Public service announcement: I really must apologise to all – uh – [glances at statcounter] – any of the readership who may have unwittingly bought seats on the Great Bob & Ray Essay Kaleidoscope these past few weeks.
It started out as just your standard offhand blogger’s appreciation I swear; but then an unexpected hit from a Los Angeles IP address started me thinking that it would probably be a good idea, when writing a public tribute, not to leave the impression that any live honourees were deceased. I got interested, and started researching, and realised I’d left out some really great details…well, you can imagine, after forty years there are a lot of details.

So the next thing I knew I was working on a full-fledged little article. (Should anyone with a personal interest in fact be reading, I’d like to stop right here and say thanks. Not sure what for, specifically, but I have developed a very great need to thank somebody for those forty years.)

‘Tennyrate, the really good news is that I’ve just added the very very last, finishing touches this afternoon. I think. Well, barring any shocking! revelations of late-night cavorting on the set of Bob & Ray & Jane & Laraine & Gilda, the SNL special they taped in the 70’s…

…OK, getting grip once and for all. Seriously, as far as I can tell both Elliott and Goulding were perfect gentlemen at all times; even while throwing a spelling bee to a miniskirted Laraine Newman they come off as the dear old grandfathers they were by then. Albeit I do wonder if the little ones were allowed to stay up and watch their Grandpas chorus Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?…

[Um, in business suits. You can put down the brain bleach now. Sorry.]


So life acquires a distinctly whimsical edge anyway, when you conflate vacation days with the holidays…

[Note to readers now moved to outrage over my not saying ‘Christmas’: Hey, far be it from me to interfere with your belligerent defense of the Prince of Peace. Just please make sure the link back here from your Net-spanning defamatory emails is working correctly. thxbai!].

…as I was saying, things have been a bit offhand here @ Shoe Central for the past week-and-a-half. Reality hasn’t exactly been avoided so much as let drift pleasantly by. Some hilights:

–The discovery that if you keep the TV tuned to a Dirty Jobs marathon on the Discovery Channel long enough (like, about three eps in) host Mike Rowe suddenly becomes genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. Of course, this is because you accidentally left the TV on when you fell asleep and the deadly-snake-handling episode got conflated with your dream about that one vendor who keeps asking what a barcode is.

–The ensuing Mythbusters-a-thon, on the other hand, turns out to hold up splendidly, conscious or not. At least, it does now that Shoemom and I have separate TVs and I don’t have to keep explaining what plastic explosive has to do with anything. Really, why people in search of brain candy let themselves in for all the aggravation, heartache and potential psychological trauma of celebrity gossip, when there’s an alternative in the form of cute[ish], witty guys and gals blowing stuff up real good, I have no idea.

–Quick note to Fido (a local telecom service for you non-Canadians): Those recent billboards showing the little teeny people emerging from the videophone to pucker up? I hate to discourage your attempts to break away from the Marmaduke-level canine ‘humour’…but the message these latest ads are giving off isn’t so much ‘Ooh, aren’t I so lucky in love, that my sweetie’s always near?’ as it is ‘Look, world! I’m having an affair with the little teeny person who lives in my cellphone!’

–Ah, those Packers. Break your heart one Sunday, then bounce right back into contention the next…thus reminding you what a deliciously unpredictable thing rooting for a young football team can be. No matter what happens to them this offseason, I’m absolutely proud to support these guys.

–Ducked into a cooky store the other night and caught Kalan Porter’s…er, what was the second single called again?…oh, yes, Destination…on the radio. Have to admit, once every shred of any higher expectation is gone, the kid is actually very good at what he does – ie, adding a mild layer of cutification to the experience of buying Lemon Mousse Fluffs.
But since I do enjoy a good bout of self-torture every now and again, I went home, hauled Hurray back into the iPod rotation for the standard  ‘does it make you sing while dusting’ test and was happily frustrated all over again at how well it held up. Y’know, at least he isn’t JayDee Bixby, and stuff.
A quick check of makes it clear that’s a very, very good thing for several reasons. (It also reveals that Theresa ‘Indie Princess’ Sokyrka has been reduced to touring with Matt ‘Ultimate Wannabe’ Dusk, but random fuzzies created by rediscovering CI2 video clips while cleaning out my old computer is preventing me from commenting further.)

[Speaking of the latest Idols – I did a check on Brian Melo’s sales the other day, and while one of my New Year’s resolutions is to avoid being arrested under my own company’s new Privacy Policy if at all possible…the results are a vivid illustration of just how much marketing cachet CI has lost.]

–Boxing Day sale 2007 score: Grabbing the last $600 HP a6110n desktop computer from the local FutureShop: $350. Figuring out how to transfer my iTunes settings so I don’t have to spend days resetting my playlists, plus Shoemom is so impressed she keeps insisting I should ask a shop-owner friend if he has any openings: Priceless.
Seriously, this beats all kinds of hell out of the previous plan, which involved upgrading an obsolete five-year-old 512MB machine to 1GB, installing Vista and swapping out a cranky DVD drive, all to achieve…as I discovered to my horror the night before this purchase…a six-year-old obsolete machine.
Sure, the new ‘puter is ‘factory-refurbished’, meaning there’s a slim chance it might crash totally and I’ll be altogether reduced to standing by the roadside holding a ‘Will do odd jobs for mp3 storage’ sign; but for the moment, I am the envy of every power shopper I know. And trust me, I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, I know quite a few. What else do you think we do over the holidays?

–Coming in a close second is all the half-price chocolate I scored @ Wal-Mart a day later. Of course, buying the chocolate before trying on all those slinky CK Jeans and Buffalo tunics might’ve been a tactical error. However I have discovered an important truth through the whole process…fashions come and go, but caramel bliss endures forever.

–On a related note…those contemplating a career in slackerism might want to write this down: that nagging guilt feeling dissipates totally after about six hours of sitting in front of the computer eating slices off a dark-chocolate orange (and the guilt about not catching up your LJ dissipates about two hours past that, although you may have to bring in the heavy artillery, ie. the DoubleStuf Oreos). I recommend breaking off every couple of hours to forward inbox-clogging tidbits to friends, just to keep up the minimum useful-activity requirements for your self-respect.

–Which reminds me: Stouffer’s Thai Ginger Beef may very well be the most perfect frozen entree ever devised. Or if it isn’t, somebody forgot to tell my tastebuds. If anybody has a recipe that even approximates the sweet chili-ginger-coconut sauce they slather on that sucker, I implore you, send it to me now. Am willing to learn Morse code, if necessary. Hell, am willing to learn Thai if necessary.

–How not to look like a idiot: Don’t turn your Ikea futon mattress over by way of protecting the cover, then complain to store staff because you’re suddenly falling through the crack created by the two pads slipping apart, having totally forgotten that the zipper holding them together is on the other – ie, correct – side. Er, or so I’ve heard.

–Random stuff you discover while watching too much TV, 2007 award-winner: The current Always commercial, which indicates (in best ‘Please, won’t you Think of the Children?’ style) that young girls in developing countries are doomed to fall behind in school because they lack the proper feminine hygiene products. I dunno, every time I see this thing I get a little shock like, “I would never, ever, EVER have thought of that.”

–Rediscovering an old favourite book has to be one of the most satisfying treats intellectual life has on offer. OK, so the discovery in this case involved the ‘Betsy-Tacy [and Tib]’ children’s series by Maud Hart Lovelace, but that doesn’t negate the joy…quite the reverse. These long-ago little gems, following three girlfriends growing up in small-town Minnesota from age seven through marriage, have the lovely spontaneous creativity of character that very few are prepared to recognise, in this day of PC children’s media.
Sure, the parents might have to explain a few of the archaic attitudes to their young ones; just imagine, parents helping children to think! the horror!

[Memo to self: add idea for column on favourite ‘girl’s books’ to the pile…to be closely followed by the rant re: Blue’s Room being symbolic of everything that’s wrong with smug, self-entitled Western civilization – well, OK, the second rant.]

–While I’m on a literary crusade, I really must give a shout-out to Doug Miller Books, my local secondhand shop here in Toronto. Beautifully tidy little store, excellent prices on a great selection of titles (specialising in children’s books & mysteries), and knowledgeable service. I’ve never come away  unsatisfied.

–Ethical question for vacation pondering…while on the subway, does pulling out one of my collection of Charlie Chan paperbacks constitute an affront to my fellow variously Asian passengers? I obviously don’t mean any harm – in fact I refuse to watch the movies at all, out of a belief that Caucasian actors in slant-eye makeup don’t need my help to embarrass themselves further – but I’ve caught two or three presumably-interested parties looking at me funny over the last few weeks’ perusal of The Chinese Parrot. White-girl guilt in this city is a strange thing, at times.

So…back to work tomorrow…with my tum [and Net addiction] well-fed, my intellectual interest rekindled, and my basic faith in goodness and good things generally strengthened.
As for my resolutions…well, they include keeping up the blogging schedule that I seem to have naturally fallen into over the last while: a weekly column to appear somewhere between Friday night and Monday morning, with occasional standalone pieces in-between. Also, at some point the Novel Project That Wouldn’t Die will be revived, I swear.

Other than that…I dunno. Stay closer to friends. Worry less about stuff I can’t control. Actively pursue the things I want, instead of passively accepting whatever I get.

Oh…and track down that Stouffer’s sauce if it is the LAST DAMN ACT I AM GRANTED ON THIS EARTH.


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