The legend of King Arthur is a gift that keeps on giving

Although it may be a fabrication, the story has powerful resonance

The legend of King Arthur is a gift that keeps on givingKing Arthur is back in the news, thanks to an archeological dig in Herefordshire, England. The dig site in question is Arthur’s Stone, a Neolithic-era burial chamber that’s somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000 years old. It’s technically a dolmen with a capstone resting on nine uprights. And with an estimated weight of around 25…

Are we seeing the destruction of democratic capitalism?

More than 100 years after H.G. Wells forecast big changes in the world order, the tide is turning

Are we seeing the destruction of democratic capitalism?Democratic capitalism is a remarkably empowering and wealth-generating structure. Although wealth is not a zero-sum game, power may well be. In his 2011 book The Fruits of Graft: Great Depressions Then and Now, Wayne Jett explores how certain elitists have actively sought to undermine the masses and usurp political and economic power for themselves. In H.G.…

A direct call on a pocket phone from 100 years ago

Cartoonist W.K. Haselden was known for making bold predictions, including some that are eerily accurate

A direct call on a pocket phone from 100 years agoCan people see into the future and predict what’s about to come? Most of us recognize that the answer is, sadly, an emphatic “No.” Nevertheless, our society has long been fascinated with religious and non-religious prophets, seers and others making predictions. Several works – including the seventh-century Chinese book Tui bei tu, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s…

Wandering into the world of fantasy for a mental break

Steve Skurka has written an intriguing historical legal thriller intertwined with several real-life people, places and events

Wandering into the world of fantasy for a mental breakI’m regularly inundated with requests for writing, commentary and analysis on a wide variety of topics. This includes domestic and international politics, history, philosophy, military invasions and the ongoing global pandemic. Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoy what I do. At the same time, taking small breaks from reality and delving into fantasy helps…

A true story that inspired a classic western movie

Kidnapped by Commanches then rescued, Cynthia Ann Parker was a victim of cultural genocide twice over

A true story that inspired a classic western movieMovie enthusiasts invariably sing the praises of John Ford’s The Searchers. Released in 1956 and starring John Wayne, the film has been described as a masterpiece and shows prominently in critical lists of the best films ever made. It’s inspired by a true story. Or maybe that should be stories in the plural. The Searchers…

Inuk author sends up settler stereotypes in short stories

Norma Dunning’s latest subversive collection has earned her a Governor General’s Literary Award

Inuk author sends up settler stereotypes in short storiesInuk author Norma Dunning loves to court the absurd. In one of her short stories, called “Eskimo Heaven,” an Inuit ancestral spirit visits a priest from the North. “The spirit says, ‘Come with me, we’re gonna take a walk on the wild side,’” explained Dunning, a lecturer in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education…

Politicians intent on twisting truth to pursue their agenda

Orwell's 1984 should be renamed 2021 because our times are more like his novel than any in history

Politicians intent on twisting truth to pursue their agendaIn his novel 1984, George Orwell envisioned a future that’s arguably unfolding before our eyes, where government authority is supreme, and truth and freedom are not to be found. Perhaps Orwell should have named his novel 2021 because our times seem more like his novel than any in previous history. For Canadians, the examples abound.…

Spending Thanksgiving with Rumpole of the Bailey

Leo McKern transforms into the barrister with personality, magnificent inflection and dry wit

Spending Thanksgiving with Rumpole of the BaileyThanksgiving in Canada is a wonderful, relaxing time. Turkey dinner with family. Football games and baseball playoffs. Listening to music. Catching up on reading. How could you ask for anything better? As it happens, I can add one cherry on top of the proverbial sundae. I was able to go through my DVD collection of…

In praise of talented storytellers Forsyth, Follett

If you’re partial to thrillers but aren’t familiar with either man, find a copy of The Day of the Jackal or Eye of the Needle and enjoy a riveting read

In praise of talented storytellers Forsyth, FollettThis summer marks the 50th anniversary of Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal. It’d be hard to conceive of a more spectacular novelistic debut. Forsyth was a “flat broke,” unemployed English journalist in his early 30s. Hopefully, a novel would help clear his debts. While the book’s inspiration was the failed 1962 assassination attempt…

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothing

A profile of someone who has been in the public eye most of his life but achieved little of note isn’t a worthwhile subject

Harry will receive a princely sum for a book about nothingPrince Harry is writing a book. Hmm. The crickets are pretty loud today.  All kidding aside, it’s true. “The Duke of Sussex is to publish an intimate memoir of his life,” the Daily Telegraph’s Victoria Ward wrote on July 19, “which he has vowed will be ‘accurate and wholly truthful.’” The book will be published by…

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant output

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant outputLarry McMurtry, who died recently aged 84, was an American writer and a prodigious worker. Beginning in 1961, he produced dozens of books, plus various screenplays for movies and television. Sometimes the screenplays were adaptations of his own literary output and sometimes they weren’t. McMurtry was born in rural Texas in 1936. And while it…

Good Seuss, bad Seuss, less Seuss, no Seuss?

Ignoring, desensitizing or eliminating history is the wrong approach. Learning, engaging and explaining will have a more positive effect

Good Seuss, bad Seuss, less Seuss, no Seuss?Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel was one of the world’s most influential authors of children’s literature. The talented political cartoonist, illustrator and poet released over 60 memorable and beloved tales. Those tales included The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, Green Eggs and…

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the bill

While not scrupulously accurate, it is still quite engrossing

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the billAn electrician in to do some wiring work a couple of months ago ran his eye over the media shelf, noticed the Vikings DVD set and announced that The Last Kingdom was better. So in the midst of a pandemic winter, we tracked down the extant four seasons and gave it a whirl. The series…

Atwood’s childhood works reveals early glimmers of creativity

Compilation of juvenilia hints at the famed author’s first influences – and a characteristic sense of humour, say U of A experts

Margaret Atwood was only seven when she got her first bitter taste of literary rejection. She wrote a play called The Giant, the Gost (sic) and the Moon and staged it with paper puppets and a cardboard set. It conveyed the weighty themes of lying, crime and punishment, “as befits a future novelist,” recalls the…

Father Brown is G.K. Chesterton’s most durable creation

He was an early and vocal critic of Nazism., an unapologetic opponent of eugenics and derisive towards the concept of racial purity

Father Brown is G.K. Chesterton’s most durable creationG.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton was born in 1874 and died in 1936, just two weeks into his 63rd year. During his lifetime, he was one of England’s most notable writers. His output was truly prodigious, including novels, poems, short stories, newspaper columns and such. Today, it’s probably fair to say that he’s best remembered for…