Showing posts from February, 2013

Repeat After Me

I have been thinking a lot lately about repetition. 
In his morphology of the joke-tale, Berger assigns repetition the standing of one of the 45 enduring techniques of humour.  Now there is nothing so unlike humour as a rational explanation of the humorous, but this is what he says: 
"The humor of repetition comes from the tension created by some kind of series being established. We wonder whether the series will be able to maintain itself or whether some interesting variation will take place." 
"The humor of repetition comes from the tension created by some kind of series being established. We wonder whether the series will be able to maintain itself or whether some interesting variation will take place." 
Repetition is on my mind as I continue to try to make sense of the Duckett Cookie Episode. As I read Berger's An Anatomy Of Humor, it's not difficult to find room for Duckett, without the harsher name-calling, to wit: "Comedy is peopled by eccentrics, g…


When I saw Edmonton city councillor Ben Henderson at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts 10th anniversary party last night, I decided to speak up.

So I did what you do. Waited for him to finish the conversation he was in, called his name, put out my hand, re-introduced myself (when I was in the news business our paths would cross) and launched into a bit of a soliloquy about the sorry state of bicycle route planning and politics and vision in the city. Henderson is an advocate for cyclists, routinely injects the possibility of European city cycling architecture into the conversation here, and, basically, is refreshingly willing to get written off as a looney, pant-clipped, all-weather cyclist because he wants some of his taxes to support his mode of transportation.

For a few minutes, I had the ear of one of the city's most powerful politicians. I don't know what will come of it, but one thing did come of it, and right away: I felt good getting the ear of one of the city'…


For as long as I have been studying the complex mediascape that Stephen Duckett walked into through the lenses of a couple of conventional news cameras, I have been kinda intrigued by the muscle in the background. That guy with the goatee and the feathered hair and the bag. That guy who walks beside Duckett and, at turns, tries to convince reporters there's no time for an interview, moves ahead of a reporter on the staircase, attempts to guide one (a reporter, that is) into a tree, and then who opens the door for the then-Alberta Health Services President and CEO, the door, which, when closed, sealed his walking companion's political fate. I just wonder, is he a communications colleague, a security guard, a medical official? What was he thinking? What is his perspective on the event?

I thought about him again on this Reading Week night with Gurney's 2011 dissertation, Infectious Culture: Virality, Comedy, and Transmediality in the Digital Age on the table in front of me. G…


And I will learn/
I will learn to love/
The skies/

- Hopeless Wanderer, Mumford & Sons

The picture is the scene at Brodyk Lake near Smoky Lake last Saturday afternoon, and under the sky on the black mat is Shelagh's nephew David waiting for his bride T.J., considering his great fortune, as the pair prepare, in front of their friends and family, to exchange wedding vows.

It was a spectacular setting, and we all felt we had stolen one from February. Indeed, only a few hours later the weather had transformed from mild to wild, as the sky greyed and the snow blew through. For better, for worse is the story of our connection to the weather here.

It wasn't the only nod to the land.

There were ice-encased roses lining the path to the lake. The bride's bouquet had pine cones. The reception hall entranceway was flanked with potted birch trees in their budless, leafless February lack of glory. But glorious just the same. The table centrepieces featured candles floatin…

Life Fades

The Voice may be a slick American reality show that, incidentally, says a lot about what reality is in America these days. But for Albertans like me, The Voice is Ian Tyson.

Now, I could struggle and backspace all night trying to find the right words to describe the gravel and the sky and the highway and the Rockies and the motel rooms in Tyson's voice, but it would all be so many inert words compared to the pleasure of listening to that voice as it evaporates.
My mother was a big Tyson fan, maybe back to Ian & Sylvia days. His cowboy music found me in the '80s around the same time I was also listening to Rush, Culture Club, Thompson Twins and Duran Duran. Boy George lasted as long as his mascara, and every now and then I have a pickchah/pinned to my wall and her name is rio/and she dances on the sand come into my head with the power of a recombinant virus. But I fight them off. Rush abides, but, for me, Tyson still lives. 
Ian Tyson sings about horses and mountains, rode…

For The Record

Today, I met Carol. What a joy, what a character. She works in ATB's archives and she is somehow the present and the past and the future all at once. Going to see her at work means dropping down an elevator shaft into the concrete hallways and beige paint of the document storage rooms. There, giant, floor-to-ceiling stacks just stand there shoulder to shoulder, holding seven decades of history safe from gravity and forgetfulness.

You get the sense that Carol's work joy is rooted in the ability to rescue what she calls "points of time," whether in the form of text, film or video, from that oblivion.

Carol is irked when documents are not dated properly, she is saddened by gaps in the company record of, say, the succession of branch managers. She knows the evanescence of digital records is a challenge for her craft.

She has an ear for how the documents tell stories that weren't obvious when they were composed. For instance, that handwritten "List of Lady Manag…

Dear Brett Miles

Dear Brett,

I had a good day.

It started unexpectedly with a tweet from you. You speak a lot through your music, and I've heard a lot about you for a long time, my wife, Shelagh, being a McAnally. Maybe you were talking about yourself, maybe you were talking about someone else, but you succeeded in getting through to me with this:

Its hard to be patient, happy, relaxed, & hunky dorry when one is constantly in pain. If u have good health don't let anything bug u 2day!!! Expand

We lost in overtime in the U of A's pond hockey tier two championship at Varsity Field this afternoon, but there was a lot in the other side of the scale.

We started the day together under an Alberta blue sky and a clean sheet of ice.

We went for breakfast at Artisan and three of us had huevos rancheros. And we told oldtimer hockey stories, like the time I got locked outside the arena in Vegas while my digestive system unsuccessfully dealt with a …

Getting The Call

In the parlance of big-time hockey, "getting the call" is a rich term. A player gets the call up to the big team. It is the public reward for years of hard, quiet work. It's the call up to the big league, the big time. A player can "get the call" to represent his or her country in international play. Or a player "gets the call" to the hall of fame.

Invariably, a young player or a rehabilitated player or an unorthodox talent is pictured "still waiting for the call."
Getting the call means a player goes from the many on the outside to the few on the inside. 
But getting the call can happen for the rest of us hockey players, too.
"Guys, thanks for thinking of me and giving me a call," said Rick, as we sat over lunch today at Campus Earl's, the Oilers-Wings game on the monitors above us, Saturday's first of three games in the University of Alberta's pond hockey tournament behind us. 
When I heard about the 3-on-3 tournamen…

Pond Hockey Reflections

Yesterday evening (it's almost 1:00 AM as I write this, and later than I thought) I got a little look, I think, at what it is to get old.

It didn't happen during opening night of the pond hockey tournament at the University of Alberta. Mitch, Kelly, James, Rick and I put together a UA-NAIT alumni team and we skated to a 18-15 loss against the Dekes fraternity during opening round action in the outdoor 3-on-3 tournament.  They were a younger team, good with the puck, fast, able to turn 3-on-3s into 3-on-2s. And, besides fighting vigorously for the puck when it's buried in a snowbank, that's the key.

It didn't happen during the game, because a game necessarily pits two opponents against each other. They face each other, they react off each other, they battle each other. There is a dialogue, of sorts. One may be turn out to be stronger than the other, but strength and victory are somehow relative terms. The handshake after the game seals it: you were in the fight, to…

Thought For Food

The thought occurred to me again the other day as I was cycling home down 102 Ave. just after I  hit the amber light at 116 St. and about the same time as the aroma from the Bistro India on the corner stopped me: it's time for the Heritage Festival to somehow grow out of Hawrelak Park.

Every year's August long weekend sees Edmontonians leave their neighbourhoods and head down to Hawrelak for the festival of food, culture, dance and music. Every year, more people show. Arguably, it captures the spirit of the city, or, at least, the multicultural makeup of the city, better than any other festival. And just as arguably, its focus on people and the future provides a nice counterpoint to Calgary's summertime blockbuster extravaganza, the Stampede.

I am not suggesting that the Heritage Festival relocate. The park is a beautiful setting and the weather is typically big sky beautiful, making it a perfect pleasant place to spend a chunk of the municipal holiday. Jack Little and hi…