Thursday, November 23, 2006


Nicky: Schadenfreude, huh? What's that, some kinda Nazi word?

Gary: Yeah. It's german for happiness at the misfortune of others.

Nicky: Happiness at the misfortune of others...that *is* German!

The above exchange comes courtesy of broadway's "Avenue Q," which is not only a play I'd actually quite like to direct one day, once the amateur rights become available, but also provides a nice, concise definition of the word.



I had the opportunity tonight to experience a pleasant glow of Schadenfreude. And I don't really want to gloat about it, because that'd just be mean, but when you do get the chance to experience pure schadenfreude, it can bring a bout smile quite unlike any other.

Oh, and of course, when the other person's misfortune (and / or suffering) is karmicly appropriate...yeah, it's even better.

For heaven's sake, just walk!

According to a recent study, biking can make women's genitals less sensitive.

Now I'm in full support of anyone -- of any gender -- who wants to get a little bit more exercise in their daily routine. I'm also in full support of attempting to cut down on automobile emissions by using a variety of alternative transportation methods.

But women, please, leave the bikes at home. Just, you know, go for a walk. Or car-pool. Or ride the bus or something.

Biking: It's just not worth it.

Spot the literary reference!

A subtle (or not-so-subtle, depending on your reading habits) literary reference was hidden in the lede of my column this week. Be the first to spot it, cite it, and explain it in the comments attached to this blog post, and you could win a spectacular prize!*

*Prize spectacularity is based solely on the opinion of the contest-holder, and not the opinion of the contest winner. No guarantee is offered as to your own feelings upon receipt of the "spectacular prize." Results may vary. Void where prohibited by law. Contest not valid outside of British Columbia, Canada.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

...and geekier still

You are .pdf  No matter where you go you look the same.  You are an acrobat.  Nothing is more important to you than the printed word.
Which File Extension are You?

Damn, this is exactly the sort of thing that most respectable bloggers would frown on, or look down their nose upon, or douse me in gasoline and light me on fire for. But it just meshed too nicely with this evening's earlier proclamation of geekness to avoid. And besides, how cool is it to be a PDF? I mean, seriously, who wouldn't want to be one? It's way cooler than being a JPG or BAT file. And COM files? So 1990s. Granted, MP3s, I suppose, would be cooler, but PDFs have to definitely be in the top ten. Top five even. Totally.

Geekier and geekier

Yes, in the ongoing attempt to see if I can become an even bigger geek, I have linked my Xbox Live gamertag profile to my blog. It's that little box there, that says Lewzr. Because that's what I am. A great big loser. But, a great big loser who can now show off the five most recent games he's played. Huzzah!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Holy crap, I've been Dugg. Dugged. Digged? I dunno, something like that

I was digging through my site stats tonight, just because it's occasionally fun to see how people have got to my quiet little corner of the Internet, and discovered a few interesting things.

First, the number of people getting to my site while searching for "skanky sluts" appears to be at an all-time low. Which is sort of sad. We are, perhaps, witnessing the passing of era.

Second, someone actually put one of my blog entries up at Which is totally bizarre and amazing, because it was just a weird, random story. And also because I think digg is just about one of the coolest sites around right now. The story only got 4 diggs, which means, I think, that it storta sucked, but whatever. Check out the digg-page for my rant about the loss of McDonald's Hot Mustard here. Which, yes, is a link to a page about me. And yes, that's sorta self-indulgent. Deal with it.

I also discovered that my brief post about LibraryThing ended up quoted and used at LibrarThing's "buzz page". Which, okay, I know they're probably trolling the net and quoting any nice thing people say about them, but it still made me feel almost legitimate. Which is a nice feeling.

The vast majority of visitors, though (the ones that don't come directly to the site by just typing the address in) come from Google searches for "caughtinthe blogspot". Which means, at least most of the time, people are actively seeking the blog out. Well, at least one or two are. Which is more than none.

On stains, mysteries, and love-cancer.

The stupid stain, and the stupid story idea, won't leave me alone. So the turmoil of thoughts is getting dumped out here.

Specifically in regards to the potential mystery of the story, as well as the big "reveal" that must come at the end of a mystery.

To me, there are probably four basic ways a story like this could turn out. First, there's the, "Oh my god, he murdered someone and doesn't remember it, or is blocking the memory, or some such thing, and who could have seen that coming, because he seemed like such a nice guy, when really he's a horrible killer."

Second, there's the, "Oh my god, he accidentally murdered someone through a series of complicated events, and in his terror at the accidental death, decided to ditch the body somewhere, and has since blocked the memory, or maybe the whole thing happened in a blackout, or something like that."

Third, there's the, "Someone was murdered there, but it wasn't him who was responsible, but instead a friend or coworker or random passerby who happened to somehow get into his home, and all the while that the narrator is feeling this sense of dread and guilt about what he might have done, he is, in fact, innocent of any crimes he might have suspected himself of having committed."

Lastly, there's the anticlimax of, "Oh, nobody died, it's just chocolate milk, and he's wigging out for no particular reason."

None of which really appeal to me. They're all too...well, overdone. Of coruse, that's probably because the whole "character forgets something important and gradually discovers that he is to blame for some horrible crime" story is sort of overdone.

Twist endings that exist simply for the sake of the twist don't do anything for me and, at least for the moment, any of those twist ending options seem like they'd be just that. Although that might simply be because I have no other solid ideas for the story, except for the "where did the stain come from" mystery. Which clearly isn't enough.

Though my mind *has* been drifting around, and tugging at other thoughts and ideas in the last few days. And one of them might be able to apply the necessary sort of depth that this mostly shallow story idea requires (and if this particular story should turn out to *not* be the home for this new idea, I have yet another place I think I might be able to find a spot for it).

There's a line in the film "Magnolia" -- a favourite of mine -- which never fails to stick in my head thanks, in a large degree, to just how simple it is. There are easily a half-dozen different stories that play out over the course of this movie, and each character has his own opporunity to dip into into both self-destruction and, ultimately, salvation. But it's this line, delivered by William H Macy's character when he's at his absolute lowest, that has always stood out to me:

"I really do have love to give. I just don't know where to put it."

The great thing about the line is that it sort of demands on instant empthy with the character. Who can't relate to an idea that simple? Who can't relate to someone that alone? Who has never found themselves with a capacity for love, with a need for love, and yet no recipient available.

And so I've been thinking...what happens to that love? What happens to love that just gets bottled up, and held inside, and eventually, perhaps, ignored and repressed and forgotten?

And because this is my mind asking the question, what I'm really wondering is this:

Does love go stale? Does love ferment? Does love, ignored for long enough, turn into something else entirely? Something not healthy? Something cancerous? Something dangerous?

It seems to me that this notion, combined with the stain, combined with a (perhaps) violent mystery, *could* gradually grow into something that would justify words on the page. It's all sort of a mush in my head right now, and I'm not entirely sure how well one idea will mesh with the other. But when two ideas ending up bubbling around in my brain at the same time, they do quite often end up blending together nicely, if left alone in the saucepan for long enough.

And, as I said, should it *not* find that this story is an appropriate home, the love-cancer idea could, I think, very easily find a home in "The Small Town Pornographer's Blues" should I ever attempt to revisit that particular novel. Which would probably need an injection of something new, anyway, if I was ever going to consider revisiting it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why I need to stop being such a lazy ass and write a whole lot more often.

Even though I currently have a novel that is somewhere around the halfway point -- a novel, I should ad, that was going screamingly well before a limited amount of free time tore me away from it temporarily -- and even though I started tentative, very early-on sort of work on an incredibly absurd comedic play about a guy who gets stabbed in the stomach (because there's nothing funnier than that), I just can't stop new ideas from popping into my head. And they don't just pop into my head and say, "Hi, I just thought I'd stop by and see if you had any free time, but clearly you don't, so I'll disappear for a bit until you have time to work on me."

Instead, they appear with a sort of desperate insistence, demanding that I throw away any and everything else that I actually *should* be working on, and dedicate my every free moment to this new project. Because, according to that project, it's the most important thing in the world right now.

Even my creative ideas are pompous and full of themselves.

And so in my idle time today, I'm stewing on a rough idea for a short story that, at the moment, doesn't involve much more than a stain on the character's carpet. A stain which he vaguely recognizes, but can't remember its source.

A stain which looks eerily like blood.

But then, maybe it's just chocolate milk.

I have that very stain on my own carpet (wouldn't you just know that this wasn't a random idea) and, while cleaning my house last night for this evening's Fromage Homage (A Lactose Overdose!), I couldn't take my eyes off it for some reason. It's the same stain that's been there for, probably, years, the same stain I see every time I vacuum the living room (which, admittedly, maybe isn't as often as I should). But suddenly it occurs to me that I don't have the foggiest idea where the stain is from. Even though I know I've seen it before. Even though I know I should have some sort of memory of the cause.

Which is weird.

That sort of vaguely unsettling feeling is what, more than anything else, I want to try to convey in this story. At the moment, I have no clue what the actual cause of the fictional stain is, though just in tossing the idea around in my head it's seeming to me like trying to come up with a twist ending that either A) Hasn't been done before; B) People won't see coming; and C) Won't be annoyingly anticlimactic, isn't an easy thing to do.

In other news, yes, the blog is slowly getting coated in a fine layer of dust. Something will be done about that soon, more than likely. Among the planned updates are a bringing up to date of the Stick Figure Drama archives, as well as posting smattering of photographs from past social occasions to my even more dust-covered Flickr page. Also, I might start blogging on a slightly more regular basis, but no promises.

It seems that, more than anything else, it's the creative process that compells me to post here. Either to rant about troubles on a book, rave about a particularly good bit of writing, or just complain about the new and obnoxious ideas that arrive into my head, unwelcome, from out of the blue, and demand my total attention.

So if I can just start writing again, in places other than here, that should inspire an increased amount of writing in this location. And that can only be good, right?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On beating horses into a lumpy paste

I was halfway through this week's column before I realized I was drifting into a dead horse territory. And not just any dead horse, either. We're talking about a dead horse that I've beaten, over the years, into a lumpy, unrecognizeable paste.

Of course, by then, it was too late to turn back.

The idea started out well enough -- wanting to write about the absurdity of Britney Spears' divorce actually making significant headlines on the same day that the American midterm elections were taking place. But after a few paragraphs, I realized that the ultimate moral was the same moral I've said so many times that even *I'm* getting bored of it. And that is:

Media, stop feeding us crap and calling it news; and

Audience, stop demanding crap from your news agencies.

I salvaged the column about the only way I could, by acknowledging my awareness of the beaten, broken, dead horse. Even so, it's weeks like this, when I cover the same ground I've covered so bloody many times, that I wonder why I still bother writing this stupid thing every single week. Clearly I don't have a whole lot of anything interesting to say.

Given that my alternate column idea -- writing about Microsoft's announcement that they'll be delivering television and movie content over their Xbox Live service, directly competing with Apple's announced but unreleased iTV service -- was dumped because it felt like I would be, you guessed it, beating a dead horse, makes this feeling even worse.

I need to get out more often, or visit different web sites, a book or a newspaper or something. I need to expand my brain. I need to expand my horizons. I need to either get some damn variety in my column, or just retire the stupid thing and be done with it.