Thursday, February 25, 2010

Humble Beginnings.

If I don't do this post now, I'll regret it later. Some of my favourite books from nine to eleven years old in descending order.

The Secret World of Og, Pierre Berton. A Canadian milestone.



Zoom Upstream and Mischief City, both by Tim Wynne-Jones, another Canadian writer. I also enjoyed The Metallic Sparrow and The Outlaw League by Lance Woolaver though I couldn't find photos of either. I met all three writers when I was younger, Berton at school and Wynne-Jones and Woolaver at a young writers' fair...


Batman: Knightfall, Dennis O'Neil. I haven't read this book in some time, but when I first read it at ten years old it stunned me with its writing style.


Star Trek: Vendetta, Peter David. I was never a stranger to pop culture back then, a marked change from now. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? But to each their own. Like Knightfall this book was also infused with style when I first read it. I always liked The Next Generation but never really got into any of the other series.


The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson. Who didn't? Garfield, the Far Side, early FoxTrot, Peanuts and Beetle Bailey as well. All eye-opening cartoons on different levels of wit and content.


When I was eleven I read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. Although Harper Lee's style was advanced I still read through it. I didn't read too many great literature novels because I didn't feel like I was ready to understand them, to put as much time into them as they needed...but I still read this book - with that same cover as well.
Just a few out of countless others...books I can only remember the contents of, not the titles...books I don't want to share to the public...the ones I read when I was younger that I can't find the right images for...and so on.
Trips down memory lane, of reading alone, reading at dinner, some of the books still carrying stains from the food I dropped on them.
The last book I read was Thomas More's Utopia.
Thanks for the Og picture and enjoying my site, Laura. Her site's here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

If there's one image I try to remove from my mind it's one of me 'blogging up a storm.' I never liked the word 'blog' from the first moment I heard it - it's another example of ugly portmanteau words that are supposed to reflect modern times. A couple of years ago I read an article in a prominent Canadian newspaper (I can't remember which one) that had suggestions of new words for the 21st century. I can't remember any of the words either - but trust me when I say that none of them looked/sounded like anything I'd add to my personal lexicon. Sometimes I like to joke around and say that the new English words of the 21st century will be found in captchas...but I'm sure that's already been done in the past, with an author wise in computers who used a program to generate as many random words as possible, then attached different meanings to them and tried to write a book out of it all. But successfully achieving a task like that seems like the rarest accomplishment in literature - id est Finnegan's Wake, and Joyce had no idea of computers or their eventual impact on the world, which I'm sure has been expounded on elsewhere.

And while I'm on the topic of words, why am I finding the word 'interesting' being used so frequently nowadays? I take umbrage at it. But since language is excessive and pseudo-intellectual, why bother worrying? Whatever works, works - keep it going.
First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the woman.

And as much as I hate to expose one of my favourite bands, a fault of mine where I want to keep what's lesser known and amazing to myself so it doesn't get overexposed (is it a fault? They'd want the exposure - I guess it's a symptom of youth, keeping secrets)... this is The Sea and Cake. Oui is one of the best albums I've ever listened to, as well as The Fawn and Everybody. Sometimes I feel like writing about how literature and music are wrapped around one another. Until then...

Thursday, February 18, 2010



I was in the midst of creating a larger post but I'm exhausted. So instead I'm sharing a video/song I was first exposed to when I was eleven or so, which still stuck with me. The song's name was in the back of my mind for years, like some others. It's on my mp3 player but I very rarely listen to it. I can still appreciate some of the video's imagery. And this is the only song I know by her.

Yes, this is embarrassing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"You figure it out, I can't." "I'm only the middleman." "I don't know what's going on."

I've heard it before. Each sentence in the title is from a different cartoonist, painter and photographer respectively. Is it the calling card of the real, successful artist?

Is it pointless to try and explain any artistic endeavour?

If it doesn't make dollars it doesn't make sense, some say. In the case of art this has long been the exception to the rule in most instances, maybe because people believe it has to be the exception...but even the word 'art' makes people renounce its definition in full due to its ubiquitousness...

It's funny how in an essay I read by Flannery O'Connor, she mentions how a lot of good writers she knows paint - not because they're exceptionally good but because they use it as a way of 'seeing'. I've been painting on and off (on a canvas and easel) since I was nine. I still remember how surprised I was on my tenth birthday when...well, why should I share that story here. I paint, but it's not often. It's more often than when I drink caffeine though, which is about three to four times a year.

I've never known because I''ve never been given the chance.

In recent e-mails with my Creative Writing professor Michael Helm he was kind enough to give me words of encouragement, saying that (this is non-verbatim) the development of my writing and the amount of work that I've created shows that I will (well, can) be an author in the future. I hope so, before loneliness and its comates destroy me. I've been through bizarre instances with the release of my work to the public, shallowness and ridicule, but once in awhile I receive a boost of morale and it means a lot. Professor Helm is a novelist whose work is widely respected - you can find it here at mclelland.com as well as in bookstores.

"Writing only leads to more writing" is a quote by the female French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, more widely known just as Colette. And while this is a famous quote, a piece of advice that she gave to Georges Simenon - "Now take out the poetry" - is one that looms more heavily in my mind. Also the fact that she passed away at eighty-one years of age (maybe this is narrowminded but I find that a lot of authors seem to live very long - recently JD Salinger and P.K. Page passed away and they were both in their early nineties. Rest In Peace).

Socrates denounced writing - he saw writing anything down as detrimental to the human memory and instead preferred to try and remember everything, functioning solely on speech. When I heard this my first thoughts were of personal humiliation, how it was just another block in the enjoyment I got out of my work (by block I mean obstacle - although I like the ambiguousness of the word in this instance).
I don't see Socrates' views as a continual source of humiliation though - the times he lived in were obviously much simpler. But to me, his views connect to the way people see the Internet as a source of creating decreased attention spans, like the way people saw TV when it came out. We should not - and this includes writers - try and prey on people's fears and potential worriments.
I don't and never did believe that if I watch videos on Youtube and write on my website, it's not going to allow me to concentrate on a book or my own personal work. There's an overflow of instability when it comes to someone's development and potential for a sound mind.
I'm not saying I'm completely enlightened. There are negative thoughts I have that stick with me. How I could only be seen as an experiment for study in the arts...how it's so easy to fail but so hard to succeed...how people including myself always want to hear the truth, just not about their own lives...how I place too much happiness in material goods (I'm halfway to buying a BMW - factory earnings), et al. But through all these blocks and many others I've never underestimated my ability to achieve my goals...

I wanted to have the next book I'm writing (I've only shared its name once) to have been done at my current age. And now I don't see it being finished for four years at least. There's a myriad of reasons why - I've got 650 pages of rough material to sort through (which is only ideas and structure, not drafts), I've got school and work (which is the weakest reason), I don't have a girlfriend (which many others would see as the weakest reason but I see as the strongest), and most surprisingly I find that some of the work has less meaning than in the past three years.
Not less meaning in terms of how important it is, but in terms of how I want to present it. This relates to Colette's advice that I wrote of earlier - the way that I present the work has been going through changes. Not radical changes (except in the case of one story and how postmodernism can enhance its content) but changes in how the work relates to the rest of literature and the world as a whole. Education is slowing my progress, ironic (and trite, and maybe eventually naïve?) as it sounds, with countless points of inspiration and imagination being found in common pathways to life I've never been able to explore yet.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Observatory Crest.



It's a great song except for the last 20 seconds, which I'm not even sure belong to the song. The video doesn't do it justice (the whole video in itself is bizarre but it was the only one I could find with an entire version of the song), but some of the imagery is fitting.



I've been wanting to watch this movie for years and I finally did today. I didn't know much about the plot - all I had to go on was the poster image and the fact that Neil Jordan directed it.
So I watched it and all I can basically say is that it's chaotic. Eamonn Owens is now the best young actor in my mind (or was, since the film was released in '97). I don't know much about acting but his performance is top-notch. The blend of drama and dark comedy seemed uneven to me at times but I'm still glad I watched this film at last.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Any guy would do this thing for me...why can't you.



When I was 19 back in the spring of 2005 and traveling by myself I discovered Dinosaur Jr's Where You Been album for the first time. It was in a small hotel room in Ottawa that had cable - I changed the channel and the music video for Start Choppin' was playing (a rare video in itself). I still remember Mike Johnson's vacant face staring into nothing. The next day I went and found the album in a used CD store. It became one of my favourites to this day.

Not The Same has since turned into my most beloved track on the album, with Drawerings a close second. The journalist who thought J. ruined Not The Same with his voice had it all wrong. When I first heard that people thought J.'s voice ruined Dinosaur Jr's songs it gave me pause(just like Stevie Nicks' voice, they say)...but I found that despite their claims, the songs didn't lose any of their appeal and depth.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Mcenroe is the maestrosity (for a second I was foolish enough to think that I had perhaps invented that word )behind Peanuts and Corn records. Some of the music he's engineered has been brobdingnagian in its quality. It just never gets old. I recently ordered a stack of instrumental CDs from the site and got an e-mail from him. Check their website here.

Sickles and Hammers.

video

There's a lot of things I could say about this video...the way skateboarding's been maligned in pop culture...how this side of my life could cause a lot of people to instantly negate my credibility/potential as an author based on skateboarding's 'young and dumb' rep...the quality of the skating itself (it's not the best I've got - after skating street for nine years I only started to skate transition back in the summer. Plus I've only been filmed three times in said nine years, this being one of those times. It's hard when you don't have any friends that skate because there's a lot of motivation that's missing. I've been trying to skate the vert ramp at CJs park here in Toronto. I wanted to get a clip of that but the park's far away and I haven't had time). There's really not much more I want to say about it, because I don't think it's necessary. I don't mean that pessimistically - I mean it pragmatically. Skateboarding's always been fun. That's all I have to say...

P.S. I don't know why it becomes unavailable after a period of time. I had to republish it in order for the video to work again. And apparently still have to...