Topic: Bernie Bates – Bee in the Bonnet


Don’t you just hate it when you think of something you would’ve, could’ve or should’ve said to some rude dude or dudett?

But, alas the moment has slipped away never ever to return again. Now you sit and stew about not being quicker on the trigger – being a smart-ass isn’t as easy as you may think.

If you’re going to shoot from the lip be wary of bombing. If you mouth off and miss your target audience, you run the risk of becoming ostracized, scorned or at the very least be mocked as a fool. When verbally sparring with a nitwit, remember that humor is a double edged sword. The other disaster you must avoid is cutting someone to the bone with your sharp tongue.

Words hurt.

Even an innuendo, if jabbed into the ribs a little too hard, can really smart. So if you like to jest with rest of your gang, think before your mouth goes bang. But don’t wait too long. Anything longer than the duration of a heartbeat may as well be an eternity – timing is everything in comedy.   

A real wise-ass will know what flies and what dies in a room full of crude dudes or white haired prudes. With the latter it’s like walking the high-wire; one wrong slip and you’re dead.

This brings us to sex. Both men and women love to screw around with one another, but women have their limits when it comes to what’s funny, what’s punny and what’s just plain ugly. Just like one man’s treasure is some woman’s trash. This is what’s known as walking on the razor’s edge.    

Now that we’ve covered timing, bombing and dancing with danger; the next lesson is lilt of voice and a cocky smile. There are those who couldn’t tell a joke if they read it from a tell-a-prompter. For ha, ha to work you have to play the part. For instance if you’re telling a tall tale about a squirrel – you have to act like a nut.

Delivery is as important as the witty words. Some people have a wry, mild sense of humor while others perform like a wild child with flailing arms and a voice like a morning alarm.     

Just like every trade has its tools, so does a jester. As an example, think of words as fire and just like fire words can burn. This is where a good vocabulary can make you a smarty pants star.

Other tools are exaggerating of the truth or even little white lies. If you can sell it and they buy it hook line and sinker – you too can be a little stinker.

A sense of humor is something most people look for in a mate or a date. We use humor as a coping mechanism or as a sarcasm shield or even a prelude to romance. If you can make someone smile; you can change their mind, mood and even turn them from foe to friend.

It takes years to hone humor to a sharp point. Being the witty life of the party doesn’t happen overnight. It takes knowledge, timing and a willingness to walk blindfolded up to the edge of an abyss.

My final bit of wit-wisdom advice is, knowing when to quit the wit. It may sound funny and sexy, but the last thing you want to do is pull a so called boner.    



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Donald Trump illustration

President Trump has been breaking off on twitter for almost two years – now his bill is coming due.

Most of you have already read, seen or heard the latest word from the soap opera south of the border. Many people would just as soon see the show come to an end – with a ‘who shot J.R. type ending’.

As much as I too would like to see the circus fold up and leave town; I’m enjoying the slow turning of the prosecutor’s screws.

Just as much as some people hate Donald Trump, there are those who hate seeing their Golden-haired boy going down for the count.

Let me see if I can describe the average Trump supporter.

Chances are their neck gets red when they are angered, and I’d guess that it doesn’t take much to set them off. They’re the type of person who is the first to disagree – black is white, up is down and facts are fake.

They have a hard time dealing with the truth, even when they see the proof right before their eyes; and Mr. Trump’s pants are on fire, and soon we’ll see the Emperor’s new clothes.

Those who sleep with dogs shouldn’t be surprised to wake up with fleas. The way I see it, people who defend Trump should go down in history as co-conspirators.

During World War II, Tokyo Rose broadcast to soldiers that their wives were being unfaithful. Nazi Joseph Goebbels talked German people into killing millions of human beings, and Fox broadcasting is a mirror image of Putin’s state run news channel.

To tell the truth, I don’t know how press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sleeps at night.

Even though it has been almost two years since DJT became the leader of the free world – I still can’t get my head around the fact that the American people elected an egotistical, reality TV personality as their president.  

Even before the election Donald Trump lied, ripped off hard working contractors and broke all ten of the commandments – on numerous occasions – and yet evangelicals vote for him and he still sits atop the Republican throne.

Even though it’s been almost two very long years since our reality changed; I can’t wait to see the future, I can’t wait to see the pendulum swing.

At this point in world history will common sense become the new political norm? At this point in history will Americans recognize the ugliness in the mirror? Will everyone wake up and say: “We’ve been had.”

Before I get ahead of myself, as a realist, I know there is still some time left for the president to hang in the wind. Coincidently the penalty for treason is hanging, but that will never happen, because his righteous friend Vice President Mike Pence will pardon the Don.

Even though I look forward to justice taking its due course, resulting in Trump’s impeachment, it’s Mike Pence who scares the hell out of me even more than Donald’s finger on the big red button.

I could see Mike Pence blurring the line between church and state. Women’s rights could be in jeopardy along with any non-Christian type sex.    

I hope they throw the book at Donald John Trump – at the very least I hope he loses his money, his fame and has to spend the rest of his days looking over his shoulder for Russians.


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"It's about time we had the talk" artwork

The #METOO movement is a watershed moment in man/womankind’s history; so I think it’s about time we had ‘the talk’ about sex.

We all have mothers, so let’s start there. She cared for you, feed you and kissed your boo boos. She suffered through your terrible two’s, your rebellious teen years and now it’s time to repay her by showing respect to mommy’s gender.

Some of you gentlemen also have sisters, girlfriends or wives, whom you love; now imagine some jerk disrespecting them or worse yet brutalizing them.

How would you feel?

Now imagine how you would feel if someone bigger and stronger smacked you around or bullied you? Imagine if your tormenter was in a position of power, like a boss or a trusted and respected member of the community?

How would you feel if you told the truth and no one believed you?

Having a black eye as proof is one thing but what if you were verbally abused? A black eye will heal but emotional scars can last a lifetime. They are hard to prove, and more importantly how can you kiss these boo boos all better?

Words hurt and can cut as deep as a blade.

If you’re told over and over that you are worthless; you may come to believe that you are useless and unworthy. You may even start to act the part of a pitiful peon.

Abuse can change a person’s personality it can make a once vibrant little girl into a timid woman.

We all argue and have disagreements we all raise our voices, but constantly screaming and demeaning someone has the same effect as kicking a dog. Over time the poor thing will cower whenever you go near it, but if you love that animal and show it kindness that beautiful creature will give you unconditional love and loyalty; until death do you part.

Sorry, ladies for the analogy and terminology.

It’s not only men that I’m addressing, but women too must stand tall and bare their claws. One day gender equality can be reached, but it will take both sexes to give and take.

Women will have to speak up and stand up for themselves and not be doormats and men must learn that might doesn’t make right.

Communication is the key word. Speak in a calm non-condescending manner, don’t use that high pitched tone, and remember that being the loudest one doesn’t make you the winner.

Besides, barking at one another isn’t civilized, especially in today’s boastful and boisterous political climate. It makes me ask myself, just how civilized is civilization, when world leaders feel free to feel up women and could care less about sexual harassment?

Being a man, I understand that men will rut and sometimes act like pigs, and that women will sashay and strut. I know down to my core that women and men are like a magnet; Made out of the same material with two polls – and nigh the pair shall ever meet.

Society may strive for equality, but the best I think we can do is just be happy to exist together.

To be fair, it’s not only the fairer sex that can be brow-beaten, nagged or even sexually mistreated.

Some of you are grinning at the thought of a man turning down sex, but it happens (no pun intended).



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Would you be the sharpest tool in the shed without your iphone education? How would you fare if you were thrust into a pointed conversation with a quick wit? What if you where in jeopardy – can you say: What is a deer in the headlights? Mr. Trebek

At this time of year the school system spits out another crop of peons with high hopes and delusions of grandeur. My most ardent wish to them is that disappointment doesn’t break you down

Just like any other crop there are those who will grow to heights that most of us can only dream of – like a lottery ticket. For some of your classmates luck plays a big part in their success. Lucky things like a stable environment with mom at home, dad bringing home plenty of bacon and 2.5 children who whine if they don’t get their Bling

I threw in the street word bling to make a point; when you, the graduating class of 2018 are out there in real life situations you’ll encounter surprises. Imagine you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time with 81 street wise gentlemen, and nothing to defend yourself with except a rolled up diploma – surprise

Unless you can run faster than a stolen car, you’d better have the ability to adjust. In this case the gift of gab will either get you in or in trouble

The point I’m trying to bestow upon those who think that they know it all, is that when push comes to shove, you don’t know Jack Sheet

Jack Sheet is a well rounded person. He has shaken hands with those who shook the world, drank wine from a poor man’s cup and climbed a mountain, just to fall down the other side. Yet he stood up, cleaned himself off and is now writing columns for those willing to publish his rants

I suffer from dyslexia, although not to the extent it was when I attended school, then one day, by sheer luck I bought a pair of amber colored sunglasses. The amber tinted plastic permitted my mind to overcome the affliction, and it opened a whole new world to me. For the first time in my life the letters stopped changing; a ‘W’ wasn’t ‘M’, a ‘B’ wasn’t the number thirteen etc.

At the time I was thirty-five years old with a grade seven education at best.

So if anyone knows the value of an education it’s this columnist. I’m pleading with future fools, who think they can Google their way through school and life; please put the phone down and observe, absorb and then teach future fools. Hopefully one day we’ll stop electing them

Another point I’d like to make is that I felt like a fool for not knowing how to read. I felt stupid when people would utter words that I didn’t know. Even today my ability to read is still a labored act; but I still thirst for another drink from that well of knowledge

Now back to the crop metaphor: all of you 2018 wiz-kids will become part of feeding pyramid we call society. Sadly in this garden there will be criminal weeds and stupid hay-seeds, but the majority of you will succeed in life; buy a house and have 2.5 kids

My final point Poindexters is that money can’t buy soul.


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Stupid is as stupid does, art
One look at me and you’ll see a Native looking back at you. But if you were to hear me on the phone you’d never guess that I was brown-ish.

Because of my environment, I never picked up the Native accent. We’ve all heard Native spokesmen on TV speaking with a lazy nasal tone. I’ve met some of these Rez boys and girls in person, and when speaking with them off camera they tend to sound just like any other Canadian.

Some things have changed over the years, but it’s not easy being brown.

Do you think that federal, provincial and local politics are hard to phantom? Imagine adding at least thirteen more layers of bilateral bureaucracies on top all that. That’s why you don’t see Native owned and operated businesses on reservations.

Take yours truly; I don’t live on my reservation, but I have traditional holdings and I’ve wanted to put businesses on my property for forty long years. The mountain of paperwork alone could kill a thousand trees.

The obstacles aren’t only government bureaucracy; they include things like the mood of the chief and councilors and who you’re related to.

Someone once said that the only constant is change. I can assure you they didn’t live on a reservation.

Not to belittle anyone’s ancestors; but first it was the fork-tongued devils who took Native lands. Today, Natives are stealing from Natives!

I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s as true as the sun will shine, waters flow and the grass gets smoked.

If I didn’t keep up the fight all these years; my own people had plans for Bates land.

It all goes back to the Indian act of 1867. Basically we Natives are owned by the government, and the land is controlled at the federal level.

There was a time not that many generations ago that a Native could hunt, fish and explore from horizon to horizon. Today most Natives are forced to work off reservation to make a living.

Canada will allow myself and others, to raise cows and chickens and such on our land, but we can’t use those traditional lands to start businesses – talk about keeping them down on the farm.

I once wrote a column about reservation brain drain. Any Native with any get-up and go, does exactly that. They pack up and leave, because of a lack of opportunity.

You want to hear an even bolder statement? I can’t stand the sound of those TV drum-beaters.

All these drummers who stand in the way of mining, development and pipelines because they don’t want to disturb the land are fools!

If some business people want to backup a truck of cash and drop it in your lap, and you say no – you deserve extinction.

Here is my reasoning; this planet has been through cataclysmic changes, and it has always ‘healed’. Volcanoes, Earthquakes and asteroids have all taken their shot at this planet, yet here we stand on solid ground.

With today’s environmental laws and reclamation contracts in place, it’s lunacy to turn down a chance to fund a brighter future for your tribe, and at the same time have the resources to recapture our past glory. Not to mention the pride that comes with being self-sufficient.

If the TV drum-beaters would stop and think; they’d realize that we are one invention away from oil becoming as obsolete as the steam engine.


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For those of us who are not one of the one percent – Christmas can be a budget stretching, nerve racking stress fest.
Sorry for the reminder, but its better coming from a jokester like me than your spouse, your banker or even worse your in-laws.

Are you looking at a Ho, Ho, Ho season with not enough dough, dough, dough? Then my friend, you’d better get cracking, because the Chris Cringle cash crunch is coming down a chimney near you.

Just like Santa, you too, should make a list and check it twice. Think of your interactions with people over the past year. Who has been naughty to you, who has been nice and who deserves a lump of coal to fall on their head.
Start your list with the naughty, people who judge thee, the greedy and ending with something really naughty for the one you’re with.

At this time of year a lot of us wish upon a Christmas star in the hopes that the lotto-fairy would sprinkle a little lucky dust on us. But just like my childhood Christmas wish for a 3 speed, banana seat bike with the Easy Rider handlebars – it ain’t happening – then again, this is the season of hope.

We all know who the villains are in our lives – maybe it’s a so called friend, a mean co-worker or a rocky relationship with a relative. Just remember that in the spirit of the season and peace on Earth, we may have to smile, and at the very least give them a card. No one has to know that you secretly wish it contained a one-way ticket to Kissitstan.

If you’re going to have a house full of guests for the festive feast, get ready for hours of cooking, a huge mess and a huge bill with all the trimmings.

Christmas turkeys cost the same, no matter if you’re Scrooge McDuck or just a poor cluck like me. Let’s not forget the sweet potatoes, cranberries and pie. Then there are the liquid beverages from dad’s Old Granddad bourbon to junior’s juice boxes.

It all adds up, and if you happen to have a spare room, a comfy-couch or even a summer-floaty, you’ll be also cooking a big family breakfast.
Don’t forget you’ll have to gas up the tank and take them around town, show them the sights and feed those mooches lunch too.

The only thing that would makes things worse is if they had a terrible two year old brat, a big drooling dog and a bad habit of waking up a 5 am to watch TV.

The next test of your ho, ho, ho spirit is to organize everyone’s every move and movement right down to buying extra toilet paper.

As time ticks down to the big day, and every bow is neatly in its place – you’d think you could finally take a rest from your stress – you’d be wrong.

Answer me this why do people wake up so damned early on Christmas morning?

Well it’s not over yet, after the ribbons and bows get cleaned up, dinner gets started. Pots and pans begin to rattle, the bird gets stuffed and everyone is seated and ready to drudge up old family business.

After all the shopping, wrapping and decorating – the whole thing is over before you know it – and everyone is thinking the same thing: is that it?


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Like most of you, I have never really pondered my own self worth. It’s a subject, I feel, that would only appeal to the lonely, the vain or someone who is contemplating their mortality.

In the name of truth; I’ll admit that I’m a little from each column.

Speaking of columns, the reason that you haven’t seen my wit in type is because I leave every summer and travel from town to town painting windows for different events.

On my journeys I spend a lot of time behind the wheel chasing an endless horizon. Between the drum of the music and the hum of the tires a person can get hypnotized – it gives a person’s mind time to wonder into uncharted scenarios.

Take for instance you’ve crossed paths with a rude dude who snapped at you for no good reason. Not only did he ruin that moment, your mind takes the rest of the day to ponder that jerks fate.

Some of you might imagine his head bursting into flames, while others might feel sorry for that rude, inconsiderate ugly person. Some people might even go as far as to punch him on the nose, while others just wish they could do it – to me, the worst thing of all, is thinking of a great retort – too late, and after the fact.

During my long drives and hotel stays, I get lonely. Other than me the TV and the four walls, the only thing to break the ice is my imagination.

Now, this is where we may, or may not vary. The reason for that statement is because I’m an artist, and I’ve been told that we, artsy folks, think differently, and I believe it to be true.

A relentless imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. It can help me think outside the box, and it can also create beautiful art out of life’s blood, sweat and tears. The down side is that I can feel alone in a room full of normal people.

This is where my vanity comes creeping in and asking the question: what is my own self worth, and how do I measure it? Is my value determined by what others think of me or is it what I think of others?

Do we have ‘stations’ in life? And who in the name of heaven or hell gets to determine that?

Will a day come when people stand over my grave and wail we will miss you or will they spill a stream of used beer on my epitaph?

I warned you that I think out of the box – maybe I should write you a happy ending.

I’m a big believer in Karma, what goes around comes around and you are what you eat – just kidding about that last one, but you get my drift.

One day I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking that my business is down but my bills go up. I’m a reasonable person, I don’t harm man nor beast and I’m productive not destructive, yet there are times when I just feel like throwing in the towel and saying what’s the use?

Later that day I attended an event and was greeted with open arms by friends, acquaintances and even a few of my readers. They all smiled and said the same thing: “Where have you been?”

That felt like a million bucks of self worth.


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A lot of businesses in the sunny Okanagan depend upon the flow of cash from the river of money that tourists bring to beautiful B.C. But this year because of the wild fires all those loonies dried up and blew away in a puff of smoke.

Even though the OK valley was okay as far as not having any major fires burning in our area – the media grabbed onto the story like a puppy goes for a slipper – and they wouldn’t let it go.

Day in and day out, the news blared that the province was on fire, with film on the hour every hour. To the media a story is like a dog with a bone. Even though there isn’t any meat left on it, they’ll still fight, scratch and bite at it until it’s all gone.

A lot of our tour-trade is with Americans, who are just looking for a friendly place to take a vacation, where being a Yank won’t get you scoffed at or shot at just because of your elected president.

But again, the media just added fuel to the BC fires. By simply turning on the boob tube, you’d think the entire province, from the 49th parallel to the Alaskan pan-handle was ablaze, an inferno or as one broadcaster said: “It’s hell on earth!”

All this chatter lead to Twitter and soon Instagram and Facebook joined in and spread the word faster than (ironically) a grass fire. It wasn’t long before ABC, NBC, CNN and CBC were highlighting BC. All of this electronic buzz, it made our province about as popular a vacation hot-spot as Syria.

I’ll admit that there were a lot of fires this year, but not everywhere was a blaze. Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and the Okanagan were open for business, but that didn’t make news.

While the world stayed away in droves, businesses here had to stay open. They’d already paid for their summer inventory, advertised and hired extra staff. I can only imagine it would be like holding an ice cream and watching it melt all over your hand.

As a writer I’d say that I have some sway on the way you may pay it forward today (try writing that four times fast).

This is what I’d like you to do: Facebook, Snapshot, Instagram and Twitter away the message: Va-Ka in your own back yard. Hashtag that my fellow Okanaganites.

We all know someone who works in the tourist industry or maybe even owns a small shop in valley. So instead of hopping on a jet plane, go to a downtown near you.

Have you ever seen a Sicamous sunset, ogled an Osoyoosite or loitered around Lumby?
Even better yet stay right here in Westbank. Pick a world famous Okanagan apple, drink in the view from a vineyard or maybe even a naughty night in a local hotel.

I have one more thing to suggest to my dear readers: if you see someone scoff at campfire bans or throw a cigarette out of a car window – rat the rat out!

At the same time you’re calling *5555 on your cell phone, to report the fire-bug, imagine all the pain and loss people endure because of someone’s ignorance.

Back in days of yore, before the invasion, we Natives would use fire to control fire, burning as the snows melted – simple.


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If your home happens to be in the desert then may I suggest that you buy sunglasses, deodorant and a t-shirt that reads: Albino, free-zone.

Some people go on and on about this thing or that thing. There’s and old cowboy saying: “Some folks would bitch if they were hung with a used rope.”

I love this time of year, life slows down and it’s a good excuse to rest under the shade of an old tree. The shores come alive with children playing and couples holding hands as they stroll along the water’s edge. The smell of barbeques waft through the evening air as you sit on your porch with a tall cold one.

Damned, life is good in the Okanagan valley.

Summer is also a time for families to rekindle their ties. People pack up their cares and woes and drive so that they may share them with their relatives – sometimes for weeks on end.

Some kids visit their adoring grandparents while at the same time other grandparents are heading for the hills to avoid becoming summertime babysitters.

As the temperature rises everything begins to change, from the foods we eat to the clothes on our backs; or should I say the lack there of?

One old boy, Jack, who is 92 years old, once said to me: “The young girls begin to shed.”

I’m sure there is an old uptight, stuck up moral cop who might say that Jack is just a dirty old man. As for myself, Jack’s words give me hope, just knowing that when I reach the autumn of my life I’ll still appreciate beauty and forever be a boy of summer.

People from all across this great land have landed here for one reason or another, but the main reason is because of our cozy climate.

Back east it’s not only as hot as hell it’s as humid as a hairy armpit. The flat-landers (prairies) come here for the mountain’s majesty and stay for the mild winters. If you still have any doubts that you’re not in the land of milk and sunny – just ask any one of our many, many Albertans.

Every year my wife and I take a holiday, and for the last few years we’ve stayed close to home, and so did our money. Have you ever been to Nakusp? How about the Cariboo or the Kootenay area? Even closer to home you’ll find gold in Hedley, wine in Oliver and history at the O’Keefe ranch near Vernon.

So instead of sitting on your wallet and complaining about the weather – get off your assets and discover your own backyard. After all, a million Albertans can’t all be wrong.


Bernie Bates is a writer and an artist Email him at:

In the Deepest, Darkest Parts of Our Hearts

You must admit you’ve had evil little thoughts from time to time. We’ve all had them, because we’ve all wished ill on another. Even the most holy-roller has the devil to curse.
Don’t feel bad if you wished your neighbor’s yappy mutt got laryngitis and had to go to a peaceful farm in the country.
In the minds of most people, that’s where it ends. For others, they may continue to obsess about that dumb beast until they too become dumb beasts.
Rage can be triggered from something as simple as a drive in the car.
Who among us hasn’t wondered about the mentality of the person in the passing lane who is matching speed with another mental case in the slow lane? Don’t they have mirrors to see the ever growing line-up of cars behind them?
Is the driver purposely playing traffic cop, or, are they just inconsiderate Canadians?
Maybe they’re unaware they are the ones breaking the law. I’m sure they too have seen those signs along the road reading: “SLOWER DRIVERS KEEP RIGHT or KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS.”
Ah, that felt good to express myself. I sincerely hope I’m doing the same for my readers and all people in the rear view mirror.
But this is where we, as a civil society, should draw the line. To cross the line between sanity and road rage is as easy as choosing between the force of good and the dark side.
Rage is just one of the multitudes of triggers that can cause someone to get violent or have an emotional meltdown that makes Chernobyl look like dripping wax.
If rages are red and melancholy is blue, that leaves jealousy, the green-eyed monster, and you.
Let’s imagine you yearn for an unattainable heart and a golden future. Then some loser, whom you went to school with, buys a winning lottery ticket at the same place where you just bought a loser ticket. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the lucky schmuck then marries your dream and goes on to have three very ugly children.
I wonder if you could then look me in the eye and tell me that you never had any nasty little day-dreams about your old schoolmate? If you could honestly do that, then I think you deserve a medal, or at the very least a metal plate for your head.
To wish upon a star is a wonderful childhood memory, but to seek out vengeance is a childish act. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t wish the villain their comeuppance; just don’t take the yappy mutt to a peaceful farm in the country.
I do see a bright future for humanities’ dark thoughts. Man comes from a violent history marred by wars and hatred. I’m sure there was a time if some chariot driver cut you off in traffic it was punishable by beheading.
If you are seeing red, green or feeling blue, don’t seek the blackness of revenge, seek help instead. Talk to a buddy, or, do what I do: draw pictures of grumpy people and poke holes in it.
For those who can’t draw, just imagine you’re the loser from high school and you just won $50 million dollars and go on to have three beautiful children.
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