December 31, 2010


CHCH Square Off @5:30

Really have to get used to the new name...heh.

Join us for a look ahead at Canada's - and your household's - economy to come in 2011, and find out if New Year's Eve is an expensive racket, or just a great excuse for a party.

Happy New Year everyone - stay safe.

December 30, 2010


Adieu, 2010

Tomorrow will be busy (I'm co-hosting Square Off on CHCH again) so I'll muse a little here on the rear end of 2010.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who said the next person who said something like "don't let the old year slap its ass on the door on the way out" would get smacked. As she so succinctly put it, "every year is hard; get used to real life". She's right, of course. It's easy to look back and dwell on a series of negatives, or highlight only the good stuff, but every year is a reflection of our world, and a microcosm of our life. Good events and bad ones often go hand in hand. If something sad has led you to introspection, or growth, or a new sense of empathy, well, there ya go. Good thing. I think we should only be allowed to grade the year after a certain length of time has past. Say, ten years. Perspective is a good thing.

I remember 1977 as sucking particularly hard, because I got my braces on. In retrospect? Not such a big deal. I shouldn't have taken my word for it. Ditto for things like divorces or hard pregnancies or being fired from jobs. Close up - bad bad bad. Looking back? Totally worth it, and often a blessing in disguise.

I read this morning that Windsor, Ontario is tiptoeing to the end of the year with nary a murder. That's awesome news: if you write auto stuff, you start out each year in Detroit - and we stay in Windsor. It's reassuring to trudge into that wintry, cold town and know they've managed not to kill each other for an entire year. It's also a good thing to hope they don't start out 2011 by being peeved at a bunch of invading auto journalists.

I don't make New Year's resolutions. They're pointless for someone who starts out each morning swearing off cheese, and then is eating it by 9am. I think if you know you should change something, you don't need a miraculous turn of the calendar to do it. You just do it, right now.

My kids are still getting dressed each morning off their 'Santa' chair in the living room; socks and undies and new hoodies artfully arranged, and two boys ambling down each morning and selecting something to wear. My living room looks like a dressing room in a Gap store after a midnight madness sale. It loses a little of the festive charm when the cats are chasing Fruit of the Loom packages across the kitchen floor.

About the only thing I do consider this time of year is if we've skidded into home plate intact. We don't do over the top Christmas (except for all those new Fruit of the Looms), and there is a relative welcome calm in that. There are always changes, but if you're smart, you'll just lay the table for one more and make it work. That was my Mom's expression. She may have said it about dinner, but she also said it about life. Mom was a good adapter. I think she recognized the futility of believing you could stop the world.

2010 has been good, bad and everything in between. I carry my sons' pains and triumphs along with my own, and hope as a country, as a world, enough of us wish for the same things and make them happen. I wish we were smarter, because most of us are capable of it. I wish we were kinder, because we wear it well. And I wish we were inspired, because we desperately need to see inspiration in our leadership, our dreams and ourselves. I'm tired of picking the carcass of yesterday.

I plan on living 2011 from the inside out. Force of nature, force of nurture - just a force. We can all be that.

If we're healthy, we're wealthy, and if we know that, we're wise.

Especially if I can stop eating cheese.

December 27, 2010


Live@5:30 Monday NOW CALLED SQUARE OFF!

Co-hosting SQUARE OFF today, will learn about what when I get to the studio.

Though I guarantee it will be mahvelous, so do tune in.

SQUARE OFF at 5:30pm.

I learned today it is now called Square Off, hence the yelling. And it's not repeated at 11:30 anymore, so forget thinking you can delay it. Go watch now.

December 24, 2010


Ho Ho Horoscopes - December 24

Though fueled by little sleep, I am happy to report that I was up early and out gathering worms for my family's Christmas feast. The meat guy at Sobeys got all cute and pretended he couldn't find my ordered turkey. I almost got even cuter by smacking him in the chops, but decided that would make angels cry or something. He giggled at his own joke, invited himself for Christmas dinner, and is no doubt now staring at the fake address I gave him. Save the humour till I'm knee deep in the Pinot, Chuckles. Speaking of clowns, this weekend's horoscopes, roundabouty from Jonathon Cainer (and me):

Capricorn: Did you know that in the olden days Santa smoked? As JC reminds me that this totally politically incorrect part of the classic old dude's behaviour has been airbrushed out, that means Christmas is a time to do bad things. I'm sure that's not what he meant. But I'm totally sure that's how I'm going to interpret it. Capricorn, if Santa can smoke a pipe, you can do anything you want.

Scorpio: There are reindeer on your roof. Oh wait, I just read these in the proper order. He's doing the night before Christmas poem, which of course doesn't work in Random Lorraine World. Scorpio, you hear prancing on your roof. This of course means something is trying to get into your life. While my go-to guess would be squirrels in the attic, for the sake of holiday magic we'll go with reindeer. He wants you to let the reindeer in, but the slam the door fast because there is bad stuff coming after the reindeer. Probably Billy Bob Thornton Bad Santa, which cracked me up. Sorry. Don't let BBT in. Send him here.

Leo: A tiny, tiny light can light up a big, big dark. This weekend, you can be that tiny, tiny light. You can be brilliant. Like a political slogan, yes you can! I think the point is that a little goes a long way - something I should have kept in mind before I just ate two huge mincemeat tarts. Basically Leo, you should be nice to people in that quiet way of yours, and you will be wonderful and sparkly. There are no Leos in my family. We could use some wonderful and spark. Dinner's at 7.

Virgo: The line from Twas The Night Before Christmas that this whole craziness is based on delivers the 'eight tiny reindeer' to you, Virgo. If you see flying livestock, you are probably drunk. The point is, you may, apparently, be seeing many wonderful things this weekend. You're supposed to believe in them and trust them and be glad that something decent is finally about to happen. This may translate into no ugly sweaters, no fruitcakes, no bad underwear and no Aqua Velva or Britny Spears' Eau de Trailer.

Sagittarius: Buncha crap about Santa may not be real, but the spirit of Santa is real. And also, Sagittarius, he is encouraging you to meddle this weekend if you know your meddling will result in something positive. Let me tell you, my lovely sister Roz (my Sagitarius), if you meddle at this house I will smack you. There will be no meddling. Which means with a little luck, there will be no smacking. The only way I will permit you to be one of 'Santa's helpers' (his line) is to perhaps refill my wine.

Aries: With the opening line of the poem supposed to be here, we get to ponder no stirring creatures; if you are making a martini, I recommend you keep stirring, however. In the midst of all the crazy, Aries, you should find a moment of peace. It is apparently going to be transcendent, so get ready. Within that little moment, you are going to sense that a higher power really is at work, and this will inspire you. It could also mean that you hooked the cables up right.

Taurus
: Something this weekend will happen that let's you believe in magic again, Taurus. Maybe Uncle Edgar won't get as drunk. Maybe you won't forget the squash in the microwave and the buns in the oven like that year you got drunk before dinner (I'm looking at you, Mom). Even though you've conditioned yourself not to expect anything, ever ('no, really, I don't want anything!'), you should. Expect good things, and you will get good things. I would like to team up with a Taurus this weekend. You get to expect good things, and I get to do bad ones. High fives a Taurus.

Cancer: Oh, you get the 'clatter' line of the poem. I love that word. It sounds so....noisy. You can expect some drama this weekend, Cancer. It might be noisy but it doesn't have to lead to trauma. Actually, he says that it could be 'a catalyst for a much needed healing experience'. Oh geez. This can only mean one thing: someone is going to use the family gathered at Christmas to stage an intervention. Let me know how that goes.

Aquarius: You're to imagine what it would be like if you really saw Santa, Aquarius. Not the grubby pee-smelling guy at the mall, but the real Santa. 'Might you be touched by the amazing spirit of a legend'? I might be, if it was Elvis. Or Johnny Cash. Or Robert Duvall. You know. Real legends. But I guess Santa is good enough. You're being promised the possibility of something wonderful. Let me know if Elvis shows up.

Pisces: For you, Santa flies on through the night, and with it all the magic you managed to muster up for Christmas. Look around - not at the balled up paper the dog is slobbering on, not your son digging through the trash for the gift card he accidentally threw out, not your mother-in-law taking all the white meat as leftovers - no, look past that and imagine inserting this magic into the whole year. Good luck with that. Everyone just blew through a month's income in 2 days, and you're supposed to sustain this how?

Libra: He lists off the reindeer names. I always forget that Donner is really Donder. Anyway. Some crankiness that 'experts' (his air quotes) tell us not to believe in love, beauty, human good nature and astrology, and this gets him all cranky. I need to tell him that reading his stuff doesn't make me doubt love, beauty, or human good nature - but seriously? He's made me stop believing in astrology. Libra, he says you will be vindicated this weekend in some weird belief you have. If you see flying reindeer let me know. I'll believe in a reindeer's ability to fly more than I'll believe in JC's ability to do astrology.

Gemini: He questions what sugar plums are, and for once, I agree. What the hell is a sugar plum? Don't tell me. I don't care all that much. I'm too full of mincemeat. Gemini, like all little kids who are dreaming of stuff tonight (and yes, I get how politically incorrect this all is. But I've yet to meet a kid of any colour or nationality who didn't get a little Santa fever, with or without their parent's knowledge or blessing), you are supposed to remember a dream you gave up on as a kid. Maybe you wanted a pony (you're not getting one); maybe you wanted Daddy to come home (no clue); maybe you wanted a Big Wheel (totally cool request. I wanted one too). This Christmas might return a little of that hope to you. Go outside. There's a Big Wheel.

Merry Christmas, you stroppy lot. If you don't do Christmas, Merry Whatsmus, to quote my friend Sarah. Be nice to each other, don't drive drunk, give a little shout out to people who might be facing a tough season, and find joy in the little moments.

In the end, they're all little moments.

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December 23, 2010


Festive Christmas Rant

Sooooooooo many letters to the editors of several papers filled with the usual outrage this time of year about how we are having our Christian rights trampled over because people don't say 'Merry Christmas'.

Would you give it a rest, people? There is a particularly vitriolic number in the Star. She goes so far as to declare that Canada has become anti-Christian. Bah. Choose your words more carefully. It's not anti- anything, it's simply non. Yeah, that's right. Government is not in the business of pushing a religious agenda of any kind, or at least it shouldn't be. The word usage here smacked me as very much the same as when pro-lifers use the term 'pro-abortion'. See how that works? It's a wicked slant off the deep end, and totally unnecessary.

I don't give a rat's ass if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, or tells me to have a nice holiday, or says thank you for choosing Rogers. I don't know if they mean any of it, and I don't much care. Anything pleasant is fine by me. As long as people are smiling at me and being helpful and generous without fondling any of my body parts without my consent, I'm good.

I do take huge offence to those who take huge offence. Decorate your house any way you choose, buy your spawn anything you want and pass around the icky fruitcake. Not to sound like a petulant 8 year old, but it's a free country. Literally. You are free to festoon your home in 6,000 twinkle lights and clog all traffic on your street for a month each year. You are free to accuse those who might sigh and object as having no Christmas spirit.

You are free stand ahead of me in the line up at Zellers yesterday (I was buying the game Operation to play after Christmas dinner; I figure with sober children and drunk adults, it's a game we can all play on a level playing field) and just as we inch towards the lone checkout, you are free to have your mother step in with her arms laden with a huge assortment of ugly sweaters, pajamas, candy and other rubbish. You may piss me off, but you are free to do this.

You are free to park in the spot that isn't a spot; you are free to stalk me back to my car like I am a gazelle and you are a lion; you are free to blow cigarette smoke in my face as you huddle outside the mall waiting for whoever is inside buying ugly sweaters and other rubbish.

I think you should save your righteous outrage for more sensible things. Why do companies that I pay send me Christmas cards? It is not personal, it is a waste of money, and I put them straight into the blue bin.

Why do the Tories keep slashing funding to groups that help women in this country? Why is that okay? If there is duplication, clean it up, but it's certainly not very Christian, if you ask me, to stomp on people while they are down. Oh, you didn't ask? Maybe you should. Those fabulous officials spend the earlier part of this month dickering over who got the bigger Christmas tree in their office. Your tax dollars, hard at work.

I have never, ever heard, in decades on this planet, someone take offence to being wished a Merry Christmas. I worked retail for ten long years - not once did anyone haul back and crack me one across the snotbox for saying 'Merry Christmas' or 'Happy Holidays' (thanks, jmd=).

Our intrepid Star letter writer equates the persecution of Christians around the world to the fact we can't say Merry Christmas. Really? With a reach like that, you must have not trouble getting the star on top of your tree. People have been persecuted, murdered, tortured, raped, pillaged and destroyed in the name of religion - all of them - since there have been people. And you're peeved that your favourite television station flashes a generic Happy Holidays rather than the Merry Christmas that your hard little heart is aching to see?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: do what you want. Tattoo 'Merry Christmas' on your butt and run naked down your street if you want. With the megawatt showcase occurring on some city streets, you probably won't even get noticed.

Canada's churches are proclaiming a steady drop in numbers, which makes me question the chronic seasonal outrage. Maybe, just maybe, there is a bigger line up for Santa's knee because people are making their own choice. Maybe, just maybe, people will define this time of year any way they choose, and believe you have the right to do the same.

Merry Christmas. May your days be merry and bright, and may your hangover not last longer than the visit from your inlaws.

Oh, just read this on Slate. Good piece that examines why North Americans aren't nearly as religious as they self-report themselves to be. Canadians and Americans are called 'outliers' in their declaration of faith; I'm thinking 'outliars' might be the more appropriate term....

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December 22, 2010


Kenny Loggins and Baby Jesus. Of Course.

More Hyperbole and a Half. This is so funny, if you're at work, I'm warning you...

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December 21, 2010


More From the Christmas Vault...

Originally published Christmas 2007

On Christmas Day, 2001, a pact was made by three sisters. The three of us, Roz, Gillian and myself, though now middle-aged orphans, would continue to stoke the embers of traditions that we’d taken for granted all of our lives.

Every family has a holiday that glues them together; Christmas was ours. My mother would flip into festive mode weeks in advance, when the kitchen would be a whirl of planning and baking. She would spend a fortune on ingredients for fruitcake we all hated. In her big canning pot, she would mix pounds and pounds of fruit, liberally infused with a lot of booze, and anyone who walked through the door was instructed to give it a “stir and a wish”. I don’t really miss the eating, though I strongly miss the wishing.

She would ransack my father’s coin collection for quarters and dimes – 1967 and older. These silver pieces she could sterilize to hide in the Christmas pudding, the dessert we doused in custard and pushed around our plates hunting for the coins. My Dad would then corner each kid after dinner, take back the silver, and double our money in return. We were certain we were tricking him.

My mom’s recipes lay dormant for several years after her death. The family had shrunk, and nobody had the heart to resurrect something we convinced ourselves we didn’t need. It was Roz who finally started again, hauling Ari, now 16, into the kitchen to help. He was probably 7 or 8, and I realized my sister was giving my son what my mother had given me – tradition. You shouldn’t count calories and you can’t count love.

Every year a Terry’s Chocolate Orange appears somewhere in my gifts. Gilly has picked up where Mom left off, and she’s never missed a year. I buy the biggest turkey I can find, and take credit as Roz and Gilly prepare it. The same stockings are hung down the same banister. The same ornaments go up on the tree year after year, and I’ve noticed I do less of the storytelling behind each one– my sons have picked up the thread. Christopher, 19, has asked for a real tree, “like you used to have”. Every stocking gets an orange and a loonie in the toe – when I was young, it was a silver dollar – that was my father’s job, and now it is mine. And the boys toss the orange back into the fruit bowl, just like we used to.

As a child I would sit on my father’s shoulders to watch the Santa Claus parade every year, a mere block from our home. The last time he made it out to the street he pulled Christopher, just a baby, in his wagon. The last time he saw the parade was from our second story rec room window, peering through the leafless trees. I don’t go to the parade most years; some traditions are harder to revisit than others.

I can make this kitchen smell like Mom is here, but I can’t hear her singing anymore. I can’t hear the rhythmic clink of her bracelet against her watch as she works the rolling pin. I can’t see her corny Christmas apron. And I’ll never hear her tell me to have a “stir and a wish”. I can only understand, finally, that my parents too had ghosts around them at this time of year, but they artfully wove the past into the present to lend something so important to the future.

You have to become the things you are missing, or risk losing them forever.

December 20, 2010


The Drive Home With the Tree

This was first published Christmas, 2007.


"When I grow up, I'm gonna be so rich I'll be able to just buy the best Christmas tree there is," I fumed, trudging along in snow past my knees, futilely trying to match my father's determined strides.

It was a week before Christmas, 1971. As a 7-year-old, it seemed like we had driven for hours for the annual torture of selecting the perfect Balsam Fir. The parking lot had been crowded with families perfectly content to select from the precut trees neatly stacked around the fence of the farm.

My father stood at the back of our station wagon, patiently pulling out yards of yellow rope, the toboggan, his medium bow saw (he had three – I was born knowing this), and an axe.

I was already cold. Snow and wind were met with wool. My hand-me-down red plaid coat had large buttons up the front where the wind crept in. My mother had buttoned my cardigan in the back, and I had on two layers of her hand-knitted mittens and my matching pompom hat. My little sister would get to ride on the toboggan until we found the tree, so I'd whined for – and won – the coveted red mittens.

I was thoroughly jealous of my best friend. Her family had a Volkswagen Beetle, and they just pulled their Christmas tree from the crawl space in their basement every year. My father insisted on buying cars so big just so we could do things like carry Christmas trees on them.

Our neighbours got a new car every year, because they knew someone "in the business." All that meant to me was we had to keep having the same old car every year, while everyone around us got better ones. Our 1966 Rambler station wagon was beginning to get harder and harder to start on cold mornings. My father would pet the dash of his Betsy, muck with the pedals, and it would whistle to life.

As always, my father took the path less travelled, and we headed out through unbroken snow. Chugging along, out of breath, with snow pouring into my red boots with the gold buckle (you wore them over your shoes, which meant whenever you arrived at your destination, your shoes were wet as well), I asked questions. What kind of bird is that? What are those tracks? Will we see a fox again?

My father knew everything about farms and forests. He'd been born on the prairies, and later in life traded open fields for deep forests. I'd once seen where he was born, a shack with a dirt floor. This knowledge was breathtaking; it caused one of the only silences between us that I could remember, and I grew up unable to grasp how little he'd been born into, and he rarely found the words to tell me more.

"Why can't we get one of those fat Christmas trees?" I panted. I didn't like the short needled fir trees he insisted on. Their branches were too sparse for my sense of Christmas splendour, and my mother's beautiful ornaments, brought all the way from England, seemed unable to overcome the gaps.

"There is only one proper German Christmas tree," he replied. I wasn't sure why this mattered. I didn't feel particularly German, especially at Christmas.

My mother's traditions overflowed our home, and the smells and sights were as British as the woman imbuing them in her children. With my mother trailing far behind, hauling my sister on the wooden sleigh, my father abruptly stopped and turned to me. Leaving the bow saw looped over his shoulder, he leaned on the axe and stared at me.

"No matter how poor we were, we had a tree. My mother saw to that," he told me. Before I could get a word out of my unhinged mouth, he'd spun around and kept walking. My father had lost his mother when he was 12. Barely a year later, he had been thrust into the world on his own. He never spoke of this. All I knew then was that there were few, if any, presents under any of those trees.

What I didn't understand until much later was that there are seldom any traditions a 13-year-old boy can bring with him, including precious ornaments. This tree was all he had for me, and I was complaining that the wind was chapping my face.

Nearly an hour into the middle of the silent forest, we found the perfect tree. My sister and I each got to walk around surveying it, my mother just nodding in frosty agreement to try and speed things along. It would be her who would be trying to rub some warmth back into our feet when we finally returned to the car.

I got to help dig out the snow around the trunk, and once he got the saw started I would be permitted to give it a tug or two. Holding a branch, I helped pull the tree along, until my mother suggested I walk with her to speed things up. My mittens were wet from digging, but I knew the trip back would always be faster than the one that had had no clear destination.

Back at the lot, I watched people settling for the smaller trees that their smaller cars could accommodate. The tip of our tree extended over the hood; my father began a cat's cradle of rope configurations to hold it on, and I stared at the raw wound of the freshly cut stump.

His devotion to station wagons was a joke among my father's friends. They laughed at his refusal to waste a nickel on luxuries like fancy trim, air conditioning or power windows. He would drive a car until it owed him nothing, and even then he would cannibalize it, demanding new life from its old parts. At our cottage, the towel rack in the hallway is the grab bar from behind the back seat of that '66 Rambler.

He required his cars to be workhorses; we would get our cottage the following year, and I remember getting stuck going down roads that weren't roads yet. He would haul wood and pull stumps with that fading Rambler, its three-in-the-tree transmission wheezing and shuddering. My mother would wince, my father would ignore her and carry on. That car wasn't just owned by my father; that car was my father.

As I pestered him to let me help, he secured the tree to the car. One end of the rope disappeared under the front hood somewhere and the rest was knotted through the roof racks in an intricate series of loops. Again I asked for a job. He looked at me with some consideration, and then said he needed me to hold onto the end of the rope from the back seat.

I liked this very much. In the summer I loved going to the lumber store, and holding the end of the rope. Except this wasn't summer, and after a few minutes of driving on the road, sitting on my knees beside an open window, the idea was losing a little of its charm.

Terrified of letting my father down, or worse yet, admitting I couldn't do something, I held that rope in my wet red mitten. With my other hand, I tried to wind the window up a little more, but only managed to nudge the plastic core piece out of its arm. The piece had been loose for years, but we got in trouble for playing with it. Now, it sat on the floor, and to reach it I would have to let go of the rope. And if I let go of the rope, our perfect Christmas tree would fly from the roof racks.

Thinking my hand might be warmer if I pulled off the wet red mitten, I slowly inched it off while still clinging to the rope. As the red mitten sailed out the window, I realized I would now have a new problem; I was forever losing mittens, and my mother was forever knitting to replace them.

All the way home I held that rope. I switched hands, I shifted positions, but I held tight. I would be like that tree, like this car. I would not let him down. Shivering as we pulled into the driveway, I finally relaxed. My father came around to my side and started the unknotting. As I scrambled out of the car, he patted me on the head.

"You did good, kid," he smiled.

I will never be rich enough to afford a tree like the one my father cut for us that year.

December 17, 2010


Weekend Horoscopes - December 17

Once again, in no predictable order, the astrological stylings of Johnathon Cainer, as interpreted by moi. Once again, their random order totally reflects the fact that they make no sense. Well, mine make sense. I think he takes one of those fridge magnet poetry kits and trips while carrying the box.

Capricorn: Oh, for the luv of Mike. Capricorns are supposed to work a miracle this weekend. I (I say 'I' because I am a Capricorn, and pretty much the only one I know or care about) am supposed to heal wounds and defuse tense situations. Let me tell you how I am going to achieve that: 5 teenage girls are gonna be making gingerbread houses in my dining room. If I don't kill them in a fit of festive wine-induced icing sugar mania, the miracle will be that we all survive.

Leo: He gives a plug for a book about living your life, no doubt written by some friend of his. Writers all do that. When I have a book, there will be payback. Anyway, he babbles about babies not coming with instructions, and how Leo doesn't get an instruction book either. I say if you're not crapping in your pants and crying cuz you dropped your nuk nuk over the side of your playpen, you're doing okay.

Taurus
: Much babble about Santa having come early, but left - I kid you not - a pile of reindeer sh*t instead of a gift. Taurus can be reassured, however, that the festive spirit will soon take hold and all the bad will go away and you will soon be spinning around a Swiss Alp like Julie Andrews singing that the hills are alive. I made that last part up. Not the 'things getting better' part. The Julie Andrews part.

Sagittarius: No slave to fashion, you, Sagittarius. Nope. You buy what you like and trends and fads be damned. This is admirable. It also means you are one tiny phone call away from Stacy and Clinton showing up on your front step. But we are told you still read all the flyers and still ponder those trends you abhor; this weekend you must fake enthusiasm. Awesome. Wearing a ratty old bathrobe, you get to tell the love of your life of course it was good for you.

Scorpio: Hmmm. You don't need the constant reassurance of others. You don't care if people tell you how great you are. You can't be bothered to argue; others can think whatever they want. You actually just want to achieve 'harmony' for everyone, and by staying calm you are prepared to achieve this. I can tell you one thing for sure: you are not a Capricorn.

Virgo: He starts out with a rather random comment that some parts of your body you can cut off and they grow back. He means things like hair and nails, but of course I instantly twitch and think about things like feet and ears. But I am to tell you that your heart can heal. Not if it's cut out and thrown on the floor, mind you, but if some ass made you love him, sponged off you for two years, took credit for all the gifts you gave his mother and spent all your money on pot because it helped him with his 'music' - yeah, apparently that can heal. He's actually saying this can heal. Bah. I say heal by moving on. Your call.

Cancer: He's playing Brave New World for you, Cancer. Not the book, thank god. I hate science fiction. But he's basically telling you that you can take this time to start over. Or not. This man is infuriating. Let's ignore him, shall we? I say if the past year has been ruttish, or frustrating, change something. And you know exactly what I'm talking about. Change that. Life's too short. I'm so much more helpful.

Gemini: Oh. You have a 'get out of jail free' card this weekend. I love this concept. Always have. Don't waste it though, because this doesn't mean you have endless opportunities to be an idiot. Well, you probably do, but consider you will only be forgiven for one of them. This means if you drink too much, make a pass at the married neighbour, don't hold the door at the mall, take the last parking spot, hide when the paperkid rings the bell for his Christmas tip or only flip on your windshield wipers to clear the snow from your car, you will only be forgiven for one of them. But I will never, ever forgive you for the last one.

Pisces: Some nonsense about tinned soup only being bad if you don't have a can opener. This guy s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s this analogy out like a bad sweater to mean that you can pierce anyone's protective shield to find out all you need to know. Allow me to tell you something, for free: if you work and fidget and noodle around trying to get someone to open up, you usually end up really, really wishing you hadn't bothered.

Aquarius: Apparently yesterday he told you to pay attention to the facts. We don't know this, because we didn't read it. Anyway, today he's telling Aquarius to hold on to your dream (I now have that song playing in my head) because you might, possibly, maybe find a way to make a little bit of it come true. Lorraine here: those odds suck. Work your butt off for awhile and get a new dream.

Aries: You can do something really small this weekend and make someone really, really happy. And if they're happy, you can get stuff out of them. He says it so it doesn't sound like that, but who are we kidding? Apparently this weekend there is some huge project you are contemplating. Something that usually makes you pissypants. But you should just haul out all your charm and it will be easy. I guess that's the part where you get other people to do things for you.

Libra: First, he quotes from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I didn't know the words were 'plasticine porters', so I am happy to now know that. You are encouraged to travel in your mind and be all dreamy. There is talk of the physical world versus your dream world, and how you should just embrace the bizarre bits. I think he's telling you to drop acid, frankly. I don't recommend it. There are already too many sparkly, shiny things all over the place. You'll probably just throw up on your winter boots.

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December 15, 2010


The Explainer is Back!

THIS is my favourite blog entry of the year. Every year, Slate runs a piece on all the questions they didn't answer in Daniel Engber's Explainer column. But they only do half the job: they tell you the questions. Lucky for you, I provide the answers.


1. Do passive-aggressive people know they are passive-aggressive? Also, how can you tell if you are passive-aggressive?

You can tell if you're passive aggressive if your daughter-in-law gets hives when you tell her the turkey looks wonderful, it's a shame it came out dry. You can tell you're passive aggressive if you tell your best friend she must be so happy she's lost weight. You can tell you're passive aggressive if you wait until your neighbour has the family over for a BBQ to start your leaf blower.

But no. You probably don't think you're passive aggressive, especially if you are. You've just been put on this planet as a little evil pilot light.

2. If the entire U.S. was put up for sale, including privately- and publicly-owned land, homes, structures, et al., what would be the total asking price on the open market? I know it's not a boom time to sell, but there may be a buyer lurking somewhere!

This is an awesome question. But because I'm sure there would be more than one person bidding on such a great showcase, I would suggest you let the other guy bid first, then say "Bob, I will bid one dollar". I've seen this work, a lot.


3. Are all languages equally lip-readable?

You know, you would totally think that they should be. The problem starts when people with no respect for any language just start throwing stuff around like confetti. Like 'refudiate' and 'misunderestimate'. Oh wait. That's just Republicanish. Nevermind.

4. Why are large, extensive tattoos always Asian-themed?

Seriously? You still wonder? It's so you can get a really cool tat that you tell people says 'power like dragon, fierce like flames', but it really says 'this will teach this giant arsehole to think Jackie Chan is the best we have to offer cinematography'.

5. I've always pondered why boys like having sticks. Whether it be walking down a hiking trail with a stick they picked up or running a stick across a white picket fence, boys (including me when I was small) seem to have a knack for having a stick. Is there some kind of explanation for this behavior? I hope you can answer this question for me and thanks.

It's a shame you've given up something you had such a knack for. I think you should go outside and wrestle the first small boy you see to the ground and grab his stick.

6. Do they have special spam filters at Pfizer?

No, no, their pfilters are the same as yours.

7. Why aren't bathtubs bigger? I can never fully fit in mine.

True story: bathtubs used to be way bigger in the olden days, but people kept bathing their horses in them. All that horse hair clogged the sewer system, so they asked people - nicely - to stop bathing their horses in the tub. Well, as you can imagine, people being people, they refused. Therefore, place like Rona and Home Hardware were instructed to stop selling large horse-sized tubs.


8. When did the slang word ho first appear? I ask because I think I invented it around 1986-87 when I was in the fifth grade as a joke, but I continued to use it and it spread through my school and before long it was everywhere. It is possible that the term was coined earlier and I just hadn't heard it yet, but I can't seem to find any info to verify that.

First, it is totally unlikely that a word was coined earlier and you just hadn't heard it. Totally. Second, you need to call up Ross from Friends and ask him if he's got milk. Third, if you're going to lay claim to a word, is it really going to be 'ho'? Really? Are you insane?

9. Fall question: Is picking up leaves purely cosmetic?

Yes. It makes my ass smaller if I do yardwork.

10. Is it legal to booby trap my house?

Not only is it legal, it is recommended. You have no idea who is coming to get you in the night. Or the day. And even if you plug all the holes with steel wool and that spray in gloopy stuff that blocks leaks, you know that thought waves and unscented poison can still get in, right? So not only should you booby trap your home in all the usual ways, you should also be sure to string cheesecloth and no-pest strips everywhere, just to be safe.

11. Why do soup and other cans have ridges on the inside surface? The soup or other contents sticks to the ridges and prevents me from being as economical and environmentally virtuous as I would like to be.

I'm sorry. If you can't get every last bit of soup from the can, I will never sleep with you. I demand full virtue. Here. Have a spatula, you whiner.

12. Do real life experts of martial arts really have the capability of take on a dozen armed thugs and beat them black and blue—as seen in films?

Only if they have large, extensive Asian-themed tattoos.


13. My question was inspired by putting together prefab furniture. Phillips-head screws were invented in the 1930s, so why do people still use flat-head screws for anything? They suck, the screwdriver slips, I put a bunch of dents all over the place trying to use a drill, and I hate them. I can't find any reason why a company would still use them when we have something better.

Idiot. Robertson screws are the best. Phillips. Snort. But anyone who can't put together a POS from Ikea without denting it with a drill should just go to garage sales and buy someone else's already-assembled mistake.

14. If you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show or any of the other ones, all the handlers (and most of the judges) are fat. Why?

Show dogs must be kept out of direct light at all times. And come on. Do you realize how stupid those people would look walking their little poofy dogs around carrying an umbrella?

15. Why is hearing about other people's dreams so boring?

I'm sorry. What was that?

16. I work in an office with a large saltwater aquarium and I've noticed that certain fish seem to have areas of the tank that they frequent more than others. Do fish in captivity develop routines?

You have a job?

17. Avatar came out in 3-D at a lot of theaters. I saw an ad about the giant cats on TV with my cat on my lap and was wondering, do 3-D glasses work on cats?

This is a valid question. I think you should wait until your cat needs her nails clipped, don't feed her for a day or two, give her a bath then try to put the 3-D glasses on her. We'll wait.

18. Re: Will I die. Hi my name is [redacted] and I was sucking some helium today and I'm really nervous I did it at about 5:00 today and it's 12:00 I just prayed to god to keep me safe I felt my pulse on my wrist and it was normal I just was wondering if it will hurt my older life I am about 10 to 14 years of age.

The bad news is that first sign of Heliocide is forgetting how old you are. I'm so sorry. By the time you wake up tomorrow, you head will be swelled to three times its normal size, and your body will be 4 feet long be very skinny. Wait a few days and you will wake up on the floor.

19. Could mankind actually blow up the moon? Blast it with nuclear missiles until it was just rubble? What would happen to the Earth?

We have wars on all continents, people in latex gloves jamming their fingers up your butt in the name of airline safety, half the world starving to death while the other half is ordering their pre-fab meals from Jenny Craig to lose weight, and a Wal-Mart on every corner. And you're wondering how this is the upside to something?

20. I've heard that the color orange was named after the Dutch royal family (the House of Orange), who were named after the city of Orange in southern France. If this is true, then what was orange originally called?

I'm sorry. This is seriously the most stupid question, ever. And it's not even fun.

21. I can't recall ever seeing an athlete sneeze during competition, and neither can anyone I've asked. YouTube also offers no help. Is there any reason for this? I have trouble with the idea that people don't sneeze if they're intensely focused, given that for some athletes (even on the pro level) this isn't always the case.

Wow. Sometimes I waste hours on Youtube watching cat videos, but even I have never watched everything on Youtube. But let us ponder your question, by posing another question: while I once saw a power weightlifter pee (you can Youtube that yourself, Youtube Master), I don't think I've ever seen one fart. So, perhaps elite athletes really have conquered the spontaneous, combustible acts the rest of us can't even suppress in an elevator, let alone an Olympics.

22. How long can someone hang upside down without having serious medical problems?

Oh, wow. Batman has contacted the Explainer! But I were you, I'd seriously have used my one question to ask about Robin's sexual orientation.

23. Why don't airplane bathrooms have windows? I've always thought it would be nice to gaze off into the wild blue yonder while relieving myself at 30,000 feet. It wouldn't be a privacy risk, because there are no peeping toms to catch a glimpse of you at that height. Besides, if a lavatory window made bathroom-goers uncomfortable, it could include a movable window shade, just like all other airplane windows have.

You don't travel much, do you? Are you aware how ridiculous men already are in airplane washrooms? Have you ever been in a washroom after some guy was, and the announcement 'sorry about that turbulence, folks' came on? The only thing I can think of that would be worse than magazines in an airplane washroom would be a window. I suggest you concentrate. Better yet, I suggest you sit the hell down.

24. Are children naturally better spellers than adults? Or, is it that there's simply a lack of spelling bees for adults? In an all-ages spelling bee, would kids win?

It's actually a logistical problem. More adults have already learned to tell their overbearing, stage managing parents to go to hell. And without someone coercing you into reading dictionaries and wearing cardigans, who, I mean, really, who, would choose that on their own?

25. Can you tell me why old movies are so terribly inaccurate and when (if ever) did that change?

I know! I was sooooooooo happy when Avatar and Lord of the Rings came out. Finally some excellent films based on fact.

26. My question is, do blind people with seeing-eye dogs have to curb their dogs? To date, I have never seen a service dog doing his "business" in public. Are blind people allowed to have their animal defecate on public sidewalks with no penalty?

Actually, service dogs don't poop. They are like Santa Claus, Glinda the Good Witch and women on first dates.

27. I don't want to sound like I want to see this, but why are there no male "beauty pageants" like the Miss America pageant, and if so, why not on a large-scale basis like that pageant?

Oh, I'm sorry. You've been missing it! There are indeed male beauty pageant events held every year in nearly every town across the world. It's called the Fire Department. Hubba.

28. Is it true, as is often rumored, that intoxicated people are less likely to suffer serious injury from a fall or other accident because they are less likely to "tense up"?

Yes, this is true. It's why we encourage people to drink and drive. If you are drunk, you can safely deactivate your airbags and drive at night without your headlights on. You are surrounded by something called the Martini Miracle, and it will keep you safe from harm. 'Being tense' is for all those fools who worry about drunks on the road. Merry Christmas!

29. I was on the subway today and this question struck me: Why are old people always coughing?

They received word in their AARP newsletter that apparently, old people who were just falling asleep - just falling asleep! - were being carted away because people thought they were dead. So, AARP suggested they cough every once in awhile to let people know they were still alive.

30. If a person is allergic to cats (common housecat allergies) would he also be allergic to a lion?

The only way to test this is to do what I do with my cats, which is to let them nuzzle me under my chin when I'm in a good mood. You need to go to the biggest zoo in your area, and find the lion park. We have one near here that you drive through, which I recommend. They say not to put your windows down, but that's like telling people to pay attention when the airplane people tell you where your lifejacket is. Crank down the window, and yell 'here, kitty, kitty'. If you don't sneeze, you're not allergic. Or, a world class athlete.

31. mY MOM is 93, just diag.with pneumonia..day 2 of antibiotic by injection, they say they may have to asperate She right now, is unresponsive to me stares in space and appears yellow, in skin color If no improvement in few days hospitalize???

Is she coughing?

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Can You Tell I Finally Got My Speakers Hooked Up?

I declare this to be Video Wednesday. Until I have to go the mall later, and it will become Hell Wednesday.

Anyway. If you're a journo, or a journalism student, or want to learn all about the state of journalism today, go here.

Sadly funny, sadly true, but yeah, this is the conversation....


Hockey Players and Mariah

Ahh... this is an awesome way to start your day. A Northern Ireland hockey team singing to Mariah's Carey earworm, All I Want For Christmas.

These lads are seriously fun. And darling. They are just darling.

December 12, 2010


Rainy Sunday

Bah. Damned rain.

But forget that, and read Sarah's column today. Tell me this isn't every single photo you had taken as a kid. Unless you had a perfect childhood, in which case, why are you here amongst the rest of us?

More later.

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December 10, 2010


Weekend Horoscopes - December 10

Man, I'm doing these early. It's just after 7. And all for you, my sweetiehearts. I am out of here shortly to go see what Mazda has on offer for the coming year, then I shall be at the Toronto Motorcycle Show tonight - It's Ladies Night. Why? Why is a woman who cannot for the life of her get her motorcycle licence going to be at the show? Well, it's still a fun industry, especially the part where women are increasing their involvement, and apparently (I do not recall this part, Liz) I agreed to take part in an onstage something-or-other. Come on down. I'll be something-or-othering around 9pm.

As always, I will be basing my interpretive dance routines on the magic of noted astrologer and consummate bafflegabber, Jonathan Cainer. Those are the originals. Though mine are more fun. And probably more right.

Capricorn: There is talk of heedlessly throwing your worm into waters with no fish. This is an analogy for 'why are you wasting your time'. But wait, look over there. A huge fish. Waiting. Aha! You are not wasting your time! He actually says this weekend might bring you 'all the happiness you might wish for'. I mostly wish for wine and Christmas baking. Maybe I should broaden my scope. Maybe I should wish for my motorcycle licence.

Scorpio: Oh, I like Scorpio's. Sometimes you just have to trust that things you can't explain are the best to lead you. Guidance may come from places that are difficult to explain, but it's real. You are actually encouraged to let yourself be clueless, and time will provide all that you are looking for. You can call me if you like; I won't be busy - I'll just be fishing.

Leo: Oh, dear. Our esteemed Starman bungles into the territory of matter and anti-matter. Because he apparently poo-poos science, he's decided that anti-matter literally means 'doesn't matter'. Sigh. Ignore this. Let's instead consider more useful interpretations of things we don't understand, Leo. Let's consider the universe as a great balancing act - and whether you prefer things like yin and yang or teeter totters, appreciate that every action will produce a reaction - somewhere. Tread thoughtfully this weekend, or your actions may bite you in the butt.

Sagittarius: Some people are full of crap. They say what they think you want to hear, even though you can tell in a heartbeat they are idiots. While you can't control these delusional people (nor stop them from running for public office), you can make sure you aren't guilty of the same kind of thing. You know, hiding what you really mean from someone. Lying. Hahahahaa. I'm sorry. This is Roz and she can't lie if her life depended on it.

Aries: Much talk about wisdom. If someone asks if you are wise, Aries will apparently know to answer 'wise enough to know I'm not very wise'. I hate those kind of weasel answers. It's like the fortune cookie strips with their pithy little sillinesses. I just eat the cookie. But Aries, you are being told someone this weekend around you is not so wise as you, but not to worry; they will trip themselves up. So, I guess you get to watch a friend stumble, laugh at your own wiseness. Then eat a cookie.

Virgo: Wow. A year ago, he asked you if you had anything to be ashamed of. I've only know Mr. Cainer for a few weeks, so I have no way to verify this for you, Virgo. Well, I do, but I have to go have a shower in a few minutes, so check yourself. Anyway, a year ago you had nothing to apologize for, and this year, you still don't. Ya know, I'm all for recycling, but the least he could do is give you, say, Capricorn's advice from a year ago. Nobody reads all of these. Geesh. But for this weekend, go forth with no drama. You are totally right.

Taurus: "The world is full of people who don't really know how to operate various pieces of equipment". Yes, yes it is. My boys are mystified by a blender. Or at least a blender lid. But you are being encouraged to accept 'good enough' this weekend. This is sage advice when it comes to things like the cordless phone or assembling a Christmas tree. I still don't recommend it for things like backhoes and bungee jumping cables. Even Mr. Cainer must admit some things call for a little precision. In which case, Taurus, just don't go bungee jumping this weekend, in case the operator is a fellow Taurus.

Cancer
: First, he scrambles the definition of crazy: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I think that was Einstein. Cainer is no Einstein. He goes on to say that this can be a good thing if things are a little crazy and you would like to calm them down. Don't change the plan. He says excitement and drama can produce unsure results. I say go for the drama, if only because this guy keeps telling everyone to stay calm. Pffffffffft, I say.

Pisces: You are being told that you can bitch until you're blue in the face - if you don't consider where your message is landing and tailor your delivery accordingly, it won't get through. He says if you want to 'inspire and excite' someone (but not Cancer - Cancer isn't doing excitement this weekend), you will pause and focus on what you want to achieve. You will be 'wise'. Like Aries. Maybe you should hang out with Aries and share wisdom. Apparently, that is the only sign that will be receptive to your genius ideas this weekend.

Aquarius: He takes a whole paragraph to tell Aquarius that 'sh*t happens'. But because nobody is allowed to have a crappy weekend forecast, he tells you to think about fairy tales and good thoughts. Jeezzzzzus. Rainbows and unicorns, Aquarius. Think happy thoughts. Positive thoughts. Personally, I think you're just gonna have a lousy weekend on some fronts. So honestly? It's just your turn. Lay low and stay in bed.

Gemini
: Oh, here's a neat trick. Now he's telling Gemini that 'luck happens'. I guess stay away from Aquarius, who is having a rockier go of it this weekend. Gemini, like some random game show contestant, you don't need to deserve it, nor have applied for it. Apparently, this weekend will be good for you for no damned good reason. I guess you are going to get lucky.

Libra: Oh. Much babbling about how someone had only seen you stub your toe, they would think you're a klutz, and you're not, of course. You need perspective this weekend. This reminds me a Seinfeld bit when he said that if aliens glimpsed earth and saw people running around picking up their dog's poop, they'd believe dogs were kings. So the same way they shouldn't believe this, we shouldn't believe you're a klutz because of the *one time* you stubbed your toe. He doesn't say what it means if you stub your toe while picking up dog poop.

And now, I must go find some heels to totter around in for the day, and some sensible ones to wear to the motorcycle show. Oh! I know! My new boots! Yessssssss. See you at the show....

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December 8, 2010


Gonna Go Take a Bath With Johnny Depp

I was in Shoppers yesterday, and as I stood at the check out watching my lady scan a multitude of things I will not admit to here, I glanced at the magazine rack. Before my divorce, I subscribed to tons of magazines. After the divorce, the only one I still read was Vanity Fair. Yes, I know, I know. Parts of it are unbearable; but they have some fabulous writers who track people falling off of mountains, or planes colliding in midair. And Christopher Hitchens. And many of their pullings apart of people like John McCain are awesome. I like European scandals; I don't give a crap how Lindsay is doing in rehab. Sorry. I'm harsh.

Back on topic. Johnny Depp was staring at me. Yes, me. I scooted over and grabbed a copy, and told my lady "Johnny is going home with me."

She sighed, and said "oh, yes.". There was a line up behind me. I kid you not. Every woman from 25 to 70 sighed at the same time. I don't know what it is, but Johnny Depp is That Guy.

I also bought bubble bath.


You might be boring...

...but at least you're not stabbed.


Pets, Food, Whatever

I was wandering around Fark, which is always a giant time suck, and came across this.

An Arizona restaurant apparently made an special Easter dinner earlier this year using rabbit. Hahahaha. That cracks me up. People eat rabbit all the time, but for some reason cooking it on Easter makes them heinous. I mean, everybody knows the true meaning of Easter is a giant bunny leaving chocolate eggs all over the place. No, no, I'm kidding. The best version of Easter I ever heard (and forgive me; I cannot for the life of me remember who I'm stealing this from) was that Jesus came out of his cave and saw his shadow, so there would be 4 more weeks of winter. Anyone who equates a bunny as being sacred to Easter needs a thump.

Anyhoo. Now the same restaurant is featuring their new Christmas menu. Reindeer. Hahahaaa. Same people, same knots, same panties. I've eaten reindeer. It was yummy. But you have to cook it over a birch fire. And you have to have many, many little shots of something called aquavite or something like that first. The truth is, I think reindeer is yummy. I know aquavite is. I had it in Sweden, a couple of hundred kilometres north of the arctic circle. Then when we were sufficiently full of reindeer and aquavite, we stood outside in a billion degree below zero snow and watched the Northern Lights. Yeah, that was cool.

I was talking to Roz and told her I was going to bitch about people who bitch at me. People who tell me that Blame it on Lorraine doesn't have enough mail. Which should totally reassure anyone I don't make it up, you would think, but no. One person spinning out an entire website laden - laden, I tell you - with content, isn't good enough. Pfffffft, I say. Actually, I say something worse than pfffffffft, but after cussing out Santa the other day, I feel a little bad about going stronger than pfffffffffting.

To make me feel better, Roz has instructed me to get an app for my iPhone. It is news to me that Roz knows anything about this, but she found a little thing called iquarium. You get a goldfish. She is enamoured. You must take care of this goldfish. She named hers Goldi-lox. I find that hysterical. And mean. You should meet Roz.

I downloaded it as she ordered me to (I am after all, a little sister), but you have to feed them and take care of them. This could get squirrely. That reminds me - I still have a dead squirrel in the backyard. This doesn't bode well for my as-yet-unnamed-fish. As I was talking to her on the phone (Roz, not Goldi-lox), she suddenly squealed. 'I got a treasure chest!' I can see this is going to be a long month.

The boys used to play Sims a few years ago. Actually, so did Roz, now that I think about it. Anyway, Christopher used to build a house and put in 100 stereo systems, beanbag chairs, pinball machines and a huge indoor pool. This was his idea of heaven. Oh, and bathrooms. All over. You have to create your house and your characters and then take care of them. Christer used to throw a party at his indoor pool, get everyone in swimming, then take out all the ladders. He used to kill off all the Sims. He also used to refuse to let them go to the bathroom, and they'd pee on the floor.

I remember once Roz called and said that CPS had showed up at her door to take her kids away. In her pretend world, she had a kid and forgot about it.

Things are not looking up for Goldi-lox.

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December 7, 2010


Bitchileaks

If you've ever wanted a reason to follow Twitter, here it is.

Oh, a cussing and a little edge. If you don't want your innocence tampered with, carry on.

December 6, 2010


Wow

This is cool. Click here, go visit the Sistine Chapel. Zoom in and out, rotate, you might want to take a Gravol first. Seriously. Go slow. But it is really, really neat.

Thanks, Sarah.

Yeah, if you get carsick, don't click. Sorry Blue Roz.

Blue Roz. Snicker.


Priorities, Shmiorities

I have been known to get snarky when I believe politicians do dumb things. When I shake my head and wonder what world they live in. When they do the modern day equivalent of 'let them eat cake' (and yes, I know that is a misquote/wrong quote, but I don't care so don't correct me, I'm making a point). Anyway, because I can be a little frosty to the elitish out- of- touch elected people, I feel it's only correct to acknowledge when they get something right.

Because the U.S. has solved that pesky healthcare problem, and global warming has been reset to simmer, they have moved on to things that truly threaten the security of their nation, the future of their children, and the price of tea in China: they are passing a bill that will stop commercials on TV from being so loud.

Well, first, can I have a 'hallelujah'? Finally. If you've ever noticed, the worst shows have the crappiest commercials. They also have the biggest variance in sound. This means that if you are watching, for instance, a Connie Selleca made for TV movie from 1987, you can sneak it. Until you get jolted back to 2010 by a Snugli ad. And call now and get 2 free. Maybe they know that if you are cold, your teeth are chattering and you need to be able to hear this remarkable offer.

I often have the TV on for background noise while I make dinner or pretend to write. The low voltage word fumble is fine, until I am implored yet again to sign up to get my degree at night, even if I have 12 children and a lame-ass no-good husband. I do have the time, they tell me. The cat gets jolted to the floor in fear as I ponder going to Georgia for cooking school.

Are loud ads a bane? Absolutely. But should the highest level of government in one of the biggest countries in the world be worrying about it as their economy swirls the drain? I doubt it.

Guess they could always call Russell Oliver. He'll give them cash for their used gold. I know this. He just yelled it at me.

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December 5, 2010


I am Ashamed

I am quite certain I am getting a lump of coal in my stocking this year.

I belief using the f-word when describing the jolly stocking filler - in fact, using a string of them - is hardly conducive to receiving anything else.

Why the hate, you wonder? It's easy. Ari had to work today. At 2. Which is fine, because I'd been up since waytooearly working, and I remembered to kick his door as I went past to remind him. What I hadn't remembered to do was stuff his work shirt in the wash, which I hurried to do. Reminding myself to listen for the pinging to tell me to get it into the dryer, I immersed myself in 3 separate work pieces and forgot.

All of this is long winded way of saying I had to drive him to work because we were hauling his shirt out with mere minutes to go til his shift started. Scooting out to the car with no coat on, hair crammed up in a pony tail and my glasses sliding down my nose, I swung out of the court. And came to the light where all manner of festive people were setting up for our annual Santa Claus parade.

Aw. How darling. Right? I glanced at the clock, and reckoned I had 2 minutes to get back before they put the barricades up. I dumped Ari off with nary a backward glance and booted it back home. Barricades. I deftly swung down a side street (46 years in the same house teaches you a few tricks), only to meet more barricades and a cop who was suddenly struck blind and deaf. Damn.

All I wanted to do was get back to work. Yay for Santa, and small children, and doggies in little knit boots and neighbours up to their elbows in bon vivant. Awesome. Just let me get back to my deadlines.

Because you can't start screaming like a madwoman in front of dogs in little knit boots, I parked the car and started running. That is a generous description: I was more like trotting. My pseudo burst of speed had a twofold use: I was freezing to death, and I didn't want to stop and chat with all the neighbours I know. And I like them too much to subject them to Work Lorraine, a vision of pre-shower loveliness who was now panting like she'd run a marathon instead of a single block.

The plan was working splendidly until I felt my lungs ripping out of my chest. Be quiet. I have never claimed to be a symbol of fitness, and to go from inert to sprint would test anyone who hasn't run since the relays in grade 4 at Lakeshore Public School. To stop a block from home was out of the question. That would mean not only having to talk to people I know, but to be panting and wheezing in front of them too. Aware this would take their attention from the fact my glasses are noticeably crooked and I have a spaghetti splotch on my shirt, I still opted to keep running, putting my health in jeopardy as I ratcheted up my reputation as an eccentric. I am currently neither old enough nor rich enough to be eccentric. I kid myself that I'm not firmly parked in 'weird'.

Recalling some advice that an athlete should focus to work through the pain, I concentrated on the fact that I wasn't wearing a bra. This is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. I finally decided I was grateful I even had shoes on. I usually drive Ari in my slippers.

Rounding the final corner, I limped up the front steps. I had run 2 blocks. Small blocks. I exploded over the threshold and with my last breath took the name of Santa in vain. As I cursed that I pay a billion dollars in taxes and should be able to park in my own damned driveway, I suddenly had a glimpse of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in my head. I realized that his declaration that the 'war on cars' was over was intended for people who were saying the very things I was now uttering. Slapping my own self, I said an apology to Santa, and my neighbours who had had to see what they did when they'd only gathered to take part in a festive parade.

I am going to get my walking speed up to a true trot. I may break out a run by January.

I've seen Ford. He should consider the same.

December 3, 2010


Weekend Horoscopes - December 3

It's so nice to have good habits. Like bringing to everyone these insightful - or maybe inciting - interpretations of what the weekend holds for you. I think inciteful should be a word. It's not. Anyway, I shall be doing a interpretative word dance to the musings of Real Horoscope Guy, Jonathon Cainer. Originals are here. We begin with the best one of all, Capricorn.

Capricorn
: Lots of waxing on about the sword and the stone myth. Which is interesting, because my friend Sarah just wrote about that last week in her column. Anyway. We are asked to consider what if the wrong stone presents itself to the right puller? What if the wrong puller finds the right stone? Arghhhhhhh! Myths explode! The upshot is that this weekend, me (and all Capricorns, I guess, though I don't much care about them) will be finding the right stones and be the rightful pullers and much joy shall ensue. Either that, or my weekend is gonna be full of rocks.

Scorpio: Oh. Scorpio, you're to have an awesome weekend. Apparently, you can become a sloth and stay in bed all weekend if you like. Something about Venus showing up. You are charming, and people will let you get away with all kinds of nonsense, even people who don't like you. Though you find it hard to believe, yes, there are people who don't like you. I suggest you get a stack of books, take-out phone numbers, a charged phone, find the remote and stash the fridge full of wine. Then call me.

Leo: Oh geez, he really made a dog's breakfast of yours, Leo. Sorry. I'll do what I can. Somehow, we shall mangle the Beatles' All You Need is Love by saying it can't end wars. Duh. And that if you tell people you love them it can make them upset or aggressive. Yeah, that's why we have restraining orders, people. The kicker? He says this weekend the love that awaits you is 'inspiring, high and pure'. I think you're getting a kitten.

Sagittarius: Oh. A lesson in right vs wrong. And blather that sometimes wrong is right and right is right, and wrong is just wrong. (I think I know how this guy writes. He promises himself if he can just get so many words done, he can have wine. I think he should drink the wine first.) You have apparently been struggling with wrongness, and now I can instruct you to give up. I guess it's like permission to take the weekend off from crusading. I suggest wine.

Aries: As we continue our theme of Opposites Weekend (really, this theme stuff is like when the Brady Kids wore matching outfits and sang - ick), you, Aries are to discover that some things you usually find difficult are easy, and vicey versa. You seem to think you are going to have a bitch of a weekend, but apparently, the stars have decided you shall have a smooth one. I don't know if these are stars like Burt Reynolds or Pam Anderson or the twinkly ones, however. This man makes so little sense I suggest you choose a star you love and make a wish. But don't blow too hard on Burt Reynolds - toupee and all that.

Virgo: This is crap. He is telling Virgos not to worry about anything this weekend. To just let things go, and things that seemed important just won't be. 'Set yourself free this weekend,' he says. Let me tell you: if the little Virgo in my household doesn't fix the humidifier and vacuum the rec room, he will die a virgin. I think. If you're a grown up Virgo who has no impact on my household, do what you like. Otherwise, ignore this reading.

Taurus
: Oh, more 'don't worry, be happy'. This guy doesn't do 12 horoscopes, he does one, over and over. Taurus needs to remember that animals can smell fear. And since people are basically animals with things like travel mugs and underwire bras, we too can sense fear. Except we're stupid about it, and often fear things that don't need to be feared. He's obviously never worn an underwire bra. In keeping with today's theme, no need to worry. This weekend is apparently comprised, for all of us, of rainbows and ponicorns.

Pisces: Oh. Pisces, you aren't getting a free ride this weekend, it seems. You're being told it wouldn't kill you to be a little nicer. Hmmmm. You can still say 'no' to something, but you should do so with one of those fake, ass-kissing smiles on your face. Oooooo. I hate when people do that. So, I am going to tell you not to do that. People don't like it. Especially if their underwire is cutting into them.

Gemini: Even though you are bombarded with endless news reports and bulletins, you are not to worry. Thanks to Sarah Palin, we all know Foxnews is the only source of information you really need. He didn't say that. I did. But he is saying to ignore the 'incomplete picture' you are presented with, and merrily go on your way. He hopes you will 'broaden your topics of conversation' this weekend. Please don't interpret this as a time to tune in Foxnews. People like Palin are just like the kid who plays the triangle in the school band. One note.

Cancer: His best line, ever. He admits you don't need to be an astrologer to predict things. Ya think? But he cautions you, Cancer, that your best surprise lies in your blind spot. This is exactly true. I'm positive the dead mouse in my kitchen is behind the stove, and I don't want to look. Hence, my 'surprise' is in my blind spot. What you can readily see is not so obvious to others, Cancer. While you're waiting for them to wise up, perhaps you could swing by and help me pull out the stove.

Aquarius
: Do not be swayed by 'too good to be true' offers this weekend. Beware the old buy-one-get-one-free thing, and ask all the embarrassing questions you need to. I love asking embarrassing questions. I also love buying one and getting one free. Even if I don't know what 'one' is. I think this is not a good weekend for Aquarius to go Christmas shopping, because you're going to buy a bunch of useless crap just so you can check people off your list. They know when you do that. Really. Especially if you give everyone the same thing.

Libra: First, you are being encouraged to barter this weekend. If you have too much of one thing and not enough of another, trade. I suggest you call Aquarius. She/he has been shopping, and goofed. Libra, you must also not blow something out of proportion. Some things are just that easy. If you have a hard time relaxing, give Scorpio a call. She's lying in bed eating bonbons and drinking wine.

This seems to be Don't Worry, Be Happy weekend. I really think this guy should mete out his relaxation schedules a little less en mass. He as an entire calendar of us sitting around with our thumbs up our butts, believing we worry for no reason. We Capricorns, notorious for doing whatever we like, can't steer the entire ship for a whole weekend. Geez. I encourage control freak signs to ignore the tinkly spa music playing in today's horoscopes, and keep an eye on things.

December 2, 2010


Losing One of My Favourite Themes

Or images. Or analogies. Or something.

Remember how we've been told forever that the female praying mantis bites the head off her mate after sex? As if to drive home the fact that women are fierce and feisty and aggressive and strong and have no use for men other than their own sexual gratification and...sorry. Got a little caught up there. Ahem.

Turns out it's bogus science. The original experiment? "Placing them in the same jar, the male, in alarm, endeavoured to escape. In a few minutes the female succeeded in grasping him. She first bit off his front tarsus, and consumed the tibia and femur. Next she gnawed out his left eye...it seems to be only by accident that a male ever escapes alive from the embraces of his partner" Leland Ossian Howard, Science, 1886

One fact was left out. The damned things had been starved. And as much as we might all aspire to a slender figure, girl's gotta eat.

New experiments on far more bugs have found it just isn't true. "In nature, mating usually takes place under cover, so rather than leaning over the tank studying their every move, we left them alone and videotaped what happened. We were amazed at what we saw. Out of thirty matings, we didn't record one instance of cannibalism, and instead we saw an elaborate courtship display, with both sexes performing a ritual dance, stroking each other with their antennae before finally mating. It really was a lovely display". (7) There is one species, however, the Mantis religiosa, in which it is necessary that the head be removed for the mating to take effect properly. (5) Sexual cannibalism occurs most often if the female is hungry. But eating the head does causes the body to ejaculate faster."(all quotes at link)

So. What have we here? A 'lovely display'. Huh. And only one drama mama species. The 'religiosa' one. Who apparently just wants it over with sooner, and rips his head off to speed things up. Can you imagine being a male from another praying mantis species and accidentally hitting if off with a female religiosa? Exchange texts, friend each other, make one booty call and presto! Dad never warned you about that. But the fact this girl - and none of her friends - have Dads should have been a warning, no?

It appears our other little praying mantis tarts have found the best of all worlds: getting what they want, with the little threat of instant death always handy to keep things moving along in a lovely way.

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December 1, 2010


If you travel...

...you should probably watch this.

I'm taking duct tape with me from now on.


It's Beginning to Look...

First, a round of applause to Webgod for sprucing the joint up. I feel so festive!

I also feel hungry. Maggie and I decided to have a cinnamon raisin bagel this morning. I couldn't remember if she likes these, but apparently she does. She was hounding me for bites, which I fed her as I worked. She seemed to be a little piggier than usual, but I reasoned that I don't need an whole bagel to myself anyway. I just got up to get the mail, and saw a little trail of things on the floor. Fearing the worst (mouse story in a minute), I took a closer look. Little spit out raisins. Maggie doesn't like raisins, but she didn't let that stop her. She munched around them and spit them out.

I thought I'd seen the end of my mousecapades for awhile, but after 2 months without a peep - literally - I hauled a package of rye bread from the cupboard the other day and had a sprinkle of bread crumbs go everywhere. Careful chew marks in bagels, bread and English muffins. I almost want to cut the little bastards a deal: if they'll stay outside in the garage, I'll bring them something to eat every day. The cats are totally useless; JoJo wouldn't know a mouse if it bit her, and Maggie doesn't like them. Not sure why not; it's not like they have raisins in them.

Donald Trump
is all pissypants because the airport near his Florida club, Mir-a-Lardo, makes too much noise. Awwwwwww. Poor Donald. He claims its noise and air pollution. I happen to know he just doesn't like the way the down draft messes his coiffure.

What is going on in the world? A shark is gnawing on people in Egypt. Nipping off arms and legs and hands of Russian tourists, which is pretty nasty. A Supreme Court judge in B.C. has overturned some miserable old bugger's will, which left out his 4 daughters and handed all his stuff (real estate in Saskatchewan, a house and a violin collection (!))to his only son. Girls got a little pissy; judge overruled the will. Wouldn't you love to be with that family for Christmas dinner?

Weight Watchers will now let you eat all the fruit and veggies you want. Except potatoes, which means, well, it means that's a nonstarter in this house.

The leaked docs from Wikileaks from U.S. diplomats continue to make international politics look like a grade 8 girl's sleepover.

Canadian Members of Parliament are bitching about the size of their Christmas trees. Christmas trees? Really? If this is what is reported, can you imagine how boring and petty 'leaked' docs would be?

The 2012 version of the DSM (the diagnostic medical book)is turfing or getting rid of 5 of the ten existing personality disorders. The original ten are: antisocial, avoidant, borderline, dependent, histrionic, narcissistic, OCD, paranoid, schizoid, and schizoidtypal.

Being turfed? Histrionic, schizoid, paranoid, dependent, and narcissistic. I can hear the narcissists now, all up in arms that the spotlight will not be on them, them, them. You won't be able to hear them over the histrionics, of course, but I'm sure the dependents will be there to tell the paranoids that no, they're not imagining things. Lemme just say that scrubbing out the name doesn't make this stuff not exist. I'm all for paring down the 'everything is a disease' mentality that surrounds us, but I don't know that this is the place to start. Maybe calling things like shopping and boinking an addiction. Yeah, let's start there.

I'm going to go back to checking out what Rob Ford is doing on his first day in office as Toronto's mayor, other than throwing out everything that was done before he got there. We don't have to worry too much in Burlington. Nothing was done for the past four years except bitching and complaining.