June 30, 2006


Leonard Cohen

Not being a particularly God-ish person, I've always wondered why I get so weepy whenever I hear Amazing Grace. Throw in some bagpipes (I know, I know) and I'm a mess.

Music comes and goes in my life, which makes me rather an outsider to people that consider music the core of their being. I'm that way with books - they're oxygen to me.

All this probably explains though the attraction, affection and awe I feel regarding Leonard Cohen. When I read recently that he was broke, I wanted to send him money. He is a national treasure. I recall towards the end of my university career sitting in a friend's room being told to shut up and listen. I was told that a lot, but this time it was for Leonard.

I played 'Hallelujah' probably 20 times. It wore a groove in my brain. Forget Amazing Grace, this song had me in tears and I didn't know why. Well, actually I did.
Great poetry has power. Cohen doesn't write music, he casts spells.

Life trundled on, and like many people I gave over my music choices to others. Kids entered the picture, and many things fell by the wayside. I'd catch a song, rarely, and be reminded but it was distant drums.

I was recently reminded of 'Hallelujah' when I heard the recording by Rufus Wainwright. I was instantly smacked back 20 years, and while the song had an enormous effect, it was now for many different reasons. It has been dragging through my mind ever since, haunting me.

There is a new movie out, an homage to Cohen called I'm Your Man.

I don't hit the cinema for many movies, but I think this time will be different. After all, not too many people stick by you for 20 years. Especially peerless poets.

June 29, 2006


Highway Horror Stories

Today's Power Shift (it'll be posted on the site this afternoon, it's in the Spec now) asks for your more notable moments while travelling. Seen something crazy? Dangeous? Funny? Click on 'comments' underneath, follow the instructions, share your tales...

June 28, 2006


Everybody Into The Pool

I'm not a fan of physical fitness. Well, I'm a fan of having it, but certainly not getting it. I've heard all the expressions, like 'no pain, no gain'. I subscribe to something closer to 'no pain, more wine'.

As a kid, I had surgery on both feet. I can't jump, run, cycle or play team sports. The team part is actually because I can't get along with people, but that's another story. The only thing left is swimming, which I rather like, so it works out.

Getting into the pool is difficult sometimes. I have a gold medal in procrastination, and the last 6 months I've convinced myself that I've been too busy to go. Too busy sitting on my butt is more like it, but now that I find I have too much butt to be sitting on, it was back into the pool.

Oh, the pain. When I stopped, I was doing 70 laps a day, pretty much every day. I did 40 yesterday, and hauled my sorry self out of the shallow end looking like the missing link.

Today, I hit 50, and I am typing with jello arms. Women twice my age were scooting by like eels. I silently cursed myself for having no discipline these past 6 months, and wondered where my time was spent. I hope it was worth it, because I don't think this ringing in my ears is a good sign.

The upside is that my heart is pounding away. And you thought I didn't have one.

June 27, 2006


Live @ 5:30 Tuesday

When kids are hellions, should parents be held responsible? I know, I know, we're not talking about your little angels...join us today on CHTV 11 at 5:30 and 11:30 for the fun.


Gift Cards

Got a gift card in your wallet? Bet you do. You can get gift cards absolutely anywhere now, which you'd think would be a good think. I think it's an annoying thing. When the Ontario government started bellyaching about expiry dates here, I had another thought. Quit the practice of leaving a few cents on them.

The kids get these things as gifts, which is great if you use the whole think at once. But what happens is that if the card is for 50 bucks, and the purchase comes to 46.10, they lob the difference back onto the gift card. And nowhere is it noted how much is still on it. Picture a wallet full of these things, all with varying amounts that are nowhere close to the amount originally printed on them.

If I remember that I have one, if that happens while I'm actually in the store that it's for, and if I can find it in my bog of a purse, I am always delirious with happiness to discover it has knocked $3.21 off my purchase.

And yeah, that article is right. Usually by the time I line up all those 'ifs', the thing has expired. Also not printed on them. Using these things is like playing pin the tail on the donkey. And I'm the donkey. I'm also the one juggling a latte, holding up the line and cursing the darkness of my purse, all to discover the card is no good.

Why can't they just give you cash back for the change, especially if it's just a few bucks? I'd throw the stupid things away if I couldn't hear my Mom's voice in my head, gasping, that I would consider throwing away two dollars.

Two bucks for my sanity, Mom? Cheap at twice the price.

June 26, 2006


Poking a Sleeping Dragon

If you've followed the news over the course of the past year, you know that Dofasco is changing ownership. My dad worked there for 40 years, and bought all of his kids stock at one time or another. I sold 24 shares when I bought the house (every nickel counted) and had 12 left. But, as is typical Lorraine, I'd misplaced the certificate. You can't sell shares unless you have the actual certificate. They're so picky.

One of the courting companies kept sending me offers to purchase. I kept responding that I would love to - but I'd lost the paper. They finally told me to get a copy of my dad's death certificate (the shares were jointly held, as I was a minor when he bought them) and that would suffice. It's pretty easy to get hold of documents like this now - you write the cheque, fire off a form you download on the computer, and ta da!

I'd pretty much forgotten about it, until I just opened the mail. Dad's death certificate. On that waxy silky official paper they use. Which of course makes it all official all over again, ten years later.

As I'm sitting here blubbering like an idiot, I realize that sometimes some bureaucratic red tape wouldn't be such a bad thing. Some processes are just too easy.

And some endings are just so damned hard.


No News Is Good News

The only part of home I miss at the cottage is getting my newspapers. There's no internet, so I can't even read fake papers. It's hard to justify a trip to town just for a paper, especially when everyone else thinks I'm a little crazy.

You'd think I would be content to lie on the dock with a vodka and iced tea in one hand and a National Enquirer in the other, but noooooooooo....I need to know what I'm missing in the real world.

I don't care that the phone isn't working half the time, I don't freak out if the power disappears and running out of something just means we eat something else. But I want my paper. There used to be a newspaper box out at the main road, about a 2 mile return hike. Every year I'd pledge to do the walk each morning. I've never done it, and then a few years back, they removed the box. Oh darn, and that was the year I was really going to start walking.

Well, this year the box is back. And once again, I've made my pledge. I can live without email, I never check phone messages back home and I turn off my cell. But I need my paper.

If you see a woman lying on the shoulder of the road in front of a big rock painted like a snapping turtle, get her a paper and drive her back to the cottage, will ya?

June 25, 2006


Cottage Life

So, the good news? I think only one mouse made it into the cottage all winter. He got a bellyfull of the noxious stuff we put down, and ran away screaming.

I'm still trying to figure out the cut off point of 'cute'. I don't intentionally look for things to kill that get in my way, but I'm not above wanting to snuff out anything creepy or crawly or that leaves a little trail of poop over the cutlery.

My sister Gilly was up one year with just her two little ones, then about 3 and 5. As she lay awake in the dark, she just knew she could hear something scuttling about. We're used to maybe, occasionally, possibly, hearing something up in the attic, but she knew this was different. This was close. This was real. This had to be dealt with. As if on cue, the power crapped out on her.

She finally gave up, after realizing that pulling a pillow over your head didn't lock out the noises inside your head. Like some kind of mommy stealth bomber, she crept out to the kitchen armed with a flashlight. She'd hear a noise and stop, at which point the noise would stop. She kept on like this for awhile, doing a mouse-and-mommy tango until she finally flicked the light upwards.

There, sitting on top of the valance a mere 4 inches from the ceiling, sat a little deermouse. Deermice, for the uninitiated, have huge ears - think Mickey Mouse - big eyes and little brown bodies. Sure, sounds cute now. As Gilly proceeded to multitask (she lost her mind, dropped the light and ran for her camera, all at the same time), the mouse remained frozen in fear.

She got the picture. She lost the mouse. She packed up the kids and ran home the next day.

Awesome picture. Almost worth the stress.

June 23, 2006


Are We There Yet?

Opening up the cottage every year is like a little visit back in time. We have a guy, Rod, who does all the plumbing stuff now because I got fed up with one little messed up valve meaning we couldn't pee for 8 hours.


But who ever gets in first has to air out the cottage smell, which actually is not all that offensive. A little musty, a little woody, but nice. With a little luck, no storm has knocked out the power, and the kids rediscover movies and games that only hold an appeal at the cottage.

And of course, the real beauty of cottage opening: First one in cleans up the mouse crap.

Be back blogging on Sunday...have a good weekend.

June 22, 2006


CH Live @ 5:30

Yesterday's blog topic is today's TV talking point. Tune in to CHTV 11 for Live@5:30 for a knockdown on the Supreme Court's screw up. Well, that's my take, anyway.

June 21, 2006


Big Fault Divorce

Oh, jeez. This could be a nightmare. The Supreme Court of Canada is going to rule today on whether to re-introduce 'fault' into divorce cases. In 1985, parliament got rid of the whole finding fault thing. 'Marriage breakdown' was the only box you could tick.

So, should we return to the old ways? Should we decide that divorce will once again be entrenched in law as a battle of the bitter? In this day of endless paper and technological trails, you could catch somebody doing something in about 12 seconds. Forget private investigators - you can just call the cell phone company or the bank and have enough 'I knew its!' to get divorced 8 times.

If that's what you want, that is. Why do people not realize that vindication is just not that sweet, or rewarding? You know if you're being lied to. You're lying to yourself if you think otherwise. You already know if your marriage is a pile of poo. If you're looking for reasons to leave, you should have left a long time ago.

I once knew a woman who carried her bitterness about her divorce around with her like an medal. She spent over 40 years, until the day she died, angry, single-minded and absolute hell to be around. What she never realized was that she gave the best years of her life to some creep not while they were married, but after he was long gone. What a waste of a life.

When I walk across my yard, I step on thousands of microscopic little beings. I cause damage without knowledge, without intent. Marriage is like that. Whenever you have more than one person, you have politics. People do things every day, with every step, that can be interpreted a thousand different ways. When the scale tips and the hurt consistently outweights the joy, it's time to decide if this is the way you want to live the only life you have.

Just be careful where you step.

June 20, 2006


Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?

It's funny. They call them 'newspapers', so the articles contained therein should be 'news'. Read this piece in today's Spec. Men apparently misread women when it comes to evaluating their own sexual attractiveness to said women.

Ha! This is news? Men overestimate their sexiness, women underestimate theirs. Remember how many times you've wondered how a rather homely lad got to be with such a stunning woman? Easy. He asked.

There's the usual anthropological stuff - women are more interested in good providers, guys are more visually stimulated, yack, yack, yack.

My admittedly not vast experience has shown that men will risk being shot down. And move on to the next one. It may make them appear to not be too picky, but I think they're just realists. They don't wanna go home alone. Women pine and plot and plan in reference to one guy at a time. It makes for way too much down time.

Men use buck shot - women are snipers. Who do you think is going to register more hits?

June 19, 2006


Time for Change

People who get migraines seldom make plans. We've learned not to, because predicting how you're going to feel in two weeks or even two days requires a crystal ball and a dowsing stick.

This New York Times article delves into the art of blowing people off, whether it's business or social. It's mostly about the fact that we're so over-scheduled that a cancellation is like a gift. I have a better idea. Don't make plans in the first place, especially you people that specialize in the double-decker time travel version of the feat.

I once had to work with a guy that somehow believed he could be in two, or more, places at the same time. He believed he could drive 40km in two minutes. But most mistakenly of all, he believed people would put up with this garbage. He was mistaken. Nobody thought of him as busy and important; they just thought he was a self-important liar.

Cancel once, with a believable reason, and you're free to go. Twice? Forget it. You're telling me your time is more valuable than mine. Anyone who books a third time is a fool. And you know what? Tell the truth. If you're just in a really pissy mood, I get it. Life can clip anyone - doesn't mean you have to keep tapdancing on my account.

My friends cut me unbelievable slack because of the headaches. I appreciate that, because though I will drag my sorry arse through the commitment with a pounding head, I'm kidding myself if I don't realize they just wish I'd stayed home.

The nutty thing with all this go-go-go pace we seem trapped in is that the best, most productive moments are never planned for. A spur of the moment walk for a coffee with a friend is heaven. A chance business discussion when I've stuck my head into somebody's office usually yields the best results.

To paraphrase Billy Ocean: 'Get me out of your Blackberry and into your life'.

Unless I have a headache.

June 18, 2006


Father's Day

Read Postsecret today. If you don't mist up once or twice, there is something wrong with you.

I miss my father with a pain that sears clear to my soul.


And The Award Goes To...Everyone!

Before the heat melts away my righteousness, I can't let this slide by. It seems schools in the States are now looking to start naming multiple valedictorians to stop the fighting. To stop kids suing. To assauge tender little egos that can't take not winning, as they have been prepped to do since preschool. What a crock.

I don't know if we had a valedictorian from my high school. I can't recall. Which means it certainly wasn't me. There may have been one at my university convocation, but I blew it off so I'm not sure. I know in the U.S. it seems to feature hugely in every movie that involves high school or college, and I know to some kids it's more important than air. The New Yorker susses out the stupid here. Whiners.

With parents expecting and accepting nothing but the best from their progeny before they are even born, it's hardly surprising that kids feel the pressure to succeed every time, all the time. I have an idea. Teach your kids how to lose, folks. Imbue them with a little good grace, a little generosity, a sense that they share the planet with others.

Some kids are faster runners; some kids are better at math; some kids are gifted artists, and some kids can play the piano. Instead of insisting your little angel be ALL of the above, give him a real chance at success by explaining that life is a buffet of wonderful, and not so wonderful, experiences. Up his odds of success with dealing with reality; a teaspoon of humble goes a long way.

You can't sue, whine, or pout your way to a more rewarding life any more than a parent can judge their parenting skills by a row of trophies on the mantel. Why convince your kid that happiness and fulfillment is just a lawsuit away?

June 16, 2006


New Archives...

...are up!


40 Candles

A lot of people lose their minds when they approach birthdays ending in '0'. 30, 40 50 etc. I didn't care much about 40. I'd started a new chapter in my life and I was more excited than nervous. Change brings about possibility.

No, I was fine when I turned 40. I'm having way more trouble with my baby sister turning 40. Now, there is cause for concern. This means I have a younger sister who is practically middle aged. Assuming we live to 80, which always cracks me up when some guy is described as middle aged when he's 54. Yeah, you gonna live to be 108 buddy? Probably not.

Today is Gilly's 40th birthday. That's her real name, because even though I've always used a fake name in the column, she outed herself in an earlier blog, so I'm going for the whole deal here. Gillian is 40.

I had to share a room with her; we were the two youngest. She'd purposely clean her side of the room (by stuffing all her dirty laundry in the drawers) and then call my mother to show her how neat she was ('aren't I neat, mummy?). Of course, my stuff was everywhere, and I'd get in trouble.

We would fight, and she'd holler for my mom, then cry on demand. I don't possess that particular skill, and she had tear ducts that belonged in Hollywood. I'd get in trouble. She constantly got better marks than I did, so I'd get in trouble.

She would tell my parents if I hadn't paid her back money I'd borrowed (I swear she used to print it off under her bed) and I'd get in trouble. She'd patiently explain that she hadn't ridden her bike, so only I could have left the garage open that night, and I'd get in trouble.

My entire life has pretty much been having to stand beside this little blond beauty with a perfect smile, so I always got in trouble.

Welcome to 40, Gilly. And by posting this, something tells me I'm going to be in trouble.

June 15, 2006


Break/Brake..

Yeah, I know. Today's Power Shift has the word 'brake' mispelled as 'break' throughout. Hit me with a dummystick. I'd blame my editor, but that would be weak.
But...


Live @ 5:30 Thursday

Tune in to CHTV 11 at 5:30 (or 11:30 pm)...I'll be on what promises to be a raucous segment involving porn, adultery and other issues. Talking about it I mean.

June 14, 2006


Got It, Got It, Need It...

Let's do a little media hopping today. As usual, courtesy of President Sock Monkey to the south of us, most of the world is going to hell. Well, certainly the part he's established squatters rights in.

Stephen Hawking carefully extols the virtues here of going to the moon and living there. Maybe Ralph Kramden was ahead of his time. I think Stephen Fruit Loop should stick to black hole theory.

And not unlike the cavalry, Garrison Keillor rides in with a little perspective. If you only read one link, read this one.


CHML

I'll be on with Jamie West today at 11 am for an hour. Tune in to 900CHML and see if I can make Jamie talk about something other than Caledonia....

June 13, 2006


Not Dead

I'm not dead, I'm just boring today. Dinner is with 5 teenagers - there has to be a blog in that...I'll check in later.

June 12, 2006


Want a Laugh?

This video is great. Take six minutes to check it out...you need sound.


Food For Thought

Monday morning guilt. Jackson just took off upstairs with his english muffin - all refined white flour and not an ounce of nutrition in the thing. I tried to buy whole wheat english muffins a few weeks back, and he looked at me like I'd kicked a puppy.

Then I sit down and stumble on this article in Salon today, which makes it all the worse. It tells us of all the stupid tricks we fall for in the supermarket, and why we're getting fatter and dumber by the minute. There has been a big push on lately for the Whole Foods thing - a store that features all organic stuff, and costs more than a trip to the jewellery store.

The article makes some great, salient points. Some I already knew, some I didn't. As we face worsening health and social factors from our inability to get control of our diet and nutrition ideas ('if it says 'contains vitamin D, it must be good for me!'), it's past time to get a grip. If you haven't seen the documentary Super Size Me, watch it with your kids and you'll never cruise under the golden arches again.

We're idiots. We buy crap, we let ourselves be fooled, and we fly over the cliff like a bunch of lemmings when something is a 'deal'. We're also tired, inundated with advertising, and increasingly looking for ways to appease kids we perhaps love to say yes to.

Read the article, and maybe entertain some of the tips in it. Stick to the periphery of the grocery store, check for fake-o ingredients, and enlist the whole family in food research.

And stop caving in and buying english muffins.

June 11, 2006


A Fish Story

We've promised Jackson a fish tank; we already have one I bought a few years back, but the fish died before they were even named.

Seeing an opportunity like a smart bomb seeks its target, my sister offered Jackson her three-times-as-big tank. She's trying to unload it, and Jackson has images of an entire ocean swimming around in our rec room.

I've already told him he can only have cheap fish. Some of them at the pet store are thirty bucks each - impressive until you're flushing thirty dollars down the toilet. I call the little tetras and zebra fish 'flushables', and he wanders around the store asking if these are flushables. I pretend not to notice the clerks raised eyebrows at someone entertaining a pet's demise before it even leaves the store.

Thanks to my sister, I'm probably going to have to spring for 40 little flashy flushables. But it's sure to be wonderful entertainment for Jackson, and no doubt a special form of torture for our two cats.

June 10, 2006


Post Boast

Want to know how I'm certain that my current job is the last one I will ever have?

This article seals the deal. I've been yammering on for ages about how public the internet is - and trying to explain to anyone who will listen that privacy is out the window, and not just because George W. may be listening.

As students leave the confines of school and enter into the working world, their student days are sometimes dragging along behind them like a piece of literary toilet paper. Employers are googling and myspacing to see what lurks behind the lines of the best resumes.

The young man in the article lost out on a great job because of crazy boasts of drugs and sex and wildness, often at the same time. Such posting boasting is common. While most of us trip the light fantastic on a return ticket, who's going to believe that you have given up your wanton ways, especially if they know nothing else about you?

My craziness is pretty much limited to revealing my questionable housekeeping skills, my original parenting ideas and a mind rich in trivial minutiae. But my politics are no secret, my sympathies are an open book, and even a bad day gets recorded.

The lampshade on your head that previously was seen only by the still-sober at some party can now be used against you forever...and that's a long time.

June 9, 2006


You've Got Mail

Probably scads of it. And it probably contains endless requests for hits to certain sites, making wishes as you scroll down, unbelievable photos and 'true' stories of fear and gore.

Before you do as commanded and pass it on to your entire mailing list, check it out, will ya? Go to www.snopes.com and find out whether that kid was ever actually kidnapped, if that shark photo is photoshopped, and if your computer is going to explode if you open mail with 'stripper' in the subject line.

If you haven't already seen it, the site is fun. And time consuming. But best of all, it debunks a lot of the stuff clogging up the cyberwaves.


Street Racing

Yesterday's Power Shift column was about street racing, where I commented that anyone who thinks they're hot enough to race should take it to the track. I had an informative email recommending this site for further information - www.raceosca.com

June 7, 2006


Damn Dam?

They've opened the Three Gorges Dam.

I've been loosely following this, because it freaks me out a little. To produce the hydro this huge country needs, China has build this massive dam (600 feet high, 1.3 miles long). The part that keeps niggling away at me? They've had to relocate over one million people to do it. Now it's open, 12 cites, 40 towns and 1300 villages will no longer exist. They will all be submerged, like some murky time capsule. The peasants have been revolting, but to no avail. This is a good overview for all the pros and cons, but for all the words that have been spilled, my brain keeps coming back to those underwater ghost towns.

It also keeps hearing that old commercial: "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature".

June 6, 2006


Motherlode

Today's Motherlode column will be posted tomorrow instead of today. Space constraints at the paper bumped me a day...


Odd Odds

I remember when Newsweek came out with their famous article 20 years ago that women over 40 only had a 1 in 5 chance of ever getting married. They actually presented a bunch of odds, sliding down the scale from age 30 onward. Extrapolating their numbers, the odds were greater that the woman would be killed by a terrorist. I love when they compare things like this to shark attacks, lightning strikes, and hurricanes. I've been married. There were days I'd have gladly taken the natural disaster over the matrimonial one.

Now they've backtracked, admitting their data was faulty. At the time, my 22 year old self didn't think the article was all that noteworthy. Afterall, I was perfect and I could have any man I wanted. How could I have known that I should have grabbed George Clooney while he still had a mullet and a role on Facts of Life?

Back then I didn't care if someone over 40 would ever get married or not. Now, alas, I see how irresponsible and gutwrenching that cover must have been for so many. From where I sit now, I think it's fairly easy to get married. It's staying married that takes some doing. I've known women who married badly on purpose, believing it was better to be divorced than single ('at least somebody wanted me!). Yeech. I've also heard one moron I know call divorced men 'used', and why would anyone want one?

I say enough with breaking human emotions down to statistics. Define your own happiness because after all, the numbers might be wrong.

June 5, 2006


Play Day...

Think the terrorist cell they uncovered in Toronto is scary as hell? Think again.

Our Foreign Affairs Critic is Stockwell Day. That's right. One of the most unqualified boobs on the planet is now going to be speaking for you. Worried about what he'll say? Check out these bon mots of his from the past.

I was equal parts relieved and impressed that our government agencies, be they CSIS or Sheila in reception or whatever, thwarted this threat to our security. After Bush & Co. has been shown to have ignored/avoided/diddled away serious warnings about 9/11, it was kind of nice to know that someone up here wasn't snoozing at the switch.

But Stockwell Day? Speaking for you and me? What's he going to do, zoom in on a Jetski and reassure everyone that Georgian Bay is open for the season? I've never been a fan of the Alliance Party. From puppethead (Preston Manning) to meathead (Stockwell), I've just never seen the appeal.

Stockwell may not believe in dinosaurs, but I don't believe in him. Either way, the proof is pretty much irrefutable.

June 4, 2006


In Transit

I once knew a woman who was killed by a bus. While looking for traffic in the opposite direction, she inadvertantly forgot to check for traffic coming the other way. This is true.

This is how my life feels more and more these days. When I read of a possible terrorist cell in Toronto I realize in my intense focus on getting wiped out by the Avian Flu, I may be looking the wrong way for the bus.

We have too few icebergs, and too many hurricanes. While North American kids are becoming astoundingly obese, millions of children around the world are starving to death.

So what do most of us bitch about? Bad drivers, lousy bosses, rainy weekends, sullen teenagers, TV reruns and the price of gas. Yeah, our tiny little First World Problems.

Look out for the bus.

June 3, 2006


Romeo, Romeo...

Romeo Dallaire is my hero for a multitude of reasons. The man at the heart of the Rwandan genocide, so breathtakingly let down by so many, continues to fight for those who can't, when most others would have become, and stayed, broken.

Today, he climbs even further up my admiration ladder, though of course his words are buried deep in the front section of the paper, beneath the fold. And of course, most papers didn't even bother to listen.


Tonia Cowan

This is cool. Tonia Cowan has been inducted into the McMaster University Alumni Gallery. Wow. I've known this kid since she was nine, and she's now one of my closest friends. I wrote this piece on her a couple of years back for the McMaster Times, and she just seems to go from one great thing to another. Sometimes I forget just how accomplished she is - to me, she's still that skinny little kid.

I'm so proud of her. She works in a crazy business (she's currently at the Toronto Star), has two little guys, and her husband is working at warpspeed on his third book after publishing two (Fallen Angel and Rat) just a month apart earlier this year. And I feel so accomplished getting dressed each day.

Cheers, Tonia. You richly deserve this, and I always knew you were destined for wonderful things.

June 2, 2006


Andrew Brash & Moby Dick

What do they have to do with each other? Bear with me. A few weeks back, climbers on Mount Everest left a British climber, David Sharp, to die. And he did. Today I read that an Ancaster climber, Andrew Brash, and his team saved a man instead.

Let me offer up this disclaimer right out of the gate: I don't get the Everest thing. Conquering it requires pain, money, fitness, pain, time, pain, more money, and more pain. Not my thing. I don't come close to understanding, and I'm not going to pretend I do. I'm pleased when I get the cork out of the bottle in one piece.

Which brings me to Moby Dick. It's the classic tale of Captain Ahab versus the Whale. The story goes on and on as Ahab chases his nemesis around in his boat, and the whale becomes a diabolical match, wit for wit. Ahab needs to conquer Moby Dick like some people need to conquer Mount Everest.

Andrew Brash's father taught me Moby Dick. I remember sitting in American Literature at McMaster, listening to this booming voice spend most of the semester on this one novel. It's a pretty fat book - and a good one, and yes, I read it, but Professor Brash loved it. It might be rude to say he was obsessed with it, but he was. And my 19 year old self was more obsessed with playing euchre and drinking in the Downstairs John, no doubt rendering me one of Dr. Brash's less memorable students. In fact, I can guarantee he doesn't remember me.

When I saw that his son had given up his attempt so close to the summit to save another man's life, two things instantly went through my head: What an honourable thing, at a time when honour is in such short supply, and if he is his father's son, his thirst for Everest was astounding, making his sacrifice that much more noble.

Thank you Andrew Brash.

Edit: Okay, I just got told I have the wrong Brash family. Who would have thought there were two? (The English prof was Dr. Brasch - note spelling). Sorry for that - though the accolade stands.

June 1, 2006


Thanks for Nothing...

'Madonna Brings Back the Bodysuit' screams the headline. Well, thanks for nothing.

If I say the word 'leotard', don't you instantly have flashbacks to heavy cableknit legging things from grade school? If you were taller than a Hobbit, they hung like a hammock between your knees and made you walk like a duck. Flashforward to the disco era, and bodysuits and leotards were all of a sudden everywhere courtesy of Olivia Newton John, Jane Fonda and the infamous 20-Minute Workout girls and those fabulous camera angles (...'and one, uh, and two, uh...).

Thanks but no thanks. Bodysuits that had that snap closing in the crotch, so it took 40 minutes to go the bathroom. And lord help you if you'd had a glass of wine or two - it was worse than fumbling through a tote bag looking for a nail file.

I don't want to revisit leotards and bodysuits. I don't think Madonna should have revisited that really ugly flip hairdo, either. Why would anyone take fashion tips from this? She apparently works out for 3 hours a day, which is nice work if you can get it. If I worked out for 3 hours a day, maybe I'd be braver about presenting my bodysuited sausage body to the world too. Heck, if I worked out 3 hours a month, I'd even be more inclined.

In the mean time, I'm begging all of you - let this trend die a quick death.