Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who Is Imogen Gray? - A Leap Year Day Mystery

Update: I'm not sure if I just completely missed the boat or if something has changed, but the name on the email is Imogen Reed, not Imogen Gray.  Weird.

There is, of course, an easy way to answer that question.  It involves replying to an email.  There is also a hard way.  I'm choosing the latter, due to my desire to fill some space and amuse myself.

I received an email today from someone calling themselves Imogen Gray.  First off, nice name.  With a name like that, you have to become a writer, a porn star, the editor of an underground blog about your favorite aboveground parking lot band (it's like a garage band, only you've probably never heard of it because you're old), or take on an alter-ego as a supervillain intent on destroying the world.  Note: I'm going to refer to this person as a woman in the rest of this piece because it gets all awkward otherwise.

Here's the text of the email from, with the subject "Professional Copywriting for The Blognostifier".
Howdy there,
Hope you had a great weekend! I'm just getting in touch to ask if you're in need of any freelance writing at The Blognostifier - if so, it'd be an honor to help out and I would love to get involved if you have any need for me.

I'm 29 have been working full-time as a professional writer and researcher for five years now; in that time there isn't a lot I haven't already covered (there are a few samples below for you to check out). Anything I send over would be written with the site's readership in mind - as long as you're happy with the resulting material, you'd be welcome to publish it as you see fit and the content will be owned by you entirely (in that I won't send it to anyone else, either before or after publication).

The good news is that I'd be able to offer my services at no charge; the only thing I would ask in return is that I'm able to include a link to a site within the article - nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance on behalf of. Otherwise I'd be happy to chat about alternative arrangements.
Do let me know if you're interested, and if so I can get something written for you over the course of the next few days. Needless to say, the offer is open to any other sites you might own as well as blognostifier.blogspot.comI appreciate that this kind of offer is not for everyone however, so if I don't hear from you I won't trouble you again.

Very best,

Some samples for your delectation:

She has a fairly good grasp of grammar and spelling.  Sure, it's not exactly how I would word it, but the fact that she used the correct possessive form is practically stunning.  I was beginning to feel like she knew me, that she'd actually taken the time to read my blog.  And that's when my eyes got all squinty (due to suspicion instead of Asian), my eyebrow went up like it does when I'm about to question something or when My Lovely Wife steps out of the shower, and I thought "waaaaaait, something doesn't seem quite right."

I looked up her name first.  If all 29 year old professional writers look like this, someone needs to update the career information that my high school guidance counselor had.  In the interest of science, I perused some of these pictures hoping that I might see some action shots (of her writing something).  After a solid 30 minutes of photographic research, I decided that perhaps Imogen-the-Writer was not the same person as Imogen-Who-Forgot-To-Wear-Most-Of-Her-Clothes.  Sad, but true.

So I checked out the email address.  That took me to another blog called Slidebar. Horror of horrors, I was not the only person to receive this email!

I was hurt and betrayed.  After all, it's not often that a lingerie model with literary aspirations contacts me out of the blue.  And then to find out that she has been in touch with other bloggers?  Using the same pick up line?  I felt dirty.  I considered taking a shower, but decided to go pick up My Lovely Wife from her evening with the Brownies instead (I do it for the cookies).

Upon my return, I went right back into detective mode.  I used a computer in a different room than the one My Lovely Wife was in, just in case she should look over and get the wrong idea as to why I was scrutinizing these pictures of a primarily undressed woman.  There was a chance that I may have been too hasty in judging the woman in the pictures as not looking to make her living as a writer, and I felt it was my moral obligation to keep on checking to keep my prejudices in line.

Eventually, I checked out the other links that I found, including some of the ones sent in the email.

And that's when I LOL'd.  I LOL'd so much, I was in danger of LOLling myself out of my chair and ROFLing.

In an article for blackpresence, which seems to be a website dedicated to profiling the experience of European Blacks (I decided I can say Blacks because it's not called colouredpresence).  I skimmed through an article about Josephine Baker attributed to Imogen and the style of writing could best be described as somewhere around Junior High.  For example, this is the opening line:
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of the dancer Josephine Baker in the annals of European Black History in this century. 
I think I started most of the essays I wrote in grade 8 the same way.
It would be impossible to say that the character of Shylock in William Shakespeare's play "The Merchant of Venice" has no redeeming qualities.
Okay, I didn't actually write that in grade 8.  I didn't study Merchant until Grade 10, but if I had written a paper on it back then, that's totally how I would have written it to get to my required word count.  Interesting note: Imogen's article is 1062 words long.  I'm willing to bet that when she did the word count, she was probably filled with a sense of a job well done for coming in over target.

But of course, back then I didn't have wikipedia.  Lucky for Imogen, she does.  Unluckily for Imogen, the majority of people that write entries for wikipedia aren't all journalism majors.  Or English majors.  Or English.  It didn't take very long to determine that Imogen might be lifting a little bit from other sources and changing the words enough so it's not outright plagiarism, but not enough that it isn't.

The best part?  That part about including a link in the text?  She really means it.  Imogen, using keywords and adwords is one thing... but this takes the cake.
So who was Josephine Baker, and how did it all begin? She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Carrie McDonald. Carrie had been adopted by Richard and Elvira McDonald, both of whom had worked as slaves and were of African and Native American descent. There were no 0% overdraft options in those days, and so they lived in poverty.
Why, it's written so seamlessly you can hardly notice where the advertisement is!

Imogen, if you are reading this, you are absolutely welcome to submit work to me, and I will ENTHUSIASTICALLY post it on my site. I do, however, reserve the right to use the copy in whatever form I choose including, but not limited to, making fun of it in whatever capacity I deem fit.

Did you notice my use of caps lock and bold in that last paragraph?  I was using that for subtle emphasis.

Happy Leap Year Day everyone!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reconnecting with Old Friends

I got a phone call from an old friend that I haven't talked to in a very long time, and that got me thinking about the fact that I haven't been in the mood to write a new post here in a while, and then that got me into a guilt spiral, and that got me sitting down and watching a movie which was really good and got me back into a guilt spiral for not writing anything in a while, so that got me into having some lunch and watching an episode of Futurama on Netflix - which amused me quite a bit - which then just pushed me further into a guilt spiral, so HERE I AM.

The biggest and best thing to happen since my Valentine's Day post is that we received notification from the province that we are officially on The List.

My Lovely Wife and I have wanted children for a long time, but haven't had any luck (insert your own "getting lucky" pun here).  I famously said last year that I really want children because I want a lawnmower and a snow blower that can't work for ten years, and then won't work.  Okay, maybe I didn't famously say that, but it was one of the jokes I used in my stand up act last year, and that's a kind of fame.

But seriously, we've always wanted children, and thankfully, we put our names into the adoption bucket back when we first started trying because it's taken eight years to get to this point.  EIGHT YEARS.  Let me put that into perspective for you.
  • Shrek 2 was the highest grossing movie of the year.  
  • The Rick Mercer Report debuted.
  • Friends ended.
  • Amy Poehler joined Tina Fey doing the Weekend Update on SNL.
What I'm trying to say is that it was a long time ago.  A younger, gentler time, in which we'd only been trying to help clean up the mess in Afghanistan for two years. Paul Martin had been the Prime Minister for only a few months.  World of Warcraft didn't even come out until the end of 2004!

It was a long time ago.

And now it's done.  We've done the paperwork, we've gotten the forms filled out, we did the interviews and the homestudies and the courses.  Now all we have to do is wait for the call. 

Here's the thing about adopting... it's all waiting until it's done. 

I've got some more to say on this subject, but I have to go to work now.

Oh - and I got a copy of the video of my stand-up performance!  I'm going to play with the editing a little and add a laugh track, but then I'll post it here!

For now, good to talk to you again old friend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Post-Valentine's Day Round Up

6:30 AM
Holiday cards and chocolates are exchanged.  Cats do not seem to appreciate the reason they have been given extra treats today.  Hope to not find cat barf when we come home.

7:55 AM
Drop off at work.  Exchange terms of endearment and further wishes for to have a happy Valentine's Day, regardless of the fact that it is a day that is supposed to be shared between loved ones and we will be separated for most of the day.  Hope that card and chocolates exchanged earlier will cause spouse to think twice about finding someone else to love during the course of the day and dump me.  Card had bedazzled glass heart glued on it, feel good about my chances.

4:30 PM
Call wife to find out if she will come to pick me up instead of me walking over to her office.  Leave voicemail message because she is on the phone.  Pick up my cell phone, there is a voicemail message from her asking if I am meeting her or if she is picking me up.  Massive coincidence, or proof of God?  I decide it's a massive coincidence that God caused this.  Marvel at how similar our thought patterns are.  Remember some of the things I've thought of and am slightly horrified.

4:50 PM
Picked up by wife.  Discuss Valentine's Day adventure of grabbing bite to eat and catching a movie.  Need to run home first to grab movie passes and find out what is playing.

5:05 PM
I love my wife, but I also love living in a city where rush hour traffic is 15 minutes.  Wife is not as pleased by the fact that it took that long just to go one block from her parking lot to mine, but since I didn't experience it it doesn't count against my feeling good.

5:15 PM
Cannot decide on a movie that we are mutually interested in seeing.  Further research also tells us that tonight is cheap night at the movies and the one sappy love story movie is sold out.  Decide to get something to eat then watch something through video on demand.

5:20 PM
Cannot decide on a restaurant that we are mutually interested in eating at/would possibly have space for us with no reservations/will allow us in after having changed into our "comfy clothes".

5:25 PM
On route to grocery store to get something to make a nice romantic meal at home, and also some snacks for the movie.

6:00 PM
Return home with frozen Chinese entrĂ©es and no snacks.  We are living it up.  Watch two episodes of "My Name is Earl" while preparing meal.  Season 5 Christmas Special helps us get into the holiday spirit.

6:45 PM
Begin dining on our fine selection of Chinese foods.  Realize that we could have purchased ready made Chinese at a restaurant for almost the price of what we paid, however we also purchased a vegetable tray and an extra cucumber that you cannot buy at a traditional Chinese restaurant, so feel pretty good about our decision.  Finish one more episode of Earl while dining.

7:15 PM
Dishes put away and dishwasher running.  We head to the TV to find a movie that we both want to see.

7:30 PM
After looking at 200+ possibilities, decide on the movie "Dirty Girl".  It turns out to not be soft core porn, which is both a pleasant surprise and mildly disappointing.  It also turns out to be rather good, and a highly recommendable watch.

9:30 PM
Movie complete, we move the action back upstairs.  Further discussion about dinner choice.  Wonder if the cashier thinks it's weird that we bought a cucumber with our Chinese entrĂ©es, ultimately decide that the veggie tray should tell the right story.

10:00 PM
Climb into bed.  Further discussion about having a nice Valentine's Day.  Relieved that I have gone one more Valentine's Day without wife being wooed away by Ryan Reynolds in a romantically comedic fashion. Fall asleep like the old married heads that we are...  And love it.

Happy Valentine's Day to My Lovely Wife.

Monday, February 13, 2012

An Entirely Wasted Weekend

We were going to do something on Friday night, but I ended up working late, so we ditched that for an early night in and going to bed.

We were going to go to a birthday party for a friend on Saturday night, but then the snow started and the party got postponed so everyone would be safer at home than on the road.

We had no plans to go out on Sunday, because that was going to be our day to stay inside and do nothing at all.  So we did.  Nothing at all.

It was beautiful.

I'm no expert on the matter, but I think this is pretty much what it's like when you have kids all the time.  Just whole weekends of just doing whatever you want because you don't want to go outside.  So you just kick back and read and catch up on some tv that you've missed.  A great ol' weekend.

I'm not even going to think about the missed opportunities to get some real writing done, or maybe work on one of the projects I've got ongoing, or even the work that I brought home with me from the office.  Nope, not going to think about that at all.

In other news, yesterday was also my mom's birthday, so super shout out to you Mom!  I know you're reading this because you're my number one fan (though you kind of have to be given the nature of our relationship).  It's true you know.  I bet if I was an outlaw, she'd still tell people that I'm special.  "That Weh-Ming, he might rob banks, but he's so polite when he does it. I'm sure people don't mind.  And did you see him on the CBC?"

Happy birthday Mom!  (And per our earlier conversation, and to the best that I've been able to find, it was mainly cloudy with snow and showers.)

And there you have it.  I spent the weekend not doing anything, and feeling guilty about it after.  It's kind of like I'm squandering my potential.

On the other hand, I could have been robbing banks.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yes, I Didn't Write Anything Today

What are you gonna do about it?  Huh?  Huh?

I'm sorry, I over reacted.  Let's not fight.  I don't want to be like those other couples that you see, where one person is always blogging and the other is always reading and then complaining when there's nothing to read.  Let's start over.

Nope.  Still nothing.

Sorry.  This has never happened before.  I mean, I really like you, I do.  No, it's not you, it's me.  I'm just... I guess I just have a lot on my mind right now.  Look, maybe we should just take a little break and come back to it.  I guess I just want this too much right now, and you know, you can't force these things.

Nah, I'm just pulling your leg.  I'm just out of funny things to say write at the moment.  In the meantime, go look at some pictures of cats.  What are internet cats doing now?  I bet it's adorable!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Number Three!

Could it be that my near perfect portrayal of "Tree Number Three" was just a premonition of my success this evening? No, because that is stupid talk.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I came in third place in the CBC Open Mic Contest tonight at the kick off of the HubCap Comedy Festival.

There was some very stiff competition, and some competition that had had some very stiff drinks.

This time around was MUCH better than last year - and not just because I placed and won two all access passes to the events around town.  I also did much better at remembering my act, which really goes a long way toward your success as a comedian I understand.

Big thanks to everyone that came out to watch me tonight - sorry you weren't all able to be there, but honestly, seating was limited, so it was probably best that you stayed home rather than suffer the disappointment of having to stand.

Nikki Payne was one of the guest judges, which was very cool....aaaand I'm just now realizing that I forgot to ask her for an autograph after the show.  Damn it.

For anyone that's wondering what it was like, my good buddy Jay recorded it... if the quality is any good, I'll post a link here.

Talk to you later!

Monday, February 6, 2012


I have a not-so-secret confession to make.

I have a problem with a colour.

Everyone has a favourite colour, or if that language is too exclusive for you, a colour that you would select over the others should a mad man point a loaded chicken at your head and force you to choose (I did say he was mad).

Conversely, I believe people have a least favourite colour as well.  One in which if the aforementioned mad man were to threaten me with wearing a shirt of that colour or face the wrath of his loaded chicken, I would give serious thought to how loaded the chicken was.  And with what.

For me, that colour is yellow.  I don't like it.  Not even a little bit.  It sets me on edge and gives me a headache.

There are only a few concessions I have made to this horrid colour (and I can call it a horrid colour because this is my blog).  For one, the kitchen and the stairwell to the basement are both yellow.  My Lovely Wife tells me it's more cream than yellow, which has helped me deal with it to a degree.  I can't help but feel that if you were to ask her without me present, she would smile and change the topic rather than risk me overhear her admission that she's pulled a yellow kitchen over my head.

The other concession I make is my wedding ring, forever linking me to the woman who convinced me that cream isn't yellow.

I just discovered that a new friend of mine has a similar dislike for yellow.  Discovering this was sort of like how I imagine it must feel for that poor guy who thinks he's a freak because all he dreams about is of dressing up like cute woodlands creatures in Star Trek uniforms, and then discovers a website of like-minded freaks.  One of the happiest days of my his life, I'm sure.

We had a short discussion about yellow and I brought up that I don't even like Post It notes.  You know how some people use Post It notes as a way to remind them to do things?  I use them as a way of reminding me to do especially onerous tasks or things with horrible deadlines.  That way, when I have completed the task I get to remove the yellow from my field of vision.  It's cathartic.  (I used "onerous" and "cathartic" in the same paragraph.  Look out world, you got a badass over here.)

I responded like anyone would when finding out that I wasn't alone: I got really excited and started talking about it to anyone who would listen in the hopes of finding more people with similar tastes.  It didn't work.  But a couple of weeks later, I did get something in the mail.


This package couldn't have arrived at a better time, as it was a very nice bright and shiny spot in my otherwise very insane work schedule.  My Lovely Wife took your note a little more to heart than I anticipated.  I went looking for them so I could write this post and found them on her desk.

In other non-yellow related news, I made it into the CBC Open Mic contest!  So come on down and see me choke on Wednesday, February 8 at 7PM at the Pump House in beautiful downtown Moncton.  I like stacking the audience with friendly people. Plus, I don't feel shame like normal people, so if I do crash and burn, I don't feel like I have to threaten anyone with a loaded chicken to keep them from talking about it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Phew, That WAS a Long Time

That was a much longer break than I thought it would be.  And by break, I am referring only to the fact that I haven't had a new post in a while.

In fact, I've been almost completely off the net.  I believe I may have spent a total of about 20 minutes in the last two weeks checking email, and maybe another 5 minutes on twitter and facebook combined.  If I hadn't been so overworked (as in I did a 40 hour work week by Wednesday last week), I would be going through withdrawal.

But now it's all almost over.  I have a couple more weeks of heavy workload, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

This isn't going to be a long post, but I did want to say thanks to everyone who voted for me in the CBC Open Mic Contest.  I didn't win it this year, but I am in the top ten again!  I'll be at the Pump House here in Moncton on February 8 at 7PM.  Get there early, the place fills up FAST.  Also, the drunker you are, the funnier I am.

Happy Friday to everyone, I hope you have a great weekend and I'll try to come up with something witty for next week.