Bonne Année 2018 Happy New Year! {Holiday Special, Part II: Getting it all out of your system +PLUS+ With any luck, you won’t be a Utility Duck.}

First off, congratulations to Samoa, whose inhabitants

I understand are already celebrating 2018. Which proves that, when you don’t like the year you already have, just use a little reverse psychology.  Just look them in the eye and say, “Samoa. Samoa, please. Samoa!”

You will sound a bit like Katharine Hepburn after she’d realized she didn’t actually have to move her lips to say her lines and thenceforth froze her mouth into a permanent rictus, that’s what we call the bonus; and, since you never get what you ask for, you’ll get another year.

Samoa, please!  Samoa!!

There’s no planning in any of this, you know.  None.


Next, a New Year’s Message from Susan Dreamy:


This is Susan Dreamy??!! Happy, like, New Year?  OK?

And I’m gonna share my secret with you guys! Of like!? How to have a Dreamy life?


Shhhhhhh! Don’t tell!!

It’s real simple? Just wake up, go out and have yourself a Dreamy Day OK???

Don’t let life get you, like.


And then one day, when you are thinking, you’ll remember you’ve had all those Dreamy days and you’ll think, I had like!?

A Dreamy life??!! OK??!! And then you’ll, like.


Are you having a Dreamy day??? LO freakin’ L??  I am!!??!


The year 2017: Getting it all out of your system

I’ve developed this new superstition about fresh starts and new years, and without even asking you, I can tell you’re already “focused” on what I’m going to say, like golden labs who’ve just heard someone unwrap a cheese slice.

Funny how reality always moulds itself to my desire. Like those coconut tuiles Martha Stewart was always encouraging me to drape over a broomstick when soft, which project remained, like those proverbial twenty-six egg whites, festering at the back of the refrigerator of my mind as I searched for a broomstick that wasn’t attached to a scraggy, urine-colored yacht mop soaking in a pail of muddy water and Pine-Sol.

But I digress. Digress? Hell, I clatter down the spiralling metal staircase of my free-associating metaphors on the Louboutin stilettos of my confusion into a rabbit-hole of What The Frig is he on about now? 

My new superstition is:  You have to get out of your system everything from the nightmare LIFE-IN-DEATH was She who thicks man’s blood with cold, the Whore of Babylon, the stumbling, legs-akimbo bitch-mistress that was 2017, and get it out of your system NOW, Murgatroyd McGraw—or I guarantee you will spend the next three hundred and sixty-five sunrises cursing the day your mother had that second sip of Tia Maria at Trader Vic’s back in September ’63 and ended up passed out in a Beck cab.

“Your dad’s a traveling salesman”, indeed!

So, my little broomsticks, here’s coconut tuile number


timbercrookThanks are due to Timbercreek Property Management.

Here’s a little story that will make you weep with laughter.  On November 1st, 2017, I headed, brave little bald head held high, crystalline tear poised and ready to trickle on command, to the Landlord Tenant Board, to plead for relief from eviction (which I was granted).

My crime:  Admittedly, a little creative accounting with the paying on time scenario, plus, NOT admittedly, the ghastly imposition on my fellow tenants of a worried friend having knocked on my door, on one occasion, late at night.

As I locked the door, I was struck by a pungent, prickly smokiness in the atmosphere, and as I headed down the stairs actual smoke was noticeable and increasing. In a second, I was accosted by a fireman saying, “I’ll help you down, sir”.  The smoke increased to holy crap, there’s a fire in the building, a serious one, too proportions.

As I headed out the north entrance of the building I saw my fellow tenants gathered on the front lawn, and, looking back at the building, I saw the burnt-out shell of what I could identify as apartment 509.

A couple of days later, I learned that the tenant in 509—are you ready?— had doused his female partner with gasoline and attempted to immolate her with a flame-thrower, in the process immolating the apartment.

Shocking, crazy, and I’m not making this up.

I’m happy to say that the woman escaped to the safety of another tenant’s unit, unharmed (at least, un-immolated).

But THANK YOU, Timbercreek, for dismissing the continual complaints about the noise of arguments and abuse coming from 509; and instead focusing obsessively on surveillance of me and my friends’ comings and goings as you attempted to save my neighbours from the life-threatening dangers of creative accounting and a single night of door-knocking.

Gold friggin’ star.

And here comes coconut tuile number


I was stood up for Christmas dinner this year, but that is neither the main nor the heart-tugging-est event of this tuile-tragedy.

On Christmas Eve, while perusing the “No Frills” grocery store flyer, my attention was drawn to a promotion for frozen ducks.

Now, we all know that, as Albert Einstein once remarked, “there’s not much on a duck”; that duck always sounds like a good idea in a 1950’s, classy-date, I’ll-have-the-Cherries-Jubilee kind of way, but is actually not a great idea because no one really likes it; and that it is one of the most labor-intensive meals you can prepare.

I mean, honestly.  Classic French?  OK.  Joint the duck, because legs-thighs must be braised, but breast must be seared; make duck stock from the carcass once you’ve butchered and jointed; skim off the five gallons of fat, with which you are planning to make roast potatoes someday but which will actually live at the back of the fridge with—yes!—the twenty-six egg whites, until you have to throw them both out because you’re moving into a new building; now reduce the stock and make a gastrique (a citrusy-caramel sauce to counteract the duck’s richness; analogous to how you are getting gradually sauced on neat gin to counteract the six hours and counting of the duck’s tedium).

Oh my sweet friggin’ Julia Child… Next step is a short break, during which you update your schedule for the dinner party, completely eliminating “take bath and shave”; and substituting “just wear track pants from laundry hamper” for “black tie”.

Moving along into the home stretch, time the cooking of the body parts for meltingly tender braised thighs but rare seared breast, reheat the gastrique, plate, sauce and garnish the body parts on your best china, serve your guests with a self-deprecating, “oh-it-was-nothing” smile as you listen to their exclamations of wonder, then excuse yourself for a moment; at which point you run to the bedroom sobbing from exhaustion and stress, pop two benzo’s and crawl under the covers, where you remain until Family Day.

Chinese is even worse, requiring as it does steaming your waterfowl with a steamer you contrive with a roasting pan, aluminum foil and a rack, the massaging of the duck (“you like Happy Ending?”) so it will extrude—yes!—the five gallons of fat, then drying the duck skin with a hair dryer.

So I was about to dismiss the whole idea of duck until I read more closely.  The flyer said:

Great prices on frozen utility ducks!

and in a single, stabbing, vertiginous moment, my life changed.

Utility duck.  Some phrases just get you where you live.

Yes, utility ducks. Working ducks. High- (but small)-minded, hard-scrabble ducks, sad-eyed-but-plucky ducks, asking nothing for their life-long sacrifice of service. Giving up their birthright of lazy halcyon days quacking and paddling and sifting algae through their strainer beaks as their comical duck-butts point to heaven.

Instead? Utility. Mowing-lawn ducks. Shoveling-snow ducks. Take out the garbage, garage-sale ducks. Keeping OUR houses beautiful (although their cheap foreign labor, it must be said, is destroying the Ivy League university student economy, one blond, Aryan, Ralph Lauren-clad football scholarship at a time).

Utility ducks die for their country, too.  Think bomb-sniffing ducks, flying in platoons to the Middle East. For stupidity is the better part of valor, and ducks have stupidity like god has green apples. An unlimited supply.

Did I say stupidity?  My apologies: I meant innocence.

But once in a while, Private Mallard wakes up hungover after a poker night, a night spent drinking and whoring in the compound, and then comes predictable tragedy.  Out on a bomb-sniffing mission, Private Mallard forgets itself, quacks the wrong quack at the wrong time and—kablooey!

That’s duck all over.

When you got lemons, make lemonade; when you got duck all over from a foolhardy waterfowl, think “Julia”. Reheat your gastrique and carry out your new culinary masterpiece, Canard éclatant, on a bed of couscous, and warble, “Never let on that anything is amiss!”

But pause before you dig in, say a little prayer for duck orphans, duck widows, for whom Victoria Crosses and Medals of Freedom are cold comfort, no matter how much wild rice with dried cranberries and walnuts you decide to throw at them.


I would be remiss to not mention the ubiquitous seeing-eye duck, noble, obedient. Unfortunately, also ridiculous, due to its slight problem of running around in circles when distressed, which is most of the time. Laughing at blind people is not cool, guys. Not cool.

Don’t ever cook Christmas dinner for someone you’ve just met the night before. Will you promise me that?  Don’t ever invite just anyone for Christmas dinner because you’re lonely and just anyone will do.

Don’t be a utility duck.

Jump back into the pond, sift some algae through your beak, feel the water run right off your back, ruffle your glistening, iridescent blue-green feathers, quack a few crazed quacks of triumph, then dive, baby, dive!

Stick your pointy, feathered butt straight up to heaven and make us laugh, Murgatroyd McGraw!