Monday, January 30, 2006

More News About "Mayfly"

The story has made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2005. Nice to continue to get a little buzz about this story.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

SF Writers Behaving Like Bookies

In a recent online conversation, fellow Canadian author Doug Smith and I found we disagreed with each other over who was going to win today's NFC Championship game. I say the Seahawks, and Doug says the Panthers. Being sensible fans, we made a bet. I gave Doug a spread of 3.5 points (which means that Seattle has to win by more than a field goal for me to win this bet), and the winner gets to kill the loser in an upcoming story, while the loser has to give the winner a good walk-on in another story.

Cheaper than cash, and more fun to boot. To say nothing of giving you more egotistical rantings of log-rolling writers.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Music To Do Fridays By

Today's Random Ten:

Dreamer - Supertramp
Peg - Steely Dan
I'm Sorry - Hothouse Flowers
Crazy Love - Van Morrison
On the Loose - Saga
The Hypothesist - Novillero
Latest Monkey - Buffalo Tom
Pride (In the Name of Love) - U2
Can You Blame the Poor Miner? - Maria Dunn
If I Am a Stranger - Ryan Adams& The Cardinals

Have I mentioned just how much I like the shuffle feature on my iPod?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Things That Are Handy to Know

As you can see by this map, Prince George (near the top right) is in a dangerous location when it comes to animal attacks. Why, shortly after we moved here a student on her way to the university was charged by a cow moose.

As a genuine public service, free weekly tabloid PG This Week yesterday ran a tremendously informative article entitled "Shark attacks are still a real threat despite precautions." And indeed, the precautions we take up here are many, including cages for the kids when they attend their Saturday morning swim classes, as well as warning signs posted by all large potholes, at least when the snow melts.

But those precautions are definitely not enough; just last week a cute puppy was decapitated by a Northern Pine Shark when the puppy ventured too close to an open piece of water at Shane Lake. No skating on that lake for the rest of the winter, let me assure you!

I look forward to yet more useful articles from our excellent local press, and to the opportunity to share them all with everyone. In the meantime, keep an eye out for those sharks.

Do Roses Cause Stigmata?

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has, in the past, pointed to all sorts of wonderfully tacky Christian knick-knacks. I don't recall seeing this one, which I spotted on the front page of a catalogue while at work today.

Allow me to be the first (at least on my block), to employ the pun creepy.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Media's Hunger

It's behind a wall, of course, but in yesterday's Globe & Mail Christie Blatchford has a column about Jane Creba and about the apparently strange decision of her parents to grieve in private. Titled "How we mourn," Blatch's column talks a bit about the fairly recent tradition of public mourning, and about how the Crebas have avoided that intense and disturbing glare.

As I read her column, one sentence jumped out at me early on: "...where were the parents, holding up pictures of their dead daughter?" Reading this sent a shock of sick recognition through my body, a shock that was greatly amplified when, further on, I read, "So unusual is this - shocking really, as though the parents didn't know the rules - that a day or so after Ms. Creba's death, the public-relations department at the police force was actually approached by a representative from a local TV station and asked if the force could arrange for the parents to be made available to the press, preferably with a picture of Ms. Creba to pose with and, presumably, to weep over." [Emphasis mine]

I don't know when this ghoulish behaviour first took place, but I believe I was actually present for its early days, at least as far as it went in Edmonton. In the late 1980s I was a freelance photographer for the Edmonton Sun, baby sister of the Toronto Sun, both of them strident, noisy, right-wing-and-proud-of-it tabloids filled with pictures of SunShine Girls (less naughty than some of the tabloid girls you see in British rags), brash headlines, and greatly simplified writing (and here I'll note that not much has changed, although most articles seem to be grade 6 or 7 level now, rather than grade 9. On the plus side, fewer reporters can be found drunk lying in the parking lot at the end of the day). When I first started out, if someone died and the paper wanted to run a picture of the victim (when the vic was alive, as opposed to a body covered by a tarp), it was either supplied by the family to the police, who distributed it to the press, or else a junior reporter would make a cold call and deal with the family's rep, then drive down and get the picture. If the victim was a young adult, this was almost always a graduation photo.

And then, one day, a young 18-year-old man (and I feel a small amount of shame that I have forgotten his name, even though it has been almost two decades) died in a skiing accident. Lost his balance on the mountain and hit a tree head-first. I was in the lab at the time, processing that Dark Ages material we once called film, when the photo editor called me out and told me they had a job for me. It had been arranged, he said, and I was to go to the family's house and collect a picture of this young man for publication in the paper. I cringed a bit at the thought, but nodded. And then he said that I was also to take a photo of the grieving mother holding the picture of her son.

I protested. This sounded to me like a gross violation of the poor mother's privacy, an offensive attempt to sensationalize a tragic death that was, to be frank, only of interest to a second-tier newspaper in a big city that still often acted like it was a small city. (Not that I actually stated my case that way, you understand.)

Do the picture, I was told. If you don't, there are plenty of other shooters who want this job.

I did the picture. The mother, to her everlasting credit, was patient, understanding, even sympathetic to my plight. I apologized left right and sideways, and she was a perfect subject. Her family and friends, though, could have been the death of me and my children and grandchildren (all, of course, unborn) if only looks could kill. And so I did the shoot as quickly as possible, collected the photo of her son (which the paper never used, since it wasn't salacious) and, with a promise to quickly get it back to her, got out of there.

This was, needless to say, photojournalism as I had never imagined it. Not long after this I parted ways with the paper, for a variety of reasons, happy to have the weight removed from my shoulders. There are amazing shooters out there, photojournalists who do wonderful work that actually means something, but I'm afraid that the vast majority of them are exactly like I was, hoping beyond hope that one day they'll be in just the right spot to snap just the right shot, always looking over the horizon beyond the grip 'n' grins and boring head shots and same old sports pix, continuing to believe that one day they'll rise above the rest. Perhaps not a Nachtwey, but at least a Simon.

It won't happen, though. Most will continue to watch their souls dry up, staking out murder sites and shooting pictures of blood at car accident sites, and taking pictures of grieving parents holding photos of their dead children. And the sadder thing is, this is what most of us expect.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Random Ten - Friday the 13th Edition

Crossing Muddy Waters - John Hiatt
Sail Away - Randy Newman
White Hot - Red Rider
Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads
Hey You - Pink Floyd
Fool Me - Vulgar Boatmen
Struck By a Change - Jessica Owen
Have a Little Faith in Me - John Hiatt
House at Pooh Corner - The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Madeleine's Song - Paul Kelly

Sunday, January 08, 2006

No Longer a Bridesmaid

For years and years now Gardner Dozois has liked my short fiction enough to often give me an Honorable Mention in his Year's Best Science Fiction series (last year brought the 22nd edition of this great series, incidentally). But as the saying goes, that and fifty cents (well, more, these days) gets me a cup of coffee. Or, that and a boot to the head gives me a headache. It has always been a pleasure to see my name singled out in his books, and the first time he gave me an HM was an incredible rush.

Today an email arrived from Gardner, telling me that he had selected "Mayfly," a story I co-wrote with Peter Watts and that appeared in Tesseracts 9, for publication in this year's edition of YBSF. A whole new rush, this. Yowza!

Addendum: Nalo points to a review in Booklist, posted here at Amazon. In it Peter and I are called "rising sf stars." I like the sound of that.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Soul in a Jar - The Veldt
Looking for James Joyce's Grave - Andy White
The Rising - Bruce Springsteen
Look What You've Done - Jet
Island in the Sun - Weezer
Legend - Poco
Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Warren Zevon
New Year's Day - U2
Redemption Song - Bob Marley and the Wailers
I Live in a Nice House - Thelonius Monster

Another good mix. The Marley is one of the finest songs ever, and the U2 ain't no slouch either.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Got Me Some Religion

This is some funny stuff.

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