The university robots think my name is Phoenix… and other news

Another week drags on… seems like on Wednesday I had some clever idea for a blog post but I was lazy and didn’t write it so now I’ve forgotten and here we are.

Well, one can argue blog posts are never as clever as the blogger might think.

So what have I done this week?

1. I submitted my application to that local university and now I’m waiting to hear back from the admissions clerks as to exactly what transcripts they want me to provide so I can send those along.

Funny side note: 25 years ago in high school I used to use the nickname “Phoenix” for whatever dumb reason (basically because goth and teen angst or some such crap).

You might note I don’t use that name anymore. Not that I have anything against it, it just wasn’t me… or maybe it was too much me, considering how many times over my life I’ve destroyed my old world and started fresh somewhere else doing something else…

Anyway, I did mention in the “former names” part of the application one version of my current name that had Phoenix as a middle name, which I only listed because I have an old transcript from Emily Carr which has my name listed like that and I figured I’d better cover my ass and include it. However, the application asks you for your preferred name and I go by Pyra so that’s what I put.

Well… when I got the robo-email from the local university telling me they received my application, it began with “Hello Phoenix…”


I do recall that in high school, I applied for 4 schools (this one, UBC, SFU, and Emily Carr) and I was accepted into all 4, starting at Emily Carr then quickly realizing I didn’t fit in there so I quit and went to UBC. My best guess is that my old “personal education number” on my new application pinged their database from 25 years ago and what came back was “Phoenix,” my preferred name of that time, not my current info.

In which case maybe all this application stuff is a formality since I was already accepted there way back when? Do acceptance offers expire? I have no idea.

I assume they’ll still want my more recent transcripts and of course they still want my portfolio, because that’s about acceptance into advanced standing for the writing program, which has nothing to do with acceptance into the school. And, technically speaking, I can drop that portfolio on them any time now (until the deadline in April), but I’ll take a week to polish a few things up before I email it in.

Anyway, it’s funny that my old fake name came back to me this week because:

2. I came up with a couple more pen names.

Not that they’re all that necessary, but if I’m gonna write Serious Theatre™, maybe I shouldn’t have a silly name like Draculea?

I don’t hate the name I picked to legally change to when I was 19, but there have been many times over the last 20+ years when I wish I’d maybe chosen a little more wisely. I could have gone with Pyra Drake, after all. Or some other variation that sounded a little more… sane? Reasonable? Normal? Except, of course, normal was what I was trying to get away from… although my birth name wasn’t really normal and in many ways it was fake too, being a phonetic spelling of a bizarre and rare Polish or Ukrainian name whose origins are shrouded in mystery.

And I’d say it’s been a solid 10 years since I decided that if I ever get married, I’m taking his last name, at least for daily life. (Earlier today I had to FedEx some documents to my brother in Mexico, which brings with it the big sigh of having to spell out my name for the clerk. At least today I got one who didn’t ask me any questions about it, probably because we were distracted in trying to guess the correct postal code for the destination and trying to see if there was any way to send the package that wouldn’t cost more than $100… point is, the name thing has started to become an annoyance.)

I’ve built a bit of a track record as Pyra Draculea in music and in comedy writing and related things, so I’ll keep up with that, but I don’t see submitting, say, a 10 minute play to one of the festivals or contests and having it taken seriously with that byline on it unless it was a play about Halloween themes.

Even then, why not start with a clean slate?

I’d already thought of a pen name for writing kids’ books over the summer and set up a dummy website for it, not that I’ve gotten anything finished for under that name, but this week I also came up with a playwright pen name, a non-fiction pen name, and a novelist pen name.

The novelist pen name turned out to already belong to another author, so I nixed that right away. You go for it, Shay Hunter, I hope you sell a million copies. Seriously. (Hunter is a name in one branch of my family tree, and if that’s Shay’s real name and not a pen name, we might well be related, especially considering that Shay is an Irish name… wonder if they’re from Belfast where some of my ancestors were?)

Besides, the non-fiction pen name I picked doesn’t even have any Google results on it. It seems no one has that name… except for me, now. I bought the URL and set up a quick and dirty “coming soon” web page. And I can always just use that for fiction as well as non-fiction.

The playwright name has several results on LinkedIn, but none are playwrights. One is a doctor who is also an author but of medical textbooks and she seems to mostly be known as a doctor and a lecturer, with the author thing being a more minor point as far as Google is concerned. I hope she doesn’t mind potentially be thought to also write plays, but as far as I know, with several other women of the same name out there, fair’s fair to use the name.

If all else fails, I have a backup to the playwright name, but for now, I also bought the URL and slapped up a “coming soon” page.

I’ll hold off mentioning my 3 pen names for now. I don’t really care if people find out those are me after thing are published or produced, since the point is more to make sure my work is judged on its own merits and not dismissed on account of the silly name I saddled myself with at 19, but there’s no sense of putting them out there too early.

Who knows… even later on, I might simply say “My friend F B wrote this, you might dig it” instead of openly pushing the connection. We’ll see.

The only other thing I’ll say is my brother really really likes my playwrighting pen name. To the point where it would not surprise me if he starts calling me that instead, LOL…

3. Been on a slight organizing and cleaning kick at home. Not too much, of course, since my housekeeping role model was always Peggy Bundy rather than Martha Stewart, but still.

Usually this ends up being a precursor to a period of frenzied writing.

4. I did write a new Zamo, it will be up tomorrow. Hopefully, I can get back to weekly episodes of that show.

I also screwed up something with the old Zamo WordPress theme and couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I’ve changed the theme for now. It’s not jungly like the old one, but it’s still green, and until I have the time and inclination to really mess around with it and make it better with some new art, it’ll have to do.

5. Did I mention doing a poetry anthology? I don’t think I did.

Well, there. Now I’ve mentioned it. It will cover 2009-2020, will include maQLu lyrics and writings from the old blog as well as some never released stuff (lyrics and other poems).

I will be self-publishing it, and debated doing the typical poetry collection thing of a small book with just type and a lot of white space, but then I remembered how much I loathed those when I used to be the arts director at CiTR Radio and a book reviewer for Discorder Magazine.

I’m sure those poets all mean well and are sincere, but there’s just something in that aesthetic that feels so… ugh… pretentious? Faux-modest? Cookie cutter?

I dunno.

I just know I used to know a dude who was a music promo guy and he was pretty cool, kinda a rock and roll edgy look with spiky hair, studded belt and wristbands, black jeans and band t-shirts and Converse sneakers… but then he decided he wanted to a poet and suddenly—pretty much overnight—he was wearing black-rimmed glasses and his hair slicked back and he was only wearing grey organic cotton and a long black scarf.

(Plus the obligatory vegan diet, of course.)

(And the faux Zen bullshit… it’s funny because some of us have actually studied Zen enough to know that it evolved to serve the spiritual needs of the samurai class, who would have laughed heartily at all the weak Western cuckboys who claim to follow its principles. And then the samurai would have solved that issue with one deft swing of their swords through the middle of the weak Western cuckboys. Zen is a bullet and it is blood just as much as it is raked waves in gravel or pictures of nature. It is finding the still centre in the midst of all the action as much as it is getting away from it all to sit still with no action, or the hope of no action… and let’s not even get started on the question of renunciatory practises, because I know the Kashmiri Shaivists have much to say about that… But I digress…)

Maybe the rock dude look was fake and pretentious too, but at least it felt authentic, like we were in the same tribe.

Not that I should care, I never slept with the dude, but he was on the outskirts of my circle and I remember the WTF when he did that 180.

Maybe it’s my fault. I shoulda slept with him. LOL…

Anyway, point is, the thought of going with the herd of how poetry books should be put out makes me wanna hurl. I think instead I’m gonna make mine kinda like a cross between ’70s old-school punk chic with the ransom note fonts (albeit in the current year, I guess this counts as an ironic use of that chic?) and ’90s zines, with photos and illustrations I’ve done mixed in with the poems.

Besides, I could use a good graphic design project.

I might even do a nod to David Carson’s famous typesetting of an interview with Bryan Ferry using dingbats… it would certainly solve the problem of a few old maQLu lyrics which now make me cringe.

Anyway, will try to get all that sorted out to have the poetry book released over the summer so it’s out of the way before I get to university.

It might become an annual project from here on in, actually. I’m writing a poem a night right now, which would then give me plenty to sort through and pick the best from next spring if this continues.

However, the cut-off will be a piece I wrote on Devil’s Night (October 30th, 2020). Everything beyond that goes to a future collection instead of the current one.

I have most of the content slapped into a Word document already. I will need to type up a bunch more maQLu lyrics including unused ones from notebooks as I find them, but I’m not going to sweat it too much. If anything isn’t there by Imbolc (February 1st), then it’s destined for a future collection as well.