Archive for October, 2012

I recall being in a big city law library years ago and seeing four freshly-minted and most attractive young female lawyers. It was a Friday afternoon and I asked what wild and woolly plans they had for the weekend. They said, “nothing much.”

Nothing much?? No dates? No being taken out to restaurants and movies? No romantic weekends somewhere, far away from the drudgery of the law?

The general consensus among that sad little group of young ladies was that guys of their vintage were either intimidated by intelligent successful women or their tastes drifted toward the ‘easier and skankier’ members of their sisterhood. Guys their age tended to follow the path of least resistance, both intellectually and sexually.

(Why is she working Friday night instead of going on a date??)

I was agog and aghast. This situation, rather widespread according to that mopey little gaggle of girls, could not be allowed to continue. It was an outrage. An affront to common decency. Steps of some sort needed to be taken.

The need for Big Brother to step in and take things firmly in hand was obvious. Thus, the idea for “The Board” was born.

I have long believed that there should be some kind of government tribunal… The National Relationships Board or The Federal Dating Tribunal… something along those lines.

Guys… and by this I mean otherwise decent, appropriate and eligible young men [1]… would be hauled up before the panel to account for themselves as to why perfectly lovely, charming girls aren’t being taken out on dates by decent boyfriends who treat them right.

(You got some ‘splainin’ to do, son!)

Very severe penalties would be handed down to those who cannot give good reasons as to why so many gorgeous girls are left standing on the relationship sidelines.

Any guy who could not provide a good excuse (let alone string together a grammatically cogent phrase) would be dealt with in the most severe manner.

The Tribunal’s motto… Pull Up Your Pants; You Look Like an Idiot!

Naturally, I would be head of the tribunal because I see on a daily basis how so many wonderful young ladies are reduced to putting up with rude, crude, thoughtless, heartless, brainless morons. And that’s when they can find guys in the first place!


[1] There being a glut of inappropriate guys and an apparent dearth of good guys, the Board would concentrate on the latter. As a girl can’t swing a cat without smacking some loser with it, The Board would concentrate on the eligible yet clueless within the pool of available men.


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Sweet Lord in Heaven, what would my life be without Tracy Charles in it?

(Tracy up north at the cottage in Parry Sound, Ontario)

Certainly a lot more dull, I can tell you that right now!

I live vicariously through Tracy. For such a normal looking girl, Tracy is The Extreme.

(Tracy and her dear friend, Shakira, in Morrocco)

Remember the 1996 movie Twister where the Bill Paxton character brings his girlfriend (Jamie Gertz) along chasing tornadoes and they end up at the farmhouse for lunch and she asks, “Why do you call him The Extreme?” The Philip Seymour Hoffman character explains, “Because he… is The Extreme!”

(Running down a zip line in Montego Bay, Jamaica)

That’s basically how I explain why I think of Tracy as “The Extreme”… because she… is The Extreme!

(Tracy making friends and influencing people in Cuba)

Tracy travels. Often. To a LOT of places!

But The Extreme is not content simply to visit these far flung joints. She has to go all out!

(Hang gliding in the Andes Mountains)

I swear, I get scared and exhausted just seeing her photos and videos and reading about what she’s doing next! The girl is a high octane adreniline machine.

(Repelling down a canyon river in South America)

The girl has boundless energy and an unbridled enthusiasm for trying something new, for taking risks.

(Rent a car? Hell, no! Tracy zips around  Baños, Ecuador, in a flippin’ go cart!)

Tracy is no mere adreneline junkie. She is a woman who has had her share of tragedy in her life and she has learned that you need to squeeze every drop of enjoyment from life. Never go to your grave thinking, “I wish I had done that!”

(Note the bad-ass barbed wire pattern on the helmet!)

So here’s to you, Tracy. You are an inspiration to me and all who know you.

Can’t wait until you get back from your present trip so we can talk more about it.

Until then, enjoy life to the fullest. If anyone has earned it, sweetie, it’s you!

(Tracy straddling the equator, being in two hemispheres at the same time!)

You’re the best. You are… The Extreme! [1]


[1] At the time of this posting, Tracy is in the Amazon jungle, home to over 2.5 million insect species!

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Just in time for Halloween!

I ran across Marilyn Manson’s video of “Tainted Love”…

A lovely Halloween treat which is, of course, Manson’s cover of the 80’s classic.

For those who like to compare and contrast, I give you the 1981 video by Soft Cell.

But the version by Soft Cell is, in itself, a cover of the song.

Gloria Jones recorded the original version of “Tainted Love” in 1965, which was written and produced by Ed Cobb.


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There are people I know who are ‘quantity lunchers’… people with whom I get together fairly frequently.

My dear friend Anna can only be described as a ‘quality luncher’… I don’t get together with her as often as I would like but when I do, our meetings are most memorable.

(I took this photo of Anna when we were in college)

I’ve known Anna since college. She and I worked in ‘the theatre’ [1] together.

Aside from being beautiful, intelligent and charming, Anna possesses a very quick wit and a clever turn of phrase.

When I am with Anna, we don’t talk… we converse. Conversation is an art whenever Anna is involved.

Luckily, her words and ideas aren’t evanescent and ephemeral. They don’t disappear as soon as she speaks them. Anna is also a writer (as opposed to a mere ‘blogger’ like me). Her written words are crafted just as carefully as her spoken words.

Such richness of expression risks being too much for a palate accustomed to plain fare. Fortunately, Anna manages to express herself in way that is open to all willing to listen… really listen… to what she says.

Metaphors, similes, allusions, alliteration… all used effortlessly and with a deft hand.

(Anna performing in ‘The Threepenny Opera’)

It helps, of course, that Anna is nuts. In the nicest possible way, of course, but eccentric nonetheless. Her loopiness is the spice that flavours her talks. Any given tète-à-tète with Anna leaves me with the distinct impression that Reason left the building long ago and left Wit in charge of warming the throne until she returns.

Whether our discussions are light and frothy or deep and intense, exchanging ideas with Anna is always a delight.

We are long overdue for an extended chat. My fault, completely.


[1] Pronounced “the THEE-ah-tah!”

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Why has Stan Lee not thought of this one!?

Not to worry. The boys over at ScienceDaily.com have not dropped the ball.

(Otton frog [Babina subaspera]. Image: N. Iwai)

How Flick Knife Thumbs Help Japan’s Rare Fighting Frogs

The article begins, “Combat-ready spikes which shoot from fingers sounds like the weaponry of a comic book hero, but a Japanese scientist has found exactly this in a rare breed of frog. The discovery, which is published in the Journal of Zoology, reveals how the Otton frog uses spikes which protrude from a false thumb for both combat and mating.”

Yes, my little geeks and nerdlings, male Otton frogs get into vicious cat-fights that leave them scarred and bleeding, thanks to the retractable claws stashed in their “thumbs”.

The study, conducted by Dr Noriko Iwai from the University of Tokyo, focused on the Otton frog (Babina subaspera), whose habitat is the Amami islands of Southern Japan. Unlike most other frogs the Otton has an extra digit-like structure, a trait it shares with the five-fingered Hypsiboas rosenbergi frogs of Latin America.

(The white spike [left side of frog hand] is usually sheathed. Image: N. Iwai)

“Why these ‘fifth fingers’ exist in some species remains an evolutionary mystery, but the extra digit of the Otton is in fact a pseudo-thumb,” said Dr Iwai. “The digit encases a sharp spine which can project out of the skin, which fieldwork demonstrates is used for combat and mating.”

“While the pseudo-thumb may have evolved for mating, it is clear that they’re now used for combat,” said Dr Iwai. “The males demonstrated a jabbing response with the thumb when they were picked up, and the many scars on the male spines provided evidence of fighting.”

(In fairness, this ninja frog wasn’t part of Dr Iwai’s study.. but should have been!)

“More research is needed to look at how the pseudo-thumb evolved and how it came to be used for fighting,” concluded Dr Iwai. “The thumbs use as a weapon, and the danger of the frogs harming themselves with it, makes the Otton pseudo-thumb an intriguing contribution to the study of hand morphology.”


Journal Reference:

  1. N. Iwai. Morphology, function and evolution of the pseudothumb in the Otton frogJournal of Zoology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.2012.00971.x

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What can I say about Tom?

I’ve known Tom since high school.

I went to college with Tom.

When Tom and I are across the table from each other at a café or diner, I know I am going to have a wonderful time.

Tom personifies ‘down to earth.’ He doesn’t have an ounce of pretension in him.

(Tom and I a few years ago at my ‘office’ at the café)

During the course of his life, he’s had his share of tragedy and challenge and yet he has risen above it time and time again.

He manages to be plain-spoken without being blunt to the point of rudeness. He is genuinely friendly.

No one lives The Golden Rule like Tom.

I suspect he may be nuts. Only someone with deep-seated problems can appear this normal and cheerful every day.

From what I can tell, he doesn’t experience mood swings. While I’ve seen him ticked now and again, I cannot say that I have seen Tom truly angry in all the 43 years I’ve known him.

But… sometimes the mask slips and I can see the loonie lurking behind. There are tell-tale signs of wackiness.

(Old college friends Joyce and Tom, clearly caught plotting against me!)

To give you just one example… Tom wears shorts. And when I say, “Tom wears shorts” I’m here to tell you… Tom wears shorts!

All the time. Day and night. All year round.

On blustery winter days, in walks Tom in khaki shorts, a broad smile on his face. I’ve seen Tom strolling down the street in basketball shorts during a snow storm.

You may have everyone else fooled, Tom… but I am on to you. You’re as loopy as I am. You just manage to hide it better!

I’ve given it a lot of thought over the last couple of days.

My life would be all the poorer and less colourful without Tom in it.

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Most people don’t have feelings either way when it comes to grocery shopping. It is a chore that has to be done and that’s pretty much as far as it goes.

(My idea of a good time!)

Many people HATE grocery shopping. They just can’t stand it.

Many people really enjoy grocery shopping.

(Not me… although it does kinda look like me)

And then there are those of us who simply ADORE grocery shopping. It is one of the highlights of our week!

My dear friend Wendy shares this bizarre passion.

To us, grocery shopping is an adventure! We check out new produce, new products, casually go up and down the aisles. We check out the grocery store staff.

And we check out our fellow shoppers. Sometimes this can be an amusing experience.

(A disgruntled fellow-shopper)

Sometimes it is a disturbing reality check!

I have not yet introduced Wendy to the concept of kosher food shopping in any great detail. It’s a lot of information up front. I think I am going to have to ease the poor kid into it gradually.

(Sometimes a zucchini is just a zucchini)

I’m sure there are all kinds of psychological reasons why we (and people like us) get such an unbridled feeling of joy when we shop for food.

I am even more sure that Wendy and I could not care less what those reasons are.

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