“But Tuesday morning, lo and behold, a section of somewhat crappy seating unavailable the day before had opened up and I grabbed them”
Posts Tagged: "Robert Pegg"
“Things don’t go as we would like so we shake things up to get the result that we wanted all along – so long as it serves our purpose”
After being on the waiting list at the London Public Library for months, I finally got to read Ian Brown’s Sixty, a diary of the Toronto journalist’s sixty-first year. Man, talk about your whiners. Only pages in it started to get annoying. I thought he reminded me of someone I knew. Then I realized who it was on page 64. We both weigh 208 pounds. And were born the same year.
I don’t dine at ‘Canoe’ as often as Ian but I noticed other similarities. He’s starting to lose his feathers and his barber is challenged on what to do with that remaining fluff of hair on top. On the plus side, we both still have our boyish good looks and impish grins. He lives far beyond his means and worries about how he will ever be able to afford to retire. During the course of the year long diary he’s forever jetting off around the continent - on skiing trips and to attend reunions with family and old friends or just nipping across the pond to England and Italy – and wonders why. Because he certainly knows he can’t afford it. Oh, there are many parallels between us. And then there is this passage – “Afterwards in the outdoor shower that looks out over the ocean at the distant passing boats, I was very proud of my cock, its girth and size.” Actually, that part is something we have in common with every man regardless of age.
But mostly what we share is probably the same as most people once they turn sixty – the undeniable awareness of the passing of time and how very little of it we likely have left. And Brown ain’t buying any of that ‘60 is the new 40’ bullshit. Turning 50 is a different kind of milestone. When I turned that age, it didn’t bother me much. After all, it’s just an arbitrary number. What’s the big deal? It just means I managed to get through fifty years without getting myself killed. Then I realized I was looking at it the wrong way. I should have been congratulating myself – “Hey, man – you made it through half a century and are still alive! Way to go!” Continue Reading
How about that Donald Trump? Have you heard any good Donald jokes lately? Seems I can’t even turn on the Facebook these days and not find a long string of anti-Trump cartoons, put-downs, warnings and pleas to our American neighbours cluttering up my ‘Newsfeed.’ Geez, does anyone actually like this guy? Does anyone out there actually take him seriously? Because judging by the panic and hysteria he has invoked in my Facebook ‘friends’, I’m surprised he has any supporters. In fact, I haven’t seen even one pro-Trump post anywhere on the Facebook.
Ah, but sadly, most of my Facebook friends are not American voters or fans of talk-radio both sides of the border. Instead, as Canadians, we do what we always do in such situations – act like the junior-high hall-monitors of the world and shake our heads while we ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk’ and sigh just audibly enough to show our displeasure about the state of American society, politics and celebrity culture. And the Donald Trump paranoia nicely wraps up everything we fear in one neat package.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like him either. He’s a first-rate jerk and an asshole. And that’s probably the nicest thing I can say about the guy.
Yet, it’s not as if the same kind of scenario hasn’t happened up here before. In fact, a similar situation was the most exciting aspect of our last municipal election. Our disgraced former mayor Joe Fontana was unable to run at the time due to being under house arrest on his various fraud convictions. The only credible candidates were rookie councillor Matt Brown; Joe Swan – longtime member of City Council but discredited by many for being a member of the Fontana 8; and former councillor Roger Caranci – whose previous years on council showed him to be a supporter of the real estate developers who bankroll most elections. Everything a voter needed to know about him, could be answered with this question: If Caranci had been a member of the last council, would he have been a member of the Fontana 8?
But voters were sick of the nonsense that went on during the Fontana administration. They were sick of old-school politicians. And that’s when Paul Cheng came along. A very rich guy who wanted to be mayor. And for the most part he put his own money where his mouth was. Indeed, he thought he could advertise enough and become Mayor. Because it was very clear from the get-go that he had no idea of what the office entailed. No idea about the differences in governance between the municipal and provincial levels. And despite the fact that he had no public profile within the community and that no one had even heard of him before, he resonated with people for the very same reasons as Donald Trump is impressing so many Americans – he was not a politician and he spoke his mind with no regard for self-censorship even though it was obvious that when it came to local issues and municipal concerns, he often didn’t know what he was talking about.
In the late days of wintertime, a middle-aged man’s fancy turns to thoughts of death. At least that was the way it was with me a couple of years ago. I’d spend most of my days sitting in a chair in the living room staring out the front window. For some reason, at the time I was sure I was dying. Turns out I just had anemia. Nothing a couple of blood transfusions couldn’t cure.
Anyhoo, I began planning my own funeral service. I didn’t want the standard sort of thing. I’m far too humble for that. What I thought I’d do was hire a speaker who would come in and talk about what a great guy I was. And how I was the type who was never ashamed whenever I was in some kind of trouble to get right down on my knees and pray to God. And that I used to think of Jesus as my buddy and talked to Him all the time no matter where I was or what I was doing. The really good part of this speech comes about right at that point. I’d hire this guy I knew in prep school, Edgar Marsalla from Pencey Prep to do me a favour and right when the speaker was telling about what a swell guy I was and what a hot-shot and how I used to talk to Jesus even when I was driving my car, ol’ Marsalla would lay this terrific fart. Sure, it would be a very crude thing to do, in chapel and all but it’d also be quite amusing.
I scrapped that idea though. I got a big kick out of it at first but then I didn’t feel like it anymore if you want to know the truth. You have to be in the right kind of mood for that sort of thing to work. And when I later found out that I wasn’t really dying after all, I just lost interest.
The Canadian Screen Awards will be handed out on March 13th on the CBC but I’ll probably be boycotting the ceremony because my favorite Canadian television show, In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita wasn’t even mentioned when the nominations were announced on January 14th.
Maybe you missed the nomination press conference but depending on how upset you are about the exclusion of In the Kitchen, you may want to watch the actual ceremony on awards night. I’m thinking of watching the opening just because it is being hosted by Norm Macdonald. Norm is a bit of a wild card who doesn’t mind biting the hand that feeds him and you never know what he’s going to say just to shake things up a bit – particularly at an affair of such high-toned self-importance as the Canadian Screen Awards. I’m hoping for at least a few zingers aimed at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television about the fact that In the Kitchen wasn’t nominated despite being a mainstay on Canadian television since 2011. And maybe a few put-downs of the CBC – after all, In the Kitchen is a CBC product. Norm will dish it all up with his trademark disarming goofy grin just so no one will be offended.
Some of you may be wondering, “Bob, just what the heck are the Canadian Screen Awards? Are they like the Geminis or the Genie Awards? Something like that?” Well, the truth is that they are exactly like that. If you remember, the Gemini Awards honoured the year’s best in Canadian television and the Genie Awards paid tribute to the greatest accomplishment in Canadian film for the year. But apparently, the two awards were merged in 2013 and so now with the Canadian Screen Awards what we have is two, two, two awards shows in one. If you are confused, I understand. I can remember when one of them were also called the ‘Etrog Awards’ named after the winning statuette designed by sculptor Sorel Etrog. Incidentally, there is a larger-than-life version of the same statue made by Etrog down at the Forks of the Thames in the same park as the Jet d’ Eau.
Anyhoo, call it what you will – it’s yet another prize for Canadian talent and once again Stefano Faita is going home empty-handed and that pisses me off. Continue Reading
I can remember it like it was just yesterday. Riverdale High in a suburb of London, Ont. Back in ’72.
I was in Grade 11, had recently joined the Dance Committee and we were working on the Valentines Day Dance. It was gonna be a semi-formal. I’d spent the whole week helping decorate the gym. It was my job to go up the ladder and hang hand-cut red paper hearts and cardboard Cupids from the ceiling. Up and down, up and down. You can imagine how long that took. It was worth it though. If not for the omnipresent slight scent of sweat socks, that gym looked like a Disneyesque version of a New Orleans brothel. The Friday afternoon I finished, Todd Wilkins, the student council president yelled up to me on the ladder, “Hey Bobby – nice job!” I couldn’t have been prouder.
Well sir, you can just imagine the anticipation I felt walking to the dance that Saturday night. High hopes on my mind and taps on my shoes. As I crossed the parking lot to the gym entrance, snowflakes were softly falling on that moonless night and glittered in the glow of the lights of the parking lot. It was just magical and I felt about to burst.
But it was not to be.
When I got to the front door, Todd was sitting at a desk taking tickets. Next to him was his steady girl Elizabeth Wakefield, our head cheerleader who was on rubber-stamp duty. I should have known something was amiss when she gave me a puzzled look when I handed Todd my ticket. Continue Reading
Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln recently upgraded to last year’s model of time machine and sold me their old vehicle. S’about time, it’s a drag having to always borrow someone else’s ride. Yes sir, from now on it’s ‘Mr. Independent Time Machine’ for this kid.
I’d been on a time-travel kick lately thanks to literature. Stephen King’s 2011 novel 22.11.63 was about going back in time to the JFK assassination and is also why I’m now convinced that Oswald acted alone and that there was no conspiracy to murder the American president. That said, I’ll be avoiding the new eight-part made-for-pay-TV miniseries based on the book and set to premiere on February 15th. Produced by J.J. Abrams and starring James Franco, some of it was shot around here - in Hespeler, Guelph, Ayr and Hamilton. But Hollywood likes to tinker and I fear just how much they will screw this up. Stephen King is a lone-gunman believer and if he says so, that’s good enough for me. I’m not that confident the TV-people will share that view. King also wrote in his ‘Afterword’ that the best time-travel novel is Jack Finney’s Time and Again from 1970. I read it, and darn if King wasn’t right about that too. I’ve yet to read H.G. Wells The Time Machine but if it’s even half as good as the 1960 movie of the same name starring Rod Taylor, I won’t be disappointed.
Having your own personal time-machine demands great responsibility but as long as I don’t go back in time and kill my grandfather or go to dinosaur eras and stomp on butterflies, I don’t worry about it much. Mostly I just use it for dickin’ around. Fixing my high-school grades and checkin’ out the chicks in those old caveman days. To tell you the truth, there’s lots of times I don’t even get it out of the garage and take it for a spin. Some days you just want to stay home in the present and play ‘Donkey Kong’ on your Sega.
As I type this, I am wearing my Ennio Morricone concert T-shirt. I suspect there’s a good chance that I am the only one in Canada right now wearing an Ennio Morricone concert T-shirt. Maybe the only one in all North America for that matter – with the probable exception of Quentin Tarantino who commissioned ‘The Maestro’ (Quentin’s “favorite music composer of all time,”) to write the soundtrack for his new film The Hateful 8.
Morricone is revered as a god over in Europe, particularly in his homeland of Italia but on this side of the pond you may not know his name or work unless you are more than a casual fan of the motion pictures or a movie-soundtrack geek. Although he may not be a household name over here, all you have to do is whistle the first few notes of the opening theme to Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and people immediately recognize it - “Ohh, that guy.”
It may be the spaghetti westerns for which he is best known to North American audiences – as well as his later scores for films like Cinema Paradiso, The Mission, John Carpenter’s The Thing and Once Upon a Time in America or his experimental more ‘challenging’ scores for the psychological thriller/gore-fests of Dario Argento such as The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. But I’m an ‘Easy Listening’ kinda guy and it was his soundtrack work in Italian cinema during the late 1960s/early 70s with which I fell in love with after discovering them on the Internet radio station luxuriamusic.com a decade or so ago.
Last night I dreamt I danced with Taylor Swift. Again. It’s kind of a recurring dream. Ever since recently seeing her video to Shake It Off from her album 1989 which came out over a year ago, I’ve been hitting that rewind-button during REM sleep on a regular basis. It’s not really anything new, this just happens to be my latest infatuation phase with Ms. Swift. Truth be told, I’ve been smitten with the girl ever since first seeing her video to Love Story from her second CD Fearless in 2008. The follow-up video You Belong with Me from the same CD only confirmed what I knew from the start – that Taylor Swift is just tooo cute for words. She is the epitome of adorableness. But it was finally the video for Shake It Off and the realization of how approachable she is which cemented my love.
Yet, that’s mostly mere obsessive middle-aged angst talking. What I hadn’t known during all this period was how pervasive Taylor’s influence has been on contemporary culture. I’m not talking here about how often she is on the ‘Entertainment’ nightly news programs due to her latest boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. Nor do I mean the mark she has made on song-writing in the ‘indie’ music field courtesy of ‘alt’-rocker Ryan Adams covering her entire 1989 LP. No, I am referring to her influence on modern literature.
Not long ago I was reading Rebecca, a best-seller by gothic romance novelist Daphne du Maurier and about halfway through, it finally dawned on me – Hey, this chick is rippin’ off Taylor Swift! It occurred during one of the best scenes in the book. The current ‘Mrs. De Winter’, a young bride wants to surprise her husband Max when they throw a costume ball and upon the urging of the vile ‘Mrs. Danvers’ she unwittingly chooses the most inappropriate costume of all. Her husband throws a hissy fit and insists she go change – and ol’ Mrs. Danvers is standing there with a self-satisfied smirk on her face – as the poor young wife is overcome with tears. Anway, that scene is soooo similar to what happened to Taylor at the 2009 MTV Video Awards that it’s hard to believe that it’s just a coincidence. Surely du Maurier remembered – consciously or subconsciously – that awards show when she wrote that scene. If you recall, Taylor was just starting her acceptance speech for winning Best Female Video for You Belong With Me when that jackass Kanye West ran up on stage, grabbed the award out of her hands and said that she didn’t deserve it because Beyonce’s video was better. The poor girl – all of about 19 at the time – was so hurt and humiliated she could barely hold back the tears. Just like the naïve innocent young bride in Rebecca.
There are other coincidences. In Rebecca, we never learn the name of that young bride narrator of du Maurier’s tale of woe. She is never referred to by her real name – either first or maiden – in the book. That’s quite a genius literary trick. Until you consider that it is also true of the music videos of Taylor Swift. I’ve seen at least three of them and in not one does anyone walk up to her at the beginning and say something like ‘Hey, Jess’ or do you see her name embroidered on the jacket of her school band uniform. Maybe du Maurier is not as clever and original as some give her credit.
After I realized all this I picked up some of du Maurier’s other paperbacks and saw further similarities in character and storylines with Taylor’s lyrics and videos. Take for example du Maurier’s historical romance Jamaica Inn set in the same 18th century time period of Taylor’s video to Love Story. Or that Love Story is a fairytale like Romeo and Juliet just as Rebecca, is also like a fairytale – Cinderella