Monthly Archives: February 2014

Size Matters

By Tim Cerantola

If you think heavy traffic, over-crowded subways or wacky mayors are Toronto’s biggest problems, think again. In case you haven’t heard, Toronto has real problems now. I just found out that the CN Tower no longer has bragging right to the tallest pointy thing on the planet.

In fact, it’s much worse than that. The CN Tower has sunk to 5th place and will slip into 6th place within a month or so when One World Trade Center in New York achieves its full height. This is embarrassing.

The tallest tower honors belong to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. At 828 meters, it is 313 meters taller than Toronto’s beloved 515-meter TV antenna. So what, you say? Hey, when it comes to long pointy things, don’t let them fool you, size matters.

Really, check it out at Skyscraperpage.com. They have a listing of all the world’s present and proposed tallest buildings where, not only will you find that the CN Tower has been soundly disgraced, you will find that it has taken a severe verbal beating as a tower has-been. It’s only a matter of time before they start to refer to our tower as the CN Stub.

Now as a typical “Joe” Canadian and former Torontonian, these latest skyscraper developments strike a sad chord within me. The nerve of those upstart Dubai-ians and their Burj Khalifa. Don’t they realize that since Canada’s decline as the “most polite/nice guy” country on the planet, many of us have placed what’s left of our national pride in our freestanding structures?

Really, the fact that Canada could lay claim to the tallest thing sticking out of the ground was pretty much the main reason why many of us even bother to get out of bed and go to work. I don’t know about you, but every time I drive by that tower, I look up and feel good about Canada.

“Look kids,” I’ll say as my heart swells with pride. “It’s the world’s tallest freestanding structure!” Of course they usually respond with a curt but patriotic, “Who cares about a dumb tower? Keep your eyes on the road!”

To think, for years we’ve been able to say that ours is bigger than theirs. People respect that sort of thing. But when you suddenly find your pillar of pride has come up short, you start to lose your confidence.

Sure, I’ve heard talk of getting our tower an extension. I’ve seen ads for those kinds of things in the back of some magazines – but trust me, those things never work. Just as you’re about to say, “Hey, look at me!” They almost always fall off.

My point is, without the CN Tower to boast about, as far as the world is concerned, Canada is nothing but snow, polar bears and cold air masses. 

As for the city of Toronto, in order to merit the “world class” designation they so desperately aspire to; they’re definitely going to need a biggest or largest something-or-other to show off to rest of the planet. San Francisco has its Golden Gate Bridge. Sydney has its Opera House. Paris has the Eiffel and New York City has too many to name. If Toronto doesn’t do something quick, they’ll be stuck with the world’s 6th tallest freestanding structure. And let’s face it, who gives a rat’s backside about a sixth-banana tower?

If only I were Superman, I’d go over to Ontario Place, pull that white golf ball of an Imax theatre out by its roots, fly it to the top of the CN Tower and then bolt that sucker in place. Not only would that give our tower some much needed extra height, it would add a new tourist draw to the tower as Canada could lay claim to the world’s tallest golf tee. God’s golf tee!

I guess this whole mine-is-bigger-than-yours business got started long ago. Historically speaking, “tower-envy” started in 1372 in Pisa, Italy – upon completion of their famous Tower of Pisa.

Indeed, their skyscraping monolith gave Pisa world tower supremacy. People came from all around just to check out the view from its lofty skypod, rising a full 117 feet above the ground. It was said that from the top, on a clear day, you could see for 3 or 4 blocks.

Of course, it didn’t take long (OK, it took over 400 years) before another tower, London’s 320 foot “Big Ben” ended Pisa’s tower reign. (Said Big Ben to Leaning Tower of Pisa: If you have the inclination, I have the time).

Needless to say, the people of Pisa were saddened. Their tower and hence their town, had lost status along with the tourist bucks that came with it. But that’s when something miraculous happened.

Whether it was dumb luck or whether it was the tower’s most frequent visitor, Big-Fat Tony LoPresti – who sat and ate his lunch on the same side of the tower everyday (he refused to revolve with the other diners). Anyway, the tower started to lean noticeably to one side.

Naturally, the first thing Pisa’s town fathers did was ban Big-Fat Tony from the tower. But then something amazing started to happen. The tourists were returning to Pisa to see their tower. People no longer cared about its height. They came to see it for its unique leaning quality. For the first time in history, size didn’t matter.

OK, I guess I’m drifting here.

The point is, it was inevitable that Toronto would one day lose tallest-tower bragging rights. So, why not give Big Fat Tony a call? Imagine, the World’s Tallest Leaning Tower.

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Car Wars and the Modern Day Road Warrior

The other week, my dearest aunt, who is 91 years old and no longer drives, asked me to drive her to a medical appointment. Naturally, I was happy to do her the favour.

Now, to a 91-year-old, getting out of the house, even if only for a visit to the doctor’s, can be quite an event. For days, from the way she talked about it, you would think she was going on a long journey. Seriously, I was surprised she didn’t bring luggage. Anyway, I picked her up and off we drove.

Traffic was very heavy that day and on numerous occasions I was forced to drive a little more aggressively than usual. Needless to say, I had to bend a couple of road rules along the way. As it would happen, I didn’t yield or merge or yerge or mield or whatever it is you’re supposed to do when you see one of these bothersome road signs.

Personally, I always thought a yield sign meant ‘hurry up and merge’ – so, in very thick traffic, I abruptly zipped into the traffic flow. My auntie was not amused.

“My dear, dear boy!” (Translation: You stupid, stupid boy). “You’re not supposed to do that.” (Translation: You are an idiot!).

“I have to get a little aggressive auntie to get you there on time.” I replied.

“If you don’t get me to an early grave first.” She replied.

To be sure, a “Merge” sign is very important as it indicates that two lanes of traffic must blend into one. This is a very important road sign because the laws of physics clearly state that two cars cannot occupy the same space at the same time – unless of course, you’re in parallel universes.

(These two vehicles are obviously in the same universe).

Now, my aunt has always been a little apprehensive when it came to my driving. You see, as a teenager I developed a “reputation” in our family as being a bit unrefined behind the wheel. OK, perhaps my ‘wild behind the wheel’ reputation was a bit deserved as, like many other testosterone toxic teenaged twits back then, only three of the cars’ controls seemed to matter to me; the gas pedal, the steering wheel and, of course, the volume control on the radio. Things like signal indicators, hazard lights and that pedal thing on the floor that, from what it claims in the manual, will actually make the car slow down, well…

Traffic was heavier than usual as I checked my rear and side view mirrors for an opportunity. I needed to make a lane change to get over to my exit. All I needed was the smallest gap so that I could nose my car in. I seized the first opportunity, swiftly squeezing my car into the next lane to the dismayed honk of another driver.

“Oh my gawd!” My auntie shrieked. “Only crazy people do things like that. Have you completely lost your mind?”

“But I had plenty of room auntie.” I pleaded.

“You may think so, but that driver is waving at you – and he’s only using one finger.” She retorted. “You didn’t even signal.”

My aunt comes from the old school of driving – the one where they still give right away to horse drawn carts and always use their signal indicator. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s that annoying little knobby doo-hicky thing attached to the steering column that seems to be connected to that irritating little green arrow light that flashes on your dashboard display.

In defense of my failure to signal, years ago while commuting daily into Toronto, I learned that while negotiating bumper-to-bumper traffic, it was better not to signal your intent. If you do, all the other drivers will immediately know what you’re up to and they’ll close up all the gaps.

Seriously, whenever I signal, I can almost hear all the other drivers conspire.

“Stop him! He’s trying to make a lane change!”

Then, gnashing their teeth in anger, they all squeeze up close together and pretend not to notice me – and then I don’t get to exit until I’m 250 miles down the road, in Detroit!

If you want to get anywhere in heavy traffic, it’s best to take the other drivers by surprise with a swift, spur-of-the-moment lane change. Seriously, in the rare occurrence when the traffic gods smile upon you and some guy actually lets you in, it doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. It probably means he wasn’t paying attention.

Anyway, as we neared the doctors’ office, it seemed that every car on the road was in an awful hurry. Then, a traffic light turned yellow as one, two, three and finally our car zipped through the intersection as I watched the yellow light change to red.

“To think, I survived a Nazi occupation in World War II but it will be a trip to the doctors in 2014 that will be the end of me.”

“Oh auntie, it’s not so bad.” I defended.

“Oh nothing!” She argued. “I shouldn’t have had that bran muffin for breakfast because now, because of your maniacal driving, things are… are…, well, they’re moving. There’s a Denny’s. I’m going to need a pit stop.”

I stopped and my aunt went inside.

I Am A Road Warrior

These days, we modern day road warriors must battle for every inch of pavement we can get. Courteous driving only bewilders the other drivers. Trust me, it’s better if you just yell, flip them the bird and then try to run them off the road.

Anyway, I got my aunt to her appointment safely – that is if you don’t count her elevated blood pressure. It seems that my aunt’s blood pressure was a bit on the high side when her doctor checked.

Auntie said the doctor was pleased with her over all health but was a bit concerned about her high blood pressure – not to mention the pale, wild-eyed look of terror on her face. My aunt assured him that she was fine and that her blood pressure will be idyllic next time – when she takes the bus.

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Calling All Phone Monkeys

by timo cerantola

Telephone solicitations have become a problem at our house as we’ve been getting far too many of them lately, especially at supper time. As a result, we have now instituted a house rule on all telephone solicitations. The answer is always no. We do not do business with telemarketers and we don’t care whether they’re calling to save us money or give us money.

I even wrote a little poem for when telemarketers call.

“Our carpets are clean, our ducts are sucked and our lawn we never spray. Our driveway is sealed, we’re eating right now so please, just go away.”

So, the other night at supper, when the phone rang as per usual, I answered.

“Good evening Mr. Seranantaranoli, my name is Wilma Flintstone and I’m with “yada-yada” (name withheld to protect the guilty) incorporated. I’m calling to offer you something ‘special’. Do you feel you have enough insurance?”

I used my poem on her. She called me a nut and hung up. So I guess the poem works.

Last night I should have used the poem again but I broke our telephone solicitation rule when I heard her voice. When asked if I had the time, I said, with my mouth full, “(crunch, munch) sure, I guess so (munch, crunch). What can I do for you? She had a really nice voice. It kind of felt like I was talking to Angelina Jolie (whom I’ve had a crush on since I was 43).

“Could you answer a few questions for our survey?” She began with her sexy Angelina Jolie voice.

“I guess so Angelina, uh, I mean, sure, absolutely.” I gushed.

Question # 1 “Do you own or rent?” She asked.

“Are you selling home improvements?” I queried. “No, it’s just a survey.” She said.

“We own.” I replied.

#2. “Do you have area or wall to wall carpeting?”

“Wall to wall.” I replied. “Are you selling carpet cleaning?”

“No!” She said. “It’s just a marketing survey.

# 3. What type of vacuum do you own, upright or canister?”

“Ah ha!” I bursted. “Vacuum cleaners. You’re selling vacuum cleaners.” I exclaimed triumphantly.

“No!!!” She said.

“Canister.” I sputtered.

#4. What brand name is your lawn mower?”

You’re oddly curious, I thought. “The Sears brand.” I answered. “What in God’s name are you selling?” I blurted.

If she wasn’t trying to sell me something, maybe she was surreptitiously trying to indoctrinate me into some weird telephone sales cult. She was trying to turn me into some kind of mindless marketing moonie!

“Hurry up and tell me what it is I’m not buying!” I demanded.

She wouldn’t, so I politely said good night and put the phone down. I never did find out what it was that I didn’t want.

Oh well, the next time some phone monkey calls me, I have a new plan. Next time I’m going to say, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now but give me your home number and I’ll call you back when I’m free. By the way, what time do you usually have supper?

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February 17, 2014 · 1:38 pm

The Chocolate Lover’s Creed?

For as long as I can remember, I have suffered with a severe addiction to chocolate. Yes, hello, my name is Tim and I’ve got a bad case of the chocolate jones. I just polished off a Toblerone bar an hour ago.

For me, it all started a few years back when I was accidentally exposed to some astonishingly good chocolate imported from Belgium. There were several people in the room when the box was opened though I was closest, receiving by far the greatest amount of exposure. Within minutes of contact with the substance, symptoms started to appear as my eyes glazed over and then, like some zoned-out zombie, I mindlessly placed my hand over my heart and started to recite the chocolate lovers creed.

“I believe in chocolate. A paste made of the pounded seeds of the cacao tree and blended with sugar, milk and or cream. I believe in Chocolate, one of the prime substances that make life worth living; Chocolate, mixed with truffles, nuts or caramel; often found in the shape of Santa Claus, bunnies, bars and, of late, hearts. I believe God created the universe in six days and that he used five of those days just working on the recipe for chocolate. As a protector of the chocolate way of life, I promise to, in case of attack, defend all chocolate factories, candy bar outlets and the city of Hershey Pennsylvania from all anti-chocolate factions. I pledge my life to the pursuit of chocolate everywhere.”

To those of you not afflicted with these abnormally high chocolate drives, this may all seem a bit ludicrous however, I believe one day medical science will verify that some people are born with an unusually high susceptibility to chocolate.

Only another chocolate fetishist could know the shame of this fiendish addiction. The disgrace and humiliation one feels when having to tell your own child that you bit off a piece of her Peter Rabbit chocolate Easter Bunny in a mad uncontrollable psycho-choco eating frenzy.

The poor child, sadness in her eyes as she looked at the tooth-scared remains of her bunny with half his ear chewed off – then, casting a disdainful glance at her shameless father, a telling chocolate ring moustache around his mouth, looking sheepish and ashamed, “Oh Daddy, not again!”

“I’m so sorry, honey. You know daddy can’t control himself around chocolate. Please, if you can forget this whole chocolate mess and don’t tell your mother, I’ll buy you three brand new Peter Rabbit chocolate bunnies tomorrow!”

But she just stared at me and shook her head. She’d seen it before. Her father can’t hold his chocolate. There he stands, seemingly sincere and apologetic but that glazed zombie-look in his eyes and his hollow chocolate bunny smile tell a different story. A story that one day, they’ll find her chocolate thieving father lying in a gutter stinking of cocoa butter, dressed in rags and eating a family sized Cadbury almond bar out of a paper bag.

I know this all seems over the top but, if you think I am the only one who thinks about chocolate this way, you’ve got a lot to learn. We chocolate extremists are legion and we are growing. It’s only a matter of time before we get our own political lobby and start demanding chocolate be considered a human right protected under the constitution. Remember this warning, chocolate addiction knows no boundaries. It could be your mother, your father, your neighbor or your doctor. It could even be your clergyman.

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February 13, 2014 · 11:36 am

Hey Bonehead, don’t forget Valentines Day!

It’s tough for men to find new gift ideas so soon after Christmas. Valentine’s Day only piles on added stress and, thanks in large part to those weasels at Hallmark Cards, we men are now required to add a special romantic flair to our gift or we’re toast.

On Valentine’s Day men are under tremendous pressure with a special gift that represents how much we love. Seriously, will she hate it? Will she love it? Will she be thrilled? If she throws it at me, will it hurt much?

Granted, a good gift on February 14th and you’re clear right through to the play-offs. Indeed, one thoughtful, well-placed gift here will almost make up for the fact you were born a man.

Each year, statistically speaking, 1 billion Valentines are sent, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card giving day after Christmas. And women are responsible for 85% of all Valentine card purchases. As a side note, condom manufacturer Durex claims its sales rise(?) approximately 25% on February 14th – not to mention more do-it-yourself home pregnancy kits are sold in March than in any other month.

Years ago, in my more romantic days, I took Valentine’s Day quite seriously. Back then, I was working at an advertising studio in Toronto and so, I used to write and illustrate my own cards to send to my wife. My favourite theme was usually “Tim the love God” – which was basically a cartoon caricature of me adorned in gold chains, designer clothes, sun glasses, a chest toupee and all the other things that make women go crazy with desire.

Kids always have it easy when it comes to Valentine’s. They hand out those little cut-out cards at school and, for their mom, they’ll make her some crafty, sticky, paper heart-shaped card with glue splishing out all over the place and naturally, she’ll love it.

“Isn’t that cute.” She’ll titter with delight. “My kids made these especially for me with their own little hands.”

Of course, the man is the one responsible for a more substantial Valentine presentation – and it damn well better make her friggin’ titter or he’s in trouble. He needs a gift that will keep that naked little freaktoid Cupid at bay for another year.

Splishing some glue all over some card to give to her for Valentines will probably get your nose splished all over your face! Personally, I’d like to splish glue all over that Cupid and stick him to a fire hydrant in a dog park.

Now when it comes to love and romance, William Shakespeare knew a thing or two when it came to Valentine time. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate…“.

You see, back in the olden days, that’s all it took. A little poetry and not much else probably kept Bill Shakespeare’s girlfriend happy for the whole year! But in our material world, poetry alone wont cut it because, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways” has devolved into, how do I love thee, let me count my money.

As for poetry, the only poem I know from beginning to end is “Jack and Jill went up the hill…” and I can guarantee you my wife doesn’t want to hear that while we’re making out.

Now, let’s look at the historical facts of romance. Seriously men, the last thing you really want is to be known as a romantic. Really, think of all the most famous romantics and what Valentines did for them.

Remember Romeo of Romeo and Juliet fame?

The guy who practically invented romance got so messed up on love, he ended up killing himself. Indeed, the list of dead romantics is long.

Lancelot of Lancelot and Guinevere? Dead.

Tristan of Tristan and Isolde? Dead.

Paris of Paris and Helen of Troy? Dead.

Samson of Samson and Delilah? Bald and Dead!

And finally, what about Pepe?

No, not that Pepe! For once in your lives keep your minds out of your pants. I’m talking about Pepe Le Pew the lovesick skunk. That poor skunk never even made it to first base with that cat – and then they cancelled his cartoon show.

So you see, most romantics either end up dead, bald and dead or as out-of-work cartoons! Doesn’t say much for romance does it?

Seriously ladies, if you really must know, the quickest way to your man’s heart is through his chest – with a sharp knife.

Anyways guys, Valentine’s approaches. Here’s a solid romantic gift line up. Pick any two: Flowers, chocolate, tickets to a play, candy, jewellery, a love letter, a romantic walk and dinner at a restaurant (and not McDonald’s you cheap bastards).

So, I hope you guys manage to find a way not to screw up like you did at Christmas. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before. You thought she’d love the snow blower. Save her from all that shoveling. That’s what you get when you ask for gift ideas from ‘Biff’ at the hardware store. Think FLOWERS, bonehead! I hate these damned tests of love.

“When I saw you I fell in love,

and you smiled because you knew.”

William Shakespeare

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