felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I've been trying to review some of the books that have been sitting on my to-review pile for ages.

review continues for La Nuit Des Princes Charmants by Michel Tremblay )

In short, it's a perfect little poem of a book. There's not a word here that doesn't need to be.

In other news, it's Victoria Day Eve here in Canada. Across the country, little ones are hanging up stockings and putting out cookies for when Queen Victoria glides over in her gilded carriage drawn by pomeranians. After that, we sing the Victoria Day carols, tell the kids about the true nature of Victoria Day, and then send them all out to manufacture snuff and clean chimneys for a night.

Canadian holidays are weird like that.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So it's Remembrance Day - a day to remember all the naive kids who went off to the meat-grinder of two World Wars, without any real idea what they were getting into.

In the US, it's a shopping holiday. In Canada, it's a solemn event. We wear poppies and gather at cenotaphs to remember the dead, and talk about trenches and No Man's Land fenced off with barbed wire, and a generation of kids whose fathers didn't come home. Increasingly we talk about the things in World War II that can't be forgotten either - Nazism and the Holocaust first and foremost.

True remembrance can only serve the cause of peace. Maybe that's why this country was so committed in those two wars, and so reluctant since to go to war - maybe this yearly ceremony is part of that reluctance.

This year I'm thinking especially of the gay veterans never compensated for what they went through, in two World Wars. I hope the apology I proposed goes somewhere, but it seems every reporter wants to talk to a World War II vet over this, and it's too late for most of the victims in that war.

The apology should still come, though, while there's still a few around to hear it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Also, I've updated my historical blog, about the disappearance of the Two-Spirit traditions in Canada.

An important subject, but a multi-tiered minefield to walk through. For starters, I'm a white guy writing about Native history.

Then there's the issue of gender variance and sexual orientation. The post-1950s West sees these as very different things, but we're pretty much the only time and place that did, and so in all the literature there's snarking between people who claim the historical Two-Spirit identity for trans history, and those who claim it for gay history.

Given that no one from the early 19th century and before is around to interview in depth, I've hedged my bets and not tried to make any positive declarations.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
It's been a good week. [livejournal.com profile] montrealais is back from Europe. Tickets to Tori arrived in the mail -- thank you [livejournal.com profile] em_fish! Elections Canada is on my back about Ts someone else forgot to cross, but I think that's going to work out.

Writing is on schedule, too. My goal is to send this monster out no later than the first week of September. I was kind of wonder if those who have a copy of version six had a chance to read it yet..? If not, it's fine. I was just curious.

Also, every Canadian or Canadian aspirant needs to listen to this podcast. It's about Canada, and the First Nations, and who we are. And it's classic Saul -- brilliant ideas in plain English, with humour and with no punches pulled.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Happy Canada Day! It's been 142 years since Confederation, and depending on how you count, we could four hundred years old or longer. John Ralston Saul argues we're effectively thousands of years old, because our usual way of counting leaves out aboriginal peoples who contributed so much to this country.

But still we like to think of ourselves as a young nation, naive in everything we do and likely to fail at any time.

I've done very little lately, aside from writing and working and researching -- I've half-written another article for my historical website. This heat has made me feel sluggish.

I've also been playing a fair bit of the Persona series. The third was brilliant -- one of the best endings of any game -- and the fourth game is even better, and even stranger. For example, I just defeated a giant decaying teddy bear that kept quoting Postmodern philosophy and hurtling bolts of pure nihilism at me. I defeated it with game's patented Jungian psychology combat system.

Using Jung to beat Foucault -- I doubt John Ralston Saul has ever played a video game, but somehow I think he would have approved.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Today is the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which is the touchstone moment of the gay movement in the United States. Celebrations are planned all over Canada.

Don't get me wrong. It's worthy of commemoration. But yesterday, another anniversary passed that no one's talking about -- the 40th anniversary of the day the omnibus bill was made a law, making homosexuality legal in Canada.

It was the result of tireless efforts on the part of our activists, starting with Jim Egan. Egan became Canada's first gay activist in 1949, and our only one until 1961. He tried constantly to get others to campaign with him, but they wouldn't. They were too scared.

And they had a reason to be. Penalties were actually getting harsher. As late as 1964, a man named George Klippert was sentenced to prison for the rest of his natural life -- as opposed to a "life" sentence of 25 years -- as a "dangerous offender," because he'd had consensual sex with several men.

Egan retired from activism in 1961 -- his partner begged him to, because of the death threats. By then, he'd opened up enough of a space for the first activist organizations -- starting with Vancouver's Association for Social Knowledge. Activists from ASK and the groups that followed risked their jobs, their families, even their lives to fight an unjust law.

And they're the reason homosexuality was legalized between consenting adults in Canada on June 27, 1969.

So please, take a moment to remember the activists who fought for our freedom. Stonewall was a great event, but it was not the beginning of our movement in Canada, and saying so does a great disservice to everyone who risked so much so that we'd have the right to live our lives without fear.

(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] queer_mtl)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

Well, it's been quite a week. Harper's bought himself some time, but at a massive cost of credibility. Ontario's economy is getting worse and Quebeckers are disillusioned. You don't take power in this country without the two most-populated provinces.

It's too sdoon to tell for sure, but I'm trying to keep optimistic. The Liberals are trying to push Dion off the plank faster than before, for having committed the sin of poor video editing and failure to hire a decent courrier service. I really hope that decent judgement prevails on their part, or that Michael Ignatieff suddenly shaves his head, renounces the world, and runs off to a Buddhist monastery in Laos or something like that.

Meanwhile, Martha Hall-Findlay said on CBC's The House that this last week Conservatives have been offering highly-illegal bribes to Liberals to get them to cross the floor.

If the Liberals don't pull a David Emerson en masse, and don't chicken out, Harper's lost. And if they do, it's hard not to imagine the Liberal Party getting wiped out in favour of the NDP next election. They'd have no money, no trust from the public, no common principle to rally around. In some ways, this really is their last chance.

Poor Dion. I feel sorry for the guy -- he was the best of the three presented at the last Liberal leadership convention. And frankly, I wonder if the pundits have it backwards and he prevented an even greater collapse of the Liberal Party than would've happened under Ignatieff or Rae.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I've updated my historical website with something historical for a change. The new article is about homosexuality in the media at the end of the 19th and the turn of the 20th century in Canada.

Individual cases had been mentioned, but this was the first time homosexuality started to get talked about as a "social problem."

Doing this site has been really interesting. I've not only had to dig up LGBT history, but a lot of general Canadian history as well to do a background on these issues. There's so much out there that would be considered vital history to know in any other country, but which isn't even taught in our schools.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I'd like to wish a happy birthday to Quebec City, founded 400 years ago today ^_^

This is actually a more honest date for the founding of the country than the 141st-birthday we celebrated a couple of years ago, which really only marked the point when de facto democracy became official and backed up by a constitution, and when some aspects of the law of four provinces were merged. The people who were here already had a rich culture and an identity separate from any of the mother countries, which came into existence starting 400 years ago today.

So effectively, this isn't just Quebec's birthday, but Canada's as well.

And while we're on the subject of national pride, I'm really happy that Henry Morgentaler got the Order of Canada, the country's highest honour.

For those of you who don't know, Morgentaler is the doctor responsible for getting safe, legal abortions in this country. He's a Dachau concentration camp survivor who came over here after World War II. He performed abortions illegally in the 1960s, and spent a time in jail, and a lot more time in court. His clinic was bombed. But 20 years ago, he won the Supreme Court case that overturned the abortion laws.

As he's quite elderly, there was worry that he would die before anyone gave him the Order of Canada -- you can't give that award posthumously. Anti-abortion groups are up in arms, of course.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

I thought I'd pop in to wish a happy Dominion Day to all those Vorta and Jem'Hadar out there Canada turns 141 today, so it's high time we began our conquest of the alpha quadrant.


In personal more news, I finished the climax of my (fifth version of) my novel today. I'm pleased with it -- best climax I ever wrote, and better than any I had with my last boyfriend. The novel has the added advantage of still being there in the morning.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I finished Michael Adams' Fire and Ice this week. Adams is Canada's most prominent private pollster, and the book is the result o a decade's worth of studies that show that Canadians' values are actually becoming more different from those of the Americans, contrary to the usual assumption.

It was an excellent book except for one tragic chapter about our differing histories. I really wish commentators on Canadian society would quit relying on their high school textbooks for their history. They might as well be going to a Magic 8-Ball -- "Was Lord Durham's assessment of the rebellions as 'two nations warring in a single breast' accurate?" Answer: "Outlook Not So Good."

Probably the most interesting chapter, though, was an appendix listing "Values Tracked Only in Canada." These were things that -- during their initial interviews -- many Canadians mentioned that they had strong positive or negative feelings about, but few if any Americans did.

(By "values" they mean everything from "ways of living life" and "things that are important day to day" to the grand theories and paradigms of life. )

Sadly, Adams doesn't often tell us which things Canadians talked about a lot because they liked, and which ones they talked about because they thought they were bad things, though some are probably pretty obvious -- I have a hard time imagining anyone singling out polysensorality (my new favourite word) as a negative.

(Polysensorality is the belief that life should be sensual experience, but that too much emphasis is put on sight and not enough on the other four senses. Polysensorality is probably Adams' word for this hitherto nameless topic, but this was something apparently many Canadians felt passionate about.)

Some of the values that only Canadians mentioned were no surprise -- Canadians talked in large numbers about "Belonging to the Global Village" and "Flexibility of Gender Identity" and "Deconsumption"and "Openness to Others," while Americans didn't.

Much more surprising is that few Americans raised the topic of "Attraction to Physical Beauty" and "Attraction to Violence [in TV and games]" though maybe that's for same reason that the fish doesn't notice the water.

On the whole, it was a brilliant read. I'm now nearly finished Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So last week I visited Indigo Books' Canadian Poetry section.

(Always a difficult prospect -- there's always such a crowd, it's a struggle to slip in. It's difficult, I'll tell you, to slip past the Margaret Atwood fangirls, the bpNichol cosplayers, and the kids lined up for the Lorna Crozier action figures -- though these are especially bad during the midnight release of her books.)

There I picked up a book of bill bisset's poetry, and a book of tribute poetry.

You know what's better than the fact that you can become a major Canadian poet by writing emo poems about gay sex in lolcat?

The fact that the crème de la crème of the Canadian poetry establishment will write tribute poems in your name, and often in your style.

(Curse your perfect grammar, Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood! Couldn't you have given us one poem in lolcat?)

You know what's better than buying two books of emo poems about gay sex in lolcat?

The little notice on the copyright page of both of them that each was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Your tax dollars at work ^_^
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I suppose there's still a little time to wish people a happy Canada Day! Hard to believe country's 140 years old.

I spent the holiday hanging out with good friends, and also researching some of the murkier depths of early Canadian history.

I'm sorry I've been neglecting journals. I've been captivated by history lately (my last entry was not great, but I've got a much better one to post tomorrow). I'll start back-reading tomorrow -- I promise.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
  1. Writing continues, though slowly. I'm working on a relatively new scene (this is only the second version I've had it in), and it's coming along well enough, so long as I write it slowly). Still done very little for the short story competition, and even less for the poetry competition, since the novel's taking up the most time.

  2. I've decided that my favourite Canadian place name is "Limping Clock Island" ("L'Horloge-Qui-Boîte") here in Quebec. Moose Factory, Ontario -- the name of an island and a town on the island -- comes a close second. We have so great names in this country, though, what with Dildo, Newfoundland, and St-Louis-de-Ha!-Ha!, Quebec. An honourable mention goes to Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump historic site, in Alberta.

  3. I had a marvellous potluck at the home of friends-of-friends, though I had previously met the host. This wonderful host had the highest roof of any kitchen I've ever seen -- it must have been thirty feet high.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
First, some news stuff:
  1. Canada will soon have a new Governor General named Michaëlle Jean. Most people in English Canada have never heard of her, though she's well-known enough in French Canada. Most of the comments have been good, but a few of the letters at the CBC and The Globe and Mail show that racism and sexism are alive and well in this country, unfortunately (Madame Jean is Haitian). Apparently, the fact that Canada has had two women of colour in row for GG indicates some kind of pandering political correctness, according to some of these people. The post has been held for 126 out of 138 years by men, and 132 out of 138 years by white people.

  2. And speaking of unloved minorities in high places, the Crown Prince of Qatar -- the man groomed to be the next Emir -- was caught in a barfight in a British gay bar with his boyfriend. Qatar, as I understand it, is an absolute monarchy, except that the monarches are required to follow Sharia law, which prescribes death for homosexuality. No word on whether the 25-year-old prince can return to Qatar and not be afraid for his life :/

And now, for personal stuff, which is a lot more cheerful:
  1. First, congratulations are in order to [livejournal.com profile] snowdaemon for her permanent residency status. She'll make a great addition to the country.

  2. My writing continues apace. I think I'm coming out of one of my worst slumps, now, and I'm working on far too many pieces at once.

  3. I think everyone's a go for Gravitation tonight. Just so we're on the same page, 8pm tonight, at [livejournal.com profile] foi_nefaste's, and I'll be bringing the video (episodes 7, 8, and 9 tonight, I guess...?)


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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