Monday, April 29, 2013

Please read this “Please Read Me First” post first, please!

I’ve been writing these stories since 2001 and have, at last count, polished off 817 of the things—81,700 words—or something like a whole novel’s worth of disjointed thought.
        And even if it has taken me more than a decade, I am now finally flirting with the idea of publishing some.
        And I’d really like your help.
        I need you to tell me, right off the top of your head, which you’ve liked best. Don’t go looking, just post a comment or send a note describing your favourites as best you remember.
        Those are the ones I will count.

Photo by Jeremy Sterk, Pier 12 Photography.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The New Presidential Library

Word today of the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library (or as Dubya calls it, “Lie-Berry”). It is a remarkable honour for a man who darkened few library doors in his youth. Had events unfolded differently, this might not have been an issue; after all, his focus was going to be domestic. Well. Unschooled in world affairs, he had to rely on his national security “dream team”. Perhaps if he’d read more books he’d have formed his own opinions; he might never have invaded Iraq, or based his post-war strategy on a flimsy pop-up book, Democracy Made Easy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bubble Man

“Sonofabitch.” Bill greeted the prospect of a working holiday with a dread usually reserved for colorectal screening and destination weddings. Sure he got through British Customs via the fast lane with his wife and kid, who both held EU passports but this was cold comfort for a fortnight away from cat and castle. He hated leaving; home was so pleasant. Except for the never-ending winter, he really couldn’t complain about much. Here he achieved a balance, shutting off CBC whenever the news became too depressing or after Matt Galloway had mewed out “community” one too many times for his liking.
Photo: Sari Garden by L. Leclair

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shallow Hits a New Low

Guilty as charged, I’m a little shallow. But I bet you also I’m not the only one. And is it really shallow, when you look at a photo of the apprehension of a guy who allegedly – though his aunt in Toronto doubts it – pressure cookered a marathon and wreaked havoc on a city and ran over his own exploded brother with the getaway car (awkward!), and is now intubated, sedated, and reviled by his uncle, is it really shallow in this instance to look at the guy and find the first thing comes to mind is, “Hey, he’s really ripped!”?  

Saturday, April 20, 2013


What a shame that the idiocy of two boys has monopolized the news this week. Twisted and unforgivable but nothing that folks in the West Bank or Pakistan or even Europe haven’t been dealt on a daily basis. They grieve and vent and then move on. But because this happened in America there’ll be ribbon campaigns and concerts and anyone who looks like my son will be under increased and fearful scrutiny. That is, unless they want to buy a gun at Walmart. Forget looking in space for it, the God Particle is alive and well and living in Congress.

Image from The Particle Zoo.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Higgs Bosom

So Peter Higgs, the guy who comes up with the God particle doesn’t want us calling it that anymore because (a) he’s an atheist and (b) it was a joke. But calling the God particle the Higgs boson is not gonna be an improvement. Because it sounds like breasts, not just any breasts, but breasts of a misspelled, old-fashioned variety that go with the kind of strangely-ribbed pink underwear that some kid’s grandma, gripped by a spirit of fierce conservation, turns into the face of a sixth birthday present doll. If that’s what the universe is made of, oh Jesus.

Image: Ecouterre.

Friday, April 5, 2013


     “Who wants pie?” Mom demanded after we’d cleared supper.
     “I do! I do!” my brothers and I piped.
     Genny laughed.
     “What?” I asked.
     “Nothing . . . It’s just, you all sounded like eager little kids.”
     “Well, it’s saskatoon pie,” Mom said, eyes narrowing.
     “You’ve never had saskatoon pie?” Dad asked.
     “Never . . .”
     Heads shook at her deprivations.
     “. . . I can't wait to taste this famous saskatoon berry.”
     Now we laughed.
     Genny looked at me, a little hurt. “What did I say?”
     “Well, it’s ‘saskatoon,’ not ‘saskatoon berry,’” I explained. “You wouldn’t say raspberry berry, or strawberry berry . . .”
     Really: sometimes Genny can be so provincial.

Image: The saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifoliahe) pride of the prairies (and prairie folk), courtesy Government of Manitoba

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ironic Chef

I inherited some surplus baking supplies from a pal whose daughter worked on one of those elimination cooking shows. Every time I crack open the jar marked “rice syrup” I wonder how it all went wrong. When did it become entertaining to watch people cook like they were bailing water from a paper lifeboat? What must all that anxiety taste like? Give me an hour of Julia, Martha, the cagily Sinovescent Yan, or even the avuncular but dodgy James Barber anytime over witnessing some idiot sweat into his Saskatoon berry reduction while another bigger idiot rips him a new one.

Image: Detail from Stephan Yan, Wok With Yan (1981)

You, Tube

The Smithsonian tells us we share 98.8% of our genome with chimpanzees, but that hardly reveals us to ourselves in any new light. Now, from Belgium, comes a study showing we have 96.3% in common with annelida oligochaeta, the common earthworm. So very many nuances of human nature are explained in this fell swoop. The lingering popularity of the name Ann. Our affection for undergrounds, whether inhabited by the French Resistance or by hobbits. And of course, the disarming comforts we feel around tubes. Think tube tops, toddlers lulled by toilet paper rolls, and jagged mornings smoothed with Euro caviar.

Image: K. Bischoping.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Moving in Soon?

We’d eventually take over a house the bank had repossessed, that someone had left in a hurry, taking the stove and the fridge on his way out and tossing what food he still had in the sink.
     The second time through, we still weren’t entirely sure, but that certainly didn’t stop me from taking along a few things to clean up a house I didn’t yet own, gathering up the worst of the garbage, soaking the kitchen with Lysol, and doing what little I could to get rid of the stink of the previous owner before the heat kicked in.

Images from Between Heaven and Hell by Jacek Yerka, 1989.

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