And the summer seems as though it would dream on for ever. / / number 133

Summer. A dead mouse in the pool. Two dead chipmunks in the pool. Every morning is another curtain of overcast and showers. But I know summer is here because when I flick the switch for the bathroom light in the morning, there’s always a spider scrambling towards the corner. Never makes it. Two well-appointed ladies in the cereals section of No Frills, talking in whole sentences without any expletives at all, discussing how difficult it is to find fig newtons these days. One aisle over, someone is farting as hard at they can. At the checkout: HEATHER LOCKLEAR — DRUGS, HOARDING AND MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES. Suzanne Somers is there too, radiating something flattened and weird about reverse aging. I have to help the cashier make correct change. She seems very tired. In the parking lot a fat man with a milkshake is yelling at someone in a rusty truck. Half the shake is on the front of his shirt. The highway up to Bon Echo Provincial Park is littered with turtles, meaning that we see exactly three, and have to stop for one, who is huge and not happy at the prospect of being moved, but some guy has a cookie sheet in his trunk and it turns out this works quite well for rolling angry turtles towards the ditch. Errands, appointments, chores: I am determined to get things done. Other times I have no ambition at all, just the mind-static world of a nap where you hear all the noises of the house but they don’t hear you. An activity board in the hallway at school which reads: WHETHER YOU COLOR THE WORLD OR LIGHT IT UP BLUE YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE SO KEEP BEING YOU, decorated with pictures of Abe Lincoln, Bill Gates, Courtney Love, Dan Ackroyd and Mozart. I have a small run of saying things to people and them not listening, the unusual part of this equation being me making the effort to say things. Should know better. Still, it seems like every once in awhile I have an irrational need to test the program, to see if the automatic/default response is still, Whatever, it’s fine, it’ll be fine, and to see if that code is still quivering with agitation. And then too often, of course, it is not fine. Pauline Kael once wrote: There are some people who are too French for their own good. A quaint problem. We now live in an age where everyone is too much themselves for their own good, and while they don’t understand who they are, it’s pretty much all they know. Still, only one in twenty people are pathological liars. The rest of us just dissembling. I make a painting called The Man from the Past. The internet has a carbon footprint which is at least as big as the entire aviation industry. If it were a country it would be the fifth largest energy consumer in the world. I try to explain to Oona that the internet is not her friend. This is a bit like selling feminism in Alabama. This is a bit like raising legitimate issues in a departmental meeting at work. Should know better? For family fun we go on a tour of Kingston Penitentiary. The day is cold and dark and sparkled with rain. Half an hour into it we get our first don’t-drop-the-soap joke. The place is much worse than I expected, on any number of levels, and should be targeted for an airstrike. Finally, the sun comes out.

This Tinyletter has been brought to you by the vanity license plates

FHG 1997
1 GMEN 1

with a special thanks to our New Zealand correspondent who sent in


reminding us all that questionable taste is a truly global phenomenon.

Have a good week, everyone,
Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

p.s. The quotation in the title is from Elizabeth von Arnim.


cigar-tin stories one hundred thirty two / / B E L I E V E

Good morning. It’s Tuesday, June 4th. The sun is shining but it’s only seven degrees outside, and it will only reach fourteen. Late afternoon showers are likely.

I make breakfast and a full-page to-do list (large, Sharpie cursive) for my nine year-old (like most kids these days, she feels adrift without step-by-step instructions, like she can’t believe it unless it’s written down — or at least listed by Google) and then retreat to my sketchy office in the basement. I put on (not really ‘put on’ … it’s not a record, is it?) an ambient playlist and try to write this but the ambient music doesn’t really work, doesn’t really mute the sound of my nine year-old arguing and cutting deals with her mom. What about this, and what if I only do that? The endless menu. A great ambient song title would be Some Open Chords with Unstrung Ego.

I didn’t want to get up this morning. Most mornings I wake at five, no matter what, by that point I’m not quite comfortable anyway, can never get quite fully comfortable, I’m a six foot-five bone puppet that never collapses the right way, an inverted snow globe of glittering aches, so I might as well get up. But this morning the entire length of me was nicely settled, as if at the bottom of something, a wet ditch or shallow pond or lake of mildly polluted dreams, which at this age are simply glimpses of things, little performance pieces of closed shows or ones you’ve never properly seen from the cheap seats at the back of the room.

Anyway: there’s all this stuff to do, if only expressed as to-do lists for nine year-old ego machines.

I make a painting called The Believer. This is not a believer before a blazing cross, or winged thing emerging from a crypt, or answer to the final clue that will unlock the great mystery. This is not the proclaiming of a grand champion. This is not the one true cause. This is not a magical manual for making friends and influencing people. This is not about control. This is not about channelling invisible psycho-electric currents that can manifest positive energy. This is not about a vision. This is not about the right pictures on the right cards in the right order. This is not about a system to beat the system. This is not math. This is the one thing that is not about math. In fact it is simply about colour, the stains that emanate from some dark star within, and how impossible it is to use them as a guide, but yet we follow them anyway.

Forget the Crusades; we live in the golden age of belief. The earth is flat, what climate change, vaccination is bad, the market knows everything, they’re staging a mass shooting again. I’m wearing pajamas today. Maybe every day.

So yes, I make a painting called The Believer. It requires three distinct visits: awful, okay and finished. The first two visits, always, are painful, but absolutely necessary for the third. And because this is the first painting that I’ve done since giving up my studio, those first two visits are especially awkward and pinned together with doubt.

But my own to-do list of getting going again, of rebuilding my studio finances, and having/affording another studio someday, has to start somewhere. And that’s a kind of belief, too.

Have a good week, everyone,
Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

This Tinyletter is brought to you by the vanity license plates CLARK 3, AAAA777, MFARRELL, U P I, EAR LADY, LISAVEE, TOPOPOP, LILDARLN, 2PAYNT, HOOPSIE, PUNSHER1, MENDETTI, TADPOL17, LEONS 4, SHRTYGRL, LCWON, LION D, S MED 1, GIGADEE, BSWAGZ, DEBILY1, DP VIBE, LUVMYPUP, 511 PAL, SP K WW, NICKY R, and VE3LXK. I believe in all of you and none of you all at the same time.

cigar-tin stories number one hundred nineteen / / how to bake a butternut squash


This Tinyletter is dedicated to the vanity license plates

RANA 001
PHE 95

I don’t know where you’re going, but you’ll probably cut someone off along the way.

How to Bake a Butternut Squash

1. Buy the butternut squash. It’s the beige-coloured thing shaped like a big light bulb. Don’t be afraid. Also, don’t get one that looks too new or it will take a million years to cook. At the check-out, give the cashier the reusable shopping bags that you’ve brought along. You’re saving the environment! Then, when the cashier asks if you’ll need any bags today, say — No thanks, I’ll use the ones I gave you. When this embarrasses her, tell her that your nine year-old loves it when you misspeak, and comment on how tough it must be to stand there and say the same words over and over and over again, words like will you need bags today or brush your teeth brush your teeth brush your teeth.

2) Get some sleep. Every night, as I put Oona to bed, she says, “I hope you have a good sleep, dad. I hope the cats don’t jump on your face tonight.” Because a nine year-old’s sleep is important, I shut her door. My own door has to stay open. “The cats will cry,” C says. As soon as I shut off the light, they race in and jump on my face.

3) Wash the squash. Most people wouldn’t bother, you’re only eating the insides, but I wash everything like it’s 1988.

4) Move through the world. Avoid the single white guys leaning in doorways (skin like something found at the bottom of the recycling, patchy beard, drifting somewhere between 25 and 50, Giant Tiger camouflage fleece, those pants with the pockets on the thighs, cigarette, baseball cap, dreams of murder) who are always staring at some distant star. Also avoid the starter packs of young Asian guys (name brand knee-length hooded puffer jackets with faux-fur trim on the hoods, sneakers that look like space ships, ankle socks, cuffs, no hat) who are always in your way and laughing.

5) Cut off the stem end of the squash. You’ll need a heavy, durable chef’s knife for this (thick blade) and, in fact, all squash cutting. Squashes are not tomatoes. Or even wildebeests.

6) Acknowledge the ghosts that are all around you. How many people are haunting your house? At least four. Time to meet the deceased!

7) Cut the squash in half. This will take some patience and doing; you might have to work your way along one side, then turn it over. Then, using an oversized metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and alien-looking bits. These are especially haunted.

8) Look: other people are not real. They exist because you think they do and because they answer back. Still, your simulation self needs squash. It is loaded with vitamins.

9) Treat the squash to some light stabbing I mean piercing (it’s probably committed some kind of crimes, somewhere). Rub butter into all the cuts. Leave a healthy-sized pat of butter in the scooped-out part of the squash.

10) Do not have disasters. Global warming, predatory market systems, surveillance capitalism, never-ending mercenary wars, species extinctions … these are all bad things. Avoid them!

11) Sprinkle the squash with brown sugar. Put a tablespoon of brown sugar in the scooped-out part, on top of the butter. Finish things off with dashes of cinnamon.

12) Go through your closet and throw out some clothes. Why are you hanging onto this stuff? Your history doesn’t live in an old pair of capris.

13) Arrange the two squash halves, skin side down, in a baking dish. There’s probably going to be some spilling and burning of minor juices here, so if you have baking parchment to line the bottom, use it.

14) Napoleon said, “To understand the man you have to know what was happening in the world when he was twenty.” In 1988 there was: Rain Man, Big, A Brief History of Time, Sega Genesis, Gorbachev, perestroika, Rick Astley, Prozac, George Michael, INXS, Contras, Winter Olympics in Calgary, IRA, Monica Lewinsky, Iran-Iraq war, Die Hard, Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Benazir Bhutto becomes Prime Minister, Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, China Beach, Don’t Worry Be Happy, Andy Gibb dies.

15) Bake your squash for an hour at 425. Squash takes forever. It’s pretty difficult to overdo it.

16) Draw a tiger smoking a cigar. Give him a name. I like ‘Paul’.

17) This is a deep-winter meal, so choose your accompanying dishes, condiments and existential crises accordingly. I went with Italian-sausage meatballs, maple syrup and lingering disquiet.

Have a good week, everyone,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

p.s. This is a version of my weekly Tinyletter, which you can subscribe to here.

T Tauri Stars / / cgtn stories #118


So: Wednesday is a gong show headlined by a FREEZING RAIN WARNING and the continuing problem of NO CLEAR AUTHORITY, that condition where organizations seem to exist only to sustain and multiply circular firing squads of middle managers, who are absolutely superlative at raising awareness and enforcing spreadsheetable rules and giving out morale-boosting plaques and badges and forwarding emails saying FYI and PLEASE ACTION but completely helpless when it comes to making real decisions.

So: suddenly C is texting me that Oona’s school, while not closed, is encouraging parents to COME GET YOUR CHILDREN, which to any parent in 2019 means RIGHT NOW, and I have to drop everything and leave work (not hurting very much, but it might to someone with a real job) and the stinging freezing rain is starting and it’s the windshield that’s the key struggle because freezing rain is VERY OBSCURING. The scene at Oona’s school is right of out of the fall of Saigon, mobs of parents and kids looking lost and skyward and I’m supposed to sign something but goddamn it if I know where the line even starts. Luckily her teacher does the signing for us, and we get the hell out of there.

That night I painted THE TEACHER.

The next day is a FREEZING DRIZZLE WARNING, something they colour in grey instead of red, which is confusing because I think freezing drizzle is just as treacherous as freezing rain. In fact, Environment Canada’s little story for the day is

Periods of freezing drizzle changing to periods of rain this evening. Risk of freezing rain and a thunderstorm this evening. Risk of a thunderstorm late this evening and after midnight. Wind east 20 km/h becoming south 40 gusting to 60 late this evening then west 50 gusting to 80 before morning. Temperature rising to 7 by morning. Risk of ennui and becoming haunted.

so I pull the plug on the day. I still go to work because I have a dental appointment but C and Oona stay home. Also because it’s fine when it’s just me risking life and limb.

The dental appointment is the last installment of a very terrible series called ROOT CANAL, the first episode revolving around a failed attempt by the dentist (even leaving a bit of metal file in there), the second episode being a consultation with the endodontist (yes, I am the root canal guy, and I will do a root canal, gosh root canals are tricky, please pay the receptionist on the way out), then the climactic episode with actual root canal-ing (not recommended, unless you enjoy dental dams), and at last the final episode being kind of like a Christmas special, catching up with the old gang by returning to the dentist for a permanent filling over the root canal. Ta-dah.

The dentist is half an hour late (in fact, I almost pull the plug on that, too) so I have an opportunity to watch the television in the waiting room. I have not seen regular television for quite a few years now. There was no sound, which might be the best way to see it.

The commercials are especially awful. Blinkist? Looks stupid, like reading for people who hate books. Existentially obnoxious. We used to call this soccer mom stuff. It wasn’t a compliment.

Also, Tylenol still has to advertise? L’Oréal? Hair commercials never change: flowing hair, over the shoulder, gloss, hair, gloss, product shot, end.

The Cat Lake First Nation story is appalling. Class and economics: these are the only issues that matter, that eventually resolve all others, and we should not have a poverty problem in this country, full stop.

And finally: Diana Krall is still making music? When I wake up tomorrow, is George W. Bush going to be president?

The visit goes about as well as can be expected. There is no anaesthetic. The feeling of drills against your teeth with no anaesthetic is strange, unnerving.

There’s something going on my dentist office. Have I mentioned this? It’s entirely staffed by women now, and all the other patients seem one thousand years old. What does this mean?

The theme for Friday is WIND, the kind of wind that makes it difficult to walk across wide open spaces. I’m dressed for BIG COLD as well, but that never really comes through. The wind is enough. I have a few eye-opening moments crossing the causeway. Downtown there are people walking around with no hats. I can’t do that anymore. This means I am one thousand years old.

That night at the studio, I paint a Victorian lady in darkness on the face of an obsolete Verbatim Rewritable 1.3 GB Optical disk. Sometimes I just like to see how an irregular shape takes paint. And this works pretty well; after looping a wire through the back, it hangs quite nicely on the wall. I thought about the idea behind painting over (and sealing in) a memory device, and then a quote from Zadie Smith

Women often have a great need to portray themselves as sympathetic and pleasing, but we’re also dark people with dark thoughts.

and came up with the title Dark Lady, Dark Thoughts.

The bus ride home displays its usual charms. I’m not going to miss this in the spring.

Walking home, coming around the corner, there’s an elderly woman standing awkwardly with a cane and some bags in the middle of the street. It’s late at night, and the wind is roaring, so I make a lot of noise so as not to startle her (an old trick from my newspaper-delivery days). She gives me a look that I recognize from living downtown, where people always have story ready.

Could you help me across this driveway? she asks.

I can (although you always have to be careful not to pull their arms out of their sockets), and I ask her where she’s going, and she tells me about her mom dying, and her sister telling her to come stay with her, and the house is right there, across an expanse of icy driveway.

We get across, and I help her to the door. Should I ring the doorbell? I ask. Are they expecting you?

Of course they’re expecting me, she says, and then goes right through. Inside I can see some mild craziness — the almost-managing flavour, with boxes on the floor, open cupboards, random lights left on, etc –– but she seems like she’s fine now so I go on my way.

My own house is full of sick people right now. It’s been a few years since this happened, but it was going to catch us eventually. I’m just getting over it, while C is halfway through, and Oona has just started. Kind of like the three bears, only with more iPad and yelling.

Today’s fun is called WINTER STORM WARNING, where we could get 35 cm of snow with 70 km/h winds. It’s 7:05 a.m. as I type this, and there’s nothing yet, but it might be a short work day. Localized power outages may occur!

Have a good week, everyone,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

T Tauri Star / / shake your body / / Can a sleepless night awaken creativity? / / The Bugle / / Capitalism in the Digital Age​

2019 will be the best year of your life, I guarantee it // cigar-tin stories one hundred twelve

Actually, that’s probably a lie, and I can’t guarantee anything. But if you are the guy they keep handing the rake to, then you are undoubtedly the Rake Guy, and there’s nothing to do but keep raking. And watch for oncoming traffic.

And there goes 2018. How did it look? Did you have a good Christmas? Did you enjoy the holidays? Or did you feel press-ganged into some kind of irrational mass event, like Y2K except without the hysterical thrill of possible species extinction? My own views on le temps des fêtes have softened somewhat, or at least turned away as if from herd animals or inclement weather. For me, these days, the holidays seem like a kind of spaceship –– much hoo-ha and fanfare at launch, then the long, extended grey and sleepless sleepiness of constant inside-ness, and sideways considerations of crew, few of whom you actually chose, and time filled with time-filling tasks, whole days within days of dingy lighting and dimmed thinking, as if engaged in some kind of perpetual night shift where there is really nothing to do, or nothing of consequence can be considered, because everything is aimed at some constructed date in January, at which point we’ll land on a brand new planet, only imagined but somehow very real, and our own selves magically revitalized and refreshed, emerging spiritually armed and psychologically ready to do whatever it takes to lead that life which lives in some kind of waiting shadow world within us. Or something.

It’s sad that a simple children’s holiday has gone so psychologically nuclear on us, and that it’s now so beside-the-point for children. By the time my daughter’s three weeks of Christmas holidays finally began, she was more or less on a constant ambient loop of bragging about how she hadn’t done any schoolwork for a month. Pizza day, pyjama day, gift-exchange day, skating day, crafting day, PA day, movie night, games night, potluck, theatre… every day was another permission slip, another special lunch, or special lodestar thing (teddy bear, costume, narcotics, etc) stuffed into her backpack, concession money tucked into her pocket, and many notes-to-self on just where to be and when. I felt like someone’s batman, just waiting around with hot water and shaving kit.

Gosh, it is all too much? Future anthropologists, huddled around their oxygen fires in their underground survival bunkers, should have their own field day with that one. When I told my two office mates that I wasn’t taking any extra time off over the holidays, they looked at me like I’d just popped out of a coffin. But it’s the holidays, people always say, using the thing to justify the thing. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by saying how nice it would be to come in when they were not there, how an empty office is the only time Christmas speaks to me.

So: hopefully you didn’t spend too much, or plan too much, or look for salvation, or otherwise lose your mind. I think the best you can expect is just to be exhausted. I think it’s that part of it, that helplessness before events, that I will always have an issue with. People don’t behave well under pressure, and somewhere in the background Christmas is always simmering with a certain level of Biblical anger. Like when God pulled a bear instead of a rabbit out of his hat…

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 
~ 2 Kings 2:23-24

Rotten kids. They were probably high on whole pounds of baking and candy and iPad. I hear something called Fortnite is a thing? My daughter’s own psycho-chemical dependency is Roblox, where she wanders around something called MeepCity and

1) lays in the bed or
​2) goes through the doorway or
3) turns on the TV.

Or so it seems to me. Which I guess is better than hunting down and murdering other digital simulacrums. Anyway, she’s only allowed forty minutes at a time, except when it’s just her and mom, and then all the parental controls are very, very off, and punctuated by a lot of yelling.

Okay, thanks for reading, and good luck in the New Year,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

>> Bonus New Year’s Track <<

TEST 14A-8.3   Changing Figures of Speech for 2019

Complete the similes and then change the first ten of them to metaphors. Write those metaphors on a separate list. Then carry that list with you (neatly folded!) for the entirety of 2019. Further instructions and signs will reveal themselves in the sky.

1. On January 2nd, her resolutions already in tatters, Scarlett is as internally unmoored as a __________. Winter descends as dark and dispiriting as __________.

2. Juice cleanse, liver cleanse, Blueprint Cleanse… soon her colon feels like a __________ after __________.

3. Her heart becomes as dried and yellow as __________.

4. Gloom hangs like a __________ over the land.

5. Jasper does breath work and mindful movement and cognitive therapy and lectin-free diets like __________. Choose to be happy! he always says, like some kind of __________.

6. In fact, Jasper’s Instagram cheeriness feels like __________ in Scarlett’s intestines.

7. Her melancholy winks and twinkles until it becomes wholly __________.

8. The axe gleams and whispers as __________.

9. After midnight she moves as quietly as __________.

10. Jasper never sees her, never looks up, is as lost and mesmerized by his cellphone as  __________.

11. The axe is as thirsty as __________.

12. The police treat Scarlett’s lack of resistance as __________.

13. The trial is faster than __________.

14. The verdict comes in as clear as __________.

15. The executioner’s song is sweeter than __________.

16. Heaven is colder and emptier than __________. On the plus side, it is the ultimate detox.

p.s.2. This is a version of my weekly Tinyletter, which you can subscribe to here.

no fear or favour / / cigar-tin stories number one hundred eight


An old lady drinking a milkshake is punching someone in the Beer Store parking lot. I can’t tell if it’s an affectionate or genuine attack. The parking lot at the Beer Store always feels like the last days in the Siege of Sarajevo. Guys pull up in trucks that often look more like tanks. Sometimes they wear bandanas.

We have a couch delivered. Because the arc of meaning in our lives often resembles the laziest of sitcoms, this delivery is scheduled for a six-hour window and doesn’t actually happen until the very end, when two small guys who might have a combined age of seven show up to do some scampering around a very big truck. The one in charge has gloves. The other one doesn’t want to be there. Much heaving and twisting and failure in basic geometry ensues, for about ten minutes, resulting in a verdict that the couch will not fit. C and I think out loud for another minute. The guy who doesn’t want to be there (this guy is standard issue in any labour crew), and who is backed up with one end of the couch into the laundry room, announces, “I just don’t want to stand around here all day.” So we send it back. In a strange way this makes the delivery guys quite happy, I think. Why can’t everyone just send it back? More to follow.

We go to the Santa Claus Parade. I don’t want to go, and people we go with are surprised when I do go, but my agency in these matters is often compromised by shorter, blonder people. And very soon Oona will begin to find these kinds of things stupid and boring. So I go. The weather isn’t bad and who doesn’t want to be psychically concussed with successive battalions of girls’ gymnastics and dance clubs, doing cartwheel after cartwheel after cartwheel. Meanwhile, grizzled middle-aged men on motorcycles rumble by and wave, which people seem to enjoy. For some reason. Also, apparently there are still two Shriners left alive, and the Knights of Columbus are up to something, according to their float, and at the very least they supply the crowd a vague notion about Christmas being about Jesus Christ. Whoever that was. So we stand around in the cold for an hour or two and at the end Santa shows up and his wife does all the talking while the fat man chuckles into a microphone like someone with a nagging brain injury.

The next day I have a cold, or some kind of tiny virus that makes my ears and face hot and produces generalized exhaustion and random episodes of total congestion. All part and parcel of being Canadian I guess but nevertheless still pointless and boring. Accordingly, C leaves town for a few days to attend a conference and enjoy those luxuries called hotel living without your family. She sends me texts about keynote speakers while Oona complains about the absence or presence of pulp in her breakfast orange juice and the possibility of spots on the bananas.

Oona also uses her mom’s absence to brag incessantly about all the things she does when mom is not looking. “She thought I was on ROBLOX but really I was Googling my name over and over and over again,” she tells me on the way to swimming lessons. “Did you have a blog called ‘red-handed’ daddy? I really like my baby pictures on there. Mom thought I was on ROBLOX but I was eating Halloween candy and looking at my baby pictures. Mom told me to take just one candy but I took like seven.”

A client asks me to put together a logo. I don’t see why this client needs a logo but whatever, this is what happens when people have meetings. Logos happen. We should have a logo! The client even provides a little sketch of what he wants this logo to look like. I make the logo. It is terrible. The client sort of realizes this so another meeting happens and minor changes are asked for, which is a bit like the German army updating its uniforms in April of 1945. Now I do not hear from the client. Next thing I know, New Guy is going to meetings with the client.

Because I have a cold, I reschedule a root canal. I do this because did I mention that it is a root canal and also viruses do not discriminate against dentists. I do not love them but they are still human beings. After all.

I listen to Barber’s Adagio for Strings. I listen to Rafael Anton Irisarri’s The Clock. I listen to The Luxury of Dirt by Aix Em Klemm. I don’t know anything about music anymore, and I never really did, but it still has surprisingly much to offer.

I am cutting and trimming and assembling things for the Fat Goose Craft Fair on December 2nd. As per usual, my table is almost entirely original work that is priced to sell. I read yesterday that there are six corporations that control almost ninety percent of everything you consume by way of hearing and seeing, which makes me think that original things are more important than ever.

Have a great week everyone,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

cigar-tin stories number one hundred seven // I dream of eagles and bring forth sparrows


On a Wednesday evening I take Oona to get her flu shot. Afterwards, as a treat, while she is still complaining about her arm hurting (“Yes, of course, someone stuck you with a needle”), we go to Wendy’s. It is clean and modern in there these days (I have to give Oona explicit instructions on the automatic soap dispenser, faucet and paper towel dispenser before she disappears into that other universe called WOMEN’S), and the staff is quite nice in exchanging the kid’s-meal prize (she wanted the wizard mask but got the pirate) and her Frosty was so thick (“…and delicious, dad!”) that I had to get her a spoon, but of course at mid-meal a young lady came in and crashed down at the counter opposite with her Dollar-Store bags and things falling everywhere and proceeded to leave a very loud voicemail (for her boyfriend?) who apparently is a real piece of shit and she’s tired of all his fucking games and if he wants to talk to her then come find her you weasel and stop sending these bullshit texts you fucking idiot. Oona was about to say something but I shushed her until the young lady stormed out because of the general rule in life of not talking to someone who is that angry and dramatic and willing to burn everything around her to the ground. And then I explained that the young lady was probably just having a very bad day and not to listen to anything she might have said. And besides, there was a wizard mask to assemble.

On Thursday I take Oona to the doctor so he can look (and possibly treat, is the assumption) an ingrown toenail (not really ingrown, just red enough to complain about). “So what have you done to treat it so far, dad?” the doctor asks, which catches me completely off guard, as I had assumed that my bringing her to the doctor was that very thing I was ‘doing’, if you know what I mean. So he fills a page in my notebook with instructions for home treatment, which involves this twice daily ritual of Epsom salts, rubbing alcohol, Polysporin and cotton pledgets. Nine year-olds love this stuff because it’s a list and a special treatment and they get to remind you to do it twice a day.

Also on Thursday Oona falls down in the gym and gets a massive bruise on her hip. Luckily we have plenty of Polysporin on hand.

The day before C had gone in for some kind of oxygenating(?) facial, and so of course on Thursday she wakes up to find herself looking like George Chuvalo after his first fight with Ali, those puncher’s eyes with the inflated cheeks. This is an ongoing thing with her skin, mostly skirmishes but a couple times a year it goes into full rebellion for a few days, and every morning she insists that it’s getting better it’s getting better and it’s not, it’s not, and then one day she suddenly looks like herself again.

On Saturday we go curling. Or rather: we go to a social event where we learn about curling. I had curled before, about thirty years ago, in another world called Saskatchewan in the mid-80’s, which gave me just enough knowledge to understand both its low barrier to entry and high degree of difficulty (curling is, I think, the whitest game on the planet). Anyway, it was fun, despite how much we resembled the Bad News Bears, and no one fell and broke their heads.

I go to the studio both Sunday and Monday, which makes me very tired, as I tend to work straight through for seven or eight hours and any breaks I take are for running errands. But the Fat Goose is coming up fast and then I’ll have a digital sale for Christmas and there’s much to be done. On top of this I’m still writing and writing, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, although I’ve left the idea of being a ‘winner’ (achieving 50 000 words) far behind. I understand that a benchmark is what makes the whole thing work, but in my case (writing many different short pieces) it’s never been that applicable.

Last night I watched Where Eagles Dare. I’d just listened to an interview with Geoff Dyer about a book he wrote on the movie, which is the kind of thing he does now and then, like the entire book he wrote on Stalker. This is a very English thing, like the when Martin Amis wrote about video games. Anyway, Where Eagles Dare is, in fact, quite enjoyable, in that way that vintage World War Two movies are: dashing British agents in feats of derring-do, simpering Nazi officers, hapless German soldiers who all have machine guns but can’t hit anything, and who burst into flames at the drop of a hat. The movie makes Clint Eastwood do all the killing, which he does mechanically, mowing down entire carloads of German soldiers (at one completely deranged point he fires two machine guns at the same time, one in each hand, Pulp-Fiction style) without any hesitation (or the need to reload) whatsoever. The movie employs that old plots-within-plots device, which is sort of tailor-made for Richard Burton, who gets to do lots and lots of elocution.

Alright. It’s 6:44 and I have to go get lazy people out of bed.

Everyone have a good week,

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.​

“I dream of eagles and bring forth sparrows.”
––Truman Capote