I bought something for my computer and it will not work.

So. Christmas.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway: I had a really good time. We started in Chilliwack, where we were spoiled by Lisa's parents for a few days. Even Lisa's granny, visiting from Toronto, was there to celebrate the holiday with us. My gifts are too numerous to list here, but Santa was definitely paying attention this year.

We then made our way to the cabin in Sooke. Although it rained off and on while we were there, we did get to relax and not be bothered by phone calls or deadlines. The cabin in nestled along the shore of the Sooke Harbour, with a clear view of the mountains in Washington State. I did a little impromptu bird-watching, read and dreamed about my thirtieth birthday. I actually went ice skating too; I fell down only once, much to the delight of the locals. One would think being born a Canadian, we come out with a pair of skates lashed to our chubby feet. Of course, if such a phenomena existed, it would surely explain the declining birthrate in this country.

I do intend to observe some New Year's resolutions this year. I know some folks think the idea of imposing personal change on oneself just because a single day tells us to is nonsense, but some of the positive changes in my life are a direct result of resolutions. The "no eating meat" thing I got going, for instance.

If anything, I vow to treat everyone I know with a year's subscription to witty and insightful commentary. Enjoy.


Concerns and such.

This entry is more of a warm-up for more writing this afternoon. We drove into Chilliwack on Tuesday evening, and I've been taking it easy since then. Yesterday, when I stepped outside, I watched the thick fog lift itself off the mountains, revealing the tall, dark evergreens growing along the slopes.

I read somewhere that when you're editing or producing your play, you should be working on another one. I did just that. I had an idea awhile ago, and I wrote some notes months ago and last night I sketched out the first scene. As always, I'm reluctant to reveal anything over the intrawebs, except for one detail I don't mind slipping out: I'm really interested in Grand Guignol. Look it up.

I hope this whole "don't say anything in public" doesn't make me sound like a conceited jerk. I'm a nobody. I've written a little over the years, but nobody knows my name. That being said, I've heard horror stories about writers or other creators having their non-copyrighted material being swiped by less scrupulous writers and claiming it as their own. It happens. And since I'm a nobody, if one one day I actually come up with a decent idea then it'll be extraordinarily simple to plagiarize it. Have I written about this before?

So I'll be writing this afternoon and later we have to go out and do some shopping.


This may be boring, but I'm happy.

I love it when everything falls into place. Our garbage situation is under control (a raccoon tore through the garbage bag outside and we keep forgetting to take the garbage and recycling outside in the morning. The trash strewn around on our back porch is cleaned up and everything was taken away by our friendly neighbourhood sanitation engineers), our Gmail accounts are back up and our internet connection has returned. Christmas shopping is done, banking is done and now I'm ready to take the rest of the day off, because I'm done. Oh, and I discovered The Engine. Happy days.

I'll be updating now and again.


Working towards something here.

We finished up our Christmas shopping today - yeah, exciting. I'll be shopping for Lisa tomorrow while the aforementioned lady will be hunting out small gifts to fill out the bigger items.

The script is going well, but I might've been too ambitious thinking I could get it workshopped over the holiday. I'll be happy just to have finished another edit. Funny thing, writing a script. Every line has to count, I can't toss in a flat-sounding line just to provoke a character to say something interesting. There are always opportunities to sustain tension throughout a scene, and I pointed out some scenes that really need that kind of treatment. There are some books in my library related to my play I'm going to dig through.

I feel like reviewing.

Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan

Tasty. That is the word I use to describe Seth Fisher's artwork. His work on the Legends of the Dark Knight story was a tremendous feat, including half-page panels crammed with pain-staking details without the cluster and confusion. Think Geoff Darrow but with a rounder, fuller linework and a softer palette. Very cartoony. Big in Japan is no exception, only this time the colours are lush and bright, and Fisher takes advantage of some of manga's conventions, like exaggerated features and so forth. The artwork works well with a story that is crafted like a classic FF story - a sci-fi parable that twists around like an eggnog-induced hallucination.

B.P.R.D.: The Black Flame

When I first saw Paul Pope's upcoming work on a Batman story, I totally mistook him for Guy Davis. That's actually a good thing - they may be similar, so that means they have the same strengths, right? Mike Mignola wrote, and it's great, etc. No, no, it's good. "The Black Flame" reminds me of, uh, I don't know, Doctor Doom? Some classic Marvel villain? Stephen Harper? Who knows. The funny thing is, I kind of like him. His menacing appearance suits the wide panels throughout the comic, but I would like to see some variety now and then, like smaller panels highlighting details during conversations. Anyhoo, it's kind of an epic story, so having a larger-than-life villain is fine, just fine.


A poem comes alive, part five.

Glenn Gould
comes back to life,
buys a grape soda
from a corner store,
one with a green aluminum
awning over the door.

he calls up the radio
station (CBC I think)
from a phone booth, bells
ring in the grey air as
he sips soda, bending
the pull-top back
and forth.

Hm. I don't know about this one.

Anyway, I'm about to check out an art show featuring a performance from Jason. I only have an inkling of what to except, although I've been told it involves an arrow.

I'm setting deadlines and continuing to edit. I think having time off is a crime.


What is knowledge?

Looking back on my first semester of university, I finally see that academia has its pitfalls. The irritating, convoluted bureaucracy, the Machiavellian politics and lackluster professors still plague universities. To be honest, there are times when I'm not entirely looking forward to being a teaching assistant in the future, but the bright spots in my academic career totally negates that feeling. Whenever I chat with the TA's or the profs about fascinating topics, or read something that forces me to pause and ponder over the text for days or simply wandering around the campus and admiring the buildings choked with ivy, I remember why I write and think and tutor. I'm connecting with over 500 years of tradition, of the basic human desire to understand ourselves and the world around us, because once we know ourselves we open the door to the rest of world, even the universe.

Sorry, I didn't exactly answer the question I posed.

PS: My English exam went really well! I'm proud of myself for remembering the fancy-shmancy terms and using then appropriately, but most of all, I'm really proud that I tackled metrical structure in the essay.

Oh, hey, check this out: if you Google (since when is Google a verb?) "Mr. Body Massage Machine Go," and you must include the quotation marks, my blog entry from last year is the first hit. It's the title for the post. Creeeepy.


Short, like daylight in winter.

So, not much to say. The linguistics final went well - I flubbed a couple of lines but my esteemed colleague filled in the details I missed. It's funny watching profs be themselves when they're not wearing the teacher face, joking around and flailing about like a frightened fish at the bottom of a rowboat. Our poster had a clean design to it: uncluttered text and strong visuals.

Not bad for a presentation at 8:30 in the morning.

I'm putting my house in order for the rest of the day. Try to get some more editing done, prepare my notes for the English exam and watch some Firefly. I really want to get some more gaming in and snowshoe as much as possible. Lisa wants to cross-country ski, which I'm terrible at, but I'm willing to re-learn walking up and down hills in skis.

With the federal government in a small degree of turmoil, the atmosphere seems a little electric, doesn't it?

Above, the view from my office in late autumn.


The first X-mas expedition, some drama.

We just got back from doing some Christmas shopping. We did really well on our first expedition, keeping within our budget and cruising the stores for something that might stand out for us. For years, I was terrible at giving gifts. Either they were, well, inadequate to say the least, or I simply didn't buy anything at all. Nowadays I'm more than happy (although at times reluctant) to cut a swath through the belligerent, salivating Christmas shoppers to pluck holiday gifts from perfumed stores. There is something about being immersed in a crowd, as though I'm part of something much grander than my own mundane concerns.

Yes, I know, Christmas is overly commericalized, blah, blah, etc. When I'm eating Christmas dinner with my family then settling into the couch with some eggnog, the last thing on my mind is how miserable the world is. I know the world sucks sometimes, but my heart needs a break. Just seeing families being together means more to me than people's childish posturing.

Looked over the play yesterday and started editing today. Yeah, a bit of work this one. I really need to establish the characters' motivations, and untangle some condensed dialogue. At times, the character's leap from one topic to the next like rabbits, with no logic behind the shifts. I'll keep working.

Keepin' on, keepin' on.


This I know.

I forgot to include this - some ideas for future research.

1. Doing a in-depth analysis of Marx's position on poverty and how the poor fit into his theory. I already know a quick and fast answer, but I want to collect all I can and go over the text myself.

2. Reevaluating Marx's quantitative data and overall methodology.

3. A research question: why is anarchist literature not discussed in conjunction with Marxist theory, especially those written prior to or during Marx's time? Historically, Marx's debates with notable anarchists like Bakunin (Marx's rival, actually) should be addressed. I'm not arguing that anarchist literature should be included, I only want to know why it is not included.

Relating Simmel to this question: our task is not to condone or condemn, but to understand.

I don't know anymore.

So the study group meeting was a success. After four hours of preparation - that included a trip to the Oversized Office Supply Depot - the poster, which will be used as a visual guide when we present the article, is trimmed and pasted as though it were forged by Galactus himself.

Besides that, I checked out daypacks at MEC and I wasn't impressed.

I'll be writing all week.


For the record, Julia was also a member of our snowshoe expedition.

Management apologizes for this oversight. These things happen.


Stuff to keep me busy.

Did I tell you all I had fun yesterday?

Lisa, Jess, Julianna and I drove (courtesy of Julianna, thanks again!) out to Cypress to get some snowshoeing done. When I woke up that morning the snow was coming down in thick, soft flakes - just the sight of them got me stoked to climb up a mountain. I haven't used my gear in awhile, so finding things like a compass or a headlamp or whatever else was a chore.

The hill was getting crowded when we got there, but luckily it was mostly cross-country skiing folks, leaving the snowshoe trails relatively empty. The tall trees were coated with snow, and parts of the trails were bookended by large snow banks. There were times when I had to run up the trail or march into a snowbank. We visited the hut and Lisa and I had coffee, chili and a muffin while we watched the falling snowflakes get thicker.

Hauling out my gear, driving out to a mountain and fooling around in the snow has ignited my love of hiking and climbing. I was thinking of heading over to Mountain Equipment Coop to get a new daypack (I know X-mas is coming, but I asked for a new backpack for school - okay, I'm a little greedy, I know) today after I do some dishes and return movies. Lisa and I will be taking in a matinee.

This is my first day off school. It is lovely. I will have to meet my linguistics study group tomorrow and study for my English exam (open book, wOOt!) but that's about it. I do have some writing chores, though. Submit some stuff to magazines, get the play workshopped (finally!) and find out if the student journal is taking any of my two short stories.



I'm currently at a cafe trying to finish up this critique for linguistics. It's only one, well-developed paragraph, but I'm a little sick of writing for school.

And, time permitted, I will try to make it a classmate's performance at the Chan Centre on campus. I really want to go, but my life is becoming exceedingly complex with school work and the burning desire to take it easy after my first semester of university.

Last night I was at a house party in the middle of the nowhere. That's not fair. The house is situated on the border between New Westminster and Burnaby - technically on the cusp of nowhere.

I'm waiting for Lisa and Jess to show up. The paragraph will be done.

Here's my plans for the holidays: do some snowshoeing and hiking, catch up on my reading, prepare a budget for next semester, do some Christmas shopping with Lisa and see some friends. We might be hosting a holiday potluck, kind of like what we had last year but with more food (potluck, see?) and more people.

Lisa is here. Later


It's hard to talk.

Another hour before the workshop. I have to admit, I'm getting a little nervous. Probably because I'm afraid of looking nervous in front of the students and no one wants to listen to a facilitator trying to keep vomit from rising up his throat. It's hard to talk with throw-up in your mouth.

Hand-outs? Check.
Prepared notes? Check.
A loose structure for the hour? Check.
Whiskey? With ice, please.

I will be Voltron for the next two hours. Oh, I may look vunerable with just five robotic lions. But when the eleventh hour comes creeping up, I will combine my mechanical felines and form an unstoppable force of paragraph structure and time management. Somewhere in the back row an inhuman growl fills the room. I draw an oversized sword from out of thin air. Silence strikes the room. A hideous, tentacled monstrosity leaps into the air. In one grand motion, I sever test anxiety in half - the two putrid chunks fall to the floor with a heavy thump.