Monthly Archives: February 2013

Twins are a little more than mere lookalikes

Twins_2004Now, if you are part of a matched-set please don’t take umbrage and my words herein, I mean no offence.

But what I want to say is that I have always found the twin thing to be odd. Nothing odd about twins themselves, but the idea of having a live-in doppelganger right from birth must be weird. And it is something about which all us non-twins can never empathize.

What must it be like to have somebody else who looks (and acts, to a degree at least) exactly like oneself? I have enough trouble with just me alone, so I’d hate to think there was another of me.

As we know, there are two types of twins; fraternal and identical. I am referencing identicals here. Fraternals are, to me, just very close siblings who happened to share a pre-nativity bath in mom. But it’s identicals that cause confusion. They cause confusion because they begin their existence as the same damn person and then ultimately become Frick and Frack. Yet they maintain profound similarities and even psychic connections in their lives.

I’m not about to go out on any sort of limb clinically or psychologically here and offer anything resembling science about the matter. In lieu I’ll offer some random thoughts on those who live a deux.

–         Elvis was a twin His identical, Jesse, was stillborn. Somebody once suggested that Jesse didn’t die at all and all the Elvis sightings after EP’s death was old Jesse going around presenting himself as his late brother. Wanted a brief time in the sun for himself.

–         A favorite sexual fantasy among some is the idea of a ménage-a-trois-a-deux, as in making it with a set of twins at the same time. This is the sort of fantasy usual harbored by somebody who rarely gets to make it with one person, and therefore shouldn’t be so picky and greedy.

–         Twins have amazing ESP, according to some authorities and will know instinctively if something negative has happened to their twin.

–         Twins will often share congenital diseases (which makes sense in that they started out with the same DNA and still have it). They can also share psychological disorders and addictions like alcoholism even if they aren’t in contact with each other.

–         While the death of a sibling is always and unpleasant happenstance, for a twin it’s agonizing because, in effect, half of the remaining twin has gone.

We once went out to dinner with a colleague of Wendy’s. He had his two adolescent daughters in tow since his wife was away. The girls were identicals. I mean, really identicals. Finish my sister’s sentences kind of identicals. They reminded me ever so much of the giggling pale-faced girl twins on the Simpson’s, except for the fact they were Indo-Canadian and therefore weren’t so pale of face. They giggled relentlessly and you knew they were sharing some huge inside joke that I as a spectator would never be privy to. They also boasted IQs of about 210 and both were planning on following the same academic path which would see them attending Harvard two years past that point. And they would no doubt do well. Those girls made Sheldon Cooper appear a bit challenged.

I had a few twin sets when I was teaching school and we got into some good discussions about the psychic interconnections. In one case, and sadly, one of the twins was schizophrenic and would go off on extensive walkabouts and cause huge angst for his parents. However, his twin was often able to deduce where he was and he would be returned home unharmed.

My brother’s best friends when he was a kid were identical brothers. If only one were to arrive at the door I had no idea which one it was. It was only when the two were together I could actually tell them apart.

When I was about 13 I developed a mad crush on a girl named Donna who was half a twin set, but not on her identical sister, Brenda. Never figured that one out and why I saw them as being different, but they were to me.

And that’s about it for my twin lore. Would love to hear any twin tales you might have.

–          

 

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I don’t often get angry ‘cos you wouldn’t like it if I got angry

velma1Me, I don’t like feeling burned. That doesn’t make me unique. But when it happens I am often nonplused at having fallen victim to somebody else’s ineptitude.

 In this case it involves a hostelry. It involves a place that advertises itself as a resort and spa. And it is those things, and it’s beautifully situated on the water and it should be, in a word ‘idyllic’ as a getaway from the cares of life.

 It should have been. It wasn’t.

 It sucked.

The place in question is a few miles south of here in the waterfront town of Parksville. It’s not the one that is off in the woods and boasts cute little cottages and a superlative restaurant. It is another one in the same community.

We arrived at their front desk on Friday evening. My dear wife had booked a weekend getaway in celebration of my birthday. It was a lovely, sweet and loving gesture and she was quite pumped about it.

We had no idea what was to ensue. We have traveled extensively throughout North America, Hawaii, the South Pacific and Europe. And I can honestly say we have never had an experience to match this for inefficiency and general outrage. Never have either of us experienced such mismanagement of a vacation property, nor such insults to the visitor: the paying guests.

We arrived around dinnertime on Friday. We went to sign in at the desk, as one does. They smiled. They were gracious and then they informed us that the restaurant would not be available for guests that night or the next one.

WTF?

Seems there were ‘functions’ happening both nights and it seems that the actual paying guests of the place were of secondary importance.

We were miffed but, like the mature people we are, we sucked it up and we headed up into town to find a place to eat. And we did and it was OK.

We then got back to the place and found there was no parking available in the underground parking. It was advised we attend the ‘overflow’ parking area off on a chunk of puddle-ridden gravel a few hundred yards away. By then I was getting majorly cranky with the place. Those attending the ‘functions’ had been given parking priority over hotel guests. WTF? was repeated a little more heatedly.

We entered the lobby and had to almost literally push our way through the assemblage of loud and borderline obnoxious people who were there for a ‘wine tasting’ of sorts. Most of them seemed awfully young and very un-connoisseur-like. Badly-dressed dudes and slutbunnies in their ‘ho’-motif dresses all of whom were singularly loud. Yes, I’m being gratuitous insulting about this multitude because I was pissed off and they were the ones who kept the restaurant from being open and who nabbed all the parking spots.

But wait, that’s not all. Weary from all the traipsing around and feeling a teeny bit piqued we settled into our room. Good for about a half hour. Then suddenly it seemed that Black Sabbath had moved to the suite above us and decided to entertain us full volume. The music was accompanied by a screaming gaggle of filthy mouthed young females (see illustration above) out on the balcony that screamed, yelled and told the world what they were planning to do with their genitals that night.

Wendy, who had planned this all especially for my birthday, had reached the end of her tether. Herself marched down to the front desk and told them that we had reached zero-tolerance stage and reiterated the indignities that we, paying guests, had been forced to endure, including loss of restaurant, shit parking in the back-and-beyond and now the roar of a rock concert by failed musicians above us. She told them to book us a room at that ‘other’ place with the quaint cottages and a restaurant actually available to guests. They in response suggested that perhaps a reduction of our tab would be in order. Wendy informed them it had nothing to do with the money.

They finally agreed to move us to a suite in the penthouse that they guaranteed would be quiet.

It was but celebratory birthday weekend was left dampened.

I will say that the staff of the place was invariably gracious and pleasant.

But will further say that the management of the same place absolutely reeks.

My final caveat would be, don’t stay there even if it means you have to sleep on the beach in lieu. I know we won’t go back.

 

Judge not lest ye be judged — yeah, right.

judgejudyJudge not lest ye be judged,” goeth the Biblical admonition. Wow, just like following all of the Ten Commandments to the letter (I know I’m not supposed to covet my neighbor’s ass, but she’s so damn cute – Oh, you mean her ‘donkey’, well that’s not so difficult), it’s a tall order, human nature being what it is.

The truth of the matter is, we all judge much of the time. In fact, our whole social fabric, not to mention our system of jurisprudence is based on judgment of others. I mean, we have people called ‘judges’ whose role is to ‘judge’ their fellows. Judges aren’t ordained by God, either (though some appear to believe they are), but originate in the temporal realms of a lot of sycophantic ass-kissing, voting in the prescribed manner, and having very little conscience one way or the other.

Do I unfairly malign judges? Probably. Just a judgment call on my part, I guess, and perhaps not so unfair.

But, you know how it goes. Some absolutely nefarious knave or knave-ette who can afford to hire the best legal assistance and who has good connections is either given a walk or sent to a cushy club-fed for a brief stay; or, on the other hand, a poor sap with no good connections gets an interminable sentence for a minor infraction.

But, that’s how judgment goes.

“I wanted to be a judge, but I didn’t ‘ave the Latin. I didn’t ‘ave the Latin for the judgin’ so I went down the mines instead,” sayeth the brilliant Peter Cook years ago in Beyond the Fringe. Not needed here, but I always loved the lines.

Anyway, like Jimmy Swaggart, I too am a sinner. I have indeed sinned. I judge and likely will continue to judge my fellows. Bet you do, too. I bet the Dalai Lama does. I’ll wager he’s had the odd negative thought about the Chinese government and its policies. Will we all burn in Hell? Hope not because it will be a mighty highly populated place if that’s the case. Maybe we’ll just be sent to ‘Heck.’

Here’s who I judge:

– the oozingly politically correct. The fussbudgets who deem their lives to be so perfect that they feel it is their bounden duty to take simple pleasures away from others.

– Those in the ‘entertainment’ field who suffer under the delusion that life is not vile and vulgar enough and must carry on further in the direction of utter tastelessness.
– Those who believe implicitly that racism and bigotry are confined solely to people of northern European extraction and those of such extraction must all feel guilty. Virtually every culture on the planet has its share of bigots.

– Judicial systems that subscribe to the theory that punishment must revolve exclusively around rehabilitation and that there must be no room for that very human need for retribution.

– In similar context, those who believe a mere apology is sufficient punishment for any crime or transgression.

– The dishonest (in a host of areas) that call upon friends to cover for them, in the name of friendship. I say, in the name of friendship: ‘Screw you.”

– Child molesters.

– Spousal abusers.

– Sexual assailants.

– Those who would be cruel to animals.

– Trophy hunters.

– Vandals.

– Graffiti daubers. They are not ‘artists’. Real artists do not defile the property of other people. You want to do public art, then be a pavement artist in chalk.

– Apologists for hideous regimes in foreign countries because such countries are such inexpensive places to vacation in.

– Litterers.

– Sports ‘so-called’ fans that boo the national anthems of other countries in international competitions, including hockey and baseball games.

– Abusive and perverted kids’ athletic coaches.

– Those of either sex who believe that sweat pants are acceptable garments to be worn in public places.

– In similar context, those who believe bluejeans and sweatshirts or T-shirts are quite OK to wear to a wedding, funeral, or fine-dining restaurant.

I think I could manage about 500 such items, but will refrain. I also judge those who go on and on interminably. So, come clean, who do you judge?

‘Omigod, it’s God! Now we’re in for it!’

godLet me open by saying I am not a particularly religious person in a church-going sense. I have my own spiritual beliefs, and they are profoundly held and cherished and they serve me well, and I have never felt I needed the interpretations of a person in a stiff collar to guide me along.

At the same time, when I was a small kid I went to Sunday school. Not necessarily willingly, but it was a demand that we all go to SS. I didn’t like the idea, and did an awful lot of screwing around, and was regularly exiled (excommunicated) and sat staring at the coats and galoshes in the hallway. That was OK. It wasn’t ‘real’ school, so there wasn’t much they could do in the punishment realm.

Later, it was expected that I be confirmed as an Anglican (Episcopalian) and take communion. I went through all the rigors, including memorizing the Apostles Creed and all of that stuff. And, I took communion – “Hey, you get to drink wine! How cool is that?” – possibly twice, but never again. I had fulfilled the formal familial theological obligation.

Also, at that time, in school each morning (this continued from first grade right through to graduation) we recited the Lord’s Prayer and had our daily scripture reading. Often New Testament and never Song of Solomon.

And, that was the way it went in those days. In many respects I’m sorry that it doesn’t still go that way. I’ll explain why. What it gave me (and many others of my generation) was the basics of our Judeo-Christian culture. Not so much to do with God, but to do with who we were and where we came from. Although I didn’t pay much attention, I picked the stuff up osmotically, I assume. At a later date I could read and understand Shakespeare, and I knew the metaphorical reasons why Faulkner titled one of his tales Absalom-Absalom.

Today, we live in a more culturally diverse society in North America and Western Europe. Many people of non Judeo-Christian heritage populate our lands. Nothing wrong with that. I am not a biased person and I like the presence of other cultures and interacting with them. At at times in my life I have pondered some of the tenets of Buddhism and love the meditations. Likewise, the basis of Taoism is “shit happens.” Can’t argue with the wisdom of that, either.

At the same time we’ve gone wrong along the way. As we listened to the PC fascists (school boards and administrations did especially) we decided that in the name of ‘inclusiveness’ our schools must become purely secular institutions and there must never-ever be references to that aforementioned JC connection. So, no Bible readings and no Lord’s Prayer. Consequently kids from non-churchgoing families would have no points of reference as to who they are and where they come from heritage-wise. It almost goes as far as to suggest they should be ashamed of their heritage.

Today, however, school administrators and teachers absolutely wet themselves in catering to the other ethnic groups. Sikh festivals and Islamic holy days and Chinese New Year are to be given full play, but don’t you be mentioning Christmas or Easter by name.

The sad point in this is that those other groups never ‘asked’ us to do this. They are happy to have Christians and Jews in their midst because they admire people of a spiritual bent, regardless of the origins of that spirituality.

But, to show you how terribly silly (and boneheaded) we have become. A few years ago in this area there was the opening of a new middle school. Lots of ceremonial stuff, including a spiritual smudging by elders of the local Native band. Nothing wrong with that. It’s colourful and fun. But, at that same time, can you imagine the uproar if a pastor or priest had come to bless the school? That would have been unacceptable.

We have in recent years been engaged in military and political conflict with elements of the Islamic world. What we fail to recognize is that these people, even if they are misinterpreting their own scripture, are vehemently religious people who ‘know’ the tenets of their faith. We don’t. We don’t know theirs, because we don’t even know ours.

This is yet another reason why I cringe a little bit for what is to come, and weep a bit for our culturally-corrupted children who actually believe a Justin Bieber or Rihanna are of any consequence in the world of their futures.

Maybe it all comes down to the fact that a horse is a horse — of course, of course

mr edI have only been astride a horse once in my life, back when I was about 14. As cherished memories go, that experience is not one of them.

I found it uncomfortable and a bit like a first date with someone you fancy, I wasn’t entirely sure how to proceed. And so I didn’t. And neither did my wary steed.

But, in so saying, I like horses very much. It soothes me to see horses in a meadow and I like when they see one and wander over to the fence go chat. I chat with them. I don’t necessarily whisper but do ask how their day is going.

So, in that I understand the absolute outrage of the Brits when they found their lasagna and other dishes contained a good quantity of gee-gee. That wasn’t right.

Fine for the French, puffed the residents of Blighty, but don’t be imposing dishes comprising Black Beauty on us. The French, as the English know, will eat anything questionable like snails and slugs and frogs, so why not horses?

We are pretty much like the English in that regard. Our relationship with the horse is different than it is with other animals. From the days of knights of old, the valiant horse has stood by us. We have a ‘relationship’ with horses, much as we do with dogs. We don’t eat dogs either. We’re emotionally selective in what we stuff in our greedy maws.

On Rarotonga one finds vast numbers of feral dogs. We were riding a little local bus and one of the tourist passengers asked the driver, a charming Maori named Dennis, why so many dogs. He explained that the Cook Islanders used to eat dog. And then when the missionaries arrived in the 1820s they put a stop to a practice that those men of God, mostly English, found disgraceful.

“Good thing they didn’t arrive when we were still indulging our earlier eating practices,” said Dennis, with a knowing wink. Seems their erstwhile nosh was something known in the South Pacific as ‘long pig’.

Anyway, the dogs were set free and they were left to roam untethered and unowned and seemingly perfectly happy, all of which seem quite agreeable in disposition.

And horses we regard in the same way. Horses are the aforementioned Black Beauty, and Trigger, and Silver, and Champion the Wonder Horse, Mr. Ed, of course, as well as Man-o-War, and all the horses that delivered our milk and veggies in olden times, and the sad horses we sent off into battle, with nearly as many dying on the Western Front in World War One as did men. Sad about them. I mean, sad about the men, too, but horses didn’t start the war or ask to be engaged in it.

And yes, I am selective in my biases, I know. But somehow horses are different. I’ll say I truly like cows and they make me feel peaceful, and a gamboling lamb is a sight to enchant, and pigs are smarter than a lot of politicians of recent years.

Yet I eat bits of all of the above. I might become vegetarian if I could make an exception for bacon. Yet pigs equal bacon.

Some cultures have no problem with prime rib of cheval. I do. It’s all about culture, however, rather than moral outrage.

Might just as well get on with it, then

maggieI have a birthday coming up next week.

No, please, please hold the applause. And mainly, as time goes by, the best thing I can say about having a birthday is that it’s better than the alternative. I think about that kind of stuff a lot by my age.

At the moment I cannot understand where all the time has gone, but it has gone and you can’t get it back. If you are younger than I am, and many of you are, then heed the wisdom of carpe diem and if you want to do ‘something’ (preferably legal because time in prison is time really badly wasted) then do it. You may not get another chance.

That’s a bit of conventional wisdom I wish I’d paid more attention to and that perhaps always opting for the conventional, and safe, and approved route wasn’t always the best for me. I know that now.

Do I have regrets? Oh, a few hundred of them. But, as I reflect, I also had moments of moderate glory and even genuine fulfillment. My domestic track-record hasn’t been great, but it has indeed been ‘interesting’ and generally I don’t resent the way it panned out. It was, shall I say, ‘diverse’. “Now, who did you say you were?” That last bit isn’t true. I’m really a lot more caring than that.

At times I think I was maybe too caring and looked out for the feelings of others ahead of my own well-being on this planet. And at other times I was a thoughtless prick. Now, who can’t say that? Be honest.

I was just reading an article that made reference to the fact there is a huge boomer generation – geezers triumphant in culture, or some such – and it was pointed out that filmmakers have recognized that there is an audience that isn’t enchanted by vampires, (badly) revamped fairy tales, or comic books on the big screen, but that wants to see some of their own kind telling tales and living their lives, and rather than vapid looking female waifs whose names I can never remember and whom all look exactly the same, they want a Meryl Streep who is aging very nicely, thank you.

I like that. A few weeks ago we rented Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was replete with old farts of both sexes coming to grips with where they were in this universe and finding themselves. I enjoyed it immensely. I related, I must confess.

There are many prominent performers who reflect this demographic change, and I like it. Here are some particular favorites:

–         Dame Helen Mirren: Quite frankly she could turn down the comforter on my bed any day of the week.

–         Dame Judi Dench: Still hitting it big in the bond epics, and I loved her lovely husky voice and ‘cute’ demeanor in As Time Goes By on TV.

–         Dame Maggie Smith: For me there would be no Downton Abbey without this amazingly appealing actress and her character, Lady Grantham in the series. She reminds me of the fact, however, that age doesn’t always translate to charm. I didn’t care at all for the Shirley MacLaine episode and found her character charmless. But, to be honest, I found MacLaine relatively charmless at age 30. Old doesn’t necessarily translate to delightful.

–         Clint Eastwood. Made an idiot of himself during the election campaign, but I’ll still forgive him for the wonderful entertainments he’s provided and especially for The Unforgiven.

–         Morgan Freeman: Regardless of your ethnicity, wouldn’t you want him to be your uncle? I would.

And special kudos to Emmanuelle Riva who has been Oscar nominated for best actress for her lead in the film Amour. Mml Riva is 86.

Maybe I should get off my ass and do something more. Maybe there is still a goodly chunk of time. Or maybe not. I have no control over that.

Stuff doesn’t stick in my craw like it used to

deadlikeme_06_134211907302I think I’ve reached the point where I’d rather stop raging against much of what I see around me. It’s a waste of time and energy.

George Carlin once mused that he had reached a certain mellowness about life at age 70 and decided then he wasn’t going to waste energy any longer by screaming invective at the shit-headedness he saw around himself. I like that attitude. It comes close to suggesting ‘wisdom.’ George Carlin, became a Wise Man rather than just being a wiseguy.

I think I’m going to work in that direction. would like that. I state in my blog profile about working to be a full-fledged curmudgeon. I don’t know that I want to do that any longer. It’s pointless and stressful. I’d like to be mellow of the type of mellowness that comes from no longer giving a damn about things I cannot change. I think I want to be Morgan Freeman (he seems mellow) rather than Lewis Black
Each morning I pick up the newspaper and I read something that pisses me off. In fact, I often read many things that piss me off. But, why expend energy on such negative thoughts? The world has always been ruled by assholes, so why did I think that would change during my lifetime? And, my rages and shaking of the fist haven’t made any fools mend their ways, so I think I’ll settle into a shrugging “oh well, WTF?.”

So, in that context, I have made a list of things I will no longer care about. Included in that list will be such former sources of concern as:

Rampant Political Correctness (or, when in doubt, use a euphemism): Way too many examples of this, such as the social-worker type woman who, in reference to a report I once authored on homelessness in my community, was displeased when I referred to the hardcore homeless as, well, ‘hardcore’. She didn’t like that. She wanted me to substitute ‘chronic’ homeless. I was going to point out that the adjectives are synonymous, but I refrained. Why argue with a moron? So I ignored the boneheadedness of the woman and that felt almost better than sex.

Ethnic sucking-up and Europhobia: Nothing that the white guys did after coming to North America was good. It was all evil and destructive of indigenous cultures. Well yeah, a lot of it was, and some of it wasn’t. But, history is the tale of a stronger group of folk quelling the aspirations of a weaker group of folk. May not have been very fair but shit happens.

Latterly there has been a great embracing of aboriginal culture in this country. Nothing wrong with that. Native Canadians got short shrift all over the place. But, nowhere has this become more apparent than with the feelgood brigade (and politicians who will seek a vote wherever they can) wanting to change place names to the ones that sit better with the native population. In other words, well over 90 percent of the population should defer to less than 10 percent of the population all in the name of some sort of ‘niceness’ that will maybe make those same people forget about being dumped off their land, having their children apprehended by the state and maybe disregarding the effects of such pinnacles of western culture as sugar and alcohol, or a Biblical interpretation that told them they were heathens and their beliefs were evil and pagan.

No, we’ll just change place names and Natives will be happy. Just so darn easy and nobody really has to address what maybe should be addressed. You know, some of the Idle No More big picture issues. So, Georgia Strait bacame the Salish Sea in the latest incarnation of this nonsense. Well, in the first place this is ultimately going to piss off all the non-Salish aboriginals in thee area, and secondly, it’s Orwellian historical manipulation.

Fine, thought I, do what you wish but be assured that to me it will always be Georgia Strait and I will never refer to it as anything else. Much as the Queen Charlotte Islands are to me the Queen Charlotte Islands, not Haida Gwai. If the Haida people want to call it that, it’s no skin off my nose. They can call the place ‘Fred’ if they choose, for all the difference it makes to me.Hey, I’m still having problems with metric.There’s only so far I can go.
In that context, I live in a place called Comox, which is the name of the native inhabitants in the area. I am quite content with Comox, and if somebody decided they want to change it to New Winchester, or something equally anglocentric, I’d be just as irritated.

Other people’s health: Item in the paper yesterday noting that there are now more tubboes in the world than starving people. Fatness is the new ‘famine’ and our obsession with our excessive avoirdupois has almost surpassed cigarettes as the great health evil of the known universe. Get this straight, folks, I don’t care if you want to take in 80,000 calories a day. It’s none of my business. Just don’t be sitting next to me next time I ride on an airplane. In other words, people make their own health choices and if they want to knock off three bottles of booze, a half carton of cigarettes and 2 chocolate cakes on a daily basis, why do I care? Honestly, I don’t.

Whoopee, we’re all gonna die: Of something. Disease, accident, crime, warfare, or maybe even our own stupidity. Regardless of how we look at it, life is a terminal disease.

         
There, doesn’t that make you feel better to know the Reaper always awaits regardless?