I am pleased to announce that our film, “Sebastian Snail in ‘The Souvenir’” placed in the top 10 (actually 11 since there was a tie) at the Reelfast 48 Hour Film Festival gala awards last night at the Commodore Ballroom. The films weren’t shown in any particular order, but Ang Hold used her psychic powers to predict that our film would be shown third. And it was. Then she predicted that we would eat pizza after we left. Also fulfilled. We didn’t win any awards: if anything I thought we might win Audience Pick, but in fact a film called “er” won that, and deservedly so. It was my favourite of the 11 films. Many of them I didn’t care for, but there were a few good ones.

My hair is now purple. Seriously.

When I was growing up, my parents had a cabin (well, a house really) on the edge of Green Lake (near 100 Mile House) in the interior of BC. We went there once or twice a year, it was quite beautiful. I spent a lot of time exploring the wilderness, catching frogs and snakes, getting bitten by horseflies, playing in the snow or on the frozen lake, finding dead bodies (oh wait that’s Stand By Me) – all the things you are supposed to do as a kid. I’m not sure what happened to the house, as I recall it got sold. I haven’t been to the lake for years and years and years. My grandparents also had a house up there, where they lived year-round, until it burnt down a few years back. I recall being sorry to hear the news but otherwise nonplussed, until some time after that (6 months or so) I had a terrible dream about it and woke up bawling my little eyes out.

Last night I had a dream that I was back at the house at Green Lake, with my brother and parents. I won’t bore you with all the details but towards the end I was going through the storage space and looking at a bunch of my childhood toys, drawings & video cassettes (I actually had no videocassettes as a child, but anyway). My ma was arguing with me about something or other, and I was getting very frustrated and yelling back at her. Finally I looked out the window and, I don’t know whether it was from the argument or the flood of lost childhood memories, but I started sobbing.

When I woke up I was crying. I think my subconscious is telling me that I need to go back to Green Lake. I’m sure it will be different (probably a WalMart, Chapters & Starbucks up there now) but in fact that’s something I’ve been seriously considering for well over a year now. Some day, somehow, I will rent, borrow, or steal a car and go on a road trip to my old haunt.

You ever have one of those days when you go downtown, meet up with C. Slater to get your copy of Safe Men back, head over to a video game studio to record some placeholder voiceover, then find yourself with 2 free hours; and rather than pay for busfare to go home just so you can pay busfare again to get to Theo’s to play Mutants and Masterminds, you have a good long dinner at Falafel House and spend some time in ABC Comic Emporium, finally deciding that, even though you are currently reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, you didn’t bring the book with you, so instead you buy a weathered copy of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep for $3.95 and read it while you walk the streets of downtown Vancouver (remembering of course to look both ways before you cross the street) to get to the skytrain station, and then in a fit of nostalgia decide to relive those days when you used to ride the skytrain without paying?

Yeah me too.

George S. Curfew, in his early thirties, stout, with a broad face, full lips, sunglasses, and short cut, spiky brown hair with just a tinge of purple, arrived at Chapters at what he assumed was the appointed time. It was a warm day, not as warm as recent days, but still, not the kind of day he was given to wear one of his favourite black t-shirts. That very morning, as throughout the past week, he had spent an inordinate amount of time picking out his clothes. He recognized this, and it made him feel as much like a teenage girl as could be reasonably imagined under the circumstances. His choice was a thin oatmeal short-sleeve collared shirt and his faithful army pants, the latter of which he had bought at an army surplus store in Kingston, Ontario, during the last cross-Canadian tour of his band, The Shadowy Scrub on the Knoll. Several of his black t-shirts were, in fact SSotK shirts.

He wore, also, one of his three pairs of Converse All-Star “Chuck Taylor” high top sneakers. He had been wearing this style of shoe since high school, and, barring a pair of Fluevog boots, had not owned any other style of footwear for five years. Today’s particular pair was his flashiest set, black with a red and yellow flame motif. As liable as not to stroll around town with, as they say, an unfurnished basement, George did invest in a pair of boxer shorts for this particular excursion, prompted in part by the realization that his well-worn army pants were getting a bit threadbare in the crotchal area.

George checked his dark reflection as he approached the glass doors of the Chapters. They were heavy, the doors; so heavy in fact that they forced the thought into George’s mind of some corporate conspiratorial mandate to keep the weak and elderly out of the boutique. What would they possibly need with books, he half-seriously imagined some Chapters executive sneering in a dark cabalist conference room. Passing through the trying-to-seem-innocuous-but-failing security pylons, George took a quick survey of the floor, ignoring the ubiquitous Starbucks adjunct, before he climbed the escalator. George’s philosophy of escalators was simple, if unkind to the tired or patient: Just because the stairs move doesn’t mean you don’t have to. He almost always climbed the escalator stairs as they ascended, or conversely walked down on the declension, but today he let slip his rigid escalator code of conduct, and simply leaned against the rail as it pulled him up to the much larger second floor. Only through this rare reprieve of self-imposed etiquette was he able to discover that the moving handrail and the moving steps were in fact moving at slightly different speeds, such that, were the trip long enough, a leaning passenger could be dragged down sideways if he didn’t check himself. A little overzealously, he decided then and there that such an engineering flaw was truly inadmissable.

This thought was quickly washed away for the paper sailboat that it was when George reached the top of the escalator and the overlit labyrinth of book and magazine shelves assaulted his senses. For a time he staggered among them, seeing everything but absorbing nothing, until he decided that the air-conditioned clam bore too thickly the tang of recycled human effluvium. He made a cursory walk through down the main aisle, eyes darting hither and yon, until he was satisfied enough to return to the main floor (walking down the escalator this time). He pushed his way out of the building into the hot Vancouver streets, waiting for inspiration. His faculties couldn’t seem to shake the remnant of drowse from a piecemeal sleep the night before, but he at last came to the conclusion that no, it would not appear too hang dog for him to set his ass down on the dubiously kept sidewalk. It would at least be in the shade.

Just as he was figuring out how best to settle in, like a hound circling on its favourite rug, he made out the familiar form of Yue Ying standing across the street. She was waiting decorously for the street light to change; for that liberating surge that comes only when the stern red hand surrenders to the white demi-man forever frozen in mid-stride.

Hi Kids
The U.S. State Department has rolled out Hi, a slick, full-color “lifestyle” magazine in Arabic targeted at 18- to 35-year-olds in a dozen Arab countries. “We’re emphasizing the positive things,” said a consulting editor. And a State Department rep said Hi is “in a very subtle way, a vehicle for American values.” The Indian Express responded: “Bludgeoning Arab youth with giant baseball bats and making them sing ‘Yankee Doodle’ would be more subtle.” The first issue features American colleges, yoga and an Arab-American actor, but has nothing on the invasion of Iraq, terrorism or other irksome issues. The apparent obliviousness of Hi’s editors and State Department bosses to the supposed wants or needs of the magazine’s target audience might be seen as an example of why people hate America. Hmmm.
– from Wired

I went swimming last night in Coquitlam with Ang Hold.

I have not been in a public pool since the mid to late eighties. That means that I have not been naked in a change room filled with other naked men in a like amount of time – to the tune of 15 years. Until last night. Suffice it to say, it was a stark contrast to my entire adult life experience. Now, I’m not against naked men (and certainly I’m not against naked women – though I’d like to be hahah), although, you know…if for example Shawn the guy who lives across from my apartment in 304 decided he was going to walk around the halls with no clothes on, I would probably be less enthusiastic to go check my mail…but I am rather self-conscious. So seeing people’s dinks hanging out was, while surreal, not necessarily offputting. However, having my own dink hanging out – I’m not used to that. My organ and I, we spend a lot of time together, but it’s pretty much all private time. Thrusting us into the limelight, so to speak, gives us a bit of stagefright, especially since the last time we’ve been in that limelight was during the most awkward time of my life…good old puberty. I was a late bloomer, you see.

So…traumatized? Yes, a little, thank you. But am I giving up? Hell no. I’ll go back. Swimming was good exercise and fun, especially with Ang Hold there to hide behind and to teach me swimming techniques. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been in the water and I miss it. I knew I missed it before I even went in last night.

In the early nineties I lived on Cultus Lake 9 months out of the year. I would go swimming by myself (Aquaman on Superfriends obviously failed to get through to me how bad of an idea that is) in the afternoon. That was when I was taking an English course in college, writing boring essays on A Modest Proposal. One time I went swimming and when I got home I threw up. Wasn’t sure why. The next day I went swimming again, and again when I got home, up comes the vomit, (like there’s any other direction for vomit to come). Did I have some kind of weird condition? Was there something in the water? No, I suddenly realized, it was because both times I had a luncheon meat sandwich before I went swimming, forgetting the cardinal rule not to go swimming until a half hour (is that right?) after you’ve eaten. Lesson learned.

Today I saw Pirates of the Caribbean. I’d give it 7/10.

SOMEBODY PLEASE TAKE ME CAMPING!!! I have no gear. No gear whatsoever.

I wrote a little poem this morning. If you were to go over to Yvonne’s blog, and click on behind the curtain, you will find it. Or if you want to cheat, you can just follow this link. I had several more minutes to work on it than the poem I did at Oneword, which I won’t even bother to reprint here.

Scrolling is the Enemy
I have too many people on my ICQ/MSN/AIM/YAHOO messenger lists. Whenever there are so many people (they like to call them ‘users’) online that can’t see to the bottom of the list (which, since I don’t know anyone whose name begins with Z, is inevitably Yvonne), I delete a couple. I wonder what they would think if they knew that, these refugees from my Trillian contact list? Probably don’t give a HOOT. And furthermore, I don’t list people under their assumed ‘handles’. I have no use for handles. Jackwrencher, Foolishpoodle, Righteousfist. You know who you are: Rob, Kirsten, Hal (and now so does everyone else). As soon as someone gets onto my contact list, whether it be someone I add or someone who messages me out of the blue, I always change how they appear on the list to their first name: I’ve had too many problems with meeting someone in real life. The conversation goes like this:

strange person: Hey Toren
me: Oh uh…hi.
strange person: It’s me, Jeff Farnsworth
me: Oh uh…hi.
strange person: I’m the guy from Calgary – I bought a t-shirt at your show last October.
me: Oh uh…hi.
strange person: You know HotWanker2000 on ICQ.

And that’s just not cool.

This is the world we live in:


and quite frankly I’m against it. I once saw a show on the teevee in which they were showing this kind of stuff. There was a digital photo of a model lying down on her side, and they stretched her legs out probably close to 30% longer than reality. I don’t get it.

This weekend I’m going to be completely absorbed in film, as I’m on Mike Jackson’s team for the 48 Hour Film Festival. I even agreed to be somewhere for 8am on Saturday morning – that is unheard of. I won’t spoil what our gimmick, er – I mean what our inspiration is for our film, but I will say that it rhymes with thruppets. Haha – you probably think I’ll be acting but in fact I’ll be holding the boom mic. Any pointers?

Not as good as the view from Phobos, but still pretty good.

Now what do you know about this:

Never again in our lifetime will the Red Planet be so spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars, an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. (Due to the way Jupiter’s gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years.)

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August, Mars will rise in the east at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30 a.m. That’s pretty convenient when it comes to seeing something that no human has seen in recorded history. So mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month. Share with your friends, and relatives.

No one alive today will ever see this again.

So – who’s got a telescope? And do the words “Mars Party” mean anything to you? I’ll bring the bars.