Category Archives: Life

Work, work, work. The daily grind. Life in the trenches.

Star Trek’s future seems more distant today

Waking up to Donald Trump’s victory elicited a combination of anger, sadness and disappointment. Hate and fear and division won the day.

Fifty years after its advent, the bright, inclusive future that Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek promised seems more distant in the aftermath of yesterday’s election.

It’s also more imperative a goal now than before.

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Baseball is stranger than fiction

 

Fiction for all that it frees the writer to bend the world to our will can still seem a step too far beyond reality when we create a certain situation or a character. It would be hard to believe that someone could get to the queen’s bedroom if Michael Fagan hadn’t done it. Or that pitcher Randy Johnson would hit a bird that happened to fly between him and home plate with a fastball.

As a part-time writer, I make stuff up for my stories. But I don’t know that I could have made up the events of last night’s ALDS game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers.

And this game came after the Jays lost the first two of the series and won the next two to force a game five. This isn’t something that happens often. Most teams that lose the first two games in the playoffs end their season and get eliminated. The stats argued against the Jays making it to game five.

In the top of the seventh inning, in a fifth and deciding game of the series, the Blue Jays are tied with the Rangers after trailing for six innings. Rougned Odor (his real name, and something no writer could make up) is on third with two out. Shin-Soo Choo, the batter, stretches his arm out to adjust his sleeve before the next pitch. Russell Martin throws the ball back to the mound. And it deflects off Choo’s outstretched arm and rolls down the third base line. Odor hesitates then runs for home. The umpire, Dale Scott waves that the ball’s dead, but Odor crosses home plate. Confusion reigns for those first few moments. Is the ball out of play? Is it dead? The umpires send Odor back to third then gather together and discuss the play. He’s ruled to have scored a run and the Rogers Centre in Toronto explodes in disapproval. After much delay and the throwing of garbage onto the field, play finally resumes. Sanchez, the pitcher strikes out Choo, but Toronto is behind by a run.

We move to the bottom of the seventh inning, where the strangeness continues. On three successive plays, the Rangers infielders make three successive errors. The Rangers should have been out of the inning, but they’re not. Instead the bases are loaded and nobody’s out. Toronto left fielder, Ben Revere, hits the ball to first base and Mitch Moreland throws it home for an out, but the bases are still loaded. Next, Toronto third baseman, Josh Donaldson, hits it just out of reach of Rougned Odor and a run scores. The Rangers manage to get Revere out at second. So now there are two outs but there are still two men on base.

Jose Bautista steps up to bat. The count goes to one ball and one strike. And in a movie moment he hits the next pitch to the third level in left field and flips his bat in a display that old time players call grandstanding. The Toronto Blue Jays go ahead six to three. The benches then clear over a misinterpretation and it looks like there’ll be a fight, but things diffuse for play to continue until the third out of the inning when the benches clear again over something minor.

Crazy.

If I wrote that inning in a story, or if you saw it in a movie, you’d roll your eyes in disbelief. Last night’s events were too bizarre to be a product of fiction, and reminds me why I like to take a break from fiction at times to watch baseball. You never know what can happen, and sometimes  it’s just so strange you can’t believe it happened.

The Battle of Christmas Present

In the closing hours of the last day of the long, bloody, soul-wracking 2014 Christmas shopping season, hours before Boxing Day month begins, I must remind every consumer, all of us, to do their duty to the utmost.

You must remain strong, resolute, and sharp-eyed for that last item on your list. You must keep your elbows up, your car horn at the ready, and your shopping cart gripped firmly to ram through all resistance.

Even though large tracts of shelves lay bare and in ruin, even though many of the best items have fallen into the hands of other shoppers, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, when we are ordered to bring our purchases to the checkout. We shall fight in the aisles, we shall fight in the parking lots, we shall fight in the checkout queues, we shall fight in front of the kiosks, and the cart coral, we will defend our last-minute purchases no matter the cost; we will never surrender.

Winston Churchill giving his less famous Christmas shopping speech.

Winston Churchill giving his less famous Christmas shopping speech.

A Canadian highway on a winter night

It’s not technically winter, but it feels like it. The snow swirls in the headlights, and the mix of salt and spray from fellow travellers need constant applications of washer fluid. Further on no one’s left on the road I’m driving. It’s dark, it’s isolating, cold, and the air from the car’s defroster is drying out my eyes. I have to keep blinking. There’s nothing beyond my car but dark shapes of trees and looming rock from the Canadian shield. I need to stop for coffee. It’s late, and I just want to be at my destination. Fuck the saying that it’s the journey that matters. How much longer?

A Writer’s Guide to Home Ownership

In a word: Don’t.

In more words: Don’t unless you have the time for another hobby.

If you’re anything other than a full-time writer then home ownership is a time-consuming endeavour.

If you start in a new house that still takes your time. There are upgrades, like painting the walls other than builder’s beige, put in a garden, etc. That takes time. Then you’re in for weekly cleaning, weekly tending to lawn and/or garden.

Eventually, every house becomes a fixer upper. The requirement for maintenance on a weekly, monthly, annual basis grows as your house increases in age. Then it’s repainting, re-landscaping, repairing, and replacing.

All that time is fine if you enjoy fixing things, gardening, or painting. Sometimes that can be good, to get out from behind your writing desk and do something physical that lets your mind wander. But if you have a full-time job, those jobs add up, and can cut into time for writing a lot.