Monday, May 31, 2010

ROBBLOG #76


A week ago I wrote about Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza who live in Malawi- an African Nation.
They had been thrown in a jail in Malawi for 14 years.
Their crime was L O V E.

Tiwonge-33-and Steven-26, are a Gay couple living in their country of Malawi where being a Homosexual is illegal.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like living in a country where having blue eyes was considered illegal. If you declared that your eyes were blue and people saw you had blue eyes you could be thrown in jail. If you didn’t want people to see who you really were- a person with blue eyes, you hid constantly. Probably behind a pair of sunglasses.

Same thing for Tiwonge and Steven. They just happened to Gay. I am thinking they probably didn’t have blue eyes. If you didn’t read my blog about them, here’s a bit of background.
They were arrested in late December after they had announced their engagement as a couple which is against the law in Malawi, as I said.

The story found its way to the front page of a local newspaper. Instead of a long, happy life together, they faced 14 years of hard labour in a Malawi Prison.

They were charged, handcuffed, chained and taken from a court to a jail to begin serving their 14 years. I guess the judicial system thought the hard labour would work the “Gayness” out of them.
I would argue that except for the hard labour and being confined behind prison walls, being locked up with all those men would be something akin to one huge “Gay Bar!”
What was that judge thinking?
To be real cruel he should have locked them up with the womenfolk- especially “the Dykes”. That could have scared them “straight”!
As they were taken away outside the courtroom onlookers yelled things like:
“You got what you deserve”.

A week later the President of the Malaawi gave them a pardon. He made a speech upon their release saying- just to be clear, there really wasn’t a Santa Claus and being Gay is still wrong- and illegal. I would hope he came to the decision on his own but he was likely pressured by various governments, the Easter Bunny and concerned individuals around the world.

Friends who met them upon their release Saturday night feared for their safety and were looking for a “safe house” for Tiwonge and Steven to stay.
Maybe Canada could offer asylum.
Let them start over.
Let them be themselves here in the “true north strong- and free”.
I know Tiwonge and Steven are not Canadians but what a nice gift for Canada Day to the country and the world. It would be a wonderful gesture for all political parties in Ottawa to get together and make a dream come true?

Perhaps the Toronto Pride Committee will bring them to Toronto to be in the 30th Annual Pride Parade on July 4th.

I’m clicking my heels together “three” times and wishing it so.
Maybe you could click your heels together and make a wish too!
Auntie Em would be so proud of us all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

ROBBLOG #75 W E E K E N D Edition

The old lady- who appeared a bit down on her luck, lays her few, inexpensive purchases on the counter in front of the cashier.
The cashier- a tall, slim, 40-something blonde, takes a deep breath and sighs heavily as she counts the items and rings them into the register. With a careless attitude, she says to the lady-
“That’ll be 5 dollars and 13 cents.” As she waits for payment, she sticks a lead pencil into the bun sitting slightly askew on the top of her upswept hairdo.

The old lady empties a small, leather change purse onto the counter and adds up the coins. She puts two pennies back into the purse and smiles up at the cashier.
“Will you be requiring bags today-“ she pauses- “Ma’am?” She stands waiting for the old lady’s answer, hands firmly planted on her hips.
“Golly, I guess I do. Two please”.
“That’ll be 10 cents” says the cashier looking down at the old woman’s change purse.
“10 cents?? I don’t have the whole 10 cents with me. Couldn’t you just let me have the bags today- this one time. I live a few blocks away and it would be difficult to carry all these things”- she motions to the items on the counter in front of her, “and use my cane too.” She shows the cashier the wooden cane, hooked over her left arm.
“Sorry. Rules are Rules. 10 cents or no bags. Now hurry up, you’re holding up the entire line!”

The lady looked to her left and saw only one other customer in the check-out line. The man standing next to her seemed oblivious to her dilemma since he was busy reading the ingredients on a can of spaghetti.
She turns back to the cashier and says-
“But I only have two pennies left. Can I give you these two pennies and bring the other eight cents in on another day?”
“Nope. Ya owe me eight cents more or you can’t have the bags!” The cashier makes a beckoning motion with her fingers.
“C’mon, pay up. I’m a busy woman.”

A strapping, young stock boy who had been lining up clay pots along a nearby shelf, approached the counter hoping to intercede on the old lady’s behalf.
“Oh, c’mon Miss Pennysave, give the old lady a break!”
Miss Pennysave leaned across the counter and pointed a long, slender finger in the lad’s face-
“Look here Sonny…”
“Uh, Johnny.”- the boy tells her.
She pauses for a brief second.
“Okay, look here...Johnny.” She pauses and half snarls at the lad, “You’re just a stock boy. No more. No less. Yes. You’re a pretty thing- I’ll give you that but the price for the two bags is still 10 cents. It ain’t free. It’s not easy making a living with the likes of her always trying to jip ya out of what you’re due.. Them’s the City’s rules. I don’t make them. The pay per bag regulation is a pain in the ass but what can I do about it? Nothing is free these days, so the old woman either pays up or she walks out that door”- she points and motions, “with all these things shoved up her shrivelled old lady ass for all I care.”

She stood upright once more with her left hand placed firmly on her hip while reaching up with the other hand and pulling the yellow pencil from her bun. She started to tap the pencil on the counter, looked at the old lady and shouted-
“I said hurray up!”
The veins in her neck were the size of the pencil in her hand!
“Now for pete’s sake Miss Pennysave, can’t you just make an exception for this one day?"
“Look…Sonn…”
“Johnny. It’s Johnny!”- the lad yelled feeling a little agitated “Auntie Agnes says she’ll bring you the stupid eight cents next time, so just put her stuff in two bags and stop being such a ..”

He stopped himself short.

Miss Pennysave stops tapping the pencil and stands straight up, folding her arms against her flat chest she says in a happy tone-
“Oh, so you’re related. She’s your Auntie is she? Well,”- a slight pause. She looks at Johnny ever so sweetly. “…Johnny- is it?”
The boy nods yes.
Well, Johnny Dear you should have said. I’m sorry Auntie Agnes, I am sure this is quite embarrassing for you not having the dime…”
“It’s just 8 cents, Dear. That’s all.”- adds Auntie Agnes, waving the change purse containing the two pennies in Miss Pennysave’s face.
“ Yes, of course. Just the eight cents.”
“So,”- Johnny interrupts, “You’ll give her the two bags then Miss Pennysave?”

Miss Pennysave turns to Johnny, admiring the muscular chest straining through the tighty-whitey Tee Shirt.
“Two Bags? Just two bags?”
Johnny and Auntie Agnes nod at Miss Pennysave. They turn to smile at one another and then- in unison, turn back to Miss Pennysave. She looks them both square in the eyeballs and says defiantly-
“Why, not on your sad, little, pathetic, tear-filled, flea infested lives. What do you take me for- a pushover? Look Johnny, you’re a nicely built kid and I loves having you around- you know, you’re a Helluva nice piece of “eye candy”. It can get pretty boring for an executive gal of my intellect slapping these register keys all day but just because this sad vision of wrinkles and Depend Undergarments-”
She turns to Agnes- “I’m just guessing here.”

Agnes nods in agreement.

“…needs some help out of the poorhouse gutter she finds herself in, doesn’t mean I give a huge pile of horsepuckey. I am a business woman and if the city says I needs to charge you 10 bloody cents…”

“Now, Dear. Remember. It’s only eight cents. I have the two right here.”- She holds up the coin purse once again to remind Miss Pennysave.”
Miss Pennysave is speechless. She looks at the floor beneath her size 11 feet, shakes her bun-topped head and says-
“Whuck? “

At this moment the man reading the spaghetti can reaches into the pocket of his overcoat and says to Auntie Agnes-
“Here’s a quarter Honey. Keep the change!”
Agnes smiles and passes the quarter to Miss Pennysave.
Miss Pennysave throws Agnes’ items into two plastic bags, passes her the receipt and the 17 cents in change and says with the largest of smiles- “Thanks for shopping at Pennysave’s. Have a great day”.

Johnny flexes a big, beautiful bicep as he opens the door for Auntie Agnes.
"Thanks Dear. You take care of yourself, you hear Johnny. Say hello to your Mother for me, will you?”

Johnny smiles brilliantly and goes back to lining the shelves with more clay pots.

Friday, May 28, 2010

ROBBLOG #74

I didn’t like him much the first time I saw him and I don’t much care for him now.
Stephen Harper?
No.
It’s not always about Mr. Harper you know.

This time, it’s that 16 year old brat by the name of Justin Bieber. I’ll get to the “brat” part. Give me a moment to set the scene.

Master Bieber first came to my attention last December when I saw his CD on the rack up at Wal*Mart. There was a price tag stuck across the front of the CD covering about half of his face. On the back another sticker covered some of the song titles. I wondered how a young kid like him was able to have a hit CD.

The next time I saw this “snarky little chap” in a child’s body was on SNL- Saturday Night Live. He had 4 backup singers and a band of maybe three or 4 guys- all his senior.

Maybe one of the background singers was actually his “nanny” in “background singer clothing!”

As he performed, he appeared to have some difficulty hitting the high notes he was trying to sing. A few days later, I read that the poor boy’s “Puberty hairs” were past the stubble stage and hence the problem he was having reaching for the higher notes on the musical scale. His voice was changing.
Ahhhhh. My heart weeps.

Not that I am an expert regarding “high notes”. However, personally, I do try to choose songs that are within my “limited” vocal capacity. One notable exception was last fall when I had to sing “ The Green, Green Grass of Home” in Sunshine City Theatre’s production of MASH 6000. I worried and fretted over the song. It was set in a high key. I hated the song right from the start but I had no choice. I had to perform it. With the patience of Shirley Snell-the Musical Director and the support and love of the show’s Director- Sandi Atkinson, I was able to make the song my own and for me personally, it became one of my most favourite moments in the show. During some performances there wasn’t a dry eye in the house- not because I sang it badly but because of where the song came in relation to the plot.
Geesh!
Critics.
Finally, the brat part.

I read yesterday that Master Bieber rasised his voice to a Stage Manager of a morning Television Show in Australia. The SM was simply directing him to the set by placing- I would imagine, his hand in the small of his back. It was probably a regular duty for this guy to lead guests to the set making sure they made their way safely around cameras and cables strung across the studio floor.
Mr. Bieber didn’t appreciate the “touching” and told the stage manager to “never F*&*ing touch him again.”
Ooooo. Touchy.
Then, just a few days ago he walked out of a radio interview in Britain, when he was asked a question about the new tattoo he was sporting. This was his first tattoo and Master Bieber had to ask “Daddy” if he could get one- since he was an under age child. He was still a bit touchy about that I suppose. The “boy-king” having to ask an elder for permission.
Holy cripes is this kid going to be a handful!
Hello Ego! It’s me, Justin.

Perhaps Mum and Dad are just holding onto his fame long enough so they’ll get their cut and run for early retirement in a little grass shack in Hawaii- with running water and all the conveniences that an average “Canadian” would expect.
I know, hitting the “brat” would not do any good. Spare the rod and spoil the child is definitely “old school”.

He’d probably have Mummy and Daddy thrown in a Chilean jail and they would never be heard from again.
No, stepping back and taking a few deep breaths is the way to go Mr. and Mrs. Bieber. After all Mr. and Mrs. Brady made it through life with their horde and with minimal abuse. I don’t think either of them ever laid a hand on the kids.
They couldn't have been Catholic.
Can’t speak for Alice though- crusty old broad.
Of course, it turned out Mr. Brady was Gay (in real life) and that was a whole new sausage in a bun- if you get my drift Eunice.
Hmmm. Maybe he was Catholic.

I wish you luck with the young lad Biebers!
You are going to need it!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ROBBLOG # 73

“A Penny for Your Thoughts?”

I’m wondering what fate the learned Senators up there on Parliament Hill, have in store for our Canadian Penny- the once cent piece.

That’s that little copper-coloured coin that holds such a diminutive place of honour with respect to the rest of our coins and paper bills. By the was our “paper” money is now made of cotton and soon will be made from plastic.

Of course we’re talking pennies here so back to the topic at hand. Flip the penny over and there’s our Canadian Maple Leaf emblazoned on its flip side. Who can resist picking up a shiny, new penny laying there in your hand amongst all your change?

The Canadian Senate is deciding if the penny should go the way of the dial telephone. In fact you may already know the decision they made before you read this blog.

If the penny goes, what will we do? We may have to continue to honour its existence. Too much terminology depends on our little penny.
For example, take the dial phone I mentioned above. We still use the term “dial” when referring to making a telephone call. Maybe we’ll still posthumously honour the penny’s memory.

Here are a few phases that come to mind, proving that the “penny” was and is a part of the history of our great country.

For just a few pennies a day
A penny for your thoughts?
Penny Loafers
Pound poor and penny-wise
It costs just pennies a day
Penny pinche
Penny Lane
Pennies from Heaven
and
The Penny-Wise Shop.
Then there’s-
Penny Stocks
A Penny Cartoon
Penny Sale
Got a penny, Give a penny
Penny Jar
Penny-Ante Poker
A penny saved is a penny earned
Penny candy
that’ll cost a pretty penny
I’ll cut you off without a penny
…hasn’t got a penny to his name
I haven’t got two pennies to rub together
The penny drops
Making every penny count
pretty as a penny
save the pennies and the dollars will look after themselves

and finally-

“See a penny. Pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck!”

That’s my favourite.
When you see a penny lying on the ground, pick it up and pass it to someone next to you.
Have them shove it in their shoe.
You’ll have to be creative if that someone is wearing “flip-flops!”
Where’s the good luck in having a penny in your shoe you say? It may not be good luck, exactly. It may be a question of comfort. When the penny’s removed it’ll sure feel better when you walk.
Have a great day. Stay C o    o L!
                                        U

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ROBBLOG #72

“Overcoming the bad times in one’s life, build’s character.”
Discuss.


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Question.
Using Mother Teresa as an example does this mean M.T. didn’t have any character because she was always good?

Question.
When someone makes life difficult for you but you survive the difficult situation, does this make you a better person- a more engaging character?

Question.
What is character anyway? Character might come from surviving the taunts of a normal childhood through your adult life but it may not necessarily give you character. Perhaps you are born with the "character" you become in adult life.

Question.
Does character mean you have a “humorous” streak such as- “What a character!” Could it have a negative connotation such as- “Keep your eyes on that character!”

Question.
Can you change your character? Maybe. I don’t know. It might be in your genes.

Question.
Are we really talking about "personality" here? Does “building character” require professional help and years of counselling and not just the skills learned from living a life?

Final Question.
Do we get dealt the cards of life- meaning we have no control of our character or personality and have to deal with the hand of "life" we get dealt.

So many questions. So little time. So little character. I came across this statement regarding character building and I have been thinking about it. I have to say that those whom always seem to be down on their luck and are constantly trying to keep their head above water, don’t always display the best character. They believe the world owes them something. They turn on you in the snap of a finger. I have always wondered why people stuck in less than ideal life situations just don’t move away. When you think of a big city- like Toronto, the change could be accomplished simply by moving from one neighbourhood- where let’s say drugs and drug dealers abound, to a neighbourhood less troublesome. This is where a lesson would be learned and a person’s character improved upon. Anyone in that situation has to see an immediate improvement in day-to-day living.

If you want to be a writer perhaps living in an unsavoury part of town builds the character you need to add depth to your written word. If you’ve always had to struggle with life then you might have something to say to others.
It might be a lesson you pass on to future generations.
It might be life-changing.
It might help a lot of people.
After all, you lived through the bad times and you’ve turned it around.
You’ve built the character and found the fortitude to struggle out of “the pit” and affect change within your own life first, eventually transferring that change to others around you.

Turning a negative into a positive.
Turning something bad into something good- building character.


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You finish the Blog. Just add your thoughts here or e-mail me at swisssh@rogers.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

ROBBLOG #71

An older Gentleman who had vivid memories of “the Age”- post Millenium, was in conversation with a young student in a designated green space- a park.

“Back in my day in ’10 or 12- something like that, we didn’t have all the advantages you kids have today!”

“Why we walked- everyday sometimes even in winter. The streets weren’t always ploughed of snow- but that didn’t stop us. We built up our heart and leg muscles and we didn’t whine and bitch about it neither!”

“Ya- but…what is snow?”- says the kid.

“Smart-ass! That’s from a time long before the “warming years” as you call them and no “ya-buts” either! Listen here. You kids don’t know the half of it. There were times when we had no power. They were called black-outs. Hah! Black alright. Couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. Then those brown outs. Flickering lights. Wavering hydro. Toast wouldn’t cook straight away in the morning. Sometimes you would have to push the “down” lever on your toaster…”

The kid was about to ask about the strange word that sounded like “Toes Stir” to him…

“Don’t ask! ~pause~ Okay, look, we cooked a thing made out of flour in it. It was called- a “toaster”. These “brown-outs” meant you had to push the lever two, maybe three times. The lever turned the toaster on!”

“Wow!”

“Yes. Wow would be the word for it. Naw, you kids are doing pretty good. You’re all on easy street.”

“Where’s easy street?”- asks the youngster.

“It’s not a where. It’s a state of mind. Look kid. Now a days you guys just have to think to make things happen. You use the grey matter- up here.” He taps the top of his head a couple of times.

“Didn’t youse guys use that? Grey matter I mean…”

“Listen to yourself-  "youse guys". Where in the parallel universe did you learn “youse”?

It’s sad. Listen, back in those days we had to turn on our screens to see a picture…”

“No kidding!”- the youngster shouted as he looked into the old gentlemen’s face with an incredulous stare.

“Yes sir. We pushed a button. Then we had to use a “keyboard” to tell the screen and the “computer” what to do. What we wanted to see. To read. It was slower than molasses in January! This Age all you young people have to do is think about what you want and it’s all there right in front of you- right in mid-air, in 4D no less. Even if you ask for toast- uh, “Crumple” as you call it. No, young man, you have it easy, believe me.”

“I am beginning to realize what it was like in the olden days. I have a question.”

“What?”

“You said Calm Pew Terr. Sounds like something from the dark ages of believing and spirituality. We estudied that topic last "bi-days" in Edupod 101. What was that Calm Pew Terr?”

“Hah! Hah! Well, let’s see. A computer was a device for looking up stuff about maybe a city or a piece of history- like the years when religion held a partial grip on the planet. It kept things called “files” about anything you wanted. It stored pictures, even things you wrote down in these things called documents…”

“Dock You Mints?”

“Never mind, it would take me too long to explain. Now the “AirUDite” you are capable of configuring today is a much faster-what I would call- “process”. Thousands of times faster and more facts and figures at your fingertips than any old computer had. This Age your young brain is equipped with all the necessary circuits to have knowledge right there in front of you- like magic...”

“Magic?”

“ Hmmm? Never mind. Just something else from the “oldentimes” before “enlightenment, harmony and peace”

“Oh.”

“Anything else?”- he asked the young person seated on the reposing area next to him.

“Nope. Hey, want me to fly you back to your Retirement Planet old gaffer?”

“No, I am quite capable of flying my Statosphere back to earth myself! Besides my Husband will have a meal plan ready and he gets all bent out of shape if I’m late.”

“Bent out of….”

“Nevermind. There’s no time to explain. I have got to fly! Nice having a conversation with you- and please- Don’t ask what that is right now! Good Bye”.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ROBBLOG W E E K E N D Edition Blog # 70

It's finally here.
Victoria Day.
The long weekend.

First off. I dislike that term "2/4" weekend that gets bandied about. It has such a "beer" mentality. The weekend after all is in memory of Queen Victoria, so let's try to keep it in perspective.
Just because Molson is laughing all the way to the bank is no reason for us common-folk to use the term "two-four".

Another thing that really disturbs me this weekend is the illegal sale of fireworks to those under age. Typical of a Victoria Day Weekend in recent years, is the sound of fireworks being set off throughout the night. Sooner or later someone is going to get hurt- badly, with a house or two going up in flames. I suspect most of those foolishly lobbing these dangerous things about are underage. Like liquor and cigarettes they either buy them illegallly or convenience stores and other facilities that sell fireworks are not checking for ID.
Our mini-schnauzer runs and hides and shakes whenever she hears them. With a dog's keen sense of hearing, she hears them far off in the distance.

Although- knock on wood, out neighourhood is relatively quiet- so far, a couple of poilce cars have roared down the street. I'm sure they don't look forward to this "first" weekend of the summer. It's an excuse for many to drink and just generally act like a bunch of assholes.

Apparently, last May 24th temperatures hovered around zero.
Short memory, I guess. In fact- no memory.
I can't even remember last Victoria Day. It was Environment Canada Forecasters that said it was quite cool a year ago. These next few days are to be quite brillant with temps in the mid to high twenties. Yeah!

So, have a good Victoria Day Weekend.
Bar B Que.
Walk.
Picnic.
Listen to Swisssh Radio at http://www.swisssh.ca/
Ride your bike.
Swim.
Go shopping or maybe just tinker away in the garden.
Oh yes, the lawn may need cutting too!
It's all good.

Relax and enjoy what we have here in Canada.
The freedoms. The choice. The Human Rights- yes, even to party-hardy.

One final thought. If you didn't get a chance to read yesterday's blog, please take a moment and do so now. It still weighs heavy on my mind.
A bit of good news today- locally.
One of the local high schools in Orillia had a sort of "Gay Pride" week this past week. Some young people coming out strong and proud. I admire each and every one of you. That makes yesterday's Blog even more heart-wrenching.

Have a Happy and Safe Victoria Day Weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

ROB BLOG # 69

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza live in Malawi- an African Nation.
I’ve been thinking about them all day.
They have been thrown in a jail in Malawi for 14 years.
Their crime?
L O V E .
That’s it.
Tiwonge-33-and Steven-26, are a Gay couple who were arrested in late December after they had announced their engagement as a couple. The story found its way to the front page of a local newspaper. Now, instead of a long, happy life together, the next 14 years could be pure hell.

The couple were handcuffed, chained and taken from a court to a jail for their 14 year term of hard labour.
As they were taken away outside the courtroom onlookers yelled things like:
“You got what you deserve”
“You should get 50 years!”
All because two men found each other and fell in love. These archaic laws date from the colonial era.
Although this case has drawn attention world-wide and has ignited debate in this conservative, mostly Christian southern African country- Tiwonge and Steven are in prison. After the Magistate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa’s verdict, the harsh sentence was passed for “unnatural acts and gross indecency”. This is a transcript of what this learned judge said:

“Maximum sentences are intended for use for worst cases. We are sitting here to represent the Malawi society which I do not believe is ready at this point in time to see its sons getting married to other sons or conducting engagement ceremonies.”

Clergy in Blantyre (Malawi) have united in condemning Tiwonge and Steven. One minister says:
“God calls homosexuality an abomination, which is greater than a simple sin. These two must repent and ask God’s forgiveness. Otherwise, they will surely go to hell.” 

In this African Nation, nothing less could be expected.
The lawyer for the couple- Mauya Msuku, has said there would be an appeal. Amnesty International, two MPs from Britain and Washington’s secretary of state all expressed objections. In fact Britain sends large government donations to Malawi. Why aren’t they cut off- immediately? I haven’t read any statement from Ottawa’s Conservatives so far.
I’m still looking.
I really don’t expect one.
I fear that many elected Conservatives would lie somewhere between-
“Totally agree with the punishment to somewhat disagree”.
I know.
That’s an awful thing to say but with the abortion debate raging again in Ottawa- thanks to the Tories, how far away can another debate on Gay Marriage be?

Although it has nothing to do with this particular story, I read this quote today. It’s from a theologian who lived in the 1700’s. He said:

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction”.

Meanwhile these two young men in their 20’s are living in the hell of a Malawian Prison.
Unfortunately, being Gay or Lesbian is still illegal in as many as 37 African Countries. In Uganda- for example, a bill is being considered where repeat “Homosexual” offenders could be put to death.

I thank my lucky stars I live in Canada. My husband and I surpassed our 25th Anniversary last month. The last four just as legal- Provincially and Federally, as the couple next door or a neighbour down the street. It makes last year’s episode of raw eggs tossed at our house and the word “Faggots” yelled at us, quite tame in comparison to the ordeal these boys are facing.

What can I do to help? What can you do?
If I were to pick up a phone, who would I call?
Where should I write?
At this point, I don’t know.

Meanwhile in Malawi, Leaders in the faith community have described the government’s intentions to institute a law that bans polygamy, as being against religious and cultural beliefs. Religious Leaders were responding to reports that Malawi will soon have a law that will deem it criminal to have more than three or four wives!

I only wish I could snap my fingers and have Tiwonge and Steven come to Canada and live the lives they were meant to live.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

R O B B L O G #68

Average time for assembly:
1 hour.
Hee Hee.
Ho Ho.
LOL
Hardy Har.
Guffaw.

Who are they kidding? I speak of the company “Uni-Flame” who made the claim that their Bar B Que could be assembled in as little as one hour.
60 minutes??

That’s what it says just before step one in the 18 step instruction manual. It took us just over two hours- not counting the time taken to open the box and all the packing inside. We laid out the various parts while reading the manual and understanding the job ahead. For the most part- save for a few words at the top of each step, it was a picture.
A sketch.
Sometimes the picture wasn’t that accurate. Like up around step 15 when we realized that we must have missed something in the translation. Checking back we did miss something at Step 12. It was a little black arrow pointing in the direction where the propane hose needed to be shoved. If someone from the company had of been there with us, I would have suggested where they could “shove their hose”.

Since we were doing this alone- without the help of an experienced professional standing there, peering over our shoulder, nobody was told where to shove anything! Looking back those few steps and undoing a few nuts and bolts made perfect sense. It could have been a real time saver had we seen that tiny, black arrow the first time around.

It might have been interesting had we called the 1 800 helpline. Would we have had the opportunity to speak to someone in China? Pakistan? Somewhere in America or someone here in Canada who would have to deal yet again with two inexperienced Bar B Que assemblers.
Had I called to talk to someone I would have come clean right away.
It might have gone like this-

“Good Afternoon. Uni-Flame customer service. My name is Gwendolyn. How may I help you? “
“Yes, hello Gwendolyn. My name is Rob Reid. May I call you Gwen?”
“Of course, Mr Reid.”
“Uh- Rob, please- if you don’t mind.”- I said with glee.
“Not at all. Rob, then. What can I do for you?”
“Well, Gwen ~umm, ummm~ I have bought a Uni-Flame Bar B Que and I am having a
  bit of difficulty with Step number 15.”
“Yes Sir. What is your question?”
“ It’s about…well...the uh- black piece of…rather…Oh shoot Gwen Honey, I can’t figure out where
   to shove my hose!!”
“Oh!”- says Gwen rather surprised!
“As well Gwen, I must tell you first and foremost you are talking to a Gay man with no
 appreciable assemblage skills of any way, shape of form. In fact I usually pay to have someone do this  
 or any type of assembly.”
“Goodness”- says the Operator, “ Rob, I understand completely. Nothing to be ashamed about. 
  However, I must tell you that you have just surpassed my level of customer service ability. You need  
  someone much more proficient and yet gentle. Thank you for telling me that. I’ll get the big gun for this 
  one!!”
“Well, if you think it’s best.”
“Yes Mr. Reid- I mean Rob, I do. I will pass you over to Lance.”
“Lance? Oh, I hope Lance has no accent of any kind. Does he speak loudly and clearly and adores Liza
  Minelli and Hugh Jackman? If Lance is anything like that Gwen, it would be very, very helpful.”
“Of course Rob. Rest assured that Lance is all that- and more.”
  I started to smile.
“As a matter of fact Rob- and I shouldn’t tell you this but- we call Lance “Stud” around the call centre.  
 He’s just what your hose needs!”
“You’re the professional Gwen. Thank you. Nice talking to you!”
"And you too Rob. Stand by and I’ll get “the Stud”- I mean Lance, straight away..
 ~pause~
  I didn’t mean that the way it sounded. No offence Mr. Reid.”
“Non taken. Nice talking to you and I just know that Lance can tell me where to plug my hose!”
“I have no doubt!”
 ~Tee Hee~
“Stand by Rob. I’ll connect you at once. ”

Let’s stop that scenario right now or we may find ourselves “hose deep” in “soft porn”.
Needless to say, I didn’t have to call and the mistake was discovered in a timely fashion and finally step 20 was there in front of us- attach the propane canister. It was smooth sailing from there.

We cut up the cardboard box and deposited the Styrofoam in a clear plastic bag for pickup the next recycle day. Then we took out a steak and a couple of pork chops, to slap on the new grill for dinner.

They cooked to a turn and the evening proved to be warm enough, that we sat under the gazebo and admired our new Bar B Que as we dined.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ROB BLOG #67

Today’s blog is titled “Heard in Passing”.

While riding along the trail through Couchiching Beach Park Tuesday afternoon with Tom, we were approaching the trail area in front of the Champlain Monument.
In front of us- also on a bicycle, was a lady, a senior citizen, with a small dog in the bicycle’s basket. All three of us were in the right-hand lane- the one closest to the lake, which I believe we should be in, whether we were walking, riding or rollerblading.

Just ahead a young girl was walking with a baby in a stroller- accompanied by a young man. They were on the “wrong” side of the path. They tried to scrunch themselves and the stroller to the lake side when they saw the lady on the bike. It was still the wrong side for them. The lady actually had to dismount in order to have the threesome squeeze between her and the railing along the lakeside of the trail.
I moved to the left with Tom behind me doing the same. As I passed, I simply said-
“You should be on the other side for safety.”
We moved along a few feet when I heard someone yelling-
“Excuse me sir. Did you say something?”- It was the dear young lady.
I called back to her-
“I just said that for safety sake you should be on the other side in case more bikes come and they don’t see you soon enough.”
The young man yelled something while waving a tightly curled fist skyward. I couldn’t hear the kind, gentle words because of the traffic along the road.
We continued to ride.
I asked Tom- “ Could you hear what that guy said?”
Tom was apparently about to speak to the them as well but I had spoken up first.
"He said something about- wear a helmet."- says Tom.
"I should wear a helmet? Maybe he should have worn a condom on the tip of his tiny dick so he wouldn’t have to live out his young life attached to his child bride!"
~ahem~
Crude I know- but it was just between Tom and I- until now.

As we peddled towards the Aqua Theatre I thought about how pissed off this guy seemed. For pete’s sake- he and “pretty baby” were not looking out for the young one in the stroller! I was concerned about the safety of the baby. Couldn’t they see that walking on the wrong side of a busy path could lead to an accident?
Lord love a duck- they had already forced the lady ahead of us to stop her bike and wait for them to pass.
Couldn’t they see that?
Probably not.
In retrospect, I think he had his head crammed up some dark and stormy place!
What about being safe for the kid?
They were on the wrong *&^*&%$# side of the path!
Safety first.
Never mind about shouting out safety tips for someone who has underwear older than the two of them combined!
Anyway, a helmet would muss my hair.

I eventually caught up to the lady with the dog in the carrier and said I had spoken to the people who forced her to stop her bike. They were obviously on the wrong side I told her.
She concurred.
It’s amazing there haven’t been people injured on the path with pea brains like those two walking a baby on the wrong side. It’s the kind of situation that could get blown all out of proportion and someone could end up hurting someone else in the heat of the moment.
That young gal tried to be so sweet when she said “excuse me sir”.
What a crock.
She was a class “A” bitch!
God help the kid.
Oh well, maybe Mommy Dearest will take the baby to jail every third Thursday when she visits Daddy- cause that’s where he’s headed.

Finally, later in the evening while walking the puppies we saw two young boys- maybe 14 or 15 standing across the street having a chinwag. We overheard a short segment of their conversation while passing.

The one boy sported a short, nicely-trimmed haircut. He was slim and athletic, wearing a muscle shirt that showed a bit of a youthful bicep. The other young lad had long, rather stringy hair. He was overweight and had bad posture as well as bad taste. He was sporting a pair of the baggiest nylon shorts I had ever seen.
Suddenly, the trim-looking lad looked the “beefy boy” in the eye and said-
“Look. Like I don’t wanna hurt your feelings or nothing- but you’re fat and out of shape.”
~smack~
I could hear the boy’s feelings being crushed beneath the soles of his friend’s Nike running shoes.

Tom and I snickered but inside I felt sorry for that young boy. It could have been his “first” boyhood crush.
He might never forget the unkind words spoken to him in haste. Now he would head home to cry himself to sleep on a tear-stained pillow.
How do I know?
Because I experienced what that young lad did, a ton of times.

By the time we reached the corner just past where the boys stood, “Mr. Trim and Sporty” jogged away up the street while his buddy shuffled away in the opposite direction, his shoulders sagging and his head down, counting the cracks in the sidewalk as he shuffled along.

You never just know what things you might “hear in passing.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

R O B B L O G #66

I have finally come up with the perfect idea for a show that will put a whole bunch of bums- and I mean the kind you find just below your back and not the poor, unfortunate Canadians who live on our streets day in and day out.

I am going to write a murder mystery with all the usual quirky characters including- a maid, an eccentric old lady, a butler, a rich woman who just happens to have a drinking problem and the murderer of course. The difference is the play will be set in a rather different place.

I plan to attire all my characters in hockey gear and set them on a floor of white ice- with blue line and all. They might carry a hockey stick- or a purse and a hockey stick in the case of the eccentric old lady, as well as hockey helmets and skates. I have decided to forego the mouth guard because an audience wouldn’t understand what the actors were saying. Come to think of it, I have been to plays just like that.
I haven’t decided on a name for the play yet.
Maybe “Murder on Ice”.
Or “Stick it to Him”.
Perhaps- “High Sticking, High Jinks and Murder!”
I’ll let you know when I’ve decided.
If that doesn’t narrow the cultural gap in Orillia, nothing will.

Imagine Hockey Mums, Dads, Aunts and Uncles sitting right next to the “cultured” Citizenry of Orillia. We could sell beer in cans and when an obvious hockey lover gets the joke in the show he- or she, would bash the aluminum can into the side of their head and say:
“Now, that’s funny stuff ~guffaw, guffaw~”
All the while “the cultured” would sip from glasses of champagne or a chocolate Martini or two!

Alas, I would be quite ahead of my time. Perhaps Toronto Star Critic Richard Ouzounian
would attend on opening night and rave about this engaging “new” form of theatre. He would be much more kind to my actors than he was to the present cast of Mamma Mia.
Note: read yesterday’s blog.
It could be a smash hit. Then I could turn it into a musical and make untold millions and then and then….
~boink~~
Well, back to reality.
Thanks, I needed that- Ouch!

While on the subject of theatre, the 3rd Annual Village of the Arts which was pairing up with Orillia Canada Day Celebrations has been cancelled this year. It’s all hush, hush but I would hazard two guesses.
One- the two committees weren’t getting along.
Two- no one was interested in performing in a tent in a field without proper dressing rooms, lighting, stage or microphones. Speaking on behalf of the Garage Door Players- I wasn’t enamoured with the idea.. You see, it takes time to gather actors together and make time for rehearsal. If the facilities were not going to be up to standard- why bother?

Of course the other side of that is the fact that I am not sure if I will continue with theatrical presentations at all at this ”sob” story before but with lack of interest and local support- even from other actors, why bother?
I love doing theatre and writing something that eventually gets produced but simply spending “willy-nilly” out of my own pocket had to come to an abrupt halt at some point.
And it has!
Oh, I have a couple of shows written and a couple or ideas jotted down but for now they are all tucked away in The Garage Door Players’ “Tickle Trunk” or the deep recesses of my imaginative yet small mind.

I have that theatrical question on my list of things to be thinking about right alongside the question as to whether or not I will continue with Swisssh the Website or Swisssh Radio for that matter.
I am cleaning house!
Purging if you will and everything and anything might be targeted.
As Fagan says in Oliver- “I’m reviewing the situation.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

“ABBA-DABBA DABBA said the monkey to the chimp.”

I sang that song during a seven week run in a Sunshine City Theatre Show last fall. The song was a lot of fun to sing. During many of the performances Heather Vance, Todd Cleland and myself, almost laughed out loud a few times- or at least smiled broadly. The song continually changed tempo and we were singing and a dancing as fast as we could! Of course, giggling during the song would have stopped the show and our musical director- Aunt Shirley would not have been amused.

Now, to an ABBA of a different type. I’m speaking of Mamma Mia- Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ hit show featuring most- if not all, of the hits of ABBA. For example Waterloo – which the cast sings while breaking the 4th wall was not actually part of the Mama Mia story- just the mini-concert at the end.
This version of Mamma Mia is at Mirvish’s Princess of Wales Theatre until the first week in June. I hadn’t seen the stage version before- just the Movie Version with Meryl Streep. I know the show had a “hit” Toronto cast back a decade ago but I didn’t see it.
Let me come clean about that fact.
I didn’t see it because-
I am not an ABBA fan.
Sure, I play a handful of ABBA songs on Swisssh Radio but that doesn’t make me a fan. I do it for the listening audience. I do like a couple of songs but that’s about it.
Fernando is NOT one of them.
I appreciate the talent and what the group accomplished musically, it’s just not my taste.Too European sounding for me.
What did I think of the performance?

I had read two reviews in Toronto papers and neither was glowing. For the most part I would have to agree. The lead- Michelle Dawson (Donna Sheridan) gave me the impression that she would just rather be somewhere else rather than on stage- although she shone in one particular song- The Winner Takes All.

The actress playing her daughter Sophie- Liana Hunt, also seemed to be out there.
Somewhere. Lah Dee Dah.
She forgot lyrics at one point. She seemed weak in the role.- as weak as her onstage “boyfriend” Sky, played by David Raimo. Although, once Mr. Raimo removed his shirt, and stood there in both underwear and smallish bathing costume, I could understand why he won the role of a “pretty boy” with a few muscles.


A couple of actors did stand out from the rest. Vincent Corazza (born in Newmarket, Ontario) as Harry-one of Mamma’s lovers from 21 years in the past, was good. He also had a chance to parade around the stage in a bathing suit. No, not quite a Speedo- although it should have been. Vincent has a fantastic body. Huge biceps and chest with several well defined stomach muscles. In his case though, he could also act and sing. Important in a musical. How he hid that sculptured body beneath his clothes was beyond me. All those loose-fitting shirts, I suppose.

Kittra Wynn Coomer (left) as Donna’s friend Rosie was superb. She shone. Her facial expressions were terrific and her characterization was “spot on” and believable- unlike the character of Donna. Nice voice too.
Donna’s other gal pal Tanya (Rachel Tyler) was equally as good. She’s a great dancer with nice comedic timing.
One other young man- Adam Michael Kaokept (Pepper), was also superb. He was not only totally enthusiastic, he was a great dancer with an engaging stage presence. He just came off the Las Vegas production and perhaps he was still riding on that “Vegas” high. Thankfully this mundane cast- for the most part, didn’t break his spirit.

As I watched some members of the ensemble I wondered if this was their first time onstage. For example, at one point it seemed that two young men straddling the Taverna’s wall had been grabbed from a bar up King Street and had been told to just “do” what they were doing in the bar.
I know this couldn’t possibly be the case but still…
The set- although minimal, worked well with the lighting effects. This American Touring cast should have been better. Even TV Soap Star Mathew Ashford (Days of Our Lives), didn’t bring a lot to the part of Bill Austin- another one of Donnas' lovers.

I must admit after half of the 21 ABBA songs in this show, I said to myself-
“ Gee, didn’t they sing that one already?”
If you’re an ABBA fan, you probably would enjoy this touring company’s version of Mamma Mia.
I said enjoy.
Maybe not like or love-all male eye candy aside.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

ROBBLOG W E E K E N D Edition

As I was working in the yard and garden today, the thought crossed my mind- how great it is to be outside.
Sunshine, blue skies and warm temperatures.
Thinking back to our winter- it seems so long ago, with the exception of going from house to car and car to store, that’s about it for being outside. Oh there’s the daily bundling up and trudging through snow-packed trails, just to get some exercise- but no extended time spent outside.

It’s nice that the weather is “seasonal” again but it can mean a busy day in the yard.
I started the day digging grass and weeds from between interlocking bricks on a pathway. I was down on hands and knees trying to grab all the roots from the offending tufts. The soil was moist, so the grass was plucked quite easily. I worked for an hour or two- until noon, deciding to complete the job later. My back was already starting to ache. If I stayed down there too long on my hands and knees, I’d have to call in a winch to raise me up!

So, I topped up the water in a fountain and birdbath just beside the verandah steps and called it a morning.
I intended to cut the grass as well but it had to dry out a bit more after yesterday’s downpour. Later in the afternoon after a few hours of sunshine the grass was ready to cut. I hauled out the lawnmower and wrapped black electric tape around the handle. You see, last time I cut the grass, the handle on this Black and Decker, battery-operated mower broke.
It didn’t surprise me at all hearing the “snap” as I cut round the maple tree.
The last couple of mowers all did the same thing. A little plastic part snaps and a spring flies out.

We ordered a part.
It came.
Wrong part.
Another part was ordered. The man at the Black and Decker parts counter in Mississauga told us over the phone that they are now making the handle with metal parts- not plastic.
About time.
It was the plastic part that kept snapping. It was to be sent UPS- free of charge.

So, I wrapped the handle with tape to hold it in position. It worked but I couldn’t turn it off. I had to be careful, especially when removing the bag that hung on the back of the mower, catching the clippings. I was careful not to put fingers or toes under the machine. I was almost through cutting when the UPS truck pulled up in front of the house. A slim young man hopped out and passed me a brown cardboard box.
“This is a part for my lawn mower”, I said shaking the box.
“Beats whipper-snipping the lawn!”- he says with a smile and hops back into his big, brown truck.
I hope it’s the correct part this time.

I finished the grass cutting and fetched the trimmer for the final touch of neatness.
The lawn looked good. Even better when I dug out the half dozen dandelions- a result of all that rain yesterday.

After supper, I topped the day off clearing the remaining weeds from the interlocking pathway, a cup of tea to my right and Kiki- our yellow lab and Missy- the mini-schnauzer, laying on the freshly mowed lawn next to me.

It really amazes me the number or things one can accomplish on a warm, sunny day and yet all the day-to-day things inside the house- like answering e-mails, doing dishes and laundry, still have to be accomplished.

Must be something about the warm air. It helps get things done.
Have a good weekend.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Good Lord.
I think I grew some extra chest hair yesterday.

During this kitchen renovation of ours, there has been plenty of waiting and decisions to be made. We waited for the fridge. Waited for the cupboards to be moved and then waited for Fran Woodhurst to do an estimate and eventually paint the cabinets. Great job Nicole! During the painting process last week, we had to decide on door hardware, drawer pulls and countertop colour.

We decided on handle hardware first. Most of the handles were installed after the painting was completed- except for seven “half-moon” drawer pulls. They had to be specially ordered by Dora at Home Hardware, who also gave us an estimate for the new countertop. Thursday, Dora called and said the pulls had arrived.
I picked them up knowing I could easily install the pull handles on all the drawers that had "previously drilled holes". That left a new drawer under the wall oven that had to have two handles installed. There were no holes pre-drilled. I checked the bolt- called the fastener in the trade, realizing I needed a longer one.
Well, we all dream of longer bolts- don’t we?
I digress.

Here’s where the extra chest hair started to grow.
I am sure my male testosterone levels soared as well!

I looked at the drawer and the handles and drew a quick sketch. The drawer was 28 ½ inches wide. Centre would be 14 ¼ inches. Centre for half the drawer would be 7 1/8 inches.
I was making progress.
I think I even grunted once or twice.
I measured twice, however I resisted placing the pencil behind my ear.
I also made sure the crack of my ass was not hanging out the top of my jeans. There was no one around but I didn’t need to take any chances.

The drawer width was 10 ½ inches so I calculated the half way point was 5 ¼. That’s the point where I measured out 7 1/8 inches to find the centre on one side of the drawer. I was cooking with gas now!
I found the centre of the drawer and measured an inch and a half on each side. The drawer pulls had 3 inch centres. I ensured the centre dot- marked with my Papermate “Canadiana Pencil”, was level with the dots I made 1 ½ inches in each direction.

I stood back and saw these dots on the drawer front:
                       . . .                . . .

The outside holes would be drilled. I chose a bit that would fit the fasteners. I checked the size by drilling into an old piece of 2 x 4. The fastener slid into the hole easily.
~ahem~
Almost there!

I was tingling- mostly because I had to pee. I just wanted to finish the job first.
I carefully drilled the four holes.
They looked good. Level and spaced an attractive distance apart. I shoved the fastener through. It caught the hole in the drawer pull exactly and I tightened the fasteners from the inside. I repeated the process on the other side.

A bit of sawdust inside the drawer and on the kitchen floor but other than that it all looked good.
I was beaming. I danced a jig.
Once again, remember, I had to pee.
I stood back and admired my work.
Cripes it looked good!
No, I mean it. It looked real good!
The drawer’s brushed brass “half-moon” pulls gave it a “finished” appearance.

I cleaned up the sawdust. Took the drill back to the garage and made myself a Bloody Caesar- a toast to a job well done.

Oh yes- Memo to Self: Trim chest hair tomorrow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sharon Foster has left us.
She was Jim Foster’s “Grande Dame”.
She kept Jim in line. She dressed and fed him- as well as Tilly Beekman- and I presume, Sharon was a sounding board for Mr. Foster’s special brand of ribald humour.
Sharon passed from this world to the next, at home, on Wednesday May 12th.

She e-mailed me towards the end of March- not long before Tom and I left for Hawaii. Reading between the lines in her e-mail, she seemed in good spirits and was waiting for medical advice. The last time I e-mailed her on April 20th- Jim replied.
He said she was under palliative care and was “amazingly cheerful”.
I am not surprised.

Sharon’s smile lit up a room. She always looked perfect- hair, makeup, clothes. She always greeted you with a smile, a kiss and a hug. I usually called her Mrs. Foster.
It was like a “title”.
“Hey Mrs. Foster, how are things?”
She would laugh, her eyes twinkling brightly from behind her fashionable eyewear.

That laugh was contagious! On stage you always knew Sharon was in the house!
I guess I can spread some gossip now.
Mrs. Foster and I had a date.
Once.
She took me to see her hubbie- Mr. Foster, perform one of his infamous Christmas Rants.
I mean what husband would expect a wife to bring a “boy toy date” to his show and sit right in the front row under the wash of the spotlights.
He never caught on. Tee Hee.
Now, really- although we called it a “date”, it was just an extra ticket she had for the show and she thought I might as well make use of it. Tom would be away on a flight anyway. She called me up to ask if I would like to go. I was free- so we dated.
We arrived and left- separately, however. We had to protect our reputation.
“What the hell reputation would that be?” she said.

The buffet style meal was good. The veggies were cold.
Good food. Good conversation. Many laughs. Our table was right down front. Well, I was attending with the “stars wife” after all!
I remember working the “sound” system for Mr. Foster that night.
OK.
The truth is, it was a just a CD player but “sound system” seems so much more theatrical.

Come to think of it, that “date” evening was the last time I saw Yvonne Lacey. Yvonne passed away from Cancer the following month. I got a good, long, loving hug from her.
“Let me know when the tickets go one sale for The Garage Door Players’ Spring Show”- she had said.
I knew in my heart she would never see us perform.

It's hard to believe that I am writing a blog about Sharon's passing.
Life sucks at times.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow,
 Way up high.
 Birds fly over the Rainbow-
 Why. Oh Why- can’t I?”

You can now girlfriend.
You’ll have your wings in no time.
Safe flight…..

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Got a new fridge yesterday.
Had a new one just a couple of weeks ago too.
I decided it was easier to trade it in, than clean out the crisper.
That’s not true.
I’m just foolin’ around!

I think I wrote a bit about the new Sears Kenmore fridge where the water in the door froze after 4 days of operation. Water, water everywhere- except for my new Kenmore Refrigerator. Just couldn’t get a drink if I was dying of thirst. The new fridge with the water and ice feature was missing some insulation in the door, so it froze. The Mexican workers who assembled this Whirlpool Fridge- under the guise of Kenmore, just didn’t understand what cold temps can do to water- like maybe freeze it as solid as the hobs of hell- on a cold day down there of course!

I said from the start that the fridge was made on “Tequila Tuesday”- a bad day at any Mexican factory assembling items of an electronic nature. To make a long story short, two service men had looked at it on separate days and the decision was made to order up a new door. When Sears said it would not be available until June 3rd I said-
“Hold it right there. I want a new fridge”
I got one delivered. Yesterday.

The other fridge is probably on its way to the Sears Clearance Centre. A good deal for someone looking for a cheap fridge- where the water freezes. I must also warn you- if you were to buy this very fridge at the Sears Warehouse store, the ice maker froze up on Sunday too. Yup, tighter than a turkey’s arse at fly time. We had to chop the ice away with a blunt instrument.

Now we have the same model- an exact replica, sitting in the kitchen. There was a bit of a water problem at first. It leaked all over the kitchen floor.
As frustrating as a new puppy!
However, the problem was rectified and our new Kenmore- nee Whirlpool, made in Mexico is now happily dispensing cold water and a choice of crushed or cubed ice.
Nice.
Technology is grand!
I added crushed ice to my Caesar and I didn’t even have to fight with an ice cube tray.
I just had to get a new fridge.
Simple enough.
I’m smiling now.

Thanks for the help regarding the “Swisssh Radio” Window. I will take all suggestions to heart and re-jig the space. More flowers. More something. Hang the lanterns. Something.
I wish I had an old radio or two to display in the window with just the Swisssh name.
Less is more. Anyone have some old radios?
I’ll try to re-make it into something- tomorrow.

Have a good one- you hear?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

As I grow into Senior Years according to the Zellers’ scale on the age of Seniority, I am realizing as I get older my efforts to make things pretty becomes more dubious. After all a Gay Man’s life is committed to making things pretty- isn’t it?

If you’re Gay- and old, you may know of what I speak. Case in point is the window at Sanderson Monument on Peter Street South in the Arts District of Downtown Orillia. The Sanderson Monument Company allows me to use one of their windows as a promotional venue for Swisssh Radio. I am very grateful and the window gets noticed.
That’s good- right?
Everybody wants to get noticed!

Yesterday, it was time to “freshen up” the window from a display I had made back in mid-March. I gathered some fake flowers together, a trio of framed photos and other bits and pieces. I lowered the Swisssh window sign to eye level- for passerbys on the street. I stuck bunches of flowers in florist foam along the inside ledge of the window and placed three framed prints in between the “fake” flora and fauna.
Voila!
Not quite. I just couldn’t stir up enough “Gay” to make the window as pretty as I had wanted. That’s why I am starting to believe I have lost my “pretty touch”- much like King Midas. You remember the King. After a mad spree of touching and turning this and that into Gold, he eventually lost it. His Golden touch I mean. Now, sadly, the Midas Touch only belongs to Joan Rivers who takes cheap costume jewellery and turns it “golden”. Translate “golden” to mean mega bucks!

I am still thinking about what I can do to improve the window. I think I need another 25 bunches of fake flowers to bring it to life. Not helping in my attempt to “cheer” things up, is a planter- to the far right in the window, featuring 4 carved Jesus figures- each nailed to a cross, encircling the pot. It reminded me of the Monty Python skit from “Life of Brian.”

A Roman approaches a man in a long queue. Laying a caring hand on his shoulder, the Roman speaks softly and with great empathy.
~Crucifixion or Freedom?
-Freedom, please.
~Very good sir. Down the hall. First door on the right.
-Naw. I’m just kidding. It’s crucifixion!
~Oh- hah,hah, very good Sir. Now, down the hall, third door on the right. One cross each.
Even a Gay man can’t pretty that bit of gruesome up! I’ll keep my thinking cap on. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Why, somebody reads Swisssh the Website (http://www.swisssh.ca/) !!

One of our “bloggers” stepped into a bit of “do-do” when someone from a “particular hierarchy” took exception to the written word that appeared in a column on Swisssh.
Don’t bother trying to find the column on the site. It’s not there any longer. Don’t try to speculate either. Just buy me a couple of Martinis one hot summer day and I’ll effortlessly spew forth the details.

Sometimes when one writes the truth, others take exception to protect what they have. At times I am surprised that so much of the population- who can read, actually read Swisssh. In this case I am blown away- just like the column. Only once before did I remove content. When I think back to that first occasion, I now wish I had not bowed to pressure.
One learns.

I removed the “offending” column this time because it was old news anyway and should have been refreshed a couple of weeks ago. This time it wasn’t directed at me but at the author. I wanted to stop the oppression and the inquisition.

Now, if you want to write a Blog on Swisssh the Website, get in touch with the website- swisssh@rogers.com. I guarantee it will be read when posted. One doesn’t always get feedback but know that what you create will be given an ear- or at least an eye.

You have just read Blog #60!!
Have a good one!

Monday, May 10, 2010



Technology is astounding.

Over the weekend I transferred some of my favourite Vinyl 45 r.p.m. recordings to MP3 files for play on Swisssh Radio. I have a bunch to go. For those of you who are- less than 30 years old, a bit of history.
A vinyl 45 r.p.m. is a little black piece of plastic with a hole cut in the centre- for a 45 adapter.
See illustration below.

A 45 might look a bit like today’s CD or Blue Ray discs- but bigger and thinner.
There was a song embedded in the vinyl on each side. One side was called the “A Side” and the other the “B Side”. The hit song was usually on the A side of the 45, although groups like the Beach Boys and The Beatles had hits from time to time on each side. Always exciting for the record buyer! Two hits for the price of one!
The letters “r.p.m.” mean revolutions per minute. That’s the number of times the vinyl record went around on a turntable to produce sound- once a needle was placed on its edge and followed the vinyl round and round at 45 revolutions per minutes to produce music. It sounds much more confusing than it really is-trust me. If it were not for the little 45 vinyl discs, there wouldn’t have been the rock and roll revolution that produced millions of hits in the 50’s and 60’s.

Before I bought my first 45 recording in 1959- or thereabouts, you had a choice in many record shops. For instance at Gordon’s Record Bar on Mississaga Street in downtown Orillia- right next to where ‘Sixty-One” is located today, you could often purchase the record in 78 r.p.m. or 45 r.p.m. The 78 was a larger record than the 45 – yet smaller than the 33 1/3 long play disc that came into being a few years later. I remember buying Waterloo by Johnny Horton on a 78. Decca Records. The label was deep reddish-burgundy.

I didn’t get a turntable that played 45’s until Christmas 1962. My first singles arriving from Santa were “Bobby’s Girl” and ‘Telestar”. By noon on Christmas Day, Mum and Dad were ready to pitch the two 45’s and the record player out the window and into a mountainous snowbank! It would be a few days before stores opened “post-Christmas” in those days, so I had to wait to purchase another “single”. In the meantime I had 2 records and four songs!
Play on!
Wow!

Now here I am in 2010, pulling out my old 45’s from carefully indexed record boxes and changing the vinyl to MP3. The 45 is played on a turntable- with needle and centre adapter, which is connected to a computer- my laptop in this instance. You must listen to the record in “real time”. Transferring music is a slow process. Once each 45 is finished playing, the computer programme that came with the turntable transfers the music and adapts it as an MP3 file. This file is sent to my Swisssh Radio “production computer”.

Next in the production computer, I clean up the beginning of the song- the scratchy part where the needle is approaching the first note of the song. I clean up the end of the song also removing the scratchy, dead air”. Then, I run the song through a hiss and pop eliminator. Finally, I save the new file. I name it and transfer it to the Swisssh Library under “Vinyl to 45”.

I usually “billboard” the song before it plays on Swisssh Radio, telling the radio audience that the following song comes directly from a vinyl 45. When a few scratches, hisses and skips are heard, at least the listener knows why and is forgiving.
Skips?
Well, occasionally the vinyl has been played so many times that small “blips” or “skips” occur. The song misses a note or two. If it’s really bad- I just don’t transfer the song.
If there’s just one or two tiny skips- I’ll still programme the record.
The little inconsistencies bring back memories for those of us who just had to get used to some 45’s skipping. Even a new pressing of a 45 could skip the first time it was played. The owners of the Hobby and Record Shop in downtown Orillia- a couple of doors lakeside from where P.D. Murphy Jewellers is today, were always good at accepting 45’s being returned. They would play them on their own turntable behind the counter.
Sometimes they played perfectly.
Sometimes they skipped.
It depended on the turntable as well as the company that “pressed” the disc in the first place.

Now, my young children- my under 30 readers, you know what a 45 is all about. When you hear the transferred disc on Swisssh Radio- you will marvel.
I do.
Technology.

Have a good day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

RobBlog W E E K E N D Edition

It’s Friday afternoon.
1500.
I am up to my armpits in dishes and mugs after a week-long kitchen re-do. The doorbell rings.
“Salam on the beach”, I wonder out loud- “Who the hell is that?”
I cleaned that expletive up- in case you were wondering.
I scamper down from my ladder.
I stretched the truth a bit there. It was actually a white, 3-step kitchen stool.
The doorbell goes again. This time with greater urgency.

I’m not expecting anybody but the same scenario happens to us all- doesn’t it?
We’re in the shower.
Naked.
Soap all over the place and either the phone rings or the doorbell goes “bing-bong!”
Sometimes we’re just up a ladder.
I reached the kitchen floor just as the front door “knocker” is being banged- repeatedly.
What the *&^% is so important?
I open a side door onto the verandah and call out-
“Hello. Can I help you?”

A rather timid looking women- reminiscent of one of the secretaries in the office where Jack Lemon worked in the movie The Apartment, peaks around the corner at me.
“Are you the h*&me**r?”
That’s all I caught.
“Pardon?”
“Are you the homeowner?”
“Yes. I am.”- I say with smallish enthusiasm. I see she’s wearing a name tag with her picture on it, attached to a rope around her neck.
Red flag!
“Are you aware of Ontario’s Energy Plan?”- Says Matilda.
Now, that may not be her real name. She mumbled that too. I’ll just call her Matilda. She looked like a “Matilda” with dark short hair, big, black-rimmed glasses and massive red lips.

‘I’m not interested.”- says I, politely.
She continued.
“You have heard about the Ontario…”
“I am NOT interested.”
‘Did you just hear what I said?”
“I am NOT interested!”- I remained calm all the while thinking-
Cripes! What do I have to say to Matilda to get her to do a 360 and take her fat ass down my front steps.

Now, Tilly looked like she was getting mad.
“You’re getting mad- aren’t you?”- I say with a smile.
“No, I’m not! I’m just asking you if you are aware of the green plan for Ontario…”
“I am NOT interested.”
She glares at me.
Then, Matilda shoots burning arrows into my eyes, retreats down the stairs, climbs on her broomstick and takes off down the street.
I am sure I heard her mumble “Asshole”.
That’s right Matilda- my inside voice is yelling…and proud of it!!

I felt rejuvenated. Almost better than an afternoon caffeine fix but not quite.
I headed back into the house to my step ladder, dishes and the job at hand.

Have a good weekend!
...and don't answer the door if you're busy or on a ladder!

Friday, May 7, 2010

I’m in a conundrum. I can’t decide if I should get my regular haircut or ask for a Justin Bieber “bob”.
That’s the haircut for young guys who want to look like “old farts”.
Layered in the back.
Front and sides brushed to the front- like Julius Ceasar, in an attempt to cover hair loss.

I don’t understand the “Bieber” style.
The Beatles’ mop cut I understood.
Of course I was in Grade 8 at the time. I remember scotch taping my hair down onto my forehead at night so I could look like a “Beatle” in the morning.
I probably just looked like a little “fag”.
You can laugh at that- if you like.
I pretty much kept the same look through high school.
Hair down on my forehead, shorter on the sides.
The first picture here is me in about 1967. That guy’s name was Rick Morrison.
It was a summer of love. It was also the summer I thought I was incredibly fat.
See, it happens to boys too.
As you can see from the picture, I wasn’t fat. I have no idea where Rick is today. I should google him.
I wanted to “google” him in 1967 ~ahem~ but it never got that far.
You may chuckle- if you like.

The picture to the left, is me in 1969. Commencement at ODCVI. Check the suit- and the shoes! A real fashion-plate- don’t you think?
Still the Beatle cut too. I remember that year in high school well. Besides my hair- always across my forehead, a classmate told me I smelled like Zest. You know. The soap.
I used Zest, so that is probably why- but such a “nose” to notice.
Then, just last week a clerk behind a paint counter told me I smelled “good”. She wasn’t coming on to me or anything. Must have been the Zest again. Still working after all these years.
It seemed to be an odd thing to say to someone- especially a customer.
When I told her I thought it odd, she said it was a pleasant change to have a male customer that smelled “nice”. Apparently that didn’t happen very often when a man approached her paint counter.

Then along came 1972 and I grew the “Beatle” style right down to my shoulders. I also had a moustache that hung off my jowls for an inch or two on each side. Today only my jowls and an extra chin hang down there.
You may smile- if you like.

So you can see that I never did wear my hair in the Justin Bieber style and to be honest I don’t know why Justin wears his hair the way he does. It certainly doesn’t help his singing. I watched him on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back. His voice was changing and he could only screetch the high notes.
Egads!
One day in 2045, he’ll look back and wonder why he styled his hair that way. Maybe he’ll post some pics on a blog too.

Have a good one!

E-mail: swisssh@rogers.com

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nicole- she’s the painter-gal who’s goal it is to make our outdated kitchen look rather stunning, has a new IPhone. She just learning how to use it but I’d say she seems to be well on her way to complete understanding of all its incredible features. I especially like the fact that she has internet wherever she goes.

I remember when the IPhone came out, I asked a young man who worked at our Rogers Store in Orillia-
“How do Io listen to Swisssh Radio- my Net Radio station on the IPhone?”
By the way if you click on that Swisssh logo- just to the right of this blog, you can listen as you read this…

Anyway, as I remember, I don’t think he was familiar with Internet Radio let alone how to play a Net station over an IPhone.
I had been telling Nicole about my radio station and she had listened in our garage as she painted cupboard doors. I am sure it’s not the “type” of music she usually listens to on the radio however, she was interested none the less.

She wanted to read my blog too and I said it was accessible through Swisssh The Website. So when she showed me her IPhone, I ask her to type in the website address- www.swisssh.ca. Then, scroll down until she saw my picture and click on it. She did and my blogspot came right up. She said she’d read it later.
Then I said go back up and click on the embedded payer. It said she would have to download a flash player.Then, for interest, I said click on the 64k player.
She did.
A few seconds later a “Quicktime” player loaded on the IPhone screen and in a “snap”- there was Swisssh Radio, merrily playing away- A Breath of Fresssh Air indeed.

I was surprised since I had never been able to have anyone show me how Swisssh Radio plays on an IPhone. Although, last year Don Andrews showed me how easy it was to listen on a Blackberry. Nicole says she too was a little confused as to how to listen to an Internet Station. She hadn’t had a chance to look at the Swisssh Website. All of a sudden the light came on and she understood. Now, I need an IPhone to show people how easy it is to listen to Swisssh and how to listen whether on a computer or a phone.

While on the subject of technology- computers and such, I was reading an article on conservation that said one might think- when you’re finished using your computer, the smart, energy-efficient thing to do would be to shut it down. The article goes on to say:

“When you shut your computer down you're doing small amounts of irrevocable damage. Electrons surge through delicate circuits, flash-heating them and causing expansion. Hard drives spin up from a dead stop to thousands of rotations a minute. Shutting off and on several times a day is a good way to quickly wear out your machine - and considering the nasty, ecologically unfriendly PC manufacturing process, the green thing to do is keep the one you have as long as possible. In standby mode, modern PCs don't consume much power.”

So there you have it. The article appeared at forbes.com and was written by David M. Ewalt and William Pentland.

In the Swisssh Studio alone, three computers consistently run 24/7. In the office another computer never shuts down. The monitor screen shuts off after a few minutes of inactivity though. I never did notice much of a rise in electricity costs- if there even was one, when Swisssh hit the airwaves.

Have a good day!