Sundry and various

DJD, whose poetry mentions the thousand sided dice emailed me back amid the last minute flurry of edits for a manuscript, saying ksided was ‘quite nice’.  Chipper picked a couple of very interesting words out and said ‘weehaw’, and there were many other congratulatory emails, some from people who only found out about it this weekend and some who’ve known about it from the outset.  Robof9 wants to be able to choose .ca websites.

Linked from Making Light, a poem for Neil Armstrong.  I wouldn’t have the courage to try to write a poem about that so I am glad someone else did.

A horrifying subject with a book cover to match.  Yeesh.

Neil Gaiman won another Hugo.

A poly advocacy site talks about who we are.  I’m very much following along these lines in terms of definition and emphasis.

This week is shaping up to be very busy in a lot of challenging ways.  Hopefully it will be full of work and win and not whining and whimpering.



A mad wor(l)d my masters

Snoop Dogg went to JaMAIca and came back a Rasta.  He now goes by Snoop Lion and his next album will be entirely reggae.  Tis fabulous news!  Hope he covers at least one Sublime tune…

OMG  I just spent two hours reading RADFem and Transfem blogs and the hate and bigotry are so tiresome and frightening that I went to a Men’s Rights blog for a while to help me get my bearings.

Unclear on the concept – private company tries to trademark Anonymous.

Paul’s back from Ontario, brown as a walnut and sporting a rather luxurious multicolored beard.  He poked his head in briefly last night and it was good to see him in such good spirits!  Then he had to go to work….

Eddie haz a sad.  He hates it when Jeff is gone for any length of time.

Had brekky with the lovely and everblooming Sue, and how good it was to spend some time with her.

Now, back to work.  I have learned that when you’re writing trombone lines, you need lots of places for players to take breaths, as they need more air than any other brass instrument.



Letter to the Globe and Mail published January 5 1991.

John Allemang’s recent comments on the subject notwithstanding, women who choose to breastfeed do so from the conviction that they are doing what is best for the child.  I was pregnant and/or nursing for almost five years, and I certainly got bored with it, but I never felt trapped, because it was something I chose to do, voluntarily, despite the witlessness and smug, value-laden commentaries of people like Mr. Allemang.

I never flashed my breasts in public because I failed to see how I could advance the cause of nursing by so doing.  Take a poll of real live women who nurse their children, and ask them how they feel, rather than telling us how you think they should feel.  We already know that a lot of men like looking at women’s breasts.  Please tell me something new – that we are perhaps now living in a world where a woman can discharge her responsibilities as a caring parent without getting flak for it.

His last comment about bottles bringing happiness into the world was egregious.  Tell that to a Third World mother who has lost child after child to formula mixed with contaminated water, or the mother whose child has become kendy or brain damaged due to lead-contaminated formula.

Letter to Globe and Mail published 24 November 1993

I offer my gratitude, my sense of indebtedness and my daughterly respect to all those men and women who and lived, or fought and died, so that I may enjoy freedom in Canada.  It is right and proper that those who benefit from something should acknowledge it.

However, I think that Michael Coren dishonours the dead of many wars when he says, “There have also been atrocities in war, but only a tabloid historian would argue that this was common.”

I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it is hard for me to do.  How is he defining ‘atrocity’? How is he defining ‘common’?

I think of the bombers raining death upon the children of Baghdad not so long ago, the slaughter of East Timor, the firebombing of Dresden, the siege of Leningrad, the Trail of Tears, the levelling of Coventry, the 40 million (estimated) dead of the Chinese revolution, Andersonville, the internment of the Japanese and Italians (among others), the horror of the Eastern Front, the piles of skulls in Cambodia, the napalm and chemicals of Vietnam, the children playing with severed heads in the streets of El Salvador, the starvation of the Ukraine, the open-eyed children lying in the makeshift morgues of the Balkans, the legless children in Angola, and the tons and tons of buried death chemicals all over the Wets, and enduring legacy of war that may yet rise from the ground like an unquiet ghost.

And I sorrow for these dead with at least the same intensity as I respect those who knew what high ideals they were dying for, whoever and whenever in time they may be.

Are these not atrocities? Are they not common, indeed, pervasive? Are not atrocity and war bosom companions, however we may honour those who fight on our behalf?

As of yesterday, the story, homily and song are under Homilies to the left.

I can certainly describe the golden moments.

Dennis walking straight up to the hanging mOm made and examining it. The hanging was perfect, and what made me happy was figuring out IN ADVANCE how I was going to affix it to the podium without damaging anything.

The hanging did excite comment.  It ought to, it’s gorgeous.

Working with Rowan on sound and with Sally on aesthetics (I bought creamy orange tulips, which went magnificently with the hanging and which Sally took home after the service).

Rehearsing with Tom and Peggy and Sue.  Happy sigh.

Delivering the children’s story.  It was a little more challenging than normal but every child stayed attentive, which made me happy.

Cleaning up the trash off the front lawn of the church before the service.

MIKE AND ROZO came.  They liked it! First time either of them had been to church for Easter since their teens.

Jason helping with a service for the first time.

Marge and Jim joining us at church for the first time in ages.

Ralph hugging me and telling me it was a barn burner of a service.  Ralph is 95 and I cherish a word of praise from him most highly.

Dennis, eyes watering, embracing me after the service and being almost speechless, which is going some for Dennis.

Finding out Anita will be home from hospital by now.

Performing the song.  Man, I keep forgetting how much I enJOY singing with those folks.  I wish I could do it all day every day.  Honestly.


Tarot poem

She sits with her knees apart, the II of Swords
her eyes bound, her mouth seeming both stern and sad
She is the querent; she is myself caught in the act
being torn between equal things
swords crossed on her shoulder, crescent moon in a mocking pose
the beach and rocks poking through a tranquil sea behind her.
She is of two hemispheres and thus two minds
Her garment may be white, and may be gray

and I lay upon her breast the V of Wands
contention, disagreement, a donnybrook of all against all
with no driver but youthful exuberance, perhaps stupidity

Above, the VII of Swords
the very picture of a man making a retreat he finds most opportune
He abandons a campfire and the tents of his friends
what is he, why flee, and what is there of him in me?

Comes Temperance, to pour consciousness into unconsciousness and back again
for Temperance is what must be lived to make the work happen
that work of being awake, truly aware.

The Knight of Cups offers once again allegiance, wise counsel.

And the Tower blasts me back into the present
The shock, the bitter fall, the almost-had-it.

The II of Pentacles strolls up, juggling on a clear day
full of high seas adventure and what looks like
a child’s rendering of a tsunami.

And seated in honour next his knight, the King of Cups appears
and puts his bold chin in my view, saying
listen to Temperance! Govern yourself or be governed
by the debt you need not pay to regret.

The Knight of Pentacles, so solemn, his horse so placid
bits of greenery stuck in his helm and his horse’s harness –
offers me what?  Money? Nothing but an expanse of yellow sky.

The Magician, to point out the obvious
Infinity, the secret names of things inherent

in their common atoms
the binding up of secrets and knowledge

in the faintly whispered text.


author’s note

I did a reading without asking a question, and look what happened.

a miscellany of news items

So Paul dragged me out of the house for a walk yesterday (I wore my cloak, as it was the perfect weather for it) and while we were walking up Davies Dave the Plumber and his wife tried to run us down in his truck while we cowered in fear.

Uh, no, but I can imagine somebody watching thinking that.  Dave, a devout Sikh and one of the best plumbers and pipefitters in the lower mainland, has a puckish sense of humour.  We chatted for a bit and continued on with our walk, much amused by our ‘near miss’.

When Paul and I first got this house outfitted for a gas stove, Dave did the work.  I came back from my first interview with (previous x 2 company) all bubbly and happy and then I got all sad face because when I asked how the work was coming on and both Paul and Dave with straight faces said “Terrible, it’s not working”, and then when I got testy they burst out laughing.  They had not actually prearranged this little gag so you can see why Paul and Dave were two peas in a pod.  I am thankful to know such good tradesmen, and I particularly thank him for the amazing work he did when the ‘spring’ happened in the back yard at the Augur Inn.

Paul’s on course for six weeks and has weekends off and no nights.  I’m sure he’ll enjoy that.

Jeff is still feeling crappy but he took some small amount of food yesterday.

The idiot ex has quit harassing Katie.

Keith came in to the office on Friday and we played Forbidden Island with the D-man.

I made borscht for the Sasamat soup lunch this morning.  It is FREAKING AWESOME, but I betcha I’m gonna be musical in the office tomorrow.

I have one more load of laundry to do and then all my laundry will be clean.

I told the Worship committee Easter will be my last homily for Beacon, as I am going to have a stressful 2012-13 year at church (I am taking on a much bigger role in terms of governance) and I need to reduce stressors big time.  I think King Jesus is a great topic and I’m going to be going out with a ‘bang’ so to speak.

I have decided that I am going to write a book about customer service.  mOm is going to help me with it.

I took food to Sue on Friday; her knee is ow-ie.  I asked her how the hell she’s going to be in two plays between now and the middle of May and she laughed and said that the roles require her to be in bed for most of the shows.  I thought this was a stupendous coincidence and congratulated her on what appeared to be prescience.

I have pulled so much fur off Margot in the last three days (she’s doing the spring shed) that she’s having existential angst as it appears to her I’ve pulled a Margot-equivalent of fur off her already and she doesn’t understand that she can still be here.

Well, it’s that time again.  I’m doing the coffee in church today so I won’t be upstairs listening to the service.  Tom’s friend is being memorialized this afternoon so no rehearsal for my new song to be performed in church, we’re hoping Monday night now.

If you don’t have a will please write it up now.

Mark Twain quote from a review

“What a little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words!” he offers at one point. “His real life is in his head and is known to none but himself…” If this internal monologue were to be written, he suggests, prefiguring Leopold Bloom by 20 years, “every day would make a book of eighty thousand words, three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of a man – the biography of the man himself cannot be written…”


You should all be very very VERY glad that I don’t spew it all out every day.  I think, despite my father’s glum misgivings on the subject, I’m the very soul of discretion … at least sometimes.

A plaintive plea

Please, imaginary friends, get OUT OF MY HEAD.  My most recent fanfic style scene has a water demon (Pegaiai, Peg for short)  climbing out of a toilet to get close to the boy she fancies.  Hot chicks climbing out of toilets is the opposite of sextyime.  Especially when you’ve just finished using the toilet for one of its intended purposes.

Griff makes a great recovery though.  He offers her a spare toothbrush and a shower.    Griff, so’s you know, is a great big horndog.

The job of the editor

Mario sends me this.

Thanks bud.

The article from the Guardian is entitled “The Lost Art of Editing”.

My response to it is multi.

1.  For different writers, different levels of editing.  For the writers I know personally, they either have an editor whom they trust at their publishing house (the best selling writer of upscale bodice rippers, who lives in Victoria), a series of friends whose OCD and general fannishness will sniff out discrepancies (a writer based in SF who writes fluid drenched contemporary fantasy)  or nothing but himself, as he has been self published since he stood at the corner of Yonge and College with signs around his neck reading, for example, “Mutant Stories for Complete Idiots”.  Yes, I speak of Jo Beverley, Seanan McGuire and Crad Kilodney (fuck me, but I’d LOVE to see a writing panel with those three on it, it would kick ass although it might make Crad look bad as he always was a very politically incorrect dude and I know from personal experience that Seanan is powerfully smart and her ripostes emerge letter perfect at lightning speed.  Jo is a Good Person (one of the Dunnettfolk) who’s invested heavily in learning about various historical periods and has made herself very approachable to her fans.)

Different writers need different levels of editing.  Good writers have been ignored, and feted, and ignored and persecuted and then feted after they are dead since always, and bad writers have been celebrated and feted and then consigned to the great ashcan in the sky, since we started pressing wooden letters into clay tablets.  “Damnit!  Is Inanna spelled with two ‘n’s or three?”  Some need editing for content, some for style, some for grammar, some for plagiarism, some for plot, some should be edited out of existence, and some SHOULDN’T BE EDITED AT ALL.  Small children shouldn’t be edited at all unless it’s for school. There are some occasions which call for no editing, like rap battles and poetry slamming and “I will now depart from my previously prepared remarks” and ‘the dozens’ because the writing is still ‘in the air’ and hasn’t been committed to paper. You can say that’s not writing and really another art form, but to me the only difference is that it hasn’t been written down; it’s still communication, still words.

Which audience are you writing for and why?  My blog posts are full of typos. When I catch them and they are funny, I let them stand.  When they are really bad, my readers force me to correct them.  I suppose I could publish everything I’ve printed on my blog so far (there are publishers that make it easy to do that and it would be fun and tragic and revealing to interpolate later interpretations of events) and make those necessary corrections.  But as I say in my ABOUT page, the blog is for me and my mother.  Other people have used it.  My father is appalled by my lack of modesty.  Nah, appalled isn’t the right word.  I think perplexed and troubled is kinder and more accurate.   My mother is entertained, when she isn’t troubled (by her graciously acknowledged inability to understand just what the hell it is I’m on about) and perplexed (by cultural references that she couldn’t catch even if she had the Urban Dictionary, and Wikipedia wired into a head’s up display on her glasses).

2.  For different audiences, different purposes in editing.  You don’t over edit some kinds of writing because the immediacy and urgency of it are lost in the process.  You edit the living shit out of user guides until somebody with a grade 8 education in the language you are writing in can understand what you’re doing.  Note to editors.  Number the fucking pages of your manuals, you jackassii.  Jeff and I had an interesting conversation on that line earlier this week.

3.  For different market categories, different levels of editing.  I think it’s more useful to divide all fiction writing into four categories.  Schlock, schlock with pretensions, literature and juvenilia.  (Non fiction categories: Manuals, Advertising, Propaganda, History, Science, Science with Pretensions, Transcripts of court documents, Diaries/Op-eds/commentary/blogs/tweets/reviews, How-tos, Lists and Self-help books).  Porn falls between fiction and non fiction, in my view.  (In the words of the Immortal Gord Downey:

 "How do I explain this, how do I put it into words,
It's one thing or another but it's neither this nor that")

Nearly everything I’ve ever written has been juvenilia and schlock with pretensions – even the homilies, especially the blog.  I spare only the songs and the poetry because of their emotional concision and broad applicability.  Helluva thing to say, but that’s how I feel.  How do I know? because I READ and I CARE.  Were I to actually work on another novel… which would be schlock with pretensions, since I simply don’t have a Work of Literature in me … and my mother was up for the job, I’d let her edit it because the woman is in her own quiet way a geeeeenius.

Literature is writing that irrespective of the era, gender or class of the person writing and the person reading speaks to and clearly describes some aspect of the human condition in a recognizable, non-reproducible and human voice.

That I have an extremely vivid and sophomoric writing style is no secret – but I am very much addressing my own era, class and gender when I write and I’m not thinking that’s a problem, just how it is.

Literature’s the only class of fiction writing where editing matters.  Everything else is temporary; to hold my writing to the standard of Marcus Aurelius, or the writing of Marcus Aurelius to the standard of 50 Cent’s tweets, is a classic category concept error.  Good writers will find good editors, always.  The downfall of language and writing is grossly overrated.  Writing will get better, always, because the best will always be getting better; fewer subjects will be off limits, and science will continue to inflect and bend writing into forms more beautiful, more recondite and more authentic.  Worry not folks.

Thus endeth my comments.