Monday, 18 June 2018

A FAN’S NOTES

Late in the Game

While rooting around in the basement storage room last week I came across my old football. A Canadian Football League branded knock-off of a much more expensive and slightly larger official game ball, one that won’t make me cringe when it scrapes pavement. I held it for a moment and then mimed launching a 60-yard game-winning bomb as the clock on the stadium scoreboard ticked down to double zeros.

In the cabinet beside the football was a soccer ball whose internal pressure has ebbed, leaked into the atmosphere. Standing in the corner were my two wooden Sher-woods, each a quarter-century old but still perfectly adequate for a lone skater pushing a puck around on an outdoor rink: black tape on the blades, white tape over black atop the shafts to make knobby grips. There’s a tote bag filled with baseballs hanging off a coat hook, a stack of gouged pucks on the shelf.

In the downstairs spare bedroom there’s a bookcase filled with sports biographies and journalism. Leaning against it is an Adirondack Super Stik, a red-ringed bat I’ve carted around with me since my days in university. Tucked under the mattress is a newish baseball mitt with a ball crammed into its pocket. I bought it four or five years ago in a massive sports emporium in Butte, Montana. The leather is supple even if it’s a little jaundiced in colour.  Still, the Easton ‘Synergy fp’ is a worthy substitution for my mysteriously missing Wilson Bobby Bonds model, the best baseball glove I ever owned.

I’m getting on toward 60. I don’t play much of anything anymore except the fool, Scrabble, the radio, CDs and LPs. As I’ve aged I’ve gleaned some insight into myself: I want and need less and less (some music and books aside). Consequently, any once treasured or sought after possession that leaves the Crooked 9 in a bag, a box, on the bed of a truck or by any other means (ambulances not included) never to return is another victory for my late embrace of minimalism. Logic dictates that I should donate or throw away the various implements required to play childish games.

Though I still pay attention to the results, I have for the most part soured on professional sports. My lifespan is shrinking and I’ve got better things to do with my money and time. I’m tired of the agents, the lawyers, the crimes, the hype, the dope, the new revenue streams and the civic extortion. Full disclosure: I miss Montreal Expos baseball, and am beyond infuriated that the hockey Canadiens have been mediocre for nearly three decades.

It’s arguable that elite, blockbuster sport has reached its saturation point with fans. There’s too much going on in the blur of overlapping seasons. Every league has tinkered with the rules of its game, a sop to broadcasters, sponsors and advertisers. What’s left though is the essence of our games: baseball hides stained green, scuffed or deflated footballs and dried up, brittle hockey sticks. Nobody has to pay to play with relics like these.

Despite the merit of de-cluttering, parting with old sports equipment has proved exceptionally difficult. Every piece evokes a memory and all of it evinces a false promise that I may yet compete again another day. There’s a warm comfort too in old leather and wood that’s been used for nothing more than social distraction and a bit of exercise, a feeling a lot like listening to the red and blue Beatles albums on vinyl instead of the re-mastered and digitized 1 collection.

Bob Dylan once said that nostalgia is death. And I get that point of view, that of a vibrant artist who refuses to settle into stasis. I think of nostalgia as a mild hallucinogenic because we all innately understand that the good old days were accompanied by long, sleepless nights. Memory and history inform us of the monsters under the bed and in the wardrobe. Name a sin. Name a crime. Name the Four Horsemen, those eternal skeletal riders.

I can still throw a spiral but probably no farther than ten or 15 yards. I still have a decent wrist shot, never had a slapper. As a ballplayer I was all glove, no hit. I am surrounded by disused and distressed sporting equipment. There’s no pressing need to keep any of it. None of it reminds me of any particular game or exploit but rather the blessed respite of play, when everything else in the world and my life ceased to matter for a couple of hours. I used to know a guy like that back in the day.  

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Monday, 11 June 2018

SAINTS PRESERVE US

The Translator’s Blues

Tomorrow in Singapore the leaders of two enemy powers are scheduled to hold peace talks even though they are not officially at war. Tweeterdumbest, the 45th President of the United States will sit down with Kim Jung-un, the third generation nepotistic despot of North Korea. Issues on the agenda include nuclear weapons, sanctions and cyber incursions.

By virtue of the International Date Line (not to be confused with Ashley Madison.com) and a small tear in the fabric of space and time, meGeoff has obtained a leaked partial transcript of tomorrow’s historic summit. Enjoy this fake news world exclusive.

PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Little Rocket Man, you look like one of those chubby kids I used to bully while growing up in Queens.

TRANSLATOR: (Uh-oh.) The President extends his greetings and best wishes to the Supreme Leader.

DICTATOR OF NORTH KOREA: Face to face at last with the bumbling dotard.

TRANS: (Oh, no.) The Supreme Leader graciously extends his welcome and thanks to the President.

POTUS: Can you believe this guy’s haircut? Have you ever seen a stupider look? Stupid. Stupid looking.

TRANS: The President says that the Supreme Leader is well groomed.

DONK: I can’t believe his haircut. I have never seen anything stupider than that. Why is his skin orange?

TRANS: The Supreme Leader graciously accepts the President’s compliment and returns it tenfold.

POTUS: Who made your cheap suit? A Chinaman? Very, very poor. The fabric. Cheap. The best tailors in New York are Jews and Wops. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about.

TRANS: (Oh, Christ.) The President admires the Supreme Leader’s wardrobe and allows that he would like a similar suit himself to wear as a show of good faith, solidarity, peace and friendship.

DONK: His neckwear is strange. Perhaps its length compensates for the inadequacy of his manhood which he cannot find beneath his bulging belly without using the stumpy fingers of both hands?

TRANS: (Whoa.) The Supreme Leader believes that as relations between your two great countries continue to improve, many Western fashions will be welcome sights on the streets of his homeland.

POTUS: Okay, Kimmy, let’s cut the crap, cut to the chase. I made both those phrases up. Like them? I do. They’re clever. Very clever. Do you know what else I have? A button. A big red button. A big red nuclear button on my desk. And it works. It works very well. I know it works very well because I’m a stable genius. I’ll use it. Happy to use it. Excited, very excited to use it. I’ve been preparing my entire life.

TRANS: (Oh, man, they don’t pay me enough.) The President suggests there are many complex issues to be discussed and negotiated upon here in Singapore, and that time is of the essence. The President sees no reason why two well-respected and intelligent leaders cannot reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

DONK: I have long fantasized of having this doddering fool seated across the table from me executed by anti-aircraft cannon.

TRANS: (Uck!) The Supreme Leader says he shares the dream of world peace with the President.

POTUS: I’m hungry! Very hungry. Somebody get me a Diet Coke and a couple of cheeseburgers. Two of them, two cheese burgers. Don't poison them! Do they have McDonald’s in this shit-hole country? Is Singapore a country or a city?

TRANS: The President has been pleased with the course of this initial meeting in Singapore and suggests that perhaps this may be an opportune time for lunch and for both parties to break bread in a gesture friendship.

DONK: Did the Yankee imperialist buffoon bring any extra cheese burgers? I suspect so because he is so porcine. His mouth resembles a spuming anus.

TRANS: (I need a drink.) The Supreme Leader agrees with the President and makes a joke that common ground is often found over a delicious lunch of delicacies.

POTUS: I don’t eat barbecued cats and dogs, okay? I don’t. So wrong. Very, very wrong. Fat Boy Kimmy here looks like he eats a lot of them, strays. Cows. I like cows. Cows are good. Can they afford to own cows in South Korea?

TRANS: (Christ, two maybe three drinks on my break.) The President welcomes the Supreme Leader to his table.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Friday, 8 June 2018

EDMONTON EXISTENTIAL

Living on a Fault Line

The other day I had a long phone call with a friend of mine who was scheduled to be in Edmonton this week to deliver a talk about modern technology and its impact on various aspects of society to an audience of assorted deputy ministers and policy wonks. His message will be something of an admonishment; our leaders and authorities have been too slow to embrace its possibilities and opportunities, let alone keep pace with the velocity of the digitally loosed arrow.

Civilization is currently floundering somewhere in the primordial quagmire of a new historic age, one worthy of a proper noun in the future annals of human progress. The Industrial Revolution is over. Something else is happening right here, right now. I’ve been trying to navigate my way for a few years but I feel I’m baked into the middle of a Black Forest cake, I can’t discern the layers of enlightenment for the candied cherries and the cream trees.

Evidence of this period of transition is all around me, in my neighbourhood and on my street. The city’s livery firms are more responsive to my needs because they realize I can summon Uber instead of a taxi but I have to leave the neighbourhood to shop because our district’s modest commercial corner proffers brown paper window coverings and dust. Who pays the property taxes due on dead retail space and how does the City assess the value of a vacuum when ‘location, location, location’ really doesn’t matter anymore?

Blocks surrounding the Crooked 9 are undergoing neighbourhood renewal. The immediate area is clustered with machines, steamrollers, cement trucks, mustering crews and their own private vehicles. The project is a decade late, if only because Canadian cities are handcuffed by a legal inability to raise revenues for building, maintaining and expanding their required infrastructure. Anyway, I got mine just in case Edmonton hits that Detroit city flat-line. The gas company and a couple of telcos were ripping up what the City had just repaved, upgrading their hardware. Any soul on my street in a neon safety vest blends right into the occupation.

Two weeks ago one of my neighbours’ homes was broken into. Property crimes in the area are spiking. Employment in Edmonton is usually stable because it’s a government town anchored by a major university. Still, some sectors of the economy are suffering and idle hands… I was outside that afternoon, mowing the lawn and then repainting a stick of furniture in the garage. If I saw something, I didn’t know what I was seeing. Something else struck me too: I do not know the people in my neighbourhood as well as I used to. Here was the new gig economy at work.

There is always a stream branded courier van delivering Amazon wares. There are sub-contracted couriers too with magnetic decals on their car doors. Food is delivered by grocery stores, specific restaurants and app drivers who pick up meals pretty much from any place with a functioning kitchen. There are dog walkers and maid services on regular schedules. There are hired gardeners and landscapers, snow removal services. Nobody seems to possess a whit of inclination to do anything themselves.

Paying another to perform one’s mundane chores adds up. Consequently many homeowners in the area have developed basement or garage suites to ease existing expenses even as mortgage interest rates rise. Back lanes are crawling with legitimate strangers entering and exiting through side and rear entries. Tenants come and go. I never get to know them. There’s someone in the alley. So what? Around the front, some tenacious door-knocker is looking to raise funds for a soccer team, a jazz ballet club, an elementary school or some disease only an unlucky few acquire.

So unless the bad guy is masked and decked out in a Beagle Boys black-and-white prison outfit I’ve no clue who’s suspiciously treading in my patch on my watch. I am as mystified and confused about the new reality as those politicos my friend was engaged to lecture. I can sort of see a sea change but can’t make any sense of it. The lesson is simple: being blind in these times, ignorant, just won’t do.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

HUMAN WRECKAGE

The Cost of a Good Neighbour

Our backyard fence mirrored the London Bridge of nursery rhyme, falling down, falling down. Ann and I had delayed the project for two years, managing our home improvement expenses, allotting dollars to immediate necessity: fence or kitchen, furnace or fence? Besides, our jury-rigged system of bungee cords, twine and propping stakes had sort of done its job, much like an intern, a new hire or a boss-favoured incompetent colleague.

Another replacement had been on tap for two years. Universal health care is a wonderful privilege though the system’s gears could benefit from a little lubricant from time to time. Ann finally got fast-tracked for a shiny new titanium hip, time is irrelevant on bureaucratic clocks. Don’t do the hippy-hippy shake until the forms have been filled out in triplicate even if every day following a sleep deprived night becomes increasingly painful to endure. Disabled parking permits are nothing to strive for; that polite convenience masks a crippling curse.

Naturally both reclamations involving saws coincided even though our kitchen calendar clearly indicated they were to occur a week apart. Schedules are for other people, dictators who make them up and then can’t abide by them. It’s not spring so much in Edmonton as pollen season. Everything is golden, dusted with an impossibly fine yellow powder.

Surgery these days is very much an involved procedure. Last Wednesday Ann and I awoke at four-thirty in the morning: drink one cup of clear juice – apple or cranberry, scrub incision area, write YES PLEASE on left thigh, go to hospital with crutches and walker but no valuables. And meanwhile our backyard had become a Christo installation, flags and paint denoting the subterranean water main and gas line; a steel bin, three days early for the demolition of the rotten old fence, clogging the driveway.

Pollen season is also wildfire season. Wednesday was Africa hot. City buses alternated their numbers and routes scrolling above their windshields with FIRE BAN IN EFFECT. Following a visit with Ann after her surgery I took the train home from the hospital, 21 steaming minutes station to station. As I walked along our street a furnace gust of wind blasted a cloud of pollen from a giant fir as I passed. The powder clung to sticky me like corn meal on a ball of pizza dough.

I became even more annoyed as I neared the Crooked 9. Our fence contractor was pacing in front of out house. He was on his phone, elbow up, hand to ear. I thought, “Tattoo sleeves with green ink always look infected. Get off your damn phone and do your job; those things cannot be good for productivity. Maybe he’s talking to a vendor. The lumber arrived a day late, after all.”

He waved to me. A few moments later he hung up. He met me at the end of the driveway by the bin. He was pale, his blue eyes flooded with anxiety. I furrowed my brow and arched an eyebrow.

“I’m sorry. I hit the gas line. Just nicked it hand-digging the last post hole. An emergency crew is on its way.” I lit a cigarette while I digested his information. He said, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

“Fuckit.”

“How’s Ann?”

“Everything went very, very smoothly. Excellent. Thanks for asking.” I ruffled some pollen from my hair and scratched a little more from my beard. I smiled at him. If one job was destined to be botched on a day like today, well, who cares about a fence and a gas leak?  “I’m getting a beer. Want one? We can’t do anything anyway, only wait for things to get fixed.”

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

HUMAN WRECKAGE

Bite Your Tongue!

My mouth is full of scar tissue. It was crammed with sharp metal braces during the 70s. I’ve received blows to the head while playing sports and drinking at university beer bashes. I’ve escaped screaming nightmares by biting myself awake. Sometimes the simple reflexive action of chewing food gets complicated. Worse, I’ve eaten my words many times and serif fonts tend to go down like glass shards and razors.

Late last month I turned up at my dentist’s office one morning for my regularly scheduled scaling and cleaning. I was no sooner reclined in the chair with my back already becoming sore and my jaw unhooked like a snake who’s about to swallow a rodent when the hygienist said, “Oh.”

I said, “Umgh?”

“I’m going to take a picture for Doctor to get a second opinion but I think you’ll have to see a pathologist. You appear to have a pre-cancerous lesion on the floor of your mouth.”

I thought: Swell. And wasn’t the graphic warning on the packet of cigarettes in the pocket of my leather jacket the oral cancer one. Was this irony or mere pathetic fallacy? Coincidence and probability more likely, a random carton of Player’s from a random convenience store.

“Have you eaten any sharp foods lately? Potato chips?”

“Umgh.”

Meanwhile, would I like to watch the skinny television mounted on the ceiling? No. No, thanks. I’ll just stare at the Philips Econ-o-watt logo on the fluorescent light tubes and count the baffling number of holes punched through the t-bar ceiling panels. “We’ll just continue with your appointment.” And I’ll just live with the stuff you’ve sent reverberating through my head, listen to the noise of your tools and my silent voice. Fair enough?

So, I had 30 or 40 uncomfortable minutes to endure in a place I hate to contemplate cancer. The disease is slowly killing my mother. It killed my big brother. I believe cancer killed my father too in a way: Dad, a Second World War air force veteran, had his own health issues but to live longer than his first born child even as he himself was nearing the end of his life was just a little too much more to bear.

I thought: This could be bad, some sort of head cancer or something. The doctors will have to saw off my jawbone, remove my neck, cut out my tongue and extract my esophagus. They don’t do skull transplants. Maybe the cancer has already metastasized into my lungs and brain? And probably some organ around my stomach that I’ve taken for granted. What does a pancreas do, anyway? Fuckit, they wouldn’t even operate because some medical bureaucrat would sniff that I was a poor patient: “He smokes, he drinks and he likes deli food, pizza and hot dogs. He’s not proactive about wellness. Never ate kale. Can you imagine? Sad bastard deserves everything that’s coming to him and I hope it hurts.”

Scrape. Scrape.

I thought: Everything’s fine until it’s not. I just wanted the black coffee stains on my teeth polished away. As for dying, a cardiac keel-over shoveling snow would be a blessing, no disfigurement and minimal pain. Death itself isn’t scary but the Reaper’s method can be terrifying, torture, drawn out.

Scrape. Scrape.

I thought: This is just great, me dying of cancer in the dentist’s office. If Mom has to bury both of her sons that would reduce the family to just our sister and Mom, and they’ve been butting heads since 1954. Don’t want to leave a legacy of conflict. All right, at least my will is up to date and The Great Big Book of Very Important Documents, housing certificates of baptism and birth (in that order), insurance policies, copyrights, computer passwords, investments and other notarized documentation detailing my time on Earth is on the floor of the closet in the spare room. The paperwork is done except for my certificate of death. It’s all good.

Scrape. Scrape.

I thought: Stick with the original cremation plan because who wants to view a decapitated cancerous head in a very small open casket or an Amazon shipping box? Organ donation for sure, but my lungs and liver have been heavily used, not my call. I offered my brother a kidney toward the end of his life, but he already had two and they seemed to be working okay. Other internal bits and parts had failed him before their warranties were due to expire. I would have exchanged my existence for his but that’s an impossible deal to broker with another’s indifferent malignant disease.

Scrape. Scrape.

I thought: My death will be a hassle for Ann. She’ll have a lot on her plate following my departure. I know she loves me and will miss me but she’ll have to get on with things. I better formulate a play list; help her out with some details for the biggest day of my life, my end of life celebration which I don’t believe I’ll be able to attend. Ding dong! Geoff is dead! “Pow! Right between the eyes/Oh, how nature loves her little surprises.” Joe Walsh’s Life of Illusion, good one, “Wow! It all seems so logical now.” Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill: “Son, he said, grab your things I’ve come to take you home.” The wistful wisdom of the Faces’ lovely Ooh La La will be apropos if a little late: “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.” Oh, and Springsteen’s Better Days, this one’s going out to you, my darling Ann.

Scrape. Scrape.

I thought: Since I won’t be able to talk I must write it down for Ann: don’t forget that fabulous Rolling Stones boot of Dobie Gray’s Drift Away on YouTube. “Give me the beat boys and free my soul/I want to get lost in your rock ‘n’ roll and drift away… Thanks for the joy you’ve given me…” A good note to go out on minus my head and sundry organs, says it all about everyone and everything in my life, really.

“Okay, we’re done. Doctor’s just going to examine your lesion.”

“Umgh.”

“Geoff! Nice to see you! How’s Ann? I’m just going to have a look.” He got his fingers, his instruments and a bit of cotton into my mouth, manipulated my tongue, peered around, checked his computer screen. “Yes, yes… No, nothing’s changed since you started coming to see us five years ago. I’ve been monitoring it. There’s some scar tissue but your gums are pink and healthy and your teeth are strong. You have good genes! Have a great day!”

“Umgh.”

I thought: Well, it’s off to a great fucking start. Here it is, not even noon and I’ve already died and risen. Thanks for that. Christ.

My new novel The Garage Sailor is ready to ship. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

THE GARAGE SAILOR

A Man Out of Time

John Doyle, the snarky and often hilarious Irishman who scribbles as the Globe and Mail’s television critic has argued for years that intricate long form series have replaced the novel as the world’s favoured storytelling platform. He cites ‘The Sopranos’ as the seminal torque of transition, a show whose debut coincided with and encouraged the rise of specialized cable channels. His premise is difficult to refute.

There’s compelling anecdotal evidence on the ground. My nephew, a petroleum engineer under the age of 30, says none of his friends read. I know a couple of them and they possess university English degrees. There are too many other forms of entertainment readily available across a slew of electronic devices. In my circle of friends, the guys as they’ve aged have gradually gravitated toward non-fiction.

My novel The Garage Sailor is about the mostly male world of dedicated music fandom, B-sides, vinyl collecting and noisy chat boards. It’s a world I suppose I should’ve grown up and out of, a sort of sub-culture joy to be squashed by the realities of everyday life. But some old habits are so hard to shake. Upon reflection I realize I’ve spent five or six years writing a story which will appeal to no known demographic. Time well wasted perhaps. Then again, love, longing, greed and even nostalgia are universal human feelings, common traits. Does it really matter if your copy of Black Market Clash is the original EP, the extended CD or whether you even own it?

Alias Jones is a character in The Garage Sailor. A has-been, a dusty Canadian rock legend, a one hit wonder who sat atop the world in 1970, another man out of time, much like me. He was not all that difficult to conjure because my head is filled with useless information and trivia. I’m afflicted with the dreamer’s disease. Still, it’s peculiar what you retain through the years and what memories you tug at to create a character.

When I was growing up in Montreal the city had two competing English-language newspapers, broadsheets, the morning Gazette and the afternoon Star. Their Saturday editions were thick, stuffed with extra sections, colour comics and magazine supplements - square trimmed and saddle stitched. One Saturday I read and reread a magazine feature about Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Their album Not Fragile had become a massive hit; I was playing that record constantly in the basement on a cheap little Fleetwood stereo. The story mentioned in passing that Randy Bachman’s previous band, the Guess Who, had sold more albums than the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1970. Hmm.

What would my aged teen idol be doing as the 20th century morphed into the 21st? In 1991 my ball club, the Just Abouts, entered an annual and provincially legendary slo-pitch tournament held in Edson, Alberta. The gas station-pancake restaurant on the highway through town was selling a book which irrefutably proved that the Rolling Stones were agents of Satan. The headlining music act for the Saturday night shaker was Trooper, regrettable AM radio kings from back in the day, the 70s, and unfortunately, still working. Hmm.

My rocker needed a name. One bonus of my mother remarrying was colour television and cable - three channels from American border stations. There was a short-lived western on air around 1975 called ‘Alias Smith and Jones,’ sort of a network’s take on Newman and Redford, Butch and Sundance. Terrible television. However, Alias Jones sounded like a cool sort of stage name, not Ziggy Stardust exactly, but… Hmm.

The Garage Sailor is in part about identities: proper names, Internet chat names. Why would someone like Alias Jones come to prominence again so many decades after the height he’d hit just once? What if during his time in the stratosphere he’d recorded a song with an ex-Beatle who sometimes called himself Sir Winston O’Boogie? Glory days, lost weekends, pure gold by any other name: if only he could get the lone recording of the song back and top the charts one more time. Hmm.

The Garage Sailor has set sail. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

THE GARAGE SAILOR

Playing the Slot

I’ve been squirming inside my skin for more than 58 years now. Depending how you date its genesis, the release of ‘Earth Angel,’ ‘Rocket 88,’ ‘Maybellene,’ ‘That’s All Right’ or something else, I’m about five to seven years younger than rock ‘n’ roll. It shaped and informed my life and it still does.

The Garage Sailor is a novel about a fan, an aged one still finding comfort and meaning in the devil’s music. His unremarkable existence of reassuring routine is upended after he stumbles upon rock ‘n’ roll gold at a garage sale. A story I made up but worth writing and well worth reading.

In the nascent days of the since disrupted record industry, songs waxed by regional labels like Chess or Sun were more often than not distributed haphazardly from the trunks of reps’ automobiles. Record shops as we knew them did not yet exist. The classic example from those days is future Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s decision to stock vinyl in his family’s furniture store.

My outlet for The Garage Sailor is a digital storefront. Have a look at it at Megeoff.com. If you decide to purchase the book for $29.98, my obligation is to ship it to you at a reasonable, competitive price. I cannot afford you abandoning your cart at checkout nor can I afford red ink distribution costs to swamp an already lean margin. This is an e-commerce problem, my particular problem. There is nothing new under the sun and everything old is new again but I cannot turn up at your home wearing a seersucker suit, sporting a fedora and unlock the trunk of my Cadillac.

Canada Post plays the slots. Every outlet has at least one acrylic sheet that features a range of die-cut slots. If your package fits through one of them the carrier designates it ‘lettermail’ and not a parcel, and the crown corporation has staked its very viability on parcels. The cost saving between the two is substantial. I figured a reader’s threshold for being shipped The Garage Sailor within Canada maxed out at $5. I also was aware that The Garage Sailor at 275 pages, weighing about a pound and packaged in a bulky bubble envelope would languish on its digital display because of an expensive parcel rate of $12 to $13.

If I were to sum up my 25 years in advertising using the words of a colleague or client, they would read: “We’ve got a deadline and no budget. Make it happen.” Following a brief silent pause to wonder, “Why bother?” and then thinking, “Go fuck yourself and stop wasting my time,” I’d then set about solving the problem, a process I enjoyed. I’m solutions-driven, solving other people’s self-perpetuated professional problems is my passion! Christ. If your career induces ulcers, it pays to be fickle about your seeping internal organ fissures; they’re not to be wasted.

And so after I told myself to go fuck myself, I lit a cigarette and considered my problem with Sailor. I had to play by Canada Post rules, a slim slot package had to get to interested readers undamaged. The bar was set, $5. It was too late to shave the point size of the font and cut a few pages of the novel’s length. And call me crazy but at my age I appreciate legible text.

I had to game the system. The Garage Sailor is to a large extent about records. I hit upon the idea of wrapping the book in clear plastic food wrap. A layer of Saran would suggest LP packaging and keep the corners of the cover and pages tight, no dog-ears from sloppy handling. But I didn’t believe a standard kraft paper envelope would be sturdy enough for proper fulfillment although I had a hunch an unpadded envelope would fit Canada Post’s ‘lettermail’ slot.

My Edmonton neighbourhood is in transition. Older homes have been demolished. Lots have been sub-divided. New builds before they get their streetscape skins are usually wrapped with Tyvek, a durable and synthetic paper-like substrate resistant to tearing and moisture. I used to print banners and ice graphics on it. TYVEC, big blue sans-serif letters on every block and avenue. My mental gears clicked, “Hey, wait! I can buy envelopes made of Tyvec!” So I did.

All advance orders of The Garage Sailor have shipped. Discounting my time and the costs of Tyvec envelopes and leftover food cellophane, I’m losing a nickel per unit instead of $6 or $7. Even I can do that math.

 The Garage Sailor is ready to ship to you, at minimal cost. Honest. I've done my homework. Get aboard at Megeoff.com.