This is a photo of the Flathead Range in the Crowsnest Pass in south-western Alberta.
Whenever the weather turns bitter cold with blowing snow the locals in Toronto complain initially and then they open up a little more to others in friendly gestures. Often the worst of the cold is over in a week; however, this time its continuing into a second week without much of a break. It warmed a little on Saturday to deliver snow and then the temperature dropped again. We should be counting our blessings and not encourage the deep freeze occurring in western Canada where Regina and Calgary have been experiencing -40C.
My absences from posting is due to personal matters taking a precedence. Two book reviews are nearing completion which should be posted soon.
On a recent visit to High Park located in west central Toronto on 161 hectares (400 acres), I walked about half way into the park to the Hillside Gardens to enjoy the cool breeze while staying in the shade. Due to the extreme temperature my camera phone kept taking hazy photos.
A series of three ponds with fountains fenced in by trimmed hedges. This would have been an excellent location to meditate except for other visitors to the pools, some whom tended to be quite vocal.
More information about High Park can be found at:
Early in July I paused outside the Runnymede Public Library, at Bloor St West and Glendonwynne, where the art deco around the front door caught my eye. Inside one of the librarians was kind enough to assist me in locating information about the architect, one, John M. Lyle.
Mr. Lyle was born in Ireland in 1872, came to Canada at an early age. He was the first architect to use Canadian style, designing the high pitched French Canadian type of roof tiled with the ordinary small black slats used in France. The walls of the library were constructed from the local Credit Valley limestone, grey stone with hints of yellow and red in its texture. Construction began in 1929 and was completed in 1930.
The art deco around the front door was done in a First Nations totem motif: the raven, the beaver and the bear on the bottom.
On the west side of the library is a door that once led into the children’s portion of the library where special spaces (club rooms) were allocated for their activities.
A few of Mr. Lyle’s other creative works in Toronto are the Royal Alexandra Theatre and Union Station which share the similar style of the Runnymede Public Library.
John M. Lyle: Toward A Canadian Architecture by Geoffrey Hunt, Publisher Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario 1982: pp.6, 10.
A Progressive Traditionalist John M. Lyle, Architect by Glenn McArthur, Coach House Books, Toronto, 2009. pp. 152.
“THE TOURIST SHOPS OF PRAGUE SELL DOZENS OF ITEMS COMMEMORATING FRANZ KAFKA. You can drink a latte in the Café Kafka, add sugar to it from a packet with Kafka’s face on it, and then light your cigarette from a box of Kafka matches.
“Franz Kafka died in obscurity in 1936, publishing only a handful of bizarre stories in little known literary magazines. Yet today he persists in our collective imaginations. Even those who have never read any of Kafka’s fiction describe their tribulations with the Department of Motor Vehicles as “Kafkaesque” How did this happen?
“Kafkaesque explores the fiction of generations of authors inspired by Kafka’s work. These dystopic, comedic, and ironic tales include T.C. Boyle’s roadside garage that is a never ending trial, Philip Roth’s alternate history in which Kafka immigrates to America to date his aunt, Jorge Luis Borges’ labyrinthine public lottery that redefines reality, Carol Ernshwiller’s testimony by the first female to earn the right to call herself a “man,” and Paul Di Filippo’s unfamiliar Kafka—journalist by day, costumed crime fighter by night.
“Also included is Kafka’s classic story “The Hunger Artist,” appearing both in a brand-new translation and in an illustrated version by legendary cartoonist R. Crumb (Fritz the Cat). Additionally, each author discusses Kafka’s writing, its relevance, its personal influence, and Kafka’s enduring legacy.”
The stories listed below were some of the most bizarre but ingenious I have ever read. They work on repetitive themes Franz Kafka incorporated in his own work.
A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka
The title introduces the topic of the unfolding story of a man on exhibition, fasting. Initially I wondered where it was going, and soon was mesmerized by the words and the story.
The Drowned Giant by J.G. Ballard
A rendition of Gulliver’s Travels with macabre twists.
The Cockroach Hat by Terry Bisson
Love, death and misdirection as told in an alternate reality by a cockroach.
Hymenophera by Michael Blumlein
A clothes designer discovers an eight-foot wasp in his salon.
The Lottery in Babylon by Jorge Luis Borges
As was in Babylon of old with wanton and unusual tastes, the lottery fulfilled most of the buyers’ dreams with its prizes.
The Big Garage by T. Coraghessan Boyle
An Audi owner joins three bedraggled car owners living in a garage while waiting for repairs that may never come.
The Jackdaw's Last Case by Paul Di Filippo
A journalist turns crime fighter by night in Kafaesque style.
Report to the Men’s Club by Carol Emshwiller
A feminine take on living in a patriarchal society.
Bright Morning by Jeffrey Ford
An escape story with a twist, of a fantasy/science fiction writer implementing Kafka elements.
The Rapid Advance of Sorrow by Theodora Goss
A surreal look at communism in eastern Europe.
Stable Strategies for Middle Management by Eileen Gunn
Bioengineering has its disadvantages when applying insect genes to facilitate organizational abilities.
The Handler by Damon Knight
A story difficult to interpret except to stay it has the aspect of a Trojan horse.
Receding Horizon by Jonathan Lethem & Carter Scholz
A parody on “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
A Hunger Artist by David Mairowitz and Robert Crumb
A pictorial version of the story by Franz Kafka.
“I Always Wanted You to Admire My Fasting” or, Looking at Kafka by Philip Roth
Humourous reminiscences of a boy’s Hebrew-school teacher being invited to dinner.
The 57th Franz Kafka by Rudy Rucker
Not my type of story. Someone else may find it entertaining.
The Amount to Carry by Carter Scholz
An insurance broker composes music meets Mr. Kafka of Workman’s Accident Insurance Institute.
Kafka in Bronteland by Tamar Yellin
In reflection of her Jewish upbringing, a Yorkshire woman encounters Kafka on the moors.
JOHN KESSEL and JAMES PATRICK KELLY are the award winning co-editors of canon-defining anthologies, including Feeling Very Strange, The Slipstream Anthology, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, and The Secret History of Science Fiction.
The review copy was provided by Charlene Brusso, with many thanks.
After a somewhat lengthy delay the landlord tribunal is being held on Wednesay where the tenants of the apartment complex will hopefully find resolution in rent reduction, as well as the proper repairs to their units (preferably in a timely manner). It has been a time consuming endeavour to collect tenant signatures in order to obtain a city grant to fund a paralegal to attend.
UPDATE: 17JULY13 - Through mediation at the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Tribunal our Tenant Assocation has obtained retro-active rent reduction on the rent increase over the guidelines, as well as positive feedback on working together to provide satisfactory resolutions on repairs to units.
This photo is of an old farmstead on the central plains in Saskatchewan.
“Niall Petersen’s whole life has been turned on its head by the revelation that he can do magic. Now a Warder for the ancient Courts of the Feyre, duty and honour must be upheld. His daughter Alex, newly awakened to her own magical powers, has been saved from the terrifying Bedlam prison, but in freeing her, Niall has released others of their kind into the population – half-breed fey who have been mistreated, abused and tortured by the very institution that was supposed to help them.”
“Now Niall must track them down and persuade them to swap their new found liberty for the security of the Courts – but is the price of sanctuary merely to swap one cage for another?”
This is the third novel in The Courts of Feyre urban fantasy series. Sixty-Nine Nails and The Road to Bedlam introduced Niall Petersen learning about his inherited abilities as a wraithkin, joining the Warders to protect the High Council. Due to personal feelings over his daughter’s welfare taking precedence over his duties at the Feyre Court; Niall is encountering a strained relationship with his boss, Gavin. Increasing the tension is Blackbird, who has delivered a son, and needing some time away.
Niall’s daughter, Alex, is irritated and frustrated at being under “house arrest” at the location of the Courts. After a brief reunion with her mother, Katherine, Alex runs away; joining up with Eve, a fey mongrel and her companions from Porton Downs where they had undergone scientific experiments. Together they obtain six ancient relics from different locations in London for a ritual Eve plans to change the universe with.
Niall has been assigned to search for the errant fey mongrels and bring them in to the Feyre Court. Alerted to one location, he uses his glamour to skirt a roof top extension to enter an upper bedroom in the next house. There he locates the “huge black cat” he encountered at Porton Down during the rescue of his daughter. After dispatching the shape-shifter there is a touching scene with a girl named Lucy. Another location is of a roof top garden, a beekeeper’s delight.
Told in multiple points-of-view from different characters, the story unfolds in richness and depth. Historical detail of locations such as the Tower of London, British Library, Covent Garden, Glastonbury, the Houses of Parliament and London provides a colourful background. Scenes with the aviary of the ravens at the Tower of London and the interior of the Houses of Parliament were memorable with the action unfolding to ramp up the suspense.
As in his previous novels in this series, Mike Shevdon provides further information on the historical detail surrounding The Ceremony of the Keys which forms the background.
Another enjoyable read in this series which I recommend wholly and look forward to the next in this series.
With thanks to Darren Turpin for providing the review copy.
Book format: Mass Market paperback, 392 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot Books, imprint of Osprey Publishing
Author website: Mike Shevdon
Available in paperback and ebook at:
This afternoon I decided to explore one of the walking trails in North York named the Heathrow Park Trail. This walking trail extends from Exbury Road south to Jane Street near Heathrow Road. On a warm sunny day, like today, it was a pleasant saunter under newly budding trees and a light breeze.
The trail begins adjacent to Exbury Park at 136 Exbury Road with a paved portion down a short incline in a southerly direction. At the bottom is a junction where a trail to the left leads to Tavistock Road. This portion of the trail was closed for repairs by the Parks Department of the City of Toronto.
Looking back toward Exbury Road (straight ahead) with a fork near the post to the right of centre and a path leading to a beamed staircase to west end of Tavistock Road over a small bridge.
The trail narrows slightly, the pavement changing to packed dirt and gravel sections. Repairs are being made to the water channel of Heathrow Creek to stabilize the banks and the culverts leading in from the side streets.
While making my way down the trail I met several walkers in both directions.
The above photo is looking back (north) along the trail.
Toronto City Parks have a code of conduct for their trails throughout the city:
Stay on the existing trails.
Respect trail closures.
Keep dogs on leash.
Leave no trace.
There are several litter bins along the trail including blue recycle bins.
The trail crosses Heathrow Drive to continue south.
Here the trail makes it way between residential homes linking it to Heathrow Park and Jane Street.
The photo below is looking east to Heathrow Park from the gate to Jane Street via a parking lot of a small strip plaza.
Looking toward rear of parking lot where entrance to Heathrow Park and the Heathrow trail is located.
Many locals use the trail as a shortcut to the Sheridan Mall shopping centre and local merchants in the area.
It has been one of those weeks for the last month, where as a member of a tenant association, the time I usually spend on more pertinent matters such as this blog, book reviews and writing, has been on issues related to general maintenance combined with preparation for a tribunal hearing.
If life were much simpler, as in the photo above, of an abandoned homestead in south-west Saskatchewan. Of course, from its state new housing is in order and imminent. Hopefully this will not be the case with the apartment complex I live in.
This is a view of Mount Sir Donald taken from the Abbott Ridge Trail in Glacier National Park, B.C. This hike will be posted soon for those enthusiasts of craggy heights.
Mount Sir Donald is 10,816 feet / 3297 metres tall. Sir Donald A. Smith, the Canadian Pacific Railway director, drove the last spike on the CPR at Craigellachie in 1885. Sir Donald Smith was also Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company and Chancellor of the Canadian High Commission in London. For other information on Mount Sir Donald visit Summitpost.org.
Photo Credit: bglogging CC=nc-flickr. CLICK TO ENLARGE
"Welcome to the unpredictable world of urban fantasy. In these twenty complex and highly entertaining tales, you'll encounter unforgettable characters in thrilling scenarios: the overwhelmed innkeeper in the haunted house of her dreams, the unicorn miraculously freed from imprisonment in a tapestry, a misfit who gives the class bullies the ride of a lifetime..."
Edited by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale
This anthology contains three sections of urban fantasy covering distinct subgenres. Each of the stories delves into relationships between well rounded characters. My favourtie stories were: A Bird That Whistles, Julie’s Unicorn, Companions to the Moon, Gestella and Talking Back to the Moon. The Introduction by Peter S. Beagle provides an eloquent and delightful explanation of how urban fantasy began and how it has evolved.
Introduction: A Personal Journey into Mythic Fiction
By Charles de Lint
Mr. de Lint provides background and insight on the development of mythic fiction—myths and folklore.
A Bird That Whistles
By Emma Bull
This engrossing tale set in 1970 features a young musician who encounters love, magic and an elf.
Make a Joyful Noise
By Charles de Lint
Maida, a shape-shifting crow, plays detective to help a ghost pass over.
The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories
By Neil Gaiman
An English writer finds Hollywood an illusion. Pious Dundas, a remarkable elderly man, steals the story.
On the Road to New Egypt
By Jeffrey Ford
A man driving home from work picks up two hitchhikers: Christ and the Devil.
By Peter S. Beagle
Mr. Beagle’s stories are pure enchantment for me, leading immediately into the story and keeping the reader there. A delightful, magical tale of freeing a unicorn from a tapestry.
Introduction: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Urban Fantasy
By Paula Guran
An in-depth look at the evolution of urban fantasy and its subgenres—how writers work influences public demand.
Companions to the Moon
By Charles de Lint
Suspicions arouse, a woman follows her partner to a meeting of the Fayre Court.
A Haunted House of Her Own
By Kelley Armstrong
Be careful of what you ask for. Tanya has the Victorian house of her dreams, complete with a history.
She’s My Witch
By Norman Partridge
Raising the dead isn’t for the faint of heart.
Kitty’s Zombie New Year
By Carrie Vaughn
A brilliant piece on the evils of binding a person to you out of love.
By Patricia Briggs
Entertaining story of a werewolf locating his missing brother—and love.
By Bruce McAllister
This story of an angel hiring a hitman didn’t work for me.
By Suzy McKee Charnas
Puberty has its problems: body changes, hormones and teasing. Kelsey, however, has an ace when the moon turns full.
Farewell, My Zombie
By Francesca Lia Block
Grief overcomes a woman whose child has died.
Introduction: We Are Not a Club, but We Sometimes Share a Room
By Joe R. Lansdale
Two sentences in his introduction paraphrase the wonder of this anthology:
“These stories are all trips into a world of strange magic, places where you have not been. Once you come back from your journey, you’re unlikely to forget this voyage any time soon.”
The White Man
By Thomas M. Disch
An enterprising young woman learns about vampires and how to dispatch them.
By Susan Palwick
A werewolf’s lot isn’t easy--. This is a story you won’t forget.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
By Holly Black
Vampirism is an infection sweeping throughout America. Matilda’s got 31 days left from 88 to kick the vampire habit, providing she doesn’t drink any blood.
Talking Back to the Moon
By Steven R. Boyett
Imagine Southern California deserted, houses abandoned years before, animals at large. A werewolf and a centaur join forces, working their way through the devastated San Fernando Valley. Mr. Boyett provides fascinating descriptions of suburbia gone wild.
On the Far Side of the Cadillac Desert with Dead Folks
By Joe R. Lansdale
A weird zombie-bounty hunter story that others may find to be their cup of tea.
The Bible Repairman By Tim Powers
Before Torrez began editing bibles for sinners, he assisted families with ransom requests for stolen ash urns and the safe return of the ghost of their departed love ones.
Father Dear By Al Sarrantonio
Raised in a disillusioned upbringing, a man sets out to correct it.
Review copy provided by Charlene Brusso with many thanks.
Book format: trade paperback, 432 pages
This photo is of Consolation Lakes located in Banff National Park, Alberta.
I had intended on posting the book review on The Urban Fantasy Anthology, but for some reason Blogger insists on refusing the cover photo to upload.
From time to time I upload photos I intend on using in future posts, and this one was available. A previous post on hiking the Consolation Lakes is here.
The weather in Toronto continues to switch from week to week: snow and chilling winds bringing the temperature down to -25C and the next week 3C with rain. There have been major earthquakes over the last ten years that have been shifting the north pole to the NE degree by degree, which has an impact on weather everywhere on the planet.
Winter can be a wonderful time of year for various sporting enthusiasts: ice fishing, skiing, skating, tobogganing, walking in crisp cold air that numbs your nose while the snow crunches and squeaks under your boots. Though sometimes there isn't enough snow for sports. Like today: a bare covering of snow on the ground combined with a windchill. Perhaps kites with toque, two pairs of mitts, down-filled parka, woof scarf and various other wool garments underneath layered with soft cotton (rather than polyester which isn't healthy for you over the longterm). It's not pleasant walking in damp cold with a windchill of -18C (0F). The best thing about coming indoors afterwards is preparing a mug of steaming hot chocolate with a wee bit of cream to top it off.
It has been a very wierd winter so far with snow followed by mild temperatures, rain, then several days of sun and cloud ending in colder temperatures and a wee bit of snow. Yet in places meant to be warmer there has been snow: like in Sypria. Perhaps its the poles shifting every time there's an earthquake--some recent ones, over the last six months, on the west coast have been in the 7 scale. Or some years ago I'd read an article that said the planet was going into a water cycle which would create temperature change. Humans adjust just like nature does. We might complain a little but in the end we just go with the flow. Its much easier to do that in the beginning and avoid the tension.
How's your winter life going?
The photo is one of the waterfalls at the location of Elbow Falls west of Bragg Creek, Alberta.
[Lighthouse at Port Dover, Ontario by cseeman's photostream CC=nc-sa-flickr]
My holidays over Christmas were spent with friends at Port Dover on the north shore of Lake Erie located about two hours west of Toronto. Although no snow had graced the area at that time there was a chill in the air and a brisk breeze coming across the lake from the south-west. Despite gloves my fingers grew chilled when trying to take photos with my phone, thus these from flickr suit my purpose.
[Port Dover Lighthouse and pier by cseeman's photostream CC=nc-sa-flickr.]
The waves coming into shore were a gray-green in colour, completely different from the water I've watched in Lake Ontario.
But the best thing I noticed was the lack of smog present. Being able to breathe in the quiet atmosphere was a blessing.
[Port Dover, ON, pier and benches by cseeman's photostream CC=nc-sa-flickr]
There were no other people present on the day I visited the pier, probably due to the cold wind and their preparations for Christmas.