I'm working on something, okay?

Don't be asking where I've been. I've been on the job. Much of that job is waiting for this guy to stop laughing and just look at the camera already. JUST LOOK AT THE CAMERA PAUL.

paul

And then there's waiting for people to get out of the shot. That can take a while.

wheeee

Photography is hard, you guys.

foosball announcement

Attention germophobic foosballphiles: you no longer have to worry about contracting a deadly infection from overenthusiastic foosballing. It turns out that foosball tables have people who show up and clean them.

foosball cleaning b&w

Leave your extra-strength sanitizer at home with your surgical gown and mask. Foosball is the safest and cleanest game in America.

Except for Blood Spike Foosball, of course. That game is profoundly unsafe. And it's exactly what you're picturing.

vlt light

Cardboard Robot and the Queen City Distro

A while ago, a friend started something she called the Queen City Walking Distro. Part art project, part quiet rebellion against our rapidly senescing postal system, the Distro challenged local artists and musicians to come up with something that could fit comfortably in an envelope.

distro

I probably shouldn't pick favourites, but here it is:

cardboard robot

He has no name (but somehow he has a gender) beyond "Boardbot," which artist Ian Campbell has given him. I've been calling him "Cardboard Robot," but I admit that Boardbot is much catchier.

I've assigned Boardbot a friend. The friend appears to be a duck that's mastered the moped. 

leaning

Their friendship is epic.

riders

Today I realized that Boardbot's head was on backwards. I righted his noggin and gave him some sweet bling.

bling

Also: felt heart brooch, suitable for every occasion (does that look misspelled to you? Does 'misspelled' look misspelled to you? Does your face look misspelled sometimes, at those moments when you catch sight of yourself in the mirror but for a split second fail to recognize yourself? Does it shake you to realize that your own skin is a stranger to you? Yeah, probably).

lapel heart

Anxieties of Mysterious Trash

I found this trash slowly emerging from sidewalk snow on my way home today.

mysterious trash

It's a pile of little plastic tubules and random gewgaws. I feel as if I should recognize this stuff. At first I thought someone had been rolling a winter's worth of cigarettes in one of those old plastic cigarette machines, but I'm not sure if those things generate this kind of waste. Then there are the little red and blue plastic clasp-things to think about.

This trash is larger than my imagination. It exceeds my mind, creates a surplus of incomprehensible matter, an excess that exists in my mind as a formless anxiety about the state of things. These are Rust Cohle problems, but they plague me. Also, I need to stop eating at restaurants so much.

This has been brought to you by #Blogtildeth, a hashtag.

The dogs that haunt me

Lately, so many dogs have been invading my photography. Every time my lens swings around, some dog is slobbering on it.

maya

Just dogs everywhere.

chew toy

Dogs sharing chewed-up things.

zeus

Dogs moving out of the focal plane.

keira

Dogs without end.

Sample Dystopias

parking

Dome World

You live in a community under a giant Dome. Your entire existence is circumscribed by the soft curve of those great grey walls. The city is lush but orderly, large but not sprawling, and it contains the remnants of the human race. Outside, you are told, is a hellish, irradiated wasteland full of mutant beasts and barely sentient cannibals. No one has even ventured outside the Dome in, oh, ten thousand years. It's a long-term thing, this Dome.

The most popular show on Domevision is called Outerlands. The show traces the story of a group of attractive people who must survive in the world outside the Dome. Currently they're battling against a cannibal encampment called Namerka. One of the actors on the show is a friend of yours from Early School. She tells you that the backgrounds and landscapes are all done on computer and that the show's producer keeps hitting on her, but it's still the best job in the world. Domevision is projected against the Dome and everyone watches it from the windows of their Dome-shaped houses.

When Job Selection day approaches, you hope that the Omnisort will pick you as a cast member on Outerlands. After all, you're different than everyone else - more sensitive, more articulate, more spiritual than your classmates. But you are chosen to work as a Scrubber, one of the lowly labourers assigned to scrubbing the service tunnels underneath the City.

And there you discover a way out. And because of your above mentioned differences, you decide to attempt it. As you engage the vacuum seal on the door, you realize that you may be the first person to see the outside in one hundred centuries.

Outside the Dome, precisely as you have been taught, lies a hellish, irradiated wasteland of mutant beasts and barely sentient cannibals. Desiccated vines cling to rocky outcrops in a parody of life. Pools of diseased water bubble and steam. The air tastes like exhaust.

This sucks, you think. You hurry back inside and never leave the Dome again. Your death years later in the works of the main intake rotor at Substation #5 is regrettable but pretty common.


permission

Same World

In Same World, everything is the same as everything else. You're expected to wear the same clothes, eat the same food, say the same things and think the same thoughts as your fellow citizens. The Lords of Similarity emphasize constantly that this sameness is necessary to keeping society together. In fact, the Lords continue, if it weren't for the necessity of having the Lords around to enforce that sameness, they'd give up the title in a heartbeat and be just like everyone else. But as long as difference threatens to creep back in, they'll continue to be Lords and distinguish themselves by their title, their jumpsuits with the subtle gold piping, and their gigantic windowless skyscraper in the dead center of the city thrusting up into the clouds.

Helplessly, you have become a traitor to Similarity. You think different thoughts, feel different feelings and keep a small box of unusual found objects under your bed. These are treasures to you. Every night you remove the box from its hiding place and contemplate the little objects that you've found over the years - a pink beret, a cloudy blue jewel, a water-damaged paperback book written in an ancient language, and a postcard picture of a woman with a mysterious smile. People are instructed to submit such objects, usually found in The Ruins, to the Ministry of Similarity, whereupon the object will be destroyed and the citizen will be submitted to months of preventative re-education. But you love these objects for reasons that you cannot explain. You only know that they come from The Different Times.

One day you open your box and discover that one of the objects - the smiling woman postcard - is missing. Panicked, you surrender yourself to the Ministry of Similarity. During examination of the box, it is discovered that the postcard has slipped between the pages of the paperback. You are imprisoned, re-educated and released about a year later.

You attempt to return home, but all the houses look the same and it takes forever to find your place.

FAM-38.jpg


Municipal Park World

This isn't really a dystopia. You just happen to live in a municipal park. There are public washrooms and showers, a canteen, and even some playground equipment for you to get some exercise on. You have a small camo-patterned tent, which you've pitched in the bushes near the bike path. Best of all, a small petting zoo with a couple of goats and a pot-bellied pig provide you with entertainment and companionship. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you're living there illegally, for one thing. Plus you frighten local children. It isn't long before a story in the local paper draws unwanted attention to you. Soon, people are coming to spot "The Wildman of Grosvenor Heights Rotary Park." You try to blend in with the crowds, but your grimy clothing and increasingly tangled beard mark you. A university student interviews you, and clips of the Wildman start appearing on YouTube. At some point somebody figures out that you used to be in a grunge band, and old concert footage and t-shirts surge in popularity.

After several months of sustained attention, the police attempt to evict you, but a number of Wildman supporters - many of whom have taken you as a sort of countercultural Occupy mascot - show up to protest. Opposing sides square off. A fight breaks out. You wander out of your tent, ripped all to shit on Gallo Red, and are accidentally shot. You bleed to death as cops and protesters fight over your right to live as you choose.

Later your corpse is discovered and a wave of anger breaks over the city. The police station is firebombed. City Hall is occupied. Property is seized.

It is the beginning of the Revolution.

The goats and pot-bellied pig escape their neglected enclosure and are never seen again.

What to do: in the post of single-sentence paragraphs.

So you're in a post of single-sentence paragraphs.

That's all you get.

Just one sentence per paragraph.

And that's okay.

Why is it okay?

Because this thing we're embarking on together?

This post?

It's a journey.

It's a journey that will take you wherever you need to go.

Because posts written like this tend to be inspirational.

And super fucking vague.

You won't come away unsatisfied from a post like this.

Because you won't even know what you've read.

But you will know this:

It was really easy to get through.

Maybe you'll go out and set up your own blog now.

Or you'll boot up your long-dormant, near-dead, fish-flopping-with-gills-pulsing, blog.

And you'll write a post full of single-sentence paragraphs.

And somebody else will find your post.

And they'll follow suit.

And everyone will get rich.

You're rich already.

It's true.

The money.

It

What to do: in a ketchup factory

So you're in a ketchup factory.

Image by Neil Conway on Flickr.

Image by Neil Conway on Flickr.

At least you think it's a ketchup factory. Even through the burlap you can smell the concentrated reek of hot tomato pulp. Somewhere close by you can hear the noise of giant machines which are no doubt boiling down tomatoes and forming a kind of tomato-sugar slurry. Maybe the bottling is done here too. Who knows? You'd like to confirm your suspicions but you can't see a thing. It's dark in this factory that probably makes ketchup! But the heavy bag over your head makes it impossible to know for certain. This is how you make ketchup, friend. You never wanted to know how it happened but now it will be the last thing you ever know.

Kidding! This is just a mugging gone terribly wrong. We brought you to the ketchup factory because Carl has the keys and we don't know what else to do with you. Probably we could have just let you go, huh? Probably we still could, because you haven't seen our faces.

But you do know Carl's name. And you know that he works at the ketchup factory. How many ketchup factories do you think there are in the tri-county area? No, it wouldn't take long before you tracked down this place and found Carl at the industrial juicer and demanded your five bucks back. Because that's all you had in your pockets, buddy. Next time you should have more cash on you and then muggers wouldn't panic and kidnap you and take you to the ketchup factory. Just a suggestion.

What To Do: in a traffic jam

So you're in a traffic jam (transportation, amirite?) and you want to know what do. This isn't surprising; even though traffic jams are endemic to modern urban and suburban and exurban and semi-rural and rural living, many motorists still aren't sure how to proceed when bumpers start nestling up against bumpers and hundreds of drivers slowly realize that they're not going to make it on time to work/home/their cousin's bat mitzvah party. Here are some handy tips.

Photo from State Farm on Flickr

Photo from State Farm on Flickr

Realize that it's not your fault. Unless you're at the head of the jam or you've blown up a bridge, this traffic jam you're in is not your responsibility. Traffic jams are hybrid beasts of metal and misery and farts, and you're the morsel being digested in its fancy leather interior.

Do not despair. Traffic jams shrink space and slow time until nothing exists but the interior of your car. Meanwhile, you go from wondering whether or not new car smell is carcinogenic to exactly how carcinogenic it might be. Eventually you forget your former life and turn into an organic element of your vehicle, an unfeeling brain with vestigial connections for manipulating the True Body of the machine. Try not to let that happen.

Do not get out of your car. What are you doing? Where are you going? You think there's something out there? There is nothing out there. We've built a world of interiors rudely interrupted by outside spaces. Don't play outside's game. Get back in your vehicle.

Play the latest video games. You're in for the duration, so make sure you've brought along your video game console, HDTV, 7.1 Surround Sound speakers, microwave popcorn, microwave oven, broadband Internet router (in the likely event that your system and game will need to download updates), beer cooler or mini-fridge stocked with energy drinks. And don't forget extension cords, which you can use to plug your various appliances into a nearby home or business. You're all set for gaming fun!

Work on your screenplay. Insert a scene where your protagonist is stuck in a traffic jam so he goes "HELL NO" and blows up a bunch of cars in front of him and when he drives through the wreckage he locks eyes with a group of stunned Japanese tourists and says "Traffic is a bitch" and I guess I just gave you my million-dollar Hollywood idea, didn't I?

Check the sidewalks. Are the sidewalks relatively empty? Are they wide? Sidewalks are the new roads, you know. Hint.

Just stay home. Don't even get out of bed. You're only going to end up stuck in a traffic jam.

It is impossible to avoid some parties

Last Sunday on the Green Mile after the Riders victory. Schmutzie and I went out around 11:00 just as the public outpouring of good cheer and triumphalism was starting to dissipate. The solid crowds of 9:30 were starting to coagulate into little clumps of happy drunks who were more than happy to pose for me.

Damn but these people were in a good mood. I expected to find a dark undercurrent tugging against the incoming tide of joy, but people just seemed... happy. Even the guy in the Joker makeup seemed happy.

Oddly enough, I couldn't find a Rider Batman to go with the Rider Joker.

Technical things:

Hello curious people. These photos were taken in the damp night cold with my Lumix GH3 and stout 12mm 1.8 lens. I used my on-camera flash on to get a Weegee-esque look - a little lurid and forensic. Because I'm lazy I had the camera set to auto, which resulted in a weirdly slow shutter speed - hence the strange shadows and ghosts in some of these images. Next time I go out like this, I'm going to set my controls manually and get some crisper images. Not images of crispers, mind you. Unless there's some of kind of massive vegetable storage compartment celebration.

Draft slogans for my proposed new restaurant/principality Flavour Country

Hey folks! Pack your bags, because you’ve booked a flight... to Flavour Country!

Did you get your passport renewed? Because you’re on your way... to Flavour Country!

How about your visa? Flavour Country requires a visa for entry from approximately 70 countries! Make sure to apply at least 90 days before your departure date!

Don’t worry about the fact that you’re surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire and manned by armed guards… in Flavour Country! This is simply a precaution against rebels.

Stick with your guide when you leave the designated tourist areas (please refer to your guide books for approved Tasty Zone areas) when you’re in Flavour Country! Citizens of Flavour Country are the friendliest people in the world, but sometimes poverty and desperation can drive good people into committing terrible acts.

When in doubt remember this simple motto: Don’t do anything to get your organs harvested in Flavour Country!

Did you hear the story about the guy who took a photo of Flavour Country's Royal Guard and is still languishing in prison? Well you can meet him in person! Just take the wrong picture or talk to the wrong person or approach the Royal Palace... for any reason! Slowly forget your own name in a tiny cell underneath the Ministry of Finger Licking Goodness!

Endless blasted landscapes of raw earth and industrial tailings. Mile after mile a zone of death, the grim horizon unspooling a scorched and necrotic countryside like an ancient acetate print of Hell itself. And to your left you'll see Flavour Country!

Folks, this is your Captain speaking. We’ve begun our final descent into Flavour Country. Flight attendants. Flight attendants. Crosscheck please will you. Will you crosscheck please. Your Captain. The flavour is

 

how we became adorable

All weddings should take place in late September. Magic hour is impatient to show up.

 

Kristen in Victoria Park.

The calls to action

well goodbye to you too

Let's trust nothing and go home early. Let's

take a plane to the planks and shave our house

into a nest. Let's sleep like hedgehogs.

Let's try that new move we learned on daytime television

and follow it all up with a smoothie.

 

Let's cry into our hands and say Look ma the ocean! , rip

off our outerwear and dive in, eyeballs be damned.

Let's Columbia House Record & Tape Club in 1986.  

Let's Meat Is Murder for a penny and spend the years

drowning in cassettes. It's all verbs now anyway.

 

I'm nominated in prairie dog magazine's 2013 Best of Regina!

Hey look, I've been nominated for Best Prairie Dog Writer in the 2013 Best of Regina competition! This is very cool. Last year's Best of Regina came and went and I neglected to campaign for "my name in a picture frame," as they (actually nobody) say. I still won, but I felt like I didn't have an active role in the process. And I like to feel included.

Anyway! If you like my writing and think that my incredibly fragile ego needs a buttress or two to keep it from sinking into the foul marsh of my psyche (woah, how's that for a metaphor? Pretty slick, yes? See what I bring to the table? I hope buttresses work the way I think they do), I invite you to vote for me. I also want you to vote for fellow nominees Paul Dechene and Steve Whitworth, who both fill up the pages of prairie dog with excellent writing every other week. But in the end, there can be only one. So choose wisely. Um, hate leads to the dark side.

You have to register for an account to have your vote count, but it's a painless process. Go for it! Click here to vote.

 

Stuff to read and read

Outside the palace grounds, still there is Palinode. Oh well, what can you do. 

Weekly Reckoning: The Inaugurationing

3. DAMN, NOVA SCOTIA. A survey on marijuana use in Canada has come out, and it turns out that British Columbia is not the pottiest province around. That honour goes to Nova Scotia, where 14.8% of respondents to the Stats Canada survey affirmed that they had smoked the international healing herb within the last 12 months. Having grown up in Nova Scotia, this makes sense. BC came in second at 14.2%. Dead last? Good old productive Saskatchewan at 10.1%, where we just drink to forget.
The first edition of my weekly news roundup on the Dog Blog! I've got my own artfully designed logo and everything (all thanks to my editor Steve Whitworth and graphic designer Paul Klassen).

 

 Crepes, crusts and curated coffee: The Artful Dodger Cafe and Music Emporium

I like avocados. Don’t you? They may look a bit like Jolly Green Giant droppings, but avocado flesh is soft, beautiful, delicious without tasting like much of anything, and the pits, if planted, grow into towering lambent shrubs that will lurk in your living room and follow you from home to home until one of you finally dies. What’s not to like?

Remarkably, Regina continues to produce restaurants for me to write about. Somewhere in this city, either in some gigantic basement or hollowed-out building, a factory generates diners, cafes, bars, coffee shops, pizzerias, bodegas and every other possible food-bearing structure. One day I'll hunt it down.