Monthly Archives: May 2011

Art Review: Ken Lum Ho Hum

On the weekend I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and looked at different shows, including Ken Lum’s art. Even back when I attended art college I had a hard time believing that anything tossed anywhere (such as the cow patties in the foyer) were actually art. Maybe they were political or social commentaries but were they art? It’s one of the great debates and I know there is such over Lum’s work. Perhaps by that fact alone he’s a great artist. But, I don’t get it.

Ken Lum's sign art

Lum is known, I guess, for his sign art. My friend said she could have easily been driving down Kingsway looking at the car shops and fast food joints and little shops that festoon that strip. Except these have a “but…” afterward with a political statement or a social one. When I drive down to Oregon on the east side of the I5 highway there is a giant billboard owned by some Republican who usually leaves a right-wing (half nonsensical) message. I guess that’s art  too. The example to the left made up about a third of Lum’s show. Sleak…signs…with not what I’d call a super witty revelation on any of them. I will give that one or two of them I thought were funny.

This might have been the most interesting of the ones I saw...

Another of his series were large boards again with a person pictured on one side and a phrase often repeated on the other. Such as the one of a woman with a French phrase book that went something like this: Je/Je suis/Je suis Canadienne/Je suis Americaine/Je suis Francais/Je/Je suis…etc. The pictures aren’t beautiful and they’re not even really ugly. They’re not stunningly executed in the way photography can be showing the real ugliness or beauty of the world. They’re of the street and could have been snapped by anyone. If Lum wants to show the banality of life, he’s succeeded. I was left with this expression: meh. It made me want to take two weeks off, get some paint and posters and pictures and slap stuff together and see if I can have a show in the VAG as well. I mean, sometimes the difference between successful art and that which isn’t has nothing to do with quality. It depends on whether someone in “the know”–a curator, a rich collector, an art faddist decides something is good.

There were a few couches and sofa beds pushed together and piled high, or enclosed so that they were inaccessible to be sat upon. This is part of Lum’s statement and while I could understand it I’m not sure three made more of a point. From a strictly sculptural point of view I didn’t mind them. Oh and we touched the red circular couch. Gasp! Right away a guard was telling us not to touch because gosh, couches shouldn’t be touched. And after the couch has made its round, well it’ll probably be in someone’s private collection or a secondhand store.

Lum might be known best in Vancouver for the giant neon white cross that looms over East Van like a doomsday device. Horizontally, the letters spell Van, vertically, East. It is either East Van or Van East and supposedly hearkens back to that East Van pride days of your when gangs of young Italian Catholic men roamed the streets. This romanticism and fake geographic pride drives me nuts. I live in East Van and today, not 50 years ago is where we are where there is a multi ethnic, multi religious (or none) community. I don’t feel I should be dominated by a huge Christian symbol and if Lum really wanted to make a statement about East Van he should have put a yellow neon sickle moon, next to a green pentacle, next to some agnostic sign. Regaling in some symbol supposedly used by gangs before all the other ethnic gangs moved in (not that there are that many) seems absurd at best. It certainly seems like an ignorant erection in a time of many other religious beliefs being practiced. But if Lum wanted to evoke conversation and feelings, he succeeded. However, to do so in such an obtrusively permanent way is galling.

The one other piece in the gallery was a large glass maze, done in triangles. As you walked through it etched statements would show in the glass. These had to do with self-worth and image. As a fractured personality and the way we view ourselves this was well-executed and brilliantly done.

But overall I have to say Lum’s pieces leave me cold, except for the East Van cross, which raises my ire.

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Writing: Shopping for an Editor

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I recently rejected an author’s manuscript and gave him the possibility of rewriting and resubmitting at a later date; a very rare thing to do both. At Chizine Publications we ask for three or four sample chapters and a short synopsis. I had already asked the author to send the full manuscript, after he made corrections, fixed grammar and numerous homophonic typos (bare/bear, to/two, hare/hair, staid/stayed, etc.), as well as adding details to certain sections that I had read.

When I read through the full manuscript I found many of the same errors and it looked like little had been changed if anything at all. Editors have many manuscripts to read, and day jobs on top of it in most cases. We get irritated when people don’t follow instructions, which can be anything from not submitting in the correct manuscript format, to sending inappropriate material, to not making an effort to correct what we ask for. Of course, a writer can ignore all of these things and just send to someone else.

I concluded that the writer needed to learn grammar and punctuation better and overall, story structure, but feeling his story had worth I gave a caveat of retrying with a rewrite, in time, but not right away. He wrote back and was surprised to learn that most publishers don’t give feedback nor mark the manuscript unless they’re buying the story (I had done both).  I also explained my irritation at which point he apologized because he had felt rushed and hired an editor to do the changes requested.

I sincerely hope he didn’t pay the editor that much because I don’t know what that editor did. He/she certainly did not read the sentences to catch the homophone typos, nor to check the sentence structure and catch the run-on sentences. It is possible that the author asked the editor to make corrections in regards to my notes. If that was the case then my notes only gave examples, not the full extent of what was needed.

If I’d been given such a job as a copy editor I would have been fixing those sentences. I’ve found with a few other clients that they had gone to bigger, more expensive editors first, paid out a ton of money and came back with a manuscript measled with errors. Anyone who takes on copy editing (this is different from structural editing) should look for grammar, typo and punctuation errors as the most basic step. If one is a structural editor then you’re looking at the overall plot and structure of the story.

Almost everyone can use a second set of eyes to catch errors because our fingers like to type different words than our brains think. I often put down for done or type meanign instead of meaning. And then there is the too close to the forest to see the trees syndrome. If you’ve written something and gone over it a few times you might miss a scene or a description that the reader needs to be able to understand the story.

If I was hiring an editor I would lace in a couple of different errors in a sample page or three and see what they caught. But that only works if you understand grammar and sentence structure enough. As it was, this writer left too much to an unknown quantity and didn’t check over the manuscript first so he ended up with many errors. He would have had to flesh out his own scenes because an editor cannot necessarily write in the same style nor know where the writer’s mind is for the story.

I sometimes wonder why I don’t charge more when I see the work done by more expensive editors. Like anything else, there are good and bad editors. Learning how to write will of course save you money and mean you need a copy editor’s services less. Getting comments from an editor, even if you’re rejected, are a plus. Many magazines and even book publishers send out form rejections that say something like, “This didn’t work for us.” If you get comments, if you get an invite to resubmit and rewrite, take it seriously and feel lucky that you got that far. Magazine and book publishers always have limited spots are there are always other good works on their way so don’t take any feedback for granted.

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Writing: Aurora Award Nominees

The nominees for the Aurora Award were unveiled a week ago. These are Canada’s awards in the speculative genre and is voted on by the public. There is also the Sunburst Award, a juried award for adult and YA novels, as well as the Rannu competition for short fiction and poetry. Voting will begin in early June through the Aurora site and I believe there is a small charge like $5.  All ballots must be received by October 15, 2011.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve made it onto the nomination ballot in the poetry category. I thought one of my stories might have made it but there is very stiff competition and many more published stories than speculative poems. Still, it’s nice to add the small feather to my cap. I’ve also found out another poem “Shadow Realms” will be coming out in Witches & Pagans #23. It was my poem “Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” in Witches & Pagans #21,  that was nominated for the Aurora.

Other writing news is that my story “A Book By Its Cover,” a SF horror story, has just been accepted for the Mirrorshards anthology to be published by Bad Moon Books. I’ll find out more later. Now, a lovely list of talented Canadian nominees follows. Check out the writings of these people.

 Professional Awards

 Best English Novel

Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell, Great Plains Publications
Destiny’s Blood
by Marie Bilodeau, Dragon Moon Press
Stealing Home
by Hayden Trenholm, Bundoran Press
Under Heaven
by Guy Gavriel Kay, Viking Canada
Watch
by Robert J. Sawyer, Penguin Canada

Best English Short Story

“The Burden of Fire” by Hayden Trenholm, Neo-Opsis #19
“Destiny Lives in the Tattoo’s Needle”
by Suzanne Church, Tesseracts Fourteen, EDGE
“The Envoy”
by Al Onia, Warrior Wisewoman 3, Norilana Books
“Touch the Sky, They Say”
by Matt Moore, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, November
“Your Beating Heart” b
y M. G. Gillett, Rigor Amortis, Absolute Xpress

Best English Poem / Song

“The ABCs of the End of the World” by Carolyn Clink, A Verdant Green, The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box
“Let the Night In” by Sandra Kasturi, Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, EDGE
“Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” by Colleen Anderson, Witches & Pagans #21
“The Transformed Man” by Robert J. Sawyer, Tesseracts Fourteen, EDGE
“Waiting for the Harrowing” by Helen Marshall, ChiZine 45

Best English Graphic Novel

Goblins, Tarol Hunt, goblinscomic.com
Looking For Group, Vol. 3 by Ryan Sohmer and Lar DeSouza
Stargazer, Volume 1 by Von Allan, Von Allan Studio
Tomboy Tara, Emily Ragozzino, tomboytara.com

Best English Related Work

Chimerascope, Douglas Smith (collection), ChiZine Publications
The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, DAW
Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick, EDGE
On Spec, edited by Diane Walton, Copper Pig Writers Society
Tesseracts Fourteen, edited by John Robert Colombo and Brett Alexander Savory, EDGE

Best Artist (Professional and Amateur)

(An example of each artist’s work is listed below but they are to be judged on the body of work they have produced in the award year)

Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, “Brekky” cover art, On Spec Fall
Erik Mohr, cover art for ChiZine Publications
Christina Molendyk, Girls of Geekdom Calendar for Argent Dawn Photography
Dan O’Driscoll, cover art for Stealing Home
Aaron Paquette, “A New Season” cover art, On Spec Spring

Fan/ Amateur Awards

Best Fan Publications

No award will be given out in this category due insufficient eligible nominees

Best Fan Filk

Dave Clement and Tom Jeffers of Dandelion Wine for “Face on Mars” CD
Karen Linsley; concert as SFContario Guest of Honour
Phil Mills, for “Time Traveller” (song writing)

Best Fan Organizational

Andrew Gurudata, organizing the Constellation Awards
Brent M. Jans, chair of Pure Speculation (Edmonton)
Liana Kerzner, chair of Futurecon (Toronto)
Helen Marshall and Sandra Kasturi, chairs of Toronto SpecFic Colloquium (Toronto)
Alex Von Thorn, chair of SFContario (Toronto)

Best Fan Other

Tom Jeffers, Fundraising, FilKONtario
John and Linda Ross Mansfield, Conception of the Aurora Nominee pins
Lloyd Penney, Articles, columns and letters of comment – fanzines

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Book Review: The Damned Busters

Being released this month  from Angry Robot books (a UK division of Harper Collins) is Matthew Hughes‘ new book The Damned Busters, first in the “To Hell and Back” series. I know Matt as a fellow writer in SF Canada, the Canadian professional writers’ association, and have had the chance to read a couple of his stories on Henghis Hapthorn and Luff Imbry. The stories struck me as not just competently written but having a fluid mastery of language and style that leaves me thinking magic is involved. Of course, Henghis is a detective, and I find the best mystery novels are like magic in how the author worked out plot and solutions to dire murders, mysterious disappearances or misleading heists. Matt has already proven himself a master at this.

I didn’t know what to expect from the review copy I received but knew that I’d at least read a masterful story. Whenever I read any book I also look at the quality of the book and publisher. This includes the package as well as the editing. The cover is what I’d call delightful and tells me right away there is going to be humor in this story. It’s done in a cartoony or comic book style that would not work for several titles but I know this is going to include a demon and a superhero. The book is a 5×7 (or close to) trade format, not too large and bulky, and comfortable to hold in the hand.

The editing/proofreading itself is fairly clean with very few errors that my copy editor’s eye picked up. The worst though is misspelling the main character’s name on the back cover. Ouch. There are a few odd word usages such as “sneaked” instead of snuck (one is more British and one more American and since Canadian English is a bastard cross you can just read about it here), and “comix.” We use comics this side of the pond so I can only presume these are UK preferences. Yet the punctuation is distinctly the N. American style so I must presume this is the edition meant for distribution here.

Now, the story. There have been takes on making deals with the devil, with ingenuous twists and some spectacular losses. We start with Chesney Arnstruther and his accidental summoning of a demon. Accidental is new but not outstanding. Where will this go? Sure enough, Chesney, a nerdish actuary who seems to be a person with Asperger syndrome has caused a big fuss in Hell because he refuses to sign the contract or accept the deal. This causes Hell to go on strike. The first three chapters sum up nicely with Chesney, although nerdy and in love with number crunching, managing to work a deal that doesn’t render his soul to Satan. I thought this could have been a short story, or  novelette, and when you read Matt’s afterword the idea did indeed start this way.

This isn’t a bad thing at all and sums up one act within the story arc.  I should mention that Hughes’ characters have fairly Dickensian names, or those that inspire images and feelings about the characters as Dickens’ best work did. Arnstruther evokes someone who might stutter or be ardent but who is not a Trump or a Rothschild of the world. There is the televangelist Reverend Billy Lee Hardacre who is what we would expect but then much more. W.T. Paxton and his beautiful blond daughter Poppy Paxton are Chesney’s foils and possible helpers. Polly (as well as Melda McCann), true to the time-honored tradition of comic book love interests of old like Superman, joins the ranks of the names that repeat the first letter (Lois Lane, Peter Parker, Clark Kent, Lana Lang) and I believe Matt is paying homage to this, but only slightly. I must also believe that with the intelligence and insight that Hughes has given in his other stories that there’s no accident with the Dickensian touch to the names.

Hell and Satan are not that unique in their domain but some of the demon descriptions are, and there is always that touch of the Hughes’ trademark wry humor.  What happens when a mostly anti-social, highly intelligent, pretty good in the good-vs-evil fight  number cruncher makes a deal with the devil? Some would go for fame, riches, power or lust but Chesney chooses to do good as a superhero likened after his favorite comic book, about a UPS courier called The Driver.  And like most heroes, Chesney has a sidekick, a reluctant Jimmy Cagney acting, rum swilling demon named, Xaphan.

But being a superhero isn’t so easy, as Peter Parker well knows, and Chesney must face other demons than Hell’s; a possible manipulation of forces seen but not known, a disgruntled detective and two women who seem to be attracted to the hero uniform.  Chesney thinks it’s all simple and that he’s thought everything out but it gets convoluted, and one deal with the Devil can lead to tricks and traps.

Hughes’ bow to comic books is carried off well. There are also not many writers that can use the word “darkling” where it fits so perfectly, or “wuthering.” Wuthering…I  don’t think anyone has dared to use it since Wuthering Heights.  If there were any faults with this book I would say I don’t really get the title and it seems awkward. Damned, sure that refers to all the goings on with Hell. But Damned Busters? It’s a little vague. I’d also hope where this book has a strong-willed righteous mother and two rather feisty femme fatales who veer some from stereotypes that we might see more variance in  the second book but those are minor quips.

Since I”ve been “sinning” and eating cheese, which I shouldn’t I’ll compare this story to a cheddar cheese (which I do love). It’s not like Velveeta which casts aspersions on the good name of cheese. Nor is it some cheap plasticky, slightly bouncy orange-colored thing. It’s not a Kraft cheese nor one you would find in most chain grocery stores. It is a cheese of respectable lineage from a specialty shop; a tongue tingling, well-aged, firm cheddar where the cows were sung to every morning while they were being milked.  I’d give Damned Busters a solid eight cheese wheels worth of fun and entertainment. A Hell of a good read.

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Fashion Goofs

I think I commented before on the silliness of the baggy pants, nearly-to-your-knees style, where young men belt up the voluminous garment but show their underwear above the belt line. This style is good for skateboarders, for movement and for keeping that tender flesh from being abraded during a fall. It’s not good for much else. But even so, that look is of a particular style that goes together in its own odd way.

Should you take five people and tell them to dress in the same style I bet that only three of those people would get it right or be able to pull it off. Some people do not have the demeanor, fashion sense or the body type for certain looks. These are the fashion goofs. We’ve all seen them; the elderly men with sagging paunches squeezed into a Speedo bathing suit, that woman psychic I saw on TV once who had to be nearing 60 wearing her hair in two ponytails and in very pink frilly dress, Donald Trump’s massively bad comb-over.

I’m going to have to start taking pictures but here are two examples of people I saw who were unable to carry off their fashion choice no matter their confidence in their attire. I was waiting at a local coffee shop for a friend, people-watching those waiting for the bus and there was this guy trying that underwear displaying look. However he had on the equivalent of Bermuda shorts, down to the knee and fairly form fitting. They sat on his hipbone but not as low as the baggy pants style. Above this, as proudly as a peacock, he displayed his version of tighty whiteys. Often worn with the baggy pants are the equally baggy boxer shorts. These were tight and bright red and up to his waist. Yikes! The picture to the left illustrates a ludicrous look with tighty whiteys, baggy pants and a garter!

The second was not eye offending but just not right and would not have even been noticeable except the person wearing the outfit proclaimed herself to be goth. What do we imagine in the realm of goth clothing? Red, black, maybe blue, sometimes white, torn, tight, bodices, laces, frills, leather, studs, Victorian…these are all gothy. This person wore her hair long and straight, with bangs. Okay, gothy…maybe. She wore, I think, some mascara and a lipstick in the darker colors but not red nor burgundy. She always wore jeans, black, straight legged with black runners (tennis shoes). Her blouses might have had a bit of ruffle to them. All of this together does not speak goth. Although her clothing was nondescript enough and didn’t look bad on her, in no way did she resemble a goth. Her work outfits differed little from her leisure wear and the only goth was in her head.

Possibly the people who proclaim loudly they are of a group, or fashionable are those who try just a bit too hard. I’ve had female friends that look terrible in dresses because the walk like men. They’ve learned not to wear those garments. On the other hand perhaps these people should be applauded for not caring what others think. Still some eye-offending outfits would be better left to nightmares than reality.

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Vancouver Lives On as the No Fun City

Ever wonder why Vancouver, BC, home of the 2010 Olympics, wild outback of early lumber and gold rush thrills got the moniker of the “No Fun City”? Well, I have because I live here. Did it get this label because of a lack of venues for the arts, whether paintings, dance, acting or music or was it that everything closed down early?

Well, it’s some of both, plus more. Restaurants usually have to stop serving alcohol at 11:30 and close by midnight. Other clubs have to close by 2 am, unless you’re on the downtown strip, which stays open till 3 am but then you have to deal with other issues such as drunk 20-somethings fighting. Taxis are expensive, parking more so. Transit doesn’t run often enough, with the SkyTrain stopping around 12:30. If they ran the SkyTrain on the half hour through the night people wouldn’t be stranded or having to fish out big sums of cash. I live ten minutes from downtown and it can cost $20 for taxi. Some forethought on the city’s part would make transit better and lessen the chance of people driving after drinking because it’s the cheapest way home.

So let’s see: not enough live venues, early closing, expensive or inadequate transportation, concentrating everyone in one area which exacerbates the testosterone levels. That’s almost enough but it turns out there is such a rat’s nest of red tape for restaurant and pub owners that it makes having fun more difficult. There are places that aren’t allowed to have any dance floors, such as the E. Van extablishments. Some of them manage live bands but they’d be slapped silly should they entertain a dance floor. So people get up and dance in front of their tables or at the tiny spot in front of the stage.

Even though the mayor declared we’d beat our “no fun” status during the Olympics, again that was very localized downtown without allowing other thriving communities to participate or even extend their hours. Montreal has a soft closing of 4 am and when I was there a few years ago we never went to bed before 4. Sometimes it was a little pub where we just sat and talked. No crazy violence erupted. Once it was a pizza restaurant.

It turns out that the red tap that wraps up the fun runs to naming your pub or restaurant. A new restaurant on Main St., one of the Boho

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trendy, artsy areas wanted to name their place the Fast Food Disco. Since it seems it’s the BC Liquor Control Board (BCLCB) that actually approves names of establishments that serve booze the owners already knew that “disco” wouldn’t be approved because it would indicate a nightclub. They actually had to do the signs and finish the restaurant first before applying for the license. They even had a webpage. But good ole BCLCB said you can’t serve alcohol with fast food. The owners cited that they were using irony because their menu is not fast food. It includes that homey cooking of the 50s & 60s, meatloaf, deep fried Mars Bars (I shudder to think of the jello creatures they might serve). The restaurant changed their name to the Rumpus Room because the BCLCB wouldn’t buckle.

Of course the BCLCB doesn’t include White Spot restaurants as fast food but that doesn’t matter. The restaurant was told it would mislead the public who would expect alcohol with the greasy  fries. I’m a little disconcerted by the concept of the food but be that as it may, the name wouldn’t have told me I got booze with fast food, especially if I looked it up online or looked at the menu before entering. Here’s how I imagine the BCLCB decides which names pass the muster.

Hubert: Here’s another one. Hooters. Whaddya think?

Bertha: Nope, nope won’t do. It implies you can get alcohol and will start hooting.

Hubert: Hmm, I don’t think so. Owls hoot, right? Well, we always associate owls with being wise. Oh, and parliaments.

Bertha: So?

Hubert: Well the wise person wouldn’t drink and therefore it won’t encourage that disgusting behavior.

Bertha: Sounds reasonable. A wise place to eat. Politicians might go there. We’ll pass that name. I’m sure it will be a dignified establishment.

Cheers, from the no fun city.

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A Holt Renfrew Girl on a Wal-Mart Budget

Creative Commons: Avon Lady by theotherwayworks flickr

The heading is just a bit off. I don’t really shop at Wal-Mart nor at Holt Renfrew, though I once did buy my winter coat there. I don’t shop Wal-Mart (or Zellers) because the clothing is generic and, while cheap, not made that well, nor that exciting for styles. Holt Renfrew, on the other hand, might have more fashionable outfits but with highly inflated prices.

For basics, sure you can buy some of those things in the cheaper stores, but if you want something made well that will last, you have to go to a store that’s more specific, as in a clothing store for clothes or a shoe store for shoes, not always a department store. But that’s just a general thing. Many clothing stores have cheaply made clothes where the buttons are stitched on with the least amount of thread and will fall off after one wearing. Or after one washing the seams will separate so it takes a judicious eye to spot the good over the bad.

I’ve always loved clothes and jewelery and I guess I’m a typical girl that way. I wouldn’t say I’m a slave to fashion, because those people change their clothes every season depending on what the new style is. I’m more of a fashion horse, in that I have a lot of clothes, I like to buy unique items but I keep them for more than a season. So my style is individualistic and eclectic.

I don’t want to look like everyone else and I want clothes that fit well and flatter my body, so some fashions don’t work well on me. Because I don’t have the funds to buy designer clothing I tend to shop around a lot. I go into various stores and little shops and don’t frequent the chains as much because in a chain store everyone wears the same. I also wait for sales because most clothing prices are beyond the worth. I have also found good clothes in stores like Wal-Mart, (Army & Navy) but not often and again looking carefully.

This weekend I decided to shop for a new purse. Purses are like other fashions; sometimes they’re in style and sometimes the styles change but in purses (like other clothing) there is quite a range. I have a couple of purses that I use year in year out; your basic black for one. But I wanted a lighter color, for spring and summer. As I started to wander through the stores I notice that The Bay in an attempt to pop themselves up to a Holt Renfrew level of chi-chi have renovated to shiny and marble with lots of space a few stands and handbags displayed airily. Of course I could not believe the prices: $185, $395, $240. For a purse! The most expensive I’ve seen in prvious years was $120 and that was very high.

I have to say I sneered and wandered off to other stores to see similar prices. I just wanted a little purse, to bop around summer with, to

Creative Commons: Rene Ehrhardt via flickr

store a few things. Yes, most of these purses were leather but even in Sears, considered not as high-end purses were topping $100-$200, though some were in the $60-$85 range. But of course those were vinyl or some other pseudo plastic. You do sometimes get what you pay for but expensive poly plastics still tend to tear and rip faster and sometimes you pay for name (I refuse to advertise for a company so never buy anything with a very conspicuous brand labeled across the clothes). I did eventually find a purse on sale for about $40. It’s not completely ideal but it’s better than even the Winners purses that were coming in at $200.

If I won the lottery tomorrow I’m afraid I would still not be a full Holt Renfrew girl. I don’t think $400 for a blouse is reasonable, unless it was made by gnomes during the full moon and sewn with spider silk. A lot of fashion pricing is a big gouge and I just can’t participate in it when money could go to better causes. On my moderate budget that counts as rent and food. If I had my millionaire’s budget that extra money would go to charitable causes, not $500 purses.

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Writing Update

Somewhere near Giant's Causeway Ireland

This will be brief because I’ve had a couple of very busy weeks and not much time to update the blog. In fact, I’ve had little time to work on stories or my novel because there’s been too much other work.

Still, I finally received my copy of New Vampire Tales edited by James Roy Daley and available through Amazon from Books of the Dead Press. My story “Lover’s Triangle” is reprinted in this issue.

I also found out that a poem “Shadow Realms” will be in the next Witches & Pagans #23. I didn’t even know she had a poem of mine nor did Anne until a week ago. I think that will be out by the summer.

And speaking of Witches & Pagans, my poem “Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence” has made it onto the nomination ballot for the Aurora Awards. It was in issue #21. All the nominees will be announced this weekend I believe. I was a little surprised because I thought one of  my stories would make it and not the poem. But still I’m happy to have been nominated so a big thanks to everyone who sent in nominations.

I’ve tossed in a random photo above, from my trip to Ireland three years ago. I hope to go there again this fall unless I decide to go to Spain or Italy or somewhere else. Tying in Ireland and Wales to Fantasycon, in Brighton could work for my travels. Fantasycon is the British Fantasy Society’s version of the World Fantasy convention, and takes place at the end of September. No matter what I’ll be somewhere in Europe for the fall.

Short and sweet. My posts are rarely this short, so enjoy it.

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Social Media and a Couple of Regular Joes

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When I was at the recent World Horror convention in Austin, Texas I was looking forward to it for a number of reasons. It was a social event, a place to make professional connections, meet new friends, have a vacation and put names to faces. With email and social media I am sometimes communicating to people but I have no clue what they look like. I’m on the West Coast and the rest of Chizine staff are around Toronto and Montreal. Though I’ve met a few, there were many strangers and it was a good time to refresh the old acquaintances and meet the new ones.

Also, as part of SF Canada and the Chicago writers list Twilight Tales, there were names that I’d never put a face to. I got to meet John Everson and Sylvia Schulz, as well as seeing again Yvonne Navarro and Weston Ochse who I had met once years ago. I’d met Dave Nickle (Eutopia, Monstrous Affections), Gemma Files (A Book of Tongues, A Rope of Thorns) and Claude Lalumiere (The Door to Lost Pages) before, and Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi are friends. Still, I had last seen them in 2003. That’s a long time.

SF Canada is Canada’s professional speculative writers’ association and though we talk online we’re spread out through one of the world’s largest countries. We rarely get to meet in person. I met some of Chizine’s authors such as Bob Boyczuk (Horror Story and Other Horror Stories, Nexus: Ascension–I met him once many years ago), Brent Hayward (Filaria, Fecund’s Melancholy Daughter). I ran into fellow BC writer Sandra Wickham whose first two sales are in Edge Publications Evolve vampire series, as well as editor of Chilling Tales Michael Kelly, including authors Suzanne Church, John Nakamura Remy who read from Rigor Amortis (zombie love tales doncha know).

There were many other authors, old and new so it’s easy to be flooded with new names. And of course there was Joe, who again I’d only talked to through email. There he is working the con, in charge of the dealer’s room. I’m surprised because I know Joe is awfully busy working for CBC radio and that he doesn’t even get time to write much so I see his name and go, “Joe! So nice to put a name to a face. Colleen Anderson!” “Oh hi,” says he, looking perhaps a bit surprised or maybe that’s his natural look.

So in a typical effusive, friendly Canadian way I chat off and on to him all weekend. “Joe, I didn’t know you had books out. Through Pinnacle, really? Wow, Joe I didn’t know you were writing zombie fiction.” And of course I’m vaguely thinking. Wow, I thought Joe was too busy to write novels and geeze, he didn’t seem the zombie type. He’s never mentioned it but then of course, I’ve never met him and what he says on the rare occasion he posts to SF Canada is never about zombies. Well whaddya know.

So I spend all weekend acting like I kind of know Joe, virtually because I kinda did but only in that nebulous sense where you can say, hey we were at the same party and chatted about Degas. After all, WHC is partly about meeting people and having fun and putting names to faces, right?

Joe McKinney

Joe Mahoney

Well it was, but it  didn’t register until I was home and recovering from lack of sleep (I can blame it on that, can’t I?) that I’d mixed up my Joes. SF Canada’s Joe is Joe Mahoney and he works for CBC. The Joe I was talking to is Joe McKinney, zombie master. I also work with someone named McKinney. What do they have in common (the Joes)? Well I’d never met either before and they both write speculative fiction and they both have grey hair. Duh. Did I feel a fool.

You can see the two Joes here. They both have full cheeks and gray hair so considering I’d only seen a picture of Joe Mahoney once before I think I can understand my mistake. And poor Joe McKinney was either thinking, oh she’s just one of my fans or who is that crazy woman?

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Filed under Culture, entertainment, horror, humor, people, Publishing, Writing

Plenty of Fish is For Suckers

There are many dating sites out there and some are better than others. Some of course are better for one person over another depending on how it’s set up and what you’re looking for. Of the ones I’ve tried Plenty of Fish was pretty much a stagnant sea. I had a male friend who liked it though because he called it Plenty of F**ks. He wanted one-night stands and women were happy to comply. I didn’t want that, so it wasn’t that good. In fact, I found communication with potentials lacking so completely that I decided to not just inactivate my account but delete it.

Plenty of Fish = Plenty of Leeches

Plenty of Fish = Plenty of Leeches Creative Commons: http://monkeyfilter.com/link.php/14452

That was over two years ago. I removed my profile, but I was still getting notices. I removed it again, went deeper in and tried to remove it all the way to the bone. I deleted the account, which means I shouldn’t exist in POF’s database anymore. That seemed to do it, so I thought. But oddly, when they were hacked a couple of months back I got warnings about changing my password. WTF? I sent them an email saying I had no idea what my password was anymore, and to remove me from their site as I had already done this once. I got another computer generated message, and another, and another.

I sent messages each time that bounced back to me. Yes, this was their customer service email. Some customer service. I sincerely hope no one pays for this crap. This last week I’ve received three emails with my “matches” even though I no longer have an account according to their deletion instructions. I’ve sent them two cease and desist emails and let me tell you, it’s not easy. You have to go to their website and dig around. There is something that actually says “contact us”, but if you click on the header that says “Delete/Hide My Account” you get nothing. Oh sorry, you get more little messages telling you what to do but you don’t get to send them an email. Click again, yet another layer of message.

When you finally find a way in to to send an email, you get no answer as I can attest with the ones I’ve sent. I shouldn’t have to deactivate an account I deleted over two years ago. Here’s what they say about getting rid of the notification messages:

I do not want any more email notifications.

You can stop message notifications (sent out when you get a message) in Mail Settings. Unfortunately you cannot stop the “latest match” emails usually sent out on Mondays – if these are a problem we’ll delete your account upon request.

Oddly enough I’ve asked POF at least four times to delete me permanently. And try to find a place to contact them to do this deletion. It’s a blatant lie. I have received neither an answer nor a deletion from the continual messages. And of course, I can’t delete my account because I no longer know my username or password. I finally had to email for it again and you have to go through many messages of “wait, don’t go” to get to deleting, if it works. My next step will be to see if I can charge them with harassment, and report them to any place or regulatory body I can. If you know of any such bodies on this, and on them storing my information after I expressly deleted it, let me know.

But for your own sakes, do not ever join up with Plenty of Fish. Obviously they treat their clients as suckers and you’ll have better luck getting barnacles off your ship than these leeches off your back. My rating on this dating site: -5. Stay far away.
Addendum: here it is Feb. 22, nearly a year after this post. I did send a letter to the Privacy Commissioner last year and received a letter back saying it didn’t fall in their jurisdiction but to try the provincial Privacy Commissioner. I was going to toss the letter as I thought POF had stopped harassing me and guess what, last week more spam from POF. They will go against the law and keep your information forever because they probably know how hard it is to track down even who to send this to.

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Filed under Culture, internet, relationships, security