Sunday, March 8, 2015

Delightful Days, Double Features and Dumb Decisions

The word of the week is resolute.

March 2 – Say what?

It was too good to be true.

For one brief night of glory, our writing group last week was treated to the luxury of meeting at the Ground Control Café, housed in the Tectoria building downtown.

This week, when he tried to meet, we were told that the space was in use and that we have to go elsewhere for the evening. Frustrating, but then that's the life of a Meetup group: when you don't pay for your facilities, you have to take the lumps when those facilities are in use by those who do.

I think that's probably the reason that the Elks Lodges got started in America back in the 1800’s.


Unfortunately, word came down that until a final decision is made by the higher-ups at Tectoria, the Victoria Creative Writing Group will not be allowed to use the facilities at Tectoria to meet. There's no timeframe on that word coming down either, though I expect it will be a few weeks at most.

Until then, we're back to meeting at the spacious-yet-loud Atrium, replete with its back-breaking seats and the random company of the general public using it at the same time as our stalwart band. Definitely no comparison to the amazing accommodations available at Tectoria…

We were so close to paradise, only to have the doors locked in our faces this week. Sigh.


March 3 - Why I Love Canada

Here’s a story that personifies honesty, a trait close to my heart.

This week in Toronto, a business closed up for the day but the employee forgot to do three things: lock the door, set the alarm or put the Closed sign up.

Normally, this would be a recipe for theft and an unhappy ending to the story.

Thankfully, we’re in Canada.

The security camera at the door recorded no less than five customers entering the store after business hours, looking understandably confused when nobody appeared to serve them. Four of the customers left again, empty-handed, honest folks that would be back the next day.


The fifth customer popped behind the counter to rifle through something: the store’s address book. The customer, unable to find the owner’s phone number, took the time to change the store sign to ‘Closed’ before leaving and contacting police to let them know that the store was unlocked and vulnerable. The police contacted the store owners, who arrived to find not a single thing had gone missing in the hours since the last employee mistakenly left the business unlocked.

Being an honest person myself, I'm heartened by this story, glad to see that there are so many honest people still out there and that an honest mistake wasn't repaid by disaster.

I'll never get tired of hearing about things like this.


March 4 – 80’s Fantasy Films!

It’s nostalgia time! Or fantasy time. Or both.

Growing up in the 1980s was fantastic for me, in the literal sense of the word, given all the amazing films that hit the silver screen during that decade. Ones that jump immediately to mind are The Dark Crystal, Krull and yes, even Star Wars( the later two films ) all of which helped shape me firmly into the g33k I am today. Which I'm pretty happy about.

Fantasy films are just that: complete breakaways from our normal reality, escapes if you will, that allow us to indulge our imaginations to the fullest and the company heroes on adventures in worlds totally apart from our own.


There was a great list this week over at Tor.com, ranking all of the 1980s fantasy films. I was pleased to see that I've seen every single one of them( except number 18 ), some of the more than once. I also agree with the rankings, for the most part, though I would toss a few up or down the list based on my personal preferences.

The list also got me thinking about listing the great fantasy films of the 1990s and 2000s, but strangely none really come to mind. Maybe I'll have to think about it a little bit more this week, but it's comforting to know that many other people feel the same way that I do: the 1908’s were the best time for fantasy on the silver screen.

Perhaps a Dark Crystal re-watch is in order! 


March 5 – Meals and Me

Food and I aren’t fancy friends.

Neither are we fashionable fellows. While I like a good meal, I often begrudge myself the time needed to fix up one for myself or a few folks, something that’s been a bugaboo to me over the years. Hence my rather basic cooking skills and a lack of desire to putter about in a kitchen.

It’s been good for the restaurants around where I’ve resided, however.

Now that I’ve freed up more time by having just one job with regular hours Monday to Friday, I find myself reluctant to give up a portion( ahem )of that time to improve my cooking skills.


Weird, eh?

I think what symbolizes this lack is a book that's been in my possession since moving here to BC in 2007: Cook With Jamie, by none other than the masterful chef Jamie Oliver. It was my intent after purchasing the rather thick tome to work my way through this book, recipe by recipe, to build up my basic skills to the point where I would have a working knowledge of how not to embarrass myself in the kitchen. As it stands, I pulled out the book every few months, read through it and then put it back on the shelf with the firm intent to Do Something with it.

Maybe once my trilogy’s done, I’ll wrote a cookbook: Cooking For Procrastinators.

Ask me about it in a few years.


March 6 – Double Feature

Two brilliant animated films for the price of none? Bring it on!

With every other Friday shaping up to be a Fun Fest with a Friend for the foreseeable future( FFwaFFFF? )I was looking forward to tonight: two film’s I’ve not yet seen, astonishingly enough. The pair of them were on the menu tonight for their visual aesthetics more than anything else.


First up was The Prince Of Egypt, hailing from the early era of animated CGI films: it led the way in many areas, with stunning visual effects well-suited to its epic storyline. The voice cast was top-tier as well, with the likes of Natalie Portman, Danny Glover and Val Kilmer, among others. Watching it, with such a familiar story, I thought the film jumped its pace a few times, especially towards the end, when things just sort of fizzled out… there wasn’t really an end, in my opinion. Just a setup for ‘Moses: The Ten Commandments’ if you follow my drift. Still: my eyes loved it!



The second film was The Road to El Dorado, which was a visual treat. Bright colours interspersed with groundbreaking( at the time )CGI animation made it a delight for the eyes and the soundtrack, courtesy of the team that made The Lion King, was far above par as well. The story, well… in the producer’s own words, it was about the two sidekicks having an adventure, which doesn’t say much about having much to say. It was a feel-good buddy film and knowing that, I enjoyed it more than I though I would – the visuals carried me along in the parts where the story fell flat.

When I’m watching films such as these, I can’t quite manage to turn off my inner writer who cringes at the really soggy spots in the film. I’m well aware that any major motion picture making it to the theater is a minor miracle every time it happens, given the hurdles they have to leap time and again during production. Millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work are poured into every film that we see released, the product of years of labour and love.

Yet the inner writer says: can’t you make it just a little better here? And there? And… I guess that’s why it’s so easy to be a critic, rather than a creative type.


March 7 – Want My Advice?

The weather outside’s delightful…

I'm walking quite a lot lately, partially to make up for not riding my bike nearly as much in the last few months( no need to, as I’m working so close to home ). Days like today are a delight for the pedestrian, with the warm temperatures and sunshine lending themselves to shirtsleeves in the afternoons. Note that this was the first really lovely day in a while, as such things go here.

Sitting on a patio with a fellow writer, I found myself in a quandary, of a sudden.
Having been asked to coffee by a younger writer, after a few minutes I was struck by the realization that the fellow was asking my advice on a number of things, not all of them writing-related. As someone who is careful about the advice I take myself, I of a sudden had to step back mentally and take stock. Who was I to advise this earnest young man in his 20’s?

The answer that flew back to the forefront from somewhere inside my head was: speak from experience and relate, then don’t babble about it. Listen, but don’t spin it into being about you.

He’s the one asking for advice.


In the end, I spent a few hours on the patio, chatting about writing and life and choices and in the end, feeling like it’d been mostly worthwhile. While I can’t pretend that I made a huge impression on the other guy, I think that he listened to most of what I had to say and took what he needed from it. It was an odd feeling, being ‘interrogated’ for my experience, especially as I recognized the same lines of questioning that I’d employed myself, here and there, with others over the years.

I don't take myself for granted, nor do I speak lately to others about important matters when they ask. I tend to listen far more often than I reply, as I make a good sounding board for people to souse out their own answers from their mixed questions that tend to bubble out. Whatever it is about me that gets people to talk, I try my hardest to make what I say meaningful to them.

Hopefully someone will answer a few of my questions like that, some day. For now, I’ll just keep on listening and racking up experience, until my next level.


March 8 – Squishy Under The Sun

Today went by fairly quickly, but a lot was accomplished.

Being another sunny day, I spent a few hours on the patio down at Moka House, concentrating on writing up edits for my second book while tuning out the chatter around me. I was out mainly for the bright sunshine, as last night I'd had trouble staying awake and had dozed off more than a few times during the evening which was unusual for me.

For whatever reason, I think my brain needed a break.


It's funny: I'm getting into the weekend routine now, where I think I have all the time I need waking up Saturday morning and then by Sunday afternoon I realize that I still have a few more things to do than I have time for. I always budget at least three hours in the evening to do my blog, which may or may not take as long as that; sometimes less, sometimes more depending on what I'm writing and how long it takes me to tidy up with the visuals and so forth.

I'm still pretty lucky, in that my time is my own to do with as I please, for the most part. Sure, I have to get the mundane things done on a regular basis like groceries or laundry or cleaning( or even cooking )but overall, my weekends are pretty clear right now.

I intend for them to stay that way, for most of 2015.

Committing as I have to the VCWG, my Monday nights are pretty much spoken for. Of the rest of the week, the occasional Tuesday sees me at a movie, or a Thursday playing a boardgame with friends – this past Thursday, I had a rousing game of Risk with friends at the Integrity Café, which ended in a 3-way draw due to time running out. I think we all did well, considering none of us have played before - go figure.

Makes me wonder what everyone else is going to be up to this spring.

Anyone?


Argh. The weather’s shifting again and the barometer’s plunging, meaning my head’s decided to require medicating more than usual. Should make for an interesting week… though I expect things to settle down from here on in, with my concentration on ramping up work on Book 2 in favour of most other activities.