Monthly Archives: March 2013

In a patio-process and some final Easter thoughts

DSCN0298Max doesn’t quite understand that our new patio is ‘in process’. He thinks it’s quite splendid at the excavation stage.

And ‘in process’ we are. Our crappy old patio that we’d learned to loathe over the years is now gone and next week they will pour concrete for our brand spanking new all contoured and other fancy stuff patio that will be a bit more inviting than the slummy thing we finally eradicated.

Of course, with a major undertaking like this you realize there are disruptions in your life and you learn things like there is no point in vacuuming because the dog will track all things loamy through the house.  And it will be noisy. Machinery and stuff is like that. But, all in all it’s stimulating to anticipate the change.

Needless to say, a new patio will demand a new barbecue – I’ve been told. Our crappy old black relic will just not ‘do’ in the new venue. So, gone it shall be to be replaced with something all stainless steelish.

And that’s about it for the Piazza Lidster.

A few more thoughts about Easter:

etherDeep contemplation about this time of year left me with lingering questions about the celebration this weekend. Indulge me some musings that I didn’t cover in my last blog, if you please.

–         Why aren’t radio stations flooded with obnoxious Easter songs?

–         Why isn’t the marketplace tapping into this and selling bigtime via TV. Surely not all chocolate bunnies are big movers.

–         Why don’t we celebrate Easter Eve?

–         Why aren’t there mammoth sales on Easter Monday? Surely people could stock up on cut-rate baskets and paraphernalia for next year, and maybe pick up an i-Pad in the process.

–         Why don’t people put up Easter lights on their houses? You know, maybe in a purple and yellow motif. Not to mention an Easter wreathe on the front door.

We are in a time of shaky economy, all you movers of junk. Get to it and don’t let an annual event go to waste due to lack of public interest. Make the public interested. It can be bought.

Now, truly, have a Happy Easter!

 

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Can’t we at least try to do right by the season? Oh, and Happy Easter

handels-messiahOK, now here’s the thing. They always trot out Handel’s damn Messiah at Christmastime because it sounds all holy and inspirational and stuff.

And it does all of those things. But, scanning the papers of the last week and I haven’t seen a single mention of how some choir or other is going to be doing the Messiah for Easter.

It’s the epitome of the meaning of Easter. It’s an Easter song, damnit.

Just one of the things that sticks in my craw come Eastertime.

And, from a Christian perspective – ha, I should be discussing such matters, godless sod that I am – Messiahs of any stripe have nothing to do with Christmas — which actually wasn’t even celebrated until the birth of Bing Crosby – but they have ‘everything’ to do with Easter.

While I am not necessarily a subscriber to the tale, I do know that the concept of the resurrection is kind of pivotal and the Messiah is a celebration of that.

So, celebratory concert-stagers, smarten up!

Oh, and I should add, just in case you think I am writing out of spleen, not to mention philistinism, I actually love the music of the Messiah. I just want it to be in the correct season. Otherwise, it’s a bit like running a stage version of Easter Parade at Christmas.

Otherwise, Easter gets pretty shortchanged when compared with Christmas. You hardly ever hear of anybody ending up in the poorhouse due to overspending at Easter. When we were kids we regarded Easter as a sort of ‘Christmas-lite’ (even though the term ‘lite’ wasn’t around when I was a kid. You know, you got stuff. A silly little purple and yellow basket with baby chicks and a few chocolate eggs. Nothing heavy duty that would drive the folks into the poorhouse. And then we had ham for dinner, and that was about it.

Oh, and we were ‘forced’ to go to church and everybody was all cheery and the ladies wore nice hats, and even the old man got dragged out and pretended to be a stalwart Christian even though he hadn’t darkened a gothic doorway since the previous Easter.

faberge_egg2One thing that was good when I was a kid was the coloring of Easter eggs. I liked that. Except that it meant egg salad sandwiches for every kid for the next three weeks and left locker rooms smelling like a campsite privy.

Easter egg hunts were always a lot of fun, too. But, I am wondering, do the kids of filthy-rich swine go out and hunt for Faberge eggs?

And that’s about me for Easter. Have a good one.

When we were younger, so much younger than today …

Me and my car, both much newer in 1992Me and my car. Both much newer in 1992

The marketplace would be even shakier than it is now with the current dumbfuck politicians and banker greedheads running it if it had to rely on my consumerism to bolster its coffers.

I am just a really shoddy consumer. That’s mainly because I hang on to stuff until it is truly beyond repair.

Just came back from town in my car. I like my car. It’s a nifty little sports car and it has been well-maintained. But, my consumer failing lies in the fact it is 21 years old. I want it to last me for the duration. It’s like a second skin even though its own skin is showing a few rust spots. Not a lot, but a few. I tend to call them age-spots that have been honorably earned.

While I bought the car brand-new I have actually only driven it for 20 years. OK, confession time. I am ashamed to admit that back in 1996 – when I was younger, woollier, and confessedly extremely irresponsible (yes I still feel guilty about the transgression) – I got a DUI. I deserved it, too, and the end result was I radically changed my lifestyle – and I lost my license to drive for a year. So, rather than let the car just sit I passed it on to my lovely friend, April, who happened to be between marriages and between vehicles at the time. She took wonderful care of it.

The other item I have that is in its metaphorical dotage is my little laptop. And I am writing this drivel on that little laptop. I was forced to buy it when my beloved old Mac desktop packed it in back in 2005. I’d used it since 1994, shortly after they invented electricity. Anyway, it ultimately got so slow that I could have gone out and taken an extension course in the time it took to download. See, I do renew when something has given up the proverbial.

acer1So, in 2005 I bought a little Acer Aspire laptop. Well, I am here to tell you that I worship at the shine of the Acer folk back there in Seoul or Taipei or wherever this was spawned. It was cheap as hell. I had never heard of the brand at the time, and I was a Mac-suck, so I thought this would do for the interim. Some interim. It is now 2013 by my reckoning.

My li’l Acer has been around. When we had our apartment in Victoria I would pack it with me. It has been to Europe and has seen the sights of Grenoble, Brussels, London, Great Yarmouth and Bath. It has traveled through the ‘Chunnel’. How many laptops can say that? It has been to Hawaii a couple of times at least and has motored down the Oregon coast. Oh, it goes on and on. If computers have a bucket list, it has probably fulfilled some of its desired objectives.

In a way the Acer is a bit of a metaphor for me. It still plods along and does what it’s meant to. It’s a bit slower and sometimes there are irritating glitches in which it suffers certain performance anxiety. But, usually a reboot – a kind of electronic Viagra, as it were, enables it to fulfill its function. Sorry for being suggestive there, but you get my drift.

Eventually it may pass on. But, not too soon, I hope. I like it. Just as I like my car. Maybe the car’s a metaphor, too.

 

 

OK, we shall do it this way

For some reason FB won’t attach my paintings. Maybe it doesn’t like my style. So, I’ll post them this way. That’ll show the bastards. One is titled Kauai Dusk and the other is Forest Walk near Ucluelet, BC.

DSCN0290DSCN0296

How ‘serge de Nimes’ became a way of life

tight%20jeansI don’t think my dad ever owned a pair of blue jeans. When he had to do dirty yardwork, or toil in his basement workshop, or paint a room, he wore a ratty pair of old suit trousers.

I suspect he associated denim with either suspect people or those who were forced to work with their hands, or, and maybe most importantly, lowlifes, convicts and juvenile delinquents like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause or Marlon Brando in The Wild One.

In other words, people who were definitely not his sort and of whom he was immediately judgmentally suspicious were denim donners.

I think I would have been shocked to see the old man in Levis. Ironically, he did have a blue denim jacket, which he regularly wore on weekends in chilly weather, but the pants part of the equation? Never. So, if he were to stride in bedecked in jeans would have been akin to finding out he dabbled in heroin on the side, or was picking up a few extra bucks by running a string of Bangkok B-girls. It just wouldn’t have happened.

It was all a generational thing, of course. While mess’rs Levi and Strauss and their garments can be dated back to the days of the California Gold Rush, the popularity of blue denim only gained vogue after World War Two. Within a few years after 1945, jeans became the costume of every youngster. My first pair of ‘long pants’, when I was about five (in those days boys had to graduate to the stage when they could wear long pants; I have absolutely no idea why, but that was the way it was) was a pair of jeans.

The blue denim garment and all it suggested entered the popular culture. Aside from the aforementioned Dean and Brando, there were such items of popular esoterica as:

The Swingin’ Blue Jeans (British Invasion group responsible for The Hippy-Hippy Shake)

Blue Jean Bop (song by the late and disgracefully underappreciated early rocker, Gene Vincent)

Blue Denim (Sexual awakening film from about 1958 starring the late Brandon de Wilde and the absolutely yummy Carol Lynley)

Dungaree Doll (a vocal offering by the really rather talented Eddie Fisher – Carrie’s dad – who sent his career into a tailspin by deciding to boink Liz Taylor)

Blue denim wasn’t restricted to males, of course, and females embraced the fabric quite early on, and certainly for leisurewear. There is almost a prototypical image of the postwar coed whom, if she wasn’t bedecked in poodle skirt (covering an impenetrable panty girdle), then she was in rolled up dungarees and bobby-sox.

For a while, the ‘blue’ of the blue denim syndrome became a bit old, and people graduated to denim of other hues. My preference was ‘wheat’, sort of half way between white and beige, and my standard costume during university years was wheat jeans and a navy blue turtleneck sweater. I later ‘lent’ that sweater to a lover and I never saw it again. I still miss the sweater, while I don’t miss her at all.

Then it all came back with the so-called ‘designer jeans’ a few years later. Those ridiculously expensive ones that Brooke Shields wore without undies – or so she suggested in an ad.

I never succumbed to such exploitation and always found the offerings by LS served me fine and looked better than any fancy-schmantzy ones. I’ve also had black jeans, brown jeans, and still possess a pair of wheat jeans. However, looking in my closet I see there are seven pairs of blue ones.

Personally, I think the jeans culture is too pervasive and I wish people would dress more appropriately when a situation doesn’t call for denim. On the other hand, it is a sartorial culture that has shown no sign of waning for over 60 years.

 

And, to be blunt, some women have asses that simply lend themselves to denim in a most enticing way. So, shoot me for being a swine, but sometimes I notice stuff.

How did I do on my ‘Canadianness’ test? Probably not so good

bob nd dungI couldn’t resist chuckling just a little bit (really, just a teeny bit) when I heard that such cities as Toronto and Montreal had been socked with about 20 feet of late winter snow yesterday. I was still filled with mirth as I went out to harvest daffodils from the garden for a dining table display.

 This is merely by way of stating that Canada is a highly diverse country in geography, attitudes, ethnicities and, due to its massive size, climate. People can be excused for lapsing into the nonsensical cliché that indicates this place is the frozen north. This is a myth that nobody at official levels chooses to dispel, mainly because most of those attitudes are reflective of ghastly places like Toronto and especially Ottawa, which, aside from being a butt-ugly city, also has the worst climate in the civilized world.

Well, I am from the west coast. Nobody in the east ‘gets’ the west coast. Myths abound including the widely-held apprehension that most people are ripped on homegrown ganja most of the time and therefore nobody gets anything done. Well, that just applies to ‘some’ people, but not most.

We have a west coast marine climate, which means that we’re cooler than; say San Francisco, but not a whole lot. We’re wet too often, I agree. But, as for snow, we have had a couple of skiffs this winter but no notable falls. Of course, on those rare occasions when it does snow, it throws the populace into a blind panic and they end up driving worse than they normally do.

Now, it doesn’t bother me a lot that Canadians in this part of the country don’t know anything about BC. But, what does bother me a bit is how outsiders see Canadians and, by default, us on the coast.

Americans, for example are kind of fond of believing that we are a frozen wasteland replete with red-coated Mounties singing ‘Rose-Marie’ and Bob and Doug Mackenzie chugging beer and saying ‘eh’ a lot. When we’re not those things we’re watching hockey. Furthermore, there is the misapprehension that we say ‘oot’ and ‘aboot’ for ‘out’ and ‘about’. Some may, but I don’t nor do any Canadians I know.

As for frozen wasteland, residents of Minneapolis would believe they were in a tropical paradise if they had winters like we have on the west coast.

There is also the widely-held belief south of the border that we are a pack of socialist bastards who like to privide safe harbors for international terrorists – albeit some are, but we range the political spectrum – and that we have all our medical costs subsidized. As if. I have a dear friend who is going through ‘chemo’ right now. He has to pay the entire treatment costs himself. And our pharmaceuticals, meanwhile, are working hard to match US prices.

Went on a tour of the Iolani Palace in Honolulu a number of years ago. A rather dear (and completely dotty) little old volunteer docent, on hearing we were Canadian, wanted us to be her ‘drug connection’ and send her ‘free’ prescription items. I kindly pointed out that it didn’t work that way.

But, as irksome as Americans can be in their attitudes, they also think we’re kinda ‘cute’, sort of like them, and very polite.

In that they are better than the Brits. When I lived in England in the early ‘80s I found they couldn’t really get their heads around ‘Canadian’ and I was once told, “You’re all Yanks to us.”

PS: – I do not wear a toque.

–         I do not watch hockey. So sue me.

–         I do not eat poutine. I have never eaten poutine. I do not plan to ever eat poutine and I’m not even entirely sure what it is.

–         I do, however, put vinegar on fries.

–         And I cannot believe for a moment that Celine Dion and Paul Anka are Canadian. You can have them. Really.

OK, so call me a liar. I can take it

cops08I have often (with a sense of smug superiority) asserted that I do not watch so-called ‘reality’ shows. All I see are the preview trailers and your Big Brothers and Great Races and other such dreck seem populated by disagreeable, hostile folk of remarkably little appeal. I have no desire to spend time with such loathsome sorts. I would only watch one of those trapped-on-an-island things if I could be offered a surety that one (at least) of the participants would be killed.

Now, ‘that’s entertainment.’ 

But, I humble myself a bit here by confessing to be a liar and a hypocrite (not the first time) about the issue. There is a ‘reality’ show that I watch and absolutely love.

It’s Cops. “Bad boys-bad boys.”

And girls, I might add.

Cops so satisfies the voyeur in me and a perverse aspect of my nature. And that perverse aspect is that no matter how I might screw up in life (and it has happened, I confess) there are invariably people who are way worse than I am. I think that’s why, when I was a reporter, I loved having both the police and court beats. They were so entertaining.

This is not because I wish misfortune on people, for I don’t. I just believe that if you screw up bigtime there is a price to be paid. And maybe one of those prices is to enable others to feel just so much more functional than you are. There are worse goals in life than providing a bad example for others.

One other thing that Cops provides greater even than its entertainment value, is a dispelling of fear in the public. That is because the bad people depicted are really, really, really, really stupid. Key advice for the stupid is: Don’t commit crimes because you’re really bad at it.

The other thing Cops vividly points out is that ‘all’ suspects are pathological liars. They never own up. If they get caught with the drugs on their person they will feign disbelief and then will say assertively they are not theirs and they have no idea how they got there.

Something on Cops that also seems to be an aspect of a perp’s behavior is that neither males nor females seem to be familiar with the concept of wearing a belt. When they are apprehended  – often after a chase – their pants are invariably near their knees offering the viewer a wide expanse of shorts or panties.

In closing I will offer some words of advice to people who might unwittingly find themselves at the end of a Cops lens:

–         Don’t run. Fat fortyish police officers don’t like chasing you and when they get you they’ll be really pissed off.

–         Tasering really hurts, so don’t risk it.

–         Police dogs hurt even more.

–         Get yourself a belt.

–         Be really polite.

–         Blame somebody else.

–         You can’t drive very far on rims so if they’ve spike-belted your tires and they’re coming off in shreds, give the fuck up. I mean, really.