Wednesday, September 30, 2009
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
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 place...it does, doesn't it?
Friday, September 25, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
The berry best the island has to offer...
(sub-titled, of course, Who Let the Dogs Out...)
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
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
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
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
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
- Professional Athlete
- Entrepreneur (sp?)
- Rock Singer
- Pop Star
- Business Woman
One can really see the similarities, and the differences, between the lists...What do you want to be when you grow up? Hmm...to dream. A writer, perchance?
Friday, September 11, 2009
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
Monday, September 7, 2009
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
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
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
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
- 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-dresserdog 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.