About me

I've been writing stories for years. I think I'm a good writer and I'm willing to bet you'll feel the same way. So here they are. Enjoy them, comment on them, tell your friends about'em, reblog them, retweet them, reread them. I have four stories in my archive so far:
"One day on the Mountain", a story of Lycanthropy, a father, and a son.
"The Boy", a story of a very ambitious and sociopathic fifth grade boy.
"The Easy Girl, A story of infidelity and unpaid sexual debts. This story is very dark.
"Brick The Mighty", a story of an aging superhero.
Although this is primarily a blog of horror, I also write about things that are important to me. I have more stories tucked away; they just need editing. There's even a few novels. There will be more to come.
PS. Feel free to leave a comment. I love comments.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

MY NEW WEBSITE -DevilIntheFlesh.net

   For those (very few) of you who have been wondering where I've been, I will relieve your curiosity.

  I've moved my web presence to a wordpress-powered blog, and I bought my own domain. It's surprisingly cheap for a .net address, although Devilintheflesh.com had already been bought up and was on sale for five thousand bucks!

  Why? Well, I really wanted my own domain. The 'blogspot' tag on my web address was something that bothered me, and so now I have my place: :Devil In The Flesh.

  Why? Well, I realized that I had boxed myself with the parameters I had set up in this blog. I thought that bogging about horror and my fiction would be enough. But it's not. I like to blog about horror, writing, daily life, sex, porn, Science-Fiction, and whatever the hell I want. I have demons and I found I was censoring myself. So I moved house.

  I should have thought things through a little more clearly: wordpress is set to whatever theme you've ordered, and I have to use HTML code to do anything different. The search and link history function is far worse than blogger - I don't know where my links come from. But those are small sacrifices for having my own place.

   For those of you who follow me, be warned - there is now nudity (but nothing hard-core), some talk about sex, some views with which you might not necessarily agree. I've slowly been transferring all my most popular posts over to my new place. The demure book-bloggers from bookblogs.ning.com might think twice about looking through my archives unless they really do want to read my enthusiastic tributes to porn stars like Gianna Michaels or Jenna Haze. But ultimately, I think I'm happier over there and will have more success. Although I might have to buy a custom or premium theme. Or learn how to make one.

  So again: Devil in the flesh is the new site. Devilintheflesh.net.

  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

'The Moment After 2': WTF did I just watch?

I have the complete Internet/pay-cable packages. I get HBO and the movie central channels. So my wife and I were playing catch-up with the 24-hour selection, trying to PVR everything that we could see, until we looked at the pay-per-view section, and realized that all the movie central movies, HBO shows, and Oscar films can be ordered for free. That’s pretty cool. 

Or is it? To fill a rotating selection of films and TV shows over 5 channels, 24 hours a day, without news or commercials, is not easy. So when I look through the free-order stuff on my box, I see a lot of movies that I’ve never heard of. 

I’ve seen a crappy, heavily subsidized comedy-drama written by a guy I lived with in university. I’ve seen three cheapo planetary disaster movies shot over the bridge in North Vancouver; I have no idea how they got made. To those of you who only see big-studio movies: there’s a whole world of trash and treasure, mostly trash, but it’s worth looking into if you get a chance. Unfortunately, The Moment After (Part II) is not a treasures. 

Released through (or by) the Christiano Film Group, and directed by Wes Llewellyn, The Moment After (Part II) follows the story of Adam, a renegade FBI agent convicted of terrorism because he helped a rabbi escape from government. The world is dominated by Global Corp, a multinational entity that has converted the world to personal biochips and one currency. It throws religious people in jail. Poor Adam has to make do with taking smuggled communion bread and reading smuggled bible pages. 

He escapes into the desert and hooks up with a runaway band of Christians, or as Global calls them, ‘religious extremists.’

The first third of the movie is a typical cheap-movie setup. The last third is a pedestrian showdown with the bad guy, who just might be Satan. It’s the middle third of the movie where things get terribly odd.

The runaways signal to each other by drawing Jesus fishes in the sand. They live in the desert, and in a strange similarity to the Jews and Egyptians, or the Christians and the Romans, the Americans in this movie are persecuted nomads who are at odds with a heathen, techno-savvy enemy. The leader of the religious renegades is a rabbi named Jacob, who carries a bible and preaches Jesus every chance he gets. One woman admits that she was a ‘science major’ but is now so much more happy following the way of the Lord. Everyone hugs, wears baggy mom jeans, and unconsciously throws in bible verses in everyday talk. 

And the dialogue! In one scene, one of the principal characters meets a Christian woman after a rousing hymm-sing. What follows is strangely awkward, and combined with the wholesomely meaningful looks exchanged, unexpectedly sexualized.

‘The Lord is gracious, isn’t he?’
‘I suppose he is… um…’  
‘Laura. It was good worshipping with you tonight. Good praise, sister.’  
‘It just feels like His Spirit moves so much when we worship like that. Don’t you?”   
“Yeah. Thank you.’ 
‘God bless you, brother.’ 

This is an awful movie. The acting is terrible, the gun violence is sanitized, the fight scenes are ridiculous, one character keeps a cigar in his mouth the entire movie and never smokes it, and every man has tousled mop of bedhead hair. But my fascination with the movie is cultural.

Do Christians feel in their hearts that there will come a time when they have to flee and take to the desert? I can’t see how any American citizen of European descent could claim a cultural memory that is more appropriate to someone of Mid-Eastern or African descent, and yet in these movies (and part 3 is coming) they’re the persecuted minority they were 2,000 years ago. The Moment After (Part II) was very successful with Christian audiences. Do they think this? Do they think that a large and secular government will always threaten a religious society? Interestingly, the Global soldiers wear camouflage and berets similar to UN peacekeepers. Behind the praying, the hugging, the brothering and sistering, The Moment After seems to lust for a time when Christians can fight and, more importantly, suffer for their right to exist, with the back-up knowledge that everything will go according to God’s plan, and in the end good will triumph.

But that’s already happened. Jesus died for our sins over 2000 years ago. Those great and primarily secular civilizations collapsed and these days no one worships false idols. A president cannot be elected in the US without being avowedly religious. Catholicism has replaced Islam as the fastest growing religion on Earth. Mega-churches dot the continent. There’s no longer any reason to feel persecuted, and yet these… religious fetish movies sell like hot-cakes. 

But really? I hated the end. They could have gone apocalyptically, old-testament, crazily biblical with the climax, with big scary angels, but instead it was martial arts and machine guns in a barn. If you’re going to go the paranoid religious route, you should go big or not bother. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Have you ever heard of Usher’s Syndrome? Children are born deaf, or become deaf within the first year of life. Soon after, Retinitis Pigmentosa follows - a progressive blindness as the optic cells deteriorate and cataracts develop. But there is a team of doctors here in BC who insist that the day is fast approaching when blindness is thing of the past. We need simply the money and the will. The brains and technology are already here. 

On the evening of Valentine’s day, my wife and I went to Dinner in the Dark, a fundraiser for vision research. Tickets are expensive; there was an auction of Canucks memorabilia, a Gordie Howe jersey, a beautiful kid’s bike that we bid for and failed to win, and finally, the gimmick: we had to eat with blindfolds on.

I had thought we were to eat in pitch-dark. But just how would our waiters pour our wine and serve us dinner? The blindfolds made sense. 

A few things about Blindness charity dinners. They like details. All night they played Andrea Bocelli, and I was about to complain until I remembered he’s blind. The centrepiece was a glass vase of roses interwoven with leaves of kale. Why? Kale is full of eye-positive vitamins, although I don’t know why the centrepiece wasn’t also stuffed with carrots. Among the auction items were fancy bottles of French wine with braille labels. 

But on to the sensory part of the evening. We put on our blindfolds early in the evening and did a wine-tasting (in stemless glasses to avoid a glass catastrophe). Servers were instructed to tap our right shoulders to get our attention. “We can fool around and no one will notice,” murmured my wife flirtatiously, until I pointed out that we wouldn’t know if anyone was noticing us.

Being blind for an enforced period is odd. You quickly begin to bellow, because you aren’t sure if anyone is listening. You’re used to seeing someone’s face, someone’s eyes, looking at you, and you begin to fear that you’re being ignored. At first, when I put on the blindfold, I was heartened by the thin band of light that shone up along the bridge of my nose. At least I’ll be able to see my food, I thought. But that was wrong: my eyes got tired of looking down, and soon all the light gave me was a bright wash at the bottom of my perception, which is how many blind people ‘see.’ 

Another thing: many of us assume that we could survive being blind, thanks to our Daredevil-like spatial abilities and acute hearing. We think we’ll be fighting crime and playing piano concertos in our spare time. But I lost count of the times I stabbed my plate and brought an empty fork into my mouth; I struggled with dense, three-dimensional waves of junk sound in order to hear people who may or may not have been speaking to me. All I could hear was rhubarb-rhubarb and the clatter of forks. I had no idea how much I interpreted speech through faces, hand movements, context, body language, and eye direction. Hearing is something we romanticize - in reality it’s one of our least important senses. Hearing is supported so much by vision and touch. 

There were a number of parents of Usher’s Syndrome children at the event. You knew them because they still wore the blindfolds when we adjourned to the auction room before the main course. The rest of us chickened out and took off our blindfolds when we went to the auction; they kept them on. They wanted to know what it was like to be blind, to stumble around in the dark, to constantly be at ease in a world that can run you over, bang your shins, cop a feel, or just simply ignore you in your world of clattering sound. They wanted to know blindness long term, because their kids would know nothing but. 

The keynote speaker was a blind journalist and writer. He told us, flat out, that he wanted us to donate to the cause, but not for him. He wanted to stay blind, because he had a gimmick: he wrote about being a blind father, and he travelled the world and wrote about being a pathetically blind traveller. He had a unique niche in the writing biz. He even went to Egypt during the uprising, and the hotel staff took care of him with an earnestness that suggested they thought God had given them an onerous task. At the end, after we had nearly soiled ourselves laughing at his jokes, he thanked his wife. “She lets me fail,” he explained. It was a privilege to hear him speak. 

We went home, paid the babysitter, and looked at our own kids. At the same time, many other parents were coming home and looking at their kids, and wondering if they were to be the blind people on the bus, desperately trying to prevent other passengers from stepping on their dogs tails. They probably thought of trust funds, surgical procedures that might one day work. I like to think they felt supported, that they had hope. 

So if you get a chance, donate to your local blindness-fighting charity. If the doctor who spoke that night is right, we’re around the corner. We just might beat blindness. 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The Magicians, The Magician King (Lev Grossman): Better than Harry Potter

I like the Harry Potter novels. Even if the first five books are a bit too much like five extended episodes of Scooby-doo. You know- there’s a pattern to all of them: Harry goes to Hogwarts, has the customary banquet in which the teacher wear their eccentric college robes. Strange things happen and things are not as they seem. Harry and his friends explore, there’s a battle and people are put at risk, the evil is vanquished, and then there’s another banquet. Add Draco, Crabbe and Goyle. Things do turn out for the better during the last two books, in which all sorts of people die and Harry and his friend at last leave the fictionally confining halls of Hogwarts. I like Harry Potter. My kids adore Harry Potter. 

But Lev Grossman’s books, The Magicians and the Magician King, are better. 

It’s unfair to say this. Grossman stole from JK Rowling with all the vim and vigour of a plundering pirate who happens to be classically educated writer of far greater talent. It’s about a school for magicians called Brakebills, in which eccentric genius kids practice magic in all its guises (including an astonishing test of physical magic that involves turning into a goose and flying across the world), in which there are cliques of friends who fall in love with each other and do their best to solve its mysteries. The school is covered in protective, concealing spells; there are portals that whisk people around the world; the students practice arcane little games; there are corresponding magic schools around the world. 

But these kids fall in love, get drunk, and have sex. They even - horror upon horrors - use the internet. Rowling admirers often reference the absence of technology in her books - there are no computers or internet but only the world of magic and that of the poor muggles, who only have cars and telephones. In the Grossman books, people use smartphones and wikipedia and the magic is still there, and the story is the richer for it. Magic is given a far richer and more scientific basis, and Grossman has somehow woven it into a mythology that is respectful of its theft victims while staying original; magic here is painted as something arduously, impossibly technical, available only to people with the memory, the pure bloody-mindedness, to memorize the infintesimally delicate arrays of finger movements, language, and intonations that form real magic. Grossman makes it seem possible.

Then there is the writing. Here is a perfect example: Julia is teaching herself magic because she couldn’t get into Brakebills. She performs her first spell from a file she found in a dusty forgotten corner of the internet. 

What this image was, once she had zipped and decoded it, was a scan of a handwritten document. A couplet—two lines of words in a language she didn’t recognize, transcribed phonetically. Above each syllable was a musical staff indicating rhythm and (in a couple of cases) intonation. Below it was a drawing of a human hand performing a gesture. There was no indication of what the document was, no title or explanation. But it was interesting. It had a purposeful quality, draftsmanlike and precise. It didn’t look like an art project, or a joke. Too much work, and not enough funny.
She practiced them separately first. Thank God for ten years of oboe lessons, on the strength of which she could sight-sing. The words were simple, but the hand positions were murder. Halfway through she went back to thinking it was a joke, but she was too stubborn to quit. She would have even then, but as an experiment she tried the first few syllables, and she discovered that something was different about this one. It made her fingertips feel hot. They buzzed like she’d touched a battery. The air resisted her, as if it had become slightly viscous. Something stirred in her chest that had never stirred there before. It had been sleeping her whole life, and now somehow, by doing this, she had poked it, and it stirred.
     Throughout Grossman’s books, there is a constant beautiful but bemused quality, as if he begs the reader not to take the subject matter too seriously. After all, beneath the magic, people are just people and magic changed nothing. 
The library was still plagued by outbreaks of flying books—three weeks ago a whole flock of Far Eastern atlases had taken wing, terrifyingly broad, muscular volumes like albatrosses, and wrecked the circulation area, sending students crawling under tables. The books actually found their way out through the front door and roosted in a tree by the welters board, from which they raucously heckled passersby in a babel of languages until they got rained on and dragged themselves sulkily back to the stacks, where they were being aggressively rebound.
    Like I said before, I like Harry Potter. Rowling is talented and I credit her for inventing the genre of Adventurous Student Magician. But students are young adults, and they experiment, get in trouble, and make the most regrettable mistakes. They also grow up, and occupy a strange nether region that is neither childhood and adulthood. Harry was a child all the way through, despite some of Rowling’s hints of Harry's shouty independence. In the and, marriage and family happened offstage, as if Harry’s entrance into adulthood might have marred the mystery of Hogwarts. Lev Grossman has combined puberty, maturity, technology (but this book isn’t steampunk), magic, and misbehavior, and yet still added the magical world of Fillory over it all. 

If Harry has made Rowling a billionaire, may these two books, far better than the Potter books, please make Lev Grossman at least a millionaire? It would be somewhat fair. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Source Code (2010)

Source Code, the techno/SciFi thriller directed by Duncan Jones in 2011 (and on Movie Central right now, which is why you’re reading this), is a vigorous little thriller that makes the viewer think. How many alternate realities are out there anyway? 

Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhall)wakes up in a commuter train sitting across from a beautiful woman named Christina. He realizes several things - he’s somehow in the body of Sean Fentress, a schoolteacher; he supposed to be Afghanistan and he’s not sure how he got here; there’s a bomb on the train and in eight minutes it kills him and everybody on the train.

He wakes up in a strange capsule. Staring down upon him is a flatscreen with Air Force Captain Colleen Goodwin on it, telling him to focus and return to his mission. She’s looking down at him from a command centre, surrounded by eggheads. She’s his contact. Those eight minutes are going to start again, and he has to find that bomb and whoever planted it, because the explosion has already happened and Homeland Security needs to find out where in central Chicago the madman will plant his next and far larger bomb. Colter Stevens will have to relive those eight minutes as many times as necessary until he finds the bomber and the bomb. 

Finally, after several unsucessful eight-minute runs, in which he chases a train-sick Indian Businessman, gets tazed by Amtrak security, and kisses Christina, only to die in the blasts, the government scientists tell him the truth. Colter was the victim of an insurgent attack, and only barely survived. The US government declared him dead, and harvested part of his brain so they could merge it with the memories found in the dead brains of terrorist attack victims. But the memories are only of the last eight minnutes of the victims life. Colter’s imprisonment in the capsule, the memories of Sean Fentriss, who died on the train, are all illusory. 

But here’s the kicker - Sean Fentriss’s memories are of an entirely whole world that includes details Fentriss couldn’t possibly know, such as the location of the bomb, the results of internet searches, and the reactions of each passenger to varying actions. That’s because the scientists have used quantum mechanics to put his consciousness into Fentriss’s source code (his memories), and now Colter is not just in Fentriss’s memories, but of another reality. Each action alters history and puts Colter on a different course. Every stream of time results in a different world, decoherent from the next, but all those streams are from the same quantum superposition. This is all thanks to Hugh Everett, a physicist who formulated the Many-Worlds Theory as an answer to the Schrodinger’s Cat paradox. Colter Stevens is in his own world, as much as the scientists want to think he’s simply a ghost being tossed again and again into the same point of the data stream.  

This poses many questions. 

Jake Gyllenhall has been plagued by gay rumours. They’re muted, because everyone likes him and he’s not part of a creepy California ‘church,' but they’re there and constant. Could he have once been straight, and was then converted by the energy generated by the wishful thinking of a thousand horny gay gossip bloggers? Did someone in an alternated timestream stop Mohammed Atta while he was applying for crop-spray funding, thus preventing 9-11, and is now living in a wonderful world of cheap gas, cheap houses, and reading the fine books of a talented but slightly pompous Chicago author and senator named Barack Obama, and dozing away during John Kerry’s Oval Office speeches? In another timestream did Bill Gates and Steve Jobs team up and take over the entire planet with lovely, streamline computers that ran like our Apples, looked as damn sexy as our Apples, but were as flexible and cooperative as Windows PC’s? Or is there another reality in which the terrorist really won, and we’re all wandering blindly around a cloud of radioactive dust, looking for a few rats to shishkabob? 

Never question whether or not things could be different, that’s what I learned from this film. Ask whether things could be better or worse. 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Review: 'Trollhunter'

It’s to the point that every other movie I see is a found-footage movie. Just make a regular movie already; one that isn’t partially improvised and cobbled together from eight hours of found footage. 

Trollhunter, a movie directed by Norse director André Øvredal, is yet another found-footage movie. Three students are investigating a possible bear poaching (because apparently bears are serious business in Norway) and get on the trail of a possible poacher. They follow this dour and taciturn man as he inexplicably places tires around the countryside, stays out all night, and lurks in his strange camping trailer that is outfitted with enough UV lamps to light up a Lady Gaga world tour. 

They follow him into the woods one night and the viewer makes several discoveries, which I’ll list in ascending order of importance: 1. There are many, many trolls in Norway. 2. The government knows and Hans, the supposed bear poacher, is actually a troll hunter for a covert government agency. 3. Otto Jerspersen, the actor portraying Hans, is a popular Norse comedian. Actually, I discovered this when I looked him up.

Hans, as grim, quiet and bearded as a depressed and divorced career scientist, wants the young film crew to follow him around: his job is dangerous, has no benefits, no overtime, no overnight pay, and no hazard pay. He wants them to expose the Troll Security Service to the public and hopefully improve his own lot. As they investigate a spike in troll misbehavior, they drive around the austerely beautiful Norse countryside (rain, cleanliness, enormous mountains and waterfalls everywhere), he lectures them on troll species classification, eating habits, gestation, and vulnerabilities. While he repeatedly says the old fairytale stories do not apply, trolls can smell the blood of Christians and turn to stone when exposed to sunlight.

The trolls are amazing: comically ugly, with the hunched walk and comically enormous noses from fairytale lore. The special sound effect go beyond the caricatures: the trolls mutter and almost speak with fabulous monstrous rumbling noises, and at one point, while the cast hides in a cavenook to escape a family of trolls who have come in to sleep for the day, one troll lets out a long and deafening fart that almost suffocates the film crew. The acting (particularly from Jespersen, although I cannot see how he could ever be funny) is wonderful and the humour deadpan in a uniquely nordic way. 

But the inconsistencies are rife and ruin an otherwise wonderful movie: the peevish troll bureaucrats that follow the crew around are portrayed as chronically underfunded grunts who couldn’t direct a funeral, but they become suddenly sinister when it suits the plot. Northern European governments are simply not frightening; they’re too fair, too benign. Even in the Stieg Larsen books, the government bad guys are hopeless bunglers.  The camera plays across a row of power lines, and Hans explains that they just look like power lines; they are in reality an electric fence to keep in a 200-foot mountain troll called a Jotnar. How can massive, violent, highly odorous creatures be kept secret from the public? And isn’t it lazy to simply film a series of electric pylons and and call it something else? 

You will still like this movie, despite its plot issues, and its sudden and hurried ending. The climax, a battle with the Jotnar seen on the poster, is amazing, and you will be awed by this creature that is the size of a mountain. It’s still a good horror film. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A night that shall live in infamy

This happened at least four years ago. I’ve tried to forget it.

We were heading back to Halifax for our usual summer visit. The same routine - stay with in-laws, be infantilized, do nothing in our home town, eat a lot. Except this time my best friend was living nearby. I’d known this guy since the fifth grade. We’ve always been tight. Since I only saw him once every few years at best, we always had to do everything in one night: see each other, drink several years worth of booze, talk as much as possible about everything. Whenever I saw this guy, whom I’ll call Ricky, I had to plan on being bedridden the next day.

I told my wife that Friday night was my time with Ricky, and she agreed. I met him near the train station and took him out for Indian food at the Taj Mahal restaurant. Then it was off to drink at the Midtown on Grafton street. The Midtown has always been cheap and a good place to start a drunken night. With hindsight, starting the night with beer is stupid, because you’ll be bloated when you graduate to spirits. Then the night goes south, as it did with us.

We talked for hours at the Midtown, then we went to the Economy Shoe Shop, which for years has been the ferny yuppie hangout on Argyle. We had at least eight rounds of rum and cokes, which is the maritime drink of choice. How do you order coke with two ounces of dark rum? ‘I’ll have a double dark’n’dirty, if you please!’ By this point we were making grand declarations of love and outrageous promises. I dimly recall Ricky promising to help murder an acquaintance or relative who’d been plaguing me, and he said so with drunken and pedantic honesty. 

After I had paid the waitress and tipped some unknown amount that she had suggested, we headed to The Liquor Dome. It had a Cabaret License, which allowed to stay open until three in the morning. That building had always been known as the Last Chance for Romance, because if you hadn’t gotten lucky anywhere else, you could always go to to the Dome, which had two floors and bars everywhere like adult diaper stations. Ricky was buying even more drinks and shoving them at me. I was having trouble standing. I finally persuaded Ricky that we should head home. 

We walked along Barrington Street where it was quiet. All the lights were dazzling and the air was whooshing in and out of my lungs, which is what happens when I am extremely drunk. I think we may have gone into an all-night store and inexplicably bought a litre of strawberry soymilk. 

We arrived at the corner of Barrington and Inglis, the beginning of the good part of town. 

“Sometimes,” slurred Ricky. “There are people along here. Right about here. At night.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. If had been sober I would have figured it out right away. 

There was a woman on the corner, standing by herself. 

“You guys out drinkin?” she called.

“Yup,” answered Ricky. “And we’re not done yet!” 

She was very nice and walked with us for half a block. “I got tequila at my place,” roared Ricky. “Let me buy some mix and we’ll meet back up with ya!” The thought of more liquor made me almost faint. 

She sort of faded away, back to the corner where we had found her, and I waited outside a convenience store while Ricky bought the sort of mix that’s whitish green and comes in a long bottle. The stuff you always pass over in a store because it looks poisonous. Ricky took a long time, an oddly long time, because he’d bought something else instead of tequila mix.

When he came out, there was a middle-aged black woman with him. She wore a halter top, booty shorts, and walked with a herky-jerky strut. “She’s gonna do us both for eighty bucks!” said Ricky. 

“What,” I said. He’d found her in the gas-station convenience store? 

“You come along with me, honey,” she said. She took my hand and led us off as I looked over my shoulder for the nice lady I’d met down on the corner. Where had she gone? I’d wanted to talk to her.

The area near the bottom of Inglis where it meets Barrington is odd. You’re just below mansions, endless green lawns, wrought-iron fences. There’s a heritage bus tour that goes through it, for Christ’s sake! It shouldn’t be next to several blocks of rooming houses, drug dealers, and a student ghetto for a university that requires a 60% average out of high school for admission. But this is how it’s always been.

She took us into one of those places. Up some stairs, past rows of doors. She opened one door into a room with a floor covered in trash, beer cans, and a diagonal mattress. A hinky-looking man lay on the mattress smoking something out of a glass pipe. “I need the room,” she said to him, and he just said, “Okay,” and got up and walked out. “How’s it going?” he said to us as he walked by. 

She took us in. I was still very drunk, and regarding everything with clinical and numb amusement. She got down on her hands and knees, and took off her shorts as she bent over in our faces. Ricky knelt down and grabbed a cheek. “Take a look at that,” he said. “Not bad at all, eh?” For a crack addict she had reasonably good ass, I had to concede. 

My gaze wandered over to the mantlepiece, where there were a few pictures leaning against the mirror. “Whazzat?” I said, pointing.

Her face lit up. “Picture of my babies!” she said. “Wanna see?”

“Sure,” I replied.

“NO!” said Ricky. “No, we don’t want to see!”

But she had already stood up, gotten down a picture, and showed me. Three girls. They looked to be about fourteen, seventeen, and twenty. Freckles, hoodies, tight curled hair. And that was it for me.

“I’m going outside,” I said. “Rick, I’ll see you in a bit.”

She took me by the hand and led me out to hall and to the foot of the stairs. Still buck naked, she gave me a big hug and went back into her room where Ricky was waiting.

I went down to the corner. The first woman was there. “Did you come back to look for me?” she said.


We went to her rooming house and sat together on the porch. “My buddy’s up there with that other woman,” I said. 

“Her?” she said. “But she got no teeth.” 

“Oh,” I said.

“You wanna go upstairs to my room?”

“Nah. But if you want to leave me here and head back out to your corner, I won’t mind. I know you gotta make some money.”

“No, I’ll talk with you.” 

Her name was Liz. She was Hamilton originally. She had blonde curly hair and little sharp teeth. She had three daughters too, and she smoked rock. 

Another girl joined us, a heavy, pale girl who wore a shapeless black hoodie that pooled around her head and made her look a little like Bergman’s spectre of death. 

“Do you do dates?” she asked me.

“Nah,” I said. “You could have talked to my friend, but he’s up there with another girl.”

“Her?” said the girl with the hoodie.  “But she got no teeth. He know that?”

Ricky came down a moment later. “Right after you left, she took out her friggin dentures and said, ‘let’s get started.’ I got outta there quick.”

The four of us settled down and got to talking. Once or twice the hinky-looking man wandered by and said hello. I don’t remember much of what we talked about. I do remember Ricky handing Liz a twenty and holding open her shirt. Liz talked about how she kissed her clients and how that made her special. It was around 4:30 in the morning when I decided that I needed to head back to my in-laws where my wife and kids were sleeping. 

Ricky and Liz joined me. We walked along Young Avenue, the site of the heritage bus tours, past the mansions, the gardens. Less than two hundred feet from my in-law’s house I gave both Ricky and Liz a massive hug and bid them goodnight. I found out later that Ricky went back to her room and bought himself a good time.

The punch line to this story should be that a crackwhore accompanied me along the nicest streets of my hometown. But I knew Liz as a mother,  someone who spent time with me freely, and I really hope that she turned out alright. She was over forty when I met her, with three kids somewhere in Ontario, and a crack addiction. 

The next morning we drove to the middle of nowhere to visit my grandmother. I barely survived. Ricky called me the next day and suggested we keep this particular story to ourselved. Which is why all names are changed. 

Monday, 6 February 2012

The new OKGo video : Needing/Getting

This band is amazing. From their first smash viral hit, A Million Ways, they've been at the forefront of inventive visuals. They usually get a grant to fund their work, and then release it into the wild. This time they've persuaded Chevy to fork out the money. The payoff? They use a Chevy van in this video, and the emblem is front and centre.

They swear they've used only inventiveness and hard work to accomplish the impossible feats of synchronicity and timing in their past works. I don't believe them; I think they've used some sort of of editing or computer trickery to fix the glitches. In this new video, they appear to be doing the impossible: chaos theory and Murphy's Law should have made this video a bust.

Whatever the truth is, Chevy has a new product placement that is cheaper and a billion times more inventive and effective than paying Will Smith five million bucks to say a few lines, and OKGo has a new video. Enjoy, and if you can figure out how they hell they did this, let me know.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Indian food and some silly pictures

The in-laws are here this weekend. They’re lovely people, but they’re old. Any one of my generation should have boomers as parents, which means our parents slept with other people, did drugs, travelled, found themselves, and generally accumulated some faults and mistakes. My mother and father in-law are just a hair older than the oldest baby boomer. 

What does that mean? It means they got married right out of college, mommy immediately quit work to look after the kids, sacrificed everything, and deferred to daddy in every decision. Before the kids were born, they’d bought the house they were going to die in and daddy took his one and only job from which he's now retired.They’re unlike my parents, and the parents of many in my generation, who are mobile, and had many jobs, took some risks. They’re lovely people, but they’re old and I don’t have a lot in common with them. They’ve never made mistakes. 

They arrived yesterday, and while they were out on their daily walk (they’re the sort who take twice-weekly showers and daily walks), I shopped in the big Indian store near where I live. I made my favorite: Saag Paneer, which I’ll describe in a moment. I also made Eggplant Bartha and threw together a dahl. 

Saag Paneer means spinach and farmer’s cheese. You throw three or four bunches of spinach into a mess of onion, garlic, turmeric, cumin, green chilis, and most importantly fenugreek, and then let simmer for an hour until the spinach has cooked down into an aromatic slime. It may sound awful but it’s my favorite dish. Purree partly, add a dash of cream, and put in salt and the blocks of cheese, and you have an pot of steaming emerald goodness. 

A dahl is simply lentils and spices. There are thousands of different recipes in every province of Indian. India has always been highly populated and very Hindu, and those two factors have come together and made good vegetarian cooking a necessity. 

The third dish was the kicker: eggplant bartha, a curry made from eggplants and a typical blend of spices, garam masala and coriander being the dominant flavours. You have to roast the eggplants first. I don’t have a barbecue, so I had to do it in my oven. Indian eggplants are long and purplish, and in the oven the skin gets black and tight. By the end, I thought there were three severed and blackened arms in my oven.

They’re scary when you first take them out. You have to cut the skin lengthwise, and peel it back. For a moment I thought I had dead and rotting squid on my stove. I’ve attached a picture for your edification.

Above the eggplants is the completed saag.

I made some Naan bread later on, and had a three dish meal with fudge brownies for desert. I’d attack a picture of my apron but I don’t do that shit. 

Some other silly pics:

Yoda makes everything better

A boxer on a trampoline

Sunday, 22 January 2012

My candidacy for the Republican Nomination

Good evening, my fellow Republicans.

Who is this strange man who has appeared on my television screen during prime time? you’re probably asking. Why has he not even given his name? I’ll get to that. I’ll get to everything. 

I’m the newest Republican candidate for president. Yes, I know Mitt and Newt are ostensibly the front-runners. Newt may even beat Mitt if he can persuade Santorum to… um… to get behind him. But I’m here now. If I can persuade you that I’m your man, then Newt and Mitt will simply concede. So please have a listen.

You’re in a pickle, aren’t you, Republicans? You’ve got a popular, smart, and telegenic president; an economy that’s in the crapper; a stand-off with Iran and North Korea; and a debt that so massive that in a short time the richest man in the country won’t be able to afford three months interest on the national debt.

So this is my platform - it’s the platform of a left-wing Canadian, but at least you’ll know where I stand. I’m a placater, a mollifier, a consensus builder, and an old pro at kissing babies and grandmas.

First, and I need get this out of the way. I’m not a social conservative, and that’s that last thing you need anyway. I promise not to do anything about abortion - that might offend you, but the last spate of Republican presidents didn’t do anything about it either. Abortion gets out votes and no one ever follows through on it. Same-sex marriage is coming to most states, so don’t bother trying to stop it. The gays and the Gay Agenda aren’t destroying marriage, Kim Kardashian, Sinead O’Connor, John Edwards, and Newt Gingrich are destroying marriage. I’m not pro-gun, but I’m not going to try to take them away from you, since all the police budget-cuts mean you’re going to need them more than ever. So I want you to put all the social stuff aside; that’s not going to defeat Obama. Don’t look to me for religious guidance - leave that to your minister. 

The keys to getting the United States out of this mess (which is no fault of yours, by the way) is not great change. I know: the President ran on change, and every four years the Republican candidate threatens to throttle the machinery of government in the bathtub and kill it down to size before he promptly spends the country into the ground. 

Here is what I propose. There’s a lot to running a country, but I think this one-plank platform will do be worth the price of admission alone. I guarantee President Obama hasn’t thought of this. 

Let’s look at the cause of conflict - profit, religion, and beneath all of that is a little undercurrent of sex. In the past too many societies have raised young men on a strict diet of no sex, and then sent them out into the world where they become frustrated killing machines. I don’t think there is any way you can change people’s minds about religion - the middle east will be fighting over Jerusalem until that area is a giant pile of radioactive dust, and we should leave them to it. I think we need to bypass all that silliness and concentrate on making something exciting happen within our borders. 

Sex - that’s an Achilles heel in every human being. 

I don’t want to bother with legalizing heroin or Marijuana. I propose we legalize and tax sex. The sale of sex, specifically.

The US, one of the worlds great producers of porn and beautiful people, can become the world’s greatest destinations for sex tourism in the history of our planet. Do you want it hot and sultry? Hot-lanta, baby! Like it edgy, with some clunky-rimmed glasses alongside? The Big Apple beckons! Like it spicy and with just a hint of violence? LA’s your lady! Like your men buff and shaved? That’s… well, that’s the entire west coast. Like your women wholesome and polite, and willing to talk politics and unions before, during, and after? The ladies of Madison, Wisconsin will debate at the drop of a hat! Like muscles and stamina? Our pro-sports teams have off-seasons, and sometimes our fellas get bored and would love to meet up with some European policy wonkettes! 

Once this thing takes off, the tax implications are incredible. We could pay down the debt. You can’t outsource living genitalia when it’s right at home. There is nothing outside of our borders that can compare to a young God-fearing debutante, or a fresh-faced Christian quarterback. Best of all, you’ve got droves of them in your party, and if you told them they’d be helping to defeat Obama, I’m willing to bet they’d get with the program mighty quick!

We’d have to have a sea-change in our sexual mores, of course. ‘Prostitute’ is an unpleasant and clinical term and should be replaced with something softer and more pleasing: Pleasure Professional. Senator. Pleasure Deacon. Something along those lines. 

The best part? Government regulation. Yes, I’ve already foreseen the possibility that we might give rise to massive sexual conglomerates that kill all healthy competition and funnel their profits to tax havens. There will be no lobbyists, no CEOs with ties to big government, no tax holidays. This will all be done by a the new Department of Pleasure Provision. Uncle Sam will get his share and we will pay off that debt!

I’d like to talk a little more, but I’m hearing some ominous thumping noises at the back door. I think the eff-bee-eye have tracked down my signal, and I’m sure they didn’t appreciate me beaming in during a Patriot game. So I’ll be going now and don’t worry about me - there’s a tricked up little Civic with a motor like a f-15 jammed up inside and they don’t stand a chance of catching me! 

Vote for a steady course and a legalized adult playland. Vote for a Campbell/Flint ticket! Vote for fluid exchange we can believe in!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Photos from the weekend

This is a Costa Rican Owl Butterfly next to my hand. My hand is not small.
    Not much happened this weekend. It was beautiful, not rainy, so we went to the park, and went to the lookout where all the tourists go. We fed ducks and did lots of family stuff.

   We went to Stanley Park yesterday because the park staff were giving a talk on raccoons. Let me tell you something about those little black-masked bastards - they're smart, have opposable thumbs, and can problem solve. If they figure out how to unlock your raccoon-proof garbage can, they will somehow teach that skill to other raccoons in the neighbourhood. I can almost see three hundred years in the future, where we're all retarded internet denizens, completely insensate, and human-sized raccoons are harvesting our physical bodies for meat. I bet we taste pretty good to something that considers stale cookies and stolen dogfood a treat.

Feeding ducks and an American Coot.
A lovely scene that belies their violence.
That view I mentioned. Please click.
 My wife parked the van while I took the two boys on a hike around Lost Lagoon. The older one was being a twit and holding back, so I texted my wife to keep an eye out for him and took the younger one along the path.

  There was a sharp, rippling shriek, and a bestial hiss from the bushes by the shore. We went closer; I imagined that a skunk or raccoon had taken on a goose for a challenge.

  We looked into the bushes. Some idiot had taken a large box of cream-filled cookies and dogfood and put it in the bushes. Two enormously fat raccoons were stuffing their faces.

  Later on, the park staff complained to us that the Stanley Park raccoons had become diurnal (active during  the day) and were at risk of becoming diabetic from all the sweets they were eating (this is a downtown park). I'm not worried about them. They're becoming like us and one day they're going to want a twitter feed. They just want  piece of the action.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Win a Night with Tim Tebow

Spend the night with TIM TEBOW!

This Saturday, February 5th, 2012, in Indianapolis, as the Saints face off against the mighty upstarts, the Denver Broncos, the NFL is auctioning off its most precious resource for charity. For the kids! 

We’re selling tickets now so no one will miss out on this outstanding opportunity! Go to http://climbmounttim.com to buy’em before they run out! Tickets are $150 dollars each. There is no by limit, so the more you buy, the greater the chance you’ll win. There can be only one woman. 

Tim Tebow is 6’3” and 245 fat-free pounds of untouched Christian wilderness, and a week after the Superbowl he’ll be all yours for the taking! 

If you win Saturday’s draw, you will be flown to Denver the following Friday to stay at the Denver Ritz-Carlton. That evening, you’ll be treated to a make-over courtesy of the experts at Sephora Beauty, a free massage from the Ritz-Carlton Spa, and a $2000 shopping trip to Mona Lucero and Twice as Haute. 

On Saturday morning, Tim Tebow himself will pick you up at your hotel. Take your tongues off the floor, ladies! He’s not coming to your room until later that evening. A whole day of Tim-time awaits you. 

First, a moment of mutual tebowing in the Curtis street lobby of the Ritz (offer void if participant refuses to tebow). Then it’s off to Summit Church to meet Tim’s pastor. There’ll be loads of fun bible study, a rousing round of Speaking in Tongues (Participant is permitted to speak gibberish if she does not feel The Spirit), and a quick round of song with the Summit Church Grandmother’s Chorale, which is among the many groups Tim’s charity supports. 

A quick lunch (Refreshments provided by the Ladies’ Auxiliary. You’ve never tasted cucumber sandwiches like these!), and then to the gym to watch Tim work out. Feast your eyes as he does the Monster Tire Jump! Revel in his manly triceps as he tebows yet again! But don’t worry, ladies, he’s going to leave a little something extra just for you! 

That evening, after dinner at the Elway restaurant in the Ritz, you and Tim will head up the honeymoon suite, and there you will take possession of Tim’s highly-prized virtue *,**,***,****! 

* A Condom must be used. For his protection, not yours. 
** Participant must sign a waiver that acknowledges a refusal to press a suit in the event that Tim 1) fails to perform 2) his prayers for performance are not answered 3) weeps in shame 4) tebows all night. 
*** Enjoy your conquest while you can, because  the moment Tim comes home, he will be signing an abstinence pledge, which these days is a good as a virginity ring.
**** In the event of Tim being unable to attend for reasons of illness, injury, or uncontrollable fear, Demaryius Thomas will substitute. He’s not untouched. 

Lulu the Cat

Many years ago, sometimes during the mid-nineties when I was perpetually in school, one of my best friends in the music faculty asked me something.

“Mac,” he said. “You know anything ‘bout cats?”

I looked at him. He was a heavily built Italian guy, with jet black hair and a brilliant smile that he’d had even as a baby. In the time he’d been at school, he’d gotten to know the backstage guys, got keys to every door in the building and kept them in a ring on his belt, and had a small female labour pool who warmed his bed, did his homework, and helped him learn his music. God had given him so much in his way with people, and somehow God, in His infinite wisdom, had given him a mild learning disability. He couldn’t read music. 

That year he’d become the general dogsbody for our music teacher. He did things for people, free of charge. Whenever he asked me for a favour, I jumped at the chance; I had to somehow pay him back for all his meals I’d eaten, the drinks he’d bought, all the millions of things he’d done. Now he was asking me something about cats. 

“I had cats when I was kid,” I said. “I guess I know a few things.”

“David wants me to take his cat to the vet. It needs shots or something, I dunno. They gave me a list for the vet to read. Help me bring it to the vet?”

“Absolutely,” I said eagerly.

We took a cab over to our teacher’s apartment. David and his wife were big, hard-working, and very hard drinking Southerners. They had a house in Vermont, but they’d done their best to make the Saint Catherine’s street two-bedroom a home: A black baby grand, a wall full of mirrors (I was told they made a place look larger), autographed posters, enormous poofy couches, shag carpets, and (this was something many people had remarked on and it had never been explained) black candles on the dining room table. 

When we arrived, the gigantic Lulu waddled daintily out to meet us. She was black and white, a mixed breed, but carried herself like a prize-winning Persian. Anthony stood back as I scratched Lulu behind the ears and then unceremoniously rammed her into a carrier. 

To this day I don’t know why David and his wife sent Anthony, a big Italian who throughout his life never had so much as a pet rock, to oversee the medical care of their prize kitty. A few years later, I heard that they’d hired an untrained music student to care for David’s senile and incontinent mother in-law, but that’s another story. 

The vet was a burly man with a heavy gallic moustache. He tossed poor Lulu onto his metal examining table, shoving his large hairy fingers into here and there, taking her temperature, and finally giving her several needles into the bulging nape of her neck. Lulu, although a mouser of reputed savagery and sadism, lay there and peed herself, her furry limbs spread like a dead octopus over the smooth stainless steel.  The vet had an Italian name and Anthony chatted with him (“E voi che siete Italiano?”). I knew just enough Italian to remember this exchange, while the vet was weighing Lulu. 

“Thirteen pounds. That’s a very heavy cat,” said the vet.

“You should see the owners,” said Anthony.

We left. Anthony had paid the vet bill and put the receipt into an envelope. On the cab ride back, Anthony bent down and took a look at Lulu inside the cat carrier.

“Did the vet give the cat a sedative or something?”

“No. Why?”

“Because she’s so quiet.”

On the way to the vet, she’d cried unhappily with a high, kittenish meow that belied her size. Now she was quiet as a stone and stared straight out the window. She didn’t seem angry. 

We got back to David’s apartment. Lulu emerged from the carrier, and seemed to grow and fluff out as she put the vet’s big and knobby hands out of her mind. I looked around the kitchen, opened a small pantry, and there, against the wall, were several hundred cans of Fancy Feast. I opened one and poured it into Lulu’s bowl. The meat, or whatever it was, came out the same shape as the can, with the can’s metal striations shiny, perfect, and straight against the wet mess of cat food. Lulu dug into her food. Her tail rose in pleasure, and I noticed something down there. I bent over to take a closer look.

Sticking unobtrusively out of Lulu’s ass was the vet’s rectal thermometer. 

“Jesus,” I said. I grasped it, pulled, and it slid firmly out. I stood there for a moment, aghast, upset, and as of yet unaware that later in the day I would tell of this several times and I would be laughed at, by both my friends and Lulu’s owners. After a moment, I went to the sink, and washed catshit off the thermometer. As the person whom Anthony had designated as a animal expert, I felt ashamed and somehow responsible that Lulu got violated. 

I placed the thermometer, spanking clean, on the coffee table with a note. Dear David, The vet left his thermometer up Lulu. Here it is  - Mac. PS. Don’t worry, I washed it.

A few years later, I heard that David’s mother left Lulu outside all night during a Vermont winter. In the morning, all that was left of her was a pile of snow against the patio door with two little eyes peeking out. Lulu survived that as well.