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Thursday, December 28, 2006

HNT - Best of 2006

The theme for this week's HNT post is supposed to be my favourite HNT picture from the past 12 months. Despite the fact that I had a great time throughout the year and think I offered many fun HNT posts over the past year, it was easy for me to settle on this picture.

This picture from the "Darth Tater Unmasked" post was the very first picture in the whole "Darth Tater" series of HNT posts that I ended up taking several months to unravel. I was fooling around one day and decided to post this on a whim, never realizing how long I would end up stretching out the joke and the storyline. It represents, for me, adapting HNT into a little something fun that allowed me to become creative and hopefully keep a small handful of people out there entertained with the continuing story.

For anyone curious to see the entire story, you can find links to each of the episodes here. (The "Spud Wars" episodes are indicated)

To my HNT friends out there -- thanks for stopping by each Thursday, thanks for being a pal, and a very Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Brooklyn Christmas Tale

I like to think that I always look for the brighter side of things in life. Take this past week, for example. I could have been frustrated with the fact that I was hacking up blood and stuck inside the house and away from family during the holidays. But while it wasn't all that pleasant, there was a brighter side to it.

I had time to read this book I'd started about a week ago -- one I bought last year and which I'd been waiting until Christmas time to read. Denis Hamill's Empty Stockings (A Brooklyn Christmas Tale).

Like all of the other Denis Hamill books I have read, this was a great read -- the characters and setting were strong and vibrant. And the story was a touching one. The novel takes place in 1963 and starts on the day that JFK was shot, following the struggles of a fourteen year old boy living with his family in a tenement apartment in Brooklyn. Dreaming of growing up and becoming a sports writer for a daily newspaper, Rory Maguire is trying to support the family with a part-time job at a local butcher since his father's accident which has cost him his job, his ability to walk and his dignity.

This is a poignant and heart-warming tale. Hamill is a brilliantly gifted storyteller who brings home the urban Irish-American experience wonderfully in this novel which I plan on reading again and again each December.

So, sure, I'm a bit miffed that I spent the holidays under the weather. But at least I had the comfort of a wonderful book to help fill the hours.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Offering A Simple Phrase

Shhh . . . browse and click quiety. Of all nights, this is the one where we should all be sure to get to bed early. After all, Santa has a lot of work to do, so let's give him as much of the night as possible to get it done in.

Goodnight, and Merry Christmas to you. Peace on Earth, good will toward all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Possible Side Effects

I've been diagnosed with Pertussis (AKA Whooping Cough) which has kept me off work for the past couple of days. I know this might sound silly, but I actually like work and am disappointed not to be there right now. Now don't get me wrong, I love taking vacation -- but I hate being off work when I have planned several important things to do during the last week days -- being unable to accomplish them is as disappointing as being sick. I guess it could be worse, I could be sick during vacation (which I will be on during the Christmas break)

Yesterday my doctor gave me a prescription for Sandoz-Azithromycin (damn, I wish that name wasn't already taken, because I was planning on naming a character that in my next novel) -- and I started taking it yesterday.

I'm a bit worried about the side effects, though. Apparently some of the possible side effects this medication might cause are: diarrhea, stomach ache, nausea and vomiting and vaginitis.

Now the first four I can deal with. I mean, a sip of Pepto-Bismol will take care of those nicely.

But vaginitis? How the heck am I going to treat that when I don't even have a vagina? Oh man. I'm just not ready for this . . .

Thursday, December 21, 2006

HNT - Gifts of the HNTer

As per directives from the great and powerful Os -- the illustrious and good of heart founder of the HNT blog movement -- we are to abandon the half naked shots of ourselves this week in favour of picking three HNT members that we don't know all that well, researching a bit about them and then offering them some Christmas gifts.

I had a blast last year while doing this, and similarly enjoyed the task again this year (although I couldn't resist a nekkid ornament reflection picture this week) -- it's always great to take the time to try to get to know someone better.

This year, I picked three HNT folks whom I don't know very well (ie, we've never exchanged emails or much more than the occasional comment on each other's blogs, usually on Thursdays), but I enjoyed spending more time reading their blogs to learn more about them and would like to offer them the following Christmas wishes.

BTExpress

My gift to Tony would be a lucrative publishing contract from a major publisher like Random House to tell his autobiography, particularly about his experiences in Vietnam as well as what it is like to lose a spouse of over 30 years and then to re-discover joy and love. Combined with this contract would be an extensive tour to do book signings in every major city in North America -- so that he and Lori can enjoy traveling together. His last stop, of course, would be in Hamilton, Ontario at the bookstore where I work so that we can sit down together after the book signing and enjoy a toast.

Chelle


My gift to Michelle would be for the city in which she lives to throw a huge birthday bash for her on her birthday (Dec 31st) that rivals the giant festivities that go along with the Dick Clark event in Times Square. Friends from all over the country and world would, of course, be flown in for this event to surprise her. At this party her workplace would announce that to help ensure she continues to feel special for the rest of the year, they will be providing Tim Horton's coffee for free to all staff. (So that the rest of the people she works with can understand the addiction to this coffee that many Canadians deal with on a daily basis)

Cosima Underwater

My gift to Cosima Underwater would be an extended family travel pass that involves 4 months of traveling by rail across Europe and Asia with her family. Also provided for the trip would be digital cameras for her as well as for her entire family. That way, once the voyage is over, they can enjoy looking at the different photos that each of them ended up taking while on the trip, and she can enjoy the trip again and again, through shared memories and the images that each person in the family decided to capture while visiting different places.


And, breaking from the rules a bit, I'd also like to offer a gift to the great and powerful Osbasso as a way of saying thank you Scott, for using blogs and this weekly ritual to help bring people together -- not just at Christmas time but through-out the year. You've helped to make the world smaller and a bit closer. I'd like to gift you with the chance to tour throughout the world with your band and thus get a chance to meet in person so many of the bloggy folks who you've made a positive difference for over the years.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tracking A Christmas Meme

I've been delighted to find many folks having a good time with the Silly Christmas Lyric Meme, and am now wishing I'd named it "Cousin Eddie's Silly Christmas Lyric Meme" or something more fun than using my own name -- but I'm rather enjoying all the different songs people are chatting about on their blogs.

Here's a sampling of the Silly Christmas Lyric Meme offerings out there -- at least the ones I've been able to find following tags and posts. Check them out:


  • Franny
  • Rainy Pete
  • This Is Me
  • Osbasso
  • Velvet Girl
  • Heartinsanfrancisco
  • Holli Lama
  • Lime

    If you've played along and your link isn't listed here, flip me an email or leave a comment and I'll add it. :)


  • Monday, December 18, 2006

    Getting Published Episode 3

    The third episode in the "Getting Published With Mark Leslie" reality series on Paula B's The Writing Show is now available for download, as is yet another sample of my novel is progress "A Canadian Werewolf in New York"

    Within the episode, Paula and I discuss the detailed commentary about the first several chapters of the novel sent in by reviewer and Writing Show guest host Mick Halpin. Click on Mick's name to go to his website where you can read more of his wonderful "free of rules" reviews.

    In this podcast you can also hear me say "vampire" instead of "werewolf" several times in a row which makes you question who I really am. How can I call myself a horror writer when I can't even tell the difference between these two classic monsters? I mean I should know better. A werewolf is one of those transparent things that hang out in creepy old mansions and float around and say "boo" -- right?

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    I Got Them ALL Cut

    Alexander, 2 and a half years old, finally got his first haircut today. It's not that we were being cheap or too busy to get to it or anything. It's just that, unfortunately, like his father, he hasn't been all that good at growing the stuff. Sure there were a few flyaway tufts of hair on the back of his head and partially with his bangs, but for the most part there just wasn't all that much to cut for the longest time.

    It was, of course, a big event, with all of us going, Daddy with camera in hand.
















    Linda, the hair dresser was pretty accomodating of the fact that we made such a big deal about it. I wonder if the dentist, next week, will be so flexible when I set up the three camera tripods and lighting fixtures to record that event.

    Friday, December 15, 2006

    Luxury Flannel Sheets

    I know it's not very manly to admit this, but I've always enjoyed the winter months when Francine gets out the flannel sheets for our bed. It's just so cozy.

    But even less manly of me now is the fact that I absolutely LOVE the latest sheets she has bought. They're called luxury flannel and they're cozy and warm like flannel, yet smooth and silky at the same time. Wow. Makes it difficult to get up in the morning and leave the comfort of the bed to have a warm bubble bath then put on my silk dressing gown my bunny slippers, then apply my makeup and work on my hair . . . er, I mean, it makes it difficult to get up, run a quick comb through my hair, eat a bowl of gravel for breakfast and read the sports section of the newspaper . . .

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    HNT - Francine's Christmas Fantasy

    Since Osbasso wants HNTers to showcase themselves Half Nekkid beside their Christmas tree this week, I thought I might as well let Francine hang onto the camera while she was getting an early Christmas present.

    She has this thing about liking to watch me walk around in nothing but my tool belt while working around the house; putting up the lights, painting, putting together bookshelves or, in this case, decorating the Christmas tree. Of course, I'm sure that to complete the fantasy she's imagining that I'm Kevin Costner or John Corbett, but whatever lights her tree works for me . . .

    Speaking of Christmas, I started a Christmas Lyric Meme -- check it out below and join in the fun of sharing your own personal confusion/frustration/pet peeve regarding a classic Christmas lyric.

    If you're dreaming of a half-nekkid Christmas,
    dream no more. Visit Osbasso to learn more about

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    Mark Leslie's Silly Christmas Lyric Meme

    I've always wanted to start a Meme, and of course, try to give it a title that I'd recognize as mine and see how far the thing could spread. An experiment in vanity, of course . . .

    The Rules: Pick a Christmas lyric that you've always had a question about and discuss it. Then either tag one or more people or either tag nobody and invite your readers to tag themselves and enjoy discussing the subject on their own.

    Feel free to use the "Cousin Eddie" image by copying the following code and replacing the '(' and ')' with '<' and '>' :


    (a href="http://markleslie.blogspot.com/2006/12/mark-leslies-silly-christmas-lyric.html")(img src="http://static.flickr.com/136/321235351_90abf16624_m.jpg" alt="Mark Leslie's Silly Christmas Lyric meme" /)

    The Song: The Christmas Song (by Nat King Cole)

    Lyrics In Question: "And so I'm offering this simply phrase, to kids from one to ninety-two; although it's been said many times many ways: Merry Christmas to you."

    The Comment: Nothing against Nat King Cole or the multitude of people who sing this song. I, in fact sing this song all the time. Even when it's not Christmas time. It's just a fun song, an easy tune and I find it so wonderfully relaxing.

    And I'm not even going to take the "easy one" about this song and discuss the whole politically incorrect "folks dressed up like Eskimos" -- that's a freebee for another who wants to run with it.

    But I've always been bothered a little bit by some of the lyrics. "To kids from one to ninety-two."

    What about kids that aren't yet one year old? Why haven't they been included in the Christmas wishes? I suppose when I was that age I never noticed that the singer didn't include me in his Christmas wishes, so I was never upset about it. But if I do get to live to the ripe age of 92, will I be worried that Nat King Cole and most of the others who sing this song don't include me in his Christmas wishes? Will I myself stop singing it? And how would I feel singing in a room to a group of people if there were any babies under 1 or people older than 92 there? Would I feel it necessary to stop and apologize to them that they weren't included and perhaps after finishing the song go and wish them their own unique "Merry Christmas to you" since the song didn't include them?

    Don't get me wrong, I know that to make the thing rhyme the writer had to pick an age range. But I always wondered how 1 and 92 were decided on and not something like: "from my heart and out to you....." which still rhymes and is relatively inclusive. Or perhaps to keep the "kids" motif something like: "from kids out there like me and you" (implying, like the original lyrics do that we're all kids nomatter what age)

    But maybe I worry too much about these things . . . and regardless of YOUR age: Merry Christmas to YOU!

    Tagging: Anyone who wants to play as well as Franny, Rainy Pete, Lime and Gwen. (I'm rather curious to read your takes on different Christmas lyrics)

    Tuesday, December 12, 2006

    Ahh! It's a Peeping Alex!

    I think I'm going to offer to buy a set of blinds for my neighbour's basement window.

    I'm not sure where the expression "peeping Tom" comes from (although I do have 4 or 5 books on word and phrase origins so it shouldn't be hard to look up); but a new phrase is being added to my vocabulary: "Peeping Alex!"

    It's completely innocent, of course, and cute -- but something I'll have to explain and put a stop to before he ends up embarrassing himself and the neighbours: but last night when Alexander and I were taking out the garbage, he ran over to peek in the neighbour's basement window.

    I know why he's doing it, of course. He wants to see the kids -- his little buddies next door that he spends a good part of spring and summer playing with, but who he sees very little of during the late fall and winter months (heck, I barely see my buddy Chad during the winter months -- for some strange reason we rarely stand out in our yards drinking a beer and shooting the shit when it's minus 30 or blizzard conditions).

    But I'm going to have to explain to him that it's not polite to peek in neighbours' windows. Perhaps in the same way that my buddy Pete taught me at a very young age that a person should knock on the door and not simply waltz into someone's home.

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    McDonald's Treat With Chris & Jodi

    This past Friday we headed off to the McDonald's near Slimeridge Mall for an "end of week" treat. I completely forgot that Chris and Jodi of Y108 Rocks were broadcasting live there as part of their 18 hour marathon toy drive. We quickly popped over to the nearby Toys R Us to get a toy for someone Alexander's age, then returned to McDonald's.

    In all the excitement -- watching the live broadcast and the special guests that filtered through as well as the appearance of Grimace, which Alexander was completely taken with -- little Mr. Man didn't eat quite so much as he normally does when we visit McDonald's. But it was certainly a memorable evening for all of us, and a wonderful opportunity to help share a toy that will go to a needy child.

    I was also, of course, impressed with how attractive Chris & Jodi were -- you don't usually expect radio personalities to actually be good looking, particularly not after having been working for over 14 hours by the time we saw them.

    Friday, December 08, 2006

    Pass The Prep-H, I'm a Hammeroid!

    Paul Wilson's StreetBeat column in The Hamilton Spectator recently talked about some of the slang names for Canadian cities and towns. Within it, he mentioned the organically occurring nickname for Hamilton that surface naturally: "The Hammer." This prompted readers to write in and share their own memories of when they first heard or used that term.

    One reader wrote in to say that he and his friend who used the term about 20 years ago in musician circles, jokingly called themselves Hammeroids!

    It's zany enough that it works nicely for me. Look at me, I'm a Hammeroid! It almost makes me want to sing a Simon and Garfunkel song that might go something like: "I'd rather be an ointment than a roid . . . yes I would . . ."

    But think of the wonderful possibilities -- any projects or organizations that are formed to revitalize the downtown core, for example could be called: Preparation-H -- they could do some swell work using such catchy, fitting terminology.

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    HNT - Tis The Season

    The season for celebrating with friends and family has begun. In honour of the many toasts and cheers with loved ones, and in memory of those no longer able to celebrate with us, I offer a picture that my buddy WaiJai took of me opening a bottle of Reaper Ale's Mortality Stout at my retirement celebration from Indigo.


    Pull up a chair and join me, would you? If you're not a fan of Stout, there's also wine and some nice hot apple cider available.

    Click below to visit Osbasso and learn more about HNT

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    Buffet The Vampire Slayer

    Last night we attended my sister-in-law's 40th birthday party at Mandarin, a decidedly popular and yummy Chinese buffet. (Okay, she's technically not my sister-in-law. She's my brother-in-law's wife. But doesn't that make her a sister-in-law? What's the proper term then? And if the proper term is too damn wordy, why CAN'T I call her my sister-in-law?)

    Alexander enjoyed his first visit to a buffet, and despite the fact that he'd had an early supper at home, he still wolfed down quite a bit of food (he was most excited to see slices of watermelon on the desert table). On the way to the restaurant I was teaching him how to say "Happy Birthday" (he says "Happy" really well, but the word kind of faded into nothing when he got to "Birthday") and also explained that we were going to a buffet and what it meant. (To me, of course, it means half a dozen trips back up to ensure I've sampled every single offering, and then sitting back and opening my belt to make room for the engorged stomach)

    He kept repeating the word "buffet" all night, but of course, he said it as: "Buffy" -- as in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But it would make a nice spoof, wouldn't it? Buffet The Vampire Slayer. A spoof of a spoof featuring Mandarin employees cooking and serving during the day, but after the restaurant closes, combining forces to fight the undead.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    But The Lights Are So Delightful

    We had our first major snow dump of the season yesterday, and might I say: "About freakin' time -- after the 3 days of heavy rain last week, which should have been snow, dammit! In December it's supposed to snow, not rain."

    Heck, from where I grew up, many many miles north of here, in November it's supposed to snow, too. And I even remember a year or two when there was snow before Halloween . . . but of course that goes back about 25 years in the whole global warming thing that we're killing our planet with.

    But in any case, we got a nice dumping of snow yesterday. Alexander delighted in joining me in shoveling the driveway, and, of course, just standing there and staring in awe at the giant white beautiful flakes as they floated down from the sky. (I sometimes feel like the easily excitable Tattoo, the little guy played by Herve Villechaize in Fantasy Island. But instead of running excitedly into the house shouting "Boss, Boss, da plane, da plane!" I usually run into the house yelling: "Fran, Fran, da snow, da snow!")

    But one of the best things about snow is the way that the Christmas lights look. No matter how good they might look when you first put them up, they finally look just right in the presence of snow.

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    NaNoMore

    Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo. My word count for November 30th was about 1200 words. When I was writing during the month (far far less than I'd originally planned on, during my promise made as a guest on Paula B's The Writing Show reality series "Getting Published With Mark Leslie") I was usually able to squeeze out half an hour to 45 minute writing sessions into my early mornings. I was averaging anywhere between 800 and 1800 words during each session, but only managed to fit a few of those sessions in, and mostly during the last week of NaNoWriMo.

    I ended at just about 12,000 words.



    Yes, it was a great deal less than I'd been planning on. And I could use all kinds of excuses such as extra hours spent at work, a funeral in the family as well as several incidents involving loved-ones in hospital, as well as trying to fight off a cold -- but I won't. As often happens to a writer, I sacrificed writing time for family time and I don't regret a single moment of that.

    Besides, when I look at the grander picture of where I am with "A Canadian Werewolf in New York", I've got 12,000 words more than I did before I made the public commitment and the first draft of the novel now sits at about 34,000 words. (I've set 80,000 words as a low end goal for the first draft -- a bit short for a novel, but it's a ballpark figure for me. It might go another 10,000 words, but I'll let the course of the writing dictate that rather than an arbitrary "a novel is x words" belief dictate that.)



    Not only that, but the attempt to focus on the novel during November, thanks to the good folks at NaNoWriMo, the inspiration of my local Hamilton area NaNoWri-pals -- several of whom far surpassed their own 50,000 word goals -- congrats to you ALL! -- as well as Paula B's encouragement and support has allowed me to press forward past an early hump in the novel that I was having trouble getting past and likely while I had shelved the project for so long. (Common situation I find where I know where I am now in a story, and know where I want to be after another 10,000 words or so, but not so sure what happens within those 10,000 words) -- so I'm past that, and have some momentum working for me.

    Yes, I slept in today to catch a bit more sleep (still fighting off that tickley, scratchy sore throat and winning the battle so far), but tomorrow morning I'll be back at it again, likely in another small burst of 800 to 1600 words or so.

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    HNT - Pat The Marky

    I'm reading a lot of children's literature to my son lately, and rather enjoying it. There are some books, however, even tremendously popular books that make me pause and think again about what they are.

    There's this cute series of books called "Pat The Bunny" that my son really enjoys -- there's this adorable little bunny critter featured in all of them and the books are produced with a bit of fluff sticking out of the book inviting you to pat his tummy. It's cute, and fun. And of course, there's physical stimulation where the child can actually feel as if they might be petting a bunny. (Some of the great touch and feel books I've read to Alexander cover a variety of textures and are great ways for a parent to share, discuss and explore basic textural concepts such as smooth, rough, wrinkly, shiny with a child)

    But I just can't get past the very rude location of the fluff on the bunny's tummy. I actually find it a bit disturbing. But it does make me wonder what an adult version of such a series of books might look like -- all that I know is it's not so cute, not so pretty . . . behold, Pat The Marky . . .



    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    I Was Coffeeing While Writing This

    An interesting topic came up in The Writing Show's November newsletter. Paula B pondered the "to verb or not to verb" concept in relation to the "verb everything" trend that seems to be taking over.

    Verbing (see I'm doing it right there), is taking a noun and mutating it into a verb -- it's often just as simple as adding "ing" to the word. One of the more popular examples of what Paula is talking about is the phrase "googling" -- To google something generally means to look it up online by typing the keywords into google.com (or google.ca if you prefer) and hitting the search button.

    While I abuse the English language regularly (you often hurt those you love the most), I like to think of myself of in-line with language purists. I mean, my blood pressure rises when I see simple things like people using "their" and "there" incorrectly or more commonly the misuse of "your" and "you're" -- never mind the complete lack of basic grammatic principles in email and other online-based forums where one can string words together.

    But there's something admirable and a bit thrilling about seeing a language mutate, develop and evolve. I can imagine sitting down with my grand-kids one day and saying: "Yes, my little ones, I was there when the term "googling" was first coined. And I remember clearly those days when the Bushification of the American dollar kept the Canadian dollar at its all-time high for years after George Dubya left office." (Bushification might very well be an economic term we use in the distant future in place of such words as "decimation" or "destruction" -- it's much more exciting than Reganomics)

    While I'm poking fun at the whole concept, I do have to admit that seeing a language evolve (or devolve as the purist side of my mind wants to say) is terrifying. To that end, I have to look for positive things in it. Here's one. I can also see "verbing" nouns to allow the ability to describe multiple actions in a single word. Such as the phrase: "I was coffeeing while writing this." To coffee can be either the act of making coffee or the act of drinking coffee -- in this particular case, both. So a benefit is that I was able to communicate a simple act of what I was doing in as little words as possible.

    That's a good thing isn't it? Well, the phrase does lose clarity -- what, exactly am I doing, making it or drinking it? Hmm, the part of me that loves words, that loves the way they can roll together and create an entire scene, convey an emotion, stir up memories, portray a character and incite a reaction in the reader -- that part of me, the one that takes pleasure in seeing an elegantly crafted sentence of words strung together creating that beauty, well, it recoils in fear at that thought.

    However, one thing does give me hope -- the thought that language use and misuse fluctuates like the tide, (or even like the back and forth ramblings of my blog posts), but words abide.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    NaNo Oh Oh!

    So it's November 27th and I'm far below the word count that I'm supposed to be at for NaNoWriMo.



    At this point, I've got a daily goal of 14525 for the next 3 days if I want to hit the 50,000 mark. Short of calling in sick at work and completely avoiding my family altogether for the next few days (two things I'm not very likely to do), I won't be making my goal.

    But I'm not disappointed. Because I'm happy with the 6000+ words that I've written for the novel so far. I'm moving along slowly, re-discovering some secondary characters and settings and enjoying the creation of the scenes. And I'd rather have 6000 words that I'm comfortable with than 50,000 words that were just one word placed after another and which I'd have to toss during a future re-write.

    Yes, it may sound like I'm comfortable in my failure or turning my nose up at sour grapes -- but at the end of the day so far I've got 6426 more words than I had at the beginning of the month, which brings my total word count for "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" to about 30,000 words.

    I'm a "the novel is half-full" kind of guy.

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    Wonderful Review of North of Infinity II

    I was delighted to see a wonderful review of North of Infinity II by Elizabeth A. Allen at Tangent Online.

    “I will make no bones about it North of Infinity II, edited by Mark Leslie, is the second best anthology I’ve read this year.”

    “This Canadian collection deserves a place in your “To Read” pile.”

    - Elizabeth A. Allen, Tangent Online review Nov 2006


    But more delightful than the praise about the anthology as a whole was the way in which Allen went through and talked about what she liked about many of the stories within the anthology, even taking the time to spotlight stories by up and coming writers who are not likely to be known in science-fiction circles. She did a wonderful job of sharing the uniqueness of each tale without taking anything away from a potential reader. Nicely done.

    It's easy for me, as the person who selected the stories for the anthology to be proud of them, and believe that they are all great tales by severely talented writers. It's another to have a reviewer recognize the strengths of the writers whose stories I have selected.

    I feel like a proud father when someone else out there compliments his children. (Of course, I'm flattering myself when considering the stories by the contributors to NOI 2 adopted children of mine -- but that is a bit of what it feels like) I'm actually honoured to have the opportunity to collect and showcase the writing of such incredibly gifted writers, and delighted that these writers were willing to be a part of this anthology and make it the stellar collection that is it.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    HNT - 6 Weird Things Tag

    I was recently tagged by Regal in the "6 weird things about you" tag, so I thought I'd incorporate it into this week's HNT.

    According to the rules…each player of this game starts with the “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

    1) I like to wear novelty ties. Among them, skulls and ghosts are my favourite, but book ties, cartoon character ties and ties with joke images and text are also right up there.
    2) I also like to wear novelty underwear. Surprisingly, spooky images are my favourites here also
    3) Speaking of clothing, I love to dress up in costumes - I have not outgrown that at all. (And I hate the fact that I have to wait for Halloween to come around for me to finally fit in in this regard)
    4) Speaking of not growing up, I haven't grown out of my love of playing with toys (just witness the whole "Darth Tater" thing I spent 6 months of HNT having fun with as recent proof)
    5) I spend an unhealthy amount of time making goofy faces in the mirror (witness below my attempt to mimic Eric Idle of Monty Python playing a Frenchman)
    6) I wear my wife's antiperspirant/deodorant. Not to be silly, but just because it works better than the men's version.

    And since I don't always play by the rules, I'm not going to tag 6 more folks, but instead allow those who WANT to play, to tag themselves off me (sounds kinky, doesn't it?) -- just let me know in the comments that you're playing along so I can go read your 6 weird things.

    I'd also like to wish my friends south of the Canadian border a very Happy Thanksgiving weekend -- (Weekend? Oh who are we all kidding, Thanksgiving is pretty much a FULL WEEK in the U.S. -- I'm jealous, here in Canada we only get one day off, and our Thanksgiving was already a month ago. Can anyone save me some leftover turkey?)


    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Missing

    I was visiting my hometown of Levack this past weekend and was disturbed to see on the front page of The Sudbury Star, a picture of an old childhood friend, Jeff Mason alongside an article entitled: Concern growing for missing man.

    Jeff was last heard from on November 15th, and early on the morning of November 16th, his home in Dowling was broken into and set fire to. Around the same time, his car was found abandoned and set ablaze in nearby Sudbury.

    Nobody has heard from Jeff other than a voice mail message left on that Tuesday and a single bank transaction on the Wednesday.

    Sudbury Rainbow Crimestoppers is now offering a $2000 reward for information leading to the location of Jeff. For the sake of Jeff and his family, I hope that he IS safe somewhere.

    But while in Levack, I heard a rumour that the fires might have something to do with the Hell's Angels. For Jeff's sake I hope those rumours are just that. Because if there's any truth to them, it's likely that the only place they'll find my old childhood chum is buried in an anonymous grave somewhere. Every time that Francine and I drove past the home on Highway 144, charred and abandoned and surrounded by yellow police tape, my heart sank, and emotions ran high.

    I've been thinking a lot about Jeff and about the fun we had as kids growing up in Levack, playing street hockey, riding our bikes, building log fort cabins in the woods behind his house on First Avenue. I was also reminiscing with another buddy who was even closer to Jeff when they were young, laughing about one of his first memories of Jeff as the snotty faced younger brother with the wild long blond hair, chasing his older sister all the way to school because he wanted to kiss her goodbye.

    I remember spending a lot of time laughing with Jeff when we were younger. And then, in our high school years we slowly drifted apart. Sure, we occasionally saw each other and did share some laughs and fun, but over time, the day to day interactions were less and less frequent as we grew in separate ways. Isn't it strange the way someone that was so much a part of your life and daily activities can one day be moving in a different direction than you. I sometimes find myself marveling in sadness at the thought.

    Some of my last memories of Jeff are when I was working at a summer job at Alo-Tech in Onaping -- this was back in the summer of either 1990 or 1991. I was working as an assistant lacky/go-fer, low on the food chain with the actual qualified guys like Jeff who were certified welders. I think that was the last time I'd ever had a conversation with Jeff, in this atmosphere of hard work and fun masculine ribbing, and I'll never forget the proud smile on his face as he showed me his recently acquired welding certification. A smile not unlike the one that the newspaper is printing in the articles in the search for Jeff. Jeff has aged well, grew up to become a handsome man, and I imagine that he still enjoyed laughing with his family and friends just as much as when we were kids.

    So I'm saying a quick prayer for Jeff's well-being, and hoping against hope that his family will find him safe and sound, far from harm, far from the dark rumours of the bad people who might have had something in for him. And as I think and pray for Jeff, I'm hearing him call me "Lefebvre" in the derogatory way we started calling each other by our last names some time during our high school years, and as I think of him I'm finding myself speaking the words aloud: "God be with you, Mason."

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    HNT - One Hand Typing

    I haven't blogged much lately -- nor have I gone visiting my usual bloggy friends, either. I've been a bad blogger.

    I'd like to say it's because I'm spending several hours per day working on my latest novel. But I can't, because I've also been a naughty writer. Here I've gone and signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with a goal to write 50,000 words in the month of November -- and I'm only about 3500 words into my novel so far at the mid-way point.



    Yikes!

    You can listen to a very recent interview with me by Writing Show host Paula B here. It's the second part of a reality series Paula is doing on her wonderful Writing Show podcast -- she's following me as I try to achieve my goal of finishing the novel "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" -- it's a rather fun interview in which we discuss such things as how I learned about the coppery taste of blood, how I spent Halloween as well as the truth about my kindergarten-like attention span.


    So, due to the fact that I shouldn't be posting Half-Nekkid pictures but should be working on my Half-Nekkid novel, I present a picture of one hand typing.



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    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Hug-eee!

    Alexander's vocabulary has suddenly exploded. For months he's been using a nice comfortable group of a couple of dozen words, but within the last week he has ventured into new territory. It's like he's sifting through the dictionary when we're not looking.

    One of the cutest was the other night when we were about to partake in our bath-time/bed-time ritual. (Usually there's some settling down time, a bath, warm milk, a snack, then stories, then sleepy-time). As I was trying to get him to come upstairs for his bath, he stood in the kitchen saying "Hug-eee! Hug-eee!" Since he likes group hugs (being sandwiches between Fran and myself in a family hug), that's what we thought he was saying. So we gave him a group hug. But he then said "Milk" (okay, it was actually "Milke" - I love the way some of his words come off with an "e" sound on the end of them, as if he's speaking some Chaucerian Olde English language) -- it was then we realized he was saying he was hungry. He now uses that word when it's time for lunch, breakfast, supper, or one of the dozens of snacks he has every day.

    And yesterday, of course, when we were heading off to vote and I was telling him about the importance of exercising our democratic rights and our civic duties, he kept saying "Vote!" -- of course, in fitting with political gesturing, it was a foggy night, and so he was also saying "Foggy" -- he was most proud of the way in which that word rolled off his tongue.

    I'm continuing to look forward to what new batch of words he's saying when I get home from work tonight. Or tonightee, as Alexander would likely say.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Evolving Creatures



    As a horror writer, I haven't yet written a vampire story -- at least, not a vampire story that would be recognizable as using the traditional vampire mythology. Then, again, what is traditional mythology tends to change as different writers approach the classic horror creatures and add their own spin to it. My own werewolf character in the work-in-progress "A Canadian Werewolf in New York" is a blend of various werewolf mythologies that I've read over the years and include my own interpretation of the grander essence of werewolf.

    And there's this unfinished novel that I started years ago about a vampire who walks around during the day. My theory was that a specific person's body chemistry might react with the vampire blood and cause a mutation.

    That's why I'm curious to see this new DVD by Kevin VanHook called Slayer which involves a new species of vampires discovered in a South American jungle that are deadly by night AND day.

    And if that isn't interesting enough, it co-stars Lynda Carter -- yes, the legendary Wonder Woman, yet another woman whom I grew up having a huge childhood crush on and who has aged very gracefully I might add. (Okay, I'll admit it, I never outgrew that crush -- I just outgrew the "suspension of disbelief" about the whole business where she flew around in this invisible airplane and that nobody could ever spot her suspended in thin air in a seated position)

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    HNT - Me & You & A Ghost Named Boo

    All of the Halloween stuff has been put away, but there's one special little guy who has stayed out. He's this cute little ghost puppet named Boo. (He was a gift two Halloween's ago from some neighbours) Alexander simply adores him and is as attached to him as he is to his Winnie The Pooh. Winnie and Boo are must haves for bedtime and for longer car trips.


    Since Alexander is suffering from a nasty head-cold the past couple of days, Boo often helps to cheer him up. (Boo usually yells out "Boo" and then scares himself and runs away -- Alexander kills himself laughing when Boo does that. Silly ghost) So if you see a bit of a runny nose on Alex in these pictures, it's from his cold. And no, I don't have a fat lip -- it's a lipstick smear -- yes, proof that Francine still kisses me; and that I walk around without knowing it's there.


    And for you folks out there who have been around the block long enough to remember the song from the 70's, yes, the title for this post WAS a rip-off of an old song called "Me And You And A Dog Named Boo" by Lobo. Feel old?


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    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    NaNo Update #1

    I'm well under way on my goal to write 50,000 words of a novel this month. The daily goal is to write 1667 words per day. So far, 8 days into the project, (where I should be at 13,336 words) I'm at a whopping 2500 words.


    But I like to think of myself as the tortoise who wins the race . . . I'm just easing into it, getting solid rest, working up my ability to sprint to the finish. Yeah, that's the story.

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    Quotes From Dad Of The Year

    This weekend, as Alexander and I were putting away the Halloween decorations, I was wondering what someone overhearing the father and son bonding moment would have thought when they heard me say the following:

    "Alexander, please pick up these bones and this skull and put them in that coffin."

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    HNT - Halloween Isn't Over In My Heart!

    Yeah, yeah, I know. Halloween is over -- it's so two days ago. But it's not over in my heart. I'm not yet ready to let it go.

    And since I'm typing this up near midnight alone in a hotel room half of the country away from my loved ones, I thought it might be fun to share a selection of some of my favourite "leading up to Halloween" moments, with Francine and Alexander . . . these ones from a fun-filled day spent at Lindley's in Ancaster, going on a hay ride, visiting the pumpkin patch, running through the corn maze, enjoying some locally baked treats and of course, hamming it up for the camera.























    I know I only left early Wed morning and I'll be back home Friday by midnight . . . but God do I ever miss them!

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