Saturday, January 30, 2010

Awards Night

It's late Saturday night and what could be more fun than getting dressed up in my tux for the receiving and giving of awards. Note that the Oscar nominations will be announced at 5:30am PT Tuesday. The awards I refer to are not quite so dramatic and, to be honest, the photo was taken on my wedding day over 15 years ago. My hair was a lot longer back then...and the tux was a rental. I may have posted the photo on my blog months ago but honestly can't remember. I know that I have it on FaceBook. Anyway, I've poured myself a wee Glenlivet (a double) and will move on with the show. Please forgive me if I schlerr my words or if I create a few tippos.

On Thursday, the very talented Laura Eno at A Shift in Dimensions with the 'You are my Sunshine Award'. The purpose of it is to acknowledge those that have a blog and spend endless hours ensuring that other bloggers get feedback on their blogs by leaving comments, adding themselves as a follower or dropping by just to let you know there are people out there. It was very kind of Laura to consider me worthy and I thank her very much. There are so many folks that frequent this blog that are quick with humour and a kind word. Two stand out for me that have been commenting here since my first couple of weeks blogging last spring. The award goes to:

KC Shaw at The Knotted Thicket and Natalie L. Sin at Written by Sin.

We now move on to the entertainment for the evening. I am playing a medley of David Hasselhoff songs with hand farts. I'm sorry that you at home can not enjoy it as much as I am.

The second award, the Honest Scrap Award, was presented to me on Thursday as well (suffice it to say that I was giddy with excitement at receiving two different awards on the same day) by Courtney Reese at her blog. Courtney and I are fairly new to each other's blogs but we both recognise the effort and honesty that each other puts into our blogs. Please check hers out, I know that I will continue to do so. Now, the easy part of this award is passing it on to a couple of worthy parties. Drum roll, please *my greyhound is entering the room carrying the envelope in his teeth. I remove said envelope, wipe off drool on sleeve of tux and smooth it out* The Honest Scrap Award goes to:

Katey Taylor at SpecFic and Nonsense and Catherine Gardner at The Poisoned Apple.

The more difficult part of this award is that I have to reveal 10 honest facts about myself. This may be difficult as I've been revealing a lot about myself (perhaps too much some of you may say) on this blog. I'll see if I can come up with some new lies stuff about myself.

  1. I had a rock collection in the 5th grade and expanded to minerals and fossils and aspired to be a geologist. I was fascinated with the subject, but couldn't handle of the other 'stuff' that one needs to take in university to meet the requirements of a science degree.
  2. In 1990-91, I was on a 16 week overland expedition from London to Kathmandu in the back of a Bedford truck with 19 other travellers.
  3. I was once a dog catcher (note: this also includes cats, owls, raccoons, muskrat, a blue heron, a possum and pretty much anything else needed restrained or captured).
  4. I once had to get the rabies series of shots after being bitten my a rabid cat (refer back to item #3). Side note...I used to be terrified by needles, but I'm not too bad now...)
  5. I enjoy live theatre and had season's tickets to the Grand Theatre in London (Ontario) and saw shows in Stratford and Toronto.
  6. Tattoos? No way, as I had always been scared of needles (see item#4).
  7. Quirky movies I could watch 100 times? Hmm, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, A Christmas Story, Fargo, Diner...the list goes on.
  8. I was raised Roman Catholic, but my parents stopped taking us to mass as they grew weary of listening to 5 kids whining about it. I subscribe to no particular religion and think that they all have their merits and drawbacks. I keep an open mind and listen to what they all have to say.
  9. I am probably one of the most patient people that I know. I'm easy-going and some would say 'laid back'. I am quiet by nature and some mistaken this as having nothing to say. This is not true as I will speak my mind if and when the topic warrants it.
  10. I once saw an object floating above a farmer's field at 5:30am driving from home in London to work, at the time, in Aylmer Ontario (no, I hadn't been drinking or any other such thing). I believe that we are not alone in the universe and we would be arrogant to think this small blue island in space is the only one of its kind.

Umm, sorry about #10. Ish probably the single malt talking...Actually, it's a crafty segue into my next post.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

#Friday Flash

A Tale of Love, Misfortune and Nasty Wee Dogs

Christopher Devlin and his wife inched their shopping cart through the express check out of the popular department store. Valentine’s Day was Angela’s favourite ‘holiday’ of the year and she had dragged him along to help gather the necessary supplies for a suitable celebration. Their cart was laden with heart-shaped chocolates wrapped in foil, tubs of red and white jelly beans and candy hearts adorned with sweet sentiments. They paid for their haul and, rather than push the cart through the slushy parking lot, Christopher hoisted a large shopping bag in each mitten-clad fist.

“Shoot! I forgot to buy marshmallows,” Angela said.
“What for?”
“The book club’s bake sale.”
“Right, that’s on the 13th, isn’t it?”
“Yes. And you’re going to work the sales counter?”
“Wild horsed couldn’t drag me away…”
“Excellent! Then I’ll make us some Nanaimo bars too. A little warm-up to the big day,” she said, throwing back her curly hair and winking slyly.
“I’ll haul this stuff to the car and warm it up for you.”
“In that case, can you pick me up at the front door?”
“Anything for you sweetness,” he said.

Angela zipped up his heavy coat and fastened the snap at the neck. She stood on her tip-toes and planted a kiss on his stubbled cheek. Christopher watched her lumber through the masses, on a mission for marshmallows, and whispered a short prayer for anyone impeding her progress. As the sliding doors opened, a freezing wind gust slapped his face and blew back his hood. Christopher’s eyes watered and his ears turned red as he proceeded behind a row of parked cars; ice pellets peppered his long, blond hair and narrowed his vision.

His motivation to endure the yearly shopping expedition was the exquisite pay-off on the 14th. That night he would share the plastic-sheeted bed with the voluminous Angela and two dozen melted chocolate bars. A honking car horn returned him to the harsh reality of the cold, January evening—and the fact he had wandered into the middle of the lane.

Christopher combined the large, grey bags into the same hand and threw them over his shoulder. He chuckled at the thought of the image he must project: a tall, thin man in a black coat. An Anti-Claus. He noticed he was in the wrong row and squeezed between two cars parked close together. He held the bags high, mindful not to brush his new winter coat against the dirty vehicles.

A small terrier in the back seat of the car facing him leapt at the window and barked with ferocity disproportionate to its stature. Christopher was frozen in his tracks. As a boy he was terrorized by his grandmother’s fox terriers: Hades and Herriot. He was often left alone to play with the little wretches that inevitably chased him about the garden, nipping at his bum.

As Christopher passed the two cars in the next row a Chihuahua, sporting a green Argyle sweater, sprang into the back window of one. In two seconds it had yapped nearly a dozen times. The beast mashed its tiny nose against the glass, leaving streaks of dog snot and saliva. Christopher’s heart raced as he quickly backed away from the car. He stumbled on a hardened ridge of ice and was propelled backwards by the weight of Angela’s goodies.

As he fell, a Hummer parked directly across from him had begun backing out from its space. It swung towards the dazed man. The rear window of the vehicle was plastered with mud and road salt, obscuring the driver’s vision.

Christopher rolled into a sitting position and cursed the state of his wet coat and pants. The behemoth rolled toward him and its heavy trailer hitch thumped the back of his head as the vehicle came to rest. When it rolled forward, the hitch hooked onto his hood and dragged him across the slushy surface of the parking lot. Christopher hung tightly onto the bags, knowing how important the contents were to Angela.

A family of shoppers had emerged from their van to see the unfortunate man being dragged away by the Hummer and waved frantically at the driver, attempting to catch his attention. The man, a local television celebrity, noticed his fans and smiled and waved in response. It always brightened his day to be recognized by the public.

The driver thought his vehicle was a bit sluggish as he turned from the slushy parking lot onto the clear pavement of the main road. He pressed the gas pedal harder and made a mental note to have his mechanic look into the problem.

The forward momentum of the vehicle caused Christopher to be throttled by the collar of his coat. He finally released his grip on the bags and tugged at the neck of his coat as the backside of his pants shredded, leaving blood and skin on the asphalt. Glancing into his rear-view mirror the driver saw more waving fans and a couple of large plastic bags, their contents scattered across the wet road.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Accepting the Warm Fuzzy...

A suitably vague blog title, I thought to myself...sweet, yet with a naughty undertone.

I again take the podium for another acceptance speech for an award bestowed upon me. Those of you who have followed this blog for any length of time probably remember that I'm terrified of public speaking. Ergo no speech.

The lovely Laurita Miller, regional friend and writer in crime, has present myself and 4 others with the 'Circle of Friends Award' aka 'The Big Blue Doughnut with Heart-Shaped Centre Award.' I am humbled to be included in her group of on-line friends whose work I admire and whose level of skill I hope to achieve one day. Check out her blog, Brain Droppings, and enlarge your circle of friends as well.

I am instructed to pass this on to 5 people within my circle of friends and will select those who have entertained me with their writing skills, lifted my spirits when I had little confidence in my own abilities and generally entertained me with their blogs. It's a tough call, but I think that I will select ones I hope run in different circles to help 'spread the joy'. I won't pass on any instruction regarding how many to pass this on to, just pick as few or as many you are happy to call friend. Oh, yeah. The five people are:

Mercedes 'super mom' Yardley at A Broken Laptop.

Elspeth Antonelli at It's a Mystery.

Dezmond at Hollywood Spy.

Aaron (yes, the guy from the fan club) Polson at The Other Aaron.

Anton Gully aka the Flash B*stard at The Black Dogs of Despair Reading Room (note to readers: I choose Mr. Gully as he loathes receiving these things and I enjoy his reaction--also, he is my longest running friend since blogging and a talented writer and I would be remiss not to include him in such a list...)
Do check out all of their blogs and be educated, entertained, amused or perhaps left in awe.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Odd Stories and the Flash Delay

Just a follow up to yesterday's post where I noted that I might possibly present my flash fiction piece...well, I was up before 6am this morning and edited the thing. I'm not happy, though, that the 700 word story has three characters, yet no dialogue is spoken. I decided to delay posting the story until next week, when I will have had a chance to insert a bit of dialogue.

As a consolation prize, I present you a couple of links to weird stories that I read about today. Perhaps you did as well?

The first is about a newlywed couple in England. She has discovered that he talks in his sleep. He talks a lot, and about a lot of strange stuff. She has decided to record his nightly ramblings and post them to a blog called Sleep Talkin' Man. I saw the story on ABC news and the couple have spun this into something of a marketing frenzy with T-shirts available to purchase at the site. I envy their popularity as it now has over 5800 followers (what writer wouldn't want that sort of fan base). This may be of interest because if you read over some of the things the husband says, you may get some bizarre (surrealistic?) ideas for a story.

The second story, also out of Britain I may add, falls into that category of weird and at the same time creepy. I provide you with a link here to the Reuters story about the Holiday Inn chain beginning to use human "bed warmers" to pre-warm the beds of patrons in three locations in the UK. Now, before you let your minds go wild...the people will be in full-body, fleece jump suits and will be out of the bed before the patron gets into it. Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer a hot water bottle or an electric blanket.

My British 'sources' have provided me with photos of the three characters hired on to perform the bed warming task (above and to the right). Look at the bright get a warm bed and it keeps them off the dole. Perhaps I should hire out the boy as a warmer at local hotels to offset some of the costs of our upcomming holidays in March?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Girl Fans and Blogging

I wouldn't normally give a shout out to a blogger twice in the same week, but this warrants an exception. As noted in my last post I follow Townie Bastard who blogs out of Iqaluit in the territory of Nunavut (established in 1999) in the Canadian north. He noted in today's blog that he has just gotten a new job, partially because of his good writing skills as demonstrated on his blog and on Twitter. I think it's really inspiring to see that folks are noticing that sort of thing and positive things can happen when you put yourself out there to be seen. Another instance, as it were, of the powers of the Internet being used for good instead of evil.

Moving on...It did not escape my attention that my last blog posting (you remember, the one where I'm sporting the cool, red hair-doo) had 11 comments, all from female readers. I can interpret this in two ways: that guys read this, but didn't think it manly to comment about another guy's hair or that women really liked my hair and they all felt compelled to comment. I just hope that my wife doesn't take it the wrong way if she notices so many women following my blog...and ladies, you'll not hear any complaining from me...

This is where I include the obligatory comment about writing. I finished a flash piece today that I may use Friday. I am waiting to see how the editing goes. Now I know that Anton Gully (aka the Flash B*stard) would argue that polish is for the fine, wooden floors. I'm a bit old-school and, to quote the late Orson Welles, will serve no tale before its time.

This is a different story than the one I noted last week. I haven't made any more progress on that one. This short story just popped into my head on Sunday while standing in the parking lot at Walmart (who hasn't wanted to set a story there!) It's about love, small dogs and really bad luck. I'll say no more...except that as a former dog catcher, it is my duty to talk about dogs once in a while.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snippets of this Week

Just a blog of little bits & pieces of this week. Nothing startling or earth shattering. I would be remiss if I didn't refer to the Leno vs O'Brien business. Townie Bastard (a Newfoundland blogger who now lives in Nunavut) had a link to a site where one can 'Conan Yourself''. The results of that are on the right. I'm sure that you are wondering, "Who is Alan, really? Last week he's trying to be Bob Ross, this week Conan." This is true, I may have a bit of an identity crisis going on.

I was always a Johnny Carson fan and Jay Leno grew on me after a while. I have watched Conan in small doses but found a lot of his shtick a bit juvenile. That being said, I think mock commercials and his skits on his resemblance to Finland's first female president Tarja Halonen were hilarious.

My writing productivity this week was non-existent. I attribute this to an on-going job for work that I still haven't finished, a couple of bouts of snow shovelling and general laziness. I was shovelling this morning and thought that a body part or two were about to drop off as it was -13 Celsius with a wind chill of -25. Winter is finally here, though there are many other locations in North America who have it worse, so I'll shut up now...

We got out to the Revue 2009 on Wednesday night. This is the 25th annual production where local actors/musicians/comedians perform non-stop skits for about 3 hours, mocking municipal, provincial and federal politicians. A great evening's entertainment. We also took the boy to see 'Daybreakers' last night. A few minutes into that, I was wondering if we had made a big mistake. He is a bit prone to nightmares and I thought the subject matter and gore would bring them on. He seems to have slept well last night (knock on the proverbial wood). I thought that the storyline was original and showed a lot of promise, but it seemed to slip into a gore-fest and relied on cheap scares throughout the movie. It was a bit short at 98 minutes and the story could have been expanded a bit more.

I'd like to refer you to a couple of insightful blogs from this week: Katey Taylor had a great blog this week regarding writers and genre, expanding on what Aaron Polson had started earlier in the week. She provides a link to WD Prescott's piece about "what horror is." Mercedes Yardley at 'A Broken Laptop' had an insightful blog about writers juggling the demands between work, family and, or course, writing. The funniest thing I read this week was an interview of the talented Laura Eno over at Miscellaneious Yammering by Karen Schindler. Hilarious stuff. Check those out if you get a chance.

I've got a few errands to run, so I'll stop rambling now. Perhaps this week I will write.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Greetings and Happy New Year to you all!

I never imagined that it would take 11 days into the year before I got my act together enough to post. I will attribute this to a number of things...

We only just had snow again Saturday after 2 weeks of nothing. I think that this has me confused (more so than usual for a guy my age) regarding weather matters. We were at +3 Celsius a few days ago. Someone told me that it was the same temperature as Tampa, Florida on that day. I hear that they have had freezing weather this past week, so I will bank on switching from OJ to something like cranberry or prune juice in the near future.

I think, also, that I have been in a bit of a funk since Canada lost to the USA in the World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatchewan last week. We had won so many in a row that I think everyone takes it for granted that we have hockey supremacy. The US showed a lot of grit and snatched the cup away. Remember, though, that you have football (as in toss the pigskin, not soccer) and basketball and is our game!

I had also made a bit of a promise after my last posting (my 100th) that I wouldn't post again until I had made progress on a short story that has been swirling about in my brain the past few weeks, since Remembrance Day. I have a lot of work to do on it still, but I at least have made enough progress to report on it and convince me that I still have a blog about writing and not just 'schtuff about that guy up in Canada in that Newfoundland place.'

I would also like to thank Jarmara Falconer over at A Mission Impossible for the Nightwriter for bestowing upon me the One Lovely Blog Award. Those of you who have followed my blog for the past few months will recall that I am a two-time victim winner of this fine award. I was beginning to feel under appreciated as it has been several months since receiving an online award and am happy to accept it. I have been following Jarmara's blog for several months and consider her an emerging writer who is working hard at educating herself, and others, in the craft. She is a fine representative of things Gothic, dark and mysterious and if you haven't dropped into her blog, I encourage you to do so.

I am supposed to pass this on to 15 other blogging friends. I am thinking, though, that most of you who read my blog have also been presented The Lovely Pink Teacup Award within the past few months. If you haven't and are reading my blog (yes, you!) then you are displaying impeccable taste and are therefore more than worthy of this fine award. You are a winner in my books!