Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Zombie Ate My Homework

(Again, written last year but posted only now.)

Mark Kingwell, Globe and Mail column, September 15, 2007:
Or take the recent spate of updated zombie movies, such as Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later or Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake. In contrast to the original George Romero classics, these films feature the so-called fast zombie, which can move with the speed of a cheetah and materialize in seconds to begin a feast of the victim's brains.

Josh Levin,, March 24, 2004:
It wasn't long ago that the cinematic undead obeyed the first law of corpse locomotion: A zombie might bleed on you, bite you, or rip out your ribcage, but wouldn't beat you in the 40-yard dash. Along with the Dawn remake, this new breed of souped-up zombie has appeared in recent movies like 28 Days Later (2002), Resident Evil (2002), and House of the Dead (2003). Why, all of a sudden, are the walking dead in such a rush? (link)

A good trend is like the undead, forever among us.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Will Ferguson, Ferguson Refrigeration

Will Ferguson has a short piece in the current issue of the Walrus (link). It is funny and well-written. It also serves as a free ad for his new novel. Ferguson does this sort of thing quite often, and it used to bother me tremendously. Specifically, he wrote an exceedingly irritating and self-serving piece in the Globe a few years ago, berating Canadians for not being clever enough to appreciate his crappy debut novel.

But when I read his Walrus piece, I realized that Will Ferguson is in the Will Ferguson business, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop him. In his defense, perhaps Canadian authors should learn from his self-promotional abilities.

But what really helped me remain calm was four simple words: Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration. If you’ve seen The Office, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And once you realize Bob Vance and Will Ferguson are the same thing, it’s hard to stay mad at Ferguson’s cult of Ferguson.

NYT Vs. Karen Von Hahn

From the August 26, 2007 New York Times (Ten Things to Do Before This Article Is Finished by Alex Williams):
Evidence of the lists’ surging popularity is all around. The travel writer Patricia Schultz currently has two “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” books lodged on The New York Times paperback advice best-seller list, two in an avalanche of recent life-list books, like “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” and “101 Things to Do Before You Turn 40.”

In December, Warner Brothers will release Rob Reiner’s “Bucket List,” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as cancer patients who set out on a series of life-list adventures, including a Harley ride on the Great Wall of China.

Multiple life-list oriented social-networking Web sites have cropped up, inviting strangers to share their lists and offer mutual encouragement. Even Madison Avenue has chimed in. Visa is currently running a print campaign built around a checklist called “Things to Do While You’re Alive” (and credit-worthy, presumably).

From the September 15, 2007 Globe and Mail Style Section (1,001 things to buy before you die by Karen Von Hahn):
There are books, from Patricia Schultz's 1,000 Places to see Before You Die - which has been lodged for weeks on bestseller lists and is, rather off-puttingly for those about to board a plane, a current fixture in airport bookstores - to possibly 1,000 other BYD guides to getting the most out of your dwindling existence (things you must eat, movies to see ... perhaps someone should do a guide to the 1,000 things you should read BYD next).

The same ghoulish list-making has inspired a novel (The Next Thing on My List) and a Rob Reiner film called The Bucket List, about two terminally ill buddies, to be released to weepy, sugar-loaded audiences at Christmas. And, of course, there are Facebook applications: In My Life lets you "find people trying to reach the same goals in life as you ... anything from riding a polar bear to walking on water."

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: WE HAVE THE INTERNET HERE IN CANADA. Why is Von Hahn being paid a significant amount of money to badly recycle a much better article published in a much better newspaper? And why is it taking her two weeks to re-type said article?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Plug for My Journalism Course at UofT Starting Oct.1

Hello. I'm teaching The Freelance Writing Business this fall at UofT SCS. Monday nights, eight sessions, starting October 1. This course is designed to help writers make the transition into full or part-time work as a freelance writer. It's a mix of writing tips and business advice. Fun and practical.

Please visit for more info.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chatelaine Part 27

(This was supposed to be published months ago, but I did a draft and somehow forgot to post it. Enjoy my stale, stale jokes.)

In lieu of in-depth and thoughtful commentary about editor Sara Angel being removed from Chatelaine, I instead offer the following pair of Onion-style headlines. I realize that a fake news headline is the cheapest laugh out there, but I'm lazy and I'm tired of chewing on the fat of a dead horse:

• Chatelaine Masthead Now Printed on Dry-Erase Board

• Rogers Media Begins Exhaustive Search For New Chatelaine Editor to Hire, Fire.

I will say, however, that I found the latest issue of Chatelaine quite clever. In lieu of the Editor's letter (since there is no more editor) the magazine published a photograph of all the other editors at the magazine. As if to say, "Sure, we no longer have an editor-in-chief anymore, but we have plenty of editors, plural."


C’mon, Tell Us What You Really Think T.F.

From today’s Globe, a book review by T. F. Rigelhof about Michael Winter’s new book, The Architects Are Here:

'The novel can do simply everything," Henry James wrote under the heading, The Future of the Novel, more than 100 years ago. [...] What Henry James wrote then is worth remembering now when you read Michael Winter's The Architects Are Here, because this flamboyant gem of a novel is so wide-angled and crowded with dramatic incident that it's likely to stretch even an unusually generous reader's literate mind and loving heart beyond normal limits.

I think he likes the book. And, apparently, it will blow your mind. Like, literally. You've been warned.