Friday, December 30, 2011

I'M BACK

Holy crap, it's been a month since I opened this blogsite. That's embarassing! Both of the people reading this thing are going to be disappointed that I haven't had anything new on here for a while.
Here's the thing, though, I went back to work full-time and I just haven't taken the time to get back at it here. Anyway, I am resolving, (for the sixth year in a row or something) to do more blogging. You can expect to hear more from me in the New Year. Happy New Year everyone!

YOU SAY YOU WANT A RESOLUTION!

Can you believe we are already into the second year of the second decade of the 21st Century? Me either. Another year has passed and, as always, time marches on. So now it’s resolution time again. Did you stick to your resolutions in 2011? Can you remember the resolutions you made a year ago? I know I can’t be completely positive about last year’s resolutions but I vaguely remember resolving to write stuff down more so I could remember more stuff but I can’t remember where I put the stuff that I wrote down, or even if I did it at all. Hmmmm?
Anyway, this year I am resolving to make my resolutions more manageable. It’s always admirable to set lofty goals but then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment when you don’t stick to them. Out with that “make a million dollars” thing I’ve been resolving to do for a long, long time, then. And I’ve finally kicked the smoking habit so there’s another big one off of the list. Eat better, be kinder, lose weight, spend less-save more, enjoy life to the fullest, spend more time with family…those are all things that we should be striving for every day of the year not just in the first two weeks of January every year.
If you have ever read any of the “self-help” books they are always telling you to make smaller goals first and then build toward larger goals, you know, baby steps. And quoting Frank Ra, the author of the New Year’s resolution book, “A Course in Happiness”: Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in the success rate with New Year’s resolutions.”
Now that makes sense, doesn’t it? Work with someone you’re close to and make your resolutions practical and something that both parties will benefit from, eh? What a coincidence, why just the other day I was mentioning to my wife Debbie that we’ve got a couple of resolutions that we should make this year and now I know it’s best if we do it as a team. So I thought of a few “attainable” resolutions to start the year off and then we can see what happens.
Like: I will resolve not to say “Huh?” or “what?” every time Deb says something to me if she’ll resolve not to talk to me if I’m more than four feet away from her. Speak clearly and enunciate!! Please.” Sidebar resolution: Yes, I will look into those hearing aids!
We will both resolve to synchronize our snoring so someone doesn’t have to move to a different bedroom halfway through the night. (Not sure how we’re going to do that but we’ll write it down anyway).
Deb resolves not to nag so much on the weekends if Perry will resolve to actually do something on the weekends. Who wrote this? How’d that one get in there?!
Debbie will resolve to try to not tell extremely important news and family plans to me while the game is on and I will resolve to at least mute the damn thing while the itinerary plans are being laid out to me while the important sports event is playing on the television.
That’s about it for now, I think. It’s a pretty good start and we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves now do we? Yes, I think that’ll do for now. Oh yeah, there is another thing that I’ve got to do…I’m just going to have to resolve, for the thirtieth year in a row, to get a handle on that procrastination thing that I do so well. Wait just a second. Hold on now. Maybe I’ll move that a little further down the list, or something. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that just yet. We’ll see…
“A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”-Author Unknown

MAN, MY MOM CAN COOK!

So did you get your fill of turkey and dressing and figgy pudding or cabbage rolls and kiff les (keef-lee, a Hungarian pastry)? Growing up in my house I had the great advantage of consuming the best foods from two different ethnic backgrounds…Hungarian and English.
I was so lucky to have grown up in a house with a Mom who was such a fabulous cook. My Grandma Vedress was an excellent cook, too, and she passed down her amazing cooking/baking abilities to her daughters which included her youngest daughter, my Mom Rose.
After Mom married my Dad she had to learn how to prepare the traditional English dishes that he had grown up with, too. Don’t get me wrong, Dad loved Mom’s Hungarian cooking as much as his own traditional foods but he just couldn’t give up all of the great food that his Mother had been making for him and his brothers and sisters all of his life. It wasn’t long before Mom had mastered the food and baking dishes that Dad had loved growing up. My Grandma Hubbard’s Christmas pudding and sugar sauce recipe is still the one that Mom uses every year at this time.
My Mom had always been a little intimidated with her Mother-in-law’s pie making abilities and she thought that her raisin and mince meat pies couldn’t compare to Grandma Hubbard’s but I don’t buy that. As I recall, my Mom’s pies were excellent! Still are! Certainly she had grown up making kalach and kiff les and poppy-seed rolls, which were excellent, too, of course, but her pies were pretty damn good, too.
Now the dishes that I grew up with are being passed down from my Grandmothers’ generation to my Mom’s generation to my generation and now to my children’s generation. My wife Debbie’s heritage is English and she’s an excellent cook and I enjoy cooking so we’ve shared the meal preparation duties along with sharing many of the recipes we had grown up preparing and eating. Deb can make as good a cabbage roll as I can but she’s a much better baker than me so she does the baking and I make the cabbage rolls. Go with your strengths, I always say.
Of course there are so many outside influences on what we can prepare and eat today and with so many recipes just a mouse-click away on the internet the world’s food tastes are at our doorstep. Well, our computer screen any way. Italian, Indian, Mexican, Asian….the list goes on. But on those very special occasions, like Christmas, many of us want, or need, to go back to the comfort foods that we grew up with. Sure, I love pizza, or Moo Goo Gai Pan, but not for Christmas dinner, thank you very much. But after two or three days of Christmas left-overs…now that’s a different story.
Whatever your tastes, I hope that all of you had a great time feasting through the holidays on the traditional recipes of your choice.
“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.”-Sheila Graham(1904-1

CHRISTMASES PAST!

As most of us are up to here in preparations for Christmas Present we cannot stop ourselves from revisiting Christmases Past. Why just the other day I was sharing my “remember when” moments with some of my younger workmates.
I was telling them that when I was growing up by Christmas Day the old Simpson’s Sears Christmas Catalogue, the forerunner of today’s Sears’ Wish Book, was so tattered and torn by me, my brother and my sisters that it was unrecognizable. I know how the catalogue became the “WishBook” because my siblings and I couldn’t have been the only children in the country who spent so many hours flipping through the pages of that catalogue wishing for most of the things in it. And in those days the catalogue didn’t arrive in June, or something, so we only had a couple of months to wear out the pages.
And no, I’m not going to get all “back in my day” and “walking uphill both ways to and from school” and stuff on you but suffice it to say that the times were a lot different, when I was a kid growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s, than it is today. Not better, not worse, just different.
At our house we didn’t have the colourful store-bought stockings with your name embroidered on them that “were hung by the chimney with care” we had some of Dad’s wool grey socks that were tacked to the armrests on the fronts of the chesterfield and armchairs in the living room for Santa to fill. My wife tells me that she hung her Dad’s sock from the top of the buffet drawer in their living room. Necessity being the mother of invention and all.
We actually did get “candy and nuts” in our stockings and maybe a Christmas Orange because they were a real treat back then. The tasty and expensive little Mandarin oranges used to come in wooden boxes and were wrapped in green paper and were only available to Canadians around Christmas time, thus, “Christmas Orange”. If we children had been particularly good that year, or Father’s Christmas bonus had exceeded expectations, as it were, then we’d get a few small toys, like a Matchbox car, or a capgun, or something, in the stocking, too.
For all of my wishing for the big and expensive toys to appear under our Christmas Tree the one item that I really looked forward to and knew would be there every year was a brand new Victoriaville hockey stick and the first year that one didn’t appear under the tree, when I was sixteen or something, I was a pretty sad boy.
I remember that my best friend back then, Gordie Bennett, had most of the coolest stuff, which I had been coveting from those Simpsons-Sears catalogues, stacked away in his bedroom closet. He had the 007 Super Spy set, attaché case and all, and he had a chemistry set, and a plastic machine gun that actually made the shooting sound by itself and he even had a “Mouse Trap” game in there. But we hardly ever played with his super-cool gadgets as we spent most of our time wearing out our Victoriaville hockey sticks in the road-hockey games that were going on all the time.
When it was too cold or stormy to play street-hockey we would play for hours on end with the greatest Christmas gift that my brother and I ever got…a table top rod-hockey game that had interchangeable teams and a centre ice puck dropper and goal lights and a little replica of the Stanley Cup. Man o man the hours we spent playing that game.
Now the 2011 version of Christmas is upon us and as we celebrate the birth of Christ our families will be building new memories to cherish for years and years to come. From my family to yours here’s hoping that your wishes will come true and you and yours will have a very memorable and Merry Christmas.

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.” -Bob Hope (1903-2002).

KAPP AND MOSCA DUKE IT OUT AT GREY CUP!

Say, did you guys catch that geezer fight from the Grey Cup festivities in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago? I can say “geezer” ‘cause I am one so don’t get all “politically correct” on me here. Now, where was I, oh yeah, I guess it happened at a CFL Alumni luncheon at this year’s Grey Cup Weekend when these two old foes: Joe Kapp (73) punched ol’ Angelo Mosca (74) in the chops after the two continued their personal feud that started at the 1963 Grey Cup game. It appears that these guys know how to hold onto a grudge, eh?
Back in the 1963 Grey Cup game Angelo Mosca took out Willie Fleming with a questionable hit. Joe Kapp was Fleming’s teammate and took exception to the often undisciplined Mosca’s forearm hit. Over the years, at other CFL Alumni events, the two ex-CFLers continued their feud over the ’63 Grey Cup game and never shied away from showing their contempt for one another.
Comedian Ron James, the host of the CFL Alumni Luncheon, suggested that Joe Kapp should offer up an “olive branch” to Mosca, in an effort to make peace after all these years, so he gave Kapp some flowers out of a nearby table centerpiece and then Kapp offered them up to Mosca who promptly told Joe to “***** those up your ***”, which, unimaginably, ol’ Joe Kapp takes exception to, and then he pushes the flowers closer to Mosca’s face so then Mosca pushes Joe back and swings at him with his cane barely missing Kapp. Kapp had jumped back out of the way of the swing and then he steps forward and throws a right cross into the left side of Mosca’s face and down goes ol’ Angelo with Kapp grappling after him, as the former pro wrestler, Angelo Mosca, falls off the stage. Kapp was pulled off of Mosca by other Alumni members and event staff and Angelo was returned to his stool with neither foe appearing to have suffered too much damage.
There was some speculation that the fight was staged, as Mosca had been recently shilling his autobiography and was doing book signing sessions at the Grey Cup event, but in anything that I’ve read or seen since then these guys just don’t like each other and the dust-up was not staged at all. Leo Ezerins, Executive Director of the CFL Alumni Association, apologized to the crowd for the unexpected incident and the event continued.
I’m just wondering who it was that decided to put these two on stage together at the same time? If anyone knew their history from past events together, (and apparently everyone associated with the event knows their history), then they were just inviting disaster, don’t you think? But it sure brought some attention to the CFL, the Alumni Association and the Grey Cup event when the fight went viral as an internet video sensation and was featured in many international mainstream media outlets. Perhaps this was the silver lining in the black cloud.
You know, I do not advocate violence as a means to an end, any end, but I cannot say that I was totally disgusted by the behaviour of these two individuals despite their age. Or maybe it’s because of their age. Perhaps I’m a little sensitive to age issues as I fast approach another birthday and more things on my body are sagging and graying and the world is anxious about the strain of looking after all us aging Baby Boomers…but I digress, as usual, and I’ll discuss this particular matter in greater detail next week, so, yes, of course, both men should have known better, and done better, but also, both of them had been in the sports entertainment business their whole lives and just because a couple of boys became men and then became old men, sorry, older men, doesn’t mean that the fire doesn’t still burn in the belly and the competitive juices aren’t still flowing. Do individual humans have a violence expiration date? Apparently not.

“Violence isn’t always evil. What’s evil is the infatuation with violence.”-Jim Morrison (1943-1971).
Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbar@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.

WHAT'S IN A HEADLINE

Regular readers of this column will have noticed that the only headline that The Citizen ever uses for these essays is the actual name of the column- In My Humble Opinion. To me, one of the hardest things to do is to summarize a seven hundred word write-up into a three, four or five word headline. In fact, while I was trying to get my writing efforts to a larger audience an on-line writing forum sent me a 3000 word essay of their own on “The art of writing good titles for the internet” in an obvious attempt to pizzazz-up my titles that I was submitting to them.
Therefore, writing headlines is an art form in itself. Just ask The Citizen or any newspaper staff as they struggle to meet all of their deadlines and try to condense the subject matter of innumerable articles into eye-catching phrases. Sometimes, as deadlines are looming and distractions are unstoppable, a headline or two will get posted in the paper that maybe should have been proofread one or two more times. Then again, someone could read a headline one way and another person will read it another way and one person will catch the mistake while the other one can’t even see it after three or four readings, if you know what I mean?
Newspaper typos, misstated headlines, wrong-worded signs and similar foibles are so prevalent that The Tonight Show’s host, Jay Leno, has been doing a segment on his program for years highlighting these kinds of faux pas like-“ ‘It’s always a crapshoot to figure out how many porta-potties to have at these kinds of events,’ stated Mia Hansen, executive director of Tucson Meet Yourself”; or a miscue in a grocery store flyer stating, “Elf cutlets in wine-$2.29 per 12oz package.” Excuse me?
Occasionally headlines will appear wrong because of the way our English language is structured and sometimes a sentence can be read quite differently depending on inflection or accentuation or simply because of the sentence’s structure or perhaps the use of the same English words that have different meanings. Like the last item in the paragraph above where “Elf” would be the “brand-name” of the cutlet producers not the cut of meat from an elf; one would assume. But, then again, one should never “assume” anything, either, right?
The other day I got an email from my brother with an attachment entitled “Headline Head Scratchers” and I just had to share some of them with you. Enjoy.
“Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter.”-Huh?
“Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says”-Really?
“Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over”- Hmmmm…okay.
“Miners Refuse to Work After Death”- Some people will do anything to get out of work, eh?
“War Dims Hope for Peace”- Now there’s an astute observation.
“Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures”- Ya think?
“Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide”- No @#$% Sherlock!
“Red Tape Holds Up Bridges”-Ummm…I think I’ll just take the Ferry, if you don’t mind.
“Astronaut Takes Blame For Gas On Spacecraft.”-What, the Pepto didn’t work?
“Kids Make Nutritious Snacks”- Who wrote this…Hannibal Lecter?
“Hospital Sued by Seven Foot Doctors”-Those are some very tall doctors!
“Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead”- ??? . For once,
I’ve got nothing to add.

“Writing headlines is a specialty-there are outstanding writers who will tell you they couldn’t write a headline to save their lives.” Bill Walsh (author/editor-1961- ).