Well, here I stand with metaphorical egg on my face. Back in April I made a rather bold promise to start this blog up again with at least some attempt at regularity, and I contributed an impressive total of three posts to the archives before the site went dark again for four months and more. Strictly speaking I suppose I owe anyone who actually follows this thing an apology, but in the bigger picture I’m guessing the majority of you are doing so because you enjoy my writing, so I’m going to temper my mea culpa with some exciting news: I have probably done more writing in the last five months than in the last five years. You haven’t seen it because it’s the first draft of my third novel, and even in the 21st Century by and large you don’t put lengthy excerpts of your first drafts online when you’re still figuring out what you’re doing with them –Fifty Shades of Grey notwithstanding.
So what am I going to do with this blog moving forward? I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. The trouble with writing for this thing is it takes me away from my next book(s), and in the grand scheme of things I’m going to be happier writing that than anything I write here. I guess the answer in the short term is this blog is returning to the back burner until I have a bad day with my big project while still feeling like puttering around with some ‘fun’ writing. Anyone who has ever suffered writers’ block is probably chortling at how often that’s ever going to come up.
Anyway, for the sake of demonstrating that I do think about this blog from time to time with some lingering guilt, here are fifty blog post ideas that I’ve kicked around in passing but will likely never get around to actually writing in full. Many of them were flippant, but some were deadly serious. I leave it to you to guess which is which. Have fun with that.
- Rob Ford is too sick to run for mayor of Toronto and lose, but he’s well enough to run for his old ward where he’s guaranteed to win. Where’s my pitchfork and torch?
- People who can’t believe it’s not butter are far too credulous. How can we exploit that?
- “Hey!” (Pronounced ‘Hay!’) “Straw’s cheaper. Grass is free!” and other conversations I had with my father as a child that I did not understand at the time but now fully intend to have with my own future children
- I joined a monthly writers’ group, and I’m enjoying it immensely. Here’s everything we are doing in embarrassing and excruciating detail…
- Johnny Cash’s 92nd album was called The Personal File. It’s all the stuff his record companies never let him put out when they called all the shots, and it is bloody brilliant!
- Everyone who waits in lines for rollercoasters should take a yo-yo with them and practice their skills while they wait. That’s a fad waiting to come back in a big way.
- You hate Windows 8? I hate Windows 8 too! We should hang out. A rant against Microsoft’s hubris with a nod to Mike Judge’s under-appreciated gem Idiocracy.
- Three years ago or so I reviewed 80% of an international art project producing weekly covers of the entire Beatles discography in various genres by almost 200 artists while always involving a ukulele. Here’s my thoughts on the last 20%.
- Writing is like riding a bicycle: You never really forget how to do it, but you also don’t tell anyone when you fall on your face after going back to it after a number of years without regular exercise…
- The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta is not a museum: It’s a place of focused and calculated propaganda, but it was all built around making people happy. Is that evil? I don’t know, but I’ve been drinking a lot more Coca-Cola products since spending three hours there in February…
- Bored of beer? Tell people you want to learn more about bourbon and watch the free bottles drift into your home on waves of good will!
- My barber retired –or he may have gone blind: The sign on his door was ambiguous. Is there still such a thing as a small-town barber in a big city like Toronto?
- John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight is a worthy successor to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It may even surpass it. Yes! I said it…
- The last two winters in Toronto were among the coldest in recorded history, so of course I was dating a woman from San Diego the whole time. Now that she and I have parted ways, can we please have one of those mild winters where the rest of Canada says we’re not really Canadian?
- The NDP just won a majority in Alberta. I’m not sure I can properly communicate how unlikely that is, and I have no idea what comes next. Shall we run through a few options together?
- I miss reading books for fun: Why researching historical fiction is sometimes a drag, and how to find the joy in reading a book an 80-year-old nerd wrote to impress his friends and torture undergrads.
- Al Gore guilt-tripped me into going without air conditioning in my home. Here’s why I only think about that for three weeks a year.
- Canada’s economy lives and dies by the commodity markets, and I can’t name you a commodity we have at the moment that isn’t in the middle of a once-in-a-generation slump. Let’s talk about BRIC countries in the current political and economic realities, and afterwards we’ll laugh that we did this on WordPress.
- Once upon a time no one had ever heard of Reddit. I suffer hipster-angst because I’ve been a daily visitor since before it was cool…
- My local pub for four and a half years closed without warning. I am a Norm without his Cheers.
- Hawksley Workman and The Weakerthans: My favourite Canadian artists who never made it in America, and are therefore still ours body and soul. Rush and The Tragically Hip are still awesome, as well. I’ll even include BNL too if you can ignore the break up.
- Life Hack: Skip spring cleaning and go out of town for a week in the summer. Let your mother use your apartment as base camp for a girl’s week in the city while you’re away. When you come back –in the immortal words of The Lego Movie—Everything is Awesome!
- Once upon a time my mother took me to church as a kid and then left me to make my own mind up. Later I went to church as an adult for a couple of years before I stopped. Here are the pros and cons of my ever going back again, and #7 will surprise you! (Buzzfeed and BusinessInsider, don’t you dare poach this off me without accreditation!)
- Renting a cottage up north for a week with three professional chefs: Their slumming it is the best camping food I will ever eat.
- Canadian craft beers and the lost recipes from the 1940s –Just kidding! I’m not going to write anything that involves research for a long while that doesn’t feed into my next book. Or could I make that a chapter? No, too niche…
- Once upon a time I put together a list of my 11 favourite writers of historical fiction, but I only blogged about four or five of them before life caught up with me. Now I can’t remember who the rest of the list was going to be, but I guess I’ll take a stab at it and bluff my way through?
- Now that I’m far enough into my thirties to lord it over my younger twenty-something self, here’s what that little punk didn’t understand about the world. (This is going to be good!)
- Hey, Canada? Now that we’re all pretty sure Jian Ghomeshi is a creep, can I still enjoy Moxy Früvous for what it was in the 1990s?
- They say everyone in my generation is likely to have five different careers before retirement. This is why I’m starting my third.
- I started off researching magic for an episode in a book I’m writing, and now I can’t stop watching Penn & Teller videos on YouTube. Send help!
- Since the last time I was single the online dating world has gone insane. Why does every woman have the same five pictures? There’s a group shot where you can’t tell whose profile it is, a shot of someone jumping on a beach silhouetted by the sun, another where she’s standing next to a hopefully sedated predator (ideally a tiger), a formal shot where her last boyfriend has a well-toned arm around her, and a tight headshot taken up almost entirely by face-hiding sunglasses. Did she write anything in her profile? Of course not…
- Mad Max: Fury Road is probably the best-realized action movie and chase movie of my generation. How many awards should it win, how many will it win, and what does that say about awards in the film industry?
- Dance like no one is watching works best when you are alone and no one is watching. Here’s a playlist, you knucklehead you! Be careful: There is a surprising amount of profanity that the neighbours might hear…
- Wait, we care about baseball in August? What the hell has happened to the Blue Jays for the first time in 22 years? (To be honest, I’m less interested in blogging about his than reading blogs about this…)
- The (almost certainly in-) complete song list of what I’ve done at karaoke joints in the last 13 years. Be gentle: It’s my 1000th-ish time.
- My grandmother just turned 90. Here’s an extensive list of the things she does, says, and believes. Number twelve is where she goes too far. (Again I’m watching you, Buzzfeed and BusinessInsider!)
- He called it a doorstop in the making: When your ballooning five-act novel should become a trilogy of three shorter novels, and how to put a positive spin on things.
- Then what happened? How a backyard BBQ in Scarborough was visited by an owl, a fox, a lemur, a tortoise, a kangaroo, and much more!
- Twitter just might be useless, but I love it all the same. Here’s why most people hate it, and why they’re wrong, wrong, wrong. (I’ll be devastated if that doesn’t fit into the arbitrary 140 characters…)
- My new job is one block from St. Lawrence Market. How long will I last before I just start buying oysters as part of my grocery shopping? #Toronto (That’s right! I use hashtags in blog post titles now. Welcome to the mid-Twenty-Tens my friend!)
- Persian Poetry: How possibly the whitest brown-haired boy you’ll ever meet accidentally became a fan of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi and Omar Khayyam.
- Losing my religion: What no longer having a neighbourhood pub has done to my free time and my neighbourhood social network.
- Every other blog is wrong: LinkedIn is not about finding a job; it’s about keeping track of people who move from job to job to job over the course of their careers.
- As a young man my best friend said only little kids wear ball caps. He wears ball caps all the time now. Should I call him a hypocrite at my soonest opportunity, or document his countless selfies for a while and save up his hypocrisy for some kind of wedding reception or awards ceremony speech slideshow that might be many years off yet?
- Working with people who care about sports: A bluffer’s guide to having a two- to five-minute anecdote for any conversation about athletics and then artfully allowing your compatriots to take over all further dialogue until they change the subject.
- Slow cooking in August: A masochist for steaming appliances can still make a pretty amazing stew in the middle of summer for a few dollars’ worth of ingredients.
- The Canadian National Exhibition in the 21st Century: How the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers remember The Ex, and why today’s Toronto should nod patiently as they’re talking while still having our own fun after they’re done.
- So my sister and my parents are going to live in the same city for the first time in a dozen years: A tutorial in creating new excuses not to visit the small town you grew up in as narrated by your host, Geoff Micks.
- Can we clone Bill Burr and train the two Bill Burrs to box one another with the winner immediately delivering a half-hour of new material over the prone figure of his vanquished foe? Because that would gross more that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight…
- A sentence-by-sentence breakdown of James Joyce’s immortal ‘surely no one will ever put up with this nonsense’ classic Ulysses, because of course I am both a fan and have so much time on my hands that I’m happy to do the leg-work for everyone else’s final essay. Also my sarcasm has been known to burn small children in close proximity without the benefit of goggles and gauntlets. Let’s be honest: No one is reading Ulysses for fun. Rise up, young men and women! If you all say the Emperor wears no clothes, maybe the English Literature department of your local post-secondary institutions will finally turtle up and move on to something that isn’t an Irishman’s equivalent of MTV’s Punk’d for the Lost Generation. Bonus points if your professor published an unappreciated (read: awful) gem when he was in his twenties that you can pick apart instead!
In all seriousness, I’m good. My life is going in the direction I want for it to go. My friends and family are doing well. I just started a new job of my own choosing with people I know and love. I expect to be producing a trilogy of books in the next year and a half. I don’t know when I’m going to circle back to this blog again, but follow me on Twitter if you want to keep closer tabs on me. In the meantime, take no news as good news.