Sunday, 30 January 2022


A Letter from Tony to the Edmontonian

Erratic, irregular and itinerant meGeoff roving correspondent Tony Intas checks in from the Sunshine State. American idolatry, or is the Second Coming just a statue with limitations?

There is the statue I would like to display it in the front yard of my beach house in Florida. It is a 7-foot (2.13 metres) Jesus. I am thinking that it would be a wonderful way to welcome people to the house. And as the house is near the town’s corporate limits, it could also greet people visiting the area: “Jesus welcomes you to Flagler Beach…” I believe this is a very good idea.

My friends, who share ownership of the house with me, do not agree. They want me to take it back to Montreal when I leave at the end of March. I said, "What about if I put it in my bedroom when I am not here?” They said no. I said, "What about if I put it in the outdoor shower when I am not here - you cleanse your body while Jesus cleanses your soul?” They did not like that idea either. Even though I believe Jesus to be a loving and caring God, I suggested that might the statue might scare away the deer who come and eat all of the flowers in the front yard; kind of like a scarecrow Jesus. They still said no.

Even though my friends go to church every Sunday, I am beginning to think that they do not like Jesus. I hope that is not true and that they are just worried about what the neighbours would think. Also, perhaps we would be in violation of some city bylaw or ordinance.

I measured the trunk of my car and the statue will not fit. Perhaps it would be disrespectful to put the statue there; kind of like a kidnapped Jesus. I could put the statue in the passenger seat of my car, but I would have to have the sun roof open all of the time, kind of like a Stanley Cup parade Jesus. What if it rains? I am sure the highway patrol would want to talk to me many times during the course of my trip back to Montreal. They would want to know why I am driving around with a 7-foot (2.13 metres) statue of Jesus in my car. I would then have to explain each time I was stopped. Also, I am sure I would be asked many questions about the statue when I arrived at Canada Customs and Immigration. Finally, I would then have to go through the same process all over again next year when I drive back to the beach house next fall, being stopped at the American border and then again and again by the highway patrol.

Even though I think it is a good idea, I will not get the statue for the beach house. It weighs over 1,000 lbs (454 kg) and I was told by the owner that it requires six people to move it. It would probably exceed the weight limit for my car and would damage the car’s suspension.

I can probably go visit the statue anytime I want. That is assuming that the statue is not sold or the new owner does not take it very far away.

My friends gave me a 5-inch (12.7 cm) statue of Jesus for my birthday. I really like it because I can take the statue any place I go without any problem. At the beach house, I put the statue next to the wooden turtle I gave my friend for his milestone birthday two years ago and the coconut that I mailed his wife from Molokai, HI for her milestone birthday. I think the turtle, the coconut and the statue are becoming friends.


Readers of this blog who find themselves in places where they don’t normally find themselves, actual or otherwise, are encouraged to write meGeoff a letter detailing their experiences and impressions. Get in touch with me. I’m on Facebook.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022


Why Eagles Dare

“Broadsword calling Danny Boy.”

My friend Stats Guy and I shared remarkably similar baby boomer childhoods even though we grew up in different countries and on opposite sides of the continent. Our pre-pandemic Tuesday Night Beer Club meetings covered great swathes of adolescent ground that was never tiresome to revisit: baseball, James Bond and the bloodless slaughter of Nazis in books and on film. His Christmas gift to me was a recent edition of Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare. I’d read it of course, but more than 50 years ago. I’ve watched the film starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood at least five times and I’ve a hunch I’m going to kick back and kick that number up a notch sooner than later.

Because movies used to unreel in neighbourhood and downtown theatres for weeks or sometimes even months at a time and television shows were broadcast on strict weekly schedules, the popular novel was a primary form of entertainment. I suppose I could write the same about pulp magazines or even any magazine.

Where Eagles Dare entwines the two fundamental plots of drama: man against nature, and man against man. Very simply, the story concerns a commando raid undertaken in bad weather. Naturally the target involves an impregnable fortress. The heroes are ruthless and resourceful. The women are impossibly beautiful. The Nazis aren’t just evil, they’re well trained too. MacLean’s prose will not elicit comparisons to fellow British novelist Graham Greene who dabbled in what he described as “entertainments” or popular fiction. Still, the reader is compelled to read. And read on. Where Eagles Dare was published in 1967. Three or four years later I was handed a Fontana paperback edition; that book was my first paycheque for work outside the home.

I grew up in a Montreal suburb situated on the north side of the island’s primary geographical feature, a dormant volcano. The Town of Mount Royal, whose construction was begun prior to the First World War, is what’s known in urban planning circles as a garden city, pleasant and pretty much self-contained. TMR’s design resembled a wagon wheel. The hub was a recreational greenspace surrounded by shops and services, churches and apartments. Its major boulevards spoked out from or led to its centre. Imagine a circle with a capital X superimposed upon it. Now, bisect the glyph with the Canadian National Railroad’s right-of-way.

The Laird-Canora Building, named for the streets it was wedged between, was a blonde brick office building, too angled and awkward to be a flatiron. Street level, actually about four or five steps up from the sidewalk was commercial: a restaurant (cherry 7-Up in a tall fountain glass with a straw), a stationer (weapons on the toy aisle), a hobby shop (Airfix models and soldiers), a delicatessen (doughnuts), and praise God above, a bookstore, Johnson’s Books. I haunted that place in the way I would later come to haunt downtown record stores, utterly enthralled by the cover art, gripping titles and the names of authors – so much more exciting than my own -  wanting everything but hostage to my means, a modest weekly allowance, and the goodies available from Mister Johnson’s neighbouring commercial competitors.

Eventually Mister Johnson tired of being shadowed. He put me to work. He had me move boxes. He had me unpack boxes. Soon enough, I was permitted to shelve books, reminded that new arrivals or new editions featuring different artwork must be displayed covers forward, facing the customer, spines would do for older stock. It was the best job I’ve ever had because it was essentially a form of extortion. I was paid protection money in paperbacks in exchange for my inexpert labour because every book Mister Johnson gave me ensured I wouldn’t be hanging around his business for the next few days; I’d be at home reading. I never had to say to him, “Gosh, Mister Johnson, it would be a crying shame if Fahrenheit 451 came true.” Our contract was never meant to last. Mister Johnson moved his shop to the other side of the mountain, downtown; increased traffic and no annoying kid’s grubby handling of his entire inventory. I don’t believe I drove him from TMR.

Where Eagles Dare transported me to the Bavarian Alps (now inextricably starring Richard Burton as Major Smith and Clint Eastwood as Schaffer), reminded me of an earlier era of leisure pleasure and brought a sliver of my childhood back into 35-millimetre focus. A story within and stories without. And when I note its spine on my shelf I will think of my friend Stats Guy. This is why dedicated readers tend to hang on to their books I think, both for their content and their context. There is meaning beyond the type. Even a modest library demands floor space, vertical square footage too, but there’s always room in my head to revisit a guided journey and refresh a memory.

When I paused while rereading Where Eagles Dare I kept my place in its pages with a Johnson’s Books bookmark with its seven digit TMR phone number. Yes, I still have one.       


meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of imprecise memory since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is my latest book. Visit to find your preferred format and retailer. Mister Johnson would've displayed it in the front of his shop; I know this to be true

Wednesday, 19 January 2022


Baby, Step Back

March ’21, Edmonton, weather fine, it was business as usual for Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu driving through a school zone, distracted by his phone. Maybe he was following up on the social media blow back to a recent Facebook post of his which explicitly stated that the federal government implicitly desired his United Conservative Party (UCP) government’s anti-covid measures to fail, Ottawa sentencing all Albertans to death hopefullywise. Anyway, Madu was issued a $300 ticket, compliments of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).

Madu, or one of his flacks, has since insisted that his phone was in his pocket and ergo he could not have been looking at its screen. The distracted driving charge then suggests he was fumbling for it, head down, hands off the wheel alongside a schoolyard. Important men must take important calls because important men don’t receive any other kind of call.

Everybody knows somebody and rarely hesitates to ask the odd favour. “May I please use you as a reference on my job application?” “Would you mind driving me to the airport?” “Since you’re out, do you mind picking me up a pack of cigarettes?” “Can I please borrow your chainsaw, a spade and some sturdy trash bags?” So, why shouldn’t the provincial justice minister phone his capital city’s chief of police about an annoying traffic ticket?

News reports indicate that conversation may have been something of an awkward semantic dance. UCP minister Madu, who is Black, was merely inquiring about the EPS’s ingrained systemic racism, and the service’s profiling and carding practices. Apparently, his road violation and subsequent fine didn’t even come up in his conversation with Chief Dale McFee because, God bless him, McFee wasn’t receptive to a high level hint. The fury here resides with an elected mediocrity’s self-righteous spin on unacceptable and idiotic popinjay behaviour.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has since requested Madu to simply “step back” from his cabinet justice portfolio. There’s no justice. However, the timing of this silly little scandal involving perceived entitlement and poor judgment is ironically apropos. The UCP has tabled legislation that will eliminate traffic court as of the first of February. Ticketed drivers without automatic access to higher ranking members of the province’s various police forces will have to go online to dispute their guilt. Win or lose, fees to do so could be as much as $150. Presumably the Assistant Minister of Eliminating Red Tape (there is such a modern Albertosaurus) is clearing legal backlogs with a sledgehammer rather than a gavel: the end of presumed innocence, with Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu steering the clown car through a school zone.

In other Alberta political news, the current UCP minister of health has covid. The previous guy was asked to step back because doing something next to nothing proved extremely stressful.

meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of Alberta political commentary since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is my latest contribution to the province’s white noise. Visit to find your preferred format and retailer.

Sunday, 16 January 2022


Notes from an Alarmed Luddite

Last week both The Economist and The Globe and Mail ran stories about the rising cost of real estate. In the metaverse. I sat back twice stupefied, wondering just when my grip on reality and modern life had begun to unravel. As far as I knew, the “metaverse” existed solely in a feature length Spider-man cartoon – I loved Spider-man when I was a kid; I’m a quasi-qualified adult now, somewhat evolved, Spider-man doesn’t matter to me anymore.

In this moment of time, the metaverse is in its primordial state. And there are a few of them, parallel metaverses. One becomes a real estate mogul in a metaverse by spending cryptocurrency. My mining involves borers and backhoes, catastrophic collapses, explosions, scarred landscapes and lung cancers. I can’t get my head around blockchain and computers mining various cryptocurrencies, dollars to drachmas. Are funds electric?

When did the future get ahead of me? When did my present become passé?

There was a time when one required a portal to access the world-wide-web, or Internet, a grand, expansive headspace quickly populated by gamers, lunatics and scam artists. A Mayflower of knowledge and democracy. And then internet became a common noun, sometimes it’s pluralized and even transfigured into interwebs. Portmanteau neologisms. It went mobile, so many dedicated internets, but it also stayed home because of the “internet of things,” consumer durables smarter than the consumers who own them and prone to gossiping amongst themselves about their owners. The Amityville Horror was just a house wired to the teeth via some sort of hellish router.

I used to think Bluetooth was a popular band I’d never heard, like Radiohead or the Flaming Lips. Political discussions with one of my best friends are strictly monitored by his Fitbit or a like digital sensor bracelet device. When it informs him his blood pressure is red lining, surging toward an explosive level, we quickly hop aboard the A Train and ride it to E Street or Gasoline Alley. Dial up a dial down.

Nothing ever goes as foreseen, as planned. I assume primordial metaverses will experience a number of big and bigger bangs, disruptions, chaos, before they evolve into a singularity that will not include jazz clubs and seaside bars. Yet a virtual land of hopes and dreams beckons from the digital beyond, lit by Coca-Cola signs, Nike swooshes and Amazon smiles, Times Square by Disney (been there, done that in person). A brave new world awaits crypto investors and trolls, a new addictive game complete with non-fungible tokens and suitable for the ages, all of them. As the creators of the metaverse will be genuine flesh, blood and bone humans, I’m confident there’s very little chance of anything going awry.

Digital progress has always struck me as something of a runaway mystery train, more wild Elvis than sophisticated Duke Ellington. But it’s always ahead of schedule, steaming into the station hauling a baggage car crammed with unintended consequences. I’ve missed the "5:15," out of my brain and killing time on a recently refurbished platform, roped behind a yellow line that cannot be crossed, mind the gap, scanning the real estate classifieds in a newspaper.         


meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of contemporary confusion since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is my latest contribution to contemporary fiction. Visit to find your preferred format and retailer. 

Monday, 10 January 2022


Ones for the Record Book

About four years ago I began to keep a list of all the books I’d read in a calendar year. This is a habit I regret not taking up 40 years ago. Not because I can’t remember what I’ve read (although the actual contents may be foggy), but because the simple statistical aspect intrigues me. I read 26 books last year. That’s my lowest total since I started to keep a record of my ongoing prosaic autodidactic education. I’ve been contemplating the reasons for my slump. There are a few.

I tend to read one book at a time now. When I was a drafted member of the workforce I always had two on the go, one on the night table and in my leather satchel for my commute. Transit reading frequently turned into engrossing misadventure. I packed works by James Lee Burke, Ian Fleming and John D. MacDonald. On downtown platforms designed to serve two lines I’d board the wrong train. If I got that part right, I’d miss my stop. It was something to pull my nose from a thriller or mystery novel to wonder where I was and what exactly was going on.

My preferred time to read now is bedtime. Some coffee and cigarette mornings I’ll finish the last 10 pages or so of a book that had made the inside of my eyelids too gritty the night before. Rereading the same sentence five times can be tiresome. I don’t read during the day because I’d rather be writing. Should I wish to avoid writing, I'm blessed to possess that rare and uncanny ability to stretch out the simplest five-minute household chore into hours. I have a PhD in puttering. To be ensconced in an armchair with a book when I should be puttering screams of laziness and procrastination.

Finally, there is the content of a particular book itself. I make an effort to limit or at least monitor my passive screen time, television or Apple devices. I’ve no qualms going to bed a couple of hours earlier than usual with a book for company. Alas, some volumes are not siren calls to the sheets. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a biography of cancer, my last selection of 2021, is hanging me up. The book is an eloquent portrait of a grotesque reaper but I’m frequently forced to pause because of the grimness of the subject matter, my own family’s history and my ignorance of molecular biology. The most difficult book I’ve read since I began keeping track of titles is William Manchester’s The Arms of Krupp. Its thousand pages were not a deterrent. The family’s business was weapons, and in the dynasty’s later years an alliance with the Nazis and the utilization of slave labour for profit posed no ethical dilemma. I may not be able to define obscenity, but I recognize it when I can bear to read it.

The posthumous publication of John le Carre’s Silverview will be my first read of 2022. It is a slim volume and will be something of a melancholic exercise. All of my favourite authors are now deceased. Le Carre was also a particular favourite of my father’s, so much so that Dad’s Second World War Royal Canadian Air Force portrait is on a shelf beside my volumes of le Carre – many of which came from my father’s library. Though I’m aware of my father’s anniversaries, his dates of birth and death, more often than not it’s been a book by le Carre that prompts remembrance. Since he passed in 2014, Dad has missed four novels and a memoir. That simple and somewhat irrational fact saddens me. Still, Dad frequently reread le Carre. His unspoken lesson was that fine writing, like a great movie or record album, is meant to be enjoyed more than once.

I avoid new year’s resolutions like, well, the plague. But I do intend to read more books this year than last. And so, here’s to something old, something new, something borrowed and something recommended.  

meGeoff has been your most unreliable, unbalanced and inaccurate alternative source of all things literary since 2013. My novella Of Course You Did is my latest contribution to contemporary fiction. Visit to find your preferred format and retailer.