Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day!

Christmas is finally over--let the shopping mayhem begin!

With that in mind, here's a little bit of Bowie to soothe the soul:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ooh, ooh, ooh, before midnight hits....

Tagged!

I don't normally do Internet blog memes, but it's Christmas and I'm home alone--not quite in the Macaulay Culkin way, but I'm working on booby trapping the whole house just for kicks.

Every paying employment I've had thus far in life:


1. Vienna Sausages at the CNE food building. I was 15 and it was my first job, slinging wieners and veal schnitzel while soaked up to my elbows in sauerkraut. The cash till never had enough pennies.

2. Shawarma's King, Eaton Centre. My first mall job, and the start of my journey up the echelons of the EC levels. I didn't even know what a shawarma was when I started working here. Hell, I couldn't tell you where Lebanon was. (Still can't). I worked weekends for a whole year while in high school. Middle Eastern cuisine is now a staple in my fast food diet.

3. Foot Locker, Eaton Centre. I met the manager while she was getting a chicken shawarma sandwich. She invited me to drop off a resume. I did. I got the job. It was my first foray into retail and a terrifying two-year eye opener as one of the youngest and most innocent and unworldly (read: naive) workers at the tender age of 16. I credit my ability to swear out loud to the fine people at FL.

4. The Gap, Eaton Centre. It was only a three-month stint, but some of the nicest retail jockeys I ever met worked there. I got a tonne of goodbye cards when I left. I also spent more than half my cumulative paycheck on clothes "for work." I used to be a size 2 when I worked there. Now, not so much.

5. Indigo, Eaton Centre. By this point, I'd worked on EVERY GODDAMNED LEVEL OF THE EATON CENTRE, and was ecstatic there was a fancy-schmancy booktarium opening up. A month after it opened, I met John, right in the magazine section by the big sale table I was reorganizing. I do believe it was love at first sight. Best moment: reshelving the sex books with John for two hours. Eight years later, his ring is on my finger. I might add, he proposed to me outside of the food building at the CNE. (Full circle yay!)

6. Kumon Math and English. A friend asked me to fill in for her as a tutor, so I went and dealt with snot-nosed brats who often pointed out my sharp tooth (my left incisor is crooked and turned sideways so it looks like a fang.) I told the kids, "All the better to eat you with, my dear." I lasted all of three months.

7. Men's Divorce Clinic. Another friend asked if I was interested, and I was. But I didn't wake up in time for the interview--damn alarm clock had the volume turned down. This probably should have been a hint from the Divine Ones that it wasn't meant to be. I didn't get the position I applied for, but they did ask me to do some research for them. It was boring and tedious and I wasn't happy. I left a few months into it.

8. The Merril Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy. A friend got me in to work as a page at this fabulous closed stacks collection. It remains one of my fave places I ever worked, second only to my current job. I have, in fact, touched a book signed by Aldous Huxley, a first edition (or was it second?) of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and seen and read some awesome work. Best memory: meeting Neil Gaiman, who read from American Gods and was a terrific speaker.

9. Post CityMagazines. My first real full-time job out of school. I worked as a Sales Coordinator and eventually moved into production and being the boss's gopher. I bought him camping plates and pilgrim hats at his request. Regardless of the mind-boggling tasks I was assigned, I learned a whole lot, made some wonderful friends and developed love-hate relationships with the whole business. Especially the boss. *Shakes my fist at Lorne in case he's reading this*

10. IT World Canada. This job was balls. It killed my spirit and sank me into a deep depression from which I didn't emerge for months. But I did learn a lot. And my manager was the most fantastic, caring lady I have ever known.

11. Freelancing for iBegin Toronto. This Internet directory needed people to fill in reviews. It was just a way to earn some grocery money while I was in between jobs.

12. Harlequin Enterprises. I have arrived. I love my job. I love the company. I wake up eager to get to my desk every day. I never stop marveling at what I get paid to do--i.e. sit around and read and edit romance novels all day. I've been inspired to pursue my own writing career through this company. One day, I might actually be able to add "award-winning novelist" to this list....

I tag Danielle and Alex. Because I don't read that many other blogs.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reading for a snowed-in day

Manga + Bookish Secretary + Sexy Mysterious Demanding Boss + Vampires = THIS.




Thanks to Smart Bitches for posting the link. Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Puppetbending!

Best way to shake the ol' Avatar Withdrawal Syndrome!

If you haven't seen the other episodes, they're here and here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Attention Consumers: Love is now as disposable as your cell phone!

Why does the end of this commercial make me want to duck my head?



Now you, too, can purchase love and dispose of it as easily as you do your cell phone. 'Cause, let's face it, the way your relationships have been going, a 3-year contract is about the maximum you can deal with before you decide to trade up for a nicer model.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ten freelance editors needed at Harlequin

People often ask me how they get into the publishing world. Well, if you have 5-7 years of experience editing and live in the Greater Toronto Area, here's your chance.

Via JeffGaulin.com:

Freelance Line Editors (x 10)
Harlequin Enterprises

Location: work from home in the GTA, Ontario
Posted: November 6, 2008
Deadline: January 6, 2009

Description
Here's your opportunity to edit manuscripts for a leading global publisher of women's fiction….and work from home!

Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and one of the most successful publishers of women's fiction, with titles issued worldwide in 29 languages and sold in 107 countries. We offer women a broad range of reading experiences from romance to psychological thrillers to relationship novels.

We are seeking 10 skilled freelance line editors for occasional work.

Qualifications

* 5-7 years’ trade publishing experience
* ability to edit across all narrative genres—from series romance to mainstream fiction
* knowledgeable in onscreen editing using Track Changes in Word
* applicants should reside in the Greater Toronto area due to the quick turnaround nature of the material



No phone calls please; only applicants who meet our qualifications will be contacted.

Interested editors with the requisite background should e-mail their résumé and references to: line-editing@harlequin.ca.

N.B. Please include Freelance line editor in the subject line and state in your cover note that you found this job on Jeff Gaulin's Journalism Job Board.

Freelance Line Editor
Harlequin Enterprises


E-mail: line-editing@Harlequin.ca.
Web address: http://www.eHarlequin.com

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Live-action "The Last Airbender" principals cast

So they cast all white actors for the principle actors in The Last Airbender. Fans are freaking out about this for reasons I can't quite fathom.

C'mon, this is Hollywood! Did you really think they were going to cast an all-Asian cast just because the Avatar world is based on Eastern cultures? I'm not surprised, really.

Here's the thing: As soon as the hero protagonist is cast with an Asian, the movie becomes a "kung-fu" movie. Arguably, there will be a lot of "bending" forms and martial arts involved in Avatar. But from a business standpoint, this risky venture in yet another kids' fantasy remake needs as broad a base of viewers as possible. Why do you think Dragonball's been cast the way it has?

That's the nature of North American cinema--producers believe, rightly or wrongly, that the target audience is determined by who the audience members can identify with in the cast. And the largest market in America is--surprise, surprise--white middle class Americans.

Here's some damn good reading about racism and casting in Hollywood from a legal standpoint. A quote:

Unless the appearance of race is central to the authenticity of a role, such as when the story line actually requires an interracial couple of particular races, studio executives, producers, directors, agents, and casting directors should not be permitted to exclude from casting a particular class of actors of a certain race, even when those decisions are based on economic considerations—specifically, customer preferences.

I personally have no problem with the choices thus far, only because I've never seen any of these kids' performances. If we get anything close to the beauty and storytelling, along with some pretty special effects and decent acting, I'll be happy.

And now, because you're all wondering, here are the cast members:



Noah Ringer, a karate star chosen from an open casting call in Texas, and a kid who apparently has no picture up online, will play Aang.








Nicola Peltz, previously seen (and likely ignored) in "Deck the Halls" will play Katara.









Jackson Rathbone of kool-aid-crazed vampire fan-nomenon "Twilight" will play Sokka. Slapapow!









Jesse McCartney--yes, the kid singer--is in negotiations to play Prince Zuko. He'd better look as good shirtless.

Uh, I mean...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Agent of Chaos


I recently found myself facing a moral dilemma pertaining to my noncareer as a writer that had my stomach squelching uncomfortably (and anyone who knows me knows that when my tummy squelches, it's time to break out the Immodium and gas masks. Eeew.)

About a year ago, I subscribed to a particular literary agent's e-mail newsletter, believing it to be a useful source of information on the publishing industry. For a while, I read the weekly e-mail, though I probably should've learned to skip the long-winded diatribes about the agent's life and family much faster.

Some months ago, the agent posted a contest where the prize would be working with her and having her basically represent the winner. I submitted with some confidence that I might attract some attention. Not that I would have been crushed if I didn't win, but I have to stay optimistic.

A week or so before the U.S. elections, she sent out a long newsletter that had absolutely nothing to do with her profession, pushing a particular candidate and making some rather charged (and quite skewed) political statements about the other candidate and opposing party's platform.

Now, I don't normally go off on what other people believe, politically speaking. But when you send e-mails out to people who have signed up to your newsletter wanting publishing industry info and such, they don't expect anecdotes about their ten-year-old daughter's political choices as dictated or prompted by their mothers.

Thinking this might be an anomaly, I continued to receive the newsletter. But this was not the last I heard about her candidate of choice. After the elections, said agent continued to bitterly make digs at the supporters of the other guy, showing everyone just how unprofessional and biased she was. Judging by her vitriolic response in the following newsletters and on her blog to those who complained, I could only imagine what working with her must be like.

So I unsubscribed to the newsletter. I had no choice--her comments and behavior were less than unprofessional and were entirely unworthy of someone who should be open to all ideas, all people from all walks of life who believe in all kinds of different things.

And now I am faced with the possible--but highly unlikely--chance that I may get a call telling me I've won this contest to contract her as an agent. If it does happen, I don't think I would be able to accept. While I'm fairly certain I can keep my mouth shut about political views, she's proven she can't and that she'll ridicule anyone who opposes her beliefs.

I can respect a person for having views. But I can't abide by the fact she decided to push them through my mail slot, even though I asked her not to send me trash.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

*grumble* $#*(@# Canada Post *$#*&@# *grumble*

***************************la version française suit****************************

Dear Customer,

Vicki has sent you a link to view mailing information for item CX?????????CA.
Please follow the link below to view the information on the Canada Post Web site.

https://em.canadapost.ca/emo/basicPin.do?trackingCode=PIN=query=CX?????????CA=en

If you require assistance, please contact our Customer Relationship Network
at 1-888-550-6333 Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time.
For Newfoundland and Labrador customers please call Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. local time.

This is an automated email message, please do not reply.

********************************************************************************

Monsieur/Madame,

Vicki vous a envoyé un lien vous permettant d'afficher l'information relative à l'envoi de cet article CX?????????CA.
Veuillez suivre le lien ci-dessous pour afficher l'information sur le site Web de Postes Canada.

https://em.canadapost.ca/emo/basicPin.do?trackingCode=PIN=query=CX?????????CA=fr

Si vous avez besoin d'aide, prière de communiquer avec notre Réseau des relations avec la clientèle
au 1-888-550-6333, du lundi au vendredi de 8 h à 18 h (heure locale).
Les clients de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador doivent composer ce numéro du lundi au vendredi de 8 h à 18 h 30 (heure locale).

Il s'agit d'un message électronique automatisé. Prière de ne pas y répondre.


I should be ecstatic that they JUST managed to deliver my Golden Heart entry (according to the e-mail I got, anyhow) before deadline today. But my relief is like the relief Indiana Jones must feel after retrieving his hat from beneath the big stone door before it slides shut.

Indiana: Geez, what the hell was I thinking? I could've lost a hand like that! And for what? A stupid hat? I have, like, ten more of those at home!
Short Round: Docta Jones, you should have FedExed yourself one! Or had it priority couriered!
Indiana: *punches Short Round*

Mrr. Well, small blessings. Now I can get on with my life....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Rage/Disgust/Sadness

By this morning, the world has likely heard about the tragic death of the 34-year-old Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death after a mob who'd lined up since before dawn crashed down the doors to get into the store.

As today is Buy Nothing Day--a day I don't normally observe but would like to apply permanently to Wal-Mart--I feel the need to express my utter disgust at the behavior of the people who callously continued to shop and irately refused to leave the store after officials announced they'd be closing the Wal-Mart.

Excerpts from the AP story via Yahoo News:

Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers stepped over him and became irate when officials said the store was closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

At least four other people, including a woman who was eight months pregnant, were taken to hospitals for observation or minor injuries.

Police said about 2,000 people were gathered outside the Wal-Mart doors before its 5 a.m. opening at a mall about 20 miles east of Manhattan. The impatient crowd knocked the employee, identified by police as Jdimytai Damour, to the ground as he opened the doors, leaving a metal portion of the frame crumpled like an accordion.

"This crowd was out of control," Fleming said. He described the scene as "utter chaos," and said the store didn't have enough security.

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

Items on sale at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.


Well, enjoy your $9 Incredible Hulk DVD and your 67-cent tubes of toothpaste. It only cost the blood of someone's son and the happiness of a whole family this holiday season.

I mean, seriously! It's frickin' WAL-MART! I've never really understood lining up to shop anywhere for anything, but it completely boggles the mind when something like this happens at Wal-Mart, of all places. Are we so obsessed with needing possessions that we will, in fact, kill for them?

There's a places for overzealousness and tragic fatal stampedes: religious gatherings like Mecca, soccer games, and political protests. Wal-Mart gives mobs a bad name. I am sick to my stomach of the human race today.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gone postal, part II

Gaaaaaaahhhh....

A trip to the post office brought about no results.

The Canada Post Web site still lists my package as having been received on Nov. 19. But I've been informed by a number of people that sometimes you don't get another update until the package arrives at its destination, even though the track-a-package feature says it should list when the package crosses the border when going to the U.S. The CP guy on the phone told me that *might* mean it hasn't crossed the border yet, but isn't convinced that's the case since delivery is slated for 7 to 8 business days. It's been seven days.

Worse yet, I completely forgot about Thanksgiving in the States. USPS is probably on holiday. The RWA office is closed, so I won't know until it's way too late whether my MS will be exempt from the deadline since it went out so many days ago. Probably not, considering how many entries they get and the hard deadlines listed on the site.

On top of all this, it just wouldn't be worth making up a new entry and FedExing it out--it would cost more than $100 to send out for arrival by Monday.

So my Golden Heart entry is somewhere out there, floating around. The weekend ahead is going to be full of pacing, cursing, and regretting, muttering "if onlys" and "I should'ves", and dimly hoping that my entry will appear at the RWA office unscathed before the Dec. 2nd 3 p.m. deadline.

Dammit.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Gone postal

So. I'm having a bit of a freak out.

The Golden Heart's Dec. 2 deadline is looming...and my manuscript still hasn't left the post office.

I dropped it off for Expedited Parcel service to the U.S. on Nov. 19, and according to the Canada Post Web site, the thing hasn't been shipped off yet. Whether this is due to the strike or not I can't say--the telephone customer service line is minimal to zilch because of the strike.

I probably should have listened to my inner pessimist--who is always hanging around but was on a smoke break the day I went to drop the thing in the mail--and FedEx'd my entry. But no. It's lost somewhere in the postal ether.

I'm going to the office tonight to see if I can retrieve it and send it via courier instead...I can't take the chance that it'll arrive too late. Grr.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best. Romance Covers. Ever.

Covers reimagined. So damned hilarious.

More here and here.

*Note to TRW memebers: brace yourself, some of YOUR covers are on here!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Romance! Scandal! PRON!!!

Hey! I was writing that!

From Forbes.com:

Earlier this month, Germany's richest woman, and one of its most private, shocked the world when she came forward with a torrid tale of a love affair gone terribly wrong.

Susanne Klatten, who owns of 12.5 per cent of BMW, the automaker her late father ran, admitted to having been blackmailed by her lover, Helg Sgarbi. Authorities say Sgarbi and an accomplice secretly videotaped intimate moments of the affair and, beginning in the fall of 2007, threatened to make videos public if she didn't give them millions of euros.

In January, rather than let herself be extorted, the married mother of three filed a criminal complaint with the Munich prosecutor's office alleging fraud and blackmail. The investigation, which is ongoing, led to the arrest of the two men, who are now in jail, Sgarbi in Munich and his alleged accomplice in his native Italy. No trial dates have yet been set.

Klatten recently went public with the details, despite the unpleasant public consequences for her. A respected BMW board member, she is a trained economist with an M.B.A. who has ranked among Forbes' most powerful women in the past. She is also a member of the supervisory board of Altana, a chemicals company she controls and is now trying to take private in a US$1.2 billion deal. Yet she was duped by a man whose intentions were allegedly criminal from the outset.

Affairs always have the potential to damage people's reputations, not to mention their marriages. But for the rich and powerful like Klatten, the stakes are much higher--putting careers, companies and fortunes at risk.

One of the world's most eligible bachelors, Russian metals billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, was detained in the French ski resort of Courchevel in January 2007 after police raided his hotel on suspicion of prostitution. Prokhorov, who said the women were models and his guests, was held for four days and released without being charged.

Time-share tycoon David Siegel, whose net worth briefly touched US$1 billion at the peak of the real estate market, was recently ordered to pay US$610,000 in damages to ex-employee Dawn Myers over battery charges. Myers sued Siegel, claiming constant advances and groping and alleging that Siegel offered her US$1 million for sex. He didn't apparently get any, but he could still have quite a bill to pay. Siegel is appealing the verdict.

Perhaps the most astonishing story of all involves Henry T. Nicholas, former chief executive of semiconductor firm Broadcom (nasdaq: BRCM). A colourful civil suit claimed Nicholas built a secret "sex cave" under his California home to host drug- and prostitution-fuelled parties.

A subsequent 2008 indictment from the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., charges Nicholas with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, ecstasy and speed, and alleges that Nicholas had hired prostitutes for himself and clients and supplied the prostitutes with drugs. The trial begins in 2009.
Damn you, reality!!! Stop playing out my ideas!!! *shakes fist at the heavens*


Meanwhile, my life is like this.
(Thank you, Dangard Ace, aka Alex, for sending it along.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Calling All Good-Looking True-Life Heroes


Harlequin is looking for authentic heroes for its covers.

On November 29, 2008, we will be holding a casting call at Powerhouse Casting in Toronto for real firefighters, police officers and paramedics to become cover models.

We regularly feature models posing as heroes—firefighters, police officers, paramedics and other emergency personnel—now we want to celebrate the authentic heroes who put their lives on the line every day, by featuring them on the covers of our novels. If you know someone in any of these professions that you think would make a good Harlequin cover model, please forward this email on to them.

The casting call is for good looking males between 25 – 48 years old. No acting or modeling experience is required.

Casting will be held at Powerhouse Casting, 93 Berkeley Street, Toronto, Ontario, on November 29, 2008 between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Interactivity!

As an ongoing feature of my blog, I'd like to start some fun times for everyone to chime in on!


Fill in the blanks! Best entry gets bragging rights!

She needed his touch like a [blank] needs a [blank].


Have fun!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Writer Update


Lookit mah fancy new Photoshop banner to ID this post! Shweeeeet.

Finally shipped off my entry to the Golden Heart today. No more thinking about Star Attraction for a while--I'm going back to my first romance book, All in the Details, and reworking it for Silhouette Desire.

My young adult book is on hold--I haven't had the juice to work on it. But that'll change, since I'm finally going back to reading stuff I like--namely Maria V. Snyder's Fire Study, the third in the Study series. I met Maria a couple of weeks ago when she came to Harlequin, and had a bit more time to chat with her at a talk she gave to the Toronto Romance Writers. She's awesome.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a new urban mythology book about an agent of retribution living on earth. No title yet. I'm trying to move into writing "books of my heart"--which is to say, books I want to write. But I've been so drained lately, I'm mostly just trying to get a few words out now and again just to ensure I still can write.

On my To Be Read shelf:
--Gone With the Wind (which I bought in the summer when it was reissued in MMPB)
--Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things (I would like to try doing more short stories, but I'm apparently not good at keeping things short)
--Pride and Prejudice (I think I've started reading this, like, four times, all while in the bathroom. Obviously not the best place to do my reading.)
--Kool-aid-crazy vampire phenomenon Twilight (Because all the cool kids are doing it...though I still think I'll wait to see the movie first so my "expectations" aren't destroyed.)

Enough for now. Must get to work....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pro-prostate!

I don't have a prostate, but I know someone who does.

November is Men's Health month, also known lovingly as Movember.

Check out their fundraising site here. A friend of mine is growing a 'stach all month as part of the campaign.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Poor math may have killed her....


WARNING: Slight grossness ahead. Having warned you, you're going to read on anyhow.

I was in the E.R. at Mount Sinai Hospital in the fracture room last night (not to worry, it was just a UTI, fairly common for me, I was in and out in about 3 hours during which I got some writing done) when I overheard the nurses giving medication to the patient in the cubicle next to mine:

Nurse: "So, you need 240 mg of (insert drug name here). We don't have the 240-mg pill, but we do have the 80-mg ones, so you'll have to take four."
Patient: "Wait...what?"
Nurse (more slowly, as if the patient doesn't understand): "We have the 80 mg pills. We don't have the big 240-mg pills. You need to take FOUR of these to make up for the big one."

I'm in the next cubicle, wondering whether I should pipe up and ask them to redo that math. But I'm not a nurse, I don't have a degree in medicine or health studies. I haven't taken a math class since high school. The most expertise I can lay claim to is that I avidly watch Grey's Anatomy and once enjoyed the days of PBS's Square One. Something told me at that point that it wasn't my place to speak up and tell them they only needed THREE 80 mg pills to make up for the dosage required (unless drugs have some weird overlap property that I'm unaware of? Anyone?)

Now I'm worried that my silence might have given an elderly woman a fatal overdose of her prescription meds.

As Mathman aptly preaches, you do, in fact, need math in many jobs...nursing included.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

The awesomest quiz about whether your fantasy novel sucks.

So far, I think my novels haven't quite hit any of these yet....


By David J. Parker

Additional Material By Samuel Stoddard

Ever since J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis created the worlds of Middle Earth and Narnia, it seems like every windbag off the street thinks he can write great, original fantasy, too. The problem is that most of this "great, original fantasy" is actually poor, derivative fantasy. Frankly, we're sick of it, so we've compiled a list of rip-off tip-offs in the form of an exam. We think anybody considering writing a fantasy novel should be required to take this exam first. Answering "yes" to any one question results in failure and means that the prospective novel should be abandoned at once.

  1. Does nothing happen in the first fifty pages?
  2. Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  3. Is your main character the heir to the throne but doesn't know it?
  4. Is your story about a young character who comes of age, gains great power, and defeats the supreme badguy?
  5. Is your story about a quest for a magical artifact that will save the world?
  6. How about one that will destroy it?
  7. Does your story revolve around an ancient prophecy about "The One" who will save the world and everybody and all the forces of good?
  8. Does your novel contain a character whose sole purpose is to show up at random plot points and dispense information?
  9. Does your novel contain a character that is really a god in disguise?
  10. Is the evil supreme badguy secretly the father of your main character?
  11. Is the king of your world a kindly king duped by an evil magician?
  12. Does "a forgetful wizard" describe any of the characters in your novel?
  13. How about "a powerful but slow and kind-hearted warrior"?
  14. How about "a wise, mystical sage who refuses to give away plot details for his own personal, mysterious reasons"?
  15. Do the female characters in your novel spend a lot of time worrying about how they look, especially when the male main character is around?
  16. Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
  17. Do any of your female characters exist solely to embody feminist ideals?
  18. Would "a clumsy cooking wench more comfortable with a frying pan than a sword" aptly describe any of your female characters?
  19. Would "a fearless warrioress more comfortable with a sword than a frying pan" aptly describe any of your female characters?
  20. Is any character in your novel best described as "a dour dwarf"?
  21. How about "a half-elf torn between his human and elven heritage"?
  22. Did you make the elves and the dwarves great friends, just to be different?
  23. Does everybody under four feet tall exist solely for comic relief?
  24. Do you think that the only two uses for ships are fishing and piracy?
  25. Do you not know when the hay baler was invented?
  26. Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like "The Blasted Lands" or "The Forest of Fear" or "The Desert of Desolation" or absolutely anything "of Doom"?
  27. Does your novel contain a prologue that is impossible to understand until you've read the entire book, if even then?
  28. Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
  29. How about a quintet or a decalogue?
  30. Is your novel thicker than a New York City phone book?
  31. Did absolutely nothing happen in the previous book you wrote, yet you figure you're still many sequels away from finishing your "story"?
  32. Are you writing prequels to your as-yet-unfinished series of books?
  33. Is your name Robert Jordan and you lied like a dog to get this far?
  34. Is your novel based on the adventures of your role-playing group?
  35. Does your novel contain characters transported from the real world to a fantasy realm?
  36. Do any of your main characters have apostrophes or dashes in their names?
  37. Do any of your main characters have names longer than three syllables?
  38. Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?
  39. Does your novel contain orcs, elves, dwarves, or halflings?
  40. How about "orken" or "dwerrows"?
  41. Do you have a race prefixed by "half-"?
  42. At any point in your novel, do the main characters take a shortcut through ancient dwarven mines?
  43. Do you write your battle scenes by playing them out in your favorite RPG?
  44. Have you done up game statistics for all of your main characters in your favorite RPG?
  45. Are you writing a work-for-hire for Wizards of the Coast?
  46. Do inns in your book exist solely so your main characters can have brawls?
  47. Do you think you know how feudalism worked but really don't?
  48. Do your characters spend an inordinate amount of time journeying from place to place?
  49. Could one of your main characters tell the other characters something that would really help them in their quest but refuses to do so just so it won't break the plot?
  50. Do any of the magic users in your novel cast spells easily identifiable as "fireball" or "lightning bolt"?
  51. Do you ever use the term "mana" in your novel?
  52. Do you ever use the term "plate mail" in your novel?
  53. Heaven help you, do you ever use the term "hit points" in your novel?
  54. Do you not realize how much gold actually weighs?
  55. Do you think horses can gallop all day long without rest?
  56. Does anybody in your novel fight for two hours straight in full plate armor, then ride a horse for four hours, then delicately make love to a willing barmaid all in the same day?
  57. Does your main character have a magic axe, hammer, spear, or other weapon that returns to him when he throws it?
  58. Does anybody in your novel ever stab anybody with a scimitar?
  59. Does anybody in your novel stab anybody straight through plate armor?
  60. Do you think swords weigh ten pounds or more? [info]
  61. Does your hero fall in love with an unattainable woman, whom he later attains?
  62. Does a large portion of the humor in your novel consist of puns?
  63. Is your hero able to withstand multiple blows from the fantasy equivalent of a ten pound sledge but is still threatened by a small woman with a dagger?
  64. Do you really think it frequently takes more than one arrow in the chest to kill a man?
  65. Do you not realize it takes hours to make a good stew, making it a poor choice for an "on the road" meal?
  66. Do you have nomadic barbarians living on the tundra and consuming barrels and barrels of mead?
  67. Do you think that "mead" is just a fancy name for "beer"?
  68. Does your story involve a number of different races, each of which has exactly one country, one ruler, and one religion?
  69. Is the best organized and most numerous group of people in your world the thieves' guild?
  70. Does your main villain punish insignificant mistakes with death?
  71. Is your story about a crack team of warriors that take along a bard who is useless in a fight, though he plays a mean lute?
  72. Is "common" the official language of your world?
  73. Is the countryside in your novel littered with tombs and gravesites filled with ancient magical loot that nobody thought to steal centuries before?
  74. Is your book basically a rip-off of The Lord of the Rings?
  75. Read that question again and answer truthfully.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

No props to Prop 8

Gee, thanks, California, for harshing the buzz. WTF?

You just elected a black president. But God forbid you let the personal lives of loving couples who happen to be of the same gender ruin your ultra-heterosexual, straight-edge lifestyle. I mean, since when did you insist on looking into your neighbors' bedrooms and insisting your rights as someone who isn't as happy are being infringed upon?

Oh, sure, marriage is a sacred union between blah blah blah. You wanna explain the high divorce rate, then? I'm sure God won't have any problem with you defying your own rules.

Forget that you are directly challenging the rights of human beings. Forget that at one point in history it is likely that you, too, were or would have been discriminated against based on your heritage, your color, your gender, your religion, your identity. Forget that you are setting a dangerous precedent for retracting the basic civil liberties of an identifiable group.

You know, since we're already at it, why don't we suggest a proposition to, hmm, say, take away the voting rights of those uppity womenfolk? Or maybe we should amend the rules to make sure blacks are only counted as 3/5 a person and legalize slavery again. And let's get rid of those pesky child labor laws, because we all know our kids are all fat, lazy slobs. Oh, and let's make sure those uppity Jews, Irishmen, and Orientals aren't allowed into the country. Because God knows we have too many of them around.

Give me a break, people. If someone's lifestyle bothers you that much, don't be their friend. In fact, be loud about it so the rest of us can make sure not to sit with you in the lunchroom, because heaven knows we don't want to infringe on your cloistered, phobic, personal breathing space--it reeks of desperation, fear, and utter self-worthlessness.

I, personally, am putting together a proposition to ensure stupid people wear signs that declare their status as morons. And maybe we should make them wear armbands and ship them off to concentration camps, too....

Wheeeee!!!

Fun with Photoshop!


Defying gravity, Nazis and Republicans since 2008.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

History made.


Hottie now president of the United States.

Hot old men

I have an admission: I like older men. (But I still love you John!)

For my enjoyment, I present attractive older men (what do I call them? Cured beefcake? Meat jerky?)

CNN's Anderson Cooper:


41 years old, prematurely gray, steely-eyed, looks great in a fitted T-shirt, and he's drawn to action and danger...what's not to like? (Yes, I am aware he's gay, but I still *heart* him).



This is what I imagine Anderson Cooper doing for fun.

Let me tell you, when you spend your days staring at covers of starry-eyed men holding babies, looking dapper in tuxedos or beckoning you to bed in next to nothing, a fully-clothed, hard-eyed vigilante with a gun is a refreshing thing to see. (Not that he's not showing up without a shirt more frequently now. And not that I mind *fans self*.)


Actor Tim Daly (Private Practice, Wings):


52 years young and still hot. Best of all, he played Superman in the animated series (before Justice League).


I'll post more, but the elections are over, and the States has just elected the first black president. So I'm kinda distracted....

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

It's not Halloween without Thriller!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Auuuugh, my head...

Translate this:

"Never pretend nothing never happened."



And don't do what Johnny Don't does.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beefcake!

For my mother's birthday, we took her to a Brazilian Steakhouse called Red Violin on Broadview and Danforth. My sister had been here before, and raved about the food and atmosphere.

Since it was a Tuesday night on one of the first cold days of the season, we were only one of three parties there for dinner, but the setting was very promising, with music and dancing on the weekends.

It was the food that blew my mind. And not just the culinary delight, but the way it was served.

The meal begins with a buffet salad bar that's a meal unto itself. There were, like, a dozen salads to choose from; shrimp, mussels, smoked salmon, cheese, fruit, prosciutto and other anti pasti-type meats, crustinis, greens, and so forth.

When you're ready for the main course, hunky Brazilian men come out with swords.

Barbecued meat on swords.


They slice delicate little pieces for each person at the table. And they keep bringing out more meat. Different kinds of meat. The head waiter said there was something like 15 or 16 varieties. I think we got through all of them. The first three alone were all beef: veal, bacon-wrapped beef, and garlic beef, followed by chicken wings, chicken thighs, bacon-wrapped turkey (because meat wrapped in meat is the best kind of meat), pork, flank steak, lamb, sausage, more steak, more chicken....

It was ridiculous. I ate and ate and ate some more, and even when I was full and my body was screaming at me to stop, I kept eating, undoing the diligent work of a dozen vegetarians. At one point, I put a piece of meat into my mouth and as soon as I tasted it, gagged because I JUST COULDN'T EAT ANY MORE MEAT. I'd OD'd on meat.

Why, you ask, did I subject myself to this and the ensuing sleeplessness, indigestion and discomfort that had me slumped at my desk all day, holding down my gorge?

I think it's summed up in one word: beefcake.

When good-looking Brazilian men with swords are at your beck and call, you just don't say no when they offer you their Brazilian sausage.

Fancy food for a fancy prices, but worth the experience. Just remember to save room for the deep fried bananas and barbecued pineapple.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You know you need more sleep when...




You apply orange highlighter to your lips instead of lipchap.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Writer Update

It's been a while since I've updated everyone on my comings, going, doings, failings, etc. so here be the scoop:

1. All in the Details (my first book) is on hiatus until further notice. I've been working on editing it for the Silhouette Desire line, but that'll require significant edits and time.

2. I'm doing my final edit on Star Attraction (my second book) for the RWA's Golden Heart Contest. I'll need to write the dreaded synopsis (I screwed myself in the Golden Opportunity Contest with that) and then print out and prep the package.

3. I just sent a submission to the Mortimer Literary Agency's Literary Mentorship Award program. The "prize" is working with agent Kelly Mortimer, whose goal to get you published. I figure, meh, why not?

4. I've been working on my fantasy novel as diligently as possible, and have a basic outline and plot. But I've been hard pressed to actually write the thing. The idea and energy sorta drained out of me after I laid it all out on in synopsis form. I think I killed my own creativity by trying to set the boundaries first. Damn.

5. Went to a great workshop today by Eloisa James, a lovely multi-published bestselling author who talked about writing historicals and series. I've lately been drawn toward Gerogian and Victorian-era romances because, let's face it, they're all about ladies with money in pretty dresses who shop and gossip all day. Like Sex in the City, but with corsets and no women's rights.

6. Met New York Times bestselling author Brenda Jackson at work the other day. She was signing copies of her lastest book, Irresistible Forces. My bookshelf of signed bestsellers is growing nicely.

7. My Avatar fanfiction series In the Family Way is moving along slowly. I'm writing a whole bunch of chapters at once so they'll flow a little more rapidly over the next little while. So everyone who's waiting, please, bear with me.

Wish I could say I was reading something interesting (that I don't have to do for work, though I've read plenty of great stuff there, too) but I'm just too tired and my eyes are starting to do funny things. Right now, I've got Maria V. Snyder's Fire Study, Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable, and Gone With the Wind all stacked up on my desk to be read next. They've been sitting there for months.

Back on my mind is choosing a pseudonym. Eloisa made some very interesting points about identity as an author with a web presence. I've always been an advocate for transparency myself; then again, I'm not famous, so I don't mind sharing tales of various health problems and displaying pictures of the interesting ailments that plague me.

She suggested something short so that the font type will be stacked huge on the cover, with a last name that's close to another author you'd like to be associated with (e.g. Amanda Quick and Julia Quinn). I'm totally at a loss, and nothing I've so far strikes me.

Anyone have any more suggestions?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

WHHHHHHHHYYYYY????

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li


I have to agree with The Movie Blog: why make a sequel around the story of a second stringer?

And why cast a white chick in the role of a girl from China? SERIOUSLY. WHHHHHHYYYY????

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Asking for trouble


Ripped from popsci.com:

Starting this Friday, disabled and elderly people in Japan will be able to rent a robotic suit to help them become more mobile. Available in a two-leg (for a $2200-per-month rental fee) or one-leg version ($1500/month), the suit -- called HAL, for Hybrid Assistive Limb -- reads brain signals and directs leg movement.

Yoshiyuki Sankai, the creator of the robot suit, is a professor at the University of Tsukuba and the CEO of Cyberdyne, which is manufacturing and renting the suits.

In a report at Cyberdyne.jp, Sankai explains: "[there are] faint bio-signals on the surface of the skin when human brain tries to move the exoskeleton. The signals are detected and the robot suit moves to support the action."

The HAL suit includes a 22-pound battery worn on the waist to power the leg braces, enabling the wearer to climb stairs and walk for long distances. In a demo held this week, Cyberdyne showed how a man with partial leg paralysis could use the device. Sankai says the suit will not be made available for military or other purposes.


Hold up a sec... I KNOW WHERE THIS STORY GOES!!!!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh, god, it wasn't just a nightmare....

The trailer for the live-action Dragonball movie is up....


We need more getti




How come nobody's ever made Punctuationgetti?


Just a thought for the weekend....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I have my health...

...and it was a beautiful, warm fall day, and I needed the exercise...

BUT BLASPHEME IT, walking 6.5 km from Lawrence Station to Bloor Street in just over an hour because the subways weren't running nearly killed me.

Thank the gods of footwear I was wearing my really comfy German shoes and fancy insoles, or else I would have been limping bloodily home. One girl at Eglinton and Yonge asked the hot dog vendor I was buying a drink from how long it would take to walk to Bloor. "In those shoes?" I asked incredulously, looking at her shiny kitten-heeled gold sandals that looked like they would last to about St. Clair before they turned her feet into shredded jerky. "Good luck. It'll be at least an hour, if you had comfy footwear. You might wanna get some now."

There were others in worse straits I saw on my long trek south: Elderly couples, pregnant women, a lady with a cast and crutches, all stranded because they had no way to get home. And it wasn't just the TTC and their inadequate shuttle buses that barred them from traveling--the sheer volume of traffic and the number of people on the streets made calling for a taxi a ridiculous notion.

And then, as I often do during commuter crises like this when we all realized we're screwed together, I had this crazy idea.

What if every single driver on the road opened their vehicles to two or three pedestrians headed their way? What would it cost them? Sure, you can say whatever you want about that being unsafe, being an invitation to a mugging, etc. But all I could think was, how many people would stop if I put up a sign on a curb that said: Earn Karma Points! Be a Good Samaritan and take a passenger! or Bloor Street or Bust: Will Make Conversation.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Music for the fringe masses...

On the phenomenally funny and often ironic songwriter Jonathan Coulton--I discovered his stuff some time ago, but hadn't taken time to investigate him further. Then I found his Web site where all his songs are available for download.

The genius behind the song "Still Alive" from Portal, the video game, has written other catchy, hilarious tunes. I highly recommend "Re Your Brains", "Code Monkey", and "Tom Cruise Crazy." You can listen to them for free right on the site, and download them and pay whatever you want. They're not copy-protected, but this is the kind of stuff you should pay money for: if anything brightens your day at the office the way "Code Monkey" does, then you know it was worth the $1 asking price.

On another funny, ironic music note, (no pun intended...not really...) Flight of the Conchords has become one of my fave listening time-passers. Not as catchy as some of JoCo's stuff, but better produced, plus they have their own TV show and have made appearances all over the place. I especially like their set on Letterman.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obviously, I need more zzz's

You ever have those sleepy moments at your desk and your eyes are drifting shut and your brain takes you to the edge of REM so that you're thinking crazy thoughts while still semi-awake?

Today I though the book I was reading would be better printed on a slice of whole wheat bread.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thoughts for Food....

Important wisdom I need to pass on about the things in your pantry:

1. Triscuits that are a month past their Best Before date are not tasty, no matter how hungry you are and no matter what you put on them.

2. Bananas and Pepsi don't mix.

3. Bread feet (or heels, as everyone else calls them, though why that is I have no idea since they're obviously the ends of bread, not the just-before-end of a loaf) can, in fact, be eaten. As long as they're toasted and slathered in Nutella. El-la. El-la. Eh, eh, eh....slathered in Nu-tel-la... (Rihanna, I expect a royalty out of this....)

4. Just because the pasta bugs haven't gotten to it yet, doesn't mean it's a good idea to eat it.

5. That half-empty jar of instant coffee crystals someone gave you three years ago...? Face it, you'll never drink the stuff. You don't even like REAL coffee.

6. Potatoes aren't like diamonds. They don't keep forever. And in this case, growth is not a good thing.

7. The powdery dregs of 6-month-old cereal are not part of a balanced breakfast.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where everyone's gone before....


John just got the full Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD collection and as we go through the episodes, I'm starting to rediscover whole new realms of good, bad, really bad, and WTF?

Teri Hathcher was one of those WTFs. As was Famke Janssen and Kirsten Dunst.



I'm still getting over some of the more WTF moments I've been coming across, and I'll definitely be sounding off on them soon, but for now, I think the above speaks for itself.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Culling the herd

Today I took another small but highly significant step forward in cementing the matrimonial pact between me and John:

I've started culling doubles of our DVDs.

When he was away at school for four years, the two of us decided that we could not live without owning our own copies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (special edition, of course), or the second installment of The Mummy, or the first season of Futurama, or... well, you get the picture.

Since I'm setting up a table at the Merrill Collection's SF/Fantasy Yard Sale again this year (Saturday, September 20th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Toronto Reference Library!), I decided now would be the opportune moment to get rid of some excess junk and trim down our burgeoning collection.

I suppose, to the outsider, it seems like a silly thing, this letting go of material goods of which I have an excess. (Two copies of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Really?)

But this is an important step for me. It means I am willing to share. It means that if I want to continue to own a copy of Fellowship of the Ring, I will somehow make our relationship work. It means that I will give up my share of the DVD collection should John and I (knock on wood) ever part ways. It means I put more stock in our relationship than I put in my stuff.

I could go into some long diatribe about how my generation has attached too much meaning to material goods and how spirituality has been lost to consumption and the happiness money brings...but that would just be boring.

Bottom line: I love John more than I love stuff.

Now if only I could get John to cull a few books....

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

ZUTARA LIVES!!!


Squee! Got first place in Dotmoon's Best of Fandom UFO 2007 fanfiction contest round one!!!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me! Round two will determine best of fandom overall, so stay tuned and vote for me through round two!

ZUTARA LIVES!

(Edit: the administrator kindly changed the award to reflect how the characters actually look in the story. Note also that voting for best fanfic overall is now up on Dotmoon. Please read the other entries and vote!)

The Schattenjäger lives!

So I was reading the Toronto edition of Metro today on the bus. when I came across this story about Hurricane Gustav.

It was the first test of New Orleans’ new and improved levees, which are still being rebuilt three years after hurricane Katrina. And it was a powerful demonstration of how federal, state and local officials learned some of the painful lessons of the catastrophic 2005 storm that killed 1,600 people.

“They made a much bigger deal out of it, bigger than it needed to be,” 31-year-old security worker Gabriel Knight said in New Orleans’ nearly empty French Quarter.

“I was here with Katrina. That was a nightmare.
“This was nothing.”


Gabriel Knight?
Really? Does the AP reporter even know that Gabriel Knight was the name of a fictional New Orleans detective from the Sierra game back in the early nineties? And is it just coincidence that both Mr. Knights are 31 years old and work in the security field?

Apparently, the Schattenjäger is alive and well in the French quarter....or someone is making shit up and stealing from the video game industry.

I am so e-mailing Jane Jensen.





Sunday, August 31, 2008

For Better or For Worse

The finale to For Better or For Worse:


I've been reading FBOFW since I was old enough to discover that boring stack of newspapers actually had comics in them. I was rapt with the first animated Christmas special featured on TV about young Elizabeth, still barely out of infancy, loses her stuffed bunny during a hectic Christmas rush at the shopping mall.

Having grown up with the Pattersons as many other Canadians have, I do feel a touch of sadness at its bittersweet "finale." The sense that we will not get to see them again reminds me of the tenuous connections we have to those around us, even fictional characters. The Pattersons have moved on, moved away, and now their lives are private ones, much as the lives of those friends and family who live apart from us, whether it's overseas, in the next county, or beyond life itself.

Over the years, Lynn Johnston brought us her special brand of humor, sweetness and sadness. The close of her family saga with the strip preceding the finale connected old and young, beginnings and endings, and reminded readers that through all of life, thick, thin, good and bad, those who have each other will endure.

Pattersons, you will be missed.

Eight


To the love of my life, my fiance, my first, my last, my everything.

John--Happy eighth anniversary.

Thank you for saying yes.

(And yes, our love sometimes is as creepy as the picture above.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

When bad writing gets worse

The TRW sent along a link on an Amazon discussion board about some of the most overused and cliched phrases that typically appear in romance books.

Read the hilarity here.

As someone who comes across these phrases on a day-to-day basis, I have to say that they're at least a little more comforting and familiar than the ones that try to be fresh and unique. "He slid into her like a hot knife," or "when he came, it was like a gun going off inside her" or "she opened her mouth like a baby bird to receive him" are not phrases I ever want to see in romance. And yet, I have....

A few more classic lines for you that'll make you beg for "he slanted his mouth over hers" (if I've already posted these, forgive me, but they are worth repeating).:


YOU ARE FOREWARNED OF BAD TASTE AND GENERAL BADNESS:


"My goal is to blow you up and, baby, I’m about to make you explode all over the place."
If a guy said this to me, I'd be searching him for grenades.


"His words made every single cell in her body multiply with excitement."
Cancerific arousal!


"This was what you called total mouth concentration, the solicitation of participation and the promise of satisfaction."
"Have you ever heard of the emancipation proclamation?" "I don't listen to hip hop." --South Park


"If she were some kind of sexual grenade, he’d have been honor-bound to take her down, to blanket her with his body and prevent the explosion from maiming the other males in the vicinity."
Another great explosion metaphor. What really gets me about this line is the fact that the man is "honor-bound" to blow himself up on her explosive sexuality. I'd be honor-bound to RUN AWAY.


"She licked him like a lollipop, only his unique taste was strictly adult candy. He groaned and writhed beneath her feast."
Mmm, adult candy. Enjoy a Tax Lollipop, or Bag O' Mortgage Sugar today!


"He’d sprouted a hammer between his legs, iron hard and clamoring for her grip."
Wow, hardware sex. Now, if only I could write a plumbing fixture metaphor...no, wait, that's too easy... Something about a screwdriver...? Nah....


"Like a child with a new doll—a doll with an erection—she ran her fingers through his hair and trailed them down the side of his face and neck."
What the hell, Mattel? First Barbie and Ken break up, and now you're passing out Woody the Pedo Ranger?


"His huge manhood stood up as if he carried a policeman’s club between his legs."
Just the sexy image I want before being bedded: police brutality.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

AUNTHOOD: REDUX


My nephew, Avery Hendrix Kwong

Born this morning, 6 lbs. 5 oz.

Mommy and baby are both doing fine.

He's gonna give Bowie a run for her money in the cuteness department...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mediocrity Strikes Again!

Results for the Toronto Romance Writers Golden Opportunity Contest came in the mail today. No, I didn't make the finals. But I got lots of good feedback.

My rank: 12th place out of 26...exactly mediocre!

To quote Jean Giraudoux: Only the mediocre are always at their best.

YAY! I'm at my best!!!


So the next little while will be spent polishing up this book, Star Attraction, so I can enter it in to the RWA's Golden Heart this year. I also had lots of fantabulous feedback from the stunningly wicked Moor to work with...it's all good, if harrowing to one's ego.

Hey, no one ever said it would be easy...

I HAZ TEH HAPPY

So picture a day of on-and-off rain onthe opening day of the CNE. As is our tradition, John and I go to shop, eat overpriced corndogs and BBQ corn on the cob, play expensive games to win cheesy prizes, and generally make ourselves sick and silly.

We stop outside the Food Building--one of our must-see stops on our annual EXpedition.

Me: So whaddya wanna do now?
John: Dunno. Let me get out the map.
Me: Aw, you don't need to do that...
John: No, no, just hang on a minute...
Me: *staring off into the sky, wondering about the ominous clouds*...
John: Hey.


John: Will you marry me?

Me (in my head): ...*GOGGLE* BUH? *GOGGLE* SQUEEEEE!!!!

Me: YES!!!


Before you ask:

1) No date set. We’re going to enjoy a longer engagement so that John can finish his studies and find employment.

2) He had the ring on him for most of the week, and was looking for the Right Moment to propose. Turns out that after I'd won him Necky the Engagement Giraffe (below) playing Whack-a-Mole, it was the Right Moment.



3) Yes, it was a big surprise. As John notes, I wasn't expecting to see anything until after he graduated.


Don't mind me, I'll be squeeing for a while.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I'm scooping John on this one....

Barack rolled!





Based solely on his dancing skills, I'd vote for him. 8 )

Thursday, August 07, 2008

60 episodes of Bleach in 60 seconds...

My summary on the first 60 episodes of Bleach in 60 seconds or less.

SPOILER WARNING AHEAD.

Episodes 1-3:

Ichigo: Hello, ghosts!
Rukia: *loom*
Hollows: RAHR!
Ichigo: Ah! Monsters!
Rukia: Hollows! Boo! *saves him*
Ichigo: Help me save my family!
Rukia: Here, take my powers. *Almost dies*
Ichigo: Rahr! *brandishes incredibly phallic sword, saves everyone*
Rukia: Hey! Still alive! And now you're gonna do my job! *clings*

Next twenty-two episodes:

Ichigo: *angst*
Rukia: *angst*

*fight fight fight fight fight*
*saves people*
*useless side characters introduced*

Ichigo: Look! It's the marketable stuffed-animal sidekick, Kon!
Audience: Awww, I want one!

Episodes 25-53:

Ichigo/Rukia: *heart?*
Rukia: Sorry, I'm becoming attached. Gotta go!
Kuchiki Byakuya: Come with us, criminal!
Renji: Yeah!
Ichigo: No!
Renji: *fatally wounds Ichigo*
Rukia: See ya! *cries bitter tears*
Ichigo: *trains with sandal hat guy in a five-episode arch montage*
Useless side characters: *also train with recently acquired powers*
Ichigo + USC: Let's go save Rukia!

*They go*
*They get separated*
*They fight baddies*
*Ichigo is mortally wounded about ten times in five days, but somehow manages to revive himself via deus ex machina*
*Lots of training sequences*
*Bunch of court intrigue that is interesting, but distracts from Ichigo's enormous phallic powers*
*Nostalgia intertwined with nonlinear storytelling=lots of hazy, saccharine flashbacks*

Renji: Rukia! (*heart?*)
Rukia: Ichigo!
Renji: Ichigo?!
Ichigo: Rukia. Renji--take her away!
Rukia: Ichigo???

*More fighting*
*More court intrigue*
*Useless side characters remain useless*

Episodes 54-60:

*More fighting*
*Baddies flee*

Ichigo: Yay!
Kuchiki Byakuya: Sorry, lil' sis. I was a jackass.
Rukia: You really are my brother-in-law?

End.

P.S. If Soul Society is "Heaven", then it sucks balls.
Worst. Heaven. Ever.

...And yet, I am compelled to watch the rest....

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Hancocked (not about the movie)

Lately, I've been getting a lot of flack about my signature.

Somewhere over the past 20 or so years since I developed the swirly, jagged scribbling representation of my name, it has evolved into a lazy pair of initials. I still have my library card from the days when they'd first switched the Toronto Public Library systems from punch cards to bar codes--that was the first thing I ever penned my signature on--so I know what it was supposed to look like.

When I was 17, before the days of swipe cards, a manager at a former place of employment forged my signature on a time sheet so that she could fax it on to HR so we could all get paid. I caught it later and asked about it, to which said manager admitted her crime in the name of expediency. It was fine by me since I had barely done any hours that week and I really didn't care. But when I think about it now, it's kinda dumb to need to rely on something that no one can really verify. It wasn't as if HR was going to call every single employee and ask whether they'd signed their name on the time sheet.

This past month, I got recalled to the driver's licensing office to resign my license renewal because my signature was considered too easy to forge. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do at that point: use a signature that wasn't mine and that I probably wouldn't be able to recreate at a moment's notice? I ended up adding a loopy line and dot that I hadn't previously put in. I really don't think it's going to help. Hell, I don't know if I can duplicate it now--I've been practicing, but it seems forged to me every time.

Then, as I was shopping, I noticed a lot more people asking for my driver's license along with my credit card. Since my driver's license was being renewed, and I didn't have any other picture ID, I looked extra suspicious with a big "temporary" sticker on my card and a signature that looked too easy to duplicate on both.

What I'm trying to figure out is, with all the technology we have with photo ID, and all the abilities we have to cross-reference credit checks, etc., along with the fact that credit ard companies are insured against credit fraud, why are we still relying on a scribble to identify ourselves? What's to say that that bit of handwriting is mine?

"Signing off" on something doesn't make a whole lot of sense in my brain, either. At the workplace, it's a given that, if you sign your initials to something, you are endorsing the legitimacy of a document and all that it contains. Very little, if anything, prevents me from signing someone else's initials, and thus putting the onus of responsibility on someone else.

It all kinda makes me wonder about what celebrities have to deal with. In the book Starstruck: When a Fan Gets Close to Fame, the author, who'd been an avid autograph collector, talks to professionals who stalk celebs to get them to sign stuff they can then sell for big bucks. There's a story in there about Courtney Love signing someone else's name on some guy's dress shirt...I think. (Don't quote me on that, I can't remember the details.) And then I think about the hilarious Simpsons scene at Comic Book Guy's shop: "That is a rare photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore."

Anyhow, how is some poor shmuck shelling out for authentic signed photos supposed to know that's really Tom Cruise's signature (left)? What do they have to compare it to? And really, does a gold seal with yet another signed document verifying its authenticity actually mean something? I can forge that with my color printer and some stickers from the dollar store.

Surely we have the means in this day and age to do iris/thumbprint/DNA scans a la GATTACA?

Mr. Cruise, can I have a sample of your hair, please?