Tasty, Tasty Lab Meat

Meat grown in a lab is something that scientists have been working on for a long time, and rightly so. Meat is expensive, taking up a huge amount of resources including time, energy and land. Factory meat is typically a terrible place for the animals themselves, usually corralled into small cages, fed poor diets, and treated poorly. There’s a number of videos that show people just how cruelly some of the animals are treated. Chickens with beaks cut off, cows being beaten, that sort of thing. Videos like these have changed millions of peoples minds, including a number of famous celebrities like musician Paul McCartney, director James Cameron, and actress Michelle Pfeiffer.

Not only is meat expensive, there’s some health issues as well. Cattle are fed hormones to make them grow fatter, pigs are fed a steady diet of antibiotics to prevent them from falling ill, and chickens are given Prozac to deal with the existential issue of being a chicken. Not only that, but you have to remember that meat comes from animals, and animals defecate on a regular basis. Although current practices tend to keep most of the shit off of your burger, you have to keep in mind that if you’ve eaten a steak or a drumstick, then you’ve definitely ingested some poop at one time or another.

There’s only one problem though; meat is really, really delicious. I mean, it’s amazing. Meat is simply a treat to prepare. Due to its protein cellular structure, it reacts much differently than grains, fruits, roots or vegetables. You can’t roast a potato the same way you can roast a roast. And this is coming from a guy who loves potatoes. You cant slow cook broccoli in a smoker for several hours. Vegans and vegetarians have the luxury of their choice because of the knowledge we have gained as a species in regards to plant diets. Hundreds of years ago, if you wanted to survive, you’d need meat protein.

Right now though, our meat consumption is not sustainable, and the world is demanding more of it. What if you could grow meat the way you grow vegetables? What if, under certain conditions, you could grow a lamb shank or a pork shoulder? Would that change the game, and would we be able to eat as much meat as we’d like without having to pen cattle and coup chickens up in cages?

Many vegans and vegetarians aren’t forgoing meat because they don’t enjoy it or they have certain dietary restrictions. They’re choosing to skip the steak because they feel bad for the animals. If the meat is grown in a lab, then no animal is actually harmed. In this light, lab grown meat could be considered ‘vegan meat’, and not that tofurkey nonsense. This would actually be meat without any cruelty or hormones or farm factory practices. If meat is grown in a lab, then you can control every aspect of it. You could control its fat content, whether it was more like beef or veal. In the future, you could have a mixture of meat grown to your specifications, like chickenfish, or quailmutton. The possibilities are endless.

Well, a group of people at Memphis Meats are working on those sort of things as we speak. They are growing meat, and it actually tastes like meat. They’re using animal cells to create meatballs  It’s better for the environment, it’s better for people, and you can certainly better for the animals. Synthetic meat is certainly something we’ll all be hearing about in the near future.

Would you eat it though? For a lot of people, even the idea of meat grown in a petri dish is a turn off. Would people become snobbier about food than they already are? Would restaurant advertise that they serve animal meat instead of lab meat? But what if you couldn’t tell the difference? Would a black market form, an secret underground meat market, where high powered cartels test meat the same way they cocaine?

What will happen to the farm lands of the world? A monstrous portion of our land is devoted to the production of meat, whether directly, or the vast amount of grains they consume. Not only would farms that dealt in livestock be affected, but the huge amount of land that would suddenly become unnecessary. Just as driverless cars are coming and will change the way we use transportation, synthetic meat is coming and it will absolutely change not only our diets, but our farmlands as well.

Would I eat meat grown in a lab? You can certainly bet I would. I’ve eaten plenty of weird things, and I plan on eating more weird things. There’s only one caveat; meat should be prepared to order, and this man likes his steaks rare as the dickens.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton.

p.s. I once had a can of silkworm larvae once, I brought to a party. No one, including myself, could actually eat one. They smelled absolutely nasty.


This was a horrible idea.



The Three Amigos Bro Out

In the wake of all the world political gaffs lately, it’s nice to see some pleasantries being exchanged for once. The three leaders of the nations representing North America met yesterday, in what was dubbed the ‘Three Amigos Summit’. This meeting included Barack Obama, the President of the United States, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and of course, our own Justin Trudeau. They took photos, shook hands, made small talk, and talked about the three nations.


‘Alright, now I want you both to spin me around’¹

They talked about a number of issues, most of the issues were things they could all agree on, relatively. First was climate change. They all want to push for 50 percent of electrical energy to come from clean sources, and they’ve set the target date for 2025, which is less than a decade away. Trade was another hot topic. As the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is currently stalled, they are continuing to renegotiate the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), mostly to adjust for current economic instability. Border control is going to change as well, as the three countries are working on the NEXUS (I can’t actually find what this acronym stands for, or even if it is an acronym) system, which would allow frequent, low risk travellers privileges to cross the borders. A big topic was human rights, most notably towards the LGBTQ community, as well as indigenous women in all three countries.

So I’m awfully glad they sat down to have a yap over whatever they happened to be serving at Parliament Hill. Some big topics came up, Obama gave a nice speech calling Canadians his besties, I’m certain there was a couple of fist bumps and high fives, and maybe, behind the scenes, they had a couple of beers and tequila shots and lamented about how being the leader of the nation was a pretty difficult job.

Does this meeting and what they discussed actually matter, though?

One of the major problems with this meeting is that Obama is going to be leaving the White House pretty soon, and the following establishment might not agree to the same terns that Obama has. It’s hard to say what Hillary will do. She gone quiet in regards to NAFTA, a trade agreement her husband and former US President Bill Clinton championed. She’s decided against the TPP, even though she was behind it during her tenure as Secretary of State. Understanding the fact that it’s a poisonous topic at the moment, she may be turning her back on the idea due to politics, and pull a 180 if elected. Trump, on the other hand, would nullify most of the ideas laid out, especially in regards to climate change, the TPP, and the NEXUX system. All this talk might be just that. Talk.

In a world where building connections and bridges between nations would benefit everyone and make the world a smaller place, Brexit has shown us that many still want to build walls. Hell, that’s one of the reasons that Trump became so popular in the first place, and he’s suggesting a literal wall, not just a metaphoric one. Free trade is akin to a four letter word among both left and right wing demagogues. A war still rages in Mexico over a fail drug policy that’s been in affect for decades. Income inequality still rises in the United States.

Saying yes to change is difficult. It means challenging laws, it means reconfiguring systems of thought, it requires ideals to malleable, it needs research and discussion and planning. On the other hand, saying no is easy. It means there’s no need to grow, to learn, to evolve. Building a bridge is difficult, especially if you’re going to be bringing a lot of people over it. You need engineers, and planners, and lawyers, and construction experts. Building a wall is easier. You need steel and concrete and time to build a bridge that would allow a car to pass over it. If you want to stop a car with a wall, all you need to do is put some shit in front of it.


All I had to do was put up some bricks and some mortar, and BOOM, car problem solved.²

Maybe that’s my issue with the meeting of the Three Amigos. They’re talking about how to build bridges, when the discussion that should be taking place is this; why does everyone want to start building walls?

Walls don’t work. Walls are meant to keep baddies out, and they rarely succeed. And in the process of trying to keep the baddies out, you end up stifling the flow of information. In a world where information is power, it’s strange to see everyone give that up for a sense of false security.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s.In a perfect world, they would have all taken time to have an old fashioned wrastle

¹ © Reuters/Chris Wattie

² Image taken from Wikimages

Tetris – The Movie

I’m not certain I even need to describe Tetris. It’s considered by many to be the greatest video game of all time. It has sold over a hundred million copies since it’s debut back in 1984, from it’s humble beginnings in mother Russia. Players manipulate puzzle pieces called ‘tetrominoes’ on a screen as the pieces fall to the bottom. If the player is able to create a horizontal line without any gaps, then the line vanishes, points are distributed, and the game continues. If the player fills the screen with pieces without creating lines, then the game is over.


I shouldn’t have to explain Tetris.¹

It’s hard to fathom exactly how far the cultural impact of Tetris is felt. Everyone I know has played Tetris at some point. There’s been hundreds of puzzle games that owe their concept to Tetris. The famed Tetris song, which is actually a Russian folk song called ‘Korobeiniki’, is instantly recognizable. Studies have been done that suggest that the mind is more efficient after playing Tetris, and this is even referred to as the ‘Tetris Effect’. Tetris truly is a video game masterpiece.

Here’s what the original song sounds like.

And they are making a movie about it.

Wait, did I say one movie? Because now they’re thinking about expanding the movie into a Trilogy. The story I’ve linked states it’s pretty much a done deal, but I’m still reeling over the fact they are making one Tetris film. A movie, about Tetris. There is going to be a movie based on a puzzle game where the objective is to create lines with geometry shapes. I am literally scratching my head right now, as the idea of basing a movie on the Tetris franchise is making my scalp itchy and bothersome.

Now, it would be absolutely fascinating if it told the story of the developer of Tetris, one Alexey Pajitnov. I mean, here’s a guy who built this little game for the Academy of Science of the USSR, and it exploded into the phenomenon it is today. A game created and released just before the end of the cold war. The man went on to work for Microsoft. That would make for an interesting movie, a Russian man who left his legacy on the world with Tetris going on to work for the largest software company on the planet.

But the film we’re going to see is apparently a Action Sci-fi Adventure picture, shot in China in 2017, with a budget of $80 million dollars. They really do seem bent on making a trilogy of it, too.

I’m more than a little hesitant, because:

A) Hollywood typically doesn’t handle movies based on games very well.

B) The Hobbit, the masterful book by J.R Tolkien, was a stretch at three film.

C) It’s a game about solving a puzzle.

Now, movies in the past based on games have done well in the past, and they’ve also done miserably. Clue, released in 1985 with Tim Curry, was a great example of a board game turned into a live action movie. It was funny, well written, and featured three different endings, with different endings playing in different theatres. Battleship, released in 2012 with Liam Neeson and Rihanna, was a bad example of a board game turned into a live action movie. It wasn’t very good, and was panned by critics.

Video game movie adaptations have fared much worse. There’s not a lot of good examples of great movies based on video games, in fact, most of them are terrible. Actually, I’m certain every single one of them is terrible. Here’s a list from Wikipedia. Fun fact, not one of them managed to get over a fifty percent rating on either Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic. Not one. There’s movies based on gaming that are a novel, well thought out approach, like Tron and WarGames. But if your movie is going to be based on an actual game with the intention of a theatrical release, then the odds of it being actually good is slim. Out of the 29 movies made based on a video game, zero of them were actually worth watching.


Even at ten years old I knew this was bad.²

Video games are great at being video games. They are terrible at being movies. Tetris as a game is worth playing and challenging. If you’re wondering how the movies are going to turn out, I might be able to help you solve that problem. They are going to be atrocious.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I lied. Price of Persia scored a 50/100 on Metacritic, and Mortal Kombat scored 58/100.

p.s.s. Don’t sit here and tell me that Mortal Combat was good. It wasn’t. Go watch it again and find out I’m right.

¹ Picture taken from Wikipedia.

² Picture taken from thepunkeffect.com

The Kingdom, the Trump, and the Footy

The fallout from the exiting of the United Kingdom from the European Union is still being felt across the globe. Investors are still scrambling, with many investors, banks, and insurers trying their damndest to get off of the ship. Trump landed in Scotland and in his usual deafness to the current state of affairs tweeted congratulations to the country for the Brexit vote, even though the majority of the Scottish people voted to stay.


The man is pure satire fodder

No games is right Mr. Trump. Not only did Britain fail the UK in the Brexit vote and is now leaving the EU, but they also lost the football match against Iceland and have to leave Euro 2016. Just like David Cameron decided it was time to step down as the Prime Minister of the country, manager Roy Hogdson of the British team called it quits and stepped down after their humiliating defeat. They say time flows like a river, but this is history repeating itself so quickly it might as well be the tail end of a catheter stuck in the mouth.

There is a growing rise of dissatisfaction in the western world at the moment, in both the United States and the United Kingdom, with striking parallels. Both countries are unhappy with the status quo, and they want change, real drastic change. For the UK, they were sending £350 million to the European Union every week. Every week! Those are pounds, people. This isn’t the colorful fun money we have here in Canadiana. The Leave campaign promised that £350 million would go back into the National Health Services. They even advertised it on buses.


It was on the side of a bus, so that means it has to be true

They voted to leave. Great, I am now on board. We’ve got another 350 million kilograms of sweet cheddar to grease the mighty wheels of public health services. Right? What do you mean, you can’t actually do that and that you never made that claim? You had it on buses and it was all over your website. Why did you wipe almost all of your website clean of the promises you made?

Real talk for a second. The people in charge of the Brexit movement, guys like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, have flat out lied to the British public. Not did the movement lie about what they were going to do with the money, they also didn’t mention all the money the UK got in return. I’m not talking about money that would trickle back in through the economic boon of open borders with the rest of the EU. I’m talking about cold hard cash they got back as a rebate. They manipulated numbers to scare people into voting to leave.

At least they had the decency to manipulate the numbers that existed, because when you compare this to Trump, he’s pulling numbers out of thin air like a magician who pulls cards out of his ass. There is simply no feasible way Trump can actually accomplish any of the tasks that he’s proposing. Great Wall of America? Not feasible. Banning Muslims from the US? Again, not even remotely feasible. Making America great again? Unless Trump decides to tax everyone like they did during the 1960’s, which strangely enough coincided with the highest economic growth decade in the last century, then you’re going to be getting more of the same not feasibleness.

I understand why people are angry and upset. I can fully appreciate it. The numbers don’t lie though. Economic prosperity is always correlated with high taxes on the rich. If you didn’t bother to click on any of the links that I provided, I’ll just flat out tell you; In the 1960’s, when the US truly became the juggernaut powerhouse it is, the income tax on the wealthy was at roughly 90%. The US didn’t crumble, investors didn’t leave, and the four horsemen of the Apocalypse didn’t come riding in to start the rapture. Instead, medical breakthroughs exploded, the US became the cultural hub of the world, and they even had time to stick a man on the moon.

Maybe you’re worried high taxes will affect you. Maybe you’re concerned people won’t work as hard if they have access to services. To be frank, if you’re reading this, you are not in that category, and you will never will be. You do not have hundreds of millions of assets strewn across the globe. You do not own a mega yacht with two helipads. But if you’re reading this and you happen to have a matching Ferrari for every outfit you own, maybe it’s time you started paying your fair share, because the roads you’re driving on were paid with taxes, and right now, they’re crumbling.

Sincerely, the Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Yes, I’m flat out stating that taxes are a good thing. It’s why we have public schools and hospitals and running water.

p.s.s. New logo! Thanks to the wonderful K.A.

¹ Image taken from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed.

² Image taken from leftfootforward.org

Meta Post – Milestone of a Thousand Pair of Eyes

So, I’ve been posting on this webzone for a little over a month now, and so far, things are going pretty hunky dory. With over forty posts, I’ve managed to get over a thousand views. To average it out, I’m batting about twenty-five views per post. That’s not bad, considering I’m not advertising it anywhere except Facebook and Twitter, and it’s not like I’m more popular online than I am offline.

All the major players on the blogging scene have a bunch of metrics and statistics that allow you to gauge how popular your blog is. I know the most popular day of my blog is Monday, for some odd reason. Also, it seems night owls enjoy my blog, as it’s usually being read at 3:00 am. I’m getting hits from all over the world; Japan, China, Germany, Malaysia, Peru, Australia, Austria and the UK have all been reading my stupid blog. Awesome!

I can tell exactly how many people have viewed each blog, I can determine where the clicks are coming from, whether it’s from Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, or when someone actually comes to my site to check it out directly. I can tag every post with buzzwords that might be trending, and then see what words are more popular than others. Not only that, but I get achievements every time I hit a milestone. The more I write, the more achievements I can earn.

As much as I love to crunch numbers and do data analysis, it can certainly make a guy question himself. It’s also worth mentioning that I’m not sure if the numbers are lining up. The first post I wrote was about Fort McMurray, and it was my most popular, according to the day I posted it. You see, the day I posted it, my site had 89 views in total. Almost a hundred! But when I check the Fort McMurray post, it’s calculated 15 views in total. That a difference of 74 views.

“Who cares, Mr. Charlton? Where’s your I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude? Where’s the laisser c’est faire spirit ? You haven’t given a flying fuck until now, what gives? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MR. CHARLTON???”

I’m not sure you were reading what I wrote above. They’re pooling raw data into my feed. I’m crunching numbers and tweaking code to try and improve the outcome. I’m learning garbage I never wanted to learn, like marketing and hashtag distributions. I’m reading how to game a system that everyone is gaming. Don’t you people get it? They’ve gamified writing!

They’re gamifying everything these days. Want to learn a new language? Level up with Duolingo, the free app for both IOS and Android. Feel like programming the next hot application? Try out Codecademy, and test your skills in a real-time environment. Are you such a dork that you will sit down and do math problems? Make that inner dork shine even brighter with Khan Academy, which hands out badges for learning calculus.

Those insidious bastards. It wasn’t enough to just write a blog, you had to put up a damn score. You know what this means? I’m not sure if you’ve ever sat down and played a video game with me. I’m not talking about something fluffy like Halo or Borderlands, where you run around and hang out and talk to each other, and share inventory, and have a grand ol’ time. I’m talking about the hardcore realm, like Ikaruga or Super Meat Boy or I Wanna be the Guy or Geometry Wars. I’m talking about gaming that’s meant to break people.

 fruitThose cherries will ruin your day

Now I’m writing like there’s a damn high score to achieve. That’s not good. Soon you’ll find me, hunched over a computer keyboard, fingers stained orange from Cheeze Pleazers. I’ll be up until four in the morning, writing about something stupid like potatoes or Pokémon. And you know what, it’s going to sneak up on me. I’m not going to notice this until it’s too late.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Took a week off last week to reflect on myself and all that jazz. I’d like to think of myself as a robot that can crank out words like an old school IBM, but I needed some me time. Lame posting of lousy articles with little research and a lack of time to resume as scheduled.

p.s.s. Schedule is one of those words that will make me judge a person in seconds. There’s the right way to pronounce it, and there’s the way where we can’t be friends anymore.

Brexiting Out

Well, isn’t this just ducky. If anyone has money in the stock market, I’m sorry most of your money is on fire. After news broke out the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, the United States stock market is tumbling, the Canadian dollar is trending downwards, and the British Pound is taking a pounding. The pound hit thirty year lows, which is really not a good thing. The world’s markets are still recovering from the 2008 crash, and Brexit didn’t help the situation. The crazy got dialed up a notch when the Prime Minister David Cameron tearfully resigned after the news was announced. It was an incredibly tight race. 52% wanted to leave the EU, 48% wanted to stay.

Judging from my feeds, anyone who thought the UK leaving the EU was a good idea is also the kind of person that invests in gold bars, has a bug out bag, and is secretly hoping one day the whole planet goes to hell so they can live out their Mad Max style fantasy. Romantic for a crazy person, sure, but if you happen to like living in a city and getting sushi every once and a while, the Brexit vote simply added further destabilization in a market that was already hurting.

Let’s talk about what the EU really is, first of all. It started out after WW2, when people decided that two world wars fought on their soil wasn’t a whole lot of fun. They figured that extreme nationalism was an issue, and wanted to create an environment of cooperation between nations as opposed to feuding. The Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957, and more and more nations got on board with the idea of working together on the same playing field. A whole bunch more treaties were signed (there was some serious litigation going on here, check out the Wikipedia page if you’re interested) and today we now have the European Union, which comprises of 28 nations.

If you’re a citizen of one of those nations, you can freely move from nation to nation without the use of a passport. You can also work in any one of the nations as well. It’s great for allowing the nations to keep their cultural identity while still allowing people, information and money to move freely in the union. Scientific information is easier to share in the Union, with numerous universities working together to further our pursuit of scientific gains. Mostly though, it’s about trade. The EU has adopted one currency, the Euro, and can trade freely within the EU as if it were one country. Countries that are constantly trading with each other are less likely to go to war, the theory is. The UK has always been a bit of an outlier, as it refused to adopt the Euro in favour of the Pound.

Now that the UK has left the EU, it’s going to have to spend a lot of money putting those fences back up. It’s going to cost the UK money to trade with the EU. New laws are going to have to be drafted, sanctions might be passed for a period of time. People from France, Sweden, Germany and a host of others are going to have to get out their passports if they want to head to Britain. The UK has decided to isolate itself further, and they were already on a damn island to begin with.

Scotland gave out a massive “Stay” vote, and now that the UK is leaving, they have announced they’re going to be having another referendum to determine whether or not to leave the UK. The United Kingdom may no longer be a united kingdom. Also to note, young people voted mostly to stay with the Union, and they are the ones who will have to live with the decision. So Scotland might leave, but the younger generation might take flight as well, leaving England to be a bastion of curmudgeons and sourpusses.

Here’s the weird thing. A lot of people who voted to “leave” are now regretting their decision. ‘What is the European Union’ became a massive Google search in the UK after the voting took place. It boggles the mind that people would do their research after the vote. This is another example of a select few fear mongers shouting Globalization and Soros and Illuminati out to scare a bunch of terribly misinformed people to vote in a manner that isn’t going to help them. In fact, I’m having a really hard time thinking who exactly is going to benefit from the Brexit.

The facts remain. The Brexit will hurt the UK’s economy, it could trigger the breakup of the UK itself, it forced the Prime Minister to resign, and it could cause trouble for the migrant workers in the UK, and the British workers abroad. The process will take years, though, so who knows? Maybe they’ll vote again to stay if enough old people die in the next couple months.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. George Soros actually bet the UK would leave and planned accordingly. He warned of the Brexit, but still managed to walk away smelling of roses. So, yay hedge fund managers? I mean, it’s nice to see someone having a good day while the rest of us pour gasoline on our savings.

Father’s Day

He’s in the room me and my brothers used to shared. He’s putting together the bed that he made from scratch, the one he built in his workshop, and I walk into the room. “Dad, you’re… you’re alive.” This is what I usually stammer out before he laughes, smiles and says “Well, I certainly feel alive!” Then the brothers are there, and mom shows up, and we’re all in the room I grew up in, laughing like we used to, laughing like nothing has happened.

Then I wake up.

I’ve had this dream a number of times now. It’s not a pleasant dream, it’s not a dream where I wake up feeling better about life. It feels like my father was taken away from our family again. Without Dad, every holiday feels emptier, every birthday feels like something is missing, and every Father’s day is a reminder not everyone still has their father in their lives. I’ve got no one to give a gift or a manly handshake to, so instead the only way I know how to honour my father is to talk about him.

My father is from IOCO, Port Moody, on the lower mainland. IOCO’s a weird little place, as it wasn’t really a municipality as it was an old oil refinery. It stands for Imperial Oil Company, and there was a little hamlet that was close by that took on the same name. My Dad was one of six children, and has an identical twin brother, my uncle Lee (If you were ever curious as to why I was named Sandy Lee Charlton, well, there’s your answer).

My father, like any intelligent person, despised working. He worked for CP Rail, and worked as a train conductor. When presented with the opportunity to work more on the road and make a lot of money, or stay in the Golden train yard closer to home, he took the job closer to home. To say that he didn’t particularly enjoy working at his job didn’t mean he wasn’t a hard worker. He instead, with my mom, invested in property around town and eventually outside of town. He was always painting or plumbing or repairing a number of houses around Golden.

He also had a massive workshop that he was constantly tinkering around in. The beds me and my brothers slept in were built in his workshop. There was a number of wooden toys we had that my father built, and not little tiny toys, massive toys planes we could ride on.  He was also a skilled electrician. It wasn’t unusual for a neighbor or a friend to drop off a television or a VCR, stating my Dad could have it because it no longer worked. Usually after an hour or two of doing repairs, we’d have another television in the house. At one point, there was fourteen televisions, six VCRs, and no cable. So there was fourteen televisions all playing the CBC at any given moment.

My father was also involved in the community quite a bit, going to meetings, volunteering to lend a hand. He also helped do a number of peoples taxes, insisting he do it for free. I learned after his death that he actually won a civic award for doing so. He was an amateur actor, and had a great deal of influence on both me and my brother (we both swept best actor for every year in high school. There’s ten years of Charlton on the trophies at Golden Secondary).

Out of all the memories of my father, from building stuff in the woodshop to getting on stage with him in a play, my fondest memories were of getting fire wood for the stove, and having to go to the dentist in Canmore. Getting fire wood was a pretty big ritual, it involved getting up at five, throwing together a quick lunch, then searching the backwoods for fallen trees you could cut up. Our home was heated by the fore stove, so it was necessary to gather wood for winter. The biggest was definitely Canmore. I had a weird mouth growing up, and it required a lot of hardware to straighten out my teeth. The only person qualitfied to work on me was in Canmore, so it required a two hour drive to and from the dentist. So that meant me and Dad were stuck in the car, chatting for four hours once a month. We got to know each other pretty well.


My Dad with me and Kelly. Sorry for the potato quality

If you’re old man is still alive, and you’re on good terms, take him out for lunch and give him a hug. My father isn’t around fortunately, but he left a legacy of helping his community, being a loving husband, and raising three kickass sons. He was a better man than most, and he’ll be sorely missed.

To my father, Laurence B. Charlton. I miss you every day and I love you tons.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. The upside to him not being around is I don’t have to buy him a gift today. That means I get to save like five bucks!

p.s.s. My father would have found that funny.


Eat Your Damn Potatoes

I’m angry right now. Actually, angry doesn’t describe how I’m feeling. Furious. Outraged. I’m so endlessly pissed off right now, I had to go put on my monkey hat to calm myself down.


The Monkey telling me to relax

I’m angry about potatoes. Or rather, what someone else said about potatoes. He does not eat potatoes. Said he stayed away from anything white, like rice, flour, and yes, potatoes. Potatoes. The goddamn staple of a healthy diet. It’s a massive stone in the food pyramid.

Now, there’s a lot of diet garbage out there people love to fall for. There’s the Paleo, or caveman diet, which excludes all foods existing after the Neolithic era, like dairy, grains, and legumes. This an insane diet, as I’m pretty sure most cave people didn’t live longer than the ripe old age of thirty. There’s the Maple Syrup diet, made popular by Beyoncé. It involves drinking nothing but sugar water with cayenne pepper, as well as giving up all of a persons sensibility. There’s the No Carb diet, which is a weird one because carbohydrates are the basic fuel source that allows a body to keep being a body. And on the more extreme ends of things, you could get on board with the Parasite diet, where you make friends with a tapeworm who helps you finish those extra helpings you so desperately crave.

I love to cook, and I usually try to make everyone with dietary restrictions happy. You’re a vegan? No problem! I can whip up a bunch of tasty dishes with only vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains and nuts. Allergic to fish? We’ll do lamb, lamb is delicious, we’ll make a mint sauce to go with it. You’re sensitive to gluten? Well, you’re probably full of shit and for whatever reason decided that the damn staff of life is too good for you, but hey, usually that means an extra helping of vegetables for you and I won’t be passing you the garlic bread. You don’t want any fries? Sure, that’s okay, I can whip up some mashed potatoes for you if you… You mean it’s not the fried part? You… can’t have potatoes? Why? Because they’re fattening. Right. Gotcha. I’m just going to go ahead and pull up the Wikipedia page on potatoes… Ah, yes, right here. Pretty much no fat in a potato. Closer to zero than any substantial fat. But you’re still not going to eat them.

Anybody who walks into my house and refuses a helping of potatoes can leave. I mean that. You better have a damn good excuse for not wanting to take a serving of potatoes. The asshole who shows up to a dinner party and refuses potatoes is the same person who’s going to take four servings of cake because they’re hungry. Or they’ll need two steaks. Or you’ll find them in the bathroom eating all the Tums and squeezing a bottle of toothpaste down their throats. People who don’t eat potatoes shouldn’t be invited to dinner parties in the first place.

Potatoes are boring? You’re right, they’re incredibly boring. They’re boring because they’re so ridiculously packed with vitamins, minerals, and energy they don’t have room left over for taste. You can survive for weeks on potatoes alone. In the novel and the major motion picture ‘The Martian’, by Andy Weir, when the protagonist gets abandoned on Mars, you know what he grows to stay alive? He grows potatoes. He didn’t plant a field of Kale, he didn’t decide to seed a bunch of Goji berry bushes, the protagonist got straight down to business and grew potatoes.


And if he had some flour, he could have made perogies

They are such an important food item that when Ireland ran into a shortage during the Great famine, people started dying. The people who weren’t dying drew up a modest proposal to eat babies. You know that party asshole who passed on the potatoes and instead ate all the macaroni salad? If you have a baby around, you keep that baby close, or otherwise Mr. TooGoodForPotatoes will get the impression that you keep the kid around as a second course.

The United Nations gave the entire year to 2008, calling it the ‘Year of the Potato’. Broccoli didn’t get a year dedicated to it. Anyone remember the year of corn? I didn’t, because there wasn’t one. You know what’s a terrible crop? Corn is. It’s nutritionally devoid of anything useful, and it makes lousy whisky. In fact, there’s only one hard choice when it comes to potatoes. Do I eat the potato now, or do I wait for it to ferment and drink it later?


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. And when people talk about being gluten intolerant. It’s bread! The goddamn staff of life!

p.s.s. Yes, the last line referring to fermenting potatoes is from Archer.




Where No Man Has Gone Before

I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek recently with my girlfriend. No, not the new action packed movies that star Chris Pine and Simon Pegg and some other actresses and actors I can’t remember off the top of my head. I’m not watching Enterprise, Voyager, or Deep Space Nine, I’m not even sure if I’ve actually watched a full episode of any of those knock offs. It’s not The Next Generation, which does kick major ass with Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard. My eyeballs are getting stuffed with the sweet old school, super colorful, groundbreaking original series created by Gene Roddenberry, featuring the all start cast of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan.

The original Star Trek television serial is one of those shows I believe everyone should watch at least once. The acting is sometimes terrible, the special effects were amazing for it’s time and budget, it deals with themes that are still valid today, and the fight scenes are incredibly cheesy and poorly shot. This may not sound like much of a pitch, but I promise you, it’s definitely entertaining. The show has had such an influence on our culture that watching all 79 episodes is a history lesson on a number of television tropes that are still popular today.

Star Trek start airing in 1966, a time when the two most powerful countries on the planet were toying with the idea of mutual self destruction. The United States and the USSR were locked in a cold war, and both nations were stockpiling nuclear arms. The idea of Star Trek was to show a future where humanity has succeeded at achieving peace on Earth, and was now traveling the stars with other alien nations, with a crew made up of various ethnicity working together for a common goal. It was the first television series to feature a black woman, Nichelle Nichols, in a prominent role. It featured the first on-screen interracial kiss. On the bridge Walter Koenig played Chekov, a man with a heavy Russian accent.

Star Trek took the world as it was, when black people were fighting for civil liberties and two nations teetered on the brink of war, and showed us there was light at the end of the tunnel. That people were better, and could be better, if we worked together. Many of the episodes had plots that revolved around war, racism, tolerance and working towards peaceful resolutions. Asking questions came well before shooting.

The series was grounded in science. The researchers for the program were phenomenal, and many of the devices that were branded as futuristic are used today. The communicators are the best example, today we call them cellphones. The warp engines were based on the physics being studied at the time, the medical tricorder that was often used by Dr. McCoy are slowly becoming a reality, and Star Trek at it’s core is about space exploration. With government agencies like NASA and private enterprises like SpaceX, it looks like space exploration is becoming popular once again. Sure, the show featured time travel and parallel universes, but Star Trek still tended to focus on hard science fiction ideas.

William Shatner, as Captain James Tiberius Kirk, is a damn treat to watch. He’s not a particularly great actor by any stretch, but he’s a character unto himself. His speech pattern is strange, his presence is enormous, and he eats up the scene in every shot he’s in. Every time he’s in front of the camera, I’m pretty much glued to the screen. William Shatner is the best when he’s playing William Shatner (although apparently he’s a accomplished stage actor, which is a different beast all together).

The reason I’ve decided to talk about star Trek is, firstly, I’m watching a ton of it right now. That is something that is going on in Mr. Charlton’s life at the moment. Secondly, it was a vehicle used to talk about a lot of moral and social issues at the time, and it can still apply to the issues our society faces today. The coolest thing about Star Trek is Gene Roddenberry ideal future landscape, where humanity has overcome it’s differences to explore the stars. The show was about scientific discovery, locating and documenting new phenomenon, and how rationality and logic would prevail over ignorance and fear.

So, if you’re in the mood for low budget, cheesy, thought provoking science fiction, with weird choreographed fight scenes and bizarre acting, you can’t go wrong with Star Trek – The Original Series. Definitely one of my guiltier pleasures.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. My girlfriend actually will sit down and watch it with me, and I believe that’s a testament regarding the shows entertainment value.

p.s.s. Start with ‘The Arena’. Classic.

Still Blinded by Straight White Privilege

I was about the write off the recent attacks as an isolated event, another crazy person with access to weaponry he shouldn’t have. The attacks were an issue with American guns laws. I told everyone this would happen again, it might be a school, like the Sandy Hook murders, it could happen in a movie theatre, like it did in Aurora. I wanted to pin this on something other than hate against a marginalized community. I started reading a bunch of hateful Twitter posts about retribution from God, and I wrote it off. I heard second hand of a local Christian man who’s decided to side with the shooter on this one, and I put it aside. I didn’t really think of the fact that the streets were being painted at the crosswalk in rainbow, and that Pride was happening locally soon. And it wasn’t until I sat down and read through the comments of my last blog, when it hit me; every single person that commented on it was a straight white male.

The attacks that took place were an attack against the LGBTQ community, and I made the mistake of trying to appropriate that elsewhere. To write it off as anything else was arrogant of me. To think that such a close knit community wouldn’t be reeling after a tragedy like this was ignorant. For that I apologize.

Anyone with a heart and a conscience has got to be feeling something these last few days, and everyone seems to be reacting differently. Some people are mourning, some are angry, some are frustrated. Some are also joyful, thinking this brutal act of hate is justified, that somehow the love between two people is more of an affront to humanity than the ending of a human life. And that’s what the LGBTQ community stands for, love and the right to love. It’s sickening to think there’s a vocal group of people who would rather see bloodshed than two men kiss.

In my haste, like many others, I was looking for a reason to why this happened, and I chose gun control. Other’s picked terrorism, some chose mental illness. There was a lot of things we could point to, to take our minds off the idea that the queer community is still vulnerable and still under threat. I wanted to think we were past that, the old guard who held that banner of homophobia was dying and that things were progressing. I still think things are getting better, and progress is being made, but after thinking about it long and hard, I had the sober realization we still have a long way to go as a society. The shooter was three years younger than I am. To think the old guard hasn’t left an impression on new generations was an naïve ideal.

It wasn’t long ago that being gay was a crime in this part of the world, where the treatment was rehabilitation, therapy. People were rehabilitated violently, and were subjected to chemical therapy. Love between two people was outlawed and met with violence and death. And it’s still illegal in much of the world, still outlawed, still met with vicious confrontation and murder. It seems so mind boggling backwards that love is not only looked down upon, but endures homicidal fury.

While debating whether owning a gun was a right or a privilege, I forgot that the opportunity to love someone else is a privilege, not a right in this world. That I have the privilege of being able to walk down the street without having the word faggot or dyke lobbed in my direction. That I have the privilege of being able to say “I love you” to someone I care about without having to look over my shoulder or mutter under my breath. That I have the privilege not to be a target because of my sexuality. These are privileges I take for granted. After the recent attacks, maybe I shouldn’t be so callous to give my opinion on a privilege that not everyone has access to.

All around the world, people are holding sigils to honour the dead and remember lose who have lost their lives to this tragedy. Maybe tomorrow, instead of getting on my soapbox to give out my opinion and ask hard question, I’ll try listening to someone else’s opinion and questions instead.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m still going to write something tomorrow, but goddamnit, I’m going to pick something that isn’t a tragedy.

p.s.s. All kinds of hugs to people out there. I’m hoping tomorrow is a sunnier day.