Wish I'd Said It

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

- A. A. Milne

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hail And Farewell

Hail Canada's women! More accurately: Hail Canada's female Olympians! Their strength, courage and determination helped ease the pain of our men's hockey team failing to even qualify for the medal round.

16 of Canada's 24 medals were won by female athletes, led by the wondrous speed skater Cindy Klassen who won five (count'em, 5!) medals all by her lonesome.

A few of my favourite Olympic moments: Clara Hughes collapsing at the finish line after giving her all in winning gold in the women's 5,000 metre speed skating: Chandra Crawford, totally unheralded, winning gold in cross-country skiing, suprising and delighting herself and a nation: Brad Gushue, skip of Canada's men's gold medal-winning curling team, turning to the camera with his cell phone to his ear saying "Pick up the phone Mom!": The same Gushue, minutes later, losing control of his emotions and crying while being interviewed, calling himself a "big soock."

A special Good Sportsmanship medal should be awarded to the Norwegian coach who chased Canadian Sara Renner during a cross country race in order to hand her a replacement ski pole after she broke her own. She and partner Becky Scott were able to win a silver as a result. His unselfishness cost his own team a medal. The Norwegians finished fourth.

All in all (except for that horrible hockey result) it was a wonderful games. They'll be tough to top in 2010 in Vancouver but I have faith our guys and gals will do just that.

Farewell to Don Knotts. The bug-eyed comic actor was one of my all time favourites, especially as Deputy Barney Fife in the Andy Griffith/Mayberry show. After accidentally shooting himself in the foot, Barney was only allowed one bullet for his gun and he had to keep it in his shirt pocket. A small, very thin man, nobody did "nervous," "timid," and "outraged" like Barney. His ultra-macho sniff as he hitched up his gun belt was as funny a recurring bit as I've ever seen on tv.

Farewell to Darren McGavin. A veteran character actor who appeared in dozens of films and tv series, he was best known to me for two roles. First as the title character in the tv series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, an investigative reporter who happened to stumble across more than his fair share of werewolves, vampires, ghosts and space aliens. And he'll be immortalized forever as the curmudgeonly father in the classic holiday movie The Christmas Story.

Don Knotts was 81. Darren McGavin was 83. Howcum it was only a couple of years ago that they were young men?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ideas, Words, & Themes

One of the bonuses of writing for a heck of a long time is you get to have themes. I remember as a youngster being darned impressed by reading critics who’d say something like: “Mr. Throckbottom returned to his theme of atavistic behaviour in love-struck retired railroad workers....”

I wanted a theme or three that I could return to in order to prompt sage nods from discerning critics.

Well, I’ve done it.

Someone mentioned a couple of days ago that I hadn’t posted on my blog in a week. He said, “What’s the matter, no ideas?”

Ha! As if a Seasoned Professional Writer needed ideas in order to write something! We don’t need no steenkin’ ideas! We just rain down a blizzard of words, toss in some metaphors, mix thoroughly, and let the readers sort them out.

Newbies to the writing game are often stymied by the notion that they actually have to have something to say when they write. I have to laugh. Writing is so simple. It’s just filling in the space between periods with words.

People don’t like spaces. Somebody smart once said that nature, of which people are a part, abhors a vacuum. I hated it too when I was a kid. It was loud and scary. My Mom kept ours in a closet and when I’d see her heading towards that closet I’d holler “Pocky-keener no-no!”

“Pocky-keener” was how I pronounced “vacuum cleaner.” I was cute when I was a kid. And I still pretty much hate them even though they’re not as noisy now unless they suck up a ball bearing or some nails and they clank around in there until they clog something and then the vacuum changes pitch and starts howling like a disembowelled dog - not that I’ve ever heard one of those but I imagine it would be a terrible sound.

I wrote about this before in a column and at the Absolute Write site. I used different words but I was basically talking about the same thing which, if you’ve been following along, makes it a theme. A recurring one even.

Take that Mr. Throckbottom.

And all you sages out there can just start nodding.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Weirdness is in the eye of the beholder.

Joanne and Unique tagged me for this meme.

The Rules: The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You have been tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

Okay, first a couple of apologies and a disclaimer.

Sorry, but I’m gonna break one of the rules and not tag someone(s). I think this one has been making the blog rounds with lightning speed and A- I dunno who-all’s been tagged and B- I really don’t know all that many bloggers yet. So I propose a compromise. If anyone reads my list and wants to compile their own, leave me a note to that effect with your blog addy and I’ll edit my post to add it.

And I apologize to my faithful column readers who may find a couple of familiar topics in my list.

Disclaimer: I’m the most normal person I know. The only way I can come up with five (5!) weird habits is if I use stuff that others have told me is weird.

1- I prefer to start each day by taking a large mug of tea, a newspaper and my pipe up to the bathroom and read for a half-hour or so while listening to my transistor radio. I prefer not to speak with anyone or engage in any other sort of social discourse until I’m done, um...reading.

2- I like to rub people’s bums for luck.

3- I make things up all the time. (See #2.) Well, it’s not exactly true that I totally make things up. I like the elastic properties of reality. So every now and then I bend, twist, and/or stretch it. But sometimes I do indeed completely make stuff up. (Did you already see #2?)

4- When cashiers ask me how I am I like to offer answers other than “Fine.” So, depending on my mood, I may reply “I’m not sure. How do I look?” or “Practically perfect!” or “Buffeted by the raging storms of my inner angst. You?” Sometimes they’re so rattled they give me back too much change. I always return the extra.

5- Even though I’ve spent a goodly portion of my life trying to establish myself as a professional writer (and succeeding on a small level), I still give away my (mostly) weekly, (sometimes) hilarious (okay, amusing) emailed newsletter/column. At first my motives were crassly commercial. I figured it would help me sell an extra few books. Now I do it because enough people have told me how much they look forward to it that I don’t want to disappoint them. Plus it’s still fun. Plus, sooner or later I’m going to publish more books and they’ll feel obligated to buy them. Bwahahahaaaaa!

Bonus weirdness!

6- If I feel out of sync with the universe I’ll do something different in order to plug back into its rhythm. I might walk backwards for a while or put my jeans on before my socks or maybe bend a meme rule or two. What can I say? I’m a rebel without a pause. Or maybe without applause. Whatever....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Simple Math vs Reverend Fred Phelps

I saw a disturbing picture in yesterday’s newspaper. A couple of young, attractive, smiling women were snapped in mid-dance while holding placards. They were dancing on the American flag and the placards read, “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God For 9/11.”

They were followers of someone named Reverend Fred Phelps, a minister from Kansas. The story (by Thane Burnett of the Toronto Sun) accompanying the photograph was equally disturbing. Apparently Mr. Phelps is waging war against sinners and gays top the list. He encourages his acolytes to stage demonstrations at any event which he perceives as being remotely pro-gay, including, but not limited to, the funerals of American soldiers.

His “reasoning” is that the U.S. allows gays into the military which is a Very Bad Thing. Therefore all soldiers, gay or not, are Very Bad. So, in what passes for his mind, the funeral of a young person killed in Iran or Afghanistan is deemed an appropriate place for his followers to demonstrate the “truth” about how God feels.

Apparently God also allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps even nudged it along, because he wanted to punish the sodomites.

I read that Mr. Phelps came to Canada in 2004 to protest the Supreme Court ruling that amended laws to include same-sex couples. Perhaps not coincidentally, shortly after his visit, inciting hatred on the basis of sexual orientation was added to our list of crimes.

The guy is more than a bit of a twit. ( For the foreigners among you, “bit of a twit” is Canadian for “loathsome lunatic.”) I debated writing anything at all about him. Adding even a minute bit of attention to his and his followers hateful practices could be seen as elevating his profile and some might interpret it as aiding the legitimacy of his cause. But then again, you have to shine the light on cockroaches now and again if you hope to squash them, or at least make them skedaddle.

I don’t want to get into a biblical or theological debate here. But Frank’s Simple Math Theory says that if you believe in God and that God made all things in his image, and he made gays as well as straights, then you have to figure he’s at least bi-curious.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Hope it's not a Stupor Bowl

I don't watch much football, particularly of the American variety. I'm more of a hockey, baseball and (more recently) basketball kind of a guy.

I've watched a few Super Bowl games, starting way back in the Joe Namath/New York Jets days. Many of them were terrible, either blowouts or low-scoring yawners - but some were pretty good.

I haven't been to a Super Bowl party in 15 or 20 years. It's mostly been a non-event in my house.

But today I'm gonna watch. Son #1 was hoping to spend the day and night at his cousin's to watch the game but the weather is wreaking havoc driving-wise. So, to assuage his disappointment, I've decided we'll have our own party here.

We just got back from shopping for staples: shrimp, garlic bread, chicken wings, potato chips and dip. All major food groups present and accounted for.

Let the game begin!

Post Script

Well, it wasn't a Stupor Bowl but it wasn't a classic either. The Steelers won. To be precise - the Steeler's defence won. Seattle had a couple of tough calls go against them and it may have rattled them. They seemed confused a couple of times.

But more importantly: How the heck does Mick Jagger still have the energy to strut like a man a third his age?

I want what he's having.