Sunday, October 31, 2010

Teen Halloween

My daughter, the Ninja,
 with her unruly mustache
and penetrating gaze.
      I minored in Drama in university. My wife and I have both worked in amateur theatre. In other words, bad acting runs in our family.
     And now our spawn are continuing the tradition this teen Halloween. Let's just say, Inside the Actors Studio hasn't called yet.

My son, the bearded-lady
with a unibrow and a mullet.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Things that deserve the stink eye:

1. Any banker who has received a bonus in the last three years.
2. The current team of people who are ruining Miley Cyrus' career. She's 17 years old!
3. Mel Gibson, version 2010.
4. When a talented actor tries to get maximum publicity by smoking weed on a talk show because he cares about "decriminalization."
5. The Spam Recipe Exchange.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Memory Lane Meanderings

Bionic Man vs. Sasquatch circa 1977

     During elementary school, someone gave me a G.I. Joe action figure. It confused me: How do I play with it? During those years all my play was solitary (my brothers were much older) so it's not like I could play war with other action figures. So, I improvised. One tragic night Joe drove my toy jeep off my miniaturized version of Niagara Falls. He survived but later went missing after a tragic, um, fire.     
     I guess I enjoyed simulating top news stories more than pretending G.I. Joe saved the day. When he melted, I moved on to other toys.
     But then someone gave me a Bionic Man action figure!
     Now he could kick Joe's ass.
     And I could completely relate to him. His shirt was always inappropriately open. (See previous post.) His girlfriend was amazing. (She could throw a tennis racket at high speed while flinging her slow-motion blonde hair and being all angsty because she was rejecting her bionics.) And the Bionic Man could lift really big rocks before, during and after he fought the ever-elusive sasquatch! Plus, he had his own personal sound effect. Come. On. Who wouldn't want that?!!
     Anyway, nowadays I bet that boys would find it easy to relate to actions figures. Why? Because they can, a-hem, play with themselves. Let me explain.
     Custom designed action figures are available at That's My Face. Basically, send them a photo and they will create a mini-you, complete with your clothes, even replicas of your tattoos. Nothing sounds more egotistical, narcissistic or super-cool, if you ask me.
     I must admit that I especially like the concept of attaching my head to a buff professional wrestler-type action-figure body because currently my head seems to be affixed to a body with its own personal water-floatation device where my waist used to be. And, I could give this miniature version of myself to my son and then I would finally become his action figure hero. A Dad always wants to be his son’s hero, right?
     Uh oh. I just realized something. What if my son gets bored one day and pushes me off Niagara Falls? Or melts my feet off?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Enablers (Teens these Days!)

     My children are old enough now to be enablers. It’s great! (Shout out to Lindsay Lohan's mother.
     I've trained my son to bring home rootbeer for me from his job. And it takes practically no convincing whatsoever whenever I ask either of my teens to walk (or drive) to the convenience store and buy ice-cream-on-a-stick. To them, these so called “errands” are definitely not chores. They love spending my money and they also appreciate the opportunity to take their own money (more money I gave them because they never return the change) and buy their own "necessities." Although it's expensive, it’s so convenient! (These are the milestones they never mention in parenting books.)
     There’s only one problem.
     Someone taught them the meaning of hypocrisy.
     My devious teens are often quite skilled at correctly identifying when I’m manipulating them for my own selfish wants. And they also know what would happen if their mother knew. Um, let’s just say that kind of disclosure would be problematic. So call it extortion. Or call it blackmail. But I say, call them brats for threatening to tell their mother about our little “arrangement.”
     But I can play games too. I know their threats are empty because if they spoil the secret, they too will be prevented from ice-cream-on-a-stick and various other treats and indulgences. MUAHAHAHAHAHA right back at you my own little extortionist teen gang! How's Velma going to solve this my little Shaggies?!
     (Who teaches kids to be so devious anyway?)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Weird Word-of-the-Day Wednesday

schmaltz (noun): "excessive sentimentalism, nostalgia, fond memories." Apparently derived from the Yiddish word smalts meaning "melted fat." Uh, what?! Anyway...
     I'm feeling schmaltzy tonight looking at my school photo from Grade 9 circa 1980s. Look at me! How did I not know what a chick-magnet I was? Okay, maybe not a chick-magnet but at least chick bait? Or maybe a dangling carrot? (Yeah I know. Quit with the metaphors. It's getting awkward.)
     Check out my feathered hair. And count them: three unfastened buttons, intended (I guess) to show off my manly chesthairlessness. The eyes (and the open shirt) say confident but the slightly skewed mouth says facade-hiding-my-geekness-about-to-crack. 
     Here's what I remember thinking about then:
1. Christie Rudy.
2. How did Kate Stagman get away with a book report on a book that doesn't exist?!
3. Dodgeball sort-of freaks me out.
4. Why isn't Suzanne Somers on Three's Company anymore?
5. Christie Rudy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Memory Lane Meanderings

Just a regular Sunday afternoon conversation if you've been married almost 18 years and (like me) expect your spouse to be able to read your disintegrating mind.

Me: Is there something missing downstairs in the family room?
My wife: Like what?
Me: I don't know.
My wife: (confused). . .
Me: I don't know what it is.
My wife: (sudden idea) Like the rocking chair?
Me: No. That's still there. (thinking: Isn't it?) Something else.
My wife: (confused). . .
Me: I was downstairs yesterday and I suddenly remembered we used to have something in there that we don't have anymore but I forgot what it was that I remembered. (pause as she stares at me) Yesterday. (longer pause as she stares at me) And I wondered where it went?
My wife: (LOL) What? Welcome to my world. (Typically, it's my wife who forgets everything.)
Me: But it seemed important.
My wife: (still LOLing) Well, I'm sorry. I don't know what you can't remember. (thinking: you dipstick.)
Me: Yeah. I know. Pathetic. Anyway, if you happen to figure out what I am talking about that I can't remember, let me know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Recalibrate (verb): to readjust, alter, change, correct, fine-tune, fix, mend, modify, repair, revamp, shape up, transform, turn over a new leaf, turn things around.

     I love recalibrating my life. I always have. But mostly just on the outside.
     When I was a kid, my parents would leave home for the evening and I would use the opportunity to rearrange the furniture. Soon after though, I wanted to change everything again. Even now. I have this list. It itemizes a variety of renovations but much of it is probably not as necessary as I sometimes think. Like I sort of have this compulsion to paint. Get this. Last Christmas I repainted all the inside trim around my bathroom and bedroom doors. On vacation! And I have oiled my kitchen cupboards at one o’clock in the morning. But it’s more than painting. I can’t get rid of my list and as soon as one item is checked, I add another.
     I know how this sounds. I sound like someone who is never satisfied. Or maybe I sound materialistic. Or that I’m not happy unless I’m not happy. But I’m not any of those things. It’s just a nagging need to maintain or improve things, magnified by an inability to live in the moment.
     Despite my urge to change my surroundings, I find it so, so hard to recalibrate me. And I need some. I want recalibration. I want to shape up, make corrections, modify, fix, polish and transform myself. Yet even though I am motivated to continually alter and improve my environment, I’m never that successful at revamping and improving myself. Why is that so much harder?

Hard (adjective): bothersome, burdensome, irksome, onerous, strenuous, tiring, tough, troublesome, uphill battle, wearying.

     I’ve been told that things are neither hard nor easy. They just are. It’s only interpretation. Is that the answer?  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things that are most likely the devil:

     What do we really need? And do we need what we have? And could we possibly need more?
     Curious about that, I decided to do an inventory of sorts. In my home, here's what I counted:
  1. There are at least 11 keys on my laptop that I’ve never used.
  2. I have 67 blank CDs and 13 blank DVDs.  (Um, how much data could I possibly need to store?)
  3. We own 5 cameras.
  4. There are 6 bottles of shampoo in my shower and there are 3 bathrooms in my house.
  5. There are more than 25 coats hanging in various closets in my home.
  6. There are 36 dinner plates in my cupboards.
  7. There are 43 DVDS in our TV cabinet (for one TV).
  8. There are 6 phones in my house (and 4 people in my family).
  9. We own 2 popcorn-makers, 5 frying pans, 11 pots, 2 crock-pots, 1 grill, 2 griddles (and there are 4 burners on my stove).
  10. There are 53 electrical outlets in my house, many with something plugged in.
  11. I have one banana guard—a plastic case that prevents the banana in my lunch from getting bruised. Seriously.
  12. And finally, there are 372 headache pills in my cabinet. Maybe now I know why.
My conclusion? Stuff is the devil.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Right Word

It’s challenging to find the right word sometimes. We all experience those stumble-speak moments when the sought-after word escapes us. As the saying goes, it’s on the tip of the tongue but it won’t release itself and thus remains elusive like a familiar yet unnameable face.

What must it be like for those who look into the faces of their loved ones and can’t seem to recall who they are? That’s dementia. Over a year ago now my wife’s grandmother sat among us like someone waiting to cross the street. As we talked and visited around her, I wondered if we seemed like a blur of vans and trucks and semi-trailers rushing by in every-which-way because she couldn’t seem to engage, she couldn’t seem to cross. Instead she sat among us smiling while tears ran down her cheeks.

Do you know how difficult it is to have a conversation with someone without asking questions? Experiment with that sometime. It’s like rewiring your brain which is an appropriate comparison since those who experience dementia seem to be short-circuiting.

Today I relish the opportunity to still be able to find the right word. And right now I think that word is "saudade."

Sometimes one language doesn’t provide the perfect word so another language supplies its essence more eloquently. A Portuguese word, saudade refers to “the love that remains” or “the love that stays” after someone is gone. It’s an uncertain emptiness, a feeling of absence like a fond something or someone that should be there in a particular moment is missing. It’s that yearning and aching for “we know not what.” It’s like that song Time after Time, “after my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray, watching through windows, wondering if I’m okay....”

I think that’s what my wife’s grandmother is experiencing. And oddly, everyone surrounding her is experiencing the same thing, yet it’s her they long for. Not many things could be more difficult to cope with I suspect.

Today I am thankful to be able to find the right word.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What does a man want? What does a woman want?

     I was talking with some colleagues this past summer at a conference and during a break, one of the women, divorced and now considering dating again, turned to me, the only guy in our group, and asked this question: what exactly is a man looking for in a woman?
     Yeah. I know. Awkward. How did I end up in that conversation? And why ask me? I’m totally out of that single loop. But I gave it a go, commencing, as usual, with the first pea-brained ideas that entered my head. What do I think men are looking for in a woman?
1.      You should try to smell good.
2.      You should try to look good.
3.      You should try to be good.
     At that moment, this was all I had. But to be honest, I think most guys don’t have a huge list of criteria and I told the woman that. I added that some guys have a very detailed list of criteria for #2 but those guys are usually single and lonely or in high school.
     Anyway, my colleagues discussed this for a while and then one of them asked the woman her criteria for a man. Her reply seemed reasonable to me, basically all the things essential to any relationship: trust, honesty, respect, humour, cake, and to eat the cake too (at least sometimes). It made me wonder, if most people know this stuff, why do so many relationships fail? I guess it’s because what we think and what we say is often quite different than what we do.
     But it’s what another woman in the group said that I remember the most. She explained that she knew her husband met all her criteria because of her Dad. She revealed that as a teen, her Dad took her on “dates” to model for her how a man should treat her. To me, that seems like an excellent way to teach healthy relationships.
     Everyone wants love, everyone is seeking a healthy, fulfilling relationship, right? It’s only natural, but as the saying goes, “Love is like a booger. You keep picking at it until you get it, and then wonder what to do with it.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Memory Lane Meanderings

    Lots of guys love hunting. I'm not a hunter though. Yet, I've killed several animals. (Don't hate me.)
    Every single animal I killed was by accident. Well, except one. Okay, two. But I only considered killing one and I didn't! But one other may have died later. This is all sounding very shady, isn't it? Let me explain.
  1. I was about five. My cousins and I were playing with the new batch of kittens, unsupervised. Were any kids supervised in the 1970s? Anyway, I recall climbing a ladder to our attic, and I'm sure I dropped one of the kittens we were basically handling like toys. Remember Lennie Small in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. It was sort-of that kind of thing, minus the mice or men. Anyway...
  2. When I was about ten, my Mom let me have one of the fuzzy yellow goslings as a pet. I made a little fence in our farmyard. I dug a small pond and filled it with water. Classic farmboy stuff. After school one day, I returned home to discover a bantam rooster carrying around my gosling in its beak. That bastard rooster broke my goose's neck. I went completely postal and killed the rooster with a two-by-four. Yeah. Childhood anger issues.
  3. My third animal death, again involving a kitten, occured when I was about eleven. Let's just call this the La-Z-boy recliner episode. 'Nuf said. Yeah. Grimace. Not pretty. I had a complete anxiety attack.
  4. I hate turkeys. They peck. And they like to hang out in schoolyards. All puffed out with that disturbing wattle. They're terrifying. Believe me. Barely a teen, I returned home one day and one particulary agressive gangsta' turkey was waiting for me on our front step. So I chased it away then it chased me away then I threw a rake at it and broke its neck. Yeah I freaked. Not proud.
  5. I ran over a dog while on a date. We witnessed its prolonged death throes. She cried. I dry-heaved. The farmer came out and shot it. Worst. Date. Ever.
  6. After years of cleaning the fish bowl that my children repeatedly assured me they would clean every Saturday, I contemplated the perfect goldfish murder: a few drops of bleach. My conscience wouldn't let me though.
  7. We hit a moose. Little then, my kids were in the back seat. It floated, spectral-like, across the road on a foggy March night. In the split seconds before we rolled it into the ditch off our bumper, I debated: death by snowpacked ditch or death by oncoming traffic? I chose the moose. After we determined that everyone was unhurt and our vehicle had sustained only minor damage, I remember asking my kids: what did I say? My six-year-old son explained that I yelled MOOOOOOOOSE and my eight-year-old daughter noted that my wife yelled F*!K three times. Ah yes, family moments.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Things that are most likely the devil:

This is an actual scan of my brain on Aero chocolate bar ice cream. Isn't Windows 7 amazing? Anyway, I'm just an amateur neurologist but to my brain, ice cream is essentially a narcotic which causes my neuromathingabobbers to fire rapidly not unlike what happens every day on The View. Anyway, I broke it down as follows:   
  • Parts of my brain telling me NOT to stop eating ice cream.
  • Parts of my brain with better judgment (tiny bits in lower left hemisphere, apparently).
  • Holes. Don't ask.

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