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Originally posted on in response to a Livejournal's Writer's Block Question #4400

Serpents and snakes, loose teeth and fungus! O my!

I've had a few recurring dreams over the years — at least, variotions on the same dreams, more like different stagings of the same play than television re-runs. Dreams of being Batman (yes, really; stop laughing at me!) in particular, yes to be re-hashed almost on a regular basis.

The one that's freshest (because most terrifying) in my mind, though, is happily one my subconscious has not bothered to revive for more than half a decade.

That dreamw would usually emerge, unexpected, from something much more mundane. I would be going about my dream business only to realize that some of my teeth were starting to get a little loose in my gums. Soon after, that patches of some kind of fuzz started growing on parts of my body. And spreading.

And then I would wander into a house infest with serpents. Not snakes, serpents. In dream-logic, snakes were gross animals, but still animals. Serpents were evil. Not just gross, but they would be locked in place on the floor, undulating like young trees in a strong wind, and emiting waves of wrongness like invisible but cancerous pollen.

Right around the point when I would be compelled to pass through this room I would realize that I was dying. The teeth falling out of my head were a symptom, and the moss spreading over my body both sign and cause of whatever monstrous illness was doing me in.

Shaving the moss back could slow the progress of the disease, but not by much. I was dying and knew it and the serpents were everywhere ...

Need I say that when I woke up, I would be drenched with sweat? I didn't think so. Those were fucking awful ...

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Even in dreams, and even as the sort of special advisor who calls Barack Obama "Barry" rather than "Mr. President", don't just wander into the family bathroom. Also, don't mistake your bathrobe for a coat. And always make sure you're wearing a shirt.

That is all.

And coming soon! A special report!

Drama! from the barren wastelands of the Precious Left!

The Re-Education of Geoffrey Dow"

Don't miss it!

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It's a ridiculously geeky comment on my subconscious, but when I awoke this "morning" it was with a sad farewell to my hopes of a Dreamwidth invite coming way. Nobody, I thought, will send me an invite. Surely, this will mark the beginning of Young Geoffrey's decline into middle aged web-irrelevancy!

Yet when I checked my email, there awaiting my eager clicking-finger was a message from sweet [livejournal.com profile] mijopo offering me an invite. And yea! a few hours later there did appear yet another message indicating same, this time from the gentle [livejournal.com profile] beable.

Since you were there first, [livejournal.com profile] mijopo, I have with gratitude taken your invite and created ed-rex.dreamwidth.org, though it does not, as yet, contain any entries. [livejournal.com profile] beable, I thank you, but [livejournal.com profile] mijopo beat you to the punch.

All right. That's it for now. I've a hockey game to watch and then an all-nighter as a roadie coming up. If I survive, I'll try to report on the latter in the morrow.
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Since the other person's dream is almost always a bore to you, Gentle Reader, I'll keep this brief.

* * *


I took to my bed no more than two and a half hours ago - midnightish, in a word; les habitants had gone down to inglorious defeat and it seemed the realm of Morpheus was my only alternative to despair.

Nevertheless, 'twas not much more than an hour's rest that saw me awake again, stumbling to the commode, whence to void my bladder - oh! though nearly incontinent eve!

Yet make it I did, and so returned to the downy comforts of my lonely bed.

To sleep? Aye. And to dream at last.

It was to Bakka(-Phoenix) that my nerdly fantasies did lead me. Sweaty from a swift and unexpected perambulation upon my two-wheeled steed, my bicycle helmet in hand I found myself inside those air-conditioned, book-lined walls.

Even in my sleep, I marvelled they were open so late.

Was it The Last Dangerous Visions which drew me thither? Or perhaps the long-lost conclusion the Gormenghast books?

Alas! Nothing so romantic.

Indeed, t'was at the periodical shelves I did find myself. Though in life I do subscribe, the latest Analog did catch my eye and the latest Asimov's I did spurn, but also there was a double-issue - an anniversary no doubt, and even without benefit of having read it, much improved over the sad reality - of Neo-Opsis for which I dug deeply into my wallet. It contained, among a plethora of short stories and novellas, a three-page verse by Isaac Asimov himself and that did close the deal.

At the counter, I asked the Gentle Clerk a question concerning the details of stock-keeping and maintaining accurate books come year-end, but the answer has faded from my fevered mind.

And then, just before I climbed aboard my trusty steed to ride into the night, I came awake and so to the keyboard once again, to bore my Gentle Readers with this pointless anecdote.

Good night! Farewell! I will treasure that non-existent magazine if I can!
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New words: 1,072
Total wordcount: 72,123
Deadline: May 1

It was as if my subconscious went off on a week-long vacation following my last, triumphant, progress note. For the past week, I'd fire up the machine, stare at the screen until the emptiness became too much, then shut down the word-processor in favour of a game or a movie. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Today's 1,000+ words didn't flow, but at least they came. My heroine is still in the same bar and I am still not sure how she is going to leave it, but last night my imagination began to play again and I think I see some kind of light at the exit.

The thing has structured itself in four parts, I see that now, and I have at least a vague idea of how the final one needs to happen. Will happen. Should happen. Something like that.

All right. I know. I'm babbling.

* * *


Speaking of babbling, last night I had the strangest transportation-related dream it has ever been my pleasure to experience. I speak, of course, of long-distance skateboarding. Y'see, I created a new way to locomote on the thing: crouching on the board with my feet splayed so that I could use my toes to keep myself in motion. I was half-way to Sudbury before I woke up and realized just how anotomically impossible it was. Dreams are funny things, yessirree Bob.
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Another 2,500 words yesterday and 1,500 today. Feeling relatively good about the novel just now and really pleased with my recent progress. I feel like I'm getting a handle on the two main characters and the growing conflict between them. I know how it is going to end (or think I do; when you're writing without a detailed outline - and maybe even when you are - you never know what may happen t'wixt brain and keyboard).

Either way, being able to now honestly say I am approaching 50,000 words is a very good feeling.

Also on the go is a non-fiction piece I hope to finish up and post here today or tomorrow, possibly as a draft for something I might try to sell somewhere. Or maybe just a relatively serious journal entry. We'll see.

* * *


Woke up around 3:00 o'clock this morning having had a remarkably detailed and evocative dream. Better still, it contained a genuine plot and linear narrative, with an honest-to-god begining, middle and end. I quickly got out of bed and fired up the beast, then rattled off over 700 words of notes, thinking I might have a really good SF story on my hands.

Upon reflection this afternoon, however, I fear my subconscious may have in fact more or less ripped off a story I read in an anthology sometime in the past year or so. Need to think on this, and maybe see if I can dig the story out of whatever volume it's occupying and re-read it to find out for sure whether my worries that my story is a rip-off are legitimate a lot.

I suddenly find myself remembering with a certain envy a childhood friend, Roger. He and I both wrote and drew comics and he also wrote short stories - not good ones, because he didn't actually read much besides comics and chess books. But at least he didn't have to worry that his stories might be pastiches of something he'd read elsewhere (unless of course it was something from Master of Kung Fu.

Mind you, there's nothing wrong - and a great deal right - about writing pastiches when you're in grade 7, isn't there?
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I've often played little games of self-manipulation - setting the clock ahead and then pretending the displayed time is correct in hopes of making it into the office on a regular basis; loudly predicting that les Canadiens will lose a hockey game so that the Hockey Gods (who, apparently, are of such a low level of intelligence as to make the Gods of Asgard look like an ale-reeking troupe of Shakespeares and Einsteins); and in general, low-balling my expectations of good fortune so that, if they do not come to pass I can comfort myself that I was right or, if by some miracle what I want does happen, I will swallow the bitter pill of Error with a ladle of honeyed Victory.

Today has been a day of procrastination, of "sharpening my pencils", as they said in the good days. Not by intent, I hasten to assure you.

It began as Sundays often do, with The Toronto Stars ridiculously easy - but big! - crossword (and yes, with the rest of the paper), most of a pot of coffee and a breakfast that left me feeling remarkably bloated - I say "remarkably", because honestly, a one-egg omelet, half-grapefruit, two slices of bag, 1 slice of toast and a small side of baked beans isn't that much food in North America in 2008 - is it? Well, I suppose it goes some ways towards explaining my new, relatively svelte shape. But I digress.

I sat down at the the ol' keyboard, determined to put in my 1,000 words before getting back to the Hunt for the (Latest) Love of My Life - or even a temporary cuddle-buddy (yes, I love euphemisms as much as more than the next guy). But decided to check my friends' page before getting down to work.

And that damned sabotabby had to go posting about some discussions of Leonard Cohen which, in a not-all-that roundabout way led me to the SF writer Elizabeth Bear's LJ, which in turn saw me spend literally hours reading a year-old discussion about possible sexism in the SF field over at nightshadebooks.com, of which I had previously been entirely unaware - Nightshadebooks, that is; well, and the discussion as well. (Also, if you're wondering about the masturbating vampire, see Bear's column over at Subterranean Press. Another site of which I had had no knowledge.)

But I digress again.

Long story short, I didn't get my 1,000 words written today. And yet, I am feeling much better now about the novel than I was when I was deliberately procrastinating.

For the last week or so, I've been telling people that I was "closing in on" (or words to that effect) the 35,000 word-mark of what is tentatively called The Jewel of Eternity (title almost certainly going to be changed!), and felt like I was being, well, a trifle optimistic in saying so.

But, sharpening yet another already-honed metaphorical pencil, I decided to do a proper word-count. And ...

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the wonders that can come of downplaying one's expectations: 43,772!

To say the number shocked me would not be an understatement. Nor that it made me suddenly feel much better about the project than I had been. I have been more and more falling victim to Imposter's Syndrome, that belief the one is living a lie and might at many moment be called on it. That shadow still hovers at my back but its power is now much diminished.

Naturally, a lot of words doth not a good book make; nor even half a book. But discovering one is 10,000 words further along than one had thought is nevertheless very Good Medicine indeed.

I am also sticking to my vow not to read what I have written until the first draft is complete. As I think I've said before, this course of action naturally adds to my anxiety about the novel's quality, but continue in my belief that to do otherwise would be a recipe for unmitigated disaster.

And that's about it, really. Unless you care that for the second time in a week I dreamed that I was once again gainfully employed. In this one, for some reason, the boss brought in the best chocolate cake I it had ever been my pleasure to consume. That was actually the only time I can remember having a dream in which taste (and what a taste!) was an actual tactile sensation.

All right. That really is it.


Post-scriptum: To all of you bitching about the winter: Shaddap! This is Canada, folks; we're supposed to have snow on the ground in March - and plenty of it! Besides, we're not likely to see this kind of wonderful wintery wonderland again for a good long time. Find a hill and slide down it, or something.
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I appear to be growing more nerdly by the day as this new year begins. Yesterday, I awoke with what I thought - on awakening, at least; sadly, I didn't write it down - was both a concise and accurate account (as it were) of inflation in a capitalist society, its causes and its solutions.

The account was provided, ghod help me, by Doctor Who (tenth, I believe).

More to the point, said account was but a digression in a much longer narrative, akin in some small way, to the final hundred pages of War and Peace only less annoying and much less long.

Completely to the point, since I've been writing (as opposed to blogging, or talking about writing; as of yesterday, the word-count stands at 19,057 - or 18,046, it you don't count the HTML encoding), my dreams have been growing increasingly complex, increasingly coherent, and consistently sillier, whimsical even, despite their linear narrative qualities.

I won't go into details about this morning's dream, both because one's dreams tend to bore the shit out of other people and especially because writing the above four paragraphs has driven most of the details from my mind. Suffice it to say, the elements included my mother as a secret agent-like figure, all competence and clever ploys; the pleasures of cycling in Toronto's Junction; shopping at No Frills; Dalek's - and a new CAR!

Dreams are madness, I tell you. Madness! But so much fun sometimes.

But I digress. I have a theory about the lightness of my dreams lately and how their recent happy nature may be tied up with the fact I have been writing again.

Oh. You want to hear about the theory? Well, why not.

It occurred to me, as I was typing the first few paragraphs above, and in so doing, driving out the details of my dream, that although I have had long moments of unhappiness and powerful feelings of loneliness recently, those feelings have all sprung from tangible causes. I.e., I've been lonely because I've been single for too long and because I haven't been making much of an effort to spend time with friends, those feelings hitting particularly emphasized over the holidays.

However, I haven't been suffering particularly for neurotic reasons, nor have I been "self-medicating" myself into a zombie stupor each and every night.

And so, being left without negative fuel, without neurotic misery to process, my dreams' only function (on the surface, at least; let's leave possible bio-chemical causes to one side) has lately been to entertain me while I slumber - and they've been doing a bang-up job.

Thank you, subconscious.

* * *


On another note entirely, it was with great, nerdly pleasure that I learned when I was last visiting my brother, that my brilliant and beautiful blond-haired niece has also become obsessed with the Good Doctor (Doctor Who, you fools, not Asimov!). So it was to me a wondrous joy to be able to provide her with a copy of this year's Christmas Special, and just as pleasurable to spend a couple of hours last night burning her the first two series of the "new" episodes.

As a bonus, I was able to include a four-parter from 1978 or 1979, "The Pirate Planet" staring Tom Baker and written by Douglas Adams! Much to my pleasure, it featured a battle between the Doctor's ridiculous mechanical dog, K-9, and a villains mechanical parrot.

It is through such sweet silliness that we are distinguished from the rest of the animal kingdom.

That is all.

Well no, it's not. I trust you all noted my previous entry, in which I correctly called the outcome of last night's Iowa Caucases.

Just crowin', that's all.
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... I'm damned if I'm not going to try to figure last night's out.

My sweet subconscious served up a veritable pot-pourri of unrelated cultural and personal detritus this morning before the cat's pitiful yet piercing cries for food managed to bring me to consciousness. Read more. )
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Woke up this morning leaving my job at the high-rise offices of no less a publishing empire than Playboy magazine itself. What precisely I did was and remains unclear, but my duties were of editorial nature and, as such - though he did not make an appearance - ones that brought me into regular, if not frequent, contact with "Hef" himself. Were I an average North American of (ahem) a Certain Age, it might be noteworthy that I did not even once come into contact with one of the famous Bunnies. But I am not and never have been an average North American and even as a callow adolescent, the Playboy Bunny never much appealed to me as an example of male sexuality (what? ya thought that bourgeois version of Neverland was an example of female sexuality? Puh-lease!).

Meanwhile, I worked with a woman I was once very close to, but with whom I long ago had a major falling-out, culminating in one of my infamous, multi-page letters, to which (in life) she replied with a brief note that said something like, "Fuck you. Then I'll get new friends."

Many years later, we had a reconciliation of sorts, brought on mostly by the scouring of the winds of time, rather than any real change of mind or heart on either of our parts.

Nevertheless, in the dream, the wounds were still raw and bloody and I awoke as we stormed off in different directions.

But what I find kind of delightful, from an amateur of cheap psychoanalysis, is my guess as to why Playboy should have figured in the dream at all. In short, it was Henry Kuttner's fault.

Y'see, while briefly conscious yesterday (I think I managed 8 hours), I pulled from my shelf a 35 year-old copy of The Best of Henry Kuttner, who under such names as Lewis Padgett (when writing with his wife, C.L. Moore) and Lawrence O'Donnell, among many others as well as his own, was one of the best pulp and post-pulp short story writers in the business. He (and Moore, as I recall, though her name is nowhere to be found in the volume at hand) wrote the marvelous story, "Mimsy Were the Borogoves", to which I have elsewhere alluded from time to time. But I digress.

I was getting to the mysterious workings of dream-consciousness.

Now, Kuttner died in 1958 and to my knowledge never made an appearance in the pages of Playboy. But the volume from which I read last night contains an introduction by Ray Bradbury, whose prose has graced those slick (and oft-slickened - ahem) pages. Indeed, one such appearance was the primary reason I bought my 2nd (of 4, in total) issue of that magazine, many years ago.

Though why my former friend should also have put in an appearance is a less-clear example of workings of my unconscious. The origins of that strand in the web remain a mystery to me.

But onwards.

Bradbury praised Kuttner as the man who told him (Bradbury) to "shut up", to stop talking about the stories he wanted to write and to sit down and actually write them. Bradbury claimed he thenceforth wrote a story a week and so reminded me that my own biggest problem is my continuing lack of discipline.

And so, having mostly emerged from my brief illness (the cough is still there but no longer painful, the nose barely running; thanks for asking) and feeling re-energized from sleeping 16 hours out of 24 over the past few days, I feel once again inspired to "shut up" and "just do it".

And so, I'm off. Exercise, breakfast, then some serious time behind the keyboard.
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Dreams sure are funny things. As a fer'instance, Laura has been making cameo appearances in mine lately, maybe for the past month-and-half; prior to that (and, of course, only to the best of my recollection), she showed up only once or twice in the 10 or so months since the break-up.

But that's peculiar funny, and I really meant ha-ha funny. )
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Time flows ever on. I wrote the following last night, already 24 hours after I had inteneded to. And I figure I had better post it now, or it will lose all temporal significance.

Wednesday stated well, with Laura making a cameo dream-appearance just before I woke. She looked terrible and my dream-persona took some sadistic pleasure in telling her so. As best as I can remember, that was her first appearance in a dream of mine (that I recall) since I kicked her out last July. I don't put much stock in dream-analyses - certainly, not in terms of analyzing my own, which are usually pretty straight-forward; whatever symbolism they contain are usually as obvious as a clown-nose at a funeral - but I am tempted to think this one might be a sign I have ascended to a new emotional plateau when it comes to the ex, that my anger is now draining away like melt-water off a glaciated mountain peak.

In any event, better still was the The Globe and Mail's letter's page.

I had sent them a letter on Tuesday, one largely based on my recent rant about the CBC's coverage of Laval's soccergate. For those of you without a subscription, allow me to indulgence myself by reprinting the full text of my letter below.
Both your reporters, Tu Thanh Ha and Heather Scoffield (Red card
renews Quebec hijab debate) and columnist Sheema Khan (Hijabs: Don't
kick up a fuss) missed the real story in the Mansour affair - that is,
that not only did Ms Mansour's team-mates support her in her desire to
wear the hijab while participating in a soccer tournament by giving up
up their own chance to play, but so did four of the other teams in
that tournament.

That petty officials will sometimes glom onto Muslim head-gear as a
symbol of "too much" multiculturalism is news on the order of dog
bites man.

That over 40 11-year old girls would decide to sacrifice their own
participation in what for them must have been an important event for
what looks to be a matter of principle is news more along the lines of
man biting dog.

This reader, at least, would like to know more about the kids who
decide to support an openent's right to express her religion and so
gave up a tournament they had no doubt worked very hard to attend.

Perhaps not a multi-million dollar contract from Penguin Books for my first novel, but kind of gratifying nevertheless - who doesn't enjoy seeing his or her name in print? And coming on the heels of last weekend's 3,000-word review of Richard Dawkins' latest book, it had me feeling a little inspired, writing-wise.

And finally, one of you made the decision to take your journal private, having decided your future might be compromised by what you had previously thought okay to air in full view of the great unwashed.

I amused myself (and, I think, you as well) by penning the following pastiche.
Twas brillig, and the slithy bots
Did gyre and gimble across the web:
All mimsy were the gigabytes,
And the pages still online.

"Beware the the Wayback Machine my girl!
The bots that bite, the caches that catch!
Beware the sav'ed posts, and shun
The frumious Server Farm!"

She took her vorpal code in hand:
Longtime the manxome code she sought -
So rested she by the Memory Stick,
And typed a while in thought.

And, as with uffish words she typed,
The Wayback Machine, with hard-drives spinning,
Came whiffling through the fibre-optic wire,
And saved-to-disk as it came!

Bit, byte! Bit, byte! And through and through
The vorpal code went snicker-snack!
She left it dead, and with it's drive
She galumphed to home alive.

"And has though slain the Internet?
Come to my arms, my beamish girl!
O packet day! Callooh! Callay!"
Young Geoffrey chortled in his joy.

Twas brillig, and the slithy bots
Did gyre and gimble across the web:
All mimsy were the gigabytes,
And the pages still online.

Granted, it's a poor imitation of the original, but it made me smile to write it.

All right. Time to make my way through the slush to the office. Maybe next time I'll discuss my adventures in the online dating world, and how it seems the pornographication of our culture contines apace. Last week three different teenage girls sent me nude photos of themselves; it sure ain't the 1970s, folks.
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Forewarning


(The following post is quite long, probably not very well-written, and almost certainly of very little interest to most of you. But I for some reason had to get it out of my system; previous attempts have been a good deal more ambitious, but that very ambition seemed to lead to pretentiousness and prose of the purplest hue. And so, you’ve been warned – mind you, I think some of the pictures are pretty nice.)

It may seem kind of insensitive to make my first post in weeks an item that has almost nothing to do with the latest "natural disaster" to entertain those of us enslaved to the silicon teat.

But what the hell. I don't know anyone in New Orleans, I've never visited the city, and like most of you, my interest is the morbid abstraction of a westerner who - on a gut level - still does not believe that IT CAN HAPPEN HERE.

Welcome to the 21st century, people. Whether or not the recent increase in number and severity of hurricanes has much or anything to do with "global warming", this is just a taste of things to come. While icecaps melt and the Dutch are getting nervous, and those of us with brains and means are moving to higher ground, we can at the same time enjoy the smaller, human, pleasures that life sometimes provides.

* * *


First of all, for those who are wondering, New York didn't happen (for which my anxieties are mostly thankful). Between Laura's lack of photo-idea, the very short time-line, and the fact the producers offered a contract that wanted exclusive control of all of Laura's images in perpetuity (an unenforceable clause, I suspect, but still ...), we decided this was an opportunity whose knock she could afford to ignore.

Her other new career is moving, though neither as quickly nor quite as lucratively as we had hoped. Our financial situation, in the short run, well, sucks. We're living on my credit cards for the next couple of weeks. The longer-term is looking better, though. I'm looking at a 15% raise on the first of October, retroactive to May 24, which chunk of money will go a good way to keeping the wolves from the door.

And despite the financial stressors, the weeks since my last past have been good ones. If you're interested, below the cut you'll find a travel report, a lot of photos and some soppy appreciation of some of my family. La Belle Province, Snuggling George W. Bush and More! )

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