Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Surprise

I, for one, was astonished at the level of ignorance that came up from people, bluntly, who should know better.

If you don't know what your government is, don't tell me what it should be.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

call for papers

Open Letter is seeking critical and creative submissions for a special issue dedicated humour in experiental poetry.

"Why Are You Laughing" will be guest-edited by Jonathan Ball and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

A common complaint of poetry pundits is that experimental poetry tends to entail a humourless flaunting of critical theory. Yet within this field, there are a number of poets that make use of humour as a literary tactic. How exactly is humour used in experimental poetry, and what are its effects? In what ways could we theorize humour in terms of poetry and language in general? Is humour useful as a destabilizing device, or is it politically benign? Can humour make difficult poetry more accessible to a general readership, or does it provide a pretext for dismissing such work?

Possible topics could include (but are not limited to):

* humour and pop references

* irony and/or the failure of irony

* the absurd

* humour as a coping mechanism

* political uses of humour

* humour as an attack on authority

* shock humour

* specific schools or movements for whom humour is important

Please send proposals (350-500 words) by January 1, 2009 to Jonathan Ball or Ryan Fitzpatrick. If proposals are accepted, final papers will be due June 1, 2009.

Friday, November 28, 2008

untitled (from pronoun)

you daunt me with your knowledge
breadth of reading i cannot know
all that you know

i know how to ride a bicycle
for six hours without

i know how to swim across
a lake filled with
shadows and teeth

i know how to run circles
around the bases
of mountains, and,
how to plummet from
their saw-edged peaks

i know how to raise the
fine hairs from any part
of a person's body
with my breath

i know how to drive a
car sideways, how to drive a
long nail straight, to climb a
tree without branches

i know how to read a book
for its spaces, a government
for the paper its poems
are printed on, a nation
for the colours its currency

i know how to raise adults
and lower children
and why both are necessary

i know the tastes of woods

i know the tapping of guitar
string calluses, the sound
my voice in laughter, the angle
my mouth to mouthpieces

i know a three-year tan line
the cinnamon musk of a
sleeping puppy, the rasp of kittens
licking my ear while i giggle

i know a good photo, a moment
i'll never forget and how to love
a chance encounter forever

i know an idea
comprehended, a strike
of lightning, the
numbness that follows

i know the first person
hates poetry or vice versa


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poverty Gap

Interesting: though I wish Canadian statistics were included in the article. If you want to look further, the OECD's website is here.

Of further interest is this article.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

lego lesson #7

this little brick laid foundation,

this little brick built a home.

this little brick's a two-car garage,

this little brick erected Rome.

and this little brick...

stopped the hole,
silencing their cries.

Filling Station Volunteers (Calgary)

Filling Station Magazine is a locally created, nationally-distributed literary and arts magazine. Filling Station has no specific mandate for content, but we like to bring cutting-edge, risk-taking, and breathtaking work to adventurous readers. We're looking to expand our horizons and invite new members of the community to join us in creating Filling Station.

Visual Editor

Filling Station is on the lookout for a new Visual Editor for 2009. The Visual Editor would be responsible for compiling a section including cutting-edge visual art and write ups about the same. We are especially interested in a candidate who is a member of the visual arts community, can write with confidence about visual art, and who is not afraid to approach artists about the magazine. Those interested in becoming Visual Editor for Filling Station would be invited to our annual AGM in early 2009, when members vote on new editorial candidates.

Audio Editor

With the right editor on board, a new Audio Section could be created to review CDs that are literary in nature (spoken word or poetry), that have band members with ties to the publishing lit community, or that are literary in some way (great lyrics?). We would be most interested in a candidate who is into or involved with both innovative literature and independent music. Those interested in becoming Audio Editor for Filling Station would be invited to our annual AGM in early 2009, when members vote on new editorial candidates.

The Poetry Collective and The Fiction Collective seek members

These are the collectives that read submitted material. Editors email or hand off the work, you are given time to read it on your own, then all members of the collective have a meeting in which they present work to one another that they feel is worthy of going in this cutting-edge magazine. If you a writer or an avid reader, we would be especially interested in hearing from you. Collective members do not need to be voted in.

Filling Station Meetings

Once every two months or so, there are also Filling Station meetings where all editors and collective members get together to receive new submissions, and go through books submitted for review (everyone is welcome to review books and keep the books they review). Even if you are not a collective member, you are welcome to come be part of Filling Station as a contributor to our non-fiction section which includes book reviews, live reviews, interviews, and articles.

Flywheel Reading Series

On the first Thursday of each month at Pages Books on Kensington, Filling Station hosts the Flywheel Reading Series at 7:00 p.m. Flywheel could use some helping hands to make it all come together and to spread the word. Flywheel members do not need to be voted in.

These are all unpaid, volunteer positions (as is every position at Filling Station).

If you are interested in joining, please contact Managing Editor Laurie Fuhr at

Please feel free to pass this email along to anyone who might be interested.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Party of Canada

Party of Canada

Our mandate is to get elected

by selling you to you

so we can profit off you.

We are a democracy party:

we offer lower taxes to more people

and call that a tax savings.

We keep our promise to lower taxes

by renaming old taxes and applying

them to new things that are cheaper.

Bread is next. We know

Canadians appreciate our mandate

and support lower taxes.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Laurentian

Saw an ad posted by the Laurentian Bank on the metro yesterday. A welcoming ad, with a little red-haired girl in a green sweater embracing a little Asian girl. And that's why Quebec institutions don't understand why they're racist.

The Asian kids have been here as long as the Irish ones. Reverse the paradigm and show the non-white kid having agency in the image, for a change. Even if it means taking agency away from the white kid. criminy.

Monday, September 01, 2008

For Better or Worse?

Holy crap. It looks like Lynn Johnston has finished her strip. I grew up reading her books and the strip and, I gotta say, I have a tear in my eye right now while I think of it ending. She was my mom's favourite cartoonist and will always have my respect and admiration for the way she managed to drag the art form kicking and screaming into a new era of social life.

Vilified by readers for introducing the first gay character and harangued by Schultz for killing the family dog when it got too old to be believable, Johnston generally managed to do what so many of her peers fail utterly at - keeping it real. I've always seen her characters in my life and appreciated the wry wit she used to shake up the world around us with her craft.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stifling the Critics

The cutting of funding programs for interactive and multimedia projects in Canada should come as no surprise. The nation's creative communities have long harboured antagonism towards the sullen essentialism of the Conservative party and its corporate neoliberal political enterprise.

"But why," bemoan arts administrators and artists alike, "would they target relevant media like film and internet development?"

Notwithstanding the shot to poets and painters inherent in such questions, the truth is: because multimedia arts and training programs might provide a platform for able critics of the conservative project (for a background on Neoliberalism generally and aspects of its Canadian manifestation, read David Harvey's _A Brief History of Neoliberalism_ and Jeff Derksen's _National Literatures in the Shadow of Neoliberalism_).

Simply put: the possible effectiveness of critical generation that new media artists engage combined with their dependence on public funding and unwillingness to assign their skills to remolding the neoliberal project leaves them both vulnerable and undesireable to government censorship.

Suggestion: use your media to get the bums out of office and be thankful that A) you aren't a poet and completely irrelevant in today's socio-political context and B) you don't live in Russia.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Poking Holes in Montreal

I have no doubt that all who know me have been breathlessly anticipating the hole-poking blog ever since my Darling's return to Montreal.

Well. Here it is. Yesterday we got on our bikes and went riding in the sunshine to the old port. Then we braved the service at a Victoria Square restaurant and ate and drank and generally felt quite romantic and not a little dizzy from sun and imported beer.

You ready?

Then we attempted to ride home only to find some jackass had stabbed holes in the back tires of our bikes and the tires of several other bikes along the street we had parked them. Somehow that dampened the moment.

I have this glorious vision of some seedy little shit giggling as he punks the tire on Ash's beautiful bike with a fleur-de-lis lapel pin. Then he gags on my wrist while I twiddle his tonsils - his hole firmly poked.

Fucking Montreal.

Friday, August 15, 2008

City for Sale

I recently bought a copy of Age of Empires III to while away the lonely hours remaining until Ash gets home. Foolish boy. Even with the graphics settings at minimum quality, the physics generator that kicks in when buildings or ships are involved in the battle scenes overloads the capacity of my four-month-old Toshiba Tecra. Total shutdown, useless gameplay.

So I return the game to Bestbuy for a refund. Truthfully, I do not need new video games with all the work on my plate right now. I tell the service person that I need to return the game. She says "Why?" (I looove one-word sentences). I explain the problem to her. She says they don't refund video games that have been opened. I ask her how I could know the game doesn't work if I don't open it. She begins repeating herself, stating that this is clearly explained on the bill. I point out that I received the bill after the sales transaction completed - not before - and that it can therefore not be a legal contract.

Clearly, I am being difficult. But I just pissed two days away playing a game that doesn't work. The agent explains that I can swap it for another copy of the game. I point out that the problem lies not with the game but the erroneous working requirements printed on its packaging. She confers with a manager (by which I mean she goes out for a cigarette) and comes back saying I can exchange the game for another game. I look at games. The minimum requirements on all of those in the same price range are greater than AOE III. No good. She offers exchange for anything else in the store and we compromise with a store credit. All this means, of course, is that I have no game, no money, and credit at a store that sells nothing I require.

Round 2...

During a meeting with my graduate administrator, she mentions a sale on sporting goods at a Sports Experts nearby. Needing a pair of shorts for yoga class (yoga-another story, another time) I wander over. The sale items are mostly $90 board shorts with Velcro flies. Great for hairless boys with too much money but not really what I'm in the market for. I find a pair of Umbro soccer shorts that'll do the job - they're not on sale but, being only $24, they do fall within my fiscal grasp.

I take the shorts to the till where the sales rep runs the shorts through and thoughtfully informs me that they are final sale - before the transaction is completed. Still smarting from my wasted hour this morning, I ask why that is. She explains that all sale items are final sales. I point out that these shorts are not a sale item. She nods and says "yes but because we are having a store-wide sale, all inventory is a sale item, even if it is not discounted". This is performative language at its best. I ask for the 30-50% discount advertised on the fliers for the store-wide sale. No go. She calmly asks if I've tried on the shorts, disregarding my question completely. I shake my head, no. She offers to let me do so and I decline, satisfied that at least I've been bested by a pro.

The shorts are looking at me now. I have not tried them on, for fear they do not fit.

This pair of small adventures started me thinking again about Quebec retail. Montreal retail, especially. Nothing you buy here ever works. The brand-new Toshiba Tecra, in addition to failing to run any video game more recent than Starcraft (and even those graphics are wonky) also has a faulty webcam and approximately 75g of its 130g memory is sucked up by that horrid Vista OS, with all its incumbent problems (try running Yahoo chat with Vista some time). Furniture, appliances, food - you always wind up having to return to the Vendor to get shit straightened out in this city. Every sale is final because every retailer says so on their bills, whether they are legally permitted to or not.

Theories? Well, Bestbuy says they can't sell that game I opened. That's a lie. The stickers are intact and they assuredly have a shrink-wrapper in-store. I couldn't help but notice a couple of games on their shelves that had clearly been repackaged while looking for a replacement. Sports Experts? They know their staff cover ass before money changes hands. If you care to pick a fight over $30 or $40 worth of merchandise, you have an uphill battle that is simply not worth the stress or the effort. They know this and, because we understand that everything written is true, they preempt the effort with a line on the bill stating said finality with a red stamp for emphasis.

Retail advertising is expensive and in Montreal, where all advertising needs to be done twice by major chains who don't specialize in niche markets, the retailers simply cannot let go of a dollar, once received. And their employees, glad to have a job in this depressed city, work with grit, hanging onto that dollar with screaming nails. Add to this the clear shortcuts the retailers take with their own vendors and you wind up with sub-standard, over-marketed merchandise and a return policy that means you can do whatever you like as long as you don't want your money back...

...I think I'll wait until tomorrow to try on those shorts.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

When Coffee Fights for the People

So, at some time that isn't right now, I'm ordering a sausage on the streets of Toronto and a shirtless Dirty Hippie in a nasty backpack comes up and asks the sausage vendor and I where the nearest McDonald's is located. The vendor - a lovely old German woman - and I confer and give him what we think will be the best bet. He then shares with us why he would be such a dick as to ask a sausage vendor where the nearest McDonald's is located (rather than having a sausage).

He wants a cup of coffee. Assuming that we're incredulous at this pronouncement, he waves a hand at the five or six coffee shops within sight of where we stand and explains: "these guys all rip you off, man. They charge, like, two bucks for a cup of coffee and McDonald's is, like, a buck-fifty and you get a free refill. These guys are all so fucking corporate, they just rip you off and make you bleed."

Now, in fairness, among the many shops were a Second Cup (who ripped me off $20 for internet that they didn't actually provide, the fuckers - but that's another story) and a Starbucks, both of whom fit into the corporate paradigm presented by Dirty, the hippie. But the other three were independent operations. One of them was a free-trade enterprise that proudly announced their lack of internet access and clearly catered to the area's Dirty Hippies.

So how does a place like this get branded "corporate terrorist" in contrast to that real-values paragon of counter-culture down-home values, McDonald's? It's the free refill.

For years, nobody would drink the piss being served at Rotten Ronnie's unless it was cheap and free. But as McD's knew that to muscle all the family diners out of their locations, old-timers raised on free coffee and cheap gas needed a place to sit and kvetch all morning. So McDonald's played hardball, offering the same crap coffee for the same crap price to keep the noise of the revolutionaries to a dull roar.

Fast forward a couple of decades and you see something new happening in Coffee. Starbucks has overturned the cart and found a way to sell a five dollar cup of coffee and make people WANT to pay for it. The coffee is not better, but for a generation that considers Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives entertainment, the packaging of the coffee trumps all other considerations. We live in a moment where the most crucial consideration of lifestyle budget planning is the daily "Latte Allowance".

However, the small shops find a way to fight back. Understanding that foamy milk-swilling yoga-monkeys in Lululemon pants were taught better standards by their parents and would be less willing to whore out to corporate demands if the alternatives offered slicker absolution, the indy shops started selling better coffee at the same ridiculous prices with the same attention paid to coffee accessories - cookies, mints, craft breads, etc. (likewise, Lululemon markets seaweed in their pants, a double-marketing success when it's revealed that there is no yucky seaweed in their seaweed pants - making Lululemon both environmental and conscious).

McDonald's, gearing up for their challenge of Starbucks - the only franchise chain still capable of facing up to them since Subway mistakenly relied on Jared the shrill douchebag nerd for their marketing campaign - quietly goes a step further. They start selling decent coffee. At the same low price, with free refills. Then they market the other crap to combat the Starbucks brand and, at the same time, label all the coffee shops who mimicked Starbucks' model in order to survive as corporate ripoff artists. Only McDonald's has your best consumer interests at heart. Only they will give you, the little guy, a fair shake (they can't call it a milkshake due to the lack of dairy).

We see it everywhere. Wal-Mart, with their roll-back campaign that has devastated wages across the entire globe and lowered the standard of living in Canada and the US to the tune of 4% per annum - making the new poor increasingly dependent on Wal-Mart for their consumer goods and groceries. Fannie-Mae and Freddy-Mac, offering 45 year mortgages to those same poor people in order to give them the allusion of an American dream of home ownership at sub-prime interest rates. Never mind that the industry can't survive on sub-prime income. The government will bail them out. The American dream is a speculative fiction anyway.

And McDonald's and Starbucks, who offer benefits to their employees rather than money and trap them in a minimum wage quagmire that's nearly impossible to escape. You can't take time off to better yourself when you're living on $8/hr. You can't afford real food. Or a bed made of real wood. Or a car that won't break down and uses fuel efficiently.

But Mr. Dirty, frothing shrilly against corporate evil as he challenges both the woman trying to sell sausages for a living and the fair trade merchants across the street as corporate shills just out to gouge your eyes and steal your wallet, he can afford a cup of coffee at McDonald's. Try asking the owner of that franchise where you could find a good sausage on a bun and see what answer you get.

Fuck the revolution for all its stupid assholes.

Tune in next week, when we take a look at who pays Paul Watson's salary and why running down fishermen off Canada's coast is so very, very exciting.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

fat kids

So i’m looking at this American Apparel ad for “the slim slack” and i see what one generally expects to see in one of their ads – notwithstanding their usual pedophilic training project – a skinny girl wearing skinny pants that, we are assured, can be had in over twenty colours.

It occurs to me once more that the increasing apathy and diminished attention spans of the barely adult – and that label applies to anyone under forty – and the wannabe adults has to do with a necessary filtering out of the mixed messages in the media.

Advertising glorifies skinny people. Even the natural beauty campaign spearheaded by Dove generally shows fit models with big boobs and, naturally, firm round butts. Meanwhile, health experts across North America are telling people that’s not normal, that it is okay to be a fat fuck as long as you, you know, get on an exercycle a few times a week for thirty or forty minutes. That way you can be fat and lazy and still minimise your cost on government healthcare.

So, a mixed message. Complicated by airline fuel surcharges compensating for the extra fifty or sixty pounds the average American weighs now compared to ten or twenty years ago. Complicated by numerous studies showing that excess fat makes people more prone to cancer (like smoking!). Complicated by an ad trying to sell you a triple bacon cheeseburger following right on the heels of the ad for skinny jeans. Complicated by the illegality of tobacco ads and the fact that smoking makes you skinny.

The result? Fat kids in skinny jeans who can’t read ads because they stopped giving a shit about anything other than their urges. Know why? Because we can’t agree on anything other than their urges and THAT is what we sell them. You can mix that message but they’ll still get it.

Tune in next week when we return to AA and why showing the labia of a 14 year old girl in ads is actually not a good thing.

Friday, July 18, 2008



filling Station Magazine is thrilled to announce...

The Fourth Annual


Thursday July 31 to Saturday August 2 2008

PLUS: NEW! Small Press Book & Arts Fair, Saturday August 2 1:00-5:00 PM

with media artist performances by local artists Travis Murphy & Anne Koizumi,

Samuel Garrigomeza and The Arbour Lake Sghool


This explosive literary festival once again puts the spotlight on Calgary’s talented writing community, featuring twenty-five poets, performers, and fiction writers that are either locally-based or have strong ties to the city.

Four Amazing Events:

Event A: Flywheel Throwdown!

filling Station's regular reading series pumps us up for the Blow Out!

(Please note the new venue!)

Thursday July 31, 7:30 PM

Pages Books on Kensington

1135 Kensington Road N.W.

Readers: Christopher Blais, Emily Carr, Jocelyn Grossé, Jonathan Ball


Event B: The Big Fat Opera Takeover

Great big literary voices challenge the Pavarotti-sized acoustics of Arrata!

Friday August 1, 8:00 PM

Arrata Opera Centre
1315 - 7 Street SW

Readers: Christian Bok, Aritha Van Herk, Carmen Derksen, Glen Dresser, Ian Sampson, Jordan Scott, Julia Williams

Host: Jonathan Ball

DJ: Geosphere


Event C: Small Press Book & Arts Fair

New addition to the Blow Out! Includes media artist performances by local artists Travis Murphy & Anne Koizumi, Samuel Garrigomeza and The Arbour Lake School starting at 3:00 PM!

Saturday August 2, 1-5 PM

Arrata Opera Centre
1315 - 7 Street SW

Participants: Small pressers, artists, bands, and other folk hawk handmade books, glossy print mags, zines, broadsides, CDs, and other enticing you-name-its.


Event D: The Pantoum of the Opera

There may not be phantoms or even pantoums*, but all manner of words haunt Arrata tonight!

Saturday August 2, 8:00 PM

Arrata Opera Centre
1315 - 7 Street SW

Readers: Craig Boyko, Jason Christie, Melanie Little, Chris Ewart, Clem Martini, Andrew Wedderburn, Sheri-D Wilson

Host: Derek Beaulieu

DJ: Pilgrim

* The pantoum consists of a series of quatrains rhyming abab. The second and fourth lines of the first quatrain recur as the first and third lines in the following quatrain. Succeeding quatrains introduce a new second rhyme, i.e. abab bcbc. The form can include as many stanzas as the poet wishes as long as they follow this structure. The closing stanza opens with the second line of the previous stanza, but the second and fourth lines come from the first stanza. Hence, the last stanza is structured like this: Line 2 of previous stanza Line 3 of first stanza Line 4 of previous stanza Line 1 of first stanza. Most Blow Out readers won’t be reading these!


Of course, there’ll also be books, booze and plenty of filling Station Magazines available for purchase!

All events are absolutely FREE and open to the public. Join us in celebration of Calgary’s booming literary talent!


filling Station gratefully acknowledges the kind support of the following sponsors of Blow Out! #4:






The Calgary Blow-Out! was founded in 2005 as a celebration of Calgary’s vibrant literary community. The former Managing Editor of filling Station, poet derek beaulieu, founded the event out of good-natured frustration when he realized there was simply too much happening in the Calgary literary scene to see it all, and so he created the Blow-Out! as a fête for the community at large. This is filling Station’s fourth annual Calgary Blow-Out!

ABOUT filling Station

filling Station is a locally-based, nationally-distributed literary magazine that is dedicated to showcasing innovative poetry, fiction, drama, film and visual art, and promoting local and international arts communities.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I've been reading a lot poetry and criticism by Louis Dudek lately and one of the inescapables is his ceaseless resistance to Marshall McLuhan's essential concept that the "media is the massage", that how the sign signifies is also what the sign signifies. Dudek rejects the idea of hot and cold media as inhuman at its best and dehumanizing at its worst. Any communicative project that effaces the creative or intellectual effort of the individual person is bad and any such project that celebrates (even poorly) the genius of the individual is good. Thus, Dudek privileges poetry over prose, film over television - especially films that communicate the vision of a single man, such as Chaplin - and conversation over politics.

Here's the kicker: there are two very different modes of thought mobilized by McLuhan here that Dudek rejects together, because Dudek - the eternal pessimist - only seriously considered the negative consequences of McLuhan's cold media. For instance, the TV, that one-way short-circuit to the brain via the optic nerve not only catalyzes the air we breathe into a sodden brain-blanket but it causes tunnel vision, permitting the viewer(s, ad infinitum) a limited, cardboard-tube sight line through its lens. So, by providing an omni - a saturation of the atmosphere - TV creates a uni- the peephole of the screen.

The paradox of the how and the how-perceived came to mind while reading a recent copy of the Mirror. In the classified section towards the back, the various jobs and apartments being advertised are organized in neat columns according to subject matter or city region. With an exception: the telemarketing ads. There are no text-only ads, they all have photo matter and all are larger than column-width, running from 1/16 to 1/4 page in size. The paper makes the effort to treat these ads as regular classifieds by running a line of column-width Telemarketing category-headers across the top of the ads - a confused and rather ridiculous looking endeavor. The bottom of each page is taken by a pair of telemarketing ads at 1/4 and the top of each page contains one ad - a 1/16 on the left page and a 1/6 on the right.

If we scan the ads in reading order then, we get the smallest ad first, the next smallest second and then, moving to our next line of "text" we read the large ads in a line left to right. The first ad features a b/g pic of a young woman's face in closeup with just the mouthpiece of her headset rig in view. The mouthpiece is small, translucent and so unobtrusive that from two feet away could be mistaken for a mole. In ad #2 the picture takes up the top 2/3 of the ad and is a front profile pic of a young black woman with short hair, a smart business collar and a lightweight rig attached to her left ear. On the bottom line, ad #3 has a small picture in the upper left corner of a young woman with a large clunky silver plastic headset of the variety that embraces her entire head. The rest of the ad is black on white text. Ad #4 has a somewhat larger greyscale b/g picture of a similar woman wearing a similar rig with black text overlay. Ad #5, on the right hand page, has a bubble inset of a tough to discern gender neutral person taken from the left perspective (the previous two ads show pics taken from the right) with the head-clamp of the rig omitted from the picture. The final ad#6 contains a large b/g picture, again left-aligned so that the gutter serves as the centre of the ads, of a young woman with short hair, a professional collar and a small ear-mounted rig, though one of lesser quality than the top ads, with an old-fashioned foam baffle on the mic. The only photo perspective that does not treat the page itself as built symmetrically from the gutter outward is the first, smallest ad.

Now let's take a look at the content of the ads, starting with the bottom line: the first ad is for research interviewers for a well-known polling firm. No wage is listed and the only skill required is "proficiency in computer keyboard usage". This ad speaks to the neophyte, the young person who has never done telemarketing but resists trying to sell stuff over the phone. The next ad is a sales ad but has the caption "Sports - Marketing - Sales" for a company that is "revolved around the sports industry [...] currently featured on" and the contact is a yahoo email address. The only skills required are "Sharp learning and listening skills". This ad is also geared to neophytes but clearly targets foolish young people with more interest in sports glamor than insight into what "featured" means (it means they have an ad running there too). Ad #5 is the first ad to carry text in both French and English. Another research company, it is also the first to post concrete skills (type 30-40 wpm, bilingual)and the first to list renumeration ($9.25/hr plus incentives). Ad #6 goes further, seeking sales staff for a b2b sales centre with a guarantee of $14/hr plus commission and minimum 35 hrs per week. This ad, targeting experienced telemarketers, offers no email address, interview by appointment only, and uses insider jargon, mentioning that directory shooters are welcome (b2b centres targe businesses on behalf of other businesses and, while still a tough game, don't have the abysmal refusal rates that retail telemarketing suffers).

I focused on the bottom line of ads first because they are the first ads someone sees who might be looking for this kind of work. They are by far the largest on the page, laid out in a straight horizontal axis, left to right. The searcher's eye gravitates to the big pictures and carries across until an ad that matches his or her skill and interest level is found. Those experienced readers, once they have reached the end of the line will now double back to the start. The next largest ad, on the right page, will catch the returning eye. Ad #2 is directed specifically to experienced telemarketers: the copy notes that previous experience as b2b collectors is required. The numbers are a little shifty, offering up to $17/hr plus commissions for agents and states that a $4000/wk collection rate is attainable. Of course, that isn't actually income for the agents - that's the money they bring in for the company, from which they get a slice. For those pros who deem this a little bit to tough a game for perhaps misleading money, the eye continues to the first, smallest ad. This one simply states: "Hiring. Montreal's top shooters for the most lucrative B2B campaign in town. Minimum 3 years experience", with a phone number. This is the money pot for the veteran telesales agent. Very little fucking around, a direct shot for the career shooter (a directory shooter is one who has the toughness to cold call business listings). Many of the agents who call the company will likely know it already when they get the interview.

So. A couple of layers of reading. The layout of the ads, both internally and on the page according to the dictates of a back-paper classified section, offers a fairly comprehensive read for the discerning eye. The copy of the ads fills in context and collaborative detail. The paradox here is that there really isn't one. Reading text and reading the medium that employs it in this example doesn't actually employ a split in reading the way either Dudek or McLuhan would have you believe. You can read TV the same way. Ditto for the internet - likely the "hottest" medium around according to McLuhan's global village premise. Despite that, it may have the coldest read for no other reason than the overwhelming advantage it offers the individual user who, in Dudek's terms, can celebrate their individuality to an extraordinary degree. That advantage, being cheerfully pursued by what may actually be a majority of users, generates such a thick muting foam of static noise that nearly all of the content is lost.

More people will read those crappy telemarketing ads in the back pages of the Mirror than will read this blog. I fucking guarantee it. So the next time someone tells you that newspapers are dead - hell, the next time someone tells you that print is dead, point them to this blog and explain to them that we're still (really) a gen away from intelligent use of internet filters to remove the static and that the moment we reach that use as a general paradigm, the static will catch up and drown it out. Stay ahead of the crowd. Stay behind the crowd. Either way, as Dudek would heartily encourage you, avoid the crowd. It'll make a poet of you and THAT is the moment Dudek crowns McLuhan, though he generally failed to come right out and say it.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


I tie one end of the twine to you
the other to my sturdiest brown
belt then run away
bearing slightly to the left.

As i run i see the other poles
in the playground, their satellites
set to various speeds and distances.
Some change direction but that

usually knots the cord. Here and there
someone just hops in place. That's a strategy
but they don't seem to get very far.
When tired, they lean on the pole for support.

I run faster. If i strain enough
maybe the wire will stretch a little.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

a poem by AM Klein

Reading "the Rocking Chair" right now, seldom have i encountered a body of poems that hits the highlights and pitfalls of my desire in poetry so well. yes, write things if you like. search language. dream beyond sequence and imagine a home for real bodies - in hurt as well as celebration.

thot i would toss one up that made me very happy:

Commercial Bank

Flowering jungle where all fauna meet
crossing the marbled pool to thickets whence
the prompted parrots, alien-voiced, entreat
the kernel'd horde, the efflorescent pence, --

wondrous your caves, whose big doors must be rolled
for entrance, and whose flora none can seek
against the armed unicorn, furred blue and gold,
against the vines fatal, or the berries that touched, shriek.

How quiet is your shade with broad green leaves!
Yet is it jungle-quiet which deceives:
toothless, with drawn nails, the beasts paw your ground --
O, the fierce deaths expiring with no sound!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

another killer drug

by another leading multi-national pharmaceutical company:

Bayer anti-bleeding drug linked to 50 % higher death rate than alternatives

TORONTO - An expensive drug used to minimize severe bleeding during heart surgery actually significantly increased the risk that patients would die during surgery or in the 30 days following, a Canadian study comparing the drug to two far cheaper alternatives shows.

Called the BART trial, the study found people who received Trasylol or aprotinin (its generic name) were 53 per cent more likely to die than people who received the other anti-bleeding agents, tranexamic acid or aminocaproic acid.

In absolute terms that means for every 100 patients who got aprotinin during high-risk cardiac surgery, six died. For every 100 patients getting tranexamic acid or aminocaproic acid, four died, according to the study, published electronically on Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The risks of aprotinin are greater than its benefits," said Dr. Paul Hebert, a critical care doctor at the Ottawa Health Research Institute and one of the principal investigators in BART (short for Blood Conservation using Antifibrinolytics in a Randomized Trial).

"The two other drugs are safe alternatives."

Given the number of such surgeries performed around the world every year, the difference could translate into thousands of lives. It is estimated that roughly 250,000 high-risk cardiac surgeries are performed annually; use of one of the anti-bleeding agents in high-risk cardiac surgery is standard care, said Dr. David Mazer, one of the lead researchers.

"The BART study has changed the way heart surgery will be done in Canada and around the world," predicted Mazer, a cardiovascular anesthesiologist and critical care physician at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Trasylol's manufacturer, Bayer HealthCare, suspended worldwide sales of the drug last November after Hebert and his research partners notified Health Canada and other international drug regulatory agencies that they were halting the BART trial.

The decision to end the trial early was made on the advice of an independent data safety monitoring board, which spotted the higher rates of death in the patients who received aprotinin.

Bayer has never said whether it plans to try to resuscitate aprotinin. And even with the release of the BART data, it is hedging its bets.

"Bayer will continue to carefully review this article, the editorial and (when available) the underlying data on which the authors have based their conclusions and continue to discuss both the restricted access programs for Trasylol and the worldwide temporary marketing suspension of the drug with regulatory authorities," the company said in a prepared statement.

"When further conclusions are reached, Bayer will communicate publicly."

But an editorial in the journal predicted the drug is done.

"In all likelihood this is the end of the aprotinin story," wrote Wayne Ray and Dr. Michael Stein of the Vanderbilt University Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics in Nashville, Tenn.

Aprotinin and the other anti-bleeding drugs have been used for years to try to lower the risk of major bleeding events during high-risk heart surgeries.

Cardiac surgeons and their teams are aggressive about trying to reduce the need for blood transfusions, said Dr. Martin London, an anesthesiologist who specializes in cardiovascular surgeries at the University of California, San Francisco.

"Bleeding in cardiac surgery has profound consequences and can cause mortality both acutely and then later on," London explained. "We've got plenty of observational data that suggests that the more blood you got during surgery the worse your outcome is long-term."

Over time it seemed aprotinin was more effective than the other two and Bayer marketed it aggressively, London said.

The drug cost substantially more than the alternatives. During the course of the study, aprotinin cost between $1,200 and $1,500 per patient, compared to about $150 per patient for tranexamic acid or aminocaproic acid. In places where aminocaproic acid is made - it is not made in Canada - that cost could be less than $4 per surgery, the study noted.

No head-to-head trial had been done on the effectiveness of the drugs. So, with funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, Hebert and co-principal investigator Dr. Dean Fergusson of the Ottawa Health Research Institute started the BART trial.

"The Canadians stepped up to the plate in terms of doing the necessary randomized trials," said London, who was not involved in the study. "If the BART study hadn't been done, we probably would still be using aprotinin."

The original plan was to enrol 3,000 patients. At the time the enrolment was stopped, 2,331 patients had been randomly assigned to receive either aprotinin, tranexamic acid or aminocaproic acid during surgery.

Aprotinin did appear to be slightly more effective in preventing major bleeds. But that benefit was outweighed by the increased risk of death.

Hebert said the research doesn't show why deaths were higher among patients who got aprotinin, but the researchers believe the drug's apparent superiority at inducing clotting was both a positive and a negative in this setting.

"Our hypothesis at this point, although we can't prove it, we speculate that it worked a little bit better in preventing bleeding. It also worked a little bit better in causing clotting. And that's why a few more patients died."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

the olive

this poem grunts
as it shoves itself into you
it pushes your head down
and slaps your mouth open

your open mouth
stuffed wetly says
nothing this poem
slobbers on chins
into course hairs
that don't dye
like they should

this poem bent double
can lick its anus
breathe its breath
and dream of the
holes where seeds were

this poem squirts juices
when pressed it explains
consumption as wheezing
as though class
meant caste

this poem sears
other people's meat
seals in their flavours
under glass it can't be seen
for the other poems

Friday, April 11, 2008

Back it up at the Truck

Old School: Back it up at the Truck

Don't miss Old School: Back it up at the Truck!

Featuring readings by: Brea Burton, Emily Cargan, Carmen Derkson, Jill Hartman, Natalie Simpson, Lindsay Tipping, and Julia Williams!

When: Saturday, April 19, 2008
Doors open at 7:00
Reading starts at 7:30

Where: The Truck Gallery
The Grain Exchange (Lower Level)
815 -1st Street SW

Cost: Free!

Licensed: Hell yeah!

Brea Burton would like to report she is saddened by the fact that she can no longer wear jeans and Converse runners with skulls on them to work. She has recently become a downtown lemming, a strange little animal that feeds mostly on chai lattes and stale Easter candy. Her cubicle is small and dimly lit but her heart is big and her spirit bright. Sometimes, she makes jokes about ergonomically correct staplers and cleans under her nails with misshapen paper clips.

Calgary-based Mary Emily Cargan is now under new ownership, following the successful take-over of MEC Enterprises Inc. (formally D-Ed) by Turfcutters International of London and New York. Activist shareholders supported Turfcutters’ hostile bid for MEC Ent., which had shown poor returns for quarters two and three of 2007 predicated on last year’s sharp drop in bog futures. Heavily invested in bog futures, Turfcutters’ take-over of MEC Ent., a specialty player in detritus distribution systems, promises to steadily return shares to their former market value. Investors have so far reacted favourably to the newly installed Board of Directors and their projected restructuring of the company.

Carmen Derkson writes nomadic poetry.

According to Canada Council guidelines, Jill Hartman is a mid-career-writer. Does that mean her career will be over in 5 more years? Aw, who’s she kidding, she’s been at it for at least ten now. A lot can happen in ten years. Or not. Well, here’s to the next ten—it’s all downhill from here. Or uphill. Or maybe this is her hump-year.

Lately, Natalie Simpson spends her days annoying the cat, completing the bar, writing about writing, sporadically blogging, and publishing chapbooks through edits all over press. Her previous accomplishments include poems in Post-Prairie, Shift & Switch, Queen Street Quarterly, The Capilano Review, West Coast Line, and filling Station. Her recent publications include accrete or crumble (LINEbooks 2006) and Dirty Work (aboveground press series #4).

Lindsay Tipping did a lot of writing in Calgary before running away to become a TV star, horoscope writer and music promoter in China. She has been published in filling station, dandelion, house press and various ESL textbooks across Asia. She lives in Toronto...for now. She likes messing with confessional literature. She like lies that are more fun than truth. She likes that place between story and reality where the reader starts to wonder, "Did Lindsay really stab some guy in the heart in a back alley?" Don't worry, she didn't stab anyone.

Julia Williams writes poetry and prose. Her work has appeared in The Capilano Review, The Literary Review of Canada, Matrix Magazine and CV2, and was selected for the anthology Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry. Her first book of poetry, The Sink House, was published by Coach House Books in 2004. She lives in Calgary.

10 Interesting things about sex.

10 things you don't know about sex

Wing Sze Tang reports.

Provided by FASHION Magazine

1: Ready, set, go—there’s nearly no difference in the amount of time it takes healthy men and women to reach peak sexual arousal: roughly 10 minutes.

2: One per cent of adults have zero interest in sex and have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all. Asexuality may be an under-the-radar sexual orientation, but researchers have only just begun to study it. On the other end of the rainbow, an estimated 3 to 6 per cent of the population have some form of sex addiction.

3: Straight, gay or flexible? Recent research suggests women may be “intrinsically bisexual,” and the higher their libido, the more they desire both sexes. In another study, the female subjects—whether they considered themselves straight or gay—were physically aroused by erotic films of both men and women. In contrast, the straight men were excited just by women, and the gay men only by men.

4: Canadian men have, on average, 23 sexual partners in total (notably more than the global average of 13), according to one recent worldwide survey. Their female counterparts reportedly have 10. The hitch? Number crunchers say the finding that men have substantially more bedmates on average than women is mathematically impossible.

5: Beyond its unsexy smell and taste, smoking appears to double a man’s risk of moderate or complete erectile dysfunction.

6: Once upon a time, doctors treated women suffering from “hysteria” by stimulating them to orgasm—a service dubbed “medical massage.” By the 1930s, it was abandoned in favour of psychotherapy.

7: Why do I bed thee? Let me count the ways. U.S. researchers who set out to catalogue all the reasons why humans have sex came up with 237 distinct ones. Among the top 10 motives, women and men had eight in common. A notable exception: “I realized I was in love” came in at number nine for women, but at number 17 for men.

8: Having sex regularly—at least once a week—may promote fertility in women by regulating hormones and menstrual patterns.

9: Male sweat contains androstadienone, a compound that enhances mood and sexual arousal in women. Alas, it also boosts levels of stress hormones. The chemical has been used as an ingredient in men’s fragrances.

10: What’s love got to do with it? Sexual arousal and romantic love activate quite distinct areas of the brain—and love is clearly the more powerful. The latter turns on dopamine-rich regions linked with motivation, and falling in love is not unlike the rush of taking cocaine, hence the addictiveness of a new crush, and the withdrawal-like symptoms of love lost.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

10 Least Accurate Movies - lifted from yahoo movies

  1. 10,000 B.C.

    Director Roland Emmerich is usually a stickler for realism (see: sending a computer virus via Macintosh to aliens in Independence Day). So we hate to inform him that woolly mammoths were not, in fact, used to build pyramids. Heck, woolly mammoths weren't even found in the desert. They wouldn't need to be woolly if that were the case. And there weren't any pyramids in Egypt until 2,500 B.C or so.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  2. Gladiator
    Emperor Commodus was not the sniveling sister-obsessed creep portrayed in the movie. A violent alcoholic, sure, but not so whiny. He ruled ably for over a decade rather than ineptly for a couple months. He also didn't kill his father, Marcus Aurelius, who actually died of chickenpox. And instead of being killed in the gladiatorial arena, he was murdered in his bathtub.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  3. 300
    Though this paean to ancient moral codes and modern physical training is based on the real Battle of Thermopylae, the film takes many stylistic liberties. The most obvious one being Persian king Xerxes was not an 8-foot-tall Cirque du Soleil reject. The Spartan council was made up of men over the age of 60, with no one as young as Theron (played by 37-year-old Dominic West). And the warriors of Sparta went into battle wearing bronze armor, not just leather Speedos.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  4. The Last Samurai
    The Japanese in the late 19th century did hire foreign advisers to modernize their army, but they were mostly French, not American. Ken Watanabe's character was based on the real Saigo Takamori who committed ritual suicide, or "seppuku," in defeat rather than in a volley of Gatling gun fire. Also, it's doubtful that a 40-something alcoholic Civil War vet, even one with great hair, would master the chopsticks much less the samurai sword.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  5. Apocalypto
    This one movie has given entire Anthropology departments migraines. Sure the Maya did have the odd human sacrifice but not to Kulkulkan, the Sun God, and only high-ranking captives taken in battle were killed. The conquistadors arriving at the end of the film made for unlikely saviors: an estimated 90% of indigenous American population was killed by smallpox from the infected Spanish pigs.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  6. Memoirs of a Geisha
    The geisha coming-of-age, called "mizuage," was really more of a makeover, where she changed her hairstyle and clothes. It didn't involve her getting... intimate with a client. In the climactic scene where Sayuri wows Gion patrons with her dancing prowess, her routine - which involves some platform shoes, fake snow, and a strobe light - seems more like a Studio 54 drag show than anything in pre-war Kyoto.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  7. Braveheart
    Let's forget the fact that kilts weren't worn in Scotland until about 300 years after William Wallace's day and just do some simple math. According to the movie, Wallace's blue-eyed charm at the Battle of Falkirk was so overpowering, he seduced King Edward II's wife, Isabella of France, and the result of their affair was Edward III. But according to the history books, Isabella was three years old at the time of Falkirk, and Edward III was born seven years after Wallace died.

    Movie Info |  Production Photos
  8. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
    In 1585, when the movie takes place, Queen Elizabeth was 52 years old - Cate Blanchett was 36 when she shot the film - and was not being courted by suitors like Ivan the Terrible (who was dead by then). And though the movie has her rallying the troops at Tilbury astride a white steed in full armor with a sword, in fact she rode side saddle, carrying a baton. She was more of a regal majorette than Joan of Arc.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  9. The Patriot
    Revolutionary War figure Francis "The Swamp Fox" Marion was the basis for Mel Gibson's character, but he wasn't the forward-thinking family man they show in the flick. He was a slave owner who didn't get married (to his cousin) until after the war was over. Historians also say that he actively persecuted and murdered native Cherokees. Plus, the thrilling Battle of Guilford Court House where he vanquishes his British nemesis? In reality, the Americans lost that one.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos
  10. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    According to this film, in year 2001 we would have had manned voyages to Jupiter, a battle of wits with a sentient computer, and a quantum leap in human evolution. Instead we got the Mir Space Station falling from the sky, Windows XP, and Freddy Got Fingered. Apparently the lesson here is that sometimes it's better when the movies get the facts all wrong.

    Movie Info |  Trailers & Clips |  Production Photos

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Concordia Grad Colloquium and Readings

The Colloquium Committee proudly presents the sixth Annual Concordia Graduate Colloquium, "Anatomy of Passions."

The conference will take place on March 28 and March 29 in room H-762, and features graduate students from Concordia University and universities abroad. Please see the schedule below for more information.

We look forward to seeing you there,

English Graduate Colloquium Committee:
Bassel Atallah, Jennifer Baker, Jean-Francois Bernard, Lizzy Edwards, Megan Findlay, Caitlin Hartnett, Rachel Kyne, Jean-Marc Leblanc, Colin Martin, Valerie Medzalabanleth, Kathleen Ogden, Simon Reader, Katye Seip





All panels held in Room H-762 (Hall Building)

PANEL 1: PENNING PERVERSION 11:30am – 1:00pm
Chair: Colin Martin

Sarah Cochrane, (University of British Columbia)
Psychopathic Feeling: Representations of Affect and Abnormality in Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley

Mariiane Mays, (University of Manitoba)
Blood Runs Thicker Than Water: Perverse Humour(s) in Jean Stafford's The Mountain Lion
Holly Luhning, (University of Saskatchewan)
Humanization of the Rake: Eliza Haywood's Love in Excess

Chair: Caitlin Hartnett

Philip Koch, (University of Manitoba)
Dark Matters: Architectural Resistances and the Productions of Space

David Rozon, (Concordia University)
Architectural Personalities: Deviance in Norman Mailer's The Armies of
the Night

Jennifer Baker, (Concordia University)
Small Sources of Power: 18th Century Service and the Economy of


Professor Allan Pero (University of Western Ontario)
"A Corporal Radioscopy": Lacan, Badiou and Baroque Love

Irish Embassy Pub & Grill—1234 rue Bishop


All panels held in Room H-762

PANEL 3: EXECUTION OF FEELING 10:45am – 12:15pm
Chair: Kathleen Ogden

Stephanie Yorke, (University of New Brunswick)
Affect and Representation in Two Accounts of the Execution of Mary Stuart, or Mary Stuart: Beheaded, and Still Talking Out Both Sides of Her Mouth

Nathan Szymanski, (Concordia University)
Anti-Catharsis and the Passions in Marlowe's Edward II

Rachel Price, (Concordia University)
Stoic Agency in John Donne's View of Death

Chair: Jean-Francois Bernard

Kate Trebuss, (University of Toronto)
Ordering the Elements of Affect: The Language of the Passions in
Paradise Lost

Chris Dilworth, (University of Montreal)
Drives and Affect: Motivation in the Theories of Butler and Sedgwick

Colin Martin, (Concordia University)
When Logic Fails: Nationalism, Marxism and a Place for Poesy

Chair: Valerie Medzalabanleth

Tine Appelman, (Concordia University)
Samuel Pepys: "all alone, like a man out of the world

Natalie Huffels, (McGill University)
Tracing the History of Trauma in Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White

Joan Wry, (McGill University)
Shelley's Mont Blanc: Romantic Affect and the Negative Sublime

Arts Café—201 Fairmount Ouest