Tuesday, December 19, 2017

#206. or, The Duke of Argyll

  Hey there, thanks for swinging by, sit down, get comfy. Maybe loosen your pants a bit, grab a coffee. I'm going to try to tell you a story. Most likely I'm just going to leave you confused and wondering what the hell was that? But I'm going to do my best. My ability to spin a yarn is a little rusty.

  Ok, I need to explain something here. Like, at least a month back, my wife decided it might a nice thing to broaden our alcoholic endeavours. No wait, that's not right. Expand our knowledge on the subtle nuances of different variates of distilled liquor. Ya, I like that better. Anyway, scotch in particular. Now, I have a suspicion this particular choice may have been due to my wife's new fondness for all things Scottish in nature, fueled by her passion for Outlander, which we sorta binge watched together. Or, she could have been trying to prove to me that wonderful things can, in fact come from peat, other than wild buckwheat and sub par barley.

  I've always been a fan of scotch, so I was all in, and we sampled some varieties. Learned that it's best undiluted with mixes, but if you must, cutting it with a splash of water can reduce the harshness without sullying the complex undertones. Also, we learned that scotch is freaking expensive and that we can't afford that habit. One of those expensive varieties is Chivas Regal. That distillery is owned by the Duke of Argyll. He lives in the top floor of his castle and you can tour the lower floors if you were to ever visit Scotland.

  That last bit is important.

  Fast forward to this past weekend. We were in the city, doing some Christmas shopping, looking at lights, saw a movie, stopped at a restaurant for supper. We were in that in-between time. You know, after you've ordered your meal but before you get it. The time where the phones come out and you check to see what you might have missed while you did real life things. It was then, as the food arrived at our table, my wife turned her phone to me and showed me a photo of a castle. She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  Ok. Now I have to explain something. Ten years ago or so, I damaged my hearing doing dumb shit. Which now that I think about it, was also alcohol related and that's kinda ironic, but unimportant. My hearing somewhat recovered but left me with a thing where if I'm in a crowded noisy place, sometimes I'll hear something, but it will be all tangled up with other sounds and I have to let that confusion of noise wrap itself around my eardrums and trust my brain to sort it all out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

  She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  I didn't catch, Duke of Argyll. The only reference I had was a photo of a castle and I didn't want to be accused of having a conversation while not paying attention, which I have been guilty of and try not to do anymore. So it was up to my brain to step up and save the day. My mildly ADD brain. Somewhere in my cerebral cortex, synapses and neurons began to fire. The wheel of the giant Rolodex of retained knowledge I posses slowly began to turn, and from between the card that says Wilma Flintstone's maiden name is Slaghoople, and the one that says you can treat foot fungus with a mixture of formaldehyde and water, my brain plucked a card and went with it.

 She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  My brain grabbed onto the only rememberance remotely similiar to what she had said and belched out, Doukhobor Val?  Cleverly, I raised the inflection at the end to indicate either interest OR a question.

  Ok. Now I have to explain something. Fifteen or so years ago, our family toured a Doukhobor settlement in the interior of British Columbia. They're kind of like Mennonites or Amish. They reject personal materialism. I don't know? It's in my brain. Like I said, sometimes my brain doesn't do a good job of sorting things out.

  She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  Doukhobor Val?

  And then my wife nearly spit out her fish and chips.

  Part of my brain. The smart part. The part that makes sure I don't do dumb things like accidentally drink anti-freeze,  knew that was not the proper response. That part of my brain was also now aware that my wife had started to snicker, which in turn drew the attention of The Boy, who actually hadn't been paying attention. The smart part of my brain carefully took stock of the situation as my wife's snickering escalated into a state of not being able to breathe as she tried to stifle full on laughter in the middle of the Saturday night restaurant crowd. And, while the dumb part of my brain was trying to reconcile why a Doukhobor person named Val, who had renounced material possessions would own a castle and sell tours on the side, the smart part of my brain scanned the restaurant for a portable defibrillator just in case my dear wife went into a state of hysterical cardiac arrest.

  I didn't get to use the defibrillator. Even though I'd really like the chance to.

  So now, even though the space is rather limited, my grey matter Rolodex has a card in it and the only thing on it is, Doukhobor Val. Because there is no such person, that I'm aware.

   The dumb part of my brain is also wondering if the Duke of Agryll could also be the Master of Fancy Socks?

  ..........I think I better add that to his Rolodex card.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

#205. or, Find Your Zen

  I have, for the most part, a pretty stressful life.

  Almost every facet of what I do is influenced by factors outside of my control. Add to that, the fact that I live at my job, makes it difficult to turn it off and step away for a bit.

  OK, lets be realistic here, it's not the fate of the world lies in the balance sorta decisions I'm making. But, I've had enough missteps in the last few years that I've become more of a stumble along guy than a, make confident decision, see it through, toss back shaken not stirred martini, leave wife exhausted and thoroughly satisfied amid crumpled bedsheets while I adjust my tie and carry on to the next bold decision sorta fella. 

  Yesterday, after chores, I had a dentist appointment. 

  Nothing intense. Just a filling. Because good dental health begins with a proper daily regiment of brushing and flossing. ( That last sentence was for the benefit of my children. It really has nothing to do with the story.) 

  Anyways, over the past little while, I've been attempting to take a bit of time, when I can, to enjoy the moment. Find a center of peace in the eye of the hurricane sorta thing. So, while at the dentist, in between needle in the gum and lets get down to business with miniature industrial tools, when I was offered the luxury of watching a little television, it occurred to me this might be one of those zen opportunities. 

  It was not.

  The only man in the room with a secondary education diploma said I had about five minutes, handed me the remote control, and left. I thought to myself, let the zen begin and hit the power 

  Evidently, despite my families substantial monetary contributions, dentistry does not bring home the bacon quite as much as I thought, as the package of channels offered was far less than what I get at home. So, while I could see some things I might like to watch on the guide, they were unavailable to me. Then it occurred to me, I can't watch anything funny just in case I start laughing mid delicate drilling procedure. Star Trek was on, but what if Mr. Dentist was a Star Wars guy? He might subconsciously not give his best effort, cause those Star Wars people can be just a wee bit fanatical. News might put me on edge and less relaxed. Sports might get me too excited. I was running out of time, had nothing to watch and was nowhere as relaxed as I'd intended to be. 

  In the end, as the dentist was walking back into the room, I accidental stumbled across the movie Australia. There's a part in there where the cute little aboriginal boy refers to the cattle as "Dem cheeky bools." I always smile at that part.

  Then he started grinding away on my tooth and I couldn't hear a damned thing anyway.

  .............I'm not sure what he's doing with all my money, but I did spend the remainder of the day happy that I have a bigger package than my dentist. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

#204. or, Coffee with Steve and me.

   For Christmas, not this one that just passed, but the previous one, I received what may be the greatest gift any male child of the 70's could ever receive. A boxed set of the entire run, plus all the additional movies, of The Six Million Dollar Man. I started working my way through them last winter, took a break over the summer, and now that winter has properly set in again, I've resumed my viewing pleasure.

  And OH, what a pleasure it is!

  I can almost smell a hint of Hi Karate cologne on the air as former astronaut, turned cyborg, government operative Steve Austin struts about in his bell-bottomed, polyester leisure suit, with his shirt unbuttoned halfway and his ample chest hair waving luxuriously in the breeze. Dude had it goin' on.

  I tried to get The Boy to sit and enjoy all the manly awesomeness of the greatest show from my childhood, but he just doesn't appreciate quality television.

  "Hey Son, wanna watch the greatest TV show ever made?"

  "Do I have to?"


  "Damn, alright. What's it about?"

  "OK! There's this cool guy, Steve Austin..."

  "The wrestler?"

  "No no no, Way before the wrestler, and even more way way cooler! He's a test pilot and astronaut! He's been to the moon! Here, watch this iconic 70's television intro. It pretty much explains everything."

  "So, he's part machine, and he's got like superpowers, sorta. And he can run really fast? Why is he moving so slow?"


  "Why is he in slow motion? He is, like literally, the slowest guy in the show."

  "OH. No no no, That's special effects! He's running really fast!"

  "So, when he runs in slow motion, he's actually running faster than everybody, even though it's slower than everyone else." "Why don't they just show him running really fast?"

  "Because that would be ridiculous."

  "Ugh, I can't do this, I'm going downstairs."

  So, The boy won't watch it with me, and if I make him, he's just an even grumpier teen and all unappreciative about it. My wife will watch with me, but I can tell she's far less enthralled with it than I am. Lately, I've taken to having my morning coffee in my mancave/office, tossing in a DVD and topping up my nostalgia quota, just Steve and I.

  Some of the things I've noticed from revisiting the series are.

  1: Everyone is blissfully oblivious. Not only is Steve Austin dashingly handsome, he walked on the freaking moon. You would have thought he would have attained some sort of national notoriety. In fact, he is often recognized as The-Steve-Austin-Who-Walked-On-The-Moon, but only by the good and law abiding citizens. Yet, nefarious criminal masterminds are easily duped by a false moustache and changing his name to something like Steve Ferguson.

  2: Crop tops and short shorts never go out of style. They were just as prevalent back then as they are now. Except in the 70's, it was men's fashion.

  3: You would not believe the amount of classified government intelligence that was discussed over payphones.

  4:  My City Cousin showed wisdom well beyond his preteen years when he wanted to be Steve's boss Oscar Goldman, instead of the bionic man. Oscar Goldman DID have a phone in his car. Appropriated the funds to build not less than 3 bionic people, plus a dog. Pretty much took control of the Navy in one episode, and NASA in another. Plus, he had a goddamn bar in his office!

  5: Steve Austin was a horn dog. It's not a stretch to imagine, if at least half the episodes ran 10 minutes longer, the bionic man having excessively hairy 1970's sex with the leading female interests in each of those episodes.

  6: By the fifth and final season, half of the United States, and a handful of female Soviet Government operatives were well aware of Steve Austins bionic abilities, which was supposed to require a level 6 endorsement to be privy to. Again, except evil doers, of course.

   Aside from the nostalgia, I've noticed they get a lot of their news out of the paper, and spend a significant amount of time trying to get ahold of each other. It's kind of a weird thing to think about, considering it was a tech driven show.

  It was a simpler time. Maybe that's why I enjoy it so much. I've got multiple social media accounts and it seems, the more I go on them, the more angry people I have in my feeds. Which in turn, negatively affects my well being. I just want to be happy for a bit, and my coffee with Steve in the morning has been facilitating that to some extent.

  I'm gonna be sort of sad when I get to the end of this box set.

  ...............however, I received a new box set this Christmas, and when Steve can't stop for coffee anymore, I think my old friend James T Kirk is gonna hang out for a bit.