Sunday, December 31, 2006

Farewell 2006! (and good riddance...)

I had hoped to craft a long-ish post at some point today, but the day ended up getting away from me (a wonderful 90-minute nap will do that). I wanted to reflect on 2006, which I've recently dubbed the "year of transition," and speculate on 2007 (which has yet to be dubbed), as well outline some of my goals (distinct from resolutions) for the coming year. Unfortunately my heart just isn't into it right now! Perhaps tomorrow, when 2006 is over and I'll have some distance - I might feel a little more dispassionate about the whole year which will provide some proper perspective.

Adding to the "raw" emotions is that I'm spending New Year's Eve alone this year. It's not entirely my volition: I didn't end up getting one invite to go out! (Not entirely true, actually: I received an invite on Friday, but at the time it wouldn't have been appropriate for me to accept. Long story.) I was pretty bummed out about my lack of invites, particularly since I spent last year alone (a deliberate choice) and felt that I'd be much more in a "party" mood this year. Alas, the invitations were not forthcoming. But all is not lost: I'm going to make a nice dinner, I just poured myself some 12-year old single malt scotch and I have a some expensive Bordeaux decanting. I'll throw on a couple of "comfort" films, maybe blast some tunes (out of my new speakers, which was my xmas gift to myself), write in my journal, and enjoy an evening of contemplation.

To all my regular readers, thank you for sticking with me through these last couple of months. I hope you have a wonderful new year's eve and a peaceful and prosperous 2007. And if I haven't bored the pants off you, please continue to visit me here! I have high hopes for the coming year: I'm entering into it with much optimism and a positive spirit.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'twas the night before christmas

Just a quick note to all my readers (all four of you, or thereabouts) to wish you a wonderful and happy Christmas. Take the time to reflect on the things that mean most to you - whether that's family or friends or peace of mind - and be grateful for the wonders of this world. Peace to all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Big O

Just a quick note to remind all my readers that today is Global Orgasm Day! If you have a partner, share this day with them. Don't let not having a partner stop you from enjoying the day and doing your bit for world peace: you don't need me to spell out what you should be doing.

Happy Winter Solstice to you all.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Smoked meat, part 3

Unlike my previous two smoked meat posts, this one is actually about smoked meat. Or, more precisely, the absence of it: I heard on the radio this morning that Ben's Deli, the venerable restaurant on de Maisonneuve Blvd. in Montreal, has closed its doors for good. I actually had to stop what I was doing (the dishes, although I can usually find any excuse not to do the dishes) and even said to myself (since the cat wasn't in the kitchen at the time), "Wow."

Sure, some will argue that Ben's was not exactly good eats: for one, it was ridiculously unhealthy. Others will argue that the best smoked meat in Montreal is actually served uptown at Schwartz's (and it's not a point of view I would necessarily disagree with). Still, I have a soft spot for Ben's, not just for its Montreal history (Leonard Cohen was a regular, and luminaries such as Trudeau ate there) but for my own personal history: after all, Ben's was the first downtown restaurant I ate at.

When I was growing up in the West Island of Montreal, I used to go to about three or four Montreal Canadiens hockey games a year, owing to the fact that my dad's employer had season tickets. Going downtown with my father to take in a game was always a treat - in fact, some of my fondest memories of my childhood were those evenings I spent with him at the Forum. My dad wasn't much of a hockey fan, but I was a fanatic, particularly of the Habs (Guy Lafleur was my hero). So when my dad managed to procure tickets, we'd make a full night of it, which usually meant beginning the evening at Ben's to enjoy a succulent smoked meat sandwich (with a side of fries, of course). Even as a pre-teen, I was taken with quaintness of the experience: the brightness of the space, the elderly and stoic waiters with their bow ties, the meat itself spilling out of the rye bread. I loved it!

Our family moved away from Montreal back in the 1980s, but almost every time I went back, a visit to Ben's (and usually Mike's Submarine, also a staple dining experience from my youth) was de rigeur. And it's amazing how little the place changed - it was almost exactly as I remembered it (although I'd usually order a Molson 50 instead of a coke). I haven't been to Montreal for a couple of years, but the next trip (and I have been thinking about going next year for the jazz fest; for one, my fave jazz musician, Keith Jarrett, is scheduled to play with his trio) will just not seem the same without steady Ben's.

Another part of my youth, dismantling.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Strange days

Talk about a strange stretch of about two hours today. I had several destinations planned when I set out at around 1:00 this afternoon: the library (to pick up a couple of books awaiting for me), the bank machine (seems like I'm going through a lot of coin so far this holiday season, even though I only have a few people to actually purchase gifts for), the new BMV book store (I thought I might be able to find something for my parents there, but my heart - surprisingly, perhaps - wasn't in to book browsing; at some point I'm going to write about that chain of book stores and its threat to the true independent book shop, but today is not the day), to Trinity-St. Paul's Church (for the Last-Minute Craft Fair where my friend j-love was selling her soap), and then finally to Indigo to buy a gift for my nephew (I normally eschew Indigo, but I was told that this is one of the few stores in the downtown core where I could buy the particular gift that he wants and was requested by his mother to buy).

The library visit was fine, but then the strangeness took hold as I was walking along Bloor St. toward BMV. I didn't have a chance to react because she was past me before I knew it, but a woman I went on a few dates this past summer strolled right past me. I mention this only because this is the first I've seen her since the summer: she basically disappeared from my life, without warning and explanation. (She could have at least sent me a quick e-mail saying "I've left the building.") I figured I'd run into her at some point - this city is not that big, and we have a number of friends and acquaintances in common - but I wasn't expecting to see her on Bloor. I sort-of regret not turning around, catching up with her and saying hi, but perhaps it's for the best. (She was also with a friend and I thought that might add to the awkwardness - not hers but mine!) Still, I harbour no ill feelings toward her. I really just miss having her a part of my life, however small. She was a wonderfully interesting woman.

There was more weirdness to come at the craft fair. There was a woman hawking her handmade magnets who looked ridiculously familiar. I finally figured out who she was: someone who I had a raving crush on in high school. I actually used to see her fairly often when I lived in a different neighbourhood, but haven't seen her for at least 10 years. Even crazier, I actually brought her name up this week at work! It's the first time I've thought of her in years, and next thing you know, there she is! Small world indeed.

But wait, there's even more. As I was buying some greeting cards adorned with these interesting lino-cuts - I figured I could send them out as letters since I'm back in a letter-writing phase - the woman who created the cards said to me, "You're J., aren't you?" The crazy thing is, I had no idea who the hell she was! I think I figured it out (and I could be wrong): she's someone I communicated with months ago when I was originally trying the online dating thing. I don't remember how far it went - we never met, obviously, and probably only exchanged a few e-mails (one of which I must have included a photo). And truthfully I could have the story wrong. Perhaps she was confusing me with another J.

Two more sightings to report: Andrew Coyne from the National Post (looking rather befuddled), and then, perhaps the oddest of all, Michael Ignatieff in line (in a huge line, I should add) at Indigo.

Then I came home and caught the end of the movie You've Got Mail, which (and maybe this is really the oddest of all) I have a surprising soft spot for.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


After last evening, I feel like I'm getting closer to it. I don't want to write about all the reasons why, but my spirits are a little higher this morning as a result. And (gasp!) I feel like I might actually get into the holiday spirit this year! I even wrote up some xmas cards last night.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"To Do" List

A list of things I'd like to accomplish this weekend:

- Conquer my fears, embrace my desires
- buy a new pair of shoes, preferably Dr. Martens to replace my aging pair
- continue to get in touch with my poetic soul
- visit a friend's new house
- explore the whimsical
- buy milk, bread, kitty litter and other necessities
- stay warm
- burn some CDs for a couple of my U.S. friends to send as xmas gifts
- daydream
- buy new acoustic guitar strings
- revel in the dark, rebel in the light
- apologize and submit to love

Friday, December 08, 2006

Emotional train wreck

It's coming through the tunnel. Choo choo.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dealing with the past

It's been an interesting few days for me. Not that one would be able to tell since anything of interest has been internal: all the activity has happened in my head. I've (finally!) been trying to deal with past events, to better understand them, put them in some context. It's about soul searching, peeling away layers of my recent (and not-so-recent) past and trying to come up with some conclusions. Well, not necessarily conclusions since I don't think I'll ever be privy to the answers I require. (And maybe that's the whole point: we're never given definitive answers because there isn't such a thing. Getting to "a truth" is akin to trying to get close to the sun.) My brain won't allow that type of closure. But I've identified mistakes I've made, and sadly come to the realization that I'll never be able to alter certain moments in my life. There's so much I want to take back; more important, I now realize, given the same circumstances, I'd do things differently. I'd like a "do over," although I know that's impossible. There's so much I regret, and it makes me sad.

In other news, I'm (also finally!) getting to the end of the Gwen MacEwan biography, which I've been reading on and off for a month or so. It's been a fascinating read, but also sad. I came upon two passages tonight that I thought I would share. The first is from a poem she wrote called "It Comes Upon You":

"It comes upon you suddenly that you must wear
The many selves you gathered and regrew
With a kind of pride and poise that falsifies their weight
With cool deceptive ease

Or else cry forever as once before you cried
On a high hill overlooking everything; God
Withdraw my fingers from your hair and break my eyes!"

That last passage pretty much had me in tears (after which the cat came to make sure I was feeling ok!). The second is from a letter she wrote just before she got married for the second time. I wish I would have had access to this sentiment about a year ago:

"It's so difficult to understand the self, and to come to terms with conflicting desires in life. I used to think that personal freedom was important until I realized that freedom is the most frightening thing of all, and perhaps we are only truly free within the confines of a pattern or system..."

I'll repeat: work in progress.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Kids are Alright

Boy, I feel tempted to buy a last-minute ticket to see The Who tonight in Toronto. I vowed I wouldn't go this year because it was just too damn expensive (decent seats are around $150), but now I'm starting to reconsider... It would be cool to see them play some new material.

Ah, it's too expensive.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The day after

As you might have noticed, I ended up taking yesterday off from posting. It was nice! Although I have to admit I was somewhat tempted to fire up the computer and jot a few thoughts down. Maybe I'm enjoying this venture more than I thought I would. If nothing else, it gets me into the writing rhythm again, even if some of the posts contain less-than-fully-formed ideas and some crappy writing.

I was going to write something about the Liberal leadership convention, which I spent a considerable (ie., too much) time watching yesterday. (Apologies to my American readers who won't give a rat's ass about a Canadian political convention. Feel free to skim these next two paragraphs - you have my permission.) I was caught up in the drama of it all - amazing to watch a political convention where the leadership choice is actually being made in real time. And although I've voted primarily for the NDP in the last few elections, both federal and provincial, I was hoping to see the Liberals pick a good strong candidate since it's going to be the Liberal Party that will stop this country from its right-wing conservative swing. An election, after all, is probably not too far in the future (I predict late spring), so it was important the party to be decisive in picking its new leader.

While I largely like Stephane Dion (the eventual winner - and I actually predicted two months ago that he was the true dark horse), particularly since he represents a true fresh face (not to mention he's been in the party and in the country for, oh, more than five minutes, unlike a couple of the other candidates...), I do worry that he's going to have a difficult time bringing the party together. While he's certainly a smart man and seems to have the respect of everybody in the party, there seems to be a lot of resentment toward him from the party's long-established leading backroom guys. Those are the people he has to win over since the majority ended up backing the two main losers in Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff. Of course I welcome the renewal of the party through some new energy, and while I have a natural disdain for so many of those guys in the back room, those same guys do provide an important role come election time. They're going to be needed because of their experience, so Dion has a find a way to placate them.

My other main impression from the convention: why is this still a party dominated by white men over the age 50? Where are the women? Where's the diversity? It's a sad reflection.

So now that I've spent all that time writing about politics, I seem to have lost my impetus to what I really wanted to write about: the male-female dynamic when it comes to friendships vs. relationships. It's been on a mind quite a bit of late, largely as a reflection to the age-old question, "Why am I single?" Well, maybe that's not the right question since my single status is largely my own making, having left last year a relationship that many objective observers would consider was rather good. (Yes, my continued thoughts on this seems to be a common theme - I'll repeat: I'm a work in progress.) Perhaps a better question is: "Why can't I seem to attract a woman?"

... (This is where I removed stuff.)

I ended up doing an examination of this - namely coming to the conclusion that I have a high "likability" factor but a low "attractibility" factor, and that I seem to have trouble bridging that gap with women I both like and lust over - and realized I felt sheepish and silly putting it online. So I pulled the plug on it. It wasn't a rant by any stretch, but it seemed somewhat pathetic.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mind at rest

My calendar says December, my blog title says November, yet here I am, posting. Is it because some habits die hard? Or maybe I have real concern for my readers' well-being? (I can picture the conversation in your head: "He's not posting anymore - how am I going to kill that minute that I used to read his blog?")

Actually, I'm posting because I feel like it. I guess that's going to be the tenor my relationship with this blog: if I feel like posting and have something on my mind, I'll fire it up. If not, I'll be quiet. I guess it basically means that anybody that has been visiting on a regular basis must continue to do so. Keep me in your favourites!

I'm writing today because I have some time on my hands: for the first time in quite a while, I'm taking the day off work. And not because I'm getting teeth pulled or braces put on, but simply because I wanted some time away from the workplace. "A mental health day," is what I told my colleague/supervisor. There usually isn't much incentive for me to take time off: being on contract (although they like to use the euphemism "casual employee"), I basically don't get paid for any hours I don't work. But there's also an advantage to that: I can take pretty much any day off I want - the only cost is to myself financially.

I'm taking the day to relax and reflect. It's been a somewhat chaotic few weeks, both at work and outside of it. It's nice to have a day to myself where I don't have to worry about "workplace issues," or doing any chores at home. My priorities today are puttering around the apartment for the rest of the morning, heading to the movies this afternoon, and then ... hmm, not sure yet. Maybe grab a beer or two at a bar and do some reading and writing.

And maybe buying an umbrella to stay dry!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Day 30!

Well, I made it. To the end of November, I mean: the final day of the post-a-day challenge I started 30 days ago. (Actually, my first post was in October, but that was just to test the waters.) I've been thinking of all the ways I can mark this auspcious moment (blog wise, I mean; I have some thoughts about other types of celebration(s), but I'll keep those stashed away comfortably in the cozy confines of my brain...). And, rather amazingly, I have a spate a topics I still want to cover: an article in yesterday's paper about how the Indigo book chain will begin to carry Canadian small press books (I was going to criticize it because they're working exclusively with a US company), for example, or about book clubs and how I may (but most likely not) be joining one (the first meeting is tonight; thank god there is beer involved). I was also thinking about engaging in an old-fashioned rant about relationships, and include some spicy thoughts about sex, but unfortunately I'm at work and pressed for time to write this: that kind of post would take a lot more time and consideration than I currently have.

Instead, I'm just going to offer a few words on this whole experience, and writing in general.

Over the last 30 days, I've written on all kinds of topics, while trying my best to avoid the typical naval-gazing posts that I abhor on most blogs. What I've discovered, much to my surprise, is that it has rekindled an interest in "real" writing again.

* * *

I'm now writing this several hours later. The computer I was using at work started to make some strange noises, prompting a call to the IT guys. Thus I was prevented from finishing my thought. And of course now the "thought" or inspiration (or whatever it might have been) has been lost in the ether. (The worst new song on the new Who album, for those that are following such things: "In the Ether," sung by Pete Townshend. A Tom Waits-like tune that doesn't quite reach Waits-ian levels.) I ended up meeting up with the book club tonight, although I think I will extricate myself from it in short order. As I told the only person I like in the club as we were leaving the bar (a few hours after everybody else), I'd rather just hang out with her on the last Tuesday of every month rather than hang with ... well, the others, talking about a book I probably didn't want to read in the first place. Yes, I'm fairly anti-social: I have some ex-partners that will serve as witnesses.

Anyway, I suppose all I really wanted to say to wrap up the month was how much I've enjoyed this experience. I went in with some trepidation, but I seemed to have come out in good shape. Yes, I'm still struggling with certain aspects of my life, but I'm starting to write about them (on here, but primarily outside this venue). It's therapy for me, much needed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the sounds of non-silence

So I'm back. And feeling better.

Maybe some of that mood can be attributed to the fact that December is almost here. Yes, the holiday season, but also the end of this post-a-day blog challenge! Actually, it hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would. And, more important, I think I've largely lived up to the challenge. Sure I've had a few crappy posts, but most have been relatively thoughtful (judged through the filter of my low standards, of course) and, well, long-ish. I care about my readers, after all! All, oh, five of you...

Actually I do have a stats counter, and some of the numbers have been surprising. As far as I can tell (I use a relatively low-level stats metre), almost half the traffic has been courtesy of the post-a-day web site, which offers some randomizing feature. I imagine most of the people that end up at my site aren't reading entire posts. Which leaves half arriving here via my begging and pleading, or surreptitiously. Overall, the numbers are pretty decent: the site has received 812 hits overall, and just over 200 "unique visitors." (There's also a feature which allows me to see if people are coming to the site via keyword searches. Most of the searches are not surprising: "november blog," for example, or "living with bracess"; although this one from today comes as a minor surprise: "fuck buddies on the howard stern show." Did I have a post about that? My memory is not what it used to be.)

After chatting with a couple of friends about this blog, I've decided to keep it live and post even when the calender flips to December. I'm not promising a post everyday, but hopefully every few days. The discipline has been good for me. I'm not sure my writing "chops" have improved all that much (since I get lazy and don't often proofread and correct what I've written), but it's been a good exercise - to the extent where I've been floating the idea of establishing or finding a writing group. This has been a good reminder of how much I do enjoy to write, even if the writing itself is hackneyed.

And if nothing else, joining a writing group will get me out of a book-reading club that I seem to have joined... Perhaps that's tomorrow's post.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

sounds of silence

If I didn't feel some sense of obligation to fulfill this post-a-day challenge, I'd probably be silent today. So instead I'll just write a few sentences.

I'm in a decided "laying low" mood. I'm struggling with embarrassment (I'm thinking of renaming this the "year of making a complete ass out of myself"; I'm starting to think that the hurt I caused others last year is being repaid back to me this year - retribution, in other words) coupled with both sadness and regret. And, perhaps oddly, not regret about my own actions or situation but how a situation has adversely affected someone I genuinely like and respect.

That's all I really want to say. So for the rest of the day, shhh...

Monday, November 27, 2006

The dreaded (blank)-0

Perhaps I shouldn't be admitting this (particularly given my near-total disdain of cell phones and my mocking of those that are connected to their phones at all times), but I seem to be lost without access to e-mail! I discovered that this afternoon when my e-mail at work would just not co-operate. It put me in a miserable mood - I kept thinking, "Good lord, I wonder who's trying to get in touch with me?" I guess I too am one of those that needs a connection to the outside world while at work. Guilty as charged!

Anyway, that's the official digression.

I want to write about aging. It's been on my mind quite a bit lately. For one, I've had two separate conversations in the last month that have dealt with turning the ripe old age of 30. Of course I had to offer sage advice about how easy it was to turn 30, having traversed that road a few years back. And truthfully, my 30s have treated me rather well. There was some stability - a good long-term relationship and my first experience shacking up with someone (which, unfortunately, ended) - as well as some necessary turbulence, namely making the decision to change careers. (See, proof that one can make a big life change in their 30s - shit, if I can do it, anybody can.)

Fair warning: I'm going to quote the film Before Sunset again, so feel free to avert your eyes if that film offends you. (I've recently discovered that the Before Sunset/Sunrise films are truly polarizing - one seems to either love them or hate them.) Ok, maybe I'll just paraphrase. Essentially the Jesse/Ethan Hawke character makes some comment about aging and how comfortable he is with getting older. He says he was wracked with insecurity when he was younger. Yet, even though he's older and his problems are deeper, he's more emotionally equipped to handle them. And I guess that's how I largely feel about aging: yes, my body is not as fit as it used to be (actually, it probably is; I guess what it doesn't do is bounce back as quick after a tough run) but I also don't think I suffer from the same insecurity issues (although naturally they still linger; how boring we'd be if we were always so supremely confident; a little vulnerability is sexy). Most important, I do think I'm getting better as I get older. I think I'm more self-aware and better understand and appreciate myself and my motivations.

Yet, if I go back 20 years (and maybe that in of itself is mildly sad: that I've lived long enough where thinking back 20 years is not a stretch!) and ponder how I would view the life I'm living today, how would I judge how things have turned out? I probably had some preconceptions on how I'd be living a mid-30s life. For example, if you would ask me when I was teenager if I'd married by my mid-30s, I would have probably said "For sure." Hell, I probably thought I'd have kids by now too.

It does make me think about the expectations we have growing up. When we're young, we're fed a steady diet of what's "acceptable" and the "norm": marriage in our 20s, kids by the time we hit 30. However I haven't really lived much of a conventional life and so I haven't done very well at following this path. Do I regret not adhering to the "normal" (and having normal in quotes is deliberate) societal practices? I don't think so, namely because I seem to be living a reasonably happy life. Still, sometimes I wonder about the traditional life trajectory and whether I would have fit comfortably into it. Because even though I sometimes mock responsibility, I find that I enjoy being responsible.

Anyway, these are issues I'm still grappling with. It comes under the rubric of "Am I really happy with my life?" (Of course what a luxury it is to be able to think about these things.) I do think I'll continue to be a work in progress for quite a while.

Truth be told, I don't think I have any idea what the hell I'm writing about here. My thoughts are a mite jumbled this evening, and an hour is not long enough to really think through these issues.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sober reflection

I have quite a bit on my mind today, the result of a bit of a crazy, way-too-drunken evening (which also included running into one of my closest pals unexpectedly as I was coming out of the bathroom at the Victory Cafe), but I think I'll take some time to reflect rather than write. Sometimes it's best to ponder rather than regurgitate.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Can you go home again?

What a glorious day weather-wise we had in the city! Christmas is but a month away, yet there were people outside on various coffee-shop patios, reveling in the sun. It was wonderful to see. I decided take advantage of the bright sunny day and relative warmth and ventured out for much of the afternoon. And I wanted to accomplish at least one errand: buying xmas cards to send out. I've been awfully negligent in the past around sending out holiday cards, but I'm determined to make amends this year. Sending out cards tends to be one of those "adult things" that I'm not particularly good at. (Just add it to the list.)

It ended up turning into quite a walk, and one where I spent considerable time wandering the old neighbourhood. I stopped off for coffee and to do some writing at perhaps my favourite coffee house in the city, Moonbeam. It's safe to say that if you were there alone and you didn't have a pad of paper or a laptop computer, you were in the minority. (I overheard one woman chatting to a friend/acquaintance about her novel in progress. It didn't sound too thrilling.) I, however, ended up writing some poetry.

I seem to be in this poetic phase right now. Poetry is not a genre of writing I attempt often, and I think I know why: it's bloody difficult! I'm quickly discovering I'm not very good at it either (as evidenced by the poem I wrote yesterday; it was planned as three-part vignette, but I was only reasonably happy the camera obscura; the other ones are still in very rough and sad form). Still, I think I'm going to keep trying, at least for a little while. This is a portion of what I ended up with today while at Moonbeam. It was meant to capture my feelings about being in the old neighbourhood. (By the way, as you might be able to tell, I seem to have adopted a certain "style" of poetry: prose-like. It works for me...)

"I tried to travel home again, along streets and alleyways that were once as familiar to me as your moisturized skin, your long limbs, with my hands running along that fence we once gleefully (yes, it was glee, despite your denial) hopped."

Good lord, I need to work on my poetry skills! Yet again, something else I can point to, like much of my life, and say "it's a work in progress."

Friday, November 24, 2006


I want to capture you with a camera obscura. I’ll build one in the backyard, maybe have it double as a tool shed. A pinhole with which I’ll imprision your image: inverted.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks(giving) for nothing!

(Sorry, I'm a little late posting this. H. came over to drop some stuff off - namely the third season of Arrested Development on DVD - and by chance I had just bought a bottle of Irish whiskey. Naturally we had to polish off over half the bottle... It was only as he was leaving he spotted the single malt in the kitchen. "How come you didn't give me that?!" he asked, but then added, "Ah, don't waste it on me. Save it for Global Orgasm Day.")

First off, a Happy Thanksgiving to my wonderful American friends and readers! I hope the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie were all delicious. (I'm still looking for someone to explain why the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always play games on Thanksgiving. You'd think they'd try to mix teams up a bit more.) I always consider U.S. Thanksgiving as the official beginning of the winter holiday season. In other words, I now give my permission for my neighbours to put up their Christmas lights. (Not that they've been listening to me - maybe it's a language thing - since almost every house around here is already heavily adorned with xmas decorations.)

I like the idea of a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, and wish it's something Canada would adopt. Actually, scratch that idea: instead I'd settle for a day off sometime between New Year's and Easter. It seems somehow cruel and unusual that we're expected to slog away without a paid vacation day during the worst stretch of weather. How about Valentine's Day as a holiday (which would thrill my friend R., who says Valentine's is her favourite day of the year)? Of course I'm open to alternate suggestions.

I was out with a friend a couple of nights ago who is enjoying the freelance writing lifestyle. Thankfully he has a lot of work on the go so there's little fretting about money and where the next assignment is coming from. Still, and I didn't tell him this because it's not my place to lecture, he's not exactly following through on his original plan when he chose the freelance life. His original intent, and which I supported wholeheartedly (I might have even used the phrase, "Go for it" since I couldn't come up with the male variant of "You go girl"; "You go guy" just doesn't sing), was to write more of the types of stories that interest him, rather than churning out the hack trade journalism shit that he was writing and editing in his full-time gig. He wanted to write about music, for example, or movies. Entertainment stories, in other words. (He was carrying the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, as if to show where his real interests lie.) I even gave him some advice when he first made the freelance plunge: sure, take some of the shit that pays well, but also make an effort every week to query an idea for something that interests you, that you genuinely want to write about. I'm not sure if he ever heeded my advice (he wouldn't be the first to ignore me...).

But chatting about freelance did get me pondering the things I miss about the freelance life. And amazingly, sleeping in is not one of those things, probably because I consider myself a morning person. (I'm also something of an evening person, which usually makes the afternoon hours something of a wasteland.) I was fairly disciplined when it came to getting up and starting my work day at a reasonable hour - that would usually mean getting to my desk almost immediately after my (now-ertswhile) partner was out the door after receiving her "have a nice day" kiss (something else I miss!). And unless I had a looming deadline and the work just wasn't coming, I would rarely have to work late into the evening. I was able to keep regular hours, in other words.

Yet - and here is where the lament begins (please, keep your arms inside the ride at all times) - I do miss the afternoon nap. It wasn't an everyday occurrence, but I would usually indulge every few days for about 30 minutes on the couch. Oh glory be to have that luxury again! I also miss being able to run at lunchtime. It's much more difficult to sneak in a run with a full-time, out-of-the-house job - I either have to drag my ass out of bed at 6:30 (and even though I'm a morning person, I'm not necessarily a great morning run person) in order to get my mileage in before work, or run after work when I'm usually tired (and mildly cranky and not in the mood for a run). So basically it means I'm not as fit as I was a couple of years ago.

But the thing I miss most of all is the solitude of the freelance writing life. Or maybe even more than that, not having anybody looking over my shoulder while I work or questioning the method I chose to do my work. As a writer working for myself, I was judged on the final product, not on the process. Who cares how I got from A to B - the important thing was the B. Working full-time for a salary, the dynamic has changed. Yes, the end result of what I do (whether it's the finding aid or the catalogue record I create) is still important (and I do take considerable pride in my work, as I've always done), I've essentially become a salary man: I need to be seen occupying my chair for 7 hours a day, 35 hours/week. It's a constant source of frustration - I always get the feeling I'm "being watched."

All that said, would I want to give up my job to live the life of a freelancer again? Decidedly not. Sure, I still struggle with the lack of independence in my work, but I love what I do for a living. I feel it's meaningful, I'm passionate about it, and I'm relatively good at it. I have one of those jobs where, at certain times of the day, I think to myself, "Man, I can't believe I'm actually doing this for a living." I get a buzz from it. Of course I'd like to make more money - more important, I'd like to have some job security (in that respect it's not dissimilar from being a freelancer!) - but my work works for me.

Egads, what a boring post for others to read. Apologies. Feel free to blame the whiskey.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


It's about time I use this blog for good. To that end, I give you a public service announcement.

Mark this date on your calendar: December 22. Why? It's Global Orgasm Day. You can read all about its mission and its goals on the web site.

So spread the word! More importantly, spread the love! (I was going to write "spread the seed," but somehow that seems a little too crude so early in the morning - I haven't had my full dose of caffeine yet, after all.) But remember: be safe. (Although it strikes me that if one was thinking of having kids, this might be the perfect day to procreate.) Currently being without a sexual partner, however, will make this an extra challenge for me. Am I up (pardon the pun) for it?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Robert Altman, RIP

A rare two-post day. (I guess this doesn't count for tomorrow, does it?)

I just wanted to make mention of Robert Altman's death. As some of you might know, film was my lifeline during my teenage years: it gave me a glimpse into a world outside of the usual teenage/high school angst and pressures. My friend D. and I used to go to the movies at least once a week, and we'd often spend our weekends watching movies on video (while drinking, of course...). Amazingly, the first Altman film I ever saw was in the theatre. In the early 1980s, MASH was re-released, so one night my parents drove me downtown to the (now-defunct) Sheraton Theatre so I could see the film that inspired my favourite tv show. Naturally I didn't think it was as good as the Alan Alda MASH, largely because I had never really seen a film quite like it. People were talking over other's lines! This is not a movie, this is like ... well, real life.

It took me a couple of Altman films (and a few screenings of his MASH) before I finally clued in to the Altman sensibility. After that I was hooked. In many ways I think Altman films define American film of the 1970s: original, idiosyncratic and rule breaking. I know it's cliche to say, but Nashville really is an incredible film. He lost a step or two in the early 1980s (he became more of a theatre director and he tried to translate that style to films; it just didn't seem to work) but came back with a flourish in the 1990s and into the 21st century. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better directed film than Gosford Park.

It's sad to think they'll never be another Robert Altman film. Rest in peace.

Poetic soul

I was planning on writing about the GG Awards today - and literary awards in general - but I'm feeling decidedly bummed out and just can't seem to summon the requisite energy and intelligence. I had a remarkably (well remarkable for me) productive day at work, but I also couldn't shake a "heavy heart" feeling for most of it. I should have known from the start that I'd be feeling out of sorts: I awoke this morning after having a dream about the ex, which made me feel wistful and sad - not an ideal way to begin the day! And my e-mail inbox was deadly silent all day, which (and I know this is going to sound terribly odd and probably pathetic, but I seem to be writing it anyway) made me feel even more alone. Even my regular e-mail procrastination partner wasn't prolific today (although she has a good excuse: she's ridiculously busy with work to the point where she's canceling a planned outing for Thursday night). Ah well, tomorrow is another day, as they say. And the good news is that I rarely have two days like this in a row. I can be moody, to be sure, but not often will a bad, depressive mood last longer than 24 hours. I always have to remind myself that days like this are a regular function of my emotional system. Who knows, they're probably even healthy.

Off shortly to meet a friend (really more of a acquaintance since I don't see him all that often, although I'm sort-of responsible for him meeting his now-wife) for drinks. Good timing since I think I need something alcoholic to help numb the downcast mood. It's turning into a rather social week, which is a nice change of pace.

Monday, November 20, 2006

TTC = Toronto Transit Crap

When I started writing this post this morning, I was in a fightin' mood and ready for a good rant. Now that it's almost 10:00 in the evening, I'm less in a ranting mood... Sometimes I wish I was more tempestuous - well, not really.

I heard on the radio this morning that the TTC (the Toronto Transit Commission for you out-of-town readers) is attacking the increasing problem of counterfeit tokens not by introducing the most-obvious solution - implementing a much-needed smart-card system - but by (wait for it) ... introducing a new brand token! How wonderfully 20th century of them. (If you're curious about how it looks, check out this link.

Frankly, I'm embarrassed by our transit system. We must still be the only major city in the world that continues to use the damn token. In defending the tiny token, TTC chief Howard Moscoe said that the TTC was the first transit system in the world to utilize the token system back when the subway opened in 1954. Er, Howie: that was over half a century ago! Technology has, like, you know, progressed a little since then. He did concede that Toronto will eventually have a smart card system - by the year 2015. That's nine years, by my count.

Maybe I'm just resentful because I've probably squandered about $20 in lost tokens over the years, but it strikes me that the TTC is trying to put off the inevitable for some unknown reason (ok, I know the real reason: $$$). I even had a token malfunction this past weekend: at the Yonge St. entrance the other night, I lost a token by putting it in the turnstile only for it not to work. (Serves me right: I should have gone with my original instincts and taken my bike.) To me, it's a symptom of what's really wrong with this city: instead of thinking long-term, the city decides to enact these short-term, patchwork solutions rather than having any real vision.

Believe me when I say I was more in a rant mood this morning. This is pretty tepid, I agree.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday musings

It seems like a bit of a lazy hazy Sunday. Unlike last week when I decided to undertake that (failed) attempt to move my bedroom up to the loft, I have no projects to attend to today. (Except fixing my toilet. It doesn't seem to be flushing too well.) I do think I'll head out for the afternoon: perhaps take in a film (I really should see Borat since everybody is talking about it, but it pains me to pay the ridiculous admission charge for a film that I know won't be greatly enhanced by a large screen and a Dolby sound system; I'm still tempted to wait for it to come out on DVD in a few months, so I might go to the new Bond film instead, or Babel) and then maybe catch a set of the jazz at the Pilot.

When I was at the library concert last night (which was pretty good, although attendance was sparse and there didn't seem to be much "energy" in the room; also, the TPL must invest in a new PA system since its current set-up is about as good/shitty as the system the Toronto subway uses for announcements), I was chatting with my friend H., and we were both lamenting the current sorry state of live jazz in this city. There have been some high-profile club closures, such as the Montreal Bistro earlier this summer, but also some of the smaller venues, such as the Red Guitar Bar on Markham St., have shut down. Thankfully there will always be a few places (The Pilot, for one, and the Rex Hotel) that will feature local musicians, but I'm still lamenting the loss of the Bistro (and the Senator, which closed about two years ago) since it essentially ensures that no top-flight players will be coming to the city for week-long engagements. No Brad Mehldau, for example (although he might have already outgrown playing a smaller club; I was fortunate to see him play on two consecutive nights in Chicago back in 1999 at the Jazz Showcase) or Geoff Keezer (who I've seen a few times at the Bistro, including a quartet he brought to town in the early 1990s that included Christian McBride and a young tenor hotshot named Joshua Redman). Even a stalwart such as Dick Hyman no longer has an appropriate venue to play in the city. It's a sad reality, and one that I don't see being rectified in the near future. Unless someone is willing to give me a couple of million dollars to take a chance on opening and operating a jazz club... (Having my own jazz bar has long been a dream of mine, actually, although I worry that I have too many hard-drinking friends that would expect drinks on the house, thus putting me out of business in short order.)

In other happenings, it's Grey Cup day here in Canada. Which reminds me of something else I read in the Souster correspondence I'm going through at work: in one letter from the early 1960s, he writes about the Grey Cup taking place in Toronto and how the city was effectively shut down for the few days prior to kick off. Man, how times have changed! If memory serves, the last time the game was held in Toronto, it was a complete disaster: it barely generated any buzz and attendance was fairly woeful. Perhaps there are too many events competing for our attentions these days, but it seems the Grey Cup barely raises a ripple anymore in terms of the country's conscious. (And perhaps that's a wholly Toronto-centric view. I'm pretty sure it's a much bigger deal out west.) Back in the mid-1980s, I would almost always be invited to some Grey Cup party: to eat chili (which I don't really like, actually), to place a wager and watch the game. It was a big deal. Hell, I even went to a Grey Cup game, back in 1981 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. (My main memory was wearing some big goofy hat and freezing my ass off.)

Still, I'll probably watch some of the game. I'm not much of a football fan, but there's something about the Grey Cup that signifies "Canada." I can be patriotic when I have to be.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The library and music

It seems that this week is turning into a minor music week for me. First there was Emm Gryner on Thursday - good concert where the new tunes from her latest album, The Summer of High Hopes, really shone, but the show seemed way too short (particularly given the price of the tickets: $12 plus an astounding $6 Ticketmaster "convenience" fee; it's amazing what those Ticketmaster bastards get away with) - and tonight it's a concert at the main branch of the Toronto Public Library. Yes, you read right: the TPL is hosting a concert! It's a free concert (although I think all the tickets have been snapped up; I was fortunate to obtain one from a librarian friend of mine) that is being labeled as a show "launching Toronto Public Library's new local music CD collection." Five artists are on the bill (none of whom, of course, I've heard of): Elliott Brood, Great Lake Swimmers, LAL, The Old Soul and Shad. And even though the music might not appeal to an aging non-hipster as myself, this is an event I'm happy to attend and support. I mean, think about: a concert at the library!

Given my profession, it's no surprise that I love libraries. I spent a big chunk of my childhood at the Roxboro Public Library in Montreal's West Island. And my teenage years in the suburban hell of Mississauga were partially endurable because of the Central Library on Hurontario (since demolished, I think) where I discovered both the joys of the New Yorker magazine and jazz (via the library's cassette collection). Given the amount of time I spent in libraries as a child and teenager, it's amazing that it took me so many years to figure out that my ideal profession was in a library. Even a year and a half into my current job, I still get a buzz thinking about where I work, particularly when I have to do "stacks retrieval" (we have a closed stacks, standard for a rare book library) which allows me to wander our various floors in search of some old, valuable book.

Those of us "in the know" about how wonderful libraries are don't need much prodding to use the services they offer. Yet marketing has never been a particular strength of most libraries. It's one of the reasons why the TPL is throwing this concert (there was one a couple of weeks ago at the North York Central Library): to say, "Hey, we're out here, use us." It's particularly important to get younger people aware of what the library can offer - and it doesn't hurt to show that it can somewhat hip by carrying a good, eclectic selection of music. (I've been relying heavily on the TPL's CD collection of late, especially for classical and opera which can be terribly expensive to purchase.)

So even though I might be one of the older patrons at this show tonight, I'm sure to have a great time. And on the plus side, I imagine I won't be the only one with braces on his teeth...

Friday, November 17, 2006

where are today's poetic boosters?

Sometimes I worry that I'm not as productive at work as I should be. And I'm not talking here about being unproductive because of procrastination - something I've long battled - but because I get too wrapped up reading the stuff I'm supposed to be processing and sorting. (For those that don't know, I'm an archivist who deals primarily with literary papers.) Today was a perfect example. For the past few days, I've been working on the papers of a Canadian poet. The box I was rooting through for much of the day today were his notes and research material for an unfinished book (and descriptive bibliography) on the history of Contact Press, perhaps the most important small press in Canada to emerge post-WWII.

I got caught up reading the letters (xeroxed because they were from other archives, although the library I work at has a fairly extensive collection of Contact Press material) that Raymond Souster, one of the co-founders (along with legends Irving Layton and Louis Dudek) of Contact, wrote to two American poets, Cid Corman and Charles Olson. It's almost a form of addiction for me: reading correspondence from 40 years ago! Ok, it has to at least be interesting correspondence. This stuff was great: Souster was primarily writing about the poetry scene in Canada and what the press was producing (I couldn't help smiling when I was reading his note to Corman in 1961 about an exciting new talent in Toronto, "a girl named Gwen Macewen," who at the time was only 20; he had already identified her as someone to watch), but there's also stuff about baseball (and mostly dealing with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League) and jazz. If someone wanted a quick snapshot of the literary scene in Toronto (and a little bit of Montreal) in the late 1950s and early 1960s, these letters are proverbial treasure troves.

What strikes me most about Souster's correspondence is how passionate he is about the whole literary movement, particularly poetry, in Canada at that time. Some of it is gossipy, to be sure (and who among us doesn't enjoy indulging in gossip when it concerns people and subjects we're interested in?), but there's also real substance to his passions and his arguments. There's almost a sense of urgency to his discussions about poetry - he wonders about the next generation of poets, about whether they're impassioned enough, whether they're going to carry the torch to the next generation. It got me thinking: is the poetry scene in this city like that today? Do people argue about the "importance" of poetry? Are there "movements" or philosophies of poetry that poets adhere to (or discount, for that matter)? Is there a vibrancy to these arguments? I'm not a poet so I can't say for certain. (And it's funny: I find myself less interested in the poetic works that Souster writes about than the personalities involved. I wonder if that reflects poorly on me?) But it is something I've been thinking about. (Don't worry: it doesn't keep me up at night.)

On a totally unrelated note, watched (again!) Before Sunset this evening. I was feeling a mite down and I find it's almost a form of therapy for me. There's something about that ending - Julie Delpy dancing to Nina Simone - that always leaves a smile on my face. Hope. Optimism.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Moods - who can figure them out?

A rare mid-day post from work! I don't really have much choice if I want to fulfill the post-a-day challenge. I'm heading straight from work to dinner, and then to the concert. As a result, I don't think I'll be home in time to meet the midnight deadline. Nor do I think I'll be much in the mood to write when I get home. My guess is that, once the cat is fed, I'll basically be looking to tumble into the warmth of my sheets.

I woke up in a great mood this morning, for some unknown reason. Maybe because I felt I (finally!) had a good, full-night's slumber. It rained all night, and sometimes there is nothing better than falling asleep while there's a great rain happening outside. (Unless of course you happen to be outside; that's not so good.)Yes, there's still some attendant sadness that I'm waking alone (it's amazing, even a full year out of my relationship, I still miss her physical presence, particularly in the mornings), but my spirits seemed to be rather high when I awoke. I then had a nice meandering walk in to work. It didn't rain (pity, because I like walking in the rain), but it was still a pleasant stroll.

When I walk for a longish length of time, I like to "test" the shuffle function of the ipod, to see whether it can pick the tunes that I'm in the mood to listen to. (Perhaps that's a sad reflection on the state of my life that that's the most exciting part of my day!) Today's choices were excellent. I began the walk with about 15 minutes of NPR Shuffle (which is basically a daily sampling from National Public Radio), and then the songs chosen for me included "Kiss of Life" by Peter Gabriel (I used to dance on the furniture to that song), Lesley Gore's "It's my Party" (a song which I have a whole childhood story to tell, but I just don't have time for it now) ... and now of course I can't remember the rest of the tunes. But they were all great.

In other news - and yes, this is becoming one of those "so this is what's happening in my day" posts that I usually hate to read on other people's blogs - I've been waiting for all kinds of books I have on hold to show up at my local library branch. Part of the problem is that I tend to put holds on new books, and it seems to take the TPL an eternity to process new books. Of course not satisfied with my number of current holds, I decided to add more to the list. If you're at all curious (and really, at this point, why wouldn't you be?), these are the books, CDs and DVDs I'm waiting on:

America's songs : the stories behind the songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley / by Furia, Philip.

The audacity of hope : thoughts on reclaiming the American dream / by Obama, Barack.

The battle of the Five Spot : Ornette Coleman and the New York jazz field / by Lee, David.

The cunning little vixen Das schlaue Füchslein / by Janáček, Leoš.

Fidelio / by Beethoven, Ludwig van

Five leaves left / by Drake, Nick.

The greatest story ever sold : the decline and fall of truth from 9/11 to Katrina / by Rich, Frank.

The immortal game : a history of chess, or, How 32 carved pieces on a board illuminated our understanding of war, art, science, and the human brain / by Shenk, David.

Nixon in China : the week that changed the world / by Macmillan, Margaret Olwen.

Parallel realities / by DeJohnette, Jack.

Size matters : how height affects the health, happiness, and success of boys and the men they become / by Hall, Stephen S.

Smile / by Wilson, Brian.

Standards. Vol. 1 / by Jarrett, Keith.

Sublime honoring the music of Hank Jones / by Keezer, Geoff.

The war room / Trimark Home Video.

I wonder if one's library holds says much about a person?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Another random(s) post... Not much in the mood to formulate something insightful and incisive. (I can hear you: "When in the hell are you ever insightful or incisive?")

Just came home from hanging with a friend and indulging in some food and drink at one of our locals. I like the guy - he's one of my closest friends (particularly when I have a computer problem, he's the first one I call) - but at times I find him totally perplexing. The last couple of times I've seen him, he's told me about a woman at work that seems to be smitten with him. And even though he tells me he's attracted to her, he doesn't pursue it. His excuse? "If I show interest, that's it." What does that mean? Well, in his head, it essentially means that if he decides he wants to pursue a relationship, he has to commit to this woman wholeheartedly. He's a little funny that way: even though he hasn't had a girlfriend in, oh, ten years, he doesn't seem to think there's a middle ground between friendship and marriage. It's a sign of his inexperience with women. He's gun shy. I've told to him just ask her for a drink - "People do it all the time, you know," I've said - but he seems to reluctant to do something as small as that. I've thrown my hands up in the air and given up.

Tomorrow I'm going out with another guy who hasn't had a girlfriend for a while. He too is pretty gun shy with women. Actually, he's worse than that: he tends to be attracted to women that are either attached or are schlepping drinks in a bar (ie., the typical bar wench). (And before I get attacked for that comment, let me say I have nothing against waitresses. He happens to be attracted to a typical "type" of waitress: too young and too blonde for him.) Maybe it's a form of self defense: if one becomes attracted to an unattainable, he never has to make a move. This is one reason why, incidentally, I'm not a good friend to my female friends: I can't introduce them to guys that will actually take some initiative. And it seems I know a fairly large number of interesting single women. So my apologies to all you fine and wonderful women. Perhaps I'll make more of an attempt to expand my circle of male friends.

But the good news about tomorrow is that I'm going to see a concert: Emm Gryner is playing at the Mod Club on College. For those that don't know, Gryner is a Canadian singer/songwriter. She toils in relative obscurity in North America, but I read recently that she's become relatively popular in Europe, particularly Ireland. (Or maybe it's Scotland.) Anyway, I'm half-guessing what I'll be saying when the show is over and I'm walking out of the Mod Club: "Why the hell don't I go see more live music?"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The art of letter writing

Just a short-ish post tonight. I have a stack of books and a letter to attend to. And speaking of letters...

On many days, a significant chunk of my work day is spent being nosy and reading other people's mail. Not surprisingly, it's probably the part of the job I love the most, particularly when the letter writers are ... well, writers. I've long been fascinated with correspondence, particularly between people who know how to ... well, write. I find I can lose myself when I'm sorting through a series of interesting letters that share ideas, interests and friendship. It can be remarkably stirring.

As some of you can attest - those that I correspond with frequently via e-mail, in other words - I too love to correspond via the written word. For one, it's my main form of procrastination during the day. I figure it's better to e-mail than to surf the web since it keeps my mind (somewhat) active and engaged. (It was truly the best procrastination device when I made my living as a writer as it would keep my fingers moving on the keyboard.)

Still, as much as I love to write and receive e-mail, is there anything better than coming home after a long workday and seeing a letter - a real letter! - in the mailbox? Hell, it can even be a postcard. It's tactile and "old school," but wonderful all the same. To that end, I'm making an effort (and I know I can hear some of you groan, adding "I've heard this song before") to get back to real letter writing again. For those whose addresses I have, watch your mailbox! And to those who want to receive a letter, you know where to reach me if you want to send me your address. (My first letter is long overdue to a particular receipent, but I needed some time to reflect first and to let some raw feelings heal a mite. I know I'm being cagey and somewhat mysterious. Apologies. I actually started it today while in the laundromat.)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Civic duty

It seems I can't go two months without having to cast a vote in an election. Today was voting day in Toronto to elect our municipal government. (Thankfully they've changed the municipal rules and the new mayor and council will be in office for four rather than three years. That's a change for the better.) Like a good citizen, I went to the polls after work - it helps that my polling station was the school right next to the house, so it took me all of 30 seconds to get there - and performed my civic duty. Not that my vote is going to be terribly meaningful: David Miller is pretty much a shoo-in for mayor (and in fact he was declared the winner as soon as City-TV's election coverage began at 8:00; of course it could have declared him the winner six months ago, this being perhaps the dullest mayoral race that I can remember) and my riding is almost a near-certainty for the incumbent Joe Mihevc. It will also mean that my vote isn't the kiss of death this time since I happened to vote for both these guys. (More often than not, those I vote for end up getting slaughtered - not literally, thankfully.)

So why do I still vote even though it has no meaningful impact on the results? Well, we live in a democracy, a privilege that not everybody on this planet gets to enjoy (and yet one that many desire). I take my democratic rights seriously (honest!). More acutely, our day-to-day lives are probably most affected by what happens in the municipal chamber - it's important our voice is heard in electing those members that make the decisions that have a direct impact on this city. I also remember what a high school teacher once told a class I was in: he basically said if you don't vote, you really don't have the right to bitch and whine about what the government does or doesn't do.

And some votes really do count: when I last checked the results in the ward immediately next to mine, the difference between the top two was a mere 8 votes. Unbelievable. (But I've rechecked and the woman who I hoped would win, Alejandra Bravo, is now down by over 100 votes. Too bad: she's the kind of fresh voice the city needs. Municipal elections are a lot like the House elections in the US: rarely does an incumbent lose.)

So now that he's officially re-elected, I have a message for the second-term mayor: Mr. Miller, you've been given a second mandate. Your first term was ok, but there seemed to be a lot more promise than substance. Let's see you come through on some of your promises from three years ago, namely some real movement on the waterfront. Give up the island airport fight. That part of the waterfront is fucked anyway because of rampant over development. But you have a chance to make a real and lasting impact on the east end of the city with respect to the waterfront. Build some much-needed green space - space for everybody that lives in the city, and not the privileged few that desire a condo on that stretch of as-yet undeveloped land. And how about some more bike lanes while you're at it? This city has so much potential - let's see it reach it.

I want to proud again to live in this city.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't try this at home kids!

On a whim while vacuuming this morning, I decided to do some rearranging of the apartment. I've been living here for over a year now and thought that moving some of the furniture might give the place some renewed energy. The big change I decided upon was to move my bedroom - not the room itself, of course, but the bed and the bedside table. For those that haven't seen my apartment, I live on the second floor of a house that also has a small upstairs "loft." Since I moved in, I've been using that space primarily as an office (it also doubles as a place for storage, including my winter bike). But I find I haven't been utilizing the upstairs much anymore. As soon as the warm weather hit, I moved my main computer downstairs since it gets ridiculously hot and stifling up there in the summer. (There's no window in the loft, although apparently that's in the works for next year.) And it can a little bit chilly in the winter. As a result, the main occupant of the upstairs tends to be the cat: it's where I keep her food and litter box.

I've always liked loft spaces as bedrooms, so I decided I would move the bed up there for a few months (ie., through the winter) and see if I enjoy it. Yes, it does get cold in the loft during the winter, but I find I'm usually too warm in bed anyway. (I also have a new duvet, which keeps me toasty warm - often too toasty.) And since I'm not dating anybody, I don't have to worry about a partner's potential warmth in a cooler room. I would then move my "office" (such as it is, hence the quotes) into the old bedroom, and have it double as a place to read.

Along with friendship, companionship and sex, I've discovered one other wonderful benefit of being in a relationship: having someone help move the furniture! I got the bed frame up there fine, but I'm struggling big time with the box spring. I'm starting to wonder whether it will actually fit up the stairs, but when I look at it (and it's not easy to miss since it's about two feet from my face right now...) and the stairs, there's no reason why it shouldn't make it up there. I've decided it's a two-person job though. So as it stands, I'm waiting for a friend to come by and help me out. Cross your fingers. I'll provide an update later on my success or failure.

Update: Trial and error in getting the box spring up to the loft was primarily error. As a result, the bed is back in the old room and my furniture rearrangement plans are pretty much a bust. Must come up with a new solution to shake things up.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Lest We Forget

Just a few words this morning. Today, Remembrance Day, is a day for silent reflection. While I generally regard myself as a pacifist and shake my head in frustration at man's capacity to wage war, I think it's important to remember those who have perished fighting for what they believe was a just cause. Yes, war is stupid, yet it seems we'll never live in a wholly peaceable world. Thus there will always be a need to honour and show genuine appreciation to those who willingly sign up to defend something as nebulous as "our country" or "our freedoms." (Yikes, I hope I'm not sounding too much like a raging patriot or George W. Bush!)

This year's Ottawa service, most of which took place in a driving rain (and was marred somewhat by CBC's terrible technical feed), seemed to be particularly moving due to the seemingly larger amounts of younger people involved, primarily the widows and children of young soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. (And today is not a day to post my feelings on that mission.) But I can be a little "soft" when it comes to this kind of stuff and have a tendency to be overly emotional at these types of ceremonies. (I feel a little vulnerable this morning as well - not sure where that's coming from.)

If you're curious about Canada and its role in the first World War - and really, Canada came into its own as a country during WWI - check out this site that Library and Archives Canada has put together.

Friday, November 10, 2006

smoked meat, part 2

It appears I'm getting this in just under the wire tonight. I was out with a former colleague but now close friend A. Proof of how much I enjoy her company is that I completely forgot about this crazy post-a-day challenge! It was only as I was riding my bike home from her place that I realized I had but 15 minutes to turn on the computer and post something quickly before midnight strikes. I feel like Cinderella!

About the only observation I have is that I saw the first Christmas lights of the season. I like the holiday season as much as the next person, but give me a fucking break. We're still two weeks away from American Thanksgiving (which is about the time I feel it's appropriate to begin discussing xmas). Truth be told, except for having time off of work, I'd like to avoid the whole holiday season this year. Last year was tough enough, but I fear this year is going to be even more difficult. (One significant change: I won't be able to indulge in my usual holiday treat of cashews because of the braces.)

I predict much grinning and bearing. And apologies for two junkie posts in a row.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

the "smoked meat" post

As I predicted, there would be posts like this: ones that I just don't have the time to properly formulate because I was too busy at work (truth be told, I don't really visit blogger during work hours) and/or too busy with social stuff. But I promised to post something every day, so here you go. I'll admit, it's a fairly junky post.

I was out tonight with some former school colleagues: one is a friend, the other two are just acquaintances. But it did get me thinking: how come I didn't make more of an effort during my two years of schooling to befriend these people? How come we never went out drinking? It seems strange that I'm more interested in hooking up with these people now that I'm out of school than I did when I was in school.

Yes, I need to make more of an effort.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bye bye, Rummy!

It's just too tempting to write about last night's US election - and it gets me off the topic of my teeth. As some of you might know (though I bet most don't), I'm something of a US political junkie. I've long been fascinated by US history - in fact, when in high school, I seriously considered studying American history for my undergraduate studies (it would have been a part of a larger study of international politics; I've written in the past on some of my other blogs about my regrets in my decision making in terms of my post-secondary education so I don't feel the need to tread those waters again!). It's such a wonderfully rich and fascinating history, not to mention that I rather like Americans - well, at least the Americans that I know (who seem to act more like Canadians, now that I think about it, particularly when it comes to their political leanings). Alas, my university studies took me in another direction, but I never lost my interest in American politics. (Clear evidence: I rarely miss This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday mornings.)

Naturally, I was quite happy this morning to wake up to the news that the Democrats took control of the House, and that they were deliciously close to winning the Senate. (Dubya can forget about trying to push through an overtly conservative Supreme Court justice if a vacancy pops up.) And really, I don't have much more to add from what the pundits have been saying all day (although this "clear signal of a new direction desired" as some are calling the results is not really that clear; after all, the country is still bitterly divided). And as for Rumsfeld's departure from the Pentagon? It's about time! Pity he couldn't take the other architect of the Iraqi War, Cheney, with him as he clears out his office. (One more aside: It bugs me to see the Republicans on the airwaves going on and on about "fighting Al-Qaeda" in Iraq. There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq when the military invaded! They seem to be confusing sectarian violence and a civil war with the so-called war on terror.)

And Bush? Can anybody spell "lame duck"?

One more quick aside about the braces: I'm having my first social outing tonight with them on. I'm hooking up with a new acquaintance I met at a friend's party just over a week ago. I've warned her about the braces so it won't be a complete shock. Still, it's hard to get over feeling terribly self-conscious about them.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

random musings

So I figure I should throw in some shorter posts on here. For one, the long posts tend to exhaust me, particularly on evenings after a long day of work. (And it was a long day: I was thrust into public service because of the flu bug that's making its way around the library.) And they give a break to my faithful readers, who I applaud for their stamina in reading my lengthier posts (although I have no way of knowing whether my readers - all four of you, I'm sure - are actually making it to the end of my ramblings).

The navel-gazing (ie., stupidity?) qualities of blogs
I was surfing through the channels last night after enjoying a hearty bowl of tomato soup and stumbled upon the Canadian hit show Corner Gas. It's a show I've seen a few times and generally enjoy. (Many years ago I saw Brent Butt hosting at a comedy club. I actually loath most stand-up comedy, but I thought he was wonderfully funny.) Last night's episode revolved around the slightly imbecilic Hank and his forays into the blogsphere. All I could think about is, "Geez, are my posts that pathetic?" It almost made me give up this November challenge.

The braces update
I'm going to resist the temptation (ok, it's not that tempting) to turn this blog into a braces blog. But I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention what my first 24 hours as a braces-wearing adult was like. (24 down, another 13,000 or so to go...) The good news is that there was no pain today. Sure, a bit of pressure on the teeth, but nothing I couldn't handle. I guess the thing I'm going to have to get used is the feeling that there's food stuck in the braces and the wires - and the food itself being stuck in the braces and the wire! Thankfully I'm one of those rare people that truly enjoys brushing their teeth, so dipping into the loo to do a quick brush isn't such a big concern.

BTW, a big thank you to those offering their thumbs-up to the whole braces thing, especially those who have commented on this site. I'm feeling pretty self-conscious about the whole thing, so it's nice to get some support in this decision. It's very much appreciated, so thank you.

I'm reading the biography of Gwendolyn MacEwan, perhaps the finest poet this country has ever seen, and I think I have a crush. Unfortunately she's dead. Sort-of reminds me of the Who song Pictures of Lily.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The man with the metal mouth

So I guess today's news is that, for the first time in my life, I have braces on my teeth. Not surprisingly, it's a pretty big deal for me. For one, it requires something of a change in my eating habits: even something simple as my traditional breakfast (cereal, toast and an apple) has to be reconsidered. (I'm going to have some cream of wheat tomorrow. I just need to go out and buy some brown sugar. What's cream of wheat without brown sugar?!) I've been told to only eat soft foods for the first 24 hours. There's a tin of tomato soup in my cupboard with my name on it...

The procedure itself was pretty simple and painless. And the braces themselves aren't bugging me as much I expected. It helps that the braces are only on the top teeth - my orthodontist decided I don't need them on the bottom. And the arch wire (all these new terms I'm learning!) is not yet across my four front teeth. The braces themselves are, but he wants some of the other teeth to shift first before he deals with the front ones. (In fact, I don't think the two front teeth will be moving at all.) Still, they are metal and they are a new introduction to my mouth, so naturally there's going to be an adjustment. The amazing thing is that there are no elastics at all in my mouth. I have a relatively new type of braces called self-ligating, or "speed," braces. My orthodontist has been using them for about 3 years now and he says they are a benefit to both doctor and patient. Anyway, I'm sure some of you who read this site will eventually see me with the braces and you can give me a critique - or mock me mercilessly.

I know I promised to write about the whole thought- and decision-making process into getting the braces - including a discussion of the "tipping point" - but my heart isn't in it right now. But soon, I promise. I'm predicting that it's going to a lengthy post. Stay tuned!

To assuage any strange feelings I have about undertaking this braces project, I bought myself a nice bottle of single malt scotch. Seems no harm can be done to the braces with a bit of single malt swirling in my mouth...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Murakami

I had a ready-made topic for today. (If you're at all curious, I'm not "banking" posts - in other words writing a few in a day and then posting them on days when I don't have time to write. I feel that goes against the spirit of this blog challenge. I'm mentally banking ideas, but that's all.) I was going to write about my teeth. After all, this is the last day for about a year and a half that I won't have metal in my mouth. Tomorrow is B-Day: braces day. I was going to write about the whole thought process about getting my teeth fixed - how my smile has affected my self esteem, etc. - but it's not something I feel much like analyzing today. Maybe I want to enjoy my crooked smile for one more day! Perhaps tomorrow when I get home from the orthodontist I'll do an examination of my feelings on straight teeth and what life is going to be like as a 30-something single male living with braces.

(A quick aside: According to one site I've visited, once I get the braces on I should be seeking out women with brazilian waxes and staying clear of the "bush supporters." As one male adult with braces wrote, "I'm afraid to get her hair caught in my brackets." Ouch. I bet you wish I was writing on this topic...) Anyway, the braces go on at around 1:30, so send some positive vibes my way at that time.

Instead, I want to write about the film I saw last night: Tony Takitani. I had one of those fortuitous moments yesterday while reading the paper - which in and of itself is somewhat fortuitous since I rarely buy the Saturday paper these days. There was a review in the Globe's book section on the latest Haruki Murakami work, a short story collection called Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. I read it a couple of weeks ago, and while not all of the stories were successful, it was overall a great read. Of course I'm already "on board" with the author: I've enjoyed all of Murakami's works, even those that some may consider lesser works, such as Sputnik Sweetheart. (His masterwork is The Wind-Up Chronicle. Highly recommended.)

I know I tend to overuse the word "sensibility," but it makes sense in this context: I'm just hip to Murakami's particular - and some might add peculiar - sensibility. And what is that sensibility? I can't say it any better than this sentence, which I found on Wikipedia: "Murakami's fiction is humorous and surreal, and at the same time reflects an essential alienation, loneliness and longing for love." Moreover, Murakami's protagonists, usually male (and much of his work is written in first person), tend to like women, whiskey and jazz. Sign me up!

So it was a surprise to read in the generally favourable review that one of the stories in the new collection, Tony Takitani, has been made into a film. Even better, it happened to be one of my favourite stories in the collection. The story revolves around the title character, Tony, who is a successful illustrator. (The first part of the story centres on his father, a jazz trombonist who is imprisoned in China during the second world war.) He meets and marries a woman when he's in his 30s. It's only after he meets her that he realizes how lonely his life has been. While he loves his wife and his new life, there's one thing that disturbs him: she's a compulsive clothes shopper, to the extent that they have to dedicate one whole room in their apartment to her wardrobe. Anyway, I don't want to spoil the rest for those that might to read it.

The film, released last year and which I found on DVD at Suspect Video yesterday, is pretty much faithful to the story. I was more interested in whether the director would be able to capture the Murakami sensibility. Rather, if it would capture what I feel is the Murakami sensibility.

One of the reasons I love to read is that it's a solitary exercise, one that I can bring my own precepts and prejudices to and not be questioned about. It's also a reason why I've always struggled with public readings (not to mention that I have a terrible attention span!): hearing the voice of the reader rather than my internal voice is bound to affect how I judge and enjoy the work. Movie adaptations can be particularly jarring. I remember seeing the film Witches of Eastwick, based on a novel (a minor one) by John Updike, many years ago and thinking, "Wait a minute, this can't be the same book I read." By their very nature, film adaptations of novels will almost always be a disappointment.

The good news is that the film Tony Takitani was quite good. For one, it was short! I particularly like short films (must be that attention span thing...). More important, I think it did capture what I like about Murakami stories: it was sedate and intelligent yet also passionate, funny and (of course) surreal. There's always a tinge of mystery to Murakami's characters: they tend to play their emotions close to the chest, but you know there's something brewing behind the facade. This film captured that. And I guess the highest praise I can offer is that it made me want to re-read the story. (Unfortunately it was a library book. I'll buy the collection when it's released in paperback.)

And I guess I'm struggling with this post because I've got the whole "bush supporter" and braces thing on the brain. Tomorrow, I'm sure.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Singledom = boredom?

I received an e-mail yesterday from an east-coast dwelling friend who was responding to my note alerting her to this new blog venture. It seems she has high hopes for this blog, particularly since my mother would not be a reader. It sounds as if she's hoping for some juicy tales to entertain her. For one, she wants me to write on the topic of "fuck buddies," but I think I may take a pass on that unless I get truly desperate for material... "Personally," she wrote, "I have no idea what a thirty-something single man's life is all about." Which makes perfect sense: she's not yet in her 30s, she's not single and she's not a male. (Don't worry A.: I'm not taking the piss out of you!) I guess she figures stories of a city-dwelling bachelor would prove to be both interesting and educational. Hell, perhaps in some ways she's hoping to live vicariously through me!

However all I could think of was: great, yet-another challenge to add to the "month of challenges." I have to prove how wild and wonderful it is to be a 30-something single male.

I hate to dispel the image of the cool, swinging bachelor that I've tried to cultivate - yeah, right! - but the single life, or at least my single life, hasn't really been that grand of an adventure. Sure, this past year (and I've only been a 30-something single male for just over a year; before that, I was a pretty happy and stable attached male for almost all my 30s) has had its moments, but it's also been one of the most difficult years of my life. There's been some terribly painful and lonely moments, not to mention some unbelievably bewildering ones (I may write about some of them in a future post; stay tuned!). There has also been some serious questioning and soul searching of my motives to remove myself from a relationship that had many more highs than lows. In short, my first year of singledom has not only been a very thoughtful and somewhat self-loathing one, it's been the epitome of a classic up-and-down affair.

So what does a single male do on a free weekend like this? (And now that I think about it, it really is the first weekend in quite a while where I have absolutely nothing planned. There are no book sales, no parties and no commitments. The weekend time is entirely my own.) Well, this Saturday played out like most Saturdays: the cat woke me up at 7:00 to get fed, I went back to bed and slept for about another hour, got up and went to the local IGA to pick up some groceries to get me through the weekend and the first half of next week, had my breakfast (cereal, toast and melon) while reading the paper and listening to "The House" on CBC, did the dishes I had left from yesterday, made myself a pot of coffee, and brought the coffee and the paper to the next room to read while watching an English Premier League match. The rest of the day is still open, as are the evening hours. I'll probably do some reading, I may venture out to the movies, perhaps I'll take a nap.

Would you trade your life for mine?

Friday, November 03, 2006

the month of challenges

It seems that November is shaping up to be the month of challenges. There's this write-a-post-a-day challenge. There's the self-imposed get-back-running challenge. And as of 10 minutes ago, I've added the Reading Challenge. I stole this idea from J-love, who is taking up the challenge via Kate's Book Blog. Basically it asks one to take five books that one has already purchased but hasn't yet read, and read them before January 30th. Truthfully, this is exactly the type of challenge I need. For one, it's well-timed: I recently did some re-shuffling and re-shelving of my books, the result of the book shelf above my bed nearly falling on my head one night. I've since moved some of them to my dresser, as evidenced here:

(I have to admit, I didn't think that I'd be adding pictures so early in the month. I figured I'd be using them as props later in the month when I got tired of this blog challenge.)

I've also recently bought about 20 books from the various college book sales at the University of Toronto, so I'm not short of reading material. But I guess this challenge is one way to get rid of the backlog of books on my shelf - or as I like to call it, "the reading queue." (Once they get read, they move to a different bookcase, or are given away or traded. I'm trying to reduce the clutter in my life: physical, mental and emotional - that alone is worth another blog post...)

So I've chosen the books for the reading challenge. I've tried to include both lengthy ones (although no classic Russian novels or Dickens) and somewhat short-ish books. They are (and I'm not necessarily going to read them in this order):

- The Assault by Harry Mulisch (a book I've owned for about five years, I think, but have just never got around to reading; this challenge was made for books like this)
- Burning the Days by James Salter (a memoir from one of the most underrated American authors; if you haven't read his A Sport and a Pastime, go out now and pick it up)
- Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene (I hope to eventually read all of Greene's works; he epitomizes my mantra of reading books that are "literate yet accessible")
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (I picked this because I stole the challenge from J-love, and she said she's going to pick a Woolf)
- Deception by Philip Roth (this will probably be the easiest since Roth is probably my favourite author).

So there you go. And just to prove I have all these books at my ready disposal, another photo:

Of course I still have to finish the biography of Gwendolyn MacEwen before I start to think about what book I'll read first from that list. Not to mention I have another couple of books waiting for me at the library.

So who among you is going to join me in this challenge?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'm a groupie!

I almost never get mail - and I mean "real" mail, aside from my three regular monthly bills (credit card, telephone and cable; truth be told, they should be saving themselves the cost of a stamp and sending them to me electronically). So what a surprise to come home today and see a package sticking out of the mailbox (newly painted blue, I should add) addressed to me. Yes, it was so big that it couldn't fit in the box! Even better, it came with a US customs sticker on it (although it didn't appear that it was opened by our fine Canadian customs workers), which means it came from all the way across the border! "Who could be sending me such a wonderful gift?" I said to no one in particular.

Actually, I was sort-of expecting this package: I was alerted to it via an e-mail about a week ago from (wait for it) the fan club I belong to. Yes, I'll come clean: I'm a member of a fan club. It's taken me over 30 years ago to finally be a part of something! Even stranger, it's a club whose primary demographic is both half my age and of a different sex. In short, I'm a new member of Local-83, which is the official John Mayer fan club.

Some background is needed, I think. First off, I like John Mayer's music. I make no apologies for that. "Your Body is a Wonderland" aside (I really don't like that song, which is the song that Mayer haters will immediately point to; and to his credit, he no longer plays it in concert), I think the guy is a great songwriter. He's sort-of a throwback: he writes tuneful tunes that also contain interesting and complex chords (a Mayer tune is not populated with the standard D-G-A chord progression). Ok, perhaps his lyrics border on the trite, but I've never been one to dwell on song lyrics. If I want poetry, I'll read poetry. He's also a kick-ass guitar player, and his new album, Continuum, is a great leap forward in terms of his musical progression.

Anyway, before I belabour this story to death and lose the few readers I have, I should get to the point. The reason I joined the fan club was to score tickets to Mayer's show a few weeks back at the Mod Club. He announced he was doing a show solely for fan club members - one could only purchase tickets via the fan club web site. So I figured, what the hell: I'd join and hopefully score tickets to the show. It's always great to see one's favourite musicians in small, intimate settings. (Joe Jackson at the Phoenix, for example, ranks as one of the best shows I've ever seen.)

To make an increasingly long story somewhat shorter, I didn't get tickets. Which basically makes me feel that I wasted my hard-earned $25 (in US currency no less, although thankfully the Cdn. dollar is strong as hell these days against the mighty George Washington bill). So what did I get? Let's start with what I didn't get: the advertised six-month subscription to Rolling Stone magazine - only US citizens are entitled to that benefit (not that I've read Rolling Stone in a decade, mind you). What I did receive was one of those trendy bracelets made popular by Lance Armstrong (this one is not yellow and charity based, however, but a blatant and shameless plug for the new album), a key chain and an autographed photo, which now has an honoured place on my fridge:

Although I'm looking at the signature and thinking to myself that it might actually be signed by the president of the fan club since I can't spot the name "John Mayer" in that signature.

In my musical defence - and I agree it's a flimsy one at best - is that I'm currently listening to the new Keith Jarrett, The Carnegie Hall Concert, which is uncompromising, challenging and wonderful.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Just made it

I know, I'm getting this in just under the midnight wire - not exactly the way I wanted to start this November challenge! I was going to write this morning, but decided that since I was up early I'd go for a run instead. (I've really allowed my running to slip over the last couple of months, to the point where I'm starting to feel I'm going slightly "soft." So I'm also making November the "month to get off my ass and back on my running route.") And I just didn't have a spare moment at work to put something coherent together. And then I had made plans to go visit my friend R. to watch the first Toronto Raptor game of the season (they lost). But I figured I'd be home in time to put something together - and you're reading that something. (This is already starting to sound like one of those tired columns from an idea-short columnist, one who should have been put out to pasture several columns ago. There was a Globe and Mail columnist who wrote for years in the Arts section that would spend the first part of his column writing about the act of writing the column - proof that he really was bereft of ideas. I'm hoping to avoid those type of posts.)

I was hoping to write about music today, specifically the new album from The Who. I'm sure many of you are out there are saying, "You mean The Who is actually still around?" Even I'll admit that the band certainly isn't what it used to be - how could it with only two surviving members? But I always considered myself more of a Pete Townshend fan than a genuine fan of The Who. In fact, Townshend was the first musical artist I discovered on my own, without the help of my two older and musically inclined brothers. It was easy to be influenced by their musical tastes, but neither of them exposed me to The Who during my formative years. Instead, I discovered a love of Townshend tunes all by my lonesome. There's something about Townshend himself that always appealed to me: for one, he always seemed a little honest (a naked honesty, really) for his own good. (That continues to this day. He foolishly decided to go on the Howard Stern show a couple of weeks ago where he was grilled about the whole child pornography stuff that cropped up a couple of years ago - charges that were eventually dropped. He ended up walking out of the Stern show, which of course made him look foolish.) I felt a real affinity for Pete, something that continues to this day.

So what do I think of the new album? Well, I've only given it one listen, and it was a very cursory one. And for reasons that I can't quite figure out, it didn't seem to transfer to my iPod after I imported it to iTunes (I'm not really a wiz with technology; just don't tell my place of employment that since I'm one of the webmasters...). Basically my evaluation of the album will provide me another subject for another future November post.

See, how hard is this going to be?

Monday, October 30, 2006

The November challenge

Who doesn't love a challenge? According to my west coast pal uglygreenchair, November is National Blog Posting Month. Truth be told, the whole thing sounds sort-of sketchy - apparently it's an off-shoot of National Novel Writing Month, which another friend of mine attempted a few years ago. Still the idea is intriguing, enough for me to actually give it a whirl. So in the spirit of blogging - and those of you that know me will know I've done the blogging thing off and on for a few years (including maintaining "secret blogs," usually to keep up my writing chops in a somewhat public forum; who among us doesn't want at least a few nosy readers?) - and to help instill some discipline in my writing efforts, I'm picking up the proverbial gauntlet and will attempt to write on this blog every day during the month of November. The twist (and it's a minor one, I'll agree) is that I'm only going to keep this blog live during November. I'm pulling the plug on it once the calendar switches over to December.

My rules are simple. The first rule is the easiest to adhere: I'll write whatever the hell I want. Which means you might find me musing about my dull and boring life. (Example: "Oh look, I figured out a new way to tie the laces on my shoes!") Or maybe I'll write about books. Perhaps my job. I can potentially see myself dwelling on my soon-to-be foray into the world of wearing braces on my teeth. In short, there is no topic off limits - everything is fair game. And rule number two is that, while I'll attempt to scratch out lengthy-ish posts, I'm not going to feel guilty if I can only write something along the lines "Damn, that smoked meat sandwich was tasty" if that's all I can muster in a day. But trust me, I have more pride than that. (I'll probably add how I enjoyed the mustard as well.)

As some of you know, I maintain at least one other blog (although it's not really a blog, more along the lines of a vanity web site). During the month when I'm maintaining this site, there may be some crossover between a post on here and a post on the other site. (One other rule is that I'm not sharing this blog with my mother. So those of you that know her e-mail address: keep this blog a secret!) I don't want to let that site completely fall to pieces.

So there you have it. Consider this post, written a full day before the beginning of November, a preview of what's to come. Hmm, I hope I haven't lost most of you yet...