Thursday, April 21, 2011

Old Wives' Tales

* If you still get pimples after 30, you have the skills to build a lawnmower.

* If you're renting a new apartment and the previous tenant is a friend of someone you've seen before but haven't introduced yourself to, you'll eventually break a mirror.

* The best way to cure a broken arm is to start running everywhere you would normally walk to even if you're not in a hurry.

* You will give birth to octuplets if you won a surfboard in a Pepsi under the cap contest.

* A nine-year-old girl can cure chicken pox by trying to drive her parents' vehicle.

* The way to make leaves bloom early in the spring is to start smoking (19th-century logic)

* If you slightly burn yourself on a hot frying pan, an attractive older woman will smile at you someday.

* The best way to find a great new pair of sweatpants is to start pronouncing your "r"s as "w"s. (such as Wingo Staww)

* If you enjoy telling white lies, one day while singing karaoke you'll be ridiculed so badly by a group of teenagers that you'll want to be a teenager. And if you already are a teenager, you'll want to be friends with the teenagers ridiculing you.

Whispering and still, the wives wove the superstitions that we hold close. (but not really)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is what I look like. There aren't any photos on this website demonstrating that. I honestly don't want to post too many photos of my face or me in general because it gives me a feeling of self-absorption, but one can't hurt.

There are times when writing reminds me of how as children we would place one hand or fist on top of one another to see who would go first in a playground game, like Four Square or Mr. Wolf.

I was nineteen and twenty years old when I wrote Disassociation and I had it published when I was twenty-one. And since then, the range of people's reactions has been fascinating - from people who absolutely don't care to people who want a copy strictly for the purpose of selling it on eBay in the future.

And through it all it always feels like there's a sense of intimidation (an oft-cited word nowadays, like intense and confident - I wonder why that is) that's carried with me whenever the subject's brought up. It feels like because I wrote it, there's a level of expectation that people attach to me and it never feels like I'm fulfilling it. Expectations like having an unmatchably quick wit, having incredible stories at my fingertips to tell whenever I like, of looking into my eyes and seeing innumerable points of wisdom, having a certain swagger, a je ne sais quoi. That certain something that just draws people towards you...which I don't believe in and never will.

Once when I was volunteering in a rest home an elderly woman said "Your eyes, they seem to have so much in them...".

But then again, when I was volunteering in a different rest home I walked by an old man who looked at me and kept saying "It's all your fault. It's all your fault."

What I feel I've cultivated with publishing Disassociation is intimidation...and jealousy, which is what I never wanted to follow me. This is why I don't immediately bring it up in conversation - I've noticed how it creates a barrier between people. I can't have any more barriers, but at the same time I don't want my writing life to become a secret identity. This is yet another dichotomy in my life that I've had to contend with.

There's no doubt that the novel is juvenilia, which people generally don't want to read. I don't take offense to people who say they'll buy the book or read the book and then don't - I have my reservations about empty pleasantries but they're par for the course in our society. Even the title itself is challenging - the word 'disassociation' exists but it isn't normally used, the word 'dissociation' is used. I like the challenge of the title, but people could easily see it as a huge spelling error when it wasn't meant to be.

And I've changed since publishing it. I've greatly changed from being a teenager. But I haven't changed drastically.

The life I live has always been lonely, and writing feels like it only increases that pressure. Where the girl whom I'm in love with and is two years younger than I am thinks I'm too sophisticated for her. Where writers are expected to be lonely in order to continually create. I've had to fend off the ugly premonition that I've been alone for so long, I've become too used to being alone.

And people might think I'm revealing my weaknesses, and therefore can't be an artist of any worthwhile measure as a result - with the word 'artist' not conforming to the higher-status platform that others use it for. But this is real.

One of my flaws is that I dwell on the negative too much, and this post reveals that. I've had a lot of support from a lot of people in my life as well. I won't lie, I need people's support in order to maintain my work ethic and drive. Even though I've had to depend on my own resolve a lot more than others, I can't say that all I need is myself. I don't find that healthy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rumination on Television

"IT ROTS THE IMAGINATION DEAD" - lyric from an Oompa Loompa song about Mike Teavee's obsession with television, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

"Television is the opiate of the masses." - Bill Watterson spoof on Karl Marx's famous saying "Religion is the opiate of the masses."

But this is not a rant. None of these posts will ever be rants.

I don't watch TV anymore. Of course I used to until I was about nineteen, but I never set aside a certain amount of time to watch TV except for The Simpsons on Sunday evenings. Then I pretty much stopped because I didn't get cable and the two channels available were fuzzy. When I moved out by myself a year later it was the same deal.

When I was twenty-two I moved into a place with free cable. I watched a couple episodes of Friends and then unplugged the cable, gave it to my landlord, and said I didn't want it in my place because it was distracting.

A year ago when I was working in a bread factory I told a kid I knew, a co-worker, that I didn't watch television and he responded, "So what do you watch when you're high?" I don't get high any more, so I didn't have an answer.

I still think there's value in some television programs, but not for the majority of it. Shows which aren't a variation of philosopher Robert Nozick's Pleasure Machine Thought Experiment, wherein cables are inserted into a person's brain and stimulate the person's neural activity to do nothing but receive pleasure, essentially making the person immobile and lifeless save for the continual feelings of pleasure.

That's not the kind of life anyone sane would want to live...
...and that's not how I view television.

The reason why I stopped watching television is simply because I felt I didn't have time for it any longer. I know for a fact that wanting to create effective literature is not an easy task. It takes a lot of consideration, research and development of style. It's a different discipline than a lot of other facets of life. I stil watch movies, and clips of older TV shows on Youtube. I have a few DVDs of TV shows I liked. I don't watch them that much any longer, but I still have them.

And sometimes I think I should keep watching television due to how it's a meter for current times. But then again the internet can serve as the same.

I can't really imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn't watched television when I was younger. If my parents hadn't let me watch TV at all. I don't know exactly who I'd be - I'd look the same (presumably) but it seems logical that I hypothetically wouldn't be as "in tune" with the rest of the world.

By in tune I mean, for all the years that I abstained from watching TV while my peers did...and going through the motions of dying to watch it in order to fit in as a child, and eventually accepting how I didn't need it, and then becoming very critical of seems that I would be more wary and cynical about developed world culture than I am now. But that's only my initial, unresearched opinion. (And this isn't 'concrete' as William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White would say)

I asked a friend of mine once if he would give up buying a brand-new TV in order to donate the money to an underdeveloped nation and he said no. But before you think my friend is evil, countless other people all over the world have responded the same way, just not out loud.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Libyan Protest Rally - Toronto, March 2011

I attended a Libyan protest rally in Dundas Square here in Toronto a couple weeks back and shot the above photos.

For the most part, I'm not heavily aware of politics around the world. But I'm half-Libyan and I felt it was necessary to show my support for a new Libyan government from all the backlash I've heard about Gaddafi's regime.

The rally itself was for the most part well-controlled. There was no disparagement of North America or Jewish people, as some might expect from any Arabic protest. Any political uprising can never be effective if it promotes narrow-minded thinking and I would've left if that had been the case.

The two problems with the protest were that for one thing, some of the chants were trite (for example "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Gaddafi has to go"). Since that formula has been used so many times over it becomes clich├ęd and can be ridiculed easily. But there were also direct and powerful chants that I chanted along with.

The second problem was that there was a St. Patrick's Day Parade marching across Dundas St. People were watching the parade and simultaneously watching all of us show our support for a new Libyan government and it felt incongruous to me. It was beneficial because the rally was noticed by more civilians, reporters and photographers. But even so, it felt like we were impeding on the festive time people were expecting of the afternoon.

I also noticed two members of the actual parade try and mock the rally. One started to pretend to dance along to our chanting. Another started shouting "Gaddafi is a legend" and some older men in the rally turned their thumbs down at him. These were actual members of the St. Patrick's Day parade, acting like that...but that's what can be expected. Mockery in the face of rallying for peace, from anyone.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just a reminder

1) That V. Which

- "The car that I was driving got a flat tire."
- "My son's car, which I was driving, got a flat tire."

- The distinction between restrictive and nonrestrictive adjective clauses affects the choice between that and which. In nonrestrictive adjective clauses, which is nearly always used now instead of that.

- Use only that in restrictive adjective clauses...we distinguish restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses in writing by putting commas around the nonrestrictive ones.

2) Lie V. Lay

- Rule of thumb: You lie around, but you lay something down.

Lie - conjugation:

Present tense: lie/lies
Past tense: lay
Past participle: lain
Present participle: lying

Lay = conjugation:

Present tense: lay/lays
Past tense: laid
Past participle: laid
Present participle: laying

- The past tense of lie and the present tense of lay are the same thing (i.e. lay)...this can create a lot of confusion.

Source: The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage, 2005.