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That's My Name Don't Wear It Out

As a baby she was colicky. She cried for hours on end. The middle of the night. The middle of the day. It didn't matter. She always, always cried. She was a very unpleasant baby. And so her mother named her Shirley but often called her by her apropos nickname, Surly.

And surly she was. She had few manners. Rarely said please and thank-you. Had a habit of talking back.

By the time she started school she was no better. She was a handful for the teachers. She made few friends. She rarely paid attention. And when her mother asked her what she learned at school on any given day, she barked "nothing". And that was that.

So Surly was surly right into her high school years. But one day she met a boy. She saw him on the other side of the cafeteria. He was handsome. Unlike Surly he was surrounded by other students and they were all chatting and laughing, social skills Surly didn't possess. Then he walked by. Their eyes met. He said hi. Surly said the first thing that came to …

I Do

It was noon. The sun shone brightly in the sky. Birds chirped merrily in the trees. The sounds of traffic drifted up from the street. George picked up his keys and headed for the apartment door. This was a special day. Perhaps the most special day of his life to date. Today was the day he would ask Georgina to marry him. Georgina was his girlfriend. French. From France.

He'd covered all the bases. He'd bought the ring, a bouquet of flowers and a set of knee pads. If she said "no" at least they'd have a good laugh over the knee pads. If she said yes they'd remember him down on his knees this day forever.

He grabbed everything, locked the apartment door and descended the stairs. The restaurant was nearby so he decided to walk. As he waited on the corner for the light to change he thought of spending the rest of his life with Georgina. Not that he was being presumptuous but he had a good sense she felt the same way too. He was sure it was kismet. And besides wi…

10

10? Yes 10!  Not that my blog looks anything like Bo Derek - well, except for today. And Bo Derek graces my blog in her iconic role because nonamedufus turns 10 today. That's right. It was 10 years ago this month when I first waded into the blogosphere. I started out using the blog to update family and close friends on my battle with cancer. I'm happy to say that 10 years later not only is my blog still here but so am I.
Some of my friends weren't so lucky. And I can think of three blogging buddies in particular who passed on. Donnie Kingery of Beyond Left Field from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Sandie Bigler, otherwise known as Quirkyloon I miss you guys a lot. Gone too soon as they say.

But I keep on keeping on. Over 3,000 posts. Over 1,150,000 page views - that's a lot of visitors.

But blogging just isn't the same as it used to be. At the height of my popularity as a humour blogger I'd generate 20-30 comments per post. Now I can count my commenters on one hand…

My Back Pages

I made it through three books in March. Doesn't sound like much but two of them were quite lengthy.

I started out with #22 in the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan series True Faith and Allegiance. Written by Mark Greaney. At over 700 pages it took a while to get through but it was in the true Clancy still and elicited a 5 star rating.

Next up was one of the most entertaining and informative books I've read in some time. Richard Ben Cramer's What It takes: The Way to the Whitehouse is a comprehensive, in-depth look at the 1988 American election. His sweeping study covers contenders George Bush, Robert Dole, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and Dick Gephardt, among others. Referred to as a cross between Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, Cramer's research here is exhaustive. At over 1000 pages if you'e a political junkie like I am you want this on your bookshelf. Another 5 star rating.

I closed out the month with Dennis Lehane's 5th in the Kenzie and Gennaro private det…

Just Don't Poop

Mrs Dufus and I were watching our daily post-dinner fare on the big screen last night when after being bombarded by ads for Robillard Hearing Aids (Hi Julia! - it's a local thing), Chip Reverse Mortgages and Acorn Stair Lifts I turned and remarked "you know, I think only old people watch TV these days". It seems all the ads are aimed at people of my advanced age, and older. Well, except for the local radio ads that pump out formats of millennium musical miss-mash. God I'm old.

And then I reflect on just where I'm at. Let's see, chemo, renal diet, daily weight and blood pressure readings, taking my blood sugar three time a day for my diabetes. hearing aids, endless pills in the morning and at night, etc., etc, etc.

So maybe those ads are targeted at me. Not Mrs D 'cause she's not as old as I am - she keeps reminding me.

It's gotten to the point I've seen those Stair Lift ads so often I can almost recite them from memory. In fact I like to talk…

What's Cooking?

Fidel was not only a gourmet but also a bit of a gourmand. He loved food. And he let everybody know it. In fact, at least once a week he'd host a dinner party and invite friends over to impress them with his mastery in the kitchen but also at the table. This show of largesse was on top of his day job as a renowned chef at one of the city's better restaurants.

But Fidel was all that and more. Not only could he cook up a storm but he always knew what side dishes, desserts and wines best went with his meals.

Of course his friends loved Fidel and felt privileged to be invited to share in his culinary creations.  So impressed, his friends pledged their troth to Fidel, promising never to eat the food of any other chef in the city. And this made Fidel very, very happy.

One week, following a lavish and mouth-watering multi-course dinner and several bottles of appropriately paired wines everyone helped clear away the dishes to make room for dessert and a liqueur.

When one of the diner…

A Scintilla Of A Pun

Peter and Mary met at Bible school. They were in love. Deeply in love. But as in many new relationships Peter wanted to take things to a deeper level - nudge, nudge, wink, wink - but Mary wasn't ready to go there.

"Oh, Peter" she'd say when things would start to get hot and heavy "that would be a sin."

And Peter would back off. "Sin schwin" Peter thought (a good Christian Peter didn't swear and instead took a bicycle's name in vain.) "just when are things gonna change?"

This went on for some time. But Peter was persistent.

Peter would come on at the drive-in but Mary would say "Peter, that would be a sin."

They'd go for walks in the park at night but "Oh, Peter, that would be a sin."

On a deserted beach. Oh, Peter, that would be..."

On the couch when they were alone. "Oh, Peter, that..."

And Peter got the hint. Mary was caving. When she protested but ever so mildly "Wouldn't that b…

The Needle And The Damage Done

That's my right forearm. It's purple. I have a left one the very same. That's some serious bruising. Why? No, Mrs. D. and I didn't trade blows although it kinda looks like it. No, I have the nurses at the Ottawa General Hospital to thank for it.

Every week I have an appointment at the hospital's Medical Day Care Unit for chemotherapy. But while I show up my veins often don't. Maybe they're scared. I would be too after all the poking and prodding. The chemo is intravenous and that means a needle into a vein. More often than not however it takes several attempts to find one.

You know how they say "third time's a charm"? In my case they say fourth or fifth time. And each miss results in a piece of gauze and several strips of tape over the failed attempt. By the time I'm done I've used up a significant portion of the hospital's tape allowance.

Just as an aside, I think nurses as a rule take a special course in tape usage. They're …

The World According to Jean

Canada is blessed with two main all news networks, CTV News Channel and CBC News Network. In my house we have a third called the Jean Network. The Jean Network is a term I've affectionately given our handy man Jean who is doing some work for us around the house. I haven't told him this though.

Jean is a personable guy, sociable might be a better word, very sociable, and informed. He spends all day listening to talk radio while he's working so he's up there on the latest news.

I say news but it started with the weather. We've had a considerable dump of snow lately and the temperature's been extremely cold. How cold? Don't worry. Jean will tell me when he arrives for work each day.

Ans he's the one that told me about the multi-car pileup on the 401 and the even multier (new word alert) car pileup on the Quebec Highway where people actually had to be taken to hospital with frostbite after being rescued from their cars. And I learned from the Jean Network …

Sunset Boulevard Redux

When she was much younger Barb had a dream job. One that she'd aspired to all her life. She was a singer in a prominent girl group. She got to dress up, get all dolled up and accessorized and best of all she got to sing and dance. She couldn't be happier. But Barb had a hard time separating her life on stage from real life. In fact, when she met new people she'd often shake their hands, look them straight in the eye, shoot her arms up in the air to the right and then the left, take a quick step forward, a step back, turn and whisper:

Hi, they used to call me Barb the Blue Angel
sha-la-la
doobyway
dum, dum, dum

And she continued to act this way long after they'd turned out the spotlight. She didn't know who had turned it out but someone evidently had. Probably the last one to leave the theatre. Needless to say people would be taken aback not having expected such a greeting. But Barb would just laugh and say:

Yakety yak, yakety yak
Don't talk back

She'd often tell…

Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine

Now I wonder how many men have uttered those words made famous by James Brown, possibly followed by "Say hello to my little friend."

The older men get the more help they need in the sex machine department. Or so I'm told. Who knew James Brown did. I didn't. Maybe his problem was those tight pants. Just for the record. I don't wear tight pants.

Many aging men rely on the "little blue pill" or the yellow one. But that doesn't work for everyone. Unfortunately. But now there's something that might. Botox. You heard me. Not only does it give ladies a stiff upper lip. Now it might give men a stiff, um, somewhere lower.

It seems some Canadian urologists (let's hear it for Canadians!) have stumbled across another use for botox. They've been testing it on male rats. Now just for a moment try to imagine giving a needle to a male rat in his johnson. Must be a pretty small needle, not to mention the aforementioned sex machine. Do they need a magnif…

The Princess and the "P"

Penny was precious. A bit of a princess. All her life she'd been a little bit of a prima donna. She was pretty, sure. But it was more than just physical. To some, she could act in a preposterous fashion. To others, she seemed petty. But when all was said and done Penny was preoccupied with herself.

In her teens she was a punk with purple hair, pancake makeup and pink pullovers. She wore yellow pumps and stockings with tiny pin holes. And she had plenty of piercings. Needless to say her presence left something to be desired.

Penny's mom Pat and father Peter were at their wits end over Penny's appearance. And they worried too about the pals she chose to hang around with at public school. Pressed to explain Penny's comportment to her friends' parents Pat and Penny would pose such responses with the proclamation that "It's just a stage" and "Oh, she'll grow out of it."

Penny's parents must have been perspicacious because their little pr…

My Back Pages - February 2017

This has to be one of the weirdest February's on record around here. Mild, mild temperatures, thunder, lightening and rain. Alas my reading this month wasn't quite as exciting.
Got four books under my belt this month. Two Nero Wolfes,  a great book about the television industry and a procedural about the Baltimore police homicide squad. 
The Rubber Band is Rex Stout's third Nero Wolfe novel and The Red Box his fourth. The two were written in the 1930's but they're wickedly funny and intriguing as far as detective stories go.
The third book was a fascinating look at that era of television unique to me and my generation, following the so-called golden age of television. The Platinum Age of Television: An Evolutionary History of Quality TV was a delightful and comprehensive look at television from the 60s and 70s onward. It's full of behind the scenes gems mined by TV critic David Bianculli.
The last book of the month fooled me. I remember watching Homicide: Life…

A View From Up North

Hello my American friends. I haven't seen your names show up among those folks streaming across our border through frozen fields of snow into our country so I guess you've decided to stick things out. How do you like him so far?

Funny how your leader has gone from The Donald to The President but still acts like The Donald. The epitome of self promotion he, and at least one other in his family, seem to have latched onto the ultimate way to improve the Trump brand. Although in Ivanka's case, I'm not so sure.

In the United States your President Donald Trump is king of reality TV. In Canada our Prime Minister Justin "Joe" Trudeau is King of the selfie. But there's a difference between our two preening leaders. One thinks he's popular. among the electorate. The other actually is

I feel sad for DJT because he lives alone in the White House as his wife, clearly not enamoured with  this First Lady business has chosen to live in Trump Tower in New York. So th…

Slow and Steady

He made his way down the stairs from the first level of the parking garage, his cane in one hand and the cold metal railing in the other. A loudmouthed mix of mostly millennials ran past him halting his downward progress. He waited until the joyful group exited the stairwell and then continued his slow and steady progress.

He reached the hospital entrance not unlike that tortoise who kept saying to himself 'slow and steady wins the race'. He knew he had the slow part down. The cane helped with the steady. But then he was in no hurry. His chemo appointment wasn't for another twenty-five minutes. He stopped and quickly queued at Second Cup and ordered a medium, then shuffled to the counter where they kept the milk and sweetener.

He stirred his coffee, popped a lid on top and made his way to the elevators. Back out in the main area he was amazed at the number of people rushing to and fro moving much faster than he was capable of. And he marvelled at the number of people who …

How Sweet It Is

Jack Arturie was in love. He had been for 30 years. Following a five year dating period Jack asked Tara Swain to marry him. Lucky for him, she accepted and they'd shared 25 years of wedded bliss. What's in a name? Well, she was his lovely swain for all the years they were together.

Tara was a little old school and believed the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. To this end she learned to bake and created sinfully sweet desserts for Jack at every meal.

Jack, of course, was in heaven and left unchecked he ballooned to well over 300 pounds. But Tara still loved Jack and continued to aim for his ever-increasing belt-sized stomach.

When out for lunch with Jack, his friends would express their concern over his sugar intake and ask if he'd ever asked his doctor to check for diabetes. Jack would simply laugh off their interventions as he tucked into a chocolate three-layer cake and washed it down with a Gatorade.

Snack-time was no different. Often Jack would down a…

You Don't Mess Around With Stan

Stan was an English major. He'd studied four years and was proud of his personal prowess when it came to his phraseology. That's vocabulary to you and me. He wasn't bad with the Sunday Times crossword puzzle either.

He was making his way through the latest word challenge as he sat in Starbuck's sipping an espresso. The shimmering sunshine slipped through the open window casting the shadow from his pencil placidly upon his newspaper. And if it weren't for the occasional bawl of the baristas seeking to match a coffee cup with a customer, the subtle drone of patrons made him almost doze off.  Stan thought the interior of the coffee shop was idyllic. Idyllic was a favourite word of Stan's and he often felt his surroundings to be idyllic, an outlook in keeping with his ultra-positive look at life. He also had great ardor for alliteration, in case you hadn't noticed.

And then there was Oliver. Oliver was a good friend of Stan's - the best perhaps. But Oliver…

I'm Just Waiting On A Friend

Terry said he'd meet Rich and Dave at two o'clock. Rich and Dave arrived at the agreed upon meeting place together, 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Now, you should know that this was back in the day when cell phones and iPads hadn't been invented yet. And people would have looked funny carrying a rotary phone in their pocket. Plus the telephone cord would have to be super long.

Anyway, Rich and Dave were forced into a little session of "I Spy With My Little Eye" to pass the time until Terry arrived. As it turned out Terry was unavoidably detained and Rich and Dave were simply dying of boredom. After all, when you've seen one chrome refrigerator in the appliance store you've seen them all. Neither of them had thought to bring a pencil or paper so tic-tac-toe and origami were both out. Tick-tock, tick-tock the time passed so slowly they were bored right out of their skulls.

At last, 30 minutes past the time they were supposed to meet, Terry arrived on the sc…

My Back Pages - January 2017

It's a new month and a new year and having aimed at reading at least 50 books this year January saw me wade through seven books. Just shows you what you can accomplish when you're not spending all your time reading Trump-related posts on Facebook. And I find my blood pressure's dropped, too.

Spies, detectives, musicians, actors and entertainers held my interest last month. I'd started an old Le Carre novel, A Perfect Spy, before I left Panama at the beginning of the month and wrapped it up when I got home.

Then it was into Powerhouse by James Miller - all about the agency business in Hollywood. It was kind if interesting with lots of behind the scenes stuff about the key agency movers and shakers. and how agencies grew from representing actors to getting involved in myriad other activities like banking and sports.

For What It's Worth was a bit of a guilty pleasure all about The Buffalo Springfield, the 60s group with Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Richie Furay who…

Head Games

Neil knelt next to Norman. Norman lay still upon the ground, a pool of crimson red spread slowly like a halo around his head. Neil's mind was a blank. He recalled the beers he and Norman had shared earlier that night. But between than and now, as he gazed upon his blood-soaked hands, nothing.

And now Norman was dead. And Neil couldn't figure out what had happened. His head hurt. Not from trying to focus on the events since the two had left the bar but rather from the large goose egg on the back of his skull. He realized he had the large bump when he had raked his fingers through his hair and discovered a soft spot on his, what was the old word for it, pate. It was the only part of his body he could feel at the moment. It hurt so much he felt like he was just one big head. But common sense told him that couldn't be. He knew that he felt that way from the pain that came with part of his skull being bashed in.

He then realized that he hadn't killed Norman, although up un…

I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up

It was about three days into Bob's vacation. He'd travelled to warmer climes to escape the wintry weather back home. From what he'd seen on social media he'd picked the right time. Snow, sleet and freezing raining had all put in an appearance in his absence.

Bob felt lucky. Even though he had some mobility issues and walked with a cane, he managed to make the daily trek past the resort's swimming pools to his bamboo-umbrellaed beach chair near the ocean's edge where he enjoyed the sites and sounds of the beach.

So, in the absence of niveous nervousness Bob relaxed away the hours in the tropical sun. But on this day Bob had stayed all morning at the beach and eventually had to go pee. Instead of walking all the way back to the condo Bob thought he'd just dip quickly in the ocean, subtly relieve himself and then return to his spot among the dancing dune buggies and bikini-clad babes. Particularly the latter and for that he was grateful for his sunglasses.

An…

My Back Pages - 2016

Here, as promised is a month-by-month breakdown of the 67 books I delved into this year. I got off to a strong start and then my intake dwindled for a couple of months until picking back up in April. I'll let you in on my favourites at the end of this list.

January

Here, There and Everywhere:
My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles - Geoff Emerick - ****
H is for Hawk - Helen Macdonald - ***
Close To The Edge - The Story of Yes - Chris Welch - ***
Sweet Caress - William Boyd - ****


February

Purity by Jonathan Franzen 
Still Alice by Lisa Genova.


March

Natchez Burning - Greg Iles
The Promise (Elvis Cole #20) - Robert Crais

April

The Snowman (Harry Hole)- Joe Nesbo ****
Phantom (Harry Hole) - Joe Nesbo ****
The Leopard (Harry Hole) - Jo Nesbo ****


May

George Harrison Reconsidered ***
The Heart Goes Last - Margaret Atwood ****
Dropping The Needle - The Vinyl Dialogues Volume II ***
The Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead, (Dave Robicheaux #6) - James Lee Burke****


June/.July

 Lust and Wonder - Aug…

My Back Pages - December

Well, are you set for the big finish? You'll recall at the beginning of the year I'd set for myself the target of reading 50 books this year. Well, I went a little over, zipping through 6 books last month and ending out the year with a total of 67. It was an interesting month, as electric as ever, and I gave four books five/five stars.

First there was This Was a Man by Jeffrey Archer, one of my favourite authors, the 7th and final book in the so-called Clifton Chronicles, a sprawling family history of business and politics.

Then there was the excellent Testimony: A Memoir, the long-anticipated autobiography of The Band's Robbie Robertson.

Then I read a book recommended by my wife, The Book of Negroes by Canadian author Lawrence Hill. Very well written. Great story.

Don't know why, but I picked up Phil Collins' autobiography, Not Dead Yet: The Memoir. Meh. It was so-so. But it had a lot of interesting trivia about Genesis and Collins' solo career.

And then I re…