Archive for March, 2013

I like to think I am a smart guy…I think therefore I am right, so I guess I am a smart guy, good for me. As a person of reasonable intellect I believe that I have the capabilities to understand most things in the world. Do I know how nuclear fusion works? Absolutely not…However, I like to think with enough time and research I could have a general understanding, enough so that I could carry on a dialogue about the subject if the need ever arises. Since this need will probably never arrive, I have no plans to even Google nuclear fusion, but I could. There is a wealth of knowledge out there. I used to have to go to the library and dig up old texts or look through the archaic encyclopedias kept in my parent’s basement. Now, with a few clicks on my phone I can learn about anything I want (a large part of me prefers the old way, but I will save that for another day). Equipped with a brain and a wealth of knowledge at tips of my finger no subject is beyond comprehension right? I am not saying after a quick Wikipedia search I would be able to split atoms, but I would have the gist of it, so if say my daughter ever asks me: “what is nuclear fusion Daddy?” First I will think, shouldn’t you be watching the Smurfs? But after that I will realize that I don’t have to completely bullshit my answer, because I can easily use my brain and finger tips to find an adequate answer.

I ask again, is any subject beyond comprehension? Yes. There is one subject, try as I may that I will never understand. No matter how much I read or how hard I work my brain I cannot begin to understand the gay marriage debate. Mainly, I don’t understand why there is a debate. I say this completely dismissively, it is pointless and a non-issue. I don’t mean that people’s basic rights are a non-issue, I mean the fact that we feel the need to debate a person’s right to get married is pathetic.

If you watch the news or use any kind of social media you know this is coming out of the ongoing Supreme Court of USA investigation into Proposition 8, which deals with same sex marriage. I am not a political person, and I have no desire to get into a political debate. Frankly, they bore me. I do not know a ton about American politics (I am Canadian), but I know the broad strokes (again I could learn more, if I found it to be necessary. At this time, I do not). In my mind this transcends politics and is a human rights issue. I don’t really get involved a lot. My writings are usually just humourous stories, incoherent ramblings or just simply a way to blow off steam. This issue and debate perplexes me so much that I wanted to share my own thoughts. Not that I have any great insight, trust me, I don’t. Writing has always been my best form of communication and allows me expression my thoughts, ideals and my personal favorite and very appropriate in this case, the stupidity and hypocrisy of others.

In Canada same sex marriage has been legalized since 2005. I do not make this as a statement of intellectual superiority. It is just a statement to put my writing in context. Like my general confusion on the topic I have no idea why it wasn’t legal until 2005 and why we are only the fourth country in the world to make it so. What right does any government have to regulate who can marry? I suppose in the right that marriage is a legally binding contract regulated by the government. This begs the question, why would anyone let the government decide the fate of their relationship? I would suggest, and hope that the majority do not. Marriage is not a necessity for a successful relationship by any means. Many couples are perfectly happy not to get married. There is nothing wrong with that. It is a choice. The point is that how can a government not open an institution as revered as marriage to their entire public. Dismissing a large portion of that public based on a lifestyle choice is obviously prejudicial. Canadian Prime Minister (who is famous for much more than being cuckolded by Mick Jagger) said this in the 1960s regarding the decriminalization of homosexuality:

“Obviously, the state’s responsibility should be to legislate rules for a well-ordered society. It has no right or duty to creep into the bedrooms of the nation.”

This statement makes clear what the state’s role should be. Obviously the issue reaches far beyond the bedroom. It makes the case that a person’s lifestyle choices have no baring or relevance concerning government decision making. The fact that this is a case that had to go to the highest court in the land makes me sad and if I was of a more political nature I would be more inclined to heavily question the productivity of a government that spends so much time and money on a debate where the obvious answer seems so painfully clear that you wonder about the legitimacy of common sense or basic human decency.

The religious argument….First let me say that I no way intend to offend anyone’s religious or spiritual beliefs. I recognize that the people who oppose same sex marriage from a religious stand point are a relatively small group and that they do not represent the whole. This segment is directed at the smaller majority who promote their beliefs with the agenda to belittle others. I apologize for any innocents that are hurt in the crossfire.

The Bible is pretty heavy. Literally. It must get easier standing on your pulpit as the Bible gets lighter when you tear out the unnecessary ones that may contradict your point. These opposers love to cherry-pick from the bible to prove their point. There are no bigger hypocrites in human existence that I can recall. The Bible at its best can be a spiritual guidebook, teachings to uplift people in their time of need. At its worst it is a vicious battleaxe stained will blood and bad intentions. Using the bible to demean others and classify them as anything less than equal is hateful and oxymoronic. The bible is not a literal text, but then again, metaphor might be too big of a word for some from this flock. That being said, you may not support gay marriage, and I have made it clear that I do not understand that, but I do understand that, that is your belief. Does someone else having a different belief make yours any less true? If you answer yes to that, than it is not a belief you have, but a badly placed idea. People believe in different things, always have, and always will. The necessity of some to tear down another’s belief to prove theirs’ true is also lost on me. Believe what you want. I don’t have to like it and you don’t have to like it if your male neighbours (***Gay Stereotype Alert***) look too much like Bowie and play Madonna all day. You can just smile and wave and know that their beliefs are in no way a threat to yours.

Some will say that I am going to hell for my beliefs. Well, Heaven and Hell are states of mind and matters of perspective. At the end of the day, I would prefer to go with the more accepting bunch.

“Same-sex marriage isn’t natural….” I love that one…. What is natural? Pretty sure I wasn’t meant to fly, eat ice cream or live past 35 either. Natural is subjective and ever changing. Open your eyes and ears, adjust, evolve and move on. End of point.

I don’t understand…Did I say that already? Gay marriage is the most illogical debate I have ever heard. The only possible opposition to gay marriage I could understand is if it was coming from a gay person who was terrified of commitment. Not gay? Then you have no right to oppose.

If every gay person in the world was given the right to get married, my life would not change one bit. This issue, regardless of outcome has no effect on my life. That being said, I ask the people who oppose this how a gay person getting married would have any effect on your life? No, not why it is against your beliefs….Not because a small part of a large books alludes that it may be wrong…Not because it is not in accordance the governing body of your nation….How would it change your life?

It is not a rhetorical question. There is an answer, and if you stuck allow me to assist.

It wouldn’t change your life one little bit.

Can we move on now?

-Jason
@gskewedview

You ever get a line from a movie stuck in your head? Sometimes you can’t place the actor who said it or even the movie it was in, because great movie lines transcend both. They can be funny, witty, romantic, provocative or absurd; but whatever they are, they resonant with you. Some even find a way to work their way into your daily vernacular. You say them as if they are your own words and often they are so obscure that only you get it, and your brain smirks a little when you work in a quote from The Breakfast Club into a typical daily exchange.

Obviously, my favorites will be different from yours, because you are you and I am me, and there is a vastness of difference between us that does not stop at our taste in flicks. While I appreciate the classics like Clark Gable’s : “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I am more prone to quote something a little more on the absurd side like an excerpt from Steve Martin’s opening monologue in The Jerk : “I was born a poor black child”.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite with my small audience of readers, because, well I feel like it. I wrote a post a little while ago that covered my TV addiction (I am sure there is a way to post a link to it here. But it is amazing enough that I know how to write anything online given my lack of interest in technological advancement. I am sure there is a way you can find it on your own, if you are so inclined. But you are probably not, so let’s move on). My television addiction is closely rivaled by movies. I have seen a lot, and own thousands. I rewatch my favorite over and over until I can quote the dialogue verbatim. To give you an example of this insanity, I can quote every word of 1993’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (I even do a dead on impression of Robin Hood full equipped with a southern Californian accent). I like special effects, and scenery as much as the next film watcher, however for me it always comes down to the words. And here are some of my favorites.

“Here endeth the lesson” – Sean Connery as Jim Malone – The Untouchables

Maybe I just have a thing for people doing bad accents. Connery won an Oscar for his portrayal of an Irish beat cop who apparently wants to be Scottish…The best movie lines are the badass ones. The badass ones are the ones that don’t sound badass at all. If this quote was taken out of context it would sound more like a stuffy English professor that a hardened Scottish/Irish flatfoot. However, Sean Connery telling a wet-behind-the-ears Costner how to be cop is both confident and unquestionable. His sage like wisdom continues throughout the movie with other good quips like: “Isn’t that just like a wop, brings a knife to a gun fight.” Although that last quote, ultimately leads him outside to be gunned down. Maybe not so sage like after all, and apparently racism is bad, as seen by Connery’s bullet ridden corpse. I think that ended the lesson (Oh…see what I did there? Huh…..Come on….). However, his “lesson” quote is later ruined when uttered by Costner in an attempt to bring his teachings full circle by quoting Connery’s teachings to Deniro. I don’t believe Deniro is acting in the end when he can’t hear Kevin and waves him off, I just think he doesn’t believe him. It’s ok Kev, I think you got your revenge for your friend when you threw the Michael Jackson impersonator off the roof.

I know I have made a few Costner jokes already. But let me make it clear, I do so with love. I am a Kevin Costner fan. Go watch Fandango where Kevin and some college buddies drive to Mexico to dig up a bottle of champagne. If that doesn’t fulfill your Costner thirst check his role as the dead guy’s feet in The Big Chill. Seriously, I am a fan.

“I love my dead, gay son.” – Grieving Father – Heathers.

Heathers should be required viewing for any highschool student. This movie would never, ever get made today. It is packed full of teenage suicidal/homicidal angst, vile poetic dialogue and stereotypes promoted to their hyperbolic best. It is bitterly, beautiful and all that was right about teen movies in the 80s. Christian Slater is a perfect as the bastard born son of a Jack Nicholson and James Dean night of drunken regret. The quote above is so arbitrary in its absurdness that it taught me at a very young age the ridiculousness of someone be identified and ridiculed solely by their sexuality. There are too many quotes from this movie to name. Go rent it (wait can you still do that?). Watch and enjoy for yourself. If had to pick just one more quote it would have to be the line uttered by Heather Chandler which was a picture perfect line of poetic verse : “Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.”

“Amid the chaos of that day, when all I could hear was the thunder of gunshots, and all I could smell was the violence in the air, I look back and am amazed that my thoughts were so clear and true, that three words went through my mind endlessly, repeating themselves like a broken record: you’re so cool, you’re so cool, you’re so cool.” – Patricia Arquette as Alabama in True Romance

Some quotes are so good that they can sum up the whole flick. In the case of True Romance three words: “You’re so cool.” Nuff said.

So far we have had two Christian “Kuffs” Slater references to go along with Kevin Costner. Do you know what movie Kevin and Christian starred in together? Yup. 1993’s seminal classic Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

“Suck my fat one, you cheap, dime store hood.” – Wil Wheaton as Gordie Lachance in Stand by Me

This was said to Kiefer Sutherland back in 1986. I am sure if Wil said this to Kiefer 20 years later, Jack Bauer would have snapped his neck then emptied his clip into him and said “damnit” before Wil’s body hit the ground. He would then cover up the murder and defuse a nuclear arms race in a compelling 24 hour period. This was 1986, and Kiefer was a hood named Ace Merrill, and Gordie was a scrawny kid with a passion for vomit stories who was boldly standing up for a dead guy he never even met and ended up leaving him there anyway. Defiance in the face of a bully has never been so satisfying especially when equipped with a chubby Jerry O’Connell, an unfortunately apt train dodger in Corey Feldmen and the good looking Phoenix brother.

I could go on forever. There are too many, and it is getting harder and harder to choose. So I will close with arguable the best line ever spoken in film. The iconic words are valiantly articulated by Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride:

“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

I have been trying to work that one into a conversation for over 20 years. I have yet to achieve this feat. If my father is ever slashed through the heart by a six fingered man…..Well, I will not be at a loss for words.

Please share your favorite quotes in the comment section.

Later,

Jason
Follow – @gskewedview

P.S. Ok, one more:
(After decapitating the butler) “Looks like you won’t be attending that hat convention in July.” Bruce Wills as Hudson Hawk in……Hudson Hawk

Two more sleeps till St. Patrick’s Day!

There was a time in my life when that would have been exciting…Unfortunately there comes a time in everyone’s life that pre-drinking before the bar opens at 11 O’clock in the morning becomes a thing of the past. Well maybe not everyone’s life…But those of us with a “shit to do list” have to postpone those cocktails to at least the respectable hour of noon.

As far as I can tell I have no Irish in me. I have searched extensively, and by extensively I mean I did a five minute google search and I called my Mom….

Google : Nada.

Mom: “I think someone might have slept with an Irish person once…” Thanks Mom.

So to conclude: no Irish in me. Other than the fact that at this point in human history ancestry lines are so blurred we are all pretty much the product of one big swinger, swapping orgy. Sadly, I have nothing to celebrate come Sunday…Luckily the Irish are an accepting bunch, and as long as you are willing to drink and sing and raise fists in defense of all things green, then they pretty much let you partake in their day of debauchery.

In order to prepare for the day of artificially coloured beers, bad decisions and broken noses, I would like to review some St. Patrick’s Day highlights and the lessons I have learned from this historic day. Gather around the keg kiddies….It is story time…

One memory comes from my freshman year in University. In my first year of school I had 11 hours of class a week. Conversely, bars were open 105 hours per week. To make it clear, I did a lot of drinking that year. St. Patrick’s Day was no different. There were a total of 12 bars on campus. My “homebase” was conveniently located in the basement of my residence building. I lived on the second floor. I don’t ever recall walking down the two flights of stairs to the bar, since it was too much fun to get in the elevator and hit “B” – for Bar. Even though it was always a short trip home, some nights I ended up sleeping on the couch in the bar. On some occasions I was fortunate enough to have the opening bartender the next day bring me a coffee and quietly turn on the big screen, keeping the volume low as to not wake me up.

The reason this year sticks out as a St. Patty’s Day memory is the small pub was packed with about hundred or so students and as far as I could tell the only Irish one was the bouncer. He also proceeded to get more drunk than every patron in the establishment. As the night progressed he got more and more agitated and believed in his heart and booze fueled soul that everyone in the bar was anti-Irish. It is a very dangerous situation when the bar bouncer is picking fights with unprovoking drunk students, although it is amusing. He proceed to go around the bar asking each parton what the heritage was. Each answer was not Irish, hence it was meant with a distained glare and quick “fuck you.” When he got to me I mentioned in a drunken slur that I had some French in me. Now this is taking place during the “Freedom Fries” craze in the States. And even though this is taking place in Canada, he proceeded to berate my French heritage with such intensity you would have thought I was an IRA bomber who just blew up a school bus carrying his children. Of course my reaction was to laugh. Now, laughing at a sober barroom bouncer is not a smart idea. Laughing at a drunk, Irish barroom bouncer on St. Patrick’s Day is suicidal. But hey, I have always been a vertical cutting kind of guy. Luckily for my sake the owner (who if memory serves me correctly had some kind of connection to the Japanese Yakusa, as an interesting side note) stepped in and defused the situation. The bouncer bought me a green pint and we cheersed and all was well. Ahhh, that magic of St. Patrick’s Day. The next night there was a heavy line to get into the pub, and I was unusually late to the party. The same bouncer (who looked like he had been hit with a Mack truck that was hauling a load of Mack trucks) pulled me out of line and profusely apologized for the situation the previous night. I quickly shook his hand and there were no hard feelings as he let me skip right into the bar without waiting. I found out later that he was tasked with tracking down everyone he insulted the night before as penance and to save his job. Last I heard he is still tracking down a few wayward drunks before the contract hit from the Yakuza is lifted.

LESSON LEARNED : Irish people hate French People. Japanese people hate Irish people. Vis-a-vis French people love Japanese People.

That same year the bar ran out of green food colouring and someone decided that you just can’t have plain golden beer…So purple food dye was substituted. Because hey, who will know?

Another memory finds us looking in on me one year later. This time I decided to stay home and throw my own party. While I have thrown a few parties over the years they never consisted of more than a keg or two of beer and a solitary bowl of stale chips. I never saw the need for more. However, St. Patrick’s Day is a little different. You are asking 20-30 people in this case to avoid the inevitable good time of making the rounds of the local bars and swaying arm and arm with strangers singing a poor man’s version of O’ Danny Boy. You are asking your friends to take a risk on you. That can be stressful. You want relives stress? Alcohol. So that is what I did. The party was set to start at 8pm. At 10 am I was ready and pacing around the house. The anxiety was killing me. I decided a beer at 10 O’Clock in the morning was a good way to chill out. Well I couldn’t then and still can’t now, have just one. I continued throughout the afternoon until (in all seriousness) there was a cluster of 38 empty beers bottles surrounding the couch I now slept on. The party was awesome. Occasionally I will hear a friend bring it up as one of the great parties of the last decade. I never saw one guest. I was left on the couch as the party happened on and around me. Good times….

LESSON LEARNED: Stop at 37

Our next and final drunken green memory takes place several years later and across the country in Banff, Alberta. The highlight of this story comes at the end of the night after the festivities are over and your weary storyteller makes the long walk home only to discover that he too is not immune to the St. Patrick’s Day drunken fistacuffing stereotype. As I stumbled along the long and winding trail (under normal circumstances it is actually a short, straight paved road) I finally came upon my place of residence. I stopped in the parking lot to have smoke before going inside. It is then I notice my soon to be opponent. A full grown male Elk was standing in the parking lot (not uncommon at all for Banff). If you are unfamiliar with elk, google them. They are bigger than a deer, smaller than a moose and are as dangerous as Jason Voorhees when angered. At first I stared in wonder. Wonder gave way to concern as the Elk neared my car. I cautioned the Elk to not take another step in that direction. Again if you are unfamiliar with Canadian Elk you probably don’t know that they can perfectly communicate with drunk assholes (you can google that too). The Elk ignored my warning and walked directly to my car and stood beside it. Now I was pissed (for no logical reason). I yelled expletives at the animal. He responded by (no word of a lie) looking straight at me and then peeing on my car. Yes, an Elk pissed on my car which I can only assume was out of spite. Those of you who do not think our furry friends are capable of spite, well you’d be wrong. Every wonder why your car is the only one in the parking lot covered in bird shit? Or why those raccoons will spend all night vigilantly placing your garbage all over your deck and yard? Sometimes animals turn around with middle fingers in the air in defiance of years of aerosol cans, clear-cutting and dumping. Back to the Elk; he peed on my car. I took a few steps closer, pointed and berated the creature for unacceptable urination. Can you see where I went wrong here? The Elk charged me. In what I lacked in drunken agility I made up for in luck as I dove over the hood of another car and quickly made my way to the rear. I laid on the ground panting and slowing got up to my knees and peered over the trunk to see the Elk glaring at me through the car. He stomped his hoof and I made a girlie scream and made the 30 foot dash to the front door of my building. I looked back at the Elk through the glass doors. He stared back for a moment than turned and walked off into the moonlight, head held high. Conclusions I later drew from this were, either I hurt the Elk’s feelings or that it was one of those rare Irish elks and he must have smelt the French in me. I capitalized the ‘E’ in elk in this last paragraph because that night, that Elk earned my respect.

LESSON LEARNED: Carry shotgun

Those were just a few of many St. Patrick’s Day memories. Were they the best ones. I don’t know…They were the only ones I could remember….And they serve as proof that valuable life lessons can only be learned through drunken irresponsible behaviour.

To all my Irish friends, happy St. Patrick’s Day! To everyone else, happy fake Irish day!

Cheers,
Jason
Follow – @gskewedview

I am all for community and day to day pleasantries and all around niceties that go along with being good to your fellow human…But do we really have to talk to each other?

On the surface I am a people person. I am very social at gatherings or events. However deep down I am not sure I am that fond of people. As a whole they annoy me. I like my family well enough and my friends I have acquired over the years are pretty good too (actually some of the friends I think by now are only friends by default because I have known them so long, and am too lazy to make new friends. Because really, I can only have so many friends, and probably stopped making news ones years ago.) It is the day to day menial conversations with strangers that are starting to bug me. Why are people so afraid of silence? Can two people not stand in close proximity to one another and ignore the other’s existence? What is wrong with that?

How many times a day does a random stranger strike up a conversation with you about the weather? It is 11am as of this writing and 4 random people have made comments to me about the weather (This is made more irritating by the fact that I am in Canada and it is March, which is by far the most unpredictable month of the year. So unpredictable that science has yielded the month of March to be fought over by lions and lambs). Obviously I never start these asinine conversations, but I have to wonder about the other person who instigates them. Are they like me and are also going to have the same conversation sixteen times today? Are these just the people that are afraid of silence because maybe they were locked in the closet as a child if they spilled their fruit loops or forgot the words to a Hail Mary? Or maybe they actually have something to get off their chest, and I am an acceptable receptacle for venting. If the former is the case then they have obviously yet to learn how to efficiently segue from their spiel on the weather to their true confession and should probably invest some time in coming up with a new introductory topic.

I am not sure when a smile and nod stopped being enough to satisfy our urge to connect with our fellow humans. I can understand hundreds of years ago when people travelled on horseback or in wagons, you might not see another soul for days on end, and upon encountering one you might be more inclined to stop and visit and discuss the weather or other crucial topics of the day. In this much more solitary time I can more easily grasp the need for human connection. If only to feel out the other party to see if you are in danger of being raped and pillaged or to see if there is a chance to take part in some raping or pillaging yourself. Nowadays we are surrounded by people constantly, can’t we just all just get our coffee in peace?

The other day I was standing in line for coffee. The gentleman behind me starting talking, it took me a minute to realize he was talking to me. I was in the middle of reading a text. I wasn’t even fake playing with my phone to ignore people (Don’t deny it, you do it to. It is the best use of a cell phone). The man made a comment to me about another younger man and how he disapproved of his wardrobe. I thought said man’s wardrobe was a little ridiculous myself. Has your waist moved down to your knees? Even rappers don’t wear baggy pants pulled down passed the point of rational thought anymore. Probably because they saw hundreds of young white boys doing it and realized – “Shit, they are on to us. Let’s start wearing suits, that will really fuck them up”.

While I may have agreed with the man standing in line with me, I didn’t understand his reasoning. Was he starting his own clothing judgment committee and enlisted me as judge number two? Don’t I need need to sign some kind of work agreement for such a position? Or at the very least give verbal consent? Why would he assume that I would share his beliefs? I should have turned around and said:

“Well sir, that happens to be my mentally challenged brother, and we are letting him dress himself to increase his confidence and self worth. I do not appreciate or condone your ignorance or intolerance.”

Instead I responded same as I had a minute earlier to the woman asking my opinion of the weather : “Yep.” That is just easier, and I could go back to finish reading my text.

I quit smoking almost a year ago. (Hold for applause…..) The greatest benefit of this is that I have cut down on the amount of people I have to talk to. Whenever you go out for a smoke, there are other smokers who assume because you also smoke all of your values and beliefs are completely in line with theirs. It is like these are secret meetings smokers hold where they get together and trash the rest of the world. After spending a five minute smoke break with a stranger I would be qualified to write a biography of them and their storied family history. This is not why I smoked, but quitting and avoiding these meetings has been a far greater benefit than warding off cancer, re-growing taste buds or not having to endure angry glares by joggers.

Something has to change. I need to stop indulges these people. I am going to do one of two things the next time someone decides to wreck a perfectly good silence. Either I am just not going to play anymore. I won’t fake play with my phone, or pretend I am a deaf mute. I will just stare at them until they feel uncomfortable and walk away.

Or two, I am going to play. And I am going to win. You want to talk? Ok, we are going to talk. I am going to start carrying around folding chairs strapped to my back, so when someone wants to start up a dialogue I can throw down those chairs. We can sit down and have a nice long discussion. We are not going to talk about the weather. We are going to talk about how it was a travesty that Michael Biehn was killed off even before Alien 3 began; Or where to find the second warp whistle in Super Mario 3. I would like to hear their opinion on what is killing my grass on the north-eastern part of my lawn. I will go on at great lengths about the injustice that was done upon me when I lost out on the English award in my final year of high school to the foreign exchange student from Bangladesh.

Eventually, word should get out about me. They will whisper in the shadows about my legend. School children will tell tales of my existence to frighten their classmates. Campers roasting marshmallows will debate my existence. I will be referred to at dinner parties and town hall meetings as the ‘Folding Chair Conversationalist’. People will be instructed to avoid me at all costs for their own safety and sanity. They will run, not walk across the street dodging traffic and certain death just to avoid that fateful meeting with me.

As I walk down the streets, chairs criss-crossed on my back the crowds will part for me. People will look down, try and find something, anything to read, fake sign language with their friends or desperately grasp for the their phone, anything to avoid eye contact. I will think to myself ‘mission accomplished’ as I enjoy the sweet sounds of silence.

Thanks of indulging me.

– Jason
Follow @gskewedview

Sometimes I think I should turn off the TV and do something more productive….I know I need to clean the basement… Haven’t really had clean clothes in a couple of days…What is that smell??… The dog looks like he wants something not sure what, but damn it is cute when he carries around that food dish…Why does my work keep calling?? I think I was there on….Oh my leg is bleeding, a lot. Is that my femur?? Probably should try and stop the…Oh wait TMZ is on, better turn it up, that baby crying is getting pretty loud.

Yeah I know what you are thinking….TV really is awesome. Alright…I admit it, watching TV may occasionally get in the way of other supposed important tasks, like the ability to say to entire word…Television. It takes a long time to say four syllables (Wait…four?? Let me clap that out – TEL (clap) – E (clap) – VI (clap) – SION (clap)….Yup four. Thank God for whoever came up with that infallible form of grammatical measuring). I don’t have time to say television, that Cheers episode I have seen over thirty time where Gary from Gary’s Ole Towne Tavern encases the bar (and Woody) in cinder blocks, is on in a few minutes. Sometimes I really don’t know how I get anything done. Some may say that TV is detrimental to your lifestyle. Those are the people who can’t afford cable…I am sad for those poor souls…Why is there no charity for this underprivileged group?? I should start that, we could have a fundraise…..Hey look! Criminal Minds marathon, awesome…Wait what was I talking about?? Right, TV equals awesome…Not just for its aesthetically pleasing pictures or nurturing sounds, but also how it has helped me become a better person.

Being an avid TV watcher I am much more efficient than the average ‘Joe Bookreader’ (You are not better than me Joe….For one I have never got a paper cut from watching TV….Haha…TV -1 Books – 0). TV has conditioned me to get the other essential life sustaining tasks done in a much shorter time span. The average commercial is 30 seconds long and there are usually 5 per commercial break. Which means that every 8 minutes or so I have 2 and a half minutes to get done the essentials. That is all the time in the world…Throw pizza pockets in microwave, go to bathroom, get Mountain Dew from fridge, grab aforementioned pockets and head back to couch just in time to see how Sam and Dean get themselves out of this one. 8 minutes later, I now have an open slot to ask my wife about her day…8 minutes after that I finally figured out why the dog has been carrying around that food dish…

Speaking of the dog…TV must be a very curious thing for him. Occasionally he will notice the TV if another dog is on, and he will sit down and look at the screen with a tilted quizzical stare. Or if George Clooney is on TV, then his fur will go up, and his teeth will come out and growls will sound out of his throat. My dog hates George Clooney. I am not sure why, but it might have something to do with the fact my dog used to date Stacy Kielber…wait…What!? Oh what is that??? Saved By the Bell reruns….awesome. Anyway….Often the dog just stares at me. He looks at me like I look at Paris Hilton. As if he is thinking “Is there nothing else….anything else you could be doing right now than staring at the bright, loud, magical box for hours on end.” But I don’t put a lot of stock in my dog’s idea of time management. On our last walk he investigated a rock for 20 minutes.

TV has just been a huge part of my life since I was little. The lessons I learned as a child from those shows have carried me through high school, university and my day to day adult life. So many valuable lessons….How could I have gotten through High School physics without the lessons I learned in Looney Tunes?? Thank you Wile E! The Muppets taught me that any obstacle you face can quickly work itself out by the time you are done signing your song. The Smurfs taught me about intolerance and racism. Gargamel was the ‘White Man’ keeping the blue man down. That wasn’t cool. Because of that show I always thought of blue people as equals. Transformers gave me a greater respect for vehicles. I was always nice to cars and trucks out of fear that they would come to life as robots and kick my ass for missing an oil change. Sesame Street opened my eyes to be able to see the day to day annoyances of people who live in garbage cans. I can now empathize with these individuals. To this day there is always a spot on my curb open for them. I could go and on about the invaluable life lessons I have learned. I would not have become a well adjusted adult if not for these and many other educational programs.

This is my love letter to TV. I went to Hallmark to buy my TV a card, but there was no such card. Our relationship is too deep, beautiful and complicated for even the wise words of Hallmark. But in every great relationship there is a dark side, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to not point out the negative aspects of TV. There are bad shows on TV that hurt me deep down in my soul. I call these programs: “The Wife’s Shows.”

I wish I could give you more of a warning so you could avoid such debacles, but I can’t out of fear. Fear my wife will read this and take the TV away. Even typing that last sentence created enough separation anxiety for me to shutter. No, I can say no more on this topic. Just know that sometimes you have endure the dark times. Love will endure.

I will admit that TV has had other effects on me. It has, to a degree, desensitized me to reality. I don’t see this so much as a bad thing, more of a mildly amusing side effect. For example, I have found myself angered by the last few season of Survivor…I get mad because they give the people food. I know somewhere deep down that it is wrong to feel anger when starving people are given food, but I feel anger nonetheless. It’s Survivor! How dare you give them rice! Make them eat bugs and chase boars with sharpen sticks…I want to see the camera cut away to the disgusted vegan’s face when they have to slaughter their pet chicken….

I also tend to immerse myself in my favorite shows. I often think that I am one of the gang. This might have gone too far recently. My wife and I have just discovered Criminal Minds….which is awesome by the way. It is the kind of show the gives the people on Law and Order nightmares. We have spend the last couple months getting caught up on the DVDs. One night we were taking a break from it and were watching the news. A story came on about a rash of killings across the country. I immediately got up, turned to my wife and said, “wheels up in thirty” and left the room. I spend the next half hour sitting in my car looking at an empty file folder until there was a knock on the glass. I looked to see my wife standing there holding something. I rolled down the window.

“What’s that?” I said.

“Your pants. Remember those?” She said.

“Honey…..I think I have a problem.”

“I think so too dear.” She replied and passed the pants through the window.

“Will you take me to get some help?” I asked as I clung to my pants.

“Yes of course. But The Bachelor is on in a few minutes…….I will take you after that…..”

“………………I think I will go clean the basement now….”

-Jason
Follow – @gskewedview

Everyone thinks their family is crazy right? Right???? Ok, good.

I am not as close with all of my family as I once was. I guess that happens as you get older and start your own family. There are still the weddings and funerals (both involving large quantities of alcohol and bad singing). I remember as a child the extended family getting together just for the sake of getting together (Or for the Family Olympics….more on that later). It doesn’t happen anymore, which makes me sad. There are certain people who hold a large extended family together; the matriarchs, patriarchs or the crazy, fun-loving, charismatic uncle that rallies the group together. But, once those family leaders pass on, something much more profound than the individual is lost. I have found myself reflecting lately on the way I grew up and the thirty or so lunatics that helped raise me. In one sense I smile with fondness. In another I am sad, because I can’t help but wonder if my daughter will miss out not having some of the craziness around that I did. The family leader and cheerleaders seem to be gone now, and I don’t see anyone picking up that torch to carry it on. I know I am not that guy. I will be the one behind that guy or girl diving into the pool for golf balls, or sitting next to them for the watermelon eating competition. But I am not the one to bring them together. I am the chronicler. It is as pleasantly nostalgic of a role as it is sadly reminiscent.

I could shuffle a deck of cards and pour a perfect beer before I could walk (now that is a joke, with a small amount of truth to it, so go easy on the ones who raised me, they did a good job). My parents encouraged every bit of my childhood. I was let free to run, play and imagine. In summer I was set free to my own devices (helicopter parents had yet to exist). The only rules were, I had to be home for three meals a day and in before dark. Other than that, they trusted that the basic values and teachings that had instilled in me would let me make reasonable safe decisions (plywood bike ramps are completely safe, as are rope swings) and enable me to always make it home. They let me be a child. I was allowed to fall, to scrap up my knees and elbows, and occasionally need stitches. I would get bandaged up and go right back out and run till the bandages fell off. Kids are not allowed to be kids as much as they should be. That is one of the greatest gifts my parents gave my siblings and me. They let us be kids.

While my parents encouraged me to be a kid, they also allowed me to be a part of their world. Every once and awhile they would peel the curtain back and allow me a glimpse of the adult world. I learned very early on that the adult world and the kid world were not that different. The only real difference is that in the adult world no one is telling them when to go to bed (expect for the wives on occasion). My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would sit around an extended kitchen table for hours, drinking and playing cards. They laughed and screamed and banged on the table just like us kids did…..Wait….Dad is leaning back in the chair and Mom just yelled at him for it…..Just like me!! They were just a bunch of big kids playing….

My parents didn’t make me go to my room, or go watch cartoons. They didn’t force me to go down to the basement to play with my cousins. They let me stay and watch, and see my parents as more than parents, but as people who wanted to have fun just as much as I did. My role was not just designated to observer either. I had a job. I got people drinks when they need a refill, or acted as an advisor if someone had a really good hand. They would flash me there cards with a wink and I would nod approvingly. I would make my rounds around the table offering shoulder massages to the weary gamblers. I charged a $1/min…I think my price was fair. Between the massages, the tips from drinks and the money I collected from under the table (my mother would tell me years later that they dropped the money on purpose) I usually had a ziplock bag full of change at the end of the night. After some long weekends I had collected close to $100….That is a lot of comic books.

These family gathering did not just revolve around cards, although that is how every night finished. It started with car rallies (which were extravagant scavenger hunts all around town). I watched grown adults pack into cars in teams all wearing ridiculous costumes, ranging from cowboys, to clowns to Elvis and Dolly impersonators. It was sight. After the car rally there would be all sorts of games around the house: food eating competition, mini boat races, tug-o-war, make shift golf course tournaments. It went on and on. At some point a trophy was even made to be awarded to the winning family (last I saw it, it was in my parents basement). These would happen every summer for a number of years. They got crazier and crazier each time. I remember one uncle letting all the air out of the other team’s car tires. Somebody soaked one side of the field the night before the tug-o-war. Unfinished watermelons were tossed over a nearby fence when no one was looking. Of course I was not innocent in these affairs. At one event one of my uncles paid me to get a hold of the other team’s boat and weigh it down with quarters before the race. We were caught, and my uncle was disqualified. His punishment?? He had to lick beer off my grandmother’s foot (no one told my grandmother about this until it happened…she was not pleased). Another year I was elected the role of judge to determine the winner, several family member approached me with bribes….I took them all.

When I was older I was given more responsibility. One of the first adult games I was allowed to play was a beer chugging competition, where you had to chug a beer out of a baby’s bottle. If you have never tried this, you have no idea how hard it is, and you may well be a higher class of citizen (What do you mean?? Your wine doesn’t come out of a box??). This was also the year I was designated “keg boy”. My job?? Running back and forth to the garage with pitchers of beer from the keg. This is when I learned the rule…. ‘One for you, one for me”. I may have gotten a little drunk that year. I remember the look of my father when he realized. His eyebrows lowered and he asked “how many?” “Only two” I replied…..To this day that is still my answer whenever anyone asks me how much I have had to drink…… “Only two…..”

I would like to take a minute to address underage drinking. Is it wrong?? Probably. Is it going to happen? Yup. I was lucky in the sense that my first experiences with alcohol were in a safe environment. When I did turn of age, I didn’t run out to the first bar and drink until I passed out. I was educated by then. I knew what alcohol did to me, and was able to control myself (somewhat) more so than the person who grew up in a house where alcohol was taboo and indulged the first chance they got.

These are among the best memories I have as a child. My family may have been slightly crazy and a tad dysfunctional, but they were mine and they were good. All the family members that participated in the aforementioned shenanigans were all responsible, well adjusted members of society with families of their own. However, when they all got together all bets were off. Let the craziness begin! The one thing they all had one thing in common: they never lost that amazing spark for life that too many people do as they become older.

One of my favorite memories is watching as my 79 year old grandfather who had been confined to a wheelchair for the latter part of his life ask my father and uncles to help him out of his chair and in to the hot tub so that he could join the party.

As a mentioned at the start of this rant about my family, we don’t do these gatherings any more. And haven’t for almost fifteen years. We have lost the elders and an uncle who had more energy for life than any adult or child I have met before or since. My parents have gotten older, and can only break out the crazy once and a while. The extended family is separated across the country and all are now growing new extended families and I have to come to terms with the fact that things are different now.

I will always have the memories and the lessons I learned. The most important being: Sometimes kids need to act a bit more like adults, but more often adults need to act A LOT more like kids.

Crazy is sleeping now. As I look at my young daughter and think of all my nieces and nephews, I smile. I know in my heart that a new crazy is rising.

Thanks for reading,

Jay

Follow – @gskewedview

I have that fantastic urge to write something. Yet, I have no idea what I want to write about. Zilch….. What an odd word…Zilch..Hmmm. What is the etymology of the world ‘zilch’? Let’s find out together…..Here I come Google…..

zilch (n.)
“nothing,” 1966, from earlier sense of “meaningless speech” (1960), originally Mr. Zilch (1931), comic character in the magazine “Ballyhoo.” Perhaps from U.S. college slang (early 1900s) Joe Zilsch “an insignificant person.” Probably a nonsense syllable, but Zilch is an actual German surname of Slavic origin.

You know what? I am no better for having known that. I am zilch better than I was 1 minute ago.

I believe the previous few sentences may be among the worst things I have ever written. That is including the stapled together pieces of construction paper that held my first novels….The Adventures of Mr.Bear….They were classics. Check them out on Amazon…..Nevermind I just checked, must be sold out. Printing and binding construction paper with staples is hard, hard labour.

This is sad….I really have nothing to say. You would think I would stop now, but you are not so lucky dear reader….It does beg a question though…I know why I am still writing, but why are you still reading?? You must have something better to do…Perhaps refinishing that old bed side table you keep telling everyone in your family not to throw out, because you are “getting to it”. (Even though you know it looks worse the more work you put into it, but damn it! You said you would finish it, and finish it you shall!) Or watching a Degrassi Junior High marathon (Because you are holding out hope that this time Shane won’t take the acid and do a swan dive off the bridge)….Oh I know, you could read some of those books on your shelf you have been telling people you read back in college. (The Wikipedia ending of The Grapes of Wrath is waaaaayyy better). Wait…I got it…Have you had a good cry recently? Maybe it is time you realize that you have three fingers pointing back at you. It might just be time for some you time. Light some candles, put on the best of Sade CD, light some incense and get down on your knees in the middle of the living room and wait for the water to start flowing……It is ok, let it all out. Sob to your heart’s content. Those really deep hard ones that hurt your chest, that’s what you want. Don’t forget to breath. Oh wait…Shit! Someone is home. Yah you really shouldn’t have done that. You really should have checked first. How am I supposed to know if someone is home at your house?? Oh now they think you are crazy. You managed to survive the time you stabbed them in the thigh with a fork…But this is too much. They are gone. They will be back for their stuff later. You say you will be out, but you won’t be will you. Nope, you will scare the shit out of them when they come in and find you sitting in the dark, smoking a cigarette at the kitchen table, drinking straight vodka and methodically tapping the fork on the table.

See?? There is a plethora of fun-filled productive activities you could be doing rather than reading this…

Ok, so now that you are sad, alone and watched your fill of poorly produced yet effective Canadian melodrama, I can tell you why I am still writing when obviously I have nothing to say. I am writing because it is the only known cure to writer’s block. You want to write something, but don’t know what? Don’t over think it. Just write…It doesn’t matter if it is dogshit. It doesn’t matter if it is nonsensical dribble (see paragraph above). The sheer act of writing will help you get over that seemingly impassable mound. You will most likely throw out every word you wrote (or you will publish it online). But maybe, just maybe there is an idea, one line, even a perfectly worded phrase that somehow escaped the rest of the literary bile that spattered over your page. It is now your job to cut the fat. Clean off those few precious words and run with them. It might lead to something great….Or nothing at all. But maybe you will take even more from the next piece. Just keep going. You will never, ever write anything worthwhile by sitting around trying to think up something to write. In the most ideal of circumstances it just comes to you…In the worst of times you have to work for it. Which means you have to write, and really is that not the whole point anyway??

As for me…Well I am off to explore the literary wonders of love scorned, fork wielding serial killers.

Check ya Later,
Jason – @gskewedview