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

Abstract Art on Panorama

I’d do a big show and tell piece about this, but all of these pieces are for sale, and I’d very much like to have a chat with any gallery owner or curator who might be interested in putting on a show some time int he next 12 months. Currently priced at insanely reasonable rates, I’d like to kick it up a notch and perhaps make some money for a pleasing change.

Abstract-Panorama-01sml

I can be reached via email, comment, or possibly phone, though I’d appreciate an email instead, as I’m ignoring long distance calls at present.

lee@clearvisionstudios.net

Lee

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Getting Artsy

Inspiration-sml

The Deeper Crimson King

Good night.

Lee.

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So Let’s Go and Drink To the Death of a Clown

Okay, I’m experiencing some difficulty due to a chest cold that has morphed into a touch of pneumonia. This is not a sympathy plea. Just keeping you updated. I have horse pills for it. Week’s worth. Fun, wow.

PB
Big PB meeting at City Hall tonight. I need a shower and shave.

THE APPROXIMATE DISTANCE TO LIMBO
Reading through RETURN TRIP (act two of TAD2L). It needs tweaking here and there, and there is something still missing from the stories I have so far. Not enough through line, and possibly not enough hints about Richard’s progression. There’s a whole piece there that needs to make itself apparent by the time the final chapter plays out, and I’m not sure I’ve got a handle on that. It’ll come, but I really hoped it would come before now, so I could release the book at the end of the month. Might have to revise my release date yet again. Sorry about that.

STINZINE
I have a cartoon on the drawing table that needs inking and colouring. Need it and one more article. This would all be done if I hadn’t gotten sick and missed my deadline to interview Maggie as planned. Now Maggie is too busy, and I am waiting for Katherine to get an interview from another neighbourhood personage. I can’t do anything to speed that up, but I may have to fill the space and let her interview be moved to February. We’re running out of time.

THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE
I haven’t named the new series of paintings I am contemplating, though I vaguely recall suggesting I had an idea about that last week. All I know is it’s about conveying form and narrative using raw colour. Not sure how I’ll do it. My first attempt was a fail, and I gessoed over the mess. Still haven’t started my second attempt. Soon.

THE ART OF ASKING
Amanda Palmer’s first book has been out for a week. I still don’t own a copy, but I will. You should, too. Go get it.

PADAWAN
My guitar student is going to be getting his own guitar for Christmas. I am hoping he will practice enough to get comfortable with playing on his own, without me guiding him every step of the way. I like teaching and what it’s done for my own playing and practice schedule, but I do want to put myself out of a job, eventually. I tend to think self-education is the best method of learning to play and write music. I can’t really impart a conservatory-type education, but I can at least get my student ready for whatever other teachers he may or may not interact with in the future. I very much want him to keep playing and progressing, and I’m not so sure how much I can show him before I’ll be holding him back with my own limitations as a player.

When he DOES eventually leave my tutelage, I think I may take on other students, though. Teaching is good for discipline. The money is kind of negligible, but the effort to improve enough to keep ahead of your student is invaluable.

ALL THE OTHER STUFF
Soon. Ask if you’re wondering about something specific. I’ll update as I can.

Thanks for reading.

Lee.

Posted in Books of Limbo, Ebooks, Editing, Hamilton, Health, Music, One a Day, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, StinZine, The Art of Asking, The New Hamilton, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Some Are Born To Run, Some Are Born To Fly

So, it’s after 4 AM, and I’m sitting up early (been up since 3) listening to very old Yes demos for an album that never happened, wondering if there isn’t a way I can patch it together into a demo album and suggest to them that they should really revisit them and make a proper album out of the lot. I mean, it’s all material from that late 70s period where they more or less petered out until Jon and Rick abandoned ship and left Steve, Chris and Alan to salvage and reconstitute with the Buggles. Personally, I think the material as it has been released on various compilations and extended reissues is basically stillborn, but I do wonder if a little creative dissection and recombination wouldn’t make a handful of really good songs or even epic compositions. They’d probably run screaming from the concept, but there are some nice moments in the pile, except that they really do need tweaking and re-recording, because many of the performances are tired and fumbling, particularly in the vocal department.

I should be writing fiction. I have more or less abandoned the new book idea (THE CONSTANT SEA OF NIGHT) for the time being, because I just don’t think I can generate enough righteous indignation to defend my right to write it when I have so much other incomplete material waiting in the wings. Perhaps in a few months, after I get THE APPROXIMATE DISTANCE TO LIMBO out the door. So much to write, and there never seems to be time for any of it anymore. Perhaps if I had found time to work on PAsSAGE TO BUJAH, I wouldn’t be writing this paragraph.

Cats seem to have settled down. I might go back to bed shortly. Or maybe, I’ll just play with these songs a bit more and see if there isn’t a better sequence for them.

So many other projects waiting for me to make time for them. Soon… oh soon, the light.

Lee.

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Here Is Here – an excerpt from Return Trip (TAD2L Act 2)

NOTE: Before we start, I just want to say that I based this story very, VERY loosely on biographical information about two great songwriters who used to work together in a band most folks have heard of. I took great liberties in telling this story, which, though based in part on their storied history together, is not in any way actually based on the gentlemen in question (both of whom are still alive as of this writing). So please, take this story in the spirit it is intended; a story of redemption for an aging rocker. In no uncertain terms must you regard this in any way as factual.

Thank you. Now, on with the show (and oh Lord, please Lord, don’t let the curtain fall).

 

Chapter 31: Here Is Here

Roger Bergeron sat quietly, eyes closed, arms resting on the arms of his authentic Le Corbusier black leather club chair.

On the antique end table beside it sat a tumbler full of very expensive forty-three year old single malt scotch. Less than seven hundred and fifty bottles of it were made. He’d bought it on a dare from his old song writing partner, Rik Baker, the day they dissolved their partnership. The deal was, if he ever changed his mind about things, he’d crack open this bottle of scotch and invite Rik over to have a drink, and they’d talk it over and see if there were enough good feelings left to have a reunion.

The funny thing was, the scotch was bottled in 1964, but he didn’t really think of it that way. ‘64 was the year he’d ‘turned pro’, heading off to London with his first band, The Highlights, featuring Rik on a Vox Continental and him on his first Rickenbacker 360; the one that got stolen after the Birmingham show in ‘72. They wrote hundreds of tunes together in hotels, bars and buses, on stage, back stage, in the loo, and in girls’ bedrooms between shags.

They’d written a song together on a piece of paper spread across the bare arse of a bird in Ohio who insisted she was eighteen, but turned out to be a few years shy of the mark when the sheriff came around looking for her the next morning. The song had never been a big hit, but he still played it whenever he was in Ohio, just in case she was in the audience, wondering if he remembered her. He didn’t, really. He just remembered she’d been very sweet and very pretty, and had a very round bottom for her age. He’d have forgotten her name entirely if they hadn’t titled it “Megan”. He was pretty sure that had been her name, anyway.

Rik had been his partner through a lot of shit: three bands, twenty-seven albums, two marriages apiece, and one comeback in the 90s.

But Roger had never really forgiven him for sleeping with Tess. He didn’t know why it had mattered so much to him, then or now. They’d shared more women than he’d had years with Tess, and she had already been looking for an excuse to leave by then. She’d never really forgiven him after the death of their son, Jason, when he served in Iraq. She was convinced their son wouldn’t have joined and died if Roger had stayed home with them more often when he was a boy. Roger had told her repeatedly that it was bullshit, even as she walked out the door. But in his heart of hearts, he didn’t know if she had been wrong or right.

Jay would have been forty-three years old today. Maybe that was what had Roger in such a foul mood. No friends. No wife. No family. No partner. No band.

No plans.

No music.

No future.

Bone dry.

He’d been on the wagon for a handful of years now, which had been part of what drove him and Rik apart. Rik was a heavy drinker, and liked to take a swing at you if you pissed him off after a few whiskeys. Fun guy, but a mean drunk.

Or was that himself he was thinking of?

He sipped the scotch. Strong, but smooth and dry, the way most single malts over fifteen tasted, but with a hint of vanilla. He realized he probably would never taste a scotch like this again. He hadn’t actually thought he would open the bottle. Never thought he’d taste it. He hadn’t really bought it for drinking. He’d thought there was still time.

On the finely polished arts and crafts table a couple short feet in front of him sat the remains of an open letter. Who sends letters anymore? Government offices, barristers, and old men like him. And Rik.

In this case, it was a letter from Rik, sent by his daughter, Aislynn. Cancer. Of course it was cancer. It was always fucking cancer these days. In this day, when people were still terrified of ebola and HIV and Lupus, old has-been rock stars like him always died of some form of cancer. Well, at least, that’s what the prognosis was. Rik had decided not to wait. Aislynn had added a note that he’d ended up drinking an obscene amount of that damned sambuca and getting up on his grand piano and dancing on it until he had a heart attack and fell off and cracked his skull open and broke his fool neck on those fucking hardwood floors he’d been so fussy about all those years ago.

So. No reunion, then. Roger hadn’t been thinking of one, actually. But with one thing and another, it might have been the thing to save him. He had sunken pretty deep into mortgage and credit debt, in recent years, financing his last three albums. They had been great albums. Sadly, they weren’t what kids bought anymore. His loyal audiences had continued to buy his albums pretty faithfully, but they were of course getting old and dying off, and fewer and fewer of those lovely young women with the nice round bottoms and the impossibly gravity-defying breasts, or even their spotty boyfriends, came to the shows or bought the albums any more.

People didn’t care about living rock stars any more. They revered the dead ones. They poured over their wikipedia pages, longer than an encyclopedia or magazine article, with twice as many misquotes and false attributions, but somehow more true, more real than the living, breathing artist themselves.

He didn’t receive emails from fans very often any more. He maintained a rather slow chat forum to discuss old albums. He had a Twitter account. His publicist also encouraged him to do things like Facebook and Instagram, but he didn’t enjoy shooting pictures of his flaccid prick for internet consumption, and since nothing else happened around here but him wanking to tastefully directed lesbian pornography, there really wasn’t anything else to post about.

He hadn’t had a hit song in so long, he’d almost completely forgotten what it felt like. The rush of vindication. The certainty that you could do it again and again, building the signal between yourself and your audience until nothing could be heard but pure signal.

He took the iPhone out of his pocket and opened the Twitter app. Apps. There was an app for almost anything. There was even an app for searching the internet for suicide instructions, as it turned out. Who would have thought?

The instruction on how to buy, maintain and operate a military issue war-era rifle were pretty straightforward. He hadn’t actually needed to go out and buy one, or even order one. Fortunately, this was England, where heroes from the World Wars had brought home trophies from the war. The trick for him had been figuring out how to get the gun rehabilitated without tipping off the authorities, who took a dim view of firearms in Great Britain.

He hadn’t thought, when he started repairing the gun using internet videos, that he would eventually actually find a use for the thing. It had been his father’s, along with his old trunks and boots and memoirs from the war. As it so happened, he had also squirreled away a few firearms and a lovely Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 4 Mk. 1. Some of them were still in service, so finding parts hadn’t been terribly difficult, even for an amateur like himself.

If you’d asked him at the time, he probably simply would have said he was trying to commune with his late father, who had never really understood his obsession with music or his unwillingness to enter the military, as had been his family’s tradition for generations. It had been the first time in decades that men had not been required to report for National Service, and he had joined his first serious band, and wasn’t about to give up his dream of being the next George Harrison, the next Eric Clapton, the next Jimi Hendrix.

It had been 1969. He was going to be a great. By the late 60s, it was all starting to come together for him. The new band was called The Liquid Light Brigade, and they were incredible. He and Rik auditioned the band, and they started writing great songs together, and were set to be the next Cream, the next Led Zeppelin, the next
well, next, anyway.

And then the band fragmented. The manager had been a crook, and the band split right down the middle, with the drummer, singer and bassist leaving to form their own band under his management, and leaving him and Rik holding the bag, and carrying the debts as well. They folded the band and started over with a new drummer and bassist, taking turns handling the vocals themselves, which worked out better, since they were the songwriters.

That band had been called Balance, and they became everything the old band hadn’t been, including famous. The 70s was one long party. He’d almost forgotten how many songs they’d actually written, both together and apart. It must have been… seventy? Ninety? No! They’d recorded three albums in two years in 70 and 71 alone! Another album a year for the next eight years, including the double album in ’74.

And then the 80s. They’d almost fucking had it in the 80s, but they pulled out of it. Took a mountain of cocaine and no small amount of help from incoming and outgoing band members, but they’d made it out relatively unscathed.

But by the 90s, the jig was up. He and Rik had been fighting like rabid dogs at that point, and neither could agree anymore who had written what, and the lawyers were brought in and they quietly stopped working and dug into their separate camps. Took fifteen years of fucking lawyers and the heroin death of Peter Emmond, the bassist/vocalist who really brought them back to life in the late 70s while punk was laying their colleagues to waste, to make them see they were being assholes. But by then, it was too late. The damage done. Neither was writing in his weight class any more. The wives were gone. The children grown up. The lawyers were gone. But they just couldn’t stand to look at each other any more. So they bought the bottle, shook hands, and said goodbye.

Roger took the iPhone, looked at his twitter feed, and typed out “Going to see an old friend about a bottle of whisky he left behind. #RikBaker #WhiteBowmore” and hit enter.
He set the iPhone down on the end table beside him, picked up the glass of scotch, fired back the whole two fingers, nearly choked on the heat, squinted and slowly breathed in, and then reached to the left and got a firm grip on the Enfield rifle. He brought it around to rest between his legs, and was just about to lean forward when the familiar ping of a return tweet.

He decided to ignore it, but in a few more seconds, another ping came, and then another. That probably constituted the most tweets he’d had in weeks, so he figured he’d take one last look, just for the fuck of it.

“HippySteveDavies @BalanceRog Please, if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, stop.”

“HippySteveDavies @BalanceRog Are you still there? Please answer. My daughter needs your help.”

“HippySteveDavies @BalanceRog Please.”

Roger squinted. Frowned. Snarled for a moment. Fucking asshole thought he understood? Thought using his daughter was going to change his mind? He’d show the wanker a thing or two about playing with people’s emotions.

“BalanceRog @HippySteveDavies What’s the problem? If your daughter needs me, why doesn’t she…” he thought of writing something rude. But he decided it might be taking things too far, especially if… oh god, don’t let it be some sick kid. Fuck. He started rewriting the tweet.

“BalanceRog @HippySteveDavies How can I help?”

“HippySteveDavies @BalanceRog May I call you?”

Roger considered, and then figured, what the fuck difference did it make, if he got one last phone call before he offed himself? Fuck it.

“BalanceRog @HippySteveDavies Will DM you the number.”

“HippySteveDavies @BalanceRog No need. I have your mobile number. Meant to call before. My Jamie is very ill.”

Fuck, he thought. Sick kid. Probably his biggest fan. Old guy probably turned her on to his music a couple of years ago, and now it was all she was living for.

The problem for Roger was, he couldn’t stand to think of little kids suffering.

“BalanceRog @HippySteveDavies I’m waiting.”

Several agonizing seconds later, his mobile started vibrating. He thought about ignoring it, but visions of sick children danced in his head.

“Hullo?”

“Roger? This is Steve. Can we talk?”

“Sure. What can I help you with?”

“It’s my daughter. She needs your help.”

“What can I do for your daughter? I’m not precisely known for my healing powers.”

“No, it’s not like that. Not quite, anyway. See, my daughter Jamie is very ill, as I said, but I meant she’s not well in the head. She’s in the hospital right now. She tried to kill herself when she learned that Rik had died.”

Well, fuckadoodle. What could he say to that?

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Roger offered lamely. “I hope she’s alright now.”

“Well, she pulled through, but they have her under observation. The thing is, I saw her yesterday, and she told me to keep an eye on you. She told me about the bottle. She told me about the rifle. She told me things I couldn’t believe. And then I saw your tweet, and I realized she was right. It is true, isn’t it?”

Roger thought about lying, but realized he was in the wrong frame of mind for playing nice.

“The scotch is sitting beside me. The rifle is in front of me. I got the letter from Rik’s daughter. It’s been so long since I’ve seen either of them… she must be… going on twenty, I suppose.”

“Like my girl,“ Steve replied. “Jamie’s nineteen. She’s intelligent, sensitive. Beautiful. She’s talented. She plays cello like you wouldn’t believe. She’s a virtuoso. I guess I didn’t realize she was also suicidal until we had to take her to the hospital.”

Roger was confused, and starting to get upset.

“Please pardon my frankness, Steve, but what does your gifted daughter’s suicide attempt over Rik’s death have to do with me? She does know we haven’t exactly been close these past couple decades, right?”

“Oh, I get that. We used to tease each other about how much she revered you. And when Rik died and this happened, I thought I’d been wrong about her feelings for you all along. But when I saw her in the hospital, she seemed glad that she had failed, and that nothing bad had happened to you. It gave her the strength to pull through. She explained that she didn’t want to live to see that you’d killed yourself over this. I don’t want to sound ridiculous, and I know how it must sound, but my little girl seems to have fallen in love with you.”

“That’s… ridiculous. She doesn’t know me. She has no idea what kind of a man I am.”

“What? The girls? The wives? She knows all about that stuff. She has every book ever written about you guys. She knows your life stories verbatim.”

“Jamie Davies? Why have I never even heard of her?”

“No no, not Davies. She took her mother’s name, after Lena died. Jamie’s last name is De Witt.”

Roger thought hard for a few seconds.

“Wait! I do know that name! She’s a forumite. She’s a singer… wait, I have her EP here somewhere. I remember, she’s quite good. I even started a Soundcloud account for her. Wait, she’s got my email. We’ve talked. Why didn’t she just contact me herself?”

“I… it’s tricky being a father… knowing when to let go and trust the world with your child… She thinks… well, I know she loves you. I don’t think she believes you can love her the way she loves you.”

“That’s probably true,” Roger confessed. “I like her a lot, but I don’t really know her that well. She’s very sweet and quite gifted, as well, but I’m too old to fall in love with young girls, especially over the internet.”

“I think we both know that. But what I think is, she might pull through… you know, get her head together, if you’d come see her. Talk to her. Explain what’s been going on. Not to lie to her or anything. Just to reassure her that you’re not going to, you know, die.”

“Well, we all have to go sometime,” Roger sighed.

“True, but we don’t all have the luxury of sitting at home with a bottle of whisky and a gun.”

“Is that really fair, Steve?”

“No, it’s probably not, but I have my daughter to think about. Maybe you need someone to think about, too. Some of us have other people to live for. Do you have children?”

“I had a son, once. I might have others, but no one’s come forward… I’m not really father material. There really isn’t anybody like that in my life, Steve.”

“Let Jamie be a reason to live. I’m ready to share her with you, if you think you can do that.”

“I don’t…” Roger started to say, but Steve cut him off.

“Come see her. It would mean the world to her, and maybe you and I can sit and have a few drinks and talk about life and loves lost and see if we don’t have more in common than you might think. I don’t have any expensive scotch. Best I can do is a fifteen year old bottle of the Glen Livet, but I’m willing to crack it open if you’d care to join me.”

Roger sat quietly, trying to marshall his thoughts. He felt strange. Not quite maudlin. He felt… wet. He was crying. What the fuck? Why was he crying?

“Roger?” the iphone asked. “Are you still there?”

He put it back to his ear and said, “Yeah yeah. Still here. Listen, Steve, don’t worry about the scotch. I’ve got a pretty good bottle right here I can bring over for the occasion. What say you give me directions and we’ll go see how Jamie is doing?”

© 2014 Lee Edward McIlmoyle

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

What’s Going On

Haven’t been posting much in the past few days. Sorry about that.

ZINEY GOODNESS
I’ve been working on the latest issue of StinZine (issue #005, for those keeping score). It’s almost done. I’ll be showing off the full thing in a few weeks, but until then, here are some teasers from previous stages:

Dawn’s Preliminary Sketch for the Cover:
IMG_0016

My Preliminary Logo Design for Dawn’s cover:
IMG_0017

The Production Teasers:
VFMD-2014-11-06a
VFMD-2014-11-06b
VFMD-2014-11-09a

NANO NO-NO
Been trying to figure out what I’m able to spend time working on right now. I started a novel, but it’s stillborn, and I need to do a serious rewrite if I want to revive it. Problem is, Dawn isn’t crazy about me doing a NaNoWriMo novel to achieve this. She knows she doesn’t need to ask permission to do anything she wants to do, but she doesn’t like NaNoWriMo, and she doesn’t like being neglected while I write novels. She also worries about my mental state during activities like these. I worry about hers, too, but more when she’s NOT working than when she is. I guess it’s different when you’re Bipolar. It’s frustrating, but there doesn’t seem to be an answer for it. Either I put up and shut up, or risk losing the only person who really loves me. Life.

So, Balla Khee may have to wait until I can prove I’m not insane, so I can get clearance to write her story.

Meanwhile, I’m also attempting two new large(r) scale canvas paintings, and if those go well, I will do another short series of small-to-medium pieces on canvas board, and then maybe buy a properly large canvas or panel (something like 30″x60″ or thereabouts; maybe a full five feet square) and do something monumental. What I really want to do is lay down or surround myself with a series of four square panels, or eight 2:1 rectangular panels, throw LOTS of paint, and assemble the results together on one large wall, like a sort of fold-out macro canvas. I can’t tell you how strong that urge is. I feel like that idea is going to be one of the big ones.

I also still have the plan to do a Choose Your Own Layers series, by painting a series of layers on plastic sheets and scanning them for a digital presentation, but also just assembling the results ins oem fashion so that folks who want to experience the kind of thing I do when I make this stuff can flip and rearrange layers and maybe even sections of layers to assemble their own painting. I really want to do the digital version, like an app for a travelling interactive museum, but I don’t think it will be seen as real art (yet) unless I have physical versions in large scale for people to mess with and put on their walls.

Oooooh… there’s an idea… paint strip-sized canvases or strip panels (something like 1’x8′) and let people assemble their own wall/hall-length collages, either continuously or in sections, like fake French windows.

I’ve just been wondering if it’s possible for me to develop a set of impasto techniques that doesn’t require a splatter box, and to be honest, I’m starting to think I can’t do it without paint flinging at some stage, so I’m trying to work out the logistics of building a new splatter box as a sort of plastic tent in the corner of the apartment for a few days. Dawn will probably flip, but I really don’t see another way to do it properly without anointing the entire apartment in rainbow-coloured cumshot.

I may just lay down some unstretched canvas I still have, or stretch it over my old printer’s screen frame (currently in storage), and do some good old fashioned drip painting. It’s not as sexy as hurling paint at upright canvases and boards, but then, the last series was also painted with the canvases and panels laying down… just inside a box, where I could throw paint safely. I’d simply go out and buy another box set-up like the last one, but I need a bigger box for the larger canvases and panels I have in mind.

The last series was all about reinventing space. This series will be more about reinventing form. Again, abstract, but different from the previous series, which impressed a fair number of people, but not enough to buy. I’ve been looking at other, slightly more successful abstract artists around these parts, and while I don’t want to steal their gig, it occurs to me that my works are pretty intense and oppressive, and if I start working in larger sizes, that might magnify, rather than diffuse, if I keep laying it on in the fashion I have been.

So there you have it. Stuff is still happening. Not as much as I’d like, but we’re getting there.

Oh, great. The kitten just knocked the water bowl off the shelf onto Dawn’s keyboard and mouse. If they don’t dry out shortly, I can see what my day is going to consist of. *sigh* Ah well. Anyway, Here’s the current setup:
IMG_0018
IMG_0019
IMG_0020
IMG_0021
IMG_0023

And finally, here’s where the painting is today:
IMG_0024
Yes, I’m starting over. *sigh*

Time to get back to work. Thanks for reading.

Lee.

Posted in Art, my wife, One a Day, StinZine, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Before My Eyes

Been sick as a dog. Still not over it, but there’s work to do. Here’s what I’ve spent the last day or so working on:
VFMD-2014-11-06a

Yup, it’s the latest StinZine, for which I’m handling the layout duties again. This one doesn’t have any new drawings from me, although it has a great cover illustration from my lovely wife, artist Dawn DSKI McIlmoyle. I recycled a couple of older cartoon drawings from previous Zoe Christmas cards. I’m under orders not to draw a new Zoe cartoon. I WAS going to draw a staff cartoon (in tacky Christmas sweaters), but I’ve been too ill to do any serious caricature work, which takes a little out of me. I also owe an interview with Maggie, who is a fascinating woman, so not exactly a hardship, but time and opportunity have been scarce. Plus, #ChestMuckPlague2014, y’know?

The new novel is SO not getting written at the moment. I’m falling way behind, and the fact is, I’m not so sure I’ll be catching up, because the StinZine needs doing first, and I’ve got other dramas to manage, too, including but not exclusively the delays in paying the rent and bills, owing to a very opportunistic parasite organism called Total Credit Recovery, which dipped into our joint bank account and scooped out our rent payment for the old VISA debt.

PBW2 NEWS
My so-called foray into local politics has been less than visible of late. I’m not sure what’s on the horizon for PBW2, as Councillor Jason Farr has been a bit of a blur since about a few weeks before his (successful) reelection campaign. Now, I don’t expect actually expect or demand updates from Jay, but I can’t tell the PB faithful what sort of PB we’re going to have in the new year, and the gang and I have determined that we need to get the new programme up and running ASAP if we want PBW2_2015 to run smoother and be more successful than PBW2_2014 ended up being. We lost approximately 50% of our participation, and I chalk that all up to visibility. PBW2_2013 was a success in part because it was amazingly high profile for a pilot project, thanks in no small part to the persistence and hard work of Norman Kearney. This year, we hired two wonderful ladies to fill his shoes, but I think even Karen and Nathalie would privately agree that 2014 was a lot bumpier than it needed to be. I knew from the start that it would be an uphill battle to recover the momentum, goodwill and support of the ward after the incidental press dramas of 2013. That was my biggest goal for 2014: find a friendly new face for PB to rekindle the flame with. Sadly, it’s a slow burner, it seems, so more work needs to be done, and time is of the essence.

The biggest problem for me right now, aside from #ChestMuckPlague2014, is that there is no practical network connecting all of the various PB volunteers, so I can tap into it and keep everyone up to date and on point. I suppose that is sort of my job, but that also requires City (aka Adam Watson/Al Dore/Ryan Leverton)’s cooperation, and as well, the good will of the PB faithful. Many of the people currently involved in getting the PBW2_2013 proposals breaking ground haven’t even met me, so they don’t know me from Cap’n Ahab, and with this chest cold, I haven’t exactly been able to make house calls. Dave Stephens has been more hands on than I have, and he has only been able to update me infrequently at best.

SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL
So, I managed to inadvertently alienate someone I had up until recently considered a friend, because her working relationship with another friend had turned sour, and she believed that I had sided with him in the matter. The truth is, I did like his project plan a bit better than hers, but it really wasn’t a matter of choosing the better project; J’s plan was on paper (I never saw M’s plan) and had been explained to me in much greater detail, so I understood it and could see how it could be done.

As well, most of the information I had received was of a project that was proceeding as agreed upon by the two proponents… until it stopped working, for whatever reasons. However, as complimentary/competing artistic visions go, I wasn’t actually that interested/invested, which I now see was a mistake. I should have taken a more proactive hand in things much, much sooner to make sure M’s vision was maintained and realized as best as possible, before the confusion and hurt feelings crept in and the working relationship broke down. If the team had reached to to me sooner, I might have seen it coming in time, but as it was, no one thought to involve me until it started breaking down.

I really just wanted to help the two parties get their project done before the frost came. I also didn’t want to believe M would jettison all of the progress they’d made if she didn’t feel she was realizing her (changing?) artistic vision. So, when things did break down, and getting them to work together proved unlikely, I stepped in to help effect the separation, so they could both get back to work and contribute the most good to PB before the year was out.

Sadly, it hasn’t turned out as well as I’d hoped, as neither seems to be getting anything done at present. J’s contribution to the Cultural Garden project at Bayfront met with similar artistic frisson with their designer, who it seems wanted more solid black granite than J could provide, so he has moved on, taking his granite with him (again). Meanwhile, M’s garden is looking pretty rough, as it hasn’t progressed significantly in weeks.

As communications, such as they were, have completely broken down between M and I, I now have no idea when she will recommence work, although it seems fairly obvious that work can’t continue until spring, because it’s probably going to start snowing any day now. All I know for certain is, more help is needed on the Shamrock Park Spiral Garden site, and I genuinely hope M gets the help she needs. I believe the City should be pitching in with that, and Dave is looking into getting more funding so M’s plan can be more fully developed and properly implemented, most probably in the new year.

I HAVE A LITTLE LIST
My list of PBW2_2013 updates is almost complete. I’m just waiting for a little more information, which I may have to go hound a few people for, if I can just stay focussed long enough to write a few emails, amidst the chaos that is my life right now. Then I’ll send it out to Jay and the PB faithful, and start promoting the successes and solving the problems with the proposals in progress.

Anyway, that’s pretty much all I’ve got right now. I’m gonna start work on a couple of new abstract paintings sometime in the next week or so. I’ll try to document their creation as best I can.

Time to put some thought into making breakfast and getting dressed. Thanks for reading.

Lee.

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

Broken Bowls and Barely Beginnings

I was woken up in the early hours of morning (approximately 3 AM) to a noise that turned out to be the crashing of a collection of Emily Carr painting prints in a wooden case AND an entire bowl of mini chocolate bars in a white ceramic bowl to the floor. The bowl, as the title implies, is now broken, so I was on my knees in the early hours of morning picking up the shards of white glass out of the cheap shag carpet, before Dawn or I eviscerated ourselves.

Mischief managed, I made some Neo Citran for cold and flu, and sipped away while I contemplated the incomplete plot synopsis of my latest project, which, as forewarned, is entirely unrelated to Richard Burley, and is only theoretically related to one of my other play sets, the world of Link: Constellation and Dreamtropolis Fallen. It’s going to be a novel called The Constant Sea of Night. You can see the barest beginnings of it over HERE. I still haven’t actually started writing it, let alone plotted it sufficiently, but I devised a simplified book cover mock up, which is really just a placeholder until I do the real cover, which may happen some time in December or January, when I have more time. Here’s the placeholder cover:
The-Constant-Sea-of-Night-001

I am still sick as a dog, and I still have StinZine stuff to do, but I am going to work in about 3000 words a day if I can, to complete the novel by the end fo the month, thus meeting the NaNoWriMo requirements, AND having a completed first draft to play with as the snow falls in… well, apparently it snowed a tiny bit last night when I wasn’t looking, but I kinda suspected it was, because aside from the usual rude biological functions I was contending with, I was also bone-rattlingly cold. The windows are now closed, so I am beginning to feel a wee bit more human, but I assure you, it has gone from about two weeks of autumn to the first days of winter, just as the prognosticators forewarned, myself among them.

So I gave Dawn the thumbs up to order her new coat, on sale for about $140 USD. After customs fees but also after a discount coupon she dug up, it actually came to something more like $130 CAD, so good stuff for us. She has completed a commission for a book cover she hopes to get paid for shortly, so that should cover that.

As I said earlier, and repeat often, like a mantra or a chant for the dead, I am sick. Today it’s runny nose and body aches, as well as the usual chest congestion and sore throat (most likely from the constant flow of mucus and phlegm). At least it hasn’t backed up into my ears the way it does for poor Dawn, who is also struggling with illness.

I have purchased two somewhat large blank canvases. 24″x30″ each. I have a plan that involves painting them together in various configurations, with these implements called brushes and knives, which I am told traditional (re: REAL) artists use instead of their hands, which are my preferred implements of paint distribution, at least when I am doing abstracts. So yes, two more abstracts, and these ones will be on a slightly larger scale than that last series. As they WILL be painted together, the net result will be a two-panel piece of either 48″x30″ or 60″x24″, depending on what the customer eventually decides is the most pleasing arrangement.

I’m moving into another phase where I want my work to be more interactive. Interactive abstraction isn’t a school yet, but I’ve been dabbling with it since 1992, and I aim to make it happen again, probably in 2015, when I hope to purchase some materials to make it possible for the viewer to safely rearrange the layers of each painting to the variation/configuration they like best. Those pieces are going to be my next abstract series, which I will probably generate fifteen to twenty new pieces for (enough for a showing), all on wood panel with layers of hinged or flexible plastic film. It requires a durability I haven’t seen yet, but I’m reasonably confident it exists. If it proves to be too expensive for me to do in 2015, I’ll put it off until I can get an alternate source of funding.

Speaking of funding, the remaining fourteen buttons are now at Mars Mart/Village Market and Gifts. They are now retailing for $15.00 CAD. I told you the price would go up. For those that have forgotten, they look like this:
IMG_0185-13

All other projects are temporarily on hold, until I’m feeling better and can ramp up production on the important stuff, like the huge number of novels and songs and game modules I have to finish.

Okay, I think that covers things for today. Thank you for reading. Stay warm. Have a great weekend.

Lee.

Posted in Art, Art For Sale, Dreamtropolis Fallen, Games, LinkTales, No Sleep, One a Day, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Chest Muck Plague 2014

I’m dying. That is all.

Lee.

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

A Day of Rest?

Well, not quite. I still have to clean Mom’s house today. I’ll be leaving to do that shortly. But I won’t be posting anything of significance today.

CHEST MUCK PLAGUE 2014
I’m still sick. I keep forgetting to call my doctor. I have some pretty good cough syrup now, which I was out of for about a week.

STINZINE
I started a logo for Dawn the other day, though she hasn’t really looked at it, so I assume it isn’t goof enough.

WRITING
NaNoWriMo starts in a few days. I was planning on doing the third installment of The Approximate Distance To Limbo. Now I’m not so sure. Second thoughts about the whole thing, really. No one so much as bought a single copy of the first act. Either they’re waiting for the whole thing to be done, or they don’t like the premise at all. And no one has commented one way or another, so I have no way of knowing. Feels like I’ve been wasting my time with all of this. Like I missed a memo that notified everyone that I’m not a real, reliable author, and can thus be ignored accordingly. I know I’m not perfect, but I think my writing is adequate. I don’t really know too many people who consider my writing sub par. Just no comments. Telling me something, that.

PAINTING
I think I want to do a few more abstract paintings, on much bigger substrates. I sense it might be the last time I paint abstracts for a long, long time.

TAROT SERIES
Still planning on the Tarot painting series. I haven’t made any progress in a while, but I still feel like this could be a good series for me.

KISMET OGN
Just need more time to sit down and plot and draw this properly. It feels important. Important enough to do it right.

STEEP INCLINATIONS ALBUM
No Band activity. No solo activity. No time to play or record. Left hand still a problem, but not so much that I can’t at least wing it a bit. I’d like a couple of tech tools, but I can do without.

LINK WORLDS GAME
I was having a pretty good time planning this, and then life got busy, and now I can’t quite get back into it. It’ll happen. I just need some inspiration, and it’s only been coming in dribs and drabs. Maybe if I start designing the cards, the rest will come to me. I need to make sure the individual gameboard modules are both fun enough and complete enough on their own that people can play with as few as possible, to keep the gameplay short for those that don’t want to play a single game for two hours or more. I want the individual modules to be an engrossing hour of gameplay, but I keep thinking the main draw of the game will be in the mixed genre component, simply because that’s what has always drawn me to the Link Worlds concept.

I wish I had someone else I could discuss this stuff with, just to see if my ideas sound plausible. I’m also worried that the modular nature and the tile-based game board concept won’t mesh with the rest of the gameplay concepts. I believe ti will work, but it’s too soon to tell. It’s not gelling in my head as well as it was a few weeks ago. I need a working model to test things out with, but my pride won’t allow me to just do a series of doodle cards and tiles to test run it in front of anyone else but me. Sort of the Magician’s Dilemma.

Anyway, that should do for now. Have a good day. Thanks for reading.

Lee.

Posted in Art, Books, Books of Limbo, Canadian Music, Comics, Derrick, Ebooks, Etcetera Thesis Music, Friends, Games, Gary, Graphic Design, Interactive Storytelling, Lettering, LinkTales, Music, One a Day, Sequential Arts, Steep Inclinations, StinZine, Tarot Series, Writing | Leave a comment

Professionalism and Volunteerism Made Easy

I’ve recently had my professionalism questioned.

I am a professional graphic designer. Have been for over fifteen years now, although I’m currently not doing it for a living wage, by choice.

I am a semi-professional author, painter and songwriter. None of these activities is making me much money at present, but I have my hopes that this will change in time.

I am also, as it happens, a civically-engaged volunteer. I am currently involved in helping to organize and coordinate Participatory Budgeting efforts in Ward 2 (and hopefully, some day, citywide), and in the Planning Team of the Stinson Neighbourhood Action Plan, for the Stinson Community Association. These two are not professionally-held positions. I receive no money for these activities. They aren’t even positions, as such. They are simply volunteer activities. As such, they are not subject to the same scrutiny as they would be if I were a City of Hamilton employee, or if my so-called position in PB were a paying one, in which case, I would be responsible to whomever was responsible for paying me.

That’s what professionalism is. It’s accepting responsibility for a set of standards that permits one to do one’s job without fear of reprisals. Volunteerism is a little like that as well, except that it IS volunteer work, and therefore, bound by less stringent standards. Except where that work crosses into territory normally handled by professionals, in which case, you either up your game or step aside.

PB isn’t a paying gig for me. I do it for the love of the thing. I love Direct Democracy. I love Participatory Budgeting. I don’t overstate myself when I say I would hate to see PBHamOnt fail. Most of the people that know me well enough know what I’m about. An increasing number, it seems, do not. So I’ll spell it out for them.

I have no political aspirations. I believe I can do more for my neighbourhood, my ward, and my city as a volunteer than I ever could in four or more years of working for the City of Hamilton. I might be able to start to get bigger things done at first, but from what I see, most folks march proudly in through the front door in the beginning, and end up slumping their way out the back door when their time has come. The impression I get of City culture is one of toxicity and red tape. I have no interest in that.

I’m a writer, an artist, a musician, and I have nothing to prove in the political arena.

The most ‘professional’ consideration I have in all of this is helping to set up a consultancy service for the City to utilize when implementing PB across the city. I don’t plan on running it. I just want to make it happen. It needs to happen. Hamilton needs it.

But Hamilton doesn’t need me to be in charge of it. Hamilton doesn’t need me.

So when a fellow volunteer questions my professionalism, all I can do is laugh. If all of this civic engagement stuff ended for me tomorrow, I’d just get back to work on my novels and albums and paintings and such. I’m designing a board game. I’m teaching guitar. I’m busy, is what I’m saying. What I do for PB, I do because no one else has stepped forward to do it for me, and if no one does it, it will almost certainly fail. I don’t allow my ego to get into that equation. I’m NOT the best person for the job. I’m just the only person prepared to do it at this time.

I am not a Liaison, for either the City of Hamilton or for PB. The cards I whipped up on my home printer say ‘PBHamOnt – Communications/Off-Season Office (2014)’. I call myself a coordinator, but basically, I am merely a facilitator. Not even ‘Facilitator’ with a capital F. It’s not an executive position I hold. I didn’t even apply for the job. I got it by not stepping back fast enough.

So if my personal critique of your volunteer efforts upsets you, I apologize for hurting your feelings. However, don’t expect me to reconsider my right to air my concerns publicly when my so-called job description is virtually non-existent. The only way I know how to get things done is by talking to people about the problems I see. This. Is. The. Job.

For those who have no idea what this post was about, I apologize, and promise a more entertaining post later on, hopefully today.

Lee.

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

Kickass Chick of Badass International

I’ve been a little negligent of a lot of things lately, including this blog. It’s a combination of things, really. My schedule is pretty hectic for a guy who technically speaking is underemployed; I’ve been fighting a lingering chest cold (kinda like last year, though not as severe at present); and I’ve been staving off a bout of low-grade depression just deep enough to slow me down and make getting things done seem less appealing than usual.

YOU LOOK LIKE A DERBY GIRL
I’ve been tooling around with a new demo my buddy James William Roy of The James Rocket sent me to listen to. It’s called Derby Girl. It’s pretty cool. I think you’ll like it. i ended up doing about twelve remixes of it, only to decide I had it best at version 6, with just a dash of multiband compression and mastering to widen and excite the track. The twelfth version is fun, but it’s overly clever and involves compressing and reverbing the intro tot he song to sound as if you’re walking into a club as the song starts. Considering the song is only two minutes and change, it’s a pretty lengthy bit of sound manipulation which would really only work in a rock performance video. I’d love to share it with you, but James says it’s not ready for consumption yet; he’s going to rerecord it to tighten up the vocal harmonies and any other fiddly bits he thinks need revisitation and remixing first. Maybe after he releases the tune.

LONG LIST OF GRIEVANCES
I’m also finalizing my list of PBW2 updates, which should have been put out weeks ago, ahead of Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr’s list, which looks a bit anemic by comparison. Ryan still has to report on about a third of the list, and several ‘completed’ projects offer little to no information. My list is, well, more in-depth, if a wee bit critical in places.

ROUND… LIKE A CIRCLE IN A SPIRAL
I’m deeply concerned that one of the projects (the Shamrock Park Labyrinth/Spiral Garden/Children’s Garden/whatever it is this week) may have to be taken over by a new team to get it done in a fashion that is both safe by City standards, and conducive to the standards of PBHamOnt. It’s weird saying that last bit, because we’re setting the standards even as I write this, but I have seen the current state of that project, and frankly, it looks bad, not simply because it’s incomplete, but because the overall ‘vision’ looks half-baked and under-planned. We can’t afford for one of the original proposals of PBW2_2013 to end up looking like it was improvised with a shovel and a few buckets of painted rocks. I fear the whole project will have to be bulldozed in the spring when the snow thaws and everyone sees the huge mud puddle left behind. I may be a bit pedantic on this point, but losing even one 2013 proposal to ego and/or ineptitude is unacceptable. That it might be gussied up a bit for the late spring and summer months is beside the point, if it will just wash away every time we have a good rain or snow storm. Plus, I hear that raspberry bushes have thorns. I need to look into that. Either way you look at it, it’s a PBW2-approved, resident-voted proposal in a public (read: City of Hamilton) park that needs to be salvaged before almost $2000 gets pissed away building a mini-earthworks that would be more appropriate in a certain someone’s back yard. Simple elegance is good, but mediocre half-assing it (with tax money) is both highly inappropriate and surplus to requirements. < /vent>

SILVER LININGS and GRANITE PATHWAYS
At least the Metcalfe sculpture prototype will see the light of day after all, thanks to the Multicultural Garden project at Bayfront Park. THAT will be a world-class installation worthy of the city’s money and our hard work.

LINKS TO THE PAST
Game development has slowed to a crawl, as you can probably imagine. I dream of sitting and rendering the tiles and cards in the next while, but I’m thinking I have to put it on the backburner for the moment and get this PB stuff done first. I also planned on working on my novels, with the third act getting started in a couple of weeks during NaNoWriMo… but now I’m not so sure I’ll have time. VERY frustrated by this.

THE NEW KITTEN
For those who know and are wondering, we have a new kitten (named Stevie Nicks), and she is a very sweet nuisance. At least she has stopped peeing on the bed at night. The many sets of bed sheets we went through in the first week or two was getting ridiculous. Here she is, sucking my wife’s earlobe, because she was weened from her mother too quickly, for whatever reason (I can think of a few):
Stevie and Dawn 10648949_10152560493063323_1914272206727774443_o

Okay, that’s enough for now. Apologies and all that; it’s been a stressful, cash-strapped month.

Anyone wanna buy a book? Or how about a button? I suppose buying a painting is out of the question?

Lee.

Posted in Art For Sale, Books, Books of Limbo, cats, Games, Graphic Design, Hamilton, Interactive Storytelling, LinkTales, Music, One a Day, Participatory Budgeting Ward 2, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Gates of Doom: #GamerGate and the Growing Fallacy of Geek Chic (part 1?)

Okay, I didn’t plan to write this, but it seems that there is a need for some mediation and some declarations on the subject of (video) gaming, its oversensitive male proponents, and the state of sexual politics in gaming in the western world today.

A COUPLE OF CAVEATS
First, I am not, strictly speaking, a feminist. I believe wholeheartedly in total equality of the sexes, and I acknowledge that there is great disparity that needs to be redressed before we can ever hold our heads up and declare ourselves a just society. But I am not a social activist for feminist issues, and I am not good at making such arguments, not because I disagree, but simply because I am a middle aged white male who grew up in the 70s and 80s, and my view of sexual politics is skewed. I would be at best an unreliable narrator if I tried to argue for feminism, because I simply can’t truly feel and think out the arguments as strongly as many women and some men I know of can do. I’m not an apologist for either side, and I straddle the fence on most of these issues. I sue for greater understanding and balance, but I disapprove of guerrilla tactics and shaming on either side of the fence. I truly believe this stuff will never improve until the sexes come together and realize they are working at crossed purposes.

Second, I’m a gamer, but I’m not what I would consider to be a Hardcore Gamer. I’ve played most genres of video and board game at this point, and I find that most of them aren’t that appealing to me. For one thing, I’m a pretty well known non-competitive player. I like teamwork and solo play, but I’m not fond of PvP, and my ePeen is at least as small as my real penis. Sorry, them’s the breaks.

STAKES
So what is my stake in this argument? Well, I’ve argued some of these points before, and more importantly (to me), I have friends (who shall remain nameless) on both sides of this debate that need to get their heads clear to see what’s really at stake, and while I may not be a big enough feminist-sympathizer to satisfy some folks’ requirements, I think I can see the actual goal line a little more clearly than those that are fighting the hard line and just want to decimate their opponents at any cost.

SPIT IT OUT
Okay, so that’s your fair and balanced portion of the article out of the way. Time for the argument itself.

We need one another. And I don’t mean ‘me man, you woman, we need each other’. In this day and age of Transgender politics, that paradigm is becoming increasingly inaccurate anyway. I mean, ‘me human, you human, we need to coexist’. This stuff where men and their female supporters have been arguing unsuccessfully for the freedom to remain sexually dominant just doesn’t cut it. Their failure to recognize their male priviledge notwithstanding, these people have a very small point about wanting to be in a politics-free state when indulging in their favourite pastime. It’s a weak point, and I don’t hold to it myself, but I recognise that these people are working through some stuff, and taking refuge from being told endlessly that they are wrong. Invalidating their views isn’t going to get us there, folks. Right or wrong, these are deep-seated views, and they need to be mediated, not punished (or rewarded, for that matter).

(SOME OF) MY GAMER FRIENDS
Without naming specific people, I will now attempt to briefly spell out just a little bit of what might be seen as an apology for my pro-gamer friends. One is an old high school friend who, through no fault of his own, grew up with a fairly rigid sexual identity based on upbringing and environment. The other is an internet friend I have been friends with for a number of years, who is to my mind a fellow traveller in the debate about women’s place in gaming, in that he knows several strong minded women who can play circles around most male gamers, and he gets along with all of them pretty well. However, just lately, he’s been making skewed arguments that for all the world make him look like the #GamerGate folks.

The thing about both of these guys is, they aren’t particularly political. I don’t mean savvy; I mean they simply don’t function in this arena. And that might seem like a cop out, until you consider the state of political discourse in North America today. We’re very absolute, zero sum here in NA, and we don’t like middle ground very much. All or nothing, pass or fail, in or out. It’s hard to want to play when the rules are so dire, so complex and often misleading.

The thing is, I know these buddies of mine, and I know them to be pretty alright, if basically ignorant of the real issues at stake. They mostly perceive the feminist argument as an inconvenient imposition and, let’s face it, a fairly nakedly aggressive condemnation of everything they say or do that isn’t ‘on-message’. It’s hard to reason with a recalcitrant political activist of any cause in any arena, because argument is generally their stock in trade, and at any given moment, you’re likely to get an intellectual boot to the head for failing to take the argument seriously, which basically comes down to being uncomfortable when confronted by one’s shortcomings and being challenged to change immediately or else.

THE FAIRER SUBTEXT
Now, on the opposite side of the equation, there HAS been a lot of patriarchal ‘sit down and shut up’ feces being thrown around, and it has to stop. Women’s Rights may seem utterly alien to those of us still ensconced in machismo and purely patriarchal traditions and institutions, but that doesn’t invalidate them. This is a small world, and we all have to live on it together or expect more heartache and condemnation. I can’t claim to be on the inside track of the patriarchy (despite my sex), but I’m aware of it, and I do think it’s mostly archaic crap that only helps those who are comfortable subjugating half of the population. It’s not right, in other words. Male identity should not tie itself to these ideals and tactics, because they will take us down with them as they sink into the metaphorical tar pits of history. You can be strong and brave without being an asshole.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s time to accept that change is here. In fact, it’s about 100 years overdue; the suffragette movement was about a hundred years ago, guys. Women’s Rights have been in the public discourse for all of our lifetimes. They weren’t dismissed by a handful of arrogant, sexist comedians in the 80s, and they weren’t discredited or dismissed by anything our fathers or grandfathers said before that. Sexual equality isn’t even up for debate, guys. Those ‘women are too…’ arguments only reveal what an asshole you are. It’s not something to crow about. It’s something to shut up and let go of. Your children (or nieces and nephews) are listening. Do you want them to respect you, or dismiss you?

All you really have to ask yourself is: how would you feel if someone sent your girlfriend, wife or daughter to prison, simply for wanting the right to speak and be heard in public? It may seem a little overstated, but if YOU had to live in a society that ignores your thoughts and feelings, you’d probably feel psychologically imprisoned, too. Maybe that should be the question: How would YOU feel if you were imprisoned for speaking your mind? Because that’s what’s going on. Maybe you feel that argument goes just as well for you as it does for women, but the ugly truth is, men have already had their say, and what they’ve had to say on the matter is what has kept our society in bondage for centuries. We ALL need to be liberated from the demands and expectation of the dinosaur patriarchy. Our society and our sanity depend on it.

GAMING?
But what in the blazing blue balls of heck does that have to do with gaming, Lee? Well, take the twin facts that: 1) most male protagonists in games are portrayed as independent, largely self-sufficient, sexually-confident archetypal heroes who can take a punch and dish it back, 2) and most female protagonists (when they aren’t token) in games are usually portrayed as fairly sexualized, passive, often-dominated victims of circumstance (except Lara Croft who, let’s face it, is basically a highly masculine character with guns, a pretty face, a cute butt, and big breasts attached; not exactly a feminist superstar, even if strong women’s roles are just as valid as any other) who stumble in and out of trouble or are ‘saved’ by some male counterpart. The prevalence of female protagonists is a good thing, but the dialogue still needs to shift more to women being able to cope on their own, because, news flash, boys: they can. They do it in real life, either by cooperation with men and one another, or by toughing it out and doing without. Those are the options they have been presented with, and they take them.

So, do women have the right to expect change in the gaming industry? Hell, yeah! Do women have a right to critique games based on their sexual bias? Hell, yeah! Do women have the right to make men feel like crap for not being 110% on board with feminist issues from the outset? That I can’t quite agree with.

Women have been patient. Asking them to wait longer isn’t fair. But asking them to be nice might be too much to ask. They HAVE waited a long time, and endured a lot of BS in the meantime. Swallowing more of the same might be what’s in store, but you can’t ask them to like it.

But guys, you have to admit, things are generally a lot more fun when men AND women are having a good time together. We just have to learn to share the toys, and expect to learn new rules as our old games go the way of the dodo. We’ve come a long, long way from the days when men felt safe and secure beating women until they agreed. Some of us still think it’s appropriate to lash out at women, and a few of us even feel justified in making horrendous threats when our worldview is threatened. But ultimately, I think most of us can agree that such arguments are losing ground, and I say, good riddance. I grew up with male violence, and it’s ugly and terrifying and despicable, and no man should ever feel justified in hurting (or permitting the hurting of) a woman for any reason. There is never an excuse. Ever. ‘The Bitch Had It Coming’ is no longer recognised in our legal system as a legitimate defense.

Again, you might think I’m overstating, exaggerating the facts to make a skewed point. I don’t think so. There are extremes being played out here, threats being made, and the extremists might be lone wolves or they might not, but the rest of us are effectively colluding with them, complicit in their wrongfulness, if we don’t order them to sit down and shut up. They may bark louder, and they may even have a bite, but they can’t hold the entire conversation hostage because they refuse to come out of their cocoons and see reason.

END?
Time to end this rant. I haven’t addressed every issue, and in typical fashion, I’ve been too general for my own good. But I do believe with all my heart that this problem will never go away until we learn to listen and to let go of any thinking that tells us we have the right to attack one another over the debate of sex. We’re born this way, folks. The rest is conditioning, and it takes decades to get to the point where we’re sitting on opposite ends of the internet hurling threats and invective at one another for failing to agree. In any other arena, this would be called a discussion, a debate, an argument. Here in this highly politicised society, we’re instead calling it a battle, and we’re escalating the situation way out of proportion to what it’s about.

Get some perspective. And whatever else you do, don’t shut down the conversation. It’ll only get better if we keep talking and listening to one another until we find common ground.

Lee.

Posted in Games, Games People Play, One a Day, Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Once and Future Things

WHAT IT IS
A couple of days ago, I responded to an article posted in Raise The Hammer about the cable TV debate on LRT, and how misrepresented one of the panelists was. My comment was addressed more generally to the whole Light Rail Transit (LRT) vs. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) argument that has become one of the key wedge issues of our municipal election here in Hamilton, Ontario. That comment, which was article-length (and a bit heavy on the polemics) was picked up by RTH to become an article in itself. Very flattered, though of course, I didn’t say anything that hasn’t been said by the likes of Brian Henley, Ryan McGreal, Graham Crawford, Chris Cutler and Mark Richardson, to name a few, on the various points that I made. I just put them all together in one place. So Ryan titled, subtitled and reposted my comment here.

PAST FORWARD
The thing is, I’ve been reading about this stuff for the last couple of years, since before the BRT argument reared its ugly head. Dawn and I attended the Metrolinx study a couple of years ago at the AGH, and we’ve been staunch supporters of LRT ever since. For me, it goes back to a conversation I had with my friend William Ferguson, whose father, I was told, worked at City Hall back in the early 80s, when a monorail project was offered to Hamilton… and we passed on that, too. I believe it wound up going to Vancouver instead. This was back when our steel mills were still going pretty strong, and this city’s economy looked sturdy enough to handle just about anything. The recession that followed in the 90s, and the political upheaval of two wildly divisive and unpopular provincial governments (one I gladly voted for; the other not so much) turned most of us off of the idea of provincial politics, and Hamilton’s municipal political scene was largely perceived as a morass of backroom deals and shady associations. Whether they were true or not, rumours of mafia money and graft were rampant back when I was a boy growing up in the East End of Hamilton (Barton and Kenora, to be exact; the ‘White Survey’). Heck, I actually knew some of the big players back then. The 70s and 80s around my house were fascinating times.

RABID TRANSIT (BRT, pt 1)
Getting back on topic, what can I possibly add that wasn’t already said in the RTH article? Well, for one thing, I haven’t given my view of the BRT side of things. And for another, I haven’t declared for a mayoral candidate, or a ward 2 candidate, or even the ward 1&2 school board trustee. I haven’t even voted yet. I’ve been saving it for the 27th. Advance polls are nice, but I like the rush of going out, voting, going home, and waiting for the results. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, as Howard Cosell used to say on Wide World of Sports, which my sister’s dad watched faithfully in the 70s. Along with ABC News, Dirty Harry flicks and Kojak.

So, what about BRT? Well, if it’s all we end up getting out of this deal, I’ll use it. But I won’t like it. And I certainly won’t expect it to be game changing in any sense. And nobody else should, either. See, we’ve already got something like that. It’s called the A and B Lines. And they are fast becoming completely inadequate to our needs. We need better, safer, more frequent routing; we need our ailing bus line to be repurposed to feeding the B and A lines; and we need to send a clear message to commuters that the downtown core isn’t their personal, not-so-private shortcut to the outer boroughs. See, we live here. The downtown core is where we live, worka nd playa lready. Our kids are in those streets. Our shops, our institutions, our livelihoods are tied up in this ailing inner city infrastructure, and many if not most of the people driving through the downtown have absolutely no intention of stopping to buy one single thing. Bus Lanes have nothing to do with it, folks, and they never, ever did. In fact, many of these ‘single occupant vehicle’ owners have openly stated in the comment sections of the Spectator that they want nothing to do with the downtown… except for a shorter commute. And that’s just not good enough.

Aside: I didn’t approve of the Red Hill Expressway, and I still don’t use it, but it horrifies me that too many commuters still drive through the city at speeds exceeding a sensible inner city limit, as if they’re still on the QEW or the 407. That needs to stop, pronto, folks! It’s there, and it gets you across town and around downtown traffic faster than anything we’ve ever had, so bloody well use it already!

Burlington Street and Industrial up to Wellington were the fastest routes through the city for decades, thanks to the favouritism we lavished on our industrial sector, and especially our steel twins, Stelco and Dofasco. But Wentworth and Wellington were never built for that kind of traffic, and Victoria Street looks like hell as well. All three of those roads flank or run through my current neighbourhood, Stinson, where I’ve lived for over twenty years. And in the last five to ten, I’ve seen a steady increase in through-traffic on Stinson, from people coming off of Wentworth from either King, Main or Burlington streets, or Charlton to the south, and driving as if they just came off a major highway. Stinson is almost 100% residential, but they have this dirty little phrase they like to trot out on such occasions, called ‘Arterial roads’.

Then we built the LINC and finally the RHE, and wreaked untold environmental (not to mention historical) devastation in the process. So we’ve got the Expressway now, which helps people NOT drive into Hamilton. For a long time, that thought flummoxed me. I was deeply offended that people wanted to essentially bypass our great city. But as I get older, I kind of wish they would. Our streets would be safer and last longer if they would. Barton, Queenston, King and Main, even Cannon… these streets all drive through low-to-medium density residential and multi-use commercial zones. We neither want nor need heavy through-traffic on these routes. We want residents and shopper on these routes. That’s the way I remember it from when I was a boy, and that’s clearly what the old photos from the 50s through early 80s show: a thriving downtown core loaded with pedestrian shopping traffic everywhere you went. Cars, buses, trucks, yeah, we had ‘em, but they weren’t the sole focus, even though our 60s era makeover pretty much guaranteed they would be.

FOLLOW THE MONEY
See, we have a funny equation that we’re all taught subliminally in this city; it’s certainly taught elsewhere, but I’ve lived in Hamilton my whole life (minus that three months in Oakville in 1991, which really doesn’t count, since I was couch surfing), so I’m a not certain. The equation works like this: Wide/Fast One Way Streets = $$$!

We learned this equation from the likes of NYC’s former high muckamuck, Robert Moses, who taught the Western World of the 50s and 60s the nouveau philosophy of car culture city planning, though I’m pretty sure he got the idea, ironically enough, from the Nazis (see: Autobahn). My point, all Godwinning aside, is that the guiding philosophy that lead us into this mess was paved with asphalt and good intentions, because we really believed it, and we still do. SOLD! We still think cars and trucks are the only way this city can function. We’ve gotten rid of some of the train tracks that used to crisscross the city, but we’re still making new roads to nowhere with alarming speed, and having to rebuild them at an alarming rate because of increased traffic and inferior construction. We’re just beginning to get the hint and build more stable, concrete-based roads in the East End, but you’d better believe it’s expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive, not to mention a breathing hazard. But hey, it keeps people in work, right?

RAPID PANTSING
So, why NOT BRT? We’ve had a pretty good bus system for decades. Or rather, we used to. Provincial downloading of transit costs in the 90s all but murdered the HSR, and it’s been limping along ever since. And in that time, the vague feeling that there was something unsavoury about taking the bus has just bloomed into a whole anti-bus culture. We literally cast our votes against anything to do with improving the buses in this city. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but it’s true. Look at how long we’ve been limping with this substandard bus system that almost nobody is happy with. Even if it’s better than they say, the fact that nobody sees it speaks volumes. Changing the culture is key, but that takes time. Years to fix what takes minutes to undo.

So what we need is to change the conversation, and the best way to do that is simply to cut the knot in half and present a new solution: dedicated transit lanes. And nothing says dedicated more clearly than a fricking rail line that cars and trucks can’t use. You won’t find parked cars or idling trucks accidentally occupying an LRT line, because no one wants to see the untold mayhem–not to mention legal fees–caused by that.

LRT may be expensive and time-consuming to build, and it’s not a one-size-fit-all silver bullet solution, either, but it’s well and truly past time Hamilton stopped looking for every new idea to be a universal panacea. We’re building an ecosystem, here, not a Wal-Mart. We want sustainable development. We want new housing and affordable housing and new jobs and living wage jobs and health and safety and Complete Streets and Bike Lanes and affordable post-secondary education and adult reeducation made widely available and we need a lot–if not all–of it yesterday.

BRT isn’t going to do any of that for us. It’s a bandaid, and not even as cheap as we’re being told. The upgrades, upkeep on roads and the repair fees will keep ballooning for years to come, where LRT will be a sustaining, affordable upkeep issue that won’t even need to address the issue of rebuilding roads every five to ten years. I’m not saying LRT is going to solve everything, but when you consider what it takes to sustain inner city density growth and development (don’t forget the development dollars that City Hall has been courting), you can’t convince investors OR residents that adding a few faster buses to a line that already has fast buses is somehow going to miraculously change the way people get around. Nobody actually believes it. It’s a way to shut down the larger conversation about making radical changes to the way we live, work, play and get around in Hamilton.

Change is expensive and scary, and people would rather blurt out some nonsense to shut the conversation down than have to change their world view. Naysayers know that, if we keep investing in the uncertain future, we won’t be able to go back to the way things ‘always’ have been. And they’re right. But where they get it wrong is this persistent feeling that, if they stall long enough, the steel mills, or perhaps some other big, dirty industrial-based business (see also: Gasification Plant), might come in and rescue us all from the scary future. Heavy Industrial manufacturing and processing are leaving North America,for good. We still make things, but not on the scale we used to, and that trend has been happening since the late 70s… heck, since the post war era of manufacturing and world trade, really. Can you remember how far back you saw your first Toyota? I can. It was lint he late 70s, around 77 or 78, and we all laughed, just like they did in that movie with Michael Keaton and George Wendt, ‘Gung Ho’. And just like that other movie with Danny DeVito, Other People’s Money, every attempt we make to turn back the clock and save the old factory is met with increased indifference and futility. The trend is not reversible, folks. World market forces are in play. They are slow and inexorable, and they happen over decades and centuries, and nothing we do today or tomorrow is going to make Hamilton back into the lunch pail capital of Canada.

But if we invite new development, remediation dollars, and new clean manufacturing in the green sector, we can remold Hamilton and grow in ways we never dreamed possible. Maybe we’ll even get my wife’s glass elevators up the escarpment, or perhaps mayoral-hopeful Crystal Lavigne’s gondolas, or perhaps we’ll just stabilize and grow up the side of the escarpment using a combination of old and new technologies and good old Mother Necessity. Things can change. They will change. We just have to get our heads back in the game and start thinking forwards instead of backwards. We have to welcome the change. Invite the change. Start dreaming about what could be, instead of remaining chained to the past.

DECLARATIONS
So, I’m doing what I can to make change in Hamilton now. I’m a staunch supporter of LRT. I’m a staunch supporter of the lobby registry, of environmental protection, of affordable housing, of poverty reduction, of transparency and open dialogue with our three levels of government. I’m 110% for equal rights and equal pay for all of our residents, regardless of age, race, sex or creed. I believe wholeheartedly in Direct Democracy, and I believe with religious fervour that we all need to be allowed to live our lives as comfortably and as safely as possible, regardless of our financial class status, BUT that we ALL have a duty to uphold the values that make our city, our province, and our country great.

We all need to get in the game and make this work, whatever this is going to be. There is no opting out. There is no moving forward without also putting real effort into making the changes needed, and the way we do that in this society is with our vote. Representational Democracy is a fossil, and we need to get rid of it, but until it’s safely buried, we need to use it to make the changes that will guide and inform our future political landscape. Give it the send off it deserves. Vote for new government, and vote as frequently and as steadily as needed until the change comes. Never waver. Never lose hope. The future will either claim us, or it will devour us. We mustn’t hesitate. We mustn’t drag our feet. That way leads absolutely nowhere. There is no reverse on this train.

Go Big or Go Home.

On the 27th, I’m voting for Brian McHattie, not because I think he’s the best person for the job, but because he has a track record of fighting for the progressive things I care about, and we need that kind of thinking right now, more than ever. Maybe that’s the same thing. I don’t know. I like a few of the mayoral candidates, and I really like Crystal’s vision of the future, and I like Mike’s philosophical take on the city’s needs (plus, he’s a neat guy), and I think Fred’s alright, if a bit over-cautious, but Brian’s platform most resembles mine, so I’m going to back him this time. If he fails to keep promises, he’ll learn what happens to disappointing politicians in Hamilton, soo enough.

I’m also voting for Chris Erl for School Board Trustee, because I know him, I trust him, and I believe he’ll fight for what the city needs from the school board right now, instead of this monolithic, faceless beast we’ve been lumbered with that is tearing apart our schools and our communities.

And I’m still undecided about Ward 2. Jason Farr has the experience and the contacts, and we have a kind of working relationship, which I appreciate, but Terri Wallis would bring a new perspective to council, which it could surely use right now. At this point, I could go either way. I’d like to invite them both to contact me privately if they would like to discuss the matter. Obviously, the 27th is the cut-off date.

Time I wrapped this up. My mother’s internet needs fixing, and I’ve got other fish to fry, metaphorically speaking.

Thank you for reading. Have a good day.

Lee.

Posted in Hamilton, One a Day, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts of the Past Week

I think that maybe I’ve been courting success a bit too long. All I want now is to feel like I’m making something I’ll enjoy later. It would be nice if other people liked my work, too, and I could certainly use the money if I sell something people like (poverty, contrary to popular belief, does not make you a better artist; it makes you a better whore, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not what art is supposed to be about), but I think it would be quite nice just to write or paint or draw or design or record something that I don’t wind up feeling disappointed with–or guilty about–later.
____________________

Good Morning. This is the album that I was listening to as a little boy. I’ve never really needed hallucinogens to understand psychedelia, because I was steeped in it right along with HR Pufnstuf, Sesame Street, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, Readalong, Ludwig, and The Electric Company. It’s part of my DNA, really. The concept album is how my brain tells stories to itself. This more than just about anything defines how my brain functions.

____________________

Sooo… a couple of weeks ago, I posted this update of the intro track to the Etcetera Thesis – Steep Inclinations album, and as far as I can remember, almost nobody commented. This leads me to believe I am doing something wrong.

____________________

I feel like it’s time to get to work on some music, but it’s too late to start recording a new tune. I’ll have to spend some time on it tomorrow. All I can say is: BIG PHAT F#$%ING SYNTH SOUND!!!
____________________

This looks like a good article on the ‪#‎GamerGate‬ issue. It might not cover every aspect of the issue, but it’s important that we recognize the issues being brought up before we do a knee jerk reflex and shut down the conversation prematurely. More I’ll say in my own blog later, if I remember. So many hot topics, and I’ve been so tired and quiet, lately…

http://wp.me/p3JAa-iT

____________________

Not everyone on my friends list will agree, but the downtown core is in dire need of green space, to reclaim the barren, lifeless, underused parking lots behind the facade of our downtown core. Don’t believe me? Go up the Stelco Tower during open Doors next time and look out over the core. Take in the huge grey wasteland behind King William and Hughson. It’s a blighted eyesore, and the land could be used for so many much more productive reasons, if we’d just move the parking into a proper modern parking facility.

http://chn.ge/1nliSsa?share_id=KOXLJvzYAC

____________________

See, the thing is, you don’t love somebody just because it comes easy. That’s nice when it happens, but it’s probably not a ‘forever’ thing. Real love is about acceptance, even when it’s not comfortable. Even when you know what an asshole the person you love can be, you stay, because you UNDERSTAND (even if you don’t agree). That’s when you know what Love is really about.
That’s not an endorsement of ‘staying for the kids’ or ‘staying despite the abuse’. It’s just an advocation for loving when the chips are down. You want to see what real love is? Look at a couple when one of them is deathly ill, or when they’re flat broke and it’s days until the next cheque. That’s what love is like. If they can get through that, then it’s real. If not, maybe it’s time to call it a day.
But in the meantime, Love is the greatest magic there is. Perhaps the only magic we’ve ever had. When it works, it makes light of all the hardships and struggle. It makes us thankful for the tough times, because they reminded us why we chose this person (or persons) to be with.
____________________

Just a few random thoughts for you to peruse. Enjoy.

Lee

Posted in One a Day | Leave a comment

Winter Is Here Again, oh Lord… Haven’t Been Home In A Year Or More

Happy Thanksgiving, all my Canadian friends. To everyone else, I hope you have a splendid day. It’s actually murky and wet here today, but hey, it’s a big country; I’m sure there is sunshine and warmth somewhere.

I’ve been doing some office keeping today, but there is still so much more to do. I’m hoping to have a little coffee and chat with Rebecca C, my sometimes-partner in Operation: Mango. I also have emails and phonecalls to make, which I may even do, but personally, I’m not sure what I can do at this point, because the apathy levels are pretty high, and there is family to attend to for most folks. Not me. I did family stuff yesterday. It’ll be time to contact folks throughout the week and find out if ANYONE knows what’s going on at this point. Even our Councillor seems out of the loop, though perhaps understandably so, given his preoccupation with re-election.

I haven’t made much progress on the game in the last few days. I trust you don’t want an explanation. I’ll try to get back to work on that in the next day or so.

I have writing to think about again. NaNoWriMo is nearly upon us, and I don’t like missing it, because in the last few years, it’s the only time I’m able to get a significant body of work written in one go. It’s not ideal, and it’s not exactly like I’m told I can or can’t do all of my serious writing in November, but it generally just works out that way. Fortunately, November is a good month for me to be writing. December isn’t bad, either.

STEEP INCLINATIONS isn’t going to happen this year. Hopefully next year, but to be frank, I need a number of things in place to make that a reality, and money for new gear is one of them. I need one or two smallish keyboards I can sit on my desk and record. I need to purchase some software so I can record vintage keys from VSTi’s, since I will never own a Mellotron or a Chamberlin, or a Hammond or a Moog or an Oberheim or a Yamaha CS80… But I’m gonna need a boatload of instruments with decent performances for this next album. It’s going to be heavy on instrumentation, to compensate for the fact that the music is mostly pretty primitive, even when it evokes progressive vibes.

At least I have most of the guitar stuff under control. My playing still needs a lot of work, but i HAVE been playing a lot more lately, which has been helping my recording and arranging considerably. When you need a soloist, it’s good to have an instrument or two to hand that you actually can play well enough to solo on, even if the solos aren’t earth-shatteringly good.

I don’t know what I planned on doing today. I still have a boatload of dishes to clean, but I think I was hoping to get some creative stuff done today. Instead, it was air conditioning and emptying boxes full of paper into one box, to cut back on the clutter in the storage lockers. I guess I’ll go take care of the dishes now, but know that I could have been amazing today.

For lack of that, here’s some music I did a few weeks ago with/for my guitar student:

Lee

Posted in Canadian Music, Etcetera Thesis Music, Music, One a Day, Steep Inclinations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do You Mean, King Crimson is Unacceptable as Morning Wake Up Music?

Okay, so I AM actually listening to 21st Century Schizoid Man as I type this. So the title doesn’t lie. Good thing I have good headphones, or I’d be living alone again.

In other news, the Autumn Issue Harvest Special (aka Issue #004) of the StinZine is out:
StinZine 004 cover clr fin sml
Within its hallowed pages lurks a sort of advertisement/PSA for the Stinson Creative Lab, a little idea I came up with to unite and activate our local art talent.

I also put in some time this past week getting the Stinson Mural Project page back up on its feet. You can see the results by clicking the image below:
Carter Park Mural concept 008 - LEMc 2014 sml

And finally, I plan to attend the October 2014 ArtCrawl on James Street North tonight. If any of you locals still want to buy one of my abstract buttons, you should find me tonight and get one while I still have them. The price for them is still $10 (five if you know the name of the series). I’ll probably be wearing Arthur, and I may have a guest or two who have been offered one each, so that means I’m down to eleven. Did I mention HURRY?
IMG_0185-13

Right, the Court of the Crimson King has started. Good time to end the post. Good morning.

Lee.

Posted in Art, Art For Sale, One a Day, Stinson Community Association, Stinson Mural Project, StinZine | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Genesis – Calling All Stations – Lee in Limbo’s Deluxe Edition

Okay, so I did a review of the 1997 Genesis album, Calling All Stations a few years back. The thing is, I really do like the album and think it is a sorely underserved album. But back when I wrote the review, I hadn’t decided there was something I could do about it. Now, there might be one thing I can do to improve the memory of that album:

Calling-All-Stations-Deluxe-album-cover-001

Now, you may be asking what a rushed bootleg album cover can possibly do to rehabilitate an album. I know I would. In fact, I actually did a few times while surfing Youtube and seeing the reimagined album orders that did little more than rearrange a few deck chairs and put up some bunting. This version, if you care to look closely, is demonstrably different. For one thing, I included all of the B-sides, and not just as bonus tracks, but as fully-fledged album tracks, helping to contribute to the narrative, such as it is. As well, there is a wee bit of story to suggest that the album is and always was a concept album in disguise.

Now, I could have played around with the songs and running order a little more, to make sure the idea that it is (or at least could be) a concept album more obvious. But really, it shouldn’t be necessary. If you have all of the tracks listed in the image above, try making yourself a songlist in the order I suggest, and see if the almost two-hour trip doesn’t feel more rewarding and fulfilling than the official album release originally did.

And that’s my little toy for today. Stuff to do. Back to work.

Lee.

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More Linkage

Okay, I’m frighteningly sick today, so don’t expect much from me. That said, here’s part of where I’m at and what I’m up to:

page 08
Grid 08

Now, I’m not actually already up to page 8. Boy howdy do I ever wish. I’m actually just in the rough stages of designing the most obvious structures, so I can make sure there are enough pieces to do respectable structures with enough options that you can make it up as you go along. I see this involving more tiles than I’ve planned for, but I’m gonna try my darndest to keep it to 16 tiles per genre for the base game.

Anyway, not much to see so far. Got laundry and dishes to do, a guitar practice to cancel, and a nasty chest cold and accompanying headache to shake off if I can. There’s other stuff, but it will have to wait, I guess.

Thanks for reading and sharing and whatever else you do. You make this worthwhile.

Lee.

Posted in Games, Graphic Design, LinkTales, One a Day | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Link World Game Supplement: The Logos

Okay, this might not interest everybody, but I spent a fistful of hours at my computer devising logos for the expansions to the game, which ought to have their own separate packaging, because that’s how it’s done in board games, as far as I can tell. I actually want to just package the expansions in a couple of smaller boxes like Apples To Apples and Cards Against Humanity do, but it may be necessary to make mini packs for future expansions, which I see as a necessity not because I want to milk the cow, but because I can’t possible include more than 8×88 tiles in one game that also has to have a comprehensive manual, a handful of small decks of cards, some funky gaming dice (probably akin to Fudge dice, to keep it simple, but we’ll see; I really love classic RPG dice, and in particular, percentile dice. It’s just that modern gaming seems to require as much simplification as possible to appeal broadly, and there’s no point in doing this if half of my board-gaming friends are just going to say it’s too complicated to play and enjoy; a game with time, space and alternate reality travel is going to be uber-complicated no matter what you do, so simplification of the gameplay tools is a must) and probably playing tokens and such. My copy of Arkham Horror is a really densely packed monster of a game, and I’m holding that as the standard bearer for maximum gaming paraphernalia. If my packaging gets heavier than AH, I figure I’ve failed, so I’m going to have to plan expansions before I even start designing the tiles, just so I know roughly how many I need.

Carcassonne’s base game has 72 medieval setting tiles plus 12 River tiles. I figure that means the standard for my opening game should be 84… so I’m going to more than double that for each season, because the total of each genre will only be 16 tiles. Then I’ll go back and design optional expansion tiles for each genre and distribute them in season sets and deck packs.

All of which means, packaging, which to this little graphic artist means logos, and lots of them.

So here are the preliminary logos I devised. Most of them utilize fonts I didn’t design, which doesn’t sit well with me, but necessity is what it is. I’ll probably devise more original typefaces as I get closer to release time, but these should at least evoke some of the qualities of the genres I’m toying with. A few of them may seem like variations on the same theme, but it’ll make sense when the back stories are revealed.

Okay, enough chatter; here are the logos. Let me know which ones you like, and which ones you think should be different:

LWBG Logos 001c-01

Lee.

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