What I Learned Under Lockdown

Awe is a necessary ingredient for a healthy human psyche, methinks. Without that boundless childlike fascination with at least one thing, one tends to lose their beginner’s mind and become more susceptible to descent into general awfulness. My current thing is something they tell me is called React, which in a nutshell is the electronic equivalent of Lego…

Gonna build a castle on this thing. It probably won’t be a big castle, but it’ll be a castle.

The Bullhorn of SILVER BROWN

Now Playing: Chapters 5 & 6 (The Late Show)

A famous Zen master (can’t remember if it was Thich Nhat Hahn or not, but it most likely wasn’t) once described the Twitterverse (or something similar to it; the abnormal behaviour found on social media actually predates it by millennia) as an ocean full of gasoline. A collective monkey mind which the smallest spark will cause to violently explode. My former boss possessed such a monkey mind. I once casually described it in such terms to the executive assistant du jour. When the boss found out what I said, she went right ahead and proved my point in plain view of me, completely failing to notice I had proven it. How could she notice? She never had the beginner’s mind to notice such things. From her perspective, she was the stable genius who was always right, and I was always wrong. Because she went to Harvard, and I didn’t. The executive assistant (who also didn’t go to Harvard) quit in disgust a few weeks later upon realizing I was right.

Years later, she who attained Eternal and Everlasting Rightness during her time at Harvard went wrong. Very wrong. As in, attempted murder wrong. Going insane and stabbing a dude doesn’t fit any definition of Rightness that either I or the Crown are aware of. A couple of weeks before The Incident, she spoke to me on the phone. One final time. With a tone of voice that sounded very loving and motherly, she told me I had a “brilliant mind” and that she was proud of me. Make of that whatever you will. For me, it felt like a Luke-unmasking-Vader moment with a faint tinge of Lovecraft to it…

…except she was a werelizard, so it was something more like this.

Since I obviously have plenty of practical experience dealing with monkey minds, I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two over the years about channeling their energy towards more beneficial ends. In many ways, the outrage culture makes the Sea of Tweet ideal waters for the maiden voyages of new chapters. If a creative work of any sort can survive a perilous trek across the great ocean of gasoline, then she’s seaworthy and can be brought to port.

Chapters Five and Six of SILVER BROWN have had their maiden voyages already. Not only were there no devastating explosions to speak of, but I actually got some positive feedback to boot. Having passed the first test, these chapters shall now be archived at a rate of one page a day. On a platform with a significantly less restrictive character limit, allowing for the massive herds of happy-clappy types native to the area to pen their famously impassioned rants detailing why this author is assured of eternal damnation. In either title case or all caps. With the mandatory quota of at least three Biblical citations and a non sequitur reference to some “socialist” politician that apparently ruined their life. That platform being the Zuckerberg Tabernacle, of course. A late show is presently afoot there, for the benefit of those who missed the early show. Click or tap on Zuck’s head below to watch. The price of admission is your soul. Because it’s Facebook.

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If You Meet A Rednexiteer*, Hug Him**

…and if he protests and calls you every filthy name† in the book, hug him anyway. A smile is a friendly greeting to a dog who has interacted regularly with humans since birth. But to a wild dog who knows nothing of human civilization, a smile is always an invitation to a fight, irrespective of the smiler’s true motive⁂. How severely depressing it must be to go through life assuming every smile has hostile intentions behind it. I think we can all agree that the world needs much less depressing.

* Western Canada as a geographic region and sociopolitical entity is traditionally thought to consist of four provinces. As in, not two. Four. Out of those four provinces, two of them (who just happen to be the only two with oceanic coastlines, and thus potential ports to meet the all-important economic needs of a hypothetical new nation) have officially gone on record stating their desire to remain part of the Canadian family in spite of any current misgivings with the feds, and want no part of all That. The other two aren’t officially pursuing That either, but their respective governments are all too happily eager to milk That for all That’s worth in order to score cheap political brownie points with their constituents, because pathological misanthropy is the very heartbeat and lifeblood of today’s conservatism. I hence outright refuse to call That by its common name of Wexit. In light of actual observable reality, the Wexit label is a misnomer. Despite its origins as a satirical hashtag intended to ridicule the whole concept, Rednexit is clearly a more accurate (and therefore much more appropriate) term.

** The choice of pronoun here was deliberate. The Rednexiteers are another one of those angry white men’s movements who collectively kneel before the high altar of St. Cheeto of Mar-a-Lago. Like the Proud Boys. Or Super Happy Fun America. Or any one of those online incel gangs. Or whatever shady forum of the dark web Alexandre Bissonnette was involved with. If you ever meet a Rednexiteeress, you can bet your bottom dollar she became one largely at the insistence of her laid-off oil worker husband.

† Should the filthy names in question be racist or homophobic in nature, hug him twice. The predilection to blame all one’s problems on some marginalized minority group is one of the symptoms of Stage IV conservatism. As an aside, nothing says “my brain never graduated from junior high school” quite like the use of the word retard as a derogatory epithet. Or any portmanteau incorporating either or both of that word’s syllables. For fuck’s sake, if you absolutely MUST insult people, do it with class.

⁂ If the recent forty-third general election cycle is any indication, the Conservative Party of Canada is seemingly fond of using analogies involving dogs. I figured I may as well speak their language.

There’s an old koan which speaks of a fish and its relationship with water. A fish lives its entire life in water, but does not understand what water is. Water is such a ubiquitous and all-permeating part of the fish’s reality that the fish is completely unaware of it. It is unable to make any distinction between water and non-water, because it is oblivious to the existence of either. The fish finally understands when it is removed from the water, but dies shortly after. I reckon it must be the same way with people who live their entire lives surrounded by beauty…‡

‡ That last sentence is in all likelihood a steaming hot pile of horseshit, but I nevertheless thought it would make a swell introduction to these photographic and videographic mementos of my many travels to Wild Rose Country.


Yes, you can go canoeing in Lake Louise. You don’t even need to supply your own vessel; canoes and kayaks are available for rent in the vicinity.

This is not some taxidermist’s creation. I found this guy standing there on the side of the road somewhere in Jasper, mesmerized.

This guy dominates the Drumheller skyline. That’s me standing next to the big toe waving to the camera, to give you an idea of how huge this thing is.

Contrary to what some people believe, Albertans actually do have a sense of humour. Behold, the evidence.