So this is Christmas?

“Come, they told me
A new born King to see.”

I have not been a real fan of Christmas for a long time. I think that people have now just accepted that each person has their own reasons to celebrate. For some, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” while for others it’s about the winter solstice and for a lot of people it’s about getting the latest contraption or that wicked new sex toy adapter to the Nintendo Wii (which will be renamed ooooWIII!)

“Our finest gifts we bring,
To lay before the king.”

I have great memories of the holiday season when I was a child. It was as I grew older I began to realize the level of dysfunction in my family and how it changed my experience and eventually my memories. One day I decided to take a vacation from my feelings and stopped Christmas in it’s tracks.

“Little baby,
I am a poor boy too.
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give the King.”

I found myself sliding into the negative thinking and cynicism and would decry the holiday for anyone wanting to spread good will. Again I was taking a vacation from my feelings and felt that others should see it my way.

I was wrong.

Years ago, during my first Christmas away from my family I was working on the Adventure of the Seas. I didn’t know it then, but a very healthy majority of people who cruise during that week do not celebrate Christmas. I thought , “perfect!” it would make it all the more easier to distance myself from the old memories of the past which I wanted to bury.

“Shall I play for you?
On my drum?”

Lo and behold I found myself working at the shore excursion desk very early on Christmas morning and this older woman came to the desk and she said “Is this your first Christmas away from home?” I told her that it was my first Christmas away from my family. She gave me a hug and wished me a Merry Christmas and I started to cry. I had realized how much of an impact it was on me to not be around the people I loved during the season.

Christmas 2003 we welcomed impoverished children from Cozumel Mexico when I was working on the Enchantment of the Seas. I spent some time chatting with each of the little kids in Spanish and many of them asked me if I too was Mexican. After we met with them the Cruise Director came out dressed as Santa Clause and all of the little children went crazy! They were so happy to receive their gifts and some of them even performed a song in sign language for us. I sat at the back of the theater, tears filling my eyes.I began to realize that my vacation from Christmas couldn’t last much longer.

I was wrong.

I went back in my pit of cynicism and self loathing and stayed there until a few years. I went to the website and printed the poster which boldly declared “WAR IS OVER: if you want it” and I realized that my vacation was over. I had redefined what Christmas meant for me. I spent a week or so putting up those posters on light posts in and around busier intersections in Kamloops and you know I felt so good doing it.

“Mary nodded,
The ox and lamb kept time.”

I realized that for myself Christmas was about spreading goodwill to everyone, not just your family and friends, but the strangers who feel the way I felt for so many years. The people who look sad in the store lines because thy are thinking “Can I afford this?”

The husband who lost his job and isn’t sure he can provide for his family anymore.

The single parent who is struggling to give their kids gifts, even though they live in poverty.

The elderly people you see everyday sitting at the same café alone with their thoughts.

“I played my drum for Him,
I played my best for Him.
Then He smiled at me,
Me and my drum.”

The Christmas carol “The Little Drummer Boy” has always been one of my most favourite songs this time of year. It always touched my heart because I felt, much like him, that I have no gifts to give. I was stuck in my old thinking patterns of Christmas only being about greed. Now I know that even the smallest gesture of kindness can be a welcome gift anyone in pain can receive.

It’s certainly the best gift I’ve ever given.

Merry Christmas everyone.

I hope you reflect and find your reason for the season.



I’m quick to say that I dislike children.

When people hear that they often say, “Oh! You were a child once.”

It’s true, I was a child once. I was a self loathing child. I would sit there watching PBS Nova thinking “I wish I was older.” I couldn’t wait to get older.

I am still waiting to grow up.

There are two children that I love very much. My niece Lilah and my nephew Hunter are my sister’s kids and they’re so special.

Yesterday we watched TV for a couple of hours…well I should clarify, the television was on and my niece and nephew were spending their free time annoying me while I sat on the sofa.

I loved it.

They were playing with felt pens and I told them to give me tattoos.

Lilah wrote on my arm that Charlie, Rango, Mimi, Peaches and Odie RULE! (those are a sampling of her pets.)

Hunter drew two things. He drew a potato which he named Oxy and a man with a small body, a big head wearing a birthday hat, with a big nose complete with ice cube hanging out of it.

He also drew an hour glass.

He named the man Horbart and said that he was “running out of time,” in reference to the hour glass.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“He’s running out of time to feel normal.”

It was an interesting thing to say.

In the light of the recent shootings in the USA, it’s nice to know that my niece and nephew are still sweet innocent children.

I hope that Hunter’s mention of time running out to feel normal wasn’t one of those strange insights that only children have.

Who’s running out of time?

Who feels normal and what does it mean?

I wish I took a picture of the drawings. They were pretty cute and in terms of what Lilah wrote, given that two of the pets are sleeping right beside my mom.. I think she’s right.

God and other things.

I felt the need to write to the editor about a few things including these letters I read tonight:

Dear editor,

A few things..

First of all, thanks for ending comments on letters to the editor. I think it will give the anonymous folks who so freely spew their thoughts a chance to grow a pair and sign their name.

Secondly, we need to remember and regain our love and respect for each other’s humanity as a first step to stopping violence (like the shooting in CT.) Humans really only have each other on this planet, minus a few creative blow up dolls and exotic pets.

Thirdly, to the folks who write about God in their letters in relation to the Grey Cup and Remembrance Day.

To Eve Acheson, good for you to believe that life without God causes wars.

Go to the Middle East where one group, Israel, consistently steals the land of another because it was promised to them (by God) a few thousand years ago and other groups shoot rockets and are often heard screaming “God is great.”

If we’re about supporting a group’s right to return to land they inhabited thousands of years ago.. that pretty much solves the land claims issue in Canada eh? *taps microphone* Anybody?

So yeah…lack of religion is the root cause of conflict? No.

I believe that these folkloric beliefs are a huge cause of unnecessary and arbitrary conflicts that many countries without established religions gets caught up in (LIKE CANADA.) We’re taking sides in a useless war that only serves to kill more and more innocent people. We support a country with nukes while we say that Iran (a signer to the NPT and is inspected by the IAEA) is the greatest threat to security.

Keep the faith Eve.

You can believe what you want based off of your Bronze Age book. Some of us require a bit more evidence and critical thought.

Les Evens, I think it was simply pointed out that Burton Cummings neglected to say “GOD” while singing our national anthem. He probably just screwed up and you were just effectively trolled by another letter writer.

Zeus bless you.

Joey Jack


Letters to the editor

The Kamloops Daily News has had a new editor for a few months.

His name is Robert Koopmans and I really enjoyed his work as a columnist writing about justice and his work covering court.

When he started as editor in September (me thinks?) he implemented a rule about increased civility on the KDN website. I thought it was a good idea because the comments had been getting out of hand.

I’ll admit that I would often insult the intelligence of others. As I usually try to talk about things I’ve taken the time to read and learn about..if I was presented with opinions that were unlettered and full of “feelings” rather than verified facts, I would trounce the anonymous troll with belittling statements.

I stopped doing that a couple of years ago because I realized that it wasn’t really helpful.

There are a few members of the KDN forums that tend to use really unnecessary language while talking about others and making strange assertions about people that they disagree with.

Like if you disagree with something the BC Libs or federal Conservative Party of Canada does, you’re a rabid left winger.

I personally think it’s intellectual laziness to simply peg someone as a leftist for disagreeing with a government policy. I digress.

Just today an article appeared by Koopmans stating that anonymous comments will no longer be allowed on letters written to the editor. The reasoning behind the decision is consistent with the letters policy of the KDN. If you want your opinion to be heard on a subject, let’s have your real name and a way to contact you.

Much of the commentary below the article is by anonymous people with “clever” handles. They are crying foul about not being able to exercise their free speech and are calling the KDN hypocrites etc etc.

Cry me a river.

One comment caught my eye about the quality of letters being printed. That they are so poorly researched that they should not be printed.

Sure a lot of letters to the editor are poorly researched and are full of malarkey but that’s what makes it fun to respond to them.

Here’s one of my favourite letters and my response to it:

Bernice Williams wrote a letter talking about her time working in an Indian/Eskimo hospital (I don’t think she means the football team.) She talked about how the Indians would line up on treaty day to collect their money and that they probably didn’t spend it wisely. Read it here.

I knew that there are very few treaties covering B.C. and that the treaties that covered the rest of Canada were not signed with any thoughts to the future and the rise in the cost of living.

So I found out how much money Indians from the area she spoke about in her letter received and responded. You can read it here.

I’ll admit that I usually respond to letters about Indians, queers, teachers, immigrants and other people in Kamloops who may not have a strong voice. If you choose to write about these topics, do your homework.

If you want to have your opinions heard by the masses and remain anonymous, get a blog.

Before I go..

I have had a few exchanges via the letters page with former teacher Chris Kempling about homosexuality and a woman’s right to choose. He didn’t believe that my name was actually Joey Jack. I don’t know if he still does, but he used to drive a bus here in Kamloops and one day I was pleased to show him my ID to prove my name is actually my name.

One day I decided to stop signing my name Joey Jack..I used my proper name Joseph Jack and very quickly received an email from my grandma telling me the story of Joey Smallwood, the first premier of NFLD. It was a great email and she finished it by saying “if it’s good enough for him, it should be good enough for you.” I’ve been Joey Jack ever since.

I did want to tell my grandma to never refer to me as Joey “smallwood” ever again though.




I wrote this in April. Within a few months of the post, my mom suffered a stroke. Things are so different in our lives now.



I’ve been visiting the home I grew up in recently. It’s been a few years since I’ve done so.

I don’t really recognize the place anymore. The stairs aren’t as steep as mine and the walls in my old room have been painted over.

It’s been interesting to explore my past, to see the items that were once on display in my old room relegated to a few boxes and bags under the stairs.

I found some of my jewelry of mine in the bathroom that an ex-boyfriend and I painted yellow. My first earring (yes I only got one pierced to begin with,) and a silver bracelet that my mom bought me for my 19th birthday.

I decided to ask my mom if she had any of my other jewelry. I don’t have the heart to tell her I can’t find my grad ring so I was hoping that she’s been storing it all this time.

“I don’t know what jewelry of yours I’d have, but I can check,” she said.

I was at her house on Easter Sunday and stood in the kitchen of the house I grew up in. Peeling potatoes and catching up with my sister, while her 8 year old son Hunter laid on the sofa watching television.

I’ve come full circle. With so many of my aunts and uncles gone, I’m now officially the uncle. I’m the one who comes to visit and spend a little time with the kids before going off into the world again.

My mom got home at 2 p.m. & we chatted about her day at work. My mom is one of the funnier people in my life. She’s my own personal Betty White, preferring to be clean but knowing full well that an inappropriate comment from her will inspire “ewws” and “MOTHER!!”while she relishes the attention.

I am my mother’s son.

She told me that she found some my jewelry and my silver dollars. I didn’t want them, I just that I wanted to know if she had them.

“You can take them if you like, or I can hold on to them.. well until the day you’ll have to take them,” she said.

My mom is 67 years old and believe me that I’m at the age where I’m worried about her. When she said, “until you have to take them,” my thoughts went to mortality…the fragility of it all.

We stood there by the washing machine for a moment and she told me some bittersweet news.

“I’ve told Jen and Chris that I want you to have my wishbone earrings.”

They are my mother’s favourite pair of earrings, perhaps her most cherished item. Little golden wishbones with a diamond on each one.  She’s lost one of them for short periods of time, but its always turned up.

The shag carpet crisis of the early 90’s sticks out in my mind, but the crisis was averted after some close inspection.

After hearing the news I told her I didn’t want to know.

“No, no, no mom,” I said “I can’t hear this right now.”

Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine.

I asked her if she was sick or was there something I should know.

“No, I’m not sick…”

We just stood there for a moment.

“I love you very much momma.”

She told me how she waited for so long for the earrings to go on sale at Woodward’s department store.

“I’m cheap!” she said laughing.

It was good to laugh after our little moment.

We moved to the backyard and chatted about the future, where I’m going and what I want to do. I told her of a job I’m hoping to get in Saskatchewan.

As we talked she reached for her pack of cigarettes and I noticed the tape covering the pictures.

“It’s of someone who had a stroke I think,” said my mom. I wish she’d just quit already.

I went for a drive while Jen and my mom finished preparing dinner. I went by each of the other three houses I spent time in as a child. They’ve been repainted and renovated. The landscaping is different and all of the neighbours have long since moved away. Like my old bedroom, all I have is my memories.

I’ve not sat down at my mom’s house for a holiday dinner for 3-4 years.

The food was delicious but this dinner was different from others I’d attended in the past.

My mom and I sat at the table and ate while Jen attended to Hunter, who has been sick. Lilah and her friend Amy went to Lilah’s bedroom and watched a movie while eating their dinner. My brother in law Darcy helped Jen with Hunter.

My brother Mike is in California and Chris is in Edmonton, so it felt like it was just the two of us.

As I was dropped off after dinner I asked my mom again if she was ill.

“I’m tough, I can handle it.” (yeah right.)

“No, I’m not sick!”

Before I went to bed I was watching a program on Discovery about seals. How the mother and baby must bond quickly if the baby is to survive.

During a scuffle on the beach a baby is separated from his mother. He sits on the beach calling out for her and soon is rescued.

It seemed metaphoric.

I think returning to the house I grew up in was very cathartic. I know time waits for no one and while sometimes you’re the salmon swimming against the river to return home, other times you have be a tuna and go with the current (thanks Seinfeld!)

After graduation I am going to allow myself to be caught in the current and let it take me where it will.

I’m not the seal pup on the beach calling for his mother anymore.

I hope I don’t “have to take” my jewelry from my mom for decades. She’s such a special person and even the thought of losing her makes me ill.

I was so touched to hear that she wants me to have something of hers that has meant so much to her. She’s considered the wishbone earrings to be good luck because no matter how many times they’ve gone astray, they’ve always found their way home.

And like the earrings being good luck, a part of me hopes my mom has considered me good luck. The child a doctor warned her not to have because she might have died. The son that clung to her like glue as a child. The son who would sleep at the foot of her bed because he was afraid of the dark. The son that accompanied her while she looked for her other children in the middle of the night. The son that spent three days on a bus to be home with her when she was sick.

When I am feeling low, I think about my mom. I think about the life she’s had and what she’s been through and her strength helps me through tough times.

On the sad sad day when I actually call for my mother and she doesn’t come to rescue me, I’ll take comfort in knowing that I’ll always have something of hers that she cherished.

I hope all of my hair is gray when that happens and just to be safe, I’m going to buy some dye.

If you’re reading this… I want you to tell your parents that you love them.

I love you momma.


bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem

I am not sure what it is about my brain, but when there is a political scandal I try and figure out what excuse will be given by the person or people involved in the scandal.

There is usually a statement with some soft say-nothing language. Here’s an example:
“An incident was brought to the attention of senior officials within the minister’s office. We have taken preliminary actions and plan to launch a full investigation to determine areas where we can improve and create an effective strategy to prevent similar situations from occurring again.”

Of course..a statement like this would only be sent out if there was tacit acknowledgement that the shit has hit the fan.

What happens soon after a statement like this is the following:

“Well.. when the ____ government was in power, they did similar things…”

That’s where my blog title comes into play. Bonitas non est pessimis esse meliorem is a Latin phrase that means It is not goodness to be better than the worst. It‘s time that we demand a higher standard from our elected officials. We let them act like very high paid children. They can sling mud at each other and act with impunity and why? “HE DID IT FIRST.”

Give me a break.

I know that I’m still fighting cynicism because I don’t like when people say “of course, that’s how it’s always been..wake up!”

I’ve not been asleep. I just think we have reached a point in time where we have to work hard to remain ignorant. We’re inundated with information 24/7 and have the ability to find non-mainstream information at the push of a button…the touch of a screen.

I’m as frustrated as usually and I’m just gonna keep taking it okay!


Talking to Canadians

I took an outlaw journalism class last year. We watched a Rick Mercer, talking to Canadians clip and our teacher wanted us to do something similar.

I wrote a satirical piece responding to a man that said quite racist things to me without even knowing it.

I thought it would be interesting to do a “Talking to Canadians,” bit and my teacher suggested I ask people to comment on the fact that Indians were going to receive free Tim Bits via a land claim settlement. I created two crude looking jpegs that appeared to look like the CBC website and asked people to read the stories and give me their comments.

The second “story” outlined the agreement reached between the Metis and the feds. Free WIFI, cable and cell service for all!
I put the photos on my tablet so they looked like I was connected to the internet.

It was a really fun assignment and only one person called me a liar.


Some people’s children…

I will never forget

December 6, 1989, 14 women lost their lives and millions of women saw their lives change.

The Montreal Massacre, a documentary directed by Gerry Rogers gives not only a personal, first hand account of the tragedy, but also its lasting effect on women. The powerful film includes testimony from Sylvie Gagnon, a survivor of the attack, and interviews with women from various walks of life reflecting about their own personal experiences with violence and abuse.

The film outlines the different ways that women are exposed to abuse and how this continuing pattern can only help to produce more violent cowards, like Marc Lepine (the shooter.) These abusive behaviors begin to emerge at a young age for some and generational indoctrination seems to only buttress the status quo. Words like “bitch” are thrown out towards women who stand up for themselves intellectually , words like “slut” are thrown at women who have more than one partner while a male counterpart may be called the more acceptable term of “stud.”

I don’t think it is appropriate to blame these behaviors on the media. While it’s true that some parents rely on television to raise their children, it is ultimately parents responsibility to teach their children good behavior. If my mother didn’t teach me better lessons than I learned on television, I would have though it was completely acceptable to use the terms Archie Bunker used to describe certain groups of people.

It has been said that the men who left the classroom, when directed to by Marc Lepine, felt terrible afterward. The guilt of survivors has been well documented. In some instances, I agree that it’s appropriate to feel helpless in a situation when someone loses their life. In the case of the men who left the victims behind, there is no excuse. If you were asked to leave a room because you were a man, leaving behind a group of women with a man carrying a gun, you pretty much pulled the trigger.

The film really affected me. I felt sick. I remember when it happened, I was 10, what did I know?

I think there is an ongoing war against women on different fronts. “Red Zones” push marginalized women to the outskirts of society where, when they go missing, aren’t really that missed. The trail of tears in Northern B.C. The Pickton’s and Russell Williams’ out there.

There are still grumblings over a woman’s right to choose and the objectifying of women continues today. I suppose, in some perverse, kind of way…the objectifying of both sexes has occurred.

There are no winners though in the war against women, we all lose. We all lose – because without women in our lives what would we be? A bunch of jerk offs who would continue to entertain each other by passing gas and punching each other in the face. What a smelly and painful place that would be.

To quote James Brown..

Man makes the car, to take us over the road.
Man makes the train, to carry the heavy load.
Man makes the electric lights to take us out of the dark.
Man makes a boat for the water, just like Noah built the ark.

It’s a man’s world…


But he wouldn’t be nothing, without a woman or a girl.


I’d never leave a friend behind if a man was carrying a gun.

I’m crying just thinking about it.