Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I figured that for the final post of the year I would dredge up some humour. Couldn't find any. As a result, I again resorted to posting an old photo of me wearing a goofy hat. My mum took this when I was a wee lad, back when Kennedy was still around. I figured my 'girl-fans' would appreciate seeing me in a cool hat and tightie-whities. My 'guy-fans' will just have to avert their eyes.

For most people, New Years eve is about the social gatherings and the eating and drinking. I'm not much into going out for that. I prefer a quieter night at home, watching the Dick Clark Ryan Seacrest and the ball dropping in Times Square and all of that. The new year has never been a big deal for me. Perhaps it's because I try to think of the progress of time as less a cyclical, yearly thing and more a linear progression. Hope that doesn't come across as philosophical.

A lot of people will make promises today on how they will better themselves in the upcoming year. I prefer not to make resolutions. I figure that if you can't make those choices to better yourself at any point during the year, why make them on New Year's eve when you're drunk and silly. Or on New Years day when you are hung over. Here is a list of things that I probably won't do to better myself:

  • I shall get more weekly exercise than running about, wheezing for an hour while playing basketball with a bunch of geriatric men svelt athletes. Perhaps I will walk the dog more. Maybe even dig out the old Richard Simmons "Sweatin' to the Oldies" VHS tapes (1 through 5) and my satin shorts from that unmarked box in the crawlspace.
  • I shall eat less junk food.  I shall try harder to use a napkin while eating soft ice cream.
  • Perhaps 2011 will be the year I throw away that old rotary phone and embrace technology and buy myself a cell phone.
  • This will be the year that I stop watching reality TV shows coz there's enough reality in my own life.
  • I shall be more tolerant of the kids from the neighbouring Junior High School and try to curse them out less when they throw litter on my lawn or kick over my garbage cans.
  • I shall contribute to the #fridayflash scene more with short stories.
  • I shall finally start working on that long-term novel project (sighs).
  • I shall dry-clean my fez this year. The odour of camel is getting a bit much.
  • I shall shave off all of my hair again this year...yeah, right!...I love my silver mane too much. However, my good friend Laurita Miller of Brian Droppings is taking the plunge and participating in this year's Shave for the Brave to raise money (her goal is $2000) to help young people dealing with cancer. A fantastic thing for Laurita to do and a very worthy cause. I believe this link will take you to her fundraising page and this link will take you to the home page for Shave for the Brave.
I have yet again rambled on for too long. I'll close here wishing all my family and friends a great 2011. Health and happiness to you all (Alan toasts you all with his mug of hot chocolate). To steal a line from an old song...this year will be a good bright, in fact, that you'll have to wear shades.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Belated Christmas Stuff

I had intended on posting Christmas wishes and all that nice stuff on the 24th, but my internet connection was sporadic at best and it just wasn't happening. We were off by noon to drop in on V's dad out along the bay and see how he was doing. He got out of hospital about 10 days ago after his minor surgery for one of those 'men's issues' and is on the mend. We continued on to the north end of the bay to visit my parents over Christmas. We had a nice visit. It would have been even better had the wind and rain let up. The waves were spectacular (the cancelled ferry crossings to the island were on account of the 9m or 28ft waves) and would be perfect for surfers if not for the large, jagged rocks along the coastline. And the fact that the bay is connected to the Atlantic and it's so frickin' cold!

On the 24th I read an outstanding Christmas horror story over at The Broken Laptop, the blog of Mercedes M. Yardley. 'A Krampus Christmas' was written by her writing group pal Ryan Bridger and its about the chappy that deals with the kids on Santa's naughty list. I should warn you that it is for mature audiences only and not for the faint of heart...

I have lived here long enough now to get the fact that Christmas here has traditionally been about the family gatherings. The meals, the singing, the dancing. Many traditions are fading away over time due partially to the fact that so many here have to leave to find work and also from outside influences from the rest of Canada and the United States.

I recently discovered a local Celtic group with a couple of CD's out. The Navigators are regulars on the Sunday morning radio show and are quickly gaining a large audience. This link will take you to the song lyrics for 'Days Gone By' where the lead singer Fred Jorgensen tells of those family gatherings. The link here also allows you to play the song (you can listen to all of the songs from both albums at their website here) and you can also link to the YouTube video of the performance of this song from their CD release party. Take a few minutes to give them a listen. Fred's voice is nothing like you've ever heard before.

One old tradition that is difficult to find here now is mummering. This tradition of dressing in costumes or wearing masks and going door-to-door dates back to the earliest English and Irish settlers in Newfoundland. Often men would dress as women and women as men and they would sing and dance and play instruments in the homes that welcomed them in. The practice was banned in 1861 because on increasing instances of violence. There is a yearly mummers parade in St. John's and you can link here to YouTube footage of the festival and a CBC story on the practice can be read here. I stumbled across another link with a bit of background on mummering or 'jannying' in Newfoundland here.

Wherever and however you celebrated your Christmas, I hope it was happy and memorable. Best wishes from the Davidsons to you and your families this holiday season.

Photo from 'These Hands Upholstery and Design'

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Baby Solution

Now, it's not what you think. We're not having another youngster as a solution to anything...

The insanity is at hand...can't breath...can't think...the walls are closing in.

It must be almost Christmas time! Or else I'm about to get married again. Har! Just kidding, of course (I say this because V might read this post.

I went in search of YouTube humour to help stop the insanity. It came to me in the form of the E*Trade babies. Cool little commercials. You must have seen them on TV at some point in time, unless you've been living under a rock. I have selected a few that didn't seem familiar to me. I've noticed that alternatives to ones on TV get posted on YouTube as well. I'm not plugging this company. I said that when I last posted about a product here on my blog in October of 2009. Robert Carlyle in a commercial  called 'The Man Who Walked Around the World' for Johnnie Walker Whisky. I got a kick out of the commercial because they used subtitles as Carlyle was talking. I've never thought his accent was that thick.

OK, back to the babies. This time, I'm not plugging E*Trade...

I thought this 'Solitary' video was funny because it differed a bit from the one shown on TV. The baby flying fist class was one I had never seen before. 'Un-Broke' where the baby is interviewed by ABC is cute because his little pal is smitten with the interviewer. The clip where he's trying to explain to his girlfriend why he didn't call was really good as well. Again, I don't recall seeing that one on TV. And finally, there was a clip with 'Outtakes' from 2010 that are well worth a view.

Hope that one or more of those bad boys takes your mind off the insanity for a while. Only 2 shopping days left...remember, the Walmart near you is probably open 24 hours by now and the drugstore on Christmas eve is always a way to get things done (not that I advocate that, of course...)

Friday, December 17, 2010

#fridayflash~In God We Trust

In God We Trust

We departed Rawalpindi early that cool morning, driving towards Murree in the north-eastern corner of Pakistan. The hills and valleys of the single-lane highway snaked through the western Himalayan foothills and made for slow progress. A pall of smoke hung over one region—the result of burning to cover up the large-scale timber theft occurring in these temperate forests.

We arrived in Murree at noon and went our separate ways seeking adventures within the busy mountain village. Christmas was only a week away and I wanted to find unique gifts for my travelling companions. And a decent cup of coffee.

The local market was packed with vendors selling a wide range of goods. They waved to me, calling me to drink their chai or perhaps sample a falafel. Booths selling fine fabrics were next to others peddling questionable looking vegetables. I peeked through the grimy glass of one shop window. Cheap trinkets and plastic prayer beads were proudly displayed on a dusty cloth; not a single thing I would want to give to my friends as Christmas presents.

Most of the men wore round pakol hats and had shawls wrapped around themselves to fend off the lingering morning chill. They wandered through the market, hands clasped behind their backs, thoughtfully examining the goods for sale. Occasionally there was shouting as they haggled over price. The few women in sight had their heads covered with hijab but the more traditional wore the body covering burkha.

Several children ran to me with dirty hands extended. “Baksheesh, Baba,” they shouted in unison, pantomiming eating by pinching the air and drawing their fingers to their mouths. As I had done in many countries previously, I ignored the beggars and continued my trek down the busy street.

The cluttered commercial district eventually evolved into haphazardly stacked tenement-style buildings. A man leaned over a balcony rail and eyed me suspiciously while smoking his cigarette. I proceeded down a hill and stopped at a school whose courtyard was about 20 feet below me. Orderly rows of children, dressed smartly in their blue uniforms, stood at attention. They began to sing melodically and march in unison. Their song, presumably, was in Urdu but every so often the word ‘Pakistan’ rang out and I assumed it was their national anthem.

“Sahib.” The soft voice came from behind me, accompanied by a gentle tug on the arm of my Columbia jacket. I spun around to find an old man looking up at me expectantly. A wool shawl was draped over his narrow shoulders and his ears stuck out from the red checked scarf that covered his head. His almond eyes were sunken into his face; his cheeks and forehead had deep wrinkles that reminded me of folding, geologic strata. Most noticeable, though, was that he carried a large sack of belongings over his shoulder and the bottom of his grey beard looked like it had been dipped in red henna.

“Baksheesh, Sahib,” he repeated and pantomimed the eating gesture the children had demonstrated earlier.

“Sorry, pal,” I said, shaking of my head. “I don’t give money to beggars.” I turned and began to walk away.

“Allah.” He said softly, his voice breaking. I stopped. I slowly walked back to the old man and dropped a few rupee coins into his outstretched hand. He smiled at me, exposing his tooth. I quickly turned and made my way back to the market in search of my gifts.

I've often wondered if the old man was pleading to God—or if he was calling to me.

* Note: Photo credit to J.E. Kirkebo

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Gift of Horror for Christmas

Is your significant other into horror? Then the release of 52 Stitches (Volume 2) should be of interest to you. This newly released collection of horror stories from Aaron Polson and the folks at Strange Publications is described at Amazon as:

"...quick, dark and sometimes mean. You'll find black humor here. Zombies. Killer Angels. Maybe a vampire or two. But there are other, less common, horrors at work. Even a few subtle, unsettling tales which stretch far beyond their few pages. Each story can be read in a few minutes, but will haunt you for much longer."

Man, if that doesn't scream Christmas, I don't know what does...

Lurking within its depths is my story "Thor's Hammer," an innocent coming-of-age story of three children in a small New Hampshire town. Ok, maybe its a bit darker than that...

You can link to 52 Stitches (Volume 2) at Amazon here. I encourage you to drop by and buy a copy. As you may have heard, the profits from the sale of this anthology go to Jamie Eyberg's memorial fund put in place for his children.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Speaking in Foreign Tongues

"It's a braw, bricht moonlit nicht."

Just thought it would be relevant to start off this post with a line from a song called "Wee Deoch and Doris", a song written by Scottish entertainer Sir Harry Lauder. Its translation? It's a beautiful, bright moonlit night (more or less). The Queen's English (or King's English, in Sir Harry's era) can be a wonderful thing when you put a wee Scottish spin on it. Also somewhat entertaining as I've noticed that the Scottish accent is used quite a bit for comedic advertising.

A couple of people mentioned that they liked the use of my dad's Scottish accent in a post from a few days ago. Funny thing is...I don't hear an accent when my parents talk. I suppose any child with parents who speak with an accent will tell you that after so many years of hearing that accent you no longer perceive it when they talk. When I was a child I would occasionally bring friends over after school. They would listen to my parents, smiling and nodding in response to what was being said to them. Later, my friends would ask me what it was they were saying.

I'd like to think that whenever I use a Scottish accent in my writing it's fairly accurate. So my knowledge of the accent comes from listening to them. And, of course, from listening to that great Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. I'll attach a link to a 7 min. video here, but it's 18+ for mature subject matter and more than a few 'sweary words.' My Auntie Pat back in Scotland used to mail me out the annual 'Broons' or 'Oor Wullie' at Christmas. These were compilations of the comics carried in the Sunday Post newspaper each week. I have included a Christmas themed comic of the Broons from 1993. It won't be easy to read and I'm hoping that you can click on the picture to enlarge it. It will give you a good example of the Scottish speech written as it is spoken.

*Crap* f*%$ing technology. I tried clicking on the comic strip after posting and it won't enlarge. Story of my life. If anyone desperately wants to read the Broons comic email me and I'll send you the one that I scanned.

My creative writing instructor, Ed Kavanagh always told us that we should be careful when using local dialects in writing. It's often best to not even attempt it unless you do it well. Below is a short excerpt from his novel "The Confessions of Nipper Mooney" published by Killick Press in 2001. I think it gives a flavour of the Newfoundland accent without being over the top.

"How you findin' the teachers?"

"Okay, I s'pose."

"Well, I'd watch them, too--especially the Brothers. A couple of the fellas I works with on the dockyard went to school with the Brothers. They told me all about 'em. Some of the friggers sounds like real nut cases." He glanced at Nipper. "Want my advice?"


"Blend in," Bobby said. "Don't go doin' nothin' to draw attention to yourself. Then the Townies will leave you alone. And the Brothers, well, as long as you don't piss 'em off, they probably won't look twice--unless you comes from some rich la-di-da family. Or unless you're right smart--you know, winning scholarships and stuff like that. That's what the fellas I works with said, anyway."

"No need to worry about that," Nipper said.

What's your thoughts on using accents in dialogue? Do you try it very often? Are you confident in using a certain accent or dialect? Enquiring minds want to know...

I'll finish here with links to a couple of articles I stumbled across. The Use of Foreign phrases in Creative Writing by Laurence O'Sullivan and How to Write Dialogue with a Foreign Accent by Polina Skibinskaya both seem to have useful information.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Poppin' the Happy Pill

No. Alan has not turned to pharmaceuticals to help him get through his day. I'll get to the 'Happy Pill' business in a minute.

It was another amazing day here on The Rock. It maxxed out at about 10C (50F) or so and was sunny for much of the day. Hard to believe that Christmas is only 17 days away. Guess I should start shopping. And decorating. And whatever else the season requires. The photo to the side is from the steps of the Confederation Building (our provincial House of Assembly) looking towards the harbour. It was taken two days ago and, as you can see, there was a bit of fog but not a flake of snow. I am knocking on wood so as not to jinx this unseasonable phenomenon.

The news on the television tonight showed people golfing at the local golf club. They promise the course will stay open until the snow flies. This was in sharp contrast to footage from Florida that showed children going to school in winter coats, toques (Tooks?) and mittens. Apparently some regions of the state are under frost warnings and are worried about their citrus crops. Quite a role-reversal indeed.

Speaking of Florida...the lovely Laura Eno, one of my longest online pals, passed along a new award to me. It is called the 'Happy Pill' award and was recently created by Lydia Kang. My last post, regarding my stupid unfortunate hand injuries over the years, had her thinking that I could surely benefit from the Happy Pill because I sure is a mess! Can't hurt, might help...and I thank Laura kindly for the award. She didn't specify that I have to do anything special, such as divining the future or eating Naga Viper peppers, so I assume I can smile and pass it along to another person without the usual revelation of personal information. guys already know everything about me. Right?

For those of you out of the loop, Laura is one of the most productive people in the #fridayflash crowd and she's the author of Prophecy Moon and Don't Fall Asleep: A Dream Assassin Novel. Drop by her blog, A Shift in Dimensions and say hello. Perhaps lend her some warm clothes, or buy her a hot chocolate even. I understand the cold is making her snake, Jezebel, is a bit sluggish so bring a warm rat with you.
Without further ado, I bestow this fine Pill of Happiness on the hilarious Kathryn at From the Inside...Out because when I leave her blog it's always with a smile (and after reading about some of HER situations I'm feeling a lot better about MYself).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yesterday, I Stapled my Finger

Pretty catchy title, eh? Figured that some people would just click over here to see what the heck that was all about. I didn't make it up. Honest. I in fact stapled the pad of my index finger while stapling the December page of my desk calendar on my blotter. I accidentally ripped it off while ripping off November's page and had my fingers behind the cardboard for support while stapling and then... The photo to the left is not me BTW. The puncturing of my finger brought back a flood of childhood memories of stupid things I've done to my hands...

  • I was about 8 or 9 and I was playing guessed it, a stapler. My mum told me to quit playing with it (umm...the stapler) or she'd beat the living bejeezus out of me I'd hurt myself. I of course ignored her and ended up ramming a staple, full depth, into the fleshy part of the palm of my hand under my thumb. I couldn't whine about it go to her to ask for help because that would obviously admit stupidity on my part, so I pried it out of my hand with something sharp (obviously not my intellect).

  • Around the same time I was playing the back yard while my dad was working on our fence. I was farting about with his tools and was jabbing a chunk of wood with a particularly cool looking chisel with a clear handle. He said, "That's really sharp, put that doon ye daft wee bugger!" I of course ignored him and kept playing with the chisel...until it slipped and cut the palm of my hand. He may have said, "I told you away and see your mother."

  • I was about 10 years old and had the chore of making the evening cup of tea for my parents and bringing it to them while they watched TV. Heck, that was so long ago television may even have been in B&W (that's black and white, or uncoloured, for you youngsters). Anyway, I boiled the kettle and was pouring it into the teapot and for whatever reason stopped paying attention and poured the boiling water on the top of my left hand above the thumb. It was sure red and swollen and eventually fluid built up into a big bubble and when it was ready to pop...sorry, a bit graphic. Hope nobody was eating their sausage rolls or beef wellingtons while reading that.

  • I was bit in the left thumb while trying to catch a rabid cat in a former career as a short order cook a dog catcher. Except I wasn't a kid when that happened.

  • I was sitting on the floor at my parent's house and was writing something on a bit of paper with a pencil (yes, it was pre-computer days) when I tried to toss the pencil up onto a table, eraser first, and the eraser jambed into the edge of the table and the palm of my hand rammed into the sharpened tip of the pencil. The graphite mark stayed in the palm of my hand for months. Note: I was about 25 years old at the time. Sigh.

  • The first and only time I joined a group of friends playing 'flag football' in the snow I tried to catch a pass and the ball snapped my left thumb back. It really hurt, but the pain my have been numbed by the cold (and alcohol). The next day my thumb had swollen to the size of an Octoberfest sausage and I went to the emergency. I apparently had a 'flake fracture' of the left thumb and they bent up a special splint out of fibreglass so that I could keep working as a draftsman with my drafting machine. Yes, that would be the mid-80's prior to the glory days of AutoCad.

*Sniffs* The memories bring a tear to my eye. Such fond memories. I stayed out of trouble in my 30's by coccooning myself completely in bubble wrap. When possible, I try to have V or Sean use the power tools about the house on my behalf while I drink beer and watch TV cower in fear in the basement.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Political Humour: Canadian Style

Just a quick post to link you to a sketch from the fine people at This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a CBC comedy show that has run in Canada for years. It's been very popular in this province as the shows creator, Mary Walsh, and most of the cast are from Newfoundland and Labrador.

The sketch from last night's show has a distressed 22 Minute regular Mark Critch confronting premier Danny Williams about his resignation from office effective this Friday. Mark has been impersonating the premier on the show for years and figures he will now be out of a job. The two men go to see 'The Codfather', as played by Gordon Pinsent, to resolve the situation. I'm thinking that you don't have to be Canadian to appreciate the humour (and accents) of the men in this skit. Watch for a small cameo by a couple of men from another popular CBC show near the end of the skit (I won't say who they are as it will spoil the surprise. Then again...probably only Canadians well get the joke...) Nobody can say that Danny Williams doesn't have a sense of humour.

As per usual, my total lack of technological knowledge leaves me baffled and I will take the easy way out and rather than trying to embed the sucker I will post a link to the YouTube video here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Parade Means Christmas

We, and about half the population of this city, had a pretty good time at the St. John's Santa Claus Parade yesterday afternoon. Sean's cadet corp were again marching, wearing santa hats and carrying candy canes instead of rifles. Now if only all military around the world would learn from their example it would be a peaceful Christmas.

It was a warmer than average 7C (44F) but threatening rain. The floats were pretty much the same as last year...Shriners driving about in crazy little cars, a cowboy and cowgirl on horseback, wee Shetland ponies and a float representing the John Howard Society and Her Majesties Penitentiary with large boxes on top with children standing inside those boxes (honestly, I haven't figured that one out yet). There were various dog groups...the SPCA were there as was the Beagle group, the Greyhound rescue group and a bunch of wiener dogs with their sweater-clad bellies inches from the wet ground. All of this sets off alarms for me that the holiday season is finally here (not in September, as Costco or Walmart would have you believe) and I've got to start shopping for gifts and getting the place looking Christmassy.

Speaking of Christmassy things...I shall now link you to Listen to the Voices, the blog of Erin Cole who, along with Jodi MacArthur, are soon putting out a holiday catalogue for writers to pimp their wares promote their stories, novels, etc. Remember...Christmas is on the way and why fret about what to get for people. Give the gift of books...Despite the Nov. 28 deadline on her blog, I have heard rumour (via a little bird) that she will accept your story information (ie. photo, link, short written pimpage) for the next couple of days. So drop by her blog for information on how to get into the catalogue.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Wish I had a Turkey

I have heard tell of rumours saying that I had perished. All lies. I checked my pulse when I got up this morning and apparently my heart still beats. For a while, I hope. I have not fallen off the edge of the world either. If you subscribe to that train of thought. I have only arose from my premature hibernation state to wish my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving day. My concession to this was having stuffing foisted upon me enjoying a little Stovetop stuffing with my pork chop. You know, the kind you get from a box. Sawdust 'n Spice.

Why haven't I blogged lately? Well, I think that my humourous idea well has run dry. Or my funny bone is broken. Or something like that. I haven't run across many blog worthy topics of late and to be honest, I've been bogged down with work and a deadline for my current WIP (tomorrow) that I haven't had a lot of time to do much thinking. What am I saying? Not thinking...that's a good thing, isn't it?

We had something newsworthy happen here on 'The Rock'. Our premier Danny Williams tendered his resignation this morning (CBC story here). Apparently next Friday is his last day on the job and he plans to get out of the game while he's on top...he quoted the great Orson Welles on this...

"Orson Welles once said that if you want a happy ending, you need to know when to end your story. So I've called you here today to announce the end of my story as a ninth premier of Newfoundland and Labrador."

Danny Williams has plenty of friends in these parts and probably equally as many enemies. Love him or hate him, one has to admit that he may have been our most productive and controversial leader since our first premier, Joseph Smallwood, who brought Newfoundland into Confederation with Canada in 1949.

I think it's time for me to crawl back into my lair now. I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

* Photo Credit: LaCour Photographer

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cuffer II, Now Launched

It was about three weeks ago I received an email inviting me to a book launch for an anthology of Newfoundland stories. These stories were a by-product of a contest run by the local newspaper, The Telegram, about 16 months ago. Yes, July of 2009. There were apparently over 200 entries and last November the top three winners were announced, the cheques were presented and that was the last I heard of the matter.

Anyhow, the email invited me to last night's launch as my story 'The Inscription' had been selected from the losers non-winners to be part of the Cuffer Anthology II. This was fantastic news as I had pretty much written off the story and was considering where else it could be submitted. The story was originally written for one of my night school classes at the university and was submitted elsewhere a couple of times. Those of you who have followed my blog since its messy beginnings may recall this post from June of 2009 where I talk about the birth and rebirth of this story and of another I ended up posting as my first #fridayflash.

For a long time I pondered who to wear what to wear to the book launch as I have never attended such a function before. I don't own a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows, but did, for a moment consider black pants and black shirt for their slimming effect. I ultimately decided against this ensemble as I didn't want to appear to be ripping off Johnny Cash's style.

The event was really for two reasons. First, to launch this anthology of stories with a Newfoundland flavour and second, to announce the winners from the short list for next year's anthology (which, regretfully, I did not enter). I received my complimentary copy which I will, of course, give to my mother...and I purchased another copy and a copy of last years anthology for myself.


I have now started a 'collection' (shades of that Cabbage Patch fiasco from years ago) and I will have to continue to purchase one every year and place them all next to the 21 movie James Bond DVD collection on the family room bookshelf.

If anyone wants a sampling of Newfoundland Flash fiction, you can purchase a copy of the Cuffer Anthology, volume II from Creative Book Publishing or from (though when I last looked they did not have any in stock). There are 34 short stories (1200 word limit) in the book: literary fiction, science fiction, humour and horror. This anthology has it all. The winning entry was 'Holes to China' by Chad Pelley of Salty Ink. His story is about a boy who spends a week digging a hole in his backyard as a means of coping with the fact his father is dying of cancer.

And if that's not enough to pique your curiosity, then perhaps the fact that a wonderful tale called 'Fledgling' by our own #fridayflash regular Laurita Miller of Brain Droppings also made the cut and is included in this anthology. Needless to say we are both quite chuffed to have made the ToC. Our stories were submitted before either of us knew of the other's existence.

A word of warning, though...both Laurita and I strayed from our horror comfort zones and got literary with our small-town tales. The Cuffer prize has proven a great way to promote writing within our province and some of the proceeds from the sale of the anthology goes to Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Loathsome, Dark and Deep

As writers, we spend a lot of time reading other people's stories and attending their blogs. There is a lot of talent floating about out in cyberspace, but every so often you run across someone who stands out from the masses. A person who writes at such a level, about such subject matter, that you have to read everything they produce. I have long thought that Aaron Polson falls into this category. I obviously wasn't the only one...the talented Cate Gardner started the Aaron Polson fan club about the same time.

It was about a year ago that Aaron Polson started to post excerpts from his novel Loathsome, Dark & Deep at his blog as part of his regular WIP Wednesday feature. He described Loathsome as "...a weird, steampunkish romp through the Pacific Northwest in the 1880s, haunted by selfish men and monsters." It was those story snippets that won me over and I knew I would buy this book when it was eventually published. That day is coming soon...check out this trailer for Loathsome, Dark & Deep--Aaron Polson's first novel...

Still unconvinced? Drop by Belfire Press to read an excerpt from the novel. You can also pre-order a copy of the book from there.

Take a moment to drop by Aaron Polson's blog where he is currently running a contest to help promote Loathsome, Dark & Deep.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Guy Things and Remembrance

My wife is away in Montreal on a work conference for 3 days. I drove her to the airport at 4:45am yesterday morning. Luckily it was a day off for Remembrance Day so I could be relatively dozy for the rest of the day and not worry about work. My dad has been visiting for a couple of days while my mother has been out in British Columbia. As Cathy Webster stated in an email to me, "Guy Paradise!...eating greasy food, not putting the toilet seat down, just guys sitting about in their underwear...scratching stuff." Well said, Mrs. Webster. It's as if you were peeking through our window.

I should clarify...I was supposed to be working yesterday but booked it off. Remembrance Day is not a national holiday here in Canada and many people have to work. Many employers in Newfoundland give the day off as the roots of folk here run deep with military service in the First and Second Great wars. Many Newfoundlanders were lost.

As usual, Sean's sea cadet corp gathered in the village of Torbay just outside St. John's to help remember those lost in service of this great country. Sean was especially thrilled to be asked by his commanding officer to be one of two cenotaph guards during the ceremony. I'm sure you all recall seeing the men and women who would stand at the 4 corners of the monument in a solemn pose--hands resting on the stalk of the rifle with the end of the barrel balancing on the toe of the left boot. In the case of the Torbay cenotaph it's only two guards as the monument is very small with a hill behind it. Sean donning his spats and white belt with brass buckle managed to keep the pose for the 50 minute ceremony. His attention span is normally very short and I'm very proud of him for keeping focus and maintaining the solemn pose. I managed to take three photos of him with his camera before the battery died. Since V is away, and I am a technological moron, I made do with a pirated image from the web (see above) of an unknown cadet standing guard at a cenotaph. It's a fairly accurate representation of what Sean was doing.

The cadets were then treated to a hot dog lunch and many of them will be taken to the 4 Nations Cup women's hockey bronze medal game tomorrow afternoon. How Canadian is that! Well, it's very Canadian aside from the fact that it's Finland vs. Sweden. But it will still be a good game to be sure.

I hope you all had a fine Remembrance/Veterans Day yesterday and gave thought to the men and women who have given their lives in service of their countries. I did not have any relatives die in the wars. My grandfather was a career army man and served with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders (2nd battalion) and served for many years in Jamaica, China, India, Palestine, and north Africa. His son, my uncle John, was a tail gunner on Lancaster bombers and was fortunate to have survived the war.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Yays & Boos for Newfoundland

I had intended on posting about the recent CBC story about the Canada Reads competition but Laurita Miller beat me to the punch at Brain Droppings. She even had some good information about the upcoming Giller Prize. The Canada Reads long list of 40 has been voted on by the public and the top 10 results will be revealed tomorrow. Interestingly, the linked story notes that although Newfoundland and Labrador has only 1/60th of Canada's population it had 4 books in the top 40 or 1/10th.

  • Galore by Michael Crummey

  • Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

  • Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey

  • February by Lisa Moore

Also in the 'Yay for Newfoundland' category...National Geographic Traveler magazine recently posted their annual scorecard for 99 Coastal Destinations around the world. And guess who came out on top...yep, Newfoundland and Labrador. Specifically right here on the Avalon Peninsula. It managed to edge out the Pembroke Coast of Wales and Tutukaka Coast of New Zealand. So everyone mark the lovely Newfoundland and Labrador coast on your calendars for future holiday destinations (I think I missed my calling as a travel agent).

OK that was the good. Now for the bad and ugly...I think that the warm temps we've had here the past few days has softened some peoples brains *Checks calendar to see if it was a full moon* The CBC has also run a number of stories of bizarre incidents in and around the St. John's area. Feel free to link to the stories for more information. Or not.

  • Within a week, three cars were stolen and set on fire in the same park. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with Friday's 'Guy Fawkes Night' --Note: if you don't know what that is, please refer to my #fridayflash story Burning the Guy posted last Friday.

  • A Royal Newfoundland constabulary officer pulled over for impaired driving.

  • Man arrested for emailing bomb threat to a Grand Falls-Windsor hotel.

  • Court case continues for man who bit off part of a bartenders ear in a pub.

  • Man sentenced to two years for Conception Bay home invasion.

  • Old woman drives car into front of St. John's coffee shop (photo below).

  • Young man pleads guilty in home-care beating...this one takes a bit of explanation as the 29 year old man beat and robbed an 89 year old man with the assistance of his 67 year old girlfriend who was the old man's home care worker. I'm sure that the young guy will be on the wrong side of a beating himself when he gets behind the big, grey walls of Her Majesties Penitentiary. Did I say...his 67 year old girlfriend already? It appears love is indeed blind. And perhaps a teensy bit desperate as well...

Umm...but you know, aside from all that insanity...the Avalon Peninsula is still a cool place to live.

Friday, November 5, 2010

#fridayflash~Burning the Guy

Burning the Guy

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The orange flames writhed like a beast trapped in a hellish dimension. The fiery wood pile shifted slightly, sending sparks upwards with the thick smoke.

Most of the villagers gathered near the waters edge to enjoy the annual Bonfire Night. It had been a community tradition along the bay for generations and Cassandra King couldn’t even remember what it was meant to celebrate.

Smaller children, their faces aglow, chased one another about the fire. The older youths clustered together in small groups at the perimeter of the gathering; their hoods were pulled up, leaning into one another occasionally for quiet conversation.

Cassandra zipped her jacket up to the neck and sipped her rum and Coke; its ice had long since melted but she enjoyed the drink just the same. She stared at the flames. Entranced. She didn’t feel very social and was content to sit on her plastic chair behind most of the revelers. Besides, she was fully aware that much of the swirling mist was caused by burning plastics, rubber and God-knows-what from items tossed on the pile the past few days.

“Penny for the guy?” asked young Lizzy Bishop, drawing Cassandra from her thoughts. She smiled and placed a quarter in the girl’s outstretched palm. “Thanks!” she said and ran towards the old man tending the fire.

Mr. Donovan was crouched down, his leathery face pinched in concentration, poking at the sand with a long stick. The old man unearthed the foil-wrapped potatoes that had been baking; he took the coins from the waiting youngsters and handed each a potato. The children ran off tossing the hot potato back and forth between their hands.

Old wood and sundry garbage items had been getting dumped at the site for a week. Building lumber, palates, crates, tables with chipped paint and broken chairs had been stacked in a pile that was now over 15 feet high. The hungry flames consumed the village discards. They danced in the darkness and licked at the night sky. The crowd began to chant:

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot…

Words the community had chanted for generations. Cassandra didn’t know the meaning of the words but she knew that they would never find Tom’s remains.

That treasonous bastard.

The entire operation had been devilishly simple. Her husband had emptied out their bank account and was at home packing his bags. Tom was going to drive to the city to pick up his mistress and then head to Vegas. At least that’s what the text messages she had read implied.

Cassandra had emerged from her hiding place in the closet and clubbed him over the head with his aluminum baseball bat. She removed the wad of cash from his pocket, stuffed him in his hockey bag and rolled him to the beach on a dolly in the wee hours. It was easy enough to drag the bag across the sand and remove the small pile of wood and place him in the shallow pit at the bottom. She restacked the wood and added a few bits of her own. She had reported him missing the next day but the police quickly concluded, due to his Blackberry messages and the missing money, that he had fled his marriage.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot…

The crowd shouted and cheered as Mr. Donovan held the straw-filled clothing aloft. It was an effigy to some long dead traitor in a faraway land. Cassandra’s poppy had told her the story when she was a little girl but she no longer remembered the reason for the bonfire. Mr. Donovan tossed the limp rags onto the orange flames. Cassandra jumped to her feet and cheered with the community as the fire raged on.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hello November

Happy November to all. We appear to have survived Halloween relatively unscathed. There was no toilet paper in the bushes out front, no eggs thrown at the house and not a single flaming bag of dog crap was left on the doorstep. I think that speaks volumes to my improving relationship with the neighbourhood kids.

Sean stayed home again this year to dole out candy at the door and frighten the wee ones. I might add that he wasn't wearing a costume. I took advantage of this and posed for a few photos in Sean's leprechaun hat and bow tie (see scary photos below).

The custome may be used again next St. Patrick's Day. For good luck. Speaking of luck..

(nice segue, heh) ...lots of luck to all that have started the NaNoWriMo insanity for this year. I decided some time ago that I just wasn't brave enough to try again this year. Last year I had an idea but it wasn't really plotted out. Between the working hours and the NaNo business I didn't see much of my family for the month and barely scraped through at the end. I did learn a few things, though, and would highly encourage anyone with a storyline in mind to jump to it and get writing. It's only day 2 of 30, after all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

#fridayflash~The Final Conversation

The Final Conversation

The man with no neck unceremoniously escorted Peter Rose from the Barking Spider pub. The bouncer had him by a fistful of his long, blonde hair and threw him out into the wet lane. Peter addressed him, and the other night owls on James Street, with all the dignity he could muster. “Why the frig do I have to go. The night’s still young!” The door was slammed shut and locked behind him.

The young man struggled to his feet and wobbled passed similar drinking establishments that lined both sides of the pedestrian walkway. He was not alone. Several other rubber men shouted and staggered along the cobblestones, headed towards the taxis waiting on Water Street. Peter rummaged through his pockets and discovered that he didn’t have enough money for a cab home.

He shuffled along the empty streets towards the eastern edge of downtown. He stopped several times to catch his breath and once to urinate. While peeing, he splashed on a prickly weed that reminded him of the Christmas cactus his ex-girlfriend has. Or had. Doris threw him out a week ago after their fight. She had been bitching at him about his drinking when he slapped her. She fell and knocked over the cactus that sat on the end table. The last he saw of Doris she was on her hands and knees, blood dripping from her swollen lips, trying to scoop up the plant and the soil scattered across the floor.

Peter continued to the cemetery but found its wrought iron gates locked. He had to go through the grave yard; the short cut would cut 20 minutes off the walking time to his parent’s house. He followed the fence until he found a chain-link section and climbed up. As he reached the top and pulled himself over, the ragged ends of wire pierced the palms of his hands. Peter cursed but continued over the fence and fell heavily to the ground. He pulled wads of dirty tissues from his pocket and pinched them into the wounds with his grimy fingers.

Peter staggered down the path that wound through the ancient cemetery. It was crumbling and heaving in places and he occasionally tripped over the deeper cracks that ruptured the asphalt. The uncut grass along the edges was blanketed by brown and orange leaves curled up into small fists. A slight breeze had them gently whispering.

The full moon cast enough light on the monuments to allow him to glance at the family names as he staggered along: Webster, Miller, Schindler to his left…Gardner, Barber, Venutolo to his right. All familiar names of people he had gone to school with, worked with, and partied with.

Peter proceeded up the hill towards the far end of the cemetery that backed on to his parent’s subdivision. The graves here were at right angles to the sloping path and had small foundation walls. Near the top there were several concrete vaults protruding above the ground.

He noticed that one of the vaults had a sizable crack in the wall exposing a thick, rusty reinforcing rod. While looking at this, Peter tripped over a root poking from the path. He tried to keep his balance but staggered to his right, fell forward and cracked his head off the corner of the adjacent vault. He tried to pull himself up with a bloody hand but lost consciousness.

Peter awoke. He could not tell how long he had been sleeping, but he felt damp as a result of the light fog that had settled upon the cemetery. He crawled into a sitting position next to the vault but felt too dizzy to stand. He noticed a balled-up tissue and his bloody handprint near the top of the vault.

A small port hole cover on the side of the vault hung open. Peter leaned over and peered inside. “Hello in there!” he shouted. His voice echoed.

“Sir. You are blocking my view.”

Peter gasped and scrambled away from the small opening, sending small gravel chips scattering. “Who the hell was that? Are you inside that thing?” he asked.

“Of course I am in here. Where else could I exist?”, replied the baritone voice with more than a hint of mirth.

“Jeez! I’m so hammered…I can hear dead people.”

“You have imbibed a great deal this evening, sir, but I am not a product of your imagination.”

Peter liked the smooth, foreign sound of the voice. He leaned towards the opening and glimpsed a pair of silvery eyes staring back at him. A warm blast of air hit him in the face and the stench of human decay made him vomit the beer he had consumed that evening.

“What is the port hole for? To let out evil smells?” he said, once his retching had subsided.

“That’s open to debate, I suppose. These oculi, or as you say—port holes, are symbolic of the ones placed in the protective marble wall that allowed pilgrims to view the sepulcher of Jesus.”

“No shit…”

“Well said, sir. The more romantic simply believe the opening allows the souls of the departed to come and go from their resting place as they please.”

“Sounds like a pile of crap to me,” Peter said.

“I see…the part about the romance or about the souls of the departed?”

“Both,” he replied and then snorted and spat a bloody wad of spit on the concrete wall of the burial vault.

“That is unfortunate. Though your answer to my question would not have changed the outcome of this evening.”

“Oh? What outcome is that?”

“Didn’t you ever go to church, sir? Evil begets evil. You’ve proven your worthiness and I think that it’s time you joined us.”

“What the f—“. Peter didn’t get to finish. A filament of mist spiraled from the oculi and wrapped itself about his neck, quickly closing off his windpipe. The surrounding fog swirled about the trees and the headstones and then enveloped him.

Peter’s face was pulled hard against the opening. The grip on his throat was released but he now felt something trying to pry open his mouth. He clenched his jaw hard, but felt thin fingers make their way up his nostrils into his nasal cavity. He finally opened his mouth and the veins in his neck bulged as he screamed. The sound was lost, though, in the depths of the funeral vault.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A group of police officers stood around the dead body lying next to the burial vault. The cloudy eyes of the pale corpse stared up at the sun that now burned off the last of the fog. They drank coffee from paper cups and joked with one another while waiting for the arrival of the coroner. The man’s death appeared accidental but the detective in charge wondered what business the deceased had with the grave of Pierre LaRose, one of the city’s early French settlers that had died over 200 years ago.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A woman named Doris sat in her bright sitting room and sipped her morning coffee. She gasped in surprise when she noticed a single red flower now blooming on her recovering Christmas cactus.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Week (so far) in Point Form

  • Monday- Hit in face while playing basketball with the geezers. By a girl. This is my third year playing at the gym on the base and it's the first time that I've seen them invite a girl to play, in order to even up the numbers on each team. She and I were guards on the same side and she rifled a pass at me. Not a regular 60yr old man-pass. But a twenty-something 'I wish I was Nolan Ryan' fastball that clearly indicated she had missed her calling as a baseball pitcher. Luckily my face was angled slightly to the left or I would have surely had a broken nose. The swelling quickly subsided. The embarrassment lingered on.

  • Tuesday- The drafting Overlords at work began cracking the whip for my current job. It is a sizable chunk of steel and Friday marks month-end. Do it now! Grrrrr! Took Sean to cadet Halloween party (he was dressed as a 5'-8" leprechaun with a fez top hat, green bow tie and braces on his teeth).

  • Wednesday- My own WIP requires an ending. And editing. And scary parts. Many folks kindly commented on my last post that they are looking forward to my graveyard #fridayflash story. Must get cracking on this. The clock is friend Laurita Miller over at Brain Droppings announced that she had won the Canadian Blog Award in the Culture and Literature section. A big old Woot! to her and thanks to those of you who popped over and supported her by voting. Sadly my tux and once long, dark hair could not be on hand to see her collect her award. Though should she win a Giller Prize...

  • Thursday (last night)- I dreamed about my neighbour. In some situations that may be considered acceptable...except the guy is 55, retired, balding and overweight. A bit like Jason Alexander except that he can't sing or dance and he's not very funny. Is there something wrong with me? Would I benefit from seeing a professional about this?

(note to self: see if work benefit package covers psychotherapy).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Research: Isn't That Special

I found a bit of time over the weekend to work on my next #fridayflash story. I'm hoping that it will be done for this week as it takes place, partially, in a cemetery and would make a good pre-Halloween story.

I also found time to tour through a couple of cemeteries on Saturday for a bit of background research on this story. They were dead quiet with not a soul in either location. I know, I should be scolded by the church lady for that remark.

I have another WIP that is requiring a bit of online viewing of Catholic masses for a bit of background information. I know what ya'll are sayin'...why the hell heck doesn't Alan just attend a service or two for research purposes.

The fear of spontaneous human combustion, my friends.

My mother has a story she's fond of telling about me as a boy of about 6 or 7 years old...

My parents had me in mass, with my little suit on and the whole nine yards, and mum was getting tired of my fidgeting about and asked my dad to take me outside for the remainder of the service. We had just started walking up the aisle, my wee hand clasped in his, when I blurted out, "Please don't belt me daddy!" Needless to say I was hustled outside fairly quickly...and my memory is a bit fuzzy about what happened after that! Kids say the darnedest things...and just to clarify...the use of the word 'belt' is a British expression meaning 'to smack' as opposed to the actual use of a belt.

Anyhoo...while researching, I came across a funny video entitled Liturgical Abuses which is a bit of a misconception. It's not so much abuses as a series of faux pas during religious services. Click on that for a bit of a chuckle and try to ignore the annoying laugh track that goes with it. You can link to that here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ding, Ding...Voting, Round 2

First order of business is to help my friend Laurita Miller rally people together in support of her blog. As previously mentioned, she has been nominated for a Canadian Blog Award in the Culture and literature section. She came out of the first round with the highest number of votes. Woot! (and I'll have you know that I don't 'woot' very often...). Drop by her blog Brain Droppings and lend your support. She has made it very user friendly--simply click on which of the five contenders you wish to vote for (of course BRAIN DROPPINGS is at the top of the list, in extra large font, in hot pink and flashing intermittently...kidding).

In an effort to fend off my recent malaise, and the ghastly news stories about the disgraced Canadian air force colonel who was sentenced to 25 years for murdering two women, I went in search of mirth online. I found a link to a short video from the show "This Hour has 22 Minutes." The segment is of 80 year old Canadian (specifically a Newfoundlander) acting icon Gordon Pinsent reading from the 'memoirs' of 16 year old Canadian singer Justin Bieber. For those of you not of the Canadian persuasion, Pinsent was most recently starred in "Away From Her" and had a part in "The Shipping News." As my my son noted, it's not what Gordon says that is's the way he delivers his lines that is priceless.

Finally, a bit of animal mirth was sent to my wife by a friend of hers. Some of the photos below may have made the rounds on the internet but I will include them here. Just because. The zombie cat is my favourite.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Pimpage

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (1883 - 1931)

What better way to start off a post than with a friendship quote by Kahlil Gibran. I'd like to thank all who commented with their kind comments to my previous post regarding malaise, or ennui, as my friend KC Shaw better described it. And what better way to lift one's spirits than to pimp out the accomplishments of one's friends.

My friend and fellow islander Laurita Miller has had her blog Brain Droppings nominated for a Canadian Blog Award. I'm really excited for her and hope that all of you #fridayflash people (and those of you who aren't) who enjoy reading her work go to the website and cast you vote. She can be found in the Culture and Literature voting section. The catch is you need to do it by noon today the 17th of October (I'm assuming that's EST).

I would be extremely negligent if I didn't send a shout out to the talented Laura Eno (or as I prefer to her, Queen of Cyberspace Who is in All Places at All Times. She held a virtual book launch at her blog A Shift in Dimensions this work for her most recent work, Don't Fall Asleep, the first in a series of Dream Assassin Novels. I was a bit late in attending and all of the snacks had been scoffed up by the guests and Jezebel had nearly throttled two of the merry-makers. If by chance you have been living under a rock, or are just plain 'clued-out' like myself, it's not too late to throw your support her way.

And finally, I'd be really negligent if I didn't pimp a wee bit for my oldest internet friend Cate Gardner. Her book Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits, a collection of short stories, is now available at Strange Publications and at Check out a trailer for the trailer at her blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Little Malaise With That

I blinked, and then discovered a week had past. I've heard time passes faster the older we get, as if on some sort of a logarithmic curve. You know, one of those ghastly formulas that you've tried to forget about since school.

I've been searching for the proper word to describe the lethargy or apathy I'm feeling at the moment...decrepitude, angst, disquiet...none seem to fit and all are found in the online under a search of the word 'malaise'. For the moment I'll just refer to myself as a lazy sloth distracted.


1. a condition of general bodily weakness or discomfort, often marking the onset of a disease.
2. a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.

Number one has some merit as V has been run down with the cold for about 10 days. I don't have the runny nose or headache (yet) but I did cough once or twice this morning. Though a drink of water cleared that up, so perhaps it was just a spider or some such thing stuck in my throat. I was at the doctor's office on Tuesday for recent blood test results. He isn't pushing the the pills (yet) to help lower my cholesterol but the day is close at hand. Speaking of hand, I'm glad I wasn't threatened with the 'rubber glove' treatment either.

Number two also has merit. I'm feeling a bit of discomfort from basketball on Tuesday night with the geezers. The change of evening (Monday was Thanksgiving in Canada) threw us and only four people showed up. So it was 2 vs. 2 for an hour. That's a lot of running and falling down stopping and those 58-63 year old men put me to shame. Again. Perhaps that has played on my psyche.

I'm feeling somewhat unfocused in my writing. There's no hope of a #fridayflash happening again this week. And the well of ideas for blog posts has seemed to have dried up. I have a story half-complete that I would like to submit to this year's Arts & Letters Awards that is held each year by the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. This must be submitted by the end of November to be eligible. I'm pushing now to get this done by next week's writer's group meeting to get some feedback from the group. I can hear the whip cracking. For a long time I have had two different ideas for more 'long term' projects and I have set up files for these. As ideas pop into my head I jot them down on paper and toss them into the appropriate file. In the back of my mind I'm thinking that I may have to set aside short stories and perhaps even blogging for a while to devote some serious time to one of these projects. We'll the meantime, I hope this malaise or melancholy or j'en sais pas will pass and things get 'back to normal'. I can picture everyone reading this saying to themselves, "Normal? What the hell is that?" During my search of the word 'malaise' I ran across a website (there are actually a lot of similar sites) that sells malaise traps and stuff to put in them (pictured). I'd give that a shot, but I don't want to spend 174 British Pounds for the trap and associated gear and the wind here would just blow it away. I'll just use my trusty fly swatter for now...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Svikes! I've Been Tagged!

The hugely talented and always dapper Anthony Venutolo has called me out in a game of virtual tag. I apparently have to answer 8 questions about myself and single out a few others for the same treatment. Take a few moments to check out Ant’s blog, Bukowski’s Basement, for some writing heavily influenced by literary rogues like Buk, or Jack, or Tom, or…oh, and read a bit of entertainment news or listen to a few audio recordings of his stories and poems while you’re there. Pour a drink and read him for a while.

On to business…

  1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why? He, he, knee-jerk answer is that I'd love to have X-Ray vision (go on say are pigs). I think to have the ability to predict the future would be damned cool. To know what horse was going to win in the fifth race at Belmont would be a gift for sure. Solving all the woes of the world with my gift? Pfffth! Who needs the headaches. Look at every US President. After four years in office they're grayer than me. Now predicting the lotto...there's something useful!

  2. Who is your style icon? If this refers to writing, I don't think that mine shows a resemblance to the writers I admire. Let's just say that I'm still a work in progress. As far as my keen fashion sense...I used to wear a lot of flannel shirts (this is Canada, eh?) and my role model was the great Al Borland (pictured) from Tool Time. I found, though, that the plaid clashed with my fez and I have switched to T-shirts: solid grays, blacks and blues (I'm rather fond of blue shirts as they bring out the colour of my eyes...)

  3. What is your favourite quote? Geez, there's so many different ones to choose from. I've copied these from my Facebook page..."It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" -- Henry David Thoreau.....and "Wonder at the things around you for wonder is the beginning of wisdom" --Plato

  4. What is the best compliment you've ever received? When in my early 20's, I worked as a clerk in a mining office in downtown Vancouver. Gastown to be exact. I left the office to go to lunch with an office associate and we passed a certain 'lady of the streets' who turned and shouted at me, "Hey, nice ass!" least I assume she meant me and not the 60 year old guy I was with. I've had a swelled head ever since.

  5. What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now? Let me have a peek...Supertramp, Breakfast in America. I've also been listening to a lot of solo Lennon, solo George Harrison, Cat Stevens (pre-Islam) and Simon and Garfunkel. Those that follow this blog regularly know that I'm also fond of the Sunday morning radio show 'Homebrew' that highlights traditional Newfoundland music (for those interested, you can listen live on the internet K-Rock 97.5)

  6. Are you a night owl or a morning person? Twenty years ago I would have answered that I was a night owl. However, after 16 years of marriage and a kid I'd say that I'm really tired by 10pm (my doctor would blame a lot of other schtuff but what the heck does he know). Definitely more of an early morning person...after a coffee enema infusion.

  7. Do you prefer dogs or cats? It depends on the side dishes and available sauces...OK, seriously folks, those that read me here regularly know that I was an Animal Control Officer (dog catcher) in a former life. I've hardly ever been around cats and spent much of my childhood around fox terriers and shelties. We presently have a rescued greyhound whose favourite activies are eating and sleeping (a dog after my own heart).

  8. What is the meaning behind your blog name? That's fairly simple...Conversations From Land's Edge is meant as a forum to connect with others through conversation/comments in the areas of entertainment, education, humour and the like. Primarily it was a way to meet other writers, but a lot of wonderful non-writing folks have dropped by as well. The 'Land's Edge' refers to the fact that in a couple of different directions I am a few minutes away from the Atlantic on a large, windswept island.

I shall now 'tag' three others so we can annoy learn more about them...

Laurita Miller of Brain Droppings, Karen Schindler of Miscellaneous Yammering and KC Shaw of The Knotted Thicket can also consider themselves 'tagged'. I choose these ladies because they are all fine writers that display insightfullness and/or humour in their blogging. You go girls!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Royal Visit

I finally had the honour and privilege of meeting renowned #fridayflasher Cathy Olliffe Webster and her much publicized hubby Dave. I noted to him that there are probably more photos of him on the Internet than anyone else in the world, aside from Barack Obama. He disagreed, insisting that Lindsay Lohan and David Hasselhoff had more face-time than he. I had to concede the point.

I booked the day off Friday and drove them in a stretch limo my Dodge Caravan to the more popular places in the St. John's area: Cape Spear, Petty Harbour, Bay Bulls, Portugal Cove and Laurita Miller's place (yes, that Laurita Miller of Brain Droppings fame). For the 1st of October it was damn hot and humid here and my van was very toasty. And the A/C wasn't working. I normally would have driven about town wearing only my fez and a thong, but since it was my first time meeting the Websters I didn't want to give them a bad impression of Newfoundlanders. My fashion decorum was rewarded as Cathy & Dave presented Laurita and myself each with some lovely Lindgren pottery: A bowl and plate that were replicas of part of the dinnerware used at the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville this past summer. That was very sweet of them, V and I really love the pieces.

That evening, the Websters and Laurita (thanks, Laurita, for bringing along the spiced, red wine and the loaf of soda bread...they were great!) came to our place for a BBQ to help celebrate Cathy and Dave's wedding that had taken place six days earlier. We also invited Charles and Camilla but they graciously declined because of another engagement in India. Dinner was followed by cheesecake and writing gossip (wouldn't you #fridayflash folks like to have been a bug on the wall for that conversation).

For me, the cheesecake is always the highlight of any civilized gathering (sorry Cathy &'re nice folks 'n all, but you don't outrank the chocolate cheesecake with amaretto). I am only allowed the delicacy once a year, on my birthday, as it's loaded with stuff that's bad for me and it costs so f&%$ing much to make. This one was pretty much same as the cheesecake we usually take to the annual cheesecake party. For those really obsessed with cheesecake, you can link to that blog post here. Sometimes I fantasize about cheesecake...a darkened room, soft music, candles and a plastic sheet on the bed with me alone frolicking with my favourite, sorry, digressed there for a moment. Did I really say that? Apologies, only meant to think it.


But enough about me. The highlight of the weekend was the time spent with Cathy, Dave and Laurita on Friday. It was fantastic and I'll remember it for a long time. I'll post a few photos below, but you can link to a much better account of the day, and nicer photos, at Cathy's blog Life on the Muskoka River.

On a side note. I'm sure that at least one reader will be interested to know the outcome of the recent accidental husband-bear shooting incident court case that has been ongoing here in Newfoundland for almost three weeks now. The judge passed a verdict of 'not guilty' on the charge of criminal negligence causing death in the 2006 shooting of the Pennsylvania man. Justice LeBlanc noted that the Crown did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. You can link to the full CBC article here.

Cathy Webster at Cape Spear. Looking up the hillside, wondering why there are two light houses...

Dave returning from taking photos near water's edge (I caught Cathy glancing over their life insurance policy...specifically the 'rogue wave, sweeping loved-one to sea' clause).

No. Cathy hasn't had too much to drink. She is trying to line up Dave for a photo with a ship beyond so that it appears that it's sitting on his head. Nice.

Dave, just fussing lovingly with Cathy's hair. In the top right corner you can just make out 'the narrows'...the entrance to St. John's harbour.
Laurita, Cathy and myself. This is my favourite picture. I have my arms about two lovely women, so I can't explain why I'm not smiling. Perhaps I was thinking about cheesecake...