Monday 25 June 2012

Don’t Lecture - Entertain Me!

The other day, an American interviewer challenged me about the purpose of fiction; should it always contain a moral message?  Specifically, should crime fiction?

My instant answer:  No No No!  The purpose of crime fiction should be to Entertain, and nothing should come before that.

Why?  We have countless other venues that preach morality. Religions seek to teach us how to behave.  Every day we are bombarded by newspapers, radio and other nonfiction outlets, that expose us to the ‘evil’ of greedy politicians, nasty world despots and out of control celebrities. 

If fiction – and crime fiction in particular – was required to follow a moral code, we would miss so much.  If the good guy always won – if the bad guy always got caught – wouldn’t that make crime fiction lamentably predictable?

Does that mean crime fiction can’t teach us something?  Of course it can!  Put me in the mind of a serial killer for a few hours.  Let me know what it feels like to experience the overwhelming greed of a con artist.  Dress me up as a torch singer, with a black heart and a gun in her stocking.

Let me discover something about how other people think, if only for a little while.  But above all else, entertain me.  Don’t preach at me, even from a distance.  I don’t want it from my fiction.

Just tell me a damn good story, thank you.  Take me out of the real world for a few hours.

That’s the purpose of crime fiction.

Sunday 17 June 2012

ARE YOU A DAD? Take this quiz to find out

Just in time for Father's Day, here's a 10 point quiz to help you remember if you are a DAD:

1.  Do you own at least one painted rock paperweight?

2.  Do you know all the cheapest restaurants in town?

3.  Does your night life involve Children's Tylenol?

4.  Would you sell your soul for a sitter on Saturday night?  How about your first born?

5.  Do you habitually run over unidentified plastic action figures when mowing the grass?

6.  Have you ever gone miles out of your way on vacation to find a clean washroom?

7.  Do you jump when any little voice yells "Dad!"

8.  Have you ever encountered "The Phantom Piddler?"  In the car?  On your pants?

9.  Have you ever prompted your boss to "say the magic word?"

10.  Does your concept of an ideal vehicle include sound-proof glass between the front and back seats?

How to Score:  (Not THAT kind of score...)

0 to 2:  Nope, not a Dad.  Although it's possible to know where the cheap restos are and locate clean washrooms, failure to answer No. 4 with a resounding "YES!!YES!!" is a dead giveaway.

3-10.  Yup.  Dad material.  Get ready for another painted rock paperweight this weekend.

But there is a bright side to this career.  The Dad in this house once stunned an entire room of professionals playing Trivial Pursuit, with the correct answer to 'Portuguese for 'open''.  He learned it from Sesame Street.

Friday 15 June 2012

It's a Guy Thing continued....MEN WITHOUT FOOD

I have come to the conclusion that men need women for the simple reason that without us, men would starve to death.  It's amazing.  I've seen grown men - guys who play the stock market for fun and laugh at the traffic on the 401 - do their entire grocery shopping at the corner Mac's Milk.

Don't ask me how it got this way, but it's been like this since the first caveman brought home the first dinosaur steak and threw it at his wife instead of on the fire.  Don't believe me?  Here's a snapshot of our pre-camping organization meeting last year:

Karl:  "So we have the tents, sleeping bags, Coleman stove, shotguns, ammo...that's everything, right?"

Bob (thoughtfully):  "Fuel for the stove?"

Karl (trumphant):  "got it."

Me:  "ummmm.....what about food?"

Bob:  "Food?"  Everyone looks blank.

Wil (inspired):  "Hot dogs.  I've got hot dogs!  And buns."  The guys all nod wisely.

Me:  "ummm...we're going away for three days, and we're going to live on hot dogs - FOR THREE DAYS?"

Karl (puzzled):  "Oh.  Well, I'm bringing coffee."

Me:  "Look.  I hate to tell you this, but coffee, hot dogs, beer and tobacco do not constitute the five major food groups. "

Bob (decisively):  "She's right, Karl.  We should buy some chocolate."

Men may be able to bring home the bacon, but don't ever ask them to cook it.

Thursday 7 June 2012