Sunday, 26 August 2018


Stick It Where…

Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle and wellness company is coming to Canada! I’m twitterpated, lurching like an overweight Mick Jagger around the Crooked 9 in my non-chafing Lululemon athleisure wear!

On a related note, Ann and I went out for dinner last night. We were delighted to discover a new Mexican restaurant on the south side called Huma. Ann enjoyed delicious and spicy chorizo tacos. I had a beef burrito. The hot burrito was a thousand times better than the ones I buy at the 7-11 for less than a dollar and, alas, a thousand times more massive; I cannot pack away the groceries as I used to do, my hollow leg has withered over time.

I did however manage a few more beers when we got home. Consequently, attending church this morning was not a viable option. I’m delicate. Sensing a magical solution to my plight was just a phone call away, I rang up Goop Canada. The full, complete, entire, unexpurgated transcript is below.

Medically Trained Goop Marketing and Sales Consultant: Good morning! Live your dreams in the moment! This is Goop Canada. I want to help you today and maximize your wellness because you’re worth it!

meGeoff: Uh, hi. I’m not feeling-

MTGMSC: Fresh?

meG: Uh, a bit bloated actually, heavy, swollen. I ate-

MTGMSC: Love your body! Only you are you! May I suggest a vaginal steaming appliance?

meG: Uh, like carpet cleaning?

MTGMSC: Silly! It’s anecdotally proven to-

meG: Uh, what if I have a Brazilian, uh, a runner, as opposed to an area rug, broadloom, if you understand what I mean?

MTGMSC: It comes with adaptors because everybody is unique and special!

meG: Uh, see, well, I don’t actually have a vagina. I mean, uh, I really like them but-

MTGMSC: There’s always a different approach! A different solution! May I suggest Goop’s coffee enema kit? It’s a beautifully designed apparatus and very simple to operate!

meG: Uh, gee, well, the plumber was here the other day, over at the house. Our kitchen sink was clogged and none of those commercial drain cleaners had worked. Anyways, he said the worst things you can insert into your pipes are coffee grounds. They really bung up the plumbing.

MTGMSC: Goop’s beverage is a pre-measured mixture of soy, almond milk, mocha and cinnamon! Yum! It’s good enough to enjoy all by itself in a mug! Many of our wonderful Goop members do! You simply stick it in the microwave!

meG: You heat it up? Boil it?

MTGMSC: Oh, for sure! You want a nice, spuming froth!

meG: Uh, I don’t know… I’m not sure Goop products are right for me.

MTGMSC: Why don’t you sign up for our e-mail or Facebook club? Gwyneth will send you daily affirmations of positivity and wellness written by her spiritual mentors Suzanne Somers and Louise Hay!

meG: Trite aphorisms? I’m not sure they’re my cup of meat.

MTGMSC: Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! You eat meat?

meG: It’s an expression, a Dylan lyric from ‘Quinn the Eskimo.’

MTGMSC: But, but you eat meat!?

meG: Uh, sure, beef, pork, chicken, goat and sheep. Love cured and processed deli meats. I live in Alberta, eh? So I’ve eaten bison, moose, bear, elk, deer and, come to think of it, probably horse because I’ve had IKEA meatballs and God knows what you get in some of those dodgier burger joints. Hey, just last night I went to a Mexican restaurant.

MTGMSC: I’m going to be sick.

meG: You can probably take some Goop widget for that, a sharpened New Age crystal to shove into an orifice? You must qualify for an employee discount?

MTGMSC: (Garbled, indistinct.)

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

Monday, 20 August 2018


Here Be Monsters

Currently I am thoroughly engrossed in a book called The Universe in Your Hand. The author Cristophe Galfard is a theoretical physicist and a former student of the late Stephen Hawking. There is some prime intellectual pedigree there. Published in 2015 (and so perhaps already out of date in certain parts), the work is a primer on hundreds of years of scientific theories, experiments and empirical findings that are doggedly puzzling together the nature of our reality. From our teensiest nano bits to the vast quilts of spacetime, Galfard explains incredibly complex concepts in plain, elegant language. His analogies are somewhat easy to grasp and a wry, dry wit pervades the book’s 415 pages. When I finish The Universe in Your Hand, I will close it for a moment to reflect and then start it again from the beginning.

Because the human mind is able to traverse the known universe to a relative extent, it follows that synchronicity, a mind-bending concept of unrelated but eerie coincidences, comes into play. Ancient peoples would have blamed the trickster raven or coyote, maybe lesser gods in a pantheon such as Hermes or Loki. August has been that kind of month for me, Lou Reed’s catalogue has proved to be uncomfortably slight succor: ‘When it all gets too much, you turn the TV set on and light a cigarette.’ Me? I sit on the front porch with a beer and inhale the smell of the world burning.

The Flat Earth Society staged a conference in Edmonton two weeks ago. It was revelatory to learn that planet Earth is actually a cosmic dinner plate, or maybe a serving tray suspended in the centre of not just our solar system but everything included on the alien laboratory Petri trivet. Talk about a la carte. Sure there are still five oceans yet only six continents because Antarctica is actually a wall of ice around the rim that keeps us from falling off our precious Wham-O Frisbee. Dear God, now I’m really sweating global warming and climate change, as any rational person would.

It doesn’t matter that the constellations are different in each hemisphere. It doesn’t matter which way water spirals down a drain in relation to the equator. No, a ball-shaped Earth is crazy, an example of mass brain-washing. Proof is in established and documented nefarious precedents including the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the ultra-secret Bilderberg world government, the CIA-authorized assassination of JFK, the 9/11 inside job, Sandy Hook set-up, and the United Nations concentration camps in the basements of Wal-Mart stores. Every patriot excluded from the elitist ‘deep state’ knows the truth.

Apparently the conspiratorial cancer has so metastasized within the vox populi that honest people are afraid to come forward to croak as ‘Deep Throats,’ act as conduits to the fake news media. They won’t speak. That’s a huge concern because astronauts, airline pilots, astronomers, balloonists, sailors, science teachers and even disgruntled low-level government bureaucrats or contractors could step up, blow whistles and inform the rest of us that our world is really flat. Odds are there should be at least one squealer in such a large and diverse group. Odds are.

Odds are too that humans will act irrationally whatever the lessons of history. Madness is one constant of the human condition. There’s a familiar pattern to civilization extending its boundaries. The first stage is discovery and exploration. Next come the profit seekers eager to exploit a new resource. Economic activity in turn attracts settlers. Eventually, inevitably, the fighting starts.

So why shouldn’t centuries of frequently disgraceful human behaviour culminate with the nadir of Space Force? So it goes. It’s not even a surprise that Tweeterdumbest and his White House advisors are skipping the middle steps, instead leaping from a few decades of manned and remote exploration straight to a war footing by 2020.

Little is known about Space Force in utero. It could be a new branch in the Pentagon’s existing arsenal of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. It could be an auxiliary arm of one of them. However, despite the small stuff like logistics, badges, shoulder flashes and uniforms, the American people have been promised by the current administration that Space Force will be staffed by experts in space warfare. There might be a flaw in that premise.

Even if personnel from Area 51 are recruited to serve in Space Force, the likelihood remains that no human being alive or dead has ever engaged in combat in space. I cannot prove this because the United Nations and the Bilderberg have not returned my calls. Still, Sun Tzu did not write a book called The Art of War in Space which means there are no documented space warfare strategies or tactics to study in order to become an expert. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would make for a good primer even if it is essentially a remake of Run Silent, Run Deep, a gripping film about submarine warfare, a fictional engagement conducted over 70 years ago.

One of the many small pleasures in my life is the simple gift of lying in bed at night and reading a book. The closet door must be shut but I love an open window. I want fresh air and the sounds of rustling wind or drizzling rain. Once I put down a book like The Universe in Your Hand on my night table, I turn off the light and set my dream controls for interstellar overdrive. Birdsong precedes the dawn. Our ball of confusion has rotated and I can see our star once again. Get up. Put the coffee on. Feed the cat. The morning papers carry stories of Flat Earthers and Space Force. Back to bed, pull the blinds. 

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

Wednesday, 15 August 2018


Talkin’ Tech

Hey, are you mentally ill?
Your voice is kinda shrill

Screaming at your iPhone
Suspect you’re never alone

That Bluetooth in your ear
Is most becoming, my dear

See you got headphones on
But I hear that lousy song

“I bought Japanese sushi
You kick like Bruce Lee”

Let’s go to the rock show
Pay to watch one-inch video

And your pic on Instagram?
Hashtag: “I’m so glam”

The hell did you just Tweet?
A motor neuron missed a beat

You get a hit of “dopa-meme”
Checking on your Facebook stream

I don’t like to be with you
Us, and your device too

You can’t talk to me
Too many videos to see

You’re a world class app
A damn phone on your lap

It rang during the eulogy
You took the call sheepishly

Turn it on in a parking slot
Stare at it on a crosswalk

It’s time to drive distracted
Your future life redacted

My new novel The Garage Sailor is available now. Get aboard at

Friday, 10 August 2018


Pick of the Litter

Edmonton’s Kinsmen field house is a locus for community-minded fitness buffs. Why sweat the hamster wheel of private gyms? It is also a point of departure for cyclists, runners and, in my case, walkers who use the trails that go every which way.

The field house is on flatland, tucked up against a forested slope on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River’s urban valley. On its grounds there is more than enough room to be shared by a playground, a swimming pool, tennis courts, a softball diamond, a football field, a modest museum evoking the city’s birth as a fur trading fort, and, most charmingly, an stretch of simple, plain old, undedicated greenspace. Picnic tables and common barbeques abound.

The expansive manicured grounds are constrained to the west and east, psychologically at least, by bridges which connect the looming north and south ridges. To the west is the immense black iron High Level trestle bridge on its concrete plinths. Hard by that is a newer light rail transit (LRT) bridge with a breezy, swaying pedestrian span suspended beneath it, that much closer to the surface of the wide green river. To the east, just before the decommissioned seven-stack power station and the brick ballpark, are the soaring solar-white arches of the new Walterdale Bridge.

My walking loop begins at the field house. I head to the LRT bridge, cross the river, walk to Walterdale, re-cross the river and arrive back at Kinsmen. Two laps take me about an hour. I do not own a cell phone. Ergo, I do not adorn myself with wearable technology. But I do know that an army marches on its stomach and that the standard pace for infantry on the move in ideal conditions is about three miles-per-hour.

I like walking. I observe my surroundings. I reflect. I write without typing. I plan (but don’t tell God). Perhaps because the sandy dome of the Alberta legislature is always in view I began to wonder if I might not be more productive on my solitary strolls. Last Tuesday I set out on my walk carrying my rubber-coated gardening gloves and a white kitchen trash bag. May as well be useful.

I was mildly distressed when my self-appointed task commenced immediately in the Kinsmen parking lot. I soon set off with a seeded bag under a hazy, smokey sky. I could smell British Columbia burning. The park’s sunlit places had a strange tangerine hue to them. I wondered how far I should deviate from my chosen path to pick up litter. Five feet? Ten feet? I decided that used facial tissues were biodegradable and outside my private mandate. Debris on the ground beside a bin, as infuriating as cigarette butts beside an ashtray, I slam dunked. I filled my bag easily enough however, just one circuit of eccentric civic-minded behaviour.

The pick of the litter, the clear winner, was Tim Hortons coffee cups and lids which easily outpaced candy bar wrappers and salty snack food bags. And doesn’t a crushed, filthy coffee cup say everything about the state of Timmy’s brand under the cutthroat stewardship of Restaurant Brands International? I’ve no affection for Tim Hortons because better coffee is brewed in the kitchen of the Crooked 9. The chain’s media campaigns which peddle soft nationalism, rink rat Canadiana, make me gag even as I wipe a suddenly misted eye. I began to ponder what I could extrapolate from my collection of garbage.

Is Timmy’s the most popular quick service restaurant in Canada based on the volume of litter its customers generate? Or is it simply the national default for a relatively palatable cup of coffee? Are the majority of Tim Hortons customers ill-bred slobs for whom manners mean really big houses? Hard to know. The hard evidence was deemed garbage and thrown out.

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

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


Relics and Ruins

Early last week I bought a two-foot tall resin reproduction of a moai. It cost me three yard bags of empty beer cans – the recycling depot is just a few blocks from the local Home Depot and its outdoor garden centre - and so the monumental art of the Rapa Nui people has been appropriated for arguably tacky lawn ornamentation. But I really wanted an Easter Island head. I’d been hoping for a concrete one with its cranium scooped out so it could double as a bird bath, creating a concussed cartoon character effect. I settled.

It’s possible I spend too much time in my head. It’s staggering to realize what I don’t accomplish because I’m too busy sitting on the front porch or staring out the backdoor window. Still, a lot of thinking and processing gets done. Consequently, I’ve been dwelling on the root of my moai fixation. There’s no rational explanation; I’ve never been to Chile.

In my rock fan costume I arrived late to the Pink Floyd party. Many of my high school classmates worshipped the band. Fitting in with the stoners or any other clique did not suit me. I had a couple of their albums because everybody else did; I rarely played them. Later on in life I got around to really listening to Pink Floyd; I heard their music for the first time. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been such a calculated contrarian.

Some years ago, a friend of mine in Calgary, a graphic designer, took a welding course. The result of his efforts was a moai made of scrap iron which he installed in his backyard, already an eclectic place. His metal sculpture reminded me of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell. Of course it did. The cover of that album features a massive pair of angry robot profiles going nose to nose in an empty field, a manor house in the distant background. If you look at the two heads long enough, they blend together to become a single face, full on.

I planted my moai in the front garden bed so I can contemplate its stony expression from my usual perch on the front porch. It stares blankly back at me from under a dappling canopy of shrubbery, low scrubby juniper bushes near its base. It didn’t even blink when the cat sprayed it, so why the long face?

That stoic countenance doesn’t remind me of Pink Floyd whatsoever now. Instead, it transports me into the wondrous world of pulp fiction: H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, lost jungle cities and mysterious monuments on distant planets somewhere else in the cosmic spiral of the Milky Way. Home Depot sold me another portal to my imagination, cheap. Pith helmets and ray guns.

I took a picture of the moai nestled in the greenery. I saw it as the primary background image of a derring-do paperback; intrepid explorer, galactic queen, title and author to be superimposed later. Sort of a neat shot, I thought. As I swiped through the rest of my trove of some sixty saved digital photographs, I noticed a pattern. My eye is not drawn by the mundane. The pictures I take are usually from odd angles and perspectives. I like old buildings and tend to focus on their architectural flourishes, gargoyles. I like decrepit, crumbling things, tumble-down homesteads, dangling black iron fire escapes askew and rotting, weathered docks; places where things happened once and perhaps still do albeit in a different way.

My favourite photograph of mine is a landscape of an abandoned sugar factory near Kihei on the Hawaiian island of Maui. There is a single strand of rusted barbed wire in the foreground. There is history in the distance, the story of the “Big Five” sugar cartel, their foreign workers and their miserable working conditions, their baseball teams and the environmental toll of annual cane burnings. But I was dumbfounded too because that intricate, disintegrating hulk looked exactly like the liquid methane refinery I’d constructed on the Saturn moon of Titan as a setting for a short, dystopian science fiction story I wrote in 2014 (you can read the serialized Last Chance Gas in meGeoff’s February 2014 archive); I’d initially been inspired by the structures of the refineries east of Edmonton.

Every picture tells a story. Two of them. There is the documented history, incomplete with gaps and inevitable inaccuracies. And there is the secret history, the one created by the viewer’s imagination. In reality, my moai is a moulded hunk of resin mass produced overseas and since plunked under a lilac in the cat’s al fresco litter box. And in reality, on another level, it is so much more than that.

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