Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Cancer!

“It’s not urgent, but we need you to get a mammogram asap”

Nothing like coming home to this message on the old voice mail to make a gal’s Monday night. At least it was my doctor calling and not some recorded message, like Emily at Bell -- For leukaemia, press one. For biopsy press two. For carcinoma press three. If I ever met Emily I’d shove her into an alley and put the boots to her London student protest style …Ah, the London student protests of last week … takes me back to the riots of Thatcher’s England. Ah sweet bird of youth!

You know you’re getting older when your blog becomes a forum to kvetch about health matters. As if you care …

But care I must. Seems some nasty cells have accumulated in my fun bags. It’s disconcerting thinking I may have some gunk blotting otherwise pristine landscape. Must say, I’ve always been proud of my guns. They are the stuff of sonnets, of ballads and monosyllabic grunts. But even I saw something on the ultrasound when the technician smoothed the wand over my person. It looked like the Gulf oil spill, a big black patch on an otherwise gauzy image.

“Have you had a mammogram,” she asked.

“Uh, three years ago, I think.”
I tried to be nonchalant,  yet all I could think about was my sister Diane, who went through the whole breast cancer rigmarole four years ago.

I had the ultrasound on a Friday. That Monday night the doctor calls me telling me it’s not urgent, but to get my diseased knockers  down to the nearest x-ray clinic.

As I write, I am waiting for the results from my mammogram. I’d like it to be delivered as a singing mammogram:

Everything will be fine/your tumour’s benign!

So, it’s that weird twilight time, of waiting and trying not to think about what might be, which might be CANCER.
Wouldn’t it be something if I had breast cancer? I mean – how trendy.

In the meantime, I’m imaging myself tossing gifts and presents from Santa’s sleigh – all my socks with holes in them, rusty spoons, old paperbacks and other assorted possession – to pedestrians on the street. Merry Cancer! And no one would stop, no one would break their stride. We all have Christmas shopping to do, after all.

I’m thinking about the great Irwin Barker and how he shook this mortal coil. What a gift he left people.

Am I being self-indulgent right now? Probably.
Am I sorry? No – because I may have CANCER.

All I ask for is your pity.
Stay tuned!

Oh yeah -- listen to this if you want. I'm on Comedy Above the Pub with the ever effervescent Todd Van Allen and Darcy Flander.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Proud To Be Canadian

CBC TV gets a couple of things right. Hockey. Investigative journalism. Hockey.  Did I mention hockey.

What it also get right it covering the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa.

I was home yesterday (don’t mean to brag) and tuned into the Ceeb to watch. There on my set the National War Memorial gleamed under a brilliant sky. Throngs of people spilled onto the street and around the memorial. There’s something about Remembrance Day that gives the Parliament buildings a sharper feel, a more regal presence. War is both ancient and timeless and Canada, our young tender nation, has a footnote in the annals of history. Our people were there … and our people are there.

That we are able to pray as a nation together on this day is a treat. We’re not comfortable evoking God in public (let the Americans do that), but every now and then mentioning that old chestnut is reassuring. It classes up the occasion. I did wonder though, seeing how both a minister and a rabbi spoke, if an imam would be the closer. I wonder if Veteran Affairs will hear anything about it.

The 21-gun salute, bagpipe laments and speeches aside, what choked me up were the faces of the veterans. Nothing beats live television for this.

While the words flowed from the minister, the camera focused on elderly faces, full of dignity, honour and beauty. We don’t see faces like those in our media. We see faces plumped up and smoothed from Botox. We see young faces, Photoshopped faces, vapid faces — these are the faces we celebrate on a daily basis. So how breathtaking it was to see wrinkled, weathered visages full of genuine emotion. The camera captured one elderly woman, her hair shoulder length and white, soft around her countenance. Her blue eyes gazed off, remembering another time. She was beautiful, and the camera operator who captured her gaze thought so too.

The turnout for Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country was higher than usual yesterday. The spectacular weather might have had something to do with it. I like to think it’s because baby boomers and GenXers are getting older and realize the generations that went before made sacrifices we would never make. Grit is the word. They had grit and we have gripe. Might be flippant to say, but I almost envy them their history. Their times seemed to mean more than ours.

All in all, a good day to be a proud Canadian.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On Tour

I never thought I’d be happy to write those two little words. On Tour. After a decade of abandoning questionable one-nighters in favour of writing for other people from the comfort of my home office, I am gigging once again. Not with any voracity, but I am putting mouth to microphone in hope of inspiring others.

The topic is “Fun in Sobriety” A.K.A. life after drinking and drugging. I get to do a couple of my favourite things – preach and make people laugh. One without the other seems insincere. When I say preach, what I mean is … well, preach, I suppose. Offer up my story as a cautionary tale. Bear witness to the joys of being clear-headed.

Yes, I know the idea of “story” is being appropriated left and right. You can’t watch an advertisement without someone sharing their “story” about how a product or service changed their life. “Narrative” is the buzzword du jour in communication circles.

But testifying is as old as humanity itself. I swear; it’s true. There – I just testified. If my addiction story helps just one person examine their own habits and consider a new way of life, then I have done my job. I have told my story.

And the more I tell my story, the more I must stick to my story.

Did my first gig in Sudbury for Health and Safety Ontario. I was the lunchtime keynote speaker. I figured a lunchtime crowd might nod off, but they were very receptive. These folk laughed and applauded and fell silent during emotional moments. This wasn’t Yuk Yuks – I didn’t have to struggle to be heard. Afterward a few people thanked me for my inspiring message. Last year’s speaker was Dennis Hull. Apparently, I wasn’t nearly as dirty as he was. Or as bald.

What a privilege. What an honour to speak to these hardworking, decent, caring people. Angele, the event organizer, even took me on a tour of the countryside the next day. That’s something I miss sitting at a computer – the thrill of meeting people where they are, of seeing new places and immersing myself in that life, if only for a day or two.

I have a few more gigs coming up. Hopefully they keep coming -- in moderation, of course.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rob Ford's Rap Sheet (Abridged)

This document has come to my attention via Mr. Milo Savanich (see his profile at, who purports to be a reputable internet source.

I post it for the sake of public knowledge.
[Rob Ford is a mayoral candidate for the City of Toronto. The election is Monday October 25, 2010.]

Below is an abridged version of Rob Ford’s known brushes with the law:

May, 1988 Ford is accused of streaking at a Toronto Argonauts football game. Mischief charge is dropped when police realize it wasn’t Ford, but another fat white guy.

Aug. 23, 1990 Police are summoned to an Etobicoke Quiltmakers Society reception when attendees complain Ford is “too loud” and “ruining a perfectly fine evening”.

Sept. 4, 1992 Ford drives his Oldsmobile Cutlass into a tree in what the Etobicoke Tattler later reports as "driver fatigue" caused by a "chemical imbalance." Police only notice Ford had been knocked unconscious 45 minutes into questioning.

Oct. 2, 1994 Ford is charged with impersonating Santa Claus at a Hooters charity event.

Dec. 12, 1995 Ford is fined him $100 for grabbing, propositioning and insulting Hazel McCallion at a Mississauga Rotary Club dinner.

June 21, 2000 Charged with urinating on a statue of Glenn Gould outside CBC headquarters in Toronto. Charge is dropped when Ford claims it was dark and he thought Gould’s likeness was a Port-a-Potty.

Dec. 15, 2001 Former MP Sheila Copps sues Ford for allegedly grabbing her buttocks while dancing at a nightclub. Charges are dropped when Ford claimed it was dark and he thought Ms. Copps’ buttocks were a bar stool.

Apr. 9, 2003 Ford is charged with assault for allegedly lunging at Noel Gallagher at an Oasis concert.

Apr. 26, 2003 Ford is ticketed in Albany, N.Y., for drag racing his Impala. He is ticketed again on May 5, for drag racing.

Oct. 2, 2004 Ford is served with a $12 million palimony and paternity suit by Enza “Supermodel” Anderson, but a court-ordered blood test proves he is not the father.

2000-2010. Ford is found guilty of disorderly conduct in council chambers at Toronto City Hall. Charges are dropped when Ford claimed he was “just doing his job”.

Monday, August 09, 2010

August Nights

It's a balmy evening here in the T Dot, the T.O., the TeeRonToe. It's a calm, mellow night. A person gets used to the heat in August. August is the middle age of summer, July's older sibling. September is the dutiful eldest of the summer bros. September, bah, too serious.

The sun feels a little rounder in August, the twilight gleams a little earlier. I was bounding up the subway stairs at around 8:45 the other night, emerged onto Yonge street and was positively enchanted by the wash of  pale yellow light. That's right people, I was enchanted. Let me rephrase that --- that's right one person who might be reading this because you accidentally stumbled upon this blog -- I was enchanted.

It's the transient appearance of subdued light that keeps me from talking on a cell phone or texting outdoors.

I remember light. I remember its particulars. I remember the incandescent light in the bathroom from my childhood, the way it brought out the beige hue in the pink tiles.

My mind is a daguerreotype.

August is full. It is the after-dinner yawn, the content belly, the drowsy peace.

By the way, August Nights is a wonderful collection of short stories by the late, great Hugh Hood. On a night like tonight, where the moon is new with possibilities and the air is plump and still, luxuriating in Hood's prose seems like the perfect nightcap.

Who needs beer?

Not me. Not when there are stars in a full August sky. My thirst is quenched.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wasn't That A Party

Could've been the whiskey
Might've been the gin…

Well kids, did you have fun at G20 Central? Did you enjoy watching hooligans smash store windows and torch police cars? Did you tweet your friends to say “here on Queen Street, guy just lit cop car on fire, SSOOO great.”? Did you feel like the Leafs had just won the Stanley Cup? I mean, didn’t it feel like one big celebration? You really did fuck the new world order. Now it’s time to go back to the suburbs and work on that novel or study law or create sustainable eco-fashion. In 40 years you can tell your kids or grandkids that you were there man, at the G fuckin’ 20 in the T-Dot. Better yet, show them all the video and pictures of yourself smiling beside guys kicking in doors and spitting on cops. You kids ROCKED the G20.

Police Chief Bill Blair politely called you the”na├»ve and curious”. I call you middle class white kids who don’t know the meaning of the word suffer. Meanwhile, your vicarious thrills may have cost legitimate protesters with serious agendas their voice. How did you feel, with your clown nose on, watching black clad thugs breaking the store window of the TImmies where you get coffee on your way to work? Did it make you feel a little sorry for the new Canadians who man the coffee stations, who do so for minimum wage, who smile and take your guff? Did you think of them and how they may feel going into their violated workplace Monday? Funny, I didn’t see any of them protesting.

Fact is I used to be a punk. Okay, punkish. Okay, a punk music aficionado. I’m not without sin by any means. But at least I had the decency to take my anger out on the dance floor in the mosh pit where it belonged. Believe me, I sympathize with the need to do something about the rampant greed that’s dehumanizing and diseasing our world.

And here’s what I suggested, as a way of protesting.

Everyone should have just stayed home. No one should have set foot on Toronto’s downtown streets. That way, the almost $1 billion spent on security would have been all for naught. Then who would have been shamed?

Party’s over kids. Help clean up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A moment with Eric

It’s been a sad time here at Bennettworld. We have been mourning the loss of comedian Eric Tunney, a wit, gentleman and elegance personified.

Eric’s death has hit me hard on a number of levels. I remember having a heart-to- heart with him in Edmonton when I lived there in the early ‘90s. He was on tour and performing at Yuk Yuks. We talked about the business, our insecurities, our dreams. I don’t think Eric was aware of his own magnetism. Being in close proximity to him felt like sunshine. His beauty made me swoon. I never made a play for him; certainly never felt I was in his league. Instead, I stood at the back of the room like the other comics and marveled at his presence.

Much has been made of Eric’s battle with depression. In a Toronto Star article comedian John Wing wrote about a memorial in L.A. with standup veterans and how “we wondered why we’d been successful and he had not, since it had nothing to do with talent.” I know Mr. Wing meant well, but the sentiment comes off as smug. As my ex, writer and comedian Rob Ross remarked, “Eric was loved and respected by his peers, friends and family. That’s success.”

Comedians mask their pain and use it as humour. It’s what they do. When that fails, the will to live fails. The soul shuts down. Depression takes over. It can be a long haul back to perspective again. Reaching out is the hardest thing a person can do, especially a comic. They’re supposed to be funny all the time. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating — there is no shame in asking for help.

I have made it a personal mission to tell my story and help people see a way out of darkness and addiction. I will continue.

Monday, February 22, 2010

An Early Draft of Tiger Woods' Apology

January never happened. Let’s just put January out of our minds. No more mention of January. January is a distant memory. If it happened, which it didn’t. How can we remember something that never happened? Don’t forget that January never happened.

I want to share with you an early draft of Tiger Woods' apology. While I wasn’t the speechwriter, I have it on good authority that this is legitimate.

Tiger Wood’s Apology: Draft 04

Good morning, and thank you for joining me. Many of you in this room are my friends. Many of you in this room know me. Many of you have cheered for me or you’ve worked with me or you’ve supported me.

Many of you may even be jealous of me. I make a lot of money hitting a ball. Millions and millions of dollars. I don’t even know the exact amount of money I make, it’s so much. Let’s just say it’s more than $2000 and less than the U.S. national debt.

I know people want to find out how I could be so selfish and so foolish. People want to know how I could have done these things to my wife Elin and to my children. And while I have always tried to be a private person, there are some things I want to say.

This is none of your god damn business. [note: too emphatic]

I’m a disgrace to men everywhere. [note: more sincere]. If I had sackcloth right now, I’d wear it. I’d also weep and gnash my teeth. Hey, I’d even take a crap on a Nike golf shirt if it meant I’d win other sponsors back. Instead, I am asking for your pity. I want to tell you about the disorder that afflicts me.

I am unable to keep my pants on around women. Okay, some women, Women like my mother or say, my housekeepers — those I can keep my pants on for. Everyone else is fair game. Crossing guards. Agricultural and Fish Product Inspectors. Cabinetmakers. Executive Assistants. Information Systems Analysts. Justices of the Peace. Meteorologists. Purchasing Managers. Shoemakers. Urban and Land Use Planners. All these skanks and more I find irresistible.

I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you. I have made you question who I am and how I could have done the things I did. I am embarrassed that I have put you in this position.

For all that I have done, I am so sorry. So very sorry. Very, very sorry. Truly sorry. Sorry.

I have a lot to atone for. The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. I was a heel and a cad. I was selfish, stupid and careless. Above all, I was caught. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I started living by Warren Beatty’s core values. I have slept with 56, 476 women. I know because I have a machine that tallies the number.

I once heard, and I believe it’s true, it’s not what you achieve in life that matters; it’s what you overcome. Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count. And millions and millions of dollars.

Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.

Did I mention I was sorry? I’m sorry.

I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught. So moving forward, I am converting to Catholicism, where hypocrisy is systemic and well received.

Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me. Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again. I’m like Santa Claus and God rolled into one. Believe in me, so I can continue being obscenely rich.

Thank you.