2017 arrived on a sleigh of smoking turds pulled by the four horseman of biblical fame, and still, we made it to 2018. Don’t ask me how. Last year was a blur. The world reeled, staggering from one shallow foxhole to the next with the various status quo in flames all around.

It reminded me of my favorite scene from that stink bomb of a psycho-drama The Birds.

Crows have just attacked the school, and the adults are huddled in a bar (kinda fitting) discussing a complete and terrifying turn of the table by Mother Nature (well played by the way) as though there was something rational to be found, if they just used their indoor voices, with town drunk – the only rational voice in the room – punctuating the discussion with occasional “It’s the end of the world”.

Is it though? Really? The end of the world.

Probably more reasonable to take our cultural reference cue from REM. It’s the end of the world … as we know it.

Because that happens throughout history, and if we are really ready to be honest, it’s happened more than once in living memory.

Someone on Twitter today had a list of all things that didn’t exist in 2003. On that list was pretty much the entirety of the internet as we use it today. Certainly most of our communication devices. The way we interact socially has been completely altered by social media.

Generation Zed knows nothing about an existence before hand held devices. They’ve literally been born and grown along with them. Our world is basically a teenager entering the end stages of puberty. And that, explains a lot.

So it makes sense that a political and economic world that our great-grandparents would still recognize and feel comfortable with simply can’t adapt. Things are giving way. It’s not like there are other options.

And okay, I will grant that the nuclear code rattling by America and North Korea could maybe sort of bring about an Armageddonish crisis, but I am going to throw caution to the wind and bet on us still being here in a year. What I will not claim is that the world will have settled down much. The current version of Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it won’t transform itself in a couple of years anymore than the last Rome did. Change takes time even when it feels like the exact opposite.

Happy New Year then. Congratulate yourself if you aren’t a Nazi or one of their enablers, yet, and remind yourself that whatever is coming, you are not the only one going through it. Look around your neighborhood, workplace, gym, school, community and find those like-minded, who are out there, and connect a bit more than you currently are. There is safety in numbers, but also laughs, joys and fiendish plots to thwart those bags of dicks who thrive in the chaos of change.

Bring it 2018. If the world could survive 2017, it’s ready for you.


I’ve been watching soap operas on and off for nearly the length of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of me hiding behind the sofa – instead of napping – while Mom folded laundry and watched As The World Turns.

Since leaving the US, I haven’t watched soaps much, and most of those I have caught up with now and again are long gone anyway. Occasionally though I catch a glimpse on YouTube, and sometimes, it’s intriguing enough for me to watch for a little while. I like seeing the grown up versions of characters who were infants or toddlers on shows I was watching while I was in high school or university. It’s like catching up with old neighbors, classmates, or the people you worked those crappy service work jobs with when you were in school.

Recently, a show I was addicted to when I was in high school had a character come back from the dead. I love that about soap operas. No one is ever dead until the writers are ready for them to be dead, and even then – it’s still negotiable.

The character in question was little more than a plot device decades ago. The accidental offspring of an affair that evolved into a messy divorce slash murder mystery. The exact details are fuzzy, but the child was eventually packed off to boarding school not to return until he was a more useful teenager.

The actor who played this love child – turned annoying teen, who eventually morphed into a mobster –  left the show a few years back but has returned of late. The character he played had been recast but that’s never a problem in soap land.

Sometimes writers create an elaborate imposter story line to cover the plot holes, but my favorite plot device when these issues arise is the long-lost twin.

I only bring this up because of the twist. The twins in question are in love with/and/or married to and have a child each by the same woman.

That’s strangely more real life these days than when I was a teenage soap opera viewer.

And why would this interest me? Well, back in my widowed message board days, the subject of “what would you do if your dead spouse showed up alive and well on your doorstep” often came up. They don’t call it magical thinking for no reason.

As I’ve caught this and that YouTube episode, I have noted the fans responding to the dilemma faced by the widow/wife, who finds herself with a not-so-dead husband and married to a man she’s just discovered is his long-lost twin. And nearly every single comment was “well, why doesn’t she just admit that she loves not-dead husband and go back to him? They are soul-mates, dammit!”

I’ll save my disdain for soul-mates for another day, but my reaction has been to chuckle and hold fingers back from the keyboard.

I know exactly why the writers leave her with her now husband.

Time travel isn’t a thing.

We live in a forward trajectory. All of us. Though I know everyone can think of at least one person they know who seems frozen in the past that’s simply not how life works.

Once a moment is lived, it’s past. It’s a memory. Memories can capture and hold us like Narcissus’s reflection held him, but they can’t be lived again or even recreated.

My first husband has been physically dead for almost a dozen years. A side effect of his illness caused him to develop dementia early on, and so my reality is that I lost him three years before he died.

It’s been so long ago that I can’t clearly remember his voice, laugh, or conversations that we had before he got sick. All that’s left are some plans that never left the drawing board and a tiny tot who is nearly out of high school now, and who he never had a chance to parent at all anyway.

If he were to show up on my doorstep would I even let him in is the better question. But trade ten years of marriage? A life that I love so much every other time of my life comes in a distant third to it. Swap the present for a past?

No.

No one would. And if they would, they might want to ask themselves, why aren’t they actively searching for a better life already? Because that’s the only time people look backward longingly, when they aren’t happy right now.

I do understand the appeal of stories like these. Humans are such “what if” creatures. As Yoda said, never our minds on where we are or what we are doing. Grounding ourselves more in what’s going on around us is really how happiness and contentment are found. I think Buddha said something to that effect too or maybe it was Jesus. My Catholic school and yoga training really do overlap sometimes.

But I do love me some back from the dead to find his long-lost twin was brainwashed and living his life. Corny 1980’s soap drama never goes out of style. Just like people’s wrong-headed notions about love it seems. Not completely.


Looming year’s end inspires journalists and politicians alike to sit down and spin a bit.

Rick Bell of the Edmonton Sun and Jason Kenney, the newly minted MLA from Calgary-Lougheed and leader of the fledgling United Conservative Party had one of those new year chats lately and, per tradition, it wasn’t terribly enlightening.

The main topic wasn’t even as surprising as it was just sad.

Of course, I am talking about bozos.

Yes, in Canada, politicians and pundits spend a good deal of time pondering the existence and continuing national nightmare of the bozo candidate, who more often than they should, become elected officials.

It’s a serious enough issue that I factor it in when contemplating who I want to see wind up as Premier or Prime Minister because, in my opinion, a leader’s ability or not to manage their benches directly correlates to how often I will have to judge them harshly and/or worry about the safety of my children’s future.

Faux pas nightmares walking among us is just a fact, but that others unite to give them platforms and power to cast an inky Mordorish shadow on far too many communities is a puzzlement. We should be marching and GoFunding to prevent these horrors from occurring, but as Jason Kenney admits to Bell, the onus of prevention truly falls most heavily on political parties and their leaders.

Bozos should simply never become candidates, according to Jason Kenney. It’s his new mission as UCP leader to make sure the Lake of Fire is doused.

It’s a good New Year’s resolution too because bozo’ng is almost a sport for the current crop of farther to the right than not conservatives in the Alberta legislature.

A few examples of extreme bozo’ng this year include MLAs who’ve compared social democracy to holocausts, held up murderous dictators as examples of good government and accused members of the majority holding NDP government of … eating dogs. And that’s just what they stood up and blurted out for the Hansard.

The Bozo gold medalist of 2017, an MLA who’s Libertarian views would comfortably cozy up like a fat purring cat in any southern state in America, has this year’s hat trick. He rented out his taxpayer subsidized apartment on Air BnB, was recently convicted of a hit and run in a parking lot, and topped both those incidents when game wardens caught him hunting on private property just days before being convicted of said hit and run. For all Jason’s talk about “vigorous vetting”, this guy is still in the running.

Vigorous vetting, as far as can be discerned, consists mainly of “are you fiscally conservative enough for us to overlook your numerous personal failings”? Most of the time, the answer appears to be yes.

Kenney’s current House Leader in the legislature is a good example of the lengths to which the party must go to “overlook”.

Jason Nixon, who represents Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, was discovered to have fired a female employee after she reported being sexually harassed on a job site. This only came to light during a debate on a bill that would strengthen protections for women in the workplace. Something Nixon feels is best left to businesses to decide for themselves, which in retrospect isn’t much of a surprise because as a businessman, he decided to fire a single mother of three – days before Christmas – rather than set straight the man who sexually harassed her.

As most men do these days, Nixon gave a tepid apology along the lines of “I was young. It was a different time. Of course I wouldn’t do that now because people get upset about it now, and that’s inconvenient for me. Blah. Blah. Blah.” And then he quickly entered the man poorly explaining witness protection program also known as blocking all his critics on Twitter.

Mr. Kenney’s response was to stand by his man.

So much for vetting.

Finally, it being an end of the year confab and all, it included the obligatory holiday cheer stuff. Jason’s consisted of throwing a fuel soaked yule log into the outrage flames of a conservative holiday tradition.

“The problem is people on the left think saying Merry Christmas is hateful. Those voices of crazed political correctness will not govern what is allowed.”

Ah, the war on Christmas. What would Christmas be without a war?

So, god bless us, everyone because I don’t think I need to point out that Jason’s holiday message to Albertans , as much as anything, qualifies as a Bozo moment.


Labour is still, unfortunately, divided into traditional perspectives as far as the world views relationships. There are the tasks that women perform and those that are the man’s job.

Automotive issues generally fall on the man. Putting on the snow tires, changing air filters and the oil is considered the domain of men. Although, as society moves farther and farther away from vehicles that can be easily maintained in the comfort of one’s garage (and let’s be real, a having a garage, or having one that isn’t a second basement, is drifting away from the norm too), vehicle maintenance is becoming a lost art regardless.

When I was single, I maintained my vehicles by taking it to a shop and letting a professional do the work. I drove in. I hopped out, sat in the waiting area, paid the bill and left. There was the obligatory peeks at different fluids and filters that required me to nod  but for the most part, it wasn’t really a chore and no one – that I am aware of in retrospect – was actively trying to rip me off in terms of service.

During my first marriage, I maintained my independence as far as this particular man job went because my first husband really didn’t know much at all about cars. He could change the oil and tires, which was more than I could do, but we didn’t have a garage and one of his best friends, who was a mechanic, told me on the sly early on “Don’t let him fix anything. Ask me first.” Good advice that I took.

Now husband, however, is a man job professional. I really can’t think of anything that falls under the traditional umbrella of man jobs that he can’t do. Literally.

And so, I have been lazy. Don’t judge.

For all of my life, I have taken care of myself and everyone who fell under my protection. My late husband was a terrific guy, and he had his strengths, but taking care of us wasn’t one of them. I was okay with that. I like being in charge, and I am pretty bossy, so it worked out well.

But, I admit, when the opportunity arose to hand over the tasks that I have never been fond of, I took it and didn’t look back.

Today, I took the truck in for an oil change. It was in semi-urgent need. Husband is quite busy and won’t be taking much time off over the holidays, so I thought “I’ve got this”. Which I did because I simply called up Husband on the phone and had the kid at Jiffy Lube talk to him.

Seriously, how did I ever live without instant access to everyone I know?

Whenever the need arises for me to step up for oil changes, however, I am reminded all over again that most of what I know about the truck is just how to drive it. I don’t know where anything is on the dash that I don’t have to use everyday. I know little to nothing about the various settings for lights, for instance, and I forget from one time to the next how to pop the hood open.

Jiffy Lube Kid presented this and that dipstick or spot on a card for me to judge levels or colour of this and that fluid, but I honestly couldn’t tell you if they were fine or not. They appeared to hit the proper marks and have the required clearness, so I gave a Queen Elizabeth nod, and he seemed satisfied.

I can tell the difference between an air filter that needs to be changed and one that doesn’t but fortunately, Jiffy Lube never asks me to. They simply say, “This looks fine” or “This should be changed” and I give my royal assent.

Sometimes I think maybe I should pay more attention to these man jobs like vehicles and home renovations, but those thoughts pass quickly.

There’s very little about the routine chore aspect of life that’s so complicated that it requires a whole lot of stored knowledge. If I had to – like today – I manage fine. It’s an oil change. Jiffy Lube wouldn’t get too many repeat customers if it’s regular practice was to lie to people. I don’t need to know the ins and outs of differentials, transmission leaks and air tire pressure to be able to deal with issues as they arise. A lot of the information people needed to know about home and vehicle maintenance in the days of yore stemmed from the fact that many things were not as complicated as they simply were time consuming. And disposable income was not such that people could afford to have someone else do the work for them.

For me, the important thing is that Husband and I are – mostly – doing those things that we find acceptable personally. I am disinterested in renovations beyond “are you finished yet?” and he is fine with taking on the work required to update. And while he is happy never to step foot in a grocery store, I am good with being a personal shopper. Just as an example.

But it’s a curious thing, this distribution of tasks. What’s his and what’s hers. And how easily we slide into roles. Some would say this is conditioning, and they’d be right to a point. In my opinion, personality and mutual understanding plays their parts too.

I imagine Jiffy Lube Guy runs into people like me – barely interested in or aware of what is going on in their vehicles as long as they are running – all day long. Women and men.


I game. Not hardcore – unless it’s a new release or new expansion – but I game. And though it sometimes feels like I am a lone woman in the gamer’sphere, the numbers say I am not.

As of 2014, women over the age of 18 were 32% of gamers while boys under 17 made up just 17%. Men make up 52% of all games and women are the remaining 48%, which is up from 40% in 2010.

Like most teens back in the day of arcades, I hung out. I played Tetris, Centipede, Galaxian and a bit of PacMan. It was never something I actively sought out and generally, if I found myself in an arcade, it was because one of my friends had a crush on a boy who hung out at arcades.

For the record, never once did I ever have a crush on a boy who hung out at an arcade.

I got my start in the virtual game world via The Legend of Zelda almost 20 years ago now. My late husband and I had a Nintendo 64. In addition to Zelda, which I found intuitively maddening for it’s lack of sense, we had the standard Mario offerings and some racing games. Eventually the new wore off and I gave the console to my nephew, but gaming called again about a decade ago when I discovered The Sims which, lacking rules and guidance, I was able to turn into hours of distraction during some darker times in my life.

I got back into gaming the summer before last when my husband got me a PS4 and introduced me to Destiny. I’d tried a few other games, Diablo 3, played a bit of Nintendoland with the kids and took a rather pathetic shot at Mass Effect. And really, I wasn’t feeling it.

But my husband wanted us to spend virtual time together in addition to the real time we already spent, and he was sure I would like Destiny because I had enjoyed watching him play Dust 514.

As shooter games go, it’s the easiest I have ever tried. It’s first person and the graphics aren’t cartoonish, which I find off-putting. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to play Mass Effect. It had a great story line, characters that were compelling and didn’t feel like something created for children.

I am not good. Fair to occasionally average is roughly my skill level. There were things about Destiny that I’d have never completed were it not for assistance from my husband and his online comrades, but I liked the game. I liked the time he and I spend playing, and I liked his friends – who, contrary to stereotype, are nice guys.

More imaginary friends is probably not something I need but it’s where I generally end up.

Husband now thinks I should take my rather average skills to Twitch and see if anyone will watch me. Not a lot of women streaming their play, and certainly not in my age range, but I hesitate because I prefer written words to spoken, and I am dubious about my own appeal.

And I don’t do PvP, which is what most Destiny folks like to watch, nor do I care enough about the gear and loot to cater to those who nerd out on the minutia aspects of games.

PvP is virtual mortal combat against complete strangers for imaginary rewards. A person might think this would appeal to a gal who really loves online life but no. Virtually killing strangers for no particularly good reason or, in my case, being fake murdered by strangers, who then dance – and … other … things – all over my virtual corpse is not appealing.

But husband believes that my rambling commentary would suffice, but again, I am doubtful. Plus I swear. A lot. Even more than I do on Twitter.

I share all this only because I am going to rewrite a review of the latest version of the game, Destiny 2. Mostly because the whining about it has annoyed me. And I probably will record and share my gameplay at least once just to see if it is less horrible than I think it will be. So I wanted to provide a bit of background beforehand.

To sum up, old woman games and has opinions about it that she will sharing from time to time in the future. That is all.


Most everyone I know has their Christmas decorations festively strewn about their homes. Trees are up and properly adorned and the real keeners have wrapped gifts underneath.

Me? Well, I have discussed this before, my disinclination to housewifery. Decor, holiday or otherwise, definitely falls under the heading “drudgery” and I really have to work myself up to it.

This year, I am nowhere close to the loin girding necessary to clean up the spaces needed for holiday phoofery.

The problem, as I see it, is that most people look at the packed boxes of lights, ornaments and other sparkly things and they can see it on the tree, walls, shelves and every other nook and cranny. Happily they dig in. Carefully they create the festive setting. And it’s weeks later when the holidays have passed that they look around and realize that it all must be taken down and packed away again for another year.

I look at packed boxes and think “Christ, I am just going to have to repack this in a few weeks”.

I’ve been threatening my family for a couple of weeks now with “we’re going to gather around a string of lights, take presents out of plastic sacks and eat pizza” for Christmas. The teen is pretty horrified by the prospect but not so much that she is offering up her services as a decorator and so far, my husband’s protestations have been weak and unconvincing.

Christmases past, I have hinted at simply running away for the holidays but even that requires effort that I am not certain the holidays warrant anymore.

It’s not that I don’t love holidays.

The music is jolly and there is eggnog.

The teen is off from school so there are no lunches to pack or chauffeuring to do.

We sleep in. Binge on Netflix or wile away the hours with new books and gaming.

It’s not all bleak with obligation and work but what there is of that has become … un-fun.

The past few years have witnessed a steady decline in decorations and baking. Minimalist has become my middle name and not just during the holidays.

Today, I need to start excavating the living room. Reclaim the spaces devastated by never-ending reno projects and recent episodes of influenza. My preference is leaning toward stuffing garbage bags and just taking things to the dump but that’s probably overreacting. Right?

Making Christmas is not something I’ve spent much of my life doing. Until I moved to Canada, I packed up myself, and later myself and child, and drove to my parent’s. They made Christmas. My mom still does. But now it’s on me and I seriously can’t wait until circumstances allow me to offload this on one of my own kids, who aren’t exactly stepping up and volunteering at this point. And I don’t blame them.


I gave up on The Walking Dead a while ago, but I confess to still keeping up a bit via YouTube clips and recaps from various internet sources.

I was curious to see how they would handle the Negan thing. He is the kind of villain who sucks the oxygen out of a story-line because he’s so over the top evil, and it makes almost no sense at all that someone hasn’t killed him long before Rick and company ran afoul of him.

In a post-apocalyptic world with no rules, and virtually limitless places to retreat to, a guy like this would have met his end long ago.  You have to perform some serious disbelief suspending to believe in a world where this guy wasn’t bludgeoned to death as he slept, but in the lucrative world of serial television (and comic books because he’s still alive there too), he gets to overstay his welcome because lazy tale telling and profits overlap more than they should.

The reason I gave up on The Walking Dead though was once again starkly portrayed in it’s mid-season 8 finale.

Good seldom ever wins nor is it rewarded. The show’s main message is, and continues to be, that only the extremely violent use force will save people. Community is coerced. Decent people are subjugated. And acts of kindness and caring about humanity for its own sake will get you or your loved ones killed.

Great lessons that remarkably predate the era of Trump and the resurgence of Nazis.

Last night Carl, the teenage son of the main protagonist, Rick Grimes,  revealed at the end of episode that he’d been bitten by a walker (zombie) in the previous episode as he tried to help a stranger. The stranger in question, it turns out, is a member of the group led by the evil Negan, reinforcing the show’s main theme – being a good person means eventually being a dead one.

The young man joins other characters, whose kindness and general interest in rebuilding on the ashes of society, has earned them similar death sentences.

But it is hope that is the eternal victim in the land of The Walking Dead. Nothing and nobody is allowed to nurture ideas of a better life for long.

This isn’t the best message in the best of times, and North America is not enjoying the best of times right now, but violence and the idea that might and brutality are the only answer to every question is recycled in every conceivable way by this show, and last night’s snuffing of Carl is just one more example.

I saw a tweet today that summed up what should’ve happened. It said “Eugene should have died. Eugene should have fucking died.”

And it was right.

Eugene is a weaselly, self-serving cunt of a man. But his continued existence validates his loathsome choices, which have been largely selfish and treacherous despite the fleeting moments of self-awareness and contrition that were ultimately self-interested too.

Eugene surviving while Carl doesn’t reminds the viewer that being a good person has no reward while being a rat-bastard earns you material comforts.

And that, in a nutshell, is why The Walking Dead isn’t worth serious attention anymore. Even it’s heroes, Rick, Daryl and Maggie are relativists, who take life with as little thought as their big bad rival, Negan, does.

I haven’t watched Fear the Walking Dead since it’s first season but have seen a few clips here and there. Same thing. Good equals dead. Morally challenged or vacuous equals … hero or villain because they are interchangeable.

Having just finished bingeing on Stranger Things, I am struck by the difference in world views in two shows that both deal on the edges of societal failure but approach the human component quite differently.

And they approach outcomes differently too. The Walking Dead has given up. There is no hope. There is no tomorrow. Nothing to fight because the fight is all there is. That’s just depressing. And it’s a tedious tale.

So R.I.P, Carl. You were always a goner. Like Beth. Like Glenn and Sasha and Tyrone and Herschel. Like hope.