Thursday, January 29, 2009

Phone Trouble

A guy friend whom I haven’t heard from in about 10 years called me out of the blue the other day. We had a great gab and got all caught up on what is going on in our lives and then we hung up after about an hour. It was great to hear from him.

“Who was that?” my wife asked. I should have suspected something right then. Guys never know when they are on dangerous ground until it’s too late.

“It was Steve. Remember when he moved to Toronto and then disappeared off the face of the earth? Well he’s living in Vancouver now.”

“Oh yeah? How’s Michelle?” Michelle is my friend’s wife.


“I don’t know”.

“You were on the phone with him for an hour and you didn’t ask about his WIFE?”

“Well – no. I didn’t know I was supposed to.”

“What did you talk about?”

“Oh, his job and he’s got a cool sounding workshop at his new house. And a truck. It’s a way cool truck. And he went to Mexico on business a while ago. And…you know…stuff.”

“What about his kids?”

“He has kids?”

Uh oh. I could feel my feet starting to slide on the slippery slope I had just created.

“Michelle was pregnant with twins the last time we saw them! What happened?”

“Ahem, yes, I think I heard kids in the background.” I said confidently

“Did she have Boys? Girls? One of each? Lizards? Mutant alien offspring?”

“Er – it sounded like girls.”

“Men!! Why can’t you ask about important things like how her delivery went and is her mother still alive and what happened to that drunkard brother of hers and did she start that business she was looking at? What’s their address?”

“Um, I don’t know. It was a phone call not a change of address notice! I’ll call him sometime and find out.”

“That means you’ll get around to calling in two years or so.”

“Well, we don’t have much more to talk about now that we’re caught up.”

“Not much to…GAH!! MEN!! You are supposed to find out about their lives and wives and children and family and IMPORTANT THINGS!! Not trucks!”

“You’re saying trucks are not important in a man’s life? I beg to differ.”

“OK then smarty pants – tell me about his truck.”

I swear in the heat of the moment I did not see the trap coming. Walked right into it.

“Oh it’s a Dodge with a turbo diesel” I said, warming to my topic, “with four by four and stacks for exhaust and it’s got that really neat turbine-sounding whine from the engine,” I said. “And he can haul a 35 foot trailer without it even breaking a sweat cuz he has the heavy duty transmission package too.”

“Honey – what date is our anniversary?” she asked innocently.





“Did I tell you his truck has those big gnarly tires on it?”


I am not going to transcribe the remainder of the conversation. Suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty, and I let my tribe down a little. Sorry guys.

So the next time you phone, please remember to tell me the important stuff so I can tell my wonderful wife.

What is the important stuff I am supposed to ask?

No really – what is it? I can’t remember.

Uh oh.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Life Lessons from a Big Kid

A near tragedy happened in Kelowna recently, one that was not covered by the media.

2 spelunkers (one male, one female) were buried in a cave collapse. The roof supports of the main passage they were exploring bent and crashed down, just as one of the intrepid cavers was passing beneath. The other dug frantically and was able to rescue their comrade just in time.

This heroism went unnoticed since the cave-in happened about a dozen times, and then someone broke wind and a full evacuation (of the cave) immediately followed. Fortunately no one was injured in the rush for the exit.

The roof supports were my legs of course, with blankies and pillows doing yeoman service as dirt and boulders.

We were supposed to be doing our chores assigned by Mom, but as usual we got distracted, as children and middle-aged men will. The big Mom and Dad bed had once again proved too tempting.

I told Mom on the phone that we were doing homework, which wasn’t totally dishonest.

The kids later confessed under interrogation, thus getting me in trouble yet again.

But that is part of my job. As I see it, one of my Dad duties is to corrupt the children with fun stuff after Mom has done all the hard work. Mom is sometimes annoyed by this cogent reasoning.

For example, in order to give Mom a break sometimes, I will take the kids to the mall, where we run around, play hide and seek, steal old ladies’ purses and so on. Good clean fun.

Later, I’ll tell Mom we ate nothing but wholesome broccoli salad for lunch and had pure bean curd for a snack.

The disloyal little devils who are my children then pipe up and willfully contradict me, saying “We ate hot dogs and chips and root beer for lunch! And then we had a cinnamon bun for dessert!”

Little rotters. Somebody ought to teach them a lesson…in the art of the little white lie.

Actually, now that I think about it, I teach them valuable lessons all the time.

For instance, as a lover of the English language (we met in school), I enjoy expanding my children’s vocabulary.

Just the other day, we were in the van and the kids learned the proper usage of the words idiot, dolt, moron and jerk. I think they are even bright enough to use them all in a single sentence just like their father. So that’s good.

Not only do I try to impart my wisdom and knowledge, I also know some useful skills. Like juggling. Juggling is great fun, and with some oranges from the produce department and a hat, you can make some decent spare change while Mom is off grocery shopping. The kids make useful props too, if you dress them up as poor ragamuffin types.

Or marbles. Do kids play marbles any more? They should. There is nothing so empowering as cleaning out another kid of his marbles. Especially if you’re playing with good ones like crystals or jumbos.

It is getting to the point, though, where I want a little payback.

For example, I really want to learn how to skateboard. It annoys me that kids just jump on the darn things and in no time they are doing back flips and oggies. Loogies? Something like that. Are there padded roll cages available so I can practise? Is there a Seniors Tour for me to aspire to?

And what about those shoes with wheels in the heels? Do they make any in grown up sizes? I think any honest-with-themselves grown-up would love to go to work with those on. I want a pair. Can I? Can I? Pretty please? Come on! Please?

Hey! If my wife says I can stay outside, do you want to go to the playground?

Recycling in Action!!

Here is something that made me pause in the grocery store.

The wrapping on the toilet paper said it was made from 100% recycled material.

Beg pardon?

Toilet paper.

I bought new. Thanks anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Parental Conflict

I am at a crossroads in life.

I am of an age now where I avoid buying certain breakfast cereals because they give me gas.

My children want me to consume said cereals for exactly the same reason.


Ceremony Ends, Briefing on UFO Truth Begins

The ceremony now over, the 44th President of The United States was ushered off the stage, and into a briefing room where he will be shown the debris from the crashed alien spacecraft.

He will also be handed the keys to the nuclear arsenal, which will be utilized to vaporize the circling mother ships now descending on barley fields everywhere.

He will also be introduced to the Official Astrologer, Official Psychic, and Official Secret Holder of The Grassy Knoll Conspiracy.

Then he has to change the password on the White House computer, sign some paperwork for payroll deductions, and figure out where the bathroom is.

A busy day for the new leader of the free world.

Ceremony Continued

OK I'm still on the couch and I think I just heard the Official Poetry Reader say that people would pick a lettuce and live inside it.

Now we're getting the real meat of the show. Do they have an Official Fruit or just an Official Green Leafy Vegetable?

Up next is the Official Dignitary Falling Down The Stairs Moment I think.

I must say I enjoyed the Official Song with Yo Yo and company.

The Official Sponsor of The Official Air Force Flypast is yet to be announced.

Stay tuned. Can't wait.

Watching the Show

I'm sitting on my couch right now, watching the inauguration.

I can't help but think the Americans put on quite a show.

I also can't help but think that we Canadians don't have ANY show.

Our new Prime Minister and cabinet get a group photo in the paper. Maybe a scrum in the hallways of parliament after.

I don't know and cannot say whose is better. That doesn't really matter. But I am impressed with the patriotism worn on the sleeves of all Americans.

I believe we are just as patriotic, we just go about it in a quieter fashion.

Neither one is 'better'. Just different.

I hope my next post has some ha ha in it. I wasn't cut out to be a pundit.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Inaug Slog

“OK Camera 1. Stay on the stand there for the ceremony.”

“Got it.”

“Camera 2, I want you to zoom in on the important stuff like who made his suit.”

“Got it boss.”

“Camera 3 you awake? Camera 3? Camera 4 can you see Camera 3?”

“Yeah he’s asleep. He’s been here 3 days now.”

“Cut the chatter Camera 4. This is important news we've been covering for the past 6 days – the public has a right to know”

“I hear camera 7 gets to check out Mrs. Obama’s dress label.”

“That is correct. Rumor has it she has Hermes – we have to confirm it.”

“Camera 12 - are you getting the shot of the main attraction coming out of the limo?”

“Roger that. Brad and Angelina will be here any minute.”

“No you idiot – the President!”

“Oh – no, I can’t see from here.”

“Camera 20 what’s all the commotion down there?”

“It’s Hillary! She just got out of her limo”

“What’s she doing here?”

“She’s going to sing or something”

“Hillary Clinton is going to SING?”

“Hillary Duff you idiot! You know – a real celebrity? You think they’d let just anyone in here today?”

“Yeah, yeah. Everyone just settle down out there. I know you’re tired after covering all the foofaraw leading up to this day, but this is The Network, The Show, the Big Leagues folks, we have to be prepared for anything. So keep your eyes peeled for “A” listers, designer labels, celebrities who may attend with someone other than their spouse, and so forth. Stay sharp!”

“Who’s doing the closeup on The President when he’s making his speech?”

“Camera 9 has that. Camera 9 - you got a clear view?”

“More or less. I think I can get somebody famous in the background too if I move a little.”

“OK I’m getting your shot now Camera 9. Looks good. Who’s that in the background? Is that Sarah Palin?”

“No I think that’s Lily Tomlin. Tom Arnold maybe. Can’t tell from here. Let me zoom in a little.”

“Oh heck, it’s just Arnold Schwarzenegger. Move around some more.”

“OK camera people – someone is speaking. I think the speech is next.”

“Somebody’s singing.”

“Who is it? Is it somebody famous?”

“I don’t recognize her.”

“Keep panning the crowd then. We need more celebrities, people! Audio – what are you doing? Can you pick up what that guy and the President are talking about?”

“Somebody said they were swearing – I ‘ll see if I can pick it up. That would be juicy, wouldn’t it? Oh – now the President is holding his hand up. It’s going to block the sound. Better pan somewhere else.”

“Thanks audio. All cameras! Pan the crowd again – we've got to get more recognizable people on this feed. This is the network remember”

“Hey, someone just texted me that more people are logged in to the webcast of this than are watching on TV. That's kinda cool.”

“Whoever said that – you’re fired.”

“That was the head of network programming you idiot. You can’t fire her.”

“Wait! Cue the pundits and talking heads! Somebody just said something! Analysis from the studio in 3,2,1!”

“Camera 6, when these guys are analyzing those dresses, can you zoom in on that guy talking to the crowd? We may need something for later.”

“He’s just blathering on about hope and change and all that. Nothing important. How about that dress on that hottie over there though?”

“Ooooh, good eye Camera 6. Get the cleavage shot for the morning edition fashion guy. That’s brilliant! Great work!”

“Hey everyone’s leaving!”

“That’s a wrap everyone. Great work! Awesome! And you thought you wouldn’t have any use for your journalism degrees…”

Fade to black.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Word Corrections

If word processing programs are smart enough to underline misspelled words, why aren't they smart enough to fix them?

Just wondering.


I keep wanting to come up with something topical like politics, but I struggle.

The only thing I've thought about writing politically is my idea of adding a basketball hoop to the speakers chair in parliament.

If you want to ask a question you have to sink a shot first. A three pointer means you get to ask a hard question. Something like that.

I'll keep working on it.

Vocabulary Lessons

I try to impart my considerable knowledge of the English language to my offspring whenever possible.

Stop laughing - I'm a professional writer you know.

Yesterday, for example, the kids learned the words Idiot, Dolt, Moron and Jerk - almost entirely in one sentence, while we were driving to the adventureplex thing.

So that was nice.

I hope they (the kids) someday appreciate the wisdom and maturity I impart to them on a regular basis.

Well now that sentence sucked didn't it?

See why I put stuff into an idea file instead of rushing them into columns right away? It's to catch crap like that before I embarrass myself.

Pay no attention. Nothing to see here. Move along. Writer spazzing out.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Team Name

I have come up with a most excellent name for a sports team here. You have to say it out loud.

The Okanagan Agony. Okanagan Agony. Maybe sponsored by Kokanee.

The Kokanee Okanagan Agony!

Say it out loud and you will experience joy.

Saturday Matinees

I've been working on a piece about attending the Saturday matinee at the Nova Theatre in Edson, Alberta (the late Tom Fowler, proprietor). Growing up this was the highlight of our week. Here is what I remember...

We would stuff our gobs and bulge our pockets with candy and chocolate, purchased with the 75 cents our Moms would supply us with.

The lights in the theater would give just a hint of dimming and instantly several hundred pre-pubescent voices would scream at the top of their lungs...

Popcorn boxes would be flung into the air by the dozen, almost completely blocking the screen (which was the point of course). Shortly thereafter the weird kids who sat in the very front row would be dazed and senseless from getting beaned by all the popcorn boxes being flung their way. Which was also the intent.

Poor Tommy Fowler would wander the aisles with his trusty flashlight, uselessly shining its beam into the faces of some miscreant who had his feet up on the back of the seat or some other heinous crime. His famous line was "Settle down!" as he'd attempt to shush the audience who were madly hurling Goobers at the Three Stooges then playing.

Or we would repair to the 'Cry Room' - an enclosed room at the back of the joint, where supposedly nursing mothers would go to keep their wailing brats from disturbing the rest of us wailing, older brats.

In truth, I think most of the illicit drug deals done in the town were transacted in this room. More than one virginity was lost there too as I recall - not that we knew or understood what was going on. We just heard the thrashing and giggled in the dark. I probably threw some Goobers then too. Might have been Hot Tamales. Whatever.

It kind of amazes me how quaint the whole scene is today. Way back when, the same movie would play for a month in a row. The same movie for one month. 4 Saturdays. No wonder we went mental.

I also learned some valuable lessons in petty larceny too. Mr Fowler would pay a penny a flyer to deliver the monthly movie schedule. Which was kind of hilarious. The entire month would say "Chitti Chitti Bang Bang" or something. Every day. But anyway - he would get us kids to hand deliver these flyers to every house in town.

It didn't take us long to figure out we should just deliver about 10 or so, then dump the rest and head back to the theater for our cash. I think it worked once. Damn him and his spot checks.

I can remember peeing with laughter at listening to a marble or 'boulder' rolling slowly from the back of the theater, through everyones feet, to the front of the theater, then back down into the concave portion of the floor. What a heroic toss that was. From then on marble rolling was rampant and care had to be exercised when exiting your row if you were sitting in the 'dip'.

My dear sister also enjoys reminding me of the time I went to my first night time movie. She told me that at night all the grown-ups always yell really loud when their movies start - just like at matinees. Naturally, being a twit of a boy, I believed the conniving bag of dirt and stood up and yelled my guts out as the lights went dim.

I stood and yelled alone of course.

I think I melted into the concrete floor from embarrassment.

Autumn Beauty

I have no idea why this font is so big. I tried to change it but I really have no idea what I'm doing.

So I was trying to write something seasonal a few months back. This is what I came up with:

Autumn is one of the loveliest times of year. Leaves fall from the trees and begin their long journey upstream to spawn. Fish change colour as they forage for bear spit on the banks of rivers and creeks, and geese hover in mid-air as the earth rotates beneath them.

Something like that.

So - like it so far?

Caving Tragedy

A near tragedy happened in Kelowna recently, one that was not covered by the media.

2 spelunkers were buried in a tragic cave collapse. The roof beams of the main passage they were mapping bent and crashed down, just as one of the intrepid explorers was passing beneath. The other dug frantically and was able to rescue their comrade just in time.

This heroism went unnoticed since the cave-in happened about a dozen times, and then someone farted and the cave got dismantled in a hurry.

We were playing on the big Mom and Dad bed when the kids were supposed to be doing chores.

The roof supports were my legs of course, with blankies and pillows doing yeoman service as dirt and boulders.

I told Mom on the phone that we were doing physics homework, which wasn’t totally dishonest.

The kids, being terribly disobedient, later told the truth to their interrogator, thus getting me in trouble yet again.

More details as they develop.

Our very own terrorists!

I am so pleased to see that we have terrorists right here in BC! Granted they are not up to much - blowing up the odd shack at gas pipeline intersections or something.

I see too that there is now a $500,000 reward for finding the bad guys and locking up forever in Canada's version of Quantanimo. Coquitlam perhaps.

Wouldn't it be exciting if it were Osama Bin Laden here? Perhaps he has decamped from the rugged hills of Pakistan and traded the dusty ranges of Afghanistan for the cold, buggy pine beetle denuded wonder that is northern BC?

Granted I'd be a little curious why he'd trade exotic arabic speaking areas for Smithers or wherever, but hey. To each his own.

I will probably get into trouble for welcoming terrorists to our province, but I think it's pretty darn exciting. Get out the good china.

More Bloggyness Please

So here is what I'm thinking.

Usually I jot down my ideas in a bulging Word file, then I try and combine them from time to time into an actual column.

To make this blog a bit more 'bloggy', I think I'll try jotting down my stupid lines and bits and ideas here, then assemble them into a print column down the road.

It might work, and would also give you a reason to check back here more frequently, click on more ads, and make me my fortune which is my ultimate destiny anyway.

So! On to short humourous bits then!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I wouldn’t say I actually like shoveling snow, but I have to admit it is one of those mindless things which lets me contemplate the finer things in life.

Things like a 30 foot wide blade which I could build and attach to the back of our minivan in the garage. Open garage door, lower blade, back out once, put van back in garage, I’m done, and back to the finer things in life like watching the hockey game.

My shovel time (annoyingly frequent of late) has also allowed me to contemplate names for the small thrill you get when shoveling compacted snow and you pry up a really large chunk. It is a feeling of considerable joy to snow pushers.

Slabisfaction would work. Snowilicious. Something like that. Moronshoveling maybe.

Never let it be said I am not an intellectual giant. But I digress.

When it comes to shoveling I don’t know about you, but I employ a cross-body, one arm shove technique. You get a good, long push this way which is very satisfying, and it allows for a more graceful fall when you collapse into your snow bank.

Another method is the Blade at an Angle Pretending To Be A Plow Truck Back And Forth style. This is easier on the back, but getting caught making “Vroom vroom!” sound effects can be embarrassing.

Some people go for the Walk Behind/No Effort Push technique, where you just lazily shuffle along, not caring about all the snow spilling out of either side of the shovel. I forgive these ne'er do wells since they are mainly of the younger generation who obviously have not had the benefit of me telling them what snow shoveling was like back in MY day.

I further suspect this practice was created by someone who was paid by the hour.

Actually, I once learned a valuable lesson using this shoddy technique and that lesson was Do Not Briskly Push a Snow Shovel Whilst the Handle is Pressed into your Belly.

It was during this lesson that I discovered the precise location of my body’s centre of gravity – which is good. You never know when that information will come in handy during the work week.

I was in a hurry this particular day, and the handle of said shovel was pressed firmly in my middle, just below my navel (an ‘inny’ if you must know).

In the middle of a truly heroic running shove, the blade hit a crack in the concrete. My forward motion came to a full and sudden stop, and I was propelled upward by my momentum.

I suddenly became the cross piece on a perfect “T” with my shovel at 90 degrees to the driveway, and me at 90 degrees to the shovel.

Time stood still as the implement tried to impale me, very slowly, using its 4 inch wide handle.

I could not have been more perfectly balanced. Arms and legs flapping like some huge, bemitted, flightless bird, I did not budge from my vertical position.

You would think, given my history, I would have been propelled over onto my head - but no. I was just stuck there, handle firmly in my guts, unable to do a darn thing, until slowly, slooowly, I eased backwards to a standing position. Ta da!

Where are the hidden camera crews when you need them most?

Here I had performed a feat worthy of Olympic gold, or at least a spot on the Cirque du Soleil roster, and no one had seen it.

I did, however, have a huge bruise on my gut the next day that was living proof of my gymnastic prowess.

You could hear the awe and admiration in my wife’s voice when she saw the hideous purple contusion. “That’s wonderful dear, now take out the garbage please” she said.

Trust me – there was some awe there.

I think these astounding feats are too good for the general public to miss, so I have decided to hire my own reality television crew to follow me around.

Do you think they’d let me call my show Survivor?