Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author Brad OH Inc.  


 

Once again, the Edmonton Writers’ Group is proud to present an anthology of stories by its members. ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve local authors, unified only by the common theme of their current hometown, Edmonton, AB.

Ranging from simple domestic interactions to futuristic sci-fi adventures, to deep psychological introspections, these stories take a look at Edmonton from viewpoints as different as the writers themselves. This anthology is a love letter to our hometown and demonstrates our incredibly varied approaches to literature, and to life.

As a gesture of our gratitude, all proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Edmonton Public Library, which has been gracious enough to host our humble group at the Capilano branch for over a decade and a half.

To celebrate this release, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, Brad OH Inc.

1. Freedom is important to Jeremy. What do you feel limits your freedom (as a writer or in life) and how do you resolve that?

Brad OH Inc.: The first thing that comes to mind would simply be time. There never does seem to be enough of it, does there? I try to juggle a lot of different projects in my off-time, and it can be tricky to maintain the right balance, but I think I’ve managed alright. This publication was a lot of hard work, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and all of the authors should be proud of their contributions.

2.  Was there a time when you were able to see through another person’s eyes like Jeremy wanted to do in your story?

Brad OH Inc.: Through my background in Psychology, I’ve done a lot of work where empathy is certainly important. I hope that I manage to bring that into my daily life as well, I think it’s an important thing to be able to consider the perspectives of others. I imagine the world would be a more pleasant place if everyone made a conscious effort to do so.

3. Jeremy really didn’t like Lucky Lager. What beverage would you recommend to quench one’s thirst or to prepare a person for a writing session?

Brad OH Inc.: That’s a fantastic question! It really depends on how deep into the writing you want to get, but my two recommendations would be Big Rock’s Traditional Ale, or Jameson Whiskey (neat). Happy writing!

4. Is there a time and place where you felt like you had entered a completely new world?

Brad OH Inc.: In my story, “A Good Place for a Miller”, Jeremy is eager to go to “The Gathering of the Juggalos”. I was fortunate enough to attend that event when I was Jeremy’s age, and twice since. Those events definitely feel like another world, and I’ve had many fantastic memories made there.

5. Congratulations on the pending publication of your debut novel, “Edgar’s Worst Sunday”. Can you share a brief synopsis of the book?

Brad OH Inc.: Thanks! I’d be happy to share a brief tease of “Edgar’s Worst Sunday”!

In life, Edgar Vincent always maintained one great passion—himself. A semi-successful composer, his rock star lifestyle suited him well, and his narcissistic outlook ensured he was a man with few concerns. Callous comments, thoughtless promiscuity, binge drinking, and excess sufficient to shame Caligula were standard Saturday night fare.

Sundays for Edgar had always been a painful haze of sickness and regret.

So when Edgar finds himself in the cloudy planes of the afterlife on one particularly bleak Sunday morning, he determines that in order to find peace, he must put aside his ever-present hangover and try to figure out how he got to this point…and where he’s meant to be going now. But as Edgar makes his way through this surreal spiritual realm, he realizes that facing his death is hardly as difficult as facing himself.

Heaven, however, presents Edgar with an unending smorgasbord of hedonistic delights, so he’s in no particular hurry to change his self-serving ways. After all, considering he’s already dead, what more could he possibly stand to lose?

Brad OH Inc.’s story, “A Good Place for a Miller”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.com. Stay tuned here for interviews with the rest of the authors in the anthology, and information on promotional events.

-Brad OH Inc.

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An Evening Of Orchestral Music


You know me, I‘ll try new things so long as they don’t involve me in actually doing very much.  Why only last year, I had my first frozen yoghurt.  So when my daughter invited me to an evening of orchestral music, I was up for it.

 

We parked at the downtown library for our trip to the Citadel Theatre.  As there was a hockey game on that evening, I was worried we wouldn’t find a parking place.  In the end, there was plenty of space way down in the bowels of the parking lot.  I have been through the Channel Tunnel and I have visited the Blue John mines of Derbyshire back when you lit your way with a candle and a pan lid.  I have never been so far underground as I was on this occasion.

 

As we took our seats, I notice that most people were gussied up or in some sort of uniform from a science fiction film.  It was then I realised that we were about to hear music from the Star Wars series of movies.  All dressed in black, the band came out two by two just like the E Street Band.  Would they play for three hours?  I asked myself.

 

You may have heard of the band, they are The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.  Perhaps best known as one hit wonders for playing on Procol Harem’s ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale.’  I think there have been a few personnel changes since then.  The music they played was written by John Williams who you may remember for writing the music for the TV show ‘Gilligan’s Island.’  Oh my, the guy certainly writes some catchy riffs, even if the overall tone is a little pretentious.

 

Less than 90 minutes later the show was over.  All in all, it was not a bad evening out, especially as someone else paid.

 

Effective Letterwriting


Effective Letter Writing

Is there something that really gets up your nose, something that needs changing in our broader world?  Quite probably, but what can you do?  One option would be to write a letter to a politician.  Here, my guest, Fred Douglas, lays out a few tips he uses when promoting the interesting idea of a ‘Basic Income.’  So pick up your Parker and give it a go.

letter-writer

“The primary source of evil is inequality.”  –Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Write an Effective Letter for Your Cause
by 
Fred Douglas, Member, Basic Income Edmonton

The cause here is the assured or universal basic income; it is a solution to the evil of gross income inequality in Canada. A guaranteed, decent annual income would provide a measure of income security for those trying to live on too-low incomes in this country of astounding abundance. Information is included for those who want to know exactly what a basic income is, and for those who want to know more about it. However, if you have a different social cause or concern, the following points can be used to suit your purpose. Take what you want.

1. A good letter is a simple letter–one that covers the essentials. A focused letter can have an impact, especially if it contains a new interpretation of the injustice, or highlights critical aspects of it. The letter goes to your elected public servants, the ones charged with governing for the public good.

2. Important decisions are made at the very top of the governing pyramid. So, the original letter should go to the highest authority in the land, namely the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, PC, MP. His address is: House of Commons, Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6. Letters to federal politicians are postage-free, and good ones are often passed on to colleagues and other officials.

3. A one-page letter, preferably handwritten, is best. Handwriting is better than e-mail because it attracts attention. Form letters and postcards are not effective. You are trying to get an original reply and not a form letter response.

4. The first paragraph should identify your purpose in writing. It should be a clear, concise statement of your position on income inequality. Inequality will become a big political issue when the authorities accept the reality of this “evil.” Putting “Income Inequality in Canada” in a search box yielded the websites below–and the necessity of doing something about it.

A. http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/income_inequality
B. http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/income-inequality-equation-in-canada-whos-gaining-whos-lagging-and-why

5. Be polite. Snide and overly critical comments only weaken your stance. Use a personal tone and deal with your main concern first in the letter. Mention any personal experience or expertise you have.

6. Write why you feel the way you do. If applicable, tell about your personal situation/experience living on a low income, and also provide a reason or reasons for your big-picture position. Give an example of how you personally may be affected.

7. Subtle flattery helps. Tell the politician that you are sure that s/he knows about his/her duty to the sovereign public. Refer to previous statements that the addressee has made, or government approaches, if any, with which you agree. (See websites in no. 7 below.)

8. In your conclusion, be direct and precise about what you want. Recommend that government(s) institute a policy of significant equality by way of an assured annual income. Ask for a reply. Request a meeting with a high government official to discuss the subject in more detail.

9. A copy of your letter should go to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. This is the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, PC, MP at: House of Commons, Wellington St, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6. When the ball gets rolling on a guaranteed basic income initiative, he will be the first minister to be involved. For current government thinking on a basic income see:

C. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/guaranteed-income-has-merit-as-a-national-policy-minister-says/article28588670/
and
D. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/02/11/the-stage-is-now-set-for-a-basic-income-for-all.html

10. Keep influential others in the loop. Copy opposition political party leaders, your MP, Premier, MLA and Mayor. Find the addresses of these by putting their names into a search box. Get the names of their key staffers for correspondence and for follow-up. Ask them to arrange a meeting with the highest government official available with whom you can discuss the issue in person.

11. The proper salutations are: “Dear Prime Minister Trudeau” and “Dear Minister Duclos.” Mail or fax your letter to them. Copy the various media.

NB: Real democracy is what people do and not who they watch. When you do something big or small for a cause, you will no longer feel so overwhelmed and useless in a heartless system. You’ll feel empowered and find meaning. And, your friends will be impressed/inspired. (Your group could also make a letter, and have it signed by each member before mailing it.)

More Resources: New Internationalist magazine reports on the Universal Basic Income:

E. https://newint.org/sections/argument/2014/04/01/should-there-be-a-basic-income/
F. https://newint.org/blog/2016/06/07/universal-basic-income-an-idea-to-embrace/

A Touchy Duchy


If you want real confusion, cross the pond to listen to our English friends. They are very big on systems, the English. Take their spelling, for example. They have a wonderful set of rules to help you spell a whole variety of words. Then they have exceptions, so many that the rules they set up in the first place are pretty much meaningless.

Alternatively, take the road numbering system which neatly divides the map of England into convenient pie slices. In theory, if you know what number the road begins with you can tell which slice of pie you are in. In practice, of course, this is a nonsense. Roads wiggle their way across two or three segments. So many roads cross from one pie slice to another that the system can be thought of as not a system at all.

Or take the word ‘county’. It is used in the USA and in Canada with little confusion, but in the UK the word has all sorts of nuances. There are a few different kinds of counties starting with the historic ones that go way back in history. Most of these are still around although some have been chopped around a bit or exist only as folk memories. Huntingdonshire got sucked into Cambridgeshire over 40 years ago, but people will still proudly tell you they live there. Middlesex hasn’t been a county since the mid 60’s yet you can get an education at Middlesex University. There is also a Middlesex County Cricket Club. It’s all rather bizarre.

That’s not the end of it, though. There are also administrative counties such as Cleveland. Rutland disappeared in the 1970s but re-emerged in the 1990s. The post office, Royal Mail, has a mind all of its own. It uses pretty much the same county names, but the boundaries are different. In short a map of postal counties does not coincide with any other form of a county.

In Canada, we have Lieutenant Governors whenever we need someone to wear a sash and a jacket with shiny buttons. A similar function is performed by a Lord Lieutenant in England. These popinjays represent ceremonial areas, which of course don’t coincide with any other system of counties.

Finally, that brings us to Cornwall. That’s the bit in the south-west corner of England that points out over the sea vaguely towards the Caribbean. Don’t ever call Cornwall a county because the Cornish gets more than a bit peeved. It’s not really a county at all, it’s a Duchy; a touchy Duchy, in fact.

I am indebted to Bill Bryson for inspiration, information and much more.  Please do the Google thing, I think it will be well worth the effort.

Boaty McBoatface


I have had not much more than a cup of coffee in Britain for the past twenty years so I don’t usually comment on anything happening there.  If you are looking for insightful thoughts on whether Britain should stay in the European Union, I am the wrong guy.  I have nothing to say on the Prime Minister’s connection to the so-called Panama Papers.  I am even going to remain silent on the rise of Leicester City.  

 

The problem is I just can’t resist the Boaty McBoatface story.  In case you missed it, the British Government held an online poll complete with a ‘write-in’ option to pick a name for a new polar research vessel.  When the poll closed, the winning name was Boaty McBoatface.  Previous vessels have been named after explorers and many expected the latest to honour Ernest Shackleton.

So now the Government has a dilemma.  Does it ignore the apparent will of the people or does it accept the name chosen in the poll?  Already the proposed name has generated a lot of interest and I am in favour of anything that gets people thinking about science, the arts or anything for that matter.

 

I say call the ship Boaty McBoatface.  Just think of the opportunities.  It could well become the most famous vessel since the Titanic.  I can imagine Lego construction kits, soft toys, computer games, cartoons, souvenir tee shirts and all manner of other merchandise.  Whenever it is in port, I envision tourists lining up to take selfies alongside and buy themed coffee mugs from a nearby store.

 

The British should market the heck out of this opportunity and the Boaty McBoatface will likely become the most profitable research ship in history.

 

Food For Thought


The meaning of words has been bothering me lately.  To be more accurate, I mean the usage of words.

For example, I used to understand the words ‘restaurant’ and ‘cafe’ or I thought I did.  Now I have no idea.  In a cafe, I went to a counter and asked for my meal from a menu written on a blackboard.  Whatever I ordered, it came with a mug of tea.  I would then put my meal and drink on a tray and take it to a table covered with a red checkered vinyl tablecloth.  Each of the four chairs at the table would rock to different degrees.  On the table would be a sugar bowl and a selection of condiments.  Salt and pepper, of course, would sit next to malt vinegar and sauce, one bottle of each, red and brown.

Restaurants are less familiar, but I do remember being served at a table.  A waiter or waitress would come over and take my order and at the end of the meal would clear the table and give me a bill.

Then along came a fast food outlet marked by a pair of giant yellow arches.  The chain describes each venue as a ‘restaurant,’  yet there is no table service or any service at all that I can discern.   In the past, you would go to counter to  order your food and then hang around looking lost until a 17-year-old shouted out your order.  Now you have to line up at a machine to place your order and then line up again at the counter to get your burger.  

The rickety chairs have gone, but so too have the brightly coloured table cloths.  Worst of all, so have the condiments.  The restaurant knows just how much salt, or seasoning as it seems to be called these days, you want on your food.  It is just as bad in fine dining establishments or, at least, the only one I have visited.  No one trusts you to put salt on your food, certainly not chefs who insist on deciding for the poor punter just how salty their latest fusion concoction should be.

This brings me to ‘chefs’ and ‘cooks.’  A chef used to be quite a rare character.  He or she had been to college for three or four years and was well versed in classic cuisine.  A cook, on the other hand, learned the skills over a much longer period at the apron strings of an older relative, usually a mother or grandmother.  Chefs worked in restaurants and cooks worked in cafes.  Today the two words seem to be interchangeable.  In fact, I saw a reality show which labelled an eleven-year-old as a chef.

I guess the solution is to stay home and cook my own food.  At least, it will be my hand on the salt pot.