Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Abyss

"When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." - Nietzsche

There's a reason we read horror novels, listen to Nine Inch Nails, write bad poetry and sing "fairy Tale of New York" at 2 am whilst drunk off our arses. We sometimes cling to the dark parts of our souls, spirits, minds, hearts, etc. with the passion of a lover or parent. Which is what led me to think about that Nietzsche quote and what it means out of the context of the text in which it was presented. I'll confess never having read any of his treatises, I got the quote from a comic book. But it resonates. As we look into the dark flecks of existence, it looks back at us, approaches us, and offers a consolation, a bleak embrace.

Maybe it's the cynic in me that is able to accept this vision of life so easily. But there's no denying that there's an odd paradoxical comfort in the dark things that a lot of us find. My gaze is firmly fixed on all Goths...

So, because it's ambitious, I'm going to write about what the Abyss thinks of us!

May 25 2010

Every time you beckon me, I spit on your weakness, but come anyway, mostly for the laughs. Oh, poor thing, you need to feel something? Cut your arms, that'll do the trick! No, don't go for a run, or meditate on breathing or pray to a one of the Spirits of Light. Smoke another cigarette. Diss someone who once hurt you. Embrace me my child and I'll make you a testament to the healing power of pain. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, the dumbass bought that last one! "healing power of pain", are you fucking kidding me?)

Alright, let's be honest here, not all of you are completely laughable. I know that the vast majority of you live in the grey area between misanthropic wretch and sickening positivist, and you call upon me with a certain measure of confidence and restraint. You're not ready to blow your brains out, but you've lived some sort of trauma that needs some good old-fashioned self-destruction to help you get ready to cope. Well, buddy, drink up, punch a wall (and hopefully break something) and we'll get through it together...

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I was just watching CBC Newsworld and they had David Suzuki on talking about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the look on Mr. Suzuki's face (one that's been frozen there since the failure of this country to ratify Kyoto) was one of incredulity at the sheer lack of giving a crap that this and other governments seem to have about the environment. Oh and Harper was quoted saying that the economy is all that matters.. ARGH!!!

Seriously, all the technology is there and 'shovel-ready' to convert the economy of the 'developed' world to green sources. But nope. Too risky for the economy. Um, if you can convert a Depression economy to a war economy, I'm pretty sure you can convert a carbon-based economy into a green economy too. I oversimplify, but I'm getting effing pissed off at the apathy of our officials on this and of people around us. At least there's good ol' Willy Nelson (not the singer)

But, I look at twitter, facebook and blogs and see no outrage, no sense of fear at what is clearly turning into the worst environmental disaster of this century.

I mean I'm not one really to talk, I still eat meat and limes and take long showers, but at least I know I'm scared witless at what's coming for the planet. Have we all gotten so resolved to the inevitability of environmental catastrophe that we've just stopped caring about it? (the majority, at least, I still give props to my treehuggin' dirtmunchers!) Is apathy the only way to keep living in this madhouse? Because Lord knows I see it EVERYWHERE. I don't think I'm apathetic, but I drink, so the effect winds up the same... Either way, I fear that this society, and our governments, are embracing apathy as the only way to deal, and I fear even more that they're right.

So, to address the spiritual oil spill this society is going through (yeah, I'm just that effing ham-fisted today), I'm writing about dealing with apathy.

May 17 2010

Every day is a new battle to keep my soul. Every. Fucking. DAY!!!!!!

I wake up with a sense of optimism, looking forward to my power bar and morning fun, my smoothie and coffee and bacon sandwich. And then, as I hit mile 2, the phenomena I call 'hippie guilt' hits me in a wave. Bacon's bad. Have you seen the conditions in which those poor guys live? And a smoothie? With bananas, right? Well, think of how many greenhouse gases are emitted to get those bananas to your local supermarket. And coffee? Is it shade-grown fair-trade, personally inspected by Che Guevera? No? YOU FUCKING EARTH RAPIST! HOW CAN YOU!?!?!?!?

And that's when the wall comes up. The Jade Wall... The one that cries out "What more can I do? It's too goddamn late anyway!" and it gives me the energy to finish my run and feed myself before going to work. Better that than collapsing in a heap on the bike path, weeping at how ineffective I am, how lousy an Earth citizen I must be...

A day goes by where I try not think about what is going on around me, focusing instead on what's funny on the Internet, what bands are playing this weekend and seeing what my freinds have to say on facebook.

That's when it hits me like a slap across the face. THIS is what's going on everywhere, with everyone! Eeryone is wasting time and focusing on things like being cool on this Internet, masturbating their egos ("hey, look at foursquare everyone, I'm at a hip restaurant!"; "read how clever I am on twitter!") and contemplating just how revolutionary the latest album by so and so is. IT'S A FUCKING ALBUM! It exists to get people to buy it!

And just like that, I realize that the apathy is inevitable. It's too hard to give a damn and the easiest of outs are there, hardwired into our communication systems.

But I also decide that I'd rather be the lone voice of madness and passion crying itself hoarse amongst the deaf then be one more sheep douchebag who's given up. So, I'll keep beating myself up, feeling inadequate, tyring my best to be good and conscienscous and if I fail, I fail.

At least I tried...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New beginnings/Moving on/Starting over

These terms are so cliché I kind of itch writing them down. But when bad things happen, there's a measure of one of those that needs to happen at some point. And this is coming from an expert wallower.

Now, I'm not here to give anyone advice on how to begin anew/move on/start over. Talk to Dr. Phil or your mom or read a book or drink it into place. Whatever works for you.

But we all have to take a minute and admire when those wheels start turning. It's almost like the feeling a kid gets on Christmas morning when he/she discovers that Santa DID get them that Xbox. Or when a guy discovers that girls actually DO like sex. It's this totally awesome revelation of "Hey, whoever/whatever set me back or hurt me isn't going to end me and there's so much else that's worth discovering and focusing on". And that phenomenon of self-discovery is worth writing about!

May 12, 2010

Bill couldn't remember exactly when it hit him, when he realized that the dead end his life hasd become needed to change or he needs to blow his brains out, but it hit him. Maybe it was that dream he had where all his old friends, people he hadn't seen in years, were gathered at his parents' cottage having a massive barbecue. They were all enjoying themselves, chatting and laughing. And somehow, Bill was invisible to all of them,. He tried talking to them and no sound came. It was like he was a ghost.

He woke up with a start, not even daring to contemplate wheterh or not the party was his wake. But as consciousness worked its way into his brain, a feeling took him over, a sense that he had faded from life, a life full of love and friendship and wonder, all because he'd been laid off.

Yes, it had been his dream job: working in commercial production, doing storyboards for some of the funniest advertisements ever seen on TV. But, times got tough and they had to let him go, after 12 years. It decimated his self-esteem. He couldn't f find a reason to get up in the morning. He'd barely been aware of receiving severance pay or collecting EI cheques. He would order his groceries online, ensconced in his condo like a hermit. The only people he spoke to were members of his World of Warcraft clan...

His girlfriend gave up on him after a couple of weeks, she'd never been one to date losers. His mom stopped calling after a month. He felt utterly abandoned, alone, inconsequential.

And then, something stirred in his mind. The night he had the dream, an old friend from high school had looked him up on Facebook and they chatted back and forth for hours. She reminded him of all the things they used to do together: writing comic books, bike rides along the Ottawa River, debating philosophy and dancing all night. It was the first time a smile had crawled onto his face in months. It reminded him that he could always belong, no matter if time and space kept him from his peers.

And then, the dream showed him where he'd been going, how he was in danger of vanishing.

So, the next morning, he woke up early, feeling like he could move mountains, grabbed a copy of the daily paper, and spent the day job-hunting. That night, he went to visit his mom, to ensure her that he was going to be alright, that he was now ready to be.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Character empathy

As a writer, especially of fiction, one often has to call upon a certain chanelling of empathy for characters we create whose circumstances we would, in real life, not understand all too well. I don't know what it's like to be a young woman who deals with the threat of sexual abuse. I don't know what it's like to be a heroin addict, or a billionaire. But, I'll be damned if I'm going to let that stop me from using them as characters if the story calls for it.

So, that begs the question: How do you write convincingly about a perspective you haven't experienced, and possibly can't? Well, as with all art, a lot of inspiration comes from those who have come before us. Writers, lyricists, journalists; all develop a knack for putting themselves in another's shoes even if they'll never really wear them. I've never done much direct interviewing of people who serve as models for characters, but I definitely pay close attention when people talk about their life experiences. You never know when a conversation over a beer with a friend will provide elements of a character you're developing.

Melissa Dinardi, the 'heroine' of a novel I'm toying with, is a 23 year-old woman with major self-esteem issues and destructive tendencies. Yes, some of that is auto-biographical, but if it wasn't for some of the young women I've come to know over the years, she'd be kind of a pitiful character, rather than the resigned survivor she's going to be (once I've finished figuring out the story).

My inspiration for today's piece is listening to Drive-by Truckers' Decoration Day, which deals with consensual incest, being an indebted farmer, and generally the quirks of being from the American South. Very good lyrics allow for some middle-class Canadian boy to, hopefully, evoke what it's like. Or maybe it's all cliché... Let's see...

May 8, 2010

I'm in love with Cora McCool. She's a skinny wisp of a thing, been hurt harder and worse than I ever imagined a girl could be. I know what that Ames boy from across the county at Mr. Jackson's farm did to her on that cold night last October and he got away with it. Busted her jaw. Damn near broke her arm, definitely broke her heart. But she was too scared to accuse him, and that boy is too big, too nasty for the men to try and fight him down over it.

I wanted to take my Dad's shotgun and take that sonuvabitch behind the barn and show him what a man is by taking it away with a shell. But I can't. I'd be in jail, unable to help do the haying and Ma needs me here. She can't run the farm without me and we're so close to losing the damn thing anyway. So, Jack Ames, you get to hold on to your balls for now, boy, but it ain't gonna be long till justice comes a' calling on you, fucker.

My best friend Bill gets home from Iraq in a couple of months and he's got my back on this. Ain't no one gonna rat out a war hero. Me, I'm just some dumb redneck with flat feet and diabetes. No soldiering for me.

But I'm gonna marry Cora McCool soon enough, after I get a little more money saved up for a ring and a small ceremony with Reverend James reading one of those really pretty passages from the Bible that talks about how God makes all the hurt go away and green pastures and all that. Then Cora can move onto the farm, help Ma and me with the house, and maybe we'll have a baby... a little girl to keep her company while I get this farm growing a proper crop of soybeans again, before that asshle at the bank takes it all away.

And then, sweet Cora, maybe I'll be able to take away the hurt and save you.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Laziness and irony

I didn't sleep much last night, but it was for a good reason. I had the distinct pleasure of touring the Parliamentary Press Gallery today and it was SOOOOOO cool (and I'm not even much of a media junkie!).

But, as a result, I'm sitting at my media monitoring station feeling really sluggish and not so good with the whole "creativity" thing. BUT, as I was poring through my Inbox, I noticed a little piece of writing done a few weeks ago that kind of got the ball rolling on this whole "Nick needs to write more" mantra I've been chanting for the past few weeks.

So, in an ironic testament to laziness, I give you a short piece I wrote that was inspired by laziness (sort of), and presenting it because I feel lazy... Somehow that's a funny statement, I swear!

May 5 2010

It's a grim series of days, linked together in a fog. Every time I open my eyes from sleep, I have to take a few minutes to figure out whether or not I'm awake. And then contemplate if the things going on in my dreams are the reality, because they make so much sense, or are the waking sagas of bullshit that are so incredulous really my life?

Am I really working this job? Are you sure I'm not actually a zombie hunter who can fly? That makes a whole lot more sense than clerk, communications monkey, gas pumper, whatever... I really was much happier with the shotgun and the wings...

Are these the relationships I have? Forced to keep company with fools, wastes and charlatans? And what of the real people, the ones who truly strike a chord with me? When do the long knives come out with them?

Et tu, buddy, pal, soul mate?

Is this paradoxal mix of fatigue, laziness and privilege keeping me from achieving my dreams? Do I have any? Is laying here, waiting for the next wail of the alarm and smack of the snooze button, the only real contemplation I'm left with? Why do we only ask questions when we're half-awake and pissed off?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dichotomy, you bastich!

I don't know about you, but I sometimes find the duality that seems to rule the universe can be a right pain in the butt! For every joy, there's a pain. For every moment of enlightenment that helps propel us further forward in our spiritual journey, there's some petty inpulse holding us back.

Case in point, my life is awesome right now and I have nothing to complain about, but something pushes me to fixate on that which has caused me grief recently. And it BUGS me! Now, anyone writes in and comments "just get over it" will get an online ass-whuppin'. But that's not what's causing it, I think it's instinctive dichotomy that keeps us all from being too happy or too sad. Yin and yang and all that noise. So, what does this have to do with today's writing? Well, it reminds me of an old school project I had going in the late 90s. I thought I could dust it off here.

So, as part of my enjoyment of clip-writing, I present the following piece from yours truly, circa 1997... This side presents the dark face of reality, but the hope was to counter it once finished and write a mirror set of clips, which I will do later on.

Also, I just have to say as I watch the National, DAMN Wendy Mesley is HOT! Anyhoo, I digress...

May 4 2010 (by way of Winter 1996)

A Universe of Pain

The Hordes had come, suffering and pain trumpeting their arrival. The entire population of Earth was consumed in seconds, a light snack for the unending, undying wave of cosmic defilers. The globe was set aflame and the demons danced and burned in the blaze.

Next the Breaker came. He blotted out the sun and the Hordes looked up from their fledgling star to see what had obscured its elder. The Breaker had shattered the solar system, fragments of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars still entangled in his ethereal hair. He breathed in the sun, then smashed it.


I’m on the table, being cut again; a finger here, an ear there. Bits of me are gathered meticulously and secured in plastic bags that are labeled with the names of my parts. I am being pruned.


Love hurts like death.


God had a bad day once, so he made it rain for over a month, drowning the world except his pet human Noah. A few centuries later, he took sides between Egypt and Israel since the latter had a pretty accurate understanding of who He was. So, with His usual flare for the melodramatic, He split a sea for His favourites and brought it back onto their enemies. Thousands of years later, the same two nations would fight again, but God didn’t need to step in, American tanks were as effective as anything He could come up with.

But He’s been bored for millennia; the last bit of fun in His name was the Inquisition and even that was a bit much for His taste; too damn stupid.

But God’s definitely itching to lay some beatdowns on someone…


The body was sprawled in a graceful pose, that of a dancer or practitioner of Tai Chi. She still looked alive. But that, of course, was impossible. The spinal cord was powdered, the flesh of her back liquefied.

I looked up to the window from which she had jumped. It looked tiny from the ground, too small to squeeze through and certainly too small to jump from. That was an illusion, the window was huge, it’s just that it was twenty-three floors up.

I suddenly got a little angry. She had overdone it. Pills, slit wrists, even a gun to the head would have been less messy, less showy.


It’s black and red in my head
Knives and barbs pierce the heart
And rage reigns over all


If only I’d fed the fish…


“Brace yourself” was all he would say.

The car hurtled on, gaining more speed by the second. She couldn’t believe he was going to let this happen. He’d decided they were both going to die without even giving her the chance to back out. The cops would never have him, they never could. When it came to time or death, the choice was easy. Better dead than sodomized was what he must have figured. Then again, she didn’t really know. Hell, he might have a suicide complex he failed to mention.

Either way, it didn’t mean shit when they hit a concrete wall doing one-fifty.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Hope is a funny thing. It's impractical, unrealistic, and maybe even delusional considering this craphole state of affairs our planet is in. And yet, what is more noble? What is more necessary? What is more human than hope?

I've had cause to lose hope the whole course of my life and I certainly have at times. And yet, it keeps coming back, no matter how down I get, and it's kept me alive.

All in all, hope's pretty cool. So, I feel like writing about it.

May 2, 2010

Laying in a broken heap, cast aside in some gutter as the rain soaks into flesh and tendon, blood and bone, your tears salting the drops that fall. What can you do? No one is there for you, no one is going to come and pick you up, drape you in their coat and take you into the warmth of their bosom. It'll never happen.

No, but you raise your head anyway, despite the despair. You look into the rain and feel its emptiness, but it doesn't push you back down. You get up off the ground, soaked and freezing, and wrap yourself in your own cloak, firm in the knowledge that nothing can kill the fire within, and it'll keep you warm for now.

You stand tall, spine steely, and a kernel grows inside that whispers with a sirocco's warmth: It will get better. And you believe it. You have to.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Exposure to new art forms and writing about it

So, last night my lady friend and I went to National Arts Centre to see an interpretive dance piece called Miroku starring and choreographed by Saburo Teshigawara. He's Japanese, in case that part was obtuse...

Here's the write-up from the NAC people .

Now, I'm not going to say if it was good or bad, because it's not like I've seen dozens of Japanese interpretive dance performances. How do you gauge the quality of something for which you have no scale of measurement? I'll provide the following observations and you can judge for yourselves:

1 - VERY glad I was high. Just sayin'

2 - There was a fascinating disconnect in that the music was, at times, like the ambient filler music from a Ridley Scott film, but Teshigawara was moving around and flailing to the "non-music". It was interesting to see how he was pulling out a rhythm from it. Reminded me of people who can somehow dance to Gabber or ambient Industrial...

3 - There was a kind of tongue-in-cheek quality that came across. At least I hope it was tongue-in-cheek, otherwise it was about as artsy-cheese as you can get! There was a part with a light bulb that was otherworldly, but also made me think "Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!" Is Saburo Japanese for Deiter?

4 - I probably would not have paid the 35$ the NAC was charging - glad Kari's got connections to free art.

5 - It was definitely like nothing I've ever seen, but then again, the last dance performance I've seen was in Prague in 1999.

6 - Was it life-changing? Not really. Was it the 'Voice of Fire' of dance theatre? Heck no.

Now, that all being said, this is a blog about exercising the writer's brain in more creative, artistic fashion. So let's get to it!

May 1 2010

A lean form, carved in musculature and sinew, stands sheathed by light, with a wall of sound surrounding him. If this is a dance piece, it is the art of stillness, an almost Taoist expression of dance. But just as the eye settles in on the acceptance of the stillness, a flurry of movement begins - shoulder, bicep, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and fingers all spin at a blurry speed. The movement and the music are disconnected, but somehow meld together as the beholder's eyes and ears synchronize. The dancer knows something the audience doesn't, but we're learning, we're catching up.

The performance crests and ebbs, at times dragging, at times challenging, at times comical, but always interesting. The illusions of lighting and movement are meticulously crafted, but it's hard to understand the method. And when it ends, much of the audience is elated at the performance, others are applauding with furrowed brow.