Friday, March 31, 2006
Brace yourself, Ethel. We’re getting down on our knees today.
Every now and again, I check out where my blog traffic is coming from. This week, I found myself on a Tesco search engine. Someone in Sweden dropped by after a google search for “head struck pavement” (shut up Stuart). Curiously, someone in Ontario got here after a search for “questions most likely asked in a safety job interview with the British Columbia.” I’m not even sure what that means, and I have no clue how it links to Sandrablabber.
Slightly more relevant was the hit from the Republic of Korea, after googling “made by oops.” Sounds about right.
Most notable? From South Africa:
“I am horney I want to be fucked without registering.”
Now, as I’ve already explained, I only fuck the registered. So something went awry with that google search.
I also discovered traffic from The Lipstick Chronicles. I was intrigued, so I went to check it out. Take a look for yourselves. Part of my post one day, about the husband getting a promised blow job, was referenced in the comments by Cornelia Read.
But it gets better. Read the post. Oh my. Oh oh… well, what can I say? I never tricked evilkev into marriage with spontaneous blow jobs in public places.
Now, Cornelia posed the question, “In the interest of fair play, what are the monuments that suggest interludes of reciprocity on the oral sex front? Grand Canyon?” And really, there was no answer.
So, what would be the monuments that would inspire a man to drop to his knees and, well, satisfy his woman?
Now, this blog is read by a lot of men, so I’ll be very disappointed if none of them toss out a thought or two. I can’t speak from personal experience, because I’m a prude. Growing up I thought there was one kind of sex: dirty. And I never saw the need to involve a woman in digital sex when a man’s arms are plenty long enough.
But for some reason, Cornelia, I’ve got the Irish Sea in my head, and I don’t know why…
Now, not only are we to think of what prompts spontaneous oral sex, but we must consider the new science. Yes, courtesy of Russel (via agent Phil) I am now up to speed on the new technique of predicting the future by feeling a woman’s mammaries. “The novel tells the story of Dr.Schwartzball, inventor of the science of mammarology. As a phrenologist tells the future by feeling heads so Schwartzball makes his predictions by feeling mammaries. From his Parisian chambers he achieves immense popularity amongst a select female clientel…”
Oh, yeah, I bet he’s popular. He’s had plenty of experience refining his technique.
Some guy comes up to me and wants to predict the future by feeling my mammaries, I can tell him what I see in the future without him doing a thing. It involves my foot impacting his crotch, and I hope I’m wearing something steel-toed for a change.
What would a Friday be without something to smile about?
So, whether you muster up the courage to discuss oral sex, or your insights on the mammalogist, whatever you do this weekend, I do have some advice for you. What not to say during moments of intimacy.
1. Are you trying to be funny?
2. Oh my Lord in Heaven, please forgive me for this vile sin I am about to
3. Remember.... I don't want to get involved.
4. Have you gained some weight?
5. Whoops -- sorry!
6. SHAME on you!
7. Hup, two, three four....
8. Oh Leroy ... I mean ... (insert his name here)
9. Careful! Don't muss my hair!
10. **RING RING (phone)** What? Oh nothing, what about you?
11. Woman: I love you! Man: Let's not spoil it, okay? (or vice versa)
12. You done yet?
13. I forgot to tell you. I'm leaving for Alaska tomorrow.
Foot in mouth, or something else?
This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a very
embarrassed female news anchor who will, in the future, likely think before
she speaks. What happens when you predict snow but don't get any....a true
We had a female news anchor who, the day after it was supposed to
have snowed and didn't, turned to the weatherman on live TV and asked: "So Bob, where's that 8 inches you promised me last night?”
Q.What do you call a virgin on a waterbed?
A: A cherry float.
Q: What's the fluid capacity of Monica Lewinsky's mouth?
A: 1 US leader
Q: What did the sign on the door of the whorehouse say?
A: Beat it - we're closed.
Q: Why do walruses go to Tupperware parties?
A: To find a tight seal.
Q: What's the difference between sin and shame?
A: It is a sin to put it in, but it's a shame to pull it out.
Q: What's the speed limit of sex?
A: 68; at 69 you have to turn around.
Q: Why did Raggedy Ann get thrown out of the toy box?
A: She kept sitting on Pinocchio's face, and moaning, "Lie to me!"
Q: Why is air a lot like sex?
A: Because it's no big deal unless you're not getting any.
Q: What's another name for pickled bread?
Q: Why are Monica Lewinsky's cheeks so puffy?
A: She's withholding evidence.
Q: What's the difference between light and hard?!
A: You can sleep with a light on.
Q: Why is sex like a bridge game?
A: You don't need a partner if you have a good hand.
Q: What's the definition of macho?
A: Jogging home from your own vasectomy.
Q: What do a Christmas tree and a priest have in common?
A: Their balls are just for decoration.
Have a good weekend everybody. Don’t forget: if you’re as old as Boy Kim, use a cushion. Hardwood and pavement is hell on the knees.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
That’s what I’d like to say to James Wilson. Seriously. Get the tent off the roof and invest in a marriage counselor.
Mr. Wilson is upset because his young children are affecting the level of intimacy in his marriage. The two-year-old won’t sleep without a pacifier. The two-month-old won’t sleep without Mom.
Mr. Wilson, get a grip. Like you’re the first man to have to deal with young children and their various needs.
You can’t reason with a two-month-old. Anyone who stands in judgment of parents of young kids probably – and I stress probably – doesn’t have children. I mean, there are bad parents, sure. Parents who don’t discipline. Parents who give their kids everything they want.
But a two-month-old with sleep issues? Oh yeah, there’s a news flash.
Mr. Wilson has taken to the rooftops to protest the lack of intimacy in his marriage and force his wife to deal with their children’s issues.
He says on his site that he is doing this to protest because his wife won’t take his advice (I see nothing about him considering her point of view or trying things her way) and to send a message to wives everywhere that husbands have feelings too.
Mr. Wilson, so do wives. And so do mothers.
I hope lightning zaps your tent.
I’m being brutal here, but my issue isn’t actually his concerns with his children. I worked with children for many years. I have friends with young children. I have a niece and two nephews, ages 11 years, 7 years and 9 months.
I am familiar with the issues of childhood. I’ve seen a toddler tax the patience of the most understanding person.
In fact, my sister had all of her kids sleep with them. I’m not saying I advocate this, but I must admit that for them, it worked very well. Particularly now, with Dashiell, my sister is able to sleep through the night without getting up for him because he’s in a crib that attaches to the side of the bed, and she’s been able to continue working this year (her job allows her to bring him with her to work). For her, that was important because she finally got her dream job last year, and the pregnancy wasn’t planned.
I have another friend whose baby is a nocturnal feeder. When I was visiting, I was relieved when she took the baby to bed. Then I didn’t have to hear her scream at night.
I had a cousin that sucked her thumb until she was 9. Her parents finally put molasses on her hand, cured that. What the pacifier has to do with intruding on their intimacy I don’t get, anyway.
But what really bugs me about this guy is not that they disagree with how to deal with their children. That’s not unusual. What bothers me is how he’s turned this into a public campaign. Getting signatures from random people on a website petition is going to change his wife’s mind?
Why the hell would he think she’ll change if a bunch of strangers say she should? A marriage isn’t exactly a democracy, and neither is this petition. Seriously. All the overbearing men of the world will rush to sign this in support of one man trying to put a woman in her place.
What I want to know is, where is the petition to get this ass off the roof and into the doghouse?
I’m sorry, but if evilkev ever went public like this to try to strong-arm me with petitioned support from strangers, I’d check to see if his balls had been removed when I wasn’t looking.
Because any man that I can control to the point where he feels he has to cry out to other men to support him, because we can’t talk about things and work them out like adults, is not a man. He’s a spineless jellyfish.
This isn’t a last-ditch effort – this is just a ploy for attention, to get people to take sides in his marriage. I’m sure he knows deep down that if he talks to someone with intelligence and experience – like a marriage counselor - they’ll tell him he isn’t special and he’s being unreasonable.
I don’t respect a man – or anyone - who runs away from his problems and whines for sympathy.
Mr. Wilson, you want to talk about things affecting the intimacy in marriage? Try being married to a man on call 24-7. Yep, other than when he’s working or out of town, evilkev lives with a radio attached to his hip. Last night we’d gone to bed and were talking and the tones went off. He had to jump out of bed and go running.
See me sulking about our unfinished conversation?
Happened the other day when we were out for lunch. The food came, he took one bite and the tones went off.
The reality is, it can happen any time, without warning. When we’re sharing a, ahem, private moment against the laundry room door or when we’re in the shower or – dare I say it? – when we’re in bed, the radio always has to be there. And you can’t say, “NOT NOW, dammit.”
You just hope you don’t accidentally press the talk button and transmit anything when the radio doesn’t intrude.
And you know what? That’s okay. There are some nights I get woken up at 3 am. There are mornings that come and evilkev’s still on a call and I don’t know where he is or how long he’ll be.
But I supported his decision to be a firefighter.
And for heaven’s sake Mr. Wilson, your wife didn’t create those children alone.
Please, go to this site and tell this guy to invest in a pair and try to act like a real mature married man.
The one thing we can all take comfort in. No matter how left of center we might be, we can rest assured, knowing there are plenty of people in the world who are much stranger than we are.
And Mr. Wilson is, in my books, the wackjob of the week. Psst, Mr. Wilson. Let me tell you what’s intruding on the intimacy in your marriage now: YOU. As long as you sleep on the roof, you’re sleeping alone, buddy.
And how the hell do you think your kids will feel when they realize you abandoned your role in the family because you were fed up with their issues? You expect your two-month-old and two-year-old to demonstrate a level of maturity that you have yet to exhibit. Who the hell is the parent? Who’s the adult? This isn’t an adult solution to an adult problem. It’s just childish.
Your family deserve better. I hope they get it, after the divorce.
*The planned post for today has been pre-empted due to my need to rant about this.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
The exploding engine in your car that’s going to set you back a few grand? The way you keep getting called to come to work on your day off because someone’s sick and they’re short-staffed?
The endless abuse from telemarketers and door-to-door salespeople?
You have my sympathy on all of the above, and more. But there is a fine line that we all risk crossing, when we begin to feel we’re entitled to certain things.
Okay, we’re all entitled to some things. We have a right to expect to be treated with respect, for example. I’m not talking about stuff like that.
I’m talking about people like this, who use a fake baby in a car seat to get away with driving in designated carpool lanes.
I mean, lady, what makes you more special than anyone else?
The woman got a fine for $110 and 3 demerit points on her driver’s license, which affects car insurance premiums and once you accumulate a certain number of points, your license is suspended.
And officers say they write a few hundred tickets each month for abuse of carpool lanes.
Going so far that you buy a car seat and a doll, as this woman did, to pretend to have a second occupant in a vehicle… Wow.
Now, perhaps I’m coming off with a bit of a harsh opinion here in the eyes of some. But any of us who’ve lived in a city and experienced gridlock understand the reasons for carpool lanes. The majority of us not only respect the efforts of cities to address traffic problems. It isn’t a perfect system - what is?
But people thinking they’re entitled to do whatever the hell they want leads to anarchy.
These are the people who just walk across a busy highway and expect everyone to slam on the brakes. These are the people who fight over toys in stores because they damn well want one for their kid.
These are the people that sue when their very common first name is used for a bad character on tv. Does that give me grounds to sue a certain author for using my first name in a short story? Uh, NO!
I mean, geez people, get a grip. I’m reminded of something Laura Lippman said when I interviewed her, about the idea of parents advocating for their kids and causing more harm than good.
“I am fascinated in how something inarguably good -- the love of one's child -- can have bad consequences. The thing is, one doesn't advocate for one's child in a vacuum. If you fight to get your kid away from the notorious teacher everyone loathes, or if you angle to get him on the "better" Little League time, other kids are affected.”
Everything we do has an impact on others. By pushing for our child to have better, we might ensure another child has things much worse. By sneaking into a carpool lane you might slow legitimate traffic that keeps a man with a heart attack from getting to the hospital in time.
I mean, don’t even get me started on that. My good friend Steve reads my blog when he’s working at the fire hall in New Westminster, BC, and the stories he tells about people who won’t get out of the way when they have the lights and sirens on…If there was justice, it would be their house on fire, burning to the ground. (Do you know most houses burn beyond retrieval in less than 7 minutes? And these knobs are puttering along, refusing to move…)
Not to mention that a certain MIL I know parks in handicapped spots because she wants to park close to the doors. Doesn’t need to, doesn’t have a little card authorizing her, just does.
Oh, and those people who park across two spots so nobody will ding the doors of their new vehicle.
And now I see thatPamela Anderson has asked our prime minister to talk about the seal hunt.
Her and a list of other celebrities.
Because having big boobs and making lots of money qualifies her as special enough that she should have an audience with the prime minister to promote her cause?
You know, I have a lot of respect for Bono. At least U2’s lead singer consistently meets with political figures in all sorts of venues to address poverty, and he speaks out to the media, and he speaks out when he performs on tour. He is nothing if not consistent. And his cause is selfless. It isn’t a promotion stunt, so it isn’t celebrities being activists that bothers me, just the way that some celebrities expect that when they suddenly decide something’s a good trend to pick up a placard for, they expect the politicians to come running.
And, of course, the media loves it. They’re there, lapping it all up. It’ll make for good headlines when Pamela sulks in her tight t-shirts about how wrong the PM is to ignore her, how this is evidence of “conservative” evil.
Like the seal hunt hasn’t been going on for hundreds of years and been preserved by the Liberals time and time again…
I hope Mr. Harper tells them all to rot in hell and get real jobs.
But in thinking on this topic, it has brought me right back to mysteries.
You see, when I assess motives for murder, when I read about crimes, when I read confessions, I see some similarities that crop up. Not universally – let’s not generalize – but enough to notice the trend.
And it goes to the sense of entitlement.
That I “deserved” to be rich. I “deserved” to have her. I “was meant to” have that job and he got in the way.
The world is complex. Modern trends see us encouraging people to be all they can be, to strive for whatever they want.
Good encouragement in principle. But there are always a few nutjobs out there with enough screws loose who take it too far.
Sometimes, I wish there was a course people had to take so they’d be reasonable. But I have to admit it – these wackos give me all kinds of ideas for writing.
And somewhat related, but not 100%
I once had someone ask to have me kicked off a committee because they were afraid of me, that I might be a stalker.
Which was really hysterical, because the person phoned me, invited me to participate in the committee originally, even invited me to their birthday party…
But when one issue came up and they didn’t like it, I might be a stalker.
I mean, I’m nothing if not passionate about the things I love. Like you all haven’t guessed that, seeing me gush about writers and books and such. Don’t even get me started on The Wire.
But a stalker?
I’ve got to tell you: I can email anyone about virtually anything. I’m of the mind that you don’t have to read it, you can delete it – I’ll never know.
But in person, with someone I don’t know? To follow them around everywhere and impose myself? Damn, there are people I am acquainted with that, if they were in town I’d invite them to dinner or to tour the area – there’s an open invite for authors coming here, though I expect they’d say no - but show up at a public venue and expect to have a big chat with them?
Not bloody likely.
And to smile or groan…
A little boy comes down to breakfast. Since they live on a farm, his mother asks if he had done his chores. "Not yet" said the little boy.
His mother tells him no breakfast until he does his chores.
Well, he's a little pissed, so he goes to feed the chickens, and he kicks a chicken.
He goes to feed the cows, and he kicks a cow.
He goes to feed the pigs, and he kicks a pig.
He goes back in for breakfast and his mother gives him a bowl of dry cereal.
How come I don't get any eggs and bacon? Why don't I have any milk in my cereal?" he asks.
“Well," his mother says, “I saw you kick a chicken, so you don't get any eggs for a week.
I saw you kick the pig, so you don't get any bacon for a week either.
I also saw you kick the cow, so for a week you aren't getting any milk."
Just then, his father comes down for breakfast and kicks the cat halfway across the kitchen.
The little boy looks up at his mother with a smile, and says: "Are you going to tell him, or should I?"
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
You appeared from nowhere and shamelessly, without any reservations, you lay on my naked body...
You sensed my indifference, so you applied your hungry mouth to me without any guilt or humiliation, and you nearly drove me crazy while you drained me. Finally I went to sleep.
Today when I woke up, you were gone. I searched for you but to no avail, only the sheets bore witness to last night's events.
My body still bears faint marks of your enthusiastic indulgence, making it harder to forget you.
Tonight I will remain awake, waiting for you....
....you fucking mosquito.
Whoever wrote that joke understands the concept of the twist.
There are, for me, several facets of a book that make it a good book. I would never sell character short for plot, nor would I dispense with the plot for a romance, so this isn’t about elevating one element of a story about the rest.
But damn people, twists are wonderful.
I had that experience recently, reading a manuscript for a fellow author and friend. There were some nice, neat touches Steven pulled in the story that gave me a grin. The way what I expected would happen didn’t satisfied me as a reader, because I don’t want to see the end from the beginning.
I want to feel like reading a book has been a process of discovery.
The twist seems to be one of the things that new writers are afraid of. I’m speculating, but based on story submissions for a few magazines, a number of editors have summed up a story to me with, “no surprise there.”
So, add that to the list of essential ingredients when you’re writing. There’s a trick to balancing this, because there are times the predictability of a certain aspect of the storyline, a certain action from the character… that’s what the reader is aching for. For example, Rankin fans grin with glee when Rebus confronts Cafferty in a novel. It’s something that you would expect and the build up and then the actual encounter is sweet to the reader, never dull, trite, boring, overused.
Simply, in that scenario, the history of the characters demands that confrontation.
So, you must ask yourself always what the purpose of any scene is. Sometimes, fulfilling that sense of anticipation for a reader is going to be very important.
But other times, following the path of least resistance is a way to ensure the reader feels let down.
Look to the masters in your field, look to the writers you would want to be compared to. See how they’re handling plot twists and apply the principles you learn. You don’t want so many twists that people confuse you for a gymnast, yet you want to make sure you have a few nice moments in the plot where you turn the reader’s world upside down and leave them with a smile, because they didn’t see that coming, but it just made the story much more interesting.
And, in other news, I’ll be posting of forum follies at some point this week, and I think (finally) the much anticipated FRENCH TONGUES post will be unleashed on an unsuspecting blog-reading population.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Homer: “Because we’ll make lots of money!”
And with that, The Simpsons became the latest victims of the lure of reality TV last night in an episode that saw a wife swap turn… well, very funny.
I don’t often watch The Simpsons with evilkev, but it was quite a coincidence that I did yesterday, because I had been inspired by a post made by Bernita to talk about the shrinking gap between our private and public lives.
I know I shared here once about how, discussing a scene I was writing, involving sex, Kevin had cringed and said, “My MOTHER will read that,” to which I responded, “And she’ll think we have sex?”
It isn’t just the fictional writing that runs the risk of blurring lines for writers. Many of us have online presence, and there are aspects of ourselves that are there for all the world to see.
Which should probably have me very, very worried.
The truth is, when I first started posting on forums and such, I never even considered anyone would be paying attention.
It wasn’t long before I discovered people were watching, and in some cases with more than casual interest. I received emails from strangers asking for my opinions on the most bizarre things, referencing some off-hand remark I’d made somewhere.
At times, I’ve thought I was a complete idiot for not using a fake name.
But I’m a very open person, and something about the idea of having some secret online identity that nobody could connect to the real person seemed wrong, like I was a fraud.
Like nothing more than a cheap ploy to protect me from my own big mouth.
Now I have to consider the fact that anyone can find me online, and read my opinions on a wide range of things. For good or bad, better or worse, a lot of one aspect of Sandra Ruttan is out there for the world to evaluate.
Some of the comments that come up relatively high on a search for me include:
“And here's me thinking you aren't supposed to drink coke...” Wed. March 22 at Daniel’s blog
“John, I bet Stuart's singing "You Can't Hurry Love" in the shower right now...”
over at Stuart’s.
“I'd've bet money on the porn, but since you're hedging maybe it was the ponies. 4/12 for me.” Bet you’re all dying to take a look here now.
“Russel, are Bitchtits and Epileptic Bambi any good with pies?” Don’t ask.
“One man? So you're the bitch? Or do you have a different word for it over there?” This time at James’s blog, but about Stuart. Again. It’s like Stuart’s my only hobby.
Well, you get the idea. Clearly, the blabbermouth is known far and wide, and has a tendency to say things that make her husband blush and grown men cry.
Have I posted things I’ve regretted? Yes, on occasion. Usually on forums when I’ve completely lost my patience with someone being ignorant and offensive.
And it isn’t that what I necessarily said was wrong, but I just regret the anger that went with it.
Have people ever suggested I take something down off my blog?
Yes. Did I? No.
In a way, this is the ultimate trial run for me. The truth of the matter is that I’m a really shy person, initially. I mean, I’m very sociable, but the act of meeting people and getting to the point where I’m comfortable enough to be open with them…
Let’s just say the online introductions make it much easier for me.
This is something for all of you to consider, though. Especially the writers. When I started my blog, I didn’t have a clue why I was doing it. But if you’ve come on with the idea that you’re using it to promote yourself and your writing, then you have to make decisions about what you’re going to talk about and what you won’t touch, and how much of yourself you feel comfortable exposing.
Truthfully, when people close parts of themselves off online, others do see it. Stuart has been my role model. He’s both personal and witty and has made himself less of the six-foot-Scottish-Adonis that he is by being warm and vulnerable with his readers.
I could never hope to be a six-foot-Scottish-Adonis, unless we’re talking width and sex change, and for both the desire is lacking.
But the warmth I like.
And the vulnerability is something I can take advantage of.
A serious warning though: Experience has taught me you never know who is paying attention. I’ve had emails from people I would never have expected to hear from – some total strangers, some role models for me, people I really admire, some really bizarre and creepy ones that left me a bit spooked. It’s something to consider when you start out, and something to remember as you move towards publication. A part of you is owned by the public when your name is on a book, and only you can decide how much will be out there for them to know about, but once you put stuff out, it’s done and gone, and it’s much harder to tighten the boundaries.
For those who wonder at my openness, I can only say this. Much of what I’ve put out there could be put into the public domain by others. And whenever anyone originally from a small town does anything remotely interesting, there are plenty of people who will talk.
I’ve decided to control the information by talking about it myself. I feel better with the idea that there are no sudden shocks coming to anyone down the road, that I know of. If there are, I’ll be shocked with you.
A Newfoundland couple, both well into their 80s, go to a sex therapist's office.
The doctor asks, "What can I do for you?"
The man says, "Will you watch us have sexual intercourse?"
The doctor raises both eyebrows, but he is so amazed that such an elderly couple is asking for sexual advice that he agrees.
When the couple finishes, the doctor says, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with the way you have intercourse." He thanks them for coming, he wishes them good luck, charges them $50 and he says goodbye.
The next week, however, the couple returns and asks the sex therapist to watch again. The sex therapist is a bit puzzled, but agrees.
This happens several weeks in a row. The couple makes an appointment, has intercourse with no problems, pays the doctor, then leave.
Finally, after 5 or 6 weeks of this routine, the doctor says, "I'm sorry, but I have to ask. Just what are you trying to find out?"
The old man says, "We're not trying to find out anything.
She's married and we can't go to her house. I'm married and we can't go to my house.
The Holiday Inn charges $98.
The Hilton charges $139.
We do it here for $50, and I get $43 back from Blue Cross."
Sunday, March 26, 2006
A man dressed as a woman escaped on rollerblades after holding up the National Australia Bank's Bayswater branch yesterday, witnesses told police. Wearing a skirt and a wig, he escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Because nobody would suspect a woman?
An Austrian pensioner faked heart attacks at more than 100 hospitals so he could steal from unconscious roommates. A nurse caught the 61-year-old, from Muerzzuschlag, going through patients' pockets. He was charged with fraud and theft.
That’s just low.
A Canadian woman in her 20s, who went out dancing in Oshawa, Ontario, did not notice she had been shot in the chest until she was back home in bed and having trouble sleeping.
Well, the party must go on…
Here's a new excuse. Police in Elk River, Minnesota, caught a driver following a high-speed chase when he crashed into several vehicles. Once resuscitated, the clearly drunken man told them he thought he had been playing a video game.
Yeah, the kind that involves getting into a vehicle, inserting a key, putting the vehicle into drive…
A couple kept apart - literally - by a Yorkshire terrier have been helped by a TV dog trainer. The pup had laid down the law to Phil Woodlock, preventing him sharing a bed with his partner of six years.
They had resorted to staying in hotels to spend an evening together.
Puts a different spin on being in the dog house, doesn’t it? Please, don’t groan – you knew that was coming.
Juan Espinosa and Irma Contreras are recovering separately in Mexico - he in police detention, she in hospital with third-degree burns – after a marital spat got out of hand. The couple fired guns and threw knives until a home-made petrol bomb blew up their house in the south-eastern state of Yucatan.
Talk about a heated argument.
Firemen in Manchester, England, had to rescue 21 health and safety officers after an office floor collapsed during a safety meeting. One health and safety officer broke her ankle, while others had bumps and bruises.
Think they learned anything?
The Bookseller magazine's Diagram Prize for oddest book title of the year has gone to People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It. A previous winner was Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers.
This whole people who don’t know they’re dead thing is really bothering me. I mean, what if I’m dead and I’ve attached myself to a bystander and I don’t even know? I mean, if I don’t know I’m dead, I could’ve done this? Really, it’s just so frightening. Am I alive? Am I detached? Dear God, the agony, the horror, the sheer terror at the possibilities…
And in other news, people keep reading this blog.
Now that’s amazing.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
That’s right: it is the date of the annual seal hunt, something we’ve been criticized for by animal rights organizations and celebrities around the world.
It’s a contentious issue. I found an interesting assortment of articles in my search for information, from blatant rebuttals about the erroneous accusations being leveled at Canada, to scathing accounts of the status of the seal hunt procedures that have since been banned here but are purported to still be in practice.
Look, the bottom line here is: I’m not crazy about the seal hunt.
But I’m also not crazy about the stunt that one famous person pulled for the cameras.
Now, I am trying not to jump on emotional bandwagons. When I see those cute pictures of those little seals with the big black eyes, I’m smitten too.
But I’m also aware that issues are seldom as black and white as some activists would have us all believe.
Truth is, there are a lot of inherited practices in Canada that date back to centuries old Native traditions. And we live in a country that’s been trying to balance their rights to their ways with the pressures and demands of the modern world.
Now, that doesn’t excuse everything. I’m an animal lover – regulars here know that. Three dogs (2 rescue dogs of the 3) and 3 cats. I’ve got nature and wildlife shots that’ll put you to sleep, I love shooting photos of wildlife that much.
But I’ve also been to the arctic, and I’ve seen a beluga being carved and smoked for meat for the winter. It isn’t an indulgence to kill those magnificent creatures up there – it’s survival, pure and simple. When you spend some time in a northern community, you start to see that. You see how they have to prepare to survive. And you understand that imported supplies are limited. Supplementing with what nature provides is essential.
It doesn’t make it any easier, and believe me, I passed on the offer to try some smoked beluga. That just wasn’t something I felt I needed to experience. But I’d also seen enough to know I had no right to stand in judgment over their way of life.
The seal hunt is different. But what really bothers me about the seal hunt is that when I tried to search for information, I found nothing on the government sites I went to about the current regulations. I could find no valid source of information to confirm accusations or refute them.
And that, my friends, really bothers me.
I’ve been swept away in the past with the emotional currents. I understand the temptation. But I try to make informed decisions, and when I can’t find enough information from legitimate sources to feel like I’ve got the facts I need to consider, well, I’m nothing if not annoyed.
I was totally pissed off by some of the animal rights groups, because the google search registered a site claiming to have links to both sides of the argument, a balanced perspective, and I’d click to find myself not anywhere balanced at all, but on a campaign list for who I could email and what foods I could boycott to make my point to the Canadian government.
Obviously, the point being not to educate me as promised, but to persuade me to their side only.
Free speech, and the freedom to express your views, is a wonderful thing. But it is unfortunate when people use it to abuse their view and impose it on others.
Now, I feel that I would lean in the anti-seal hunt ban category. If I had enough information in front of me to make a reasoned decision, I’m 99% certain I’d swing that way. Because that’s my natural inclination, not being one to be big on hunting in general or clubbing animals to death specifically.
But I can’t make that decision. Because I don’t have the facts. And jumping to conclusions without facts exposes you to presenting a faulty argument when you don’t know exactly what it is that you’re fighting against.
What I wish is that the activists were reasoned enough, mature enough, to trust people to have all the information in front of them and make the right decision. Okay, not everyone will do that. I mean, all you need to do is look at an election to know that there will always be people that will see things differently. But in a democracy, we also need to respect that. The point is, the way it stands, it’s nothing more than which side has the more effective propaganda machine wins.
And from what I’ve seen of the newspaper articles and media coverage, the Canadian government isn’t hurting in that department.
And all I’m left with is the frustration that this controversial issue comes up again, year after year, and I don’t feel like either side in the debate has been the slightest bit concerned with being honest and balanced about what really happens at a seal hunt, or the reasons why.
And until I get those answers, I'm going to be mad at everyone.
Go Home Paul McCartney
Boycott or Be Damned
Seal Hunt a Stain on Canada
Inuit website Inuit Diet and Hunting History
The view from Minnesota
Friday, March 24, 2006
Only to hear me whine.
Because Skittles is so popular, he’s been invited to join another freakin’ forum on catster.
This one? Cookie and Candy Cats.
Guess that explains why Buttons (www.catster.com/?149125) has more ‘pal’ invitations and Skittles gets invited to more play groups: nobody’s got a Sewing Kitty Club out there. Yet.
And it gets better. Skittles has received a ROSETTE now too. Lord, what next? He’s a prize-winning pin-up cat that eats Mark Billingham’s books, which I consider very naughty. (www.catster.com/?160409)
Not as bad as Nootka (www.dogster.com/?149028) eating half the cover of Laura Lippman’s Every Secret Thing, though. Laura might forgive the cute pooch, but I’ll never forget. Had to replace that out of my allowance.
What I don’t understand is, why hasn’t somebody at least started a fat cat support group for Rascal (www.catster.com/?149129) to join? He has feelings too. Come on cat lovers, you’re letting me down.
But fear not, for it is Friday, and though there has been angst this week in my life, we will still have laughter. Because without the sorrows of life, the joys would not exist.
The pain makes the happy days all that much sweeter, yaddi yadda. I’ll spare you, because I’m not Cliché Boy. Nope, I’m a damn site more original than that. My characters are screwed up and have 11 toes. HAH!
The Funny Cats video is there for your entertainment. And believe me, it has some classic moments.
Of course, the Please Adopt Pinkey video is not to be missed, especially if you want to see a grown man scream. (Though if swearing offends you, cover your ears at the end. Clearly this poor assaulted gentleman didn’t consider the delicate sensibilities of some mystery writers who believe in using fair words.
I mean, these videos may not be as funny to some of you meanie-heads as me being sprayed by Skittles last week, but still. Pretty funny.
Like seeing Stuart get clawed by Grendel.
From Cats to Dachshund’s
Bush and Osama decided to settle the war once and for all. They sat down and decided to settle the whole dispute with one dog fight. They would have years to breed the best fighting dog in the world and whichever side's dog won would be entitled to dominate the world.
Osama found the biggest, meanest Doberman and Rottweiler female dogs in the world and bred them with the meanest Siberian wolves. They selected only the biggest and strongest puppy from the litter, and re moved his siblings, which gave him all the milk. After 5 years, they came up with the biggest, meanest dog the world had ever seen. Its cage needed steel bars that were 5 " thick and nobody could get near it.
When the day came for the dogfight, Bush showed up with a strange looking animal. It was a 9 foot long Dachshund. Everyone felt sorry for Bush because there was no way that this dog could possibly last 10 seconds with the Afghanistani dog.
When the cages were opened up, the Dachshund came out of its cage, and slowly waddled over towards Osama's dog. Osama's dog snarled and leaped out of its cage and charged the American Dachshund---but when it got close enough to bite, the Dachshund opened its mouth and consumed Osama's dog in one bite. There was nothing left of his dog at all.
Osama came up to Bush, shaking his head in disbelief. "We don't understand how this could have happened. We had our best people working for 5 years with the meanest Doberman and Rottweiler female dogs in the world and the biggest, meanest Siberian wolves."
"That's nothing," said Bush. "We had Michael Jackson's plastic surgeons working for 5 years to make that alligator look like a wiener dog."
THE WHY'S OF MEN
1. WHY DO MEN BECOME SMARTER DURING SEX?
Because they are plugged into a genius.
2. WHY DON'T WOMEN BLINK DURING SEX?
They don't have enough time.
3. WHY DOES IT TAKE 1 MILLION SPERM TO FERTILIZE ONE EGG?
They don't stop to ask directions.
4. WHY DO MEN SNORE WHEN THEY LIE ON THEIR BACKS?
Because their balls fall over their butts and they vapor lock. You're laughing, aren't you?
5. WHY WERE MEN GIVEN LARGER BRAINS THAN DOGS?
So they wouldn't hump women's legs at cocktails parties.
6. WHY DID GOD MAKE MEN BEFORE WOMEN?
You need a rough draft before you make a final copy.
7. HOW MANY MEN DOES IT TAKE TO PUT A TOILET SEAT DOWN? C'mon guys, we laugh at your blonde jokes!
8. WHY DID GOD PUT MEN ON EARTH?
Because a vibrator can't mow the lawn.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
When the power goes out in our house, it's always interesting. It's an old house - it does some interesting things. And when the power flickers, or fails, it tends to go out in half of the house while maintaining full capacity in the other half.
Really, it does make life interesting.
When I used to have my office in the basement, I remember thinking I'd only tripped a fuse because I could hear Kevin watching the tv upstairs. This was when we first discovered the eccentricity that is our home.
But at least when there's a brown out, you can prepare. We have short-term power back-ups for the computers, so you have a few minutes to save your stuff and at least not have to cry and fuss about losing something you've been working on.
Of course, the long-term power failures are never welcome. You never know how long the power might go out for, especially on a day like Tuesday, when it was the whole town and the surrounding area.
When I used to live on a Gulf Island, we'd get some wild windstorms. Well, wild storms all-round. But those windstorms would send trees down, and the trees would take the power lines, and boom - instant power failure.
Longest one I lived through: three days.
So, like I said, the brown outs and the bit of power buffer is most welcome. Because freak acts of nature rarely throw me for the same kind of curve ball as I lived through on the coast.
Now, if only there were some way to have family problems come in on a brown out warning system.
Almost exactly a week ago, I picked up the phone and heard my brother-in-law's voice on the other end of the line. He had news. My mother had turned up at his office looking for him.
That would be the mother he hadn't seen in over 9 years - about 8.5 for me.
The mother that'd never met my husband, never met her two younger grandkids...
The mother that walked out of my life back in 1998, and I let her go, part of me thanking God I didn't have to deal with all that shit anymore. I didn't have to wonder about the next phone call, the next suicide attempt, the next time someone was arrested. I could try to play at being normal. Finally. Only 26 years into my life...
I don't think I've typed much that's been cohesive this week. My mind's been elsewhere most of the time. And, add to that my adventures in babysitting. Nephew Dashiell fell asleep on me and his boogers coagulated on my clothes.
And now I'm a sniffling, hacking, hoarking sicko.
There's a lot in this family situation I'm still sorting through, and I'm not sure when I'll have my head wrapped around it, if ever. I've been feeling a lot of things this week - anger, resentment, frustration.
Best of all, I told my best friend, who told her husband. Know what he said?
"Does this mean Sandra's going to have all sorts of good stuff to write about?"
Yeah, we writers, we sometimes lead tortured lives. And the writing is cheaper than therapy, so at least there's that. In a way, it isn't a bad thing. My female protagonist in Suspicious Circumstances has a poor relationship with her mother, so maybe more experience in the real-life family drama department will be the catalyst to me actually deciding where I want to go with a future Lara/Tymen offering.
Anyway, I just thought you guys should know, because I know I haven't really been myself, nor have I been around the blogs as much as usual.
And I'm not really up for taking shit with my usual brush-off attitude and easy-going disposition.
But I really do appreciate those of you who've been dropping me notes and trying to make me smile this week. This is about the only place right now where I don't feel completely alone, even if I don't feel completely myself.
So go here and vote. (blogger's still not liking my links: the url is http://www.britishbookawards.co.uk/bba/pnbb_vote.asp?)
And be sure to vote for Mark Billingham's Lifeless for Crime Thriller of the Year.
Because I said so. And this is my blog, so I can say whatever I want.
Now look into my eyes. That's it. You're getting sleepy, veeerrrry veeeerrrry sleeeepy. Focus only on your need to vote for Mark Billingham. Must vote for Mark Billingham...
Yeah, well, I won't kill you if you vote for someone else. Because I won't know. But really, Lifeless is excellent, a very worthy contender on the list, and I'm pretty excited for Mr. B.
And he's promised rewards in heaven for votes. So if enough of you go vote for him, I might even be able to coax a Maid Marian DVD out of the actor-comedian-author. (again, the url is http://www.markbillingham.com/talk/index.php?topic=199.msg2105#new)
So for the love of my DVD collection and good crime fiction, go vote!
And you're likely safe now. I'm returning to bed, where I've been sniffling and hacking the day away between posts and reading MIPPR (a most excellent read) and glaring at the people running around praising God because I have no voice.
I like, sooooooo badly need a Rankinholics Anonymous group. But at least the publishers of Henning Mankell are investing in therapy for their junkies.
The bad news: I was drinking when I read it. Now everything on my desk is sticky.
I'm warning you before you go there. Because just when I thought I was safe I got to the, uh, comment about unwelcome foreign objects in gin. Which I didn't need to read thank-you-very-much-Evil-MacBride!
Sigh. Yeah, I really miss that myself. (Like I remember.)
But it was the perfect day to get this link from a friend. (I see the links aren't registering - here's the url: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2006/03/22/1142703391300.html)
"Hell's bells. Just as British censors clear Australia's colourful tourism campaign, Canadian officials have banned it, but not because of the word "bloody".
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has refused to run the "Where The Bloody Hell Are You" ad during family television programming because of the word "hell", Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper reports."
Yes, the Australians are now officially annoyed with Canada, the latest Commonwealth country to give the Australian tourist board a little slap on the, er, backside and wag of the finger in the face for using naughty words in their advert.
Now, for my part, I have read this all with complete fascination. And because seeing is truly believing, I went to this link so that I could watch the offensive commercial for myself.
Look, you know, the CBC is one of those national, government-funded media outlets that has their own set of bizarre hoops to jump through, their own political allegiances, their own slant on things.
In fact, I could tell a little story about a guy who works for the CBC. A complete expert on handguns. Has one of the most impressive collections I've ever seen - guns now banned that he's been grandfathered in on for licenses.
But due to his job at the CBC, he doesn't want anyone to know about his collection. It could get him into trouble.
So, you know, I have to tell the Australians: Don't fret too much. Nobody watches the CBC anyway.
The advert would be best put on Fox, on NBC, on CTV, on Global. Channels that actually show programs that a lot of people watch.
Meanwhile, we'd like to keep our image of being polite, proper, shy, respectful Canadians, thank you very much. Why, this side of the 49th we positively blush at the mere mention of sex, which is why we're trying to grow the population through immigration.
And bad words, like...hell? Men will gasp, women will faint.
Because we've never heard words like that before.
I mean, we still believe North is Up and that our geography puts us one step closer to heaven than the rest of you are, don't you know?
So, what does Sandra really think of the ban? Unfuckingbelievable.
Hell's bells indeed.
Only in Canada.
I'm shocked we're allowed to use that four-letter word on a sign. I mean, really! How offensive. Kids might see it. We're contaminating young minds.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
In switching from text doc to email and amending part of my post
accordingly, I now see all the typos I missed and I still can't get back
into blogger to correct them.
Or to comment. And most blogs I visit are invisible. Which, in some cases,
isn't a bad thing...
But I can read your comments in my email, so at least I'm entertained.
Hopefully, tomorrow blogger will be playing nice again. Or just screwing
things up for someone else!
(No, blogger is still not playing nice with Sandra. I’ve been shut out of comments for about 18 hours now – maybe longer. Couldn’t post earlier either…)
Anyway, his post got me thinking about interviews.
Despite being trained to do interviews, it isn’t like riding a bike. Not for me, anyway. One thing that I never really had as a journalist was the gumption to pressure people. I could never be one of those reporters sticking my recorder into the face of the woman whose child had just died in a horrific accident, or whatever. I’d rather let them cry on my shoulder.
But I now find myself needing to do interviews, both for research purposes in my writing, and also author interviews.
The author interviews I’ve reclaimed my love for. More about that later.
Research interviews can be tricky. In part, if you think you know what it is you need to have answered, you can miss essential things that may have a bearing on the fact you’re researching.
About 18 months ago, I wrote a letter to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Calgary. The purpose was to enquire about going for a tour and talking to someone who might be able to answer questions about procedure.
I’d expected a “no” reply to come in the mail or via email.
What I got was a phone call.
And the phone call wasn’t, “sorry we can’t work this out.” The phone call was, “What do you want to know.”
The first rule of interviewing: Be prepared.
You may know you’re planning an interview. For example, I’ll be sitting down with Simon Kernick at Harrogate Crime Festival in July. What I don’t know offhand is when during the weekend we’ll wrap up our interview. My job is to be prepared for that to be Thursday afternoon, 30 minutes after I check in at the earliest, and Sunday morning half an hour before people are running for trains at the latest.
Therefore, I’ll be coming with a list ready and everything set to go. It is only courteous to come prepared when you have a scheduled interview. Even when I send questions via email for response, I try to stick to my schedule. It’s professionalism. I’ve been late once this past year - unfortunately for Simon, which makes it twice as critical to me that I’m ready long before Harrogate – but fortunately he’s pretty forgiving.
Being prepared is also about showing respect for the people that you’re interviewing.
Nobody wants to have their time wasted. I’m keenly aware of this when I interview authors. Some people think authors sit around and play on computers all day and don’t do much for their pay, but authors are usually the busiest people I know, and I respect their time by showing up ready.
My interview with Stuart last year for the Fall Issue of Spinetingler started in person, but we decided to finish it via online chat. I hadn’t had a chance to read his book yet, having just purchased it, and I really prefer to have read some if not all of an author’s works before interviewing them. Why? Well, for one thing, it helps me avoid stupid questions. It also gives me some insight about what I should be asking about. And again, respect. (And I should add, I got up at 6 am and read the first 6 chapters of his book before we started the in person interview. Sacrifice sleep to avoid looking stupid. That's my motto.)
My husband taped a television interview with Deric Ruttan for me to watch. The interviewer was a popular Canadian interviewer, long history in journalism, well-established show that she’d been the host of for years. Within three questions I knew that she knew almost nothing about him. How?
1. Her questions were superficial.
2. He made a reference to a song on his cd BY NAME and she asked what that meant because she didn’t realize it was a song. (She had a copy of the cd in her hand, btw. Clearly hadn’t read the songs listed on the back.)
3. The questions covered the same old territory our high school yearbooks printed about Deric XX years ago.
This brings me to the next suggestion: Move into new terrain!
I always read a few interviews with a person if possible before interviewing them. Not possible with Cornelia Read as I was the first to get to her, but if you can, take a few minutes and do some online searches and read other interviews. (And in the case where you’re one of the first, get to know your subject a bit beforehand, if you can. By the time I interviewed Cornelia, it was easy to ask questions regarding nudity and go from there.)
This helps you come up with questions. Every time an answer screamed out, “ask about that” but the interviewer went right on with the game plan and didn’t deviate, I wrote down that question. I’ll quote the comment back to them and ask whatever I felt the interviewer should have asked, but didn't.
Look, pure and simple, if you’re so frickin’ famous that everybody wants to interview you, you get tired of being asked the same 10 questions over and over and over again. (I should note that Mark said no such thing about being sick of being asked certain questions. Really, I'm just being insolent and inserting links to whomever I damn well please.)
And there are some questions you have to be asked. I bet Ian Rankin sits around thinking of flippant answers to the “what’s going to happen to Rebus in retirement” question these days. “He’s going to fall down a waterfall and go missing.” “He and Siobhan are going to have a love child and move to California.” “He’s going to kill Cafferty and take over the business.” Man, if I’d been asked that question as many times as I’ve seen him asked it – and have to give the same basic answer – I’d be wanting to say, “Rebus who? What the hell are you talking about? My next book’s set in Aberdeen about this guy named McRae…”
And remember something: Silence is an invitation. By not jumping up to ask the next question right away, an interviewee will often say more. People like to fill silences.
But this won’t always be true of people who’ve been interviewed a lot.
Don’t be afraid to toss the plan.
I’ll come into an interview with usually 30-50 questions, depending on the situation. Some of those questions might be extremely loaded, the kind that open up a discussion on a big topic. In any interview, I’ve always tossed questions I came in with, and asked tried to follow through on what came up in the answers that should be addressed.
Really, an interview is pretty easy, if it’s going into print. You can bumble your way through and still redeem yourself when you write it up.
For one thing, I always give authors a chance to look over their answers before they go to the public domain. Sometimes, people speak too freely. I’m mindful that my job here isn’t to expose a crooked politician, but to introduce readers to the author. Most times, the authors stand by exactly what they said first time ‘round, even if something makes them cringe when they see it in black and white later.
I’ll also readjust the order of content in an interview. This is strictly for the reader, so they can follow topic to topic more smoothly. Often, a comment will raise two questions in my mind, and I’ll follow up one and then have to go back to the other question later. Those are the kinds of things I’ll try to adjust later so that both questions make sense and are read ‘in context’ – I hope.
I’ve referred to interviewing authors a lot here, because that’s almost all I do these days. But every writer should be prepared for the moment when they get to interview a professional in their field – an historian or a secret service agent or some expert in dragons or something.
You might just have to fly by the seat of your pants.
A friend of mine told me about that lately. Getting seated next to an RCMP officer on a flight – an RCMP officer with a pretty interesting job…
She had to think on her feet. Ended up interviewing him the whole 4 hour flight.
An interview like that, you might bumble a bit more through, forgivably. But when you have a planned interview, come prepared, come with intelligent questions that show you know more than their name, and treat them with courtesy and respect.
And if you really really screw it up, that’s what alcohol’s for. Why the heck do you think I spend so much time in the bar at crime festivals?
Another basic tip: Don’t ask yes or no questions. Ask questions that invite an articulated response. Not, “Is blue your favourite colour?” but “What is your favourite colour? Why?” Okay, dumb example, but I think you can see the difference in what you’d expect a person being interviewed to say. One or two yes or no questions might be necessary, but they should always be used to lead into something much more interesting.
Always try to get a way to contact the person after the interview, before the interview comes out. You might get home and find you don’t have the correct spelling for something, or there’s one last question BEGGING to be asked – most people who’ve taken the time for an interview to begin with will indulge a few follow-up questions.
And most people will appreciate your desire to get it right. You should have seen me trying to spell all those names Cornelia Read threw at me...
** An example was being told that only twice in something like 10 years could she recall the ME actually going to the crime scene. I asked what those two times were. You might not get an answer to a question like that, but you should still ask (I did, and the answer was pretty interesting – it gave me a better picture of the ME’s actual tasks than anything else, but I’m not sharing it here. That leaves me with one last point: Don’t print what you don’t have consent to print. Not if you want people to talk to you again.)
And really, authors are pretty easy. Because they know that interviews are important, so they generally aren't that difficult to talk to.
But I can think of one long-suffering author who probably wishes I'd respect him more by sending fewer emails. He's too nice to say it, though.
(And he isn't the only one who could say that, either. But again, Mark's too nice. I owe them drinks at Harrogate...)
The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked its "intelligent" readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter; and then supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got "extra credit".)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
Monday, March 20, 2006
1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.
2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?
Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.
3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend... except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory. Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.
4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?
Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.
According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four-year-old.
Last night, I was subjected to kid logic.
When we want kids to do chores, we're expected to pay them an allowance - right? Okay, so I don't have kids, but I used to be one. If I wanted my weekly money, I had to fulfill my list of duties. It wasn't a free ride, but I did get paid to clean up my room, make my bed, feed the dog...
Of course, as an adult, you don't get paid for such things. Unless you count the lack of spousal nagging as payment.
But I figured that since we pay kids to get them to do what we want them to do, isn't it fair for kids to pay us to get to do what they want to do?
My nephew wants to play X-box when Aunt Sandra babysits. This would be the elder, money-grubbing math wizard, Athaniel.
So I told Athaniel we could work out a deal. If he wants to play X-box, he can pay me by the hour.
He called me cheap.
Which, you know, really isn't how I would describe it. Very reasonable and business-like of me. A sensible proposition.
Then my niece leans over and whispers in my ear, "You know he's going to try to get away with everything when you're over." To which I said, "And you're not?"
Kids. See, this is why I have dogs. You can put them in the basement with a bone and close the door, and nobody says you're being cruel.
The real problem is, it's impossible to outsmart a kid's logic. Because the illogical is logical to them.
Like when Uncle Kevin says, "No I didn't, INFINITY. And you can't argue with infinity because it's infinity."
Athaniel used to cry when Uncle Kevin did that, because it was an impossible thing to argue.
Another reason I don't have kids. They might end up like Kevin...
Or worse yet: me.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Until Harrogate Crime Festival anyway. Last year there were no such fire alarm shenanigans and I'm sure we'll all be a well-behaved bundle of politeness and respectability this year too. I mean, it wasn't me that finally went to bed Saturday night at, um what was it? 6:30 am Sunday? Yes, that seems about right.
But I'm one of those sympathetic types who endures the madness vicariously. Except I didn't plan for this.
You see, I sleep on the left side of the bed. I don't know why, exactly. But that's the side I found myself on when I got married.
Yesterday morning, toasty warm beneath a sheet, two comforters, a duvet and my favourite blanket. In that sort of pre-awake sleep you get too after a decent night's rest, but you still need a bit more. Part of your brain's kicked in, because it's time for the usual 4:30 am wake-up call, but you've dismissed it because - as you remind yourself - it's Saturday. God made Saturday for sleeping in, and for once you don't have anything early morning in the city that requires you to drag your butt out of bed and face the morning too early.
And then you feel it. A spot of warmth. Sticky, wet, but warm. Right over your knees.
And the synopsis are really firing up now. What on earth could be pouring over my legs at 4:45 am?
And then, of course, it registers. That there's something on my legs. Something short, sweet and apparently very horny.
So my lazy Saturday morning was disrupted by Skittles, spraying the bed all the way through all those sheets, his...scent now soaking into my skin.
Now, I had an official city-trip emergency. There was no way our standard washing machine was going to handle the duvet.
We had to pack everything up and go to a laundromat with the front loaders for 8 am, before they got too busy.
On a purely psychological note, I'm not sure how to interpret Skittles' choice to spray me. He's a Daddy's cat, through and through. Runs down the hall when he hears Kevin come in the outer door every afternoon, jumps onto his shoulder, insists on supervising Kevin at work in his office - follows him everywhere. Even likes to lie on the back of the toilet when it's in use.
The kind of cat you need to warn strangers about.
The kind of cat that's going to see a big pair of veterinary scissors really, really soon.
Now, here's some advice for you.
From a strictly mathematical viewpoint it goes like this:
What makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever
wonder about those people who say the are giving more than 100%? We
have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over
100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?
Here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
AND, look how far ass kissing will take you.
So, one can then conclude with mathematical certainty that While Hard work
and knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, Bullshit and Ass kissing will put you over the top.
I know you're all choking back the snickers, thinking how funny it is that Sandra's sweet little kitten sprayed her.
But "Laughing" only gets you 79%.
And a woman sprayed should not be tested!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I mean, at least I'm getting more than 1.5 hours of sleep.
John Rickards has done a nice summary in his second report (if the link wigs out later, go to www.mysterycircus.com and it's on the front page) about height comparisons, fire alarms and Scottish conspiracy theories.
Why do I get the feeling Harrogate will only be a continuation of the antics?
Of course, the one thing I truly dispute is his accusation that Stuart MacBride has been bribing judges with shellfish in order to earn his "Best First Novel" nomination for the International Thriller Awards.
Pssst. Everyone knows shellfish doesn't work, John. You have to use cash.
Seriously though, HUGE CONGRATS to the Bearded Wonderboy, who is obviously too elated to make a blog post about it. Priorities, priorities Stuart. Awards are nice and all, but your readers pay your bills.
And if the fire alarm keeps sounding at LCC, I'm sure by the time they all get home they'll hear it in their heads every four minutes - residual programming. It's likely a brainwashing test or something.
To see if they can take the evil out of crime writers. Though I strongly suspect if I was there, my crimes wouldn't be restricted to the writing - you can take away my freedom, but not my sleep!
Thursday, March 16, 2006
You can feel green (sick).
You can be green, as in a newbie, inexperienced.
But today, it's about making you all green. Which is only fair, because it's St. Patrick's Day, and it would be a darned shame for anyone not to sport the proper colour for the occasion. Yes, that's right. On this side of the border it will be green beer and green mashed potatoes and green Irish soda bread to boot.
It was really hard to photograph this, but there you have it - commemorating my first writing award as an author. Wow. Isn't it beautiful? My publisher (TICO Publishing) really went all-out with this - I'm wearing another part of my prize as I type.
And I might joke about making you all jealous, but really, it just goes to show that if you chase your dreams, you can achieve your goals. If I can, so can you.
My leprechaun has made a rare appearance in honour of the holiday.
Truthfully, I'm green with envy that my friends are at Left Coast Crime. But that's okay. I can drown my sorrows in my green beer, and I have Harrogate to look forward to.
With not just Stuart MacBride and John Rickards and Simon Kernick, but also Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham and Val McDermid and Denise Mina.
Two quick notes:
Update from yesterday: evilkev, who communicates with me by reading my blog and emailing occasionally, has tracked down the book Twenty and Ten for me, so I'll be adding a childhood classic to my shelves. That's why I keep him around. He's well trained.
And if you're lurking, dying to comment, feel free. Commenters I've met in person from my blog? Well, evilkev. And Stuart MacBride.
I've talked to Cornelia on the phone. A few others (Boy Kim, Kate) I've been emailing with for a long time, off various forums.
And the rest are just mad people who somehow found their way here.
So if you're crazy enough to read, feel free to join in the commenting madness. Lurking is only one step removed from stalking, you know.
The St. Patrick's Day Friday Funnies
Q: How can you tell if an Irishman is having a good time?
A: He's Dublin over with laughter!
Q: What's Irish and stays out all night?
A: Patty O'furniture!
Q: How did the Irish Jig get started?
A: Too much to drink and not enough restrooms!
Q: What do you call an Irishman who knows how to control his wife?
A: A bachelor.
On Saint Patrick's Day, an Irishman who had a little too much to drink was driving home from the city and his car was weaving violently all over the road. A cop pulled him over.
"So," said the cop to the driver, "Where have you been?"
"Why, I've been to the pub of course," slurs the drunk.
"Well," says the cop, "it looks like you've had quite a few to drink this evening."
"I did all right," the drunk says with a smile.
"Did you know," says the cop, standing straight and folding his arms across his chest, "that a few intersections back, your wife fell out of your car?"
"Oh, thank heavens," sighs the drunk. "For a minute there, I thought I'd gone deaf."
Two Irishmen, Patrick Murphy and Shawn O'Brian grew up together and were lifelong friends. But alas, Patrick developed cancer, and was dying. While on his deathbed, Patrick called to his buddy, Shawn, "O'Brian, come 'ere. I 'ave a request for ye." Shawn walks to his friend's bedside and kneels. "Shawny ole boy, we've been friends all our lives, and now I'm leaving 'ere. I 'ave one last request fir ye to do."
O'Brian burst into tears, "Anything Patrick, anything ye wish. It's done." "Well, under me bed is a box containing a bottle of the finest whiskey in all of Ireland. Bottled the year I was born it was. After I die, and they plant me in the ground, I want you to pour that fine whiskey over me grave so it might soak into me bones and I'll be able to enjoy it for all eternity."
O'Brian was overcome by the beauty and in the true Irish spirit of his friend's request, he asked, "Aye, tis a fine thing you ask of me, and I will pour the whiskey. But, might I strain it through me kidneys first?"
A man stumbles up to the only other patron in a bar and asks if he could buy him a drink.
"Why of course," comes the reply.
The first man then asks: "Where are you from?"
"I'm from Ireland," replies the second man.
The first man responds: "You don't say, I'm from Ireland too! Let's have another round to Ireland."
"Of Course," replies the second man.
Curious, the first man then asks: "Where in Ireland are you from?"
"Dublin," comes the reply.
"I can't believe it," says the first man. "I'm from Dublin too! Let's have another drink to Dublin."
"Of course," replies the second man.
Curiosity again strikes and the first man asks: "What school did you go to?"
"Saint Mary's," replies the second man. "I graduated in '62."
"This is unbelievable!" the first man says. "I went to Saint Mary's and I graduated in '62, too!"
About that time in comes one of the regulars and sits down at the bar. "What's been going on?" he asks the bartender.
"Nothing much," replies the bartender. "The O'Malley twins are drunk again."
His wife had been killed in an accident and the police were questioning Finnegan.
"Did she say anything before she died?" asked the sergeant.
"She spoke without interruption for about forty years," said the Irishman.
A young gentleman sitting at a bar with his pet pig asks for a couple of drinks. The confused bartender said no animals were allowed at the bar. The man proceeded to say, "Ah, but this is a very special pig. Just last week there was a fire in the house and that pig came charging out of his pen into the house and woke us all up. Then a few days later my son fell into the pool and that pig was grazing out on the lawn, and he came running and jumped into the pool and saved my son."
"Well " said the bartended "I guess this pig is very special so I'll get him a drink. By the way I noticed that he is missing one leg, what happened? "
"Well said the young man, when you got a pig this good you don't eat him all at once!"
The Doctor was puzzled. "I'm very sorry but I can't diagnose your trouble, Mahoney. I think it must be drink."
"Don't worry about it Dr. Kelley, I'll come back when you're sober."
"Did you hear that Flanagan invented an invisible deodorant ?"
"No, what good is it?"
"Well if you use, you vanish and no one knows where the smell is coming from!"
Three guys, one Irish, one English, and one Scottish, are out walking along the beach together one day. They come across a lantern and a Genie pops out of it.
"I will give you each one wish, that's three wishes in total", says the Genie.
The Scottish guy says, "I am a fisherman, my Dad's a fisherman, his Dad was a fisherman and my son will be one too. I want all the oceans full of fish for all eternity." So, with a blink of the Genie's eye FOOM! the oceans were teaming with fish.
The Englishman was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall around England, protecting her, so that no one will get in for all eternity." Again, with a blink of the Genie's eye POOF! there was a huge wall around England.
The Irishman asks, "I'm very curious. Please tell me more about this wall."
The Genie explains, "well, it's about 150 feet high, 50 feet thick, protecting England so that nothing can get in or out."
The Irishman says, "Fill it up with water."
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
And I bet we can. Because I find that childhood memories, the ones we have, are so often the sharpest, the most poignant.
Everything could seem so simple in childhood. And yet, it wasn’t.
But we didn’t see the complications, not the same way we do now. Our minds weren’t geared to that. In childhood, there is (usually) the simplicity of innocence, our minds not tainted by the weight of worry that plagues us in later years as we assume more and more responsibility for our lives.
What is the “one” we all have? A favourite book, something we read that changed the way we thought or taught us something about the world that has stayed with us no matter how much time has passed, or how far we’ve gone from the home of our youth.
Something that made dreams seem possible, because we didn't think about impossibilities. We didn't think about limitations.
For me, one of those books is The Call of the Wild.
Not exactly a literary masterpiece, no doubt a book that makes some snicker. Never mind about that. That book had power, because it changed the way I thought.
I connected with it.
I always considered myself a dog lover. Bingo, a black lab, had come home a few months after I did, and I grew up with him. Many of the books I read as a child – beyond classics like The Narnia Chronicles, The Great Brain Series, the “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald” Hall Bruno & Boots series, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web – were about horses and dogs.
How I ended up with a copy of The Call of the Wild, I don’t remember. All that matters is I did. About 8 years old, getting yelled at because I was hiding inside with my nose in a book, reading about dogs being mushed across the north while fortune-seekers sought gold.
Dogs that were abused, that died in the traces, that gave there all for the greed of man.
Nootka (in the junky parts of the basement)
I’ve been thinking about this, hearing the conclusion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race today. Some people think it’s cruel, but I have two huskies. There is nothing that will put you off your feet and on your face faster than leashing up the boys and stepping out the door. It’s in their heart to pull, to dig in, to try to outdo each other. They, quite simply, love to run. And they love to run against other dogs. It’s so easy for me to close my eyes and imagine the swish of the sled over the snow, to see the drive of the dogs yipping, anxious to get back on the trail.
Chinook and Nootka, when Nootka was just a pup, in the storage room.
All I know is, my boys would love it. Absolutely, positively love to pull with a team.
The Call of the Wild did a number of things for me. For one, a deep love and respect for huskies was born. Like I said, I own a pair.
Nootka and Chinook
I retained the desire to travel to the north and see the Yukon and Alaska, which I’ve done.
And a dream was born, to be a writer.
That’s the power of books. It doesn’t have to be a “literary masterpiece”. It doesn’t have to be an award-winner or a best-seller.
But it can still have the power to influence your life.
Those are the really great books.
And I bet we all have one – a book we read at some point in time that may seem silly to others, but has meant so much to us.
One we cherish and still keep a copy of on our bookshelves.
The Call of the Wild is one of mine. What’s yours?
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Like the fact that in the province of British Columbia, it’s illegal to kill a Sasquatch.
Which my friend found surprising, since there’s no such thing.
“Ah,” Wise Sandra said in response, “but when the law was put into place, they wanted to err on the side of caution and not have it executed if there really were sasquatches.”
This, of course, led right to a discussion about Weird Sex Laws
In Tibet, many years ago, the law required all women prostitute themselves. This was seen as a way to gain sexual experience prior to marriage.
It really was a man’s world.
There are men in Guam whose full-time job it is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time. Why? Under the law in Guam, it is forbidden for virgins to marry.
You know, there is a certain logic to the law. That way, nobody’s going to get into a bad marriage just to have sex. But why not just screw around with your sweetheart for free, and skimp on the STD potential?
In London, it's illegal to have sex on a parked motorcycle.
There goes that fantasy.
In China, women are prohibited from walking around a hotel room in the nude. A woman may be naked only while in the bathroom.
Wonder how popular China is as a honeymoon destination.
In Indiana, mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a "tendency to habitually kiss other humans."
Finally, a law that makes some sense! Could they ban beards as well?
In Minnesota, it is illegal for any man to have sexual intercourse with a live fish.
I’m not even going to ask…
Up until 1884, a woman could be sent to prison for denying a husband sex.
I’m sure this is why some women were pragmatic enough to turn a blind eye to the occasional indiscretion or investment in a hooker.
An excerpt from Kentucky state legislation: "No female shall appear in a bathing suit on any highway within this state unless she be escorted by at least two officers or unless she be armed with a club."
What can you say to this? I mean, really?
The only acceptable sexual position in Washington, D.C. is the missionary position. Any other sexual position is considered illegal.
There are a lot of criminals in Washington, I’m sure.
A law in Fairbanks, Alaska does not allow moose to have sex on city streets.
Somewhere, there’s an animal rights group that’s trying to restore these liberties, I’m sure.
Women can sell items and be topless in Liverpool, England—but only in tropical fish stores.
So, any guy in Liverpool that collects tropical fish could have ulterior motives.
It is illegal for a man and woman to have sex "on the steps of any church after the sun goes down" in Birmingham, England.
Because they’d rather be able to get a good visual in daylight, I’m sure.
In Oblong, Illinois, it's punishable by law to make love while hunting or fishing on your wedding day.
Damn those multi-taskers.
In the state of Washington there is a law against having sex with a virgin under any circumstances (including the wedding night).
That explains all those teenagers driving over the border to BC for an hour…
In Oxford, Ohio, it's illegal for a woman to strip off her clothing while standing in front of a man's picture.
Because, you know, the picture might see something it shouldn’t. I mean, seriously people, WTF?
In Florida, having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal.
Talk about dating a prick…
You can find more laws here.
Now, if any of you have a more plausible explanation for any of these – or the other – strange sex laws (like the one that forbids having sex while wearing socks) – I’d love to hear them…