Sunday, November 29, 2009

Things that can't possibly be happening

My younger (and only) sister, Lisa Helen Ehrenholz (nee Foley), is quite possibly the only person I know who's literally put their foot in a door to prevent it from being closed in their face.

I know she did this, because she did it on my behalf several years ago. I was vacating the tenement apartment I'd lived in for the previous 18 or so months, and had managed to get a final inspection that pretty much said I should get a full refund for my damage deposit. This did not sit well with the slum--I mean, the landlord, who I came to understand never, ever, evvvvver gave departing tenants their money back, regardless of the state they left the apartment in or indeed the state of the apartment when the tenants arrived.

As was standard practice, the landlord sent me a cheque for a fraction of the deposit--and the cheque had one of those "I don't think they're really legally binding but they could make life difficult" declarations on the back that stated the amount on the cheque was the final and only payment owed anyone who attempted to deposit it.

I'm a complete wuss when it comes to stuff like this. Going along to get along doesn't make me happy, but making a stink frequently makes me even less happy. Catharsis works for some people; I've never really been one of them.

Fortunately, my sister was around, and she took this attempt to railroad her darling brother kind of personally. It was a kinder, gentler time, so I don't know if what she did would've been called stalking him then, but it certainly would be now. Not that she had a choice, mind you--the sleazebag absolutely refused to talk on the phone for any length of time, hanging up on her more than once.

So she parked herself outside his office building, and gave him a call or three. Eventually he answered. "Are you at your office?" she asked, and when he said yes she immediately said, "I'll be right up."

For a vile parasite who'd made a habit of avoiding pissed-off ex-tenants (read as "all ex-tenants"), this distressed him. So much so that he refused to open the door. So Lisa yelled a conversation through the door until he opened it. And when he attempted to end the conversation by closing the door, he couldn't, because her foot was in it.

Having this unstoppable, elemental force in his office threw the dick off his game, but he rallied. "Just have your brother sign the cheque I sent him, and I'll send another one for the rest of the deposit," he said. To which she replied, "Is that your dick you're trying to put in my ass?"

She walked out of the office block with a cheque for my full damage deposit back. And I've always admired her for that, and a lot more, including but certainly not limited to raising one hell of a kid with my niece, Cevyn.

Last night, I found out that Lisa went into cardiac arrest yesterday during surgery for complications arising from a gastric bypass surgery earlier in the week. Caught a redeye flight to Ottawa, which is where I'm writing this (and haven't slept for something like forty hours now, so sorry if this is less than coherent, but I don't think that's going to improve in the near term.) She's been comatose for more than a day now. The neurologist will be running the tests again tomorrow to see if she's more responsive, but there seems little reason to be optimistic. I've seen my father cry more in the last 9 hours than I have in the rest of my life combined. I'm fluctuating wildly between uncontrollable crying jags and periods where I can manage to distract myself with videos of stuff (can't really read things right now--even as I type these words the letters are crawling around their window like little worms.) I'm a little worried about Mum, largely because we haven't had much time together since the crap got airborne--she got to the hospital just in time for me to come back here to Lisa's house to get a few hours of (hah!) sleep.

Tiina will be here tomorrow--which is good because I'm turning into a #*&%ing basketcase rightg now--as will members of my brother-in-law's family.

I love my sister, so while I personally have trouble accepting the efficacy of such things, I'm going to close this out with something my Dad wrote in a mass-mailing to friends of the family this morning: "Whatever it is you do at times like this, please do it for us now. We appreciate it."


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gay equality in Texas

Gay people still can't be legally recognized as being married in Texas, but neither can any other marriage, according to a subsection of the 2005 constitutional amendment intended to stop homosexuals from ruining marriage for all the straight, Christian folk.

From (emphasis added):

'The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."'

I can't even begin to describe how incredibly awesome I find this. Finally, all those folks who whine about all the supposed advantages married people have have someplace they can go where everyone is equal, regardless of who they're spending their lives with (if anyone.)

(via Mark Evanier)


A drib and three drabs

For those reading on MySpace, or those reading on Blogger who don't look at the sidebar, or those reading on Livejournal who aren't actually reading it at all, you may be interested to know that I've had a cost-effective midlife crisis and started up a Twitter account. Because I'm really a Cool Guy and not at all a decrepit old wannabe desperate to prove he's down with the kidz. Go to if you're interested in keeping track of my nonsense in sporadic, 140 character bursts. And if you aren't interested...well, I can't say that I blame you, but I do pity you.



As you may or may not know, in addition to being a Professional Comics Editor and Occasional Comics Writer and Aspiring Well-Paid Writer Of Whatever People Will Pay Well For Me To Write, I also do a few shifts a week at Canada's Best Comic Shop of 2007 (and arguably 2008 and 9, but you get the Shusters' Outstanding Retailer Award once and once only), Happy Harbor Comics. A regular paycheque and expanded health coverage are both nice, and I feel slightly less guilty about reading comics without buying them this way, my admittedly self-serving argument being that it's part of my job to try and stay abreast of the latest developments in mainstream comicdom.

Anyhoo, as part of my duties at Happy Harbor (heh. I said "duties"), I'm expected to write up recommendations for a few books from the latest Previews, two of which are then sent out to everyone on the mailing list along with the other staff picks. The one that isn't sent out is an alternate, in case there's overlap and more than one person decides to promote the same thing. This has, unfortunately, left some of my favourite recommendations unseen by all but a couple people, and possibly not even that many.

So, because I'm feeling guilty about how much I haven't been blogging lately and some content's got to be better than no content and because I have a personal interest in seeing VEHICLE succeed but don't feel great about its chances, considering where it's been placed in the magazine, I present to you all three of my picks from this month's Previews magazine, something I may continue to do with future picks. Or not.

This was all written with a Harbor-specific audience in mind, so apologies for any comments that may skew a little too inside.

VEHICLE MAGAZINE #3, by Various. Seeing as the (relatively) locals have had their anthology magazine sentenced to the outer reaches of Previews (AKA "the magazine section waaaaay at the back"), it falls to me to point out the first issue of Calgary creator collective Black Sheep Studios' to appear in Previews to all you Harborites. Previous issues have featured work by Scott Kowalchuk, who you may know better as "the guy who did the Steve Ditko and Chester Gould prints at the Visions of Comics art show", and future issues probably will as well. "But Andrew," I hear you saying, "Why should we try the third issue of a magazine sight unseen (other than someone with your impeccable good taste saying we should, of course)?" I'm glad you asked, Imaginary Harbor E-Mail Reader. My answer is, you don't have to do it sight unseen: the first two issues can be downloaded free of charge from VEHICLE's website at So there.

SUPERNATURAL: BEGINNING'S END #1, by Andrew Dabb & Daniel Loflin and Diego Olmos. On top of being one of, if not the most entertaining show on network television this fall, CW's Supernatural also has pretty strong geek credentials, with much of the writing staff having written either comics or something Joss Whedon created. And a couple of the writers, most notably Ben Edlund, AKA the creator of THE TICK, started in comics and migrated to television writing. Andrew Dabb is another Supernatural writer who started in comics (with Vertigo's HAPPYDALE: DEVILS IN THE DESERT) before moving into television, only to find himself back in comics writing the same characters he's writing on television. This is the third Supernatural miniseries, and like the others, it's a prequel. This time out, the story goes into the reasons Sam Winchester to give up the not-so-glamourous life of monster-hunting to go to university. Ought to be fun.
THE WEIRD WORLD OF JACK STAFF #1, by Paul Grist. It's Paul Grist, it's Jack Staff, and if you're sick of me going on about how great Paul Grist and Jack Staff are, just know that I exercised some restraint this month and didn't make it my #1 choice. If you're reading this, someone beat me to the punch suggesting either Supernatural: Beginning's End #1 or VEHICLE #3 and as a result, this, the alternate Preview pick Jay forces us to make in case there's some overlap, got used instead. Fortunately, I happen to be the staff member whose name comes first, alphabetically, so I can at least tell you that it's not me but the person who recommends Supernatural or Vehicle you should blame getting yet another plug for Grist's superhero masterpiece. All that said, you really should read Jack Staff. I'll take any issue of JS over any three issues that have the words "Blackest" or "Dark" pasted over their titles. Also, "willpower" isn't an emotion and the Black Lanterns are zombies.


I just know the boss, die-hard Geoff Johns Green Lantern fan that he is, will make me pay for that last sentence. But it's totally worth it.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It's all about meme.

Daylight Savings Time, health, weather shifts, and raking the yard have conspired to leave me a shell of my usual chipper, outgoing self. Rather than moan about all of that, though, I'm going to do a memething, just so I can keep my Internet Blogger card.

• Leave me a comment saying "Resistance is Futile."
• I'll respond by asking you five questions so I can satisfy my curiosity
• Update your journal with the answers to the questions
• Include this explanation in the post and offer to ask other people questions

(Questions from frabjousdave)

1. I notice you use index cards when breaking down your scripts. What is it you like about them over an electronic outline or screenwriting program?

Mostly it’s that, nine times out of ten, I’m capable of successfully pinning a card to a bulletin board. I’m ridiculously, comically slow on the uptake when it comes to learning anything remotely tech-oriented. So while my word processor and screenwriting programs probably have the capacity to do outlines in a comparable format (grid with moveable “cards”) as well as any number of other useful tasks, I haven’t figured out how to make them do it yet and probably won’t unless it somehow becomes vitally important that I do so. And even then I probably won’t figure it out in time for it to matter.

As I sit here thinking about it, I realize that the cards and board is the closest thing in my current writing practice to painting--a full-body activity that creates a (somewhat) visual impression of a story that’s accessible in one lump. So maybe there’s a bit of a nostalgic buzz to physically moving the cards around, creating new bits, editing unnecessary ones, arranging everything in an order that (for awhile at least) works.

2. You seem not to get out very often for social affairs, yet you seem very social when you do. What gives? Who needs to kick you in the ass to get you out more often?

Answering the last question first: pretty much everyone.

As for what gives, well, there’s a variety of different things that play into my not going out very often. Money’s a big one; I have a theory that I’m not a cheap bastard, just someone who’s not comfortable shelling out for dinner, a movie and drinks when winter’s coming and the heating bill’s about to go up. Scheduling’s another--the dayjob knocks out three days a week, more or less. And for going out and possibly meeting new people, I need a fair amount of lead time to get in the proper mindset. Used to be I’d just drink heavily to get in the mood, but I don’t do that much anymore. I spend a lot of time just not feeling well enough to leave the house if I don’t absolutely have to, especially this time of year, when the weather changes and my sinuses start acting up. Also, your and Lindy’s hospitality aside, I don’t get invited out that often.

If I seem social when I’m not in the house…well, good. It took a lot of effort to not be a complete boob when interacting with new people. But even if I’m managing to not give that impression, more often than not I feel terribly awkward trying to find something to talk about with people I don’t know.

3. How much do you indulge in your drawing these days? Has it become a sideline, or do you think you'll pursue it more seriously again?

Drawing is something I putter around with because I can’t afford to do what I really want, artistically-speaking, which is paint. I do plan to get back to it someday, though I don’t anticipate it ever being anything other than a hobby. Four years of having my artistic whims indulged, even encouraged, made painting into something I’d hate to do under anyone’s terms but my own.

I frequently tell the story of the gallery curator who came to my studio a couple years after art college. He told me several things I should do that would make him more favourably disposed to display them, which was fairly generous of him, really. But hearing this guy tell me what I should do with my paintings absolutely infuriated me. After he left (without me throwing him out the window, a scene I visualized repeatedly during the course of his visit), I calmed down and said to myself, “Well, I better find something else I can do where I won’t want to viciously assault people who can help me make money for trying to help me make money.”

Though I haven’t done it in any serious fashion for probably more than a dozen years now, painting, and the freedom to do whatever I want and nothing else while painting, is still deeply important to me.

4. Werewolves or vampires?

Depends on what’s being done with them. Taken entirely in the abstract, I’d have to go with vampires, even though vampire stories almost inevitably disappoint. Conceptually, werewolves strike me as much more limited--off the top of my head I can’t think of more than a couple werewolf stories that didn’t involve the horror of changing into a monster/losing control of oneself (actually, I can’t think of more than one at the moment: Dog Soldiers). Vampire stories outnumber werewolf pieces by what, 20 to 1?--for much the same reason I think superhero stories outnumber straight fantasy or sci-fi in comics: because vampires are more flexible than lycanthropes. Too flexible, really, if people will buy vampires wandering in sunlight glittering instead of burning, but at least with them you’ve got room to move around. So yeah, vampires.

5. What is that cheese dip recipe you once shared with me? We need it posted for posterity.

It’s a slightly modified kopanisti (feta cheese dip) recipe. I’ve been making it so long I don’t know the exact quantities anymore (if I ever did).
Ingredients are:
-One small container of feta cheese (the smallest one you can buy at Safeway that’s in brine rather than wrapped)
-Four pickled pepperoncini peppers (you could do more if you can handle it--if it’s just T and I, I might go up to double that)
-One clove of garlic (more if you like that sort of thing)
-Some olive oil (maybe a quarter of a cup?--it’s more of a texture thing, so personal taste plays in)
-Juice of a lemon
-Greek seasoning, to taste
-half a brick of low-fat cream cheese (or not low-fat, though I personally can’t detect the difference when everything’s mixed together.)

Toss everything in the food processor and blend until you have the desired consistency. Double everything if you’re going to have more than three or four people eating it (that’s what I do for parties.)

The cream cheese is my tweak to the recipe--it smoothes the texture a bit and cuts the sharpness of the pepperoncinis. Which may be a violation of the general intent--for our anniversary, T and I had some kopanisti at Cosmos for the first time in a couple years, and theirs was definitely hotter than mine tends to be.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Puttering on Facebook is LIKE working, right?

Andrew Foley Suddenly and without warning, Andrew stopped typ

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley "I do find your ideas on the middle-east peace process intriguing, but I'd still like you to take your finger out of my nose." - Madeleine "A'ight?" Albright

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley In the words of the Immortal Bard, "#*%&! Mother#*%&er! #*%&ing #*%&itty #*%& #*%&!" Actually, that's more of a paraphrase.

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley O what a tangled web we weave, when we commence web construction without the necessary architectural designs and construction permits.

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley has got nothing, but that apparently isn't stopping him.

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley "The cornerstone of any successful relationship must be stable and made of reinforced concrete." - Relationship Expert Don Gotti

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley "That's OK, it's only my groin." - Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley isn't going to take this lying down. Which will be tricky, because he's not getting up any time soon.

about an hour ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" was much more challenging than its spiritual predecessor, "Why is Bill Nebraska sleeping in my driveway?"

2 hours ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley I refuse to suspend my disbelief for any Blackest Night #8 that doesn't feature an all out battle between Black Lanterns and a newly-created Muddy Brown-Grey Lantern.

Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley fondly remembers fried, battered food-based powdered pigments.

2 hours ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley Head throbbing. Back aching. Nose running. Mood cratering. Yet again another November is upon us...

2 hours ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley is outlining a kid's story that prominently features a character named "Lily Slutt". I suspect that will have to be changed at some point...

3 hours ago · ·
Andrew Foley

Andrew Foley Universal health care IS the centrist position, you vacuous, bloviating twit.