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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Real Big Boy Bed

After several weeks of Alexander coming into our room and climbing into bed with us after having fallen out of his toddler bed, we realized he was getting too big for it. (And yes, this was only after about 3 months in that bed). I'm not actually sure if he was too big for it or if it was just because the kid moves around a lot in his sleep. When he's in bed with us, he usually punches and kicks us -- we think it's just his way of claiming real estate in the bed. But he occasional clocks either Francine or myself so hard that we wake up with a black eye in the morning.

In any case, last weekend we picked up a bed frame kit and ordered a double sized mattress and box-spring, all in preparation for the big boy bed.

And this past Saturday morning at 7:30 AM, the mattress was delivered. (Good thing too, after working a 16 hour shift the day before the last thing I wanted to be able to do was sleep in)

We spent most of the morning dismantling the old crib/toddler bed. The bed we'd bought was supposed to easily convert into a double bed with the purchase of a couple of bed rails from The Baby Depot, the place where we'd bought the original crib. Only, when we went there last weekend (this place is in Kitchener, about an hour's drive from Hamilton) to get the kit we found out that they no longer dealt with that distributor. (So we were not only SOL for the conversion to a child's bed, but also SOL for the cool change table conversion into a bookshelf/dresser. Dammit!

We made the best of it, of course. We bought a generic bed rail kit and thought we'd give it our best college try. On Saturday morning, once the mattresses arrived, I took out my handy toolbox and Alexander took out his tool. We selected some music for the occasion. (What better that The Baby Einstein Orchestra's "Baby Galileo" to inspire us to new heights of creativity)

We dismantled the original bed, but together the box-spring frame, and attached the old back of the crib pieces to create a headboard. That was relatively easy. It was getting the "foot-board" which used to be the old front dropping rail together that took the most time. And I won't even relate the long story about the first bed rail (being that thing you put onto an adult sized bed that prevents kids from rolling out of bed in the night) that I bought that broke within two minutes of putting it together, nor the desperate race to get to the mall in the early evening to buy another one.

But the bed finally came together and Alexander was delighted with it. After storytime that night, he immediately put in his sleepytime CD (yes, another Baby Einstein Orchestra CD) and climbed into bed. Fran and I kissed him goodnight and fawned over him for a good ten minutes. He was so tired from all that fawning that he drifted off to sleep the moment we stepped out of his room and closed the door.

I was reminded of the paranoid way we were when we first moved him out of the bassinet in our
room at the foot of our bed and into his own crib. Saturday night we were in his room no less than four times, checking on him, leaning over him and making sure he was breathing (okay, that was me -- I've never outgrown that fear which I've had since the day he was born. I'll likely still have it when he's thirty years old).

The funny thing is that he didn't move an inch all night. And when we went to wake him up in the morning, he was still in that cozy, snuggly spot he was in when we put him down. I have to admit that was the very first time he'd EVER been in exactly the same place when he went to sleep. Ironically, he slept like the proverbial baby in his adult sized bed.

Man, I gotta get me a mattress like that, so I can sleep like a baby, too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

HNT - Goofy Quick Cam Pic

Work has been crazy these past two weeks -- last week I was at a Customer Advisory Board conference in Toronto (which was a very fun but very filled couple of days) and went straight from there into our year end Inventory which has been a steady diet of scanning ISBN and UPC codes and double and triple checking . . .

The best thing to express the frustration might be this quickcam shot I took a few weeks ago when I first hooked up a webcam to my computer.


And I promise I'll get back to the Darth Tater HNT series, very soon . . . I mean, after all there are plans to feature a special guest in the next episode . . .


What is this half-nekkid thing all about?
Click below to go see Osbasso and find out more.

HNT_1

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Plug It Off

I'm continuing to enjoy observing Alexander's two year old language development. He understands the idea of turning something on. This usually applies to things like light switches and the switches on his toys that he's been able to turn on and off almost since he came out of the womb.

He has also merged the concept of turning something on with plugging it in. (Since the vacuum cleaner is one of his favourite "toys" (See earlier post Extreme Vaccuuming) he knows that to turn it on you need to plug it in.

Thus, we have the efficiently merged statement of "Plug it on!" which is used whenever we plug something in.

Since he has nicely grasped the concept of opposites, it so smoothly leads to the concept of unplugging something (yes, most often the vacuum cleaner) as "Plug it off!"

See, yet more wonderful logic and reasoning from a two year old. I think I'll try introducing that statement into my regular vocabulary and see if it catches on . . . or, perhaps instead of "catching on" maybe it'll just "Plug!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Love Slave

I'm not sure if it's all this talk about old television commercials or the fact that there was a sale on JUMBO boxes of Mini-Wheats, but I'm remembering this commercial.

Of course, we all know Mr. Mini-Wheat, the poor complex little guy who is constantly conflicted between his fun, frosted side and his nutritious 100% whole wheat side.

One of the commercials featuring this struggle was when he was about to go on a date and was nervous about which side to show. The narrator convinced him to show the girl he was dating BOTH sides, not just one. It was an exercise in helping him build confidence and as his confidence turned to cockiness, he says: "She'll be my love slave forever." to which the narrator responds: "Let's not get carried away."

I think this version of the commercial only aired for a week or so before Kellogg's quickly removed that line and replaced it with: "She'll be my true love forever."

I wonder which side of Mr. Mini-Wheat said each of those lines?

Monday, April 23, 2007

YOU'RE the Alphagetti Gobbler!!!!

Have you ever gone hunting with a bowl and spoon? And no, I'm not actually referring to the old Libby's Zoodles commercial; but rather, a similar one that I remember from my childhood.

I'm referring to the television commercial that featured The Alphagetti Gobbler.

In the commercial, there are two kids (at least two, I'm not sure if there were three) sitting at a kitchen table and listening to this googley-eyed monster with either a whack of arms or spaghetti-like tentacles warning them to keep their eyes on their Alphagetti because the Alphagetti Gobbler might eat it when they're not watching. (Okay, in my memories, the creature is starting to look something like Kang or Kodos, the alien creates from the Simpsons Halloween specials).

I think at one point the monster points behind them and says: "Hey, there he is!" The kids turn around, and when they turn back, their alphagetti is gone and the one kid says (in what I remember as a voice much like Oliver Twist): "YOU'RE the Alphagetti Gobbler!"

I regularly quote this kid, particularly whenever I want to accuse someone of something (like taking the last donut in a communal box of Tim Horton's donuts, or discovering who it was who borrowed and never returned my stapler . . . you know, important kinds of discoveries). Of course, whenever I do that kid's voice people either laugh their asses off because it had been decades since they saw the commercial, or they have know idea what I'm talking about and are really close to calling a doctor to have a look at me.

This whole train of thought was inspired by fellow blogger and Humble & Fred fan Mike Boon. Ever since I saw Mike and a group of others begin their hunt to find other people who remember The Alphagetti Gobbler and/or video clips or photos of the alleged creature that steals alphagetti's from unsuspecting kids, I'm having nightmares about him.

No, I never did encounter The Alphagetti Gobbler, at least that I knew of; because he does operate in a sneaky fashion. And I do remember at least once when a meatball or two went missing from a plate of spaghetti that I had once -- and NO, I did not sneeze. I think it might have been The Alphagetti Gobbler perhaps branching out and trying new foods.

I've been so consumed by the freaky memories of this monster that I've started a Facebook Group called I Remember The Alphagetti Gobbler. Please join, and please help us find this monster before he eats YOUR kid's Alphagetti's.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

HNT - We're All Hokies

Yesterday morning while walking in to work I noticed all of the University flags were at half mast for the students and faculty who lost their lives at V Tech earlier this week. Then, later on, I caught sign of the "coming together" messages that other Universities and Colleges were offering via various online communities. I know it's a cold comfort, but I'm always impressed at how tragedies can sometimes bring out the best in neighbourly love and support.

To me, HNT is a weekly coming together of people. There's a common "theme" -- posting a picture that celebrates exposure. But that's just a really good excuse to allow folks the chance to connect. That's what it has always been to me. A social, neighbourly thing.

And so in that spirit, I expose a good part of what's been in my heart these past few days.



Thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this week's tragic events at Virginia Tech.

Walter's Crossing

I'm eagerly awaiting a radio interview with horror author (and a good friend of mine) Carol Weekes. Carol and I used to edit Northern Fusion magazine together, coached and edited each other's work and also wrote several stories together.

Our story "It Creeps Up On You", a tale about a haunted comic book that forever changes a young boy's life, was first published in the World Fantasy Con 2001 CD-Rom that came with the program booklet and was reprinted in my story collection One Hand Screaming.

Here's the first three paragraphs of the opening of the story, just to give you a sense of the wonderful style of Carol's writing. Of course, her brilliant style is a bit subdued thanks to my own hand in this tale, but even the words that my big sausage fingers typed out can't dispel the magic of the way in which Carol can string words together and weave a tale.

He slowed the car along Parson's Road to view his old house from across the street. The last occupants had left the place back in 1976, and from what he'd heard, in a hurry, too. Some said it had been due to bankruptcy, another said divorce, but John Ingram knew better. Something had driven the last family out, and he thought he could understand what. When he'd lived in this house at 24 Parson's Road as a child, everything had been normal -- until one fateful night many years ago.

It had everything to do with the comic book he held in his hand. He tapped it against one leg, hating it, afraid of it, but also relieved to have found it. It wasn't the same book his brother Martin had bought back in 1975, but it was a continuation of the toxin, an unusual and frightening kind of poison that had begun to ruin his life two decades earlier.


He crossed the road towards the house. Dead leaves crunched under his feet. He watched the windows for any sign of movement. His lips pressed into a tight line and he regarded the house, swearing he was finally going to see this through to the end.
Carol is about to launch her first novel, Walter's Crossing. which is being released by Naked Snake Press. (Summary Description of the novel below)

On a torrid summer morning, a young man named Walter Matthews sets out to commit an act of vandalism and revenge against a small town bully that has made Walter's life miserable for a year. Walter almost achieves that bitter nugget of satisfaction--except something goes terribly wrong when he drops a pen while running for cover in the backyard of the bully he fears. What happens next only opens a chasm of horror for Walter and those he despises.

Carol is a brilliant writer, one whom I am fortunate to have worked and written with. And, having already read Walter's Crossing I can say that it immediately gets slotted into the list of my favourite novels. I think that anyone who enjoyed Dan Simmons Summer of Night or Stephen King's It will also enjoy Walter's Crossing.

(Incidentally, the book is not only available in hard copy, but also available as an e-book. If you only buy one e-book this year, make it Walter's Crossing. The great thing about e-books is that you can try out an author you've never read before with very little expenditure and risk. Being able to read Carol's novel for under $5.00 is incredible bargain. You'll thank me for the recommendation.)

Carol is going to be interviewed on Chuck Phillips' "The Morning Show" on AM 1220 on Thursday April 19th at 7:10 AM -- the first of a number of interviews surrounding the launch of her wonderful novel. You can listen to AM 1200 live by clicking here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

EBook Now Available

An ebook version of my story collection One Hand Screaming is now available via Payloadz.com.

Yes, an Adobe PDF version of the full text of the original print book (complete with the 20-odd typos and layout errors that most people likely don't see but which scream at me every time the book is held in front of me).

And it can be yours for a mere $2.75 Canadian. (Something like $2.10 US) You can pay using PayPal or any major credit card via a secure transaction.

"Wow!" I can hear you saying in response to this. "That's cheaper than a Starbucks coffee. Not only that, but you don't have to stand there like an idiot for 20 minutes while they go out, pick the coffee beans, wash, then grind them to brew up your cup of joe." That's right, my friend. The download is instant and the whole transaction takes less than 2 minutes.

See how nice I am? I even have this neatoman button you can push to immediately buy and download the product.



Okay, it's not my button, but the good people at Payloadz lent me their code . . .


-- End of Blatant Advertising Self-Promotion Blog Post --
(oh, who am I kidding -- the self-promotion NEVER ends, not really)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Wake Up Sleep Down

I get a special thrill in watching language-use develop in my 2 and a half year old son. I particularly enjoy discovering his grasp of concepts like opposites and how he applies them in a logically consistent fashion but which defy the often illogic nature of the English language.

One of the latest was the statement: "Wake up," which was followed by a pause, then a smile and the words: "Sleep down."

It does make sense. If a person wakes up, then when they sleep they most logically must sleep down. Here I've been calling myself a writer, a manipulator of words and phrases, yet in the past year or so as my son has been developing his own approach to the English language, I think I've learned more than in the previous three decades.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

HNT - TiT - Railroaded


Terror in Toyland (TiT) - An HNT Adventure
by Mark Leslie



Continued from this post.

As Darth squeezed Mark in his tight grip, Mark lost consciousness . . .

. . . He wasn't sure how long he had been out of it, but when he woke up he was stunned and confused. He laid there trying to figure out what was happening while nightmarish visions of Darth and his gang flashed through his mind.

While he didn't know exactly what Darth had in store for him, he knew it couldn't be good.


That's when he heard the train whistle, and turned his head to look. As the wooden toy train started barreling down the tracks toward him, he realized that Darth and his gang were attacking him with his son's own toys.


From somewhere nearby Darth's voice could be heard: "What, no wise ass comments this time?"

"Gulp," Mark said, staring at the doom on wheels racing down the track toward him.


To be continued . . .



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Longest Half Second Of My Life

I was reminded, last night, of a question that Mick Halpin opened with in his interview with me about a month ago. He asked me the last time I was scared shitless.

I reacted with the usual things that scare me, like the dark, the bogeyman under my bed, etc, and included my worst fear: something happening to my son, Alexander.

Because of this I'm usually that overbearing parent in the playground. Not the one sitting twenty feet away while my son climbs the play structure, but the one hovering near him, standing behind him when he climbs the ladder, following him around as he explores the climbers. I do try really hard to stand back farther to keep my distance and let him play without my interference. But it's extremely hard to do that.

Last night, I experienced the longest half second of my life. Alexander and I had just enjoyed supper at McDonald's and were heading over to the adjacent Toys R Us to check out fun toys. In the parking lot, a huge selection of new plastic play structures were set up, so we, of course, had to check them out.

Only, I'd failed to notice that when another young boy had knocked out a railing on one structure had failed to put it back into place properly. I'd been distracted when his younger brother had gone face first down a slide and got a bleeding lip. I was passing a tissue over to his mother so she could clean it up. The next thing I knew, Alexander was leaning on the loose railing, and then suddenly toppling when the rail gave way.

He landed on his face about three feet below on the pavement. Watching him fall from no less than four feet away from him was the longest half second of my life. I think I had him in my arms in that second half second, applying a tissue to his split lip (he'd put a tooth through his bottom lip) and inspected the pavement burn on his chin. There was a lot of blood pouring out of his mouth, but it was all from the lip (no loose or knocked out teeth -- whew) and no other damaged other than a small scrape on his knuckle.

When we got home he wasn't too fond of either of us holding a wrapped ice cube to his lip, but he did rather enjoy the fact that he was allowed an endless supply of Popsicles, which did help keep the swelling on his lip down.

And then I, of course, spent the rest of the night beating myself up over not having been standing closer to him, over not having inspected the railing before letting him climb up that structure. And reminding myself that it's not so bad to be an overbearing father; I mean, if I'd done a better job he wouldn't have been hurt last night. (Well, at least not the way he was hurt -- he does rarely go a day without some bruise or fall . . . usually just not so heart-stoppingly dramatic)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Networking Reaches Further

I was delighted to learn, this past weekend, that my cell phone signal works in Levack, Ontario. And in the basement of my Mom's house, no less. Wow.

I'm still in shock over the whole thing.

Seemingly forever, the signal usually dropped off a few kilometres past Dowling. But now, it works even as far out as good old Levack.

This is, of course, quite convenient for me since my novel Morning Son which takes place mostly in Levack features the main character using his cell phone while walking through town. Despite the fact that I know writers can take certain liberties in their writing and fake some stuff, having written those scenes knowing that a cell phone got absolutely no signal in the town was always troubling to me. But not anymore.

Nice to see reality catch up with my fiction.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

HNT - Can't Blog, Writing

I'm not going to be making the weekly rounds and visiting many of my bloggy friends for a while -- not because I don't love them, but merely because I'm up to my eyeballs in writing project work.

Similarly, I'm going to have to delay my "Darth Tater" HNT serial story for at least one more week so I can focus on this intense writing. As my pal Lecram Sinun might say, I'm in my bliss.

But since I just can't break a lengthy track records of not missing HNT, I leave you with the recently announced cover image for an anthology that I'll be in and which is slated for May 2007.

The title: Naked Tales: Stories by Writers Who Blog.



Although my story at least has nothing to do with Osbasso or any of the other cool dude bloggers who participate in Half Nekkid Thursday, it's still appropriate for an HNT post, don't you think?


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

KITT For Sale

Ah man, great memories. KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand) , the revamped 82 Trans Am from the television show Knight Rider is now for sale and could be mine for a mere $150,000.

Now, like my own vehicle, most of the fun pretend sci-fi buttons and gadgets don't work, and it doesn't talk in the voice of William Daniels. But the red scanner light on the front of the car works and hums like a Cylon from the original Battlestar Galactica. And I still think it would be a fun car to burn around town in.

And I'll never forget this one episode of the TV series where they showed a screen on KITT that was basically a screen from the old Mattel Intellivision game system's Auto Racing game. Yes, special effects that were on par with the old Tough Guys Big Adventure movies that my buddies and I made in my basement in the mid to late 80's.

Okay, so if I thought it was tough trying to convince Francine that we should visit Salt Lake City, Utah during the last week of March 2008 so I could attend World Horror Convention 2008, I think it'll be a bit tougher convincing her that I need to buy this car.

But then again, she still feels sorry for me that I missed out on owning the Batmobile.

Hmm, maybe a compromise?

I know, maybe I'll be able to afford the moped that Peter Parker drives in the Spider-Man movies.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

World Horror Convention

This past weekend was certainly a blast -- one of the best conventions I've been to in a long time. And I was about to write that I wish I'd brought a camera with me so I could share some fun pictures of the con. However, I enjoyed the con, chatted with friends I hadn't seen in a long time, friends who'd I'd only previously chatted with online, met some really awesome folks from all over the world, bought some great new books and magazines, and got a ton of books from my personal library signed by writers I admire.

But why take just my word on it since Rob Sawyer who has been to hundreds of more conventions than I can ever dream of says this much more elegantly than I do. Actually, one of the highlights of the weekend was when Rob took myself and a group of folks from out of town on a walking tour through downtown Toronto and to The Merrill Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy where PS Publishing was launching the latest issue of PostScripts magazine and half a dozen other great new books.