Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
But don't get too friendly. He's just leaving.
I hired him to do a specific job for me. I paid a dollar for him at the Dollar 'n' Value at Mavis and Eglinton. And with another dollar I bought the pack of various-colored glittery shoelaces from which the orange one was taken and used to leash Octopus to my key ring.
His job was to always remind me not to leave my keys in the truck. He was surely a sound investment given that lock-out rescue service is sixty bucks on average (believe me, I know. I've done ample research).
Octopus was doing a very good job. For a while. Then the other night I stopped for gas at a remote Caledon independent service station.
I was distracted as I disembarked, routing through my book bag for the Gregory Benford novel I'd earlier scooped from the Orangeville Public Library's discard section in exchange for a handful of quarters. Never having read him previously I was keen to preview the first page to get a sense of his style.
(While the age-old rule stands; you can't judge a book by it's cover, I find you can judge quite a bit from page one because the multiple layers of marketing keyed to it guarantee that it's received the utmost the author's attention and focus.)
So I hop out, do a little pump-and-read and go inside to pay the piper. They don't have pay-n-pump at this ma-and-paw shop.
Returning, I pull at the door handle. You guessed it. Locked. I reach for the designated key pocket of my jacket. Empty. My head tips, nose to the window, the shadow of my head masking the reflection of the overhead lights, giving me view of the dark interior.
And there sat Octopus on the dashboard, staring back at me with wide woeful google-eyes.
"Octopus!" I cried. "Why?"
He just stared back at me forlornly, his glittery orange shoeleash trailing off toward the ignition.
"How could you let me down?"
Back I go, into the shop. Ma has a phone with which I may call a locksmith or tow guy but she has no ATM with which I would access the cash required for payment.
Those bastards don't accept plastic, you know.
Because they're bastards. I just want to be clear on that.
She does however, upon my pleading, go searching for a coat hanger and comes up with one. It's already been straightened but for a bend at the neck, surely designed for this very purpose.
I give it a further minor modification, pull an ice scraper from a cardboard box in the truck's bed and approach the driver's door but dubiously. My tools are sorry replicas of the ones I see the pros use with sad regularity.
I fiddle away, basically passing time. The task is hopeless.
A youth in muscle shirt, sans muscles but with an armband tattoo is watching me while fuelling an old beat-up mini-van at the next pump.
‘Mind your own business, punk.’
"Excuse me," he says. "Will I get to Erin if I continue down this road?" He nods toward Highway 10, southbound.
"No," I say. "That'll take you to Brampton. You need to go back to those lights there and make a left. That's 24. It'll take you straight into Erin."
"No problem." I go back to my inane fiddling while he hangs up his nozzle and goes inside.
He returns a moment later, saying, "Hey, you want some help there?"
"No. Thanks anyway. It's a hopeless cause."
He approaches anyway and eyes the ice scraper wedged behind the top of the door frame. "A door jam 'd work better," he states, "But she don't have one. I asked her. Are you trying to get at the handle or the lock button?"
"The handle. But it's no use. It's too far."
"You should try the lock. That'll be easier."
"I tried that. It won't work. The contour is too gentle. The hook just keeps sliding off."
"Oh. It's contoured."
"Yeah," I say, wondering if he even knows what that means.
"Let me have a try."
"That's okay. I don't want to waste your time. It's not gonna work."
"Yes it will," he says. "Come on, hand it over. I'm good at this."
I comply for lack of anything more useful to do. He pulls the coat hook free of the door and makes two modifications to it. I nod my head. The little ragamuffin has demonstrated a superior grasp of simple physics than I had. D'oh! Still it's a lost cause.
He fiddles a while.
"Listen dude," I say, "I really don't want to waste your time."
"I've done this many times," he says. "Never failed yet."
"Ah. Imagine my luck. Running into a professional car thief."
He chuckles. "No. I just have a habit of locking my keys in the car quite a lot."
A lot? I presume by that he means once a day since he doesn't look old enough to have been driving more than a week.
He fiddles some more. "Don't worry," he says. "I'll get it."
I understand where he's coming from. This is just his ego talking. Then he reaches for the door handle, pulls the door open and hands me the tools while my jaw just about hits the pavement.
"You're awesome!" I gasp.
He smiles, declines payment and leaves, turning his van around and heading for Erin. I return the coat hook and climb aboard.
"Who was that masked man?" says Octopus.
"Shut up Octopus. You're through here."
We're silent most of the ride home. I decide I must use a drill and put a hole through the inside face of the lock button, It'll give me something to hook the coat hook into next time. Yeah. That's the plan. Now I'll never need a locksmith again. Or a tow truck guy or an octopus or any other colourful plastic sea creature.
"Nice kid though," says Octopus finally.
"Well, I guess you can't judge a book by it's cover."
"Yeah, but do you still think we should do away with the traditional family unit and harvest children in underground facilities until they’re twenty-five?"
"Shut up, Octopus. Just shut up."
Saturday, October 20, 2007
He’s normally funkier but he’s a little hung over today. But our goose movies are always loose. In fact we have the loosest goose movies in the Golden Horseshoe Area.
2. ybo how to pronounce
Like this: “ee-bow”. As in “Ybo’s connected to the… thighbo. Thighbo’s connected to the… hippo…” Got it?
3. Xiphisternum cat
Well, it’s like this, see. There was an old lady who swallowed a cat (imagine that!) and it got lodged in her xiphisternum and there it sat. I think she swallowed the cat to catch a mouse but I don’t know why she swallowed the fly. I mean – mouse.
4. fantasy guy hero names
There are far too many to mention but some of the key ones:
Gord the Rogue
Henry the Amazing Xiphisternum Cat
Lola the Flirtatious Crossdressing Garden Druid
Snuggaroot the Very Small Dwarf (Gasp! That reminds me – I’ve totally dropped the ball on the Cayber Crystal chronicles. Bad Fwig. Bad. Slapping self on wrist…)
5. naughty n nice in Oakville
Bob Runciman and every jerk that voted for him.
Again, Bon Runciman (if the rumours are true).
7. read first time guy fantasy making love
Gosh, my first ever making-love fantasy? That was a long time ago. If I correctly recall, it involved a pair of twin hermaphrodites, a camel and a lot of rubber boots filled with sand. No, wait. It was butterscotch pudding. Shall I go on?
8. "the vision test" question 48 hallpass
Question 48: Does it hurt when I poke you in the eye with my finger?
9. answers to the vision test+question 48 hallpass
Well, I don’t condone cheating but okay, here’s the answer to question 48:
Ouch! Hey! Cut that out! Hey, that’s not your finger…
10. mock knowledge tests for ontario drivers
That’s fine. I mock them too. Watch this:
Hey knowledge tests! You suck! That’s right! G1 and G2 questions are for pussies!
11. Ontario Geography in simple words
12. How not to write a fantasy novel
There are many many wrong ways to write a fantasy novel. This is just one:
Once upon a time there was a woman named Sheila who worked in the Department of Taxation and Excise. She liked to eat Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch. One day she stuck some of her soup noodles up her nose and stomped around the office growling and shouting, “I AM THE KRAKEN!”. Her coworkers panicked. She looked like a real kraken. So they beat her to death with their staplers and three-hole-punches and drank her blood. The end.
The information provided above is correct to the best of the author’s knowledge at the time of this release. The author bears no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for any manifestations of the use or misuse of the above counsel, including but not limited to: financial loss; hearing loss, degenerative disk, stubbed toe, poked eye, rug burn, wet spots, racing stripe, run-on sentences, tooth decay, moral decay, tennis elbow, continental drift, hot flashes or parvo.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I like my fabric softener. I'm a fabric soft knob snob.
Sporkie sporkie spork spork. Why do you call me Spork? Sporkie spork spork. You came from outer space. Spork spork spork. I am Swedish chef.
Clang clang clang goes the trolley!
Ding ding ding goes the bell!
I don't care if you are king or streetwasher. My monster pancakes will get you in the end.
Five Onion riiiings!
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And ten Russel Terriers!
Four calling birds...
It says he killed the guy right in front of his own father. Can you believe that? I couldn't even swear in front of my dad. I can't believe how kids are raised in some families.
I will gladly pay you Tuesday for some syphilis todaaaaay!
Uh oh. Here comes the Kumquat Vag Squad.
Gonna take her to town
She'll make me frown.
Ding ding ding ding ding ding... Columbo!
The preceding opinions are strictly those of Steve-o McBeano Windchime and are not shared by FWG, Blogger.com or by beatniks or disestablishmentarians anywhere.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I'm suddenly forced to reconsider my place and standing in the universe.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Took me about two and a half hours to assemble everything.
Mom loaned me the stuffed animals.
Dora the Explorer gift wrap: $2.99
"It's a girl" Balloons: 10 for $2.00
Pink table cloth: $2.00
Barbie Island Princess posters: Free from Mattel (our client)
Supplemental images: Free from the mighty web
I let him keep one thing of his own. His fortune cookie message that reads, 'You are strong and brave. use your strength to pull through.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
It’s a tag thing. Claudia Supermom has tagged me. And just like when we played tag as kids, when you’re tagged your it. Or else you’re frozen – if you happened to be playing freeze tag – oh – or else you’re frozen but only until one of your buds comes along and slaps you and yells, “Happy Days!” if you happened to be playing TV tag. Oh, unless someone had already yelled “Happy Days!” previously in the game in which case you were still frozen because a particular TV show can only be used once per game, you see. I don’t recall the punishment for the repetition offense. Probably either you were taken into a garden shed and thrashed to ribbons with a skipping rope or else you were held down on the lawn and given the dreaded Chinese Nose Torture.
Oh god – the memories. Does anyone else remember the Chinese Nose Torture? Anyone? Anyone?
Okay, does anyone remember what this post was supposed to be about?
Ah, yes, the book meme. Come on FWiG, focus now...
In accordance with the guidelines relayed by Claudia Supermom, I present: Book Meme.
Number of books owned:
Somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand. They’re freakin’ everywhere (see photos). I’ve read a quarter of them at best.
Most recently read:
Under Satan’s Sun (1926) by Georges Bernanos, translated by J.C. Whitehouse. It’s very deep. I read it slowly, painstakingly, and still much of it went over my head. I believe I understand what he’s suggesting though. It concerns God, Satan and humanity and it’s clearly an honest interpretation of the divine landscape. And what it suggests is entirely shocking. Makes Da Vinci Code look like Curious George.
Most recently purchased:
Seat of the Soul (1989) by Gary Zukav. It’s touted ‘A remarkable treatment of thought, evolution and reincarnation’ by some entity called ‘Library Journal’. I see it contains chapters bearing the titles Evolution, Karma, Reverence, Heart and such. My assumption is that it will break down into utter nonsense upon examination but I’ll give it a fair chance.
Five most meaningful books read:
In no particular order:
1. The Stand
Most King fans I know call this book his best. I concur. I’ve read most of his work and nothing else comes close (though I haven’t began the Dark Tower series yet). The story grabs you from the very beginning and never relents, pulling in a host of interesting characters with compelling problems and developing into an epic struggle of good versus evil.
The achievement here, I find, is that the plot, having intimately to do with the entire planet earth, is hugely ambitious. That’s an awfully big “set” for an author to build in his head and yet King succeeds. He transports the reader to a very intricate place, difficult even to conceive, and makes it very real. Bravo.
And I must tip my hat for the trick play he perpetrated, for which he laid the bait at the close of chapter 62!
The Stand is the one reason I continue to read new Stephen King books and why I’m continually disappointed.
2. The Lord of the Rings
This story, often mistakenly labeled a trilogy, was clearly an afterthought. It’s evident in the tinkering of plot that labors to tie it to the prequel The Hobbit. The core of Tolkien’s work is in the creation of a new language (Elvish) and in the painstaking creation of a vast fictional history covering many ages, the scope of which LOTR covers just a tiny portion. It’s said that his motivation stemmed from his great mourning for the loss of whatever British mythology might have once existed.
The LOTR saga is wildly compelling. I think everyone knows that. As for Tolkien’s rather hopeless and fanciful endeavor to create a British Mythology – look how many writers have since embraced his conception of Elves and Dwarves and wizardry and picked up the torch and carried on. LOTR is our bible. His mythology has not been embraced merely by Britain but by the world forevermore. What a staggering accomplishment!
3. The Long Walk
It’s been at least twenty five years since I’ve read it. As an adolescent I was deeply moved by it. Unfortunately I now know that there is opposition to its claim to being a true story.
It concerns the Polish soldier Rawicz’s escape from a Siberian gulag prison along with a half-dozen other political prisoners of various nationality, and the band’s seemingly impossible trek, over thousands of miles through desert and over mountains, to sanctuary in British-ruled India.
None of the testimony I’ve personally heard either for or against the story’s authenticity is even remotely convincing. My best guess is that the story is true in essence but likely embellished.
None of that matters. Whether the details are entirely true or not, it is fascinating testament to the very real human capacity for conviction and courage.
4. Gently Down the Stream
Rarely are books written in first-person, present tense. Some of those few I’ve read rank among my favorites. I’ve also seen disasters where present-tense should never have been attempted.
This is the story of a man with issues of which he’s blissfully unaware. He thinks everyone else has a problem. The fascinating thing is this: By making him the narrator and in present tense, the problem must be conveyed to the reader through the one and only point of view that is currently unaware of the problem’s existence! Robertson being a master of subtlety, pulls this off beautifully, fully engaging the reader.
5. The Screaming Room
A superior novelist has a good sense of the emotional landscape of their work and takes the reader on a balanced ride, alternately building, then dissipating, tensions. This book is a roller coaster with far more downs than ups. There is no balance here - because this was not written by a superior novelist. This was written by an inexperienced writer, a mother who’s child has succumbed to AIDS.
This happened some years ago, when AIDS was newer to North America, before the drugs we have today, when it was largely received as a death sentence, when its effects were necessarily horrendous and obscene. This is a true story told with jarring honesty. This is in fact her diary.
I warn you, if you read this book you will befriend these people. You will love them. And what happens to them will hurt you. It will scar. You’ll never forget these people.
Nothing I can say could oversell this book’s impact. It’s devastating. There is no logical reason why I should recommend it, why anyone should want to put themselves through it.
And yet I do recommend it above all other books – and to anyone. To everyone. I don’t know if I can explain why, except to suggest that for all the drain, there is a kind of reward to ultimately be gained; a strengthening of one’s bond to humankind.
I hereby tag the following fellow book-freaks. Cheers!
Graham Glass: http://grahamglass.blogs.com/main/
Heida Biddle: http://heidas.typepad.com/heidas/
Ty Johnston: http://tyjohnston.blogspot.com/
Thursday, October 11, 2007
So I have to pass this on to my four bestest blog friends 'cause they totally live up to the whole shmoozery thing. They are Babs, Kats, Claudia and Davey-boy, My four unpaid psychiatrists who help me get along. Okay, three unpaid psychiatrists and one sly, razor-tongued devil who knows which buttons to push in order to keep me alert and with my wits about me. Also a noble service.
Claudia's already got one but she can have as many as she wants.
Okay, get out your needle and thread, kids...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Pork chops seasoned overnight
Grilled eggplant with rosemary
Steve-o’s vegetable salad with Paul Newman’s spicy Tai dressing
A barely workable Riesling Gewürztraminer from one of the shittier Ontario wineries
A very decent cigar
A snort of Three grain whisky from Forty Creek
Premium balcony weather
The climactic chapters from an early 1900’s French novel by Georges Bernanos
The wedding day of my very excellent cousin, Lisa. I discover that an older but hardly worn dress shirt and jacket, each previously outgrown both fit me once again. Much cause for celebration! I pack my dress clothes and a travel bag and depart, stealing a slice of Steve-o’s blueberry French toast for a quick breakky while he’s not looking.
The ex is away on vacation yet again (an almost bi-monthly event) so of course the illicit sweetheart and I are looking after the fishpond and cats and making ourselves very much at home. I stop in on the way to the ceremony and my heart skips a beat upon entry. It’s a continual amazement that after three years I’m still prone to butterflies just walking into the same room as the I.S. I thought physical attraction is supposed to fade with time?
The visit is too short. So is my necktie after the second attempt. The third attempt suffices as I can’t be bothered to go on. I.S. fixes my collar for me and I’m off to the very humble little Lutheran church in Grimsby.
My tiny little grandma spots me immediately and beckons me over for the obligatory kiss. She praises my appearance of course. Strictly mandatory grandma-grandson behavior.
“Yeah, I clean up pretty good, eh?”
The groom is a charming young gentleman with son, Tyler, perhaps four years old. He’s decked out in miniature tux and leads an equally resplendent flower girl down the aisle. She is Emily, perhaps two years old, the daughter of the bride’s sister (and bridesmaid) who is a month a way from bringing her second bun out of the oven and is dressed in the wedding party theme burnt-orange and fearing for all the world that she looks precisely like a pumpkin.
And she did. I can’t tell a lie. I’m committed to honest reporting.
So the kidlets proceed down the aisle with Emily’s head unwaveringly turned to the bride-side of the congregation. All eyes are upon hers and hers are as wide as the cosmos. Her smile is one of dazzled wonderment. She’s as hypnotized by the crowd as we are by her. The cute-barrier has been broken wide open. A collective groan escapes us with a burst of camera flashes.
And another escapes us upon Tyler’s response to his inclusion in the marriage ceremony. After the usual vows a second pair is spoken in recognition of the family unit and the child who will live primarily with Dad and the new mom who he already adores. The priest recites it all and the new couple says in chorus, “We will.”
Ditto the child-version. And in a high-pitched earnest little voice; “I will!”
A cute-bomb, as crazy Doctor Lock would say. And the casualties are severe. A hundred and fifty hearts broken, minimum.
Oh wait. I forgot I don’t much like kids. Okay, scrap the last few paragraphs! I’ll deny it all.
The reception begins immediately which seems odd. Apparently the pictures are to be taken at the hall.
What? The hall? What, with the coffee maker and bathroom-arrow signs in the background?
Upon arrival at the hall I immediately understand. It looks like a Mafia stronghold with Italian flag flying and a vast yard stretching out to the lakefront, packed with geometric gardens and old-world style statues, columns and fountain. I shall leave the place unnamed to ensure I’m neither sued nor killed depending on whether my suggestion is false or true!
Post picture-taking we’re all asked to leave the hall so that we may re-enter upon the formation of the receiving line.
“Is that the fire trucks I hear?” I ask, but this garners not a laugh. Not a chortle, giggle or guffaw. Not even a titter or a snort. Nobody likes my fire drill humor. I shall have to yank my fire drill humor from the repertoire.
An excellent time is had.
Dads of each of the betrothed blubber their way through their speeches as their wives stand close for support. The bride’s maid and older sister offers perhaps the best wedding speech I’ve yet heard and both sisters lose it as she speaks of the role of guide and protector being given away to her new love. Great teary stuff!
The young ones dance, the old ones bitch about the music and those of us between drink and drink and smoke (cigars for me) and escape to the gardens for peaceful conversation and a view of the great dark lake and the fabulous distant light show as clouds pulse with illumination from the constant lightning above.
One of the three bartenders is cute and serves all my drinks, trading winning smiles for exorbitant tips. I’m such a sucker for a pretty face it’s sick.
My biological father and his wife offer me a ride back to their place later which is great since it’s only a short walk from their place to the ex’s house where the I.S. hopefully awaits. But the offer is apparently forgotten as they mysteriously disappear a while later. Maybe they got in a fight or something. Oh well. Easy come, easy go.
I do make it back though, sodden with the fallout of the days heavy emotions, to discover, tragically, the absence of the I.S. who also has major wedding commitments for the weekend so I’m not surprised. What surprises me though, is the extent of my affection and the rare yearning as I recline in the hot tub alone, gazing at the few sad available stars and then go quietly to bed alone.
I don’t want to be in love right now. This is not a good time for that crap.
Off to Caledon for the family thanksgiving celebration. There are just four of us. Me, Mom, Dad (step-dad, the real dad) and brother.
We spend the first couple hours watching mom feed peanuts to their hoard of chipmunks, namely Shorty, Tiogi, Timmy and some new guy as yet unnamed. These critters are not shy. They’ll climb right into your pocket to retrieve a nut. They’ll climb right up onto your chest and glare at you eye to eye, a reprimand for not having a nut available.
Mom, Dad and Brother watch TV while my fragile attention rotates between them, their occasional conversation, my book and the TV which is showing mostly baseball games and some unreality show called Kid Nation that strikes me as fascinating for its astounding lack of substance.
Folks, In all sincerity, my family desperately needs to be rescued from our descent into holiday doldrums. Any advice would be wildly appreciated!
Back to the ex’s house for an extended romp with the I.S. An afternoon of pure bliss. I’ll spare you the recreational details but I must confess, it’s the cuddling I cherish most. I realize that’s not a traditionally masculine value but it’s true. I’m a big sissy that way.
Apologies for being lazy and not taking pictures. Oh – of the wedding and chipmunks I mean. Yikes.
So how was your weekend?
Saturday, October 06, 2007
After backing the damn frog up to 295 again post-vacation, I've apparently made up some ground. Once again Freak Magnet Dave and I have weighed in identically. The kudos is his though, having come down from a much greater mass originally. Today I have a wedding to attend and will be wearing a shirt and jacket that I previously outgrew! Sweet.
I've promised myself I'll join a gym as soon as my raise comes through. Don't let me weasel out!
Friday, October 05, 2007
And it did.
But given that two very decent friends had endorsed the book as well as the technically superior writing talent so far displayed - meaning David James Duncan is an expert wordsmith; actual storytelling prowess is another, more delicate matter - I granted it one more chance and tackled another chapter.
Duncan's ability to entertain through biting humor and cynicism seemed his strong point; strength not easily played to in the subtle show-don't-tell superior writing style. So I forgave him his unfortunate but appropriate tell-don't-show style choice and settled in, resigned to enjoying the laughs and the rather pedestrian wisdom while remaining on the outside, looking in.
The writing is intelligent without needing to prove itself such with verbose complexity. Except that the vocabulary is deep. I needed a dictionary handy.
The early content, insightful but without profundity, had me making assumptions about the author's depth of character, but which in hindsight I should have only been making about the hero's depth of character. For the narrator's voice began to migrate - not acquiring greater wisdom concerning the absurdities he earlier spurned too aggressively, but rather drifting into a philosophical state, exploring mystic and spiritual ideas.
So perhaps the work, all centered upon one man's river-bound existence, is - if not entirely fiction - an allegory. A condensation of the author's intellectual evolution - or even that of a society. But I find allegory tiresome to consider, so arbitrary and manipulable and prone to treachery it is.
There are numerable references to smoking at key moments so I'm tempted to write off the work as the musings of a doper who reads too much spiritualism into his trips.
But I do recommend the book. If you're open to any mysticism whatsoever, be it gods, ghosts, psychic activity, reincarnation, energy transference - you name it - i.e. if you're almost anyone on the planet but me - you'll find many useful ideas here presented intelligently and with laudable objectivity.
But if you're currently demanding a novel of subtlety in which you can participate and be transported, this isn't quite it.
Monday, October 01, 2007
To further protest - I'm subletting space here for her excellent cat pics.
[Editor's note: In other words he's stealing her material.]
So here we go. It's simple. We got some stuff (in this case some kind of demonic rubber duck). We got Claudia's cat. And we got some vague yellow numerals. So there. Enjoy!