Sunday, December 30, 2007

birthday in montreal

been an interesting year. started as a flunky for the phone company. turned that job in for one as a project manager at a marketing firm. wonderful job, really enjoyed it. left to abandon calgary and move with Ashleigh to montreal and attend grad school at concordia. a rougher go. i'm tiring of being poor and intellectual work in montreal pays half what one gets in calgary. and, contrary to popular belief, living expenses are not lower here. prices are lower. taxes much higher. end result is no change but a lowered income. myth busted.

concordia is good - i've struggled to get back into a productive school pattern and spent two months trading illnesses with Ash but have had some scholastic success - namely the Wynne Francis award. the payment comes in at the end of january - not a moment too soon. ALIS cut $4k from my student loans so i don't actually have enough money to get through the year without that help.

i teach english part time. for a third what i would make in calgary. the ELS market is very big here and wages quite low. grill cooks in calgary make more than i do. the experience, i tell myself. do it for the experience. i like the job, so doing for the experience isn't that bad, even though prep work = doing it for the volunteer experience.

ran a record time this summer in the chinook half ironman. record for me, any way. but i had to swallow the $600 entry fee for ironman canada when the start dates at concordia conflicted with the race. recovered from a stress fracture in my femur to beat my brother at the chicago marathon during a heat wave. someone died and 232 people were hospitalized but perry and i both managed to finish before they ran out of water and canceled the race.

housing prices in montreal nearly made it possible for Ash and i to buy a house this year. then it snowed (and i mean snowed) and the roof of the house started leaking. we'll hold off on buying it for the time being.

i'm 34 now. mid thirties. i don't think of 34 year-olds as young people. i guess i had better start since i'm not prepared to think of myself as middle aged. Ash is out of town until tomorrow. i feel lonely. that's new. i guess i'm not such an old dog after all, if i'm still learning new tricks. i wonder sometimes what it was like for my dad, living alone in BC after my parents separated. girlfriends came and went but i imagine he spent a fair bit of time flying solo, right about the age i'm sitting at now.

i never thought that sort of thing would matter to me. being alone. another new trick, or at least a variation. i don't want to be alone. i.i.i. i write that letter far too often. try it this way: solitude is over-rated. and i (dammit!) for one am not more productive in it. three weeks in an empty house have taught me that much at least. time to go to the gym. endorphins help.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

These are Dick Cheney's labs, Jackson and Dave. Jackson is black and Dave is white. Jackson is an evil overlord and Dave is the savior of the world. Jackson shares a name with a black political adversary while Dave shares his moniker with the king of Israel.

The white house released these photos, probably thinking they would be seen as a cute, humanizing picture of the life of the American President, Vice. Tastes rather like another shot from the good ol' boy to the 90% of the world he continues to oppress.

Hey Dick. Nice arrogance, you fat bigot sociopath. Fuck off and die.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

thus since august and the Dalai Lama

Haven't apparently posted a blog since August. That's interesting, given all that has happened since. There was the epic cross-Canada journey with heater blazing amid reddened dachshund nipples (which ended in a rather now-living-in-Montreal sort of state). A Concordianism ensued amidst fevered sweating runs through Jarry Park. That of course culminated in the bus-ride of ought-seven and included a 30th Anniversary Chicago Marathon with all the dead and hospitalized persons such an event demands.

This weekend brought more, some of it in Ottawa. On Saturday, Ash, myself and some of her friends from Concordia drove there and on Saturday, shopping and drinking happened. I shopped for poets at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair and found quite a few. The girls did other kinds of shopping and later the many of us drank - some with poets who continued to be shopped well into the evening. A boyfriend named Geoff joined us and on Sunday morning we ate breakfasts (after, of course, we got out of the prison which had housed us until that time).

Then we went to see his holiness the Dalai Lama at the Ottawa Civic Centre. Here's a synopsis of the event and what was said (please remember that this is a recollection based on hastily written notes):

An introduction by Mark Tewkesbury, following a video highlight reel of his gold medal victory in the Olympics. A winning essay read aloud by a high school student, who states that if we remove bias and corruption, we can all be members of one world-country. I don't at this moment miss my naivete.

A Tibetan opera singer/musician performs. Ethereal, beautiful music swallowed by the 18, 000 people in the audience. After his song he tells us that he loves his Tibetan music. And to tell us that if we also like his Tibetan music - he pauses slightly as he contemplates the crowd - to come visit him at his table. Mark takes a moment later to tell us that the musician's few hundred spectators who watched the rehearsal and sound check were the largest audience he had ever had.

Members of the Tibetan Cultural Association of Montreal come out next to dance in front of a mural of the Potala Palace. They represent different regions of Tibet in their clothes and dance, though they dance together to a single song, they sing together a single song as they circle and weave around a solitary flag-bearer.

With a Starbucks coffee (proudly served) and some stale nachos in my hands I join the crowd in greeting the Dalai Lama. Interestingly, the crowd does not applaud the announcement that the Dalai Lama is a Nobel Laureate but gives a standing ovation at the news that he was awarded an American Congressional Gold Medal of Honour. Or Honor, if you spell it south of the border.

He welcomes us to the hockey arena as an honourary member of our country - having received honourary Canadian citizenship in June during his last (unofficial) visit. The Canadian government can ignore Chinese trade threats now, since they're just welcoming (officially) another Canadian citizen. He chuckles gleefully as a cheer rises up - once more, the home team wins.

In the seats to my right, the Regional Dancers of the Tibetan Cultural Association of Montreal quietly take their seats and their babies; the seats become a pot of brightly coloured flowers cuddling little fuzzy bees as the Lama takes off his shoes, grins, wiggles into a comfortable lotus position on his regal chair and dons a cap with visor that he may better see the audience. He hopes (grinning still) that we are warmer than the frosty breeze that welcomed him off the plane this morning. He introduces his chat with a request that we seek to understand with care his meaning, rather than his words, as he grapples with (his not so very) broken English.

His message: he has nothing to offer us. He is no healer, only a simple monk. He himself strongly doubts the powers of healers. When his neck developed a terrible dry itch, he asked for a healer to prove such powers and heal it. None appeared - but a doctor gave him an ointment for it which worked quite nicely.

He likes comfort and says the silver lining to being a refugee is the reduced standing on formality. Once, in Mexico, he saw a Japanese minister stiffly attending upon his role as a leader, working his way through a rosary. The string for the rosary broke, scattering beads everywhere but the Japanese minister maintained his appearance of formal duty. The Dalai Lama claims that had his own string done such a thing he would have giggled for certain.

He says of George Bush (Jr.) that he loves the US President. That George is a lovely man, a very nice person who shares the Lama's dislike of unnecessary formality. But the Lama does have some reservations about Bush's policies. Regarding Iraq: the invasion and subsequent activity was not necessarily led with bad intent but the policy method was very unrealistic and has now worsened the problems there.

Everything is interconnected throughout the world - including the Tibet problem. One must know the causes of the past to find proper methods to solve problems in the present. Right now, problem solving methods among nations are still based on negative emotions such as hatred, anger, desire for revenge. These are the modern theology. To reduce man-made problems, more holistic views are required.

18th and 19th century nations were more self sufficient than nations today and their populations were much lower than now. The idea of national ideology was more relevant then than it is today. It is no longer applicable, resources are limited in many regions, the quality of life in many, perhaps most, places has dropped in recent years. Where a community in India of three thousand Tibetans had three thousand acres ten years ago, they are now ten thousand on the same three thousand acres. That is not sustainable. We ask for more land and resources for the people but the Indian people suffer the same problem. The many communities of nations should work together as one entity. Our approach to problems must become more realistic - our perceptions still remain limited to "old thinking" and we continue to exploit one another.

This causes war. That is clear-cut. But we have lost our demarcation and do not realize that destruction of any member of the world is a destruction of self. We must keep in mind the interest, the right, in the human family and learn compromise. This shall take serious effort. We must learn first Inner Disarmament and erase inner hatred and jealousy. This leads directly to External Disarmament and removal of attitude of aggression and removal of weapons, nuclear arms, step by step.

This process can be aided by Unified Force. Once nations such as Germany and France share an armed force, they will no longer have a conflict. North America, the US, Canada and Mexico, should also create such a unified force. Move the EU to Poland, put NATO in Moscow. In other words, nations should give their arms to their neighbors, their enemies, to care for and effort should be made to nurture Russia's democracy.

Some force will always be necessary: there will always be mischievous people. The main point is: war is out of date, it is obsolete. It is like hitting oneself in the leg. Rather than send young people who are restless at home to other countries to wage war in order to channel their energy, it is better to create "adversity" for energetic young people by sending them abroad to learn and find a sense of purpose, that they may become educated and bring new skills and ways of living back to their country. They will also bring the languages and tools of trade with them. I (the Lama) feel very useful. So should your young people go to other countries and serve them and find purpose.

In the USSR in 1979 I felt an aggression to attack among the people and some leaders manipulated that motivation. And today, for instance, I feel that distance-attitude in Iran. We need more effort to come in closer contact to them and not just governments but from all individuals. As one of your citizens (chuckle) I feel some right to interfere in your community.

A really important matter: in order to be happy, person and community, we need to put aside money matter and political issues. In both person and government we should endeavor to find friendship rather than merely the behavior of giving gifts.

When I get a medical checkup, whatever place that I am in, some doctors ask me how I feel. Some treat me as a machine, something to have an illness. Trust will lead to healing. That's why a placebo can work. If there is compassion and warm-heartedness between patient and physician, healing will improve. The doctor must empathize with the pain of the patient. This results not from knowledge but from warm-heartedness.

When our lives start, a mother's state of mind will impact the unborn child. How does a puppy with eyes not yet open find the mother's nipples? Without that trust and affection, growth cannot happen. In medical experiments, young rats separated from their mothers had lower neuron development than other young rats. My own mother was a very compassionate,
uneducated person. A very warm person, even when we were poor, she shared what we had with all people. So today, I serve with compassion.

When I was six or seven, learning Buddhism was no fun but even then I had compassion. I learned this from my mother, not from religion. We all come from mothers wombs: we all have the same potential for compassion. That is the secret to happiness and it will strengthen our immune systems. People who spend their lives in the compassionate service of others have more active brains and bodies than other people. Many scientists consider compassionate feeling important for health whether the person is a believer or an unbeliever. You should take care of your health.

Some get the misimpression that this is a religious matter. That is a mistake. Some think that compassionate service may be good for others but not for the self. That is also a mistake. Sometimes, when I smile, people feel nervous rather than happy. They wonder why I am smiling without a cause - they are suspicious and become more uncomfortable, though I smile with warm-heartedness. Therefore, practice of compassion helps the self first before it helps others. It gives you lower stress, better circulation, better health.

Studies have shown that people who communicate mostly with words "I" and "mine" have greater risk of heart attacks. This reflects their minds. They are self-separate. When you consider others, you interact, you reduce stress and anxiety. Essentially, we should know each other. It brings peace of mind. When people have anger, that negative-ness is 90% projection and that brings disaster. When you make important decisions, remain open and you will see reality more clearly.

Use your intelligence and combine it with warm-heartedness. You will become a good citizen of the world.


During the question period...

My day starts at 3:30 am. I exercise meditate, jog, do yoga until about eight or 8:30. And of course, breakfast. My brother who sleeps in, when I tease him he teases me back by saying that I get up so early to eat extra breakfast! I do not eat dinner so breakfast is very important.


When considering any situation from a Buddhist perspective one cannot merely follow the words of another. Buddhist Science leads one to analyze reality of which, there are two branches: quantum physics, or the reality of particles and matter and inner science, the science of logic, reason and meditation upon phenomenology. Reality is understood through reason, not by listening to me, or to any Buddha. Reason is the ultimate instrument to know reality. When interpreting what a religion has to say about a circumstance, remember the scripture is not a literal lesson.


We do not seek to separate from China but to find common institutions and to be autonomous. The Chinese population in Tibet is now bigger than the Tibetan population, many of whom are no longer in

Tibet. In the long run, the Tibetan community is very small: to them I say please produce more children! (laughs) That should be our response to the family planning strategy.

Violence and non-violence are method. Most important is motivation and goal. Therefore some times violence can be useful, to stop harmful activities. The main difference is in motivation. But both are method and they will deliver your message. In Tibet, because we strictly stay non-violent, more Chinese now support us. If we became violent, that would be suicide.

The Tibetan people seek human harmony, religious harmony. I support the monks in Burma and hopefully some strong influence from China can save the monks from Tyranny.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Miss Lamp recommended by the Calgary Public Library

A little news from the wire...

That's right! Chris Ewart's dazzling debut novel, Miss Lamp, about a lovely litigator who, among other things, really enjoys a properly made grilled cheese sandwich, is not just for people who buy books anymore.

The Calgary Public Library has made Miss Lamp one of its recommended titles for August 2007. We encourage readers in Calgary and outside it to take the CPL up on its suggestion.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Brief Note About Failure

A brief note about failure.

On Sunday I grabbed my bike and went hill climbing. Nothing crazy; the hill I was doing laps on is less than 2k in length and never exceeds a six or seven percent grade. By the time I started my fourth lap, the burning in my thigh was excruciating and I pulled out halfway to ride flatland for a while before heading home.

On Sunday night I decided to pull out of Ironman Canada. My swim is strong (for me) but both my ride and run are well below what I hoped for despite the hamstring injury and the stress fracture in my opposing femur. The injuries have cut my training time and intensity and drastically reduced the strength with which I can push on hills and in the kick.

Ironman’s schedule, like so many of my usual races this year, directly conflicts with more important events and, given the possibility of seriously worsening my injuries, it really only makes sense that I withdraw and focus on the impending move to Montreal and Grad School.


I enjoy calling myself a triathlete. I enjoy being an “ironman”. I enjoy it so much I’ve let my writing wither, sacrificed time with my partner, ignored my friends and spent all the money I need to live on while I pursue my writing career. That’s unhealthy ego and I really don’t regret pulling out. It’s a long time coming and I’ve had a lot of trouble motivating myself to train this year.

But I’m quitting one of those rare things that makes me different and, in my eyes, special. There’s no good reason for doing it – it wouldn’t have been my first and may not even have been my fastest – but I’m a little less me, now. And that…that’s too bad.

Enough of the pity party. Bleagh. Tastes like shit.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fest Thought Express

Stampede is over and you are wondering what to do this weekend. Why not experience something different? Come see the wide variety of culture that Calgary has to offer. Calgary isn't just "cowtown" anymore.
Thought Express is an artist run company focused on bringing like-minded artists of different mediums together through collaboration and community. An artist run, performance company, that has been hosting monthly events since its inception in the spring of 2006. Thought Express showcases a variety of crafts and each of our shows is influenced by the cabaret style of performance. Within any given event, the audience would be prevy to a varied program of performances and in some cases a collaboration of mixed mediums. Having poets, dancers and the visual arts collaborate on a single piece is a common feature at a Thought Express event.
This summer we are proud to be hosting the first four-day festival in the downtown core. Highlights include Ken Swift (Dance) from New York and Members from the Canadian National Slam Poetry Champions. Below is a breakdown our events. Please take the time to come and support your local artists. Come to the Auburn on Friday Night to witness a true Thought Express event. The purpose of Thought Express is to encourage multi-disciplinary collaboration between artists. This sense of community enables our performance company to flourish and sustain itself within a growing market like that of our city. Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are the three major cities in Canada. This is usually the common census of all Canadians. The argument begins when Canadians are asked which city is fourth on the list of major Canadian cities.Ottawa, Quebec City, Calgary, Winnipeg, St.Johns, Victoria or...Edmonton? I am excited to be in Calgary and know that in the coming years, this city will be recognized as a world class city. I see this festival as an integral part of Calgary's progression and predict in the years to come that music, culture and art will help define this.

July 19th Event #1 Thursday night at the Well

Music by Roofeo and Mama Miche

Introduction to the festival. Volunteer party and Media Releases.

DKenvy and SHE lingerie

Art by Sonia Rakchaev and Photo by Heather Saitz

free event

July 20th Event#2

Fri july 20th at the auburn $10

Music by Roofeo and Rocky the Vinyl Idol

Lady Mot, Brian Batista, Shone Abot, sabo, Swallow a Bicycle Performance Co-Op, Oroonamamu, Jocelyn Grosse, Micah Stone,

Dance by Jaimie Marr, Ed Mitchell, Latin Corner, One Circle, Ken Swift, Cuban Casino,

Literature provided by Oxfam

July 21st/22nd Event #3

Saturday/Sunday afternoon at Eau claire market

Get Down 2007 Dance Workshops and Capoiera Gingativa

Indoor and outdoor showcases

Ken Swift and the Seven Gems

July 21st Event #4 at the Broken City

Spoken Word in conjunction with afternoon jazz jam 3-7

readings by Vancouver Poetry Slam, Sean McGarragle, Magpie Ulysses,Fernando Raguero, Chris Gilpin , Christain Bok, Jesse Switzer, Emily Elder

free event

July 21st Event #5 at the Broken City

Saturday night at 8pm. $5

Readings by James Dangerous, Melanie Haywood, Moe Clark, Sean McGarragle, Magpie Ulysses, Fernando Raguero, Chris Gilpin

Dance by Wilson Dance Projects, Ken Swift, Full Flava ,Triple7movement, Capoeira Gingativa

July 22nd Event #6 Sun and Salsa Kensington and the Latino Festival Olympic Plaza

Sunday afternoon


Come visit the Thought Express

Dance includes Latin Corner, One Circle,Cuban Casino

July 22nd Event #7 at the Tequila NiteClub

Sunday Evening $22

Music by Del tha Funky Homosapien, Grand Analog, Roofeo

Dance by Ken Swift, Latin Corner, Original Rudes,Aviva Fleising, Caroline Fraser, Wilsondanceprojects.

Readings by Wakefield Brewster and Sabo

Thursday, May 17, 2007

seven songs

A.Raw tagged me in her blog with a survey of seven songs in heavy rotation on my (mp3 player). One thing's sure, she lives a lot farther off the highway than I. goes:

1: Fuck the System//System of a Down
2: Individual//Bad Religion
3: The Man Came Around//Johnny Cash
4: Big Lizard in My Backyard//Dead Milkmen
5: Freedom//Colin James
6: Right Hand Man//Joan Osborne
7: Black Curtains//Megadeth

If you see this, consider yourself tagged.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Of reversable belts and tire tubes

Thursday was a hell of a day. It rained, I forgot my gaitors and my shoes and the feet in them got soaked on the way to and from work; it was cold, work was busy and I realized when I arrived at work that I had three client meetings scheduled and I had forgotten the belt to my pants.

The downside to not dressing at home.

At least the pants have a really high waist to 'em. Just call me poindexter. Or Woody - who, when I bemoaned my stupidity to him, pulled up his sweater, whipped off his belt and said "black or brown? hmmm...looks like brown". He then reversed the buckle from his black belt, whipped it to its brown nether region and handed it to me noting it was a good thing he wore a sweater that day.

Damn straight. Hell of a thing; thank you Woody.

On the way home, I stopped at the Chiropractor to have my hamstring stripped (if you know what I'm talking about, you KNOW what I'm talking about) loose from my sciatic nerve and swing by the pet food store to buy dog food. Yes; still raining and still cold.

The thing about rain is its adhesive quality. Small rocks, bits of glass, miscellaneous car parts; all remain glued to the road when your bike tire hits them. So rain inevitably leads to flat tires, as those little bits of debris fail to skitter loose when struck by bike tires. I was about 20 blocks from home when the back tire on my ten speed hissed flat. I had tools and a patch kit but no spare tube and patching road-tubes in the rain quickly illustrates its lubricating quality. Glue don't work in the wet, my friends. So, I wiped the water from my glasses and started jogging the bike home, cursing my darling baby's inability to drive the car to come pick my soggy ass up.

I was about six blocks from the house when an old pickup truck squealed to a halt on the far side of fourth street and an old flat-topped army drill sargeant of a man jumped out and hollared "need a TUBE?"

Dumbstruck, I nod...wondering what the hell he's talking about. Cognitive function had long since ceased at this point. He runs to the back of his pickup, opens the shell and rummages around in clinking bits for a moment or two. Then he comes running hell bent across the street and proudly hands me a Continental racing tube with a presta valve: the exact match for the tube currently lying flaccid in my back tire. He glances at my bike, notes the lack of quick-releases and barks: got a wrench. I nod yes. Hands me the tube - presta valve, remember, and barks again: got a REAL pump? I'm good now, in the conversation. I smile and nod once more. He nods back, turns around and marches back to his pickup. Tires squeal and he's gone.

I've been saved by the bike tube fairy. And he has a buzz cut and a whole lot of wrinkles.

My first thought is to get the bike home and fix it in the warm and dry. But no - you don't repay the bike fairy with that kind of pansy ingratitude. So I pulled out my tools and stripped 'er down on the spot, ignoring the (very wet, very large) dog poop I had apparently stepped in when I pulled off the sidewalk. My old Apollo isn't the easiest bike to change tubes on but I managed to get the job done before my fingers went completely numb and had the pride of riding my bike up to the front door.

Did 'er right; just the way the bike fairy would have wanted. You ride in crappy weather, be prepared to fix yer fricking bike in it too.

Day was a lot better after that - there are some great people out there and I look forward to paying some of that forward. Better start packing some extra tubes.

The Godfather is dead; long live the King.

When James Brown died on Christmas morning I was heartbroken. That heartbreak intensified when my brother called in tears that afternoon to tell me that my Christmas present was two tickets for us to see the Godfather of Soul on January 10th.

Against much misgiving, he returned the tickets to ticketmaster for a refund - they're likely in the pocket of some employee now and waiting for their highly inflated emergence on Ebay. But he did it, assuring me that he would find a way to come up with something as cool.

Boy, did he ever.

BB King still has it. He barely walks; he performs the show slouched into a rickety little chair and his band aren't much younger than he. But the music is relentless; the emotional rollercoaster exciting and loaded with thrills, not least of which are BB King's voice, which hasn't ebbed a moment in all these years of using it and of course, Lucille. He still plays her sweet.

Yes, he brought out the hits in a show that was designed as a conversation between BB and his fans. He also brought out the chops, repeatedly showcasing the "young men" in his band (I'd put their average age around 60). He waxed nostalgic about growing up in the cotton fields of the south during the age of segregation - "one one side of the tracks was us. on the other side, all of y'all. on the other side were two fountains. one said 'colored'. the other was labeled 'white'. at night, when i had a beer and a half in me, i would sneak across the tracks and drink some of that white water. funny, it didn't taste no different. didn't even look different"..."sometimes, in july or august, which were the truly hot time down in mississippi, i would be plowing the cotton with the mule, big ben. he was a good mule, very kindly, very considerate. on a really hot 'un, when the air wasn't stirring at all, he'd be so kind as to give me a little wind to cool me down. that's a good mule".

Lots of talk, lots of play and a whole lot of seated-down dancing that repeatedly brought home to the audience that this showman is a far cry from finished putting on the show.

Thank you Graham; the concert was absolutely awesome.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

a voice into space

I've had this blog a couple of years now. I post from time to time. I also have a mySpace blog, where I post from time to time. I've had that some time less than this. Largely, I've used this space as the place where I post updates on me, on my life, that sort of thing. These days, I guess it gets funneled to my facebook profile. None of this is really new. I had a Bolt profile once upon a time. Pyroto Mountain - few of you likely to have been part of that but I was on it for a couple of years. Bulletin boards before that; before the term blog ever came into being.

I largely keep the impetus of the two blogs apart. Here, I post some semblance of Colin. On mySpace, I promote the culture events I take part in. In a couple of years, some 600 people have bothered to look at this blog; several thousand have read the other. I wish my life was more interesting than my lifestyle, but a lot more people take part in a lifestyle, I suppose. Whatever. I cheat all of you by writing the shit that really hurts or joys in a journal. Yes, paper. So it doesn't really matter what you read here because, really, it all is for show. It couldn't be any other way and I quite misunderstand those who fail to hold something out for the people who can touch their hands.

I've been writing most of the day today so I'm a little kvetchy right now. It takes a lot out of me, regardless of the type of material. Leaves me moody and unstable. Not really sure why. I certainly can't say it's a cathartic process, despite the avowals by others that nothing quite else can do.

Ash leaves for Victoria next week. I think that's good for all of us. I can write and not have to worry about the bitch I'm being meanwhile. She gets to hang out in Tofino with her best friend. The dog will stress out and behave remarkably well for a while.

Her dad is sicker than hoped. The lymphoma is in his bone marrow and the form has no cure. It can be managed. He's home with a cold right now and she respects it when he says he doesn't feel like having company. I...have a tough time with that. He shouldn't protect her from the bad things that happen anymore; it's time for him to understand that he needs to share those burdens; that she needs to be a part of his sickness as well as part of his healing process. The one doesn't work without the other.

Sometimes, when mom was in the hospital for long stays, I would climb into her cage and nap beside her. She smelled like formaldehyde. Her skin was tacky and her hair, when she had some, was lank and damp. Those naps were highlight moments for both of us. I wouldn't trade them for anything. We can't all be strong all the time. Even moms and dads.

I suppose there's a lot more I could say right now. I'll hold out a while longer.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

bionic superdads

been an upheaving time for the fathers of the Love Shack residents...

mines' been doing stuff like this:

or this...

or lately, even this!

apparently we need to do a better job of beating the old man down. the flipside to this coin is that we still await the results of Ash's dad's biopsy from last week. that he has lymphoma, we know...but the type and extent are still unknown.

i do not share my parent's faith in storybook tales - the very concept strikes me as particularly asinine - but i'm a big believer in parents, in and of themselves.

so from me to Ash's're what i believe in, man. and i don't think that's a misplaced faith.

Friday, February 16, 2007

stupid young people

My friend Billy came to me at work the other day with a shocking development contained in some massive tome with results from a comprehensive study of young people aged 15-25. The results of the study amazed the scientists and marketing people who ran the study: apparently young people are stupid. And ignorant. And sexist, racist, limited neo-conservatives with little ambition beyond getting a shitty job that requires little training so they can buy a house and raise broods of stupid children.

You see, Billy has ideals and she hasn't been paying attention to what the young people think because her gen-X children are neither stupid nor lazy. She therefore believes that her generation fought the good fight in the 60's and the 70's and made the world a better place to live; or at least presented a template outlining how the world can be made a better place. She can't believe today's young people have no interest in a better place; that they don't give two shits about the environment. That what they do give a shit about is culture garbage like IPODS and Hurley Jeans and Jessica Simpson.

What does she expect? The parents of these children are not permitted to physically punish them and compensate by rewarding them for increasingly negligible levels of good behavior. The kids have to do less and less to be rewarded and eventually get whatever they like by merely doing nothing - knowing full well that the threat of bad behavior is all they need. The teachers of these children cannot hold them back or fail them anymore for fear of applying negative stigma to their delicate constitutions during these all-important formative years.

The consequence? Lack of consequence. These kids do not fear failure because, in their coddled developmental environment, they have never failed at anything (even the video games have become easier; imagine a fifteen-year-old you know finishing "Metroid"), no matter how little effort they applied to any given task. When they hit adulthood and its requisite challenges they are poorly adapted to coping with the demands grownup tasks place upon them. They have not ever had to assume responsibility in the face of adversity.

Does this mean failure for our delicate sun-dappled flowers? Hardly. If they got into University (thanks, Sylvan Learning Centres!) under the lower entry requirements, they need only achieve a grade in their courses for the first year to cash in the RESPs their doting parents put away for them. Not a passing grade. A grade. After the first year, they don't even need to do that - they just have to register and need never attend another class to have their living expenses covered for the school year.

If they leave school for the work force they can now earn more money than their parents by driving a truck in the oilpatch or answering the line at the phone company, where there really is no requirement that they be nice to people they don't know. And the aging baby boomer generation, now that they have reformed the world (they believe) for the better, are looking for the door and their increasingly desperate exit strategy depends heavily on the soft shoulders of the "me generation" to take the workload. The boomers have reformed the workplace to provide a gentle, caring work environment for the youngsters where their well-being and general level of happiness becomes paramount. Espresso machines and comprehensive benefit packages to cover the wee-me's masseuse needs become standard renumeration. The lunchroom at Telus has leather couches, pool tables, foosball, HD TV, X-boxes and a stack of pc's so everone can check their hit-counters on MySpace during breaks. The wee-me's are made to feel important in even the most entry level jobs, where their appalling lack of competence makes them drains on corporate resources, rather than contributors.

It gets better. The environment? Fuck that. Parents who bemoan their kid's desensitivity to violence on TV and in video games only look at one side of the coin. In a world where the sweet young daisies will never be allowed to go hungry, homeless or shirtless (except at the beach, of course) they can no longer accurately separate want from need. Thanks to TV and the internet, they learned young how to interpret social code and that in a world where nobody needs anything, what matters is the strata into which they fit, according to that skewed social code. That means status and that means money. Cheap t-shirts by expensive designers confer that status. Remember Degrassi Jr. High? The kids were ugly, had spots on their faces and bad hair, and they dealt with shit like getting knocked up at 14 and racial profiling in adolescence. In the new Degrassi TNG, the kids are all uniformly hot, there's not a pimple among them and they spend most of their time stressing about who fucks whom and for what petty slight betrayal becomes justified. Marshall Mcluhan told you so: kids get the message. They don't listen to the script, they absorb its presentation. So when some pretty, spotless youth yammers at them about the environment, wearing Hurley Jeans and giving them websites to visit on their cell-phones, they tune out the speech (which might disturb their slovenly equilibrium) and focus on the presentation. They don't become so much de-sensitized as re-sensitized.

So what do they need? Moto-razrs, Ipods, Clearasil and clothes that push the fat around their stomachs up to their chests and into their pants without making them look like little Michelin boys and girls. And when they say they need these things, they're not kidding, pun aside. Employers will hire the ones that best look the part they apply for. Boyfriends and girlfriends are shopping for them right now on LavaLife and they damn well better look good at first sight because otherwise the first look will be the only one. And exercise is hard, so they'll likely need a little nip here and tuck there, because they eat like wee piggys and have the plump tummy rolls to prove it.

The best part is that they will likely never have to change. If they look the part, they will get the job - they need never get particularly good at doing it - and if shit goes wrong, they never need to take responsibility. They can sue someone, instead. They can (successfully) sue the restaurant for serving them hot coffee. They can (successfully) sue the bar for getting them impaired and leading them to the ruthless auto-slaughter of the neighbor's kids crossing the street. Our wee blossoms can (successfully) sue their mothers for not getting them orthodontics and chest implants, so they stand a better chance of "fitting in" and attracting mates and livelihoods. They can (successfully) sue the company when they get hurt while working without their safety equipment, they can (successfully) sue the car maker for not protecting them when they crashed without wearing a seatbelt, they can (successfully) sue artists and TV producers and movie makers and poets for disturbing their sensibilities.

Thus, they remain at the mercy of the marketing companies, who produced the TV shows they watched growing up, who find imaginitive solutions for helping them become exactly like each other and who train them to alienate any others who fail to assimilate correctly - the kids saw the after school specials and, rather than learn that hurting people who are different is wrong, they correctly learned to become the hurters and that punishing difference is proper protocol. These kids are sheep who have been told all their lives that they have a particular wolfish charm and, having been carefully maintained in their pens since birth, they remain simply too stupid to know better. They plug our classrooms and offices with their blissfully unaware "brilliance" and we're shocked to find out that our little treasures have rotted into trash.

That's a pretty general statement - I know many exceptions: for instance, you - if you managed to read through this much unrelieving text to the bottom, rest assured you're doing all right. No flash simulations or youTube videos to break up the nearly three minutes of monotony, here. Now go to work or to school and smack someone who's behaving like an ass - not the program-resistant ass; the making noise-without-meaning one. Then throw your Ipod in the trash, you fucking ass.

Artie Gold

I like this poem - not my usual style but now that he's dead, we can support his work, right? Isn't that how it's supposed to go?

Don't Stop Clapping Till I'm Famous

It was the greatest poetry reading Canada ever had
AJM Smith was there with his Polaroid land camera
Earle Birney stood by the door flipping his lucky
both-sides-beaver nickel
The Governor-General smiled like a Parisian-born trick
you could hear everywhere hoofbeats of moose & windblown birch boughs
Everyone was related to everybody else.
Across the audience smiles broke like quebec bridges
I kept thinking the face on the very next guy to read was the
spitting image of an autumn-blown maple leaf atop Mount Royal
we threw the critics out early in the show
(they asked the poets the wrong kind of questions and we just knew
they'd leave early and cause trouble for us
/ at the banks)
famous people read aloud and no smart-asses coughed at crucial points
the concluding speech told you what the next fifty years of Canadian
poetry would be like, whereupon
All stood
And the flag
was raised & lowered by the unseen hands
of Robert Service's ghost who'd been with us since intermission.
I was proud
alka-seltzer-proud …

a patriot was stationed at each exit and it was the patriot's duty
to after each poet read / fling open the door to the subzero howling
winds which beat at all our faces and cold that turned the sweat on our
cheeks to icicles / while a sign was held up above the stage's dais which
- thank you
- merci

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

another day, more like a new one

I went to Abbotsford last week to visit my dad for his birthday. Needed that. A lot. I thought I would cry like a baby when I saw him but honestly, he looks so much better and he's doing so well that all I could feel was happy. Maria and I went through some of the photos from the accident...the woman who called it in stayed throughout and took some pictures with her phone. As you can see from the last one, taken by Maria the following morning, there wasn't much left of the truck afterwards. At any rate, it was wonderful to see him, even if he does look like Frankenstein with the row of stitches running across his forehead - that scar will heal; many of the others already have.

I've started my new job at Merlin Edge - I work as an account executive now, putting together annual reports and such for our oil and gas clients. I love being in a self-motivated environment. Telus had some good people and the company tries quite hard to be a career path for its staff but the level of micromanagement they require just didn't make me happy. Now I micromanage; proofing and editing copy and layout. As my role expands in the next couple of months, I shall dramatically improve my skill set in publishing. A huge huge thing for me - I expect I'll be making books and other printed material of one kind or another for the rest of my life.

Meanwhile, I continue to try making friends of Jasmine and Shadow: the office cats.

In other news, Ash has been accepted into Concordia: one down, two to go (and two for me). An auspicious start. in Montreal; heartbreaking prospect.

Now it's time for a rant. My topic today is Blogs and the apparent belief by web content providers that blogs constitute journalism. Get bent. When I go to my home page at Yahoo or Google or MSN, I expect properly researched articles written by people who have some kind of training or familiarity with the topics they write on. I do NOT think that news constitutes society gossip regarding Pickton, or the British Museum, or suicide bombers. A word to everyone who reads this: your opinion does not constitute news, journalism, or research. Your trite, poorly written, slang-ridden opine that Hilton and Moore should just, like, scrap it out has no fucking place as a cover story on my portal. My condemnation expands to include the pea-brained editorial staff who mistakenly believe I'm going to read that shit in that place. I come here for that, you dumb asses.

But don't feel bad, bloggers who think they're journalists...hearken to this little piece I found in the paper while visiting Abbotsford:

"Victoria kayaker's body found after search in canyon: It required nearly 24 hours, dozens of metres of rope, 14 rescuers and two devoted friends. But a search-and-rescue mission for a 36-year-old Victoria man still ended with a dead kayaker."

What a slap in the face to the friends and family of the man who died. The writer, Unnati Gandhi, in all his wry, cynical glory has dismissed this man as nothing more than meat, of interest only because of its packaging. He has ridiculed the efforts of the man's friends and the labours of the rescuers by saying they have no greater importance than rope. Post-modern sardonics have no place in this story: Mr Gandhi, you are not merely a bad writer, you are an asshole. Go to hell.

Darryl Janz once offered to pass me with a reasonable grade in Television Journalism at MRC on the condition that I never go into journalism. After all these years, I understand why. Until you know ,a little bit about suffering and humanity, you have no place reporting it to others. I took Darryl's advice and stayed out of journalism. I remain out and, given what passes for it these days, I wonder who else should have taken that course.

Take whatever you like from this blog. I don't call myself a journalist, even as I appropriate my father's experience as part of my online identity. That just makes me a blogger. I just wish others identified themselves a little more realistically.

PS, I really hate the way this fricking program randomly chooses what edits to accept. Nice interface. Enjoy the small text up top.