Saturday, May 31, 2008

FWG the Amazing Botanist

You know I don’t like to show off but these accomplishments demand publicity:

I’ve finally made a worthwhile contribution to the floral esthetics of the Streetsville Looney Bin Shared Terrace. I have potted my very own plant! It’s true!


It’s a Parrotflower plant! Not bad, eh?

Here’s the secret to growing your very own Parrotflower plant:

1. Find a giant weed growing out of your balcony patio stones.
2. Steal your neighbor’s broken pot and enclose the weed between each half of the broken pot.
3. Steal your neighbor’s decorative wooden parrot and add to the pot. That’s right. Believe it or not, that’s not a real parrotflower. It’s just a wooden parrot in disguise! Convincing, isn’t it?

Another recent botanical accomplishment at the Grotto of Cool: Turn your tomato into a tomato plant! No soil, water or sunlight required!

1. Eat half a tomato and leave the other half on a plate.
2. Repeat if necessary.

In other news of Fwig’s anti-establishmentarian sociopathic endeavors:

I registered for employer, Ye Olde Information Company’s two-day overnight (read: drunkfest) Annual Company Meeting. On the registration form I answered the Special diet considerations section like so:

Can only drink Australian or Californian wines.
We’ll see how that goes over.


Friday, May 30, 2008

The Gospel According to FWG

Chapter One: Genesis

On the first day God created light and the firmament and the heavens and the twinklie stars.

On the second day He created oceans and trees and rocks and very tiny pebbles and He saw that the tiny pebbles were good and He said, 'Tiny pebbles, you shall be called sand.'

On the third day God created the seasons and He made the leaves turn pretty colors in autumn and fall down from the trees.

On the fourth day He created wind and He blew the fallen leaves all over the damn place.

On the fifth day God created morons and called them people. And he said, 'Morons, you shall be called people.'

On the sixth day God created Guinness and he saw that it was good.

On the seventh day God rested and recovered from a wicked hang-over.

On the tenth day or so the people began to take offence to God’s work and to the pretty leaves and they created oil drills and oil refineries and gas-powered leaf blowers and they blew the leaves in directions of their own choosing.

On the Eleventh day God blew the leaves back where He wanted them.

On the twelfth day and every even-numbered day thereafter the people fired up their gas-powered leaf blowers and tried to undo God’s work.

On the thirteenth day and every odd-numbered day thereafter God blew the leaves back where he wanted them and made the people look like jack-asses.

Finally the fume-sucking people all died from cancer and severe asthma and God thought that was pretty funny and he laughed and laughed until he got a cramp in his abdomen. Then He remembered that he was the almighty and he wiggled his nose and made the cramp disappear.

Then God created monkeys and he saw that they were good because they were a lot nicer than people and much more fun at parties. And even when they played with their own feces He had to agree that this was significantly more productive than blowing leaves around.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bang Crunch

Short fiction by Neil Smith

Kudos to publisher Knopf Canada. This is a very nicely bound book with pages so soft I found myself caressing each page before I read it!

The nine stories here can not possibly be autobiographical given the diversity of circumstance and setting but they seem like true stories because Smith is marvelous at honing in on the essential details and delivering them powerfully with adept and responsible use of description, metaphor and simile, and because the perspectives are often so unexpected – sometimes quirky – that you’d think he must have really been there in order to have obtained them.

The dialogue is lively with many characters blessed with intelligence and wit – something only possible when the author is likewise blessed.

We catch these characters at pivotal times of their lives; facing unusual and challenging circumstances, often dire, which lends the collection a somber feel. But for the most part there is something to be quietly celebrated, for these are the moments in which the heroes gain insight and begin to learn who they really are. Pretty useful wisdom which many readers might take part in and benefit from.

Good stuff. Now to await his first novel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Length matters

I prefer them long. Don’t you? Weekends, that is?

Saturday night – had a great chat with Doctor Lock concerning life after full-time corporate enslavement. Not that he’s retired, mind you. He just never went out for that whole full-time career thing to begin with. He had some great advice. On that note I must also credit Porn King and Matman for their kind ears and recent council on these matters and helping to keep me grounded.

The evening began at Doc Lock’s mom’s place where birthday celebrations took place amidst rather unique surroundings. The exterior of her home bears an ornate, almost spooky aura while inside it’s just plain eccentric. We have poems written on doors and running up the stairwell. We have a commercial size map of the entire New York City subway system in the hallway. The walls all bear the artwork of their owner, her late husband, and of the three sons who grew up within them. We have loaded bookshelves in every room (nothing wrong with that, I hope). A collection of handmade crowns – each fit for a king – though built of non-precious metals and stones. We have Christmas lights, a chandelier made entirely of artificial flowers (non-luminous) and a television set that has never been watched since the screen was painted over with a crude yet perfectly recognizable image of the Cleaver family – Wally, Beaver, June and Ward.

A stained-glass artwork bears one diamond-shaped tile that is perfectly the size of a soda cracker. This is obvious as this one sector contains no glass but rather – a soda cracker. This particular biscuit has occupied the spot about ten years and still looks good as new!

Oh – almost forgot. The sculpture titled Baby Jesus Bomb Factory. What does it look like? Exactly like a Baby Jesus Bomb Factory, of course. Next visit I must snap a picture of this and send it to Flumadiddle.

The birthdays in question belonged to Doc Lock and his brother, the sculptor. I made two ridiculous errors. One. I didn’t wrap Doc Lock’s gift in a railway or subway transit map, as everyone else did. Apparently I’m the last of his associates to underestimate the depth of his love of the tracks. Two – I got confused and thought it was Mamma Lock’s birthday instead of the sculptor’s. I gave her a cute little book clip. Her birth date is in November so this gift comes six months early. Or late. Take your pick. I told the sculptor he could choose any item belonging to Mom and take it home. Then we’d all be square.

Now – if you think these folks sound a bit like freaks, let me say, yes, they sort of make their own rules in life. But trust me - they’re qualified to do so.

Consider this batch of freaks I encountered later that night – like – 2:00 AM or so. I was attacked by a terminal case of the yumblies on the way home and got caught in the tractor-beam of the Death Star – I mean – the Golden Arches. MacDonald’s. Not the Death Star. Two spots away from the pick-up window all hell broke loose. Hooligans tried to extort extra product out of the management by refusing to move their car. I was imprisoned within a long line of cars for twenty-five minutes until Ronald’s boys finally called the police. Luckily I always keep a book in the truck so I was kept entertained by Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the robot on their journey to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Sunday. I hosted Skeeter Willis and his Port Credit Cardinals for the Strat-o-matic 2008 Benko Cup finals. I lost in the seventh game. This is the third time in four years I’ve gone to the finals the favored team and lost. I’ve decided to stop trying to win. I’m changing my name from the Ybor City Tabaqueros to the Ybor City Bridesmaids and going for the world record for championship losses. Wish me luck.

Monday. My folks invited Peter Pan up to the farm for dinner and I felt obliged to participate. Zee the Lanky Doberman also came along and had a marvelous time running all over hell’s forty-nine acres and playing tag with Pan’s gas-powered remote control truck.

During dinner, Zee, not allowed in the house, would alternate which dining room window she would stand upright and glare at us through. Finally she gave that up. Then the doorbell rang. And rang and rang and rang. We found Zee standing upright at the front door with one paw firmly on the doorbell. I kid you not.

Other than that barrel of laughs we spent all day either watching TV or talking about the dog. I survived the boredom and lived to tell about it.

So there.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

FWG: Selling Low

I have never seen a country;
Never felt one under my feet
Or at my fingertips.

I have never sampled scent nor flavor of a nation;
Never heard its utterance.

I have seen the globe in the classroom,
Pimped in ragged geometry.
Here a yellow China, here an orange Boot.

I have seen the globe on TV, on the Space Channel,
Looking not a bit like earth;
Furred in greens and bathed in blues
And wispy, gossamer, angel-wing whites.

Where have all the flat primary colors gone?
But here they are, on the News Channel
On a great banner unfurled behind a podium.

Between the two the TV Man stands in his suit.
I have never met the TV Man and likely never will,
But we know that he is real
Because he’s on TV.

He smiles and gesticulates like Bob Barker or a televangelist.
He knows what he is talking about,
Because everyone is listening.

He says that we have those to fear
And so we know to be afraid.
He says that they have weapons of destruction,
So we know that they have weapons of destruction.
He says that we have freedom,
So we know that we are free.

He says, Ask not what your country can do for you!
I ask, What is this thing, this country?
Other than a grand notion filling up my head?
And what might otherwise have filled that space instead?

What is dismissed in exchange for a dream?
What cost has gone uncounted?

He says, Ask what you can do for your
I say, ask him if the Price Is Right.


Better the pride that resides in a citizen of the world than the pride that divides when a colorful rag is unfurled. - Neil Peart

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Came for a Swallow Tour '08 - Week 2

Some moments from the conclusion of the Niagara Herb and Wine Tour, Sunday:

Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate Winery. The highlight was the very aromatic tree at the front entrance. Cap'n Vino picked up on it as soon as we were out of the car. "What's that smell?" he said. "Is that-? Is that - grapes?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Vino. It's a winery. Not a grapery." Yeesh.

Vino updating his passport upon leaving behemoth Peller Estates, where they matched their Ice Cuvee with gerbil. gerbil the herb, not the rodent.

[Editors note: Chervil. Yeesh.]

Lailey Vineyard. They matched an '04 Cab Sauv with Rosemary and Sausage. A very lean tasty all-natural nitrate-free sausage. Very very yumbly. Cap'n Vino ragged me out for flashing him (with the camera). He's an ornery little beotch sometimes.

Professor Plonk reads the information sign on the premises of Reif Estate Winery. It says, This is just a garden. Please go inside and buy lots of wine. We need your money so we can pay for these exorbitant renovations. Go on. Go.

The new wing. Plain on the outside. Fancy Dancy on the inside.

Best pairing of the day: Beer-battered halibut with Irish Harp Ale at the Irish Harp Pub. And they weren't even on the tour. Definitely yumbly but I never should have ordered the three-piece portion.

Lovely entertainment in the form of guitar, fiddle, mandolin and a voice surprisingly sweet for a stout-drinker.

Fwig is docile. Too many halibut fishes.

Leaving Coyote's Run Winery. One stop left to complete the tour.

Niagara College Teaching Winery. Rain signals that the tour has come to an end. We caught them trying to pack up early. Not so fast, hombres! We came for a swallow and we didn't leave until we gots one.

Monday. I take a vacation day. This is Peter Pan's new puppy. He's already ginormous. Nothing is safe from him. He tore two brand new pillows to ribbons. Pan entered the room moments after arriving with the purchases to find the floor a sea of feathers. He patiently gathered them all up, sealed them in a plastic bag and put it in the trash can. A half hour later he went back out to find the garbage can lid on the ground and the backyard covered in feathers.


A Robin buit this nest in the corner of Pan's back deck. She's become quite comfortable with human and canine presence and allowed us front row seats while she fed worms to her four babies. Incredible. Yeah, I should have got a picture of that instead of waiting til they were napping. Look, this isn't National Geographic, okay?

And now - another long weekend approaches! Excellent...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My moment

What a fine fine weekend.

Saturday morning. I'm up early, cruising up the 410 to Caledon; then it's country roads to Orangeville with the open window welcoming the breeze while the buzzing, hopping, Celtic East-coast fiddling of Quagmyre’s CD Of Cabbages and Kings invigorates like no other music I know.

Two Chai lattes and some very useful conversation with a few veteran members of the Headwaters Writers' Guild at the awesome new Joppa (fair-trade) Cafe. Then a drop-in on mom at Inglewood Antique Market where she and other dealers are hosting a jumbo 'garage sale'. I check out the old books but none appeal. This is good. Instinct dictates I need to be shedding possessions, not acquiring.

Hugs goodbye and it's back on the highway all the way to Stoney Creek where the I.S. and I go for a walk through three modest parks that are strung end to end between the apartment building in which Mom and I lived until I was five years old, and little Green Acres Elementary School where I attended kindergarten.

I hadn't made this trek since 35 years prior when I was making the round trip daily. Amazingly it seemed like little had changed. Just shrunk. The creek that once presented a challenge to cross, hopping rock to rock, and bestowed more than a few soakers, now looked beatable with a single leap; a test made obsolete by the new paved path and tiny bridge. The trees seemed the same height and girth but perhaps we've each grown in sync. The school looks tiny. I was tempted to peer through the classroom windows but resisted. One memory shall be preserved. My kindergarten room remains a palace.

We sat on a park bench in still, quiet, near-isolation; tall trees protecting on all sides. Joggers, bicyclists and dog-walkers were oddly scarce despite the marvelous weather. I lay my hand on an inviting shoulder. Our heads reclined. I smelled my favorite scent; some shampoo I cannot name. We looked up through leafless branches at a cloudless sky. We spoke quietly and with easy honesty. The simple circumstances of our lives. No big ideas. No promises.

I.S. spots the moon between the branches above us. Just a pale white crescent. I enjoy fielding the questions.

“Actually its orbit is continually slowing – not quite a second per year, I think. Eventually we’ll lock in a permanent mutual orbit and half the world will never see the moon again.”
“And half will always see it?”
“If there’s any life here to do the seeing, Yep. Did you know Earth used to have a ring?”
“Like Saturn?”
“Yes. But smaller.”
“No way! Where did it go?”
“We’re looking at it.”
“It became the moon?”
“It became the moon.”

I’m quizzed on the English language of course.

“Litter – as in garbage –
“I need much help with English still.”
“I hope you don’t get too good at it. I love your accent.”
“I know you do.”

I explain the differences between haste, hasty, hurry and

"Your hair's getting long," I say.
"Yes. I need haircut."
"I wish you wouldn't. I like it this way."
"You always like me however I am."

Almost everywhere else the trees are green but above us the branches are just budding. The sky beyond is perfectly clear, electric; the essence of blue. The nape of neck is warm on my fingertips. If we could choose one moment from our lives to become our eternity… If there were a heaven… this moment…

Miraculously this moment lasts for almost two hours and for that time I feel like the luckiest man on Earth. We’re slow parting. Several false starts. That’s always the way.

No answer at Plonk and Vino’s. It’s dinner time and I’m ravenous having eaten only a bagel all day. I assume they’re still in Hooterville visiting the daughters or else getting their own dinner. East Side Mario’s is a poor choice but I succumb. The bottle of wine is another poor choice as is the dessert.

But today is not the day to break a promise to someone I love. I push the dessert away. I just take a photo of it. Perhaps I’ll carry the image with me in my wallet or shirt pocket. Let it serve as a reminder. As inspiration.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mmmmm... herby winey goodness

It's that time of the year again. The Niagara-On-The-Lake Wine and Herb Festival. Or - as I declare this year's unnofficial theme - the I Came for a Swallow Tour '08 *

That's Professor Plonk on the right. And on the left, a brand new friend. I guess we'll call her Doctor Swallows for now. She's working on her masters degree in the field of swallowing. It's true. They actually have schools that teach such a skill. Shocking, isn't it?

[Editor's note: It's a perfectly legitimate medical field.]

This is Buddy, Patio warden at Palatine Hills Estate Winery.

Captain Vino is growing impatient. He wants to see this world-class swallowing action we've been hearing about.

Every wineglass should be so big.

Bike rack? No idea what's going on here. Either I clicked by mistake or someone snatched my shigital camera when I wasn't looking...

Hmm. More accidental clickage.

Buddy again. Pretty sure this shot was intentional.

That would be my hand presumeably. Look at that lifeline eh? I'm gonna live to be six hundred years old at least.

Konzelmann Estate Winery.

Red Moose. A Zweigelt. We hear it pairs well with all-dressed potato chips.

Doc finally exhibits her spectacular swallowing skills.

Thought I was kidding about the chips, didn't you?

On the left, Froot Loops cereal. On the right, I forget. Had to be either a Riesling or Gewurztraminer since both are sources of a rare fragrance called linalool, along with Handi-Wipe towellettes and - yeah - Froot Loops. Something that's nice to know when you're trying to manufacture unusual unpretentious pairings and a special experience to tittilate unsophisticated newbies. I like to think we were playing along more than getting sucked in.

The cashier's counter. Okay, maybe we got a little sucked in.

See you next week for part two!

*Special thanks to Porn King for coming up with the theme material.

"I came for a swallow and I'm not leaving 'til I get a swallow!" - Bugs Bunny

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Addendum to "Ther Planets"

First off - sorry for misspelling "The" in the title of the last post. I've only been working with the English language for 35 years or so. Those three-letter definite articles can take a while to master. You know how it is.

So I followed up the book, The Planets, by borrowing a VHS video from the library called, Eyewitness: Planets. I rushed home and popped it in the machine.

The documentary began with a shot of the most beloved planet of all, and quickly delved into the life forms that inhabit it - namely its vegetation. After thirty minutes of video concerning some of the most remarkable of Earth's flora, I started to wonder how incredibly long this video must be, and when we'd move on to other, more critical elements of the third planet's role in the solar system, and when we would move on to the next planet.

And then, suddenly, the video ended.

I glared at the TV while the credits rushed by and while the screen turned blue and while the VCR began to auto-rewind. Finally I picked up the videocassette box and read the label again. And it did not, in fact read Eyewitness: Planets. It read, Eyewitness: Plants.


Not planets.

And this is how FWG discovered he's a moron.