Archive for the ‘This might be a bit off topic, but…’ category

CJSR Homelessness Marathon




Dr. Hook: 1. Drake: 0.


Recently, the former Degrassi: The Next Generation actor turned rapper Drake decided to vent on Twitter. And with over 14 MILLION FOLLOWERS, whatever he has a problem with is going to get noticed. Now, did he take to social media to point out the dangers of climate change, poverty, or war? Did he bring up something all his YOLO followers could relate to? Was it an issue that could unite all humanity?!

Well, no. He was mad he didn’t get on the cover of Rolling Stone. EVEN THOUGH he was supposed to. But then an actor died and he was relegated to just being the feature interview in a magazine read by millions of people, some of whom don’t even follow him on Twitter yet. For most, such a slight is unimaginable, but then again most folks didn’t have a friend whose dad happened to be an agent and could get them on a television show at age 15. Being upset that the media, which created his success, could limit his rise to the top in any way must be a real blow to the ego. It’s like missing an easy slam dunk!

Or…is that why he was angry? Could it actually be for the following two reasons?

1. When Joey Ramone passed away, Rolling Stone kept Destiny’s Child on the cover. 

Destiny Stone

2. When Joe Strummer passed away, Rolling Stone kept Justin Timberlake on the cover.    

Timberlake Stone

Obviously Drake was aware of this. And when you look at it that way, it’s gotta hurt!

Mickey Mouse in Vietnam


Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: Fasting with Fast Food


I like eating.

Anyone who knows me, knows how true this statement is. Whether they’ve made the mistake of looking away from their dinner for more than two seconds, or accidentally tell me they’ve ordered pizza, one of my best skills is making food disappear.

See what I mean?

So, when the Mustard Seed put out a challenge for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, I thought the most difficult of all the Awareness Adventures would be to cut down on how much I eat everyday. By a lot. So for the last week:

1– I haven’t eaten breakfast.
2– I haven’t snacked.
3– I have eaten lunch and dinner at specific times. No eating outside those two meal windows.
4- Meals I do eat are smaller portions than normal. No food comas allowed. 
– All the meals have been inexpensive, high calorie, and accessible to the inner city community.

I’ve tried to adopt the routine that directs life on the street: organizing your day around when you can eat. If you aren’t at an inner city community agency when food is served, it means you’ve missed a meal, or maybe even having food that entire day. This danger causes a lot of stress, and put limits on health, well-being, and happiness.

Aside from my 5 point eating plan, I tried to keep everything else in my schedule the same. This meant working full-time, exercising 1 to 2 hours a day, and going to the social events I’d promised Facebook I’d be attending. At first, it was kind of fun not to eat any vegetables, but after a few days I was actually craving broccoli. And carrots. When all of a sudden the foods you’re used to having when you’re hungry (or just feel like eating because you’re bored), are out of reach, it changes your daily frame of mind.

Food becomes the main priority. Going to bed with your stomach grumbling becomes the new norm. After a few days, my energy levels dropped, exercising became harder, and it took my body longer to recover. Sleeping more seemed like a sneaky way of countering this, but since homeless people don’t have that option, I instead started sleeping less every night – from 7-8 hours to 5-6. Focusing on tasks was more difficult, and articulating ideas was harder than usual.

Then, 5 days in, I started getting a sore throat, which soon turned into a harsh cough. Normally, when I get run-down and feeling sick, I eat lots of good food, and get lots of rest. Unfortunately, homeless folks don’t have that option either, and so I stuck to my diet plan. There’s vitamin C in cheap bologna, right?

On the last day of the fasting challenge, an awful feeling in my stomach was added to my symptoms. My body was starting to get really mad at me. It was my final indication of what it’s like to be homeless everyday. To set your routine around eating. To be worried about going hungry. To be tired. To have your body feeling sore. To get sick, and not have an easy way of getting better.  And then, while facing these problems on a daily basis, the homeless have to confront other issues, like finding work, shelter, and staying warm.

Good food goes a long way to giving folks a foundation to take on these other problems. To contrast a week of eating meals people in the inner city have access to, for the next week I’m going to do the reverse: eat balanced, healthy meals which are unavailable to the homeless.  It’ll be more expensive, but I’m guessing the benefits will outweigh the monetary cost.

Canadian Pie


I admit it. I’m not the most patriotic Canadian. I don’t think we’re all that polite. I don’t think we can handle cold weather better than anyone else. Heck, I don’t even think we’re all that good at hockey. But the one thing I was always proud of, what made us stand out when you compared and contrasted the maple leaf with other equally ridiculous national symbols…was that when it came to taking out politicians, we preferred pie to guns. Can you imagine John Wilkes Booth deciding to use banana cream, pumpkin, or American apple pie on Abraham Lincoln? Or a JFK Pie Conspiracy? No, you can’t, because that was in the United States, not Canada. Here, Thomas D’Arcy McGee notwithstanding, Canadians use pie. Eh?

That changed the other night in Montreal. Montreal, by the way, is my favorite city. I like it even more than Red Deer.

A few summers ago, I was in Quebec to learn French. I was lucky enough to get into a program which allowed me to study there for 5 weeks – which I spent in a town called Trois-Rivières. The city is mostly Francophone. In a manner of speaking, I didn’t exactly fit in. During my first few days there, I was eating in a restaurant, and was asked by an obviously concerned waitress if I knew where I was, and if I needed help getting out of town. She relaxed when I told her I was there to learn French, and didn’t stumble into the city by accident.

I, uh, studied hard, and visited Montreal when French Camp was over. By this time, I was ready to speak French in public, to anybody. My bravery had me ordering pad thai en francias, but as I spoke the server looked at me with a blank stare. I switched to another phrase and spoke slower. Still blank. I mentioned poutine. No luck. I harnessed all my powers of the French language and it still did no good. I was ready to concede defeat – jump on a plane back to Alberta and never mention jambon or fromage encore – when the server said: “I don’t speak French.”

My confidence restored, I thought about the diversity of Montreal, where Francophones and Anglophones lived side by side, and differences in language didn’t stop the city from being even better than Red Deer. Later, I visited the Metropolis Theatre, for a Dumas concert – a band I had never heard of before going to Quebec. French-speaking and amazing, I marveled at how Dumas had such a strong following – packing the Metropolis – but on the other side of the country not many people had heard of ’em at all.

My time in Montreal made me feel something unusual: patriotic. Here was this myriad of cultures, and I felt a connection to it, and more importantly, I wanted to participate in it. That’s my version of patriotism – being excited about positive community involvement. So when I saw the news reports saying a man had opened fire at the Metropolis, where Quebec’s new premier was giving her victory speech, my heart sunk. This is something new to modern Canada – differences heightening tensions, rather than enlivening experiences. It isn’t something we’re used to.

Luckily though, there’s another thing about Canadians I like; our typical lack of extremism. Pies are still the normal weapon of radical political protest, not guns. Most people try to understand each other’s differences, and that makes our communities stronger, not weaker.

So if you want to be patriotic, don’t tell folks from other countries we’re more polite, better hockey players or snow shovellers. Tell them you come from a country that believes in understanding differences and building off them. Inclusion is the name of the game, not being trapped by your own cultural nuances or language. And when somebody tries to disrupt that positive relationship with violence, you throw a pie in their face and say no.


The Joke’s on You, Democracy!


“Nardwuar vs. Jean Chrétien” 

When I first heard this on The Evaporators’ album I Gotta Rash, I thought the Prime Minister of Canada was just kidding around.

Of course he was, but the joke was on dissent and protest in Canada.

getting your finger on the pulse of google searches


this is NOT an internet gumshoe

At the end of the year, the nice folks at WordPress send an email out to blogpeople (is that the politically correct term?) giving stats on how many people visited their blog, which post was the most popular, etc. Each blogperson can then post these stats on their blog, to show off to others how many visitors they had in 2010.

Since it’s common knowledge that millions of people visit this site everyday, the hardworking legions here at thepastisunwritten (dotcom) thought it might be better to post some of the more…unusual…funny…interesting…scary…google searches that led people to this site. Except for the very last one, these are all unedited. One thing is for sure, the modern day gumshoes of the internetmachine sure don’t search like they used to.


Multiple Choice Exam to Restore Sanity and/or Fear


Lindsay Sidders Hodgins is from Edmonton and is currently a PhD student at the University of Toronto (but don’t hold that against her). She is also the Rally Correspondent for The Past Is Unwritten, and as such she went trippin’ on down to The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear held this past weekend in Washington, D.C.

I sat down with Lindsay in Internetland to ask her about her experience at the rally. I then took that interview and turned it into a multiple choice exam.  You’ve been to the rally/watched it online. You’ve read about the rally on Fox News/Al Jazeera. Now take the test.


Rally to Restore Sanity


March to Keep Fear Alive