Thursday, December 25, 2008

HNT - Three Wishes 2008

Every year at Christmas time, Osbasso suggests a theme of giving for HNT. The "three wishes" theme is one in which you're supposed to pick 3 other HNTers (hopefully people you don't already know well), and endow them with gifts -- these are "fantasy" gifts -- the idea is the thought behind it. Over the years this has been a fun exercise for me, because I've tried to pick new people each time and always look for someone new to learn about.

This year, however, I wanted to focus on three HNTers who, in and of themselves, are gifts to ME -- and because of this, I thought I should at least give them something back -- yes, a little something pretend, but a little something nonetheless. So, yes, I'm violating the terms of the theme, but I think I'm still following it in spirit because I think it's important to pause and pay tribute to three of the many bloggy friends I have made thanks to the HNT movement.

Lime, Bookbinder and Lecram are three bloggy friends I made over the years since participating in the weekly HNT. They have become not just bloggy friends, and though I have yet to have had the pleasure to have met any of them in person, they have made that positive difference in my life that friends can have. Each of these three people are creative, funny, insightful, playful, fascinating, intriguing and just good fun. Reading their blogs and exchanging communications with them over the years has enriched me greatly, so I thought the very least I could do is give a little something back to them.

Lime - Lime's blog posts, stories about her personal adventures and musings about the universe are interesting enough; but it was really cool to learn, through various correspondences with her, just how much the two of us have in common. In some ways she was like a long-lost sister. What I'd like to give Lime (and I'm not even sure this is something she would want, but rather something I'd love to see) is to give her her own annual 1 hour television variety show called Christmas at Lime Mountain. On it she'd include family, friends, share stories, amuse and entertain millions. I think it'd be a hit. Okay, actually, it would be a gift for us, not her. But I think she'd still have fun with it.

Bookbinder - Simply put, this friend (whose blog is locked down due to some personal issues I'm not at liberty to discuss -- those of you who recognize his new handle likely know who I mean and why I'm not revealing his name nor linking to his blog - the blog is now invitation only to protect the innocent) was easy to shop for: A case of beer (a good Canadian beer like Moosehead) and a box of classic Playboy magazines with the tasteful, sexy classic Betty Page-style pictures. Bookbinder is an easy man to please and we share such similar tastes of the finer, yet simpler pleasures of life.

Lecram - I'll never forget the first time I stumbled upon Lecram's noir-style HNT story one Thursday. Utter brilliance and a great merging of the weekly HNT ritual with creative storytelling -- I've used similar techniques borrowed from this master in my own HNT posts. I have continually returned to his blog to read more of his creative fun and have also had the distinct pleasure of reading more of his work (he is a phenomenal playwright) and even seeing recordings of performances of plays he has written. His brilliance needs to be shared with more people, and for that reason, I would endow him with the funds to do a world tour of one or more of his plays, like the wonderful "Tale End."

The gift of friendship that these three friends have given to me has meant way more than any of the imagined gifts I could come up with for them. I'm truly appreciative and consider myself blessed.

Happy HNT - Merry Christmas, or whatever translation of the seasonal greeting that bests suits your own viewpoint of the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

HNT - Christmas Tree 2008

For this week's HNT post (which, according to the master of HNT, Osbasso), the theme should be "Christmas Tree" with participants posing in front of their trees.

Here's a couple of shots of Alexander and I posing in front of OUR tree. Yes, in our house, the boys get their own tree downstairs in the family room that has the fun, cartoon ornaments on it. Upstairs, Francine has the beautifully decorated and more presentable-to-the-world tree.

Of course, you realize the reason we're sitting on the floor beside our tree near the fireplace, don't you? We're camped out just waiting for Santa's visit, and neither of us can hardly wait . . .

Happy HNT and happy holidays to you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make Me Supper . . . Er, I Mean Super

Besides porn, the internet was really invented so we could do silly things like play with applications like Make Me Super. It's goofy and fun. Do yourself, do your friends and family. It'll provide minutes and minutes of silly fun.

Check out Super Mark -- then go ahead and make your OWN.

I'm just amazed that the big head of hair on the character so wonderfully matches the hair I had back in the 90's . . . ah, those fond memories of what it was like to actually have hair . . .

Okay, time for me to go back and make a Super Fran and Super Alexander video.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Espresso Book Machine on Hamilton at Noon

I've had a lot of requests from folks who want to listen to the 10 minute interview I did with Robyn Foley of Hamilton's Talk820 radio program about the Espresso Book Machine which arrived at Titles Bookstore, McMaster University a few weeks ago.

So, while it's nothing fancy, this YouTube video adds a few background/slideshow pictures to the interview and is now more easy for folks to listen to rather than having me email the mp3 around.

The best thing about chatting with Robyn was that it was obvious to me she is a genuine book lover. Those kinds of discussions are always a real pleasure.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Vacation Remixed Trailer

As one might be able to easily tell, I'm a huge fan of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It's one of those movies I love to watch every holiday season. (Of course, I also love to watch Die Hard and Die Hard 2 as well as Lethal Weapon -- to me, all four movies are great holiday classics)

Speaking of thriller type movies, while looking for a clip of Clark Griswold attacking Santa and his reindeer from Christmas Vacation, I stumbled upon this hilarious re-mix of a movie trailer for Christmas Vacation.

Only, the creative genius behind this re-mix makes it out to be a thriller rather than a comedy.

Nicely done.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Clark Griswold Style Attack

Okay, it's not a scene that will get me a nomination for father of the year, and I'm not proud of it, but Francine and I couldn't help busting a gut when at dinner time I described how the spiral white light Christmas tree ended up in many broken pieces yesterday afternoon. Last night when watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation for the thousandth time, Francine couldn't help pointing out how similar my reaction to a Christmas display gone bad is to Clark Griswold's.

Alexander and I were working in the front yard, diligently setting up a snowman, Christmas tree and attempting to add the spiral tree to the mix.

But I kept running into issue after issue trying to get the spiral tree set up. It wasn't fitting together properly, wasn't standing the way it should, and for the life of me, I couldn't get the top of the tree and star properly in place.

After about 40 minutes of repeatedly fiddling with it, my frozen, numb fingers ended up pushing too hard trying to get the star lodged into to the top section of the tree and snapped the top section into two pieces.

Completely at the end of my rope, I kicked the remaining part of the tree over then proceeded to repeatedly hammer blows down onto the tree, letting out a barbarian-like battle cry.

After releasing a bit of pent-up frustration, I looked over at my poor dear four year old who was standing in the garage looking at the scene and crying uncontrollably. "My tree!" he sobbed. "My spiral Christmas tree!"

Bad enough that the tree broke -- but poor Alexander had to watch Daddio pitch a Clark Griswold style fit on the broken tree.

Despite my antics, this story DOES have a happy ending.

Alexander's tears were quickly dried, his heart was consoled and the broken pieces of the spiral Christmas tree were laid to rest in the garbage can. Another one of my "not so fine" moments of fatherhood was over.

This morning, I made a quick trip to Canadian Tire where I purchased not one but three miniature spiral Christmas trees for my son. I surprised him by setting them up in the kitchen while he was playing downstairs. He was completely delighted.

I figured it was the least I could do after subjecting him to the horrific scene he had to endure the day before.

Only ten more days until Christmas Eve -- let's see how many more Clark Griswold style goofs I can pull off . . .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Books Make Great Gifts

Books make great gifts. And I'm not just saying that because I'm an author and a bookseller. It's something I actually believe.

That's why I love this new website and video promoting the idea of giving books as gifts.

Check out the video, then visit to find your closest local bookstore anywhere in Canada -- you only have about a dozen days left to open up a world for someone within the pages of a book.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cool Contest To Win Horror

Cutting Block Press and Dark Recesses Press have recently announced a contest where folks can win some cool prizes just by posting a comment at the following site.

How to Play: All you have to do is post a comment HERE (not Mark Leslie's blog, but the Horror Library Blog-o-rama site) and you'll automatically be entered into the contest.

For an extra entry: Just post a link to this contest on your blog and leave a comment here with the link to your blog. Here's the main contest link:

Yup, it's that easy. But what do you win?

First Prize

One Copy of Horror Library Vol. 3
One Copy of Dark Recesses Press #10
$10 Gift Certificate to the Horror Mall

Second Prize
One Copy of Horror Library Vol. 3
One Copy Dark Recesses Press #10

Third Prize

One Copy of Horror Library Vol. 2

Fourth Prize

One Copy of Horror Library Vol. 1

Deadline for the contest: December 14th at Midnight, Eastern US Time

Winners will be announced the following weekend.

So check out the contest and enter for your chance to win. And while you're at the Horror Library Blog-o-rama page, check out some of the other posts there. Always great reading and content.

HNT - Hot Wing Sweat

You can tell I'm running out of time to pose and snap for the weekly HNT when I go digging back several months. But I did take a series of shots back in the summer that I had planned on using for an HNT post, but never ended up doing so . . .

. . . so thank goodness for such photos that I can dust off and post when time is tight.

To begin this series, there was a time when I was eager to try out the signature wings at 5 Alarm Wings (as evidenced in this post called "No wings for you" from back in July) -- but not too long after that, I brought home a killer order of these wings and have enjoyed not only the killer painful but also the multitude of phenomenal flavours offered by Five Alarm Wings.

After biting into the fourth or fifth wing (extremely painful and fun at that point), I broke into a terrible sweat. That, along with a running nose, watery eyes and hiccups, are often the sign of a good terribly hot and flavourful killer wing.

So I tried to snap a few shots of the sweat running down my face -- not all that successful on my Palm Treo because of the lower resolution image -- but in some of them you can see the trickle of sweat running down the side of my face.

What you can't see in the shots is evidence of the extreme burning pain on my lips and tongue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Silly Christmas Lyric Meme: Silent Night

A couple of years ago I started a silly Christmas lyric meme where I take a song that we hear countless times during the Christmas season and point out a part of it that makes we wonder, confuses me or is worth exploring if merely for the humour of it . . . (feel free to play along and share your own silly thoughts about Christmas lyrics on your own blog)

The Rules: Pick a Christmas lyric that you've always had a question about and discuss it. Then either tag one or more people or either tag nobody and invite your readers to tag themselves and enjoy discussing the subject on their own.

Feel free to use the "Cousin Eddie" image by copying the following code and replacing the '(' and ')' with '<' and '>' :

(a href="")(img src="" alt="Mark Leslie's Silly Christmas Lyric meme" /)

The Song: Silent Night (originally written in German as Stille Nacht by the Austrian priest Father Josef Mohr and composed by Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1863, John Freeman Young translated it into the English version sung today)

Lyrics In Question: "Holy infant so tender and mild."

The Comment: First of all, I find this song, overall, to be a peaceful song inspiring reflection. The melody is soothing and sometimes when performed it gives me an overall sense of calm and belief that all is right with the world.

And then there's the fact of what this simple line stirs up, thanks to Francine mentioning it the other night. I understand what "tender and mild" is supposed to convey. But it can come across as if one is trying to describe a pot roast.

Q: "How do you find the pot roast?"

A: "It's absolutely delicious. It's so tender."

Q: "You don't find the seasoning too overpowering?"

A: "Not at all. It's quite mild. This roast is so perfectly tender and mild."

Q: "So you find the meal quite satisfying?"

A: "Definitely. After such a fine meal I'm going to sleep in heavenly peace."

Q: "Sleep in heavenly peace?"

A: "Exactly."

I know, I know, I've likely offended a whole group of people, particularly people from my own faith. But ever since Fran mentioned the "tender and mild" thing, I can't help thinking about how while it does describe an infant slumbering so wonderfully, it also stirs up culinary references. And it leads perfectly to a Catholic ritual which kind of ties in and which I have actually used in a horror story I wrote called "From Out of the Night" which was originally published in 1997 then reprinted in my collection One Hand Screaming in 2004.

The Blessed Sacrament (or Holy Communion) commemorates the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before being crucified. He gave them bread and wine and said to it was his body and blood and they should eat it in remembrance of him. I understand the sacrament, but, stepping back and looking at it perhaps from an "outsider's" view, it seems an awful lot like a type of cannibalism of our savior. That's the element I refer to in "From Out of the Night" - a horror story in which I have a paranoid protagonist believing that the Catholics next door are cannibals who consume their savior as part of their ritual. I was tempted to title this post: "Cannibalistic Christmas" but might just save that for another dark humour horror story.

If you're curious to read my previous Christmas Lyric memes (likely the less offensive ones because in them I don't toy around with anyone's faith), here are links to the original 2006 (The Christmas Song) and the 2007 (Silver Bells) posts.

And, of course, please feel free to play along yourself and let me know you've done so by leaving a comment here.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Find A Bookstore

I'm not just saying this because I'm on the board of directors of Canadian Booksellers Association, but I really love the new look and feel for CBA's website as well as the functionality.

In time for an ad in the Globe & Mail this weekend, was launched and allows a person to find a CBA member bookstore anywhere they live in Canada as well as identify the type of store that CBA member is (ie, trade, speciality, campus, used and antequarian, chain or other)

What an awesome opportunity for book lovers to find local bookstores easily. For example, you go to the site, type in the city you're in and voila a nice map pops up showing basic location and type of the store as well as a detailed list of address, contact info and website if applicable.

The ad reads:

Visit your local bookseller . . . reconnect with your community and discover this season's many new books. For the price of a movie, a book opens the door to another world of timeless comfort, entertainment and pleasure; for the gift giver, a book holds long-lasting value.

This ad is a wonderful statement which nicely echoes CBA President Nancy Frater's recent comment that clearly, the time to buy books is right now. "In challenging economic times, books are always the best bang for your buck," Nancy said. "For the price of a movie, a book opens the door to another world of timeless comfort, entertainment and pleasure."

Excuse me -- I must now leave this blog post and go slip into the warm, comfortable world of the nearest book . . . or to re-work the words of Jimi Hendrix: "'Scuse me while I kiss the page"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

HNT - Enter Niles Crane

I was staying at a hotel in Toronto for a few days earlier this week at the latest CRAM (Canadian Roundtable on Academic Materials) A couple of days prior to that, I'd been listening to the John Tesh radio program (my wife is a gigantic fan of his "Intelligence for your Life" radio show.

On the show this past weekend, John talked about a study done by researchers from the University of Virginia Health System in hotel rooms related to the rhinovirus (no, this isn't something Spider-Man picks up from one of the evil supervillains he fights -- it's the most common type of virus that causes the common cold) and how easily it can be contracted even 24 hours later simply by touching something touched by a previous occupant.

The four most common objects in a hotel room a person is most likely to get infected from are: the TV remote, the telephone, light switches and the faucet.

Wanting to do everything I can NOT to pick up a common cold this holiday season, I made sure I traveled with disinfecting wipes and one of the first things I did was completely wipe down any of the main surfaces I would regularly be touching in my hotel room. Starting with the door handles on my way in all the way to all the light switches, I did a thorough job of cleaning each surface.

Of course, I felt quite a bit like Niles Crane from the Fraser television program as I rushed about the room wiping down so many different surfaces. But hey, better to be laughed at for those mysophobic tendencies than to pick up another cold during this busy season.