Tuesday, January 15, 2019


Don Rickles (seeing Frank Sinatra in the audience): "Make yourself at home, Frankie.  Hit someone!"

They say that the perfect Chinese insult is one that everyone understands, except the victim!

Did you know that the most popular Canadian movie ever was the teenage sex comedy Porky's?  When you think about it, that film's a Canadian caricature of Americans, as horny redneck slobs!  And the beauty of it is that very few Americans realized they were being insulted, like that Chinese insult.

When my older brother was in high school, people nicknamed him Bonehead.  Then I came along and got nicknamed Baby Bonehead! (It wasn't the happiest time of my life.) What really annoyed me was being expected to ignore it all.

I read that in India one insult is to call someone "brother in law." That's their way of saying, "I screwed your sister!" ("Stepson" would be even better...)

Ever hear Yo Momma jokes?  They're African-American insults that go like, "Yo Momma so stupid, it takes her two hours to watch 60 Minutes!" or "Yo Momma so fat, when she sits around the house she sits around the house!" or "Yo Momma so poor, I saw her kicking a can down the street and asked what she was doing, and she said, 'Moving house'!"

Friday, January 11, 2019

Imaginary friends

"Imagination is more important than knowledge"--Einstein

Sometimes I think all of my friends are imaginary. (Just kidding!)

When I was a teenager I imagined someone who wasn't really a friend, but kept criticizing me.  Finally I imagined killing him and burying him under a lilac tree!

In more recent years, I've fantasized about having a blind girlfriend.  This means, my shrink suggested, that I see myself as ugly.  But I think it's more the idea of a girl who depends on me.

The TV show Barney the Dinosaur is sort of about an imaginary friend.  When kids get to eight or so and become too old for the show, they really hate it!  I've heard of kids reciting, "I hate you, you hate me, let's hang Barney from a tree!"

And there's also the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes, about a boy and his tiger.  It's a really funny work!  If Beau Geste's only redeeming virtue was courage, Calvin's only one is being imaginative.  In one episode he said, "I'm destined for greatness!  I just know it!" and Hobbes said, "Boy, will you have to pay up to keep me from talking about you!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Love at first sight

Can't say I know much about love at first sight, or second, or third...  I once saw a funny Dracula spoof with the title Love at First Bite.

I sometimes wonder how my parents fell in love. (They first met as students at Mount Allison University around 1950.) They were far from the passionate type:  I never saw them kissing.  I'm pretty dispassionate too.

I suppose that love at first sight is a fiction cliche. (You can avoid the difficult business of showing a relationship gradually developing.) One thing I liked about Charles Frazier's Civil War novel Cold Mountain is that the lovers were cautious, even reluctant.  Which is what you'd expect of them in a wartime setting.  I also liked the book's line about slavery: "It made the rich ugly and proud, and it made the poor mean."

The movie of Cold Mountain I can take or leave.  They cast Nicole Kidman as Ada and Renee Zellweger as Ruby. While Renee could have played either role, I saw Nicole more as Ruby.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A first date

There's a first time for everything.  The first time I went to the movies was at age three, possibly the goofy Disney campus comedy The Monkey's Uncle. (It had something to do with a flying machine.) The thing I remember was that the sun went down during the movie, so it was dark when we came out.

The first time I was in the hospital (besides being born) was at age 15, for ulcer treatment.

The first time I rode an airplane was at age 17, when my parents and I went to Britain and France for a month.  Looking out the window, I noticed that the plane had Rolls-Royce jet engines.

The first time I had a colour TV was at age 19, when we lived in England for a few months.  The first time we had a video player I was 23.  The first time we had an internet connection I was 34.  The first time we had a DVD player I was 39, I think.  The first time we had HDTV I was 50 or 51.

Also, the first time I sang karaoke was on a cruise ship on the Yangzi River when I was 38. (I sang "Hey, Jude.")

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Carrots & Popeye the Sailor

One thing we usually grow in our garden is carrots.  The really hard part is thinning them, pulling out the greater part so that the rest will have room to grow. (I always let my sister Moira do that.)

I've always enjoyed eating carrots. (I'd make a good horse.) That's something I have in common with Bugs Bunny.  I remember this cartoon where he and Daffy Duck climbed a beanstalk and met up with a giant Elmer Fudd. (At one point they ran around inside his hollow head!) In the end, Bugs was running away but ran into this giant carrot patch, so it was a happy ending for him.

Giuseppe, my former singing teacher, is a man of firm opinions.  He loves the old Popeye cartoons, but hates The Simpsons, which he called "grotesque." I said, "Well, Popeye's a bit grotesque too," and he said, "That's different!  Popeye is a caricature." I guess it's a matter of perspective.

Since I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, whenever someone asks how I feel about it, I quote Popeye the Sailor: "I yam what I yam!"

Monday, December 24, 2018

First Grade

What do I remember about Grade One?  I remember the teacher singing "We are marching to Pretoria." And being introduced to Christina Rossetti's poem "Who Has Seen The Wind?" (At least I think it was Grade One.)

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves are trembling
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

When you think about it, that poem is really about God.  Only in later years did I learn that it was a product of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in art and poetry in Victorian Britain. (The author was married to another Pre-Raphaelite poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.)

I'm glad I've managed to memorize a few poems.  Back in pre-literate times they'd pass on culture in the form of memorized songs and poems.

One I remember is a Sappho poem, translated by Isak Dinesen. (Or at least she used this translation in Out of Africa.)

The moon has sunk, and the Pleiades,
And midnight is gone.
And the hours are passing, passing...
And I lie alone.

And I remember one by Robert Frost:

The way a crow shook down on me
A dust of snow from a hemlock tree
Has given my heart a change of mood
And saved some part of a day I had rued.

And another:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn gives way to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Want to hear an embarrassing '70s memory?  Back in the summer of 1977, they played the disco version of the Star Wars theme on the radio so much that I thought that was the theme! (This was before I saw the movie itself.  We lived in a small town, and the movie only reached us well into the fall.)

The series overall I can take or leave, I guess. (It owes a lot to the Flash Gordon serials.) It got pretty cheesy in Attack of the Clones when they escaped by putting gum in their handcuffs!  I didn't dislike Rogue One as much as some people did, but the ending (spoiler alert!) reminded me of something from when I was little.

I was one of five kids and we'd sometimes put on these Biddle Family plays.  The one rule about them was that everyone had to die in the end, so we'd die in all these different ways.  Anyhow, Rogue One had everyone dying in the end, which reminded me of the Biddle Family. (It also reminded me of the grimly purposeful war movies of the 1940s, but that's another story.)

Quentin Tarantino's western The Hateful Eight is another movie with a Biddle Family ending...