My Top Facts That Sound True But Actually Aren’t.

To tell the truth, I am completely full of shit. Do not make the mistake in thinking that I am a bad person because of this, it is really on the contrary. I am one of the few people out there who is honest about how full of shit I actually am.

I understand and accept this about myself so that instead of using my inclination for deception to sell you a steal-of-a-deal 2008 Kia Sorento that, “my manager is gonna be so pissed I’m giving it away for this low”, I channel my deceitful ways into my writing. A writer is essentially just a bullshit artist on paper, after all. I have met enough writers who write bullshit and see themselves as artists, anyway.

But enough of me passing off my flaws as strengths as if I’m in a job interview at Sherwin-Williams Paints that I showed up a half hour late and visibly hungover for. I want to talk about you. You are a nice person, but honestly, you’re a little boring. You know this and all of your friends now this. Your suspicions are all correct, your friends and family definitely do talk about you behind your back and none of it is good. I’m sorry I had to be the one to tell you, but we talk and they all agree with me. Your uncle has started gambling again too, by the way. Now, before you accept this and go back to watching Grey’s Anatomy and scrolling through NowThis articles like the dull, sad, creatively-bankrupt sack of shit that you are, just know that there is hope.

In the unlikely event that you get invited to a party, it’s integral to create the illusion that you are well-informed, clever, and funny. To do this, all you need to do is to tell fellow party-goers these essential facts to be rewarded with a slew of admiration and respect. Keep in mind that none of these facts are real, but the fact is it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is spit them out with conviction and you will be on your way to being the seemingly interesting person that every struggling Instagram influencer aspires to be.

Without further ado, here they are:

  • A mile is how fast a steamboat can travel in an hour.

 

  • Heineken was invented as a cheap cure to allow Dutch people to forget that they are Dutch.

 

  • The bass guitar was developed by the Christian Mentors Network as a means to allow their members to pursue music and retain sexual abstinence.

 

  • Curling is the only sport left that’s whites-only (I’m actually not sure if this one is fake or not, research it before you use it).

 

  • There is a law in Val Marie, SK that states a man can have sex with his cousin. But he can only do it once, and only if she’s, like, crazy hot.

 

  • Scientists have yet to answer whether men with mustaches develop foot fetishes or if men with foot fetishes prefer to grow mustaches.

 

  • Women evolved from birds.

 

  • Pornography started out as the first indie wrestling films during the 1920s and the genre just kind of got out of hand.

 

  • Morrisey has a part-time job as a collection agent working out of Rawlins, WY. He doesn’t need the money or anything, he just enjoys being a dick to poor people.

 

  • The Premier of Saskatchewan, Scott Moe, is a woman and she actually makes a decent broccoli casserole. Her husband, Darrin, is a pretty chill guy, too.

 

And there you have it. I doubt that you will handle these with dignity or grace, but if you can manage to sputter one of these out to another human being and not spittle Cheeto-dust and rancid breath on them, you might do OK. Until next time, always remember that it’s better to be full of shit than feel like shit.

-BD Charles.

 

 

 

Let Me See Your Fancy Steps: Story of a Métis Dance Caller: The Story of Jeanne Pelletier as Told to Sylvie Sara Roy and Wilfred Burton – A Book Review

“Let Me See Your Fancy Steps: Story of a Métis Dance Caller: The Story of Jeanne Pelletier as Told to Slyvie Sara Roy and Wilfred Burton”

by Jeanne Pelletier, Sylvie Sara Roy, and Wilfred Burton

Published by Gabriel Dumont Institute Press

Reviewed by B.D. Charles

C$25.00 ISBN: 9781926795898

“Let Me See Your Fancy Steps: Story of a Métis Dance Caller: The Story of Jeanne Pelletier as Told to Sylvie Sara Roy and Wilfred Burton”, is the story of Jeanne Pelletier as told by Sylvie Sara Roy and Wilfred Burton, published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute Press. Throughout the course of this book, the reader learns that Jeanne Pelletier is an accomplished Métis woman and a revered member of the Métis community in southern Saskatchewan. Roy and Burton begin Jeanne’s story by highlighting the fact that she began her career as the first female Métis Jig dance caller in the 1970s, a time in which the dance callers were exclusively men and the community was difficult for women to traverse. Roy brilliantly showcases the life experiences and work of Jeanne’s career and rise as a prominent dance caller and Métis educator in Saskatchewan. The book recounts Jeanne’s experiences of reviving the Métis dance to the children in her community and by extension other Métis values such as community, culture, and respect. The book also acts as a vehicle for Jeanne to tell her story and pass on some of the knowledge that she has gained through her career.

The recounting of Jeanne’s work is supplemented throughout the book by testimonials of her former dance students and community members, all of whom praise the dance caller for the substantial impact that she’s had both on their personal lives, as well as the academic and social climates of the Métis community in Saskatchewan. As a Métis myself, I feel lost at times, as if my culture is fuzzy or foreign to me. Reading the life experiences, knowledge, and not to mention the wealth of Métis Jig steps found in this book gave me an overwhelming sense of peace to see research of this caliber and this level of care being invested in my culture. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Métis culture and the significance that the jig has to the culture. Anyone who has seen the Métis Jig performed live knows that it is a beautiful and awe-inspiring dance, but after reading Jeanne’s explanations of the cultural significance of the dances, I will now appreciate the dance that much more as a story and celebration of my culture. It is also worth mentioning that entire dance sequences are written out to follow with Jeanne’s notes, and the book includes an instructional DVD.

I had heard recently from an older Métis gentleman that the Métis community in Saskatchewan is somewhat dormant but works as recent as this and of this quality are direct evidence of the contrary. The Métis community is alive and well, this opportunity to learn more about my culture filled me with an abundance of belonging and pride.  I am not sure of all the ways that I can thank the incredibly talented team that went into the creation of this cultural gem, but I can start with, “Miigwetch et merci”.

 

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

Time To Write

Time to write,
after a shower and a bite.

But then again,
I should first clean my den.

Ok, that’s done.
I have to sit down, write a ton.

But wait,
I got time to masturbate.

Sorry for the TMI,
I really shouldn’t – I gotta write my “Life of Pi”.

Is that movie on Youtube?
I better be sure, I best not assume.

Enough dicking around.
Time to sit down.

I have my tea, I have the motivation.
I have to check my 6 New Notifications.

Is there no one who can see my plight?
When will I ever find time to write?

Soapbox Stories Presents: Second Cousin Once Removed – A Book Review

“Second Cousin Once Removed”
by Bryna Barclay
Published by Burton House Books
Reviewed by Ben Charles
C$20.00
ISBN: 9780994866943

“Second Cousin Once Removed”, written by Byrna Barclay and published by Burton House Books is an incredibly graceful read and a testament to the pure talent of this Saskatchewan author. The novel is a sequel to “House of the White Elephant”, which in itself was a critically acclaimed novel and the winner of the Whistler/Tidewater Award for Best Fiction in 2016. My estimate is that the sequel will draw equal acclaim, as it is a masterfully written historical fiction brimming with Saskatchewan culture, driven by an intelligent plot and an engrossing narrative.

The story follows Jesse Emma Burtonwood, a woman of East Indian descent living in Prince Albert, SK, and is in the midst of mourning the loss of her husband. The story begins in 1953 and follows Jesse as she traverses life in Canada, and forms a relationship with John George Diefenbaker during this tumultuous time in both her life and in Canadian politics. Much of the story also follows Jesse’s granddaughter, Annika Robin, a woman living in Saskatoon, SK. Throughout the story, Barclay masterfully crafts both of these characters in such a way that is wonderfully unique, yet easy to follow. As Jesse and Annika face challenges such as prejudices commonly held in Canada during the time period and constrictive traditions for women living in a new era, the reader can vividly feel their frustrations, emotions, and insecurities in a tangible way. That is not to say that Barclay’s novel is doom and gloom, as the book has a rather eccentric tone, it reminded me of “Still Life with Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins in some places.  At other times, it felt as if I were reading soulful poetry or song lyrics during the course of this novel. This held especially true in my mind during the segments in which Annika and her distant lover exchange letters, not only were the letters exquisitely written, but the narratives that unfold from them tell a story within themselves.

Not only is this novel a perfect guide to how descriptive writing should be done but is also a total time capsule of the period that it is set in. If you or someone that you know is a fan of Saskatchewan history or culture, I would argue that this book is worth the read just for that aspect alone. Everything from the locations and careers of the characters to the brands and even some of the slang are used naturally in this novel. The references all feel like they belong in the plot, and not as if they are shoehorned in just for the sake of having them.

In conclusion, Bryna Barclay proves once again why she is the acclaimed Saskatchewan author that she is. Jesse Emma and Annika Robin are complete delights as characters, crafted in the rarity that is such a unique story built in a familiar setting. This novel is truly a work of art.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

“The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution” (A Book Review)

“The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution”
by Ann Travers
Published by University of Regina Press
Reviewed by Ben Charles
C$24.95 ISBN: 9780889775787

“The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution”, written by Ann Travers and published by the University of Regina Press is an honest and enlightening review of the trials and struggles of growing up transgender in North America. The experiences contained in this book were gathered by a series of interviews with transgender kids and youth (individuals from a wide variety of ages, from 4 to 18) and the parents of trans kids in Canada and the United States between the years of 2012 to 2017.

As someone who is not transgender and knows relatively little about experiences of transgender people, I found this book to be an incredibly informative experience. This was in no small part due to Travers’ insane attention to detail and the obvious meticulousness that they poured into their research. Literature that is academic in nature has a tendency to be a little dry, somewhat hard to follow and littered with jargon. However, I did not find this to be the case with Travers’ work. In fact, I found it to be passionate, moving, and an intelligent review of the human condition. It is clear that Travers does not view their work as “a deliverable” or is driven by the self-back-patting ego that plagues the academic climate. The quality and quantity of the research, the commitment to ensure that the participants’ experiences are portrayed in an accurate manner, and the conviction embedded in the writing were all indicators to me of an author taking their work seriously, and with a great amount of respect.

The interviews contained in the book are dispersed and then utilized to provide a discourse on the experiences of either growing up transgender or raising a transgender child in five basic categories, these include transgender kids, schools, spaces, parents, and supportive healthcare. Of course, the information within is dissected and categorized further, and the result is a much-needed read for anyone who would like to understand the experiences of trans youth and the impact of socially enforced gender norms. Personally, I found Travers’ research on transgender youth in sport to be the most interesting segment of the book but can say with confidence that it is far more accessible than I had thought it would be. There is something for everyone to learn from and to be enthralled by.

I can admit that I will never fully understand the experiences of transgender people, and I realize that their challenges are significantly different from my own. However, thanks to all of the participants of this book, and to Travers’ excellent work representing them, I am much more educated on the topic than I have ever been before. Where I was expecting academic gender studies buzzwords, I found a gripping and seriously clever review of gender norms, politics, mental health, and much more. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to understand gender better but does not know where to even begin.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

“The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics” (A Book Review)

“The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics”
by Donna Lindskog
Published by Benchmark Press
Reviewed by Ben Charles
C$20.00 ISBN: 9781927352373

“The More Things Change: A Case Study to Introduce Information Technology Ethics”, written by Donna Lindskog is a thought invoking exercise in technology ethics that manages to also be an entertaining experience along the way. The story follows Carol McIsaac, a brand new employee of MTS, working as a programmer analyst. Set in 1979, Carol and her friends, Jeremey and Susan, transverse the new world of technology using keypunch machines to write code. Although the technology used throughout this story is archaic by today’s standards, the ethical dilemmas found within are very much relevant to today’s professional and technological climates. The issues that Carol faces include plagiarism, fraud, sexual harassment, racism, basic incompetence, and a plethora of other debatable ethical dilemmas. The book also provides a detailed appendix of all the information that an IT enthusiast needs in order to act ethically and responsibly in a professional setting. This includes a Code of Ethics, generously provided by the Canadian Association of Information Technology Professionals (CIPS).

In our world of net neutrality, Russian bots, micro-transactions, deleted emails, and private information being stolen by social media conglomerates, the topic of information and technology ethics has never been more relevant than it is right now. Lindskog’s fabulous case studies invoke the reader to truly reflect on the ethical use of technology, data, and information in a professional setting, and arguably for personal use, as well. The case studies in this book are separated into 11 chapters that each explores different ethical topics but also come together to form a cohesive, entertaining plot. Throughout the story, the reader can see how the choices of the characters and the company lead to somewhat catastrophic results. The book also provides discussion questions for each chapter at the end of the book. I must admit, these discussion questions brought me back to review each chapter a few times, as I had completely missed some of the questionable actions or decisions made by the characters. It made me think, “If it is that easy to overlook unethical practices in a case study written exclusively about ethics, what am I missing in my day-to-day life?”

I would highly suggest this piece to anyone with an interest in computers, technology, and information, as well as to employers to utilize as a useful training resource for their IT professionals. Lindskog’s extensive background in IT, and her passion for the field truly shines through in this document. Before reading this piece, I never knew that it was possible to smile and think about the difference between acting ethically and acting professionally at the same time.

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

King Can

Kickin’ back with a King Can

of Black Ice.

Everything’s gon’ be alright.

Half a pack of Player’s Red
and the liquor store is open ’til ten.

You call me a feral man,
a leech to society.
But you don’t gotta put nothin’ in my outstretched hand,
so I prefer the word, “free”.

Who the Hell is “Daryl Lect”?
Who the Hell did we elect?
That would let us freeze without Tundra Ice?

Who the Hell asked for your advice?

“Get a job”?
Thanks. I haven’t thought of that!
I can instantly snap out of this,
all it takes to go from slob to snob,
in no time flat!

Winter Is Coming,
and I’m on the 5th season in Game of Loans.
I miss my daughter.
The girl needs her father.
But I’m just kickin’ back
with my King Can of Black
The King without a Queen or a Castle,
dying on his concrete throne.

You call me a bum,
a scourge, a disease.
You don’t put nothin’ in my outstretched hand.
You snarl, you bite, you fit me into God’s plan.

But I smile,
and say, “God Bless”.
You’ve walked an inch as I’ve walked a mile,
but you still win the race, delusional in determination, but I digress.

I may be a chaotic, wild mess.
I may not know the real me.
I still am a brother, a father- just forgotten and seen as less.
I am cold and I cry, but even eye contact is denied.
Let alone a helping hand, I close my outstretched hand.
But have not lost my way, I am not blind I still see
The turned backs of my fellow man deserve dignity.