Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lantern Labyrinth


We went to this event being held conjointly with the WestEnd Community Centre and the Coal Harbour Community Centre. While you immediately think of the former as having workshops like "Drag and You. Why it's not just for the Parade Route", and the and the latter having quick seminars like "Corporate Raiding : The Whys, Wherefores, and Whats In It For You", I can assure you, it was most decidely not like that. Mostly.
This being the West Coast, the largest consumer of crystal for non-china dinette purposes (only the great corporate multinational usurp this most aura cleansing heaven material as such), as well as the largest producer of a weed that justifies a multi-billion dollar prevention and incarceration complex south of the border, the Coal Harbour Community Centre didn't have so much a Christmas Installation, as a Winter Solstice Event. It was, in fact, a Labyrinth made entirely of candles.
It was something. One one hand, it made me think about how man creates sacred spaces to experience a connection with some god (or to appease his own self-delusions). Much like the cathedrals of Europe, where the space and architecture reflects divinity. On the other hand, there was the distinct impression that I was walking in this odd path bordered by 1 dollar candles set in paper bags. In a gym.
Andy, may the paper bag inhabiting candle gods of Coal Harbour Gym #2 bless her, was really struck by it. Struck enough by it to walk the entire route. I, on the other hand, was struck enough by how incredibly long the walk was one way. And how easy it was to step over the entire thing on my shortcut out. Miche, of course, decided to hang back and make derisive comments with Danny.
After we were done alternately respecting and denigrating the sacred ritual of long ago persecuted (and most probably roasted) druids of yore, we made our way to the Westend Community Centre. It was, in a word, FESTIVALE! Some sort of caribbean band playing in one room, and ice skating and a small jazz quartet in another. I'm not sure if either of the centres communicate with one another, but if they did, I imagine it'd be like this:

"Dear Coal Harbour,
Remember to have an event that is completely and utterly different from ours. Because we would like to confuse revellers as to whether this time is a festival, or a wildy imagined pagan religious holiday."

"Dear West End,
It's not pagan, it's differently religious. Don't oppress us!
PS We are considering buying out your entire centre, and selling it piece by piece to a large Hong Kong developer at a nice profit."

"Dear Coal Harbour,
Sorry about that previous email. So sorry about that. Please feel free to celebrate the inconsequential turning of seasons in whatever way best instills a sense of gravitas or whimsy, whichever you prefer."

"Dear West End,
Since this is the Holy Solstice of Renewal and Rebirth, the wholesale gutting of your complex is on hold until the major stakeholders here are back from their most sacred holiday in Barbados."

"Dear Coal Harbour,
If you take a break from the gravitas, you are warmly invited to our event. Which is sure to make your booty shake and your rump sway."

Or something like that. Or perhaps I envision the life of a Community Centre Special Events coordinator to be a bit more lively than it is.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Because I'm Too Impatient...

to wait for my literary composition correcting simians. Here is the first draft of my article for my work newsletter:

Failure. What a word. A loaded word, fraught with fear and embarassment. Whether you are an over-achieving toddler, spawn of a wall-street shark and a botoxed new york fashion maven, trying to get into the very best kindergarten; or you are a mechanic working on say, a nuclear submarine; or even if you are a delightfully whimsical brain surgeon, plying your trade, the failure is a loaded word.

We even avoid saying it. "Success challenged", "Otherly talented", "Adjusting modalities". Anything to avoid pronouncing it, like a last name that resembles an unmentionable body part.
And yet, if history has taught us anything (even though CNN argues persuasively that it has not) it's that great sucesses are usually spawned from the most appalling failures.

Take Winston Churchill. He had a little mishap called the Battle of Gallipoli, which led to the death of some 40, 000 men. Forty. Thousand. That's like taking all the runners of the Sun Run, and accidently directing them to say, Highway 1 (granted, even if they were in cars, that'd be a sketchy situation at best). That's the population of a small town: barbershop, hunting lodge, oddly popular crepe house and all. And yet he is hailed as one of the more revered leaders of Britain.

In fact, human history is littered with spectacular failures. It's only through our selective focus on the positive that we don't remember them as such. Thomas Edison, apparently, tried a thousand differnt ways to get the lightbulb to work. Now, I'm not sure about the rest of you, but if after my third try at getting something to work I'm pretty much going to put that endeavour under the "Impossible to Do" column. If I haven't taken my motivation pills that morning, the Number Of Tries Until Abandonment is closer to two.

And then there's Col. Sanders. Yes, he who -- depending on your poltical slant -- either started the most heinous trans-national multi-million dollar empire for killing chickens, or the dapper Southern gentlemen who changed the world for the better with eleven delightful herbs and spices. He apparently tried to sell his recipe to restaurants, going from city to city, and was rejected eight hundred and something times. That's a whole lotta managers telling you "No" over flapjacks and the morning rush.

Now I'm not positing that all great successes had dismal failures. But the law of averages tells me (a useful law that can be used for so many things, baseball statistics, gerrymandering, baking) that the more you try and succeed at stuff, the higher the chance you'll eventually fail. And if anything is pretty clear, its that the great successes tried many, many times.

So what does this have to do with all of you folks, sitting there, reading this delightful reborn newsletter. Well, if all goes according to plan, this letter should be out late January. Also known as the New Years Resolution Abandonment Time. When all those bright eyed idealistic Resolutions get abandoned on the Road of Life. Perhaps to fend for themselves in some Road Warrior like reality, complete with a younger, less-anti-semtic, less crazy Mel.

They are abandoned because you, at some point, failed. Experienced failure. Well the good news is that, given the law of averages, you are not alone. The bad news is that you will in all liklihood decide to wait until next New Years to give it another go. May I be so bold as to suggest you give another go sooner? Embrace failure. Try and see if you can get to 1000. I mean, where would be if the likes of Thomas Edison, Colonel Sanders, and Winston Churchill gave up? We'd all be sitting in the dark, eating bland chicken, and speaking some germanically based language. And I dont' think any of us want to live like Governor Schwarzneggar.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm SOOO Going to be Published

In a miniscule work newsletter, but still!! Here, for posterity, is one of the many emails, 'sealing the deal' if you will.

Hi ,

I'm afraid I'm not one for meetings. It's not that I hate them -- well, ok, it's because I hate them. Well, not hate them, I'm simply deficient in committee skills and/or experience which is seriously hobbled by a lack of desire to increase said skills and/or experience.

But thanks so much for the invite, as much as it struck fear into my very soul.

Looking forward to writing an article for the Enrolling Stone (it won't be about commmittees, I promise (mostly)).

Cheers!
J

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Book

I'm working on a new novel. Because editing my first one can get me down. A lot. But so far, this new book is just a shit ton of dialogue. Just endless reams of it. I hope it's entertaining, I'm never really sure if it is. But dialogue seems to be the easiest, and sometimes, when I'm really really tired, the dialogue just seems to write itself. Metric tons of TV memories of stereotypical characaters chatting away. So it's more like transcribing, actually.

The genre is still Fantasy, but a different sub genre. Because I felt humour fanatasy wasn't obscure enough and embarassing enough to talk about at cocktail parties (what is this? 1961? who goes to cocktail parties?). And I like a challenge. Writing in what are effectively dead genres is a bit of a downer. Very hard, as in impossible to find anyone who is writing in the same genre. Most folks who do fantasy that I've chatted with, are doing epic/high fantasy (think Lord of the Rings) or adolescent fantasy (harry potter). Oh well, this writing thing is just a hobby, something that I amuse myself with, so I'm not worried about the viability of the books. And sometimes, I actually believe that lie :)

I might post a snippet of one of my books sometime on the blog. But in a blatant attempt to find out how many of the 200 unique visitors or so I've had, let's get a vote of hands, via comments, on who would actually want to read a bit of either?

So, sleepy. But must. write.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Notice to Staff Re: Christmas Party

What follows is an entirely fictional email.


As the season approaches, we are all very excited about our upcoming Seasonal/Winter/Solstice/Kwanzaa/Hannukah Event! And by committee meeting and quorum vote, everyone is officially not-liable for calling it a Christmas Party!

Please note a few things to keep in mind for this year's Winter Celebration:

  • the new extended waivers are should be in your inboxes by now, please sign then and return them to the HR rep. Because of the high spirited nature of last year's party, GlobalNetWorkInterCorp will not be hosting the event. Instead, it will only be a highly coincidental grouping of all the staff from Shipping, Accounts Receivable, and Sales showing up at the same place, with drinks paid for by (again, coincidentally) your managers (managers, please fill out corresponding petty-cash requests (again, unrelated)).

  • this is not a costume party, so can those of you who wore delightful Star Treks uniforms please keep those at home.

  • the wait staff at Ye Olde Inne Bar & Grill would like to remind everyone that all spirits, while they CAN be lit afire, should not be.

  • the same staff would also like to pass on to please stop asking if the 'hourly hotel room' is available. That was under the previous management.

  • inflatable adult toys of any kind are not permitted on the premises of ye Olde Inne Bar & Grill.

  • even as a date.

  • servers are called by name, or the term "server", not "barmaid", "meadwench", or "lusty, buxomed wench of spirit serving"

  • on a related note, although the staff enjoyed the sentiment, the IT staff is reminded that medieval garb is a bit flowy, and is a fire hazard. Also that their replica Lord of the Rings weapons do tend to worry customers.

  • another reminder to the IT staff that dice, of any kind, is considered a form a gambling, and is not permitted at the bar.

  • regardless of how convincing Carl from Sr. Sales is, not everyone's scarves are a valid candidate for 'flossing'.

  • Naked Congo Line and Strip Down Limbo are NOT officially sanctioned GlobalNetWorkInterCorp office games.

  • a general notice that cock-fighting is illegal in this state, and that the bar officially denies any knowledge of any closed door rings it may or may not be rumoured to have. So GlobalNetWorkInterCorp kindly asks certain members of its staff to leave their roosters at home. Although plausible deniability dictates that they are not fighting cocks, the liklihood that the VP of Marketing just happens to have a rooster in his Audi A4 for no particular reason at all certainly stretches the spirit of the law.

  • on a related note, whlie the bar does deny any affiliation with a cock fighting club, if there were one at the premises, they surmise that the ante is set at $200, entrance fee would be raised this year to $75, and they might be setting 5 to 1 odds to any newcomers.

  • GlobalNetWorkInterCorp will not be paying for paternity tests.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stupid Evite Character Limit

Here is my reply to dawn's invite :
WTH? Dave a vegan? He better be of the joking and such. Also, super funny evite! Almost as funny as the WoW Cosplay thing you tried ot invite us all to last christmas. Except that wasn't trying to be funny. However, it did manage to be so sad it was funny.

I"m also shocked. SHOCKED that MC Hammer isn't pictured in a Hammer Card. I'm also pretty sure the phrase 'hammer' is featured in Top Gun. So you really have no excuse to have just a lame actual hammer covered in what looks to be fresh columbian white. I mean really. Heavy metal tools and blow, when has that even been a good idea (except in Scarface, that Tony, *guffaw*).

In that vein, will devans be bringing us all crisp $1000 bills as is the custom for bank employees at Xmas?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Waking up at Fo' Fitty

I'm not sure why a title in ebonics is that much funnier in ,what I call perhaps unpolitically correctly, REAL english, but there it is (why is ebonics funny to me, who lives in a part of the world where only the truly insecure highschooler, or delightfully ironic hiptser, uses it?). Waking up at Fo Fitty in the mornning is a delight. Mainly because it feels like I'm using 'free time'. Get to work at six, leave at 2:30, 3ish. Feels like getting off work early it does.
(Waking up this early also brings back those halycon days of yore when I'd wake up real super duper early to go skiing. Not a lot mind you. Never the sportsman. But enough so that everytime I wake at a demon infested, ungodly hour, like 4:50am, I remember skiing. ) Never mind that I have ot take naps as soon as I come home. I got off work at 2:30! I'm beating the system, or, more appropriately, The Man.

It's nice having the flexibility to come in early, or a bit later. There is a downside to choosing the former route though. You may know him as Pepe Le Peu, or perhaps the more germaine name of Mephitis mephitis, we in the West End know him only as That Arrogant Son Of A... Badger Like Creature. If ever there was an animal (besides human, of course) that radiated arrogance, it'd be the skunk. Espeically during the early hours, when that little guy is just waddling all over the Westend. Hanging out. Looking for food. Hoping to give some nutri-grain eating, flax-seed ingesting, wheat grass drinking early morning jogger a scare.

Many a time I've been walking to my busstop, head down, musing over something (oh alright, more or less just sleepwalking while properly attired) when a slight motion will catch my eye. And there he is, on some lawn, tail up, eyeing me with a malevolent amusement. Sometimes, he's just sort of bored, he just raises his tail halfway -- a token threat -- as I scurry obsequious and frightened, to the faaar side of the street. It does tend to take the pleasure out of the early morning. Or, early mo'nin', as it were.

Uncyclopedia Entry That Is Sure To Be Deleted: Pete

== Origins ==
Of Gaelic and Micronesian origin, the term for a flightless albino bird standing 3 meters tall which killed its prey with a prehensile tail. Specifically, it was in reference to both the bird, as well as the bird's method of killing (to pete, or peteing).
Over time, it has also taken on the following definitions, depending on the context, tone, and the speaker's preference to the colour blue:

  • flailing during a Siberian Autumnal Feast thinking that one was under the power of the hallucinogenic and sacred mushroom Halafrestum. When in fact the one has only eaten a dried up and slightly trodden upon oyster.

  • singing out of tune in jest.

  • walking.

  • a mulit-tiered, fully automated gun turret defense system that was officially designed and implemented by the Nazis late in WWII. It fell out of favour when "fully automated", meant it shot and killed everything in sight until it ran out of bullets.

  • the definitive clicking sound made by Master Lock combination locks serial numbers 840912840-8JNS83-5667 through to 840912840-8JNS83-5668.



== Current Usage ==
It has since fallen out of favour internationally, and is currently in use, and then, only sporadically, on the Pacific Coast of North America. Formally it's meaning is "to lose one's appendage to a rabid, townhouse/condo defending dog of questionable temperment". Informally it's slang to denote an undefined action taken upon an unsuspecting, if irrestibly alluring, animal.

Motherf***ing Gravitas

"A word warning, some of the images you are about to see. Are, awesome."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How To Know If You Are In A Greed Group (aka a Capitalist's Cult)


  • if your group shares anything in common with a particular Group that has aliens, volcanoes, dc-70s without propellers, and spirits that must be cleared from the soul.

  • you have a section in your seminar that specifies "This is why we are not a cult"

  • if the volunteer to paid employee ratio is greater than 2:1

  • if recruiting people is the most important goal at the end of your seminar(s)

  • if on googling the group, in addition to your corporation's site, you get hits on cult debunkers, Skeptic's Dictionary and Apologetics Index.

  • if your wikipedia page has a "The neutrality of this article is disputed." warning.

  • if your founder is a disgruntled higher up from aforementioned Group that features aliens, volcanoes, etc.

  • if your group has the nasty habit of drawing many national investigative reporting specials on your cult-like behaviour, and/or governments denounce you as a cult.

  • if you actually pay cult experts to say you are not a cult

  • if while your informing people about your group you have to say "it's not a cult"

  • if you have people who have no other training than the course itself, doing very deep and possibly damaging psychological treatment (i.e. "Tell me about the worse and most emotionally scarring thing that's happened to you and that is haunting your life righ tnow", also see, the Group That Features Aliens Etc).

  • if your group is basically selling the Coles Notes to grade 11 high school 'World Religions and Philosophy : a Primer'.

  • if you are sworn to secrecy abot these Coles notes, formally known to the group as 'technology'.

  • if you have to sign a waiver for psychological and physical damage before the seminar.

  • if bringing out fear and vulnerability is done in your 'seminar'

  • if you ever say "no one would ever have to do drugs if they knew about this!"

  • if you find yourself using very specialized language to define your life.

  • if at any time, your seminar features carefully staged and executed public humiliation.

  • if the leader of the seminar speaks in such a way that would get him slapped, slugged, or worse in public.

Breaththrough!

Mmmmmm, rackets, delicious,
formulaic, stand taking, distinguishing itself thorugh language, vicious circle avoiding, rackets.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Seasonal Dinner!

It has been my ambition to never go to an office soiree, dinner, coffee house, charade tournament or anything that falls into the purvey of the Workplace Forced Socialization Event. Mostly because I have hermetic tendencies. And also because my work never involves me saying anything to anyone. In my early years, I could go days without ever saying an actual word to anyone. It was bliss. It just seemed to me that with work that is primarily analysis and thinking and stuff, to go to some function every seasonal period to chat it up, as it were, with coworkers I don't even know, is just farcical.

But, over my many years at employment, and perhaps, in some way, due to my affinity for the sitcom "The Office", I've started attending. My work pals tell me it's all about the free meal. I don't call sitting through what seems like literally geologic eons of speeches from the higher ups we never ever interact with 'free'. The funny thing about these meals is that it kinda reveals the double life of the office. On one hand you have the higher ups, the sort of folks who go to seminars on "Vision", or "White Papers on Leadership". On the other hand, you have the folks who do the nitty gritty work. I think for the most part these two groups never meet.

Unfortunately, the higher ups -- who think these great big expansive Feyneman-esque thoughts on groups and departments and potential in the human spirit -- often feel a need to share these kernels of truth; as well as there overarching mission, which sadly includes us. For those on the ground, we are primarily concerned with the work. Well, work, and not being included in the overarching vision.

Perhaps I shouldn't include everyone in that. Perhaps there are other paper-pushers who care. Care deeply on how they can have transformative spirit work whilst doing their duties. That have daily mantras on how their contributions can further the mission statement and bring us all to some envisioned ideal. Some envisioned ideal that features fields of untapped human potential and probably a very progressive sitar soundtrack in the background. I am not those people. And I'm fairly certain the (few) people I talk to on a daily basis are not one of those people. (Maybe this is just a lie I tell myself. I'm sure one of these day's I'll stand, horrified, looking at the computer of a coworker I thought previously impervious to New Age Overarching Thought, with a bright flashing screensaver iteration through the Five Steps to Oneness and Customer Repeat Business. Or something.)

In anycase, the speeches. The endless speeches from folks who are frankly, hardwired for this sort of thing. They line up. Each one continuing their spiel with the "and just one more thing" line that many of us have swallowed hook line and sink 'er. It really is this endless parade of comments and addendums, looking back on the years and looking forward to the future. It's interminable. Like this post. Hence I'll just end it here and let you have your 'dinner' that was no doubt made a la assembly line style in what could only be very generously be called a 'kitchen'.

Some British Person Asked Me About the Run-down on Thanksgiving.

Well, back in the nether reaches of time, back when yesteryear was naught but yesterday, back when men were men, women were women, and anyone else were locked good and tight in their respective closets, Canadaland had something called ThoenkaGavin. Of Dutch and Denmarkian origin it refers to the celebration following a heroic defeat of any number of small, marauding, and disturbingly fast rodents known as the Hanckel Smithin (Hanckelious Smithinourien).

Now legend has it that the Federali Guv'mnt of yesteryear were facing a very stiff uprising of sorts from the western and praire Constitutionalities (now known as Provinces) with regards to payments owed for constructing the first Dirigible Waypointing Flare System. As back in those days, Canadaland was determined to become the foremost dirigible passage this side of India. Although the only spices we had at the time were Salt and Bacon, our nation was of the most optimistic variety, never guessing that a fashion craze for hats from large, dam building rodents would power its economy for years. Regardless, there was an uprising astirring, and with all uprisings, this one had to be appeased, put down, or possibly ridden to surprising Cinderella like unseating of the current party. Lucky for the ruling party at the time, there was only one Party (the Lumberjack party, formed mainly on the basis of having less taxes on "Beeres and Spirits That Anger the Blood").

So back to the rebellion. As Canadians were mainly fur trappers and Dirigible Flare Makers, they had built up an astounding tolerance to alcohol. This made the usual gambit of simply waylaying the monthly allotment of rye to rebellious areas cost prohibitive. It was with great relief then, that the discovery of Turkey and its charming Hookas were greeted. Unfortunately, no amount of hooka smoking would do any good, as it would be a good 3 years yet until BC Bud reached its potency and availability it has today. The almost concurrent discovery of turkey, the bird, as in eating, lead to its discovery nearly being lost. As many thought it was only a problem in punctuation, and inferred incorrectly that the same discovery was being repeated twice in the papers. But after several hamlets rich in turkey populations were found snoozing, even to the point of missing their weekly beere runs, the true ability of Turkey as a Sleeping Agent was both discovered and utilized to its full potential.

Hence the Guv'ment decreed an arbitrary day in October to be ThoenkaGavin Day. A day of eating and sleeping and hopefully not mentioning broadway musicals to Uncle Ted who was having trouble as it was landing a wife.

Years later, the Americans, on their 27th failed invasion of Canada (mostly failing since there is no actual visual difference between Really Cold America and Warm If You Like That Sort Of Thing Canada), falsely interpreted our proud, government imposed rebellion quelling holiday of ThoenkaGavin as being related* to their turkey murdering day, Thanks Giving. Even though we don't have a Plymouth Rock. Or pilgrims. Or have never had any firearms that would come close to rivalling the blunderbuss. Or that our ThoenkaGavin date was in any way near the American Thanksgiving.



* The main differences in food preparation between the Canadian ThoenkaGavin and the American Thanksgiving is bacon. And beer. In so many ways and varieties it'd literally spin your head a la Beetlejuice (isn't it weird the same actor that gave us Batman gave us some Zombie Raising Hell Born Demon?)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I don’t even see the code anymore;

I'm getting ready to send out my submission packet. Send my baby out into the big wide world to be rejectamacated. A bit light at first, just two: one to a publisher and one to an agent. I'm planning on having this baby go through about 75 or so rejections before I shelve it.

I've read the same 50 or so pages like five times already. After a while, all the jokes kinda fall flat. I don't even know what the hell I"m reading and why I'd be bothering anyone with it. Yeah, I know, angst angst, slit slit. It's kinda like video games. After a while, the neat little graphicy explosions and stuff just fade away, and all you really experience is the gameplay. I call it my Tetris theory. And if any of that made sense, congrats, you are a nerd.

After reading the same stuff over and over again, you actually sort of memorize it, and your brain just glosses over it. I think that's natures way of telling me to just send it off already. Why nature would butt her nosy little ass into my business of horrid novel writing, I have no idea. Apparently the whole Intelligent Design dunderheads aren't keeping her busy enough. I'm not sure why some neo-con political group in the US would affect an anthropomorphic metaphor for the biosphere and all the macro and micro interactions that make up what we call the Living World (not to be confused with the Unliving World, which makes for excellent fodder for zombie flicks, zombie games, and justifications of the Goth Lifestyle(tm)).

They say a writer is never done editing a book, he just abandons it. And that's what I'm doing. I can only read my own tired writing so many times. I'm itching to get a new novel started. It's also getting pretty depressing to find myself doing tons of fricking work every single time I edit. It's supposed to be LESS editing each pass. I guess I can take comfort in the idea that few of my writer heroes ever got their FIRST novel published, it was usually their second or third.

Well, the two submissions are all addressed and stuff, and ready to go. Fire in the hole, as it were.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Definition of Moxy

Telemarketer + Guy With Moxy = Hilarity

Novel Synopsis

I realize that some of have no idea what my novel is about. That's probably because I haven't told you combined with the unfortunate fact that you most likely don't have ESP. My main reasons for not talking about it was because it was mind-bogglingly silly. It still is. The more tangential reason was because I wanted to finish it first. Well, it's done (sorta).

So, without further adieu, here is my pitch:

What is the only thing that a menacingly artistic panda, a suicidally brave boy hunter, and an unconventionally gadgeteering gnome have in common? The Faire, an annual festival in the Land of Ga for just about everything.

"Dance Panda, Dance" is a mildy humourous novel written with obsequious adulation to Terry Pratchett, Michael Ende, and Douglas Adams. Set in the fantastic and wonderously absurd Land of Ga, where Cheese Pirates and Dagger Dwarves roam. It is the story of Steve, a panda, Patrick, a gnome, and Enkidu the hunter, who want, more than anything, to get to The Faire.

Edward, a Fourth Level Scroll Clerk, might put a tiny hiccup in their plans. As it's at The Faire where he hopes to start his very own violent and bloody revolution. Before The Faire is done, the pair will unwittingly be a pawn in his diabolical plan, have to thwart the plans, survive any fallout, and prove themselves to the world.

This is a story about how in losing your way, you can find true friendship, find yourself, and if you happen to help a maniacal paper pusher with visions of totalitarian rule, find the strength in yourself to stop him.

Will Edward spark the revolution his blind and ruthless ambition thirst for? Will the three travellers make it through the sometimes treacherous, other times absurd, and always wonderous Land of Ga and get to The Faire? And if they do, how will they thwart Edward's plans, save The Faire, and save themselves?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hi Todd!

Todd is this crazy guy in my office. His job is to spend a ton of time on the phone talking users through problems and apologizing for any troubles our systems are causing them. On the side, he assembles computers to sell to people. But for some reason, still considers them his. He's often saying things like "What have you done with my computer?". I think he has separation anxiety.

He also tends to love this thing called s..poooortz? Something like that. Apparently, it's like the live action role play of such outstanding games like Madden and Virtua Tennis.

That's all I'll say about him just at this moment, only because he insists I mention him. He's on the intarweb! he's FAMOUS!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm Writing a Novel

Well, I'm not writing a novel. I've written. And now I"m painstakingly editing and submitting to publishers and agents. It's exactly as exciting as it sounds. So, what does this mean in the end? What happens when Jay get's all published and stuff? Astounding fame? Dizzying fortune? A calvacade of escalades, all pimping with sick kicks and overflowing with Kristal? Almost precisely that, actually.

Let me drop some science for all you would-be novelists. Here's how it goes down. You write the novel. A whole different, cumberously titanic ball of wax altogether. It involves TONS of reading, just reading lots of different fiction, as well as books and articles on how to write. It also involves, be still my stars, gads of writing. Writing until the little letters on you keyboard are worn to nothing, and they start to look like the sinister and generic keyboards found aboard the Death Star. It involves stopping any other activity in your life (luckily for me, I'm a man of no hobbies or interests).

Then you submit to publishers and agents, hoping that the former will buy your book, and that the latter will believe in you enough to get the former to publish your book. You get rejected. Alot. JK Rowlling apparently got rejected 17 times. Stephen King used a RAILROAD SPIKE to lance his rejection slips to the wall. These are the bestest mostest sellingest authors in the whole universe. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" was rejected, hold onto your pantaloons, ONE HUNDRED and TWENTY SEVEN TIMES, over SIX years. That's dedication.

So you get rejected, over and over and over again. You get embittered. Hopefully take up some sort of substance addiction as that's all the rage. King, Hemingway, Poe, what do they all have in common? They liked the sauce!

Everyone tells you your book is either 1) lame and why do you bother? or 2) great, and why hasn't it ever been published? I'm not sure which one is going to be more painful. You trudge on. You persevere. You keep writing your second, third, etc novel.

At some point the rejection letters actually have some personlized response on top of the form rejection. You cherish these, use this to improve your writing. You keep writing.

At some point, many years from now, when all wide eyed optimism -- of a heady and easy life writing on a quirkily anachronistic typewriter at a banged up and historied desk overlooking the ocean -- has been lost. You'll get accepted. Maybe. Not for sure, not guaranteed. You might toil away and never get published. Accept it. But let's say Faeries live, Americans will start building cars that don't suck, and anime will one day have a cartoon in which a massive explosion or ninjas aren't prominent, let's just say you get published.

What happens then? For the amount of toil and time you put into your darling novel, you get paid approximately half of minimum wage. Assuming minimum wage is 7 bucks. It's basically an advance on royalties that your book will most likely never earn out. The average advance is about $5-7 grand.

I KNOW I KNOW! Where do you sign up, right? Open up Word (or Writer from Open Office if you are really cool). Put your quavering and expectant hands to the keyboard. Start writing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Top 10 Reasons to go to the Surrey Int'l Writer's Conference

So the incredibly cheery head coordinator lady has been asking for writer's to submit their top 10 reasons to go to the SiWC. I'm not sure what her sarcasm or bitterness level is. Judging by her verve and energy, I'm imaging it's quite low. So here, for all three of my readers, is my top 9 reasons to go:
  • Because throwing a huge socializing event for introverts is an act of pure optimism
  • Most expensive way to procrastinate
  • More fun being nervous and insecure together
  • Because lately, I've actually been feeling kinda optimistic about getting my book published.
  • Because I can't persuade my wife to sen me to the "Venice International Writer's Festival"
  • Because being around other people who cares about words is a treat.
  • Because hope springs eternal.
  • To prove to myself that editors are not, in fact, a Intimus 852 VS industrial cross cut paper shredde
  • To dispel the myth that agents are not, in fact, a highly sophisticated spam filter.
  • To experience the edgy, touchy, and eager competitiveness I haven't experienced since my grade six spelling bee.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Writer's Conference

So I'm at my very first Writer's Conference. Think of it as the only time when you can get a bunch of introverts together to fumble through the process of social interaction. All in order to get their work out into the world. It's a harrowing creation.

It's kind of like writing your novel all over again. In writing a novel, when you look at your peers, everyone is struggling, fighting their own personal demons, trying to get words to paper. You're in it for the long haul, it's daily battles to win the war. Everyone has a book idea to get on paper, that's the norm. At a conference, everyone has a novel written, that's the norm, and everyone is trying to get anyone to care.

At a Writer's Conference, everyone is particularly interested in telling everyone else about what they are doing. It's not any different from real life, in that respect, at least among strangers: everyone waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can talk about themselves. Not that there is anything wrong with it. But at the Writer's Conference, there is a particular desperation to it. Here are folks, who are in many respects just like you, bringing their babies (their novels, memoirs, book of small Tibetan Progressive Throat Poetry) to the butcher, more or less. Everyone is walking around literaly shimmering with the nervous energy that I imagine a first time nudist might have when joining a Colony. Terribly insecure, unsure, and waiting for the Hammer of Judgement to fall.

On the agent/editor side, you are wading through the miles and miles of dreck to get to anything you want to publish. To make things a bit worse, even if you do find something you like,you won't necessarily be able to publish it (your lineup for that sort of writing is full, your house doesn't want to do another book like that as they lost kajillions on the last one they gambled on).

And then there is the pitch, a witty spiel in which you try and sell an agent or an editor on your piece. It's somewhat absurd, as chances are, you are not going to be reading the book live to your readers. One of the editors here even said he's not fond of pitches. This makes sense. A reader doesn't read the pitch, they read the book. My personal opinion is that it's an extrovert's revenge upon the introverts. I would imagine agents (not so much editors) are extroverted people; that is, they are energized when they speak with people. Naturally, a verbal spiel with the whole song and dance is the most logical thing in the world for them. For writers, it's a mini dante's hell (I'm only vaguely aware of what dante's hell might be, but it looks clever, doesn't it?)

It's such a labrynth of unknown pitfals and alleys here at the conference. Sure there are seminars and what not, but one is never quite sure what one is supposed to get out of it. Particularly because many rules in writing are broken again and again. And then there are the millions of things one shouldn't do. Such as, don't show anyone your work. Or don't ask if you can show anyone your work, which seems like the first thing one would want to do when confronted by an armyof editors and agents.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I'm a Dad!

Trying to think of something witty to say about fatherhood that hasn't been said about a billion times in as many languages is next to impossible. It's also only really exciting to people who are close to me (who, coincidentally, are the only people who know about or read this site); and those people already know I'm a dad, like, 2 months ago.

But yes, it's great! The baby is cute, doesn't talk back, and really only has a limited number of things it could possibly want. And for now, none of those are cash money or the keys to my car. So everything is good.

For those of you not in the know, newborn babies really only have a small spectrum of expressions. It's basically discomfort; threatening to be a full out cry; full out cry; and a vague sense of contentment which is fleeting as it segues quickly into sleep.

Emotionally, I find her incredibly cute, but scientifically, I realize there are MILLIONS OF YEARS OF EVOLUTION pressuring me to find the baby cute. I don't really stand a chance. It's kind of like saying I like food when I'm hungry. We are designed to think so.

Talking about fatherhood and the baby with coworkers and friends is more tricky than most new dads would admit. On one hand, you don't want to bore those who have no interest in kids; and on the other, you don't want to come off as callous and cruel with a hint of cold-bloodedness. I usually err on the cold-bloodedness side, as of the two, I'd much rather not bore someone with the ever so cute details, trials and tribulations that fatherhood brings.

To be honest, when all you have is a newborn, I'm not even sure I can call myself a father yet. It's not like I do anything in the way of guiding and such. I help burp, clean, change diapers, and put to sleep that cute little bundle. Right now, I'm marking down my fatherhood as 'extended, live-in babysitting'. I think I'lll consider it fatherhood when my daughter has a pierced nose, enough eye-liner to sink the Titanic, listening to "music" that is "JUST NOISE DAMNIT" and slamming the door with the standard scream of "I hate you!".

Or maybe it's all fatherhood, what do I know?

I sure hope I don't go through my entire fatherhood never quite sure whether or not I'm experiencing fatherhood. I'm sure there is recursion or a tautology in there somewhere.

Friday, July 14, 2006

And Now You Know!

I'm not sure what kids these days watch. What with the electronically whiz-bang games of the video, pogs, phones with ether powered telephony, it's a topsy turvy mixed up world I say. But back when I was just knee high to a grasshopper, I'd regale/waste/vegetate/expose myself to the Hasbro-Mattel-PlayDoh marketing conglomerate during my Saturdays.

What Gen-Xer doesn't have fond memories of indoctrinating themselves with the characters and mythos of feature length cell animated commercials for toy products made in the Taiwan? Our parents comforted themselves in knowing that at the end of almost every single show, there'd be some sort of Life Lesson. Perhaps a "Stop drop and roll", "Don't talk to strangers", "Crack cocaine and crank don't mix, usually", or the always ubiquitous "Don't give into peer pressure" (in a cartoon that features all the robots emblazoned with the same symbol).

Ah, those were the heady days, the days of yesteryear, when a sasparilla and moonpies could be had for naught but a sixpence and a penny. Back when ideals were taught and ignored. Well, mostly ignored. The last example I gave was driven into my skull so many times I try to at least vaguely follow it. It's much easier now, since there really is no peer pressure in the nerd riddled world of programming and adulthood. Except perhaps the "Wouldn't it be better to come to work WITH clothes on, without drool coming down your chin, and not totally wasted?", the jury is still out on that.

So imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to show Optimus Prime and perhaps Bumblebee that indeed, I would not give into peer pressure. I would not let the Decepticon of character destruction impinge upon my right to 'be myself' (what if my true self was nothing but a sniveling sheeple of a person, happy to follow the path of least resistence? OH RIDDLE THOU ART GI JOE).

You see, for some odd reason, my work encourages non-work related activities to promote teamwork and bonding such and such. As if hacking through arcane PL_SQL and 10 layered enterprise code isn't enough. Imagine! In this case, it was that game of games, soccer, or football, or THE ONLY GAME THAT MATTERS to anyone who doesn't live in North America.

Now I had been signed up for this by a coworker of dubious moral standing. I have no doubt he has a top hat and waxes his moustache in to curls when not plotting the demise of damsels inf distress on railroad ties. Well, paragon of virtue that I am, I quickly emailed the organizer to inform him that I was not, my evil coworkers insistence notwithstanding, going to participate. Seeing my utter lack of coordination on the field of sport was not something I relished nor something I wanted to subject my fellow geeks to.

The organizer came over my cubicle and the exchange went something like this.

"So, you're not going?"
*everyone bursting from various cubicles and ceilings and the ground a la a Fraggle Rock number, or possibly a West Side Story song and dance ("When yer a nerd you're a nerd for your life, little geek roll that dice, better hope it's a 10")* "YOU"RE NOT GOING?"
This is more than stereophonic sound. This is multiphonic sound hooked up to a 8 speaker relay of questioning quizzical coworkers.
"OH COME ON, COME ON OUT!" Then numerous temptations regarding gin and such.

But the ghosts of so many Mattel inspired cartoons came to my aid. Aye, I may not have much, but I do have my own sense of anti-social tendencies. I can at least hold onto that. My ancestors didn't kill the mastodons and struggle from the cradle of Africa for me to tormented and subjected to normal human social interaction. Perhaps even some sort of cardio-vascular exercise! THE HORROR.

"No, you can just cross me off"
(See previous comment about fraggle rock).

This continued for a while until the masses got bored of my usual social aversion-ness and let me be. Oh, joy of joys. I have at last followed the wise words of that now long since forgotten writer of children's cartoons in the 80's. His life was not in vain. I shall not breathe fresh air, nor shall my neuroses be mitigated by balanced and healthy human discourse.

Optimus would be proud.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Some Assembly Required

In the Deep Pits of Anguish, somewhere outside the 7th Circle of Hell, there is a tiny workshop that creates all the instruments and devices that have enough devious crippling cruelty and torture to bear the trademark 'Made In Hell'. Oh, you know these products, even shell out your hard earned cash to wallow in suffering: Military Grade High CD Polymer Wrap, things sold on TV by D-List actors for $19.95, cellphones, all magazine covers that require more computer manipulation than all of Pixar's lovable and quirky animated features, and anything with the tiny footnote of "Some Assembly Required".

Back when Man strode the earth, toolbelt donned, perhaps a brewski in one ham fist, 'Assembly' meant going out into the forest, killing any large, well toothed and enclawed beast that might be in his way, then using his backhair to create a makeshift saw to hew down trees with trunks the size of.. tree.. trunks... Then he'd use his well callused hands to sand and finish said lumber into repectable furniture. Perhaps he played a pickup game of some really rough and semi-lethal contact sport on the way to the forest, there may or may not involve some sort of congratulatory butt touching.

Nowadays, in our Jerry Springer, Internets, eBay, eCommerce, eStrategy, New Age Super Sensitive, post Fight Club, pro Oprah days, the mere look of a tool, let alone a tool belt, is more than enough to send the average male into a flurry of blog posts and a feverish reading Chicken Soup For the Office Worker's Soul. Sure, we watch HGTV, and nod knowingly as the too hunk by far 'carpenter' (read actor who displays the work of the carpenter Ted, who's about 30 lbs too heavy and 15 years too old) shows how he dovetailed the joists with a simple rubber mallet. But the average guy only nods at these things the way he nods at the Stock Market, knowingly, and not with a large amount of fear as all the guys around him nod in seemingly complete mastery of the subject.

So when we got our nifty Staples File Cabinet. All resplendent in it's lightly hued Maple Finish (oh, luxury, thy name is High Density Particle Board (the reincarnation that all sawdust aspires to (better than being vomit cover(but then you get to see the fair, always a good time))), it looked to a simple matter. For I have delved into the darker caverns of horror that is Ikea, I've tussled with the Alan Wrench, the D-lock mechanism, even the wood peg thingy that has a name that totally does not evoke it's shape or size or usage.

But the lower denizens of aforementioned Workshop would not be cowed by my assembly prowess. True, I've honed them to such an edge that "Insert Tab B into Slot C" holds NO fear for me; nay dear Reader, not even "Tools you might need are:" holds sway to my stalwartedness. But the brevity of instructions was where the devil was. Not in the details. There was so much gluing here, insertion there, turning screws here here and here but for GODS sake not there, that at the end I felt like a very over the hill porn star in the land of paper puppets.

It was a 3.5 hour slog, of reading carefully laid out instructions that covered all of 4 pages. I hadn't felt this manly since I made an actual astute comment about some car's performance and it's power to weight ratios. Just looking at that shining example of fine craftsmanship designed by Jr. Engineer 2nd class Hammerskold and built by ESD-3919 Precision Lumber Cutting Machine Model D in Denmark was enought to put some hair on my chest. It only took me , my bare hands (along with aforementioned engineer and machine and a multinational corporation of consumer particle board furniture and cooking utensils), and a few simple tools to wrend this creation to fruition. This is what Hemingway must have felt like when he asked that solider what it was like to be in the war. Vaguely manly, a thin veneer of machoismo on a solid cardboard base of 21st Century Man.

Somewhere, Deep Pits of Anguish, in a Workshop of pure Evil, someone is twisting some Military Grade Polymer Wrap in devilish frustration.