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Yoinked from sabotabby's LJ.

And cut for the protection of your friends' page. )

44. What song do you want played at your funeral?

I want more than one, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to include this one:

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silverflight8 gave me the letter M.

Something I hate: Mortality. See "Someone I know", below.

Something I love: That's easier. Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, a series of novels that puts the E back int eh word epic. And more, a story that is forever noting a reader's expectations, then giving them something very different. Robinson kills three of his most charismatic players in the first volume and has the heir apparent simply ignore his "destiny" in the subsequent two. And what's not to like about a series that features middle-aged (and then old women among its prime movers, as well as not one, but two, constitutional conventions as part of its action?

Somewhere I've been: Montebello. A very small town on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River/Rivière des Outaouais, about halfway between Ottawa and Montreal. It features a hotel that is (I think) the world's largest log cabin, and is a 10 or 15 minute drive from Parc Omega, a drive-through animal "safari" in which moose demand carrots at your window, wolves loll about only metres away and wild boar engage in public sex acts without so much as a by-your-leave. Great snow-showing, too.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Manzanillo, Cuba. Why? Because it starts with the letter M and 9 days was not nearly long enough a visit to that country.

Someone I know: Maria. Well, I don't know her well, but we went out once for a pint, to talk books and publishing two or three years ago. She's a Serious Christian and it turned out we didn't share much in common philosophically or aesthetically, but what made it memorable for me was that (a) she was an attractive woman who was (b) roughly my age and (c) a fucking grandmother. See "Something I Hate", above.

A film I like: My Own Private Idaho, which is in part a really ideosyncratic modern-dress re-telling of Shakespeare's Henry IV diptych, with Prince Hal as a narcoleptic rent-boy. I showed it to an ex-girlfriend whose response — "That's the dumbest movie I ever saw!" — probably set the stage for that relationship's demise.

A book I like: The Motion of Light In Water, Samuel R. Delany's 1980s memoir of "sex and science fiction writing in the East Village, 1957-1965." Part literary memoir, part social history, part personal recollections of a sexual life that, by now (according to the author himself) includes sexual encounters with something on the order of 50,000 (yes, 50K) different (almost all) men. Fascinating on all kinds of levels and, of course, brilliantly-written.

A (actress in a) television show I like: Tatiana Maslany. Because she plays something like 8 different characters on Orphan Black, and Orphan Black's 4th series starts tomorrow night, and she's brilliant and I am hoping against hope that the writers know where they're going with what is so far a brilliant show. Another Battlestar Galactica will break my heart.

Comment if you want to get a letter too! (You can cheat too, if you want to.)

ETA: I am shocked, appalled, and kind of disgusted that, given the letter M, I was unable to remember just how much (a lot) I love the work of Hayao Miyazaki. *Young Geoffrey hangs his head in shame*

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Ten Books or, Where are the ladies at?

"In your status line list 10 books that have stayed with you. Don't take more than a few minutes. Don't think too hard. They don't have to be great works or even your favorites. Just the ones that have touched you."

These sort of lists are always nervous-making, but they're kind of fun — and maybe even a little interesting, too. Meme yoinked from Samuel R. Delany's facebook page. To which he seems pretty liberal about responding to friend requests.

Note that I arbitrarily limited myself to fiction. Non-fiction might make for another meme, another day.

  1. Dhalgren (by Delany himself);

  2. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien;

  3. Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carrol;

  4. The Kraken Wakes, by John Wyndham;

  5. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller;

  6. Something Happened, by Joseph Heller;

  7. The World According to Garp, by John Irving;

  8. The Mars Trilogy (Red, Green, Blue), by Kim Stanley Robinson;

  9. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy; and

  10. Barney's Version, by Mordechai Richler

I said "kind of fun" above, but the results of my not taking "more than a few minutes" to come up with a list of books "that have touched" me is more than a little disconcerting. For a number of reasons.

First, I confess to being a little embarassed by how genre the damned thing is? Where's Goethe's Faust? Where's The Magic Mountain or Julius Caesar? What happened to The Waves or The Edible Woman?

In short, nevermind genre, where are all the women at?

While I was (briefly) thinking about it, names like Le Guin and Russ quickly came to mind, but I rejected the former because I've been more moved by her non-fiction than her fiction, and for the latter, although The Female Man impressed hell out of me as a youth, I can scarecely remember it now — and I've re-read it more than once in the intervening years.

Virginia Woolf always left me cold. In truth, if I were to wipe the slate clean, I might replace the Tolstoy or Irving with Pride and Prejudice, but when you get right down it, I don't think I've read all that many women writers. Certainly as a percentage, it's much lower than chance — even in a genre like SF (and F) — would allow. (And, y'know, much as I loved it back in the day, The Mists of Avalon hasn't aged well at all.)

Be that as it may. The books that are on that somewhat arbitrary exercise in memory and prejudice share another commonality: I read most of them quite a long time ago, at least for the first time. The Lord of the Rings and Dhalgren are pools into which I've dipped again and again (and again), and with the exception of War and Peace, I've revisited the others all more than once. As for Tolstoy, I doubt I'll go there again; it's on the list more for how much his lunatic's 100 page diatribe on the inevitability of history and the impotence of the individual to effect change is what I remember more than anything else from the book.

Still, it's a somewhat instructive exercise. What are your top 10 most memorable books?

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From SilverFlight8, who saddled me with the letter R! And because this takes me back to my blogger's youth, when words came so much easier than they seem to today.

Something I hate: Political repression. Living in a country whose government is looking more and more like that of a third-world dictatorship, and allied with a super-power that seems to do nothing other than wage pointless wars, I'm finding myself both frightened and enraged at a world run by pathological "leaders" whose answer to every problem seems to be give the rich more money and beat the hell out of the poor.

Something I love:Well, that's easy: Raven. Of course, that's not her real name, so maybe I need to look elsewhere for an answer.

Well, last night while waiting in my van for a crew at the airport I spotted a bunny hopping across the roadway, and so I am now reminded of a recent culinary discovery: Rabbit! As cute as they are, our long-eared friends are also delicious, like chicken except with flavour. And I have taken to making a Chinese-style (lots of star anise and garlic and ginger and chili peppers, with lotus root and dried mushrooms for good measure) that is, frankly, out of this world.

Somewhere I've been: Jesus, that nearly stumped me. It took me a good five minutes to remember Rome.

No, not that Rome, but Rome, New York. Not far from Ithica (to which I've never been) and Syracuse (which I have. More than once, and maybe I'll tell you about the first time someday, when I was 17 and hitch-hiking to see the Grateful Dead with a girl I was madly in love with but whom I hadn't the courage to tell, and how I bought a hit of Jerry Garcia acid that turned out to be only paper and how we wandered the frigid April streets after the show (which was awesome, thank you, and despite the rip-off) and tried sleeping in a park before we snuck into a hotel and caught some rest in a stair-well, before hitching home the next morning. Come to think of it, I guess I just did tell the story), which leads me to believe the early invaders there had a real hard-on for the Classics. About Rome itself, though, I have little to say. I came, I picked up a couple of pilots from the local air-base, I left.

Somewhere I'd like to go: Reykjavik, of course. Like all of the far north, Iceland has fascinated me ever since I learned it was the most literate country in the world. And even more so since they jailed some bankers and told the IMF to go hell after the international bankers' robbery from which the world has still not recovered.

Someone I know: Well, Raven! This week marked the fifth anniversary of the night I shyly draped my arm over her shoulder and, then, when she didn't slap it away, kissed her. Best pass I ever made. And next month, we're moving into a much nicer place than the slummy hovel in which we're currently ensconsed.

A film I like: Wes Anderson's delightful and very clever Rushmore, a coming-of-age story that broke all kinds of cliches.

A book I like: That's easy: Red Mars, the best overtly political science fiction novel I've ever read. Except, maybe, for its sequels.

If you'd like to do the meme, comment and I'll give you a letter!

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Nobody suggested that I do the fandom meme, but I took note of it on (guess who!) Sabotabby's Livejournal some time ago and thought it might be fun. And maybe, again, a way to kickstart this blog. (And nobody wants to hear about how I-can't-power-off-my-mobile-and-I-think-it's-broken-and-I-haven't-even-finished-paying-for-it-yet do they?)

So fandoms.

Shit. First of all, I deny that I even have a fandom (singular), let alone more than one. Sure, I tend to write about Doctor Who a little more than most people, but I'm engaging in a critical dialogue with pop culture itself, damn it!

Or maybe not. Onwards.

To meme or not to meme? Your click will kill the cat - or not )

Your favourite film watched this year?

Short version: I hardly watched any full-length movies in 2013, and none of them were really good. )

Your favourite book read this year?

Think you can't be shocked? Think again! )

Your favourite album or song to listen to this year?

Old white guy and young Oriental woman, oh yeah! )

Your favourite TV show of the year?

The good, the bad and Jane Austen's revenge. )

Your biggest fandom disappointment of the year?

Do you really have to ask? )

Your TV boyfriend of the year?

It's kind of cheating, but I'm going with Troy and Abed from Community, even if I have to reach back to 2012 for examples of their awesomeness.

Your TV girlfriend of the year?

Last Tango's Nicola Walker as Caroline. Who knew I'd fall in love with a sheep farmer?

Your biggest squee moment of the year?

Cheating again. The best Doctor Who multi-doctor Episode of all time. Seriously. And it's in Spanish. (And I"m done, so I'll leave you with them.

Steven Moffat, take a fucking lesson. Please.

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Every once in a while (in a while, damn it! Not and a while, what's wrong with you people? Also: It's "try to ..." not "try and ..." Okay? Pretty please?) — I digress. Jesus god and it's only paragraph number one.

(Second try.) Every once in a while, as some of you might have noticed, I interrupt my steady stream of tweets and occasional links to Doctor Who reviews with threats to return to blogging, to keeping an online journal of sorts.

Well here it is, very nearly my 49th birthday, and I'm at it again. This time with (yes) a meme, in hopes that it will re-ignite my powers of more-or-less extemporaneous writing. So to start, a tip o' the hat to Livejournal's brilliant Sabotabby, who cursed me with gave me U.

* * *

Something I hate: Unsafe drivers. As a professional driver (not to mention regular cyclist and even pedestrian), I have come to a powerful dislike for the careless, the inattentive and the thuggish types who get behind the wheel and seem to have no conception of just how much power it is they don't bother to be careful with. I don't like conducting myself in a state of constant paranoia, presuming that every other vehicle on the road is out to kill me, but it seems the safest way to play it.

More personally, hate is an emotion that comes hard to me now. I don't know if it's a sign of maturity or of defeat, but for individuals I am more likely to feel pity than even rage, let alone hatred.

For abstractions, on the other hand, or for those who represent them (Steven Harper, anyone?), it's not so hard to say "I hate".

Something I love: "Raven", who of course is a person, not a thing. And I can't explain why she qualifies under the letter U, but she does. You'll have to trust me on that.

Somewhere I have been: Seriously, Sabs? You give me the letter U and expect me to answer this one! Jesus god ...

Oh. Wait. United States. (Thanks Google Maps!)

Somewhere I would like to go: Umingmaktok, Nunavut. Well, maybe somewhere a little more urban. But a long-time fantasy of mine is to make a trip to the far north, preferably in winter. I want to experience permanent night and to see the Northern Lights in full glory.

And it might happen sooner than later. One of my regular passengers, a flight attendant, has offered me a pair of his "buddy passes", which would drop the cost of a ticket from a couple of grand apiece to a few hundred dollars.

Someone I know: Urbanites and upstarts, mostly.

Best film: I can think of only two movies starting with this accursed letter. First is Up in the Air, a mostly forgetable vehicle for some handsome guy whose name escapes me and Up, a charming animated feature about an unlikely understanding that develops between a crotchety old man and a young boy. Also, flying, balloon-powered house!

I probably should have started with an easier meme, but at least this typing is done. Lemme know if you want a letter.

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Despite appearances, I am not about to be beaten to a bloody pulp by fellow inmates of a correctional institution in the photo shown above. The photo was in fact taken on the soccer pitch at Carleton University on the 27th of July 2013, during a lull in a 7-on-7 match. And I am most likely gasping for air, not hurling invective at opposing players.

Yes, it's been a long time since I've posted here. A long time since I've posted much of anything anywhere, pretty much, beyond the delay blurts on Twitter and occasional comments here, on Livejournal or Facebook.

As those of you checking in on my Facebook or Twitter postings might know, I've been cycling a hell of a lot and holding my own (see above) in 7-on-7 soccer with and against players who are mostly 20 or so years younger than I am. And yes, I'm feeling good about that, even if my belly seems to show little or no signs of changing in response to the workouts my body's been getting.

I've also been working quite a lot, both at the Transportation Job and on various word and word-related projects. But not enough with the latter. In truth, when it comes to actually sitting down to write, I've been blocking more often than not; and when not blocking, my long-overdue ghost-writing project has been taking priority.

I'd like to change much of that (really I would!) and as a bit of self-encouragement, I am writing this post to re-introduce myself to whoever among those listed here and on LJ still have me on their reading lists. To that end, "A Memeish Thing", freely modified from one posted by LJ's earlier this month.


Please copy the topics below, erase my answers and put yours in their place, and then post it in your journal! Please elaborate on the questions that would benefit from elaboration. One-Word-Answers seldom help anyone out.

FIRST NAME: Geoffrey, but answers to Geoff quite willingly. Some who know me well might have other appellations, but I prefer those remain between you and me.

AGE: 48. I know, I find it nearly impossible to believe also. But, as some wag once put it, getting older is better than the alternative. And yes, I realize that calling myself Young Geoffrey might strike you as hubristic, or worse. But I'm happy with it still and I figure that's what matters most.

LOCATION: The nation's Capital, not much more than a bom — stone's throw from Parliament Hill. Speaking of which, if you've never been, take the tour of the Library of Parliament; it is a remarkably beautiful building and well worth an hour acting like an actual tourist.

OCCUPATION: No thank you, I believe in personal, local, and national autonomy and self-determination.

Ahem. Driver, editor, writer and fledgling small-press publisher.

PARTNER: A wonderful woman who values her privacy. I am permitted to refer to her only as Raven, to admit that she hails from the Orient and that I have a few years on her. I count myself lucky to have that much dispensation.

KIDS: Not yet, but we're contemplating. And I like to think I've had some good influence on my brilliant, now 20-something, niece.

SIBLINGS: Two, a younger brother and older half-brother via my mother.

PARENTS: Both turning 80, both still alive and kicking. I help Dad with his online newsmagazine and Mum is about to go back on air with CBC Radio doing once-a-week commentaries.

PETS: Not just now.

Politics: In my blood, going back generations. Best described, perhaps, as an anarcho-socialist cynic who dreams of peaceful transition even as the psychotic thugs running our world seem hell-bent on provoking a global bloodbath. Normally an astute observer, I sometimes get taken in by soaring rhetoric; I was briefly fooled by Obama, among others.

3-5 BIGGEST THINGS GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE: (1) My relationship with Raven. (2) All this exercise; slap me if I turn into one of those ex-smokers who can't ever shut the fuck up about how awesome it is to get healthy ad nauseum (slap me if I'm already there). (3) The aforementioned ghost-writing project. (4) Getting my hands on the proof copy of The Old Man's Last Sauna, which I hope will be the first of many works of fiction published by the BumblePuppy Press. (5) Finding a way to influence the world, rather than just bitch about it to the quire.

Right. Let's see if that jumpstarts anything here — or even elsewhere. Meanwhile, how 'bout another hit of Montreal's Grimes?

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I just returned from my first non-Raven-related outing since visiting family out-of-town back in August, and first non-family/non-Raven social outing since (my chrisT) January or something crazy like that.


Met with three members of the Drupal "community" here in Ottawa and, as per the subject-line (and icon), found myself feeling very much like a newbie. I said little, listened much and (possibly unlike the 15 year-old me pictured above) intend to do it again.

Meanwhile, I returned to a girlfriend cringing and smiling like a small child, who knows there's a knocked-over garbage can in the next room, but who is still naive enough to think she can blame it on the cat — who has been out all day.

Want to know what her confession was? Deal with a meme, first. I'll make it worth your while. And if it isn't, you can blame <user name= )

Hint: the secret ingredient to Awesome Pumpkin Pie is garam massala. And the dinner was delicious.

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Yes, a meme. Yoinked from KT.

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what albums my friends choose. (Quoth KT, and I agree: I'm not tagging anyone... if you wanna do it, do it!)

1. The Beatles — Rubber Soul/Revolver: I didn't grow up in a family in which music played a significant role. My mum had a few records but during those years when I might have been developing my nascent tastes, why didn't have any electricity to speak of, so listening to them was a non-starter.

Came a time, though, when both electricity and a record player were at hand, and I had just seen Yellow Submarine on television (in black and white, but whaddya gonna do?). And my mother had copies of not one — but two! different records by the same group. "Let's try it!"

Well, holy moly. That wasn't my first exposure to popular music, but it was arguably my first conscious exposure, and to say I started out near the top is no understatement. Rubber Soul and Revolver marked The Beatles' transition from brilliant pop music to a long exploration of the possibilities of Art within rock 'n roll. Experiments that were also wonderful records to listen to, experiments not just for other musicians.

2. The Weavers — Reunion at Carnegie Hall: Before The Beatles for me, came the Weavers, a folk group nearly out of the dustbowl. Peter Seeger was its most famous member, and that the band had been black-listed during the McCarthy period, only made them more intriguing to me. (You didn't know I was preternaturally interested in politics and history? You must be new here. Welcome, please pull up a chair and set a spell.)

The songs, in retrospect, are primitive and the playing and singing arguably less than la crème de la crème, but I did and do love them and their playing. For the joy, the energy and the passionate commitment. I suspect my preference for live over recorded music stems from listening these songs over and over again.

3. Tom Lehrer — Songs by Tom Lehrer: Actually, this record wasn't live, and it's far from Lehrer's satirical best, but it nevertheless hit me a lot the way I think the 1950s version of Mad Magazine hit a generation or two of future cartoonists. Ludicrous football fight songs; songs about homicidal daughters, boy-scouts and hunters; about plagiaristic Russian mathematicians — Songs by Tom Lehrer was funny and had catchy tunes (naturally, since he stole most of them whole cloth from established standards). And of course it later led me to his masterpiece, That Was the Year that Was.

4. The Beatles — Abbey Road: What can I say about this album that hasn't been said a thousand times before. One side of the record didn't have a break in it! There were mysterious crickets chirping through the intro to one of the songs ...

And what songs!. The Beatles' last album was (arguably) their best. Certainly it was their most polished. And for two or three years, I listened it at least once a night, and usually twice. I destroyed two copies of the cassette, simply by playing them to death.

5. The Beatles — The White Album: Last Beatles record, I promise. When I was 12, "Revolution No. 9" was a bizarre revelation. All nine minutes of it, by turns creepy, exhilarating and always just plain strange. I got a friend in Quebec in some trouble because I played him the entire song on during a long-distance call. (Ian Pavelko, where are you now?)

6. Beethoven — 9th Symphony: The vocal parts in the third or fourth movement. My lord, what a powerful piece of music (when it's sung right; I've heard one version that turned the entire symphony to mush).

7. Neil Young and Crazy Horse — Rust Never Sleeps: I'm kinda cheating with this one; I'm talking about the movie, not the album. I was maybe 15 years old when I went to Toronto's original rep theatre, the Bloor Cinema with friends to see it. At the time I knew only the gentle Neil Young of Harvest, the wistful Neil Young of "Old Man" and "Helpless".

I think I sat through about 15 minutes of Crazy Horse's feedback and wailing guitars, pounding bass and ear-splitting drums before I rose in all of my teenage dudgeon and stomped back to the box-office, where, insisting this was a fraud! a sham!, I demanded my $0.99 back.

Quite rightly, the ticket-taker told me I was out of luck.

I love hard Neil now, but at the time, my goodness I was appalled!

8. The Grateful Dead — The Grateful Dead Movie: I know, another concert film. Another cheat. I don't care.

I was 15 or 15 when I saw this one. Some friends had scored some acid and I was going to have my first trip. We were going to see Kubrick's 2001 at the Cinesphere, but it was sold out and someone hit on seeing the Dead film at the Bloor instead.

I hadn't much liked the Dead by this point, but I was already starting to giggle maniacally, so I wasn't going to argue. I couldn't have argued.

This two was a revelation. The Grateful Dead in concert were an entirely different animal from the Grateful Dead in the studio. Sloppy, meandering ... and utterly alive and unpredictable!

There's little doubt the acid helped open that particular door for me. I've been a sucker for 20-minute versions of three-minute songs ever since (and I'm listening to a live Dead show as I type this). But I'll never forget the sheer joy I felt for hours and hours after the movie ended, as "Casey Jones" looped enlessly through my head.

9. Ricky Lee Jones — Rickie Lee Jones: I first heard this in my friend Vern's room. It was a recent discovery of his and I was so pleased he shared it with me. Jones' whispery and knowing (and so, sexy) voice over top of jazz-tinged pop or soft-rock was a melodic wonder and a more or less new form of music to me — or so I thought at the time. Looking back, I see it on a continuum with the folk/jazz side of pop music which seems to be my primary interest.

10. Prince — Sign 'O the Times: Prince has made a lot of brilliant music, but he's on this list in particular for "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man", seven minutes of carefully-structured studio magic that sounds utterly, thoroughly, as if it was a lucky recording of live spontaneity.

11. Ani Difranco — Living in Clip: Speaking of live music, my introduction to Ani Difranco was through this record and what it record it was! Political, confidently feminist and with a sense of humour, I though for a while that Difranco was the second coming of Bob Dylan. I've backed off on that (and in fact have sold almost my entire collection of CDs, holding on only to this one), but this record remains a brilliant piece of music. If you don't know Difranco, start here; if you do and haven't heard it — my god! — remedy that deficiency now!

12. Bob Dylan — Slow Train Coming: Speaking of Dylan, how in the hell has it taken me until number 12 to get to him? And why Slow Train Coming? I mean, Christian Dylan, really?

Really. It's not his best record by any stretch of the imagination (that would be Another Side of Bob Dylan, or maybe Desire or Bringing It All Back Home or Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks), but it's a damned good one. And it's one I won't soon forget because my friend, then called Paul, pointed out through his nearly apoplectic laughter, that even a Christian Dylan had a sense of humour. "Man Gave Names to all the Animals" is one of the goofiest pieces of faith ever etched into vinyl.

13. The Indigo Girls — Back on the Bus, Y'all: I don't care what anybody says. They write great songs, they're good players and one of the two has a voice that gives me the shivers. "Closer to Fine" is (excuse the pun) one of the finest pop songs around.

14. The Grateful Dead — Reckoning: Another record whose cassette version I literally played to death. Live and acoustic Dead. What's not to love?

15. John Lennon — Plastic Ono Band: Lennon's best solo record, and in some ways maybe the best Beatles or Beatles-related album of them all. Lennon stripped away almost all of the extras that had come to characterize The Beatles, leaving only the raw power of his words and music, his naked voice and the heartbreaking songs themselves.

This is the record that every angsty teenager tries to make; but only Lennon managed to also make a record that is not only worth listening to, but that is in fact, one of the best 30 or 40 minutes in the history of rock and roll.

Well, that took a "bit" more than 15 minutes and I missed all sorts of records that should be here, but it was fun nonetheless. You might want to give it a try yourself.

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On inclusivity —

The meme continues ...

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

I don't know if it speaks only to myself or to the culture (a culture?) at large that, when I first read the above question, I did so hearing a chorus of voices whose sections included the shrill, the self-righteous and the politically fashionable.

I suspect I've read one to many internet pile-ons, in which hordes of (mostly) anonymous do-gooders wielding moral self-assurance like iron bars descend upon a sexist or racist evil-doer with the joyous outrage of the eternal Mrs. Grundy to berate, ostracize and otherwise correct the transgressor.

(Yes, in most of the cases I've witnessed, said transgressor had engaged in morally questionable (at best) behaviour; the pile-on itself remains an ugly phenomenon at least similar to mob-justice.)

But the question itself as written is in fact perfectly innocuous. People who are disabled are a significant ingredient in the human soup and certainly ought to be represented in fiction.

So: have they been in mine? )

Click to see all the questions )

On a note entirely unrelated to this meme and only tangetially to writing at all, I find myself in possession of a some invite codes to Dreamwidth, if for any reason you're looking for an alternative to LJ, or if you're a non-blogger looking for a home. Reply here or send me an email through my info page and I'll hook you up.

And on a personal note, I am happy to report that I will be taking a trip out of town for the first time since I moved to Ottawa nearly a year ago. Raven and I will be leaving Friday morning for Sudbury, my mother and brothers for to see. Which means that, coincidentally, I'll be finishing this Terribly Popular Meme on the very day I leave town and, likely, go mostly offline for four or five days.

Play nice while I'm gone, okay?

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"I'm so sorry, I've forgotten your name!"

The meme continues ...

27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

Floyd Laughren, a long-time family friend and a politician whom the late, much-lamented Frank Magazine called "the only straight-shooter in the Rae cabinet" once let me in a little not-quite-straight-shooting secret. We were talking about the importance of remembering people's names.

"I just say," he told me, "'I'm sorry, but I've forgotten your name,' as we're shaking hands. When they tell me, I then laugh and say, "No, no! I meant your last name!"

Despite the face that I'm not a politician, and that my brief term on the Board of the Directors of the Toronto Free-Net was probably my last association with electoral politics, it's a trick I could have used more often than I care to admit.

More than a few times in my life, I've been stopped on the street by some stranger calling out my names. (Like Charlie Brown, people who don't know me quite well tend to refer to me by both first and last names; does this happen to you folks or is it something particular to me?)

I say "stranger" for dramatic effect only, as it invariably turns out that I have in fact met — and have usually spent some time with — nearly anyone who calls out my name from across the street (the internet — hi Liz! — has changed this a little, but mostly it remains true) and, most often, a quick exchange of names, will remind me of who the person is and what kind of a relationship we share(d).

But as I thinkt that serves to illustrate that while I don't suffer from prosopagnosia, my temporal lobes have never made face recognition an area of advanced study.

In other words, "do appearances play a big role in" my stories? Not as such, no, and especially the faces of my characters.

... if not, [tell us] how you go about designing your characters. )

Click to see all the questions )

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What is art?

Pencils and pens and ink, o my!
Detail from page 1 of 'The Laughing Fish', Detective Comics #475, February 1978.
Details from page 1 of 'The Laughing Fish', Detective Comics #475, February 1978. Artwork by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin. Batman copyright © by DC Comics.

The meme continues ...

26. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!

There was a time when I did a lot of drawing and I at least contemplated making a living as a cartoonist. That dream came to a crushing, tearful end, sometime in the very early 1980s, when I read an issue of Detective Comics pencilled by the late Marshall Rogers (see accompanying panel) and "realized" that I could never be the artist he was, and so threw down my pen.

At least, that's how I remember it, but the chronology according to the Wikepedia link above suggests my memory is once again distorting the truth to make a better story. But at any rate, it is true (I think) that in the early 80s I had what I believed was the profound realization of my own limitations as a draftsman and that I cried about the loss; and it is true (I know) that my last completed comic book was an issue of Captain Canada, numbered 22 and dated December 1, 1978. (Which actually parses with the Rogers memory, if I push the date back to about that time instead of placing it in the 1980s. But I digress.)

Cover of Captain Canada #2, January 16, 1976. Click here for a larger image.
Cover of Captain Canada #22, December 1, 1978. Click here for a larger image.

Whatever the exact date, I gave up on drawing, convinced I had at best only a talent which hard work could see me developing to a point of competence, not genius. I had no burning desire to settle for being the next Sal Buscema.

As I think the images show, I had actually grown significantly as a cartoonist and I am no longer so sure in my judgement at the time that I didn't have the necessary inate talent to make it with my pen.

But I did give up, and I don't think I'm likely to embark on the training that would permit me to develop my skills to a level I would find acceptable.

"The Question" illustration by Chris Graham. Click here for a larger image.

Which means that, no, since I gave up cartooning I have not drawn any of my characters and neither has anyone else since 1981, when Chris Graham (whatever happened to Chris Graham, I wonder!), illustrated a scene from "The Question", which I printed in the first issue of a school magazine I edited, The House of the Dying Tree.

Looking at Chris' drawing for the first time in quite a while (the man did it in ball-point pen!), reminds me that I do still fantasize about seeing my name in print on a book, complete with cover drawing or painting.

And in truth, should I get The Jewel of Eternity into publishable shape, I think I already know who I want to paint a cover illustration. Might you say "yes" to a commission, Nelly?

Click to see all the questions )

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Heavy petting

The meme continues, but I'm starting to think it should have been "25 days of writing" or even 20 days. But that's okay by me. I have a bit of a hangover for the first time in several months (yes, Raven has been a very good influence on Young Geoffrey!) and work to do — so today's question being a lame one indeed doesn't much bother me.

25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

Several of them do, usually dogs, but one had some kind of alien reptiloid dog-equivalent. It was killed by some blood-thirsty elves, but so was its owner and the death of the old woman was meant to be considerably more affecting. The dog-equivalent was just collateral damage — sorry animal lovers.

Otherwise, pets haven't yet played a significant role in any of my stories. Those that have been there have usually been based on animals I have known, but as I said: they've never been significant characters and talking about them would be even more boring than it would be to hear about that Cute Thing My Cat Used To Do — possibly of interest to cat-lovers over a coffee or a drink, but of little or no interest to a reader of fiction. Or of a blog.

And ... exeunt.

Click to see all the questions )

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The urge to pornography
Thoughts on violence and death in fiction

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Bob Dylan, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

Like rape, and threat of rape, as a plot device or character's motivation, I've (mostly — there are some brutally delightful exceptions) lost interest in death as a plot-device or, worse, as the solution to a story.

Physical violence has mostly been absent from my work, though not entirely; there's no denying that there is an inherent drama in a fistfight that doesn't exist in a conversation. Not all of us are Jane Austen, capable of keeping a plot moving through a dented feeling or raised eyebrow, so the temptation to stoop to violence and death is one almost impossible to always resist.

But is it really stooping? Always? '24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?' )

Click to see all the questions )

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The pollster's lament

Meditations on complexity and nuance

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story — from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

Over the years, I had a number of stints working for polling companies — you know, those people who call you at dinner-time and who want to ask you "just a few quick questions", from Statistics Canada on down through the food chain.

The most common frustration from those who chose to respond — and one of the reason I so seldom respond to polls of any kind, unless they're meant more to be fun than anything else — is that they almost invariably try to force the world (and the person answering the questions) to fit into a reductionist's dreamscape of either/or questions and answers.

This isn't so bad when the question is whether you prefer to the Montreal Canadiens to the Toronto Maple Leafs (hint: the correct answer to this question is "Yes"), but not so good when it has to do with morally complex questons about public privacy or private morality.

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story — from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)? )

Click to see all the questions )

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White screens of death and stories untold

"Then I guess it would be okay to ask you questions about the moon." Kid grinned.

Kamp nodded. "Sounds like a pretty safe topic."

"Can you tell me something about the moon you've never told anybody else before?"

After a second, Kamp laughed. "Now that is a new one. I'm not sure I know what you mean."

"You were there. I'd like to know something about the moon that someone could only know what was actually on it. I don't mean anything big. But just something."

"The whole flight was broadcast. And we were pretty thorough in our report. We tried to take pictures of just about everything. Also, that's a few years ago; and we were only out walking around for six and a half hours."

"Yeah, I know. I watched it."

"Then I still don't get you."

"Well: I could bring a couple of television cameras in here, say, and take a lot of pictures, and report on all the people, tell how many were here or what have you. But afterward, if somebody asked me to tell them something that wasn't in the coverage, I'd close my eyes and sort of picture the place. Then I might say, well, on the back of the counter with the bottles, the bottle second from the left — I don't remember what the label was — but the little cone of glass at the bottom was just above the top of the liquor."

Kid opened his eyes. "See?"

Kamp ran his knuckles under his chin. "I'm not used to thinking like that. But it's interesting."

Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren

Yesterday morning started where Sunday night left off: with a "white screen of death" in place of the website I am developing and which (I thought) was within a few tweeks of being ready to go live.

Instead, after breaking my brain for several hours on Sunday night, only to still be seeing a blank (white) page whose featureless expanse was broken only by two lines of black text beginning with the words, "Fatal error," I eventually decided to call it a night in hopes the morrow would bring to me happier tidinds.

And so it was. Where google had not been my friend on Sunday night, on Monday morning its advice was fullsomely useful. Not only did I have everything restored fairly quickly, but soon after I had made what I (as, I hope, will my 'client') thought were some quite appropriate design changes.

But this is supposed to be about writing, not web-design, isn't it? On wards to Question 22: 'Tell us about one scene between your characters that you've never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not. )

Click to see all the questions )

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21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

The perils of not taking a sneak-peek ahead: Yesterday's entry, and especially the extensive excerpt from The Valley of Shabathawan would have served as a pretty conclusive reply to both questions.

But in case you didn't read Question 20A then or don't want to now, I'll sum it up by saying, "Yes" and "Quite well, thank you."

Still, that's not quite all. The question itself strikes me as a little weird, and not in a good sense. I'm tempted to go in for some armchair psychoanalysis of the meme's creator, but I'll just note it instead.

"Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?"

The presumption that children are not characters in and of themselves vexes me the more I look at it. I don't know about other writers, but when I write children, they are characters (mewling and puking babes in arms notwithstanding, perhaps).

I said I don't want to get into any armchair psychoanalysis, but armchair sociology isn't quite the same thing. Click for more! )

Click to see all the questions )

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Young Geoffrey basks in Watts of praise

Accepts correction from a tabby
(and apologizes for the really second-rate word-play two lines up)

"I'm not generally given to flattery. That was just one damned eloquent piece of commentary." — Peter Watts, to me. (Yes, that Peter Watts.)

Yes, I feel flattered again and am struggling with the urge to tell him so. Probably best to keep silent, yes?

Meanwhile, the LJ blogger [personal profile] sabotabby answered the question I had about this meme's Question #20, "What are your favourite character interactions to write?"

I had blocked on what the question meant, wondering in essence whether it inquired as to whether I prefer to write sex scenes or fight scenes. [personal profile] sabotabby suggested, quite rightly I think,

I took it as meaning that sometimes characters are interesting in particular combinations. So I might prefer writing scenes where Aisha and Boris interact, because they have such a complicated relationship, over writing scenes where Clarissa and Darshika interact. Everyone else took it to mean "do you like writing fighting scenes or fucking scenes?"

So, and without further adoo and with no desire to be like 'everyone else', Young Geoffrey tries again. 'What are your favorite character interactions to write?' )

But I'll put it behind a cut anyway. )

Well. There wasn't a of wit in that dialogue, but I think it holds up pretty well anyway. And those are the kind of character interactions I enjoy writing. Interactions that hint at the nature of the characters, that suggest motivations and threats and emotions that may not be explicit, and dialogue that moves the story along and also makes me want to find out what happens next.

Even an hour a day would see me re-write this thing pretty quick, wouldn't it?

Click to see all the questions )

ed_rex: (ace)

Random Gloats:

Return to the personal

And then there's meme

I got a telephone call from Philadelphia last night, from one of the best friends I have that I've not met in person.

Among the things we talked about was Raven. "I've never seen a picture of her," quoth Ms Philadelphia.

"Nor will you any time soon," I said, "Raven is pretty strict about limiting her online exposure. I'm awfully sweet on her and I'd love to show her off to the world, but well, I ain't allowed to."

But it's also true that I am allowed to speak of her in general terms. And it is even more true that I really am sweet on her. 我爱 Raven indeed.

Cut for mushy stuff off little interest to most of you. )

Meanwhile, back at the meme, Young Geoffrey tries to make sense of the term 'character interactions'. )

Click to see all the questions )

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Being Phil:
Second-banana takes centre-stage, won't let go

I've actually been kind of surprised it hasn't happened more often lately; I know damned well that my journal ain't what it used to be. Almost nothing personal, even less sexual and not even a whole lot of politics or Doctor Who to keep folks interested.

So I've been a little surprised that the numbers on my F-list haven't been dropping, much. (Of course, if LJ's stats are anything to go by, there aren't many people actually reading what I write here/there any more anyway. Between summer holidays, natural attrition as people's attention drifts elsewhere and reading filters, I suspect my LJ audience to be around a dozen or so, maybe less.

Which is fine — well, not fine; my ego would (naturally) prefer that readers were flocking to me like cats rushing to the sound of a can opener. But I know that what I do here is primarily intended for me, as an exercise in writing, as practice, as venting ... as a journal, in other words, though I seem to be evolving away from that model as well, towards something that is little more or less than a promotional tool for Edifice Rex Online in particular and for me in general.

Of course, having so few readers means I'm doing something pretty wrong on the self-promotion front, aren't I? Must ponder ...

Meanwhile, occasionally the attrition is active. Yesterday, LJ notified me that a long-time 'friend' had ended our relationship. Normally, that is something I merely note; it happens, after all. However, in this case, the de-friending was by someone I've hung out with a number of times; we weren't friends, but we had a relationship beyond pixels, even if we had not seen each other in a few years and if he seemed to have more or less disappeared from LJ for quite a long period of time.

Feelings hurt, I dropped him a terse note saying, in effect, so long and thanks for all the fish. He replied that it was nothing personal but that we hadn't hung out in a long time, etc.

All quite true, of course, but for the "nothing personal" bit. Of course it's personal when you decide you know longer want to know someone. And frankly, when someone decides that about me, especially if we've spent time in the flesh, I think the classy thing to do is to say goodbye, not just to hit a delete button.

And now, back to the meme. Young Geoffrey talks about his favourite angry young woman. )

Click to see all the questions )

September 2017

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