Monday, October 25, 2010

Harrowing Halloween

Pillow cases bulging, practically bursting at the seams from the mounds and masses of candy I had collected "trick or treating"; my memories of Halloween drip with the breathless anticipation that seized me the moment I headed out the door, my scratchy Spiderman mask held against my face by one of those flimsy elastic strands!

The entire process, the chill, the dark, the unfamiliar doors, the outstretched hands, the tumbling chunks of treasure, the colorful sorting, the self-imposed rationing, was sheer delight!

Like the most fervent "trick or treaters", I scoffed at the darkened houses of the horrible Halloween scrooges and sneered at the grinches, who cheerfully handed out crummy apples and pennies! When climbing the steps of a well-decorated house, owned by an obvious Halloween enthusiast, I steeled my nerves for the inevitable case of the creeps that would infect me.

It was riotous fun!

I've always wanted to keep the Halloween traditions alive, carving a pumpkin, giving out candy and making young "trick or treaters" squirm, by wearing a mask.

As far as I can tell, I'm doing everything right! Yet, lately, Halloween has become a harrowing ordeal.

As fate would have it, one of the most ardent Halloween scrooges sleeps beside me, while her accomplice sleeps down the hall!

As soon as I buy the candy, their self-proclaimed, giggle-infested mission is to locate and ruthlessly raid the stash. What is that about? Surely, they've seen candy bars before!

Last night, while relaxing in front of the television, Susan happened to watch a commercial for peanut butter cups. It apparently triggered a sudden and uncontrollable compulsion to ingest one. Not only did she casually inform me I had peanut butter cups in my Halloween stash, she raced to the room where I kept it, determined to eat her fill!

As I got up to prevent the transgression, Tristan jumped on my back, trying ro restrain me. By the time I managed to claw my way to the room, the door was locked! Tristan continued to wrestle and restrain me, shouting updates to his mother, urging her to quickly eat as many as she could. By the time I got the door unlocked, Susan had gobbled her way through three, possibly four, packs of peanut butter cups! It was a frightfully ghoulish sight, with torn candy wrappers strewn everywhere and the woman of my dreams, sitting on the floor, feverishly ripping another pack open, as her frantically chomping jaws attempted, in vain, to ease the strain against her bulging cheeks.

At this rate, I'll be lucky to have empty wrappers to hand out to "trick or treaters"!

Not only do Susan and Tristan raid my candy stash, they scold me for handing out too much candy! They snarl and snap as they demand, "Why do you give out so much?" I'm not exagerrating; they're nasty about it!

Granted, I scoop liberally, but to hear the "ooo's" and "aah's" of the children, brings me back to the highlights of my own Halloweens.

My Halloween grinches eat the candy before I can give it out. They tell me I give out too much candy and they refuse to go to the door to hand out candy themselves! They grumble about the age of the taller "trick or treaters" and suspect certain "trick or treaters" are returning to our door more than once.

Who are these people? Isn't there supposed to be some vague shred of genetic similarity?

I'm amazed that, in this day and age, people still have enough faith in society to allow their children to knock on strangers' doors and eat goodies strangers give them. I can't let these people down and, in the name of "how it used to be", I will continue to battle the forces of, let's face it, gluttony.

There's nothing spookier than this pair, at this time of year. I should carve Susan and Tristan's likenesses into the pumpkins we place on our stoop! Of course, then, people would be far too afraid to even approach our house. Besides, fewer "trick or treaters" would play right into their hands and I can already hear them snorting and grunting, excitedly, "More candy for us!"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Canada's Cruel Joke

The public's memory is at best short-term; it's a statement I've heard many times with regard to scandalized politicians seeking re-election. Unfortunately, the statement is as true as it often is nauseating. Society doesn't necessarily "forgive and forget", but it definitely and inexcusably, "forgets".

Lately, I've begun to wonder whether the public has any memory at all. How can Karla Homolka be allowed to raise children and freely walk our streets? Back in 1995, many Canadians were pointing to Homolka and Paul Bernardo as justifications for bringing back the death penalty.

Their victims were 14 and 15 year old schoolgirls, who were sexually abused and tortured, before being strangled to death. In equally twisted circumstances, with video camera humming, Homolka murdered her own sister with Bernardo's help.

The case prompted the Canadian Police Association to call for the return of capital punishment. The death penalty was eliminated from the Criminal Code in 1976, although it remained part of the National Defence Act for such crimes as desertion, cowardice in the face of the enemy, violent mutiny, unlawful surrender and spying for the enemy. It was finally removed from the Act in 1997.

In exceptional cases, with the ultimate choice belonging to the victim's family, capital punishment should be brought back. Weak-kneed, self-righteous bleeding hearts, preaching about the moral evolution of civilization, will, ultimately, prevent capital punishment from coming back. If it were to be brought back, Colonel Russell Williams should be shoved to the front of the line.

As far as I'm concerned, it's precisely to underscore the sanctity of life that it should be reinstated.

Whether it's drunk drivers being convicted for their twelth consecutive offence, drunk former airline pilots fatally running down pedestrians, a daycare molester being released back into the community, a deranged immigrant beheading a young bus passenger, a murderous pig farmer, or teenagers beating a minister and his wife to death as they sleep, justice in Canada is a joke.

It's enough that bullies, who routinely withhold basic respect for fellow citizens and their property, are allowed to live among us, but it revolts and infuriates me that overtly grotesque monsters are permitted to do the same.

The colonel won't meet justice in the courtroom, but perhaps he'll meet it in jail.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Win and Vanish

Close game, but he won again!
Tristan continues to carry the title of reigning household ping pong champ.

I was in the process of downloading more material onto my iPod, when he came downstairs, curious to know what I was doing.
My iPod is at 4060 songs and counting; as previously confessed in my blog of August 25th, I'm crazed.

Anyway, Tristan suggested we play.
As a desperate underdog and one eagerly itching to assume control of the ever-elusive household ping pong crown, I heartily agreed.
I led.
I trailed.
I trailed.
I led
I lost.
Eager for a rematch because hope really does spring eternal, I went to change the CD from "Sandy Nelson" to "Rihanna" and dashed back to the ping pong table only to find two abandoned paddles and remnants of my tattered pride.
I'm beginning to suspect the secret to his success is "win and vanish", that way you don't risk a rematch going awry and you can continue admiring your shiny crown in the mirror.

In spite of my ping pong defeat, it's been a good day!
I know Tristan will agree.
You see, we managed to persuade Susan to come out to play a touchfootball game.
I paired with one of Tristan's unsuspecting buddies.
Tristan paired with his Mom, who, in spite of mounds of evidence to the contrary, continues to politely insist she is "not competitive"!
They won.
For a visiting fifteen year old friend, there seems to be something unsettling about looking up and seeing a mother hurtling down the field in your direction.
I can't imagine why that would be.
Then again, it's probably not so much her blistering speed, as it is all the snarling and frothing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Colors of Fall

Autumn is the ideal season to marvel at the changing colors and, for politicians of wobbly principle, it must be their favorite time of year.

There are reports former Parti Quebecois ministers Francois Legault and Joseph Facal are in the process of forming a sovereignty-free political movement. Its focus would be the economy, although most observers seem fairly certain the movement will never become a party. For his labelling of the Clarity Act as "crap", his accusations that Stephane Dion had "totalitarian impulses" and  his dismissal of  a possible revival of constitutional talks as a "schizophrenic pipe dream", the ever-eloquent Facal is certainly known to Quebecers.

Luckily, credibility, integrity and moral substance are not prerequisites for becoming a politician. To change one's political color from black to white is to invite the burning question, "What were you thinking?" Yet, on it goes, men and women pulling their political stripes on and off  like childrens' Halloween costumes!

It's utterly nonsensical! Stand up for what you believe in and believe in what you stand up for, otherwise, go back to the hole you were living in and spend a little time getting to know your own mind!

Before becoming Liberal justice minister and, more recently, honorary monkey wrench, Marc Bellemare was a Parti Quebecois cabinet minister.

Before becoming a Liberal cabinet minister, Raymond Bachand was a former private secretary to PQ leader Rene Levesque. Five years ago, Bachand decided Quebec can easily develop and flourish within the federal framework, which is why, he pointed out, separation is not needed. Former Parti Quebecois Premier Pierre-Marc Johnson said in 1992, he was no longer convinced separation could be justified. He said the four reasons for a nation to become independent, oppression, cultural affirmation, overlapping constitutional jurisdictions and economic autonomy, could all be dealt with within federalism. A year later, Pierre-Marc Johnson was being talked about as a possible leader of the Quebec Liberal Party!

How can you work to pull our great country apart and then, abruptly, stop and say, hey, we really don't need to do this after all?

Guy Bertrand, in 1993, dismissed separatism as the work of a frustrated nationalist elite involved in an "outmoded debate which is full of hate". Bertrand was a founding member of the Parti Quebecois and, at one time, ran for its leadership.

In 2000, Nic Leblanc, a founding member of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, renounced sovereignty and, together with fellow Bloc MP Richard Belisle, jumped to the Canadian Alliance.

Richard LeHir resigned from the Parti Quebecois in 1996 and, two years later, called federalism the best bet for the future of Quebec. He also urged the provincial government to set aside the linguistic debate, arguing it "projects an image of racism and intolerance".

In 2004, former Bloc Quebecois member Jean Lapierre announced he was running for the Liberals in Outremont.

Lucien Bouchard was fitted for a "top of the line" impact-resistant helmet in the hopes of preventing repeated concussions as he bounced like a blurred pinball from federal Tory cabinet minister to the separatist Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois.

While separatists seek to build fences and destroy the Canada we know and love, federalists seek to improve upon what we have now. To think politicians have the inherent ability to switch from "destruct" mode to "construct" mode is as ridiculous as saying PQ leader Pauline Marois speaks English to her children at home, or former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau chooses to be treated at a predominantly English hospital.

Marois does speak English to her kids and you know where to find Jack when he's sick.

Politicians are not that sophisticated. They're regular people pursuing power, not people promising poise and principle, but therein lies the strength of the democractic system; "government of the people, by the people, for the people".

You get what we are, warts and all.

Thankfully, some of our political leaders know what they're talking about and manage to stand, solid and strong, like oak trees, in the face of howling winds of change and suddenly shifting political climate.

With their intensity and variety, the colors of fall stun and dazzle, but perhaps their most astounding characteristic is their unpredictability.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Beanie Baby Mentality

I just hung up the phone with BBM.
If it exists, I should probably subscribe to the universal values and virtues newsletter.
I certainly hope there hasn't been an update and honesty still is the best policy.
I took the dogs for a walk this morning and when I got back, I decided to check the answering machine.
There are times when, inadvertently, Susan and Tristan forget to tell me I was left a message on the machine.
I've discovered my random spot checks of the answering machine can sometimes reveal gold.
I decided to listen to the last message that came in and, as it turns out, it was someone from the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement calling to do a phone survey on our television viewing habits.
They left a call-back number.
I called back and was told they would contact us tonight. They asked me what the best time to call would be, to which I replied, after five o'clock, because, by then, Susan is home.
I get home later.
I was just sitting at the computer tonight, when the phone rang.
Glancing at the call display, I saw the letters "BBM".
I answered and the woman explained the survey would take six minutes.
I told her, as agreeably as I could, I would be happy to do the survey.
The doomed and brief exchange went something like this:
Question 1, "What were you doing when the phone rang?"
Answer 1, "Working on the computer."
Question 2, "Are you over 18 and a member of the household?"
Answer 2, "Yes."
Question 3, "Do you, or does anyone in your household, work in the media, for a television station, or for a radio station?"
I paused, trapped.
Answer 3, delivered with detectable reluctance, "Yes, I work in the media."
Declaration 4, "Then you are not eligible to participate in this poll. I apologize for wasting your time."
I could feel the scratching of precious ratings, slipping like grains of sand, through my fingers .
I could have royally, heftily and gleefully skewed those television viewing results in favor of the television station where I'm working.
Has there been an update, are nice guys still finishing last?
Of course, the question I was most itching to answer, was, "Who is your favorite news anchor?"
Tee hee.

Friday, October 1, 2010

International Music Day

It started with singing in the elementary school choir and, enthusiastically, evolved into bongo drums, a drum set, buying records, school music classes, high school bands, guitar, songwriting, rock bands, studio recordings, solo performances, a jazz trio, anthem singing and, along the way, music has steadily lifted, thrilled and saved me!

My iPod (see Aug 22 & 25th blogs) is at 3502 songs. I thought it would be fun on International Music Day, to list fifty favorite songs and reasons why, in a word, I like each one.

Chemistry - Semisonic (cheeky)
Suite: Clouds, Rain - David Gates (magical)
Dragonfly - Mahogany Rush (solid)
Wild Eyes - Stampeders (classic)
Get Down Tonight - KC & The Sunshine Band (boogies)
Sweet Emotion - Aerosmith (stellar)
Teacher - Van Halen (bratty)
Killer Queen - Queen (slick)
Until The Night - Billy Joel (brooding)
What A Fool Believes - Doobie Brothers (brilliant)
Hot Blooded - Foreigner (awesome)
Being Alone Together - David & David (honest)
Control - Puddle of Mudd (raw)
Wednesday Morning 3am - Simon & Garfunkel (exquisite)
You Shook Me - AC DC (mighty)
Ordinary World - Duran Duran (shines)
Sailing - Christopher Cross (smooth)
I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight - Neil Diamond (dreamy)
Love's Theme - Love Unlimited Orchestra (sparkles)
New Girl Now - Honeymoon Suite (gritty)
I Really Love You - Ian Thomas (bare)
Another You - Nat King Cole (touching)
Belief - John Mayer (stirring)
En Pleine Face - Harmonium (pretty)
Time - Alan Parsons (silky)
Mediterranean Sundance - Al Dimeola (energetic)
The Air That I Breathe - Hollies (inspiring)
Calling Out - Leon Parker (compelling)
Call On Me - Chicago (posh)
Time After Time - Bireli Lagrene & Sylvain Luc (wails)
Concierto - Jim Hall (soothing)
Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder (bustin')
All Or Nothing At All - Frank Sinatra (grand)
Brother To Brother - Gino Vanelli (sweeping)
2001 Space Odyssey - Deodato (visionary)
Basically Blues - Buddy Rich (swings)
Chameleon - Herbie Hancock (innovative)
Well You Needn't - Gonzalo Rubalcaba (frenzied)
Give It One - Maynard Ferguson (blisters)
Sympathy For the Devil - Rolling Stones (sears)
House At Pooh Corner - Loggins & Messina (endearing)
Funk #49 - James Gang (gigantic)
Pretty Lady - Lighthouse (irresistible)
Invincible - Chantal Kreviazuk (sweet)
Pick Up the Pieces - Average White Band (funky)
Fever - Madonna (grooves)
One Step Closer - Linkin Park (thrashes)
She Sells Sanctuary - The Cult (powerful)
Get It On - Chase (sizzles)
Go Down Gamblin' - Blood Sweat & Tears (roars)