Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Barely a whimper

Yet another Canadian soldier, Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, has died in Afghanistan. This time, the fact of his death seems to cause barely a ripple. Buried beneath other stories –- such earth-shaking news as Canadians’ aggressive driving habits or the effect of Omega 3s on diabetes –- death in the line of duty doesn’t warrant much attention.
Is it that so many people have died in Afghanistan (this is the 72nd fatality -- 71 soldiers and one diplomat)? Is the media playing down the deaths, hoping we might not notice? Or, are we all just becoming complacent about the fact that we’re even over there?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn moon

It's hard to see that little moon in the photo, but in real life it just seemed to get bigger and bigger over the course of a lovely evening. It was a perfect night to get together with friends for a farewell weenie roast at Rennie's.
Officially autumn, as of way early this morning, the bonfire was the best way I can think of to salute the new season.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Can you say 'Arrrr'?

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! If you feel a bit silly, their website is pretty much fun.

There's even a translator feature on the site. When I asked it to translate 'Good morning, world,' a phrase that I thought might stymie it (just too ordinary and plain), it popped right back with "Aye, good mornin' world Gar."

To be truthful, I thought this was all pretty silly, until later in the day when I decided to punish myself -- not by walking the plank (that might've been more fun) -- by sorting and tossing old newspapers I'd thought needed saving.

The more I sorted, the more I kept encountering pirates. An enviromental piece about the Dominican Republic busily dissed the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise for its less-than-conscientious stewardship of the land there.

There was the obit for Canadian publishing icon, Jack McClelland. None other than Margaret Atwood was quoted as calling him a "genteel pirate".

Even the book review section got into the act with this headline, "Aye, matey, it's sailor's life for me." Really, pirates seemed to be everywhere.

So, ahoy, all -- and may the parrot steer a wide berth round yer shoulder!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Art, protests, and art as protest

I was one of the many who made it to the final weekend of the Monet to Dali show at the VAG. The paintings and sculpture were wonderful, but in some ways, the more important show was happening outside. The steps of the gallery have been the site of so many peace-focused activities, and today was no different. Of course, there were the usual hand-painted signs that said it all.

But one of the strongest pieces I saw all day happened to be 'in-process' -- someone adding an all-too-apt addition to the ridiculous Olympic countdown clock that's been plunked next to the fountain at the gallery.

Friday, September 14, 2007

BC Author Recognition Day

Even though the workers are still out on strike (whew, but the laneways are stinky!), Vancouver City Council managed to declare today as BC Author Recognition Day. This year's honoree, bill bissett, helped celebrate the event by reading a memory-filled piece he'd created for the occasion.

The reading was part of Alan Twigg's creation, Reckoning 07 -- a celebration of and commemoration of BC's publishing industry.

As recipient of this year's George Woodcock Award for Lifetime Achievement (formerly known as the Terasen Award -- do you suppose when Kinder-Morgan got involved, the commitment to BC arts evaporated like so much gas?), bissett will have a bronze plaque installed in Library Square.

Now if only bill could be our National Poet Laureate...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Welcome to Assbook!

I've been asked by host, Juan Dosa, to say something about the latest thing in social contact networks. After Facebook, what else could there be, but Assbook.

Here are a few random shots of some of the lovely asses of Assbook.

Shy Ass

Shiny Ass

Bride Ass

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Literacy Day (or is that Listeracy Day?)

It seems appropriate that today, International Literacy Day, the Vancouver Sun’s arts
pages should feature a literature-related installation in the gallery at SFU.
It’s a new piece by Douglas Coupland and presents 50 books that he’s read more than once.

This made me think about some of the books I’ve read multiple times. Top of the list (I’m sure I’ve read it at least 33 1/3 times) would have to be J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. The ‘third’ would be for the last time I skimmed it, when it played a role in a Freedom-to-Read event.

I’ve started a list of other books that I’ve read more than three times. These include, in no particular order:

Earth Abides by George R Stewart

all of the Tintin books (Hergé)

David and the Phoenix by Edward Ormondroyd

The Narnia Series (all seven books) by C.S. Lewis

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (first book only fits this ‘many times’ category) by Douglas Adams

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

The Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

Looking through these, it becomes obvious that my taste for repeats finds its focus in fantasy, children’s lit, and science/speculative fiction. In other words (so what else is new?) – I can’t seem to grow up.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


What is it with summer? For me at least, it gets in the way of some things that are important to me, especially blogging.

But once again, September's here. As so many others have mentioned, this month seems more like a new year than January does. Still, I feel as though some of the summer's events need attention.

The photo at the top is from one of our annual summer highlights -- visiting friends at Cusheon Lake on Saltsping Island. I took this when we were out for a paddle; the canoe is a great way to see all the life on the lake: fish, beavers, and even insect-infested lily pads. So many of the plants were curled up, obviously losing the battle against whatever it was that fed on them this summer.

An oddity in my own poor excuse for a garden was my favourite pink gerbera -- a gift from someone who knows about gardening, Elsie Neufeld. For some reason, it decided to go mutant this year. I never saw those petals coming out of the centre before.

And what summer would be complete without a dose of poetry? One of our area's few remaining independent bookstores, Whitby's, hosted an event to launch Andrea MacPherson's book, Natural Disasters. Unfortunately, the evening wasn't all it could have been, with the capuccino machine presenting the greatest intrusion. The event didn't seem to follow much of a plan, but luckily (pro that she is) Carolyn Swayze stepped up and did a lovely introduction. I wonder if I was the only attendee who was somewhat disappointed by the fact that Andrea read only three poems -- and this after waiting nearly an hour beyond the advertised start time. Oh well, the three were enough for me to buy the book and read it at home, so I guess the launch served its purpose after all.