Archive for March, 2007

Horrors, Day One

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Yesterday was the first day of the World Horror Convention here in Toronto.  It was kind of low key because a lot of the attendees will not be arriving until today.  Still, I saw writer Joe Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep) and cartoonist Gahan Wilson almost immediately when I walked in the door.

I spent most of the evening hanging out in the dealer’s room catching up on the rising stars in the field.  Had dinner with my friend and Guest of Honor, Don Hutchison over at Greenjeans in the Eaton Centre.  I hadn’t been there in years, however, it was just as underwhelming as always.  Mediocre food, served by zombies, perfect for the tourist trade.

If Greenjeans was anywhere else but in the biggest tourist trap in town, it would be out of business.

The early arrivals party was great except that the press of bodies heated the suite up like a sauna.  Hey, I’m Canadian and all that heat is hard on my system.  However, it was a great place to meet horror fans from all over the world.

There are some interesting film previews including a new NFB short by Ray Harryhausen based on Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” which I am currently dashing out the door to catch.

That’s it for now. 

New Features on the Site

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

It is hard to believe that this is the third month of Sparkplug.  I have officially posted over 50 times to the site and, as I see from my site meter, the traffic is increasing daily.

Over on the sidebar on the right you will notice a couple of new additions.  Since I am getting a lot of traffic I thought it would be appropriate to put up a copyright notice.  I have posted a fair use license which you can view by clicking on the icon.

If you are not familiar with Creative Commons here is a little information.

“Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved.” We’re a nonprofit organization. Everything we do – including the software we create – is free.”

You can learn more about Creative Commons at their website

The other addition to the sidebar is a description of my new workshop “Zen and the Art of Powerful Presentations”.  This goes along with my oft cited concerns about bad presentations made worse by PowerPoint. 

Now, in a mere six hours, you can learn how to avoid making common mistakes and make your next presentation a winner.  I am teaching my first class out of town next week and I plan to share some of the material in this Blog in the months to come.

Well, I am going out the door to the World Horror Convention for the weekend and I will be posting on it next week.

That’s all for now.

OOOhh that’s scary!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

My posting on Friday regarding scary scenes from movies still is generating mail…

Other scary movie favourites from the readers include:

  • The Uninvited (1940’s ghost film)
  • The Changling
  • Donnie Darko (especially Frank the Bunny)
  • Cronos
  • Halloween
  • The Lady in White (1980’s ghost story)
  • The Exorcist
  • The Ring
  • Jaws
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • and finally…
  • The Cat in the Hat (?)

Keep the suggestions coming folks as we celebrate World Horror Convention Week here in Toronto.

More on dummies…

Monday, March 26th, 2007

My comments on ventriloquists certainly touched a nerve.  I have received a lot of mail and comments about it since Friday including this e-mail from Conrad Lippincott who apparently is the Chief Operating Officer of the International Ventriloquist Society.  He was quite alarmed by my comments and wanted to clarify some misperceptions he claims I have created.

“Mr. McGarvey,  As the President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Ventriloquists Society I take great offense to your characterization of our membership as practicing a “disturbing hobby” and being “borderline schizophrenic“. (more…)

Dummies for dummies…

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

With the World Horror Convention only a week away I got thinking about the scariest scene ever in a movie.  Now, I know that this is purely subjective and that we each react to things differently. 

You may, for example, consider Kathy Bates nude scene in About Schmidt as the most terrifying thing you have ever seen, or perhaps it was John Travolta’s performance in Battlefield Earth. (more…)

The Convenient Truth…

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007


In all my years in communications and marketing I must have been responsible for the death of hundreds of trees.  Even in the age of electronic communication we are still using far too much paper and paper products.  The unfortunate thing about that is that paper comes from ground up trees. 

Yesterday, Scholastic Press announced that the new Harry Potter book would be printed on eco friendly paper, including fully recycled stock.  And from the advance orders on this book that is a heck of a lot of trees breathing a sigh of relief.


It’s Coming!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

I have never made a secret out of the fact that one of my guilty pleasures are horror films.  I prefer the classic black and white creature features from Universal or the colour ones from England’s Hammer Films.  I am not so fond of the “hack and slash” or horror porn films that feature graphic depictions of torture and dismemberment.

At the end of next week here in Toronto (and for the first time outside of the United States) the World Horror Convention is coming to town.  This, of course, is nirvana for any horror fan.  The focus of the event will be on the literary aspects of horror but there will be lots for any media fan as well.

I am especially excited that my friend (and Sparkplug reader) Don Hutchison is one of the guests of honour at the event.  I could fill pages with Don’s many achievements as a writer, editor and filmmaker and I am really pleased to see him honoured by his peers in the field. 

Other guests for the weekend include writer Joe Lansdale and cartoonist Gahan Wilson.  I understand that there are still some passes available and for information go to the World Horror Convention Website.

More cellphone madness and The Host…

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

I was talking yesterday about the freedom we all now enjoy to carry our cellphone numbers from provider to provider. (more…)

Cellphone number portability at last!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Cellphone users of the world (well Canada) rejoice, you have nothing to lose but one of your chains.  After stalling for two years cellphone providers have finally knuckled under to CRTC pressure and now allow you to take your phone number with you when you give your provider du jour the heave ho. (more…)

Lord Black prosecutor “out of control” and The Host trailer

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Sorry, I haven’t been posting as much as usual.  I’ve been busy this week writing a workshop on presentations.  In some of my past postings I have had a lot to say about presentations and PowerPoint.  Now, I get to put my mouth where the money is.  (more…)

The zen of cover letters

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

As I talked about in previous postings cover letters are one form of creative writing that I just haven’t mastered yet.  However, the more I research the topic the more excited I become.

The zen of the cover letter appears to be self promotion.  (more…)

Herding the mob…

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Great story on Wired’s site today Herding the Mob about how we can be manipulated and defrauded using online rating systems such as the one on Ebay. 

According to Wired

“As rating systems have become more popular there has been what some would say is a predictable response: the emergence of scammers, spammers, and thieves bent on manipulating the mob. Call it crowdhacking.”

A nice way to start Fraud Awareness Month…

More about cover letters and The Big Circus…

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

How much does a good cover letter mean?  Having read hundreds of them on the hiring side of the desk I think they are the most important part of the package.

If you have had good, progressive experience and can summerize it effectively in your resume then that shows that you have the requisite skills, experience and expertise.  Unfortunately, so I am beginning to believe, do the hundreds of other resumes that the hiring manager is reading at the same time. (more…)