Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I have always had this dream
to build me a house without stairs
Just a trampoline to break my fall

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

0 to 60 in Chapter 9, an Excerpt

I spent three weeks of my 19th summer loading shingles into a machine that applied a layer of grey paint to its contents (the shingles). At the end of my three week temp job I was offered, and I declined, a full-summer placement. The factory lunatics had given me a glimpse into what I would become after a full summer of such boredom. So it is difficult for me to imagine how Bumi, who has twice my intellectual capacity and was crazy before he began factory work, survived six years of it.

I do know that during those years he became an almost complete insomniac, consumed hundreds of books a year, lost complete touch with his coffee shop friends, and was in constant conflict with Ada’s family. It was only his devotion to Ada and his children that kept him living.

Baharuddin was born under the usual sheen of slick placental fluids and Bumi was surprised to find himself as amazed by his second child as he was by the first. Bumi’s dazed amazement inspired Ada to choose the boy’s name, a description of newness. Newness never fails to astound.

A week after Baharuddin’s birth, taking inspiration from ‘Roots’, which he finished reading while Ada was in labour, Bumi took his 7-pound newborn outside the hospital walls and cradled his whole backside in his left hand and lifted him to see the stars and the black heavens. He said, “Look my son.” Baharuddin cried as his white cotton blankets unfurled and fell around Bumi’s hand.

“Look son,” repeated Bumi in a loud deep voice. “I want to tell you something very important. You are immensely special and important. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. In this world you will be expected to conform and you will receive nothing if not pressure to be numb, to obey, to feed the collective ambiguity. Don’t let them do that to you. You are the most important thing, other than what you see high above and around you. Always remember that.”

Bumi gathered the crying infant back into his arms, covered him again and whispered gently in his ear, “You are more important than anything except the universe itself. God will never help you through this life and I am not a strong man. I will always give you my love and let you be what you want to be. The rest is up to you.”

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 26, 2006

G8 Pizza by Semsar Siahaan

G8 Pizza, painted by Semsar Siahaan

Pram Toer on Capital

"Capital is the energy that has, over the last four centuries, altered the face of the world and driven away to reservations, jungles, and the outback those peoples who would not compromise. Capital has joined together the peoples of all nations and races through war, trade, destruction, and financial assistance."
--Pramoedya Ananta Toer in 'The Mute's Soliloquy', 1988

Friday, March 24, 2006

2005 Highlight Reel

Top 25 hits of 2005, Chronilogically:

1) Weekends away - we leave Toronto one weekend a month
2) Raptors v. Pistons, platinum seats, Raps win, best - game - EV-errr, with Anthony Del Col
3) Tammy and Toni's Wedding!
4) All the people who scored jobs in their field through working with me
5) Working with Lionel Laroche on understanding and managing cultural diversity
6) Canadian Race Relations award of excellence, Calgary & visit w. Fernando, Guillo, and Leo
7) Easter weekend in NYC with Mary, Mark, Jeff, & Mike
8) Kittens!!!
9) Native Lands workshop, blew my mind
10) Winning a Vital Ideas award
11) Publishing an article in Now Magazine
12) 30th birthday extravaganza, movie w. MikeyZ, meeting Steve Forbert, surprise party
13) Benjamin-Szala Experience - stag party
14) M's summer camp for her birthday
15) Camping with the Cribbseses
16) Anti & Lena's beautiful boathouse in Fenelon Falls
17) Stag & 'Doe' in NS at Dooley's Pool Hall
18) The 3-week wedding to end all weddings
19) Giving Salman Rushdie a copy a short story I wrote
20) The Pilonszala wedding featuring me as MC
21) Justin Rutledge, Danny Michel, Bob Lanois, Andy Kim, live at The Mod Club
22) Late Fall in Ottawa with my Wife, visiting old friends Dam and Sue
23) Ingrid's return to Grapefruit Moon
24) Home for xmas
25) New Year's Eve with the craziest family in the universe

Goodbye monkey!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Manic-Depressive Self-Perception

Shirt off, deep in the mirror
chest protrusion, washboard abs
chiseled face, tanned Adonis
Ain’t nobody looks as good as me

Pimple-poppin’ scavenge
face all ravaged
body like a chicken
with Harry Potter glasses
ain’t no geek like a geek like me

Ideas flow
a river of genius
eloquent articulation
a gigantic penis
When Carlin needs a joke
he calls on me

My brain is dead
as I blunder through stutters
can’t find a joke
I’m a cigarette butt
ain't no loser like a loser like me

Look at all these losers
knots all tied
round their little minds
talkin’ all crap
obvious blue skies
oh how I wish
I had something to say
more interesting
than what I lost today
ain’t no bore like a wimp like me

Look at me now
top of the mountain
do you know what courage
it took to go here?

Let them have their safe little jobs
Steady cheques and benefits
I left all that behind me years ago
Couldn’t cut that 9 to 5
Too brain-dead to keep my body alive
Too courageous to be safe
Too ridiculous to be sane

All the girls here love me
The women too
The boys are mostly jealous
The men don’t have a clue
Me I’m not horny
or I’d surely score
That chip-dip looks good
and I’m no conversation whore
I’d rather be alone
in lonely creation
and loner cool
When you’re cool like me
alone is the rule

Who else is good enough to keep me company?
Who would wanna spend time with a loser like me?
with the tunes running through my head
Nobody knows the tunes like me
Each word triggers a new melody
Ain’t nobody can rhyme like me:
outrageous contagious perfection erection
Even the drummer don’t love music like me
and I’m too busy singing inside for conversation
Why can’t I get these tunes outta my head?
ain't no obsession like obsession like mine
dashin’ fast after breakfast to write my lines

Perfectionists obsess over inane detail
My edges rough like toughs from the Bronx
Poetry in the gutter
Artistry in jagged lines
Who needs right angles anyway?
Right angles are for squares
I never built a house
or wrote a perfect book
I don’t have the patience
for that measured editing
no discipline

I tell the truth
when I exaggerate
to make the points
of my own bias
run-on sentences
lists are my style

I look down on you all
I look down on me
Nobody else changes their mind like me
ain't nobody steady as a rock like me

The future’s mine
Infinite possibility
If I only had the strength
to make a home just for me
but oh I’m too generous
what generosity!
I share myself with the world
Repressed agility
The world is my clamshell
You can’t predict me
If I could just live in the present
I might stay happy

I got the power
Ain’t no power like power like mine
I humble the sun
Humble the redwood I never seen
Humble my admirers
Oh but I feel so weak
Too many temptations
Inability with creations
So much I don’t know
but I know all you have to tell me
My intuition is that good
Ain’t no instincts like instincts like mine
Don’t know how I’m wrong all the time

Ain’t nobody self-conscious like me
but sometimes I feel fine
Forgetting myself sets me free
ain't nobody free like me
Ain’t nobody free like me

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pramoedya Ananta Toer on rights crushed by arms

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a wonderful document but means nothing for those who put greater value on weapons than they do on the rights of mankind."

--Pramoedya Ananta Toer from The Mute's Soliloquy, 1988

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Stephen Lewis on Races - ARMS and AID(S)

"In 2005, the world will pass the trillion-dollar mark in the expenditure, annually, on arms. We're fighting for $50 billion annually for foreign aid for Africa: the military total outstrips human need by 20 to 1. Can someone please explain to me our contemporary balance of values?"
-- Stephen Lewis, in Race Against Time, 2005

Friday, March 17, 2006

More on Annie

Interestingly this article in the Guardian was reported on MSN today. Annie Proulx was none too impressed by the Oscars, or the winners.

I'm all for lambasting Hollywood ninnies and poking fun at the lavish self-congratulatory onscreen masturbation that is the Oscars. But:

1. I thought Crash was also a damn good movie,
2. I think every best-picture nominee is heavily marketed to the Acedemy, and
3. I think racism is every bit as important an issue to tackle as homophobia.

Sure, racism has been done. But it hasn't been done in. Intolerance based on race is as wrong as intolerance based on sexual orientation. Both are topics worth discussing. Both are movies worth making.

I actually think Brokeback was a better movie, and I agree with her that the Oscars are lame. But don't diss Crash as irrelevant or unprovocative. It's a worthy flick.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Art of the Short Story

On the way to work today I read The Half-Skinned Steer, a short story by Annie Proulx. She's the one who wrote The Shipping News (hated it!) and Brokeback Mountain, which started as a short story and is now a majorass motion picture.

The reason I hated The Shipping News was, I think, the lack of adjectives. The sentences were short. Choppy. Non-descriptive. Stacatto. Came out in spurts. It was. Annoying.

The Half-Skinned Steer was the opposite, whitelaced with apoplectic strings of bone-jarring adjectives that cut a cowboy's skin to the marrow and in the process pierce your stonecold heart with a pent-up piston.

The language she uses in this story is beautiful, complex. The whole story focused on an old man travelling back to his boyhood farm, now an emu farm, for the funeral of a friend, and being haunted by ghosts along the way. That's about it. The story was simple, the language comlicated. The result was really cool.

Then it had a crappy ending. I was overjoyed to see she has the same trouble with endings that I do, though I must admit she did a better job with the middle parts.

Some writers are better at short stories and some are better with long ones. I seem to be best at the in-betweeners, the almost forgotten novella. In my short stories I have a tendency to cram 8 chapters into 9 pages and neglect the details and the feelings. Before I bother entering any more short story contests (excepting perhaps one story involving a transcendental finger puppet), I need to narrow my scope and deepen my understanding (and love) of my own characters.

Thanks Annie.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

5 Page Stories

So I've been entering a few writing contests lately, submitting fiction and nonfiction stories. Most of them have some sort of vague theme and a word restriction. I'm now entering one that has neither, although "most submissions are under 40 pages." Golden!

Here's your assignment: Give me some ideas for stories. (I'm too tired from my day job to think of any.) I'll use my favourite suggestion and give its related suggestor 2-5% of my winnings, depending on how much I blow on foam noodles on my way home from the bank. Extra points will be given to any ideas involving finger puppets, especially if they offend rightwing homophobes.


ps. this badass was photographed by M during our honeymoon trails in Cape Breton, a magical place with magical rum.

Sweet December

At last I can get this monkey off my back. Or at least 3 quarters of it (gross). After this I want to compile a master list, pare it down, synthesize, etc. Why am I boring you with this shit? This monkey has actually given me a lot of pleasure looking back on what was probably one of the best years of a very good life. Sometimes when I have my head down and am ploughing through mounds of paper like a carpal tunnel molerat, I forget the joy. This helps me remember, even here in my box:

60) Working with Heddy, what a sweet and great person.
61) Working with Shintu, what a sweet and great person.
62) Suokonautio xmas
63) Driving home through a 25-hour storm to melodious Nova Scotia, arriving just in time for xmaseve dinner with Gma and Gpa
64) All that usual but always great xmas stuff with both sides of the family, xmas day stockings and whatnot
65) Dinner and games with Scott and Christine, two incredibly sweet and great people
66) New Year's Eve with the craziest family in the universe, pingpong, midnight buffet (after our 10 pm feast), dancing, fuzball

And that's it for last year: 66 of my favourite memories.



Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Women learn to defer to men, even when they disagree with them.

In 2000 I visited a very poor village in Makassar Indonesia, where they fish using traditional boats but not so traditional methods. Their boats carry dynamite to bomb reefs for fish. Cyanide is also used to kill fish for an easy catch.

My co-researcher and I walked along the harbour, which is filled with big pretty fishing vessels, and passed a whole slew of tiny fish, only a few centimetres long each. We climbed down the docks into the village, where the first sensations are the smell, then the sight, of a huge pile of garbage.

The houses there are tiny wooden huts with thatched straw roofs. They have two floors each, the bottom one for sitting, cooking, and eating, the top for sleeping.

The children went crazy when they saw visitors, dancing all around and smiling at us.
We were directed to a certain house where we met a very pregnant woman with runaway teeth. She was surrounded by beautiful children. We had to wait there a while for her husband to come. At first she would not talk to us without him because he is a very respected member of the community. But while we waited, she spoke to us about the well-water, which is salty, and costs 25,000 rupiah per month, which is a lot of money for a villager.

The house had a concrete floor and was very dusty, like the rest of the village, which is unpaved but also unplanted. The only light in the house was a very large television. There was a baby hammock hanging from the ceiling, and in it was a 4-year-old. He just hung there sleeping for the whole 90 minutes we were there, completely unconscious despite noise that could deafen the dead.

When the husband came, he talked mostly about money, or lack of it, and about tough times in the rainy season, when most fishermen take loans and have trouble covering them with interest. Being a boat-owner he was in better condition than most of the other villagers, who work on the boat for a small wage.

When I asked him which 'environmental issues' most affected his fishing, he did not understand the term in English nor in Indonesian.

While we spoke to this man his wife, who had been very friendly and talkative in his absence, was suddenly very quiet. According to other researchers I’ve talked to, this happens all the time. You can meet with a group of 30 women and one man, and the man does all of the talking. Have the man leave, and the women all contradict whatever the man has said. They’ll tell you he doesn’t know anything about the day-to-day running of the village because all he does is fish, eat, and sleep.

[You're assignment, fair reader: write a sentence with the word 'slew' in it.]

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 13, 2006

Of Conservatives and Others

So I've got myself into this little tiff with the cult over at E-NOUGH!, who don't have the sense of humour I would have expected from people who blog and read about Islamofascists and dead ex-presidents.

It all started when I wandered haplessly into the hornet asylum and responded to this post with my own idea for a really funny cartoon. Turns out they didn't share my sense of humour.

Ever since that time I've received a whole slew of of really interesting comments from someone calling himself (or possibly herself) Anonymous. When I 'googled' this name I found all kinds of fascinating quotations attributed to this person, but no biography. Too bad because s/he's said some really interesting things, like "a closed mouth gathers no feet," "efficiency is intellectual laziness," and "going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." Profound statements.

All this comes at a time when I've been reading a really interesting book called Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, by George Lakoff. The author's argument is that US conservatives are very smart people, and the proof is that they keep winning elections. If Lakoff is right, and I think he is, then the people over at E-NOUGH (being smart) are either insane or just really really angry and bitter, scared and brainwashed.

Despite their intelligence, it seems they've never been taught how to have a meaningful, engaging debate with someone who sees the world differently than they do. This judging by the responses to my post over there and the vitriolic tirade Anonymous has flooded my blog with.

On the flipside, perhaps my brainwashing is just different than their brainwashing. Perhaps we just have different sources of information.

I need to consider their mission and vision a little more and make sure I understand it, but this is my impression to date:

Mission: There is much evil in the world, and if we [US far-right conservatives] good people don't stamp it out, it will destroy us.
Vision: A world free of people who are different than we are, so that everyone remaining will get along.

So, of course, I like my own vision better: A world where people who are all very different get along and learn from each other's differences.

What do you think, fair reader? Which vision do you prefer?

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 12, 2006

So Different

So Different

Scanning the Mars horizon
for seaweed heroes
I asked “who will stand?
Who will be my guru savior?
Who will be my man?”
Bob Dylan stumbled
from the whiskey wasteland
Nietzsche denied my soul
Charles Wallace near off’d my head
Dragon slayers swallowed me whole

“To hell with them all” said I
“No heroes reside in this puppy pound.”
Rosie stood there observing
She caught me as I spun around
She held me there with her prayer-book eyes
Said “how about me?”
With that leprechaun smile
“I’m something you can never be.”

Rosie you think we’re so different
but we’re the same you and me
We both come from Africa
but live here in eternity
When we bleed
we both but sigh
and wait for lonesome privacy
before we let ourselves cry

Rosie led me through society’s gates
busting through if necessary
She showed me rows of orchard trees
We climbed together to reach the cherries
Dylan, Nietzsche, Wallace and the Knights
they followed far behind
Rosie never said a dull thing
and never stole my mind

The talks we had were of real life
True stories each single one
Personal tales of triumphant translations
and the pie eating contest fun
Nietzsche took notes and Dylan did coke
Wallace and the Knights chucked spears
Rosie with ballet-dance effort
assuaged each all of my fears

She said to me
“You’re not from my world
You don’t understand
these blacks these girls
neither not you
not any white man
though you may try
I don’t think you can
You’re welcome to follow
don’t expect to keep up

You’re allowed to watch
but you ain’t got the stuff
You belong with them
that are lagging behind
not leading with their hearts
but followin’ with their minds”

“My hero!” said I
my hero of mud
The source of creation
the source of these studs

Rosie you think we’re so different
but we’re the same you and me
We both come from Africa
but live here in eternity
When we bleed
we both but sigh
and wait for lonesome privacy
before we let ourselves cry

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

November 05 Highlights!

54) Ingrid's return to Grapefruit Moon
55) Dinner at Jyotsna and Sumit's - homemade Indian food, mmm
56) Watching myself on CBC news at the Pilonszalas house
57) Dinner at Sandra, Edwin, & Jose Pablo's and meeting little Samuel
58) Completion of first diversity training
59) Watching Miia in the women's basketball finals


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

HOME (Helping Out Mother Earth) - ahhhh

My latest publication, for which I was paid I'm happy to say:

So Many Benefits to Helping Out Mother Earth



October 05 Highlights

50) My first piece on Electoral Reform in Organic Earth Magazine
51) MikeyZ gets married! To Pamela P! With me as MC! At this beautiful in by Walter's Falls near Owen Sound - and we were the first people ever to stay at this Inn because this was the opening event, and the fall colours in the valley were stupendous, and we danced like freed banchees with good ole Magnum spinning discs, Mr. Z wore about 3 different disco suits after disrobing his tux - perfect.
52) Justin Rutledge, Danny Michel, Bob Lanois, Andy Kim, live at The Mod Club
53) Late Fall in Ottawa with my wife, visiting old friends Dam and Sue, watching the Senators discombobulate the Leafs


Monday, March 06, 2006

September 05 Highlights

40) Hitching to Fredericton, local hostel, breakfast with Nikki
41) Ride to Montreal with two very cool francophone Somali women
42) First down...Mont-ray-al! Plus free accomodations in a castle, French food, foreign film, strolling around killing time in one of my favourite cities to visit
43) Train ride to Toronto
44) Mom and Dad's first visit to me in the T-dot
45) The party that rocked the world, largest buffet table ever, hiphop dance lessons, 200 of our closest friends
46) Cousins Tom and Pat who live in Scarborough yet I hadn't seen Tom in 20 years (nor have I seen him since, damn)
47) Derek & Alix's wedding
48) Stillwater Spa him & her massage
49) Giving Salman Rushdie a copy of 'The Obtuse Angel of Irreversible Alterations (and Irresistable Alliterations)'


Friday, March 03, 2006

Gabriel's Light

photo by Molly Crealock

Nocturnal Gabriel speaks softly
Staring hippie-eyed
at the neon dining room
globe of white
“Electric lights are so strange
We steal power
from the earth
so we can meddle
with things when
we should be resting
so we can rise with the sun.”

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How I Feel When I See

When I see some hypocrite solve the problems of the world with programs and products I get pretty pissed and start spewing alliterations agregiously, because no solution to unsustainability that involves new products is itself sustainable, and no program that ignores the power of people is worth its weight in paperless revolutions.

There once was a high-placed princess who surrounded herself in people to meet and A-listed every whiner you could dine who knew somebody higher up to help the cause.

On the other side of the table sat a shy invertibrate who stuttered and skipped when the sun was out and wanted nothing more than a little justice with his environmentalism, a little human health with his long-term plans, and maybe a little fairtrade with his coffee in the jagged edges of the morning.

The stares they shared across the tree-fallen boardroom table could have melted Chernobyl all over again. "I'm sorry," she said with a royal sneer, "but your people are too disadvantaged to be of any service to us."

So crushed was he that he transcontinentaled to find his long-lost Bigger Brother in Japan, and left all that sustainability stuff to the people who could apparently afford it.

Must..get..thru...highlights - August 05!

34) Stag & 'Doe' in NS at Dooley's Pool Hall
35) Swimming in Barrett Lake, crokinole, canned beer, hoops, sunshine
36) You know, the wedding
37) The hotel, ultimate fighting championships
38) Honeymoon in Cape Breton, hurricane winds and sandwiched tents, lightning storms over the ocean, hellacious hike into paradise where were seen pilot WHALES!, eagles, wild horses, roving maritimers, a naked red-headed upper canadian, seals, making love in the afternoon sunshine in the grass by a river, swimming in the ocean, an Ethiopean Indo-Canadian Caper with a slingshot for a wedding gift, sweat-lodging, smuggler's cove rum
39) hitting the open road with our thumbs out

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

July 05 Highlights

28) Going to M's summer camp for her birthday, surprising her with her friends Amanda and Leah, canoeing, soccer, football, sunshine.
29) The Toronto Outdoor Art Show, bought a great illustration by Jeremy Boxen.
30) Cafe Diplimatico, outdoor patio, new cd's, planning our wedding
31) Camping with the Cribbseses
32) Shopping for the sharpest wedding suit everrrrr
33) Sauna'ing swimming cribbage at Anti & Lena's beautiful boathouse in Fenelon Falls

Ahhh, sweet summer, where have you gone. At this time of year I always fear you shan't return this time.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?