January 31, 2008

Getting There...

I'm out of here in a couple of days...flying to Copenhagen to bomb around in Volvos close to the Arctic Circle. Been writing like a demon to file for deadlines that will happen whether I'm in my kitchen, or not. Norway and Sweden will never be the same.

If I get all the laundry done tomorrow (good chance with the pending storm), I'll leave ponderings in my absence, if anyone cares. I have one kid rooting for me to leave my laptop behind, but I know not taking it will be like leaving my right arm at home. If it's with me, I'll be blogging while you all are sleeping...I don't do jetlag well, this should be interesting.

January 29, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30 Tuesday

Already a bully's victim by grade 2. But what really is the answer?

January 28, 2008

Blog Fog

I like to kind of ease into the week. Mondays are okay, as long as nothing moves too fast and nobody is furious.

You've all heard of Webgod Jeff. Speaking of fast and furious...

As I was reading about the mess-up going on with Sears in the U.S. (their can-do-no-wrong last year Chief, Edward S. Lampert, is very much do-no-right now), and connecting it with interesting mismanagement problems (scroll down to 'Pall in the Family' from David Olive's column, or go for a great in- depth read here, a recent Toronto Life offering) going on at Loblaws with their rocky trying-to-keep-it-all-in-the-family-even-if-the-family-ain't-cut-out-for-it plan, I somehow shut down my email.

I sometimes do this on purpose. If I'm trying to write to a deadline, my email can be a shiny object I keep chasing and it distracts me. Other times, I'll shut it down if I'm waiting to hear from someone, and it's just not happening. I'm trying to become an out of sight, out of mind type of person, rather than an absence makes the heart grow fonder sort. I guess my mother would tell me a watched pot never boils. Except they do, eventually, right?

Anyway, no email. And I was getting work done, and on a Monday so things were going well. I finally realized my email was off when I went to check something. Turning it back on, I found a pile of emails from Webgod Jeff, stacked up like little jets on a runway.

The first one had nothing in the subject line. We talk a lot to each other, and he's in the midst of developing a new website for me, so the emails have been going back and forth in a fury.

The second one had no subject either. But the third one had 'important' in it. In little letters like that. The fourth one had big screaming letters 'VERY IMPORTANT!!!'.

Now, Monday was perking up. I opened the first one. Just a reply to a question I'd had. I opened the second one. 'Where are you? Are you there?" because I hadn't answered the first one, I guess. Impatient bugger. The third one, now ranked as 'important', told me 'NOT to post to my blog. Just, don't do it'. He knows not to give too many details or reasons; I will just mess it up, and am better following succinct directions.

Because he hadn't heard from me on 'important', he'd sent 'VERY IMPORTANT'. I had a feeling he was about to feel a little foolish, but I opened it anyway. This is what I found:


This is very important!! If you post a blog it will screw your whole blog section...seriously..don't do it...I'll charge you $1000 just to fix it. I swear I will!!!!

Now, Webgod is the king of one word answers. You could chop off his hand, he'd kind of flinch. And here is was, Monday morning, and he's yelling at me. In red. And threatening me with extortion. Nice.

I told him I hadn't posted. I was too busy doing real work, which curiously didn't involve threatening people who pay me. I explained my email had been off, that was all. His answer?

ok you can post again...wouldn't that email make a funny blog! i think so!

January 26, 2008

Peak Oil = Bleak Future?

Adding to my little dark cloud, I've been following this article from Thursday's Salon. Like much on this site, it's not just the original piece, it's the string of letters that trail after it that add much food for thought. Set aside some time, and read them. It's a great topic.

How is the world going to end? What have we done to ourselves? Now is the time for me to find myself some seniors to hang out with, because they've seen the cycles of doom over the arc of a lifetime. But it's also the current bunch inhabiting the planet that comprise the most selfish in all of history - hence the blackishness of the lights out.

I'm pretty much an optimist. More of a realist, if you prefer to split hairs, but I believe you can create much of your own success, and you are responsible for most of your own failure. I prefer information over ignorance, and I firmly believe there are only one or two areas of my life where my head is planted up by butt - and neither of them stop me from raising my children, earning a living and contributing to my community.

My parents raised us to be prepared for anything; living through a war or a depression will do that to you. I don't think my parents could even have conceived of where we're no doubt heading, and I see the strain in my kids as they come to recognize issues that will profoundly affect them. Their world will not be our world. They know it, though the adults around them seem oblivious to that fact.

Anyhoo, enough drivel. Read the link. Give it a think, as my mother would have said. It'll put you back on your heels, if nothing else.

January 25, 2008

CHCH Live@5:30 Friday

Begging for a boob job? No, not me - but thanks for the thought.

Tune in to Live@5:30 on CHCH TV, repeat at 11:30. This should be fun.

January 23, 2008

The Road Home

I can't settle today, my writing muses seem to have up and left the building. I wasn't sure what it was, but believe it or not, I think it's the death of Heath Ledger.

Let me explain. When the boys first brought home a movie with Ledger in it, I watched with them, as I usually do. It was a comedy about a knight, and it was quite cute. Now, I thought Ledger was a pretty piece of candy, but there was more to him than that. And, of course, I'm old enough to be his sister, so it would have been highly unattractive to exhibit any cougarish noises. I didn't think much more of it, and I'm not sure that I saw him in anything else.

Then came Brokeback Mountain, and the kid knocked me on my ass. Anyone who has checked in here once in awhile may know that my preferred genre for American literature is Westerns. Larry McMurtry wrote the screenplay for Brokeback from a short story by Annie Proulx, and somehow, Ledger captured the same thing that McMurtry has so perfected: the isolation of a man. McMurtry captures it in geography and character, and Ledger nailed it with scarcely a word. "If you can't fix it, you gotta stand it." Indeed.

I don't know why he's dead, but I'm sorry that he is.

But my actual emotional fade started a few days back, as I read Cormack McCarthy's The Road. It's been around for a bit, but a friend just gave it to me last week. I love McCarthy, even though he has the ability to depress the crap out of me. He makes me think too much. And The Road is no exception.

What's notable, to me at least, however is this: the friend that gave me the book said it reminded her of my youngest son and me. It's the bleak, dark story of a father and son in a post-apocalyptic America, making their way on foot through a doomed land where you are literally putting one foot in front of the other, just as this pair are doing. Their bond is incredible, and it's a love story. McCarthy has admitted it's his most personal work. It has so many channels, so many layers, and a network of emotion runs through it like a grand tapestry. Considering it deals with so much deadness, it's a marvel of life.

With my friend's interpretation parked on my shoulder, I started reading. By page 30, I was a mess. This was my father and I. He carried me through, and I had to watch the life leak out of him. The line from this one that punched me in the gut? "Every day is a lie, he said. But you are dying. That is not a lie". This is every parent and child. McCarthy has stripped away everything to show the abundance of life in that connection.

So, all these western themes, both old and post-modern, all these tales of connections and losses, all the isolation and desolation of the country we live in and our very souls, have teamed up to wrestle in my wee brain.

Love who you love; cherish what you have. And be cautious about both.

January 22, 2008

Look Into My Eyes...

If you're not a Little Britain fan, the header will be lost on you. But not to worry...

You've probably watched the Tom Cruise whacked out Scientology video by now. Gawker has stood strong in the face of the famously litigious Mr. Tighty-Whitey Dancing Boy and left it up. It's still here as of this moment.

Usually when others riff on something like this, it's gets really old, really fast. Except, not this time. Craig Ferguson (who makes me laugh like a maniac just by opening his mouth) defied his own producers and ran this the other night. Ha! Take that, Top Gun.

But Ann Telnaes, a political cartoonist over at the Washington Post, puts an even better spin on all this. Others have mentioned the Goebbels-like language out of CruiseControl, but I like Telnaes' take even better. Check it out here. Still they walk among us, and even do their own stunts.

Oh, and on a final note? The two most distraught parents on the planet must be Martin and Kathleen Holmes.

January 21, 2008

Required Reading

I don't often link articles from Vanity Fair, not because I don't love them, but because I invariably do. I just think you should buy the magazine and read it in the tub like I do.

But here's a couple of fascinating pieces from the issue that has just left the stands, so I'm going to put them up. Sebastian Junger's piece after spending time with one of the most dangerous units in Afghanistan is required reading for any nation involved in this war. For the sake of all of our soldiers, read it.

If you've ever been intrigued by the story of the Bounty mutiny, or drawn to the secluded world of remote island paradises, this article is required reading. The Pitcairn of lore isn't what it seems. As most of our world and all of its wars seem predicated on one society exacting its rules and mores on another, where would you draw the line?

I have no problem drawing it at the rape of children. I don't care what your customs are.

They Call Me Mister Phil

Oh. Now, things could get interesting. Apparently, the Doctor Formerly Known As Phil (DFKAP) isn't an accredited doctor anymore. The big kerfuffle was spawned from his impromptu visit to deranged, attention-whoring/desperately ill (take your pick) chicklet Britney Spears. As the big bald doc is not accredited to practice in California, his god-like appearance at her bedside is the subject of a formal complaint.

When I first heard he'd made an appearance, my first thought was 'tell him to buzz off, Britney. He's about to take your train wreck of a life and throw it under a bus for ratings', to use one of his own phrases. But still, a yet darker side of me thinks all these people kind of deserve each other. Further investigation has revealed that DFKAP isn't even licensed in Texas anymore, the spawning ground of his particular booming brand of bully therapy. He's just yelling at people on his show for fun now.

Now, for anyone who has seen his show even once, you will already know that this isn't his first rodeo. You'll have seen a picture of his first crappy car, and loving camera shots of the lovely Robin everytime he acts all 'golly gee' when talking about marriage. Oh, it's gonna be a changing day in your life alright.

I'm not sure what on earth this guy was thinking barging down to rescue Spears. That maybe a few more cameras on the situation would help? He already has enough ratings, though I'm thinking with an ego like his there is no such thing. I'm not sure how he can keep roping more cheating husbands onto this show, frankly. I flip it on to make dinner when they have nosy mothers-in-law on, because that's my favourite entertainment when I'm sauting onions. The rest of it is just sad. Twisted and sad.

But regardless of the wide range of topics this guy has tackled over the years, the point has always been (I think) for his guests to understand that they are receiving some kind of sanctioned help. That the DFKAP was an actual doctor, and that you probably wouldn't get a chair thrown at your head. Cheesy good ol'boy repartee aside, he was yelling at and demeaning people for a reason. Once he'd ripped you to shreds, he would reknit you. Most of his truths are just common sense anyway. We could have called my mother Dr. Iris for the same wisdom.

Not retaining his license to practice, anywhere, makes me wonder if he's perhaps believing his own cultivated audience of sighing silly women who all dream of being Robin. My mother would call it too big for his britches. I'll just call it Mister Phil.

January 20, 2008

Two Silly Boys

Took the kids to see Twelve Angry Men at the Princess of Wales theatre this afternoon. Marc had been studying the film in law class, and the timing seemed pretty great. The first question out of Jackson's mouth when I announced I'd bought tickets? "Do I hafta go?".

Yes, he had to go. I remember my mother taking us to all the English pantomimes that Lionel Somebody used to put on at Hamilton Place when I was a kid. At the end, they'd always bring a real horse (or 3) out on stage, and my sister Gillian and I would just wait - really, just wait - for the horse to poop. But still. The fact I can remember any of it means it was important.

The drive out wasn't bad at all. I've come to dread whenever I have to go downtown, the traffic is rush hour all day long now. We did well until the Gardiner - you get a 3km warning for Spadina, and every arsehole on the planet was playing oops-I-missed-the-sign-I'm-going-to-have-to-nudge-in-here-is-that-okay? No, not okay. People are so rude. I spent a lot of time in a car with a person who drove this way - I used to duck in embarrassment. Everyone hates you. Stop doing that.

Of course, the lads were in the back seat alternating punching each other and discussing their current addiction - War Craft. Then Jackson would serenade us with Home On The Range. Now, this was the only song my father used to sing (in a one-note way that was hypnotising, and painful). As I listened to my 13-year-old sing the same words as the grandfather he barely knew, I finally realized what he was singing: "Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the cantaloupes plaaaaaaaaaay..."

We made it to the theatre on time, though the last single kilometre took as long as the 50 before it. The play is excellent - one room set, 12 actors, no intermissions. It is quite intense. Something I'd like to have mentioned to the woman behind us who mistook the actors' dramatic silences for her chance to discuss her recent vacation with her seatmate.

Marc loved it; Jackson behaved, using our binoculars to spy on other audience members when he got bored. I told him one day he would appreciate this experience, though I fear with the absence of any pooping horses, my words fell on deaf ears.

January 17, 2008

Mid-Life Crisis, or Narcissistic Jerk?

I like this piece from the NYT a couple of days ago. It essentially explodes the myth of the mid-life crisis - instead offering up the explanation that there is no such thing: maybe someone of a certain age is just a jerk.

I'll be honest. I think we just careen from crisis to crisis, especially after a certain age, and we have less and less control over where those crises are coming from. It's how we respond to them that defines us - and if a convertible does it for you, who am to judge? Personally, I ended the biggest phase of crises in my life (thus far) by becoming a writer; I couldn't afford a convertible. Still can't. I think it's very wrong to equate being bored and middle-aged with a crisis. Have a real crisis some time, and get back to me on the difference.

The article talks about the tug of youth being a huge catalyst. Harder to pull your achey body out of bed each morning, you yearn for the ease of days gone by while simultaneously realizing it's only going to get worse. If you love your spouse, your job, your dog and your reflection in the mirror, you can deal with it. It's when none of the parts of your life are playing in the same band that things get messy.

We can blame the media (I often do; I think it's become tacky and shallow in too many ways), we can blame the government, we can blame the terrorists. The bottom line is what it always has been, however: you are who you are from the inside out. Nothing you apply topically is gonna do a damn bit of good.

If your mother always told you that you were ugly, you don't have plastic surgery - you tell your mother to bugger off. If you dread getting up every day, a new car isn't going to make it any better. Fear keeps us in line. Guess what? There really isn't that much to be afraid of. If you consider all the nasty nightmares that have come your way, regardless of how carefully you always tread, you might as well speak up, make changes and redefine yourself as you've always dreamed of. The worst that can happen, happens anyway.

I don't know anyone in these glorious middle years (cough) that wouldn't prefer to have the creak-free body of their youth. But I also don't know a single person I preferred for the experience-free mind of that same youth. My parents were conservative by nature, and lived a careful, tucked in life. They were responsible; they did all the right things. And as both lay dying too many years before their time, each pulled me in close and told me to live. The only error they made was to postpone the things they believed they'd earned with their hard work, the things that would be their just rewards.

A 50-year-old guy in a Corvette with a 20-year-old girl by his side isn't kidding anyone, including himself. It's as lame as a cougar on a bar stool drooling over a guy who barely shaves. Like the article says, a narcissistic jerk has probably always been that way; middle age isn't a trigger, just a handy excuse. My mother always said that misery loves company.

She just never mentioned that misery loves the company of someone young enough to be its daughter, or son.

January 15, 2008

She's Baaaaaaaack

Ever been to an auto show? Where it's wall to wall people who all of a sudden stop in front of you for no apparent reason? And hit you with their oversized bags, and talk incessantly on their cell phones really, really loudly?

Okay, picture crowds almost that dense, but most of them are wearing grey suits with runners. What a madhouse. I've heard counts that up to 7,000 journalists descend on the Detroit show, which opens to the public this coming weekend. Actually, I was told that 7,000 is a rather flexible interpretation of the word 'journalist'. You have to wear a large pass around your neck the whole time which identifies your media outlet. I swear, some of the outlets listed are 'Cars In My Driveway', or other similar trumped up ways to get into the show.

I of course, am being quite snotty about that. With 'Toronto Star' swinging from my neck, I get all the respect my colleagues and editor have earned, having done little for it. I did learn a great deal, though, and one day plan to lord that knowledge over the next newbie that comes along.

I saw little of Detroit; we stayed in Windsor, just over the border. You take a shuttle from the hotel, which pulls up to a little immigration check point. You dutifully hop out of the bus, route through a counter and show your passport, then hop on the bus which has pulled forward twenty feet. The last shuttle back at night is 8pm. Apparently, you don't want to be in Detroit past 8pm. I've never seen so many cops in my life; the only 'action' we saw was a car accident right in front of the Cobo Centre - a cop had an accident with another car. Nice.

Several of us ended up in a ratty little bar on Saturday night. When we got in there just past nine, there were a couple of guys who were apparently the band, three guys holding up the bar, and us. Within two hours, the place was packed with, I swear, kids who looked about 18. Line up round the block. We held our own, in spite of all the stares, wondering who invited the old folks. The music was all 'old' stuff, meaning we knew every word. If they'd wanted us to leave so badly, they should have played lousier music. Of course, they considered it retro, while we were stuck in a time warp.

We finally decamped about 12 or so, and I tapped a young girl on the shoulder to let her know she could have our table.

"Here ya go," I told her. "The old folks are finally leaving."
"Oh, no, really, it's fine!" She reassured me, all young and cutelike. "I party with my mother all the time!"

We slunk out.

January 11, 2008

Detroit Auto Show

Much last minute scrambling, I'm leaving tomorrow for Detroit.

I'll be blogging for the Toronto Star website in the Wheels section beginning Sunday morning until late Monday afternoon. Check in every couple of hours, there are several of us descending on the show, laptops in tow to keep you informed of everything. I'll be bringing my usual je ne c'est quoi (or je ne sais quoi - somebody fix that for me, will ya?) to the event...everyone else has been assigned specific areas. I was patted on the head and told to just 'do what you do'.

And with those marching orders, I shall be doing what I do! I'm unsure if I'll be blogging here at home or not, this show is notoriously exhausting. Okay. That's not the whole truth. Travelling with auto journalists is just one long party.

Damn them. Someone has to do it.

*UPDATE: View Lorraine's bloggings at the Detroit Auto Show here -WGJ

January 9, 2008


Ah, some mornings are just lousier than others, it seems. Today's papers served up lots of reminders how it's never good to be among the defenseless. Five puppies thrown down an outhouse pit in Alberta, abandoned to more than just the elements for some reason only the inhuman could grasp. Of course now they've been rescued (check out the pic), and there will be offers of multiple homes for each, including one from my own dog-avoiding self if I lived there.

But what about this, buried deeper in the front sections? A woman charged with severely injuring a 3-year-old boy, by dipping his hands in a pot of boiling water. What twisted brain even thinks this cruelty up? How do you attack the defenseless, who have no choice but to trust you, and no physical way of fighting back? This child will require physiotherapy until he's 18. For his physical wounds. The sorry truth? The puppy story will get picked up by wires worldwide. The child will be forgotten.

January 8, 2008

CHCH Live @5:30

Ah...pregnant teenagers. Heads out of the sand, folks...

Join us at 5:30, repeat at 11:30, CHCH channel 11.

January 7, 2008

Too Cool

Found this through Fark, but it's too much fun not to share. Warning: You won't get any more work done today...

And Not A Drop To Drink

A mostly good article today in Salon about water. And the fact that over half of the U.S. (and most of the world) is rapidly running out of fresh water. My trundle-along reading led me about five years ago to understand that water is the new oil - all future wars will be over water, long after various Republicans are still duking it out to keep their Hummers humming.

See, all those people that bitched about cold winters and headed south to occupy what are essentially desert lands are now having a hard time keeping their golf courses from blowing away. I can see my father shaking his head now, as he did when he was alive, that anyone would be stupid enough to move away from water - have people become so stupid they ignore the most important lesson man learned after he evolved? We come from water; we are water.

Even if you only watch Survivor on TV, what's the first thing they always have to do? Yup. Find water. Even those morons get it. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled rant. I've written in this space before about Atlanta's dire situation regarding Lake Lanier drying up. And what's the first thing the politicians do to try and save their jobs? Well, they talk about where they can get more water from. And they cast their eyes north, where we all stand in front of our Great Lakes like a kid trying to hide a broken lamp from his mother.

The article basically tells the thirsty to move back. The mid-west had been hollowed out by people fleeing bad winters. He points out it makes far more sense to move people than water, and besides, you can't have the water. My only fault with the piece is he forgets that, uhm, Canada owns 4/5 of those Great Lakes, and while we are known for being polite and acquiescent on many fronts, don't mess with our water. Really. Step away from the water.

Go into the reader comments, however, and you'll see this point rapidly made. This issue is contentious, and is set to get far worse. We currently have a government that sits in George W.'s purse like Paris Hilton's Chihuahua - start getting your fight on for this war.

January 4, 2008

This Just In...

I have several publications that, at the time of signing up to their websites, I ticked a little box that said "yes! send me an alert if earth shattering, ground breaking news occurs!". I've since unticked most of the boxes, because it takes most of these places hours and hours to let me know, and I'm an instant gratification kind of girl.

What I would prefer is that some of them could pause for a second, and consider their timing. This just came in from National Geographic (normally one of my favourites) and I pretty much barfed up my breakfast. It's a giant rat they've discovered. Which counts as a great discovery in a National Geographic kind of way, but it's still a rat, which counts as a great grossness in every other kind of way.

I watched the first half hour of Ratatouille with little shudders running through me. Animation or not, this was a rat. In the food. With apologies to my buddy Jerry Langton, I had more than enough rat stories when he wrote his book, Rat. Great book, but he has forever woven images deep into my brain that will force me to spike his dinner with something nasty next time he's here.

Most magazines just want you to buy something. Before Christmas, The New York Times was imploring me to buy a crossword puzzle shaped like a baseball. Really? I like flat crosswords, but baseball?

The Globe & Mail pretty much just sends alerts that yes, Prime Minister Harper has commissioned another poll, and no, nobody likes him any better than they did yesterday. The L.A. Times sends out alerts about once every 6 months. Takes a lot to shake those left coasters up.

Maybe I'll get Webgod Jeff to put a little box for people to tick on my next website. Then I can send out alerts of my own. "Teenager up before noon!" "Teenager takes phone message!" "Remote where I left it!" "Somebody just spilled water, the cat doesn't need to go to the vet!"

On second thought, I'll just endure the rats.

January 1, 2008

10, 9, 8....

Well, twelve hours into the new year and I haven't mucked it up yet. So far, so good.

My friend Jayne and I ushered out the old and ferried in the new at her place - where a pack of 13-year-olds were practicing their party skills. It's official - I have become my parents. Looking at the kids, I could think of no reason why throwing confetti in the house would be considered wise; I didn't understand why these beautiful little girls wanted to look older; I didn't understand why 13-year-olds run around outside without coats. Of course, I was wondering all this with several glasses of wine in my gullet and a tiara on my head.

We had a wee table top bonfire, kindled with things we were letting go of and things we wanted to embrace. Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones that nobody else sees.

I've always loved this time of year for the clean slate-ness of it all. My birthday is in a few days, so I really do get to start fresh each year. Another friend reminded me today of the rocket ride the past two years has been, and to take good stock of the tools I've assembled as I go forward. She's right; I'm a lucky woman, plus I love the image of a tool belt to go with my tiara.

For fun, punch your birthday into here and see what 2008 holds. For more fun, read Dave Barry's annual round up from the Miami Herald.

Happy New Year, everyone. Dream big, wish well, work hard, and most of all, enjoy every moment as you're in it.