Assorted Fancies – A Comic Interlude

“I always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite. Furthermore, I always carry a snake.”

W.C. Fields

On the night my daughter was born, I ran into a male prostitute with assless cut-offs who told me I was about to have a boy. Only now do I realize that this was a double entendre.

Never take a nap while your wife is in labour. You’ll never that fucker down.

My father used to call me a son of a bitch. I always agreed.

My mother used to call me a smart ass. I asked her if she preferred for me to be a dumb ass. Funny, but not a recommended reply.

My daughter asked me to take her shopping. I said “sure – what do you want?” She said she needed a training bra. I said “no problem,” and then promptly, and quite deliberately, piled the car into a tree.

I was once cut off by the bartender at the Cecil Hotel. That’s like Satan refusing you entrance into Hell because you’re too much of a skevy bastard.

The shyest person I ever meet pulled a groin muscle in grade seven and had to get weekly massages from a very young and attractive woman. He later became a priest. True story.  Too much, too soon.

We lived down the street from a deaf couple. He was always telling her to shut up. I never understood that.

I knew a kid who lost his leg in a thresher. That year he went as a peg-legged pirate for Halloween. I had to give him props for a sense of humour.

Being electrocuted is not bad, actually. It all depends on how long and who you’re with at the time.

If you can’t laugh at yourself at least make fun of somebody else.

I stopped drinking because the only thing worse than passing out and coming too still drunk is becoming more sober the more that you drink.

I always used to say a little prayer before kicking off at the Emergency Operations Centre. Then it occurred to me that I was praying to the same God who seemed to want to continually smite our assess. Blasphemous, but still true, no?

I once had had a summer job socializing puppies. This mean being literally locked In a cage with about a dozen, full grown, and very anti- social german shepherds for four hours with nothing more than a leash, a whistle (for some reason), a winning smile, and a will to make it out alive. Fuck me, that was a bad job!

When I finished my English degree, I had a choice between going into education or law. Since I hate children ( and the grown up versions), I figured I would go into law. What the fuck made me think that I would like lawyers better is really beyond me.

Lawyers were children once. Well, at least some of them. I think…

I had an uncle who was hit by lightening twice. He was told by his doctor that he had five years to live six times. He lived to a very old age. Go figure.

Mind you, when told that he had died, someone remarked “how can you tell?”

I like to tell stories.

Definitions you can use:

Random: made, done, happening or chooses without conscious decision: odd, unusual or unexpected.

Best Of Three Falls

“You’ve had more comebacks than Frank fucking Sinatra, my friend!”

A former boss

I admit it. Lately, I’ve caught myself thinking “God, I would give anything for a wildfire or small earthquake right now.” Emergency management is oddly addicting, wildly entertaining, and awfully hard to shake. Once you get bit, you are bit for life. No little boy dreams of being a career mid-level bureaucrat, but every little boy dreams of wild adventure and blowing shit up. I miss debating the “logic” of bombing an ice jammed river to prevent flooding come the spring melt, and whether we could get either a piece of artillery or a fighter jet (true story) as regular ordnance would just not do the trick. How can one go from that to doing an analysis of the possible implications of allowing genetically modified alfalfa? I mean, really, who gives a shit, other that alfalfa farmers of course. So, lately, I’ve been looking for my tights, cape, foreign objects, and, of course, my Mr. Atomic mask and entrance music (“Momma Said Knock you Out”). I’m itching to get back in the ring and just lay the boots to someone, bounce their heads off of a turnbuckle, and just generally tear shit up. Just as I am sure that there is most certainly no parole from rock and roll (seriously, it’s in the federal sentencing guidelines), I am sure that the cure to something that has not worked in the past is to do it again, only faster!

“Don’t call this a comeback / I’ve been here for years / Rocking my peers / Putting suckers in fear ….”

Definitions you can use:

Insanity: repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

Ola, Brasil!

“We are our choices.”

Seneca

In honour of my faithful viewers in Brazil, I will attempt an entry in Portuguese. Google translator and I ask your forgiveness! Plus, I can’t figure out how to get the accent marks on, so hopefully this is unintentionally hilarious at best; well meant and only slightly offensive at worst.

Estive em un pouco de uma espiral descendente recentenmente. Minha mente tem sido cheia de pensamentos negativos. Em seguida, um simples, mas profounda verdade bata em min. So porque nos nao somos, nossos pensamentos, nos somos as nossos escholas. I pode escolher a nao acreditar em todo que aparece em mihna cabeca. Em outras palaveras, eu tenho uma escolha. Eu posso aceitar ouvia mihna mente diz, ou eu posso criticamente avaliar o que eu estou pensado a luz demo que eu acredito. Essa percepcao simples forneco um meio de controle, e me move a partir de um prisioneiro de mihna mente, au seu mestre.  Para me libetar, talvez eu nedd dizer a min mesmo foder direita fora a vezes.

Definitions you can use:

Babel: confused noise.

 

When all is said and done

“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”

David Ogden Stiers

Tonight, I find myself thinking of lost threads.

My aunt passed away just before Christmas in her 50th year.

Christmas was special to us all, and we all lived for it. Every year, my aunt and uncle, who were more like an older sister and brother to me, came to our house and spent the holidays with us.  This was our time; a bright buoyant beam of light and some of my happiest memories.

And it wasn’t just Christmas. I remember as a child leaving Calgary at about 5:30 many Friday nights, driving the seven or so hours to Saskatoon – usually stopping in Drumheller for a special Burger Baron treat (I always had the double “pizza burger”) – and finally getting into town at about 1:00 in the morning.  We would stay as long as possible, usually leaving after dinner on Sunday and getting back home at about one or two in the morning.

I treasured those weekends. I still remember driving through the middle of the prairies in my dad’s monster Ford LTD, windows down, the sky clear and full of stars, listening to songs from by parents’ youth. Freedom and contentment. I was going where I thought I belonged, where my real home was.

I remember the lilac bush outside my aunt’s home, whipping through C Circle Drive (which made no sense to me whatsoever), staying up late watching Johnny Carson, my favourite Martian, and the Monkees, and revelling in the moment.

Punch buggy, purple herbies, bleaching contests. A lot of swearing, a lot of laughing, and a lot of love.

When I had my daughter, she was the first one I called.

I remember the last time I saw her. I held her hand silently. When it came time to leave, she was too weak to hold her head up, so I held it up for her and gave her a hug. I promised we would see each other again, but we both knew that was just to help ease the parting. I never told her that I loved her, or that she went so much to me. Lost threads.

She was interned in a small urn resting at the feet of her mother and father. We each laid a single red rose across her urn, and then she was gone from our lives. Afterwards, I strolled through the cemetery, which now holds many of our people.

I still remember holding her hand, and the look in her eyes as I left.

Every year we hang an ornament on our Christmas Tree. It is a picture of her. And she is happy.

Lost threads we gather. Lost threads not forgotten.

Definitions you can use:

Recollection: a thing recalled; a memory.

After Action Report -The Moral of the Story

“The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

During my first group therapy session in the hospital, I was asked to introduce myself and “share whatever you are comfortable with.” When I said that I was going on 15 years of treatment, the psychiatrist actually said “What the hell? When are you going to get your shit together?”

A good question.

More and more, I believe that the years I have spent in therapy have only really been about trying to teach me about mimicking  “healthy” emotional behaviour, which, in reality was about being guided through a set series of formulaic “self realizations” towards guidance in how to behave in a “helpful” rather than “unhelpful” manner.

I had suspected this for some time, but group therapy really brought it home to me. No matter what the person was talking about, the line of questioning goes usually in this order:

“I really screwed up today”, says patient.

“When you say you really screwed up, what’s that all about?”

“I threw someone down a flight of stairs”, replies patient.

“Can you think of anyone, perhaps from your past who told you that you screwed up?”

This leading question results in the patient saying “my (insert Mother or Father).”

“And how did that make you feel?” A not as obvious, but still leading line of questioning.

“I felt (insert hurt, shame, guilt, etc.).”

“So, when you say you screwed up because you threw someone down a flight of stairs today, who is really talking (or,  “whose tapes are playing in your head”)?”

(Your honour, the prosecution is leading the witness!)

“It’s my (insert mother or father)”

Cutting to the chase, the point was to identify past messages that cloud our perceptions of current events and lead to distress, and/or to identify the source of destructive patterns with the overall object of becoming aware of unconscious thoughts that drive bad behaviours so that one can overcome these messages, perceptions, and behaviours, and, thereby, break the cycle.

At the same time as I was taking this therapy, I had a prescribing psychiatrist who, even though he referred me to this therapy, rolled his eyes and scoffed at it.

To him, biology was destiny, and the only valid treatment was pharmaceutical. Drugs in ever increasing doses.

To confuse matters even more, I was also referenced to a third psychiatrist by the second one who, in turn, rejected both of the above approaches. Cause didn’t matter, according to him, what you thought or how you perceived things was the key.

This third approach was much more pragmatic, and focused on a lot of cognitive behavioural therapy exercises.

Ultimately, I think they were all right and wrong at the same time.

I know I need medication, to be aware of underlying causes and unhelpful patterns of behaviour, and that how I think is essential to my happiness.

I also believe that mindfulness, meditation, what you focus on focuses your life (i.e. if you focus on fear, fear will organize your life), and putting as much energy into being happy as you do on being not unhappy, are critical too.

At the end of the day, it’s what works that counts.

I have an uncle who, ironically, teaches psychiatry at a university hospital. He rather openly questions whether psychiatry has any solid, scientific basis, or is really a process of conjecture, assumptions, unprovable theories, and a lot of “throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark.” Yet, he goes in day after day and tries to help given the tools and their limitations on hand.

I would be surprised to hear anyone claim that they truly understand what a thought is, how it comes about, and, physiologically, how it occurs.  Can anyone explain love without retreating to metaphor. What is it? Where is it? Why does it occur relative to some things and not others? Can anyone point to it? Scoop up a bucket of it? Reproduce it it bio mechanically in a lab?

Same with sadness, rage, indifference, confusion, depression, anxiety.

Every night there are billions of dreams. What are they? What purpose do they serve?

If we cannot explain these second-by-second occurrences, how do you explain a hallucination? Can anyone irrefutably prove that anything is “real” as opposed to “not real/ just in your head”?

The bottom line is, everyone has a theory based on metaphor and assumption, but no one really knows.

The existence of a subconscious is an unprovable theory, just as having a soul is an article of faith not provable fact.

Schizophrenia is such a vague, amorphous construction that many argue it could be a conglomeration of several diseases or simply not be a validly defined disease at all. It is a metaphor for a metaphor.

So, where am I going with this?

Although one of the stated purposes of my therapies over the years has been  essentially to deconstruct my beliefs and behaviours, understand and recognize them, and, therefore be in a position to make better choices and then to reconstruct my identity and reconcile or integrate the good and the bad, the dark and the light, it was really about trying to help me help myself.

I remember being told that I just needed to learn to cope. Boy, that pissed me off. This was after the “this is like diabetes, and you don’t blame someone for having diabetes, now do you?” speech, and seemed somewhat contradictory.

But, as much as I hated hearing that, in my case, it was right.

I live what Thich Nhat Hanh calls “the original fear.” This fear is experienced at the first moment of life. It says “I cannot survive on my own; I need someone to help me, or I will die.” While literally true for a new born, this belief, if deeply internalized and carried forward as an organizing principle in life, can drive all forms of anxiety, depression, and the resultant behaviours  people use to escape these feelings.

In a literary sense, it is man versus nature translated into man versus himself as perceived as man versus nature and man versus man.

So, if true, how do you overcome these feelings?

I believe the answers lie in the Buddhist concept of acceptance.

I will die at some point, so yes, I will not survive this (que the Doors’ “The End”). Everything I have now, will all be gone at some point. There is nothing I, nor anyone can do about this. It is fact and inevitable.

Boy, those Buddhists are real rib ticklers!

Instead of being fatalistic, it is freeing. Acceptance of impermanence is the first step to freedom. To fight the world, to grasp after things that are meaningless in the end, to drown out the world in a sea of booze and pills, to try and control, to try and escape your shadow is futile and only creates suffering.

However, when you learn to accept, you learn to receive peace and undertake a journey towards grace.

But what is not meaningless is that we all need someone to survive. Whether only to share this brief moment, this, I think, is what is meaningful.

Definitions you can use:

Acceptance: consenting to receive or undertake something that is offered.

Rod and Screw – A Comic Interlude

“I told my doctor I broke my leg in two places. He said stop going to those places.”

Henny Youngman

Every year, I mark Super Bowl Saturday as the day I broke the living shit out of my leg. I mean, Wile E. Coyote broke it – ACME rocket strapped to my back, roller skates on, fall down the cliff, anvil dropped on you, puff of smoke, broke it.

It started, as these things often do, with good intentions. My wife, who was pregnant at the time, had just left for lunch with a friend. I decided, being the nice guy that I was, to catch up on some of the laundry while she was away.

I’m not a big NFL fan, but there was a Bruins-Canadians matinee game on Hockey Night in Canada. Between periods, I stacked up two baskets, one on top of the other, and headed down the stairs. Only, I headed down much quicker than I anticipated, as my right foot missed a tread because I couldn’t see over the baskets.

As a result, my body lurched forward and down, but my left leg, for reasons I will never understand, didn’t move  an inch. As a result, the forward momentum combined with the twisting resulted in:

  1. My ankle snapping off of the leg and separating into three pieces.
  2. The side of the ankle popping off.
  3. A spiral fracture running up the length of my shin.
  4. A cracked kneecap.
  5. A graceful landing face-first into the wall.

Then, the second period started.

I found myself upside down in the middle landing of the stairs and in so much pain that it felt like the devil was butting my ass.

After all the swearing stopped, I rather delicately reached down to see if I was bleeding. Luckily not. However, knowing that my wife would likely not be home for a while, I settled in to watch the rest of the game.

Luckily, there was a cat toy on the landing (which I kept squeezing as I went in and out of shock), and the Canadians were rallying from a two goal deficit.

After about an hour, a strange thing occurred. For no rational reason, I felt the desperate need to call for help. I just couldn’t lie there anymore. Just as I was calculating which would be worse, rolling down the remainder of the stairs and crawling to the phone or reversing my course and dragging myself to the upstairs phone, my wife arrived.

911 was called, I was dragged out of the staircase, a rod was pounded down the length of my shin, and my ankle was reassembled and secured with various screws and pins.

The best parts were that the Canadians rallied to beat the Bruins and, after I woke up the next morning, I found that my wife had packed my shaving kit with a razor, a toothbrush with no toothpaste, and a bunch of cat toys.

Every time I have to do laundry now, I pass out for half an hour, piss myself, and can’t remember my name.

Awesome!

Definitions you can use:

Painful:  causing distress or discomfort.

Atomic Drop

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.

Seneca

After all the drugs, the breakdowns, the hospitalizations, the withdrawals, the descents, the beat downs, the endless days of terror, the endless nights of despair, the desperate searches, the sudden losses, the lingering pain, the blind corners, the lost years, I got up today, like everyday, and punched my way through to nightfall.

The other day I was told that I may have had a heart attack.

Fuck you, I say.

Fuck you and the horse you road in on.

They say that you find who your real friends are when shit goes bad.

I say you find who you really are when everything that can be taken from you is taken from you.

When you are driven to your knees, time and again.

Some say you have a choice.

To me, you get the fuck up.

There is no choice about it.

I refuse.

I get up, even when I shouldn’t.

I get up especially when I shouldn’t.

Always get up.

I survive because that’s who I am.

Because I will to be so.

Beacause I defy anyone or anything to stop me.

I always get up.

Heart attack? You’ll have to do a lot better than that.

I am already up, and I am coming for you.

Now, who wants a go?

Definitions you can use:

Persistent: lasting or enduring tenaciously.

 

The Championship Round

“The fact is there is forgiveness for those who seek God. And I believe in the power of redemption”

Rick Perry

“Bullshit.”

Mr. Atomic

I have long since stop believing in redemption, or waiting on anyone or anything to come stop the madness.

I believe there is forgiveness for some. I don’t believe there is forgiveness for all.

Some people want grace.

I want something else.

A steel folding chair.

A pair of knuckle dusters.

A hidden razor blade.

A blackjack up the sleeve.

A nice heavy length of chair.

A weighted baseball bat.

A crooked ref.

A fixed match.

A nod and a wink.

A well timed distraction.

An illegal blow.

A stranglehold.

And a quick three count.

I’ll be damned.

Now, leave me where the fuck I’m at.

Definitions you can use:

Throttle:Attack or kill by strangulation.

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Roadwork

“We do what we need to do to survive.”

Anonymous

The lessons of manhood are still harsh. Take the beating. Never stop. Nothing is “offside.” Punch until the other man is done. Then keep punching. Keep punching until they pull you off. Then punch some more. Then kill every last mother fucker in the place. Anything else is weakness. The strong and the sly kill the weak. Because they can. Because they should. Because, if the don’t, they fall prey to the strong.

Man versus man. Man versus every man.

The mark of manhood was the moment you piteously destroyed your father; you beat him without mercy; cowed him; broke him; crushed him utterly.

Only then were you a man.

As a kid, I loved to fight.  I loved the moment when you felt the other man’s break, when he no longer wanted more, when he was going out and completely at your mercy. I loved that moment. The expectation was that you were to stop. To me, I loved this was the moment to pile on.  It was not enough to win: only terror and extreme punishment was enough. It sent a message to the world. It sent a message that reverberated back inside your mind.

I have the power. No one will take it from me. Not now. Not ever.

Over the years, you learn a few tricks:

  • Always instigate because you will normally only get one or two standing punches in until it becomes a wrestling match.
  • Always instigate because someone jumped up for a fight will loose their spirit if overwhelmed in a hurry.
  • If you want to stop someone quickly, punch them in the throat.
  • If you want to break someone’s jaw, carry a roll of quarters wrapped in duct tape.
  • You can knock someone out just as easily with a body shot as a head shot.
  • No one ever expects an upper cut.
  • Avoid fighting people who are high. If you do have to fight them, punch them in the diaphragm until they cant breathe.
  • People who carry knives like an ice pick are far more dangerous than those who slash.
  • Avoid fighting on concrete. The first time your opponent’s head hits the ground, he is out. When his head bounces again, he  wakes back up.
  • Always leave your opponent the illusion of escape. People who perceive they are cornered fight harder.
  • Don’t lead with your head.
  • If you desperate, elbows can break bones in a hurry.

Does this make me a bad man? You bet your ass it does.

Now, ring the fucking bell.

Definitions you can use:

Merciless: pitiless or cruel; unremitting; without remorse.

 

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Cement Job

“Start off everyday with a smile and get it over with.”

W.C. Fields

My favourite things that I have been hit in the head with:

10) A croquette mallet.

9) A dog.

8) A baseball bat.

7) My brother’s head.

6) The collected works of Shakespeare.

5) A barbell loaded with 100 pounds.

4) A skill saw.

3) A car door.

2) A skid full of aluminum pipes.

And number one: a solid body electric guitar.

And a bonus: a directionally challenged model rocket.

All awesome!

At least, I think they were all awesome…

Definitions you can use:

Concuss: to cause temporary unconsciousness or confusion.

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