Tuesday, 28 February 2017

My Back Pages - February 2017



This has to be one of the weirdest February's on record around here. Mild, mild temperatures, thunder, lightening and rain. Alas my reading this month wasn't quite as exciting.

Got four books under my belt this month. Two Nero Wolfes,  a great book about the television industry and a procedural about the Baltimore police homicide squad. 

The Rubber Band is Rex Stout's third Nero Wolfe novel and The Red Box his fourth. The two were written in the 1930's but they're wickedly funny and intriguing as far as detective stories go.

The third book was a fascinating look at that era of television unique to me and my generation, following the so-called golden age of television. The Platinum Age of Television: An Evolutionary History of Quality TV was a delightful and comprehensive look at television from the 60s and 70s onward. It's full of behind the scenes gems mined by TV critic David Bianculli.

The last book of the month fooled me. I remember watching Homicide: Life on the Streets on TV after Bianculli mentioned it in his book. So I thought, hey, why don't I get the book it's based on Homicide: A Year On The Streets. This was a lengthy tome and when I read it I found there to be more narrative than dialogue which I thought was kind f funny. Little did I know, but found out when I got to the end of the book and the author David Simon's notes, that he spent a year with the Baltimore homicide squad and the book is a true story based on that experience. It was a fascinating read. Simon by the way is also responsible for the TV series Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Wire and Treme among others.

So eleven books for the first two months of the year. The number's down this month because I spent a lot of time watching television. The end of The Young Pope and The Affair occurred in February. And I started watching Black Mirror, a quirky yet delightful sci-fi anthology series from Britain. If you liked The Twilight Zone when you were younger you'll love Black Mirror. As well, Billions is back and I started watching Big Little Lies. All in all a pretty full month.

Friday, 24 February 2017

A View From Up North



Hello my American friends. I haven't seen your names show up among those folks streaming across our border through frozen fields of snow into our country so I guess you've decided to stick things out. How do you like him so far?

Funny how your leader has gone from The Donald to The President but still acts like The Donald. The epitome of self promotion he, and at least one other in his family, seem to have latched onto the ultimate way to improve the Trump brand. Although in Ivanka's case, I'm not so sure.

In the United States your President Donald Trump is king of reality TV. In Canada our Prime Minister Justin "Joe" Trudeau is King of the selfie. But there's a difference between our two preening leaders. One thinks he's popular. among the electorate. The other actually is

I feel sad for DJT because he lives alone in the White House as his wife, clearly not enamoured with  this First Lady business has chosen to live in Trump Tower in New York. So the President has managed to keep his right hand awfully busy. Signing all those executive orders. What did you think I was talking about?

And what do you make of Sean Spencer? Here's a man who, in one month, managed to get demoted from Communications Assistant and Press Secretary to just the latter. Because, I think, he spun the truth once too often - into a web of alternative facts.

You know a former Prime Minister once had a Press Secretary who called George Bush a moron. This former spin doctor went on to become an Assistant Deputy Minister in Canada's government. She had a wonderful wit and a razor sharp mind. Your spinner would appear to be wonderfully witless and have conducted a self-induced lobotomy with a razor sharp knife.

Well, the President and his well oiled machine are now into month two. Things can only get better. Right?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Slow and Steady


He made his way down the stairs from the first level of the parking garage, his cane in one hand and the cold metal railing in the other. A loudmouthed mix of mostly millennials ran past him halting his downward progress. He waited until the joyful group exited the stairwell and then continued his slow and steady progress.

He reached the hospital entrance not unlike that tortoise who kept saying to himself 'slow and steady wins the race'. He knew he had the slow part down. The cane helped with the steady. But then he was in no hurry. His chemo appointment wasn't for another twenty-five minutes. He stopped and quickly queued at Second Cup and ordered a medium, then shuffled to the counter where they kept the milk and sweetener.

He stirred his coffee, popped a lid on top and made his way to the elevators. Back out in the main area he was amazed at the number of people rushing to and fro moving much faster than he was capable of. And he marvelled at the number of people who virtually ignored the man with a cane. There were those who refused to walk on the right causing him to go around them. Then there were others who,waiting for the elevator, rushed on ahead of him. And he thought to himself 'hey, man walking with a cane here! Give a guy a break'.

Funny, he thought, how the older he got the more laid back he got. He was only slightly perturbed by the vociferous, thoughtless people around him. And then he laughed to himself because he knew there was a time, long ago, when he would have probably been one to act that way too.

Tara's Two Word Tuesday prompt is vociferous/loudmouthed this week. It's been some time since I've spoken that way.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

How Sweet It Is


Jack Arturie was in love. He had been for 30 years. Following a five year dating period Jack asked Tara Swain to marry him. Lucky for him, she accepted and they'd shared 25 years of wedded bliss. What's in a name? Well, she was his lovely swain for all the years they were together.

Tara was a little old school and believed the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. To this end she learned to bake and created sinfully sweet desserts for Jack at every meal.

Jack, of course, was in heaven and left unchecked he ballooned to well over 300 pounds. But Tara still loved Jack and continued to aim for his ever-increasing belt-sized stomach.

When out for lunch with Jack, his friends would express their concern over his sugar intake and ask if he'd ever asked his doctor to check for diabetes. Jack would simply laugh off their interventions as he tucked into a chocolate three-layer cake and washed it down with a Gatorade.

Snack-time was no different. Often Jack would down a half-dozen doughnuts or a bag of oreos in one sitting, as well as a six-pack of Coke, while watching his favourite TV show, Competition Cupcake, in the evenings

And at breakfast he'd start the day off right, in his estimation, with several bowls of Marshmallow Froot Loops, two large glasses of orange juice and a couple of cups of coffee, each doused with several soup spoonfuls of granulated sugar. Well not the orange juice. That would just be wrong.

One night at dinner, as Jack worked on his third chunk of Black Forest cake, lovingly prepared by Tara that afternoon, and watched a re-run of a Trump news conference from earlier that day, he keeled over and face-planted into the cake, dead.

After a brief investigation by police they ruled out CNN and had to agree with the coroner as to the cause of death: a sweet heart.

Tara's Two Word Tuesday prompt this week was swain/sweetheart. In addition to that, safe to say Tara didn't know Jack.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

You Don't Mess Around With Stan



Stan was an English major. He'd studied four years and was proud of his personal prowess when it came to his phraseology. That's vocabulary to you and me. He wasn't bad with the Sunday Times crossword puzzle either.

He was making his way through the latest word challenge as he sat in Starbuck's sipping an espresso. The shimmering sunshine slipped through the open window casting the shadow from his pencil placidly upon his newspaper. And if it weren't for the occasional bawl of the baristas seeking to match a coffee cup with a customer, the subtle drone of patrons made him almost doze off.  Stan thought the interior of the coffee shop was idyllic. Idyllic was a favourite word of Stan's and he often felt his surroundings to be idyllic, an outlook in keeping with his ultra-positive look at life. He also had great ardor for alliteration, in case you hadn't noticed.

And then there was Oliver. Oliver was a good friend of Stan's - the best perhaps. But Oliver was very different from his friend. Oliver never finished university. Instead he'd spent most of his time in the student lounge drinking beer and playing pool or checkers with his unacademically-minded buddies. As a result Oliver worked at a blue-collar job while his pal Stan was easily climbing the ladder of success.

Oliver, earbuds of his iPhone plugged solidly into his ears, yelled a greeting to Stan and as he sat down and spoke loudly he turned the formerly idyllic coffee shop into an impious, cacophonous cavern. Loudly to you and me. But to Stan Oliver was rowdy, strident, raucous, vociferous and particularly stentorian. You might say he spoke in a manner so loudly he could have wakened the daed. But then I think you got that already.

Alarmed and annoyed at having his quiet and discreet refuge interfered with Stan looked Oliver in the face and yelled at his friend. But Oliver, deep into his music, did not hear. After the third attempt Stan yammered at the top of his voice "This is another fine imbroglio you've gotten us into".

"Hey" replied Oliver. "How did you know I was listening to Natalie Imbroglio?"

You might say Stan was torn as he thought about hauling off and launching a bell-ringer at Oliver's clearly cavernous cranium.

This week's Two Word Tuesday prompt from Tara is imbroglio/mess. My apologies to Stan and Ollie for paraphrasing their well-known catch phrase.



Wednesday, 1 February 2017

I'm Just Waiting On A Friend


Terry said he'd meet Rich and Dave at two o'clock. Rich and Dave arrived at the agreed upon meeting place together, 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Now, you should know that this was back in the day when cell phones and iPads hadn't been invented yet. And people would have looked funny carrying a rotary phone in their pocket. Plus the telephone cord would have to be super long.

Anyway, Rich and Dave were forced into a little session of "I Spy With My Little Eye" to pass the time until Terry arrived. As it turned out Terry was unavoidably detained and Rich and Dave were simply dying of boredom. After all, when you've seen one chrome refrigerator in the appliance store you've seen them all. Neither of them had thought to bring a pencil or paper so tic-tac-toe and origami were both out. Tick-tock, tick-tock the time passed so slowly they were bored right out of their skulls.

At last, 30 minutes past the time they were supposed to meet, Terry arrived on the scene.

"Sorry, I'm late" chirped Terry, "but I got held up".

"Held up, cried Rich. "Did they get anything of value?"

"Not that kind of 'held up'" replied Terry. "It's a figure of speech. I guess the joke's on you."

"Listen" remarked Rich, "after all the time we waited for you it certainly is ennui."


The prompt from Tara at Two Word Tuesday is ennui/boredom this week. And I'm sorry but the joke's on you.


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