Monday, 14 December 2009

Humongous Volcanoes...

...and everything you need to know about them, HERE.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Slam Wrap Cut

I’m waiting for the Paper Scissor Rock World Championship to begin, drumming my fingers on the bar. Bartender slides my beer and I take a nice pull. My confidence soars and I think, This world is mine.

A woman numbered 200 on her competitors tag singles me out and challenges me to a few practice round. The rules are simple: Rock beats scissor beats paper beats rock. She beats me three times straight, no problem. My confidence slumps.

See, I’ve never been good at rock-paper-scissor – the classic children’s game and, later in life, the Great Decider of who buy beers or who rides shotgun. It’s usually me in back seat with a case of beer in my lap. Most people chalk it up to luck but luck, it seems, has little to do with it.

“There is no luck in rock-paper-scissors because there is no random determining anything…It’s a game of pattern recognition,” says Brad Fox, grand marshal for the event. “How fast can you recognize what patterns your opponent falls in to and how can you keep yourself from falling into recognizable patterns?”

He takes his role very seriously, describing game history and protocol with such conviction one might think the fate of our world depends on armies of scissors cutting through the planet's entire supply of paper.

Fox says RPS is one of the – if not the – most widely played game in the world, with versions of it existing on every continent, dating as far back as 2000 B.C. in Egypt. In the West however – in Toronto, in particular, at the Steam Whistle Brewery on a Saturday night – it’s a sport of true competition, drawing a crowd of 400 players and another 400 or so spectators, many of them dressed in outlandish costume. A bumblebee here. Captain America there.

“It really is the great equalizer in many ways,” says Doug Walker, co-founder of the event. “The richest man in the world, the male or female, the most able-bodied or disabled – there’s no inherent advantage “

An announcement is made and everyone gathers at the foot of the stage in the main concourse. The costumed drunks yip and holler. Someone had torn off all fingers but the middle of a complimentary giant foam-hand and now he’s waiving it in the air. Someone spills a beer on my camera and I think what a fitting sponsor this event has in Yahoo.

And with that, it begins.

Each referee is more serious than the last. Ours is a stout woman with a quivering voice. “Welcome to the sport,” she says, “you are the elite of your sport, congratulations on making it this far,” with no hint of irony.

She explains the rules – no cheating; best three out of three; once you’ve lost you’re out for good – and pairs us off. I follow her extended finger to a Nordic with a blonde crew cut and hollow eyes, clutching a miniature Norwegian flag.

He crushes me in four consecutive throws, no problem. The ref rips my undefeated stub from my competitors tag with dramatic flare and the Norwegian introduces himself as Petter Olsen, Norwegian national champion.

“Your routine was quite easy, I saw it quite early,” he said. “Sometimes its difficult but I saw your type and I just went for it.”

Disturbing. Who is this Norseman and how can he see through me so clearly?

And, more importantly, why can't I see through him?

“You have to read the person and what type of personality,” he adds. “Is he an intellectual guy, is he a macho type? Does he think he knows what he’s doing?” The game is an experiment in psychio-analysis to suss out each opponants playing patterns.

According to Fox, women statistically lead with scissors; men lead with stones. Journalists, regardless of sex, tend to lead with paper. Often, people will just “wing it” but because randomness can never be tamed, Fox says the best strategy is to plan one and recognize your opponent’s patterns.

The pattern. Yes. As the astrologers and mystics of yore understood, it’s all about the pattern. I see it now: my own daft inability to recognize the pattern. The ones who advance in this tournament, it seems, possess ultra-sensitive pattern recognition system that they may not even know about.

I plan a strategy – play the hand that defeated my last throw. I challenge a dozen people or so. I lose every match, every throw, every single time. There’s no hope here. The players missing “undefeated” tags grow larger in numbers buy the minute, sticking out like amputated soldiers. There’s a peculiar excitement in the air, cut with an endless drone of cheering, topped with dim lighting and weird costumes. A bumble bee here. Captain America there.

It turns out Captian America– aka Tim Conrad of Taylor, Michigan – will win the world championship, swindling $7000 from Yahoo’s pockets for throwing his fingers around.

But he had no pattern, he’ll tell me two days later. He just felt it from the gut and it rose like a snarling, primitive beast – that urge to throw rock and rock after rock after scissor.

Yes. A true life lesson, Captain America. To hell with luck! To hell with patterns! Throw what you feel and rule the world.

Monday, 2 November 2009


Who likes pumpkins? I sure do. More so than regular news, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Job

When I got the call, I didn't scream with relief like I thought I would. Instead, I politely accepted the offer and wondered around my neighbourhood in a daze. Trying to make sense of it. Barely noticing the day's heat boiling my skin. The young mothers and their strollers. The hot bikini babes. The tall oak trees bending their branches down waiving to me as I go. The camera store employee with the long hair I always see smoking outside of Blenz. All of it seems irrelevant.

After all the stressing and drowning in self-doubt and almost folding under the pressure of it all – and waiting, waiting, waiting for Life to finally start happening – finally, all of it coming together with a single phone call. With a man on the other end, sounding very much what I imagine God to sound like (bold and assertive, yet jovial and welcoming!), and telling me: "We'd like to offer you the position."


"Is that a yes?"

"Damn right it is."

"Do you have any questions for me?"

"Um. Is there anything I should ask?"

He laughs and said: "I'm surprised that I interviewed 42 people and not a single one asked me how much the pay is."

So of course I asked, but not necessarily because I was curious but because I was on auto-pilot, doing what I was instructed to do. And then hearing what they pay...

All of that feeding into this swirl of emotion. Utter confusion in the blistering heat, but a good confusion, like when making sense of the swirls on a head of cotton candy.

And then I start bawling like a newly orphaned child. Right there, in the middle of the street. In the city, with the heat pressing UV weights on my shoulders. My town, the one I love. The one with the sexy bikini babes and young mothers with their strollers. And the tall oak trees.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


So, because I’m a man, she asks me, “Will you come by and get rid of the mouse?

“Uh, sure. Of course.”

“Are you sure?” she says. I’ve already forgotten her name. I actually never knew it.

“I hope you don’t mind. My roommate is, like, freaking out over it.”

“Sure. No big deal.”

“And my boyfriend would do it but I’m not seeing him tonight.”

“Absolutely. Not a problem.”

“Are you sure?”


So we her friend Gabby alone at the with our wine and my personal items: journal, map, wallet. Not a good idea since I’d known these two all of 20 minutes. I consider myself a decent judge of character except when alcohol’s involved. I’ve been burned before.

Like the time in Brussels an Arab fellow wrapped his leg around mine and did a funny little dance with me. This didn’t seem weird to me. I just thought he was being friendly. After the third time, I was really into it. Until he ran off suddenly and I noticed that my wallet was missing…

But I’m not thinking about any of this. We’re walking down Queens Street and the Girl With No Name keeps thanking me, over and over. “This is so nice of you, oh my God” and so on. I’ve never visited Toronto so I have no idea if all women here are relentlessly gracious. I know she’s just being nice but there’s only so much gratitude I can accept in three minutes. Especially when I haven’t done anything yet.

She unlocks the door to her apartment – maybe three doors from the bar. It’s a discreet number sandwiched between two boutiques. Inside, her flat is spacious, the type of suite that costs people their children’s eyeballs in Manhatten.

“Nice place,” I say.

“I know! Isn’t it fun? The dead mouse is in her room.”

And indeed it is, in the corner, lying still on one of those glue traps, the flimsy platter types that toddlers sometime mistake as playtime toys, and wail like genocide victims when pulled from their chests.

This particular trap had attracted lint and what looked like human hair. I crouch down to pick up the dead mouse’s final resting disc but the mouse starts squirming and squeaking.

“Ah! It’s still alive! Look! See!”

“Oh my God, oh my god. You are such a trooper.”

The mouse keeps squeaking, trying to right itself off its side to no avail. It’s skin pulls with every thrust the mouse makes to escape and squeals in, what I assume to be, astonishing pain. It looks up at me. Squeaks. Eyes pleading.

“What are we going to do with this thing? Should we let it go?” I ask her.

“Let’s just leave it in the street.”

“And then what? Leave it for dead?” I say this in the stairwell and she opens the door, dusk light flooding in. The mouse and I squeal in unison.

I bend over to the leave the disc at the door of one of the boutiques – a fancy shoe shop, very classy.

“No, over here. In the alley.”

So walk four or five paces with the disc held out like it’s a platter and I’m a waiter serving Mouse a la Carte. A man notices and almost jumps out of his skin. Almost, but not quite.

“Ah!” he says.

“It’s okay,” I say. “It’s stuck.”

The alley is clean – too clean for an alley. No Dumpsters or hobos. No trash of any kind. It’s baffling. I set the mouse down as it gives one final pleading glance over its itty-bitty shoulder. I consider pulling it off with my fingers but the anti-rodent lobby has done a number on me. I’m scared it might carry malaria, despite the records showing no mouse has ever carried malaria.

But I still feel bad for the little bastard. “We should let it go. Do you have a stick?”

The Girl With No Name doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t acknowledge this query in any way, so we move on.

“Oh my god, you are such a trooper. Such. A. Trooper.”


So we sit down and I take a liberal swig of wine and tell Gabby the story.

“And those are supposedly the ‘humane’ animal traps,” she says.

I nod in agreement, but it gets me wondering how that’s any more humane than the traps that break their necks? Or killing it the old fashion way, with a boot or a bottle of shampoo? Letting it starve to death on a flimsy plastic disc is a cruel punishment for simply being a mouse in someone’s house. I wouldn’t like it a whole lot if the mouse did that to me; why should I treat it any different?

Later on, when I’m stumbling towards the hotel with my glass of wine in hand, a police cruiser stops me. They reprimand me, write me up. And I felt like that little mouse on the platter. Stuck and squirming to present my case to the powers that held my fate. The only difference is that mouse died that night and I slept in absolute luxury, with pillows the size English mastiffs.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Stressful Day

Breath tastes like stale beer

Kiss her as I leave

Bike has a flat tire

Broke my sunglasses yesterday

Squinting in the morning sun

UV rays lead to headaches

$2.50 for the bus

Moment of serenity while eating a bagel

New task on the job is both dull and complicated

Health comes into question now that Michael Jackson is dead

Rising health concerns due to increased belly fat

Belly fat bulging over the belt line of my shorts

Mind never stops wandering to issues of great concern

Must attend a wedding in a week

Must buy a new suit for the occasion

Must buy a new tire

Should get some exercise tonight but I have some shopping to do

A protest to photograph

A movie to attend

My left knee is acting up again

I’ve been avoiding opening my credit card bill

It calls for my attention like an ugly ex-girlfriend

The tension in my chest snakes down to my arm

My left arm is weaker than my right

Scanning the web for degenerative diseases

Working with the knowledge that this job is a waste of my talents

I miss writing as an outlet for frustration and confusion

Blowing off responsibility to do so right now

Wondering if I’ll ever get where I’m going

Tapping senselessly on a keyboard

Thoughts wander as aimless as the Messiah

Chatting with workmates through an online forum

Looking at my workmates in the flesh

Pining away for my pillow

Break for lunch without a word

Pinch the fat of my belly as I walk

Tensions are high at the sandwich shop

The mall is a frenzy

$600 for half-decent suits

Dust in the office clogs up the sinuses

Deadlines are looming

Payment of Medical Service Plan approaching

Failing to ignore a toothache

Reading that dental health and life span are inextricably linked

Scanning the web for information on the matter

Resist the urge to buy myself a Slurpee

Fail to resist the urge to buy myself a Slurpee

Have the first afternoon cigarette four or five months

Smoking is a way to snuff myself out

Friday, 26 June 2009


Funny, that the conservatism of right-wing Christians is rooted in the philosophies and teachings of one of the greatest liberals that ever lived. Hilarious.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009


Kurt Vonnegut wrote in 2007 that the Great Depression "was so bad, white people had to raise their own kids."

And it got me thinking: looking at the history of European and North American middle and upper class, they usually had maids, nannies, slaves, butlers. It was customary not to raise their own children. Which means, it's not in our blood or in our history to have close familial ties.

And I look at African families, Aboriginal traditions, South American traditions – all that – that supported strong familial bonding. Bonding within the community, where children aren't raised by their parents alone but by entire villages. Not always, but sometimes.

Just a thought...

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Office

So, suddenly you stare out the window of your office and the trees are bending in your direction. The wind is pushing them and when it settles, the trees bend back into place. They look like they're calling you over, like your mother might with her pointer finger.

And you want to follow the pull of the foliage finger. To run out the tree and amble up it. To feel the bark like dry skin between your fingers. The little knobs that'll scratch your shins, make them bleed. To climb to the top and look down at below. To holler something unintelligent. Anything at all.

You want to but the call of responsibility is keeping you set in your seat. You have documents to file, pages to type. Emails to respond to. People in collars with motives different than your own to converse with in order to "get the ball rolling" or to "get things done" or to "slate that fucker."

Never mind that for now. Your eyes relaxed. Vision a blurred impression of what reality's supposed to be. Like when you were young, lying in the back seat of the van, on trips or whatnot, gazing absently at the window as the scene scrolling past in rambling colours. When nothing was defined. You or your world. Soft shapes and everything was light.

Ah. Follow the pulling finger of the tree outside your window. Ignoring your computer. Of the voices of others. People talking business. Blocking out the sound of telephones ringing.

Your telephone. Ring. Ring. Rrrrrriiiiiiiinnnnggggg.


"This - is - an - automated - message - from - the - Vancouver - Public - Library -"


The trees stopped moving. You blink, refocus your vision. Eyeballs dry and itchy. Look at the clock. 12:20. Lunch. Open your top desk drawer. You eat that Snickers and savour it like you're seven.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Curse This City: B-Line @ 2:30 p.m.

I could have taken the 22 right to my house but no. I can sneak on the B-Line for free – bless this city.

The back door opens and there're a dozen Asian children staring, slate-faced and blinking. I push through them to find a seat but the only one's in the middle of two fat peoples – a man and a woman. Plop between the two and the woman nudges over the best she can. Gives me a good-natured smile.

The man keeps his wide set thighs spread wide, well into my personal space. I consider asking him to please shift but the scowl on his face + the skull and flames bicep tattoo + the 100 or so scars criss-crossing up and down both arms indicate to me I better leave him be.

The bus is stuffy. The sun outside is beating hotter every-second and I'm already sticky from the heat. Naturally, the mass of human warmth improves nothing.

The children are yipping and screaming, crowding what little space there is on the back of the bus. Their voices are pre-pubescent and piercing. As people get off and more pile on at the next stop, the crowd shifts and swells until there're four small children pressed up against me. One little girl in a pink sweat suit is pressed against my knee, almost on top of it. This is awkward and unnerving.

"Excuse me," I say. "Little girl? Excuse me."

But she's saying something in Cantonese to her friend, speaking at a high volume over the cacophony. The doors open to let more people out and more people in.

The crowd shifts again and the little girl ends up between my legs. My anxiety swells and I try to push her back into the crowd – not too forcibly, of course – but she doesn't seem to notice. She doesn't seem to care that she's standing between the legs of an absolute stranger.

It's too much. I poke her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, can you please move over just a little bit?"

She nods, tries to move but the crowd is so dense that I can just barely squeeze my right knee around her. Now I'm sitting sideways, bunched in the fetal position with my hands locked between my thighs and the good-natured fat lady's. And the bus lurches ever onward. A bead of sweat drips from my bangs and slowly – so slowly – rides the bridge of my nose, down the bulb and hangs there for a few seconds. I can't wipe it away – the bus is too crowded. It finally drops and it lands on my lips. It takes like a saltine cracker.

Bottom Line: Three "Curse This City"'s means I may be a pessimist after all.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Curse This City: Bus Stop People

A man sits slumped on the stairs of a downtown building, Gauze taped to his forearms at four spots. Cigarette hanging from his lips, clutching the pack of Player's Light with his left hand – the flesh scarred and wrinkled. Track marks red as lipstick running in sporadic lines to the crook of his arm.

He stands up, looks around. Eyes glassy, confused. Red and irritated. He rubs at them. Rubs his arms, traces his bloated veins with a finger. Hunched over and swaying, he tries to walk down the stairs but he lurches instead. Too incapacitated to move, so he sits back down. Let's the smoke fall from his lips. Mouth agape, starting to drool.

And every person passing by stares as they walk. Nobody offering assistance.

He's a sight. He's a gimmick. Someone unfortunate to pit. Someone to compare and resolve their own failures. Because it could always be worse.

And no one lends a helping hand. We get on the bus and we're gone.

Bottom line: I'm just as bad.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

An Exaggeration

The sun is melting your face. Your skin will start to peel. The dust in the air is causing a brutal tickle in your throat, so you take a sip of your beer. The $9 beer you've been clutching for a half-hour now because you can't afford another – and the line's too long at the beer booth anyway. You take that sip and it's warm. Some pseudo-hippie with a bronze tan, wearing short-shorts and nothing else walks up to you, puts his arm around you. He's sweaty and sticky from a round in the crowd at the main stage. You had seen him there, hugging another man dressed just like him. He's smoking a spliff now – takes a pull and he says, “Did you see the Decemberists?” You shake your head, terribly confused by this hippie's strange behaviour. He smells like apples and you don't know why. He continues: “I always thought they sounded like a wistful winter's evening but, shit, they rocked the house!” He takes his arm off yours, passes you his joint. You take it – not because you enjoy drugs but because this is a $300, 3-day music festival and you're gonna take it for all that it's worth. He walks away without a word and you wipe the sweat off your brow with a yellowing handkerchief. The racket of some band you've never heard floats above the the scene, carried in with the breeze, and you think: This is all very weird.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Daily Wisdom #1

To be bored means you must be a boring person. Or have boring sensibilities.

If you're imaginative enough, creative enough or personable enough, there's unlimited resources to keep every single one of us stimulated, always and forever.

Does writing this make me pretentious? Let's see a show of hands...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Curse This City: Tinseltown McDix

I'm holding a $15 in my hand while I'm waiting to purchase my two cheeseburgers (and thus, my happiness) and a homeless lady asks:

"Can I have some money for an ice cream."

She sees the money, so I say: "I'll buy you an ice cream."

"Ok," She says. "Actually, can you buy me a small milk shake instead?"

I don't answer. I'm then bum-rushed by two others seeking the same treatment. Cold shoulders for both.

One of the newbies asks the other customers for spare change. The ice cream lady pushes her, says: "Get out of here. I was here first."

Then she turns to me and says: "Now that's just rude."

Friday, 5 June 2009

Conundrum #2

How many times can one person thank another before it becomes useless?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Class of '09

Look at it. It's a whole new era. Feel it. The wind has flung wide open and with it comes change.

North American social institutions are either evolving or on the verge of collapsing: the daily newspapers, automobile companies, international money markets. My generation stands on the stoop.

We will be the purveyors of advancements in culture, economics and technology. These will be our children, born from perseverance, intellect and creativity. We are the Fulcrum Generation: the first to be raised knowing the errors of our mothers and fathers, but also with the knowledge of how to fix it. Once we step through that door, the world will follow with us.

And that wind is howling. The door banging heavily against the frame as the wind rushes through, carrying with it the howls of the dead lost to their mistakes.

And I stand on that stoop, along among many.

And yeah...I'm also frightened.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Bless This City: The Bank

It's actually a credit union, but bank has less syllables.

Anyway, Coast Capital is the best. Not because they offer free accounts. Nor is it because of the unlimited (and free) debit card transactions. Nor is it that their facilities are uber-modern and pseudo-hip, lacking cubicles and utilizing the wide open space so everybody can see everybody.

No. It's the best because I heard the Grateful Dead playing softly on the P.A. while I waited to cash my cheque for $20. Casey Jones is still high on cocaine but now he's sharing it with the suits in Corporate Haven.

I wonder what Phil Lesh has to say about that.

Bottom Line: TD plays QMFM, which means more Faber Drive, which equals less of me.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Mikhail Lennikov

It's an interesting story. He should probably be allowed to stay. He seems nice enough.

But that's not what I'm writing about. CBC online posted the story, of course, and the list of reader comments is insane. The "for deportation" arguments are by far the minority, which is the most interesting aspect of this story.

As dicky_barrett posted, "Canada was always a haven for people who sought peace from opressive forces." And with that, a national mentality of compassion and forgiveness has developed that makes Canada a unique and attractive place to live.

The arguments for deportation all seem naive and – I hate to speculate but I will anyway – probably the opinions of crusty Baby Boomers. Like this fellow, PeterAndTheWolf, who says: "Officer Lennikov's ability to shift blame is astonishing: someone else, but not him, should "explain to Dmitri". Infamous KGB trait - shifting the blame."

Well, it's easy to judge a man without knowing him. Also, shifting blame isn't exclusive to the KGB but all of humanity. Anyone with experience with children will know that.

But really, people are getting all riled up over this IDEA without ever knowing who this Lennikov even is. What does he do for a living here? Does he mooch of the social welfare or is he a law-abiding tax-payer? Does he like the taste of dog meat? Because if so, maybe he should be deported...

My point being that given the angle of media coverage, they seem to be asking for us to sympathize with this man. But we have no idea who he is or what he's all about.

Bottom line: Everyone is wrong, as usual.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Curse This City: Toilet Stalls

I'm busy in the toilet stall of a local coffee house. It's covered with the usual sort of graffiti and faux-intellectual comments as any public restroom.


Which doesn't make much sense, of course, but it certainly provokes thought.

And then I read this: "Anglo Canada is IRRELEVANT," which is quite a silly thing to write next to a Vancouver 2010 sticker.

This leads me to believe that toilet stall inscriptions are the product of one of two things. Either:

1) all reason and logic are suspended while the body relieves itself, or

2) the average public restroom user is a moron.

I'm inclined towards the latter. Public restrooms are nasty, gnarly places that only weak in thought will consider using unless absolutely necessary. And that would explain this nugget of wisdom:

"Sitting in my pau-pau tree, will they make mango mush out of me?"

Bottom Line: toilet stalls make for great morning reading.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Conundrum #1

What's more important: Hope or Trust?

Hope is holding on to the fact that Something might happen...


Trust is knowing that this Something is true...

Hope is airy. Trust is solid. Both are important. Which is better?

Tell me your thoughts.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

World Peace

We're a conflicted bunch. Always have been and, if history is any indication, always will be.

Life is fueled by drama – drama between nations, between neighbours, between siblings. The belief that we’ll all one day get along is absurd. Unless we program all newborns to eradicate from the cerebellum Jealousy, Hostility, Prejudice and the mother of all negativity, Fear, we’ll be coveting thy neighbour’s wife and getting even for it for-freakin'-ever. Whatever forever may be.

Even “peaceful” nations such as Canada can’t maintain a dispute-less order. Quebec has a been a constant thorn in the sides of legislators trying to develop a sense of unity and national pride – or, as the Quebecois see it, Anglophone Canada has been a prick in their ass while they try to develop their own national/cultural identity. Our nation was built on this conflict. Just as Europe’s foundation was built on one tribe tackling another. We’re slaves not only to our genetics, but to our history as well.

It will take something cataclysmic – like a race of superior alien beings threatening a nuclear strike – for us all to buck up, set aside our differences and work together to overcome this new obstacle facing us all on Planet Earth. Like in the Watchmen. Not the movie, the book. Read it! And read Bertrand Russell as well. He knows the score.

In any case, as it stands now, this pettiness we’re dealing with in racism and xenophobia and on and on and on is mere sibling squabbling on a very large scale. Humans (men especially) have a difficult time letting their influences, biases and pride subside to see the larger picture. We’ve developed in a particular way that doesn’t allow for us to take the Other into account. What is different is to be feared, and what is to be feared is to be overthrown, subdued or destroyed.

The bottom line is that humanity probably isn’t capable of harmony. On top of that, world peace would be boring. The arts would be banal. Journalism would be non-existent. Sport would involve a lot more hugging. Anything breeding conflict would be outlawed, which is exactly why it wouldn’t work. The act of Outlawing anything is an act of conflict in and of itself.

As Bertrand Russell once wrote: “[…]Evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers. This, however, I believe is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.”

And maybe he’s right. World peace is possible as long as we’re not around.

Friday, 22 May 2009


Libraria should be a word. I'm submitting this to Oxford.

LIbraria is, by definition: "The essence, air and reality within a library's subculture, made up of librarians, bookshelvers, circulation staff, janitorial workers and other employees of the facility."

It is a world unto itself. Librarians are its philosophers, professors and engineers. They have cultivated and perpetuated Libraria. The Chief Librarian is the chancellor of Libraria.

Bottom Line: it sounds too much like Liberia to be a real country.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Apple Sauce Container

On the rock is the empty apple sauce container that Jonny the Photographer had ravaged and left for scraps a few moments earlier.

Because I'm carrying the empty beercans in my knapsack, and because the container is slimy with Jonny's saliva, I say: "I don't want to put that container in my bag." I look around but of course there are no garbage cans around here – not on this remote Gulf Island beach.

Jonny says: "We could let it float into the water with a little note in it. 'I am here, where are you?'"

"I like that idea. Let's do it!"

We didn't do it.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

My Idea

Yes, every day I will post a new idea. Some may be part of the Bless This City / Curse This City series. Others may be some random musing.

This way, I can build a readership that will check back every day for a fresh dose of nonsense.

And yes. This will get me rich.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


The idea of New Ideas is to go as far with it as you can.

And milk it for all it's worth.

Once the teet is dry, find another and sell that one out as well.

And on and on we go.

Monday, 18 May 2009

New Toys

Remember when you were young and Ma n' Pa bought you a new toy or a new bicycle?

And remember that inflated selfishness you felt over that new toy or bicycle, not allowing anyone else to touch it?

And remember how you couldn't let go of it – how you wanted to sleep with that new bike, to cuddle it all night long?

Did that end once you discovered masturbation?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Bless This City: A Kitsilano Bum

A man in derelict clothing has his legs spilling onto the sidewalk. He's reading a Bryce Courtney novel, sipping from a Starbuck's cup and using another as a tip cup. Using the world as his lawn chair. Soaking in the sun while the rest of us pace back to work or the the grocery store or wherever. This isn't a downtown hobo. He's not even trying. This is something else all together.

Bottom Line: If you can read a novel, you can read the McDonald's janitorial handbook.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Bless This City: Japandroids.

Pitchfork gave these local boys a glowing review and so I figured, meh, might as well check 'em out. I gave Post Nothing a listen and...meh.

Now, the Georgia Straight has run a feature cover story on the new 'Buzz Kings' detailing their recent cancellation of half their summer tour because of a near-death experience, their sudden blast of fame and all that jazz (check it out here). I figured, meh, I'll give it another listen. Taking bike ride along Point Grey Road. Sun beating UV bliss. Wind-blowing in my hair....aaaaaah.....

And the Japandroids are all fuzzy and free-wheelin' but serious about their fleeting youth and they're sleazy enough to make them fucking cool. And they're just as confused and frustrated by the times as everyone else their age. Just two guys working their asses off, paying their dues, feeling like it's not getting anywhere.  They write and record create this brilliant epoynmous statement displaying that tension.

And so the Japandroids have Done It. For every city at a certain time, there is an album. Black Mountain pulled it off in 2005 with their debut. Now, we have Post Nothing for 2009.

Now, this city isn't void of crappy bands, by any means. SSRIs, Sex With Strangers, No Gold ( all playing at the Musical Waste festival in June – check the line-up here), and the mother of local indie rock, Black Mountain, are keeping Vancouver a haven for bright and progressive talent.

But now we have a new buzz ban, an act that – if all goes well – will put a good face on our music scene. "Oh, the Japandroids? They're from Vancouver, yeah?" And visa versa

I feel like a bandwagon jumper falling for them AFTER the buzz I should have known all along that this golden nugget was living in my very own city. But I had no idea that they existed. Better late than never, I suppose.

Bottom Line: I think Afghanidroids is cooler name, but whatever.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Quote of the Day

"What's that in your hair?"
"It's meringue, I swear!"

Curse This City: Cocaine

It's everywhere. Still. People at bars and parties slipping each other little flaps, giving each other handshakes on the sly.

At a party and people are leaving in threes down the stairs. On the sly, of course. Coming back up with bulging eyes and dilated pupils, black as Satan's bowels. Eyes relaxed and focusing on nothing. Grinding their jaws, slowly churning 'em. Lolling back their heads like they're struggling to keep them up while some forceful gust of wind is pinning them backward.

That goddamned cocoa. The definitive symbol of all that is rotten in this world. Right down to how it's harvested, in the blistering fields of rural Colombia. And these people are shoveling into their faces by the eightball.

"They're all high out there," I say to my friend, who is looking in the mirror in another room.

And I see a finger picking at the crust of the nostril and, maaaan, my face turns red.

See, I'm the weird one, isolating myself from the social circle because I hate that drug more than anything else on this planet. I have lost friends – and am in the process of losing others – because of it. I have seen the world through those eyes and it's a superficial landscape. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit.

Bottom Line: I wasn't long for that partay.

Bottom Line: .

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Hard Times: #1

These days must be hard times for panhandlers. I saw one outside the liquor store the other day, sitting in a wheelchair, both palms open and placed on the armrest, I'm guessing to avoid unpleasant cramps in the wrist and forearm.

He asks: "Spare change."

And I say: "Sorry man. There's a recession on." I stop, open the door to the liquor store and say, "I'm probably as poor as you!"

It wasn't a nice thing to say, by any means, but I wasn't necessarily in the wrong. The truth is, the homeless have it easier in some ways. Not many ways, but some. First, most aren't restricted by any sense of decency. Second, they don't work – and judging by the frequency of sightings of certain individuals milling about Kitsilano, day after day – they have no ambition of seeking work. They live mostly off the kindness of strangers (and, maybe, the kindness of taxpayers in disability and welfare cheques).

But the Regular Folk (myself, you, you and you), are feeling the squeeze during this Economic Downturn. We have rent or mortgages to pay; car payments, gas bills, bus passes to purchase; at least one mouth to feed, three times per day. We don't have excess income to be spending on panhandlers.

Students and recent grads, single parents and the elderly are especially feeling strapped during this Economic Crisis – with limited government assistance, job loss at every corner, and a barren job market, most of us are living off of bread crumbs and birdseed. Well, I am anyway.

Jobs are very, very limited in Vancouver at the moment. Whatever openings there are, they're swallowed up immediately by a) an experienced Somebodies who've recently lost their jobs due to company cutbacks, b) someone with very decent connections, or c) someone else who isn't me.

So, yes. I am poor, as are many Canadians during this Economic Meltdown. I can barely afford toilet paper or dish soap. Do I have a dime to spare? Please.

Now, some of you may be asking, "Why are you buying booze when you can hardly afford to feed yourself?" And this is a fine question, though I must say it's none of your business.

But if I must answer, I will say that during an Economic Apocalypse, alcohol is one of the few human inventions that temporarily washes away any feelings of discontent, maladjustment or whatever and helps those of us get through the night (or day, depending on who you are).

Which is exactly why the wheelchair-bound-man and myself found ourselves outside of Darby's Cold Beer and Wine on a Monday night. Only I can barely afford my drink and he certainly can't at all.

Hard times, indeed.

Curse This City: the Canucks

The final minute bleeds out into the double eggs and those of us still holdings brews are sipping feverishly to relieve the tension. To stave off the burgeoning sorrow.

And then the count was down. It was over: 7 - 5. Over and out. I could hear my father, 30 km or so away, cursing up a storm.

People throughout the bar start chugging back the last of their drinks. Others stare into the ether, lost in disbelief. We're all reassessing our commitments to this team – bandwagon-jumpers and fanatics alike. Faced with the what we've known all along – understood in our hearts without acknowledging it – that this team of ours are a pride of losers. The Canucks? Pffffffff...

The crowds around the tables wake from their daze. Slowly, they turn their neighbours. Engage in disheartened conversation. "I just wasn't ready for that yet," I hear someone say. "I know they wouldn't win, but I wasn't ready for it to end so suddenly."

Well cold turkey has slapped us all very hard. Now it's time to watch baseball.

Bottom Line: now we have to talk to each other at the bar.

But on the bright side....

Bless This City:

....when I asked the server for another pale ale, the bartender screwed up and poured two. She hands me one, comes back minutes later with another frosty glass of amber liquid and she says: "This is your lucky day," and only charges me for one.

"Yes. Too bad about the hockey game, though..."

And, also, when I had arrived at the bar, I locked my bike to a parking metre but the bastard wouldn't stay upright. Bound by gravity and those damned wheels. So I just left it lying on the sidewalk, like a toddler worn out after a tantrum.

When I checked on it hours later, some kind soul had picked it up and parked it the way it should have been. There it stood, gleaming in the setting sunlight, beautiful as ever.

Bottom Line: some stranger probably wants my bike.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Curse This City: Library Edition.

It was already trickling but as I pass the Kitsilano branch of the Vancouver Public Library, the rain starts coming down in fat drops like translucent cockroaches.

I don't have a jacket on so I duck into the building. The powerful stench of B.O. slaps my face, fills my nostrils. It's warm. Sicly sweet. A dozen scrubby men fill the chairs and tables around the magazine section. The smell is overwhelming, no doubt emitted from two or more of these vagrant types – Kits residents who probably can't afford their rent.

The rain is beating heavy but the dark spot in the clouds is small, with rays of sun breaking up the cloud cover moving towards us. I walk around, look for a place to write, to wait out the downpour, but all seven desks in this cramped building are full. I look for some books by Bukowski, Updike, Rushdie. Nothing. Even the Nora Roberts collection is relatively shabby.

The smell wafts down to the back of the room, the Kid's Section. Poor kids, with their sensitive noses. This will no doubt form their impression of public libraries for years to come.

I finally find a seat at a desk between the cooking section and books about South American art. The chair leg wobbles when I move it closer to the desk and the pressure of my not-so-bulbous body threatens to topple this miserable wooden construction to the floor.

I'll brave the rain. The smell is too much. I get up to leave, scour the place for young women to ogle. There are only two: pne with meaty arms is teaching (who I believe to be) her grandpa how to do long division, and another is as skinny as an English lamp-post and dressed like a Montreal skid.

Bottom line: this library is totally useless.

Friday, 8 May 2009



What has pessimism ever done for anybody...?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Future Looks Good

Listenin' to local radio this morning while driving around on errands. The lady with the nice voice said that the future looks good – according to an index by RBC, consumers in the US are optimistic about their futures and don't fear losing their jobs. This brings back spending that we all know we need in order to save ourselves from this dreaded financial apocolypse.

Well, of course the future looks good. We always work through ups and downs. It's like happiness. It's a mountain range. Haven't we learned that yet? Of course it won't stay bad forever – it's silly for anyone (media included) to tout that. It will get better at some point and then some time down the road, it will get bad again. And on and on it will go.

But WHEN it gets better this time around is another matter altogether...but Vancouver doesn't look that bad on the surface. Construction projects are still on the go. Two men were installing a sign at the base of the Arthur Lange Bridge leading towards YVR, which seems like a frivolous expenture, given the rough economic times. Nearby, VANOC installed a behemoth Olympic symbol facing the airport, and it couldn't have been cheap. Companies are still hiring new employees – and while certain sectors are chaffing their asses by cutting costs to keep afloat, the public sector, it seems, is having no trouble at all.

So that's good news.

On another note, there are NO NEW CASES of Swine Flu today.

And I sigh with relief...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


It's been way, way too long, I know.

A few notes: I'm graduated now. It's been incredibly tough finding work. This rotten economy has left all us newly-graduated feeding for scraps in the job market, foaming at the mouth with the whiff of possible job opportunity. With that, I've been dealing with the post-grad "What Now?" blues that many of us are undoubtedly feeling.

But enough about personal matters...

I'll be updating this blog semi-frequently. Stay tuned...?

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

On visiting

We all wish to visit the spots that appeal to particular parts of our personalities. Every place has a romanticized appeal to a part of our character, and it's those parts of our character that we project on the city or country. This romance is fertilized with stories and descriptions acquired through the media or through people we know who've been there.

For example, I wish to visit San Francisco and imagine it a certain way (heady, free-lovin', very liberal, sunny all the time) even though the rational parts of myself understand that the whole city isn't like that – but if and when I do go there, I'll go to stroke off that portion of my personality. It will be either satisfied or disappointed, but whatever the result, I'll have a new understanding of myself.

So it goes...