Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Epilogue)

The Bucket List has been a fun experiment.

So far, the most popular post in the series by traffic was Number Five (Gretzky), while least popular was Number Eight (Merkel).

The drinking angle was really an outgrowth of the excitement I felt about Modern Drunkard's new Clash of the Tightest drinking contest. The famous (living) people angle took a bit of work, but was kinda fun, too.  I was being  genuine, and really had to think about who made my list, and why.  Hell, it was probably more thought than I've put into my blogging in ages!  I kept each entry short (by my standards) and to the point, didn't go into a lot of detail, and tried not to presuppose character.

The real experiment was the writing and scheduling.  If you've been following my blogs or websites (any of them) for any length of time, you'll know that if a post ends with the words to be continued, it probably won't be.  I lose interest, run out of time, get sidetracked, etc, and it's rare to see a series completed.  That's not to say I haven't accomplished that:  my Blog Action Day series "The Power of We" was written over the course of a day, a vacation day I had set aside specifically for Blog Action Day.  My series "A Tale of Entitlement" took a while to complete but eventually got done, thanks to the prodding of a couple of my regular readers.

My original plan was to write The Bucket List as one complete post, in much the same way I wrote the Honourable Mentions list.  But as I started writing, I thought to myself, "CJ, why rip the Band-Aid off quickly when you can slowly pull it off over a period of several days?"

As usual, I had a point.  Anyone who's followed me for years is probably used to the pain, so I decided to present it as a serial.

This time, however, I planned ahead and wrote the whole series ahead of time.  It took a couple of lunch hours to write, and another to steal the pictures from Google Images.  I scheduled each post for 6 AM, which is shortly before I leave the house to catch my bus for work, so I could read it and make changes after the fact during my commute.  On the weekends, I'd read that day's post while I had my morning coffee.

I like the way it turned out, schedule-wise, and am going to employ this method in the future.

Do you know what else I liked?  Not having comments enabled.  I don't know that I'm going to re-enable them, will have to mull it over.  One gets tired of spam and morons.  Of course, I usually announce my new posts via social media (Google+, Twitter, and even Facebook) so, for the time being, if you feel you really must comment, do it there.  Just remember, I'm only polite and respectful to a point.

Join me next time as I (finally) present The Cone of Silence, a piece on distraction-free writing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number One)

CJ's note:  This is the Eleventh in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final synopsis post (which I suppose would amount to twelve posts), as I don't feel like re-enabling them at the moment...

So here we are at the top of the list.  Number One.  The winner.  In my mind, I already knew who would top the list.  Out of the hundred or so people in the running, one name kept standing out whenever I went to trim the list.  There's nobody who could have beaten this person out.  There's nobody in this world alive with whom I'd rather sit back and enjoy a drink or two, even if it would never happen.

So who is our winner?  Who beat everyone else on my list?  Whom shall we send victorious, happy and glorious..?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the world's longest reigning Monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II!

Now here's a person whom I admire, a woman of grace, humour, and dignity.  Someone who has weathered storms and controversies, who has borne the weight of the Commonwealth on her shoulders.

Being of predominantly English descent, my choice of first place belies my roots.  As a Canadian, and part of the Commonwealth, the Royal Family (love them or hate them) has been part of my life from day one.  We've watched all the Royal Weddings, followed them during Royal Visits, cried at the funerals, and laughed at their foibles and missteps.  We sang God Save the Queen at school (the traditional song, not the one by the Sex Pistols), and pledged to "Do our best, do our duty, to God and the Queen" in Cubs.

So, it seems only proper that Her Majesty take the top spot.

I understand that the Queen is a gracious host, has a wicked sense of humour, and drives like a bat out of Hell.  I would love to ride shotgun as she drove us around in her Range Rover, touring the English countryside, before settling in at the Palace for a nice gin, talking politics, English history, kids these days, and soccer.

This concludes my bucket list.  Join me tomorrow for the recap!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Honourable Mentions)

CJ's note:  This is the Tenth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

Before we move on to my Number One, I'd like to call your attention to five people who very nearly found a place on my bucket list:

Tom Waits:  Singer, composer, actor.  Tom and I would close down one drinking establishment before looking for a bootlegger so we could continue drinking and drowning whatever sorrows/demons come to mind.

Jim Heath, aka The Reverend Horton Heat: Jim and I would rock the joint, closing down one drinking establishment before leaving through the side door to avoid the cops and/or jealous husbands, hopping into a Cadillac convertable to escape.

Pope Francis:  That the first Jesuit Pope isn't on my Top Ten will be the source of anguish for years to come.  As a Catholic convert, I would love to sit down with His Holiness to learn, pray, and talk about the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and the Summa Theologica.  All while drinking Trappist beer.

Ben Stein:  Sometime actor, game show host, writer, pundit, and Penthouse correspondent Stein would have at least as many stories as Peter Mansbridge, but also some from The Inside.  Would consume brown liquors and close down the place while talking recent history and politics.

Ron Jeremy:  Speaking of stories, I'm sure The Hedgehog would have several doozies...

That's my list of the also-rans.  Join me tomorrow to discover the badass who beat everyone else on this list, to take the number one spot!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Two, Runner-Up)

CJ's note:  This is the Ninth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

It was a difficult task, putting these ten people (and five honourable mentions) into a ranked list.  Before I started writing these little blurbs, I agonized over who went where, what ranking each of them got - only to rearrange them as I wrote their entries.

Gretzky moved down a notch, Heenan went up several places (he was originally Number Eight), and Putin was supposed to be in third.  But despite all the agonizing, I knew all along who would be in the top two spots.  The problem is, I wasn't sure which of the two should take the top spot!

It took more agonizing and hand-wringing, but it soon became clear.  With that, I give you my Runner-up:

Tonight:  The voice of The National, Peter Mansbridge!

If I were to pick my favourite news anchor of all time, Mansbridge would still be in second place... to Walter Cronkite.  Both anchors were consummate professionals, and both men exuded great dignity and bearing.  However, as Mansbridge is the only one of the two who is still alive, he's the only one who can be on my list.  (Lloyd Robertson was on the list, but was cut early on).

Mansbridge isn't just masculine dignity and a sexy voice, though.  Anyone who's watched Mansbridge One on One knows of the man's interviewing (and conversational) skills!  I'd like to hear his stories about the people he's met and/or interviewed, the news stories he's covered and witnessed, history, Canadian politics, and sports.  While drinking Canadian.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Three)

CJ's note:  This is the Eighth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

Unlike the previous two entries on my list, Number Three is an athlete in only the broadest sense.  In his profession, one is less an athlete and more a performer, a dancer, a showman, or in his case, Greek Chorus.  While certainly capable of holding his own in a physical capacity (by cheating), in his heyday he was more famous for his strategic and vocal contributions to his sport, and his ability to incite a crowd to madness.

He is simultaneously one of the most beloved and reviled representatives of his sport.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you... Bobby "The Brain" (or "The Weasel") Heenan!

Confession time:  I grew up watching wrestling.  I loved wrestling as a kid, when my dad, brother, and I would sit around watching AWA Wrestling on TV.  Eventually, the WWF/WWE supplanted the AWA, but I remained a fan well into my twenties.  Even now, I find myself tuning into a match, or watching old ones on YouTube.

Bobby Heenan was always one of my favourites.  You could always count on his doing something underhanded during a match to propel his charge to victory, and the hilarity that would ensue whether or not the trick was successful.  His pre- and post-match interviews were always something special.

Sadly, I may never get the chance to have a drink with The Weasel, as he isn't in the best physical shape these days.  But if we could, I'd love to have a few beers and reminisce about the old days of the AWA and the early days of the WWF/WWE.

I'd also like to find out if we have a distant familial connection... I used to remark, as a kid, that, at certain angles, The Brain sort of looked like my paternal grandmother.  I found out later that my granny's maiden name was Heenan... that would be odd.  But cool.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Four)

CJ's note:  This is the Seventh in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

The previous entry isn't the only athlete on my list.  This next entry is a high-ranking and competitive Judo enthusiast, who has released several videos and has made a name for himself on the world stage.

Oh, he's also a politician or something...

Ladies and Gentlemen, the current President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin!

I only really "know" Putin by his reputation.  One hears stories in the news (both Western and Eastern media), on social media, and by word of mouth.  Good or bad, statesman or lunatic, leader or atomic supervillain, friend or enemy or some combination thereof, he'd certainly be an interesting drinking partner... and one gets the impression he'd be one of the few who might take me up on my invite!

I imagine a meetup with the Russian President might go one of two ways:  relaxing in a booth, drinking beer or vodka, and talking about history, the Cold War, martial arts, life in the public eye and scrutiny of the West, and personality cults... or a wild night of hellraising, carousing, singing, dancing and alcohol poisoning.

Either way works for me.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ten Famous People: A Bucket List (Number Five)

CJ's note:  This is the sixth in a series of eleven posts.  Comments are disabled until the final post, as there will be numerous surprises on the list! 

So, here we are, halfway through the list.  Any surprises yet?

If not, this next entry will not surprise you, either.  As an elementary school kid in the late 70s and early 80s, I loved hockey.  We all did.  Most of us played league hockey at the community clubs, we played hockey in the schoolyard at recess, and we collected hockey cards (some of the others still do).  We idolized certain players, and one in particular was idolized the most.

No, not Mel Bridgman this time.  I speak only of one man, one true great...

Ladies and Gentleman, The Great One, Number 99, Wayne Gretzky!

I used to idolize the man who wore Number 99.  Most of us kids did.  Most of us were heartbroken when he was traded to the LA Kings.  I cringe whenever I think of what I did to his rookie cards... coloured on them with markers, cut out him out of the card along with the Oilers' logo to make a collage on my Official O-Pee-Chee hockey locker, played Ninja stars with it...

Hell, I could drink to forget about all the money thrown down the toilet by destroying several (!) Wayne Gretzky Roookie Cards... could have put a couple of generations of Wheelers through university!  But I digress.

Some coworkers of mine had the pleasure of meeting the Great One in an Edmonton bar a number of years ago.  One of the guys had gone AWOL from the group, and when he was spotted going into the lounge, he was asked where he'd been.  "Having a beer with Gretzky," he said, nonchalantly.  The others stated their disbelief, which soon faded when they followed him in.  There, at the table, was Wayne Gretzky.

I've heard stories from others who have met him through similar circumstances, that he's been a consummate gentleman and very accomodating.  Never having met him myself, I'll believe this to be true.  Much like most of the kids on that schoolyard, I'd love to sit down with our former idol, reminiscing about the good times and our own personal Golden Age of hockey.