Thursday, April 26, 2007

Me & My Big Mouth

When my sister was a kid she climbed up on our Great Uncle Carl’s knee and said, “Uncle Carl, I’m smart. I’ve got rocks in my head.”

You know how it is –a story like that lingers. We all love to tell great, embarrassing stories about other people. It’s human nature. That school event I did back in January? I was telling the story of how someone broke into my sister’s house years ago and stole some things.

Including the vcr.

Which just happened to contain a Veggie Tales video Kevin and I had just bought for Arriel, who was all of five years old at the time. When Arriel learned that someone had stolen her Veggie Tales video she cried… Which was a natural reaction.

However, on re-telling at her school in front of dozens of her classmates it made her go a lovely shade of red. And (of course) I embellished it in just the right way to make it funny.

I have been thinking about conventions a lot lately. I have two more this year – Murder in the Grove and Bouchercon. So far I’ve been holding out on finalizing any plans for next year, but I was just asked to participate in one con, and I really want to go to that one. So, it looks like that one might just be on the list… And if all goes according to plan it will be a special one, because for the first time, Evil Kev has said he wants to come with me.

What do conventions have to do with my big mouth? Well, I moderated a panel at Left Coast Crime. And I’m moderating a panel at Murder in the Grove. Prepping is a lot of work, but there’s one great reason to moderate: You’ll never get caught unprepared by some embarrassing question from a rotten moderator...

Like me. (Robert Fate is so happy he's not on my panel this time!)

Despite the fact that I was moderating that panel at LCC I managed to embarrass myself. Someone in the audience asked who the first anti-hero we could remember was. Sam Reaves said Dirty Harry, and I said Han Solo. Okay, so I was born in the 70s, so sue me. Next person who asked a question said, “Now, for those of us who were alive in 1969…”

My sister said something stupid when she was a kid and nobody ever lets her forget it. I start thinking about panel prep and hope I can refrain from saying something stupid in front of a finite number of people, yet here I am, on my blog, saying stupid things that provide endless entertainment for others all the time. And there’s a permanent record of it.

Like, maybe it isn’t a good idea to refer to an author as ‘God’ on your blog, Sandra? That could never come back to haunt you, could it? No chance on earth he might actually read it. No no, of course not. I'll just install my 'anti-Rankin' device and he'll never be able to see a bloody word I say...


It’s become pretty much a daily event. Evil Kev comes home. I ask if he’s read my blog yet. He takes a look at me and says, “What have you done now?”

I have a sticky note in front of my desk right now. It has five sections on it, where I’ve been counting something. Evil Kev just looked at it and said, “Is that your short story?”

Me: “Uh huh.”

Evil Kev: “How many words are in your short story?”

Me: “A few thousand.”

Evil Kev: “And you’ve got that many fucks?”

See, the sections are totals for ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, ‘bitch’, ‘bastard’ and ‘ass’. I’m happy to report the story is bastard-free.... But not so fuck-free. Not even close to fuck-free.

Someone suggested if I could remove the colourful language I might be able to get this story published. I’m trying to figure out if it’s feasible.

The other thing I’m trying to figure out is if this is life imitating art, or art imitating life. When did I get so mouthy?

Courtesy of my friend, Deletta. I think I’ve experienced every one of these…


1. You must first learn to pronounce the city name, it is: "CAL-GREE".

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00am to noon. The evening rush hour is from noon to 8:00pm. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 130 kph. On Deerfoot, you are expected to match the speed of the airplanes coming in for a landing at the airport. Anything less is considered "Wussy".

4. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Calgary now has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, Hamptons , SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's another offense that can get you shot.

7. Road construction is permanent and continuous in Calgary. Detour barrels are moved around during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting, but nothing ever gets finished, and more construction starts everyday.

8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, cats, deer, barrels, cones, cows, horses, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, garbage, squirrels, rabbits, crows, and coyotes feeding on any of these items.

9. 16th Ave, TransCanada, and “Hwy #1” are the same road.

10. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been "accidentally activated."

11. If you are in the left lane and only driving 110 in a 80-90 kph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be "flipped off" accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot.

12. For winter driving, it is advisable to wear your parka, toque, fur lined mittens and mukluks. Make sure you have a shovel, food, candle and blankets in the vehicle, as snow removal from the city streets is virtually non-existent until the spring thaw.


JamesO said...

I've got a bit of a swearing problem too. In my writing, that is.

It strikes me as odd that some publications object to profanity in the stories they buy, whilst at the same time urging their writers to greater authenticity and realism. Don't these people ever talk to anyone? Or even just stand in a public place and listen to people talking? Profanity is everywhere - it's the grease that oils most conversation.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I know what you mean. I understand there are people who don't want to read it, but I would wager most of us are more concerned with authentic language than anything else.

And I'm really not sure I can do anything with this one.

Anonymous said...

I travel to Calgary for work a fair bit and I think I peed my pants I laughed so hard.

Anonymous said...

After my road trip I can attest to the Calgary Rules but Edmonton was as bad and Vancouver...fergetboutit.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Eileen, they gave me a good laugh as well! I remember saying to someone coming out here once, 'Don't let the name Deerfoot Trail fool you. It's not a trail. It's a multi-lane race track.'

Sand Storm, you'd best wait three years before returning to Edmonton because once you've criticized the locals you become a gang target. You have to wait until the present batch gets killed off so the new crews have forgotten.

And Vancouver can be atrocious. I used to live in New Westminster, and could see the Port Man bridge from my place. Don't miss driving there.

JamesO said...

Ah, the joys of rural Wales. Another car on the road? Quick, phone the newspapers!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Very funny James!

Anonymous said...

I f**king agree. I think these f**king b**t**ds can go f**k themselves if they f**king don't this kind of f**king language. F**king a**holes, can't handle a little f**king swearing? Stupid b**t**ds!

Sandra Ruttan said...

And instead of 'stick it in the eye' it should definitely be 'stick it up their ass'.

Well, now we all know how I got so mouthy. I was corrupted through marriage. ;)

Jack Ruttan said...

Holden Caulfield is the first anti-hero I can think of. But then, there's Robin Hood.

Calgary driving's civilised cmopared to Montreal. At least there, pedestrians have right of way, rather than being considered targets.

The concept of "Veggie Tales" sounds insane to me. But I was brought up in Alberta, and while there, never understood why it was called the "Bible Belt," even as I was going skiiing with my "Highway to Christ" group (known as "Hi-C") and doing other religious things which don't relate to my life right now.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, yeah, Robin Hood. I didn't think of him Jack.

As for Veggie Tales, tune in tomorrow. I may be able to explain...