December 30, 2008

Christmas Vinyl

This year I walked away with an impressive assortment of albums:

Iron Maiden - Number of the Beast

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Metallica - Master of Puppets (collector's edition)

Yo Yo Ma - Japanese Melodies

Harry Nilsson - self titled

Manhattan Transfer Live

Brahms: Violin Concerto (performed by Leonard Kogan)

Luciano Pavarotti - Verismo Arias

San Francisco Un-scene - Various Artists

December 21, 2008

Christmas Reading List 2008

James Joyce

Treading Water
Anne DeGrace

John Steinbeck

Upton Sinclair

Now, if I can get at least two of these covered, I'll be golden. Christmases are not known for peace and quiet where I come from.

December 17, 2008

Movies Await 2008

Here's a list I'm determined to check off. These films all boast good casts and, above all, great directors I admire.

The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky)

Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood)

The Class (Francois Begaudeau)

Doubt (John Patrick Shanley)

The Reader (Stephen Daldry)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher)

December 14, 2008

Stop Being so Damn Passive

After a semester of crunching out some killer prose, not to mention a paper for Japanese Film that garnered me 100% (I know, I paper is ever that good), I can now sit down and reassess a couple short stories to get them ready for submission. Good teachers this semester, in particular Genni Gunn who was kind enough to be ruthless with her comments regarding my work.

Many Creative Writing instructors don't want to discourage students from writing. Someone submits a heap of horse-shit, wrought with grammar errors, incoherent metaphor, poor narrative arc--all signs of either a) too busy (or lazy) to really buck down and write something of quality or b) in desperate need of criticism. The teacher, upon reading said pile of dung, proceeds to coddle the student for several minutes before daintily suggesting they may want to consider using a spell-checker. Bollocks. A little truth is helpful every now and then. Maybe some people should be discouraged.

Enter Genni Gunn. She read several of my stories, all pretty good--better than anything else I've written to date, and got straight to the heart of the matter. Here's our conversation at the last peer edit session:

I think I've noticed a pattern.


All your characters are passive.


Your language is good, setting is good, metaphor is good. But your characters wander through their stories doing nothing. They allow things to happen to them. They need to be active.



It hurt to hear that. I mean, you work so hard on perfecting the complexities of good story-writing only to find out you've bunged up the simple must-do. But I'm glad she just said it. I mean, what serious writer wouldn't want to know what they're doing wrong? I wonder why so many other teachers let this obvious problem slip by?

So Genni, thank you for the A+ this semester, thanks for tearing my work a new a-hole. Much appreciated.

December 4, 2008

Rick Mercer Needs to Form A Coalition

Ever wanted free ring-side tickets to P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth? Well, look no further Canada. Before our very eyes, during what appears to be significant worldwide financial crisis, we get the circus of political posturing. Who knows what this will lead to, but we all know Harper has had this coming for awhile. Bullies never figure out that at some point people fight back. At some point they bare their teeth and scrape at whatever means to make you fall.

Always funny to read Rick Mercer's take on it. Who else can compare Steven Harper to Knut the polar bear?