Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wash Day

Not a single leaf left on "Maurice", the little tree out front. He's only three years old so still a bit fragile. Big blue sky today... and sun!!!!!! (yay), and a bit of a breeze (double yay, 'cause I just hung out two lines full in the back yard).

Tonight's Halloween. I wore my alien mask when I went to walk the neighbor's dog this morning. It did not fool him; he knew me immediately.

Title of a song by Sylvain Lelievre ... "J'ai perdu trop de temps" ... Time ... again, always that obsession with time--time past, the now times, the time left. Thinking in linear instead of connecting the pieces to form a whole.

When you figure out what Time is, let me know.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whistleblower to Tell All

Watch Your Back, Sibel

Always a bit dangerous, when a whistleblower starts to "tell all". Two sides to this: those who worry that she'll be "Wellstoned", and those who question the announcement itself.
[See Comment #40 at bottom of article on Brad's Blog.]

At any rate, it's getting harder and harder for whistleblowers to get their message out. What's the first response: Discredit them, then fire them, or kill the messenger, whatever it takes, so that the message is not brought to light, or worse, believed, and even worse than that, investigated. Anyone remember Bunnatine Greenhouse? Did anything really change vis-a-vis contracts because of that investigation? Anyone ever do a comprehensive follow-up?

Will be watching this with some interest. Will she be given a public forum to tell all? Name names? What's going to be the final outcome? Inquiring minds, stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

18e Nuit sans Abri

Spend a Night with the Homeless

It's a cloudy, windy day here in Quebec and this week 22 towns and cities across Quebec are inviting you to spend a night with the homeless--you know, those people who sleep outdoors all year round in cardboard boxes, on park benches or in alleyways or find themselves crammed in among dozens of others in a homeless shelter and told they have to get out during the day, the space is only available at night time.

Similar annual gatherings, called "Night without a Home" are also being conducted by communities in the US and other parts of Canada, to call attention to homelessness and poverty and lack of affordable housing, and to the "down-and-outs" among us who struggle daily just to get something to eat and a place to sleep. Their number is increasing. What's that old saying, "Don't criticize someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes". Try walking around all day searching for food or work or a place to lay your head at night, lugging your entire life possessions in a plastic garbage bag or backpack. The scary thing is, it could happen to anyone.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lampreys Strike Back!

I'm passing along the press release for a new book I just read. Stephen King, move over, you got some competition!


Burlington, VT. October 2007

The ongoing efforts to control the lamprey infestation in Lake Champlain undergo a spectacular setback in the new novel by Burlington author Peter K.K. Williams. In Clamp, the residents of a lakeside village are subjected to terrifying attacks by swarms of mutant, flesh-eating lampreys. Along with the invasion of these horrifying predators, Clamp provides a humorous view of the quirky characters inhabiting a Vermont village, a group that includes summer and year-round residents, guests at an exclusive resort, dairymen, a homeless tramp, a Loch Ness search team seeking Champ (Nessie’s long-lost cousin), and a local rock band.

Peter K.K. Williams has been living near the shores of Lake Champlain for more than two decades, observing and painting its many moods. The Kieron Press is soon to publish Mr. Williams’ second book, GigsAn American Rock n Roll Odyssey.

Copies of Clamp may be ordered online at or at

Mr. Williams can be contacted at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Word Play

The Washington Post published a contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for various words. Here are the winners:

1. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
2. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
3. Bustard (n.), a rude bus driver.
4. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
5. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

6. Dopeler effect (n.), The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when theycome at you rapidly.
7. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
8. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over byby a steamroller.
10. Foreploy (n.), Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.

11. Frisbatarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there.
12. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavoured mouthwash.
13. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
14. Glibido (n.), All talk and no action.
15. Hipatitis (n.), Terminal coolness.

16. Ignoranus (n.), A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
17. Inoculatte (n.), To take coffee intravenously.
18. Inspissator (n.), one who inspires covert micturation.
19. Intaxication (n.), Euphoria at receiving a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money
to start with.

20. Karmageddon (n.), It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then,
like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

21. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
22. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie.
23. Osteopornosis (n.), A degenerate disease.
24. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.
25. Pokemon (n.), a Rastafarian proctologist.

26. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediatelybefore he
examines you.

26. Reintarnation (n.), Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
27. Sarchasm (n.), The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the reader who doesn't get it.
28. Semantics (n.), pranks conducted by young men studying for the priesthood.
29. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
30. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monuments and Invisibility

A friend of mine writing a book on the Battle of Quebec of 1759 went this past weekend to revisit the Plains of Abraham and found himself standing, in the rain, on the exact spot where General Montecalm had been mortally wounded over two centuries ago. My friend watched a footrace currently in progress and the runners finished 5 meters from this historic spot, whose significance seemed completely forgotten in the excitement of the race. I got to thinking about casual passersby encountering physical monuments scattered about the world from Boston to Barcelona, Quebec to Ireland, Greece to Jerusalem ... plain concrete markers on modern sidewalks next to a bank or park or pub, brass plaques on the side of a commercial building, signs posted to indicate the location of someone's demise. People walk by them every day, maybe stop and lean against them, even deposit their soda cans there. Monuments to important historical moments amidst the urban sprawl.

There are markers for victims of violence and tragic traffic accidents and bombing events, temporary drop-off points where people can express their grief and outrage, deposit flowers, leave written messages. Public markers to commemorate the passage from Life to Death, besides commemorating a specific event, also remind us that whether we're important or invisible, the Grim Reaper gets us all eventually.

My grandmother gave birth to ten children; seven survived. One day I climbed the hill on the side of a mountain to the old church cemetery to look at their graves: my grandmother, grandfather and the three dead infants who never made it. The stones were so faded with age I could not make out the dates. What do tombstones usually say: Here Lies So and So. Born (gives date), Died (gives date). People even do this sometimes for beloved pets. Cemetery markers celebrate a person's entire lifespan, not just one event.

What got me thinking of death markers (because that's what they are, markers commemorating someone's last day on earth) was all the millions of people who die every year who are not accorded this respectful remembrance, like flood and earthquake victims or mass casualties from a war. Bloodstains on a sidewalk can be washed away; memories of one's last heroic or horrific end cannot. They will return, again and again, to inspire--or haunt--those of us who remain.

To all the Invisibles, for whom no physical marker exists, may you be remembered, for as long as possible, in this fickle and war-torn world.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Which Way to Go ....

The darker places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.

-- Dante

Started on the third novel this morning. My first novel lies in a drawer, unwritten except for the outline, a list of characters, and a clumsily constructed first chapter. The second novel remains in preliminary draft only, a psychological mind-twister with a hidden agenda. All of them have a "story", primary and peripheral characters; none as yet has a title. A funny thing--some of my characters are more persistent than others, in wanting to get their story out. Last month it was Will, the protagonist from the fist novel. I think he felt I was going to abandon the project entirely and so he suggested a new tack, one I'm not entirely comfortable with because it's a controversial subject. This week the persistent voice is from Allie, the young girl from the third novel-in-progress. She feeds me info at night just before I'm about to drop off to sleep, and in the wee hours of the morning, just as I'm waking up. "Remember to write this down," an inaudible voice reminds me. "Here's a little vignette you must include," nudges another voice. Whether these sudden thoughts originate from the fictional characters I have created or are just my subconscious prodding me to stop procrastinating and get to work, I have no idea. But apparently it's working. I'm setting up a writing schedule, to which I intend to adhere no matter what.

In all three stories I have a beginning and an end. It's the middle I'm having trouble with, going from one vignette to another (it's called plot, silly!). This third one's going to require some research. It takes place in Florida, a place I've never had the slightest desire to visit and about which I know very little--except that it's hot, a lot of old people go there to retire, and annoying little insects are prone to populate the premises. I need to talk to someone who actually lives there to get specifics.

I just read two "thrillers", front to back, in a matter of days. I seemed not to be able to put them down. They were full of action scenes and tantalizing intrigues that kept me glued to the page, as it were. And yet I'm not keeping them as permanent residents on my bookshelves. They satisfied momentarily, but are not Keepers. These are not the type of books I want to write. They're a dime a dozen. Interesting, entertaining, the visual equivalent of watching a movie through words. I feel compelled to write a different kind of fiction ... something that would make someone want to keep the book. For that, the book has to resonate in a deeper fashion. I'm torn between wanting to have a character-driven book expressing universal dilemmas ... or an Orwellian allegory describing current disturbing political events. Something tells me this will entail a whole other project.... Novel No. 4?!! Is it possible to work on writing four books at once?! Maybe I should shorten them and place them, along with my other short stories, into a collection--which, I'm told, is infinitely harder to get published. What do you think? Any fellow writers out there ... I'm open to suggestions!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Word for the Day

Etoufant [ay-too-
fahn]. French adjective meaning stifling, stuffy, sultry, airless. Like being in a setting from which you cannot escape; the walls are closing in on you, and all you can think of is, "Where's the Exit?!"