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Showing posts from 2007

"Debt" Part 4 of 4

Freddy, their Met Police contact, turned out to be both their police contact and the right underworld contact. The bar was so smoky the patrons were never sure if they were with their friends or just high-backed chairs with some listening ability. Hank focussed on his drink. He didn't want to let it sink in that he had gotten involved with Sneezly. If there was one thing you wanted to avoid, it was getting on Sneezly's radar, because once you were on it, the only way to get under it was to go six feet down. And now he was at odds with Sneezly, it wasn't as if his Debt wasn’t a problem enough. The broad and her case were bringing all sorts of trouble Hank's way, the fact that he had predicted just this situation was as comforting watching a firing squad slowly load their weapons. Across the table, Freddy wiggled . "I don't know what that is, I don't know why she would want it." "She?" Hank gave an evil eye to the blur across the table. "

"Debt" Part 3 of 4

Hank's office looked like it had gotten in a scrap with a small bulldozer; and had lost badly - several times. His only two chairs smashed to pieces, taken apart in a frenzy of overzealous discovery. The air smelled of robot oil. The expensive kind you bought for large robots with impressive strength and limited morality subroutines. A robot that might have been able to leave a dent in a magtronic arcanium shelf. Sneezly Simpernel leaned against the desk. His robot goon sat on the ground, great big robot head sized holes in the ceiling were clues as to why. Sneezly looked at Hank and Greg with large watery eyes. In another life, those eyes might have looked at you evenly while the owner of said eyes muttered irregular income declarations and forensic accounting. But this wasn't another life. Hank took a slow breath. He had many ways to play this, but only one wouldn't get him killed immediately. He met Sneezly's gaze square, "Look here Mr. Simpernel, I've done

"Debt" Part 2 of 4

The next day the info was on the Desktop, a red folder that glowed and rotated. Hank tapped it twice, the holo-display paused for a brief second then opened the folder and tiled the icons: video, documents, contract papers, audio clips. It was the usual stuff: snippets of dialogue, fuzzy videos of the object in question. It was all useful as a wiffle bat to a mafia enforcer. That was OK though, he knew a guy who worked the graveyeard at the Metro Police evidence locker. Freddy was what the human race would have looked like if we had taken a hard left early in the evolutionary tree and evolved from an overly ambitious set of raisins. He was sunken and wrinkled, and had the air of not really caring about anything. He did everything like an afterthought, Hank could almost believe Freddy didn't love the ponies as much as he did. Greg kept lookout by pretending take himself offline for internal diagnostics. In the older models, such as Greg, it was expected (particularly anything from M

"Debt" Part 1 of 4

This is going to be a post of a short story I just finished for my critique group. It's a humourous sci-fi detective noir piece involving robots. Also, it gives me a few weeks where I don't have to think about what to post. Wheee! I hope you enjoy it. She walked in, more serious than a third heart attack with more curves than the back-streets of San Fran. She had a slink; a way of moving across the room that made every Tom, Dick and Harry eye her like their lives depended on it. Hank knew she was no good, rotten, down to the core; but he also knew he hadn't had a paying client in three months and a Debt whose financer had gone from Breaking Knee-caps Mad to Dispose of Through A Woodchipper Wrathful; besides with legs like hers, discretion went out the window like last week's newspaper. This was the problem of course. Every very major problem he'd had to shoot, beg, and drive very fast away from involved exactly this sort of dame. Greg beeped awake. His dull green bo

Christmas Family Letter 2007

Hey, all four of my blog readers out there! I know you are wondering what sort of perks you can get by reloading this page every week. What exclusive content can be gleaned from this lowly blog that you just can't get from offering me some gin and a friendly punch in the arm? Well, gentle readers, this is what you get, an (anonymized) copy of the Niteowl Family Christmas Letter! All for your greedy little eyes! Now stop pestering me! (jk! pester me! pester me!I need your attention! There are like, hundreds of millions of blogs out there, so thanks for browsing this one). Another year has come and gone in the land of rain and ridiculous real estate prices, and the Smiths haven't changed too much. Sometime around May or thereabouts, we moved from the wonderful and walkable West-City to the less walkable and sort of wonderful (but much more spacious) City East. We acquired a 3 bedroom townhouse through much hand-wringing and not a few close calls. We now have a stamp-sized backyar

People You Meet on Transit #2

The Uppity There are a certain class of people who take transit who either believe that they are Too Good for Transit, or else that I'm Only Taking Transit As A Stopgap. Maybe their errari is in the shop, maybe their Jaguar car-pool is experiencing a rough patch, or maybe their job as a mortuary transcriptionist doesn't pay as much as they think. They've deigned to wallow with the masses, as it were, muck about in the public transportation system and bear it. Hey, they might have a fun story to tell at their next Thomas Pynchon Book Club meeting. There are a few tell-tale signs of the Uppity Up. The first is that their clothes costs more than all the bus-riders clothes combined. The second is that they invariably take a seat, then decide that in order to block the great unwashed from sitting next to them and bathing them in body-odour and/or the overpowering vapours of cheap gin, they take up a whole 'nother seat with their bag. Now, it might be that their bag contains

People You Meet on Transit #1

I know blogs are supposed to be about personal experiences and what not. I've tried to shy away from that, mostly because my personal experiences are as incredibly boring as you can imagine. I mean, it's life. We aren't zooming through the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. Life is life, you know, work, kids, family, COMMUTING. So, in a probably ill-fated attempt to find things to write about (see my attempts at book reviews , or thoughts of the day , or even random wikipedia entries ), I present to you, People Who Take Transit. One group that can always fill my quota for the word 'fuck' in a casual sentence are the construction workers. "So, fuck man, I was, fucking, like, doing that fucking job, right? And fucking, fuck, like, I dunno, that fucking guy just wasn't listening." "No fucking way. That's fucked." "You still having that fucking thing. That thing you were fucking talking about?" "Fuck yeah." "Alri

Random Wikipedia Article : Jiffs

Oh, you just KNOW you are running out of blog post ideas when you decide to write about a random wikipedia article. This week's article will be about Jiffs . This is apparently a perjorative term used by the British Intelligence toward the Indian National Army. I'm not sure why sides in a battle always decide to think of slang terms to 'put down' the enemy. It's not like the other side cares. It doesn't affect their ability or willingness to kill you with whatever weapon that their government has trained them in. It's a little like throwing marshmallows at the State Puff Marshmallow Man. I mean, it's kinda, oddly ironic and everything, but the Marshmallow Man doesn't really care. And isn't there that whole spiel about sticks and stones? I mean, it's one thing to use names and words that have been taboo in your community and society for generations. I can understand (even if it is still, on an intellectual level, absurd) how one might get rile

2007 Work Newsletter Article

Just submitted this for our Winter newsletter. Right on the dot at 500 words. Sweet! Written under the theme of Holiday Sustainability. For some reason, full-scale environmental Armageddon has fallen out of fashion. When I was a whipper snapper -- plunking tokens to play Tron and Elevator Action -- a scarred environmentally-collapsed wasteland featuring overpowered cars with questionable safety features was cool . Adolescent boys from my era were taught that deserts were rad, or even, awesome. From Dune to Tattoine to wherever the hell Mad Max lived, pop culture was tellings us that greenery was for silly boys who actually thought Ewoks were a good idea and not the hell-spawn debasement of all that is right and good in the world. But now, now we care about the environment. Anyone who has taken any sort of course, in well, anything, can tell you that Stuff is in limited supply; in this case, that Stuff is clean air and water. Before getting all hemp-sweatered and tie-dyed on you, l

Thought of the Day #3 : Giving up the seat

So when you're on the bus and a decrepit old crone comes aboard, shuffling along with stroller near groaning under her surplus purchase of kitty litter and tuna, it's pretty straight forward, you offer your seat. Pregnant woman, ditto. But there are times when I'm pretty well flummoxed. The almost old people. They look like they could be old... But they are fighting off aging with a large stick of denial and not a small amount of hair colouring. You watch them, they don't look around expectantly, they grab a hold of the overhead bar and hold on for dear life like everyone else. Does one offer their seat to them, thereby embarrassing them into accepting their old age, and by extension, I suppose, their closer demise to the march fo Time? Me, being the weak willed coward that I am, simply suppose that it'd be too embarrassing for me, and simply stare at the ground meaningfully. And it's always trickier when they are men. Older men are a rarity on the bus, in any

JPod Ripoff #3 eBay Myself

Item Number: 15457342 Current Bid: Error : Num must be >=0; Time left: Not enough Start Time: 08-08-1986 Ends: Sooner than you'd think History: Surprisingly short and uncomplicated. Item location: Fort Wadsworth Ships to: If price is no object, anywhere; if it is, then approximately 3 blocks away or anywhere that isn't Mumm-Ra's secret lair, whichever is closer. Seller: desperately_needing_blog_readers49038291839587243950239 Description: You are bidding on a programmer model from sometime in the 70's. Has a faulty memory unit that can't remember anything that hasn't occurred in the last 5 minutes unless it involves Transformers or is one of the many plastic figurines that had 30 minute long commercials on Saturday mornings (which were only broken up by 30 second ads for other plastic figures which had their own 30 minute long commercials; well, that and Easy-Bake Ovens). This piece was found neglected underneath a rather shoddy flight of stairs that

JPod Ripoff #2 Personal Ad for Ronald McDonald

So in the continuing saga of me pretending I'm a character in a Douglas Coupland novel, here is my latest entry. The next challenge in the book that the coworkers set for themselves is to write a personal ad to Ronald McDonald. Creepy? Yes. Alarming? Even moreso. Possible fodder for hilarity? We'll see. Ronald, I'm the man for you -- not because I'm willing to forgo my attachment to heterosexuality and overcome my terror of a clown in erotic repose in my bed -- no, I'm the man for you because of my undying devotion to you and your cow-packaging empire. Sure, you had your legions of multi-billion dollar ad agencies feed my mythology starved childhood with images of a Burger Kingdom with semi-sentient, glass wearing fries and an endearing break-and-enter specialist who could think of no better use of his nefarious talents than to steal goddamn burgers of all things. But let it be known, that I embraced said brainwa-- I mean indoctrination, wholeheartedly. I've bee

JPod Ripoff #1 Living Cartoon Profile

Name: Niteowl, the Name People Actually Use: Gin-soaked semi-coherent programmer of questionable merit; that guy, over there, you know, that guy; some intern with a surprisingly long term appointment; Old Man Smith; 30-something that still plays video games. Preferred Room Temperature: anything that doesn't result in internal hemorrhaging from the ICE crystals that are formed in my blood from the liberal application of 100% UNCUT FREON to the air ducts (which are the chief proponent of the ironically named Climate Control System (I guess Department Wide Morale Breaking System was taken)). Favourite Game: Yahtzee!! No, just kidding, I have no idea what that game is or how it's played. I think there are dice involved. I suspect it's really just a tamed down version of craps. But then I suspect all dice games are tamed down versions of craps. Except D&D. Back to the subject, favourite game? Toughy. That's like asking God who her favourite children are. I'm sure s


So my Literary Book reading of the moment is JPod, by Douglas Coupland. So far, I like it. Although I hear later on Coupland pulls a Stephen King and starts inserting himself, and that might dampen my opinion of it somewhat. But! The witty banter and entertaining email templates they send back and forth I found inspiring. I know JPod was supposed to be this really depressing dystopian group that has been caught, Kafkaesque, in the backwaters of some multinational conglomerate; but hell, it looks like they have a good time. What's most important to note is that I'll be using their email templates as fodder for this blog. Some sort of wish fulfillment on my part. Perhaps somewhere the universe will listen and plunk me into a working cubicle group just like Jpod. My current group is sort of like JPod, actually, except more penis references, and a brand of humour that can only be labelled as post 90's two-drinks-from-alcohol-poisoning-frat-boy-chic. Oh, wait, there is a link to

A Fitting End

What follows are what I hope is the somewhat entertaining email trail leading up to our spectacular defeat in the Staff Bocce semis. Yes, I'm lazy, I know. From: Larry Subject: Bocce Tournament Semis As pursuant to articles 83 through to and including III. V. a subsection K, clause 301982 of the "International Office Workers Bocce Tournament Agreement, Rules, Stipulations and Errata", I hereby officially initiate a bocce match between: John and Jane Vs. Jim and Mike This will be a single knock out match, side-bets and over under percentages are still pending from Vegas. Please keep it clean, the organizers of this bocce tournament would like to re-iterate that they do not officially condone eye-gouging, fish-hooking, or well placed elbows to the unsuspecting mid-section. The date is set for: Wednesday, September 19th, 2007 A.D. Match is to be played at: Bocce Bloodbath Pitch of Death (aka, whatever that scraggly, root infested bit of lawn is called in front of Smith Hall)


One can never have enough posts about bocce . It's a breezy, outdoorsy sport, and can get you in the good graces of not a few Italian octogenarians. Which is another thing you can never have enough of. For some reason people from the Old World seem to hold the secrets to all things 'authentic'. Large, all-encompassing ideas like 'masculinity', and 'what it means to be a man', perhaps 'the proper way to fold your formal slacks'. This generation -- and by this generation, I mean the swath of people who speak sarcasm as a first language, sincerity as a distant third, and tend to speak most of their time in permanent air quotes-- longs for things that are genuine and authentic. Maybe that's why the men of this generation love the Godfather so much. There is a code, there's honour, there's brutal killing in the name of family loyalty. What guy doesnt' want that? And so maybe that's why my work was drawn to bocce. A way to get in touch

Happy Fun Ball™

Anyone remember that SNL skit about Happy Fun Ball™, that marvellous device that was happy, fun, yet surprisingly dangerous? On the surface, everything was hunky dory. It was everything you were looking for in a toy. It brought back the collective memory of 1950's America, clean, happy, with Everything In It's Place. There were just some stipulations, addendum, and quid pro quos that one had to obey to avoid nasty, random consequences (like, say, nuclear holocaust). I firmly believe there are many Happy Fun Balls in the world. Not literally mind you (barring any that might be in possession of the darker parts of the US Government), just people that make you realize Happy Fun Ball was a very real universal metaphor. There you are, trying to appear to be enjoying yourself at the latest Adult Forced Socialization Event -- be it work or a strata meeting or Block Watch -- and suddenly you find yourself talking to a really optimistic, shiny happy bright guy. He dresses like the hippe

Absolute Write Blogchain #10

We interrupt your usual lackadaisical one post a week with a blog chain! There are many desriptions of a blog chain, but it's basically a blatant attempt to bring new readers to your blog by writing about meandering topic. I'll be riffing off of Midnight Muse's post about salmon, I think. And smoking. Oh, and produce! I think it has to be a mark of adulthood to be excited about produce. When I was a kid, and we'd go for some vacation to yet another boring landmark (with not a single arcade in sight) about some misguided explorer who had died along the way to a destination (where I'm sure he was expecting opium and cheap women, but who the plaques invariably cast as a starry eyed dreamer, bent on discovering the world for road-side diners and the more boring parts of textbooks). We'd inevitably find some long lost fruit stand. Abandoned except for a weather worn sign and a disaffected youth who oozed small-town teen resentment. My dad would stop our full sized v

A Smack Upside the Head from Reality

I'm sending out one of my short stories to try and get it published. It's a rabid field. Filled with thousands, millions of frantic typists like myself who think, because they have memorized Home Row, they are worthy to be paid for stuff they just make up between reruns of Star Trek. Sometimes I am under the deluded impression that I am special among the countless rank and file, that perhaps I can string together words just slightly better than the next bloke who can never spell 'weird' correctly and always smells of cheap cheese. This delusion, of course, comes from friends, family, and yes, even strangers. I'll pass a piece I'm working on to a family/friend, they'll read, it, and think (or only say out loud) that it is indeed, the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even the best thing since sliced pizza (which is when I know they are lying, some fibs are just too big). I'll even submit it to any sundry number of online critique forums, where, admitte

The Whispering Pitter Patter of Rain Upon the Forest's Living Leaves...

Er, not so much. We live in a semi-forest. It's a bit of a greenbelt that has a singular purpose: to conceal a veritable warren of townhouse complexes, constructed when sustainability and community-centered eco-dense living were, like, totally in man (as well as hashish, Fighting the Man, and mushrooms of the magical variety). It's pleasant to gaze at the forest, the paradise of nature at your doorstep. A deer and her fawn frolicking among the salmonberry, dew still clinging to their chestnut coats. Tall, majestic trees, giving the first hints of autumns approach. Perhaps a robin, bringing breakfast to her hungry chicks, wrinkled necks craning to the cooing of their mother. Nature is nothing if not a delicate interplay of life and death, biomass being recycled, created, life in all its forms struggling to fruition, for survival, against all odds. It's also a great place to find out how many things find you simply delectable. If it doesn't bite you, sting you, or give y

Bocce Newsletter Column

Names have been changed to protect the privacy and whatever. For best effect, please read the following the most poshest British accent you can muster. Possible a voice that could do colour commentary for both the British Open and Wimbledon. On a dreary day that washed the verve from our great city, lovers of sport held their breath. Before the day was over, blood would be shed, tears wept, and not a small part of Canadian history would be made; for on that downtrodden, rain-spattered August 10th, four warriors of athletic endeavour would clash on the field of sport. It was the 2nd round of Enrolment Services and Student Development & Services staff Bocce Tournament, and the game, was on. That day, fighting for their tournament lives, were bocce veterans Stan Smith and Mary Jones versus upstarts and virtual unknowns Sam Emery (representing the UK) and Larry Spielman. While Smith was known to be still nursing a blown rotator cuff from the 06' All Euro Cup, Jones had improved sig


I'm sure I've talked about Costco before. That megalithic testament to bulk shopping and warehouse chic. A company that single handedly brought wooden pallets and forklifts into the public eye (after languishing in storerooms and the Goldfinger's mini-base). But just in case I haven't, what about it eh? It's not like, say, Walmart; people don't have strong opinions of Costco. Either you need to buy a three years supply of almonds, or you don't. But before Walmart --blight-upon-small-towns-- gained the ire of well-meaning progressive types, Costco might have been a small blip. It ostensibly would have raised the hackles of well-paid professionals at their twice monthly cocktail parties and benefit silent auctions. It's a blight on the landscape, many would have said, it pulls people away from independent groceries and shopping centers : the supposed heart of any community. It's impersonal, corporate. It would have had had many of the same criticisms t

Couched Observations

We went to go buy a sectional a few days ago. Now that we are out in the burbs, we have enough room for furniture that is not featured in the latest dystopian sci-fi film with a good-on-paper but terrible-in-practice brainwashing authoritarian regimes and limitless seas of white people dressed in grey. Films that illuminate the unreachable spark of the human soul and how the bastions of technology and society will never breach it, nay, not in a thousand years, not in a thousand million years, and definitely not with shock troopers that have been creatively garbed using 3 gallons of white spray paint and a $57 spent at the army surplus store. In fewer words, we can now afford furniture that can fit more than two petite, overly polite exchange students. So we went to the area around town that sells furniture: it has great edifices built on the idea that industrial warehouses can be semi-attractive and not depressing at all furniture showrooms. Never mind the exposed metal rafters overhea

Geek Cred

Buying a new computer is a geek rite of passage. For the masses -- those who have no idea what a d20 is and have really no opinion on Greedo and his itchy trigger finger --it's a foreign concept. They know not the agony of buying a computer; for them, it's a simple matter of buying it from Dell. Ah, but the geek carries a heavy burden. For the geek, there are endless reviews to read. Specs and opinions, reliability ratings, benchmarks, and voltage readings. For the geek must, must find the optimum component for his computer, and cobble it together, piecemeal, a Dr. Frankenstein working in digital parts. He must give birth to the perfect PC. And it's arduous. Technology moves fast. What may have been the perfect price/performance ratio for your overclocked RAM will be worse than old if you don't move fast. Did you check up on the intermittent disk failures for that harddrive you have decided on, specifically when you video encode Bulgarian Soap Operas? Did you know that

Gore-Tex™ Does Not Do Heat

One of the things about living in BC (a province of Canada, one of ten, on the far west coast. We're like the Oregon of Canada, except more hippyish, without the high-brow Intel connections and a Nordstrom's on every block) is that the veracity of your Canadian-ness is always in question. It usually revolves around the lack of severe cold weather that plagues BC. If you haven't faced certain death from -40 C weather simply because you've missed your bus, you just ain't Canadian. So when a particularly nippy winter hits us, we always get the transplanted Ontario-an/Newfoundlander/etc roll their eyes, purse their lips, slap their short-wearing leg and say "You think this is cold? This ain't cold..", then proceed with a none too entertaining foray into the finer points of hypothermia and the futile effort to combat it with a Tim Horton's double double. There is something within the (let's face it) male psyche that yearns to undergo the greatest ha


Is there anything as bracing as hours upon days reassembling particle board furniture? Many of you might say, "Well, hell, yes. Many, many things. Almost everything in fact." I will attempt to argue the contrary ( oh look, I sort of wrote about this before ). Particleboard Assembly & Interaugmentational kNackery is a time honoured craft. While it is new, and doesn't have the panache of say, masonry, or the callus-on-the-hands down-to-earthedness of roofing, it has its charms; to wit, the Allen Key. Ah the Allen Key, simplistic hexagonal faux-screwdriver for the mechanically disinclined. A champion in a sea of hard to learn and impossible to understand 'crafstmanship' and 'professional workmanship'. A leveller, if you will, for those who would like to walk into the local Rona with pride, or at least, with a little less angst. Sure, sure, all you are doing is reapplying some European engineers assembly plans to cobble together reconstituted sawdust. But

Summer Vacation

That's where I've been all week, if any of you are at all interested in my personal life. Insofar as it contributes to some strugglingly funny anecdote or observation about life on this great spinning rock of molten iron with its wafer thin layer of biosphere. It was a nice a road trip. Down to a sleepy town on the coast in the States. A touristy town known for (predictably) its salt water taffy. Or it's plethora of video arcades, that have sadly declined over the years, and therefore have all the cutting age technology of 1998. I mean, my phone can play more advanced games. My rotary phone. Be that as it may, it was quite pretty. The ocean, miles of beach populated only by the locals, it seems, as we missed the Summer Crush of 2007 (school's still in session?). Our time at the town was marked by having greasy burgers with enough net calories to feed most of South America or the hungrier parts of Africa, and by walking down the boulevard. We also bought some cheap touri