Thursday, December 31, 2009


You have to show up at the cinema about ninety minutes early to find a seat on New Year's Eve... unless you enjoy having your neck cocked back about 180 degrees while your eyes stare straight up at the screen for two hours. Last two seats.  Directly beneath the screen.
I could have done it, mind you, because as my family knows, I am in the best physical condition of my life.*  But the missus said no.  So we came home.
Gonna have some brewskis and play the Seinfeld game I got for Xmas.

Anyhoo... Happy New Year.

* That is a phrase my father used just before his hip replacement at age 83.  It is used around these parts as a gentle mockery of yours truly.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Well, 2009 is nearly shot to shit.  And in Afghanistan, five more Canadians have met the same fate.

We have two more years left on our pledge.  To keep 2500 men engaged there.  Because we want to...think it's important that... the strategy demands....

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I work in a K to 6 school.  When the kids leave us, they're eleven or twelve.  And that's when time stops.  Your last glimpse of them is at Grade Six graduation, scrubbed and tailored, smiling, and still pre-teen.  The snapshots in your mind do not age.  And that's why it's such a shock when you meet them again (at the mall, at the rink, at the grocery store) and they're all grown up, late teens to mid-twenties, university graduates now... or, young people with jobs and babies in tow.  It's always such a kick to see them, especially at this time of year.  (Nine times out of ten, they recognize me long before I recognize them.  And sometimes I need to be coached to make the connection.  Sorry, Tracey.)

What makes me happy is that they cared enough to remember an old fart who corrected their grammar and spelling, chewed them out when it was necessary, and expected results.  But really, they don't remember any of that. What they tell me they remember is the fun they had. Fun! In school? Go figure. Which is why, whenever I entertain the thought of packing it in early -- and let me tell you, it often doesn't seem like much fucking fun -- I figure I'll carry on a little longer.

Because there are always (more than) a few who need a laugh.  And a safe place to be.

Besides, I probably wouldn't have a clue what to do with myself otherwise.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This time next year (assuming I'm still breathing), the novel should be finished and working its way to the top of Joe Blow's slush pile.  A year or so after that, I'll likely be taking early retirement (assuming I haven't died on the job from cooties).  Then I can concentrate on doing what I love best: working the kitchen, here at The Lunch Counter.
In addition to offering the finest in charbroiled roadkill, The Lunch Counter prides itself on its desserts.
And today, we're making dessert. 

Note: I'm the young guy cooking the bacon.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


2009 is on life support.  Nearly kaput.  There's even a whiff of decay in the air.  (Unless that's just my dog passing a silent comment regarding the Christmas turkey.)

There have been worse years, of course.  And much worse places to have lived through them.  Pick a year.  Pick a country. Ask your grandparents.  Read some history and count your blessings.

So, for all its failings (like not killing off all the bad people but stuffing countless tons of good ones down its maw), 2009 was not too bad.  Just business as usual.  Because years aren't good or bad.  Those words only apply to people.  (Of course, weather can be bad -- just ask the folks in the U.S. midwest.  And tainted meat ain't no joy.  Likewise viruses and skunky beer.  And killer fucking diseases.  And inanimate objects that resemble, in every significant way, Stephen Harper and Sarah Palin.  Then there's head lice, projectile vomiting, and as Stephen Colbert will tell you, bears.  Still, we're simply talking about a passage of time.  A year in the life.  Jeebus, get a grip.)

Right.  Ahem....

So here's hoping for a banner year in 2010.  May your meat be untainted, your immune system strong (and if you drop by my school, please bring rubber gloves, lye soap, paper towels and full body armor.)

Have a good one, kids.


Inside the wrapping paper I found:

A boxed set of The Honeymooners (in scrumptious B&W);
The newest Fawlty Towers boxed set, with interviews and outtakes;
A Seinfeld board/DVD game;
A briefcase to carry all my stuff to and from school;
A bottle of wine, some socks, and a hooded sweatshirt. (I also got a set of thermal underwear for yard duty.)

Nice haul. Thanks, Santa.

Hope you all had a good one.

Oh yeah, the turkey is delicious.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Visited with old friends tonight and had a blast.  I'm pretty drunk now.  But happy and mellow.

I hope this occasion -- whatever it means to you -- finds you content and among people you love.  (I'm an atheist who piggy-back's on Christmas. Hell, I'll always take a free ride to a good time.)

And tomorrow, we eat turkey.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009



Let us commence the airing of grievances....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The house reeks of protein.  You know the smell.  Think liver.

Yup, the wife is in the kitchen making chicken liver pate.  I don't go near the stuff but most of our friends gobble it up.  I get the willies (and the heebie-jeebies) just thinking about that crap.  I'm up here working on a novel but the smell is beginning to infect the story.  Thank heaven for Febreze.  And beer.

There are a number of seasonal (so-called) treats I can't abide.  Eggnog and certain soft cheeses spring immediately to mind.  Also Gin and Tonic.  Maybe it's because my first throw-up happened with gin.  I don't recall all the particulars, but my high school buddies had to take me to the laundromat and wash my clothes.  (I'm still embarrassed about the damage I rendered to the upholstery of Billy's car.)

They say smell is the strongest trigger for memory.  So....

I'm just glad my parents weren't into liver.  That might well have ended my writing career before it began.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I'm sitting here, mellowed out, thinking about Christmases past.  And I remember how hard my dad worked to put stuff under the tree for my brother and me.  Mum was in and out of hospitals (mostly the psych wards) when we were small.  I don't know how my father kept it all together.

 I remember being small and waiting for him to come home.  And the back door opening.  He smelled like wind and snow and soot from the foundry.  His hands were strong but his back was bent. I recall the freezing touch of his cheek when he grabbed us up.  And the cocoa he made for us.

His final Christmas -- six months before the nursing home and four more until his death --  he looked out the window on Christmas Eve.  Across the river, a few miserable street lights.  But he saw colour and shapes.  "Look at that," he said.  "Can you see it all?"  So we had a beer, watching the street lights through the snow.  The tiny pinpricks of pale light that he thought were marvelous.  Like a kid again. Him.  And me, too.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Friday was a fun day at school.  Party central. The kids were fucking nuts (of course) it being but seven days until Santa drops a load down the chimney and all.  But they were nuts in a good way.  And the ones who have the hardest lives had the biggest smiles on their little chops.  Most of these kids realize that school is a good place to be. (It beats the hell out of foster care; you know, those interim placements that separate you from your siblings while mum and dad struggle with jail and rehab.) The hugs and hand-drawn cards and toothless smiles get me every time.  And you want to gather them up and take them home.  But you can't.  You want to help, but you can only do so so much.  And on the drive home, you think about them.  And you're thankful for your job.  But sometimes the job hurts.  Not as much as the kids hurt, though.  Not ever that much.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This being the holiday season, The Lunch Counter is offering something, er, seasonal.  It's called The Smoking Bishop. (Insert your own joke here.)  This festive drink is mentioned at the end of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and sounds like suitable fare for a derelict, 19th century establishment such as this one.  Here is the recipe(We've already made a tub of the stuff.  And it is quite good.)  Bowls of Smoking Bishop are on the house.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I just changed the background to my desktop.   I feel like I'm on vacation.
A change is as good as a rest, eh?

The wife and I went to her company's Christmas party last night.  The food was great.  And we won the centrepiece at our table.  (Plus, we got four free tickets for drinks. I tipped the barkeep heavily.)  The centrepiece has a large candle and a glass chimney.  Probably come in handy when she's laid-off next month, i.e. for heat and warmth.

My hands are always cold.

Arsenal beat Liverpool today.  Good job, lads.  (Always nice to throttle the opposition on the road.)  2010 is gonna be cool -- the Olympics AND the World Cup.  I can dig the former, but I love the latter.

Last week of school (before the Xmas break) starts tomorrow.  Despite the weather, it's the funnest week of the year.  Nearly all the work is done... and parents send in food.

The wife and I celebrate 37 years of marriage at the end of the month.  I have no idea where the time went.


P.S.  you can also visit me here.

Friday, December 11, 2009


When I was young, poetry was my vehicle of choice.  Not these days.  I've written fewer than a dozen poems in the past ten years. Back then, writing poetry was like riding a wave of orgasms.  But I'm an old bastard now.  I need to breathe slowly and deeply and take my time.  These days, even my short stories aspire to be novellas.  And like their creator, they are slower to climax... but are much more playful.

You'd think the opposite would be the case: write it fast and quit fucking around, old man.  What, you think you're gonna live forever?

Funny, isn't it?  Over the years, I've actually become more patient despite the incessant, needling, nut-kicking tick-tock of the old genetic clock.  Go figure.

Maybe I'm just blindly betting that time won't take me -- wouldn't have the audacity to croak me -- before the novel is finished.  (And that won't be any time soon.  Not with all the beer I plan to drink.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


It is still hard to accept.

We were all supposed to get old together.

Him leading the way.

Hey, John: I'm still standing by.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I suppose if I were a Tweeter, my recent messages would have looked like this:

I'm in the bathroom having a dump.

I'm washing my hands.

The dog just farted.

I'm on my third beer now.

TWITTER: The tool for real tools.

By the way... I don't know how it works and I really don't care. But I would like to know this:

Why do (young) people feel the need to keep in constant touch with each other? Are we witnessing a generation who actually despise privacy? What the fuck are they afraid of?

And the whole Facebook thing. Migawd. Unfriending people? In public? What the fuck is that all about? Jeebus.

I find all this stuff to be scary as hell, violently anti-social, a psychopath's wet-dream. Glad I'll be dead soon.

OOH... new Tweet, y'all: I'm on my fourth beer now.

Friday, September 11, 2009


I've been gone so long I forgot my password. Took me twenty minutes to recollect the bastard. When I finally muscle my way through the rusted front door and into the kitchen ( nearly impassable due to the bloated rat carcasses and the ghost of Franz Schubert), I have a moment of self-realization.

I'm getting too old for this shit.

I don't think I give a fuck no more.

It was kind of a hoot. But then Andy died.

* * *

Some final thoughts:

I hope the American people wind up with something approaching a sensible, compassionate health care system.

I hope that everyone who has ever dropped by this place is in love and loved in return. Always.

I hope we leave Afghanistan last night.

And I hope my fucking car starts tomorrow.

Friday, August 21, 2009


This is my 100th post. (Well, to be accurate, I've written and published close to a thousand hot and cold lunches over the past four years. But I tend to remove all traces of this slipshod diner every year or so. And that's down to govmint revenooers.)


It's been a fucked-up summer. I can tell it's gonna be a lousy winter.

Enjoy the swine flu. If I survive, which is unlikely (I work with hordes of germ-laden kids, after all) I promise to lower the prices... at least on the pork chops.

Later. Much.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


That's the editing process. Putting the fucks in the right places. (I'm talking about the word, not the deed. Jeez, I ain't no pornographer.)

So far this weekend, I've taken out three fucks and redistributed the remaining two. At about 2500 words, that's a fuck every 1250 words or so, or roughly one every five pages. Makes the story stronger. Try it at home.

You're welcome.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Wow. Forty years since Woodstock.

And the music has gone down hill ever since.

It's all celebrity this and that.

Like TV.

Down hill. Like the internal organs of people my age.

Will the 'Death Panels' at least play some decent tunes while they're shoving razors up our asses?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Well, he would wouldn't he? After all, he's apparently a secret Muslim, apparently born in Kenya, apparently a raving socialist, and oh yeah, he's apparently black. I think it's that last one that really has some hillbillies' knickers in a twist.

Sweet fuck. What year is this?


I'm finding the American health care debate enormously entertaining. Fucking guys bringing guns (and dropping same) to town hall meetings; people screaming about the Constitution (I guess there's plenty about guns in that document, but not so much on government options for health care); and my favourite, the real howler, yes indeed, the 'Pull the Plug on Grandma' debate, better known as The Death Panel, or some such shit. (Really and truly, how stupid can some people be?) Obama's gotta be thinking: I'm the leader of the dumbest, most easily duped people on the face of the earth.

Ah, hell. Thank heavens for August. And American news channels. Fucking hilarious. Makes my problems seem tiny by comparison.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


When I was thirteen, I fell in love with a girl who sat behind me in school. She was in the choir, she played baseball, she was absolutely adorable.

She was also rehearsing for "My Fair Lady", a joint project between several schools. (Now, I can't sing now and I couldn't sing then, but I went to the auditions -- because it involved walking across town after school in the company of this young lady. And wouldn't you know -- I got a part in the fucking chorus.)

I got to hold hands. I got to kiss her. I got to know her family. We went skating (hand-holding actually sanctioned by society) and played catch in the park. We climbed trees together and smoked cigarettes in a cave near the river. She loved wearing dresses, even though she was a bit of a girl-jock. She had four brothers, one of whom wound up on the same Little League team as me. We became great friends, the brother and I. And I guess that's when the bloom fell off the rose. Her name is Diane and I met her again, several years ago, when her aunt turned 90. (Her aunt and my mother were friends.)

Why is this important?

It's not. I'm just typing out loud.

Life is kids and old folks. Love and death.

And tonight, Diane.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Aw fuck.

Just fuck. Since I last made a post:

Our friends lost their 23 year-old son. Suicide.

My wife's brother died. Left no will.

My mother is very sick.

Fuck. Just fuck.

I can't wait to get back to work. Where the shit you have to deal with has to wait at least long enough for your replacement to show up. Sometimes, an hour is a vacation.

Fuck me. Just fuck. One step at a time.

I hate the god damned telephone, by the way. And I'm gonna be pissed to the gills any minute.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Gonna take some time off. The two guys below are in charge until I get back. (Don't order the salmon.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I just picked these at random from my (mostly vinyl) collection and went to YouTube for the vids. This is not a 'best of' or 'my favourites' compilation. Just a few songs that somehow mattered... or struck a chord... at the time.

I was born in the 1940's. (Closer to the the ass end of that decade than the start. I didn't know Hitler personally.)

I grew up in the 1950's. (I'm still growing up -- all this shrinkage to the contrary notwithstanding.)

I came of age in the 1960's. (Back then, few of us thought we'd live this long. I never thought I'd live this long. And I wasn't even in a rock and roll band.)

I got married in the 1970's. (Same woman, bless her heart, for nearly thirty-seven years now. She's a glutton for punishment.)

Shit happened in the 1980's. (Bad shit, for the most part. Depression, miscarriage, near divorce, and all the rest. And I mean ALL. But this song always put a smile on my face.)

The 1990's gave us a son. (Back on track. On meds. Wanting to live. Doing a passable imitation of same.)

And the rest is (also) history.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It has been a strange summer around these parts. Well, perhaps not strange. Just wet. Lots of wetness and sky liquid. And I actually don't mind it. (I only hate rain when school is in -- because the recesses are indoors. And they really need to burn off that energy -- outside -- so they don't get grumpy and restless and then 'splode, real good, about 1:15 in the afternoon when I'm trying to tell 'em about synonyms and antonyms and all that stuff.) Still, a few days of heat and sun would be welcome.

I mean, my tan sucks for starters. By the end of July, I usually resemble Skip Gates. But I'm looking more like that Crowley guy at the moment. (It was nice that the Beer Summit wasn't rained out. I was expecting muscle shirts and Speedos instead of shirts and ties, though.)


At least it is summer. And it's not cold. That's why there are candles and beer on the porch.

"Coming, dear."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I think I know why I'm always eager to get back to school in the fall. The clamor of voices in my head during the summer is absolutely fucking deafening. Every half-baked, half-formed character wants to be heard. I'm treated like an overworked stenographer. "Here, asshole, take this down," one of them tells me. A mid-forties (and as yet featureless) woman is yelling: "Listen to me! Are you listening?" Even the kids are lining up to have their stories recorded: "She called me an idiot so I bit her."

Llewellen: Hide the pens and stationery. And bring me another beer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I meant to write something a week or so ago after hearing that Frank McCourt had died. But shit happens and I forgot. (That is occurring with alarming regularity these days.)


Want a good summer read? Pick up a copy of McCourt's Teacher Man.

The book is for anyone who ever set foot inside a high school... for anyone who had a teacher that made a difference... for anyone who likes to read... for the pure joy of a story well told. (The episode of McCourt taking twenty-nine mouthy black girls on a field trip via the New York subway system to a movie theatre in Times Square in the late 1960's is priceless.)

This book should be read -- and reread -- by every teacher who plans on returning to the classroom in the fall. The book is all about teaching. All about kids. He shows how it's done, why one does it, and especially, why it's important.

"At the end of a school day you leave with a head filled with adolescent noises, their worries, their dreams. They follow you....
... You can tell when you've reached them or alienated them. It's chemistry. It's psychology. It's animal instinct. You are with the kids and, as long as you want to be a teacher, there's no escape. Don't expect help from the people who've escaped the classroom, the higher-ups. They're busy going to lunch and thinking higher thoughts. It's you and the kids. So, there's the bell. See you later. Find what you love and do it."


Class dismissed.

BTW (update): I've been writing, reading, grabbing some rays -- when the fucking rain stops, that is -- and drinking copious amounts of chilled imported beer. I think I'm finally happy. And if I croak tonight... no regrets. Not a one.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I can't quite get my head around the yammering about 'preexisting conditions' (as it relates to American health care coverage by insurance companies.) For fuck's sake, we're made out of shit that breaks down. Everyone has some kind of preexisting condition. It's in your genes and in your immune system. It's in the water you drink, the air you breathe and the food you eat. Isn't that what insurance is supposed to be for... the eventual breakdown of body parts and delivery systems?

Well, if it all stays the same -- and it probably will -- at least America will have beaten back that whole 'socialized medicine' scare. Phew! Imagine: a commie bureaucrat getting between you and your doctor! (I gotta give the right-wing plonkers credit for that nugget. People seem to be swallowing it... well, more so than the medication they can't afford. Hey, listen: isn't that banjo music playing down there at the jamboree?)

Nope. Real medical coverage is reserved for the people who make the laws. They deserve it. The rest of you grunts are simply preexisting. Now get the fuck back to work.

Rant by Dr. Phineas Boogaloo,
Commie Gynecologist

Monday, July 20, 2009


I was at the beach with my girlfriend and her (much) older brother and his wife. We listened to it on the radio.

Later, at home on the couch, we were necking -- keeping one eye on the TV screen... with hands working overtime. ( If memory serves, my Eagle landed that night as well.)

Space. I still love it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I write fiction. But at the moment, I'm writing an essay on spec. An essay! This can be dodgy. Chances are 30/70 that it will be a complete waste of time. (Translation: I might never sell the fucker. And I'm definitely not in this whole 'writing game' for the typing practice.)

I will say this: it's about mental illness. And I know what I'm talking about.

I've been writing all weekend. The bastard's up to about 4,000 semi-decent words -- first draft, hammers-and-tongs, let 'er rip, crazy as hell.

What a dumb-ass way to spend a vacation. (Hey, you young people and newly-weds: Do not try this at home. Unless you want to be divorced. I've been married thirty-six years. And I can tell you: it takes a special woman to put up with my summer job.)

P.S. Beer helps.

Oh yeah: and mamas, don't let your kids grow up to be writers. For the love of jeebus, don't do it. Have some decency. Show some mercy. Make them learn a useful fucking trade.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I've been watching the Sotomayor hearings. To international observers, it must appear that the stereotypes of American society are being given their full expression. Two days of wonderful stuff.


S'plain, Lucy.

If I have to 'splain, you ain't been watchin'. And if you ain't been watchin', tough noogies.

* * *

Another thing that has always intrigued me about these confirmation hearings....

Since Bork, no one answers a direct question (for obvious reasons). But these are lawyers -- and judges -- applying for the highest position in the field of American justice. Would they tolerate the same obfuscation and pussy-footing in their courtrooms?

* * *

Perry Mason. Ha! The fucker was a Canadian. (I mean the heavy-set dude who played him.)

* * *

It's a fantastic circus.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Back from yet another memorial service. [Stop] Makes you think about the time you've got left. [Stop] Changes are likely in order. [Stop]

P. Boogaloo [Full Stop]

* * *

Monday, July 13, 2009


Because I had to deal with one today.

And I fought fire with fire. Which makes me...
Yup. An asshole.

Enjoy. (I love this video.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Maybe it's normal. Maybe not. But I've been thinking a lot lately about turning points -- events and decisions that changed us, or defined us; rescued us or fucked us up totally. (I was fucked up... but not totally, not irredeemably. Because I was rescued.)

I was thinking of this stuff back in the spring when I had some kind of killer cold (or flu; it was that bad.) And I picked up the thread again a few weeks ago. Leaving aside my personal rescue from depression and suicide, I think I now know what the decisive turning point in my life was.

Maybe I'll tell you later. Because I'm writing a story now. And the hero is a lot like me. And the last thing a writer should ever do -- hear me now, you young bastards with stories to write -- the very last thing a writer should ever do is talk about his unpublished work. (Hell, maybe writers shouldn't talk about the published stuff either. But sometimes you gotta.)

Turning points. And shut the fuck up and write.

I hope this helps.

Friday, July 10, 2009


What's happening here?

Looks to me like Harper dropped a communion wafer and three world leaders craned their necks to get a peek at the lady's bum. (Harper is adjusting his spleen truss while Obama, above the fray, is looking for someplace nice to eat.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


1. Finally rent and watch 'THE BUCKET LIST'.


UPDATE: The previous owner of this blog passed away during the writing of this post.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


At first I thought: hey, maybe Harper's got a gluten allergy. Then I figured he was maybe concerned about the priest's hand hygiene or something. But then it came to me....

I think Harper wanted to eat 'the body of Christ' on his own time. It's an evangelical thing. He straps on his Speedo, dances with a rattlesnake, speaks in tongues, downs the wafer and tops off the proceedings by guzzling a nice Chianti. Makes sense.

But then again, maybe Harpo's got one of those new suits with a built-in 'wafer pocket'. That would explain the bulge.

Or perhaps this is a regular ritual. It might unfold something like this: Harper goes to several churches, takes communion, pockets the wafers and spends Sunday afternoons feeding the homeless.

He's that kind of guy.

Llewellen: Wafers and beer for the congregation.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Feeling that Michael Jackson's passing had consumed way more airtime than was strictly necessary, I had no intention of planting my ass on the couch for two and a half hours to watch a celebrity-driven memorial service. But I turned it on. And I watched the whole thing. I'm glad now that I did.

I thought the service was both genuine and moving. (And I include the little girl's short tribute to her father under both of those categories.)

I thought Maya Angelou's poem was wonderful. Ditto for the musical tributes, especially those by Jennifer Hudson and Jermaine Jackson. Poignant stuff.

Yeah. I was touched by everyone's remarks. I laughed and (almost) cried. So call me a pussy.

And wow... that man had talent. Probably the most surprising thing to me was that it took a memorial service of this calibre to convince me that Michael Jackson really was a supremely gifted artist. (In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was not much of a fan.) I think I missed out on something important over the years.

I just hope to hell the kids get to have a normal life -- whatever that means -- being the kids of an icon.


And now, back to Larry King.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I think I just caught a glimpse of what retirement's gonna look like.

I got up and took the dog for a walk. I made some bacon and coffee. I read a newspaper. Then I fucked around with a new short story. I barbecued, watered the flowers and the tomatoes, walked the dog again, grabbed a beer and fired up the computer. I'll be in bed soon.

Oh yeah: and I haven't shaved in eight days. (In another week, I could probably go undercover for CSIS or the CIA in the Middle East. But then, Harpo or Barry will have to walk my dog.)

Hell, I'm not afraid of retirement.

The possibilities are endless. (Or will the days just seem so?)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Some of my friends have a Face Book account. (And most of them are in their 60's.)

Is this sad or laughable?

I have a Lunch Counter. But I'm anonymous. Is this pathetic or devious?

Honestly, the last place I want to be is in front of the computer chatting up high school acquaintances. (Hey... I forgot you on purpose. Why the fuck would I want to renew something that had no legs to begin with?) Besides, it would just mean I'd likely have to attend more fucking funerals... and I've had a goddamned belly full of them.

Not a single one of my friends or work colleagues knows about The Lunch Counter. This is a private eatery, patronized (on occasion) by a few people I don't know from Adam. And that's the way, uh-huh uh-huh, I like it.

If I ever feel the need to reconnect with my ancient past, my wife (under strict orders) has the go-ahead to kill me.

P.S. Hey Janice... I hope you don't still hate me for dumping you in Grade 13, eh? I mean, the pain would be too much to bear.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Oh, dear lady, the fun you gave us.

So sorry to hear you've passed.

Thank you for this, and all the other laughs.

Mrs. Slocombe, you were a gem.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The Confederations Cup has been an interesting affair. It certainly highlighted a couple of problems Italy needs to sort out. Nice to see the back of the Spaniards as well. Har.

Glad that the U.S. is in the final. Lucky or underrated? I think it's the latter. Still, their opponent is Brazil. As in Brazil.

Prediction: Brazil 3 U.S. 1

But... Go USA!

In a completely unrelated story, I'll be buggering off for a few days. Gotta do some swimming. And sleeping. And drinking.

I was never a fan of Michael Jackson's music. I liked some of his recordings but was lukewarm on most. I appreciated his talent (more so his dancing than singing -- and I hate fucking dancing) but I didn't really listen to his records. In fact, I would usually change the station if one of his tunes came on. (I could be ruthless, eh?) For me, Michael Jackson was always the little dude from the Jackson 5. His voice never really changed. He always sounded ten years old.

Even in his later years he seemed like a child to me -- trapped in some kind of immature, non-evolving head space. The truth is, I don't know what the guy harbored in his head and his heart. But I'm certainly willing to give him the benefit of doubt. Not that any of this really matters. (But as always, dear patrons, I feel the need to share.)

He called his place Neverland. The place where Peter Pan lived. And as we all know from that story, all boys -- except one -- grow up.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Paper work is finished. Desk is clean. The i's have been dotted and the t's crossed. My mailbox is empty and the chess sets have been stored away. Laughs and tears were dutifully (and emotionally) exchanged. Gifts have been given and gifts were received. Handshakes, hugs, best wishes and see ya's all offered and accepted. The last bell sounded at 3:15. The rain stopped and the sun came out. It was a pleasant ride home.

Now I'm wearing shorts and drinking beer, baby. Oh yeah...

And one more thing....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I'll bet that Ed and Johnny were easily the most frequent guests in my living room circa 1970 - 1990.

Ed died today.

It sure was fun while it lasted.

RIP big guy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My father only cried once. And that was just a reddening of the eyes and a single tear. It happened while he was in the throes of dementia -- lucid one moment, gone the next. It happened after my brother died during a kidney transplant. It happened because the family at large -- and my dad's own doctor -- thought he had the right to know that his son had died. It happened against my better judgement. But I told him anyway. And I regret that decision. Especially at this time of year.

So I remember the man with the huge hands who stroked my hair (and, on at least one occasion, whispered that I was the best thing that ever happened to him) when he thought I was asleep.

I remember the man who went to work and did the laundry and cooked the meals and cleaned the house when my mother was sick. And she was often sick, for months, years, at a time. Sick with depression... and the aftermath of shock treatments and a smorgasbord of drugs.

I remember the man who taught me to pitch a knuckle ball.

I remember the man who planted a peach tree in the garden, who brewed his own beer, fixed the stuff that broke, taught me to drive, carried my injured brother up a hill and into the hospital (with, as we later found out, two crushed discs in his fifty-year-old back).

I remember my dad all the time. And tonight, I wish I had one more opportunity to buy him a beer. Or give him something I made in school. For Fathers' Day.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Reading a bit about the goings on in Iran. Sounds like an ugly showdown coming tomorrow. It would appear from his speech today that the 'Supreme Leader' has already decided on a course of action. The question is: how many protesters will he kill? After all, the thirty-year-old revolution still wants feeding.

Its appetite appears healthy. Perhaps tomorrow we'll see religion go all cannibal... as it begins to eat itself from the inside out.

The table has been set.

But there will be no refunds from this sad picnic.

God is great. (Especially if he's on the side that bagged the most bodies. And he always is. Or so I've been told.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I'm sitting here looking at a black and white picture of myself. I'm about a year old (maybe, I guess), giving what appears to be a thumbs up sign. I'm wearing white shoes, white socks and some kind of one-piece, unisex baby garment with a rounded collar. I have a batch of curly hair, two slightly sticky-out ears, and a huge grin. This is the picture I've chosen for the Grade Six Graduation DVD. The segment is called 'Guess the staff member'. I can promise: no one's gonna guess that baby is me.

In a convoluted, out of context, but somehow apropos? story, here's a guy who -- at the age of 56 -- is now pretty certain that he was abducted in 1955. (Strange that his biological father, who is still alive, has declined to provide a DNA sample. I mean, hey, WTF?)

I look at my picture and think: maybe that same shit happened to me. It would certainly explain a few things.

By the way, I'd gladly show you my picture. Unfortunately, I Photoshopped the sucker (to remove the Scotch Tape, gin and tears my mother managed to conjure whilst sticking the thing into an album). I didn't save the work... and I'm not gonna redo it tonight. That would be a complete buzz kill. Still, the picture below comes pretty close.

Monday, June 15, 2009


What could bring hundreds of thousands (a million, even?) young people rallying into the streets of Tehran -- risking injury, disappearance or death?

I think it's down to two things:

A breath of fresh air. And the certain knowledge that if not us, now... then who, when?

Something very much like this happened thirty years ago. (Different players; different reasons; different wants; different times.) Remember the Shah? And the CIA?

Still, that was then and this is now. The question is this: Tonight, is the box half open or half closed? And does the box have breathing room... or just another lid?

Yours ever,

P. Boogaloo

(Tonight's special: Falafel and a pitcher of Heineken, $9.99)

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I've torn this place down several times over the years. Left nothing behind, not even a forwarding address. (Well, it deters the revenooers, don't it?) And there have been times lately -- within the last minute or two, actually -- when I dangled my right hand middle finger tantalizingly close to the DELETE IT button.

But... I know why I didn't kill Llewellen tonight. I know why I decided to save Timmy from Gila Monster purgatory.

I understand now why I gutted this place before and why I allowed it to live tonight.

But why is the toughest fucking question there is. It's existential. Primordial. And then there's the pain. There's always pain.

Therefore, if I simply give you the answer, it would be cheating. And I'd probably have to shoot you.


As you were.

As if there's another way you could be. I mean, really, c'mon.


Saturday, June 13, 2009


Two weeks left in the current school year.

Two weeks to say or do something that might, if my act is a good one and the script flawless, keep a kid or two from making a huge, dumb ass choice before the session bell rings again in the fall.

Thousands of kids have passed my way. Dozens haven't made it. Probably hundreds. (Let's just say, most don't keep in touch. And I don't think I'd accept a collect call from a prison, anyway.)

It's the best of jobs....

And you know the rest.

Llewellen: Beer. And plenty of it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I've had a nice streak in the last couple of years. Actually made a good chunk of change from writing. And the best part is the amazing velocity from acceptance through to publication and payment. In the old days, we'd have to fuck around with postal deliveries, typesetting symbols on edited copies, more back and forth postal deliveries, phone calls, another round of typesetting symbols, photocopies... you get the idea. Fuck, these days, you just edit a PDF or Word attachment copy and hit send. (I bless Al Gore for inventing the Internets.)

Leaves a guy much more time to drink and listen to tunes. And that's what writing is all about. (Or, as I tell the wife, more time for 'research'. Yeah. Right.)

Now, if there was just a way to make lasagna without spending a weekend in the kitchen....

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just got back from watching the new Star Trek movie. Now I hear that Nova Scotia booted out the Tories and elected the NDP.

This has been a way fun evening.

Plus, I'm drinking beer.

UPDATE: Oh yeah: Go Penguins.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I'm with this guy.

"Men's feet, in particular, make me squirm and gag: the mottled colouring, the sparse hair, the little toe that has been crushed into the one next to it over the years so that it has turned and bent and cuddles up against it now, sadly, as if trying to spoon an unwilling lover, the yellowed, cracked toenails, and the fully blackened one on the right biggy from toe-punting a goalpost 14 years ago. How can bringing these out in public be considered acceptable?"

Ha. Good stuff.



Sunday, May 31, 2009


Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Did you know I've been here for ten years?"

"Sorry, ma. It's only been four." We've been down this road a few times.

"Why are you lying to me?"

"I'm not lying. The place only opened four years ago... I mean, this new part. You were in the old part for maybe six months, tops. Before they tore it down. Remember?"

"And before that?"

"Golden Slumbers Nursing Home in Windsor."

"I've never lived in Windsor!"

"If you say so, ma."

"Pass me that orange." I do so.

"It's not peeled."

"You didn't ask me to peel it."

No segue. She's on to something else.

"Are those new shoes?"


"What day is it?"

"Sunday," I tell her. "What did you have for lunch?"


"Just pie?" She doesn't answer the question. She falls asleep for ten minutes.

"When did you get here?"

"About thirty minutes ago, ma. You fell asleep."

"Are those new shoes?"


"Are you growing a beard?"

"No, ma. My face is as smooth as a baby's bottom. It's just a tan."

"How long has your dad been dead?"

"About fifteen years." You just know she'll have something to say about that.

"Fifteen years!"

"Yup. Give or take."

"He must have been old."

"Eighty-four." She was never good at math. This thread is at an end.

"Are those new shoes?"

"Yeah. I just picked 'em up on the way over here. You like them?"

"I've been here for ten years."

"Yeah. I know, ma."

I peel the orange. I get her some ice water. We talk about my shoes some more.

When I get home, all I want to do is have a beer and go to bed.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I just noticed that the calendar in my office is one of those cheap buggers that comes with the newspaper. Apparently, May is Ontario asparagus month or some such shit. (When I was eighteen, my mother put a Playboy desk calendar in my Christmas stocking. She must have thought I was gay. There is no other reasonable explanation. Is there?)

Good night, folks.

Yeah, I know. The title says observations. Plural. But I have a back spasm. And my dog needs to go for a whizz. Me, too, for that matter. (Thank you, Mr. Heineken.) Hold on, Shadow. I just need to hit...Publish... and Post.

Yeah girl, I'm coming. But this thing needs a picture. Wait... Browse... Arr!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I took a look through my filing cabinets tonight. And let me tell you, it freaked me out.

There could well be five thousand pounds of unfinished, unremarkable, and terribly embarrassing prose and poetry in these folders, bundles and boxes. (Tell me: do they even make those canary yellow newsprint pads any more?) There are several hundred pounds of handwritten stuff and tons of brittle, twenty-pound bond paper, imprinted with ink from ancient typewriters (both manual and electric); stuff composed on word-processors; and newer offerings printed from computers.

I've never felt older and less vital than I do right at this second.

The guy that wrote that stuff is long dead. Opening those vaults was a big mistake.

Hey buddy... got a match?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Not many animals can make a fist.

Few have the ability to salute

With just the middle finger.

Still, it would be nice to fly

And fuck each other in trees.

But then, we'd have to get someone to open our beer.

And that's when the terr'ists win.

Saturday, May 23, 2009



Take a look at the bottom four or five teams. Each has a game remaining. The bottom three finishers will be ousted from the Premiership for the 09/10 season. I like Alan Shearer and I wish the Magpies well. But I wouldn't bet the house.

Barclays Premier League
Man Utd3787
Aston Villa3759
West Ham Utd3748
Man City3747
Stoke City3745
Wigan Athletic3742
Hull City3735


These guys make more money per hour than Education Assistants. And they want to strike? (Why? Because keeping the beer cold and putting wine bottles on the shelves is, like, really fucking difficult?) They want to go on strike in this economic climate?! Are they insane? WTF gives?


The arrest happened under Bush's watch. But Obama (who's big on asking other nations to quit fucking with American journalists) seems okay with the smarmy, unopen and non-transparent staus quo. This oughta make Cheney proud, though. And nothin' says national security quite like a Cheney growl & grin.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interesting how research can, in the long run, overtake and dispel conventional wisdom. Newest case in point: the Komodo Dragon is venomous.

Until very recently, it was assumed that the Komodo was packing bacteria as its weapon of choice. Again, until very recently, it was assumed that there were only two kinds of venomous lizards, the Beaded (which has four subspecies) and the Gila Monster -- see little Timmy in the sidebar -- (two subspecies). Of course, there is a good chance that there are many more.

Interesting, no?

Let's face it: we still have oodles to learn about every living creature.

Research down the road: my money is comfortably parked on the bet that humans do not possess a soul. Whatever the fuck that is. (I know I ain't got one. I do have venom, though.)

UPDATE: Well, not an update really. (The Komodo still has venom, I suspect.) No, this is more of a late night, semi-sober observation. And it goes something like this....
Blogging is a lot like being in high school. You do it for four years, then you (metaphorically speaking) bugger off to university... or Europe... or jail. You lose touch with your old mates. They don't drop by any more; you make new friends and get busy with this & that; and before you know it, you have to toss out the frozen koala burgers in the freezer, sell the jukebox, and sit by yourself in your office off the kitchen, writing Llewellen's severance cheque. Soon after, the place falls derelict. Like this joint.
It's been fun.
But the writing's on the wall.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


"I've had tons of shit named after me. But a Holiday is special. It's like a day off work, innit?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


For the past three or four years, I've spent a fair bit of my work week with kindergarten kids. These little ones are high maintenance. (I don't know how the hell full-time K teachers do it. I really don't.) Some days, after my name has been called out at least three hundred times by tiny persons in (what for them is) some sort life-and-death predicament, I find myself wondering where the fuck the closest hunk of rope is hidden, suicide being the only option -- other than a retreat into utter madness.


They can be charming.

But that's how they suck you in.


Mamas: Don't let your children grow up to be Kindergarten teachers.

Posted by P. Boogaloo,
Room 13,
Psychiatric Ward (Out Patients' Wing),
Your School,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our family wasn't what you'd call 'touchy feely'. Seldom a hug when growing up -- unless in the aftermath of serious bodily trauma or amputation (none of which happened. Unless you count the scalding coffee incident when I was a year and a half old. And I don't recall the episode, although I have the scars to prove it.) Nope. We were a rather undemonstrative bunch.

I tried to change. I gave it a shot. But as the years rolled by, I fell into the old comfortable pattern of keeping everything to myself. (Well, men do, don't they?)


Mother's Day -- the idea of it, not the card-company-and-chocolate-manufacturers-induced spending frenzy -- comes in handy. It allows me to bring down the shields with no harm or foul.

So. Here's to Mrs. Boogaloo. The person who saved my life.

And here's to all the other moms and mums and wives who put up with us year in and year out. Happy Mothers' Day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I cannot imagine what life must be like for the majority of families in Afghanistan.

I cannot imagine a 'good' ending for anyone caught up in this ongoing insanity.

I cannot imagine a strategy that involves guns, bombs, planes and ideology (domestic or imported) as being 'successful'.

I cannot imagine a country and a people enduring so much for so long.

I write fiction. And I cannot imagine what the fuck happens from here on in.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


If there isn't already, there ought to be a forensic science that studies the structure of the human ear. All those ridges and knobbly bits -- they gotta be at least as unique as fingerprints. Then again, how many criminals leave an ear print on the bloody glass? What? I can't hear you.

After I cut the grass today, a robin swooped down and started sniffing for lunch. She must have rid the lawn of a dozen grubs. Now, if she and her family would just shut the hell up between 5:00 am and 6:30 am, I'd cut the grass more often.

I have a few black hollyhocks that I've been nursing. I love black flowers. As a matter of fact, the black hollyhock is on the Boogaloo coat-of-arms.

I joined FunTrivia last week (under a different name). So far, I'm up to Level 8 and have won three Hourly Contests. Jeopardy, here I come.

If I get the swine flu, I'm going to infect my neighbor. (I mean, what's with all the hammering and banging at seven in the morning on a fucking Saturday?)

Have a nice week. I got shit galore to do.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I love Joe Biden.

Worried about flu? Joe's advice was to stay the fuck away from confined spaces where people are either gonna sneeze on you, or wipe shit from their infected carcasses onto surfaces that you're probably going to touch.

He got kicked in the nut sack for that. But he's right. If there's flu aboard a plane or a subway car, chances are pretty fucking good you're gonna get hit full in the face.

So travel alone. Or shut the fuck up when you get sprayed.

(Note to Wolf Blitzer: Hey, Wolf, the real flu story is in Mexico City. Why not travel there by subway to cover it?)

I had a rough week, kids.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


So there's a new Swine Flu loose on the globe, centered in Mexico, and the other night I hear some dickhead on the news saying don't let it worry you, go to Mexico and enjoy the beach. Yeah, right. You first, Ace. (And check your moribund carcass at Customs on your return.)

* * *

My garden's looking pretty good. Tulips galore. I'll even have to cut the grass soon. Yessir, it's time to get out the lawnmower... and the baseball glove. Yahoo! (Too early for morning glories, though. I hope Andy's crop is spectacular this year. By the way, I miss you, you old bastard.)

* * *

Another piece on the vile treatment of women in Afghanistan.

When Afghan women give birth, I suspect they pray the squirming little mass is male. For a whole raft of reasons.

At this point, one might hope that each of those prayers is answered.

For a whole raft of reasons.

* * *

There are barely two months left before the end of school. Seems like only last night I was preparing for the school year to start. They say this happens with age. I'd say they are correct.

Thursday, April 23, 2009











Yes. I make lists. It's a sickness that has infected many notebooks -- and quite a few restaurant napkins, beer coasters, and the sleeves of cigarette packages. And while I am too old to be cured of this affliction, I offer this confession as a cautionary tale to the younger folk.

Please: learn to relax. (I have compiled a list of relaxation techniques. These are available on sticky notes and the backs of envelopes.)

Hey, they're playing my song.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I've had a quote stuck in my brain for a couple of days. I think it's by Paul Theroux (but I'm too lazy to look it up). It involves writing and aging. And it goes something like this (use of the 'f' word is, like, totally down to me):

No one would care about writing -- no one would even consider being a writer -- were it not for the relentless fucking cruelty of time passing.


And writers seem to feel that cruelty from a very early age.

I want to be thirteen again. Maybe forever.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Ah, I loves me them Reptiles.

This week: Poisonous Reptiles. Special study: the Gila Monster and Pit Vipers.

Note to beginners: Rattlesnakes are Pit Vipers. If you hear the rattle, it may already be too late. Pleasant dreams.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


I have absolutely nothing to say. Join me next month for charades and mime.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I caught a cold this week. No biggee, right? Just a cold. Nuh-uh. Wrong. This motherfucker was spawned in viral hell. Sore throat -- as in acid-swallowing sore -- going on six days now. Sinuses filled with lime-green pudding. Eyeballs bulging fluid. A cough that won't quit. Four hours sleep in five nights, total. And breathing? What the hell is that, again?

Still, it made for a lovely short workweek. I went in. I came straight home. And tomorrow's Friday. What the Xians call Good Friday. Maybe we'll have fish. (Only 'cause I can't smell anything. See, I don't mind eating fish in restaurants; I just can't abide my house smelling like a carp's rear end.)

By the way: cold syrups don't fucking work. Tylenol Daytime/Nighttime Cold pills don't fucking work. Aspirin, decongestants, ditto. This cunt ain't afraid o'none o'your store-bought cold remedies. This cold could take over the world. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Llewellen: Chilled fluids with an amber body and frothy white head. And plenty of them.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the beer did not have the desired effect. Doctor Boogaloo succumbed to the virus and died on Sunday. His body will be mummified and placed in the lobby of the Lunch Counter. Gears and pulleys will provide an 'automaton' effect, while music by the Kinks will be played each time the front door opens. Don't ask me why. That was his wish.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I can't believe that Neil Sedaka is not a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. What the hell?!

I doan buhlee-dis!

Thinking back (yeah, waaaaay back)... some of the first tunes I remember hearing on my brand new transistor radio were by Neil Sedaka. Oh, Carol and Calendar Girl spring immediately to mind. And how about THIS ONE? I mean, the guy's a legend. He's seventy years old and he's still touring, for pete's sake. Come on. Induct the guy already!

There is an online petition, the aim of which is to convince the nominating committee to sit up and take notice. You can sign it here.

I watched Sedaka perform at The Royal Albert Hall a couple of years ago (a PBS broadcast, if memory serves). It was a wonderful show.

I realize I'm an old fart. (Don't think there's much I can do about it.) But ignoring Neil Sedaka's contributions to the frigging huge range of music that falls under the category of 'Rock and Roll' just isn't right.

So there.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Better headlines are seldom written.

Let's see... a bobcat walks into a bar and tries to mark its territory. Nothing happens. Parched, it asks the bartender for a jug of beer. "That'll be fifteen bucks", says the barkeep. The bobcat throws down a bunch of change and starts to drink. "Not so fast," the bartender tells the bobcat. "You're still short a scent."

Now it's your turn.

Prize is Dinner for Six. (Or a two dollar cash equivalent.)

Okay, so a bobcat walks into a bar and says


Friday, March 27, 2009


I remember when selling a story or a poem to a magazine used to validate my life.

I sold a story today.

I might have an extra beer tonight. Unless I fall asleep on the way to the fridge.

Sad, huh?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Kee-rist. I just logged in and saw a message that (I thought) read: Scheduled outrage at 4:00 PM PDT on Thursday (3/25).

And I'm thinking, hell, I enjoy a good outrage, but I'll still be at work. And then I realized that 4:00 PM PDT is 7:00 PM EDT. So I can still make it. And be outraged.

And then I realized it simply meant that Blogger will be down. An outage. For maintenance.

And then I forgot what the fuck it was I was going to post in the first place.

Oh yeah: and then I realized that Thursday will be the 26th, not the 25th. And I was outraged all over again.

Help yourselves to some nachos and beer.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Man, it was tough to return to school today (mainly because I buggered up my back putting in a new bathroom floor over March Break. I think I need a truss for my truss.)

In other medical news, I've been practicing deep breathing and relaxation responses. I am now so fucking mellow I'm nearly comatose. And don't think the kids haven't noticed. One boy even asked if I was feeling okay. If I get any more chilled out, I'll probably stop breathing altogether. (Maybe I should have taken Andy up on his offer to leave me his defibrillator.)

Quick: Heart paddles!

Below: Today, I took the class to the beach to practice relaxation techniques.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


My son and his friends returned home on Thursday evening after spending eleven days in Italy, Sicily and Greece. He took over a thousand photos -- and most are brilliant. Needless to say, they had the time of their (young) lives.

I've added a piece on the Sidebar that links to a new Photobucket album I've started. (I tried to download some pictures here, but they are simply too large. Hell, for a while, it looked as though Blogger was trying to pass a kidney stone.)

He brought home some cool stuff, including a small hunk of volcanic rock from Mt. Aetna. Apparently, there are lots of dogs in Sicily... and wild, roaming pigs. Adventures included: climbing the Dome of St. Peter's; seeing Vesuvius, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum (and the way cool catacombs), the Parthenon; ordering calamari (and getting more than they bargained for); sharing a bunk on the ferry -- which made the 'Stateroom' from 'A Night at the Opera' look expansive; making friends with a wild pig; attending a wine-tasting and partaking in a liquor-guzzling exhibition; treading on oodles of history; getting an eyeful of renaissance art; eating french fries with mayo; getting soaked to the gills tramping around rural Greece; and having the best dinner ever, at the hotel in Athens.

The photo at top (amazing -- it fits on the page) shows one of the school groups in front of St. Peter's. This was posted to the Trip Diary by one of the Tour Guides. Anyway... I'm glad he's home. (Well, actually, he's out with his friends again tonight. But you get the idea.)

Friday, March 20, 2009


This is a nice story. Chess is a great teaching tool and every school, every teacher, should find the time to work it into the curriculum. But I am a little troubled with the author's (and teacher's) stated salary. Sixteen grand a year before taxes? You must be kidding me. Kids working at McDonalds make nearly that much. What teacher works full-time for that tiny wage? There's something fishy here. Sounds more like a fly-by-night daycare centre than a school. Hell, most Education Assistants take home three times more money than that. (I should know; I've done the job.) Before you sign on to your next teaching gig, ask to see the cheque, mate.

Question: Does Barry actually have time to play chess? Seems that bowling is his new extra-curricular game of choice. He told Leno he bowled a 129. (And that is laudable beginner territory.)