Thursday, August 17, 2017

No excuses possible for Trump now


One of the better commentaries on the Trump fiasco. But ask yourself this: when does it stop?

A well-timed slide

I can't bring myself to write about this video, although I suppose I should, to put it in context. It looks mean, on the surface of it, to post a video of a massively-obese man falling off a golf cart. But this isn't just any man. (In fact, we're still trying to figure out if it's a man at all.) This is Steven Assanti, self-proclaimed superstar of My 600-lb. Life, and the biggest loser as far as compliance with the weight loss program is concerned. The man is a hurricane of dysfunction on every level, and is as crude and obnoxious a human being as I have ever witnessed, on TV or anywhere else. 

I am ashamed to say that I watched this episode AGAIN the other night, knowing exactly how vile Assanti would be. And I waited for the golf cart scene, waited for it because of his Dad's reaction as he stood there watching. He said something like, "He's fine, he does this all the time." And, in fact, he WAS fine, being extremely well-padded. The fall wasn't so much a fall as a well-timed slide. 

This planned accident ploy was a tried-and-true way for him to score narcotics from the hospital, a worse addiction even than food. The sad thing is that ratings go through the roof whenever they show the Assanti episodes (this was a four-part thing!). I know it's a sideshow, and I should be above all that, and only watch National Geographic Channel like my husband, but damn it, this is fine stuff. First-rate entertainment. It makes you feel so much better about your own life.

I have set Steven's famous slide to a musical score which I hope will enhance the experience for you. And made this little animation from screenshots of one of his rants. He is still very much a presence on YouTube, even after having several of his channels (including the infamous FatBoyGetDown) deleted. He now goes by the name of "K Smith".

Eggy hell: animation

He is a monster, not a man

The Klan

by Alan Arkin and David Arkin, 1951

The countryside was cold and still
There was a cross upon the hill
This cold cross wore a burning hood
To hide its rotten heart of wood

Father I hear the iron sound
Of hoofbeats on the frozen ground

Down from the hills the riders came
Jesus, it was a crying shame
To see the blood upon their whips
And hear the snarling of their lips

Mother I feel a stabbing pain
Blood flows down like a summer rain

Now each one wore a mask of white
To hide his cruel face from sight
and each one sucks a little breath
Out of the empty lungs of death

Sister lift my bloody head
It's so lonesome to be dead

He who travels with the Klan
He is a monster, not a man
Underneath that white disguise
I have looked into his eyes

Brother, will you stand with me
it's not easy to be free

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Make America sane again - PLEASE

I REALLY was not going to start here, because once you start, it's hard to stop. But some things come to mind that are hard to ignore.

"America First" is an alarming slogan, with its Third Reich simplicity and utter self-assurance, as if there is no other way to think. I am ashamed to say that Canadian writers have tiptoed around Trump from the start. One "journalist" wrote, "Hey, guys! You're great already, you don't have to worry about becoming great again!" The placating (shit-eating) tone of it was something you'd use trying to fend off a crouching tiger with a popsicle stick. 

Another "memorable" piece (these were in the Globe and Mail, not the Raccoonville Gazette) claimed that you should not allow a friendship to be compromised just because the other person is a Trump supporter. It was a call for civilized debate rather than argument, an agreement to disagree. This stuck in my throat then, and makes me want to vomit now. Agree to disagree about allying yourself with THIS. This. The piece went on to say you should have a lively discussion about the issues over a bottle of good wine (no, this wasn't satire!), like the literary discussions of old where disagreement was just a spur to yet more - 


The writer concluded that we should look at it this way. America is a "punk country" which has always gone its own way (unlike Canada, which is sitting here trying to figure out why Americans are suddenly aware of our existence). A "punk country" is drawn to a "punk leader", someone who's "sort of out there" but who may match the spirit of the times. So it's OK if your friend has alt-right sentiments lurking beneath his or her Trump fanaticism.


I don't know, maybe my Canadianness is showing through. I am as guilty as anyone of trying to send up Trump and make him look ridiculous (not that it's hard to do). I realize humour makes him a little more bearable, but it also keeps us from doing anything to change the situation. Religion used to be the opiate of the masses. Now it's satire. Satire makes us feel like we have some sort of control over the situation by laughing at the king. 


Not not not not not. We don't. We don't, and we will not. Not until he is OUT of there. 

Monsters of The Outer Limits: Best in Show

This is not the time for this, or maybe it is, with global threats everywhere: climate change, intractible human hatred, an astoundingly stupid leader of the free world, and nuclear war. Like everyone else, I have to cope with all of this every day and try to keep smiling, or at least keep my sanity and preserve and defend my joy in living. 

These aren't really new gifs - you can tell by the cheesy Gifsforum logo in the corner. I didn't want to make new ones, even though they'd be technically of better quality. But since when did The Outer Limits have high-definition picture quality?

Maybe what brought this on was noticing KVOS was running episodes, two back-to-back, on Saturday night. I have been enjoying them immensely. I find that in some ways, this series was much more disturbing than The Twilight Zone, which was more of a psychological drama. This is a good-old-fashioned creature feature thing, but never losing sight of what lurks behind the monsters. Nimoy and Shatner and a host of other soon-to-be famous actors pop up, which is always a joy. As a kid, this series scared me so much that I barely watched it at all.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Ghost moose: a dip in the stream

Ghost moose of Sweden

Wait a minute. Am I being hoaxed?

I feel very uncomfortable doing this but a number of factors compel me to get on with it, so here goes. Without going into this too personally, due to events beyond my control, there are a fair number of threats, most indirect, but some quite direct, and many very specific (what exact kind of gun should be put to what exact part of my body) made against my life. Mostly just suggestions that I be killed, etc, (quite graphic etc, often) with motivation, sometimes a cost estimate.

While I try not to let this affect how I do things too much and I know that the internet (which I love and is mostly a net gain, in part because it is through the internet that I came to know many of you good people and how i have managed to do much of my work) I have for a few years now declined all invitations to do public events. Several people who have looked at these things have been advised me against doing all anyone-attends-posted-online affairs and if you see me say I am in a place, I am not there anymore.

It’s not a huge thing and I know most threats are empty but I believe the advice is correct, given the number and nature of these posts and messages.
Anyway, now I have this book coming out and a number of literary festivals have kindly invited me to attend and I can’t. This is a disappointment to my fine publisher and of course and I really enjoy meeting readers.

I will have an invitation-only book launch here in Toronto, late September, when the book comes out, and I very much hope many of you will come.
The point to this post is this, I did promise, contactually and otherwise, to promote my book, and attend a number of public events. I can’t, and a fair number of you are in media one way another, and so here’s my pitch, I will happily answer questions about my book, and work, write you a few lines about life in general, donate a recipe for your publication, pop in to your podcast, wander in to whatever it is you got going. You name it, I will do it.
So, please keep me in mind if you have a space of slot I might be able to fill and thanks very much for your time and interest if you read to the end of this.


This VERY strange statement appeared today, posted on a Facebook friend's page, so it got into my feed. A very big question mark immediately formed over my head. I didn't know much about this writer, whose name I will mask for now, and when I looked up her publisher, this is the description I saw about her (which, as an author myself, I know is traditionally written by the subject):

(Writer Under Threat)
is smart, funny and very beautiful. She has the prettiest eyes. She describes her hair as iconic. That's how men think of her breasts. She is also a gifted writer. Elle Canada, The Globe and Mail, The Walrus and Explore Magazine are four of the publications lucky enough to have her in their pages. She has a lovely laugh and has been nominated for ten National Magazine Awards. She is also an excellent cook, terrific in bed and weary of self-deprecating chick writers.

So I sort of got the fact that this was a humourist of sorts, but what about that statement about her life being in danger? And therein lies the dilemma of social media.

As a humorist, a satirist I assume, irony and exaggeration are her stock in trade. Fair enough; I expect that. But what do I make of this rather long and elaborate statement? Is there any truth in it at all, or is it just an irony-tinged way of saying, "Hey, guys, I don't feel like doing any book promotion this year"? If so, those who are in on the joke, her loyal readers/fans/"in-crowd", will probably immediately know what she is talking about, and perhaps are chuckling away to themselves right now - threats on her life! Right! That's a million laughs.

Certainly the way she expresses the threat ("what exact kind of gun should be put to what exact part of my body. . sometimes a cost estimate. . .") borders on the flip. Her statement a little later on that it's "not a huge thing" seems equally puzzling. Threats on her life are not a huge thing?

So I was left in a state of confusion that made me unaccountably angry. It's happening again, I thought. Happens every time I turn around. We don't know what to take seriously, and what to - not. The whole thing was confusing in the way only social media can be confusing, triggering a weird, irrational shame. It's because you don't know whether or not you're being hoodwinked, and you feel you should know. You should know what's going on, but everyone seems to be speaking in some sort of mysterious code.

My first reaction when I saw this was, good grief, why is my Facebook friend in so much trouble? Then I realized it wasn't my Facebook friend at all, but this author (unknown to me - I don't live in Toronto) whom my friend was quoting. So, who was she, and why (actually, really, I mean) was she not going to promote her book?

People just don't go around randomly shooting authors, or making threats against someone who is no threat to them. Not in Canada, anyway. But if it IS true, what the hell is going on? She is a lovely, laughing, iconic-breasted humour writer, is she not? I just can't see who'd want to gun her down in cold blood. It makes no sense.

The truth is, I have absolutely NO fucking clue what to make of this, and it makes me very very uneasy. Just doubting it is giving me doubts, although I find I'm doubting half of what I read these days.

What do we take seriously in this era of fake news? What/whom do we (mis)trust? I was all ready to accept this at face value, until that little voice (the one I generally trust) said, "Wait a minute."

Wait a minute
. We have no proof at all that any of this is real. If it isn't, it's a great way to play on the paranoia that runs rampant these days, a way to tweak everyone's vulnerability and then suddenly say, "Hah! Had you going there, didn't I?"

HAS she got me going? For no reason, I mean? How big a fool am I, anyway? IS there anything to this? Yes, no, I don't know. I feel ridiculous for not knowing. If it's satire, after all (the way she makes her living), if she's not really going to be murdered in cold blood at a book signing, then perhaps the intended reaction really is a mixture of exasperation, bewilderment and baffling shame.

A salute to gelatine

The question: is it alive?

Beneath the glistening glaze lies "something", perhaps even food.

 May contain meat from a can.

Paralyzed shrimp trapped in aspic, lying in state on a bed of creamed glop.

Tuna treat coated with Ann Page Sparkle Gelatine Dessert, Lime Flavour.

A rectangle of white sludge festooned with designs from the cave paintings of Lascaux. 

 Spherical objects under red jelly, origin unknown. Eggs are optional

Squint closely, and a fierce face leaps out from the plate.

Drunken lima beans bob and flounder in congealed orange fluid. Happy holidays!

A veritable riot of arrested life forms, held in rigid suspension by the miracle of. . . gelatine.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Pink fairy - squishy-scary

Be aware that I don't choose these things. In my never-ending thirst for knowledge, they come to me, attracted, no doubt, by a mixture of curiosity and disbelief.

This thing, this whatever-it-is, like a shrimp shell with fur, or a hamster trick-or-treating in a lobster suit - it scares me to think that these things are scampering around, apparently cute except for the four-inch talons that could probably rip your throat out if you looked at it wrong. It was hard for me to believe it was real, so I had to dig around for more images, sort of like turning over rocks in your back yard to see what slimy things you can find.

This looks like a sea monkey, only bigger. It looks like a sea monkey might look if it actually stayed alive and grew into something, rather than dying in the first week and turning to brown scum on top of the water. 

Then I found one that moved. . .

This primitive, struggling, fur-clogged thing, this thing that looks like it should have died out millions of years ago along with the trilobite, is an animal so primitive, so small-brained, that when you lift it off the ground it keeps working its feet because it thinks it's still walking.

Having proven it actually exists and isn't just some taxidermic hoax, I had to Wiki it (my main source of knowledge these days), and found the following:

Pink fairy armadillo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Pink fairy armadillo[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Harlan, 1825
Species:C. truncatus
Binomial name
Chlamyphorus truncatus
Harlan, 1825
Pink fairy armadillo range

The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) or pichiciego is the smallest species of armadillo (mammals of the family Dasypodidae, mostly known for having a bony armor shell). It is found in central Argentina, where it inhabits dry grasslands and sandy plains with thorn bushes and cacti.

The pink fairy armadillo is approximately 90–115 mm (3.5-4.5 inches) long, excluding the tail, and is pale rose or pink in color. It has the ability to bury itself completely in a matter of seconds if frightened.

It is a nocturnal animal. It burrows small holes near ant colonies in dry soil, and feeds mainly on ants and ant larvae near its burrow. Occasionally, it feeds on wormssnails, insects and larvae, or various plant and root material.

The pink fairy armadillo spends much of its time under the ground, as it is a "sand swimmer" similar to the golden mole or the marsupial mole.[citation needed] It uses large front claws to agitate the sand, allowing it to almost swim through the ground in a manner reminiscent of swimming through water. It is torpedo-shaped, and has a shielded head and back.

The above picture may well be a hoax. I don't think it's a pink fairy armadillo, or any sort of armadillo. Take a look at those feet - they're made out of cantaloupe spears. Carmen Miranda could wear this thing on her head! And the eyes are far too big, made of blueberries or, perhaps, black olives. 

Pink fairies no longer scare me, not if they're actually edible.

But worse horrors awaited me. Salamanders. Giant salamanders. Giant salamanders that thrashed violently in people's arms. Salamanders that attacked. This one looks like a mammoth Chee-toh or a pizza gone terribly wrong. Except it seems to be made out of some sort of vinyl.

When I was a kid, I always wanted a newt, a toad, a mudpuppy, whatever I could catch that crawled or slithered. I would have loved to collect a salamander, but I never saw one, just read about them. Now I realize I was saved by the grace of God, by a divine Providence that snatched me out of the path of the Behemoth. What would these things eat? Why do they exist at all? What is evolution all about, and why is ANY of it here, when we started off as nothing?

I don't know if this cheers me up, or not.