Saturday, January 26, 2019

Five super-shocking unexpected facts!

So I push the unlock button on my key fob but I don’t hear any faint clicking in response. Usually this means I’ve absent-mindedly tried to use it on the front door of the house instead of on my car but not this time. This time I did in fact point it at the relevant target and the car door opened when I tried, so it must have worked but quietly so. Right?

Wrong. I almost started cluing in when I tried to squeeze my ass into the driver’s seat and it wouldn’t fit.

I discovered that the driver seat had been moved all the way forward. This is odd because it’s an electronic control. I fingered the button to try to correct it while wondering what sort of electrical weirdness could possibly have caused this to happen on its own.

A while back I gave Long Time Companion a boost and he crossed the terminal connections. Since then the beast has suffered a bevy of off-and-on electrical glitches including lights not working for various durations.

The button wasn’t making the seat move so I tried putting the key into the ignition to access battery power but lo and behold - I had no ignition cylinder any more. It was missing, and being the eagle-eyed Sherlock Holmes that I am, I was finally starting to suspect foul play.

It seemed none of my paltry possessions were missing nor were there signs of forced entry, however it’s a very easy car to jimmy; I know. Apparently though, it might not be the easiest model to successfully hot wire. Or maybe this particular thief was a special brand of idiot. Or maybe LTC’s electrical bamboozlement had inadvertently thrown a monkey wrench into the beast’s stealability and he actually did me a favour!

And now as a public service I present:


ONE: The most ancient jalopies on the street are generally the least valuable cars on the street. This will negatively affect your profit.

TWO: Due to some peculiar as-yet-understood phenomena, there is evidence of a firm link between personal income and personal purchasing power, which fairly reliably results in fact number three:

THREE: The oldest car on the street is likely owned by the poorest dude on the street.

FOUR: Poor dudes do not make the gamble of buying insurance premiums against theft or vandalism because: A) they are least able to afford it and: B) they don’t expect thieves to target the least valuable car on the street. This is for much the same reason you don’t expect a shoplifter to infiltrate a liquor store for the purpose of pocketing a ten-dollar bottle of Alcool.

and finally FIVE: When you steal or vandalize the oldest jalopy on the street you are generally doing the worst possible damage to the victims who have the least capacity to cope with it, and will suffer the most. In other words, you’re not Robin Hood. You’re kind of the opposite of Robin Hood. You’re basically just a horrible person. Thanks for everything.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Bill 66 update: Good news

“Thanks to public outcry” Ford has apparently yanked Schedule 10 from the bill. That’s the specific legislation which was to allow corporations to shit all over the Green Belt and Clean Water acts in the events these spectacularly rare tidbits of sanity threatened profits, which, granted, is only about 101% likely at any given moment,

So if you acted, congrats on your victory!

Of course if this is anything like every other similar event in the recent history of slimy Canadian politics, they’ll just slip the same atrocious corporate concessions into some other bill and work harder to keep it a secret and they’ll do this again and again until it squeaks through, while the people of Canada, some of the dearest hopeless impotent little darlings on the globe, bend over and take it!

Yeah I’m having a really rough morning. Sorry…

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A little crack

At Poetry Corner last night - okay it’s not called Poetry Corner but it’s a very friendly, fun and supportive monthly gathering where folks share their poetry and any other creative efforts. Okay: At "Poetry Corner" I shared my finished Red Herring game.

Ivan the Tolerable taught us a bit about the accordion and then on his own very snazzy one he wheezed out the Godfather theme and some other Italian ditty, much to the gleeful approval of Papa Italiano who then shared this little brain-buster:

that that is is that that is not is not that that is is not that that is not is that it it is  

This is supposedly a perfectly valid paragraph if you insert the correct punctuation. Most people take a few minutes to figure it out if at all!

Soul Man made some much-appreciated magic with a couple classic Spanish guitar pieces, Math Teacher shared her watercolours and a couple “passing” spectators were prompted to share their favourite travel story as a contribution.

Cradle Man was in rare form this night, rarely given to his almost-permanent compulsive stereotypic (rocking) motion. He sang entirely unique covers to a couple 80’s tunes in his favourite single tone and pitch and his very special fluctuating time signature! I personally love these joyful train wrecks!

The Native’s Wife managed to get us all on our feet to sing and dance a native song. I have no idea what it meant but hey, it was a new experience! I shall have to find out more about it.

The Lonely Lumberjack and his poetry were the impetus behind this creative tradition many years ago now and besides Soul Man, it’s most steady participant. And it was through Poetry Corner, which he himself invited me to, when he was a tenant, and myself a guard, at the local correction centre, that I became associated with this charitable community before eventually becoming a volunteer.

This night we learned that he had stayed home with illness. So someone dug out their speaker-phone-cell-o-phone-machine and we called him up as Soul Man strummed a flexible intro… and as soon as he answered, we launched into song:

When the night has come and the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me...

I don't ever sing at these or other community events except on the rare occasion I present one of my own songs on my own guitar, but this night I made an exception and joined in. We sang it complete while through the phone we heard old Mr. Lumberjack whistling along with us!

Oh and if you want the answer to the riddle above, here it is:

That that is, is.
That that is not, is not.
That that is, is not that that is not.
Is that it?
It is.

It’s an exercise to illustrate the importance of ambiguity and punctuation.

At the close of the session Soul Man reported his conversation with the gruff, taciturn and oft-cantankerous Lonely Lumberjack who confessed that he was deeply touched by our musical sneak attack and even surrendered a tear in his eye!

Every once in a while a little crack appears and his little old heart emits a ray of light.

And now here's a special treat:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

#90: Letting go

…And speaking of the Eagles: When their silver-tongued drummer, Don Henley finally broke out on his own he made a decent splash with 82 debut solo album I Can’t Stand Still and its viciously critical singles Dirty Laundry and Johnny Can’t Read; condemnations of America’s media culture and education system respectively.

But then came pop/rock music’s Mecca year; 1984, and his hit-loaded second album (still a great fave of mine) Building the Perfect Beast which fully thrust Henley from the shadows of the drum kit into the pop spotlight and more fame then he was necessarily comfortable with, thanks largely to MTV’s second ever Video Of The Year for this track:

By Don Henley and Mike Campbell
1984, USA

The themes here are consistent with so many of Henley’s big songs: the passage of time; aging; reflection. While it’s largely regarded a love song; a longing for an ex-lover, which is supported by the Boys of Summer original context: the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team who broke the hearts of so many fans by moving to Los Angeles, I interpret the narrator’s actual intentions to be clouded and undecided. “I should just let it go but…”

Henley insists he really did see a Deadhead (Grateful Dead) bumper sticker on a Cadillac; a prime example of selling out with age. And while I can find no consolidation on this: I believe the rather blatant use of a drum machine by a celebrated manual drummer is an intentional reference to that theme along with the absurdly-lifeless drumming style of the little boy in the video; clearly a young-Henley representation.  

Peak: #5, Billboard Top 100 and #1, Billboard Top Rock Tracks.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

#91: Los Angeles Style

Jackson Browne was almost a dear casualty of this rather ridiculous top-100 song exercise (which I last delivered-on three and half years ago!) One of his songs just squeezed onto the list while two other gems just barely missed out. This is a steep accomplishment considering I am familiar with so few of his songs overall. Three other bands also came close to such a hat trick but they are arguably my three faves and I know their catalogues back-to-front!

Browne is also significant as a major influence on the Eagles who is one of my faves and easily my most favourite band of those who somehow did not make this list. One of These Nights, title track of one of my fave albums of all time, came close.

Gerry Beckley was an army brat with English mom, who picked up piano and age three and guitar at age five and formed a band with London-area classmate; drummer Dave Atwood (who would not last long). The band took the name of the home nation of Beckley’s military father.

The group, well blessed with vocal harmony, became heavily influenced by Crosby Stills and Nash and it shows. Beckley wrote and sang the band’s first top-ten hit in 1972: I Need You, and three years later, as he endeavoured to imitate Jackson Browne’s LA style (observational) lyrics, he came up with this:

By Gerry Beckley (America)
1975, USA

Forty-four years later, America, after several line-up changes, is still active on the nostalgia concert circuit with two originals: Beckley and fellow U.S. Air Force base schoolmate Dewey Brunell.

Peak: #1, Billboard Hot 100. June 14, 1975

Here’s Minneota’s Reina del Cid and her delightful pals (none of them near as old as this song) with a sweet cover from last summer:

As for the three-and-a-half-year lay-off: I’m on pace to finish this top-100 list by 2094 at age 125! As you may have noticed I’m better at starting projects than finishing them. One of the hurdles was the realization that it would have been far more useful to publish a 100 must-hear song list instead, exposing some hidden and under-rated gems. Oh well. Maybe later. For now I have vowed to finish some old lingering projects including this one because it’s fun.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Hilariously Non-Honourable Premier Ford’s Hilarious Bill 66

To Mr. Michael Helfinger (and others),

Bill 66 is an assault on the biosphere and a firm confirmation of war against humanity. You have no mandate from your electorate to pursue such a demonic agenda. How infinitesimally little sanity exists in this morbid circus you call government that I would have need to point out something so ridiculously obvious?

With all possible disgust,

You too can eek a scrap of democracy out of our otherwise-fake democracy! Just go to the Government of Ontario’s Feedback on Bill 66 Collection Hoo-Haw and cough up your own message of revulsion - or perhaps of praise if you maybe know nothing at all about the world; your choice! It all goes into the same digital hopper where it might actually get read by a human being?


Sorry, did I say human being?

My bad. I meant politician.

Friday, January 18, 2019

…And on the other hand: what we love to say:

“Sorry,” said the lady on the elevator, who wanted off at my floor, as I promptly stepped aside, letting her pass before I stepped aboard. I hit the button, rose a floor, and the doors opened revealing a new woman facing me.

“Sorry,” said she, moving aside.

“No problem at all,” I said. And it wasn’t. Neither of these women offended me. And I’m fairly sure that neither of them actually suffered any regret despite their claims.

Here at the social assistance office I leave my comfortable lobby desk hourly to run a quick patrol of the cube farm behind and there I commonly brush paths with others. “Sorry,” they almost universally say to me. I never apologize just for needing the same space as them. I tend to just say hello, or depending on the circumstance I might say, “Pardon me.”

I think that pardon me is what they actually intend to relay but clearly that one extra syllable is just too exhausting so sorry becomes the peculiar briefer alternative.

I’m sorry I needed a space so near to your own…

I’m sorry my existence is threatening to cause you the merest of possible inconveniences…

I suppose we feel the need to exercise the word sorry without having to suffer any overt guilt and so we use it frivolously and call the job done. We use it when we are about to use a door at the same moment someone else intended likewise.

We don’t use it when we (or our phones) make unnecessary noise in public places, distracting others from their endeavours; their reflection; their evolution.

We don’t use it when we treat each others’ valuable time as a spectator for our pointless other people’s bad behaviour stories while busily ignoring our own bad behaviour; something infinitely more valuable to pursue.

(If this sounds like I’m doing exactly that, I would suggest that I am reflecting on societal phenomena as opposed to feigning shock at another specific person’s failure to be an angel - but you may judge me as you wish!)

No, we use sorry instead of a kind greeting. I’m sorry we have to share! How awful!

I think I shall not go forward as inclined; responding to these sad overtures by shouting “Don’t let it happen again!” I think I will start responding to this misplaced obsolete gesture with another misplaced obsolete gesture which I'm much more fond of, by responding, “I don’t know!”    

That’ll be sufficiently weird.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The phrase we dare not speak!

Is it a real memory or a false memory? I am almost convinced it’s a real memory: that in the former era of my youth people would dare to say it aloud. And it was fairly common:

“I don’t know.”

Is anyone still reading? Or did I scare everyone away with these most vulgar of words?

I’m sure it used to happen over and over again. One person would ask a question. “What does a hen weigh?” or “Do you know what time the bus comes?”

And the other person would say “I don’t know.” And as astounding as it seems, this was socially acceptable. The first person would appreciate the second person’s honesty, and then immediately get on with their life, and pursue the course of action appropriate to this not-unexpected circumstance, the inquirer seeing oneself as a mentally competent individual capable of proceeding with their endeavour in a manner independent of the missing link, or else with another plan for discovering it.

As with other antiquated norms, I am not eager to let this go. I still like to think that it’s okay to ask a quick question on the chance that my associates might know the answer, before proceeding to Google if they don’t, or making due without the errant factoid. I am not ready to make Google my bestest friend.

But this rarely goes well. It seems to have become unbearable in this culture of (mis)information-bombardment to appear as less than all-knowing. And so “I don’t know” situations turn into a lengthy charade where the questioned imagines they see beyond the question and insists on solving an imaginary version of the problem, and then the asker must humour the asked so as to coddle a fragile ego, and no one gets to get on with their life.

“Oh - uh - you should bend your knees to pick up the hen.”

“Right, yeah. Well I don’t actually need to pick one up…”

“You could always put the hen on the bus instead of shipping it. It’s one price for the bus. It doesn’t matter what it weighs.”

“Well, I wasn’t really going t-”

“Or just ship it while it’s young, before it gains much weight.”

“Okay…. Thanks.”

I still tend to say “I don’t know” when I don’t know, and trust that the inquirer will not die from awkwardness, and that they feel welcome to ask further questions on the subject if there is still a chance I can be useful.

I may be alone on this but I still insist: It’s okay not to know everything.

Okay. Thanks for listening to my little rant. You can go get on with your life now.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Growing up

I am so old that my life can now be conveniently measured in centuries. This week I officially turned .5 centuries old. And I feel like it. Though I seem to remember youth as though it were very recent, I have felt old for years now. In physical terms this age brings growing hardship. In terms of emotional health it is a comfort.

My older friends are aghast when I report being old and they insist that no, I am young. But I cannot abide their optimistic view. They seem to imagine that they are still young and that all these physical ailments are some cruel offence against us. But of course we are old. These wonders of technology and medical wizardry are a perversion to natural life (for which I am grateful!) and so of course they come with costs. These tricks prolong life but not youth. We are a race of elderly. Of course we should expect to suffer. Unfortunately there is no fairness to it. I have suffered less than my share while others whom I love have suffered more. When my dues finally mature I only hope to make peace with my own ills.

Meanwhile this milestone comes at a convenient juncture. As the many symptoms of my own neglect ramp up and finally weigh so heavily that I am truly moved toward self-improvement, so does this 50-year marker remind me how little I have accomplished in terms of the outer purpose I so easily recognized for myself years ago. I seem to have taken the easiest, most optimistic approaches to this goal, expecting myself to have the ability to successfully communicate when the moment calls for it, and for others to easily catch on, and perhaps most significantly: for others to make the rare assumption that I actually possess (or may possess) the rare insights I hint at.

Well this all has to go.

I have toyed with many organizational structures for documenting my learning and many attempts at writing THE BOOK. I have tried it as biography and other forms of non-fiction and also as eclectic collections by different themes and structures. No attempt has lasted long.

Recently I believe I may have realized finally what angle I should approach it from, which I intend to explain later. 

Aqualad told me recently that teaching is a good way to learn, and I get that. I am thankful for that reminder and reinforcement. And this, after I confessed my own doubt in being a teacher to him, for the reason that it might - it might - be fair to say that the program I dared to teach is one that I have not truly graduated from myself.

The first step toward everything; a program for others, a one-off problem solving tool for others, a book that “the world” might need to hear, and perhaps most important of all: a written “proof” behind my condition; a consolidation for my own confidence, was completed - oh - more than a decade ago. And still I have not taken the obvious second step! Which is to flesh out the framework; the complex hierarchy, into a proper outline. To assemble all the math, in other words.

Why have I avoided this so long! Subconscious fear? Laziness?

I have to do this. And I realize that this is probably a test. If I do it - and I must - I will appreciate a result. Maybe I will be reinforced and emboldened. Or maybe I will fail and fall into doubt, and turn to some other outer purpose.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


I’m noticing, over the last few days, how increased mindfulness (or wakefulness etc.) doesn’t only avail wisdom but also the simplest intelligence. I have had many meetings and social engagements lately and have been a little more on the ball and have noticed how much clearer I see the relationship dynamics without the nigglings - the wisps - of pride and paranoia twisting my perception. All these relationships look so much more joyful, beautiful and worthwhile and full of possibility through detached observation.

The word detachment seems to scare people off though. I’m talking about perception that is without these false filters of need; dependency; expectation. I find this hard to describe. For me it comes through organic trust in the lessons I have learned, first-hand, about the illusions spun by instinctive mind. For me detachment has no negative connotations. It is not about lack of love, for instance. In fact it avails so much more love.

I’m sure that Tolle or Buddhist literature would describe a different path for finding this detachment; a path or paths which I seem to have forgotten precisely. I recall these readings too dimly at the moment. For me it came through the habit of creative solitude and a bottomless fascination for truth; or more accurately it turned out, the absence of truth and the forensic study of its displacement. It is why, in my more powerful state of former years, I was strong in leveraging influence; nudging people more toward creativity, before I began faltering and eventually withdrawing, more intentionally of late.

I am reminded the advantages of clarity when one is not so self-interested in the dynamics of relationships. It is enough that we are all alive, human and imperfect together, and taking on this great drama together, as witnesses to the universe, and to our own potential as a creature of harmony; both internal and collectively.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Friends and neighbours

I took Aqualad out for lunch at the Great Old German restaurant; his favourite Scooterville eatery where it is decidedly uncorporate. Large portions. Barely marked-up wine. We tackled the Plate for Two which I will describe only as a mound of exciting food over a thick giant schnitzel on a platter on a hot plate set between us. We are accomplished Pro Devourers though both on self-improvement courses and less indulgent than usual. I insisted he take the leftovers home.

It’s funny. The task of writing is much more than a report of what has been on your mind. The very act produces new thoughts. It is an invaluable act of reflection; of internal conversation. And here at this moment I am realizing that he reported (let it slip?) that he’d been present there two weeks ago. That makes sense as it was his birthday at the time. By coincidence that would have also fallen just after my first proposal that I take him there as a reward for surviving his dental surgery and flu combination. Which means that… not only was I not invited to his birthday dinner for the first time in years, but I was very deliberately not invited.

Strange perhaps that I don’t feel especially hurt. I am accustomed to thinking of them as my second family and that, clearly has become an indulgence worthy of embarrassment so I will stop.

I have seen Earth Writer and Dog Whisperer only twice in the last half year; Aqualad three times now, and his delightful girlfriend zero.

There were awkward moments at the cottage last summer and I’m confident that there were complete misunderstandings about matters of no real consequence to me. If their cooling stems from only that, then that is a tragic mistake. And if it stems from more than that, which I assume it must, then I am at a complete loss. I am blissfully unaware of whatever failings I have perpetrated, at least in terms of friendship. But failings have been a theme for me for some time now. No reason to assume they should all have fallen onto my own radar.

The greater tragedy is that Aqualad (if I understand correctly) is in essence turning down the greatest gift a human being could receive for reasons that do not sound sincere but might be. I think it more likely that he is humouring me; managing me; not wanting to say that he has no reason to believe in me.

And it’s true there is no reason to believe in me; no reason for anyone to. I look for opportunities to help those I love and those who demonstrate the rare mental fortitude in the rare and vital realms that I have advance experience in. But I did not graduate from that rare academy. I got close and then backed away. Or did I flunk out perhaps?

Aqualad cannot possibly have much understanding of what he is turning down. We’ve discussed it far too little. But a close bond remains between us it seems. And there is no deadline. Whatever I do manage to accomplish when I break out of this fucking cocoon, may change his regard for me, and in the mean time I will look for opportunities to nudge him in useful directions as opportunities arise.

Not that our dynamics are a motivator for me now. What motivates me is honestly just between the universe and I. And the universe, I must remember, is not ours to command. We can only offer our best advice and then let causality do what it must.

It really is surprising though, that I don’t feel especially hurt. I would have expected to be.

At the core of my “2019 resolution” whether it shows between the lines or not, is the intention to be mindful. Perhaps already I am.

I returned home from our German smorgasbord, parked afar, and walked; exercised. I heard my next-door neighbour’s door opening, a usual precursor to awkward endearments; a fantasy that this perversion called suburbia is some sort of community. But I found myself looking eagerly, and it was the man who emerged and he wore a great smile. My own was immediate. We traded happy comments on the lovely mild weather. Mine were sincere and I’ll assume his were too. Then as I turned up the drive way the lady appeared. “I can’t believe it’s 2019 already!” she said.

“I know,” I said, then sincerely: “Time is cruel.” She laughed. I smiled.

Maybe it is some sort of community.


Friday, January 04, 2019

Dispatches from the Social Assistance Office

Red-faced old man (barking directly through the people he’s talking about): “That’s pretty rude of them speaking another language right in front of us! They can understand us but we can’t understand them! Who knows what they’re saying about us!”

Younger man across the way: “Doesn’t bother me any.”

Red-faced old man: They don’t give a shit about us!

So sadly, this is the second time such an episode occurred here. I have now sought clarification and learned that it is my place to inform such complainants of this inclusive government institution’s policy on language and also on the matter of bullying and how to go about not getting escorted off the property - in my firm and friendly, persuasive happy way...

I don’t look forward to this likely occurrence but I certainly won’t hesitate to act.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Red Herring!

So here is the game board for the game I’m just finishing up. It’s called Red Herring and it’s going to be awesome! Much fun I’m sure.

The images are from my collection of 700+ cartoons I drew over a two-year period playing Eat Poop U Cat online. They just provide colour basically and generally fit the theme. It should have occurred to me years ago to make use of these now-orphaned cartoons in some of the games I make. Given the weirdness of the cartoons, generally, I could easily put together a Dixit adaptation.

The board is simply a scoring track which the players (from 3 to 12) will move their tokens along. The large central-ish panel is just the right amount of space to hold the THING cards, the Red Herring cards, the LOLnuts and Fish Chips. In hindsight I should have left space between the scoring paths instead of just a thicker black line. It would have looked clearer that way. I continue to learn from mistakes.

Production came together quickly considering I had to brainstorm 200 question cards (such as “What’s locked in your basement?” or “What did you go back in time to capture?”) and 200 red herring cards (such as “Satan” or “My achy breaky heart” or “Cream of Sum Yung Guy”). Luckily I have a head flooded with trivial nonsense (and the odd nugget of brilliance!).

I’m eager to test it.

The game I mean; not the brilliance.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The projects

I'm sorry for cluttering this blog with all my housekeeping. These recent articles are really only here to help me get my head on straight:  

So here’s me trying to finally take the advice received for more than a decade from several close associates who work in the project management realm and are probably really good at it. This is my attempt to organize my project goals so as to work on them one at a time and get them completed. Something tells me I might not be doing this exactly right:

Priority: Crazy Legs
Back Burner: 7 miscellaneous
Shelved Indefinitely: 7 miscellaneous

Priority: The Million Dollar Maple (Y-A)
Back Burner: 1 project
Shelved Indefinitely: 2 projects

Priority: The Hoot’n'Nanny collection (11 stories)
Back Burner: 1 story

Priority: The Universal Perspective (poetic compendium - working title)
Back Burner: various climate essays

Priority: 7 miscellaneous projects
Back Burner: 8 miscellaneous projects

Priority: Zinger, Red Herring, Family Dysfunction, Prestige, Mornington Crescent, List It
Back Burner: 13 miscellaneous

Priority: Quantify
Back Burner: 8 miscellaneous
Shelved Indefinitely: 1

Back Burner: “Crosswords for Hipsters, Beatniks and the Criminal Fringe” (working title!) 26 complete

Back Burner: 2 projects

Back Burner: “astrology” project, GoFundMe project, 3 stand-up routines

Priority: “Minerva” as DM
Back Burner: 2 enterprises as player
Shelved Indefinitely: 2 projects

I hesitate to include this because these are much more than projects. These are relationships. These are real people. I include them because realistically I must budget my time and organizational attention for them just as I budget for everything else:
Priority: Guitar Man, Lonely Lumberjack, Theatre Guy, Soul Man, Grampa Munster
Back Burner: 5 projects
Shelved Indefinitely: 1 project  

Priority: 2 “clients”
Back Burner: 1

Priority: 4 projects 

32+ projects on Back Burner!

This is all a brief summary drawn from a master spreadsheet full of details. I have now added columns for importance and urgency which feed the aggregate priority column, which… will now tell me what to do?

If anyone actually skimmed through all this, I wonder what you’re thinking. Am I nuts?