Saturday, 12 March 2011

Queer Boy is Moving House

Well, moving to a new site, at any rate.

Those of you following me here exclusively may have noticed that I haven't been all that active lately. I've been a little distracted by setting up a new site, something more professional with everything under one roof. A place not only for my blog, but for my writing and my art, a place where I can sell my work rather than simply talking about it. I give you:

I'll still leave this blog up, letting it float in cyberspace for those curious few who will stumble upon it. But I'll also start reposting my old posts from the archives here to my new blog. The plan is to shift one over every Monday, and to include some follow-up commentary where my opinions have changed over time.

Look for me at my new site. I promise it will be at least as entertaining as this one!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Outside Looking In

This is where I am most of the time, on the outside of life, watching it go past and wondering what it's all about. I have always been an observer, and a recorder of observations. It's not really something I chose; it's a part of my nature.

Have you ever had the most intense realization about the most mundane things? Thinks like: I'm eating pizza that I made myself. I have been overwhelmed by such realizations. On some level, of course I understood not only that there was pizza, but that I'd made it and that I was now eating it. It's not as though I'd somehow failed to grasp this concept entirely. It's just that for a split second I was somehow aware of how incredible it is that a universe where pizza is possible even exists, and I was in awe. I somehow switched from 'participant' to 'observer' in my own life.

Or perhaps it was the other way around, or both at once. Perhaps I went from going through the motions to being acutely aware of my own participation in life. Whatever it was, I found myself looking at that pizza as though it held all the answers to life, the universe and everything (which is ridiculous since it didn't look a thing like 42.)

The pizza isn't the point. The point is that there is something in my nature that allows me to shift perspective at the drop of a hat. Life is constantly a case of looking at a vase and suddenly seeing two faces, and I think this is why I write. Scratch that. I don't 'think', I know. I write because no matter how much I find myself on the outside of life looking in, what I see is so fascinating that I must find some way of capturing it, recording it in such a way that I might be able to share at least a fraction of it. I write because the only other option is to sit here watching the world go by.

Do you ever have moments like this? Do you find yourself on the outside looking in? Alternately, why do you write?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Shameless Self-Promotion

I'll admit that I'm not a fan of pimping myself, but to make it in this industry it's something I have to get used to doing. And right now, pimping myself is exactly what I need to do.

I'm not going to lie; I'm looking at some hard times here. I'm about to lose my job and though I'm searching for freelance work, it's not something I can rely on, at least not yet. My savings won't save me, and there's only so long I can keep the student loans folks away. And so, I come asking for help.

However! I'm not looking to get something for nothing. Life doesn't work that way and I don't expect it to. Now in my former life I wasn't a writer, but an artist! Well, I still am an artist though my focus has shifted. So, in return for your kind help, I'll draw you a picture of anything you want. Seriously. Anything. Ink on Bristol plate, 9"x12" (or 12"x9" if you prefer)... that's starting to sound pretty nice, isn't it? Of course it is! And we're talking full colour illustrations here, HD even.

I also have seven gorgeous pairs of earrings for sale. Each pair is unique, hand-crafted from sterling silver and coloured glass beads. Look at them and tell me you don't want some for yourself. Or if not for yourself, than for that stylish someone you know who will really love them.

Do you see something else on the site that you absolutely must have? Shoot me an e-mail and we'll talk: .

Please, check it out. Treat yourself to something shiny and tell all your friends where you got it, and you'll make me a very happy man.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

February the Fifth

I wanted to do this without making comparisons to other books, I really did, but when it comes right down to it, my first impression of Derek Haines' new book February the Fifth is the one that stuck with me. February the Fifth is like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets Sir Apropos of Nothing, which is to say, my kind of twisted.

You have the young fool who has no business being a success at anything, yet ends up being very important to the future of the Twelve Sun Systems of Gloth. You also have the Supreme Potentate more-or-less stealing a ship in order to find the truth on a distant and wholly unremarkable planet. And, just to make things interesting, several puns revolving around the Gregorian calendar. If you're anything like me, this all adds up to a fun and humorous story, perfect for making people question your sanity while you're giggling over it on the bus.

I say go check it out! Get February the Fifth at Amazon or at Smashwords.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

What's In A Name? Part IV

Guess what arrived in the mail the other day? A shiny new name change certificate! (Or, Certificate of Change of Name, because of course we can't do it the easy way, can we?)

This happened both faster and slightly cheaper than I expected. Remember that $200+ fee I was quoted at the beginning? It was more like $175.00(plus the $25.00 fingerprint processing fee, but we'd already figured that one in.) I was also told, I believe, 4-6 weeks before I could expect it to arrive. Less than two weeks later, there it is!

The registry agent told me it would be all pink and purple, and "pretty enough to frame." And you know what? It really is. It's not something that most people have hanging on their walls, at least. So now I have a certificate, with just slightly less security features than your typical $5 bill, proclaiming me to be me, rather than that other person who was running around with my life.

Of course,(and isn't that always the way?) this was actually the easy part. I still need to go through all the steps to get my name changed on my photo ID, with my phone, with my bank, on my passport... What fun, yes? Oh, and with Alberta Heathcare, at my doctor's, on my prescriptions...

Friday, 28 January 2011

Because You Could Live Off Borscht

I really do think that, with this recipe at least, one could live off Borscht for quite a long time. It has all the protein, fat, fibre and vitamins a body could need! Ok, don't quote me on that. I have only a vague idea of what constitutes a balanced, nutritious diet, but I still think that if all you had to eat was this Borscht, you'd be doing pretty well.

Now, unlike the previous recipes I've put up here in some premature, experimental state, this one is tried, tested and true. Seriously, I eat this all the time and I've yet to get sick of it. It also changes a bit each time I make it, based on what I have or what I forgot, so you get more of a general guide line than a proper recipe. But that's ok. Vague recipes are a Mennonite tradition, and this one comes down the line from the Mennonite side of my family. And again, mine is probably a little different than my mom's, and hers is different from my grandma's.

I start by making a nice beef stock by boiling soup bones in a big pot of water. And I mean a big pot, not the sauce pan that you can get away with for a pack of KD or a can of soup. Look for soup bones that have some meat on them; you'll want to add that meat later. The process here is pretty simple. Put soup bones in the pot, fill at least half-way with water, set it to boil, and simmer with the lid on for a few hours or "until ready."

Now you take it off the heat, remove the soup bones and set them aside. If you've got time to let the broth sit and cool for a while, do that. Even better if you can leave it in the fridge over night, as that makes it particularly easy to skim the fat off the top(seriously, when chilled in the fridge, I can just grab the solid chunks off the top with a pair of tongs.) Otherwise, use a spoon to skim off the fat and put it in whatever grease collecting container you use for disposal or whatever. I mean, if you want you can always make soap out of it later.

Once you have your broth, put about five to eight(or, you know, however many you like) black peppercorns and a bay leaf in a spice ball and drop it in, adding a generous sprinkling of dill to the broth while you're at it. Start it a-boiling and a-simmering again while you chop and add your vegetables.

My understanding of Borscht is that it must contain cabbage and beets, but what do I know? Mine typically contains cabbage, beets, onion, carrot, rutabaga, potato and a can of diced tomatoes. About half the time I forget the tomatoes and/or the potato, but the rest is there for sure. The rutabaga is my own addition to the recipe for the simple reason that I like rutabaga. Yummy rutabaga... What? Right. Anyway. You can pretty much use whatever combination of root vegetables you like or have on hand. Chop up a good amount of each (I'm talking like, one large carrot, one russet potato, half a large rutabaga etc.) into bite-size pieces. Add each vegetable as you chop it, giving it a stir as you do. Add the can of tomatoes(if you haven't done like I did and forgot it.)

While that's simmering away, take the soup bones you set aside earlier and remove the meat. Do this however works best for you; use a knife, your bare hands, a combination thereof, whatever. Your goal is to separate the good meat from the bone, fat and other gristle. Add the meat to the Borscht and let that simmer a little bit longer, giving an occasional stir when you check on it.

You can always add some water at any point if the level has gotten too low. Any excess liquid will boil off, and you really can't kill this.

Serve hot. I always have a bowl or two right when I finish and before I store the rest.

For storage, I usually freeze mine in 1L mason jars, but you can use whatever works best for you. If you do like I do, you've got to do it carefully. Freezer plus glass equals glass shards if it isn't done properly, something I sacrificed four jars to find out. The fact that I still ate those batches is entirely beside the point...

The first rule is to never go quickly from hot to cold. Let the Borscht cool at least to room temperature, or let it chill in the fridge first. The second rule is to leave about an inch of space at the top, and don't seal it completely right away. You want to give the Borscht space to expand as it freezes. You can always screw the tops down properly the next day.

Now, after what you just ate, you probably have a good three litres of Borscht that will keep for however long you need. Sometimes mine makes it a full two week before it disappears.

Share and enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Momentum And Why I Need It

This is perhaps the most fitting time for me to tackle the subject, since I seem to have stalled out on the blog a bit. It was looking pretty good for a while there too, wasn't it? Every couple of days, something new.

But then I let myself take a break. I told myself, "Eh, I'll write it tomorrow." "Ran out of time." "Next time I have a good night's sleep, I'll be able to post something." (Note that once sleep-deprived, it is very difficult for me to have a "good night's sleep" for quite a while.) What it comes down to is I made a lot of excuses for why I didn't post something and I let myself get in the habit of not posting instead of what I wanted to do, which was get into the habit of posting a lot. I didn't keep up my momentum. Now, it is totally possible to recover from lost momentum. I've done it. I did it when I pulled out that old novel idea for NaNoWriMo, and I'm doing it again now. And honestly, it's not that hard once I get started. Hence the momentum bit.

Maybe this isn't a problem for you. Maybe you've solved it already and are totally task-oriented, able to pump out content daily as a matter of course. But maybe, just maybe this is a problem for you, too. It's ok, I know. The secret is momentum. Each day, every day, I need to at least be actively thinking about my writing, by blogging, my book reviews, because if I don't, it can take me a long time to get back to it. Ideally, I'm actually doing something towards each of these things daily.

Yes, I slip up at times. But for the most part, I'm succeeding. Not a day goes by that I don't add at least a few words to my novel, or take down a fiddling plot point. Yes, it's been at least a week since my last blog post, but look at my previous dry-spell that lasted a good three months. The trick is to kick your butt into gear before too much time has passed and you forget that you even had anything going on. What's the best way to do that? Keep at it every day. Live it. Breathe it. Dream about it.

Whatever you do, don't lose momentum. But if you do, just be sure to pick it back up again as quick as possible.

For more about why blogging is awesome and some tips on how to go about it, check out Kristen Lamb's series on blogging starting here. And if you want to check out the rest of her stuff, I totally encourage that, too.