Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Steel Shell, Gold Heart

she is barely awake when, with a sad heart
I leave her each morning
to engage in a full day of flirting
with my big city mistress
the daily love-hate relationship
which goes nowhere, yet I can't resist
the coy and glamorous charms

and each night, well after the sun has set
despite my daily betrayal
my true love welcomes me back
comforts me in her warm embrace

my home, my city, my Hamilton

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Confessions of a Muggle

Francine and I took our niece to see Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire on the weekend. It’s sort of been a tradition. Ever since it was first announced they were going to make movies based on the bestselling series of books, I promised Taylor that I’d take her to see each and every movie. You gotta know that she’s a great kid when she’ll still be seen in the company of her nerdy uncle even though she’s at that age where it’s cool to completely avoid such situations.

I have a few confessions to make now, related to the Harry Potter movie:

It was pretty frightening. Yeah, I know, I’m a horror writer, and I did read the book, so I should have known what to expect, after all. But when Voldemort came back to life in the graveyard scene, I felt a shiver go down my spine. And I couldn’t help but think back to the last movie villain who did that to me. Sure enough, good old Darth Vader - man that guy scared the crap out of me whenever he walked on screen.

I have a schoolboy crush on Hermoine. No, nothing perverse, I just think that Emma Watson is an adorable actress. I liken my "crush" on her to be similar to the one I had on Megan Follows (of Anne of Green Gables fame). Yes, my schoolboy crushes tend to be on cute, wholesome and feisty characters.

I’m only one book ahead of the movie. I know I should be caught up, but I’ve only read to book four so far. I’ve been ensuring that I read the book before each movie comes out, but I’m still behind. Two books behind, in fact. I’m really hoping to change that soon. Order of the Phoenix, here I come!

Taylor is technically not our niece. She is, however, one of the coolest kids that I know. Taylor is my cousin's stepdaughter, and thus a cousin. Because my cousin and I grew up practically as brothers his children (Taylor and Madison) are very much like nieces to me, and Rodney and Susan are definitely Uncle Rodney and Aunt Susan to Alexander. So there!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Tag - I'm It!

My buddy Pete tagged me with this silly blog version of a chain letter - but, as they say “When in Rome . . . see if you can make a lunch date with the Pope” (or something along those lines). And this is a bit more fun than those sentimental statement chain emails that tell you some glorious truism about life and then make you feel guilty if you don’t send it back to the person who sent it to you as well as 100 other friends.


Rules are as follows: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump everyone up one place; add your blog to the #5 spot.

Here's Your Sign

MamaKBear's World

Not so silent lucidiy

Life Isn't Fair

Mark Leslie

Next: Select 5 new friends to piss off.

The Lone Consultant
Rick Mercer

(Lucky you’re in London right now Gwen, ‘cause you were gonna be next - but I put Rick into your place instead - let’s see if he’ll play, because I'm sure his answers would be hilarious)

--------------- Q & A ---------------

What were you doing 10 years ago?

In 1995 I was living in Ottawa, a few years after graduating from Carleton University and, having given up on the thought that I could write full time and work a multitude of part-time jobs (Theatre Technician, Security Guard, Trade Show Laborer) and still make ends meet, I’d taken the plunge for full-time work (with actual benefits) at the very low paying (but guaranteed full-time hours) roll of bookseller within Coles. I think 1995 was about the time that Coles and SmithBooks merged to become Chapters (little did we know that Chapters would be taken over by Indigo some 5 years later)

I had been writing back then as well. That year, apart from a handful of reviews of novels and anthologies and magazines, I published a single short story in Crossroads magazine. It was called “But Once A Year”

1995 was a good year for me because Francine and I were engaged, but it was also a tough year because my best friend and long-running room-mate Steve and I finally parted ways when Fran and I moved in together in a condo in Nepean and out of the Glebe in Ottawa where I’d spent some of the best years of my young adult life.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

One year ago I was working for the very same company I’d been working at in 1995. Okay, so it’s been 2 different companies since then (Coles became Chapters became Indigo), but I’ve held the same employee ID all these years. The company changed and I survived all half dozen mergers through those years. One year ago I was going into my first Christmas season where I wasn’t in a management role (it was blissful), and I was eagerly anticipating my son’s first Christmas.

With my writing, I was just coming off the high of having my short story collection “One Hand Screaming” published and a series of book signings in Sudbury, and Hamilton.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1) Salt and vinegar potato chips
2) Tortilla Chips and salsa
3) Hot buttered popcorn
4) Peanut M&M’s
5) Beer (it is too a snack food)

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

You mean besides “Row, Row, Row Your Boat?” (I mean, who doesn’t know the lyrics to that one - of course, it took a while to realize that it wasn’t a song about a girl named “Mary-Lee”)

In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins)
Like the goofy intense artist in that Seinfeld episode who claimed “Desperato” was his song, this was my song for most of my teenage years. Good old Phil

In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)
Francine and I used this as “our first dance” song at our wedding. Gabriel’s “So” had always been a favourite album of mine, and we’d wanted a non-traditional song that we loved and that had special meaning for us for our special “first” dance.

Cats in the Cradle (Cat Stevens)
This song always made me cry when I was young, always having a soft spot in my heart for father-son relationships. Now that I’ve been blessed with the privilege of being a father, it still makes me cry - I haven’t been able to get through a single round of singing it to Alexander without crying, even though, so far, we’re pretty tight, he and I, because I haven’t had a plane to catch while he was learning to walk.

Tears (RUSH)
Okay, so I know all the lyrics from virtually every song off of the every Rush album up until the last two. I chose this one for two reasons -- a) because many of my favourite Rush tunes can be traced back to the album 2112 and b) because I was such a Rush nerd that I circulated a petition in high school to get the DJ to play this ballad at a dance and I danced to this song with the girl who completely owned my heart at the time. I started to learn how to play this song on the guitar a few years ago and will likely return to learn this song as well as Madrigal

The Theme Song to Cheers (Gary Portnoy - “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”)
Yes, I know ALL the lyrics from the full song, not just the shortened version they played for the show’s theme. My heart broke when Cheers was finally pulled off the air, as I had a great ritual of sitting down to watch an episode late at night after getting home from work and drinking a beer (or two or three) in my favourite chair. I had a blast when I taught this song to my drama students and the tune “Where Everybody Knows Your Name” represented the drama studio’s open and friendly welcoming atmosphere. (Not sure why no parents ever got upset that I was teaching their children a song about a bar) Along these lines, I can still recite the theme songs to “Gilligan’s Island”, “The Fall Guy”, “Perfect Strangers”, “The Dukes of Hazard” and “Bosom Buddies” (which was really just Billy Joel’s “My Life”) If I try really hard, I can recite the theme to “Alice” and hum the tune to “Knight Rider”

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1) Keep my day job for long enough to enjoy the occasional rented helicopter commute from Hamilton to Toronto. (I would offer rides, of course, to my GO train buddies)
2) I would see what it would be like to roll around naked in a huge pile of money
3) I’d likely eat out more often rather than taking my lunch to work every day
4) I’d set up a trust fund in my father’s name and dole out money each year to a young person who demonstrates a love and passion for the great outdoors
5) I would buy you a monkey. "Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?” I know I have. (with a tip of my hat to the Bare Naked Ladies)

Five bad habits:
1) I bite my nails (it drives Fran nuts)
2) I sing popular tunes with modified lyrics to match the day’s circumstances
3) Frequently commit to more than I can handle
4) Sometimes when people are talking there’s a little Homer Simpson in my head running around a tree chasing a squirrel and giggling like a school girl -- too often I’m paying more attention to that image than I am to the conversation at hand. (But man does it ever get me through a lot of boring meetings)
5) I’m convinced that everyone else on the highway is an asshole but me. (No wait, that’s not a bad habit, that’s the truth, dammit!)

Five things you like doing:
1) Writing
2) Reading
3) Laughing (with friends or just by myself when planning great schemes - mwah hah hah!)
4) Going on a date with my wife - just the two of us, nice conversation, staring into her beautiful eyes
5) Reminiscing with strangers (it really keeps me on my toes)

Five things you would never wear again:
1) My cousin’s bra and nightie (don’t ask, it was a dare)
2) Toothpaste on my eyelids (I was pretending to be a zombie and scare a younger friend of mine - man that stuff smarts when you get it in your eyes)
3) That smug “I told you so” smile that precedes me having to sleep on the couch or in the garage
4) Briefs (I love my boxers)
5) That sleeveless black leather “Playboy” vest-shirt I wore in high school that I thought made me look cool

Five favorite toys:
1) Lego’s (particularly “Space Lego”)
2) Mr. Potato Head
3) X-Box (the old one, not the new 360 thing-a-ma-gig)
4) Does my basement beer tap and bar count as a toy?
5) Power tools

Thursday, November 24, 2005

HNT in 3-D

Today’s Half-Nekkid Thursday shot is in honor of the 3-D airing of Medium this week. Francine took this picture of me enjoying Monday night’s episode. As you can see, I found the experience a little frightening and suspenseful.

Fran suggested that perhaps I could pose wearing the 3-D glasses on another body part, and give my HNT friends a more exciting 3-D experience. While I’m sorry to disappoint my HNT visitors, I’m sure my regular readers are quite relieved that I went with the more conservative and humorous pose.


What is this HNT (Half-Nekkid Thursdays) thing all about?
Want to participate? Check it out by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

My Boots & Me

With the impending 5-10 cm of snow coming (later today according to our weatherman), Fran took Alexander out yesterday to buy his first pair of boots. The lady at the store warned Francine that most kids didn't "take" to new boots right away and might have trouble walking in them.

Alexander jumped to his feet, ran to the mirror and stood there, admiring his new boots. Then he shot off into the mall, eager to show them off to anyone passing by. Fran corralled him back, (he hasn't yet figured out the "you have to pay for it" rule of adulthood) where he walked over to the mirror again, then plunked himself down and sat there, sashaying his feet back and forth, admiring the reflected image of the bottoms of the boots.

When I got home from work last night, he was eager to show me his latest possession. He excitedly helped as Francine got the boots onto him and then was delighted in walking around, showing off to me.

It was hilarious to see how much the extra weight of the boots made him walk like Lee Majors. It makes me want to go out and buy a few seasons of The Six Million Dollar Man or perhaps The Fall Guy on DVD. They're available, right?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Resist The Pull Of The Dark Side

I have to admit that my afternoon “GO” friends really look out for me. In the past week both Dawn-Marie and Christina have taken the time to both send me links to where I can find the “Star Wars” themed Mr Potato Head called Darth Tater, where I can get it for half price this week (Zellers) as well as collected an extra pair of the special Medium 3-D glasses for me. Thanks, ladies. I greatly appreciate the efforts you’ve made, and tip my hat to you.

The special Darth Tater spud and an overheard conversation on the GO train this morning has made me think about the trend in downloading movies. And here I’m going to reveal my personal bias about the phenomenon. I think the technology rocks, but I’m not all that fond of stealing.

Call it an unpopular opinion -- but it’s mine.

I’m reminded of, earlier this year, my neighbour bragging to us that for her son’s birthday, friends of theirs gave him a copy of Revenge of the Sith on DVD the day after it came out in theatres. I thought the whole thing was strange -- I mean, sure, it was a unique gift, and likely something that nobody else got him but, ultimately her friends were giving her son stolen pirated merchandise. I wonder if they’d have been as proud if they said, "I was too cheap to buy your son a gift so I pirated something for him," or "I slipped into Wal-Mart and stole this DVD for your son. Happy Birthday Austin -- oh, don’t mind those sirens. Okay, gotta go."

What makes one a crime and another a very socially acceptable act? I mean, besides how we've gotten so good at justifying things.

What makes me so nervous to voice this unpopular opinion? (It's not that I've ever been popular or voiced a popular opinion all that often, but still . . .)

Is it because I’m a writer and engaged in acts of creative expression? Well, it’s not like I actually make a living on my writing or can say I’ve ever really suffered from the theft of my work. But maybe I have a soft spot for the people who have worked to create the music, the movies, the games. No, I’m not sympathizing with the "big bad" money-grubbing industry executives who are part of our justification that the pirating and stealing isn't "wrong", but the thousands upon thousands of people that they employ in various degrees, and yes, even those beyond the directors, producers, actors and even writers. Won't there come a time when their own livlihoods are at stake?

Apparently, I’m the only one who has a problem with this trend. Call me old-fashioned, call me a nerd, you can even call me a hypocrite, because sure, I’ve burned a copy of a CD that I bought for a friend and had friends burn me a copy of something from their own CD collection, and taped vinyl albums to cassette (if anyone still remembers what those things are); I've played games on my PC that I copied from friends and I’ve even used my share of “borrowed” bandwidth when posting images on this site.

Sure, the technology makes it easy, makes it accessible. But we should know better, shouldn't we -- that the right thing isn't always the easy thing to do?

So while I’m surrounded on all sides by a society that finds pirating music, videos, games, etc as acceptable, I’ve been relatively steadfast in trying not to be lured to the dark side, at least not regularly. Sure, I've had my moments, when I've been led into temptation, but I try really hard to avoid it.

Besides, while I do look good in black, I don’t think I’d look all that good as Darth Mark.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Is For Alliteration

While working on my werewolf novel, I’ve had to construct some background for my main character. Michael Andrews is a successful mystery writer with a series of books about an antiques dealer with a passion for solving historic mysteries.

I’ve noticed that sometimes long-running mystery writing series featuring a recurring main character deploy a standard naming convention, (Linwood Barclay, for example uses “Bad” in the title of his hilarious Zack Walker mystery series, Kay Hooper has used “Evil” “Fear” and “Shadows” in the titles of different mystery series’ she’s written, James Patterson has done a series using 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, and in his “Bobby Emmett” series, Denis Hamill seems to have used a number value in each title) so I thought that perhaps I’d use that type of convention.

A particular author that I remember speculating about in the past was Sue Grafton. She’s written books using titles such as:
A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse
I remember joking with other bookseller types about what Sue Grafton might do after she reaches Z. What next?

I had two thoughts. She could either move on to numbers (1 is for 1 Dead Body, 2 is for 2 Gunshot Wounds, 3 is for 3 Unsuspecting Victims) or she could double up the letters of the alphabet (AA is for Accused Assassin, BB is for Befuddled Burglar, CC is for Cocaine Caper) The glorious list goes on -- I, of course, would welcome other amusing suggestions via the comment section from those with an itch to share their own.
The best I could come up with so far for the fictitious novels Michael Andrews is writing will be the use of alliteration in them. One of his books is called “Print of the Predator” another is called “The Gambler’s Gambit” and other “Roost of the Ruthless Raven”

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nano Nano

Since November is National Novel Writing Month, I have tried to get back to regularly working on my novel with the working title of "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" - I've neglected it for a while due to editing work on North of Infinity II, reading submissions for North of Infinity III and, of course, a slew of self-promotion activities through October and early November.

But no more excuses, have to keep chipping away at this novel. I'm up to about 21,000 words. It's coming along slowly, but at least it's still moving and isn't at a dead stop. And no, I won't finish it by the end of this month, but I'd be good to knock off a few thousand more words.

Cdn Werewolf in NY
21601/ 70000 (31%)

Along with working on the continued story of Michael Andrews, my Canadian werewolf living in Manhattan, I'm still working at the original 10,000 word short story that ended up turning into this novel project. With a bit more tightening, I think it would still make a nice story in and of itself.

I also recently started a "back and forth" story with friend Carol Weekes. It was a tale that I'd written the first scene for but then wasn't sure where to go next. When I flipped it over to Carol, she not only polished up the original scene, making it into a tighter, more fulfilling piece, but she also gave the tale a new momentum. I've since added my own section to the tale and sent it back to her -- it's been ages since we've done this type of work and I'm delighted to be working with her again. Carol is a brilliantly gifted writer, and it's always very inspiring to collaborate on writing projects with her.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Lunch Cultures

Every so often a news report, newspaper or magazine re-reveals to the world a startling fact about bacteria. Studies have shown that while many office workers eat lunch at their desks, it’s actually one of the worst places to consume food due to the incredibly high degree of bacteria there.

In fact, the bacteria at the average office worker’s desk is often multiple times worse than the bacteria found in a toilet stall in that same office. I guess the idea of multi-tasking, of eating one’s lunch while continuing to do work comes with its risks.

But I'm not taking that risk any longer.

No way. I'm turning over a new leaf today.

If anyone is looking for me this lunch hour, I’ll be in the last stall on the right. But don't worry about my productivity, I'll still be multi-tasking in there.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Conan The Octogenarian - HNT

Based on feedback from last week’s HNT shot (one of me in my early 20’s in the “Conan The Barbarian” costume that had been made for me when I was a teen), I thought I’d unveil a picture of me back when the costume actually fit properly, and one of me in the costume now.

So, the top no longer zippers up. (When making a series of “Tough Guys Big Adventure” home movies with my buddy John Ellis - me playing the role of Conehead The Barbarian and he playing the role of Mystroni the Magician, I ended up wearing the top backwards, like a vest. I still don’t know how I got it zipped for that Halloween party one year) But I was able to get the bottoms on. Snug, but apparently I’ve grown more in the shoulders than in my waist and butt over the past couple of decades.

Since Fran wasn’t around to take a full frontal shot of me in the costume, or at least in part of the costume, I thought I’d do a down-looking shot. When I noticed that I was still wearing the black socks I’d been wearing during the day, I thought it might be fitting to put on my sandals and complete the “trilogy of photos” by offering Conan as a young man, Conan as a twenty-something party animal and then Conan as a retired old man, complete with black socks and sandals.

Conan The Octogenarian - complete with black socks & sandals


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Rick Mercer Report

Now that the CBC strike is over, Rick Mercer returns to his half hour news/comedy show on CBC. Last year it was called Monday Report, but he got pushed to Tuesday, so the show is now called Rick Mercer Report. (That way he can keep the same name as they keep bopping his timeslot around)

This year, among his many other "viewer participation" bits, he's doing a "photo challenge" whereby he offers a photo and asks viewers to "photoshop" or modify the shots with some hilarious results.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

That's "Grande" In Starbucks Lingo

I’m a little disturbed that I forgot to hang on to those thin cardboard 3-D glasses I had in the 80’s -- because next Monday CTV will be airing Medium in 3-D. Viewers can pick up their free pair of 3-D glasses in this Saturday’s Globe & Mail.

I’m excited about the whole thing. Francine just started to shake her head and said, "I’m not wearing those stupid glasses to watch a television program." But I’m pretty sure that she’ll come around once the show starts. (I also remember that 3-D movies were not necessarily easy on the naked eye to watch -- I recall that, when you watched a film shot in 3-D without the glasses, the picture seemed blurry, like a weak satellite signal or an ancient television picture tube)

But I’m not about to buy two copies of the Globe & Mail - especially not the more expensive Saturday edition. Besides, I barely have time to read one copy of the paper, never mind two. So I’m reaching out, asking anyone who regularly reads Saturday’s Globe & Mail and doesn’t watch Medium. Can I borrow your glasses. I’ll give ‘em back, you know, in case they start airing reality television programming in 3-D.

Monday, November 14, 2005

One Way Is The Right Way

Some group of brainwaves, in their infinite wisdom, have convinced Hamilton City Hall that it would be a good idea to revive the downtown core by switching as many streets as possible from one way to two way. I have to admit that when I first moved to Hamilton the heavy presence of one-way streets in the downtown area was a little confusing. But it didn’t take more than a few trips down those streets to realize the brilliance of one-way traffic. For example, I was able to get from our home on Hamilton Mountain to the GO station, to Fran’s downtown office, to Theatre Aquarius, to Hess Village or to Copp’s Coliseum in a fraction of the time because of the steady flow of Hamilton’s downtown streets.

With one-way streets, you can get four lanes of traffic flowing in a single direction. Even when people are parked in the two curbside lanes, you still get two solid lanes of traffic. And you don’t get the same old cross-directional “left-hand turn” issues that can slow down the flow. With two-way streets, those four lanes are cut down to two, and with curbside parking, you get a single lane of traffic in each direction. Hmm, I wonder which one allows higher volumes of traffic through?

On my nightly drive home through Hamilton, I enjoy taking different routes through the city. I enjoy experiencing the heart of our town. But lately, with the change of John and James Street to two-way streets, it’s taking me much longer to drive the route that takes me closest through the downtown core. This will mean one less regular visitor. How regularly do I stop and buy something downtown? Not often; maybe once or twice a month. But I’m sure if makes a difference and that I’m not the only one. If you increase traffic through an area you increase the possibility of money being deposited there. Just because I'm stopped in my car at the side of the road fuming because traffic is at a standstill doesn't mean I'm going to step out and purchase something from a shop on the side of the road. I'm more apt to chose a different route.

New York, one of the world’s largest cities, with the largest volume of traffic that I’ve ever experienced, has a plethora of one-way streets. Why? Because it’s one of the most efficient ways to move that many vehicles through that tight a space.

So if it’s good enough for the Big Apple why isn’t it good enough for Steeltown?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lest We Forget

Today is Remembrance Day, a tradition originally inspired by World War I, “The War to End All Wars” that involves a ceremony and a two minute silence held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It is a short moment in time to honour our veterans and the thousands upon thousands of men and women who gave their lives for their country.

I’m embarrassed at the blatant lack of respect today’s society shows for Remembrance Day. Sure, banks and government offices are closed today, but most of the people who aren’t crowded onto the GO Train with me today aren’t going to be participating in any ceremonies nor likely observing two minutes of silence. They’re likely just sleeping in then doing early Christmas shopping or perhaps getting in a last round of golf if the weather permits. Perhaps they’ll think about Remembrance Day when glancing at the local newspaper or catching a news update (all the news anchors have been wearing their poppies since before Halloween after all - that’s a good sign, at least)

When I was young, I remember Remembrance Day being a full or half day off from school where everyone participated in a local parade that often included local veterans. The parade always ended at the downtown Cenotaph with a ceremony of remembrance and the laying of wreaths. One year, I had the distinct honour of laying down the wreath for our local cup scout troop. Later on, when it wasn’t a day off, our schools held ceremonies, veterans came in and spoke to us about the horrors of war and the honour of standing for your country -- it was a big deal.

When I lived in Ottawa less than ten years ago it was still a big deal -- businesses in the city of Ottawa would stay closed until noon on Remembrance Day. The streets near the War Memorial downtown were closed as thousands of people flocked to pay their respects and remember.

But here in Toronto, I’ve yet to see much respect for anything other than the almighty dollar. It’s a real shame. I remember in 1999 just a few minutes before eleven on November 11th, an internal email was sent out to everyone in the company requesting a few moments of silence. It has been years since I’ve seen anything of the sort -- we have critically important work to do, after all, and can’t waste two minutes out of our day. Despite the fact that there are still wars going on (I won’t get started on using words like “needless”) and that Canada continues to lose soldiers in peacekeeping missions around the world, it’s a pity we can’t take a few moments out of our day to remember them and think about it all. Here on the GO Train perhaps half of the people I see are wearing poppies.

Francine is planning on taking Alexander downtown to the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Hamilton. I’m proud of that. I hope we can instill in our son a sense of history, a sense of respect and a sense of personal responsibility that he can wear with pride. I want him to appreciate where we live, what we have and the mostly peaceful existence we take for granted.

As for myself, while I’m shamefully bowing down to the almighty dollar and going in to work today, I’ve set the alarm on my watch for 11 AM. I plan on stopping just for a few minutes to remember. It’s the very least I can do.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Conehead The Barbarian - HNT


Since I'm home sick today, I thought I'd pull a "Half-Nekkid" photo out of the archives. This one goes back to at least 15 years ago when I was at a Halloween party dressed in my "Conan The Barbarian" costume. It had been made for me when I was about 14 years old and I could barely fit into it by the time this shot was taken. I still have the costume and it's quite the challenge to get into.

But it is one of my favourite shots - it was taken at Pat and Mike's (some buddies of mine that I knew through Sock'N'Buskin Theatre Company at Carleton University) Halloween party. This was the last shot on the roll of film (remember 35 MM film?) and was taken as I was complaining that someone beat me to get into the washroom.

Yes, this post is really just an indication that I'm STILL trying to hang on desperately to Halloween.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Action Hero Diversion

Normally I write my little posts while commuting in to work on the GO Train - I usually do it as part of a writing warm-up. However, this morning, I did no such warm-up, but just jumped immediately into writing a review of a wonderful collection of short stories called "Outcrops: Northeastern Ontario Short Stories"

But rather than leave this space blank, I thought I'd insert a little fun "quiz result" from a quiz that I found on my friend Michael Kelly's (otherwise known as the Dark Knight) livejournal. Anyone who knows me wouldn't me all that much suprised by the result of my taking this quiz . . .

You scored as The Amazing Spider-Man. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker was transformed from a nerdy high school student into New York's greatest hero. Peter enjoys the thrill of being a super hero, but he struggles with the burdens of leading a double life. He hopes someday to win the heart of his true love Mary Jane, the woman he's loved since before he even liked girls. Right now, he just wants to make it through college and pay his bills.

The Amazing Spider-Man


Indiana Jones


Batman, the Dark Knight


Neo, the "One"




Lara Croft


The Terminator


Captain Jack Sparrow


El Zorro


William Wallace


James Bond, Agent 007


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wham, Bam, Thank You Spam!

I keep getting these emails from a Nigeria man who asks me not to feel sorry for him, but is hoping, in good faith that I will listen to his plight. He is the son of a late general and is trying to keep vindictive government officials from taking his father's vast sums of wealth. If I can provide him with just my name, address, phone and fax number as well as bank account information, he will have his security firm deposit his father's 75,000,000 (seventy five million) dollars into my bank account. If I can help him, he assures me I can keep a reasonable percentage of this sum once the transaction is completed.

What, does he think that I’m a complete idiot?

Why would I do that?

Especially since I have this other email from a Saudi princess, who is offering, for the same details, 5% of her family’s 3 billion dollar riches. I'm no dummy. I'd rather take the sure thing, the 5% of 3 billion that an undetermined percentage of 75 million.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Kissing The Empty Page

I booked a table at Hamilton’s first Small Press Fair yesterday, thinking that the cost of the table ($10) would be a worthwhile price to give me a chance to get out and do a bit more self promotion.

That ten dollars was one of the best investments I’ve made in recent history. The event was well organized, well advertised (and slotted in to be run during the tail end of Hamilton’s literary festival, GritLit) and definitely well attended. I brought a book with me to read, thinking that there would be many quiet moments between noon and 5 PM that would need to be filled.

But on the contrary -- there was a constant and steady stream of people through the event. That, and I had the pleasure of sitting between two very interesting people: The talented Toronto artist eXavier Peterson on my left and humorist/artist/book binder James Spyker of 2X4 to the forehead on my right.

The fair had a stage in which different authors and musicians had a chance (about 15 minutes each) to read some of their work, providing a fitting and interesting background to the day. The stage area was, of course, hosted by Hamilton’s own literary renaissance man, Kerry Schooley. One of the scheduled segments on stage was spoken word with accompanying music (Dave Gould on percussion and Chris Pannell on bass guitar), and, when participation was a little lacking, Kerry jumped on stage in an attempt to show others how easy it was, and started reading random sections from the Fair’s show guide which included samples of each author’s work.

When Kerry started in on a spoken word rendition of my poem “The Sound of One Man Screaming” he gave it a far better reading than I could ever hope to do myself. Combined with the jazzy beat accompaniment, he kept jumping back to the following lines from the poem complete with perfectly matching body language:

The pen is lifted, balanced between three fingers

and brought down to kiss an empty page

I can honestly say that I’ve never heard my poetry performed in such a wonderfully stylistic manner. The whole spoken word segment, including the special bit performed by the New Phrenologists, a Hamilton music-performance poetry combo, was truly a thing to behold, and was quite addictive. I think I need to get out and listen to more.

In all, Hamilton's Small Press Fair was a wonderful way to spend the day.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hamilton Literary Awards

Last night Francine and I were planning on attending the 13th Annual Hamilton Literary Awards. It’s not like I stood a chance of actually being one of the winners last night, but those same odds don’t stop us from buying Lotto 649 or Super 7 tickets each week, and we were looking forward to a fun literary event. Since we didn’t go with season tickets to Theatre Aquarius this year we needed our fix of culture.

However, Alexander was running a bit of fever and not at all in a pleasant mood, so Fran planned on staying home with him rather than having her mother come over to look after him. I couldn’t very well go out drinking cocktails and expounding the virtues of the latest literary trends while Francine stayed home to look after our sick baby. So I stayed home too.

And the funny thing is, while I certainly missed the opportunity to go out to a fun literary event with Fran and mingle with some Hamilton area writers and arts folks, I wasn’t upset at missing the event. Instead, Fran and I made the most of the evening. After we got the little guy snuggled into bed we ordered a pizza and watched Donald Trump fire another young hopeful.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Naked Eye 2 1/2 - HNT

Here's a shot of my naked eye (since so many people loved my spooky eye boxers on last week's Half-Nekked Thursday, I thought I'd stick with the theme) - okay, my eye is not entirely naked, because I was wearing my Boston Lens contacts in the shot. That, and the photo was also touched up by my graphic artist friend Steve Gaydos -- he added the image of a skull (one that Francine's Grandmother drew in 1935) - this was used for the cover of my book.

Can you make out the skull? It's in profile view, looking to the right (or stage left for the theatre-minded) and in a slightly downward angle, with the back "ball" of its head right where my eyeball is.

To help folks with being able to "see" the skull, I've included a scan of the original sketch (which is right facing rather than right facing and tilted severel degress down inside my eye)

In any case, happy HNT!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


I'm always a little sad when Halloween is over. I love the whole thing - dressing up, putting up scary decorations, playing eerie music and sound effects, watching Alexander check out all the cool sights and sounds, giving out treats to strange kids (whose parents likely advised them never to take candy from strangers -- except on Halloween, of course. For more great inconsistencies of parental advice, see my friend Francesca's blog).

The day after Halloween has always been, to me, a little like that minor let down the day after Christmas (you know how sometimes kids get, after all the wind-up and excitement, with the presents opened and Santa has already come and gone.....nothing to look forward to but several months of cold and dark) - for me, the day after Halloween is like that. Mildly depressing.

With Christmas decorations, there's usually a one month grace period on either side of the holiday where it's okay to have your lights and decorations out on display. But not with Halloween. Sometimes I wish that Halloween could be a week-long event or even just a weekend of fun, the way that Thanksgiving and Easter are.

Alexander certainly enjoyed his trick or treating last night (all 8 houses he went to), but what he enjoyed MOST was giving candy to the other kids - he loved picking up the treats and dropping them in the bags of the kids who came to the door. He also enjoyed pushing the button on our fog machine, sending a blast of fog to roll through the tombstones. He had a ball.