Category Archives: Change

Choice Animals

In the 2015 film, The Lobster, single people have 45 days to find a partner with at least one key trait in common with them (could be anything, love of the outdoors, matching catsuits, a hangnail), or be turned into the animal of their choice.

(Alternatively, they can reject romantic love altogether and, if they can manage the harrowing escape from society, live in the wilderness amongst a motley crew of single people known as The Loners. But that’s where the plot meanders about and becomes dry and rather unengaging.)

But still. A neat premise, that: the literal dehumanization of people who do not conform to heteronormative standards of coupledom, if not outright love. It is ostensibly a punishment for being single…though as a reward for not being in a relationship, there are worse things out there certainly.

Imagine it. Any animal. You choose.

The animal of choice for the protagonist, David, is the lobster: they are long-lived and anyway he’s always loved the sea. His brother chooses to be a dog. One woman chooses to be pony. Yet another hopeless person decides to be a wolf.

For me, it would be a hard decision.

But I think I’ve narrowed down the list:

1. A Cat.

So I can judge you.

2. A Galapagos Tortoise.

So I can be alone with my thoughts for 100 years.

3. A Bumblebee.

Hive mind, hive mind! Hivemindhivemindhivemind!!!

4. A Giant Squid.

Ten big arms so I can terrorize all the seamen.

5. A Pangolin.

So hot right now.

6. A Black Rain Frog.

My inner self turned out and made fabulous.

7. A Spotted Hyena.

Such a gorgeous laugh it’s crime not to have it.

8. A Dung Beetle.

Because why not a dung beetle?

9. A Caiman.

Like, an alligator, but not so much.

10. A Moth.

OK, for real. I want to be The Mothman.

***

I suppose….

I suppose deciding on your choice animal is, actually, a lot like deciding to commit to a relationship. Everyone has their reasons, their likes and dislikes and preferences for the long term, or at least for the foreseeable future.

Whatever those are, and whatever that is.

***

BONUS ROUND:

11. A Pelican.

I would really enjoy that beak.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Movies, Philosophy, Relationships

Beat It

A year taken month by month, a month taken day by day, and days taken by the hour. Break that down into minutes, seconds…

I’m told (I’ve been told) that’s the secret to getting by. I’ve tried it.

And so:

Yesterday now is tomorrow; September was five minutes; it’s already Christmas. I was never a child; dinosaurs roam the earth!

Beat-by-beat-by-beat.

10 seconds or a year, it doesn’t matter. Does it?

Just got to get through, and on to the next thing.

Whenever that is.

Like it matters.

 

 

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Filed under Change, Philosophy, Time, Travel

Big Beautiful Month

Hello October, you big beautiful beast of a month!

Here you are at last, and again.

It’s been too long.

Too many days not October, too many days of rain or snow or sun.

Too many days in waiting: the anticipation, the despair. No more.

Harvest time.

***

Some October Facts:

– October is gourd month. Did you know that? Don’t you know that? There are gourds galore everywhere, right now, and here you are just sitting there.

Thanksgiving is in October, in Canada. But always a week earlier than seemingly expected. How does that happen? October magic.

– Halloween, the 31st, culminates October. No other holidays do that. December 31st, after all, is a more an ending of one day and a year (one particular episode among so many others) only to begin another. October’s end is October’s and October’s alone.

October does not drag.

October does not blink.

October is a harbinger.

             For whom? Of what?

That is for October to know and decide.

Just remember that I told you so.

 

 

 

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Filed under Change, Events, Holiday, Time

Bumper Crop

As it turns out, the one tomato plant I bought on a whim because it cost a dollar (even though it was wilted, mostly dead or dying and seemed to be more brown than green) was the plant of the garden this year, producing, shall we say, a rather bumper crop of produce:

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As for the rest, a confession: despite earlier enthusiasm, I eventually left the garden to fallow…though before it can do that I suppose it needs “to rot.”

It is. Rotting, I mean.

Nothing untoward or gross – just a slow decay indicative, really, of my failure to provide care or manage it.

To care, I mean.

The other tomato plants died in the ungodly heat and for lack of rain, and water (two very different things, as it turns out). Likewise, the jalapeños and other assorted peppers (bell, ghost, habanero) perished. The squash and the mystery plants, though mysteries no more, were ravaged by vermin (raccoons, skunks, squirrels and rabbits, we had them all this year).

It was more than enough to demoralize, to quit. To not to care, not anymore.

I can only blame myself. And the gods.

I realize. I was too ambitious. Next year will be another year, at least, to try.

But that, I also suppose, goes without saying.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Death, Food, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

Shamone (Part 2)

We had veered off the TransCanada highway ages ago, deciding instead to follow the backroads that lined the providence – a network of ragged capillaries that spread out and fed the small places that dotted the landscape.

(There’s more of them than you’d think, these places; places such as these.)

Places that could not rightly be said to compare to the big places elsewhere, but which offered a break from the monotony of the road, nonetheless.

Places whose existence by the wayside remained contingent on their ability to attract the curious, the eager and the weary, and to capture their attention for just long enough, for that crucial moment, or two.

Places whose particular claim to fame included tours of forsaken industry (mines, factories, mills), offerings of historic (or historical) points of interest (a fort, a trading post, the birthplace of some local notable, fictional or otherwise), and (my favourite) roadside attractions toting otherworldly monuments invoking hometown character or charm, standing resolutely in place and steadfastly against time. The quirky, the bizarre, the aberrant, unabashed, on full display, for all the world to see:

WITNESS! Bow Island’s orange-footed, sheriff-hatted, cartoon-faced statue of one “Pinto MacBean,” smile askance, holstered gun at the ready, gloved hand a great, keyhole-shaped oven mitt forever waving to passersby. Erected 1992 to signify “the importance of the dry edible bean industry to the area” (so says Pinto’s commemorative plaque).

 SEE! The World’s Largest Dinosaur in Drumheller. Purportedly the largest. I never verified (it’s not the kind of thing you verify). A nominal fee lets you climb the staircase embedded in this T-Rex’s fiberglass flesh so that you can peer out of her open mouth at people standing not all that far below (you can then, like Pinto, wave to them). Erected in 2000, she stands 25 meters tall and can fit up to 12 people in her mouth at a time.

 EXPERIENCE! The (slightly deranged) whimsy of the stuffed and mounted rodents at Torrington’s World Famous Gopher Hole Museum. The critters are plentiful, and are outfitted in cute little costumes as they engage in various hometown activities, like going to church, frequenting the local pool hall, or street brawling with animal rights activists. Admission also just a nominal fee away (two dollars, but that’s 2009 pricing). Established 1996.

 Witness! See! Experience! Between work, between school, between the responsibilities and expectations of everyday life, between us, we had all the time in the world to explore these places; places such as these where MJ had manifestly refused to materialize.

Now, though.

I found myself quietly singing along here and there as the pavement rolled on under the rusting carriage of Terry’s ancient Corolla, and there was nothing much else to do but stare up, into that enormous Alberta sky, out there, at clouds as big mountain ranges and a blue so intense it made you feel somehow flattered, and somewhat ashamed.

Stephen woke up with a start, then drifted off to sleep again. He kept doing that, never fully waking, not entirely sleeping. It got to be unnerving. “More MJ?” he asked. “Still MJ?” he breathed, then dozed.

Mae pulled back from the window and tilted her head towards the radio.

Terry drove.

No. Nothing much else to do at all but surrender to the vastness ahead and MJ’s omnipresence within, hovering over us, god-like, and with such measured indifference for all his omnipotence that always seemed to me prerequisite to being one amongst the gods.

The songs flowed, one after another as Terry flipped blithely from station to station, managing somehow to prompt no apparent break in the music, failing to rouse a voice from the ether to break the spell and confirm or deny what it was (whatever it was) that was happening.

The whole world has to answer right now, just to tell you once again,

Don’t want to see no blood, don’t be a macho man,

Cause we danced on the floor in the round,

Inside a killer thriller tonight,

A crescendo, Annie.

Celebrity, unleashed! MJ in all his glory, in all his incarnations, from Off The Wall (1979), to Bad (1987), to Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995), and on to Invincible (2001).

Thriller (1982).

We should have known.

But since we were drifting anyway, and with no particular destination in mind as the towns blurred together and it became difficult to know for certain which name belonged to which place, which attraction meant what, and to whom, it was, admittedly, kind of nice to have something familiar along for the ride.

We found the Birds of Prey Sanctuary more than we discovered it. Just east of Lethbridge, off Highway #3. Established 1982.

The clerks inside the gift shop were friendly and politely curious. Attentive in the way that clerks are when the arrival of patrons means a long-awaited reprieve from the dusting of pristine shelves and the wiping down of spotless countertops.

“Where you from?” one of them asked.

Terry and Mae and Stephen answered easily. “Ottawa,” they said. “Thunder Bay.” I hesitated, and then answered “Toronto” and then we watched as the clerks’ faces changed accordingly, as if something had fallen into place for them. I suppose they took that as their right. I guess, anyway, that it was at least their prerogative. This is such a big country.

It was by now late afternoon.

Did they not know about MJ?

“Toronto, eh?”

***

We stopped at a place not too far from the sanctuary for dinner. It was famous for its Italian-Canadian fare (that’s what the guy at the gas station said), but it was particularly prized for its gigantic pizza bread: great slabs of hot dough, the rough size and heft of a decorative pillow, leaden with shredded, multicoloured cheese and finished off with a spray of light green parsley not at all unlike the trimmings fired from the backend of a lawnmower.

(The description above, I assure you, does not do justice to the taste).

We settled in, ushered to a booth by an unnamed hostess. Someone looked up.

And there he was again.

Only this time a vision dancing in perfect synchronization with his sister, Janet, in the legendary Scream video, two figures effortlessly swaying, pop-locking and pivoting in zero gravity on a screen affixed to an unassuming corner of the dining room, close (but not too close) to the bathrooms.

“Look!”

The Incomparable Jacksons. The Immaculate MJ. Just east of Lethbridge, off Highway #3.

“Here too!” exclaimed Terry, pointing, eyes no longer heavy-lidded.

Our server, a man with a shining forehead, thick arms and little patience, may have heard the urgency in Terry’s voice. We were, if memory serves, agog. Certainly, I was and Stephen too.

“Don’t you know?” barked the server, snapping us to attention. “You don’t know?” he added more gently when he realized he had it. “He died. Michael Jackson’s dead.” He eventually left us with our food, carefully arranging it before us on the heavy, water-stained table.

“Died?” echoed Mae. “Dead?” she said, tasting the words.

Despite everything, given everything he had been and done and had become, MJ had never done that, never been that before.

It shouldn’t have been possible: Michael Jackson was dead.

Pinto MacBean, however, remained.

Remains.

Annie are you okay? Will you tell us that you’re okay?

It should not have been possible: something of the permanence of life as we knew it had shifted under our feet and left us stumbling for purchase. As sudden as it was, therefore, absurd. It was more than enough.

It was time to go home.

Time to head back and, if possible, redeem ourselves.

“I’ll drive,” Terry said finally, attempting a laugh around a mouthful of bread.

 

END

 

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Change, Death, Food, Friends, Music, People, Places, Pop Culture, THE PAST, Travel

Shamone (Part 1)

Michael Jackson was dead, though we did not yet know it.

Summer 2009. A road trip through southern Alberta had taken us across the badlands, past the mushroom-capped hoodoos in Drumheller, in rough tandem alongside the undulating trail of the Milk River, and on to Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park.

Our direction now, vaguely north. Back to the Calgary, toward where this whole thing began, then home again.

It had been a long time since anyone had spoken. After days spent wandering the park, after days, in fact, of traipsing through the various nooks and crannies of the province, we were dirty and tired and severely dehydrated.

I remember Terry’s bloodshot eyes as he drove on, the only one of us who knew how to drive stick and, therefore, the only one of us to do all of the driving (he resents it still). I remember Mae’s feet sticking idly out the open window, her shoes long abandoned somewhere inside the car, and I remember Stephen slouched over in the front passenger seat, snoring gently despite the hour, the rumbling of the Toyota a kind of lullaby in the afternoon haze.

Terry fiddled with the radio as he drove; mentioned something about how it was the only thing keeping him (and, therefore, us) alive at the moment.

And I remember, in strange succession, on radio stations whose frequencies seemed more like obscure mathematical formulations than simple identifiers (101.1 CIXF, 93.3 CJBZ, 90.0 CBRA), came all the classics: Bad (1987), Beat It (1983), Billie Jean (1982).

Thriller (1982).

And (my favourite), Smooth Criminal (1987).

Annie are you okay? So, Annie are you okay? Are you okay Annie?

Then came a few lesser known works, interludes between the real, genuine hits: Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin (1983), In the Closet (1992), You Rock My World (2001). Underrated, perhaps, in their day (or maybe just unremarkable).

Yet, they remained undeniable.

“Why is he following us today?” Mae said this, feet still out the window, toes lightly kissed by the sun. She asked this more than once, as the kilometers ticked by:

“Why now?”

“Why here?”

“Why MJ?”

There was an unease in her voice that spoke to our mixed feelings towards Michael Jackson – the one and only King of Pop, the man who revolutionized music and dance and fashion as we knew it – whose status as a cultural icon remained undisputed, yet marred by garish speculation of his (apparent) eccentricities (his health, his features, his monkey) and unproven (and hence all the more lurid) talk of his dark predilections.

A tarnished idol; a fallen star.

(But an idol, a star, nonetheless.)

The fame, the scandal, the infamy: he made for a formidable apparition. That he had become our unsolicited chaperone, just as we found ourselves at a loss at what to do and where to go, made this impression of him (made him?) all the more uncanny.

 

…to be continued.

 

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Filed under Celebrity, Change, Death, People, Places, Pop Culture, THE PAST, Travel

Open Secrets, Vol. 13

  • What goes around comes around around around.
  • Reverse Psychology vs. Emotional Blackmail.
  • Bad relationships —> Good Drama —> Bad Kharma.
  • Where are all the candelabras?
  • Back Talk vs. Forward Thinking.
  • Kingmaker, Starkiller, Widowmaker.
  • Missing: keys, cat, you.
  • Eat the whole thing.
  • Seen it yet?
  • Work family values.
  • Puff Up vs. Simmer Down.
  • Back again there and.
  • Everlucky 13.

 

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Filed under Change, Communications, Relationships, Words, Work

Open Secrets, Vol. 12

  • Blame destiny.
  • Never the less.
  • Shamble if you have to.
  • Don’t know vs. Don’t tell.
  • Space Forced.
  • Aspirations & exasperations.
  • IT’S EVERYTHING (until it isn’t).
  • He smelled very well vs. He smelled very good.
  • You just don’t say.
  • Equivalences will take us all down too.
  • Poke that bear.
  • Feelings vs. Emotions
  • Culture, culture everywhere.
  • Who ever is tallest.
  • Don’t not.
  • Credit fate.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Change, Interruptions, Language, Words

Out Comes the Mystery, Etc.

The mystery plants are a mystery no longer. Unlabelled plants with board, squash-like leaves, purchased from the nearby grocery: 2 @ $1.99 (plus tax). They continue to be very green, have more proven their strength & vitality (and then some), and they are, indeed, edible.

They are Opo Squash.

Opo: a squash of the calabash type; lengthy, smooth, cool skin of chartreuse, with a mild, unassuming taste.

More:

The Opo plants, despite being mysteries no longer, continue to amaze, growing so rapidly and so large that they may end up taking over the garden.

Actually. It’s a little scary how much of precious plot I must cede, will end up ceding (have already ceded) because of my decision to buy and plant mystery plants in my garden.

They have tendrils, the Opo plants do, that snake along the ground between and through my other plants – the bell peppers, tomatoes and jalapeños – stealing away space, choking them slowly, remorselessly. As plants do.

The Opo plant leaves: they smell. Like a cat peed on them. Many cats.

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The weeds do not touch the Opo. Will not grow near the Opo.

Now:

The Opo have flowered, but with all they have so far done (and are doing), they have yet to fruit. What then?

What then?

“You like Opo, don’t you?” Stephen asked.

And I think: it doesn’t matter, though there was a brief time, I’m sure, when it did.

 

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Filed under Change, Hobbies, Plants, THE FUTURE

Open Secrets, Vol. 10

– Civility will not save you.

– Riddle me thus!

– The irreparable future.

– (Sometimes the fight picks you.)

– Who? vs. Who Dares?

– Now is a long time.

– Wonder about the premise?

– (Well, yeah.)

Whose: responsibility, choice, mans is this?

– Everyday, just so many heartbeats.

– Parts beyond wazoo?

– Who You Are vs. Who You Are Right Now.

– So many wrong words until the right ones.

– (If ever.)

– Someone to love vs. Something to behold.

– Oh! The inhumanity.

– Remember the punchline.

 

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Filed under Change, Interruptions, People, Time