Thursday, August 31, 2006

HNT - Darth Unmasked Out-takes

I thought I'd slap up another "out-takes" HNT, this one from what turned out to be a pretty popular series of HNT shots, with a fun little tale about a battle between myself and Darth Tater. I'd originally done a single shot of myself unmasking Darth Tater, playing on the unmasked as half-nekkid. That single shot immediately inspired a story that turned into a continuing series that I managed to stretch out for almost half a year.

As I'd mentioned last week, I've taken most of the HNT shots I've posted over the past year or so myself, without a tripod or a timer, and thus I often get a lot of out-takes where I didn't quite get the shot I was hoping for. I think I took 5 pictures for the Tater unmasked shot I finally used in THIS POST, and here are two of the ones I didn't use. (Yes, it's summer, so forgive me for posting re-runs)

In this one, I liked the shot of my hand holding the mask, and Darth's body, but the look on my face was a bit too stunned & goofy

This one I got the right look on my face, but Darth's bodyand the mask are cut-off too short

Click on the image to see either one enlarged -- the keen observer might notice my skull Yorrick on the bookshelf in the background. (Yes, a reminder that there are less than 24 hours left in the "I, Death" character auction to raise funds for literacy - you too can be killed by Peter O'Mallick's death curse with the winning bid. Current bid is only $75 Canadian. What an awesome deal for a chance to read about your own murder. Or, purchase a "friend of Peter O'Mallick" t-shirt at the Cafe Press Deathshop, and I'll donate profits from each sale to the Hamilton Literacy Council.)

Click on image link below to learn more about Osbasso's Half-Nekkid Thursday . . .


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Seize The Neighbourhood

Something that I love just as much as exploring a town or city that I've never been to before, is taking a second, third or forth look at my own city or neighbourhood to see what I've missed in my travels (which, all too often, take me quickly through somewhere without properly stopping to enjoy what's there).

In my new daily jaunt in to work, I pass through this nifty little Westdale restaurant called The Cereal House. Seems they specialize in cereal. Right on! Francine pointed it out the other morning on our ride in (yes, most of the time, Francine and Alexander drop me off for work - it's a fun part of our new morning ritual - actually seeing my family before I head off to work in the morning is a phenomenal experience for me). We're eager to check this place out, of course, and I'm now wondering, since they specialize in cereal, if there's any sort of cereal lingo I need to learn before I can frequent the place.

I mean, I'm a huge coffee lover, gotta have it gotta have it, but I'm still not cultured enough to properly use the terminology, etc required to hang out in one of those west-coast styled uppity coffee places like Moonbucks or Third Mug or whatever they're called, where it takes twenty minutes to get a coffee and you could have had a beer for the same price.

No, I'm still delighted when I discover a new Tim Hortons in Hamilton that I haven't yet been to. (We have so many that it'd likely take me two months of daily visits just to visit them all -- I'm beginning to think they breed here like bunnies) I'll have a double double please.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Don't Drink The Bum Water

I'm pretty sure that, over the years, I will offer my son loads and loads of advice about life in general, all in the name of trying to guide and support him in the decisions he'll make throughout his life.

Some of it, he might even listen to. Some of it, he might even take.

For me, while I did hear a lot of my own parents' advice, I remember ignoring a lot of it. It wasn't until after I left for University, of course, when their years of advice kicked in and started to make sense to me. I experienced that age-old phenomenon that when I went away to University, I was amazed at how much my parents learned about the world and life in those four years. It was astounding. When I was a teenager living at home, they were practically idiots who knew nothing. But they learned loads those four years I was away, and by the time I finished University, they were intelligent, wise and pretty darn cool. I'm glad I moved away so that they could have the opportunity to learn so much.

Since Alexander is so small, I haven't yet had the opportunity to offer him pearls of great wisdom such as Polonius' advice to Laertes (in Hamlet) "neither a borrower nor a lender be" (wasn't that also advice given in The Merchant of Venice? I'll have to look it up) or the advice that Robin Williams gave to his students in Dead Poet Society "carpe diem"

Mischievious baby - Alex in the bathtub at 10 months

No, instead, the advice I'm offering him of late are simple, mundane things, but pearls of wisdom nonetheless. Juicy bits such as: "Don't drink the bum water!" -- Since I can remember, he has loved playing in the water, and filling up whatever containers are handy in the bathtub with the soapy water and drinking it.

Of course, he hasn't yet listened to this advice. While the annoying blathering of his father's voice goes on in the background he drinks the bath water in an almost ritualized fashion, and with a focused concentration, the way a priest drinks the Holy wine during mass.

Maybe when he gets home from University he'll finally get it and listen to his father.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Peachy Festival

No, it wasn't another festival of sour grapes like I'd described last year, but we almost didn't head out when we woke up Saturday morning and the overcast skies were threatening rain. I was able to convince Fran that we should at least try to go out, since every year when we've gone to the Peach Festival in Winona, we've had a blast.

And a blast was had yet again. The rain held off for most of the day and the skies actually cleared up a bit, at least over the skies in Winona.

This year, Alexander tried out several different rides at the midway there, and also sampled more of the peachy delights. We didn't do as much of the craft booth shopping that we usually enjoy there, because we spent most of our times getting tickets for Alexander to go back on his favourite rides. He loved the train ride the most, particularly on his second ride when he got to sit in the engine car and ring the bell. The motorcycle ride was also a favourite. And while he longed to take a ride on the Dragon Wagon, (being tall for his age, he was okay to go onto it) -- but we saw another little guy about his size on the ride who was all grins before the ride started and then had this terrified look on his face through the whole thing -- that was the deciding factor that maybe he should try that one next year.

And for the most part, the day was filled with huge ear-to-ear grins from all three of us, and, as always, it was a little sad when it was time to go home at the end of the day. (But at least we went home with a nice basket of peaches and some delicious peach pie -- and, oh yeah, the remnants of the peach and strawberry sundaes still on our faces)

Friday, August 25, 2006

And Then There Were Eight

Pluto Denied Access To Elite Planet Club

Yesterday, after yet another hard day at work, Pluto sauntered down the street to the swanky Planet Club where it was looking forward to enjoying a few happy hour cocktails and was denied access at the door. After over 75 years of being an elite planet, Pluto was downsized to a dwarf planet due to factors such as being required to clear the neighbourhood around its orbit. (It currently crosses orbit with Neptune)

While Neptune was seen thumbing its nose at Pluto and saying "nah nah na boo boo, I'm bigger than you" Pluto tried to make light of the situation by quoting from Groucho Marx and saying: "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members."

In a related story, The Walt Disney Company has reopened official talks based on decades of debate on what exactly the lovable character Pluto is, since it's been suggested that a mouse couldn't possible have a dog for a pet.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

HNT - Naked Death Out-takes

Since I'm still in the process of the raise money for literacy character auction for my online serial thriller "I, Death" I thought I'd stick with the skull theme for this week's HNT. In this case, I offer a couple of out-takes from the original "Naked Death HNT" post from January 2006 when I started to tell the tale of Peter O'Mallick and his death curse.

Yes, most of my HNT shots I've taken myself -- sometimes tricky to do without a timer or tripod for my camera.

Click on image link below to visit Osbasso, the master of all things HNT . . .


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

News on Humble Howard

Since I've been getting a ton of hits on my blog lately regarding the firing of Humble Howard and the gang from Mix 99.9's morning program, I thought I'd offer a link to Toronto Mike's blog (Mike Boon) in which a recent interview is posted stating Mr. Howard Glassman's whereabouts as well as a link to Humble Howard's new site. Nice to see both Humble and Fred still carrying about with a great sense of humour. And maybe even a Satellite radio program? Cool.

A Blog Novel With A Twist

The first in a series of ads for the character auction that I'm doing in conjunction with Hamilton Literacy Council and The Hamilton Spectator hit newstands today.

All I can say after seeing the ad is . . . I'm stunned.

It's beautiful. And I don't just say that because it's a shot of my eye and includes the skull that Francine's grandmother sketched back in 1935 (both reflected in my eye, thanks to masterful photoshoping from my buddy Steve Gaydos, as well as on its own) -- okay, maybe that's part of why I think it's beautiful. But I'm rather impressed with the layout and presentation for the ad.

The bids close on August 31, 2006 - here's hoping we can raise some cool funds to support adult literacy efforts.

Oh yeah -- then the nervous part. Working with whoever wins to create a new, unexpected character to introduce into the storyline.

And for those following "I, Death", Peter is finally getting close to being ready to discuss the details surrounding his good buddy Jagdish's death. If you're a horror fan, it's a scene I'm sure you'll relish.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Medium, Not Extra-Small

Kudos to actress Patricia Arquette for refusing to lose weight for her role as Allison Dubois in the NBC show Medium after having gained a bit of weight while she was pregnant. She stated that if she were playing a supermodel or anorexic, then maybe, but the role she plays is the mother of three.

One of the reasons that I'm a fan of the show (besides the cool supernatural element and the great weekly mysteries) is the realistic portrayal of Dubois's family life.

A good part of the enjoyment I have with the show is the relationship Dubois has with her husband and children, and of the dymanics of the household -- two working parents trying to make ends meet, trying to raise their children and keep them safe and at the end of each day find time for each other. Sure, occasionally Dubois' work with the DA's office has her working overnight shifts or travelling far away from home, but the impact on her family is always portrayed realistically. I love that about the show. She isn't an unrealistic hero wandering off fighting crime with no consequences. Like my favourite hero, Peter Parker (Spider-Man), every action she takes to take down the bad guys often has an impact on her personal life.

So kudos to Paquette for being true to her character (and offering viewers a role model who isn't skeleton thin, but more realistically proportioned), and kudos to the show writers for keeping the show real.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nervously, He Twitched

Occasionally, I like to check the stats to see where people are coming from when they visit one of my presences on the web. I find it so interesting at how many people land on my One Hand Screaming site when searching for the term "nervous twitching" -- usually in conjunction with some other words such as "cheek nervous twitch" or "nervous twitching in arms and head"

And I feel bad about it too. I mean, I imagine that they're likely doing online medical info searches and are looking for helpful info, and there's my site, drawing them in, offering them nothing more than a dead end for their cause. (I like to think of my fiction as an enjoyable escape from reality, but I'm sure when you're looking for something purposely, it's more of a dead end).

So, to try to turn my karma around, I wanted to remind people that Nervous Twitching is a short short story of mine you can read for free online here. (As well as several other stories) See, I'm giving something away free. Good karma.

Oh, and for those people who searched and found this post due to a "nervous twitching" search -- because it's likely I inadvertently will cause this because I mentioned the term so many times -- for more info try clicking HERE for muscle cramps/twitching or HERE for nervous twitching under eye and HERE for how to deal with neurotic twitching.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I'm 37. I'm Not Old

King Arthur: Old woman!

Mark: Man!

King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle?

Mark: I'm 37.

King Arthur: What?

Mark: I'm 37. I'm not old.

King Arthur: Well I can't just call you man.

Mark: You could have called me "Mark"

King Arthur: I didn't know you were called "Mark"

Mark: Well you didn't bother to find out, did you?

King Arthur: I did say sorry about the "old woman" but from behind you looked rather . . .

Mark: What I object to is you automatically treating me like an inferior.

King Arthur: Well I am king.

Mark: Oh King, eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that then? By exploiting the workers? By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society?

That little interlude brought to you by Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Of course, I replaced "Dennis" with "Mark" purely for my own amusement.

Francine and I went in to Toronto last night for a surprise birthday party for her old college buddy, Lisa. It was Lisa's 40th birthday. We went to The Madison Avenue Pub. We had a great time. Because we'd moved several times from spot to spot and floor to floor, the pub had this "college house party" feel to it which I quite enjoyed. It reminded me at times about some of the bars down in the "market" in Ottawa and at other times like some of the places in Hess villiage in Hamilton.

I remember at one time just stopping chatting and laughing and paused to look around at the people sitting around our group of tables. I realized that I was looking at a group of people mostly in their late 30's and early 40's -- but I didn't feel 40. (Okay, I'm 37, but it's close enough). And none of them really looked 40. (Yeah, sure, I know I look 40, but none of the others really looked older than maybe late twenties). I felt pretty much the same as I did when I was 20 and doing the same sort of thing. Okay, sure, I have less hair now, and more control with my credit card, and yeah, my mind kept wandering back to Alexander, wondering if he was sleeping soundly or giving my mother-in-law any trouble.

I flashed back to being young and being at my cousin's place in Dowling at celebrating my uncle's 40th birthday. My dad was about the same age. I remember looking at the two of them, looking at my parents and thinking "man, that's really old" -- and never imagined myself at the same age hanging out in a cool pub in downtown Toronto amidst plenty of people half of my age. It's fascinating how perception changes, how when I was really young I thought 40 was ancient, but now that I'm so close to that age, it doesn't feel old at all.

I wonder if I'll still feel like that when I'm 50? God, I hope so.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

HNT - Killing To Support Literacy

Alas, poor Peter, I wrote him well.

I'd like to take the opportunity this week during the HNT festivities to announce a special charitable fund raiser that I'm taking part in.

To raise funds to support a local literacy program, I'm auctioning off the opportunity for someone to become a character in my online horror thriller "I, Death" -- The serialized tragic story of a teenager named Peter O'Mallick who is using an online journal to try to come to terms with a death curse. (The story contains scenes of horror, x-rated sex and adult language -- reader discretion is strongly advised - there, that oughta ensure a few links from the curious and dirty minded)

Simply, here's how it works. Between August 18th and 31st 2006, people can make bids by monitoring the bid total at and emailing their bid to: Full details/rules available via the Hamilton Reads News page.

The winner will be required to provide a few pieces of information about themselves, such as their first name (or nickname if they prefer) hobbies, phobias, favourite sayings, etc, and the choice of whether they'd like to be a walk-on character or be a victim of Peter O'Mallick's death curse. So based on who the winner is and what they chose and provide, I'll work them into the story. The winner will also get a personally signed copy of my horror collection One Hand Screaming and of course, a world of appreciation for helping to support literacy.

For those people interested in helping support literacy, but unable to participate in the auction, I've put a few "I, Death" branded t-shirts up for sale via Cafe Press and will donate all proceeds of sales to the Hamilton Literacy Council.

Alas, Osbasso, we HNT folks owe him well . . .


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Can't Help FALLing In Love

Francine and I love the fall season. It's one of the reasons we got married in October, after all. I'd always thought it had a lot to do with Halloween being in the fall, but it was only after further consideration that I think I know why we love it.

It came to me after reading Lorraine Sommerfeld's Motherlode column in yesterday's Hamilton Spectator, which was titled: "Autumn's knocking and I love it". (And what is it with me taking so much pleasure in reading this column? Based on the title, "Motherlode" is it supposed to be enjoyed more by Mom's than men and Dad's? Not sure, but I can't help but be drawn in by her phenomenal writing skills and be taken with the subjects she choses to write about -- in the past several years her column has been one of my favourites that I have to read every week and which Francine and I often discuss). My buddy Franny writes in a similar honest and open fashion, pulling the reader in and bringing them along for a very enjoyable and often thought-provoking ride.

So I read Lorraine's essay about enjoying the approaching fall, her memories of loving the return to school, and remembered my own thrill at returning to school each fall. As Lorraine mentions, there's the promise of new beginnings, the promise of freshness and new experiences. Ironically, the fall return to school can be seen as a type of spring (at least for nerdy types like Francine and I). I loved back to school, I loved the back to school shopping and I especially loved the new school supplies, the new books, meeting new teachers. When in her article Lorraine mentioned the sense of promise in a new box of Laurentian pencil crayons, I shouted aloud: "Yes, I know that feeling, I know that joy!" I recall the thrill of cracking open a new package of lined paper the way a hopelessly addicted smoker who has been denied a cigarette might peel the celophane off a package of cigarettes. Even walking past the skid of paper in the aisle at Wal-Mart last night I felt hopelessly drawn to it.

What can I say, I'm 100% nerd.

Last Friday at work McMaster University had it's annual welcome day for students and Titles bookstore was abuzz with parents and first year students checking out campus and preparing for the forthcoming school year. And though I love this University and love this new job and love the store and the people here, I can say that Welcome Day was, by far the best day here yet. There was an underlying excitement in the air that brought me back to my own University days, brought back that heightened thrill of "back to school" -- I think I felt 20 years younger all at once just by working the floor and helping out parents and students.

I can only imagine how energized I'm going to be come the first few weeks of September. I think I might overdose on "back to school" bliss

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who Says That Men Can't Cook?

This morning I enjoyed a new breakfast recipe. Half a bowl of Cinnamon Life mixed with half a bowl of Multi-Grain Cheerios. (I'd run out of the Life cereal and needed to top up my bowl) - the combination was actually quite yummy.
My son is actually more advanced than I when it comes to this, as he often mixes three cereals together for his own breakfast feast. Regular Cheerios, mixed with Corn Bran squares (Fran's favourite), as well as Cinnamon Life (my favourite), and he's all set.

For those out there not familiar with the recipe for making a mixed bowl of cereal, he's my secret recipe:


- 1/4 cup of Milk (Skim preferred but substitute 2%, Homo or Chocolate at your discretion)
- 1/2 cup of Life Brand cereal
- 1/2 cup of Multi-Grain Cheerios Brand cereal

Take a bowl (standard cereal sized bowl will do, but if you are really hungry, use a popcorn bowl and quadruple the quantity sizes in the ingredient list). Pour in Life Brand Cereal on one side, then pour in Cheerios on other side. Mix with hand or spoon, then pour milk on top. Let sit for approximately 1.5 minutes, then serve.

Of course, if you're adventurous, you can try mixing your own favourite brands together and have an endless series of breakfast mornings. The adventure awaits. Enjoy!

Monday, August 14, 2006

MeMe - Sudbury's Largest Erection

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.)

60. When I was really young I used to think that the Superstack in Sudbury was actually a cloud maker.

Constructed in 1972 and holding the record of the world's largest freestanding chimney (1247 feet) for almost 15 years, the Inco Superstack in Sudbury was always a dominating figure of the landscape.

Driving in to Sudbury from Levack, I remember that first turn in the highway where the stack became visible from the road -- the bend of road on Highway 144 just as you turn the corner near High Falls there's a break in the hills where the Onaping River flows and you can make out the tower in the distance (about 40 kilometres away). The stack, of course, got larger and larger in teasing glimpses as you headed in towards Sudbury on the highway that meandered around hills and rivers. When I first moved to Hamilton I remember noting a similar phenomenon with the CN Tower as you headed in on the highway and could start to spot the growing tower in the distance.

Now just take a look at the picture above and ask yourself, with the mindset of a young curious child, if it appears as if the tower is spewing out clouds. I used to imagine that there was some sort of facility that was sucking water up from a nearby resevoir and spewing the water into the atmosphere, and that was how clouds were made. I wondered if there were towers like this all over the place or if Sudbury was special in that regard. As a child, of course, my imaginings were all fantasy based, but now when I look at it I think that it might be a piece of the landscape on some artificially constructed world in a science fiction novel. Ah yes, another note to slap into a misc folder and which I might draw on as background for a sci-fi story in some future year.

Of course, as I got older, I realized that the superstack in Sudbury isn't really a cloud maker after all. I mean, that was silly of me. But of course, just reading up on the stacks lately, I realized that some significant clean-up efforts were made to reduce as much as 90% of the sulphur dioxide being spewed from the tower back in the 1990's, and so most of the exhaust from the towers now is actually water vapour.

Hmm, maybe I wasn't just a kid with a wild imagination, but some sort of visionary.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

But I Already Had A Shower Today

Last night Fran and I watched Red Eye on DVD (mmm, I'm thinking I have yet another celebrity crush, this time on Canada's own lovely Rachel McAdams) -- Kudos to Wes Craven. After decades of keeping me entertained with horror tales, he produced a fine thriller that I could watch with Francine. She really enjoyed it.

After the movie we stepped out onto the back deck to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower. It was a clear night, but the full moon (and those nasty city lights) helped diffuse most of the spectacle. It was still a fun and exciting thing to do. We reminisced about the August 14, 2003 blackout several years earlier, where we spent most of the night swimming in the pool and sitting on the deck, listening to CBC radio and enjoying the fact that there were no bright city lights blocking our view of the night sky. Yes, I know it was a disaster and caused lots of personal and financial hardships, but we'd taken the time to enjoy the peace of the moment.

It reminded me of the last time I was hunting on Manitoulin Island with my cousin and my dad, and he woke me up at about 2:30 in the morning. My father had gone outside to go to the washroom and discovered a spectacular meteor shower. Because the cabin we were staying on was far from any artificial lights, and Manitoulin itself is pretty isolated in terms of light pollution, being surrounded mostly by a great lake, it was one of the clearest night skies I have ever seen. I remember standing there on the deck with him my mouth agape, and just watching the light show with my father.

I look forward to taking Francine and Alexander camping up north, far from the city lights, to enjoy a similar sight.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

HNT - Buddies At The Beach

Last Saturday Francine and Alexander and I enjoyed a day at the beach down in Port Dover (it's about an hour drive south from Hamilton on the shores of Lake Erie). We had a blast. Here's a shot of the two of us taking a break from building mud castles to snack on an apple.

Of course after seeing some of the pictures of my pasty white skin and flabby stomach, I realized that I was contributing to what I've nicknamed "visual beach pollution" -- we all know the kind of visual pollution I'm taking about. Old guys with hairy backs in speedo's with their beer bellys hanging down to their knees paint the perfect picture of that.

I've thus resolved to continue with the jogging and weight lifting regimen that I started only after leaving my last job. And if I can keep it up, maybe on my next visit I can contribute to the beach in a visually positive fashion.

If you'd like to contribute to Half-Nekkid Thursday check out Osbasso's blog for more info


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I've Had It With Mix 99.9

When Francine and I first moved to Hamilton we started listening to a fun morning program on Mix 99.9 FM. It was the Rob Christie show, an often hilarious and fun to listen to program. We fondly looked forward to the Friday morning song (which was Todd Rundgrend's "Bang on the Drum" which went "I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day"), and of course, the Monday morning song, which was the closing song from Monty Python's Life of Brian -- "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"

Then, one day, Rob Christie was gone. A huge "first Batman movie" hype announcements were made about the upcoming new morning program, which turned out to be Carla Collins and Steve Anthony. That lasted like two weeks before it became Carla & Company. They didn't axe Mr. Anthony, just moved him to the afternoons.

Then, just when I was enjoying the daily rapport between Carla and her gang, they too disappeared. And another "first Batman movie" kind of hype occured that preceeded the Humble and Fred morning program.

I warmed up to Humble and Fred and their "we suck and that's why we're funny" approach. It seemed to be going well. Then Fred disappeared one day. Got canned (I since found his fun brand of humour via his website, which includes the often hilarious clips from his Mr. Goohead bit). The morning program turned in the Humble Howard morning show, with Judy Croon and Bingo Bob. I missed Fred but the program was pretty decent and fun. I loved the rapport between the three and looked forward to spending my mornings with them.

But alas, they're gone now too. Fired. All three of them in a "we sent our DJ's on vacation" stunt the station pulled. They were replaced by Mad Dog and Billie just this morning. We listened to the program (one of the blessed things about my new job is that I was listening to their morning program while having breakfast at home with Francine and Alexander, not alone in my car at 6:00 AM) Now, while the music was the same (every 6 months or so The Mix changes the rotation of songs, but it's basically a top forty plus another handful of top 40 songs from a few years ago -- a really short list of the same old same old, which grows old really fast -- in like about a week), the show was actually fun and amusing. Despite the fact that he stole my nickname (borrowed, of course from the wrestler Mad Dog Lefebvre) I'm sure we would get over the loss of Howard, Judy and Bob and grow to like it.

Of course, just to have the decision makers at the Mix yank them out too and recycle in some other morning crew.

But I'm getting sick of those "replace the morning crew" antics by the Mix. I mean, haven't Roger, Rick and Marlyn been the mornings hosts of CHUM for like 20 years now, and still going strong? Fran often tunes in to them and loves their stuff. So why can't the Mix executives be as loyal to their morning crew as they'd like their listeners to be to them?

I just know that I've pretty much had it with getting to love the morning show crew and then missing them when they get yanked off the air in the middle of the night without any warning.

And besides, I don't commute in to Toronto anymore, so why not listen to Hamilton's own Sunni and Hayes on K-Lite FM (they've been hosting for over 10 years now, and are quite fun to listen to -- I'm just not all that in to the light branded music they play) or to a station that plays more of my kind of rock, Y108. No, I don't know the personalities there that well, but I did listen to Y108 non-stop while working on the basement for 6 months and never got tired of the great music selection they played (yes, they even play Led Zepplin and The Who and Rush in their regular rotation - gotta love that)

So goodbye, Mix 99.9. You killed yet another morning show of people that I grew to love, so consider me a lost listener due to your fickle management of on air talent. Hello Hamilton radio stations. I'm home!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Fifty Ways To Exhaust Your Toddler

Normally, even when we're out visiting friends late, Alexander hardly ever sleeps in his car seat on the drive back home. Since he's been a very small baby, getting him to settle into sleep has been a chore. We're pretty much convinced that he's worried he's going to miss something, and so part of our nightly ritual to settle him down to sleep is to assure him that if something good happens, we'll wake him so he won't miss it.

Both Friday and Saturday, however, we learned how to properly exhaust his endless supply of energy, because at the end of both days, he wasn't in his car seat more than a few minutes before passing out from exhaustion.

Friday we spent the day at African Lion Safari, and he delighted in the sights, sounds and activities of the place (and we barely saw half of the attractions) -- his least favourite part was the actual safari tour (although he did rather enjoy the monkeys) -- and his absolute favourite was the two visits to the splash pad where he got to bomb around with the other kids. He pretty much didn't say anything other than "wheee" non stop the whole time he was running around in the water. I'm pretty sure that we'll be returning there again, and if we never get past the kids splashpad, I'm pretty sure that'd be just fine with little Mr. Man.

Saturday we drove down to Port Dover to enjoy the traditional Arbor Dogs and spend the day at the beach. It was more running around, this time, using his shovel and pail to dig in the sand and help the other kids building their sand castles. We didn't get a chance to do the other fun stuff we used to do there, browsing in the shops, etc, but we did have a blast hanging out in the sand and the sun and stopping on our way back to the car to enjoy a fun merry-go-round and some ice cream.

Because we were out and he was physically engaged for most of the two days, we ended up skipping his afternoon nap (which can run anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours). And both days, he was Mr. King of the Rubber Necks in the car seat. Of course, he did end up power-napping and was awake and itching to go before we even arrived home (Saturday, of course, we went straight to Hutch's -- it is the proper Hamilton thing to do after a day at the beach, after all)

And though he woke to run around and play and laugh and do all the typical energy-inspired activities he's known for, he did settle down to sleep both nights relatively quickly, and without any need for us to assure him we'd wake him if something good happened.

Easy enough, since he'd already participated in all the good stuff each day could hold. There wasn't anything left to miss.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Adjusting Writing Habits

For the past few days I've set my alarm to get up some time between 5 and 6 AM so I could do some writing. For the past few days I've gotten up, put on the coffee, logged onto the computer, and puttered around with all kinds of "close to writing" activites (things like browse market info on the internet, correspond with other writers, scan through my multiple quick jotted "to do" lists regarding items I'd wanted to research for fiction), but no actual writing.

Now I'm worried.

I remember a time (before 1999) when I worked in Hamilton and would either get up a few hours early before getting ready for work or stay up late or whatever, to squeeze in some writing time. I recall, fondly, when Francine was tutoring in Stoney Creek several evenings each week and I would drive her to work, stop in at a Tim Hortons and write by hand for a couple of hours before picking her up again.

When I started the commute into Toronto, it didn't take long before I turned the 1.5 hours each way into useful writing time. (Since I was already getting up at 5:15 AM to get in to Toronto for 7:30, if I'd wanted to do early morning writing at home, I'd likely need to get up at 3:30 AM) But I adjusted my writing habits and actually finished the first draft of my novel "Morning Son" within the first year of my commute. But what I think I failed to recognize was how important that 3 hours per day became to me and my writing. Sure, I didn't write every single day or consistently, but I likely squeezed a good 10 hours per week to focus on writing related activities. And when I was on a roll, having those nicely sloted times secured for writing was actually quite useful.

Part of the benefit was the seclusion -- I was stuck on the train and wanted to make the best of it, and there was no internet connection or other distractions easily at hand (except for reading or fun conversation with my GO train buddies, but I learned how to be selfish and introverted when necessary to get the writing done, and hopefully didn't offend people too often)

So I find myself having to re-educate myself on how to write, or how to properly secure writing time here at home. I know I only started yesterday morning and I should have some patience, ease back into it (because I'm sure it took me a while to originally find my groove) but I'm still a little bit nervous about it. I figure if I give myself perhaps 2 to 3 weeks of experimenting on what works best, I might just rediscover a schedule that works.

And I'm really hoping to get back into the swing of things, because I have a half-finished first draft of a novel that I've let slip for over 6 months now that I'd love to get back on track and finish for November (National Novel Writing Month) -- and, yes, I know that NaNoWriMo is intended for writers to start and finish a novel entirely within a month, but I'm going to use November, and perhaps the "essense" of so many writers focusing on their work as motivation to finish off the final 40,000 or so words necessary to complete this novel.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Just What The Doctor Ordered

It has been strange. I can't remember ever being unemployed before, but that's exactly what I am right now. I'd originally thought I'd be going directly from my old job at Indigo to my new one at McMaster University with a long weekend in between, but it actually worked out that I got a few days off in between.

It's been a strange kind of bliss.

But a long overdue time off (and not like other times I've been on vacation where I've still logged on to check email or answer questions - so far, it's been honest to goodness time off - quite unexpected, but I'm soaking it for all that it's worth)
I'm actually starting to see a part of myself that I have really missed. A more "non-Type-A" type of person who has actually relaxed and not been logged onto the internet for 18 hours a day, a person who can just sit back and enjoy life, enjoy spending fun family time, enjoy reading on the back deck, enjoy being a couch potato, and not stressing. Fran and I even went jogging a couple of mornings - 3 K the first day and 3.5 the second. (Okay, not back up to 5+ K, but I'll be there soon enough)

I like rediscovering this old Mark.

Though a huge part of me longs for a nice mini-marathon session of writing -- I'm already planning how I'm going to reorganize my schedule so I can ensure I get in at least 2 to 3 solid "writing" periods per week -- should be easier to do now that I won't be spending 3 hours per day commuting. (Okay, so I still have a few "Type-A" tendencies for my writing. I'm pretty sure that will never die, so why fight it? But ironically, sometimes I do my best writing when I've put it aside for a week or so and just do other things -- it's good to let my mind wander seemingly aimlessly and then come back to my writing full force)

HNT - Made In Hamilton

I'm enjoying a little bit of time off between jobs. Yeah, I know the heat is a killer, but I've actually been enjoying it. Kicking back, spending time with the family, reading, laughing, floating around the pool and enjoying a beer or (speaking of heat) enjoying watching Francine float around with a beer logo on her arm.

Francine and Brava - both delicious and both made in Hamilton

I pulled this photo out of my archives from a few summers ago. I'd been sitting and drinking Brava while watching my gorgeous wife float around the pool when the idea hit me. She humoured me by letting me stick the beer label onto her arm and then taking a few shots. I had this thought of a billboard campaign to help sell Brava, which is brewed by Hamilton's own Lakeport. But like the dozens of ideas that fling through my head daily, I never followed up on it.

More proof that the average writer doesn't need any more ideas, just time to work on them, dammit. Or proof that sometimes it's okay to just sit back, relax, enjoy a sight that's pleasing on the eye, and not work.

Wanna get Nekkid? Check out Osbasso's blog for more info about HNT