Posts Tagged ‘Fun’

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Folk Cures

May 28, 2011

It has been raining for days. I’ve actually lost count of how many days it’s been since I’ve seen the sun. Obviously, rain can be depressing. Humans crave sunlight. The cold and wet make the outside unappealing. But for me, the worst part is the sinus headaches.

My nasal cavities are a functional barometer. I can tell when rain is coming. I can certainly tell when it is raining. Unfortunately, the price for this superpower is a dull, persistent ache at my temples and under my eyes that makes me want to claw my face off.

Low Pressure: Why I’ll never climb Mt. Everest
 

Fortunately, a lifetime dealing with headaches has left me with an arsenal of fixes. Some are probably slightly less effective than rubbing myself with a chicken gizzard in the light of the full moon, but I’ll quite happily take the placebo effect as well.

Arvik’s Home Headache Remedies

Drugs. Not exactly a home remedy, but I tend to want pain relief more than anything else. I basically have my own pharmacy that I carry with me, and let me say… it does come in handy.

Sleep. Sometimes the best (and only) way to escape for a few hours and have a chance of feeling better after. Of course, there are mornings when I wake up thinking drugsdrugsdrugsdrugs. Those mornings usually don’t bode well.

Protein and/or Sugar. Low blood sugar can trigger and exacerbate headaches. Protein is awesome because it takes longer to digest- the body can go to work on it like a dog gnawing on a bone.

Cool cloths. Actually, I don’t have a cloth. I have a beanbag thing you stick in the fridge and then place over your eyes. I like it, though I always forget to put it back

Things I Wish Were Headache Cures

Unicorn Horn. Just press the horn (either still attached to the unicorn or not) to your head, and voila! Instant pain relief.

Time Machine. I would assume that people will find a lasting cure for headaches in the future. You could go forward in time, steal a few samples, and return. Alternatively, you could just go to a time when you don’t have a headache.

Witch’s Spell. Witches are notoriously pricey, but if it’s a skilled spell-caster, it may be worth it. Long gone are the days of bubbling broths of eye of newt and breath of fish. Modern witches are all about compacting their potions into efficient little capsules. No fuss, no muss, and no smell.

Magic Spring. Bathing in or drinking magic waters is likely to be less expensive than paying for a spell. They’re just harder to find. However, it should be noted that drinking from a magic spring ought to be doubly effective, since many headaches are caused/worsened by dehydration.

Madame Pomfrey. She can heal anything!

The Doctor. Ditto (actually, one of the main reasons I really like my doctor is because he reminds me of Voyager’s doctor).

 

The Doctor. Dealing with human brains and their pains has got to be easier than dealing with time streams, right?

Pillow stuffed with feathers from the wings of a sphinx. Sphinxes are clever. Not only would I imagine that this pillow would be good for your headache, it may enable some subliminal learning.

Alas, until these latter cures are most feasible… I’m off to grab my cool-pack and take a pill.

-Arvik

 

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A Day in the Ideal Life…

May 14, 2011

Lately, I’ve been musing about life. More specifically, the day-to-day shape of my life, and how the future might play itself out. In job interviews, and guidance/career counsellors’ offices, people sometimes ask, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I’ve always found that question hard to answer. I don’t know what I’ll be doing in five years. Obviously, writing is Plan A.

But it’s notoriously difficult to get published. Harder still to make a living from writing. And my Plan B? At this point, it’s looking like academia.

Which means I could be spending my life in a pizza-box shack.

Naturally, this caused me some anxiety. However, always one to look on the bright side of life (insert obligatory whistles here, here, and here), I decided to plan out a day in my ideal life.

6:30: Wake up. Admire the sun rising over the ocean, because I’ll be living in a house beside the sea (fingers crossed).

7:00-8:00: Swim/run/bike/whatever.

8:00-9:00: Leisurely breakfast while reading the newspaper and doing the crossword.

9:00-10:00: Surfing the net and taking care of emails, etc.

10:00-11:00: Read

11:00-12:00: Read more, if I’m engrossed. Otherwise, video games.

12:00-12:30: Lunch

12:30-1:30: Casual stroll

1:30-4:30: WRITE (presumably with breaks)

4:30: Rest/run errands

5:00: Make dinner

5:30-6:30: Dinner and cleaning up dinner

6:30-7:30: Read. Or watch Dr. Who. Or Andromeda. Or Star Trek.

7:30-10:30: WRITE

11:00: Go to bed.

Of course, as I reread this, I realize this chart leaves out the spontaneous-social-fun things. Like time with friends and loved ones. Those are important too, and certainly part of an ideal life.

But I think the major stuff is all there. Lots of reading, lots of writing, a good dose of outside time (I’ve decided I’m secretly part dog- I need to be let out every day, or I start chewing the furniture), and a good dose of gaming.

What’s in your ideal life?

-Arvik

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People-Watching

May 10, 2011

I continue to muddle along at the restaurant. On my last “training day,” I was paired with a server who actually took the time to walk me through things step-by-step, gave me opportunities for “dry runs” (i.e. practicing clearing and resetting an empty table in the back), and gave me her number to call if I got overwhelmed on my first solo shift.

Cue a huge sigh of relief.

With parts of my brain able to focus on things other than stressfearstresspanicstressohGodno, I found myself actually enjoying the work. Admittedly, last night was frighteningly slow, but I wasn’t complaining. In fact, I realized that working in a restaurant may “feed” into my writing.

People have always fascinated me. Who they are, why they act the way they do, what they’re thinking, what their lives are like. I’m the person that “reads” on the subway while secretly composing stories about the other passengers. Not in a creepy way, mind you. Just in a curious, playful way.

Restaurants are even better for that than subways.

Obviously, it’s not terribly polite to eavesdrop on your diners. Still, inevitably, you pick up scraps here and there. That’s actually better from a writing perspective, because you have to fill in the gaps yourself, thereby flexing your creative muscle and avoiding possible libel charges. Even if you don’t actually interact with a diner directly,  the mere sight of someone can spark something.

That’s particularly true of this restaurant, which sits at the junction between a few very different neighbourhoods. It’s within walking distance of the office tower crowd, the urban hippies, the university, a slightly “gritty” part of town, and Chinatown.

We attract a mix.

I have seen beautifully coiffed, older people who come in alone and savour every bite. I’ve seen couples gazing at each other across the tables. I’ve met the “regulars,” two middle-aged women who have a glass of wine and a long “girl-chat” every night after work.  

So much human experience. So many slices of life.

I may actually have another job offer at hand. But if it doesn’t work out… well, I have a feeling I’ll be all right here.

-Arvik

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Reliving my childhood

May 3, 2011

The desire had been gnawing at me for some time. Especially since I have a bit of free time on my hands; I need books from the library to do some research for this new novel, but they’re not going to be in for several days. I tried to ignore my urges, but my eyes kept drifting to the basement. My fingers itched, aching, longing, until at last I could stand it no more.

I descended the narrow stairs into the darkness. Dust bunnies clung to my socks; old cardboard left a musty smell on my fingers as I shifted boxes. Finally, I found what I was looking for.

Several hours later, I’m taking this break to ease my back and write this post (while I am chronologically and, evidently, emotionally young, I have the back of a ninety-year-old). Honestly, I’d forgotten just how awesome LEGO is. I’ve found a few half-broken creations that I can remould into interesting new things (mostly spaceships). I’ve remembered that feeling of designing, testing, and building that always made me feel like a ship’s engineer.

And best of all, as I unearth old ships and minifigures, the stories are coming back.

LEGO sparked so many stories for me. Sure, some of them had their roots in the “official” story LEGO was using to sell this set or that set, but an awful lot evolved into totally new stories. Example: I had Martian and Atlantis LEGO sets. I got around this apparent discrepancy by deciding that the “Atlanteans” were actually Martians who had crash-landed in the oceans and rebuilt their civilization underwater.

And remembering all this made me think: toys were better, back in the day. Yes, even in my day. I don’t want to sound too crotchety, but the old toys made you think, and imagine, and problem-solve. They made you figure out how to share, use your words, and wait your turn. They unleashed the stories waiting inside of you.

Newer toys don’t do that as much. If a puzzle piece in a real puzzle doesn’t work, you turn it over, rotate it, feel it in your hands. Maybe you work through the puzzle with a friend. If a puzzle piece in an online puzzle doesn’t work, you click a few times, and discard it. I just feel like there’s something missing there. I feel like it’s a lot easier to buy into the “official” story of whatever game you’re playing.

Now, I have a lot of faith in the power of imagination. I’ve worked with kids for years, and I’ve seen that they’re still capable of grabbing some stuffed animals and making up a story. Imagination is a huge part of being human. I don’t think it’s going away.

But I wish we allowed it more space to breathe.

-Arvik

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An Intergalactic Dictionary

April 27, 2011

Beta Reader (noun):

1. A trusted associate who reads and offers comments on an edited first draft.

2. The person from whom you will alternately dread and crave hearing a response.

Chosen One (noun):

1. A character who is unaware of their hidden greatness, but who will somehow, inexplicably and very often despite their own incompetence, save his/her world.

2. Harry Potter (who is not a typical “chosen one” incidentally, as his importance derives from the fact that Voldemort chose him as the wizard more likely to be a threat)

Coffee (noun):

1. A mild stimulant deriving from the coffee bean.

2. Many writers’ (and adults’) drug of choice.

Con (noun):

1. A gathering of fans, usually of science fiction and/or fantasy, to discuss and celebrate the chosen object/field of their devotion.

2. The means and the ends of fandom.

Edit (verb):

1. The process of revising a first draft.

2. The process of attacking your ms with a red pen and “murdering your darlings.”

Fanboy/girl (noun):

A person who follows and enjoys a story, series, universe, or person, but to a greater degree than a typical “fan.”

Fantasy (noun):

1. Speculative fiction in which magic and/or the supernatural play a central role in the story.

2. The literature of what couldn’t be, but is.

Geekgasm (noun):

An experience of overwhelming joy induced by contact with an object, idea, person, or event which stimulates the geek centre of the brain.

Geekgasm (verb):

To experience a geekgasm. Often identified by a silly, beaming grin, a high-pitched squeal, and a happy dance.

Genre (noun):

1. A means by which books are classified.

2. An attribute of a book which often receives far more attention and/or judgement than it deserves.

Internet (noun):

1. The medium across which computers exchange information.

2. Your best friend and worst enemy.

List (noun):

1. An efficient means of organizing information.

2. Evidently, a form of energy. To be without “list” is to be passive and unresponsive.

Josephine grunted listlessly.

Mary-Sue (noun):

The protagonist of badly-written fanfiction, sometimes a thinly veiled portrayal of the author. The character is universally loved and has no physical or personality flaws save perfection and being intensely irritating.

Nightmare (noun):

1. A frightening dream.

2. A spirit-horse which forces you to ride it to various evil realms and gatherings.

3. A potential source of inspiration.

Notebook (noun):

1. A small book with blank, lined pages.

2. An object which, in large numbers, can hypnotize writers.

Pirate (noun):

1. Seafaring murderers and thieves who are often romanticized as being the jolly epitomes of awesome.

2. Someone who illegally downloads music and/or films.

Podcast (noun):

An audio programme, similar to a radio show, distributed over the internet and most frequently listened to on iPods.

Podcast Novel (noun):

A unique medium of novel, in which the story is read aloud on a podcast. It may include voice actors, music, and sound effects along with the actual narrative.

Science Fiction (noun):

1. Speculative fiction in which nonexistent, but plausible, technology and/or physical laws play a central role in the story.

2. The literature of what could be, but isn’t.

Speculative Fiction (noun):

1. Fiction wherein some element intrinsically different from the writer’s own empirical experience of natural laws is essential to the story.

2. A legitimate genre of literature.

3. Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and their various subgenres.

Steampunk (noun):

1. A creative re-imagining of the Victorian Era, particularly the London milieu, with an emphasis on speculative steam-based technology.

2. What happens when Goth kids discover the colour brown (attr. I Should Be Writing).

Time paradox (noun):

1. A paradox resulting from following the circular logic of time travel.

2. A plot device.

3. A terrible thing to think about if you have insomnia and are lying awake at 2 a.m.

Tribe (noun):

The greater community of writers.

Vampire (noun):

An undead human who survives by drinking blood. Contrary to some misguided beliefs, they do not sparkle.

Writer (noun):

Someone who writes.

Writing (verb):

1. The act of transcribing or setting words down in print/type.

2. The act of creating a story with fully-realized plot, characters, and theme.

Worldbuilding (noun):

1. The process of creating an imaginary, functioning world and its various components, including religions, geography, history, cultures, and economy.

2. Something really, really fun, and really, really important… that can become a really, really good way to procrastinate if one isn’t careful.

Zombie (noun):

1. An undead creature who survives by eating brains.

2. Something which ought not to be present and/or functioning, but is.

When Joe’s computer sent spam without Joe’s knowledge, Joe realized it had become a zombie computer.

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On the Origins of the Easter Bunny

April 23, 2011

Disclaimer:

I hereby absolve myself of any lost innocence that results from reading this post.

*****

I wasn’t sure how the Easter Bunny fit into Easter.

After all, it’s an invisible rabbit that hops around the world in a single night distributing eggs. I consulted Wikipedia, as I often do when the world confounds me. According to that highly academic source, the Easter Bunny/Hare originated in the former Holy Roman Empire, and seems to have been linked to Easter by virtue of the fact that rabbits are particularly blessed with fecundity (which makes me wonder if the Easter Bunny ever stops to… no, I can’t go on). So we have a symbol of fertility distributing more symbols of fertility (love those eggs) to innocent little boys and girls.

While this explanation was amusing, it wasn’t entirely satisfying.

I embarked on some original research. Following a hunch, I looked at the jackalope. Hey, with the Easter Bunny’s similarity to Santa, it made sense that it might be the product of a fecund rabbit and a reindeer.  Sure enough, the trail turned warm, albeit in an unexpected way: while jackalopes probably aren’t part reindeer, they might be part killer rabbit.

The most famous killer rabbit, of course, is the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

 

Yes, that Killer Rabbit: the one slain by King Arthur and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

 

 

See a similarity?

My theory, then, is that the present-day Easter Bunny is a descendent of the original Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog. The objects we’ve been interpreting as eggs of fertility, are in fact his attempts to recreate the Holy Hand Grenade, thus exacting ironic vengeance on humanity for killing his illustrious forebear.

Of course, this raises the question: why chocolate eggs? Why so colourful?

Alas, I fear it may be more mis-interpretation on our part. Doubtless, Easter Bunnies of yore used candy to lure small children near the cunningly-hidden grenades. Bright colours only added to the enticement. Placid adults, noticing this, assumed a connection between the pretty egg-shaped objects and appearance of candy (bunnies aren’t good at wiring- the grenades don’t go off very often) . There is a connection, just not the one we thought.

And so, while you’re hunting for eggs this weekend… you might want to find a long, long stick and poke them before picking them up.

-Arvik

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The Power of Whoot!

April 16, 2011

I heard someone use the phrase “The power of whoot!” and decided that it was so wonderful, I had to write a post about it. Whoot! (or w00t- both rhyme with boot) is exactly what it sounds like: an expression of joy, roughly corresponding to “yay,” although it can cover a broad range of meanings depending on tone of voice, from unbridled excitement to ironic amusement.

Now that we’ve got definitions out of the way, what exactly is the power of whoot? I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve decided that it’s a similar concept to that of “Carpe diem,” or “seize the day,” but infused with far more enthusiasm. It’s seizing the day because it’s the most awesome day ever. It’s approaching tasks with the merry eagerness you see in dolphins and puppies. The power of whoot! is the power of positive thinking. A simple exhortation of whoot! can brighten many, many situations.

For example:

But lest you think I’m just a naive Pollyanna, I will add that the power of whoot! cannot fix everything.

Some things are just bad. Really, truly, deeply suck. However, there are far more things that look bad at first, and can be fixed, or at least improved, by employing the power of whoot!.

Whoot. It can’t fix everything, but it can fix most things. And that sounds good enough for me.

Whoot!

Arvik