Monday, April 26, 2010


(I've been away from my Blog lately---so sorry. Detailed renovations, heavy yard work in Spring, and a delightful, unexpected family news which has rendered me a bit giddy.)

OK. Coles in the Sydney Shopping Center is now closed! That's NOT good. I have to TALK to Heather Reisman about this, but first I must explain the situation. In all Cape Breton we only have(had) TWO bookstores, and they are both Coles. One is in the Mayflower Mall, and one USE to be in the Shopping Center. They are doing extensive renovations to the Shopping Center and Coles announced it was closing for good. I'm upset---so are quite a lot of people around this fair Isle. I'm really upset because of the following:

For years I have been trying to get the ear of Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo/Chapters, to listen to me. This is what I was saying: Heather buddy, I'm no business man, BUT I think it would be a capital (pun on that word) idea to close both Coles stores and build a Chapters on Spar Road next to the WallyMart. Employ all the people there from the closed Coles. It would be an excellent addition to our thriving economy, and provide easy access to books for children and us old folks. in short it would be a really good thing to do. I've been saying that for years now, sending emails to her, blogged it one time, letters to the paper, and to anyone who is in ear shot. But to no avail. Heather. She doesn't answer. And then this happened:

When my wife and I were in Halifax this past month, I heard that there's going to be a new Chapters built at Dartmouth Crossing. Now, that would make THREE(3) Chapters in the Halifax/Dartmouth area---hardly fair. To add to this unsettling news, I found out that Coles is closed in the Shopping Center! Any visions of a Chapters here are fading quick. Good grief. This is bad news indeed.

I don't know Heather Reisman personally, but I'm beginning to believe that she is a mean person with no regard for Cape Breton. Hey, we're nice people, and we read books too, well, some of us...a lot of us.

You can order books on line though, and get them here within a week. From Chapters. But I like better (Hear that Heather?!) But still it's not the same as perusing the aisles of clean, new, first editions in a well lighted store.
I'll say no more about this.

The second topic I wish to discuss is this: I(we) have about ten boxes filled with books sitting in the basement(recroom) with a stern order from my wife to turf them. They've been sitting there for a while now. But I've done this before, many times over the years. I've just given them to the library---CBU library, and the Regional. Sending clean, like-new, first editions to the library is akin to putting your favourite star-gazer lily in the compost. Ugh. But I've done it. But I'm not going to do it this time, and don't really know what to do with them. It would be nice to get some money for them, but that's not going to happen, I'm sure. I rarely make money on anything. During a Yard Sale one year, I was giving things away with a buy one get two logo. My wife told me it would be better overall if I just went inside the house during the sale. She tried to remind me that the reason for Yard Sales was to make money. Oh.

I actually don't mind sending the books on their way. I'm not a hoarder, and after awhile they begin to stack up. And my wife is such a clean and tidy person that if anythings lays about for a few hours unattended, she'll sweep it away out of sight to places you'll never think of looking. She's French Acadian, you see, and if you know anything about French Acadians you'll know that they are super clean. You'll be hard pressed to find a dirty house in Cheticamp. They also have that French temper, shhhh, we won't talk about that.

So. I still don't know what I'll do with those books. Maybe I'll send them to Heather! Yes! Good idea. She could send them on to one of the THREE(3)Chapters in Halifax. Oh brother.

Next: New novels just out.

Friday, April 9, 2010


When teaching Literature to my High School students, I would always try to explain the difference between Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. They never really got it, and it always surprised me---I don't know why I was surprised. So I'm going to reprise my efforts here---just for fun.

It goes like this: Science Fiction novels always adhere to some form of Laws of Physics, either real or imagined. That means characters cannot perform their duties or exploits without a set of laws to guide them. These laws are either really governed by physics or they are made up to seem so. Example would be the Teleporter in Star Trek. The Teleporter is a machine that breaks the body down into all the essential elements, transports these elements at lightning speed to a pre-set coordinate, and reassembles the body back to what it is. It's cool, it's made up(doesn't exist in our reality), and I wouldn't go in it for Captain Kirk's hair.

I like Star Trek. I watched all the episodes way back in the 70's when it was rehashed for TV. I always worried about the Teleporter, and wondered how it worked. But in many episodes this darn machine was always malfunctioning. Scottie: "Captn, I canna beam ye up! The anti-matter facilitator is reacting with the sub-fusiliar causing gamma rays influction....." Oh good Lord, That's bad, right? That anti-matter facilitator is ALWAYS acting up! Good God! Who made it? Mattel? Then Scottie would run around with a Canadian Tire wrench in his hands to fix the damn thing before it blows up the ship and leaves Jim stranded on that hostile planet. This is good stuff, and I forgot my point. Hang on, I'll read my opening paragraph.

Oh yes. Well, this whole thing about the Teleporter is contingent on laws of physics and working parts, even though it isn't real. In other words, this story is based on science- real or imagined. Star wars is good, also, although you tend to cringe at the dialogue. The first three episode of Star wars only. Oh! Alien with S. Weaver is absolutely great. There you have a combination of Sci-Fi and Horror. Didn't we all jump when that thing came out of John Hurt's chest? I never saw him the same since. It seems every Space movie made today has at the very least one scene stolen from Alien. I'm off track again.

OK. Fantasy. You see, when you go into a bookstore, you will see that they divided these sections---Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Other bookstores put them together. In Fantasy there are no set laws to confine the characters, yet there are usually set behaviours. Example are standing in your backyard, you sprout wings right out of your back, take to the air, and fly to Halifax to get some home-made fries from that old bus parked on Spring Garden Road in front of the old Library. Those fries are the best in the world, by the way. The grease they use is so old, and so used, it carries the best taste ever. On a hot summer's day, everybody hangs around the old Library with its stone fence and trodden lawn to sip pop, eat those fries, and taste their equally good hot dog smothered in relish and onions. Mmmmm. When you sit there, you can watch that scrubby statue of Winston Churchill where the pigeons like to stand on his head and shoulders. I often look at Churchill. He's quite determined looking in his statue stature. He looks as if he desperately wants to break free, and head for the bus to get some fries. Poor man.
I like Halifax a lot. It's not like a major city really. It's like a big bunch of people coming together to shop and hang out and eat famous delicious fries.

I think I digressed---again.

OK. Fantasy is...ahh...Peter Pan. You know, of course, that Peter Pan is an allegory. You know, Peter Pan the man who never grows up but embraces life in all its forms. Wendy the sensible, down-to-earth woman who likes to throw a wet blanket on everything. I like Tinkerbell, the mischievous, delightful sprite who reminds me of Puck in Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. (Hang on, I'm trying to stay on topic here)

To sum up, Fantasy is just that: flights of fancy where anything and everything is possible, and not dependent on certain scientific laws. There done. Usually here my students are giving me that blank look, and I know they are all thinking about those fries, and how nice they would be right now.

I'm really not a avid reader of any of these genres. I remember reading A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND by Robert A. Heinlein way back when. I enjoyed it a lot. And of course, BRAVE NEW WORLD by A. Huxley. I remember my wife loved Zenna Henderson's ANYTHING BOX. And also the old novels by H.G. Wells, especially THE TIME MACHINE. But lately I have been reading Philip K. Dick novels. He's quite different, and quite delightful. I came to him after watching---and loving---BLADE RUNNER. That is an absolutely amazing, wonderful, and unusual movie. It has an aura of other worldly, and quiet resignation about it. Quite fascinating.

Anyway, I will revisit this topic in a future post.

Next: I have a bone to pick(My mother use to say that) with Heather Reisman. She's the CEO of Indigo/Chapters Books. She doesn't seem to be listening to me---just like my former students.