The Dark Journeys Winner!

Hey people,

As you might remember, I promised a signed copy of my first novel, Lost Gods, to someone who went out and commented on the first pile of Dark Journeys interviews. Now that I have a second to breath again, I have taken the time to find the winner.

The envelope please.

Wow, this glue is strong.

What is this envelope made of, bamboo? It’s impossible to rip.

Does anyone have any scissors?

Yes, that Katana will do nicely, thank you.

The winner is Morgan Elektra!

Congrats, Morgan! I’ll be in touch via some manner to get your address so I can send you your prize!

Thanks to everyone who commented, or in some way supported Jenny and her blog tour!

Friday Fiction – Winking Existence Part One

Hey people,

I started playing around with the theme of time travel. Here is the first part of my first effort. It’s rough, I’m not heavily editing it right now, but I thought it was worth a read.

I will post part two and three next week!

Winking Existence – Part One

I knew when my head slammed against a brick wall something had gone wrong. I fell to the ground on my hands and knees, broken glass tearing into me. I shouted in pain and pushed myself up, brushing the glass away. When my vision cleared, I could see that I was in a dirty alley, a far cry from the sealed safe room I was supposed to materialize in.

Something had gone very wrong.

I check my status bracelet. Not surprisingly, the thin silver band looped around my right wrist glowed a steady red. Danger.

My hands and knees were sliced up, but they were not life threatening injuries. What I needed to do, and quickly, was to figure out where the hell I was. The alley opened onto a deserted street, filled with abandoned cars, as though strewn there by some petulant god. The air was cold; I could taste it on my tongue, acrid and coppery. I felt an icy chill in my veins when I realized where I was and how much trouble I was in.

I pushed my hands in my pockets, trying to find some warmth, and retrieved a folded piece of paper. I scanned it, reading the message that my partner had left for me.

“If you’re reading this, be grateful you are not dead. I decided that we needed a more dramatic test of the device, so instead of sending you back five minutes, I thought 50 years would be more interesting. Sorry if you are disappointed, but rest assured I will make sure people remember you for your contributions to the project.”

Betrayed by my partner, left to die in the middle of history’s greatest disaster. I always knew that asshole was a fucking cliché, I should have sent him back.

There were two things I needed to do. The first was to get out of Toronto, the epicentre of the disaster. After that I needed to find some way to signal my assistant. As long as she wasn’t involved, she should be at the safe room, wondering where the hell I was. If I could get far enough away, I might be able to get a signal, might be able to get back to my time. If I lived that long.

None of the cars would start, that much I knew. The Canadian government had blanketed the area with electromagnetic pulse bombs, hoping to control the carnage. History would show that it was a terrible idea, but I was in the middle of history now, living through it. I figured I had about two hours left, if I could make it far enough away, I might just survive.

Most of the cars were pointed in the same direction, I assumed that the people who lived here would know which way to go. I ran along empty streets, dodging cars, broken glass from shattered windows underfoot. Even the greatest natural disaster in history did not dissuade looters.

Within a few blocks my knees were screaming, blood ran down my pants. I bent over, hands on my thighs, panting. I would not get very far by running. I had spent too much time in a lab, not enough time in the gym.

I had to keep moving. I had a deadline, and in this case, the word dead would be literal.

Up ahead, on the next block was a sporting goods store. Looters had smashed the windows already, so getting in was not going to be much of a problem.  I scrambled through the shattered glass, careful not to cut myself anymore, and looked for something I could ride.

That’s when I winked out of existence.

To be continued…

New Music From the Hold Steady

Anyone who knows me, or who has read Lost Gods, knows how important The Hold Steady is to me. I am pretty sure they are the best band making music right now, and I often (or always) listen to them when I am writing.

In Lost Gods, Coyote takes Anansi to a Hold Steady show. That concert experience was lifted from my own expereince seeing the band at the Opera House here in Toronto a few years back:

The lights went down, and the curtains opened, revealing a somewhat motley looking group of musicians in standard rock and roll formation. Drums, keyboard, lead and bass guitar, fronted by a wildly enthusiastic front man. They launched into their first song, a story of booze soaked love and redemption that managed to avoid being cliché, and the crowd exploded. Coyote’s eyes were shining as he looked at the stage, wide with wonder and delight.

“Let’s go down,” he shouted. We swept down the stairs, and immediately felt the wall of heat from the crowd. Coyote, with a carnivore’s instinct for sneaking around unnoticed, lead us in a winding path through the packed bodies, until we were directly in the middle of them. We settled in behind two large indie kids, their shoulders making an inverted proscenium arch through which I had the perfect view of the stage. Song after song, the band played, drank, and communed with their audience. The subject material was dark; people living on the fringes of life, with a tenuous grasp on reality. I could relate. What was amazing is that no matter how dark the song, no matter how bleak the lives of the characters, the singer was so enthusiastic, so happy. The show was like a perfect distillation of joy, for all to indulge in. Joy as the new drug. And the audience was hooked. For over two hours the band played, giving their heart and soul to this celebration of life. It was staggering. Finally, they finished, and we went out into the night.

All this to introduce the new album, streaming below. Enjoy.

Video fun with my son

So I don’t post a lot of the stuff I do with the kids. I’m not sure why, I just never got into it, besides a few “Talking with Tots” podcasts a few years ago. Today, however, I had a conversation with my son thta was a lot of fun, and really showed me how the three year old mind works. His favourite song is “Take a Minute” by K’Naan, although he calls it “Nosey Nose” (from the lyric And any man who knows a thing knows He knows). He was sining it, and I was trying to record it. This it what followed.

Living with kids, man, they are never not interesting.

Seriously, Casa Loma, a ninja?

Probably filled with ninjas.
It's like a ninja paradise!

For those of you who do not know, Casa Loma (Spanish for Hill House) is a museum and landmark in uptown Toronto, constructed in the Gothic Revival style. It was originally a residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. It looks like this:

If you are thinking to yourself, hey, I wonder if they have a ninja there, I must commend you for your astuteness. This Gothis castle in the middle of Toronto, Canada does in fact have an in house ninja.

Check it out, I got a flyer for educational programs at the castle this week, and along with things that make a remote amout of sence (knights, gardening, turn of the century Toronto) it included this gem:

IPhone Fall Pix 136
Because this totally makes sense.

My biggest question, aside from the obvious What the Fuck? is, how would a teacher get this past the administrators?

Teacher: So, we’re going to Casa Loma, we’ll be looking at the art, getting a tour, and oh, yeah, doing a Ninja Workshop?

Principal: Sounds good, wait, what, a ninja what?

Teacher: A workshop to teach the kids how to be more like ninjas. It’s part of my “Awesomely Insane” unit. We started with the 80s output of Chuck Norris, next we are moving into Ninjas, and we will wrap up with Luchadores.

Principal: The fuck?

Teacher: That’s what the kids say!

Pictured: The Official Luchadores of the CN Tower
Pictured: The Official Luchadores of the CN Tower

This can only end in tears.

The Top Ten Movies That Should Be Made Into Broadway Musicals

theatreSo, as most of you know by now I am one hardcore motherfucker who lives the rock and roll lifestyle to the extreme. This being the case, my wife and I went to see The Sound of Music at the Princess of Wales theatre this weekend. While there I was previewing the upcoming selection of plays, and I was rather surprised. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Young Frankenstein, The Harder They Come, and Legally Blonde were on the list. So, basically, Broadway musicals are becoming just as creatively bankrupt as Hollywood, and are simply recycling hit ideas from other mediums.

I don’t even know what to say about the Spiderman musical that is currently in rehearsals. Let’s just pretend that isn’t happening.

But it got me thinking. What other films are out there that could find new life as a blockbuster Broadway musical? Here is my list.

10. Transformers: The Musical – Because you can’t just limit Bayhem to the multiplexes! While it might be technically complex to do, I think the thrill of watching giant robots battling for worldwide supremacy will bring a whole new audience to the theatres. Bonus points for whoever can come up for lyrics that successfully rhyme Decepticon and Megatron meaningfully.

9. Lord of the Rings: The Musical – Wait. What? Really, they did? Never mind. Wow.

8. Jaws: The Musical – Now I know it might be difficult to tell the story of one town’s valiant battle against a shark, but if they can put the Little Mermaid on stage, why not this? And when you have an anthropomorphic shark singing “I’m gonna eat the Island of Amity up” to the tune of “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair,” I think you will have a winner.

7. Ace Ventura Pet Detective: The Musical – Because singing opera out of your butt is even more classy on stage then in a film.

6. Eraserhead: The Musical – Because I really want to freak the living hell out of the people who just buy season’s passes to the theatre and bore everyone by going on and on about all the show they have seen “this season” and I think it would be funny to really mess them up, and maybe drive them from the theatre forever.

5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Musical – Every song would be based on those famous 5 notes, borrow the helicopter from Miss Saigon and repaint it as a spaceship, and whammo! Perfect night at the theatre.

4. Back the the Future: The Musical – Marty McFly’s musical ability has already been established, why not just spread it throughout the whole plot. Action, adventure, singing and dancing terrorists, this one will have it all. There will not be a dry eye in the house when Marty’s dad sings “I’ve got a Flux Capacitating Heart” to Marty’s mom after saving her from Biff. And if you can get Eddie Van Halen to do the music – pure win!

3. Terminator: The Musical – What else needs to be said?

2. Silence of the Lambs: The Musical – With Anthony Hopkins already an established theatre star, he can bring in the crowds from BOTH mediums! And who wouldn’t want to see Hannibal Lecter singing such memorable tunes as “I’ll Even Wear Your Face, to Get Out of this Place” and “Ask Not for Whom the Lambs Scream, they Scream For You!” And when the chorus of animatronic sewing mannequins do a choreographed routine to “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” it will be the most riveting, explosive thing to hit the Broadway stage since the invention of jazz hands.

1. Star Wars: The Musical – I’m actually a little surprised that this one has not been done yet.

So, what about you? What films do you think should be made into Broadway musicals? Or not, depending on your point of view. Leave your ideas in the comments.

How to beat back a cold

I have a cold. I don’t get them a lot, but when I get them, they kick my ass. I have found that, for one reason or another, I can’t take any cold medication. They all mess me up in one way or another, so I just suffer through them, hoping that it will not last long.

Yesterday I decided to try something new, I was tired of waiting, so I took what I knew about natural cold remedies, and mixed them together. And then I felt better.

So, this is what you do:

Get a pot, and a couple of cups of water. Begin boiling it.
Add a couple of tablespoons of honey.
Add a shot of lemon juice.
Add five or six thin slices of fresh ginger.
Heat for 5-10 minutes.
Drink.

This will make you feel better.

Some thoughts on Indy IV

I finally saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skulls or whatever, and I was struck by a few things.

1. I found it much easier to believe the pseudo-spiritual religiosity of the first films than the pseudo-scientific babble of this film. Interdimensional beings indeed.

2. I know the characters are not realistic, but when I don’t even like Cate Blanchett in a film, there is a problem.

3. A woman seeking knowledge should not be punished with death. That’s just not cool, even if she is a Commie.

4. People trying to return treasure? Been done. Check out the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

5. I am saddened to report that I totally enjoyed both National Treasure films far more than this, and I really don’t like Nic Cage.

That is all I have to say about that.

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

I am once again amazed at just how insane the music industry is.  After walking into an actual store, and buying actual CDs, the music industry has found a way to once again spit in my face.

For my wife’s birthday I bought her a few CDs she has mentioned wanting. One evening recent she said, “Oh, we haven’t listened to the Death Cab for Cutie disk yet, let’s listen to that!” So, I unwrapped the disk and dropped it into the computer, which is how we usually listen to music. I noticed a little insert, sandwiched like a piece of salami in the cover, advertising a ringtone if you text DCFC to a certain number. “Cool,” I naively thought to myself upon reading it. “It’s nice that they give away a ringtone.” But then I noticed the little asterisk, leading me down to the bottom of the page. Actual cost for the ringtone: $3.50. For thirty seconds of music. That I have already purchased.

WTF?

I can purchase a copy of the entire song for 99 cents on the iTunes store. I am holding an actual copy of the disk in my hand, but they want me to spend another $3.50 for the ringtone? Really? This is what the music industry thinks of its customers now?

To put this into perspective, the ringtone I use is something I made. I did not write the music, or record it. No, I picked an amazing song from my favourite band, opened the MP3 in Audacity, trimmed it down, exported the part I wanted, put it on my phone, and then set it as my ringtone. Cost to me, nothing. I figured that I have purchased the album, it’s not going to hurt anyone if I make a ringtone out of it. Hell, it’s free publicity for the band. But no, some labels want you to spend just that little bit more.

Which is probably why the lables are in so much trouble these days.

Addendum: I should point out that I do not think I should get something for nothing, or that I have some RIGHT to the music in another form. I was willing to pay for the ringtone for my favourite band, up to a buck, which isn’t that mush, but I like to support them, and a buck is ok for a ringtone, I think. But they didn’t have any, so I made my own. It’s really just the fact that 30 secons of a song costs almost 4 times what the market says the whole song is worth to the consumer that I find insulting.

A Story for the Kids

The Noble Adventures of TickleiaMy son has a small doll that he has had since birth, which we call the Tickle Fairy. Since he was a teeny tiny man we would use her long, soft hair to tickle him. It was one of the first things that ever made him laugh. As part of Tarquin’s birthday celebrations I wrote up a story about her that I told him one night while trying to coax him to sleep.

I have decided to release this story as a free to download, Creative Commons PDF. I hope you enjoy it. It’s not the second coming of J.R.R., but I had fun making it, and want to share it.

A word about the photos: As part of the project I had Tarquin take the pictures of the fairy and the dragon. A few of them were taken by me, but most were his shots.

Download it here.