Monthly Archives: September 2013

Please keep a candle burning in the window for me

Dear friends:

It behooves me to tell you I am frickin’ outta here. Nothing personal at all, but after a year in the saddle (as it were) we are off on vacation for 3 weeks.

When I go away I like to disconnect completely. Otherwise, to me, it’s not really a vacation. I mean, I write for fun, but I also write for money and sometimes writing seems a bit like work even when it’s not.

So, unlike the old song, please ‘do’ talk about me when I’m gone and only say really nice things. Is that too much to ask?

I’ll tell you all about it when we get back.

Got me them old-fashioned cheapskate wedding bell blues

I have been thrice married and twice divorced. I’d like to keep it that way. Marriage is challenging but divorce is batshit crazy in what it does to your emotions and sense-of-worth and the like.

At least in our situation neither of us can be smug about poor track records and all, since Wendy’s nuptial history is the same as mine. Ever notice, by the way, how many people mispronounce ‘nuptial’ and it comes out ‘Nupchewal’. Beside the point.

Anyway, my three weddings went like this:

1) Long, long ago, when there were wolves in Wales – oops, sorry, that’s stolen from Dylan Thomas. Anyway, many years ago Wife #1 and I got married. We had a great big wedding with lots of friends of both sets of parents there and I don’t recall many of our own friends.

We got married in a church by a guy with his collar on backwards and “plighted our troths” (whatever on earth that means). The clerical aspect wasn’t very important to me but was deemed vital by the future in-laws and hence, my new bride. Anyway, I guess a good time was had by some and, you know, I don’t remember much about it.

We did get some nice gifts, including I think 27 fondue sets, in keeping with the mode of the day along with an electric carving knife. Remember those stupid faddish things? And a bunch of other stuff that I forget and not any cold, hard cash.

We stayed married for many years, but eventually some unsurmountable problems rendered it futile to continue in a situation neither of us were truly contented with. Shit happens.

2) In our own back garden by the pool. I still have photos of the day. The place looked splendid. As did the bride, a beautiful woman resplendent in virginal white – which was a bit of a stretch considering her 14-year-old daughter was part of the entourage. Anyway a few family members, a lot of friends were there for a ceremony conducted by a marriage commissioner.

I don’t believe we called for gifts and hence most folks obliged. Marriage didn’t last for shit and the breakup was sad but no doubt necessary for our mutual sanity.

3) Took place, again before a marriage commissioner, at a classy hotel near Vancouver International. Again we called for no presents and the whole business was small and tasteful. We treated our guests to dinner at our expense, which I think was very nice of us.

We broke with tradition a bit in that my ‘best man’ was a girl. She was (and is) my best friend, so why not? And Wendy’s maid-of-honor (following that theme) was her brother. How progressive are we?

We called for no gifts, BTW. People happily obliged with no gifts.

Anyway, that one has worked for 13 ½ years and we do hope it stays that way.

Now, the reason I was on the wedding theme – and what has gone before was actually a lengthy preamble is due to the fact that I read an article recently in which young people getting married today don’t want some cheapshit “thoughtful” gift from guests – they want cold, hard cash. In fact, some couples even reserve the right to suggest how much you should cough up.

They argue that it’s very expensive to put on a wedding reception, what with the food and music and photos and all, so somebody’s gotta pay for it. You know, as if the bride and groom are offering you some sort of splendid entertainment rather than a thing you are feeling obligated to attend.

You know what I say about that? I say tough patooties to you, kids, you greedy little money grubbers. It’s not as if you’re offering a weekend at a luxury resort – unless you are, in which case I’ll pay. I know it’s difficult and costly starting out, but it was when we were young, too. Suck it up.

Be honest now and with fingers to spare on one hand, how many weddings have you attended (not including members of your family, which is a bit different) that you’ve really regarded as time well-spent?

I mean, there have been a slight few I have wanted to attend but been unable to for various reasons. That includes one recently. But for the most part, not so much.

Exactly. I sometimes start with my “can we go home yet?” plea before the ceremony has begun.

Not that I don’t wish any bride and groom all sorts of niceness in their futures but I don’t think their guests should have to pick up the tab.

I too get the appeal of ‘Penny Time’ among the great unwashed



According to a poll in the latest Vanity Fair, respondents when offered choices among certain female leads in popular TV series in terms of which one they’d choose to be their wives if they had the option to marry one of them, the hands-down winner by a huge margin was ‘Penny’ (AKA Kaley Cuoco) from The Big Bang Theory.

Penny, coming in at 23 percent, smoked sophisticates Alicia Florick from The Good Wife, and Megan Draper from Mad Men. Now, Alicia is played by the almost painfully appealing (to me, anyway) Julianna Margulies, so I am not sure why she scored so low in the poll. Perhaps she’s the kind of exotic woman who might frighten certain men. Megan Draper, yeah, not so much here, either. I actually found Betty Draper more enticing in her awful bitchiness.

But, you know, the Penny thing about trumping all the other contenders I get. I must confess she’d be my choice, too. Although, for a few reasons it might not last. On the other hand, I know it would be a great romp whilst it did.

Why it wouldn’t last:

1) she’s a tad young for me
2) sometimes she drinks too much and becomes a bit of an asshole
3) while she’s smart as a tack she’s not terribly well educated or informed
4) She’s a bit of a material glutton

Why she won the poll hands down:

1) She’s a healthy, grain-fed Nebraska girl. You think farm girls don’t trump sophisticates? Ask Hugh Hefner about that. He built an empire on extolling them and their appeal.
2) She’s a bit stacked like gangbusters, but not over the top.
3) She has an extremely healthy libido.
4) She’s very kind and tolerant.
5) She has a wonderful sense-of-humor
6) She’s fun.

As an inveterate welcomer of the challenges posed by the New York Times Sunday Crossword you can imagine my delight when, in a recent offering, Kaley Cuoco was the answer to a clue. This puts the girl in august intellectual company.

And that’s about all I have to say about the lovely Penny. As I suggested, she’s not complex and neither is the topic.

Just one of those times when you hope they’re dead wrong

There are times when you hear something terribly negative about somebody you have always held in very high esteem and you hope against hope that the allegations and insinuations are patently untrue.

One of the genuinely nice moments in my memory bank of my early days was the half-hour I spent backstage at the old Cave Supper Club in Vancouver engaged in a delightful conversation with Australian entertainer par excellence, Rolf Harris. Felt privileged to be in the company of such a talented man who was already gaining note for the hilarious Tie Me Kangaroo Down.

Harris was a Vancouver favorite. Hung out in my home town for a few years after departing Oz. He even offered a local favorite song called, appropriately enough, Vancouver Town.

He departed Vancouver for the brighter lights and increased creative opportunities of the UK where he continued with music, comedy, a lot of television broadcasts and as a painter of note. A genuine renaissance man much to be admired. In fact, he even got the Queen to sit for a painting that was a delight to the Royals. They loved Rolf. They loved him so much that they gave him an integral role in the Jubilee festivities.

And then I read this:

“Rolf Harris has been charged with 13 offences under Operation Yewtree, including nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images of a child last year.
The 83-year-old Australian entertainer, who had a long career in British children’s TV in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, is accused of three counts of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 1986 and six of indecently assaulting a girl aged between 15 and 16 from 1980 to 1981. He is also charged with four counts of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012.
Harris, who will appear at Westminster magistrates court on 23 September, was initially interviewed under caution on 29 November last year under the Operation Yewtree investigation into alleged sexual offences by Jimmy Savile and others. He was then arrested on 28 March and bailed pending further inquiries.”
Now, serial rapist, pedophile, and world-class creep Jimmy Savile (I never undersetood why anybody liked him) I could get. Made my skin crawl. But Rolf Harris? Beloved Rolf Harris?
I seriously hope they’re wrong.
For your enjoyment:

Offering up my naked self for public scrutiny, as it were

Those who know me well know that I am a very private person. I’m a bit of an ambivert (which is better than some other ‘verts’ a body can be) and while not uncomfortably shy and certainly not unfriendly, I do play the old cards fairly close to the chest and don’t like calling attention to myself.

So, you might well be asking, “If the bastard is so %$#@ private, why did he spend much of his working career in the public eye, and why does he go on Facebook and why does he blog?” Well, some things (like the personality of Stephen Harper or why anybody ever voted for Richard Nixon) just cannot be explained.

The only reason I bring this up is because I am planning – for the first time ever – to put a couple of paintings up in a local art gallery show. I’m kind of nervous about that. What if people hate the paintings I’m mounting at the show. What if they are driven to offer such pleasantries as:

“What utter crap!”
“How did he dare?”
“Look what he’s asking for them!”
“My kid could do better.” (A classic)
“My God. What’s that supposed to be?”

And so on and so on. The critics are probably already conspiring to mock me.

Yes, the foregoing should serve to indicate that I am actually asking for money for the two paintings I’m putting in with the hope that somebody is so pound-foolish that they actually might fork out for an original Lidster.

I am not a professional painter and have never taken any art courses. If I consider myself anything it’s as kind of an advanced hobbyist. The only training per se that I’ve ever taken is a couple of sessions of life drawing in which I got to sit in a room with nekkid ladies (and men on a few occasions). I learned a lot with those sessions.

Otherwise, for me at least, painting is a creative act that removes me from writing and tends to refresh my soul a little. I do it because I like it.

And the painting shown here (a scene near Tigh-na-Mara Resort), which is one of mine indeed is not one that will be in the show at the Pearl Ellis Gallery in Comox later this month. Advance advertising seems a little unfair to me.

And that (sigh) is how it all began. And look at me now! No, maybe not

doug rd

I want to extend greetings to all the rugrats who are back in school today, and especially those who are attending the first day of first grade. This is my gift to you.

(This piece is also an excerpt of a much longer piece I am in the process of writing.)

On my first day of formal education I had jam sandwiches. They had been deposited in my little green lunchbox along with an apple and a few cookies by my mother. Right from the start I hated that pale green “lunch-kit”, as my mother called it. Not sure why, but I think I may have already had my introduction to ‘coolness’ in that some kids had cooler lunch boxes than did I. They had ones with Thermoses in them, for example.

Bloody cheapskate parents setting a pattern that was to dog me all the days I lived with them. While they were the people who spawned me I often felt like an inconvenient houseguest.

“When is that kid going to leave?”

On that first school day I walked the mile-long trek up the highway with my mother and granny. I was glad my granny came with us. I’d like to have walked to school with her every day. I liked her better than my mother. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but frankly I did.

I don’t remember much about the day. I recall feeling hugely superior to the kid who was crying his eyes out and clutching at his mother’s skirts. No tears for me, crybaby. How mortifying. Oddly enough, I went right through school to the end of my senior high school year with that kid – and I never forgot that he cried on the first day of school.

The school I was deposited in was Burnaby’s Douglas Road Elementary/Junior High. It’s still there (pictured). Relatively unchanged. That’s the sort of thing that is meant to warm the heart and leave a person, regardless of age, with a sense of connectedness. While I can feel nostalgic about some elements of my past, my school doesn’t really do it. That’s mainly because I hated school for the most part. Compulsory education seemed to be some sort of violation of who I was and in being compelled to attend I was plucked from a life of sunshiny days and freedom of movement and thrust into a place of mean-spirited nastiness, rivalries, pants-pissing kids, and an inability to leave when the whim struck one.

Now, first grade wasn’t my invitation to educational incarceration. I had attended kindergarten the previous year, but it was an OK thing. It was only half-a-day and involved a lot of playing mainly and even a nap was thrown in when the teacher got too exasperated to carry on for a full three hours, or whatever it was. One particular naptime sticks in my mind. I was lying on a mat and the teacher stood immediately above me. It struck me that I could see right up her long straddling legs to the very top. What was actually up there I was unsure about, but it seemed like a nice thing to do. What this says about me at that tender age, or whether my behavior wasn’t healthy maybe isn’t worth countenancing, so let’s leave it there – OK? Anyway. I blame her. Trollop.

My memory of that first day is compromised by the passage of a great number of years. I do recall, jam sandwiches apart, that we who were literate were asked to write our names. I was quite able to do that since mine is only three letters long, so I should have been grateful my parents hadn’t named me Dominick, or something equally challenging. In truth, I could actually read a fair bit by the time I started school. Once I had whipped through my name we chatted about the rudiments of the three Rs, but didn’t proceed further. The morning was dreadfully long, in my recall. Then we broke for recess, an alien concept theretofore, and were shooed out to play on that bright September day, leaving the teacher some space for a belt of gin or whatever she did while we were absent.

Back at it after recess and we plugged along until jam sandwich time. Ate those. Sent out to play again. Back. Then the longest afternoon of my life a priori had to be dealt with. And it was. And when my mother and grandmother met me at the end of it all I was, to my dismay, informed that the next day would start the process all over again and they wouldn’t be walking me to school. Carol, the big girl from next door, whom I really liked, would take me in hand.

And all I remember about that ensuing day was that Carol, a kind of touch little minx, beat the shit out of another girl on our way up the road. I liked that.

And so it began, the first day of 12 years of public education, combined with multi years of university after that. I had little idea on Day #1 what I was letting my self in for.

Welcome to school, kiddies.