Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordfuse (Gaudy Gift Edition)

Sometimes, gifts are so, ahem, adorable there's only one thing to do with them: give them to someone else. Quick.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

retro candies. Oh and Bailey's too. But mostly stories about one-eyed mobsters and cats with brain damage.

Thanks Chelle & Neil (& your adorable anklebiter). Sorry we broke the cake.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:

outsmarting grown-ups.

Neighbourhood kid at my door: We made some boats we did and these boats are cool and our babysitter said it even and we put them in some water and they floaded (well mine floaded) and so do you want to buy our boats because this one is $3 and the other one is $2 and we are selling them so do you want our boats?

Me: (chuckling, Grinchie heart expanding) Heeeeey, those are cool. Let me look more closely at those. Haha wow. (How downright evil would it be to say NO thanks I don't really need some scrap wood and screws and a few sticks even if it "floads" and even if you are basically asking me to endorse your still forming fertile imagination as it builds critical neural pathways uh oh what if this is a crucial moment in the development of your psyche and I become forever known as the creep next door who ruined your dream to become a shipwright or an engineer or what if you could have grown up to become the next Steve Jobs and why do I think so much and let's get back to the point shall we--could I really shut the door on these adorable little boys in their ball caps with their dreams in their hands and wow these kids have really big eyes awwwwww man how the hell am I going to hang these boats on my fridge? Thinkthink.) Could I take a picture of your boats? (Wait a minute, I have an idea...) Well boys, I don't need any boats right now but could I make a donation so you can make even more boats?

Neighbourhood kid: (nods enthusiastically as I hand him a twoonie and a loonie) Thanks bye!

Me: (chuckling, shaking my head at their sheer adorableness, shuts the door) Those cute little entrepreneurs. (Chuckling, scratches chin, Hey? Did those kids just sucker me out of three bucks? And umm...will they return tomorrow with even more charm and request that I a. buy a new boat or b. invest in their business venture again? Did those kids just bamboozle me? Naw. Not possible. Right?)

Epilogue: (20 minutes later....)
Same neighbourhood kid at my door: (holding up a stick wrapped with red duct tape) Hi do you want to buy this we made it and it's a spear!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Things that are most likely the devil:

hazelnut chocolate tarts, each one the size of a small pie. How was I to know I was supposed to share it with someone?


Friday, July 19, 2013

Bee Splat

Confession: when my cousins and I were kids we thought that honey just somehow sort of grew inside of bees so when there were dead bees stuck to the grills of various vehicles in our yards throughout summer, we would lick our fingers and stick them in the bee splat and then taste it and I swear it was sweet like eating gummie-bears (or maybe gummie-bees in this particular circumstance), and obviously I either had an incredibly underdeveloped palate or I was super-skilled at tricking my taste buds into believing anything because oddly, we did this for a few summers, and by we I probably mean I did this periodically for years and my cousins did it once, maybe twice and if we’re being honest I was likely the only one who thought bees were flying fuzzy sacks of honey yet I was so completely convinced that bee splat was indeed honey I bet, had my teacher asked, I could have written a persuasive essay on the topic. For me, it was a fact. Actually more than a fact, it was science.

Here’s my point: I was kind of a dumb kid.

Here’s another point: it’s never too late. Many people can and do change. However, there’s something important about this change I refer to. One must want to change. One must actually work on changing. It’s doable. That’s the thing though. Before this can happen, one must realize that change is necessary. Self-awareness is key. Change won’t happen without it. That’s the kicker.

Before change could kick me in the head a few times, I had to learn to acknowledge and accept my foolishness. Sure, I’d still like to believe bees are tiny sacks of honey buzzing around like video game coins I could collect and pop in my mouth if I could only jump high enough but well, that’s nuts. Instead, honey is bee puke. (Or something like that; I still haven’t completely figured this out.)

So here’s my final point: we only begin to change when we change our thinking. We have to recognize that we don’t know everything even when we think we do. We have to get comfortable with doubt. With error. With vulnerability. With mistakes. With our fallibility.

And all joking aside, why must we do this? Because it teaches humility. The most secure people are almost always the most humble too. As the saying goes, “swallow your pride occasionally; it’s not fattening you know.”

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I hate drugs.

I hate drugs. Hate them. About a week ago, early morning, walking down a city street with several other people, I encountered a woman moving unsteadily, as if reaching out for a car door. Approaching her, I couldn't guess her age because her bruised eyes and all the swelling disguised her features. Her body language seemed to simultaneously warn and summon. Inside each of all of us on that sunny street as we watched, I'm sure we made the same quick assessment: crackhead, druggie, something like that. Despite these whispered inner thoughts, our actions spoke quite loudly: we all walked away.   

I hate drugs. What they do to users makes me feel angry and selfish and small and powerless. But mostly afraid. I get it though. I understand dopamine. I know addiction is deeply complicated. I also know it's complete bullshit when people say marijuana is harmless. Ditto the bullshit that it's not a gateway drug. Gateway. It implies an access, something invitational, a moving forward, to advance. Well, that gateway led my cousin to a variety of other drugs, alcohol addiction, a major car accident that left him a quadriplegic and eventually to his early death. And countless others. We all know someone.

Now Cory Monteith. I feel sad for him and for his family, for all my fellow Canadians who claimed him and projected onto him our ideals. Despite it all, he truly was a talent. But there's something more I want to know, something at the core of this entire conversation:

Who was his drug dealer? Where is the piece of shit coward who supplied him? 

To the drug dealers out there,  

I can feel for you. I know you have faced difficulties. I know there’s an empty hole in you, the very same hole there is in all of us, but you fill it with money and drugs and all the sad outcomes associated with drugs while the rest of us fill it with family and friends and careers and God and food and carpentry and music and maybe even a little too much Facebook. But that doesn't excuse you.

Still though, I can feel for you. I think most people understand that there is a troubled young person at the core of you, a child so buried in shame and recrimination now that you may not even recognize yourself when you look in the mirror. Maybe you weren't loved enough. Maybe you weren't smiled at, touched, hugged. Maybe something horrible happened to you. It’s sad. But that’s no excuse either.

Or maybe you’re just trying to survive. Maybe you’re in debt so deep you just can’t get out. But your money obsessed manipulation drives your behavior like a bus that picks up passengers, drops them off in the middle of nowhere and then drives over them while their families watch them suffer, even die, unable save them. I really don’t know. Again, no excuse.    

Plus I imagine you've been lying to yourself for so long now you cannot see the truth anymore. And thus you probably think you don’t need help. That’s because you’re delusional. I know it’s difficult for you to think clearly. Your drug-addled mind has is garbled. It’s a fact. Google it. Still, no excuse.

Think of the person you love most in your life. Is it your Mom? Your Dad? Your Grandma? Your Girlfriend? Your little sister? Maybe it’s even the person you just supplied drugs too. Now think about what’s more important to you: that person you love with all your heart or the drugs? I know you probably don’t want to face the truth but it’s the drugs. It is. That’s sad. Here’s a news flash though: that person you love knows that too. They know that you would choose the drugs over them in a second. If they really meant something to you then you wouldn't do what you do.

That’s why I feel for you. You’re lost. And only you can save yourself. If there is any shred of decency still within you then change your life. Now. Or live in a box with bars. Or die. The statistics prove it. And in the meantime, you should know that everyone is watching you. Mothers and fathers are watching. Sister and brothers. Even children are watching. They watch and they listen and they provide information and sometimes their efforts happen soon enough, before it’s too late. And I thank them and I thank them and I thank them. And sometimes they don’t. But none of this matters to you I guess, unless it interferes with moving your stock. Someday though, somehow, you will get what you deserve. And then there really will be no more excuses.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Taormina, Sicily
Sometimes I want to crawl inside a movie. And live there for a while. Feel the heat and humidity. Smell the honeysuckle. Really understand what it means to have a headache in 1963 Mississippi. Or to be tethered but weightless, sleeping in a capsule on the moon listening to something more silent than feathers. Or to endure sniper fire in the rain, soaked to the skin in mud and sweat applying pressure to my friend's wound knowing it is only prolonging the inevitable. Just for a while. Be there. Be somewhere else, absorbed by somewhere else. Sometimes.

When I was a kid I thought I would be in the movies. Probably not as an actor but a writer. Inside that big black air conditioned box, on a springy seat, my thoughts, my ideas, my words alive like geese in formation moving across the screen. My imagination galvanized in the flick of an eye, a nuanced gesture, a witty comment, a devastating twist. Or in a film effect like a point of view shot or like a scene in slow motion or better yet, reverse. I am still a sucker for reverse. "Behold the swelling scene!"

Sometimes I am so thankful for good films, for distractions, for being rapt. Sometimes I long for things that will likely never happen now. But there are other things still left to do. And sometimes, that is enough.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dear Sir,

You don't know me. We spoke for a few minutes today. Thank you for your help. You seem like a very good man. When I learned that your oldest son was killed earlier this year and we were asked to reach out to you and to provide some support, I knew what I wanted to say....

My oldest brother died of cancer not quite five months ago now. He was 51. Although he grew up, married happily, had three terrific children, even enjoyed three grandchildren, his death still feels like a crime. I can't think of a better word. Like someone broke into my house. An invasion. Still unsolved. I can't fathom how or why this happened to him or me. All I can see is the empty space where part of my life used to be. And what did that criminal steal from me? Peace.

But there's nothing I can do about it. Nothing. I have never felt so useless. And angry. But mostly useless.  Because I can't understand it. Will I ever? Maybe. Maybe not.

There is one thing I know though: he wouldn't want me to be unhappy.

I know this.

I know this for me and for his wife, his children, his family, his friends, all of us who loved him, all of us who stare at that same empty space every day.

It's really the only thing I know.

So Sir, I want to say this to you. I don't claim to know your pain. I have children. I can't imagine. But I wonder...what would your son want?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wordfuse (making-it-up-as-you-go Edition)

[adj, best used to describe flow]

Sylvia Plath said the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. I agree. Being prepared helps too. But sometimes, sometimes, it all comes naturally. As artist Edward Hopper said, "more of me comes out when I improvise."

Monday, July 1, 2013

This is my hood (today).

OM__ it's freakin' hot.
I hesitate to write on this topic because, as we all know, weather is predictably unpredictable, however...


(If it is indeed not too hot as you read this where you live, I apologize. Right now, here, it is hot enough to give hot sauce an inferiority complex.)

I know, I know. I live in Canada plus it's Canada day. Winter is lurking nearby, smirking. Who am I to complain?!’s just too hot. How hot IS it? It’s too hot to...

1. Cook.
2. East
3. Sleep.
4. Work.
5. Have sweat glands.
6. Play/relax/be together/be alone.
7. Encounter the colour red.
8. Be inside.
9. Be outside.
10. Be.

Anyone remember that ice tea commercial? Drink the refreshing beverage, fall backward in thirst-quenching happiness and sploosh you land inside your own personal mini-pool. Where’s the app for that? Isn’t this supposed to be the 21st century?

And finally...I know some of you are thinking “pshaw” as you read this. Indeed, some declare, “one can never be too hot.” But those people are a minority: they’re skinny.
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