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I am very proud to announce that Chapters-Indigo bookstores across Canada have launched Tragically Hip, Twisted. Outside Ontario, it may not be available in every store – just ask, and the store can order for you. It is extremely rare for a self-published book to get picked up by Canada’s pre-eminent book chain. I hope we’ll reach some more readers and raise more funds for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research.
I wrote this post 8 years ago, for the French Open. The Federer/Nadal rivalry was already one of the all-time great ones, though Nadal had not yet “run away” with the head to head. That took a little lustre off it as a rivalry in terms of their direct contests (Rafa dominates the H2H 23-11; but in terms of career accomplishments, Roger is far in front). Still, here we are, 6 years from their LAST Grand Slam final (a 2011 French Open win for Rafa), and the two are ready for a kind of tennis Valhalla battle. So, before we do, please take a look at some thoughts from a long time ago, a Nietzschean analysis about what makes this rivalry so enthralling, despite the lopsided H2H in Rafa’s favour: [Read more…]
An exciting week, this, and its only Tuesday. Monday, I connected with the Sunnybrook Foundation to begin a donor-relationship with funds from the sale of Tragically Hip, Twisted, going specifically to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research. The whole idea behind putting the book together was as a tribute to the Hip; to be able to fundraise through the book in this way seems to fit together with that. Aside from these donations being in honour of the band, cancer has been a major actor in my life and my family’s story. I imagine a lot of people would say that, but I feel it acutely. I lost my mother to cancer when I was a child. My father, as a lung surgeon, spent his career fighting cancer, and my brothers and I had the opportunity create a visiting professorship at the Ottawa Hospital in his name, to bring cutting edge research in the field to my father’s old department. In addition, one of my brothers is a neurosurgeon, continuing the idea of cancer as a personal family adversary.
On a lighter note, today, Tragically Hip, Twisted became Amazon’s #1 bestselling Canadian short story collection. Anytime you can lead a list containing Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, David Bezmogis and Lucy Maud Montgomery, you’ll take it. (Bestseller-page image below the Sunnybrook letter).
My newest project, Tragically Hip, Twisted, the illustrated collection of short stories inspired by Tragically Hip songs, has gotten some nice pre-release attention. Much thanks to CTV Ottawa and Lianne Lang, and Ben Bulmer and the legendary LowDown newspaper! The book will be a fundraiser for cancer research.
Here is my interview on CTV Ottawa Morning Live.
Update: I have a web page for my Tragically Hip-inspired ebooks, and my new hardcover illustrated collection, Tragically Hip, Twisted. Check it out here. But if you still want to read this post, by all means, read on…
Over a decade ago I began a hobby that I’ve still not given up, though I get to play at it seldom. I write short stories based on Tragically Hip songs. Not the songs that tell a story – because they already tell a story. But the songs that don’t quite, on their own. I’ve always found the Hip’s music expressionistic and evocative. Their music put stories in my mind, even when the lyrics don’t tell one directly. They tell story snippets. The listener can piece together a multiplicity of possible stories from them.
I just discovered an historic document! A list of all the books I’d read from 2003 to the beginning of 2011. I began keeping the list because I thought it would pressure me to read more. It wound up just being fun, especially looking back and remembering. I’d rated them, too. I don’t really know why, its just one of those OCD-type things I would insist on being strict about. [Read more…]
My new op-ed in the National Post on the much ignored Stabbing Intifada and how it demonstrates the absurdity of using death toll ratios to condemn Israel.
When a society worships death, honours suicide attackers and forces civilians to serve as human shields, they are going to have a high death count.
I’ll be volunteering in support of a medical mission to rural Tanzania in February. The mission is organized by Canada-Africa Community Health Alliance (CACHA-ASCCA) , a very grassroots Ottawa NGO that has been doing great work abroad for more than a decade. (For those worrying I’ll do more harm than good, I won’t actually be doing medical work personally.)
If anyone is interested in donating to support the mission, as well as the long term projects in the communities we’re visiting, please go to this web page for more info:
Thanks, and thanks to those who have already donated! I encourage you to find out more about CACHA.
My new op-ed in our excellent local small town paper, The Low Down to Hull and Back News.
This was not meant as a defence specifically of the planned memorial to the victims of communism in Ottawa, but to explain why, more fundamentally, we should respect and understand this theme of 20th century history.
Text below: [Read more…]
I have a new passion, as of yesterday. I’ve been gorging on a very niche form of music: jamming between strangers. I didn’t just discover this yesterday. I’ve been participating in it for over twenty years, but I just discovered the YOUTUBE videos. That’s the thing about random jamming with strangers: they’re unplanned. There’s little recording of this, unless you happen to be, say James Brown, Prince, BB King and Michael Jackson. (OK, they weren’t strangers, but just enjoy the damn video).
So now, with video camera cell phones everywhere, this whole art form, which has existed only in vanishing, isolated moments in space and time, is suddenly recorded, and callable at whim – we can see just how much fun is being had out there.
Check some of these out. This is what music is all about to me: improvisation without a net; sharing; creating as a team; opening minds; breaking down barriers; and pure joy.
So much to love in this! Look at that face on the second sax player as he gets ready, he KNOWS something special is going down. The first guy ALREADY has the train dancing and bouncing. Then in comes the second gun-slinger, and it is ON and everybody knows it. Listen to that clapping! That is a sophisticated audience there. Make sure you wait for Part 2 in the video, it just blows the roof off. And again at 3:40.
Or check this one:
This last is a public piano in Amsterdam. You can Youtube a whole range of stranger-jams at that piano, or any of the other public pianos which have been sprouting up. That’s cool.
Myself, I am a lousy musician across a wide spectrum of instruments. I love playing. I am least bad at harp (harmonica), then probably piano. A step down in bad is my ukulele, and then my sax playing, and then a level below that are vocals and drums. I’ve been known to play bass, but that’s below the range of the chart. -Eleven.
The great thing about a harp is that it travels with you, so wherever I am, if the situation comes up, I am equipped to make music. This has led to some of the greatest memories of my life, these impromptu jams. On a beach, a street corner, a subway stop, or, of course, in a bar or on any other stage, THERE is music. There’s the spark, someone has begun. There’s the opportunity: if one more musician, armed and in-the-mood walks by, there’s the fire, and the magic.
I am in love with this form, and look forward to discovering more gems like these! Be a part of it!