Falling

Fall is officially here and I can feel it in the mornings when I bike to work. I wear a jacket and gloves to work but usually have them off when I return home. The days are beautiful, though, with wonderfully blue skies and warmth in most afternoons. The weather just seems so screwed up lately. I mean with so much rain and cool days this summer and now beautiful days for the fall. Since it is only day to day weather it’s difficult to judge whether this is global warming or not. Of course Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth shows alarming evidence for warmer summers coming more often but this summer is an aberration that way. But I think it’s only a weird oddity and that Global Warming is going to be an unenviable fact for our children’s and grand children’s lives.
As we’re in an election here in Canada, we’ve been hearing a lot about the environment. I’ve heard a lot of criticism about the proposed carbon tax of the liberals. The NDP and Green’s have similar ideas. I’m not sure about the PC’s but I wouldn’t trust them to follow through anyway. I feel strongly that any avoidance of a carbon tax or pollution penalty is so irresponsible as to be near criminal. There will have to be some kind of economic reckoning soon no matter what we decide. Certainly we will be faced with our children thinking we have been incredibly selfish and shortsighted. I’m positive they’ll be in the midst of having to be make far more devastating sacrifices for our lack of responsibility for our tiny, crowded planet.  So as we move into the season of fall I think about the biblical fall and how, perhaps, it might be actually a prophecy and not an account of the past.  Maybe we’re losing our paradise right now because of our sins of failed stewardship.

Finished my novel

Three words I didn’t expect to say. But now I can. Actually I’ve been finished for a while but I’ve been editing it so saying it’s finished sounds wrong but the main writing effort is done. I have read the whole thing through for continuity and made quite a few corrections but that wasn’t enough. I’m halfway through reading it out loud to the boys and I’ve caught more errors and other issues. That whole oral process of telling your story aloud to an audience (even if it is a small one) is an excellent way to find issues. Speaking of my audience, they seem to like it so far but they are not the harshest of critics. Once I’m through this stage I’ll be giving it out to some serious target readers. I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say about it.
One of the biggest problems was knowing where to cut the book off. I did take a chunk out of the first book and put it in a file for the second book if I ever get that far. There are, I think, enough ideas for a trilogy but that decision is down the road a bit.
I plan to self-publish. I have friends who have done that and I like the idea of the control you have. I also have friends who’ve had problems going with a professional publishing company. These days, I feel, authors are treated very much like commodities. I don’t like the idea of being a cog in a corporate machine. I’m not under any illusions that this book must bring me fame and fortune. If it does and I do it myself than so much the better. But if it doesn’t then I will treat it the way it should be treated: as a stepping stone to improving myself as an author.
While I’m going through the throes of publishing I’m planning on working on a short story in an entirely different vein. I am planning it as a break.

Surviving Extreme Altitudes

As I was doing a little research on the effect of high altitude on humans I came across this article and I was amazed at the anecdote about a young man from Cuba who had stowed away in the wheel well of a jet airliner bound for Spain in 1969. Just to put it into perspective, Everest is almost 9 km above sea level and few have been known to be able to work at that height for longer than 15 minutes without extra oxygen. Our blood just can’t absorb sufficient oxygen at that height. This airliner probably cruised at between twice and three times that height. A truly remarkable story.

Jack Cheese

Amber and Leo recently put out the 65th episode of the Net at Night podcast. They interviewed Dean Whitbread who does John Cleese’s website. I love Net at Night and enjoyed this particular episode very much. One interesting point of trivia came out of it: John Cleese’s father changed this name from ‘Cheese’ so when you see postings on Cleese’s site from Jack Cheese now you know the source.

Miel para Oshún

This is a movie about a man who returns to Cuba, the land of his birth, to try to find his mother after 30 years.  I didn’t have great expectations about it since my parents gave it to me and they usually aren’t the International Cinema types. I wonder if they watched it. At first this 2001 movie struck me as just more Latin American melodrama.  I was cooking supper when Karen started watching it in the living room.  After burning some stuff I ended up on the couch, rapt, and enjoying this powerful film. The English title is Honey for Oshun but since it is unabashedly in Spanish with English subtitles you might as well use the original name.
It was so good that I had to watch the beginning again after it was over. There are amazing performances by Jorge Perugorría as Roberto from Miami, Isabel Santos as his cousin Pilar who stayed behind and Mario Limonta as Antonio. Another great feature of this film is the wonderful scenery of Cuba, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. The three main characters are on one of the most trying road trips ever and trying to find a needle in a big haystack. Even though Roberto goes through hell, I was never left with the idea that it was because it was Cuba. If anything we’re shown the people of Cuba to be bound together in amazingly supportive and loving communities.
A surprisingly excellent story and film that I can recommend enough.

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival – 20th Anniversary

The main part of the festival occurred on the afternoon of Sunday September 7 and I saw the following writers read from their work:

  • Elspeth Cameron
  • David Chariandy
  • Rebecca Rosenblum
  • Alma Fullerton
  • Kenneth Oppel
  • Arthur Slade
  • Sheree-Lee Olson
  • Robert Sawyer
  • Anita Rau Badami
  • Karen Schindler
  • Carin Mukuz
  • Sylvia Markle-Craine
  • Kaite Ewing
  • Alistair MacLeod
  • Paul Quarrington
  • Leon Rooke

Quite the line up of interesting readings. I enjoyed them all but I especially liked David Chariandy, Kenneth Oppel, Arthur Slade, Robert Sawyer, Sylvia Markle-Craine, Alistair MacLeod, Paul Quarrington and Leon Rooke. Kenneth Oppel and Arthur Slade were both engaging readers of their young adult fiction. Oppel read from the intriguing Starclimber from his alternate Earth and Slade from the funny and well characterized Jolted. I bought Megiddo’s Shadow which is one of Slade’s books. I’m part way through it and enjoying it although I’m not a big war fiction fan. I really want to read Jolted but it was sold out.
Robert J. Sawyer read from Rollback which I recently read. It looked like he read from a blackberry or i-pod touch or something, holding that in one outstretched hand while dramatically reading. He was excellent and performed one of the pivotal parts of the book with great feeling. I went to Eden Mills to support my friend, Sylvia, AND to see one of my favourite Hard SF writers: Robert J. Sawyer. He did not disappoint. While walking to one of the next events I talked to him a bit and he’s coming out with the first book in a trilogy called Wake in April. I can’t wait.
Sylvia did a wonderful job on her Donny Crow story. I was envious of the style and relaxed way she read this emotional story about a man lost after the death of his wife. A beautiful story especially if you read the story that immediately comes after it that she recently published in Swimming to Fatima.
Paul Quarrington and Leon Rooke capped off a great day with their stories about beginning writers who have taken a writing course. Both touching and hilarious at the same time I was impressed with their reading ability. Rooke, especially, took on this bombastic American accent which fit his story beautifully and had many of us laughing so hard there were tears in our eyes.

The Machinist

What can I say but WOW. This is an amazing movie but oh so difficult to watch. Directed by Brad Anderson from a script by Scott Kosar, it is a psychological thriller that delves deep into the heart of someone, who is essentially moral, trying to come to grips with his past. Christian Bale is so skinny in his Trevor Reznik role that he is painful to look at. For those who only know him for his invigorating reprise of the Batman role, you should him in 3:10 to Yuma or in this role: the man is an incredibly talented actor. I also thought Jennifer Jason Leigh was flawless as Stevie and John Sharian was way cool as Ivan.
This is most definitely not a movie for the kids but it is an important film and one that can be easily dismissed because of some of the harsher elements that make it up. But, for those with sincere interest in realism and honesty in film, you simply can’t do much better. Certainly, my wife and I will be thinking about it for a while.
Highly recommended.

Here’s an interesting quote from the IMDB site:

The Machinist’s writer, Scott Kossar, loves “Nine Inch Nails” and his original script had a quote from their lyrics on the first page. He always wanted the soundtrack to be written by NIN, but the director didn’t want the movie to go in that direction. Nine Inch Nails’ only official member is Trent Reznor, thus the name of Christian Bale’s Character, Trevor Reznik.

I’d love to know what the quote is. I wonder if it was from my favourite NIN song, Hurt. Probably not but I haven’t been able to find out for sure.