LONDON, ONTARIO – One of my favourite encounters of the year took place in that couple weeks of false spring we had in the last half of February when the considerable accumulation of winter snow melted away and some naïve souls dared to wonder, “Could that possibly be it? Wasn’t that a little too easy?” And then, whump: on came a pitilessly cold March and a mostly frigid and sometimes Biblically torrential April. Here, on the very eve of Mayday, like winter-weary dogs who’ve been repeatedly teased with a luscious green stick that’s yanked away just as we try to bite down on it, we consider the averages and the odds and our knowledge of the way this world rolls along, and resolve that surely now it’s safe to trust that the proffered treat will not be withheld again.
LONDON, ONTARIO – Perhaps providentially, my propensity for racking up unmanageable debt emerged early in life, via the Capitol Record Club which I rashly joined at the age of 14, suckered in by a magazine ad featuring a photo of a winking Frank Sinatra inviting me to help myself to 12 free LPs and then, in considerably smaller print, mentioning that I’d have to buy 12 more LPs over the following year at seriously inflated prices, plus an exorbitant shipping fee. Beneath Frank’s devilishly smiling visage were pseudo-postage stamp reproductions of album jackets by one and two-hit wonders like Freddie and The Dreamers, The Outsiders and Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs. You carefully tore out pictures of the albums you wanted along perforated lines, licked the backs and stuck them on the membership application.
LONDON, ONTARIO – “That all those affected by the tragedy in Humboldt, Saskatchewan be comforted by the prayers and support of those across our country – we pray to the Lord.”
As the second reader at the 10:30 Mass this Sunday at St. Peter’s Cathedral, it fell to me to read out the prayers and intentions at that service. There was a slight catch in my voice as I declared those words (perhaps my wife caught it; I doubt anyone else did) because like millions of other Canadians I’ve been suffused with feelings of pity and helplessness for the bereaved families who are struggling to find a way to carry on after sixteen (so far) members of that community’s junior hockey team died following the collision of their touring bus with a tractor trailer.
LONDON, ONTARIO – It has long been recognized what a nuisance photography has become at weddings. Yes, it’s important to record such an event for posterity but the amount of time and focus that’s ripped out of the most important day of many young couple’s lives while they get everyone in attendance to stand around in different configurations and blandly smile is nothing short of criminal.
Equally widespread and longstanding is our derision for a certain class of tourist so preoccupied with recording foreign vistas that you wonder if they even see the place they’re supposedly visiting until they get back home and fire up the slide projector. It’s like the perceived need to capture some fleeting experience in pictorial form, precludes experiencing the experience.
LONDON, ONTARIO – About six months ago through a link that came up (I think) on the Small Dead Animals blog, I answered a Liberal Party of Canada questionnaire about what I felt were the really important issues that our federal government should be addressing as priorities.
Rejecting all of the usual concerns so beloved by that irredeemably squishy tribe – fiscal cesspits like diversity programs and anti-global warming strategies that are only good for the immolation of billions of nonexistent dollars – I made my way to the bottom of each proffered list to that little box marked ‘other’ and wrote in helpful suggestions and imprecations of my own.
THE AQUINAS LECTURE
G.K. CHESTERTON AND THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE
ALL LIFE IS A GIFT :
THE IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION :
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