The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, March 27, 2008


by Tricia Dower


  1. Send story to writing group
  2. Incorporate latest critiques into revisions
  3. Study allegorical conventions
  4. Research weather symbolism
  5. Write bedroom scene
  6. Buy snacks


  1. Rent chairs for launch
  2. Set website go-live date
  3. Confirm time for Calgary reading
  4. Set up reading in Kelowna
  5. Develop talking points for media interviews
  6. Buy snacks

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Purple and the Plain

by Andrew Tibbetts

Writers work hard to communicate. I’ve spent weeks on a penultimate draft toying with a few word alternatives, picking the one with the best set of (barely there) connotations. I have spent laborious hours putting a comma in a sentence and pulling it out again (it sounds more sexual than it is,) weighing the minute differences in flow and atmosphere. You need a fine grained mind and patience- a mind fine-grained enough to note the dizzying repercussions to the reader when you introduce the main character’s home as “a big, red house,” “a gigantic, brick-red building” or “a scarlet mansion”- and patience enough to keep searching until you get to “sore-looking homestead” three days later. The goal of all of it is to pack the most meaning into the fewest words. That’s the mark of literature. Ordinary chit-chat rambles, full of filler words, awkward constructions, pointless repetition and babble. Try to read a verbatim transcript of something if you don’t believe me. Literature is language both boiled down to its essence and spilling over with extra riches.

Some writers do more of the boiling down- they maximize meaning by minimizing word count. Pulp writers with literary punch like Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy pop words into you like slugs from a .44. A couple’ll do it. Back of the head. No fuss, no bother. A literary hero like Hemingway did battle with the flowery overstuffed sentences of Victorian prose, using the tactics of newspaper journalism, to pare down to the bone. Style shapers like Shrunk and White advocated efficient clean prose. Editors like Gordon Lish took a giant blue pencil to early drafts of Raymond Carver stories crossing out everything but the most evocative minimum.

Other writers take more of the generous enrichment approach- using rarer words, and shaping phrases on the basis of the musicality of the language and not just on the basis of obvious logic. Literary giants like Marcel Proust and James Joyce can take a page to describe a nibble, aiming to say everything that can be said on the subject, attuned to all the connotations and the most fleeting of sensory and cognitive phenomena. A sentence in John Hawke can pile up imagery like a car crash deliberately overwhelming the reader to create an experience beyond the transition of information. This second kind of meaning making is less rarely praised, but recently I stumbled across a great article by Paul West, provocatively titled, In Defence of Purple Prose.

As a reader I like to vacillate between the two. I can admire a book with scalpel sharp prose and also a book with sentences that meander enthusiastically through roiling sensation and philosophy. If I have too much of one I tend to reach for the other. Beside my bed is a stack of books waiting to be read that is like a pas de deux of the purple and the plain: John ("For me, everything depends on language.") Hawkes’ “The Blood Oranges”, George (“You know you have a beautiful sentence, cut it. Every time I find such a thing in one of my novels it is to be cut.”) Simenon’s “Maigret in New York”, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, James Ellroy’s “The Cold Six Thousand”, William Gass’s “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country,” Mark Twain, Marcel Proust, Dashiell Hammet, Rilke…

As I writer I vacillate as well. Sometimes in the same story. Take out one-third of the words for the second draft- chop, chop, chop. And then give in to the temptation to let a single sentence run like a tracking shot through an entire neighbourhood.

I sometimes wonder if there’s a happy medium. The central section of Anne Carson’s “Autobiography of Red” is the closest I’ve found. It is a novel ‘in verse’. It seems at once brutally economical and generously lyrical. And in its prose I found the model I strive for in my writing. Yet, whenever I try to copy it, I fail miserably. But I tell you: such pleasure!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Workshop notes: IV - Performance anxiety, revisited

By Tamara Lee

This is the fourth of a series of posts reflecting upon a writing workshop I am taking with Nancy Lee. Click here for the first, second, and third segments.

Here we are on the other side of halfway through the workshop, and I’m feeling anxious. This is not a reflection of the workshop, exactly, which has been both informative and often encouraging. My feeling, Doc, seems to be a reflection of my own ‘blocks’ and projections.

From what I can self-diagnose, I’m recalling years of workshop experiences, where I felt ill prepared, uncertain, and subsequently uninspired. The next sub will be my last for the class, and so it feels necessary to ‘make it good,’ whatever the hell that means. Perhaps I want the sub to be so ‘good’ it’s near bullet proof, or perhaps I want to ‘make it count,' to feel as though I’m somehow challenging myself. Maybe it’s something else.

I have a sense, though, I’m not the only one in the group feeling this way, since those who are also on their last sub appear to be stretching their creative selves, trying new genres or voices on for size. As for me, I’m loath to hand in anything I have, a familiar state of mind since I always manage to bear down for complete disappointment about mid-way through workshops.

It’s occurred to me that perhaps I'm experiencing something Nancy mentioned recently about characterization: Find the dualism in the character, then scene by scene push-pull him so that the reader feels she likes the character in one scene, then in the next she feels uncertain how she feels about the character.

Enthusiastic after last class, I headed to my favourite café and wrote for nearly two hours. I went about the rest of the day in high spirits, fully expecting the next writing session to be a breeze. But the following day, as I tried to manipulate the plot, clean up the awkward sentences, and otherwise rebuild Pompeii, I found myself wondering: How is it we can continue to learn and not-learn over and over again? We can be instructed how to tell an effective story, be reminded how to challenge ourselves to tell a better story, and then we completely forget it all once we’re at home, facing down a deadline that feels like a pending performance?

I closed my laptop in disgust and haven’t revisited the piece of shite since. Instead I surfed, in search of inspiration or commiseration.

In his essay “Writers and Mentors”, Rick Moody describes his undergrad experience studying with, among others, Angela Carter at Brown:

I felt not only that I grew as a writer but that I improved as a person… I read every book she told me to read… In fact, I did more or less whatever Carter told me to do… I don't think that Carter, if she were still alive, would admit to having mentored me—to having explained to me how to live a little bit, and how to act like a writer, instead of merely dreaming of being one. But she did all these things, regardless of how much or how little work I turned in, or how bad the work was.

Moody goes on to describe the competitive pressures he then felt while pursuing his MFA at Columbia, and the ultimately disappointing ‘creative writing by committee’ style of workshops he encountered.

This kind of push-pull depiction of workshops has been my experience, also. But I can’t blame the workshops I’ve taken over the last few years—which have mostly followed this model—or the instructors, or my fellow workshoppers. It's something else that has me here/not-here.

In what I’m starting to think of as an 11th-hour epiphany, I know I’ll revisit the sloppy work I liked well enough a couple of weeks ago, and it still will be in ruins. From it, though, I will extract a crucial find: that the push-pull of characterization in fiction writing is not merely author manipulation, but a manifestation of a writer’s character growth as well.

(Image credit, 'The Entrance to Pompeii': Lucy in London)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cultural Workers of the World Unite!

by Tricia Dower

I attended the opening reception of Victoria’s recent Pacific Festival of the Book. One of the speakers was from the BC Council of the Arts and she used a term I had never heard before: cultural industry. According to her, she spends much of her time convincing the BC government that the cultural industry here employs more workers than any other industry and is as worthy of investment as any widget-making enterprise.

Cultural workers may not make a lot of money, but we spend it—hopping planes, ferries, and buses to attend workshops and readings and book signings. And don’t forget the librarians (cultural workers, all) who may stop for double doubles on their way to work and pop out for egg salad sandwiches at noon. (I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that this unionized group of cultural industry workers has been away from work for close to a month due to a lock-out. Victoria is library deficient these days, and egg salad sandwich sales are despondently down.) Another speaker told us there are more writers per capita in Victoria than in any other Canadian city. “You can’t go outside without spitting on a writer,” he said.

I sat on my uncomfortable metal folding chair, picturing a mob of cultural industry workers, wearing babushkas on account of all the spitting, fists raised to the sky, demanding government grants.

When I got home I googled “cultural industry” and found that it was first used in a book called Dialectic of Enlightenment written in 1947 by German philosophers Theodor Odorno and Max Horkheimer. 1947! I am so behind the times. They actually came up with a theory that roughly says popular culture produces commodities that manipulate the masses into passivity. (Not my book, surely!) That the cultural industry cultivates false needs – those that are created and satisfied by capitalism. True needs are intangibles like freedom and creativity. Odormo and Horkheimer posited that the cultural industry serves the “ideological role of perpetuating the capitalist ethos.” That it never permits enough challenging material on the market to disturb the status quo. Heavy stuff, and there’s a whole lot more to what they wrote than I’ve summarized.

Anyway, a few days later, I caught the inaugural program of an arts collective program on CFUV, hosted by Brian Mason. (Every Monday from 1 – 2 P.m., Pacific Time, on the Internet at CFUV.) He interviewed Wendy Morton who MCs a weekly poetry night at Victoria’s Black Stilt Cafe. Her claim to fame is finding corporate sponsors for her own poetry. Before WestJet flew to as many places as they do today, she called them up and proposed reading poems for passengers and writing poems for them in exchange for flights. They said yes and she became WestJet’s Poet of the Skies. She parlayed that honorific into numerous other deals over the years: car rentals, face creams, cameras, hotel rooms, vitamins. I was put to shame. When Colin asked two days ago if we were still out of peppercorns, I had to admit I hadn’t yet found a peppercorn sponsor.

Wendy has a vision of poetry being part of mainstream culture. Part of the cultural industry, the status quo. Corporate logos all over our babushkas. It gives me pause. I want to be “successful” as translated into book sales. But I also want to find readers who will engage with the issues I highlight in my stories, such as human trafficking, bride kidnapping, domestic violence, and sexual politics. But to get published, someone has to think your book will sell. So, if Inanna thinks my book will sell, does that mean I’ve written a cultural industry commodity destined to lull the masses into apathy?

I don't want to think about it. Hand me the clicker.

Images: Top: Poet John Stettler being poemed by fellow cultural industry worker Wendy Morton on October 5, 2007 in Victoria, British Columbia during Random Acts of Poetry Week. (Photo from Wendy's website) Right: Erstwhile cultural workers in revolutionary babushkas?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Tried to Organize Freedom, How Scandinavian of Me

As far as writing goes, nothing that’s ever worked for me has worked twice. I keep having to rediscover how to do it. For example: last time I went off my attention-deficit meds I wrote four stories in a whirlwind day and a half, one good enough to get published. So when I had a week off work last week, I tried it again. Two or three craggy little sentences! That’s it. And you should see my apartment! It was messy before. Now it’s a public health menace. But, as of Sunday, I’m back on meds and tidying up as you read this (probably) (or not) (most likely ‘not’). Another example: once I took my laptop down to the laundry room and wrote up a storm. The next few times I tried it-- Nothing. I have begun to think it’s the expectation of writing that makes my writing shy away from me. It needs to take me by surprise! Oh well. As long as it keeps taking me.
P.S. The title of this post is a line from a song by Bjork! Brownie points for guessing which one.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Life is probably as it should be. As sad and difficult as that may be, at times, to understand and accept, it’s as true and right and unquestionable as anything else. Life is at it should be. You reach a certain age, and you begin to wonder how come you never paid attention before, why you never noticed that with each change of season, your life becomes less and less about living, and more and more about something else. It’s like that silly song my children loved at bedtime. They never knew I had a difficult time singing it. The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah… They’d giggle at my grossness… the littlest one stopped to pick her nose, hurrah, hurrah, but they had no clue my inflections were tinged with sadness. I always wondered why they didn’t get it. What were they hearing? Did they think the ants would send a rescue team back through the forest looking for the ones left behind? But I guess life really is as it should be. They’ll probably sing the same song to their children, wincing in the soft glow of a nite lite as the song marches on and on. This, for me, has been a season for saying goodbye to a generation of people who, in passing on, are bringing to the surface so much of what I thought I’d ignored as a child. With each goodbye, I feel myself stooping over under the weight of an understanding that doesn’t really make me a smarter person, just more resigned, sadder, more in tune to the fact that my words will probably come back to haunt my children when it’ll be their turn to see that, yup, life is probably as it should be.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Whole Lot More Than Me

by Tricia Dower

I’m part of a promotional campaign called “Fiery First Fiction,” sponsored by publishers that market through The Literary Press Group - one of fourteen authors across Canada who are publishing first works of fiction. Seven of us are reading on May 12th in Toronto. Six others like me, you might assume: first book; wet between the ears; not sure what page to sign at a book signing.

Not quite. Talk about intimidating.

Chinese Knot (Tsar Publications) may be Lien Chao’s first work of fiction but it’s her sixth book. She’s published two volumes of poetry, a creative memoir, and a book of literary criticism. She has co-edited an anthology of contemporary Chinese Canadian fiction, and she’s got a Ph.D. I imagine she’ll be able to find her way to the podium.

Nathan Whitlock (A Week of This, ECW Press) is the review editor of Quill & Quire. He has an honest to goodness agent and a website with a much more dramatic photo than my jacket shot. Plus, he’s won two emerging artist awards.

Claudia Dey’s website has even more dramatic photos, including one in a bowler hat. (I have a Mao hat from a trip to China in 1996 and a Toronto Bluejay cap with bells on it. Where’s the camera?) Although Stunt (Coach House Books) is her first novel, Dey writes the “Group Therapy” column for the Globe and Mail and three of her plays have been widely produced.

Former lawyer and English teacher, Shari Lapeña, is at work on her second novel. She’ll read from Things Go Flying (Brindle & Glass Publishing). She won the Globe and Mail’s Great Toronto Literary Project contest in 2004.

The Sherpa and Other Fictions (Sumach Press) is Nila Gupta’s first short story collection but she has film and video credits. She won the Ontario Arts Council K.M. Hunter Award for Literature in 2004 and is working on her MFA.

Pamela Stewart, whose short story collection Elysium seems to be her first book, might be as green as I am. (Not a photo or web site to be found.) However the twenty years she spent as a private investigator makes her tons more interesting.

So how does a boring, literary slug muster the courage to appear in a line-up like that? I mean what’s interesting about thirty years in the corporate minefields? And, I’ve been writing fiction for a mere six years. I can only hope they skip the introductions. With seven of us, we have only a few minutes each, so if I’m painfully inadequate in comparison, no one will suffer too long. The really good thing for those of you who show up to hear me read is you’re gonna get a whole lot more than me.

Reading on May 12, 2008, at the Victory Café, 581 Markham Street, Toronto (clockwise from far left): Claudia Dey, Tricia Dower, Nathan Whitlock, Lien Chao, Nila Gupta, and Shari Lapeña. (Pamela Stewart not pictured.) The party starts at 6:30 p.m., with readings beginning at around 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Esme Distroboto-ing in Illustrated Form

I found this drawing of my daughter Esme's yesterday while cleaning off my desk. At first, I didn't know what exactly it was a drawing of, then I saw that the teacher had so kindly dated it, January 24, the day after Esme and I'd gone art collecting at one of Montreal's Distroboto machines. I wonder what the teacher made of it!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Workshop notes - III: Turning points

By Tamara Lee

In real life, the things that stress us out or possibly alter us are a result of going into a situation expecting one thing but getting something completely different. In fiction, we use this expectation/unexpected-result model to create tension. Without it, there’s not much to keep us reading.

There I stood, lost in the push-pull ritual of bookstore closing time vacuuming.
This week Nancy reminded us of this basic story-writing principle. Referred once again to Robert McKee’s Story—and his insistence that turning points shouldn’t be merely worked into the ends of one of three acts—we were also reminded that although a short story may do just fine with two or three, in novel writing, writers underestimate how many turning points are needed.

A thunk and swack heard above the motor; I turned off the vaccum, prepared to inform yet another yuppie that the ‘Closed’ sign was indeed meant for everyone.
Instead, great stories usually have some kind of turning point in every scene: the turn could be moving the scene from positive to negative or vice-versa; or taking the reader somewhere very different from the beginning of that scene. Playing not only with reader’s expectations, but with character’s as well will heighten the tension in the story.

I rounded the New Releases book display to stand face-to-torso with a kid in baggy jeans, wearing a ski mask and holding a gun.
Nancy mentioned some of the best contemporary fiction writers—including Lorrie Moore and Rick Moody—are able to achieve this effect within one sentence.

So I had a quick look at some Lorrie Moore examples online, and now I'm really excited to explore not only how she's done it, but how I might be able to do it in the mess that is my current manuscript.

Below are some great Moore examples, taking the reader from one place to an entirely different one within a single sentence:

They are a kind of seafood, he thinks, locked tightly in the skull, like shelled creatures in the dark caves of the ocean, sprung suddenly free and killed by light; they've grown clammy with shelter, fortressed vulnerability, dreamy night.

~ an excerpt taken from Who Will Run the Frog Hospital (1994)

The ring (supposedly gold, though now that everything he had ever received from Marilyn had been thrown into doubt, who knew?) cinched the blowsy fat of his finger, which had grown twistedly around it like a fucking happy challah.

The menu, like love, was full of delicate, gruesome things—cheeks, tongues, thymus glands.

~ from ‘Debarking'

Friday, March 07, 2008

If this is boring, blame David McG.

Last night I went to my first-ever writing workshop: "Make 'em laugh: The art of comedy writing," with instructor, writer and funny guy, David McGimpsey. There was a lot of talk about how to balance your life with your writing, which made me realize that this is no longer even the question for me. I’m more concerned with balancing my writing with my writing. I’m starting to feel a little overburdened by projects. Will I ever get my short story in order for next week’s reading at the Yellow Door? Will I find time to fulfill my for-profit duties as a provider of original online content? What about those books I’m supposed to be reading for review? And a shower, maybe some food? It's past noon and I'm still in my housecoat. I rolled out of bed and headed straight for my computer. I'd like to say that this was unusual, but cutting back on personal hygiene seems like the best way for me to make more writing time. No one complains if I'm looking grim, or at least, not to my face.

I'd tell you more about the workshop, but I need the time to do my homework. I'm supposed to write a joke, with a set-up, a punchline, and an act-out. I keep getting stuck on the act-out, though, which means that I can think of jokes, but I can’t develop them. I feel as though I just discovered a hidden disability. Here's hoping that my condition will respond to treatment, and quickly! The next class is in six days.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Upsydowns of a Newbie Author

by Tricia Dower

Down: When I tell people I have a book coming out, they usually smile and say, “Good for you,” or words to that effect. Not so the owner of a café I approached about holding the book launch there. “We don’t have much success with book launches,” he said. “Nobody shows up.” I told him I expected to attract a lot of people and he said, “Send me an e-mail.” Their site says: you can use this form to contact us via email, but we don't check it often.

Up: Not to worry. I found a better spot. One where I won’t have to compete with the latte machine.

Down: The publisher suggested I find a bookstore to handle sales at the event, so I visited my favourite independent bookstore in Victoria – a landmark, almost a shrine – and met with the store manager. He greeted me with the wary look some reserve for Jehovah’s Witnesses. I offered him my glorious opportunity and he turned it down. He said he’d order a few copies of my book because I’m local, but “the books have to earn their shelf space.” I spoke with the event manager of my next favourite independent bookstore who said it was unlikely they’d do it because they recently lost an outside sales person. I resisted the urge to say, “How careless of you.”

Up: “Let’s sell them ourselves,” said Madeline Sonik, the author I’m launching with, and that’s exactly what we’ll do. Her book of poems, Stone Sightings, comes out the same time as my short story collection, Silent Girl. The glowingly-reviewed and accomplished Madeline is a “vet,” having published three books and co-edited three anthologies already. The indignities are just beginning, she told me. “Wait ‘til you see your book on a Christmas sale table for 99 cents.”

How does one get ready for that? When I was a kid, I used to mentally prepare for as many negative events as I could. I’d imagine the deaths of people I loved. (My death was always the most tragic.) I’d manufacture hateful words others might say or picture the obstacles they could throw in my path. The idea was to be mentally tough and not show emotion when any of these things happened. To show emotion (thereby giving away how much you cared and giving someone even more ways to hurt you) was the absolute worst thing I could imagine.

As I got older, I became less interested in appearing invulnerable than in stopping bad things from happening to me. I tried the New Age creative visualization technique. You know, by visualizing something, you attract it to you. Heck, even Oprah Winfrey says she does it. I can’t prove it works, but I do believe that it’s hard to succeed unless you expect to. So, if you see me with my eyes closed and I’m not asleep, I'm visualizing nothing but Ups: brilliant reviews, big turnouts at readings, books flying off the shelves, Silent Girl recommended for Oprah’s book club. Why not?

Images: exterior and interior views of the University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Gallery and Café, on the corner of Yates and Broad, downtown Victoria. Madeline Sonik and I will launch our new books there on May 9th.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Late Bloomer Not Bitter, Not at All, Not at All

by Andrew Tibbetts

I think it’s great that I came to fiction writing later in life. Of course it bugs me when another sixteen-year-old wins the governor-general’s award, or when I see on the newsstand Granta’s special issue, ‘Best Young Novelists Under Twenty-Three’ sitting pretty beside the New Yorker’s ‘Geriatric Fiction’ issue featuring ancient writers in their thirties. But since that happens only every other week, I’m mostly fine.

The good thing about turning to fiction after you’ve done all those other things is that you have all-those-other-things to write about. For example, I had a job in a donut shop once, making donuts. I could, if I wanted, write a novel set in a donut shop. I have the inside track. I’m hip to the milieu. I’ve got the scoop, the drop, the paradiddly-do. I made that last term up.

Also, I have a lifetime of reading behind me. So, it’s doubtful I’d experiment with a novel full of footnotes because I’ve read things full of footnotes and I know what it’s like to read something full of footnotes. Even worse: endnotes. (okay, so far, my novel is set in a donut shop and it doesn’t have footnotes or endnotes!)

Also, I know some other art forms. I studied music before I studied literature. I have a whole slew of forms I can pilfer from the one for the other. For example, the rondo form. It’s often used in classical music for a quick movement to end things with a bang. The form is ABACA, in its simplest version: i.e., you alternate repetitions of one material with episodes of different materials. In my donut shop novel, I could alternate scenes in the donut shop with scenes featuring what the various other characters get up to in their home lives. A common variation on the rondo form, is the arc-rondo. In this piece, the contrasting episodes are reprised in reverse order: ABACABA is the simplest. So for example, in my donut shop novel, we alternate donut shop scenes with the manager at home, the donut maker at home, a customer at home, the donut maker at home again and the manager at home again. See the shape! It’s very musical. (One of the things musical forms do is provide shape for abstract materials. If I’m going to write my donut shop novel in realistic mode, I’ll need something to help shape the material in lieu of hard-driven plot.)

I also studied theatre before literature. So, I could approach each scene in my novel like an actor, making sure to have the juicy dramatic things in there to help crank up the scenes. For example, an actor always thinks of ‘the moment before’ so that their character enters a scene already in the middle of something. In my donut shop novel, for example, my customer enters and sits down and the scene begins with a bit of chit-chat with the manager. Because I’ve been an actor, I’d think “where am I coming from?”- I’m not sure all writers think about things like that. Maybe they do. But, there are thousands of other examples I could give you about how thinking like an actor will help you develop characters. Only, I don’t want you to write novels as interesting as mine. (After all, I’m ancient. I only have a few more decades to make my mark.)

So, in my donut shop novel the customer enters wiping tears from her eyes, the manager quickly tucks some kind of postcard into her pocket and from the back room the donut maker hangs up the phone saying “I told you not to call here” and we’re off to a jolly start.

I don't have youth and beauty to thank for this but rather my advanced years and thrilling life experience. Stay tuned!

(donut courtest of

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Movie Rant

(like moviefone only different)

by Steve Gajadhar

And the Oscar for best visual effects goes to…

It doesn’t really matter. At least not to me. I think special effects have gone to the dogs, or more precisely, to computers and computer graphics (CG).

When we sit down in a theater – or open a book for that matter – we enter into a tacit agreement with the creators: we agree to believe everything we are told or shown, and they agree to create a believable world. Part of this believable world lies in its internal logic, and part of it, a big part in my opinion, lies in the visual effects. Take Spider-Man for example. Here we have a web and wit slinging dork capable of superhuman feats of strength and agility, all possible because he was bitten by a radioactive spider. At this point my credulity is stretching like the fabric of Spidey’s suit, yet I want to believe Spider-Man is possible. I want to see Spider-Man do whatever a spider can and spin a web of any size. Instead, I get to watch obvious CG images stitched over real backgrounds and I can’t help but feel underwhelmed and incredulous. Sure, Spider-Man was based on a comic book and the cartoony imagery contained therein, but it was also marketed and $old as a blockbuster for general consumption. If I wanted to consume animation I’d rent Ratatouille or dig out my old comics.

At some point I hope movie makers remember the power that good visual effects can have and stop using CG for everything that might be tricky to model, or hard to miniaturize. Use CG to augment, to highlight. Use CG as one brush out of many, instead of the paint roller it is becoming. CG is here to stay, and rightfully so, but I’m getting tired of the special effects being one of the first post-movie topics of discussion. Get the effects right, and that talk will shift to the story.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Nether here, nor there

by Antonios Maltezos

Trying to write a blog, a blog/essay, actually, on the spot -- you’re already several hours into your post day -- is nearly impossible for me to do. Had this been more of a laid back conversational affair, it might be easier coming up with a post this late hour. But let’s face it, my fellow CWCers have written some brilliant stuff over these last couple of years. You can’t pretend they were never written, They’re always there at the back of your mind, telling you that if you slack, the difference between your post and theirs will be so great - as to be great, as in this post was one of those memorable moments at the CWC, great meaning a heapum pile of crap that day, the lowest of the low moments.

Their topics are so diverse, the issues so pressing, for the most part -- very relevant to be sure, that I can’t help thinking they have something I don’t. I’m not saying I’m dumb, or anything, just that I know my limitations. If you categorize everybody’s posts, mine would be the fluff that collects between the wall and the side of the dryer. Phtt! It’s true.

Truth is, I’ve gotten to know these people in the last couple of years on an intellectual and emotional level. That’s how you figure people’s smarts. You add these two together and divide by two. I had no idea who they were when I signed up for this blog. I started off with the assumption they were all like me. How untrue.

We’re not like best friends, or even long friendships, but we do share something special together, maybe not too exciting, but special anyway. We’ve been able to share our way of thinking with each other. We’ve been intimate in that way, knowing that our closest readers, ourselves, would get a clear picture of who we are after hundreds of posts. We share a trust, that we each of us accept our differences to the point where they don’t exist anymore. It’s awesome! We never fight. We’re always supportive of each other. We always listen, never judge. It’s a little side-reality. My fellow CWCers will understand and forgive me for this post that goes neither here nor there, that it’s the best I can do at the moment.