Calgary Comic Expo 2012

Early Saturday morning.

You’ll probably remember my giddy posts last year when I met Julian Sands. This year, I wanted very much to meet James Marsters. I’d watched Buffy (though not religiously), and I loved his turn as Captain John Hart on Torchwood. So it made sense to try to get his autograph.

I’m quite thankful that I managed to get into the Expo bright and early, as there were issues later in the day about capacity, and the fire marshals shut down access.

I also managed to see (but not get autographs from — I’m not made of money) Chris Heyerdahl, David Prowse, and a quick glimpse of LeVar Burton. I would have liked to see the Phelps twins from Harry Potter, but the line there was…. well, I can only describe it as insane.

There were lots of artists and vendors to see, and I picked up a dress, as well as a fun t-shirt:

And below the cut, a few more photos from the day….

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Election time.

It’s election time in Alberta, and today is election day.

I try to keep politics off the blog, but I will say that my attention has been distracted from my usual writing and blogging due to all the articles and coverage I’ve been keeping track of for the election.

Quite possibly today will be the first time in a long time that the Progressive Conservatives don’t win the election with a landslide majority. Whether or not the Wild Rose party becomes the Official Opposition, or the minority government, remains to be seen. How the Liberals do, perhaps well enough to be the decisive power of a minority government, or otherwise, and how the other parties do (NDP, Alberta Party, etc.) is hard to say.

So if you’ve wondered why I’ve been a bit light on the posts… that’s why. Regular blogging shall resume soon, if I’m not verklempt over the election results.

Movie: In a Lonely Place

I’m a writer, and noir is my chosen genre. Hence, most of my favourite films have some relation to the genre, and In a Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, is one that left a mark.

I hadn’t read the book before I saw the film, which is perhaps a good thing, as the book differs in some essential ways (of which I won’t get into here, as to not ruin it for the reader).

Bogart is Dixon Steele (and what a name it is), a screenwriter who is cynical and abrupt. He hasn’t had much success since the war, and his latest project is to adapt a book for the screen. Gloria Grahame is his neighbour, Laurel Grey, a sometime actress who takes an interest in Dix. When Dix takes a coat check girl home with him, as she’s read the book he’s to adapt and he doesn’t want to read it himself, Laurel notices him. After he sends the girl home, she is murdered, and Dix is a suspect. Laurel is brought into the police station and confirms that the girl left Dix’s place alone, and thus begins a rather intense yet dark relationship between the two.

One of my favourite quotes comes from this film, said by Dix to Laurel:

‘I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me.’

The line so aptly mirrors the tempestuous relationship between Dix and Laurel, and the tone with which Bogart says the line enhances the bleakness of the film.

Dix is a strong, complex character, and the realism of Dixon Steele is one of the main reasons why I love the film so much. He’s not a typical alpha hero, as the main characters in so many films are. He’s a quick-tempered man, prone to violence, and to drink, but he’s loyal to his friends, even defending a washed-out actor from harassment.

As the murder investigation progresses, Laurel’s belief in his innocence is challenged, and his actions (side-swiping a car that cuts them off, beating up the driver) add to her worries, until she can’t continue their relationship. Her fear of Dix overwhelms her affection for him. It’s the gradual collapse of the relationship that is the strongest thread of the story in the film, in my opinion. At first, murder investigation aside, they are doing so well, but as events and doubts add up, it’s a slow-motion car crash.

Noir never ends with a happily ever after (nor usually with any sort of ‘happily for now’ ending), and In a Lonely Place is no exception. It isn’t the most pleasant and uplifting of films, but it’s incredibly compelling, and one I have re-watched multiple times in fascination. It’s one of Bogart’s best works.

Music: Savoy – Velvet

I was introduced to the Norwegian band Savoy when I was a teenager, thanks to my friend Petter. They’re another one of those bands that I heard during my formative years, and thus, years later, I still pull out their CDs and listen. When I get tired of listening to NIN, Seigmen, or my various swing records, there’s always Savoy to accompany me as I write. My favourite album of theirs is ‘Lackluster Me’, though my favourite song is the one below, called ‘Velvet’.

Food: Ginger-garlic veg and rice noodle dish

This meal turned out rather delicious, if I do say so myself. It was a riff off of this noodle dish from Gluten-Free Girl. I say a riff because I didn’t have toasted sesame oil, almond butter, cellophane noodles, or red cabbage. But, no matter!

For the sauce, whisked together in a bowl:

  • a chunk of ginger, grated
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (to your taste), finely chopped
  • a teaspoon of peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • rice vinegar (1/4 cup…ish)
  • grape seed oil (or sesame oil) 1/4 cup…ish, or a bit more
  • salt and pepper

For the veg, take any veg you fancy (I used asparagus, corn, butternut squash and a few crimini mushrooms), and lightly steam. You could probably use them all fresh and raw too if you wanted, but I like them steamed a bit. Cook the rice noodles, and drain. Toss the veg on a plate, the noodles in the bowl to coat with the sauce, then dump the noodles on the plate over the veg. Or, be a little fancier and plate it up all nice and pretty. Depends how hungry you are!

A tip — do up the sauce to your taste. If you’re not that keen on vinegar, use a little less. Super keen on peanut/almond butter? Use more. If it seems too thick, add some more oil. I used two cloves of garlic, but that’s a bit zippy. Taste it as you go. The ginger and the rice vinegar make this dish, in my opinion. Easy peasy. :)

My New Release: Betting the Farm

This is a fun little short story that I wrote last year. It’s up on Amazon this weekend, and I wanted to showcase the gorgeous cover my friend Jason Neil made for me. He’s a local illustrator, and great at what he does.

Here’s the blurb for the story:

After her father’s funeral, Elly has come back to the family farm to pack up the heirlooms and arrange for the sale of the property. What starts as a lonely night turns into something more when a thunderstorm brings a beautiful stranger to her door…

It’s available at Amazon for $0.99.

My Teenage (Book) Crush

Inspired by this post over at The Awl, I thought about the books I read as a teen, and which ones I had absolute crushes on, and which ones I would be embarrassed by today. Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much cringing from my past reads, far less than I’d expected. Here’s a sampling:

  • Anne Rice: The Witching Hour – I’m afraid there’s still no embarrassment here. Read it when I was 12 and I still love it today. I was never as fond of the sequels (Lasher & Taltos), as the character of Rowan began to disappoint me.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley: The Mists of Avalon – Definitely had a crush and loved Morgaine, but I haven’t picked this one up in eons, though it sits patiently on my bookshelf still. But embarrassed? Not especially.
  • Bram Stoker: Dracula – I still have a crush on this book, though I’m not reading it wide-eyed as I was when I was nine. (That scene where Dracula forces Mina to drink his blood was compelling: ‘The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.’)
  • All the Drizzt Do’Urden books by R.A. Salvatore – I suppose if anything was going to be embarrassing, these books would be the ones. I have most of them still in paperback, but like The Mists of Avalon, they’ve sat untouched for years. It’s some nostalgic bit of me that can’t give them up just yet.
  • Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged – Every once in a while I cringe at having read this book, but I do still like it. I don’t take it seriously, and I certainly wouldn’t pull a Greenspan and base actual economics off of it, but some of the imagery sticks in my mind: ‘Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision.’
  • Peter & Leni Gillman: Alias David Bowie – This biography (written in the mid-80s) and other Bowie bios were ones I inhaled as a teen. The library had a whole stock, and most of them were not that well written and relied heavily on rumour. Alias focused more on the mental illness in the Jones family, and it was rather intrusive. This is definitely a cringe-worthy selection.
  • Anya Seton: Katherine – Historical fiction about Katherine Swynford, the mistress of John of Gaunt. Nope, sorry, can’t feel embarrassed about this one either.

Are there any books you feel embarrassed to have read when you were younger? Or are you of the opinion that every book is worthwhile, even if it seems silly years later? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

New Release! The Fool’s Gold Anthology from Bandit Creek Books

I’m proud to say that I’m a part of this fantastic anthology, the latest release in the Bandit Creek Books series! These seven stories all deal with fools… whether they are purposeful jokesters, or purposely hiding something.

FOOL FOR LOVE by Louise Behiel
A woman is dragged from a contented, happy marriage to a life on the run.

NEVER COUNT YOUR CHICKENS by Victoria Chatham
Two boys play an April Fool’s joke on their employer.

WISHFUL THINKING by Alyssa Linn Palmer
CeeCee tells Ruth about her past, but how truthful is she?

AIRPORT SECURITY by Julie Rowe
On her way home from her tour of duty in Afghanistan, Dr. Abigail Westward discovers it’s not easy to leave her fellow soldiers or the memories of combat behind.

BABY FEVER by Sheila Seabrook
Baby cribs and baby swings and a winking, blinking doll. Oh my!

LUCY’S APRIL FOOLS by Brenda Sinclair
Will this be George Jack’s year to catch Lucy in an April Fool’s joke, or will his wife outsmart him again?

WHERE RABBITS RUN WILD by Trip Williams
Not all the rabbits in the mountains of Bandit Creek are cute and cuddly. Some come with a warning label.

The book is available via Amazon and Smashwords!