The morning the towers fell

Many older people have commented that they can remember clearly what they were doing the instant they heard that John F. Kennedy was shot. Even my mother can describe the exact moment despite being a Canadian. I always thought this was an exaggeration because of the many years that have passed. Today I can understand, from my own experience, how a single event can cause that kind of impact.

I’d slept in and just got out of bed when Marylou called. Still groggy, I picked up the phone.

Are you watching TV?

No, I just got up.

Turn the TV on.

What channel?

Any channel.

That woke me up. It’s not hard to figure out that something serious is up when someone says such a thing. The screen came to life and the first thing I saw were the blackened smoking tops of the World Trade Centre twin towers. “Holy fuck,” I said, “The World Trade Centre’s on fire?” There was a pause and she replied, “You’re seeing old footage. They’ve collapsed.” At that point it was just too much. I was barely awake and my mind was assaulted with events that I couldn’t even imagine. I’ve been in one of the World Trade Centre towers … I’ve been on the roof … it can’t be gone. But as I was about to see, of course I was wrong.

I’m stunned. I can’t stop watching CNN even though it’s making me feel ill.

Later that afternoon, our Prime Minister issued a statement expressing the sorrow of all Canadians over the tragedy. He also offered any assistance that we could provide, and I hope we’re taken up on it. We might disagree with the US, and even squabble at times, but when it comes right down to it, we’re friends and neighbours. We share your pain and outrage, and stand with you against the animals responsible for this.

Photo ©2001 The Associated Press

Choice of ten

I was goofing around on the web last night while chatting with Amanda and stumbled across a site called Actress Fever, which seemed an ideal place to search for the photos I’d planned to post with my ‘list.’ I hadn’t narrowed it down to just ten women at that point, but browsing the Actress Fever gallery helped me do this. When I started collecting names for consideration, there were a few that I knew would make it to the final ten. Once I seriously started reviewing the names, I quickly realised that the women I selected were there for one or two reasons. There were some that were simply attractive, and there others that were very talented. In most cases there was a mixture of both. There are women that I’d just like to sit and talk to, and I don’t need special dispensation for that. Therefore, this list is strictly for those I’d like permission to sleep with.

Gillian Anderson, Jenna Elfman, Lauren Graham, Carla Gugino, Ashley Judd.

Don’t think for a second that I don’t realise how ridiculous this all sounds! Perhaps I’m over-analysing this all, but I wanted to try to explain some of the reasoning behind my choices. Cathy Rogers, Janeane Garofalo, and Jodie Foster were three that didn’t make this list because they’re all very successful in more than one field and I’d love the opportunity to talk to them. Am I saying that they’re too talented? No, not at all, but there’s more in life than just sex! Heck, their multifaceted talents only add to their appeal in my eyes. I know that strong and successful women intimidate some men, but I don’t think that I’m one of those men.

Carrie-Anne Moss, Molly Shannon, Mira Sorvino, Maura Tierney, Christy Burlington.

None of that is to take away from the women pictured here, of course. They’re all more than just pretty faces too! But I had to limit my choices to only ten, and I know I’m doing a poor job of explaining some of my thinking. Sometimes my brain works in ways which words cannot describe.

Marylou commented positively on seeing Molly Shannon in my preliminary list because she’s in her mid-thirties. The idea of large age differences in a partner has never really appealed to me when that difference spans maturity levels. As much as I might think Anna Paquin is seriously attractive, that she’s nineteen makes any thought of an encounter almost comedic in its ridiculousness. At the same time, some older women underwent serious consideration. Ally Sheedy, Katie Couric, Isabella Rossellini, and Linda Blair all were semi-finalists. I want more than ten spots, dammit!

While we’re talking about ages, the average age of the ten women is 33, with the oldest 36 and the youngest 29. The images are in alphabetical order by last name.

Okay, let me make something clear here. Regarding the list I made above, I’m not a psycho-stalker or other deviant. What I’ve done is just a neat thought exercise. Also don’t think I’m some creepy guy because Marylou is in the process of making her list as well, which has been interesting for me. Interesting both in the choices she’s made so far and that she’s having trouble thinking of ten men while I had trouble narrowing it down to just ten women. Hehehe.

Photos of my top ten from Actress Fever.

An ideal

I hadn’t planned on writing today, but I was sorting through some of the miscellaneous papers on my desk and came across a magazine ad that has a photo I completely love (below). Not only is it a really terrific photograph on its own, but there’s more to it. In a way, it represents something I’m looking for. Certainly you’ve heard me bitch, whine, and complain in these pages about not being in a relationship, and that’s certainly part of it.

What it’s not about is an attractive woman naked in a bathtub so I can run in there and have sex with her. It’s far more domestic…more like what I might see if I were to go into the bathroom for Tylenol or something. Without a word, I’d get my medicine and stray over there to plant a kiss on her cheek before leaving again. It’s just such a beautifully homey and comfortable scene, especially with my own embellishment added.

Someday, my friends. Someday. She’s out there.

Image ©2000 SC Johnson

Rush through time

I’m making a CD of mixed Rush songs and I’m really glad that I decided to do this. I haven’t been listening to the variety of CDs that I normally do and somehow only the last two Rush CDs have made it into the rotation lately. Heck, I can’t even remember the last time I listened to Signals or Grace Under Pressure. It’s been way too long since they’ve taken a turn in the CD player’s tray.

I ended up taking a less well-known song I like off of each studio CD (except their first CD as well as Caress of Steel) and burning them in chronological order. It made for a very interesting listen as I ‘proofed’ the resulting disc in my stereo’s CD player.

When I was much younger, there was a Sam the Record Man store downtown and every Thursday they would have an ad in the local paper. It would have six albums that were on sale, three that were really on sale, and one that was practically being given away. My dad would always buy the cheapest one, which I remember as being priced at 99¢ then later $1.99 and any of the others that we’d say was good.

In 1981, Rush’s Moving Pictures appeared in the ad and either it was the week’s ‘give away’ album or was recommended to my dad. We went down early Saturday morning as always, and dad parked and waited in the car as I went in with the ad (selected albums circled) to buy the records. We always went pretty early because the ‘give away’ album and sometimes a few of the others would sell out before the end of the day. Supplies were indeed limited!

I don’t remember the first time I heard the album but I do know I liked it. I recorded it on a cassette (as I did with everything I listened to more than a few times) and still remember listening to it again and again. I was definitely hooked. I quickly learned that the cooler kids at school (I was in grade eight) liked Rush so they were my ticket to acceptance in that group. I wasn’t really embraced but I think that acceptance gave me the courage to talk to, and be friendly with, a lot of people that I never would’ve even approached otherwise.

The next year I started in high school and although I was definitely one of your more nerdy students, I got along well with just about every social strata. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed high school so much. The only groups I didn’t get along well with were a group of bitchy girls, and a group of Italian guys. Both groups thought they were god’s gift to the world. However, both groups were small so it was no big loss.

And every year or two, Rush would swing through Toronto and Buffalo on tour and we’d mostly catch both shows but certainly see one. The first tour I saw was Signals, have missed the Moving Pictures tour by just a few weeks, and I’ve seen every one since. I haven’t seen any other band nearly as often and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Since I first heard their music when I was 14, Rush’s music has been a part of my life and I do believe it has had a significant effect beyond providing a little enjoyment. Their releases and tours have gotten further and further apart in the last decade, but I don’t begrudge them that. They’re all in their 40s now and one member in particular has suffered two personal tragedies that would break many people. Even if they never come out with another album or tour again, their music will remain and it will hold a very special place to me as far as music goes. It’s not only because of their dedication and craftsmanship, but also because it was a backdrop to the events of the last twenty years of my life.

For that I’ll always be grateful.

Photos ©1984 Anthem Group.

Death, taxes, and banks

Banks are like death. No one likes them, but we’re all stuck with them and know more about them than we’d ever hope.

Two years ago Loblaws came out with something that very few grocery stores have. Banking services! President’s Choice Financial (PCF) had everything going for it: No service fees at all except for rarely used things like money orders and such. That on its own is an eye-opener! I decided to give it a try.

Within a few months I had my first problem. An attempt to withdraw $350 from a PCF bank machine failed. The next attempt succeeded, but unfortunately both succeeded as far as the bank was concerned. I was disappointed in how long it took to get it straightened out, but I figured that everyone is entitled to a mistake.

Things went okay for almost two years but in the first four weeks of 2000 all hell broke loose. My transaction report informed me that I’d paid a $153 to Toronto Water. Of course I don’t pay a water bill, and I sure as heck don’t live in Toronto! What really gave me pause was that a week after reporting the problem (and being assured it would be taken care of within a day or two), I was told that the money wasn’t returned to me because Toronto Water hadn’t reimbursed the bank. The way I see it, I didn’t screw up so that money should be returned to me in the time that it took to update my account. It took three weeks. For frig’s sakes!

At the same time, $100 with withdrawn from my account with no explanation or notification other than that it was a “debit memo.” A week later it reappeared as a “credit memo” with just as little explanation.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was that my January rent cheque was returned NSF even though the funds were in the account. I was told that I made bank machine deposits, the first $300 was available immediately and the remainder took five days to clear. What I found was that even though I made two deposits in one day, only $300 of the total was available to me. I could get no explanation for why what I was told was different than what I found in practice. That cost me an extra $36 in interest and NSF charges so I decided that the lack of service charges in no way made up for the complete lack of confidence I had in PCF.

I’ve since returned to the Royal Bank and paying for a $9.50/month service package that serves my needs is such a relief. I dealt with the Royal Bank for about six years before switching to PCF and the Royal Bank has never made any mistakes as bad as even PCF’s most minor slip ups.

Just say no to President’s Choice Financial. You sometimes do get what you pay for.