Sunday, May 27, 2012

Best Columnist in Quebec!

Pretty in pink - flowers from my garden

This week's video:   irresistible-existential-french-cat-funny-video

I'm very pleased indeed to announce that I have won the Best Columnist  
in Quebec by the QCNA.

I'd like to express my gratitude for all those concerned and most
particularly the ones who make their way through my
convoluted humour and indulgent rants. Perhaps you all deserve the
award ? Thank yous always to my editor Lily Ryan and the West Quebec
Post. Illness alas prevented me from attending the gala but i imagine
it was a sight to behold! That's not what caused the riots is it?

This week's piece:

Oh the blackfly! The blackfly! Such discussions these days. I thought
I'd add to the ditties and poetry. Have a great week everyone!

The Black-Fly Effect

Now when Christopher Columbus supposedly “discovered” America, he is
said to have remarked that he had, through Divine guidance, found
Paradise itself. From this we can only conclude one thing: the man did
not arrive in the Gatineau Hills during black fly season. Had that been
the case, we in North America might never have gone on to establish
settlements nor invent the automobile and its insatiable need for fuel,
the price of which is presently making us all cranky leading some of us
into futile random driving patterns searching for a cheap gas station
thereby defeating the whole purpose of saving money on gas inevitably
leading us all to sit morosely on the back deck wondering if we’ll ever
be able to retire to a recreational vehicle for a grand tour of the
Grand Canyon before we get too old and crotchety.

This whole scenario is typical of the black fly.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that the price of gas
has nothing whatsoever to do with the black fly and cannot, in fact, be
blamed on the black fly which, being small, stout-bodied and
hump-backed with broad wings and short legs, should be in fact, much
more pitied than blamed. Don’t be silly. There are 1250 species of
black flies in the world and 110 of them can be found in Canada alone.
But here in North America, not one of the bloody things showed up long
enough to send Columbus back from whence he came convinced he had
discovered hell rather than paradise.  This is because black flies,
being nefarious, will only show up when you are sitting morosely on the
back deck bemoaning the price of gas. I think its because they prefer
blood on the bitter side and have been known to avoid all happy people
just as a matter of course. That is just my theory which has not yet
been put to the test because the number of raving-eyed positive
thinkers who have read “The Secret” are becoming few and far between
given the state of the world today and the impending invasion of Iran,
so I’ve not been able to gather together enough of them in the back
yard during black fly season to test my theory. Alas.

This of course, is what I was thinking when I went out to the garden
just last week to look at the dog-strangling vine which is insufferably
lush this year. Much like the black fly.

We know that this is the worst season for black flies since 1971
because we have scientists who study such things for a living. They
know things that we don’t know… For example, in Algonquin Park maximum
attack rates of the black fly Simulium venustum on humans, in June,
have been recorded at 78 flies/6.5 of skin/min (landing rate)
and 17 flies/6.5 (biting rate). The mind boggles. This is
precisely why I’ve established my Society for Protection and
Preservation of Scientists whose sole purpose is to teach Scientists
needlepoint who, given that the entire free world is being held hostage
to high gas prices, could actually do something more constructive than
standing in a field near a pool of water wearing a dark-coloured thong
and perfume in order to commune with black flies. Unless of course,
they happen to be young good-looking Spanish scientists, in which case
something constructive could come of it, as long as I have my
binoculars and a large net. However, I digress.

Save blood and gas. Don’t go out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

#the bitter twitter of my discontent#

Dark and Stormy Night / Photograph

Video feature this week. Mrs. Brown’s dog is very old and unwell.
The kids are trying to figure out a way to tell her that its time to put the dog down.

This is the bitter twitter of my discontent or
My, that’s a lot of bullshit in your hashtag or
I do not tweet therefore I am

Goodbye cruel world! On this dark and stormy night I have now concluded
I do not want to live in a twitter world.

I am simply going to have to do myself in, at least metaphorically. I
do not want to read 140 characters or less made up of little pretend
words of little value mostly by intellectually truncated minds.  (Even
if they weren’t intellectually truncated minds, there is no way of
knowing that in the twitter world.) I do not want to read vacuous and
insipid words that intrude on the poetry and prose of life as it is

Now the reason I know this is because I entered a twitter contest with
CBC. It took me three hours but I finally figured out how to use
twitter on my archaic computer, which is precisely why I was entering
the contest to win an iPad. (I live in fear of a dying computer.)  I
spent Valentine’s Day writing tweets for a Dear John break-up contest.
After submitting 46 tweets in 10 hours (and ghastly ones at that) I’d
pretty much figured out that I hated the damn thing with a passion. If
I could have written a break-up tweet for twitter I’m sure I would have
won hands down.

Not only was I horrified by this method of communicating. I was
horrified by the reality that this was a writing contest championed by
CBC long held as a guardian of Canadian literature. Using twitter as a
means to literary expression is like using Tupperware to serve caviar,
or wearing rubber gloves to accept an Oscar. I figure eventually if you
use Tupperware and rubber gloves you’re going to end up with baloney
and a plastic Barbie doll. One follows the other sure as night follows
day. It’s just a matter of time and evolution. But mostly I was
horrified to learn that this is what “people out there” are doing for a
good part of their day. This is what people at bus stops and in cars,
and restaurants and pretty much everywhere are doing. They are

There is a reason why engineers and IT experts are not in charge of
culture. I believe, with all due respect because to each his own,
engineers and IT experts, much like accountants are tidy people who
stem the anxiety of existence by creating predictability at all costs.
But then, life is not black and white input with immediate predictable
outcomes. Life has always been noisy and messy and ambiguous, full of
unanswered questions, innuendo, and subtleties conveyed in spoken
words, gestures, facial expressions and sprawling brawling torment
and/or ecstasy on the written page. Life is the waiting and the reward.
Life is pondering and musing. Life is sometimes soliloquy. And we have
handed over what makes us human to engineers and IT experts who have
chained us to little boxes in our hands. They are literally changing
our brains.

Are we now to live our life like newspaper captions and headlines? Are
lives now measured by the quantity and quality of #hashtags in our
repertoire? Where are the minds that would protest such brutality to
the human spirit? For godssakes!!! I’ll tell you where the guardians of
our culture are: they are on their twitter accounts pretending to be
cutting edge mavericks of a new-age revolution in words. They are
trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and all they’ve got to
work with is a bit of hair and grizzle. There are no watchdogs for
culture; there are only people who strive to invent culture where
culture is not. Twitter is a culture of non-culture. It is not a means
to creating culture either. At best it is a sad indictment of human
progress. At worst it is nothing more than minds with small ideas of
everyday convenience, tidbit newstories, and gossip that no longer know
how to explore the grand ideas. They are looking at the wrappers
instead of the contents. They are the dust jackets to a Tolstoy novel.

Of course I will not do myself in. I’m afraid that everyone will be
around my deathbed tweeting. I do not want to be a #dying hashtag.
Mostly I do not want to know that at my funeral someone is tweeting
about when the funeral is over.

By the way, or BTW for those so inclined, the break-up line that won
the CBC contest was “My, that’s a lot of Timbits in your mouth… “ I am
delighted for the person who won even as I am oddly comforted by the
fact that I have no idea why this won. I am even comforted by the fact
that I didn’t win because I don’t even know what an iPad does. Having
looked at it now after the fact I realize it doesn’t even resemble my
old faithful computer with a real keyboard. I think you’re supposed to
use it to tweet. Thankfully I write. I don’t tweet.