Wednesday, 29 June 2016

CANADA DAY - Pass the Hootch


July 1st is Canada Day.  This is the holiday in which we celebrate the birth of Canada by getting stuck in traffic for hours and hours and throwing firecrackers at each other.  Canadians are a hardy lot.

I want to be serious for a moment and give some thought as to how this country was born (definitely a breech birth with lots of screaming.)

Canada became a country in 1867.  I wasn’t at the original Fathers of Confederation gig in PEI.  But I suspect it went something like this.

Father 1 of Confederation: “So.  Do we all want to band together as one country and get ourselves universal healthcare?  Pass the hootch.”

Father 2 of Confederation:  “Yeah, okay, eh.  Sounds good.  Pass the hootch.”

Father 3 of Confederation:  “Snore….”

Meanwhile, the Mothers of Confederation were busy doing useful things like making bannock and throwing venison on the barbie.  And when they found out…well, let me just say there was hell to pay.

“You bozos didn’t include a Caribbean Island??  Come on Mildred…Abigail.  We’re buying a trailer in Florida.”

Because you see: Canada is cold.  It is particularly cold during the months of winter, which can fiendishly usurp months from autumn and spring, and hold them ransom until summer.

And then, just to be contrary, the guys with the hootch made Ottawa the capital of Canada.

Why did they choose Ottawa?  Apparently they were afraid the Yanks might capture the capital if they put it in some desirable place like Toronto.  (Too close to the border, with great shopping and restaurants.)

I’m told that Ottawa and Moscow are considered the worst places to be posted if you are an Ambassador.  This is because they are the two most northern capitals in the world…well, capitals of any country to which humans might actually want to go. 

Personally, I think this is a great exaggeration.  No one wants to go to Ottawa and Moscow.

Okay, Okay.  Ottawa can be a pretty place in summer.  Thing is, it is held ransom by Jack Frost most of the rest of the year.  Look at a map.  Ottawa is dangerously close to the Arctic Circle.  (In actual fact, so are Aurora and Newmarket.  If you’re wondering why your commute into Toronto takes so long…)

In hindsight, I figure the Fathers of Confederation did a pretty good job after all.  Since 1867, Canada has never been invaded by Americans.  We have universal health care.  And best of all, we get rid of our politicians by sending them to Ottawa every winter. 

Talk about punishment.

Monday, 27 June 2016

This Wednesday! Mega-selling Brit author Peter James in Conversation with Melodie Campbell

Honoured to be hosting Peter James at A Different Drummer in Burlington


Wednesday June 29 7pm
at
A Different Drummer Books
513 Locust Street Burlington
Admission Free--Please Register at
(905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com

Peter James, internationally celebrated and phenomenally successful creator of crime fiction, recipient of many honours including the vaunted Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writers' Association, visits the bookshop to introduce the twelfth entry in his gripping series featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace of Brighton, Love You Dead.

"Peter James's Roy Grace is a main contender for the title of crown of UK police detectives...[his] series is going from strength to strength. Full marks for readability, plot, character, sense of place and, perhaps above all, an attractive sympathy displayed by the author for his many characters, major and minor." --Maxine Clarke, Eurocrime

"Peter James has penetrated the inner workings of police procedures, and the inner thoughts and attitudes of real detectives, as no English crime writer before him."--Marcel Berlins, The Times

Mr. James, a highly entertaining raconteur, will discuss his craft and his fascinating career in the vivid company of Melodie Campbell, former Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada and author of the delightful, award-winning Goddaughter mystery series. 

Join us for a rollicking evening with Peter James and Melodie CampbellWednesday June 29 at A Different Drummer Books. Admission is free, but please contact us to reserve a seat, at (905) 639 0925 or diffdrum@mac.com. Thank you!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Are you a Dad? Take this quiz to find out...

Just in time for Father's Day, here's a 10 point quiz to help you remember if you are a DAD:

1.  Do you own at least one painted rock paperweight?

2.  Do you know all the cheapest restaurants in town?

3.  Does your night life involve Children's Tylenol?

4.  Would you sell your soul for a sitter on Saturday night?  How about your first born?

5.  Do you habitually run over unidentified plastic action figures when mowing the grass?

6.  Have you ever gone miles out of your way on vacation to find a clean washroom?

7.  Do you jump when any little voice yells "Dad!"

8.  Have you ever encountered "The Phantom Piddler?"  In the car?  On your pants?

9.  Have you ever prompted your boss to "say the magic word?"

10.  Does your concept of an ideal vehicle include sound-proof glass between the front and back seats?

How to Score:  (Not THAT kind of score...)

0 to 2:  Nope, not a Dad.  Although it's possible to know where the cheap restos are and locate clean washrooms, failure to answer No. 4 with a resounding "YES!!YES!!" is a dead giveaway.

3-10.  Yup.  Dad material.  Get ready for another painted rock paperweight this weekend.

But there is a bright side to this career.  The Dad in this house once stunned an entire room of professionals playing Trivial Pursuit, with the correct answer to 'Portuguese for 'open''.  He learned it from Sesame Street.




Friday, 17 June 2016

THE HAMMER WILL ROCK TONIGHT! (okay, well it might shimmy a bit...)

Tonight!  GOH Guest Speaker
In which, we might want to invoke 'The Warning' (Pee before you attend this)
Laubach Literacy Ontario and Ontario Native Literacy Coalition Conference
Mohawk College
Hamilton



Wednesday, 8 June 2016

ROAD WARRIOR! (probably my most popular stand-up routine from the early days)

This post was my single most popular humour column/stand-up routine (with appropriate gestures) back in the days when I wrote under Funny Girl.
(With apologies to gorillas.)

Who needs a telephone booth?  My guy can step into any car and become:  ROAD WARRIOR!

There must be a primitive instinct that overcomes a male each time he gets behind the wheel of a car, and which also makes him forget that he actually got beyond the evolutionary stage of the giant African gorilla. 

Because every day, millions of men the world over climb into their twenty-first century chariots of steel to hear a voice from the heavens proclaim, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”  At which point all lads who possess a scrap of testosterone drop into first, stomp on the gas and lay a trail of smoking rubber in an attempt to beat the other blokes away from the lights.

I can remember traveling in my guy’s car down Gerrard street one day, when a red Camaro, which was traveling about two miles an hour faster than we were, pulled up beside us and tried to pass.  Whereupon, the man I promised to love and honour until death do us part – or at least until the next tax year – stepped on the gas and roared up the street doing a wheelie, in case, of course, the Camaro might just DARE to cut in front. 

The driver of the red Camaro, not wishing to appear shortchanged on his giant gorilla genes, immediately dashed up alongside, and proceeded to make extremely rude hand gestures while shifting gears and controlling a skid, all at the same time.

The two cars jerked their way down Gerrard, both drivers screaming at each other through closed windows, until my own true love slammed on the brakes, effectively blocking two lanes of traffic and the entire Jarvis Street intersection.  He then got out of the car.

Now the occupants of the Camaro were the sort of people one would expect to see driving a red Camaro down Gerrard: guys with names like Carlos and Guido, whose idea of a fun Saturday night is counting the notches on their machine guns.  And if I hadn’t started screaming and fainting in the manner of Fay Wray with King Kong (another gorilla) we would probably all still be there; my guy standing out in the middle of the intersection flailing his arms, ready to “teach them a lesson.”

What was he going to do? Kick their tires?

Of course, we females don’t participate in ridiculous behavior like this. We’re far too busy shopping for things we don’t need.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Golf is a Four Letter Word



By Melodie Campbell


Golf season always fills me with awe. Not because I immediately become what is euphemistically known as a ‘Golf Widow.”  Nope.  In fact, after recently upping our insurance coverage, the concept of ‘widow’ has taken on a slightly merrier outlook.

But I digress.  My problem with golfers is that they speak an entirely different language.  For instance, take a look at the following words that are associated with golf:

Tee:  This is silly.  Not only is it spelt wrong, but golfers don’t drink tea.  They drink beer.
Club:  The place with the bar that you go to after the game.  Sometimes the object OF the game.
Caddie:  Those big cars in the parking lot that you try not to hit with your golf cart.
Hole:  The thing you fall into and twist an ankle when you’re trying to find your ball in the ‘rough’.
Iron:  What you don’t have to do, because golf clothes are made of plastic.
Putter:  As in ‘putter around the golf course’.
Driver:  The guy who has to forgo the beer after the game.  Hence ‘tee’ above.

But without a doubt, the biggest problem with golf is the way it is scored.  Obviously, the person who hits the ball the most times has done the most work.  But the rules say the person who swings a mere 67 times wins.  That’s hardly trying at all.  This is supposed to be a Scottish game, so I ask you:  Where is the Protestant Work Ethic Here??

There’s only one explanation, and it has to do with the other Scottish religion – the one I apparently married into - saving money.  The fewer times you hit the ball, the longer the ball lasts…

Melodie Campbell got her start writing stand-up.

Monday, 16 May 2016

I’m fatally allergic to bee and wasp stings – Here’s what it means

Yup, a serious post from me today.  Pretty well as serious as it gets.

When I was eight, a wasp stung me.  Within minutes, I had fallen asleep, and couldn’t be wakened. My terrified parents rushed me to Emerg, as my heart rate fell and my body went into anaphylactic shock.

What I can tell you is that people who are allergic to venom cannot ‘tough it out.’  They aren’t awake to do so.  And what happens next is often a complete respiratory shutdown.  That means death.

My cousin’s teenaged daughter had a terrible experience when she was a lifeguard.  While she was working, a man in his mid-thirties died in her arms.  He had never been stung before, and thus no one knew he had an allergy.  Such a tragedy haunts you and everyone around you, for years later.

Those people understand the seriousness of a wasp or bee allergy.  Thing is, a lot of people don’t.

Our northern culture is one that worships summer

In Canada, it’s considered outrageous not to enjoy every moment of summer.  Let me go further: it is almost considered a sin.  We are scolded for not being outside as much as possible.  Bookworm?  Get outside!  Don’t be a weakling.

Here’s what it means to be allergic to bee and wasp stings:

I can’t eat outside in bee and wasp season, which is pretty well from May until the first frost in October. 

I can’t be outside around people who have food and drinks.

Translated, this means no outside patios at restaurants.  No backyard or corporate BBQs.  No pool parties.  No large events outside where food is being served.  No Wonderlands and CNEs.

In September, it doesn’t matter if food is being served.  I don’t spend much time outside at all during the day, because of the yellow jackets.  Doctors warn me that if you are allergic to bee and wasp stings, you are most likely allergic to spider venom too.  Avoid them. Never touch them. Have someone else remove them.

I can’t go camping.  I can’t travel to third world countries.  My specialist tells me not to be more than twenty minutes from a hospital at any time. 

I’ve adapted pretty well to these restrictions.  I carry an epi-pen at all times, which will give me ten minutes.  Enough time to get me to the closest hospital (if I’m awake enough to inject it.  Hopefully someone else will be with me.  I try not to think about that too much.)  It sucks, but better safe than dead.

Don’t make it difficult for people with bee and wasp allergies

No, we can’t come to your BBQ.  I’m sorry you decided to have your book launch or wedding outside.  Please enjoy it, but don’t insist that I be there, or make me feel guilty for declining. 

Please don’t shame me into taking a risk on my life, so that your plans won’t be upset.

Don’t say the following:

1.  ‘Don’t bother them, and they won’t bother you’

Of all the things I get told, this useless statement angers me the most.   And yet, I can’t count the number of times people have said this to me.   I’ve been stung four times.  On none of those occasions did I deliberately bother the wasp/bee in question beforehand.  I didn’t even know the insect was there.

4.  ‘If the wasps are bad, you can just go inside.”

I’m sure people don’t realize how cavalier this sounds.  They can’t know how little value they are putting on my life, right?  Would you knowingly go to a party where rattlesnakes are commonly found in that patch of grass at this time of year?  Would you say to someone, ‘don’t be silly, they hardly ever strike…’

My allergist said it best: “Tell people, ‘would you be comfortable eating dinner outside with a rattlesnake lying six feet away from you?’  Because that’s the sort of danger we’re talking about here.”

Thank you for reading this!  You may save someone’s life.

On the other hand, you may come up with a really neat plot idea for a murder mystery.  Remember to credit me in the acknowledgements.