Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Psychedelic Fever Dreams...

This past couple of days I have been ill with the worst cold/flu that I have ever had. I can't remember being this sick for ages. All I could do was sleep, and I had the strangest, feverish, delirium dreams. In one of my dreams, Queen Elizabeth was visiting me, and she asked if I had a Boots catalogue.  Boots is a pharmaceutical chain in the United Kingdom.  Anyway, for whatever reason, the Queen wanted their catalogue.

"You don't need their catalogue Ma'am, all you need is to go online and you can buy anything you want off the Internet...  Here, let me show you."

And I proceeded to set up a computer and to show the Queen how to use it.  She was amazed.  In real life, I would imagine the Queen not only knows how to use a computer, but in fact uses it on a daily basis, especially to e-mail the various members of her large family.  But dreams are not within the realm of reality, are they?  Anyway, it's always fun to spend time with the Queen.  She's actually quite a character, once you get to know her.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, when the Mercedes in which she was riding slammed into the 13th pillar in the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel in Paris.  And no, I don't believe in conspiracy theories.  I think Diana's death was the sad ending to a sad life, an unfortunate accident when an inexperienced driver was speeding through a tunnel, driving a powerful car he was not experienced enough to handle.  If Diana had been wearing a seat belt, she would have survived.  She had been hounded by the paparazzi, but it had become almost a symbiotic relationship.  She knew they kept her in the public eye.  She loved being the most photographed woman in the world, and often tipped them off when she was going out. 

Princess Diana would be 49 years old now if she were alive. What might her life have been like if she had lived and stayed married to Prince Charles? When Diana married him, everyone thought she had caught the brass ring, but really her life would have been simply that of a Lady in Waiting ... waiting to become Queen. If the Queen lives for another 20 years, which she could possibly do, given the longevity of her mother, Diana would be 69 years old when her husband ascended the throne.  The Queen will not abdicate, nor will she skip over Charles and "appoint" Prince William as her heir.  She considers herself annointed by God, and as Prince of Wales, Charles is annointed by God as well.  Perhaps once the Queen passes on, the Monarchy will become irrelevant, but somehow I think they will be around for a while.

At least now -- thanks to me -- the Queen knows how to use a computer.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Common Cold ~~~ Ogden Nash

Of all the darndest things, one of the doctors came to work with a cold and infected everyone else. Some folks like to share, you know? It's completely ridiculous. In our organization, we have an initiative called "Infection Control" and we are required to attend seminars on how to wash our hands. For goodness sakes, I know how to wash my hands -- use hot soapy water and count the alphabet. All thoughout our offices there are little signs on everything from elevator buttons to door knobs, "5,650 people touched this button..."


We recently had a meeting where the Director informed everyone that if we are sick, we must stay home.


Does any of it work? Of course not. People still come to work sick, and they infect each other.  I guess the attitude is ... "Well, I'm already sick, so what does it matter...?"

My throat feels as if a gang of chimney sweeps is in there, scrubbing away ... my head is throbbing, I have chills and a runny nose, and I ache in places where I didn't even know I had places.  What a waste of a perfectly good weekend.

Am I going to work tomorrow?

"Well, what the heck ... I'm already sick, so what does it matter...?


Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I'm not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!
~~~ Ogden Nash

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Life Of Contentment...

Today I attended a retirement party for one of my co-workers. She has worked for the same organization, doing exactly the same job, for 37 years. She's really a lovely woman, always smartly dressed, always pleasant -- the sort of person everyone likes. In his speech today, the Director said that he had never heard anyone say an unkind word about her, and that she had always been reliable in all the years he had known her.

In the ten years that I have known Gabrielle, she has always had the same expression on her face, and the same pleasant manner.  She is always happy, and today as I was looking at her during her retirement party, it occurred to me that Gabrielle's thermostat is permanently set at "medium" -- not too hot, not too cold -- just right.  She gives the impression that life has worked out for her just as she liked.  She's happily married, has two grown children with whom she has a perfect relationship, and she just seems to have a look of contentment all the time.  I think that's the reason folks like her -- she is always cheerful and positive, never moody.  I have not known many people like that in my life.  People are usually very complex, and Gabrielle is definitely not what anyone might call complex.  But she is content.  The question is, is Gabrielle content because life has been good to her, or has life been good to her because she is content?  How many of us are the authors of our own misfortunes, simply because we have not learned to be content?  How many of us have our thermostats turned too low, or too high?

Being satisfied with what life had to offer has served Gabrielle well.  Having a steady life not full of too many highs or lows seems to have been just the ticket for Gabrielle.  Perhaps it took a certain amount of discipline to stay the course like that.  We don't really know what someone else is thinking or feeling, and perhaps Gabrielle has been tempted many times to cut loose for parts unknown.  But she didn't, and I wonder if she realizes just how unique she is.  Perseverance is its own reward. ...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz ...

Here in Canada, most of our favorite television shows are American. My favorite show is Mad Men, and oddly enough, it is produced by Lionsgate Television -- which is Canadian. Who knew! The show is set in the fictional advertising agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and one of their main accounts is a cigarette firm.  The advertisers have requested the advertising firm to whitewash cigarettes and make them appear safe, because studies were beginning to show they were a health hazard.  People were dying from cigarette smoking, and that would never do.  In Mad Men, everyone smokes, drinks, and generally carries on in ways that would be shockingly politically incorrect by today's standards.  Those were the days...

On this side of the border, when we watch Canadian and American television, the main differences we notice between the two countries are the advertisements. In America, the major advertisers are car companies, fast food chains and pharmaceuticals. There is almost a correlation between those three things, don't you think? In Canada, the main advertisements are beer ads, home improvement products and cleaning products. Do we have some sort of a fetish about our homes here in Canada? We also have a lot of travel and tourism advertisements, so it appears that once our houses are sparkling clean, we like to escape.

We also like to think we're the same as our American cousins to the south, but we're really quite different in many ways. Our money is in all different colours, we still spell everything the British way -- neighbour, favour, labour -- we keep changing the words to our national anthem, and we'll keep doing it until we get it right. And we have our own language.

"Please take your runners off the chesterfield while you're eating your poutine, or you won't get a Nanaimo bar for dessert, eh..."

Okay .... what did I just say...?

But mostly, we take our beer -- and our beer ads -- very seriously.  Never make fun of a Canuck, or his beer, or you'll suffer the consequences, eh...?

Monday, August 23, 2010

These Feet Were Made For Walking...

Vincent Van Gogh

I have been away from my computer for the better part of this weekend, because I have been outdoors -- walking. The weather is cooler, and is more conducive to going for long strolls. It's wonderful. My biggest problem is that I have to walk with my feet, and I have -- arguably -- the world's worst feet. Most of the people in my family have lovely, slim, dainty feet, but that particular gene skipped me.

When I was growing up on Vancouver Island, I wore shoes as little as possible. I could walk over gravel or hot coals with my bare feet, and it didn't bother me at all. But I guess eventually one pays a price for that. When I was working for law firms, I always "dressed up" and wore high heels, and fortunately I felt comfortable wearing them. When my daughter and I were in Paris, she convinced me to buy a pair of flat shoes. They were gorgeous -- a soft buttery leather with a latticework pattern and a little leather bow. When I put them on, I could hear my feet saying "Thank you...!". I have worn flat shoes ever since then, and my high heels now languish at the back of my cupboard.

Here are some interesting facts about feet -- everything you never ever wanted to know:

1. During a lifetime it is thought that a person has walked enough steps to have circled the planet more than four times, which is approximately 115,000 miles.

2. Women suffer from four times as many problems than men. This is believed to be a result of their cruel high heel shoes.

3. Women on average walk three miles farther every day than men.

4. Socrates once claimed "When our feet hurt, we hurt all over".

5. Runners hit the ground with a force of two and a half times their body weight.

6. The average foot gets two sizes longer when you stand up.

7. A 2½-inch high heel can increase the load on the forefoot by 75%.

8. Each foot produces more than a cup of perspiration per day.

9. There are 28 bones in the human foot.

In the evenings after work, I love to sit and massage cream into my feet and pamper them a little bit.  I feel that if we look after our feet, they will look after us.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Buttering Up To The Boss...

Of all the years that I have worked -- since the dinosaurs still walked the earth -- I have never gone in to the boss's office and complained about a co-worker, even though the opportunity to do so has presented itself many times.  I think I would rather be struck by lightning than to "rat" on a fellow colleague.  People are people, and that makes them human, unfortunately. But most people are mature and responsible, and I believe adults should be treated like adults. When I was a little girl, I had an older brother who was always “telling” on me, and ever since then I have developed an aversion to folks who “rat” people out. It is the lowest form of humanity, in my estimation; and I’m never sure if people do it to make other people look bad, or to make themselves look good. It’s a combination of both, I suppose. And the unfortunate thing is, they never get the story straight. They always embellish -- but a good fib is better than the truth, right? However, there will always be people who think it is their duty to mind everyone else’s business.

I have learned more than I care to know about my co-workers’ personal lives, just by overhearing their constant lengthy telephone calls. *sigh* And one afternoon I overheard one of the “temps” in our office as she recruited folks to her pyramid scheme. From 1:00 until 4:00 she convinced everyone that if they just gave her $400, their lives would be fuller, richer and better… The only thing fuller, richer and better was her bank account. All this was being done on the employer’s time – and dime.

One day I was looking through one of the directories on our H:\ drive, and I stumbled upon a cache, a veritable stockpile – a motherload, as it were -- of pornographic photographs. I telephoned the owner of the *cough* artwork (“Bob”) and advised him that he had better remove the pictures from the public drive before they were discovered by someone else who would report him. As it turned out, someone else had found the photographs at the same time that I did, and was all set to report Bob, but I headed them off at the pass before any harm could be done. Bob removed the pictures, and his secret was safe. The next day Bob sent me a little bouquet of flowers, with a note saying, “Thank you. You know what this is for…”

Well, Bob, let that be a lesson to you. You just dodged a bullet for something you should not have done.

My point is, there are two types of people in this world – people who see all and say nothing, and people who feel it is their “duty” to “inform” on their co-workers. The tiniest infraction is reported, usually with some fictional embellishments, just to make the story more interesting. And usually the “office police” are the folks who are guilty of goldbricking and slacking off more than anyone else.  This week I observed someone tell a lie about a co-worker, and it has caused that person no end of grief.

“A lie does not consist in the indirect position of words, but in the desire and intention, by false speaking, to deceive and injure your neighbour.” ~~~ Jonathan Swift

There is a special place in h*ll for people who do this sort of thing, and hopefully in that place they will end up with the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert.  One can only hope...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Ghost Of Hilda...

La Promenade (La Promenade, la femme à l'ombrelle - Woman with a Parasol)
Claude Monet

Do you believe in ghosts? Ever since I was a child, I have been able to feel the spirits of people who had previously lived in a house. Occasionally I have even caught a glimpse of them. They are as clear to me as the people we see every day. They are not transparent wisps, but real people.

I have been living in my tree house for 12 years.  It is a fairly new development from sometime in the late 1980s. Prior to that, it had been an Edwardian house, built around the turn of the century. Some of the older Edwardian houses in my neighbourhood still exist, and they’re lovely old buildings, with brick fireplaces, wrap-around porches and stained glass windows. Many of them have fruit trees in the yard. I love to walk through the neighbourhood and imagine the folks who lived there and what their lives must have been like in those elegant old houses.

I have never told anyone this until now, but occasionally when I first wake up in the morning, before I am fully awake, I can see a woman in my apartment. She is visible for only a few seconds, and then she disappears. When I first saw her, I thought, “Who on earth is that woman?” After a while, I got used to her, and she just became part of the environment. She looks very pleasant, she has auburn hair and a 1950s style dress. She is quite elegant. I have just accepted her, and she doesn’t frighten me. I imagine she is someone who had lived in the house that had been on the property.

This morning I was late for work, so I took a taxi to my office. When I got into the taxi, the driver said to me, “I was born in the house that used to be on that property…” Omigosh. I have always been curious about the house that had been there before, so I asked him about it. He told me it was a three-story house, it had a large back yard with a lawn and apple trees, and his mother had planted a lovely flower garden.  He said his parents rented the top floor to a woman named Hilda. He described her as having auburn hair; she was very elegant, well-read, well-educated and loved to travel to exotic places like Africa and the Orient.  She spoke several languages.

The taxi driver told me that when he was a little boy, his mother felt he should learn more about culture and the arts than she was able to teach him, so Hilda used to take him with her to the opera and the theatre. Hilda had been married for a short while at a very young age, but her husband died, and she had no children of her own. He said he became very good friends with Hilda, and was very fond of her. She took him for walks through the neighbourhood, and to picnics and swimming at Kitsilano Beach.  She lived her life as a spinster, and she passed away in the house at the age of 90.

I described to him the woman I have seen occasionally over the years, and he said, “That’s Hilda.”

Well, I like Hilda. It sounds as if she had been a very interesting person, and I don’t mind sharing my space with her. And maybe she likes me too, and approves of sharing her space with me. At least now I know her name.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sally The Sad Little Sunflower...

A few weeks ago I bought a gorgeous little sunflower to put on the terrace of my treehouse.  I called her Sally -- don't ask me why -- and I loved seeing her sunny little face every morning.  And then a couple of weeks ago the strata council in our building decided to have the decks power washed.  Of course, in their usual wisdom, the council decided to have the decks power washed in the middle of high summer, just as everyone's terraces were fully landscaped, everything was in bloom, folks were using their barbeques, patio tables, Adirondack chairs...


I think Sally became traumatized by the power washer, and ever since then she has kept her face hidden. I talk to her every day, and I water her, and I tell her everything is going to be all right, but her face remains hidden.  She was fully closed a couple of days ago, and last night I said to her, "Won't you let me see your face?" and slowly a few spikey petals opened shortly afterwards.

Okay, I'm really starting to sound looney tunes now, aren't I?  The thing is, does anyone know how I can revive Sally the Sunflower?  Or is she lost forever?

The good news is, I now have a spanking clean deck, but most of my plants didn't survive.

Sally looks very sad, doesn't she...? 

Don't Be Afraid To Say What You Really Think...

I subscribe to both the New York Times and the Huffington Post on my Facebook account, and gosh they are a lively bunch over at those two sites. They've got everything going on, and it's wonderful.  News, opinions, controversy, debate -- you name it, they've got it.  At the click of the mouse, you can find out anything that is going on in the world, but best of all, you can read everyone else's opinions.  There are no holds barred.

The Internet has changed the way news, ideas, opinions, and so much more is discussed.  And as with most issues in life there is no right or wrong, no black or white, just varying shades of grey, depending on whom you are.  But one thing I have noticed is that, with our wonderful neighbours to the south, almost every issue has become split down party lines -- Democratic or Republican.  Everything becomes politicized.  How did that happen?  Rather than discussing a topic on the merits, people quickly square off into their political parties -- and that's it.  All of a sudden something that may be a humanitarian issue, or medical, or scientific -- or whatever -- becomes political.  And then people are afraid to say what they think for fear of being called "ignorant" or "biased".  The political leaders grab hold of an issue, the talking heads on TV start shouting at each other, and any intelligent debate or discussion goes out the window.  Chris Hayes, who was guest hosting the Rachel Maddow show last night, listened to an argument about a particular issue -- with which he did not agree -- and then he said. "I just threw up in my mouth."  Oh, goodness.

There is a certain "hot button" topic being discussed at the moment (which I will not mention here...) that seems to have enraged everyone.  It's very interesting, and very sensitive, to be sure.  The President endorsed the issue, and then he backtracked.  I thought that was the most intelligent thing he had done yet, not that he had backtracked, but that he had actually given some thought to something that is extremely controversial, and he thought for himself rather than "along party lines".  He listened to the concerns of other folks.

Political correctness is not necessarily a bad thing.  Folks have come a long way in the past few decades, and things that were acceptable 20 or 30 years ago would make people blush with shame now.  That's a good thing.  And it's because of lively debate and conversation that people are able to exchange ideas and arrive at a conclusion that is acceptable to the majority.  People should never be afraid to say what they think -- even if their viewpoint is unpopular, or perhaps not currently politically correct.

The fact that anyone can log on to The New York Times, The Huffington Post, or thousands of other newspapers and magazines, and share their opinions about current issues is just amazing.  And whether folks agree with each other -- or not -- we all end up with a say about what kind of a world we want to live in, as long as we think for ourselves, and not along "party lines".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Do Overs...

The other day I was riding in an elevator, and I was slightly bored.  My mind began to wander towards the realm of the imagination... "What if...", I imagined, "at the end of my elevator ride, the door opened and I was in a different life.  I would step out of the elevator and into a whole new world, a whole different me." Oh, just think of the possibilities.  Imagine getting into an elevator, and being able to push the "Do Over" button.

When I was a little girl, I had definite ideas about how I wanted my life to be -- as most children do.   Mostly, I knew the most important thing was to have a university education.  It is the one thing no one can take away from us.  Knowledge is the key to all things, including respect from other people.  In "The Wizard of Oz", all the scarecrow wanted was a brain.

"I'd unravel every riddle for any individ'le,
In trouble or in pain.
With the thoughts you'll be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain...

Wizard of Oz: Why, anybody can have a brain. That's a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven't got: a diploma.  Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD.
Scarecrow: The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy! Rapture! I got a brain! How can I ever thank you enough?

Wizard of Oz: You can't.

Some areas of my life -- specifically my job choices -- have not been at all the way I wanted them to be, because I was not fortunate enough to get a university education. Education is the class system of the 21st Century, and because I am not formally educated, I am "less than".  I am keenly aware of this fact every day, and I am made subtly aware of it in a multitude of subliminal ways.

Less than...

A university education can change our whole lifestyle -- the house we live in, our furniture, our clothing, what type of car we drive -- if we own one.  It can affect our status in the community, even our social networks, and it can otherwise have an impact on every aspect of the life we lead.  I do feel a bit like the Scarecrow at times.  He knew what he was missing.  Perhaps one day I can step into the elevator, and step out into a whole other life.  I have a feeling I wouldn't be in Kansas anymore...

Charlie St. Cloud

Marigold and I had a "girl's night" this weekend, and we went to see a movie called "Charlie St. Cloud", starring Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, and a young fellow named Charlie Tahan.  The movie is not meant to be anything but a sweet summer movie, based on the novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud".  It's sort of a cross between "A Summer Place", "A Walk to Remember" and "The Sixth Sense".  It's the story of how Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron) feels responsible for the death of his younger brother Sam (Charlie Tahan) in a gruesome car accident, and how he puts his life on hold, giving up a scholarship at Stanford University.

Charlie died in the accident as well, but he was revived, and from then on he is able to see people who are in the transition between this life and the next.  He spends the next five years meeting at every sunset with the spirit of his younger brother Sam, and they practice baseball pitches in a clearing in the forest.  But then -- Charlie meets Tess, whom he has admired from afar since high school.  The story at a that point takes a twist that even I didn't see coming.

The scenery in the movie is beyond spectacular.  It's really a cinematic postcard, and I recognized every scene because it was filmed here in Vancouver and the surrounding areas -- Deep Cove, Gibsons Landing, Steveston and the forests in North Vancouver.  Zac Efron stole every scene he was in.  He's a spectacularly good-looking young man, and I think that may be a hurdle he will have to overcome as a serious actor.  But he can act.  Who knew...!  His performance is authentic and nuanced, and he doesn't chew the scenery like a lot of young men his age.  James Dean was only 23 when he died, the same age as Zac Efron is now, and James Dean became a legend.  However, James Dean's over-emoting performances are almost painful to watch if you see his movies today.  I hope Zac Efron is careful not to venture over into that territory, because he really is talented, and I think he has a great future as a dramatic actor.

All through the movie I kept thinking, "Who does he look like ... who does he look like...?" And then it dawned on me. He looks like a young Tyrone Power, one of the famous actors from way back in the vintage years. I put the two pictures together and showed Marigold, and she laughed, "It's the same face...! That's weird...!"

If you have a teen or a tween, and you want to find a nice, cool air conditioned movie theatre where you can watch a summer movie for an hour and a half, I think you will enjoy this. Don't expect "Gone With the Wind" or "The Hurt Locker" ... but you might even be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Odilon Redon
Museum of Modern Art, New York

My mother always used to say, "No one is perfect except for me and thee, and I'm not so sure about thee." Well, I know I'm certainly not perfect -- I'm far from it, in fact.  But haven't you always noticed that the most interesting people are the ones who are slightly quirky?  I have met folks who seem to be perfect and flawless in every way, and they're intimidating.  However, once they reveal a quirk or an eccentricity, suddenly they become much more likeable and endearing.  A piece of the armor falls away, et voila, they are human after all.  By the same token, once I am able to see other folks' indiosyncracies, I don't feel quite so bad about mine.  We all have them, and more often than not our idiosyncracies are similar rather than strange.  We can identify with each other's quirks and foibles, and often they are a common thread that binds us together.

"You do that too?  Oh, gosh, so do I...!"

So here, just to make you feel good about yourself, are a few of my idiosyncracies.

1.  I love the sound of silence.  Unless a piece of music is really worth listening to, I can't bear having a radio or a television on for "background" noise.  I grew up in a noisy home, I work in a noisy office, and I cherish the sound of silence.  Silence is like a spa for my ears, it refreshes them.  Silence can make all the other senses feel heightened, especially the visual sense.

2.  When I come home from work at the end of the day, I always have a hot soapy shower to wash off the flotsam and jetsam of the day -- especially if I have had to use a "public facility".  I'm not exactly a germaphobe, but there is nothing more refreshing than feeling clean.

3.  This is beginning more and more to sound like a case description of someone with OCD ... but I love tidy cupboards.  When I was 12 years old, I got up one morning and looked at my messy bedroom.  There were clothes and books everywhere.  My mother had gone to a lot of trouble to create a pretty bedroom for me, and it was a mess.  At that moment I decided to tidy it up.  I hung up my clothes, straightened my books, made my bed, and realized it felt wonderful to have "a place for everything, and everything in its place..."

Nuttier than a fruitcake, you say?  Are you feeling better yet?

4.  I'm not superstitious about most things.  I find most superstitions are just silly.  What on earth can happen if you open an umbrella indoors?  Nothing.  Or if you step on a crack on the sidewalk?  It doesn't really break your mother's back.  But there is one superstition that I take very, very seriously.  When I am getting dressed in the morning, if I inadvertently put my underwear on inside out, it stays on -- inside out -- all day.  Don't ask me why.  What would happen if I changed it?  Oh, I don't know -- the earth would tilt on its axis, the sun would turn into a supernova -- I'm not willing to find out.

I have, oh , about a million other idiosyncracies, but this post would start to get too long if I listed them all here.  Besides, you folks are all exactly the same, right?  Nothing new here ... right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Want Hugh Laurie Back...!

Help...! My favorite comedian has been kidnapped and is being held hostage by an American television studio. I believe they're paying him staggering amounts of money -- he's the highest paid actor in a TV drama -- but they've turned him into someone completely unrecognizable.  They've taken away his sense of humor, his lovely British accent, his mischievous twinkle in his eyes, and they have turned him into a hopeless drug addict.


According to the folks at Wikipedia, "House is critically acclaimed and has high viewership ratings. It was among the top ten rated shows in the United States from its second through its fourth season; in the 2008–09 season, it fell to nineteenth overall. Distributed to 66 countries, House was the most watched television program in the world in 2008. The show has received several awards, including a People's Choice Award, a Peabody Award, two Golden Globe Awards, and four Primetime Emmy Awards. The finale of the show's sixth season aired on May 21, 2010. House's seventh season will premiere September 2010."

When the show was first announced starring Hugh Laurie, I was looking forward, with great anticipation, to watching it. Hugh Laurie is amazing, and before "House", Hugh Laurie was known in Great Britain and Canada, and thoughout the rest of the world, as a brilliant comedian. He was wonderful.  So, I kept waiting to see some of his comedic brilliance in "House" ... but ... nothing. According to A.A. Gill of The Sunday Times "...the show had "lost its sense of humour". The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan wrote, "House used to be one of the best shows on TV, but it's gone seriously off the rails".

Apparently, in 2005 Hugh Laurie appeared on the cover of TV Guide as "TV's Sexiest Man". and in 2008 House was voted second sexiest television doctor ever, behind ER's Doug Ross.  Bertie Wooster...?  Sexy...?  Well, that depends on how you define sexy, I guess.  A hilariously funny, brilliant, charming, bumbling idiot, yes.

"Dr. House, please crack a smile occasionally -- even just a little one."

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie as "Jeeves and Wooster" in their first trip to America.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

True Love Ways...

My friend Lulu invited me over for dinner tonight, and she showed me an old vintage LP of Buddy Holly's that a friend had given her, called The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. 2. It had some beautiful songs on it, but my favorite was "True Love Ways". I love trivia, and I love six degrees of separation, and that song has both. Buddy Holly recorded the song with the Ray Ellis orchestra, and if you listen, there's a fabulous tenor saxophone solo by Abraham "Boomie" Richman, who played in the original recording of the iconic theme for The Godfather. "True Love Ways" was also successfully recorded by Mickey Gilley, whose cousins are Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.

Ray Ellis used several pseudonyms as a composer, and composed the music for television shows and cartoon shows, including Spiderman and The Archie Show, and even the original theme for NBC's Today Show. He was also the backup orchestra for several singers, from Billie Holiday to Barbra Streisand. Now, if anyone should ever ask you how to connect The Archie Show or The Godfather to Buddy Holly, Barbra Streisand and Jimmy Swaggart, you can tell them. Interesting bit of trivia, hey?

Here is one of Buddy Holly's prettiest songs.  Listen for the wonderful saxophone. It's beautiful.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chariots Of Fire On Empire Field...

Long before Vancouver hosted the Olympics, the city hosted the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Empire Stadium, which was originally built for the Games, held 32,375 people and a decade later was Vancouver's venue for both Elvis Presley and The Beatles. It was also the site of one of the most famous races in history, during the 1954 British Empire Games, between Roger Bannister and John Landy. Both men had beaten the four-minute mark previously. Bannister was the first man to break the four-minute mile on May 6, 1954 at Oxford University, and a month and a half later on June 21, 1954, John Landy also broke the four-minute mile.

And then on August 7, 1954, as 35,000 fans looked on in the stadium, and millions watched on television, the men competed against each other in what was known as "The Miracle Mile." John Landy had the lead, and with only 90 yards to go, Landy glanced over his left shoulder to look for Bannister. At that instant, Bannister streaked by on Landy's right to win in a time of 3:58:8. Landy's second place finish of 3:59.6 marked the first time the four-minute mile had been broken by two runners in the same race.  A statue of Roger Bannister and John Landy both breaking the four-minute mile stands outside Hastings Park a short distance from the stadium. On a visit to Vancouver years later, Roger Landy said, "While Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back, I am probably the only one ever turned into bronze for looking back."

My father had been a runner when he was a young man, and he talked about that famous race all his life. “If only Landy had not looked over his left shoulder...”

Harold Abrahams, who was one of the runners featured in the movie Chariots of Fire, was the timekeeper for Roger Bannister’s historic four-minute mile at Oxford University on May 6, 1954. Sir Roger Bannister went on to become a physician and neurologist, and John Landy went on to become the Governor of Victoria, in Australia. Empire Stadium has been refurbished, is now called Empire Field, and is home to the BC Lions Football Team. Phinnaeus and his dad went to a game there the other night.  The Lions lost.  Again.  *sigh*

This old film of Roger Bannister beating the four-minute mile for the first time in history, at Oxford University, and set to the music of Chariots of Fire, is wonderful to watch. You can see the other runners tiring as Bannister runs past them effortlessly like an antelope.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Isn't It Better To Love Than To Hate...?

My good friend Russell has done a wonderful blog post this week about intolerance, and I thought, my goodness great minds think alike -- or perhaps fools seldom differ -- whichever way you happen to view it.  In any case, unless you have been living on the dark side of the moon, you know by now that California's Proposition 8 has been overturned for being unconstitutional.  I was shocked when Proposition 8 was passed during the last election, and I was pleased to hear it has been overturned.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since July 2005, and it's no longer an issue here.  All of us in Canada have friends and acquaintances in same-sex marriages, and it is openly accepted.  Same-sex marriage in Canada has not caused the world to end, and has not destroyed the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, and in fact, same-sex marriage has a much lower divorce rate than heterosexual marriage.  In addition, a recent study reported in New Scientist has concluded that "The children of lesbian parents outscore their peers on academic and social tests, according to results from the longest-running study of same-sex families.  ... Compared with a group of control adolescents born to heterosexual parents with similar educational and financial backgrounds, the children of lesbian couples scored better on academic and social tests and lower on measures of rule-breaking and aggression." So what is everyone afraid of?  Why is there so much opposition to it?

Anyone who finds someone to love, and who loves them, should be counted as very fortunate.  Not everyone finds love like that, so who are we to tell those folks who they should love?  I don't think homosexuality is an anomaly of nature, and I don't think it's a choice.  I think it's the way a certain percentage of folks are created, and that percentage may be higher than we know.  I personally don't understand homosexuality because I am what is referred to as "straight".  But then again, I don't understand people who like rice pudding, although some folks think it's wonderful.  However, far be it from me to tell people they shouldn't like rice pudding, just because I personally don't care for it.

People often quote the Bible and say that gays and lesbians are breaking God's laws.  But the Bible also says it's okay to have slaves.  According to the Bible, it's even okay to sell your children into slavery, or to buy other people's children as slaves.  There are several rules and regulations set out in the Bible as to when and how to do this.  The Bible also sets out when people shall be stoned to death.

"A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them."  Leviticus 20:27  In fact, according to the Bible, a woman should be stoned to death for not being a virgin on her wedding night.

What the heck...!?

Okay, how many of you would be alive today if that practice were still in place. Can I see a show of hands?

I'm not a big fan of organized religion -- any religion.  It has caused so much trouble through the centuries, and continues to do so now in the 21st century.   However, I was raised to believe in God, and I would like to think that if He does exist, He prefers love of any type over hate -- of any type.  But, I have a problem understanding why people think it's okay to tell other people how to live, or whom to love.  Is it really anyone's business, especially if it's not hurting anyone else? What am I missing...?

Just don't get me started on rice pudding.  It's ghastly stuff.  There should be a law against it...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dim Sum and Art In Chinatown...

One of my favorite places in Vancouver is Chinatown. It's the third largest Chinatown in North America, after New York and San Francisco, and this year Vancouver's Chinatown celebrated its 125th birthday. There are 17 historic buildings in Chinatown, including the Sam Kee Building, which is the narrowest building in the world at 4 ft. 11 in. wide. I love Chinatown for the shopping and the restaurants. The gate to Chinatown, seen here in this picture, was donated by The People's Republic of China in 1986. When you walk through the gate, you really do feel as if you are walking into another country. It's wonderful.

Vancouver's Chinatown offers everything from museums and cultural centres, to bike shops, jewelry stores, grocery stores, furniture and clothing stores, hair salons, clubs and bars, theatres, and even schools.  The restaurants are wonderful, not only in Chinatown, but throughout Vancouver, because of the excellent chefs who have come here from Hong Kong.  With the abundance of fresh seafood here, Vancouver has acquired a reputation as the home of the best Chinese food in the world.  Who knew!  And there is an open-air night market that runs from May to September every year.  Vancouver's Chinatown is also the home of the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden & Park.

Today as I was strolling through Chinatown, I stumbled upon a man painting murals on the walls of one of the buildings. I stood and watched him paint for a while, and then I ask him if I could take some photographs of his work.  The figures were life-sized, and I almost felt as if they would speak to me at any moment.  Well, in a way they did speak to me, and I thought I would share them with you.

Vancouver's Chinatown has become mostly a tourist attraction now and was declared a historical area along with its next-door-neighbour, Gastown. But the area is currently being revitalized as a major business area in Vancouver, particularly due to its proximity to Yaletown, False Creek, and Downtown Vancouver.  It's really the heart and soul of Vancouver, so if you're ever here, be sure to visit Chinatown, and have some deep fried sesame dumplings.  Yum.  They're my favorite.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Being 14...

Phinnaeus is a really great kid. He seems to have inherited the best of both his parents, and he's a very nice young man. He has a finely honed sense of what is right and wrong, and he has an in-born sense of honesty and decency. With Phinnaeus, what you see is what you get. He has an open face, and a wonderful grin, and the world's best sense of humor, a sense of the ridiculous, and best of all, a sense of irony.  He can see the absurdity in almost any situation, and I have a feeling that is a trait that will carry him through his life.  Phinnaeus was born with a curiosity about everything, and he's one of those people who, when he sets out to do something, he does it well.  He inherited that from his mother.  Right now Phinnaeus is taking an interest in cooking.  I think that's a hoot.  He told me the other day he made beef bourguignon, and it turned out really well.  He said it took him six hours to make it, but everyone loved  it.  Well, of course they did. He also makes the best ice cream root beer floats -- I mean, the best.

Phinnaeus loves to hop on his bike and go for long bike rides around the Lower Mainland.  He took a keen interest in the recent Tour de France, and informed me that a local fellow from Victoria came in 7th overall.  Well, I didn't know that.  Phinnaeus is just at that bridge between childhood and adulthood, known as the teenage years.  He is tall and can sometimes be mature looking, but he is still just a goofy kid inside.  The world is still pretty much a mystery to him, and that's good.  There is time enough to learn about the world.  A 14 year-old should be a 14 year-old as long as possible, and most of them are really are just goofy kids inside maturing bodies.  They're like puppies that still haven't grown into their feet, and like puppies they need the occasional discipline and a lot of sleep.  A lot.

Today it was announced that 14 year-old Laura Dekker is setting off from the Netherlands, to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world.  All I could think was "Oh, good Lord Almighty, not another one."  What on earth are her parents thinking?  According to Laura, she's not afraid of pirates, she's packed plenty of school books, and she's going to miss her family and her dog, Spot.  "I can be sailing now, and that's great!"

Oh good grief, will someone please tell me what I am missing? Am I missing something? I am a little bit familiar with 14 year-old kids. I was one myself -- once. I remember what it was like to be 14.  I had absolutely no sense of responsibility beyond what a 14 year-old should be expected to have.  My friends and I were experiencing the first brief taste of independence, but we had to be home at a certain time -- usually 9:00 -- or else.

I actually feel genuine concern that this girl is being allowed to sail solo on the world's oceans at the age of 14.  No matter how much they protest to the contrary, 14 year-old kids are not mature enough for such a venture, and there are some decisions that 14 year-olds are not mature enough to make on their own.  Please, someone put a stop to this nonsense.

The Burlington Coat Factory -- Hallowed Ground.

The American people are incredibly wonderful, forgiving people. It amazes me. Not many people would be so forgiving. Yesterday the New York City Landmarks Preservation commissioners unanimously denied landmark status to the 152-year-old Burlington Coat Factory building that currently stands on the site where the Islamic community plans to build a mosque, the Cordoba Initiative. The Burlington Coat Factory was a retail store until September 11, 2001, when landing gear from one of planes that brought down the World Trade Center crashed through the roof. Preserving the Burlington Coat Factory as a landmark building would have prevented any changes in its structure, and would have ended any controversy regarding the building of a mosque.  According to Debra Burlingame, whose brother died in the Pentagon on 9/11, "This is a place which is 600 feet from where almost 3,000 people were torn to pieces by Islamic extremists.” I sometimes struggle with the concept of forgiveness, but I do understand it. Forgiveness is more for the forgiver than for the forgiven. It helps us to move on, to release any ill feelings about whatever perceived slight has been done to us. It frees us. I admire people who can forgive so easily. It's a gift, a blessing.  But so is sensitivity to other people.

Ground Zero is a cemetery; it is hallowed ground. There are still the remains of people there who died on 9/11, and there is as yet no memorial built for them.  Regardless of how one views the building of a mosque at that particular location, to those folks who lost family members and friends there it can only serve as a painful reminder of the religious extremism that killed their loved ones.  It's not about "cultural racism" or bigotry, but rather it is about the fact that if it is going to cause pain to anyone at all, it should not go ahead.  And it has already generated enough controversy that it is causing pain and anguish for too many people. 

My philosophy is "When in doubt ... don't."  So, I am personally opposed to building a mosque at Ground Zero, simply because I think it is incredibly insensitive in the circumstances -- but that is just my opinion, and I am usually wrong.  However, I do admire and respect the forgiveness of the American people.  Perhaps that's the lesson to be learned here.

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it."

--Mark Twain

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Go Out And Frolic...!

There should be a law against anyone having to work during the summer months. All businesses should come to a complete halt, and everyone should have a two-month recess -- paid of course -- don't you agree?  I believe human beings were meant to play more and work less.  We are always so busy with our responsibilities, we have forgotten how to frolic.  Don't you love that word "frolic"?  If you look it up in Roget's Thesaurus, you will see "play, skip, leap, cavort, gambol, frisk, kick up on your heels, unbend, let down your hair, have fun…"


The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, “Now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a madcap, galloping chase!
I’ll make a commotion in every place!”

... William Howitt

I hope you go out today and frolic...  Me...?  I have to get back to work.  *sigh*