Friday, March 31, 2006

Random Bits & Pieces

  • Since I don’t have Tom Cruise’s wads of cash, where am I going to get the money to pay for bodyguards to protect me me from Xenu (or Zoltar or whoever that evil alien is in Scientologist doctrine)?
  • I love the “squirrel” scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but still don’t understand why everyone is so terrified of such a little creature. A spider or hornet I can see, but a squirrel?
  • On the flip side, I completely understand the killer rabbit of Caerbannog scene in Monty Python & The Holy Grail. (I’ve seen Mister Bunny in a bad mood and experienced his "nasty big pointy teeth")
  • As I type this, I’m sitting on the GO train between two ladies who are reading the free daily newsrags and licking their fingers before turning each page. I still don’t get that. Yes, after touching things on a public transit system like door handles, the seats, etc. You might as well be licking the floor or seat you’re sitting in. I wonder if those ladies would get it if I put down my laptop and started licking the seat I was sitting in?
  • Raymond Sobeski, winner of Canada’s largest lottery ($30 million dollars), is complaining that the media is ‘vilifying’ him. How can I put this? Oh, I know. “Wah, f*ckin’ wah!” At least he can afford to pay for bodyguards to protect him from Xenu?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

HNT - Darth's Revenge Part I

At long last, the continuation of the Darth Tater Spud Wars series . . .

Continued from HNT - When Darth Comes Knocking.

When we last left off, Darth and his gang of clones had approached Mark's house. While the rest of the clones hid, Darth knocked on the door and tricked an unsuspecting Mark into opening the door.

Expecting to see the Avon lady, Mark was surprised to see his old nemesis Darth Tater standing in his doorway.

"I lied," Darth said.

"Pardon me?" Mark responded, still reeling from the shock.

"When we played 'knock, knock' a moment ago, I lied. When you said 'Who's there?' I should have said 'Vera.'"

"Vera who?" Mark asked, even more puzzled.

"Vera gonna kill you!" Darth wailed, and, as he let out a battle cry, the hidden clones all jumped out of hiding, launching a quick and ruthless attack on their enemy.

To be continued . . .

Frightened? Startled? Confused?
Don't be. Be enlightened.
Click below to go see the head spud of HNT and find out more.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


When I first started writing, which was over 20 years ago, one of the things that I had to struggle with were distractions. Back then, of course, sitting in the basement for days on end during the summer with an underwood typewriter with sticky keys, hammering out page after page of what I thought was a brilliant "Dungeons & Dragons" adventure novel (which was really nothing more than a young teenager enjoying writing a story with lots of sword fights and sex scenes), the distractions were my friends who wanted to go to the beach, go for a bike ride, play street hockey, whatever.

As I got a bit older, the distractions became girls, girls and more girls. Not that I ever had much success with women, of course. But I spent a lot of time chasing them. (The only reason I think I ended up succeeding with Francine is that she just got tired of running) But there were other distractions, too. Television was a big one. Heading out to bars and concerts, etc with my friends was another. And just plain goofing off.

When I first started browsing the internet (or "information super-highway" as it was known years and years ago), it was pretty exciting, and took away my writing time. Then, when I first moved from a text-based isp to one with images, I was blown away. And like many young men, I immediately discovered internet porn. That was a distraction for a while. Fortunately I've gotten over it. For the most part. Some might argue that my HNT obsession is nothing more than artistically masked porn. I beg to differ, of course.

Something I haven't gotten over, would be the distractions from the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of VERY interesting people I've discovered online via blogging. Just look at my blog links on the right nav and you'll see. And the damn thing continues to grow. So many fascinating people to read and catch up with, so little time.

All time that gets taken away from the already precious and limited writing time. Distractions are such an issue for me as a writer that I actually wrote a story about Distractions plaguing a writer, a fun tongue-in-cheek dark humour story, which I reprinted in One Hand Screaming and you can read for free. Click here and following the link to the story entitled, you guessed it: Distractions)

And right now, for example, while I had planned on spending 15 minutes making notes on a few unfinished writing projects (I have a half-completed sci-fi novel, a half-completed mystery novel and a children's book that needs to have a red pen taken to it to reduce word count by 20%, nevermind the fact that I'm about to get to a point in I, Death that I haven't properly mapped out yet), I've spent it blogging.

Well, at least blogging is writing. Right? And one of the huge benefits about that writing would be that people out there actually read that writing. And, unlike writing a story or a novel, the feedback is almost immediate. It feeds that little writer ego that longs, not for positive comments or praise, but mostly just to be read and acknowledged.

Oh, and something that I rarely admit. I actually love my distractions. That's what makes it so tough, it's one of those love/hate relationships. They plague me, but I couldn't live without them.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why Do That To Yourself?

We're getting a lot of phone calls lately because we've listed our old microwave in the Hamilton Spectator classifieds. (We recently opted to replace our counter-hogging microwave for a space-saving one that goes above our stove).

Having strangers call to ask about the product and make ridiculous low-ball offers reminds me of the last time we had something listed in the paper, and makes me question why we do that (other than to get something off of our hands). I think last time it was a set of bookshelves. The thing that killed me about it was after we'd already sold the shelves, whenever someone called we'd tell them, sorry, we just sold them.

The typical response was: "Oh. What colour were they?"

Like, it really matters. They're gone. Sold. No longer available. What does it matter what freakin' colour they were?

Monday, March 27, 2006

More Death Stuff

Tish's recent post about my serial thriller I, Death) has inspired me to get off my butt and actually slap these little "I, Death" promo jobbies up.

If anyone out there is enjoying "I, Death" and wants to link to it, feel free to copy and paste the code below each image (replacing the round brackets ( ) with these puppies < > ) -- if you do end up linking to this, let me know - I'll happily recirocate via "I, Death" or on my own blog. (IE, if you're a writer and/or do horror/thriller stuff, or anything related to things that Peter talks about on his blog, I'll link to you via "I, Death")

(or, if you just find my half-assed attempt at creating an exciting image link-box laughable, I'm not too shy to ask for help from anyone out there more gifted in visual presentation than I)

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Dying To Try This Beer

Flipping the pages on my "365 Bottles of Beer For The Year" desk calendar this morning, I discovered yesterday's beer was Reaper Ale's "Deathly Pale Ale" - Gotta love it.

"first sips register a fruity, bitter hop character, a light citrus fruitiness steathily appears in the aroma . . . a spreading alcohol (6.2 %) bite leaves a rising malty quality on the tongue and citrus and floral notes in the aftertaste."

Can't wait to try some of that. Sure, it sounds like a nice beer with a bit of bite - but dammit, the label and name are just so cool. (And I just noticed that they have distribution in PA - damn, wish I'd known when I was there)

Sunday, March 26, 2006


I received the galleys the other day for my story "Being Needed" which will be appearing in the Your Scrivener Press anthology Bluffs. This story, which I'd originally written well over 10 years ago has been through many many rewrites, and the version which editor Laurence Steven helped me arrive at is, I think, the story at its fullest potential.

I'm quite delighted with the result and can't wait to see it in print when the book is released in May.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm Just A Geek, Too

I’ve just added two books to my “must read” list -- and they’re sneaking ahead of the many many books already there, right to the top.

Let me explain.

A few days ago my buddy Shoop sent me some links to podcasts featuring Wil Wheaton giving a talk at Gnomedex 4.0. It was two back to back ITConversation podcasts, each about an hour long, and once I started listening I just couldn’t stop.

Wheaton is a wonderful speaker, an intriguing personality and a gifted storyteller. His talk was a combination of off the cuff banter, prepared pieces and selected readings from his two books: Dancing Barefoot and Just A Geek.

But let me go back to the beginning. I remember Wil as a boy in the movie Stand By Me. He played Gordie Lachance, the young writer I so admired. Because the character was a writer and a meek little nerd, I identified with him immediately. When I found out the movie was based on a novella by Stephen King, I sought it out and read it. It was the first book by Stephen King that I ever read. I’ve been an avid fan ever since, and if I ever write something that’s even half as good as King’s “The Body” I’ll have succeeded as a writer. Thanks, Wil.

A few years later, Wil reappeared as Ensign Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I loved that show. To me, it’s the best series within the whole Star Trek Universe, maybe partially because of the way it made the whole Star Trek mystique accessible to non-science fiction fans, like my wife and her best friend. I haven’t been able to get Francine to watch Deep Space Nine, Voyageur or Enterprise, but she eagerly enjoyed TNG. Fun sci-fi and time spent with my honeybunny? Priceless. So again, thanks, Wil.

Then Wil seemed to disappear from Hollywood. Within the last few years, he reappeared in another guise. Blogger. Writer. Wil’s two books are based upon the blogging that he has been doing since he first started up his web site in August of 2001. And within those books and his blog he talks about being a child actor, going through the phase of being a “has-been” or “used to be an actor” and rediscovering himself and his passions.

Wil is a brilliant and gifted storyteller. And he is hilarious. At times he’s a riot. Part of the humour comes from his frank self-deprecating manor, part of it comes from the clear and easily imagined pictures he creates in his stories, and part of it comes from his strong narrative voice. I enjoyed listening to his tales as much as I enjoy listening to CBC’s Stuart McLean from the Vinyl CafĂ©. I wouldn’t do any justice to Wil’s tales by attempting to recount them here.

I did write down a single quote from Wil’s podcasts that hit home for me. “One of the things that I absolutely adore about my wife is her ability to get right to the heart of my bullshit.” I sighed when I heard that, because that’s one of the things I cherish about Francine. And depend on. Because me and bullshit, we’re thick as thieves.

So I guess after a few decades I’m still identifying with Wil in his new guise. I’m a geek, too. Okay, well not actually a geek, I’m more of a nerd, but I’ve been working for several years at refining my geekness, and I think I’m getting more geeky each and every year.

And I do urge anyone who is a blogger, a writer, a Star Trek or sci-fi fan or anyone who enjoyed the various roles Wil played as a young actor to check out the podcasts. (Part I & Part II)

I’m pretty sure that, like me, you’ll start checking out Wil’s blog (due to site construction, the current direct link is here) on a regular basis, and put his books onto your “must read” list.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

HNT - Anatomy of a Shave

After having done a poetry reading and then an author appearance I thought it was time to get rid of the van dyke I'd been sporting. Yes, for you Star Trek fans, prepare to say goodbye to the "evil" Mark Leslie.

But shaving off a beard has never been just a simple task for me. I like to have fun, experiment, goof around, take all afternoon. I usually come out of the washroom sporting some "fun new look" to which Francine responds with a laugh then a quick reminder to get back in the washroom and finish the job properly.

Here's a look at the goofing around I did last Sunday when I shaved.

Starting off - a little artsy light flash
The cowboy look
Regular moustache - boring

Goofy little French moustache

Chaplin look -- too much like Hitler
Ah, back to normal

What is this crazy half-nekkid man doing?
Click below to go see Osbasso and find out more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Book Signing Success

Samson, my photo-happy buddy on the Pittsburgh trip, shared the photos he had taken last week, including the ones of his meals. You can see several of them (sans the food pictures) on my flickr thingy by clicking here.

Samson took some great pictures of the book signing I did at Barnes & Noble, and speaking of which, I have to say I am completely impressed with the B&N folks. About a month before the event, when I’d contacted a few stores, the downtown location booked me in, but another location, in a Pittsburgh burb was already booked up but did offer to order in copies of my book if I was willing to swing by and sign copies.

Thank God for that, because on the day before my signing, I got a call from Leeann, the Promotions Manager at B&N downtown. My book hadn’t arrived, despite the fact that Ingram was showing over 100 copies in stock, and when she called the B&N distribution centre, they told her the stock wouldn’t arrive before the signing. I remembered the Squirrel Hill store had stock, so told Leeann. They were willing to transfer the stock over, and that night after work, Leeann went to pick up that stock. Excellent save.

The signing went well (which means I actually sold some copies of the book), a lot of my friends in the WPC Scripting class showed up to show their support as well, which was really cool. And the B&N staff read from a series of three different announcements I had prepared for the event every fifteen minutes. Apart from the overwhelmingly efficient, courteous, organized, supportive and friendly staff at the Sudbury Chapters, this B&N hosted the best bookstore event I’ve participated in as an author.

And I can say, without a lie, that it was the very best and most successful signing I’ve ever done in the U.S. (yeah, okay, it’s the only one I’ve done south of the 49th parallel -- but I did make a promise to the wonderful B&N folks at the Monroeville Mall, 20 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, that the next time I’m in town I’ll be sure to arrange something with their store. It is, after all, only a 6 hour drive from my steeltown to that steeltown.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Back To Reality

Yesterday, returning home from work was one of the first normal days I've had in several weeks. Two weeks ago, Fran and Alex were in Sudbury. Last week, I was in Pittsburgh. So, last night, it was one of life's simple yet perfect pleasures to arrive home, put out the recycling and garbage, say hello to my neighbour then peek in through the front door window to see my son running up and down the front hallway yelling out "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy"

Stepping into the house, giving my son a big hug, kissing my beautiful wife, breathing in the incredibly delicious smell of the pasta sauce she had prepared for supper, then playing on the kitchen floor with Alexander and talking to Francine about the day each of us had.

And thinking to myself: Man, I'm one lucky bastard.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

You Have Entered The Twilight Zone . . .

. . . beyond this world strange things are known.

Sigh. Blogger went kind of haywire these past 24 to 48 hours or so. Really freaky stuff. Twilight Zoney kind of stuff. Last I looked, my blog looked like one of my first half-assed attempt to write html stuff. Well, at least that was slightly better than the blog appearing to NOT exist for half the day yesterday with a "permission denied" error. Ahhh.

Sigh -- whaddaya gonna do? I'm trying to submit a new post and republish the entire blog site and see what happens.

Fingers, toes, eyes all crossed. . . .

Here goes nothing

Friday, March 17, 2006

Still Miss You, Dad

Three years ago today my father died when he went into the hospital for a "routine" surgery to have a kidney with a suspicious cancerous mass removed. He bled to death in the recovery room because the clips on his renal artery were either defective or were put on improperly. In an attempt to understand how this could have happened we pursued the matter with the coroner as well as with an investigation through the provincial coroner's office but since the clips couldn't be found, their inconclusive ruling (IMHO) was that the death was of "natural causes"

Don't get me started.

Does it sound like I want to blame someone for taking my father away? Damn right. I'm still bitter over the needless loss of a great man. Very often when playing with my son I think about how delighted my father would have been to meet him and how much Alexander would have cherished his Grandfather. I miss my father every single day, but I've tried to think about all the great things that he was and still is to me rather than dwell in a house of anger and blame.

I also try to think about the wonderful and zany sense of humour that my father posessed. Even on that morning when he died I remember watching him joke with the hospital staff as they brought him in to surgery. He always had this way of finding humour in almost any situation. I think that that's why each and every day I do my best to spread a little bit of humour where I can and try make people laugh -- I like to think it's in honour of him.

In 1996, I wrote a poem for my father and put it into a little frame. The poem was inspired by the painting Francine and I bought during a craft show at Carlingwood Mall -- it was of a man, his son and their dog. We gave the painting and the poem to him on Father's Day of that year. Being very crafty and creative, he mounted a transfer copy of the poem onto a wood round (it's like a "slice" from a tree, complete with the tree bark as a frame) and varnished it. I marvelled at the combination of my father's hobby of woodcrafting and my love of writing merging together.

A Man, His Son and Their Dog

A man, his son and their dog
Sit quiet, ever still
They are dark silhouettes against an intense fire-red
display of the waking sun in the eastern sky
The haunting call of a loon in the distance
And a duck flaps its wings, takes flight above the lake
Slicing cleanly through the picturesque scene

The dog whimpers, leans forward, looks askance at the boy
The boy himself turns his head slowly to regard his father
The man nods, smiles, then returns his gaze to the mist
rising off of the lake

In that silent exchange
Against the orange-tinted morning sky
A mutual respect and love are shared
In a way that can never be spoken
But which still carries more power, more beauty
Than any sunset of sunrise

One thing that I don't regret is that I never failed to tell my father that I loved him. And on the morning that he died, just before he headed in to surgery those were my last words to him as I kissed and hugged him.

I try to remember not to forget the importance of telling those people who are important to you how much they mean to you. So if you can today, in honour of my father, either tell someone you love that you love them or just try to make someone laugh. Spreading love and laughter, to me, are evidence that my father is not really gone, just missed terribly.

Eugene Lionel Lefebvre: June 28, 1938 - March 17, 2003

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HNT - Unclovered

So Osbasso spread word on a theme for this week's HNT. Green. Excellent idea, except I'm in Pittsburgh without a camera and had been planning on just pulling an old funny pic out of the archives.

So what's a guy to do?

I know, browse the internet for images of "shamrock" (found myself both a clover and a half-nekkid wrestler guy). Then I grab a "head shot" of myself and do a real amateur cut and paste with an image editor, and voila . . .

Mark Unclovered. A hokey and poorly put together St. Patrick's Day HNT. I would have used my own perfectly sculpted body for this, but this time of year I'm not so nicely tanned as the wrestler whose body I borrowed for this shot. Hopefully it's worth a few chuckles at least . . .

Don't see green -- you, too can get half-nekkid every Thursday.
Click below to go see Osbasso and find out more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

You'll Like Yuengling

Since I missed posting on the 14th, and tomorrow is Half-Nekkid Thursday, I thought I'd continue on with my beer discovery tour of Pittsburgh. When my bloggy pal Lime gives me advice, I do try to follow it, particularly when she says that Mr. Lime likes a particular brand of beer.

So, tonight's brew was Yuengling. America's oldest brewery and arguably one of PA's finest offerings. I went out with the same fine group of gentlemen as last night. We ate at a Thai place (Lemon Grass Cafe) -- and one of the great things about Pittsburgh is that restaurants that aren't liscenced to sell alcohol allow customers to bring in their own. So we picked up a few six packs from the bar next door. (Another cool thing you can't do in Ontario).

Niko went with Guinness (his favourite), Iulian got a "mixed pack" and Anthony and I bought the 1 Pint cans of Yuengling lager. It was quite good. In fact, I'm drinking a can of it right now. Thanks, Lime!

And, difficult as it was to not go out with a sub-set of the guys who wanted to go to another bar after we ate, I decided to call it an early night, especially since I have a book signing at Barnes & Noble tomorrow during the lunch time rush. Figured I should get close to a full night's sleep if possible, and save my rowdy behaviour for tomorrow night.

Oh, and for the record, Samson didn't fail in his directive to get a photo of his meal. His girlfriend would be proud. He kind of went overboard after that, though, snapping pictures every 2 minutes on the walk back. A couple of the guys in our party thought it was lightning.

Rolling On

So yesterday, we started getting into some fun scripting challenges. Maybe for smart people they weren't all that challenging, but I found it ranked right up there. About ten of us ended up working well after the class was supposed to end, trying to debug our code and figure out where we went wrong. Eight of us agreed that it would be a good night to get some beer.


Now we're talking MY programming language.

Samson, Li, Iulian and I met with three of the IBM guys and our instructor Anthony and had dinner at the Red Star Tavern. It was $2.00 Tuesday. Miller Light on tap was $2.00 and they also had $1.00 burgers. Right on. It was the best $1.00 burger I've ever had (though I added cheese, lettuce and tomato to mine - which made it a $3.00 burger in total).

After finishing our meal, and a half dozen rounds, a few of the guys went home and the rest of us went to the connected Big Louie's bar, where I drank good old Rolling Rock draft. Yum. Too bad my neighbour Chad wasn't there - it's his favourite beer.

We had tons of laughs and I image some of us might be hurting a bit in class this morning. Too stubborn to pay for a cab, and not bothered by the cold, I ended up walking back with one of the IBM guys. It was, after all, only a twenty minute walk across the river from Station Square to our hotel.

I think that the only disappointing thing about last night was it was the first time I didn't see Samson taking a picture of his food. (His girlfriend has this fetish where she likes to see all the food that he eats when he's travelling -- so, just before chowing down each night, he'd pause, pull out his camera and take a picture of his plate)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

But It's Really About The Beer

Welcome to another installment of, "Come ON -- tell me the WHOLE story!" AKA "I love to talk about myself", or "Me-Me Monday" for short.

The object of the game is to refer to your 101 Things About Me list, pick one of your "things" and tell the whole sordid tale. I don't yet have a full 101 Thing About Me list, but do plan on growing one. So when I play Me-Me Monday" I'll add to my list.

26. I've never eaten Sushi before and have no great desire to try it.

I've had fun combinations of seaweed and rice and vegetables -- my good buddy Taki used to make it back in Ottawa - it was good and I liked it. But many years later when the whole Western culture Sushi craze really took off, I kind of let it take off and leave me behind. Francine has been content to do the same. So, with neither of us really wanting to jump on the "raw fish" bandwagon, we're just fine as is.

Don't get me wrong, I love fish (I grew up eating fish that I caught with my Dad -- Pickerel or Walleye being my favourite) - but I never had any strong desire to consume truckloads of raw fish.

So, my 101 items list gets challenged today. The guys I'm with on a training course all wanted to go to a Sushi place tonight. I figured I might as well stop being a Sushi virgin. I did end up ordering a veggie Sushi dish, but Iulian let me try his salmon/tuna sushi bit, which I enjoyed (and couldn't really tell was raw)

So in a nutshell - Sushi, pretty good, nothing really to write home about. I love the wasabi. That was pretty awesome. But as for Sushi, I don't feel like I've been missing out all my life on this. Maybe I'll see if Fran wants to try it with me some time. Other than that, I'm a happy camper with a single taste of it.

Now, at the Japanese restaurant, I thought I'd try out a Japanese beer. Samson told me that Asahi is one of the huge breweries in Japan, sponsoring everything and with signs all over the place. So I ordered one of those. It was a nice beer.

But a funny twist. I checked out the label. Apparently, Asahi is brewed in North America by Molson in Toronto (Molson being one of the two larger Canadian Breweries -- okay, not Canadian any more, but at least started out that way before being consumed by larger Brewing Companies). Then it's shipped to California where it's distributed in the U.S. Well, no WONDER the beer tasted so good - it was brewed in Canada. (Gee now I feel like I was cheating on trying out new brews and just drinking Canadian stuff.)

It's really often just about the beer with me, isn't it? Hmm, let's make THAT point 27 on my list.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Iron City

My flight into Pittsburgh landed this evening (on an Air Canada Jazz airplane that was a bit smaller than I have been on in quite a while - I wasn't quite sitting on the pilot's lap, but it was darned close)

My work-mates and I took the Hilton shuttle bus down to a fun market/restaurant area which reminded me of "The Market" after dark in downtown Ottawa. Although a heck of a lot more quiet this Sunday night than I ever remember downtown Ottawa to be, even this time of year.

And it's not that I don't pay attention to advice from my bloggy friends, but I did end up trying out the local Pittsburgh beer "Iron City" that Lime (a PA resident) warned me against. Sorry, Lime, it's not that I don't treasure your opinion, it's just that I'm a sucker to want to try local brews whenever I travel.

I have to admit that the aluminum bottle the beer came in was pretty darn nifty and the beer wasn't all that bad. Since the bar we were at was out of Rolling Rock (one of my favourite US brews), and most other beers (they'd had their huge St. Patty's celebration the night before and were out of a lot), I ended up having a second "Iron City" brew.

About the only thing I'm not that fond of here so far is the supposed high speed internet access the rooms have. Supposedly there's great wireless access nomatter where you go in this building but the signal strength and connection ability is about as consistent as a Hollywood marriage. I no sooner find a signal than it steals away into the shadows again. My buddy down the hall, Samson, has been having the same problem -- argh!

In a desperate attempt to get onto my work network and get some work done (which, yes, did also result in this blog posting - so sue me for working so hard that I need a little break), I ended up plugging my phone line into my machine and relying on a good old fashioned dial up connection.

At least it works. It only took me 2 hours to get 15 minutes of work done . . .

Thursday, March 09, 2006

HNT - Annoying Spud Wars "Clip Show"

Don't you hate when you tune in to your favourite sitcom and, instead of a new episode all that you get is one of those silly clip shows. You know the ones, where, instead of doing anything new, the characters all sit around and talk about stuff that happened in the past and most of the show is just "clips" from past episodes?

I hate those too.

That's why, instead of just offering a "clip" recap image, I thought that I would be sure to insert a couple of images that never actually appeared in previous episodes. I think there are at least 3 or 4 of them. So if you've got time, check out the "story so far" and see if you can identify which shots are the ones that were originally on the cutting room floor.


1 - Darth Tater UnMasked

2 - Carb Eater Strikes Back

3A - Return of the Spud Eye

3B - Attack of the Clones

4 - When Darth Comes Knocking

Go visit Osbasso, a man who'd never cheat you with a shoddy "clip show" HNT

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tonight, Tonight, Tonight

I borrowed the title to this post from a track on the “Invisible Touch” album by Genesis -- of course, my buddies and I called that album “Invisible Crotch” -- do you remember the song? “She seems to have an invisible crotch. You reach for it, it never seems to be there. She seems to have an invisible crotch. You should give up, ‘cause you’re getting no where.” No we never sang anything beyond the first line, I just made the rest of that up for fun.

Of course, I do that with a lot of songs -- sometimes it cracks Francine up, sometimes she rolls her eyes with a look that tells me she’s wondering: ‘Now why DID I marry this guy?’

You see, I’m in a poetry state of mind lately. I’ve spent a bit of time hemming and hawing over which poems I’m going to read tonight at the launch for Hammered Out #8.

Sure, I’ll read “Electric Fire” which appears in the journal, but I’ve been going through other poems and trying to figure out what else to read. I’ve got a pile of other short more literary style pieces, including “The Sound of One Man Screaming” but am thinking of tossing in a dark humour/horror one or two. Partly to show the breadth of my work.

But also because I can’t resist the urge to want to make an audience laugh (and not because my fly is open and my wee willy winkie is checking out at the room)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Author Appearances In Hamilton & Pittsburgh

I’ll be doing two different reading/signing events about one week apart in two different cities and for two different types of my writing.

Wed, March 8th - Poetry / Hamilton

The launch of Hammered Out #8 (a Hamilton-published poetry journal) which will include one of my poems, “Electric Fire” will take place Wed March 8th from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Hamilton Central Library Branch (in the Hamilton room) and will feature readings by:

Heather Hillen (for David Hillen), Jeff Seffinga (for Margaret Saunders), John Terpstra (centred out), Lin Geary (centred out), Eileen Egerton Lampard, Linda Frank, Kathy Olenski
April Severin, Mark Leslie, Kevin Somers, Robert Morpheal, OmahaRisinG

Admission to the event is free and copies of the journal will be available for purchase.

I love the Hamilton literary community, and am honoured to be included in an issue that will also serve as a memorial for two recently departed and well respected members of the Hamilton literary community (David Hillen & Margaret Saunders)

This will be my first non-horror genre piece to be unveiled in my home town. The poem itself is somewhat literary (meaning no dripping blood, grinning skulls or homicidal maniacs are in it. It’s actually about love making -- well, actually, not love making so much as sex). The poem begins thusly: (see I’m already speaking like a literary dude):

electric fire burns

is that how it felt for you
she says, more a statement
than a question and
reaches over the side of the bed
her hand clawing along the floor
for the package
of cigarettes


Thursday March 16th- Horror Collection / Pittsburgh

I’ve confirmed a March 16th signing for my book One Hand Screaming at the downtown location of Barnes & Noble in Pittsburgh from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM.

I’m not only delighted that setting this up with the Barnes & Noble staff was such a pleasant experience, but also with the fact that this will be my first book event in the U. S..

And while I will not be doing a signing at the Squirrel Hill Barnes & Noble in Pittsburgh, they will have stock of my book on hand and said that if I swung by the store to sign copies of the book, they’d put them onto a display. The book retails for $12.95 US, which is an absolute steal. (or steel - that’s Hamilton / Pittsburgh steel town humour)

I’ve started to send press releases out hoping that at the very least an “event listing” can be added to one or more of the local Pittsburgh papers.

I think I’ll bring my skull tie for the occasion, but I’m going to leave Yorick at home - he’s afraid of flying. His hollow skull doesn’t do well with the change in air pressure at higher altitudes.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bachelor Daze

Welcome to another installment of, "Come ON -- tell me the WHOLE story!" otherwise known as "I love to talk about myself", and in a pinch can be called Me-Me Monday.

The object of the game is to refer to your 101 Things About Me list, pick one of your "things" and tell the whole sordid tale. I don't yet have a full 101 Thing About Me list, but do plan on growing one. So when I play Me-Me Monday" I'll add to my list.

25. I had always been a bit of a loner and comfortable with spending endless hours of time alone -- until recently. Now, however, when Francine or Alexander aren’t around, it’s just not any fun.

This past Saturday morning, Fran and Alexander and I drove up to Sudbury (actually, Levack, about 45 minutes north of Sudbury) to my mom’s home. I came back yesterday on the bus. Francine and Alexander are going to spend the week there. We thought it’d be good for him to spend some time with his Grandmother and Great Grandmother and also to actually see snow for more than 2 hours in a row (which is about how long the stuff lasts around here lately)

When I first thought about living a whole week as a bachelor again, with virtually no responsibility other than looking after myself, I had these George Costanza visions of walking around in nothing but my underwear, of sitting on the couch in front of the television and eating a block of cheese the size of a car battery, of staying up as late as I want, of playing video games rather than vacuuming, of making whatever I wanted for dinner without having to consider another person’s preferences, and of going out drinking with the boys every night.

But the thrill of the possibility of all those things died within the first hour that I arrived home alone last night.

For one, our house, which is relatively small, seemed like this huge empty space, with nobody other than myself and Mister Bunny to fill it. I could swear that there were echoes whenever I was chatting with my rabbit.

I spent most of the evening working on my computer, because I didn’t find it fun watching The Oscars without Francine there to talk to about the show. I even went to bed at about quarter to 11, which is rare, because Fran usually has to raise a huge fuss to get me to go to bed on time and I'm always eager to watch "just a little bit" of the 11 o'clock news.

The night before, Fran and I were crammed into my Baba’s 60 year old double bed (where we each have the equivalent of about the width of postage stamp to sleep on and my legs stick out from the end of the bed to halfway across the room). Then, when Alexander woke at about 5:30 in the morning crying, and I brought him into bed with us, it was a tight and uncomfortable sleep for the rest of the morning, with Alexander sprawled out comfortably and Fran and I hanging on desperately to the edges of the bed where our bodies teetered.

At first, I remember thinking how comfortable and spacey our bed would be having the whole thing to myself. Again, that lasted about 2 minutes, because I missed snuggling up to my wife. And, complain as I do about those times when Alexander wakes in the night and ends up snuggling between us, then stretches out, uses our bodies as punching bags in the throes of his sleep, one of the great things to wake up to Saturday and Sunday mornings are his curious smiling eyes and that whack on the face that means: “Okay Daddy, enough sleep. It’s time to play now.”

But, alas, my bachelor dreams were short-lived.

I washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen almost immediately after having supper last night. And despite thinking it was a waste of time because I was the only one there and would be working late and virtually dropping into bed within an hour or so of getting home tonight, I even made the bed this morning, complete with ensuring that all the extraneous froo-froo pillows were in their proper place. I also took out last night’s garbage. Yes, by myself, without being prompted, or without complaining. (Fran can always smell when the garbage is more than 4 hours old and is a regular garbage taker-outer. I’m usually of the mind that you only need to take it out when it’s full. But I thought it would be a good idea to keep the kitchen smelling nice and clean.)

Tonight I’ll likely want to dust and then run the vacuum through the house.

Man, do I ever not know how to live like a bachelor any more.

But I’m not complaining. I’ve truly got it all. An incredible wife and best-friend and a most delightful and lovable child. It’s going to be a tough two weeks, is all. This week, alone at home, and next week in Pittsburgh.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Mmm, Beer

I read in the Hamilton Spectator this morning that local Hamilton brewery Lakeport has posted yet another series of increasing profits. Good for them. It’s always great to see a local company do well and overcome tremendous odds.

I must admit that I’ve always been a Molson guy, and Molson Export has long been my beer of choice. Rickard’s Red and Moosehead are also two of my regular brands. But among my top choices are two of the beers Lakeport produces: Lakeport Honey and Brava. My beer fridge currently has Heineken (one of Fran’s favourites) and Lakeport Honey. In the summertime, I usually switch over to Brava (a Mexican-style beer). And the on-tap choices at home (I have a beer fridge and tap that will take a 20 or 30 L keg) usually rotate between Canadian, Keiths, Moosehead and Rickard’s Red. Not all brews are available in the 20 or 30 L kegs.

Speaking of beer, I have to admit that one of the things I’m looking forward to during my forthcoming week in Pittsburgh is finding and trying some local brews. Sure, I can have a Bud or Coors or Miller, but I can enjoy those right now without leaving home, so why not experience something fun and local? Most cities or regions have microbreweries, and I’ve always enjoyed the “house” beer at different pubs or restaurants that are often produced by them or for them.

One of my favourites that I’ve enjoyed several times is the Olde Angel Inn Lager at The Olde Angel Inn in Niagara on the Lake, but I also recall enjoying the local brew at a pub in Collingwood as well as the wonderful sampler I had at a steakhouse with its own brewery in MidTown New York. (I can’t recall the names of either, unless I go back and check my credit card statement several years back, but I do remember enjoying the experience and the fine brews)

Okay, it’s barely 7:00 AM as I’m typing this, and already I’ve started to drool like Homer Simpson.

HNT - Bonus - At The Rogue Festival

To celebrate as a participant in "Blogging as an art form" via the Half-Nekkid Thursday at the Rogue part of the Rogue Festival, I've collected an archive of my HNT posts and also created a collage of various HNT images I've posted these past 21 weeks I've been an HNTer.

HNT = Half-Nekkid Thursday - a celebration of exposure, and a very creative example of blogging as an artform.

Click on the image below to get to my HNT archives.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

HNT - Should I Shave Or Should I Grow?

When I was sick a week or so back I didn't shave for several days, which left me with some pretty heavy stuble. I ended up shaving most of it and leaving a Van Dyke (yes, not a goatee, which is just chin hair, but a goatee plus moustache - you know, the goofy half-beard that's been very popular the past few years)

My catch-22 with facial hair, of course, is that Francine thinks I look sexy with it, but hates the prickly feeling when I kiss her. So I'm visually exciting to her, but physical repulsive.


So, you've GOT to let me know
Should I shave or should I grow?

(Darth Tater should be back next week for those Spud Wars fans out there)

Go visit Osbasso, the man with cool facial hair by clicking on the link below

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Blackberry Ringing In The Dead Of Night

I’m on call this week, which means I carry the team Blackberry (RIM) around so I can get emailed, called or paged about different system failures 24 hours a day. Every week that I am on call I can’t help but start singing the old Beatles song “Blackbird” in the back of my head, but with new lyrics.

Blackberry ringing in the dead of night
To this peaceful sleep I say goodbye
All damn night
All I really want is to sleep cozy, snug and tight

Man, I hope this week is over fast, because I’m just not satisfied with those lyrics and really want to have another song stuck in my head. Maybe a Barry Manilow tune like “I write the songs” or something (thanks Franny)