Friday, February 24, 2012

The Rat Tales of Polly and Ester

d'apres Langeder / Oil on Canvas / SOLD

Oh what fun the aging process is! Here's what I mean in video form:

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2011.

The Rat Tales of Polly and Ester

My Dear Dr. Shafik

I am delighted to be finally writing this letter because it has been a long time coming. I should certainly have written this many years ago to thank you profusely for your inspiration towards my life goal. Until your research came along I was pretty much like everyone else in the world living oblivious to the pain and suffering of scientists. Who knew that they were so deeply disturbed? Because of your research I found myself establishing the Society for the Rehabilitation of Misguided Scientists. This has become my lifelong passion now and until all scientists have taken up needlepoint for the betterment of themselves (and vicariously humanity) I will not rest!

You may be wondering exactly how you inspired me to such lofty goals? When I heard about the conclusion of your research which stated unequivocally that wearing polyester underwear caused both sexual infertility and poor libidos a light went on in my brain. How, I wondered, was a conclusion such as this actually, well… concluded? How did a scientist such as you come to know such lofty things?

So I looked it up. Now back in 1993 that wasn’t exactly an easy proposition. I had to take myself physically to a large institution called a library. People today rushing about on the Internet wouldn’t know about such things nor the grief and suffering I myself went through in my pursuit of the truth such as it was. I had to go through the card catalogue. It wasn’t easy. I had to talk to a person called a librarian (a daunting proposition to say the least) who sent me down into the bowels of the Library to find evidence of the research you conducted.

There, in the dark shadows of a musty corner I read your abstract where you state: “It struck me the other day that certain textiles used by the present-day industry to manufacture underwear could be generating electrostatic potentials on the surface of the human scrotum and induce harmful effects, if not infertility.” You then went on, as if it were perfectly normal, to explain how you dressed up little rats in wee little cotton, wool and polyester underwear. You even included a picture. The little rats wore their little underwear for six months continuously.

Who did you hire, I wondered, to make the little underwear? How did you explain to the seamstress what you were doing? Did she/he come in with a little measuring tape? Did you have little suspenders made in order to keep them on? Did you spend much time picking the colors? The weave? After the fitting and dressing did you take pictures? Did you put them in an album on your coffee table for your guests to peruse? “There’s Harry. He’s wearing plaid,” you’d say. “And Polly, she’s wearing pink polyester.” Did you smile fondly to yourself even as your guests were horrified?

And as if this wasn’t enough, you then went on to study the sexual activity of said rats. You counted the number of times each type of rat completed the… well, shall we say, “the act.” You did this for a few months.

There in the bowels of the Library I thought about you… this poor poor man sitting in front of a cage of rats counting the number of times rats mounted each other successfully. (Apparently if it was unsuccessful it didn’t count) I thought about the tidy little pile of cotton and wool and polyester underwear sitting by the cage. What a deeply sad and unhappy life, I thought! How could we have all missed seeing how much help you needed? How could we have let you go on to dress dogs in polyester underwear? Was there no one who could see your pain?

Well… I did. And so I founded my charitable society. There is now help for grown men such as yourself who find themselves dressing little rats in little underwear and/or similar things. And so for this I would like to thank you.

Sincerely yours, S. Shawcross.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Generation Text: Facing the Future

Passages / Oil on Canvas /24 x 30 /SOLD

Here's a fun video billed as the ultimate song about loneliness, love and loss:

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2012.
Generation Text: Facing the Future

Oh I love big cities! The noise! And the crowds! The crowds! That stormy sea of faces cluttering up the sidewalks. No wait… That was before. It’s different now. We don’t see faces anymore.

I know this because I have a friend who just returned from New York City and I told her my most favourite thing to do in a big city was to find a nice cafĂ© somewhere and drink coffee while watching the faces of the people go by. But she said she didn’t see a single face. In fact the only faces she saw were those of the street people who still use their faces. The rest of the people were on their blackberry/phone/I-pad blitherbloos, racing along the sidewalks with their heads buried in technology, texting away, smashing into lamp posts and getting run over by cars being driven by people also texting with their faces in their laps. All she saw, says she, was the top of people’s heads as they went by.

The times have shifted. So much for Generation X: now it’s Generation Text.

So apparently we won’t be needing faces anymore. Faces are old biological-type technology more suited to the seventies than to this new world order we live in. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the evolutionary process is going to eventually eliminate this last vestige of bygone days because faces are more like the appendix now. We have them but we don’t use them.

Eventually doctors in the future will simply operate on us and remove these dreadful things called faces because they will inevitably become an embarrassment. They’ll be seen as horribly inefficient things always requiring care and upkeep, with open bits and pointy parts and crevices and creases that sometimes emit some of the most embarrassing sounds. They used to call those sounds conversation but now according to my most astute observations, these conversation things are just annoying noises polluting the otherwise serene silence of this generation who stare at you blankly when you talk to them. Talking, also known as forming words, is just a waste of energy now. Why make noise when you can just text message? Conversation is one of those things that makes use of things like abstract reasoning, the larynx, longer-than-20-second attention spans and the ability to realize there are actually other people in the world. According to scientists, who study the effects of this influx of recent technology, these things are swiftly disappearing. (Well… I’m not sure about the larynx part but I figure it’s likely.) We are evolving into silent linear thinkers without faces who can’t remember what we’re doing anymore and have forgotten how to use our voices other than to swear when we stub our toes.

The only thing of course that I’m worried about is Facebook. What will be the point of Facebook if we don’t have faces? Since Facebook is about the only place now where we can actually see what people look like, perhaps what will happen is we’ll all take pictures of ourselves at the age of 21 when we’re bright and beautiful in full make-up with a full-head of hair and that’ll be our image forever preserved before we go to surgery to have the thing removed.

But then why would we do that when we can create avatars with purple nostrils and flaming green hair and eyeballs shaped like the asteroids of Orion? It’s not like anybody is going to recognize us on the street or anything.

Of course when we stop using our faces what about all these cosmetic companies with their wrinkle removers and all-natural-made-in-China-from-plastic foundation coverage? They’ll have to evolve too. They’ll have to start learning how to decorate the tops of people’s heads with little bows and braids and tinsel and diamonds. Perhaps they’ll start creating hats with imitation faces on the top. That would give us old people something to talk to. And the street people too. I mean if we don’t give the street people and old people something to talk to, they might start getting uppity. We wouldn’t want that. Really.

I’m going to miss faces though I will admit. Kind of like how I miss telephone booths. They were comforting somehow, always there in the morning in the mirror or on the side of the road in an emergency. Oh well… Next week we may discuss whether or not it’s a good idea for people to tattoo faces on their bald spots. That’s an idea that just came off the top of my head. So to speak…

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pumpkin Banana Cream Mousse Tart

Merry Go Round / 2006 / Oil on Canvas /48 x 12 / SOLD
Here's a fun video. Probably posted before. Maybe i better make a list?

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2012. It's a deeply tragic tale of love's labor lost and hostage-taking.

Pumpkin Banana Cream Mousse Tart

This story is not available at this time....

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The ER Zone

The Love Affair / Pencil drawing /

Here's a medically related video that is deeply offensive, horribly politically incorrect and (because I'm forgetful these days) probably already posted before:

This column was published in the West Quebec Post in 2011. I am republishing it with the hope that things have changed and proper funding and resourcing have been found and are fixing the appalling Emergency Room situations in parts of this country. Perhaps you've had a few experiences with Canada's ERs these days? Why not post a comment below? Maybe the people in power haven't got a clue what it's really like so how will they ever know if no one tells them?
The ER Zone

It has been almost four hours now that we entered the Wakefield Memorial Hospital Emergency waiting area. We are running out of food now. Sure they said there would be food… but there isn’t any. It’s after hours now and the Giftshop Lady with all her candy and muffins has disappeared. We don’t have any change left. We spent the last tooney on the parking token. What was the use of that? It’s not as if we can leave. They haven’t called our name yet. I don’t think they will. The other ones are going in and some aren’t coming out. We don’t know where they’ve gone. We have no hope now of ever leaving here. If you get this message please send help and tell our friends and families that we love them.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. George had a sore throat and a low-grade fever. He had red splotches and white bumps. He was missing work from the coughing and that relentless body ache. It could have been strep. What did we know? We were fools. Just fools. I phoned for a doctor’s appointment cancellation. Any doctor, I said! Anyone! We weren’t fussy. But there were no cancellations. None at all. Not even two hours later. So I called the Nurse phone-line who said we should see a doctor just to be sure. “A simple swab” she said. Sure. Sure. Simple swab she said. So I called the first clinic. But it wasn’t open. It was a Friday. I called the next one but it wasn’t open either. The next one had a recorded message. It sounded like a recording from a lunatic speaking tongues. It made no sense. None at all.

The next one was open. Oh yes. It was open. Open for what? There were no doctors. No doctors until Sunday they said. Why? Why were they open? Were they just teasing us all? Promising hope for all the sick in one breath and snatching it away just like that. Were they laughing? I think so. There is just cruelty when compassion has died. They knew we would have no choice. They knew we’d either die of terror from the unknown “infection without a swab” or go there… to the Emergency Room. They knew we wouldn’t bring enough food or books. They knew we’d end up frothing and insane. They didn’t warn us. They didn’t care.

It only took three hours of waiting before I cracked. George said I stopped making sense. We asked them how long the wait was. They wouldn’t commit. They said it was an “Emergency Room” for heavenssakes. “What did we expect” they said. I lost it then. That’s when I told them that wasn’t right. That doesn’t make sense. It’s an oxymoron or something, I said. But no one would listen. Logic has no place in an asylum.

It doesn’t take long for the paranoia to set in. “It’s your name,” I told George. “Nobody in their right mind can pronounce it. They’ll never call your name! You fool!” I said. “Why didn’t you say your name was Beauchamp or something!” But he said there’s no point in blame. He said it was just the way it was. But I knew differently. No one got out of this without scars. Someone had to be accountable. “Why did you bring me with you?” I screamed! “WHY?”

The paranoia got worse. I started looking at the other ones--the few that got in. One had duct tape on his thumb. “Dammit George” I said, “why didn’t you put some duct tape on! You ‘know’ they like duct tape! You could have limped. You could have fainted or something! ANYTHING!” But George ignored me. He’d been slowly going into a coma staring at the red dots on the floor leading into the far reaches of the hospital. He had woken up startled thinking they were skull and crossbones leading to the morgue. I tried to calm him but I couldn’t. I knew we were doomed then. We were beyond hope.

“That woman,” I said, “Look at her! For godssakes… she only had one kid when she arrived. Now there are two! It’s too long I’m telling you! Too long!” But he wasn’t listening. He was humming the same stupid tune over and over and over. Over and over and over. I had to slap him. What else could I do? He’d gone mad.

It didn’t help. The relentless fluorescent lights done him in. He couldn’t talk. He still can’t. How many times do I have to slap him? He’s still mad. I can’t go on! I can’t I tell you! I can’t!

No… it won’t be long now. If you get this message. Please send help. They haven’t called his name yet. I don’t think they will. For the love of God people! Send Help!!!