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A is for Axel: An Ice Skating Alphabet

A is for Axel: An Ice Skating Alphabet

An Ice Skating Alphabet
by Browning, Kurt
illustrated by Melanie Rose
edition:Hardcover
tagged :
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C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet

C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet

An Alberta Alphabet
by Dawn Sprung
illustrated by Lorna Bennett
edition:Hardcover
tagged :
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Touch It!

Touch It!

Materials, Matter and You
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : physics
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Archetypes

Archetypes

Social Animals in Our Midst
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

Preface
He must have been about seventy years old, and he was always at my gym, no matter the hour. He wore frightfully small cycling shorts. He was strangely sinewy. He was on a first-­name basis with all the trainers. He probably had hair plugs. He was, in no uncertain terms, The Old Guy at the Gym — a sort you can find at workout barns across North America. Anyone who has submitted to the tortures of the modern gymnasium has probably seen the type. He was notable, just not yet noted.

It was with this character that the Archetypes were born, in 2003, as a weekly illustrated newspaper column. Seeing The Old Guy at the Gym in print ­wasn’t going to change your life, but something about it gave good jolly. There is a satisfaction in recognizing something that you never realized you had already recognized — and if you are reading about it in a book or a newspaper, the pleasure is compounded by knowing that someone else has seen it too. It’s the same feeling you get when you hear some random song on the radio and find that somehow you know all the words. If a comic strip can claim something so lofty as a purpose, then that of the Archetypes is in that single second where you go, “Oh, I know someone like that!”

Hippies, yuppies — by the time the Archetypes began appearing, those categories felt outdated, and brand-­land variants such as “early adopters” had fallen into overexposure too. But there were other — in the grand scheme, less major — types that were ripe for topping, tailing, and tagging. There was that person who was obsessed with his local neighbourhood: The Localist, the authenticity-­fixated sort hanging out at the Portuguese or Italian or Brazilian café, proud that he seldom leaves a ten-­block radius, and equally espiable in Brooklyn as in London’s East End or Montreal’s Mile End. There was also that thirty­something dad in the Bad Religion T-­shirt, clutching desperately onto his youth, possibly still fussing around with snowboarding magazines, and expressing a little too much interest in his son’s Star Wars figurines. Or the woman who had gone over the top self-­diagnosing phantom medical conditions on Google and Medline — a new, and altogether pervasive, kind of urban neurotic.

Luckily for all of us, the talented young newspaper illustrator Kagan McLeod signed on for the project of turning these types into characters you can see, adding his remarkable wit to my often questionable humour. If Beastie Dad looks like someone you’ve noticed, it is a tribute to Kagan’s knack for knowing exactly what kind of stickers such a type would have peeling off the side of his computer.

Both Kagan and I would like to send a massive rosy bouquet of thanks to Dianna Symonds, who was our first editor at the National Post and gave the Archetypes the green light and then saw them through their first year. Also to editors Sheilaugh McEvenue and Sarah Murdoch at the Post for dealing with a sometimes refractive sense of deadline. Thanks as well to Chris Bucci and Doug Pepper at McClelland & Stewart, and to my agent, Ira Silverberg. Also to Michael Kronish, Jonathan Handel, Alana Klein, Rebecca Weinfeld, Jonathan Goldstein, Adam Sternbergh, and Sarmishta Subramanian, whose minds sprung a few of the types you will find in the following pages.

I would also like to simultaneously express gratitude and apologize to a great number of my friends and my extended family, most pressingly my four parents, who may have found bits of themselves turned into an Archetype at one point or another. The day you all decide to get back at me is a day I hope I never see.

And thanks, of course, to the weekly readers of the Archetypes, a phenomenally loyal lot. The hundreds of letters and suggestions you have sent in over the years are constant fuel for Kagan and me. When enjoying this book, please remember that a wicked cackle is what we’ve been going for all along. If you get one of those, we’ve done our job well. If you recognize yourself, then consider yourself lovingly branded.
— Mireille Silcoff

BEASTIE DAD
AVERAGE AGE: 38
NATURAL HABITAT: Back office, skateboard/snowboard shop

Named his son “Paul,” not after the apostle but after the “incredibly awesome and underrated” 1989 Beastie Boys album, Paul’s Boutique. Knows he is the raddest dad ever. Not only can he get Xbox games before they come out (an old buddy from the Whistler days is now a designer at Microsoft) but at the skate park, Beastie Dad’s still able to pull a Backside Lipslide better than any of the kids. Was once the king of the ramps on the Vans Warped Tour, after all. But then Betty got pregnant, and Beastie Dad injured his hip after downing a bottle of Jägermeister and jumping off the balcony at that Bad Religion concert, so they opened a skateboard/snowboard shop, and combined with some contract carpentry work, the settled-­down-­parenthood thing’s turned out pretty cool. Is slightly worried that ten-­year-­old Paul’s lately been saving allowance money to buy The Most Relaxing Classical Music Album in the World . . . Ever! Volume 2. Also, his son’s “depression” over the last episode of Frasier was kind of weird. And what’s up with this “Dad, could you not pick me up from chess club on your longboard” stuff all of a sudden? Since Paul got into that Brontosaurus school (“Montessori, Dad”), everything’s changed. Betty says Paul will come around again, and until snowboard season starts, Beastie Dad will have to go to the skate park without his little buddy. (“Nobody thinks you’re too old, honey. If it makes you feel better, you can say it’s research for the store.”)

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