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.