Friday, April 29, 2011

Weddings, Politics and Children's Programming

Geez, a slow news day. Nothing to talk about but that darn royal wedding going on in the UK.

Hmm...what to talk about? First off, there's only nine days left to enter your stories in our Lost on the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest. We will post about our prizes for the top four finishers this Sunday. And you know that you WON'T want to miss THAT!

Yesterday, my friend Cathy Webster blogged about the letter 'X' in her A to Z blog challenge. That always proves to be a tricky letter. Her post was about a certain Canadian children's television network that accidentally aired some footage of the horror movie "The Ring." LMAO...that's a few thousand more Canadian kids that will find themselves in some sort of therapy as adults. Mind you, the future Conservatives will likely blame it on the growing popularity of the New Democrats years earlier (darn sneaky socialists!) a bit sidelined by politics there. It's only three days until our federal election and it's the talk of the town. That and the royal wedding. And hockey. Maybe beer too.

Cathy's post got me wondering about the kind of shows that I watched as a kid. The only thing that comes to mind was Hanna-Barbera cartoons. You all know what I'm talkin' about...Flintstones, Jetsons, Scooby-Doo and of course the ever popular Magilla Gorilla.

There was another show lurking in the depths of my memory...something amusing yet creepy. Fun yet dark. It took a little searching on YouTube to turn up this gem of a video. Within a few seconds my eyes glazed over and I was humming along to the catchy theme song for "H.R. Pufnstuf." Who wouldn't like that kid, the late Jack Wild, and those darn scary adult-size puppets...and don't get me going on those lyrics from the attached trailer.

"...a boy and his magic golden flute...come and play with me Jimmy, come and play with me. And I will take you on a trip, far across the sea."

So, enough of that...

I promised that I wouldn't stoop to slapping up photos of the royals today. I'll leave that to the media who are analyzing every nuance, whispered word and fancy hat. What better to present you with, though, than a photo from OUR royal wedding back in '94 (checks date on inside of wedding band to confirm...)

Members or MY royal family

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

...on Boardwalks, Paddles, and E-book Pricing...

The Auld Y'in and the boy at Job's Cove boardwalk, 2008
The long weekend is finally behind us. Speaking of behinds...I ate more than my share of turkey and chocolate (not at the same time) when we visited my parents 'round the bay. The weather was nearly warm on Saturday and we ventured out onto the boardwalk at the nearby community of Job's Cove. The snow drifts had finally melted from its boards and the 20 minute walk was  now do-able. The only issue was that a couple of sections were blown over by recent high winds and repairs have yet to be undertaken. We didn't have a camera with us, but I've included a couple of photos from previous years to give you the idea of the topography. This moss-covered moonscape is a familiar sight all over this island.

Many of you may recall this conversation that the boy, V and I had when we were out to supper recently. I know present an abridged version of a chat that occurred while my mum was making lunch. Let me set the scene...she held a knife and then brought out  a cutting board to chop up some veggies to stuff into pita bread. The board had a short handle and appeared wider than it was long.

Me: "Jeez, that cutting board looks like a paddle."

My dad (the auld y'in): "Aye, you mother and I break that oot on Tuesday nights. There's nae much on the telly..."

Me: *Shudders*  "I don't recall the paddle being an instrument of such fun when WE were kids." *flashes back to cricket bat-like paddle hanging prominently from a nail on the kitchen wall*

Sometimes, visits home can be a bit TOO educational. Speaking of educational...

I'd like to point you in the direction of John Wiswell. Those of you who contribute to and read #fridayflash stories will be familiar with John's eclectic and often satirical brand of writing. Today, at his blog The Bathroom Monologues, John has posted an essay entitled High Book Prices are Good For You. He discusses the practice of some e-book publishers setting prices as high as $14.99 for top-notch (ie. those that are enormously popular with massive fan bases) authors down to the regular folks (comparatively new or unknown writers) peddling their wares for a mere $0.99. Take a few minutes to read his essay and to follow the growing comment thread. There are some interesting thoughts that are both for and against his arguments.

And speaking of interesting thoughts writing...I'd like to take a moment to remind you all that there 12 days left to submit your stories to our Lost on the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest. You can get the contest information here. Laurita and I will post later in the week about the prizes up for grabs this year. Those of you who followed this blog last year may recall my 'unsightly begging' just days before last year's contest...I'm not at that point yet, but am getting dangerously close. Even if you're not going to enter, Laurita and I would really appreciate if you would promote (blog, Twitter, etc.) the contest to other circles of writers. Many thanks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bad Movie Night (Part IV)

I hope that the Bad Movie Night title doesn't scare people away from reading the post. I guess that if you're reading this you are ready to accept the punishment. Actually...last night was kind of a lesson on how sometimes goodness can come from bad movies.

Yesterday's snow may have kept the numbers down for the show last night. With only five in attendance we were able to have more couch space and there was more beer tospill and snacks to throw at the TV. Comfort was important as we had a double-feature. Actually, more of a feature and a half.

The first movie Hot Chick Hotrod Stoner BBQ was about an hour long and shot in a junk yard. This 2005 feature was a sequel to Hot Chick Stoner BBQ with multi-talented Hotrod Honey. Those of you who have seen the first movie (if you admit it) may recall the useful charcoal BBQ tips. The downfall of the original BBQ movie was that Honey and her pals were partaking in certain vices during the filming and she deteriorated during the movie. There were side scenes were they went off and 'shot stuff'. This film, however, seemed a bit more structured and the side scenes were of her lady friends demonstrating changing spark plugs and doing an oil change.

The Hot Chick Hotrod Stoner BBQ was again educational from a BBQ standpoint. There was a useful demonstration on cooking sausages with a 'beer boat' of aluminum foil, potato packets (again in aluminum) and the cooking of popcorn in a large steel bowl--she noted that her secret ingredient was THC. It was very popular amongst the guests. To sum up...this is not an easy movie to find, but if you like classic cars, BBQ tips, tips on maintaining cars, tattoos, and smoking dope this is the feature for you. A low production value, but obviously a somewhat higher budget than her earlier BBQ movie. Suffice it to say that you won't be seeing this gem on the Food Network any time soon. Below is a sample from the movie.

The main feature was an indie Canadian movie out of Vancouver called Dead Hooker in a Trunk (2009). I know, the name implies some little project by a group of sexist guys but surprisingly it was written and directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska. Their first feature film is surprisingly entertaining for a low-budget production. I group of friends discover a woman's dead body in the trunk of their car and fall into a nightmare world of drugs, religion and violence. Some scenes will make you laugh at the quirkiness and others will having you gasping at the violence. Don't expect Academy award winning acting here, and you'll have to check reality at the door for some of the bizzarro scenes ( a friend's arm). However, there was an interesting back story to why the sisters are so weird and the soundtrack was pretty good.

I was just reading that the Soska sisters are working on their second feature film American Mary. They aren't discussing the storyline yet, but I'm looking forward to more of their unique take on horrific humour. Or was it humourous horror?  BTW, this scored 3.9 at the IMDB site (easily qualifying it for Bad Movie Night). Just got Bad Movie Night an acceptable topic for Good Friday? Er...too late now, I suppose. Hope everyone has a great long weekend.   

Oh, yeah! And remember to get your stories in for the Lost on the Rock 2011 flash fiction contest. Be a part of the fun, the stories, the cool interviews and pimpage...see my last blog post for all the details...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lost on the Rock Contest 2011

Lost on the Rock Contest 2011

It recently occurred to me that it’s been nearly a year since I held the Land's Edge contest to celebrate the first anniversary of this blog. It was also about a year ago my writing group buddy, Laurita Miller of Calling Shotgun, ran her Seaside Flash Fiction contest.

This year we’ve decided to share a contest based upon the theme of ‘Lost’. We believe that this theme will lend itself to many types of stories in all genres. It may mean that one is physically lost—but it can also refer to the loss of one’s job, or of one’s freedom, or even the ‘loss of innocence’.

The Lost on the Rock 2011 contest starts today (April 16) and the deadline for submissions is end of day on Sunday, May 8th. Please send forth your best short stories or essays that pertain to the ‘Lost’ theme. We leave the use of the word open to your interpretation (but remember: my mother and her associates from the ‘blue rinse brigade’ may read it).

The contest is open to all, from South Africa to Australia and Great Britain to Peru. That being said…the farther away the winner lives, the cheaper the form of transportation we will use to send the prize (a certain European prize winner in my last-year contest didn’t receive their book for nearly two months. A donkey and three carrier pigeons gave their lives to deliver the weighty novel).

Speaking of prizes…Laurita and I have emptied our children’s penny jars and pooled our money. There will be prizes for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishers. After the judging is complete, we will contact the top four with a few interview questions. These winners (and their interviews) along with two honourable mentions will all be published on this blog and at Calling Shotgun after the winners are announced on Saturday, May 21st (the Victoria Day week end for those in Canada). The contest rules are as follows:

1. Stories that fit the ‘Lost’ theme, of any genre, 1000 words or less.

2. We would prefer previously unpublished stories, however you may send a gently ‘used’ story if it meets the contest theme (and we’ll try not to hold it against you).

3. Send entries to lostontherock2011(at)yahoo(dot)ca with Contest Submission, Story Title, and your name in the subject line of your email.

4. Place your story, and its title, in the body of the attachments please. And please, your name goes on the subject line…NOT in the body of the email.

5. Spitting on the contest judges is strongly frowned upon.

All submissions sent to that newly created email address will be forwarded to the judges by a trusty Land’s Edge staffer. The stories will be 'blind judged' by Laurita, myself and Ellen, the third member or our writing group. No pandering to the judges, please, as we are honest  moral  nearly impervious to such things (and a twenty doesn’t go as far as it used to).

The 1st , 2nd, 3rd and 4th place entries earn bragging rights and will each receive either a book or a Newfoundland prize pack (we’ll iron out the sordid details later). The honourable mentions? They will also get to brag after their stories are published on our blogs. I hope all of that was clear…if not, email myself or Laurita with questions. Please tell others about the Lost on the Rock Contest 2011...through Facebook, blogging and the evil Twitter…and start writing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pimping Polson, Etc.

I figure that it has been at least three days since I last pimped something, so today seems like a fine day to do that. Those of you who have dropped by for a while have heard me mention writer Aaron Polson before. I've enjoyed his short stories for nearly two years and he now has novels available for purchase. I think of his work as 'literary horror'. It is descriptive, it is mesmerizing. Sometimes the horror sneaks in slowly, enveloping you with a cloak of unease. Other times it hits you like a punch in the gut. I recently read his story 'Wanting It' in Shock Totem 3. A ghostly tale about the loss of childhood innocence. It was one of those stories that sticks in your mind for a long time.

Aaron is generously offering the Kindle version of his novel The House Eaters for a measly 99 cents. That's no typo. You can download the horror for less than a buck. Link to the information at his blog here. I've downloaded my copy (Aaron will be pleased to hear that he's nestled nicely between Sir Walter Scott and Sir Thomas More in my Kindle directory). Keep in mind, though, that this is a temporary offer so you should drop by now.

*Awkward segue alert* And while we're on the subject of Shock Totem...

I'm about 7 or 8 stories into that third issue of Shock Totem (yes, they are indeed curious tales of the macabre and twisted). I must say, there is NOT a bad tale in that anthology. It's difficult to describe, but I think the team there have elevated horror to a new level. Perhaps horror isn't the correct's more of a 'unnerving' feeling you get as you work through each tale. Anyway, I hadn't intended this post to turn into a book review so consider the Shock Totem 3 anthology highly recommended. And if you can't trust a guy in a fez, who can you trust?  Help out a small press and get a copy.

*Second awkward segue alert* And since I mentioned the team at Shock Totem...

I'd like to send a shout out to the lovely Mercedes M. Yardley. She handles the non-fiction submissions at Shock Totem and is also a fine writer of horror and otherworldly things. She blogs at A Broken Laptop and has resurrected her "Be Mysterious: Writers in Masks" series. The short explanation...she hosts a weekly blog feature pimping out a writer (and their current project) with a bio and a photo of them donning a mask of their choosing. Mysterious indeed. Click on the link if you'd like more information or if you'd like Mercedes to feature you and your writing project in the near future. Don't be shy.

*Third awkward segue alert* And speaking of not being shy...

Drop by my blog on the weekend. There WILL be an announcement about a cool contest. Sharpen your crayons now. It involves writing. And maybe the juggling of wee, hairless animals.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hockey and Politics. Good Times in Canada.

As I'm sure that most of our American and other foreign friends are aware, we are entering the silly season here in Canada...the NHL playoff for the Stanley Cup. In fact it's really doubly silly this year because we have entered into yet another federal election (to be held on May 2). Hockey will be vying for TV airtime with all of those nasty political commercials with the leaders telling you LESS about what they will do for our country and MORE about the negative attributes of their opponent. *Le Sigh*

photo credit:
Anyway, the election will be done before we we can say "ANOTHER friggin' minority government" and then we can devote all of our time and energy to hockey. Some of you may recall my talking about entering the office hockey pool last fall when we picked our players, hoping to win a crap load of money to win the bragging rights at the office. At this time last year I was probably gloating and doing a happy dance (so much so that my fez may have flown off). However this year my players appear to be collecting their big old paychecks, getting fat on coffee and Tim bits. I'm back in 8th place or so. Coincidentally, leading the pack this year mother. Yep, the old Scottish dear herself. With only one night of hockey left in the regular season she holds a 16 point lead with little hope of being caught. I was talking with her this morning. Even though her computer is on the fritz, she is going to spend her prize winnings on other necessities. Items such as a vat of hair dye, orthopedic stockings and a six-pack of Drambuie are high on her must-have list. I know some of you are saying, "What a cheeky young lad, talking about his mum like that." I suppose that if she read these comments on my blog (she doesn't know of its existence) she'd give me a 'skelp aboot the ears'. That was a popular expression around our house when I was a kid. Above is a recent photo of the 'auld yin' in celebration of her windfall.

I saw a video this week to illustrate how weird it gets in Canada around playoff time. Below is a clip from Thursday's game with Minnesota at Vancouver. A fan apparently threw a salmon on the ice. What a waste of a good fish! Yahoo! sports writer Greg Wyshinski made a good point, "So this is symbolic of … what, exactly? The Canucks always swimming upstream in the playoffs and eventually getting smoked?" Sounds to me like the 'trash talk' has begun.

I would follow that up with something political, but I wouldn't want to spoil your day. Or your appetite. Instead I offer you a hilarious clip from the web site Funny or Die (you may remember these are the folks that brought us the fine Charlie Sheen cooking video). I first saw a link to this video at Huffington Post and thought, "Cool, they're doing a remake of the movie "When Harry Met Sally." However, upon closer inspection I discovered that this is a mock video about what a sequel might look like. I won't say another word, just watch and Billy Crystal and Helen Mirren and enjoy for yourself. On a side note, the video was directed by Lindsay Crystal, daughter of Billy...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just a Fez and a Smile

Sorry about the title. Figured that it might lure a few more people to read today's post. *Hangs head in shame*...I feel so cheap sexy...

Hey, the numbers are down and a guy's gotta do what's necessary (I'm even considering a human sacrifice for next week). Besides, it's only Wednesday. I only do naked on 'Pantsless Friday'.

We were only supposed to reach 9C today but it reached a balmy 14C (58F) by noon. As my old father-in-law would say, "It's shockin' warm" for the first week of April. The boy captured me in a rare moment of focus at the computer. It will be near zero again tomorrow, so I will stow the shorts away for a few weeks. The fez is fashionable year-round (though I will hit it with a waterproof spray before the rainy season).

Rare sighting of the Pale Skinned, Hairy-legged  Booby
 The sudden warmth has melted most of the snow in the back garden. If you look within the shallow pond, you can almost see grass...who am I's mostly weeds and moss. But green, nonetheless. Not as green and manicured, though, as entry #8 in Cathy Webster's Knocked Up, Guess the Damned Door Contest! (or words to that effect). Link to contest details here. Those of you who follow the #fridayflash story writers will recognize many of the names who have entered their front door into the contest. Drop by her blog and have a guess. The top three winners will receive a Life on the Muskoka prize package. OK, I'll stop pimping now...

Yeah. You're probably wondering about the surgical mask in the photo above. The warm weather has the boy a mass of dribbles and snots. He's used up about a dozen boxes of tissues in the past week and we send him off to school every day hopped up on Claratin and hormones. Spring is in the air and I'm takin' no chances on catching whatever he's got!

All this contest talk has me thinking that it's nearly been a year since I last held a contest. Hmm...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Silly Sunday Project

Photo credit: solecism at Flickr
I recently went through the photos of a writing friend on Facebook and he had a picture with a caption written on it. This was part of a game where one picks a random photo to represent their fictitious album cover and adds fictitious band name and also a fictitious name for said album. I played along and the photo to the right--click to enlarge--was my album cover, my band name was Light & Heavy and the album was called "to be conscious of none". This can of course lead to elements that work perfectly with one another or better yet, lead to a 'WTF' moment. Below are the instructions to create your own album cover. I look forward to seeing the results posted at your blogs...

1. Go to Wikipedia and hit "Random article" (top left margin). The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2. Go to and hit "Random Quotes" (left margin). The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page will be the title of your album.

3. Go to Flickr and click on “Explore" (bottom centre) then click "Interesting photos from the last seven days” (right margin). The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. If that one can not be saved, move to the next one in sequence. Note: you MAY want to give a photo credit to the Flickr person you pilfered the shot from...

4. Use Photoshop or something similar ( is a free online photo editor) to put it all together.

5. Post the photo with these instructions at your blog.

OK, that was a bit of fun. It only took about 30 minutes. A lot of the time was spent altering the colour of the photo and experimenting with the text fonts and it's location on the woman's tummy album cover. And then I thought to myself..."Self, why not make this applicable to writers and what THEY do. So here is the new are a struggling writer (I know, what a stretch) and have penned a seedy tale with little artistic merit to make a fast buck (if you are so lucky to be paid that much). You don't want to sully the reputation and good name you have worked so hard to build up in the social networks. Let's work on a random book cover, a name for your novel and a quote by Charlie Sheen to endorse your novel...

1. Go to Wikipedia and hit "Random article" (top left margin). The third random Wikipedia article you hit is the name of your seedy novel.

2. Go to the Prank Call Name Generator for your fictitious writer's name. Note: don't be intimidated by having to type your name. Use the name of a writing friend or someone you dislike if you choose.

3. Go to the Charlie Sheen quote generator for an endorsement for the cover of your seedy novel. Why Charlie? Well, in a seedy way he's sort of popular right now (if you discount the flopping on stage in Detroit last night).
4. Go to Flickr and click on “Explore" (bottom centre) then click "Interesting photos from the last seven days” (right margin). The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. If that one can not be saved, move to the next one in sequence. Note: you MAY want to give a photo credit to the Flickr person you pilfered the shot from...

5. Use Photoshop or something similar ( is a free online photo editor) to put it all together.
6. Post the photo with these instructions at your blog.

Now that I've got this typed out, I'll give my seedy novel cover a whirl...

Photo credit: jkoci at Flickr