Archive for February, 2009

I Love the Old Songs She Brings to Me

February 24, 2009

We shopped over the week-end, my lovely girl and me.  It doesn`t amount to much, our spending time this way.  I mean, it`s just groceries, right? 

She gives me the chance to opt out.  “Stay home and write.”  she invites me.  She knows what I adore, my weakness… but I want to be with her more.  Not that you are not important to me, dear reader… we have spent some wonderful time together.  But I enjoy her company when we are alone in a crowded supermarket on our treasure hunt. 

“Buy what is on sale.”  I instruct her, but it is pointless, really.  She is a bargain hunter, she scrutinizes incessantly… she thinks I am a prize.  I get to push the cart.   I read the labels, I complain about the prices,  I remark that the Muzak is playing Jesse Winchester and now I like this store.  It has become my favorite, I announce… she scouts ahead, checking her list.  People are rude and she rolls her eyes as they cut in front of us without apology… she makes note of it and sighs.  I want to correct their bad manners, tell them that my wife is worthy of respect… but I refrain. 

It is the American in me, I want to get loud and be indignant… but I digress.  She knows I am in control and it makes her happy, I think of a song instead.

We also bought an office chair on sale last week-end,  it suits our needs here at our little table in the kitchen.  Now it is a bonafide, designated “official” place to write.  No more ripping off the dining table for a chair to sit on.   The green fabric cushioned seat rolls and goes up and down.  The back allows you to lean away in casual sublimity if you have the strength to do so, and I do… it was a strong selling point.  Now I can roll to the refrigerator, roll to the sink, roll to the stove, roll to the dining table or lean back to look out the sliding glass door into the valley below us.  It is very conducive to creativity.  Everything at my fingertips, all I need now is to be catheterized and I could stay here indefinitely. 

I believe I fall in love with Chantal every day.  It is the little things she doesn`t know she is doing.  It is listening to her describe her day, the way things effect her, the people that she moves about and interacts with… her descriptions of lives outside her office that she must invade, their privacy an open book to her.  I know they couldn`t be in better hands because sometimes she anguishes over the files she cannot speak of and it causes her to be blue.  Like she holds their fate in her hands. 

“She`s got a way of talkin`…”

I started singing that song in the supermarket and thought about Billy Joel and his life with Christie Brinkley, his uptown girl.  It was hard to imagine that he could have been so inspired by such a union as theirs and then have it fall apart like it did.  It made me sad to think of how things don`t work out in relationships.  Maybe it was their egos, his up and coming, hers already well established at the time.  We have the benefit of the song…

We pushed the shopping cart in the snow out on the parking lot.  It plows along, the wheels incapable of turning and me forcing it with my legs churning like steam pistons.

“Do you need me to help?”  she asks, “I can push on the left side.”

“No,” I reply valiantly, “I can manage.”  and to prove it I push harder, faster, weaving about the snow covered pavement.  “They should make this an Olympic event!  Snow cart pushing!  A Canadian exclusive!  Who needs hockey when we have this?”  She laughs at me as I hurry through the snow, because if I lose my momentum now I might not make it to the far end of the parking lot, where we have parked next to the cart return.  Most people just abandon their pack mules in this snow encrusted prairie of a parking lot, but not us.  We`ll walk further in order to dutifully return the cart through wind, snow, sleet and hail, dark of night, flood and high water, social uprisings, a stampede of caribou or the boogie man… it makes no difference.  OUR cart shall be returned forthwith. 

It is the simple things, really.  To make her laugh, to see her smile, to feel her eyes of approval upon me.  I could have stayed home, but where would my inspiration have come from?  When I do my little chores, she still thanks me though it is nothing compared to her sacrifice of working at a job she needs but does not want.  She collects a wage and goes home… nobody knows that she cares for them in her capacity of oversight, that she takes her job seriously, that she feels for her fellow man with great humility and open honesty. 

If people only knew what my girl goes through, how her heart is troubled by unsavory news events and the entangling, deceitful web of world politics.   How drama half a world away makes her lie awake at night, how her own countrymen may disappoint her back here in Canada.  Maybe they would curtail their actions just a little bit to witness the joy in the brilliance of her smile.  If they were ever blessed with it once, I swear they would… 

I feel powerless and inadequate, but I assure her that her efforts do not go un-noticed.  I see and feel them, sometimes I curse the un-appreciative ones beneath my breath… the ones that complain.  Occasionally,  I blame myself for not offering her more… she deserves everything.  She is goodness personified, her approval means everything to me.  

Even if I am right I am wrong if it causes her dismay… I struggle to make my intentions less abrasive, it is not to prove superiority… it is corrective thinking, the facts can be cruel and cold sometimes.  Let me warm them, it is not divisive being direct, it is not self-righteous if we are of one mind… I am searching, too, my beloved. 

We shop our souls, we put our hearts on a shelf, we clutter our minds in the bargain bin, we waste our strength combing the aisles looking for meaning in advertisement.  We search for inspiration through the lines written in the National Enquirer as we wait in line to check out… hoping our debit is approved.

She helps me push the cart, tonight I shall sing in the shower…

peace.

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Oscar Smoshcar; who won, who lost, who cares?

February 22, 2009

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Well, it’s Oscar time… again.  I feel a little like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day when I say that.  Remember, he was living the same day over… and over… and over?  (a great Oscar nomination that wasn`t)  Why does it feel like we have all been here before?Groundhog_Day_(film)

Maybe the glam and glitter has been a little over sold here as of late.  I find that I really don’t care who wins or loses and would rather not have to endure another year of bad movies being acclaimed as something good, groundbreaking, redeeming or earth shattering.  The fact that Hollywood seems shielded from reality is never more apparent than on the eve of the Academy Awards.  It is a tough pill to swallow when most of the people are concerned about the economy and these people show up in limos and diamonds, but that`s entertainment, folks… you pay what you get for. 

…and the Best Picture Oscar goes to:  hmmpf!  My beautiful girl and I have made a promise that whatever film wins best picture we would make it a date to see it.  But let me look at these nominations again in no particular order, there is Slumdog Millionaire and then there is…  the rest.

Thankfully I have not seen any of the movies nominated, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader or Slumdog Millionaire so our pre-arranged date will not be re-watching a film we`ve already seen.  The odds on favorite is, of course: Slumdog Millionaire.

I have read how people are excited over this film.  They suggest that it will be a fine bridge between Eastern and Western culture.  But from the previews I have seen, it looks like an absorption of Western culture into Indian, and I find that kinda sad.  I like the thought of places that are exotic or foreign locations to be free of McDonald`s and Walmart.  I`d like for them to keep their identities and unique histories intact.  Of course, time marchs on and you can`t fight city hall.  Progress was Mayor Goldie Wilson`s middle name if you recall in Back to the Future (another great non-nominated film) Back_to_the_Future and we can`t stop it.  The future is now.  Everyone is on board the train to change. 

I like Ron Howard but I doubt that Frost/Nixon will be all that riveting, I mean… we know how it ends, right?  Brad Pitt is all that will come out of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button though the fantasy angle is pretty cool.  I don`t think  that Milk or The Reader will make it other than the possibility of Best Actor/Actress and that is okay, I`ll see either one of those at my leisure.

The Academy Awards has become more of an inner- political statement, otherwise The Dark Knight would have been inserted in there for sheer volume of dollars, but it doesn`t have the social clout of Slumdog Millionaire.  I don`t mean to be critical, but I`m still fuming over Tom Hanks not getting best actor for Cast Away. (should have been a Best Picture nomination as well.)Cast_Away

So… the Oscars are on tonight.  My selection for a date night movie rests in the votes of the Academy, which is all academic anyway.  We KNOW who is going to win, right?  But then again, everyone thought Brokeback Mountain would win a lot more than it did, including Best Picture.  Maybe Milk will make the up the difference.

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But just once… I`d like to be surprised.  The time is now 6:39 pm,  Frost/Nixon anyone? 

peace.

Reaction to the negative reactions to the re-enacting of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham

February 18, 2009

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine for 1759…

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I wonder what is becoming of world history? mtl-battlefield-0123.html And why do we bow to those who want to deny it? mtl-plains-battle-cancelled-0217.html#socialcomments-submit

I have to admit, if it were not for the music of the Band, I might never had heard of the Plains of Abraham…

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But that does not make it any less relevant.  Isn`t that what artists do, make us aware of things we might otherwise not be exposed to?

Oh, I`ve read the arguments of the separatists… how they feel it is insulting and “a slap in the face…” to re-enact the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, but I wonder… is that what re-enactments are all about?  Parti Québécois members don`t feel the loss of New France is anything to celebrate and that is why they strongly opposed the re-enactment.  Personally I think they have it all wrong.

Being from the United States and having just recently re-located to Ontario, I recall many Civil War battles that have been re-enacted in the past.  And the participants have been from both sides of the Mason/Dixon Line.  To them (and I have to agree), this is history in motion.

We sometimes lament that history will not be remembered, or that heroes will be forgotten with the passing of generations.  It is sad to think that the closing of our eyes seems to be a better solution than to be a part of a heritage that was shaped by a means that, unbeknown to us and completely out of our control, was a defining moment in history.  Maybe the French are embarrassed by the fact that the British caught them napping but 250 years is a long time to hold a grudge.

I am often out at night when the moon is full and think of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago looking up at that same moon on the night of his betrayal.  I do not blame the moon, but marvel at it.  I wonder how many great men in the past have looked up at it and struggled with what lay ahead of them and what the future held?  I imagine if I were to walk the fields at Gettysburg or to stand on the deck of Old Ironsides, I would feel the same way.

My own country owes a huge debt of gratitude to the French of the 1770`s because they came to our aid in our battle for independance from the British victors who vanquished them in Canada.  This might not have happened if the French had not still been pissed at the British over the Plains of Abraham.  Historians will hypothesize till the end of days over many of the “what ifs” and “if onlys” of the past events that have shaped the modern age.  But one thing is certain… we cannot change what has come to pass.

Perhaps if we could, we would go further back… before the conflict between the French and the British outside the walls of Québéc City, before the time of Christ even, back to where it all began in the Garden of Eden… then we would alter history in such a way that the times now would not be tainted with our own imperfections.  If we only could…

Meanwhile, it does not insult me to re-enact decisive battles for the sake of history.  If a song by the Band can arouse curiosity in me and cause me to research a topic, how much better to witness it first hand?  Imagine the young minds that could be inspired by the true events that happened long before we were more concerned about political correctness than accuracy?

Sometime in the future people may look back at the simple triviality’s that separated us and smile.  If there would be a re-enactment then to celebrate the times of now, who could be the losers?

Maybe, you and me…

peace.

Black Like Me

February 15, 2009

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I was saddened to hear of James Whitmore’s death this week.  The article I read reminded us that he was in the movie, Shawshank Redemption, but he was a much brighter star than the role he played in that film.

I remember him (vaguely) on television in the program, The Law and Mr. Jones and I recall him being in the movie, Them!, with James Arness.  But the film that I saw him starring in as a lead man and remember most vividly was the role of a news reporter that went undercover in the movie, Black Like Me.tt0057889

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The film was highly controversial for 1964.  This was a period of high racial tension in America at a time shortly after JFK’s assassination.  The premise was a white reporter having his skin color changed to dark in order to do a study of racial relations first hand.  I must admit that James Whitmore as an actor drew this 10 year old to the subject more than the subject itself.  I was living in Iowa at that time and the social and racial injustices weren’t as prevalent in my home town as other parts of the country, or at least… perhaps not as openly.

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Little did I know what would happen in American history in the years surrounding that movie, but as I sat alone and watched it in the theatre I believe it was the first time I was exposed to racial prejudice and it shocked me.  I remember later reading in Reader’s Digest a story of a black man who met a little white girl who was curious about his appearance.  Working up the courage to approach him, she reached out and touched his face and then exclaimed, “That’s just skin!”

Sometimes, out of the mouths of babes…

Black Like Me is a true story and it was James Whitmore’s  favorite role.

peace.

Lady, you need help (and so does your doctor)

February 9, 2009

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I don’t like to be judgemental… Octuplets but does anyone else think this woman is off her rocker?  I mean besides her mother? Octuplets

I imagine she is a nice person who loves her children but… what’s up?  To be an unwed, unemployed mother of six and STILL WANT MORE!  you gotta have a screw loose.

…and what doctor would go along with implanting six embryos into her? Octuplets

I feel badly for the children and the taxpayers… maybe the hospital should slip the bill under the physician’s door?  How did she pay for the procedure?  Yikes.

We live in a marvelous age when medical science can help responsible parents with their pregnancy but I can’t fathom why this kind of thing was acceptable.  Working families are having a hard time feeding their kids with this fractured economy of ours, who thinks this is okay?

Ms. Nadya Suleman, 33, earned a degree in child and adolescent development in 2006 from California State University at Fullerton and in 2008 was studying for a master’s degree in counseling, according to a university spokeswoman interviewed in The Long Beach Post-Telegram.

A degree does not equate common sense…  A friend of mine used to say, “What do you get when you send an idiot to college?  You get an educated idiot.”

With the state of California near bankruptcy,Octuplets it sounds to me that the inmates are running the asylum…

peace.

You’re A Pretty Good Man

February 9, 2009

I woke up today feeling pretty good.  In fact, I wake up every day feeling pretty good and I’m pretty sure I’ll be feeling pretty good tomorrow.  I feel pretty good about yesterday, too, though I did nothing spectacular in terms of  creating, discovering, or developing something, but still… pretty darn good.

Now you might be wondering… why does he feel pretty good and not , say… handsomely good or beautifully good, maybe even strikingly good?  I’ll admit there are times when I feel not-so-good, perhaps (what!) even pretty bad, but I wouldn’t say ugly good or homely good, not even revoltingly good.  Just pretty darn good. hmmm…

A sense of accomplishment makes me feel pretty good and I’m sure it works for you, too.  Sometimes I feel like the little engine that could, or at least… thought he might.  There is nothing that makes a guy feel like he has accomplished something more than the approval of his wife.  I almost said significant other, but I don’t  think that applies here.  You can have your bosses approval, your friends and colleagues, even ardent fans and admiring strangers “thumbs up”.   But the approval of ones spouse is what sets it apart in my mind.  The one you have chosen to share your hopes and dreams with, suffered joys and sorrows, languished over worldly affairs and simple pleasures with, ah… that ones approval is paramount to feeling pretty good in my mind because he/she is a reflection of you.

I don’t know why we say “pretty” as a limiting modifier adverb, to me it seems conflicting like a “pretty good day” could also mean an “almost lousy day”.   I tried to look it up but the history of using a word that is used in describing something “attractive” as something to “calculate on a scale” eluded me.

My beautiful girl greeted me this morning with the exciting news that Raising Sand, the collaboration between Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, won a Grammy for Album of the Year.  To understand why this was exciting you have to go back a few months ago while we were still separated by a distance of some 1800 miles.

While I was still in Florida and she remained in Canada we sent each other many cards, gifts and e-mails.  We talked for hours on the telephone, instant messaged each other daily, and wrote in journals that we mailed back and forth.  Sort of a Message in a Bottle on dry land.  I even had servers in restaurants that knew of our history because of those journals that I’d be working on (some were brightly colored with flower arrangements that made this construction worker appear quite debonair at times).

Anyway, when Raising Sand was released I saw it at Best Buy and thought, “I’m going to get that for my fair one” and bought it without even listening to it.  I put it in the mail thinking that it would be a nice, I’m thinking of you gift.  But when she received it, not only was my fair one thrilled but she asked me, “How did you know?” and I replied in my all wise and self assured tone, “Know what?”.  “That I was thinking of buying that very CD!” Well, of course…

I had a pretty good idea that my lovely wife would enjoy that CD, even though our relationship thus far had been sporadic moments in time.   I had no idea that it would garnish so many awards.  It was like our cerebral connection so many hundreds of miles away, that one moment of her thinking and my reacting that had to be more than just chance.  It was our feeling for each other that reached out and inspired that purchase…

So imagine her enthusiasm this morning when my love found out the awards our album received last night.  She greeted me with a cup of tea and a Guess What?  to which I sleepily replied,  hmm?  Raising Sand won a Grammy for Album of the Year!  Oh really?  That’s nice… but I didn’t think it was all that good.

OOPS… WRONG THING TO SAY!!

My raw and dry humor is not as readily received in the morning, I guess it has to creep up on you.  Anyway… needless to say I was treated rather coolly for the next few minutes until I convinced fair Chantal that it was a very cool thing  and I remembered how it came about that we made that bond all those months ago and reiterated that it was OUR CD and it was a time well worth remembering… our time, the distance bridged by our being joined in spirit.

Gosh I love her.

So if you haven’t heard the news…

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Raising Sand… it’s a pretty good CD.

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peace.

Why I HATE the Pittsburgh Steelers

February 3, 2009

Perhaps hate is too strong of a word, how about immensely dislike with every fiber of my being?

Like millions of Americans and people the world over, I watched the Super Bowl last night and boy did I hope for an upset.  I was SO tired of hearing about how great the Steelers were, of this much ballyhooed 6th ring was for a new “dynasty”.  Well… I for one, am not buying it.

First of all, this is not the Steel Curtain of the ’70’s, so stop calling them that.  THAT team was 30 years ago!  Different players, different coaches and yes… same stinking town.  THAT team was a dynasty, this one?  hmmpf!

Second, how can a quarterback with the lowest rating in Super Bowl HISTORY return to Super Bowl form?  It makes me puke to hear Al Micheals and John Madden gush over the Steelers quarterback.  Last time out that guy (Big Ben) threw for one yard.  (1)  One yard for the entire game.  (1)   Somehow against Seattle, they won anyway… poor officiating the lead cause.

Third,  against the Cards I read “The Dynasty Against the Doormats” and it makes me think  “show them Kurt Warner” and by golly, he almost does.  The Arizona Cardinals beat the spread and could have won the game EXCEPT for:

1)  James Harrison’s “amazing” 100 yard dash.  Al Micheals asks:  “Did he step out of bounds?”  but we never see the run back on the side lines.  John Madden says, “Aw… with a run like that YOU GOTTA GIVE IT TO HIM!”  and so they do.  I’d like to have seen what Al was talking about way back in the beginning of the run when there was a crowd all over Harrison, but the replay ignored that part of the run back.

2)  Penalties.  Wow, did Arizona rack up the penalties.  15 yard facemask, which looked like the incidental 5 yarder to me.  15 yard roughing the passer, which looked like an inplay follow through which is NEVER called.  15  yard roughing the place kick holder, huh?  Never heard that one called.

3)  It was the SUPER BOWL!  Let them play!  Arizona had racked up 96 yards of penalties to Pittsburg’s 15 by the early parts of the 4th quarter then the officials decided to balance it out.  The big, bad Steelers who LOVE to get physical sure played nice, didn’t they?

But am I the only one to feel this way?  No…

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I would have loved to see the Cards pull the upset to avenge the Seahawks loss and the NFC but that wasn’t allowed to happen.

So the Steelers have the 6th ring combined for two different eras (with help)  But a dynasty? Please… put in Joan Collins and John Forsythe then give me a call.

Arizona 23 – Pittsburg 20 … in my mind, the game ended there.  Way to come back, Kurt Warner.

——– UPDATE !———     ———UPDATE!———     ———–UPDATE!———-

Okay,  I rarely do this but since the  post is still current,  I needed to add this post script.  As has been pointed out by several readers, bad officiating is in the eyes of the beholder and I regret that I generalized a little bit.  I did research Super Bowl 40 and found the following on wikipedia:

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and I was corrected by one reader that incidental face mask penalties are no longer called so a 15 yarder was the correct call.

Being in Canada now, the local station did show the Super Bowl, but I must not have had the advantage of those of you who COULD see the run back by Harrison, where I questioned whether he ran out of bounds.  Where I was viewing I didn’t even get to see all the commercials ya’ll did so again… my mistake.  (lamenting not seeing commercials?  whoda thunk it?)

This does NOT mean I have to like the Steelers.  I am a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and have had to endure thrashings by them much too often, but I do respect the franchise and what it has accomplished in garnishing 6 rings of the 43 Super Bowls played.   I cannot discount that effort.

It WAS a good game and it kept our attention down to the very last seconds, which is what we sit down, expect and cheer for.

So… mea culpa mea culpa, I apologize to the fans of the Steelers.  In this instance, I was wrong and I am big enough to admit it.  I would love to see a dynasty of the new millenium to MATCH the one of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 70’s and who knows?   Big Ben may even rise to the stature of Terry Bradshaw.  The press was not always kind to Terry during that time and I see some comparisons to that great quarterback and Ben Roethlisberger Steelers-Roethlisberger_s.Ribs… so I for one  would be rootin’ for him to succeed.

It was history in the making and I’m glad I got to see it.

peace.