Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Aloha, Farewell, Thank You (#248)

And I hope we'll meet again. I'm just not sure when, or if, it'll be here.

Way back umpteen years ago, I used to write a few goofy emails and send them to some online friends. One day, one of those friends who shall remains nameless (of course it was Hilary) double-dog dared me to commit to a weekly, goofy email, and expand the list of recipients.

Well, I'm not one to be double-dog-dared trifled with. Them of you who's reading this, and who may have known me for a considerable amount of time, know that to be a fact.

So, I wrote some goofy columns, even weekly 'til I got lazy, and then the whole blogging thing happened and I started posting them there - as well as - and eventually instead-of, the weekly emailed offering.

And so it went.

Some of you will recall a few months ago I mentioned that Hilary and I were looking for a lakeside place we could call home. In fact, before we found it, we decided it would be called The Nest. Our nest. A comfortable place to settle and enjoy the sunset of our years.

Well, a goodly number of you folks already know this for reasons which will be made clear momentarily, but for the few remaining among you - we found The Nest. And we're moving in over the next few weeks.

My life, our lives, are going to be considerably different than they've been. Hilary and I are both leaving homes in which we've invested the majority of our lives - where the bulk of our families and friends live. Neither of us knows anyone where we're going except for our real estate agent. It's a new path, in a new place, and likely the last home in our lives.

Aside from learning where the walleye/trout/muskie/pike/bass/whitefish and crappie are lurking at various times of the year, I'm going to be busy learning a lifestyle more closely aligned with the rhythms of Mother Nature. I'll be watching the sky and waters and checking wind direction and cloud movements on a near-hourly basis, instead of whenever I'm heading "out."

We'll be living "out."

I'm excited and a bit trepidatious. It's a big change for both of us and for our children. But I'm quite sure our new path holds surprises, wonders, and uh-oh moments galore.

You'll see pictures from me, from time to time. (And regularly from Hilary, if you wisely hook up to her blog.)

But I'm not certain there'll be much more in the way of Baron It All's. One way to catch up on my (and other interesting folks') happenings, would be to join us at the online version of The Nest. It's a small, eclectic, and interesting little community. (And you dasn't hasta' pay a cent.)

I try to check in there daily, though appearances may be a tad scanty whilst we're moving. As of this writing, we haven't lined up an internet provider yet but we know for sure it won't be the cable-based variety we're used to.

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I mentioned Hilary's blog above and for those of you who have not yet seen the photos, here's a link to a previous blog of hers wherein she posted some shots of our soon-to-be home.

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Thanks to those of you who've been reading my drivel for years, most especially to those of you who also bought my book and STILL read the ensuing drivel. I question your taste but admire the heck out of your moxie.

And I am, and will be, eternally grateful for the kind words you've tossed my way over the years. Thanks much.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

1971 & RIP To A Journalism Giant (#247)

1971 was the most memorable year of my life. I’d taken a year off after high school graduation to make some money and travel. Spent several months hitchhiking around Europe. Celebrated my 20th birthday sitting on a cold, rainy, sandflea-infested beach in western Scotland, shaking with fever and trying to stay dry while holding a pathetic little piece of plastic over my head.

 It was a time of meeting people from around the world, visiting historic sites and generally expanding my horizons.

In the fall of that year, I started my first year of University in London, Ontario, in order to study Journalism. Also in the fall of that year, the storied newspaper, the Toronto Telegram, folded. As a media junkie, this was huge news. Delivering the “Tely” was my first job as an 11-year-old and I mourned its passing. I hated the thought of the Toronto area being stuck with the fat-cat newspaper, The Star.

Luckily, from the ashes of the Tely sprung a feisty tabloid, the Toronto Sun. Within 48 hours of the last Tely hitting the street, the first issue of the Sun did likewise. It was the brain-child of Doug Creighton, Don Hunt and editor-in-chief, Peter Worthington.

I had two Journalistic heroes in those days. One was the great Hunter S. Thompson, the man who put gonzo into Journalism, shattering the stereotype of the blandly objective reporter.

The other was Peter Worthington. I’ll not detail his career. (I'll let him do it below.) But he did it all, saw it all and reported it all. He was courageous, joining the Canadian Navy at 17 to take part in WWII. As an officer, he lead troops in the North Korean conflict. Later, as a reporter, he filed stories from most war zones around the world. When Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby, Peter was there, just feet away.

His relationship with the Sun was stormy. He probably quit or was fired umpteen times and returned to work the following day. Eventually, he left the paper only to return as a contributing writer some years later.

I loved the columns he wrote about his life-long love affair with Jack Russell Terriers. Having bonded with my own JRT the past half-dozen years, I understand better his fascination with them. They’re much like Worthington himself - curious, intelligent and amazingly stubborn.

Well, you know where this is going. Peter Worthington died Monday night at the age of 86. It’s difficult to be sad about a person living a long, full life and then passing quietly.

But I am sad. I’ll miss his wry humour and wisdom.

Today, 1971 seems like a very long time ago.

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Leave it to Worthington to write his own obituary. I hope you'll take the time to check it out. It's a heckuva lot more interesting than what I wrote.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fundamentalism, Maturity & A Cute Puppy (#246)

As many of you know, I grew up in a staunchly Catholic home and was educated in the Catholic school system. I remember in Grade 1, we had a little primer with questions and answers about the faith. The very first q and a was:

Q - Who made you?

A - God made me.

I drifted away from the Church when I was about 15 but some indoctrination sticks forever - like that first question in my Grade 1 Religion book.

It’s popped into my head a few times lately because I’ve been involved in some online arguments with fundamentalist Christians. A topic that continuously burns their behinds* is homosexuality/gay marriage. They claim it’s an abomination because their bible says so. Doesn’t seem to matter it also says a bunch of other things are abominations, like eating shellfish, sharing a bed with a menstruating woman or offering an imperfect animal to sacrifice to God. I mean, what animal is perfect? They can overlook some abominable behaviour I guess - but not man-to-man or woman-to-woman loving.

(They are, by the way, absolutely incapable of noting the hypocrisy involved when it comes to biblical cherry-picking.)

But I shouldn’t tar them all with the same brush. The more enlightened among fundamentalists will allow that it’s okay to be gay - just as long as their naughty bits don’t press against, or into each other. They graciously allow gays to be who they are, as long as they don’t actually act on it.

So, I ask them - why did God make homosexuals if he’s really not that fond of what they do?

And the answer, of course, is that God did no such thing. He made everyone hetero but darned if some of the miscreants didn't choose to be gay - which of course, earns them a one-way ticket to Hellsville.

Now, I don’t give a flying fig newton whether a person believes in a god, gods, nothing, or a Cosmic Muffin - as long as their beliefs aren’t inflicted on others. And by far the majority of Christians I know are fine, decent people who believe in living and letting live.

But fundamentalists are another kettle of fish. They want to turn the clock back to the good old days, around 113 AD, and actively work to elect politicians who reflect their antediluvian views.

(Which reminds me: The big flood and Noah’s ark and saving all the animals? Never happened. Couldn’t have happened. Could. Not. Have. Happened.)

I really don’t care that many/most fundamentalists are Young Earth Creationists (YECs) who ignore Science and think the world is 6,000 years old and that Noah had baby dinosaurs on board and evolution is a myth but the Garden of Eden is not.

But I do care that they spread their ignorance, bigotry and mean-spiritedness whenever and wherever possible.

And I will continue to wage (verbal) war on them.

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Had a couple of thoughts, actually definitions, of maturity lately. Wrote them down. The first was originally a definition of what I thought a “real” man was. And it went like this: A real man is one who does what needs doing - without complaint or expectation of reward.

I was pretty happy with that. I mean, it’s fridge magnet material.

Upon pondering further, I realized that it could certainly apply to either gender, so I revised it to: A mature person is one who...etc.

And then, even though I’d had the above thought only a few weeks before - I was beset by a second one! Two thoughts about maturity in a matter of months! If I’m not careful, I’ll become a pundit.

Anyway, here’s the second: True maturity arrives the day we realize we can no longer fool ourselves.

Uh-huh. No sucking in the gut in front of the mirror. No pretending your hair is turning platinum blond instead of gray. That admiring look from the cute cashier? It was really pity.

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Gonna wrap this one up with a picture of a cute puppy. Everybody loves pictures of cute puppies.



* Heh-heh.

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Open Letter To America

Hello my Southern Brother. I bring greetings and a message.

That was the greeting.

This is the message:

It’s time to grow up. Growing up means looking around and seeing what is really true. What is really true is your society is fecked and all the John Waynes in the world cain’t hardly fix it.

How many of your children do you need to see killed by your own people’s hands - with the guns you make so readily available - before you begin to suspect that maybe, just maybe, your almighty worship of the 2nd Amendment is a bit - well, so 19th century? (I sincerely and deeply apologize for the previous sentence. Parse it at your risk.).

It’s 2012. Most of the developed world’s citizens handle gun ownership sensibly. Only one of them still considers it a Divine Right of The Only God That Matters.

That would be YOU, USA. You, who continue to kill your children in your schools. Or movie-goers in their theatres. Or wherever a crowd - and future, fleeting internet/tv glory - abides.

Your gun-worshipping culture is killing your children at a rate that appals the rest of the world. Yet here and there, I see and hear pockets of Americans whispering the heresy of...gasp...gun control. They are quickly and vociferously drowned out by the outraged Gun Worshippers and their well-funded PR machine.

They even somehow manage to spin their voodoo to suggest that only gun-totin’ “real” Americans are favoured by Jesus Christ All-Mighty His Own Self. And that pencil-necked Liberal pansies are first in line for eternal fiery torment - so help ya’ god.

And so it goes.

On and on.

The heartbreak of torn-apart families. The burials of small children who had no understandable, earthly reason to be dead so soon. Communities, teachers, parents everywhere living with a new nightmare.

It’s very wrong. And I think making guns, especially handguns and assault weapons, more difficult to buy, would go a long way towards stopping horrors like that of Dec. 14th, 2012 in Newtown Connecticut.

At least talk about it. Nobody is taking guns away. Just talk about making them a little tougher to get and their owner vetted more closely.

 In Canada, if you want to buy a gun you need to get a Firearms Acquisition Certificate. In order to get said certificate, you need to pass a police check and a firearms safety course. Then, and only then, can you purchase a gun and ammunition.

If you feel the need to carry a handgun because of your business or the fact you belong to a gun club, you apply for a permit to buy and carry one. As far as I know, this may require a deeper background check and/or more training with a weapon before the handgun permit is issued.

If taking one more course, or having to purchase one more permit, or having to wait two more weeks, means one more whacko flips out BEFORE getting his hands on a piece - all of society will benefit.

So please, my Brother By A Southern Mother, just talk about it.

Don’t bury more of your children. It doesn’t need to be like this.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Still Alive - Still Not Funny (#245)

A couple of months ago, a friend wrote that while she enjoyed the pics I posted in my Canon Fodder blog, she missed my writing. Especially from way-in-the-long-ago when I used to be funny. As a reminder, she pointed to the sample column on my website - posted half an eon or so ago. I hadn't read it in several years so I went to the site and, despite sore lips from tackling the sports pages the night before, I perused the whole darn thing.

Yep. Not much doubt. I used to be funny. In case that posted piece was a fluke, I checked a few other oldies. (Hilary was kind enough to compile my first few years' worth of columns into a book, so the checking was pretty easy.)

Muttering, reading, and flicking pages, there was no denying it: that Frank Baron was an amusing dude.

Concerned, I turned to the people who know and love me best.

"Son #1, when's the last time you thought I was funny?"

"Looking? I'd have to say now. Ha-ha-ha!"

I should have known better and turned to Son #2. Same question.

"You mean funny looking? Right now! Ha-ha-ha!"

 Strange how some apples roll quite a distance from the tree.

 I could depend on Hil, pretty sure. "Hil, think before you answer: When's the last time you thought I was funny?"

"Um...I guess it was this morning when you were sleeping. Your hair was sticking straight up on one side and drool was puddling into your beard. Although ... that wasn't as funny as yesterday when you tried to button up that old jean jacket. You looked like a blue sausage! Ha-ha-ha!"

Now, I didn't just tumble off the turnip truck yesterday. I'm not as dumb as some people, probably. And if nothing else, even though I may have lost my sense of humour, I still have the hard-won maturity that comes part and parcel with 61 years on the planet. In other words, I can accept reality.

So folks, if you want a chuckle from me, drop me a line and I'll send you a photo.

UPDATES

 - We're still looking for a waterfront home. We thought we found one last month but it didn't work out. We're checking out a couple of new possibles next week.

- Remember when I was trying to lure you folks to the message board I set up? Well, I'm still in lure-mode. Some of you have joined. Some of you visit as "guests." But MOST of you are still reluctant to check it out. Consider this a nudge. (The full-fledged, all-out whining, begging, guilt-tripping and crying will occur when we're settled in the new place.)

All you need do is visit http://www.runboard.com. To join, just make up a user name and password. (I use my real name there but most folks use a nickname.) Once you've joined the overall Runboard community, you can visit any of the message boards set up there, including The Nest. The URL for it is: http://bwritersnest.runboard.com/

I hope to see you there.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What The Flux! (#244)

Noun 1. state of flux - a state of uncertainty about what should be done (usually following some important event) preceding the establishment of a new direction of action - The Free Dictionary

Yep. That s'plains it. That's howcum I haven't posted here in six months. I was fluxing. I meant to post. But I was fluxing my fool head off.

Life has been weird - but in an unusual way this time: It's been interesting and fun and busy. For the first time in my adult life (which, for those who don't know me well, extends some 40+ years) I don't have to worry about paying next month's bills. Or the month after.

Hilary and I are looking for a house together, someplace in Ontario's cottage country. We want to be on a lake and live there year-round. So, much of my time the past few months has been engaged in that pursuit.

I'd never really considered the fact that at 60 (okay, 61) such a path would open. But it has, and as my guru Yogi Berra once opined: When you come to a fork in the road - take it.

So, we're taking it.

However, it's a big step for anyone at any age: moving from what has been home for more than 25 years to some place new. But the prospect of waking every morning and looking upon a lake and forests where wildlife abounds is incredibly exciting. My somewhat-dormant fishing skills will be reawakened by the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a new lake. Our cameras are drooling at the prospect of photographing birds, deer, moose and possibly bears and wolves.

In the meantime, as we search for the right place, there is much to keep us busy here. Offspring need to be schooled on taking care of a house. ("What? House taxes? Really?") We still live in different cities, so traveling back and forth eats up days at a time.

Aside from taking new forks and fluxing, I've been working at keeping The Nest off the ground. You remember, it's that message board thing that a few of you have joined, and a few others have peeked at. Slowly but surely, it's evolving into a pleasant and interesting place to spend a little online time. I'm going to keep bugging you folks about it periodically and am fully confident that within a couple of years, many dozens, perhaps hundreds, will have joined.

Once settled into the new place (we're going to call it The Nest too) I hope to do more writing. Not necessarily more blogging but that may happen as well. I just might have another book or two in me. We'll see.

In the meantime, I'll post photos with some degree of regularity at my Canon Fodder blog. I still have quite a backlog of pics to upload.

And remember, you'll be welcome at The Nest. All you need to do is join the Runboard Community (free) at: http://www.runboard.com/ and then if you visit: http://bwritersnest.runboard.com/ you'll be at The Nest.

Come on over. I guarantee you'll meet new people whose company you'll enjoy and you just might meet a familiar face or two as well.

So long 'til next time. Hope all's well in your worlds.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Everything

Last week at Hilary's I went for a wee walk one evening, camera in tow. Had what I thought was a clever idea for a Christmas post on my photo blog: wander around the streets and take night shots of the Christmas lights and displays on folks' lawns.

So, I did. Most of the shots were okay but something was missing. Snow, for one. Southern Ontario is green and Christmas lights lose some zing without that white backdrop. Reviewing the pics, I reluctantly decided to shelve the idea.

One photo kept nagging at me, though. I liked it. Somehow, it hinted at perhaps my favourite aspect of Christmas: a child's wonder.


Yeah, a chubby elf-like balloon and a silver deer. But it works for me.

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I'm a longtime Dave Letterman fan. Been watching him and Paul do their thing for about 30 years. I try never to miss his Christmas broadcast, mostly because it features Darlene Love singing Christmas (Baby, Please Don't Go).

Every year she's wonderful. Every year, I wonder if she can possibly pull it off again. She answered this year's question last night.

I hope you all find a measure of peace and contentment this season and that it sustains you throughout a healthy and prosperous 2012.

Now, let's enjoy Ms. Love's 25th appearance on Dave's show, doing what she does best: creating a joyful noise and offering it up to the world.

Crank up those speakers, do up those seatbelts, and have yourselves a very Merry Christmas!