Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

September 20, 2006

And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor

The Parliament Writers' Group will hold its annual reading Monday, October 16, 6:30-8:00 p.m. I'll tantalize you with a teaser from my mystic/autistic travelogue while my friends regale you with poetry, mystery, memoir, kid lit, and much more. Refreshments provided. Location: Community Room (2nd floor), Parliament Library, 269 Gerrard Street East.

Come hear us read!

September 04, 2006

Welcome to the People's Republic of Hyperbole

Please check your brain at the door. Other than the sound of my jaw hitting the floor, I offer the following without comment:

SYDNEY, Australia—An obesity pandemic threatens to overwhelm health systems around the globe with illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, experts at an international conference warned yesterday. "This insidious, creeping pandemic of obesity is now engulfing the entire world," Paul Zimmet, chairman of the meeting of more than 2,500 experts and health officials, said in a speech opening the week-long International Congress on Obesity. "It's as big a threat as global warming and bird flu."

[ audience roars ]

"Thank you. Thank you so much. You're too kind. So, a monk, a rabbi, and an obesity expert walk into this bar ... "

The full article can be found here.

Writers at Work

I've been most encouraged of late by the accomplishments of my friends. Our writers' group has now produced its second book, The Strictest School in the World. The esteemed Howard Whitehouse—who, need I remind you, does all his own stunts—has crafted a hilarious tale about a Victorian schoolgirl's struggle to build her own flying machine. While the story enchants the pre-teen in your life, the Pythonesque humour is sure to keep you in stitches. At no additional cost, you also get to imbibe the gorgeous illustrations of Bill Slavin. All told, it's a rollicking ride, and it doesn't stop there: look for Book Two, The Faceless Fiend, next year! (And what's that sound in the distance? But of course—it's the gallery chanting, "We want Bogbrush!")

While you're at it, check out Simon Leigh's novel Wild Women, the first tome to emerge from our happy collective. A racy account of an Australian couple's move to Canada, Simon writes with wit, elegance, and panache, proving that reading about a New Brunswick winter beats the pants off living through it. (Oh, and if you get the chance, come hear the man read his work. He's got Professor Butts nailed to a T ... right down to the Aussie accent!)

As the holiday season approaches, do keep these fine works of fiction in mind for the word lover in your life. (And if you don't know any, hey—what better way to convert someone?)

Love of Labour

Now that I no longer work in education (hooray!), I can relax and enjoy Labour Day. I'm watching the Edmonton-Calgary game on my four-inch black-and-white TV, taping the Blue Jays on the radio, and anticipating tonight's main event: the Argo-Ticat tilt at Ivor Wynne.

Hamilton has been pathetic all season, but on Labour Day, stats and standings are tossed out the window. No matter what their record, the Cats always get up for this one. I was thinking of going, but couldn't afford it this year. A win for the Scullers would vault our heroes into second place in the East. Arrrr-gooos! As a bonus, this game is likely to feature a piece of history: Toronto QB Damon Allen is poised to become pro football's all-time leading passer. That's not just Canadian Football, folks; we're talking CFL, NFL, any football league in the universe.

In the bigger picture, Labour Day is the fulcrum between summer and fall. I love this time of year. The cooler temperatures are always welcome, but I'm especially anticipating this fall. As autumn's leaves give way to the first snow, my book comes ever closer to completion. The third draft is going well after a painfully slow start. This trudging through quicksand was hardly unexpected: I've known for months that the early chapters—written before I knew how to write—would need major surgery.

Happily, things are looking up in Chapter 4. I've gone from neurosurgeon to triage nurse to hospital orderly. Now and then, I have to fetch the odd bandage for the patient, but mostly, he's fine. A few more rough spots await—Chapter 7, for instance, calls for a delicate switch in viewpoint—but I'm through the worst of it.