Gethsemane

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

In light of the season, a re-share of an old post.

Gethsemane

The green of the trees,

Had passed to grey,

In the deepening dark of night.

I stood waiting,

For you to show,

And knew I would not fight.

I’d seen it all,

What was to come,

We had our roles to play.

To bring it here,

To share those words,

Then sweep it all away.

For no act’s worth,

Is known until,

The final die is cast.

We’d built this house,

And raised it high,

But now to make it last.

The night was still,

The rest were calm,

When you came through the gate.

With fear and fire,

You kissed my lips,

And forever sealed our fate.

-Brad OH Inc.

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Interview with ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ Author M. Lea Kulmatycki

Today, the Edmonton Writers’ Group is happy to share that our new anthology, Edmonton: Unbound, is now available for purchase in the giftshop of the Muttart Conservatory.

But wait, there’s more! Author’s of Edmonton: Unbound will be at the ‘Poets and Writers Networking Event’ on April 6th from 6:00-9:00pm at the Strathcona Place Centre, 10831 University Ave, Edmonton, AB.

We’ll be there to network, sell, and even sign books. So be sure to stop by, enjoy the event, and grab a copy of Edmonton: Unbound if you haven’t managed to do so yet.

Edmonton: Unbound’ contains fourteen stories by twelve members of the Edmonton Writers’ Group.

They are 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.

Click the Image to buy ‘Edmonton: Unbound’

To celebrate the upcoming event, we have an interview with one of the ‘Edmonton: Unbound’ authors, and the creator of our cover art, M. Lea Kulmatycki.

1. What was your initial inspiration for the story you included in this anthology, and how the story changed from its original conception?

Lea Kulmatycki: My brother worked as a day camp leader one summer during high school. One of the most difficult aspects of his job was getting his little campers on and off the bus at the same time. I never had this problem because the day camp I worked at was within walking distance of many cool attractions. I didn’t feel I could create enough material with a bus ride, so I changed it to a streetcar and decided Cal’s group of day campers would visit the museum. I took my day campers often to the Provincial Museum and Archives of Alberta. The kids loved it.

2. What difficulties did you encounter while writing this story, other than finding the time to do it?

Lea Kulmatycki: The research involved. The museum moved from its original location and it was difficult to find the specific information I required to insure as much authenticity as possible.

3. What research did you do with regard to the story?

Lea Kulmatycki: While the story is historical “fiction”, I tried to represent the “history” as accurately as possible. There was a lot of research involved!

4. Are you writer that plots out all the different angles, or are you more free-form. Why do you think you write this way?

Lea Kulmatycki: I’m probably a mix between the two. I start with an idea and then I plan out the first chapter/part of the story. At the same time I’m mulling over the ending. Once I have these two pieces, I start writing and let the story take its course. I don’t even start to write a story if I don’t have a solid idea for these two parts. I spend an eternity working on the first chapter/part of a story. This is where I establish voice, organization, etc. Once I’m happy with the first chapter, the rest seems to flow.

5. What is your typical response to “writers’ block”?

Lea Kulmatycki: I’ve stopped worrying about it. Instead of sitting and looking at a blank page or writing to just write, I do something else. However, my mind is always focused on thinking of ways to iron out the particular problem that has me stumped. Teaching doesn’t leave me much time to write, so driving to and from school is also great time to work out story problems.

Lea Kulmatycki’s story, “So What Did I Do This Summer?”, is featured in ‘Edmonton: Unbound’, which you can purchase now on Amazon.

Remember to stop by and catch us at the ‘Poets and Writers Networking Event’ on April 6th from 6-9:00pm at the Strathcona Place Centre, 10831 University Ave, Edmonton, AB.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘The Ants Go Marching’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

Nursery Rhyme- ‘The Ants Go Marching’

Song Link

It’s been stormy lately. The clouds gathered, and held overlong, until they finally released. Now, the rains sweep the sidewalks and playgrounds, drenching and destroying all that they pass.

Before them, the young ones are driven to flee, to seek protection in places where it is their natural right to feel entirely protected.

The ants go marching one by one

Hurrah, hurrah

The ants go marching one by one

Hurrah, hurrah

Of course, a thing like that can be easy to ignore. They are only ants, after all. Ants, or children, or women, or elderly, or the lower class. None of them are of any account to the storm.

But lately, they’ve been learning to work together.

The ants go marching four by four

Hurrah, hurrah

The ants go marching four by four

Hurrah, hurrah

There are few things more repulsive than ants on the move. Acting as if they have a place to be, as if their opinions or lives are of comparable worth to the tides and the clouds—the immutable forces of nature.

So, the clouds appeal to virtue, and cry out their right to rain, to flood and wipe out what has been in the name of what they claim.

Their cries come as the thunderclap, yet their aspirations lay bare their false faith. But when these high-minded appeals are taken up by the ants, they ring the truer.

The ants go marching seven by seven

The little one stops to pray to heaven

And they all go marching down to the ground to get out of the rain

Boom boom boom

Then finally, the clouds have nothing more to say. They have spent their energy with no thought of others, and now they find themselves old and empty. Once dark and tall and terrible, they are wisps of their former selves, and no longer must the ants look to them to read their fate.

The clouds have been forgotten, and the deep burrowed dens of the ants have only served to bring them all together.

The rain waters evaporate, and the threat of the storm passes into a fresh, life-asserting calm.

The ants go marching ten by ten

Hurrah, hurrah

The ants go marching ten by ten

Hurrah, hurrah

The ants go marching ten by ten

The little one stops to shout, “The End!”

Will there finally be a rainbow?

*This article is dedicated to the youth across America—who stand now in defiance of those who would see them dead for a little more spending money. It is their will to defy their elders, to ignore entrenched ignorance and light a new way forward, that now represents the greatest hope for that once proud nation.

Never stop.

-Brad OH Inc.

On Misanthropy

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Misanthropy

[mis-an-thruh-pee, miz-]

noun

  1. hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind.

I’ve been accused of it before, and I can certainly see where the assumption might stem from. After all, I spend a fair bit of my time on this blog ranting about the failings, shortcomings, and general depravity that are the human condition.

In truth though, I really don’t consider myself a misanthrope. I’m seldom shocked by people’s endless travesties, nor occasional decencies. But the distrust part is probably fair—the endless flow of disappointment and decay witnessed on any social media or news channel should be enough to ingrain a deep-seated distrust of people in anyone paying even an iota of attention.

It’s the distrust though, and not the hatred or dislike, which serves as the base of any misanthropy I might exhibit. Maybe disappointment is the more accurate word. To me, the categories seem to border on mutually exclusive.

To hate or even dislike humankind, one would expect little of them, and demand even less. For me, it is the opposite.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I find myself harbouring an unshakeable love and optimism for humanity. I believe in our potential whole-heartedly, and am in awe to imagine the heights of virtue, justice, and wonder we could aspire to if only unburdened of our pride and avarice.

It is this hope for and faith in our potential which keeps my outlook on the dark side—my gestating joy clouded constantly by the disappointment of reality and our inability to rise above the pettiness and fearful indecency which has mired us in the same patterns our entire existence.

This dismal divide has been the guiding force behind most of my writing, and continues to be the driving factor behind many of my choices and actions. It is a subtle push, a shivering hope, that we may eventually see the day that humankind ceases to fear, and stands no longer in dereliction of our innate potential, but rise instead to be the glorious, luminous beings that are and always have been our truest nature.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘If It Be Your Will’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

If it be your will
That I serve no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will serve no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will.

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this empty room
I will speak for you
From this empty room
All your praise I shall preserve
If it be your will
To let me serve.

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
And your grace unfurl
If it be your will
To heal this world.

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
I am waiting still
to end this night
If it be your will.

This poem is largely stolen from, and entirely dedicated to the late great Leonard Cohen. To hear his version, click here.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Brad OH Inc. Super-Challenge!

Today, I’m being lazy. Don’t judge me. Lazy, and, I suppose, there’s a lingering sense of deja-vu. I find myself wondering what to say, in a time when it’s all been said, and nothing has changed.

So instead, I leave it to my intrepid readers to do the math, connect the dots…all that jazz.

Below, I’ve re-shared two former articles. It is up to you, the reader, to find what dreadfully ubiquitous themes might tie them together.

The Polarizing Debate Around Gun Control

Nobody wants to get shot. That, at the least, is something I believe we can all agree on. Wanting other people to get shot might be a different story, but let’s take what we can get.

There is virtually no one out there eager to catch a bullet when walking down the street—or to see their loved ones do so.

If we can agree on something as simple as that, one might assume we could find some basic consensus on how to handle guns in contemporary society.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fortunately, we here at Brad OH Inc. are an ambitious and defiantly tenacious lot, and today, that’s just what we intend to do. So sit down, strap in, and fasten up your bullet proof vests, because today, we are getting to the heart of the debate over gun control!

The most basic breakdown of opinions here are the classic and time-tested notions of right, and left. The conservatives argue in favour of free access to guns—usually on account of the good ole’ second amendment. The liberals, meanwhile, tend to go the other way—as they so often do—pushing for tighter gun control. This, presumably, goes back to the notion of not wanting to get shot.

But beyond this, things begin to get a little bit murky. I believe however, that if we truly break this whole debacle down to its very essence, we might best steal a line from ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (Source) in saying that ‘what we’ve got here is, failure to communicate’.

I want to introduce a new theme here, because I think it affords us a very important tool with which to explore this debate. I want to talk about the concept of ‘Polarity Management’.

‘Polarity Management’ (Source) describes a process by which we can more effectively analyze all sides of a debate—ideally finding a bit of common ground. In essence, ‘Polarity Management’ is a means of viewing typically entrenched positions which usually go nowhere—such as this one. ‘Polarities’ refer to the opposite ends of a single, connected issue. The key here is that one affects the other directly—it is not simply one problem to solve, but an imperative interaction that must be understood. Polarities are related, and persist over time—thus they must be managed, not solved.

The problem is that we tend to treat these as ‘either/ or’ scenarios—closing off debate, and freezing out both understanding and context. But dynamic issues such as these seldom reflect one single value or quality—no simple right or wrong. They are the result of multiple, interrelated factors.

An easy example of this is rain and sunshine. You may prefer either one, but without the other, your preference becomes a dreadful imposition. Too much sun leads to droughts, and too much rain leads to flooding. You need a balance, and that is why in any issue regarding polarities, we need communication, and then compromise.

Once we’ve identified an issue as a polarity, we can proceed to explore the balance between each side—the positives brought by each end, and the negatives they bring as well. This allows us to better understand how the opposing views of the issue interact with one another, and ideally find the crucial balance necessary to manage them.

I admit already—taking this approach to gun control with any shred of optimism is a tall order, but what the hell…let’s give it a go. To strip it all down to parts, the debate around the issue of gun control essentially amounts to two wildly opposing views:

1) The right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment, and must not be infringed in any way.

2) Gun ownership presents a significant risk to the public good, and should be curtailed, if not eliminated.

Now certainly, there are few who would fully align themselves with either extreme viewpoint, yet those are the sides as purported, so let’s consider them in turn.

Much of the argument from the (typically) Conservative crowd favoring access to firearms makes an appeal to safety—believing that arming ourselves for self-defence is an inalienable right, and that we must have the ability to purchase and carry guns in order to protects ourselves from others which might do so surreptitiously. This certainly makes some sense. After all, there is plenty of merit to the old adage against bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Of course, the better solution is to avoid entering a gun fight, or being anywhere in its vicinity. This isn’t always easy, and may even be a tad unrealistic depending on where you happen to be located. Further, the argument is often made that ‘if we make guns illegal, then only criminals will have guns’. This is a self-serving tautology to be sure, but it does a fair job of illustrating the impotent terror which might come from being left defenseless in a world full of armed lunatics.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find the (typically) Liberal crowd, who heavily favor significant controls on gun ownership, including but not limited to restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods.

This side argues that due to the potential of guns to inflict serious injury and death, access to them must be well regulated in order to avoid such weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them either unjustly, or in ignorance.

Much of the force from the ‘Right to Bear Arms’ side tends to focus on an appeal to the second amendment (Link), which guarantees to citizens that: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The ‘right to bear arms’ was initially created as an assurance that the people of America were free and able to raise a standing militia to oppose the government should it become oppressive. This is understandably justified in light of the fact that it’s exactly how America became a nation in the American Revolution against the British. But taking up arms against the government now is—sadly perhaps—a foolish and ignoble idea. The Second Amendment notion of armed war against the government is not only invalid, it’s infantile. It’s also the legal equivalent of demanding the ‘Terrorism’ trump card.

Finally, it must be noted here that even within that sacred amendment, the qualifier ‘Well-regulated’ managed to make the cut. Never was there any suggestion of handing out missile-launchers to every civilian. Handguns for self-defence may be deemed reasonable, but if you are equipped to fight an army, you are more likely to start a war.

At this point, we can see some weakness in the notion of free access to guns for all. There are few who would support selling firearms to people on a terrorist watch list, or violent offenders—and those few should certainly be ashamed of their stupidity.

But accepting some control hardly means encouraging complete control, and it may certainly be argued that the more difficult it is for citizens to legally access firearms for self-defence, the more prone they are to victimization by those who will harbor no such qualms. Further, it is a defensible case to argue that unless a restriction is demonstrably proven to be in the best interests of the citizens, then a government has no right whatsoever to enforce it. While I expect the vast majority of people who would favor that position would have a hard time defending it if pressed, it’s something to consider.

So where does this leave us? We can see strengths and weaknesses on both sides: With no control, we are inundated with guns and seduced by their increasing fetishization. With complete gun control however, we are cast into perceived subservience, and potentially left helpless against criminals who continue to arm themselves.

So here we are. Gun deaths are increasing, distrust of police/ government is growing, and America continues to have a depressing hang-up about guns being inherent to their self-worth (Source). Further, we’ve now seen that the extreme polarity of either side could potentially prove disastrous. Because we can now better understand the best intentions (public safety) of both sides, as well as the inherent risks of each extreme (uncontrolled carnage), we may find that we are better equipped to find a position of compromise.

We need balance and informed decision making. Both opinions have valuable insights—but we must actively work towards a greater and more comprehensive understanding of the issue if we ever hope to manage it. People, left with no hope, will always find ways to be violent and get what they need. We must give them hope for an achievable way if we intend to avoid strife. In the end, it is education and empathy, not arms, which shall assure the future safety of our citizenry.

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

Government infringement into personal life is a serious concern to a great many people—and the stripping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.

My Abode

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The Tavern on Whyte,

Is the spot where I write,

Its confines so quiet and dark.

The suds run cold,

Make my spirit bold,

The denziens are good for a lark.

With my pen as my might

I must strike quite a sight,

As I spin my stories and more.

I sip on my beer,

As I stew in my cheer,

Until they throw me out of the door.

The Tavern on Whyte’– Click the Pic to Visit their Site!

-Brad OH Inc.