February 28, 2009

As The World Gazunder

When I was a kid, my Dad would sit and make me watch history stuff on TV with him. Most of it was grainy black and white images of little figures stuttering across the screen, and I would peer at the set as my father gruffly explained what I was seeing. Let me tell you, my kids have it so much easier with colour television - they can watch the Civil War and know *instantly* who's who.

Dad's favourite nightmare was WWII stuff - though he was born in Saskatchewan, we bear a German last name, and he felt it behooved us to learn a little about what we would be blamed for/associated with/remembered for regardless of geography. The most memorable thing from all these hours and hours of film? A guy in prewar Germany buying a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow full of money. I thought that was astounding. And I made the mistake of saying so, and endured an hour long lecture on deflation as a result.

Which flashed through my brain as I read this this morning, from Giles Coren in the Timesonline. Don't be scared - it's way more entertaining than a lecture from my father.

I'm not sure of his use of the word 'gazundered' however. According to my mother, a 'gazunder' was a chamber pot (barf), so called because it gazunder the bed. Which at the time I thought odd. My father was born on the prairie, and I don't believe they called it a 'gazoutbacktopee', but whatever. Maybe it's just some quaint British term.

Coren's piece is about the crashing housing market, and the ludicrous state he finds himself in while selling his house: the buyers, though contracted, want to pay much less 2 months later because it's worth much less. And he of course has contracted to buy another place. It's like a horrific game of musical chairs, where at first you can pretend to enjoy the music, until you realize it can only go on if the music never stops.

Recently the boys stopped talking to me for a day. It came about quite simply, actually. We were discussing the fact that we can't afford to finish the basement, or put in a second small bathroom, or even fix the existing bathroom. It wasn't earnest bitching, just random dinner conversation. At that point, Maggie the cat chose to walk across the room. I lamented that it was too bad we couldn't sell her - she is worth a fortune.

No, she's no purebred anything. She a small little mutt we saved from a guy living in a rundown fleabag house who was drunk and juggling chainsaws with his buddies when we drove up to inquire about the 'free cats' sign out front. She is tiny, and has an occasional propensity to gnaw off her fur. She is fastidious, which is good. But her fur never grows back - so her tummy is pink and furless, as are random spots on her legs. The vet just shrugs. And after 8 years, we just accept it.

She looks kind of like a chicken bone from some angles - after the feast.

However. She is brilliant. Smartest cat I've ever known. We swear she spends her time alone determined to figure how to get an opposable thumb, and then she's outa here.

As the boys were musing on Maggie's magnificence that night, they asked what I thought she was worth. Without hesitating, I replied that I would take $12,000 for her. They were aghast. How could I even consider that? Maggie turned her back to me. The boys looked for signs that I was joking. They know Maggie and I are soulmates.

"Do you know how much schooling for you two is gonna cost?" I asked. "12 grand would go a long way to helping," I told them. They looked away, appalled. "The market has crashed! Your education funds have taken a beating! We need to look to other resources!" I went on.

The funny part is that my two sons believe anyone would pay for a 8 year old cat with fur missing, even if she can do the NYT crossword. With a pen. I just wanted them to remember that the things we value the most are never worth the most money, though from the state of the world, people are losing sight of that.

And Maggie, of course, knew I was kidding the whole time.

February 27, 2009

Any Idiot Knows Birds Are Noisier Than Kids

A reader who shall rename nameless (well, maybe not. It was my sister Roz) sent me this article:

NEW ORLEANS–A Louisiana woman is accused of trading two young children in her care for a pet cockatoo and $175 in cash.

Donna Greenwell, 53, is charged with aggravated kidnapping. Also charged are Paul Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27.

Greenwell allegedly called the Romeros about a cockatoo they were selling for $1,500. After hearing the Romeros were unable to have a child, she allegedly offered the five-year-old boy and four-year-old girl for money. The Romeros couldn't afford it, so she agreed to trade the kids for the bird, plus $175.

But she had no authority to put the children up for adoption. She's not their mother.

She often shares clips with me. It's quite thoughtful of her. Usually. This one, she sent with the following in the subject line: I Thought This Was Your Column.

Refusing to take the bait, I calmly replied that everyone knows I hate cockatoos. I don't even like cocaones. Her considered answer was, "that's true".

Besides, everyone knows if it was about me, the headline would read, Ontario Woman Accused of Trading Her Two Children for a Big Mac Combo and a Fake Houseplant.

Let's start the bidding.

February 26, 2009

Thursday is the New Black

It appears I am hellbent on making Thursdays miserable for myself lately. Last week's rant was just full of ranty goodness, and today is shaping up (looks at clock - realizes 3 in the afternoon is sorta late for 'shaping up') to be more of the same.

I decided that it is tax time. This means spreading out a year's worth of paper all over the dining room table. While that is a lovely excuse to not make dinner ('well, we can hardly dine when we have no table'), I have to admit that all I've managed to do is sort things into 3 piles: business stuff, house and kid stuff, and garbage. And the garbage is mostly envelopes that I didn't bother to open all year. I wish the places that send statements telling you how much money you no longer have would send out a statement yearly, instead of every week or two. I get it. We're broke. Put that postage and stationary cost back into my account, thankyouverymuch.

I just slopped a cup of tea all over the mousepad. While I'm sure I should be happy I didn't slop it into the keyboard (which, let's be honest: I could probably stick in a stock pot and make soup from), now I have a soggy mousepad. Maggie hopped up there as she always does, glared at me and hopped down, so now I have a soggy mousepad covered in cat hair.

Ari let me know the other night that the printer is only printing in pink. We just spent about 80 bucks replacing both cartridges, and it's still printing pink. Which means the printer is pooched. Now, ordinarily that would make me snarly, but we have a new spare one in the basement. We bought two last year cuz there was a deal, and the printers only cost $25. NOW, WILL SOMEONE TELL ME WHY A PRINTER COSTS 25 DOLLARS BUT TO REPLACE THE DAMNED INK IN THEM COSTS 80??? I am trying to not throw out things, but a whole printer is way bigger than two dinky cartridges. I hate computer companies.

I feel guilty. The lady came around collecting for the Heart & Stroke Foundation last night. She is a nice lady. And I had to say no, because in January I collected for the March of Dimes, but I did such a lousy job that I had to write a big cheque to cover up what a lousy job I did. Foundations should not want you to collect in snowstorms, in the month that everyone gets their Visa bills in after Christmas.

I had to pay nearly 300 bucks to fix the washing machine last week. The little pump piece is as big as my fist, and it cost that much. The washer is three years old, it's a front loader worth fixing, but this is the 2nd fix, and I'm standing there thinking how much it cost new, and realize I'm back to the same debate (see: whining about printer, above). MAKE THIS STUFF LAST LONGER. Planned obsolescence is what got us into this unholy mess. I shouldn't have to buy vacuums and washers and stoves and fridges and all those other totally unfun things more than every second decade.

I have been whapped on the head by first Arlene, and then Roz for my previous posts. Arlene: "I went to open that G&M economy piece, saw it was 6 pages, and decided 'nope Lorraine, I am not going 6 pages for you'..."
Roz" "I opened that Rockefeller stuff in the Vanity Fair link, and after 3 pages I just gave up. Geez...just tell me how it ends."

Fine. I will now only post knock knock jokes for the attention-impaired.

I gave up on Lost this season. That is all. I told the Poor Sod, no matter how hot the guys are, I just can't do this show anymore. He looked really unhappy about that.

It is beyond depressing to read that many States are opening prisons at rates that are seemingly in direct proportion to how fast they're closing schools.

I bought Moen taps because they're supposed to be so great. They have a lifetime warranty. They keep busting, and when I go into Home Despot or wherever they came from, they are cheerful enough in handing over replacement cartridges. All I have managed to do is pay a lot of money for something that breaks repeatedly, and I (well, okay, The Poor Sod, usually) gets to keep replacing them. THEY ARE NOT AT ALL SURPRISED THAT THESE THINGS KEEP BREAKING. IT IS DEFEATING THE WHOLE DAMNED PREMISE OF QUALITY. IF YOU POSITION YOURSELF AT THE TOP OF THE MARKET, AT LEAST HAVE THE DECENCY TO PRETEND TO BE WILDLY SURPRISED IF A CUSTOMER HAS ONE BREAK.

It should not be called 'dusting'. It should be called 'undusting'.

I now have to go bang around pots so everyone can eat off their laps.

February 25, 2009

VON Canada Trivia Challenge

Forget Jeopardy - trivia just got local! Put together a team of 8 friends and join me at the VON's annual fundraiser, an awesome cause that needs your help. April 4th at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, I'll be hosting - you know it's going to be fun.

For information, go here.

Wouldn't You Like To Be A Rockefeller Too?

Up to my chin in bubbles catching up on my Vanity Fair reading the other night (the tub is the only place nobody bugs me - much), I followed the fascinating, ridiculous, audacious story of Christian Gerhartsreiter - or the name you might more readily recognize, Clark Rockefeller.

You know, if you're going to go for it, you might as well go big. A con man (and perhaps murderer), he was finally caught recently after a globe-trotting charade that lasted over 30 years, included working for big investment houses (he has zip education, though his innate intelligence is pretty marvelous to read about), marriage to a hoity-toity upper crust princess - her Harvard degree apparently no shield for her blindness in marrying a guy with no discernible job, no source of income, and no social security number. Early on in his bogus career, it was noted that he had a fascination with Thurston Howell III. From Gilligan's Island. If that doesn't scream 'authentic', I don't know what does.

I bring this up now for two reasons: the story, linked here, is fascinating. And I learned the other day that he's pleading insanity. After reading the piece, you're going to think there's a whole lot of crazy people involved alright - but he ain't one of them. This is going to get interesting.

I also had a niggly little thing in the back of my head about the whole fake-Rockefeller thing. Found it. Eight years ago, Vanity Fair had a whole piece on another faker, Christopher Rocancourt. He assumed the name Christopher Rockefeller. And tricked a lot of people out of a lot of cash. Rich people must be really stupid. I mean, can't anyone find a family tree of one of the most renowned names in the world and figure out if there's a Christopher or a Clark growing down a branch? I mean, come one. Google's been around for ages now. And the library can be pretty useful too. Rocancourt was actually caught in British Columbia, and is now out of prison. What's he up to? You won't believe it - read here.

Ah, maybe it's just me. I grew up with the most distrustful man on the planet. My father thought everyone had a scam, and everyone was full of crap. He'd sort you out with a single look of his flinty grey eyes - and I can guarantee these two-bit (or to be fair, four-bit - they were pretty good) hustlers wouldn't have lasted ten seconds around here. I watched more than one charmer get bounced down the front steps.

Watch over the next couple of years. I think we're going to see more of this rather than less - but if you fall in love, keep your Amex card to yourself.

February 22, 2009

George & Nicholas Go To Chad

When the kids ask if we're going to buy a lottery ticket because the pot is so big, my reflex answer is always the same: You were born in Canada, you already won the lottery.

I dunno when I first heard that, but it's true. No matter how deeply the economy tanks, no matter how stressful these times can be, this is quite possibly the best place in the world to be.

Nicholas Kristof, a columnist with the NYT reminds me of this regularly. His reporting from Darfur has been nothing short of stunning, and today's column here is no different. Please read it. It matters. It's a couple of minutes, it's compelling, and it's got George Clooney in it.

I reviewed a book last year - Stolen Angels, by Kathy Cook - that took my breath away. The resilience and strength of these remarkable women is astounding. I'm sifting through the Sunday papers here, and most of the headlines are about how boring the Oscars have become. I think diversions are nice, and necessary, especially in these tough times.

But we've become a society so totally immersed in our diversions that we've forgotten we share this planet with people - wonderful, amazing people - who are being slaughtered as we sit, waiting for Ryan Seacrest to ask "who are you wearing?"

February 21, 2009

Forgive Me, Father...

While I've long been fascinated with all religions, I've never adhered fundamentally to any certain one. My upbringing was a podge of Lutheran and United, and in university I did a lot of study on most of the other ones. It would be misleading to leave out the deep underpinning of mystic behaviours of my late maternal grandmother. Many in my family know/sense/feel things far stronger than an instinct, and more convincing than a bricks and mortar church. And I would be remiss to leave out a serious flirt with astrology in my teen years that left some lasting impressions.

So. Open to anything is probably the motto, though I've probably reserved my highest arching eyebrow for Roman Catholicism. There's a piece in the NYT today that I found very interesting. Unbeknownst to me (it's not like they call to ask), the act of confession has apparently changed a lot. We see so many movies where the act of confession, with an anonymous priest hearing declarations ranging from trite to murderous, had you believing that Catholic churches were doing a steady business all day, every day of parishioners lined up to lighten their psyches.

Seems that's rather quaint, and Hollywood has been misleading me. Back in the '60s the Vatican ditched the booths in favour of 'reconciliation rooms', and most people made their confession once a year. And here I thought people were unloading their broken commandments on a weekly basis, at least. Nope.

A church in Stamford, Connecticut has gone back to the old way, and visits are way up. I believe this: I think it's become easier and easier for people to 'fess up. The hardest part is getting people to shut up. The article notes the Facebook/Twitter stuff that has people writing their current state of mind, sometimes every few seconds it seems. I don't get it. I still have something posted on my FB status thingee that says I'm at the Detroit Auto Show. I've been home for 6 weeks.

But judging by the need for people to blurp up their innermost feelings/thoughts/declarations so often, maybe we're all just finally recognizing the need for a good purge once in awhile. Maybe the old time Catholics got this part right: you can only carry so much emotional baggage before you have to cast it off and start all over. Blogs are a good example of this upchucking. Yeah, I know.

The thing is, by revealing so much to so many, I doubt anyone listens to any of it. The act of revealing, even incrementally, your various states of mind is about you. The listener, isn't. He's busy deciding if his next status update is witty enough to get read, or his next blog entry will go viral, or if his sob story (real or imagined) will land him on Oprah's couch.

Which circles back to the original point of confessional: anonymous and private, to focus and reflect. Now, our incessant posting and re-posting (check out the comments sections of any newspaper - same 6 people who seemingly never work, sleep or leave their homes) shows people lashing out, yet rarely looking inward. There's a lot of anger being mined in the name of 'conversation'. What many people don't realize is that the message you usually put out there is not the one people are seeing. You don't have to be a priest or a psychologist to read the underlying condition.

Or even a clairvoyant.

February 20, 2009

Lovely Short

This is great.

"A video that was submitted in a contest by a 20 year old. The contest was
Titled "u @ 50".This video won second place. When they showed it ,
everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous
applause.So simple and yet so brilliant. Take a minute and watch it
forward and backward."

Thanks to Peter.

February 19, 2009

Totally Unsubstantiated Reporting

From me. Here's my rant for a cold February morning.

I am peeved at companies that think I'm stupid. I had to buy some frozen veggies for a recipe (hold your applause) the other day, and when I reached for the bag, I thought, "gee, that's lighter. Must be the mini bag size." Nope. The Green Giant bag of mixed veggies was 750 grams. It used to be 1000, or something close to it. And it was 3 bucks - same as before, unless I got them on sale for 2. Instead of jacking the price, they downsized the package. Do they think we're dumb?

The same thing happened about 5 years ago with toothpaste. Procter & Gamble started making Crest in 75ml tubes. They had been 100ml. They left the price the same, then started upping it. Of course, most of the rest of the market followed suit, and now toothpaste is in 75ml tubes, or jumbo ones that cost about $5. It's little sleight-of-hand things like this that make me fume. P&G does it a lot - shampoo 'on sale', till you get there and it's the micro size - how many times do supermarkets have to go put back the regular sized ones when customers realize they're getting jacked at the check-out? "Oh, sorry, these aren't on sale, it's only those Barbie sized ones that we don't carry unless there is a skanky promotion going on". Or, as is usually the case, I don't catch it (I shop big) until it's too late, and I just keep them, and notch up my hate-metre for the manufacturer.

Okay, I'm on a roll. Another joke? "Serves 4". Need I elaborate? Maybe the same 4 who only need 75ml of toothpaste and 150ml of shampoo....We're hardly over-eaters, but unless two of the four are under 6, and one of them is a 2-year-old who only eats crackers, these do not serve 4.

Flipside, packages of pasta that force you to only leave a little in the box so as not to waste it. I end up with this little scrag end in different boxes, until I finally make a meal that ends up having 6 kinds of different pasta in it. The kids ask if I have a headache.


Why, if I donate annually to a charity, do they start inundating me every month? Quickest way to make me never, ever give to you again is to decide I want, or can afford, to give to you every month. And when I see how you're wasting my original donation on mailing costs to piss people off, I wonder how long before the Star does an investigative report to discover 5 cents of every dollar actually helps kids with rickets, or whatever.

Dear Rogers/Cogeco/Bell/Fido/Telus/Every Other Phone & Cable Company: Stop ripping me off. Quit sneaking crap onto my bill without me noticing. Stop forcing me to call and listen to all your recorded garbage ("press 6 if you'd like to reach through your phone and rip my dulcet-toned face off") to find out why there are little lines on my TV or crackles on my phone. You know, and I know, and you know that I know, that if I simply call and threaten to leave you'll give me more minutes, a better plan, a new phone and your first born child. Oh, and Cogeco? Your 'On Demand' movies are terrible. If you can't feature great new movies, at least have the decency to feature great old ones.

Same with mortgages. Stop making me threaten to leave your bank - give me the same deal you gave Mr. Poopdon'tstink ten minutes ago. Trust me - his credit rating is no longer much better than mine, and if I have to figure out a whole new telebanking network, I may just blow a gasket.

People at ATMs. When there is a lineup behind you, it is not the time to use the machine to perform a leveraged buy-out. As for updating passbooks - they still have passbooks?

I don't need 3 phone books. Bell and The Others - please get your sh*t together, save thousands of trees, and quit giving me phone books. I look up about two numbers a year. You're killing the planet. Ditto for Sears - I don't have a Sear account, I am not a Sears customer. Stop giving me catalogues. You are killing the planet too - but glossy.

Canadian Tire Money. Okay, this is a sacred Canadian cow, and I know it. But I'm sick of the little bundle in my junk drawer. And the stray ten cents-es in my glove box, my purse, my coat pockets, the garage, the basement and the corkboard at the cottage. I try to remember to just put them into the bin at your stores (how stupid is that?), but, and it's a big but, ever tried to return something without your fricking Magic Dollars? They count it like real money. Which would be fine if I could use these Magic Dollars, say, to buy wine, but nope. So, to recap: If I return something to your store and don't have my Canadian Tire money that you gave me -which I didn't want - you will take away my real money to make up for it. And if I later find my Canadian Tire money, I can't use it to buy wine.

The CLR lady on TV needs to go away. Now.

The Milk Calendar is the wrong shape this year, so I'm not using it. Don't change things that work. It's annoying.

The traffic lights in Burlington are so boggled and unsynchronized it is a total waste of time and gas. Whoever is in charge, wake up. Change things that don't work. It's annoying.

Well. Guess who woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

For My Car People

Okay, this is pretty funny. Don't bother getting all, well, bothered about what it says about your car.

It should make the Miata guys pretty happy - I'm speaking to them in a couple of weeks, this might be my ice breaker. And as of this second, The Poor Sod is no longer allowed to drive the minivan.

February 18, 2009

And Sometimes, Nobody Cares...

The current righteous indignation over a 13-year-old English lad becoming a father with his 15-year-old girlfriend (or, maybe not. Apparently Girlfriend sleeps around and there is a queue of other teens patiently awaiting their paternity tests) has swept other stuff right off the pages of most prominent papers. Thank gawd for the Daily Mail for not letting this one disappear under the rug.

Robin Bee Gee (okay, Gibb, but admit it, that's the name you picture, if you picture him at all, in a white suit) has had a kid ('Snow Robin' - really. 'Snow Robin') with his housekeeper, who is half his age. His age is 59, and none of this would matter except his wife is a little miffed.

Dunno why. They have an open marriage apparently, and she's known of his 8 year affair forever. And she herself is described as bisexual former druid priestess. I had to read that line twice. It cracked me up. They have a grown son (also named Robin - your confusion is understandable) who is not quoted on his parent's charades. I mean, consider the upside for him: how could you possibly disappoint your parents when they do this kind of crap to themselves?

But now Wife Gibb is severely pissed. She's ordered the housekeeper and baby tossed out of her house - seems most uncharitable of a bisexual former druid priestess, if you ask me. Not to mention her turns as a poet, playwright and former lover of a pornographic film director. When did she have the time to notice her husband had a kid with someone else? How do you mend a broken heart?

The guy, Robin Bee Gee, looks like a wrung out ShamWow now. And yes, thanks to Santa, we have our own ShamWows, so I know what they look like.

But this story is getting no play, not with a barely- teen (who looks barely 9) lamenting that he'll try to be a good dad when he gets home from school each day.

Seems to me the media have this back-assed. Step away from the trainwreck of children having children, and toss your spotlight on those who choose to live in the public eye. And the rest of us can not bother with the lot of them.

February 16, 2009

Movie for a Sunday Afternoon

Remember that music? Back before you could actually choose to watch whatever you wanted, when you wanted? Roz and I would watch Movie for a Sunday Afternoon, I think on the Buffalo station, with that ditzy music plunking in the background, and the man's boomy voice telling us it was about to start.

Well, I decided to watch my own Movie for a Sunday Afternoon yesterday. Two, actually. And I made awesome picks, if I do say so myself. We watched Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, which is darling. Really. Loved it. When I watch (seldom) the attempted romantic comedies that come firing out of the Useless Cannon (you all know the one's I mean: desperate women tearing each other's hair out to get to guys not worth the hassle), I wonder why they can't make more like this one. A perfect little movie, strong, strong performances all around (Drunk Girl is very funny - and drunk girl is rarely funny) and, I don't know, just a little gem.

But my favouritefavouritefavourite movie in ages? Appaloosa. I know, I know. I have a type. But this is the type. I love me some western - and with Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons in the stirrups, well, be still my fluttering heart. It's awesome. Harris co-wrote and directed - it's a project from his heart, and it shows. He and Mortensen have a subterranean friend-magic going on that is lovely - especially in tough guys. And, it's funny. Favourite line? Harris struggling to describe Renee Zellweger's widow-character, who he's fallen for though he realizes he can't quite lasso her which has left him perplexed. "She's refined, she speaks well, she's pretty, she dresses fine, she plays the piano, she chews her food good but it appears she f*cks anything that isn't gelded."

I'll even take Zellweger - I've liked her better in other stuff, and I still think Diane Lane would have been better here, but, hell, she already did Lonesome Dove as the pivot between two best friends, and I guess that just couldn't happen again. Shame, though.

I think I need to do one of those regression-type things to find out if I lived a hundred years ago on the prairies or something. I've never even been on a horse but these movies just make me want to charge around on one shooting things and drinking shots of whisky and being all kinds of hellacious.

As soon as I put the laundry away.

Okay, THAT Picture...

I've been fielding some (I hope) good natured ribbing for the pic that ran on Saturday's cover. Dave Cooper did an admirable job, in my estimation, of getting me to behave long enough to get a snap where I didn't have my tongue out, where I wasn't falling off some boxes they had me standing on at one point, or when I wasn't yelling at editor Mark Richardson for his snarky comments off camera. Big thanks to Nika for flower and hair arranging.

All in the spirit of Valentine's day, roses had to be rounded up that morning. It was press day at the auto show, and we didn't even know what car I would be standing with until they announced The Car Of The Year just before. The Hyundai Genesis is a really pretty car - and thank heavens for a four-door to minimize the appearance of my assets, as it were.

Richardson ended up at the only place downtown to get roses for the pic - The Royal York. Don't want to know what they cost, but they're here on my counter, all pretty and expensive.

Anyway, Cooper's the real star here.

February 15, 2009


I've linked some of this woman's posts before - she writes about time she spends with her hysterically funny mother. This post is brilliant.

Belated Valentine

Yesterday's Wheels was a little Valentine. For anyone still in the mood, here's the link...

February 14, 2009

Giles Coren

Oh, I laughed myself stupid over this.

Nobody does sarcasm better than the lovely Brits who are reared in a society that allows you to say anything you like as long as you can get the words around the tongue you have planted firmly in your cheek.

And nothing is more predictable than the literary Luddites who will appear on cue from the mist to the letters section to take it all at face value, first glance and with no good humour whatsoever.

I actually like dogs just fine, myself. I don't want one, but for the most part, I can tolerate most and even appreciate some. But to read something with the headline "Enough Whining: Ban All Stinking Dogs" in today's Timesonline tells you what you're in for.

Citing yet another child killed by a dog - as he segues into his own experiences with the critters - Giles states this:

"They've got to go. Dogs have just got to go. All dogs. Just to be safe. I'm not saying a spaniel represents a mortal danger to toddlers (indeed, if you shoot a toddler yourself then your spaniel will merely go over and point at it, and then your golden retriever will bring it back, and your dalmatian will bury it and then forget where it left it) but the problem is that owners will always get round breed-specific laws by crossing their murderous animals with others, as a disguise."

Can you imagine how much more alive our papers would be if we had more editorial, in every section, like this? The only trick is to make sure you pick on everyone, all the time.

Except cats. Now, don't be picking on my kitties....

February 12, 2009

Blame It On Lorraine

Okay, here's a round up for bits and bobs that have been coming into Blame It On Lorraine - all of you who prefer the anonymous route that the blind email offers, apparently.

In no particular order:
I blog when I can. Some days I'm busier than others. That's a good thing. Busy = more work. More work = kids eat better.

I post both columns on a Monday. I know it says the Wheels one is on Saturdays, but I hate bugging Webgod Jeff on the weekends. Anyone who can't wait, can just click on the Wheels link to the Star site, and ~voila~...current column. But thanks for asking :)

I've been asked to write a column about men's facial hair. After I wrote about the boys starting to shave, somebody decided I should tackle the subject about men. Because I can't get a whole column out of that, on the record? Guys should do what feels comfortable. Clean shaven is nice. I also like to see what guys I know look like with a beard and moustache - and then I usually ask them to shave it off once it comes in. Styles change - unless you're about 20, I wouldn't recommend all the goofy facial hair trends that seem to change with the weather.

Flipside, make sure to ask your barber or stylist what they recommend when it comes to your noggin. If you still have feathered bangs or a mullet, welcome to 2009 - time for a change. Unless you are lucky enough to be bald - my affinity for the follicely challenged has been long established (sorry Poor Sod).

To the angry, angry guy who's ex-wife hosed him royally in court, I'm sorry. Nobody wins in divorce, and only hearing one side means any comments on your own special hell are pretty useless. Changing lawyers 3 times usually signifies you're more interested in finding someone to tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. Find a therapist to vent at, put your ex in your rear-view mirror, and remember that not all women are evil bitches. Lots of money-grubbing, soul-destroying litigants on both sides of the aisle - the only constant is the frigging legal bills that are happy to pave your path to the poorhouse.

To the coward who feels I shouldn't be wasting space in the Wheels section - I've forwarded your kind words to my editor. He's getting right on it. Oh, and how dare you accuse me of shopping at Wal-Mart. Now, that hurt.

To the lovely gentleman who let me know his late wife always read my Wheels column - thank you. Notes like yours are a genuine kindness.

I think that catches us up. I'm still happy to answer real questions in BIOL section - a new one will be up by tomorrow.

February 9, 2009

Stay With Me

This could get rambly. But it's bugging me.

The OPP have busted a large child porn ring. As always, I scan down the list of names charged, wondering who these people are, who lives next to them, who their families are, and wondering how I would feel if one of the names bounced out at me. So far, that's only happened once in my life, and my stomach clenched like a rock. Without going into details, that situation has haunted me for over 2 decades.

Here's the list. Friends? Co-workers? Neighbours? Family? I mean, come on. Somebody knows these guys. Men that believe it is okay to sexualize and abuse young children. Allegedly. Always allegedly.

We are privy to the most heinous deeds humans are capable of doing to each other. And still, I can think of little more vile than grown men raping infants and children. And then filming it and trading it to other sick bastards. And yet, they live among us. And nobody ever knows? In an era when everything - everything - we do is recorded, filmed, tracked and catalogued, people can still get away with preying on children? Do these children not have parents, grandparents, neighbours, friends, teachers, anyone? Are we so out of touch, and out of reach, of the children in our society that we don't notice?

There's always a big noise made when they release a known sex offender into a neighbourhood. It happened around here a few months back, and it's scary. But what most people need to keep remembering is that every neighbourhood already has these people in it, whether they're sporting a big red 'P' on their forehead or not. And whether you have kids or not, or whether you believe your kid is safe or not, is not good enough. We owe our kids - all of our kids - more.

I'll tell you a story about my mom. One time, probably 40 years ago now, she was walking down New Street, a main street near our house. Skipping ahead about a block of her was a little girl, perhaps 7. As they walked, a car drove past my mother, and stopped beside the little girl. The driver, a man, leaned across the passenger seat, and cranked down the window. The little girl ran to the car, and my mother ran to the little girl. Now, my mother didn't run. Nope. Not a runner.

Out of breath, she put herself between the little girl and the car, holding her by the arm. "Do you know this man?" she asked the girl. Who stared at her incredulously, and replied, "Yes! He's my Daddy!". My mother was 8 levels of embarrassed until she realized the man was thanking her profusely. The little girl was still just perplexed.

We need to risk being embarrassed. We need to step up and let kids know we care enough to be wrong. We need to trust our instincts when something isn't right, and quit thinking its not our business. Children get hurt because adults don't act.

As for these alleged sick bastards in the list above? Somebody knew. I guarantee it. And I'm so sorry for the children that some adult, any adult, in their lives didn't protect them.

Motherlode Redux

The Spectator is running a different Motherlode column today. For anyone drifting in from Toronto, you can read it here if you can't wait for Webgod to wake up and post it...

February 7, 2009

Gail Collins

Got the Obama hangover? Pundits and bloggers and blah-gers everywhere are gleefully jumping up and own all over, screeching that Obama has done a faceplant right out of the gate. The fact that nominees are always - always - bumbling and stumbling, regardless of the president, is conveniently overlooked. I mean, it's practically a tradition for busy, rich, political-type people to forget to pay the taxes for the hired help. Isn't it?

Gail Collins has a great piece in the NYT today. She's funny, and spot on, as usual. Obama is doing pretty much all the stuff he said he wanted to do, like playing well with others, including those pesky Republicans. I'm not sure how people thought that was going to happen, but evidently they weren't ready for the need for, I don't know, concessions or something. Says Collins: "He always said the bipartisan path was going to be rocky, but this week the going was so rough that the great trailer-tractor of stimulus blew out several tires on the shoals of post-partisanism".

He'll do his best; it won't always be enough, the economy is gonna get way worse, regardless, instant gratification junkies are going to be livid, and most of us in Canada will still look on in envy at a leader who, errors or not, still seems to want what's best for his people, not just his career.

And the rest of us will continue running with scissors.

February 6, 2009

Of Mice and (Wo)Men

"Pest Control Lax" blared the headline today in my paper. Yeah, no kidding.

For the second night in a row, I've had to toss a mouse out of my house. I am not happy. I don't know where they're coming from, but I do know they're ending up in our bedroom, at night, putting on a show for the cats. These are not beleaguered varmints - they are chubby and healthy, and relatively happy until they realize they have been treed under a dresser, and there is a giant No Frills bag heading for them.

There is no evidence of them anywhere. There is no mice poop anywhere, no open food bags, nothing. My sister suggested perhaps they were descending from the attic somehow. I asked the Poor Sod if that were possible. "Not unless they're parachuting in," he replied. This visual was the only smiley point in my day, so far.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon this picture up top. It cracked me up, so to speak. I've been making the kids funny shaped pancakes for years - I am quite proficient at doing teddy bears and cats. And now, I would like to be able to make eggs shaped like this.

But, in one of those little life moments that serve as reminders that you enjoy frivolity at a cost, I used my new camera (didja notice the Olympus link? Sponsor on board - wonderful camera I really need to figure out...but prepare for pictures of everything from now on...) to take a photo of my dead midnight invader. I will figure out how to put the picture here later, perhaps with a wee black bar across his eyes so as not to alarm any family not yet notified. It is very sad. But, before you call the Mouse's Aid Society, this particular mouse was not quite right when he went outside. He was moving very slowly, and though I don't think the cats had got to him, I think they may have scared him half to death. Which means I finished him off. But I didn't know what to do, and I've heard freezing to death, especially in a few seconds, isn't such a bad way to go.

Certainly better than being poached.

February 4, 2009

Real to Reel

Everyone I know that works in any form of media right now is more than a little antsy. Jobs are evaporating, and the mood in many places is a little more somber each day. One of the casualties, unfortunately, is the behind-the-scenes stuff that usually goes on. What you see, say, in front of the cameras of your favourite newscast is the professional delivery. What you don't see is the lead up, often within a split second of the camera going on, of crazy people cracking up. With less people, there is less clowning. And there's nothing like reporting on your own possible job cuts to squeeze the fun out of your day.

Having said that, I would have paid to be in the studio of this news station. Fark has it titled as a News Blooper, but lemme tell you, somebody went to extreme measures to pull it off - this was totally on purpose, and it's hilarious. I'm going to guess somebody already knew their job was toast - you need sound. Here.

February 2, 2009

CHCH Live at 5:30 Monday

Tune in at 5:30 tonight (repeat 11:30) on CHCH 11 - kids and credit - is it time to make learning about money mandatory?