Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Reading between the lines

As always, as I start find things to do with my free time, the blog is the first thing to suffer. There's something wrong with that.

12:30 a.m. is not the best time to write.

Or maybe it is. Maybe you're more honest at 12:30 in the morning, with a couple of pints in your belly, and a rye and coke at your side as you sit at the computer, waiting for the dryer to buzz so you can go to bed and not wonder if the stupid dryer is going to burst into flames while you sleep.

Had a script reading tonight, for the movie I'm shooting this summer. Not with the actors. Well, with *one* of the three primary actors. Who, much to my glee, was not alienated after reading through the entire script. Hooray!

Reading went well, though I'm still not 100% sure what I was trying to get out of it. I made a few script notes, but mostly minor things -- typos and lines that were either awkward to read, or sounded awkward being read. And there's about half of a scene -- the first scene, actually -- that I think I'll be rewriting. Which doesn't come as a big surprise, as I probably wrote it a couple of years before the 90% of the script that I finished in the last few months. It feels different. And not in a good way.

Oh, and I also discovered that I loved the way my lead actor's voice sounded on a lot of the lines in the second half of the script. Not a bad thing to discover.

Also, it was pretty much mutually decided that "I'll take the gum too," is the best line in the script. I know it doesn't look like much out of context, but coming at the end of the what goes on in that scene...it's priceless, if I do say so myself.

Oh, and somebody tonight said, "You need to have sex; with somebody else," to me, which pretty much takes the award for harshest criticism I've heard in a long fucking time.

True, maybe. But still harsh.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Stickage #4


Stickman Drama #4 is available now.


Saturday, June 26, 2004

My favourite word of the moment is...


Previous favourite words include "spleen" and "consumer".

Holy late audio posts...

They're a week late, by my count, and while there would have no great loss to the blogosphere if they had never shown up, you now have the opportunity to hear my former in-laws drunkenly comment on the wonder that is "Stick Figure Drama." And then you can hear me drunkenly test the audio blogging system.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Just another random post


I was originally going to write tonight about how easy it is to hide your self-pity and low self esteem behind liquor, and how it's a terrible habit and something I need to seriously stop doing. But then I bought a six-pack after work, so maybe this isn't the time for that sort of thing.

The screenplay's coming together fairly well. I've been off it for a couple of days, knowing I needed just a few more scenes in it, but not sure what they were. So I let it bounce around in my head for awhile, and as is usually the case, the answer went and showed up all on its own today.

So tonight has seen the addition of a few more scenes. And now I think I'm about as close to a complete first draft as I'm going to get.


Now I just need to sit down with a couple of people for a script reading, so I can just close my eyes, and listen to their voices, and see if it all *works*. See which lines sound wrong or artificial. See which scenes need padding and which need to be cut, which scenes need to have something new stuck after them and before the following scene. Fuel for a second draft / polish.

I'm amazingly thrilled to have this piece almost complete, after realizing today that it was close to six or seven years ago that the idea first struck me.

I'll never understand the logic -- if there is any -- behind which ideas stick with me over the years, and which ones just drift away. I have plenty of ideas in my head that have been there for years, some more than a decade. But surely there have been even more ideas that strike fast and hard, then fade, never to return.

Is there any logic to it? Any pattern?

I'd like to think that it's only the really, really good ideas that stick with me. But unfortunately that's probably not the truth. There probably isn't any logic to it. Just a question of which chunks of grey matter get used.

Still, it's always incredibly gratifying to finish something that has been with you for years, poking at your brain, whispering in your brain, saying, "Finish me! Finish me!"

Finished a short story last Christmas that I had first thought of right around the same time that the idea for the screenplay occurred to me -- six or seven years ago.

I don't know what it was that brought me to the story last December, but it was clearly the right time to do it, as I burned my way through the whole thing in two or three days.

Two or three days, after six or seven years of marinating the idea.

It seems like an anti-climax, but it's not.

It doesn't matter how long the actual writing takes -- days or weeks or years -- coming to the end of an idea that has plagued you for years is just about as climactic as you can get.

Speaking of big climaxes from something begun years before...

I occurred to me this morning that I'm within a few days of crossing a threshold that I knew would eventually come, but one I never gave much thought to, because it was just too...weird.

I got married in the middle of October in the year 1997.

We separated in Mid-February of 2001.

We were married and together for 3 years and four months.

We have been married and separated for 3 years and four months.

Which means that any day now -- if it hasn't happened already -- I will have been married while separated for more time that I was married and together with my wife.

How weird is that?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Change

Tomorrow, I'm getting a new desk. I'm swapping the desk in my home office for a co-worker's desk.

She wants drawers, but doesn't have any. Her desk has quite a bit more surface space than mine, and that's what I need more than anything else.

So a swap seems like a perfectly good idea to me.

She hasn't actually seen my desk, so I'm a little wary about doing the trade site-unseen, but all she says is, "If it's got drawers, I'll like it," so I guess, even if that turns out to be a false statement, it'd be her problem and not mine.

The new desk will also force me to do a little tidying in my office, which has been desperate need of it for probably close to six months.

It will also, hopefully, encourage me to continue my current slow-but-steady writing pace. It might suddenly be fun to sit at my desk again, now that it's not going to be the same bloody desk I've been sitting at for ten years.

It's surprising what a fresh environment can do for you.

I'm lusting for this desk. Sad and sick, but true.

Monday, June 21, 2004


We all want to be loved, I think that's fair to say.

I think it's just as fair to say that, in spite of how hard the mass media tries to convince us of the unlikelihood, we all want to be loved just the way we are.

Sure, there's always room for improvement, and we all know that. That's why I've been thinking of quiting smoking again, why I've been trying to convince myself to get up early enough in the morning to get onto the treadmill. But the fact that there's room for improvement is simply a factor of the human condition. It isn't a fault in our characters or who we are as a person.

Unless we start listening to the media.

The same media that uses bikini-clad blondes to sell beer. The same media that makes us feel like a lower-class citizen if we don't have the fastest car or the shiniest credit card. The same media that has us convinced that watching a group of average women subject themselves to plastic surgery and personal training so that they can compete against each other is entertainment.

The same media that -- at least locally -- tried to convince female graduates that unless they forked out $70 for their special day, would attend graduation as a plain, ordinary, boring Rageddy Anne doll. And those that did hand over the cash?

They'd be Barbie.

I'm not sure exactly what troubled me more about this advertisement -- the fact that in the 21st century we should be doen with this kind of easy, stereotypical, fear-mongering; or the fact that it was directed at young women, a chunk of population already dealing with enough image and self-esteem issues.

I couldn't get the advertisement out of my head as I watched "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" last week -- a film about anorexia told, quite intentionally, using Barbie dolls as the principal actors. And told quite beautifully and brilliantly.

Statistically, if Barbie were to be blown up to actual size, her measurements would be 39-23-33.

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that those measurements aren't even remotely human.

I was chatting with a friend on ICQ the day after I watched "Superstar" and she pointed out that while, yes, there are certainly plenty of women who have body and self-image issues, there are also plenty of happy, healthy women who grew up playing with Barbie dolls.

This is true.

But I don't think that excuses an advertisement that, by design, implies that unless you're able to walk in Barbie's shoes there's something wrong with you.

Look, I've worked in advertising for more than a decade. And while I'll be the first to confess that it's mostly just stupid, meaningless, $2.00-off-a-bar-of-soap, weekly newspaper kind of advertising, I think the industry is the same wherever you go -- whether you're working at the Chetwynd Echoe or Young and Rubicam. You have a product to sell, and I'm going to do whatever I can to sell it for you.

But there's a responsibility that I think we all have to live up in the media -- again, whether you're at a crappy, small-town newspaper or working Madison Avenue in New York -- and that is to never forget that there are real people on the other side of your words. Real people who react to the message you send. React badly, sometimes.

It's easy to forget about them, and it gets easier as each year slips by, but they're always there. Always reading. Being nudged this way, affected that, formed and changed and manipulated into whatever it is that we, in the media, in the advertising industry, think they should be.

And it's sick. And it's got to stop.

I thought that by leaving cable-television behind and ignoring 99% of Internet advertising, I could keep myself away from most of it, keep it from affecting me. And then it slithers its way into my simple local newspaper. And it sits in the back of my brain, eating at me like a cancer, demanding that I do something, that I say something about it at the very least. Because I can.

So I will.

And this is what I'll say.

There's nothing wrong with being Raggedy-Anne. To the Raggedy-Anne's of the world, you are just as important and valid as the Barbie dolls of the world.

But there is always room for improvement.

The lesson is that you shouldn't strive to make yourself what the media tells you to be, but rather what you know you *should* be. Because you can be anything you want. Raggedy-Anne, Barbie, GI Joe or My Pet Monster.

So quit smoking, get on the treadmill, lift weights, write a novel, paint a picture, eat more vegetables, clean your house more often, cut your toenails, try a new kind of shampoo, call an old friend, buy a drink for a complete stranger, eat something you've never tried before, learn a new operating system, buy a CD instead of downloading music, take a walk in the park at sunset, smell the rain, touch a tree, taste a rock, hug someone, tell someone that you love them, drink hot chocolate on a Sunday in December, drink a Slurpee on a Saturday in July, stop drinking so much, drink a bit too much now and then, live, change, evolve, define yourself, redefine yourself, and then do it two, three, ten more times until you're happy with who you are, then do it some more because, who knows, you might like what you find.

But do it for yourself. And do it following your own heart and your own dreams and your own passions.

Do it because that's what it means to be alive.

And fuck what anyone else tells you. And double-fuck what the TV and newspaper tell you too.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Still no Barbies

Too tired and mildly hungover to be any more than mildly coherent, so the Barbie post (which does require a certain degree of coherence, I think, as it's going to rub at least one person the wrong way -- not that I'm concerned, as I don't expect that wrongly-rubbed person to be reading this) is going to have wait for another day.

Instead...I'll write, pretty much, for the sake of writing.

I opened up and used this goofy McDonald's straw that I had kept in its shrink-wrapped packaging since I got it a couple of years ago. I bought in Quesnel on one of our first trips up there to get the new paper up and running just to be a silly twit, and then I've kept it hermetically sealed for, like, almost two years.

It's cool. It's red, and kind of shaped like the McDonald's "M" so that when you drink through it, you can see you beverage kind of fly around in loop-de-loops before it gets to your mouth.

Anyway, for some reason tonight I decided that Coke tastes better when drank through a straw, so I had to tear the package open take my pristine, untouched, mint-condition McDonald's straw out for a spin.

Probably would have been worth $20.00 on ebay in another 25 years, but fuck that. Things are meant to be used, not stored hermetically. Comic books should be read, actions figures should be played with, and straws should be sucked on.

Tried to watch some quality old television on my computer tonight, but it was too goddamned hot in my office (which is conveniently located in the top floor of the house). I gave up after half the show and went down to the mildly cooler main floor to watch Rules of Attraction again, because I was incredibly surprised by how much I liked it the first time I watched it.

The director, Roger Avery, has a web site -- complete with journal / blog -- that he maintains all on his own. Fun stuff.

Now I'm blogging because I feel like I should, even though I'm not going to talk about Barbie, and don't actually have anything of substance to say. I'm watching Coke drip out of the end of my swirly McDonald's straw and drip onto a napkin I've placed beneath the leak. Did I get a defective straw, or are they all like this?


I missed out on my Barbie post last night, as I accidently spent the evening getting hammered and trying to get my ex-inlaws to drunkenly audioblog to this site.

Strangely enough, the audioblogs aren't here.

Do you suppose that has anything to do with the liquor?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

How am I doin'?

I was going to write about Barbie dolls tonight, but then realized that wouldn't make as much sense until after my column appears in tomorrow's Weekender. So the Barbie post is on hold until then.

Instead, I want to draw your attention to a great post over at Tony Pierce's site on how to blog -- a list of 30 things to keep in mind when blogging.

Now, I know it's not a question and answer kind of thing, but I want to respond to each of them anyway, because it seems like a perfectly good excuse for self-analysis.

Please excuse the massive chunks of pasted material.

Okay, here we go.

1. write every day.

I'm trying, and have maintained a pretty good average in the last few weeks, I think, after initially posting in fits and starts a few months back.

2. if you think youre a good writer, write twice a day.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For some reason, it feels overindulgent to write more than once a day. Maybe it's just knowing that I'm not exactly sucking in the visitors right now, and the more I write during this dry period means more catching up readers will have to do if they should stumble upon my blog in the months and years to come. Of course, that's assuming anyone wants to go digging through the ol' archives...

Besides, I'd probably write a lot more if my back wasn't to the door in my office at work.

3. dont be afraid to do anything. infact if youre afraid of something, do it. then do it again. and again.

This is a toughie, and a big part of the reason I was ranting about the joys of anonymous blogging awhile back. Still, this remains something worth working on, because I completely agree -- it's the stuff that we're afraid of saying that is the most important to try to communicate.

4. cuss like a sailor.

I'm fucking trying.

5. dont tell your mom, your work, your friends, the people you want to date, or the people you want to work for about your blog. if they find out and you'd rather they didnt read it, ask them nicely to grant you your privacy.

Once again, a concern covered in my rant about anonymous blogging. So far I haven't told too many people that I know personally about the blog, but I do advertise it in my column. Now, if only column readers come to visit, they're already people who know me only through words, so they'd be less inclined to try for an intervention if I were to really open up in this spot. A few people who know me personally have visited, but so far it's not so many that I'm worried about what they might think. Even knowing that I shouldn't worry at all about what other people think.

6. have comments. dont be upset if no one writes in your comments for a long time. eventually they'll write in there. if people start acting mean in your comments, ask them to stop, they probably will.

Comments, check -- first thing I turned on after the big Blogger redesign / update. I'm not getting tons, but at least the option's there for people, and that's the most important thing. And Internet site built around one-way communication is stupid and boring.

7. have an email address clearly displayed on your blog. sometimes people want to tell you that you rock in private.

E-mail address clearly displayed, check. Though, so far, no one's used it.

So, he, if you're reading this -- click on the e-mail link and send me a message, just so I know it works. If you're not sure what to write, just call me a jackass -- that's what I usually call myself when I e-mail my home-based account to work to remind myself what I need to do at home at night.

8. dont worry very much about the design of your blog. image is a fakeout.

As a graphic designer by trade, it's a little painful to *not* try to design a pretty blog layout. Unfortunately, by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is more design work. So, at least for the moment, I'm sticking with this very functional blogger template.

Not sure if image is necessarily a fake-out, but I've definitely seen enough beautiful blogs with dreadful content.

9. use Blogger. it's easy, it's free; and because they are owned by Google, your blog will get spidered better, you will show up in more search results, and more people will end up at your blog. besides, all the other blogging software & alternatives pretty much suck.

Blogger? Check.

10. use spellcheck unless youre completely totally keeping it real. but even then you might want to use it if you think you wrote something really good.

Oh, this one I'm bad for, and I have no bloody excuse -- there's a stupid spell-check button right at the top of my blogger posting interface. I've just gotten lazy and used to having an editor for my newspaper column. Terrible, terrible excuse, I know. I'm such a lazy fucker.

11. say exactly what you want to say no matter what it looks like on the screen. then say something else. then keep going. and when youre done, re-read it, and edit it and hit publish and forget about it.

I haven't done this relentlessly, but there have been a couple of times when I've started out saying one thing and found myself, at the end, talking about something else entirely. It's a fun experience, and definitely one I should dig for more often.

12. link like crazy. link anyone who links you, link your favorites, link your friends. dont be a prude. linking is what seperates bloggers from apes. and especially link if you're trying to prove a point and someone else said it first. it lends credibility even if youre full of shit.

Another one I don't do often enough, and again there's no reason for it. Links are what makes the Internet go 'round -- I've known that for years. Need to start taking advantage of it more.

13. if you havent written about sex, religion, and politics in a week youre probably playing it too safe, which means you probably fucked up on #5, in which case start a second blog and keep your big mouth shut about it this time.

Not sure if I've ever written about sex or politics, and I only remember one entry on religion. So I guess I fucked up on #5. Which I don't think surprised me, even when I was at #5.

As for a second blog...it's still an issue that's gurgling around in my head. It's tempting, just to be able to let loose on any issue I want to talk about without any fear. Unfortunately, I've always believed that those are the very ideas that you should be able to sign your name to.

More thought on the second blog issue to very likely occur in the next few weeks.

14. remember: nobody cares which N*Sync member you are, what State you are, which Party of Five kid you are, or which Weezer song you are. the second you put one of those things on your blog you need to delete your blog and try out for the marching band. similarilly, nobody gives a shit what the weather is like in your town, nobody wants you to change their cursor into a butterfly, nobody wants to vote on whether your blog is hot or not, and nobody gives a rat ass what song youre listening to. write something Real for you, about you, every day.

Never done one of those stupid quizzes, thank God -- well, I've never posted my results, at any rate.

Never wrote about the weather, my site doesn't change your cursor, and I'm not on a blog hot or not. But goddammit, I want to let people know what song I'm listening to! I don't even know why! But I WANT to!

15. dont be afraid if you think something has been said before. it has. and better. big whoop. say it anyway using your own words as honestly as you can. just let it out.

If I've never read the piece that the idea originally appeared in, then I have no qualms about repeating somebody else's idea. As long as I can feel like I'm communicating an original idea for the first time, that's all it takes to keep me happy.

16. get Site Meter and make it available for everyone to see. if you're embarrassed that not a lot of people are clicking over to your page, dont be embarrassed by the number, be embarrassed that you actually give a crap about hits to your gay blog. it really is just a blog. and hits really dont mean anything. you want Site Meter, though, to see who is linking you so you can thank them and so you can link them back. similarilly, use Technorati, but dont obsess. write.

Crap, why couldn't I have read this last week? I was looking for a counter service, and ended up opting for StatCounter. Anyone know if there's a big difference between them? Because if Site Meter is that much better, I'll switch over.

17. people like pictures. use them. save them to your own server. or use Blogger's free service. if you dont know how to do it, learn. also get a Buzznet account. several things will happen once you start blogging, one of them is you will learn new things. thats a good thing.

No pictures as of yet, though I posted a whack of them on the Studio Theatre blog. I opted to do my own hosting instead of going through Buzznet, just because I like the notion of having control over where they go and how long they stay there.

18. before you hit Save as Draft or Publish Post, select all and copy your masterpiece. you are using a computer and the internet, shit can happen. no need to lose a good post.

*VERY* good advice. I've nearly lost a post a couple of times now, and nothing gets my teeth grinding like losing data. Thankfully, in each case the post as ended up surviving. Unfortunately, because I've enver actually lost anything, I haven't actually learned to stick a copy in my clipboard just to be safe.

19. push the envelope in what youre writing about and how youre saying it. be more and more honest. get to the root of things. start at the root of things and get deeper. dig. think out loud. keep typing. keep going. eventually you'll find a little treasure chest. every time you blog this can happen if you let it.

Been trying, as much as I can in a non-anonymous blog. Still, this is again something to work on.

Actually, next week's Stick Figure Drama will probably the most honest I've been in any published medium in a long fucking time. Not sure if that's a good thing, or incredibly, incredibly sad.

20. change your style. mimic people. write beautiful lies. dream in public. kiss and tell. finger and tell. cry scream fight sing fuck and dont be afraid to be funny. the easiest thing to do is whine when you write. dont be lazy. audblog at least once a week.

Haven't fucked with my style too much. It's just too easy to write in my own, natural voice. Of course, the important word there would be "easy," I think.

Funny? I try it now and then. It's not for me to decide how successful or not I am.

As for audioblogging, just got it set up. Waiting for another excuse to take it out for a spin.

21. write open letters. make lists. call people out on their bullshit. lead by example. invent and reinvent yourself. start by writing about what happened to you today. for example today i told a hot girl how wonderfully hot she is.

Great suggestions. Haven't done any of them yet.

22. when in doubt review something. theres not enough reviews on blogs. review a movie you just saw, a tv show, a cd, a kiss you just got, a restaurant, a hike you just took, anything.

Again, haven't done much in the review department -- wrote a review in my column for this week, which I could just copy and paste over to this here spot, but that'd be cheating.

23. constantly write about the town that you live in.

This is one that really got me when I read it, because I don't think I ever really have, which is weird, because it should be so obvious. Pretty much I've restricted myself to writing about what's going in my head instead of what's going on outside of it, in the word around my head. It's so painfully obvious, but I just didn't see it!

24. out yourself. tell your secrets. you can always delete them later.

I once met a stripper / escort on an online dating site, and took a roadtrip to meet her for a date. She didn't like me much, I don't think, and I never heard from her again. She was hella-hot though. Which I guess comes with the job.

There. That's a secret I don't think I've ever told more than a tiny handful of people.

Whew, that felt good. Gotta do that more often.

25. dont use your real name. dont write about your work unless you dont care about getting fired.

My real name? Crap, too late for that.

I mean...what, Todd? No, don't be silly, that's my...ah. pseudonym. My real name is...um...Hector.

26. dont be afraid to come across as an asswipe. own your asswipeness.

Not sure if it's ever occured to me to be afraid of coming off as an asswipe. Also not sure if that's because I was legitimately not afraid, or because avoiding asswipeness had somehow become an unconscious thing...

27. nobody likes poems. dont put your poems on your blog. not even if theyre incredible. especially if theyre incredible. odds are theyre not incredible. bad poems are funny sometimes though, so fine, put youd dumb poems on there. whatever.

No poems, ever. That's a promise.

28. tell us about your friends.

I have a few. Don't see them very often right now. Not much to talk about. Well, except for work friends, but apparently they're second-class friends.

No, they're not, not really -- I was just reminded of something my ex-wife said years ago. I'll tell you about it some other time. Long, ugly, complicated story.

29. dont apologize about not blogging. nobody cares. just start blogging again.

Good advice.

30. read tons of blogs and leave nice comments.

Gotta work on the leaving comments thing, but I'm reading as much as I can, always.

Okay, that's it, done. I'm not going to go back and count, but I feel not too bad about how I'm doing so far. There's definitely room for improvement -- isn't there always? -- but I'm sure I hit more than 50%, maybe even as many as 70%.

Now, let's get the fuck out of this monster-sized post, okay?

And yes, for the record, I amping up the cussing thanks to suggestion #4. Can't fucking hurt.

PS: Just ran blogger's built-in spellcheck on this post. Any idea why blogger's built-in spellcheck doesn't know the word "Blog"? Seems kind of weird.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Stick Figure Drama #3

Okay, as promised, here is the third installment of Stick Figure Drama.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004


New Stick Figure Drama will be posted tomorrow or Thursday. Just finished next week's cartoon. And I've gotta admit...

...I'm having more fun with this than I've had with anything I've done in years.

Long live the stick!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Literary Intimacy

I miss writing with a pen. On paper.

I used to write longhand incessantly. Everything I wrote, I wrote longhand. I wrote entire novels long hand, then went back and retyped them in the computer, rewriting as I went -- fixing this little thing, altering that little thing.

That was probably the last time I consciously did rewrites, save this past year as I've worked at adapting one of my short stories into a play.

There's a wonderful intimacy when you're writing long hand. Something about the way you can feel the paper underneath your hand as your write, the way you can actually see the ink appear, and then dry a few seconds later. Some days I'd write so fast, that my hand would be on the next line before the previous line was dry, and I'd end up with a smudge along the bottom of my hand, from dragging it over the still-wet ink.

The only problem with longhand, is that it's not terribly practical for me.

I wrote a piece longhand a few months back after a power outage. I had nothing to do but sit in my house and stare out the window and *think*. So I just grabbed a pen, a notepad, and a candle and started to write down what I was thinking about.

I wrote for probably close to two hours. A few days later, mostly liking what I wrote, I sat down and transcribed it into the computer. When I was done, I scrolled back to seem how much writing it had been, and it was...short.

Not *short* short, but not as long as I had expected it to be from the time I invested in it.

It was disappointing, to say the least.

I finally had to come to the conclusion a few years ago that, even if it wasn't quite as intimate, even if it left me feeling somehow disconnected from the material that I was writing, I was a typist, no way around it. I've been typing for years, and can simply do it significantly faster than I can write longhand.

It's a trade-off -- intimacy for speed -- I admit. But it's one, I guess, I'm willing to make. I'd like to find a project, though -- the right project, which hasn't really shown itself to me yet -- to tackle longhand again. Just to have that intimacy back, if only for a short time.

And let's just leave it at that, because I just realized that I've used the word "intimacy" a whole bunch of times while talking about paper.

That just seems wrong.

Sunday, June 13, 2004


As we approach the end June, I am also rapidly approaching the half-way mark of what is intended to be the last year that I will write my column, Caught in the 'Net.

No second thoughts as of yet. Of course the finale is still half a year away, and it probably hasn't really completely sunk in yet that I'm going to bring this to an end.

Talk to me in October and see how I'm feeling. If it's still "Full speed ahead!" on the retirement, then I guess it's a go. But if there's going to be regrets, they'll probably happen by late fall.

October will also be the date that I celebrate the 10th anniversary of Caught in the 'Net. I don't plan on trying to match the exact date of the first publication -- I'm just going to pick a day that seems convenient for me, sometime in October, and invite anyone who's ever read my column to come out and raise a glass with me.

I'm not expecting much of a turnout. But, you know, I think it's nice enough that I plan to make the gesture, y'know?

At it's peak, the column was running in five different newspapers simultaneously. And I think, over the course of it's life, it has found a home in about ten different publications (including two different newspaper here in WL, and a paper in Merritt that ran sample columns for a few weeks without permission...)

There was a time when I dreamed of syndication. I couldn't think of anything better than getting this thing into enough paying markets that all I had to do for a living was write one column a week. I mean, c'mon...could anything be better than that? You fuck around for six days out of the week, and when the seventh comes...ooh, better buckle down and write a few hundred words.

It's still an appealing idea, to be honest. Unfortunately there's sure to be at least one internet junkie in each community who's easily as qualified as I am to write a column. I've had the column advertised at the BC / Yukon Community Newspaper Association web site for a couple of years now, and haven't had a single response, so clearly papers aren't desperate to get their hands on the material.

Too bad. It'd be a nice schedule.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

What rowdy friends?

It's Saturday night, just about 6:30. Opened a beer. Just ordered a pizza because my stomach has begun to devour itself and there is no food in the house.

And so it goes, on another Saturday night. Sitting at home, staring at the computer screen.

I work weekends. I've worked them for last 2+ years, I think I've mentioned that.

I fucking hate it. I think I've mentioned that too.

At first, it was no big deal. Sure, yeah, I can work Saturdays and Sundays. I don't go out much, so it won't impact my social life terribly, and if that's what we need to do to get the paper out on time, well then...

Two years later, and even if I wanted to go out, I couldn't. Even if I wanted to play at having a social life, there's not time for it. So instead, I sit here, staring at the computer screen, wondering where the heck it was that I made the wrong choice. Because it must've been somewhere.

What's really eating at me right now, is that I have another choice, or maybe choices depending on how you look at it, looming on me. And I can feel the hot, diseased breath on my neck, just begging for me to make the wrong one.

But you never know what the wrong one is until it's too late. Do you?

I can't talk about these choices in any great deatil. A reminder of the joys of anonymity, I guess. All I can say is this:

Something that I've wanted for the last two years is finally at my doorstep. And now that it's here, I look at it, and I really don't give a shit if I get it or not.

Two years of patience and now -- who cares.

Makes me wonder if it's even the right decision?

It's not a bad decision, really. Even if I don't care about it, it's something that could prove beneficial down the road. The only problem I'm having is that it's impacting my ability to make another, completely unrelated decision.

And the whole stupid, sorry situation is making me sick. I've felt nautious for almost two weeks straight, and I don't expect things to get any better anytime soon.

The worst thing is that, as much as I like having this outlet, I get sick and tired of listening to myself bitch and complain. But it doesn't seem like anything else can come out of my mouth lately.

I'm not happy. I'm about as not-happy as I've been in a lot of years, and it's starting to take its toll on me. I started thinking today for the first time about therapy and councilling and trying to get some help, because some days -- like today -- I'm not completely sure that I'm capable of making it on my own.

The thing about therapy is this: It's not so much that I need someone to tell me what my problems are. I feel like I'm pretty self-aware and have a pretty good idea of what's going on up in my head. I know why I'm stressed, why I feel nautious, why I'm miserable. What I need is for someone to tell me what to do about it. And something more constructive than "Cheer up," or "It'll get better," or "Suck it down, sissy-freak." Or whatever.

Of course, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'd need to overcome my troubles opening up to people before a therapist can do any good. Because they're only as valuable as the information you give them. And I have a strong tendency to keep that kind of stuff right where it's at -- warm and wet, right next to my spleen.

Friday, June 11, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

There's something you have to understand...

There's something perverse about writing.

There's this weird, awkward little dance of intimacy that happens between the writer and reader. It happens when the writer is trying to communicate something that is real and true, and when the reader isn't sure how to react because it's been so long since he saw someone making the effort to communicate something like that.

This is what writing -- what *real* writing -- is all about.

I've spent a lot of time not writing like that.

The only real, published, read-by-an-audience writing that I've done is my column -- Caught in the 'Net. It is because of that, and that alone, that I dare ever refer to myself, even in jest, as an actual writer. I can, if I choose to -- I've been paid for the column, thereby making me a professional in at least one definition of the word.

The problem is this: the columns, generally speaking, aren't communicating anything terribly profound. It's a fucking Internet column. It's about computers and software and whether or not Windows has a new security flaw in it, and it's nothing. It's meaningless. It's fluff. There's nothing profound to be said through it.

And that's okay. It is what it is, and it is something that I've done for almost ten years, and something that's been read for almost ten years. And that's okay.

But it also means that as a writer I've gotten lazy. I've gotten used to just being able to write stupid fluff about the Internet, and feel like I've done my part, contributed in some way.

I haven't.

I wrote a piece a few months ago during a power outage here in town, during which I sat in the sun-room that's just off the master bedroom and thought for too long and too hard about everything that's wrong with the world. And then I printed it the space I have in the newspaper.

I was terrified the day it went to press. Not because there was anything wrong with what I had written, but because there was an actual idea being communicated in it. It wasn't fluff. It wasn't meaningless. I was sharing a piece of myself with the world, whether they liked it or not. And if they were going to criticize or retaliate, then they'd strike right at my soul, because I was vulnerable. I had opened my soul to them.

And that's the way it's supposed to be.

And the fact that I was terrified reminded me of how infrequently I bared my soul -- how infrequently I took chances with the ideas I was communicating. How infrequently I shared the truth about who I am as a person.

And that, I would find myself remembering, is what writing is all about.

So here's the thing you have to understand.

This is my outlet. My one and only outlet where I can speak real and true things. They might not always be happy or pretty. They might not always make sense. But at least from my perspective, they are the truth.

And I've been scared about doing this. About speaking true things, things that matter, things that live in in the soft flesh of my spleen. And I think that I've been scared because this process is so important.

Too many of us sit on these things. We repress them. We eat our own pain, and then wonder why we have indigestion.

Here's the other thing you have to understand.

What I'm putting out here is going to be awkward and difficult at the best of times. If it affects you and moves you, fantastic -- click on the "Comments" button and say so.

Don't come up to me on the street and say, "Hey, loved that brutal and painful piece you wrote the other day. Really spoke the truth, man!"

It's a nice gesture, I agree. But the stuff I want to put out here, the stuff I intend to put out here, is not the kind of stuff I want to talk about. I don't want to talk about it with people I know intimately, let alone complete strangers.

It's nothing personal.

It's just that it's stuff that's not meant to be talked about. If it was, I'd be talking about it. Not writing about it.

So if you read something I wrote, and it moved you, or affected you in some way, great. That's what it's about. That is, hopefully, the idea behind this whole stupid thing. And if you see me on the street and you want to say, "Thank you," or, "Loved the last thing you read," or, "You're a gigantic fucking moron," just don't.

Just think to yourself: "Oh, I kind of thought he'd be taller."

And leave it at that.

What I learned today...

My stick figures in profile don't look as good as my stick figures head-on.

Stick figure drama #3 will appear here not long after the publication of this week's 100 Mile House Advisor (gotta give the print version of it a day or two lead-time, unfortunately).

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Stick figures rock

I am now officially a cartoonist. I won't bore with the details as to why, I only say this: I'm probably about as unqualified a cartoonist as you could possibly find. Which suits me just fine. I love being unqualified.

Keep in mind -- these were actually printed. In actual newspapers.

Keri -- you're now my favourite editor in the whole, wide world.

Stick Figure Drama #1

Stick Figure Drama #2

Sunday, June 06, 2004

His name was Fido.

Years ago -- many, many years ago -- I crafted a simple story that was intended to describe an emotional crisis that I was in the midst of. An allegory, I suppose.

I did it because I've never been terribly good at opening up, at talking about what's going on inside of me.

So now, instead of just sitting down with someone over a beer and saying, "Shit, man, I've been kind of bummed out lately," I write 15 page stories about a culture looking for answers in anti-depressants, and about how -- once you start down that road -- oblivion of some kind is waiting for you at the end of it.

And at the end of the day, I still can't talk about my feelings.

I'd probably be in therapy right now if I thought it'd do any good. But good *would* it do? The whole basis of therapy is the give and take that the patient has with the therapist -- patient talks about feelings, therapist directs conversation to what the real problem might be. Rinse, repeat. But opening up isn't much of an option for me. I sit on my feelings, hold them inside, and one day they're going to just kind of rot and turn into a tumour or an ulcer or an ulcerated tumour. And I'll just keel over and die of repression.

Part of my problem right now, I suppose, is that I have a big gaping wound of free time in my schedule suddenly, with the production of the play finished. I'm sitting here at home far more often than I've been used to lately, staring at my computer screen, staring at the living room, staring at the cluttered storage rooms that should be tidied and turned into something other than bloody storage rooms.

Which is why I've been taking advantage of this blog thing a bit more often than usual this last week. Because I have time on my hands, and needing something to fill it with.

Should have my car back within three weeks. Will that leave me feeling any less isolated, knowing that I could hop behind the wheel and get the hell out of the house if the desire struck me? Or would I feel even more isolated knowing that, even if the desire struck me, I wouldn't?

The name of the character in the story I told years and years ago was Fido. Fido met some cows and the cows turned into giant cockroaches and tried to eat him, and Fido ran away.

It wasn't a very good story, but for some reason it's come slithering back into my brain again. For the life of me, I can't quite completely remember what the intended moral of the story is, and I don't really suppose it matters anymore. It was story meant to represent something I was going through more than a decade ago.

What matters to me know is what the story means today.

And as far as I can tell, it's either about a guy who is terrified of his environment. Or about a guy whose environment is terrifying.

Or maybe it's just about staying the fuck away from cows.

Well, that solves that.

Installed a counter, finally. It's that silly little thing over in the right-hand pane, under the heading "Countage".

It's difficult addressing an invisible audience. Is anyone there? Is anyone not there? At this point, I don't much care one way or the other -- an audience is nice enough, sure, but I'm doing this mostly for my own benefit. They're just...you know, the gravy.

Still, now I can know if I have an audience or not.

Although, for the moment, I've only succeeded in counting the number of times I've viewed the page since installing the counter. And that's too many times, if you ask me.

Is there anybody out there?

Dunno if anyone's reading this. If you are, and if you've tried leaving comments in the past, feel free to try again -- I was mucking about in my settings last night and discovered that it was set to only allow registered Blogger users to comment. That error is now fixed -- anyone dropping by this site is welcome to post a comment.

All three or four of you.

And that's probably an overly optimistic number.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


Well, the palmblogging seems to work. Doesn't appear to post with a heading, which is a minor downer, but that'd be easy enough to log in and edit a post to fix.

The other problem is that I'd probably have to invest in a palm keyboard before the function was even remotely useful -- I may be able to type almost faster than I can talk, but I can talk a whole hell of a lot faster than I can muck around with a stylus.

One thing at a time. For the moment, I feel as if I've elevated myself to a whole new level of geek.
This a test of trying to blog from my palm. Am I a geek or what?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Lie to me.

The things we tell ourselves, in bed at night, with our eyes closed, enclosed in darkness, are different than the things we tell ourselves in the morning. The promises we make to ourselves, when we are on the edge of sleep, as dreams begin to drift in through periphery and things seem, perhaps, a bit better, and hope seems a bit brighter, than it does most of the time -- those promises crumble so easily to dust come morning.

"No, that's too hard," we tell ourselves in the morning.

"No, I can't, I'm scared," we say, silently.

"Don't make me," we whisper to ourselves when we are alone.

Why is it so hard to take life by the neck and throttle it, choke it, shake it until it vomits up what we've been demanding of it for years. Why do we so often refuse to fight for the things we want, instead remaining locked in dark rooms, curled in a ball, weeping at the misery that we ourselves had helped create.

I started a story yesterday about a man who, every once and awhile, stares at his hand for a few moments. I didn't know where the story was going, only that he did this. And why he did this.

Because it reminded him that he was real -- to see his hand, connected to his arm, and then his arm connected to his shoulder, and then his shoulder kind of disappearing at the side of vision, where he knew it connected to his neck, and then his head, which housed the brain that was doing the looking in the first place.

This reminded him that he was real. Because it was so easy to forget.

But what makes us real? Are we real because someone says "Good morning!" to us as we walk past them on the street? Are we real because we stub our toes and feel the sensation of pain climbing like lightning up our legs? These things happen every day, constantly, moment after moment, so...why is it so easy to suddenly wonder if you're really real?

I write, more often than not, to express something that's going on inside me. So, clearly, I have issues with my own tangibility. I feel far too often like I'm not participating, instead sitting quietly in the sidelines, watching everyone else enjoy the game, waiting for my turn at bat, knowing that even if someone hands it to me, I'll sit another round out.

I'm not even sure what it would take to make me feel real. Worse yet, I'm not sure how I'd act if I ever actually felt that way.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Wrote about four pages on my play tonight. I'm still torn about whether it should be a one act or a two -- I was struck tonight by how I wanted to start the second act if I *did* decide to go with two, but I'm not sure I'll actually go in that direction.

Actually, that's probably not true. Easiest to write long and then cut later. I should strive for two, and if the two act structure fails, it shouldn't be too hard to slam the two chunks together into one.

The second act will be hard, structurally, because where, initially, there was the possibility of having two actors on stage, the point in the story where I'm currently on breaking the two acts is when the second character dies, leaving, essentially, a single actor to carry the rest of the show.

I know that's not an impossible task. There are enough plays staring single actors to prove that to me (I read one this year, actually -- Total Body Washout -- lovely little play). But with only one actor on stage, I would expect it to fall even more heavily on the writer to come up with something solidly entertaining. Or profound. Or so brutally ugly that the audience is unable to move from their seats. That's probably the direction I'll go. Brutally ugly is where I'm most comfortable.

Did my terrible cartoon tonight too. Don't even ask why I'm doing a cartoon -- it's a long story. It's called "Stick Figure Drama" and if it runs for longer than four weeks I'll be stunned beyond words.

Still, I think it's important to dabble in as many different mediums as possible. Just to, you know, keep your creative edge *sharp*.

Besides, the cartoon has this weird kind of "private joke" feel to it. Like people are looking at it, and not getting it, and wondering why they don't get it, without realizing that there's nothing to get. And that's the joke. That it's dumb and there's nothing to get, but they're stumbling over it, wondering what it's all about. It's funny because it's *not* funny. But unless someone's pointed out to you that it's not supposed to be funny, you can't really see the humour in it, if you're busy looking for the punchline.

It's like...meta-cartooning or something.

And I know it's sick and wrong to think about that and enjoy the thought. Guess that just makes me sick and wrong. And I guess it makes me even more sick and wrong and to enjoy the thought of my being sick and wrong.

Ow...that made my head hurt.

Anyway, I think the point -- way back up near the top of this post, when I was still pretending to be making one -- is that sometime's it's not the destination, it's the journey. It doesn't so much matter how good your cartoon looks when you're done with it, as long as you created something. And I created something today. A few things, actually. Far more than I've created in a single day for quite awhile.

And that's left me feeling pretty gosh darn good.

Though, sadly, not completely good. Still wishing for a therapist. Or an anonymous blog. Or a 50" plasma TV...

I won't tell you my name, if you don't tell me yours.

I think I'm beginning to understand the appeal of an anonymous blog.

It's been a tough issue for me, actually. I've long believed that if you feel something strongly enough, you should have no problem attaching your name to those beliefs. You should be able to proudly declare the things you believe in -- standing straight, chest pushed out, brow furrowed in intense intensity.

Freedom of a speech is a gift. One that we should take advantage of each and every day, if only to ensure that it those who might wish to take it from us have as hard a struggle as possible.

Here's the problem.

It would be nice if the blog could be more than just a place to go and share your opinions. It'd be nice if I could use this as a replacement for, say, a therapist.

You go to a therapist so you can talk about the things that are on your mind, stressing you out, poking at your brain, and you want to talk to someone who isn't going to be judgemental. Someone's who is just going to listen to you, let you get the stuff out, and maybe offer a wee bit of advice along the way.

I think, sometimes, a therapist would be nice. I also think a 50" plasma TV would be nice too. Financially, the chances of my getting either one right now are the same -- zero.

So it occured to me that it would be nice to be able to come here and just rant my little head off about things that big me, or depress me, or make my teeth tingle in my head. Except...I'd need my blog to be sworn to secrecy. And with my name all over it, that's not likely to happen.

So, suddenly, I can understand the appeal of anonymity. And it's tempting.

It's tempting to think about starting another blog. On the other hand, that'd make three, after this one and the new, still taking its first few breaths, WL Studio Theatre blog that I've been posting to more often than here lately. And I don't even have enough content to fill up on blog, let alone three.

Still, the anonymity thing remains tempting. If only to provide a small outlet for the *real* things that are on my mind. Not this kind of fluff.

Of course, then, if I fill the other, anonymous blog with what I'm really thinking and really feeling, what on earth would be the point in posting here?

Must give this more thought.