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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mmmmm, booze...

The Guinness Book of World Records is a source we can all turn to when we need to know those random, pointless bits of trivia, like who has the longest fingernails, or who has eaten the most raw eggs in less than a minute. Unfortunately, if you're looking for booze-related records -- and really, who wouldn't be? -- you're out of luck with current editions of the book.

Apparently the folks behind the Guinness book stopped including liquor-based records in 1991, fearing lawsuits inspired by stupid people drinking themselves to death in attempts to find the sort of fame we all dream about: By being that guy who chugged a bottle of Absinthe faster than anyone else in the world.

Thankfully, the folks over at the calwineries blog have dug up some older booze records from Guinness, most of them from the 1979 edition, before retarded lawsuits became the norm.

Here's some highlights:

Strongest Beer
  • The strongest known beer in 1979 was EKU Kulminator Urtyp Hell from Kilmbach, West Germany, at 13.2 percent alcohol (1979).
  • Update: Bavarian brewer Harald Schneider, from southern Germany, brewed a beer that was 25.4% alcohol. Source.
Fastest Beer Drinking Relay
  • Czech patriots drank 2,662 half-litres of beer in less than 17 hours. Drinking at a rate of over 156 beers per hour, or 2.6 mugs per minute, the Czechs can now claim to be the fastest “relay” drinkers in the world (2004). Source.
Most Alcoholic Person (actual name of record)
  • It is recorded that a hard drinker named Vanhorn (1850 – 1911) averaged more than four bottles of Ruby Port per day for 23 years prior to his death at 61. He is believed to have emptied 35,688 bottles (1979).
So, for those of you thinking you're hardcore, serious drinkers, keep this in mind -- you have a lot to live up to. But if you plan to drink like a fish with an indestructible liver, don't do it for fame -- fame is fleeting, and most people would probably laugh at you for being the most alcholic person -- do it for yourself. Do it because you love the booze. And because the booze loves you.

Lovely, lovely booze.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Fuhcking Mondays.

I drove into work this morning earlier than usual because I couldn't sleep last night and I'd been tossing and turning since about 6:00 a.m. anyway. On the ride in, I noticed that the rear end of the car was making a bit more noise than is usual, and a bit more than I was comfortable with. Decided to give it a quick look when I stopped at the Mohawk for a Beaver Buzz and bottle of water.

The noise, it seems, was the result of a flat tire. Which I fucking drove all the way into town on. Now the rim's fucked too, I'm sure.

It was too early in the day, and I was too tired and cranky to deal with it. I left the car at the Mohawk and walked to work.

The damn thing will probably end up towed by the time I get back to it to swap the flat for the spare. Because that's just the way my day's going.

Why you shouldn't just approve any and every MSN "Friend" request...

Because I now have someone on my friends list whose screen name is "BITCH YOUR MOUTH IS ON THE BARREL AND MY FINGERS ON THE TRIGGER."

For God's sake, it's not even punctuated properly.

Human race, I'm ashamed of you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

"This is the best story and the worst story anybody ever wrote."

I have just rediscovered one of the most amazing short stories I ever laid eyes on.

I read it years ago, in a little known anthology which was called, I believe, Tales By Moonlight (Volume Two). 99% of the stories in the anthology did little if anything for me, but one of them, "The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged)" by John Varley, crept into my brain, made a massive impact, and stayed there ever since.

The anthology I once owned is long since lost, so while I have told just about every person I know about this story at one point or another, I haven't been able to show it to them, which is sort of disappointing, because we all know that listening to some hack try to *talk* about how good a story is is nothing compared to the power of the original story itself.

Which is why I am excited beyond words to have discovered the story, in its entirety, online. Right here.

Now, go read it. RIGHT NOW. It's jaw droppingly good, and it isn't terribly long, so it's not like you've got to invest a lot of time into it.



Here's the link again, in case you missed it.

New! Improved!

Those with a keen eye may notice a slight face lift of the layout here, a result of my finally converting my old blog template to the newer, spifier, and much more user friendly version. In the former version of blogger, all sorts of the page elements on the sidebar had to be hand-added with HTML to the page code (thankfully, I have some, albeit rusty, HTML skillz) -- with the new blogger templates, those sort of elements can be added through a spiffy new editing interface. Some of it still requires a degree of HTML knowledge, but instead of dropping it right into the template code, you can make each element an individual, uh, element. Which you can then drag around in your template, to decide where and how you want it to appear.

For the most part, at the moment, everything still looks about the same (though the appearance of the previous posts archive is a little bit modified), but if I ever decide to do a great big redesign here, it'll be a whole heck easier to do now.

Why "'Night, Mother" doesn't exist in this dimension quite yet...

This started off as a quick reply to a comment in the previous post, but the words got a little out of control, to the point that it seemed to make more sense as a post of its own. So here it is.

In response to this question, from the comments on my previous post:
Admittedly I know nothing about plays, but why do you have to wait so long to direct ‘Night Mother? I would like to see it on stage, and I don't think you'd have a problem finding anyone to play either part. Or is it a matter of license?

It's a matter of the way our local community theatre club works. And that's intended to diss the local theatre club in any way -- I'm actually fond of the way it works.

Before the start of each season, anyone interested in directing a show for that season goes and proposes the show they want to do, explaining why they want to do it, why they think the show will be successful, and how the play to mount the production.

Following all the proposals the "proposal committee" spends a couple of weeks reading all the proposed plays, then gathers to discuss the proposals to plan the upcoming season. And, thus far, 'Night, Mother has not been part of a season.

I do know that the play isn't universally hated by the people who've sat on the proposal committees in the past. I know that there have been a number of people who fought in favour of the show, but ultimately lost their argument. And, admittedly, it's not a simple play, it's not an easy play, and it's not -- and this might be it's biggest hurdle -- a happy play.

But I love it. And so I keep proposing it, time and time again, confident that, eventually, I'll either hit a committee that's more on my side then against it, or I'll simply wear down those in opposition.

I'm currently a bit on the fence about proposing it for next season, but not because I'm on the fence about doing it. It's because I want to do the show for festival, and preferrably a festival held in Williams Lake, because of the complexity of the set as it exists in my mind. It'd be one thing to build a complicated set that can be torn down and then set back up again in four hours, its another thing entirely to take that set on the road. And I've already had my experiences with taking complicated sets on the road (as can be seen here). I'm in no hurry to do that again.

But then, who knows. I've got until April (I think) to figure out what I intend to propose next season, and 'Night, Mother could certainly end up in front of the selection committee again. And if not next year, maybe the year after. And the year after that. And the year after that. I mean, I've got to wear them down eventually, don't I?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

In another dimension, this might already exist... this one, I'm still waiting.

I get bored of waiting sometimes, so I pretend like I'm not, and I do things like plan intermission music and design posters for plays that I want to direct and might, fates be willing, actually direct one day. Like "'Night, Mother." And like "Closer."

The actual point of this post, though, is to point out that I've fired up a Picasa Web Gallery, where I can dump all the photos that I don't actually take, because I don't have a digital camera at the moment. But if I ever get one, I'll probably dump them there.

I'm not quite as keen on the layout and interface of Picasa's Web Gallerys, compared to the layout at Flickr, but I'm going to give Picasa a try as it's a Google product, and between Gmail, Blogger, and (maybe) some use of Google Docs and Spreadsheets, I'm feeling sort of inclined to keep my web-based apps somewhat unified. So Picasa it is.

Not much to see there at the moment -- a couple of loose poster designs for some plays I want to do, and an archive of the five different Monkey House poster designs, for anyone who didn't see them, or wants to see them again.

Hit my Picasa web album here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stick Figure Surprise

A few weeks later, but as promised, the Stick Figure Drama season four web gallery is live, current as of the edition of the Cariboo Advisor that hits the streets tomorrow. Because season four includes the crossover event with SAFEHOUSE -- another regular strip that appears in the Cariboo Advisor -- I will be including SAFEHOUSE strips in the web gallery, for as long as the crossover lasts. Which means twice the comic strip action! Or, I guess, 1.5 times, because SAFEHOUSE only runs every two weeks.

The links is on the right, under STICKAGE, but for those too lazy to scroll, you can just click here.

While I'm on the topic of the crossover, let me just say a few things about this whole idea, which was essentialy my brain child, and which, I was sure, would turn out to be a miserable failure. For no other reason than the fact that, for the most part, I don't play well with others.

Let's not mince words. When it comes to the creative world, I'm a power-hungry psychopath. I have a vision, and I will fight to bring that vision to life, and anyone that gets in my way is just going to end up road kill.

So, of course, teaming up creatively with someone else is just a really, really stupid idea. It's been a stupid idea when I've tried it in the past, so surely it's going to be a stupid idea this time around. hasn't been like that.

Thus far, Jazmyn's been a dream to work with. Ever idea I've had has been something she's been willing to work with, and every idea she's had, instead of something I need to fight against, has actually proven to either be an idea that improves one of my own, or is flat-out better than one I already had. The ideas I had going into this have been, and continue to be, shaped and modified and ultimately improved by her involvement, which I must say is as big a delight as it is a surprise.

Which isn't to say that I've rethought my stance on playing with others. I still think I don't do a very good job at it. But, at the very least, it's interesting to learn that I'm not necessarily going to stab someone in the throat just because they've stepped into my sandbox.

More on Maslow

I realized after my earlier post on the self-actualized avocado pit (which I'm still, admittedly, a little bit jealous of) that I had missed out on opportunity for some self-criticism. If not criticism, then at least self-examination. And if I'm not willing to put myself under the knife, to confess the unfortunate or uncomfortable, and in doing so maybe find myself a little better for it, then what the heck am I doing this for?

I explained that, according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I was probably stuck at the "Love / Belonging" level.

For those unfamiliar, Maslow's hierarchy of needs theorizes that we, as human beings, are striving towards a state of self-actualization. According to wikipedia, Abraham Maslow had this to say about self-actualized people:
  • They embrace the facts and realities of the world (including themselves) rather than denying or avoiding them.
  • They are spontaneous in their ideas and actions.
  • They are creative.
  • They are interested in solving problems; this often includes the problems of others. Solving these problems is often a key focus in their lives.
  • They feel a closeness to other people, and generally appreciate life.
  • They have a system of morality that is fully internalized and independent of external authority.
  • They have discernment and are able to view all things in an objective manner. Prejudices are absent.
Okay, it's been awhile since I took this in psych, so I can't vouch for Wikipedia's accuracy, but it all sounds about right to me. And it all sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

On our way towards self-actualization, we have to work our way through a series of obstacles, starting with Psychological (breathing, food, water, sex, etc.) and continuing through Safety (security of body, of employment, of resources, of morality, etc.), Love / Belonging (friendship, family, sexual intimacy), Esteem (self-esteem, confidence, achievement, etc), and finally, yes, the glorious world of self-actualization itself.

Any roadblock along the way, regardless of how small, would prevent one from reaching that light at the end of the tunnel, and the happiness and contentment associated with it.

I've confessed that, if I have a roadblock in that hierarchy, it's probably at the "Love / Belonging" level. And I could probably tell you that it's because I have difficulty with sexual intimacy, but then I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear about that. So instead, I'll go with an even broader explanation: I have difficulty connecting with other human beings.

Growing up, I was shy, I was a loner, I didn't spend a lot of time with other people. I lived in my own space, I entertained myself, I kept myself occupied. I had friends, of course -- who doesn't? But they were few, and the time I spent with them a fraction of the time I spent on other pursuits.

I was, of course, lonely, as is the result of a lifestyle of this sort. Sometimes I'd find myself frustrated at the loneliness, sometimes I'd find myself desperate for a way out. And, eventually, with much effort, I found that way out, I found more and more people who were willing to listen to me, who were willing to spend time with me, who -- it seemed -- actually liked me.

However, this was fairly late in the game.

Not to say I was in my late-40s when I finally started making some sort of legitimate human contact, but it wasn't until I was in high school that I had a circle of friends that you could actually make a circle out of. Which, I sometimes fear, is late enough in the game to have a serious impact on your psyche.

The problem with having this sort of thing come into your life later in the game is that it places that very thing on rocky ground. I had friends, sure. I had people I liked to be around, and people who seemed to like to be around me. But I'd spent so many years *not* having them around, that all it took was one misstep and the whole thing would go sliding down the hill.

And, because life is life, there have been plenty of missteps. And plenty of times to see that fulfillment of love and belonging needs go sliding down that hill.

Fast-forward through twenty years of struggles and missteps. Where am I now?

Now I'm in a position where I have a circle of friends far larger than anything I could have imagined at 12 years old, and a circle of acquaintances that almost boggles my mind. And I have a difficult time feeling legitimately close to any of them.

I'm a cynical and sarcastic bastard at the best of times. I go through the motions of having a cold heart and indifferent nature to the world, but -- and I'm sure those of you who know me won't be at all surprised to hear this -- that isn't really me.

Sarcasm and cynicism is a defense mechanism. It keeps me separate. It keeps the world at a safe distance. It keeps the world at a level where I can interact with it, but where it can't knock me feet out from under me. And this, of course, is a problem.

Safety has never led to anything particularly significant. It's certainly never led to contentment, much less happiness. It leads to complacency. It also leads to fear. A fear of achievement. A fear of trying. A fear of reaching out and connecting with other human beings. And if you can't do that, you're never going to get past that stupid "Love / Belonging" phase in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

And you're certainly never going to overcome issues with sexual intimacy.

Which, uh, we're also not talking about.

In my defense, at least I'm aware of the problem, and I continue to try to make improvements on it, and have -- at varying speeds -- since high school. This doesn't mean that a resolution is around the corner, but at least it means that a resolution is conceiveable. And that is, at least, something.

Of course, as I said in my earlier post, all of this assumes that Maslow's hierarchy of needs isn't total horseshit. And, to be honest, it quite honestly could be. 90% of psychology doesn't really have much to do with empirical study, like most science. It has instead to do with labels and containers, with ways of categorizing things in a way that makes sense, with our need to establish order out of chaos. The human mind, and through it the human experience, is nothing if not, perhaps, the finest example of chaos imagineable. For that reason, most of these theories remain only labels and not answers, containers and not solutions. Which is why I've always had a thing for existential psychiatry.

But then, that's a topic for another day entirely.

Monday, March 05, 2007

On drinking.

"Something has been said for sobriety but very little." --John Berryman

"Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough." --Mark Twain

"The worse thing about some men is that when they are not drunk they are sober."
--William Butler Yeats

"Beware of the man who does not drink."

"When I realized that what I had turned out to be was a lousy, two-bit pool hustler and drunk, I wasn’t depressed at all. I was glad to have a profession."
--Danny McGoorty

"I drink to make other people interesting."
--George Jean Nathan

All quotes courtesy of an amusing list of drinking-related quotes found here. Booze is a topic that just about everyone seems to have had something to say about at one time or another. Unsurprisingly, most of what they have to say is pretty good, even when it's bad.

I do feel something's being missed, though, in the absence of one of my favourite quotes from Hunter Thompson. So I'll add it to my own list here:
"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."

Well said. Well said.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On avocadoes, pits, and Abraham Maslow

I love watching spam message subject lines. Well, okay, not always. The ones that say things like, "DID U WANT TO CUM LIKE A PORN STAR!!?!" are sort of boring, but some of the ones that try to sneak through the spam detectors can be fun to watch.

I got one today that made me smile. It said: "Self-Actualized Avocado Pit."

That wasn't what the ad was about, actually. The ad was trying to sell viagra and cialis, but that doesn't much matter.

What matters was, the subject line made me smile. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it was nice to be reminded of self-actualization, and Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a concept I haven't thought much about since the handful of psych courses I took in my misspent youth. Maybe because the idea of self-actualized avocado is just plain goofy. Maybe because I just needed a smile.

But then I got to thinking.

*What if* an avocado pit actually *was* self-actualized? What then?

Then an avocado pit would be better off then me. Better off than a flesh-and-blood human being, with hopes and dreams and fears and disappointments. Mind you, I suppose that avocado pit would actually be better than *most* of us, but that didn't really occur to me at the time. Just that, for a handful of seconds, I faced the possibility that somewhere in the world there was an avocado pit that was happier and more psychologically sound than I was.

That made me a little bit sad.

Looking at Maslow's hierarchy of needs (which you can find nicely summarized at Wikipedia here), I'd say I'm probably stuck at the "Love / Belonging" level, which is sort of frustrating, because if I could get past that, I think I'm actually doing okay at the "Esteem" level, which means self-actualization for *me* and not just for some stupid avocado pit would then be on the horizon. And that would be pretty cool.

All this is, of course, assuming that Maslow and his hierarchy of needs isn't horseshit. Which, hey, maybe it is. What do I know.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I am such a geek.

And, as such, I have fondness for certain geeky things. Video games, for one. Now that's not terribly uncommon, there are plenty of people around the world with a geeky fascination for video games, so nothing worth mentioning there, really.

I also have a fondness for newspaper style guides. I have a copy of the CP Stylebook at home, on my bookshelf. Sometimes I browse through it for fun. I really do.

Well, would you get a load of this.

Someone (well, technically three someones) has put together a newspaper style guide for video games. It's like peanut butter and chocolate for someone like me -- two great tastes that taste great together.

The best part is that they're giving away a *free* copy of the e-book version for any working writer. So I have, of course, sent off my request. Not because I spend a whole lot of time writing about video games -- I don't, much to my occasional surprise -- but because, like the CP stylebook, I'll actually read this silly little thing for fun. More than once, I'm sure.