May 31, 2009

Second Hand Prose

This bit from the Guardian caught my eye - it treads on the sacred ground of lending and borrowing books. A woman had a book returned from a friend. It was destroyed. And the friend didn't seem to care.

If you're not a bookie, read no further. I would be bereft without my books. It's always been that way. At the height of our most broke, the kids knew I would still find money for books, because sometimes the library wasn't enough. There are books I want to read; there are books I need to own.

I'm currently on the hunt for a great second hand bookstore. I want a big one, where I can restock on classics, and fill out authors' backlists. I don't want the stores that only stock Danielle Steele and Clive Cussler. I want bigger. If you know one, please let me know.

I borrow books from a few people, but I'm careful to return them. I know if a book came from Arlene, because they smell ever so slightly like the wonderful incense that she burns in her house. When I open her books, it's like she's sitting there with me. Same with books from my sister Roz - she wears this really light perfume that stays with the pages. Actually, I always know if it's Roz's book - it will probably be of a certain genre we refer to as Girl in a Dumpster. You want true crime, Roz is your woman.

We have a few shelves of books at the cottage that have been there forever. It's amazing what seems like a good read lying on the dock, slightly pickled on vodka and iced tea. And yeah, I think there's even a Danielle Steele up there.

The Guardian piece bemoans people that deface books. No respect. I can't write in a book - even in school, when I owned the books, I couldn't bring myself to highlight them or mark passages. Not even in pencil. A whole English degree, not a single mark in the books. The thing is, looking back, I kind of wish I had. You can learn a lot about a person by what they write in the margins. Heck, some people live in the margins.

Anyway. Let me know of any decent second- handers. And whoever has my Katherine Hepburn biography, I need it back. Please. Can't remember where I sent it.

May 29, 2009

Blame It On Lorraine Misdirects...

Had several questions come in that I'm going to answer here, instead. Working on another more pressing question that will appear in the appropriate Blame It On Lorraine section shortly.

Peter M: Thanks for the compliment, and the cooking experiment lasted 36 days. It did spark an improvement, however, and last night's pizza was the first in a few weeks!

: Doing the Mini Med Seminar on Migraines with my friend Jane McDonald was great. Glad you could make it, and that I've put a human face on headaches for you!

Jan: Nope, I've never lived in Bismarck, N.D, nor taught English at Century High School. And yeah, that really is my picture - keep looking for your Lorraine!

: The clutch exploded because we were trying to lower an incredibly heavy trailer and jetski down a steep incline with a tiny-engined minivan that wasn't built to do that. We were idiots. That's why the clutch blew.

May 28, 2009

Mr. Smith Goes To Ottawa

Good post today by Brad Smith that'll save me a boatload of time saying it myself.

You hear the guy in Caledonia that got busted - and busted up - for flying a controversial flag? How controversial? Why, the Canadian flag. Go visit Smith.

Sugar, Sugar

Archie has proposed to Veronica.

The comic books at the cottage will forever be changed, in my mind. Re-reading them year in and year out, as I have for nearly 40 years, will never be the same.

Now I know how it ends.

The upside? If this red-headed wunderkind can ditch his commitment-phobic ways after 70 years, anyone can!

I think Betty's been doin' Reggie on the side all this time, anyway.

(Oh, and bonus points to anyone who has the title I used singing in their brain now. "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies was the second 45 I ever bought. The first was Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. My god, I was so cool back then.)

May 26, 2009

You Know You're Gonna Want One...

Don't know if you've seen this video from The Onion, about Sony's newest release.

It's full of swearing. It's a couple of minutes long. It's hilarious, and it's waaaaay too true.

May 24, 2009

For The Voyeurs Among You...

...a cool project.

What's in your fridge

The bartender's is the best, IMO....

Behind The Story

I'll be on Behind the Story on CTS at 7pm tonight, if you're so inclined...

"Dr. Livingroom, I Presume?"

Excellent piece today in the Timesonline from AA Gill.

While it's his restaurant reviews that I usually link, he's a brilliant writer in many forums. He's a member of the Royal Geographical Society in England, and periodically writes of his time spent in the musty midst of something people think disappeared long ago.

Their latest meeting was to take a very important vote: historically, the Society has funded and promoted discovery around the world. Expeditions. I love that word. How much promise is buried in there?

"We can no longer go to other people's countries, stab a flag into something that was never lost and rename it after a member of the royal family." Well, yeah, it's sounds a little unappealing when you put it that way. But to literally decide no more anything as a way of moving forward?

I want people to go on adventures and discover new things. I want them to take me with them, but, well, that's unlikely to happen. But I still want them to go. Read the piece - it's terrific.

May 23, 2009

Can I Help The Next Person Please?

A New Zealand couple applied for a bank overdraft of $NZ10,000. That's about the same in CDN loonies. Anyway, the bank of course gave it to them, and helpfully added three zeros to the amount. Do your happy dance! Instant millionaires!

Depending on how the planets align, you can expect several different outcomes, I'm thinking. Standing at the insta teller, staring at the wee bit of paper with the balance amount running off the page, you charge into the bank, approach the teller and murmur "I think there's been a mistake." That'd be me. And most of you. Or maybe you're door number 2. Go home, dream a little dream, smile like a fool, go back in the morning and let them know. Okay, maybe you wait to see when they catch it. Ten mill is a lot; it'd be like someone taking one of my boys - eventually I'd notice, if only because there was food in the fridge.

But then, there's always that infinitesimal chance it happens to a guy like Leo Gao. You all know Leo. Well, you certainly know a Leo-like person. Gonna get rich, just watch, keep watching, keep watching, whaddya mean I'm getting a little old for this? Whaddya mean my ideas are drawing flies and I'm the only one who can see? It's a guaranteed hit! I'm gonna be rich!

Neighbours say Gao had long dreamed of being rich. Opening a gas station proved a tough go; an adjoining fish and chip shop (he was going to turn it into a Chinese fish and chip shop. What the hell is that?), but that didn't take. He owed money - dreamers seldom fly under their own pedal power. "Dreams of being rich" should be the number one red flag to any thinking person. His girlfriend, by all accounts, was an honest, beautiful girl. Well, okay, that was by her mother's account. But I'll bet my last buck she stuck by him because he'd weaved dreams of riches...gawd, chicks can be stupid.

They're on the run. He finally made his money. Interpol is chasing madly after them, though they're apparently running with family members. Yeah, that should speed things up and make it easier to hide. Cops aren't sure how they got the money out of the country ("it is likely that they thought taking it out from a cashpoint would attract comment" - I love this line. Imagine the guy ahead of you withdrawing several million dollars at an ATM), and have decided Gao had it transferred to an offshore account.

Now, explain this to me. Even if I had access to a bazillion dollars - how the hell do failed fish and chip shop owners know how to get an offshore account? "Hello, I'd like to set up an offshore account, here in this Offshore Account Store I noticed you run. I'd prefer the No Questions Asked account, the cheques with the sailboats - no, honey, we're not getting the teddybear ones - and my statements mailed to me."

Of course people are cheering them on, because after the bankers stole all your money, this is a fabulous way to get even. By cheering on some loser who is - wait for it - stealing more of your money.

May 18, 2009

Live @5:30 Monday

"The Real Reason He Didn't Call" or something like that.

What's the point of self-help dating books if women are the only ones who read them? Here's a thought: why not just be yourself, and meet someone who is doing the same. Might get rid of all those strangers people seem to keep waking up next to...

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

May 16, 2009

Fall Down Go Boom

Devastatingly honest piece from a NYT financial writer. About how he tanked his life with mortgage and credit card debt. Good thing he's written a book about it; not sure how he's going to be able to keep writing as an expert on the subject after the stuff he owns up to in here.

Wish my father had got to him years ago. Could have saved him a world of hurt.

A Porsche By Any Other Name

Some of you had started to believe I was lying about the Porsche stuff.

Ha. It's finally running today. Here's the link for all you cheap-os that don't want to pick up a copy of the Star (or steal one from a neighbouring table at Tim's later today), but the pics are worth it. There's a tryp-tich (sp?) of my face as I accelerated from zero to a billion miles an hour.

Awesome day. Awesome cars. Somebody has to do it...

May 15, 2009

Shut Up, Harper

I don't think it'll work this time. I really don't.

The goddamned Conservatives and their goddamned advertising is finally, I think, going to backfire.

I'm sick to death of their negative, vindictive attacks. I was always taught that bullies bully because they're resorting to the lowest form of force - they're scared and stupid. They attacked Chretien because he'd had a stroke and his mouth drooped - yeah, really classy, war room. They attacked Dion because his English wasn't perfect (in this country where we have to listen to 80% of the politicians murder French as they trudge through a speech as if they're wading in combat boots up a sewage canal. Come to think of it, that analogy is closer to the truth than I realized).

Now, they're attacking Ignatieff by calling him smart. Telling him to go back to Harvard. You know what? I remember a similar line of reasoning last year. Remember, it came out of the McCain camp in the U.S., accusing Obama of being an intellectual? I mean, how low can you go.

That was the final straw for me, in a time of many, many straws. Since when is being smart so bad? At least McCain was smart enough to retaliate. I mean, he pulled Sarah Palin onto the card, right?

Stephen Harper, you are a fool. Truly. You are so out of touch, I'm surprised your own mother hasn't given you a good swift boot up the arse. You are as remote as an iceberg, and about as warm. All your economic learnin' did exactly zero for your ability to predict the crash of the world's economy, and your people skills did less than zero in your ability to cobble a politically fractured nation together and have confidence that someone was steering the boat. The other parties have practically laid down every doofus move on the planet at your feet - really, total screw-ups left, right and centre - and still, I have no faith in you.

But, it is good to see you using party money to crap on others. I mean, it worked so well in the past, right? Such a fabulous example of the high road. And here's a whisper in your ear: we're sick of it. We're tired of negative. We have enough of it in our lives, on the news, in our homes. People are losing jobs, they're losing faith, and they're losing confidence. We're hunkering down, rediscovering the joy in small moments and yet, and yet, it's like the entire thing has eluded you. Business as usual for the conservatives - rage and pillage, tone deaf to a nation, indifferent to its people.

Smarten up. Every party is about 4 inches apart in policy and we're not stupid enough to believe otherwise. We can barely stand any of you, frankly, but when you act like the school bully we've only ever dreamed of getting even with, it gets easier to decide which box to tick.

Hateful garbage.

I Wish I Had A Guinea Pig

Nah, not the cute stinky little kind. A kid. A little kid. To perform behavioural experiments on.

Heinous, eh? Not really. You've no doubt seen documentary footage or news shows about teaching kids the advantages of delaying gratification. They put a kid in a room with a pile of M&Ms, and tell him he can have them all right away, or twice as many if he can wait 15 minutes. They leave the room; they then watch the kid twist into a pretzel trying to not eat the M&Ms.

This experiment was originally done over 40 years ago using a marshmallow. The New Yorker has an awesome piece on the the follow up, and the fascinating implications for research in this field. No, really. It has implications for all of us, and could lead to so many fabulous things if it could unravel the clues.

Apparently, the children who could delay - even at 4 years of age - have proven to go on to very different lives than those who could not. The ability to change your focus (from the marshmallow you are dying to eat) to a way to distract yourself so as to gain a bigger reward is a life lesson applied across the board. Scientists are chasing down the core group - seeing how careers panned out, family situations, everything.

Research like this holds out hope for many reasons, if you ask me. I'm sick of doping kids who don't act a certain way; if it is proven that we can 'nurture' to overcome 'nature', teach tools that will let every child succeed, it makes far more sense than punishing/restraining/doping the behaviour that contributes to non-achievement. Notice I didn't say failure; I still believe that success is different things for different people, and I refuse to categorize one person's idea of success as another's idea of failure. I think we could do with a few less captains of industry, and a few more artists.

They're currently looking at a far wider range of subjects. While it's tough to skirt so many factors when dealing with thousands of children, one fact will pop off the page at you: it becomes obvious that children can absolutely be taught how and why - but it must must must be reinforced at home. Teachers and parents both have a huge role in this, but think about it: instilling patterns and lessons that can be carried into all regions of your life. Not just expecting children to respond, but actually capitalizing on their huge capacity to think.

It's a long piece, and it's sunny out, and I'm sorry. But it really is good whether you have kids or not. Why? Because you were once a kid, and I'm betting you will see pieces of yourself in it. Clear 15 minutes and give it a read.

And I don't even like marshmallows.

May 12, 2009


I dropped some yogurt into my mouse.

Now my mouse isn't really working properly. Maggie the Cat did her best to lick all the yogurt out (she's a veritable public service where yogurt is concerned), but I'm thinking the yogurt is beating the cat and the mouse.

So now I need a new mouse. I hate that. I hate having to get used to a new anything. (*Note: Here is where Webgod Jeff will make some snide comment on the fact that I use the mouse upside down. He will intimate that I'm a freak. Do not pay any attention to him - he knows not of what he speaks. Well, in a way he does. I do use the mouse upside down. And I am a little freakish. Forget it.)

I am a creature of habit, and switching things out on me always leads to tears and consternation. Whenever I have to get a new computer, I have to lie on the couch with a cool cloth on my forehead for days.

It's probably just a sign that I should be outside doing outside work. We had one of those huge bags of dirt plunked out front. I forgot they were coming, so when the guy knocked on the door, he already had the forklift ready to go. You're supposed to chalk an 'X' where you want the bag. I hadn't done that. We also have a cable line that runs really low over the driveway, so we have to use a hockey stick to lift it up whenever a high truck tries to get in the driveway. We had to do that last year with the motorhome - and then remember to lift it up again when you pull it out. Yeah, that can be troublesome. Remembering to lift if up again.

Anyway, the Poor Sod was on tippy toes lifting the wire, and the forklift guy was waving at me telling me to make up my mind, and all I could hear was the beeeeng beeeeng beeeeeeng noise of the forklift, and I pointed to the bottom of the front steps.

And so he put it there. We can't get down the front steps without doing this little waltz around this humongous bag of dirt. And it's still there, because I haven't trolleyed it around to the back, one wheelbarrow load at a time. Like I promised I would when I told the guy to put it at the bottom of the steps.

Forklift Guy trundled on down the street ('beeeng beeeeng, beeeeng'), Poor Sod gently let the cable down and put the hockey stick away, and I stared at a billion square feet of dirt. The kids caught me pulling on one of the handles. They laughed.

They will laugh until this weekend, when they will be handed shovels. Then, they will cry.

At least I'll forget about my yogurt infused mouse for awhile.

May 9, 2009


So, just how tired can someone get, and still hide out in the general masses, with their zombieness more or less undetected?

It's not that I'm a real danger to anyone; it's just that I go through phases where sleep is both the seductress and the enemy. I crave her and I chase her, but even when I hold her in my exhausted arms for 8 hours, I walk through my day only wanting more. If I wander through my room to perhaps put away laundry or chase a black cat off my white bathrobe, I can hear her whispering from the rumpled bed.

I dropped Ari off at school the other day. A small lad was walking down the sidewalk, awkwardly holding his heavy backpack. "Awww," I thought to myself. "That poor little guy only has one arm." No, his other arm behind his back, reaching for a strap. But I believed 'he only has one arm' was a sensible assumption to seize upon first.

I drove another two blocks, and saw an older sedan parked outside of a home. A man was sitting in the front seat. I looped around and crawled slowly by, writing down the licence plate number and the make and model of the car. I even wrote the colour - baby poo brown - and carried on. I was worried this information might prove to be important if I had happened across a crime about to happen. The next day, the car was there again, with the other painters who were working on the house. This is my brain: making pedophiles out of painters and ripping the limbs off of children.

I am misreading things. As I type this, is scheduling an outrage at 2:00AM on Monday. Wait, make that an outage. I keep hearing commercials for screaming videos on websites. Okay, streaming videos.

We were watching the Magnificent Seven last night. I was so absorbed in staring at Yul Brynner's butt (and Steve McQueen's, and well, everyone), that the phone rang and rang and rang. And I believed it was a phone ringing in the movie. That takes place in the middle of a small Mexican farming village in the middle of the last century. "Do you know that is Charles Bronson?" I asked the Poor Sod. "Yeah, you already said that. Twice."

I'm going for a nap. I really like the Dear Me letters in the last blog entry. Thanks, guys.

May 6, 2009

Dear 16-Year-Old Me....

Now here is an exercise we should all try. Write a letter to your 16-year-old self. The linked responses are wonderful.

Start yours, I'll do mine tomorrow. You guys get to do your anonymously...I'm not so lucky :)

Off to play with Harley-Davidsons. Pray for me.

Edit: Here's my Letter to Me:

It became 1980 last week, and you really need to lose the leg warmers and the side ponytail. These pictures are gonna embarrass you, though not half so much as the towering bangs that you will, for some reason, cling to for another four years like a life raft.

As others have noted, quit bitching about your body. It's as good as it's going to get - clothe it better, show it to a few more people, and quit fussing.

It's going to take another 24 years for you to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. Really. I'd tell you to dodge the marriage, but the kids are too damned wonderful.

You are about to lose someone you love, suddenly and tragically. The blow will level you, but it will also define you. Never take another precious person in your life for granted.

Spend the time listening to Dad. You will ache to talk to him when he's gone, and while he's annoying as hell, he's also right. Pay attention.

Make room for being different than Mom. She loves you, and while she doesn't always understand you, that love is real. Your life is not her life - you both will have to realize that to appreciate each other.

Stop being scared. Start taking risks earlier. Don't worry so much if people don't like you; there will always be someone who doesn't, so quit chasing your tail trying to please everyone.

Learn this early: People who try to take you down are rabidly insecure, and doing battle with their own demons, not you. There is enough glory for everyone, and sharing it is makes you stronger, it never diminishes you.

You're going to meet a professor at Mac who will change your life. Treasure him. Find Arlene sooner, you're going to the finish line with her. These teachers are gifts.

I won't tell you about the hurricanes you are going to withstand, only that you can and will. Amidst the rubble are so many gems it's worth the hell.

You can count on Roz and Gilly. Truly. Don't even spend a moment doubting it.

You will be betrayed. Don't waste a moment disbelieving it, just move on and cut the line. You will have a group of loyal and wonderful people around you who will stun you with their loyalty and dedication.

You aren't going to be a lawyer; you are going to have 2 sons. I know, I know. I can hardly believe it either. Those boys will change you to your core - you have no idea how blessed you are about to become.

Floss more.

Never, ever eat something they're going to invent called Smart Food popcorn. It's deadly addictive - don't even start.

Let go of your crush on Rod Stewart. Everyone will be laughing at you. Go find a guy named Bill Gates instead.

Never live without a cat.

Start keeping a journal.

Listen more; talk less.

Good luck with that last one.

May 2, 2009

What An Honour

Carnegie Hall's Medal of Excellence.

Now, doesn't that sound important? Doesn't that sound like something that might be a rather large plum on your resume of both professional achievements and private aren't-I-fabulous? moments? I can imagine the call. Well, actually I can't, but I'll pretend.

"Ms. Amazing, you have been chosen by our esteemed board to receive the coveted, famous Medal of Excellence in recognition for your brilliant work in your Very Important Field, for your generous contributions to our community in your never-ending quest to make the world a better place for your fellow man."

Except, read this. It's a bunch of hooey. They aren't even giving the award this year, because apparently, to win it, you are expected to shake down all your associates and friends to raise money. They're supposed to buy tickets and tables for thousands of dollars - you are 'nominated' to win if you have enough cash.

And, this year, nobody has any money. Nobody has a long, long list of targets they can call and lean on for donations. Survival of the flushest has been flushed. What a bunch of nonsense. Where I come from, the word that describes this kind of practice starts with 'circle' and ends with 'jerk'.

I only clicked on the link because it's about awards and banquets. I'm going to one tonight. The Ontario Newspaper Awards are having their annual shindig in Kitchener. I'm nominated for Columnist of the Year. I doubt I'll win, but with the industry approaching tatters you never now if you're at the last one of these.

We don't have to provide donations from our friends. Good thing. We're only required to show up scrubbed up and using our party manners, for the first half hour anyway. Where there's a bar and journalists, there is little point in requesting much else. No, I didn't buy a snazzy new dress. Nobody cares, unless you're the chick dancing on the table. There's always one. No, never been me.

But if I catch wind that this in indeed the last hoe down, you never know. I said 'hoe' down, so hush.

May 1, 2009

CH Live@5:30 Friday

No limos for high school grads?

Maybe we've finally found the silver lining to this recession, after all.

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