The Mirror’s Gaze

© Thomas Harris

“Here is a list of terrible things,
The jaws of sharks, a vultures wings,
The rabid bite of the dogs of war,
The voice of one who went before,
But most of all the mirror’s gaze,
Which counts us out our numbered days.”
― Clive Barker, Days of Magic, Nights of War

I did promise a while back that I’d return to the theme of horror fiction, undoubtedly my favourite genre. As a result, this somewhat horror-related post will be lacking the lighthearted humour of my usual fare, so please skip this if you’re not in the mood for heavy and ponderous (you can’t even imagine how much I wanted to add a “LOL” at the end of that sentence). Continue reading “The Mirror’s Gaze”

Take Off, Eh?

I’ve read some interesting debates online recently pertaining to the differences between UK and US English. Just last week, our own Hise highlighted the differences between the two Englishes when it involves the punctuation surrounding dialogue. Boy (George), do people take this stuff seriously. As well they should, though—our wondrous English language is as essential to us writers as pickled sheep’s eyes dipped in fruit bat guano are to pregnant women. Utterly indispensable. But I ain’t going there. Neither pregnant women nor the Limey/Yank debate, nosiree. Not even fruit bats. No, I want to talk today about a different type of English, and one that oftentimes gets completely overlooked in these discussions: Canadian English.

Let me begin with a story. When I first arrived in this vast, slightly bewildered country from England in the late ’80s, I quickly found work in a group home for abused/neglected teens. Back then, I’m mildly ashamed to say, I smoked. A lot. Cigarettes, mostly (but I didn’t inhale, I swear). So, one evening I was involved in a stressful situation dealing with a kid who was flipping out about something or other, and once calm had returned, I said (ostensibly to myself, but for some reason the words emerged as out-loud speech instead of innermost thoughts… no doubt my first mistake), “Boy could I use a fag right about now.” All of a sudden, I had the rapt and wary attention of every teenager in that home. You could have cut the silence with a great big silence cutter (I was far lazier with my metaphors back then). They stared. I stared back. Someone laughed nervously and said “duuuude” under his breath. In that shaky skateboarder voice—you know the one. Now, don’t get me wrong, it ought to go without saying that the humour of this moment isn’t at the expense of gay people, it’s at the expense of a stupid, bigoted word alongside my own naivety and the propensity of adolescents to tend toward the homophobic. A perfect storm of awkwardness, really. Continue reading “Take Off, Eh?”

Redux: The Book Was Better

This is an encore presentation of a previous post by author David Antrobus, from the Franklin Mint’s David Antrobus collection.editor’s note.

“I just saw the movie, wasn’t a patch on the book.”

If I’d stuffed my face with a deep-fried Mars bar every time I heard this sentiment, I’d probably lose a weigh-in with an elephant seal, have a mouthful of teeth with the average consistency of a sea sponge, and skin the overall texture of pepperoni by now. I’ll bet every last one of us has said something similar, though. Which makes every last one of us a bit weird, really. Not quite stupid, but getting there, you know?

Let me explain my thinking. (I find I have to do that a lot, which says nothing good about me whatsoever.)

It’s actually quite simple. A book is a book. A movie is a movie. And Popeye is what he is… an extremely odd-shaped sailor with a fetish for canned green vegetables.

Seriously, though, “the book was better” has become one of those irksome knee-jerk phrases that are stand-ins for something else entirely. See: “it’s political correctness gone mad!” which actually means “damn, the world doesn’t condone my bigotry any more, so I’ll just have this here tantrum instead”. Or: “I knew them before they were famous” which translates as “I am an unctuous hipster and will drip oily, corrosive scorn on, you know, like, everyone not in the inner circle of me, dude.” Continue reading “Redux: The Book Was Better”

Use Your Imagination

Life is busy at the moment, so please forgive the short post. One of the earliest pieces of writing advice I ever remember reading arrived courtesy of Stephen King. It was three simple (if slightly crude) words: “ass in chair.” Okay, fine. Thanks for that, Stephen. It can’t be argued with, though. But the next question occurs once you have molded said body part firmly onto the furniture in question: how do you keep it there? How do you stay motivated and focused enough to type out the allotted number of words at whatever rate you’ve set yourself? Well, this week I thought I’d be helpful and share five simple techniques to keep you in your seat, facing your screen, typing mindlessly into a document. An activity we mystifyingly insist on calling “writing”. Continue reading “Use Your Imagination”