History, Music, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge topic is “Starting Over”. The term “Starting Over” always brings to my mind the song by John Lennon (Just Like) Starting Over.  It was released as a single on 24 October 1980 and reached number one in both the USA and UK two weeks after he was murdered. Many people have pointed out that his murder was even more poignant in light of this song in which he writes about wanting to embark upon a new beginning with Yoko Ono after some difficult years.

Why don’t we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We’ll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling

In the UK the single had peaked at number 8 in the charts and had fallen to position number 21 before Lennon’s death propelled it to number one, making an unprecedented number 21 to number 1 move! (Although witty, all references to the song having been number 21 with a bullet will be left out of this post.)


Humor, Montreal, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Google Maps for the homebody and a Big Bang Theory explanation

For this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge the topic is Map it Out. When we think of Google Maps or Google Earth it often invokes images of exotic places or foreign countries. But as a proud homebody the Google Earth application provides a pretty picture of my residences since birth. As the map below illustrates, I’ve not strayed any farther than a nine-iron into the wind since coming home from the hospital as a baby.


People are often surprised when they learn of my penchant for proximity, but I have all I need close at hand. I think it is best summed up by the Dr. Sheldon Cooper character in an episode of The Big Bang Theory when he said:

Penny: Okay, that’s fine, but let’s try and get you out of your comfort zone.

Sheldon: Why would we want to do that? It’s called the comfort zone for a reason.

Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Rap It Up

This week the Weekly Writing Challenge topic is Wrap It Up. Wait a minute … wrap it up? I thought it was Rap It Up!

In this famous rap André 3000 laments the attempt by some to relieve you of your money:

Where there is cheese there are rats,
Where there are rats there are cats,
Where ever there are cats there are dogs.
If you got the dogs you got bitches.
Bitches always out to put their paws on your riches.

-André 3000

And after André 3000 here’s my rap about those who would have you never wear jeans and T-shirts:

Where there are heads there are hats,
Where there are hats there are caps,
Where ever there are caps there are gowns.
If you got gowns you got a formal.
Formals always out to put a twist on your normal.


Uncategorized, Weekly Writing Challenge

Kate and Wills’ Tweets help out with Weekly Writing Challenge

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge posed the following: We’re challenging you to explore how different narrative modes affect your writing.  As someone who writes almost entirely in the first person, and rarely writes fiction, I thought I’d take a shot at weaving two sets of first person narratives  into a modern day epistolary – thus below a short news announcement using Tweets instead of traditional letters. As I wrote both sides of the conversation, the narrative is most definitely unreliable!

I thought I’d ask my buddies Will and Kate for their take on blogging narrative modes, but they seemed preoccupied. Mind you they did throw in the Royal We concept. (They may have even used more than 140 characters…)


Please note that no Royals were used nor harmed in the writing of this post, which is a work of fiction.

History, Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: With political cartoons less is more; Marshall McLuhan and Twitter

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge posed the question: Are animated GIFs the stuff of junior high-school hijinks or, are they the political cartoons of the new millennium? What do you think? The simple answer is: they could be.

For me the key to a great editorial cartoon is simplicity; if the reader has to sift through large blocks of text then the essence of the cartoon is lost. In fact the art work is secondary to the message in many cases.

With newspapers cutting back or getting rid of their paper editions and moving to online publications it only seems natural that GIFs could play a role in editorial cartooning as they force the author to keep it simple.


And yet are we on a “less is more” downward spiral? Computers are smaller, phones are smaller, all fine when you’re talking physicality, but content is shrinking as well. My middle-aged mind has a tough time watching the rapid-fire angle changes used on MTV; slow down and let me catch up! Sometimes a little bit more is better.

Marshall McLuhan once famously opined “The medium is the message”. This statement has been discussed and dissected for years, but one thing is certain, it’s a great saying not only for its profundity, but because at 25 characters it fits nicely in a Tweet and even left McLuhan room for a few hash tags!

Weekly Writing Challenge

WordPress.com: Have I been deemed a blogguard?

I’m having a WordPress.com problem; I am posting about it because all other attempts to solve it have been met with almost Kafkaesque wackiness!


a:a rude or unscrupulous person

b: a person who uses foul or abusive language

black·guard·ism noun
black·guard·ly adjective or adverb
                                        – Merriam-Webster

a:a rude or unscrupulous blogger

b: a blogger who blogs foul or abusive language

blog·guard·ism noun
blog·guard·ly adjective or adverb
                                       – DCMontreal

Have I been deemed a blogguard? For the past month I have been participating in the WordPress.com Weekly Writing Challenge (WWC). I have followed the directions, including a link to the WWC page in my post as well as posting a comment on the WWC page with a link back to my post. This worked fine for three weeks, but this week, after writing and posting, when I tried to leave a comment on the WWC page no comment appeared, and no pingback was listed.

I tried this several times to no avail (a fellow blogger was even kind enough to try to post on my behalf, but no dice).

Does WordPress consider me Spam and if so how do I undo that?

So I thought I’d go the WordPress.com Support route and here’s where things got really wacky. Below is a screen grab of my request for help – after having gone through the list of possible problems that have been addressed.


This was about the third attempt – in the first couple I did use the form of a question. Now, once I fill out the form and hit Submit I get the following:


Topic closed? I just asked! And started 42 years ago? What the hey??

Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge; A picture is worth 1,000 words (or 973 words Canadian)

Regarding this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s one thousand US words of course. Based on today’s exchange rate that comes to 973 Canadian words here in Montreal.

The gentleman in the picture looks like he wants to be there about as much as he wants to have a colonoscopy. Something he should consider having done as he looks to be approaching the age where screening is recommended; but I digress. This attitude is reflected in the way he’s holding the children’s hands; he’d be more comfortable hanging on to electric eels. Did I just mention colonoscopy and electric eels in the same paragraph?

So what would make a man stand still for such a photo while looking so very uncomfortable about it? My hunch is guilt. This guy has clearly been caught with his hand in some sort of cookie jar. Tax evasion; nope, he’d be having two photos – one from the front and one from the side and a big number in across the bottom. An affair with another woman; I don’t think so, he looks like he’s been caught doing that too many times for it to bother him.

No, he’s done something heinous; he’s been caught doing something so close to being unforgivable that he’s now facing a situation with no alternative other than to pose for this picture.  That’s the only viable explanation there can be.

Yes, after examining the look of utter disgrace and shame on his face it is plainly evident, there can be no question about it; this man is guilty of having entered a WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge that strongly suggested thousand word entries would be appropriate and he only wrote 290 words.

Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge and hot dogs

“I wish I were” … hmmm…why does that short phrase keep tickling something in the back of my mind? This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge has had me asking myself some questions. What is it about those four short words that triggers a plethora of childhood memories? Where does it say that quartet will give me a good feeling? Who would have thought those four syllables could bring a smile to my face? When was it that I first heard that catchy lyric? Oh yes, of course, I wish I were an Oscar Myer Wiener. What else could it be!

Weekly Writing Challenge

Children should be seen and not hurt

This week’s writing challenge poses the thorny question of children in “adult-oriented” places. First we have to accept that a group consisting of everyone under the age of 18 is a pretty large cohort and where a seventeen year old might fit right in; a baby may be less welcome.

There are certainly places where very young children should not be found, but not necessarily for the reasons commonly attributed. An infant at the screening of a film intended for an adult audience could possibly experience harmful images and sounds. I suspect many people would look at this from the point of view of the adults in attendance and the potential for a young child to be distracting. I think that while that is most certainly that possibility, it is probably no walk in the park for the child either. You could however find yourself in front of a perfectly behaved child and behind an annoying-cell-phone-using adult! So for the child’s benefit let’s nix the idea of bringing them to adult movies (no, not those adult films!). I know some cinemas have “Mom and Baby” screenings that allow for the noise and distractions youngsters can contribute to the movie viewing experience, but that still doesn’t address the question of the film’s content and the subsequent effect on a child.

There are plenty of family restaurants with a variety of menus and prices: from fast-food to dining room elegance. People who choose to eat in one of these should expect children and have no grounds for griping at routine child behaviour. Options exist for the whole family to dine together. How does one tell? A good rule of thumb is the presence of child seats and crayons at the entrance.

Of course there are also restaurants geared to an adult clientele. People who choose to partake of a meal here have every right to expect a quieter environment without family noises. By the same token is it fair to ask a child to behave in an “adult” restaurant in a way that won’t disrupt? Again there are two ways to look at the issue.

Okay, that was the easy part given that options exist (i.e. movie screening times and family restaurants) but let’s take a stab at that old travel chestnut, children on planes. A family going on an overseas vacation has realistically one option – flying. So while I sympathize with anyone who has been bothered by an unruly child on a plane, you are stuck with the fact that the world is populated by people, and all the people I know were at one time children, and children will be children. It goes with the turf.

There are no viable options – no, the luggage hold is not viable – when it comes to planes and trains. A short jaunt by car is another issue, but planes – nope, no option there.

It isn’t all that clear-cut either: what about business class? Should a parent who forks over the excessive fare be allowed to bring a child into business class? I humbly believe that the adult restaurant concept should apply to business class on planes – economy is always an option.

Uncategorized, Weekly Writing Challenge

Montreal’s foliage fades to grey, but an exhibit of Impressionism ensures not all color is lost

In the description of this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: A Splash of Color reference is made to the stunning colors of the foliage here in north-eastern North America. In Montreal, perhaps due to our being a little farther north those vibrant reds and yellows have pretty much reached their peak and are quickly fading to shades of grey (at least fifty I’m told) and brown as the daylight hours shorten and winter threatens.

But just in time to avert an early onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder, another spectacular splash of color has arrived in town with the opening of a new exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsOnce Upon a Time… Impressionism – Great French Paintings from the Clark. More gentle and pastel in nature than the changing foliage, these colors are well-known even to non-art buffs. Included in the pieces that make up the exhibition are works by Pierre Bonnard, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as twenty-one canvases by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872

Impressionism has long been one of my favorite genres primarily for its colors and use of light. In contrast to the sharp and vivid colors of the post-impressionists, impressionist painters often used color in a washed out style  in their works resulting in a softer depiction of landscapes and people. Less attention to detail and more focus on the overall impression gave the style its name.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette

I have to admit I always look to see if Rod Stewart is in the Renoir as he used a modified version for his A Night on the Town album cover.

So bring on the long white nights of winter; at least a little solace can be sought in the warm colors of the Impressionist masters. As I’ve yet to visit the exhibition I don’t know if any of the works I have depicted here are included,  they are just a few of my favorites