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Welcome to the first installment of Bad Romance, a feature that you crazy bunch chose over other, less-silly ones. In this spot, you can follow along as I read, well, bad romance novels and give my insightful feedback on them. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl. And I do recommend listening to the song as you go.

The selected title this week is Taming His Viking Woman, by Michelle Styles, chosen because come on, look at that title! It’s part of the Harlequin “Historical” line, so that means no time-travelling lairds or hunky special forces teams. No, just good, old-fashioned Vikings and good, old-fashioned bodice-ripping (literally) romance. The book is fifteen chapters, but today we’ll just be doing the first one to lay the ground work in. Strap yourselves in, lads and lasses, because we’re off to the races!

Read More Bad Romance: Viking Adventures Part 1

Bad Romance

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With apologies for doing this so late at night, it’s time to continue our great work! This week marked a minor achievement of mine: I managed to read two, count ‘em, two books this week, so huzzah and hurray for that. The first was Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe, by Stuart McLean. For those of you who aren’t Canadian, The Vinyl Cafe originally started as a show on my beloved CBC radio, where every Sunday Stuart’s dulcet voice recounted the stories of Dave, Morley, their kids Sam and Stephanie, and the other folks on their street near-by Dave’s record shop named, you guessed it, The Vinyl Cafe. The stories are sweetness and light, the kind of stories your grandparents might tell from when they grew up “back in the day”. Read More The Great 52 Week Three: Double The Duty, Double The Fun

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  1. The city always looks better at night.
  2. Speaking of night(s), “Contagious” by Night Riots is a really, really good song.
  3. I’ve been reading the Awl and realizing how smart everyone who writes for The Awl is. They got me thinking about social media and how I relate to it because, really, I don’t. I really don’t like Twitter.  Despite having been on Facebook for years, I muster little more than studied apathy about the big blue F. I still don’t quite see the point to them w/r/t/ my life. I don’t like to Tweet (I get anxious trying to make up jokes) and I definitely don’t read other’s feeds (please don’t tell @neilhimself I said that). As for Facebook, well, it’s not so much that I’m private as I simply don’t care to advertise, and what little of that I do, I do it here. The more I go on Facebook, the more it seems like one giant billboard interspaced with articles titled some variant of “You’ll never believe this shocking story of how a dolphin cooked this veteran a birthday scone” beside bad viral marketing for hand lotion (“Not just for masturbating anymore!”). Reading the Awl’s take on Facebook’s new video publishing policy (dare I say “scheme) twinged the places in me where sadness resides for the perceived inevitability of the death of “content” on social media, but then I thought about it and realized that it wasn’t really content in the first place. It’s material thrown together to attract eyeballs and promote mouseclicks and very, very little else. I fear that thought-provoking, meaningful content simply isn’t profitable, but then I thought: So what? When has that ever not been the case? Media follows the money and leaves the poets in the metaphorical (and real) dirt. But I don’t know. I don’t like to think of my presence on the internet in terms of clicks and attraction and profitability, and that might be to my detriment. Apparently very rich and powerful people do think like that.
  4. Now that we’ve had some time to process, there has been some thoughtful commentary on the Charlie Hebdo attack. Not all of it agrees with the magazine, usually to the tune of “martyrs doesn’t mean heroes”. While I fully stand behind everything I said, there have been many differing opinions, some in support of what I said with different words, some that disagreed, and a whole lot more in-between. Coming off of my stronger feelings, I have to say that I thought long and hard about posting some of the covers last week and decided against it. While I would go to the wall for Charlie and I don’t think they count as racist (I can’t speak for the claims of homophobia…but I’ve also seen no evidence for those claims), especially “racist” is tossed around like “Communist” in the 50s (one article I read claimed it was “racist” to post the Muhammad covers, which begs the question of “racist against which race, exactly?” as “Islam” is not a race), in the end, I decided not to post because I think it would needlessly hurt the Muslim friends I have. There are people out there who don’t give two whits about “offending” others and view the world as a vase ready to be broken but as Saladin Ahmed pointed out, we always self-censor and satire chooses its targets carefully. Maybe I just don’t have the cruel edge satire needs, but if I set out to intentionally offend someone, as I’ve done before, I definitely think carefully about it. Being offensive can still hurt, and it’s a very, very fine line.
  5. I forgot to do this yesterday because I was too busy being grumpy but now I’m not! It’s time to roll out an old segment that I want to explore again this year! More below:

Read More Some Wednesday Night Musings

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I’m not a comedian by choice but necessity. I am a firm believer in the idea that you can either laugh at the world or go mad and further, I believe that laughing is usually preferable to madness, but please note the “usually”.

I knew I would never be a great comedian when I discovered a great love for bad puns but I intend to soldier on, not least because laughs are the highest form of applause. The greatest compliment I’ve received was “it was very entertaining”, which, as that was exactly what I was going for, was the best I could have hoped for.

Comedy, though, is frightfully difficult to write and of all the comedic genres, I am most frightened of satire. That isn’t to say that I don’t love it; I do. I’ve loved it since I was young enough to laugh and it only got better as I got older and actually understood the jokes. It is, I think, the best of all forms of comedy, but that might be because of the glut of excellent satire in the past 10-20 years. Between such gems as The Royal Canadian Air Farce, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report, (not to mention parts of Calvin and Hobbes, The Onion, The Beaverton, &c.) how could you say otherwise?

Read More I Wear A Red Dog

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Today marks the first time I’ll be attending a university class since I graduated for the second time in 2011. As you can see, it’s a grueling schedule:

Course
Intro to Canadian History
Canada Since World War Two

Graduating, as I did, with an MA in History and then going back to take undergraduate courses is, frankly, a little embarrassing. If the Ontario College of Teachers had demanded I know something like, Advanced Aviation Engineering or a similar topic where I have no idea what I’m doing, then, y’know, fair enough, and I’d have happily studied it with a pack of undergrads. We’d all be staring blankly at the Professor together, brought together if not for our love of flying then at least bonded by our unified ignorance.

Read More Back To Being Schooled

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For the third time in a row I failed to read at least 52 books a year. While I was certainly busy, what with three weddings (one of those in Europe and one of which I officiated), writing and performing in the Fringe festival, and working two jobs since September, that really isn’t any excuse. A year has a lot of time in it and most books don’t take that long to read. In the little time I had off since the end of school, I managed to read three books in just over a week. While having infinite time certainly isn’t the norm, it does suggest all I needed to do better was a little more focus. I’ve already seen dozens of posts from writers and readers about how to read more in 2015 and while I’m sure there’s plenty of good advice there, I found that what I needed most was to make time. Please note the emphasis on making time. There’s a bittersweet but correct notion that in order to do what you want as an adult it becomes a question of making time (which usually entails cutting that time away from other things) rather than finding time.

Read More Taking A Club To 2015

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Visiting this page, you may have noticed something new about the blog. Hopefully, you did. It is a new year, after all, and resolutions and change are traditional. My personal resolutions are relatively humble (and secret except for “write every day”), but I have big plans for the blog, beginning with a dramatic one: it is now titled “The Cannonball”.

This blog is three years old; old enough to have a proper name and a proper identity. “Published Just In Time ” was a placeholder that acquired shambling sentience and staggered around in a parody of life. As of this morning, it’s been gently put down, not least because the title was laughably inappropriate. There was a posting regimen that I wasn’t coming close to adhering too, nor was the work, in any real sense, being “published”. PJIT wasn’t living up to itself but that’s hardly its fault. There was no real point to what I’ve been writing and that vacuum was causing no end of undiagnosed and existential grief. This blog had an identity crisis. Was it the personal smackings of John? Was it a book review blog that published once a month? Was it my essays that, while clever, lacked the polish of an editor?, &c.

Read More A New Year; A New Ball

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