Open Letter

An Open Letter to Ken King “You can’t emotionally blackmail that which is already dead inside.”

Recently, Ken King decided to double down on the crazy pills vis a vis CalgaryNext. Presumably that means KathleenNOW is off the table.

Dear Ken King,

I can only imagine the frustrations you must be grappling with in the face of our refusal to indulge your petty desire for more hookers and cocaine. It is difficult, I know, not getting what you want. Much like my one-year-old nephew, you have opted to throw a tantrum and beat your fists desperately against the floor in the hopes that Mayor Nenshi will take you back to Walmart so you can finally purchase that Paw Patrol action figure you want.

I know, man. Paw Patrol is really cool.

But Ken, Kenny baby, life doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to stomp your feet and threaten to hold your breath until you turn blue until you get what you want. Incidentally, our colour is red so that is really what you should be aiming for.  You don’t get to threaten to take away our Flames just because we won’t pay for you turbo mansion with the T-rex leather sofa ball pit and the gold toilet that your (presumably) trophy wife throws up into every night after she comes to terms that she must do the sex with you.

You don’t get to be a total wad just because you don’t get what you want.

Look around you, Kenny.  The unemployment rate is fluctuating badly. In December we were at 10.6% unemployment. At this moment it’s 9.4%. How many glorious new jobs would this new Cocaine-and-Gold-Boobs Stadium bring? Is it worth the tax expense that would be levelled against all of us, just to fulfill your desire to shit on the Saddledome as the walls explodes around you?

And here’s another thing. When you say, “There would be no threat to move, we would just move, and it would be over.” Well, Ken-Kill-Kenney, that actually comes off like a threat, and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but in general folks don’t take well to threats. In fact, threats generally cause us to dig in our heels, drill nails through our feet, and prepare for the worst outcome. And trust me, Ken, if the worst you can do is take away the Flames, and it is, then you are about to get an unpleasant surprise. I, for one, have already painted my toenails to show off my brand new, lovely, hobnail accessory.

See, despite what you think, Ken King, the Calgary Flames are not the be all and end all of our city. We are made of many patterns and colours. We have many loves and interests. As a community, we have the remarkable ability to come together and find enjoyment in a variety of activities. Some, like the Comic Expo and the Stampede are an annual event. During the brief days that these events take place we come together to indulge in our silly side and explore our history in quasi-drunken escapades that will never be repeated here nor anywhere else.

But Calgary has so much more to offer as well. The Glenbow, the Telus Spark Science Centre, the Calgary Zoo. Walk down Stephen Ave during the Christmas Holidays and a person would be hard-pressed to not feel themselves spurred on by a sense of community. Except you. I imagine whenever snow touches your lily-white skin you are forced to vigorously towel dry yourself with the nearest louse-free homeless person. Float down the Bow, get a treat at Village Ice Cream, visit one of our many farmer’s markets. Climb the Tower (or ride a sherpa as much like my previously mentioned nephew, your stubby legs would never make the climb, and I’m sure the speed of an elevator ascent would cause you to get a nosebleed.) Have you seen our craft beer community? Big Rock, Village, Last Best, Toolshed, Dandy, Wild Rose. Every single thing I’ve listed, including the sherpa, laughs in the face of your ‘threat-but-totally-not-a-threat’ to take away our Flames.

We’ve got some sweet-ass malls, some bitchin’ walking trails, and some cool-as-shit libraries to visit. Those are places where you can get books for free, by the way. You might want to try picking one up some time. I recommend something by Charles Dickens, as you will surely recognize yourself in the robust, eccentric fancy-man villains that occupy those particular plotlines.

We’ve got an eclectic variety of religions and ethnicities, all offering their own individual services, celebrations, and cuisine to try. We have street festivals, and hipster paradises like Kensington and Inglewood waiting to be explored.

We have one of the foremost children’s hospitals in North American. By the way, I’d love a donation to my Extra Life Campaign.

We have old and new architecture that, if you have the time to remove your head from betwixt your asscheeks, you might just notice and, perhaps, admire.

Have you heard our symphony or seen the concerts that are hosted at the Jube and the Epcor Centre? Bob Dylan is coming this July. Bob-Fucking-Dylan. You know who else is coming? Distant Worlds, which is a Final Fantasy based orchestra performance. We get video game music and Bob-Fucking-Dylan all in the course of six months. The breadth of our cultural landscape stretches the length of the Rockies, which, by the way, are only a short drive away.

Calgary is a hundred thousand colours and sights and smells. It is a hundred thousand loves and passions and hates, dreams and desires. It is over one million voices all chiming together to tell you that you, Ken King, are a gargantuan asshole.

Go ahead, King. Take our Flames. Take our team. The one thing you can’t package up and ship off to another city is our spirit. That passion, that joy, that team loyalty, it isn’t for sale, and we won’t suffer your emotional blackmail.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky, esq

Integrity Commissioner

 

PS: I have heard you, and others, mention the good charity work that comes from the Calgary Flames. I am unaware of any charity that threatens those it helps the most, although I see a nurse shaking down a child with leukemia at ACH, so I guess you never know.

An Open Letter to Swanson Steamfresh products “The Age of Sauce Is Upon Us”

Thought: Why do we call them ‘Corn Mazes’? What fool overlooked the hilarious opportunity for it to be a “Maize Maze”?

Dear Swanson Steamfresh,

As I write this I am witnessing my husband’s face contort in a wildly amusing way. I might say I could have told you so to him, but that would only create marital strife, and quite frankly we are only two or three misplaced words away from dueling to the death on the eaves trough of our new house.

His face is contorting partially because, in an effort to rid himself of what is a remarkable and intense, I hesitate to use the word ‘flavour’, he has opted to pour himself a generous portion of scotch whiskey, which I purchased for him after starting my new job as a sort of thank you for being such a loving and supportive husband and refusing my offers to duel on the eaves trough of the house.

He has poured himself this generous portion of whiskey because he just ate a small bite of your “Flavor Full” Barbeque Sweet Corn product and it has not agreed with him.

I understand that we live in the Age of Sauce, Swansons. Much like a Ritolin Riddled Millennial, we ask that all pre-packaged foods come doused in succulent, varied flavours to ensure that we are not bored by the process of eating. Heaven forbid boredom should set in – we might fall asleep, our heads swallowed by our Hungry Man meals, mashed potatoes inhaled into our sinuses and suffocating us before we’d have a chance to reach for the paprika to remedy the sheer, unadulterated boredom that is eating.

But really, does everything need a sauce? Am I so incapable of squeezing a lemon or reaching for that bottle of Artisnal BBQ sauce that I purchased from the local farmer’s market that you must take it upon yourself to slather my frozen vegetables with this shlock? What’s worse is that it isn’t even interesting BBQ sauce. You add it to your product to encourage the eating of vegetables and, I presume, corn. But here’s the thing, Swanson. No one is prepared to admit that corn is the single most god-awful vegetable in the face of the planet. Corn was not made to be consumed in its natural form. Why else have we turned it into syrup and bread? because it’s a fucking disaster of a vegetable! In order to eat it properly the average human requires years of extensive orthodontic and dental intervention, and even then the minute you have one kernel stuck between your teeth it becomes a crisis, with mom piling all the kids into the car at 7:30 at night to make an emergency trip to the dentist just so you can have the damn thing surgically removed.

Corn is not the friend of mankind, and no amount of BBQ sauce will ever make it so. Even  my own special reserve of artisanal sauce made from the blood of wild horses that were slaughtered under the full moon can’t make corn palatable. It’s an impossibility, so please, do us all a favour and stop trying to make sauce-ridden corn happen. It isn’t going to happen. At least when I steam my own corn I can douse it with rye whiskey and set it on fire. that makes it marginally more edible. Try doing that with your saucesational BBQ and Sweet Corn. You can’t, can you? Because whatever is in that BBQ sauce is an affront to nature itself and consumes fire to gain strength. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that my garbage can has melted into the foundation of the house after my husband disposed of the bag.

I guess what I am getting at here, Swanson, is that you don’t have to douse everything in sauce. Potato wedges can just be potato wedges. Non-specific-type-of-Asian-Medley can just be a non-specific-type-of-Asian-Medley (I’ll save that for another open letter, although my guess is you know what I am going to say, and if you don’t I would suggest you google ‘Asia’ and then ‘regional cuisine’ and tell me how many of those countries actually utilize baby corn in their meals.)

You know what I do like, Swansons? Your Pure & Simple frozen veggies. I don’t feel like in my wild attempts to create a balanced meal I will somehow have to create a meat sensation that somehow compliments the strange, fanciful saucy veg that you have prepackaged for me. If I want to make my Russian Prince Salt Chicken, which is delicious by the way, I will have no concerns about it clashing with your Broccoli Florets because those florets are sauce free. Unlike the Buffalo Cauliflower which, speaking as someone who has never eaten a buffalo before, seems poorly named. I know you worry about us, and you worry that we aren’t eating enough greens, but trust me, we will if you only give us the chance. Like reluctant parents finally giving their 18-year-old the keys to the car, you have to give us some responsibility so we can prove ourselves. Yes, we are capable of seasoning our own vegetables. Yes, we can decide how much salt we want to put on the green beans. Yes, we can. Let us go, Swanson. Let us fly.

And here’s another thing. “Flavour Full”. Really? Really? That’s what you’re going with? Perhaps it is the savvy consumer in me, but I want to know what you’re trying to hide by calling these bags of sauces “Flavour Full” instead of “Flavorful”. Is it because the sauce to vegetable ratio is so lopsided? Is it because what you have included in these products can’t be called ‘flavour’ so much as ‘artificially enhanced spice dollops’?  No one thinks that is witty, Swanson. If anything, the lack of concern for the English language is disturbing. You’re already on thin ice with your Salisbury Steak Hungry Man Meal – don’t push your luck by desicrating a word as simple as ‘flavourful’. You know what would have been a good name for them? Swanson’s Steamfresh Flavour Punched Vegetables. Because then I imagine someone punching an ear of corn and that fills me in a way that frozen vegetables never can.

An Open Letter from Shawna Yanke to Freedom “Sort of Like If You Take Things They Are Technically Free” Mobile

This week’s open letter is from Shawna Yanke to Freedom Mobile. Shawna is upset. Shawna did not write the title. I did. I think ‘Freedom Mobile’ is a silly name. So is Wind. You might as well have named it “Basically Bell Mobile”. At least the consonant repetition would have tickled my tongue.

An Open Letter to Freedom Mobile

I switched to your mobile service in early July 2016, despite being hesitant at all the reddit comments and online reviews saying your 3G-only service was slow and without great coverage of Calgary, but I was very optimistic about my bank account being less damaged by your prices. Coming off almost 10 years of having expensive plans with Telus, I thought I could put up with whatever you had in store for me if it meant not getting gouged every month.

I heartily went to the store to change my plan over, begrudgingly paid the $50 Telus demanded to unlock my device (because I would be given an additional $5 off my plan if I brought my own device). You let me keep my number, which was great, and I waited the 45 odd minutes for that to port through. The guy in the store set me up with an account that required I pay my monthly amount first to top up my ‘balance’ and then explained that Wind (as it was known by then) would deduct my bill amount after the pre-authorized payments were in my account.

Months went by without issue, and I even got an email from you guys excitedly saying you would be offering LTE speeds (albeit, at a higher price point) in my area in the summer or fall of 2017. I was very excited at this, naturally, and was a bit dismayed to find out I would not be eligible for that LTE speed unless I bought one of your two phones you offer. This seemed odd, as my current device worked just fine on Telus’ LTE network, but I looked online and decided the nicer of the two phones would be a nice update, as my current phone is over 3 years old and not the greatest anymore.

Now, bear in mind, at this point I am already making excuses/accommodations for you, because your prices are that good, but these are all things I didn’t have to deal with when I was through Telus.

But then the problems started that made me question how far I would stick by you guys.

I went to the store, current phone all backed up on my laptop and ready to wipe, as by trading in my current device, I would receive a credit towards my new one. The less money spent, the better, right? I wanted to get a device on a ‘MyTab’ boost option (discounted phone, you pay a certain amount towards the phone each month – basically a fancy financing plan for your device) because again, cheaper.

The guy there tells me I must be on a Pay After plan for the MyTab boost, an option I wasn’t even aware of or offered when I started up with this provider. Either way, I’m fine with being billed for my usage after the fact, so I tell him I’ll gladly switch to this plan. He says he must check my credit – fine, call your headquarters, I’ve been approved for a mortgage, car loan and my own phone plan every time, so fire away.

His face sinks, and tells me that unfortunately I didn’t meet the credit requirements for a Pay After plan.

Sorry, what?

He says I still have the option to buy out the device flat out – um, no thanks. I came in expecting to spend maybe $500/$600, not over $1000. I go home, and start composing emails.

None of your ‘customer service experts’ were able to help me, just say that this is how it is, you must be on a Pay After plan (which I already know, as stated in my email) and that if the guy says I’m not eligible for this, I’m not eligible.

I wrote back that I might as well buy that device outright elsewhere, as it may be cheaper, and then I could at least qualify for the $5 off per month for bringing my own device again. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

“Regrettably, we are no longer offering credits for bring a phone from another provider or company to Freedom Mobile.  I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Basically, I’m boned either way. I will not be able to take advantage of Freedom’s LTE speeds because I cannot afford this phone. I tell you this, Customer Service agent, and your response has simply been “I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause”. Insert bottled response here.

In conclusion, I am forced to say that I don’t believe the MyTab boost option is actually available to anyone with anything less than stellar credit, and this means that your LTE service is not only more expensive than your other plans, but also not available to anyone who cannot buy your phone flat out (cheapest option is $600 outright, the only other phone is $1000).

If switching to another provider were financially viable, I would be leaving you in a heartbeat, but for the time being, you have me and my cell phone held captive in your service, not entirely unlike financial blackmail.

So thanks for that.

Sincerely,

A begrudgingly loyal customer,

Shawna Yanke

An Open Letter to Andrew, Who Just Wanted to Share a Quote

You might remember Andrew. Andrew emailed me again, this time to share a quote:

You’ve got to let it go and say it was the best I could do at that time and place in my life. You hope that the thing you’re doing next is a little bit better.”

-Todd McFarlane

Here is Katarina Savatski’s response.

Dear Andrew,

I thank you for your words of encouragement. When last we spoke I was returning to Russia and, I believed, my likely demise at the hands of Putin’s entourage of gnome-like FSB agents. I was certain my cover was blown, especially how Mr. Turd Ferguson, who you remember to be my handler, I’m sure, refused to see me off.

I spent several unfortunate weeks upon the boat, the SS Hipsmasher. One might believe that to be a comical name, a play on the absurdity, but it was indeed a most harrowing ride and I am grateful that I have survived to tell you the tale. I was brought onto the ship under the cover of darkness the night prior to its departure, carried in my faithful potato sack which once acted as a sleeping bag for me during my youth when my father and I traveled with the Trans Siberian Orchestra. Now, my faithful burlap, would accompany back to the old country and, god willing, convince those meeting me on the other side that I was still loyal to Putin, Mother Russia, and perhaps even the ballet.

I was directed to not leave my sack until I was certain the boat had departed. Oh, how those hours wore on! I was tucked among ballasts and boilers, next to a noisy pipe that was either used for transporting water or rats. I made myself as small as possible, which was no small feat given that part of my obligatory ballet training included spending several hours each day on a rack, meant to stretch my limbs so I might achieve maximum ‘willowiness’. After what felt like days and days, curled in the cold corner of the boat, I felt the world shift around me. Praise me to Saint Jude, we were off!

I emerged from my burlap sack and was quickly escorted to the bow where I met the captain, a Mr. Burt Lancaster-Steele. In the old country his arm hair would indicate he was a man of high rank. As it was, he explained he had some sort of allele condition and that I should not use the women’s razors in the ships bathroom, as they were meant specially for him. Captain Lancaster-Steele explained that he had been paid to bring me back to Russia, and that I should not feel even remotely uncomfortable despite the fact that I was the only woman on a ship full of men who would be isolated from the rest of the world for the next month. In hindsight, I suspect Captain Lancaster-Steele was trying to subtly warn me that the crew were not to be trusted.

I spent my days wandering the deck of the ship, making polite conversation with a young shiphand named Daniel who seemed relegated to what I believe you Americans call ‘Charlie Work’, as more often than not he was covered in some form of human excrement or handling rats. Nonetheless, I found Daniel to be a clever conversationalist. He was born in New Jersey, but I do not hold that against him.

Ah, Daniel. Were it not for Daniel, I would have surely perished upon that boat.

It happened the second week. We had been forced to sail into a storm, or else bypass it and add another three weeks onto our journey. Have you ever been trapped on a ship with a group of sweaty, sea-salt licked men, Andrew? It is deeply unpleasant.

During the night, as the SS Hipsmasher was buffeted about by the wind and waves, there came a commotion from outside of my quarters. Since I had volunteered to tend to Captain Lancaster-Steele’s chest hair he had graciously upgraded my living space from a corner in the hull to a broom closet. I was quite content there given I now was able to lock out the rest of the world if I so desired, but with Daniel sleeping down the hall, and frequently suffering nightterrors brought on by his fear of open water, I was never concerned that anyone would be able to sneak up on me.

I called out, thinking it must be Daniel, come to curse Poseidon in his terrified state. Upon opening the door, I was terrified to realize that the second mate, a wormy-like man I had only known as Dwight, was standing at my door. I learned, not long after reaching shore, that Dwight was actually Dimitri, and was, as I suspected, a plant from Putin, sent to kill me. Dwight lunged, his hands wrapping around my neck. Now, I must caution you to not dear for me, Andrew. Do you recall I mentioned my willowy stature? Dwight’s efforts to wrap his fingers around my neck were halted as I was able to deliver several swift blows to his kidneys with my lanky arms. I drove my toned ballerina foot directly into his sternum and managed to haltingly leap over him. Alas, Dwight recovered from my attack and lunged towards, me, tackling me just as the ship lurched to one side. We crashed into the wall of the hallway, and began to kick out fiercely at Dwight, landing blow after blow on his delicate man bits.

Temporarily free, I made my way down the hall, thinking I might make it to the deck and take one of the life rafts to safety. Alas, as I reached the stairs, the SS Hipsmasher at last gave way to the power of the storm, and a torrent of water surged down the stairs, knocking me back down the hallway and into Daniel, who was just emerging from his quarters.

Now, Andrew, I must tell you what happened next is a blur. I recall the sea, cold, empty, and endless. It churned around me, frothing. I recall seeing Daniel and Dwight both grapple for a knife, and the sudden and complete submersion of the boat below the water. I cannot say where I found the pipe or what I thought I was doing, but as I delivered a first, second, and then third blow directly to Dwight’s hip, I knew the SS Hipsmasher had remained true to her name.

But oh, that water, Andrew! So cold! And I say this being Russian! Do you know how much it takes for a Russian to admit they are cold? I would not admit it even if Putin had had my father hung over a bear pit! We Russians are proud people.

I’m not sure how Daniel delivered us from that balmy abyss. When next I woke I was curled on a life raft with Daniel on one side of me and Captain Lancaster-Steele on the other.

And my hands. My glorious, Putin-Oiling hands, bandaged using my faithful burlap sack. The pipe I had grasped, the very same that kept me awake during those first few hours on the boat, had been a steam pipe. Even now, as I write to you, Andrew, my palms blister and pus. The pain is excruciating.

We were not on that raft for long. Land was already in sight when I awoke. But I already knew that I would never be able to return to Russia. Were Putin to see me now, he would surely have me killed. His favorite prima ballerina and chest-oiler, now disfigured, useless. No man wants scarred, lump hands massaging unscented baby oil into their ripped pecs.

I could not go home to Russia, for I would be killed., I could not go to my adopted country of the United States of America, for I betrayed their trust in rigging the election. I was anchorless, homeless, and country-less. And so, when we arrived on the Irish coast I knew at once, Katarina Savatski surely died on that boat.

Kathleen O’Whiskey, on the other hand – oh, hands. It still pains me – Yes, Kathleen O’Whiskey would make a new life for herself on this emerald isle.

Dawn is breaking, Andrew, and I must be off. If I stay in any city too long I run the risk of being spotted by one of Putin’s spies. There is so much I wish to tell you. That your President Trump is not who he seems; that Bannon is not the puppet master you should concern yourself with. There is much you need to know, Andrew. When I am next able to contact you, I will explain much more.

Yours truly,
Katarina Savatski

An Open Letter to Andrew, Who Wants Me to Sign a Petition

Andrew sent me this forward. I don’t think I know Andrew. I know some Andrews but I don’t think I know this one.

Hi,

Today—just one week before the Electoral College meets to formally elect our next president—a bipartisan group of electors sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper demanding an intelligence briefing related to Russia’s impact on our elections in advance of their vote.

CIA analysts have apparently concluded that Russia sought to influence the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump, and that Russia got the result it wanted. But the level of that involvement and what it means for our democracy is unclear because the CIA has not made the evidence public, briefed key members of Congress, nor fully updated members of the Electoral College who are being asked to determine the next president this coming Monday.

The electors and the American public deserve to hear the facts. We cannot presume to know what impact Russia had, whether this should negate the election night results, or what it might mean for future elections until we review the evidence. And while it is unlikely to change the election outcome, Americans deserve the confidence in our electoral system that comes with clearly knowing the threats we faced and whether they had impact.

The president has a responsibility, among his final duties in office, to give Americans the truth, and help us establish confidence in our democracy again. He can and must order the CIA to brief the electors and members of Congress in full before December 19, and declassify and disseminate the evidence for the public to consider as quickly as possible.

That’s why I signed a petition to President Barack Obama, which says:

” The Electoral College has the right and the duty to see the evidence that the CIA has related to Russia’s impact on our elections. Declassify the evidence and brief the electors before they vote on December 19.”

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/direct-the-cia-to-declassify?source=s.fwd&r_by=15375497

Thanks!

I replied to Andrew as such:

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your forward. I regret to inform you, however, that I am in fact a Russian spy and have been for several years. My actions up to this point include cleverly inputting small quantities of nuclear material into every day objects (I would recommend you get rid of that favorite mug of yours), hacking Trump’s personal email (and let me tell you, his tanning technique is far more invasive than anyone could have expected given the end result), and being Putin’s personal chest oiler.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Kathleen, how does one get the position of Chest Oiler Supreme?” or, as we call it back in mother Russia, “Cold Hands, Warm Heart, French-Fried Nipples” (Loosely translated, you must understand). My story begins long ago to when I was a youth who travelled the Trans Siberian railway with my father, who was conductor of the orchestra (you might have hear of them) for a short period of time in the early 90’s. His career wasn’t to last after he lost the use of both his elbows in a freak snow shoeing accident. After that we ended up in Moscow and I kept us alive by stealing rubles from the fur lined pockets of wealthy stereotypes until one day, after marking a certain local official, I was caught with my hand in the figurative cookie jar by none other than Putin himself.
My father, having only a slim understanding of Disney films and parental duty, readily sold me for a ticket to Fiji and some matching luggage which, in hindsight, was probably the best deal he could have gotten given how malnourished I was. I know it seems like this story is going to a weird place but just hold on, okay? So after thirteen years in the Russian Ballet (All young Russian girls are required to join the ballet. It doesn’t matter if you have two left feet or prefer video games. Historically, every woman of Russian origin has been a Ballerina for at least 30% of her life) I was spotted once again by Putin during my solo exhibition performance of Annie. The part of Daddy Warbucks was played by a cardboard standee as my partner had only recently defected and was, I presume, currently being interrogated by Chinese Nationals somewhere outside of Putin’s reach.
So you’d think being a Russian ballerina I would have lovely feet, but in reality it was my hands that Putin was interested in. I have always had lovely hands. My father used to say I had the hands of a youthful Baba Yaga. I never knew what he meant but the man was usually three sheets to the wind on potato vodka so I am left assuming it was a compliment. During the pinnacle moment of the performance where Annie stabs Miss Hannigan in the throat with a knife and proclaims herself to be a daughter of Mother Russia, Putin stood on his chair and forced the performance to stop, declaring me to be the new Chest Oiler. Now, Kim Jun Un, who was visiting at the time, looked a little shocked, so you can imagine how those of us who were not completely psychotic thought of it. It made no difference. After I finished awashing myself in the blood of Miss Hannigan the performance ended and as I was leaving the theatre I was thrown unceremoniously into the trunk of a passing black car. I had, of course, expected this, making the tumble rather gracefully. You can take a ballerina off the stage, but can’t tag the stage from the ballerina.
Some time later after the customary sixty-three days of interrogation, wherein I was challenged to admit my complacency in American Communism (I never did break, praise be to Putin) I was taken to the Kremlin, given a new set of clothes and a tub of car wax and presented with Putin’s fresh shaven chest. This became my life for the next six years until, after having buffed and spit polished Putin’s chest, I was taken by a handler I had come to know as Madame Perdet. Putin had new orders for me. I was to travel to the United States, infiltrate their electoral process and, ultimately, ensure the election of Donald Trump in 2016. This was particularly interesting to me given we had only just begun to see reruns of The Apprentice in Russia and I was interested in the physics of his hairs as well as how he managed to appease his many wives (sexually) with such tiny Vienna sausage fingers. Putin told me I was his oily star, and when the President comes a’callin’ you must answer or else you disappear and everyone you love is told of your treachery.
Fast-forward some years later and I had yet to be activated. While finished my Undergrad in Visual Arts I joined local political protests, and while I am unsure of what I was protesting, I was told it was very important and it involved throwing many buckets of paint. In Russia this is just an average birthday party so it was like being back home. I met a lovely boy named Bobby who decided he wished to couple with me, but my handler in America, Mr. Turd Ferguson (I believe this is an alias, however he demands I call him by his full name) quickly put an end to that, and to Bobby’s promising football career, by breaking both his knees in a bar brawl outside of a Hooters.
After that Bobby succumbed to the drink, as weak willed men are want to do, and I was told by Mr. Turd Ferguson that the time had come to point the ranks of the Republican Party. I was confused, as the values praised by this party seemed very reminiscent of those at home and not at all the sort of values that I had learned during my education in the Liberal Arts. I was assured that this was wholly American, and that I was about to see some, and I quote, real interesting shit go down.
I must admit I was so pleased to see Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Nominee. Back home is a woman ever tried anything like this she would… well, nothing bad would happen to her. It would really depend entirely on her ballet background first and foremost. Ultimately she would probably be passed over for a man, whether or not he was more competent than her. In fact, our general election back home involves six weeks of drinking until the population is in a blackout haze and incapable of even the most basic commands beyond ‘sign here’. On more than one occasion a hungover family man has come from his stupor to discover he has sentenced his entire family to the gulag. Putin finds the whole thing very hilarious.
Where was I? Oh yes. Ultimately I was activated by Turd Ferguson and sent in to corrupt the vote. Over the last two years I have thrown many chairs and hacked many emails, but none ever brought me pleasure. I was frightened, realizing that this country that had adopted me was more home than Russia ever could be, and I was actively contributing to its downfall. I did what I could; I hacked Mr. Trump’s emails, his taxes, all of it, but every time I went to meet with a contact in the news to release the information I would find that individual mysteriously strung up by their own entrails. Quite peculiar.
As I write this to you, Andrew, I am at a loss. Trump is now the President-Elect. Hillary Clinton has not been seen for weeks, and I have been summoned back to Moscow by Madame Perdet. Turd Ferguson would not meet with me prior to my boat leaving New York. I am frightened at what awaits me back home. My hands are not dry and paper cut from weeks of writing letters and stuffy envelopes. What Putin expects to find when I arrive back in Moscow is a young, vivacious young woman with the glistening hands of a Russian child. What he will find is a cynical American woman who has seen the true underbelly of the world and been helpless to stop the impending doom. I pray for you Andrew, as I have prayed for my homeland so many times before.
Yours Sincerely,
Katarina Savatzki

An Open Letter to the BC Teachers’ Federation – A Reflection on Military “Propaganda”

Note: The following letter was forwarded to me and is reprinted here with the author’s permission. The individual has asked that they remain anonymous to prevent any internal backlash. As today is Remembrance Day here in Canada, I felt obligated to reprint it today more than ever. 

Dear Sir or Madam,

It is regrettably with a heavy heart that I find myself writing to you today, and I wish to direct these words to whomever is responsible for the approval and creation of the poster found in the link included below:

http://bctf.ca/uploadedFiles/Public/SocialJustice/Programs/GlobalEd/Military_Recruitement_Web.pdf

This poster was brought to my attention today by a colleague, and it is my understanding that it owes it’s creation to the Social Justice department of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation. I must admit that my initial feelings upon seeing this poster were that of outrage. Tempted as I was to call your organization and lodge a complaint, I decided instead to think about what I had seen and why someone might have thought that the creation and distribution of such nonsense might have been a good idea in the first place. As the afternoon wore on, I cooled off enough to get my thoughts in order and came to the conclusion that perhaps the individual or individuals, whatever the case may be, that generated this work may just be ignorant as to the function of the Canadian Armed Forces. Perhaps it was a case of best intentions gone horribly wrong, or maybe the heart was in the right place but the head was firmly stuck up the arse?

Whatever the case may be, this issue still needs to be addressed as I think the author of this work failed to take a number of things into consideration. But I must start with disclosing the fact that I am currently an active serving member of the CAF with 17 years of service, with multiple tours of duty, and many numerous operations both domestic and international. So perhaps my opinions on this subject does contain a certain amount of bias. That being said, when it comes to social issues facing Canadians today you won’t find a stronger supporter than me. I truly believe that the level of social development this country has achieved is what has made us a truly wonderful society. And although there is always room for improvement, you would be hard pressed finding a more diverse or inclusive land to live in. Values like these are what makes us unique in many regards, and many across the globe hold us in high esteem and as a beacon of hope for the rest of the world to emulate. It is values like these that make me proud to call myself a Canadian, and it is values like these and the people that hold them dear that I would do anything to protect. Which, as it happens, is why I do what I do. So that is why it breaks my heart to see those who claim to fight for social justice slander those of us who actively fight to protect it.

So lets look at the poster. Your poster is divided into two parts, or at least it is laid out that way on your website. The top half as I am looking at it asks “Are You Thinking About The Military?” in an uneven and gritty font seen often in numerous anti-drug posters from the 80’s, no doubt this was done to really jump out and grab the attention of the youth you are so worried about losing to the brainwashing of Canada’s mighty and fearsome military juggernaut. The rest of the first page goes on to encourage prospective recruits to ask questions to themselves, their family, and their recruiter. Now this portion I can totally get behind 100%, as these are all very good and important questions that should be asked before making a decision. Pursuing any career requires plenty of foresight and careful consideration, and the military is no different. What irks me is not the first page, which is good food for thought for anyone toying with the idea of a career in defense, but the second page.

Here, the gears get switched here as the author(s) attempt to build a case against the defense of their own country. The first point on the poster encourages the readers to raise awareness with teachers that military recruiting is a social justice issue. That is false. Military recruiting is no more a social justice issue than picking up after your dog is an environmental issue, or losing a loonie in the couch cushions is an economic issue.

The next two bullets instructs teachers to report the sightings of recruiters to their unions, and for students to report the same to their teachers. In this case it feels like the creator is somehow drawing comparisons that men and women in uniform should be treated no differently than some stranger in a dirty trench coat skulking down the halls of a public school. Not to mention missing the fact that recruiters do not show up unannounced and uninvited to places of learning. When they do show up, it  is arranged ahead of time and usually coincides with a career day or a job fair. Military recruiters do not, I repeat do not hide outside in the bushes ready to grab the first kid they see and throw them in the back of a cargo truck to be shipped off to war. Really the whole tone of this second page is rather alarmist while being short on actual facts.

Bullet number four encourages educators to teach all sides of the story to the students, as well as the sobering facts and figures that come with it. This I actually do respect and encourage as well. However if the teachers who are supposedly teaching all sides of the story from an unbiased perspective are the same ones who can’t tell the difference between recruiters and pedophiles lurking in the halls, then I think that any hope on encouraging fair and thoughtful discussions in our classrooms is probably lost.

Moving on, point five encourages us to support counter-recruitment programs in schools. Well we certainly don’t want our kids to find jobs, do we? No, better to get an arts degree and live in your parents basement suite until you’re 38. Point six, pretty much just an extension of point five. The materials used I imagine are probably construction paper, glue sticks, and lies.

Point seven provides a link to another webpage, one that at first I couldn’t tell if it was actually being serious or not. At times, Operation Objection seems to depart from reality altogether and devolve into some sort of self parody that had me scratching my head in confusion. If these are the kinds of resources your department is using as a tool for developing social justice policies, then I think you may need to pump the brakes and take two steps back from the whole campaign while you give your head a shake. At the very least try to reach out to other groups and get some educated opinions on defense policy, and try not to rely solely on a website that claims that the cadet program is Canada’s effort to raise an army of child soldiers. Really, I can’t even be upset with them because the nonsense being spewed is so surreal.

The next point encourages the public to do what they can to counter “military propaganda”. Now, I’m not sure what you consider military propaganda to be, and quite frankly I’m a little bit confused by this one. With a budget of only 0.9% of the country’s GDP, we can’t even afford to keep our aging aircraft flying, let alone run some sort of slick propaganda machine to brain wash the masses. What exactly do you consider propaganda to be in this case anyway? Would that be recruitment posters? Cause that’s not actually propaganda, those are the equivalent to “Help Wanted” adds. I’m sure you don’t open the news paper in the morning, flip to the classifieds, and say to yourself “Aha! There’s a job opening at Sears, this is a prime example of Retail Propaganda!”. Of course you don’t, that would be very silly. The rest of the points on the poster I’m not going to bother touching, it’s late here and if you haven’t figured it out yet then a few more lines probably won’t help any.

I’ll finish this off by saying that despite your best intentions, I found this poster to be grossly offensive and I consider it a personal slap to the face after spending the last 17 years serving my country and people the best way I knew how. If there is anything you can take away from this letter, let it be this. We’re not monsters, murderers, political party hacks, or shills for the military industrial complex. We are public servants, nothing more nothing less. And we take great pride in serving the public, even when at times the public doesn’t seem to reciprocate those feelings. We do our jobs the best we can, despite the fact that we are short on equipment, funding, and people. Somehow we still manage to get the job done, despite all these challenges. And despite the great cost that all to often comes with the job. The hardships, the injuries, the fractured families, the lives lost, all to serve the public.

To serve Canada, the people, and all they stand for, that’s what they do. And for your department to spit in the face of all we have accomplished, all we have sacrificed, and have the audacity to call that “social justice”? Well, I guess some people just don’t get it. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day, and I will go to the ceremony and pay my respects to those who have fallen. Those who decided to give instead of take. Then I will go home, pour myself a drink, and think long and hard about the friends I’ve seen come and go through the years. Those who gave and were injured in such ways that they couldn’t give any more, those who became frustrated at the bureaucratic red tape and the disrespect from misguided campaigns such as this and left the service frustrated and broken, and those who gave their lives because at the end of the day there was nothing left to give. I will think of them all for a long time, about who they were, what they did, and what they stood for. I shall reflect on them for a long time. Then I will think about your department, this campaign of yours, and all the good it has achieved.

I won’t have to think about that for very long.
Regards,

[Redacted]

 

Note: Because today is Remembrance Day, and in light of the above message being spread by the BC Teacher’s Federation, it seems appropriate to end this post with In Flanders Field by John McCrae, composed on the battlefield on May 3rd, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

An Open Letter to John Connolly

Dear John Connolly,

I’ll be the first to admit, I should be busy reading A Time of Torment, which was just (mercifully) released in North America. There is a bonus working in a book store, even if it is a mass retailer. The moment I realized Torment was released I was able to leave our lunch room and ravenously search our shelves until, upon realizing I couldn’t find our five copies (Five? Only five! Blasphemy!) demand assistance from my coworkers to whom I promised a shiny quarter to the first person who could hand me a copy. The shiny quarter ended up going to my boss, who located Torment in the mystery section. We generally shelve your books under general fiction because of its beautiful culmination of elements taken from different genres. On more than one occasion I have found it in horror and mentally decried the foolishness of my coworkers. Yes, it is horror; yes, it is mystery; yes, it is paranormal and at times, when Rachel makes her appearance, a tiny bit romantic. It is all that and so much more. Charlie Parker is so much more.

I began following the story of Charlie Parker around the time The Reapers was first released. It was the first of your novels that I read. I am a sucker for assassins and banter and blood splatter. It seemed right up my alley. I loved it enough to hunt down your other work, not realizing that Charlie Parker was the true antihero of the series. I was easily smitten by his sarcasm, his nobility, and oh, the fact that he is being flipping haunted by his dead wife and daughter holy shit this is amazing oh my god oh my god homaigawd. 

Sorry, I lost my head there a bit. I’m a little madly in love with your writing (and your wry Irish wit which, if my Irish relatives are any indication, is a national thing. We Canadians aren’t nearly as exceptional in the biting sarcasm and smarm.) And that is precisely why I write this open letter to you today.

For however many years your writing has accompanied me through my various phases in life. From hospitals to parental divorce to marriage and finally, into my own timid foray into writing. Charlie Parker has accompanied me every step of the way and, perhaps more importantly, challenged me.

No, that isn’t quite right. Parker doesn’t challenge me. At least, not in the way I mean. But you do. Your writing does. I’ve read and reread every book of yours multiple times. Reading them as a teenager, and into very young adulthood, they were just fascinating adventures into the human condition, a remarkable blend of paranormal, supernatural, and violence, which really just rings all my metaphorical bells. But as an adult, now educated and having taken numerous classes where the focus was primarily on analyzing literature, I see so much more in your work.

I see the tiny threads connecting each story. I see the way in which Parker’s fate is predetermined now and he, having died and returned to the natural world, is now an active participant in his own destiny. He has embraced it, or appears to in my mind. Granted, I am only on page 137 of A Time of Torment. Anything could happen.

And his meeting with the Collector at the beginning? Oh my god, I nearly peed myself from the level of badassery that was spilling from the pages.

Since I’ve begun to reread the series, yet again, I’ve taken my time with each novel. I’ve searched for hints of things to come. The exact moment I realized I needed to start paying attention was when Sam, I think in The Wolf in Winter, handed Charlie a cross made of sticks and told him it was to protect him. That was it. I knew it. Never has a series captured my attention and forced me to utilize so much of my memory to try and piece together the what if’s and what’s to come’s.

And you’ve given your readers an honest chance. That’s what I love about the Charlie Parker stories, more than anything. Deep reading aside, any dedicated fan (as I like to call myself) has an honest chance to guess what might happen on the next page, in the next chapter, in the next book.

And yet you continue to shock me, book after book. There is no denying your skill to engage the readers and create beautiful imagery melded with real, honest to god people with faults and hopes and downfalls.

It makes me profoundly jealous. I know your literary prowess didn’t appear overnight; even now I reread Every Dead Thing and some points make me cringe and think Now that might just be a bit too much. Reading your work in order, I can see the transition, and the trepidation as the supernatural and unreal becomes more prolific and the characters begin to test their limits.

It is, for a lack of a better word, glorious. You, sir, are a phenomenal author, and it makes me horribly jealous.

Thank you, for that. No. I mean it. Honestly and without an ounce of sarcasm (which anyone who knows me can tell you is quite remarkable in itself), thank you for making me want to be a better author. Thank you for making me look at my own writing and see the borders I have drawn around it. Thank you for unknowingly telling me to set fire to those borders and draw characters out of flame and ash and send them out into the world.

Thank you for Charlie Parker and all he has suffered. Thank you for Angel and Louis, who are my favorite assassins of all time. Thank you for Sam, for the subtle ways you have made her more than a child needing to be protected, for giving her a greater purpose. Thank you for all the stories, and the many more to come (I hope.)

Thank you so much for making me want to be a better author.

Most sincerely,

Kathleen Sawisky