Monthly Archives: April 2015

Freedom finally comes when you leave ‘cool table’ angst behind you

jeff

I don’t know if you are like me and still ponder in those wide-awake moments at 3 am. whether or not you actually sat at the ‘cool table’ in high school, or were relegated to a bunch of misfit Leonards, Howards, Rajs, and Sheldons with not a Penny in sight.

I, for one, will never know at which table I would have been stationed since I went home for lunch as I only lived a block away from that horrible school. But, that notwithstanding, we are left with a residue from those days and it is an insecurity that pops up from time-to-time in which we wonder if we were ever deemed ‘cool’. big bang

Where did I fit in the social morass that is the average high school? I’ll never be quite sure. I think perhaps I was ‘cool-ish’, or ‘cool-lite’ and at least a good solid c-plus cool. I mean I did date the head cheerleader once and was also good friends with her (“I like to regard you as a really good friend”) and had to disregard the fact I wanted to take all her clothes off and enter a life of wild sexual abandon with her, but at least we were tight at a certain level. I think that fact elevated me (not the fantasy frustration fact) pretty close to B level cool.

I mean, I wasn’t a rich kid and I didn’t drive a flash car or dress in the latest fashions, or play the guitar. But I did sing for a while in a small group and we actually performed at a sock-hop and we weren’t awful. We weren’t particularly good, either, but better than awful and people paid a tiny bit of attention to my buddies and me.

 

But, that was then. There are times later in life in which the ‘cool’ aspect raises its head. I might mention that I did once teach high school and I am not falsely aggrandizing myself to say I was regarded as a ‘cool’ teacher. Granted there wasn’t a hell of a lot of competition in the coolness department, it being a school staff and all. But it was still kind of nice to get a second round of high school and one in which I was considered actually cool.

Elsewhere in adult life it’s not quite the same, yet there remain in every organization I am aware of a certain hierarchy in which some people are deemed more equal than others and I don’t know what the formula is to join such ranks. But, you know, as time goes by and maturity bites you in the ass a bit, you begin to march to your own drumbeat and give nowhere near as much of a shit how people regard you. And eventually, if you continue to grow you will divest yourself of all considerations as to how you appear in the pantheon of cool. That’s freedom. “You don’t like the cut of my jib? That would be your problem.”

I can’t be Jeff Bridges as The Big Lebowski, and why would I try. Bob Mitchum has come-and-gone, and Nicholson is getting awfully long in the tooth, and I am increasingly content to just be me., If you aren’t impressed, I am not much bothered.

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A little ‘cinema verite’ glimpse into the sleazy world of Mad Men

falling man

A couple of years ago my brother very kindly put on DVD my parents’ old home-movies. My father was an inveterate, if not particularly ‘good’ documentarian with his old 16 mm camera. But, he went out and captured everything from the time we were little children and right through to our gawky adolescence and early adulthoods,

My God, did my first wife, when she was very young really wear skirts that short. “Darlin’, I can see your underpants.” That’s OK, I can look. We were once married. canera

Most intriguing – in a way – but also a bit disconcerting are the ‘cocktail party’ flicks. Ah, the cocktail party. A way of fulfilling a social obligation with people you really have no desire to invite to dinner. It’s a social convention that I am quite happy to have seen die out by-and-large.

What was a cocktail party? A social event in which large numbers of disparate people get shitfaced drunk, smoke like furnaces, decry pot-smoking young hippies, attempt to establish either trysts or later liaisons with people to whom they’re not married. Sometimes they even successfully ‘tryst’ (using the polite term) right at the party if the house is big enough and they can find room amongst the piled coats in a bedroom. Not saying that actually happened other than I know from (ahem) experience that it did. Sometimes the young aren’t so foolish when single and an opportunity presents itself.draper

Hmm, this is all beginning to sound a bit like Mad Men. And it does because MM has been a success due to the fact that a goodly number of people who actually lived through the era – and some did live through it despite the liver assailing alcohol abuse and lung-ravaging smoking – and can testify to its veracity.

I look at those movies. I see everybody smoking up a storm, the booze flowing like the cheapest water and artificially-induced jollity amongst a lot of people I honestly didn’t find all that jolly in real life. Very few – like mainly none – are around any more. Some I miss, others I have not emotional feelings for at all. And when they are carousing they look like assholes. But, most people do.joan

So, Mad Men is shortly to pass from the scene, as that era in real life will too. What will happen to Don Draper? Do I care? Not really. He deserves all that karma throws at him in the end. He has spent his life – through many seasons – being a fraudulent, narcissistic shit who views the world through power and a bank account and not through friendship and loyalty, and views women solely from the parameters of his penis.

In fact, I realize that I don’t care for any of the people in the series (which has been splendid in its way) and feel they will deserve whatever befalls them. Indeed the only one I really care about is ‘Joan’ (Christina Hendricks) the superbly cantilevered and beautiful woman who is not, absolutely not about big tits and a beautiful face, but actually has integrity. She deserves to come out the winner.

The rest deserve their own particular versions of Hell.

But, in my own way, I’ll miss the series when it comes to an end. And that end is coming soon.

It’s never really too late for a little self-castigation just to be on the safe side

guilt cardoon

Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night and feel guilty about something – either something you have done, or something you have neglected to do, or maybe nothing at all, just an overweening guilt covering all categories of your lifetime?

There are sins of commission that are guilt inducing, like speeding through a school zone without seatbelts on and even though you didn’t get caught you were still kind of giving the finger to the universe; or undressing with another and the other person does the same with hanky-panky in mind even though neither of you are free to do that stuff. The latter one is bigger than the school zone one, in case you were wondering. Anyway, those are sins of commission and they are big, big guilt inducers.guilty

Sins of omission are basically ones of, for example, feeling guilty about not having sent a thank-you note for a gift from your aunt Helga she has now been dead for five years; or not having filed your income tax for those same five years. They will want to talk to you about that sin of omission. “Oh, gee. I meant to, Really I did. Just didn’t get around to it. Or, letting 10 or 20 parking tickets pile up in your glove box. Be forewarned, the bastards will get you for that sin of omission.

But, as I said, it’s the sins of commission that can send you up the river or to the divorce court. And yes, like Jimmy Swaggart, I too have sinned – praise Jaysus, but ah have sinned! And, while I sinned, I didn’t commit crimes, nothing indictable other than in the court of domesticity. Sometimes I think prison might have been preferable to that bit of humble-pie eating. But, time moves on, and if we’re lucky, we merely get to fully appreciate our transgressions – over and over again. Oh, and to set matters straight, I am talking about the ‘past’ here. I am a slow-learn at times and concede to weaknesses of the flesh – but trust me, I do learn – ultimately about sins of commission and guilt. sinneers

Yet, even when my slate is clean, I can awaken and feel guilty – about something. Force-of-habit? Porn surfing? No, that couldn’t be me. I never do that. But, I will awaken with that kind of sick feeling in the gut. Maybe it’s just God saying, “If you are thinking about doing something bad, remember, you are under surveillance at all times. Perhaps that is. Or perhaps just force of habit as in ‘feeling guilty’ is my default mood.

Whatever the case, I think dear old Ogden Nash said it best many years ago:

Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man

It is common knowledge to every schoolboy and even every Bachelor of Arts,
That all sin is divided into two parts.
One kind of sin is called a sin of commission, and that is very important,
And it is what you are doing when you are doing something you ortant,
And the other kind of sin is just the opposite and is called a sin of omission
        and is equally bad in the eyes of all right-thinking people, from
        Billy Sunday to Buddha,
And it consists of not having done something you shuddha.
I might as well give you my opinion of these two kinds of sin as long as,
        in a way, against each other we are pitting them,
And that is, don't bother your head about the sins of commission because
        however sinful, they must at least be fun or else you wouldn't be
        committing them.
It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The way you really get painfully bitten
Is by the insurance you haven't taken out and the checks you haven't added up
        the stubs of and the appointments you haven't kept and the bills you
        haven't paid and the letters you haven't written.
Also, about sins of omission there is one particularly painful lack of beauty,
Namely, it isn't as though it had been a riotous red-letter day or night every
        time you neglected to do your duty;
You didn't get a wicked forbidden thrill
Every time you let a policy lapse or forget to pay a bill;
You didn't slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry Whee,
Let's all fail to write just one more letter before we go home, and this round
        of unwritten letters is on me.
No, you never get any fun
Out of things you haven't done,
But they are the things that I do not like to be amid,
Because the suitable things you didn't do give you a lot more trouble than the
        unsuitable things you did.
The moral is that it is probably better not to sin at all, but if some kind of
        sin you must be pursuing,
Well, remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing.

Ogden Nash

‘A mari usque ad mare’ and other bits of Canuck mythology of today

map

Fee free to substitute ‘Canadian’ for American and that folks is what we seem to have and I don’t much like it.

This used to be a proud and resolute country and folks here stood up for what they believed in. Yet of late what they believe in seems to have changed from what it was when I was younger. What do we believe in now?

We are a country than has become undeservedly self-impressed. We like to think that Americans (for example) are racist but that we are untainted by any sense of ethnic superiority and that we treat all groups with dignity and compassion. Ha! Tell that to indigenous Canadians who have an incarceration rate of 28% — or 10 times that of non-aboriginals. Oh, and tell that fol-de-rol to the families of the missing aboriginal women; a grim little stat that the feds seem to steadfastly hope will just go away.injuns

We seem to have become a country that gives a universal finger to international environmental concerns. Well, why should we care about what others think of us. We’re Canadian, we’re polite and well-liked, despite the fact we have plummeted in virtually every international poll in recent years. Seems others are no longer seeing us as quite as nice as we tend to think we are.

I’m not blaming all of this on any particular political party – though that is an easy shot to take in light of a lot of stuff – like ‘evidence’ – but I will certainly point out that other parties in power have also done little to address certain issues in our ‘smug’ nation of what, peacekeepers? We are trotting off to fight in wars we’re ill-equipped to handle, and why are we doing so in the first place. To prove we have really big balls? I was happy with testicular teeniness, in truth. Should we therefore be cowards? Of course not, and we’re not. We have served valiantly in a number of historical conflicts, but latterly has the creation of international bogeymen served us well.steverino

And then we have the vilely corrupt Senate in all its ‘Duffydom’ and ‘Wallinism’. Lord have mercy. But let’s keep this nonsense going. Much as we keep our ‘tie’ with a foreign monarchy going in the name of something-or-other that doesn’t seem very Canadian to me.

That’s about all. Thanks for indulging my rant, though I still don’t feel much better.

Sometimes those great big terrifying ‘oops’ moments get a body down a bit

need-to-pee-meter_o_630966

At the front door fumbling with a key that doesn’t seem to want to activate the lock. Prior to that moment, and on the drive home from wherever I had been not once had I given thought to the state of my bladder.

Suddenly, as I fumble, I am struck by an urge to urinate so profound that I am unsure, if I actually do get that goddamn key to work, that I will make it to the john in time to avoid disaster and mortification.

It’s known as “latchkey urgency”and, according to what I read on that faultless source of all information that we will ever need – the Internet – it is quite remarkably common. So common that they actually do have a name for the ‘inconvenience’. And also, according to my doctor it is not a matter of huge concern because it is one of those damn things that happens as we get a little older. A little older? Easy for him to say, since my doctor, to me at least, looks about 19.

It happens to males and females. For the boys it’s all about the prostate (isn’t everything?) For girls it stems from childbirth (most commonly) and also the passage of time in which the plumbing moves south a bit and that can lead to profound urgency – and worse.key

Now, I am not saying that latchkey urgency is a matter of grievous crisis, but if you follow the ads on TV you couldn’t help but believe that at least eighty percent of women are in need of nappies of some sort. And, though I hope not, a few men, too.

I think part of the distress stems from the fact that one of our earliest accomplishments as human beings is the ability to keep our underpants dry and, with the exception of a few mishaps, most of us succeed in that quest. And then relentless time seems determined to reverse that achieved goal.

It reminds me of a gag by delightful comic Rita Rudner who once said: “I’m happy I gave birth to a daughter when I was older. That way we could both be in diapers at the same time.”

I’m not loving this getting older thing, though it happens to us all. I’m still looking for a way to reverse it.

If you want to get rejection revenge, remember it is a dish best served cold

peaches

REJECTED!

Now there’s a charged word.

I’ll wager there is nobody on the planet so self-confident (or monarchistic) that they can accept rejection with equanimity. To be rejected is to be violated at the very essence of our personal integrity. Pride may be a sin, or even go before a fall, but we all have it, regardless. And a seemingly arbitrary rejection saps the essence of our being.

How many manuscripts lie moldering in drawers or computer guts due to fear of rejection? God knows I have at least four completed ones, and a further incomplete but really damn good one. I also have a drawer full of rejection slips stemming from those rare instances when I bit the proverbial and philosophically shucked rejection fear. “Oh, what the hell, even the most noted writers get rejected countless times.” That verve never lasts longrejection

How many great love stories have never been written and/or consummated due to a rejection by the object of affection (and probably lust)? For example, the object of my profound affection in high school rejected me.

Bitch.

No, seriously, it was probably just as well. If the feeling isn’t there no point in pretending that it is. We know when there are sparks and passion and I have been – yes, even I – on the other end of the rejection equation because, well, it just wasn’t there and there was little likelihood of it being there.

Of course, it could also be a ghastly mistake that is realized only too late. Maybe that’s what happened with my fantasy figure. Yeah, that must be it. She ended up marrying a second-rater and it turned out bad, or she entered holy orders with vows of celibacy prompted by the realization if she couldn’t have me, then nobody ever was going to have her.

Yes, that must be it.

But seriously, rejection is an ugly aspect of life. It hits us at a place in which we find it difficult to bear to think somebody finds us wanting in some way. I once applied for a position for which I thought I was eminently qualified – as indeed I was. I had a brilliant employment track-record and I fit all the criteria slots. Yet I was passed-over. Oh, I was shortlisted, but some asshole got the job. Haven’t quite forgotten or forgiven that one.watching

But, I did get a kind of psychological revenge. I got myself onto the governance board of that particular non-profit organization. In other words, I was quite capable of firing the guy who didn’t hire me. And he knew it. I often got tempted to do the fingers to the eyes and back at him thing when I sat in a meeting and he was giving his compulsory state-of-the-union report each month. Sort of revenge. Though never acted upon. But it was there.

I think if Adele hadn’t come along I’d have stood in jeopardy of entering my dotage

adele

He (or she) is set in his (or her) ways.” That’s what people say about some crabby old curmudgeon (or crone) who isn’t prepared any longer to be up-to-the-minute nohow about nothin’.

I see elements of that in myself these days. I should be distressed about that. But, I’m not, really. Does that mean I am getting ‘set in my ways’? Probably. I certainly see aspects of the settin’ in of my ways about me. I should be bothered – I guess.

I once took great pride in being up-to-the-minute. I knew all the music, all the actors and actresses, was working with a computer long before a lot of others were. I dressed stylishly. While never faddish, I embraced worthy trends as they came along. curmudgeon

Once I interviewed a noted novelist who informed me that he did his writing in pencil on yellow legal pads. I didn’t get how he could do that. But, he was a traditionalist and that was what he was comfortable with. I began my writing on a typewriter keyboard and I honestly cannot compose on paper. And when the computer keyboard came about, I had found Nirvana. I could write and edit and spell-check in a trice. The only negative in this ‘revolution’ that I could see was that some individuals who couldn’t compose a decent grocery list began to fancy they were ‘writers’ and even tried to impose manuscripts on hapless editors and publishers. Fortunately, that nonsense basically got sorted out when (some) people realized technology doesn’t equate to creativity.

Now, my problem with the above is once I availed myself of a decent laptop I became stuck. And in being stuck I found I no longer cared for ‘what next?’. What I had was good enough.

I once had an early flip-phone which was about the size of a landline handset, and it didn’t work for shit. I then got an updated one. I think I maybe used it a half-dozen times. And it was just a phone, no camera or other nonsense on it. I watch people text-messaging in their numbers these days. I have never done that. I have no desire to ever do it. So, I no longer have any phone whatsoever. I am not troubled by that. Wendy and I have a ‘communal’ one that we use for vacations, but nothing more. I think it’s located in her glove-box. stax o wax

Now, I don’t eschew all things modern. We have a nice flat-screen TV that I wouldn’t be without. And the ability to DVR stuff is brilliant. On the other hand, there are other trendy innovations I have largely ignored. To wit:

– we still rent DVDs. I don’t get stuff like Netflix and I have never bothered to find out. We have a good DVD player and I don’t mind spending a couple of bucks to rent a movie.

– speaking of movies, I really don’t know any of the current actors and actresses, much less care about them. I see their mugs on mags at supermarket checkouts, often having been involved in some scandalous hijinx and why should I care?

– I have no idea who or what in the fuck a Kardashian is and why should anyone on the planet care?

– I once was pretty up on the music scene, but then the 1990s happened and all that came afterwards (with the notable exceptions of Adele and poor sad Amy Winehouse, but otherwise, nada caring. Play me that “old time rock-and-roll, the kind that moves my soul” and I am happy. I mean truly I used to be able to name the artists that recorded for, say, Stax Records.

And so on and so on. Well, at least I still dress OK and am in control of my functions, so I suppose not all is lost. Just set in my ways, I guess.