Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another Cent-less Loss

On February 4, 2013, in a typically arbitrary and mean cost-cutting move, Steven Harper’s Conservative government withdrew the Canadian penny from circulation. From that day forward, cash transactions were to be rounded to the nearest nickel.
     That summer, August 10th to be precise, I purchased a bag of ice from the general store at Wymbolwood beach for $2.99, forked over my three dollars, and with some fanfare was presented with what would be the very last penny I would ever receive in change.
     And to honour that one-cent worth of rebellion, I have carried it in my pocket ever since.
Then, on the morning of November 8, 2016, when I was changing into short pants for a chiropractic appointment—swapping my wallet, my keys, and the coins from the pockets of my long pants—I realized I had lost the last Canadian penny I’d ever received in change. I had never considered it my lucky penny, just an important penny, and a comfortable little ritual in trying times.
     It was not on the floor of my bedroom, it was not in the little basket Dr. Eric keeps for the stuff that falls from people’s pockets as they lie on his table.

Really, I had never considered it lucky, and after three-plus years in the left-hand pocket of my many pants, I have to admit it was looking pretty grotty. Lots of pretty good things had happened to me in all the time I’d been carrying it, but lots of shitty stuff, too. And honestly, I was already getting my head around the loss of the silly thing, when a Tuesday that had already started out badly ended with the election of Donald J. Trump.
     Then, as if I needed any more proof, I found it again on Wednesday.
     Sorry, America.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Typeface Families, part iii

Arial Baskerville wished she’d never signed up for speed dating. The first man to read her nametag asked if her parents liked Shakespeare. Arial, who generally felt more muffin toppy than spritely, tried not to cry. The second man asked if her parents liked The Little Mermaid. No, said Arial, wondering if it was his hair gel that gave him a kind of pedophile vibe. The third asked if her parents had been in the mile-high club. At that, Arial bolted, crashing into a rumpled but nice-looking man who’d evidently had the same idea. His name tag read Gill Sans.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Typeface Families, part ii

Baskerville has a thick old face, and his whole Roman-nosed clan seems stolid and button-down. A bit constipated. They bring to mind a mantel clock ticking off another dull Sunday with only tea to look forward to, and that at the stroke of six, not a moment before. Easy to read, you think at first; but their reticence seduces, and over time their true nature manifests. They are in fact not obese and dull but round and voluptuous. Their crisp seraphic hauteur belies a bawdy sensibility and a hearty appetite. These characters revel in a good swash and well-turned loop.

Image: Astrid Hampton

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Typeface Families, part i

The Morisons lived as if in times that were Roman – yet new. Stanley Morison embraced a Mediterranean fusion diet. His signature dish: a straight-up egg linguine drenched in olive oil from a bottle with girls in togas, and that would’ve been fine. But then he’d spray on this Thai fish sauce, an update, he said, of an ancient fermented fish recipe. Actually it wasn’t bad. But no one visited the Morisons a second time, not just because of Stanley’s rotting fish gut disquisition, but also because of the spray of serifs he’d leave hanging in the air as he talked.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bobblehead Ernie and the Pennant Race


The Blue Jays’ recent swoon coincides with a serious injury to my bobblehead Ernie Whitt, suffered in the course of an overzealous cleaning. (No blame shall be cast, at least out loud.)
      I’m not particularly superstitious when it comes to sports; sure, I lace my left skate up first, etc; but something about this was deeply unsettling. Coincidence? Bah. In a pennant race, it’s all hands, past and present, on deck.
      Catchers’ legs are notoriously fragile, but a few dabs of Goop and several hours in traction fixed Ernie up. He’s back. He’s swinging.
      Now over to you, current Jays.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pane E Sciroppo di mais

Few images have stayed in my mind as indelibly as a scene from Franco Brusati’s Pane E Cioccolata. Here a group of illegal migrant workers living in a chicken coup spy on some Swiss skinny-dipping youth. They watch from their hovel, their faces covered in shit and pin feathers, enraptured by this vision of white pulchritude splashing about all flesh and sunshine and lazy dust motes. Nino feels the alienation most strongly and in an attempt at inclusion bleaches his hair. Eventually, he betrays himself when he roots for Italy during a football game.
     Outed.
     Like me at Holt Renfrew.

Image from F. Brusati’s Pane E Cioccolata (1974)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Gold Star

It’s well-established I'm shallow but “Gold Star?” Seriously? Gotta wonder what were the other contenders for this label?
     My Trump Schadenglee is wrecked by seeing it takes a dead son to trump Trump, and now on CNN dude in lecture mode about radical Islam is trying to trump the dead son’s Gold Star dad—“the threat, sir, is not from Swedish Lutherans named Anna and Lars.” So, where does this end? With people whose dead son got killed by heinous Swedish Lutherans named Anna and Lars to trump the Trump-trumper’s trumper? (In Swedish, yo, “Gold Star” is “Guldstjärna.”)

Image: www.zazzle.ca

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pasta al packer

The rest of the spaghetti noodles
Half a Belgian endive
The rest of the crumbly low-fat goat cheese, maybe it’s crumbly b/c it sat out two hours during the packing of the glasses but whatevs, heat’ll kill shit
2 dried chili peppers
Walnut oil

Cook noodles. Heat oil in pan, throw in chopped endive. Clean fridge drawer. Remember endive. Stir. Dump in noodles. Add crumbled chili peppers, crumbly goat cheese. Wash Royal Doulton bunny bowl. Dry with same somewhat Windexy teatowel just used to wipe fridge drawer, oh well, price of civilization. Dump into bowl. Photograph. Blog. (Civilization.) Eat. Civilization.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Letter to my Future Self

That two-pound tub of tahini you just purchased won’t expire till 2019, so there’s every chance you’ll forget where you finally did find it in Peter’s No Frills.
     It’s not, as you might expect, in the “foreign-food” section. It’s not with the fancy nut-based spreads . . . or even shelved with the cheaper, old-school peanut butters.
     Because, apparently, Peter considers plain, ground sesame paste a sauce, and so has filed it under “T”—I presume—one shelf below the Tabasco, along with the rest of the dressings and marinades.
     And, hopefully, he won’t move it again before the end of the decade.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Last Days of Mon Patou, Part III

I finally got my answer to how Riley's dog was faring among the trampling cows at his new home. Turned out, he’d never reached it. While Riley was still on her own, she’d gotten new chicks for her chicken house. Mon Patou had guarded the chickens stoutly, but something about those chicks -- perhaps their squeakiness -- set him off. He’d chewed through the lot of them, leaving the yard littered with wistful feathers. Riley went on Craigslist, and that same night, Mon Patou was taken away. A man came from Halifax, bringing a satin cushion for Mon Patou’s ride.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Last Days of Mon Patou, Part II

Riley was writing happy emails about moving in with her beau. But she never answered when I asked how her dog, Mon Patou, was doing. I tried to imagine a happy story for him. But the new home had cows, and I couldn’t imagine Mon Patou, with his dodgy hips, managing a barn's worth of cows instead of three goats, one sheep, and a chicken house. It would kill him to be a failure. I imagined him trampled by cows, made a fool of by that wild-eyed sheep, depressed, not eating, and finally put to a querulous sleep.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Last Days of Mon Patou, Part I

I adored Mon Patou. We’d taken to each other instantly, lunging and feinting as we played in the new snow. He’d used to work with a whole herd of sheep, but the hip trouble that made him bunnyhop through the snow put an end to his farm days. My friend Riley took him in. She brushed the mats out of his hair and gave him a manageable fiefdom: three goats, one sheep, and a chicken house. When someone walked down the road, Mon Patou would bark his head off; when the sheep went for his food, he’d snap her away.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Your report on the subway

I saw your report on the subway. The one from the SickKids Neuroscopy Department. You’re sitting sleepy in your parka, between a man and a woman with hair dyed the same brown as her purse. Your report has three pages. No, the man turns to a fourth; the woman’s purse strap is laced through a gold chain. The man draws his finger down a column of numbers. Maybe the words beside them are the same width as the word “normal”? The woman looks too, quickly, pursing her lips differently. You all get off at Glencairn. I really hope you’re okay.

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