Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category


At the filling station

1 August 2010

Does anyone, other than Jack Nicholson’s character in Little Shop of Horrors, actually like going to the dentist? These days, however, what with the wonders of anesthesia (which my dentist insists on calling “freezing”) my worries about pain have less to do with a high-speed drill hitting a nerve and more with things that dentists seem unaware of.

Maybe it’s my height, but after twenty minutes in a fancy-schmancy dentist’s chair my back is crying for mercy. Shouldn’t this high-priced hunk of furniture be as comfy as a La-Z-Boy? And when one’s mouth is full of plumbing, pointy metal picks and power tools, it seems ill-advised to squirm about in search of spinal relief.

Then there are the parts of my face that the dentist ignores at my peril. I understand his focus on the task and the teeth at hand. But must he brace that hand against my lip, painfully pinching it against the sharp edge of my teeth? I’m sensitive, dammit. In my most recent visit, mouth full of apparatus, I was at odds to explain that he had somehow folded my ear forward on itself and could he please stop doing that.

As a prodigious producer of saliva, one of my greatest fears in the dentist’s office is that of drowning. If the dental assistant isn’t paying attention, the pool at the back of my throat deepens until only desperate sounds of strangulation awaken her to my plight. That suction hose was custom designed for spit, so put it to use!

My current dentist provides sunglasses. Maybe they are to guard against shrapnel, the friendly fire of bone or old fillings fragments, hurled into the air by whatever reno work he’s doing in there. More likely is the shades are simply to cut the intensity of that powerful searchlight of his. In any case, with my head tipped back, my glasses quickly slipped upwards onto my forehead, and for half an hour neither the dentist nor his assistant seemed to notice. And that blasted light was pointing as much into my eyes as my mouth; my conspicuous squint should have been a clue.

Oh, well, I tend to close my eyes anyway. After all, what is there to look at? Long ago I thought if I ever become a dentist I will have my ceiling decorated to give patients something to view. A mural. Puzzles. A racy novel in large print.

So you dentists out there, try thinking outside the jaws. Recognize the need for more comprehensive comfort. Make it special enough and maybe I’ll require less “freezing” when I see what I’m being charged for my visit.


What weren’t you thinking?

29 November 2009

I’m pretty sure most people who know me consider me, on the whole, intelligent. That hasn’t stopped me from doing stupid things. In fact, I’ve spent decades trying to lessen the number of dumb things I do. Many of these things occur simply because I wasn’t thinking. Smart people are supposed to think, right?

It’s another thing when smart people do stupid things in spite of thinking.

Like smoking.

I can understand how tough it must be for those who started smoking in the forties or fifties, how the difficulty of kicking the nasty, old habit means they still smoke.

But with every decade passing since then, it becomes harder and harder to justify taking up tobacco. Anyone who starts smoking in 2009 either hasn’t been paying attention or is mind-boggingly stupid. Or is desperate to be accepted by mind-boggingly stupid associates. Helloooo, peer pressure.

Or they just don’t care. Bad breath, smelly clothes, pointless expense, stinking up the air, endangering the health of others, and an exponential increase in the chance for heart disease, lung disease, cancer and premature death. But the attitude with kids seems to be, “Yeah, whatever.” It’s that old “I’m immortal” feeling of youth.

Most of my friends are intelligent people. Noticeably above average, even. So when I see any of them smoke I don’t get it. Is the gentle, relaxing buzz that smoking (reputedly) provides really so great, so necessary that it’s worth ignoring the overwhelming and conclusive evidence that tobacco is a bad thing?

A friend of mine used to scoff at the science. He died with emphysema and is terribly missed.

I admit to doing stupid things, but come on, avoiding some stuff is just obvious. Smoking should be (forgive the expression) dying out far more rapidly than it is. Don’t even get me started on such things as cocaine, street racing or Fox News.

Recently I got a sweet and unexpected bonus. As far as I can tell, nobody in the entire, wonderful cast of my current stage show (My Fair Lady, now playing at Western Canada Theatre, Kamloops BC) has the nicotine habit. You don’t have to be a genius to love that.


Adventurers Club Poetry by Fletcher Hodges

20 June 2009


I keep meaning to post one well-considered essay or another on a topic of some depth—The Devil in a Atheistic World; Pervasive Tastelessness; Facebook Bacon—but my muse has been beaten up yet again by that schoolyard bully procrastination.

Instead, I offer a handful of poems I composed in the Adventurers Club character of Fletcher Hodges about himself and other club denizens. I enjoyed doing these, and one should hold more firmly to the good memories than the rest, yes? Hey, there’s another blog topic. For some other time.


Which is richer? Bunch of butchers,

Lots of lechers, or a kvetcher?


Clutch of creatures and a touch of teacher—

Such is Fletcher

Otis T. Wren’s Limerick

If you’re searching a detailed anthology

For achievements in great ichthyology

You’ll find Otis Wren

Mentioned time and again

And with footnotes of heartfelt apology

Our Club President

Can someone make your blood congeal? Ya

Think your skin’s about to peel? Ya

Worry ‘bout your geneteelia?

Betcha you have met Pamelia!

A Dissertation on the Eponymous Aspects of the 1937 Adventurer of the Year

A person with a common name’ll

Seldom have the name of Emil

•Samantha’s Salute

Ev‘rybody’s flag’s unfurling

In salute to Samantha Sterling

Like a dervish madly twirling

Like a hurricane a-whirling

Like a malted milkshake swirling

Setting all your hair a-curling

Till you’re heaving and you’re hurling.

More than knitting, more than purling

More than boying, more than girling

More exciting than a panther—

Sterling! Or first name, Samanther.

•Anthem of Tuneful Delights

Oh say can you see

It’s Fingers Zambee-

-zie, the spirit who lives in the organ!

Oh see can you say

He’s going to play

A musical smorgasborgan!

•Our Butler



Many duties



Our patooties

•Our Maid

With feathers stuck

Upon a stick

Our maid she does her dusting,

And how she cussed

That dratted dust

When breezes blew a-gusting.

“My job went just

From bad to wust!”

She says, her duster thrusting,

And members must

Conceal their lust

While she’s dust-bunnies busting.

•The Epic Poem of Handsome Hathaway Browne

Of all death-defying and brave aviators,

The truest is Hathaway Browne.

He may be out flying to volcanic craters

Or dancing and painting the town.

He’s up for the chase—find a woman and date her

If she is in rags or a crown.

They will go to a place like the Palace The-ay-ter

Or fly through the air upside-down.

He’ll fight a gorilla or wrestle with gators

Or put on an evening gown

And then eat his filla of burgers and taters

Or champagne and filet mignown.

So if you would know of a real aviator,

A hero of fame and renown,

Don’t look here below at a mere roller-skater,

The cook in the kitchen, or even the waiter,

The bartender, manager, doorman or Maitre

D’, or to the patriot or to the traitor,

The bureaucrat, clerk, or the administrator,

A lowly submissive or a dominator,

A slave owner or the Great Emancipator,

Your brother or sister or mater or pater—

Put all of them down in your calendar later—

For each in comparison is a spectator

To he who doth soar like a wing’d gladiator

With passions as hot as a steam radiator

And loaded with love like a big ol’ pink freighter.

Could anyone do what he does any greater

Than what’s-his-name?

Hathaway Browne!

•A Plea to Guests on the Mezzanine

Oh, people on the mezzanine

We fear that you don’t love us

Please come downstairs and don’t be mean

Don’t act like you’re above us

If you come down we’ll share a cup

If not, what I confess is

We’ll have no choice but just look up

Your noses and your dresses

And one more poem, written by ladies’ man Hathaway Browne:

St. Valentine’s Day Invitation

Oh, won’t you be my Valentine

The 14th of February?

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine

And thou, à la Missionary.


Stop fighting me! (Happy New Year)

31 December 2008



In the movie Bedazzled (the demented Peter Cook/Dudley Moore original, not the disappointing Brendan Fraser remake) the devil is portrayed as one who spends less time causing wars, plagues, and disasters than simple aggravations. He puts scratches in record albums (remember those?) and causes a pigeon to poop on a clergyman, resulting in a blasphemy. 

This concept seems to me a remarkably true one. Day-to-day annoyances are more than enough with which to do battle. I am often heard to cry, “Stop fighting me!”

A sock that insolently falls behind the dryer. A key that requires interminable fidgeting. A garden hose that refuses to relinquish its kink. A drawer that somehow entangles its contents so that the one item you need brings unwanted friends along. All the trash that when tossed at a wastebasket bounces off the rim and onto the floor.  A zipper or a button or a snap that simply will not close, dammit. Plastic wrap! Stop fighting me!!

The world becomes an obstacle. One’s mood sours, which leads to snapping at others which leads to hurt feelings as well as guilt and shame, and on downward we go until we’re doing the devil’s work for him.

It’s almost a relief to have governments, banks and overpaid executives to blame for things. Most people I know have said that 2008 was a bad year. For me, it wasn’t a catastrophe but it certainly was not much fun.

I’ve noticed something interesting as we approach 2009. Experts predict a difficult year ahead, but the general public seems surprisingly optimistic. I believe this is for two reasons. First, Obama. More than just a man anymore, he is a symbol of hope for many of us. Good luck, Barack. You’ll need it.

Second, because ’08 was unpleasant or worse, there is a compelling need for it to be over. It may be wishful thinking that the change of a digit will also mean the change of our fortunes, especially since New Year’s is such an arbitrary date anyway. Still, people see the change of the calendar as a new beginning that could finally bring blessed relief.

Despite the odds, I truly wish us all well. 



Present Imperfect

21 December 2008


watchyerlanguageTime was, if you heard some news or a suggestion you liked, you might respond, “Good.” What with language being a casualty of inflation, what once was a thoroughly appropriate word was often supplanted by “Great!” Lately I’ve been hearing a ridiculous overuse of “Perfect.”

Really? Perfect? I doubt it. Unable to be improved upon? Unlikely.

I lament how the meanings of words become diluted. One such victim is “awesome.” The next time you hear someone use the word, consider if what they are referring to actually might fill anyone with awe.

I cringe at word misuse. “Unique” does not simply mean unusual, but rather “one of a kind.” One, only one! Something cannot be “very unique.” It might be mighty rare, or quite uncommon, or even “nearly unique,” but once it is unique, that’s it. Otherwise, it’s like saying that the light switch was turned “very off.” Or that something is “very perfect.” Can’t be.

Absurd abbreviations, in a deluded attempt to be hip, are another matter. Is anyone actually so hopeless as to follow an advertiser’s campaign and say “SoCo” instead of “Southern Comfort?” A local TV channel, in their onscreen graphic promoting upcoming programming, has inexplicably replaced the word “Tonight” with “Ton.” How does that help? And recently I heard that, in place of the aforementioned “perfect,” someone actually uttered, “Perf!”

Weakening words and their meanings results in our being less able to say precisely what we intend. Because both god and the devil are in the details, I decry the pervasive, lazy sloppiness that cuts our vocabulary off at the knees. Like littering, the discarding of clarity demonstrates humanity’s appalling apathy.

Alas, I realize it will only get worse. There’s no stopping the dumbing down of language. Hey, everyone’s doing it. Because after all, no one’s perf.


Ontari-ari-ari-o, look!

20 October 2008

In honour of Fall, I am falling behind again on blogging. What else is new?

Two weeks ago I treated myself (for my birthday) and Katharine (for my birthday) to an overnight trip out of the city and into Ontario’s scenic countryside. Driving about three hours north of Toronto, we were greeted by ever more colourful signs of autumn. I can recommend Route 118 between Rtes. 11 and 35! Even the off-and-on rain wasn’t enough to keep the beauty from shining through.

Our weather luck improved, and by the time we visited Haliburton Skyline Park, the sun was putting in more of an appearance, illuminating the leaves in a variety of stunning hues.

Then to our charming, not-a-chain-or-brand-name motel.

A short walk took us to bewitchingly tranquil Twelve Mile Lake for a brief visit before the rain returned.

After dinner and sundown, the clouds remained—thick, low and dark. So I was unable to enjoy starry skies and once again missed the Milky Way, which I have really seen only once since I was in college. (We have yet to see a moose, either, so future trips to the country are required!)

The following day brought clear skies and magnificent views, as we crossed from the Haliburton Highlands into the Muskokas and to the Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower, the high point of my birthday (rimshot).

On the way home, we stopped for a second time at Weber’s Hamburgers (a tradition! a must! we were told—and now I’m telling you). And back to the commonplace reality of day-to-day existence, plus one year of deterioration. And since then the somewhat subdued yet ever so welcome colours have reached the trees of Toronto. I love autumn.


Sub-Basement 3 continued

11 October 2008

Door host (Chet?) who played Marcel, and "guest" Miroslav Grabornik

I’ve just added over three dozen more photos from my Adventurers Club archives to including a few from the last night of original cast members Paula Pell, who played Pamelia Perkins, and Kerry Long as Millie the Maid.  

I had that evening off and, with management’s shrugging approval, visited the Club as an original character from Eastern Europe (Latvia or Lithuania or Estonia or some other -ia) named Miroslav Grabornik, who through the course of the evening fell in love with Pamelia.

At the end of Millie’s Sing-Along, I got up on the Library stage and proposed marriage in broken English, to which Pamelia exclaimed, “This is so sudden! I had no idea!” And then she whipped out a bridal veil from behind Fingers and stuck it on her head.

Pamelia asked Millie to be her personal maid, and Millie said okay, as long as she could bring along an old friend. At that point Marcel appeared. He had not been present at the Club for some time, if I recall correctly, but one of the door hosts who had played him previously—and whose name I shamefully admit to have forgotten (Chet?)—re-enacted the role.

We all exited through the Main Salon, up the stairs, and out onto the porch. Marcel and I gave piggyback rides to Millie and Pamelia, and down the street we went, all the way around Mannequins to disappear into the night. I missed Paula, Kerry and Marcel for the rest of my term at the Club.

Probably got a hundred more various pics still to be scanned and edited and uploaded. Don’t hold your breath.