Tuesday, May 31, 2005

One Ring To . . . In The Darkness Bind Them

I was recently informed by a fellow BookCrosser (follygirl), that she created a book ring for my book One Hand Screaming. A book ring is a planned bookcrossing release and capture schedule whereby one member passes the book along to another, then the next, and at the end the book comes back into the original person's ownership. It's kind of like a detailed planned book-loaning amongst a group - only, unlike most book loans, it's tracked and the book eventually comes back home to the owner. I'm looking forward to seeing the comments from each reader in the ring from throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Slow Down, You Move To Fast . . .

. . . got to make the morning last.

This morning one of Francine's friends, Karen came over - it's been a while since they've gotten together, so that was nice to see. This meant that Alexander and I had some quality "boy" time together. I can't believe how much the little guy has grown. He's pulling himself to a standing position and cruising along furniture, the walls, etc, and has gotten better at falling down onto his bum - soon enough he'll be standing on his own and walking - I've actually caught him standing on his own when he gets excited and picks things up off the furniture, like pillows, stuffed animals, etc and he doesn't even realize that he's doing it. It's just amazing to watch him grow. He's down for his nap right now, but we had a fun walk over to the mall so that I could get a Tim Horton's coffee and he could check out the sights - he loves going for walks in the stroller - I can only imagine what it'll be like once he's adept on those little feet.

I'm also at a point where (once I get rid of this nasty cough - Fran thinks it's a sinus infection based on the intense pain in my nasal cavity and the blood coming from my nose when I blew it this morning) I want to start getting up an hour or so early before work in the morning and come downstairs and work on one of the following projects:

1) My half finished sci-fi novel: Define Pain
2) Complete the outline and proposal package for my book of plays for elementary school teachers
3) Start working on the ideas for a yet untitled thriller that have been plaguing me for several weeks now

I'm finding myself being too distracted trying to get my writing done on the GO train -- too many fun people to goof around with I guess. And since I write better in the wee hours of the morning I should start to make the a habit again.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Back In Black

I like my classic ACDC - "Back in Black" isn't my favourite, although it's one of their better ones. I prefer "You Shook Me" and their more recent "Thunder Struck" is a good crowd pleaser too. But I had to name this blog the way I did for a friend at work, Richard Black.

I'd mentioned Richard in a blog a few weeks back, and he was disappointed not to have made an appearance again. You see how "celebrity" can be addictive? Poor Richard, he got a small taste of pseudo-fame and now, like a junkie he has an itch for more. Let me scratch him thusly: Richard Black, Richard Black, he's a cool dude, that Richard Black. He sometimes makes you laugh so hard, you think you'll have a heart attack, he's a funny cool dude, that Richard Black. (It's not one of my better poems, but captures Richard's uncanny allure quite nicely)

Speaking of "celebrity" Hamilton re-opened the AGH (Art Gallery of Hamilton) last night with a gala reception (Hamilton natives such as Martin Short and Kathleen Robertson attended) - Fran and I were contemplating going - but at $500 a head, we figure we'd wait and just visit the renovated museum (which has received some rave reviews) for the regular $16 it will cost the three of us to attend when it opens to the public on May 28th (yaaa, Alexander is under 5 and so can get in free) - no, wait, the big gala last night was for important people (like Richard Black) - the re-opening gala for the average joe is on the 28th and is only $200. Still, perhaps we'll just visit the museum some quiet afternoon and enjoy the art.

Francine started her first blog entry yesterday, as did Peter Mitchell. Good times!

Lastly, today is Fashion Targets Breast Cancer day. Rethink Breast Cancer teamed up with Roots to create a fund-raising fashionable collector t-shirt to wear on Friday May 27th, 2005. Raise funds and also raise awareness. Proceeds go towards research for breast cancer. A good and worthy cause. Ilana Valo, Manager of our Trusted Advisor program for www.chapters.indigo.ca, organized the effort within Indigo. Internal efforts here raised $1650. Thanks, Ilana!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Attack of the Deranged Snowmen

I finished reading Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan in a matter of days. Yes, and I cheated too. Although it was my "in transit" book I ended up reading it at home over the weekend, because I couldn't put it down. I hope that Ramsey Campbell forgives me, because it meant I stopped reading The Overnight in order to do this.

While the week started off as a bit of a drag -- Alexander sick, my having caught his cold and not making it to the short-list for the Aurora's with my book One Hand Screaming -- it has started to pick up. Alexander slept through the night last night (he's feeling better), my cough is mellowing out and I received a very nice email yesterday from Ryan Oakley with a generous critique of my book. His favourite stories were my two "Snowman" stories: "That Old Silk Hat They Found" and "Ides of March" - he enjoyed how I took something innocent and sweet and corrupted it -- It's funny, I've received the most compliments about those two tales -- evidence, perhaps that a Canadian horror writer might fixate on horror involving snowy landscapes and characters?

I really miss Bill Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes cartoon strip, especially the hilarious and morbid snowmen Calvin used to create.

Ryan is a talented Toronto area writer whose story I bought for North of Infinity III: Parnassus Unbound which I'm editing for Mosaic Press even before announcing the reading guidelines. He'd submitted the story for North of Infinity II, but when I read it I knew it was a keeper for the 3rd book, which I hadn't even started reading for.
I've since been reading through the submissions for NOI3 and, although behind where I'd originally planned to be, I've been chugging through. There have been a lot of great submissions, and what I'm doing for this one is holding onto the very best submissions until after the reading period closes - once that happens I'll have an excellent short list from which to pick the final selection. I like this idea, because it means that I'll be selecting stories not just based on their own merit, but also on how well they'll fit into the anthology as a whole. With Ryan's story as the only one that's a "for sure" here, I have lots of room within which to create a certain feel for the anthology - it'll also keep me from buying too many stories on the exact same subject area, and hopefully be able to round out the final pick with various different but complimentary styles of stories.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Mr. Mayer You Make Good Meat By-Products!

After reading my last post, my buddy Peter Mitchell (who promises to start his own blog where he can be funny so I can create a link to it) reminded me of the following song:

My bologna has a first name
It's O S C A R
My bologna has a second name
It's M A Y E R
Oh, I love to eat it every day
And if you ask me why I'll say
Cuz Oscar Mayer has a way with
(Hi Mom!)

Of course, that reminded me of another fun Oscar Mayer song:

Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner
That is what I'd truly love to be
'Cuase if I was an Oscar Mayer weiner
Everyone would be in love with me

So many fun commercial jingles - so little time to sing them all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ever Gone Hunting With A Bowl & Spoon?

Whenever my son is over-tired or a little cranky (more so recently, since he's got a nasty cold right now), I often sing to him to keep him occupied. Perhaps with him focusing on trying to block the annoying signing voice it keeps him occupied enough to calm down. Trying not to bore him with the same songs over and over, I find myself suddenly remembering jingles from TV ads when I was a kid. Stuff like:

Have you ever gone hunting with a bowl and spoon?
You can with Libby's Zoodles
Elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes
Zoodles are animal noodles
C'mon, tell all your friends, tell the whole bunch
Kid: "I just had a hippopotamus for lunch"

Monday, May 23, 2005

Some Kind of Wonderful

Late Saturday afternoon, I popped over to Denninger's (one of Hamilton's best places to shop for outstanding food) to pick up some buns and lunch meat. Appearing at the store that day to promote a new spice was none other than musician John Ellison. He's the writer of the song "She's Some Kind of Wonderful". I bought the spice (it was called "Some Kind of Wonderful"), got his autograph and picked up a fun recipe from him using this spice for chicken. Francine and I used the spice on some ribs yesterday and they were quite quite good, they were some kind of wonderful, in fact. Talkin' 'bout my baby back rib's . . .

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Getting All (Fire)Worked Up!

What is it with long weekends and fireworks? You can't go anywhere now on the days leading up to a summer long weekend without being bombarded with a million signs advertising fireworks for sale on virtually every street corner. And what is it with neighbourhood jackasses that feel it's necessary to light fireworks every single evening of a long weekend.

Victoria Day is Monday for pete sakes! And most urban centres have spectacular fireworks shows (I recall seeing some phenomenal shows in Ottawa as well as here in Hamilton), so what's the big thrill of lighting these puny little dinky fireworks and making a tiny splash and big noise all through the neighbourhood?

I'm jazzed up about it, of course, because my son has come down with a nasty cold and it's tough getting him to sleep through the night - sure enough the past two nights have been filled with neighbourhood jackasses lighting off personally bought fireworks -- likely barely impressing the people they're lighting them for (go see a REAL fireworks show and get a life) but waking my son from a much needed rest and royally pissing me off.

I don't know -- perhaps my perspective will change when my son isn't sick and in desperate need of rest and is a few years older, running around the yard saying "Daddy, Daddy - let's light some fireworks" -- but right now, I'm just plain ticked off about the whole thing.

Friday, May 20, 2005

KnowwhatImean? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!

My buddy Peter Mitchell, the globe-trotting freelance writer extraordinaire, recently forwarded me the following batch of text, which claims to be based on a research study from Cambridge University. I couldn't find anything to substantiate the claim, but did find this interesting analysis by a gentleman named Matt Davis who works in the Cognition and Brain Science Unit at Camrbidge in the UK (I'm sure more than half of the claims we have such easy access to via the internet these days is bunk - among great things, technology has also given us rapid access to misinformation - but it's also nice to be able to find people taking the time to post more accurate or carefully studied views) In any case, it's interesting that the human mind is able to decipher such a bastardization of the English language . . . however carefully crafted it is . . .

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiately cllaed Typoglycemia.

. . . now if only we could decipher the minds of the people we've charged with running this country.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May The Force Be With You

". . . And Also With You." (okay, the response is derived from combining my Catholic upbringing with a love for science fiction, but I've always suspected George Lucas losely based "The Force" on the Holy Spirit)

With the release of the final movie in the Star Wars series, Revenge of the Sith in theatres, I'm reminded of seeing the original film for the first time. It was 1977 - my parents and I were visiting family friends in Toronto and I went with my Dad, my Uncle Jack and Cousin Lisa. (Okay, so Jack and Lisa aren't actually relatives, but such close friends of my parents that I always thought of and addressed them this way). That afternoon my Dad was running through a list of potential movies to see. I seem to remember something like Smokey and The Bandit was one of the choices.

When I asked my Dad what Star Wars was about, he said something along the lines of shooting bad guys out of the sky. Since most of my exposure to "bad guys" at the time was in the many Westerns I'd watched with my father over the years, I briefly imagined a bunch of cowboys in black hats floating in the air like some carnival duck gallery and the good guys shooting up at them and knocking them out of the sky. (I didn't bother to imagine them in planes or anything, just hanging there in the sky - perhaps an early indication of my leaning towards speculative literature?)

Little did I know what I was in for, of course. I can remember waiting in this huge line on a downtown Toronto street (no idea, of course, where it was), and bumping into some of Lisa's friends who had already seen the movie (I think they were coming out of an earlier screening of it) and telling us how awesome it was. I was, of course, blown away when I saw it. Other lingering memories of that night are going to a restaurant after the movie and sitting across from my cousin Lisa and watching her eat soup. I remember it as being the first time I recognized that, although it appeared her eyes were closed from my perspective, she was actually looking down at her food as she sipped. Funny that I remember that, but I recall trying to do the same thing, half closing my eyelids and wondering if it looked to others like my eyes were closed; because the next thing I knew, I had fallen asleep at the table.

Back then, movies tended to release in Toronto several months before they appeared in Sudbury theatres. So I saw this movie well in advance of my friends and that part of the experience wasn't fun at all. When I was excited about seeing the movie, there were no buddies back home to share that with. And when they saw the movie and got excited, I was already excited about other things. I know I wasn't imagining this trend in delayed movies releases, because even in the 90's when I was in University in Ottawa and my buddy John Ellis was at Lakehead in Thunder Bay (much farther north and west than Sudbury), John explained that movies opened several weeks, and sometimes months after they were released in places like Toronto, Ottawa and Sudbury.

Other fun Star Wars memories include going to Sudbury to see The Empire Strikes Back with Todd and Richard Brown, some friends from Levack, and laying on the floor in the front row, terrified whenever Darth Vader came on the screen, and giggling excitedly as our young hearts pounded madly whenever our main love interest, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia was present. I didn't see Return of the Jedi in theatres, but rented the VHS, where my infatuation for Princess Leia grew even more - a natural combination of teen hormones and that unforgettable gold costume she wore. Francine bought me the box set of the three movies on WHS when we were living in Ottawa, which we enjoyed together and we did go together to see Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Of course, my crush on Natalie Portman as Leia's mother, Padme is present today (though not throbbing with teenage hormones like it was with Leia), but my fear of Darth Vader is as strong as ever. Lucas has created such a recognizable icon of evil which has lingered in my imagination for decades, (right up there with F.W. Mernau's beautifully eerie images of Nosferatu), that I have to stand in awe.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

McHappy Day

Today was McHappy Day at McDonald's - which means that $1 from the sale of Big Macs or Happy Meals goes towards local children's charities. Since I was working at home today (partially due to the potential CN strike that would have frozen the GO train system, which was averted just minutes before the deadline, and also because Fran needed to accompany her mom to some tests and I was staying at home to keep an eye on the little guy) Alexander and I went out to McDonald's for lunch. I had a Big Mac meal and Alexander had a Happy Meal. Okay, I had a Big Mac meal and 98% of a Happy Meal, and Alexander had about 1 1/2 french fries that I broke into little pieces and played with the Hamburglar that came with the Happy Meal. Man, what a good excuse to eat at McDonald's - I can't wait until Alexander is older and requests going there all the time. I'll be responding something like, "Well, alright, if you're good and your mom says it's okay" -- but inside I'll be doing the happy dance and saying: "Yaaaa, I waaaant MeeeeDoooonaaaaals!!!!!"

The Curse of Great Books

I've less than 100 pages to go in reading Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire - it's taken me a while to get to the fourth book in this series, but I was inspired to finally read it before the movie comes out (which is likely within the next 6-12 months) - I've enjoyed going to each of the movies so far with my neice Taylor (who, of course, being a voracious reader, is on top of the Potter series and eagerly awaits the 6th book coming in a month or so), and wanted to ensure that I've read each book before the movie comes out. I have to say the last 200 or so pages of this novel are phenomenal - I was least impressed with the first 100 pages of this one, but the second half of the novel more than makes up for it.

Next on my "to read" pile (man, but the pile is huge - so many great books waiting for me to read - it's an ongoing curse of course that I am glad to say afflicts me) is Robert J. Sawyer's Mindscan. Rob is a brilliant writer who creates interesting characters and intriguing stories - he has deservedly won as many sci-fi awards as I can think of, including the big ones like the Hugo, the Nebula, as well as the Canadian Aurora Award - in 2000, I was fortunate enough to make the Aurora short-list for Best Short Form Work English for my story "Erratic Cycles" but lost to Rob. I certainly couldn't have lost to a nicer guy - despite his success and popularity, Rob is a decent, down-to-earth and approachable guy and a good friend who is always willing to help out fellow writers. He is also a fascinating speaker as well - it's always a pleasure to go to one of his readings or speaking engagements. Seeing such a genuinely nice person accomplish such praise, awards and success is a good feeling - he's worked hard to get where he is and yet he doesn't pause in efforts to help others succeed or learn from his own hard work. Rob was generous enough to give me a nice blurb for the back cover of my short story collection One Hand Screaming, in which he wrote:

"Mark Leslie is an exciting new voice in Canadian fiction, and sure to be one of the SF stars of tomorrow. He's a wonderful writer, and a joy to read."

I've included a link to Rob's own blog, which is always interesting to read. I have to admit, I think I'm going to enjoy reading Mindscan a bit more than his blog, but his recent post about the Rob & Bob Tour (he did a book tour with Robert Charles Wilson - another great talent in Canadian sci-fi - recently), is quite enjoyable, with lots of great photos.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sticks and Stones

I recently received an email from a fellow Levackian (or whatever term one might use to denote those fine folks who grew up in the town of Levack, Ontario). He kindly offered a bit of background on a slang term that I used in a posting on my blog, which basically made fun of a family name, and suggested that I remove the hurtful reference.

The writer in me, the one that insists on creativity and honestly above all else, was immediately on guard over the idea of censorship. I was, after, all merely being honest about myself and the kids and teens in the town I grew up in. We weren't perfect, and among our faults was the fact that we made fun of people when we shouldn't have. I thought that my using this term was merely documenting a piece of my own history, and to remove that would be to deny a part of reality.

But, what about the family whose name I used in this derogatory fashion? The thought of it troubled me. Was the honesty worth potentially causing hurt to others?

I immediately sent a note off to a buddy of mine, who was familiar with use of that term and whom I've been fortunate enough to count among my closest friends for most of my life, my good buddy, Steve Gaydos. Steve is one of the few people besides my wife to have intimate knowledge of the full good, bad and ugly of my psyche; like Francine, I take his concerns and suggestions very seriously. As usual, Steve offered some introspective and though-provoking things to consider. And, as usual, he made me reflect, but also made me laugh almost in the same breath. God, you've gotta love friends with that kind of power.

Steve reminded me of a pivotal moment of my youth. One day, while hanging out with my younger cousin, we encountered a kid a couple of years older than us who was a bit over-weight. We proceeded to call him some sort of names and jumped on our bikes, excited about the chase. (Again, this isn't something I'm proud of - but I'd be lying if I claimed I never engaged in teasing other kids in this "push and pull" manner - the goal seemed to be to tease something and then run like hell so as not to get beat-up). This guy caught me, and instead of riddling me with the punches I expected and deserved, he pulled me aside and asked me why I felt it necessary to call him names and hurt his feelings. Instead of playing the expected game of name-calling, chase and beating, he reasoned with me, tried to get me to see it from his perspective. He couldn't have been more than ten or eleven years old at the time, but his words and actions had a meaningful impact on me, even after all these years - and of course, Steve knows that. This overweight kid and I both eventually grew up (he, of course, long before I did), and he became a very charismatic man and someone whom, though I haven't seen him in at least a decade, I still respect, wherever he is.

I stopped dithering. I modified my original post to remove the negative family name reference. For those who know the name that I used, I can't take that away; for those who didn't read it before I modified it, the post doesn't look like it's missing anything, and still reads perfectly fine with the original intent, so the writer in me can be satisfied. And for those whose family name I'd used in this way, my humblest apologies. The intent was not to insult, nor be hurtful.

Stand Well Back Of The Yellow Platform Line

One of the things I enjoyed the most about the Burlington GO Station (when I used to catch the train there regularly), is the small pond area near the bus turn-about off the north parking lot, which was home to several Canada Geese. It was relaxing and fun to watch them as I walked from my car to the train platform. There was a period of time where, every morning this one goose would stand on the sidewalk, its head bopping back and forth watching the people on their morning journey, almost like an unofficial greeter.

I'm taking the Burlington train for the remainder of May, having recently traded a 10-ride pass for a monthly pass with a friend from work whose contract was cut short this month. I didn't see any geese when I got to the station in the morning. However, getting off the train yesterday evening at Burlington, we came face to face with a nasty sight. A dead Canada Goose, that must have been clipped by a passing train was lying dead and partially mangled on the passenger platform. A truly sad thing.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Gory, Gory Transylvania

On the afternoon/evening train ride home, I often sit on the GO train with a rowdy and fun group of folks, whom I was introduced by the infamous Richard Black whom I work with at Indigo. The time spent with them is often filled with mirth and much teasing -- and results in less work and reading getting done on the ride home. Oh well, what can you do.

Christina, one of the regular afternoon riders, was talking about this great television show the other day, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, and sent me a link to the website this morning.

The Librarian

It brought back some wonderful twisted memories of my childhood. This was a Canadian-made (shot in Hamilton, actually) humour variety show starring Billy Van and featuring Vincent Price that all my friends and I watched and joked about - Count Frightenstein and Brucie (his monster) who never wakes, Igor, the Librarian, the Wolfman, the mosquito, Harvey Wallbanger, Grizelda (the ghastly gourmet), Dr. Pet Vet. Apparently, the show was taped all at once over a 9 to 12 month period and was re-aired due to CanCon (Canadian Content) laws in the 80's (which is when I remember watching it). Now that I think of it, many of the running jokes through my childhood are related to characters and situations from this show. It's funny now, to think back to how some of the sequences (like the creepy camera tracking down the darkened hallways and into the library) used to give me chills.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Hot-Luck Cancelled

Fran called with the bad news. She still wasn't feeling any better. I had to send a notice that the "Hot-Luck" for tonight was cancelled. We feel terrible about this. And we had such fun plans too. I mean, this would have been our first one with an actual beer tap in the house, we had a nice whack of vodka coolers and Corona (and limes) onhand, a nice selection of non-alcoholic soft drinks and cranberry drinks, and even a whack of juice boxes for the kids who sometimes attend with their parents. Fran had some newly acquired dried hot peppers (habanero and scotch bonnet) for table decorations and I was ready to release the latest version of my "after burn" suicide wings on the world. Oh well, we'll just have to re-schedule for a non-traditional date in the near future....


For the past several years, Francine and I have been holding a "Hot-Luck" every Friday the 13th. It was decided after some fun conversations with our neighbour, Chad about enjoying spicy foods and different hot sauces and seeing a program on the Food Network that showed a group of friends that regularly got together and shared their favourite hot and spicy dishes in a pot-luck setting. Since Port Dover has it's own Friday the 13th ritual of motorcyclists meeting there, we thought we'd start our own fun tradition.

The year of the infamous North American blackout that took out the power for most of Eastern Canada and the United States, we had planned a "Hat Luck" for Friday August 15th - a Hot-Luck party where we asked people to wear their favourite silly or outrageous hat. Of course, after the blackout hit (it hit on Thursday the 14th), most people didn't show up and there were only about 6 people attending that time - our smallest turn-out. (Perhaps it was due to the blackout, but maybe it was due to the fact that it wasn't held on a proper Friday the 13th)

The only time we haven't held the gathering in the past few years was Friday February 13th, 2004. Francine was in her first trimester carrying Alexander and could barely look at food - we decided it would be best not to hold a "food-related" event that time around.

We've already planned and bought goodies and beverages for tonight's event, only, yesterday Francine came down with a nasty cold and fever. She's going to call later this morning and let me know if she's up to it - if not, I'm going to have to contact everyone and let them know the gathering tonight is off. It's not fair to Fran to host such an event is she's feeling like hell warmed over - also not fair to expose our guests to whatever big she's picked up.

Yikes - I'm starting to get a little paraskevidekatriaphobic!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Home Intrusion

The phone rang this morning at about 1:30 AM. As I answered it, hearing my mother-in-law's voice, I flashed back to a few years ago when a similar call at about 3 in the morning was due to her going into congestive heart failure. This time, someone had tried to break into her house. The police had just left after combing the yard and area, and recommended that she call a family member to come over if possible.

I quickly pulled on my pants, grabbed my mag light and jumped in the truck while Fran kept her company on the phone. Fortunately, she lives only about 3 minutes away, so when I arrived I was able to double-check the yard and basement for her, looking into any possible spot that someone could be hiding in.

She recounted how, upon going to the washroom after some late night TV viewing, she heard a metal scraping sound from the side door. She crept into the kitchen and turned on the outside light. Through the small glass windows on the top of the door, she could see the screen door was open - that and the continued sound of metal scraping on metal indicated that someone was at the door, trying to get in. She snuck over to the window above the sink and could see someone standing on the sidewalk (likely a "lookout") looking up the driveway where the door was. She turned on the front lights and a few more interior lights. The "lookout" gestured something and then start walking down the street. Then she went for the phone and called 911. The police arrived within minutes.

We had some tea and sat up talking for a few hours, until she felt comfortable enough to go to bed. I'd intended on sleeping on her couch to ensure she felt safe, but she insisted she'd be less able to sleep if I was still there (also something to do with the fact that if I stayed there that night, the next night it would be even more difficult for her to be alone)

I finally got back to sleep some time after 4:30 (less than an hour before I had to get up for work), and Francine and I are looking into getting her set up with a security system. Francine and I use Voxcom and have been very satisfied with their services. We'll likely call them first.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me!

Francine kept reminding me that today was my birthday, but we've been so busy with running errands and doing stuff around the house (I recently finished putting up and painting the trim in the basement that I started renovating Jan 2004, for example), particularly for the visit that my Mom and Baba will be making this weekend for our son's Baptism, that I kept forgetting. It's been a hectic month of "getting ready". I can't even remember how old I am - have to ask Francine. Sure, I could do the math and figure it out, but it's easier just to let her tell me. I do have more important things to keep in my mind, after all, like remembering to put down the toilet seat.

As a fun treat, I'm going to get my haircut today.

I loved the play that we saw last night - Joanna did yet another bang-up job of directing. The mish-mash of different fairy tale spoofs was done wonderfully, and the chorus, of course, did a wonderful job of translating my slightly humourous spoof lyrics to the stage. Alexander even enjoyed the show (although he was mostly fixated on a colourful drawing of a star on the wall behind us). I think it was also one of the first times that Uncle Mike didn't make him cry. He even let Mike hold him and had a blast playing with (and getting smudgy finger prints all over) his sunglasses. I'm thinking maybe it's because he saw Mike just a few days ago and remembers him.

Okay, Happy Birthday To Me -- off to hear a day filled with different renditions of "...you (smell/look) like a monkey and you (look/act) like one too."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fabulous Fairy Tales

Tomorrow is the day that "Fabulous Fairy Tales" is being performed at St. Peter's school in Milton. My brother in law's girlfriend, Joanna, is a teacher there and every year she directs a play for a group of students to perform for friends and family. Last year she directed my play "The Show Must Go On" - I ended up writing a "Chorus" into that version for her. They did an absolutely wonderful job with this play - what a marvellous thing to see a script that you wrote being interpreted and performed.

This year, they were doing a series of twisted fairy tales and she asked if I could write some lyrics based on each of the fairy tales they were doing. Since, I don't write musical scores, I usually borrow the tunes from existing songs that are well known and introduce my own lyrics to it.

The opening song is based on the "Looney Tunes" opening theme song and starts off like this:

Once upon
Upon a time
We’ll sing a song
And it will rhyme
And we’ll give you a laugh
So you won’t ask for your money back

Other songs are for the plays Cinderella (sung to the tune of "Alouette"), The Emperor's New Hair (to the tune of "If I Only Had A Brain"), The Frog Prince Continued (to the tune of "The Brady Bunch" theme song), Slurping Beauty (to the tune of "Gilligan's Island" theme song) and the Closing Song (to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat")

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mash Pits

How embarassing. I'm sitting here at work with these huge "Mash Pits" (a term a buddy of mine in high school used to denote large rings of armpit sweat on one's shirt - based on the sweaty pits we used to see on the characters in M.A.S.H.) while the person beside me has her coat on and is complaining how cold the office is. What is wrong with me? (Besides hyperhidrosis that is)

Take A Sniff, Pull It Out

Juicy Fruit has recently brought back the song they used for commercials in the early 80's - but they brought in back in a fun self-spoofing way. This nerdy guy comes out with a guitar and starts singing.

Get your ski's shined up, grab a stick of Juicy Fruit
The taste is gonna move you
Take a sniff, pull it out
The taste is gonna move you when you pop it in your mouth
Juicy Fruit is gonna move you
It chews so soft, it gets right to you
Juicy Fruit, the taste, the taste, the taste is gonna move you

But before he can finish, someone who just can't take the song usually grabs the guitar from his hands and starts smashing it. Nicely done.

I think it would be fun to learn the chords to this song and at the next party, pull out my guitar and start the song - you know, just to see how many people sing along and how many people try to grab the guitar and smash it.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Random Acts of Book Kindness

I've been a member of BookCrossing.com for several months now, and have released a few books into the wild. Book Crossing is a unique process where you register a book online, sticker the book with a registration ID and a note that tells people it's a free book that can be tracked on its travels, and you "release" it into the wild on a park bench, in a waiting room, at a bus station, wherever you think people might pick it up. It's like a place where book lovers and "message in a bottle" droppers combine forces for the good of the literary world.

I've released a few books in this way, one of which actually made it 'across the pond' but that's only because I released it onto the desk of a guy from Australia who was working here and whom I knew would be travelling through Europe - a few other releases of mine have yet to have been picked up. I wonder if they're just sitting in some 'Lost & Found' somewhere. In any case, purposely releasing books into the wild in this fashion is MUCH better than the usual way of lending the book to a friend and never getting it back.

The tough thing about releasing books is I tend to only want to release good ones - but I'm leary of letting go of the good ones, so I usually end up buying a second copy of one I'm eager to "share" with the world. I recently found duplicate copies of books I enjoyed reading on my bookshelves and plan on releasing them soon. They are "Day of The Triffids" by John Wyndham (an old sci-fi classic) and "Long Time Gone" by Denis Hamill, (a relatively new contemporary fiction tale). Both books were excellent and ones certainly worth sharing.

Patricia Warned Me!

When telling Patricia at work that Francine and I had purchased a Bissell ProHeat steam cleaner from Sears, she warned me that the whole thing could be a little addictive. She said once you see the dirt and grime that it lifts up, you'll be tempted to steam clean as often as you used to vacuum. Wow, she wasn't kidding. Last week Francine steam-cleaned our bedroom and today she was planning on doing Alexander's room and the stairs. But this afternoon I caught her doing our room again, and of course, remarking on how much dirt the carpet was holding after only one week. I wonder about the risk of combining my wife's obsessive personality with an industrial strength cleaning product. I wonder if she'll try again sooner than a week, just to see how much dirt is there . . . ?