Thursday, August 31, 2006

TRH Movie - Paul Schneider = Hot. Always.

Last year, I went to go see Elizabethtown, which is an entirely mediocre movie, as I've said in these very pages. I've been rewatching it tonight in bits and pieces. But you know even if the movie is a total mess and the script kind of mundane, there's a bare twinkle of a heart there. It's faint goodness, like an almost half-dead star, comes from Paul Schneider, whom I adore. ADORE. Like want to run him up here to Canada and give him a big arty hug.

Because when he says, "This loss with be greeted with a hurricane of love." I've spent every minute since replaying that line in my head, so much so that it's all over my thoughts for the (I'm hesitating) "novel" I'm working on right now. It's about death, for sure, but it's also about mothers who should have never had kids, about a time where it was very rough, and about how the place defines you.

Annwaayyy. Elizabethtown was better the second time around, it became slightly more nuances, due, entirely to the main two male leads. But especially with Paul Schneider. Because damn, if he ain't the hottest thing in the movie, well, I might have to light fire to a giant freebird myself.

Aw, So Funny

Despite how funny this post is from Torontoist, still, under no circumstances, not even if Entertainment Weekly asked me to review it, would I go see Bon Cop, Bad Cop.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

100 Mile Diet

I am absolutely fascinated by the 100 Mile Diet. Especially with the stat that "when the average North American sits down to eat, each ingredient has typically travelled at least 1500 miles from farm to plate."

Imagine all that gas, all those trucks, all that industry, that's just gone in to my eating a potato with my frozen (but now cooked, obviously) tuna burger. I wouldn't even know where to start. In my pale "environmentalism," I carefully check the labels so that I'm buying Canadian produce, but that doesn't mean that it still hasn't travelled hours and hours and kilometres and kilometres to get to the grocery store.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Cold Grabbed My Brain And Wouldn't Let Go

So, I slept until 1 PM this afternoon. Truly, I haven't done that since my mid-twenties. Then, yesterday I shaved one of my legs in the shower and, well, not the other.

Today I spent much of it doing research for the Western. I am 171 pages in and trying to figure out where to do some workshopping. One friend suggested Humber College - but it's $2500 - which is a heck of a lot.

But it might be totally worth it and I know the writer I want to work with would be excellent.

Anyway. I am reading too, but most of the books I can't talk about for a few weeks.

Anyone out there taken a good writing seminar? Any suggestions?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Crap.

I have a cold. Sniff. And I feel very sorry for Pluto (link via Idiosyncratic Mind). Is it wrong to apply totally random human emotions on a ball of floating gassy ice (if that's even what it's made out of)?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

TRH TV - Total Guilty Pleasure

So the impending fall season, of course, sends me off into never-ending fits of glee, and it also makes it somewhat tolerable to watch whatever crap is being peddled this time of year. I, ahem, watched half an episode of Windfall (Ew. Very, very bad). I got totally hooked on Showtime's Brotherhood, which is kind of like a combination of The Wire my all-time favourite television show, and The Sopranos, only they're Irish and live in Rhode Island. So all in all, it's been a passable summer, especially with Jeremy Piven to watch on Entourage.

But my new guilty pleasure? Kathy Griffin's My Life on the D-List. It's okay, you can be embarrassed for me. I know it's not high-brow entertainment, but it's just such a likeable show, mainly because Griffin is so up front about her fame (or lack thereof), her life (or lack thereof) and her comedy that I can't stop watching it.

I'd have to admit that I don't watch a lot of reality television, the odd episode of Jackass when it was still on, one or two episodes of the Nick and Jessica debacle, the first season of Survivor and the one season of The Amazing Race that Amber and Rob were on, and that's about it. Oh, and my RRHB forces me to watch American Idol, but only the auditions, because he enjoys them so much. And yet, once I watched half an episode of MLOTDL, I was hooked. I have it programmed into the Faux-Vo permanently and scheduled the episodes not to erase in case I decide to go back and watch them again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

When Is Too Much Too Much?

Part of my fancy-ass job is to take people out to lunch. Today I went to Wish, on Charles Street E., downtown. We ordered a basic lunch but the bill was giant. "Why?", you ask? Because we paid $17.00 FOR WATER. Once we found out that the water cost $8.50 a bottle, WITHOUT TAX, we drank every last drop.

Sigh.

TRH Movie - The Illusionist & Snakes On A Plane

Well, I don't think there's two different movies I could have seen this past weekend. On Friday night, the RRHB and I went to see The Illusionist. He had heard Jesse Wente on Metro Morning raving about it and wanted to see it. I had read about it in EW (of course) and also heard the CBC report, so I went along with it.

Anyway. I quite liked it: it's very stylized, has a good script, Paul Giamatti is excellent and I heart Ed Norton when he's actually acting (unlike Down in the Valley where he simply channeled) in a project that I can respect.

However, I would have enjoyed it more if they didn't digitally enhance the magic and/or illusions, but maybe represented them historically as they were, but again, I'm not sure if the tricks he did even existed or not when the film is set. And, I don't mean to be all, "I saw the twist coming," but honestly, I totally did—I mean the film is called The Illusionist so you sort of figure he's going to do one giant, ahem, act by the end.

The RRHB didn't like it as much but I think that had more to do with his movie going experience than anything else. The only theatre in town the film was playing at was the Cumberland where the seats are shitty, the air terrible (as it it doesn't exist) and we sat way to one end, which means you feel totally claustrophobic. So when he's grumpy in a movie he talks through it, moves around a lot and asks me repeatedly if we want to leave. Heh.

And then on Sunday afternoon I went to see Snakes on a Plane. Holy crap, it's so funny, but so bad, but I guess that's truly the point. And when Samuel L. Jackson does the whole "motherf*^king snakes on the motherf*^king plane" line that's all over the interweb, the whole audience hooted and clapped. Hilarious and awesome at the same time. I haven't had such a fun movie experience since Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. Cuba!

Oh, but one tiny criticism: instead of "fancy snake doctor" someone, somewhere working on the damn film, especially the FBI guy, whose job it is to, oh, I don't know, be smart or something, should have called him a herpetologist, because that's what they ARE. Has no one watched National Geographic?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Deer Lake, 2006

In a desperate bid for comments, any comments, any one out there? I'm giving you a new poem, "Deer Lake, 2006," and I swear to God that the inspiration for this poem came from a very "infamous" person they played on the radio up north. And then turned ugly when it obviously became about something else—wanna guess what's the inspiration behind the poem? And then feel free to trash it or not, but likely yah...I know it kind of sucks, but I can feel Ken Babstock saying to me, "Just put a little pressure on it."

Deer Lake, Summer 2006

The odd contrast of barge on a small body of water,
his sound carries, like helicopters in the night.
Noise of beer and pine needles, stripped now of the
intensity of the 1970s, it sounds oddly theatrical.
Soundstages and Broadway, all things misplaced on this lake,
here where loons call deep into the night
and the water always seems warmer when you're in it.

And you want him like you want another beer,
knowing that it's better not to imbibe too much too soon,
or your secrets come bawling out in the spider-infested outhouse,
where the sound is undeniably the best.

First kisses and lost nights to poker, pinochle and Moscow mules,
nothing changes except you, you who tells nothing of us to them,
taking the words right out of my mouth, just as I inch towards singing them:
out loud, not forgotten, this place, our place, your choice,
you took the words out, which meant you took me out, leaving me, there
beside the dock, watching for the sound to carry.

To Chick Lit Or Not To Chick Lit

Ever since Bridget Jones tottered in on her spiky shoes ten years ago, the merits of chick lit have been argued and debated among women writers on this here interweb. Oddly, I've never seen a debate over "serious" writers like Cormac McCarthy and, just for the hell of it, John Grisham, regarding the "merits" of law fluff and all its implications on contemporary literature. I mean that doesn't get people all in a flurry. Where are the blogosphere debates about why one sells so much less than the other and who out there is complaining about the lack of literary merit in "male"-centric popular fiction?

And yet, we (the royal we, the "women" we) seem to be unable, as a group to just let each other write whatever the hell we feel needs to be written. It's like taking the school yard chatter of the popular girls (the non-chick lit writers) and consistently forcing the less-than-popular girls (the chick lit writers) to eat at the table next to the cafeteria while pointing and laughing at them. Is a chick lit author any less of a writer because her cover is pink and maybe features shoes in a stunningly sexy way? I don't think so...oh, and isn't that baby pink lettering I spy on the cover of This Is Not Chick Lit? To me, it all just sounds like people are upset more about how popular chick lit has become more than anything: the whole idea that if everyone in middle Canada or America is reading The Devil Wears Prada that must mean the book is crap, because the masses are always wrong with a capital "W" when it comes to culture.

Yet, I think that championing women writers, of all kinds, is important, especially in the day and age where less books are being read by less people, and it becomes harder and harder to find good fiction no matter what side of the debate you end up on. I'll read Jennifer Weiner in an afternoon and cry my eyes out, and then pick up something heftier the next day and have an equally enjoyable experience. There's room in my cafeteria for all kinds of writing and I don't see why one has to make the very important point of crying in all caps that you are, by definition, not a chick lit anthology helps matters any. Seems to me that the editor is simply trying to draw attention to herself by abusing the very thing she purports not to be, and that's the worst kind of attention. How to make yourself feel better by putting other people down, now, isn't that first sign of not having enough self-confidence? How very Mean Girls of her.

In short, me thinks the pink doth protest too much. Proclaiming to be the "best" of anything makes me cringe, I mean, not even Google lets you use that word in an ad because nowadays it means absolutely nothing.

#52.5 - The Last Juror

Again, The Last Juror by John Grisham isn't really the book I'd read anywhere other than maybe, and let's just say maybe, on a beach in Mexico because I'd finished all of my other books and it's the only thing left lying around the room. That said, it makes a truly engaging audio book, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.

All tolled, it took most of my time in the car for the last week to get through it, but as it finally ended, I sat in the car for about five minutes listening to the end before going in to the office.

The sprawling story of Willie Traynor, a small-town newspaper owner who befriends Miss Callie, the matron of a large black family in Mississippi, The Last Juror opens with a violent murder, one that has the entire community of Clanton up in arms. As the next ten years unfold, the story of the paper, and of its owner, Traynor, comes to life beside the story of Miss Callie and her incredible family. The trial of the murderer, Danny Padgitt, becomes the focal point for the meat and potatoes of the book. The story sprawls like an old plantation porch, filling in the lively details of country, small-town life, and I suppose it'll be made into a movie at some point (isn't that a Grisham pre-requisite?).

And I'd give it one and a half solid thumbs up in terms of keeping you awake on a long drive. One thing's for certain, you'll be drawling in your sleep and longing for a cup of sweet tea before the book's finished.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Kick It!

So even though my Summer Reading challenge has catapulted into a steaming pile of nothingness, my Page A Day has carried on quite well. Here are the stats:

Word count: 36,431
Page count: 162

Not so bad even if much of the story is filler until I can do some much-needed research. I'm going to try to finish a draft that I think will come in around 225 pages and then start editing and re-writing.

Whee!

#52 - Veronica

Mary Gaitskill's Veronica (yes, yes, I KNOW, not on my Summer Reading list, let's just give up the ghost now on that, ahem, agenda) came highly recommended by Crabby Kate, who enjoyed it a great deal. I read this book on Friday, after a particularly gruelling few days of writing myself, where I added about fifty-odd pages to my latest story. The point? That my mind wandered a lot during the tale, which probably has more to do with my own state of mind than in Gaitskill's storytelling.

Veronica follows the life of Alison, a once young and beautiful model whose life and career is left in ruins after an accident. During the almost-height of her success, she befriends an office worker/"fag hag" whose tempestuous relationship has left her with AIDS and a broken heart. The novel tracks the peaks and valleys of their odd friendship as it develops Alison's story, from high school dropout to Parisian runway model, from New York fashion model to West Coast victim, as she comes to terms with her own illness, hepatitis C. The novel has no conventional storyline, no true narrative held together by the constraints of time, but it seems to work as a series of memories that serve to take the reader from one page to the next.

The discombobulated state of the narrative obviously echoes Alison's own fragile psyche, and being a girl with a disease herself, I identified with the "sick" part of the book: Veronica's slowly decaying body, Alison's tattered wreck of an arm from a car crash, both of their diseases a result of choices they made, but not necessarily on their own—more a sign of how desperately unhappy they both were, that unhappiness somewhat tying them together in the end.

It's a terribly melancholy novel, but I didn't really mind that considering I watched Before Sunset and Shakespeare in Love to balance out the feeling of wanting to dive off the dock and never surface in the evening after I finished the book ("Oh, baby, you're going to miss that plane!", LOVE IT), all in all I think it truly deserves the kudos its received (National Book Award nomination, etc.). Not as fascinated by the life of an ex-model, or by modelling in general, that whole "Gia-on-paper" bit is a tad overplayed, the book is a consistent example of creative writing at its novelistic best.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Deja Vu

My week up at the cottage has been super productive. I have written 156 pages on my story, made a very small start on my next abridged novel and have gone swimming every day. My crackberry works in some places enough to text my RRHB, which is cool and I've watched a few of my favourite movies.

Today I am sitting in The Windmills Cafe in Kingston. I haven't been back here since I graduated from university 10 years ago. Funny thing too, the last time I ate here, I had food poisoning. And when Hannah went back to complain for me as I threw up for two days, the fellow TOOK A BITE and said, "Seems fine to me."

Ah, Kingston.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Procrastination Eventually Becomes Productivity

Oh so I'd like to think. So far, my goal of writing a Page A Day has been going okay, even though I can't remember now where I started, but I'm at 91 pages and have over 20,000 words. That's the longest I've consecutively written in my life. Generally I write series and series of short stories that never link together into anything remotely resembling a longer piece. Anyway, the longer I sit here, the more that I seem to write, even if it feels like I've wasted an already gone day.

Keep Feeling Procrastination

I should be packing. I should be pulling the weeds out of our massively overgrown vegetable garden. I should be reading or working on my pages or starting my two new books or redeeming my iTunes gift certificate Zesty gave me for my birthday.

What am I doing instead? Reading spoilers for Gilmore Girls next season, catching up on bad celebrity gossip and reading way, way too much into my horoscope for this month.

And yet, I feel so guilty for doing, well nothing, even though we've been so bloody busy so far this summer and haven't really stopped to well, even grocery shop (which, when I told my RRMIL [rock and roll mother-in-law] that we hadn't bought groceries in close to a month, she gasped, audibly), that I should be catching up on something—and yet I can't pull myself out of this chair to even wash my face or brush my teeth.

Now aren't you embarrassed for me?

#51 - Literacy And Longing In L.A.

Yes, I know this book isn't on my Summer Reading list, but I've been so brain dead I wanted some chicklit. It's the story of Dora, a 35-year-old, almost-twice divorced woman who lives in a book-induced stupor and, for many reasons, this novel doesn't ever really get off the ground for me. In fact, I have precious little to say except I quite agree with John Allemang's Book A Day review.

I'm heading up to the cottage tomorrow for a week and a bit—fingers crossed I get some real reading done up there.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Stating The Obvious 101

So, the headline for this article in the Canoe books section is: "Reference books offer useful info."

Huh. You'd think that was, well, the point or something? I mean OF COURSE they do they are REFERENCE books. That's the only reason THEY EXIST. Sigh.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

TRH Movie - Clerks II

Aw, you have to be a true Kevin Smith fan to love this movie, which I am, which I did. And it's nice to be pleasantly surprised by it...I didn't laugh so hard I peed my pants like when I saw Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but I did find myself giggling like a silly fool and gasping at a couple of the truly shocking moments. And it's nice to see Jason Mewes so tanned, fit and healthy-looking.

Clerks II has an indie feel to it, lots of cameos, not much of a storyline (Dante and Randal BFF, they break up, they're BFF, there's a love triangle, we see Kevin Smith's wife's boobs, Jay dances), but it was sweet, and even kind of generous in a strange sort of way. And you know, not to spoil it, but doesn't every movie need a good throw down over the counter of a Mooby's with Wanda Sykes? Oh yes, I think it does.

If I have one small criticism is that I'm getting a little tired of the boy-who-refuses-to-grow-up storylines that seem to be dominating so many of the men in my age group on screen. I think EW had something about that in the magazine this week. Especially after seeing the atrocious You, Me and Dupree, if I ever hear, "30 is the new 20," or "40 is the new 30," one more time, I will not be responsible for the hair I might rip out. What's wrong with acting your age, which isn't the message of this movie (rather, be who you are and be happy that you can, well, be happy), but I mean really how many aging playboy/partyboys can there be in the current mainstream?

But I guess that's sort of what this movie has in common, to some extent, with The Break-Up, which was kind of Vince Vaughn's character's evolution out of that whole man-boy trap. Because in the end, it's nice to see how the ten years have actually changed the men in this movie, beyond the (slightly) thinner hair, beginning wrinkles around the eyes and world-wearied expressions.

Małe kobietki

Do you know what that means? Well, neither did I until yesterday when a Polish edition of my abridged version of Little Women showed up in the mail. How awesome is that?

Can I now refer to myself as "Ragdoll, Blogger and International Author"? Or is that just a tad too pretentious?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Oh, No, You Didn't

Okay, remember when I said that having ecoli in my pee was the grossest medical thing that ever happened to me? Yeah, well, not even two weeks later, let me tell you—something even grosser.

I threw up IN MY SLEEP the other night.

And I woke up feeling totally off centre and right disgusted. And it wasn't a dream because, well, it wasn't (and that's all I'm going to say about that).

#50.5 Girl, (Nearly) 16: Absolute Torture

Now, I'm calling this #50.5 because I didn't actually read the book but rather listened to it on CD. Sue Limb's cute YA novel about Jess, a totally overly dramatic, dark-haired pixie of a girl with self-described 'podge,' is forced to go on a vacation with her librarian of a mother just as her relationship with her boyfriend Fred heats up, could be described as "ultimate" girlie fiction. It's got a cute, Gilmore Girls-like tone, tells the story of British Jess with panache and humour, and actually made me laugh out loud a couple of times. The story, while predictable, was still somewhat fresh, and I liked listening to it.

It's taken a bit of time to get used to the idea of audio books, but now that I've started, I'm totally addicted. I listened to half of The Husband by Dean Koontz (I KNOW!) and it was awesome and now I'm on to John Grisham's The Last Juror. It's funny how fiction I would never, ever in my life admit to reading, I'm more than happy to pop into the CD player in the car. It's the auditory equivalent of watching Law & Order or some other cop drama, or what that stands for in my life, something passable to make the time fly by as I'm getting from one place to the other (usually from being awake to being asleep).

Anyway. Do audio books even count toward my final reading goals? I don't know and don't much care, for now, I'm always going to count them as point fives.