Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2009

Wrapping it Up, Part II

Personally, this has been a crappy year. Oh, I'm fine, and nothing particularly horrid has happened to me, but practically everybody around me has suffered pain or misfortune of one sort or another. This is, I'm told, what happens as one grows older. Well, growing older is for the turtles, is what I say.
I must admit to a bit of unease as I regard the flip of the calendar. 2010...every time I think of the new year, I remember a poster on the wall of the Armoury where I used to go for Navy League Cadets. It showed the current year in big print--would have been 1983, I think--at the bottom of the picture, then all the years ahead in smaller and smaller print on the way up the poster, like a pathway. I seem to recall that 2010 was the last one you could make out, just a speck. It's funny--I looked at that poster every Friday night and it never failed to give me a shot of excitement at a future yet undreamed. Now that the future's the past, the thought of that poste…

Wrapping It Up, Part I

The Sunday between Christmas and New Years' is one of my favourite days in the calendar year. It's a day of utter relaxation, heavily seasoned with great meaty chunks of newsprint. The papers stop reporting the news and start analyzing it--which is, even if they don't yet realize it, the only thing that will keep them afloat in a world where news is tailored to each online "customer" and delivered, gratis, instantly.The analysis is even more prevalent this year, given that by popular demand, it's "the end of the decade". (Just as January 1, 2000 wasn't the beginning of the decade, December 31, 2009 won't mark its ending. Unless, of course, you start counting things at zero. Go ahead, count your, two, three, four, five. See?)
Never mind. As usual, my brain is wired differently from just about everyone else's. I'll go along with everybody's (wrong) assertion that 2010 marks the beginning of a new decade. So let's l…

Holiday Abecedarius

A is for Anticipation. Cf. Catelli: I share his sentiments.

B is for Boris Karloff, still and for all time the only Grinch I recognize.
C is for Christ. This is the one time of year I hearken back to the religious parts of my upbringing (I veered all over the place from harshly atheistic to reasonably devout, hitting every point in between more than once. I both respect and enjoy the traditions of the Christmas story, even if I don't currently believe in a Saviour as such. If the choice is between piety and crass commercialism, give me piety, forever and ever, amen.
D is for Deck the Halls--a carol I positively *hate*. The lyricist within wishes the 'fa la la la la, la la la la' was just about ANYTHING else. Wikipedia notes that carols were originally dances and not songs. This one should have stayed a dance.
E is for Eggnog. Eva can't stand the stuff. I'm neutral on it--but I make a point of buying one liter a year, and enjoying it the way I enjoy coffee: only partly …

So This Is Christmas....

Did you hear about the dyslexic devil worshiper? He sold his soul to Santa.
The holiday season proceeds apace. It sure doesn't feel like Christmas around this here Breadbin. That's probably because we've had two Christmases already. Eva was just cleared to drive this past week, and only for short trips. We had to make the trek to my dad and stepmom's place away back in November, and we met with my mom and stepdad shortly after. Her folks are coming this year for Christmas Day--not just a first, but something I never thought would happen, ever, ever, ever. Eva's parents are at least as housebound as we are ourselves, and tradition has always been that Eva spend Christmas day with them. I haven't been able to go with her for some time, because of the Tux and the Peach...This will be the first Christmas we haven't been separated in at least four years.
I have four whole days off work, although I'm going in tomorrow for a couple of hours to write some orders-…


Back in 1990, I fell in love with a piece for solo cornet and band entitled Jubilance. It had everything I like in such a work: driving energy, technical virtuosity, and beautiful lyricism in its interludes. For nearly twenty years, I would find myself tonguing the main theme under my breath whenever I was nervous or excited. (If you want to hear it, perform a YouTube search on 'Phillip Cobb Jubilance'...I'd embed it, but in all honesty the sound quality is somewhat tinny).
Jubilance was just beyond my ability to play on my euphonium, when I was at the peak of my abilities. Which is to say, as solos go, it was mildly to moderately difficult.
My friend Craig, who is a professional trumpeter and phenomenal musician, sent me link on Facebook a month or so ago, to a piece by the Black Dyke Band called Immortal. I've ripped this to my iPod, searched (so far in vain) for a way to buy it, and played it incessantly, and now I'd like to share it with you.

Black Dyke, formerly…

Stranger In A Strange Land

I often find myself feeling contempt for things and situations I don't understand. And being as I am the youngest 37-year-old on the planet, there remain plenty of those.I am, you know. The youngest 37-year-old on the planet, I mean. I know this because I extend an enormous effort to maintaining a facade that broadcasts precisely the opposite: here is an old soul who's seen it all and now exists largely on some plane well above it all. Yes, that sounds snotty, and it is...when my facade maintenance isn't up to snuff, you can occasionally get a glimpse of the snottiness. Moreover, anyone with a shred of perception undoubtedly can see right through the thin patina of world-weariness to the fear lurking underneath. I maintain that patina anyway. Or I try to, not yet having learned to feel comfortable in my discomfort. At 37 years of age, I still have so much to learn.
I had a learning experience last night.
Last night, I attended--for the first time in seven years--the annual …


I seem to be suffering from a mild case of writer's block.
It's not so much that I am bereft of ideas. There are lots of things happening on which I could deposit a cent or two: the Afghan detainee scandal, Copenhagen, and Stephen Harper riding high in the polls despite both. I tarted up a column saying goodbye to my favourite baseball player--Roy "Doc" Halliday--then decided not to bother publishing it.
I seem to be suffering from an acute case of thinker's block.
I just don't feel like writing, or thinking, or doing much of anything, this month. A full blog entry seems like so much work, and a blog entry on anything requiring--gasp!--research makes me throw up in my mouth just a little.
Part of this is free-floating annoyance, something I'm subject to every now and again. There's no reason for just happens...but it's all-encompassing, and it causes me to think things I wouldn't normally. Afghan detainees tortured? That's what war is…

Update: The wife, the self, and the work

Eva: she hates being on the shelf. I knew this before, but the sheer depth of her hatred has made itself abundantly clear in the past month or so. She's not supposed to be doing much even now. She needs to be reminded of this on a daily, indeed an hourly, basis. It's a difficult balancing act, because all sit and no work makes my wife go nuts.
To illustrate: Two days...TWO! DAYS!...after she came home from the hospital, Eva announced that she was going to walk up to the corner and get herself a pizza. I told her she most certainly was not, how could she even think of doing such a thing, you sit right there in that couch, woman, and I will fetch hither yon pizza. In response, she assumed a posture I almost never see from her, one that says I'm hearing you but I'm not listening. The more I pleaded and cajoled, the firmer she set her shoulders. I was on my way out with friends to see a hockey game, already not feeling that great about leaving her alone. Pride, exasperatio…

Tiger! Tiger!

bleeding brightIn the Escalade that night What tumultuous downhill lie Has forc'd thy infidelity?
(with apologies to Wm. Blake)
The jokes are out already. Some of them are pretty clever, actually.
What's the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards. What were Tiger Woods and his wife doing out at 2:30 in the morning? They went clubbing.Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron. I've posted on this before. Admittedly, the "celebrity" in that case, one Tahir "Tie" Domi, was considerably further down the fame ladder than is Tiger Woods. Still, everything I said there applies here, only more so. Once again, we are confronted with a "devoted husband and father", a man who has assumed godlike status to his fan base, caught behaving in an ungodly way. Once again, he seems surprised he was found out and upset that the media are making life difficult for him. Hell…


Meant to post in the last couple days. Didn't. Threw my back out, instead.It comes with the territory, when you're approaching 40...or so I'm told, anyway. I've had twinges in my back every now and again. This wasn't a twinge. This was a lock. I was putting laundry in the dryer...something I've done, oh, about a thousand times. Only this time my back announced that I was not putting anything in the dryer any more, instead it was time to moan and wail piteously. Very low in my back, almost at my left hip, something wrenched and presto! Ken joined Eva on the shelf for a couple of days.
Oh, we made a pair on Monday and Tuesday, let me tell you. I couldn't do the square root of frig-all and Eva's not supposed to do much of anything, either. I'd try to help her, say, put her slippers on, and I'd wind up clenching my back and gasping like a beached fish; she'd help me get my socks on--I don't mind admitting that with my almost total lack of flex…

Don't Send Me Shopping

So with Eva out of commission, my responsibilities have increased a tad. I am Shopper Pro Tem.This is not a position to which I am eminently suited, believe me. I don't drive, so my cargo capacity is somewhat limited--unless I break down and take a cab, which is hellishly expensive. But that's not even the half of it.
Like most men I know, I'm firmly in the "get-what-you-came-for-and-then-get-the-hell-out" school. Unless I'm shopping for books, I don't linger any longer than I absolutely have to. I detest crowds, I usually hate the Muzak playing in the background...the whole shopping experience is often one big drag. And I freeze when confronted with too much choice. That's because apparently my name changes instantly to Murphy whenever I cross the threshold of a store. If there's more than one choice, I'm apt to screw it up. Sometimes even one choice is one choice too many...why'd you get that?
Yesterday morning, I sallied forth, armed with …

Iggy, this is your last chance

Mr. Ignatieff, I've been watching your nonperformance as Liberal Non-Leader for some time now. At first, I have to admit, I figured you were laying low because you had a Harp(er)oon up your sleeve somewhere, and you were only waiting for the correct 'winning conditions' (to bring back an odious Canadian political phrase) to arrive. Then the Harp(er)oon must have gone off in your face, or something, because I haven't seen hide nor hair of you for the last few months. Your party has been plummeting in the polls, and you don't even seem to care.Well, listen up, Iggy: the PM is about to try to finish you off...or so he thinks. In reality, what he's fixing to hand you is a glorious chance to resurrect your moribund political career. And all you have to do is take that chance. Harper is getting a little too cutesy for his own good, here. He's presented you with what he thinks is a dilemma: support his HST legislation, and reap a whirlwind of voter scorn and disgus…

Black Friday

I don't get it.I mean, I really don't get it. I've noticed a distinct acceleration in the Canadian retail market over the past week. While we are nowhere near the orgasmic paroxysm called 'Black Friday' in the United States, we're well on our way: several major Canadian retailers are touting early Boxing Day sales. "THE SAVINGS START....NOW!!!" I was laying in bed at 1:30 this morning (vacation-related insomnia), listening to 680 News covering the massive lineups at some mall in Atlanta, Georgia. Garmin navigation systems were on sale for $60, George Foreman grills for $9...not counting the cost of time or aggravation, of course. There were apparently traffic jams to get into parking lots. This makes no sense no matter whose perspective you take. The retailers are running huge loss-leaders to draw people in, and do you really think people stick around to buy anything that might make the store money once the stock of 90% off crap is gone? If you're a…


I was going to write something on the whole Climategate controversy today, but frankly, I'm just too tired. (h/t Catelli for getting to this first).
So instead, I'm going to take you to Peter Watts and he shall set you straight.

I will add two things. One, it's not called "global warming" anymore for several reasons (one of which is that people, particularly in Canada, tend to think that'd be a good thing and two, the globe is not uniformly, or even entirely predictably, warming). The second thing I'll add is that even if you're inclined to dismiss the findings of scientists all over the planet, replicated over and over and over again, all you have to do is head north to see climate change in action. Ask some Inuit. Their oral histories cover off quite a period, and they're seeing unprecedented things of late.
Look, we can argue amongst ourselves as to what degree we're at fault for this climate change. And we can perhaps quibble with the models,…

A Gay Old Time

I've been watching the 'Brendan Burke is gay!" story play out over the last few days. Sparked by John Buccingross's fine writeup over at, the coverage has spread far and wide. An interview aired last night on TSN.
It's not really much of a story. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Brendan Burke, 19, is the son of Brian Burke, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brendan's gay. That's it. Well, okay, that's not quite it. Brendan came out to his dad last Christmas. The elder Burke is the very definition of a 'man's man'--he came to Toronto boasting his new team requires 'the proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence." No nancy-boys on a Burke team, understand. . There are fathers all over the world, made more or less in the Brian Burke mold, whose reaction to a son's coming out ranges from disdain to rage, sometimes killing rage. This father said "we love you, this won't change a …

"That's Not News!"

Jim Kunstler embarks on his latest iteration of apocalypse with the following:

How infantile is American society? Last night's CBS "Business Update" (in the midst of its "60 Minutes" program) featured three items: 1.) The New Moon teen vampire movie led the weekend box-office receipts; 2.) Cadbury shares hit an all-time high; 3.) Michael Jackson's rhinestone-studded white glove sold at auction for $350,000. Some in-house CBS-News producer is responsible for this fucking nonsense. How does he or she keep her job? Is there no adult supervision at the network?

My answer, which dovetails nicely with his, is: no, there isn't. But that's no surprise, since there are so few adults left in America (or indeed, anywhere else in Western society) anymore.
Kunstler goes on to say that it's far past time America re-localized and called a halt to its financial shenanigans. He's been arguing the same thing every week for a number of years, and still few peop…

There are no words

for how bad this Leafs team is. Pathetic, base, horrendous, peewee--well, peewee comes close, maybe. Wonder if they could beat a peewee team. Hell, I'm not sure they could beat the Timbits.
As of right now, you've got one forward--Phil Kessel--who knows how to play the game. For now, anyway: he's only been a Leaf for seven games. Give him time: eventually his hockey sense will desert him and he'll be able to miss an empty net on a clear-cut breakaway the way every other Leaf forward does. You've got one all-round defenseman in Ian White who plays the game hard every shift. He's the obvious choice for captain, but the Leafs' braintrust evidently does not feel his game is worthy of emulation. Or something. You have half a goalie in Jonas Gustavsson. He's great positionally and he has acrobatic reflexes but his rebound control is atrocious and he handles the puck like it's a live grenade. This team would play better coaching itself than they do under Wilso…

Finding the Humour

I'm not really a funny guy. Certainly not funny like my brother-in-law, who can make a gargoyle guffaw. Or my father, who doesn't consider his day well and truly lived until he's caused someone to shoot something out of their nose. Some people--my dad and brother-in-law among them--have a gift for transmuting stress into humour. I've seen it done often enough that I can make a passable attempt, but that's about it.
Remove the stress, though, and funny things bubble up in its place.
Like at the hospital yesterday. Yeah, I know we're in the middle of an H1N1 epidemic and I understand what this sign was trying to communicate, but the lobby of a hospital seems an odd place for a sign that says PLEASE DO NOT VISIT IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL. I chuckled at it yesterday, before Eva's surgery; now that it's over with, I'm finding that to be a real knee-slapper.
Jesus, my father, though. We're on line at the Atrium Cafeteria and perusing the lunch special…

Eva is fine

That's the gist of what this post is going to say: my wife is fine. She's being kept in hospital overnight because of her diabetes and (extremely mild) asthma. Truth be told, she probably could have been released this evening.
Everyone knows hospitals aren't fun places to be. I have to give Henderson Hospital some points for friendly, courteous doctors and volunteers. I was kept informed of where my wife was at all times; the minute the surgery was over, her doctor came out and told me she was okay, gave me a rundown on the procedure, and let me know what was happening next.
Oh, and they have this view off their cafeteria patio:
The surgery started on time and was finished about twenty minutes ahead of when we were told it would be. They did not perform the riskier omentectomy, as the laparoscopic instruments were sufficient. In addition to the hysterectomy, they found and drained a cyst on one of Eva's ovaries.
Thank you to brother Jim for serving as transport and c…

Up In Smoke

I have a few flaws. Quite a few, if you get me on days that end in -y.

One big one: I never seem to grasp anything the first time you explain it to me. My grasping mechanism is continually on the fritz: whole paragraphs can go by, literally, as they say, in one ear and out the other; and then WHAMMO! with great force, my mind will snatch one detail and fixate on it. From then on, it takes an unconscionable amount of effort to divest me of that single detail. Plans or situations change, and the changes are explained to me, and three hours or three days later all I remember is that single word in chapter 4, paragraph m, subsection why the hell can't you pay attention?My mind is most likely to seize on words I want to hear. Sometimes the words can be close to what I'm hoping to hear and my brain goes yep, that's close enough. You heard that, didn't you? I did. And now that we've heard it, we can't unhear it. Words can not express how annoying this is for my wife, wh…

Going Moldy....

Show more