They’re the words no journalist wants to hear.

“There’s a typo in your story,” said my colleague.

“What?” I quickly flicked through the newspaper to the indicated page. “That can’t be. I read that thing through at least a half dozen times.”

And yet there it was. My eyes zoomed right to it: an extra “s.” It could not have been more obvious if it were circled in cocaine and lit by a disco ball.

I’d written “professionals photographers” instead of “professional photographers.” Crap!

I know: it’s not the end of the world. But the reading public expects a newspaper’s content to be perfect. I’d let them down. On top of that, I imagined staffers at the The Competition shaking their heads, making a “tsk-tsk” sound and noting that “oh, so he’s not as perfect as he’d like everyone to believe.” Double crap!

It’s not the first time a typo has slipped through. Inevitably, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. And, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, an extra “s” is more sloppy than embarrassing.

If you’re looking for embarrassing, the king of them all is, of course, omitting the “l” from “public.”

“The mayor called for a pubic debate on the issue.” “The president was encouraged by pubic reaction to his speech.”

Ouch and double ouch. That is the epitome of cringe-worthy. And yet I have seen it done.

An interesting flip side to that was found in a magazine story I was reading about Brazilians. It read something like, “More and more men are opting to have the hair removed from their public areas.”

A typo in reverse. Now that’s a new one.

I was spurred to share these thoughts by a recent headline I spotted in one of our national newspapers.

It was datelined the United States and read “tenn girls murdered by ‘Speed freak killers’ named”.

My first thought was that the headline writer was using the abbreviation for Tennessee (Tenn.) and had simply forgot to uppercase the “T” and add the period. I was wrong. Because the third sentence in the story mentioned teen girls. So the headline should have read “Teen girls murdered . . . ”

Somewhat less than professional, methinks.

Of course newspaper typos aren’t limited to journalists — sales reps have messed up as well. Viking Woman should know. In another life, she sold newspaper ads and told me the normal chain of command would involve a design person putting the ad together, which would then be proofed both by the sales rep and the person/company paying for the ad. So that’s three sets of eyes before the ad goes to print.

Which doesn’t explain how one supermarket ended up advertising a 99-cent deal on two-litre Cock. I’m going to guess that store manager sprayed Coke out his nose when he read that in the morning paper. On the bright side, he did report an upswing in the number of female customers. I guess size – and weight – does matter.

Another Viking Woman whoopsie involved a small classified ad that was supposed to read “some shift work required.” It appeared in the paper (after passing through the proofing process) as “some shit work required.”

Not exactly a laughing matter at the time but Viking Woman did hear from several sources that various staff room bulletin boards had that ad posted and circled with remarks along the lines of “So you think your job is bad.”

An extra “s”? Yeah, I’m not going to sweat it. But lesson learned: I will be more diligent in the future. Especially if the story involves someone drinking Cock in pubic.

I closed a chapter of my life this week. And by that I mean I finally finished reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. It only seemed like it took a lifetime to struggle through to the end.

Call me a silly optimist, but I tend to go into movies or start books with a fervent desire that the time I’m about to invest in them will be worth the effort.

The restricted version of the poster for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that won't be coming to a theatre near you.

On far too many occasions, however, I’ve emerged on the other side with a “meh” shrug of indifference, neither the journey nor the destination having lived up to expectations.

That’s is how I felt about Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. While I wasn’t overwhelmed by the same tsunami of hype that accompanied The Da Vinci Code (the sound and fury of which cleverly masked what was, ultimately, poorly-written tripe), I’d heard enough positives about the late Swedish writer’s books to give them a go.

Certainly the timing was right – I was, after all, living by myself on a tropical island where the absence of a TV and evenings that plunged into darkness by 7:30 provided the perfect inducement for cracking open a book.

There was a time, when I was much younger and my responsibilities did not extend much beyond finishing homework, where I would cruise through two books a week. My nose buried in the pages, the rest of the world went by unnoticed, so engrossed was I in the adventures of Biggles or John Carter of Mars or whichever unfortunate character happened to be fleeing from Stephen King’s latest monster.

There was no cruising when it came to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or The Girl Who Played With Fire or The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

Larsson’s books are corpulent with details (not the least of which must be every street name in Sweden) and littered with characters, most of whom are of the minor variety and not worth remembering. Did I mention that all their names sounded the same after a while?

While Dragon Tattoo at least had a mystery – albeit a fairly pedestrian one – at its core, the other two were about, well, I’m not really sure, to tell the truth.

Larsson, a journalist by trade, had a few cats to kick as far as the Swedish government was concerned and he gets so busy taking shots at every institution or group or agency that pissed him off that he seems to have forgotten that he’s brought a reader along for the ride.

The plots are needlessly convoluted, the characters little more than ciphers: mouths Larsson uses to spout his theories, the majority of which are of the conspiracy variety.

Much has been made about how fascinating a character is Lisbeth Salander. Tattooed, pierced, ambivalent when it comes to bedmates, a brilliant computer hacker. Violent and, at times, bat-shit crazy.

She should have grabbed me by the balls, or at least the throat. And yet I never felt she came alive for me. Probably because Larsson insisted on abandoning her in dark corners for long periods of time, especially in the final volume.

She is a one-trick pony, a carnival freak show.

It took me so long to slog through the books, the act of reading so onerous at times, that I never felt swept along by the flow of Larsson’s narrative current.

I was bored. OK, there, I said it.

And that’s the real crime of the Millennium Trilogy.

Let me add this sidebar: During an online creative writing course I took from New Zealand writer Jill Marshall, she asked her students to submit the first thousand words of whatever piece we were working on. I sent her the first chapter of The Blue Beneath, the sequel to Brown Girls.

One of the notes Jill sent back was to caution me to be very careful about using too many different character viewpoints.

Read Larsson and you’ll note how he changes point-of-view willy-nilly, often from one paragraph to the next.

And yet he still became a best-selling writer.

Which leads me to this obvious conclusion: one of my characters needs a tattoo and a nose ring.

I can already hear the cash registers ringing.

Little Old Lady has haunted me my entire journalism career.

I’ve never actually met her but I imagine her to be sour of expression, someone who stands in her front yard shaking her cane at the kids playing in the street, berating them for being too loud, having too much hair, wearing their pants too low and their baseball caps backwards.

She owns a small dog and feeds it slices of cheese even though that nice man on the TV says human food is not good for animals. She knits while she watches daytime soaps and yells at the characters for being gullible fools. She doesn’t answer the phone if it rings during American Idol, thinking only an idiot would dare interrupt quite possibly the greatest entertainment ever invented.

She forgets where she put her glasses. She sometimes forgets to put her teeth in. She believes anyone who survived the Great Depression and the Second World War has the God-given right to bitch about everything and anything.

And, oh yeah, she hates me. Or, more specifically, my writing. In fact, she hates all journalism.

I know this to be true because every newspaper I’ve ever worked for — a Times, a Star, a News, a Herald, another Herald and now a Courier — fear Little Old Lady more than they fear the Internet.

Which is why every story I’ve ever written — every story you see printed in a respectable newspaper — has to pass this litmus test: Will it offend Little Old Lady? If an editor experiences even the slightest niggle that Little Old Lady will take umbrage with the content, the story will be edited or quite possibly  killed.

Little Old Lady enjoys sharing her opinions. Her morals violated by something she finds offensive, she will phone an editor to vent her spleen. Or, even worse, mail (!) a handwritten (!!) letter explaining, in no uncertain terms that, should the paper continue to print such objectionable trash, she will have no alternative but to cancel her subscription. No one has the balls to tell Little Old Lady that the paper is actually delivered free.

I was envisioning Little Old Lady this week while writing a story about a new horse trail. On the surface, this is not the sort of story that would normally raise wrinkled hackles but my plan was to use the word “shirty” to describe some rather nasty people who’d objected to equestrian invaders.

“Shirty” is one of those Kiwi-isms Viking Woman and I encountered when we moved to New Zealand. I know it’s not a real (read: North American) word but I have this sneaky hunch Kiwis use it in polite company when what they really mean is “shitty.”

Is Old Little Old Lady going to read that sentence and not give it a second thought because, after all, that’s how everyone speaks here?

Or will she stop short, raise a weathered eyebrow, clack her dentures in disgust and reach a quivering hand for the phone?

I guess I’m about to find out. Wish me luck.

4 a.m. September 11, 2001

September 11, 2011

The Rarotonga night was hot and sticky. Viking Woman and I had long since kicked the thin sheet aside when the phone rang.

I stumbled out of bed, glancing at my watch as I made my way to the kitchen. 4 a.m. September 11.

Jeane Matenga was on the line. She was my boss at the Pitt Media Group, which runs the lone TV station in the Cook Islands. CITV does not broadcast 24 hours a day but someone from overseas had contacted Jeane and, after receiving that call, she’d driven into the office to fire up the station’s computers. Then she phoned us.

“Turn on your TV,” she said.

The television in our lounge was small and analogue. The reception was iffy at best and all the images had an orange tint because I was never able to figure out how to adjust the colour control.

But none of that mattered to Viking Woman and I that morning. As roosters crowed and stray dogs howled in the humid darkness, we watched in stunned silence as the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

This isn’t real, we said to each other later. This can’t be happening. This is Hollywood special effects. This is science fiction. This happens in other countries, in those barbaric places where strife and human misery and deadly attacks are a tragic way of life.

But this was not a movie. This was real life. This was real people dying in front of us as we stared, transfixed, at an orange screen while the tropical island stirred awake around us to greet a world that had just been changed forever.

We are West Coast Canadians and this was happening on the East Coast of America and yet I still felt rage at those who would let loose a bloodbath of this proportion in what I considered to be my backyard.

This was my way of life and my corner of civilization under attack and I was furious. President Bush, whom I’d always considered a buffoon, made a lot of loud noises about hunting down and punishing the perpetrators and I admit to pumping my first in the air and shouting the equivalent of “F**k, yeah!”

The ripple effect of those attacks reverberated across the world, even to our tiny hidey-hole in the South Pacific. With everyone suddenly very nervous to fly, and the Cook Islands economy based nearly 100 per cent on tourism, the government panicked at the prospect of lost revenue and ordered all departments to slash their budgets by 20 per cent.

That’s how Viking Woman lost her housing allowance. That’s how we were forced to return home.

But home no longer looked the same. We flew into LAX in late October to be met by squads of stone-cold soldiers carrying large weapons and eyeballing all of us as if we were potential enemies. We brought a small dog back from Rarotonga but, judging by the hassle that entailed, you would have thought we’d secreted Osama bin Laden himself up the poor thing’s arse.

I am not terribly worldly. I’m a simple man, content to maintain a tight focus. I have my family and my hockey and my movies and my photography and that’s all I need. I treat others with respect and expect the same in return.

I do not know, nor do I understand, what inflames people to kill each other. For what? To prove your god is better than my god? Does a god who would condone such mindless savagery deserve to be worshipped? We could debate this point for hours but I have better things to do with my time.

I, like all of you, will not be here long. Eighty years, give or take, if I’m lucky. I just want to live in peace, have some fun, be a good person, and then leave behind a better world for my children and my children’s children.

That seemed like an achievable goal until September 11, 2001. Now, I’m not so sure.

A recent casual look through a random magazine revealed a surprising fact: teenagers still produce zines.

My exposure to these self-produced/self-photocopied literary offerings has been limited over the years. That’s primarily because they are usually placed in music stores and I haven’t had much call to visit such an establishment since the Baby Jesus invented iTunes.

We encountered a number of zines when I worked for the Langley Times, inevitably included in the portfolio of every kid looking for a summer intern job.

Looking through them was akin to experiencing a bad acid trip. At least that’s what people told me.

The type would swirl and dance around the pages like the hard copy version of ADHD. Font styles would come and go like a hungry cat through the door flap (a production trait known as “using every crayon in the box.” The writing would be juvenile in scope and style, the artwork crude, the production values pretty much nonexistent.

And yet . . . and yet you could practically smell the teenage spirit emanating from each and every page.

I actually admired the tenacity that went into these desperate attempts at sharing the writers’ opinion with the Great Big World. It’s not easy to create in a vacuum, without any clue at all whether your words are finding an audience. The 20th century equivalent of writing blogs, I suppose, and I’m guessing a lot of those zine-iacs are, this very instant, elbowing me aside as we all compete for our share of the blogosphere.

My favourite zine of all time was called Douche. Partly because of the edgy name, partly because of the superior quality of the writing, but mostly because one of the three 16-year-old girls who produced it was my daughter Brooke.

Brooke is my first-born child and, if reading The Hockey News to her when she was only days old somehow did not manage to impart my love of Canada’s national winter sport, I was pleased to see she did inherit my love of writing.

I asked Brooke about the Douche days and this is her reply: “I loved that time of my life. When you’re 16, every idea you ever have feels like it’s important and must be heard by the world NOW. Having a zine gave you a voice. I also love the DIY spirit. It still exists now, but with less crude tools.”

She then directed me to an entry she’d posted on her blog (www.missteenussr.com) where she notes, “If our goal was to create the most frustrating thing to read in the universe, job well done! Typed up nuggets of anger, love, fear or outrage printed off and Scotchtaped to pages, then copied at my patient father’s office after hours, where we’d make him tend to the printing while we wasted that compressed air in a bottle stuff shooting each other.”

Yes, I did have a small hand in the production of Douche. I would usher the trio through the back door of the Langley Times’ office, fire up all three photocopiers and have at it.

It was a smooth operation, well, except for that one time when the publisher – a pinch-faced Scorpio of a woman – walked in unexpectedly on a weekend.

I quickly explained that the girls were working on a school project and had provided all their own paper. The publisher was kind enough not to point out that, paper aside, they were still using the company’s toner and power.

“It was the most fun I had at that age,” Brooke writes in her blog. “Having a focused way of guiding my writing, so tender and silly back then, was a lifesaver and an early start to this word-strewn path I’m attempting to gallop down now.”

In the end, Douche only lasted four issues (the final cover is included with this posting). Interests changed, best friends drifted apart, and yesterday’s Most Important Thing in the Whole Universe was too soon relegated to Tomorrow’s Fond Memories.

Oh, right, that name. I’ll let Brooke explain: “ . . . Douche, as best as I can remember, was chosen because it was one of those female devices we thought most hilarious and foreign.”

Yup, that’s my girl. I could not be prouder.

I’m a baby boomer and proud of it. Although, truth be told, I actually liked it much better when it was spelled Baby Boomer, before newspaper style gurus and dictionary dorks decided uppercase letters looked too pretentious and we all needed to come down a notch. Or at least a pica.

Today, however, I discovered I’m also a member of Generation Awesome. In fact, as it turns out, I’m the only member.

This new designation came about after I read a story in the Jan. 7 New Zealand Herald (Diss Generation Z? Epic fail, you rental). The story, from the AAP news agency, listed the top 25 “Teenglish” buzzwords for 2009, according to a survey of the worthless little shits valued members of society who make up the so-called Z dread.

At the top of the list? The headline acted as a bit of a spoiler but, yes, it is “diss.”

What does this have to do with a raisin rancher like myself? Well, back in the day, when I was still the Sports dude at the Langley Times, I once confused Lance Peverley, the newspaper’s editor, by using “diss” as a verb in a photo cutline.

Come to think of it, Lance was easily confused by all things sports, but that’s not the point. The thing is, this would have been about, oh, the early ’90s, when the members of Generation Z were still little more than random sperm. A time when the only thing between my future peace and quiet and the thumping bass of a car stereo was a $1 condom.

So, just for the record: I was using “diss” when cellphones were bricks and to use one was to be mistaken for someone calling in an airstrike.

So, yeah, that’s me — Generation of the Totally Awesome.

According to the newspaper, the list also includes “rentals,” meaning parents, which, I assume, is derived from “parental units,” a term belonging to another generation’s wiseasses.

The only other word on the list that I’ve actually used is “meh,” as in “expression of indifference.” Because that pretty much sums up how I feel about Generation Z in general. Come to think of it, I never held out much hope for Generations X or Y either. So far they have yet to prove me wrong.

Most of the other buzzwords are texting shortcuts of the “idk = I don’t know” ilk. I see a lot of those shortcuts used on Facebook — omg, lol, lmao, brb, etc. The whole letters = words thing displays the same amount of creativity and imagination as the book-title jokes I fell off my dinosaur laughing at when I was kid. Rusty Bedsprings by I.P. Nightly is just one classic example that never gets old.

It’s just nice to know I’m so cool and hip as to actually be ahead of the curve for once. It’s gotten to the point where I’m now making up my own texting/Internet language. For instance, when something cracks me up, I simply type “ifodfail.” It stands for “I Fall On De Floor And I Laughing,” which is, I believe, a line from a Simon and Garfunkel song.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only one using that abbreviation, which, you’d have to agree, is the perfect summation of my level of genius. And hipness. Oh, hell, just call me groovy and be done with it.

Although I can’t claim credit for it, my generation has longed used a shortcut that is suitable for just about any occasion, whether it be an angry retort, signing off on a relationship, or simply as a means to the end of a conversation.

It goes something like this: FU.

Compared to that one, you’d have to agree that Generation Z’s buzzwords are kinda, well, meh.

The words in the e-mail’s subject line sent an icy shiver down my back.

Did you know her?

Past tense always equals bad news.

The message contained a link and that link sent me to a story about Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang being killed, along with four members of the Canadian Forces, while on assignment in Afghanistan. Michelle had accompanied the soldiers on a routine patrol to gather information for another story. Sadly, she became that story.

The person who sent me the link knew I worked at the Calgary Herald for eight months in 2007 and, to answer the question, yes, I knew her. At least in passing.

No one will admit it, but there is a distinct hierarchy at major daily newspapers. As a small-town boy in his first stint in the Big League, I certainly noticed it.

The news reporters had attitude, as if their every word was written in gold and sprinkled with star dust. Maybe you need that edge, that ego. Maybe that’s how you stay in The Show, by coming off as slightly superior to everyone else. I never once assumed that attitude through 20 years of journalism — perhaps that’s the reason the past tense is also now used in reference to my newspaper career.

I worked in the Herald’s Features department; most of my duties consisted of pagination. My desk was located on the outer fringes of Editorial, where the lowly worker bees toiled, turning the magic into black letters on a white page.

Reporters didn’t bother soiling their shoes by wandering into our area and so any relationship I had with Michelle Lang consisted mostly of nodding and smiling if we happened to pass in a hallway somewhere.

In fact, the only time we actually held a conversation was when she asked some preliminary questions about a story that fell under her beat as the Health reporter. That was before the Herald’s mucky-mucks nixed the story because it concerned an employee’s relative.

So yes, I knew Michelle Lang. And yet I didn’t know her.

But you don’t have to be friends with someone to mourn their untimely death. Journalists, by the very nature of their job demands, tend to be a brotherhood of sorts anyway, so to see one of us die like that is always going to hurt.

I’m not sure what a Health reporter was doing in a war zone, but I guess it doesn’t matter now. Because the bigger question is this: Why are Canadians in Afghanistan? Why are Canadians dying in Afghanistan?

The hawks among us are going to brandish their swords at this blasphemous thought, but there is no way to win the war on terrorism. Kill one insurgent/terrorist/scared young man, and 10 more step up to strap on the vests. What are you going to do, butcher them all?

Canada and the other coalition countries are doing little more than pissing on sparks while the forest fire bears down on them, destroying everything in its path.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Vietnam War ended and yet the lessons learned there have obviously been forgotten. And the first lesson is this: Good people died and nobody won.

I’m saddened by the deaths of Michelle Lang and the four soldiers. I’m sickened by the thought that they won’t be the last.

In his new biography of former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, Wellington journalist Dennis Welch notes that Kiwis “don’t understand humour.”

Whew! For a minute there I thought there was something wrong with me.

Humour, of course, is subjective. What tickles one person’s funny bone doesn’t necessarily turn someone else’s crank. My children, for instance, practically pee themselves at the mere thought of their father falling down. Me, not so much.

I like to think I laugh easily but I also appreciate a dollop of wit with my funny business. I’m not big on moronic, pie-in-the-face antics but a good double entendre always gets my juices flowing. As it were.

I consider the writers of Two and a Half Men to be masters of the double entendre, even if they do at times stray into the pie-faced territory of the single entendre.

And then I read this in the July 2 issue of the New Zealand Herald’s TimeOut section:

“We’ve yet to meet a single person who will admit to watching Two and a Half Men, yet every week it tops the country’s ratings for the 18-39 market . . . Who are these people and why are you watching this rubbish?”

No one puts their bylines on these kinds of editorial blurts, so I wasn’t sure where to target my wrath. And then I read Welch’s comment and realized, hey, the writer is a Kiwi.

And they just don’t get it.

An Aussie falling down? Hee-larry-ous. Someone talking about eating a woman’s carpet? Huh?

Actually, it goes deeper than that. The writer is a * trumpet fanfare * critic for a TV section. The writer — drumroll, please — needs to be “critical.” And by that I mean controversial. And by that I mean, “hey, look at me!”

I worked for three years with Famous Players, a Canadian theatre chain. I was a syndicated movie reviewer for 15 years. I’ve met a lot of “critics.” I liked very few of them.

You see, these people — all black bo-ho with their berets and messenger bags and French cigarettes and tight pants and pointy shoes (I am not making this shit up) — feel the urge to rise above the great uneducated masses.

For instance, if you love the same film millions of movie fans are going ga-ga over, then you are just one more voice in the chorus of approval. No one will remember your review because you are simply agreeing with everyone else.

However, should your review rip a movie to shreds (ideally because it can’t hold a projector bulb to the work of some 19th century Russian director), then people will be talking about your comments. They might very well want to string you up with a length of celluloid from Twilight, but at least you will have accomplished your goal — people talked about you. And by you, I mean the narcissitic wanker part of you.

Example:

In 1988, we were all eagerly awaiting the release of Willow, Ron Howard’s followup to such successes as Splash, Coccon and Gung Ho. And then Michael Walsh, writing in Vancouver’s The Province newspaper, slagged it. We in the industry were gutted. It’s Ron Howard, for chrissakes, Michael. You just kicked Opie in the balls.

That’s right: the day the review appeared, everyone was nattering on about Michael Walsh. They weren’t talking about Willow. (The fact that, when it came right down to it, Michael was correct about this movie didn’t save him from, soon after, being shifted out of the paper’s Entertainment section and into a copy editor’s desk, where he would be less likely to piss off movie distributors who paid millions in ad revenue for their product.)

It’s right there in Critics for Dummies (or should that be the other way around?): be outrageous and people will turn their attention to you. They may be calling you a “dumb f**k,” but, hey, that’s the price you pay for the spotlight.

The problem is, after awhile readers grow bored by this premeditated buffoonery. A reviewer who is predictable becomes a reviewer who is ignored.

Katherine Monk, she of the Vancouver Sun, falls into that category. Ms. Monk appears to have one rule when writing about a movie: The more vaginas, the higher the rating. For every penis on the screen, take away one star. A movie like The Women? Thirty stars! Out of five!

As a reviewer, I had two rules:

1) Don’t bore me

and

b) If your movie is longer than 2 1/2 hours, you owe my bladder a family-size bag of M&Ms. The good kind. And by good kind I mean peanut.

There’s nothing funny about wetting oneself in a theatre. Unless it’s an Aussie doing it. In that case, even the no-name nincompoop at TimeOut would be roaring.

Attention, ladies: I’m using this blog posting to conduct a poll.

Please tell me which of the following titles makes you go all weak in the knees and want to swoon in my presence:

a) Sir John

b) Baron John

c) Lord John

d) Your Grace

d) The Most Majestic Ruler of Many Fiefdoms

Personally, I’m going for e) King John. Because, let’s face it, we all know it’s good to be king. Plus there’s that whole concubine thing that’s always fascinated me.

What’s put the shine on my armor these days, you might well be asking.

It’s simple really, at least to me. I’m not so sure about you lowly peasants and dung-speckled country folk.

You see, I’ve recently enjoyed a close encounter of the royalty kind. Not that I like to drop names or anything, but let’s just say the fellow’s initials were Prince Edward and the brush with the blue of blood came during his visit to B.C. earlier this month.

Actually, I didn’t personally have the close encounter — it was one of my stories that was so honored.

In 2004, I met a First Nations carver named George Van Meer and proceeded to write about this very talented man for a magazine called Sounder Profiles.

Skip ahead five years and George was chosen to present one of his carvings to the prince. The carving was accompanied by a framed copy of my story.

And, yes, if you want to go all picky on me, that pesky frame will most likely prevent the royal fingers from actually caressing my words. But we don’t let trivial matters such as details poop the party here on Planet Man. Which would explain why I’m now pretty much famous and expect to be treated as befits my new station in life.

And before you turn your heads — thou foul knaves! Thou cottars and husbandmen! — and snicker into your poncy sleeves, ask yourself who among you coarse commonors has their words stored in the Royal Gift Closet, between the mummified kangaroo and the witch doctor’s amulet from Botswana.

No? Just as I surmised. Hah and double-hah!

I’m reasonably positive an accolade of this magnitude gives me permission to drive through town, honking the horn while waving at all the loyal subjects of the Commonwealth. Some of them actually wave back. Although, considering most of them are using but one finger, I’m not sure they understand the true grandness of my accomplishment.

The problem obviously stems from the fact New Zealand — thanks to a decree by the newly elected government — has reinstated the granting of knighthoods. In their haste to make up for the old government’s obvious narrow-mindedness, Kiwis are now creating Sirs and Dames out of practically everyone who makes the effort to put their hand up.

C’mon, I mean, really, being honored for playing cricket? Hell, everyone who manages to merely stay awake during a game should automatically be made a corgi.

If New Zealand is passing out the royal treatment like so many lollies on Halloween, then it only seems fair for me to step up, point out my byline to Eddie (as we who dwell in ivory towers like to call him) and then take my rightful place at the big persons’ table for afternoon tea. Pass the cucumber sammies, would you, old dear.

Having said that, I will admit adapting to my new status has produced its own set of challenges at home.

For instance, my demand of Viking Woman to drop to her knees whenever I enter the room brought, not instant obedience but, rather, the promise to punch me in the crown jewels when I’m least expecting it.

Which is why, upon reflection, I’ve decided to leave the whole being famous thing to the Windsor Family after all. Before it becomes, you know, too much of a royal pain.

bora-bora-lagoon1Dear Faithful Readers (hi Mom!):

My travel story about my recent sojourn to Tahiti has now been printed in the Calgary Herald.

Here is the link:

http://www.calgaryherald.com/Wild+times+TAHITI/1413071/story.html

This is me being my own PR machine. This is me hoping someone will read the story, slap their forehead and say, “This guy is a brilliant writer! Hire him immediately!” Or, even better: “Give this guy a winning lottery ticket!”

Maybe I’m simply wasting a blog posting on a chilly autumn morning in New Zealand. But, hey, if I don’t toot my own horn, no one else is going to. And, yes, that does sound rude. And, no, I don’t care.