The weirdest thing about travel in the States now is knowing that at least three out of every ten Americans you see actively supports corruption, fascism and could very well be a gun-toting nut who’d just love to shoot a “leftie” (which means anyone who disagrees with them and/or is a different colour, gender or sexual orientation).

Being a “leftie” of sorts (though by no means holding every position of the left, because well, I think outrage culture is mostly bullshit and can’t get caught up in every indignation, and hyperbole is never helpful), this naturally worries me.

How many of these crazy fucks are there? How many would just go with the flow and expose a sudden and irrepressible cruelty, a well of repressed violence, the second things finally crossed that line it’s been teetering on, almost since Reagan?

It’s unnerving. People being nice to each other in public, to go home and demonstrate a terrifying radicalism, a casual and persistent bigotry, a desire for repression at any and all costs, no matter how corrupt the method of achievement?

Anyway, scary place. Recommended caution, and be ready to run; these fuckers could lose their shit at any moment.

Target: 1600 words
Written: 857 words, novel: Father Lightning

frankenmuth, day 2

Brewben, beer, cheese and chicken. Probably the Christmas store.

Lots of polka. My god, the polka.

A street mural with what I’m pretty sure were some sort of German Mennonite cannibals.

This place is wild. In a homey little old folks’ kind of way.

The only worrisome part of being here is just how many of the people around us are full-blown right-wing, NRA-wannabe terrorists Nazi lovers.

Target: 1600 words
Written: 1645 words, novel: Father Lightning


My legs hurt. My dog had an amazing time. Our granddaughter had an amazing time.

We all had a great time. It was wonderful seeing family again. I love my aunt and uncle. My cousins are a lot of fun.

And the wilderness?

I understand the call my uncle feels, to be out in his Tranquility Camp, enjoying the wild, the peace of the forest, and the knowledge that one can live by one’s own means, if one so chooses.

It’s a romantic life, and not one I’m destined for, but hey, I was raised in cities and cornfields.

Still, it feels like home, and that’s the best reason to keep coming back.

Target: 1500 words
Written: 998 words, novel: Father Lightning

fire tower

This is the first time I haven’t made it to the top. My legs were already burning from running up and down steep hills and flights of stairs to the beach that they gave out on me about two-thirds of the way up.

I guess feats of strength like that are a first day thing.

Also, an under two hundred pound thing. When we get back from the north, it’s time to hit keto hard and get rid of some of this excess. It’s putting too much of a strain on me, and I have too many things to do before I die.

I don’t want to go early.

Target: 1500 words
Written: 1306 words, novel: Father Lightning


AKA Home.

I love the Canadian Shield. The forests, the lakes, the cool, crisp air.

Man. Coming back here is like hitting a recharge station.

Only… not so much this time. Between chasing around our granddaughter and letting Mazy enjoy the wilderness, it’s been pretty well non-stop, no rest for the wicked.

On the plus side, our dog is in heaven. She is absolutely adoring this.

The mountain dog in her has definitely come out. We always tease her about being an indoor dog at home, but apparently, that’s just because we live in flat cornfield.

Add some hills and trails and she’s all of a sudden de Champlain.

I knew she would love this, just as I do. Hopefully, she’s around for many more years so we can make this a regular thing.

Target: 1500 words
Written: 1842 words, novel: Father Lightning


Heaven forbid I try and do things for myself on the weekend.

In a matter of moments, what should have been a productive day ended up being a day spent doing crap for other people, running around places I didn’t need to go.

I try to go with the flow, but it seems I can’t find even five minutes to read or meditate without interruption.

It’s like there’s a camera on me and the second I try to do something for myself, the vultures come in, with their demands and their conversations and their places to be, things to do.

Fuck, man. I just want to spend the day reading and writing. Maybe a video game for thirty minutes and a nice movie to top it off. A good dinner. Some nice sex.

I used to do those exercises where you write out your ideal day, and it was always some travelling orgy that spanned the globe and featured a dozen different daring activities – snowboarding, skydiving, scuba, riding elephants and tigers and bears, oh my.

If I wrote it now, it would writing in the morning, reading in the afternoon, some exercise and meditation, followed up by a nice dinner with my wife and some sweaty alone time (with her, obviously). That’s it. A glass of wine and some chocolate. Maybe an old fashioned and a cigar if I was being really cheeky.

I wouldn’t even leave the house, except maybe to sit on the porch or the deck.


Target: 1500 words
Written: 1170 words, novel: Father Lightning


We have a lot of clutter. I personally hate clutter, and I like to spend my money on experiences, rather than stuff. Stuff collects, doesn’t mean anything and is a waste of money. A wooden carved turtle reminds me of a trip to Antigua, and that’s fine. My t-shirts consist of bands and geek stuff and places I’ve visited. Craft brewery shirts.

Experiences. I have books galore, comics, video games, movies, box sets of television shows. A healthy collection of music from the Forties to now.


But stuff… stuff drives me nuts.

I have cigars and lubricants and sex toys. A well stocked bar, beer fridge and wine rack. (I am nothing if not decadent; the world’s quietest hedonist.)


Cookbooks, cooking supplies. Practical items like lawnmowers and vacuums.

Useful things. Experiences.

Not… stuff.

Stuff sucks. It’s junk. The kind of stuff that should never be anywhere near a house. And I know everyone’s experiences and what they enjoy are different, but if it doesn’t turn you on, if it’s not useful, if it doesn’t speak to you of something you’ve done or could do, then fuck.

What’s the goddamn point?

Target: 1400 words
Written: 1105 words, novel: Father Lightning

wow, viking

So, we had relayed our terrible experience at Versailles and the lack of accessibility on the Viking tours, and what we got back was… something.

This woman, and I’ll hesitate to say that, because she sound automated when she first called, so much so that I was actually questioning whether we were talking to some sort of newfangled AI Chat bot.

One that was malfunctioning, that is. Turns out though, a real person, and the most condescending customer service rep I think I’ve ever dealt with. She completely ignored all of our concerns, and whenever we brought up the discrimination our daughter endured, she would just say, “I’m sorry your feelings got hurt”.

You know that noise someone makes in a movie or a TV show, that’s kind of a cross between “Oh” and “mmm”, that immediately tells you that someone is a complete dickbag and you should hate them? Yeah, she did that at least a half-dozen times, whenever we brought up discrimination.

On top of that, the only thing she was willing to do was vouchers… for a cruise that had to be taken within the next year. Oh yes, condescending bitch, let me pay you for the privilege of being discriminated against, not taken seriously and talked down by the world’s most patronizing customer service rep. And use vacation time I don’t have to do so.

Cue more arguing, more condescension and we finally got our Versailles trip refunded.

The stupidity of this is that all they had to do was to call, be nice, show they understood the problem and refund Versailles. We’d have been happy with that. But now, with this bitch?

Oh, yeah, regardless of what she says about being “the top”, this is definitely getting escalated. Hard.

You don’t send the girl who clearly used to pick on disabled kids in high school, and is clearly enjoying the suffering of this one, to make amends, because she doesn’t care. She thinks it’s funny.

Now I have the CEO’s email and I plan to use it. An apology and a refund; that’s it. That’s all that was needed. Now, I’m coming for your job, because you couldn’t simply demonstrate a bit of understanding and some kindness.

Target: 1300 words
Written: 1975 words, novel: Father Lightning