Friday, December 2, 2011

Football, Cruises, and Painting Europe

The Holiday Season has officially started. Sure we’ve seen stores decked out with Christmas displays since Labor Day, but the season really kicked off with the U.S. Thanksgiving  (ha ha. get it? kicked off... Thanksgiving... you know... football... forget it).

I like to think of that holiday as Canada’s second Thanksgiving. We don’t get the day off from work, but we do get to call in sick and sit around the house watching the Macy’s parade and a couple of football games.

I’ve enjoyed the Macy's parade in the past, but now it seems to showcase a lot of pop stars that I've never heard of, and, as it turns out, I'm glad that I hadn’t. Viewers had to endure several "songs" by a number of “musicians” as they (the "musicians") made their way past Herald Square before (we, the viewers) got to the real Thanksgiving treat — football.

I’ve been watching NFL football since I was a kid (and, by the way, here in Canada and the U.S. the game where they kick around a ball for half a day and somehow manage to not score a single point even though they’re aiming at a goal the size of New Brunswick, is called soccer). When I was a youngster my dad and I used to be impressed by the size of the players back then. “Those defensive linemen combined weigh over half a ton”, he’d say, duly impressed. No one would be impressed by that these days. Today’s average women’s tennis player must tip the scales about as much as yesterday’s defensive tackle.

The modern day defensive line makes the ones in my day look like four guys from our high school chess team. And the typical NFL offensive line weighs about the same as your average apartment building.

Soon enough (but not soon enough for my wife) the football season will be over. Then it will be time for the missus and I to depart on our very first cruise!

We might have to re-mortgage the house to pay for this voyage. Part of the cost is the many day trips we have planned at all the various stops along the way. I’m wondering though whether or not we should just stay on the ship and explore it from top to bottom. This ship makes the Titanic look like Scuffy The Tugboat.

But just exploring the ship could get kind of boring, Here’s an idea: instead of having excursions at the ports of call, you could have adventures right on the ship. For example, you could zipline from the bridge right into the upper deck swimming pool. The crew could lower a few lifeboats full of snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts into the shark-infested waters, miles from any port. Or you could bungee jump from the aft funnel. For the real adventurous, you could try your hand at Acapulco-cliff-style diving off the top deck into the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

Maybe we’ll see these things someday, but for now we’ve already booked our excursions. By the way, do we have to keep our passports with us at all times? What the heck am I supposed to do with it while I’m zipping along a steel cable 100 feet above an Antiguan forest canopy? Or where do I put it when I’m snorkelling in Barbados with those sea turtles? Am I supposed to secure it in some water-tight part of my anatomy?

Passports are a necessity these days. In Canada, you need to have your passport renewed every five years at a cost of $85 (I think). In addition, you need to have your application endorsed by a guarantor. At one time the guarantor needed to be a lawyer, doctor, veterinarian, school principle, CPA, pharmacist, or some other reliable professional. I’m not sure how they decided which professions were worthy of such responsibility. My CPA is a dirty rotten thieving sneak, while my bookie is a real upstanding guy.

Remember, when applying for a passport you will need:

- Completed forms
- Personal information
- Proof of citizenship
- Proof of identity
- Fees
- Photos
- Guarantor
- A note from your mommy

Personally, I’d like to see passports that are valid for only six months and cost $1000. In addition, you would need a reference from all of the previously mentioned professionals. This would discourage people from traveling outside of Canada during the winter months. Then they would stay here and do some damn snow shoveling. I can’t do it all myself!!!!

If we enjoy our Caribbean trip, maybe we’ll book our next cruise to the Mediterranean and see Europe.

I think I’d like to see Europe. I’ve never been there. But it seems to me that Europe needs a paint job. I can see from many movies and television shows that several countries on that continent have never bothered to maintain or upgrade any of their buildings — peeling paint, plaster falling off here and there, bricks crumbling or missing. Maybe that’s supposed to be part of the charm and ambience of the place, but to us here in Canada where we need our shelters to be in tip-top shape, one can’t help but get the urge to call in Mike Holmes.

I most recently observed scenes of this state of disrepair while watching the movie The Reader. If you haven’t seen it, the film is about a young man who has a relationship with a woman about 20 years his senior. She’s illiterate, so he reads books to her. In exchange for the readings, he gets a nice bath — a real nice bath.

If the characters in this movie are representative of Europeans in general, then I would guess they’re a pretty clean people. It’s just their buildings that need some sprucing up.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch some football. There must be a football game on somewhere, right?

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