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21 Dec. 09: Foundation Resources Inc. (TSX-V: FDN) has arranged a non-brokered private placement of up to $500,000 through the sale of up to 2.5 million flow-through units at a price of 20 cents per flow-through unit, of which up to two million units shall be subscribed for by the MineralFields Group. The funds raised are to be used to further exploration work on the company's Coldstream gold project in Ontario.

"We are very pleased to be entering into this relationship with MineralFields Group," said John Hiner, chief executive officer. "This is an important milestone in the growth of the company and we look forward to working with the MineralFields Group as we continue to develop the Coldstream project."

The President of Foundation Resources Inc. is longtime Basil Communications Inc. associate Paul Chung.

15 Dec. 09:
I've updated my course-materials website,, to get ready for my 2010 classes.

27 Nov. 09:
Two top-notch former students of mine, Taryn Gordon (second from left) and Janna Rudetsky (third from left), spent the Fall semester in Fuyang. China, preparing students there for Canadian postsecondary education. Read more here. That's Kwantlen Polytechnic University President David Atkinson on the left, School of Business Dean Art Coren on the right.

25 Oct. 09: "A new research facility at Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Langley campus is about to put a lab coat on Mother Nature so she can show us new environmentally friendly ways to reduce pesticide use in agriculture." Full story here.

10 Oct. 09:
Kwantlen Polytechnic University's one-of-a-kind farm school may open in Richmond as early as this winter. “It’s really looking good,” said Kent Mullinix, director of sustainable agriculture and food security at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture. “I’m just as happy as a lark.” Read the full story in the Richmond Review.

5 Oct. 09:
My friend and former student Danielle Raymond (above, right) lost her little sister, Shannon, last year, when Shannon died at a "house party." Now Danielle and her mother, Julie Raymond (above, left), might get some justice. Victoria Turley has been charged with "failing to provide the necessities of life ... by failing to seek medical treatment" for Shannon, who had fallen deathly ill at Turley's residence. Here is a link to the announcement of the charges (video and text). This is a precedent-setting case, because this is the first time the "necessities of life" provision in the criminal code has been used to charge a parent for this type of neglect.

26 Sept. 09:
I've been rated.

28 Aug. 09:
The federal Knowledge Infrastructure Program has allocated $872,000 to Kwantlen Polytechnic University's Langley campus "to upgrade and become greener." The province is matching that grant, bringing the total funding to more than $1.7 million. Read the whole story here.

3 Aug. 09:
New World Resource Corp. (TSX-V: NW) has commenced an exploration program on the Pastos Grandes Lithium Brine project. The company is mobilizing a highly experienced brine sampling team to expand and confirm historical data on its 99-per-cent-owned lithium, potash Pastos Grandes project and to test other prospects within the prolific salar region of the Bolivian Altiplano. The company has compiled a database of all known brine samples in Bolivia. This sampling program will expand known sample patterns and will add valuable data to the existing database. Historical brine samples from Pastos Grandes show an average of 1,009 parts per million (ppm) lithium, 17,253 ppm potassium, and very low Mg/Li and SO4/Li ratios of 2.2 and three respectively. This compares favourably with the Chemetall's Atacama ratios of Mg/Li equals 6.4 and SO4/Li equals 11. As a general rule, lower Mg/Li and SO4/Li ratios facilitates lithium recovery. The Chemetall Foote Corp. owns and operates a lithium brine operation within the Salar de Atacama, located 200 kilometres east of Antofagasta in northern Chile.

1 Aug. 09:
The HSBC Bank has donated $50,000 to endow a $
2,500 annual award for a first-year Environmental Protection Technology student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University who demonstrates community service and financial need. Read details here.

15 July 09:
Canada Zinc Metals Corp. (TSX:V-CZX) announced today that the company has commenced the 2009 exploration program on the Akie property and Kechika Regional tenures. This year's exploration program, which is helicopter supported, will be staged from the Akie base camp and will consist primarily of geologic mapping, geochemical sampling and detailed prospecting, with particular emphasis on the latter. The properties, all 100 per cent owned by the company, are centred approximately 260 kilometres north-northwest of the town of Mackenzie in northeastern British Columbia.

Akie property program: Work will focus on three high priority soil plus-miuns silt geochemical targets, all underlain by permissive Gunsteel shale, that have been identified as a result of previous work by the company and others. Of these, the North Lead anomaly, located about 2.3 kilometres northwest of the nearest drill hole to penetrate the Cardiac Creek deposit, is considered to be the most prospective due to the presence of coarse-grained, heterogeneous mineralization encountered in a 1996 drill hole (11.60 per cent zinc and 9.05 per cent lead over an interval of 0.80 metre) within a geologic environment identical to that at Cardiac Creek. In addition, this mineralization is accompanied by sulphide (pyrite, sphalerite and galena) replacement of the fragments and the matrix of an underlying debris flow, quartz-carbonate alteration in footwall rocks beneath the debris flow and widespread high lead/zinc ratios in the soil samples collected from the surrounding area, all characteristics of a typical vent complex/feeder zone associated with a SEDEX deposit. Hydrothermal centres such as these are often associated with higher grade mineralization at the transition between the vent complex and the laterally extensive bedded ore facies.

Kechika regional program: The Kechika regional program will focus on the Pie, Yuen extension and Yuen claims that extend northwestward from the Akie property for a distance of some 30 km and encompass the key geological package of middle to late Devonian fine-grained sediments and associated carbonate rocks that host the company's Cardiac Creek deposit and the nearby Cirque deposits owned by Teck Resources and Korea Zinc.

The 2009 regional exploration program will have two primary components: to conduct a detailed investigation of the favourable Gunsteel stratigraphy along strike from the Cardiac Creek deposit. These rocks exhibit widespread anomalous lead-zinc soil and silt geochemistry and numerous lead-zinc-barite showings over almost the entire extent of the three tenures; and to evaluate the continuation to the northwest onto the Yuen tenure and southeast onto the Pie tenure of the prospective package of Gunsteel rocks that host the two Cirque deposits. The favourable strike length covers a total distance of 15 kilometres.

"With the commencement of our 2009 exploration program, we anticipate fieldwork leading to even better and more refined understanding of the geologic setting and to a more concentrated focus that will result in a drill program on new targets. Given our successful first phase of regional exploration last year in combination with historical work, I am certain new discoveries can be made in the months to come," commented Jim Mustard, president of Canada Zinc Metals. "Although there is continued uncertainty in the capital markets, we are pleased that the board of directors has approved an exploration budget this year of approximately $1.5-million. The work that we will be conducting at the Akie property, including further environmental baseline studies, will continue to advance the project towards a potential underground program next year."

4 July 09:
The Community University Research Alliance (CURA) website, ActingTogether.CA, has been updated. Here's the July calendar.

18 June 09:
My dear friends and former office-mates at Coast Mountain Geological Ltd. have launched a website.

17 June 09:  
TNR Gold Corp. (TSX-V: TNR) has signed an irrevocable offer letter to acquire a 100-per-cent interest in the Mariana property, located 120 kilometres west of Tolar Grande, in Salta province, Argentina. The Mariana property, a lithium-boron salar, is accessible year-round by paved and dirt roads. Historical sampling has reported significant lithium, boron and potash levels in brines and sediments within the main body of the salar.

Salars, or salt lakes, contain minerals dissolved in brines; some include buried layers of evaporite minerals. Salars host some of the largest known lithium and boron resources in the world. Lithium with economical grades can be produced directly from salars without the need for the costly and time-consuming process of mine construction.

The Mariana project consists of several contiguous mineral claims over 120 square kilometres covering the entire salar, which extends over 12 kilometres north-south and 10.5 kilometres east-west.

TNR personnel recently completed a reconnaissance visit to the property in order to confirm historic data. Four of seven water samples collected in the shallow subsurface over approximately three kilometres returned values from 188 to 283 milligrams per litre lithium and 423 to 698 milligrams per litre boron.

6 June 09:
er.CA has uploaded numerous video snippets research assistants Meiko Assoon and Sandra Gutierrez and I made interviewing key CURA project partners.

4 June 09:
I attended the Convocation Ceremony for Kwantlen's School of Business graduates this afternoon
(in full "regalia" -- a first). At least a couple dozen of my former students crossed the stage. It was a wonderful event.

22 May 09:
I'm part of a team of Kwantlen Polytechnic University faculty members, led by Dr. Gira Bhatt, that received a $1-million federal research grant to study strategies that keep youth from joining gangs. Here is the university's news release. Here is the project's website (much multimedia is on its way). News accounts can be read here and here.

22 May 09: Other Kwantlen-Bob news: University President David Atkinson has asked me to be part of the University Steering Committee that will help oversee the "re-branding" of my beloved workplace, now that it's been granted "full university status." Atkinson describes this process (and much else!) in his recent newsletter.

27 March 09:
New World Resource Corp. (TSX-V: NW) recently announced that the Pastos Grande Lithium project has been finalized. Read entire store here.

8 March 09: I chair the Awards Committee for Kwantlen's School of Business. This is one of the most delightful assignments one could get. Last Wednesday we had our Annual Scholarships and Awards Ceremony. A total of almost $150,000 was given out, to a lot of top-notch students. Christine Bardell and Agata Zasada each received a $1000 "Maureen and George Basil Bursary," which I've been funding for the last few years in honour of my parents, who have always been so supportive of their children's and grandchildren's education.

19 Feb. 09:
You're invited to swing by Kwantlen Polytechnic University's "Big Open House" Friday and Saturday, February 27-8. I'll be at the Applied Communications department's booth on Friday afternoon, at the Entrepreneurial Leadership department's booth Saturday afternoon.

19 Feb. 09: TNR Gold Corp. (TSX-V: TNR) has confirmed that the debenture offering previously detailed in Stockwatch news on Jan. 20, 2009, has closed. The debentures have a term of one year and bear interest, payable quarterly, at 9 per cent per year, compounded semi-annually (9.2 per cent per year). The debentures are convertible by the holders at any time during the term into units at five cents per unit. Each unit comprises one common share and one warrant to purchase an additional common share at 10 cents for a period of two years. Quarterly interest payments may also be made in units, at the election of the holder. The debentures will be secured by a general security agreement, with the holders having the right to roll the debentures into any other debt or equity financing carried out by the company during the term, subject to TSX Venture Exchange rules.

The company's major shareholder and director, Kirill Klip, who currently owns 18.4 per cent of TNR Gold's outstanding issued shares, is showing his continuous support by participating in the current offering.
The debentures were placed using accredited investor prospectus exemptions in Canadian provinces and in certain offshore jurisdictions. The proceeds of the debenture financing will allow the company to explore new opportunities created by the recent economical crisis and advance its current portfolio of properties. The debenture financing has received conditional TSX-V approval.

30 Jan. 09:
Canada Zinc Metals Corp. (TSX-V: CZX) has entered into a financing arrangement with the Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group Holdings Co. Ltd. pursuant to which Tongling will purchase units equal to a 13-per-cent equity position in Canada Zinc Metals. Tongling has subscribed, by way of a non-brokered private placement, for 11.5 million units of Canada Zinc Metals at a price of 42.5 cents per unit for gross proceeds of $4,887,500.

"We are extremely pleased to be entering into this financing agreement with Tongling," stated Peeyush Varshney, chief executive officer of Canada Zinc Metals. "The work that we have been doing on the Akie property has been advancing the value and merit of the Cardiac Creek deposit and continues to attract the interest of the world's premier base metal companies. The Cardiac Creek deposit is one of the most significant discoveries in Canada in the past several years."

The proceeds of the private placement will be used to fund further exploration and advancement of the company's SEDEX zinc-lead properties and for working capital purposes.

"We are pleased to be acquiring this initial stake in Canada Zinc Metals," said Li Dongqing, chief engineering officer of Tongling. "Along with the Akie property, the significant prospective land package in the Kechika Trough represents a potential long-term district development opportunity. We look forward to continuing to build our relationship with the company."

25 Jan. 09:
This week
Kwantlen Polytechnic University hosted its 20th Annual Scholarships & Awards dinner. I was there to meet the winner of the "John Reiss Award in Journalism," Christopher Poon (in photo, above). I had funded the award to honour a man who has been a wonderful friend to me for more than thirty years. Mr. Poon was certainly a worthy recipient of this award. Here are some of his clips.

Numerous former students of mine also took home awards at the dinner. Below is a shot of Suzanne Barton, a superb student in my Professional Communications class last summer.  What a wonderful evening it was!




Notes & Miscellany

27 Dec. 09: Twenty-seven years ago today I was a groom. Shortly thereafter I understood that I could predict the future no better than I could read the past, and that my intelligence was narrow and intermittent. Eventually I stopped thinking of myself as a "smart guy." My chief value and purpose became work. I work very hard and I work every day, to see what luck might dawn.

25 Dec. 09: My sister Maria Basil's company, Gardner Plus Architects, PLLC, was named one of Rochester, NY's top 100 companies of 2009. Congratulations to Maria and her fine colleagues.

25 Dec. 09: "April's Story," a Vancouver Sun piece by Gillian Shaw.

22 Dec. 09: April Smith is featured, quite movingly, in a documentary called "With Glowing Hearts."

20 Dec. 09: Aha Media is a magnificent mobile-multimedia organization that spotlights what's going on in Vancouver's downtown eastside, accenting that neighborhood's charm, solidarity, and positive developments. Its founder, the super-smart April Smith, has been an inspiration to me. Yesterday the Globe and Mail ran a nifty feature on April and Aha Media. I hope April and her colleagues get a bunch of paying gigs as a result; they deserve every blessing in this holiday season.

15 Dec. 09: The news feed of that great Canadian Douglas Coupland is pretty nifty too.

6 Dec. 09: The Acting Together project has launched a Twitter news feed. We'll be aggregating stories concerning gangs and anti-gang initiatives. 

26 Nov. 09: I send my very best wishes to my American friends today on their Thanksgiving holiday.

25 Nov. 09: The Acting Together project, a Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) initiative funded by a $1 million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant, has had a very active first year. The goal of Acting Together is to identify factors that keep youth in the Lower Mainland of BC from participating in gang-related violence. Read more about the Kwantlen-based intiative by clicking on the image below: 

25 Nov. 09: I have the rest of the year off from teaching. Outside of already scheduled obligations, I'm trying my best to keep things open: to reflect and to plan, to learn some new pieces on the piano and to play with my cameras. I'm also considering refurbishing basil.CA, using my iWeb software. I'm very attached to the current, 4-column design: It evokes the old broadsheet newspapers, and it visually depicts my disparate interests. My goal is to convey the same things in a snazzier way.

12 Nov. 09: I know it's been slim pickings around here lately. I've been finishing up four intensive workplace-communications classes for Kwantlen's Special Education Teaching Assistant (SETA) and Gerontology-Based Therapeutic Recreation (GBTR) programs. (The SETA gang has rewarded my devotion to these wonderful students by placing my picture on their homepage.) I've also been doing a ton of work for the "Acting Together" research project, which is funded by Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.  The goal of this $1 million project is to identify and nurture factors that keep youth from engaging in violent gang-related activity. To learn more, visit

I'll have pretty much the rest of the year for vacation. You can expect frequent postings.

10 Oct. 09: On Facebook the other day I noted that, although I am a Canadian, I was raised in the United States and still cannot get used to the way British Columbians ALWAYS make a long weekend longer -- taking the Friday and/or the Tuesday off. A dear Kwantlen colleague replied: "You've been here long enough now you really need to get with the Canadian vacation program!" I do try, but it's a straining effort.

To prepare my students for the puzzlements in store, at the start of the semester I tell them, "Yes, like most of you, I was born in Canada, but I was raised on the Klingon home-world." It gets a laugh, and sets them straight: Be prepared for some unusual learning.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this Monday. It is my favourite holiday. I am most thankful for being a father, for being a teacher, for having the friends I do, and for living in Vancouver, Canada.

9 Oct. 09:  Please visit my Twitter feed.

25 Sept. 09: I've been on another planet, it seems, the last two days: a migraine on Thursday, and the utterly spaced out "day after the migraine" today. Something always happens on the day after that I would never experience otherwise. The last "day after" I was riding the bus downtown and a drunk man ran in front of it and the bus bumped him over. While he was on the ground his girlfriend (she later said she was his sister) ran over and started french kissing him and pouring Listerine down his throat. Today, while going to the bus (6AM or so, for my Zr. Zhivago-like voyage out to Kwantlen's Langley campus), the neighborhood was smelling of skunk -- I think one had been run over. I crossed paths with a middle-aged woman, who said to me, "You smell real good." Dumbfounded (I don't receive compliments like this), I asked the woman to repeat herself. "I said you smell real good. So much better than skunk!"

17 Sept. 09: ActingTogether.CA, the website for Kwantlen Polytechnic University's "community-university research alliance" project, has been updated with listings of community events in the Surrey area through to the end of the year.

29 Aug. 09: Happy birthday, Dad!

21 Aug. 09: William Szilveszter has redesigned Will, a brilliant former student of mine, is a high-end web designer (see ActingTogether.CA) and super-smart writer.

17 Aug. 09: Overheard by English Bay: "I used to be bisexual. Now I'm barely semisexual."

6 Aug. 09: I teach my final class of the semester tonight. It's been a delightful summer.

3 Aug. 09: Overheard a man having a happy moment: "I'm so very taken with turkey bacon."

1 Aug. 09: Overheard a couple having a difficult discussion: "Why can't you forgive?" "Why can't you prevent?"

30 July 09: I might just lose some sleep knowing I missed the chance to coin the nifty neologism "nichepaper" myself.

26 July 09: Mashable: The Social Media Guide is an enormously useful (and often very funny) online resource. Read, for example, Jennifer Van Grove's piece on the guilt-tripping strategy Facebook uses on people who want to deactivate their accounts.

20 July 09: Robin Plan on PTSD:

I used to get triggered to where you couldn’t take me anywhere, diving under tables in restaurants and staying frozen under desks til the office cleared out, talking in a little baby voice or becoming violent and fighting with store clerks or some innocent who bumped me in passing. That’s PTSD. You lose the in between space that separates stimulus and response. Normally it’s stimulus >> thought >> response but when PTSD exists there’s nothing between the two, and there really needs to be; the ability to recognize and accurately perceive a stimulus is basic and that’s what PTSD ruins. When the stimulus/response is instantaneous, it’s impaired. People living with unresolved major trauma put current experience into the past and act as if a horrible thing is happening now and they don’t realize they’re doing this. They don’t know where they are. To be unable to tell when sounds/behaviors/facial expressions/and yes, words are a threat or benign is hell to live with, it needs to be repaired and there are ways of doing that.

Everyone I know who has sincerely worked on healing from trauma would laugh at the very fucking idea of a “safe space” [on blogs], because number one we are beyond safe spaces, and second, trying to create a womblike social milieu promotes the continuing psychosis we’re trying to get over.

Recovery is about learning to discern the difference between a benign and threatening stimuli, and how to respond to each accordingly. This is broken in PTSD where everything is coming at you and all of it potentially threatening. Reactions to sounds, words, facial expressions, ringing phones and knocks on the door are often unpredictable, bizarre, disproportionate, hysterical, confusing, scary to experience and scary to witness, and come out of nowhere with a life of their own. The triggers are real, and the material being activated is meaningful, but it’s all happening inside, and that’s where the responsibility lies. Why is that so hard to grasp? I read those blogs and their trigger warnings and PTSD admonishments to everyone as if their speech is a factor in keeping the self-identified PTSD sufferer stable. Maybe the sufferer should be disturbed; PTSD is a serious mental illness.

16 July 09: In my upper-level professional communications classes at Kwantlen Polytechnic Univearsity, I teach a nifty little module on "bullshit," that is, language a person uses to mislead one or several people about that person's real intentions. My students are tested on the subject: To guarantee themselves an A, they have to tell me something about bullshit that I don't already know. I've learned a lot! My students tend to focus on bullshit's salubrious aspects: the necessity of white lies, for instance; that it is often the sole recourse for parents in their efforts to persuade a young child; how one sometimes needs to BS oneself just to make it through the day.

4 July 09: I'm wishing my American friends a delightful Independence Day.

1 July 09: Happy Canada Day!

25 June 09: The Family Values crowd (of all political stripes) believes that hypocrisy is the "homage that vice pays to virtue." Indeed, being a hypocrite is solid proof that you believe that virtue exists, and that fact makes you a good person. According to this thinking, people like you and me, who hate hypocrisy, therefore do not believe that virtue exists. We have no moral moorings, apparently.

18 June 09: I now Tweet. My goal is to make brief comments about what I'm reading and/or watching.

6 June 09:
If somebody had told me 25 years ago th
at in middle age I would be a single, balding, overweight person who calls himself a writer while getting paid as a teacher of writing and who talks about his cat all the time, I would have asked to be shot dead. Alas, that is what I have become, and I have never been happier. This happiness was challenged a couple of weeks ago, though, when my cat, Dig, went in for surgery to have most of his teeth taken out. Dig, a diabetic with FIV, could have died on the table. Anticipating the surgery, I was more miserably anxious than I had been since moving to Canada thirteen years ago. Dig came through the surgery fine. That's Dig stoned on pain medication the day after his surgery.

22 May 09:
I have set a personal record for slim pickings around basil.CA of late. Many happy events have conspired to keep me away: A visit from my son, getting used to my new iMac, the start of my summer term at Kwantlen, and a couple of worthy out-of-classroom projects (see "Business Items). More's coming soon!

25 April 09:
I have never wanted to own a home. There are several reasons for this, one being that I could never *fix* anything that might break inside a home I own, another being that ... uh, there are very few things I want to own, period. Exceptions: I have lots of original art I have by people whose work I adore -- Lincoln Clarkes, Mary Fleener, Julie Doucet, Marilyn Suriani, Kat Kosiancic, Phoebe Gloeckner, Seth, my sister Maria Basil -- and I have my Steinway upright piano, built in 1901. That's about it.

At any rate: Thus I rent my home. I have a beautiful place, near English Bay, inside of which I want to live forever. I am one of thousands in my neighborhood who feel the same way about their rented homes. Many of these people have lived here much longer than I have, including elderly folk. In my building there is an 88-year-old man who smokes two packs a day and who knows everybody within five blocks and who has an utterly fine mind; his daugher lives down the hall from him (she smokes almost as much, but outside); his grand-daughter resides down the block.

Some property owners here are trying to kick long-time apartment-people out. My head's with the capitalists, my heart is with my neighbors. My head has no chance on this one.

12 April 09:
I've long fancied that running and singing were the two elemental reasons for human survival: Running, so that men and women could catch food and escape from prey, and singing so that they could communicate culture across generations. Here's a recent, scientific argument for the Endurance Running Hypothesis.

28 March 09:
Anybody who has ever seen me knows that I have no sense of fashion when dressing myself. I also have almost no sense of fashion generally. Because I occasionally teach students in Kwantlen's prestigious Fashion Design and Technology program, however, I've recently started trying to learn the basics.  To that end, I read the recent New Yorker profile of designer Alber Elbaz by Ariel Levy (a terrific writer). I've been pondering the following for about a week now: "[Elbaz] is fond of saying he is not interested in designing the dress that will make a man fall in love with the woman who wears it. He is interested in designing the dress that a woman wears when she falls in love herself."

7 March 09: Happy birthday, Mom!

19 Feb. 09: I am lucky to be able to teach in Kwantlen's SETA program. SETA stands for "special education teaching assistant."  Those who get their SETA certificate will work with teachers in local classrooms to support students with diverse and/or special needs.  From my SETA students and from my SETA teaching colleagues I have learned a lot about the "inclusive approach" to education. (I have also learned that I have a lot of work to do when it comes to empathy and patience.) This is National Inclusive Education Week.

3 Feb. 09:
Yesterday I took a cab-ride down East Hastings street and saw that
Pigeon Park was bare. The shrubbery was shorn. The place was clean of people. "The police must be coming here in force," I thought. Indeed. More background here. (And here is a piece called "Pigeon Park Sentences," a meditation on the place I wrote a number of years back.)

1 Feb. 09: You dance with people when you are looking for romance or friendship; you dance with things when you are loving being alive.

25 Jan. 09:
It is very common to know people who talk about writing books who never do. It is much less common to run into someone who writes books who doesn't tell the world. Yesterday I was invited over to the very friendly and art-filled home of my Kwantlen colleague David Ingre. For two years at Kwantlen we have shared an office, yet I did not know, until I saw them in his home office, that he had published two books last year:
Engineering Communication: A Practical Guide to Workplace Communications for Engineering Students and the Thomson Web Guide for Engineering Research. That is true modesty!

20 Jan. 09:
You don't have to be trusting, or have a warm heart, to be kind.  I am colder, and farther away from you, than Neptune.

8 Jan. 09: I will free up a lot of my brain by not following American politics so closely. That's the plan for 2009. Time to overhaul my RSS feeds.

Archives By Year:



Arts & Letters

27 Dec. 09: Musician Kristin Hersh is tweeting her grief after the suicide of her friend the singer / songwriter Vic Chesnutt. It is a very poignant display of emotion. In one post Hersh writes, "i know and i'm sorry, but suicide has a life of its own -- it just has to rear up at the same time you lean over." I hope people listen to Hersh, because after the suicide of a public figure we usually don't have to wait long to hear people articulate their lack of compassion for and understanding of the desperate and depressed. 

Years ago, after the suicide of Elliott Smith, I wrote, perhaps too hopefully, that "People are beginning to understand that suicide often is 'death by depression.' Of course things are happening in and around a depressed person -- 'in' as in drugs or alcohol abuse, 'around' as in self-destructive or very unhappy relationships -- but it is fallacious to say that these elements drive one to suicide.  Depression is both the train and the track, as far as I am concerned.  Everything else is just buzzing by the windows.

"Depression, like homosexuality, is an animated identity that's invisible ... until it's enunciated by the one whose life it defines. That is why by some people depression is regarded as a capricious and irresponsible choice:  It seems to be brought into being by the spoken words of the suffering individual, who seemed not to suffer when silent -- when in the closet, as it were."

26 Dec. 09:
I am often embarrassed by the way people like what I like.

25 Dec. 09:
Funniest Facebook "status update" I've ever seen: "Dear Santa, You cheap asshole, I was good this year."

16 Dec. 09:  
I have discovered that my new iPhone blog has a theme: my love for Vancouver and British Columbia. After the birth of my son, Miles, moving back to Canada has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

14 Dec. 09:  The photo below, "Girl with Polka Dot Dress," tintype ca. 1870, is part of artist and collector Paul Cava's extensive tintype collection, featured in the current issue of Eyemazing, my favourite photography journal.

5 Dec. 09:
I was sad when the great Julie Doucet announced in 2002 that she was abandoning the world of comix ("a boys club," she called it) for a more abstract, collage-driven style. There was no substitute for her winsome, whimsical autobiographical comic work. Her new book, 365 Days: A Diary, is very much a return to form, I am delighted to report, though the pages are a good deal more text-heavy than her work in the Dirty Plotte series. It's a feast.

BTW, I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a couple of panels from Doucet's story "Missing" a few years ago, including the beautiful drawing below:

30 Nov. 09: I've launched a mobile-media blog. All content will be produced and uploaded via my iPhone.

26 Nov. 09:
Agata Zasada, a brilliant former student of mine, has relaunched Zasada.CA as a smart, tart Human Resources information site and blog.

15 Nov. 09:
The Sylvia Hotel is a delightful place to have a sleeve of beer and some conversation. I make it a frequent Sunday afternoon destination.

9 Oct. 09:
Arcade is a super-smart "digital salon" published by Stanford University. According to its editors, "Our international, multilingual community is committed to redrawing, and sometimes erasing, the lines between contributors and readers. All of our features are intended to be the best of their kind: curated but participatory, technologically rich in the service of intellectual exchange, and open to multiple modalities. Arcade belongs to the Open Access movement in scholarly publishing." Two recent postings I've much liked: Jonathan Mayhew's Theory of the Lilt and Sianne Ngai's Huddling Together, Nervously Loquacious.

25 Sept. 09:
My son's website continues to edify and amuse.

17 Sept. 09:  
Strings Magazine loves the Saddle Cats CD. Greg Cahill writes: "[Richard] Chon has chops galore. He has western swing and Gypsy jazz down cold, sounding at times like a young Stéphane Grappelli. [Bobby] Nathan is a rock-steady player who’s anchored a host of Bay Area rockabilly bands over the years."

29 Aug. 09:
My friend Kat Kosiancic and I are participating in our third 3-Day Novel-Writing contest over Labour Day Weekend.

29 Aug. 09: Usually when I visit the local comix shop, there is at least one new book by the prolific Jeffrey Brown, whose memoirs charmingly chronicle, in a drawing style at once messy and meticulous, a humble and honest life. Here is an excellent review of "Funny Misshapen Body."

27 Aug. 09:
Photographer Lincoln Clarkes has posted beautiful new work from his recent trip to London on his website, Below is a portrait of his daughters, Astrid and Lucy.

19 Aug. 09: 
I've passed along my old, sometimes controversial URL to April Smith and her colleagues at These people inspire me. From the website: We are emerging independent mobile social media event reporters and new media hyper local citizen journalists. We specialize in Live and in real time, onsite multimedia – new and social media coverage of your events – Photography /Videography, Live twitter castings, and even livestreaming for you – sometimes done simultaneously! :) Based in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, we cover community news and special events & functions with our ongoing learnings of technology, mobile media production and cameraphone capacity in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

6 Aug. 09: 
The band Dead Sara's song "Sorry for it All" gives me goosebumps.

2 Aug. 09:
Jay Rosen, now a professor of journalism at NYU, was my first mentor. Back in 1978-9 at SUNY/Buffalo's student newspaper, The Spectrum, he taught me how to edit, and he pushed me as a writer. Although I was grateful for his guidance and unrelenting personal attention, this was not a pleasant experience, for either of us, and years would pass before we became friends.

As a writer, for most of his career Jay has been both prolific and prolix. I still crack up at the memory of the day back at university when he filled up both Op-Ed pages: He wrote the editorial, his weekly column, and a several-thousand-word "guest opinion." And when Jay started blogging a few years ago, he proudly noted that he would not be following the conventional blog style: frequent, not-too-long posts. His style would be, in contrast, frequent and VERY long posts.

Then Jay met Twitter. The 140-character limit suits him, it turns out. Now prolific but super-concise, my old mentor deserves the very large following he has.

30 July 09:
In 1992 I acquired and helped publish a book by Marilyn Suriani, "Dancing Naked in the Material World." The book combined photographs of strippers from Atlanta, Georgia, with journal entries, poems, and interviews with the dancers themselves. It's a beautiful book, unfortunately no longer in print.Working together on her book, Marilyn and I became great friends. My late-1990s ezine debuted with a gallery of her photography, and later on I hosted her website, which has just been beautifully redesigned.

26 July 09:
I hope my Southern California readers make it to the Strips, Scripts and Scapes exhibition at the Riverside Art Gallery. It showcases some of the best comix artists in Southern California working today, including the great Mary Fleener.

16 July 09:
My buddy Lincoln Clarkes has completely revamped his online photogallery. I love it.

8 July 09:
My friend Richard Chon's band, The Saddle Cats, has released its debut album, "Herdin' Cats!" on the EastLight record label. It's wonderfully arranged and brilliantly played (and sung) Western Swing music. (If you ever see a copy of Chon's first, solo CD, "Li'l World," issued in 1999, grab it.)

5 July 09:
Old grad school buddy Jonathan Mayhew is one of my favourite writers. He is lucid, funny, smarter than hell, and writing faster than I can read. I check his blog Bemsha Swing! daily. The University of Chicago Press just published two of his books: Apocryphal Lorca and Twilight of the Avant Garde