Monday, 26 July 2021


The Calendar on the Kitchen Wall

Ann and I have developed a sort of pandemic verbal shorthand should our conversations careen into the abstraction of a more hopeful future: “Don’t ask me, I just don’t fuckin’ know anything anymore. Fuck.” We are vexed by vaccines, variants and the mixed, conflicting messages issued from various informed or possibly incompetent authorities. Meanwhile, well-intentioned conspiracy theory freakazoids wallow in a false nostalgic reverie: “Iron lungs and polio, oh, how they take me back. Times were simpler then and we were so happy. Forgive me, my eyes are getting misty. Do you have a sanitized tissue?”

If last summer was a covid full-court press, this summer is ambiguity bouncing around like a loose ball. I am unclear on how Canada is able to reopen our border with the United States two weeks before they open their side. Of course, I’m no diplomat, never have been. There must be nuances. The world-famous, legendary Calgary Stampede, a public party second only to New Orleans’s Mardi Gras in North America, went ahead following a year’s covid sabbatical. I wonder if that festival of a sepia-toned Canadian West will shake down as a super-spreader event. England has been paralyzed like a tossed bull rider by “pingdemic,” a wireless public alert system that tracks covid cases and one’s proximity to them. And then there is Tokyo (not the amazing Bruce Cockburn song) 2020 even though it’s 2021: My mind keeps on ringing like a fire alarm!

Warm weather here in Edmonton is gauged by my Crooked 9 Theory of 12 Mows. I will mow our lawn a dozen times between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving. A calendar count puts me at eight already although two were backyard only and so they may be combined and reduced to a one. Lawn mowing decreases in frequency as summer heats up and the grass becomes lazy with unsatisfied thirst. Ann has asked me not to number my mows on our kitchen wall calendar, just indicate them generically so her countdown to autumn during another lost summer isn’t so literal. Fair enough, but Ann’ll still have to proofread this post.

The national assumption is that Ottawa’s minority Liberal government will drop the writ this fall, maybe before I’ve finished mowing the grass. The party’s election platform will likely hinge on how it didn’t completely mishandle the covid pandemic and, as is Liberal tradition, a lot of cash was spread around the country. And there’s more where that came from. Hello, national daycare; I used to worry about the state raising children, but the pandemic has made me realize it’s a better option than home schooling.

Mark Carney, former governor of both the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, has refused Liberal overtures to stand for election in the fall. Perhaps he realizes the prime minister displays no aversion to sacrificing his cabinet ministers in order to save himself. Still, our charismatic and photogenic prime minister remains something of an oxymoron in designer clothing: an ineffectual autocrat. Perhaps a senior cabinet post doesn’t adequately encompass the scope of Carney’s ambition.

A function of power is the creation of its own behaviours and ethics. Of all the prime minister’s missteps and blatant breaches, it’s the WE charity scandal which has appalled me most. That the charity has paid his wife, his mother and his brother is merely politics as usual; foul, but no harm. What made me seethe was the Government of Canada preparing to utilize a benevolent organization as an instrument of policy on behalf of a segment of Canada’s youth. Given the historical parallels to our horrible and sickening residential school system, I’d like to know who thought this was a good idea in 2020.

Archaic mentality is best left to the Conservatives whose rank and file debates social issues laid to rest when Barbara Frum was still hosting the national news on CBC. The New Democrats are broke, busted, without dimes to spare for a fall election, brother. My anger with the Liberals has been tempered somewhat by my sardonic amusement with the Green Party of Canada. The Greens won three seats in parliament in the last federal election, but one member has gone into the wind, crossing the floor to sit on the Liberal side of the house. The earnest environmentalists’ implosion was sparked by rocket fire into and out of the Gaza Strip. I’m not sure that any Canadian would turn to the Greens expecting a coherent foreign policy statement regarding the chaotic state of affairs in the Middle East.

The Greens’ internal disarray is particularly disheartening as these peculiar times are serendipitous to the party’s raison d’etre. Canada’s wildfire season is like summer in the musical Camelot, ever longer and hotter. Farm crops are withering. While Canadians are used to messages of prevention, especially with health care, there seems to be little national will to prevent or at least mitigate the next climate-related catastrophe. There’s a patchwork national carbon tax in place, but come fall the spectre of carbon border adjustments could be a hot topic on the stump. These fees intended to nudge international trading partners closer to the goals of the 2015 Accord de Paris could just as easily be misconstrued as protectionist tariffs.

My favourite song of late has been “Rain,” that hypnotic, droning Beatles B-side; I guess that’s mostly because we haven’t had any. If it doesn’t rain, the Crooked 9’s grass won’t grow which means I can’t mow the lawn and make a note on the kitchen wall calendar. If I can’t mow the lawn, I can’t talk to myself, think things through. So, as pandemic time flashes toward fall, fuck if I know anything about anything anymore.             

meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of social and political commentary since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is out now. Visit to find your preferred format and retailer.

Monday, 19 July 2021


Saturday Night’s All Right

Ann said, “You’re having fun, aren’t you?”

B.W. Stevenson’s neglected 1973 hit “My Maria” is 2:33 of repetitive addiction. But it was never produced for digital file compression, for earbuds nor the minute tinny speakers of pocket devices. The listener must move air, fill a room with fat, rich sound: Gypsy lady, doing miracle work for me

I am having fun. Saturday night started off with The Best of Sam and Dave. I’m seated on a footstool facing our stereo and cuing vinyl sides and tracks. I was doing the same thing forty years ago in a Montreal studio apartment with cockroaches for company. In those days there was a Maxell Chrome 90 cassette in the deck, the Dolby Noise Reduction switch on the second-hand Kenwood amp switched to OFF so I wouldn’t lose the highs. A notepad filled with themed mix tape song sequencing. Now it’s us having a lark.

From those days and cranked in the Crooked 9: God, it’s so painful when something is so close and yet so far out of reach… Tom Petty’s hook-laden, soaring jangle of despair with some portions of the vocal delivered full force, cocaine nasal. Take it easy, baby, make it last all night. A few minutes later, Ann and I danced ourselves from the kitchen, through the front hall and onto the porch accompanied by the Doobie Brothers.

There were two revelations in the night. One was music related. The second one was mildly embarrassing. First, Waylon Jennings’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” is not outlaw country music; it’s a Rolling Stones song. It’s prime Keith Richards riffing, a Telecaster statement of complaint and, curiously, fittingly, the Stones have even covered “Bob Wills Is Still The King,” the 1975 single’s B-side.

As for the second revelation, well, gee, I don’t have quite enough material to form a cult, engineer a new religion for subscribers. While refiling the Doobies my gaze paused on the spine of a Jim Croce album of Ann’s. I thought “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” would amuse us. Who does not know the words? And I was thinking way, way back to Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special and Wolfman Jack and the modern miracle of colour TV and how every Friday night show featured either Three Dog Night or Jim Croce.

Ann and I sat on the front porch. Time was inching toward midnight. We listened to the stereo through the open door. We let side one play through. “Operator” came on. Ann said she’d always liked that one. She wondered what would happen now should somebody dial 0. Ann could’ve said, “Why don’t you stand under our bedroom window and I’ll drop a water balloon on your head?”

Okay. So I did. Saints preserve us, somebody answered almost immediately. I almost dropped my beer. I was woefully unprepared, no words rehearsed, no witticisms. I blabbered about Jim Croce and Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee.” I’d no whit to wonder why the telco’s toll-free customer service line was significantly less responsive. The operator sighed before wishing me a long, slow ride into the gentle good night. I hung up too. Ann asked, “How’d that go?” She only heard the half of it. Mono, maybe.   

meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative insight into of the heart of Saturday night since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is out now. Visit to find your preferred format and retailer.

Sunday, 11 July 2021


Yet Another Breathless Update is awake and alive. This site dedicated to Of Course You Did is your link to various retailers, including Barnes & Noble and, naturally, Amazon. The most economical price for Canadian readers is through the FriesenPress online bookstore. Available editions include hardback and softcover. While I can’t pretend to understand the various ebook file options, there are multiple formats to choose from, they all depend on your thingy, I guess.

The first draft title of Of Course You Did was unwieldy, Pete and Tom Danger: Atomic Space Rangers! I was writing about the friendship between a pair of brothers who grew up in the late fifties and sixties. I wanted something retro, a title to suggest those times, something Tom Swift, something like Chuck White’s Treasure Chest, a Catholic comic book the nuns used to distribute when I attended elementary school. I shortened the title to Atomic Space Rangers! on the second or third rewrite. A lifelong friend who normally reads my stuff in its early stages refused to read the latest draft I’d sent him. I asked why. He said, “It’s science fiction. I hate science fiction.” I replied that it wasn’t, really. “Whatever.”

A focus group of one told me I had an off-putting title. And so I sat out on the front porch over the course of a few evenings and thought about the story I was attempting to tell, the relationships between my characters, the gratitude, the regrets. I’d used variations of a particular phrase a few times. My new title changed the tone of the narrative absolutely. My friend’s complaint also got me thinking about the jacket.

Tom, the narrator, a failed writer and the younger brother, sells print for a living. I’d spent 25 years in advertising marking up printers’ proofs. Registration marks resemble gun sights. Typography and fonts and their usage have always fascinated me. What if the Of Course You Did cover art not only presented my real-life changes but also suggested the usage of my “story within a story” (the science fiction parts) narrative device? And wouldn’t just two fonts without an illustration on a neutral background present well as an online thumbnail? Have a look at

meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of self-promotion since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is out now. If you read just one book in 2021, well, you’ve got a problem. Bookmark this blog for more breathless updates