Tag Archives: Canadian Culture

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something from Sci-fi You Wish Were Real

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Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

The sickbay of the Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The sickbay of the Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Image credit: Derek Springer from Los Angeles, CA, USA

I wish Star Trek medical bays were real.

Some countries like Canada offer universal healthcare. Well, the basics are covered by taxes. The majority of us still have to buy insurance or pay out of pocket for things like prescriptions, dental care, (most) mental health care, basic vision care, private hospital rooms, and many medical devices that are meant for home use.

I’m grateful to be able to visit my family doctor without worrying about how much the bill will be, but I dream of a world where everyone can visit a Star Trek medical bay.

Imagine almost instantly getting a diagnosis after having a tricorder painless waved in front of you instead of waiting days or sometimes even weeks for results from our current and more invasive diagnostic procedures to come in.

Then you would probably be given a hypospray or a little pill to permanently cure any illness or injury faster and with less pain than even the most revolutionary treatments that are available today. All of this would happen without anyone worrying about how they can afford the treatment.

I dream of living in a world like that. Wouldn’t it be marvellous?

As much as I’d also love to experience a few hours of amusement in the holodeck or order all sorts of fancy dishes from a replicator in the mess hall, real-life medical bays would be life-changing for humanity as a whole. I hope they really do exist someday.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Describe a Perfect Weekend Getaway

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Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

This is a trip I’ve been dreaming about ever since I first read the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.  Maybe someday a version of it will actually happen!

A lighthouse on Prince Edward Island. You can see the famous red sandy beaches between the lighthouse and the sea. The sky is a dusky rose colour. It may be dusk or dawn in this photo. My perfect weekend getaway would happen on Prince Edward Island.

My spouse* and I would fly there on a Friday and fly home on a Monday so we’d have two full days of adventure on the island.

Our first stop would be to visit the birthplace of L.M. Montgomery. It’s a lovely farmhouse that’s been turned into a museum. Historical stuff like that appeals to me!

I’d visit some of the Anne of Green Gables tourist destinations nearby, too, like the little museum dedicated to this series and the gift shop that has all sorts of Anne memorabilia.

The rest of the weekend would be spend exploring other things the island has to offer. I’d want to visit their red beaches for sure, but I’d play the rest by ear based on what the locals recommended and what the weather was like that weekend.

It’s been my experience that the best restaurants, parks, shops, and other adventures in a new area are often hidden gems. I’d rather take advice from someone who lives there and has insider information than follow the advice of a random Internet article that may or may not actually be knowledgeable on the topic.

My spouse* and I might:

  • Take a carriage ride
  • Explore a gorgeous, half-forgotten graveyard in a small town
  • Eat at a restaurant that looks fairly ordinary from the outside but quietly serves the best food on the whole island
  • Join a last-minute ghost or historical tour
  • Stumble upon a cool local festival or event we knew nothing about previously
  • Find a marvellous sweets or ice cream shop
  • Make a new friend with an extroverted local or fellow tourist
  • Build sand castles on the beach
  • Hike somewhere achingly wonderful, or
  • Discover unique architecture in a beautiful historical church or other building

Red rocks, dirt, and sand on a Prince Edward Island beach. The possibilities are endless, and I’d relish any of them.

I’ll end this post with one more Prince Edward Island stock photo I found.

Seriously, wouldn’t it be amazing to see such sights in person?

*If they didn’t want to go, I’d take a friend instead. I do not believe in compulsory travel. Hehe.

 

Sensing Something Wrong: A Review of The Wendigo

The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood book cover. Image on cover is a drawing of a horned, hairy creature standing on it’s back feet. It looks like a large goat. Title: The Wendigo

Author: Algernon Blackwood

Publisher: Eveleigh Nash

Publication Date: 1910 (and republished on April 21, 2022)

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical

Length: 74 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Algernon Blackwood’s “The Wendigo” tells the story of a camping trip in the Canadian wilderness that goes horribly wrong when the hunters become the hunted. Drawing on the mythical creature known as the Wendigo, this story is regarded by many critics to be one of the best horror tales of all time.

Review:

Content Warning: Racism. I will discuss it in depth in my review.

Forests aren’t friendly to everyone.

Some of my favourite scenes were the ones that explored the various reactions people can have to being in the middle of the woods. What is peaceful and wholesome to one person could be mildly unsettling or even downright terrifying to another based on their previous experiences with nature and how much they know about all of the sounds that occur when one is in the middle of nowhere and can see nothing byt trees stretching out in every direction.

Horror doesn’t have to be gory or gross. There wasn’t single drop of blood in this tale, and yet it made me shudder all the same. I appreciated the slow buildup as the characters walked deeper into the woods and further away from anyone who might help them. That methodical pacing gave me plenty of opportunities to imagine what might happen next and to chew on the clues I’d already discovered. The slower and quieter scenes were exactly what the storyline needed in order to flourish. Some things are much scarier when they’ve been given time to marinate in your thoughts, and this is one of them.

I wanted to make note of the racism mentioned in the content warning. This story was written in 1910, and the author had some truly odd ideas about First Nations people and their mystical connection to nature that many white people of his era believed. In no way am I trying to excuse the offensive nature of those passages or his bizarre beliefs about how one’s race should influence what one does in the woods, only to say that the world has changed for the better since it was written and I think the author was trying to be complimentary with those descriptions based on the historical time in which he lived. While I am generally able to shake my head and ignore ridiculous stuff like this in old books, I did want to let my readers know about them in advance so you can come to your own conclusions about whether this is something you want to read.

With that being said, I loved what Mr. Blackwood did with his characters, especially Punk, a First Nations cook and guide for the group, later on in the storyline. Their character arcs were memorable and made a great deal of sense given what they found in the woods and how everyone reacted to that experience. It made me wonder what would have happened if Dr. Cathcart, the protagonist, had been more interested in cultures outside of his own. This was one of those cases where a little communication would have gone a long way, but certain cultural assumptions made that difficult. I found myself wondering how the storyline might have changed if it were instead told from the perspective of Punk after he realized that the white people he was accompanying through the woods had accidentally discovered something horrific.

The Wendigo was a delightfully chilling tale.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Have You Met Anyone Famous? Who?

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Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A black squiggly autograph
The Internet says this is supposed to be an autograph.

I’ve never met anyone who is universally famous like Beyoncé or President Obama, so my answer to this question depends on your definition of the term fame and which social circles we may or may not have in common. Here are a few people who are famous in some subcultures that I’ve been in the same room with.

Curtis Hinds

Those of you who have followed my site for a while might remember that I was a preacher’s kid growing up. Curtis was (and still is) well known as a travelling pastor and speaker in certain Protestant circles. I knew him as a family friend who would occasionally come to visit us in the Midwestern portion of the United States or take us out to dinner when we travelled up to Ontario.

He was (and I’m sure still is) a friendly man who always had amusing new stories to share about his travels.

 

Robert J. Sawyer

Robert is one of Canada’s most famous science fiction authors. I’ve blogged about several of his books here like “Calculating God” and the Neanderthal Parallax Trilogy in previous posts.

He sometimes pops up at various literary events and festivals in Toronto. I’ve met him once so far. He was a kind and welcoming man to everyone around him that day, so do say hello if you also enjoy his work and see him around at a bookish event someday.

 

Devon Soltendieck

This one might take a little bit of explaining. Much Music is a tv channel that is like Canada’s version of MTV. Devon was a Much Music host in the 2000s. In the mid-2000s, I was riding the subway when I saw someone who looked really familiar to me. I couldn’t stop staring at him as I tried to figure out why he was so familiar.

“Okay, so how are we related?” I silently asked myself. I had occasionally run into distant cousins and other relatives whom I recognized but whose names did not immediately come to mind when I lived in the United States. Due to this, I assumed it was another case of me seeing a third cousin or something and needing some time to realize we shared recent ancestors.

It was only after I’d arrived back home and turned on the TV that I realized I’d probably seen a famous person instead.

He was facing away from me on the subway, so I hope he didn’t notice me staring at him. I would have politely ignored him if I realized we didn’t actually need to play the “how are we related” game after all. Ha!

 

Person photographing her white dog. That is the sum total of my celebrity experiences. I tend to avoid celebrity culture and take an alternate route if I see paparazzi clogging up a sidewalk here in Toronto, but I hope everyone who is into that sort of stuff has plenty of opportunities to rub elbows with celebrities if they so desire to.

I’m ending this post with a stock photo of someone photographing her dog because the thought of domesticated animals being famous makes me giggle. (Although there are some famous furry friends out there, too).

 

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: What Mythological Animal You’d Want as a Pet

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Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

My first response to this prompt was, “none at all!”

I think I’ve read too many speculative stories about people who try to capture faeries or other magical creatures only to discover just how dangerous and foolish it is to mess with forces you don’t understand. For the sake of playing along, though, I’ll assume that any animal or creature I choose would be docile enough to make a half-decent companion, could look after itself, and wouldn’t mind if a human wanted to be near it sometimes.

An Ogopogo statue in British Columbia. It is green and grey and has parts of its body poking up from a blue stream.
An Ogopogo statue in British Columbia. Photo credit: Hamedog at the English-language Wikipedia

An Ogopogo (which is something like Canada’s version of the Loch Ness Monster) seems like a good match for these criteria.

Yes, I’d need to move to Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, but I can only assume that the Powers That Be ™ would somehow ensure that all of the details for that move would taken care of and that my new magical friend would be made aware of it. (Calling it my pet somehow doesn’t seem quite right).

Ogopogos generally leave humans alone, especially in contemporary stories about them. Mostly, they just swim around and occasionally startle tourists who weren’t expecting to see such an enormous and ancient creature calmly existing near them.

The only exception to this rule involves people who intend to harm the Ogopogo and/or the valley it protects. I would post signs warning visitors about the possibility of an Ogopogo attack if they had dishonourable intentions, but anyone who simply wanted to have a picnic or something by the lake with me shouldn’t have any trouble at all with them.

Honestly, I like the idea of a protective entity.

That’s something that many lakes and other natural places need nowadays, so I’d leave my Ogopogo do it’s sacred duty without any interruptions. If it wanted to swim up and say hello while I was enjoying the shore, so be it.

What Bears Do in the Woods: A Review of The Ursus Verses

Title: The Ursus Versus Author: Nathan Waddell Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: October 29, 2020 Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Length: 66 pages Source: I purchased it. Rating: 5 Stars Blurb: Do you like bears and black holes and squid monsters and dragons and cowboy dragon slayers and riding your bike all around town looking… Read More

6 Toronto Urban Legends for Halloween

Since most of the people who read this site don’t live in Toronto and Halloween is my favourite holiday of the year by far, this seemed like the perfect time to share some of our spooky local urban legends. The Lady in Red Lower Bay subway station was built in 1966 and shut down six… Read More

A Summer Without Tourists

There are a few things about Canadian and, more specifically, Torontonian culture that I should explain here for anyone who isn’t already familiar with them before diving into the meat of this post. I am speaking in broad generalities here and this is a large, diverse country, so please make friendly allowances for that if… Read More