Tell Me More Tell Me More

One of my favourite things to do when I do occasionally manage to get myself out of doors is eavesdrop. Crowded restaurants work as well as anything I've found. This works best when the person across from you is so boring that you're more or less forced to sit there and gather material. Stolen snatches of conversation which on their own sound ridiculous help me build mini histories for the people I'm observing.

A few nights ago, I had the good fortune to be bored fairly to tears when my antennae picked up on a young self made motormouth boring someone else into their salad while espousing their philosophies of life, love and etiquette.

This guy was a clean cut decent looking fellow (aren't we all) describing how successful he was becoming at fleecing people out of their money designing websites for the needy souls of the corporate world. He was amazed at his own prowess and was hoping everyone else was just as interested. I had very nearly tuned out when he began a discourse on how his sister was single and would probably remain so forever.

He was strangling his poor fork with a closed fist covering the whole thing save the barely breathing tines. He began shovelling some salad concoction into his mouth while describing how his sister had so many bad habits that she'd never meet anyone who could tolerate them.

With mouth filled to near capacity and chewing wildly, he continued to talk saying he couldn't even set her up with any of his friends as they'd never be able to get past her bad habits. This from a chump with a food filled mouth practically spitting bacon bits in his poor captive's face. In some circles, talking with a mouth filled with food might be considered bad manners but what do I know? I never did go to finishing school.

I loved the sight and the sound. He couldn't have known how ridiculous he was. I've decided that if he was the one who finished charm school in his family, his poor sister indeed has no hope. Probably a relatively pretty young thing but powerless to stop picking her nose while in polite company.

I love the people. I hate the people. Maybe I'll go out for dinner again tonight.


Jonathan Livingstone SeaGerrrrls

Vicky recently lent me the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on DVD. I'd heard of but never seen it. Things did not bode well initially as I fell quickly into a short succession of naps whilst viewing. Being the soldier that I am, I gamely went back and picked up where I left off each time.

Accolades aside, what shall remain with me First, Last, Always! is the gathering of one of the most hideous female casts of all time. I think she's enormously talented but come on, don't you think that when Maggie Smith was born, someone had to have thought if not exclaimed aloud 'oh my, she looks 40 already'.

My gerrrrrls indeed: The headmistress, her near mute secretary, the other denizens of the school - ruff rough ruff. The young students weren't as jarring to look at with perhaps the exception of poor Mary MacDonald, our girl of the sideways looks, those eyes may haunt me for some time. And Mary with a stutter as well, doomed from the start.

It was a treat to see 'Hudson' from Upstairs, Downstairs (Gordon Jackson) in the cast and interesting to learn afterward that the art teacher Teddy Lloyd (Robert Stephens) was Maggie's real life husband at the time.

The film follows Jean Brodie teachings and attempts at molding her young students with what she believes to be a progressive vision of what a modern young woman should be. In a conservative school for gerrrrls, this causes a great deal of friction between Jean and the headmistress. Being a force of nature and a redhead however, there's no stopping her.

Jean's a bit lost and rather contemptible as you learn through shifts in your perception as events unfold. There's a definite tribute due the director, material and the performers in the subtlety of how this plays out. The climactic showdown between teacher and student Sandy who refuses to accept that Miss Brodie in indeed in her prime and qualified to pass on her wisdom is well worth the rather long viewing time.

Repetitive in parts, it was overall, a fine and enjoyable piece of work -- one of those films that the more you think about, the more it grows on you.


How Was Your Day Archie?

I'm on the train alone heading for work on a particularly unspectacular day but for the blinding sunshine. I describe it thusly as at one of the many intersections we cross, someone in a car is blinded by this same sunlight and manages to get stuck on the tracks. In a case of the best worst timing ever, the car gets stuck just as the train barrels along right into them. A shout from the conductor up front of Oh My God No! and then the worst metal crunching sound I've never heard in the movies assaults my ears.

Debris flies past my window. An empty water bottle, bits of dust and metal. I'm in the front car of the train. Need to rethink that. A horrible mess and an utter shock. We actually push the wreckage a good length before we can stop. Now it's an incredible day in the blink of an eye.

They announce over the P.A. that we've hit a car. People whisper and whimper. Someone starts to cry. We're ushered into the next car to wait for emergency personnel to attend the scene. Two hours of reflection and speculation pass until we're offloaded to buses. Some people go to work, some go home. I go on to work. Later that night, I go to a Sarah McLachlan concert which is great but because life isn't always, I'm somewhat distracted.

It takes some time to process this awful event. It becomes known that the person who was in the car and killed instantly was a young rabbi on his way to morning prayers. This makes you question your faith and other people's faith in the greater power.

I still startle if I hear any kind of loud sound while on the train like the lady whose cane occasionally hits the floor after coming loose from where she tucks it in beside her.

Weeks later and I'm talking to my father on the telephone. My father does not mean any harm. Really. He says So were you on the train that hit the Jew? It's just a question. He's a good man who although not politically correct, is not racist. He's just got a way with words. Or not. If my father rode the train (and wasn't my father), what would I think of him?


Sum 41

I am more than the sum of my parts. This must be true because I read it somewhere.


After The Highs And The Music

I think I very recently went on at some length about how wonderful life is, how music transports, how if we all just held hands and circled the globe...and that sort of thing.

I've crashed already.

Today was one of those stupid days *and it ain't over yet* where all the invisible conspirators are having a laugh at me.

I took a fairly new and somewhat expensive watch in to get the battery replaced - it doesn't need a battery, it needs Ziebarting: it's corroded inside.

I tried on a pair of pants, they refused to fit properly in any size: I'm not getting fatter, really.

I thought I'd drown my sorrows in a burger, I almost drowned in the warmed over grease it seemed to be topped with: I ate it anyway.

Then I bit my tongue: Can tongues put on weight?

I ordered a coffee with milk, they used cream: I am getting fatter.

Okay, so those are pretty minor things granted. But that's all in the space of about 45 minutes. I get fat fast!

I'm really looking forward to a brighter hour where I can say: that was a little bit of alright that was.





The tick is actually silent, the watch will still need repair.

iPod Is A 4 Letter Word

So is fear. Like the fear of having something playing on my beloved iPod that someone might deem uncool were they to intrude and ask what I'm listening to and me not have an answer prepared. I always do have an answer prepared. It's fuck off. I'm wearing headphones. Why would you think I'd want you to engage me? No, actually, I'm sure I'd think up something appropriately cool right on the spot and answer properly. Just like that.

Herein lies the crux. Cozying right up to Omara Portuondo is Olivia Newton John. Livvy - you know I honestly love you but... Coming straight after Red Hot Chili Peppers is Renee Zellweger singing her slender little heart out from Chicago. The White Stripes sweating right next door to Whitney Houston. You get the picture.

I imagine myself a victim of some senseless crime or crash where the emergency personnel first admire my fashion sense and then gingerly remove my headphones only to find that I've been felled while Stephen 'Tin Tin' Duffying my way across the street. They begin to laugh neglecting to give me the treatment I so urgently require. My last words might be, no really...I was just listening to classic Squeeze right before that came on...honest.


Biore or Why I Love My Life

Man I feel lucky sometimes. Whenever I'm feeling blah say, I can think back on some of the great things I've seen/heard in my life and that tempers the feeling.

Particular to why I feel lucky at this moment has to do with music. Be it a smoky jazz number, an aria or even a good rock or rap number, I got the music in me.

Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Omara Portuondo in concert. She was 'presented' by the Buena Vista Social Club. Shhh - confession: I've not actually seen the film BVSC but I know Omara's voice from a friend at work introducing me to her. I went with Arlene and Ssea who I don't see often but who are a lot of fun to be with. I pitched the idea to them and they were all for going whereas I couldn't muster much interest from other friends. Good for them! Good for me!

It was Omara's Flor de Amor tour supporting her latest album. I was familiar with most of the material which helps especially since she is Cuban and doesn't generally sing in English. It's beside the point that it's not in English really since the sound is so lovely and aren't all songs when they're boiled down about love, sex or death anyway?

She performed 8 of the numbers off the album and 7 or 8 others and kept Roy Thomson Hall alive for 2 hours. And actually she did sing one partly in English (The Man I Love).

The band of about 12 or 13 (hard to tell as they came on and left depending on the song) was smokin' hot and lively. Great musicians and a very spirited Omara. She was sweet like your friend's mother might be given a stage to dance and sing on. She sidled, sashayed and stepped all across the stage playing to the whole crowd. She incited us to clap, get up offa our seats and to sing along. There's nothing quite so freeing as singing at the top of your lungs when you're not even sure what you're singing. Again, I'm a white boy who speaks one language, the language of music. Couldn't resist. I meant English.

So Omara has me clapping and singing along happily and what I'm singing to mimic her and everyone else sounds like 'Biore'. Hmm, am I singing about pore strips here? Or maybe a love gone right? I'll never know. Don't care. I think the word sublime is overused but it fits here. I expected a good show and it was a great show. Sort of like a James Last Experience but more Latin. Ladies and gentleman, The James Latin Experience with Omara Portuondo! Everybody swing!

At ease with the crowd and clearly adored, Omara had no trouble letting her band shine which wasn't tough considering they were so tight. Everybody on the stage let loose. Okay so now I've made them tight and loose, I'll have to think on that.

When was the last time a violin solo got a standing ovation? Okay, maybe Lucia Micarelli on Josh Groban's tour with her unexpected rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody but that was a different thing. Hate to say it Josh but she outshone you.

What is it about Latin music that makes me throw my hands up in the air? I dunno. Ask Mercedes Sosa. She had the same effect on the crowd when I saw her a few years back. And she barely got up off of her stool. The crowd was frenzied and cheering for her too and she was like a raw force of nature.

Omara's orchestra were all great and a mix of young and more mature artistes. Rather than go on and on, let it stand at I can't say enough good but you really have to hear it/see the whole thing live. I can say that because I have.

I've sung proudly and loudly about the pore strips and now I'm off to bed.


The Electric Horseman Takes The A Train

He brought us together but I wonder if he'd have the power to tear us asunder? Would he understand the word asunder?

It was just one of those things. You know, you ride the train to work, you look at the people, you make up little histories or you think you know their personalities just from looking at them. Often you'd find you're totally wrong about people given the chance to get to know them but when you don't get that chance? You're right about everything.

I first saw him one wintry morn. I was nestled in my book, something assuredly brilliant, can't remember what exactly, when he got on the train. Do I need to clarify that the train was stationary? I get on at the first stop and being obsessive about being late for anything, I'm there a good 20 minutes before the train even thinks about moving toward the downtown core and my waiting work.

He was quite a sight, the kind that might make the good Lord cry out O Jesus God! Look at ya! I never meant for this... All of 5 foot tall and desperately trying to seem taller by wearing cowboy boots and a big cowboy hat. Also, an oversized rich tan suedy looking jacket to match the hat. The effect of course was to dwarf the little fella even more. Betrayed by his own lack of fashion sense among other things. Did I mention the craggy pock marked face and the fish eyes? No? Well, I don't think I need to get detailed, let's just accept that he was not your garden variety specimen of humanity ready to delight any and all comers. I did like that he was going for a look but loved it more that he was botching it with every breath.

After settling back and rejoining my book in progress, I was alarmed back to the point of actually having to turn and crane my neck at the sound. Someone was talking in that I've been everywhere man, I've seen everything man way but with the cadence more a croak than a steady sure tone. Someone was talking in a loud rasp. Stop and think about that. A croaking raspy voice only loud and cracking. It was him, the Electric Horseman speaking with a girl about some injustice or other. Wow, such a voice to match such a man. Sounds like he's got a solution for every problem from a PTA issue to world peace and global economics. He's got the whole world in his hands. If only they weren't so small.

I love the people watching on the train and he was just someone else for me to wonder about. A few days later, I saw him again but at the end of the day and on the ride home. Now commuters are a very special breed. There are all of three stops before the end of the line on my route. After the first stop on the way home, it's still another good 20 minutes to go. At this point, people start to crowd the doorway and jockey for position to be first out into the parking lot. At the last stop. Not the next one or the one after that, the last stop. These are the Runners.

Those train doors open and they start off pell mell down the steepish slope from the platform into the lot. Maniacs really. People bumping into each other and cars as they weave through the lot aching to be on their way. Car alarms are set off by the mad rush and crush of movement. It's just that manic and nuts. Sometimes I hold back a bit just to watch the spectacle.

Wouldn't you know it, the Cowboy is first out of the gate and I watch his little legs carry him to his waiting chariot, a Rabbit, one of the originals by the look of it. Nothing particularly wrong with a Rabbit. Not according to my sister anyway. She got hers when they first came out too but only after she studied Consumer Reports and other such publications. I don't want anything I've had to think that much about. He guns it, narrowly missing a couple of pedestrians as he motors out of the lot. This guy's a danger for sure.

Before long, I find myself paying extra attention to his antics. I hear him croaking on about all the assholes that he encounters everywhere, at work, in the neighborhood or anywhere really. He holds a couple of women who must work with him hostage with his rants. But then I see they're not so much hostages as participants in a strange dance of idiocy. I eventually suss out that one of the women lives near him and also seems to feel that everyone else but their small party is an idiot or asshole. The other girl doesn't say much but nods enough so that I understand she thinks the same way only she's maybe not as articulate.

The Cowboy and his little Cow Pattys. Quaint. Almost.

I'm waiting for the train on the platform one day behind a couple of other people. I've seen these two before chatting conspiratorially. To me, they're the ambiguously gay guy and his sassy unknowing wife. They seem nice enough and I can tell by watching them that they're people watchers too. They make comments with hands cupped at the sides of their mouths which rather than shrouding what they're doing only makes it more obvious.

The lady says something about that guy, you know, the one with the boots, well he almost spit on me the other day. I lean in, this sounds good. I was walking to the train in the morning and he came tearing around the corner and spit a big gob of gum out! He actually spit it out! It just missed me. The a.g. guy says you mean the guy who wears the cowboy hat and stuff? Yeah! Him! Well, I just glared at him and he said to me 'oh sorry, I didn't see you there' and I just said back to him 'yeah I know'. Can you believe him? Spitting! I lean back out. So, others seem to have an opinion of my little friend too, however mundane.

As luck would have it, I'd had a few days off and was glad to not have the Cowboy or anyone else in my sights. Ultimately, I'm a lone gunman. Like my quiet time, don't need the stimuli from the noisy world unless we're talking about the other times when I do need it.

Back in the same routine and line behind Sass and a.g. guy and he starts in with It's too bad you weren't on the train last night. Hmm, maybe they're not married. The hat guy got into an argument with another guy about driving too fast in the parking lot. No! You mean the guy with the boots and hat? Yes, the Cowboy. I had to. I leaned closer and said You mean the good lookin' fella? At this they both turned around, gauged my comment, accepted the sarcasm and laughed. Sass said to me I don't know who you are but I like you. They drew me into the rest of the story. Cowboy Bob had gotten into a bit of a shouting match on the train with another guy who was generally known to be quiet. Cowboy had nearly run him over and the guy mentioned to him that he should be more careful in the parking lot. Cowboy tried to shift the blame. Before they got to the gunslinging, the ride was over and they both ran to their respective cars.

Over time and with our shared love of observing the Cowboy at his worst (he didn't have a best), these two and I struck up a train friendship, even sat together on occasion. Nice people, both as sarcastic as me which I just had to love. Of course I actually edit my sarcasm output because what I often really want to say might make people more afraid than they really need to be at any given exchange with me.

It turns out they are married but their work schedules are all over the place and this is why they're not always on the same ride home. I can't remember why exactly, that would be boring. Feh.

We enjoy many catty chats about our favourite love to hate passenger, zee Cowboy. That's fun until he stops taking the train and we have to focus on others and ourselves for entertainment value on the ride home. There's a lot of good value for money with us together ridin' the rails though. Everyone's a target.

What would that little man think if he know he was personally responsible for forging such train friendships? I don't know. I wonder if that chick stuffed into the spandex could lend some insight.

Grouse Is A Dish Best Served Cold

I do so love a catchy title don't you? Sometimes that's all there is. Although I don't vividly remember the story itself, David Sedaris' Dinah The Christmas Whore is a title burned forever in my memory.


It's been brought to my attention (by me) that I cannot write unless I'm very interested in something, really happy about a particular event, pissed off or reviewing one event or another. Is there no middle ground? Perhaps this is it. Rambling around in my own brain looking for a way out.

A recurring thought - had I realized sooner that I, of all others, should by now be a literary scene darling pretending to hate the parties, I wouldn't be in this mess. You see, often I'll read something by one of the good Mssrs Sedaris, Lethem, Burroughs or Palahniuk, I think 'hey fucker, stop marauding around in my head and give me back my stuff'. Many's the time when I've already thought, said, described something in just the way one of them has and it makes me crazy/crazier.

Vicky and Sandra, booster commissionaires extraordinaires, tell me there there, you've got the Canadian perspective, the crazy family, the brilliant friends, just do it! They might be right.

I'll let you know how that works out for me. In between downloading songs for my iPod, my favourite inanimate object of late.