#YEG: Bert’s Place, Avenue magazine

July 2014

I bought it off the Internet — a mint 1962 Mark II Jaguar sedan, black with tan leather interior.
I didn’t tell my wife.

But she found the insurance company’s letter. I came out of the shower, dripping and defenceless, and there she was, brandishing the pink card.

“What’s this?” she said.

“Ah,” I said. “And, anyway, where are you going to get it fixed?”

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Edith and Frank

GEIST, Winter 2011

Still beautiful at ninety-three, the writer Edith Iglauer greets us on the porch of her seacoast house. “You see we are much older,” she says. I haven’t seen her since she was ninety, and she is a little shorter but she has the same mane of white hair, the same warm voice and wide smile. Fine lines radiate from her cheekbones and the corners of her mouth, like contours on a detailed topo map. She’s dressed for dinner in a ruffled white blouse, purple cardigan and tartan skirt.

“We’re going to the golf club,” she says. “It’s not far. Frank will drive us.” Frank bumps his blue walker to the car, grip still strong but knees gone. He guns the little Honda up the steep driveway. At the top of their road he stops, takes a quick look and flings the car out onto the pavement. Just getting us launched, I think, but he zooms into the first turn, crowding a local pickup truck. He drives like a sports car racer—a quick dab at the brake, into turn, back on the gas, swoop through the apex. I’m sure he knows the road. It’s just that he is ninety-six years old. What if we nicked that gravel shoulder? What if someone was riding a bike or walking their dog—there! like that! missed ’em—just around the corner? Read More >

Sluffing off an avalanche

Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Sun, January 2011

A guide is your best guarantee to avoiding disaster on the slopes

EDMONTON - "SLUFF!" The very word strikes fear into the hearts of ... nobody.

But it should. You can drown in a metre of water and you can die in a metre of snow.

Tom, the lean Austrian guide (stand-in for Brad Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet), was giving us the pre-tour avalanche clinic. "Even if you can, don't cry out," he said. "Save your breath. You'll be able to hear people walking, hear them talking, but they won't be able to hear you." Like being a ghost. "Concentrate on breathing normally, be calm." He smiled. "Go to your Happy Place." .... Read More >

Strange tales from the catwalk

Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Regina Leader, April 2011

How a U of A English professor wrapped himself in a Wookie and made an important discovery about fashion shows

EDMONTON - I step through the side door marked "models and designers" being careful not to trip on the black lighting cables, and see a slender woman standing by the rack of clothes.

She crosses her arms, grabs her shift at the hips and pulls it over her head. She isn't wearing a bra. I don't know where to look. Her breasts? Her long legs? The thong? This is my first fashion show.

I had read about the new trend to include real people on the runway - ugly people, old people, prostitutes, genuine gypsies. Now, most daring of all, real live professors. Designer Stanley Carroll wanted some "mature" models, so his wife, Marcie, has press-ganged me and three others into striding down the catwalk. Shuffle more like. We all have academic slumps and you can see the corduroy behind our eyes. We're dubious about this. .... Read More >

Tempo Giusto - In Praise of the SLOW Ride

Cycle Canada, May 2010;  Illustration by Douglas Fraser

Most motorcyclists ride quickly - life on two wheels corrupts any regard for speed limits. But why do we hurry so, when the rewards for slowing are manifold?

The little road off the highway leading to the rally campground was two miles of Slow to 35 corners, the kind that make you gear down, speed up, and focus on the apex. It's a hard-wired response, genetically encoded. Humankind was made to zoom through the twisties, right? .... Read More >

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Pelts from the Culture Hunt: Living with the Kindle

Alberta Views, April 2010

Enchiladas: juices drip out the bottom and run down your wrist and drool off your forearm onto your newspaper. When you want to turn the page you have to lick your fingers and use part of your napkin, and even then you're going to smear the page. After dinner, dogs will follow you down the street because your Times smells like chipotle. Read More >

 

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Hawkman of Kandahar / Prairie Fire Magazine Hawkman of Kandahar

Prairie Fire, Summer 2003

Stumbling through the darkness I cursed Kabul. A city of half a million and they didn't even have street lights. Shapes slipped by me, caught briefly in the glare of naked bulbs strung between the buildings. Where was the damn bus station? .... Read More >

 

 

Just a Touch

in What I Meant to Say: the private lives of men, edited by Ian Brown (Thomas Allen, 2005)

When I was 12, old enough to know something was going on but too geeky to do anything about it I unscrewed my ballpoint pen and took out the slender translucent ink tube and the little spring surrounding it and placed both carefully in the pen groove at the top of my wooden desk. Both parts were equally important because without the spring the little silver knob on top flopped uselessly and the ball point, which hung down tantalizingly, would slip back into the plastic cylinder like a turtle into its shell the moment you touched the pen to the page. You couldn't even make a period. Nothing. There was no force. I was 12 and so read nothing at all phallic into this the way some of you are doing, I just knew I had to keep the spring and the ink tube together. Read More >

Plastic is Passé

The Globe and Mail, 27 September 1999

"Credit is no longer a mark of distinction. Cash means class and escape from the matrix" .... Read More >
Virginia Woolf Essay

The Alfa and the Avant-texte

in Editing and Interpreting Virginia Woolf, edited by James Haule (Palgrave, 2002)

The black Alfa Romeo snarled out of the parking garage and headed toward the East River, weaving through the 5 o’clock surge of yellow cabs. At Second Avenue the driver snapped the gearshift down into second gear, whipped the car left across two airport buses and headed uptown through Harlem. Read More >