I’ve been a fan of the work from Studio Ghibli ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studio_Ghibli ) for years.  The director mostly associated with Ghibli is Hayao Miyazaki.  But, other directors have made films there.  One of them is Isao Takahata, a friend of Miyazaki’s and also a founder of Studio Ghibli. Recently, I watched his 2013 film, The Tale of Princess Kaguya ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2576852/ ).

The movie is an adaptation of an old Japanese folktale, so it is fine for all audiences.  The style of the animation is fluid with the feel of how the original animator first drew the characters and the scenes.  It is a joy to watch and I highly recommend it.

I found myself sketching after the film and one of the things I drew is the cartoon you see below.  In keeping with the spirit of the film, I’m leaving it as I first drew it.  Normally, I would clean it up, use the computer to caption it and maybe add some colour.

Half-Ply Toilet Paper is the employee's worst nightmare.

As for the inspiration for the “half-ply” joke, it comes in part from a story from Ryerson University.  A journalism student at the school discovered that Ryerson has a “two-tier” toilet paper system: most of the school gets one-ply while some get the plushier two-ply.  While school officials may be embarassed, they can take comfort in knowing their journalism program is effective.  ( http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/10/30/ryersons-two-tier-toilet-paper-system-exposed.html )  Another part is from all these stories of cut-backs and austerity and weird work situations.

My first post back from my sabbatical pretty much reflected my attitude after seeing some bad human behaviour.  This post, on the other hand, gives me a chance to pay tribute to some excellent human beings.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the event that allowed these people to shine was a negative one.

A week ago today, my mother became very ill.  I was with her in dowtown Toronto, just about to drive her home when she felt weak.  She sat down and I ran to get the car (to either take her home or to a hospital).  Just as I returned, she fainted, hitting her head on the pavement.  And that is when some strangers and health professionals stepped up and made a great impression on me and my mother.

Except for the doctor and a nurse at the hospital, I don’t know the names of these people, but I would like to thank them nonetheless. So a big thank you to:
– the woman who offered a granola bar when my mom was feeling weak.
– the woman who called 911 for me, allowing me to comfort my mother.
– the pysiotherapist (ex-paramedic) who remembered his paramedic training and even put his coat under my mother so she wouldn’t be cold.
– the med student who came to help (I’m sure you will be compassionate health practitioner when you graduate).
– the fire fighters who were at the scene quickly.
– the paramedics who were also at the scene quickly, who hadn’t had lunch (it was 4:30pm) and wouldn’t be able to eat for another hour.  Thank you also for your positive attitude and professionalism.
– the staff in the parking garage for their compassion.
– the hospital staff and especially the doctor and the nurses who were thorough, calm and caring.
Bless you all for what you did and who you are.  My family will always be grateful.

There were times it seemed like my mother would die that day. She is better now, although she is still a little weak. These kind of events have the power to refocus you.  It did with me — I continue to appreciate good people more and do what I can to be one of them.

Thank you for dropping by. I wish you good health and happiness.

When I decided to take a hiatus from my blog, it was primarily so I could make progress on a number of projects that I had begun but I was having trouble finishing. I made some progress on all them.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the last two and half months have been wasted dealing with someone that I shouldn’t even have to speak to.  The positive result of this misadventure is that I have become more grateful for the good things and the good people in my life.

I thought about writing about what happened, but I’ve come to the conlusion that the specifics don’t matter much.  Everyone has a story about a person, or people, that have made their lives difficult. I’m grateful that this person isn’t part of my circle of friends or family. People who have to deal with a terrible family member have it worse than me. I’m also grateful that there may be a solution soon.

Besides being thankful, I’ve become more practical when it comes to dealing with other people.  To those who have good hearts and are trying to do their best, I’ve become even nicer.  So, if you are a bank teller, a service associate, or a coworker, I’m even more likely to mention your good work to your boss or on a survey.  (I did that before, but I’m doing it even more now.)

If you are a sneaky, greedy person, I have no respect for you.  I may chose to leave you to God, Karma or whatever system will apply justice or I may excercise my right to prevent you from screwing over an innocent person.  Too many good people have been bullied for too long.  And, if you do get ahead, I have seen many instances when those victories are short-lived or balanced with negative events, so there is no need for stress.

It sounds simple, but I know it isn’t.  People are often complicated and irrational.  That’s OK.  I’ve also learned (or relearned) to be humble in my expectations.  Like I said before, I’m grateful for the good things and the good people in my life.  Thank you for stopping by.

Imagine you own a humble shop in a big city.  What product or service you sell isn’t important.  The point is that it is your shop, you run it your way and it keeps you happy.  You don’t have a lot of customers, but that’s OK.  You don’t have high expectations for your shop and your customers probably don’t have high expectations either.

One day, you can’t open the shop because you need to do some work on your car.  The next day, your sister needs a hand.  After that, there is that course you should have taken when you were much younger.  Opportunities and challenges are multiplying.  You get through a bunch of them and then head back to your shop.  And that’s when you think, “I should have put an ‘On Vacation’ sign up!”  Your palm hits your forehead, but you aren’t any smarter for it.

I hate the expression, “Do less to do more”, but that’s where I am right now. I’m not complaining, I’m fortunate to be where I am.  Until I can get through a few more projects this summer and fall, I won’t be able to operate my humble blog the way I would like.  I’m going to try to make some time to read other blogs (something I also enjoy) and I might get in a few quick posts, but nowhere near all the ideas I have.

Have a great summer (or winter) and thanks for dropping by!

The basic idea of the Secret Miracle is that 54 writers were asked questions about how they wrote. The questions and answers were grouped into 7 chapters:
1. Reading and Influences
2. Getting Started
3. Structure and Plot
4. Character and Scene
5. Writing
6. Revision
7. The End

The follwing are some of the questions:
What do you look for in a novel?
Has being a novelist changed the way you read novels?  Has it changed the way that you appreciate or interact with art generally?
What was the trigger for your last novel?
Do you do any research before you begin writing? If so, do you find it helpful, or does it constrain your imagination?
How much do you know about the plot of a novel before you begin?
How polished do you try to make the prose in a first draft?
What is most distracting for you?  How do you deal with it?
Do you write in sequence?
How do you get to know your characters?
When/how do you show a draft to your trusted readers?
What makes for a successful conclusion to a novel?

While it is obvious that this book is meant to be read by writers, it is also interesting as a general look into the creative process.  The range of answers and the reasons behind them are fascinating.  The question and answer format makes it a book that can picked up and put down at the reader’s convenience.  (I like these kind of books when I am busy, but still need to satisfy my need to read.)

Title: The Secret Miracle
Sub-Title: The Novelist’s Handbook
Editor: Daniel Alarcon
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Copyright: 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8714-7

I’m not a technophobe, but I have been slow to get into e-books.  No particular reason, mostly because I still find a lot to read in traditionally printed books, especially the non-fiction I have had to read recently.  So, for various reasons, my first e-book purchase was the children’s book “Doug the Dung Beetle: The Long Roll Home” by Martina Zeitler.

This book is a fun way to introduce a child to dung beetles — not in a stale, factual way, but through a story. The full colour illustrations are wonderful and the text is delightful.  While some may be squeamish when it comes to why dung beetles are called dung beetles, to most it will be interesting and to all it will be memorable!

By the way, if you want more from the talented Martina Zeitler, check out her website: http://justoutsidetheboxcartoon.com/ .

Title: Doug the Dung Beetle: The Long Roll Home
Author and Illustrator: Martina Zeitler
Imprint: Smashwords Edition
Copyright: 2013
ISBN: 9781301773398
Website:http://justoutsidetheboxcartoon.com/ .
Kobo Link: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/doug-the-dung-beetle-the-long-roll-home

PS I purchased the book through Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA  The experience was excellent. I had no problems at all; everything was simple and straightforward.  I would recommend using Kobo, too.

I learned something recently:  “Don’t be so quick to judge.”  I know, I’m a slow learner.  Technically, I learned this lesson a long time ago. What I actually did was apply it to another situation.

A short while ago I was in a car accident.  Luckily, neither I or any of the other people involved were hurt.  The cars were another story.  The funny thing is that to many of the drivers that were delayed by the incident, it didn’t look like much.  What they didn’t see was that the entire rear frame of my car had been distorted so much that is was digging well into the rear tire.  The car that hit me was also undriveable.

As I waited for the tow truck to arrive and I watched vehicle after vehicle go slowly by, I learned to read lips and expressions.  When things were said, I read some swear words and the word “move” also came up.  A bit of anger and contempt, too.  There are signs around the city that remind drivers to move off the road for small collisions.  I couldn’t do that (I really wish I could have), but that was lost on the other drivers who were truly being inconvenienced by the accident.  They couldn’t tell that the car was a “write off”.

And, here is where the lesson comes in.  In the past, I have driven by other “small collisions” that I also thought should have resulted in the drivers moving to the side of the road.  I may have been right, but I now realize that I may also have been wrong.  (I can feel slightly good about not getting angry and cursing anyone — who wants to be in an accident?) At this collison everyone was calm and composed, that may not be the case for others.

So now, while I still agree that for small collisions drivers should move to side of the road, I don’t assume the collision is small and the drivers are able to move their vehicles.  It has also primed me to look at other areas of my life where I may be quick to judge.  And, while it has been very inconvenient and slightly expensive for me since the collision, I am grateful that I got to learn something without a more serious consequence.

Therefore, I will conclude with: drive safely and be nice to each other.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers