if there is one and thinking of you wondering how I posted this piece of shit. I’m asking myself that same question.

48. Concerned about life right now? Always. Too much..

49. Have you ever tripped going up the stairs? Hasn’t everyone? Worse for me is going downstairs and anticipating a further step that doesn’t exist.
50. What are you looking forward to this winter? For it to be over.

NOTE: Once I got this blog  in place I asked myself why I’d bothered. Oh well. Maybe a mark of maturity lies in recognizing an exercise that was mainly a time-waste. On the other hand, my painting went quite well today, so not all was lost. And now I know why I didn’t post it when it first came in my possession.