Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Riders for My Vacation

Riders are little notes that an act will give to a venue specifying what they need. Some examples. ChrisD came up with the brilliant suggestion to write one up for myself.

  • One (1) gas station attendent who will be nearly indistinguishable from the 'squeegy kids' that hang around the Shell station, the only difference being a dull, dirty name-tag worn in an innovative part of the body.
  • Twenty-three (23) life-harrowing experiences while on the highway with the family that will make me question why we ever left the comforts of our home to visit some corporate nightmare of fibreglass cartoon animals and hazardous carnival rides .
  • Three (3) feelings of incompetence as I miss our turn-off.
  • Fifteen (15) meals at fast-food restaurants I have back home.
  • One (1) meal at 'some place local' only to be scared by their lack of ketchup and insistence on selling RC Cola.
  • Seven (7) sensations that the skin is crawling off my body due to some indiscernible 'dirtiness' in the hotel
  • One (1) air conditioner that performs as expected if it were renamed Tepid Humid Mover of Funky Air.
  • One (1) really bad sunburn in an embarrassing or disproportionate body part (e.g. on the one arm that's hanging out the driver's window, only on the left side of my neck. ankles, etcetera).
  • Eleven (11) realizations that this city is almost exactly like the city I took a vacation from. Minus the RC Cola.
  • Two (2) attempts to 'walk cool' in the shopping district of new city, only to break the illusion of coolness soon after (stumbling into a coat rack, tripping over a carpet runner, mistaking the fitting room for a washroom, etc).

Friday, February 20, 2009


Talking with a toddler is many things: it's like negotiating with a violent drunk, talking with an emotional overstrung stage actor with a 5 word vocabulary, and like having a conversation with a pathological liar who changes their mind every 1-3 seconds. One is never quite sure if what your toddler is saying has any basis in reality, or just random misfirings meant to frustrate you to no end.

"Owlet, you want some crackers?"
"No tracters!"
"ME TRACTERS! ME TRACTERS" *on the verge of tears*
"You want crackers?"
*Hand out, emphatically* "NO!"

So, communication is often on eggshells. Emotionally explosive little people with almost no vocabulary make every day a nightmare in linguistic interpretation and non-verbal communication. I mean, uh, a joy of finally 'reaching' your child and responding to their emotional and spiritual needs.

Uh huh.

What this all leads to is a deep, deep suspicion of anything and everything Owlet says. I mean, she doesn't even know what she wants, why should I? When she speaks, she might be telling me something, or she might just like the sound of the word "Super Store".

So one night, when I'm prepping her for bed, she says "OWIE", and points to her foot. Now, she said this earlier in the day, so I think, well, this isn't just a random brain firing, this is could be linked to reality. Another part of me is wary. Maybe she's just learned another technique to horse around and avoid going to bed. Maybe this is code for "Actually, I'm really quite HUNGRY". The possibilities are endless.

I pick up her foot, and look at it (I had looked at it earlier in the day, too actually, but could see nothink!). Now, under the floodlights of the bathroom, I can see she has a hangnail.


There's very few things as satisfying as cutting a hangnail off your child's toe. It's easy, it's full of mystery for the child ("WHAT DAT DADA? DAT?!" aah the nail-clipper), and you immediately take away the owie. And I find myself projecting Owlet's memories in these tiny actions. That this simple act of Dada taking away the owie will further solidify our bond, another brick in a little house we're building, one I'd like to call "Oh Please Oh Please I Hope I'm Not The Reason You're In Therapy".

I can't say I look forward to the days when she's completely verbal, when she's able to enunciate exactly what's wrong with her, in increasingly sophisticated terms, about problems that I can't begin to understand, let alone solve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Other Things That Should Come In "Fun" Sizes

Thanks to betaray for the topic.

  • caskets
  • anti-personnel mines
  • weapons grade anthrax
  • bibles
  • Nobel Prizes
  • tattoos
  • wills
  • World Tribunal Trials
  • embalming fluid
  • caltrops
  • foie gras
  • mashups
  • hydro electric dams
  • national tragedies
  • vultures

Monday, February 16, 2009

Creative Insults

You have all the wit of a lascivious sea-slug in heat.

You have a face unfit for radio.

Entire branches of science have sprouted from the study of your alarming personal hygiene and weapon-grade body-odour.

Your conversational skills are slightly better than a day seminar on Latin grammar.

The very image of naive optimism is you, buying an engagement ring.

You're like the poster child for Roe v. Wade.

Sorry for interrupting, I was just wondering how much I owe you for curing my insomnia?

My mother told me to never speak ill of people. So, let me just say you are a marvellously articulate chimp.

You make a strong case for wars of attrition.

It's not that I find you boring. It's that you are.

My friend bet me I'd never find someone who looked like a pair of donkey testicles, dangled over a raging chemical fire, then doused in brine, scrambled in horse urine, and peppered with the sweepings from a rather large state fair. He owes me twenty bucks.

I'm so sorry about your acid accident.

Well, I think it's brave, going about in public with such a heinous birth defect like that.

Just think, when your dead, Michael Jackon will pay a fortune for your corpse!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Oh, yeah, I BLOG.

The subtitle of this site, indeed, the entire domain, is a mocking of anyone who calls themselves a 'blogger'. As if the medium (RSS enabled text feeds) is of any importance. It's like a writer calling themselves a 'typist', or a 'quill and ink afficionado'. What the thell, right? I find all terms around 'blogging' as if it, in of itself, means a flying shite, to be ridiculous.

If you write, then you're a writer. But even that term I find slightly pretentious. IMHO, unless someone has paid you cash money to do write, even if it's for a series of Erotic Poetry featuring a busty elk and 27 different types of fruit flavoured chapstick, you can't really call yourself a writer.

We all think of the same thing when that heavy term is rolled out: New Hampshire, the stormy sea, a rusty functional type writer, a stuffy man in a turtleneck with workman hands and a Pall Mall hanging out the side of his lip.

A real goddamn writer. Someone with life experiences and rejection letters HE writes to the New Yorker.

We don't think about pasty desk jockeys writing their thoughts on hairballs and kitty litter and having the following things in their blog title: "Screed", "Scribblings", and the most ultimate of words ever to be included in a blog title, "Musings".

Amateur. That's what I am. I'm an amateur and this is amateur hour and I happen to post it over HTTP to website anyone with too much free time can access and read while wondering if my spellchecker really is that broken. Amateur writer is what I'd call myself, if pressed, and to be honest, even if I was pressed, I'd mention something about video gaming or something equally horrifying cocktail conversation killer and keep my eyes on my shoes.

Another thing about blogs. What is the deal with corporate blogs? Isn't the purpose of a weblog a personal account from one person? I mean, when a large corporation or institution starts a blog, they should just call it a 'recently updated PR news site'. You know?

I'm listening to Rage Against the Machine at the moment. This post might be 139% more angry than usual. My apologies.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Fiction : Clockwork Pirates Part 1

So, here is a bit of the work I'll be bringing to my class tommorrow, to be critiqued by hip 20-somethings with sharp eyes for grammar and story-arcs and other shit I heard I'm supposed to put in stories.

They are a great, smart bunch. I feel out of my depth frequently, which I suppose, is a good thing. This is my stab at Young Adult (YA) fiction. I'm not sure if it works. I'm trying to combine a China Mieville like world of steampunk with a bit of outrageous asides of Terry Pratchett. Actually, now that I type that out, I'm sure it doesn't work at all, but, come on, the deadline is tommorrow, so this is what I'm handing in. Part of it, anyways.

Chapter 1

Secret # 47 Constables always bludgeon thieves younger than 15. Kids are easy to drop, but mainly, if they aren't dealt mild brain trauma, they give one hell of a chase.
Secret #98 Constables hate chases.

They had told Will many secrets; by fires of airship yard refuse, they'd huddle and whisper their stories and Law. Dirty hands and fast fingers and eyes that missed nothing. There were some great ones, as Will remembered. Sly ones, ones that gave you an edge, ones that required grace and speed but made you a ghost.

    Many useful ones.

    And yet #47 and #98 were the only ones in his head, equally useless and terrifying. They repeated themselves like an apothecary explaining the usage of an explosively effective laxative to an old woman who had all the hearing ability of a half-eaten cucumber. Over and over again, with muted urgency.


    Will focussed his apparently useless mind on remembering the best escape route.

    Behind him the constable pounded after him, his flintlock bashing passerbys, even the ones not particularly in his way. They muttered quiet oaths. He was a big one, thought Will. A hulking mass of indiscriminate, grossly unbalanced law enforcement. The sort that didn't arrest that many criminals, since most were dead by the time he was done.

    Saved on paperwork, so, there's that.

    He grinned, if they had a bruiser like that guarding paper he knicked, he must've gotten the right one.

    He sprinted down a dead-end alley, and jumped against one wall, then kicked himself from one to the other until he stood, one leg on either wall, looking over the high barrier that blocked the end of the alley.

    The shaven ox walking disguised as a constable rounded the corner and stopped.

    "Don't even think it."

    "Too late."

    Will jumped over the end barrier and into the crisp, violent wind of the Slipstream.

Mr. Oansley's voice droned like a drugged beetle trapped in a bottle, a dead, drugged beetle. Will fought to keep his eyes open, or, failing that, ensure his head didn't hit his desk too loudly. It was an epic battle. He was pretty sure he was winning, then he realized he was dreaming about being attentive in Mr. Oansley's class.

    Ann woke him with a hard elbow to his side. Such a good lab partner.


    She kept here eyes forward, like she had not just done blunt trauma to his ribs and possibly burst his spleen. "Insightful, Will, keep it down." She whispered, which wasn't entirely necessary since their class had 30 foot ceilings. All the better to experiment; less likelihood of setting the entire Academy on fire, anyways.

    Mr. Oansley didn't seem to notice them talk. His voice made a wall of white noise, thought Will. It neither rose nor fell nor varied in pacing or inflection. A small coke fired engine might have provided as much instruction. More, even.

    "And now class, you may reveal your problem on your workbenches. You have thirty minutes to compl.."

    Will's attention drifted from Mr. Oansley. His eyes, bright, he ripped off the heavy linen sheet covering their latest project.

    Around him his classmates took chalk to their boards and scribbled furiously.

    "You already know what this is too, don't you?" Ann didn't show an ounce of annoyance, she had passed that phase months ago. She had already reached 'tired acceptance'.

    "Maybe I haven't impressed upon you how utterly devoted my mother was to making me work on clockworking. Fine motor movements, counterweights and springs and zzzzzzzzzzzzz"

    "It stands you in good stead here, I wouldn't complain, Mr. Genius."

    "Except that, you know, my childhood was utterly devoid of life ."

    "Your mother should have been born with more money, because you whine like a rich kid. Shouldn't you have a salt-of-the-earth, respectable demeanour? Hard working yet with a deep sense of common sense?"

    "I used to, but it got beaten out of me by clockworking."

    "You two seem to have this entire problem under control," said Mr. Oansley. His drone came ahead of him, like an expeditionary army of boredom.

    "Yes sir, it's the mind of an automata, small mammal based, I think." Will gave the weak smile of someone who tried desperately not to be a teacher's favourite.

    Mr. Oansley returned a small smile of surprise, as if a baboon had written the first three letters of the alphabet, but in feces, and not quite gotten "B". Even if to his classmates, Will was gifted, he apparently had a long way to go before impressing his teachers. "That's right William. A badger, in point of fact."

    Will nodded in a noncommital way, as if that would get the teacher to move on. To Will's relief, he did.

    Will dug into his pack and pulled out the sheet of paper.

    Ann raised an eyebrow. "Another lost item you've recovered in your nightly excursions?" In a blur she snapped the paper from him. Will started, damn if she didn't have the speed for work much more physical than thaumaturgy.

    "What is it? Some clockwork engineer dropped it while rushing to his shift? A wayward sheet fluttering from--" she stopped mid-sentence as she read the characters on the sheet. "Well, this is interesting."

    Her brow knitted, then she tapped the sheet excitedly, "It's from the dock. It's a listing isn't it? What's coming in? What's going out?

    "Whatever it is, it's no code I've ever seen before. I'd have to run it through an analytical engine, Ms. Janus, my teacher for Advanced Logic Theory, has access to the school Engine." She looked up at him, "you got it from the dock?"

    "Well, yeah. It was very lightly guarded, they were practically giving it away."

    She smirked at one of his most repeated jokes. He particularly enjoyed making her smile, even if he had to go to the old stand-bys. She had a way of making his insides do a few turns, like a pleasant form of food-poisoning.

    She fixed her attention back to the sheet. "It looks like a list, anyways. A lot of these markings are trans-city. We learned about them last term. A pidgin language for docks across high cities."

    "Huh." Will tried his best not to glaze over, again. How could anyone be interested in signs and language. You couldn't make an automata go with it, you couldn't power an airship. There was no language involved in making a rider cut the SlipStream better. It was a mystery to him what others found interesting.

    "So you think you'll be able to get access to the Engine?"

    She smirked, "With a little help."

He'll have the entire after-life nose deep in carrot peelers.

A little follow-up on a post I did on grafters, that fellow who sells carrot peelers, has died.

Saddest, and shortest post, to date.