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Subject: Los Angeles #70 - Monty P meets South Park
(Posted on Feb 8, 2014 at 11:09AM ) Tags:
Put a groom and his “best” man together for a few idle moments early on wedding day when no one else is around within earshot, and what do you get? You get a mashup of Monty Python and South Park, taking two separate pieces and slamming them together to make something better.



Sometimes, 1+1 = 3, especially when you’re taking the best of British and American humor.

Step 1 – Take some elements from this classic “French taunting” scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). The relevant bit runs between 2:20 and 2:43 but the whole scene works well if you have the time and inclination.


Step 2 – Add a much more animated  (and less subtle) Terrance and Phillip from their potty-mouth ”Unclefпɔʞer” scene in the more current South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999). The relevant bit starts 0:25 in, but it is ALL top-shelf, classy, high-brow material. 


Step 3 - Combine and stir artfully with some tender loving care, and yowza wowza, you get the end result as exchanged between George Johnson and Bob Boguslavski in their wedding finery before all the action of the day started up on the boat.

What else would some groom do on his wedding day after all when there was nothing else going on? Clearly, we were two sick Canuckistanis messin' around and having some fun, eh?

I think Kenny Dixon Jr. (aka Moodymann) said it best (at 3:50 for a few seconds) in this deep house number called Doin’ Ya Thang by Oliver $  released in April 2011.


Keep it simple folks, with just two categories, as the man said there. It makes for much easier navigation in life, and filtering stuff. Therein lies some real wisdom they will never teach you in skool, even if you’re just some single guy hitting weddings all over the place.



Subject: Mustique #47 - Gettin' all ''rill'' with gin and tonic
(Posted on Feb 4, 2014 at 09:09AM ) Tags:
A "proper" gin and tonic, as somebody was once lectured to in gang-bang fashion at his sister’s wedding in Mustique in 2000, is supposedly made with lemon, and NOT lime. And it should never be made with both of those citrus garnishes, despite what one particular punter professed to prefer. However, the real case can be made for all three possibilities, depending where you are.

Hey, I guess if you are British then you must know for sure. The cat in this Telegraph piece really looks like he knows the drill on G+Ts and the proper garnish, from having whacked back a few over the years at home and abroad. Plus, when you're a writer, and your full name is James Gerald Warner of Craigenmaddie, then it must be gospel, even though you may actually be a Scot.

The English cast at that intimate tropical wedding were also going on about Gordon’s Gin (note it is made in Scotland) and Schweppes tonic water both being mandatory for the optimum result. Some contest that Gordon’s isn’t good enough anymore, but there are others who still do swear by it as here. Omelette you decide on that for yourself.

As for juniper and the other botanicals at play generally in gin, I like this piece that mentions turpentine being used back in the day for the masses. Nice one there! Talk about putting a little extra sumpin’ in your jump juice to make it more “hi-test” to squeeze out a little more horsepower per pour.

Maybe the Spanish way is the method to follow per this posting.

Ida know, at the end of the day, I still like lemon AND lime together. Besides, the colors look very cool IMHO.



Add a long stick of black licorice for extra color mojo action in your glass, and presto majesto, you have yourself a bonafide Bob N. Boguslavksi “Jamaican Flag” gin and tonic. 


Note I just made this last bit up, but it sure sounds (and would look) mighty fine. And that ain't no coink-e-dink neither now, so remember you heard it here first. It's completely up to you whether you want to consider chewing that stick down as you go, or just keep reusing it as a garnish, untouched, in your refills.

I so totally agree with one NYC friend (still not married either, but he’s a divorce attorney and knows reality a little too close on the exit side of that game) that there is a reason it's called GIN and tonic, and not the other way around. So you need to make sure you put a “rill” healthy dose of booze in there. If you ever order one in a bar or club in Spain (and some other places outside North America), you will know they be doin’ the deed right as well. And hey, if you are splashin' it out and doin' bottle service and a bit of  V.I. action in some domestic club, cuz that's how you roll and you a player, then you can pour your own measure and keep to the spirit on that, pardon the pun.

Suck back a few of these Spanish (or equivalent) bad boys, and you’ll be getting all kinds of “rill” good insight into how stuff  works for “rill” just like Courtney Stodden in this inspirational gem.


Think “rill" and be “rill” is all I can say. Use “rill” good ingredients too. Bottomline, folks, no matter how you like your G+Ts, just make sure they are “rill” strong. That way, they'll be “rill” good, and the world will quickly seem a better, kinder, and gentler place.


That’s what this single, wedding-guy, traveler-adventurer-cum-poolside bum believes, no matter where he is at in the world.




Subject: Barcelona #62 - Chopsocky cinema and that Ghanaian proverb
(Posted on Jan 31, 2014 at 04:22PM ) Tags:
That Ghanaian proverb quoted in the book is a classic that has long vexed me since Ananse first told me of it years ago.

“It requires a lot of carefulness to kill the fly that perches on the scrotum.”


It opens up a whole line of questioning, and I wonder if whoever came up with it meant to believe it applied only against their own set of cohones cum huevos, or someone else’s too. Who knows on that? That’s why I figured one might want to have a more swift and skilled set of hands take a swipe there, if in fact a swipe, slap or short sharp shot of any sort was indeed the optimum  strategy here. But I ain’t here to question the wisdom of that tproverb to begin with.

Ergo the four chopsocky cinema stars thrown out there as a non-exhaustive shortlist of example candidates suitably skilled for the task, but only two could be trying that on their own set.



Lo Lieh had the same birthday as yours truly does too (but he was just a little older is all). Connie Chan Po-chu and Cheng Pei-pei were born six days apart, and as for Bruce Lee, most know about that cat, so his name should have tipped the hand of the other three in the context of the discussion. A lot of flicks were made between all four, but as far as I know, there was never a scene there anywhere involving flies on someone’s scrotum. Geez, some of them were into swords and stuff as well, so you can just imagine some other potentially interesting solutions that might come into play with such implements/weapons in such a scenario.

It all reminds of me of that line from the 1970s TV series, Kung Fu, when Caine is told many a time by his Master that “When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.” It seems Master had the good sense to NOT envision, yet alone allow, multiple learning attempts along the way with flies located strategically somewhere else on his body. But as with many things in life, and after a lot of hard work, training and practice, that “time to leave” eventually comes, and you head off to the next set of challenges.


This Mail & Guardian (South Africa)  piece from 2011 touches on a few more proverbs from other countries on that continent that are cutfrom the same cloth and looks at  them a little bit deeper. Whaddup with all that? 

All in all, I think such proverbs are best left to thinking about, and not actually attempting them at home alone, or together with friends and family. Some things in life, you don’t necessarily need to experience. Maybe you also just don’t let flies have much access to the jewels to begin with if you can help it at all. Even when you’re some single guy sippin’ on cava at a wedding in Spain, you can still reflect on the deeper things in life, in between all the other goings on of the day and night.

Gong Hay Fat Choy or Gong Xi Fa Cai—take your pick. It appears that this entry and Chinese New Year are just pure coink-e-dink.



Subject: Westport #94 - Subprime made easy for all
(Posted on Jan 29, 2014 at 04:07PM ) Tags:
Around the time of that mid September 2007 affair for Bob and Natasha, rumblings were emerging from the financial markets about all that global money crammed inside the US subprime mortgage market that was making financial institutions and hedge funds alike a fortune up until then. It was a massive feeding frenzy, and it was supposedly all bullet-proof safe, paying out high returns, and was endorsed by the brightest minds and leading lights in the industry. Yeah, sure.


Then we all saw what happened thereafter by the fall of 2008 when the crisis hit full on. Bob’s chat over a drink with Tristan Alford, then at a purposely anonymous hedge fund, and a former colleague of Bob “The Banker”,  was tied to this. Tristan knew what was coming down the pike, and had the good sense to want to get out of Dodge while the getting was good to preserve some of his wealth, and keep that Mrs. of his happy with her high-end baubles, haute couture, and gal pal spa getaway weekends with her "ladies who lunch" set, or what I like to call LaWLu. Good work if you can get it!

Since that time, and the subsequent market meltdown, a lot of analysis, debate, and discussion has happened about the whole subprime crisis, and numerous books, TV shows and even movies have covered the topic 25 ways to Sunday.

This great little presentation is still one of my favorites for explaining subprime to just about everybody and their dog in very simple terms. One can well forgive the couple of typo errors with the spelling of “traunche” (tranche) and Caymen (Cayman) Islands for the otherwise humorous insight.

This shorter animated piece is a little more serious, but also very good.


These two cats below, Bird and Fortune, also did a bang up job explaining it all with typical British flair and sophistication.


Alas, John Fortune passed away this past New Year’s Eve, but he wasn’t on the lads’ DeathList 2013 roster.

When this single guy is out there hitting weddings all over the place, the topics of conversation aren’t always just fluffy and funny. There's real other stuff going on out there that surfaces every now and again and is worth bringing to light.



Subject: Chile #30 - 43-Man Squamish
(Posted on Jan 28, 2014 at 01:41PM ) Tags:
MAD Magazine was a big favorite of mine back when I was a kid, and its sense of humor has a longstanding impression on me to this day, and my writing style. The piece on 43-Man Squamish from MAD #095 (June 1965) was definitely one of the more memorable pieces for me, and you can see it all in gory detail right here as a scanned image from the original issue.  It was that crazy college sport those two kooks George Woodbridge and Tom Koch dreamed up, and it was explained with absolute clarity and brilliance.

By the time you are done processing it all you’ll be an expert on all the positions from Grouches, to Brooders, Wicket Men, Niblings, Frummerts, Over/Underblats, Finks, Leapers and the Dummy. You’ll know how they all mesh together in dizzying formations on the flutney, and how it is all about the Pritz and controlling things with the Frullip.

You’ll know your Snivels and Ogres, and the very important difference between a Woomink and a Durmish, and surprisingly, why imitations of Barry Goldwater (hello Tea Party!) also may play a part in turning the tide of a match, but only if you are a Fink.


Was Draja Druvnik really one of the best at the game, judging by his big endorsement deal back in the day? ida know, and you could probably debate that for hours on end with those in the know. 

The rules of gameplay and interpretation therein are where the action is really at, and if it all makes complete sense to you, then you are ready for a job as a German rocket scientist (even if you haven’t learned that language yet, and only speak Swahili, cuz, clearly you got it all going on upstairs).

If this all sounds too complicated, or you can’t find enough palookaheadz in your college to field a full squad, you can always opt for the much simpler version, 2-Man Squamish, where the object is to lose.

But after all of that, my biggest takeaway from the whole mess was that certain special “wise old Chilean proverb” as immortalized there, and which has haunted me for decades (and maybe still does), until I actually got to Chile for the first time as a single guy on some wedding adventure junket.

It would be überkool to see it played in Squamish, BC, just up the road a bit from Vancouver on the way to Whistler. There’s probably some reason out there somebody can invent for that shared naming kinship between the place and the sport. Maybe Woodbridge and Koch should have added that to the mix.

As I always say to folks traveling that highway, "Don't forget to stop in Squamish." 

Subject: Los Angeles #70 - Canuckistan (be it Soviet or not)
(Posted on Jan 24, 2014 at 02:27PM ) Tags:
Yo, whaddup with that Canuckistan label for 'The True North strong and free'? At least until some day when it becomes overrun militarily or economically 'integrated' by its steadfast friends and drinking amigos south of the 49th parallel (north).

In my own twisted antihero way, 'infiltrated by all, inculcated by none,' I am really smitten by Soviet Canuckistan, and throw the term around liberally, much to the chagrin of some on the northern side of border. I so way prefer the handle with the 'Soviet' part exorcised—it’s shorter and punchier, and most on either side of the boundary still totally get it unless severely geographically challenged.


Looks like we can thank Nat Bukannan for all that back on Halloween 2002 (Trick or Treat) amidst the discussions and build-up for the second foray in Iraq. Awesome job, buddy! Folks like him, Anne Coalturd, and Will O. Wiley are beacons of worldly analysis, insight and opinion, doing their utmost to keep our (m)asses au courant with global affairs. It’s all right up there with Freedom fries.

But, in balanced fairness to both sides of any debate over a bottle or two (or more, depending on your cohort) of some unnamed refreshment, preferably of the red type, part of Nat’s TV diatribe did have some valid points, as perhaps brought to light in this piece, which I don’t completely agree with either from her spin on this matter. It’s just that good old Nat muddled a bunch of stuff together.

However, the initial usage of Soviet Canuckistan can be attributed to almost a decade before, and digging one reference link deeper. Nat, because of his public profile, just took it to a whole other level is all (whether arrived at independently, or not), breaking it out into mainstream popular usage. We thank you profusely for that, Sir!

For anybody out there that has never been to Canuckistan, or knows little about the place, this piece is supremely (mis)informative, depending on your point of view and sense of humo(u)r. Useful information to have as you plan that virgin trip to The Great White North. Here's a classic specimen of local art from 1981 that speaks to trumpeting that cause, eh?


It’s always good to bone up on stuff before taking a trip to a new spot, even if it is to some fun wedding adventure far away as some single guy.



Subject: London #15 - Theakston Old Peculier
(Posted on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:22AM ) Tags:
No, "Peculier" ain't spelled wrong and it wasn't a typo slip-up by some prat pounding the keyboard. But I betcha some readers will think so at first glance. In fact I had to porpoisefully make sure the spell check function kept it that way too.

That is the correct spelling for the fabled brew out of Masham, North Yorkshire that Bobby Bo and Cory McCracken were knocking back that day before the wedding ceremony in Shepperton. It ain’t and never was peculiar either, at least not in the "odd" sense, if perhaps for a while on the bottle or cask, per further down below.


Peculier is actually even a real word all by its lonesome, although not in most folks’ everyday usage, and is known as a parish outside the jurisdiction of a diocese and in many cases (but not always) under the British Monarchy. Go figure. Makes me wonder if any peculiers are peculiar? Now, that doesn’t have nearly as much of an impact or meaning to me personally, like having a pint or two of that brew, which is really good stuff, in some cozy pub.

The problem with peculier, the geographical area, is that it is also spelled peculiar. D-oh! How about that for clarity? I guess that going back to medieval times, it kinda maybe went that way with certain words and the evolution of the language over time, and may have been changed. I dunno and haven’t drilled down deep enough to really come down hard one way or the other on it and I certainly have no credentials as an Engrisch etymologist. Hey, in Scotland old is auld, and bonnie (or maybe bonny) is pretty and may have come from the French word bon, for good. So anything is possible with peculier / peculiar I suppose. Or maybe it’s like how some folks never get the difference between “there”, their” and “they’re”, let alone the interchangeable usage of “its” and “it’s” you see all the time.

But, in all fairness to both sides of the spelling equation, and native English-speaking, spelling-challenged punters the world over, here is some evidence to show the ale was at some point also doubling down under the Peculiar moniker. Aha, them Theakston folks be caught out on schizophrenic labeling practices.

Maybe some historian cum brand police gatekeeper type at the brewery might clarify or expand upon that one day, and set the record straight for all. I am always open to getting the real lowdown on stuff, be it official, or not. 

Anyway, if you are really into knowing more about this peculier geography thing cuz you got some time on your hands or are bored at work (and no one’s peering over your cubicle wall, but the IT overseers might be tracking your Internet usage behind the scene), you can read a tad more about the peculier of Masham (after which the brew was named) and about Royal Peculiers (or Peculiars) in England, past and present.

Personally, I’d rather drink the ale and call it a day on the matter. Keep it simple and focused.

The brewery, T&R Theakston Ltd., has a cool past going back to 1827, and is still independently family owned. One day, I’ll have to make sure to take the tour of the place, and do a little sampling of  all their wares. Old Peculier is their most famous pour, and is called “The Legend”. Even everyone’s favorite non-comic book news and views mag, La Revista Economista as I call it, labeled that sucker the ‘doyen of real ales’ back in 1985, if that adds any more credibility to the mix, as opposed to something like Beer Advocate.

I say, just go drink it, and decide for yourself. Enjoy, just like this single guy did on his wedding adventures back in the day.

Sláinte, as the "Oirish" and "Scootish" may say on occasion.
Bob N. Boguslavski - An Author Interview
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Source Link: Guest Posts & Interviews With Tina Marie Says

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My bio is here below, but in summary, I have been fortunate to be able to have done a lot of different jobs across multiple industries, in many places around the world, and that has provided the basis for my style and all the material for this book and future ones. It has given me a bit of a unique perspective.

Expressed mathematically, it might be something like this:

(Live + Think) x Different = Write Different

***
Born and bred in YUL, Canuckistan (home of the first peanut butter patent and Wonderbra™ trademark), of Ukrainian Polish heritage, Bob N. Boguslavski has been a bit of a world wanderer the last decades. Life, career, and school have moved him between multiple places in Egypt, India, Spain, The Netherlands, UK, and USA and he reckons he's not done yet either by a long shot. He has traveled to many other spots on the planet for business, pleasure, and a seemingly ungodly number of weddings.

Along the way, he has successfully managed to dodge his own wedding bullet(s), and collect a mass of raw fodder for literary porpoises [sic]. Having worked in several sectors for companies massive, tiny, and sizes in-between, some of his friends (and family) persist in thinking he once was (and maybe still is) some sorta spy or sumpin' like that. His real-life experiences and observations form the basis of a unique, eclectic, and humorous writing style. For some strange reason, cats dig him (he wishes it would work just as easily and well with women) and if he could jar and sell it, he would be really wealthy.

He currently resides on the Left Coast of North America in YVR, and when he's not busy attending a wedding somewhere, or writing about it while listening to very loud house music, he has the semblance of a normal life and job. Sorta. Kinda. He enjoys being misunderstood in different languages he has butchered and warehousing inane information and factoids upstairs until Alzheimer's or dementia sets in to make it all disappear. One of his favorite sayings is "Your next best friend is someone you haven't met yet" and it's a philosophy he tries to apply as he mucks and muddles about the globe.


What were you like at school?

During high school, I was a bit of a nerdy bookworm, and spent a lot of time in the library. If there were frequent reader miles given out back then, I would have been Super Platinum Plus measured by ass-in-seat page turns.

The librarians all knew me very well, and usually had a stack of suggested reads for me to pore through when I refilled with new material.


What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I think I have a very unique style, a fresh and easygoing voice, and have mapped out an innovative structure for telling the overall tale I want to convey over a few different series of books.

They will actually all be interconnected. I just hope I will be able to pull it off if life allows.


What genre are your books?

My style is a bit genre-defying or –busting, but the closest tags of which elements apply are fiction, humor, mashup and something I define at the start of the book.

“This is a work of f(r)iction, where fact and fiction rub up against each other, and nobody wants to know it regardless.”


How much research do you do?

There was actually a ton of research that went into Wedding Chronicles on several fronts. After so many years and weddings, I needed to go back to the couples and review details of the day on various aspects. Not surprisingly, in most cases, the woman always remembered much more of the specific details of the day, but one could get a lot of information overall from both, my memories of the day, and from other friends present there.

Then a lot of historical research was needed on the venues and current events/news (especially!!) at the time, as it pertained to conversations in the book, be they serious or lighthearted in nature.

There was more on cultural and societal elements as well for all the far-flung foreign locations, and the music as well.

It was a lot of work, and I needed to be very organized, as there was a lot of connecting the dots to paint the full mural.


When did you decide to become a writer?

There’s actually a bit of a weird and interesting story behind this, and it happened in two steps.

The condensed version is that at Halloween 2006, an astrologer who was very accurate in her reading of my past and present life events and personality suggested that I become a writer. At the time, I didn’t really pay much attention to that, but it remained in the back of my mind.

Eight months later in July 2007, in between a flurry of weddings, I was complaining to a friend of mine about all the weddings I was attending all around the world the past decades, and the money, time and effort spent going to them. He looked at me and said “Geez, you’ve been to more weddings than anyone I know. Why don’t you write a book about it?”

I was like “D-oh, Homer!” and that’s when the light bulb went on inside my head, and here we are now.


What made you decide to actually sit down and start something?

After that dual step process above, and the high level idea, I spent some time making an outline and some notes to see how I would map out the story, and how I would make it an engaging story. After that was done, I realized that there was definitely something there, and it could be entertaining.


Do you write full time or part time?

It was a mix of both over the years, and I hope that moving forward, I will be able to devote most of my time to writing the next books in the trilogy, as well as other series down the road.

I think I’m far from spent in that regard of having raw fodder to draw from.


Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

After about a year or so of experimenting, I find that my best period for tapping out new text on a white screen is between 2am – 6:30am (in the dark, except for the laptop lighting), after going to bed early (and not staying up all night).

Research, reading, notes, structure, and editing can happen at any other times of the day with no problem, however, I am most efficient with telling the story in that early morning window. Trying to do it at other times is much slower and painful even. It’s just the way my mind is at that time of the day. I am funnier and more imaginative then typically, as least as regards material for a book anyway.


Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

Not at all, as it depends on what needs to be done at the time, reading for research and making notes, writing fresh prose on a white screen, or editing.


Where do the your ideas come from?

The omniscient “they” always say to write about what you know, so after having been to so many weddings, I had lots of material to play with.

I hope to do the same thereafter with another series about all my work experiences around the world. I have done a lot of different things over the years, so I have ample fodder there as well. It will be written in very much the same off the wall style and structure as this first novel on weddings.


Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

A serious amount of outlining, notes, and mapping out the structure happened well before any prose was written. It took a couple of years actually, and I had almost 700 pages in this massive file that probably only made sense to me. That file became the basis of the first book, and there is enough stuff in there leftover to write the next two instalments of the trilogy.


How long on average does it take you to write a book?

There is no “average” really to date, since there has been only one book.

This first one took several years actually. The initial idea was hatched in July 2007, the outline was done by end year, and then I spent two years collecting data, making notes, doing research, emailing and talking to friends, and throwing down any thoughts on the keyboard that came to mind. After those near 700 pages were done, then I set about to really writing it all out in normal sequential fashion a reader could understand, and that happened over 2010 and 2011, along with some initial editing, largely to refine my style and skills per below. 

Along the way, I realized the initial concept as envisioned, one novel, was way too long, and would be on target for 1500 pages when complete, so I decided I had to pull it apart like spaghetti strands from a pile, into a trilogy, and that took a lot of work to figure out.

The first full draft was complete on the afternoon of May 5, 2012 (cinco de mayo on a full moon that evening), and editing took another year thereafter, and then formatting and layout for e-book distribution took until late August 2013. It was a long road, and a lot of the initial editing work in 2010 was really also doubling as writing tutorial and education as I really was working more on refining my capabilities and style.


Do you ever get writer’s block?

Fortunately, not yet. Lucky so far. If it looked like I was getting stuck on one passage or chapter, I could easy change gears by moving to another chapter, or do some research or editing on another part or angle altogether.


Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I am a big believer in having a detached, capable and professional set of eyes look at your work, and make it much better. I think it is very difficult for most of us to cook up a flawless and pristine manuscript on our own, or having your aunt who was an English major review it.

It will ¢o$t you some Benjamin$ for sure, and depending on your budget it may be a strain, but if you are serious about being a writer and going to market, it is important to set your work apart. It will make the work more polished, especially in the indie and self-published market, what with hundreds of thousands of new titles coming out every year, and that’s not accounting for any language translations either.


Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I tend to do that with various chapters for sure. Sometimes, certain chapters have been left for half a year at a time, before I look at them again, and take them to the next level of completion.


Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?

I was introduced to my editor, George-Thérèse Dickenson , through the friend of a friend in NYC who had collaborated with a group of over two dozen writers on a big non-fiction project. She is an experienced and talented editor, writer and poet, located in NJ outside of NYC.

I feel very lucky that she decided to work with me, a first time writer, with no prior writing experience, as she is very selective with her projects and engagements. I highly recommend her, as she has transformed and elevated my writing skills along the way, as well as doing a bang up job on the book edit itself.  I look forward to working with her on the next books in the series.


What do you think makes a good story?

Pretty much any topic can make for a good story. One just needs to have the flair to make it engaging, entertaining, and fresh. Throw in a new twist or angle, or make it funny, and you are away to the races.


What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

There’s probably a few of them at play.

One very important thing is I write always while listening to music. Without music through a set of headphones, my work is painfully slow, and less imaginative. It’s like the music does something to my mind and releases freer and more smoothly flowing expression. Louder is better, and my best writing seems to come out when listening to house music / electronic dance music. But my musical tastes are all over the map generally in terms of genres and styles I like and listen to. I need to better educate myself to opera and country though, as I am just not into them that much at all. But I am always open to great music suggestions, and I spend an undue amount of time listening to music every day.

Another quirk is the best time period of the day for writing as mentioned above. In the dark from 2:00am to 6:30am for fresh prose is the best for me. I have played around a lot with that, but now know my “zone” so I don’t fight City Hall anymore.

After notes, outline and research, I wrote the ending of the book (Epilogue) first, before anything else. I read that way too. I would always read the last pages of a novel or book first, and then go back to the beginning to commence the story. I like surprises, but just want to know how they turn out ahead of time. I do the same with paper magazines (as opposed to electronic versions). I thumb from the last pages forward. Maybe I should have been born in other parts of the world where things flow right to left.


What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A great imagination is one thing to help with writing, but if you ever have the opportunity and are lucky enough to get out there and see more of the world in your life, be it for work, education, or personal travel, it will make you a better writer, and give you additional insight and experiences upon which to draw from.

I feel very fortunate that things happened for me at a relatively early age to set me on this journey to different parts of the world, and I have learned a lot from it all, and continue to do so all the time. You will look at things from different perspectives, and that can certainly help with writing.


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Keep traveling, or as all those Johnnie Walker ads state, “Keep walking.”


What is your favorite quote?

I have a few of my own that I made up, that kind of reflect my personality or sense of humor.

One is “Your next best friend is someone you haven’t met yet.”
It can be tweaked to be “favorite song” and “heard” as well.

Another is, “It’s always funny until someone loses a testicle.”

There are so many great ones out there by others, and I try to throw a few of them out throughout the book, as people may notice.  But they need to be a fit for the conversation at hand, and in the right context.


Tell us about your book cover/s and how it/they came about.

The cover designer, Anouk Jansen, is someone from Amsterdam I first met on a new record label consulting project back in late 2005 and early 2006. I thought her work back then was great, she had talent, and so when I was thinking about a cover for the book in early 2013, I thought about her again and reached out to her to see what she could do.

We emailed about the book concept, and outline, and I asked her to read one chapter or wedding to get the flavor for the book’s style and flow. She developed three different concepts, and after having a group of my friends and contacts, many with marketing, art, or graphics in their background, comment and vote on / prioritize the concepts, I made a decision to go with the current one, and we refined and tweaked it through a few more iterations. It was a process, but I think she nailed it, and I am happy with it. I get a lot of favorable commentary about the cover.

I wanted something to reflect the very different nature of the book on several fronts.


Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Absolutely, both online and at brick and mortar retail. Obviously, smaller images online bring certain restrictions, so you need to be able to work with that as well.


How are you publishing this book and why?

I have gone the self-publishing route. I know my style is very different and out there on many fronts, and the traditional route of querying agents yielded no interest. I know my work doesn’t fall into any neat pigeonholes, so that would make it difficult to garner a nice fit with most agents and publishers. My writing takes a lot of chances creatively in terms for style, story, and structure, plus throw in the music playlist angle, and it is enough to scare away just about everybody, even those who say they are looking for something different that pushes the boundaries. So, after quite a bit of querying, and reading up about both the traditional publishing industry and how it works, and the self-publishing side, I decided I just needed to stop wasting my time, get on with it and get it out there.


What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

Self-publishing advantages are that you as writer have way more control over the entire process on everything from final content to editing, cover design, marketing, financials and business aspects. At the same time, you also have to do everything yourself, or be willing to hire the right resources, consultants and people to do things you can’t. You also get to market much faster. You need to front all the money for this, but in the end, you control the process, and copyright, and have way more flexibility for the future, for any possible business deals with publishers if they ever become interested later on.

There are no middlepersons either in terms of the agent and publisher. They can certainly offer value on a few fronts, but there are large trade-offs. You need to balance that all off.


How do you market your books?

It is a mix things between a website/blog/trailer just very recently out a few days ago after the “Holidaze” period as I like to call it, social media, engaging with reviewers and blogs, and other things. In many ways, I am just getting started, but will push a lot more once paperback is also out very soon.  I am trying to focus on that as the next priority.


Why did you choose this route?

The choice was made for me. I felt good about the final product, and rather than continuing to query incessantly on deaf ears, I decided to just move and get going.


Would you or do you use a PR agency?

I am open to the idea for sure, and may well do something on that front down the road. But today, with the Internet and social media, an author can do a lot on their own, if they are willing to devote the time and effort to do so. I need to spend more time to understand the value proposition and payback of the PR agency approach. More research needed on my part.


Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

Yes, it is a lot of hard work, and you need to put as much effort into the marketing of your book(s) as you did on the writing, editing, and cover design.


What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?

It is an ongoing process that requires a lot of time and effort. Not enough, so there is more to be done for sure.


What do you do to get book reviews?

A lot of effort is required here, and patience. You need to target them, read and pay attention to their submission requirements, and exercise patience.

Many have huge backlogs and waitlists, so it can be months sometimes before they get back to you, and even more before a review see the light of day. Casting your net far and wide, yet focused, is important.


Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?

I try to spend time targeting reviewers who are open to multiple genres and something different, as opposed to being focused on particular genres like say, romance, paranormal fantasy or historical fiction. There’s no point in trying to engage with someone who wants vampires and werewolves when your book is about killer zombie cats from Planet Myrna 77.43 who lust after beer post bloodbath, or something like that.

As my work is quite different, reviewers who read multiple genres may better appreciate the work, and then I have a better chance to get through to them, work into their waitlist or backlog, and get a review.


What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Bad reviews will inevitably happen. Reviews are the opinion of that particular reviewer, and one needs to respect that.  It is certainly easier to swallow a poor review if the reviewer professionally maps out their reasons and logic as to why a book didn’t work for them. Take it in, and keep moving, even if easier said than done.


What do you think of “trailers” for books?

They play a valuable part of the marketing mix for sure. Being able to distill a book down into a minute or two of imagery, words/voice, and/or music in combination,  is key in a world where consumers have very short attention spans before they disengage and wander off to some other distraction.

I was adamant to keep my own video trailer to one minute in length.

Since Wedding Chronicles has so many different things going on, and is not plot driven in the traditional sense, I tried to encapsulate a few other angles of the book experience, using fewer words, focus on the cover a bit, and with more of an emphasis on imagery for the journey’s backdrop and music. I know the sequence of locations is not a very common one for a novel, unless it is some sort of spy thriller.


Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I used to read a huge amount, and was the kind of reader who stayed up all night to finish a good book.

Alas, in early 1997 while living in Amsterdam, I came to the conclusion that I was reading too much, so I quit cold turkey after I finished two novels by Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting and The Acid House. One must keep the crack away from a crack addict.

One day, I think I will go back to reading books again. Just not yet.


For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

I am totally into e-reader devices and think the advent of them has changed reading habits and the publishing industry for good.

Paper is great still, and  think it will always be there, albeit perhaps in diminished form, but the notion of having a library on a tablet, and being able to read in the dark in night screen mode is fantastic. You just don’t want to drop that sucker in the bathtub if you like reading there is all.


So, what have you written?

Wedding Chronicles is my debut novel, and the first instalment of a trilogy. The summary/blurb is here below.

***
Life’s a wedding for Bobby Bo, who’s traveled to nearly 100, from Tenerife to Singapore and Chile to Iceland. He’s been best man, groomsman, “father” of the bride, and bridesmaid—but always the single guy, whether with a girlfriend, flying solo, breaking up, meeting a new flame, or witnessing an ex take her vows.

An interracial cast of diverse personalities from all rungs of the socioeconomic ladder entangles him in a kaleidoscope of comedic conversations and adventures that unveil the wounds and wonders of the places, cultures, and religions he encounters. Quirky, elegant, and quickly moving dialogue roams from agribusiness to colonialism, war to world trade, yielding insight into the state of world affairs. There’s even the odd sexcapade thrown into the mix. Each wedding features a music playlist that sets the mood and may provide clues as to what’s really going on.
Fueled by his and others’ experiences, Bobby Bo humorously offers the occasional wedding “how-to” and receives usually unasked-for advice on marriage and relationships, all the while being pressured to join “the club.” Will it ever end? He seems in no rush to be a groom.

This first novel in a trilogy is a roller-coaster romp through 13 weddings spanning two decades. It’s a genre-defying mashup best described as Wedding Crashers meets Up in the Air crossed with a biting, male Eat, Pray, Love on a James Bond backdrop.


What are you working on at the minute?

Answering all these interview questions for you. I started at 3am on Left Coast time, and it’s now almost 7:30am as I am about to finish. I didn’t answer the questions in sequence either.

Besides that, working on website related material, and the second instalment of Wedding Chronicles is well underway, but I won’t focus on that really hard core for another few months I reckon.


What’s it about?

It’s the next/second book in the series, but as I want to tell the story differently, it is told in an innovative way from what you might normally expect in a traditional sequel or prequel.  It will be both at the same time. The intention is that each book in the series can be read in standalone fashion, but the sum of them will collectively spin an interlocking, more sweeping and deeper saga.


Where can we see or buy your book?

The ebook is available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo in all country markets. Trade paperback availability is expected end January on Amazon and CreateSpace in all their country markets.

Where can people connect with you?

E-mail

Website

Twitter

FacebookFan and Personal pages

GoodreadsBook and Author pages

Pinterest 

Google+

Grooveshark for the music playlists


Thank you for your extensive interview, Bob.
Subject: Prologue - Saint(e)-François(e)
(Posted on Jan 21, 2014 at 10:40PM ) Tags:
One might think that a simple name like Saint-François (Saint Francis) and its companion feminine derivative, Sainte-Françoise, would be a straightforward matter. No, no, no, because we are talking Catholic Church in Quebec. Lulu knew this stuff dead cold, and went on a lot about it to me back when I was working together with him as a teenager.

In fact, there are so many places of the same base name, that the omniscient “ they” (i.e. the Church) had to put a lot of descriptive extensions thereafter to keep them all straight. Yet Lulu had them all down pat inside his head. Of course he did! 

Remember, for the purposes of this discussion, we are keeping it all inside Quebec.  It’s crazy, but here’s a non-exhaustive list:

Saint-François (Laval)
Saint-François-de-l'Île-d'Orléans
Saint-François-de-la-Rivière-du-Sud
Saint-François-Ouest
Saint-François-Régis
Saint-François-Solano
Saint-François-Station
Saint-François-du-Lac (of/on  the lake)
Saint-François-de-Sales
Saint-François-d'Assise

Note there are several "Saint-François-Xavier," "Saint-François-d'Assise", and "Saint-François-de-Sales" spots. And with all of the above, there is further discrimination between a village, geographical area, and an unincorporated area. Makes perfect sense to me!

It is also an electoral district, Saint-François, created in 1972 as well. D-oh! What the #@&%?!

Yo, it’s a river, and a lake (and national park/wildlife area)! 
Saint-François (River)
Lac (Lake) Saint-François
Plage (Beach) St-François - summer hamlet on south shore of Lac Saint-François
Baie St-François - long open bay of Lac Saint-François in front of Valleyfield

Naturally, to stay consistent, there is also a second Lac Saint François as well, but in all fairness, it's (usually) called Le Grand (Big) lac Saint François, but I wonder if it is actually bigger than the other one. Hey, why not a third while we're at it?

Add an “e” to both ends of the name in general, making it feminine, and may the mayhem morph much more. This be out of control.

Sainte-Françoise (Bas-Saint-Laurent)
Sainte-Françoise (Centre-du-Québec)
Sainte-Françoise-de-Lotbinière
Sainte-Françoise-de-Cabrini
Sainte-Françoise-Cabrini (it ain’t the same as the one above)
Sainte-Françoise-Romaine (x2 actually; yeah, I know, go figure)

Want to ever hide from folks? Who needs to run off to some remote spot off the grid. Just tell them you are in Saint(e)-François(e). Be nice and specific—let ‘em know it’s in the province of Quebec., to give them a fair start. 

Here’s a great resource if you are REALLY curious about all this, and have some spare time on your hands.
Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB)
You can query this puppy all day long for mounds of mirth and mischief.

This other place name site was also pretty useful as well.

Hey, don’t blame me for all this. I just grew up there well after the fact. My head hurt just even trying to put this all together in rather rough form as it is.

And the world ain’t complicated either. Best to stick to single guy wedding travels all over the world for fun and games.



Subject: Amman #52 - Super-Secret Sqiurrel Stuff
(Posted on Jan 20, 2014 at 10:54PM ) Tags:
So yeah, since this puppy was set in the Middle East (or Middle Crease as I referred to it), you just know there is a lot of stuff going on in those parts that is not front and center in the media. It’s not just some casual wedding backdrop for a single guy’s comedic adventures, although it may seem that way on the surface.

It was pretty early on when this “CIA, Mossad, IIS Directorate 9, Mukhabarat, and MISIRI-cum-VEVAK” string got thrown out there. Okay, for many a folk, CIA and Mossad would set the general tone and lend a clue, but what about those other names in there? Let’s take them briefly down in order, but we all know representatives of these entities, and many others unnamed here, be crawling around the region.

Okay, IIS was the Iraqi Intelligence Service generally, and also known as the Mukhabarat. There were different numbered Directorates or divisions, and number 9 was for Secret Operations, or what I euphemistically like to call Super-Secret Squirrel Shit (or Stuff, if you are more prim and proper). But hey, in this world we live in, forget that naïve, polite approach. Save that for your English teacher in grade school, kids. Directorate 9 supposedly specialized in sabotage and assassinations (perhaps a few operations were designed to look like accidents as needed, or even expiration by natural causes), but hey, they probably borrowed a page and traded notes with their good friends and drinking buddies in the Mossad. Who really knows what they were up to, especially these days, post Iraq War (or Invasion or Incursion or whatever you and your dog want to call it), since it was all supposedly dissolved. 

MISIRI stands for the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is that country’s  primary intelligence entity, but also goes by the names VEVAK, VAJA, and sometimes even MOIS, and was initially SAVAMA, and not the same as SAVAK, the secret police from back in the day of the Shah. All we’re missing here in the equation is a SHAZAM, and I’m not talking about that handy dandy song identification service of the same name, which in reality, probably does a whole lot more good in the world all by itself than all them others combined.

And while we’re at it, and on topic, what ‘s with that massive US Embassy compound in Amman? I mean look at the size of this sucker. The first two two photos don't really do it justice in terms of how big it really is,, but this third aerial shot yields a little more perspective. There are colleges out there on the planet smaller than this compound. 


For such a small country (estimated population of 6.5M as at July 2012), Jordan sure has a large American “diplomatic” presence in Amman. Yeah, right, let’s spin some other story on that. Maybe it’s all for“cultural research” or something like that. Righto, you go ahead and believe all that if you want to, just like with reality TV.

Even if you are just going to places like this for wedding fun, you can't help but notice other stuff going on in the background sometimes.