An Apology, an Update, Fifty Ideas that Could Have Been, and What is Still to Come

September 4, 2015

shrugHello again everyone,

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.

  1. 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?
  2. People who can’t believe it’s not butter are far too credulous. How can we exploit that?
  3. “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
  4. I joined a monthly writers’ group, and I’m enjoying it immensely. Here’s everything we are doing in embarrassing and excruciating detail…
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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%.
  9. 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…
  10. 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…
  11. 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!
  12. 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?
  13. 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…
  14. 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?
  15. 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?
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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…
  20. My local pub for four and a half years closed without warning. I am a Norm without his Cheers.
  21. 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.
  22. 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!
  23. 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!)
  24. Renting a cottage up north for a week with three professional chefs: Their slumming it is the best camping food I will ever eat.
  25. 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…
  26. 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?
  27. 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!)
  28. 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?
  29. They say everyone in my generation is likely to have five different careers before retirement. This is why I’m starting my third.
  30. 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!
  31. 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…
  32. 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?
  33. 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…
  34. 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…)
  35. 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.
  36. 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!)
  37. 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.
  38. 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!
  39. 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…)
  40. 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!)
  41. 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.
  42. Losing my religion: What no longer having a neighbourhood pub has done to my free time and my neighbourhood social network.
  43. 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.
  44. 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 opportunit, 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?
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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…
  50. 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!

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My (Belated) Favourite 13 Tweets of 2013 and 14 Tweets of 2014

May 4, 2015

twitterjailHello everyone!

So the last time I was active on this blog, it was an annual tradition of mine to pick out my favourite tweets of the previous year as my first post of the New Year. Here are the posts for 2010, 2011, and 2012, if you have the interest.

Anyway, as I mentioned in April, I am starting up this blog again after a two-year hiatus, and I suppose that means I should go through the archives of @faceintheblue to see what jumped out to me. I’m skipping over a lot of my fury and scorn and disbelief and despair over Toronto’s former mayor Rob Ford for the sake of making this post more interesting to a general audience. I have also adjusted my rules a little from previous summaries: I’m no longer trying to evenly separate my selections across the calendar year –if I had four great tweets in November, why not highlight all of them?– and I’m also adding more explanatory notes where some context will be helpful.

Anyway, here are my favourites of the last couple of years. Enjoy!

My Favourite 13 Tweets of 2013

January 1

I just asked a fellow where he was for the Year 2000 ball drop. “In prison.” I changed the subject. #NewYear

February 21

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” How do I become an arriving streetcar, Gandhi? It’s freezing out here! #Toronto

April 5

Okay, solid weather this morning, April. Good effort, nice hustle. Now give me ten laps and don’t you dare cool down or hit the showers!

June 13

Ah, buying beer from a corner store. Are you watching, Ontario? Did you note the lack of fire and brimstone smiting one of your citizens?

(I was in Colorado running a mining conference. On principle, I bought a six pack of local beer from a corner store, a luxury that will likely never be made available to me in my native province.)

August 2

Sometimes life’s stories don’t fit in 140 characters: Yada Yada Yada; Hide-a-key; Yada Yada Yada; I slept in a hallway last night.

September 7

The bouncer at a bar pointed out my driver’s license says I’m 170cm tall. I guess I was when I was 16? I’m over 190cm at 30. He bounced me.

November 1

Trapped in the elevator for 30 minutes with 5 coworkers and a mailman. I was THIS close to leading them in song to keep their spirits up.

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Starting this blog up again

April 19, 2015

Hello everyone,

bluedustydeskAfter a hiatus of more than two years, I have decided to get back into blogging. I don’t know how often I’ll update this site, but I have begun writing again in earnest, and this was always a great forum for me to change pace and work on something different.

When this blog was good, it was very good. The post about presidential knife-fighting became a runaway hit, with more than 300,000 views to date. I imagine I’ll try to do something equally hair-brained in the future if I ever hope to see those numbers again. I’m also delighted that so many readers of my two novels, Inca and Zulu, have come to this site to learn more about how and why I wrote them. You can definitely expect to see more of that, and hopefully my renewed enthusiasm for seeking our the elusive and possibly mythical third novel will offer much grist for the mill.

There are a few things that I did not do in 2009 through 2012 that I will likely do now: I can see this blog being a space for me to talk about current issues and events as I see them, and so moving forward I will not be so worried about the longevity and staying power of a piece. Better to write prolifically and have some content become stale than to sit idle for months for want of inspiration. I also suspect I will lean more towards many short posts rather than my more customary long and rambling essays. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, people start and stop blogs all the time. This was a longer break than I meant to do, but I was busy with other things in the last couple of years, and I have no regrets about how I spent my time. Now I am back, and hopefully we can have some fun with this.



My Favourite 12 Tweets of 2012

December 29, 2012

twitterHello again, everyone!

It’s been another great year, and I continue to enjoy Twitter –my account is @faceintheblue— beyond my wildest expectations: I’ve live tweeted political debates and playing tourist in foreign cities; I’ve complained about the weather and my distaste for shoe shopping; I’ve championed things I like and rubbished things I don’t; I’ve made new internet friends, and entertained some of the people I know in real life; most of all, I’ve killed time waiting for a bus, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.

A few years ago I started a tradition as New Year rolled around. I blogged my favourite 10 tweets of 2010 and my favourite 11 tweets of 2011. Now another year has come and gone, and my foray into micro-blogging continues to distract and amuse me in odd moments that I would otherwise have wasted while waiting for something to happen. As I did last year and the year before, I’ve put together my top twelve tweets of 2012. Here they are!

January 27th

Who decided to give the CP24 traffic cam guy the ability to draw arrows on the feed? “No kidding? The cars go that way? Top-notch analysis!”

February 6th

What happened to you, Monday? You used to be cool. (Don’t ask me to cite examples right now. That’s such a Monday thing to do.)

March 7th

Just watched a baby snatch a set of jingling keys out of her mother’s hand and hurl them the length of a city bus while Mom wailed, “Nyet!”

March 31st

“Sara Three Cats: That’s a great name for a pool shark,” I said to Sara Three Cats as she proceeded to hustle me.

April 18th

Sorry, I never do this, but my April morning is cold: Please send it back to the kitchen, and I’d like to speak to your manager. #Toronto

July 17th

I’m not an incompetent hyperbolic scientist, but I play one on Twitter: If my calculations are correct it’s a billion degrees out today!

July 21st

Random Thought: If plants had ‘the sex talk’ it would literally be about the birds and the bees. Practice safe pollination, saplings…

September 14th

I just saw a squirrel panic at my approach & try to bury a nut into interlocking brick. Conclusion? Winter is coming & squirrels’re idiots.

September 19th

Cooking a premade frozen pizza that promises, “No unpronounceable ingredients!” I am not reassured: I can pronounce lots of awful things…

October 11th

The new guy at work just asked if I stayed late last night. I did. He laughed and said, “Classic Geoff!” Not sure how I feel about that.

November 23rd

Walking through a mall, my buddy mocking all the Black Friday shoppers. Mid-sentence he stops, and now we’re shopping for luggage.

December 1st

I’m sitting next to Typhoid Mary –patient zero of an Irish Wedding that saw dozens fall ill– but she coughs into her elbow, so we’re cool.

– – –

My criteria for the top tweets has evolved this year: They need to be self-contained and stand-alone, flippant, and ideally people enjoyed them on my Facebook newsfeed as well. There were half a dozen more that could have made the cut if only this were 2018. Ah, well. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just mind find you get what you need. I look forward to continuing with it in 2013. All the best to you and yours in the New Year!

My Top 11 Tweets of 2011

January 8, 2012

Hello everyone!

Another year has come and gone, and my foray into micro-blogging continues to entertain and distract me in odd moments that I would otherwise spend staring into space waiting for a bus. As I promised this time last year, I’ve put together my top eleven tweets of 2011. Enjoy!

November 5, 2011

Sudden thought: Why is there a jail in Monopoly? I’m playing a capitalist with huge swaths of real estate. My kind don’t go to prison…

October 27, 2011

Lipton could bottle today’s weather and market it with a series of claymation parodies (it’s brisk, I guess is what I’m trying to say).

(For those of you who don’t get the reference, here’s some context.)

September 6, 2011

My reaction to the first day of school: “That will take care of all those troublesome kids.” I think I’m becoming a Scooby Doo villain.

August 28, 2011

Got my good deed for the day out of the way early (caught an escaped dog for an older lady). Now I can dedicate the rest of my day to evil.

August 21, 2011

I’m in a used bookstore. Along one wall are shelves for Religion and for Science. The bookcase between the two is labeled ‘Unexplained.’

June 4, 2011

Things you learn at 1 a.m.? Card-carrying communists bring tambourines to karaoke. Who knew?

April 24, 2011

Bachelor achievement unlocked: I have worn out my can opener.

March 28, 2011

Geoff of the Future? Buy cat food. The natives are getting restless. Sincerely, Geoff of the Past (your biggest fan!)

February 14, 2011

I like the word lampooning: It’s like harpooning without the attempted murder. You’re only stabbing someone with your words.

February 8, 2011

Okay Tuesday *rolls head left and right until a pop-click sounds from both directions* let’s dance!

January 8, 2011

Had some company over to see the new apartment. Best compliment? “Now there’s the television of a man who reads books!”

– – –

Anyway, I make no claims to any of this being great writing, but I have a lot of fun with Twitter, and I look forward to continuing with it in 2012. All the best to you and yours in the New Year!

My 100th Blog Post: Faceintheblue, 100,000 Readers and Counting

November 8, 2011

Hello everyone,

I started this blog on October 24, 2009, at the urging of a friend who has also dragged my reluctant self kicking and screaming into an appreciation of hip hop, Twitter, and e-publishing. Apparently, I owe him a great deal of thanks for his well-meant browbeating: This is my 100th post in a little over two years, and sometime early next week I can expect to welcome my 100,000th reader.

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable ride so far. I am still impressed with the number of people who run a Google search for ‘Guns used during the Great Depression.’  I remain less enthused at the lack of interest in my long and rambling annecdotes, but as those are the bread and butter of a personal blog I’ll keep putting them up as the spirit moves me. One day, someone is bound to enjoy them half as much as I do.

I marvel at some of the people I have met through this site. Thanks to my post about one of my ancestors founding the town of Kenmore, Ontario, I got in touch with a 102-year-old fourth-cousin four-times removed who helped me trace one branch of my family tree back to 1720s Scotland. My deep and abiding appreciation for the Beatles on Ukulele project has put me in contact with the organizers and some of the artists. I’m long overdue for a new post on that site, and I suppose I’ll have to set aside a Saturday this December to do it justice. I’ve also connected with several people whose fathers and grandfathers served with my grandfather, Murray Anderson, on the HMCS Drumheller during the Second World War.

There are a number of things I’ve been proud to share with you all over the last couple of years: My grandfather’s eulogy, the publishing of my first novel, my love of notable quotes, everything I know about dancing, how men feel about barbers, and just about anything I have to say about poetry. Your positive feedback has meant a great deal to me, and  I would like to encourage you all to add your comments whenever you like. I write for me, but I’m also writing for you, and I’m happy to produce more of what speaks to you, whether that’s Canadian history or Russian art or things I’ve eaten with my fingers. I’ll do what I can to give value for your visits.

Anyway, that’s the update from FaceInTheBlue 25 months in. It’s been fun so far. Thank you all for reading. As I said in my 1000th Tweet, “Without you, I’m just whistling in the dark.”

My Top 10 Twitter Tweets of 2010

December 31, 2010

Hello everyone!

I wish I had posted more this month: I’m afraid between my recent move into a glorious new apartment and killing my last netbook with a careless spill, this hasn’t been a blog-friendly December. Still, I have recently joined the 21st Century in acquiring a smartphone and creating a Twitter account. This foray into microblogging has been even more fun than I was told, so I thought I might mark the last day of 2010 with my Top 10 Tweets, out of a total of 260 so far.

To qualify, a post has to not be a retweet and not directed at any particular individual. I also narrowed down the finalists to cover all four months of my participation. I imagine this will be a much more difficult process in the future, and so you can look forward to a ‘Top 11 of 2011’ and a ‘Top 12 of 2012’ and so on until either this blog or my involvement in Twitter dies out.


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