Friday, November 02, 2007

Best Wishes Your Majesty & Your Royal Highness

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPrincess Galyani Vadhana, elder sister of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) and one of that kingdom's greatest humanitarians, has been in Bangkok's Siriraj Hospital since June, where she is being treated for abdominal cancer and, more recently, a cerebral embolism.

The King himself has been a patient there since October 13th, having experienced weakness due to a blood flow disorder, the Royal Household Bureau has stated.

The King - who last year celebrated 60 years on the throne - is reportedly making progress in his recovery, as is the Princess. Since being in hospital both the King and the Princess have received throngs of well-wishers - between 4,000 and 5,000 per day are reportedly visiting the hospital - as well as letters from Elizabeth II, Japan's Emperor Akihito, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

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1666: A Year in Review

The year 1666 was supposed to be the year the Earth ended, seeing as the Mark of the Beast - 666 - is right there in it.

Instead, it was called the Annus Mirabilis, or Year of Miracles, by its contemporaries, the name also being the title of a poem by John Dryden which was published the following year. Despite the utter destruction of London (hot on the heels, as it were, of a terrible plague in 1665), the year was fairly peaceful for the times, with only minor skirmishes between the English and Dutch navies.

Not only did the burning of London reduce the severity of successive plagues (at least, bubonically speaking), it cleared the way for the rebuilding of the muddy, thatched hovels of the medieval City with many a Baroque splendour; furthermore, in Oxford and Cambridge, a flowering of scientific and mathematical knowledge poured forth. Many of Sir Isaac Newton's greatest discoveries date from this year, not to mention the foundation of Sweden's Lund University and the French Academy of Sciences.

Those who died that year include the Dutch landscape artist Frans Hals and the builder of the Taj Mahal Shah Jahan, who was buried in his splendid creation next to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal.
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Mini-Milestone: 1666

Coming, as this does, hot on the heels of yesterday's state of the blog address, the challenge is to say something here that won't duplicate what I said previously. Which should be easy enough to do, given that I always seem to have something to say, not to mention seeming to have an opinion on everything (which is a little trick I do with mirrors), and a horror of repeating myself. The real challenge today, though, is in saying anything at all because I'm so damn tired.

In honour of this mini-milestone, then, I closed the boring old poll, mainly because I finally thought of a replacement, which I'll leave up until it bores me or I think of yet another (or, miracle of miracles, someone out there suggests another one). Four people voted in the old one, and the winner was current events. So I'll be writing more current events which, in addition to the earlier suggestion of "more sex" oughta put me right out of my comfort zone where, ironically, I'm most comfortable.

A n y w a y... I've often spoken about how the intent of this blog has changed since I began it, but I've been more reticent when it comes to talking about how I've changed during the same period. Approaching 1700 blog posts (which, even if the average one consisted of 100 words, is, by my calculator, a shitload of words) I have suddenly come to realize that I am not the same person on this end of them that I was on the other. 170,000 words is 3-4 novels' worth; not, maybe, a huge achievement for Vikram Seth, but from my point of view I feel like Shakespeare.

Even though writing a blog is a different discipline than writing a novel the act of putting this many words in one place has had a transformative effect on me; I no longer feel like a failing novelist but a successful writer, publisher, and (in the last month) editor as well. The ensuing sense of confidence is beginning to spill over into the rest of my personality, which previously could not be described as confident even by an imagination greater than my own. More on that in the days and weeks ahead...

The Canada Council - in its wisdom - won't give a writer any grant until that writer has published three books (or the equivalent), an asinine rule if ever there was one, seemingly designed to support those writers whose work has already found its niche in the marketplace, while suppressing new work - in contravention of its own mandate. I've always said that I would never take a grant from the Canada Council, loath as I am to align myself with any elite; however, people change, and even though the Canada Council's politics and perspective are anathema to me, the idea of free money with which I might buy a laptop, travel to New York City - oh, and support the furtherance of Canadian culture and ideas, blah blah blah - is an appealing one.

The task ahead - now that I've written the equivalent of my first three books - is to begin the arduous process of applying for one of those elusive, lucrative grants which, once I'm awarded one, will free me up to take this bad boy to the next level: self-sufficiency. Not only do I want this blog to pay for me and the lavish lifestyle to which I intend to become accustomed, but for my contributors (present and future) and theirs as well.

The humanitarian aims I first stated on January 26th, 2006 - the day this blog was founded - remain in place; using pop culture as a lens with which all human endeavour can be observed, educating through entertainment (ie: Edutainment), and the bringing together of disaparate cultures in a defense against corporate globalization are and will always be the reasons why I sit in that chair every day and spool out the things I do.

Thanks again for reading,


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