Category Archives: Downtime

Show It To Me

There are a few shows I watch when Stephen isn’t around, and not out of shame or guilt.

There are some things you enjoy simply because they are yours to enjoy.

There isn’t much more to add to it than that.

For once, you don’t have to be accountable.

 

1. Haunted Ghost Show

I know that sounds redundant, but I am VERY picky when it comes to my haunted ghost shows. First, there must be a haunting. Second, there must be a ghost (demons are boring; they are rule bound in ways ghosts are not). Jump scares, good ones, and no ghost hunters, psychics, etc., please: they are also rule-bound but in conflicting, non-sensical and ultimately self-serving ways. I’m embarrassed for them.

Also, a story line where, for once, the husband finally clues in and believes the wife about the haunting and then she just leaves him, finally realizing that his validation is as fucking useless as he is (there are still ghosts, ghosts regardless, aren’t there?), and that she’ll have a better, ghost-free life without him. That…would also be nice.

 

2. Nature Shows

Especially those involving fish and undersea invertebrates but, yeah, I’m someone who loves their nature shows. They’re soothing. I don’t even need Attenborough’s smoothed-over affectations, just some cuttlefish and something about starfish migrations and maybe a hypnotic sequence involving jellyfish.

Also, footage of monkeys stealing from shrines. Something about that – the pointlessness of justification, the inevitability of the act and the primacy of it – just seems about as close to perfect as perfect can be.

 

3. The Same 4 Episodes of Bob’s Burgers in a row.

These are:

S07 E13 – The Grand Mama-Pest Hotel
S07 E14 – Aquaticism
S07 E15 – Ain’t Miss Debatin’
S07 E16 – Eggs for Days

All of those. In that order. Every time.

 

4. Fargo (1996)

I watch this movie a lot; it’s one of my go-tos when I want something I know is going to be good, but do not want to spend 45 minutes on Netflix deciding on something only to resort to Twitter or YouTube to occupy myself for the rest of the night.

Why is this movie that kind of good?

Heck do ya mean?

Also good second and third choices: The Drop (2014 and because it’s still on Netflix) and Wayne’s World (1992, though 98% of that is because of Tia Carrere as Cassandra).

 

5. Arthur

Yes. The aardvark, not…the drunk guy? (I’ve never seen the movie Arthur).

Listen, there is a narrative purity and sophistication to kids’ shows that I often find lacking in “darker,” more “serious” adult fare. Arthur is very good at setting up and following through on a premise without pointless exposition or unnecessary moralizing (Peppa Pig is another such kids’ show, but for reasons that are more existential…like the time Peppa doubts herself because she can’t whistle and abruptly hangs up on her friend who can).

Also, Arthur has been on for 21 seasons (so far), meaning I’m never going to run out of episodes.

Joan Rivers played Francine Frensky’s Bubbe on the show, there’s a Neil Gaiman episode (he appears in a falafel), and a cat named Nemo. And Francine can play the drums.

Favourite character? Of course I’ve got one, and can’t you guess it’s not Arthur?

 

6. NOTHING

Sometimes embracing nothing is better than grasping at something, anything.

Isn’t it not?

I wish Netflix would stop recommending WolfCop (2014) to me.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Downtime, Entertainment, Ghosts, Movies, Pets, Pop Culture, Television

Nothing/Everything

The thing I won’t buy at the grocery store because it’s “too expensive” I’ll buy at the gas station because “whatever.”

I’ve largely forgotten how to do long division but actually wouldn’t mind a few remainders.

I doughnut care.

If it’s distasteful, chances are it’s also delicious.

(Can I do this in one hundred words or less?)

I like the pomp and appreciate the pageantry, but wonder sometimes about the spectacle.

Idle worship, and then I’m out.

(Eighteen words to go – no, thirteen)

I’d like to think I’m a good person. I’d like that very much.

Nothing’s funny; everything’s hilarious.

 

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Filed under Downtime, Food, Interruptions, Language, Words

Fish Story

1. Storm Waters

The pond was located not too far from my cousin’s house, just behind the park, close (but not too close) to the highway.

“We’re going fishing,” she said, bucket and net in hand. She was a year older than me and, therefore, wiser by ages. I was in charge of the fish food: a full canister of blue and yellow and pink flakes that we had procured from her parents’ vast inventory.

Hers was a family of fish breeders. Her parents, my aunt and uncle, breed and raised fish and showed them competitively, sold the rest. Not a profession, just a hobby. But one they took very, very, ever-so seriously.

The storm pond water was murky and littered with patches of thick-grown, brown flecked green scum that rode the motion of the overflow as the pond lapped at our flip-flops.

“Ready?” She filled the bucket with some of the water, careful not to collect too much of the scum. Then she opened the canister, popping the foil seal just so (releasing its freshness), and held the net at the ready. “Now!”

We tossed handfuls of the fish flakes onto the water’s surface, rich fragrant snowflakes among the assorted waste of the storm waters.

“Wait.”

It didn’t take long. One by one and then in groups and then in droves came the fish. Fish of all shapes and colours – anything, really, that you could imagine from your local pet store. Murky water turned a riot of gold, white, red, black mixed with blue, yellow, pink. Tails swished, fins broke the filmy surface, bodies churned the murk it into a frothy mess from which bulging, unblinking eyes glared at us like spotlights. Open mouths; so many open, toothless mouths.

Poor, abandoned creatures. Tossed away (discarded, dumped, flushed) by people who I imagine had once been enamoured by their charms, by the prettiness of their delightful hues, clever contours and cute underwater antics, which were now all rendered grotesque. Life in the storm waters had caused the fish to change, to grow to monstrous sizes and into unseemly proportions. Into ungainly, ugly masses; living breathing tumours. Absolute freaks among freaks.

“When we have enough, we can go home,” my cousin said matter-of-factly. With practiced strokes she began netting the fish, the weight of them bending the pole into a most unnatural angle.

I never asked her how much was enough. It would not have been the proper question to ask, at that time. It was a lot.

And I never asked what the fish were for, what she intended to do with them.

 

2. Over Turned Bucket

Here, catfish aren’t exactly good eating, and I remember my dad holding a particular distain for the uncouth creatures – all eyes and slick mottled skin and barbs you could not convince him weren’t somehow dangerous. But luck is a fickle thing: we caught so many fish that day, and all of them catfish. Perhaps he felt that he needed to salvage the day somehow, redeem ourselves as best we could. In perhaps the only way we could.

The garage was the only place my dad was allowed to clean and prepare the fish we caught. Mom, ever fearsome, made sure of that, and it’s hard to blame her. The stink of fresh water fish, no matter how freshly caught, no matter how much my dad insisted he’d get it all, had a way of lingering long past due.

The preparing of the fish was always a solemn affair. Dad talked little as he worked, and we either watched him or we didn’t. Talk little, work fast, that’s all that mattered. Be there with him or no, dad would do the work regardless.

I crept into the garage, careful not to make unnecessary noise. Dad was at the worktable, effortlessly sliding a big knife lengthwise through the body of a particularly girthy catfish. Its head was missing, its fins and tail soon to follow.

“Don’t get too close to the knife,” he said, not bothering to take his eyes off the fish. “Move.”

I did as told, accidentally knocking over the metal bucket I missed seeing on my way in. It hit the concrete floor with a soft bang, overturning its burden so that it was undeniable. There was no looking away from them.

The heads. That’s where dad put them. The squirming, gasping, wide-eyed heads. The twitched, they spasmed, they stared right through me as they whispered unheard words with wet fish lips. Curses, for all I know. Wicked incantations, gulping greedily at the air, seeking purchase.

One, two, three…five, seven, eight. All the fish we had caught that day, though even now I could swear to you that there were so many more than that, fish be dammed.

(Later I’d learn that it was an automatic nervous/muscular response, the fact of the heads moving after decapitation).

But tell that to the child who for all I know is still there, counting heads, unable to do much else. Unable to be of much use to anyone.

 

3. The Osprey

Years later. New house, new backyard patio. A birthday BBQ featuring my dad’s famous pork chops, chicken and quail. A most sumptuous repast.

My cousin wasn’t there. We are, for all intents and purposes, estranged.

So I wasn’t thinking of her as I let my head fall back on the cushion of my chair and gazed at the impossibly blue sky.

It had been years since I’ve gone fishing with my dad. But I wasn’t thinking about that either.

I wasn’t expecting to see the bird or much, really, of anything.

Osprey are fishers. People at the dog park near the river sometimes freak out, seeing an osprey hovering above them and, more to the point, their small dogs. There is a part of me that wants to tell them not to worry, to reassure them that everything is, in fact, OK: this particular bird of prey will do no harm to them or, more to the point, their dogs. But then I wonder how much good it will do: people also do so love drama and the dog park, indeed, is a rather sleepy one.

The osprey that came into view above my head as I sat in my chair on my parents’ patio during my dad’s birthday BBQ flew low, struggling to keep hold of its massive catch.

The fish held in its talons was easily bigger than the bird by half. But then, maybe I’m exaggerating, for dramatic effect. This much is true: the poor thing gleamed gold-orange, gold-orange-gold, huge scales protruding off its belly, which was so engorged it seemed likely to explode in the heat of the sun as the fish twitched and spasmed, struggling to free itself.

Of course, we laughed: some ridiculous person in my parents’ ridiculous neighbourhood had lost their ridiculous fish from their ridiculous (that is to say, exquisitely landscaped) backyard pool.

But now I find myself thinking of my cousin and of the storm waters and wondering what, exactly, the osprey had caught, and where, and also what my dad would have done if the bird had dropped the fish in the middle of his BBQ.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Death, Downtime, Family, Friends, Pets, Places

Grave Game, Round 2

(a.k.a. “Epitaphs,” but it’s hard to resist alliteration and impossible to deny it, once indulged).

Round 2:

GIRL!

– Took It, Left It.

– Now For Patience.

– Paid Too Much.

– No More Bad Days.

– I Fail To See The Point.

NETWORK ERROR.

– Remains Open To Interpretation.

– Buyer’s Remorse.

– Overrated & Undercooked.

– Worms, Guys, Worms.

– Your Face.

I WISH YOU WOULD.

– Uh-Oh.

– I Left My Head And My Heart On The Dance Floor.

– Trust.

My, My, My.

– Fancy That.

– Did I Leave The Stove On?

BOTTOM’S UP!

– Your Shoes Are Ugly.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ceremony, Communications, Death, Downtime, Games, People

Grave Game, Round 1

Did you know?

My friend, Ria, plays a mighty fine Grave Game: think up the best epitaph you can, for posterity’s sake. It certainly helps to pass the inevitable time.

(I guess the game should be called “Epitaphs,” but sometimes the names pick themselves.)

Nobody will ever read your yearbook, but someone’s bound to walk pass your grave.

 

Round 1:

– I Never Read The Book.

– Must Be Nice.

– Bitch, Please.

– Meh.

– Omar Coming.

BEHIND YOU.

– Fine Enough.

– Here Lies Lisa Simpson.

– My Other Grave Is A Camaro.

– Kind Of Hard Not To Take This Personally.

– Weasel Popped.

– I Doughnut Care.

– Shredded Hearts Or Cheese, Makes No Difference.

– I Voted.

– What? These Old Bones?

– Lousy.

– “The Thing in Quotes That Defines Me.”

– Am The Dust Collecting Now.

– No More Fart Jokes.

– I Tried, I Tired.

– Don’t Blink.

– Have A Nice Summer!

– The Whole Thing Was Pretty Distracting.

– Imagine Now How I’d Look In Real Life.

– People. Do. It. Every. Day.

– Finally Got It.

– Better You Than Me.

– I Used To Be A Lot Better Than This.

– Now Comes The Hard Part.

– Yoga? Dead Anyway.

– The Movie Was Better.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Communications, Death, Downtime, Friends, Games

Bed Time

I’ve been sharing a bed with a boy for quite some time now.  But the boy – my boy Stephen – is currently out of town, and it dawned on me soon after he left that the bed – the whole bed – was mine for the time being.

An unencumbered bed.

A bed undivided against itself.

MORE BED.

For those of you lucky enough to be single (HA, HA!  I’m kidding.  It’s not great.  Rationalize all you want as stream The Daily Show and devour your store bought perogies straight from the pot)

(then again, being in a couple left me tingling with excitement and bad intentions over having my own bed to myself and feeling like I was actually getting away with something just because there was no one around to reinforce my good behaviour)

(huh)

(we all make our own Hells)

…or fortunate enough to have a bed to yourself, you are probably baffled by why I so manifestly lost my mind over something as seemingly trivial one night’s altered sleeping arrangements.

Mine. ALL. MINE.

I have been to the Great Wall. I have walked the Himalayas. I have seen the sun rise over the Ganges. Yet, it is this glorious THIS that has brought mine eyes to tears.

How to explain?

It’s a lot like being a lion at the zoo that discovers that one of the Plexiglas walls is down.  There’s suddenly more SPACE available to occupy, explore.  Kitty can thus claim more territory for herself.  Kitty can roam, claw and roar to her kitty heart’s content.  Kitty can eat the children.

Kitty is, however briefly and superficially, FREE.

For one night, for one beautiful night, the Possibilities were ENDLESS.

The Reality, therefore, was inevitable and (of course) crushing (OF COURSE).

A reality in which I fell asleep on the couch in front of a t.v. warming in the sweet fires of the melting pot mosaic that is the OMNI channel.

(OMNI: programming so diverse, it’s miscellaneous!)

With Stephen gone, I also overindulged in sleep – waking up only briefly enough to appreciate going to sleep again – and then waking up after that to horrible visage of Lucy Zilio.

Lucy Zilio: the Brian Adams of her Thing.  And not because they're both Canadian.

Ugh.

Who would buy patio furniture because of this woman?  Her endorsement makes me not want to play the lotto for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  Her status quo smile and empty, vacant, dead DEAD eyes make me want to run away from all spa treatments, yoga classes and Caribbean vacations forever.

Lucy Zilio, you are the price I must pay for my Simpsons fix.

Lucy Zilio you are, like, the Mary Hart of Canada and everybody else in Canada is that other lady from the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lucy Zilio, you are the straw that broke the camel’s back which is to say Kitty’s back which is to say the straw actually has a lot to do with the Plexiglas and the kitty is ME.

THE GLASS MOVED WHEN I WASN’T LOOKING AND ALL I COULD DO IN THE END WAS STARE AT YOU FROM BEHIND IT!

Next time, then.

Next time, Unencumbered Bed, my bed without encumbers, my lovely, you will be mine.

Oh yes.  You will be mine.

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