Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!

Montreal in Winter / Oil on canvas / SOLD

I wish you all a restful New Year. Slow down. You move too fast. Peace.

This column, published several years ago, is satirical. Do not take that which I say literally. That would not be right. :)

Stop Everything!

It must be January. I know this because in the last week we’ve had ten feet of snow, wild winds with frigid cold, freezing rain, ice pellets and now gentle warm showers. With this kind of excitement in the Gatineau Hills who wants to move to Florida? But the real reason I know it is January is because out on the highways the Chelsean Jogger Beetles are cluttering up the landscape in brightly coloured fleece and spandex. This actually is not much different than at any other time of the year for Chelsea, however, added to the mix, every January are the “others”.

They are the New Year’s Resolution Beetles and they are a far different breed altogether. Usually they are not wearing spandex since they don’t fit (just yet… but soon…) into brightly-coloured plastic organic imitation sell-the-house-and-children-to-afford-them-name-brand clothes… These strangely interesting individuals (dressed in all sorts of odd mismatched things such as fur-lined muu-muus) are indeed one of the main tourist attractions here in the Hills in winter; huffing and puffing their merry way down the roads. It is said they rival if not outright outdo splendidly the clouds put out by the Wakefield Steam train in summer. A relatively enthusiastic group, they are often accompanied by disgruntled dogs and miserable spouses but for the most part they all tend to disappear by February. Booking your bus tour sightings of these strange creatures must be done by November if you have any hope of spotting a few before they retire to the fire with a box of chocolates.

Now all of this is a natural phenomenon much like the clustering of monarch butterflies in South America. Heaven help us all if the New Year’s Resolutions groups actually all achieved their objectives because it would be unnatural. In fact, the entire western world’s economy would grind to a horrible halt and we would be completely lost, forced to live by our wits, stone weaponry and a dusty copy of Martha Stewart Living magazine. We might even all-die-horribly. Again.

We are consumers in a consumerist world and as I have explained in previous columns, ours is never to question why, ours is just to buy and buy. Here is the truth: the only thing that keeps the entire western world’s economy on the straight and narrow is licorice-flavoured jumbo jellies. Well… that and cigarettes, alcohol, lottery tickets, chocolate, high-fructose corn syrup, caffeine and full-fat cheddar aged at the bottom of the Saint-Laurence for seventeen years. Without these things available to buy we wouldn’t buy a damn thing and the world would fall apart.

The only way we know how to even use a credit card is because we have bad habits. We buy everything based on what it costs against our bad habits. We know for example that the latest I-Pod costs about as much as half a pack of cigarettes (without matches) or the black silk jacket is pretty much equal to ten cases of Bristol Crème or that a foot massager on special at Wal-Mart is equal to 14 jars of Planters Chocolate Covered Almonds. And so, knowing these things, we are confident consumers feeding the economy fully aware of how we are one day going to quit all these bad habits in the New Year and that will cover off the cost of those 23 pairs of multi-striped toe-socks we bought last week. And furthermore, if we all give up licorice-flavoured jumbo jellies, in just six months we could take a trip to Paris. In fact, bad habits are the only thing that gives us any hope whatsoever for the future and keep us spending because maybe we’ll just take that trip to Paris anyway because it “only” costs as much as six months worth of licorice-flavoured jumbo jellies. This is as it should be.

Now I don’t know why but over the years many people have foolishly questioned me on my irrefutable conclusion so I just ignore them because I spent at least seven minutes on Google researching this and without a doubt I’m right and there is no point in arguing. Now go out and eat some chocolate before we all-die-horribly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why I Hate Stuart McLean

The Storm / S. Shawcross / Oil on canvas / 20 x 26 / SOLD

This week's video: Oh the sights and sounds of Christmas!

The Louis Stories: are contained in my July post ---->

This week's essay: Two for the price of one! A bitter story of unrequited turkey. A true story yet to be really written as it happened that fateful night. Stuart McLean, Canada's quintessential humour writer, has read this and knows it would be published so not to worry--the man is a true gentleman. The story revolves around the CBC radio offering a turkey dinner to be delivered by Stuart McLean for the funniest Christmas story about a turkey. The guy who won the turkey dinner has not read this however. I suspect he'll be a good sport about it though. Afterall he did send me a copy of the anecdote that won the contest and the picture included here. This early post is my last post until the New Year. Have yourself a merry little holiday everyone.

Why I Hate Stuart McLean

Stuart McLean owes me a turkey dinner.


Not that he is a bastard. I imagine he is a nice enough fellow. In fact he’s probably (oh… alright… he “is”) delightful and engaging and certainly loved by hundreds of thousands of people who read his books and listen to him on the radio or read his columns all across Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. He makes people laugh and wherever he goes to do a reading the halls are packed to the gunnels with adoring fans and you can hear the swell of rising laughter all the way down the streets. He is well loved certainly. But even still I hate him.

Stuart McLean owes me a turkey dinner, which I will never get. And for that simple reason I hate him. And I hate him even more for not knowing that he owes me a turkey dinner.

See this! Look at this picture… See Stuart McLean eating ham to be followed by the turkey dinner that “I” should have had. See the happy face on the man who stole my dinner with Stuart McLean!

Oh I know this was a long time ago. I know that people will say that “technically” Stuart McLean doesn’t owe me any turkey dinner. Of course the people who say that have no insight into anything. They aren’t the ones that spent the better part of four years struggling to write humour columns every single week for the local rag at the time. EVERY SINGLE WEEK at the time for FOUR YEARS! They aren’t the ones who had to be funny EVERY SINGLE WEEK for FOUR YEARS! More importantly, they aren’t the ones that bought the turkey-that-ended-up-in-a-wheelbarrow-that-crossed-the-road. They aren’t the ones that elaborately stuffed the turkey-that-ended-up-in-a-wheelbarrow-that-crossed-the-road. Or lovingly basted it every half hour for the better part of the whole darn day! Well... at least until the stove stopped working. No, they aren’t the ones that hosted the party with the turkey-that-ended-up-in-a-wheelbarrow-that-crossed-the-road to the neighbour’s house because their stove stopped working. They aren’t the ones that get a phone call in the middle of a winter day to say that someone on the radio just won a turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean and “was that YOUR turkey he was talking about?”

Yes. It. Was. My. Turkey.

They weren’t the ones that were interviewed by the local press and asked if it was MY turkey dinner on the radio with that funny story that won the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. They weren’t the ones that had to make up some quick spur of the moment benevolent response that showed what a good sport I was when in fact all I wanted to do was murder someone with a pair of garden shears. Anyone would have done at the time. Yet the only one that got killed that day was I. The irony killed me. It did. I’m writing now from the Great Beyond.

It’s not so hard writing from the Great Beyond. Nobody expects you to be funny. What could possibly be funny in the Great Beyond anyway? It’s the Great Beyond after all. I mean who wants to be here when they could be tap-dancing in a pub in Puerto Vallarta or putting pennies on a railway track waiting for the Wakefield Steam Train to go by? Nobody. That’s who.

Oh I know this happened a long time ago and nobody really cares (then or now) but I do feel compelled to explain to someone why I had to do myself in (ironically speaking). I did myself in because… well… It pains me to say this but--I didn’t even get invited by the ManWhoWon the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean TO the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. That was just adding insult to injury of course… to exaggerate the ironical misery.

So what if ManWhoWon the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean moved away a long time ago… I don’t know why on earth after all this time he decided to enter a story about MY TURKEY in the wheelbarrow without even a ghost of a whisper of a phone call to me just as a heads up about how he won the contest (with his what? Five-sentence-long-spur-of-the-moment-unedited-agonizingly-short-anecdote-because-of-course-he-isn’t-a-writer) and then didn’t even invite me to the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean.

That’s not true. I know why of course. Because the Universe hates me. That’s why.

You see the Universe, being what it is, is actually passive aggressive. And because it hates me, it lies in wait. It waits for me to spend a good deal of effort on something and then, just when I think I’m doing okay writing my miserable little humour column in this tiny little town in Quebec in complete obscurity, it rushes in with Irony and Spite. The ManWhoWon the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean had no idea the Universe was using him to spite me. I haven’t the heart to tell him. Even after he sent that lovely picture of himself and Stuart McLean enjoying the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. There is no point of course in confusing the poor ManWhoWon the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. He is, after all, in the real world and not in the Great Beyond like I am so he hasn’t got the opportunities I have to understand the Universe.

The Universe and I you see, are now good friends…. Well… nodding acquaintances. The truth is I can’t ever be friends with the Universe because of what the Universe did to spite me with the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean.

Oh I’m not the least bit bitter about it all. This is because I live a non-corporeal existence in the Great Beyond. But sadly because of my unfortunate demise I’ll never get that turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. Bastard! Not that he isn’t a nice enough fellow or anything… Anyway, I’d have preferred being taken out for turkey dinner anyway. (Who wants to do the dishes after a turkey dinner? I mean even if Stuart McLean is doing the drying with a dishtowel part?) That’s what I would have held out for. If I were still here. Which I am not.

Why I Hate the Man-Who-Won the Turkey-Dinner-Delivered-By-Stuart-McLean

Now I hate to go on and on about the turkey dinner I feel I am owed by Stuart McLean but I’m living here in the Great Beyond with very little else to do after having metaphorically killed myself off due to the utter irony of being a struggling humour writer who had her turkey dinner stolen by the ManWhoWon the Turkey-Dinner-Delivered-By-Stuart-McLean. The ManWhoWon the radio contest did so for writing an anecdote based on an event involving a turkey that I personally bought, plucked, stuffed and put in tinfoil in order for it to cross the road in the first place. As a matter of fact, not that anybody cares as far as I can tell, I was saving all this as a story to one day write “all within the fullness of time” of course. Now, seeing as how I’ve gone and done myself in, I have to go on and on about it on account of this restless spirit with unresolved corporeal issues thing. Sigh.

It’s not like it was “my” story. Yes, I did host the party wherein which the turkey actually crossed the road in the wheelbarrow. Yes, there were many people at the dinner party who remember with fondness and even participated in the event. In fact as I recollect there were at least five people out there trying to get that wheelbarrow with the turkey through the snow banks and across the highway while chasing away the neighbourhood dogs and preserving at all costs the stuffing I’d so carefully stuffed. (It had chestnuts in it for godssakes!) I know any one of the people at the party could have entered that Christmas contest and won a turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean with the very same story.

So I’m told.

So I hated Stuart McLean there for a while for not realizing he owed me a turkey dinner. These things don’t last. There are many who would say I’m just a bitter disgruntled writer who failed to listen to the CBC radio when they announced the contest to win a turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. Well, to those I’d have to say, “of course I am that bitter disgruntled writer.”

Mind you I’m living in the Great Beyond now so technically speaking I’m not that very same person, You see… I believe I’m actually quite different now. I’m “ethereal” and quite above the fray of envy and misery. So I just want people to know that I no longer hate Stuart McLean for the nasty trick that was played on me by the Universe, which hates me. I never hated Stuart McLean. I was just projecting. Who in their right mind could hate Stuart McLean? The man’s a living legend one step away from Sainthood and/or an Order of Canada. He probably has that by now. I would hope so. It wouldn’t be fitting if he didn’t.

Yes, it’s true I am a long-suffering humour writer who idolizes Stuart McLean so I don’t hate Stuart McLean. I hate the ManWhoWon the Turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean.

The point is, anyone, I mean ANYONE who has a friend who is a writer KNOWS that all humour situations belong to the humour writer in the group. Any idiot knows that. I’m not saying the ManWhoWon couldn’t just tell the story in the company of good friends and acquaintances. That’d be fine. But to flout my turkey-story-that-I-was-going-to-write-one-day “on the radio” NOT just for any old turkey BUT for a turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean; it’s not right. It’s just not right.

For that reason I done myself in… Metaphorically… Because of the irony and all… It had to be.

It may be too late now but lets just get one thing straight here. I would have won. My story about the turkey-that-crossed-the-road would have been Pulitzer material. I could have won the Order of Canada after the first sentence. I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody. And the whole thing--the whole fame and fortune and forever-after-happily would have been mine had it not been ruined by the ManWhoWon the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean. And he won with one stupid anecdote that did absolutely no justice to the hysterically brilliant story that it was. “That”, of all the drivel that can be written, wins the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean! And without one adjective in the entire anecdote! How can you write something without adjectives for godssakes! That’s like writing without verbs! He didn’t even mention the treacherous icy hill and the leaping cantankerous cat! Really! Pure slapstick at its finest! Not a mention. Bastard. I could just wrap up the ManWhoWon in tinfoil and deliver him across the road!

But I am being unkind again. I’m ethereal now and all ghostly and spiritual and no stones or sticks can break my bones anymore. I confess: the truth of the matter is the ManWhoWon is not a bastard. I lost my chance to win the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean because I was not paying attention. Writers who do not pay attention to CBC radio do not deserve to live in this country and since I didn’t have an updated passport I had no other alternative but to do away with myself (metaphorically speaking). So now that’s all over and done with I feel I’ve grown much wiser. Suffice to say, I don’t need Stuart McLean to buy me a turkey dinner.

I want the ManWhoWon the turkey-dinner-delivered-by-Stuart-McLean to buy me a turkey dinner. That’s what I want. And I’ll bring the tinfoil.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Familiar Face

Going Home / Oil on canvas board / 20 x 24 / S. Shawcross / $300

This weeks feature video: Sometimes we just gotta sing and dance eh?

The Louis Saga: Bidding on the 1,500 word essay "Tell Me about the Rabbit George." Signed, hand-bound limited edition of 1 is now closed. Winning Bid: $107.22 G.R. Chelsea Monday, December 2, 2011. I'd sincerely like to thank everyone who bid on this story. It gives this writer much encouragement. Thank you all. To follow the initial story see my July post on the right ----------->

This week's column was published in the West Quebec Post March 2011.

A Familiar Face

Now when you get old--when people mumble instead of speaking clearly and keys always misplace themselves and there’s nothing in the world you haven’t already seen or heard, when this time comes people can go one of two ways. They can dance on arthritic toes in the morning sun in celebration of life or they can curl up into a acrid ball of cranky intolerance grouching their way through the bitterness of yet another day on this seemingly never ending plain of existence.

I am looking forward to (or maybe I already am) becoming this second type.

This is because if the truth be known, they are the only ones who actually have any fun and it is quite possibly the only time they can have such fun because when they were children they did as they were told and when they were working adults they continued to do as they were told. But when they retire and then they get old, all that goes by the wayside and they become that which they were meant to be all along.

The problem with this whole thing is that not many people can accept the new you. Where once you used to say, “you’re making the perfect decision for you,” now you say “are you out of your ever lovin’ little mind?” Where once you would smile kindly at store clerks, now you glower and complain about sticker prices and the quality of the avocados. Where once you turned the stereo up to feel the furor and passion of heavy metal music tinkering at your bones, now you demand a certain peace so you might actually think and dream and remember. Where once you watched TV with detached amusement, now you just rage and scream at it because the whole thing is full of blithering infantile idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about. Where once you relished a familiar face, now everyone reminds you of someone else and so you’ve met them all somewhere along the line and don’t care to meet any more.

And because not many people can accept the new you, more often than not you are surrounded by those who apologize for you because they are still young and still do what society tells them to do. “I’m sorry Great Aunt Matilda brought the room’s attention to the size of your nose. She’s a little senile and didn’t mean it at all,” they say with a red-faced stutter. “It’s his medication,” they say to the angry waiter at the restaurant. “She’s been like this since her parakeet died,” they say hoping for some sympathy.

Oh my. Oh my. It sounds quite dreadful doesn’t it?

Not at all! There’s nothing better than a tirade on a gloomy grouchy day when all the world is young and you are old. There’s nothing more satisfying than misery that doesn’t like company but seeks it just the same. Oh the joy! Oh the knobby-kneed muckabouts of another bitter day on this small little planet of foolishness. Oh what fun it is! And by all your shenanigans you have assured yourself enough attention into your old age to know you are indeed to be remembered. That was the whole point of it all anyway now wasn’t it!