Books I’ve Published – 2013

I already have these books listed on My Book Shelf page, but most of you folks don’t visit that (the numbers don’t lie), so I figured I’d do something I rarely do these days, and actually post a link farm. I apologize for those hoping for a new, proper post from me, but I’m a little out of sorts and not feeling too chatty. Included with these links are the brief summaries I wrote for these books a week or two ago:

THE BACK ROADS OF LIMBO
A series of short stories and novellas about spies, sultans, genies, detectives, bad angels, a man’s best friend, the God of Squirrels, Christmas dinner for two, thieves, sorceresses, lost children, working while you sleep, writer’s block, soul-eating vampires, and a giant squid.
PRINT | KINDLE

TERMINAL MONDAY: a Dream of New York City
A man meets an old girlfriend who convinces him to return to novel writing, but not before his wife leaves him, he gets his old band back together, and suffers a nervous breakdown.
PRINT | KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS

TERMINAL MONDAY: Under Observation
A man has a mental breakdown and wakes up to find himself under observation in a New York City hospital.
KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS

ASHES: Infinite Redress
A scientist becomes infected by a space-borne virus that contains the soul of an alien missionary who bonds with her and draws her into solving the mystery of how the aliens all died.
KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS

The BRIDE of WAR
A knight falls in love with a young woman designated to be sacrificed to a mystical dragon, and undertakes a quest to learn how to defeat the dragon and break the centuries-old pact.
PRINT | KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS

LINKTALES volume one
(excerpts from The Dark Guild) A series of mysterious events lead to the old city of Londonis being invaded by soul-eating vampires.
KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | SMASHWORDS

You know what I’m asking you to do. Please. Thank you.

Lee.

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You Never Give Me Your Money… You Only Give Me Your Funny Paper

STATE of the LIMBO ADDRESS(es):

I write fiction. You can find it in the following places:
KINDLE | KOBO | NOOK | SONY | APPLE | PRINT | SMASHWORDS

I do Graphic Design, cartooning and painting. You can see a gallery of some of my work here:
http://blog.clearvisionstudios.net/about/clearvision-studios/

I also also make music. You can hear it here:



and you can buy some of it here:
http://etceterathesismusic.bandcamp.com/

I can be followed on many social networks. I don’t have a Foursquare account or an Instagram account, but I subscribe to just about everything else. I don’t IM much anymore, so don’t ask.

I post these things for you because I am told people don’t like using mouse buttons. This is alien to me, but I don’t want to alienate any of you aliens, so voilá. Don’t say I never did anything for you. And don’t say I don’t do anything for you now. I already know that.

Lee.

Posted in Art, Canadian Music, Etcetera Thesis Music, Graphic Design, Station Identification, Writing | Leave a comment

Need More Spoons

That reference can be taken a few ways. I DO need more spoons (as in, ‘I’m all out of spoons for dealing with mental anxiety and anguish’), and we could probably use some new silverware around here, to replace the mismatched stuff we’ve been scraping by with in the last ten years (10th anniversary in September, folks). But today, I’m all about catching the live performance of one of my all-time favourite rock bands, Spoons. They were probably at their popular zenith in the mid 80s, and I have been a fan through virtually every album and incarnation. I truly wish I’d been of concert-going age when they were touring in ’82 and ’84, but such is life. One of my desert island albums is Arias & Symphonies, perhaps the finest New Wave album ever recorded anywhere, let alone in Canada.

So, Spoons are set to play for a bit at Gore Park Promenade tonight at 7PM (as part of the Pan Am celebrations), I suspect. Curiously small venue, but you know what, I’ll take it. I missed seeing them at Gage Park a handful of years ago, and I promised myself that I would catch them live the next time they came through Hamilton. I think I also missed them at Hamilton Place a while ago, which vexed me immensely. So this is it, folks. One of these days, I’m going to be in a position to afford concert tickets again and will go catch them live (perhaps even with Rob Preuss and Derrick Ross guest performing, which would be a dream come true for me). Some day…

Anyway, I’m typing up the last of the meeting minutes I took a few days ago, and I’m hoping to get some painting or drawing done today. Maybe some recording instead. Haven’t decided yet. But I’m definitely going out to hear the band (and maybe even meet a couple of my musical heroes) tonight.

Hope everyone has a great day.

Oh, and if you still have no idea who Spoons are, I wrote an album review for their latest recording a few years ago, which you can read HERE. It has a bit of a capsule history of the band, but the best way to learn about them is to order Gord Deppe’s band bio, ‘Spoonfed’.

Thank you for reading.

Lee.

Posted in Canadian Music | Tagged | Leave a comment

All This Machinery Making Modern Music Can Still Be Open-Hearted

So, what have I been up to lately? Mainly, painting, planning a couple of albums of new music, and trying to get my head into writing a few books I’m thinking I’d like to have done for the new year.

Here’s a painting I did a few days ago, and then dickered with a bit today in Photoshop, to create the panel effect I’m going for when I mount it:
Continuum 2015 a sml

Here’s a newish song I wrote with my guitar student, Drake:
Drake's-Progress-cover

And here’s a couple of screencaps of a few of the writing projects ahead of me:
VFMD 2015 07 15a VFMD 2015 07 15b

I have bills to pay, guitar and art students to ‘teach’, PB to help along (still!?), dishes to wash (when the cut on my finger is finished healing), and rent to drop off. Oh yeah, and the next issue of StinZine to plan, with whatever help shows up tonight.

I have other projects I want to work on right now, too, but I think pretending I only have a few makes it more likely I’ll actually work on one or two of them today.

Thank you for reading,

Lee.

Posted in Art, Art For Sale, Books of Limbo, Canadian Music, LinkTales, Music, One a Day, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, The People's Republic of Limbo, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Another ArtCrawl Gone (link)

I wrote an article about the perils of buying crap versus buying art at ArtCrawl and other art events. It has a few swear words in it, but it makes its point pretty nicely, I think.

I posted it on the CLEARart Studio Gallery blogsite:

Another ArtCrawl Gone

Please read and share with everyone. Thank you.

Lee.

Posted in Art | Leave a comment

Time Passes, Friends Come, Friends Go, Time Passes

This is the first anniversary of the passing of our beloved Lucky, the feral mini-panther who featured in Terminal Monday (see: Vlad the Impaler), amongst other bits of fiction here and there, mostly starring my proxy, Richard Burley.

Obviously, Dawn and I are in a wistful, memorializing mood. So it’s a bit counterintuitive that we are also going to be going to Art Crawl tonight to sell Dawn’s art at the Lister Block.

I’m listening to very old Gary Numan today. This isn’t about Lucky, but I was listening to my friends, the Royal Seas, last night, and of all the comparisons folks made about their music, I was struck by how much they reminded me of a combination of Joy Division and Gary Numan. More the former than the latter, and so it occurred to me that I’d probably quite like making some 80s music of my own that maybe tipped a hat to some of my own 80s influences, the way friends, Joe, Lee, Jonathan and Stefan have. It might even be cool to put together a band some day to perform some of it a few times. I could drag out some Etc/Thesis tracks that are also very 80s-influenced, like The Dream Falls and You’re Right and I Want Someone Close To Me, and stuff like that. We’ll see.

Back to Lucky and our other deceased cat, Charlie:
11710040_10153170971978323_4932777091140368567_o
I started working on a story/script for a graphic novel ostensibly about two Private Eyes in the afterworld, but essentially a story about my lost cats:
Kismet-cvr-5sml
I still haven’t gone very far with it, but I keep thinking about it. I may have to sit down and look at the pile of notes I started making earlier this year, to see if it’s still a mini series. I had thought it would be a trilogy, at most, but it ballooned a bit. Almost time to see if the story can be condensed safely or not. I’d like to at least have the pencils done by the end of the year, if nothing interrupts me.

Also thinking about LinkWorlds: The Board Game again:
LBG Box Cover-01
It’s been awhile since I made any progress on this, but it IS something I’m very interested in.

Time to get stuff done. Thank you for reading. Have a good day.

Lee.

Posted in 1980, Art, Art For Sale, cats, Etcetera Thesis Music, Games, LinkTales, Music, my wife, The People's Republic of Limbo, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Booyah Trains and Underworld Agricorp Colonies

So I’m thinking once more about the YA trilogy I started last year (or was it the year before? I’ve been kinda busy), called The Passage to Bujah. The problem I got hung up on was that I was writing a story that had transsexuality built into it, and it got very complicated very, very quickly. I like it, and I want to get back to it, but it no longer makes sense as a straight YA story to me. I know YA is still doing fairly well, although it’s not quite as popular as it was in 2013, when every writer was tackling it.

I have this other story idea, which actually came from Dawn, who was talking about underground wheat farming in the arctic circle as a viable alternative to wheat farming on the surface, where pollution and destructive weather patterns are becoming prevalent. I started spinning that off into a few other ideas we had also talked about, and came to the conclusion that I had a major science fiction novel on my hands. I started calling it ‘Cold World’, because there were also supposed to be Chinese espionage agents and police states and stuff, just like back in the Cold War. Problem is, I really didn’t see anyone in the key roles. I had no real people coming to mind for the story, so it’s been sitting dormant, waiting for something to happen.

So there we sit, with two major world building sci-fi dystopian futures in the offing, one with characters and globe trotting and ecological disasters and cyber-nanotech and big damn trains and an entire society of transexuals with multiple genders to become, and on the other hand, I have corporate spies and multinational businesses behaving like police states, cyber-holographic technology and geothermal-powered cities and underground farmland, but no characters coming to mind. And then I started thinking, it’s a pretty big world, you know? What if they cohabitated? Surely we could work in Chinese spies and Corporate mercenaries in my loosely-planned world of super trains carrying the population of the world from one blasted city to the next to do repairs and such.

So yeah… the plan seems to be getting bigger. Might not be a trilogy. Might be something else. Not sure what. It’s part of the larger Link Worlds Continuum anyway. So maybe I start planning it as a YA thing and let the characters age into the rest of the worlds involved.

Just thinking out loud.

Lee.

Posted in Booyah Train, LinkTales, my wife, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

We Stand On Guard For Thee

Short Version (for the Reading-Challenged):
We’ve enacted Bill C-24, and it’s something we should ALL be ashamed of. Instead, we have local ignoramuses gloating about it, on Canada Day. What the hell happened to my country?

Long Version:
“Where were you born” is, was, and should be a completely unacceptable form of inquiry in the country I was born and bred in.

When I was a boy, we made so much joyful noise about becoming a new country and being open and freedom-loving and accepting and caring about our immigrant citizens. Oh sure, there were rude grumblings from ignorant relatives and such, but the majority of us knew there was a point to opening our borders and letting diverse groups of people share their cultures and lives with ours, and all that comes with it. It was never a perfect peace, but by and large, we BELIEVED in our claims to being a multicultural society.

And yet here we are in the 21st Century, grousing about lost job security and bad trade agreements, both foisted upon us by successive inept, corrupt federal governments, and yet congratulating ourselves on their enacting a piece of draconian legislation that promises to strip away the rights and freedoms of all those people who have made the effort to conform to our increasingly difficult and unsavoury demands for conformity and administrative fees and all the rest of the long, expensive process to becoming a citizen of this country. This country, whose charter of rights and freedoms was written within many of our lifetimes, was meant to be a shining beacon of strength and tolerance. We’ve manufactured a poxy national symbol in our so-called Mother Canada, so we can erect a statue and claim greatness we can’t get anyone else to bestow upon us, the way the Statue of Liberty was bestowed upon our neighbours to the south.

Instead, we have people on Canada Day of all days, people who were born here and who should reasonably know better, tell my American wife to her face that she SHOULD be deported if she does something (anything) wrong. No due process, no inalienable rights as a Canadian citizen; just the government’s say so that she has stepped over the line, and automatic deportation back to the States. If she were from a dangerous country with dictators and death squads, that would be tantamount to a death sentence. As it stands, if she criticizes our government for stripping away her rights, she may very well be sent to the very country whose confused and self-defeating political landscape has informed so many of our recent ‘innovations’. Heck, I might yet become an American citizen through all of this. But not the way I want to do it.

You CANNOT build and maintain a just society with such measures. Perhaps it seems a minor point, but we disregard and marginalize a LOT of our minorities, ethnic and otherwise, in a country that still pays lip service to its stance as one of the greatest freedom-loving countries in the world. I have loved my country passionately, for those very characteristics I was brought up to believe in and to prize as our society’s central institutional pillars. Put simply, Canadians give a damn about one another, and the world at large. We are, or at least we were, proud of that.

Lately, I have been seriously reevaluating that stance. The Canada of my youth is being perverted beyond all recognition by a xenophobic, greedy, ignorant, self-important bureaucrat and his thoroughly corrupt administration, who demonstrate contempt for our safe vouched rights and freedoms, and who show every sign of being determined to ‘win’ another election through any means necessary, so they can further lock us into this nightmare trajectory toward becoming the first democratically-elected dictatorship of the 21st Century.

Again I ask you, what in the name of all that we hold sacred has happened to the country of my youth, and to which I mistakenly invited my love to take part in? How far away am I from looking at her through a galvanized fence line or plastic window? How long before they separate us and force us to live apart until I can gain citizenship elsewhere? And why in the world should it be me who is thinking of leaving, when the country I love, that I grew up in and feel such immense pride in, is what’s being ruined by petty, xenophobic ingrates who should never have been allowed to govern this country, let alone be granted a so-called majority government. The levers of power are in the hands deranged rich people, and yet we still blame and shame the homeless, the unemployed, and the immigrants for everything that is wrong in our society.

I’ve got another group to add to that list of worthy scapegoats: native born citizens… because it’s us who are allowing this great nation to be destroyed and transformed into the newest totalitarian state. We’ll be the envy of all those puppet dictatorships around the world who can only dream of making the sweeping, democratically-supported ‘reforms’ to our own charter of rights and freedoms, without having trade embargoes levelled against it.

We had better hope that we don’t become what we are fast on our way to becoming while the likes of Obama are in power south of the border, or we’ll be the first major democratic country to be invaded and conquered in the 21st Century. They won’t have a choice. There’s only one cure for a rabid animal in your backyard, folks.

Thank you for reading.

Lee.

Posted in One a Day, Politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Give It Time – an excerpt from RETURN TRIP

Rita-Mae Burle never takes shit from no one. That’s what Rita-Mae liked best about being Rita-Mae. That was also the biggest reason she became Rita-Mae to begin with.

Rita-Mae used to be a young man named Rich Burle, but she hadn’t really been very good at it. Rita-Mae remembered the first time she’d heard the phrase ‘woman trapped in a man’s body’. It had sounded so weird, she remembered laughing. It took years of soul searching to understand that she hadn’t really been laughing at the idea of being a woman trapped in a man’s body. Even as a young boy, she’s suspected something like that was responsible for her constant state of ill at ease.

Where Rita-Mae came from, in the Far East end of Head-on-the-Lake, the idea of preferring boys over girls was not unheard of; it just wasn’t encouraged. In fact, it was actively discouraged, often with brute force. This message had a way of informing the curious and the confused. The message was: We don’t want no fuckin’ queers around here.

Rita-Mae eventually learned that this went for women as much as men. Women, on the whole, were usually smarter and stronger than men, she had eventually realized, and that may have been what eventually lead to her wanting to become a woman. But it definitely meant that gay women didn’t get beaten up quite as often as gay men. It happened, and some of the things that happened instead of being beaten were at least as bad, if not worse. Rita-Mae learned about some of that after undergoing her change.

Fortunately, Rita-Mae did eventually realize that she was in fact a woman trapped in a man’s body. She didn’t regard herself as a modern transgender with no specific binary sexual identity. She knew she was definitely a woman, and happy to be seen as such.

That she wasn’t often seen as such was dismaying, even though she’d spent a great deal of money to make the change as seamless as possible. She’d been born with particularly effeminate features that hardly changed throughout the first twenty-five or so years of her life. She had, up to that point, been a successful writer of comedy for a number of local acts, and was even beginning to delve into stand-up herself. However, she felt like her life was a lie, and it started coming out—along with herself—in her comedy.

Fortunately, it was the Nineties, and lots of people were coming out and making a good living off of their pro-queer activities. Sure, it eventually back lashed with the continued accusations of a so-called Gay Agenda, but the only agenda any gays she ever knew had was to live and love in peace, without being hit in the face with bottles if they so much as smiled the wrong way at another person of their birth sex.

As she approached her thirties, however, she started finally developing some serious masculine traits that had long eluded her. She immediately began researching her options. Deciding that she wasn’t going to be happy just dressing up in man-sized women’s clothing, and certainly wasn’t content to remain a gay man in a gay man’s body, she opted for the medical procedures it would take to make her truly a woman.

She had now been a woman in fact for about ten years. It hadn’t been easy for her. Of course, there was the traditional ‘being disowned by your family’ event, followed by ‘your lover growing apart from you’ cycle, and finally, the ‘career death by being openly transgender’ press release.

Rita-Mae didn’t write for comedy any more. No one wanted to tell the kinds of jokes she found funny, even though it was now the 21st Century. After the self-interested days of the Eighties made way for the nouveau-hippy enlightenment of the Nineties, Rita-Mae had been lulled into a false sense of security that the world was changing, and becoming more tolerant and understanding of LGBT issues.

Then the new millennium arrived, and a backlash so deep and wide happened that, for every step the queer community took forward, they were forced three or four steps backward, or so it seemed. In 2014, there were African countries, quietly supported by bigoted neo-conservative groups in North America, that were passing legislation making it legal to beat and kill queers in their communities. Russian politicians approved anti-gay laws that lead to the arrest and imprisonment of numerous publicly gay and lesbian peoples, foreign and domestic. And in the good old US of A, progressive thinkers were becoming increasingly alarmed at the surging upswing in unbelievably feverish anti-gay, anti-progressive, bigoted, and downright fascist behaviour, both in state and municipal legislatures. There were billions of dollars being pumped into every neo-con program going, and that was cultural as well as financial conservatism, which surprised a lot of gay conservatives when they woke up to find the shoe on the other foot.

And back home in her beloved Canada, in her hometown, which was almost perpetually in a cultural time warp, they queer community had just begun to peek out from the closet when the door got slammed right in their eye. Eventually, there were movements to make this change, but nothing of lasting value, except perhaps the attitude that Gay was Okay, just as long as it Stayed Away from me and mine.

This had led to numerous black listings from writing jobs, and, on one memorable occasion she never discussed, a gang rape, which had left Rita-Mae in hospital, followed by the women’s shelter, for several weeks, until the women of the shelter got her forcibly evicted for being a Fake Woman.

These days, Rita-Mae kept a low profile, and though she still occasionally did stand-up comedy when the more enlightened impresarios would have her on stage, she mostly stuck to her day job.

While Rita-Mae had been in the hospital, she’d had to have some reconstructive work done on her voice, as there had been a knife involved in her rape. As her voice therapist coached her back to the land of the audible, she picked up a few things about sound engineering, and soon after, began studying music engineering in her spare time.

After she’d felt safely recovered, she made a series of comedy albums, which she recorded in her home studio, and used these to obtain the occasional gig engineering albums for other musicians. This eventually led to her getting a gig as a session engineer, and then a house engineer, working for a couple of indie producers who were making their own music more or less whenever the studio wasn’t in commercial use, and needed someone to take up some of the slack for them.

Now Rita-Mae was in-demand as an engineer, and was even starting to dabble in record producing on her own. It was funny how life worked out. Things weren’t perfect. But sticking to your guns could lead to better things than you might ever have experienced if you stayed hidden in your shell.

It was that crazy little guy who saved her that night who taught her that. It took him beating one of her rapists senseless, followed by them seeing his blood after one of them knifed him, to break up the brutal act.

She hadn’t been able to speak, and almost all she could see was blood, but she still remembered his words, as he held her and stroked her matted hair:

“Just remember… this too shall pass. Just give it time.”

And then he died.

She never learned his name. It was the one thing she’d never forgiven herself for, in a lifetime of things she’d been told she must repent for. The only thing.

Rita-Mae turned off the recorder, locked up the studio, and walked home in the quiet of a late winter evening. There wasn’t a soul around. She used to be terrified at times like these, but these days, she revelled in it. She had a new job, a new life, a new lover, and a new outlook on life.

“Thank you, stranger,” she whispered to no one in particular. She almost imagined she could hear his reply on the cold winter breeze.

© 2015 Lee Edward Mcilmoyle

Posted in Books of Limbo, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Can You Believe It? – an excerpt from RETURN TRIP

SEEING IS BELIEVING
Jon Burnley was just leaving the studio when he felt a vibration from his phone. He slipped it out of his pocket and tapped the screen, and then nearly dropped it as he saw that it was a British phone number, and the Caller ID read Howard Steeves.
“Hello,” he answered brightly, trying not to geek out, in case it was a prank call.
“Hullo, is this Robert Jon Burnley?”
“Yes.”
“My name is Howard Steeves. I’m the guitarist for the band ‘See’. I’m sure you know us.”
“Yes!”
“We’re in the middle of a tour and our current singer, David Bender, has developed laryngitis. We’ve heard your recordings with Distant Echo, and we think you’d be the perfect replacement. Would you be interested?”
“Goodness, Yes!”
“Very good,” Howard answered warmly. “Can you meet us in London by Friday? We have rehearsal space there, and we’d really like to get started working with you. We can send you airfare and set you up in a hotel, if it will help.”
“Yes, that would be fantastic!”
“Excellent. We look forward to seeing you on Friday.”
“Yes,” Jon repeated to the silent smart phone. Can it be true? Does it really happen like this?
He turned around and went back into the studio, looking for Jeff and Steve. He didn’t know what he was going to tell them, but he certainly wasn’t going to miss out on the chance of a lifetime to tour with See.
Jon had been singing along to Andrew Johnson’s lyrics since he was a boy. He had the same high tenor voice Andrew had, and loved writing and performing Progressive Rock numbers in the See vein. He’d even been in a fairly successful See tribute band before he’d joined Distant Echo. He loved being in the band, and he definitely didn’t want to quit, but he’d do it if he had to, if that’s what it took.
He was going to be the lead singer of See. He didn’t doubt for an instant that he could do it. He’d waited his whole life for the chance. Nothing could stop him now.

FRIDAY WAS A GOOD DAY
On the plane over, Jon had worried that the air pressure in the cabin was too high, as he’d started to experience vertigo and a sore throat. The attendant assured him all was well. He asked if anyone else had developed a sore throat. Again, she kindly promised him all was well. Then Jon became frightened that he might actually be coming down with something. This was impossible! He couldn’t be sick on the day of his audition!
He pleaded with anyone who would listen to find him honey, lemon or ginger for a strong cup of tea. Eventually, a group of charming elderly ladies on a return trip from America produced the ingredients he needed, and he took over the flight attendants’ station to make the tea himself, before returning to his seat to drink every drop before it got cold. At some point after that, he dropped off to sleep, probably to everyone’s relief.
When he awoke, the plane was finally landing, and he was only too happy to comply with all landing precautions if it meant he got off the plane sooner, as he was almost certain there were germs going around in the air that had nearly made him sick.
Upon landing at Heathrow, he was one of the first to disembark, and indeed, he was almost certain he heard a few people cheering as he exited the plane. He just smiled to himself, fearing most of them would be suffering from some flu bug or other while he was happily ensconced in the rehearsal studio.
Picking up his bags, he started looking for his ride. He wondered if one of the guys would be along to personally welcome him, or if he’d have to wait to meet the whole band at the rehearsal.
He wandered toward the front street exit, still not having spotted his ride, and was beginning to wonder if he’d been forgotten. That didn’t seem likely. Maybe they had gotten the pickup time wrong, or maybe the plane had gotten held up longer than expected, or maybe it had arrived early.
Jon was starting to spin his wheels a bit. He looked up and down the airport lobby, wondering if he was going to have to check into a hotel on his own for the night until they contacted him, and then spotted the airport lounge, which reminded him that he hadn’t had anything to drink but the tea. He hoped they had properly filtered water.

LOUNGE
Entering the lounge, he saw that it was mostly empty, which he found a bit odd. He’d been in a number of airports all over the world, including this one, and he’d never seen one this dead.
The bartender was a short, overweight gent with an almost-convincing full beard and glasses, wearing a blue cardigan unbuttoned over a pale blue polo tee. Really, nothing like he would have expected from a bartender. Jon suspected he was the manager.
“Can I get a glass of filtered water?” he asked hopefully.
“Fresh from the spring,” the man replied, reaching for a stemmed beer glass. He was just about to put ice in the glass when Jon held his hand up:
“No thank you. I only drink purified water. That ice has been sitting for who knows how long…”
“Well, I know how long, because I just put it there two minutes ago. If you’d come in sooner instead of standing outside, you’d have seen me doing it. The ice comes from the same source as the water, which is triple filtered, because though it pains me to admit it, my customers can tell the difference.”
“Oh,” said Jon, a little taken aback. “I guess it’s alright, then.”
“Excellent,” the bartender replied, and opened a glass bottle with a label he didn’t recognize.”
“You are certain that is filtered water, right?”
“You’re a singer, aren’t you?” the man asked him bluntly.
“Is it that obvious?”
“No, my second guess was going to be thespian. I only know of one other profession that is as fussy about water as singers and actors, and that’s lawyers, but happily, they don’t know when they’re being given tap water. They just think they do. But in any case, I don’t serve tap water here. The airport plumbing is atrocious. Are you American?”
“Right again. I probably should have said Canadian, right?” Jon grinned. He didn’t know why he was grinning, but the guy was making him feel better just by talking to him.
“Nope. That trick doesn’t work on me. I am Canadian, and I know too many lousy Canadians to pick on Americans blindly any more. Where you from?”
“Well, I lived in Seattle for years, but I grew up in Laguna Beach. Moved back there not too long ago. Funny how that works, isn’t it?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” the bartender replied. “I think we all go back to our roots when we start raising a family, like salmon spawning where they were born. I mean, there are exceptions, of course, but they usually have been so damaged by toxic home lives that leaving and never returning for any reason seems acceptable, for a while. I knew a woman who hated her family so much, she left Brooklyn to move to Canada to marry a hack writer. She missed home the whole time she was away, because to her, NYC was home, but she didn’t miss the family she had left behind.”
“And where is she now?”
“Last time she called me, she was living in Brooklyn, selling art and making a fortune.”
“And the writer?” Jon asked, knowingly.
“Tends bar in an airport lounge in Ol’ Blighty, last I heard,” he winked.
Jon grinned and held out his hand in greeting, “Hello. My name is Jon.”
“I’m Rich,” the bartender replied, shaking his hand heartily, “though you wouldn’t know it to see me here,” he added with a grin.
“Nice to meet you, Rich. Did you ever remarry?”
“Nah. Work has opened up a whole new avenue of social interaction for me, but my schedule doesn’t allow for much canoodling, these days. Most action I get these days is the occasional insincere flirtation from some of my waitresses, who all have good men to go home to.”
“All? You mean you don’t hire women who have abusive men?”
“I hire them on the spot. Then I set them down pretty much where you’re sitting, and spell out to them that they have to get rid of the bum and take good care of themselves if they want to keep working here. I’ve only had one or two turn me down. The boys and I take care of the moving arrangements.”
“Boys?”
I have a couple of guys in security who help me out when I introduce them to my waitresses and tell them the stories the girls tell me. Bad husbands and boyfriends have a tendency of finding themselves homeless when girls come to work for me.”
“Kind of a jolly old Robin Hood figure, eh?”
“Well, more like Mike Callahan,” Rich joked.
“Spider Robinson!” Jon laughed.
“Yup, loved those books. I don’t have a fireplace, but I found a bar, and now I run it the way I see fit.”
“So,” Jon said, “what advice do you have for me, Rich?”
“Hmmn? No advice.”
“I’m sort of disappointed, Rich. Mike wouldn’t hesitate to speak his mind.”
“Sure he would. Mike was an expert at saying nothing until it was absolutely required. Other than a bit of a water fetish, you don’t appear to have too many problems. Singer comes to London, probably auditioning for some big band, and I can only think of one or two big names hiring right now, so odds are, you’re in town for that, which means you’re good, because big London bands don’t waste time. Studio space is at a premium here. You don’t look like you’re a metal fan, so I know you’re not auditioning for Ultraviolet, so it must be See.”
“Wow, that’s incredible,” Jon laughed. “You worked that out just by looking at me?”
“Well, partly that. Also, I think I see Nate Cristensen over there looking for you.”
“What?!” Jon spat, craning his neck so fast he feared whiplash. Sure enough, there was the tall peroxide blonde bassist, clearly looking for someone.
“I should get going,” Jon answered. “Maybe we’ll talk again.”
“Sure thing. I’m here most hours,” Rich replied. “Oh! And I thought of some advice for you, if you’ll have it.”
Jon grinned and nodded.
“Remember to breathe. You only get to do the incredible things in life by being who you really are. That’s not to say it’s always going to go your way, but you can afford to do a little less worrying, now. You’re on the right path. Just don’t stress out over little things. You got here. Enjoy the ride home. Seeya soon.”
“Thanks, Mike,” Jon winked, and Rich nodded appreciatively.
It amused Jon greatly that Rich had sounded so certain of what he was saying, even though he hadn’t really done more than deliver a platitude or two about relaxing. Jon knew about relaxing and breathing from years of yoga. But Rich’s advice had come at the right time, because Jon realized he had been stressing about the audition. Rich knew the band had already pretty much auditioned him before sending for him. The gig was his. He just had to take better care of himself than David had, and enjoy himself more. He was here.
But breathing was more important than most people realized. Jon took a deep breath and walked over to meet Nate, who looked him over sternly before finally cracking a mile wide grin.
“Welcome to the band,” Nate said without further ado. “The guys are already waiting to meet you at the studio. No work tonight. We just want to play a few things for you and get your input, before we call it a night. The real work starts tomorrow. You think you’re ready?”
Jon released a slow breath and replied, “Since the day I was born.”
“Good. Let’s go.”

STRANGER THINGS
A few weeks later, before the tour started, Jon returned to Heathrow to visit the lounge and tell Rich about the news. He was disappointed to find the lounge was closed. A security guard approached him as he was peering through the window.
“Can I help you with something, sir?”
“No,” Jon answered, and then thought again. “Actually, yes. Can you tell me if the owner is in today?”
“You mean Rich Bearly? No, he’s in the hospital right now. Seems some git came at him with a knife for hiring his old lady out from under him, and Rich got injured wrestling him to the ground before he could hurt the girl.”
“Is he alright?” Jon asked, alarmed.
“Oh yeah. I got there myself and hauled him off the guy before he could do any permanent damage, but he did his ticker some mischief, so he’s in getting some rest. He should be out in a day or two.”
“Good. So the lounge should be open again soon, right?”
“No. ‘Fraid not. He’s decided to sell the lounge and move back to Canada. Said his work here is done, whatever that means. They’re inside now, hearing pitches from prospective owners. Seems he won’t let go of the place until they find someone who will do right by the girls.”
“That sounds like Rich, alright,” Jon replied.
“Oh, you knew him? Surprised you didn’t hear about the hospital thing,” the security guard commented.
“No, we’d just met a few weeks ago. But it’s funny. It was like talking to someone I’d known my whole life. We just clicked, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah, Rich was like that with lots of people. Never thought I’d see him sell this place. Boys and I have a bet going that the next owner will be some rock star looking for a tax write-off.”
“Hmmn, yeah,” Jon answered absently. He didn’t think it was quite time for him to invest in a bar in a foreign country just yet.
But he did make a point of visiting the lounge pretty regularly, just to keep an eye on the place. For Mike.

© 2015 Lee Edward McIlmoyle

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Splatted Glass

Okay, so I’ve had this idea for an interactive method of abstract expressionism, whereby I do a series of carefully photographed or scanned abstract splatters, one at a time, and then catalogue them and put them into a collection of brushes for an app that would allow other people (who are less inclined to strip down and get paint all over them in the pursuit of artistic expression) to use my individual splatters as a form of digital composition tool. See, even I would like to use such a tool, but I especially want it to be a widespread application technique, so people who like abstract art but can’t let themselves paint in that style enough to develop a piece or pieces that they feel represents their inner landscape effectively. I like live collaboration, but I simply can’t collaborate with everyone, fun as that might be.

So this system would allow me to develop compositions on individual sheets of clear plastic, one after another, until I have a full range of compositions that consist of individual layers that can be separated out and put into other compositions. It devalues what I do personally a little bit, but not enough to make me feel like what I’m proposing is a mistake. There are elements I’ve created over the years that I wished I could pull out of various paintings and apply elsewhere. A little Photoshop might make some of the upper layers available, but the lower elements will probably always be obscured. So this idea would open all of that up for future pieces. I’m not sure I would want to do it for a long time, but I could definitely see developing it as a franchise tool that others could pick up and run with after I’d exhausted myself on it and moved on. The licensing fees alone would probably cover my expenses, even if the app were pirated a fair bit.

The upside of all of this is, people with no experience painting abstracts could use my works as a tool to build their own pieces, which they could have printed on canvas or whatever and installed in their home: a genuine CLEARart Collaboration might never sell for thousands or millions, but it would be a cherished possession that the owner would be proud to show off. And that’s miles better than people buying mediocre art to decorate their walls because it matches their decor.

So I was thinking about artist’s grants and money prizes and such, and thought I should name my concept and try to find people who can help develop it with me, since I lack coding skills and a distribution model for such an enterprise.

Splattered-Glass-001

© 2015 Lee Edward McIlmoyle

And that’s my possibly blue sky unfulfillable idea for today. Thank you for reading.

Lee.

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Wake Up

Listening to Circa Zero. Andy Summers comes back to pop music with stunning effect. It’s thirty years since The Police recorded anything new. He’s done a lot of recording since then, but other than the brief Police reunion concert series, very little in the way of true pop music. That’s not a condemnation of his solo work. It’s just, you can miss a sound after a while. And until Sting sees a reason to write new Police music, the chances are, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers will continue exercising their more avant garde sides, merely moonlighting as former pop stars in absentia.

Warren tells us this morning that he takes five minutes a day to just look at the world he’s in, with no regard for the time lost. For him, it’s time gained. Nice. I can’t claim the same. I look occasionally, but not with any regularity. Shame, really. All these things I have seen…

I’m feeling a little disappointed with the way things aren’t quite coming together for PBHamOnt this year. No pressure to perform and a minimal volunteer group have robbed it of much of its fight. I may be doing something to speed things up a bit soon, but I may already be too late.

I have Scrivener open pretty much constantly now, which is a practice I’ve been doing for the last handful of years. I don’t write constantly, but when I am in a writing phase, the book stays open pretty much until it’s done. I’ve closed this one a few times in the last couple of years since I started preparing it. I remain uncertain about its future. I want to believe it will have a better future than The Back Roads of Limbo. I need to believe it will have a better chance than The Approximate Distance to Limbo did. I have an itch to pick up one of my other backburner projects instead. My better demons tell me they will have a better chance at commercial success. It’s hard to know which way is the road out of Limbo, as all roads only seem to go further in, whichever way you turn.

I still have an image of the Kermit Frog on my desktop. Its very existence is proof that this world isn’t as crap as I feel it often is. The world has been crap for such a long time, but it still hasn’t really recovered from the loss of Jim Henson. I think I would have liked to have worked for him, even though I’m too short to be a Muppeteer. It would have been good to design or write for Muppets, I think.

That’s not all I’ve got today, but I should save some of it for the work ahead. Thank you for reading.

Lee.

Posted in Books of Limbo, Music, One a Day, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Serious Irregularities

Just a brief post to talk about what I’m up to, and to share a brief bit of graphical stats amusement, which I don’t do very often anymore.

First, there’s those buttons I started working on. They’re still not done. I might work on them today, barring interruptions. Gotta give them a black glass effect, before finishing them with something a little more eye popping. I wish I had some white paint…

Second, I’m trudging through the miles of rough road towards the end of CUSTOMS AND ROAD SONGS OF LIMBO. It’s a collection of weird and sometimes extremely naughty stories about a lot of new people, including a handful about Richard Burley. These will likely be the last Richard Burley tales I tell for a very long time, if not forever. I may post a bit of one sooner or later. We’ll see.

Third, I’m contemplating redrawing an old picture, called Ægypt, which I was meant to finish drawing and then paint way back in my college days. I’m thinking of a proper update, because the imagery and symbolism I chose back then isn’t as pertinent to me now as it was then (though some fun things haven’t changed, and certainly won’t). The original looked something like this:
Ægypt 001 sml
I have so many other pieces of illustration work to do, but this old piece keeps calling to me, like an old lost love, waiting for their moment. So I’ll take a new look at it, if I can, and get old business out of the way once and for all. Who knows? Maybe I’ll reconnect with the fiery young artist I was in my teens and twenties. Not likely, but it could happen.

Fourth: I have PB stuff I should be working on, but no one is asking me, although I probably owe some work somewhere to get the ball rolling. When I get that figured out, I’ll make a stab at it.

Fifth: Okay, time to stop mucking about. There’s always a million other things to think about, but I promised I’d show you some metrics. These next two images are screenshots from two of my most steadily visited posts on this website. Regulars can probably guess which ones they are (and no, it’s NOT Thick as a Brick II).

GENESIS – DUKE (1980) – a classic rock album review
G-D-acrar-2015-06-19

The LAST LOVE SCENE – an excerpt from TERMINAL MONDAY [slightly NSFW]
TLLS-eTM--2015-06-19

And there you have it. As Elizabeth Bear liked to say back in the last good LiveJournal days, five things makes a post.

Posted in Art, Books, Books of Limbo, Music, One a Day, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, Reviews, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Sound of Silence – an Update of Sorts

Okay, I know, it’s been a while, and no news from me usually means too much is happening and I can’t find time to post. Well, big surprise, too much is happening and I haven’t found time to post.

I’m trying to finish a newish collection of (slightly) taboo short stories. They probably won’t be any more ppular than my last two novels, which were sort of short story collections with a sequential narrative throughline. So, you know, novels, but not the way most folks are used to novels being. I was going to have a third volume to that story done by now, but the overwhelming lack of interest took the fun out of writing it for me, so I’ve officially abandoned it. No more Richard Burley. Sorry. It takes a lot out of me, and not having an audience for work that hard just isn’t worth doing anymore. I have over a hundred other story ideas waiting to happen. Probably closer to two hundred, at this point.

Meanwhile, I mounted these:
Triathlon (2015) sml
All Is Fair (In Love and War) (2015) d sml

I painted these a week or two ago:
Frenzy (2015) sml
They haven’t actually been mounted, but it’s a pretty good approximation of what I have in mind for them.

I’ve been slowly reading Jim Henson’s biography. I have a strong affinity to Jim and his work, even though I’m pretty sure we were nothing alike (when he was alive).

I have oodles of back pain right now.

I want to start work on a huge sci-fi novel about a future world where Asian corporations rule the commercial world (I know, big stretch), the environment is out of control (ditto), security is unbelievably tight (ditto), direct democracy is run using push technology (not far now), the world’s wheat farming is done underground (didn’t see THAT one coming, did you?), cyber-technology is virtual (whee!), virtual reality is nanotechnological AND cybernetic (wheeeee!), mental illness is encouraged (hoo-wah!), and Mythraism is the most powerful religion in the world (booyah!). #ColdWorld

I also want to get back to work on my sprawling three act concept album about a closeted bisexual songwriter whose three uncles used to be in a famous rock band until his father (the drummer) died under mysterious circumstances and the eldest brother (and lead man) found God and is on the verge of becoming a Cardinal.

And the neighbourhood and ward volunteer work hasn’t gone away yet. I keep getting drawn back in because I hate to ee the work I did up to now go to waste, but it’s getting harder and harder to justify the hours spent. It’s affecting my personal life in ways I’m not sure I can handle.

We DID do a cool summer event called Art in the Park, though, so that’s nice.

The latest issue of StinZine is out. Free digital downloads available.

My wife did three really cool paintings that are now hanging at This Ain’t Hollywood on James St N, one block north of Barton Street:
Spite - Greed - Nice Things
Spite - Greed - Nice Things - TAH

There’s probably much more than this to report, but I’m gonna stop now and maybe drift back tomorrow to report more stuff.

TTYL,

Lee.

Posted in Art, Art For Sale, Books of Limbo, Eroticism, Etcetera Thesis Music, One a Day, Perpetual Tuesday, Stinson Community Association, StinZine, Terminal Monday, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Insignificance of Dreams

So I woke up at about 5:%0ish this morning, but after just over an hour, decided to go lay down again. I did in fact fall back to sleep, which rarely happens when I try sleeping during the day.

I had a strange dream.

I was at a family get-together, but not of any family I know. I think the inference was that I was an orphan, and that I was in some sort of relationship with one of the people there (not sure who; there were quite a few people there), and during the event, I manage to upset a portion of the family for mysterious reasons I can no longer recall perfectly (they left, which upset the other half of the family), but I was quite upset, and abandoned the party to go mope in a large abandoned area out behind the house or shed or whatever it was. I really just wanted to go sit and cry or something, but when I got there, I spotted a purple headed snake peering out from a rotted log, and it immediately started coming after me through the grass. I was waving some noisy plastic bag or something and it started backing off, and then I pursued it until I got to the point where I was trying to step on its head.

And then I woke up.

I did some Googling, but remain unconvinced and uncertain of the relevance.

So that’s my story for today. Lots and lots of stuff happening right now. More news soon, I hope.

Heart summer-events-8-5x11-003

Lee.

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Like Tears In Rain

Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the passage of time in a lifetime.

I started typing that as a brief status update on Facebook, of all things. I do that a lot, these days. I start with a small motif and build a symphony of words. I do it mostly in emails, but I do occasionally share it elsewhere, as well. Today, I think I’ll do my job and post on my own blog. But that’s not the point I came to make.

I’m listening to the first Supertramp album AFTER Roger Hodgson left. It’s the first time I’m hearing it. It has a lot to recommend it. Rick really pulled out the stops. I’m ashamed I missed it.

In the album, snippet recordings of Reagan and Bush and probably Margaret Thatcher and others, play in the background periodically. They’re all gone now, more or less. These are different days. Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, is trying to revive the good old days of late 20th Century pseudo-democratic fascism, and is doing a damned good job of it. But he doesn’t make that many memorable public speeches, the way his predecessors did, so we’re not going to hear as many soundbites and such in twenty to thirty years, ironically reframing his sinister reign. We’ll have newspaper clippings, and someone will catalogue and share out the public addresses he did make, but he’s so anonymous here in Canada that it’s impossible to point to a speech he made that really cements his reign. He’s remembered these days for his blatant, bald faced lies and obfuscations, the flat denials, and for having written a treatise on the possibility of a dictatorship in Canada. Oh, and his famous quote (misquoted here, because I hate quotes), ‘In ten years, you won’t recognize Canada’. Hitler is famous for having said something similar. Yes, I just Godwinned myself. Make of that what you will.

The point I’m actually trying to make isn’t a political one, though. What I really want to say is, these are the best of times, and these are the worst of times, but they’re also living times, and we have living memories of veritable dictators, both foreign and domestic, who have set the tone for the beginning of the 21st Century in a way that none of us, save a few savvy Sci-Fi authors in the 60s, ever really imagined. We note with irony the rise of groups like Anonymous, whose infamous Guy Fawkes mask made it into modern pop culture thanks to a graphic novel written by one of my personal writing heroes, Alan Moore. It was a cute film, but you need to read V For Vendetta to really grasp what a marvellous tale it is. But again, that’s not what I came to talk about.

The thing is, we all live with our own slightly skewed sets of recollections of how it all went down. Science is empirical and truth is not subjective, except that, in a very real sense, lies become the truth when we accept them and allow them to mold our viewpoint. The colours change, but we scarcely notice, because our world is full of myriad mixed colours already, like one of my abstract paintings. In a way, I paint those to help illustrate my individual perception of the lack of harmony that I perceive in the world. But again I digress.

Like Roy Batty up on the rooftop at the end of the film, I feel like all of this raw experience is going to be lost and misunderstood in time. You only have to look at the activities of Tea Partiers, who tend to extol the virtues of Saint Ronnie, to realize how badly our public perception has been manipulated. Remember how Richard Nixon was virtually canonized in the last few years before he died? Many of us felt like he’d served his sentence. He didn’t. He lived out his days relatively quietly, but he wasn’t pounding rocks, and he wasn’t lining up with food stamps, either.

The point I’m really trying to make is, memory is a sieve. Even in these days of forensic historical data, we revere the garbled memories of dead tyrants and wave a heavily edited and translated book like a flag. I know. I was one of them. I have several copies of the Holy Bible, in different editions, including one with a fake leather cover. I was considering becoming a missionary, in fact. Nowadays, I think of the way modern missionary work has pretty much infected poorer nations with a rabid, fervent religious zealotry that could only lead to trouble, and it does. Executions of gays and rape gangs trying to convert lesbians. When faith becomes a gateway to barbarism, you have to question not the faith, but the mentality behind it, because every faith has its dark history, but in modern times, most if not all of them are meaningful and hopeful. Or at least, they were when I was younger. These days, it seems everyone is trying to bring about Armageddon as early as possible, so they can be posthumously declared the winner. The irony just knocks me out. We’re all gambling on an afterlife we can’t see, thinking we can afford to burn the bridge we’re standing on, because angels will catch us when we fall. But again, I didn’t come to talk about this, either.

“Memories. You’re talking about memories.”

Yes, Deckard. I mean memories. We all have them, and we can barely keep track of them, and we scarcely recall things correctly or in the right order, but we insist we understand reality better than everyone around us, and push our agendas on one another like it’s our sole imperative in this life to leave behind ideological clones of ourselves to carry on our work, no matter how odious it was.

Is it any wonder we’re all so angry and tense all of the time? The happy few are those that ignore just about everything going on around them, until the badness comes for them too. I think I’ve reached a point where I believe in only one thing, and it’s a sentiment that is echoed in numerous of my favourite songs: Something’s gotta change. I think we have to start with really looking at the way we misremember the recent past and really try to see where our perceptions have been coloured and manipulated to allow us to more easily accept and even condone the tragedy and the high crime of the world around us. We can’t make things better if we don’t even see the problems clearly. We have everything explained to us so vividly by our elected authorities that we actually start to believe this is how it has to be. When we start accepting injustice and ineffective government and poverty and economic disparity, we climb onto a spiralling chute pointed downward, leading to nowhere, but giving us the impression we’re going somewhere inexorable.

The only thing that is inevitable is, if we keep going the way we have, we’ll exhaust everything and die off. Our ashes and bones will wash away, unremembered and unmourned. We’re gambling on the big afterlife lottery, and failing to recognize that, whether you believe or not, there is no empirical evidence anywhere that any reward waits for us after we die. None. All we actually have is each other, and we have the temerity to treat each other like despicable competition for the last seat on the last great train ride into the sky.

I think our world has a death wish, and it’s poisoning everything, including us. I refuse to believe there is a sky father judging everything we do, but I also refuse to believe that there is anything for us to become a greater part of if we can’t manage the simple task of not defecating where we eat. Not poisoning and ruining the very ground we stand on. We have one great world, so far, and we can’t bring ourselves to take better care of it and our neighbours on it. We are all looking for the exit door, and failing to recognize that there is no exit.

But if we burn it all down around our ears, it’s a dead certainty that we all lose. And all of our efforts and grand schemes, our science, our history, our achievements, our successes and failures, will all wash away. All lost.

Like tears in rain.

Lee.

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Such Happenings!

I am so busy right now, I can only stop by long enough to say I’m too busy. I apologize.

Here’s one thing I’m trying out:
VFMD 2015 05 11a sml

Yes, I’m playing ABBA. Don’t judge me!

Back to work. Much more soonish.

Lee.

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Retraced Steps: Participatory Budgeting Reconsidered

Okay, I’ve written some long posts on this, fairly recently. I don’t know if I have a long post in me today [Sure you do. ~Ed]. I just want to say that, owing to the way in which PeeBeeHamOnt has not yet had a chance to properly ask the people of Ward 2 whether they even want a PB process this year, let alone who gets one and for how much, I’ve temporarily climbed back into the saddle. Almost no one seems to have figured out that I left in any case, so it’s just as well. I’ll still ask if anyone wants to take over, once we’ve got the Good ship PeeBee back in the water. But for now, I’m back.

THE PLAN (IN BRIEF)
The plan now is to share information and get people talking about whether they even want a proper PB process in their ward of Hamilton, Ontario. It’s something that nobody has really done this year. Even our Councillor has been fairly circumspect in his consultation, largely sticking to the neighbourhood associations, but that’s neither here nor there. PB isn’t really as much about him as residents of the ward have come to believe, and really, why should it be? He’s a representative of the City of Hamilton, and he has a job to do, which doesn’t really include designing and implementing direct democratic processes. It’s actually a bit surprising to me that anyone would expect otherwise. It took my colleagues and I almost two years to devise a comprehensive but simple process that everyone could grasp, and I had time on my hands. The Councillor has two overworked assistants who are neither political scientists nor social planners. What do you expect?

SCHEDULE FOR RELEASE
We will be unveiling that basic plan on its own website in a few days (if I get it assembled and working quickly enough), where you will be able to sign up and discuss the plan, to help us refine it well enough to win Council approval.

ABOUT THE PLAN…
The timeline was the most complicated part about our plan this year, and required varying but in some cases quite considerable amounts of volunteer work and resident involvement, which some were less impressed with than others. In some instances, it was a pretty big ask, even I will admit. But I realized early on that, without a dedicated core of volunteers, no truly participatory process can be implemented. You simply can’t hire enough people to run a grassroots engagement campaign to build groundswell support for a fairly untried (and to date still not completely implemented; some 2013 and 2014 projects still haven’t broken ground, for various largely bureaucratic reasons that the City has not been fully transparent and forthcoming about) system of problem solving self-governance.

WHY PEEBEE?
The key is, it really does build true community engagement. That’s the real brass ring attraction to PeeBee: communities coming together to find, indicate and try to solve problems that professional staff experts don’t always really see as simple fixes. Some problems really are delicate, Byzantine and expensive procedures, no matter who is hired to handle it. There are huge liability issues for the city, and contractors know this well enough to know that their fees go up in scale when working for the City, whether they’re the best for the job or not. City Staffers are always on the lookout for these liability issues that can hamper a city-approved project, and it slows up the works immeasurably.

SOME HISTORY
When I think back to the first year of PBW2, I am inevitably reminded of the largely unrealistic ballpark figures and sparse feedback supplied by the City Staff. I don’t really blame them. They have their own timelines and workloads, and we hadn’t yet had the opportunity to show them that we would see this stuff through. Why would they open the doors wide to let us in to pull the levers and make things happen that weren’t part of their carefully crafted, vetted and approved timelines? Direct Democracy isn’t actually in any City Staffer or Councillor’s job description. Public Consultation, as defined by the City of Hamilton, is a fairly rigorous and time consuming top-down process that is largely handled in a set-and-forget style. Ideally, we’re asked what we want, and then the elves step in and do the real work, no muss, no fuss. This is the way Canadian politics is handled in general. We are conditioned not to look behind the curtain. And when we don’t get the desired result, we largely shrug and go home, chastened for having dared to imagine it would or could be different.

What we don’t understand, because it hasn’t been here that long, is that PeeBee changes all of that. It empowers the public in many ways. It asks for ideas, yes, but it also asks for innovation and a level of critical problem solving that most bureaucracies and politicians are not conditioned to expect. It’s messy. It’s noisy. and like Kenneth, it doesn’t respect or give a damn about established best practices, or the status quo. It demands change, and it demands it sooner rather than later. And interestingly, though we haven’t seen enough of it yet here in Hamilton, it’s a proven and effective means of solving problems and engaging citizens in countries around the world. This stuff works. But you have to let it work, or it costs everyone dearly.

YOU HAVE TO TAKE UP THE TAXES BEFORE YOU TAKE UP THE CARPET
The first hurdle is getting tax payers to trust one another. We tend to vote for politicians who woo us and give us the impression, right or wrong, that they are trustworthy and diligent, and can communicate with us to learn what our concerns are ahead of City Staff timelines. Many of these people are not really schooled or qualified in any meaningful way to help a governing body identify and solve problems, but we hire them–and they are hired by us, you need to remember–largely because they are one short step away from being just like us. The very real problem is, our politicians, like City Staff in general, work in a bubble that some of us activist types call City Culture, and if you’ve ever taken high school science, you’ll remember what happens to petrie dish cultures that are allowed to go too long without being cleaned out properly. It’s not a criticism; more of an observation of systems and their nature for incubating defects as well as assets.

Long story short: PeeBee circumvents a lot of that inculcated mess, giving regular folks a chance to speak directly to representatives and city staff on an almost daily basis, to clarify and resolve problems that cost everyone time and money if left unfixed. The many dominoes that get knocked over when someone stumbles across a seemingly minor problem, like, say, cracks in the sidewalk, are quite surprising: damaged shoes (meh), damaged mobility devices (not quite so meh), and personal injury (now we’re talking) lead to health outcomes that, in a society largely covered by universal health care, winds up costing taxpayers in ways they never imagined. The longer a problem persists, the more damage and cost to the tax base.

But, if you take a resident’s problem seriously enough to implement or invite a novel solution, you spend a bit of money now, but you save more down the road, particularly if you do it responsibly, with an eye to safety and especially to durability. Filling potholes with hot asphalt is a pretty inadequate solution to the problems the city is beset with now. The suggestions may not all be as useful, but by taking the suggestions and testing them, or eliminating them based on empirical evidence that proves it doesn’t work, we can all help to arrive at solutions that last, and that everyone will be satisfied with.

PANACEA?
PeeBee isn’t the only way this can get done, but it’s one of the most immediate and certainly most gratifying way that I know of to engage citizens and solve problems at the local level. Whether that translates to stronger, more responsible government is down to how well the City and the residents learn to get along with one another. Engaged residents can be your friend or your enemy, depending on how reasonable and responsive you are to their (sometimes seemingly irrational) demands.

It’s a handful of seemingly simple steps to get from problem spotted to problem solved, and not all problems can be solved the same way, or even with the same pot of money. There is no magic cure all for local level discord and civil unrest. But mutual respect and a willingness to work together in good faith can mend more than just fences.

WHAT CAN I DO?
If you are a resident of Hamilton, Ontario, expect to see a petition to be coming to you soon, to let Council know that you too would like to participate in a PeeBee (Participatory Budgeting) exercise. We’re planning to be at Art Crawl, and may even be doing some informal canvassing of the neighbourhoods, starting with Ward 2, where PBW2 is currently being retooled to better serve everyone’s needs.

Lee.

Posted in Hamilton, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, Politics, The New Hamilton | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Drums and Buyers

So I woke up this morning with a painting concept sorting itself out in my head. I’m just about to start trying to sketch it out, if I can. It’s been over an hour of sorting my desk out to make room for the sketchbook. This is what multidisciplinary Creatives go through, folks.

Anyway, I’m listening to UK, a classic prog rock band that reunited a year or two ago for a series of gigs I couldn’t afford to see, and whom, IIRC, are once again gone into retirement, not even having recorded a new studio album together. The headphones are on. The coffee is half-drunk (*hic*), I am under-medicated, and the sketchbook is in front of me.

BRUFORD vs STARR
Did I ever tell you about the time I was jamming with an amazing young guitarist who was a total proghead, and took umbrage at my suggestion that Bill Bruford was the Ringo Starr of the prog scene? He thought I was insulting Bill’s amazing drum skills. I thought he was insulting the importance of Ringo in the rock firmament, and to the Beatles catalogue specifically. Many people, even fifty years on, still slag off Ringo, utterly failing to understand how essential he was to the formula. Without him, rock wouldn’t be what it is. It’s not important that there were technically flashier drummers on the scene. It’s not important that he was a mediocre songwriter. It’s not important that he rarely ever took a solo during his Beatle days. What’s important is that he made those songs swing like nobody’s business. He was just restrained enough to serve the music he was playing, but still wildly inventive within that very tight framework, and he invented most of the drum beats that kids in pop and rock are still ripping off to this day.

So when Ari stormed out of my apartment in a huff, I felt only the slightest pang of regret that I’d lost a chance to get involved in a truly progressive unit. Only slightly. I can’t abide someone who can’t think outside of the tight little box they’ve squeezed themselves into. Is Bill Bruford a better drummer than Ringo Starr? Well, not at the moment, because Bill is retired and Ringo is still going strong. But technically and on record, Bill is still one of the most inventive jazz/prog drummers in rock history. But that’s not grounds to dump on Ringo, who helped create the metier that Bill excelled in: jazz-based pop drumming. Before that, is was jazz drumming or country drumming. There WAS no rock drumming before Ringo. Remember that, kiddies.

We won’t go into the importance of Keith Moon (whom Bruford didn’t care for) or Ginger Baker or Carmine Appice or Cozy Powell or Mitch Mitchell or John Bonham or Phil Collins or any of those others who came up through the 60s to emerge as rock gods or sink into drug-addled ignominy after the Beatles ended. That’s another story.

COLLECTIVE MADNESS
Okay, so in other news, I’m trying to put together a Creative Collective here in Hamilton, Ontario. It’s my answer to a lot of things, including:
– the retirement of the Tiger Group, the most steady and innovative arts collective in Hamilton’s history (there, I said it, so we can all relax now);
– the inexorable and ongoing gentrification of the James Street North Art Scene (I’m sorry, gang; that’s what we’re seeing, here. No matter how THEY try to paint it, the buildings are coming down or being bought out or both, and you’ll only understand what really happened when GAP and Starbucks arrive);
– ODSP is being outpaced by inflation on rent and groceries (I know how the world works, so this isn’t a surprise; it’s just demoralizing watching the fairly healthy sum of money they grant Dawn and I, which is invariably gone in the first or second week, leaving two to three months of scraping by; I don’t expect an easy ride, but it’s incredibly stressful wondering where your next meal is coming from)
– Artist friends of mine are all in need of a work space and more art sales;
– Hamilton’s property taxes and rental/leasing/ownership rates are skyrocketing, so if we don’t move now, we’ll probably never have another chance to get in while there is a scene to be part of.

The plan is to get an interesting mix of multimedia people together and start not only painting, but printing and designing and writing and producing stuff that gets us out of the creative ghetto. We have a pool of expertise that should enable us to at least plan any project we need, and we can probably reach out to a handful of other Creatives we know to help do the things we can’t, yet.

MY FRIEND TOTORO… ERR, I MEAN DAWN
One person I’m determined to get involved in the founding of this collective is my very dear friend, Dawn McKechnie. I was going to post my impressions of her CV to the group FB discussion, but decided to post it here instead, to minimize the embarrassment to her. It’s a bit gushy. Here’s what I wrote:
____________________

Okay, so I suspect my friend Dawn McKechnie is probably too busy to answer for herself right now. I won’t pretend to be her representative, as she can doubtless sell herself far better than I can, but I’m gonna give it a try, nonetheless (Dawn, I apologize if I get anything wrong):

Dawn and I were very close schoolmates back in Glen Brae and Glendale SS, in the east end of Hamilton. She was instrumental in getting me back into comics, and a lot of my school ambitions as a writer and artist were ignited because of her influence. After high school, I followed her to Sheridan, where she was making in-roads as a student in first and then second year Animation. I failed to get accepted to Animation, but then, I was pretty shaky as a cartoonist back then. I’m a little better now. Dawn, by comparison, is and has always been hands-down the best all-round cartoonist I know (and I know a few who are professional animators and cartoonists, now, thanks mainly to her; personally, I think she smokes them all).

Dawn also amazes me with her ability to build costumes (FYI: she’s a veritable and legendary fixture at nearly every cosplay/fandom convention scene you or I know of, and is heavily involved in the American haunted house, Castle Blood), illustrate Sci-Fi/Fantasy scenery, and mount and research projects and all of the other things I was always lousy at. Whenever I start trying to figure out how to do something I’ve never been very good at, I try to imagine what Dawn would say or do. I rarely give endorsements to anyone for any reason. Dawn is one of the very, very few exceptions. She may not be able to stay with us long, but I honestly believe that her expertise and capability is an immeasurable asset to any project, and even if I can only have her involvement for weeks or months, I’ll take it in a heartbeat.

So there you have it.
____________________

As you can tell, I think fairly highly of her, and have trouble imagining getting this ball rolling without her influence. So I’m determined to get her involved, in whatever way possible, while she is still available to me.

ALL THAT’S FIT TO PRINT
Thank you for reading. Have a good day.

Lee.

Posted in Art, Friends, Hamilton, Music, Video, Video Games, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women Are Not The Enemy

My quiet night of rest and recovery from illness has once again been interrupted by another disturbing story of undisguised male hatred towards women.

I’m gonna let that sit there for a moment and settle into your brains.

Sue Perkins is a brilliantly funny and beautiful British comedian. She’s also a lesbian, but that’s not relevant to this discussion, beleive it or not. What is relevant is that a bunch of idiots have started attacking her on social media for the simple crime of having been shortlisted by FANS (not by the producers) of the British man-cave program, Top Gear, as a replacement for Jeremy Clarkson, whose prima donna behaviour and violence towards his producers led to his rightful shit-canning last month. News Flash, kids: Sue Perkins is not up for the job. She doesn’t even want the fucking job. You monkeys lost your shit over a rumour. It’s the equivalent (if I may use a false equivalency here, and I think I can, because you assholes certainly have), of saying Harrison Ford can’t play Han Solo because he can’t walk through a door without getting injured. It’s an internet rumour. It’s bullshit. And you ass-monkeys ate it up.

But you and I know the truth. It’s not the rumour that upset you. It was the fact that, yet again, a woman was being given a semblance of equal status to a man. You dickless morons have been chomping at the bit for years, quietly choking down every perceived indignity, because you could never get the prom queen to give you a hand job; because you never got to third base with the girl next door; because your mother obviously weaned you off the tit too soon; and because of that angst and confusion, you have been secretly resenting and even hating women, all while telling yourselves that you love them, because after all, how can you hate someone you desperately want to fuck? Right?

I have written a couple of fairly polite blog articles on this subject before. It’s not my forte. I write to please myself and share my thoughts with my small but important (to me) readership. I don’t write to get up on my soapbox and excoriate myself from the drooling stupidity of what seems to be a growing army of otherwise intelligent, well-spoken, usually rational men who nevertheless cannot for the life of them see how ridiculous, foolish and dangerous they look clutching their dicks, pounding their chests, and flinging shit at every woman who passes by.

Feeling a little sensitive from being baselessly insulted by a member of your own gender? Conjuring up ad hominem arguments to the tune of ‘he swore at me, so he loses the right to debate me’? Or are you now looking through my About Page to find some dirt on me to prove that I’m not a ‘real man’, so you can go on deluding yourselves into thinking you are taking part in a civil rights movement for the poor, misunderstood, beset upon (and, let us not forget, privileged) patriarchy of old? Because, yeah, the patriarchy needs saving, boys. Round up the wagons and get the shotguns out.

You assholes. Are your feeble intellects so easily unsettled by the notions that women have human rights, and that their G-spots (which you have probably never found) are not your personal property?

Well, that’s too fucking bad. This shit has to stop.

For years now, I’ve been hearing how rape culture does or does not exist; how male privilege does or does not exist. How fight club does or does not exist. Well, here’s a clue, guys and gals: if it was in a hit movie with violence and testosterone, it might be fiction designed to mollify your savage egos. Otherwise, it might be documented fact that you are determined not to acknowledge, because none of your expert assholes have been bothered enough to do the actual fucking science and determine if it’s merely anecdotal, or if there is in fact a shred of truth to it.

And you know what? Until such a time as I see your expert assholes come forth with more than ad hominem attacks on people of the opposite gender (who happen to speak to and for other members of their gender, who agree with said spokespersons, and thus corroborate their claims, which in layman’s terms is called ‘establishing a fact’), I’m calling bullshit. That’s right. All the attack videos I’ve seen or deliberately skipped over because the first five seconds repeated the same tired bullshit in the hopes that somebody (anybody) would agree, are not scientific proof.

The same could probably have been said for any videos posted by women simply talking about their hypotheses about sexism and violence towards women in mass media, including video games.

But you know what? Your reaction and your continued misconduct have validated their hypothesis 1000%. You lost the whole fucking argument when you refused to actually listen to what they were saying and consider the possibility that they might actually have a fucking point. And in doing so, you proved it for them. Assholes.

I am a man. I am married to a woman from New York City who keeps me abreast of this debate, whether I want to know or not. So yeah, it is a bit like poking a sleeping bear. I have often stated I don’t consider myself a proper feminist, simply because I don’t think I have fairly represented women’s suffering and their needs accurately in my own work. I consider myself a friend to womankind, and I do wish to see their rights upheld and extended. By definition, that makes me a feminist. Because that’s all it takes, kids. A willingness to recognize that women have had a raw deal, and that despite the forward progress on the women’s rights front that we have seen in the last 100 or so years, nevertheless, women are still hounded, harassed, abused, raped, beaten, stabbed, burned and shot for expressing their simple and unequivocal right to be treated like a proper, first class human being.

All the clever arguments and obfuscation I have witnessed from men on this front, all the backpedalling and brow beating and smiley-faced aggression I have witnessed, shames me, and shames humanity, for it is nothing less than a sign that our brilliant civilisation, which our parents, grandparents, and the generations before them worked and fought and bled and died to build, is being eroded overnight and from within by a bunch of rabid, reactionary savages disguised as rational men, who dare to use words and images and the power of internet communication, things I hold to be sacred, in order to tear down the structures and institutions built to preserve the rights of our fellow human beings. Because those women you are demeaning and threatening or denying the right to due consideration of their views? They are human beings, the same as you. No better, no worse. They have a right to be heard.

I wish I could say I’ve been fair with you assholes. I can’t. I hear that snide tone creep into your discussions, and I have to leave the room before I vomit. I did not grow up through the 70s, 80s and 90s, three decades of progress and careful building up of relations between the sexes, only to sit and watch as you pathetic shitheads make a mockery of everything that demonstrates our right to live as we choose, to express our opinions freely, and to mold and create our environment to better serve our world. We are not stewards, we are not fellow citizens of the planet, and we are not part of the fabric of our world, because we can’t even have a civil discussion with over 51% of our own species to redress the balance of power and the abuses and injuries heaped upon them by centuries of male oppression, aggression, and willful ignorance.

I know some of you. I have called you friend. Shook your hands in friendship. Even hugged some of you. And you shame and embarrass me, and all of us, regardless of our gender, race, creed or culture. You were supposed to be better than this. You were supposed to be worthy of the sacrifices made by this world and its many creatures, of which we are only one. You are not. As a collective, you, and by you I mean WE… have failed utterly to manifest our right to continue here. This world… this reality… deserves better than to be continually damaged and demeaned by such savage and irrational bastards as us.

I have long maintained that I love humanity, even as I am disgusted with some of its more aggressive and nasty creatures. That love is being eroded by your every act, your every word, your every thought about what it will take to set humanity back on the path of self-righteous ignorance and sexual domination.

Check your privilege, boys, because you have an enemy now. And it’s not women.

It’s me.

Lee Edward McIlmoyle,
Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Posted in Feminism, One a Day | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Well My Mind Is Going Through Them Changes

CHEST MUCK PLAGUE 2015
Been sick with a chest cold for just over a week now. *sigh*

ART
So, I’ve been pretty focussed on artwork lately. For those of you NOT following my art page, it’s HERE.

MUSIC
I’ve also been working on music again. I recorded a tiny piece of music that had originally come from my buddy Gary Falkins quite a long time ago, and that I had gussied up a bit, also a very long time ago. You and listen to it here:

WRITING
But today, I think I’m going to focus on some writing. I haven’t published anything brand new in a few months, and it’s starting to get on my nerves (especially because nobody actually read the last two books I wrote). The current volume is another collection of short stories, which is only about a third done. I may take some of the more questionable stories out of the volume before I publish it, even though the focus of the book, if you can call it focus, is personal stories interspersed with fictional tales of taboo and transgression. I once had a slim volume of original erotica planned, and nearly got it done, but just haven’t had the nerve to put it out. The naughtier stuff in this volume may wind up in there as well. We’ll see.
[click to embiggen]
VFMD 2015 04 14a

I think that’s all of the Show & Tell I’ve got for today. Thank you for reading.

Lee.

Posted in Art, Books, Books of Limbo, Canadian Music, Eroticism, Etcetera Thesis Music, Health, Music, my wife, One a Day, Steep Inclinations, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Not Really News

I think it’s about time I said something about the lack of news on this and most other blogs I currently maintain. The thing that has been holding up any news at all has been my mental state, which has been a relatively dark and unfriendly place. If you were to look at my StumbleUpon page, you’d see that all I’ve really posted about in the last month or two has been art with a dash of local politics. I haven’t been able to write much, and I definitely haven’t been able to record much music.

PBW2
But the big news on the horizon is, I haven’t been able to plan much for PBW2, either. This is because I’m not involved in PBW2. The Councillor has other plans, which he has chosen not to share with me. I’d say something plucky like ‘fair enough’, or ‘we’ll see about that’, but to be honest, I no longer see the point. Jay’s gonna do what Jay’s gonna do, and it’s got nothing to do with me or PBHamOnt, such as it is.

Which begs the question, ‘Is it PB if the resident volunteers aren’t involved?’ Well, a number of people got involved in last year’s PBW2 experiment, even though they hadn’t been involved in the first year campaign. As well, a number of us old war horses barged our way into the process last year to prop it up and give it wings (whether we were truly needed or not is another question). So the short answer is ‘No’. Some of our superstars of 2013 dropped out completely because they were alienated by the 2014 process (through no fault of Karen or nathalie, who tried hard to engage us, when they could). Some of us were determined to keep the ship afloat, come what may.

Me? I was an idiot. I thought I was helping to usher in some new age of democratic process to Hamilton. Helping to give average Hamiltonians a say in how their tax money was spent, and how their lives are governed. Of course I was wrong.

And this year’s PBW2 process is almost certainly going to involve more division, more top down control, and far, far less real, meaningful resident and volunteer participation. There will probably be no cross-ward buy-in projects. There will almost certainly be no real continuity with the past two years. There will be no social programs. There probably won’t be much in the way of events (sorry, Chewie). There will be probably no real consensus building exercises. There will almost certainly be no volunteers from the last two years, unless a few decide to step up to the plate and handle whatever neighbourhood level PB process is devised. I encourage them to do so.

And there will be no me. Boo fucking hoo.

ADIOS
I’m done, folks. I didn’t sign up to have my ego stroked, by friends, family, volunteers, or politicians. But I also didn’t sign up to be ignored, either. I’ve been polite. Too polite. I said nothing when I was ASKED not to say anything. The silence has been deafening. So you win again, Jay. You conned me, and I let you do it. That was my mistake. Good show. You’ve really grown into that chair you occupy on Council. Good luck with your oversized condo developments, your infill problems, your growing lack of affordable housing, and your ‘participatory’ budget process. I’m out.

I feel a rant coming on. I have no desire to rant. So I’m gonna go work on a painting or two and forget all about civic engagement and politics and Jason Farr and PBW2, and focus on getting my life back. My career is in the toilet over this bullshit, and for what? There are still PBW2_2013 proposals that haven’t broken ground. Again, that’s probably my fault. Hopefully Dave Stephens will continue to implement those until the backlog of proposals are complete. I believe I’d just be getting in his way, so I’m stepping off that portfolio as well.

2013 Proposal Update Spreadsheet:
2013 Proposal Update

APOLOGIES
To Norman, Karen, Rebecca, Mike, Peggy, Dave, Chewie, Sunil, the entire PB Office/Staff/Mangoes, the NAs, and my wife, I apologize. Obviously I’m not up to the job. Best we get someone else in here who’s more capable of calling bullshit when they see it. I saw it, plain as day, and I still let all of this shit happen. I’m just too fucking nice for this gig. For that, I’m sorry.

I’ll make a much more polite announcement on the PBHamOnt blog in a bit. Mike, Rebecca, I’ll hand over the keys to whomever wants them. Except you, Jay. You clearly don’t need my help, so you won’t get any.

Thank you for reading. Regular posting resumes shortly.

Lee.

Posted in One a Day, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, Politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment