Sunday, July 31, 2005

Atom Films Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Big Jeff

Atom Films

Image hosted by
When I was trolling around on the internet, I came across an interesting and eclectic website. It was through the Jamie Oliver website that I found a link to an animated website called, which is kind of funny if you like nudity, swearing, and Australia (which, oddly enough, I do!). From there, I found a link to

On this site there are a variety of short films and animated shorts; as well, they have the animated video for The Arcade Fire's song 'Neighbourhood #3 (Power Cut).

This site is one you could spend a lot of time in, and I'm looking forward to doing more of that in the days to come.

Is it a scarf? Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Is it a scarf? Is it a belt? Or is it a headband? No, it's Superman... I mean, super accessory!

I'm talking about the skinny scarf - you know the one. You see them everywhere, literally - because they are just so darned versatile! Wear it as a tie or wrap it around your neck like a scarf; sling it through your belt loops and tie in over your hip; or tie your hair back with it (Prada was showing a lot of these in their spring show...). And the more colourful, the better! Pretty much any type of material goes (short of the wool scarf that grandma knitted scarf for you the Christmas you turned eight).

John Baldry Funeral Service Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Funeral services for legendary blues artist Long John Baldry will be taking place this Sunday, July 31, at 6:30 pm in the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island, Vancouver. The service is open to the public, and Rod Stewart has contributed money to help put on the event.

Bad Poet’s Society Submitted by Mike

Swank Home

Mike’s Page

Image hosted by

Happy Poem
shave and engrave
enslave me with rabies
my hands are the plague
one foot in the gravy

Angry Poem
fuck this
fuck that
fuck you
fuck us
fucky fucky fucky
at the back of the fuck bus

Sad Non Rhyming Poem
my birch bark soul
to watch myself sleep
in a waking dream,
your hangnail
smells like coffee
and pine,
the bottom of the sea
a thousand starving fax machines
love ain't no stranger

Sexy Poem

if you’re horny, let’s do it
ride it, my pony
my saddle’s waitin’
come and jump on it*

*[I actually stole this one from Ginuwine. What the hell happened to Ginuwine? He's probably on some island with Skee-Lo and Lou Bega.]

Converse Crazy Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

image from
Image hosted by
I go to lots of concerts, and overwhelmingly, the footwear of choice is the Converse All Star.

But this shoe is not new - oh no! The Converse All Star has been around for - get this - almost 80 years! Yes, indeed, 1917 is the date that the Converse All Star was first produced, if you can believe it. And since I've yet to see a picture of a flapper wearing these shoes, I do, quite frankly, have a hard time believing it! But it is, indeed, a fact.

There are about 400 different versions of the All Star produced every year (and that does not include the knock-offs!). Since 1923, over 750 million pairs have been sold.

For more information, go to:

I'm giving my notice on Monday Submitted by Andrew Hoshkiw

Swank Home

Andrew’s Page

On the cabin, that is.

Then I can be out at the end of August, and into an apartment.

Four months of living in a cabin in the woods will be enough for me. It was fun, but there are certain things I miss.

Like electricity, running water and having a phone.

Besides, winter is coming. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw snow here before the end of September, so it might be best to get out before that. Cold is not good. And I doubt my car would be able to make it up and down the steep, unpaved road leading to the cabin if it was icy.

The best plan would be to find a place within walking distance of downtown, and then leave my car at home most days. When I lived here before, I had a place about a kilometre from work, and I walked every day, no matter how cold it got.

I also think I'm going to propose an idea to my boss: for the freelancing, that instead of paying me piece by piece for everything submitted, I be paid a flat amount for submitting a certain minimum.

It'd be to their advantage, because it'd cost them less. They could print more stuff without worrying about budgeting.

And the advantages to me would be twofold. I'd get more stuff printed, with much more potential for photo spreads and front page photos, and I'd get a title out of it. I'd no longer be a "freelancer." Instead, I'd become a "reporter" or maybe even an "arts editor."

That would be cool. Though I'd make a little less, it'd make the work experience gained here a lot more valuable.

Image hosted by

To read a concert review by Andrew Hoshkiw go to

Window Shopping, Seattle-style Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

We went down to Seattle to see The Go! Team in concert, and decided to stay on a couple of days. The morning after the concert we did some window shopping in the downtown core. There are quite a few stores there that we don't have in Vancouver (Barney's New York, Sephora, Betsey Johnson, etc.), so it was interesting just snooping around, takin' a gander - whatever colloquialism one wants to use.

Image hosted by

At Barney's, there were two major trends I observed: the boho look that has been around for a while (and that I hope is leaving soon!), and another that's both old and new - that beautiful late 1950s/early 1960s form-fitting look with fitted jackets, pencil skirts, 3/4 length sleeve, a few Peter Pan collars - just think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Mary Tyler Moore on the Dick Van Dyke show and you'll know what I'm talking about. Personally, this is a look I love - it is just SO becoming!

At Betsey Johnson we saw a lot of flounce, and pink and black seemed to be the colour of the hour. Elsewhere, there was a definite trend that pervaded most other stores: pink, brown and blue where the consistent colour choices being shown.

Image hosted by

And guys, if you're looking for a new winter coat, pea jackets seem to be the order of the day.

You heard it here first!

I'm not convinced Submitted by Andrew Hoshkiw

Swank Home

Andrew’s Page

Has anyone been following the Yukon Bigfoot story that's been going on here? It's been covered by all the international media. Read about it at these sites:

BBC News

Los Angeles Times

Globe and Mail


I'm not convinced there's no Bigfoot though. How can nine people say they saw it, and then have it turn out to be a bison? My theory is the Sasquatch was simply wearing bison firs. Maybe I'll take a drive this weekend out to Teslin to see if I can get photos of the elusive creature.

image from

Image hosted by

Snobgirls Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Image hosted by
Dry hair? Damaged hair? Frizzy hair?

Did you answer yes to any - or all - of the above? Then have I got a product for you!

Snobgirls Paris Hair Vitamin Serum is a funky new product designed to improve brittle, coloured, or unmanageable hair. This product is a serum loaded with vitamins that comes in a cute little capsule that one just twists open then applies to the hair - no shampooing or rinsing required. Available at select drugstores and salons near you.

Go to: Snobgirls

Dawson City was Awesome Submitted by Andrew Hoshkiw

Swank Home

Andrew’s Page

I don't know though whether to declare it the best festival of the summer.

Dawson had better music, but Atlin was more festive.
And Haines Junction had both great music and partying.
Maybe a tie between the three?

Which ever was best, it doesn't matter. They all had their highlights. It was a great experience getting to go to all of them. I feel blessed to have had this opportunity.

I've always envisioned arts journalism to be a lot of fun, and it has been. In less than three months, I've met over a hundred bands, and very few of them have disappointed me.

Most were names I had never heard of. Now, I think that if I ever come across a concert by any of these artists, I won't pass it up:
Gob, Amoral Minority, Wayne Lavallee, Nemesis, Fuller's Earth, The Whiskeydicks, The James King Band, Down to the Wood, Canadian Whitewater Bluegrass, Scott MacLeod, Dec and the As, Say No More, Ivonne Hernandez, Chester Knight and the Wind, Soir de Semaine, DobaCaracol, Greg MacPherson, Joel Plaskett, Eivor Palsdottir and Bill Bourne

I handled the Dawson festival completely differently from the previous five. Rather than following it up with a long, tiresome article full of praise for the organizers with short snippets of interviews with as many musicians as possible, this time I hardly talked to anyone besides the artists, and conducted a few interviews.

I ended up writing two stories, focusing on a total of four musicians with longer, more in-depth interviews.

My initial reasoning for doing it this way was because I was pissy about the organizers. They wouldn't let me in the hospitality tent, meaning I had limited access to the musicians and no access to the free food, and they were temperamental whenever I was in the backstage area.

But I couldn't write something bad, not after hearing such great music.

Oh, and did I mention I gave a ride up to the festival a reporter from the other paper? It's true. He couldn't find a way of getting there, and I had space.

His plan was to find a ride back Sunday, or hitch if necessary. I had booked Monday off so that I could enjoy the Sunday night performances and parties.

But, when I found him Sunday evening out of luck, stuck and afraid of losing his job, I said we could just leave at midnight, after the show ended, and get back around 5:00 a.m.

Which is what we did. It was okay though. I saw all the music I wanted to see, and really had had enough partying and camping.

Anyhow, about 50 km north of Whitehorse, the low fuel light went on, and we began to get worried. But we made it. I filled the tank at the first open gas station. By my estimate, there was less than half a litre of fuel left.

So there are no more music festivals now. All I have to look forward to now are art openings, theatre performances and the occasional concert. They'll have to do, I guess.

This weekend there's some sort of native celebration a little west of here. I think I'll go to that. Wayne Lavallee will be playing,

And then the next long weekend is mid-August, and not at the start of the month like most Canadians have. Maybe I'll go for a drive, check out Anchorage...

Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Sculpture from the Iris and B, Gerald Cantor Foundation

Vancouver Art Gallery (June 18-Sept. 22)
Currently at the Vancouver Art Gallery is Vancouver's first ever major Rodin exhibit. This is also the first time in thirty years that any Rodin pieces have been shown in Vancouver.

The young sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was denied entrance into the top art schools of the time, which was likely a liberating experience for him as he was able to go on to become one of the most important pioneers of modern sculpture through his use of fragmentation and his depiction of the frailty and vulnerability of the human body.

Rodin is most famous for his works 'The Thinker', 'The Kiss', and 'The Burghers of Calais', and this exhibit features a number of versions and studies for these works (including the heads of a couple of the burghers), as well as a number of his smaller works.
In his prime, Rodin was considered the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo, and this exhibit has enough pieces in it to allow one to see the development and progression of his work - you can decide for yourself.

Other exhibits at the gallery include Body: New Art from the UK. This exhibit is actually what attracted me to the VAG on the day of my visit, but frankly I was disappointed by it. Based on the theme of the body, the exhibit features a collection of work by 13 contemporary British artists, about half of them hailing from the yBa (young British artist) group, a loose collective. Their commentary on social rupture and dissent has been described as being aggressive and 'in your face', but just left me flat. The one bright spot in the exhibit was the self portraiture of photographer Sarah Lucas.
Image hosted by
Next was Franz West (May 28-Sept. 12), who is one of Europe's best known contemporary sculptors. His exhibit was divided into three different categories: Passstucke (Adaptives), Sculpture, and Furniture. Taking his inspiration from the performance art of of the Viennese Actionism movement of the 1960s, his adaptatives work involves pieces that are designed to be handled and posed with. Call me lazy, but I don't want to have to work at something myself to make it 'art' - that's the artist's job. I found this exhibit to be rudimentary at best.

My favourite piece of the day was found in the Wang Du: Parade exhibit. The artist is an Asian who is now permanently based in Paris. He is a sculptor who works in images that originate in the mass media. Essentially, he takes 2-D images and recreates them in a 3-D form. I especially liked 'Enter' (2004), a piece that had been commissioned for this exhibited and was done in a style reminiscent of R. Crumb.
Image hosted by

image by

Overall, I was once again disappointed with my trip to the gallery. Having been to a number of well-known galleries in Europe, I often find, in comparison, that the offerings at the VAG are presented in a very antiseptic way. It's a sad thing for me to say, as I always enjoy cheering for the home team, but in this case, I just can't give this exhibit my stamp of approval.

"Long-term offender re-arrested by police" Submitted by Andrew Hoshkiw

Swank Home

Andrew’s Page

Image hosted by

Read the CBC story Here

This guy, John Sam from Whitehorse, has been arrested and convicted of molesting children three times. Now he's been arrested again on various charges.

My question is, why do we keep letting these people out of prison? What's the point, when it just seems they're going to re-offend over and over and over?

You'd think the criminal justice people would come to realize that maybe this guy has a problem and maybe he shouldn't be out walking the streets.

Here's article
the article from February, when he was released on parole. According to the article, at the time of his release, police said "he is considered a high risk to re-offend against women and children."

But they had to let him out, as he had served his full 27-month sentence. The whole thing seems rather disgusting to me. 27 months doesn't seem like an appropriate length for a first offence, let alone the third.

And it says he refused treatment while in prison. My god, shouldn't that be a big requirement to getting released? If there's no rehabilitation at all, what good can they hope will come from releasing him?

Microsoft Genuine Advantage Validation Tool Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

Image hosted by

Microsoft have finally begun requiring Windows users to verify that their copy of Windows is genuine before downloading add-ons or updates to the OS via Windows Update.

I also just read on LCF’s blog that security updates are exempt from this check.

And interestingly enough, this verification check has been cracked with a beautifully simple solution - details here.


I have no problems with these at the office, since all our OSs are either OEM or open-source, so verification took place without a cinch.

But in err… other locales… I might just be tempted to use the crack instead.

Please note - whether or not you use original or pirated OS, please update it. It’s amazing how many people - even so-called IT experts - refuse to protect their PC from harm simply because they believe they are immune.

People - if there’s one thing anyone who is ever online should know - NO ONE IS IMMUNE.

Collage Exhibit: A Wandering Mind or Memory Echoes Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Karen Kroeker is a talented multi-media collage artist who is staging her first solo exhibit, having participated in a number of successful group shows recently.

Of special interest is a series of collages (14 in all) based on the same theme, that of a single female image found in an old fashion magazine. In addition, there are a number of other single pieces in the show.

Kroeker works in paper, fabric, paint, ink, oil and chalk pastel. About her work, she says "the images tell stories if you look at them carefully, and take some time to connect what you are looking at." She has been a full time secondary art teacher in Surrey for 29 years.

The exhibit is running August 5-27 at the White Rock Community Arts Council Gallery, which is located at 15232 Russell Avenue, White Rock.

5 Feet Away From An Angel Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

Image hosted by

I never learn my lesson.

Not long after a close encounter with a Goddess, I found myself today within whispering distance of my favourite Malaysian Idol - Jaclyn Victor. (The Jaclyn Victor Fan Club website is, sadly, only viewable in IE. If you know who the webmaster is, please flog him in public.)

Once again, I wished I had a camera with me….

However, my colleagues at the office keep saying that, in lieu of a photograph, I should have acquired her autograph.

Thing is, I’m not really much of an autograph-hunter. Even when I was a kid studying in La Salle, Brickfields, and I would walk home from my school past the DBKL sports training ground, and I’d see local footballing heroes like Fandi Ahmad and Lim Teong Kim drinking teh tarik at a nearby stall, even then I never went and asked for their autographs.

The reason is this: no one would believe me. How many people know the signature of Fandi Ahmad? Or Lim Teong Kim? Or even Jaclyn Victor?

Not many.

Which basically means I could sign a piece of paper using Jac’s name (notice how I’m pretending to be on a first name basis with her? I love being deluded...) and pass it off as her autograph.

Not a very satisfying con to pull.

But a photograph though... a picture is worth a thousand words… or maybe slightly less these days, depending on the current exchange rate.

So, from now on, I’m gonna be bringing my little amateur point-and-shoot camera EVERYWHERE. So watch out, selebriti-selebriti Malaysia, ‘cos here comes da Sashi!

Twilight Drive In Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Image hosted by

I read recently that in 1950 there were 2,200 drive-in movie theatres in North America; a year earlier, in 1949, there had only been 1,100. Today, the reverse trend is happening, with drive-in theatres disappearing faster than snow in the tropics.

Now, many of you will be familiar with drive-in movie theatres as the place young people would go in order to not watch movies (if you follow my drift...). But plenty of people have other sorts of happy memories of youthful hi-jinks at drive-in theatres, many involving smuggling friends into the theatre in their car trunk or other similarly kooky antics. One of my favorite memories of the drive-in is the old 'wiener in the bun' ad for the concession with its kitschy double entendre.

Currently, the Greater Vancouver area has been without a drive-in movie theatre for two years following the closure of Cloverdale's Hilltop Drive-in at the end of summer, 2003. With sky-rocketing land prices and development rampant, the owner of the Hilltop was forced to re-locate - and it hasn't been an easy task. Finding a new place was chore number one; gaining all the necessary permits was the next step. Then came the unexpected - while erecting the new screen, a problem caused the whole structure to collapse. A lengthy wait followed as the insurance companies duked it out, but now the Lower Mainland's only drive-in movie theatre is about to open: the Twilight Drive-in, located on Fraser Highway and 260th Street in Aldergrove, is preparing to open in time for the BC Day long weekend.

Seattle's Best Latte Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Just next door to Subpop Records is Uptown Espresso ("Home of the Velvet Foam"), a shop that claims they make Seattle's best latte (based on a poll done by the New York Times and other sources, apparently).

Seattle is, of course, home to the world famous Starbucks chain, and the not-quite-as-big-but-getting-bigger Seattle's Best Coffee chain. I had already had a Starbucks latte for breakfast that morning, so I did have some basis for comparison. I was curious about this claim - was it true? Was it a David vs. Goliath thing? Or were they just blowin' smoke, trying to play with the big boys?
I ordered a latte, and although it was good, it was merely on par with the one I had had in the morning: my breakfast Starbucks one had been too milky (a rare thing), whereas the UE latte left me with a slightly bitter aftertaste. As well, it was a little sparse on their famous 'velvet foam'.

So, not horrible by any stretch, but I have had better... although, come to think of it, not in Seattle. So perhaps what they say is true, after all...

Image hosted by Podcast your blog! Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

As I was browsing Paul Tan’s car blog, I noticed that he had added a link titled “Listen Audio Blog“. It’s a link to an MP3 of a female voice reading the contents of the particular post. Cool!

Being the curious cat that I am, I investigated further, checking out and registering for free. The concept is similar to online RSS-feedreaders, in that you sign up and then browse RSS feeds to subscribe. The only difference here is that once you select an RSS feed, then not only adds the feed to its database, but it also converts the text to speech. Once this is done, it displays a page containing the posts in the feed, with a link to an MP3 file of each post displayed alongside it.

It has its limitations, but still pretty cool…

By the way, I’ve added a link to the audio version of this post here.

Using Google Ads to display Amazon ads Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

OK, I don’t know if anyone would have noticed this, but occasionally, in the Google ad sections above and on the sidebar, instead of seeing a typical Google Ad, you might have spotted an ad instead.

It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

I did this because I was kinda tired of seeing the Public Service Ads displayed whenever Google can’t find any keywords worth selling on my blog - which, sadly enough, is most of the time.

This really isn’t a big deal, but after reading this post, Help

I figured I might as well share the method. It’s pretty simple, of course, and anyone would be able to figure it out if they just thought about it….

And before anyone asks, let me point out that Google’s Adsense policy does allow this.

Il Fornaio, Seattle Submitted by Lezah

image from
Image hosted by

On our first night in Seattle to see The Go! Team, we decided to walk around and see the sights. Coming back to the hotel, Dave spotted a restaurant down the road, just a block away, but we decided to go back to the hotel and see what the restaurant guide recommended.

As one can imagine, there were were many places to choose from, and many of them featured seafood (which doesn't excite me much, and excites Dave even less). Some of the places we were interested in were too far away; others were too expensive. Eventually we settled on Il Fornaio, which looked to be quite close, and lo and behold - it was the place Dave had spied earlier!

Turns out Il Fornaio started in Italy as a bakery in 1972, and then made its way across the ocean to North America. Chef Franz Junga had maintained an Italian theme, complete with Italian being the language of choice of the kitchen staff (and some of the servers, judging by their accents).

We were seated immediately, and the decor was very pleasing. Although it had been very hot outside, the restaurant was air conditioned so we were very comfortable. Right away our waitress brought a side plate, onto which she poured olive oil and then drizzled some balsamic vinegar. We were given some freshly baked bread, which was absolutely perfect - we were expected to dip this into the oil/vinegar mixture.

Dave ordered a Caesar salad to start, and it came looking a little more like a Chef's salad than a Caesar, complete with hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, and anchovies draped over the top (when, oh when will Americans learn to incorporate the anchovies into the dressing). So, not your classic looking Caesar, but was very good none the less - the dressing was a little more tart than the creamier Caesar we're used to, but it was still very good.
Then came out main course. Dave had ordered the Calzone, which came looking absolutely exquisite - like a work of art, almost. The crust was beautifully done, made up like a fancy pastry, and inside the calzone was a taste sensation with a variety of cheeses, meats and vegetables, which melded together without being overwhelming.

I had ordered the Steak Gorgonzola, which came topped with mushrooms and had a Tuscan salad on the side. The steak was perfectly done, and actually had fat along the side, which just added to the flavour. The gorgonzola and mushroom combination was exquisite.

For dessert Dave had homemade ice cream, while I had the raspberry cheese cake. Both were wonderful.

Throughout the meal, the wait staff was very attentive (but not annoyingly so) and frequently re-filled our waters and fizzy Italian lemonade (now there's a drink I'm going to try again!).
Overall, a fantastic dinner experience, and all for less than $50. You can't go wrong with that!

The Dahlia Lounge Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Image hosted by
When Dave and I were looking for places to go to dinner our first night in Seattle, we kept running into this name: Chef Tom Douglas. About three or four restaurants were connected with this 'legendary' Seattle chef, and so for our second day in Seattle, we decided to hit one of these spots, The Dahlia Lounge, which is located in the Belltown area of Seattle.

We were seated immediately, drinks were brought and we were served homemade bread within a matter of minutes. I ordered the Cobb Salad, while Dave went for the cheeseburger.

I've always wanted to try a Cobb Salad, but rarely run across one on a restaurant menu - here was my chance. My salad came topped with a very rare beef and had bacon bits, guacamole, boiled egg, heritage cherry tomatoes, and blue cheese on the side. This meal was a taste bud fantasy! Exquisite! The best meal I've ever had - or, at any rate, certainly the best lunch.

Dave's cheeseburger was extremely rare (the waitress had checked with him that this was okay beforehand - apparently this is the way they serve it). They grind their own beef in the restaurant, so I guess that decreases the risk of any food-born illnesses. But frankly, I'd risk any food-born illness for a bite of that burger again. A moister, juicier, more flavourful meat I've never had.

For dessert, I ordered the coconut cream pie, while Dave ordered the devil's food cake and ice cream with a red wine swirl. But, back to my pie: now, I don't usually like pie so I rarely order/eat it, but I can't pass up coconut cream. This one was unbelievably lush, with real coconut inside, topped with real whipped cream and white chocolate flakes mingled with toasted coconut. I wasn't as keen on the crust, finding it a bit bland, but Dave loved it, pronouncing it 'shortcake-like'. Hey, what do I know? His cake was richer than a king, obviously made with top quality dark chocolate, and the ice cream had the most interesting after taste.

Dave had ordered a strawberry cream soda which was okay, he felt, but he wouldn't order one again: he doesn't like soda water, and this was basically soda water, cream and strawberry juice/flavouring - not really his thing. I had a lemonade, which was very flavourful, and finished with coffee (they serve Starbucks).

Our meal was around the $40 mark, and this is a restaurant which I will immediately look up next time I'm in Seattle.

Jamie's Kitchen Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Image hosted by
image from

Sometimes a show that seems okay on TV takes on another dimension when seen on DVD. Being able to watch three or four (or more!) episodes in a row is exactly what some shows need - '24' being a case in point. I have a really hard time watching that show on TV, but couldn't shut the thing off when we saw it on DVD - I was glued to the set.

Jamie's Kitchen is another show that falls into that category. I'd seen one or two partial episodes while flicking channels, and thought it was merely okay. But when we got it on DVD and watched each episode in sequence - WOW!

The idea behind the show is that Jamie Oliver, the 26 year old British wunderkind of the kitchen, takes his riches and puts his money where his mouth is. He hand-picks 15 young unemployed British youth and puts them into a crash course where they train to be chefs in a not-for-profit restaurant Jamie opens. We see the idea basically from its genesis, with Jamie culling his chosen 15 from the hundreds who turned up for the casting call, and hunting for a suitable restaurant to open.

As with many reality-type shows, the focus is often on the problems and failures that result: from students who can't cut it and drop out; to construction costs that rocket from the original 750,000 pounds to an incredible 2.9 million pounds - all out of Jamie's own pocket. Some of the students' successes are ignored or glossed over in favour of showing the negative aspects of the experience, but hey, I guess that's what sells in TV Land...
Meanwhile, Jamie is dealing with personal things of his own too, such as a wife who is always complaining that he's never home, the birth of his first child, and a rapidly spiraling personal debt...

Through it all, there is the question - is this all a publicity stunt? This question comes up amongst his neophyte chefs, and is the source of much disgruntled murmuring and mumbling early on, which soon rises to a dull roar.

However, as time progresses and you see not only the huge personal sacrifice Jamie is making but also the incredible amount of personal anguish he goes through to get some of his trainees through the program, it soon becomes clear that Jamie is, indeed, extremely sincere in what he is doing.

When you think of what he does here - takes 15 'unemployables' and tries to turn them into world class chefs - it is truly amazing.

And the fact that Jamie himself is a mere 26 years old? Ah, it gives me faith in the youth of today!

The Vance Hotel, Seattle Submitted by Lezah

Swank Home

Dave and I went down to Seattle to catch The Go! Team concert, and decided to stay over-night rather than make the two hour trek back north once the show was over.

Back in June we had looked around on the internet and settled on what promised to be a very grand hotel, but never got around to booking it. So there we were, the day before the show, and we had nowhere to stay. We had discovered that our hotel of choice charged in excess of $400 per night for a room - time to re-think our plan! So back to the internet we went. Scared, I immediately jumped on the cheapest offering, a run of the mill looking place for $140. Still not happy, Dave looked further, and found the next cheapest place - The Vance. Frankly, even with the $40 price difference, there was no comparison - at least from what we could tell from the computer. We booked The Vance.

Arriving in Seattle, it was a very direct and quick 5-10 minutes off the freeway to the hotel. Turns out they offered valet parking and we didn't know where to park, so we took them up on the offer - for only $20 (a good price for parking in Seattle!) we had our car parked in a secure garage - no worries!

The lobby was under construction, but not distressingly so. Any construction-type work was taking place behind the temporary panels that had been put up - and they were personalized, having been autographed by pretty much anyone and everyone (ditto for the front desk).

Check in was quick, the staff was very pleasant, and we headed to our room.

Turns out one needs a key to gain access to the elevator (as well as the rooms), so there was an additional level of security there. Overall, the decor of the lobby and elevators was circa 1920, with lots of wood and marble and oriental carpets. Once on our floor, though, the style morphed into a blend of the old and the new: walls were a charcoal grey, the ceiling and door frames were painted black, and the room doors were papered with full sized black and white art photos depicting architectural scenes (for example, Roniq Bartanen's 'Courtyard, Paris' and 'Parc St. Claude, France' were two). Walking down the hall gave one the sensation of being in an art gallery. All the dark colours were off-set by the carpet, which was adorned with wide bands of black, grey and brilliant pink.

Our room was on the small side, but there was plenty of storage and the bulk of the room was taken up by the bed - and what a bed it was! All in white, piled high with pillows, it looked like a cloud - and felt like one! I don't think I've ever slept in such a comfortable bed before. The TV was very state of the art, all curved stainless steel, which echoed the decor in the bathroom, where the sink was a stainless steel bowl.

Due to construction, there was no restaurant facilities in the hotel, but in the morning the lobby was set up for a continental breakfast where one could come and browse.

Likewise, I didn't see any pool or gym, but frankly, we had no time to use such amenities anyway.

The hotel is very centrally located, right on the edge of the shopping district, and is a short walk over the hill to Pike Place Market, or an equally short walk through trendy Belltown (home of some great restaurants), or to the Space Needle/Experience Music Project.

One small note: the only slightly negative thing we experienced here were problems with the valets (well, 3 of the 4 we dealt with) being unable to start our vehicle - but then, it has an immobilizer on it and apparently that is not a common thing in Seattle, so I can understand the difficulties they had.

Overall, we were extremely happy with our stay and will definitely return there next time we're in town...

Alternate Ads Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

If you have elected to receive contextually targeted ads, you can make sure that your advertising space is always being used effectively, either by targeted Google ads, or by your own choice of content by specifying an image or ad server of your choice. However, you may not specify Google ads as your alternate ads.

So, first up, you need an Associate membership signup
. It’s free, so go and sign up.

Once you’ve signed up, login and click on ‘Build Links’. Then click on ‘Recommended Product Links’. Select the desired Product Category, keywords or subcategory, then select the ad size to correspond to your Google ad size.

You will then be provided with HTML code to be embedded in a page. Copy and paste that code in a text editor, and wrap the code with basic HTML tags like the html, head and body tags.

Now, you’ve gotta upload this file to a server where it can be easily accessed using your browser. I’ve hosted the file that I use for the above ad here. You can see the source code to see what I meant by wrapping the Amazon code with regular HTML, if you didn’t understand I was saying..

Then, login to your blog CMS, and view the HTML template of the page where you have your Google ad code.

Add this line: google_alternate_ad_url = "[full URL of the page containing the HTML code]"; just after this line: google_ad_client = "pub-xxxxxxxxxxxx"; .

And that’s it. You might never see Amazon ads displayed in place of Google ads if you have a high-traffic website with tonnes of marketable keywords, but if you’re like me, and you’re tired of PSAs, give this a go and you might catch a glimpse of an Amazon ad or two in the future.

Support The Blogathonners Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

So, yeah, go to, register yourself for free and sponsor any blogger (or group of bloggers) in their very commendable attempts to raise money for charity.

The minimum amount you can pledge is USD $1 (RM 3.8). I was thinking of donating USD $5 for one Malaysian blogger, but then couldn’t decide which one to support, so I ended pledging USD $1 each for 6 of them. I’m Anonymous, by the way…

They are: Handicap Service Center

Footsteps in the Mirror/National Cancer Society of Malaysia

Bloggers Are Morons/Hospice-At-Home-Programme, Penang branch (under the Malaysia National Cancer Society)

.:: Dustyhawk :: Broken Mirror ::./Unicef Malaysia

PrimaryBasic/National Cancer Council (MAKNA)

reality really bites/National Kidney Foundation

(List copied from LcF)

While RM 3.8 USD $1 sounds like a small sum, many such small sums can add up to quite a lot.

So, go on then, support our bloggers.

UPDATE: And another thing - obviously, come the blogathon, the blogathonners will be pinging PPS quite a bit. Given PPS’ limitations, if everyone pings PPS at the same time as these bloggers, it’s possible that their message will get sidelined by other non-blogathon-pings, or conversely, the non-blogathon-pings might get drowned out by the sheer number of blogathon-pings. So perhaps, it might be prudent for us non-blogathonners to avoid pinging PPS during the 24-hour blogathon-period in order to give space for their message to be heard loud and clear.

Oh, wait. I just realized I don’t have many readers… Ah, screw it.

R.I.P. James “Scotty” Doohan Submitted by Sashi

Swank Home

Sashi’s Page

Image hosted by

Star Trek’s Scotty dies aged 85

Finally, Scotty’s been beamed up.

Actor James Doohan, who played the chief engineer Montgomery Scott in Star Trek, has died at the age of 85.

Doohan, whose role was immortalized in the line “Beam me up, Scotty”, had been suffering from pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease, his agent said.


Submittted by The Political Heretic

Swank Home

Heretic’s Site

The latest two postings
from The Bad Reporter can be found here. I love the part about New York Times reporter Judith Miller converting to Islam while in jail. That's a classic.

I'll be out during the day tomorrow but I will return for more writing tomorrow evening and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's new stance on cloning and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's statements concerning Iraq's political future will be included in those writings.

Geraldine Fitzgerald 1914-2005 Submitted by Rob Williams

Swank Home

Rob’s Page

Smart, beautiful, stubborn (constantly battling Warner Bros head honcho Jack Warner for better roles, resulting in her suspension from the studio numerous times) Irish actress.
Image hosted by

Breathtaking and heartbreaking in "Dark Victory" with Bette Davis. I dare you not to cry when you watch the scene with she and Bette are in the garden when Bette starts to lose her sight.

Image hosted by

Calling All Pirates Submitted by Rob Williams

Swank Home

Rob’s Page

Image hosted by

Did you know I played a pirate in a show at Sea World in the late 80s? I did. (In fact I think I’ve blogged about it before...) I wore short striped pants and a puffy shirt and an eye patch and carried a sword and even had to march in a parade following a big ship on wheels and several people dressed in dolphin and starfish costumes.

You can read about it in my article "A Pirate Life for Me" in Maisonneuve Magazine (Jan/Feb 2005 back issue).Pirate Life

i wonder if they'd let me audition for Pirates of the Carribean III? there's an open Casting Call
for it at the Ricardo Montalban Theater (hey, if Burt Reynolds has his own theater, certainly Mr. Roarke deserves one, right?) in Los Angeles on July 30! this is some of what they are looking for:

"Extreme characters and hideously unattractive types, ages 18-50. Odd body shapes or very lean to extremely skinny.  Missing teeth, wandering eyes and serial killer looks with real long hair & beards. Wigs & makeup are not what we're looking for.  We also need little people, very large sumo wrestler types, extremely tall or extremely short people, albinos, amputees. Any size or shape that is NOT average is best. All ethnicities.  Mostly men, very few women"...

Oh wait, that's the day of my wedding. Damn!

Busy Busy Submitted by Rob Williams

Swank Home

Rob’s Page

I'm sorry i haven't been updating too often. I’m busy planning/prepping for the wedding.

Man, oh man, there is a lot to do. A lot of little teeny tiny important things to do and remember.

But it's all coming together. I'm not going to go into it (you can read the wedding blog wedding
to see what's going on), but let's just say they know me now at Party City.

Wish I had time to work on my book. I'm sneaking in time here and there, but certainly not as much as i should be.

I have to say, I'm getting a bit sad about leaving NYC. I love it here. I really do, but I just can't seem to get ahead here. Financially, I mean (I know, I know. Who can?). And I’d like to slow down a bit. and I'd like to be closer to my family (geographically and emotionally). So that's why moving to San Diego is going to be a good thing. I just know it. (Not to mention Ted going back to do his PhD at UCSD).  But still... NYC has been wonderful to me. I've loved it all. Even the hard times.

Ok. I'm not ready yet to get all emotional and sentimental and I do not  have time to do a long, drawn out blog so I'll leave it at that for now.

Well, that, and this picture of lanky, adorable 1940s actor/dancer Ray McDonald (Babes on Broadway, Till the Clouds Roll By).
Image hosted by

Apple Dumpling Gangfight Submitted by Rob Williams

Swank Home

Rob’s Page

I really should not be blogging, because it's 11:45 on Monday night and, if you didn't know it, I'm getting married this coming Saturday, July 30, to Ted. But most of you who read this probably know that.

Of course I'm going crazy, I'm busy, I'm stressed, I'm outta my head, but I'm also so very excited and happy. we're having a wonderful celebration, in the most amazing space, with the most incredible friends and family around us.

So, suffice it to say I probably won't be able to blog after tonight for several days (I hope to be back on Monday or so). In the meantime, here is a very cool story about a fellow Columbia MFA-er, Sam Apple, who won the Hemisphere Faux Faulkner contest and is causing quite a stir of controversy with his hilarious story. a sendup of both Faulkner and the Bush administration.

Way to go Sam!!

Read about the controversy here.
Swank Home


read Sam's great great, award-winning story here
(click on Fiction, then click on the 2005 winner).

(and, order Sam's debut book: Schlepping Through the Alps : My Search for Austria's Jewish Past with Its Last Wandering Shepherd)Sam’s Book

Whew-- long title! Cool! The tentative title for my collection turned novel is also long (though wait, Sam's book is a title plus a subtitle. Does that count as one long title?)

And, speaking of my book. Yes, did a little work this week on it. Yes, still loving it (I love being able to take my time in chapters and really develop scenes, characters, moments). I love writing a novel!! Just wish I had more time to do it this week...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Better Late than Never... Paul Westerberg in Concert, February/05 by Timothy Burnett

Paul Westerberg: Commodore Ballroom February 17, 2005

Image hosted by

" All the world's a stage, mine just happens to be a medicine cabinet" (Westerberg during the middle of his show)

The performance that Paul Westerberg and his Only Friends (aka ‘The Pharmacists’) gave was a rare experience. The 800 or so people who came to the show rarely ventured into a seat. Paul still loves what he does, rocking & rolling & rolling.

At times the sound got muffled as the soundman tried to push the amplitude; still, for the most part, it went unnoticed as the crowd sang along. 

This was Westerberg’s first date back after a brief hiatus and the new tunes that were added to the repertoire sometimes got caught up in themselves. Paul's solo with a six string was particularly indicative of just how much fun they were having. Paul enters the verse of his song and forgets the lyrics. The guitar player brings a written copy of the lyrics and hold it up... Paul tried his best to make it through the song but ultimately he ended up in laughter he could not control.  Rather than try to hide musical mistakes and lyrical glitches, the errors were turned into genuine moments of humor.  

They played a host of material culled from both the ‘Mats’ release and all Paul's solo releases including ‘Grandpaboy’. After offering the crowd to make requests, we were blessed with a kick ass version of ‘Smoke on the Water.’ The selections from his new C.D. "Folker" somehow come off a little more heartfelt than previous discs, and considering his past experiences with record companies he would be just as happy performing his latest work.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Holiday Time

Hey gang

We're on holiday here, but that's not to say swanktrendz is... check out our website for new articles in the various categories. We'll be back blogging par usual on Saturday...

Happy Hols


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Dredg - Concert Review :Richards on Richards, Medium Capacity, July 22, 2005 By Christine Albrecht

The New Literal Definition of Deconstruction

Image hosted by

Dredg is an art-metal band hailing from Los Gatos, CA that comprises of Gavin Hayes (vocals/lap steel guitar), Mark Engles (guitar), Drew Roulette (bass), and Dino Campanella (drums/keyboard). It’s hard to describe the band’s music other than multi-layered, metal, atmospheric, intricate, and thematic. Lyrically, vocally, musically and artistically, the members of Dredg are a cohesive unit.

Upon entering the venue it became immediately apparent that Dredg has an avid following. While scanning the audience, we noticed that the majority of listeners were totally mesmerized by the band, yet also singing along with every tune. Quite remarkable given that their latest cd has only been out for a month. This was not a crazy pogoing crowd, but an enthralled group (of mostly college-aged guys).

Hayes has an uncanny resemblance to Jim Morrison and appears to take his music very seriously. Hayes’ singing is impressive in that his pitch and key are on target, but he also uses his voice as an instrument accompaniment by varying positions of his mic while singing. He also demonstrates complicated fingerplay using a lap steel guitar with which Gavin uses a variety of objects (including scissors) to create an atmospheric sound.

A style note - the entire band is neither pretentious nor dressed to impress. Bass player, Roulette, performs barefoot (which we learned was because his bass foot pedals are very small, so it's necessary for live performances). Roulette also appears to be the relaxed; engaging with the audience in a fun way, between songs. Hayes appears more humble, truly appreciative of the audiences’ attention and thanks us for lending our ears.

If intensity of music could be measured by perspiration, this band would be the kings of intense. They were literally dripping with sweat, and we were half expecting a spontaneous electrocution. That being said, it further demonstrated that Hayes et al were too wrapped up in the music to even bother toweling off. It was as if they had been transcended to another place whilst performing.

Dino Campanella's drum playing is unique and manic and his piano playing is extremely accomplished. In fact, we found ourselves (as well as many others) mesmerized by this performer. There’s an unexplainable musical quality about him that keeps one continually being drawn back to him.

Mark Engles was extremely hard to capture on camera as his hand was a constant, hard thrashing blur. We’re always impressed to watch guitarists that agile with their fingers.

The ‘New Definition of Deconstruction’ subtitle came from the last song (which indeed was the last song - no such thing as encores from this group) in which the band members left the stage, only to have Campanella still playing while roadies systematically took apart his drum set. It was a brilliant ending right down to the last note.

Part of me wants Dredg to stay as is - perfect and unadulterated, yet another part of me wants them to play up something (ie: a gimmick) so that they may become more accessible to the public via radio airplay rather than remain indie stars. However, I have a feeling that Gavin would be totally opposed to that as he once said during an interview that “...they’d like to keep ourselves true to the music rather than the whole image behind it.

Dredg self-released its first EP, Orph, in 1997. Then came the full-length follow-up with Leitmotif. Interscope signed Dredg and the band worked on its second full-length album, El Cielo. In July 2005, Dredg released its third album Catch Without Arms.

To purchase any of these cds go to:

Dredg’s Site

An interesting aside - concert goers were seen with awareness bracelets, as well as confederate style baseball caps. Nothing deep to be read into that, just a trivial aside.

Image hosted by

Friday, July 22, 2005

Mike’s Musings - My Summer Fetish

Mike’s Site

Image hosted by

I'm sorry.
I just have a thing with the summertime.
I truly believe it's magical.

Here's a rundown of some of the magical things that have happened during the summers of my life. (Note: summer's 80 through 92 were all exactly the same - Def Leppard and family vacations.)

-lit a lot of grass fires
-hello pubic hair

-more grass fires (we called them "nasties")
-listened to 'Sabotage' like a billion times
-hello drugs

-last summer before High School
-our little neighborhood plays host to an orgiastic landslide of underage drinking and sexy makeout parties
-two arrests (shoplifting and window smashing)
-I had long ass blonde hair

-hello driver's licence
-the nightly Police patrols that were instated because of last summer's rampant hooliganism force us to build cabins in the woods. people come from all around. The’Age of Cabins’ has begun
-our little group finally gets a proper name, (CVT - Cantley Village Threat), bestowed upon us by the right honorable Dale Fahey
-smoked hash everyday

-don't remember much
-Johnny had a convertible
-I think we went swimming
-wrecked the Accord (looking at babes, not road)

-hello having a job
-Hello Nasty
-sit on a stoop on Bentic Street every night and drink
-also the summer that "drinking" finally matured into "full-on alcoholism"

-my last summer as a cigarette smoker
-lake and field parties abound

-spent about half my summer taking acid
-got kicked out of the community of Baddeck
-Johnny and I go see the Foo Fighters
-I move to Halifax

-I operate a hot dog stand on Skin Garden Road
-I burn the bejesus out of my hand
-I learn of Daryl's fear of spores

-again with the hot dogs
-regular plow sessions with a hot but insane wine-blooded redhead who happens to have a large, angry-type boyfriend

-we live in a mansion
-we destroy mansion by having massive 80 to 100 people parties with live bands in the living room every other weekend
-lawsuits ensue
-survived the Evolve festival somehow

-took a train across the country with Kathryn
-grew a beard
-saw Slayer, got Slayer'd
-watched two bisexual strippers fuck each other for money
-still drinking

-hey Meredith, you should have a party

Goodbye Long John Baldry

Although British, our (Vancouver's) blues man is gone having died from a chest infection last night (July 21) at 10:30p. This man was eloquent, gracious, wickedly funny, chef extraordinaire, and had a voice that was as big as his height. This is the man whom Elton John took his last name from. Had a great encounter with Baldry and his band in the late 80s and will truly miss him. It Ain't Easy!

Image hosted by

Thursday, July 21, 2005

CBGBs closing by Lezah

Yup, it's true. The legendary CBGBs in New York's Bowery district, one of the few places that would book punk acts when they first came out, will be at the end of their lease August 31/05 - and simple economics make it appear as though they won't be signing a new lease.

The club opened 32 years ago in what legendary singer Patty Smith described as the 'skidrow district', and at that time they paid about $600 a month in rent. That price has jumped to an astronomical $40,000 a month (with an additional $80,000 a year required for insurance). Owner Hilly Krystal is looking at options; there is a 'Save CBGBs' petition out there, and individuals would like him to open a CBGBs in both New Jersey and California.

Time will only tell what the outcome will be...

image by

Image hosted by

Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle, September 2-5/2005 by Lezah

A few years ago, we had some friends playing at Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival. We went down to see them, but once we were on the grounds we spent time walking around, and what an amazing experience - there were bands playing everywhere, all throughout the day. In addition to the bands, there was art and a variety of exhibits around the former Seattle World's Fair Site, located at the base of the Space Needle. I was so impressed by the number, quality and variety of bands that I've always wanted to go back - but I've never made it back to Bumbershoot, for a number of reasons. Looking at the list of bands offered there this year, I think I'm going to make a concerted effort to go this year - after all, it is the 35th anniversary of the Festival.

A severely abridged list of bands appearing at Bumbershoot this year includes: Devo, New York Dolls, The Decemberists, The Donnas, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, The Posies, Tegan and Sara, The Be Good Tanyas, Brazilian Girls, and Pretty Girls Make Graves (the complete list has over 60 bands). Also appearing is Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), the 1 Reel Film Festival, and The Art of Rock Poster Exhibit (to name but a few).

At only $18 a day, you can't go wrong. Go to for more details.

Image hosted by

The Go! Team, The Long Ranger, The Saturday Knights, and Fankick! Concert Review by Lezah

Neumo's Crystal Ball Reading Room, Seattle, July 18, 2005 - capacity crowd

Image hosted by

If the mountain won't come to Mohammed and all that...

Turns out The Go! Team were doing their first-ever world tour after selling out multiple shows at South by Southwest and headlining Glastonbury, but Europe's latest indie music darlings weren't planning on coming to Vancouver, so we tracked them down at their nearest stop: Seattle. They had just played Pitchfork's Intonation Festival in Chicago prior to the Seattle show, appearing with the likes of Broken Social Scene, AC Newman and Death From Above 1979.

To date, The Go! Team has been together for less than a year and has just one cd out (Thunder, Lightning, Strike, on Memphis Industries; a US record deal is in the works). This London/Brighton group consists of founder/musician/songwriter Ian Parton, singer/dancer Ninja, and musicians Jamie Bell, Sam Dook, Chi Fukami Taylor, and Silke Steidinger. Parton's idea when forming the band was to experiment with 'slamming together different kinds of sounds next to each other' in a never-before-done sort of way. And that they do!

After a two hour drive down to Seattle, we made our way over to Neumo's. The show started with a kitschy '80s dance act called Fankick! The two dancers leapt and hopped their way through about five pre-recorded 'popular' '80s tunes, enhanced by visual aids such as plastic hoop earrings, leg warmers and a Thigh Master. 'Nuff said.

Next up was a four-man group called The Saturday Knights who had obvious hip-hop leanings. Their first song's chorus went something like this: "If you ain't feeling us/You ain't drunk enough". By the end of that song, I was figuring that I'd be needing to get about two cases of beer into me to make it through their set. However, I was pleasantly surprised by them, as they improved as their set went on - they were a bit uneven at times, but full of humour and certainly showed some promise.

The next band was called The Long Ranger, and was a brother/sister/friend act. Sister was in charge of the laptop, sang a bit and danced; friend played the guitar; and brother sang and danced. We were 'treated' to 40 minutes of pretty similar sounding songs and some fairly repetitive dance moves, and eventually the powers that be at Neumos kicked them off the stage. It was kind of sad, as you could see they were really enjoying themselves and wanted to keep on playing - and playing - and playing - and playing...

Finally, The Go! Team came on - right at midnight. After three acts with no drums, I was starting to go into withdrawal, but The Go! Team fortunately has not one, but two - count 'em: two! - drum kits, so the evening was saved.

This band is hard to classify: are they dance? pop? old school hip-hop? experimental? funk? '60s soul? Northern soul? a grrrl group? all of the above? Their lo-fi sound is hard to categorize, and includes chanting, fragment sampling from 60s-sounding horn sections and plenty of their own instrumentation (In addition to two drum kits [played, at various times, by four different band members] and the requisite guitar and bass, band members also played the melodica, banjo, recorder, bells and harmonica), but whatever the case, this group played a wildly enthusiastic set.

Enough cannot be said about lead singer Ninja. She came on stage and immediately red-lined the show. Not only can this girl sing - she can dance! And dance she does! And dance is what the crowd did, too. I cannot think of any show I've been to - ever - where the audience was truly dancing (not pogoing, not head-bobbing, not swaying - but DANCING!) so much. The whole place was moving and the sweat was spraying everywhere. Ninja had some fun, imitating the dancers in the crowd, but it was done in such a happy, joyful way that everyone was just swept up by the sheer fun of it all.

The Go! Team played most of the songs from their album (Panther Dash, Bottle Rocket and Ladyflash being my faves), and also played about three new songs (including their encore song, at this point entitled 'Untitled' - but this is one song we're going to be hearing again real soon).

Following the Seattle show they were off down the West Coast and from there will be hitting Australia, Japan, and then back to Europe where they will finish off their summer by appearing at the Reading, Leeds and Bestival Festivals in England.
image by

Illuminaries Festival at Trout Lake Park by Lezah

Public Dreams

A few years ago I read a newspaper coverage of an event called 'Illuminaries'; unfortunately, the event was already over by the time I read about it and all that remained were the newspaper photos. However, it really picqued my interest and last year I read that the event was on again, the weather was going to be great, and my social calendar was empty - serendipity!

I went to the event not really knowing what to expect, and (to borrow a phrase from the sixties) what I saw blew my mind!

The Illuminaries festival was held at Trout Lake Park (also known as John Hendry Park) in Vancouver's Commercial Drive area, and the place was packed. Many people had made their own illuminaries and were walking around with them, but there were also many professionally crafted ones. There were large illuminaries floating on rafts in the middle of the lake, 15 foot high angels, snake and dragon Illuminaries that involved close to 20 people to parade them around the park, and even illuminaries up in trees. It was like attending some sixties’ 'happening'; a Halloween party in the summer, or being at the site of a very, very friendly art installation.

In addition to the illuminaries there were many other activities going on, from 'Midsummer Night's Dream’-type fairies flitting about, sprinkling people with 'fairy dust', to fire dancers and a fireworks display to complete the evening.

This year the Illuminaries event is happening again at Trout Lake Park in Vancouver on July 23, starting at 6 pm - but, my advice is to go a bit later, when it's dark - that way you can get the full effect.

image by

Image hosted by

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Haute Couture for 05/06 By Christine Albrecht

The Haute Couture line for Winter 2005/06 is now official.

Black is back, yet textured. Expect bows, tulle, brocade, taffeta, fur, satin, silk, feathers, quilted fabrics, embroidery, piping, and layered chiffon. The key component about the return of black is that the colour saturates the outer layers, allowing rich tones of emerald, lemon, fuchsia, lavender, (and the always chic winter white) etc. to peek through.

Silhouettes are slimmer, tailored, feminine, with a dash of beaded/chiffon overlaid flapper styles thrown in the mix. Sensual and sexy. Gold and silver accessories, stilettos and kitten heels added to the glamour.

Image hosted by

Mike's Musings - Severe

Mike’s Blog

Image hosted by

What the F?

What kind of night was that?
Could I have crammed anything else in there?
Probably not.

I was stinko before I even got to Stage Nine, where I was hijacked by legions of Jager-imbibing minions.
The Lighthouse Choir and Burdocks rocked me in all the right ways... yeah.. like that ...that's how they rocked me.

I got way too excited, accidentally smashing a shot glass in my hand, followed by a crash course in Drunken First Aid.
(I was later informed that our little group finished every last drop of Jager in the bar. Sweet, time bending, memory eroding Jager.)

Then there was a shift in time/space and I was in another bar watching a different band altogether.

(Don't ask questions, roll with it.)

Then bluurrrry. Then I'm at a party somehow.
Still drinking somehow.

Then I blinked and I was in yet another apartment.
Drinking wine (I think?)

Then all of a sudden the sun came up (thank God for that because I wouldn't have made it very far in the dark in such an advanced stage of intoxication.)
I ran into one of my Tobacco Customers at the end of my street and talked about the merits of the first four Black Sabbath albums until my eyes crossed and my knees buckled and the Giant Magnet dragged my ass back to my apartment.
To crumple on the floor and reflect.

I couldn't remember much, but I had that feeling in my my spine that every conversation I had that night was quite possibly the most important conversation I'd ever have.

I take a sick kind of comfort in not remembering exactly how everything went down, it lends the evening a sort of mythic quality.

On one hand, I wish every night could be a night like that.

On the other hand, that would kill a man.

image from

Autism and Vaccination - Link or Coincidence? By Christine Albrecht

Image hosted by

On July 19/05, officials in Washington held a news conference declaring that there is no proven link between childhood vaccines and autism.

Having acquaintances who are dead-set against vaccinations because of the autism debate made me take notice of this news. I have vaccinated my child, and have been vaccinated myself, as a youth and with yearly flu shots. Luckily (knock wood) my child appears healthy and well. However, I have heard horror stories from friends regarding their children being diagnosed with autism months after a vaccination.

I am aware that autism is generally recognized around the age of two, when developmental progress becomes more apparent. I am also aware that vaccinations are given around this age as well. So what is the verdict? As the saying goes in science and statistics. ‘correlation does not imply causation’.

The news conference was deemed necessary as there is an increasing number of parents who are convinced the mercury-containing preservative, thimerosal, will cause autism. Thimerosal had been removed from most childhood vaccines in 2001, with flu shots being the exception. However, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is emphatic that vaccines save lives and protect children.

There appears to be advocates for both sides of the controversy: public health officials on the side of vaccines, and politicians such as Florida’s Dave Weldon against the childhood vaccination. It should be noted that Weldon was a practising physician prior to being elected in 1994, and has sponsored legislation to omit thimerosal from flu shots.

I suppose my one question would be, “Why was thimerosal removed from vaccines in 2001? Was it because there was evidence (re: the link to autism) to support parents’ claims?” As yet, I have not found any answers to these questions.

image from

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Be Rachael Ray for A Day: Dine & Dish # 4 - By Becks & Posh


Image hosted by

First I have to blow some huge air kisses to Sarah down in LA. I want to thank her for inviting me to be the first ever Celebrity Guest Blogger (her words, not mine) to host Dine & Dish and for letting me take part in this photo shoot too. It's amazing what they can do in Photoshop these days. Look how white they made my teeth!

But what about Rachael Ray - just who is this cutesy little upstart anyway?

Although Rachael is fairly well known in the USA, foreign readers might need a small explanation. Ms Ray is a TV Chef who is much derided
in some circles for her unrefined style whilst others argue that her detractors are nothing but food snobs. Either way you look at it, she must be raking in the money. Rachael hosts three shows on the Food Network
. The first is a cooking show for which she makes 30 Minute Meals. In the second, Inside Dish, she visits the homes and kitchens of celebrities to discuss their favourite foods. For the third show, the one we are most interested for this month's challenge, Rachael visits cities all over the world and eats, as a tourist, on a $40 budget. At this point I have to confess that this is the only one of Rachael's three shows that I have actually seen. And even then, I only watched the San Francisco episode as a matter of curiosity. And what did I think? Firstly I thought - if I wanted to show off the best of San Francsico, I'd choose completely different places to eat. Secondly, I thought, "Hey, I could do that", and so, here I am doing it, and I want all of you to do it too!

How to be Rachael Ray For the Day...
Instructions for Participating in Dine & Dish #4:

This is the perfect chance for you to show off your favourite, good-value, eating-out options in your hometown. If you are travelling you can still take part, by being even more like Rachael and posting your entry from the point of view of a tourist.

So here is the deal - your Dine & Dish #4 blog post should cover a whole day's worth of meals eaten outside of your home - breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks (if you have enough money), including drinks, for the total sum of $40. Take out options are viable too. A sandwich in the park for lunch, will help keep your budget down and leave you more pennies to spend on dinner.

Make your post informative. Imagine it is being read by a tourist who wants to try out your choices. Pictures would be great if you can manage them. Link to the vendors' websites if they are available and make a note of the cost of each part of your meal.

(Shhhh! Nobody will know if you cheat a little and don't actually visit all the places on the same day, just make it look as if you did for the sake of your post.)

I think Rachael includes the tip in her budget, but we aren't going to enforce that here, because different countries and different people have different ideas about how much a tip should be. So just tip as extra, as you would normally do, and don't bother to include that part of the transaction in your post.

Click here for a currency calculator
if you are outside the USA, to find out how much $40 equals wherever you are in the world.

Try and show off the good things about the area you are posting from. Rachael is nothing other than orgasmically happy about everything she consumes for $40 A Day and you should be the same.

Absolutely not: No taking vegetables home from the market and cooking a fabulous meal. This challenge is entirely about eating out and has nothing to do with eating in!

The Dine & Dish Deadline is Monday August 22nd. Please post your entry on, or just before, that date. Then send me an email with I AM RACHAEL RAY in the subject line.

Information I need in the email please:

Your name:
Your Location:
Your Blog Name:
Your Blog Url:
Your Blog Post Title:
Your Permalink Url for your Dine & Dish #4 post:
Your Final Budget Total:

email to becks dot posh at gmail dot com

Some Faint Hope for Moderate Justice? by the Political Heretic

Political Heretic

In my last piece I suggested a reason as to why we those of us on both sides of the abortion debate should put those differences to the side for now, unite behind a consensus moderate justice who will not overturn judicial precedents, and reject a justice who shares Justice Antonin Scalia's constitutional jurisprudence.

I don't believe President George W. Bush will pick any moderates and I don't think any Republicans will break ranks and bar an up or down vote on the nominees but there is a slight, (and I do mean slight) chance that enough Republicans will break ranks and vote against a conservative extremist.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) said the president should appoint a moderate to preserve the balance on the Court and according to this article
, Senators Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have also said they wanted someone "strike a balance."

I don't know if he was speaking seriously but Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said Fred Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, actor, and consultant on the president's judicial nominations" would make a good candidate on Jay's Leno's "The Tonight Show."

The key question of course, is if there are enough independent minded Republicans willing to break from the president to offset any Democratic defections (Robert Byrd - W. Virginia, Mark Pryor - Arkansas, and especially Ben Nelson - Nebraska).

Image hosted by

Monday, July 18, 2005

June Showers Musings by Rob williams

Rob's Site

Image hosted by

So my bachelor party is just about an hour (July 16th) away (we're going to Florent, in the meat packing district, to start off the night). iIm nervous! If it's anything like our wedding shower I just know i'm going to spend the whole night blushing and sweating from laughter and embarrassment.

What debauchery lies ahead for me? What kind of silly hat or t-shirt will they make me wear?

And will it match my shoes and pants?

Not only all that but i just found out that actress June Haver
died on July 4th!! not to be confused with June Allyson, but June Haver was my other favorite June. June Haver! How did I not know this? Why didn't any of my readers notify me? Arghhh.

She was a 1940s ‘sweet as peaches’ blonde starlet poised to take over Betty Grable's shoes, but it never quite happened. First, she left films in the early 50s to become a nun. But then she left that, after just a few months, to marry Fred MacMurray (which is pretty much the same thing as becoming a nun--just kidding!).

And now she's gone! I never got to meet her.

Among her film highlights:

The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady

Look For The Silver Lining

I'll Get By (my personal Favorite)

The Dolly Sisters (with Grable)

I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now

How can I go and celebrate when there is such sadness in the world? How?

Ann Jillian is a God - Rob Williams' Musings

Rob's site

So, I've been inundated with requests to post a picture of myself with my new facial hair (well, ok, so it's a certain guy who wants to see it--thanks for the support, bj!).

I will post a picture by this weekend. I just haven't gotten anyone to take my picture yet, even though my boyfriend and husband -to- be, Ted, has a camera phone and a digital camera. I have been told that it does look pretty good, and somewhat similar to Morgan Spurlock (crossed with a young Anthony Michael Hall spliced with Martin Mull --did y'all know Martin Mull is an artist? And a damn good one--he went to RISD, for Godsakes!).

Great! so in my seersucker wedding suit I’m going to look like a member of a barbershop quartet!

And speaking of the wedding, this weekend (July 16) is my bachelor(ette?) party--thrown by dear friend, David. David told me to prepare for debauchery, raunch, illicit activity, drug paraphernalia (but no drugs of course, just the paraphernalia), veils of varying lace, noise-makers, possible intoxication, go go boys, go go girls, go go boots, monkeys, dried fruit, Kelly Ripa, skinny edgy hipster boys with shoulder bags, and the cast of "It's a Living"

Image hosted by

I can't wait!

Pictures will be posted, write-ups will be written, cities will fall.

Sing along lyrics to "It's a Living":

Life's not the French Riviera, believe me, life's not, a charity ball.
It isn't all a great big bed of roses, it's not like showbiz, but the main thing I suppose is…
We're not the people you envy, believe me, we know we're doing okay.
We may be less than wealthy, but better yet, we're young and healthy,
and anyone who's young and healthy knows that that's the way the traffic flows.
We've no misgivings, It's a living.

The Empowerment of Internet Blogging by Christine

As I was trolling the internet in search of interesting Canadian blogs, I came across an incredibly disturbing post. Disturbing for two reasons: a) the horrific, detailed first-hand account of child abuse and b) the fact that this family has not received any closure or atonement for the abuse.

As I read through all of the entries, I kept wondering how a small town of 2500 people could not, or chose not to, see the obvious.

The creator of the blog is the eldest of 12 children (2nd eldest if you consider the death of his brother when he was one year old). My heart went out to him, and yet I was proud that he was pursuing his disclosure of the (alleged) abuse despite all odds against him.

Then I realized the true ‘crux’ of this article. The internet provides immediate therapy for those of us who are aching from within. The internet has allowed all of us a voice, especially in times where newspapers and media are only interested in the story of the day. You won’t see familial discord on the front page, unless, of course, there has been bloodshed. Although this family has suffered, albeit in silence, anger and shame, the internet has allowed Byron Prior a public forum. Even if he is never provided with closure (in the form of public and governmental acknowledgment) he is provided with an empathic audience - all because of blogs, websites, etc. All the power to him and I hope he can finally have resolution and put these demons to rest once and for all.

As for his mother, I can only shake my head and wonder... a born sociopath, or a ‘made’ sociopath (which you will understand if you read the blog). Either way, she is responsible for destroying numerous lives and probably refuses to take responsibility for any of them. She and her fellow ‘companions’ are despicable and I ask you to decide for yourselves the seriousness of her actions.

Perhaps even email Byron a note of acknowledgment; he has been heard. By the way Byron, Happy Birthday on July 29th - maybe by age 52 something good will come your way.

Image from

Image hosted by

Byron Prior Details

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Profile of Jeffrey Newman: B.C.’s Interior Intellectual

Image hosted by

As I have mentioned before, I enjoy reading Jeffrey Newman’s Provocations site. Jeffrey is a web designer at present and I decided to delve further into the ‘workings’ of his mind and arrived at an interesting, thought-provoking individual. Here is Jeffrey in a nutshell, albeit not as thorough as space would allow.

Prior to moving to 108 Mile House, Jeffrey was born and resided in South Africa, then moved to England via France after graduating from university.

Jeffrey is an avid eco-friendly environmentalist and stumbled upon this way of thought after reading a newspaper report (1970) on The Club of Rome report Limits to Growth

In the early ‘80s, Jeffrey met his wife, Maddi, in Calgary. Maddi works in graphic design and always had a natural ability in this area. She describes herself as a ‘compulsive-formatter’ and a few years ago she landed a job as a production manager with a womens’ magazine which pushed her to become more serious as a graphic designer. You can view some of her work at Maddi

Jeffrey and Maddi were living in a community of 100 Mile House and when they left that community, they chose to stay nearby at 108 Mile Ranch. They enjoy living at 108 Mile, and they enjoy working from their home where they each have an office.

They provide community support for their area by encouraging support for local businesses and activities ie: he built a web page with information on where to find food produced or raised in the community. He is also on the board of the 108 Mile Ranch Community Association 108ranch
and he maintains the website (surprise). Jeffrey is also the member of the Airport Commission for the regional airport. Maddi and he share a seat on a committee in 100 Mile House that helps select local candidates for government support in launching new small businesses.

Jeffrey slid in web design gradually. He had been running a three-acre organic vegetable garden and the idea of his own web site appealed to him in the late ‘90s when more online sites were popping up. After about a year of fine-tuning his personal site, someone asked him what he would charge to build one for them. Over the next couple of years, Jeffrey did more web designing and less gardening until he became a full-time professional web designer. Prior to organic farming, Jeffrey’s careers included child care worker, drug rehabilitation worker and remedial teacher/counselor.

Not surprisingly for an inveterate eclectic, Jeffrey doesn’t have a favourite website. Recently he built a website for the BC interior because he didn't see one online that he found useful. This was the first time he had become his own client - and this ‘client’ was quite happy with the results. Jeffrey also heartily recommends Sacred Lifeboats, which has just been launched (sic). It is directed at US citizens but will be helpful to others and, he suspects, will be encouraging to many beyond the USA to know that such matters are getting real attention

For his Provocations site, Jeffrey determines the content by whatever stirs him: from an event or an idea that he thinks could use more attention, to something that might even open a small door for a reader. It could be something as simple as switching to a bristle toothbrush.

Jeffrey could not pinpoint a specific intent for his websites as each piece stands on its own and has its own intent/reasons. He simply wants people to be provoked by what they’ve read and preferably act on it.

When asked what he thought was the future of the internet, Jeffrey felt he wasn’t very qualified to comment on this. However, he enjoys the increasing collaboration the internet facilitates; the building of community (real and virtual). He’s glad to see that Wikipedia is becoming so popular and well-used, apparently surviving the pressure of this increase usage. Freecycling is working well in the Interior and in many places around the world. It builds community as the Web provides an alternative to the corporate media. He sees blogs and other independent communication sites coming under increased pressure to conform.

Jeffrey had this to say about:

Internet hackers - reclaiming a sense of power; getting away with stuff(cyber-Ninjas); Robin hood types in some cases.

Virus spreaders - to make a mark on the world (power); anger and alienation, akin to other forms of vandalism.

Spammers - to make money.

Jeffrey’s general thoughts regarding the next twenty years are that dwindling energy sources will force us to be ingenious and more cooperative, especially at the local level. Either that or we'll be participating in the end of civilization. (See Richard Heinberg: A Letter from the Future.)

Some trivial, yet interesting facts about Jeffrey are:

With being so busy, he reads approximately two books a year. He’s currently reading Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver and recommends it highly. In fact it
inspired a recent blog post: Coming to Know my Place.

His taste in music is eclectic. Some examples: virtually everything that Mark Knopfler does - from Dire Straits to the Princess Bride soundtrack to Knopfler’s album with Chet Atkins and his most recent album, Shangri-la. Another contemporary favourite is The Be Good Tanyas. His all-time favourite jazz artist reflects His South African roots and the artist,Abdullah Ibrahim, comes from the same city where Jeffrey was born. One of Ibrahim’s finest and a fairly recent album is Cape Town Flowers(Cape Town being where they both are from; yet their experiences are vastly different because of apartheid). He loves classic Brazilian bossa-nova; enjoys classical Indian music and some classical western music - many of the usuals as well as Spanish guitar music by people like Granados,
Villa-Lobos and Castelnuovo-Tedesco.

In closing, I asked Jeffrey if he had any formal training as a writer as his articles are often well crafted. He replied that, as a little boy, his mother would encourage him to write as he ‘was so talented’. He assumed her praise was that of a proud or ambitious mother.

Well, as we all know, Mother is always right.

To check out Jeffrey’s sites and writing go to:


Jeffrey’s company

British Columbia

Interior News

Sacred Life Boats

Ani Kyd - Evil Needs Candy Too - CD Review By Christine Albrecht

Image hosted by

Evil Needs Candy Too is Ani Kyd’s first full length cd, although she is hardly new to the music scene having fronted numerous bands, including Rumblefish, Spanking Machine, Spankin' Betty, Kyd Monopoli, and Fuel-Injected 45, as well as doing solo shows and playing guitar for Canadian Rock legend, Thor.

Evil Needs candy Too has Ani’s personal stamp all over it. An eclectic choice of songs with an equally odd assortment of instruments: hard thrashing guitars, wicked drums, violins and cello which perfectly complement Ani’s vocals in a variety of bi-polar personas. It comprises of 16 tunes that range from thrash rock, punk, and soft ‘melodic’ tunes (but don’t let that sweet voice fool you) intertwined throughout.

As I’ve stated before, I will not shell out the money for a cd unless there are at least 3 good songs present. In ENCT 5 songs stood out. The first, ‘Rejoyce’, is a good rocker tune with Ani’s singing reminiscent of Linda Perry. ‘Rejoyce’, ‘Left Holding the Bag’, ‘Erase’, ‘Stranger Things’, and my favourite, ‘Hard Way Home’ are reason enough to purchase this cd. ‘The Involuntary Admittance of Jack Kyd’ is also a bittersweet, yet humorous, insert at the end of the cd, taken from an answering machine message from Ani’s son, Michael Kyd. ‘My First Kill’ is also a finely crafted tune, hard driven, ala Dead Kennedys, but then it lulls you into a false sense of melodic calm, only to assault you again with vocal and instrumental intensity.

From the fast and furious opening seconds, the band's power and musicianship are immediately obvious, and, even to the untrained ear, drummer Gene Hoglan's playing stands out, especially on the songs ‘My First Kill’ and ‘Lost’. The band is tight with excellent guitar riffs (especially on ‘Thirteen’, and ‘Left Right Left’) The song ‘So Far’ has violins and excellent double bass (courtesy of Jan Berman). ‘Stranger Things’ (an acoustic version of Ani’s former release with Rumblefish) has a cello accompaniment to Ani’s vocals. Although the song is sung with apparent vulnerability, listen closely and there is a sinister edge to it.

All the songs’ lyrics appear personal and harsh; this is a survivor’s tale. It is an angry, non sugar-coated cd, and not for the faint of heart, or those looking for mainstream rock.

Produced by Jello Biafra (of the infamous Dead Kennedys) this is a solid full-length debut cd from Kyd, and no doubt other future releases will be in the works. This is the only non-Jello release that Jello Biafra has produced, so that is a statement in itself.

Purchase your copy of this cd at theAlternative Tentacles store

Ani Kyd’s band consists of:

Ani Kyd, vocals and guitar
Byron Stroud - Bass
Gene Hoglan - Drums
Ian White - guitar
Jan Berman - Double Bass on ‘So Far’

For a more in-depth article of Ani Kyd, go to the category Music Profiles at Swanktrendz Home

Saturday, July 16, 2005

My Recent Publications by Rob Williams

Rob’s Home Page

Good News? Part 2

Image hosted by

This is me, bathed in a lovely red light, pondering the change of my short story collection to full fledged novel... (Yes, that is a trucker hat on my head but it's made of wicker!!)...over a beer at Metropolitan bar in Williamsburg.
(continued from previous post)

So, after a week of fretting about my book (this was over two weeks ago) I came up with some thoughts (more like panic attacks): can I turn it into a novel? do I want to?

Why, why, why, can't it stay an interconnected story collection? Is my agent giving me the brushoff?

Does she really not like the book and this is her way of saying buh-bye? How long is it going to take me to turn it into a novel? What kind of work is this going to be? What kind of a project? How am I going to do this AND get married to Ted, AND move to San Diego? Should I just toss it all?

I finally met with my agent, Sally, on Wed. June 29 to discuss.

First, a bit about Sally: she used to work for a bigger agency, but decided to go out on her own and start her own agency (with one or two other people, I believe). I met her when she approached me after a reading of mine. This was about 4 years ago. I had only about 6 stories then, and the collection wasn't connected (except that it was about folks in S. California in the mid-80s). We clicked instantly, she has some family in San Diego (where I'm from) and so we talked about places we love there. She also had some really nice things to say about the story I read and asked me about the rest of them. She gave me her card and asked me to send the stories I have whenever I was ready. I was also being courted by another agent at the time (a bigger agent, from a bigger agency) but I didn't feel as strongly about the agent and she seemed to have a different idea of what the collection should be.

I talked with Sally over the phone a few more times and finally decided I wanted to work with her. She seemed so genuinely enthusiastic about my work and shared the same vision for it as me.

Flash forward a few years and Sally is still with me (or I'm with her, I suppose) and she has always been nothing but patient, generous, supportive, encouraging, and always providing great feedback and advice.

Since I had had a week before meeting her to let things stew in my confused little brain, I was ready to talk about the 'new' plan for the book. I went to the agency and we sat down in their very sheeshee boardroom (there are other agents on the same floor) with all of their books on the shelves--many I recognized and respected. 

So, Sally laid it out for me. She loves the writing, she believes in the writing, and she loves the voice but that's just it--THE VOICE. she feels that the voice (with a few exceptions) is the same throughout and the stories are really about ONE boy--Joel (the main character in my story "Japanese For Blurred Image") So why not make this a novel about HIM. (again she mentioned "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time"--which I told her I'm reading).

I also told her that she was probably right. That this really is, or could be the same boy, except for a few stories. Joel was already in six of the eleven stories anyway, so why not just try to tell his story?

But we discussed further that maybe it should only be about a year in his life (well, that was my thoughts anyway). And I don't want it to necessarily be a 'coming out' story or anything. I mean, yes, Joel's gay, but the book's not really about his coming out to anyone. It's more a picture of him and his family and the mid-80s, a young boy growing up gay on the cusp of the age of AIDS/HIV.

Some of you may remember what the 80s were like? This was before Will & Grace, before Elton and Melissa E came out of the closet, before kd lang, before there was Gay Chic, or bi-chic or what ever chic it was that somehow happened in the early to mid-90s where kd lang and Cindy Crawford could pose on a mainstream magazine together.

Who did young gay kids have to look up to? Wayland Flowers? Boy George--was he even saying he was gay?

I also wanted to write about growing up on the fringes and in the shadow of a major city/influence like Los Angeles and Hollywood (which has always been an influence on my life and writing).

So we decided that's what I'm going to do. Make this a book about Joel, a mid-80s, arty, film-loving blonde kid from San Diego and the year that changes his life. Something like that.

And right now I'm really big on plans, deadlines, goals (what with a wedding and a move to San Diego on the very near horizon, I have to be). So my immediate goal is to take the 6 stories that Joel appears in and turn it into 100 pages of a draft of the novel by early August. Easy, right?

Yeah. Right. It's not that easy. It's a helluva lot of fun and work but it's not easy. I do appreciate the support and encouragement I've gotten from other inspiring writers like Aaron, Lola, Felicia, my bf Ted, and D. Travers Scott (thanks dts-- you're right when you say "I think they [novels] have some kind of pretentious stigma when in actuality they are a very comfy, loose form to work in"). I have found it quite comforting (amidst all the stress) to be able to take my time with things now. What I mean is, I don't have to neatly wrap things up at the close of each chapter (like I struggled at the end of a story). I'm enjoying filling out these characters--Joel, his mom, his dad, his grandmother, his sister (a new character--she wasn't originally in his stories, but another character I wrote about had a sister and now she's become Joel's sister). I'm enjoying letting the plot roll over into the next chapter and I'm excited about the new directions that the book is going.

I promised my agent I would send her a rough draft of what I've come up with in early August and I'm going to stick to that. Even if it's just 75 pages (though so far I've 're-written' almost 30 pages and I've been working on it less than a week).

So, yes, I've got a lot on my plate; no, it's not easy and I'm a bit stressed, but you know what? Before I left my meeting with the agent she said to me that she believed in this book and in my abilities and she was just as excited about it now as she was when she first heard me read at Columbia. And that, my friends, is what it's all about.  I'm very lucky to have her as my agent.

Naturally, I'll keep y'all posted.

*And now, from BookAngst blog-- here is fab author Lauren Baratz Logsted's experience with not one, but 5 agents (in her own words she was "on the fast track to becoming the Elizabeth Taylor of novelists"). Read it all Here