Powered By Blogger

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Getting Vocal (with a Plus)

 Hello, hello!

A very long time for this, but I have been keeping myself busy with another page that promises to provide me with a bit of money: Vocal.

I am now contributing stories, poems and nonfiction to its pages on a platform called Vocal+, and I will be honest enough to say it: I need your hits! Click, hit, tap, surf, read and join it if you can. I am trying to combine this with all of the other work that I am attempting to complete and it is very hard for me to say that I have been doing all of this for very little pay, and yet I still need more help.

This week, one class to teach at a college; one job interview for another teaching gig; one more article to publish per day. They have contests with all of these pages and I have not had any success yet, but I am not going to quit it and give up on all of this writing. I have pretty much turned myself into a typing machine who does not let his ideas die in another notebook if I can help it.

Please check it out...

Saturday, September 26, 2020

A way to use the brain...


Been a while since I have been here, but I thought that you would like to know that I am still writing, and still trying to get noticed:

Reedsy Prompts!

This blog encourages people to contribute stories based on prompts that are posted every week and I find that I can get things in under the wire just by staring at a screen and letting my fingers dance.

Please check it out for yourselves:

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Alternative National Anthem 🇨🇦

Oh, Cannabis!
Our high and native land.
True patriot bud,
In all thy bongs’ command.
With glowing joints,
We see red eyes,
The true north strong with weed.
From far and wide,
Oh, Cannabis,
We have dime bags for thee.
Pot, keep our land,
Bodacious and free,
Oh, Cannabis,
We stand on guard for weed.
Oh, Cannabis,
We stand on guard for weed!

Could this be my country’s new national anthem?  Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Do you jog...or chino?

I will sign a lease on Thursday, so I want to talk about jogger chino cargo pants.

Yeah, I’m confused by what I just wrote, too. They are jogging pants, if you ignore the particular material used to make them. They are also chinos, whatever that really means. But they are considered a type of cargo pants, minus the extra outer pockets.

And why are they so popular? North Americans are viewed by Europeans as wearing too much “athletic clothing” (their phrase for it), and I think they have a point. I already see enough baseball caps and logos to be sick of them and wish for a very real fashion police force to step in and enforce their necessary rules.

Now, I live in Montreal, home of the les Canadiens, poutine, and an interesting fashion quirk with these trousers. I thought I had seen it all until I noticed that young guys - always guys - were wearing these pants with either too short or no socks at all. This baffled me, especially considering how long this winter has been.  But think I know why: one interesting feature of these pantaloons is the fact that they can be slimming, at least to the eye. Wearing them, it can feel as those your calves are enclosed in sausage casings. So, what must be happening is that these guys get the pants on, realize they’ve forgotten their hosiery, and decide to just get anything on that fits. Not much space is left over for thick woolen socks once you get these pants on.

And as a confession, I must confess to owning four of these buggers, rarely wearing them out of the home unless the weather does not choose to cut a cold blade of ice through me.

I will learn how to appreciate them someday...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Noise in the Basement

As I think about househunting in Montreal, I am thinking about America.

I did get lucky with the place I saw today: newly renovated with washers for my clothes and dishes, and no stairs to tackle (driveway entrance). This is probably my new home, if I don’t forget to pester the landlord and they actually believe my rundown on my income and work.

And yet, I think about America...

As a Canadian, I am often asked about our relationship with the people to the south. Canadians still define themselves by not being American, but there are better ways at looking at our nation as we stare at the border: imagine that you are home late at night. It has been a long day; you’re tired; you just want you favourite Netflix/YouTube moments flowing on a screen in front of you as you gorge on Doritos.

And then you hear a noise in the basement...

Now, what do you do? Go the Horror Movie/Scooby-Doo route and check out
 the commotion, or stay put and see what happens next?

For me, this is the quintessential portrait of what it means to be a Canadian at this very dizzy moment in history. If the noise stops, the lights stay on, nothing leaks up through the floorboards, or attempts to climb up the stairs, you can live your life. Once any of those statements proves not to be true, then we need to act. Fortunately, Canada is not a country the U.S. takes much of an interest in (and look at what happens to countries when they take an interest in them).

So, we let the noises continue...

Oh, and that place I saw today? It was the ground floor of a home...with no basement!

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Checklist (A Back to School Guide)

Backpack: Over one shoulder only (Swiss Army one is good)

Binder: Big enough for five courses (Hilroy?)

Tabs: Make sure they're coloured and already on the page (no gluey attachers!)

Reinforcements: Pages will get ripped

Paper: Binder and printer (should have some around)

Pencils: #2 (Sherwood or Ti-Conderoga)

Pencil Crayons: Laurentian - The Best!

Pens: Bic (blue, red, black - multipacks?)

Pencil Case: Something to fit in the binder (3-holed)

3-Hole Punch: Will need it

Scientific Calculator: New math courses (Mom will look at the catalogue; I know what I need)

Mathematical Set: Oxford (Well, duh!)

Aspirin: Make sure it doesn't rattle too much on bus (extra cotton?)

Cellphone: Emergencies only? Mom says so

Lunch: Never (!!!) in a box (recyclable bag; change before leaving house)

Gym Clothes: Uniform (shorts can be from home; make sure it all matches)

Extra Shirt: Can wash food and other stuff off in bathroom (be careful to hide it day before things happen)

Bandages: Bring at least three of them and make sure they are all different sizes; don't forget rubbing alcohol (swabs; three, too)

Tissues: Say they are for a cold or allergies (Mom will believe it)

Wooden Ruler: Bigger than pencil case (can hide it in the binder; needs a metal edge on it - can take it out quickly)

Metal Bar: Maybe from the neighbour's garage or alley; part of the bike lock can be rolled up in a towel (not too heavy); front pocket on bag; can also take this out quickly when I need it (no chances)

Comb and Brush Set: Need this now (did not really know this before)

Candy: Bottle-Caps are good!!!

Books: From summer reading (graphic novels); textbooks are going to be handed out later

Shoes: Good ones like the last time; some money saved for the ones I want, so I'm getting the same pair like before.  No one's going to touch them.  Not this time.

Friday, November 27, 2015

"Room" and the great househunt (Part I)

I am back and I am thinking of things...  Things like the place where I live.
Not really sure why I bother with this page.  I am sure that of the five official followers I have, none of them really pay attention to this page or my thoughts.  But having it available makes it too tempting to type (say that three times fast!) about my life and how I am living it.

First, the movie "Room"

I went to a theatre to see this yesterday after a friend mentioned it.  Interesting thing is I had to give up a seat to someone who needed to seat three other people (spacing is a bitch).  And I felt totally alone and a little more than annoyed.
Perfect.  And I was about to watch a film about a woman and her young boy locked in a room by a lunatic for seven years.

Yeah, I knew the basic story.  I did not buy or read the Emma Donaghue book, but I had heard enough about it to be intrigued.  And I did wonder about the basic problem that such a story would have: how would they keep our interest in this one room for ninety minutes?

Well, not really a problem.  Spoilers here: They get out.  A very interesting method of escape involving the boy, Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay) and a carpet.  By feigning illness, he ends up in the back of their captor's pick-up truck and heads to freedom.  But it takes place midway through the film.  They did not wait for the usual conclusion (a la "Midnight Express") of having the main protagonists escape at the end with a happy conclusion.  That would have worked...maybe.  And the scene takes place, as many do in the film, from the boy's point of view.  I will never forget the look on his face as he sees the sky for the first time in motion, crisscrossed with clouds and power lines.  Pay attention and remember that name: Jacob Tremblay (possibly the most moving performance I have seen all year).

Now, his mother.  This Brie Larson lady...  Now, I had some doubts about the basic outline of the script.  Could a mother really conceive a child, raise it, and keep her sanity in what is basically a box for almost a decade?  Would any sort of escape really work.  Well, she really does sell it.  She has no make up on in most of her scenes and you can see how the ordeal has drained most of the life from her, apart from the love that she still has for her son.  He is her lifeline.  And to involve him in such a plan has to be sold to the audience in a way that makes us accept her choice.  Absolutely the best female performance of the year.

Now, about that house hunt...

Saturday, March 14, 2015


I am back with more on my mind now than I need to have percolating up there...

I am now midway through another semester, just trying to keep my stamina up and active for the next few weeks. There is also the gym, books, a run through several hidden lanes of black ice, and the promise to myself that I will play the guitar again (my Strat needs me).  But there is a bigger problem...

Sleep, or the lack of it, is taking me out. I just do not find myself rested and ready when I wake up most mornings, a common problem that I had seemed to avoid until now.

And why is that? I have money in the bank, steady work, no relationships I would like to end (more on that later), and the prospect of actually moving out of here (yeah, I have talked about that one before, but now I can do it).

So what is it...? Why am I still thrashing about in the dark without any rest...?

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 1, 2014

In That Head: A look at "Frank"

I just saw "Frank".


Birdman - Review

I just watched "Birdman".

Birdman... What kind of powers does a superhero like that have?  Well, he can fly, obviously; there are probably things about the eyesight that are absolutely fantastic; and never underestimate the joy to be had knowing that your shit is now white.

Michael Keaton plays the former ornithological uber-hero who must now walk among the mere mortals as a has-been trying to save his career by starring in a serious drama. His hands are in many pies - writer, producer, financer, etc. - and this is his last chance.

Sound familiar?

Okay, this is not a typical review summarizing plots and standout performances.  Go on YouTube or Wikipedia if you want to find that stuff.  Just remember this film when the awards are sorted out, because Mr. K. deserves all of the ones that I can think of this year.

And this Inarritu fellow... You will find this film very claustrophobic, a clever way of entering the minds of these people in this world. I commend the director to clinging to a method of filmmaking that no one dares to follow now. Long takes that make you feel like the whole thing is one shot, along with some of the most interesting visual effects I have seen in a serious film in a seriously long time. Another Oscar worth prepping...

That "Sound familiar?" deserves more of a comment. I have been watching Mr. Keaton in too many small roles for too long.  And I think that he deserves the kind of turn around that came for Mickey Rourke and Matthew McConaughey when they really needed it.  Maybe it does play games with the cliches of the comeback film, but I went with it.

Great supporting cast, too. Watts, Norton, Zach et al will have to be split up between voters of the Motion Picture Academy very soon.

There is one more thing a Birdman can do.  He can soar.

Rush to the screens you have and enjoy.http://youtu.be/uJfLoE6hanc

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why Demi Moore will never be Helen Mirren


I am very tired and very overworked, so I did not really expect to have any interest in a hobby that does not provide me with anything but an emotional release (can do that with other web sites, but I digress)... No money and no real rewards besides knowing that my name does link up to this page and others on the web.  So, no real advantages...

Fine by me.  I have just been watching "Public Speaking", a Martin Scorsese film on the writer Fran Leibowitz.   Her claim that she only worked hard enough to make enough money for rent and then loafed about strikes a raw note in my head.  I work enough to have money in my bank account(s) to the point where I can ignore it.  After a certain point, money is like the food you once thought you liked; instead, you are just going through the motions with it.  That may explain my addiction to stationery.  I have too many notebooks, reporter's pads and sketchbooks for one person to get through in any number of lives.  Moleskine and the dollar stores I have patronized are my fixes.  And that is also fine by me.

I need to loaf even more.  Right now, I handle tests and papers for students who feel entitled to a good grade just for appearing, or disappearing.  I have colleagues who have me at meetings that I cannot add anything to due to a serious lack of interest in being taken seriously.  I come home to people who seem born to just take up space (i.e. roommates) and I have my music, a few films and too many books.  How could I not write?

Now, that title.  It comes from a simple link I discovered online about how the ex-Mrs Kutcher is still able to rock a bikini.  And I will admit, she does pull it off.  To a point.  I can see the body, but I also know the particular brain that it is attached to.  She is one of those actresses who cannot see beyond the lights.  I mean, who else thought "Striptease" was funny, or that "G.I. Jane" was serious.  Her whole career seems to be one long and endless flight of her self-fantasies.  And now, Dame Mirren.  My dear Helen has been in the business for far longer, weathered more stupid male fantasies than anyone deserves, been awarded for work on stage and screen that will be remembered for generations, and admitted a devotion to nudism.  Stupid male fantasies aside, this is also something that she will be remembered for: the exposure of a body that was not hammered and sculpted into shape because of a committee meeting.  This is a woman who enjoyed life and was not afraid to show just how to live it.

Two very different examples; two very different aims to consider.  And that is what I have to consider if I am going to continue with any pretense of being a writer.  I have to consider what makes me tick, what makes me want to do this...

Am I Bored?

No one's going to read this, so okay...

Went to another literary festival in this city o' mine for a talk about vampires and zombies in our contemporary culture.  Met an old prof there who was very happy to see me and then I went through my life since university.  Not much done as a graduate of McGill besides teaching at a college and not getting anywhere with my stories and essays besides this blog and some web sites that offer no pay, but plenty of patience.

Very sad...

I have lived in Montreal for over a decade now and I can feel the routine of life in this city entering my skin and thoughts.  Gym, work, shopping, festivals, films and the same-old same old.  Not much else to report and look forward to this year, besides certain shows and events that already feel like they have been experienced.

So, back to my question: Am I bored?  Yes, perhaps.  Almost glad at how unpopular this blog is.  Not much chance of getting any feedback about how to improve my lot.  Focus in my life is on my work - not the college; just the writing - and learning to enjoy my own company.  Not always possible.  Too much time with guitar and books can even test my own deep patience.


So, what to do?  Another routine?  Another hobby?  Another move?  I am thinking about all of those things, especially the move.  Almost had a place last January, but I did not get it (too many debts still to be paid).  And I think that is the big thing.  I have walked on too much broken concrete covered with garbage and excrement to see the charm of this neighbourhood anymore.  I have to get out and move my mind about somewhere different.


I think I know what to do...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sex vs. Books (Part Three)

Back in Montreal, meaning that I am back facing some old problems.  Those problems include lack of a phone (remedied today), lack of a car (am working on it), lack of privacy (soon about to find my own place without bearing afraid that I cannot afford it in the long run), and lack of contact.

That is the key, I think. Lack of contact.  No one to really connect with.  Not that it was much better when I was at home for two weeks.  Family is family; you know what to expect from them.  Love and perhaps an unending amount of patience (if there is some luck on your side).  What I also found was that I was more willing to get rid of many of my old books, things read and unread; things that I thought I could learn from and now I am much better for pretending otherwise.  A large midden of ideas and thoughts all stacked up by a bookcase that is still loaded with too many other ideas and thoughts.


Now, sex.  Well, it is my own bedroom.  My old teenage bedroom.  Many a lonely and desperate day, night and long afternoon wondering if I would ever spend time in there with a girl (never happened).  Of course, there was a guitar, books, and my own thoughts.

But that stack...  If I am willing to give up one thing, does that mean I am willing to embrace something else? Is there change in the air?

2013, I see your raise...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sex vs. Books (Part Two)

Orwell, you had it so wrong.


I'm sorry, I should explain myself.  I have just re-read George Orwell's essay "Books vs. Cigarettes".  He argues that it is actually more affordable to buy books than to spend money on the old nicotine sticks.  Now, maybe back in 1946 when he wrote the essay, the arguments against cigarettes made sense.  But we are in an age where smokers no longer have the respect they once enjoyed, where stores now cannot advertise their particular brands of smokes, and where the information on the link between smoking and cancer is now common knowledge.

But did he have a point?  I wonder about the trade-off between vices.  And yes, I will admit it: reading is my vice.  Not even porn has the same hold over my free time.  I don't keep stacks of videos or magazines in my room or hidden in a box in the basement.  I do however like to keep books in boxes all over the house and I have piles more back home at my parents place.  I did notice how easily I gave up certain books this month when I donated some to a local charity, but I also noted how charged I felt when I passed by a bookstore today to do some Christmas shopping (no falling off the wagon...yet).

Now, I have mentioned porn but not sex (a distinction that I will explore soon).  I feel that the trading of distractions is something that I am always going to have to deal with in my life.  Books provide a means of control that can be more than a little tempting.  If I like a book, I can keep it, put it on a shelf, and return to it when the mood takes me.  If I do not like it, I can put it away, not have to think about it, and never doubt that I am missing something.  Cold?  Yes, but it does not mean that it is not the truth.  As I said, embarrassing and fun...

I know that I have to get over my need to control things.  I also know that I need to talk about why I have to control things.

Wait for the next entry...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sex vs. Books (Part One)

Okay, the move has been made.  I have a room at the front of our place, with a lot of natural light being reflected off of the windows of my neighbours' homes across the road.  Never really considered how I had to watch out for my own privacy after five years living so closely in my own darkness and with no real concept of the word.  It is a type of comfort that I never knew I missed.

Of course, there is another problem.  Books.  Books, books, books...  I have too many of them.  Not the worst addiction to have, but it is still one that I am now have to contend with.  I am not sure how I managed to move around the space I am in with all of the history of my reading around me.  But, I now have a plan.  Donations, re-gifting and not giving a damn.

Now, I think that the title of this particular blog is going to cause a lot of comment.  In fact, I know this already.  A friend has already grilled me by text messages about what I intend to write about with such a title.  Here is a sample of her queries:

  • Why sex over books? (Never alleged, but her assumption)
  • Why such a choice? (Why not?)
  • Why limit yourself? (Not from choice)
  • Why choose? 
Now, that last one deserves some thought.  I have thinking back over my life and noting how books, music and film took me away from a lot of the pleasures of a sexual life.  Not being a virgin, I should be happy; being published and able to play the guitar and write a film script, I should be elated.  But as I said, the books are going out the door, bag by bag, box by box.

Maybe a sexual life is in the offing...  Maybe I should learn not to use the word "offing" in a blog.  Either way, this is going to be in multiple parts.

Get ready and get set...  This is going to be embarrassing and fun.