Monday, December 31, 2007

Still not prone to resolutions...

There's something else I'd probably resolve, if I was the type of person inclined to make New Years resolutions, which I'm not.

I'd probably resolve to try to be happier.

I'd probably resolve to try to notice the things about the world that are beautiful more than the things that are ugly. As hard as that sometimes is to do -- as hard as that often is to do -- I think it's probably something *worth* doing.

And I'd probably resolve to try, if I was inclined to make New Years resolutions.

Which, for the record, I'm not.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'm not dead yet...but I will be one day.

I'm not sure entirely why, but I had a moment this morning, lying in bed, sometime around noon, where I thought, "Fuck, I'm almost 35, which is way to close to 40, which is way to close to the middle ground of a life that's gone almost nowhere and with which I've done almost nothing."

That made me a little bit sad. And, for just a few minutes, a little bit paranoid as well. I have real difficulty with the thought of retiring this life for the great beyond without having accomplished anything of any particular significance. I mean, I know, logically, that I probably won't -- most people don't -- but that doesn't make the thought of it any easier.

Nor does it make the thought that the only reason I haven't gotten closer to that accomplishment is because I tend to sit around on my ass not making progress towards accomplishments. Essentially, I have no one to blame but myself.

And that pisses me off. But then the only person I can really get pissed off at is me, so that just gets me stuck in a stupid little cycle that never goes anywhere either.

I don't make new year's resolutions anymore. I used to, but just like most people, I have a hard time following through with this resolutions, regardless of how good an idea they might be. And then I feel like a failure and I hate myself.

But if I did make new year's resolutions, right at the moment I would probably resolve something that was connected to this desire I have to do something significant. I would probably resolve to write more often. That one's a pretty good bet. It was something I intended to do for the last few months, now that I'm taking some time off theatre, and something that just didn't quite work out. Of course there's no reason not to try again come January 1.

Not that I'm resolving that, or anything.

I'd also probably resolve to get more exercise. Which is to say, get some exercise at all. More exercise would make me feel better, give me more energy, and probably help me with the whole "get your ass off the sofa and get some writing done, you lazy fucker," thing that I've been having trouble with. There's so many good reasons to get more exercise, in fact, that I really can't think of a single reason why I haven't already, or why I shouldn't in the new year.

Not that I'm resolving that. That would be a mistake.

If I was prone to making new year's resolutions, I'd probably also resolve to quit smoking, but I think we all know what a ridiculous notion that is, so that one's not even worth mentioning, even in a fantasy world.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I'm more than halfway through the month, and I've only sat down with the novel three times, which is sort of sad. On the bright side, last night's writing binge was not only longer than I was expecting, but *better* than I was expecting. I don't think the prose quite hit some of the heights of style that I've managed in earlier chunks, but it was a good sight better than some of what I've done lately.

I finally took a break from it when I realized I had another 4-5 pages to go in that chapter, but wasn't quite sure yet where to take it.

I do fear this thing is going to need some serious editing when it's done. I have a suspicion that there's a bunch of stuff that contradicts other stuff in the novel, thanks in part to taking lengthy breaks from it, and suddenly deciding a new direction to go with a certain idea (and forgetting a direction I already went with it).

It's also easy to forget that the whole thing is taking place over a terribly short period of time (though, towards the end of the novel, the amount of time that actually passes gets a little fuzzy, as the narrator is too tired to even keep track of that information).

It's way more than possible I could still have this thing done by month's end if I focus and keep at the daily updates to it. I don't know how likely that is, but it would be nice to finally have this beast done. It's going to a bit more than a year since I started it, so I guess that's turning into the norm (that's about what it took for me to finish "Waiting for a Miracle" between when I started it in Nano, and when I finished it the following August). And I guess in the grand scheme of things, a year isn't too bad to write a novel, though we're also talking about a year just for one draft.

Though, on top of finishing this, two to three plays, and an edit job on the previous novel, I now have the idea for a Christmas present project I need to spend some time on before too much time passes, or run the risk of never getting it done.


In other positive news, there's only five more posts until I hit the big 500th post here on the blog, so that seems a likely accomplishment for 2007.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Commitment to booze

I caught an advance performance of the Williams Lake Studio Theatre's production of "Educating Rita" last night (technically their dress rehearsal, but it was a solid show), and wrote a positive review of the show for the paper this week. The performances were good, the stage was spectacularly designed, and the lighting did its job of subtly moving us through the transitions from scene to scene.

But one thing I noticed -- and this was just a personal observation -- that didn't make its way into my review was just how jealous I was of Frank's character in the play. Specifically, how jealous I was of his commitment to booze.

Here was a man who was downing glasses of scotch even while working with his student. A man who planned to head off to the pub after the teaching session for a few pints of Guinness, hopefully to elevate his scotch-buzz to something greater. A man who stumbled his way through a lesson while completely shitfaced.

I'm totally jealous of that commitment.

Because if you're going to do something, seriously, do it all the way.

I sometimes feel like I'm not committed enough to my attempts at self-destructive drinking. I've never down even an ounce in the morning in order to clear out the shakes. I've never turned to booze to get me through my workday, and I've sure never gone to work shitfaced.

All of these should seem like positive things, and they would be, if I was just firmly on the other side of the fence -- the side where people drink socially, with a comfortable frequency, and without bordering on a problem zone. But I'm not comfortable on that side of the fence. I'm sitting right on top of the fence, more than happy to drink enough to be well outside of the social category, but unwilling to take the dive to the *other* side of the fence.

Unwilling to do it all the way.

Unwilling to commit.

A funny thing to complain about, to be sure, and I can't even say it's really a complaint. If anything, it's merely an observation of my own lifestyle, and my own limitations. And my unwillingness to really dive headlong into my own attempts at self-destruction.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I'm not well. This, I'm sure, wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has known me for any length of time.

Sure, I have periods -- sometimes long periods, sometimes short -- when I *am* well. When my mood is just fine, when I seem able to at least function in the world, when life seems to be more than just a chore.

But, inevitably, those periods are temporary. Eventually I find myself falling down into a deep, dark, bleak pit, where the surface seems so far away that escape seems to be a hopeless dream.

And, inevitably, the more times you fall down into a pit like that, the harder it becomes to climb back out again.

It's a bit like making the bed, something I've always had trouble with. What's the point, I tend to ask myself, when I'm just going to climb back into it again and mess it all up?

And so it goes with the hole. What the point in climbing back out if I'm just going to fall back down into it again eventually anyway? And this leads to questions like, why bother with anything at all if our existence here on this earth is so temporary and so ultimately meaningless? And this, of course, is never a good frame of mind to be in.

More often than not I place the blame on the world around me. I feel sometimes like I'm not built to properly function in this world. Any and everything that I love or care about eventually becomes tainted with something, whether its people or employment or hobbies. Eventually everything loses whatever it was that made it special to me in the first place, and I'm left surrounded with dusty fragments of things that used be significant.

And for this, I blame the world, because it's easier to do that than to blame myself. Easier to blame billions of people than it is to look in the mirror and think that maybe there's something wrong with *me*.

But today I had that moment. A moment when I had to realize that maybe the problem *was* mine and not, after all, the world's. Maybe it's not the world that's broken -- maybe the world is just fine -- maybe it's something in my head, in my wiring, in my chemistry, that's wrong.

Hooboy, that would be a problem.

I was on antidepressants a few years ago. For anxiety, not for depression, but the effect the drugs had was the same. I felt better. I felt less anxious. I felt less depressed. For the six months I was on them, I was OKAY.

But I talked to some friends afterwards, after I had been off them for a few months, and I heard something odd from them. How I wasn't me.

Is this something more than just the realization that unless I'm a periodically miserable person, then I don't really seem like myself? Did these drugs make more significant changes to my psychology than just improving my mood?

And even if they didn't, maybe that one change is significant enough?

Who am I? What defines me as a person? If it's not my mindset, my hopes and dreams, my fears, then what is that defines me?

And if it is those things, then what happens to me when I start popping a pill to try to fix those things that seem to be broken? If those things define me, then who do I become when those things are replaced with something else?

This is why I've been wary of medication since my brief experience with anti-depressants. This is why I've avoided them like the plague, even during times when they probably would have done me some good. Times like now.

It's not a question with an easy answer. It's probably not a question with any answer at all. Just two different choices, neither of them right, neither of them wrong. Just two different choices, each with their own set of consequences, and no way to know which to choose.

The path of least resistance will likely prove to be the path I take. It always is. If I'm going to run the risk of feeling like this anyway, I might as well make sure the path I'm on makes for an easy stroll.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Disgusting, but mostly true.

If you throw a handful of peanuts in your mouth, and chew on them for a long time without swallowing, you can almost make peanut butter. Right there in your mouth.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

News: November, no nano.

So here it is November again, and for the second year in a row, I have no official National Novel Writing Month novel in progress.

Last year it was because I already had a novel on the go -- one that I had started in the summer, the first novel in years that I had fired up *not* as part of national novel writing month. And this year...well, the novel I was working on this time last year is, in fact, still being worked on. Plus there's another novel (2004's NaNo novel) which I'm in the midst of editing, and there's a one act play about suicide, loneliness, and isolation that I just started working on a few weeks back.

So, while I have no officially NaNo novel, I do have work to do. I just need to start, you know, doing the work.

My plan was to use National Novel Writing Month as the excuse I needed to get off my ass and get back to work on at least one of these projects, maybe even more than one. I know it's still the beginning of the month, but I've already been slack on that. November 1 through 3 slid by without an ounce of work being done, and while I did dust off the novel to do somewhere around 1000 to 1200 words tonight, they were sadly uninspired. I knew where I was trying to go with it, but it just never quite got there. There were words on the page, but they were missing the fire underneath them that has been such a signature for this novel.

Okay, I guess you can't be "On" all the time. And I suppose, to some degree, I was probably playing catchup with a storyline I haven't spent much time thinking about in these last few months.

So maybe all isn't lost.

Although it'd be a lot easier to get motivated to write if Guitar Hero 3 didn't just come out a few days ago.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

For those who are curious...

In case you were wondering, now that I've stopped with the "Month o' Horror" updates, who far along I am, as of last night's screening (I love that term) of "Saw IV" I am at 24 films. While it seems a touch unlikely that I'll manage seven more films before November first, it's not impossible. And even if I don't quite make it, I'll have gotten close enough for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saw: A dissection

First off, I might as well confess right now that I'm giving up on this whole "blogging the month o' horror" thing. While I did entertain the idea of removing my previous "Month o' Horror" posts, I've decided to leave them as is, as a testament to my failure, and, perhaps, a reminder that I need to be more on the ball if I'm going to try doing this same sort of thing again.

Having abandond the strict "let's review each of the movies I've watched this month" structure of the "Month o' Horror" however has given me the freedom to do something a bit more vague, like write about a film franchise in general. Which is what I'm going to do right now.

The "Saw" franchise, specifically.

I think it's fair to say that there has not been a more successful horror film franchise to emerge in the 21st century. Sure, the "Hostel" films have their fans (and I'm among them). Rob Zombie built a mostly-successful mini-franchise with "House of 1,000 Corpses" and "The Devil's Rejects" before switching focus and helming the "Halloween" remake. And, sure, some of the old classics are still breathing (barely) thanks to films like "Freddy vs. Jason."

But if there is one horror franchise that has grabbed the attention of audiences, and won their hearts, it's "Saw."

But the question is, why?

I'll admit it, I'm not a huge fan of the first film. For the most part it works as an interesting and engaging mystery and thriller. Why are these two people chained up in a grungy bathroom? Who put them there? For what purpose? The film captures your attention right out of the gate, and manages to find the right balance between handing out information and keeping shit secret to make you happily go along for the ride, waiting to find out what's around the next sudden curve.

Unfortunately, the twist ending comes across as a twist for the sake of a twist, and that's something I just can't support. The sudden, shocker, twist ending is the lazy device of a bad a writer. Just ask M. Night.

If all we had to judge "Saw" on was it's original incarnation, it wouldn't have likely made a significant dent in the history or horror. It would be looked back on as a mildly interesting thriller that happened to exist smack in the middle of what some call the "torture porn" phase of horror. And that would be that.

Of course the money-men at Lion's Gate Films weren't content to leave it at that after the original film's opening weekend drew in significantly more money than was spent in its creation. And thus, horror history was made.

What's interesting about the "Saw" franchise is that, unlike traditional horror franchises like "Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street" or even more current examples like "Hostel," the "Saw" movies have actually tried to make their sequels feel like extensions of the original story, instead of just a bunch of new people being killed in a bunch of new ways (although, admittedly, the "Saw" films are also guilty of this one).

Maybe I'm in the minority, but to me, it's the growth of the "Jigsaw" character in "Saw 2" that makes that an interesting film for me. And it's the continued story of that character in "Saw 3" that makes it a compelling film (because, judged just on the film alone, it's not quite as strong as the second, though still above the first -- in my own humble opinion, of course).

Of course there's still more the "Saw" franchise than just that. As much as I hate to admit it, there's an almost existential heart pulsing at its center.

Okay, so it's unlikely that the "Saw" franchise will ever face serious critical study as part of a university film program, but you have to admit that a serial killer who tracks down people who have squandered the gift of life and forces them to re-evaluate their own desire for life (or death) has a little bit more going on under the surface than your average slasher flick (not counting attempts to find threads of Freudian subtext in the Friday the 13th series).

I'm not sure it's possible to watch one of the "Saw" movies without thinking to yourself, What would I do in that situation?

And any film that makes you ask questions about your own life and your existence has to be doing something right. Even if it's doing it with some of the most brutal and disgusting images to have yet been capture on film.

Unfortunately, what was a near-perfect existential horror trilogy has been marred by studio greed. While "Saw IV" isn't a terrible film, it doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessors, and was clearly a film made for money's sake, and not because the filmmakers felt the genuine desire to follow the lives of the characters they had created in the previous films. As much as "Saw IV" tries to be a part of the franchise, tries to continue to job of fleshing out the character of Jigsaw, it ultimately comes across as a pale imitator of the previous films, and not quite worthy of their praise.

Hope for the franchise isn't completely dead, of course. Horror films like this never really die, and Saws V and VI are already planned. As a horror fan in general, and as a fan of the first three "Saw" outtings, a part of me hoping that two more films will once again elevate the genre to something at least slightly above the norm, but if "Saw IV" is any indicator, we're in for more of the same thing we've already seen enough of.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Awards and more

So "Dinner & Drinks" snagged the "Tenneessee Williams Award for Creativity" at ACToberfest last weekend. What that means, of course, is that no only did this show make a decent profit here in WL, it also grabbed some critical attention too, which is sort of the best of both worlds, and sort of make me happy. Really frigging happy, actually.

Ideas are already starting to rattle around in my skull for a one-act to write and direct for next year's event (whichi will be held in Prince George) and even though I'm feeling the burning excitement to get started on it, I need to remind myself that it's still and entire year away, and I really can sit back and take my time. No need to rush anything. Especially the ideas. Rushing those can sometimes be a serious mistake.

The trip to Kelowna, and the attempt afterwards to get back into the swing of things here in town again, have put a bit of a damper on the Month o' Horror thing. I'm doing an okay job of catching up on the films (sitting, I think, at about 16 right now), but I haven't done a very good job updating with my reviews of those films. And I'm beginning to wonder if I'll get around them all at this point, or if I'll just let them slide. I'd hate to let another project like this sort of go by the wayside, but time wise, it might be inevitable.

It was a busy weekend for horror movies, with two devoured on Friday night (From Hell, which isn't any better than the last time I saw it, and Freddy vs. Jason, a better film than it had any right to be) and three Cronenberg flicks on Saturday (Rabid, The Fly, and Dead Ringers). I followed up the Cronenberg fest by taking in his new film, Eastern Promises, at the theatre, but it left a mostly meh reaction, unfortunately.

That'll do for now. I think I'll try to toss out a Scream 3 review just to pretend like I might actually get caught up on this "Month o' Horror thing."

Monday, October 08, 2007

I wish I could plan things better...

So this month o' horror thing was sort of a late idea, and I missed the first few days of October. However, I do still intend to watch one horror movie for each day in October, even if maybe I'm not watching one PER day. If you catch what I mean.

For example, I watched "Scream" on Oct 6, with "Scream 2" and "Scream 3" on the agenda for tonight. So, due to the magic of fucking around with time, I will label "Scream" my Oct. 1 film, "Scream 2" my Oct. 2 film, and "Scream 3" my Oct. 3 film. Even though I watched them on the 5th and the 7th.

I know it sounds unnecessarily complicated, but trust me, it works.

I might even futz around a little bit with the posting dates (if that's possible) to make it all *look* better. Because it's all about the looking good.

Speaking of "Scream" I think a review will be appearing within the next few hours (probably before I fire up "Scream 2")

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Making habits

Apparently making a habit of writing regularly is going to require more than just buying a laptop. This isn't entirely surprising to me -- I didn't think the acquisition of a portable writing device would suddenly, magically create the habit where, at least recently, the habit had started to stagnate. I did hope that having access to portable writing might make it easier to get back in the habit, when I could just start typing away in the living room, instead of having to get off my ass, go into the office, etc.

So far, though, that hasn't been the case.

I need to do, just for the sake of doing, and for the sake of breathing new life into this currently stagnant habit. Even if I haven't got anything of any particular value to say, just log in and say *something*.

Which is why I'm here.

The ACToberfest one-act festival we're taking "Dinner & Drinks" to is less than a week away. Only one or two more rehearsals to get the last few polishes in place, and to be honest, there's very little to polish anyway. Some of the actors on Thursday were a little rough on their lines, but there's not much I can say about that except, "Please, review their lines," and then hope that, you know, they actually do.

While in Kelowna for the festival, we'll be chatting with a videography team that's filming the event for 2010 Legacies Now, because our show was chosen to be the focus of the videography. Apparently our show "exemplifies" what Theatre BC was attempting to do with the fest, which was to give a venue to up and coming artists in British Columbia. So, you know, that's pretty cool.

Also trying to watch a horror movie every night this month, in honour of Halloween. Missed the first few days, but started on Friday with "The Ring," then followed up last night with Wes Craven's post-modern slasher flick, "Scream." I had gone out in search of the Friday The 13th box set, but after months of thinking about it, but passing it by, it was finally gone, so I grabbed the Scream package instead.

I've got about another 16 horror movies in my collection, so that'll get me through the majority of the month, but I have to rent a few, or add a few to my collection.

I may try to either write up some reviews or live-blog the movies as well, just, you know, as an exercise in getting back into the habit of doing some writing. And because this here interweb isn't already filled with a buncha wanna-be movie reviewers.

EDIT: Just found this interesting look at some of the stats from the Friday the 13th films (how many deaths total, per movie, blah blah blah) that's actually a pretty spiffy read for any fan of the slasher genre. Sadly, it just makes me wish I'd found the box set yesterday. Sigh.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Month o' Horror: The Ring

The Ring was viewed on Friday, October 5

In way similar to how "Scream" dissects the very conventions of the sort of slasher film that it aims to be, "The Ring" attacks the very thing that we commonly use to bring those sorts of films into our lives -- the television and, more specifically, video tape.

Of course we don't *all* watch movies on video. Many of us have upgraded to DVD, and there are still the few, the proud, the hardcore, that actually like to experience a movie in the theatre. But videotape is still a cultural phonemenon. It's the technology that brought film into the home, and it's something we can all recognize and relate to. It's that connection that "The Ring" relies on. Its our familiarity with the concept of videotape, and the idea that death could strike at anyone -- ourselves included -- that help to make the film work.

"The Ring" was the first of what became a long line of horror films that had originated in Japan before being remade for American audiences. And for my money, "The Ring" is still the best.

It's not a horror film in the way that most of us are familiar with horror films. It doesn't use a lot of blood or cheap make-you-jump tactics. It's got more of a creepy-vibe going on. A slow simmer of unsettling imagery and and the unrelenting passage of time. In fact, if I had to compare it to an American horror film, it would probably be with Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" which, much like the ring, relies on a tense atmosphere instead of kinetics or blood-buckets.

Watching "The Ring" on Friday night marked, I believe, the third time I had seen the film, and while I can't say it necessarily gets better with each viewing, it certainly doesn't get any worse. The cinematography maintains a sense of dread and death, while the dreaded videotape of death is still just as unsettling as the first time I saw it.

What might be my favourite part of the film (and there's sort of spoiler here, so consider yourself warned if you're against that sort of thing) is the ending. No, not the ENDING ending, which is fine in and of itself, promising a happy ending for the mother and son at the centre of the story, even while it suggests a far less optimistic ending for, uh, well, the human race, on some level. No, I mean the tease-ending. The one that makes you think it's going to have the cliched, "release the dead girl and she will be at peace and everyone lives happily ever after" sort of ending that, seriously, we're all pretty fucking tired of. But that ending is just a tease, and there's something for nastier waiting for us after the dust has apparently settled.

And that's the sort of thing that a horror movie supposed to do. It's supposed to unsettle us. It's supposed to make us nervous. Good horror movies aren't predictable. Good horror movies work because they give us the feeling that anything can happen, and that no one is safe.

Something "The Ring" accomplishes in spades.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Month o' Horror: Se7en

Eventually, every film genre -- or film sub-genre -- births a film that is forever linked to that particular genre. Maybe it redefines it, maybe it brings a new legitimacy to it, maybe it's the perfect marriage of writer, director, and performers that bring a level of quality never seen in that genre before.

Whatever the case, "Se7en" is a film that will be forever linked to the serial-killer movie. And with good reason.

"Se7en" has a phenominal cast in front of the camera. Maybe Morgan Freeman has gotten a bit cliched in recent years as the wise, older man, but in "Se7en" it was still fairly fresh; Brad Pitt, as much as he could have taken the pretty-boy film career of someone like Tom Cruise, chose instead to challenge himself on a fairly consistent basis, and while "Se7en" maybe isn't his finest work, it's far from his least; and, of course, there's Kevin Spacey as John Doe, one of the most perfectly calm and perfectly chilling psychopaths ever caught on film.

And then behind the camera is David Fincher, whose previous film -- Alien 3 -- was a visual masterpiece even if the film was ultimately a failure. Fincher is one of the most interesting director working in Hollywood, and while his films vary from interesting if a little too pocorny (Panic Room) to jaw-droppingly brilliant (Fight Club), you'll never see a boring film from the man.

But it isn't just the cast and crew that elevates "Se7en" above most of the films in its genre. The script also works brilliantly, with a killer whose motivations are grotesquely easy to understand. As he slaughters those he views as sinners, and as the film flashes their sins in front of our faces, we can understand the twisted logic of his actions. Maybe we'd never commit those crimes ourselves, but when Doe talks about how sick our world has become, it's difficult to disagree.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks that comes from crafting a genre-defining is film is the inevitible copy-cats. And while "Se7en" certainly has its fair share of them, none of them can live up to it, and they don't come anywhere near surpassing it. The film remains one of the finest examples of the genre, and one of the finest examples of powerful genre filmmaking of any kind.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Month o' Horror: Scream 3

Well, it couldn't last forever, I suppose.

As inventive and subversive of the genre that they were intended to be a part of as the first two Scream films were, the third film simply couldn't live up to the bar set by its predecessors (and that's even conceding that the bar was lowered following the second film). While the marketing materials in the box set give the impression that Scream "Trilogy" was intended as a trilogy from the get go, it seems pretty obvious upon viewing the third that this is a flat out lie intended only to make it look like the third film wasn't a disgusting grab at fans' wallets.

Screenwriter Kevin Williams didn't return to pen the script for the third outting, and director Wes Craven only signed on after being promised a greenlight on his own non-horror project, ensuring that he was likely not putting his heart and soul into the film. Which, for the record, shows.

Even Neve Campbell seemed reluctant to return, as her character appears in no more than half the film, and it might even be subustantially less. Instead, we're left with Courtney Cox and David Arquette carrying the film, making Scream 3 the "Gale and Dewey" show. And while these character, and their on-again-off-again romance might have been moderately entertaining in the background of the previous two films, it's nowhere near interesting enough to be thrust into the spotlight, as is done in Scream 3.

Also lost in the third outting is any attempt to poke at the conventions of the horror genre. Instead what gets poked at is the Hollywood system in general. If I didn't know better, I'd assume after watching this that both the screenwriter and the director had a overwhelming hate-on for the film industry while they were putting this film together. Hollywood actors, actresses, directors, and businessmen are portrayed in a stunningly negative light. I can only assume that the producers behind the film though that these scathing attacks were funny, because otherwise I can't imagine how something this critical could have gotten the green light from within the hollywood system.

And without spoilling the specifics of the end, I can tell you this: The inevitable reveal of the third murderous mastermind is likely to leave you with a reaction along the lines of, "Oh, it's him. Uh, who the fuck cares about him?" instead of the sort of, "Oh, of COURSE it was him!" sort of moment that we'd been expecting after two films with a far more logical explanation at their respective climaxes.

While there has been recent speculation that a Scream 4 may be in the works, I can only hope that for fans of the horror genre, and fans of at least the first two scream films, that this speculation remains nothing more than speculation. The end of this serious is awkward and embarassing enough as it is. Let's not actively work to make it any worse.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Month o' Horror: Scream 2

Scream 2 was viewed on Saturday, October 6.

The one problem with sequals is that, inevitably, even when they're good, they're usually not quite as good as the first. And while "Scream 2" certainly makes the effort, it just doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessor.

In fact, there's a scene early on set in a film studies class, where the discussion turns to sequels, and the fact that they're never quite as good. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if the scene was included as a small, knowing, wink of acceptance to the fact that, okay, yeah, "Scream 2" isn't really as great as the first one.

Part of the problem is the first half hour and inevitable re-introduction of every character. It drags the film down a little bit as the movie is forced to play "Where are they now?" just to get us caught up on everyone's life.

Part of the problem is that the movie-references that made the first film such an interesting take on the horror genre are mostly gone, except for a few references to sequels.

On the bright side, they approached the idea of a "real-life" sequel in the most obvious and least contrived way -- a copycat killer. It fits the theme, and it makes sense. They may not be the most common thing in the world of serial killing, but it does happen from time to time.

Also on the bright side, there's enough of a carry-over of the previous film's characters, and the details of their storylines, that this does feel like a legitimate sequal. Meaning that it feels like we're seeing a continuation of the lives of the people featured in the first "Scream" film, and not just another bunch of random kids being slaughtered in similar ways, as is the case with most horror sequels.

"Scream 2" is a decent enough ride, and while the eventual revelation of the masked psychopath doesn't work quite as well as it did in the previous film, it works well enough for a sequel. Which are often, as in this case, sadly inferior to the original.

Random Spam Moment of the Day

From my inbox today:
Make a wild beast out of your penis - big and fleshy.
Don’t make women freak out when they take your pants off.
I can't say for certain, but I think if a woman took off my pants and found a big and fleshy wild beast, they'd be pretty damn freaked out. I know I would be.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Time flies when you're...wait, what have I been doing?

So it's been a bit more than a week since I lost posted. Since then, Dinner and Drinks hit the stage and was a phenomenal, near-sellout hit, closing to standing ovations on three of the four nights, and exceeding my wildest expectations. I am ridiculously happy.

Also, I finally got my laptop which was ordered from Dell about four months ago. This also makes me happy, and it is with this laptop that I am currently blogging. Hopefully the laptop -- which was purchased for the express purpose of being able to write just about anywhere -- will actually help me to, you know, write a bit more often. On plays and novels and short stories and things like that. But, you know, on a blog too, from time to time.

Back to the play.

I have to admit that the somewhat surprising success of the show has left me feeling like...well, like there actually might be some avenue to success through this writing thing. It made me feel like all these years spent tapping words on out word processors were maybe not wasted, that maybe I *have* been working towards something all this time, even if maybe I wasn't always quite sure what it was, and even if at this moment I'm maybe not entirely sure what it is.

I have, of course, been considering the inevitable "follow-up." You don't have a success like this without thinking, "What next?"

And I really don't even know where to begin. As goofy as it sounds, a "Dinner and Drinks 2" has actually been rattling around in my head, just because the concept -- two people have an inappropriate conversation in a public place -- lends itself nicely to so many different scenarios. I was also reminded today of an old writing project I started but never really followed through on, which involved crafting fictional backstories to some of the classified advertisements that I would stumble across in a given week while working the classified department at the newspaper. This, I realized today, was another idea that would work well on the stage.

And then there's my multimedia theatre project, involving an onstage narrator, offstage voice actors, and a slide show of bad drawings, called "Spiffy The Chicken" which is about a chicken named spiffy and his adventures in the city, where he meets drug dealers and prostitutes and the like. And which would probably a disasterous choice for a followup.

But the biggest issue isn't so much finding the idea. There's ideas everywhere, they bounce around in my head constantly. The problem is writing them.

I look at parts of the script for "Dinner & Drinks" -- especially the particularly funny bits -- and I find myself thinking, "Where did that come from?" I know I can be a funny person, but it's mostly reactionary humour, someone says something, and I'll say something funny in response to it. Having to just be funny all by myself...well, I didn't think I was very good at it, but the crowd at the show certainly seemed to think otherwise.

But that's what makes the prospect of a follow-up even freakier. Now I've done something that was successful, that people enjoyed, that people laughed and applaued. What if the next one isn't as good? What if I get a metric buttload of people out to another show, based on the strength of this one, and they all hate it. What then?

This is, of course, the inevitable fear of any creative type, particularly a creative type on the edge of even a small degree of success. And I'm sure in time I'll fight past this particular fear and start working on *something* for the stage again, regardless of whether it's good or bad. Eventually, the desire to create is a desire that demands to be dealt with.

And when that time arrives...that's what this spiffy new laptop is for.

Month o' Horror: Scream

Scream was viewed on Saturday, October 6.

When the "slasher" sub-genre of horror first appeared in the 70s, with films like "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" there was something fresh and exciting and, yes, scary about them. Here were faceless maniacs, wielding all manner of sharp object, ready to gut you for no particularly good reason (except the fact that you had sex or drank beer or did drugs).

Unfortunately, what started out as fresh and exciting quickly got dull and stagnant. And the worst part of it was the feeling that these people you were watching in slasher films had never actually SEEN a slasher film. Because everyone always ran around doing the same dumb, cliched things that get them killed, even if they should know better.

It was this notion -- that, hey, maybe the people in a slasher film had actually seen a slasher film -- that made "Scream" such a breath of fresh air when it appeared in the 90s.

Wes Craven's film isn't just a deconstruction of slasher film cliches, it's a film about a generation of people who grew up watching movies. The relationship between our virginal heroine and her boyfriend is described with movie ratings -- a PG13 when she flashes her breasts following her boyfriend's attempt at getting his hand under her panties for a hard R rating.

The funny thing about "Scream" is that, after you watch it, the premise seems ridiculously obvious, but it took Wes Craven (the man responsible for the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise) 20 years to actually put the pieces together.

And on top of it all, it even works as a slasher film, even if it is a slasher film where most of the characters eventually figure out they're in a slasher film. Or at least in a situation that bears eerie similarities to most slasher films.

Craven's had an up and down career, to be sure, but between "Scream" and his final chapter of the Freddy Kruger saga "New Nightmare," Craven did something that not a lot of other horror directors have done. He stepped outside of the box. He looked at a bigger picture. He actually dabbled in something you might call "Meta-Fiction" a term that's almost highbrown enough to convince folks that horror films can actually be about more than gore and cheap jumps.

Admitted, "Scream" isn't a perfect film. There's a few points where it seems almost too hung up on its own cleverness, a few lines that are awkwardly bad, but for the most part, the premise holds up, as does the film, ten years later. There's rumours circulating of a "Scream 4" on its way at some point in the future, but while my memory of the second and third chapters of the franchise are hazy, I don't recall them having quite the same power as the first entry. So for the sake of respecting a trilogy that maybe didn't hit every note it intended too, but still managed to be a bit more than your average slash-a-thon, let's hope the rumours stay exactly that.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It opened. It didn't suck.

After months of work (and blood and sweat and tears and booze), "Dinner & Drinks" opened last night to a not-exactly-crowded theatre. Which is to say, we had about 15 people in the audience, which isn't quite as many as I would have liked.

But of the 15 who were their, they seemed to enjoy it. They laughed in the right places, and in some spots the laughter was huge. Finding out that there were a couple of servers in the audience, who could relate with the idea of stumbling into private conversations they probably shouldn't be stumbling into, was also entertaining, because it illustrated that, even though it was only a very tiny consideration, I got *that* part of the play accurate. And having never been a server, I'll admit that I pretty much made that part up.

Sound was a little weak. Apparently we were missing an amp, which we should be snagging tonight to improve that. Lights were a little glitchy too -- there were some dark spots that could stand to use a bit more illumination, so I might try to see if I can rearrange where the light is falling (though we're pretty limited, only working with four lights, hanging about ten feet off the ground).

The houses are looking to improve in the next few nights. With sales and comps, we should be sitting close to 40 or 50 for tonight, and Saturday is already sitting around 50. Friday might be light, but I'll be content to break the 100 ticket mark for all four days, making the show perhaps not a raging success, but hardly a failure either.

The only thing that seems a little bit disappointing at this point is the four-day run. After the amount of work that everyone put into this, it seems like we're cutting it off just when things should be starting to really rock. On the other hand, I'm still incredibly exhausted, and am eager to start my richly-deserved vacation from the land of the thespians, so maybe only running for one week was the right thing to do after all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

So, uh, yeah, it's been awhile...

Yeah, it's been awhile since I've been around these parts. Almost two months from the look of it.

Looking back, it seems my posting came to a close right around the time I was A) dealing with the cancellation of column, and B) dealing with an overwhelming series of problems on "Dinner & Drinks" -- the play I was, and am still, working on.

Which actually makes perfect sense.

The cancellation of the column was a pretty major blow, and losing that one avenue of self-expression left me feeling far less inclined to express than usual. And when the show hit a roadblock that required not only postponing the performance dates, but also recasting one of the characters, I found myself very, very quickly drowning in an almost unbearable level of stress.

Most of that is over now. The show opens in a couple of days, so most of my work is done (though I still need to finish the program work tonight, do some painting tonight, finish an article for the paper, and print the program tomorrow, after our final rehearsal), and in a little less than a week, it'll be all done, save for the trip to Kelowna for festival (and the possibility of working with someone to work the script into something more appropriate for film). At which point...I'm taking a very long break.

I've toyed with the idea of taking the next season off from the Studio Theatre, and as each do goes by, I'm more and more certain I want to. For one, I really do need a vacation, after working on a show almost constantly since last October. For another, I have two novels in varying states of completion that I'd like very much to get focused on again. Unfinished novels collecting dust aren't likely to accomplish much artistically.

Of course my mood for these last two months hasn't been fantastic either, but I doubt that would come as a surprise to anyone anymore. Sometimes I get the feeling that I've been in the gutter for so long that I'm starting to get used to the decor. Which, by the way, is a pretty sucky mindset to have.

More to come sometime after the opening of the show, when I can rant or rave, depending on how it went.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I've been feeling for awhile -- at least a few weeks, maybe even a few months -- that I'm drowning under the stresses of having far too many things to do in nowhere near enough time. It's a horrible feeling. There are times, I swear to God, when I feel like I might die.

The problem is that my general approach to this feeling is to avoid the stresses entirely -- watch a movie or play video games, and just try to ignore the stresses that are making me feel like I'm going to die. But then, of course, these things don't get done. They're still hovering over my shoulder the next day, with even less time left in which to complete them, leaving me to feel even more like I'm going to die.

This is obviously a horrible cycle. It's a cycle I need to break.

I'm not sure exactly how to do this, except to try to focus on one thing at a time, forgetting the things that aren't quite as urgent. Prioritize and focus. Looking at too much all at once is only going to fill me with dread and avoidance.

And that's not going to help me get anything done.

Forgetting things

Today was an odd day.

Like most Wednesdays, there were numerous points throughout the day when I would find myself suddenly terrified that there was something I was forgetting.

In the shower today: Holy crap, I'm supposed to do something -- what is it?

Eating breakfast: Holy shit, I'm supposed to do something -- what is it?

Sitting at the computer: Holy shit, I'm supposed to do something -- what is it?

Turns out, what I was forgetting was the same thing I forget every single Wednesday -- that I'm supposed to write my column. Unfortunately, I was also forgetting that I don't have to remember to write my column anymore. So there was some kind of weird, meta-forgetting thing going on.

Of course, I'm dusting off this blog today, so in a way, this is where my column writing is going. Although, let's all hope that I'll find my way back here a bit more frequently than just once a week.

In other news, I'm now giving serious consideration to completely rewriting the end of Dinner and Drinks, only two weeks before we open. How fucking psychotic is that? Nevermind, don't answer, there isn't even a word for how psychotic that is.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Week (or Why God Hates Me)

So, Merritt didn't entirely suck, which was a nice surprise, and all around I had a pretty decent weekend. Which should have been a sign of the horrible, horrible things to come. And would have been, if I had maintained my usually pessimistic attitude. Instead, I found myself thinking, "Hey, things are going along kind of good! How awesome is that!"

I'm a stupid, stupid man sometimes.

On Monday, driving home from work, my car dies on the highway for no apparent reason. I manage to steer it off to the side of the road, but it won't start back up again, and it's 8:00 at night and I don't really know what else to do with it, so I leave it there and walk home. The great thing about walking to my house is that the further you walk, the steeper the hills get to be. So as you get more and more tired, the hike gets more and more exhausting. It's really brilliantly designed, if you happen to be a masochist.

Tuesday, I get the car towed to Canadian Tire, where it'll sit in their parking lot until Wednesday morning, when they'll get the chance to look at it. So I'll be transportationless for one whole day. Nothing to lose sleep over.

Tuesday afternoon, I get a phone call from the Tribune. They're cancelling my column after 14 years (ten years of that time spent calling their "Weekender" or "Tribune Weekend" or whatever it's now called home). This makes me sort of sad. Actually, this makes me inredibly sad, and I spend Tuesday night getting wickedly shitfaced, essentially holding a wake for my soon-to-be-deceased column (speaking of which, if you feel like sending angry letters of protest to the editor and the publisher at the Trib, you can reach the editor at or the publisher at -- I'm not suggesting that you do this, of course, but it'd probably make my heart feel a little warm if you did).

Wednesday, I'm hung over from the wake. Canadian Tire calls and tells me it's the starter, and it'll cost about $500 to repair. Ugh. But I tell them to go ahead, because, hey, I need my car. I haven't heard anything further by late afternoon, so I call back to see how things are going. Apparently they didn't have a starter in stock, so they had to order, and it'll be done on Thursday. So...another day without transport. Not a big a deal.

Thursday morning, Canadian Tire calls again. The starter's in, but the car still won't turn over. The engine is seized, and the car is, for all intents and purposes, a gigantic chunk of scrap metal. Which is awesome, because I'm still going to have to pay the $500 for the starter job that was done, essentially dumping half-a-grand into a car that is never going to move under its own power again. Because, you know, I've got fucking money to burn. This also means that I'm currently transportationless for...well, who the fuck knows at this point?

And that's my week so far. Since monday. Four days. Not even four WHOLE days yet, because, you know, Thursday is just starting.

At this rate, I'm going to probably die of a stroke tomorrow. And right at this moment, a part of me thinks that would be just fine.

Friday, July 13, 2007


So, in just a couple of hours, I'll be heading to Merritt for the music fest. If you know me, this might seem odd, as I'm not big on country music. But I have media access, and I'm covering the event for ArtScene, know, free vacation and all that rot.

There's a good chance I'll be moblogging parts of the trip either here over at the ArtScene blog, so if you're bored, and feel like checking up on how the event is going, you can watch for those mini-updates. If you're not bored...then I assume you're having a lovely weekend.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Cycles and epiphanies

As the years roll by and I get older, I begin to notice more and more how parts of my life run in cycles. Reading, for examples, runs on a cycle. For weeks or months at time I won't read anything except web sites and occasional newspapers. And then suddenly I'll pick up a novel and I'll be a reader for a period of weeks or months, devouring the first book I picked up, and then another, and then another, and then another, sometimes even going out of my way to buy a batch of books because I've run out of stuff to read.

And then as quickly as it started, it'll stop again -- no reading.

My writing tends to work in the same way. For a period of weeks or months I'll be desperately passionate about some new piece of writing, and I'll work on it constantly -- sometimes every night, if things are going particularly well, but at least every second or third night.

And then, almost out of blue, I'll hit a period of burnout. I wouldn't touch the book if my life depended on it. I fill my free time with movies, video games, and mindless web surfing. And I'll go on like this for weeks at a time.

Inevitably, though, I'll begin to feel guilty about these time-wasters. I'll begin to feel the untouched book actually starting to die from neglect, and I'll put the games and the movies and the web down and get back to work again.

I got back to work tonight.

I tried to play some video games, but they just didn't hold any appeal to me. I sat on the sofa and I stared at the Xbox and Wii and I knew that they weren't going to provide any enjoyment. But I tried anyway. Fifteen minutes on this game, fifteen minutes on that one, but nothing. The book beckoned.

I should have seen it coming. I've been sitting on the edge of something not-so-pleasant for the last few days. Not a depression, exactly, but I haven't been terribly upbeat either. I felt, in fact, like I was on the verge of an epiphany, and it didn't feel like a terribly good one.

Epiphanies come in all shapes and sizes. And, I think, differing levels of clarity. This one was vague. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was, but it stirred up some memories, made me question what I'd been doing with my time lately, and made feel -- once again, because this is something I've felt quite often -- that my life is filled almost entirely with mistakes.

I felt the overwhelming need to change something significant about my life. But I didn't know exactly what.

So without any clear indicator of what needed to be changed, I wrote. Because that was something I could change, and is always something worth changing -- doing a bit more work is never a bad thing.

Unfortunately, that feeling -- the feeling that somethings significant needs to change -- remains. Which leaves me little choice but to flail around trying to figure out what it is, hoping that either the answer finally arrives, the feeling leaves me in peace.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mourning the death of the english language...

From an email I received at work today...
"Wha Laa..."
Which I'm pretty sure is a phonetic representation of the word "Viola." Which I'm pretty sure I was familiar with by, well, at least the eighth grade.

This sort of thing makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Or eat a bullet. Or both.

Or maybe it's just that I'm having a pissy day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It was magic!

So far, the production of "Dinner and Drinks" has been a...well, let's say interesting, experience. This is my third time in the director's chair, but the first time directing something I've actually written myself. And I have to tell you, that changes things considerably.

I've already done one polish on the script, prior to the first readthrough. And since then -- with only the one readthrough, and two rehearsals under our belt -- I've made copious notes on even more things I want to change. Things that sound awkward, things paced badly, things that aren't funny. All sorts of things.

Which is good. That's what this was all about -- using the production process as a phase of the editing process.

With only two rehearsals complete -- and with those two rehearsals focused on only two of the play's four scenes -- I'm incredibly excited about how good things are already looking. It's fun to hear the words I've written coming out of people's mouths, particularly when the work. I hate to pat my own back, but there are some pretty funny exchanges in the play, that work even better when read allowed. And seeing those moments play out on stage, when they work, is just...amazing.

But, so far, the best part came last night, when rehearsed the, er, climax to the show. There's very little dialogue, and the scene plays out against music, with changes in the music as the cue for changes in the action.

This is a scene I've had imagined in my head for probably close to two years now. Last night I saw it, for real, on stage, for the first time.

And I loved it.

I got chills.

Little hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

I am not kidding.

I know as the weeks go on, and I see the scene again and again and again, it'll lose some of this initial charm, and become just another moment on stage. But I'm hoping that some of this initial magic will be preserved -- even if I don't see it -- until we actually put the show on stage, so that, if all goes well, those in the audience might have the same sort reaction I did. That is, after all, what it's about.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Past, present, future...

Leaving work today, nursing my numerous crises, reflecting on the crises of others, I found myself thinking about the script to Dinner and Drinks, in particular its final scene.

It's a scene that, at least at first, wasn't actually supposed to be there. As originally envisioned, Dinner and Drinks was going to be three scenes, involving three different couples, and when the three scenes were done, the play would be as well.

As I wrote it, though, I discovered that these three scenes that were going to make up the play were, while occasionally funny, essentially downer stories. The people were in bad relationships, or ditching bad relationships, or refusing the start bad relationships. Once you stripped the chuckles away, you were left with some pretty messed up, unhappy, dysfunctional people.

I decided I needed the play to end on a slightly more positive note, so for the fourth scene I decided to revisit the couple from the first scene -- whose story ended on probably the most downer note of the three -- and decided to give them some semblance of a happy ending.

I was inspired as well, I think, by a desperate need for a happy ending in my own life, not just in general, but for a specific circumstance I was going through at the time that I was writing that play. For the record, my own happy ending didn't come, but since then, I've become increasingly convinced that happy endings are a bit of a rarity even at the best of times.

I bring all this up because, while thinking about the script today, I realized that if I were writing that same play right now, I don't think I would have ended it quite the same way.

I still believe, to some degree, much of what is contained in the final scene. That sometimes you have to fight and take chances to try to get the things that mean the most to you. And that sometimes that most important thing is love. But I don't know if I believe it quite as passionately as I once did. Which got me to realizing that, on some levels, I'm not the same person now that I was when I wrote that script.

Which got me thinking about writing in general.

Writing, if you do it properly, can give the writer an amazing ability to look back at himself. It doesn't matter if you're writing a daily journal, writing a novel, writing a play, or writing a poem -- if you're putting part of yourself into it, then you're creating a permanent record of who you were at that point in your life. The things you believed in, the things you cared about, the things you were terrified of. And you can look back at those things years later and go, "Oh, so that's who I was."

Which is sort of cool.

Phase Two is almost complete

Following yesterday's callbacks from callbacks, Dinner and Drinks is 99% cast. I just need to make a few phone calls, confirm with all the actors their availability for the performance in Kelowna in October, and make the official announcement of the cast.

Which I won't be doing quite yet. Because it's only 99%, and things are still pending, and if I made any sort of announcement I would, without a doubt, be jinxing an already fairly sufficiently jinxed production.

First readthrough is scheduled for next Wednesday, with a Wednesday and Saturday rehearsal schedule. I won't lie to you -- I picked a Wednesday rehearsal night because Wednesdays are wing at Oliver's, and the more common Tuesday / Thursday rehearsal schedule tends to miss that fine bar special.

For some, it might seem like their priorities were a bit shuffled to schedule their rehearsal time around what night had the really good special at the pub, but when a visit to a local watering hole is pretty much a given post-rehearsal (as it tends to be when I'm in the director's chair) this seems like the most obvious approach. Plus the wings at Olivers are damn fine.

So if anyone wants to come and hang out with a bunch of loud people, drinking beer, eating wings, and probably conversing about all manner of filth (two hours of rehearsing a play about sex will do a lot to diminish conversational taboos), feel free to drop by our table. We'll usually be hitting the pub around 9:00ish.

It's feeling surprisingly good to see things finally falling into place for the production. Getting the approval, getting accepted into ACToberfest, and now (almost) having a cast. Next on the agenda is a quick polish / rewrite of the script before next week, so I can have a copy of the script for everyone in the cast at Wednesday's readthrough. I keep looking at the script, and at some of the sequences that I want to fix, and then I just sigh and put the script away, because I don't really have the energy to push through with the changes.

One of my cast members had commented a few times that the script is quite "clever" and I sort of agree -- with one scene in particular. Or, at least, half a scene. The latter half of the scene, less clever, and that's one of the big trouble areas I want to try to fix before next week. It's all going along just fine, with some really nice back and forth wordplay, and then all of a sudden it's like it's on a race just to get to the end. And it just doesn't *work* when compared to the earlier part. It's not as good, it's not as funny, it's not as clever.

I can't remember for certain, but I think I may have just gotten tired of all that cleverness, because as easy as it looks on paper, actually coming up with those clever lines can be rather a lot of work. And after doing it for half the scene, I think I probably just got lazy and took the path of least resistance.

Don't take the path of least resistance. Yes, it's easier, and yes, the road less traveled probably looks a little scary. But the path of least resistance is where all the carnivorous animals are hanging out, because that's where everyone else goes, so they can be pretty sure there'll be a good meal if they hang out there for a bit.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Let's get things rolling...

Well, I'm never going to get to 500 posts if I don't start, you know, posting. So here's another one.

Casting for Dinner and Drinks just got a little bit easier, now that one of my candidates has dropped out of the running, leaving me with almost exactly enough people for the show (there is one additional candidate, who I'd have to reschedule to accommodate, but I don't think I'm going to be doing that, as a reschedule drops someone else out of the running). Now I just have to hope that everyone's schedule is free in October so we can take the show to Kelowna. If not, I have to spend some time sobbing into a frothy mug of beer, and that's never any fun.

I want to do at least one polish on the Dinner and Drinks script before rehearsals start. There's a sequence towards the end of the second scene that has never sat well with me. Something about it seems kind of awkward and forced. Maybe I'm just being too picky, but I'm hoping I can get two people to sit down and do a reading of the whole script so I can try to zero in on what -- if anything -- is bugging me about the dialogue, so I can do a major cleanup before actors have scripts in their hands.

Oh, we're set for sponsors too -- we officially have a business sponsor for each of the four performances we'll be doing, so that's one less thing my producer needs to be working on, and one less thing I need to be stressing about. Fewer stresses are always a good thing.

In other news, I'm going to be swamped in major ArtScene work for the next three or four days. Hooray.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Slowly but surely...

"Dinner and Drinks" is -- little by little -- finally coming together. Following two auditions, there is almost a cast in place. I just need to drag a few people back for callbacks, just to double-check how my gut is telling me to cast the show, then we'll officially be able to start rehearsals, after confirming the casts' availability for a performance in Kelowna in October.

That's the other piece of exciting news in regards to the show -- we just confirmation today that we are have been selected to participate in the Actoberfest one act festival that Theatre BC will be holding for the first time his year. Festival performances will run on the hour from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Friday, October 12th and 10:00 am to 11:00 pm on Saturday, October 13th.

"Dinner and Drinks" has two performance slots -- 1:00 pm on Saturday afternoon at the Black Box Theatre and 7:00 pm on Saturday evening at the Black Box Theatre.

So, you know, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, come by and check the show out.

So far, just about every facet of bringing this show to life has seemed a little surreal. This is without a doubt one of the boldest moves I've taken with something of my own creation. Trying to mount a local production of this show would be stressful enough as it is, but the Actoberfest entry seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, so I thought, why not at least try?

So I did.

And now we're in. And now I'm not only going to be showing this thing that I wrote to the local folks who come to see it, but a festival full of theatre junkies from around the province.

Good lord, I hope they like it.

Exciting news, nonetheless. A full report on "Dinner and Drinks" casting will probably arrive next wee.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Blog post #464

Yesterdays Moblog posts provide compelling reasons for why I should never be allowed to attend Karaoke-based events. They just make me sad. And they make me hate the human race.

Yesterdays Moblog posts also provide compelling reasons for why I probably shouldn't moblog if I've been drinking.

On the bright side, those two posts helped the blog get two posts closer to the magic 500 blog post number, which I've been thinking about for awhile now (at least as far back as last year).

With approximately 36 posts to go before I reach the 500th meaningless ramble in this space, I've been wondering if I'll make it across that line before the end of the year. It's certainly conceivable -- one a week would almost be enough to do it -- but I have to concede that this space has been a little dusty lately.

My attention has been diverted. Too many other projects. Writing my ass off for the ArtScene, being in a play, prepping to direct a play, and yes, on occasion playing video games when I should probably be doing some actual work, has sort of gotten the better of my free time lately.

Not that this is an apology for that. Sometimes life happens, and some things take a back seat to old things. Like this blog. C'est la vie.

Nor is this a promise to blog more. It's a promise I'd like to make, but I'm also pretty sure that the odds of my actually following through or on the slim side, so why bother with a promise I'm not likely to keep.

Instead this is...I'm not sure what this is, really. An acknowledgement, that I realize that there hasn't been much to read here lately, and that it might go on that way -- except, of course, for the 36 more posts I hope to do before year's end, so I can celebrate the 500th post.

Which makes me wonder...what should I do in celebration of the 500th post?

No need to stress right now. It's not like it's right around the corner or anything.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Dear world (Part 2)

No, seriously, I fucking hate you.

Your friend,
Sent via BlackBerry on the Bell Mobility network because I am teh kewlz0rz.

Dear world...

Dear world,

I hate you,

Best regards,
Sent via BlackBerry on the Bell Mobility network because I am teh kewlz0rz.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It's Official

After more time spent on the edge of my seat than I'd like to admit to, I can finally announce the second secret project that I've been trying to pull together for the last few weeks. Or months maybe, it's hard to remember now.

Dinner and Drinks, a play written and directed by Todd Sullivan (that's me, by the way) will be on stage at the Limelight in August. Dates are tentatively set for August 10 and 11, and August 17 and 18. Here's the somewhat flowery synopsis I came up with a few weeks back:

"Four scenes involving three different couples, out for dinner on the same evening. The first couple struggles through the awkward aftermath of an unexpected one-night stand. The second couple, on the verge of divorce, find their attraction briefly rekindled by the most mundane of things — a post-break-up division of property. The third couple attempts to deal with the uncomfortable issue of stale bedroom activity after a few too many drinks. In the final scene, the first couple is revisited, ending the play on an upbeat note of hope, and a celebration of taking chances to achieve the things that are the most important."

This is obviously exciting for me, as a writer, to have the opportunity to actually put something I've written onto the stage, and see people go through the motions, reading the dialogue, and bringing it to life. This is also exciting for me, as a writer, because it should give me the opportunity to polish the heck out of this thing, because in seeing people delivering the lines, I'll be able to spot the lines that aren't working, that are clunky, that need to be fixed, or cut, or lengthened.

Hopefully it'll be exciting for the actors too, as they'll be able to have some input into the creation of the script. They'll be able to say, "You know, this line seems sort of awkward," and, with the playwright in the room, actually have someone there who can change it.

Of course, there'll be challenges for the actors as well -- if the script is going to be constantly modified, they'll be constantly learning new lines. But hey, we're not in this theatre thing for the glory, are we? No, we're in it for the challenge. And sometimes glory.

Given the subject matter of the play, there is of course the potential to offend, so the trick in the promotion will be to ensure that we're upfront about that subject matter, and make sure that we don't get people in the audience who aren't going to appreciate it. It's a problem I've had in the past (particularly with "Some Things You Need To Know Before The World Ends: A Final Evening with the Illuminati") when the marketing of a show didn't quite bring in the intended audience.

I've been nearly bursting at the seams waiting for this to become officially greenlit so I could make the announcement of it. That moment has finally arrived.

If you're reading this, and you want to take part, auditions will be held on May 19 at 7:00 pm and May 20 at 2:00 pm. Hope to see *someone* there.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The history of the Internet

Years ago, I started work on a book that would be, more or less, a collection of columns that I had written under the "Caught in the 'Net" banner. It was intended to be a sort-of history of the Internet, during its more popularized phase (meaning, when it broke out of the universities in the mid-90s) and was going to be titled something kind of catchy like, "The Internet: An Autobiography."

Nothing ever came of the few days of work I put into the book, because the few days of work I put into the book probably had more to do with it being therapy following the break-up with my wife than it being an actually decent idea for a book, though the memory of the idea is still bouncing around in my head, which is why my discovery of this strangely similar timeline of Internet history seemed so darn familiar.

I'm pretty sure that 90% of the stuff listed here was stuff that I covered, at one point or another, in "Caught in the 'Net" and is stuff that would have found its way into my own History of the Internet project. Thankfully, the fine folks at this site have done the work for me, in a far more concise form. And, also, in a far funnier way than my project likely would have turned out to be.

Anyone with more than five years of time spent on the Internet should give that link a quick look, for a walk down memory lane -- and a few chuckles along the way.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Holy busy, Batman...

So the first issue of the ArtScene -- formerly known as the secret project -- went to press yesterday, and is officially on the streets as of today.

It's not quite as beefy as I would have liked to see, but it's still a damn fine product that I'm damn proud to have worked on. I only hope we can kick as much -- if not even more -- ass with the second issue.

Work on the ArtScene has meant, somewhat strangely, that I've been doing a fairly good job of maintaining my New Year's resolution to write a whole lot more often, although I haven't been writing in many of the things I had been intending to. The novel is still stagnating and this blog is getting dusty, but I there's a fair amount of content from me in ArtScene #1, which is sort of cool, as it's something that's actually out and being read, and not something that's just sitting on my hard drive.

Secret Project #2 (the unannounced announcement from my last post) is still up in the air, and while I'm eager to spill the beans on what it is, I'm wary to until there's a 100% confirmation that it's going ahead. People who know me already know what this project is, so they don't have to feel left out. For the rest of you -- of which I suspect there might be two, maybe three -- you'll just have to wait. Sorry.

Those of you interested in keeping up with the goings-on at the ArtScene, we've cobbled together a blog dedicated to it. There's not much to look at for now, but we're going to try to keep a fairly regular flow of content their, whether it's behind-the-scenes goings on, articles that didn't make the final cut, or just random silliness, there'll hopefully be something new there every couple of days. Which is more than I can say for this space here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I know it's been sparse lately...

...but I've got big news coming soon.

Or I won't. I can't tell at the moment. Which is why I haven't said anything about it yet. But if I don't have big news soon, then I'll have more time to blog, more likely, so things won't be so sparse. So it'll be one or the other.

I confess, I'm certainly hoping for the big news.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


So there's a fantastic Eulogy for Kurt Vonnegut at the Onion AV Club, in which they countdown the 15 things he said that no one else could say as well. And there's definitley some killers in there, and it was nice to sit back and remember why I adored Vonnegut's writing so much, and really feel the sting at the passing of one of the finest literary minds to walk the earth this century.

Strangely, though, in reading through the comments, I came across a response to the article that moved me almost as much as the article itself.

I've been going through such a rough time now, and Vonnegut's passing has made me turn back to books of his I haven't read since I was a teenager... and there's some great solace in knowing that I'm not crazy. Most people are cruel, and arbitrary, and selfish, and fate even more so. But that's no excuse to join in making it worse. All we can do is try and make the world a little kinder, and enjoy those few moments we're given when being human gives us the opportunity to enjoy something beautiful.

Okay, maybe it's not quite as tight as Vonnegut himself would have put it. But the man's spirit is in those words, and that's the most important thing.

All any of us can ever really hope to do, in the effort to achieve some form of immortality, is leave others around us changed -- hopefully for the better -- by our presence here on this earth. It is through those who we have changed that we have a legacy after we are gone.

In the words of that comment, one thing is clear: Vonnegut has achieved his immortality, and has left those of us who are familiar with his words better for it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tout comprendre c’est tout pardoner

The massacre at Virginia Tech has been haunting me this week, for reasons obvious to anyone who knows me -- I have a weird sort of obsession with school shootings. I'm not entirely sure why. On some level, it's because I see it as a sort of epidemic that is unique to our current place in history, and find myself wondering just what that epidemic says about our society -- put another way, if school violence is the symptom, what is the disease?

I think, on some level, I obsess about these things because most of these school killers were fucked up loners, people who didn't quite fit into any particular social group, they didn't get along with the other kids, they were weird, they looked funny, whatever. And that's something I can relate to. Who knows -- in a different world, with a different set of circumstances, maybe I could have been one of the kids behind the gun, not really evil, just angry and confused and alone.

So I've been reading whatever I could on the killings at Virginia Tech. And one of the articles I came across cited Charles Whitman as the man who ushered in the era of mass killings to the United States. And I realized that this was probably true.

Charles Whitman, for those unfamiliar, is better known as the guy who climbed to the top of University of Texas clock tower in 1966 with a handful of rifles, and shot and killed 15 of his fellow students.

Whitman's been named a lot in the coverage of the Virginia Tech massacer as, up until Virginia Tech, Whitman's 1966 spree of violence was the worst school shooting in American history. And if there's one thing that the American media likes to do, it's draw comparisons.

So Virginia Tech led to read about Charles Whitman -- again, as I'd looked him up on the 'Net before -- and he remains fascinating. 40 years after he dragged a rifle to the top of the University of Texas clock tower, there's been plenty of time to rip his life open, to rip his head open, to try to understand the only question that matters when someone murders more than a dozen people: Why?

And there are plenty of answers.

He had a brain tumour. He had a history of drug problems. He had psychological troubles. He was under tremendous stress.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, knowing what *might* have motivated to do something horrible, doesn't actually open any door into their lives. It doesn't give you the answers that you're seeking. In fact, by creating so many possible answers to the question, it simply makes the question itself that much more difficult to answer.

In reading about Whitman, I came across an almost-amazing piece on his spree of violence a the University of Texas. As I read this piece, I became convined that Whitman's story could -- and should -- be examined in an art form of some kind, because his story, and the story of 15 innocent people dead becausew of him, resonates just as powerfully today as it did 40 years ago.

Unfortunately, I have to say "almost-amazing" because the piece didn't quite go where I was expecting. And as much as the writer's message is noble and pure, I disagree with his ultimate condemnation of Whitman's actions, not because I think the slaughter of 15 people is perfectly fine, but because it's far too easy to simply condemn with making the effort to understand.

And that's what disappoited me about the article. In everything that led up the final few paragraphs, it looked like the writer was going to do something that is done far, far too infrequently these days -- actually try to understand the man behind the horror.

He cites the french phrase, "Tout comprendre c’est tout pardoner" in the article, and it's now one I want to memorize, because it resonates so powerfully with me.

Translated into English it means, “To understand all is to forgive all,” and it is a beautiful, true, and ultimately dangerous idea.

Beautiful, because forgiveness is always a thing of beauty.

True, because to completely understand what motivated someone to do the sorts of things that happened at the University of Texas or Virginia Tech or Columbine, is also to have no choice but to forgive. Because if you completely understand every single motivating factor, you would realize that they had no choice but to do the things that they did.

And dangerous, because of this truth, and because no one wants to accept that these sorts of events are unavoidable.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

I suppose it can't come as a great surprise, given that he was 84 years old and smoked unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes, but it sent a shock through my system when I read the news just a few minutes ago that Kurt Vonnegut died tonight.

And no, it wasn't the unfiltered Pall Malls that did him in. It was, apparently, the result of brain injuries sustained after a fall a few weeks ago.

There's only been a handful of writers who have managed to captivate me so quickly in so little time. Douglas Coupland is one, Chuck Palahniuk is another. And yes, Kurt Vonnegut is on that list as well.

I'd known the name for years, but didn't become acquainted with his material until just a few short years ago when I picked up a copy of "Timequake" at a second hand bookstore.

To say I fell in love with the way he used words would be an understatement.

In 2005 I read a stage adaption of four of his short stories called, "Welcome to the Monkey House" -- named after Vonnegut's short story collection that had contained the original stories.

I went on to direct a production of that show in 2006, all the while looking for other Vonnegut material I could get my hands on. I tracked down a copy of the "Monkey House" collection, as well as what is probably his best known book, "Slaughterhouse Five," which I devoured in a couple of evenings. I fell madly, desperately, psychotically in love with "Breakfast of Champions" which might very well be the largest, broadest, most successful satire I've ever set my eyes on, being nothing more than a great big, "What the fuck is wrong with you?" letter to America. Penned in the 1970s, "Champions" remains incredibly relevent today.

But then, that's the way of it with Vonnegut's material. The material I worked with in the "Monkey House" production was originally written in the 1950s and the 1960s, and except for a certain flavour to the language and setting that kept it locked in the era in which it was created, the contant was just as relevent to the 21st century as it was halfway through the last one.

It's something that plenty of writers can, and should, be jealous of -- the ability to write something that can live on beyond the time in which it was created. Something so universal that it can speak to the hearts of those who weren't even born when it first appeared in bookstores.

I have hard time thinking of anyone more deserving of that sort of success than Mr. Vonnegut. If there was one thing that shone through in his work, it was a fantastic love of mankind. Sure, he poked his finger at our faults, but it wasn't to make us feel bad or guilty, it was because he knew we could be better than we are. And should always strive to be.

About this he was always very clear.

In his later years, he would tell a story -- and, in fact, that story would find its way into "Timequake" -- about the answer his son gave him when he asked the ultimate of philsophical questions: "Why are we here?"

What his son said -- a son who clearly had the same love for mankind that defined his father -- was this: "We are here to help each get through this thing, whatever it is."

I can think of no better life philosphy than that one.

God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut. You will be missed.

Monday, April 09, 2007

After the twitters have twittered

So I've been thinking the last few days, wondering what sort of impact this silly little Twitter thing might have on my blogging, or if it will have any impact at all.

Looking around here lately, one might get the impression that making frequent, short, mini-blog sort of posts at Twitter has distracted me from the longer form of blogging. But I'm not so sure that's true. More than likely, it's simply that I've been busier than normal lately, and the blog has been taking the necessary back-seat within that context. Any somewhat regular reader of this space knows that my blogging kind of goes in waves -- sometimes there's a massive output, and sometimes...well, not so much.

Having said that, I think it'd be wrong to ignore Twitter's impact entirely. I'm sure there have been at least a handful of things that I've dumped onto twitter, with 140 characters or less, that I would have blown up into a full-size blog post if not for something like Twitter. And I can only think of that as a good thing.

Twitter, besides being a way to obsessively chronicle the minutia of your day-to-day life, is also a fantastic outlet for the little annoyances that would, very likely, turn into long and not-so-terribly interesting blog posts.

So while it's possible that Twitter is stealing some material from this space over here, if it is in fact happening, then trust me on this: It's not stealing anything you'd want to read anyway.

It's all about finding the appropriate container for the idea.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

More on twitting.

It's not happening quickly by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm slowly wrapping my head around the usefulness of something like Twitter, because it really does work in ways that extend beyond what is obvious.

At first glance, it looks like a mini-blog. "What are you doing?" is the question you're meant to answer with a Twitter post. Most of the time, most of us aren't doing anything of any particular interest, myself included. So the first time I looked at Twitter, my first reaction was, "Okay, that's dumb."

But thankfully I actually decided to give it a try. And I'm beginning to see that it's actually quite a bit bigger than just a repository for the boring details of your boring life. It's also a collective of the boring details of the lives of a bunch of boring people.

Which, okay, maybe doesn't sound that much better. But stick with me for a second here.

I got my first friend on Twitter yesterday, and discovered that while I'm using Google Chat to update my own Twitter status, Google Chat also reports back to me on any of the status updates made by my friends. Which allows me to keep track of what they're up to and what they're doing.

It's sort of like a social RSS feed for the people you want to keep track of.

For example, if someone on my friend's list decides at 5:30 to post, "Fuck this, I'm ditching work and going for a beer," I'll get the notification. Maybe I wouldn't have known that any other way. So maybe I call him up and say, "Hey, I saw you were going for a beer -- want some company?" Or maybe I just hit the bar and crash his table. Or maybe I let him have a beer and I just go home, whatever, it doesn't matter. It's a way of keeping abreast of the ins and outs of the lives of the people around you, without having to phone them constantly. It's like a short-form of the holiday letter you send to your friends and family, telling them how your life has been for the last twelve months, except you can update it every hour instead of every year. And everyone who's following your updates online gets to see it.

And the more I use it, the more I have this strange, instinctive gut feeling that there's still more that can be done with it. I think Twitter in its current incarnation could very well be just the tip of a massive and exciting iceberg. The potential is potentially fantastic.

As a quick example, just a few minutes ago I found that CNN had a breaking news Twitter page. Now, if I added CNN's breaking new coverage to my friends list, I'd have an automatic news update in my google chat anytime an important story broke. Sure, that seems nothing more than a non-traditional way of distributing traditional media, but there's a convenience factor too.

In fact, I *would* have signed up as a friend to breaking news, but it doesn't look like it's getting much use from CNN. They may still be trying the product out. Or maybe it's just a bored intern.

Either way, there is some fantastic potential in this thing. I'll be sticking with it, I suspect, to see how that potential works out over the months and the years. And it's not like I'm the only person on Twitter sharing the boring details of their boring life. That's pretty much everyone.

Monday, April 02, 2007

New toys, new techniques

One of the most interesting things about changes in technology is how those changes inspire us to change the very ways that we use technology. This is obviously the case with big, sweeping changes in technology. No one can argue that things like the telephone (in its day) and the Internet (during the last decade) had a massive impact on the way we communicate with each other.

But smaller changes in technology can also change the way approach our day-to-day lives.

When I first got my blackberry a couple of years ago, it was nothing but a cell phone with a bunch of kind-of interesting features attached to it. But after playing with it for a few months, I started to wrap my head around those other features, and I began to modify -- in small ways -- the way in which I used technology. I started scheduling things instead of actually depending on my memory. I stopped checking my email on my computer, and started to get it on the blackberry. More and more of my life began to find its way into that little device.

Mind you, this level of dependence has caused more than a little panic on the one or two occasions that I was convinced that I had lost the damn thing somewhere, but that's not really the point I'm trying to make.

The point is that in order to really progress in the 21st century, you can't pigeonhole new technology into the old ways of doing things. You have to invent new ways to capitalize on what new technology offers you.

In the last week, I've started to play around a bit with Google's "Docs and Spreadsheets" and "Notes" -- both web-based applications, and both incredibly cool, if you are able to look at them in new ways.

There's a new project currently under development at the newspaper I'm working at, and I'm currently trying to find ways that these online tools can be used to make this project more efficient. The ability to open both your word processing documents and your notes to collaborators means that processes like story editing and project planning can be more easily performed by multiple people.

I'm sure I have yet to maximize the possibilities provided by these two Google services, and I may never get around to doing that. But already their existence is inspiring me to rethink the way I do some of the most integral parts of my job. And, assuming those changes lead to improvements, that can only be a good thing.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm a twit.

Okay, two days later and I'm actually starting to get into this stupid Twitter thing. I'm still not sure I entirely understand what the point of it is, but that doesn't make it any less fun. I don't entirely understand the process of digestion, but I remain awfully fond of food.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Awfully quiet around these parts.

And this post isn't going to do much to get things rolling. I'm still in post-play vacation mode or something, completely unable to get motivated to do anything constructive. Well, that's not entirely true -- there's a new project going on at work that I'm sort of pumped about. But I can't talk about that yet.

So, for now, I'm playing with some annoying new web 2.0 thingy. It's called Twitter, and it's like a mini blog. Instead of long rambling posts, you just post short, 100 character entries about what you're doing right now. The potentially interesting thing about it is that it works Google Talk, which means I could technically update the twitter site wherever I was -- at home, at work, or out at the bar, thanks to my blackberry.

My twitter page is here. Only two entries to speak of at the moment, but let's see if I get into this thing or let it die.

Monday, March 19, 2007


So, "Sylvia" has reached the end of its initial run, and now goes into a sort of hiatus / hibernation for a couple of weeks, until we drift back into a casual rehearsal schedule to prepare for festival.

This, of course, means that I have been given the gift of freedom again. Freedom to sit around and stare at the ceiling, and play with the Xbox 360, and drink beer, and not really care if there's anything more important I should be doing.

Which should last for about three days, before I start going insane from boredom. At which point it'll be time to dust off some writing again. The "will write every single day" resolution made in January hasn't worked out so well for me so far, though I admit I've been pretty busy. Now that I'm not, I really should get back to work on something.

Editing of "Waiting for A Miracle" should, and probably will, become the primary focus. It's the easiest work, in some ways, as it's something I can do on the sofa in the living room. And it's the hardest too, because sometimes you just run into a page or two that's just so horribly written that you can't think of any way to actually fix it, and then you want to cry.

If I can edit to the end of the first half of that novel, I think I might put it away long enough to finish writing the second half of the latest novel, currently titled, "Everyday Epiphanies."

Although, there is a sort-of secret project going on in the middle of all this that will either take up all of my attention, or none at all, and eventually wind of flushed down the drain is an interesting but ultimately flawed idea. So we'll have to wait and see how that goes.

Oh, and if you have any interesting in video games, or what I think about video games, I'm currently hacking out a multi-part piece over at my *other* blog. Which I'm mostly doing simply to justify having that other blog. You can find it here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Random 1/4

The phone rings, it's early, it's seven o'clock.
He says sorry I woke you, but I just had to talk
You know last night, remember when I tried to choke you?
I didn't mean it, I was drunk, it was only a joke.

I think the reason that I don't care so much for the Barenaked Ladies when they're in goof-ball mode -- like in "Be My Yoko Ono" that appeared in yesterday's Random 10 -- is because when they're being serious, they can be just jaw-droppingly, staggeringly brilliant.

The lyric quoted above just rings so tragically true on so many levels that it isn't even funny. And that's a tragedy. And that's why it's brilliant.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Random Whatsit?

Yeah, it's a Random Ten, probably close to a year since I did the last one, so I'm not spending much time caring if it's Friday or not. Because, for the record, it's not.

1. Peter Gabriel - In the Sun (Princes Diana Tribute Track) - I'm sorry, besides the fact that she married a goofy looking prince, and had the tabloids willing to pay more money than was probably sensible for pictures of her, Princess Diana really wasn't a whole lot different than you or I, and while her death was certainly tragic, it wasn't really any more tragic than it would have been if the same thing had happened to you or I. Only, if we had been the ones in that car, it's unlikely that Elton John would have bastardized one of his greatest songs over us. I'm not sure what this Peter Gabriel song has to do with Diana, I've never heard it before, but if it is, in fact, a "Candle-In-The-Wind-Esque" sort of thing, then I'm disappointed that I have to lower Mr. Gabriel a notch on my respectometer. [Edit: He apparently didn't write this song, which ups him on the respectometer, because it means he didn't create some sappy love-fest over the death of a british almost-monarch]

2. Cat Power - I Found A Reason - Don't quote me on this, but I'm fairly sure this is from the "V For Vendetta" soundtrack. Admittedly, I don't know this song terribly well, but I'm struck by how haunting her voice is. Quite beautiful, really.

3. The Big L - Sounds vaguely like Roxette, and its place on the playlist seems to confirm the idea. It's very...Roxetteish. Which sometimes is good. This time, not so much.

4. Cher - I Found Someone - Cher's mid-80s comeback song. And it sounds it.

5. Radiohead - Blow Out (Live) - Wow, this is a crappy recording. I really need to clean out my MP3 collection someday. Hopefully before the next time I do a Random Ten, because this list, quite frankly, isn't doing much for me.

6. Debbie Gibson - This So Called Miracle - Okay, confession time, I guess. I had a super insane teeny-bopper crush on Debbie Gibson when I was a teen. In part, I think, because she was, herself, a teen. She won my heart because, unlike Tiffany -- her archnemisis in the battle to be the teen-queen-pop-star, she actually wrote her own material. This track comes from her third album, the last that I bought, as by the time it was released, I had pretty much grown out of the the crushes-on-teen-pop-stars thing, and because, for the most part, it wasn't a very good album. This song, though, was the standout track for me, and it's still something I'll queue up when I feel like enjoying a few musical guilty pleasures.

7. U2 - Please - Dunno it. Moving along.

8. Fury in the Slaughterhouse - Afternoon in the Cemetary - A great early-90s german (I think) band who faded into obscurity following one major radio hit. The music marketplace is so damn fickle. Of course, I don't recognize this song, so I suppose I'm just as guilty as the rest of the world for ignoring these guys.

9. Onion Radio - A Beloved Minister Dies Just As He Lived - Of A Heart Attack - The Onion is the best damn thing ever. That's all I have to say about that.

10. Barenaked Ladies - Be My Yoko Ono - You know, I'm quite fond of these guys, but this song doesn't do much for me.

And I guess that's ten. Cheerios and corn flakes.