Monthly Archives: May 2008

A New Cereal on the Bookshelf


I think I’d like to try this cereal. The box really sells the product. Too bad it doesn’t exist. It was made up by one of my students as part of an assignment. She did an excellent job on it.

The assignment was to create a cereal based on a book. The students needed to come up with a creative name for the cereal. They needed to include a free prize in the box that was related to the book. And a side panel had to deal with plot, characters, and the setting. It’s a creative way to make books come to life. And students don’t really think of it as a book report.

The Cereal Box Book Report also gave us a chance to discuss how products are marketed. We discussed the use of colour on the boxes, the choice of images and the prizes in the cereals that we all eat everyday. They came to realize that a lot of products are aimed directly at kids. I think for some of my students, it was an eye-opening experience.

I also like the fact that this one assignment can engage the kids and really touch on some key topics. Not only did we reinforce concepts that I had them in art this year, but we also branched off to cover some of the Health curriculum. We looked at the food labels for cereals and talked about what a healthy breakfast should look like.

This example is based on a book about a famous orchestra conductor who loses his baton. So I was able to use this project to tie into my music program. All in all, I can call this assignment a success. The kids did a really good job on it and I was able to cover a lot of material for quiet a few different subjects. I will have to do this assignment again next year.

We Can’t Be

“We can’t be characters in a story.”

Why Not?

“Because it would be a really boring story.”

That’s a good argument. And the only thing I have to say to that is that perhaps your story hasn’t been told yet. The exciting parts are yet to come. You see, every character in every story has what is called a back-story. The characters have a history that predates the story that they are in. They bring attitudes, habits, and traits based on this back-story. If characters didn’t have a back-story, we wouldn’t be able to explain why they act in certain ways in certain situations. In fact, a character can’t exist without some kind of back-story.

“Okay that’s all well and good, but what about free will?”

What do you mean?

“If we are characters in a story, then everything is spelled out for us and we therefore wouldn’t have free will. We couldn’t make any personal choices.”

If you believe in free will this sounds like a conundrum. If you don’t believe in free will, it’s an easy answer. Let’s just assume that free will does exist, which I wholeheartedly believe it does. I think we have to make choices in our lives everyday and that we do have the power to make any choice we feel fit to.

“But how could we do this if we are just a character?”

Easy. Ask any writer about the characters in their stories and they will speak of them as if they are actually living and breathing people. I know that I have had some amazing points in my writing where the characters have actually made some decisions that I wasn’t expecting. At some point in the writing of fiction, the characters seem to come alive and make their own choices. Sometimes the story goes a completely different direction that what the author originally intended.

Writers grope their way through a work and discover the story as they go along. Even writers who do extensive planning will have these moments of inspiration where the characters do exercise their own free will. It is something that we may never be able to explain or scientifically prove but it exists and millions of people can attest to this fact.

“Who writes the stories then?”

That’s a good question.

“Ah, I caught you, didn’t I?”

Actually no, you didn’t. I think that it’s possible that we write our own stories. We all have free will and therefore we create our stories based on our decisions.

“Okay, but someone had to write our back-story?”

Ah, good to see you’re following along. I have three theories on this one. First, there is one supreme writer who creates all the characters. The Earth is the setting for his story and all the characters on this planet contribute to the story in some way.

Second Theory. The writers exist in another space and time. Everything that exists in our world was written by an author in another plane of existence.

Third Theory. Our stories were created be someone on this earth. Not all stories need to be written down and published. Perhaps some of the stories never really leave the author’s mind. Imagination is a powerful tool that everyone can, and does tap into.

“Now that sounds ridiculous.”

This is where faith needs to come in. Anything that we study can never truly be fully realized. There will always be a mystery. But there is enough evidence and writing to suggest that story is the nature of reality.

“I don’t believe you.”

You of course are free to believe whatever you want. But I do have a few more eamples and arguments to present.

“Bring them on.”

I will. Shall we meet here again next week?

“Sounds good. I so look forward to our debates.”

Me too. Thanks.

I’m a Larissa Fan

I don’t remember the last time I was so excited for someone to win a game show. But I must admit that for the past six episodes I have been sitting on the edge of my seat and cheering. And all of this for a contestant on Jeopardy.

In the past, winners were only allowed to win 5 games and then they would be retired as a champion. This in itself is a hard feat. Jeopardy is an awfully tough game.

Only recently, the show changed its rules and allowed contestants to stay on the show as long as they could manage to keep winning. Ken Jennings went on a record-smashing run and was on the show for months. Since then, we’ve had some five-time champions but no one has really emerged as the next big Jeopardy star.

I hope I don’t jinx it by declaring that Larissa Kelly may just be the next big champion. Her six-day run has been very impressive. Last night she had some tough competition and I was actually sitting on the edge of my seat cheering her on. It was a close match and anyone’s game in Final Jeopardy.

Fortunately Larissa won and maintained her champion status. She is the first female to win more than five games. I’m hoping that she can manage to stay on that first podium for quite some time. I can’t say exactly what it is. Maybe it’s the fact that there haven’t been any big winners in some time. Maybe it’s because I like to see someone play such a great game day after day. Whatever it is, I’m a Larissa fan and will be watching and cheering her on tonight.

I See the Finish Line but I Look Back

My fifth year of teaching is quickly coming to a close. I don’t want it to. It’s a strange feeling I’m having right now. In less than a month, the school year will be over. My classroom will be stripped bare and my students will move on.

On the last day of school I am usually overcome with a feeling I can’t really describe. I will often stay behind on that last day and not want to leave. Even though my students rush out the door, and the class really isn’t mine anymore. The room is an empty shell, waiting for a new school year. I guess I will call this feeling “the last day blues.”

The strange thing is this year I am anticipating these feelings. I can see the finish line and instead of being excited, I am looking back towards the starting line. I see how far I’ve come. My students are right with me too, which is great. We’ve had a wonderful year together.

I think teaching has a strong learning curve. I just figured out this profession this year. In a lot of ways it feels like this has been my first year as a teacher. I know what I am doing now.

It’s strange to think that it took me five years of on-the-job training to feel like I can actually do the job I’ve been doing all these years. But at the same time, it is a great feeling.

That’s not to say that I still don’t have a lot to learn. I learn everyday from my students. I hope they learn as much from me. I hope we all take with us the things we have learned this year to make next year even better. Right now, I’m not sure that is possible. It has been an excellent year.

A Visual Tour of My Run

I had the chance to visit a friend’s cottage on the weekend. It was nice. There weren’t any paved roads there and my friend told me that even the airport had a dirt runway. So I laced up my running shoes and did something I don’t normally do. I took my camera along on my run and snapped pictures along the way.

My friend doesn’t run so I went alone. He told me which way I should run and how to find the airstrip. So I set off, not knowing exactly where I was going but not too worried about it.

It was a beautiful run along mostly dirt roads and a few overgrown paths. It was amazingly quiet. It was nice to be away from the hubbub of the city.

This shot shows some new growth in the trees to the side.

This is the road that runs parallel to the local airstrip. It’s not used anymore but I ignored the sign and ran down it anyway.

As you can see this road has pretty much been reclaimed by nature. It’s all overgrown and barely resembles a road anymore.

I left the overgrown road and made my way to the runway. I laughed at the thought that I was actually running on a runway. It sounded like that was what it should be used for. I also timed my run so that I wouldn’t be there when anyone was trying to take-off or land. And if I heard a plane, I could always have retreated to the overgrown road anyway. Don’t worry, I was being safe.

You can see the lights that mark the start of the runway here.

You can see the pylons that have lights attached to the top of them and run down either side of the strip.

It was a pretty windy day. You can tell from how the windsock and flags are flying.

Two planes were sitting near the terminal. This is one of them.

I took a small service path back but came across this huge water hazard. I wasn’t expecting this at all.

I managed to make my way around it by climbing through and around the bush at one side of the path.

This was near the end of my loop. I was coming back into the community.

And that was pretty much my run. I actually ran it twice this weekend. Both times it took me around 32 minutes and my pace was pretty good. I know that it takes me roughly four minutes to run a kilometer so by my math it was roughly an 8-kilometer route.

That felt pretty cool to run through the quiet and calm nature of the north. And now I can tell everyone that I ran on a runway. I don’t think too many people can say they’ve done that.

Wisdom Hiding in the Art

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
– William Shakespeare “As You Like It” 2:7

This is an historic quotation from one of the most prolific writers of our time. Scholars hold it up as a great metaphor. But what if it goes beyond a metaphor? What if Shakespeare knew something about the nature of reality and the only way he could disseminate this knowledge was through his plays. He certainly reached a lot more people writing plays that he ever would have preaching, or writing philosophical theories.

I think that it is possible that Shakespeare used his plays to draw people in so that he could entertain them and also tell them something about the world in which in we live. His use of low humour shows that he wanted to reach regular people. And he certainly did that. His plays are timeless and still read five hundred years after the fact.

The legendary rapper Krs-One has admitted to using the same kind of technique. He is known as “The teacher” in hip-hop. He has some great messages in his songs. And he certainly reaches a lot of people but he doesn’t do it by preaching. He uses rap to draw people in that wouldn’t otherwise even want to hear his message. In fact, his first album cover has him holding a gun and even it’s title Criminal Minded drew in a certain audience. Krs-One then used the power of words to tell the truth as he saw it. And people listened and took it in, whether they care to admit it or not. He remains a popular artist twenty years later as well.

Some people might think it disrespectful to be talking about these two brilliant minds in the same breath. I don’t think it is. They both used the popular form of entertainment for their day to get a message across. The messages may be hidden in their art and people may not choose to take anything away from them other than a good play or a good song, but it is still there.

I might be accused of reading too much into the quote above. People will say that it is simply a metaphor and nothing more. They will argue up and down that we can’t just be characters in a story. It sounds implausible and it raises tonnes of questions and objections. And while that may be true, it doesn’t rule out my theory that we are all characters in a story.

More Storied Thursdays to Come.

If It Weren’t For…

My life has been shaped by seemingly small things. I have often pondered all the “If it weren’t for…” moments in my life.

For example, I love being a teacher. It’s a great job and it feels like I was meant to be one. The strange thing is that I never would’ve become a teacher if it weren’t for…

Boy Scouts

I was involved in Scouts for most of my life and moved up through the ranks as a youth member. One year, I went to sign up for Rovers but no one else did. My friends from the previous year had all moved away for university. I had no such plans.

I stood around at registration night trying to figure out what to do. I could go to another group in a different part of the city to continue. I seriously thought about doing that. As I was waiting around hoping someone else might sign up so that I wouldn’t have to move groups, it turned out that one of the leaders wouldn’t be returning. The group committee chairman was very nervous because they were signing up kids to a program that had no leader.

I didn’t have to think very long. I had never really thought about being a leader before that moment. I was young, but old enough to lead a group. I had been in the organization my whole life and had known the chairman for the past ten years. So I told him I would like to lead the group. He supported me.

I lead the group for about two years before my uncle got married.

My new aunt

One day, I was talking to my new aunt, who just happened to be a teacher. We were trading stories about her kids and I was telling her about my scout group. It was a nice conversation. We had so much in common. And then came the one small comment.

My aunt said, “You know what? You’d make a really good teacher.”

I had never thought about being a teacher before that comment. But after she said it, it echoed in my brain. A light went off and I knew what I wanted to do. It felt right. I now had a career path.

My Epiphany

So that’s how two seemingly small things helped to shape my life and give me my career. This isn’t the only “If it weren’t for…” moment in my life either. It seems to me like things happen for a reason. It’s one of the reasons why I believe that in this life there are no small things.

Never Think PT 2

So I was reading a collection of essays last week and I highlighted this passage.

“Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself to even think while you walk. But divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far . . . .”

I immediately thought about the act of running. Instead of a book, I thought of the music player and headphones that I often see runners sporting. I have never understood the need to have music with you on a run. I think that running is beautiful and that it is a great time to relax the mind.

If Thomas Jefferson had been a runner in the modern world, the quote very likely would have read, “The object of running is to relax the mind. You should never think of bringing any music with you. There is plenty of music surrounding you, if only you pay attention.”

And of course, that’s pretty much how I read that original quote. It’s amazing how we bring our own experiences and understandings into what we read. But I don’t think I’ve stretched his original idea much. Running and walking are very similar activities. I know that going for a run is a great way to clear my mind.

I often come back from a run with a fresh perspective on something. Running can give me good ideas for my writing, or a solution to problem I had in the classroom. It can give me creative ideas. And often, I’m not sure where the ideas come from because I try not to think and just enjoy the run.

So I might not be able to turn off my thinking completely, but sometimes I find myself totally in the moment. Those times are amazing. The beauty of nature and the landscape around me when I run is better than any music I could bring with me. It’s beautiful.

That’s why I don’t understand why people shut the world off around them but blaring music into their ears. I think running should be free of MP3 players. I think it is the best possible exercise because anyone can do it with little or no money involved. And it definitely relaxes the mind. That is, if you can allow yourself to “Never Think.”

– original quotation comes from Jefferson, Thomas, Develop an Honest Heart. in Constructing a Life Philosophy: Opposing Viewpoints, 2002.

Never Think

As you know, I like to collect quotations. Often when I am reading, I stop at a passage that speaks to me and underline it. If it’s a library book, I keep a paper bookmark where I can write down something short and simple so that when I finish the book, I can go back and record the quote in my computer Commonplace Book file.

I have been sharing my collection daily over at Thoughtful Cacophony. I hope you’ve had a chance to visit my sister blog. It’s coming along nicely.

Over the past few weeks, I have been toggling back and forth between a novel and a couple works of non-fiction. One of the books was a collection of essays from a variety of authors. The book was entitled Constructing a Life Philosophy.

This what my paper bookmark looked like after I had finished reading

pg 43 “Life’s Purpose” quote
pg 181 3rd P. “Never Think…” – blog about running w/o music
pg 205 2nd P. “I would like to say that man should live for loving, for understanding, and for creating.”
pg 206 2nd P. “True Love…”
pg 209 1st & Last P

I find that I can make little notes like this as I read and it doesn’t take away from my reading. I used to just read a book without pausing to take any notes and then I tried to go back and find a thought that stuck with me. I’d often lose it or be unable to find it again with just a cursory search. I would then have to reread the entire book or just move on. Often I did the latter and never recorded that tidbit of wisdom.

I like this system I have developed. I get to enjoy a book and take notes as I go. When I am done with it, I then comb through the book and collect my favourite passages. Sometimes these even inspire a blog post. The first passage I took from this book has already inspired a post and the second passage made me immediately think of another one. You can see my thought process there, and tomorrow you will see that blog post, “Never Think Pt 2.” Stay tuned.

One Story

Some people believe that there is truly only one story. This story is told over and over again but it is essentially the same story all the time. Sure the settings and characters change. The details change enough that we can have an unlimited amount of stories based all on this one theme.

“The Quest.”

Robert McKee explains this in words better than I can. He writes, “For better or worse, an event throws a character’s life out of balance, arousing in him the conscious and/or unconscious desire for that which he feels will restore balance, launching him on a Quest for his object of Desire against forces of antagonism (inner, personal, extra-personal). This is story in a nutshell.”

There are many times in our lives when we are thrown off balance. As such, our life is a collection of stories. We tell stories of our travels, our triumphs, our heartaches, and our struggles. Our lives could be written out in one long narrative as well. So if our lives are essentially story and that there is really only one story. It brings me back to my thesis that story is the nature of reality.

We tend to think science can give us the answers to the ultimate question. But science will always fail us. Science theories are being thrown out and replaced daily. And what is a scientific theory but a story? It’s a great story and it offers us a lot of insight into the world. But once again, it does so through story. The theory of evolution is but a story after all.

Mathematics tries to give us answers about the nature of reality as well. But an equation is also basically a story. Mathematics can be beautiful and I admire a lot of what we have discovered about math. Yet, like science, there always seems to be more to discover.

Mathematicians and Scientists are always on a quest to learn more about the nature of the universe. As such, I think it is safe to assume that both of these disciplines are, in fact, story. There is one story and that story is everywhere. Story must then be the nature of reality.

More Storied Thursdays to come
(I know it’s a day late this week but that was because of Bloggers Unite Day)

A Marshmallow Term


Today bloggers everywhere will be writing posts on the topic of human rights. It is such a broad term with so many different interpretations. As such, I wasn’t sure how to tackle this subject until I caught Mark Steyn on The Hour last week. He called human rights a marshmallow term. I have to agree with him. He had a lot of good things to say about how we need to behave to live in this modern-day multicultural age.

Steyn believes that we need to learn how to develop a thicker skin. He says that he sees stuff all the time that offends him. The key to living in this day and age is to develop an insensitivity. I wholeheartedly believe that we all need to do this.

A good case in point is the lighted sign that used to adorn the Hamilton Escarpment every Christmas. This sign was put up every single year for as long as I could remember. The sign was simple and read “Merry Christmas.” For many people this was a great sign of the season. They enjoyed seeing the sign lighting up the mountain, as we call it in the city.

Of course, this simple sign became a matter of some controversy years ago. People claimed that the sign showed an intolerance for other religions. The city bowed into the complaints and changed the sign to read “Season Greetings.”

I don’t think people should have been so offended at a sign. I don’t think it should have become a controversy. And I think the city has lost something here. Season Greetings doesn’t really mean anything. And it doesn’t show that we are sensitive to other religions. It just shows that we can’t celebrate Christianity on any sort of a wide scale.

I would not be offended to see a sign celebrating a holy day for any religion. I think that we really need to choose our battles. We can’t let everything offend us so easily. I am tired of people being outraged at something everyday.
I realize that there are some serious problems in the world that need to be addressed. But there are many problems that simply aren’t problems. If we all let things slide that we could let slide, maybe the world would be a better place. In fact, I’m sure it would be.

Parents Need to Act to Like It

I’ve been working with kids for a long time and I’ve seen some things that make me want to cry. It really hurts to see a kid put in the middle of a battle between parents. The kids are used to fuel the battle or hurt the other parent. Sometimes the kids aren’t even given a thought. I’m sure if they were, the parents wouldn’t carry on as they do. I think it’s time for all parents to start acting like parents.

I realize that relationships often fail for a variety of reasons. This may be inevitable. Not all relationships are going to work. But parents have a huge responsibility. They need to push past any pain and hurt they have towards their former partner. They need to realize that children need their parents and they don’t need any drama between them.

So, I am appealing to all parents right now. If you are going through a divorce, please stop and think about all the things that it entails. You might be hurt. You might want to get back at your former partner. I can understand that feeling, and it’s okay to feel that way. But for the sake of your children, it is not okay to act that way.

You loved your spouse once. You had to. Think back to that moment. Feel it again. And if your spouse is making it hard for you to remember that, do it anyway. Hold on to an old memory that you have. Keep it close to your heart. And be the bigger person.

Parents that are no longer together are still parents. Children need their parents. And yeah, it is unfair that you are forced to have a relationship with your ex for the rest of your life. But grow up. Manage this responsibility. Your children need you both. As such, you should be able to be civil and friendly with each other. It might be difficult. You may have to bite your tongue. But you can do it. Think of all that is at stake.

If you are a parent, be a parent. Act like one. And let the children enjoy both of their parents with no hostility in the way. It’s the right thing to do.

Fuel For Our Bodies

I think it is absolutely ridiculous that we are even considering putting food sources into our gas tanks. There are starving people in the world. We should be growing crops to help feed people. Biofuels just don’t make sense.

There are current food shortages in the world. The prices of food staples have been rising. This could be related to the pressure to come up with alternative fuel sources. It is more profitable to grow crops to be used for fuel than it used to sell those same crops for food. We need to do something about this.

Instead of subsidies being offered to those willing to grow food products to be used for fuel, we should be offering them incentives to grow food for human consumption.

I think the current fear mongering is creating new problems. It seems like everyday the media is trying to scare us about something. People are trying desperately to change things just for the sake of change. And while I agree that we need to do some to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, it is obviously clear that biofuels are not the answer. They are creating more problems than they are solving. People need to wake up to this fact and come up with something else.

If we are going to use food products for fuel, it should only be waste. Remember Doc Brown’s modification to the Delorean in Back to the future? That’s what we need. Oh yeah, and I’m still waiting for hoverboards too.

iDon’t

Media formats change, that’s a given. I’ve gone though quite a few different formats in my short life and I am sure this process will continue for some time.

Video wise; I have moved from the Beta to a VCR to a DVD player.

Music wise; I have moved from record albums to cassette tapes to CDs to MP3s.

This last format for media is very different from all the others. Beta tapes could be played on any machine. It didn’t matter what company manufactured the machine, you could play the tapes on it. Same goes for VCRs, and DVD players. If you had a movie and you could find a machine you could play it. Everyone seemed to own a VCR and a DVD player. This was convenient and made a lot of sense. In fact, this is still the case with BluRay.

When it comes to music, the same thing happened. Any record could be played on any record player. Any cassette tape could be played on any cassette deck. And any CD could be played on any CD player.

So why do we have MP3 files that can only play on certain players? I don’t know why people put up with this. I will not buy an Apple or an Ipod for this reason. I think that digital music files should work the same way was all the other media formats I mentioned. If I own a song in MP3 format, I should be able to play it on any player anywhere.

Of course, Ipods don’t work this way. Songs bought on iTunes can only be played on iPod players. I think we need to demand one standard format for music files. MP3 players shouldn’t be so restricted. There are alternatives to iPods but people seem to be happy buying them. They are nice machines; I will admit that. But functionality leaves something to be desired. That’s why iDon’t and iWon’t own one.

Let’s demand a standard digital format for music. We deserve it.

Running Club

I started up a running club this week. I was hoping to get kids at my school excited about running.

I tried it last year but didn’t have much success with it. I wanted it to be something that everyone could come out to. I designed a small loop in which we could run laps around the schoolyard. This way kids from any grade could run and we could all be together. It seemed like a good idea. But the students weren’t excited or motivated to run. Some would come out but they would give up after only a lap or two. I tried it for two months, hoping that interest would pick up, but it didn’t.

This year I knew that I needed to make a major change to get the kids interested in running. I thought back to when I got excited about running. It was middle school. I remember the teacher there designed about a half dozen different courses around the schoolyard. He made a map and drew the courses out. He gave them clever names such as The Brown Breezer and The Blue Blazer. I remember how much fun I used to have running those courses.

So I borrowed his idea and made up eight courses. I designed courses that range for 100 metres all the way up to a kilometer. I drew up a nice colour-coded map and gave each course a catchy name. I had to name one of them “The Brown Breezer” in tribute to my old cross-country coach and gym teacher.

The Running Club meets after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The first day this week, I had a modest eight runners. But they were all excited about the courses and wanted to tackle the longest one right away. We had a good first meet.

Last night however, I had 20 runners come out. It was great. I couldn’t believe that I had gotten such a good turn out. I had Grade 2 students all the way up to Grade 8 students running.

I think having the courses with set distances and keeping track of time is what the students really need to stay motivated from the starting line to the finish.

It was so great to have that many kids running last night. It was the highpoint of my week. I hope this is the start of a new era for my school.

In The Beginning There Was Story

According to the Gospel of John, in the beginning there was The Word and The Word was good.

What does John mean by “The Word?”

Some people have chosen to interpret The Word as just a metaphor for God. They equate The Word with God as if they are synonymous. I think John was trying to illustrate a truth here. Many of us seemed to have missed the point.

In the beginning there was the word or story. Story is the start of time. I believe that stories have been told long before human beings even learned how to talk. We have always told stories. The most primitive humans probably traced patterns into the sand to tell their stories. The probably used gesture and sound effects in their storytelling.

I believe that story transcends time. Any story ever written stands outside of time. We can open a book randomly to any page and start reading, and the action in that part of the story, is happening in the here and now. As we read it, it is happening. This is true for period pieces that take place in the past or science fiction that takes place in the future.

A few other authors have tried to explain this connection between story and our perception of time. Shakespeare wrote that the world is but a stage and that we are all actors who play our role. He goes on to tell his audience that we all play many roles in our lives. It is a beautiful metaphor. But taken a step further, it means that we are all characters in a large story. A story that includes everything and everytime.

These two authors are highly regarded in our time. The Bible and the collective works of Shakespeare are the two most widely read works in our time. The both touch on the importance of story. Both of these works have managed to transcend time as well. I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think we need to read critically and see what these authors were trying to tell us.

In the beginning, there was story. Story is happening right now and it is always happening. Story is the nature of reality. Everything is story. A few writers have known this for years. We need to listen to them.

Check out the label on the sidebar to read all my posts on Story. And then surf over to Thoughtful Cacophony to read the excellent quotations I have collected about this topic from a wide variety of sources. Thanks for joining me on Storied Thursdays.

Spread The Net

I bought a mosquito net today. It only cost $10.00 and hopefully it will save a life. It is a small thing that everyone can do.

People die everyday from Malaria caused by mosquito bites. A simple bed net can make a big difference. The nets bought from this website are sent to sub-Sahara Africa. The organization’s goal is to 500,000 bed nets.

We are lucky to live where we live and have access to all sorts of medical supplies and drugs to deal with any problems that arise from an insect bite or sting. Children in Africa don’t have the resources we have. A bed net is a simple thing that will have huge impact on their lives.

Rick Mercer promoted this organization on his show this year and there have been ads on TV for a few weeks now. Children die every single day from something as simple as a mosquito bite. It isn’t right. And we can do something about it.

I bought a net today. It’s a small thing but small things can make a huge difference. So much so that I don’t believe that there are any small things.

Go to spreadthenet.org to help out too.

The Best Comic Books


In response to a comment from last week’s post on comics, I have compiled a short list of comics that are definitely worth reading. Many of these titles can be found at your public library in the Graphic Novel section. This is how I discovered many of these titles.

Watchmen by Allan Moore and Dave Gibbons

This graphic novel revolutionized the comics industry. It showed the real human side of superheroes and told a serious story that dealt with mature subject matter. It was the first graphic novel to ever win a Hugo award for fiction. It is a classic.

Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

Every male mammal on earth mysterious dies. There are only two exceptions, a man named Yorick and his pet monkey.

It sounds like a crazy premise but it is extremely well written and drawn. This is a series that I discovered at the library. It always seems to be signed out and I have to wait to find the issues that I need.

Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris

Another great series by the phenomenal writer Brian K. Vaughan. This one deals with a superhero who speaks to machines. He is able to thwart the plans of the terrorists on September 11th and prevents the second tower from toppling. He then retires and becomes mayor. It is a mature series and meant for adult readers.

Rising Stars by J. Michael Straczynski

There are several graphic novels in this series and they are all superb. The story predates television’s Heroes but has the same kind of feel. It is set in a very real world in which just happen to be some people with special abilities. These people are called “Specials” and the story deals with how society reacts to them and how they grow and decide to use their powers.

Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski

Another great series by Straczynski. He weaves a complex tale that is part metaphor and part real life journey for the character. It deals in the supernatural or metaphysical world and what happens to people who are forgotten. It is a great read.

Bone by Jeff Smith

This is a fun series. It is the first one of my list that I would recommend for children and adults alike.

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Frank Miller is a legend in comics. This is his dark take on Batman. It is brilliant!

Crisis on Infinite Earths by Marv Wolfman and George Perez

This graphic novel is a crossover special. Pretty much every single character in the DC universe is in it. This was DC Comics attempt at bringing all their characters into one universe. It tidied up storylines and timelines. There have been several other crisis books over the years as well.

Daredevil Yellow by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

A retelling of Daredevil’s origin. The character was first introduced in 1964 and at that time he had a yellow costume. This story makes the yellow costume make sense and explains how he came to wear the traditional red costume we associate the character with today. I love this story. This is a great origin story, even better than the original or Frank Miller’s retelling. It’s a must have in any comic collection.

More to Come
I hope you find this very short list useful. These are just a few of my favourite comics. I hope to write about some more titles here in the future. There are now comics to suit any genre or taste. You might be surprised at what you find in this medium that often gets overlooked. Many of these books I would like to file in the literature section of the library. They tell great stories and are superbly written. Go check them out.

First Draft Done

I finished the first draft of my novel last week. It clocks in at 233 pages and is 76,305 words long. I was aiming for 80,000 – 100,000 words so I came pretty close. When I write, I let the story just come out naturally. It’s like a journey and I can tell when the journey is nearing its end. Sticking to a rigid word count goal would’ve hurt the story. The story has been told and the ending is perfect. I hope.

It felt so great to type “The End.” It was a high that I can’t really explain. It just feels amazing to have spent so long on a piece of work and to see it come to completion.

Of course, this story isn’t done yet. I know that. I need to go back, edit it and revise it. And I will do that, but first I will take a break from it. I always do this with my work. Whenever I finish writing something, I take a little break, and then move on to another project. I can then go back to the story with fresh eyes. This allows me to see problems with it and fix mistakes a whole lot easier.

I’ve worked on it in one way, shape, or form for a year now. I started it last summer with a one-page typed intro. I didn’t really think the idea was good enough at that point and didn’t go any further with it. I thought about it a lot because it was a story that had some potential in it. I just didn’t know where it was going to go.

In January, I came up with a name for the character and wrote out a rough scene where he was talking to his roommate. I had more of a direction with the story at that point but still didn’t know exactly where it was going to go. But I sat down and started typing anyway. And the amazing thing is that the story revealed itself to me one piece at a time. I wrote almost everyday for the past four months. And slowly but surely, it came together.

And now it is done. It feels amazing to have completed it. It is my longest and most ambitious project to date. The only difference now is that prior to me finishing any of my other works, I always had an idea for the next book. Right now, I have nothing. I think I’ll need some time to recharge. Maybe writing is like running a marathon and I just need to take it easy for a while before the next big event. Who knows? All I know is that it feels damn good.