Monday, January 21, 2013


The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animals by Jenny Brown
Published by Penguin Group USA

I love to read books about people, places and situations that seem distant and far away—North Koreans living under communism, for example, or what the universe was like in outer space millions of years ago.  However, there is another world that is happening all around us, and it is just as mysterious and strange: it is a hidden world where our food comes from. 

In The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight For Farm Animals, author Jenny Brown talks about her life as well as her life’s work.  A cancer survivor and amputee at age 10, Jenny had already been through more than her fair share of challenges, learning how to walk with an artificial leg and undergoing chemotherapy.  

Jenny worked hard and built up a successful television/film production career.   However, she found her passion and has built her life around her values.  She now runs the successful Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, where her team rescues and cares for neglected pigs, chickens, goats, cows and other assorted animals (animals, by the way, with personalities and character!).  Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary also offers tours to the public and even now sports a bed & breakfast.  Very cool!  

The really great thing that I liked about this book, which focuses on vegetarianism, veganism and setting up a farm sanctuary is that Jenny doesn’t come across as preachy about being a vegan.  She doesn’t try to shame people—she herself worked at McDonald’s and also served ribs at a restaurant for years.  Rather than sounding like strange vegan propaganda, she passionately stands up for animals through real-life examples (living and dealing with animals on a daily basis).  The book has some rather humorous stories.  By the end of the book, for example, it is easy to see how someone could in fact have an old, sick goat living and peeing in their kitchen.  It almost sounds normal.  Almost.

The book is filled with incredible, uplifting anecdotes, but just as important, it forces the reader to ask themselves a very important and complex question: why is it that we go to great lengths, financially, physically and emotinally, for our dogs and cats, but for some reason we are either completely blind (or worse, dispassionate) to the suffering of pigs, cows, chickens and other farm animals? 

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a well-written, informative and very entertaining look at the world of animals.  (Not just “farm animals”, but living, breathing animals capable of feeling, suffering and pain).  It is a great read, and while Jenny is entertaining and funny, there is a very serious message in the pages.  I hope that the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary continues their great work! 

Check out this book on Amazon.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I like to brag in general, but usually it is about me.  This time, however, I am bragging about my celebrity friend Brad Curle.  I first met Curle when I was working as a freelance writer for the Calgary Hitmen and interviewing the players.  Curle was not only calling games on the radio, but he was also working with the media and doing office duties as well!  This is the only part of our friendship that really bugs me—when compared to him, I am a lazy bum. 

Q&A With Brad Curle

Brad Curle is the voice of the Calgary Hitmen and also a member of the news team at 660 News radio station.  When he’s not travelling with the Hitmen, interviewing the players or reading the news, he also runs the blog The Hitmen Informant.  I worked with Curle for many years at the Saddledome, writing articles for the Hitmen’s game day magazine.  I finally turned the tables on Curle and interviewed him!  The hunter had become the hunted. 

Q: How long have you been working for the Calgary Hitmen?  What is the absolute best part about calling hockey games on the radio?  I am guessing that the best part is that they let you into the Saddledome for free.

Curle: You stole my answer!  Yes getting to watch hockey and get paid for it is great.  I do have so say, however, that the absolute best part about working for the Hitmen is that I get to hang around aspiring athletes.  These guys make me feel young!  What is a bit depressing is that when I started in with the Hitmen in 2005, the players used to look up to me as a big brother, and now they are thinking of me more of a “father figure”.  I am hoping that I don’t wind up being the grandfather someday—that would be a little depressing.  But it is an absolutely awesome job!

Q: You must have pretty good eyesight to work the Hitmen games from your lofty perch high up in the rafters.  Do you know how good your eyesight is?  (20/20, 20/15, x-ray, etc).

Curle: The eyesight is pretty good.  I’m not seeing through any skirts, but I can definitely keep a vehicle on the road. 

Q: You are my only friend I can think of who has his own catchphrase.  When the Hitmen win, you are famous for shouting “sweeeet victory”.  How did the “sweeeet victory” catchphrase originate?

Curle: Well, the catchphrase is pretty popular with younger Hitmen fans.  Kids usually enjoy yelling anyway, so if they yell “sweeeet victory!” they won’t get in trouble.  Basically my thinking with the phrase was that a ton of hard work and determination goes into a win—not just from the players, but also from the trainers, the coaches and the staff.  So it not just a win.  It is a true victory.

Q: You have a distinctive radio voice when you call a hockey game or read the news on the air.  I will often phone you up and ask you what is new because I am just too lazy to turn on 660 News.  Just tell me about the earthquake please.  Has anyone ever recognized you because of your voice?  (I am picturing you at the Home Depot with a piece of construction wood yelling “sweeeet hickory” for example).

Curle: Well, that hasn’t happened here in Calgary, but I did get recognized when I called games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.  Lethbridge is a smaller town so I would get “the look” once in a while.  Here in Calgary, there are tons of people so I don’t get recognized—I like that!  I am not the show, just a messenger on how the Hitmen are doing.

Q: Spoken like someone who had to wait in line at the Motor Vehicles Registry even though you are a celebrity.  Fair enough.  Here is where I pull out the secret weapon: your past.

Curle: Good Lord.

Q: You grew up in Saskatchewan and worked at a radio station there.  What was the worst trouble that you ever got into working a tiny station in the middle of nowhere?  Any pranks?  Anyone ever arrested?

Curle: Close but not quite.  We really did prank each other though.  We would always try to make the other guy make a mistake.  It was great fun.  If I was reading the news, it was pretty common for the other guys to light my piece of paper on fire or put toothpaste in my ears.  I remember one time receptionist flashed me when I was live on the air! 

Q: Classy. 

Curle: We had one guy so terrified on his last day that we were going to prank him that he literally barricaded himself in the on-air booth, with the furniture wedged up against the door so that no one would bother him while he was reading the news.

Q: What a spoilsport!  Okay, let’s talk about your job reading the days events at 660 News here in Calgary.  Who decides who gets the lead story?  Any disagreements?  I’m guessing the editor wants to run a story about a tsunami and you are pushing for an update on the Kardashians. 

Curle: Well, that is not really the way it works.  The editor has the final call on what stories go to air, but we all get some input.  It is definitely a team effort—there is a News Director, editors, reporters, and audio editors and of course I’m just one of the guys reading the news on the air.  It’s a great job and I love being part of that team.

You can check out Curle’s blog at and Hitmen hockey at  660 News is found online at 

Friday, January 4, 2013


I was just about asleep the other night and my cat decided to jump on the bed and work the treadmill on my nuts.  Ouch!  Yay, I am up.  It was my fault for leaving the bedroom door open one-half inch.  I am a firm believer that my cat knows I have to work in the morning, but she simply doesn't care.  We all love our pets! 

Would you like a contribute to my next book featuring pet stories

Here's how:
  • I'm looking for funny stories, anecdotes or essays about your pet.  Does your cat have a weird habit?  Did you rescue your dog from another country?  Did you hit your animal in the head with a golf club?  (sorry that one is taken—see my story below)
  • You do not need to be a writer.  I am just looking for your story—it can be a couple of paragraphs or a ten-page essay.  I am not picky. 
  • You will be credited as the author of your story. 
  • I will collect and edit the stories and put them in book format.
  • If you have a picture that you would like to include, send it with the story and I'll do my best to include that as well.
  • By submitting a story and a picture, you are giving me copyright to the story as it would appear in the book and use of the picture in the book.
What I can offer: when the book is published to softcover and ebook, I can offer a free copy of the e-book.  You can read this book on your iPad or other similar device like a Kobo reader, PC computer, Kindle, etc.   Whip open your iPad at a cocktail party and impress your friends and family with a short story about your pet!  If that doesn't impress your friends, open up "Angry Birds" on the iPad and amuse yourself because obviously it is a lame cocktail party.

If you are interested in contributing, I would love to hear from you!  Please email me your contribution at and I will start gathering. 
If you have friends, family or anyone who is interested in participating, please forward them a copy of this blog.  This is open to everyone who is interested in writing a story about their awesome pet.
Here is an example of a story that I will contribute - basically it is me clubbing my cat with a 3-wood.  Enjoy.

- - - - -

Fore! Lives          by Karl Wiebe
"Wow, my cat is tough!"  I hear that once in a while from other cat people and I wonder what they mean.  Usually the other cat owners are talking about Mr. Pickles getting into a scrape with the neighbour's dog, or maybe Professor Snuggles fell off the couch. 
I know that no one likes someone who is always trying to top the previous story, but I hit my kitten in the head with a 3-wood.  Now that is tough.
Here's the story: when I was six years old, my parents bought a cat for me and my sister.  My sister was a couple of years older than me (and still is!) but somehow I was the guy who wanted the responsibility of feeding and looking after this cat.  He was a little orange tabby and my parents said "hey, name him whatever you want!"  Alright!  My six-year-old brain went to work and came up with only one option: Brutus. 
The cat was about the size and weight of a ballpark hot dog so my parents vetoed the name.  We decided on "Sparky" (which is a great name too, but I secretly called that cat Brutus for years). 
Sparky had lived with us for about four months and quickly became a part of our family.  I religiously cleaned the box and we all took turns feeding him.  (Actually, most of us wound up feeding Sparky on the same day, so this cat was chowing down like nobody's business.  He wound up weighing about 24 pounds.)
Remember back in the 1980s, there were no computers, the only video games features a sick pushing a ball to another stick (Pong), and rich kids were the only ones who owned the stick-pushing game anyway.  This meant that kids used to actually play outside in the "olden days".  One day in the middle of the summer, I was out in the backyard.  Sparky followed me out and was literally chasing butterflies (well, okay, it was big gross horseflies, but after all we were living in Alberta). 
I had found my dad's golf clubs and was learning how to be a pro golfer.  I thought it would be great to grab a "big one" that had wood on the side and swing the club at the golf ball.  I figured the worst-case scenario would be that I would send the ball flying out into passing traffic, and the owner of the vehicle would probably be so stunned that a six-year-old  broke his driver's-side window that he would offer to send me off to PGA school.  It didn't matter that such a place didn't exist—I wasn't going to even make contact with the ball.  The golf club was as tall I was.  I choked up on the handle and started to swing.  Because I am left-handed, I was swinging my dad's righties backwards—this meant that the round edge was what was going to make contact with the ball.  I was six. 
I think we all know where this is going.  The only two who had no idea were me and the cat.  Swing.  Swing!  Swing.  The cat jumped onto the ball right as I swung the club.  Pop!  I couldn't make direct contact with the ball, but suddenly I had crushed the cat right onto the fairway.  The cat just laid there on the ground, not moving for about two seconds. 
Uh oh. 
Suddenly Sparky jumped back up!  He was okay!  Then he sneezed, and a bunch of blood came out of his nose. 
He was not okay.
For a six-year-old, I feel that I reacted appropriately: I burst into tears and grabbed the cat.  I could literally see his face starting to swell up.  I did the half "scream-cry" and ran into the house. 
My mum phoned my dad (who was at work) and told him what happened.   Cat is dying... dad is at work... cat is dying... dad is at work.  Dad at work won, but it was close.  Dad didn't come home right away, but he did leave early and took Sparky to the vet.
My sister and I (with tears streaming down our faces) cut open a shoe box and put a towel in there for Sparky's grand return. 
I was told years later that my parents had a $100 budget for the cat (which was a lot of money back in those days, especially for a free cat).  The vet bill came to about $97. 
Sparky had a cracked, bruised face and the next couple of months were painful to watch.  (I imagine they weren't that great for Sparky either).  He made a full recovery and was in my life for the next eight years.  Sparky slept at the end of my bed, and at twenty-four pounds that is a big hunk of meat sleeping at the end of the bed.  And because I crushed his nose and eye socket, he had a tendency to snore once in a while.  I was more than okay with this.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


There are definitely different calibre of friends in your world.  Some are acquaintences, some are social friends, and then there are your "real" friends—these are the people you call up at 1:00 am and yell at while eating your Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  The reasons aren't important, but the fact that repeated phone calls to voice mail eventually get picked up means true friendship.  Here are the differences in levels of friends:

Acquaintence: This is the lowest rung on the friendship ladder.  Now before anyone goes getting all angry with me or anyone else, let's make one thing clear.  This is a step up from stranger.  Stranger is a just some person.  Stranger is just a guy on the street, some lady who just passes by in a car, a deranged gunman you see on news, etc.  Those are just people.  An acquaintence is technically within the "friend" circle, albeit skimming dangerously close to the edge at times.  An acquaintence might be someone who you might work with, or maybe you met them literally once at a house party for thirty seconds.  You kind of remember them—hey, doesn't that lady over at the Starbucks in the mall kind of look like Wonder Woman at last year's halloween party?  I'm convinced that if you put elf ears on the tall guy in the bookstore, he would look just like Richard from last year's Christmas social. 

Facebook Friend: Some people think of being a Facebook friend as an insult, but I personally like it.  I don't want to do any more work than necessary in my life.  Thanks, Facebook, for telling me it is so-and-so's birthday!  Now I look like a hero even though I literally just read email.  I truly do care about you, but I am still going to sit on my couch in my underwear and watch football while I do it.  (My laptop covers my shame so it is not dirty.  Plus it's warm.)

Couples Friend: Now things start getting tricky.  You are friends with one of them, but they had a nerve to go out on a date and find someone that they want to see naked?  So now everything is a double-date.  Again, this can be fine—it is one more person to chime in during visits, giving me valuable time to watch football (albeit with my pants on—we have company over dammit).

True Friend: This is the big one.  There are no excuses with these people.  You don't need to lie and make stuff up.  This is the level of friend where you can tell the person "I don't want to see you." 

Now you may wonder, why on earth would you NOT want to see a real friend?  The answer is usually that we are hungover, sick, tired, sick and tired, sick and hungover, and "not in the mood to put clothes on".  These are all valid reasons. 

If you want to know if they are "real" friends, tell the person that you simply don't feel up to seeing them and see what they do.

We had this happen recently—a good friend of mine wound up drinking alcohol during Christmas holidays!  Well I never!  We had plans to see him during the break, but he called our house and simply announced "I'm too hungover.  I feel like garbage."  Wow.  I have to say, I was elated.  He felt like garbage!  Not from cancelling our plans, but rather because we was peeing 90 proof inbetween naps.  

This, to me, is the height of friendship—you don't need to "make up excuses" when you don't want to get together with someone.  With real friends there are no lies, no shame, and no desire to hang out with me.  And I am MORE than OK with it.    See you next time we both have enough energy to put pants on.