Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Fleeting 15 Minutes of Game

I got burnt out there for a while. I know people who keep much more punishing schedules than I do, but writing and other creative pursuits... it is hard to simply tighten your schedule and keep going when you have extra work to do. Sure, the work tends to expand to fill the deadline - and beyond, at times - but just cramming in more deadlines might work for more logistical tasks but not so much for creative ones.

For instance, I imagine being the president of the United States is a very busy job. He (and not she) gets by on very little sleep. If something else needs to get done, well then Mrs. Landingham simply squeezes in an extra 15 minutes. You can't do the same thing with writing - at least, not with any expectation of actually producing something worth reading. There are certain limits you come up against in terms of inspiration, energy and time management. I learned the hard way you can't just say, "Oh, another project at the same time? I'll just add another 15 minutes to my day to do it." Nope. Sometimes it takes longer than those 15 minutes. And besides, that cuts severely into my video game schedule.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

There's a market there; don't get me started on the 12 steps

I was talking to my buddy the other day about the ongoing economic melt down in the US.

He pointed out that basically what happened was that people were selling the fact that a large percentage of the US population had no money.

Think about this for a second. Anytime there's a steady supply of something, someone is going to find a way to sell it. Our entire society is built on oil, not because of some kind of conspiracy or swindle, nor is it a result of not caring about the environment (all of which only makes sense if you're looking at history through the warped mirror of hindsight) but we make everything - big E everything - from oil for the sole reason there was so much of it, and for a hundred years it was cheaper than dirt. And I know this through my exhaustive research. They sell soil outside my Loblaws and it looks expensive.

So now for the past ten years or so, in the US there has been more and more poor people clinging to the idea of a middle class lifestyle. That means a mortgage and planning to spend most of your life paying for your home and yard. As people became less and less able to pay for this "rest of your life" lifestyle, finanacial institutions began to cater to this growing market, by accepting their debt and then turning around and selling it. A large amount of wealth was created - billions of dollars - by selling the fact that people had no money.

Anytime you have a supply of something, someone will find a way to make money off of it. Or otherwise exploit it.

A desperate hunger for a moment of celebrity? Reality shows.

A fear of "the other?" Neo-conservatives.

Trees in Canada? The British Empire. (I kid you not. Ask me about it sometime.)

A need for creative validation? Screenwriting contests and self-publishing.

Love? Celebrity perfumes.

Self destructive behaviour? The big L Liberal Party of Canada. (Hey, Stephan Dion. Do you cut?)

Vanity and narcissism? Facebook and meaningless, rambling blogs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Uh oh... get ready to yell at me.

Now, I don't want you to think that I'm not some anarchist, or some kind of beer swilling dope who thinks that all politicians are the same and there's no point voting.

But here's thing (and often people end up yelling at me when I bring up politics) there's an election going on both here in Soviet Canuckistan and down in the land of the freedom fries. And they are both being framed as good, ordinary folks vs. artsy and brainy elites.

Especiallly in Canada, where we don't have an Obama to rally the liberals - in our case the actual big L liberals.

That's something that gets said a lot in Canada. Big L Liberals and Big C Conservatives, to distinguish the parties from the ideology. I'm just not sure if that's big I ideology or not.

Our artistic community is up in arms because the current government, led by a zombie we call Steve, is looking to gain votes by slashing arts funding. We absolutely pour billions of dollars into the arts, which encompasses everything from a guy masturbating under bleachers to a TV show airing on CBS. Neither of those two things strikes me as needed much in the way of government funding. A - can't one of the bigest, richest TV broadcasters in the world make a TV show without the Canadian government ponying up, and B - how much does it cost to masturbate?

But there are plenty of much more deserving projects that get funding from many different levels - municipal, provincial and federal. Being an artists in Canada is so much easier than it is in the states, due entirely to government funding. I think government funding creates a system predisposed to art aimed solely at other artists, but that's another blog post for you to get angry about.

Here's my point. We in the self identified artists community shouldn't think that we have to somehow convince every farmer or every pot grower that we should get more government money. We shouldn't make it our mission to put Paul Gross in front of a camera everytime someone suggests slowing the cultural bribe.

Cause let's be honset with oufselves. That's what we're talking about. Big L Liberals (remember them?) use arts funding to get artsy types to vote for them. And it works. Big C Conservatives, however, do things a little smarter. They take money from artists to get quote-unquote plain folk to vote for them, and give their bribe money to rich people and corporations and get them to vote for them.

All that plus Alberta. If they don't get a majority this time, they must really be as dumb as us small L liberals think they are.

I often fall back on a simple phrase when I talk about Canadian creative types, and it applies here. If we want people to get worked up about losing cultural funding, we have simply got to make our stuff better. Stop complaining about how much we contri ute to the economy. Stop whining that American movies are going to one city rather than another. Stop patting ourselves on the back everytime someone turns on a camera.

We have to do better.

Because, trust me, the better we make our art, the more quote-unquote plain folk will give a shit.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Blog Like Me

If you think about it, blogging is the absolute height of vanity.

It's not quite so bad if you have some sort of beat - that is, your blog is journalistic or informative in nature. It's vain, sure, but not as vain.

The absolute limits of vanity is a blog like this one, where I'm not adding anything to your daily lives. [add here your own personal list of different ways to say nothing. Hint: start with 'zip.']

There are two internets out there right now. There's the one that we all know and love, full of useful (ha ha!) information and an ease to find that information. Keywords... page rank... back links... what have you. This is the information internet.

Then there's another internet all together. It's new. It isn't about information, useful or otherwise. It doesn't work the same way with keywords and all that other stuff. It is the entertainment internet.

Think about it for a second. How do you find what you're looking for online? You pull up Google and type in a few keywords. How do you decide what movie to go see, or what book to read, or what music to listen to? Do you type "funny, date movie, boobs, teary reconciliation, pot smoking" into Google and watch whatever movie comes up?

Come to think of it, that's not a bad collection of concepts. I think I'll write that movie. Make a million.

More and more people turn to he internet for their entertainment, but will they find what they want to find? This blog, in particular, is almost impossible to stumble upon because it doesn't follow the rules that Google uses to determine the quality of the information it provides. This blog is pure entertainment in the sense that I don't think you'll learn a single thing by reading it, except what a jerk I am. Maybe I should make that my keyword?

The way the internet works now is going to have to change fundamentally in order to make it easier and better for people to be entertained. How? I'm not exactly sure.

In the meantime, how about you tell your friends about this blog!

Monday, September 22, 2008

One of those moments...

You ever had one of those moments when someone says something more or less off hand, but it makes you stop and think about something you never did before?

I know people dealing with me have never had those moments. I don't say anything off hand. In fact, I can be pretty direct, and I think I have a tendency to make people defensive.

The other day Mike down the corner was making me a coffee and asked me how my day was. I gave the usual, "Oh, I'm exhausted, and in the middle of ten projects, all of which have to be done right now..."

And he said, over his shoulder as he tamped the espresso, "You ever have a day that's just... yeah! All right!"

And I stood there with my mouth open. I asked myself, how many good days recently can I count? I'm so busy and burnt out, to me a great day is when I get half of what I need to get done before 10 at night. Like treading water is the best I can hope for.

It was just one of those moments, when you start to look at yourself in a different way.

I'd like to find more days that are, "Yeah!" Maybe I'm just not that type of person?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Probably the Worst Yet

It's a little depressing when I look back at my postings. The intention is to do one post every day. The most I have ever managed has been 16.

16? One every second day? And that's at my best. In August I posted exactly once. I suppose I should be glad I posted at all in August. Yep, that's right. Look on the bright side.

And a whole bunch of those sporadic posts have been god awful. But here, I am, writing a post about how I don't post enough. This has easily got to be the worst post I have ever done. At least there's no where to go but up. Bright side... bright side... bright side...

My very good friend, mentor and writing guru likes to compare being a writer to being a musician. He likes to say, "If you skip practicing one day, you notice. If you skip two days, the band notices. If you skip three, everyone notices." Hard to see a bright side there. I wonder how this idea applied to Sid Vicious, whose live performances are notably for the fact that Johnny Rotten used to actually turn off his amp so the crowd couldn't hear him slowly strangle yet another bass guitar. Maybe with him it was, "You skip being a dickhead one day..."

I guess if you want to do anything well, you have to practice.

See? This post couldn't even stay on any one topic. Rambling mess.

Worse post ever.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All About Nothing

Ah... I got nothing today.

Enjoy the sun!

Or, whatever your local weather/time of day happens to be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The "Push" Society

At what point do we have enough celebrities?

There's been a number of seemingly random things on my mind lately, but at the end of the day it comes down to this...

PR companies control the world.

As the media works with less and less time and resources, and under more and more deadlines (think constant real time blogging) you have to ask yourself, where do the stories they cover come from?

My fiancee recently an article in either the New Yorker and New York Magazine, I get them confused. It was about the "new" up and coming comedians. And so it had people on the cover that you've probably seen on Saturday Night Live and in bit parts in movies by ex-SNLers. Here's my thing, how did they find these "new" faces? Did they scour the comedy clubs and hold auditions? Or did they announce to agents, manager and PR types they were doing this, get flooded with headshots wrapped in chocolates and booze, and pick the most famous of the batch?

I don't think I'm media bashing. Journalists are just you and me with a certain job. What I'm questioning is, who does the leg work? Its like politicians who only listen to lobbyists - its a lot easier to do a very, very difficult job when someone else hands you an idea ready to market. A journalist who has constant deadlines all day long, limited resources, and bosses with no desire for them to be out of the office chasing down a hint of a story when they can slap a celebrity on the cover and sell some dead trees. Especially when those celebrities not only have a certain attraction to people, but they have a huge PR machine behind them trying to grow that attraction.

Contrast that to "internet celebrities." Every now and then you'll see a news story about an online hit, about how everyone is watching and downloading, and then you'll never hear about that person again. Why is that?

First of all, internet celebrities are a genre of news stories all to themselves. The idea of being a hit on the internet still has a cache of being hip - you know something that the unhip at work have never heard of. Plus, it plays nationally, even internationally, whereas a really great local band in Calgary won't interest anyone in Boston.

And second of all, you'll never hear of them again because there's no PR company picking up the phone and pitching a new angle to the journalist. No new angle - it ain't news, honey.

Now Saturday Night Live - they got all kinds of PR muscle behind them.

And me? All I got is a blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Screenplay Question

Dear Long Dark White Board,

I am working on a screenplay that I intend on selling to Steven Spielberg. I am aiming for a seven figure deal, but I would accept anything down to a polite handshake. It is a small, indy character piece set half in 1887 and half in 3143. I won't spoil it by telling you which half is which. Lol. I'm pitching it as Air Force One meets Snakes on a Plane, with a twist - the snakes are the president. It stars Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie, Ben Stiller and my wife, who is taking singing lessons for the role.

Here's the background to my problem: I know that by page 25 my main character must turn his or her back on their quest, only to find there was no returning from the magic kingdom by mid way down page 26. (As I'm sure you can tell, I'm not someone new to screenwriting. I have started 16 screenplays in the last month.) But I have four mcs (main characters). How do I structure that, while still having my theme reveal itself on the third line of 31? What I am doing is I have been writing my movie as four separate scripts, (so 4 page 25s, 4 page 31s, etc). I keep each character's dialogue and actions to their own screenplay. So far this is working. My wife gets confused when there is dialogue that she's not supposed to say out loud.

My question is, when I publish my screenplay for future film students and aspiring studio executives to study, should I bind them separately, or as one volume?



P.S. Tom Hanks and Ben Stiller are on my wife's "Celebrity List" and Angie is on mine. So no worries there!!!!!!!!! Lol.

Dear Fred,

First of all, great job in describing your screenplay so effectively! I can "see" Tom Hanks in the role. And that twist - I totally did not see that coming! (Remember, don't reveal the twist until page 72 for maximum "Wow!" Audiences have shown they don't like twists that come any earlier than page 71. Unless you're doing a reverse Red Riding Hood plot in a puppet comedy genre. Then you'll definitely want to put it on page 6.)

For the answer to your question, I suggest you pick up my latest screenwriting book, "What to Put on What Page When, 4th ed." In fact, I suggest you buy five or six, just in case you lose the others. Be careful, if you don't follow my instructions closely, not only will your movie never get made, but audiences will storm out of the theater in disgust and most likely hunt you down for making them watch a movie where things happened on the wrong pages.

Oh, and best of luck on your "Celebrity List." The wife and I recently extended ours to include over a thousand names each! Remember, it's not cheating if it's a famous person on a list!

All the best,

Long, Dark White Board

Monday, September 15, 2008

Da Big Man. Me.

More and more in my life I find myself being in charge.

Yep, all we need is a plague of locusts and we got ourselves a real, down home, old fashioned apocalypse.

Here's a tangent before I even get going; did you know there's a significant portion of the US population who are actively waiting for the end times of Revelation? And I thought being stood up for a blind date was bad. Ba-boom ching!

Anyway, in various aspects of what I do, I am in charge. I am self identified in this blog as a writer, so some people reading this might be confused. Not those who will read it any time soon, because you both know exactly what it is I do. But maybe someone reading in the far future. Or, possibly, aliens. Or, remotely, Vancouverites. In most people's minds, a writer is not a leader of men. A writer is not a captain of industry, or a long suffering, but well meaning middle manager. A writer is a solitary figure, sitting along at an old timey typewriter, watching as it turns into an insect.

Sorry, I David Cronenberged for a second. Did I get any on you?

In the type of stuff I do, I often work with other people - mainly other writers, but also with other types who work hard day and night to realize the things that I "write," and by write I mean things that end up in my word doc after I drop a bowling ball on my keyboard. The suckers.

While I consider myself to be pretty good at what I do, I'm not sure I'm a natural boss. You see, I have had very few bosses in my life - way less, I'm sure, than your average bear. And the few bosses I have had aren't really great role models. There was the KFC manager who was stealing the from the cleaning fund, who had me come in at 10 one morning, handed me a well worn J cloth and a greasy bucket and said, "Clean everything by noon. Ceilings, floors, fryers, everything." And then there was the telemarketing boss who'd get all coked up and yell at us. Or the other telemarketing boss who spent all day creating and maintaining a roster of fake employees and pocketing their pay cheques. There was the washed up, drunk, B movie director who called me, "A waste of time." Oh, and I have to mention my boss on my first professional writing gig whose managerial style was limited to a single email, "Helllllllooooooooooo!? I wouldn't keep me waiting." (You can't blame him for not being more hands on - he was living in three houses at the time. You ever try to live in more than one place at once? It's exhausting.)

I could go on, but let's summarize. I've had some bad bosses.

So when it comes to being the boss myself, I don't have very much in the way of a positive role model. I just try to govern as I myself would like to be governed. Basically, I try to function on a simple principal - that some day, those who I'm in charge of now will be in charge of someone else. They may even still be working for me as I move up the ladder. While I'm very conscious of the work that needs to get done, I'm also trying to let people discover things on their own. After all, the more work they can do unsupervised, the less work for me! And all that other stuff about building for the future.

I'm only just starting in my career, and I have a lot to learn. I'm grateful for the chance to test the waters of being responsible of the work of other people in (thus far) arenas where it is not life or death.

What's that? Life or death, you ask? Surely, such hyperbole belongs to the realm of soldiers and hunky, blonde, ripped paramedics?

Nope. Writing is a blood sport. Now get back to work!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being Disciplined. Oh my!

No, this isn't what you think.

All the S&M stuff is strictly reserved for my other blog. Written under the nom du plume of Mistress Canukica. If you meet someone with a maple leaf shaped burn on them - they belong to me.

Totally kidding, mom!

When I tell people I'm a writer, I often get two or three of the same responses. I have realized lately that most people only talk for the feeling of being socially connected. I call this Monkey Noises. You're not actually trying to communicate much of anything, just developing that feeling of being part of the same herd. Like monkeys calling out to each other. The responses I get to the information that I'm a writer often fall into the category.

I'm glad to say that I rarely get, "No, I mean what do you do to make money." I guess people can sniff out the air of the struggling, aspiring syndrome. Currently, my SAS is in remission, but we are monitoring the situation closely. Now what I get most often is, "You must be very disciplined."

I often give them what must be a weird look and talk about how disciplined my fiancee is. She's also a writer, and she gets more accomplished in a day than all of France. (Those four day work week lefties!) The truth is I'm not very disciplined in my life. In fact, probably part of the reason I'm a writer is because I couldn't stand anything with much more structure to it.

I'm learning the hard way that you really need to be as disciplined as possible.

The past two weeks or so I've been kinda forced to get up as early as possible (a struggle for me) and buckle down and actually get to work as soon as possible. Working with other people who are an hour and a half ahead of you demands nothing less.

(Did you know Newfoundland is the only place with a half hour time zone?)

The upside is the sheer amount of work I get done in a day. It's been a shock. I've known for a long time that my work habits weren't the best for productivity, but I always managed to cramp in all the things I absolutely needed to get done in a day. Consequently, anything that I only sorta needed to do kept piling up on my To Do list.

For the past two weeks, I have not only kept up with my currently paying work, but I have done the other stuff I absolutely needed and I am now working on my sorta needed. I gotta tell you, it feels awesome.

And in conclusion, being disciplined does wonders for clearing the back log on the To Do list - including a new post on Mistress Canukica's Maple Dungeon News.

Totally kidding, mom.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The whole "raising tide" proverb doesn't apply to floods.

They say that a rising tide floats all boats. The idea is, what improves one person's lot in life often can improve everyone's.

Well, that could be true, but only up to point. If that tide rises too fast, we're all screwed. Just ask the people of New Orleans how they feel about rising water.

Or, on second thought, don't. They'll probably punch you and then come looking for me. Cause I'm pretty sure you'd rat me out in a heartbeat.

Anyway, I don't really want to talk about tides. Boring! What I do want to talk about is email. I know, already you're sitting forward eagerly awaiting a good email talk. Here at LDWBotM, we're all about the 'lean in' experience.

I was on the street car the other day and I heard a woman complain that often she'll get a reply to her email that makes it clear that they skimmed her message, but didn't actually pay any attention to what she was saying.

Hands up everyone who feels the same way. (This works better in a room full of people, who then look at all the hands in the air, amazed that the speaker was so astute. As, I'm sure, you feel about me.)

Most people will tell you this is a function of people busily multitasking and rushing through things in a mild, continuous state of panic. (Much in the same way I make love.) And that's probably a part of it, sure. But it made me think of something else...

It made me think about literacy. Not the "See Jane Run" type of literacy, that's the basic stuff. I'm thinking of a higher form of literacy, where the reader is able to digest not only the text, but subtleties like tone, allegory, subtext, and the writer's intentions. And the writer, too, at a higher state of literacy, is able to better communicate those things.

Suddenly email has transformed every single person with a computer into a full time correspondent, either professionally at work, or as an at home amateur. There's hardly a job now worth having that doesn't involve writing and receiving multiple emails in a day. And who says we're any good at writing and reading them?

Maybe the reason that people can't retain any information in an email that's not bolded and in bullet points (and pointed out in a reply) is not only a factor of our busy, fractured mental spaces, but the plain, ugly truth that we're not very good at this higher level of literacy - at communicating and understanding at the level required in a good email.

Now, I don't want you to think I'm some kind of campaigning purist of language. Language, especially the English language, is in a constant state of becoming. It is always transforming, and despite what your grade three English teacher told you, there are no absolutes, no rules. There is no right or wrong in language, because language only exists if two or more people agree on a meaning. The word car only works if the person I'm communicating with shares the same idea of what car means. Spelling changes, meanings change; car could mean anything - the point of slang is that it is a non-traditional use of language shared by a distinct community. And all of this change and diversity makes languages stronger. So I'm not here to put a hate on txts and emoticons, okay? :)

The more we rely on the written word as a society, the more this higher level of literacy comes into play. There are some people (I suggest many, many people) who just don't have the reading and writing skills to truly communicate effectively in email, no matter how relaxed or unhurried they are when they read it.

Our lives are being flooded with email, and some boats just can't rise fast enough to keep up.

Did you see that? Huh? I ended it by referring back to my opening image. Basically, I rock.

Oh, sorry about the New Orleans thing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stories of my Death and other Exagerations

Waddya at!?

That's how they say hello in Newfoundland!

I view this blog as a I would a child, something to care for and nourish and love and see blossom into its full potential.

Good thing it isn't really a child. Can babies go for a month without eating? I'm no baby expert, but I don't think so. In fact, in my neighbourhood, they can't go four days without a meal at a restaurant. Here's a tip to parents, you may have grown deaf to your baby's screams of displeasure, but they ain't making me enjoy my lamb souvlaki any more. And a tip to babies, it only gets worse from here on in for you, so work harder at enjoying these years of being fed and carried and someone you love carting away your poo.

Anyway, back to me. Yes, I'm a bad blog owner. I'm not sure how of a surprise that might be to my regular readers. Both of you.

In my defense, I've been very lazy. And in Newfoundland.

Monday, August 4, 2008

It's a trick!

I recently finished a pretty fun book called "Service Included" by Phoebe Damrosch.

I'm going to be taking a story from the book, which may be illegal I'm not really sure what the rules are. So anyway, I figure it only fair to relax my own rules about linking and recommend you pick it up.

Amazon Page for Service Included

In the book she tells a story of a little encounter between her and a couple that are regulars at the restaurant. I'm not quoting, I'm paraphrasing, but here's the story.

The couple were having dessert, and the server heard the man say to his wife, "This is better than pot." The server thought this was very bold and open of the man, so she asked him, "Oh, do you indulge?"

The couple smiled to themselves and answered, somewhat conspiratorially, "Yes, a few times a week."

The server thought this was great; here was a couple that looked like your average suburban dwellers, she keeping house, he commuting to an anonymous job in the city, and they are smoking a big fatty while they relax at home. The server told them how impressed she was at their relevation, how she was brought up by hippies in Vermont, about how she didn't think pot was anything people should be afraid or ashamed of...

That's when, with a confused look on his face, the man interrupted her and said, "No, I said it was better than pie."

Now, I happen to like this story quite a bit, but what interests me about it is that it is a very sophisticated story that needs to be told just right to hit your laugh line.

Look back at the story again. At a certain key point in the telling, you almost have to lie to your listener. A more factual way to tell the story would be to say, "she thought she heard him say, "Better than pot." But, of course, then you're telegraphing the joke. But to say it in a way that's more definite, "He said," then you're risking creating confusion when you hit the punchline.

It requires a verbal slight of hand. It's like a magic trick. By taking on her point of view and saying, "She heard" you're creating an ambiguity that gets paid off.

This story is kind of a perfect example of good structure. You're got a beginning, a middle and a end. You've got a conflict - the idea of these suburban middle of the road people doing something we identify as counter culture.

And it also fits in with me steadily developing theory of comedy. When we laugh, it is an instictuve sound of belonging. Laughing means, "I agree." Humour is something we as a species have grafted on top. While a joke can be funny for many, many different reasons, in the end I strongly believe that are two parts to a joke.

One is the expectation that something funny is about to happen. Two is the pay off, which is best if it satisfies the expectation in a totally unexpected way.

In this story, we are primed for the punch line through the verbal slight of hand, the ambiguity of "she heard." As well as the titillation of talking about drug use. And the pay off is, of course, that we're not really talking about drug use at all.

A lot of people think that humour is in the pay off, the punch line. The punch line has to be funny. And sure, it does, but the set up is often much more important than the actual joke. That's the difference between someone who can tell a joke and someone who can't.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Between Projects Right Now

I'm a deadline whore.

Without them, I kinda go to pieces.

I don't understand how the typical office worker operates. Mostly because I have almost never been hired by any organization that has requirements beyond possessing a pulse. I'm not sure why. Even temp agencies have refused to take me on. A company that lets you pay them to pick up people junk refused to work with me.

So I sometimes have a difficult time picturing the routine day of Joe Office. I know that they have big projects and deadlines of their own, but there must some time between major presentations when they sit in their cubicles for eight hours a day and do what they were hired for in the first place.

Loyal readers of this blog may remember that I had jury duty a little while back. It was the first time in a long time that I was on someone else's time. I basically sat there, looking at the clock, waiting for lunch. And then, after lunch, I waited to go home. It's a little bit what jail must be like. Sure, I brought my laptop and did a bunch of my writing work, but being on someone else's schedule was quite a bit different from my daily routine of... well, my standard routine free day.

Do I talk about my schedule a lot? Hmm. Perhaps I do.

When I don't have a looming deadline, my life becomes completely without any structure what-so-ever. My fiancee does her thing and I spend time with her when she's free. My cat gets fed every night at 10 PM. He's on a diet. The schedule is part of it. Imagine if you wanted to lose weight and someone said, "Great! I'll allow you food once a day." I suppose that maybe if you're a movie star and you have a full time nutritionist it must be like that. In fact, I bet movie stars and my cat have a lot in common. I'm going to bring that up during my next celebrity stalking night during the Film Festival at Bistro 990.

No deadlines means no money, but that never really worries me. I'm not one of those people who comes to the end of a contract and freaks out. It takes a little hustle sometimes to pick up the next gig, but something will come through.

I guess it comes down to two possibilities. One, I'm an adrenaline junkie, addicted to the pressure of deadlines. And without them, I'm suffering a form of withdrawal. The other is that the pressure of deadlines only serves to mask the basic fact that I'm stone cold crazy. And without them, I'm just being normal.

I'm trying to decide which of those two options is the "half full" one.

And another thing, he said, blowing past the obvious button to the post, will we stop obsessing about this fucking glass and go get some more water from the tap, for chrissake? We're not living in some poverty stricken desert where we have to walk for miles to get some more water. If that's all the water you had to drink, then maybe it would make sense to fret over your perception of it. But I don't want to hear about that damned glass, ever again.

Between deadlines I get cranky.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

By this post, I am now a Sexpert


Was a more perfect word ever conceived?

Much like the act itself, the word Sexpert is the physical intermingling of two separate individuals - and, as sometimes happens, leaves you with a general sense that you went a little too far.

Was there a mass cry from people who felt that actually having to say or read two words was just too much for their busy day? I suppose there's only so much time between subway stops, you want to get to the juicy bits as fast as you can. Better loose one or two repetitive sounds.

There's one area in which the word has merit, it removes the focus from the word expert. Joan Sauers is Austrlia's foremost sexpert. No, she didn't go to school to study the matter. No, she didn't come up with some new way of looking at it. She was a script researcher, who wrote a book based on her research for a teen drama. And that's it, her credentials are secure. Imagine if someone involved with Degrassi were to be called an expert on sex... or, well, anything. Scary.

I think it's time to take this relationship to the next level. You know how it is, eventually you need more and more of your favourite kink. And so, I have come up with a number of new terms that the English language has been sorely missing.

Sexplanation: Explaning (often to your life partner) why having sex was unavoidable. Works best if you include some variation on, "It just happened."

Sexit: The quick escape after a poorly thought out one night stand. Followed by the Walk of Shame. As you try to figure out where you are and how you get home.

Sexit Poll: As he or she makes a hasty sexit, the other party calls out, "Would you like breakfast? Will you call me?"

Sexport: Going on vacation and getting it on with the locals.

Sexile: 1) Staying in the foreign country after your vacation ends. 2) Being punished by your significant other through the with-holding of sex.

Sexpedition: A carefully planned and financed trip to discover sex. Often involves night clubs you can't afford and going home drunk and very, very alone.

Sexpendable: The buddies you go with on sexpeditions who you drop the moment you think you might get some.

Sexponentional: The phenomenon experienced once you are in a committed relationship, where all of a sudden sexual interest from the opposite sex increases. Find yourself thinking, "Where were you on Tuesday?"

Sexpunge: To completely erase all record of past or illicit sexual activity.

Sextenuating circumstances: Reasons why having sex was unavoidable. Acceptable reasons are; I was drunk, she was drunk, he was drunk, we were drunk, they were drunk, I didn't know she was 15 (wink,wink)

Sextrapolate: Reading the signals. (i.e. what girls wish guys could do more often)

Sextraction: Removing the guy or girl from an area where sex is unlikely, to an area that sex is more likely. Examples include; "Do you want to get out of here?" or "Can I see your room?" or "Wait two minutes and follow me to the bathroom."

Sextravert: One who is way, way too open about their sexual habits.

Sexpense: Paying the price for sex - often involves unwanted phone calls and conversations that start with "I thought you loved me."

Sexageration: The number of women a man will claim to have sex with.

Sexamination: Technical term for "The Old UP and Down" or "checking out."

Sexchange: Having sex you don't particularly desire in order to get something else.

Sexfoliate: Getting ready for an anticipated sexual encounter by shaving or waxing intimate areas. More often done by woman.

Sexpectation: The act of agreeing to pay for the fancy, high end restaurant meal.

Did I miss any? Add your own in the comment sections.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Things People Say 2

"Blood is thicker than water."

Does that mean that if blood were thinner than water, we would be obliged to lie, cheat and steal from our family?

I wonder how many other coincidences of viscosity we should model our lives after?

Monday, July 21, 2008

To Each His Pwn

Do you think that career criminals hate watching Cop Shows?

I imagine them sitting at home with the kids, the TVs on, and one of the CSI's come on. All of a sudden they're squirming on the couch, reaching for the remote. They're trying to explain to their kids, "You know that this is just TV, right?"

And the whole show is kind of like the complete opposite of what they believe in. People are always talking to the cops, and our criminal start ranting from the couch, "Shut up! Don't say that! Oh, come on!"

And then he's rooting for the criminal to get away with it, but of course they never do. In fact, most times they get tricked into making a confession. "What? Don't say that. It's a trick!"

And then when it is over, they feel they have to turn the Tv off and have a nice long chat with their kids about what they just watched, about how the kids felt about it. And it ends with the heart felt, "If you ever tell the cops anything, Daddy will have to kill you, just like he did that funny, skinny rival drug dealer in the next block. Okay?"

And then it is off to bed where he'll read to his kids. The Hardy Boys are not an option.

On the same theme, I bet Death is the same way when he's watching a medical drama. "What? Come on, heroic measures? They found a kidney donor? I'm trying to earn a living here!"

P.S. For my readers who think I made a typo in my title, "pwn" is internet slang for "own" which means to best someone or something. Thematically it doesn't really apply, but what do I care? Any other typos you see in this post or any previous or subsequent posts are also similarly clever, and not because I'm too lazy to properly proof-read, or indeed to learn to splel.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Diablo Cody exposed; A Little Ecomonic Digression for You all

Diablo Cody has built a very successful life for herself through writing a blog about her time as a stripper.

I guess I made the wrong life choices - going to school, practicing my craft, looking for work in my chosen field...

When people are looking to have things written, there's a distinct prejudice against writers. Go figure.

My buddy works for Air Canada, and in the airline business, consumers have basically told the airline that the only thing that matters to them is price. Many people have tried to run an airline that caters only to business class (with higher ticket prices), but they all went under. Why? If someone raises the prices on a car, or a couch, or food (just slap the label organic on there) people will rush out to purchase this status symbol. But the same doesn't apply to airlines.

I've been thinking about that a lot. Obviously, the value people see in the flight lies with the arrival, not the actual trip. Pretty much everyone you talk to will tell you that life is about enjoying the journey, not the destination. And then they cram themselves into increasingly smaller economy seats and grumble about the price. Almost everyone who travels business class has someone else pay for it - like their company.

Does the same thing apply to movies and TV? There's a place called the Pacific Mall where whole stores sell nothing but illegal copies of DVDs. Most of my friends go in a frenzy of media buying. 20 for 10 bucks! I try to tell them they can get the same thing for free over the internet at home, but somehow free doesn't have the same enticing allure as cheap. There's a killer joke in there somewhere, but I'll save it for another blog.

They only buy movies or TV shows they actually want to see, but they feel they got excellent value. And in a sense, they did - it's the same movie as a 20 to 40 dollar non-stolen copy at a fraction of the price. And don't give me that bullshit about how little it costs to make a DVD, we all know we're not actually paying for the disc itself, we're paying for what is on the disc.

How many other things in life are there like that - where the only thing of perceived value is the destination? Books? Maybe, but I've seen a fair number of people on the subway with the prestige, adult (more expensive) Harry Potter. Trains? Sure, lump that in with air travel. TVs? Nope, bigger is better. Weddings? Ha, I'm only kidding. The whole point of weddings is spend as much as you can on every little element.

Oh, unless you're flying.

And when it comes to writers, it kinda works the same way. Where's the perceived value? What does the movie Juno have to do with the writer once being a stripper?

This comes full circle to my little post about James Frey the other day. The perceived value in his book was that it was true. And when it wasn't, people went apeshit.

What does that mean, apeshit? And is apeshit worse than batshit?

More on that another day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I Am Boring; the Burden of Small Talk

The other day, a new acquaintance asked me, "So besides writing, do you have any other interests?"

Uh... nope.

Sad, really. I have long sought after a hobby, but the truth is that very few things interest me. I write, I read, I watch TV, I play video games, spend time with friends, and that's about it.

My fiancee and I are both freelance writers. That means we gotta hustle all the time. We're both starting to make a living at it, but as I always like to say, "No one is going to push that boulder up that hill but you." And that means we work a lot. And, as I think I've mentioned before, we work from home. There's no office hours to protect you from that looming To-Do list.

Sometimes I feel like it is hard to connect to other people. We don't have bosses to talk about, or commutes, or office politics, or work place hijinks. Sometimes days go by without going out, which can make it difficult to talk about the weather. I don't watch sports. The burden of small talk falls largely on the other person.

There is one thing I enjoy. Banter. Good natured, quick witted banter. Now, I'm from Ottawa, and in Ottawa (at least the people I knew) banter largely replaced small talk. When I moved to Toronto, I assumed it would be the same. I'd go to parties and meet someone and make some kind of small joke... and get a blank look in response.

I'm putting together a new project with some fellow writers, and I suddenly realized that almost all of them are from Ottawa. Isn't that weird? I didn't plan it, nor do I go out of my way to meet Ottawanians. It just happens.

But there I go again, talking about work when I'm supposed to be talking about what I do when I'm not working.

We have this notion in our society that our work life and our free time are different beasts - even like lizards and mammals. Like we all still work in factories. Like Fred Flintstone, when the whistle blows, we go straight from the rock quarry to the Drive-in. But I think less and less of us organize our lives quite so neatly.

Which reminds me, I love Drive-ins. Does that count as a hobby?

Monday, July 14, 2008

When in doubt, attack the internet...

More and more, I’m coming to realize that there is a wide divide between people who are tech savvy people who spend a lot of time online, and the rest of the world. But neither seems to see this gulf.

I think that many people have it in their minds that they are completely normal. That the things they do are completely rational and everyone else would do things exactly the same way if only those other people only understood. They think that they are exactly in the middle of the road with their opinions and view of the world.
Except, of course, that most other people are stupid.

Anyway, this attitude applies to people’s internet behaviour. Whatever people do online, they assume that most other people use it the same way. Not true.

Let me ask you this. Have you heard of Twitter?

Twitter is one of those things that makes the geek divide so visible. Basically, it is a constantly updated “mini-blog” where you tell a group of people who are “following” you over twitter what you are doing at the exact instant. And here’s the thing – for the most part, either you have never heard of it or you think every single person in the world is using it.

There are all kinds of sites online that are constantly being described in everyone is doing it kind of way. But in truth these sites are only being used by a tiny, incestuous community of online geeks who are also using all the other things that everyone is doing. This tiny community is setting the debate for the web precisely because people outside this small community have no idea what they’re talking about – or that there’s even any kind of debate. Email works great, right? Net neutrality? You mean a bunch of fishermen who won’t take sides?

And so anyone trying to figure out the internet, inclusing politicians and reporters and corporate investors are told things like, “Everyone’s on Twitter.” “Everyone gets their news on Digg and Slashdot.”

Ah, Digg. Digg sucks. Trying to figure out the world through Digg is a little like having school children vote on what gets in their history text books. You have a bunch of people who think being a Jedi could be considered a religion, and look into whether or not Superman could survive a nuclear bomb in his ass (Dudes. It’s fiction. The writers can do whatever they want.), deciding what is the most interesting things for people to know about. Super hero movie trailers and lists of things that suck often make the top ten. World events? Only if you can somehow spin them to be anti-Bush.

And not only that, but often people get together and agree to “digg” each other’s posts. Yep, like it or lump it, life is all about how many friends you have. Even on the internet.

And there are certain things you can and can’t say on the internet. Insults being the number one thing communicated over the single most sophisticated system ever devised. To preserve human history and learning, medieval monks spent their lifetimes copying old books. All so that we could call someone an idiot for his lack of knowledge of Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver. What you can’t say are things that attempt to provide a layer of context that lies outside of science fiction or Digg. You won’t even get an insult back, and on the internet, if you’re not insulted you don’t exist.

And in conclusion, I wish I had some kind of point. Some kind of advice in order for each of you, dear readers, to make a difference in your own lives. But I got nothing. If you’re dead set on making this world a better place, you could bring me fresh fruit. You know, if you want.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Million Little Pizzas. Mmmmm. (This post contains zero references to pizza.)

I feel like the Da Vinci Code is a personal insult to me.

And no, I'm not Catholic. Or to borrow a joke, I'm a recovering Catholic.

Here's the thing. I'm a fiction writer. I write stuff that's not true - in fact, the not truer the better. But people love to believer that their fiction is real. That they know who that character was based on, or they know the thing that happened to the author that inspired this plot line. Just ask James Frey.

Do you know the whole story about him? Maybe you know the part that involves Oprah. Then again, if you're still reading this blog, you might just be the sort of person who disagrees with everything Oprah. So here's the story...

James Frey wrote a book, partially inspired but his recovery from substance abuse. No one would publish it. He then changed one word. He changed "A Million Little Pieces: A Novel" to "A Million Little Pieces: A Memoir." It got snapped up.

We all know what happened next. Oprah picked it up on her "Oprah-bots Must Read" list. People bought the book and loved it, despite a rash of poor review. Nothing could stop the onslaught of free-car loving television audiences from proclaiming up and down the merits of this book. How this book changed their lives. How they taped all the pages together into a loop so it would never end. (Okay, I James Frey-ed that last one.) And then Oprah blind-sided poor James on her show. "Bad James! Did you do that? Did you do that lie? Bad, bad James! Go to your crate."

And all those people whose lives were changed for the better got very, very angry. How dare you give me a pleasurable reading experience under false pretenses, they raged. They even sued him. Sued him - and won.

Makes me feel like Maggy Atwood owes me a rather large chunk of change. And Maggy, I don't think you can use the Long Pen for your court appearance.

So... what's the point. A guy lied and got caught. Here's the thing - people hate James Frey for the same reason they love the Da Vinci Code, despite the fact that it has been debunked over and over again, and stolen out right from a couple of half-educated conspiracy theorists. Not to mention, badly written. But people love it because Dan Brown wrote a little preface to the book: "Everything in this book is based on blah blah blah all true blah." Even though it is not.

Where's Oprah when you need her.

At the end of the day, people believe what they want to believe. In fact, I heard all that story about the Jame Frey memoir stuff through word of mouth. I've never researched it or tracked down it's sources, but I like to believe it because it fits in with a number of things I happen to already believe in.

Mostly that Oprah is a very negative influence on our culture, and that people are misguided when they value a vaguely defined idea of truth over a well constructed work of creative imagination.

But what do we do when we write? Isn't writing and painting and all creative works simply attempts to create proxies of truth?

Nah, what am I talking about. The only reason I write this blog is to make you laugh and try to appear smart.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Facebook Flirting

A buddy of mine told me this story the other day;

He was at a poetry event picking up women. Now, maybe you're thinking what I was thinking, that you'd rather look from your woman in a very different setting, like backstage at a fashion show or an all night video game arcade. No, he ensures me that poetry readings are ideal because simply bathing on any kind of regular basis elevates you way above your competition of male poets. And he does have a point.

Anyway, he chatted up this one post-modern bird and they seemed to have a groove (isn't that how you talk when you're on the make?) until she said, sorry, I'm seeing someone so I can't give you my number. But let's chat on Facebook.

So there it is. A new phase in romance. The deniable Facebook friendship. When your cell phone rings and your significant other says, "Who's Brad?" you have to quickly make up some kind of lie. But on Facebook, you're only friends - it says so right on the page. How is your guy or girl supposed to know which of the over two thousand friends you have are actual friends, people you secretly don't want to talk to, or potential lovers waiting in the wings? They don't.

Facebook has become one gigantic guilt free sex prowl. They have all kinds of Facebook applications where all you do is rapidly click through pictures, looking for ones you like. It's like eBay for dating. It's a whole new way of flirting, without actually risking anything. People only see what you want them to see. Like the Furries.

But I will say this for Facebook. It's a seller's market. I have heard many, many stories about the time and effort people put in chatting with someone they deem attractive to get a face to face date. You really have to work on it - and chances are you're not the only one working on that particular target. For the first time in history, work-a-holics have a leg up in the dating department. We would celebrate but I got this big report I got to work on, honey.

And in conclusion, Facebook's mass appeal is exactly this - a dating site that looks nothing like a dating site. A lonely people hook-up machine. Wait until the stories start coming out about the Facebook affairs...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Celebrity Pink; The Ultimate He Said/She Said Comeback

Yesterday, for the first time, I watched some celebrity sex tapes.

What's that? Too much information? Well, dear gentle prudish readers, it has come to my attention that you consider me something of an intellectual god; an Albert Einstein of Blogger. And while, yes, when I die my brain will be passed from hand to admiring hand, I suck at math, so I don't know where you're getting this Einstein thing. But I am writing this post so that you realize just how like you I actually am.

I, like many of you, have watched Pam Anderson fondle Tommy Lee's ginormous crotch snake.

Sure, I'm about ten years behind in my celebrity sex tape watching. But the internet was kind enough to provide for my downloading pleasure something of a retrospective of the genre, with carefully chosen selections ranging from Pam and Tommy to Paris to people I am assured others have heard about. As a side note, it kinda dampens the thrill of celebrity sex tapes when you have no idea who the person is.

And so, I settled in with some popcorn and my girl for some film appreciation. I considered cutting a carefully positioned hole at the bottom of the bag, but I figured hot, buttered popcorn might just burn my sensitive areas. Having once suffered through a burn left my a carelessly positioned laptop, I decided in terms of safety. Plus, I wanted to eat the popcorn, too, and that wold be a little weird, n'est pas?

Anyway, back to the sex tapes. I appreciated the unadorned cinema verite of the earlier ones. Watching Pam and Tommy on their honeymoon, I quickly started to feel like they were trying too hard, what with filming themselves just driving around in cars and boats, and then spending a lot of time assuring each other that they were attractive. That is, between Pam's use of what seems to be her catch phrase, "Where are we?" Like I said, this is an early one, and I think later imitators caught on to the fact that the sex tape viewing public is more interested in celebrity sex and less interested in celebrity using their penis to sound the boat's horn.

As we continued to watch, I kept secretly hoping that that male celebrities would finish in a less than porn actor time frame, and that they'd quickly roll over and say, "Sorry babe, I gotta be up early." And go to sleep. I pictured myself turning to my girl and saying, "See?" I'm sorry to report, gentlemen, that they did not. Ladies, you can continue to deliver scathing one liners like, "I bet Colin Farrell never has to get up early." And it seems like you would be right. It also seems he's got very little to do in the afternoon, too. But guys, you can now safely answer, "Yeah, and he lives in the messiest, filthiest house you're ever seen. So pick your poison, sweetheart." Now you've got them on the ropes.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Here's an easy one for me...

Random Thoughts for June 27th...

1) There are two types of people in the world; those who planned ahead and booked off the Monday before Tuesday’s Canada Day holiday and those who we’ll be calling in sick.

2) The “cool factor” of your new phone is exactly proportional to the “I want to strangle you factor” for your fellow street-car riders as you try to decide on a ring tone. Will be Jazz Notes 3 or Happy Techno? Dude, set up your phone at home.

3) HBO is new show is about vampire’s coming out of the closet in the Deep South, and it is being written by Alan Ball. Oh, and the vampires are discriminated against. Spot the subtext.

4) For reasons my lawyer has asked me not to go into, I never see any television commercials. Actually, I go to quite a bit of trouble to avoid them. So, yeah, feel free to describe your current favourite spot at length. Cause I really feel like I’m missing out.

5) Actually a follow up to the above. The commercial is only 30 seconds long. If your description of it hits the ten minute mark, something’s very, very wrong.

6) I actually hate people who have laptops with batteries that... you know... work. Look at you, sitting on the patio in the nice weather, totally unconcerned by a lack of electrical outlets. How I loathe thee.

7) I was just informed by a reliable source that nurses can’t get fired. How this policy can actually lead to a shortage of nurses is a mystery to me.

8) If you're going to put a date into your blog post, it is probably a good idea to actually post it on that date.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Being Lazy... in a Professional Kinda Way

I’m starting to realize just how good I’ve had it.

For the past little while I’ve been making a pretty comfortable living as a freelance writer. And now I’m facing something I had, without much faith, kinda hoped I could continue to avoid forever.

Tomorrow I am interviewing for a 9 to 5 job.

Don’t get the wrong idea. This isn’t a ‘real job.’ It’s not like I’m some struggling artist whose family has convinced to put his dreams on hold to pay the rent. In fact, it is probably a step forward in my writing career. Long term, it will open a lot of doors in the direction of my wildest dreams.

In the short term, it will mean getting up in the morning with everyone else. I’ve become so used to what I call ‘the freelance lifestyle’ that the idea of being on someone else’s schedule gives me chills. It has made me realize just how ridiculously easy my life has become. I get up when I want, I work when I want, I go for walks or lunches or meetings or shopping trips when I want. I do laundry at off-peek hours. As long as I meet my deadlines, if I want to take a day off and play video games, no one even knows.

All that and my fiancée works at home, too. It’s like working with your best friend for an absentee boss.

Sure, there are downsides to working freelance. You have to always be on the hunt for your next paycheque. No benefits. No paid sick days or vacation. It took a long, chronically broke period of my life to even get my foot in the door. But the lifestyle... the lifestyle is ideal for me.

So why leave all that behind? Because everything I hope to accomplish above and beyond what I already have involves working in some office somewhere from early until late. And here’s the thing - this may be the only story you will ever hear about an artist who will give up on his dream by not taking a 9 to 5 office job.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Been A While

Hey! How's it going? Long time no see! You're looking great! What's new?



Oh, really?

What happened then?

Sounds great. Listen, we totally have to hook up more. I gotta...

Yeah. Good. I'm just going to...

Exactly. You know, I'm just off to...

No, sure. Let's do that. Really. But...

Okay, but...

Look. Shut it. I'm busy, okay? I'll see you when I see you.

No, don't...

Don't cry.

I'm not...

I'm sorry. I will try to post more regularly, okay? Okay? Let's see a smile... there you go... little smiley coming to visit...

And yes, I will stop talking about. No, I don't think you're an idiot, that's just how you come across to people.

Good lord, again with the waterworks.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

If I had to pick, I think I'd have to be Samantha; Chuck Berry's only number one hit single

When did the "Sex and the City" movie become the defining moment for feminism?

I know, I know, some people in the U.S. Democratic primaries listed 'gender' as the main factor in voting against Hillary. But, you know, in that vote you're either sexist or racist, pick your poison. On the hierarchy of things you don't want to be in the U.S., I think sexist is slightly more acceptable than racist. At the end of the day, it comes down to who's more riot prone. Every time black Americans get really upset, something's gonna burn. Every time American women get upset, the shelves of Winners gets picked clean.

That was a joke.

But it was a joke that might lead you to expect my reaction to the "Sex and the City" movie, which is a shrug of the shoulders and a quote from Chuck Berry, "You live how you wanna live!" (My Ding-A-Ling, Chuck Berry, Composer: D. Bartholomew, Album: The London Chuck Berry Recordings, Released 1972, Trivia: Chuck Berry's only number 1 hit) Which is the most profound thing I every heard him say. The second most profound being, "Santa, make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down." (Run, Run Rudolph, Chuck Berry, Composer: M. Marks & J. Brody, 45 single, Released: 1952, Trivia: One of the first songs to use the word 'freeway.')

The problem is that to some people, the measure of your passion for Sex and the City is inversely related to your bias against women. As if they took the outdated feminist battle cry "the personal is the political" and applied it to our desert island movie list. Because I didn't see The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I hate all 13 year old girls? I doubt many of the women lining up to see Sex and the City would dream of setting foot in the Iron Man screening, next door. What does that mean for the presidential ambitions of technologically unrealistic battle armour?

It comes down to this. People who like the show will watch the movie. People who didn't watch the show, won't. I don't think too many people have said, "I wonder what this whole Star Trek hoopla is about, I think I'll check out Star Trek 8." No, I think by the time a series has been on the air for a number of years, very few people are still on the fence about it. I'm sure there are some people, male and female, who have refused to give it a chance, but most people I know watched at least two or three episodes and have a pretty good idea if a 2 and a half hour version is for them.

It's a shame that there are actual cases of sexism, racism, classism, homophobia... ism, whateverisms out there. Do we really have to politicize a popcorn movie to this extent? And you what, its okay if you like it and I don't.

I'll even take it one step further. Just because you bought your tickets a week before it opened and have asked every girl you've ever hung out with to go with you doesn't necessarily make you a shallow, proto-lesbian, image obsessed, daddy complex holding, prick teasing, fascistic, femistista who complains about the glass ceiling while showing off the size of her engagement ring.

There. Isn't that big of me?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Have You Hugged Your Writer Today?

I talked about the flipside a little, which really is more interesting, but today I want to talk about the rare moments of recognition. And I’m not talking about awards - fuck awards. There’s always politics involved with awards. And worse, by definition they exclude those who are honoured just to be nominated.

But those moments when someone has read something that dropped, bloody and wailing, from some forgotten recess of your mind, and then actually had something nice to say. Not polite. But actually sincere and heartfelt.

That’s a high that never fades. It’ s worse than heroin. At least with heroin you can nail shut the door and then they make a movie about it with a cool sound track.

Wow, am I a downer or what? Here I am, trying to make a nice little post about feeling proud of a an accomplishment, and I go right to the horrors of drug addiction.

Um… did you like it?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Please, do Not Enjoy the Ass

I had what I consider a quintessential Toronto moment the other day.
There’ s a tiny sex shop a Queen Street West, called the Condom Shack, which seems to somehow make its money from giggling, window shopping, teenaged tourists. Today, there were three twelve year old girls giggling at the flavoured condoms.

Now, in most other cities they’d be left alone, maybe acknowledged with an urbane roll of the eyes, but not in Toronto. In Toronto they have to be “educated.”

“Are you looking at the Japanese condoms?” the sales girl asks. The three teeny boppers clearly have no idea which condoms are the Japanese ones, nor how they should explain this to the very knowledgeable staff. Who continues, “They are twice as strong as our condoms, with a 12 percent increase in lateral elasticity.” The girls try to process this, but are having difficulty getting past the fact the condom’s flavour is marked as ‘tuna belly.’

I was distracted by a life sized, perfect replica of a woman’s lower two holes. It was accompanied by a sign reading. “Please do not touch the ass.” The message was clear, this is an expensive piece of sexual equipment and not a source of amusement. It is not meant to be enjoyed, unless by a government certified pervert. Application forms available from the government of Canada website.

Remember, this is a province (run by Toronto) in which, until very recently, you had to fill out a form in a jail like bunker to buy government approved alcohol.

As we left, the sales woman was explaining “The Keeper” to the increasingly uncomfortable young girls. “It’s not a tampon. It’s smaller and you don’t insert it as far. It is a cup and it collects the... uh... menstruated liquid and you remove it, empty it and reinsert.”

Toronto: Sucking the life out of fun since the 18th Century.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

There will be Boobies! Keep reading...

Here's a word to web people trying to sell to the kids.

Lay off the emoticons.

I'll admit to using smilely faces often enough. :) Occasionally I'll use a winky face - ;). And I do think that some of the things people do with the letters are imaginative, like this one which is supposed to mean, 'I am the Walrus" (:3=

Here's my point - there's no need for you to program in all kinds of functions and graphics which stand in for something someone can just type. And there's also need need for you to transform what I type to whatever you think it is. When I use a smiley face, I want it to stay as text - I don't want it to turn into something that could turn up in the next Forest Gump movie.

I can't tell you the sinking feeling I get when the smiley face I just typed starts to come alive, slowly twisting its head sideways like some mutating alien that has taken over my cat. It turns yellow, grows a head, and becomes some otherwordly thing - taunting me from the place I had used to actually type something meaningful. I didn't ask it to that. And it certainly didn't ask me.

And then there's those flashing banners which promise millions of 'em, available for download! Yay! People will finally be able to tell when I'm being sarcastic!

Just stop it. Yes, I know some people use them. But we don't go hanging 'paint by numbers' canvases in museums, do we?

If people don't have a list of predetermined emotions to choose from, maybe then it might be one small step towards people actually having to think for themselves. You may have noticed that there's no standard, yellow smiley face emoticon for "The consumer capitalist corporate system is stealing my soul."

Don't let 'em tell you how to feel.

And now, as a reward to my long time readers, I present you with some boobies. Enjoy the boobies!


Nice, huh? ;)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just like old people...

I spend a lot of time staring into space.

Writers should not be allowed driver's licenses.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Two questions

Office politics.

I think many people have a visceral reaction to that phrase. I'm sure there are some people who love it, but I can't say I know any of them.

What makes me clench up when I hear it is that it all boils down to this - Don't be emotional, or in the slightest way impulsive. Be a good machine, a good cog in the wheel. React in the way that's expected. When it comes to work relationships, it would be best if you didn't even think - just adopt all the preprogrammed responses.

It drives me nuts.

I read somewhere the other day that the biggest problem with new hires is the time it takes them to adapt to the corporate environment. Look at the buzz words in that sentence, but what does it mean? It takes time to be programmed into the proper responses in a new job.

And that whole attitude of, "I wouldn't want my banker to be wearing a sweat suit." Huh? Would you rather a guy in a suit lose your money, or a guy that looks like a slob make you more?

I know I'm not breaking new ground by complaining about shallow attitudes in corporate workplaces, and middle class jobs. And I'm not going to take up all of your time by whining about it. But I do want to ask one simple question...

Is it honest?

Okay, two questions...

Is it healthy?

Monday, May 12, 2008

What's Manderin for 'Plausable Deniability?'

Seen on a sign at Markham's Pacific Mall...

"Buy TV DVD's Here! Ours are copied straight from the original!"

Friday, May 9, 2008

You just got to believe...

I know a number of very passionate people. I'm not talking about the sex (there, that'll help my Google page rank) and I'm not talking about pretentious artists who talk about passion like it was a knock off Prada.

I'm talking about people who, before too long in any conversation, start talking loudly and pounding on the table. You see, most people's passion comes out in anger at the opposite of whatever it is they are passionate about.

And when it comes to this type of passion, I'm at a disadvantage. I used to be angrier. I used to be the one pounding on the table, going off on what what right and what was wrong. But I made a fatal mistake.

I started reading history.

And not just the TV Guide "Battle of blank" version of history, where what's important is who won (because, you understand, for the most part they're the good guys). I'm talking about the kind of day to day living history, that's what attracts me. I want to know how people lived, how they thought, and most importantly what led them to live and think that way.

And there's the problem. It turns out, the more you read about people's lives, everywhere, the more you start to realize that people are people. That through out history, some have wanted to tear it all down and start again, and others thought that the slightest change was the end of civilization (and that things were better in their day). For hundreds of years, people have fought an ongoing, bitter battle over whether the little mark should go in front of or behind the 's'. Plural or possessive? Long rants about the collapse of society hidden in the single space or double space after sentences. Years ago, double negatives in English were the norm, and now it is the mark of the devil. Text messages and online abbreviations are the current mark of the end times.

I just read a thing where a guy got really upset because in his day, teenagers benefited from long phone conversations with their friends, instead of announcing things over the internet. What do you want to bet I could dig up a similar rant from the sixties and seventies about how bad long telephone conversations were for teens, instead of hanging out at the soda counter, like in their day?

It has been said that those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. I say those who know they're quotations are doomed to hear them over and over. So what happens to those who do know their history? Are they somehow free from this cycle?

What they are free from is being able to pound the table and make a dramatic statement of right and wrong. Because almost every view point you could hold can be weakened by a knowledge of where that view came from. Most of what we believe, especially the things we believe the most, are fictions, made up to keep us sane.

I've been reading this book about authenticity in music, about how almost all musical genres are defined in some measure by their attitude towards a quest for authenticity. How blues music isn't considered authentic unless played by a black male. How rock is judged based on how authentic the performer seems, who self revealing they seem to be. How disco was deliberately inauthentic, and how that enraged people. But the quest for authenticity in a 3 minute song is a fiction, and can never be truely realized. But what the audience is looking for is something that perfectly conforms to their expectations, while still surprising and engaging them.

Where do those expectations come from? Personally and culturally? They're manufactured, intentionally. You have to be introduced to them by an outside source - and this source is often from someone who wants to convince you to think a certain way.

The question you have to ask yourself is, do you judge what you're told based on the source? Or do you take a close, skeptical look at what you're told, including learning tis history, to see whether it makes sense to you? I'm willing to bet you know which side I come down on.

Man, that's a long post, isn't it? Of the two or three people who actually read this, how many got this far? And you read all this way and I'm not even going to wrap things up for you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

To the girls sitting in the cafe who think they are in The Hills

Know what? Twenty years from now everything “Green” and “Organic” will seem as trite and cheesy as mood rings and pet rocks.

I had a pet rock.

The craze swept through St Thomas elementary like Britney’s paparazzi.Looking back, I’m very curious about how it started. Did someone’s mom tell them about the idea? Cause this was the 80’s, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the world had long ago moved on to only wearing one glove.

Here’s a question to those readers in therapy due to being a young adult in that period... what did you do with the other glove? Did you only buy the one? Did you have a drawer bulging over with sequined left gloves? Did you go halfsies with a buddy and carefully schedule glove wearing days so no one would catch on? When the craze died out, were there sad little empty glove stores everywhere?

The kids in my school only seemed to have their pet rocks for a short time. Two or three days, it seems. They picked ones that looked like little faces. I picked up a rectangular stone with a chipped bit on it. I took a red pen and coloured in the “mouth” and called it Sharky. My pet rock was a disembodied shark head. Make of that as you will.

Long after the craze had passed in my fellow 4th Graders, I held on to Sharky.For a while I held him proudly in my hand during recesses, but gradually I became more and more embarrassed of my attachment to this good natured yet savagely visage inanimate companion. First, I kept him hidden in my pocket during recess. But soon I began to fear discovery, so I kept him in my desk, but close at hand along with my pens and pencils. I would touch him tenderly but secretly from time to time. But then I feared what would happen if he was discovered in this intimate place, and he moved into the bowels of my desk, which opened from the top and was constantly jammed with orange juice stained text books and pencil shavings.

At the end of the school year, we all reluctantly opened our desks to “clean” them. This process didn’t involve much in the way of cleaving as it did dumping damp handfuls of happily biodegrading papers into a waiting trash can, while saying things like, “That’s where that smell was coming from!”

And there was Sharky. Waiting patiently. He never gave up on me. I picked him up and turned to the trash can. My fist clenched tight around him, hovering over the waiting rotten orange (that’s where that juice was coming from) and the barely legible six month old note to my parents. I willed my hand to let go. Let go, I told myself. Let go.

But I didn’t. In a motion too quick for anyone to pick up on, I stuffed Shaky deep into the pocket of my hand me down corduroy bell bottoms. The bus couldn’t take me home fast enough my secret shame, my shameful love, a hard lump in my pants. I rushed into my room... shut the door... and held him.

Years later I found him at the bottom of my sock drawer and tossed him in the trash.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ee eye ee eye... WTF?

You know, I'm in the shower this morning, singing Old MacDonald to myself (like you've never done that) and I started thinking, as I sometimes do, about the groupthink we foster on our kids. How we all agree on certain things and we tell them to our kids, even though they have exactly no basis on life outside of the sphere of things we tell kids. Like, for example, that when you sleepwalk you hold your arms out in front of you. Where did that come from? And yet, if you're showing a kid sleepwalking, you better put your arms out - we all agree that's the way it works.

So here's what I come to next, as I'm soaping up areas that you shouldn't be thinking about... why is it that one of the very first things we insist on drilling into our kids' brains is how various animals sound? Why is that? One of the basic foundations of children's literature, a sub-genre onto itself, is that cat's go meow and dogs say bow-wow and cows say moo.


What good does it serve anyone? And yet, from the age of 0 to, say, 5 it's all anyone wants to say to us. The sheep goes... the horse goes... the elephant goes... over and over again until it is ingrained in there on a fundamental level. Things like math, spelling, religion, politics... all that comes later but buster you're two years old now and you'd better fucking learn what a lion says. You don't want to be a retard, do you?

And you can't decide to opt out, either. Like the sleepwalker, you can't say to a child, "No, cat's don't sound anything like meow. They do more of a rwar kind of sound. Doggies? Dear lord, don't get me started on doggies. Where did they get bow-wow from? Were they high? Oh, what's high? Uh... that's what mommies and daddies do when they love each other very much and they put the wet towel under the door and then they have sex."

Imagine your child in school questioning the teacher? "That's not what ducks say!" You'd be getting a nasty letter pinned to their jacket that night, my friend.

And here's another thing about it that drives me nuts... who decided what animals were on the list, and when? Because it's pretty much a closed shop there, huh? The list is always the same. Always. A couple of pets, a bunch of farm animals, a few African beasts in there for drama, and that's it. What does a zebra says? What does a beaver say, or a kangaroo? I don't know, I've never been told.

And there's some on the list that are pretty questionable. Does a mouse say squeak squeak? Really? Who decided that? Have you ever heard a mouse, outside of a movie or something? Not me. I owned a hamster, and he didn't say squeak. But he's not on the list, so I have to give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Next week, I convince you that a is not for apple and the entire system crumbles. Can you say home school?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


One the hardest things to take as a creative worker is when someone tells you no.

If we're any good, if we care at all about what we do, we invest so much of ourselves in it. Creating something out of thin air, combining random influences into something new, is not like any other job. Sure, everyone experiences disappointment and everyone at some point feels like they aren't being listened to, but imagine a career where you're told going in that 80% of what you do will just be no good. With no guideline or yardstick as to what is good, besides your own instinct.

The thing that I think most of us crave more than anything else is external validation. Otherwise, why would be exposing ourselves so vulnerably? I know I get a high when someone I respect tells me they like something I've done.

The flips side of that is how crushing it can be when you don't get that validation. I think people don't understand what it is like to stay in a career path where most of the time, people tell you you're not good. Even when people do like what you've done, there's almost never the level of appreciation that would make the rejections worthwhile. I think maybe, if we were really honest, what we would like most is a deep, heartfelt hug to express the levels of humanity that we revealed through our joke about suitcases.

That's the real problem. There's not enough hugging involved.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hey Jealousy!

I've been hanging out with some of my writer friends the last couple of days, and it turns out that writers have a few things in common.

Every writer, everywhere, is in some way jealous of some other writer, somewhere else.

We are never just content with things.

Why is that?

Myself, I just about fly into a rage when I hear about someone else getting paid to do something I would never in a million years want to touch. "ARG! How dare they get that no talent hack to write and research that scat porno documentary!"

Monday, April 28, 2008

Make money on the internet! Guarenteed! Work from home!

I was going to give you a little rant about happiniess. And it was going to go something like this...

Leo Tolstoy once wrote that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

If you want to sound smart, open with a quote. Not only does it make you sound like you once read a book, but it is always easier to steal something from someone smarter than you than to actually say something intrinsically smart.

Then I was going to get into my little pet twist on that. How individuals are unhappy in the same way, but each of us finds happiness in unique ways. We all get down when confronted with money troubles, relationship problems, a job we don't like, but what does it take to make someone truely happy in their life? Ah, that depends on the person, n'est pas? (N.B. using words from another language makes you look smart too. Oh, and using the notation N.B. isn't bad either.)

I was probably going to follow that up with evidence drawn from my own experiences, only keep them vague enough so I avoid mentioning anyone by name. They would probably be circuitous and hard to follow, with some jokes shoehorned in there awkwardly, like a clown performing at a share holders' meeting. You know, in a company that doesn't have clowns. I think if you had a publicly traded clown talent agency, then the clown wouldn't be out of place. But I digress. (Digressions make you look stupid, unless you acknowledge them.)

But I'm not going to do any of that, because as I was Googleing the quote to remind myself who said it (admitting you don't know something equals dumb) I came across a site that sold Term Papers. I think perhaps the name was poorly chosen, because it included plagiarism in the url. Seems to me you're cramping on my plausible deniability, there. (Sometimes, playing dumb is the smartest thing you can do.)

And that's when it hit me - the single greatest business venture of our time. A website that sold prewritten blog entries! Think about it! I'd never have to sweat over another missed deadline because I was too lazy to come up with something! I could just browse on over to www.greatblogideas/plagiarize.com, click through the categories until I came up with something on writing; funny; smart; surprising; original... and I'd have it!

What would be even better if you could feed in a quote, or pick one out of a list, and presto, a whole blog would be written for you! Think how many postings you do in a day! The internet would be yours for the taking!

I'm sure there's some code savvy types out there who could do that, no problem. I'm not one of them, but I present this idea to them. Go on, basement dwellers of the world. Pick up this gauntlet I throw down in front of you.

I can't wait. Maybe I'll just do a little copy and paste action in the meantime...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend Subway Shutdown Ruins Hook-ups

Midnight on Friday April 25, 2008, public transportation shut down, inconveniencing hundreds of suburbanites drinking in Toronto’s downtown core, and putting an end to reportedly dozens of one night stands.

“I totally had this trashed chick convinced I was Ben Affleck’s other brother,” says Steven Holloway of Oakville, “And then she hears the subway’s closed and she has to go.” He shakes his head, and continues. “I never thought I’d get cock-blocked by the TTC.”

The same story is told all across the downtown core. An estimated 83% decrease in drunken, meaningless promiscuity occurred in the entertainment district alone. Early reports indicate that College Street suffered a less drastic decline, while the crowd at the Drake and the Gladstone seemed remarkably unconcerned. "Subway? EW!" offered 43 year old, Brampton school teacher Shawna Miles, who gave her age as 25.

But it wasn’t only dance club pickups that were effected. Booty calls across the city had to be canceled at the last minute as the horny suddenly found themselves unable to travel to the desperate. This is a phenomenon known as a Breakdown in the Booty Call Process Chain, and is well understood by Arborculturalists, who are often horny and desperate.

Surprisingly, some were able to turn a negative into a positive. Giving lifts, sharing cabs, and walking her home were three ways the surprise strike actually helped to close the deal. One such quick thinker was Patrick Varney, of Oshawa. “I had a cab when I saw this stunner, obviously drunk and primed to pump, come out of the club. So I offered to share it with her. By the time we got to her place her panties were in my breast pocket. And this chick had been partying with Ben Affleck’s other brother.” Mr. Varney’s only regret was in leaving his wallet and all of its contents with the cab driver.

Most men weren’t so lucky, and spent hours making their way home to beat their baby yoghurt into an old sock and go to sleep.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bueller... Bueller...

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it."

Thus the philosophy in Ferris Bueller's Day Off laid bare.

But wait a second, Mr. Bueller. I have considered your position, and I find in untenable. Perhaps it is time for a fresh review of this rarely questioned filmic maxim.

Talk about moving fast - how long is your 'day off,' Mr. Bueller? You hang out at home, round up your friends, have lunch, go to ball game, visit the museum, dance in a parade, hoist your friends car on bricks, go swimming, have a life altering epiphany (albeit the actual epiphany is carried out by your ersatz Dr. Watson, undercutting your own, self serving prominent role in your own narrative. Who's the main character now, bitch?) race through various backyards, and are home in bed before the clueless parental metaphors get home.

Phew. I'm exhausted just writing about it. Surely you needed a day off to recover from your day off! This doesn't sound like slowing down to take it all in to me. No, in fact, it suggests that there is some form of time travel involved. Perhaps this movie deserves a place of honour in the canon of science fiction, right between Back to the Future and... er... Back to the Future 2!

Perhaps, Mr. Bueller, if you had slowed yourself down, and taken time to consider the ramifications of your argument, you might have said something like the following...

"Life moves pretty fast. I mean, who woulda thunk that funny teacher with the flat voice woulda gone on to have his own game show and become the Micheal Moore of the raving, wild-eyed right wing?"

Tomorrow I shall re-examine the Jurassic Park series through the lens of Marx's phases of historical progress, Jurassic Park (feudalism), The Lost World (capitalism), Jurassic Park III (communism) and the forth coming Jurassic Park IV (corresponding to the Marxian historical phase of milking-this-until-it-bleeds-ism).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The dog days of mid to late April

We're a funny people, us Canadians.

It's been warm in Toronto for maybe a week or so, solid. Summer weather, after what many people have termed a winter from hell. (Does that hell has frozen over? If that's the case, I got lots and lots of sex coming my way!)

People are still complaining about the winter weather. People have been loving the warm weather. And then yesterday, it happened. I knew it would, but when it did, it came as a surprise.

During the winter my gal and I hadn't gone out on too many evening strolls. So now that spring is here, we've been trying to get out from behind our desks and outside. So yesterday, around 6ish, when the sun was starting to go down, we were out on the Danforth, waiting at a light to cross the street, when this guy steps up beside us.

He was panting heavily. His thick, round sun glasses were resting on his chin, for what reason I don't know. His thin grey shirt was covered with splotches of sweat, and he carried a much too heavy backpack over his shoulder. He came right up to us, and without preamble or or the slightest level of prompting, said, "It's too hot."

I looked at him in surprise. Huh? He looked at me, and perhaps sensing that I wasn't on the same page as him, said, "When you can't stop seating, it's way too hot." I have recently realized most people appreciate an attempt to understand their point of view, so I started a half hearted lie. "Yeah, I guess it..." and that's as far as I could get. I could not join this squat guy's moral outrage.

The light changed and he crossed the street ahead of us, obviously he had somewhere to be and he'd been going there for some time, in the blazing, mid April setting sun.

And that was it. The first person I heard complain about the warmth.

It didn't even take a month to go from voicing displeasure at the cold to assuring complete strangers that the Earth, shifting on its axis and adjusting the exposure of the northern hemisphere to the sun, was asking too much of us.

I gotta tell you - no one complains like a Canuck.

We should have that as a motto. I wonder how it reads in Latin?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is it just me?

Are we in a televisional gulf right now? Why does it seem like there was tons of stuff and now nothing I want to watch? Did I suddenly mature last weekend? ;The only current show we're watching is Canterbury's Law. Yeah, exactly. I guarantee you it was pitched to Fox as "House in a courtroom."

Has the US election dropped off the radar? It used to be everywhere, but the only thing I've heard in the last little while is both Obama and Hillary think the other guy "could still win." What kind of a campaign is that? BRING ME BLOOD!

Was this last winter extremely bad, weather wise? (This one's for my Toronto fans!) I think I must have suffered some level of emotional trauma over the winter, because now with the warmer weather, all I can think of is, "Some day it'll get cold again." I'm like a dog who's been beat too much, right Bruce? Right? I spent half my life just a coverin' up, now.

Juno's soundtrack is great but the movie was just trying way too hard. Or not enough. How many people watched that movie and when they met Jason Bateman's character thought, "Hey! This could work out without any problems!"

Who told Adam "Opera Man" Sandler he was Tom "Bosom Buddy" Hanks? I'm not usually one to bash someone just doing their best to entertain us (at least not publicly) but Adam, buddy, there's a whole emotional range between mumbling and shouting. Oh, yeah, we watched Spanglish last night. Should have opened with that.

Is it easier to write a whole bunch of barely connected things than actually have something to say that could fill up a post on its own? Or that just me?

Do most people decide what colour to paint their walls with more serious thought then they give to getting pregnant and having a child? "Let's get pregnant. Now, should the baby's room be this colour... or this colour? Are you even listening to me?"

Do you think Dubya would dare invite the Pope to the White House if he was worried about getting re-elected? Do you think he was like a kid who has a friend his parent's don't approve of? "But why can't the Pope sleep over? We'll be quiet! I promise!"

What would you do on a sleep over with the Pope? I'd blow up condoms and stuff them in his sleeping bag. And then we'd laugh...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sunny Weather!

So, after a hectic week (with no time to post) the sun is out and shining down its' rays of warm warm love to the people.

But I got more work to do. I am beginning to suspect that I will never do anything fun, ever again.

And that's not even why I wanted to talk to you today. No, friends, today's sermon is about something that I think I touched on in a much earlier post. (Oh yeah, for those of you waiting on baited tinder hooks, I will absolutely get back to the writing assignment I had started. The one about the hats. I will. When I run out of things to rant about!)

There's a time in our lives when many of us honestly believe we're going to be big shot famous celebrities. Whether we think singing or sports or acting or (be afraid) writing or whatevschooly, we enjoy it and have a certain talent at it and that's all, right?


You gotta chase it.

Sure, there are some people who are born to famous parents or who are in the right place at the right time, but I'm not talking about them. Because, quite frankly, they're probably not looking for career advice. Even then, if they want to be more than a footnote in Pappy's A&E Biography Special they gotta chase it too. It's just a little easier for them.

It's not enough to have talent. You gotta have drive. You gotta wake up every morning thinking about how you're gonna get closer to where you want to be by the end of the day. And it's hard, especially in the early stages when it feels like nothings happening.

But even that's not what I really wanted to say. That's all setting the scene. You've heard all that before. What I want to touch on is people who seem to have the talent, seem to have the drive... and then drop out of the race.

We've all got a comfort zone. Sure, everyone wants more money, bigger house, faster cars. But different people need a different base lifestyle in order not to panic about it. It's different for everyone. For some people, its money. For others, its owning a house or having kids. For some people, it is finding a relationship as close to your parent's relationship as you can get. And it is weird that one day someone's right there, making plans for this and that and going to classes and putting on shows and then the next day, they just stop pushing.

They've reached their comfort level.

They have decided that what they would have to give up to keep chasing it isn't worth it. Here's where "it's me or the band" comes in. And I'm not talking about people who never achieve any level of success, I include those who get to a certain stage in their career and become content to stay there. They like the money, or maybe the big fish small pond thing. Maybe they got into journalism to break hard hitting stories and expose corruption, but now they're very happy editing for Train Man, the guy's magazine for locomotive buffs. Why did their goals change?

Whatever happened, they found their comfort level.

And we should be happy for them - because they're happy. Just in a different way than they thought they would be.

But I will say this, they are probably out enjoying this sunny day right now, while I'm home writing into a blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Being in the know ain't always in the know. You know?

Here’s a hint; if you are referencing pot, don’t make that silly “I’m smoking pot” gesture.

You know the one. You pinch your thumb and forefinger and touch it to your lips. Often, there's some back and forth motions like the gesturer is smoking in an old, handcranked, over-speed, black and white silent movie. I understand that everyone immediately knows what that means. But unless you are trying to score from someone across a linguistic divide, just don’t do it.

How many times have you seen this scenario? You’re at a party and someone party goer invites a fellow party goer they have recently met to join a bunch of them “for a walk.” Or “to go to the basement.” Or “to go and smoke.” Or (my favourite) “to burn some dried hemp and then inhale the smoke in order to derive some level of euphoric intoxication.” The invitee blinks for a moment and then with a visible gathering of their street cred ask “You mean...” and touch their pinched thumb and finger to their lips. Because they have seen How High and Weeds. They know how it goes down.

I’m gonna break the Magicians Code here and pull back the curtains - you have not communicated that you are “with it.” No. You have just broadcasted to everyone sober enough to give a shit that you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.

It’s like they feel it they say the word “pot” they will instantly get jumped by clever drug cops and immediately deported to Jordan for “questioning.” Dude, it’s not like being at an airport, where in the interest of security certain words are illegal. Chief among them the four letter word “bomb.” Maybe it is the silent “b” that gets people so upset. I understand “pneumatic” is next. I’m not sure how many times I say bomb on any kind of regular basis, but the whole time I’m going through the metal detectors all I can think is, “don’t say bomb. Don’t say bomb.” Okay, that’s not all I’m thinking about. I am also hoping they don’t find the illicit bottle of (liquid) shampoo my fiancée is smuggling onto the airplane.

To sum up, just say pot. Or weed, or Mary Jane (like Spidey!). Unless you’ve at the airport. Cause then, yeah. Absolutely. You will probably got tackled and sent to Jordan.