Canadian Authors' Association Book Fair

BumblePuppy Press author Carl Dow will be signing copies of The Old Man's Last Sauna at the first annual Canadian Author's Association (Ottawa) Book Fest.

If you are in or near Ottawa, come out, meet Carl (and buy his book!) and browse all the other fine works on offer!

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Woe is Knee!

Woe is knee!

or

I blog the body (semi) athletic!


Young Geoffrey fails in daring prison escape seeks an opening during a soccer match at Carleton U's Raven's Field, summer 2013. Photo by the Phantom Photographer

How easily we forget physical pain; and a damned good thing, else our childhood's would be remembered as a litany burning fevers, snapped bones and flesh stripped away, like a carrot on a grater.

Ladies and gentlemen, last Sunday I skinned my knee — and I'm damned if it doesn't still hurt!

Actually, I didn't just skin my knee, I also got kicked in the hand during the same incident. Happily, the application of some ice took care of the latter assault in mere minutes.

Yes now, very nearly a full week later, the knee — alas! — still causes pain.

No, I didn't get into another fight, but just had a collision during a match playing the Beautiful Game. As some of you may remember, Young Geoffrey has taken up soccer (football) in his Late Youth and last Sunday saw me driving for the opposing team's goal, only to be tripped up at the last moment — and booted in the head for good measure.


Woe is knee! The patient, Day 3

The blow to the head left me not-quite wobbly, but definitely with the desire to leave the field for a time. The blood dripping from my knee (which wasn't top of my mind at the moment) made it mandatory in any case.

Fortunately (as it were) one of my team-mates had been dropped by an errant ball kicked from close range into her neck, so there was an ice-pack handy. I cradled myself thusly as I limped around the field to get get some rubbing alcohol and a bandage from one of the organizers (Ottawa Footy Sevens, an organization I am happy to link to).

On my way back to the field, someone warming up pointed to the pack and asked what had happened. "I think it was a knee!" I said and he laughed, "All right!"

And it was, though when I later told Raven about it, she didn't laugh, but only shook her headed worriedly. Sports, to those who don't play, must seem a form of utter lunacy. But I digress; it's my knee that's on my mind.

Or more to the point, what must be the evolutionarily advantageous fact that memories of physical pain are among the most disposable, least permanent, memories that we have.

Young Geoffrey huffs and puffs at Carleton U's Raven's Field, summer 2013. (Not Jade Inferno, but the team I played with during the summer.) Photo by the Phantom Photographer.

This skinned knee is not a serious injury, and it's one I'll wager most of us have experienced many times when we were kids. But it means that I'm re-growing a couple of layers of skin over a not-insubstantial area of my body and I'm damned if it doesn't hurt. New flesh doesn't much like to stretch or bend. And my wound has even gone so far as get a little infected, which adds to the discomfort — especially with the repeated doses of rubbing alcohol to which I'm subjecting it.

If you're like me, you're reading this and immediately thinking of someone who's suffered serious burns and what that must be like. And if you are really like me, you surely can't imagine that.

Physical pain slips as surely from our imagination as it does from our memory.

And thank god for that; otherwise, we'd be crippled by fear of pain before we reached the age of 10.

Since I'm not (too) worried about getting hurt on the pitch, despite currently still suffering some significant discomfort, I have every intention of heading out to to do battle again this afternoon, even if I have to limp on to the field to do it. (Once the adrenaline starts to flow, the pain will be forgotten for the duration, the plaints of my regenerating dermis drowned out by the thrill of the game.

Post-script, completely self-serving


Young Geoffrey, super-star (of sorts)

And speaking of the Beautiful Game itself, last fall saw me experience a joy I never had before: being part of a winning team. I had meant to post about it at the time, but waited for a team picture to arrive in my email — which it never did. Apparently no one ever got it, which I think a damned shame.

Over the course of a brief, 11-game schedule, Jade Inferno FC, which started as a group of randomly-assigned players (most — ahem — in their 20s and early 30s; yes, I'm proud. Actually, I am fucking thrilled that I am able to more or less keep up) slowly became a team.

By season's end we ranked in the middle of the pack but smoked our opponents in the first round of the playoffs. And suddenly we found ourselves playing a semi-final match, against a team that had beaten us twice during the season.

That game started poorly; our opponents scored 2 points before I even had a chance to take the field. But by the end of the first half, we were tied; and, after falling behind again in the second half, we tied the game again and took the lead for good with but a couple of minutes to go.

We fell upon each othe like mad people, giddy with the surprising pleasure of having ... well, not yet won but of way over-achieving.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was an awesome feeling.

And one not much deminished by the fact that we were smoked in the championship game, which ended with a score of something like 6-1 little more than an hour later. Silver really did feel like a victory.

My current team is not made of the same stuff. We're now 0-7, I think, with only 3 goals to our name. But that's okay. Winning is more fun, but simply playing is fun enough.

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March 2014

Woe is knee!

or

I blog the body (semi) athletic!


Young Geoffrey fails in daring prison escape seeks an opening during a soccer match at Carleton U's Raven's Field, summer 2013. Photo by the Phantom Photographer

March 8, 2014, OTTAWA — How easily we forget physical pain; and a damned good thing, else our childhood's would be remembered as a litany burning fevers, snapped bones and flesh stripped away, like a carrot on a grater.

Ladies and gentlemen, last Sunday I skinned my knee — and I'm damned if it doesn't still hurt!

Actually, I didn't just skin my knee, I also got kicked in the hand during the same incident. Happily, the application of some ice took care of the latter assault in mere minutes.

Yes now, very nearly a full week later, the knee — alas! — still causes pain.

Click here for the full story including — consider yourself warned! — one Not Safe For Dinner photo on the other side!

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'Steaming like raw meat dropped onto a hot stove'

The Departure, by Neal Asher, reviewed

Image: Cover of The Departure, by Neal Asher

March 3, 2014, OTTAWA — It's not news that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I have a soft spot for space opera; I confess, the big space base (which I initially mistook for a starship of some sort) adorning the cover of Neal Asher's novel, The Departure, helped sell me on it.

As it turned out though, The Departure hardly qualifies as space-opera and only squeaks by as science fiction pretty much the way Superman does: on technicalities only.

Though it's set in the future and some of the action takes place in orbit and on Mars, the book is really just a narrated first-person shooter dressed up in some SF tropes — a corrupt and incompetent world government, artificial intelligence, robotic weapons and a transhuman genesis.

But all that is only window-dressing. That spectacular cover is a gateway to lugubrious dialogue, sophomoric libertarian philosophy, hackneyed world-building and, especially, to one pornographic blood-bath after another.

The Departure is one of the worst books I have read in a very long time. More boring than Atlas Shrugged (which I reviewed a while back), it drips with just as much contempt for ordinary human beings. Unlike Rand's John Galt though, Asher's superman does much of his killing at first-hand.

Does this novel have any redeeming qualities? The short answer is "no". The long answer lives behind this link.

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January 2014

It's a mystery ...

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Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 7

 

The Time of the Doctor:

Fanboy's triumph, viewers' tragedy

 

Screenshot from 'The Time of the Doctor', Doctor Who copyright 2013 BBC

January 9, 2014, OTTAWA — I've said it before and will certainly say it again: there is a big danger in giving control of a venerable and much-loved popular fiction franchise to a writer who grew up reading or watching the stuff.

When a true fan takes the wheel of their beloved creation, it can become a toy, a gadget used to satisfy the writer's childish fantasies, not a vehicle for delivering stories to others.

The results tend to become ever-more convoluted and self-referential, leading to a slowly-dwindling audience of those hard-core fans who enjoy the nostalgic winks, the meta nods, while the general public starts to look elsewhere for its entertainment.

As for fans like me, who wants story and character to go along with the in-jokes and arcana, the result can be torture. We feel almost as if a person, someone we love, is being abused and yet helpless to do anything about it.

And so I keep watching (for those of you who have wondered): because I care, even though my caring has been so painful, so often, these past three years.

I'm sad to say that "The Time of the Doctor" was not what I was hoping to get for Christmas. Far from it. So be warned: My review is long, spoilerific, and laced with venom and vitriol (though also, I fancy, sweetened with a strong dose of pure Canadian maple syrup. And pictures. And arguably one paranoid fantasy).

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Ringing in the new year with a book signing!

January 8, 2014, OTTAWA — The BumblePuppy Press is holding its first event of the new year in Ottawa's Glebe at neighbourhood fixture Brittons Books! If you're in the area — or even the city! — come on down, meet Carl Dow and (of course) buy a copy of The Old Man's Last Sauna!

Carl (and I) would love to meet you there!

Click the image below for a larger size poster and full details.

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December 2013

Blogging Doctor Who, New Series 7

 

The Day of the Doctor:

Flawed redemption still a happy anniversary

 

Screenshot from 'The Day of the Doctor', Doctor Who copyright 2013 BBC

December 5, 2013, OTTAWA — It was 1978 or 1979. I was in grade 8 and quite liked my home-room teacher. Mr. Pritchard also liked me, the bright, nerdly kid who had made the school's "newspaper" his own, contributing articles, editorials, cartoons — and (yes) even reviews.

One afternoon after class, as I watched over the Gestetner machine chunking out its blue mimeo pages and Mr. Pritchard watched over me, I mentioned I was looking forward to Saturday, when another episode of Doctor Who, this British television program I'd recently discovered, was going to be broadcast, right before the hockey game.

Mr. Pritchard looked up and laughed, his moustache bristling his delight. "Really!" he said, "Is that still on the air? I used to watch it when I was your age!" He was probably about 30 then, meaning I had barely been born when he was my age!

Learning of that long continuity delighted me as much as — and maybe more than — it did Mr. Pritchard. And now that 15 years of the program's history has become 50, and my personal continuity with it is twice what my teacher's was, the fact that Doctor Who is still on the air delights me even more.

All of which makes me doubly-pleased that the program's 50th anniversary episode, "The Day of the Doctor", exceeded my (admittedly, low) expectations by a wide margin. While not without some significant flaws, Steven Moffat's long-awaited 2013 series finale (of sorts; the upcoming Christmas special will probably mark the real series end, as well as the transition to the next) was a well-crafted entertainment, that balanced humour, drama and nostalgia and, even, pathos, without getting bogged down by the Enormous Anniversariness of it all.

Though some nonsensical elements demonstrated yet again Moffat's tendency to confuse plot with story and maguffin with plot, structurally, "The Day of the Doctor" was a happy anniversary present for this jaded and weary viewer.

Certainly it was the most entertaining multi-Doctor special to come down the pike since, well, forever. I really did laugh and I really did cry, on both first and second viewings — and it's been quite a while since a Moffat-scripted episode of Doctor Who hit me like that.

As usual, my full review is liberal with spoilers. And yes, I spend quite a lot of time exploring those "significant flaws". If you don't want your pleasure challenged, I recommend staying away; if you want in read on click here for The Day of the Doctor: The Bad, the Good, and the Meta.

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