Wednesday, February 24, 2010


1) When the customs officers asks, "Did you pack your luggage, and has it been with you since then?" it is a mistake to answer, "Of course. There's no way I'm letting that much cocaine out of my sight!"

2) I'm not squeamish. I've never even seen squeam.*

3) I think the biathlon would be more exciting if they moved the targets between the athletes and the spectators.

4) I've caught more than one mouse. I've caught mice. However, I've never eaten a single rouse from a bowl of rice.

5) The Magnus Somnium has 96000 words. I'm pretty sure they're the right ones. I'm just concerned that I may have gotten them in the wrong order.

* Like George Carlin, I've never been chalant either.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't take my word for it...

...but this is fourteen flavors of awesome.

Elmore Leonard put together 10 Rules of Writing, which is one flavor all by itself. But then the Guardian asked a bunch of other writers to scribble down their 10 rules as well. All are wise, some are funny, and one or two are... unusual.

Ten rules for writing fiction.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

One Shirt, Two Pairs of Pants...

Current Reading: The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Inspirational Quote: "After enlightenment, the laundry." -- Zen proverb.

Well, I promised something more substantial than my Valentines day post last week, and failed to come through. For that, I apologize and plead teenagers. Aeneas is having love troubles, which is bleeding attitude into EVERYTHING, while even as I type, Telemachus has some friends over for his 16th birthday party and they're trying to decide whether to watch movies or run around outside with flashlights and toy guns (he gets his definition of maturity from me... and so far, it's not a bad thing).

Anyway. Interesting stuff in the news the last few weeks. Scientists believe they can ignite nuclear fusion using high powered lasers. So that'll be cool, although I can help thinking that the oil industry may well have some things to say about the eventual technology that will result. Also, other scientists have managed to achieve temperatures of 4 trillion degress Kelvin in an attempt to simulate conditions during the big bang. Those wacky scientists. Give 'em a budget of a couple million dollars and it's amazing what they'll do.

A friend of mine heard this news with a smile on his face. It's his belief that the big bang was the result of the previous evolution of intelligent life getting just a little too big for their britches. Eventually, he believes, we'll do something that'll cause another big bang... and the whole thing will start all over again.

I'm less concerned. I figure we'll get swatted by a meteor or extinguish ourselves in an environmental catastrophe long before we become advanced enough to cause that much damage.

In other news, Valentine's Day was followed here in Ontario Canada by Family Day... which makes sense, although it would make more sense if the two holidays were separated by 9 months. Family day was created two years ago because someone realized we needed a holiday in the middle of February much more than we needed ANYTHING ELSE. I agree. I hate February. The theory is that we spend the day doing stuff as a family. The reality is that Cassandra, Penelope and I spent the day at home while the boys spent the weekend at a friend's place. Ah, well. We've planned a little getaway for the 26th-28th, a chance to go off somewhere together and remind ourselves that winter doesn't last forever.

Work on my current novel proceeds a pace. I've learned a lot over the last few weeks. One thing I've learned is that I don't like middles. The Magnus Somnium is still out for review, and I'm a little concerned because I haven't heard back from many beta readers in over a month. No matter, my research into structure has given me some great insights into weaknesses in the story and how they can be improved.

Books. Sheesh.

So what does the title of this post have to do with anything? Only this, that sometimes the details of daily life require all my energy, regardless of how I'd rather spend that energy. It is sometimes a comfort to know that not even Zen masters can escape the business of living. Truly, even after enlightenment there is still laundry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


1) The sign said:
Children Playing
...and I thought, "That's not very nice." (Credit where credit is due: this came from my sister).

2) I'd consider a career in politics or professional sports, but my wife won't let me have even one mistress.

3) I'll never understand philanderers. I can barely deal with one woman. Why on earth would I want to go out and add to that number?

4) People tell me to act my age. I say no. If I'm going to be acting, I'd rather act twenty years younger. It's a more challenging role.

5) It takes a village to raise a child because that spreads the blame around.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don't You Want Somebody to Love?

It's Valentine's Day. I'll post something pithy/wise/nonsensical later in the week.
Now stop reading blogs and go get cozy with someone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


1. When people ask me where I'm from, I like to say "Africa," because really it depends on how far back you go.
2. It always surprises me that gynecologists have children. When I finish my day, I don't want to think about anything work-related until the next day.
3. I called a friend's cell-phone the other day. His voicemail prompt said he wasn't there, which makes me wonder why he had a cell-phone.
4. There is no justice. There are, however, thirty-wonderful flavors of ice-cream.
5. The sign said, "Keep off lawn." So I pulled it up and set it in the owner's driveway.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It began when Cassandra's night light burned out. It was a pretty little thing, a fluorescent bulb behind a rolling blue screen with dolphins on it and a rippled plastic case that made everything look like it was underwater. She doesn't like the dark. A lot of five-year-olds don't. They think it's full of monsters, and it doesn't matter how often you check the closet or look under the bed, you can't convince them that what they can't see isn't somehow dangerous.

Or maybe it began on January 29 when a young woman was reported as missing because she had failed to show up for work. People put up posters and organized searches and formed facebook groups and looked to the local police and then the Ontario Provincial Police to find her somehow. They did. On February 8, they found her body just outside the village where my brother maintains his business.

Or maybe it began back in 1987. I remember riding the TTC from my part-time job in Etobicoke to my apartment near Lansdowne subway stop. The train passed over the park and river valley east of the Old Mill stop, and I was thinking about the news. A lot of women had been assaulted in Scarborough. The police were trying to find the man responsible. A few years later, they did.

Regardless, last night I dug through drawers and opened boxes and finally came up with a light that was bright enough to dispel the shadows, but dim enough that Cassandra could sleep. Because that's what Daddies do. They fix things. They protect their children even from harmless shadows. They tuck their little girls into their beds and tell them stories full of friendly unicorns and giant penguins and they rig up nightlights. They check in the closet and find only old clothes and a box of stuffed animals. They check under the bed and find only coloring books and slippers and the box where they keep fairy wands and princess crowns. Most important of all, they tell their babies that monsters don't exist.

Then they go out into the living room and they watch the news and they try not to bawl their eyes out because monsters do exist. They're real and they look like us and there's nothing a whole army of Daddies can do to protect little girls of any age against them. In the face of that kind of realization, all any Daddy can do is savor every day and hope for more of them and try to drown the terrible helpless feeling in the bustle of everyday living.

In the face of that, it's all Daddy can do not to confiscate every light in the house and turn his daughter's room into a fucking Christmas tree as bright as the sun.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What Dreams May Come...

Current Reading: The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

Inspirational Quote: "What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers." -- Logan Pearsall Smith

Some recent passages:

J.D. Salinger. I never read Catcher in the Rye. About the time I was Holden Caulfield's age, I was reading the Hobbit and Watership Down, the Chronicles of Prydain and the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Regardless. His words gave form to the teen angst and disaffectedness of generations.

Kage Baker. Another whose work I have not read, but whose passing has affected many and whose work inspired many others. The SFWA's notice of her death is here.

Woody Allen once said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying." I agree wholeheartedly, but realize that death is one of the things which defines human existence, and is one of the realities which inspire us to art. Art is, for many of us, a way to face death, to think about it and explore the ramifications of it and try to figure it out while we still have the opportunity without the experience. Occasionally an artist will achieve immortality by finding something new to say or finding something old to say in a new way that resonates with people outside of his own time. Then their words outlive them and can reach across time, across the great divide of death, to speak to those who come after.

As legacies go, it's a good one.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


1. When people talk about "rap music," am I the only one who wonders why they keep leaving off the "c?"
2. The sign said "50% Off!!!" but they wouldn't sell it to me even for full price.
3. My autobiography will be a work of fiction written by someone else.
4. There is no better place to be acrophobic and claustrophobic than in a glass elevator stuck on the forty-second floor.
5. I think I'm going to sit down and write a computer bacterium because there are far too many viruses out there and we could all use the variety.