Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I'm not that depressed!

Here I am, mouse-clicking away as I do research - yep, that's right, research - for an upcoming evening of murder and mayhem I'm planning. I'm filling in my graph, checking it twice, and notice that I don't have a time-frame for the effects of cyanide to take hold.

Well, how hard can it be to find that on the web? I type "cyanide poisoning time death" into the trusty old search engine, and presto, up pops the first of zillions of sites.

Being a simple person, I click on the first button. Hello!
Certainty: very certain
Notes: It helps to have an empty stomach (since the salts react with the stomach acids to form H.C.). A full stomach can delay death for up to four hours with the salts...

Being a bit of an idiot, it takes me a minute to realize that, yup, I'm really reading what I think I'm reading.

And it doesn't stop at cyanide. Check this one out:

Dosage: 14 litres mentioned
Time: 12 hours or so?
Available: always available
Certainty: unknown
Notes: works by washing out the salts in your body, until the cells fail (osmotic balance buggered up). You need to keep drinking continually until you collapse. Unusual method. Someone suggested it would also cause cramps. The following is something from [2]: "About a year ago a local newspaper carried a story about a woman who had drunk herself to death. Apparently she had ingested something mildly poisonous, and when she called her doctor asking him what to do, he told her to drink lots of water and see him in the morning. She got to it and managed to drink no less than 14 litres of water before the osmotic balance in her body was so upset it could no longer function and she died (don't know how quickly)".

The above anecdote originally came from me, and the death described occured in Växjö, Sweden. Unfortunately I no longer remember which newspaper I saw it in.

Recently, I was told about a similar case in San Antonio. It supposedly happened a couple of years ago and was reported in the local San Antonio Express/News.

Death by drinking water. God, shoot me now. Can you imagine? After all that liquid consumption the person keels over and the muscles relax and... well, the clean underwear granny always said to wear will meet their end as well. Why do people say to wear clean underwear in case you get run over by a bus? Uh, nothing you're wearing will be very clean afterwards. The things that make you shake your head...

But getting back to the point of this rant, I just want to state publicly, for the record, that I was just doing research. If I keel over and die suddenly, it was probably the evil cat and I don't want him to get any of the insurance money. No diamond-studded collars for the little vampire.

Double wahoo and WTF?

Ah, our tedious little federal government has fallen at last. Yep, that's right, a Christmas campaign. I wonder if that means personalized Christmas cards from all the contenders? I do recall a few years back my sister got a nasty one with Jean Chretien plastered** amongst the holly. Scared the bejeebers out of me.

So, not only will we have egg nog and merriment, we'll have campaign promises along with all the festive cheer. Goody. And since it sounds like a January election date, that means we'll probably freeze our butts off trudging out in the middle of a blizzard and with our fingers vibrating like a chandelier in an earthquake, I'm not sure we'll even have the motor control to mark the box we're after.

Man, I'm so anxious for the feds to catch up with modern technology and have a remodelled pay-per-view system where we can just click a button to pick which clowns we want to watch the most from the comfort of our own couch.

And it's snowing. Oh, my dogs are so happy. Now, if only I can teach them to shovel all 230 feet of sidewalk we've got around our place...

And, in the WTF category, well, I read mail that is received by a magazine. So, yesterday, there’s this long letter outlining in detail the process of creating this elaborate story. I kid you not, the letter is like five pages long and I have to wonder if the writer knows the magazine publishes short stories. I mean, if the query is longer than the guidelines for the stories generally published how long is the actual story? Is it like an anthology of stories all on its own? Buy 1 get 20 installments?

Plus, the writer just sent this loooooooonnnnnggg outline. The writer didn’t ask if the magazine wanted to read this story. Didn’t ask if the magazine thought this idea had merit. The writer just told us about it. I really want to write back and say, “So?” but I’d get my ass kicked. The editor is so fussy about crap like that.

** This is not a comment about how much he’d been drinking, though he looked pretty relaxed for a politician. Must have been the pay-offs from the sponsorship scandal.****
**** Oh, sorry. Our politicians would never do anything wrong. That’s what Mr. Martin keeps saying. I must try harder to remember that.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

too invested is your own opinion

There are moments when I haven't got a bloody clue why I subscribe to some internet groups.

Okay, this one in particular (which shall remain unnamed) is one I'd been harped on for well over a year to read before I finally signed up. And every now and again there's a nugget amongst the multitude of posts made each day.

But more often than not, there's just a lot of crap.

One person doesn 't like one book or series. Fine, fine. But beware the onslaught of defenders who will overwhelm the thing with the same opinion of their own, stated again and again and again.

Geez, WTF can't we have different opinions?

I mean, first one I read today says, "Series writers take note!" at the end, like a warning - in this case, the writer inferring that if your protagonist isn't giddy at the end, you're a crappy writer. Or a bad storyteller. Just plain not worth reading more from.

Who the hell appointed this guy the fiction god and said he gets to state what should and shouldn't be published, where writers should and shouldn't go with their stories? And it's not just this one poster - it's the tone of the whole thing some days. Some of these people should have a programmed key for the phrase, "I disagree so you're a complete idiot."

Surely someone will track this down and criticize me for expressing my opinion. Fine, but at least I'm not subjecting hundreds of people to it. Nobody made you come here. This isn't a subscription service. I'm not so arrogant as to type up the response that I think some of the posts on that unnamed group merit today and foist it upon everyone via the group.

Guess this is a classic example of how everything has a good and a bad side. I'm just glad that all **** people who subscribe to the thing don't feel the need to bang everyone over the head with their petty opinions about one specific writer, happy endings versus sad endings and the use of directions within the story.

No wonder some genre writers are marginalized. By spouting off formula after formula requirement for absolute satisfaction, they're marginalizing themselves.

(And as a fan of Rankin, MacBride, Kernick, McDermid and Billingham and the great tv show The Wire, I'm quite fine with endings that are a little depressing. I don't read books about murder and 'sin' to make me feel warm and fuzzy. Kudos to Laura Lippman for making me cry with her latest - clearly, that book resonated with me to evoke such a response.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And Miss Popular is... still Aunt Sandra

My sister always said there'd be a day when friends would be more important to the kids than anybody else. Now that my niece is in junior high, I figure pretty soon I'll have to present an ID card when I go to the house so she knows who I am.

But not yet!

I asked her if she'd play a role in a little drama. Usually, a guaranteed yes. This time: "Well, when do you want me?"

"It starts at 7 so I'll pick you up around 4:30 and take you out for dinner." Usually, the nail in the coffin. An evening, with me, dinner to boot and no little brother tagging along. What more could a girl want.

"Um, well, that's when the party is."

Party? Hello, on a school night? And what party could possibly outshine the prospect of spending an evening with me and a bunch of mystery writers?

Nope, not a boy, not even a school friend. The kid next door. The much younger kid next door. I mean, like that can compare.

So, being gracious, I tell her it's up to her. So she asks exactly what it is I want her to do.

"Well, you're going to dress up as @!X%#@! and have a small part to play and then somebody is going to murder..."
"I get murdered?"
"Well, not for real."
"Cool! Okay, yeah, I'll do it!"

And I didn't even mention the fact that there'd be food and festivities to follow.

Good to know some people just can't resist the chance to get offed at a Christmas party.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Feel it in your bones

When I was a kid, I thought it was odd when old people talked about feeling the weather changing in their bones.

Now, I'm the old one who knows when a Chinook wind is on the way, or the temperature is about to plummet. Recurring knee injuries sensitive to changes in air pressure or whatever will do that to you, I guess.

And then there are these times when something happens and it should upset you or get you down, but it doesn't. And then something else happens, and you think maybe this is where it all begins. Maybe this is the thing you've been waiting for.

You never really know until it happens, I guess. Someone once told me 'every no is one no closer to a yes.' Sort of presumes the yes is a certainty and puts the focus on the journey. Maybe instead of chaffing at the bit to see results I should just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And the insane become...


"Such a frustrated reaction to the story suggests someone unaccustomed to insubordination. His profession might be dictatorial in nature, with complete control over his underlings, a management executive or a foreman or maybe a writer." - Frank Black

"A writer wants his works to affect people. You'd prefer the effect not be expressed by death threats, but beggars can't be choosers." - Jose Chung

- Millenium, Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense

I'll bear that in mind the next time I send something to an agent. If they write back that reading any more would certainly motivate them to kill me, then I guess I can take heart in the fact that my writing made an impact.

Maybe the guy who wrote the episode was a writer with some psychological issues - kind of a self-love, self-hate thing going on. That could explain a lot.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy Huskies

Yesterday Mother Nature was out to get me.

It rained.

Which severely pissed off my huskies.

You'd think they'd go into the doghouse. That custom-built 6'x4'x4' wonder of a shelter that we slaved over. Heck, even the over-priced store-bought doghouse that occupies their space would be better than sitting out in the rain. But no. Sit they did, until they were equal parts of mud and fur and looked quite unhappy with the way their time outside was shaping up.

So I decided to bring them inside, which is usually an uneventful process. But not yesterday. Nope. The rain is pelting down - a cruel hoax of the weather gods because after all, it is November, and this is Canada...Rain? WTF? - and this is when the dogs decide to help me get back to the house in a hurry. Chinook twists around and starts running behind me while I'm trying to hold on to his collar and Nootka lunges forward. The end result? I look something like a pretzel as I land on my ass in the mud.

To make matters worse, it's like those dogs know what they did. Bearing in mind that they're now facing opposite directions and one is on each side of me, I'm getting licked by Nootka and whipped in the face with Chinook's tail.

I finally get them inside and they're grinning at me. Evil dogs.

And, as though Mother Nature had only been waiting until I had to peel off the mud-caked jeans, as soon as I go upstairs it has started to snow.

Which has undoubtedly pissed off a lot of other people. But the snow has made my huskies very happy.

If there's a lesson in there, it's this. Leave the dogs out in the rain.

And the moral would be that your misfortune is cause for someone else's celebration.