Flash Fiction Friday!

Angus was the kind of guy that everyone liked.

He was funny and intelligent, and he had the ability to mirror back to you your own best qualities, so that in every social situation, those around him felt better-looking, wittier, and infinitely more confident than they normally did.

Men especially found Angus endearing. While he seemed to embody all the masculine virtues – he was strong, forthright, brave, and good-humoured, and he knew a lot about Formula One racing – he was also empathetic and able to sum up one’s problems in life succinctly, in ways that often suggested a solution as if it were your own idea.

Not a pub night or an evening of poker was complete without his presence, and at the annual company Christmas party, he proved every year to be the best wingman ever.

But Angus had a terrifying secret.

Angus had not always been a human.



(In view of the Gillette commercial “controversy”, this maybe needs to be reposted…)



When commercials like these come out, no matter how hard the company gets slammed, they mostly keep the commercial on for the length of the planned campaign. They rarely knuckle under to angry responses immediately.

They obviously know from the start that they’re going to get some push-back, and they seem okay with that.

How interesting it is, don’t you think, that when a company runs an egregiously outright racist/sexist commercial, or is caught perpetrating outmoded and offensive stereotypes, they act all surprised and “innocent”, and claim it was a “mistake” in judgement?


And yet, those ads, too, generally run for at least part of the planned campaign. They don’t disappear immediately.

I think that in both cases, the companies know exactly what they are doing, and have no illusions about the reactions they will get. It seems very unlikely that they wouldn’t: they all hire professional advertising agencies with decades of experience, and they do masses of market research before they ever book the airtime.

I think in the first instance, the company believes strongly enough in at least this much: that the bulk of their market will respond positively over the long haul to anti-racist/pro-equality messages and will associate the brand with their own core values.

It’s entirely possible that some of these ads are even less cynical than that, and that the people running these companies do, in fact, care about these issues, and are willing to publicly support them for purely ideological reasons.

It’s okay if it’s both.

The point is: they are doing it on purpose.

Which means, logically, that the companies who spend their advertising dollars on racist, anti-equality messaging also do it on purpose.



Additional Note: This, too, is part of the issue (pay attention to the presentation of both the fact and the wording of the “apology”… “some” call it offensive? That, in itself, tells you a lot right there.):

Lest We Forget

It’s Remembrance Day.

As is customary when living in smaller communities, I attended the civic ceremony the city of Camrose put on.

I’m consistently underwhelmed and disappointed by these things.

First of all, the people who assemble are almost uniformly white.

The ceremonies themselves are entirely “Christian”.

The crowd gets thinner and thinner every year.

These things are not unconnected.

Look, I get that for most of the actual Camrose vets still living, that’s the culture. But if the city wants to keep this tradition alive, and even growing, they need to recognize that Camrose is not the same as it was 100 years ago. It’s not even the same as it was a decade ago.

People of colour live here. People of different faiths live here. First Nations people live here.

They deserve to be at least a footnote, but this year, not even women got much of a mention.


And that’s not the worst of it.

In addition to excluding huge swathes of people whose families suffered just as much loss as white, Protestant ones did, the fact that it was the hundredth year anniversary of the WW1 Armistice (and can someone please teach MP Kevin Sorenson how to pronounce that word?) the catch phrase of “Lest We Forget” got tossed in at every available moment possible.

But what are we really in danger of forgetting?

To the speakers, it was simply the worn-out sentiment of “they-died-for-our-freedom” – the valourization of the warrior. Essentially, this perpetuates what amounts to a death-cult.

What I remember is that these predominantly white, Protestant communities clamoured to go to war. They were excited and aroused by the idea of war.

What I remember is that the Great War decimated, or in some communities, wiped out whole generations of young men.

What I remember is that this country of Canada, with its vaunted freedoms, turned away 900 Jews fleeing the Holocaust – turned them away knowing full well that they would be put to death if they returned to Germany.

What I remember is that many, many Muslims, many ,many First Nations people, and many, many women lost their lives in these conflicts.

They deserve, now more than ever, to be honoured by those of us who have consistently reaped the benefits of those wars – and did so on the backs of those people’s sacrifices.

If even now, we cannot see our own behavior clearly enough to stop mouthing jingoistic platitudes and get to grips with the real questions these conflicts pose, then we have committed ourselves to remembering the wrong things – to remembering the very things that those young men and women pleaded with us to turn away from.



If you doubt me:             First Nations              canada knew 


NaNoWriMo – Angst and Anxiety


Let me say right off the bat that I have never and probably will never do NaNoWriMo. One reason is that I don’t like to force my writing, but another is that it’s too close to Christmas to put myself under additional strain (Christmas comes early around here. Because – reasons.)

But a lot of my friends do it.

From about mid-October onwards, they start posting about it, and as the end of the month approaches, the posts get more and more fraught. Who’s still going to do it? How much prep has anyone got done? Is there enough time to get organized for it? Am I the only one who thinks they cannot do this?

And then, one morning this week I saw a Tweet that said “I have just been struck by a case of ‘There is no way in hell I’m going to succeed at #NaNoWriMo’ anxiety.”

And that’s when I realized that my instincts about NaNoWriMo were not in any way wrong.

It was, I have to assume, formed from the best of intentions.

I believe people when they say that what its purpose is, is to get people writing – to get them to stop waiting for “the right time” or “inspiration” and just write.

Problematically, the creators neglected to consider actual human beings.

Because the moment you involve a stated goal, you make this a competition, and you make it NOT about writing, but about winning, and, naturally, then, about the possibility of failure.

If the goal is simply to get writing done, then how can anyone possibly fail at NaNoWriMo? Even if after an entire month, you end up with only a single paragraph – well, that’s more than you had on November 1st, isn’t it?

And even if you have 50,000 words written – is it more successful than the person who only got a paragraph? Their paragraph might conceivably be a thing of beauty, and your 50K might be complete trash – who’s really “winning” here?

If the single paragraph writer is you, don’t feel that you have not succeeded – because that shouldn’t be what writing (in any format or competition or other exercise) is about.

If you make that 50K mark – don’t gloat. You may only have succeeded at meeting an arbitrary word count. That isn’t necessarily actual “writing”.

Like I said: I don’t do this particular thing. But for those of you who do, stop stressing. Never mind what those other people are doing. Use this for what it should be: a way to get into the habit of writing, and ending the procrastination.