Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Dad

Dad says hi.

He's in Abbotsford now and while he'll likely be in hospital for a couple of months more, he's recovering well and has nearly become quick enough to beat my sister Kathleen to his desserts.

A lot of people have contacted me lately to share thoughts and feelings and support. If you place any worth in the adage "judge a man by his friends" all I can say is that I'm a god-damned rock star. To everyone who has called and emailed and written and visited in the last few weeks,

thank you.

We all thank you.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Ashleigh's dad took this pic of Graham, dad, and me at convocation, November 14/06. Ash and I got our BA's, Jeremy got his MA, Larissa her PhD, all super cool.

Dad could make it out because he has cashed out his RSP's and bought a couple of trucks: he's driving again for the first time in about 10 years. Or he was. On Sunday, driving through a blizzard on the Koke, another truck hit the brakes in front of him and he smashed into it. Three rolls of paper weighing 36 000 pounds went through the cab of his truck and deposited the upper half of it on top of the engine in the trailer of the other rig. Emergency crews took three and a half hours to cut him loose.

The impact snapped both of his legs, crushed his knees, and broke his pelvis in what they call a "suitcase fracture". He has two broken ribs and a broken cheekbone and he suffers a pretty thorough case of exposure.

No internal organs suffer damage. No major blood vessels burst - in fact, the doctors at the hospital in Merrit originally thought he just had a few bruises, despite the femur sticking out of his leg. After all, he kept walking on it.

The surgery in Kamloops on Monday to pin his leg and pelvic bones back together took six hours. The surgery on Wednesday to rebuild his knees took eight. The doctors say he'll make a full recovery and will likely be playing golf again next summer. When I spoke with him tonight he laughed and complained that the damage to his pelvis and soft tissue might hamper his love life a little for the next few months.

On November 14th my dad went out of his way to tell me how proud he is of me. Now, it's my turn. Who's the Ironman in this photo?

His name is Bill Martin. He's my dad and I'm damn proud of him. The thought of his broken body makes me shudder: fathers aren't supposed to break.

Turns out, dad hasn't.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Chosen One

My friends,

I have grave news for the writers, artists, movie-makers, and benevolent tyrants among us. The great one has arrived. His sense of humour is guaranteed, his prose inspiring and leavened by moral sensibility, his movies shall be superlative and his stewardship of North America and eventially the world will be mandated for the bettership of all. You can tell because he's from Halifax. Bask in the new leader. Go here. Now. He is destiny's hero. And a virgin.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

In the Dark

Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know that the first batch of copies of In the Dark: Stories From the Supernatural has arrived and they look wonderful!

The anthology features, along with pieces from many other fantastic writers, an excerpt from my forthcoming novel Victor. Many of you at the NōD Magazine launch expressed interest in the book so here's how to get your hands on a copy:

1) You can order copies directly from me - they are $21.95 (trade paperback) plus $3.00 shipping, tax included. Yes, I will sign them, if requested.

2) You can order from the publisher, Tightrope Books or check out the list of Toronto booksellers currently carrying their titles here. This means tax but may be more convenient for those of you in the GMT area.

3) Copies of the book may also be purchased at The publishers don't make a lot of money this way but use whatever method of purchase is most convenient for you.

Feel free to spread the word to whomever you think would be interested in getting a copy of the book and I hope to hear back from lots and lots of you!

PS...Jason Christie's book of poetry, I Robot, has just been launched by Edge Books. It may be the best book of poetry you read this year. I highly recommend getting a copy.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Last Supper

Last night I was Judas Iscariot. No, I didn't betray my beloved brother, though he was maddingly obtuse as usual. The role of betrayer fell to Simon the Zealot (beware of zealots) while my girlfriend, Simon Peter, wound up writing the Revelations. Perhaps not surprisingly, I became a revisionist evengelist.

The premise, sitting around a large goblet of wine at the last supper, is to enjoy a meal with Christ the soon-to-be redeemer. The conversation, punctuated by revelations, or "ripples in the wine" shapes the desitiny of the apostles and their beliefs, resulting in a reshaping of the western world as Christianity forms beneath our tongues. The game is still in the development phase and we participated as a beta group at the behest of one of the religious study professors at the U of C, who is planning to present its use as a pedagogical tool at a conference in November.

The game has a lot of potential as a tool to relearn and re-imagine the tenets of Christianity and their later codification and as an intriguing world-building game for intelligent people who need not actually have a comprehensive knowledge of Christianity or even Judeaism. It does need streamlining; Christ as GM is an "anti-GM", he is deliberately vague and deals in parable and metaphor unlike your standard GM whose role is to crystalize meaning and environment. This puts a great deal of pressure on the imagination of the players and I think their characters need traits: beginning the free debate over supper would start more easily if the players had a starting ground with their own characters.

One of the players suggested that the game be removed from the specific setting of Christ's last supper and made into a more generic leader-and-followers model that could be liberally applied to any religious fundament. From the perspective of development of this game for market consumption, that may be a good idea, perhaps even a necessary one...but I heartily appreciated the specific opportunity to grill Christ on just what the hell his beliefs were anyway. Having said that, I think the desire to tackle Jesus would have characterized our group anyway...different groups would play vastly different games. This could be an excellent activity for Church groups, Seminarians, religioun students, intelligent groupings of people from many of the dominant faith backgrounds...I'd love to see what a group of Moslems would do with it.

The mission cards that Christ assigns to his followers at the end of their participation in the revelations are a great touch. The PC gets to choose what either their (future, after the supper) history will be...or what will be their fate. Christ supplies whichever one the player doesn't. I.e., during gameplay I had a revelation that a man who could not die would wander the desert forever, preaching to the sand until he lost the ability to speak. My fate as I related it at the end of my game was to live a great life, become renowned throughout the world in my lifetime, and reviled centuries after my death. Christ (very ably played by the Professor's husband who also teaches religious studies) related my history thus: I was the revisionist evangelist. My preachings and gospels brought many to the church and spread Christianity like wildfire. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with the News of the Lord and the redemption of the people. And the News steadily bore less resemblance to my gospels and the faith took on meanings I never intended and my efforts to stamp my own personality on the body of Christ echoed throughout the congregation as others followed my example. I will never die. I will never be believed again, as my context has been forgotten.

I played a lot of "ego" and "immanence" cards during my gameplay, when crafting my revelations. As you can see, in the hands of a clever Jesus, this really came back to bite me in the ass. The game was marvellous. I would play it again when the beta for a commercial version comes down the pipeline and if any of you folks out there are interested, let me know and I'll pass the info back down the grapevine to the designer who would likely be delighted to have a dedicated group of test subjects.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Some August for YouP

The month ended with a bang. The sound of my head hitting an overhanging shelf at the Lazy Loaf and Kettle for the very last time. The bang was followed by a call to a friend with a sawsall and I sawed the shelf down and wrote a little note to my (former) co-workers. It didn't last an hour without someone editing the writing (loafiteers?) Since the restaurant wasn't about to give me a party (after seven years work) I shut the place down early and went drinking (the photo on the mug all too prophetic - time to hit the road). A few loafers showed up to get me going and the "gang" came en masse from the first night of the Calgary Blowout to help see me off and get ripped...

stone drunk is the only excuse I can possibly come up with for this embarassing little bit of sneakery my darling Ashleigh and her little dog committed upon my prostrate form.

Next day, Ashleigh and I hit the road for Penticton...Ironman weekend. No race for me this time around, but one has to be there in person to sign up for next year - the 25th anniversary race. We stopped to pick up our friend Cassidy's poodle...after all, travelling with a miniature dachshund can't possibly be manly enough (and I am one rugged motherfucker)...and hit the road.

After a spot of car trouble, we traded in the deSoto for something a little better on gas - a Dodge Caravan. I joke, but the minivan was actually better on gas than the "compact" Dodge Caliber that we rented for an earlier trip to Manitoba...basic common sense, really; you can't power a tracter with a lawnmower engine and expect it to be efficient. The upshot is that the Caliber is a piece of shit and the Caravan is a...minivan.
We stayed at the same Campground as last year and - for those interested - I've booked a site there for next year's race. If anyone wants to come out to cheer me on during the race, let me know and I'll add you to the list of folks who'll camp out with us...this pic shows a little taste of the view from our site. Next year's spot isn't right on the water but it's not bad...for the last availible spot at the campground. Our special secret place to stay has become a lot less secret. That and three RV lots have been closed down around Penticton to make room for condos...with another slated for closure this winter. The tourism board in the Okanagan better get off their asses if they still expect tourists. No place to stay=go somewhere else. Pretty basic.

I'm pretty fond of this particular sign...we managed to break every single one of the rules with our little party of women and girly-dogs (and me, now a gainfully employed union-member).

We managed to catch some of the race on Sunday; the swim start - a little smaller than last year's, only about 2350 swimmers - was crazy as usual and I was really impressed with the dedicated core of fans who stayed standing in the water for the 2:20 duration of the swim. Anyone who can't finish in that amount of time is disqualified from the race and given a DNF. There were two guys who were right on the bubble and the racer who made it in under the cutoff probably got the loudest support of any swimmer - including the world champion who was just one of several favorites to win this year's Ironman Canada.

Anyway, the guy who made it got the huge props - and you could see it help. When he heard the crowd screaming he hauled his fat ass out and sprinted through the time zone with less than 20 seconds to spare. His race continued (and I'll bet he rocked the bike) but the fellow right behind him didn't quite make it, though he sported a fine escort of kayaks and volunteers - the triathlon honour guard.

After the bikes started rolling out of town we went for a wander and killed the day roaming Penticton...and as anyone who's ever been foolish enough to disagree with me will attest, we found inviolate proof that Martin Street is a one-way. And that way is law; breaking it will cost you.

Before the race had even finished, racers had already begun camping in line to sign up for next year's race. You see, in order to sign up, you have to be present at 9:00 am the morning after the race - and next year's race is a very big deal. So, I had the joy of pitching my sleeping bag on the lawn (at 8pm, already three blocks from the entrance to the registration tent) and spending the night under the stars while the girls and dogs went back to tents and campfires.

Imagine my shock when the guy next to me turned and asked if I had brought him a Ginger Cream (a huge Lazy Loaf cookie). He was one of my regulars from the restaurant who'd moved to Vancouver a few weeks earlier and turned out to also be a triathlete. That place will haunt me til I rot into dirt. It was cool to see him - it meant I had someone to chat with and, later, someone to help me tackle the FUCKING FIREHOSE OF A SPRINKLER that went off at 1:00 completely soaking us all while we (briefly) slept. While I tried to fend the water off the line with my tiny, nearly flat air mattress, he and a couple of others jumped the sprinkler with a tent fly and some big rocks. We subdued it long enough for someone to find the shut-off valve and kill the water flow.

The night was much colder after that. But at least camping out was completely unnecessary. Turns out, since Ironman is expecting 3500+ athletes for next year, they've completely revamped their signup process. They had everyone processed by 11:00am - including the people who had a warm, sprinkler-free sleep and didn't bother to show up until 10:00. We're all delighted they finally got their system down.

After signup, I hopped into the minivan and returned to Calgary - the girls have a lakeside holiday planned but I had to start work at my new job on Tuesday. Yes, I work at Telus now. I'm back in the call centre. Yes it's as gay and culty as anyone would guess it to be...but they have a shower room in the parkade for cyclists and a deserted full-service gym availible 24-7. With training, writing, publishing, preparing for grad school, and making sure the rent gets paid, this job fits a whole lot of my bills. Job's a job and they were totally cool to hire me when they know I'm planning to leave in a year. Turns out, my training group are the first full-time CSR's they've ever hired. Crazy market in Calgary, man.

So...that's my last week, more or less...oh, except that I have a picture of Graham's naked ass and balls to post just as soon as I figure out what he did to my camera. Never bet against me over Winnipeg Jets trivia.

Monday, August 21, 2006

call for submissions

NoD is ready to get back into action! He's had a pretty laid back summer, (and hopes you did too.) He's done a bit of traveling, blogging, relaxing and would now like to invite you all to submit to his fourth issue. NoD is quite excited to see all the amazing new work he knows you've been slaving over all summer.

The deadline for submissions for this issue will be September 20th with the release and launch party around Halloween. Why is that you ask? Well, the theme for this next issue will be none other than 'paranormal phenomena'. You guessed it; we want rabid werewolves, hairy witches, gloating goblins, drunken UFO sightings, kleptomaniac ghosts, psychotic headless horsemen, undead murderers- I think you get the point-anything to do with the supernatural. Our mandate and submissions guideline is included below.

Looking forward to receiving your submissions,

Felicia Pacentrilli

PS- I will be taking over as editor of the mag and am excited for an awesome year! Hope to meet you all at the launch party, it's going to be killer! (sorry, couldn't resist)

Our mandate is to provide a nexus for creative communities in the literary and visual arts, on campus and off. To make a place where both new and experienced artists can publish and perform their work in a professional journal that encourages efforts to replace their creative boundaries.

The magazine is currently published as a 5x8 perfect bound codex on white stock with a glossy cover. Interior work is black and white.

Submission guidelines for poetry: 6-8 pages/poems. Electronic submissions are acceptable as attached files, preferably but not necessarily Word files, jpegs, or pdf's with a density of 300dpi or greater. For fiction/prose, submissions under 1500 words will be given preference; they may be complete pieces or self-contained excerpts from longer works. Hard copy submissions are acceptable provided they are print-ready. If you want them returned, please include a SASE and be aware that hard copy submissions may be defaced in the editorial process. Any work submitted in languages other than English must include an accurate English translation.

Visual work follows essentially the same guidelines: 6-8 pages worth of material max, 300 dpi resolution for e-files, SASE with hard copy. Please note, that while we endeavor to alter submissions as little as possible, some reformatting may be required to publish submitted works.

Any work accepted for publication will be published with a 3 line author/artist's biography and a contributor copy will be sent to the artist. Any work that is deemed hateful or hurtful will be refused: NoD Magazine has a strict fuck hate policy.

We publish 3 times a year: in fall, winter, and spring. Individual copies are $6, subscriptions (three issues) are $15, plus a $1.50 shipping charge per copy. To purchase issues, contact us here, email us at or mail a cheque/money order made out to ELSS (English Literature Student's Society) c/o department of English, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW , Calgary AB T2T 1N4.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

a good day in comics

This about sums it up...

Welcome to the new normal.

CV2 Call for submissions

Hey kids --

CV2 magazine is trying to break out of their mold by putting together an issue of the kind of poetry they don't normally publish. The call for submissions is here:


What's your beef with today's poetry? Can't see yourself in the modern lyric tradition -- doing something completely new and different? Then tell CV2 where we can find you!

Deadline for submissions: October 15, 2006

If you are writing anything you think fits the bill, I would encourage you to submit. CV2 is a good magazine that is fairly open to submissions, but for a number of reasons, gets a fairly narrow range of material submitted to them, when they are potentially interested in a wider range of material. So, since they are making a concerted effort to seek out the kind of stuff they don't normally publish, I would encourage you to support them. Their website is and you can find their guidelines there, but this call for submissions is, for some reason, not yet posted on their site.

If you live in Canada, they will accept e-mail submissions. Contact Clarise Foster at if you have questions -- but as I said, the submission guidelines are available online.

-- jonathan

Thursday, July 06, 2006

On Father(s)

I wonder sometimes about the impacts of Fathers, present or absent. My dad was in town a couple of weeks ago to help my brother move. I love my dad. It's good to see him. Playing the most storm-ridden, swamp-mosquito infested round of golf with him and his sister Janet, I marveled at the amount of self that my father and I have in common; how easy it is for us to get along and how frankly comfortable we are in each other's presence.

And yet.

My father was the last of my four "parents" to convert to Christianity. My mother was born again at the behest of her sisters, while she lay in a hospital with morphine coursing through her veins, desperate to believe that she was a good person. She was. But her illness, combined with personal distaste at trying to align her life with a belief system she had earlier rejected, turned her into a crotchety old bitch. She died while selling herself a faith she didn't buy.

Her husband James was devastated by her death. Not one to turn to drink or drugs and always a man of his word, James involved himself in the church, helping youth groups, volunteering time and labour to the creation of non-alcoholic night clubs where kids could dance and party sober. James' faith renewed his hope in the people who surround him. I can not and will not ever fault that.

My dad's wife Maria had surgery a couple of years ago. A massive benign cyst was removed from her body and she emerged convinced that she'd had a near-death experience and she went burnin' to the nearest church to become a believer. Maria is a wonderful woman but surgery is a work of human hands. Controlled and not miraculous. For a more complete understanding of near-death experiences, I suggest becoming a Calgary bike courier. There is no need for an afterlife: the great scam of Christianity has always been the myth of the soul and its continued existence after death. Christ was a helluva guy with some great advice about how to live here on earth. Learn from him on that. Cram heaven. Write a book. Have some kids. Set a world record in cheeseburger eating. Live your afterlife here on earth where you know you truly have some investment in your surroundings.

My father, perhaps in order to save his marriage, perhaps as a way of forming another business network, certainly because he managed to convince himself fully that it's a good idea, has joined his wife in the holier side of their matrimony by joining a particularly virulent and noxious brand of evangelical Christianity called the Victory Church. I used to play some of their sermons during my Sunday morning show on XL radio. They're nuts. Or would be, if they weren't so calculating in their methodology. Perhaps it's more accurate to say they sell nuts.

Seeing my father succumb in this way hurt a great deal more than I possibly could have expected. My dad was the rebel, the strong man who lived his life his way, told you how it was, and showed you how he thought it should be. Yeah, he was the black sheep. That was the measure of strength in his personality. He would tell anyone to fuck off if they weren't shooting straight with him. So, after decades of telling organized religion to pound it, my dad becomes a bible thumping preacher-type. After our round of golf, he hands me a book called "Wild at Heart"; a treatise on how to discover your masculinity within Christianity.

There are two things I have to say about that. The first, dad, is that you never lacked masculinity. I always saw you as a man who represented a masculine ideal of strength. Sure, that ideal is flawed, but the book offers no solutions to those flaws. Its premise and methodology is pedantic, trite, and obvious. And it remains flawed. Second; I have no trouble finding my manhood outside the strictures of the Christian church. My life and body have been consciously shaped and moulded by my will for the last six years. I have an honours degree in the field of my choice, a national award for my work in that field, and a thirteen hour Ironman under my belt. And here's a not-so-secret: anyone can do it, male or female. All it takes is the ability to place your faith in your self. That faith will bring others to you, people who have gifts to match yours and the will to use them.

Dad, your life has been an inspiration to me. You've always been the guy who's done it all and who, on many levels, drove me to do more for myself. You are no less present in my work than mom or my brothers or my lover. Sometimes that work takes the form of a rant. One of the reasons I love you is because I believe you understand that when I tell you how I feel, positive or negative, I'm telling you that you continue to matter; that you still have relevance in my life. So many parents of adult children don't.

Somehow this has become a personal address, rather than a third-person account. Perhaps you'll actually read it. You're welcome to comment, if you do...I don't share your faith but I still want to hear what you have to say, even if we disagree. Have a good week and know that I'm thinking of you as I write my next piece, or drive across the country, or smoke a bowl at a party with some friends, or ride my bicycle up the side of another mountain.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


dandelion has a lot of hair
says his daddy lion beams pride
dandelion smiles and winks
such a pretty birdy
ants frolic in dandelion's
beard he roars roars - mewmew-
shakes his head of majesty

oh dandelion nestled into my bed
you snuggle among the ruddy
clover's roots woody grin in drowsy
where puppys pee good girl, good girl!
seed grassy carpet stain deep beneath
lap up morning's fresh towel shower,
baby jesus likes brisk running

dandelion clever babies tucked
into your toes peeping peep peep
tonight's knotty rustling burst
loose pop pop spread the marmalade
right to the edges savory drip drip
sometimes on the crust fingers
sticky dandy for breakfast

dandelion stoops and groans
oh woe heavy headed dandelion!
dust covers his bed burning
sere blanket muffles drooping
family. taking back brings home the
hoary dandelion thinks it's
too hot for this kind of work

dandelion should shut his
tufts of teeth breaking
like white puss snap snap
snap the satisfying crunch
of bitter sweet christians
dandelion's maw crumbles open
falls, serpentine leaves clutch
at my fucking covers

good bye dandelion,
come again real soon.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

a moment of fricking silence please

A marvelous one has been lost. My baby is gone from me. Olga died this spring and yesterday I sold her body to another man. In all fairness, she had been unwell for a while. I rode her hard, too hard, perhaps and she wasn't young any more.

When I first got Olga in 1997, her name was Shitbox because I had to replace her transmission less than a week after I bought her. Those fuckers at The Beetle Shop took the wreck of my 1973 super beetle for $400 and upsold me to a 1984 VW Karman Scirocco. She was beautiful then; her body was mint and the interior immaculate. I paid $2300 for a car that, unbeknownst to me, had a 4 day life span. When I tried to return the car, they told me to go fuck myself. When I threatened to sue them, they laughed and said "go right ahead". I didn't. I was weak. I satisfied myself with series of complaints to the BBB about their business practices. Every shitty little thing I could think of that they had done, (both with my Beetle previously and with the Scirocco) I filed an official complaint about. I contacted other people who'd been screwed by them. They and others did the same. After a couple of years, the bastards went out of business.

Of course, I still had to replace the transmission in the meantime. I cashed out my RSP's and spent the next 6 months returning to the transmission shop until they finally got the thing installed correctly. Lesson 1 learned: take VW's to someone who knows how to fucking fix them. It took three years and two exhaust systems for Shitbox to earn her new, more loving name. That car could drive sideways down a dirt road at 100km and never leave me feeling unsafe. She road on a rail; I have never had a car that was more fun to drive.

That fun came at a cost and VW's aren't cheap to fix. Parts are expensive, labour is worse. Northland once quoted me $1000 to replace an axle spindle. I found the part I needed on a GTI at Pick Your Part for $14. That and a case of beer to tempt Trevor to come over with his torque wrench got the job done. Lesson 2 learned: the people who know how to fix VW's will rip you off every fucking chance they get.

Eventually, I left my lucrative sales job and returned to school to refound my life. With the money for her upkeep gone, Olga started to fail. Never fond of the commuter lifestyle, she began to overheat in the summer; she lurched and complained when driven to get groceries and perform other housekeeping tasks. Only truly happy when she hit the open highway, she blew her catalytic converter and demanded a straight pipe in order to race with the other girls. Her skin began to sag and develop blemishes. My baby was getting old and worse, she began to stop caring. On long trips, her transmission began to fail; she could no longer keep up though she still got me and Ash to Winnipeg in February 04, Penticton in July 05: when the chips were down, she still did me proud. I am not ashamed to admit that I have a tear on my cheek as I write this. Fuck you. Fuck all of you. She was a good car.

In Feb, one of her CV joints imploded while I was driving to pick up copies of the second issue of NoD. Having spent all of my money on the magazine, I could no longer afford to fix her. When the registration sticker expired I parked her on my lawn. Last week, faced with a need to pay my bills and not enough money to pull off the month and still have water and power to the house I caved and put her up for sale on Ebay. Yesterday, her new owner came by the house and paid me cash to take her away. He loves Sciroccos, she will be his fourth and he hopes to give her a new life in her new home. He might as well have kicked me in the stomach.

I'm glad she's not going to the wreckers. Only once in 9 years did I ever see a Scirocco at the wrecking yard: it was stripped to the skeleton in less than a day. My darling Olga has been spared that fate and I'm sure she'll be very happy in her new home with her new man and his two sons who really seemed happy to meet her. He has a good job; he can do better for her than me. That's the important thing; I just need to keep reminding myself that this will be for the best; the best for Olga.

Take a moment and remember her with me: feel free to reminisce and share stories about Olga and her adventures. Join me as I wish her all the best in her...her new life.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Toronto part 3 the award

All right, I've talked about the reading (amazing) and some of the stuff we saw in the city (damn, I really like Toronto) now it's time for a bit about the reason I went there in the first place. I won an award. Natalie Walschots, bless her werdnerdy soul, nominated me for the inaugural Outstanding Volunteer award from Magazines Canada. She told me nothing of this, so when I got the call from Barb at Mags Canada, I was completely shocked. Nat, you are an evil little sprite. :0)

The award has come with some ups and downs. Winning a national award right at the moment when I finish my degree and hit the job market - definitely an up. Having to skip convocation to attend kinda sucked and Caralee Hubbel's insistence that dANDylion will dictate how the $1000.00 in professional development money will be used; a major down and, as it turns out, completely inaccurate. dANDy has no say in how I dispense the award; the cheque is made out to me and is non-transferable. I just need to apply it to one of Mags' approved training programs, ie Magazines University or the Banff Centre, etc.

Mags Canada offered to pay for my ticket and put me up for the night of the awards ceremony. Fantastic. Would be a pretty lonely ceremony without Ash along so we had to front for the other plane ticket and an additional night at the Hilton (we got a group rate fortunately, thanks to Mags U for that). I had thought that I'd be a shoo-in as a rep for dANDylion at the Mags U, since my plane ticket and accomodations were already paid for but not the case. Turns out we could only send two people and Jonathan Ball and Jordan Nail are both good choices. Jordon wound up not being able to make it because of a death in his family - a horrible thing and horrible timing; I really hope dANDy makes up to him and sends him again next year.

At any rate, the ceremony was nice; we got to meet some cool people: Cindy from Burnt Toast who was accepting for Tony Fouhse, Melissa Edwards from 3Day Novel who adjuticated the very first draft of my book Victor, and the Sellwood brothers who introduced us to a number of people and later (I think it was Dan (?)) gave us a lift back to the hotel. I also got to meet Jon Spencer who's actually coming out to Calgary in a couple of weeks to revamp the circulation program for dANDylion; he's a cyclist, I'm hoping we can hit the trails while he's out here.

Here's a couple of pics:
This picture of me and the awarders causing trouble: the photographer wanted a nice straightforward shot and we were far too busy horsing around. Drove her nuts but hey, when you're charging $7.50 a glass for the wine, better be prepared to deal with some entertainment value.

The actual award: full credit to Mags Canada for the class they brought to the entire event. They put us up at the Hilton, hosted the event at The Old Mill; a truly lovely space in Etobicoke and gave out awards that didn't come from Bob's Plaque Shop. Engraved glass suits me just fine, thank you very much! We shared a table with Cindy from Burnt Toast and Colleen Seto from AMPA who mentioned that the amount of feedback from member mags for these awards was quite year, we'll have to fire it up; I can think of a couple of very worthy individuals I'd like to see up on that podium next year.

Another shot of the award, back at the hotel room. If anyone is interested in learning more about the winners and the awards, you can check out the press release at

I think this is a hell of a good idea; not just because I won it but because this enables the small mags who rely almost exclusively on the labour of their volunteers just to remain alive to reap a little of the glory and reward their best workers in ways that they could not otherwise afford.

This trip was a fantastic experience and I'll tell you something that has quietly imbued the whole experience for me: it doesn't matter how old you get, you still need shiny things to bring home and show your mom. My mom died years ago but nothing just means I take a little pride in myself on her behalf. A huge thank you to everyone who touched this trip somehow and made it a wonderful experience for Ash and made my imaginary mom happy.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Toronto, part 2 the city

While in TO, Ash and I decided to knock off some of the sights and sounds; we visited City/Much, the CBC buildings and, of course, the CN tower. The tower is actually pretty darn big...the highlight for us though was stopping by the University of Toronto campus...magnificent; we were thrilled to find a university like this in Canada. Granted, it's no Oxford but it wasn't bad, not bad at all...and the UofT remains a possibility for both of us in our graduate studies.
One of the first sights to greet us in Toronto...this is why I love the playoffs in Canadian hockey.

St. Andrews Cathedral, right across from the Hilton, where we were staying. Very Scottish and very Cathedral...I'm fascinated by how fascinated Ash was with this place; she's a Buddhist but still gets draw to any Scottish culture icon.

University College at the University of Toronto; built in 1859 as a government effort to prove that advanced education could be supported by the secular government without interference from religious bodies. I still feel the urge to call it Balliol, though of course it's about 600 years out of date. At the far left, a young couple are having professional photos of themselves taken in a small shrub; we visited during convocation and photographers snapping rich kids abounded like bunnies in the grass.

A picture of the CN Tower from the grounds in front of University College. Unlike Calgary, the tower stands alone so you can actually see it from a distance; it isn't dominated by corporate head offices extolling business over civic exhibition.

Glenn Gould patiently listens while Ash and I take turns talking his ear off. I have to say, his accomplishments as a musician and composer aside, he is also one hell of a conversationalist.

The old and the new...the first pic shows the old TO city hall...

and like the city of Calgary, right across the way is the new city hall. I wonder; do they still use the old building for municipal government or has it just become a culture site, like Calgary's? This shot comes from the City building...I suppose the point is that their news staff are always hot on the scene for a story...perhaps a little too hot, though the job they did making this look realistic is quite impressive.
I took some pics from the CN Tower; we got lucky, the visibility was fantastic that day. So the total height of the tower is some 550 metres. We were up about 330 metres of that total height, or about 120 stories. The Hilton, where we were staying, sits in the centre left of this photo. The Hilton, some 4 blocks away from the tower, is 32 stories high. Very cool...we could see well past Toronto and scope out the clusters of towers that marked the central districts of other "cities" from Etobicoke to York.

Of course, you can't do the tower without taking the requisite shot of the ground through the glass floor. I had hoped that the glass floor would be, in fact a glass floor - that would have been very cool. But no, it comprised a few glass panels embedded in the floor. Pretty boring, though still too much for some of the people who were there. Ash herself couldn't work up the courage to stand on it even though she weighs much less than 14 grown hippos.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Toronto part 1, the reading

Ashleigh and I flew out this week to Toronto for the Volunteer Appreciation awards being presented by Magazines Canada. We spent three days there and the highlight of day one was indisputably the impromptu reading hosted by Angela Rawlings at the picnic table behind Coach House Books. In the words of John Barlow...
The movge., Gio you'd have loved tonight's reading,
the quick and graced Impromptu II, 15 people were there for an only 24 hour announced reading at the picnic table
and a majority read and read well. even as the light eased off into night. Arranged by Angela to quickly have a reading with Kevin Hehir so briefly (fwd to him i never wrote down anywhere stable his email when it switched here from St John's, and Colin M(artin) from Calgary "lumpy onion monophony/blogspot" but all these other spectacular others also reading in wild assessment of reading order i'd say it went kevin colin camille greg lynne marianne then 2nd set myself reading all from rotundai read tim posgate's 1st 2 paragraphs re multidiscipline arts and uncreative, then harold rhenisch 11 streams of poetry (read as naturally and for intake as anything, streaming with thrill through the poem, such a great poem, then ross priddle's Civil - with a talk of ross's writing style then rose umbrella and many already knew the poem which felt entirely comfortable inside reading after introducing it with rose's many dimensions as a writer and mind - i say mind now but was saying mystic 'applied mystic in the most thorough way' all the while weaving a thread through the diffrent pieces qua genre politics, (calling my own preference the totalizing of all era and mode 'anything exposed to' and ended with curry's "night frieight" from the cover)
then who read next at that point,

the last readers -
conor green read jason christie's ataxis
and canada post with such p
erfect insight nifting out like a sewer the pacing, then aaron G read, then Angela read a translation of a japanese poet i didn't hear the name then went into lepidopterist, and for those who havent
witnessed the intensity of wind poetry that erupts from other poetry of which they are incapable, they'd realize the kind of power they're dealing with, but even as it was now night people's enthusiasm continued up with further readings additional readings from previous readers, and Conor inspired upon discovering read Kemeny Babineau's
kovalev story from the back cover with a gravity
that wrung, and i think the final poem read

was camille's reading of her leafblower poem
that is just referenced along the edge
of her page in rotunda, a one line poem
poem and title in one, which i felt my collage style would make hard to understand and see for a one line poem/title in one so just edged it framing other poems off the edge of the page
then people talked festively and as we had no washroom use the impulsive led the way to see the last few minutes of carolina's 5-0 win, from the ferret patio with a sharp tv facing out onto the patio under the moon conor reading kemeny and jason from rotunda over the other works from rotunda seriously seemed to delight and all households represented by the people present have a copy

such a great reading, & night,

more on all other threads another time


The reading was wonderful, the result of the hockey game terrible but mollified by good company and conversation; the sort of night my grandfather would call a Fellowship with all the faith and gravy. We call our faith Language but it still needs good company; once again, thank you to Angela and all the Torontonians who helped us feel welcome.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

the grog blog

There has been a lot of drinking just recently. My brother Graham is in town, my otha brother Perry flew in to celebrate his 30th, Andre and Sache celebrated their engagement on Sunday, Ash went and rocked stoopid to the International Noise Conspiracy on Monday, Jeremy defended his MA on Tuesday, Taylor Hicks won AI last night (and yes, I called that from episode #1!) and I'm beginning to feel very fat, very bloated...well at least no gonging will happen during Lilac Fest on Sunday.

Ash and her brother Austin hang in Banff...he came into town for Mother's day to have beer and eggs with us at the Rose 'n Crown after the Mother's Day Road Race.

Andre and Sache, left then right, performing as the consummate hosts at their flying horse engagement party. The two of you are beautiful, we need more of you.

The smiling fellow at the back is my cousin Jeremy, who successfully defended his MA on Derrida and Quantam Mechanics (heavy emphasis on game and chaos theory, as I recall) two days later. Chris Ewart on the left (read _Miss Lamp_, you will be happy in Safeway) and Dave Sheppard with his fiance Tomoko sitting in never knows who will appear when Andre is in the house. BTW, my apologies to anyone whose name I misspell.

Vote for the nose!
Whose nose is bigger? Perry (on the left) or Graham? When choosing a winnter, note the subtle chin-sucking strategy employed by each contestant and be aware that nose size is relative to head size; Perry's massive noggin must be considered and appropriately handicapped.
Here's a helpful close-up; note the length of nostril and the bulbous protrusion at the end.
During the competition, Perry (above) was suffering from a head cold and severe conjestion. Graham was not and has no excuse for the bats living in his cave. But he does get style points for the contemplative expression.

My baby being provocative. mmmm. Lemon.

Ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies. Actually that's untrue. I'll lie to you whether or not you ask me questions. In fact, your input into the conversation has no bearing on whether or not I lie to you. That's completely arbitrary and at my discression. Sorry about that. Or not.

We were joined at the Ranch later that evening by the Other Brother. Devon and Graham have been best friends since first grade and I gotta say I'm glad I got my licks in when I did...tossing the little shit into walls will be a damn sight tougher now that he's got me beat by fifty pounds of Grade A Alberta beef.

Like most of what matters to me, this here is all about family. People try to tell me that "you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family". I think they heard that somewhere authoritative like reader's digest and think that means it's relevant. Who the fuck do you think your friends are? They are your family. The people in these pictures are bonded to me for life, even if I were never to see them again. You can pick your family and you can refuse them. You can love them despite themselves and despite yourself. Their flaws become what matters most about them and when they are gone, recalling those flaws rends your soul. My brothers amaze me, my lover enraptures me and I invite anyone whose life intersects mine to come meet the family.