For you, the dress code is casual.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dreaming of summer

It's New Year's Eve day, and I'm sick. I've been ill since Christmas day, my first real illness in about two years, and I've decided to stay in this evening.

There's an American Chopper marathon on Discovery Channel, and since I've nothing better to do, I'm watching it.

I want to get up at the crack of dawn on a warm spring morning, hop on my scooter, and go for a long ride out in the country. I want it so fucking bad, it hurts. I can almost smell the fragrance of spring flowers, that warm mossy scent you get after the first seasonal night, the moisture from the dew...

And all I've got instead is about three or four more months of rain and dreariness.

This morning, however, I noticed that it was light before eight a.m. for the first time this month, and that also gave me a little something to smile about.

One of the hardships about living in this part of the world is the winters. They're not that cold, but they are dark, dreary, and very, very monotonous. It's difficult to have that joie de vivre that's so easy to have in the summer. Vancouver in the sun is something to behold, my god, I love this city in the summer. In the winter, though, it has that moody, bleak feel that makes television series like the X-Files have all the atmosphere they're known for -- and it's one thing when you're setting the scene for an enigmatic science-fiction series, but an entirely different situation when it's what you have to live though.

This year's been pretty good, though, compared to other winters I've seen. It could be worse. And the positive is, but I'm one of the only Vancouverites who might say this, that we sometimes get some pretty amazing early-season warm spells. Last spring was a great example, with temperatures in the 20s c/70s f as early as March.

So, maybe my ride isn't that far off. If the weather breaks today, sick or no, I think an oceanside ride might be in order. After all, the earliest I've ever seen Vancouver's famous cherry blossoms in bloom was, in fact, on New Year's Eve. Something worth looking for, don'tcha think?

Happy New Years', folks. May 2006 bring you everything your greedy little hearts desire.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Break from Television so I can Write about Television

So, the trouble with TV murder mysteries (say Law & Order, Numbers, that kind of thing) is that whenever you encounter a peripheral character to the murder victim -- colleague, lover, boss, spouse -- that is one of those "well-known" b-list guest character actors, you always know they're the murderer. Always. Why? Because they need someone who can actually act and carry a sizeable role, of course.

Not that I'm complaining, I like good acting, and I love a lot of those little named people that no one ever remembers. (Kevin Spacey, Joe Pantoliano are a couple grads of that school. Always in those little roles, always delivering.)

I'm just saying, it's not like you're left with a lot of suspense then. Columbo, it was different. Know why? Because you always saw the murderer. No suspense needed. It was about how Columbo solved the crime, right? The hemming, hawing, cigar-chomping yet loveable buffoon was just a hoot to watch. The guest actors, of which many were huge celebs, were just icing on an already yummy cake.


Speaking of Columbo, one year a customer came into my old photography shop, brandishing an autographed copy of a Peter Falk (Columbo) photo, 8x10, glossy. My mom fucking loved Columbo. She'd be in her glory if she knew Columbo would be on. Glass of brandy, slippers, splayed on the couch. It didn't matter if it were starting at 1 in the morning, she was there.

Last year I bought season one on DVD. Always enjoy it, makes me think of her. :)

That photo, though, I made an extra copy after duplicating it for the client. I bought a frame, took it home, and for the last four years of her life, it was on her work desk. Never, ever left, never, ever moved.

When she died, I gave it to GayBoy, who also always loved Columbo, and secretly coveted the photo when she was alive. One of the things I regret about my mom dying so young was that I'm sure that these days, me being where I am in life, my mom would realize GayBoy wasn't a bad influence, and they would've been fast friends, I think. They love all the same British comedies, all the same foods. They were both Eggs. (White on the outside, yellow [Chinese] on the inside. Always eating Asian foods, and she even worked in an all-Asian real estate company.) Ahh, sigh. GayBoy even loved my mother's big fucking flamboyantly faggy glass Christmas ornaments -- which he now possesses. There's a story there, and I'll tell it to you for Christmas. Funny.

So, who better to be custodian of The Picture, eh? GayBoy rocks.

[Suddenly, I'm reminiscing. All I wanted was to post the bit about guest actors. Holy fucking tangent, Batman.]



A final thought. Ever seen DaVinci's Inquest? No? If you're American, now's your chance. It's getting a lot of syndicated re-runs. I wouldn't be surprised if A&E reconsiders their stupid decision to air Crossing Jordan instead of DaVinci. (It was a toss-up when the network finally ditched Law & Order after years, and DaVinci lost, largely, I suspect, because the seasons only had 13 episodes, making it a low-total series to purchase -- with 22 episodes a season, Jordan already had more shows after four seasons).

ABC's showing it every Friday night at 11:30. Brilliant, well-written series filmed here in Vancouver, starring a number of the best actors in Canada. It's a drama set in Vancouver's coroner's office, with a lot of help from smart detectives and corrupt cops. It doesn't have the flash and pow of a lot of the hip new murder shows. No, this show is carried by writing, directing, and acting.

Say, sounds like real television, don't it? It's largely based on the career of Vancouver's recently departed (as in no longer acting, not as in dead) mayor, Larry Campbell. He started as a shit-disturbing coroner that pushed for city administration to finally realize how fucking detrimental the drug problem (Vancouver's heroin industry is of legion) was to the city. He pushed buttons, never minced his words, and because he was this loveable Irish guy, everyone bloody well couldn't figure out how to keep the dog down. Ultimately, awesome dude. Coolest fucking politician ever, man, and he was a career cop. I'd have a beer with him any day of the week, twice on Sundays.

So, DaVinci? It's a seven-year series with solid acting, that got better and better and better as it went along. They're smack dab in the middle of the seven years on ABC, which is good, because years five, six, and seven are progressively the best in the series.

Now, here in Canada, we're about 5 or 6 episodes into a new series -- same actors, writer, characters -- where DaVinci is now the mayor of the city. DaVinci City Hall is even smarter, faster, better edited, and better acted than the original series. It's bigger in scope, tackles more far-reaching issues, and is a chronicle of this city in an amazing time -- the time in which it's changing from a major city to a world-wide tourist destination, a metropolis. I can't fathom the change that will occur before the Olympics roll into town in 2010, considering the population explosion we've already been nursing for two decades, which has given us all these problems that are such fodder for this great fucking series.

Oh, and our ex-Mayor is and has always been a consultant on the two series. Watch it. You'll thank me. Up there with: The Shield, The Wire, early West Wing, Grey's Anatomy and a few other personal favourites. Smarts, man. Show's got it.


Just saw this on the news. TOO FUNNY. Florida restaurant states that an image of Jesus appeared in its nacho tray last night. So, they've retired the holy artif-- err, nacho tray. I told GayBoy, and he said, "I gotta start eating more Mexican."

Story is here.

(But, really, how much do you wanna bet this was some acidhead playing with a baster while the boss was on the phone with his wife or something? I can imagine the orchestra of his mind spinning "Comfortably Numb" as he hovers over the tray with his baster, dropping the drippings into a vaguely messianic pattern. "Just nod if you can hear me..." Drip, drip.)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Found on Desktop

I was cleaning off my desktop. My computer's as disorganized as I am, these days. I had 17 different word documents open. This was found among them, and I just liked the rhythm, even though it's from a couple weeks ago now, I guess.

More self-involved shit. Life's too chaotic for me to talk about the rest of the world these days. :P Here you go.

* * *

I’ve had a stop-the-world-and-let-me-off kind of a day.

The horizon out my window is filled with a murky indistinct grey, the stretched-batting blandness that precedes a nighttime snowfall. They’re lazy clouds. Not like those stormy black clouds that look like they’re holding back a fury. These clouds are the equivalent of that dude at the party that hangs back quietly until a conversational opening happens and he knows his moment has unfolded. These clouds are that dude. They’re waiting just a little longer and I suspect they’ll break before the hour is through.

But I really don’t care.

I was folding and hanging my clothes a moment ago, trying to bring peace back into the chaos of my little universe, when a thought occured to me: I generally allow my bedroom to dictate how I do or do not think. When I can’t make heads nor tails of the world around me, can’t impact a page, my bedroom looks like I’m a fucking junkie in a crackhouse or something. My bedroom’s where I write, you see. Normally, things are somewhat under control. Okay, perhaps that’s a lie. Normally, I’m somewhat able to cope, no matter what the state.

Lately, though, I’ve found life sort of overwhelming. Just up and whomp.I’ve been standing back, waiting for the clouds to part, just for some fucking moment of “yeah, I see where it’s all going” or something. Just something.

If you gave me enough rope to hang myself with, asked me for enough adjectives to describe myself with, and sooner or later, I’d have to throw “full of shit” into the mix. I find it hard, sometimes, to accept that I’m this pretty logical, pragmatic, intelligent chick and yet I’m so taken by symbolism and serendipity that I seem to be some paradox of some kind.

Right now, for instance, I’m tripping about the coincidences of late. I’m not really that hung up on coincidences, but the fact is, this life’s a big, long fucking ride of confusion and intrigue, and if it makes me think it’s all just a little more digestible in order to think the “coincidences” are telling me something, then what the fuck. It’s entertaining. I don’t put much stock in these things, but I love the food for thought that comes by way of the “what if” factor.

Recently I chatted with this fellow who I’ve got to get in touch with (but sadly I’m ignoring everyone in my life) who happened to take a liking to my writing. Then I developed writer’s block in addition to all the shit that transpired with my big brother. Throw into that mix the one-year anniversary of this blog, which was originally begun so as to get me out of my six-year bout with blockage, and then the strange coincidence of my brother’s head injury/accident, which also preceded my return to the land of writing/living last fall.

Add it all together and it’s a strange brew. I really hate this frustration of feeling I’ve got nothing to say. The overwhelming chaos of the mess around me serves as some kind of literary inertial dampener or something. I’m listening to a little Tom Waits and enjoying the fact that I finally see the wood grain on my desk once again, but fantasizing a little about taking it a step further sometime this week and oiling this bad boy back to its maple-y splendour. Salivating also at the thought of a dinner I need to go on a hunt for some ingredients to create -- souvlaki with a little lemon risotto. And I need beer.

The fact is, I just don’t feel like writing right now. And this can’t stay the case. It fucks me up. What was it that dead guy said -- a life unexamined is a life left unlived? I feel like such a part-time player when I’ve done no examining. It’s like I’m coasting through the playground of life on neutral, maybe being led around like a show horse or something. It’s pretty fucking unspectacular.

I’m a legend in my own mind. If it’s not down on paper, then it’s a passing thought, a whisper at best. I need posterity. Don’t we all? We’re all players in a drama that’s so much larger than who we thought we were. We’re afterthoughts, at best. There are those who’d say writing is a writer’s quest for immortality, a reckoning that there’s no other way we’ll be entitled to it. So, we write.

And this, I’ve no illusion what a waste of my time it is to write it, nor the waste of your time it is to read it, but there it is. A desperate cry for attention, like all blogging really is.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Ooh, overdosed?

Hey, so, it seems I suck at updating the Ditch.

What all have I missed, this month?

Well, I failed to do a posting on L'Ecole Polytechnique's 15th Anniversary, for starters. A 15th anniversary of when one lone, bitter fucking man entered Montreal's famed engineering school and mowed down 14 women with his gun. Just another dude unable to compete in an equal rights world.

I've failed to do my annual ranting on the commercialization of Christmas, and how I loathe the "how many people do I know, let's buy them all something" bullshit everyone seems to subscribe to. In my world, CLOSE friends and family get gifts. So, like, I buy a half-dozen gifts, at best. Keep it simple, kids.

I've failed to do my waxing-on-the-approaching-year deal.

My life's been filled lately, filled with obligations, filled with transportation, filled with scheduling hell. I'm enjoying my life, don't get me wrong, but I sure as hell could use a little break from it all.

I'm fantasizing lately about, well, of course, sex, but also about a trip down to Oregon. There's this writer's / reader's hotel I frickin' love where all the rooms are designed in keeping with the authors that are the rooms' namesakes. IE: Ernest Hemingway.

It's on the water. Every time I go there, it replenishes me. No tv, no radio, no distractions, no phones. Just beds and books and drinks and food, the way a good life was meant to be -- and don't forget the wonders of the salt air. All very, very good.

Instead, I've got one day off until Christmas and it's being spent in the vacuous hell of family time. It'll be great to spend time with them all, but you know what I mean -- family time's always on those days when it just seems so damn inconvenient. It's not something you can blow off, like with a good friend. You have to go, or people Get Hurt.

And this year, with as little time off as I have, going is putting a cramp in my style.


I'm also doing this whole e-dating thing. It comes in waves. I do three or four dates in a row, then a dry spell, etc. Rinse, repeat, etc. How the fuck did I escape this insanity of dating when I was younger? I didn't have to do this. I had a man, always. If I was broken up with my ex, presto, someone else would pop out of the woodwork. I just never had to look. Now, it's all so fucking complicated.

But I'm enjoying it, sort of. I'm somewhat amused. I recently said that I'm sort of interested in younger guys. I'm 32, look 27 or so, and feel about 25. Suddenly, I've got these frickin' 23-year-old studmuffins trying to proposition me left, right, and center, and I'm insanely considering moving on the action. Who knows. I want to just enjoy myself and date for kicks. I've been too serious about it when considering about future potential, and I've also been feeling more comfortable in my own skin lately, so what the hell.

Anyhow, I've had a pretty whirlwind six or eight weeks. I considered killing this place many, many times, actually, and always fought the temptation. I haven't been writing lately, and that's my fault, and I know it. I need to put more time into it, and that's life. Know what it is? Fucking tutoring. It's killing my writing. I need the mundanity of an office job, it seems. My best writing in the last year has come during times when I've been doing the same thing daily, whether my course in August, in which some of my writing was fucking spot on for a change, or earlier this year, it's been when things have had a good pacing.

And now? UNREST! Insanity! Sheer terror! But mostly, bad work ethic. I'm trying to put my ass to work. For those who've been patting me on the back, don't. If I put ANY effort into getting published, then there might be serious results. So far, this has all been the result of dumb luck and good timing, and I'll take every goddamned bit of it. :)

Ah well. Things shall settle. Another year comes this way. If it's anything like this past has been, whew, well, I'm buckled up and I sez bring it. Quel fun, Batman. Quel.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On the Fly

I'm about to run out of the house, but I'm feeling so smug and so good. For the first time in about a month or so, I've been starting to write a little more. And the stuff I've written has been pretty decent, surprisingly. It's been a while, but I've had a couple lines, couple notions that I've felt I've expressed well, and that makes all the difference.

If you don't know, I have another blog filled with sex/romance advice and the odd erotic posting, and that's where most of my energy is expended. (Email me if you want that link.)

For awhile there, I lost my mojo. I didn't care about writing. It stressed me out. Everything was getting to me, but for the first time in a long time, there's getting to be a sea of bliss around me again, and the need to write, that compulsion, it has returned. Thank goodness.

I'm still a little gunshy. It's been since about September that I haven't enjoyed my writing, so I need to get my headpspace back into the right gear.

Anyhow, soon to come: Stories from transit. I'm riding the bus these days and it's given me more inspiration for writing. Nothing like transit for getting the mind whirring, kids. Have notebook, will travel.

Speaking of buses... must run for mine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I'm Steff and I'll be your Pilot

Work beckons soon. The shower's running, getting hot. I need to make coffee, then I can jet downtown for a day of captioning.

Since I'm smart enough to not burn my bridges, I'm using my old employers over Christmas and it looks like I may get to use them into the New Year. I'm working there part-time and teaching ESL part-time. Ultimately, my schedule is my own, and I can go or come as I please. Which is good, but staying motivated for making money is imperative.

I've been insanely busy, so this blog suffers. Sometimes it's a case of just not caring, sometimes it's just not having enough in me. It's kind of a joke, the readership being as low as it is, compared to what it once was, but I don't care. My pride's not an issue. Nowadays, this blog's like an old pair of jeans. Just fits in all the right places, and while it's not always appropriate, when it is, there just ain't nothing better.

I haven't been trying to sell my writing since September. I'm not sure why. Someone lulled my into a sense of complacency by paying me modestly per week over the fall to contribute to their site -- I got lazy.

I had sent a couple feelers out at the start of November, and then was prompty, I thought, ignored. Last night, I discovered that there were more than 100 emails...

...And one from a New York City subscription-based magazine inviting me to submit work to them.

Oh, killer! That's a GREAT way to make a first impression. Fail to respond to an editor's email for five weeks. Nice!

But all is not lost. I'm in a dialogue with them. This would be so fucking cool. Something running in a NYC magazine. That's a first step towards something real. Hmm. Let's hope.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Once in a blue moon...

Spam rocks.

Received this today:

...Set in again with renewed frost and cold. When he found the unfortunateSwallow lifeless on the ground, he said, Unhappy bird! what have youdone? By thus appearing before the springtime you have not only killedyourself, but you have wrought my destruction also. The Fox and the LionA FOX saw a Lion confined in a cage, and standing near him, bitterlyreviled him. The Lion said to the Fox, It is not thou who revilest me;but this mischance which has befallen me. The Owl and the Birds AN OWL,in her wisdom, counseled the Birds that when the acorn first began tosprout, to pull it all up out of the ground and not allow it to grow.


There was an embedded link but since I operate a Mac, I'm immune to the virus. Insert smug mode now.