Thursday, 1 October 2015

Max Keeping: The man of a thousand telethons

Over the next few days or weeks, a lot of people will be talking about Max Keeping, the public figure, the man who raised millions for charity, the philanthropist who gave away his money to good works, the fellow who asked everyone to "make a difference in the life of a child."

Max was all those things, and more. I only have to mention a hundred journalists who went on to fame and fortune after being sprinkled by Max's fairy dust. Max could always spot talent, that's for sure, and he could mold it like putty and take an unformed and unconfident journalism student and turn him or her into a star. He did that; he made a lot of people overnight successes.

He also hired people who wouldn't normally get a shot at television, certainly not in today's world. Leigh Chapple, who had a formidable talent, was also blessed with a weight issue. Max didn't care. He kept Leigh on the air for decades. He looked beyond the hair and the teeth -- though he hired his share of those folks -- and drilled down and found the very best of journalism sometimes lurking in the basement of Algonquin College, sometimes in the Arts Tower of Carleton University.

He gave a bunch of us our shot on television, subjecting the viewer to truly awful news reports put together by kids who didn't know a camera from their big notebooks. You didn't have to wait for the tagline, you knew who was presenting from "The Carleton University School of Journalism."

Max understood raw talent. He opened his heart to it. He gave so many students a shot at broadcast stardom and many didn't disappoint. Arthur Kent, Richard Ginsberg, , Peter Van Dusen and his sidekick brother Mark, Linda McLellan and Nancy Wilson who both went on to host Canada AM, Paul Workman, and many more. Some of these folks covered Ottawa City Council and Boards of Education. Today, they are foreign correspondents, television hosts and more.

I first met Max, like many people did, at Molly McGuire's Pub on Rideau Street. He was friendly, mirthful and three sheets to the wind. He threw many sheets to the wind during his garrulous travels through the Ottawa Valley, eventually hiring a driver to take him from venue to venue. Max never stopped.

I met him again in the late 70s when I was a Carleton student not very much interested in a career in broadcast. Truth be told, I was terrible at it, a bit of a slouch, with a chip on my shoulder. Max tore me a new one when I went out and wasted yards of hugely expensive film stock to cover a silly story about a daycare which was "throwing the babies out with the bathwater." So I spent the rest of the week acting as a spear-carrier going to the liquor store and rose shop buying supplies. You see Max always liked a bottle of rum on the desk for the post-mortem after the newscast. He also liked to dress up his newscasters like ushers at a wedding with roses in their lapels.

As I said tonight on Twitter, "Thanks for the memories. Rum and Roses."

For all his philanthropy, many of us of a certain age knew that Max was no saint. There are stories that remain untold about the man, who had a darker side, such a dark side that we would make the nuns wet themselves if they heard them. He had a police file a foot thick.

It might be best to bury those stories along with the man because Max turned his life around, and worked hard for his wings. He had a lot to repent for. Let's just leave it at that.

My husband Scott worked with Max in the 70s, briefly, as a cameraman. He doesn't remember much about the rotund little man with a permanent wave and rat tail.

I said to Scott tonight that I believe that Max lived his life externally. He always kept moving, like a Stephen King character, The Walking Man, lest the darkness overtake him.

You have to give him credit, the old bugger, he bamboozled and charmed his way into even the crustiest soul. If he were a movie character, he might have been Ted, the bear with a potty mouth and soul, but with the heart of gold.

Or maybe Max was like a fine old car, who went on too many road trips. He was all bent and corroded. His body might have been stripped of its parts, but he left behind a fine old chassis.

Farewell, Max, the man of a thousand telethons.

Rest well, long liner.

You've done good.

Yer mudder would be proud.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Ottawa Citizen: Please read me! I'm free!

Two weeks ago, I received my first unsolicited copy of the Ottawa Citizen.
I used to be a subscriber, maybe for twenty years. I also used to subscribe to the Globe and Mail -- even the New York Times...for a time.
I loved everything about newspapers. I wrote for them. I was devoted to them. I kept copies of my own articles until they became yeller. I even laminated one.

It is now the color of a rubbie's fingers.
I don't write for papers much anymore because it's too hard to get published. I can't take the rejection.
That's why I blog.
Anyway, a few years ago, I stopped getting the paper. I read everything online now, just like the rest of the world. I get most of the content for free. If a news organization has a paywall, I don't care. I stop reading it.
I get the flyers delivered right to my inbox. I have something called Obit Messenger to tell me which of my friends has shuffled off.
My carbon foot print is now more like a toe dip.
I'm proud of that.
So when I got this free subscription from the Citizen, I was concerned that I might be lured back to the old habit.
After two weeks of home delivery, there's not a chance.
The first few papers piled up on the coffee table. They weren't like the old papers which were inches thick. These weekday papers are more like pamphets. Pass.
I tried to read the Saturday paper and got through the first couple of sections, then I put it aside and picked up my iPhone and checked Twitter.
Then I checked Facebook.

The Saturday paper used to be a must read that took me hours to comb through over cups of coffee.
Now I go to the gym instead.
The problem is there's nothing in the paper to read anymore.
At least there's nothing to read that has anything to do with my life.
I don't own a home, so I don't care about the two home sections. There's a section called Me which I really don't understand. There's another one called Context that didn't give me any.
And I've never read the Sports.
I went looking for the Obit section, and that's when it hit me. The Citizen has been holding out on the Obituaries. The Obit messenger only sends me half a dozen blurbs when there are hundreds of other people dying in Ottawa.
I just never knew.
No wonder the families never speak to me.
In reality, I hear about the deaths of people who matter to me over Facebook.
Then I read all the 'sorry for your loss' posts. Most of us don't even go to funerals anymore.
We pay our respects virtually.
And we hear about memorial services that are promised but never happen.
A lot if people don't bother with death notices anymore.
It's like Shirley Van Dusen once said to me when I enquired about who would find her husband if he died while she was on vacation.
"Oh someone will find him eventually."
Often I find out about someone who has died when I go to wish them Happy Birthday on Facebook only to discover they died two years before.
Guess they forgot to give their relatives their Facebook password before the doctor applied the paddles.

Back to the Citizen. It's sitting here in my black box staring at me, taunting me, begging me to read it.
I'll have to look away until Monday when the garbage people take away all the useless pages.
Thank God Postmedia canceled the Sunday Edition.

Friday, 25 September 2015

CTV Ottawa: Blonde Ambition

It started off as a little living room humor.

Watching the nightly news, I saw this splitscreen and took a photo of it.

"Guess they let all the brunettes go at CTV Ottawa," I said to my husband, and then tweeted. "CTV's inclusive hiring policy."

But then I thought about it.

Not only does CTV Ottawa have no brunettes on camera anymore except for Lee Anne Cusak who has been obviously grandmothered. There aren't any black people, or Asian people, anymore.

Not long ago, there was John Hua (Asian) who was let go. Then there was Stefan Keyes (black) who is no longer on the payroll. Vanessa Lee (Asian) has also moved on to greener pastures at the main net. Way back when, there was Kim Brunhuber who is now the Los Angeles hair and teeth for CBC.

But they're all gone and are being replaced by FemBots with Farrah Fawcett locks.

Each and every new hire is female and looks like the two in the picture above. Annie Bergeron Oliver (blonde, Craig's daughter), Patricia Boal  (blonde), Katie Griffin (blonde), Leah Laroque (blonde). There are also holdovers like Carolyn Waldo (blonde), Joanne Schnurr (blonde), Catherine Lathem (blonde). The difference between the older ones and the newer ones is the older ones have blonde bobs including the new weather lady Trisha Owens and anchor Carole Anne Meehan who got much blonder over the summer.

It's as if Rinaldo got a sweet deal on Vidal Sassoon Platinum Number Five.

The rule doesn't seem to apply to the dudes across the board. Sure Eric Longley and Joel Haslam are blonde, but newbie Matt Skube has dark hair, as does Mike O'Byrne and Terry Marcotte. Anchor Graham Richardson has grey hair and JJ Clark has no hair. But they're all male anchors.

If you want further evidence, check out the bios. Please note former brunette reporter Claudia Catillo has been moved to the assignment desk.

Is there are conspiracy?

Ok, seriously, why should we care?

If you go over to CBC, the place is full to the rafters of people of all races and  quite a few with varied sexual orientation. Even the mothership, CTV, ensures that their reporters, anchors and commentators represent the rainbow.

So how come CTV Ottawa, which is in the Nation's Capital, is so blonde obsessed?

Why am I the only one who has noticed? Who is doing the hiring? Hugh Heffner?

People need to complain.

The CTV Ottawa honchos can be reached here. 

You're welcome!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Welcome to the Golden Years: There's a pill for that!

My husband and I are both turning 60 next year, that magical age when all things are supposed to come together.

You have great sex because Mom has gone through menopause and Dad is taking Viagra. You can finally take that trip you've put off because the dogs are all dead, and the kids are on their own. And your life becomes a series of bridge and golf games, endless parties, and trips to the gym.

It's like Dick Van Dyke meets the Biggest Loser meets the speciality channels.

I am lucky because I am 59 and I am not on any medication whatsoever. The doctor tried to put me on high blood pressure pills until I outsmarted him by purchasing a blood pressure cuff. I actually have low blood pressure! I go to the gym regularly, and I eat properly and still manage to get in a few glasses of red with no ill effects (cross your legs, fingers and toes). And I have perfect 20-20 long distance vision thanks to Dr. Myles and his five second cataract cure.

Scott has a few more issues but he's pretty good, all in all, for his age.

The trouble is that the wisdom cited above is dispensed by advertisers. Viagra is a curse, in my humble opinion, because after a woman finally gets through menopause, the last thing she wants on top of her is a crinkly old dude with no control over his flatulence. Viagra meets a woman at the exact wrong time in her life cycle.

And not all the guys are up for Viagra, either.

I had a horny toad friend named Betty who was constantly after her husband to get some pills and make her day. The first time Bill tried one, he took it before he had a bacon sandwich and promptly went to sleep. Betty found him snoring on the couch, his pants poking out like Pinocchio, and she hauled him off to have her way with him. As for Bill, he probably preferred the bacon sandwich.

On the second subject, if the dog is dead, you will truly want to get another one. At 60, you will probably outlive at least one more dog, if not two, and they will take up a lot of your time because you are not having all that Viagra laced sex, yo.

On the third subject, which entails endless golf and bridge games, that's only for rich folk. Golf is too expensive, and it's become too popular, not like when I played it in the 70s. Today, it's like going to the Chinese buffet. You wait, you wait, and you wait some more. Golf is especially not that interesting now that drinking and driving has become a non-starter. Winding your way back from the country with a snootful of beer in your gullet can get you thrown in jail, put in the ditch or something even worse. People still do it, but they shouldn't.

Sober golf sucks. It's like waiting to get your driver's licence at the MOT.

Bridge, what is bridge, anyway?  I think it's a drinking game so unless you live in one of those gated communities, you don't play bridge. We do play dominoes in our backyard but we only have to wind our way up the stairs after a particularly nasty hand.

The trouble with old age is it sneaks up on you. You find that you have to wear mid-vision glasses to read the computer screen, you can't learn Windows 10 even if you are a computer whiz. And you find yourself being held at the mercy of Angry Birds.

Forget FaceTime. Have you seen my hair lately?

While I'm on the subject, when did hair cuts start to cost so much? I spent years cutting my own hair. It took two snips. The last time I went to the hairdresser, who didn't give me the greatest cut, it cost my $75 with tip. I didn't even get a dye job!

No wonder so many women are going grey.

I've also found that taking trips, even short ones, becomes a bit of a problem. I have to make sure I don't eat or drink anything before I get in the car, because I'll either have to stop to pee or something else. After breakfast, you never know what you're going to get.

Then there's the whole weigh issue. Women who are too thin become all wrinkly. If you do lose weight, people look at you sadly and ask when you expect your hair to fall out.

Me, I just can't lose a single pound.

I spend twenty minutes at the gym, drink smoothies, eat delicious soups, shun bread, pass on the butter, and don't drink a single soda, and my weight stays the same.

When I try to diet, my gallbladder wakes up and writhes around like a Transformer, crying out, "I need fat, I need wine."

So I just eat what I want.

Recently, I spent six weeks not going to the gym, and eating a weekly diet of new potatoes and corn, and I found that it didn't matter in the slightest. My weight was exactly the same as it was any week when I exercised every day.

I suppose the reality is that we're supposed to just sit back, watch daytime television, and forget about trying new things. As they say on that Acorn Stairlift commercial, sit back, relax.

I'm not giving up, not yet. I'm going to try to enjoy my golden years the same way I enjoyed my other years -- staying away from doctors.

It's the best I have to hope for.

That and a bigger computer screen.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Canada's military: The Sultans of "Schwing"

In an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge broadcast Tuesday afternoon, outgoing Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson said men are “biologically wired” for such behaviour.
A report this spring found that women in uniform endure hostile work environments due to an “underlying sexualize culture” that leads to sexual harassment and sexual assault. The 88-page report by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, written after hundreds of interviews with active members, found that “there is a broadly held perception in the lower ranks that those in the chain of command either condone inappropriate sexual conduct, or are willing to turn a blind-eye to such incidents.”-- The National Post

Well, isn't that special!
The commanding officer of Canada's military -- outgoing, thank God! -- has just revealed the underying root cause of the biggest crisis to hit the armed forces in decades. Not enough bullets? Needing bigger airplanes? A lack of nutritious rations based on the Canada Food Guide?
Na uh.
It's the Schwing factor.
The boys in various shades of green and periwinkle blue are pinching bums, and raping and purple nurpling their colleagues, because they are "biologicially wired" to do so. Said another way, in the spirit of Rock of Ages, they are "hard, hard, hard wired" to commit sins of a sexual nature.
Well, he said it, then he retracted it.
Too bad, so sad.
Lawson's highly paid media coaches must have been shitting themselves.
Let's face it, Lawson was saying what everyone without a vagina in the military really thinks.
That tenting is not about pitching, that boobs are God's great gift.
In the words of Steve Miller,"I really like your peaches, wanna shake your tree!"
What do they give our military boys, in terms of training videos? Copies of Game of Thrones?
Lawson may be thinking this, but he has no business saying it.
I wasn't surprised, either, when I saw all the old retired limp dicked military boys posting on Facebook about it yesterday, as if Tom Lawson was General Patton.
"Atta boy, Tom!" "You got it, Pontiac."
Here's the truth.
Whether boys are "hard wired" to Schwing their chubbies in the general direction of their female, or male, colleagues is irrelevant. When I was in high school, every boy had a big notebook, but they weren't allow to whip out their dicks and do stuff with them.
That's because, in high school, there were rules, as there are in general society against sexual harassment and rape. People go to jail for it, people get fired for it.
The military has always had a rape culture, don't ask, don't tell.
The brass have been hard wired to ignore it.
That's the problem.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Stephen Harper: A Trip Down Memory Lane!

In a recent advertisement, Prime Minister Harper can be seen sitting in his office, with a voice-over suggesting that he doesn't make political decisions based on ideology. Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Just for old times sake. Pick number one on the playlist, or enjoy all these great videos.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Ottawa's 100 Mile Diet: You Just Can't Get There From Here

Advertisement: Come to Lansdowne Market this Sunday to grab breakfast, the first strawberries of the season and other local favourites, then join in the FIFA fun.
This Sunday, June 7th, the market will be running a free shuttle bus to accommodate market customers during the FIFA Women's World Cup games (1pm: Norway vs. Thailand and 4pm: Germany vs. Côte D'Ivoire). Or, come early to avoid the rush. The market will also be open for extended hours — 8am until 4pm — this Sunday only.
To access... the market shuttle, park in Carleton University's Lot 7 for $4/day. The market shuttle will run every 30 min (with a lunch break from 12:15 to 1:00pm) dropping off and picking up at the east end the market in front of the Horticulture Building.
Leaving Carleton University, Lot 7
8:15, 8:45, 9:15, 9:45, 10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:45, 12:15, Lunch Break 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00, 3:30, 4:00

Leaving Horticultural Building
8:30, 9:00, 9:30, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, Lunch Break 1:15, 1:45, 2:15, 2:45, 3:15, 3:45

Please note there is no onsite parking at Lansdowne after 10am.

Like that's gonna happen.

For the past two years, our summer tradition has been to take the dogs to the Conroy Pit, then amble over to the Ottawa Farmer's Market, which was located a Brewer Park. It was always an expensive run, costing us between $60-$100, as we voluntarily paid 10% more for eggs, cheese, fresh produce and herbs.

We paid the ransom almost gleefully.

That's because there is nothing more wonderful, for this farm girl at least, than to chow down on dirt-to-table mixed greens, sustainably-raised meat, and dew-glistened strawberries that were picked hours before. I love it, love it, love it.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to the Ottawa Farmer's Market once this year because it moved from Brewer Park, where there was plenty of free parking, to Lansdowne which is in the Glebe, where there is no free lunch. I don't go to the Glebe, not since we had our car towed for accidentally parking a smidge across some entitled Glebite's precious driveway, one that couldn't be seen from the street!

I do love the Farmer's Market, so I've been tempted to break my rule, but naw, forget it. Going to the Glebe is just too much trouble parking-wise.

I suppose I could take the bus and drag my six bags of groceries over two buses, while watching them wilt and have teenagers spew spittle over them, but I'm not going to. I live a block from the grocery store and a couple miles down the road from farmers. I'll get my produce there.

Yesterday, I pondered going to the Farmer's Market on Main Street, only to discover that it isn't there anymore because Main Street looks like a gigantic sinkhole. There is so much construction on Main Street, even God has left St. Paul's University.

And don't get me started on Westboro. You can't park in Westboro, unless it's two in the morning.

Sure, I could go down to the actual Market, but that would mean paying for parking, jostling with street people, and having to listen to my former neighbor play the flute. Oh yes, and the first and last thing to assault the senses is the smell of pee in the parking garages.

It's not fun.

To make matters worse, there is the damned FIFA thing going on at Lansdowne, so for the next two weeks, the Farm Marketing folks are cheerfully suggesting people take the bus from Carleton University (schedule reprinted above) and pay $4 for the privilege. For some of us that $4 would have paid for a pint of strawberries.

So I have to drive over to Carleton, park my car, get on a stinky bus shuttle with sweaty men in Tilly hats and sandals with their wives inappropriately dressed in sun dresses (no bras) to go to the Glebe and buy my strawberries, only to get back on the bus and do it all over again. Ain't gonna happen.

I'm staying away from anything that FIFA sponsors, just like I'm staying away from Bernie Madoff.

This year, farm-fresh for me will mean actually going to the farm to get my veg.

Too bad for all the vendors who used to like my money.

Sometimes this city sucks.