Fruit and Scotch Cake

fruit cake with scotchYou know you’re getting old when you start enjoying…

Fruit Cake. I bought PC Fruit Cake with Single Malt Whisky because it had scotch in it. It’s listed as the 8th ingredient of 12, imported from Scotland (not that that matters – scotch was my eye-grabber). Opening the tin you get a slight whiff of scotch – the smell of alcohol; but can you taste it? Not really. I DO like the cake and may be that’s because of the scotch, but giving it to someone who didn’t know its ingredients – I doubt they’d guess scotch was in it. The cake is too crumbly, too; you can’t slice it. I ate it with a spoon and fingers.

My mom made a fruit cake this past weekend with a single-malt in it and it was MUCH better – you could taste the whisky.

The Price Of Life

My Dad has been getting chemotherapy treatment for his cancer the past 10 years. His white blood cell count has been low recently, resulting in the need for blood transfusions.

Last week his doctor recommended a drug that MAY prevent the need for future blood transfusions, which would be easier on his system, ensuring he’s strong enough to continue chemotherapy.

The drug costs $6,000. For one pill. SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Lord liftin’ jezuz.

Amber Nash Does Ah-Ha

Three or four years ago, something like that, I noticed a post on the J-Walk Blog about a ukulele singer-songwriter from Cincinnati, Ohio, named Amber Nash. She was (and I suppose, still is) in a band called Ukebucket. J-Walk’s original post linked to (but don’t go there now; their URL has changed) where several MP3s demos were posted. I downloaded most of them, but the one that stuck and has pretty much become a classic in our house is her cover of the Ah-Ha song, “Take On Me.” We love it. It’s on a regular rotation in our MP3 players and I’ve added the song to a few CD-R compilations I’ve made over the years. Whenever the song comes up, people take notice because they recognize the tune but can’t place it. They’re usually pleasantly surprised when we tell them what it is. I even played the song a couple times on CKDU Radio when I had a show there a few years back. It’s been a big hit around here.
Continue reading Amber Nash Does Ah-Ha

Some rumblings about Birdy by William Wharton

I’ve been re-reading some William Wharton novels since he died a little over a month ago. It’s been slow going because I’ve been busy, but the first title up was Birdy. It’s about two guys, Birdy and Al, who becomes friends in school and raise pigeons together. Birdy has such a love for birds, he eventually begins to dream he’s a bird. Then they’re drafted into the army to fight in WWII. After the war, Birdy ends up in a mental hospital and Al, having gone through some traumatic experiences too, tries to talk Birdy back to reality. The novel switches between the two of them narrating: Al talking about some of the things they did as kids; Birdy recalling (and reverting back to) his dream life, which may be the most compelling aspect of the novel.

I first read Birdy when I was 17, around the same age as the characters in the book. I read it over a long weekend by myself and became completely immersed in its reality. It is easily the most influential book I read during my formative years. I even began to breed finches a couple years later and used the book as a guide. I didn’t dream I was a bird or any of that, but it was certainly a rewarding experience. I loved it. I’d get back into having finches again, but my lifestyle can’t accommodate it (having 2 cats doesn’t help).

Birdy the film, directed by Allan Parker, with its excellent (though somewhat dated) soundtrack by Peter Gabriel, isn’t a bad film, but I can think of more than a few things I would have done differently. The best parts are the flashbacks showing Birdy and Al meeting each other and becoming friends. Birdy’s internal life from the novel, however, is virtually absent and WWII becomes Vietnam. I’m glad I saw the film because it led me to read William Wharton, but I’ll take the novel over the film any day of the week.

I don’t think I’m capable of being objective about the novel, or about the experience of getting to know William Wharton over the years from reading the rest of his books. That’s how it seemed sometimes anyway, especially with his later books where he does little to hide himself from the reader. The more I got to know him, the more I wanted to know him. He wrote under a pseudonym and lived in a houseboat in France as a painter with his wife. That’s a pretty damn cool life.

Here are two quotes from Birdy that may or may not have anything do with whatever the hell I’m going on about.

“Birds, like people, have been living in cages so long they’ve forgotten many things they should do naturally.”

— Birdy (p. 119)

“Before you know it, if you’re not too careful, you can get to feeling sorry for everybody and there’s nobody left to hate.”

— Al (p. 216)

Related posts:
Where is William Wharton?
William Wharton, 1925-2008

What the hell is happening in Canada? (part 2)

Don Newman of the CBC writes:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is apparently like someone with a drinking problem who can keep it under control much of the time, but just when it seems not to be a problem, falls off the wagon with damaging consequences.

Harper’s problem isn’t booze. He doesn’t partake. His problem is excessive partisanship. Even when he was publicly calling for more political co-operation, he was attempting to cripple his political opponents financially.

Harper’s falling off the co-operation wagon triggered all that followed for the next seven days. It led him to create the worst national unity tensions we have seen since 1995 and a humiliating trip to Rideau Hall to get the Governor General to save him from his folly. Harper should get into a 12-point program to control his partisanship.

It’s an entertaining but informative article, another case of, “If I don’t laugh, I’m going to cry.” I’ve read more than a few of these articles since Harper prorogued parliament. (Prorogue is the new buzz word in Canada.) If this keeps up, we’ll have to add a politics category to Steel White Table.