Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Great Pretender

I figured that I will do my small part in getting the word out about somebody plagiarizing stories in our on-line community. Most of you will know this already but perhaps some have not.

Mercedes Yardley last night posted on her blog about a person by the name of 'Richard Ridyard' who attempted to pass off a story as his own, but was actually written by the horror master Stephen King. Fortunately, the people at Shock Totem recognized it for what it was and called him up on it. You can read her full story here. She also mentions that horror writer Angel Zapata has had one of his stories plagiarized. I read this morning that our own Aaron Polson has also had his story "Communion" plagiarized by this person. You can read his comments about this at his blog here.

Angel does an amazing job of building a case against this fraud on his most recent post. Do yourself a favour and read his well-researched story exposing this person here. There are numerous comments from folks at his blog, updating information on the story.

There's not more I can add to what others have said about this person. When on-line publishers accept stories there is a certain amount of trust assumed. I somehow doubt this was done for money because, as we all know, there isn't a lot to be had by publishing short stories on e-zines. I think that it's more of a sick joke by someone who has carefully placed stories for some time, knowing that eventually they would be discovered. I also think that this person is getting off on the amount of attention they are receiving. Sort of their '15 minutes of fame.'

There will always be people who try to scam the system, but it is comforting that when a person like that is exposed for what they are the rest this community can rally together. In a matter of hours people all over the world have gathered and shared information on this fraud in an attempt to expose him/her more quickly the next time. I have no doubt that Richard Ridyard will surface again in another persona, but at least everyone will be watching.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Mob Rules

I saw something odd today. Or perhaps I'm out of step with the times and 'odd' is the wrong word to use.

I was getting lunch together in the kitchen when I noticed a group of teens in the park behind us. It's not unusual to see a few there eating their lunch away from the Jr. High school. More kids used to hang out there, but the large wooden play structure they sat on was set on fire at 4am one morning about a year ago and the city never replace it. Good idea.

Anyway, there was a large group of kids milling about and more showing up every minute. There seemed to me something menacing about the group, so I kept watch. I estimated about 50 to 60 in number and they all moved en mass into the parking lot of the plaza just out of my view. I switched windows to the front of the house and saw them moving towards the creek. Cars started showing up and parking, and many more older teens got out of the vehicles and joined the crowd. All of a sudden many of the group started to run back in the direction of the park where they had started. Some cut through the opening int he fence and came in groups down our street. A police car drove up our street and many headed back through the fence into the plaza. Two more police cars showed up in the plaza and the kids began to scatter in all directions.

My son returned to school and reported later that the group had heard that two boys were going to meet in the park for a fight. Perhaps I'm a bit stunned to think that 50 to 60 kids, boys and girls, want to see two guys beat the crap out of each other in a public park. The mob mentality really is a powerful thing. Also, if the junior hockey team had had that sort of support from its spectators, it wouldn't have folded a couple of years ago leaving us with no team playing in our 7000 seat arena. It was a new sort of thing to witness, but I suppose it happens all over the does, doesn't it?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bring on the Bloodsport

Yes, fair readers, it's that time of year again. When all Canadian work places (and some American) begin to pour over lists of hockey player names in hopes of putting together that winning squad...the team that will win you a crap-load of money give you lots of fun and possible glory among your hockey-worshiping co-workers. And remember, friends, that gambling is illegal in most countries and we should not partake ;)

Instead of putting together characters and scenes for my NaNo story, I will be pouring over pages of statistics trying to decide who is worthy of my selection. Shall it be Ovechkin over Crosby (note that I had opportunity to watch Sid the Kid play in the Memorial Cup tournament in London in 2005, and he is well worth the price of admission should he be appearing in a metropolis near you) or shall I select Zetterberg over Thornton. The choices are endless.

As noted on other blogs, it's Natalie Sin's birthday today. In her honour I hold up a cup and toast her greatness. The attached photo below, which was indeed from Slap Shot (as were the Hanson's above), will have to suffice as I scoured the Internet for the video footage of his strip tease to no avail.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Count Me In

Catherine Gardner at The Poisoned Apple has started a trend today that all the cool kids want to be part of this Halloween season.

The Aaron Polson fan club is now open to members and I, for one, have never been disappointed by anything he has written and am jumping on the bandwagon.

To join, all you have to do is add the certificate (below) to your sidebar/web page/blog/or have it tattooed on your butt chest.

I am a fan of his smooth, clear writing style and enjoy the evil and horrific journeys he has led us on. I would not hesitate to wave his flag or pimp him out...oops, I don't think that came out right. Anyway, in case you have been living in a well-lit, carefree world--take a moment to step into the shadows and check him out at The Other Aaron . Sign up now while there's still time...Muwhahahah....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cryptozoology...'s more than just a big word. According to the Wikipedia people, it 'refers to the search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biology.'

An article in news caught my eye this morning and I figured I would share it with you, just in case you haven't had enough weirdness in your day. The full story can be found here, but to paraphrase: there was a photo released taken on Cameron Lake near Parksville, BC on Vancouver Island. The woman who took the photo had seen something on the surface and snapped a quick shot of the serpent-like creature. Researchers spent Saturday on the Lake and did, indeed, pick up a large sonar signal from an object 60 feet below.

British Columbia has had a storied history with strange beasties from the Sasquatch to Ogopogo, and, years ago, the fabled Cadborosaurus. It's interesting that all it takes is one misinterpreted sighting of an object on a body of water, over a span of dozens of years, gets folks speculating as to what lies beneath. I'm as guilty as the next person...when we visited Loch Ness years ago I had my eyes peeled on the water at all times, just hoping for the elusive sighting. I guess some things are human nature. To the right is a photo of the serpent play-thingy, made of concrete, located at Gyro Park at Cadboro beach in Victoria. I used to play on that as a kid.

And all of this reminds me of the hilarious video to be seen at Carrie Harris' blog regarding the trend of merging the classics with supernatural elements. You've got to check it out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Week in Pictures

Have made a bit of progress fleshing out characters and certain scenes for the Nano story, but am having problems outlining the sequence of events. I am hoping for divine inspiration or an Epiphany or something like that. I present the last several days in pictures for your viewing enjoyment.

The berry best the island has to offer...

(yes, I do look a little stunned after all that picking)

Life has gone to the dogs...
(sub-titled, of course, Who Let the Dogs Out...)

All I can say is better him in the silly hat than me...

Umm, I wanted an excuse to to back to the harbour cam again...the Celebrity Constellation visited (965ft long, 122ft wide) just passed through the narrows...
The turn to port...
Approaching the dock...

Let's just put her into 'park'...

(I know what you're thinking. Alan has waaaaay to much time on his hands...)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Knock at the Door

Something happened yesterday. It was one of those small, yet thought-provoking happenings that stumble upon us on rare occasions.

I was working at my desk in my home office. It's next to the front door, so I have a view of the road out of my window. An old man, carrying a well-worn plastic bag, was going door to door. Folks going through the neighbourhood selling stuff is no big surprise. Kids raising money for school events, adults raising money for causes, certain young men in their nice white shirts and ties...I even had a guy trying to sell me fish from the trunk of his car.

Anyway...a few minutes later there wasn't a doorbell ring, but a metallic tapping at the door. I opened the door to find the old man. He had thin white hair and was stoop shouldered, but the most striking, and obvious, thing about him was that he didn't have any hands. His stainless steel pinchers were clamped through the opening at the top of the grocery bag and mentioned that he had some things to sell. In normal circumstances, I would say thanks very much but I'm not interested. But I really felt bad for the guy so I asked to see what he was selling.

He had two books:large paperbacks that are common here by local authors, usually historical stories. He also had one local CD and a knitted child's toy. One of the books caught my eye as it was the history (1950-2000) of a village called Old Perlican. This is along the northern shore of Conception Bay, about 15 minutes past my parent's house. I bought the book from him. He gingerly clamped the $20 bill in his right hook (yes, I paid the Chapters price) and tucked it in his left breast pocket. He thanked me and continued on to the next house.

I sat down and glanced through the book. It was written by a man who has lived most of his life in that small community and was the school principal for a time. The book was really a series of vignettes about events in the village. A photo caught my eye. And there he was again: the man with hooks. There was an 8 page story dedicated to him, relating how he lost his hands.

I won't go into detail with the whole story, but Andrew Pottle lost his hands in 1975 due to an accident when he was electrocuted by a downed power line that was on top of his car. He wasn't supposed to survive the ordeal, or the 2 hour drive to the hospital in St. John's. But he did. He recovered quicker than expected and learned to use the hooks he was fitted with to the best of his ability and even learned to drive again.

Very inspirational stuff. You never can tell who you're going to meet today. I'll think about him next time I'm whining about hurting after basketball...

Monday, September 14, 2009

I think I'm Gonna Die

Tonight was the first night of basketball for our men's league this season. We haven't played since mid-May. We'll, there's not really structured teams...and it's not a league, as such. Just a bunch of guys that rent the gym at the military base for an hour to relive their youth (yute?). Some of these gents have been playing together for over 35 years. It sort of gives you an idea of the age bracket when I, a couple of weeks away from 47, am one of the "youngsters". I think the oldest is 63 or so. I privately refer to the weekly spectacle as "Geezerball."

Now let me get this out in the open...I'm nobody's idea of an athlete. I didn't play team sports back in school (not even basketball). I was talked into this gig last fall by my sister-in-law's husband who is a bit of a jock. "Yes b'y, just a bit of fun and exercise." Ha, such a liar!

I feel like somebody has driven sharp knives into both my knee caps, exchanged my thighs for heavy chunks of rubber and pounded my lower spine with a baseball bat. Hmm, guess that I was more out of shape than I thought. A few of the guys like to go downtown to a bar for nachos, wings and pitchers of beer. That can be enjoyable, on the rare occasion, but I tend to not want to undo the good effects of the torture exercise.

A think that I may have to adopt a couple of cliched mantras: "No pain, No gain" comes to mind. Also, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger" may apply here as well. Either way I will be sure to have myself checked out of the hospital next Monday in time for the game. I am off for a hot shower and a handful of Ibuprofen with a tea chaser.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Just thought that I'd throw out a quick post this Sunday night. Had a good time today at the greyhound picnic. Will put out a few photos once we get them off of the camera.

My sister is settling in here, but is still on the hunt for a job. It was a tough circumstance for her back in London as they have an 11% unemployment rate now as the region is so dependent on the waning auto industry. We are faring better on the Atlantic, but it's still a bit difficult.

I'm reminded of a school assembly we had, I think back in Jr. High. We were all herded into the gym and some job expert told us that the future will be different for us than it was for our parents. No longer will you start a job when you leave school and work at that job your entire career until retirement. He told us we would probably have 3 or 4 'careers' in our work lifetimes. For the most part, I think he was right. I worked as a clerk in a mineral exploration office. I've also swept floors at K-mart (and worked in the warehouse) and was a dog catcher (I prefer the more politically correct Animal Control Officer). I now call myself a structural steel detailer (or simply a drafting monkey). Who knows what the future will hold?

The other day, I heard on the radio that only 1 in 8 people end up with their 'dream job' from their childhood. I fancied that I would be an evil despot a pilot when I was a boy. The following is the list of top 5 dream jobs for boys and girls:


  1. Professional Athlete
  2. Entrepreneur (sp?)
  3. Rock Singer
  4. Pilot
  5. Doctor


  1. Teacher
  2. Doctor
  3. Veterinarian
  4. Pop Star
  5. Business Woman

One can really see the similarities, and the differences, between the lists...What do you want to be when you grow up? dream. A writer, perchance?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Back to Basics

As often happens, I find myself speechless with nothing to post. Friday has been popular for many to post a flash fiction story...alas, anything that sits in my files is either earmarked for somewhere or is in dire need of an edit and I would be embarrassed to post it.

So I'm thinking that it's again time to flip through the ever-useful class notes for fine pieces of advice from the experts. One hand-out was from Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay by Lederer & Dowis and offered up some useful points.

  • Cut the Verbal Clutter. Train yourself to write with fewer words. Your readers will love you for it. If you can make twenty-five words do the work of fifty, you have reduced by half the amount of material the reader must assimilate to get the intended message.
  • Keep it Simple. Contrary to what some people seem to believe, simple writing is not the product of simple minds. A simple, unpretentious style has both grace and power. By not calling attention to itself it allows the reader to focus on the message.
  • Don't Overstuff Your Sentences. As a general rule, a sentence should have no more than one main idea. We emphasize general because this rule, like so many others, is violated by some good writers.
  • Train the Ear. Writing is at once a visual and aural medium. Although not all writing is intended to be read aloud, most good writing can be read aloud with no detrimental effect. It is important, therefore, for anyone who wants to write well to train the ear to recognize the good and bad aural qualities.
  • Help the Reader. An often-repeated axiom is that communication is a two-way street. But clear communication is the responsibility of the writer, not the reader. The writer must therefore give the reader all possible help in understanding what is written.
  • Watch Your Language. Words mean things. You can no more write well without using words well than a composer can create a symphony without understanding rhythm and harmony. Good writers know that connotations are often more important than definitions, and that the true meaning of a word or phrase is the effect it has on readers.
  • Set Your Work in Concrete. If the purpose of writing is to convey ideas and information, then unnecessary or unintended abstraction defeats the purpose. The more concrete the writing, the more precise the message it conveys.

I can hold up my hand and say, "Guilty as charged" on many of those points. On the odd occasion that I get off my lazy arse and write something, I find that I dwell too much on the sentences I am writing, as I am writing them. My last instructor was a big fan of 'Just Get the Information Down on Paper.' Write for an hour, don't correct anything. Just let the information flow. A good and useful point. When I am being productive, I'm worrying too much about the final product. The feedback I get most often is "Good prose, but a bit too flowery."

As Lederer & Dowis noted in the points above, I think that I'm going to have to work on sticking to my message and present it more clearly. I can't help but feel this would be of great help to me if I am to participate in NaNoWriMo this year (umm...jury is still out on that).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New Toy

I had to drive our son downtown last night, to the far side of the harbour for sea cadets. It's a Tuesday night ritual we've gotten used to the past year. On the downtown side, I noticed that there was a cruise ship docked. This isn't unusual as we get a dozen or so a season. Newfoundland is a bit off the beaten track, but I think some ships passing to or from Europe put it on the schedule for a visit.

When I got home I mentioned it to my wife who said, "Maybe you can see it on Harbour cam at the CBC web site." Hmm...nobody told me there was a camera taking pictures of our scenic harbour every 5 minutes. So I visited the web site and, sure enough, there is a Harbour cam situated on the Rooms (the provincial museum sitting high above the downtown core.)

This is probably of no interest to anyone but me, but I'll throw it out there anyway...the following reference about St. John's, and its harbour, is courtesy of our friends at Wikipedia.
"On August 5, 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the area as England's first overseas colony under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, he found 16 English ships with 20 French and Portuguese vessels using the harbour; at the time, settlement had developed on the north side of the harbour. There was no permanent English settler population, however, and Gilbert was lost at sea during his return voyage, thereby ending any immediate plans for settlement."
It's funny that the region was claimed by the English, yet the people here are descended mainly from Irish immigrants.
This is yet another case of a guy playing with a new toy at his disposal (I prefer to think of it as promoting my city to the world population.) The first photo was from about 7pm last night, the second from about 7am this morning. The first is obviously was better as it shows the cruise ship (the Aidaaura, out of Germany...he,he,he, toys!)

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Final Long Week End

As the title indicates, and as we all know, it's the final week end of summer (except for my Australian and New Zealand friends and relatives who are now experiencing winter).

We spent the long week end away at my parent's home in Gull Island, a nearly 2 hour drive for those of you who haven't heard me prattle on talk about this before. The weather was sunny and warm(ish) and the final hurrah as the temps will be dropping and three days of rain are forecast. Spent some time berry picking as the blueberries and partridge berries looked great. Note that the blueberries here are somewhat smaller than the mainland, I suppose due to cooler weather and a shorter season, and the partridge berries are known as lingonberries, cowberries, mountain cranberries and red whortleberries in other regions). My wife has made jam with the blueberries and put some away for muffins and pancakes. The partridge berries are tart, so she will mix apples with them when she makes jam. I find now that I hurt all over, as if someone has beat me with a frozen salami (yes, that image is partially based on a real-life incident I won't discuss...)

The downside of these trips is that my parents do not have a fenced yard and I have to frequently take our dog for walks on his leash. He is, as many of you know, a greyhound. They are sight hounds and must be leashed at all times as the impulse to chase small fast-moving things is inherent in the breed. The long dog walks gave me a lot of time to invent fantastic story ideas consider his costume for next week end's 'greyhound picnic'. We are presently working on his Captain Jack Sparrow costume, complete with dreds, ear rings and eye patch. OK, I made that part up...I hate the idea of dressing him up and embarrassing him (even though I did post a photo of a pug in a party hat last week). That was just an evil streak I developed during my tenure as a dog catcher.

Just as we were leaving yesterday, we spotted two whales in Conception Bay. We drove to shore and watched them perform their breaches of the surface with awe. One spent a long time on it's side slapping the surface with a flipper. They were quite a way from shore and attempts at photos were fruitless as they only cleared the surface for a second and when you tried to snap with a digital, they were gone. I've seen whales up there a number of times, but never with that much activity. Very humbling indeed.

I had intended on getting on to some sort of 'writerly' topic this post, but got somewhat distracted with the week end away. Our son starts grade 8 on Wednesday and we are obviously more excited about the joyous event than he...Hope you all had a great Labour Day week end.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Appreciate This!

As others have pointed out the past couple of days, literary agent Nathan Bransford declared this Writer Appreciation Week.

I started taking my writing more seriously in May and expanded my education to online pursuits of knowledge. Through the EveryDayFiction web site, I came across such fine writers as Catherine J. Gardner and Aaron Polson. Their stories have been been horrific yet thought-provoking and have taken us to strange new places and, at times, to the edge of madness. BT was correct as referring to you as the 'parents' of this circle of friends.

Of course, if they be the parents, then Brenton Tomlinson must be the wise, elder son. He works hard at researching writer's sites and reviewing books and his strict work ethic is most inspiring. I tip a glass in your direction, sir!

Others who have inspired and entertained? The zany Carrie Harris has always put a 'sparkle' in my day and KC Shaw has shown me that fantasy is a fine alternative to horror. Katey Taylor has introduced me to zombie romance, set in 19th century America. I look forward to nagging her for a signed copy of her book (I will, of course, pay for the book...). The stories of Natalie L. Sin have both horrified me and made me chuckle (often at the same time). She has shown me that 'Relentless Sodomy' (The Musical) isn't such a bad thing...

Yes, there are others who have impressed to whom I must show appreciation. I have enjoyed frequenting the blogs of writers Mercedes M. Yardley, Jameson T. Caine and Jamie Eyberg as well as Rebecca Nazar, Jeremy Kelly and Danielle Ferries.

My longest-running 'cyberfriend' is Anton Gully (or whatever your name really is) who's blog recently came to an untimely demise. He may, at times, doubt his ability as a writer but his words say otherwise. His stories can still be found at the Black Dogs Reading Room.

The circle of friends I have draped around me, like a protective and warming cloak, is ever widening and I have recently formed friendships with writers Laura Eno, Jarmara Falconer and Akasha Savage...ladies, I look forward to enjoying more of your work in the future.

Wow! The list is long and full of well-deserving folks that understand the struggle of juggling work with writing, or perhaps family with writing...or both. You have all, in varying degrees, come to mean something to me as a fledgling writer. You have either posted inspirational advise on your blogs or have imparted kind words or advice at mine. I tip my hat (I will put on my fez for this special occasion) to you all in celebration of Writer's Appreciation Week. Nathan Bransford has suggested we all hug a writer...I would give you all a big hug, but since we are scattered about the globe you will have to be satisfied with this...

Almost forgot...I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the multi-talented Helen Ginger who educates and promotes writers daily. I should also thank my creative writing instructor, Ed Kavanagh whose talents as an educator, a writer, an editor and a musician have been an inspiration to myself and many others about this beautiful province. Of course, I should send a shout out to the legendary Stephen King, whose tales sparked my imagination as a young man, and to that grandfather of horror...Edgar Allan Poe, who lives forever in all our imaginations.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Odds and Sods

I can't really think about what to post on this morning, so I've got a mish-mash of comments and observations...

  • Following the last post about NaNoWriMo, I have started putting together some notes on my idea to see if coming up with 50k words is feasible.
  • I was going to participate in the book shelf meme that has been floating about the blogoverse the past few days (since Aaron Polson generously tagged everyone and their pets). Surprisingly, I can't find books starting in the letters 'A', 'I' or 'N'. To get around this, I have been considering having my name legally changed...

  • The weather here doesn't normally go above 25 during the summer (that would be degrees 'C' for my American friends, about 80F if my mental calculator serves). They say to grow tomatoes here, you have to keep them in a greenhouse--locally, that is a light wooden frame covered in plastic. We haven't been doing that, opting to bring them in at night. We were surprised to find this morning that a couple of the cherry tomatoes have turned red and look ready to eat. These were given to us earlier in the summer and, sadly, nobody in our family likes tomatoes. Perhaps the dog will eat them?

    • Umm, this story is for the talented Natalie Sin: The morning show folks are always good for a laugh. The lady announcer has a pet pug called Pierre. It's apparently 4yrs old today and she will be making a cake for it's birthday. She also has bought a Halloween costume for the dog...a hot dog outfit...*sighs* Perhaps I'm a bit jaded on the whole dressing-up-your-dog-thing as I was once a cross-dresser dog catcher in a former life (but that's another story). The dog attire business will yet again rear its ugly head as the annual "Greyhound Picnic" we will be attending this month will have a fashion show for folks to dress up their lanky dogs.

    I guess for not having anything to say this morning, I sort of rambled on a bit.