Category Archives: Lifestyle

Love Assassin


Love Assassin

He peeked around the door frame, “Have a great day, my stud!”

I urgently pleaded, “Screw it all Evan and come back to bed.”

“I can’t, you know the re-election plan…” And with that, he locked me into his ‘closet.’

I pulled the sheets to my face and inhaled deeply, trying to salvage any remnants of last night.

Ka-chick! Ka-chick! Ka-chick! The silence was shattered by a thousand cameras popping like machine gun fire along the frontlines.

In the street, a fundamental conservative persona lay bleeding and battered. Did he really think I was going to keep him secret?

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The Suicide of René Lévesque

The Suicide of René Lévesque

Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question deals with memory and the things we believed to be true. Although my post does not deal in absolute truths and likely veers from Fandango’s original concept, it does speak to a realization of something I believed would happen but never did. This week’s question is…

“Have you ever been sure that you knew something to be true only to find out that what you thought you knew to be true was, in fact, not true? If so, what was it and how did you find out that it wasn’t true?”

Canada has always been divided along language and religious lines. A legacy left by the British who conquered the French on the plains of Abraham but allowed the French communities to retain their language and customs in Lower Canada, mainly for political reasons back in Europe. The province of Quebec would eventually include most of Lower Canada within its boundary at the time of Canadian confederation in 1867.

Its French heritage has always made Quebec unique within a united Canada, especially when compared to the other nine predominately English-speaking provinces. The most obvious difference is language and this idea of Quebec being a distinct society or a nation much in the same vein as the Aboriginal populations of North America such as the Sioux or Iroquois Nations. The truth is a lot of that rhetoric is a thin veil that the pure laine1 francophone minority holds onto like a security blanket, designed to hide their xenophobic and often racist agenda.

I was only five or six, too young to remember the FLQ crisis in the early 70s but I was certainly old enough to remember the first of two referenda held in Quebec’s deluded attempt to (kind of) separate from Canada. I say kind of because many Quebecers believe the Federal government would continue to financially support an independent Quebec and continue to provide the transfer of tax monies collected to the new nation after succession. Bwahhh ha ha…

The first referendum, spearheaded by the Parti Québécois (PQ) and then Quebec Premier René Lévesque was held in 1980. Lévesque was a stereotypical chain-smoking Québécois who grew up in the Gaspé. Although his father was a prominent lawyer and he did not grow up impoverished, he was raised in a region of Quebec where the French-speaking population was dirt poor compared to the English, most of whom were descendants of British Loyalists who had fled the American Revolution. This would have a profound effect on his life and his politics. Quebec’s national aspirations would be rejected by 60% of Quebecers in that first bid for independence and although Lévesque would not live to see it, the province would hold a second unsuccessful vote in 1995.

My Grandmother was French Canadian born and raised in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on the western tip of Île de Montréal. She would marry my Grandfather, an anglophone of English and Irish descent and move to Mississauga, Ontario but she would maintain a deep connection to family in La Belle Province. That first referendum tore her family in two, a line drawn between Nationalist and Federalist allegiances, the wounds not fully healed even to this day.

As a kid, I recall a particular evening at my Grandparent’s house. We were off playing in the kitchen, foyer or den while the adults discussed politics in the living room. Lévesque and the coming referendum dominated the conversation. There may have even been some of the Federalist faction of my Grandmother’s family visiting although my memory is less clear on those facts.

What I do remember is my Grandfather getting very heated and stating rather emphatically that René Lévesque would realize his treachery and in some display of remorse for his actions hang himself. I admit, right up until his death of heart failure in 1987 I fully expected to wake up to the news of Lévesque being found, hanged by his own hand from the rafters of his garage. I know a weird fascination for a kid but the memory of my Grandfather’s words have stuck with me for almost half a century.

As for Lévesque, friends and foes alike remember him as a giant of Canadian/Quebec politics. In my view, he was nothing more than a traitor to the values this country holds dear. Separation for Quebec seems more unlikely today than ever. Immigrants continue to flock to Canada and settle across the country. Many hold deep-seated allegiances to the federal government that provided asylum from whatever horrors they left behind in their native lands. As such they tend to have federalist leanings and as the population dynamic continues to evolve in Quebec federalist voices continue to outweigh the desires of the separatists.

Still, many of the policies born from the early PQ and the separatist movement are present in modern-day Quebec as is evident in Bill 96, yet another attempt to eradicate secondary languages and in particular English from the province and the blatantly racist Bill 21 designed to force public servants to remove all vestiges of personal religious symbolism in provincial workplaces.

Although the bill is written to include the removal of all religious symbolism, and sold to the public as an effort to separate church and state. It is advertised as promoting secularism in provincial institutions, but in reality is an attack on minority groups in the province, especially those who have more outwardly visible religious attire such as turbans or hijabs and will have little effect on the province’s Catholics. Most Christian symbolism such as crosses or crucifixes are normally small or hidden beneath clothing and the line between their religious roots and secular prominence have long since blurred making it less likely to be enforced.

1. The French term pure laine (lit. ’pure wool’ or ‘genuine’, often translated as ‘old stock’ or ‘dyed-in-the-wool’), refers to Québécois people of French-Canadian ancestry, especially those descended from the original settlers of New France who arrived during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Citation: Wikipedia.

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“What’s in that bubble floating on the wind, Daddy?”

“It contains the entirety of a life within; everything it was, everything it is, and everything it will become.”

The tick of the clock only moves in one direction from our insignificant perspective but that is not proof of times linearity; spacetime just ‘IS’. Everything has already happened, no beginning, no end, no entrance or exit from the trajectory set upon us. Perhaps by God or chance, I won’t postulate on the how or why beyond accepting that everything is relative.

It seems pointless to fret, if the path our lives will follow has already been settled I’m certain none of us know the outcome and in that sense, the risks we take are real, the love and tears and laughter genuine, and the direction we choose to go remains ours to determine.

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Good Music is Good Music

Good Music is Good Music

Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question has a musical theme…

What is your favourite music genre? Why is it your favourite? If you have more than one genre that you prefer, what are they?

I listen to just about any genre of music.

My playlists are mostly filled with alternative sounds dating from the 80s to the present. They say someone’s musical path is determined by the beats they listen to from the onset of their teenage years and into their early twenties. For me, that was the sounds of the 80s although there was influence from older cousins and friends who were rooted in the classic rock sounds of the 70s. Depeche Mode, The Smiths, New Order, The Cure, U2 and early REM are some of the seminal bands of my generation that found a place on my turntable, along with other influences like Love and Rockets, Roxy Music, Brian Johnson era AC/DC, and the Madchester sounds of the Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses.

As I left college and embark on adult life SoundScan began to change the music scene. Where recorded sales of music were somewhat of a murky business the introduction of the point-of-sale inventory/sales system made it impossible for promoters and music labels to pay off retail outlets to fudge sales for whatever artists they were pushing. In the olden days, the music business could give Hollywood and possibly the mob a run for its money when it comes to being shady.

SoundScan levelled the playing field for Artists. Music sales that had been suppressed began to gain acceptance. Sales numbers could no longer be skewed as accurate barcodes and point-of-sale data collection took over the industry. Artists who were being ripped off now had data to prove it. Backwater sounds like Country and Western benefitted from the change. For years the industry had cannibalized sales from the genre to prop up other acts across other genres. Actual numbers showed that sales were stronger than anyone imagined and where there is money there is investment and marketing and new artists ready to cash in.

As such I found my taste expand through the 90s and artists like Garth Brooks, George Strait and Brooks & Dunn found their way into my 6-disc Pioneer CD player. I even donned cowboy boots and hats and headed out to the local bars to boot scoot and boogie. It wasn’t hard to go there considering the Grunge and Britpop sounds of the early and mid-90s, had run their course and the airways were filled with Top 40 shite from acts like the Spice Girls, Brittney Spears, Mariah Carey and the like. Most of that was an autotune assault on my good senses.

I have always enjoyed Jazz and the Blues and even R&B and early hip/hop. Even today I can listen to acts like Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, The Beastie Boys and K-os. But Gangsta Rap is an assault on one’s ears. How in a society where we are so willing to cancel someone for an inappropriate comment or a differing opinion, we find it okay for racially charged, misogynistic and downright anti-social music to permeate our airwaves is mind-boggling. My oldest son would disagree with me as he spins the likes of Eminem, Snoop, Post Malone, Dre and other giants of the genre 24/7. I know “spin” is an antiquated term when it comes to music in the streaming era.

Today my alternative tastes have mellowed to a more folksy feel. Vance Joy, Of Monsters and Men, and Mumford and Sons fill my playlists but I still often find myself back at my musical roots. The stomping beats of Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode), the gyrating riff of How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths) or the dark overtones of Lullaby (The Cure) will always have a place in my soul.

Isn’t that the beauty of music though? There is something for everyone, a myriad of sounds to tickle the senses. Even my likes and dislikes are not absolute. Ihave dabbled in Big Bands, Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Industrial, Classical, Opera, Metal, Thrash, Punk, Disco, Trance, Ambient, and even thoughtfully written Hip/Hop. On the other side there are Alternative sounds that aren’t worth my ear. I guess the old adage of “good music is good music” rings true. Happy Listening!

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In Between

In Between

Serena could feel her heart pounding and muscles tightening in the moments before the sedative took effect. Terrified to find herself in the one situation she had dreaded her entire life, where the lines begin to blur in between actuality and perception.

She struggled to push the harrowing shadow that hovered in the haze above her away but her lifeless limbs lay like dead weights at her sides. Not wholly unconscious but just beyond reality’s grasp, and left retreating into the darkest horrors churning in the recesses of her mind.

As consciousness crept back in and blinding light filtered through her eyelids signalling that she was somewhere else – was this the end?

She flung away warm blankets and struggled to lift herself against the push of the nurse’s thrust, “Everything is ok Serena, you are in recovery and the Doctor will be around to see you later but for the time being you need to rest.”

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Out of the Cold

Out of the Cold

As the thermometer plummeted to new record lows and the chill of winter’s wind cut even deeper through the channel beneath Highway 89, Buzz feared his home and the bottle of antifreeze he keep tucked under his jacket wouldn’t be enough.

Miranda pleaded with Buzz to follow, but he was leery of the people in those shelters; they didn’t hold his best interest at heart and wanted him to conform to their idea of living.

Still, he knew it would kill Miranda if she returned to find him frozen so he followed her as requested.

He couldn’t pinpoint the origin of his fear and the desire to run back to the bridge but as he stood there something about the front entrance calmed him and he knew everything was going to be alright – at least for tonight.

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Another Person’s Trash

Another Person’s Trash

“Every Wednesday Mom insists I take her to the Sally Ann after morning Bingo,” I said with a deliberate eye roll.

“You say ‘Thrift Store’ with a pejorative connotation.”

“It’s all junk and every time we go, she stops at the tables filled with odds and ends left by the dead. How many quasi-fine China teapots and cups does an 82-year-old woman need.”

“Come on Sis, you know she collects that shit. Don’t you recall summer weekends being dragged from yard to yard? All those treasures she plucked from unsuspecting sellers put us through college.”

“Hmmm… Whatcha doing Saturday?”

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Where the Sidewalk Begins

Where the Sidewalk Begins

Every week Fandango over at This, That and the Other posts a provocative question. This week’s question follows on the heels of his unfortunate fall from a ladder. I think the accident probably had a huge influence on this week’s question…

Have you ever fractured a bone (or bones) that was serious enough to require inpatient hospitalization and a post-operative stay in a rehab facility? What bone(s) did you break? How long did it take in rehab (inpatient or at home) before you were back to “normal”? And did you actually achieve the same level of functionality you had prior to the fracture(s)?

While I cannot claim to have required hospitalization or a stay in a rehab facility I wanted to participate so this is as close as I’ve come.

The worst bone break I ever suffered was a fracture of the scaphoid bone. Certainly nothing like Fandango’s ladder/hip mishap. There was no hospital stay outside of the lost hours spent waiting in Emergency but there was lots of physiotherapy after to get back to a full range of motion.

It all started on the first day of school. No, I wasn’t going to school. Those days were long behind on this fateful September 3rd. I was out for my morning ride. I’d just purchased a new road/gravel bike a couple of weeks earlier. Before this bike, I’d been a mountain bike guy. I’d taken many a spill on rocky tree-lined trails with nothing more than bruises and scratches to show. These bones were tough as nails!

But as a guy in my early 50’s it was time for something less dangerous…

Now, back to the first day of school. It was 7:30am and I was out for my 15km morning ride along my usual route. On this morning I was cruising along at about 25km/h, and gaining fast on a group of 15 to 20 high school students walking in the dedicated bike path like a herd of cattle who’ve broken through a barbed wire barrier to obliviously congregate on the road.

As I approached the group they remained oblivious and did not move out of the way. Instead of slowing or stopping, I veered to my right across the grass boulevard towards the empty sideWALK that was ten feet to the right. Notice how I highlighted WALK because that is where they should have been! Anyway, my front wheel caught a rut along the edge of the cement and dug in sending me and the bike ass over tea kettle. My head (thank God for helmets) hit first with my 6’1″ frame crashing down close behind.

The kids, no longer oblivious, looked over as I skidded across the concrete and popped up seeming unscathed. Yeah, I was bleeding from various scraps and scratches but when some of them asked me if I was okay, I insisted I was alright. After all, my head and frame were still attached to each other! In fairness, the adrenaline of the moment had me believing I was none the worse for wear. Although, I am certain my bruised ego would have told them I was fine even if there had been a bone sticking out somewhere.

An inspection of the bike revealed some damage to the handlebar tape and a couple of superficial scratches elsewhere but no major damage. Hell, that was a minimum right of passage for the mountain bike. If it wasn’t banged up you weren’t doing it right.

Inspection complete, I jumped back on the bike with every intention of finishing the nine or so klicks remaining on my ride but the moment I tried to grab the handlebar with my left hand that notion quickly dissipated, replaced with searing pain shooting up my arm. I couldn’t have gripped the bar if my life had depended on it. Instead, it was a slow shameful ride home with my left arm tucked against my midsection while my weakened legs powered a bike that was being guided by a lone and shaky right arm.

I don’t know if any bones were broken. The ER doctor showed me the x-rays but they did not show a break. Apparently, fractures to the scaphoid bone don’t reveal themselves on x-rays until 48 hours after injury. Based on his experience the doc believed the bone was broken and because the small bones of the carpals, and in particular the scaphoid, don’t receive a lot of blood flow should be treated as such. A lack of blood flow restricts healing and if not immobilized and allowed to heal the bone could die. That was enough for me to accept my fate and follow his instructions.

For six weeks I wore a removable cast without knowing if it was broken. X-rays were never taken again later, I just ran with the emergency room diagnosis. When the cast came off I began three months of physiotherapy to get close to a full range of motion. It would be another nine months before I can say the hand and wrist were back to normal.

Even now if the moon and stars and sun align just right, hidden behind a bank of dark grey clouds that are dumping a cold damp rain down on Mother Earth I can still feel it click and groan. Sometimes, I think that if I’d just plowed through them they’d have moved or at the very least it would have been a softer landing!

Oh, and did I mention all the years of reckless mountain biking where I never once broke a bone?

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Wouldn’t You Say? A WTF Reply.

Greg Glazebrook @ GMGCreative

You are bang on the money Cyranny, who would ever consider using a vending machine for such things…

Who me? What? Come on, you don’t think I’d lower myself to vending machine eyelashes. Don’t be ridiculous, these babies are all natural darling!!!

I hate to say it Cyranny but the world has gotten so shallow there ain’t nobody drowning no more!

To check out Cyranny’s original WTF? post click here or on the vending machine image above. If you are wondering, this response post does include my sexy eyes and a lot of work on Photoshop to get my vending machine lashes to fit just perfect!

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A Miners Lament

A Miners Lament

Weeks working long hours in the remote oil sands had taken their toll but today the company-sponsored busses rolled into the Saloon of this makeshift northern town.

The jamboree would run non-stop for the next five days, it was time to cut loose. The booze would flow and the comfort girls, drawn to payday money, would be primed and ready for the carousing to begin.

Billy hated himself watching the stranger, her curves rocking in his lap. Back east, his Annie was waiting for his return.

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