Debt’s Honor progress report

After a long period of being blocked I managed to write over 1300 words on DEBT’S HONOR the sequel to my novel DEBT’S PLEDGE (available now at Yay, me!

That brings the word count up to just over 46,000 and I reckon I’m about a third of the way into it, which means the final first draft may end up being somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000 words.

Which is a far cry from the quick and dirty short novel I’d envisioned the sequel being when I started.

Hopefully it will go a bit faster from here on in.

Moggy the Cat


This is Moggy the Cat. As you can clearly see in this picture I caught him red handed with the contents of the pockets of my jeans.

Now, most rational people would see this picture and come to the erroneous conclusion that my wife, Frances, had dumped the contents of my jeans’ pockets before putting them into the wash and then Moggy here came by later and laid down on the floor where the loot was dumped.

But those people would be wrong. You see, I know what goes on in this cat’s dark and larcenous heart. He wouldn’t think twice about rifling through my pockets for loose change or jacking my wallet.

The little fingersmith!

“It’s a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!” Black Friday


Today is Black Friday which has nothing to do with black history month (as a friend of mine once thought).

No, Black Friday is the first official shopping day of the Christmas season, the day that traditionally, since 1961, retail stores have gone from being in the red to being in the black. This is when your consumer goods retailers start to show a profit.

The retailers themselves are complicit in driving consumers into a frenzy, a mindless rage of acquisition at any cost. No quarter is given, but lots of dollars flow and chaos and mayhem erupt on the showroom floors.

It’s a madhouse out there. If you are sensible you will stay home. One day of bargains on stock that the outlets need to get rid of before littering their display floors with shiny new Christmas goods is not worth the risk of being a victim of a crowd of bargain frenzied, soulless consumers.

It’s like the zombie apocalypse but without weapons.

And if you do have to venture forth or, worse, are employed in a retail outlet (shudder) then take care.

Don’t die out there.

Thanksgiving turkey and a heaping side dish of irony


Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends. May today be a mere microcosm of the tribulation you’ve been experiencing this year and in the four years to come

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

Some Native Americans and others take issue with how the Thanksgiving story is presented to the American public, and especially to schoolchildren. In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of millions.

Thanksgiving is particularly ironic this year in light of the protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota where Sioux are trying to stop the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their sacred territories and the brutal and harsh treatment they have received from private security forces and State Police.

Also ironic this year is the rhetoric surrounding the issue of immigrants coming into the US. The violent and vitriolic opposition to the idea of letting those who are not white or Christian into the safe harbour of America while they flee their war-torn homelands is somewhat at odds with the national celebration of the time that the original peaceful inhabitants of America fed and sheltered a group of starving immigrants.

So, here`s hoping that the day goes relatively peacefully. Enjoy your turkey and your pie and your football and may the ravages of indigestion not be visited upon you.



Yes. We have no bananas.

We have no bananas today.

This was the banana display at my local No Frills store last night. As you can see, there are no bananas. Well, there’s one, yeas, but honestly it was very unattractive. The last inch of it had turned a gangrenous black. Trust me, no one’s eating that banana.

So where have all the bananas gone? Well, at 66 cents a pound they very likely have just been shopped out. I don’t know if this is a disturbing sign of the end times or anything and, no, I did not check any other stores to see if their supply of bananas was up to snuff. Perhaps this is the beginning of the great banana apocalypse of 2016?

Or maybe it was just a good deal.

I’m not complaining for myself, though. I like bananas but I can’t eat them. They give me an upset stomach. My wife doesn’t like them. So, again, this is not a personal tragedy or anything. Nevertheless I think it behooves me to check out the banana situation at the other grocery stores in town today. I need to do the legwork and discover for myself if this is a real thing or merely a one-time anomaly.

I will investigate and, believe me, I will be reporting back.

Whiskey Jack


Let’s take a break from fear politics and science fiction and fantasy (don’t worry, I won’t stray too far away).

Let’s talk about birds.

Specifically, let’s talk about the gray jay or, as it is commonly known, the whiskey jack.

The gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis), also grey jay, Canada jay or whiskey jack, is a member of the crow and jay family found in the boreal forests across North America, mostly in the northernmost parts otherwise known as the Great White North or, as those of us who live here like to call it, Canada.

Why, you ask, am I suddenly talking about gray jays?

Well, you see, in January 2015, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic magazine announced a project to select a National Bird of Canada, dubbed the National Bird Project, consisting of an online poll inviting Canadians to vote for their favourite bird. The poll closed on August 31, 2016, and a panel of experts convened the following month to review the top five selections: the gray jay, common loon, snowy owl, Canada goose and black-capped chickadee.

This month the project announced that the gray jay was selected as the winner of the contest, and will recommend that the Canadian government make the selection official as part of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017.

The gray jay takes advantage of man-made sources of food, hence the names “camp robber” and “whiskey jack”. Human observers do not inhibit gray jay’s feeding behavior; however, once having identified man with food it does not forget. This is probably the reason why the whiskey jack beat out the other contenders for Canada’s favorite bird. While camping or just being out in the wilderness, a favorite Canadian activity that is practiced both summer and winter, encounters with the whiskey jack are commonAsk most any Canadian about it and they’ll tell you stories about whiskey jacks stealing food from their camps. A friend of mine recently told me about a whiskey jack who stole a whole strip of bacon from a frying pan while he was cooking it in his campsite. (Yes, Canadians cook bacon while camping. We’re not savages)

The name whiskey jack is a corruption of an Algonquin word, Wisakedjak. Wìsakedjàk (or Wīhsakecāhkw in Cree and Wiisagejaak in Oji-cree) is found in northern Algonquian and Dene storytelling, similar to the trickster god Nanabozho in Ojibwa sacred stories and Inktonme in Assiniboine myth. He is generally portrayed as being responsible for a great flood which destroyed the world originally made by the Creator, as well as the one who created the current world with magic, either on his own or with powers given to him by the Creator for that specific purpose.

The Cree people believe the wīhsakecāhkw is a benign spirit, fun-loving and cheerful. The name was Anglicized as whiskey jack.Indeed, the bird is seen in Cree stories as an example of good manners and good company. Very Canadian

Wisakedjak shows up as a character in the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman, where he is frequently referred to as “Whiskey Jack” (See? I told you I wouldn’t stray far away from fantasy). In the book, he appears as a native old man, who lives in a mobile home, somewhere near a Lakota reservation in the badlands with Johnny Appleseed.

So next time you are in the remote boreal wilderness, keep and eye out for the gray jay or whiskey jack.

Or just cook up some bacon and he’ll come to you.

America, this is your “Hail Hydra” moment

America, this is your “Hail Hydra” moment.

There is no going back from this. You’re no longer dealing with just Donald Trump and his Republican crew, you now have to deal with the fact that your friends, co-workers, classmates and neighbors — your fellow Americans — are not who you thought they were.

You thought they were loyal to the principles that America stood for. Guess what? It’s like they’ve pulled you close and whispered “Hail Hydra” just before they stab you with a knife.

You can tell me to fuck off. You can tell me that, as a Canadian. I don’t know what I’m talking about, but honestly, from my point of view, the genie is out of the bottle and there’s no getting that fucker back in.

It is absolutely heartbreaking. I’m so sorry.

Valerian and Laureline


If you’re a fan of Luc Besson’s films (The Fifth Element, Lucy) or you’re just a fan of science fiction films in general, and you’ve been on Facebook recently, then you likely have come across the first trailer for Besson’s upcoming film VALERIAN.

If you haven’t, let me show it to you:

So, most people agree that the trailer is pretty mind blowing but few people know just who Valerian is. I’ve been a fan of the graphic novels that this film is based on for years, since I was in my early twenties, and that is a long, long time ago.

valerian-ambassador-int-1Back then I was a huge fan of the American comic magazine HEAVY METAL. When I learned that the US magazine was based on a French magazine, METAL HURLANT (literally Screaming Metal), I managed to find some copies of the French version as well. Along the way I learned about other French magazines including one called Pilote in whose pages the adventures of Valerian et Laureline were originally presented.

Valérian et Laureline, also known as Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent or just Valérian, is a French science fiction comics series, created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières.

First published in 1967, the series focused on the adventures of the dark-haired Valérian, a spatio-temporal agent, and his redheaded female colleague, Laureline, as they travel the universe through space and time. Valérian is a classical hero, kind-hearted, strong and brave who follows the orders of his superiors even if he feels, deep down, that it is the wrong thing to do. On the other hand, his partner Laureline combines her superior intelligence, determination and independence with sex-appeal.

Influenced by classic literary science fiction, the series mixes space opera with time travel plots.

valerian_3Christin’s scripts are noted for their humour, complexity and strongly humanist ideals while Mézières’ art is characterised by its vivid depictions of the alien worlds and species Valérian and Laureline encounter on their adventures. The series is considered a landmark in European comics and pop culture and influenced other media as well: traces of its concepts, storylines and designs can be found in many science fiction films including Star Wars and Besson’s own The Fifth Element.

valerian-and-laureline-2-the-empire-of-a-thousand-planets-paperback-l9781849180870The final installment of Valerian et Laureline was published in 2010. All of the Valérian stories have been collected in graphic novel album format, comprising some twenty-one volumes plus a short story collection and an encyclopaedia. Valérian is one of the top five biggest selling Franco-Belgian comics titles of its publisher, Dargaud.

Many of the stories have been translated into several languages, including English. The series has received recognition through a number of prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix de la ville d’Angoulême. An animated television series, Time Jam: Valerian & Laureline, was released in 2007.

And now, Besson’s film is set to introduce the characters to the world at large. When I heard that Besson was set to tackle the subject I was skeptical, particularly with the casting of Dane DeHaaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider Man 2) .

However, the trailer looks absolutely amazing and I can see that DeHaan is not as miscast in the role as I had earlier feared (although Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad) is perfectly cast as Laureline). I can only hope that the final film lives up to the graphic novels.

The long, dark night


The world has changed. More for some than for others, but it has, undeniably,changed.

A lot of people in America are in fear for their lives and for their safety. I hear it from the posts and comments from my Facebook feed and that fear is palpable and justified. I wish I could tell my American friends that it will all be okay, but I can’t because it probably won’t. At some point, for everybody… maybe one or two at a time, maybe all at once… things will go south.

The only thing I can do is offer a version of the same advice that I give my daughter. She lives in a larger city far from me and I do my best to give her good advice for staying safe, because when things go south they will go south alarmingly fast. A situation can go from moderately okay to absolutely fucked before you even know it.

Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you know where the exits are. If you can, scope out an escape route and keep it in your mind.

Keep a bag packed under your bed or somewhere you can grab it fast. Always have money for a bus or cab or a Greyhound handy. Keep it hidden if you can.

I’m not being alarmist. This is simple caution.

Be safe. Watch your six.