Thursday, April 16, 2015


“It says right across your forehead, integrity for sale,” isn’t just a catchy Nickelback lyric. It’s a reflection of our times. It’s also a hard cultural truth we are constantly being forced to face by those who, whether intentionally or not, take the public stage hostage and use it as a platform to show the world just how despicable and stupid a human being can be.

For us Canadians, though, this cultural pain was largely, at least ostensibly,  felt vicariously through our neighbors to the south: Those living large, gun-slinging, fast-food, Walmart Americans with their bizarre, over-the-top celebrity worship and cartoon politics.

But then the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, and his long suffering wife, Renata, came along like a counter-superhero with a cunnilingus-receiving sidekick to ruin the day and obliterate any smugness Canadians might have been harbouring regarding their superior level-headedness and decorum.

He is Rob Ford! The Apologizing Man! His special anti-power is his sincere-insincere apology…sincerely.

Not even a cancer diagnosis can stop this man from apologizing.

It would in fact appear that he never leaves his house without an apology in his right pocket and up until relatively recently a crack pipe in his left. 

And while the call of fate might have forced Rob Ford to put his crack pipe down in order to deal with a physical body that will no longer cooperate with his base desires, nothing will EVER make him give up his Special-Shield-Apology-Badge. Give me apology or give me death! He defiantly keeps it with him at all times for those inevitable occasions when he still needs to publicly apologize.

In the past, he has found this badge of dishonor useful in situations where he has been caught in drunken stupors while jay-walking or getting high in  the midst of plotting the demise of one of his many perceived enemies.

When he’s caught doing or saying something he really should not – which he always gets caught – he whips out his badge with an unsteady hand, staggers to his knees and offers up an apology after the fact, the way a sinner prays for forgiveness while committing his sins. The difference is that unlike the praying hypocrite, Rob, the Apologizing Hypocrite, falls to his knees not out of genuine contrition, but because he is weak in more ways than one and letting empty words drool out of his mouth requires a lot less effort than being accountable.

Basically, this privileged, undisciplined bowling ball of a man has made a deal with the devil – albeit a Looney Tunes Tasmanian one – in which integrity has been exchanged for addiction and all the corruption and soul-erosion that goes hand-in-hand with the kind of self-indulgent substance and food abuse Rob Ford enjoys.

No one can know for sure if Robby Boy, whose denial is so great he refers to himself in the third person because he cannot bear to accept the buffoon that he is in first person, ever had any integrity to begin with. But if he did, he lost it along with the definition of “sincerely”.

He has made so many public apologies using the word “sincerely”, when clearly he is NOT sincere, that one has to wonder if he has dyslexia in addition to his other glaring issues.

It is as if he believes the word “sorry” literally works like a delete key and that its mere utterance completely erases deplorable behavior, as if the behavior never happened in the first place. He has convinced himself of this so thoroughly that he actually becomes self-righteously offended when asked by reporters and others to explain himself.

He has never understood what the problem is. As far as he’s concerned, he might be a man who likes to have a good time outside of his job, but so what! Who doesn’t? And sure, he’s “a little rough around the edges”, but he’s also a man who “calls a spade a spade” and up until his unfortunate liposarcoma diagnosis never missed a day of work.

Rob also likes to point out, all apologizing aside, that he really is a good guy who, for example, NEVER took advantage of the free zoo pass to which he was entitled as a council member and NOT just because he's a baboon fearful of zoos. He is quite proud of all his self-sacrifice, as any self-congratulating baboon would be.

He furthermore thought it was a DISGRACE that other counsellors, who don't even resemble zoo animals, would waste taxpayer dollars by taking advantage of ANY of the varied perks allowed them. Rob Ford, for one, would NEVER rip off the electorate in such a blatantly unfair way.

While other counsellors were living large with free metro passes, for instance, Mayor Ford resigned himself to blasting around in his own gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade using fuel he paid for himself. He furthermore apologized REPEATEDLY for many, many things and continues to do so. What’s the problem? He’s sorry. There is nothing more he can do.

Watching any one of Rob Ford’s apologies, absurd rationalizations and deep affronts to the social order is the funniest thing to ever happen to Canadian news. He will be missed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Watermelon led to my Divorce

Watermelon seeds are responsible for my divorce. I love watermelon. Unfortunately, my former husband, John, did not. He despised anything to do with watermelons, particularly the seeds.

He hated watermelon seeds so much that after a few years of wedded bliss, these seemingly innocuous black ovules caused him to fly into a blind, murderous rage. In a flurry of watermelon induced madness he massacred the last and final watermelon I ever brought into our marriage.

I had never seen this psychotic side of John before, although if anything was going to make him lose it, watermelon seeds would be the thing. The only time I ever saw him get agitated about ANYTHING was when watermelon seeds were involved. The rest of the time, during our marriage anyway, he was pretty much sedate, much like any insentient object – perhaps a watermelon but without the color or finesse.

The first summer of our union that I brought a watermelon home from the market, John was mildly annoyed. He said he was not a watermelon fan and would prefer it if I refrained from buying them.

"Watermelons have NO redeeming qualities," he informed me with disdain.

"They are 95% water and seeds. If you're thirsty, drink a glass of water! There's much less mess that way. Besides, there's nothing appealing about the taste of watermelon. You don't hear people say, 'I'm thirsty; I could really use a drink of watermelon' do you? NO! They want a sports drink or plain water. Watermelon is disgusting and nobody wants to drink it."

"Don't be absurd," I retorted with a laugh. "Watermelons are tasty and refreshing and an excellent source of vitamin C. They also happen to be MY favorite fruit."

And herein was the root of our irreconcilable differences.

"That's fine," John countered, "but I LOATHE watermelon and if you have any respect for me as your husband you won't bring another one of those monstrosities into this house!"


"Yeah, that's right," he snarled. "A fruit shouldn't be that big. It's a stupid size for a fruit. Why can't they make a watermelon the size of a grapefruit? There is no place to put a watermelon because it's so huge! You have to use a whole roll of Saran Wrap to cover it and even that can't keep it from leaking all over the fridge! You need a freaking garbage bag to contain the thing!"

"But...," he sputtered with bits of spittle spewing from his mouth, "do you know what the worst thing about a watermelon is?!"

John had really worked himself up into a lather and there was no stopping him.

"The worst part is the seeds! You find seeds for weeks on the bottoms of your feet and in between your toes! And don't tell me there is any such thing as a 'seedless' watermelon! They should be called the 'not so easy to see' or the ‘not as many seeds as regular watermelon’ melons!"

I had never heard John say so many words at one sitting. His rant, however, did not prevent me from bringing more watermelons into the house. Every watermelon season I continued to purchase the fruit unabated. In turn, John's rage escalated in direct proportion to the growing heap of watermelon rinds I haphazardly tossed in our compost.

The last straw (or final seed) came in the ninth year of marriage. I was in bed reading when I heard a horrible kind of screeching, yowling, stampeding sound. It was like a cat was being ganged up on by a porcupine and a hippopotamus, and one of these creatures was in terrible pain.

It turned out the creature was John. He burst into the bedroom like a wild beast, and thrust a black watermelon seed in my face, "I found SEVEN of these things stuck to my foot and THIS one was INSIDE my big toe!"

Unmoved, I replied, "That's weird – how could it get 'inside' your big toe? Do you mean it was stuck between your toes again?" 

He was heaving and angrily glared at me with flaring nostrils. He was ridiculous. How could anyone not laugh under these circumstances?

"Oh, you think this is FUNNY?!”, he screeched. “That's IT! I'm putting an end to these watermelons once and for all!"

He stormed out of the room as fast as he came in.

Then suddenly, for the first time in our marriage, his watermelon rage did not seem so comical and I felt a twinge of alarm. I got out of bed and ran after him to see what he was going to do and possibly stop him from doing it.

There he was, with the glint of hysteria in his eyes and a butcher knife held up high over his head. 

I screamed "Stop!" and lunged forward, but it was too late. He plunged the knife into the watermelon over and over again, with chunks of red flesh splattering all over the kitchen and all over John.

I tried to wrestle the knife from him, but he'd already massacred that watermelon to an unrecognizable, pulpy abomination of nature. By the time he let go of the knife, he had crumpled to the floor, amidst the watermelon carnage, and proceeded to sob uncontrollably.

Needless to say, that was the end of John and our marriage. The last I heard, he had to be institutionalized during a business trip to China. Apparently he had a mental breakdown while scouting a new venture: The Zhen Institute of Watermelon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Not to be Happy

In the quest for happiness, people can unwittingly kill the very contentment they hope to capture. Theirs is a kind of caged happiness, which is no more genuine than caged freedom. Eventually dejection sets in and a dejected person is an unhappy person.

But is unhappiness really such an undesirable thing? Perhaps there is comfort in misery. There are certainly enough miserable people around to keep the unhappy from feeling they are alone.

For those who are sick and tired of hunting down that elusive happy camper, learning how to be unhappy might be the way to go. The key is to remain locked in a perpetual fog of negativity and hopelessness in four easy steps. Unhappiness will surely follow.

Negative Ruminations

First, be sure to dwell on the negative aspects of any given situation, person or thing, no matter how seemingly positive. This pessimism is easy when the circumstance is overtly tragic like a betrayal, death, financial ruin or injury. However, for true, far-reaching unhappiness, one must also look for the downside in every rainbow, sunset, birthday party, holiday, new relationship, job advancement, financial gain and personal accomplishment. Adopt the mantra that for every good thing in life there is always a downside. Every reward has a punishment and every accomplishment a failure.


Second, complain about the impossibility of your circumstances and do nothing to improve them, even when solutions are presented to you. Argue that you are a victim of the world and there is absolutely zilch that you can do about it. As you complain, frequently use the word "but", particularly when others give you practical advice. Never challenge yourself to act, unless it is in the role of victim.

Since you will already be engaged in negative ruminations, openly complaining should be the natural next step. Grumble about everything and anything — blighted hope, the weather, taxes, the neighbors, the state of the world and physical ailments are all possible subjects.

Shun Gratitude

Third, do not be grateful. This goes hand in hand with pessimism. Gratitude is only for happy fools and you’re no fool. You are too disillusioned to be thankful and you like it that way. Do not appreciate the air you breathe, the good health others less enlightened than you might enjoy, the gifts you are given, the people who claim to love you, or the lucky breaks you endure.

The instant you experience appreciation and say thank you, you run the risk of becoming happy. Rather than have this happen, hold the belief that the world, God/Goddess or whatever owes you and anything you receive is compensation for simply being alive. It is other people and not you who should be grateful for the honor of having you walk the planet.

Ignore the Present

Fourth, never live in the present and always look forward to what is certain to be the bleak future. Remain in a constant state of worry and doubt about the probability of misfortune around the next bend.

Anything positive that might be happening in the moment is not worth appreciating because you know it will not last. Why waste emotional energy on fleeting sources of happiness and future disappointment when you can be unhappy at the current time? Better to conserve endorphins and embrace malcontent today.

Besides, everything comes to an end – all things must die. In fact, the whole purpose of the present is to plan for your inevitable demise. You started dying the day you were conceived. How can you possibly enjoy the present when mortality looms overhead and death is where you're heading?

Finally, by following the above steps with narrow-mindedness and perseverance your unhappiness is virtually guaranteed. Do worry – be unhappy.

You Oughta Know...but you Do Not

Alanis Morissette wrote a song,
It was catchy and I used to sing along.
I was drawn to her lyrical rage,
"You Oughta know" seemed fantastically sage.

But after rewinding the tape 50 times,
Before CDs, DVDs, iTunes and LeAnn Rimes,
The words began to grate on my nerves;
Even though a cheating lover no one deserves.

Whiny with self-pity, embarrassing too,
An obsessed, pathetic, undignified shrew.
A man breaks a promise or falls out of lust?
Move on! Live your life! Shake off the dust!

Be thankful you got out when you did,
No domestic trappings, no debt, no kid.
So shed your bitter cross and clean up the mess,
Leave angry revenge for karma to address.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Lilith did not know Betrayal was a physical assault. She assumed it was an emotion that momentarily devastated the mind, and if you believed in such things, slowly eroded the soul, but had no actual physical manifestation. No bloody nose.

But it isn’t true. 

Betrayal hits all three spheres of mind, body and soul. It attacks every perception, right into the darkest recesses of the subconscious and comes unbidden, physically forcing its way out of every part of you and manifesting in pain.

Physically, mentally and spiritually, it crucifies you.

In retrospect, she supposes she should have known better. Retrospect, however, was of no use to her when Betrayal slammed into her so hard that acid tears spewed from her eye sockets like lava and waves of shock avalanched  down her spine, crushing vertebrae like dominoes and then reaching around to squeeze her heart tight enough to make her believe she would die.

But death at that instance would have been a relief and the assault wasn’t over yet.

Her heart’s agony was ruthlessly ignored even as it pounded, begged and screamed for all its life to get out of its rib-encaged prison.

But Betrayal continued its torment without mercy, bringing Lilith to her knees with such speed and intensity she felt the physical pain of her limbs fracturing into shards of cartilage and bone. There was tissue and cellular debris as Betrayal torpedoed through every atom of her being, sadistically seeking out pain receptors and nerve endings with which to intensive the brutality of its attack.

When it had done its job, leaving her flesh ripped open to reveal the insides of her, Betrayal calmly walked away, like one of nature’s instinct-driven beasts, unperturbed at what it had done and having no awareness whatsoever that it and its actions were an abomination. 

The Beast of Betrayal was thus not moved to compassion by the sights and sounds of Lilith's suffering, but rather was annoyed in an almost off-hand way by the sound of her uncontrollable whimpering, the gnashing of her teeth and the crushing of her dislocated jaw. To the Beast, witnessing the excruciating torture of her body and soul was a mild annoyance, like swiping at a single fruit fly buzzing by.

It didn’t care. No one cared. Lilith lay there, fallen, believing she'd never be able to move her broken bones or dry her oozing wounds on her own, that she would need someone.

But no one came. She lay there for an eternity, hoping death would finally just do its job and put her out of her agony, but discovered even death had deserted her. Left with no other choice, she gathered herself from her fallen position of heaped-up, forgotten kindling and ever so slowly rose back to life like the sparks of a newly created fire.


Say my name, he said,
As if we both didn't know;
Ripped the hair from my head,
And told me this was his show.

But I refused to say his name,
No surrender from me.
He can live with his shame;
I will not beg for mercy.

Prodded, bull-baited,
A body thrown in a pit.
My independence hated,
Kicked, bitten and hit.

But cut off my lips,
Blind my eyes,
Gut me from throat to hips,
Let my entrails bring on the flies.

I will not be his fool,
A puppet of fear.
I'll stand in a bloody pool,
I won’t shed a tear.

He can hurt me with all his might,
But say his name? I'd rather die.
Or emerge from this fight,
My own name a victory cry.

Forever Married to Cruelty

When I see a drop of bright red on a backdrop of white,
When I hear a woman pleading in the middle of the night,
When I feel something sharp or witness something taboo,
When I taste salt or smell garbage that's when I think of you.

If the sun is sucked behind a mountain and the sky left black,
It is you who I think of and wonder if it's imagination I lack.
You are who I think of when a crash makes me cover my ears;
And it's you I imagine when I speak of my darkest fears.

It makes no difference where I run because you're always there;
I could hike to the highest peaks where there's hardly any air.
I could travel to the Arctic or rocket into outer-space,
To the ocean's depths, the Earth's core, I’ll always see your face.

I tried to obliterate you with substances of abuse,
But treating poison with poison is useless and obtuse.
I could find religion, seek therapy or cut my own wrists,
But none of it would stop the recollection of your fists.

Even after your body has been put into the cold Earth,
Your immortal words keep me from ever experiencing my rebirth.
No matter what I do you won’t move out of my head,
And there's no way to kill what’s already dead.

Could you comprehend what this is like for me?
You my tormenter in life, in death still won't set me free?
And so it seems it was fated before I was ever born,
I'd be the never-ending victim of your cruelty and scorn.

Do not Mourn for Me

It's my life and my demise;
Don't presume to speak for me.
This should come as no surprise;
Do not tamper with my mortality.

It's my soul and my salvation;
Don't presume to fear for me.
It is you who suffers indignation;
Do not impose your morality.

It's my wisdom and my belief;
Don't presume to know better than I.
Existence might be brief,
But to live one also must die.

These laws of nature hold no shame;
Don't presume to mourn for me.
For I'll return from whence I came,
Recycled into a new reality.

The March of Time

The time is going fast,
Its relentless ticking never stops.
There's no way to make the moments last,
Or press pause before the other shoe drops.

It doesn't worry who lags behind,
With unfaltering stride, it doesn't look back.
And if something's missed there's no way to rewind,
Stop, teach, learn or keep track.

No one has the power to force time still,
It waits for neither the mediocre nor the great.
It doesn't slow when in trouble things go downhill,
And holds no opinions about religion or fate.

It marches on for those who believe and those who don't,
It gives no medals or applause to the brave,
Is indifferent to people who help and people who won't,
And doesn't take note as the dead are put in their grave.

With acts of cruelty or kindness time is unimpressed,
It's impervious to war's suffering and to peace.
It cares not how far human ingenuity has progressed –
Time is fast, unchangeable and does not cease.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spectacle of Poverty, illusion of Choice

There is choice and there is freewill say the consumers of spectacle, directors of fate: Dirty ecstasy fed by pure misery. 

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. 
In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of 
― Confucius

It's all in good fun: the poverty, the degradation, the addiction, the insanity, the pain, the suffering and the sin punishable by eternal hell. They – the consumers of miserable spectacle and partakers of freewill – drive down the garbage strewn streets of the East Side, as if they are sauntering down the popcorn littered aisles of a movie theatre.

The shows are tragic, satirical, alluring, perverse, deserving of contempt and ridicule. But the choice is up to the spectator: a game and not someone's reality. The unwitting players are game pieces, the consequence of amusement. They dress in spandex and torn denim and have scabbed, ruddy complexions. They need money and compassion, but the spectators deal strictly in Monopoly funds.

The elite audience, the watchers, falsely proposition the indigent and stigmatized and then laugh with windblown freedom in the wake of so much despair. Their carefree Mustang low-profile wheels whiz by the prostitutes and beggars, the psychotic, mentally challenged and the physically disabled. Reckless disregard that comes with dominance paralleled by the oppressive consequences of recklessness. Exquisite madness echoed by laughter.

"Hey Mister, ya need a hand?!"

More laughter.

The veteran amputee wearily looks up in time to see the blur of gel-tipped streaks and tanned, steroid-pumped biceps — one man's lost limb a found treasure of conviviality for those with privilege.

A penny hits a woman in worn-out stilettos like a hard flick. They assume she’s a hooker and dispensable.

Penny for your thoughts? More laughter.

She trips and looks up angrily. Privilege drives by celebrating as usual — a show for them, but for her the painful sting of an unanticipated projectile. But she is as habituated to the stigmata that clings to her as those kids are to their entitlement, so she carries on, limping down the street. What else can she do?

The woman passes George who caresses his brown paper bag, alcohol-stained along the edges. He doesn't care about anything and he too is accustomed to the stigmata of his skin. But he doesn't like to think about it and stumbles along in drunken oblivion. He vaguely hears the celebration – the hoots and hollering of the "rebellious" young people who mistake conformity to the status quo for rebellion. George lets out a half-hearted, slurred "yahoo" in response. He still recalls, like a nagging at the darkest recesses of his mind, when life was fun.

He has financial restitution tucked into his boot from the government man and lawyer guy. He doesn't remember their names, but he recalls the memories they lured out of the deep crevices of his pillaged mind and quickly shakes his head. He clutches his paper bag and takes a big chug. This is why his cash is almost gone – he spends it chasing those unwanted recollections with whisky as if it’s his choice, as if he has any control over his tremulous hands or the relentless voice in his head demanding he drink.

He worries during rare lucid moments of what will happen when the blood money runs out. He knows as well as anyone that money is finite, but memories are until death do you part. Without the booze, those once repressed memories will no longer be biting at his heels – they’ll be eating him alive and wolfing him down in agonizing chunks.

Money might buy his poison and a bed for the night, but it doesn't buy away the priests with their molesting hands or the nuns with their generous whips. He hears his great grandmother's language from the grave, and they tell him he’s schizophrenic. He doesn't understand his choices, but he is told he has some.

Sherry isn't even 16 yet and she doesn't understand her choices, either. She robotically injects another nearly collapsed vein. Her mother died yesterday — just another overdosed junkie. "Deado-Stinko," as Sherry’s barfly stepfather, her "groomer", would say.

Sherry will miss her mother – she taught her daughter every trick she knew.

Too bad for Sherry, the one trick her mother never knew and never taught her was the biggest trick of all, the only trick that saves anyone: free will, free choice.