After a week of meetings, I sat at the table with a dozen or so pages of
doodles and scribbles in front of me. One of my co-workers commented that
they looked like Sanskrit, or hieroglyphics, and jokingly asked what I
"All work and no play make Steve a dull boy," I answered.
Oddly enough, no one
bothered me for the rest of the day.
abandoned me left yesterday for L.A. to visit her
friend for eight days, so I guess I'm a celibate bachelor again. She made
sure to leave the house stocked with groceries, which is nice, but it somehow
makes me feel like a spoiled housecat who couldn't survive in the wild.
Trust me, I'm perfectly capable of hunting my own food--or at least ordering
And, if you haven't seen Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle,
starring, written and directed by Stephen Chow, I highly recommend you
do. It's some of the funniest, most creative, kick-assed stuff I've ever
seen. Roger Ebert describes Kung Fu Hustle thus: "Imagine a film in
which Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny."
I couldn't have said it better. (Which is why I quoted Roger Ebert--sheesh!)
The entertainment moguls are bemoaning a drop in box office receipts this
year, wondering what went wrong. Many are blaming it on alternate forms
of entertainment like video games. Some say it's because ticket prices
are too high, or that you can wait a few months,rent the movie on DVD,
and watch it in the privacy and comfort of your home, at your leisure.
What with the new crop of big screen, high definition surround sound TVs,
many home theatre systems rival the movie going experience down at the
Mega Plex. And you don't have to listen to annoying cell phones, or teenagers,
or old people, or take out a second mortgage to pay for that keg 'o coke
and the Rubbermaid garbage can full of popcorn (free refills).
But in my opinion, the real reason attendance is down is because there
really hasn't been that much worth seeing. I'm a big fan of going to the
movies. I love the whole movie going experience, and I'm not exactly the
most discriminating viewer. (I liked Riddick, Van Helsing, and A
Sound of Thunder.) I'll go to the movies a few times a week if there's
something I want to see--and the bank approves my credit application. I'd
say I'm exactly the kind of viewer the industry thrives on. But this summer
there were weeks where we didn't go to the theatre once, because there
was nothing we wanted to see.
I wanted to go to the movies. I had the money in my hand and everything,
but there was nothing worth watching. If they couldn't drag a movie junkie
like me into the theatre, what chance did they hope to have with the likes
So there it is; no big secret. You want attendance to go up--make better
I were a Hollywood type someone would have paid me several million for
that bit of research.)
I was bitten by a spider yesterday. I don't think it was a radioactive
spider either, because when I jumped off the roof to test my newfound powers,
the two-story drop hurt like the dickens. Not only that, but when Bernie
at work hit me in the back of the head with a spit ball, my spidey senses
never tingled once.
That's the last time I fall for any of that super hero mythology. As soon
as I get home I'm calling Homeland Security to report that baby that crashed
his spaceship into my backyard.
And I'm keeping the red cape, too.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the military finally issued us our Cad Pat
clothing. (Digital patterned camouflage combats--our new dress of the day
for the Air Force.) I can't believe I didn't mention it as I've
mentioned it several times over the years.
When we went for our fittings back in June, they said we should see them
sometime around October-ish, and yet here it was only Aug 31 (a paltry
5 years from when the program went into effect) and voila! (Yes,
the Francophones--Canada speak for French people--got theirs too.)
Of course we still don't have the blue T-shirts (which you can purchase
at our own expense if simply can't wait for the issue--and I couldn't)
or the new footwear, but hey, it's a start.
And my boss thought he had trouble finding me before.
My current job is as a member of a team that is totally redesigning the
Avionics Technician Course for the Air Force. Right now we're in the media
analysis phase, which means we're trying to decide which training aids
would be most appropriate. Of course, training aids cost money--especially
if that training aid is a simulator that has to be built from the ground
up, or an actual aircraft itself. As you can imagine, the upper echelon
is very interested in what we're doing, and are constantly dragging us
off to meetings to "discuss our progress." Our last meeting went something
Me: Sir, these
meetings are pointless.
Maj: Why do
you say that?
lately all that happens is that we tell you what we want, and you tell
us why we can't have it.
Maj: Well, what
is it that you want now?
Me: We don't
Maj: Why not?
we don't know what we're going to get.
Me: We won't
know what we want until you tell us what we have.
Maj: But I can't
tell you what you have unless you tell me what you want?
As soon as we know what we have, we'll tell you what we want. And then
you can tell us why we can't have it.
his temples) The scary thing is, I think I understood that.
If I keep this up, they'll
stop inviting me to the meetings--so it's not all bad.
Oh, yeah: I've been meaning to mention this for a while, but I'm an idiot,
so I haven't, but--I saw a copy of Charlie's A Democracy of Trolls
in Chapters! For you Americans, Chapters is our big chain bookstore, which
in my feeble mind equates to success. (I know when the Devil finally gets
around to honoring our pact and I get a major publishing deal, I hope to
see my book in Chapters.)
There was only one copy, which is good, but it wasn't very prominently
displayed. (Notice the use of the past tense wasn't.)
Way to go, Charlie!
So I was halfway through my
nightly torture session run
when I saw this old guy running towards me, (consider the source--that's
how old he was) and I couldn't help but wonder if running hurt him as much
as it hurt me. Highly doubtful, I decided, since he was one of those long,
lean stick-figure types who would have felt right at home with Simon in
the Land of Chalk Drawings. I've heard that muscular types like me have
a harder time of it (mostly from other whiny muscular
Oh, and try this next time you're out running, and you pass one of those
joggers wearing a headset: Smile and say, "Hey, Nancy Boy." They can't
hear you anyway, and the smile fakes them out so they usually just smile
back and say "hi" or "how's it go'in?" Of course, I recommend you don't
try this on one of those cranky, muscular types--just in case.
BTW, today is my brother's birthday, so:
He's a cop, so you can blame everything on him if you like.
Today I feel old, fat and ugly. My wife assures me that I am in fact none
of those, but then she sees me through love-goggles, which have been know
to distort reality with ten times the power of beer-goggles. I wouldn't
put it past her to lie, either.
Of course even if I'm not old, fat, or ugly, that's how I feel--and that's
all that matters. Did I mention failure?
What do you mean you're not supposed to suffer from mid-life crisis just
because other people are having birthdays?
In the little Personality Cocktail yesterday, one of my "ingredients"
was 3 Parts Joy to which barbarienne commented that I haven't
seemed very joyous lately. She's probably right, but here's the thing.
I would say that left to my own devices, I'm a naturally happy person--quite
silly, actually. It's only when the world conspires to piss me off (and
it does so quite often) that I get snarky. But no matter how crappy a hand
I've been dealt, leave me alone for a bit (e.g. Don't drop a safe/piano
on my head etc.) and I return to a naturally happy state.
I know other people whose natural state is downright cranky. They start
out unpleasant and rarely experience joy unless they're the beneficiaries
of extraordinary good luck--which is rare and doesn't last long.
Others are a null, and can go either way, depending on what's going on
in their life at the moment.
So here's the question: Which are you? Joyous, Cranky, or Null?
Here's a quick question
to help you decide:
When life hands you
a. make lemmonade (Joyous)
b. Lemmons? What good
are lemmons? What's wrong with oranges, or pinapple..(Cranky)
c. see what you can
get for them on Ebay. (Null)
I dreamt I was in school. I was off sick the day before, and the teacher
told me I had a thesis due the next day. I realised I already had a thesis
due, so this made two. Plus I had to have my shoes ready for parade the
next day (and this wasn't even a military school) so I bought a pair of
red boots and red polish. I was bummed because I had to stay up all night
writing, and then polishing my boots, and just as dawn approached it dawned
on me that military footwear is black, and I'd spent all night working
on these boots for nothing.
The worst part is, when I finally woke up, I was tired from dreaming I
was awake all night. Argh!!
You can only work
too hard for so long to get nowhere before coming to the realisation that
you can arrive at the same destination by doing absolutely nothing.
Once upon a time there was a Golden Age of Science Fiction. (It was the
golden age of Fantasy too, but for some reason no one ever mentions that.)
Sure, the audience consisted mostly of 13-year-old boys, but those boys
eventually grew up to be men who never grew out of their love affair with
the genre of their youth.
Writing was different then. No one cared about Conan's motivation for the
deeds he did, or how he felt about being an orphan, or how it affected
his spiritual growth. All that mattered was that he was the baddest of
the bad in a fantastical world most of us would have given our eyeteeth
to be a part of.
Unfortunately all the other writers made fun of us, saying sci-fi and fantasy
wasn't real writing, real literature, and it hurt our grubby
little feelings. So we changed the way we wrote in an effort to be more
respectable. Our characters developed depth. They had to grow as people.
We learned to use symbolism and metaphors and write a novel in one long
sentence with no punctuation.
In many ways the writing improved, but often form became more important
than content or ideas, and we lost our audience. The 13-year-old boys couldn't
care less about that stuff; they wanted deeds and daring do and bright,
shiny ideas--not psychoanalysis, or pretty passages that didn't really
say anything. They turned to easier media for their guilty pleasures, most
notably video games. Sure, we picked up a few 13-year-old girls, but the
numbers just weren't the same.
The trick, of course, is to write both: great ideas and great adventures
with well thought out and developed characters, and pretty prose. Some
of you might argue that that's what we're doing now, but if that's true,
why is it that I constantly hear readers complain that they only liked
one or two stories out of the current mag they just bought? And no two
readers seem to like the same one or two stories.
I personally think it's because most stories aren't a meld of ideas
or adventure, and technique. Most are still doing one or the other, so
no one mag can please both types of readers.
Of course, as usual, I could be wrong.
(It's a good think I left out the part about how half the editors now are
women, and are getting girl cooties all over Sci-Fi and Fantasy. That was
I have to agree that the new episode of Lost was pretty cool,
but I guess I'm not as easily impressed as others. I mean, I kind of suspected
that they might find what they did down the hatch. And the Doc's story
line (and most of the others, for that matter) seems really neat the way
they all interconnect. And all the freaky stuff with the polar bears, the
French Woman, the Others, and the BSM (Big Scary Monster) seem inspired.
But ultimately whether any of this is great genre will depend on the final
answers to the mysteries they've set up. Anyone can write cool, random
yet seemingly connected events and quirky cosmic coincidence if they don't
have to explain how it all ties together. It's the payoff that defines
whether the writing was brilliant, or schlock. (Think Stephen King and
the Giant Spider from Space at the end of It.)
That said, Lost is one of my favourite shows, and if in the end
it all makes plausible sense I will bow to their genius.
Sometimes you hear an expression and you just have to wonder what they
were thinking when they came up with it. A common one you hear in the military
is "Screwing the pooch," although you most often hear it in its more vulgar
phrasing: "Fucking the dog." It basically means that you're not doing anything,
or even more accurately, wasting time, accomplishing nothing.
Thus a person who is constantly fucking the dog becomes known as a dog
fucker. So you often hear conversations along the lines of:
"Hey, Bob, what're you up to?"
"Nothing, just fucking the dog."
"What's up you dog fucker?"
The thing is, I have a hard time believing that one day a co-worker walked
in on another in the midst of having canine sexual relations, and thought,
"Wow, he must have a lot of time on his hands."
Nowadays he'd be slapped with a sexual harassment suit, at the least.
Next week we're scheduled for Readiness Training, which is Air Force speak
for refresher Army Training. That's right, someone's going to teach me
all about firing the C-7, Map and Compass work, and how to wear a gas mask.
Can you say waste of time? Still, like I keep telling all the folks here
bitching commenting about the futility of teaching
Air Force personnel this stuff, it's fun when you only have to do
it a week out of the year. It sucks when you have to do it every
day for a living.
Darling du jour:
The air smelled of pine needles and brimstone, as if someone had tried
to disinfect Hell.
We were talking about foods we like at work the other day, and I mentioned
how I'm not a big fan of lobster or crab, the main reason being that I
generally don't like to eat anything that looks like it would eat me first
if it had a chance. The fact that it's a carrion eater doesn't exactly
put it at the top of my yummy-to-eat list either.
Someone else mentioned how they liked liver, and while I don't mind it,
I can't help thinking, Why would you want to eat an organ that filters
out all the stuff that would normally kill you in the first place?
It's kind of like saying you wouldn't drink the oil in your car, but the
Darling du jour:
demons unearthed themselves to stand at Azrael's side as he summoned them
one after another, commanding them in ancient Sumerian, or Hittite, or...aw
hell, it could have been Portuguese for all I know. I'm pretty confident
it wasn't French though, as I never once heard him summon a Jacques, or
So we started our Refresher Training with map and compass work today. They
took us out to a big honking field in the middle of nowhere--no trees,
hills, ravines...nothing--and had us plot our position on a map, and march
to a set of coordinates they gave us. We did this four times, and each
leg was about a little over a km long. I could practical see the next destination
from the one we were at.
It was pointless, but a nice walk, and our new camo rain gear is much better
than the old stuff, which was just this side of being a Hefty Bag with
holes cut in it for your head and arms. If they really wanted to test a
bunch of Canadian soldier's proficiency with a map and compass they should
have had us plot our way from one Tim Horton's to the next. At least they're
only about 500 meters apart.
Darling du Jour:
"That's just plain
"I have chocolate and
strawberry evil if you prefer."
Today was the last day of Refresher Training. The military spared no expense,
as usual, transporting us about in old yellow school buses. It was kind
of like a school trip, except instead of going to a farm or a chocolate
factory we went to the gas chamber. (Oops, sorry, that's gas hut. Apparently
gas chamber has negative connotations.)
That, and our school uniforms really suck.
Darling du Jour:
"Where ever there is
darkness, I will be there...bumping into shit and tripping over the shoes
in the hallway."