Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life in the Big(gish) City

Hi all,

It's funny living in a big city. Things happen all the time, people aren't always their best selves (not that they always are in small towns, or villages, or hamlets either), but partially I think that comes from just having to exist in such a big place with so many other strivers doing their striving things. For example: my commute is usually an hour. That's to get home; usually shorter to get to work, but I have to get up before it's light out to beat the traffic. Yesterday I made a wrong turn on my way home and ended up waylaid in the city grid. Took me 2.5 hours to get home. I had to pull into a service station and buy a map. I wasn't even angry. I just sort of shrugged. But I did have to beg off on my night's plans (MY FRIEND: Why can't you come? ME: I got lost getting home. MY FRIEND: You fool!), which stunk.

Anyway, so today I head out for lunch. I just wanted something to bring back to the office. I go to this Brazilian bakery and get this gigantic powdered sugar-dusted pastry with big fat layers of yellow custardy something. The woman had to put it in a cake box, tied up with butcher's twine. Then she gets into this hellish argument with this old Asian woman in Yoko Ono glasses - the Asian woman felt the Brazilian woman was yelling at her. But it's a cafe at lunch time; everyone's sort of yelling at each other. It was really this crazy scene. And they were both rather dignified individuals. I saw some screaming in Fredericton, sure, but it was usually a homeless guy screaming at a pigeon or two drunk soldiers screaming at each other outside a bar.

Anyway, the point of the story is this: that pastry was fucking GOOD. Holy shit! But big. Embarrassingly so. I carted it up to my office in my little cake box, carrying it by the string over my pointer finger. Then I got into my little space and started wolfing away at it. Oh, baby! I don't know what that yellow stuff is exactly, but I know this: yellow = good. But I'm pretty sure I looked like a crazyperson. It was so big and unwieldy, yellow custard squirting out this-and-thattaway, powdered sugar drifting down to the floor and all over my fingers and elsewhere ...

What was I talking about?

I need another one of those pastries.

All best, Craig.    

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What, no new posts?

Hi all,

I know, I know - I've been derelict of duty. I have no excuse, other than I recently moved to Toronto to take a new job as senior editor of Maximum Fitness magazine and between the new gig, finding my bearings, the commute (oh, sweet man o'schivitz, the Toronto commute! It's hideous!) and sleeping on a blowup bed, well, I haven't had much of a chance to post.

Another thing I'm doing in the P90x workout. Do you know about this? It's hellish and great. You see, I'd sort of fallen out of my regular workout routine; the gym was boring me, plus it seemed such a big time-suck out of my day - I'd have to get there, change, work out, change, go home. In the winter it meant layering up or warming my car up and ... anyway, too much. I even sort of begged off running. But my friend did this thing, P90x, a workout where essentially you're playing these DVDs, following this 45-year-old sadist, Tony Horton (the workout instructor) through a 10-day regimen that you loop over 9 times, for ninety days straight, hence P90x.

Anyway, anyone who's read this blog knows I've done some physically strenuous stuff. When I was boxing, the training used to involve me running down the Iowa freeway in the dead heat of summer, from Iowa City to Coralville, hitting the heavy bags in the basement of Gold's Gym for thirteen rounds, then running 7 miles back to Iowa City. I remember once I just collapsed in the breakdown lane along the highway, heaving like a dying horse in the desert. But I never threw up.

Puking always seemed to me the ultimate physical strain indicator. And since I'd pushed my body as far as I thought I ever could and hadn't ever puked, I was always cynical when someone said: "I worked out so hard I barfed!" (perhaps nobody's ever said that to you. Clearly we travel in different circles). Anyway, it always seemed like bunk to me.

So I was in Fredericton still, and the P90x system showed up. I wasn't really planning to do it seriously until I came to Toronto, but anyway I figured I'd give it a whirl and ass around with it. I stick in DVD #2: Plyometrics. Which is a lot of jump-training. The thing is, you do it for an hour straight. Practically no break, where at the gym you're always resting.

So I get to the 25 minute mark, get light-headed, totally exhausted and spent ... and I stagger in the bathroom and puke.

Oh my god! P90x! Bring it! (as Tony Horton would say. He also says: "Do your best and forget the rest," and a lot of other silly bromides). Anyway, I must say it's a serious workout program. But it works. It has to. And I like the idea of pushing myself for 90 days then begging off and chilling for 4 months, eating lard from the can pretty much, then torturing myself for 90 days again. Way better than the usual 5 days working out, 2 days off, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Anyhoo, here are some reviews of Sarah Court. If you haven't bought it already, you make me sad.

National Post Review

Globe and Mail
(ps: since I do P90x, I no longer look like that circa-2006 press pic. Plus I've cut my hair recently!)

Ideomancer Review

All best, Craig.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What? More reviews? Sure!

Hi All,

There's one from January magazine and one from Blacklisted. They both say something interesting about the book, and I thank both of them for that.

Blacklisted blog

January Magazine

I like very much that the Blacklisted reviewer said the characters are fuckups - because they are, but I guess I always felt that, like most of my characters, they're fuckups trying to act against their natures, which, paradoxically, fuck them up worse. And because I myself am a bit of a fuckup from time to time (and by 'from time to time' I mean, more accurately: 'almost constantly') and yet I persist under the belief I'm not such an awful person. And the January magazine review says that the writing has: "an innate humanity, as well, though it almost seems at times the author tries to hide that fact: festoon it with dark pathos and grind it beneath booted feet." Which I get, totally, and I see how people will see it that way but I'm finally coming round to the fact that that is just the way I write and, ultimately, a little bit how I see the world: I'm really not purposefully trying to grind my characters up, or the world they inhabit (although I can see how readers would feel this is so): it's more that I guess I see the world as a place that is randomly lovely and randomly twisted, and I do my very best to show as much of that as I can ... but perhaps I dwell too much on the twisted bits, or perhaps I just describe them more memorably, so that's what sticks in readers' heads. For awhile there I skewed away from that, and I think it got me into trouble; nowadays I like to think I write in such a way that the beauty is there to be seen if a reader wants to see it - if they don't, or if they feel it's crowded out by other aspects, well, I do understand that completely.

All best, Craig.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hey! Here are some things ...

Hello all,

Maybe you want to read a review of Sarah Court? Maybe so! Read one here:

Sarah Court

Or, you want to read (one of the last few, as I'm soon going to be moving on to some other gig and it's unlikely I'll be required to write them there) some Top Bets, wherein I make fun of Michael Jackson, the Devil, wood sculptors, and kids' art? Of course you do!

Top Bets

All best, Craig.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Top Bets

Hi All,

Haven't posted any top bets for awhile. Here's a few you may find dandy, or think suck, but they're free to read so what are you crabbing about?

All best, Craig.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sarah Court in Rue Morgue

Hello All,

Please direct your attention, if you wish, to a review of Sarah Court in RUE MORGUE. Thanks for the kind words, Jessa!

All best, Craig.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So, hey ...

I've got a new blog. The old blog was getting a little finicky, hard to log into, so I thought I ought to start my own and have a little more control of it. I can't guarantee a whole hell of a lot of posts, at least not in the foreseeable future, but perhaps down the line. It's good to at least have a blog back up and I will make a few posts soon to give this new blog a little bit of a test drive. All best, Craig.