Friday, August 31, 2012

Story-A-Day #425: Pattern Recognition


There are undeniable patterns in each of our lives, moments where random becomes concrete.  Throughout each waking moment, there are instances of circumstance that are too randomly perfect that they become hard to ignore.

I am intrigued by the effect that the random has on the routine...

There are moments where you encounter nothing but green (or red) lights while driving along a single stretch of road.  Is that because you are meant to arrive earlier (or later) at your destination, or is it simply chance?

Have you ever had a day where a singular reference seems to arise on a supernatural basis?  Maybe it is a number, or a colour, or a person - whatever the instance is, it is always a little off-putting.

When a specific number comes up periodically throughout your day, you usually won't notice.  That is our nature...  But if you pay special attention, you will start noticing these random moments becoming a little less random.

You find yourself sitting in a cafe one day, talking to a friend about someone neither one of you have seen in ages.  At first, you think nothing of it, because you were simple reminiscing.  But when you encounter that person the next day, you can't help but wonder how weird it is that you were just talking about them.

There are infinite patterns in life, from the routes we take through our daily march, to  the more complex machinations.  We are the result of our choices and movements, but we are also affected by that which we can not control.

We are susceptible to days full of the number three and people named Paul.  We are susceptible to the same movie or song repeating ad nauseum throughout our pilgrimage to tomorrow.

There will always be patterns that are beyond our control, but until those patterns dictate us, it is all just a game.

Be aware.  Look for those patterns, and allow them to expand your current horizons.  The best way to deal with the random, is to make it mundane.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Role Models, My Parents


I wear a lot of hats:  I am a writer, a film maker, an educator, a photographer, a journalist, a bartender, and a few other things - most of them either by default, by choice, or by necessity.

With that list alone, I have multiple responsibilities, and sometimes it can be overwhelming.  I tend to work pretty long days, between the morning prep, the day job, and the late nights filled with whatever daily projects I have to tackle on any given day, I don't often get much time for leisure or sleep.

The other day, I had someone ask me how I do it - how I work such long days and still manage to function through the daily routines of life.  I paused for a moment, because I was not always this way, but then I responded with a very simple statement:  I do it because I want to do it.  I love what I do and every aspect of my life fills me with a great sense of accomplishment.

What I didn't tell that person, was that I have two people in my life who have always inspired, guided, motivated, and at times, shoved me towards being the person I am today:  My parents.

This past Sunday, August 26th, my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary.  That alone is inspiring, but for me as their son, watching them interact with the friends and family throughout the day was an incredible experience.

A few of the guests who made the trip to celebrate 40 years.

My parents share the same bonds with their friends that I share with my own.  At their anniversary brunch on the weekend, there was a palpable sense of mutual respect, and at times reverence in the air.  There was a great deal of camaraderie and self-deprecation.  There were also a pile of cheesy jokes...

It was exactly how my own moments with my friends often are, and it reminded me of my roots.

I am the person I am today because of Janet and John, the two people who brought me into this world, and nurtured me in the right direction.  That being said, they are not just inspirations to me; they are inspirations to pretty much everyone who has ever crossed their paths.  I assure you, it is all earned respect.  My parents have always been very kind, generous, and caring people who have reached out to their family, friends, and community.

My parents are the kind of people that I aspire to be.  They radiate a love for life and experience.  They relish the experience of travel; the adventure of literature; and the peace, and comfort, that comes from time spent with those who matter most to them.  On Sunday, they were able to spend the day with the friends and family that they love so much.  It was a beautiful thing.

Mum and Jasmine sharing a moment of relaxation.

You want to know why I do the things I do?  You want to know why I work such long days, and commit so much to every moment?  It is because of two fine people:  My role models, my parents.

I probably wouldn't be a writer today if I hadn't developed an appreciation for stories, reading, and writing before I even started school.  I might be better off, but I might also not be as passionate about what I do as I am today.  It has taken me a long time to get to where I am today, but I would never have made it this far without the support of my parents.

If you have not yet had the chance to meet my parents, I urge you to seek them out.  Your life will be richer for having done so.  I am who I am today because my parents have provided me with the support and love to grow, ever so slowly, into who I am today.

All of my successes can be attributed to the guidance of two immaculate people who by never giving up on me, who have never accepted failure as an option for their son.  It has been a long journey to get to where I am today, and I am lucky to have had such wonderful people guiding my way.

I love you mum and dad, and thanks again for all that you have given, and continue to give, not just to me, but to everyone who has been lucky enough to make your acquaintance.  You are a true inspiration...

And again, Happy 40th Anniversary!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Story-A-Day #424: Strange Fruits


There was a potted jungle on the back deck, one full of aromatic, exotic fruits in varied shades of bloom.  The greens, yellows, oranges, and reds gave off a multitude of scents, from the earthy waft of cherry tomatoes, to a more potent curl of peppers in the humid summer air.

There were other smells too, lingering amidst the more familiar and mundane essences of grass, earth, and late summer fade out.  There were hints of curry, bitter sweet rhubarb, and extra sweet berries; and exotic memories of Italian dinners in the multitude of fresh basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary taht mingled into a perfect airborne pasta sauce seasoning.

He took a step down into the backyard and the scents intensified; so many strange fruits, spices, herbs, and more mingling into a delicious pot pourri of ingredients.

He paused for a moment by a thick, black tub and leaned in towards a tree that bounced gently under the weight of its heavy burden of scotch bonnet peppers.  He took a deep breath, but the intense heat of the peppers was apparently more linked to taste than scent.

He plucked a few peppers off the tree, then snipped some rhubarb stalks from a nearby patch.  Over the next few minutes he added a cornucopia of herbs, spices, fruits, and peppers to his small basket and slowly felt the night's meal coming together.

His favorite part of cooking was always the fusion of flavors and tastes that went into a good meal.  Those flavours were always better when fresh ingredients were used.  He plucked a couple handfuls of tomatoes, green, yellow, and bright, ripe red and slowly made his way back into the house.

These strange fruits would be a beautiful fusion.  Dinner would soon be served.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Festival Bound with "Missing"

The One-Sheet for "Missing"

I am excited to announce that our latest short film "Missing" has been selected as an official entry at the 2012 Film North International Film Festival in Huntsville, Ontario.  This is the third year for the festival, and we were selected out of over 100 submissions as one of 42 films that will be screened over the three festival that will take place September 20 to 22, 2012.

Back in 2010, we were fortunate to be a part of the innagural festival, where "The Lake" won the award for Best International Short.  I had some family and friends there when I presented the movie and Patrick Gilbert joined me later in the day for the awards ceremony and after-party.  It really is an amazing, festival and after the great time and the great hospitality we received at the 2010 festival, I am really looking forward to being back in Huntsville, and a part of Film North's truly unique celebration of cinema.

Film making is a laborious process, one filled with commitment and passion, but it is an awarding one as well.  For me, the true joy of film making is the ability to share my storiies in a unique fashion with a broader audience.  Being in a darkened theatre and seeing our work on a big screen, with an audience full of people, is a truly rewarding experience.  I have yet to see "Missing" with an audience, but I have seen "The Lake" at festivals in North Bay, Sudbury, and Huntsville.  Seeing the reactions of the audience as the story unfolds is an electrifying experience, especially when you are able to see how complete strangers react to our work.  It is one thing to see family and friends react but let's face it, for better or for worse they tend to be a little biased.

 Accepting the Best International Short Award in 2010.

One of the great things about this year's festival, is that there will be an impressive amount of North Bay talent represented.  I will be there to represent "Missing" of course, but there are also a pair of other films in the competition with North Bay connections, both of which Kevin Hoffman worked on:  Jim Calarco's "One Wish", and Lewis Hodgson's "Morning Zomibies" (which Patrick Gilbert also worked on). 

It's going to be a great time for sure, and it is nice knowing that there will be three very different, unique and dinstinct films screening at the festival that will showcase the amazing amount of talent that Northern Ontario, and North Bay in particular have to offer.

I love the festival expereience.  The opportunity that a festival like Film North presents, especially the ability to discuss the process of telling stories on film, is truly unique.

I am a huge lover of cinema, and as much as it has always been a dream of mine to be a bigger part of the industry, it is a great feeling knowing that festival juries approve enough of my work to present my projects to a wider audience.  It is also cool having my own quiet little corner on IMDB (the Internet Movie Database) where I have credits as an Actor, Producer, Director, and most importantly, a Writer.

I look forward to the day where I have the resources and finances to do this full time, and to be a fixture on the global film festival circuit, but for now, I am thrilled that my work will once again be presented to an audience of unknowns.  And with any luck, a few friends, family, and supporters.  I hope to see you all there.

The festival runs from September 20 to 22, 2012.  No official screening dates are available at the moment, but when they are, I will let you know...

Thanks again for all the support! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Story-A-Day #423: Blurs


Your head snapped up quickly, a violent jerk back into reality.  You realized that for a moment, you had faded out; literally faded out, of all that was right and real around you.

For a brief moment, your world had disappeared and you had travelled elsewhere.  It might have been astral projection.  That would be nice; but it was more likely just a simple case of exhaustion and delirium headbutting into your left and right temples.

Instant knockout...

You felt your world convulse, and slowly it all started to come into focus.  Slowly it all started to make sense again.

There was a haze of fog, but it was starting to clear.

You could see actual bits of your surroundings, and with them, the sounds that accompanied; although each new sound felt like it was coming to you from some far off destination.  It was almost like you were underwater.

You raised your right hand and snapped your fingers next to your right ear.  It was like a bass drum going off.

You knew that things were slowly spiralling out of control, and that you were at risk of losing everything, but you could also see the clarity through the sudden storm.  You looked up, and somewhere out there, through all that murky uncertainty, there was a form that you recognized slowly coming into place.

You shook your head, trying to clear the clutter, and the image became a little more clear.

You smiled, knowing that all would be all right.   You could see her now, slowly coming into place.

She was your rock, your anchor.  The fact that she was there, standing in front of you, meant that whatever you were passing through, would indeed pass.  She was your rock, your anchor.

She was your lighthouse guiding home through the blurs of the storm.

You blinked, and thought for a moment that she would disappear, but when your eyes fluttered open, there she stood; your proud and welcoming beacon through the storm.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Story-A-Day #422: The Rough


A cool breeze blew out of the west, carrying with it a soft kiss of moisture that cut through the pressing summer heat.  It would probably bring rain before too much longer, but for now it was just a sweet relief.

I stepped up to the fourth green and lined up my shot, pushing the tee gently down into the dry surface of the green.  It had been a hot summer so far, the hottest I could remember, but that didn't keep me off the course.  I was a golfer after all, and a horrible one, so the more practice I could get, the better off I would be.

I lined up the shot, my eyes focused intently on the ball, then quickly glanced towards the distant flag fluttering in the soft breeze.  It was a little over 250 yards, but it was also downhill.  I could conceivably get on in one, I just needed to remember what I had been taught.

I lined my feel up, toes lining towards the distant pin.  I kept my arms straight, and my head down and took a few confident, and comfortable, practice swings.  It was feeling pretty good.  I nudged forward a bit, lined up the shot again, then wiped the back of my hand across my sweaty brow.  This was the big moment, the chance to get on in one, and hopefully a birdie.  I was only two over par, and this would get me caught right up.

I lined up the shot, raised the driver, and swung.  It was a big miss, but I was able to pitch it to my friends as a practice shot; fully intended for sure.

I made great gestures to pretend that it was all as planned, that I had wanted one last practice swing.  I stepped back up to the tee and repeated my mantra: arms, knees, feet, focus.

I swung the driver down again, and heard the satisfying 'ting' of a well-connected shot.  I realized too late that the only problem with my shot, was that I had an eye on the ball already.  I watched as it slowly swung off into the trees to the right of where I wanted it to go.

I was in the rough again, where I played my best game, if only by default...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Story-A-Day #421: Tear The Night Sky Asunder


He waited patiently all day, watching as the hours slowly rolled over each other in their inevitable march towards the infinite.

He waited out morning and sat through the blazing afternoon heat, drifting languidly in the lake like the lily pads that surrounded him.

He ate a big meal up at the cottage: steak, potatoes, beans, and other complimentary culinaria, and washed it all down with a few glasses of earthy red wine.

He watched as the sun slowly descended behind the trees, spreading morning ever forward and leaving darkness in its steady westward wake.

The moment was approaching, his patience steadily paying off.  He stood on the large weathered wooden deck of the cottage and looked down over the pink-purple mirror of the lake's surface.  He placed a finger in his mouth and slowly raised the moistened tip towards the sky.  No wind at all.  Ideal conditions.

He nodded to the others and made a silent march down towards the lake, swatting his hands at a couple of tenacious flies on his way towards the beach below.

He eased himself into a plastic lawn chair and stared out over the lake's mirrored surface, admiring the shimmering sky that rippled gently across to the distant shore.

The bonfire next to him shifted into itself, sending a spiral of sparks on an upward pirouette into the night.  A loud pop erupted from one the logs, and the fire resumed its slow and steady hiss, crackle, pop.

A chorus of crickets sounded off, eager for the main event, but he had been patient, and he would patiently wait a few moments more.

Tonight was the night he would tear the sky asunder...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Story-A-Day #420: Shattered Symmetry


She was always a big fan of the patterns in life, the random moments that lead to new revelations - seemingly through no more than chance.  She relished the moments when she would hear a cover song by a band, say Faith No More performing "Easy" by Lionel Ritchie, on her satellite radio then change to a random channel and hear Lionel Ritchie singing whatever he was singing.  It didn't matter what Lionel was singing on the other channel, the fact that the two totally separate channels could be so close always made her smile.

It was the same feeling she encountered when she would randomly recall a conversation or moment spent with someone long since forgotten, only to run into them later that day at the grocery store. It was fascinating happenstance, and it got her excited every time.  It made her think there was more to life than the mundane routine she sometimes felt trapped in.

She found though, that after a few years of fixating on random butterflies flapping their wings to create new realities in her world, that nothing much mattered anymore.

She was bored.  She wanted more.  She wanted the unknown that existed within the known.  What she wanted most, was to be able to see the patterns that so clearly existed just beneath the surface of what was plainly perceived.  Everything clearly happened for a reason.  There was no fate or destiny, only that which had been preordained.

Her dilemma became how to plot the inevitable without a solid definition, and it remained her elusive goal.

It trickled down over a span of several years, and it seemed the harder she sought the patterns, the more elusive they proved to be.  Eventually it got to a point where even the most obvious patterns blurred into an indistinguishable smear of the recognizable.

Perfectly set tables, place mats aligned and cutlery squared immaculately, would blur and shimmer into an unknown smear that was almost unrecognizable from the arrangement she had originally sat down before.

She would look to the stars at night, and the constellations would realign because there could truly be no constants in life...

That is what she often felt, and how she always viewed the world.  And then one day, she walked into the ocean expecting it to part and reveal a passage to Europe.

The ocean did not part.  The ocean pummeled her with its warm salty fists and sealed her stinging eyes to a new reality:  That which is random, is random by its very definition.  There can be no seeking out the random patterns in life, for those patterns is what makes life random by its very nature.

Random is not something which can be truly be defined in nature, nor in life.  Just as symmetry can not be reduced to the equal parts of a whole having an equal representation, it is something much harder defined.

As she sputtered to the surface of her shattered reality, and gasped for life, she realized the error of her ways.  There are no true patterns in life due to the very nature of life itself.  Life is a random assortment of moments that happen to be immaculately structured throughout time, only for those moments to drift apart throughout the very passage of that which gave them essence to begin with:  Time.

In that single moment of salty sputtering she realized what was true, and honest, and essential in life...


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

N... Is For Nostaligia

Reflecting Is Usually Where it Begins...


The effect of nostalgia is quite potent for someone like me.  I have always been a firm believer that the past is all that truly matters, especially in the bigger scheme of things.

History repeats itself...

Learn from your mistakes...

If you think about the concept of time, it becomes quite evident:  The future is intangible, and therefore might as well not even exist.  There is no way for us to predict what is going to happen, therefore we are encouraged to live in the moment.  Carpe diem...  And yet, the present exists in a moment of time so brief and fleeting, that it has no real relevance until it has already come to pass.  Therefore, the past is all that really matters.

It is not that we should dwell upon the past, or live in its wash of hazy recollection, but that we should look to our pasts in order to better our futures.  We can learn from our mistakes, but just as importantly, we can learn from our successes.  What makes us better, or worse, as individuals exists in unique pockets of our past and we should all take those moments, and use them to our benefit.

I have had people tell me that they had traumatic childhoods, or that my reasoning is flawed in some cases.  I respect their views, but I believe my theory to stand true, at least to me.

"What if you were molested as a child?  Would you want to cling to that past?" I was once asked.

And my answer is, I would.  Fortunately, I was loved by my parents and never subjected to such pains and torments, but if I had been, I would hope that I would look to that dark and negative experience as a place for inspiration.  I would hope that it would encourage me to ensure that all children were safe from such harms, and that my own hypothetical future children would be free from such terror.

That is how I feel we can build from the past in the bigger scheme of things...

That is the heavy end of the spectrum though.  There is also the creative end of things as far as writing is concerned.  Without experience; without the nostalgia factor, and by extension a past well lived and travelled, a writer would have very little to write about.

When I was young, I was positive monsters existed.  They were everywhere, and I was constantly jumping at invisible shadows and things that go bump in the night.  I spent many sleepless nights convinced that my entire existence was about to be snuffed out, and yet I wouldn't change a single second of it.

A few of my inspirations - and one autographed copy!

Fear is one of the things we lose first.  It is perhaps the most primal emotion and we soon learn that there is not terror lurking around every bend; outside every branch scratched bedroom window.  The works of authors Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz populated my tween and early teen reading lists only to be replaced by the incredible works of Ray Bradbury, and in more recent years, the fantasies of Charles DeLint and Neil Gaiman.  I embrace the fantastical, but especially so when it is written in a way that is seems a little too plausible.  A little too much like maybe the author might have an inside track...

That is the gift of Bradbury, and what is often referred to as his successors.  The thing is, none of his so-called "successors" (and this is a guess on my part) would like to be referred to in that way, just as I hope to not be viewed as a successor to any of the authors I so admire.  Admiration is the key, and each new generation of authors creates new admirers for those who came before, and new inspiration for those who will come after.

I prefer to think that we are all creators working on one massive loom that is steadily weaving a great quilt of stories beneath which future generations of writers can seek shelter, and in turn, pick up the loose ends and continue what was started before.

The nostalgia factor can be potent and it is something that I can always see traces of in my favourite works of art.

Growing up, one of the novels that I read and re-read the most was Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon.  That magical book was full of nostalgia, but more importantly, it was full of plain old magic.  My remaining copies are so battered from use that they no longer seem able to be read (something I must remedy soon) so I downloaded it from iTunes to always have with me.  I remember there being a quote early on in that modern masterpiece about how we are all born into a world of magic and wonder and how over time, it is slowly scrubbed, religioned and educated out of us.

I hope that is not the case with you.  I hope that you are still clinging to all the magic that nostalgia has to offer and that you are spreading that magic far and wide.

I encourage you to check out these authors, and to re-familiarize yourselves with some of the authors who originally inspired you.  And when you go to sleep tonight, make sure you curl up under a quilt woven from nothing but the purest of magic and nostalgia...

That's where the best of dreams take place, the dreams of childhood that will inspire you onward.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look.

 "Where do you get your ideas?"

That is one of the most common questions I am asked about my writing and films.  To be honest with you, it is a tricky question because it can be both very easy to answer, and very difficult.

I'll start with the easy answer.  Inspiration is all around us, and by extension, ideas.  The photo above is a good example of inspiration.  It would make a great shot in a movie for sure, but that one simple photo could also inspire a half-dozen stories with very little meditation:

1.  What lurks beneath those floating leaves?
2.  The frog prince who was too clumsy to reach the princess two pads over.
3.  The daily bloom and collapse of the water lily.
4.  The painter who strives to capture the strokes of the great impressionists.
5.  The person who nearly drowned in the youth, finally drawn back to the water by a beautiful flower.
6.  The man who is certain a beautiful mermaid lives in his lake.

Those are six stories I could easily write based on that one photo alone.  So that would be the easy answer:  I get my inspiration from life, and I constantly seek out the stories around me.  Anything can inspire a decent story.  Any decent story can inspire a satisfying film.

The harder answer is in fact a bit of a non-answer.  Where do I get my ideas?  Sometimes I have to sit down and plot them out.  I have to map out the characters and arcs, and major plot points in order for the story to solidify.  Writing longer narratives in particular is a bit like making Jello: You have to keep stirring the ingredients until they all start to come together, then you have to let it chill until the character, plot and themes solidify.  When I am writing a novel, that is usually how I will start.

Sometimes you just have to go for it.

With my shorter pieces though, it is more like a brief possession.  I will sit down with very little idea about what is I am going to write.  This is never more true than with my "Story-A-Day" project.  With each of those 400+ stories, I start by selecting a photo, and the stories almost seemed to write themselves.  I try not to go back and edit them, which leads to some embarrassing spelling and grammar errors, but I like that they are all very much stream of consciousness efforts.

With my films, there is a little more thought put into narrative crux, character motives, and audience lures, but they tend to start off as very simple concepts as well.  From the concept stage, I then reverse engineer the story and it is often the twist or reveal that defines what the remainder of the story will be.

Stories are everywhere, which makes me truly fortunate because all I have to do is collect them and tell them.

And where does inspiration come from?

It comes from everywhere.  Inspiration lurks in the darkness of night, it flourishes in the beauty of nature, it falls and rises through the fragility and strength of humanity, and it explodes outward from all the stories that came before.

That is where my ideas come from.  If you are looking for inspiration, all you need to do is look.  It is everywhere...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Story-A-Day #419: The Hunter


He didn't do it for the kill, he did it for the thrill.  It was strictly catch and release, and as much as it was about the thrill of snagging those little crustaceans before they shot off to a new place of shelter, the hunt was usually for something even bigger.

He would wade through those waters, turning over rocks as he went.  A gentle lift or role, to not stir up the sandy bottom of the lake.  He had been a crayfish hunter for as long as he could remember, and the process hadn't changed much over the years.  A lift or a role and hopefully there one would be one of the beady eyed critters staring up.

Typically they would freeze for a moment, perhaps wondering how that heavy hiding spot had so suddenly disappeared.  Their little claws would lift up, almost like they were reaching for the rock, or maybe shielding their small black eyes from the sudden bright glare of the sun.

The best thing to do at that point is angle an open hand behind the crayfish and wait for it to scoot backwards into the trap.

He flipped the new rock over and spotted the yellow-brown crayfish hunching inwards on itself.  He lowered his other had into the water and looked down at the big snuffling bulldog next to him.

"See that buddy?"

The crayfish scuttled backwards and he quickly scooped it up.  They were not nearly as mobile out of the water, and while they did wield two lobster-like claws, the clamp was a mere pinch.  He held it in front of the dog's snuffling nose for a minute, then dropped the tiny creature back into the water.

He smiled and ruffled the dog's ears, then stared up into the clear summer sky.

He wasn't really hunting for crayfish.  He was hunting for that most elusive of treasures: the innocence of youth.  Life tends to obscure the simplicity of days gone by, and the greatness of a long summer's day to a twelve-year old boy.

Sometimes it takes no more than a simple act to revert ones self back to those simpler times.  Catching a crayfish, tossing a baseball, climbing a fence or a tree.  These are the experiences that he was truly hunting...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Story-A-Day #418: Oiseau Blanc Ciel Bleu


She stared at me, her face a mask of frustration and confusion.  She shifted from foot to foot, then licked her lips and pointed to the skies.  I glanced upwards, following the direction of her slender, pointing finger.

She glanced back at me, then back to the sky and I heard the strange words repeated once more:  "Il y avait un grand oiseau blanc dans le ciel bleu, juste par là-bas!"

She looked back at me, and I in turn glanced at the others who were with us.  They all shook their heads, just as uncertain as I was.  I could see our friend's frustration deepening.  She had just moved here from Quebec and was trying very hard to assimilate.  She stared straight at me and pointed over her shoulder, her finger thrusting angrily to the distance blue skies behind her.

"Ciel bleu.  C'est le ciel bleu."

"The sky?" I asked.

"Yes," she replied in a broken english accent, her face lighting up.  "C'est le ciel bleu!"

I nodded and repeated her words.  "See-el blue."

She scrunched her face up and made a fifty-fifty waving motion with her hand then paused for a moment.  I could tell she was deep in thought and I couldn't help but smile at the valiant effort.  After a few fidgety moments, her face lit up again, sending her eyebrows into high arcs of surprise over her big chocolate brown eyes.

She took a step back on the wooden boardwalk we were all standing on and motioned to me, her elected translator, to pay attention.  I nodded my head, letting her know I was.  I found a slow smile spreading across my face as she wound up, and the smile erupted into full blown laughter as she started flapping her arms and making cooing bird noises at me.

She scowled and I raised my hands apologetically.  "A bird, right?" I asked.  "You saw a a bird in the see-el blue?"

She nodded her head.  "Votre Francais est horrible, mais..." she paused.  "Yes, a bird in bleu sky."

I smiled, and nodded my head, pointing up to the sky.  She turned to follow my finger, staring up into the bright, blue summer sky.  Once she was facing the opposite way, I commented in the most casual manner I could,  "Vous avez vue un grand oiseau blanc dans les ciels bleus toute là-bas," I pointed out.  "You saw a big white bird in the blue sky over there?"

She spun quickly on her heels and I knew better than to wait around.  I could hear the laughter of our friends echoing in the distance as I sprinted off along the boardwalk.  Ahead to my right, I could see a large white bird circling in the clear, blue skies, and I would have paused to watch its lazy drift, but I could hear small, angry footsteps hot on my heels.

Story-A-Day #417: Seeker

They told me it was a fool's errand, a wasteful pursuit of the unattainable.  I told 'em they were probably right; and then I told 'em I didn't care a lick either way.  That's always been a part of my nature.  Some'd call it a surly disposition, others'd just say I carry a stubborn streak a mile wide.  I just call it what it is: bein' me.

I never had no pursuits on bein' different.  I always been just this one person.  I always been what I reckon is a type o' person best sorted as a seeker.  Thing is though, I ain't never been all that certain 'bout what it is I been seekin'.

I reckon my way with words might paint me as an uneducated man, but truth told, I'm well aversed in the ways of language and sciences.  You gotta be to be doin' what I do.  Mostly within the pursuits of science...  Or at least in the rules of science.  I'm a seeker, and I still be seeking what it is I search.

That makes no sense to many, and I don't even know you; thing is, it's always been the same with me.  We as a people ain't got no clue what it is we looking for.  I ain't never felt bad 'bout been a little "without purpose" because it sends a wee bit of adventure into the boredom of the search.

Ain't always an easy thing to seek out the unknown, but I am a purest, and the purest pursuit is always that of the unknown and undiscovered.

Truth be told, I mostly put on a facade to help get rid of unwanted questions.  I am a highly educated individual, but in  the wilds, with my big, rusty excavator, it's a far simpler process to plead ignorance and put on an official front of stupid simplicity, than it is to try to explain that which has no clear explanation.

I apologize for the subterfuge.  It was not my intent to mislead you today...

The thing is, you seem to have a pretty good head on your shoulders, so let me turn the tables.  What is it that you are seeking?  Not an easy question, because we all have different things we seek, and at the end of the day, you - just like me, might not really know what you are looking for.

Where I have a slight edge though, is in my machine.  It may very well be a rusted hulk to you, but to me, it is a tool to facilitate my search.  Think about what it is you seek, because we all seek something.

Some seek comfort, or true love, or financial security.  Some seek solace, redemption, spiritual peace.  Some seek a quick fix in a dark alley, or a moment of seedy sexual gratification.

It doesn't matter whether you strive for Olympic gold, or acknowledgement for the simple things you do on a daily basis: we are all seekers.

You see now why I put on a front; why I paint myself as a simpleton seeking.  You see now why what I seek is better left a mystery.  I seek many things in life, and in this particular bog, I seek the unknown.  Maybe I will find the ancient remains of some long expired species.  Or oil.  Or gold...

Maybe all I will find is peat moss.  Layer upon layer of peat moss.  That would still be a sufficient treasure for its burning potential alone.  The best part of seeking is not the search, but the eventual find and I am quite content knowing my goal has yet to be discovered.

The quest of this simpleton is a simple one that revolves around the hunt, but my quest gives me an advantage.  You know what it is you seek, and for most of us, that is a daunting prospect because we don't know where to find it.

I'm a seeker.  I been digging up a swamp to find unknown riches or resources.  You been digging up the past all along hopin' that you gonna find that which you ain't yet defined.  With that, I wish ya luck... 

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Thousand Words...


It seems like just the other year, mostly because it was, that I decided to start a little project I fondly (and quite ambitiously) referred to as my Story-A-Day project.  What some of you may not realize was that I only ever intended for that project to last for a year, at which point I would turn to you, the reader, to vote for the best stories produced.

My goal from there was to take the top stories, and turn them into a coffee table book called A Thousand Words.  It was, and is still, my vision that the top voted for stories would be expanded into exactly 1,000 word versions of their initial blog version and printed next to their accompanying photo.

I am still working out the printing logistics and fees to bring this from the dream realm into reality, but I have tackled my first requested short story and expanded it to exactly 1,000 words (title excluded).

The original story was feature way back at 300 and was called Totem.  It was, in its original draft, 282 words, and yet, even in its expanded version, it maintains the same tones and them - only expanded upon and improved.

I think this is a good example of how this project could succeed, but I don't want to spoil anything by giving you the revised 1,000 word version.  I think that if this is something you might be interested in backing, you should tell me which stories most struck home with you a reader, and we can go from there.

Please, read through the copious amount of stories there and let me know which you prefer on Facebook, or by email at

Thanks for reading, and hope to hear from you soon...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Story-A-Day #416: The Old Crooked House


When I was growing up in my old neighborhood, there was a house we always avoided.  It is not uncommon to hear this from people, but this house was one that no one went near.  Not even on a dare, or a double dare, or a triple dog dare.  It was just something that none of the kids in the neighbourhood would do.

The house existed in the shadows of the escarpment, a darkly shaded monstrosity that was all crooked angles and ominous groans.  Walking past it, you could often hear strange noises drifting from the creaking, hulking mass of the old crooked house.  We would hear groans sometimes, almost like it was sagging into itself.  Other times, there would be a soft, low, whistling that drifted out toward the street almost daring us to venture forth.

We never would though.

There were stories about that house, dark and evil stories filled with blood, torture, torment, and despair.  Even with the wanton recklessness of youth on our side, we knew better than to tempt the fates.

In our adolescent years, we grew a little bolder, but our brazenness was limited to sipping home brew beers stolen from our parent's cellars and staring in at the old crooked house from the pool of light cast down by the streetlight above.

We would talk about sneaking through the shadowy yard and knocking on the door.  We would talk about standing there and waiting for someone to answer the door.  Inevitably at that point, the conversation would turn to who would answer the door.

Sometimes we would hypothesize a dark, demonic force; other times a radiant half-naked succubus who would drag us into her lair and have her way with our nubile teen aged bodies.

But it was all a farce.  The closest we came to that house was the stones we kicked in its direction.

The fact that I had never summoned the courage to approach the house always loomed over me, even after I moved to the big city for my big job.  Even after I fell in love with my big love and we started our big family.  All those big accomplishments only served to reinforce the fact that I had never been big enough to knock on that door.

One summer, I drove back home with my family packed in our big minivan.  I had made up my mind to go and knock on that door.  With age and maturity on my side this time, I now imagined an elderly gentleman answering the door and greeting me with a smile that told me how happy he was to finally have someone stop by for a visit.

I excused myself after dinner, claiming a need for fresh air, and slowly wandered down those familiar old streets towards the old crooked home.  When I finally arrived there, I was greeted by a vacant lot filled with scraggly grass and charred tree stumps.

The house had burned down two summers before under mysterious circumstances.  I would not have my moment.

As I slowly turned to head back home, a soft groan drifted out from the lot.

It was enough to put a little extra pep into my step.