Untitled– Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

a stream of consciousness rant formed whilst over-hearing co-workers complaining about the grammys

There’s a casual dexterity to which I sometimes overhear complaints about the mildness of winters these days in the same breath used to disregard the younger generation as if the effects of climate change are something so sudden and incomprehensible to them as a musical trend.

Yes, people wear plaid these days but in case you forgot the seventies it’s all part of a continuum in a way you don’t like to think about because it forces you to realize this pattern started several millenia before there were water coolers to bitch around.

Please don’t nostalgically reminisce about Billy Joel and hum a few lines of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and then complain about pop stars these days using sex to sell music because you follow that statement up with praise for Katy Perry as “wholesome” and disdain for Lorde as “too gothic.”

The Grammy’s haven’t been relevant for years, but irony is just so in vogue these days.

chiselling away at genre expectations

steelchisellogoOver at The Steel Chisel, you can find a short story of mine, “Scenes from a Road Movie.” This is a piece I’d been sculpting away at for a while, so it seems only appropriate that it be published somewhere with “chisel” in the name.

The Road Movie is one of my favourite film genres. I wrote a paper on the Canadian Road Movie in university and the first “novel” (I use the word novel here so loosely it doesn’t even have grasp on itself) I wrote – when I was twelve – was called Road Trip. I’ve always found something fascinating about a journey rendered literal. Perhaps this comes from a similar well as my love of travel.

“Scenes from a Road Movie” began like any other work: with noble ambitions and scattered fragments. I wanted to show a relationship between a man and a woman that had no romantic endgame, yet didn’t just seem like a buddy comedy where half the “he’s” were changed to “she’s” after the fact.

As those scattered fragments gathered, I really discovered who Jenna and Adam were. How they each viewed their relationship to the other proved equally important. They saw a dichotomy: male/female; Canadian/American; weak/strong. But their perceptions of each other were so rooted in the people they used to be, that, like any good road movie, their journeys into their own little hearts of darkness involved rediscovering each other.

I had a plan with this. It was going to somehow be a screenplay or a novel; either way, it would have a full-length arc. When I picked it up again after a long hiatus, I read over the scattered fragments and discovered that I had the essence of the journey right there. I already had the major character beats documented: their origins, their turning points, their revelations, and the aftermath.

I realized the beauty of genre. It’s a Road Movie, of course. Everyone knows the structure of a Road Movie. There seemed no point to connecting the dots with hilarious incidents and/or tragic turns of events. The reader knows how this goes. And so there you have it: a Road Movie, or “Scenes” therefrom.

Maybe I was just lazy.

your daily hate

After emerging from post-holiday hibernation, during which I did little else besides crocheting whilst binge-watching Netflix and eating bon-bons, I returned to the internet, that great information highway (or by-pass).

For most of my news, I read the Guardian,* supplemented (cautiously) by the Globe and Mail for Canadian content, the New York Times for essays, and the Gawker pantheon for entertainment (mostly science and feminism). Occasionally, though, one needs to hate-read. Hate-reading is not so one is reminded that the world is a terrible place full of terrible events, the news covers that just fine. No: hate-reading is to be reminded that people are THE WORST.

When you really want a good hate-read (and the GOOP newsletter just isn’t doing it), you can always turn to the Daily Mail, especially their comment threads.

Aviary Photo_130332001018098660

When I caught up on the news a few days ago, I quickly discovered that a day of reckoning seemed to be upon the British people. At the end of 2013, the EU restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians living and working in the UK expired. Naturally, xenophobia reared its ugly head (Maggie? Is that you?). So much of it, too, came under the guise of “But the economy!” or just old prejudices reasserting themselves anew.

I am not going to debate the issue here, but one merely needs to compare and contrast the insane headlines of some British papers to the actual facts. I was lead to a conclusion as easily as fairy tale children are lead to gingerbread houses in the woods.

I find it amazing to consider the absolute absurdity of some of these stories. Calm down, ye wee Islanders, gypsies are not going to shit on your doorstep. I fear somewhere along the line a ham-fisted metaphor was mistaken for literal truth. No turds will be left on your front stoop. Do I really need to repeat that?

The hysteria, however and as always, was for nothing. But at least it provided me with an excellent example to cite when asked why I didn’t really want to stay in Britain. It boggles my mind that not only do papers like the Daily Mail exist, but that so many people actually take them for legitimate sources of news and social commentary. They are Fox News in print, nothing more. “News” should be defined as truth, you see.

And don’t get me started on Duck Dynasty.

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* If being a Guardian reader is wrong, I don’t want to be right.