Thursday, 25 June 2015

Driving An Automatic



How he came to be here he wasn't quite sure. He hadn't set out to be here. He was out for a drive with Dad and before he knew it here he was.

It was like he had been on auto-pilot, something instinctive or automatic that had driven him here. He laughed at his own pun because actually it had been him that had been doing the driving. And it was an automatic.

But it had all been a blur. Which wasn't good if he'd been behind the wheel. Nevertheless all seemed to have gone well because here he was, all in one piece.

"Well done" said his passenger, a portly middle-aged fellow. He jumped. Just where had the passenger come from and where was his Dad?

"I think you've passed with flying colours" said the passenger. "It's not everyone that passes on the first try".

"Passes?" he echoed.

"Your driver's test son. Your driver's test"

"Oh my God" he blurted. "If I can drive like that without paying attention think how well I'll drive when I take stock of my surroundings." I may just be ready for NASCAR!"

"Not so fast" said his passenger. "You'll never get anywhere in NASCAR. All you ever do is turn left."


The prompt from Studio30+ this week was instinctive. Which is how I wrote this post - instinctively.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

I'm Dying Here - A Studio30+ Prompt



You know, I think I'm quickly becoming a grumpy old man. My wife says so. I've reached the point where, just to warn her in a conversation I preface my outburst with "I'm gonna go to grumpy old man mode here..." and then let fly.

I confess it's an affliction. I was never like this in my younger days. But now? Now I've got a word or two about almost anything. And don't get me started on today's so-called popular music or Quebec political party leaders. But what am I talking about?

Like when you're driving down the street and the car in front of you abruptly turns, no signal, no warning. So I shout to my vacant vehicle interior "Hey, there's a little stick on your driving shaft. It's called a bloody blinker. I'm dying here!"

Same when some joker in a fancy car parks himself in the passing lane going 5-10 miles an hour under the speed limit. "Hey, move outta the passing lane where, you know, people are supposed to go fast. I'm dying here!"

Now it wasn't enough that You Tube placed ads in front of videos that there's nothing you can do but watch. But now when you get to your video, there's a banner ad at the bottom that you have to click to remove (Everybody, with me...) "Hey, I'm dying here!"

Speaking of those banner ads, TV has suddenly latched onto them and you can't click them away. They pop up over credits, during shows and across sub-titles. Christ (say it with me now) "I'm dying here!"

And another thing, I don't know about the States but Canada has evolved to a twelve month a year election campaign period even though no election has been called. I'm sick and tired of the slew of negative ads all parties have come to broadcast, let alone the ones the sitting government pushes to promote itself. It's like I'm supposed to be so thankful to "the motherland" or something. "Man, (it's okay, I'll take this one) I'm dying here!"

But it's not all bad. My charming wife - who used to think the lyrics to Take Me Home by John Denver were "West Virginia, honky momma, take me home country roads" came up with a new one today when she told me she always thought Neil Young was singing "keep on rocking on the freeway."

Ha, ha, I was dying, here. But thankfully in a good way.

Sneak on over to Studio30+ for a peek at how others covered this week's prompt of moribund/dying.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Bibliofile - Hell Toupee


So here I am in the middle of the month, instead of the end of the month, talking about books. One book actually. A kind woman got hold of me on Twitter and asked me if I'd like a review copy of something called Hell Toupee. With the number of books I buy a month I jumped at the chance of reading something for free. And that worked both ways. I wasn't payed for this review (hint, hint).

So we switched e-mails and I let her know my address. She told me it was by Mitch Friedman. I confess after I heard "Mitch" I was certain this was Mitch Albom's latest book. You know, the author of Tuesday's With Morry, The Five People You Meet in Heaven?

When I opened the package I had received I learned the book was by some guy called Friedman. Oh, well, I'll get to it after I finish the latest Dismas Hardy Detective novel The Fall.

This was nothing like that, although maybe in one way, that they were both about the search for truth. In the Dismas Hardy piece they searched for the murderer. Quelle surprise! In the Friedman book he searched for the cure to male pattern baldness. Sure. Similar, right?

Toupee is such  funny word. One of the funniest in the English language. And I was pleasantly surprised that Mitch Friedman was equally funny - and educational. In my early 60s, I'm still blessed with a full head of hair. You hear that Mitch? Poor Mitch took the unfortunate route of purchasing "The System" in his early 30s. And he put up with what for all intents and purposes looked like a wet dog for a full year. His tale is simply hilarious. I confess I chuckled, shook my head and laughed out loud at various spots. (See what I did there? Spots? Bald spots?)

Thoughout this tale he weaves (ha, ha I didn't even do that one on purposes) a humorous yet sad tale about his dysfunctional family. Think Augusten Burroughs pointedly sad but hilarious books and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.

On the whole, for a first book, I truly enjoyed reading Mitch Friedman's Hell Toupee. I can't wait to see what he writes about next.

Wanna learn more? Check out Mitch's website.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Bibliofile - May 2015


Well, we've turned the page on another month - an apt turn of phrase for a post about books, eh? It was a busy month, so let's get right to it.

Of the 10 books I got through in May, 6 were detective novels, including 3 about two Dutch police detectives, one about a Swedish detective and another about a Norwegian cop. Throw in the eighth Jack Reacher novel and the latest from R.J. Ellory and I can tell you I've seen a heck of a lot of crime this month.

Highlights? There were many. Andy Weir's tale about an astronaut who gets left behind on Mars was very well written and takes the reader through the predicament with wit and subtle humour.

Rick Wakeman's Grumpy Old Rock Star provided a glimpse of the varied musical career of the fella probably best known as the keyboardist for Yes. And Wakeman can be a very funny guy. This was a quick and  enjoyable read.

The Grijpstra and de Gier series was a delightful new find in the style of Nesbo or Menkell, except the action takes place in Amsterdam. I quite enjoyed the first three volumes. It goes without saying Nesbo's sixth Harry Hole book and Menkell's An Event in Autumn with Kurt Wallander were as great as ever. Menkell's book was actually written some years ago as a short story and he entered it between the already completed 9th and 10th volumes, sort of as a flashback or prequel. I haven't read the 10th book but it, unfortunately, is the last of Wallander's adventures.

William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade was a humorous look at Hollywood. It's a little dated, originally written in 1983, but if you're interested in the behind the scenes goings on in the movie industry, you'll like this. I did.

So here's the entire list for the month in the order in which I read them.

Adventures in the Screen Trade - William Goldman ****
Outsider in Amsterdam - Janwillem van de Wetering (Grijpstra and de Gier #1) *****
The Martian - Andy Weir *****
Tumbleweed - Janwillem van de Wetering (Grijpstra and de Gier #2) ****
Mockingbird Songs - R.J. Ellory ****
The Corpse on the Dike - Janwillem van de Wetering (Grijpstra and de Gier #3) ****
Rick Wakeman Grumpy Old Rock Star - Rick Wakeman ****
The Enemy - Lee Child (Jack Reacher #8)
An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallender #9.5)
The Redeemer - Jo Nesbo (Harry Hole #6)

And these 10 books bring my year-to-date total to 34 books.

How about you? I'm looking for recommendations. What have you been reading?

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Sometimes You Just Wanna Tell People STFU


"You're certainly not very loquacious, are you?" said Fred.

"Lowwhatchis?" responded Ed.

(Notice the alliteration there? Alliterwhatshun? Never mind.)

"You know. You're not very loquacious, not very talkative."

"Huh?"

"You don't say much, you're not chatty or communicative."

"Oh, I see. You think I'm not very voluble, expansive or garrulous. Well, let me tell you I can be gossipy, have the gift of the gab or be overly gassy. I used to be a real motormouth, talk, talk, talk. My mother always told me I must have been inoculated with a gramophone needle. I was so windy people thought a tornado touched down every time I opened my mouth. Talk about being multiloquent, prolix or verbose - that described me to a tee" said Ed, a tad offended.

"Well Fred" said Ed, "but you're so subdued, restrained, quiet and untalkative. What the heck happened?

Ed shared a conspiratorial wink with Fred, and whispered "I got tired of people telling me to shut up."

"Now, shut up."

The guys and gals over at Studio30+ are talking up a storm this week with their prompt of loquacious/talkative. Enough said.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Size Doesn't Matter


Jane first met Jeffrey at Starbucks. She bumped into him, literally, in the queue. I like that word queue. Hard to spell though. Anyway, Jane bumped into Jeffrey from behind and when he turned around it was like the Friendly Giant was towering over her. That's a Canadian reference. If you're not Canadian, think Jolly Green Giant or the Hulk, but lose the green reference, because Jeffrey wasn't green. But he was friendly and jolly and as they sat together out of necessity at the one remaining table in the store, Jane had to laugh behind her hand because it looked like poor Jeffrey was sitting at one of those tiny school desks of Kindergarten kids.

So they got to talking over their latte grandes, because that's what they call them at that snooty Starbucks, otherwise known as medium coffees with a bit of whipped milk and they discovered they had a lot in common. They both loved the same kind of music, had similar interests in movies and enjoyed the same detective novels by authors like Van De Wetering,  Lehane, Connelly, Louise Penny ,  Crais and many many more. So many more they both decided to have another medium coff...er...Latte Grande.

They exchanged numbers and promised to call. He called first and Jane was thrilled. Jeffrey asked if maybe she'd like to have dinner. She agreed and they met at one of the nicer restaurants in town. A lovely meal and a good bottle of Clos des Pares helped ease them both as they continued their discussion about music, books and cinema. She told him she was single. He told her he was divorced, no kids.

One thing led to another and he took her home to his condo. She was impressed by his decor. He told her he shopped very carefully because, given his size he wanted to be comfortable. The kitchen table and chairs were tall, the sofa was extra large and as she would find out later his bed was gigantic.

After several hours of amazing lovemaking Jane quietly got up to go to the washroom and when she came back she yelled "Holy cow, Jeffrey,  I almost fell into your toilet. I know you're large and all but that commode is, um, er, commodious!"

Roomy/commodious is the prompt from the folks at Studio30+ this week. Of course I chose commodious.


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