Am I Ugly?

Could gender dynamics be more sadly obvious?

Could gender dynamics be more sadly obvious?

Type “Am I Pretty or Ugly?” into any search engine and you will find hundreds of thousands of videos made by pre-teen girls. These youngsters—some of them seem about eight years old—shyly pose before a camera before hesitantly admitting that they have a question to ask. They simply do not know if they are attractive or not. Some kids at school say that they are cute, but others judge them more harshly. What is the truth of the matter? All of the girls in the videos I saw were wearing make-up and had their hair done. None of them was hideous, but all were vulnerable, asking for help in a way that made me want to cry, despairing at a world that could be so cruel to children.

I then tried to consider the videos in a more positive light. Continue reading

Imagining Freedom

Bags are unloaded directly onto the tarmac in Fort Chipewyan.

Bags are unloaded directly onto the tarmac in Fort Chipewyan.

We like to be free in this country

—Alexandre Laviolette, 1897, Chipewyan minor chief and negotiator of Treaty 8 at Fort Chipewyan

I am sitting on a tiny plane bound for Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, admiring the letter that Alexandre Laviolette wrote to the police authority in 1897, indicating that his people would not stand for any infringement on their hunting and fishing rights. “I think myself a man same as you, and I would not step back for your gun.” Continue reading

Cereal Wars: The Battle for Your Bowels

41g4Z9oudkLCereal wars were commonplace when I was a kid. Whoever shovelled crispy Corn Flakes into their gob the fastest got to eat the most. Don’t even ask what happened during those rare camping trips when my mother foolishly bought the variety pack of small cereal boxes that travelled well and could be ripped open to produce mini wax-lined bowls.  Continue reading

Sweat

front-new“What happened to you?” my mother asks, turning around to look at the dusty farmer now sitting beside me in the back seat of the blue Valiant. The man is hunched over and emitting small gasps of pain. Raising frightened eyes, he slowly unwinds a stained cloth to reveal his right hand. As the farmer starts to shake and sweat, I catch a glimpse of two severed fingers, covered in blood. I am surprised by how small they are. The man then gathers the stumps back into his handkerchief, and presses the injured parts to his chest. I am not quite six years old. Continue reading

End Times and the Paleo Diet

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It’s December 31, 2012, and time that I performed a dreaded chore which I have been putting off for 18 months now. “What the hell FFG?” my impassioned readers are shouting, at least in my mind. “We thought that you were an overachiever, a non-procrastinator. We don’t even know you anymore!” Wait, I can explain. After finishing Chapter Four of my book earlier today, then responding to e-mails, and starting to pack for my upcoming trip to New Orleans, I had finally expended enough energy to sit down and watch the DVD disks of the Northern Alberta Bodybuilding and Figure Championships in which I competed on June 4, 2011. One word sums up this viewing experience: Boring.  Continue reading