Friday, April 29, 2011

ROBBLOG # 257 W E E K E N D Edition

A cashier at Wal*Mart the other day attempted to sign me up for a Wal*Mart MasterCard.

“No Thank You. I use debit.”- said.

“Oh but the Wal*Mart Card does this and that…”

“No Thank You. I already have a credit card.”- I added.

She continued- “Well, with a Wal*Mart MasterCard Credit Card you can Bah, Blah, Blah.”

“No. Really. I’m fine.” I kept smiling as I swiped my Debit Card.

“You know”-she said, “Sometimes I tell my customers to rip up their current credit card and get a Wal*Mart Master Card Credit Card!”

“You know what I do sometimes?” I looked her square in the eye as I waited for my Debit transaction to process.

“No, what?”- she asked excitedly.

“Sometimes I tell cashiers to shove their cash registers up their Wal*Mart arses when they try to press me to get a Wal*Mart MasterCard Credit Card!”

Her mouth dropped. She was shocked and disappointed that her sales attempt didn’t work on me.

“Have a nice day!”- I cheerfully said as I grabbed my bags, placed them in my Wal*Mart shopping cart and headed for the exit. I like shopping at Wal*Mart as much as the next Wal*Mart shopper but give the credit card thing a rest. If a customer politely declines that should be the end of it.

Then, I go into Zellers. It’s a different tune. By the way I must mention here that I really hate that red colour scheme that Zellers has adopted in recent years. I know they are no longer “Truly Canadian”- being owned by Americans. When you think of it what True North Proud and Free Company isn’t owned by Americans? Besides Zellers- The Bay and Tim Horton’s comes to mind. I did read where Tim’s was being returned to Canadian ownership under the Red Maple Leaf but I don’t think that has happened. As far as I know that stalwart- Canadian Tire, is still Canadian. Imagine “American Tire”?
Just doesn’t have the same “patriot” ring to it.

Anyhow, at Zellers it’s-

“Is this on your HBC Card today?” says the beefy, tanned young man standing at the cash, a pencil stuck over his right ear.

“No. I don’t have one. Debit please.”

The jock cashier begins his sell- “Oh Sir, if you sign up for an HBC Card today you’ll receive 10% off your purchase.”

“Really?”- I say, “and will you strip to the waist and give me a manly massage if I get an HBC card today? There has to be something in it for me!”

I was being so cheeky. The cashier was surprised. Probably the best offer he’s had all day! He smiled broadly and said-
“You know if they paid me enough my shirt would be laying on the floor at your feet right now!”

We both laughed.
I continued.

“So how much interest does that HBC Card offer if I run a balance every month? About 30%. Sears is at 30%. So I would say 30%- or higher!”

He smiled and said-
“Slide your card through. Stripe to the left sir.”

The cashier knows he doesn’t have a credit card sale here but flashes me a Hollywood smile as he tucks my purchase into a red plastic Zellers bag.

“Have a great day!” he says.

“I’ll do my best!” I tell him.  “You have to give me credit for that.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ROBBLOG # 256

This wasn’t the blog I had intended to post today.

That blog will have to wait for another sunrise. You see I was reading a column today that had been written by someone who was at the infamous Bathhouse raids in Toronto back on February 5th 1981. 30 years has passed.

I also learned something new. Maybe I had read it before but I have just forgot. I forget a lot of things these days.

In 1975 Police in Montreal raided a place called “Sauna Aquarius”, known as a Gay hangout, I suppose. The following half dozen years saw the beginning of the Gay and Lesbian Community being harassed on a regular basis in areas that Gay and Lesbians frequented. Police and Law Enforcement agencies were trying to keep a rising Gay Voice quiet in the media. However, the LGBT movement could not be silenced- even after the Bathhouse raids in Toronto in 1981.
I was living in the City in 1981.
I just didn’t go downtown that evening.
As a matter of fact, I had never been in a Gay Men’s Bathhouse. Not that I was against the idea, it’s just that the opportunity never presented itself. I was more of a going-out-to-dinner kind of guy. A “bar boy”.
I liked going to the bars although it was daunting and most uncomfortable at first. It took a while to adjust even though these were “my people”.

So today, I was reading a first-hand account of the Toronto Bathhouse raided written by Phillip MacLeod. It was very interesting. Accompanying the article was a photo of Phillip. An attractive man with a beard and tousled hair. One would have guessed the photo was taken yesterday. Looking at the picture, he appeared to be a man in his 40’s or so. Reading along further I was shocked to discover that Mr. MacLeod passed away a year ago, on May 31st, 2010. He was 86 years old.
What?
I had to take out a pen and do some figuring.
He was born in 1925.
So he was 50ish in the photo and was 56 when the raid took place.
My mind did a flip.
How could Phillip be dead?
I was reading the article like it had been written recently when in reality it had been written the day or two following the raids in 1981.
Wow!
This definitely messed with my mind. This is “today” but the whole story- picture included, was of yesterday. I am talking about a life lived and passed on to the next level.

All these thoughts and more flooded into my mind as I took a walk in the afternoon rain. After reading the story Philip had written and discovered that time truly waits for no man, I had to get out and get the adrenaline flowing or whatever it is that flows when one walks a distance and feels 100% better in body and spirit when the walk has terminated.

A friend had e-mailed me earlier today, answering another e-mail where I had lamented the loss of Ken Kostick at 56 years of age and a friend of local theatre Moe Cloutier at only 40 years of age. Both passing’s were much too soon.
She said in her e-mail- “None of us gets out of this life alive.”
It’s true.
We all are treading down the same path to eternity, some sooner than others.

This brings me to some kind of point I was trying to make when I started writing this blog.
Life is short.
Here I am staring 60 in the face.
Whuck?
I know people tell me- “God, you don’t look 60!!”
Thanks for that. I don’t feel 60- whatever 60 is supposed to feel like today.
“Things” make me feel like 60 however. Recently, I applied for my Canada Pension. I start receiving that in August- if that asshole Harper doesn’t spend all the money in all the Government Banks in Ottawa on those freeking fighter jets.

Another friend said- only a year ago, “Rob, the way I figure it, we’ve got 20 good years left.”
This year on her Birthday she e-mailed- “19 years left!”

It’s all going too bloody fast.
I still have a load of travelling I want to do.
I want to write more.
I want to do new things.
Maybe I want to move again and start all over again.
There’s still a world full of new people and places.
In the meantime I get my senior’s discount at Zellers. That’s a plus. I am working on getting discounts elsewhere.

Finally, one other friend tells me once I hit 60 I have to ask every clerk or salesperson I deal with in every store I go into-

“Do I get a discount on that? I’m a senior living on a fixed income!”

Monday, April 25, 2011

ROBBLOG #255


Readers- like you, have sent in a few more Questions for God. So I sent the Big Guy an “Angel-Gram” and he dropped by last week.


No listen, I can hear all you Catholics out there saying- If God doesn’t come down and make his physical presence known to the Pope- God’s representative on Earth, why would he sit down and speak to a “plebe” like you?

I don’t know why but I ask a rhetorical question-

"Why does God speak to Billy Graham, The Prayer Place’s “millionaire preachers” and US Preachers who continue to have sexual relations with prostitutes or other men. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I ask you…"

Here are your questions and replies. Think of me as the Post Office at Christmas and all those letters they answer to H0H 0H0!

Thanks for this Big Guy. Let’s get right to the questions. Are you ready?

Was Mary a Virgin? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a Bear…

I think we get it Heavenly Father. Someone from Brechin e-mails…
Dear God, How come the Catholics have a Pope that they consider to be your representative on Earth. What makes them so special?

Now, the Catholics have always had their own peculiar little ways about things- all that smoke and those bells ringing! I’ve been in some of their palaces…I mean churches, where they actually have bones and things in glass cases they consider to be “Holy relics”. Jesus! That stuff even creeps me out.

What’s the buzz with that fellah Lazarus and your son?

Rob, I knew someone would ask me about that- eventually. My pat answer is “boys will be boys”. Laz was a young and handsome dude and my offspring had some stuff going on and with that olive skin of his and his black hair well…You see it’s like when a couple of guys snap their towels at each other’s naked butts after they shower in a public place. So what if the guys spent 30 days together locked away and didn’t want to be disturbed. What am I supposed to read into that. Okay...there’s that sexual stuff but he tells me he was just comforting Lazarus. Wouldn’t you do the same if you had a friend who had been rotting away and he suddenly jumped back to life and look fabulous?

Right. I guess… Next question. Why do some people attend Bible Class each week and what do they get out of it?
They attend because nothing worthwhile is showing at the Galaxy Cinemas. Hah. Hah. I love that one. Pulling your leg there Christians. Look whatever turns your Christian Crank but seeing as the Bible- my book, was re-written back in the day of King James I think you’ll find that mortal man threw a few things out of the original script and re-worked other bits.
Now, it’s just human nature isn’t it? I’m not going to say “stop analyzing the Bible” but really people- "Stop analyzing the Bible!"

Next from Martha in Udney...

Udney. That always makes me chuckle...

Ahem~
Hi God. Did you actually tell earthly beings what to write in the Good Book?

Oh Heavens no! I’ve never been about forcing you people to do anything. Look- Live. Love. Be happy. Be nice to people. Don’t do anything to hurt your fellow man. Don’t kill someone or mess with someone’s husband or wife. Enjoy life.
Simple- isn’t it?
I don’t know why you let a bunch of guys who sat around a table back in 200 A.D. tell you who and what to believe. Believe what you will but just be nice. Try smiling. Buy yourself a new chariot- I mean car. Take a trip. See the pyramids. Try doing something on your own for a change. You don’t have to run everything past me and beg for more.
Grow a pair people!

God, why did you make Opera?

Why did I make Opera and classical music? Holy smokes. Don’t hang that one on me. When the angels get together for a jam session on their Lutes and flutes and harps- I skip town! I head up to that 3rd level of Heaven. Maybe some of you have studied that in your Bible Classes.
It’s like Maui. I go there for some peace and quiet. So look, don’t blame me for that Opera Stuff or even Beethoven. He did that on his own. Too much time on his tiny hands.
They were you know.

Well God, thanks again for coming down and answering these questions. I know you have to get back home.
Yes I do. The “other half” is BBQing tonight. Invited a multitude over apparently and I promised to do the steaks.

One final request… from me God.
What is it Rob?

Keep an eye on Ken Kostick. He left us much too soon.

I will do my best....and thank you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

ROBBLOG #254 EASTER

Flopsy, Mopsy…and Florence were three of the cutest little bunnies you would ever want to lay your eyes upon.

They were so glad it was finally spring!
The days were warm.
They loved to tumble and nibble on the fresh, green grass that covered the big field next to their log home like a fluffy comforter on a big, brass bed.
The grass tasted oh so sweet.
However, the greens in Mr. Alabaster’s garden were even sweeter- especially in the spring, just as the first few sprouts of lettuce popped out of the warm earth on a warm sunny day.

The bunnies weren’t thinking about Mr. Alabaster’s garden at this particular moment. Flopsy was sitting next to a big, gray boulder grooming her white fur. Mopsy and Florence meanwhile amused themselves trying to do headstands in the tall grass. They tried and tried but fell over with every attempt giggling and snickering louder each time. Their bunny laughter is contagious. A few chicadees in a tree near the boulder chirped merrily too at the funny goings-on below.

“Come on you two”- cried Flopsy. She had finished her grooming. “Let’s run all the way down to the old cedar fence!”

“Okay Flopsy. Bet I can beat you!”- Mopsy squealed and she was off like a shot.

“Running. Always running!” Florence stood with her paws on her hips tapping her right paw gently on the green grass. “Really you two!” She was raising her voice now since her brother and sister were half-way across the field.

Flopsy and Mopsy soon reached the cedar fence. Flopsy was just a hare ahead of Mopsy.
They both collapsed in a heap near one of the cedar fence posts.

“Honestly, you two. Get a life. Both of you.” Florence had hopped on down to the fence. She seemed a little upset.

“What’s the prob Flo?” It was Mopsy who dared even ask the question.

“Florence had placed a paw on each of her furry hips once again-
“Look, it’s just that there are more interesting things to do you two.”

“Like what?”- asked Flopsy.

“Well…” Florence thought for a moment. “Like thinking about what are we going to do for Easter. We haven’t even looked for a present for Mumsy and Dadsy yet.”

“Awwww. Get ‘em some chocolate eggs. They’ll be happy with that.” It was Mopsy who spoke and suggested the idea.

Flopsy snapped a paw and added- “That’s a good idea! We can place them in a nice basket filled with fresh grass and tie a big pink bow on top and ohhhh…we can tuck Michael Buble’s new CD in the basket too!”

Florence and Mopsy looked at Flopsy. They stared for a couple of seconds, then looked back at each other again. Their little bunny noses twitching. Finally, they turned back, looking Flopsy right in the eye and speaking in unison said-

“That is so Gay!”

The End

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ROBBLOG # 253

Do you ever find you get to the point where your brain cells are “fried” and you just can’t think of a single thing to talk about- let alone write about?

I live in that void from time to time. I wonder where have all the little smidgens of stuff go that give me an idea that enables me to write about something especially something that would be on interest to you- my readers.

If I could snap my fingers when these “quiet” time come upon me and find myself away from it all in a new environment, that might activate something to write about. I used to travel quite frequently to- let’s say England or Germany, even Hawaii. Today, all that traveling is just not feasible in a busy life, filled with responsibilities. Of course there are those who think I don’t work. I do claim to be “semi-retired”- I’m hitting the big ummm…I think I’ll save that for another column but I do have much more on my plate now- that ever.

Some people claim that I am “busy doing nothing.” That might translate to another thought such as- “all the worthless things I am doing!”
Really, that’s it you know.
I am so busy “doing what I do”, I’m really not doing anything at all- really. I write.

I am not even a great writer. I try to improve and read what others write to learn how I can improve- but I am no Toronto Star columnist or even a “cub” reporter.
I have my own style.
Usually I don’t get much feedback concerning my Rob Blog or anything I write for Swisssh the Website anyway- but does that deter me?
Nope.

Me and Deb Drumm onstage with The Garage Door Players
 I’m really a one-man band. I write shows for my Garage Door Players. I write my Rob Blog. I write for Swisssh the Website where I occasionally write a review or story on an event or a piece of theatre I’ve seen- like last week’s Ricky Martin show. As well, I sell and write commercials for Swisssh Radio.

Ya gotta love Swisssh Radio. It’s heard around the world- throughout Germany, in Spain, Nicaragua, Latvia, Japan-even after the Tsunami, Brazil, the States, Turkey, Ireland, England and in various cities and town across this great nation of ours. Swisssh Radio allows me to be an announcer, something I feel I am good at and have been doing since 1972.
I love it!

Although there are those in the radio business who think otherwise, it’s a sorry state that radio finds itself in today. Many Broadcast management types need to give their collective heads a shake and return radio to its former dimension and reason for being.
To communicate, educate and entertain.

So there you have it.
There are times when I am fried.
Nothing comes.
Not one idea.

There are other times when I can actually write about nothing and come up with something.

Guess this has been one of those times.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 18, 2011

ROBBLOG # 252

I was riding a city bus the other day- in my dreams.

It was a vintage thing with big wheels and rounded fenders. A dark, sage green colour with white trim on the wheel’s rims. I had hopped on at a regular stop but I have no recollection as to where I was going- or why. The driver was amicable and was whistling a bright little tune as I threw some coins in the fare receptacle. As the bus roared into gear, I took a seat a few rows from the front- on the right side.

There was an old man sitting in front of me on a bench seat that was turned sideways, allowing him to face towards the other side of the bus, behind the driver. He was wearing a pair of black trousers held up with a pair of brown suspenders, a reddish plaid shirt and an old army jacket. A row of medals was pinned proudly to the jacket just above the left breast pocket.

Along came another stop. The brakes squealed to a stop and a couple of ladies with shopping bags climbed up the pair of steps, deposited their coins and sat in a row opposite me.
The bus started up once again and rolled merrily along the busy city street. As it did, the elderly man wearing the army jacket, turned and spoke.

“I am going to tell you a story. A story of a day back in France during the war. World War Two for you young folks sitting there at the back.”

I turned. I hadn’t noticed the gaggle of teenagers sitting at the back of the bus. They must have been chatting to each other quietly, perhaps not saying a word in case the adults overheard what they had to say and “poo-pooed” their intelligence. It seemed strange not to see them on a cell phone or madly texting absent friends.
This was- I gathered, the 1950’s after all.
No cell phones.
No texting.
No tablets.
No Stephen Harper!

The ladies across the way clutched their shopping bags and purses, gave me a brief glance and turned their eyes to the old man. He continued-
“My fellow foot soldiers and I were making a trek through the French countryside just a few days after the armistice was announced. Just ahead we could see a tavern- or pub, sitting on the edge of a small village. It looked to us like a Chalet or pub one might see in any number of small villages dotting the German Countryside- just not in France! Strange. We were tired and thirsty, so we decided to go in and refresh ourselves. It had been a long war. We approached the door and entered. Suddenly the sound of a piano and a female voice singing an upbeat song could be heard.”

As the old man related his story, I could hear a piano begin to play. Looking at the bus driver, I saw that he had been suddenly transformed into a beer hall fraulein, dressed in a colourful skirt and frilly white blouse with puffy sleeves. What had been the steering wheel of a bus- just minutes before, had magically changed into a piano and the fraulein- the former bus driver, was masterly tapping the black and white keys while singing a jolly song all the while swaying to the right and to the left. She turned her neck to look back at us- the passengers, eventually urging us to sing along. We did at the top of our lungs! When the song was over the old man continued.

“We found a table not far from the piano and after the happy song ended Gerta- who introduced herself as she sat, joined our table.”
She slapped me on the back and said-

‘Vell Boyz…vats it going to be for a troupe of wary handsome Canadian soldiers, eh?’

"She was just delightful."- The old man smiled broadly as he remembered the time.
“She told us she had lived in the French Countryside for at least twenty years. Imagine. She had made it safely through the war and she told us she was glad that things were finally finished. We soon ordered up a bunch of beers and chatted, laughed and sang with Gerta into the late evening hours. We ate Bratwurst and French-fried potatoes. The brats were the best any of the boys had ever eaten!

‘Zo. You boys just passing through or vould you like a place to lay down your head for the night?’

‘No some beds with some clean sheets- and maybe a bath, would be good. Very good.’

‘Zats no Problem.’

“So we stayed the night. We didn’t have to be at out destination for at least two days and we deserved a little rest and relaxation. It was such a good time! None of us ever forgot Gerta and the little pub in the countryside.”

The old man stopped talking and gazed out the front window of the moving bus. The driver was back in uniform. He had removed the skirt and blouse.
The piano was a steering wheel again.
Shortly, the bus came to a stop. The old man stood up and walked to the door. He turned and waved a cheery goodbye to everyone on board, then disembarked.
The door closed with a Shhhhhhsst.

“Next stop Main Station!” cried the driver. The engine growled and once again we were on our way.

…I woke up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

ROBBLOG # 251 W E E K E N D Edition

I saw Ricky Martin the other night at Casino Rama.

Yes.
He was hot.
He has the whitest teeth.
Nice arms muscles even though he scarred his upper arms with stupid tattoos. He probably doesn’t think they are stupid. They probably all mean something deep and Puerto Rican.
He had a nice trim, athletic body. Muscular chest and a nice, tanned sexy waist with a half dozen abs. Are there that many? A half dozen on the average man?
Maybe I should say he had up to a half dozen.

Sitting about 7 rows from the front of the stage with my naked eyes and his semi-naked body- he looked good! I was there to enjoy the show- which included a Puerto Rican travelogue of sorts. Ricky personally- his words, invited the entire audience to Puerto Rico. It's Pay Aas You Go though!
‘course if Puerto Rico is so great why do Puerto Ricans leave for the mainland.

I’ve always considered Ricky a little too blonde.
You know…
No, I’m not talking about his hair colour.

I always looked at Ricky as being Gay. My Gaydar helped. That and the fact that he always denied his sexuality, saying that it was OK with him if both men and women lusted for his Latin Loveliness.

At Casino Rama however, he was not too Gay. Wouldn’t want to turn away the female audience, so he chick-a-boomed the whole night through! Screaming, blonde “bimbets”- who couldn’t possibly have heard Ricky Martin sing a single note, screamed like a pen full of little pink piggies in a yard at a rural Ontario slaughter house! Those that weren’t “squealing” were busy texting their little tails off. What were they saying to their friends back home whom couldn’t go to the concert?
Things like:

“Like I M at Ricky Martin concert and OMG is he ever cute!”


“I could make love to him all night long and in the morning we would stroll the beach and he’d kick sand in any bully’s eye- if I asked him too!”


“ I want to ask him if he’ll date my brotehr Bruce and marry him and then- like, I could be his sister-in-law and I could look at him across the table at dinner and we’d go swimming and stuff…”
“Guess where I am right now? At the Ricky Martin Concert. He doesn’t look that old in person for an old guy!”


“OMG I want to twirl on his manhood and make all my Gay friends sooo jealous. I mean it Marsha. I do. Like that would be sooo cool- right?”

Martin is definitely a stunner. Huge Puerto Rican smile. Long, lithe fingers that if given the opportunity could be in many places on one’s body all at once. His big bronzed, chest and tight stomach muscles- with a generous sprinkling of “man fur”, glistened in the hundreds of stage lights. It was a delight for all the Gay men in the audience to be sure. I just couldn’t understand why were those girls screaming and dampening their “Wednesday” Panties? Possibly, they hadn’t read that Ricky came out of the closet.

I suppose it would be comparable to me admiring that dark-haired cutie Allan Hawco from TV’s Republic of Doyle or gorgeous movie star Jude Law, when I know they’re both probably straight.
I must admit I feel a lot closer to Ricky knowing that he’s now part of the same family. You now that he attends the same church.
Is a friend of Dorothy??....

The concert tour is entitled the Musica+Alma+Sexo Tour. I think “alma” means “deafening”. Ricky’s Latin Beat throbbed for 90 full minutes. I mean, I wouldn't mind him throbbing me. Just not in my ears- if you get my drift! After his first two numbers where he hung from the scaffolding as he sang, I wondered- “Okay Ricky, so you have some scaffolding. What else can you do?” Now, Ricky is no Lisa Minnelli- although he wore several of her costumes.
He makes more costume changes than Miss Ross!

On stage he never takes his shirt off completely- but he gets very close. His flesh and picturesque Puerto Rica “man boobs” are thrust out in many of the high energy numbers. In one Latin number, a trio of sultry gals took whips to Ricky in a rather provocative way. , This ain’t no show for your Granny, the weak of heart, Baptists or Steve Harper followers. Mr. Martin eventually gets the upper hand and control of the whips and leashes the gals like pitbulls, as they fan out on their leashes in front of him on their hands and "paws".

He lords over them like Mighty Thor. Personally, I thought it was a little degrading to women but maybe it’s a Puerto Rican thing. On the other hand I had no problem seeing Ricky’s buck-naked image projected on a huge white sheet that hung down from the lights high above the Casino Rama Stage. Nothing really showed that mattered.

His music? After Living La Vida Loca, She Bangs (again a very provocative “Hetro” kind of number) and a couple of other familiar songs, every song sounded like the preceding song. Even the half dozen Gay men who sat along the row next to Tom and I we were expecting a little more “Gayness” from Martin. Nothing crass and naughty, just some wholesome "Fagness" certifying that Martin is one “hot”, proud Gay man.

Listen to me girlfriend. Here’s a “Gay Truth”. A Gay Man can only take so much of a sexy woman crawling up and down a Gay Man’s body- such as the one Mr. Martin had eventually rolling off his lap.
At one point, we Gay Boys wanted to reach for the “Fag Gag-Bag”.
Ricky's semi-naked "Video on a Bedsheet!"
I believe it would have only been fair if a handsome stud came on stage- clad in only a Speedo swimsuit, to give Martin some heavy-duty lip suction and hot body action that would turn us all on our homosexual asses.
It never happened. The “real” Ricky Martin the person however, was in short supply. The entertainer was there in all his tanned, bicep-clad glory, sporting a newly “shaved-look” haircut.
Whad-up wit dat?

Perhaps that is why we went to the concert. It’s just that the real party was on stage with Mr. Martin, his dancers and band.
We weren’t invited.
He wasn’t about to share that party even though his “tighty-whitey” tee shirt proclaimed You=Me- as in equality.

Too bad Mr. Ricky’s personality didn’t make it past his gleaming, white teeth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ROBBLOG # 250


I can't help it. I love writing little stories about Betsy, Lilloweth and Helen- all living in Farmer Frank's cozy barn. This is Out in The Barn Part Four. Oh yes, this is Rob Blog #250!

Out in the Barn Part IV- Spring has Sprung.

“Betsy! Lilloweth! Come here girls. Quickly!”
It was Helen calling from the barn door near her House Stall- number twenty-two.
“It’s here! It’s finally here!”

“What is that girl hollering about now?”-cried Lilloweth as she shut off her radio, right in the middle of a Michael Buble song.

“Goodness only knows!” says Betsy as she stopped dusting and peered out of her House Stall a hundred feet or so down the way. “We’d better go. Maybe Helen’s seen a ghost.” She put her dusting rag down and moved out of her stall and ambled up the way, towards Helen, as fast as her hooves could carry her.
Lilloweth caught up to her- “My Dear, you don’t think Farmer Frank is out there in a tightly-whitey tee shirt do you?” They giggled as they walked.

“Oh, I hardly think so. This is something else. I can tell from Helen’s voice.”

Helen stood at the barn door. She was in a state of excitement all right- but it wasn’t Farmer Frank. Lilloweth and Betsy flanked her on each side.

“What is it Dear?”- asked Lilloweth, slightly out of breath.

“We thought you saw a ghost or something!” Helen smiled broadly as she moved her girth into position next to Helen.

“Girls! It’s here. Now look. Do this.” Helen took a monstrously deep bovine breath. “Can’t you just smell it?” Betsy and Lilloweth did as Helen asked. No wonder she was so excited. It was the breath of spring. Finally.

“Oh Helen! It’s spring!” Betsy clicked her front hooves together in her excitement.

“Oh, I’ll bet the hyacinths are blooming next to the big boulder down by the pond. Let’s go have a look see!” Lilloweth had squeezed her way between Helen and the door frame and stood in the brilliant morning sunshine. “Oh, My Goodness. I simply adore spring. I think I’ll slip into that new French collar. The pink one with the sequins!”

“I’m going to wear my new silver bell that Farmer Frank gave me back at Christmas!” Helen was a bitch for jewellery. The girls knew that and they loved her for her taste and style.

“I think I’ll wear my new straw sunhat!”-cried Betsy.

Helen turned and looked at her. “You mean the one with the big yellow rose in the centre of the headband?”

“Yes! The very one. I’ll be right back.” Betsy headed back to her House Stall closely followed by Lilloweth.

“I think I’ll take my camera along.” Lilloweth was a hobby photographer in her spare time. When she wasn’t listening to her favourite radio programmes.

“I’ll meet you gals outside in just a tad.”- Helen called to them. “I have to put a new ribbon on my bell, then, I’ll be right with you!” She disappeared into her House Stall- number twenty-two. In a few minutes the three friends stood outside in the brilliant spring sunshine.

“Take a good, full breath of this fresh air!” Lilloweth raised her nose high.

“It’s simply wonderful!”- cried Helen.

“Yes. Just peachy-keen!”- Betsy added.

Helen stepped towards the barnyard gate and motioned to the girls with her tail- “Come on Ladies. Let’s take a stroll.”

“Your bonnet is spectacular”- said Lilloweth as she snapped a photo or two.

“Thanks Lilly. I think so too!”

“And Helen! That bell is stunning. Just stunning. It’s so you, girlfriend”. Lilloweth was sincere. “Lift your head up a bit and point to the bell Dear!” She snapped another photo.
As she did, Betsy looked across the field and said- “Girls! The trees by the pond already have leaves. How did that happen and so quickly?”

“It must have been the rain!”- Helen interrupted. “That gentle spring rain yesterday- along with the warm spring temperatures, must have made them pop!”

“Gosh Helen! You’re terribly smart!”- Lilloweth was smiling as she looked over to Helen.

“Oh, it’s just something I picked up when reading Chatelaine and the National Post.”

“Well you are just so brilliant.”-Betsy continued. “Let’s show the girls from Mr. Brown’s Farm our new stuff and then graze down by the pond.”

“It’s just a positively lovely idea.”-said Helen.

“See!”- Lilloweth held up a basket, “I even took the liberty of packing a snack. I brought my transistor radio so we’ll have music too!” Lilloweth was proud of what she had done.

“You know Ladies, this first day of spring is one I’ll not soon forget. How did I get so lucky to have friends like you?”

“Kismet.”- said Helen.

“Kismet?” Lilloweth asked? “Is that something you read in one of your magazines?”

Helen replied with a broad smile- “No Dear. Kismet is something I learned from watching a movie.”

The Girls felt “tres gay” as they trotted off, towards the ladies from Brown’s Farm, who were lolly-gagging by Mr. Brown’s Driftwood fence. Even the sound of Helen’s bell seemed Gay!

It was going to be the most remarkable spring day- ever!

Monday, April 11, 2011

ROBBLOG # 249

Finally a few days that felt like late spring.

Gorgeous sunshine. People everywhere. Bicycles along the trail. Dogs and their owners out for a stroll. Neighbours catching up as sidewalks are swept clear of sand and debris raked from berms.

The whole idea of hibernating for several months is a distant memory-we hope.

Of course this spring, election signs are sprouting as fast as snow drops, hyacinths and crocus. In the city of Orillia, I would have to say the Liberal’s Steve Clarke is winning that show. However, I don’t think that signage is a direct representation of who’s ahead or who might win the riding. That is till for you to decide when you mark your “X” at the polling station next month.

Speaking of the election…how clever Rob. A segue into the next bit. I have a friend who writes letters- e-mails actually, to parliamentarians. She never gets a personal reply it seems, just a form e-mail.
You know. Something like-
Thanks for writing we appreciate your ideas.

A while back she wrote to Peter MacKay asking him to get on with his life. Change, Peter. Make a move, Peter. “Grow a pair Peter!”- if you will.
A form letter reply arrived in her inbox.
She tried getting a rise out of the Prime Minister as well. A lovely form letter e-mail that recognized someone had received it but the chances of Mr. Harper seeing it were remote. The e-mail didn’t say that however, you just had to read between the lines.

So I thought what a neat job it would be to answer letters and e-mail destined for a Prime Minister. Like all those staff members that look after the Royal Mail for Queen Elizabeth, I would give some answers- wishy-washy to be sure but answers just the same.

So an e-mail might be sent from a Mrs. Elvira Smith-Jones to the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament Hill. The e-mail perhaps admonishes the P.M. about incarcerations in our jails, political prisoners, freedom of speech and being mean-spirited. It also asks the PM in no uncertain terms- “don’t bother sending your usual form letter”. It would be my job to read such e-mail and compose a firm reply. I might say something like this-

My Dear, Dear Mrs. Smith-Jones,

How nice it is of you to write to me- your Emperor, on this fine spring day.
Here I thought I was going to have a wonderful Saturday starting with a quiet morning with my wife- Tallulah, the true Queen of Canada. Then your lovely message arrived.


Seeing immediately that you did not want to receive form letter 325-14A, I decided to scribble a few words to you personally.


Believe me, I know you only too well Mrs. Smith-Jones. Why just last week my little defence minister  was straddling my lap crying real tears onto my right shoulder. Madam, you should know that this young lad is usually quite gay, yet he tells me your letters make him feel useless and quite unsure of his...well, that is between him and God. I must say Mrs. Smith-Jones because of letters such as your, there is just no sport to making him do- and think, as I say these days. He just sits and blubbers. It's a wonder he remains so stiff when he represents the country abroad as Minister of War.


Of course, I have heard there are other times when he's stiff too but that is for his shrink to deal with or our Father in Heaven above- not the head of
your “Government”.

Oh, yes. I know about you little Elvira. Your caring ways. Your volunteering here and there. Your little sit-ins and marches all on behalf of peace. Oh I know too your “cavort” with men who are- “that way”. I can’t even bring myself to say it. I know from whence you came, Mrs. Smith-Jones and I believe it's a little too liberal for my personal preference.


You speak of fear and paranoia. One only has to look at your loyal opposition’s eyebrows. Does that not throw fear in the eyes of the beholder?


Political prisoners? My dear, I believe you think that S*** wouldn't melt in my Royal Canadian Mouth. Well let me tell you my dear, I tried that once on a bet- back in university.
It does.
So there!


Mean-spirited? Look Mrs. Smith-Jones, if women like you stayed barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen it would certainly make it easier for us "real" men to get our jobs done like maybe running the country and keeping the true word of Jesus Christ. If God had of thought so highly of women and wished to place them on a pedestal, Jesus would have been a girl!
He's not!
Haven't you noticed?


Look, at least the maker's offspring was born of a woman. Can't you ladies just be happy with that? Oh no! Now you want to lead countries and corporations and walk down the streets of Ontario with your boobies flopping around in the summer sunshine!
You want to protest and drink your martinis outdoor on a patio- like men, so everyone can see you and marvel at your womanliness.
Well "missy" it doesn't mean diddly-squat to me and my Reformists!
You hear me?


Now that we have broached the subject of our Lord and Master- Jesus Christ, don’t you give me that crap about him hanging around with a dozen men for 3 years.
So what?
I sit naked in a steam bath three times a week with the Minister- as well as a bunch of other guys and that doesn’t make me a homosexual person- does it?
I speak for myself here. Just because our Minister of War makes frequent trips to visit the "boys" in the Middle East, it has no bearing whatsoever on any suggestion that he's not what God intended him to be.


“Small and hard” you say when describing him?  Mrs. Smith-Jones, I happen to personal know for a fact that this man can do more things being smaller and harder than you could do twirling two turnips on a stick!
In closing, I thank you for your kind words and thoughts.
I only wait for that glorious day when the Opposition parties are flat on their fannies- penniless and poor. Then you people and people of your kind, will appreciate the country- my country, that I have set before you like pearls before swine.
Remember. Guns don't kill people.
People with guns kill people- unless they go duck hunting and then people kill ducks.


Yours sincerely,
Your Imperial Emperor and Future King,
The Prime Minister of Canada.

So that would be my reply to someone writing to the Prime Minsiter's Office.

My. What fun, eh?

Friday, April 8, 2011

ROBBLOG # 248 W E E K E N D Edition

There’s something to be said for excess.

Excess- an amount beyond what is right or maybe outrageous behaviour. Something you might experience in a “drunken” stupor, for instance. Not that I would know anything about that…

I believe that once in our lives everyone should be able to experience excess. What would excess be for a homeless person? A person living on the street. Maybe a room in a boarding house. An apartment. A month in a hotel. That would be excess.

What is excess for a political candidate running in our federal election? Winning more seats than anyone else. A majority.
That would be excess.
Ah, so not all excess is good.
No.

Excess for me could be many things.
A huge dollop of listeners for Swisssh Radio- that would be excess.
A few hundred readers for this blog.
That would be the kind of excess I could appreciate. However, I have to be content with those that read my blog now.

Many bums in the seats when I produce a show would be excess.
I know.
That’s a little far-fetched but one can dream- can’t one?

I think I would like to have just enough excess money to be comfortable.
I mean really comfortable!
A house here.
A home in Hawaii.
Another in England- especially in the Cotswolds.
A few staff to cater to my needs- and to dust.
I hate dusting. That’s why I have 25 watt bulbs everywhere in the house and when the sun shines through in the late afternoon hours- I pull the blinds.
Out of sight. Out of mind.
Hateful dust!

I would also require a jet to take me here and there but not one of those tiny little private jets. No, I would need something bigger with a lounge and showers. An “on board” Tim Horton’s.
Now that’s excess!
Just a 777.
Something of that size to comfortably accommodate friends on long flights when they come to visit or travel with me.
A relaxing amount of excess.

It goes without saying that I would need an accountant for my bezillions of dollars. Like I’d have the time to count my money or write cheques!

Finally, excess could be even more chest hair for Mark Ruffalo or Tom Selleck. That’s excess in a good way. Proving that real, excessive men have excessive hair on their chests.

Yes, there’s something to be said for excess!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ROBBLOG # 247


I wish I had of clipped the exact quote but it was something like this:

“If the Conservatives get a majority, we’ll put guns back into the hands of law-abiding citizens.”
Yup, that’s our Prime Minister.
Yours actually. Not mine.
Bang!
He just can’t let the firearm thing go. Mostly because of the “rednecks on the Christian right” living out in Alberta. Now to be fair, there are plenty of rednecks here in Ontario too.

Them rednecks loves their guns, beer, hockey and any sport where one guy beats the living “bejesus” out of another- all in the name of sportsmanship.

I had promised myself that during this election I would be silent. No sign on the lawn. No lobbying. No writing about the Tory/Alliance/Reform party, but here I am. Look, if the Cons were to get their majority not only would guns be back on the table but they’d be hanging over the television and fireplace once again too! Then, the Harperites would open other questions such as Abortion and Gay Marriage too.

Oh, just to tweek them but to tweek them in keeping with the beliefs of the Christian Right.

I honestly believe that Canadians just don’t care what the hell happens in Ottawa. I can understand why. Elixabeth May? Give it a rest. Look. You’re a nice lady but all you’re doing is taking the votes away from others who have a real party.
Don’t get me started on this Christian Heritage Party either.
Unless you have Jesus Christ stuffed up your ass you can’t be in their party. I don’t think Jesus would be amused.
Covered in crap yes but not amused.

What can we do to change things?
There’s the old adage “Get out and Vote!”
That’s not working anymore, is it?
Look.
Politicians out there.
Listen to Canadians.
No, I mean listen don’t pretend to listen.

Forget your bloody attack ads and all the crap and promises you are throwing our way each day during this election campaign. All we really want is a roof over our heads. Some heat in winter and a bit of extra coin jingling around in our pockets.
Oh, and a big gun to protect it!
Not!
We want hydro to be cheaper. What a rip-off.!
We want to stop companies from “gouging” us with extra fees like- office charges, billing fees, transportation fees and the like.
The other day I get a bill from Bell.
There were three sheets of paper in the envelope. One piece of paper was blank except for a few words at the top that told me the bill’s total also included a 2 dollar paper charge. Bell wasted one sheet of paper to tell me there was a 2 dollar paper charge!!
Things like that are just plain stupid I know but how do we stop it?
Vote?
I hardly think so.

We have so many new-Canadians in this country that we actually have a whole bunch of little countries meshed into one big Canada. The problem is that these new Canadians don’t leave their old ways behind them. The “ways” they left the old country for in the first place. They bring everything here including their individual religious bias and political views.
Which is colourful and multi-cultural- don’t get me wrong.
I get that.
What we all get is a country that doesn’t focus on what is happening in Ottawa. What is right for this country- and they don’t vote.

That’s why the Harperites are heading back to Ottawa with another minority- according to polls. Ignatieff and Layton and the Qing of Quebec have all gasped at the thought of a coalition but maybe that will happen after this election.
It’s not as if politicians haven’t lied to us before.
Right?

So there you have it. My two cents.
Better save that two cents because gas went up to close to a dollar thirty this week and Tim’s is upping their process next week.
I have a few final words.
A thank you, really.
Thank you Mr. Stanton.

Thank you for sending my passport information to Ottawa- Gatineau actually, then getting it back to me in time for a trip I took to New York City two weeks ago.
I appreciated that.

I still can’t vote for your party but I want you to know I appreciate receiving the passport
in a timely fashion.

On Another Note...

Information about Gonorrhea Lectim
The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of this old disease. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim. It's pronounced "Gonna re-elect 'em," and it is a terrible disease.
The disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behaviour involving putting your cranium up your rectum. Many victims contracted it in 2008 when they re-elected Steve Harper and are now starting to realize how destructive this sickness is. It's sad because Gonorrhea Lectim is easily cured with a new drug just coming on the market called Votemout. It's pronounced "Vote-em-out". You take the first dose in 2011 and don't engage in such behaviour again; otherwise, it could become permanent and eventually wipe out all life as we know it in Canada. Please pass this important message on to all those bright folk you really care about.

Monday, April 4, 2011

ROBLOG #246


Marilyn Monroe....a Destiny Denied.

One of my favourite movies of all time-without question, is Billy Wilder's “Some Like it Hot”. This 1959 Comedy starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe is in widescreen format and glorious, crisp and clear black and white. I slipped it into the DVD player recently to watch it for the “millionth” time.

Once, I saw Some Like It Hot on the “big” screen at a movie house on Yonge Street, near Lawrence Avenue in Toronto. This theatre ran “older” films on the big screen.
While watching Marilyn's performance as “Sugar”, I am aware of the scenes in the film where she “ballooned” in weight because of “pills and such” and still other parts where she had difficulty remembering dialogue. For instance, she was “heavier” in the yacht seduction scene with Tony Curtis. She had been off-set and Wilder began to film around her. When she returned to the set she was 20 or 30 pounds heavier. Watching her flop on top of Curtis in that “dreadful”, almost see-through Orry-Kelly gown is painful.

That is also the scene where Curtis is rumoured to have described Monroe as very “distant”, unaware and an "emotionless kisser". I have also seen Tony dispute this fact. Then, that scene in the hotel room where Miss Monroe is reading dialogue from a blackboard. It's the scene where Curtis' character is saying goodbye on the telephone. Once you know this, it is really quite easy to realize she's reading her lines. Just watch her eyes. She's straining to read from the board. Wilder just became impatient with take after take, so it was suggested the dialogue be placed on the blackboard for the actress to read.

After watching the movie, I started to think about Monroe's death again. As a matter of fact I find myself looking into her eyes whenever she had a close-up. I wonder what went wrong. I wonder what really happened that August evening in 1962. I wonder what Marilyn would have been like at 80+ years of age- if she had survived.

I did a search and began reading articles about her life-and her death. One thing became clear as I read various articles- what happened to Marilyn is not clear. One of the most fascinating sites I came across was the FBI information site. There had been a freedom of information act passed in the U.S. like here in Canada. From April 2006, I found page after page of FBI correspondence and information that had been gathered about Marilyn's activities. Most of the documents were scanned from originals with notes in the margins and important names blacked out- for the most part. Some of the activities included in the more than 50 pages were her involvement with friends and associates who had Communist leanings. It was alleged she socialized with mafiosi members after being introduced by Frank Sinatra. Peter Lawford was one of the last people who spoke with her on the phone from the bed where she died. John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby were frequently referred to, with the hint of a romantic tryst with Bobby. From "The Day Marilyn Died"-

Marilyn had calls that morning, and by the time I saw her she was in a rage, Newcomb said. Some believe the phone calls were from Peter Lawford and Bobby Kennedy- in that order. Several other disturbing calls had come intermittently during the night, in which a female voice screamed, "Leave Bobby alone!" According to some speculators, Robert Kennedy arrived at Monroe's home the afternoon of the fourth. Hollywood detective Fred Otash claims that-"Marilyn and Bobby had a violent argument and she told him that she
felt used and passed around. At the end of the argument Marilyn ordered Bobby out of her house.

In fact on the evening/morning of her death it was reported that Robert Kennedy had called her to end their romantic association and told her that he would not leave his wife nor would he see her again. This was thought to be the reason she took the overdose and that fact has been reported on time and time again in various books and magazine articles. Other facts hinted at the possibility that Monroe's body had been taken to a hospital for whatever reason and returned to her bedroom before police were called. It was said that phone company records had been erased to negate any follow up with high profile callers- such as Kennedy and others. Her companion/housekeeper- Eunice Murray, had reportedly cleaned Marilyn's room before police arrived. Pat Newcomb was appointed her personal publicist-possibly by the Kennedys.

Marilyn "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend"
 All interesting twists and turns in a sometimes sad, sometimes happy but unfortunate life. She was brilliant at comedic roles. Witness movies such as “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How to Marry A Millionaire”-where she walks smack-dab into a wall in the ladies room because she refuses to let men see her wearing glasses. A very funny, totally Marilyn “bit”. There's “The Seven Year Itch” another Billy Wilder Comedy that co-starred Tom Ewell and even the un-finished “Something's Got to Give” where Marilyn looks radiant on the screen. She was waiting to go back to work on that film when she died. There were memorable dramas such as “Bus Stop”, “Niagara” and “The Misfits”- in which she starred alongside Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.
Files from the FBI Website state:

In April 2006 newly released FBI Files referred to a dinner party at actor Peter Lawford's beach home. Among those in attendance were Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy. Monroe had been married to playwright Arthur Miller, who had many communist friends in and out of the Hollywood and political circle. Monroe also had known associations with suspected mafiosi through her relationships with Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra.

Marilyn's death will remain one of the mysteries of Hollywood. Oh, you can believe the literal translation of the events surrounding her death but I think there's much more. The inevitable fact is that as years go by there are fewer witnesses, Hollywood types and Government insiders who know the real story but choose to keep it hidden. Too bad. It would be closure for all of Marilyn's devoted fans and of course Marilyn herself, if the absolute truth were revealed.

Maybe one day it will be.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ROBBLOG #245 W E E K E N D Edition


The Final Flourish in New York

This final blog about New York takes us to Rockefeller Centre, NBC and a Broadway Opening Night!

It was a rainy, miserable, mid-week day that Tom and I decided to go to Rockefeller Centre. We followed our map and made our way to Radio City Music Hall. Blue banners on lampposts proclaimed we were in Rockefeller Centre but we were expecting to see the iconic skating rink, flags and gold figure that populates so many movies shot in New Tork- like Home Alone, not to mention Television shows such as Saturday Night Live.

Radio City

Canadian Flag at Centre Stage
 We looked around to get our bearings. To our left, there was an open square with a huge rectangular fountain in it’s centre. There in front of the fountain, were three gigantic flag poles. Looking up we saw-on the middle pole, a huge Maple Leaf Flag snapping briskly in the wind. It was flanked by an American Flag and the Japan Flag. It was a stirring sight- yet we couldn’t figure out why the flags were there- especially the Canadian Flag. We took a picture before deciding to ask directions from someone on the street.
We approached a young man in a business suit, carrying an umbrella which he had hooked over his arm. He was about to cross the street- The Avenue of the Americas.
“Excuse us but are we near Rockefeller Centre?”- we asked

He smiled and said-“I’m not sure.I don’t work in this area. Let me google it.”

He pulled out his Blackberry and said- “Here, I’ll walk with you.”

“No, you don’t have to do that.”- we said, “You’re probably busy.”

He assured us he had the time and walked along the sidewalk right next to us. Suddenly he stopped. “This is where the map says it is. We should be here already.”
He seemed puzzled but then we were as well.
I broke the silence standing there on that wet, Manhattan sidewalk.

“Look, I can see the branches of a tree down the street on the right, just past that building.”
I pointed up the street.

“That’s it!”- he exclaimed, “I’m sure it is!”
We both thanked him for his time and walked in the direction of the tree. This was what we were looking for- finally. Suddenly the street opened up and there to out left was a skyscraper with the words- “Rockefeller Centre” right over the entrance. Across the way, hundreds of flags flapped in the damp, misty air- even another Canadian Maple Leaf. We walked to the edge of the first row of flags, looking over and down. There was the skating rink with the huge gold figure- that appeared to be in flight, at one end. It was keeping a watchful eye on the skaters on the rink.

Opposite was the Mall that opened up Rockefeller Plaza to 5th Avenue. To our right, the studios for NBC and the area where their early morning show- The Today Show, was broadcast. We went inside and saw that the SNL studio was a part of that day’s tour. Across the lobby there was a line forming for that evening’s Jimmy Fallon Late Night Show. The audience members were just beginning to clear a security checkpoint.

Unfortunately, by this time the afternoon was getting late. It was 5ish and we had to return to our hotel- The New Yorker at 8th Avenue and 34th Street. It was a long walk and we had been walking for hours already. We headed along 5th Avenue past Saks and back towards Broadway and over to 8th Avenue.
We needed a good rest before dinner an a show.

This time on our New York visit, we had decided to buy tickets for Broadway Shows at the individual box office at each theatre. Last time- about five years ago, we had ordered theatre tickets online. Yes, the TKTS booth was right there in Times Square- but who wants to line up- in the rain, for a few hours in the hopes of obtaining cheap tickets? For all the shows we saw this time, we got great deals and good seats. Only for La Cage Aux Folles did pay full price, however we sat front row centre. That was worth it!

Andrew Rannells (middle) & Josh Gad meet "Lion King"
On our final evening in New York, we had tickets for opening night of the Broadway Show- The Book of Mormon- God’s Favourite Musical. This show was written- in part, by Trey Parker and Matt Stone- the writers and producers of South Park. We were excited! As is the norm in New York, Broadway Opening Nights usually start at 6:30. The Book of Moron was no exception. We decided to wait for dinner until after show. We would eat at an Olive Garden that we had seen earlier, located on the second floor of a building that looked out onto Times Square.

We left the Hotel about 5:30. The doors to the Eugene O’Neil Theatre would open at 6 o’clock. When arrived, the media were in place in white tents pitched along the sidewalk, just outside the theatre. The doorman ushered us into the lobby area and we stood with about a dozen others. All of a sudden, through the glass doors, we saw Bill Hader standing a few feet from us. Bill’s one of my favourite Saturday Night Live stars. Just a few moments later, Jack McBrayer- Jack the NBC Page on 30 Rock, stood outside the theatre. It always seem a bit unreal when you see Television or movie people in the “flesh”. We tried to act like New Yorkers- not tourists! We knew we would be in the company of “stars” on opening night! The doors opened promptly at 5:30 and we were ushered to our seats in the balcony.

“Cripes we’ll never see anyone from up here!”- I said to Tom.

Then, a few minutes later, in walks Tyne Daly (Judging Amy, Cagney and Lacey) and sits down about 10 rows from us. She looked fabulous!
The theatre soon filled to capacity and the show started.

It was absolutely terrific. It was so well done. We laughed till we cried. The songs were terrific. The actors on stage couldn’t have been better. It was a fantastic night and one we’ll remember for some time to come. This show will tour eventually and I am sure you’ll have a chance to see if in Toronto.
It’s a must.
I’ll e-mail Mr. Mirvish and suggest he see it and bring it to Toronto.

TD Bank in Times Square- only the tag line says: "America's Most Convenient Bank". New Yorkers have no idea what TD stands for or from what Country the bank originates. We used a bank machine here.

We topped off our final New York night with a wonderful dinner with great service- thanks Nick, at the Olive Garden. The view out the window next to out table was mesmerizing. The people, the lights, the excitement.
This was New York.
We’ll be back- soon. We even lost a few pounds and tightened up the calf muscles- since we walked most everywhere!

We flew home to Pearson International the next day and made the one hour trek north- stopping at a Tim Horton’s along the way.

How Canadian!

NOTA BENE: All Blog photos of New York by Tom Ruechel (Excepting the Book of Mormon Photo)

Friday, April 1, 2011

ROBBLOG #244


I wanted a New York bargain.

You know. Something I couldn’t get at home.
A watch perhaps!
Yes!
A New York street watch.

Jackie Gleason as "Ralph"
 I kept my eyes open for a ticking bargain. Then, one evening we decided to trek along the east side of 8th Avenue. We usually kept to the west side as we walked along towards Times Square, pausing to say hello to “Ralph Cramden” who’s likeness stood outside the transit authority station and garage. This particular time, we crossed at the corner just outside our hotel and started walking along 8th. Just opposite the hotel, I saw watches in the display window of a store I hadn’t noticed before. The prices ranged from 4 to 8 dollars.
A watch for 4 bucks?
We went inside. They had inexpensive jewellery, tee shirts, hats, souvenirs and of course-watches. Watches were piled high on a centre display in every conceivable style and shape. I shuffled the boxes on the counter and found a glitzy looking model- in gold, with an expandable band. It was pretty! Just 4 bucks. With the Canadian Dollar- only $3.76!

Then, a watch with black face, gold trim and a black leather band caught my eye. Just 6 dollars! With the exchange it was a savings of 36 cents CDN. The total of the two watches came to $10.35.
Both were quartz and made in China but then so is the gold Cardinal watch I have and it was much, much more than a mere 4 dollars!

Above the Altar
 I wanted to go back for a tee shirt the next day but I could see the store still had its corrugated protective shutter in place over the windows the following morning.
 This trip to New York afforded us much more time for sight-seeing than the last time we visited. As I mentioned in other blogs, Greenwich Village, Times Square and Central Park were wonderful places to see but a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue- just up the street from Saks was awe-inspiring. This gothic cathedral stretches for an entire city block. Once inside the huge door it immediately becomes a place of solitude and reflection. The quiet is deafening. None of the sounds of a city of a multitude of millions can be heard inside. The ceiling soars hundreds of feet into the air. Details are ornate. From the rear of the church to the Altar seemed miles away. After a security checkpoint we were left to ourselves. Altars to various saints lined the perimeter. A special “chapel” within the church celebrates and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A painting of the Madonna and Child hangs several feet off the floor at one such altar with dozens of flower arrangements vying for her attention beneath. Just to the left, a chapel with a dozen or more rows of pews faced what appeared to be a statue. An "angelic rendering" of the Virgin Mother. A sign on the back of the last pew asks for quiet, respect and reverence.

View from the rear of the Cathedral

In front of the chapel is the main altar of St. Patrick’s with sound, lighting and video equipment handing from sturdy gothic columns and from the ceiling above. The Cathedral has large video screens throughout the Sanctuary, attached to huge columns that support the massive roof enabling all the faithful to have an unobstructed view of the altar.


One of the many knaves "St. Anthony"
 Further along- on the north side of St. Patrick’s stands a statue of St. Patrick himself as well as Joseph- Christ’s Earthly Father. Knaves with hundreds of lit candles can be found placed sporadically throughout the magnificent building. The accompanying pictures tell the true story of the ambience inside.

Many things have changed since our last time in New York- about half a decade ago. Take the famous Colony Music Store just above 49th Street. Last time CD’s and DVD’s of favourites Broadways shows and movies were in abundance. Not this time. The sheet music section of the store seemed well-stocked but bins that were formerly overflowing with movies and CD’s were sparse. It was sad. We were told that even a huge HMV store that once dominated the Times Square landscape was gone. HMV- a British company recently pulled the plug on its U.S. Stores. Now, I hear the same fate may be awaiting Canadian locations of HMV – or at least a scaling back. It seems that many of us are buying online through sites such as Amazon, Chapters or iTunes.

Marquee of the 42nd Street McDonalds

One Broadway store still remains, however. Just up the street from the St. James and Shubert Theatres-on West 44th Street, this quaint little shop remains open and well-stocked. I haven’t mentioned the name because I can’t remember. It’s Broadway something or other, a fabulous little New York shop. Phantom of the Opera is still playing almost directly across the street from the entrance. You’ll find movies, music, scripts, Broadway Tees, souvenirs and more! When we walked through the front door, the same owner was still standing there behind the counter too- as jovial and welcoming as ever. We were looking for a particular version of the movie Gypsy, the Television version starring Bette Midler. We would have taken the Rosalind Russell movie too- if he had of had it. A clerk looked for us but they were sold out of both! Oh well, there’s always online!

On the next blog I’ll write about a Broadway Opening Night we attended- The Book of Mormon… God’s Favourite Musical, as well as a visit to Rockefeller Centre.