Friday, December 31, 2010

ROBBLOG News Years #200!!


The Blog printed below for this year's end has a special message.

However, there are a couple of additional messages before I get to the "real" one. The first message is the fact that the blog is a partial repeat of a blog from July of 2010. The second message is the fact that I did write a "new" News Year's Message- but I can't find the damn thing! I was in the mood a few days ago, so I wrote my New Year's Eve blog to you at that time. I am sure it was heart-warming to say the least but I'll be damned if I can remember where it has disappeared to or what I wrote! I checked all my blog files and I can't find anything I had written in the past few days.

You can understand how many Blogs I need to go through to check dates and titles. I have written several hundred over the past four and a half years.

This RobBlog you are reading is the 200th Blog I have written on this Rob Reid Online Blogspot since February 2010!!

I know. It is an accomplishment. I plan to put a bunch of them in a book- and sell it at bookstores etc; before the end of 2011!

A resolution?
No, I wanted to do it last year and I just ran out of time. Once this next show I am in- Norm Foster's "Looking" that plays in February at the Studio Theatre, I should have more time. Of course, I have another show I have written that I want to produce. Maybe in the spring.
I never learn!
I just keep losing money.

So this Blog # 200. The message below is not one that I have written but one that was written by someone else- someone who wrote it for his own eyes. It is a message I believe in and I find it remarkable that one person was able to write something so compelling and beautiful.

Over the ages there have been many poems written that elicit a wide range of emotions. “In Flanders Fields” comes to mind. How difficult it is to recite- or listen, to that poem each autumn during Remembrance Day services.

The remarkable piece of prose- of which I write, was recorded in 1971 by Les Crane. The prose was rather unknown yet Crane recorded it- spoken word, with a chorus and music. It was called The Desiderata. It became a hit recording.

The original author, Max Ehrmann, was an attorney- turned “philosopher-poet”. It is said he wrote it simply for himself yet it has continued to inspire all who read it. The text, basically unknown in the author's lifetime, was written in 1927. On the cusp of the year 1959, a minister found the poem and added it to a collection of devotional prose he was compiling for his congregation. It was at that time- apparently mistakenly, The Desiderata was thought to have originated in the 1600’s. Further investigation found that it was written in 1927 by Ehrmann.

I play the song on Swisssh Radio. Each time it airs, I stop whatever I am doing and listen to its message of hope, love and good will. I believe the poem offers more- without malice or judgement, in its 33 lines, than most of today’s religious texts.

The message is not necessarily a religious one- but a spiritual one. Spiritual on a level that all people and cultures can appreciate and understand- “Life is good despite all the nastiness in our world.”

May I present to you- The Desiderata- and have a glorious 2011!


(The Desiderata is copyrighted by Bell & Son Publishing. NYC, NY.)



The Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
it's a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ROBBLOG Holidays # 199

For a couple of years now, information about Swisssh Radio has appeared on the first page of the Packet’s U R Orillia page on the Packet Online Edition- www.orilliapacket.com

I did so because Mark Bisset gave me a priority sign-in code. Thanks Mark! I appreciated that.

However, I have stopped writing a little something about Swisssh the Website and Swisssh Radio in the online edition. The major stumbling block? The a**hole(s) who consistently write their two cents worth under the stories in the online edition.

They do it using a nom-de-plume.
I use my real name.

The reindeer crap finally hit the fan after my show A Chatty HANKmuss. Hank- and myself, were cut to the quick. One blogger said Hank was not funny. Another accused Hank of making fun of people with speech impediments.
Poor Hank.
You see, he’s a character on stage and he can’t speak for himself- readily at least.
Someone has to put the words in his mouth.
The “bloggers” also said I wasn’t funny and accused me of the exact same things Hank had been accused of. I noticed too that the bloggers- although not using their real names, felt at ease using my real name- Hank’s too.

The bloggers also couldn’t get the name of the show correct. I swear, not one of them had ever seen Hank on stage, yet they had plenty to say and even tied Mayor Orsi into their Blogs, since the “humour story” from the City Christmas Party was still a “hot potato” and Mr. Orsi was a guest on Hank’s show.

Oh yes indeedy do…

Intelligent questions/statements abound on U R Orillia Blogs. The comments rarely offer direction or positive input and with the fear of me being charged with duplicity, may I say- most are un-informed and “stupid”. I read a few of the blogs about me and thought “Good Grief”! I was advised to say nothing and write nothing but I had a lawyer at the ready!

I wish I possessed the rapier sharp wit of Dame Clare Voyant. She’d send those “Comment Makers” to lonely places of duplicity in the farthest corners of earth with just a tiny utterance of vowels and consonants rolling off an acidic tongue, over ruby red lips and out into the annals of time and space. ”

I “look on the bright side” of not publishing- as Monty Python and the boys sing in the movie- “Life of Brian”. The point is Dear Readers. I have vanished myself, yet I have learned something. No, I am not stating here what it is I have learned. That’s for me to know and understand.

I must say, I did enjoy the creative process and the weekly posting and a brush with editorial fame-
And that’s all I will say.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

ROB BLOG XMISS # 198


A Christmas Greeting 2010.

It’s been quite a year. Now that Christmas is here once more, it’s time to reflect over the past 12 months. Take “Joy” in what has been and what lies ahead.

We celebrate the lives of those who lived with us and have passed onto the next level in this evolution called life- and beyond.

It’s been a year when we’ve had to say goodbye to many. It started with our lovely orange tabby Luma back at the end of February. Cancer took her beautiful, little soul at just 10 years of age.
She tried to stay longer with her Dad’s but it just wasn’t to be. As we rushed her to the Vet Clinic, she passed in Rob’s arms. We had her wrapped in a special blanket.
Our Luma joins an ever-growing list of our “pet” family who have passed.
Samantha-the Irish Setter.
Max and Lucky- our tabbies
and
Samantha (Winterwynd Missy) our first Schnauzer.
We remember each and every one with much love.

These days Pine Tree House is still filled with happy pets.
Kiki- our yellow lab is a glorious 14 ½ years old. She loves her walks and laying in front of the fire. Doing stairs is a bit of a chore for her these days but her eyes still sparkle with great love and joy!

Missy, our exuberant mini-Schnauzer was six last month. She “sings” when we take her leash down from its hook inside the closet. She clings to Kiki and loves to snuggle next to her Dads. Missy has welcomed Dickens and Doyle into the household and has bonded with each of them- except when they purr too loudly when she’s trying to catch a snooze. Then, it’s get me away from these cats! Kiki just goes with the flow!
Dickens and Doyle?

On September 19th we added two new members to our family- Dickens and Doyle, a pair of orange kittens- brothers, from the OSPCA. Doyle is named after Luma (Luma Doyle). Dickens- because he is one. The name has a nice “Holiday Ring” to it-doesn’t it? On December 19th they were 6 months old. The “boys” have been a lot of work for us!
A lot of training. Some upsets but much progress. We’ve never had kittens in the house before. Max, Lucky and Luma were all about a year old when we welcomed them to the family. These boys keep their Dads busy. They’ve grown like wild fire and have been neutered already. Both of them love to lie atop the leather chair- next to the Keeping Room window. The bird and squirrel feeder stands just a couple of feet away. Plenty of action there to keep them occupied when they’re not watching TV or the computer screen perched on a comfortable lap.

Unfortunately, our year had been sprinkled with other losses.

Our dear friend Sharon Foster- Jim Foster’s wife, passed. We bet he still reads his columns out loud to her for approval from afar. We’ll always remember her laugh!

A long-time family friend Marion Cox passed as well. A small family turnout but when you reach 90 years of age, many have already gone before.

Our neighbour Heidi Birch. She is missed.

Barry Norman who Rob worked with in Broadcasting since the mid 70’s.

Then, Olive Corrigan. A dear, sweet lady who supported us in everything we did. We miss hearing her cheery voice over the phone- “Hello Dear, how are you two?”
We miss the Martini’s on the verandah.
Her laughter.
Her perfect nails.
Helping her up to her apartment after a dinner out at StoneHedge at Vilda and Jack’s.
Olive fought cancer and when the drugs became too much, she opted for “quality of life”. Her last year was brilliant! On our last outing together, we had a picnic at the park and took in the band concert at the Aquatheatre. Just Olive, Rob’s Mum and the two of us.

Then, a day or two ago Cousin Judy’s husband Doug passed. Unexpected. A memorial service for Doug will be held after Christmas.

Here at Pine Tree House, we both have our health and great love for each other.
We will celebrate our 26th Anniversary on April 4th. Last year we headed back to Hawaii for out 25th. It was a special holiday. We walked to the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, where we had our first breakfast together- on the beach. We stayed at a wonderful, small condominium Hotel called The Cabana where the staff treated us very well. It was a marvellous time.

Our kitchen had a complete reno in the spring. It’s first in 18 years here. Then, we replaced the carpet with wood flooring in the Rose Madder Room and in January a new Master Bath is in the plans.

Swisssh Radio is still broadcasting and is four years old in March 2011.

Tom is still flying with Air Canada and landed in Paris for the first time this year. We want to go there together some time soon.

We’ve seen some wonderful Musical shows this year- Wicked and Priscilla among them. We’ve just ended the year with our own production of a show Rob wrote called A Chatty HANKmuss. Cast and crew of 14. It was a big job but we had a lot of fun.

Our gardens were gorgeous this past summer with many accolades from people passing by on the sidewalk. Boy, the neighbourhood’s changed! Although many past neighbours have moved but there are new neighbours to meet and get to know.
The evolution of time and place.

There have been some interesting family times. Laughter, Bar B Q’s, Picnics and dinners. Both tears and happiness. Some health concerns but we are staying positive.

So Dear Friends and Family, here’s our chance once again to wish you Health and Happiness not only during this Christmas Season but the whole year through. Take kindly to the passing years and grab a quiet moment or two when our busy lives allow.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Pine Tree House.

Rob & Tom

Kiki, Missy, Dickens and Doyle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

ROBBLOG # 197


Hi Santa:

It’s me, Virginia. Crummy picture eh? I wasn't ready when the photographer clicked the shutter.
Goodness!

After reading your letter yesterday and sending my reply I got to thinking. That’s something I do quite a bit of these days.
I am retired now… look at that! Me telling you what I am doing.
You know that don’t you?
You know everything- don’t you?

Of course you do. The Internet and e-mail must be an absolute “joy” for you. How it must simplify things at the North Pole.

Now, just in case you have me confused for a minute with another Virginia (although honestly how could you?), I’ve taught school for darn near 40 years. I retired a few years ago but I am still quite active in many things.
For instance, I pay piano for a local chorale group and I have been asked to pay on occasional for one of our local theatrical groups.
I get a real charge out of that- to be sure!

My husband Bernard is a retired “Postie”. That’s right he delivered not only children’s letters to you but letters you wrote back. He always considered that task to be one of the most important things he did throughout the year!

We both still love “Christmas”- in a kind of non-secular way. Bernie and I don’t associate or identify ourselves with any organized religion but we have a keen “spiritual” side to our lives and we love to commune with nature- especially in the summer when we hike, swim, boat and play tennis.
Yes- tennis!
Our lives are very full indeed.

We collect goods and organize shelves for our local food bank and this time of year we delight in serving up turkey dinners for those less fortunate. Why on Christmas Day we’ll be helping to feed a Holiday Dinner to 300 local citizens who are alone or are just not able to afford the trappings of a real Christmas Dinner.
Our hearts shine and our spirits soar for days afterwards.
We try to save some of that “spiritual” lift to last us the entire year through.

Our son and daughter have families of their own now. Sophie- our daughter who is a teacher just like her Mother, met and fell in love with a guy named Bill about 10 years ago. Bill’s a banker and they have two kids- Randy 8, and Mark 7. We love those two guys to bits.

Not to be outdone, our son Timothy and his Husband of 15 years- Harrison, have three kids- two beautiful girls Sasha 10 and Virginia 9. Yes- named after me! They also have a son Trevor, who just turned 13 and starts High School soon.
A real Teenager! He’s a Golf nut too and goes out to play nine holes with his Grandfather when the mild weather allows. Timothy and Harrison own five décor and home stores called “Aplomb”. They are very successful business men- as well as family men!

We love being Grandparents and love Christmas with our Family members. Somehow we manage to share all the kids with the other Grandparents and more often than not, we all get together.
We almost need to rent a hall!

I have a lot of wishes this year Santa. Oh, none that you could stuff into that big “magic” bag of yours and carry down the chimney but wishes with a much broader spectrum than my own immediate family.
For instance,
Could you bring some peace to Mrs. Berkshire who lives next door? Her husband passed last year and she’s having a rough go. Her family is near and Bernie and I invite her over for dinner and a movie when we can.

Now, about those boys and girls in Afghanistan. Could you try to place a “force-field” of safety around them and those they are protecting? It seems that God doesn’t care much or has forgotten them along with the people who live in that part of the world.
Oh! Look at me talking as if there was even such a person as God.

She or He is really more of an idea actually- isn’t that right?
It’s a feeling. A “Grace”. A quietness.
Just not a person.

I always say to Bernie if folks would take all that energy- as well as all that money, they give to those houses of religion and funnel them towards peace, togetherness and happiness, our short stay on this planet would be more of a kinder, gentler nature.
Wouldn’t that be grand?

Could you also help the “right” to not tarry too far in that direction? It just breaks down a lot of things that only have to be built up again when they falter- and they will- falter.

I hope you also take a moment to relax during this Holiday Season. Oh, I know that’s not even possible until Boxing Day but take some deep breaths during the next few days. I know the Elves and Missus Claus help get you through. I hope she received the red scarf I found up at Winners and sent to her a week ago. I know it’s her favourite shade of red and I just couldn’t resist.

Thanks for lending an “ear” Dear Santa and if I don’t hear from you before the Holiday gets into high gear- all the best- and to yous and your team a “Good Night!”

Virginia

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ROBBLOG #196

Dear Virginia,

Sorry I haven’t written to you these past couple of weeks but we had a slowdown in the rocking horse department in the Toy Shop here at the North Pole. One of the Elves fell off his rocker!!

OH- HO HO HO!

I love that joke…

But seriously Virginia you’d think it was Easter and not Christmas. Did you hear that several ***holes were trying to put the nails to my good friend Hank and his Christmas Show- A Chatty HANKmuss, that he MC’s at the Stubley Auditorium a week or so ago.

Goodness Virginia, those lovely Garage Door Players were only trying to have some fun, make a few bucks and pass along some of the proceeds to a local organization- Couchiching Jubilee House. I have hereby put the names of those atheist bastards in my big book of names under Naughty Freekin’ Naughty!
Ho Ho Ho!
Sorry ‘bout the language Dear but Santa’s balls are really twisted in a knot over that one.

Then, my Darling Virginia, there’s the little matter of those Pagans dancing around a fire on the Winter Solstice, smack dab in the centre of the season- stripped to the bone…well the gentlemen at least. Why can’t they just head to the mall and shop ‘till they drop like every other Canadian or take a tablet from the Roman’s Book and throw a few unnecessary people to the lions- starting with those ***holes I mentioned above?

So many questions my Dear Virginia- and just as a sidebar, do you know why that Stephen Harper is still Prime Minister? For Santa truly does not. In fact this whole wonderful Country of Canada- which has always been Santa’s favourite, is moving more right than a Gay whore trying to find a hole in the dark!

No Matter My Dear. I really must get back to the Elves or they’ll be talking another non-union Coffee Break. Oh- Mrs. Claus and I are going out to a movie tonight. We hear Hugh Jackman is showing his hairy hieney in his latest film and we both want to see that in wide screen.

Write when you can Virginia.

Your friend,
Santa.

Dear Santa,

Don’t you know I’m a Presbyterian and I shouldn't hear swear words like ***hole because they might warp my mind. Of course, it’s no worse than the stories my Uncle Nuddly told my brother Bobby about Catholic Priests and Altar Boys when he gave him a bubble bath! Did I tell you Bobby now lives in the Church/Wellesley Village, works at Priappe and pole dances at “Sailor”?
Another time perhaps…

Yes, Santa, it is a shame that that some people need to slime others. In fact I know that those men didn’t even have the kahunas to sign their own real names. I've herad some people say they need to have something rough and rusty shoved where the sun don’t shine and see if they think that’s amusing- or intelligent at least.

As for the Pagans and their dancing naked in the winter moonlight- my brother Bobby- although not a Pagan to my knowledge, used to do that every Holiday Season with his friend Roger. After a few shots of Vodka they’d strip to the buff, wrap some tinsel around their “continental shelves” then hang a ball or two on their…ummm…thingies and roll around in the flakey softness while singing- “Joy to the World” at the top of their lungs. Santa, you must promise me that you will never ever tell Bobby what I just told you. I mean, I mean...well, just don't- Okay?

As for Mr. Harper, all I know is my Minister says he’s the Devil’s Child and she says soon he’ll be having us all drop to our knees and kiss his bunions. Whatever that means. She also says Justin Trudeau is our only hope- even though he wears pelts to keep him and his family warm instead of buying coats sewn from man-made materials and assembled in China like the rest of us.

So Santa, I have to wrap some gifts now and bake some shortbread cookies. I’ll leave you a half dozen on the sideboard in the dining room come Christmas Eve.

Your friend,
Virginia

Monday, December 20, 2010

ROBLOG #195


'Tis the Season 2010...

“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly…Fah, Lah, Lah, Lah, Lah,Lah,Lah,Llah,Lah”
Wasn’t Dame Clare fantastic in “A Chatty HANKmuss?”

Don’t you just love the Holiday Season?

Can’t find a parking place when you need it. People bumping into you with their shopping carts at every store where you shop.

Items out of stock. Sizes out of stock. Kids screaming. Kids crying. Mothers and Father’s yelling “Shut Up or we’re going home right now!”

Busy streets. No time to cook. No time to read. No “down time”. Concert here. Recital there. A Show that just closed at The Stubley.
A Cast & Crew party.
Talk of next year’s show!

Hiding gifts in closets. Forgetting where you hid a gift.
Two Open Houses, a Christmas Party and three “drop by for a just a while”-all on the same evening!
Shovelling the front walk.
Mailing Christmas Cards. Mailing packages that you hope will make it in time.
Returning telephone calls.
Shopping at Wal-Mart Superstore at 3a.m.

Listening to Swisssh Radio-Playing Your Holiday Favourites for the 4th year in a row!!

Making Hot Chocolate. Baking shortbreads…
Ummm… Buying shortbreads because there’s no time to bake them.

A hot apple fritter and an Orange Spice tea at Mariposa Market.

Then Christmas Day.
Why can’t we go away for Christmas?
Taking off to shop in that cute little Victorian Town of Port Perry.
Flurrries and Squalls when you have to be somewhere. The rotten condition of city streets after a snow storm- ruts and bumps and ice and snow. The Works department failed Snowplowing 101- again.

Chopping wood for the fire.
Flicking a switch on the gas fireplace.

Learning dialogue as you listen to Rita MacNeil sing “Deck the Halls”.
Watching Scrooge on Blu Ray.
Replacing all the old Christmas Lights with new LED lights. Three hundred and sixty dollars later-priceless!


Decorating the Tree. Afterwards, sitting down with a Hot Chocolate in your favourite chair when one of the light sets go out. Dropping a favourite ornament. It smashes into a thousand pieces. Damn!
Setting up the Nativity Scene. Can’t find the Mary figurine? The cat chews one of the little sheep. You chew out the cat! Remember to hang the wreath on the gate.
I need a Bailey’s in front of the fire. The bottle is practically empty. Off to the LCBO.
Oops! Can’t find a parking place.
Shopping for Christmas Stocking Stuffers. I love the dollar store.
Watching a favourite Christmas Movie like “Love Actually…” and crying again.

Strolling the neighbourhood on a mild December night with the snow gently falling-just to look at the lights.
Watching the Canada Geese at the Park and wanting to tie a red ribbon around each of their necks.

Gift Shopping for a Christmas Eve Birthday. What’s that all about?
Buying a decorative acrylic Church from Hallmark-made in China, only to find the same thing is less than half the price at another store.

Family.
Don’t even go there.

Spending the “stash of cash” you stashed away last summer. It’s only money.
Have another Bailey’s and not caring if another damn light set has gone out.
Thinking about going to a show and shopping in Toronto- or New York City.
One has to dream, eh?

Don’t you just love the Holiday Season?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

ROBBLOG #194 W E E K E N D EDITION


It must be the Holiday Season.

The Reindeer “poop” is being flung and it has a nasty smell! The Festive Feces is flying on two fronts. One concerns family.
The other concerns the bloggers who populate the Orillia Packet Online.

Where to go first?
Let’s do the family thing shall we?

My family has a hard time dealing with Tom-my husband, and I. It’s been difficult for over 25 years! It’s not an easy life having a Gay man in the family- let alone a Gay man who is totally out there, in your face and married to boot. My Brother never came to the wedding five years ago and we have yet to talk about it. My Mother showed up as if she was an audience member at one of my shows/plays. She didn’t even come to the house the day before or the day of- the wedding.
There was no “family” joy in that day.
I think we were like a freak show to them.
My Mother asked- Why do you have to make such a big deal of it with everybody?
For three months I never spoke to her before my wedding day. She only relented and came in the week prior.

Nobody threw a party for us.
Thanks goodness for good friends- like Jeannie and my brother-in-law Ted, who stood up for us and all the others who came and celebrated. Ted travelled all the way form Edmonton. Even Tom’s sister- who lives in Toronto, nor his Father from Don Mills, showed up.
You see it’s not all my side of the family.
I barely talk to Tom’s Dad to this day.
No, not because of his no-show at our Wedding- oh no! I kicked him out of our home a few Thanksgivings ago when he ignored the fact that I was there. In my own house.
After what? 20 years? When was he going to get it through his head that we were and are- a couple? 26 years later come April 2011!

Don’t you just love Families?

I can be a snob. I know I can. I have high ideals and expectations. My family can’t quite grasp that.
Tom and I have a nice home. Nice things.
I don’t like sitting around a dinner table, place-set with paper plates and all manner of cutlery and glassware.
I don’t like buns being tossed in the air from one end of the table to the other- or watching my sister make mashed potato sandwiches- her childhood favourite.
Years ago, that didn’t bother me. It was just the Christmas Holidays as I knew them. It was fun. Memories are warm. I still miss my Dad’s laughter at Christmas and his joy seeing me open a special gift he had bought for me- all on his own. It was my family and that was what I was used to seeing.

However, over the past three decades, my tastes have changed.
I have evolved.
That’s my impression.

I have travelled and seen other countries and peoples. I like things to be nice. Working for the airlines taught me that. It’s just a natural offshoot of being an airline employee and being with and talking to people from around the world.
I suppose I have left my family in the “fairy” dust.
We did move back to Orillia 18 years ago. I often wonder what it would have been like if we had stayed in Mississauga or moved out west to British Columbia. We do have some really wonderful friends here and I believe, I would not have returned to my broadcasting career nor become involved in theatre, if we hadn’t called Orillia home these past years. Still, Tom and I are just too much for my family- some of his too.

Case in point is my show “A Chatty HANKmuss”. I worked for 5 months on that show. Had some wonderful guest stars like Sherry Lawson and Mayor Orsi- and yet none of my family came. Not even a phone call to say “Break a Leg”. That’s all I really wanted. Just a call to say hope it goes well. I would have given them all “freebie” tickets- if they just had of asked.

My Mum tells me she wasn’t sure when the show was- we talked about getting tickets last Wednesday- three days before the show.
Then, she says she didn’t know where to get tickets.
Ummm. Call me and ask?

It goes on. I just get so stressed about it- and emotional. I just want to scream and move so far away they never will find me.
Happy Holidays, eh?

Then, upon reading the Packet Online, some Orillians- hiding behind nom-de-plumes, have criticized both my person as well as my “character” Hank. This has happened because I had Mayor Orsi on the show Sunday afternoon- long before he was a guest at the City’s Christmas Party. If you live in Orillia and area you will know that Mayor Orsi was a little unhappy with some of the content in the skits performed at the City Party. That has ballooned into a huge fight between…well, I am not sure who.
Some City staff.
Local citizens?
It’s all confusing.

Now these citizens have taken to saying Hank is making fun of people with “lisps” and speech imperfections.
Cripes!
I have done Hank for five years now.
Nobody has complained before.
Besides, Hank does not “lisp”. He has a distinctive speech pattern that results from wearing braces in his youth. His vocal ability was absolutely “normal”- whatever that may be, before the “braces of his youth” were removed.

Hank is more than a voice. He’s a pair of glasses and a distinctive bit of body language.
He’s a happy soul.
He’s a fishing hat or a Santa toque- with distinctive eyebrows.
He’s the teller of long, involved stories with simple punch lines.
He’s developed a following of sorts.
He’d do anything for anybody- and does.
Last week he performed with friends for the Orillia Business Women’ Christmas Dinner.
Then of course, “A Chatty HANKmuss” with some proceeds to Couchiching Jubilee House. So, to have him ripped apart by several bloggers who have never even seen him perform “live” and in person is disheartening and very sad especially at Holiday Time.

I have been told to let it go but when you see your name in the Online paper- and Hank’s too, it hurts.
There is no malice involved in what Hank says or does. Nor is there malice or ill intent in any of the other characters I have developed and written for my shows such as:
Lottie,
Mrs. Sophie Steeper,
Vildastern,
Aunti Doris,
Mrs. Whitchurch or even Hank’s Mother.

These same dissenters probably laugh at-
Gay jokes,
Racial jokes,
Jim Foster,
Rick Mercer,
22 Minutes,
Miss Enid,
The Royal Canadian Air Farce,
Charlie Farquarson
Mrs. Valerie Rosedale and a bevy of others.

Reindeer Poop indeed!

I am watching where I step, for I am certain- being the season of Mr. Clause, the Christ Child and all, there is much to be flung!
I'll be damned if it spoils my Christmas. My spirit will still be flying high- trust me.
I love Xmiss!

Merry Christmas, eh?

Friday, December 17, 2010

ROBBLOG #193

Blogger's Note:
I hope to write my 200th Blog on Christmas Eve.
A Christmas Gift to myself!


‘Tis the season, I know.

Fah-La-Lah-Lah-Lah!
However, it’s picking on the Americans time.
In a loving friendly, holidayish sort of way.
We should be very smug about the things we know and the things Americans don’t.

Have you ever listened to a Yank explain Canada? Remember Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans? An American Radio friend a couple of years ago had no idea that we celebrated Boxing Day right after Christmas Day.
Two holidays in two days?
He couldn’t get it through his head.
Then the early Thanksgiving?
He almost passed out!

It’s sad- yet funny, when one of their so called “newspeople” can’t even get information about us correct. Happens all the time.
Are they snobs?
Are they just self-centred?
No. They just have blinders on.
If it doesn’t do anything for American and Americans, they could care less.
They confuse easily too.
Watch a Canadian Star on an Americam talk show and seldom do they mention Canada.
The audience can’t understand it.
They don’t know about it.
We might just as well live in caves. They just believe it snows in Canada 365 days a year!
Now, take that show “How I met your Mother”- the one with the Canuk gal on it.

At least I believe she’s really Canadian. They- the writers, are always making fun of her “character”- and Canada. I can’t watch it for that reason, although I like Neil Patrick Harris. He’s cute. A good actor and Gay! Yup. Queer as a three dollar bill- even a two dollar bill and soon the adage will be “Queer as a Penny!”

I digress.

American writers always show their lack of knowledge of Canada with their humour.
I mean really!
Bars where everyone wears red plaid shirts and parkas?
Ok, maybe there one or two in downtown Orillia, just along West Street South between Mississaga Street and Colborne Street.
Maybe there are a few.
Yes. Okay. Maybe there are bars and pubs like that- but not all bars.
During the Winter Olympics, in a video explaining “us”, by U.S. Newsguy Tom Brokaw, he says “Canada from Sea to Sshining Sea”.
Ummm. That’s a little Yankee Doodle.
We say- “From Sea to Sea”. That’s our motto.
For the most part though, the video was pretty good.

There are more people in the state of California than all of Canada a co-host remarks on screen.
However, Mr. Brokaw says, Canada has a stronger economy. Oh yes- and Health Care.

Now, about this so called “inferiority complex” we have.
I say it’s really just “smugness”.
It just sometimes sounds like a complex.

Hey. We just know more things. We not only know things about our country but theirs as well. We feed on their movies, television shows and politicians. We buy from their stores. Cross-border shopping is a hobby for those near the 49th. We borrow fashion ideas and we lend them our “Stars”.
We weep with them when disaster strikes- like 9-11.
We laugh with them and at them.

So maybe we shouldn’t feel inferior. Just smug.
A bit of a smile.
A slightly upturned corner of our collective mouth.

We just know more.
..and we shop till we drop on Boxing Day!

Nah.Nah.Nah. Nah. Nah. Nah!
Fah-Lah-Lah-LAH!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ROBBLOG # 192


Today’s column is not the one I was originally posting. I’ll post that another day.

I have something else to get off my mind.
Yesterday, I stopped for Gas at Mayo’s Gas Station there on West Street North. After pumping in 50 bucks worth of gas, I went inside to pay. As I was punching in my debit card numbers, the middle-aged, female attendant said to me:

“Would you like to fill out a ballot and win that lovely gift basket over there for your wife?”
“I turned, looked and said- It’s pretty but I have a husband- not a wife.”

She stared at me briefly.
“Can I fill in a ballot, in hopes that I win it for my husband?”
“Sure!” she gaily replied.
“Gee, I won’t buy him a Christmas Gift until after the draw, just in case I win!”- I blurted.
“Oh, Flowers by June is coming on December 22nd to take the basket and add some fresh fruit to it!”- she quickly added.
“Nice!”- I said smiling. “Have a good day!”
“You too!” I said in the most glorious and uplifting Christmas Tones I could muster. I pushed through the door and out into the cold December day.

“Fuck!” Why do I always have to educate people?”

Most people in Orillia still think that we “Gays” only live in the big cities. I never assume that a man and woman are together when I see a couple out and about- or that a man or a woman, are Straight, Gay, Bisexual, Protestant or Catholic.
Why do other people take it for granted?
Why do I have to correct them?
Why should I even have to hear it?
Do they see my wedding ring and suppose?
I suppose.

Then, last evening I attended an event at a little country church. My Cousin was premiering a DVD he made about the church’s 150 year history and the events over the past 12 months, celebrating the milestone. A committee member of the church had invited me.
I was there to support my cousin too.
There was talk of “faith” by participants in the 62 minute documentary film.
It seemed to me they talked a lot about “faith” actually. It was like they had to keep telling themselves that “faith” was all they had, lest they let their guard down for a moment to really think about this religious stuff and realize it for the “bunch of bunk” it really is.
My opinion only folks. Just Google and learn more or go to the library and read about it and not just the good “book” either.

I didn’t always feel that way.
In my younger years I was a devoted church-goer.
I can’t remember if I ever considered myself a “Christian” though. I think I always associated Christians as being those people who were devoured by a pride of hungry lions on High Holy days in Ancient Rome.
I sure as hell didn’t want that to happen to me.

Looking around that room I saw a group of people who on a daily basis-
Watch television on wide screen TV’s.
Buy Blu-Ray Movies.
Buy 3D Movies.
Talk on Cell Phones.
Fly to Florida on huge aircraft.
Text Message Family and more.

Yet, they worship a very simple time several thousand years ago where a white fellow in a flowing cotton robe- with a dozen men in tow in similar attire, walked around the countryside spouting parables and healing the sick until he was girded with a piece of cloth round his loins and left to die a horrible death pinned to two cross-pieces of wood like a moth in a museum. A picture accentuated by hundred of artists throughout the years.
This is the person- and his Father too of course, that Christians are waiting to see and rub elbows with at a big cocktail party in Heaven.
I mean really. We are waiting for and welcoming death for that one big party because the alternative is burning in the fires of hell everlasting.

But there’s more to the story.
A friend at the gathering introduced me to the Minister Lady and said I was the “Partner” of a friend she works with.
My mouth fell open but I didn’t say a word.
Why?
I usually do.
All I could think of is “some welcoming church this is”.
If it’s so open and welcoming why didn’t my friend tell that United Church Minister:
“This is my friend Rob here and his Husband Tom works with me.”
The issue was skirted.
I felt misrepresented. It was sort of the truth but that 10 diamond ring on my finger says so much more. The marriage licence tucked safely away at the back of my Wedding Photo Album does to.
Why would this friend of any other friend- or family member skirt the issue.
They aren’t the Gay one!
I am.
So, don’t be afraid to say it.
Guilt by association?
Geesh.

Anyway, it bothered me- both the gas station episode and the one at the little church in the wildwood.
I had to tell someone.

Post Script

My friend knows she should have said “Husband”. Apparently a ‘Gay” couple – Book of Leviticus be damned, regularly attaned the church with kids in tow.
Well, I’ll be…

Monday, December 13, 2010

ROBBLOG # 191


Even Scrooge Saw the Light

For being such a nasty sort of fellow, the story of Scrooge along with the Ghosts who visited his humble domicile, has certainly played a prominent part in our Holiday Celebrations. Scrooge has been reincarnated many times over the years by a variety of actors.

Stalwart actor types such as George C. Scott, Michael Caine, Alastair Sim and even Scrooge McDuck have all played the part of the Festive Grouch who gets turned into “a better man than any old man in any old town or city anywhere!”

While watching one of the many Holiday Versions of A Christmas Carol, I got to thinking about people that continue to stir the pot of gruel during the joy and peace of this Holiday Season. As Bob Cratchit once remarked to Mrs. Cratchit over a flaming Christmas pudding -“My Dear, have some Charity!”

It may be someone in line behind you at Canadian Tire. Someone who steals you parking spot Downtown or friends and family members who just can't find it in their heart(s) to move on and forgive and spread benevolence instead of ill-will. It's not easy getting through the Christmas Season without a few blips on the Holiday Grid. There can be friction between relations-conjured years ago, that still rots away at our hearts a bit more every Christmas.

There are friends who continue to think the worst of you and seem to forget the best of you and a lifetime enjoyed while being your friend. I understand that it's not easy to forgive- even at this most forgiving time of year.
I read a quote a few months ago from an unknown author and I scribbled it down on a pad next to my computer. It says:
“People come into your life randomly and they leave randomly.”

I thought it was simple- but well said. It can be difficult to lose friends and family members who pass on to the next level of enlightenment-and leave you behind. Life sucks but it keeps moving forward. Death happens to us all sooner or later. Saying goodbye to friends who have been spirited away to another dimension has happened a few times this past year. That's one example of people leaving randomly. An example we can't control for the most part.

Our Friends leave too. Disagreements. Mis-understandings. Distance. It happens to everyone. However if there is one time in the year where Goodwill prevails, it's the Christmas Season. If Ebeneezer Scrooge can see the light, then there's hope for us all. Love breeds hope. Putting things right is a difficult “Holiday Path” to walk, however.

If you decide to mend a fence or two, what's the worst than could happen? A brick or two might crumble in the wall that lies between you and a former friend-maybe even family member. I know someone who never spoke to a sibling for more than three decades. The sibling eventually died- without reconciliation.
No chance to say “I'm sorry” or “can we talk”.
“Passing on” is the final brick in the wall. There's no making amends when that final brick is mortared into place.

It might be advantageous to the “spirit”-at this particularly social and forgiving time of the year, to give it one more try. It might turn out to be an experience you'll never forget-and I mean that in a good, positive way.

A final thought.

You do have to be prepared to let things go. Sometimes no matter how sincere an orchestrated, heartfelt apology is offered, some situations cannot be reversed. At this point refer back to “people leaving randomly”.
You still have memories of the good times and like the song says- “they can't take that away from me.”

As for Scrooge, at least he eventually saw the light and from that we all can take heart. Learn from his "life" mistakes and let Christmas Joy prevail.

Bless us, Every One.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

ROBBLOG #190

All I can say is- I hope that Santa can take a moment, fly down from the North Pole (Canada) and sprinkle the City of Orillia with Jingle Bell Dust that will give 400 people- or more, the inclination to attend A Chatty HANKmuss.

A tall order. 400 bums in seats!

Four Shows December 11th and 12th at 2PM and 7:30. Why four shows? We really can only comfortably fit 100 people in each show- that’s 200 bum cheeks! Any more and it’s crushed.

Last year, at the Dickens show- A Christmas Carol, there was something like 320 people all packed into St. Andrews on one very special evening. One wouldn’t think it could be that toughto get 100 folks for each of 4 shows.

Oh, you know not of what you speak.
This is Orillia after all!
Hockey Heaven.
If it ain’t hockey…it ain’t on the radar.

People will attend from Coldwater and Barrie and the outlying areas too but we need a bunch of people- especially those who support Couchiching Jubilee House to bring family, friends and neighbours.

Has it sunk in yet that there is no Dickens Reading this year?
I don’t think so.
This is the show.
The replacement Show for A Christmas Carol.

Couchiching Jubilee House asked Hank back in May if he would do a show for Christmas. Hank contacted me and on the second try I had wrote a script that I liked. That script is “A Chatty HANKmuss”. Hank hosts his very first “live” Television TChat Show from the stage at the Stubley Auditorium.
It had been a dreadful amount of work all shared by 14 cast and crew and four special guests.Our show has Sherry Lawson, Garfield Dunlop, Mayor Angelo Orsi and Leslie Fournier. All these fine local celebrities and politicians gratefully accepted the invitation to be on the show and share the stage with Hank!

Daunting, I know.
Hank will be gentle.
Some Holiday Humour at best!

So drop your Christmas Tinsel and your balls…that didn’t sound right- did it?...
and come to our show. We guarantee you a wonderful Holiday time at the Stubley Auditorium at St. James Church n Downtown Orillia.

Our tickets are available at Manticore Books, Shadows Salon, Home Hardware and at Couchiching Jubilee the remainder of this week from 9 until noon at 79 Colborne Street East at Matchedash Street, South.

Please buy.
Don’t be a Grinch.
Don’t be a Srooge.
We NEED your money. It’s as simple as that. We give you laughs and entertainment I return.
Hey, the Shriners will be at each show selling their Christmas Cakes!!
How Jolly!!

Support Couchiching Jubilee House. There’s a dessert buffet at intermission- all included in your 25 dollar admission ticket.

If you can’t purchase before hand, we will have tickets at the door as well. Thanks to all our ticket buyers and those sponsors in our “massive” Chatty HANKmuss Programme.
You have all done well!

Friday, December 3, 2010

ROBBLOG #189 W E E K E N D Edition

Gawd, I am getting old.

I had my hair cut the other day. The white towel and the black apron that Colleen tied around my neck pushed all that extra skin right up to my chin- the lower one.
I had a goddamn turkey neck!

Colleen has this mirror in her salon that is not the most flattering of mirrors. It’s like a mirror you would find in a “House of Mirrors” at a carnival sideshow. When I see myself in that mirror I look fat, old, tired and stretched- even on my “pretty” days.
That turkey neck though is still etched in my mind.
How did this happen?

Then, I have those “Pinocchio” lines on each side of my mouth. I look like a wooden marionette.
Like Pinocchio.
If I were rich, I’d have a ton of Botox plugged into those babies but I’m not, so I deal with it.
Badly, I might add.

Usually, I grow a beard that covers those ugly lines and fat chin in the winter but I haven’t thought about it this year. Then, there’s the cold. A few years ago I started really feeling the cold in the winter.
I hate winter at the best of times.
Oh, a bit of snow during the Holidays is nice but it wears thin after that. Lately, when I don’t have my tootsies shoved into a pair of slippers, I’ve taken to wearing two pairs of socks.
How manly!

Turkey Necks look best on Turkeys

I get cold. I can sit next to the roaring fireplace- yet my feet freeze.
Thin blood?
Poor circulation?
Maybe.
Just old age?
Yes. Probably.

7 months from now and I’m 60! Next month the Government will send me info about my Canada Pension. Should I take it now or in 5 year’s time? The consensus is that I should take it now. It might not be around at 65.

Some evenings after wearing a belt all day, I can hardly wait to take it off. No, I don’t have a big stomach that falls over the top of my pants.
No, it’s nothing like that.
It’s just the feeling of being constrained.
I believe it’s an age thing too.

Sometimes wearing socks can feel restraining too.
I have to rip them off and go bare. Then, I get cold again.

In the winter, I really miss wearing thongs.
You know- Beach sandals. Flip Flops.
I think it’s healthier than having one’s feet shoved into hot socks and shoes. Hard to do in Ontario, in December and January. That’s why I need to be living in the tropics- like Hawaii.
That’s another Blog.

I am getting old. Older. More Senior.
I hate it.
Until there’s a pill to take to rejuvenate the body and mind and make me young again, I’ll just have to deal with it.

Just like everyone else.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ROBBLOG # 188

It's not that I am being lazy- or anything like that.

It's just that these days I am so busy with my show "A Chatty HANKmuss", I don't have much time to think about anything else. Our weekly rehearsals have come to an end and starting Monday December 6th- St. Nick's Day, it's a week of tech rehearsals, rehearsals, dress rehearsals. set building, set dressing and finally four shows.

We are hoping for 100 bums in seats for each of the four shows but it's a Holiday wish that may not come true- without you. We need  people like you and you and you too, to get out there and purchase tickets for a zany, fun-silled evening of song and comedy. I have a troupe of professional actors who are busting at the seams to perform this holiday show for you.

They have worked hard.

We even do a small preview show for the Orillia Business Women, Wednesday December 8th. It's their Annual Christmas Dinner & Show and The Garage Door Players have been asked to perform. We'll give them a bit of Chatty HANKmuss as well as some other stuff , that won't be in the Stubley Auditorium Show.

Information for tickets to that Dinner & Show are on the Swisssh Website under Community POSTED-NOTES at http://www.swisssh.ca/.

Tickets for A Chatty HANKmuss on December 11th and 12th ( 2PM and 7:30PM)at the Stubley Auditorium at St. James are available at:


We Need "Bums" in seats!
Manticore Books,
Shadows Salon on Peter Street South,
Home Hardawre at Barrie Road and West Street South.
plus the Couchiching Jubilee House Office at 79 Colborne Street East Mornings from 9 till noon. Use your VISA there!

Did I mention that a portion of our proceeds go to Couchiching Jubilee House?
They do.
So not only will you have fun, you will be supporting two local organizations- The Garage Door Players and Couchiching Jubilee House.
Tickets are 25 Dollars and that includes a dessert buffet!
Groups of ten or more get a discount.
Yeah!
That info is posted on the Swisssh Website too.

So, pardon my tardiness if I get behind a blog or two.
There's just no time and as Dame Clare Voyant would say-
I mean that My Dears!
I really do!

Monday, November 29, 2010

ROBBLOG # 187


Dear Virginia Adams,

It’s just me again. Santa Claus.
I wrote to you a week ago and I really appreciate the time you took to answer me.

I looked up your last name in my big book of names. Virginia Adams- what a perfectly lovely name!
Ho! Ho! Ho!

If you don’t mind, I would like to converse with you over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. Writing to you gives me a clean, fresh perspective on many events in our world today. It is calming somehow to read your reply.

First of all, why does a peace-loving country such as Canada have to buy all those fighter planes. I’ve always been so appreciative of Canada, allowing me to live here at the North Pole and I value my Canadian Citizenship more than I can say. Yes, the Americans always like to think I am one of them and really if it hadn’t been for their Coca-Cola commercials and Clement Moore’s poem, I still might be back there in the “Dark Ages”- the 1900 hundreds! However, my heart is firmly planted in the True North Strong and Free!

Virginia, I was reading the newspaper over the weekend and I see even more young people are being shot on the streets of Toronto.
Why is this?
This never used to be a consideration in the Queen City. Toronto has always been safe, clean and liberal-minded.
What has happened to my children there?
What has happened to the political face of liberal thinking?
I believe there is just too much violence pumped into our children’s minds and no, I don’t mind pointing a finger to the south. Song lyrics stuffed with violence like "dressing" in a Christmas Turkey! Murders on the big screen. Un-suitable language.
It goes on and on.

How can a country like America, Virginia, do a 360 degree turn and put on such a marvellous celebration like the Macy’s Parade in New York City.
That is beyond me Virginia.

Why in this day of medical miracles are so many people unwell? There are cancers, new diseases, world-wide flu outbreaks, cholera and more. Maybe we just hear about these terrible things more since our media is world-wide in this new millennium- which by the way is already a decade old.
Where did the past 10 years go?

I was just saying to Mrs. Clause the other night- while watching “Men with Brooms” on the Canadian Broadcasting Company, it seems the whole world was in an uproar over Y2K and here we are ten full years down the road.
Oh My!
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Time flies just like my reindeer.

Well Virginia, I best run. Time to feed the reindeer and my “Olive”- the other Reindeer, has a bit of a cold, so I am personally attending to her recovery.
Write when you can.

Your friend,
Santa.

Dear Santa,


Nice to hear from you and I am absolutely thrilled that you have decided to write me on a regular basis. I can't imagine how busy you are at this special time of the year!


I think the Canadian government is just protecting our north from a Russian advance. Don’t ask, because I don’t know why the Russians are flying into our airspace. I thought that country had reformed itself. Somebody’s always got to be bullying someone I guess.


As far as the shootings and illness, I am not sure that I have an answer for you. I suppose to simplify it , I would say that bad things happen to many good people. It’s just a case of being in the wrong place. If someone gets very ill, I guess they have just pulled that particular card from the deck of life.
I hope this helps.
Oh Santa! I love “Men with Brooms” too.
Imagine that!

Your friend,
Virginia Adams.

Friday, November 26, 2010

ROBBLOG #186 W E E K E N D Edition


“Tis the Season"

“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly…Fah, Lah, Lah, Lah, Lah,Lah,Lah,Llah,Lah”

Don’t you just love the Holiday Season?
Can’t find a parking place when you need it. People bumping into you with their shopping carts at every store where you shop.

Items out of stock. Sizes out of stock. Kids screaming. Kids crying. Mothers and Father’s yelling “Shut Up or we’re going home right now!”
Busy streets. No time to cook. No time to read. No “down time”. Concert here. Recital there. Show over there.
Hiding gifts in closets. Forgetting where you hid a gift.
Open Houses, a Christmas Parties and unexpected guests dropping by.

Shovelling the front walk.
Mailing Christmas Cards. E-mailing Christmas Cards. Mailing packages that you hope will make it in time.
Returning telephone calls.
Shopping at Wal-Mart at 3a.m.

Listening to Swisssh Radio-Playing Your Holiday Favourites!

Making Hot Chocolate. Baking shortbreads. Buying shortbreads because there’s no time to bake them.
Taking up precious minutes of Holiday Shopping time talking to a friend you haven’t seen in months.
A hot apple fritter and an Orange Spice tea at Mariposa Market.

Taking off to shop in that cute little Victorian Town of Port Perry.
Flurrries and Squalls when you have to be somewhere.
Poorly ploughed streets in Orillia. Did the Works department fail Snowplowing 101?

Chopping wood for a fire or flicking a switch on a gas fireplace.
Learning the base part in “Deck the Halls”
Playing Scrooge at the local youth group’s Christmas Show.

Replacing all the old Christmas Lights with new LED lights. Three hundred and sixty dollars later-priceless!
Decorating the Tree. Afterwards, sitting down with a Hot Chocolate in your favourite chair, when all of a sudden, one of the light sets goes dark!
Dropping a favourite ornament. It smashes into a thousand pieces. Damn!

Setting up the Nativity Scene. Can’t find the Mary figurine? The cat chews one of the little sheep. You chew out the cat!
Remembering to hang the wreath on the gate.
I need a Bailey’s in front of the fire… The bottle is practically empty.
Tom, please bring more home on your next flight to Europe!

Can’t find a parking place.
Shopping for Christmas Stocking Stuffers. I love the “used to be a dollar store”.
Strolling the neighbourhood on a mild December night with the snow gently falling-just to look at the lights.
Watching the Canada Geese at the Park. Wanting to tie a red ribbon around each of their necks.

Shopping for a gift for a Christmas Eve Birthday. What’s that all about?
Buying a decorative acrylic Church from Hallmark-made in China, only to find the same thing is less than half the price at Zehr’s.

Getting cheap gas is like being a part of The Molson Indy. Vehicles backing up, lining up
and paying up.
Paying for every gift with cash.
Maxing out credit cards.

Have another Bailey’s and not caring if a light set has gone out.
Don’t you just love the Holiday Season?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ROBBLOG #185


Lucy from the Peanuts Gang once observed: “I never eat December snowflakes….it’s way too early!”

She’s a snob- at best, but I got to hand it to the little black-haired gal in the jaunty red hat- she has a point. Even late November snow is way too early.

I know what you’re thinking- I’m complaining and those poor folks in Western Canada are dealing with both snow and cold.
Yikes!- as Hank would say.
They can keep it too. Snow, cold and yikes!

The “slope folks” are always happy with an early snowfall that stays on the ground.
Cah-ching!
Extra cash before Xmiss to be sure but for me it’s a pain.
Shovelling walks. Sweeping off car windshields. Wearing my boots and a fashionable scarf.

This year I hope the City of Orillia will try to keep at least part of the trail system along the waterfront clear all season long. Based on the number of people who walk on that trail system, they can do better.
Hello! Mr. Orsi! Are you listening? Walking can be a rough activity after an Orillia snowfall.

Late November snowflakes indeed.
I prefer running shoe days.
I don’t buy that familiar phrase- “well it does look more like Christmas with a bit of snow!”
Phooey.
Bah-Humbug.

If I want to see snow I can look at pictures.
I can throw a DVD into the player. Just a week ago I bought the DVD of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. No, not in Blu Ray. I only paid 9 bucks. Blu Ray is 30 some bucks. I love to watch Charlie Brown and the kids shuffle through the white stuff while on their way to rehearsal for the annual Christmas pageant that Mr. Brown directis every year.
Good Grief.

I feel a bit like Charlie Brown this year because I am searching for the meaning of the season and directing a Christmas play at the same time. Only unlike the original story of Christmas mine is- A Chatty HANKmuss for Couchiching Jubilee House. I don’t even have to go with Linus to the local tree lot to pick up a tree.
Jo Anne, my set designer looks after everything- trees and all.

We do however, have to be careful each year that we don’t emulate Mr. Scrooge, the familiar, cranky, gruel-loving character in Dicken’s – A Christmas Carol. You know, sometimes it’s just easier to be “Scrooge-like” instead of a “jolly happy soul”.

So, I’m working on finding the Christmas Spirit early because there are just too many Scrooge’s in the world already and I don’t need to increase the membership in the Ebeneezer Society.
Fortunately, I haven’t paid any dues yet.
That keeps me safe from total “Scroogedom” at least for the time being.
If my show A Chatty HANKmuss flops- sign me up!

I am hoping that a whack of the “Christmas Spirit” will fall upon my broad shoulders and I’ll feel the spirit once again. It usually sneaks up on me each year. That’s the fun part.

Hey, I might even try a late November, early December snowflake- regardless of Lucy’s philosophy or personal “taste”.

Monday, November 22, 2010

ROBBLOG # 184


That is so Gay!

I heard it for the first time yesterday. This “catch-phrase”, that straight men- and perhaps some women too, have picked up. I had read about the increased usage of those four words, I had just never heard it in public.

Then, yesterday I was in a store where I was bent down looking at some merchandise at floor level when I heard it. I was alone in the aisle until this guy and his gal came along looking at Christmas decorations on the opposite side of the aisle. I hadn’t even looked up at them. I heard no other words just the guy saying – “That is so Gay!” I didn’t even hear his “woman” answer. They just walked along the aisle past me. I didn’t even see their faces.

I started to fume just a little. I may have said something like that many times before myself to another Gay or Lesbian friend but this phrase from this guy, I took as a derogatory comment. Not towards me in particular at that moment but to some Holiday Ornament that he considered a little flamboyant and perhaps in a negative way “Gay”. That’s the whole point. It was uttered in a negative way. That part bugged me.I’m not even totally sure what he meant- to be truthful. Hell, if I don’t know the exact meaning of the phrase how could he? He didn’t say it as a joke. He meant that this object was “Gay” perhaps but in a bad way- like he considers being “Gay” a bad thing.

What if he said- That is so Jewish?
That is so Black.
That is so Indian.
That is so…on and on.

After a couple of minutes I thought I would search the store and tell this guy I had heard what he said and have him explain the usage of his phrase to me. Yes, I had my Man-Bag slung over a shoulder but I don’t believe he paid any attention to me or my bag. I wasn’t singing showtunes and I wasn’t doing choreography from a Chorus Line. So why did he have to say it out loud?

I did find him a few rows over. I had a good look at him. He was nothing to look at and again was quite oblivious to having me standing next to him looking at pencils and post-it notes. I knew he didn’t say it because I was Gay or had a manbag over my right shoulder. He had just used the phrase to comment on something he saw in a negative way.

It was a strange choice of words for an obviously “straight man” to use. Then, I decided to look for his little lady too. I found her near the tin foil and coffee filters. She didn’t have a clue either. She never even looked at me.

I was invisible to both of them.
I decided not to speak up.
I cursed myself for an hour afterwards. I wanted to know what he meant. What he thought it meant. Why did he use it- out loud in a store?
If he just wanted to draw attention to himself, he did.

In hind-sight I should have “twirled” around and said out loud-
“Listen girlfriend, if you think that’s Gay you should look at this. This is soooo Gay!”
I didn’t but maybe next time I will.
Have a “Gay Day!”

Friday, November 19, 2010

ROBBLOG # 183 W E E K E N D Edition

Dear Virginia,

Is it really too early to be in the Christmas Spirit? The Toyland Departments are open in all the major stores. Parades are in abundance. Trees are decorated, presents are being bought and there are even sleigh bells in the air.
There was a time when people didn’t even think of Christmas until well into December.
Oh,deary me.
Am I wrong to think this way?

Your friend,
Santa Claus



My Dearest Santa,
I understand how you must feel. As if you weren’t already busy enough in December all these years, now most of the month of November is part of the “hustle-bustle” of the Holiday Season too. It has be tough on your nerves and your jolly “Ho Ho Ho’s”.

I guess the plain and simple answer is Santa- it’s beyond your control. Have you spoken with Jesus lately, just to see how he feels? No, probably not. I know, there has always been a bit of a rivalry between you two down through the decades. That’s too bad, because you both only want Peace and Happiness for the human race. Although, when we really look up close we both know that Jesus thrives and survives on having his name praised a little too often. Then, there’s his ongoing threat of a life in “eternal Hell” (should Hell be capitalized??) if you don’t follow his teachings. Now, that’s hardly a way to win friends and influence others- if you ask me.

In today’s world Santa, it happens to be big business that rules our good, green earth- from what I can see. Seasons overlap.
They never used to when I was a child.
I’m not talking about the weather outside either.
I’m talking goods and services.
For instance summer clothes have to be bought in mid-February if you expect to purchase a decent pair of shorts or swimsuit for the warm weather. Harvest décor appears in stores in August. Everything is “topsy-turvey” to say the least.

I guess you just have to suck it up. Money is at the root of the early arrival of Christmas. It’s a good thing you have so many helpers who willingly stand in for you in a pinch.No one seems to know when it’s really you or whether it’s a reasonable facsimile.

I think in a way it gives us all the opportunity to spread Peace and Goodwill for longer than just a week or two- the way it used to be when I was growing up. Maybe we see a few more smiles. Hear a bit more laughter. Maybe the latter part of November doesn’t appear to be so dull and dreary like it used to feel.

Look on the positive side. We go for 10 months not hearing songs such as Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town or even White Christmas. I mean just how long can “Our Hearts Go On” with Celine Dion. It gives us a rest for a few weeks.

I hope this helps you Santa and I look forward to you dropping by on December 24th.
Take care. Drink your milk and just have the occasional cookie or two.
Say hi to the reindeer, won’t you?

Your friend always,
Virginia.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

ROBBLOG #182


Why do some things have to look so awful at this time of the year?

Holy smoke, we don’t even have slush and sand on the streets and the landscape is looking pretty dead and dull. Not so much on nice, sunny, mild days but on rainy, windy November afternoons- yeech!

We need to get out there are rake and tidy up people! Cut off the dead plants. Pull some of the brown weeds. Rake or blow the remaining leaves off your lawn. That doesn’t mean blowing them onto the street or onto a neighbour’s lawn- no matter how tempting it may be.

We need to get the old chesterfield’s and sofa chairs off the side of the road- or front porch as the case may be.
Stop throwing garbage in the bushes just off the trails near the park and along the lake. That is totally disgusting! You know who you are.

If you are damned to be a smoker and eventually develop lung cancer throw you buts in an outdoor ashtray or a can you bring along with you.
Oh sure!
You smoke.
You get cancer.
You die.
Then you leave the mess of your cigarette butts all over the place for someone else to clean up. While I’m on the subject- S T O P S M O K I N G all together!! It costs the rest of us money just to keep you comfortable as you’re lying there rotting, from nicotine and a dozen over lethal chemicals wrapped in cigarette papers, waiting to pass on in that expensive hospital bed with expensive cancer cures, short-staffed nursing departments and busy doctors- who could be out golfing instead of monitoring your demise.
Nasty?
Un-caring?
Probably, however, it’s the truth.

If you install snowtires on your old jalopy, spend a few bucks and get some “press- on” hubcaps. They’re like “ press on nails” and make your car look spiffy. I really hate seeing cars driving about town with black snow tires, rusty rims and no hubcaps. It looks clunky and no matter how shiny your car is- which is usually not the case, it still brings down the neighbourhood.

Speaking of neighbourhoods. Cars are meant to be parked in driveways, not on the street and certainly not on front lawns. What is this all about? It looks like “Hillbilly Heaven”. While on the topic of “Hillbilly Heaven” installing a white chain-link fence on black poles using plastic ties is wrong no matter how you look at it. Yee-haw! Move the “still” to the front porch Maw and keep the fire burnin’!

Now if you still have Christmas lights dangling from your front porch eves or that half- dead spruce in the front yard, there’s no sense taking them down now. I ask you though, to at least replace the burned out bulbs and remember to take the bloody things down in January!
One more piece of awful.
Really awful!
A movie called “The Hangover”. I tried to watch it the other night. It was such a big piece of crap. How do people get money to make something so “off-colour”, crass and un-funny? It was truly awful.

Why do some things have to look so awful at this time of the year?
They don’t really-
It’s nothing that can’t be improved upon.
Have a good day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

ROBBLOG # 181

You’ll have to excuse me, I’m feeling a little stressed.

I have a bunch on my plate right now and it’s not carrots, it’s the workload.
I am directing a show I wrote- A Chatty HANKmuss as well as being in the show. There’s a ton of things to do and remember. If I didn’t have a very capable support staff- as a director, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Of course problems still appear.
Dialogue disputes, costume decisions, makeup decisions and more.
Sometimes, someone doesn’t get along with someone else. Maybe I should say, one person not seeing eye-to-eye with another or agreeing with what another likes or wants. It’s small stuff and it’s all part of putting a huge show like this together. The programme ads are selling well- in fact, we’ve paid for out theatre- The Stubley Auditorium at St. James. Proceeds are going to Couchiching Jubilee House.

The hardest part about this show is ongoing.
Selling tickets.
Getting bums in the seats.
Tickets are out there now at several locations. Check out the www.swisssh.ca website to find out where. The poster with show info is there, as well as information on how to book a group of 10 or more- all at a big saving.
Huh, listen to me- shameless self-promotion.
I urge you to come- and bring your friends, for a Hardy Holiday Chuckle or two.

As if that’s not enough, I am also in rehearsal for another show that plays in mid-February. Then, there’s Swisssh the Website and Swisssh Radio that I have to keep watch over daily. Swisssh Radio starts playing Christmas Music come Sunday. I have some computer work to do in the Swisssh Studio before that happens. I probably won’t get to that until Saturday.

There is this blog as well. Everyday I have to come up with something new. Writing late at night- or in the morning.
This I do for me. I don’t get paid for it.
Last month alone I had over 400 people read this blog.
That’s not too shabby- is it?

Like I always say about my Radio Station- writing this RobBlog is better than throwing up the sash, opening the shutters and yelling to people passing by on the street.

One final item.

I am also about to build the design I made for the Swissshmobile to take part in this coming Sunday’s Orillia Santa Claus parade. I am calling it “Swissshing Around the World” since the parade theme is “Christmas Around the World”. That project has to wait until Wednesday because tomorrow we write cue cards for the “live” Television Show- A Chatty HANKmuss.
Oh well, I can relax come the end of February.

Yikes! I just realized that the Christmas Holidays are somewhere in that mix too.

Then, there’s that show for the Orillia Business Women on December 8th and……

Monday, November 15, 2010

ROBBLOG #180


Oh My God. Poor little snowmen, hung from posts throughout Downtown Orillia!

Who thought that one up?
Probably the same meathead(s) who thought they were doing us a favour when they “re-paved” our sidewalk with asphalt last week.

Not the entire sidewalk in front of our house, you understand.
Just patches.
They even paved part of the lawn. The end result resembles a colouring book of sorts. Something like two year old artists who colour “outside the lines” when working on their colouring book. However, this wasn’t enough for these city guys. They even added an asphalt ramp at the corner so wheelchairs and motorized chairs could travel up and off the sidewalk with ease.

There’s a problem lies just 10 feet across the road, however.
There’s still a curb on the opposite side!

Now, back to the snowmen. More city tomfoolery only this time the Downtown Management Board flexed their creative muscles.
I walk to Downtown Orillia on Friday afternoon to meet friends for a coffee at the Mariposa Market Café. As I walked along Peter Street South, near St. James and the Stubley Auditorium, I looked up at a lamppost because I thought I saw something unusual.
What was it?
The sun was partially in my eyes so, I walked to the opposite side of the post and peered skywards. What I saw was unusual to say the least.
It was a poor, sad, lonely figure slung on the cross-piece of the lampost.
Suddenly, I realized it was a stuffed snowman.
Looking ahead up the street towards Mississaga Street, I saw even more of these creatures slung tightly- with plastic twist-ties, to the tall, black posts. Many Snowman- fixtures of the Christmas Holidays, hung up there on the multitude of downtown posts. Limp, lifeless, friendless, unhappy with their butts “smushed” up tight against the cold steel.

Children passing by may well have wondered at the sight and might well have asked-

"Look Daddy, is that a dead snowman? Who killed them?"

"Were the snowmen bad Mummy?"

"Why doesn't someone cut them down Uncle Bruce? Why doesn’t someone just cut the poor things down!"

Reminds me a bit of all those old Steve Reeves movies. Steve would be tightly bound, half naked, to a post – like the snowmen, on the back of a chariot. The Romans had captured him and planned to show his musculature off in the coliseum the following day- just before a lion tried to rip his brawny bod to bits. Steve always won. He usually threw the lion over the fence.

Hanging folks up was a staple in those old Roman days. When the victorious Legions returned to Rome, often hundreds of the “condemned” were hung on crosses along the entrance way to the city in order to greet the victors. It was a real party- sort of, Roman style.

Now, a similar site will greet Parade goers- and Santa Claus, next weekend all the way from our waterfront to the Orillia Opera House and beyond, unless we rise up and save some snowman lives. Can’t we reach out- and up, and save these poor frosty devils. Can’t we re-hang the poor merry, jolly, frosty bastards?

It makes me sad looking up at them.
I should be feeling joyous not like an extra in a Steve Reeves film.

Send your letters now. Call the Downtown Management Board who perpetrated this horrific act of seasonal torture and ask them to take pity on Frosty and his pals.

I thank you.

N E W S F L A S H

I heard through the grapevine that there were a ton of complaints and furthermore the snowmen will be freed from their pain and torturous positions.

There is a Santa after all.
Praise Santa!