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.