Saturday, November 27, 2010

Some Of My Best Friends Aren’t

"If a bullet should enter my brain,
let that bullet destroy every
 closet door." ~ Harvey Milk
November 27, 2010 – Thirty-two years today in San Francisco, Mayor George Moscone and County Supervisor, Harvey Milk were assassinated in their offices at City Hall so this seems to be appropriate day to share my views on human rights and gay rights in particular.
You may ask yourself, why would a middle-aged straight white man have any interest in gay rights? Truth be told in all, I am the target market for all human rights issues. The middle-aged white male still controls most of the political power in North America and Europe. (Note: Moscone and Milk both fell into this category.) Legislative change can only come by convincing this group to share what rights they already enjoy with  others. Although African-American leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson led the fight outside the houses of power it was actually a much maligned Texan, Lyndon Johnson that convinced, cajoled and arm-twisted his colleagues in the Senate to pass historic civil rights laws. It was a white middle-aged straight, Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, that spearheaded legislation in the late 60s to take homosexuality out of the Criminal Code of Canada stating that “the government has no place in the bedroom and what goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults is their own business". There are several states in the US that have only recently had laws geared specifically against homosexuals struck down by the Supreme Court. I cannot even begin to address the vile laws less advanced countries in Africa and Asia where the crime of homosexuality warrants penalties up and including death.
This brings us back to why am I proponent of gay rights? As long as I can remember I have been a believer in equality for all members of the human race. Even in my early youth, I supported equal rights for people of colour and was disgusted when I heard about the Jim Crow laws in the southern United States and even more when I later learned about apartheid in South Africa. I was lucky to have several liberal minded teachers, most of which were white males that guided me on my journey of enlightenment. In the early seventies, the women’s rights movement began to gain momentum and I again took pride in calling myself a feminist. As you can surmise from my photo I am not a member of a visible minority and not likely female. I say this because I am also not gay although I firmly believe that no one is totally 100% one way or another.
Along with not being gay, I do not have any openly gay family members or even openly gay close friends. If you asked me why I don’t have gay friends my honest answer would be “I don’t know, I just don’t.” It is for this reason you will not likely hear me utter that cocktail-party liberal statement “Some of my best friends are (insert downtrodden group du jour)”. I have found out later that friends from the past who I had long lost contact with did eventually “come out” and one friend I was very close with in high school is now transgendered. During my long boring life I have worked with several gay men and women, I belonged to political groups with gay members and yes, I know it sounds stereotypical but being involved in with adult mixed softball played with and coached a disproportionate number of lesbians. My conclusion after meeting and dealing with all these gays is that some are extremely n*** people (regular followers know that word is not allowed on my blog) and some are absolute assholes. Believe it or not most of them like everyone else fall somewhere in between.
In the US, the two most significant issues pertaining to gay rights at this time are the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (DADT) and gay marriage. Ironically, when DADT was introduced by Clinton administration in the nineties, it was considered to be a victory for the gay community particularly those wishing to serve in the military. Previous to the introduction, if the military hierarchy even suspected you of being gay you would have been investigated and likely given a at best a less than honourable discharge and if they discovered you were indeed gay you were automatically court-martialled and subject to dishonourable discharge and possibly imprisonment. In military organizations in most democracies, homosexuality is a non-issue however the US is a quasi-theocracy. The move is  now afoot to repeal DADT in two houses of congress but this is very unlikely with the Republicans having control of the lower house and there not being enough solid support in the senate to even clear that house. (Note: there is an outside chance this may be introduced on the senate floor next week but don’t hold your breath) A lower court has already ruled that DADT is unconstitutional but is now under appeal by the Department of Justice. The Religious Wrong, and other conservative groups claim that allowing openly gay people serve will destroy morale and put the services in disarray. The US military has been a total clusterfuck and lacked any sense of morale since the early fifties and this had nothing to do with homosexuals, bisexuals, or even heterosexuals. The worst excuse I heard was it may affect recruiting. Has anyone analyzed the quality of recruits the US Military has been getting since the draft was abolished over thirty years ago? Does the US Army really need the guy that’s only criteria is “I’ll join if I don’t got to bunk next to no faggot”? Rachel Maddow of MSNBC has been following this story closely so keep an eye on the MaddowBlog.
If two consenting adults, regardless of their gender love each other enough to commit themselves to each for life they should the right to be married and receive all the same legal benefits. Several states have passed laws allowing same sex marriage but even more have passed laws that specifically restrict marriage to one woman and one man. Several other states, including California, have had same sex marriage recognized by the order of the courts. Unfortunately, in 2008 the Religious Wrong garnered enough support to get Proposition 8 restricting marriage on ballot and managed to get it passed at the ballot box. Proposition 8 has also been struck down by the lower courts and is now going through the appeal process. If the Religious Wrong truly believes in the sanctity of marriage why have they not pushed for the concept of making divorce illegal? The truth is the Religious Wrong doesn’t like you being different. They didn’t like the uppity Negroes in the mid-twentieth century, they didn’t like the free thinking women in the late twentieth century and now all they have is the homosexuals not to like. Watch Keith Olbermann’s view on this subject.
Oddly, the outcome of both these cases will ultimately be decided by one moderately conservative middle-aged white man, Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy has been the thorn in the side of the Religious Wrong since he was appointed by President Reagan because everyone assumed he would toe the conservative line and vote along with Chief Justice Roberts and the other Supreme Court sheep, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
Here in Canada the legislative fight is almost accomplished. Sexual orientation is recognized in most of our statutes and two adults who love each other regardless of their gender are allowed to wed. This does not mean the battle is over.
As a socially conscious person who believes that no one is truly free until everyone is equal, I feel it my duty to speak out on these issues. I have even found myself chastising co-workers for describing something as “totally gay”. I would like to thank all my friends out there who support the concept of equal rights for the LBGT community and continue to encourage me to speak my mind on the subject.
We must continue to fight the backlash from the social conservative movement and we must continue to educate our children about acceptance. A beautiful example of this acceptance comes from The Crown Prince. One day while we were discussing the topic of gay rights he said to me “Remember ‘S’ the big guy from my high school, he came out of the closet”. I asked him “How do you feel about that?” The Prince replied “I’m cool with it but he’s still a dickhead!”
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

Post Note: December 18, 2010 - The US Senate voted 65-31 to repeal DADT.
Post Note: June 24, 2011 - The New York State Senate has passed the Same Sex Marriage Bill. I am so happy for Christine and Ericka from Albany pictured above. I met them in Costa Rica and they were so much in love and wanted to so much get married now they can! And yes, that's the Pink Hat Ericka is wearing. :-D

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just Because We Can...Does Not Mean We Must

A perfect Example of "Just Because"
Now don’t get me wrong, I embrace technology as much as any other old fart. I am not a Luddite and in fact just last week I had some of them fancy electric tail light thingies installed on the back of my buggy. Truthfully, I embrace new technology and walk through places like Best Buy with those glazed over “Oooh, look shiny things” eyes at all the new gadgets but I believe technology is there to help me not run my life.
My latest rant about the abuse technology is derived from a video posted by a friend on Facebook showing a “live” concert at arena in Japan that featured an anime hologram performing her latest hit. I thought the fact that people were flocking to see “The Gorillaz” live was insane until I saw this. At least there were live musicians on stage for the Gorillaz. You just paid a hundred bucks to see a freaking cartoon character dudes! Yes, in the sixties and seventies there  were television pop groups like “The Partridge Family” as well as animated groups like “The Archies” and “Josie and the Pussycats” but guess what? We knew they were cartoons!!
The other thing the advancements in technology have done to the music industry is erroneously elevate the DJ to talent status. No, these people are technicians not artists. Some of them are fantastic technicians but do were refer to a great plumber as an artist? No all they do is remix someone else’s music and play it on their laptop. Those musicians are the talent and the artists.
I recently moved into the 21st century and purchased a 3G Smartphone. I find it convenient that I can now check my email and update my Facebook page on the go and I have even caught myself texting. You may think this is nothing but if you saw my bratwurst-like fingers and thumbs you would understand how difficult it is for me. If you couple that with my total lack of coordination and the fact that I learned to touch type properly on a QWERTY keyboard it becomes an endeavour to hunt and peck with my thumbs. Texting has its place but if time is a factor try actually phoning someone. You will get all your answers quicker. While travelling I have seen tourists in particular, younger women walking along busily typing on their phones rather than enjoying the sights. I can only imagine the text “This place is so boring all I’ve seen so far are sidewalks and my pretty new shoes.” There are multiple functions on my phone that I haven't even bothered to figure out and at this point I have no intention of adding any of the thousands of available apps. Why? I am too busy living!
My first big realization that a lot of technology comes under the category of “just because we can” was long ago when fax machines were first starting to become the norm in business communications. I was just balancing the till and getting ready lock up the store when the owner asked “Have all the girls gone home?” (To him any woman under 60 was a girl) I told him yes and his face dropped. “But I need to fax this letter to my lawyer tonight”. “No problem, I can do it.” I chirped. “You can” he said with a doubt in his voice. He followed me to the copy room and watched as I punched in the phone number, inserted the paper and hit the “Send” button. “That’s it?” he asked “but what are all these other buttons for?” My answer was “I don’t know and I don’t care.” I later asked the manufacturers rep the same question and his answer was a vague “It’s all in the manual.” Apparently there was all kinds of programming and memory functions available but in all the offices I ever worked in I never saw anyone use them since.
My new phone also has a camera but I have never bothered to use it. I own three very good digital cameras with much better resolution and proper lenses to take photographs. This again brings to mind the good and the bad of digital photography. The good thing is we can now take as many pictures of as many things as we like. The bad thing is we do! There is a delete function, people! This ties in well with people posting their vacation photos online in particular on Facebook. A few hints please: 1) do not post every photo you take, we only need one shot of the family on the beach at sunset. 2) identify who, where and when in the photo 3) rotate the photos so our necks don’t get twisted. 4) unless it’s the only shot you have of the Loch Ness Monster leave out the out of focus ones. Us old folks keep thinking our glass prescription needs upgrading.
My final suggestion to everyone is move out of the virtual world on occasion and have a look out in the real world. Believe it or not, if you go outside you can see a rose instead of looking it up on Wikapaedia. Let technology help you live not become your life.
Now that I’ve insulted everyone, I will take full advantage of the current technology and carefully watch the Caller ID on my phone to make sure I avoid your irate calls and keep my finger close to the “delete” button in anticipation of your nasty emails. ;-P
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The City...Don’t Ever Call It Frisco!

That’s right! To residents of San Francisco hearing the name “Frisco” is a lot like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s very similar to us Vancouver natives who cringe every time we hear it called “Van”; however over here in my adopted suburb of North Vancouver it referred to as “over town”. (I been living on this side of the water for almost a quarter decade and I still find North Shore residents to be a bit provincial; no, make that downright weird!) San Franciscans refer to their tiny village as “The City”. This seems a bit pretentious but after all it was the first major city and the hub of all shipping on the West Coast. Many members of the Religious Wrong have described it as the “Sodom and Gomorrah of the West”; and it in a fun way maybe it really was and is!

Version 1.0 - Pier 39
San Francisco is my favourite American city and I have been lucky enough to visit The City on six occasions.  Perhaps the reason I love it so much is that unlike other major cities here on the Left Coast it tends to preserve and embrace its history, warts and all. Vancouver and Seattle seem to follow the Los Angeles model of newer, shinier and bigger. Portland is the only one that emulates San Francisco in keeping its history alive. (You have to love a city whose unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird”.)
My first two visits were in November of 1978 and again in November of 1979 accompanied by the lovely Version 1.0. Our first trip consisted of a drive down scenic I-5 (Hey, blacktop and semi-trailers are scenic!) from Vancouver. We arrived in San Francisco late at night and after almost running into a cable car found a hotel. It was at this point I realized that the only time one should drive in The City was arriving and departing. I learned then that everyone uses the transit system in SF (Muni). I remember sitting on a city bus one evening when an elderly couple dressed to the nines in evening gown and tuxedo bearing a beautifully wrapped wedding gift got on. You don’t see that in Vancouver.
It was the furthest I had been away from home and the first non-parental accompanied vacation I had been on. My eyes lit up when in the light of day, I first saw all those wonderful sights I had only previously seen on television. We took in all the standard tourist sites as well as riding the cable cars up and down the hilly streets. We strolled hand in hand down Polk Street looking in all the quaint shop windows when we realized we were the only male/female couple on the street. We didn’t realize at the time Polk Street was “The” gay district at the time; The Castro was just coming into its own in 1978. Ironically, about two week after we left San Francisco, The Castro District was going to become famous for all the wrong reasons.) What struck us as wonderful about Polk Street was how much love there was in the community. We were greeted by male/male and female/female couples with warm smiles. I guess everyone loves seeing two people in love whether they are young or old, gay or straight. On our second visit the following year, we explored a few more touristy areas as grizzled veterans at the ripe old age of twenty-three but we made sure we visited Polk Street again for lunch.  

Junior - Cable Car
My third visit came in October 1986 with one my of all-time favourite road trip buddies, Junior. It was part of a repositioning cruise with stops in Seattle and Portland where we able to find cold beers at Pike Place Market in Seattle at 7 AM and an old restaurant, Huber’s Cafe in Portland that served some damn fine Spanish Coffees. Our silliness continued when we arrived in San Francisco because everyone knows that an Anchor Steam Beer is so necessary after nursing a hangover climbing around Alcatraz. We became heroes with the bartender and piano player at Henry Africa’s by starting a game of dollar bill basketball using the large brandy snifter on the piano as a hoop. Once a sporting event begins the testosterone starts to flow and every guy in the house had to try a sink it! Needless to say it was one of the piano player's best Sunday nights. The one sombre point of our trip was that HIV/Aids had begun to devastate the once vibrant gay community and every native we talked to had lost at least one friend or co-worker to this horrible disease.

Lorraine - AT&T Park 2006
I returned to SF in 1991 with Lorraine for a brief visit. It was her first time in The City and I showed her all the usual sights but nothing else sticks out about this visit excluding a side trip to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose.
Our second trip to San Francisco in May of 2006 and sadly our last trip together was again tied into one of those repositioning cruises. We were there to celebrate both of us reaching the half-century mark and along with falling in love again with The City; we fell in love all over again with each other. Paris be damned! San Francisco truly is the City of Love. Part of my birthday wish was to finally see my San Francisco Giants play live and not only did we do that we were able to tour AT&T Park that same day with our guide, Bill, who was a fourth generation San Franciscan that loved his hometown and his hometown team. May 8, 2006 was the day Lorraine officially became a Giants fan.
I knew that I had to return to San Francisco at least once more to honour Lorraine’s memory and my plans were hurried along after watching “Milk” with Sean Penn and the documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk”. I wanted to see more of his city, especially The Castro.
As alluded to earlier, the assassination of County Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone took place about ten days after we left San Francisco in 1978. At the time, although it was headline news in Vancouver it was mostly sloughed off as another crazy on a shooting spree in the US and the story only resurfaced later because of Dan White’s famous Twinkie Defense. The event was quickly buried in our local news a few days later because of another Bay Area related story was coming to light, the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana. Over the years I learned more about Harvey and learned how he was not just a gay rights advocate but an advocate for all human rights including labour issues.
My original plan was to return at the beginning of May to coincide with the 4th anniversary of our last vacation but I decided to move it back a few weeks when I found out that May 22, 2010 was going to be the first official Harvey Milk Day in California.
The best thing I discovered on this trip was a program offered through the San Francisco Library System of free guided neighbourhood walking tours run by volunteers. Of course, they pass around an envelope at the end for donations to keep this and other programs running. Ironically, the program started in 1978 and I missed out on them every time previously. I managed to take four of these tours. The first was of the Civic Centre including a visit to City Hall where Moscone and Milk were murdered. When you see how far White had to walk from the Mayor’s office to the suite of Supervisors’ offices, you question how a jury could not find this anything but pre-meditated. The second was through the Nob Hill/Financial District and the guide taught us an amazing amount about the financial barons that created The City.
On May 22, Harvey Milk Day, I toured the Castro District visiting Harvey Milk’s Camera Store and Apartment, The Harvey Civil Rights Academy, and culminating with a visit to Pink Triangle Park, a memorial for the thousands of gay men and women that were executed during the Holocaust.

Tony Bennett's Heart

The final tour was the fun one, “North Beach at Night”, this took us through the North Beach and Little Italy neighbourhoods where our guide pointed parts of San Francisco’s more sordid history. We learned where the expensive brothels were and where the discount ones were located. Would they brag about this in Vancouver? Look what they did to Maxine’s Hideaway!) Where but in San Francisco would a strip club, The Condor, be declared a state monument? The bonus part of the tour was the doorman taking us inside to see the elevating piano a former owner/mob boss was crushed on while enjoying one of his waitresses.

Lorraine - AT&T Park 2010

My final day, May 24, by coincidence happened to be The Crown Prince’s 22nd birthday. This was the perfect day to honour Lorraine so I placed her ashes next to one of the palm trees in Willie Mays Plaza at AT&T Park.
I am sure if you ever decide to visit this wonderful city you too will fall in love and leave your heart in San Francisco. Sing it for us, Tony!
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I’m in My Right Mind...Left On!

Step left this way and listen to another tale of my woes.
Ginger Rogers once said about dancing with Fred Astaire “I have to do everything he does except backwards and in high heels”. Being left handed in a right-handed world is very similar with the exclusion of the high heels. (Okay, I promise we might talk about the high heels in a future posting.)
Only about one in twelve men and about one in twenty women belong to our much maligned, and oft forgotten minority. Our only consolation is that the left side of the body is controlled by the right side of the brain so unlike you we are in our right minds.
Left-handedness has often been equated with negative images. The word “sinister” is a derivative of the Latin word “sinistra” meaning “left”. The left hand has often been called the Devil’s Hand. I can assure you that I am not possessed. Well, at least, I am unable to puke pea soup and spin my head around 360 degrees. But then again, wouldn’t that be cool?! There are countless other biased references against our kind in the English language but I won’t bore you with them now. Hell, you’re on the internet, look it up!
When I started grade one at Our Lady of Sorrows in East Vancouver, I was the only left-handed kid in a class of fifty. Sister Miriam Henry just about had a fit trying to teach me penmanship. I will give that evil woman credit though; when it came to rapping knuckles she was ambidextrous. Handwriting has been a nightmare to me ever since. When writing (Note: They don’t call it lefting! More prejudice!) Right-handed people pull the pen across the page; we have to push it across. Watching me curl my hand up to grip a pen is akin to watching the contortionist at the circus. You could always tell when I had been doing a lot of writing; the tip of my left pinkie was always blue. That is why to this day I symbolically paint my fingernail. (Okay, I lied that isn’t the real reason but I did have you going didn’t I?BTW – Click now to find out more about the bracelet) Believe me, the use of word processing programs has been a godsend to me and to anyone who has ever tried to read my scribbles. I even have a hard time reading my grocery list.
Lefties tend to excel at a number of sports especially those that involve individual head to head competition like tennis. This is probably because right-handers still haven’t quite figured out which way the ball is coming at them. A similar situation occurs in martial arts competitions probably for the same reason. For some odd reason more than half of all ice hockey players shoot left-handed and because of this Canada has the largest ratio of left-handed golfers to right-handers in the world. This oddity is more than made up for in Field Hockey. In Field Hockey left-handedness is not permitted; there are no left handed Field Hockey sticks and using the other side of the blade is illegal. This is just one more reason to hate the English!
I am not sure being left-handed affected my athletic abilities. Truthfully, even as a kid I was always awkward and uncoordinated, but that little extra disadvantage probably didn’t help me. I was affected playing pickup baseball because I always had to have my own glove. There was no way to borrow one from a player coming off the field. Buying a baseball glove even to this day was always an adventure. Sporting goods stores have racks of gloves that fit on the left hand but only a couple that fit on the right. The only thing I do athletically or for that matter anything at all right handed is sight when shooting so I’m giving you fair warning be wary of your left when I approach.
Growing up there was one advantage of being left-handed. No one ever wanted to sit beside you at the dinner table because you would always be bumping elbows. I always got to sit at the end of the table. Nowadays things are a little different at family gatherings because the Crown Prince and one of my nephews are also lefties. We avoid the awkwardness by occupying our own side of the table. Oops, pardon me, elbow bashing isn’t the thing that make family gatherings awkward! Hee Hee!
In closing it should be noted that an inordinate number of world leaders, writers, artists and other significant historic figures were southpaws but I won’t start listing them. As I said before you are on the internet look it up yourself, dammit!
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Am Absolutely Positive…Maybe…I Think?!

I have quite often been accused of being a hopeless romantic and I have no problem admitting this is true. I use the term “romantic” in a much broader sense than just involving relationships. I use it to describe my entire outlook on life. I take pride in looking at life through the proverbial rose-coloured glasses. (Hmm…maybe that explains my favourite colour being pink!) This does not mean I live my life in a dream world although that concept is not entirely bad. It is just that I try to view things in a positive light and child-like amazement.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t accept everything at face value and  I most definitely engage in critical thinking before making up my own mind  about issues and more importantly about the people I meet during my daily journeys. What I try not to do is approach anything with a cynical point of view but I will admit that every once in awhile I will falter and look at things with a slightly cocked right eye. (My left eye droops naturally.) Because of my belief in critical thinking I can also sometimes be described as a sceptic. Scepticism is often confused with cynicism but they not remotely close. Cynicism is much better equated with pessimism while a sceptic will take a neutral point of view.
I am by nature an optimist so I do try to retain a positive attitude. When I say a positive attitude this does not mean I’m going to preach about thinking positive. Norman Vincent Peale was one of the first to spew this type of nonsense in his book “The Power of Positive Thinking” and Rhonda Byrne decided to dumb it down into her book “The Secret”. Both books take a series of anecdotes, homilies and idioms and convert them into false facts. I have seen this same type of false prophesy preached in the countless business seminars I have attended. (Not by choice but they always got me out the office for the day and usually had good lunches.) Everyone leaves the seminars pumped and ready to walk on water but by half way through the next day when the third client in a row rejected your proposal, you are back to where you started two days before. Thinking something positive is going to happen will not make it happen anymore often than otherwise.  Basically this type of passive thinking and/or cheerleading will lead to no better results. That is unless of course you are Dr. Peale, Ms. Byrne or one of those seminar leaders who have achieved huge numbers of positive results in the way of millions of dollars. 
There is no empirical scientific data that relates a positive attitude to positive results. This even applies to medical studies. Recently, several clinical studies have been done with cancer patients and it was determined that tumours in a patient with a positive attitude showed no marked shrinkage due to treatment than those with a more negative attitude. What the studies did show however is that those with better attitudes will live fuller, happier lives while in treatment and beyond.
The true benefit of remaining positive is that you are able to accept your failures and to either move on or attack your problem from another angle. When you fall down, your choices are to either stay down or get back up and once you are up you have the choice to walk away or try again. There is no right choice, sometimes we have to stay down or walk away; sometimes we can return on a better day. The best quote I heard about this is from Michael J. Fox “The difference between acceptance and resignation is that I accept my situation but I’m not resigned to that being the way it always will be.” 
The best thing about being an optimist is that I am able to make the best out of what little I may have or receive. I’m not all that big on making lemonade from life’s lemons but if life sends me limes I’m desperately going to search for some Triple Sec and tequila! Of course, if it is lemons being sent there is always Blue Sapphire Gin!
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Version 3.0...Looking Forward

Version 2.0
November 5, 2010 - Twenty-three years ago today, Lorraine and I exchanged vows in a tiny chapel in Stateline (Lake Tahoe) Nevada and swore to love each forever. Sadly, a horrible disease took her from us two and a half years ago. I loved her dearly and I always will. But I’m not writing this today to either commiserate or garner sympathy. It just seems be a good idea today to tell you how I feel about love, relationships and continuing on with my life.

Version 1.0
I have been fortunate enough in my life to have twice met the most beautiful woman in the world and been even more fortunate to have both of these beautiful women  fall in love with me.

Version 1.0 - I was only twenty years old when I married my high school sweetheart, D.A.  Unfortunately; this lasted less than four years. The demise was hastened by external factors but it would have none the less likely ended and if not at least one of us would have ended up resenting the other. At this time in my life although I have very little communication with this woman, I feel nothing but love for her and have always been happy for her accomplishments in life. Ultimately, it became a role reversal of old fashioned stereotypes; D.A. became a very successful career woman in a very male dominated industry and I did okay as a father.

Version 2.0 - In June of 1987, I met  Lorraine and then married her that same November and shared twenty-one and a half wonderful years  together. Like all couples we had our ups and downs but as we persevered life’s trials and tribulations we managed to raise a wonderful son, Bryan, The Crown Prince,  in whom we both could be proud. (Even though he’ll continue to drive me crazy well into my nineties.) Although it was so painful to watch her slip away, in an odd way, that last year of her life was also very special because we both realized how much we really did love each other... And even more important she became a San Francisco Giant fan! Lol!

I will love both these women until the day I am forced to leave this amazing planet. The wonderful thing about love is the more love you pour into the vessel the bigger the vessel becomes thus increasing your own capacity to love. I take heart in knowing that one day in the not too distant future I will meet Version 3.0 of the most beautiful woman in the world and again I will be fortunate enough for her to fall in love with me, warts and all.

Awhile back, a former classmate of mine wanting to play matchmaker asked me about what I was looking for in a woman. Being the overly serious man that I am, I came up with three very crucial attributes that I have since shared with a few other helpful friends with similarly warped minds. They are as follows: Drop Dead Gorgeous, Filthy Rich and Extremely Horny. Of course, the degrees of one attribute can vary inversely with the degrees of the others. Metaphorically speaking this is true:
Drop Dead GorgeousThe old adage “beauty is only skin deep” is quite the opposite.  Beauty truly is found behind the eyes in that couple of kilograms of grey gelatinous material we call the mind. A person who is kind, loving and caring will always be more attractive than someone who is selfish and cruel.
Version 3.0?
Filthy Rich – A stable financial situation is really important because starting a relationship with someone who does not meet this criterion is only looking for trouble. I don’t mean, she has to be wealthy but the wolf can’t be knocking at the door at the end of every week. It is a proven fact that money troubles are the third leading cause of divorce right ahead of compatibility and sex but far behind home improvement projects and the Christmas tree. Hey, I know that's true because I read it somewhere on the internet.
Extremely Horny –I am referring to a desire to experience all aspects of life with passion, romance and spontaneity and an adventurous spirit with a  desire to take risks... but only to a point. (See “Running With Safety Scissors” )

So if you know any women who meet these metaphoric criteria feel free to give them my number. Oh, and if they happen to be literally Drop Dead Gorgeous, Filthy Rich and Extremely Horny I wouldn’t object!

And by the way did I happen to mention she has to have big .... ? LOL!!!!

Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Whoa, dude are you stoned?"... Halloween Musings

Today, November 1st is All Saints Day also know in medieval days as All Hallows Day thus the night before was known as All Hallows Eve now abbreviated as Hallowe’en. The best thing about All Saints Day as a young boy attending Catholic school was that we got the day after Halloween off while the public school kids had to go to school. Sure, we had to go to mass in the morning but we still had the rest of the day to play and scoff down our score from the night before’s Trick or Treating. Getting all those extra holy days off was the bonus of going to Catholic School; we even got out a week earlier for summer holidays. This almost made up for the horror that was Sister Miriam Henry. *shudder*
But today I’m not writing about All Saints Day, I’m going to waste your precious time reading about my memories of Halloween.
Halloween was not as big of a celebration in my early days as it is today; it was primarily a night for children to dress up in their costumes for a few hours and go door to door accumulating candies in an old pillow case. Then it was back home to dump out the sack and separate the goodies by category; chocolate bars, roll candy, chips, apples and those horrid Halloween Kisses, sort of a wrapped molasses candy. Who eats those things! Yuck!! At least candy corn may have tasted terrible but its tricoloured design was kind of cool.
By the end of elementary school, the idea of Halloween was put on the back burner for a few years. My next big Halloween memory came when I was in Grade 12 when Marla’s Halloween Party was the biggest event of the fall social calendar. Everybody that was anybody attended putting great effort into their costumes. Being on the tallest dudes in the Class of 74, it was only natural I dressed as the Jolly Green Giant. The funniest thing happened walking home from the party in the rain and some random guy comes up and wants to share my umbrella for a bit until he took one look at my green face and exclaimed “Whoa, dude, are you stoned?”.
Halloween lost most of its allure for the next fifteen or so years until my son, Bryan, (aka – The Crown Prince) came along. I have great memories of him and his cousin, Nick dressed in identical penguin costumes made lovingly by their grandmother. This is the only costume that I ever kept in hope that the one day the Crown Prince’s Crown Prince or Crown Princess will get to wear it one Halloween. Of course, as concerned parents we careful sifted through his haul of goodies separating out all those evil Mars and Snickers bars. Everyone knows that Mars and Snickers bars are the most tampered with Halloween candy. This is a fact because I read it somewhere on the internet. So parents should make the sacrifice and destroy them by chewing them thoroughly and swallowing. ‘Shut up, kid eat your delicious Halloween Kisses and Candy Corn.”
During the early 90’s while travelling in the States in early October, I began to notice a shift in the wind regarding this day. People in southern California were decorating their houses with all kinds of ghoulish paraphernalia and lights equalling those we would see at Christmas. It was a far cry from the hand carved Jack-o-Lantern we put out on the porch.  This trend slowly crept northward over the next decade. Another Halloween tradition started about the same time in southern California; Halloween events at theme parks the first being at Knott’s Berry Farm or Scary Farm as it was renamed for the season in Buena Vista. My wife, Lorraine and I had the pleasure of having the crap scared out of us twice there.
We took possession of our townhouse here in North Vancouver by coincidence on All Saints Day in 1994. The night before we decided to drive by and make sure the tenants the previous owner had trouble convincing to move were indeed vacating. At the entrance road to the complex is a large green space shared by three equally large strata groups. We were delighted to find that the neighbours in the area were putting on a huge fireworks display. This was a tradition that continued for several years and was finally put to rest. Something about permits and a burning bush, go figure!
The following Halloween, Lorraine instigated our tradition of decorating for Halloween and started a friendly rivalry with our next door neighbour, Pam. This turned into an obsession for the two of them (and me) and developed into turning our little breezeway into a haunted tunnel complete with boiling cauldrons, creepy music and suffocating fog. A few years later, Mona moved across from us in our four unit square. My first question to her was “How do you feel about Halloween?” Her eyes lit up announcing she too was a ghoul junkie. Now our breezeway became the place to visit in our corner of the earth, getting crazier every year.
Sadly, we lost Lorraine to cancer in June of 2008. About a week after Lorraine had passed, Pam told me a cute story about the three young girls across the road. Their mom, sat them down and told them the news about Lorraine and the first question was “But what’s going to happen to Halloween? Lorraine was the best witch!” It was then that Pam, Mona and I knew we had to do it at least one more time for Lorraine. And we did including a photo of Lorraine in her witch’s attire in my window.
Last year we realized we were becoming tired and all three of us scaled back immensely but still had fun. Mona moved away this summer so the triumvirate was finally dissolved.
Last night I had fun introducing our new neighbours to the joys of All Hallow’s Eve in VR10 and yes, Lorraine was still in the window.
Just as Lorraine was the catalyst for Halloween, Christmas was my holiday for decorating; think Walt Disney meets Clark Griswald and you can imagine my living room at the holiday season. That’s a story for another day.
Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)