Mac’s Fireweed, Noon, Saturday, signing with me and Dave Strachan

Thanks everyone for coming out and being a part of our signing at Mac’s Fireweed!  Two anthologies I’m a part of: Tesseracts 14 and Inhuman, and Dave Strachan, who has the lead story in Inhuman, was signing too!  The Fantasy/Science Fiction community in Whitehorse is doing great!  More and more of our group are stretching their talents and skills, and turning out great stories and sending them off to publishers!  So happy that this is happening in Whitehorse!  The Yukon is building a presence in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Oh YEAH!

Tesseracts 14 and Inhuman are both published by Hades Publications and Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (for Inhuman, through their imprint Absolute XPress).

Here’s photos of us at Mac’s Fireweed, Saturday March 12.  See if you can recognize all the campadres who helped make it a great event…

 

 

 

I Claudius, I Gertrude, I Polonius, I Hamlet: the humanity and unity of Bhaneja’s Hamlet {solo}

I just returned from a brilliant rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Yukon Arts Centre.  One man, Raoul Bhaneja, did the whole play–or an edited version of the whole play–but he did every part, not just Hamlet’s soliloquies.  He had a box of light and an edge of darkness that he ran around making us believe he was seven or eight or ten people.  It was, in a word, stunning.  You might think that it will become boring–one man doing everything–and yet, every character received the same high quality attention.  I can’t imagine the inner-acting work that went on to understand every character, embody every person.  “I wanted to give everyone their chance,” Bhaneja said during the Q & A after the show.

It is a two hour show, and Bhaneja says about 15,000 words (from his own estimation).  He nuances characters with a gesture–Rosencrantz, his arm in the air; Guildentstern, leaning on one knee; Gertrude with her hand over her chest; Polonius stooped; Horatio a bit rigid and formal; Ophelia shy and uncertain.  His voice takes on multiple voices–a Sybil of sorts–but whose accents define the boundaries of the characters well enough for you to imagine, and I kept doing this, as if there were really six or seven people on stage and they were just being revealed to you one at a time as they spoke, as if they just came through the haze to speak.

Because Bhaneja edited the work, the transitions might be a bit altered, transitions from scene to scene.  But when I watched him end one scene with Hamlet and then start the next scene with Claudius I was struck by the statement it made about their characters.  Having one man portray both Claudius and Hamlet and crossfade into them gives the viewer this chance to see the two men as more similar, more equal, two sides of the same coin.  It’s easy to delineate the characters when they are played by separate actors, but when one man does them, it actually makes you think about how similar they all are.

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Whitehorse, curtained in icefog and woodsmoke, revealed in shrouded segments

Just a reality of living in the north, these -40 nights, where the icefog and the woodsmoke turned back on the streets mingle together to hide the city.  It’s mysterious and lovely.  Dangerous to drive in.  I couldn’t see the next segment until it was revealed.  People crossed second street without tapping the crossing light button and I could barely make out their dark forms merging back in with the night.  It was like there was a wall at the back of every backdrop setting— here’s Main Street with nothing beyond it but a white wall, and now the Library and now the Bridge.  Like curtains being opened one after the other, presenting our town in segments.  It certainly robs the city of continuity, or of flow, but it really makes you think of the city in sections—as if Main street were all by itself, or the Bridge, somewhere in England, instead of Canada, the fog so thick you couldn’t tell where it was placed in the geography.

I wished I’d had my camera the whole time, but it was hard enough driving your truck through the fog.  It groaned and squeaked as if it were thirty years old instead of five.  My friend says she won’t drive after it dips below -35C.  “Everything on your car breaks.”  And I saw, like an ambulance for vehicles, five or six tow trucks dragging perfectly good-looking cars and SUVs–just reminding me that even good cars in bad weather can break.  The air is filled with particles–mostly smoke because the smoke from homes hits a certain layer of air and bounces back.  You can see that everyone’s smoke flatlines at about 100 feet, going sideways, and coming back down, like we’re attacking ourselves.  Certainly Riverdale has been warned about woodsmoke pollution….but at -40, who’s listening?  (And -40 is where all temperature worlds, both those who live in Fahrenheit and those who live in Celsius, meet)

It’s interesting to think of the city all divided up into parts, separate sections outside of their context.  Like the world ends at the end of the street.  In some ways it was like speeding through the countryside of Texas and seeing each section as if it were its own small town strung together like pearls on a string heading towards the big city.

I saw Raoul Bhaneja’s one man version of Hamlet tonight, so I’m really enjoying language.  Makes me want to read, or see, Shakespeare more often.  Also makes me think of transitions–from one street to the next–from one scene to the next–my whole town was in crossfades.

Baked Café: Purveyors of Fine Coffees, Good Foods, and Perfect Days

A perfect day, and I’ve had them before, almost always contains a visit to Baked Café.  Some days I just come to sit on the black couches and look out the windows at Whitehorse going by.  Sometimes I bring a book to read.  Sometimes I plan official meetings there.  Other times I arrange to meet my friends.  Often, I run into them there unexpectedly.  Baked Café is a community hub, so naturally it’s a great venue for meeting.  There’s a lot of ambience in the wide room, and a lot of ambient noise so that you can speak frankly without being overheard.  Music on the radio.  People standing around talking.  It’s comfortable, and often crowded, but not in a jam-packed way, but more like having your best friends all over at your place, happy.  It’s probably the largest coffeeshop that Whitehorse has.

At the corner of First and Main, Baked Café serves a large range of specialty coffees and teas, cold drinks, as well as a wide repetoire of scones and pastries.  You cannot pass up a scone that is bigger than your hand.  It is a meal.  Cranberry Coconut, Cranberry Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Almond or Raspberry Walnut–they each come in three kinds: white, wheat and spelt.  Awesome soups–my favorites are any of their hearty chowders and their Tomato Basil with or without chicken.  They also serve sandwiches, beef pies, quiches, wraps, salads, cookies, and in the summer, several flavors of gelato. There is something for everyone.  It is a hot tourist spot in the summer, and just a hop away from the Whitehorse Trolley across the street.  Kids love it.  And it’s close to everything on Main Street–a place to begin your perfect day of shopping and touring around.  It’s a block away from the Museum, down the street from the Westmark, next to the river and the Whitepass Yukon Railway building.

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Eisenhower and Churchill: UFO cover up?

Released in a wave of declassified UFO documents in England comes this gem: that Eisenhower and Churchill purposely covered up UFOs.  There was a short time in US history where talking about UFOs wasn’t censored–especially the military.  People in the military left and right were commenting on “saucers” and technology from “Mars”–and then, it’s said that Eisenhower decided to hush the whole thing down.

This New York Daily News article talks about a letter declassified in England:

A letter sent in 1999 by an unnamed person from Leicester, England, relays a story he was told by his mother, which came from his grandfather, who claimed to have witnessed the alleged cover-up.

“It is claimed that my grandfather, [REDACTED] was present during a debate between Winston Churchill and Mr. Eisenhower during World War II involving making a decision about an unexpected incident,” the letter states, dated Sept. 20, 1999.

The incident in question took place off the English coast and involved a Royal Air Force bomber crew, which was returning from a “photographic mission” in either Germany or France.

“The aircraft was intercepted by an object of unknown origin,” the letter explains, “which matched course and speed with the aircraft for a time and then underwent an extremely rapid acceleration away.”

Photos and/or film were supposedly captured of the object, which “hovered noiselessly” and seemed metallic.

The incident sparked a discussion between Churchill and General Eisenhower, presumably via telephone, who commanded the Allied forces during the later period of the war.

According to the letter, the grandfather who witnessed the conversation heard Churchill state: “This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic amongst the general population and destroy one’s belief in the Church.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2010/08/05/2010-08-05_winston_churchill_dwight_d_eisenhower_covered_up_ufo_sighting_in_england_letter_.html#ixzz18FjARGfF

 

The story is backed up in several other newspapers–the document is real.  Now if the story is real, that’s another matter.  But if it is, then it will go well with this 1952 UFO buzz of the White House.

 

 

You want the truth?  We’ll get as close as we can.  Come to Longest Night, Dec 20, 21, 8pm, Yukon Arts Centre.

We’ll be talking about visitation…. aliens, UFOs, and the sightings that started them all.

 

 

 

 

Howls and Hell Yeahs: The Celebration of the Life of Reid A. Parent

I just returned from a beautiful service honouring the life of Reid A. Parent, a 25 year old man who touched the lives of tons of people before his untimely death in a car accident.

Reid was the main speaker at the event.  His words were all over the program–several of his journal entries revealed a creative, philosophical man who loved others and adored life.  His Sweater Video gave a discussion of how most people will lie and tell you that your sweater is beautiful, even if it’s the ugliest thing on earth, but that his own mother sincerely believes any sweater on him becomes beautiful.  I love the shock on his face when he realizes his mother honestly believes in the beauty.  Other videos of him rapping and singing were played.  Pictures of him showed a life of daring himself to be himself in all situations, and a life of making sure that he found “the goodness in other people,” as his stepdad, Darrell Hookey remarked.  His family and friends had the funniest stories about him–stories where he turned life into a beautiful game, and made every moment count.  Reid was there–all over the place–and he said his peace, and keeps saying his peace, through those who loved and knew him.

I am so glad there are celebrations of life–like participatory memoirs, we get a full picture of the life of a person, and get to celebrate what he gave that life.  It was horribly short, but it was grandly full.  And the proof was in the hundreds of people who showed up in Whitehorse, not to mention the hundreds that showed up in BC for the first memorial service.

His sister, Leah, another beautiful soul, said all she could do was howl–and so she invited us all to howl.  And we did.  All of us.  Howled like a pack of wolves who had lost their leader.  It seemed to me that Reid led a lot of people away from the brooding part of life into the happiness part.  Darrell Hookey challenged the crowd to live lives that took in every moment.  He didn’t accept our little silent nods.  He said we should answer that challenge the way Reid always did, with a “Hell yeah!”  And so he posed the question again, and pointed to us, and just like our earlier howl, we responded with a hearty “HELL YEAH” as we promised Reid, and ourselves, that time would not get away from us, that we would live full lives, and that we would love others as part of living full lives.

So many funerals can be much more final, more, shall I say, depressing, but this one was full of pain, yes, but was also full of celebration and promise–as Reid now inhabits all of us through his stories, his videos, his music, his writings, his friends, his family.  Reid goes on in particle form, or as the emcee said, he goes on in “seed” form…planting a renewed, and vigorous, life-living plant inside of us.

Go out there and howl, and let your yesses be Hell Yeahs. And give people enough of yourself that when you leave this Earth, you leave behind a garden of goodness and good stories.

God bless you, Reid Parent.  God bless you Darrell and Daisy, Leah, and all the relatives and all the friends who carry Reid’s seeds of joy.

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Another moving tribute from the Yukon News.

For the Love of Whitehorse: Why I Live in the Wilderness City

Occasionally, people will ask me why I’m here.  They don’t mean I should leave– only what it is that keeps me here.  It’s good to think about why you live in the place you do.  You can always say that work brought you here, or love, or you were raised here, or it’s all you know… but I can’t say any of these…  so I start thinking about why Whitehorse is the perfect city.  

Whitehorse has some very unique qualities.  In a nutshell:  It functions as both the capital and largest city of our territory, while maintaining many characteristics of a small town.  It has the cultural capital of a city 10 to 20 times its size, compressed in a small area, as it is home to a surprisingly large number of artsy folk–musicians, artists, writers and our ilk.  Whitehorse is drenched in pivotal and interesting history.  Finally it is surrounded by extensive wilderness that affords outdoor enthusiasts a vast playground, and keeps folks green-minded.    Continue reading