Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Save CBC

There's so much I want to say on this subject but I am short on time today so going to skip the poetic and give you the bullet points:

CBC/Radio Canada, like the railroad, tied Canada together and has kept all its distant corners in touch with each other ever since, giving Canadians a voice, or rather, a chorus of voices, in a culture that's increasingly dominated by American culture.  While publicly funded by the government (as well as by advertiser support), it has maintained its independence and not degenerated into a tool of the the ruling party. Ruling parties tend to resent it, and the current regime is trying to defund it chunk by chunk into nonexistence.

Having public funding protects it from becoming a tool of corporate sponsors.  Learn more here.

Close the Canadian Senate and give the money to the CBC.

This was one of the most popular shows in Canada when I was a kid, a little music show from Canada's maritimes. I never get tired of seeing this.

Every Sunday night, Cross-Canada Check-up, now and forever

The Nature of Things, on CBC for 54 years

The Famous Doris Day Referendum.

Four words:  Kids in the Hall

Marg Delahunty:

Extra Marg here.

And so much more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Normcore vs. Post-Cool

This is an interesting essay on the evolution of "normcore"  since 9/11.  I agree with some of it, like the part about faux sincerity, but every definition of Normcore I've read is different, and equally fuzzy, as pundits define it by their own standards, superimposing a personal template.  End of rebellion? Or just a different kind of rebellion?

Post-9/11, patriotism is part of normcore? You mean, all those unlikely people so shocked by the destruction of that day screaming for the US to bomb Afghanistan--and later Iraq-- to oblivion? Patriotism is a little dangerous and easily exploited.

I'm down with the thrift shop clothes, the foraging, the gardening, the DIY definition of normcore, and have lived that without giving it a label for the last decade+. I hate the terms 'normal' and 'normcore.' Can we say post-cool instead--like what you like and don't give a shit about its hipness or whether it makes one normal?  That's less about conformity and more about just doing and being. Otherwise, normcore will be exploited by the powerful like every other shallow trend to make money and marginalize those who won't conform to their agenda.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strategic Unkindness

This morning, I took a break from the Robin book and did a bit of rewriting on  my book about finding Alice. I (re)wrote about a terrible year I had when my three cats died, two from tumors and one from liver failure.  Two human friends died that year too (and my computer exploded and took my book in progress with it) and I was flat broke until the end of the year.  These cats were my family, my dependents, and they'd lived with smokers, me and my ex-husband, their whole lives so I knew it was my fault.  I was a wreck.

When you go through an especially rough patch, there are people who can't deal with your pain and avoid you. I totally get that. There are people who see your pain and exploit you. There are people who help.  During this time, I went to a con and met Janet Evanovich. I was insanely envious of her talent and career and told her so.  She was extremely nice and thereafter I began to hear from people who bought my books on her recommendation. The following year she gave me a blurb for a book, and I became a ardent (but envious) supporter. (Other writers who went way out of their way for me that year were Joan Hess and Katherine Neville, FYI.)   It's funny, but the more time passes, the more the memory of people's kindness during difficult times resonates.  It's also true that my own unkindness echoes more deeply, even for some recipients who had it coming. :)

I once read a letter Jack Kerouac wrote to his then wife Edie Parker Kerouac. It was a very zen letter written from a ship in the merchant marine.  He ended it with, "Be kind to everyone. "

I'd like to end this post with that, but kindness can be complicated.  Some people see it as weakness and will happily exploit it, and the crap of daily life can quickly erode the best intentions.

Jack himself couldn't keep it up. Later, I saw some footage of him, after he'd moved back home to take care of his mother.  They fought viciously. "Shut up you old fish c****," he shouted at her.

That unkindness, driven by emotion, is human and easier to forgive, or should be, than strategic and cold-eyed unkindness practised by powerful people against those weaker. Powerful people pit us against each other so we won't see how they're manipulating the water or food supplies (for example), creating pesticides that may kill bees (while quietly buying up a company to genetically engineer resistant bees), and herbicides that pollute the land and water tables and will kill almost all plants but plants they've created to resist their products.  Or governments who make gays, women, Jews, Muslims scapegoats to deflect envy and enmity from themselves?  How long are we going to fall for that? Why waste good anger and meanness and overblown Twitter Outrage on each other when it can be forged into a weapon against the rulers of cruel governments like Uganda and Russia,  and companies like those of Big Oil?

So... don't be kind to everyone.  Be strategically unkind to those more powerful who have it coming.  If you like, start here (or here for EU). Sign petitions, call your elected representatives, boycott, march.  Give your grief to those who really deserve it.

Canada House of Commons
US Congressional Contact Information
Russian Embassy Locator
Uganda Embassy Locator

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

National Poetry Month: W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden

Young men late in the night
Toss on their beds,
Their pillows do not comfort
Their uneasy heads,
The lot that decides their fate
Is cast to-morrow,
One must depart and face
Danger and sorrow.

Look in your heart and see
There lies the answer,
Though the heart like a clever
Conjuror or dancer,
Deceive you with many
A curious sleight,
And motives like stowaways
Are found too late.

He shall again his peace
Feel his heart harden,
Envy the heavy birds
At home in the garden,
For walk he must the empty
Selfish journey,
Between the needless risk
And the endless safety.

Clouds and lions stand
Before him dangerous,
And the hostility of dreams.
Then let him honor us,
Lest he should be ashamed
In the hour of crisis
And the valley of corrosion
Tarnish his brightness.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tabloids from Space

From David Marsh and Paul Marsh, via

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Swedish Marines

I LOVE all these military men using their free time to put together show numbers.  It's like the whole world has gone Bollywood.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Thursday, October 17, 2013

I used to admire Wikileaks, even though I've always been bothered by the built-in unfairness. It's much easier to get and disseminate confidential information in a democracy or quasi-democacy than it is in a totalitarian state (or quasi-dictatorship), so we end up learning much about western governments and corporations and precious little about what's going on elsewhere.  And lately, I've come to think that Julian Assange is just another guy who wants to be king.

Monday, September 9, 2013

You are one lucky son of a bitch...

I wrote this piece for Mas Context, a magazine that explores a different theme every issue, generally through the prism of art and architecture. The theme for this issue was "Improbability."  It has its roots in a Sputnik bit I wrote in one of the Robin books.