my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

July 20th, 2007

Cottage Redux

We’re up north this weekend where, you know the refrain, I’ll be reading and writing. Have a brilliant weekend all!

July 18th, 2007

Rhymenoceros & Hippy-crites

So, last night we (the RRHB and I) went over to have dinner with Scarbie and her lovely hubbie, as she calls him, the Dog. Dinner was delish, of course, but we were talking about The Flight of the Conchords, which has been cracking me up and is now one of my favourite summer shows (the others, in no particular order, are So You Think You Can Dance, Big Love, and Entourage).

The episode we watched the other night included Bret and Jerome chillin’ and illin’ with their hip-hop monikers, “Rhymenocerous” and “Hiphopopotamus.” I can’t even say how much this cracked me up, but as a girl whose favourite joke is “What’s brown and sticky. A stick,” it obviously doesn’t take much.

And then later on in the evening, the Dog referred to himself as a ‘hippy-crite’ — one who knows what they’re doing to the environment and feels bad about it almost instantly, but still goes ahead and does it anyway. And again, we cracked up. So if that’s not a contender for the Urban Dictionary, I don’t know what is. They we got into a heated discussion about carbon credits, because I’ll often make the argument that yes, I did get my hair dyed, but then I donated x number of dollars to David Suzuki to make up for it. It’s all about balance. In my mind anyway. But that’s besides the point: I’m guessing I’m a self-defined hippy-crite too, doing my very best but still driving my car to the cottage and buying things on the internet.

What’s the point of this post? Oh, the humour, of course! I totally think that the Rhymenocerous should rap about being a hippy-crite. How awesome would that be? And if you haven’t seen it already, check it here:

July 17th, 2007

The Bat And #48 – Bec

So I’m all about finding themes in my life. I don’t know why, but my mind just sort of wanders all over these places and looks for connections. Now, I mentioned that I’ve been reading Darren Shan, a children’s horror author who has written a deliciously scary series of books under the moniker of the “The Demonata.” (It gives me shivers just to type that). I read another one night while waiting for my aunt to get back to the cottage (and hanging out with the dogs) that was totally addictive. Like a sugar rush, it makes you totally high and buggy, and then you come crashing down once you’ve turned the last page.

The story of a young priestess in the time where Celts and Picts and all kinds of other tribes ruled the land, Bec, the self-titled character of the novel, sets off on a challenge to a) battle the demons who have taken over, well, everything and b) find herself by finding her true tribe (family). She comes into contact with a much earlier version of Lord Loss, the same demon who tormented Grubbs in the first book in the series. Scar-ee.

Two days earlier we were tormented by a slightly smaller but no less scarier version of our own Lord Loss. Granted, more Silverwing than Shan, I swear to the gods that I had never been so scared in my entire life.

Let’s set the scene: I’m sort of a little drunk after having maybe a half-pint too many Strongbow. I happily wind the way down the dark road back up to my grandmother’s cottage. I’m thinking about writing and family and fun stuff and playing cards and all kinds of other delightful things. I’m relaxed. I’m happy.

Snuggled all up in bed after reading for a bit, I’ve got my earplugs in and I’ve drifted off dreaming of who knows what but it probably includes Ethan Hawke.

I hear, “Deanna! Deanna!” as my cousin Cam comes back to the cottage with his lovely lady Krista. “I don’t mean to scare you but there’s a bat in the cottage.”

Keep in mind we’re all tired at this point and kind of delirious.

I scramble out of bed and head into the main room, which was a good thing because the bat was IN MY BEDROOM.

Neither Krista nor myself are feeling particularly brave at this point, so Cam whips up this awesome contraption using a couple of coat hangers, a garbage bag, a broom stick and some tuck tape. Now that sh*t is strong.

And he proceeds to chase the bat from one room to the next as it swoops and swerves its way into every single crevice it can trying to elude Cam’s capture. Until it lands ON THE WINDOW IN MY BEDROOM where we finally trap it between the screen and the glass.

Okay, when a bat swoops at your head it’s scary. Because it gets so close that you can actually HEAR IT FLAP.

After we captured it, we all felt horrible, a) for screaming like maniacs and b) for scaring the wits off the little guy. We ended up cutting the screen so he could escape in the night, which he did, thankfully. But that creates yet another job for my RRHB to do up north because he’ll be the one to replace the screen, which is not fun, I know, but there was a BAT in the cottage.

And for your lovely edification, here’s a picture. See…SCAR-EEEEEE.

July 16th, 2007

Back On The Concrete

As it stands, I have returned from the cottage fully rested only to now have developed a cold. Bah. The weather was crap as viewed from the picture of the rain on the window from the sliding glass door in the cottage, but it didn’t matter because my family was there, and I had a grand old time, as always.

I’m in the process of organizing my pictures and putting to mind blog posts for the five books I read, plus I wanted to chat a bit about all the work I got done on my super-duper long story now (it’s up to almost 56k words), and treat you all to an entertaining story about a bat.

Yes, you heard me: a real, live bat.

(Shiver).

May 23rd, 2007

Cottage Feet


In homage to Pickle Me This, “Cottage Feet,” a very happy pair of Vans kicking back on the sun deck enjoying a can of Strongbow. Even if I did cut off the tips of my left toes.

May 19th, 2007

What A Week

I can barely believe that it’s Saturday again. The week flew by at light speed and I haven’t even been home long enough (other than sleeping) to update anything. So, because today should be spent writing so I have something to send my mentor by the end of the weekend, I’m updated via a quickie list. Had I had time this week, all of these would have been separate entries, so I apologize for the brevity.

1. This was the week of author events through work. I attended four of them in three days. The first, a forum to launch Michael Chettleburgh’s Young Thugs, was very interesting. I even learned that there were Irish gangs in Toronto in 1850. Another thing for my list to investigate because I think it would make a cool story. Then I went to two different events for Daniel Handler: a Lemony Snicket cocktail party, and an event at the Andy Pool Hall to celebrate his novel Adverbs. But my favourite was the underground club party for Richard Flanagan, author of The Unknown Terrorist, where Russell Smith mildly insulted me before carrying on his way and doing a superb on stage interview with the author, who, by the way, read Chekhov as preparation for writing about the women in his novel. That made me want to take him out for dinner and listen to him wax philosophical for hours.

2. Gilmore Girls is over. I managed to watch the last episode but only after begging my RRHB to remember to tape it before he went off to his second job on Tuesday. I was chatting over email with Kate who pointed out that it’s actually kind of ironic to see every single episode of a show and then forget to tape the very last one. She’s right, but I was just so busy this week that a number of things slipped my mind. I felt very ho-hum about the finale. Even though the show has absolutely gotten off track as of late, I’m still not 100% convinced it should have been over. And how they dealt with both of the relationships, Luke and Logan, was ridiculous. Regardless, it’s one less hour of television I’ll have to keep up with in the fall.

3. I finished reading Chantal Simmons’s Stuck in Downward Dog. I got a little teary at the end, and it was refreshing to read a chicklit novel where ‘getting the boy’ wasn’t the central focus of the story. I liked how the book was more about a journey for the character into herself versus a more stereotypical journey into the right relationship. Anyway, that’s book #33 for the year. I’m also halfway through about a half-dozen other books that I’m hoping to finish this weekend up north while my brother and RRHB are watching Pan’s Labyrinth.

4. Yesterday afternoon, our summer hours started. I had some work to finish up so I didn’t leave right at 1:30 PM, but I did manage to make it to an afternoon show of Away From Her, Sarah Polley’s directorial debut. Based on Alice Munro’s story “The Bear Came Down the Mountain,” I felt like it was a solid adaptation, if Polley did take some liberties with the story’s point of view and tended to sentimentalize where the author had been tack-sharp. I found some aspects of the film a bit overly dramatic but Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie were just so good that I was willing to overlook the bits of the movie that just felt too forced. Grant reading “The Cinnamon Peeler’s Wife” really? Regardless of how much I love that poem, the can lit overtures in the film were a little, well, eye roll inducing. But I don’t want that to deflect from the fact that Away From Her is a film I would highly recommend as counter programming to the glut of American multiplex blockbusters hitting the streets every week or two.

5. I saw yet another specialist this week about some lady problems I’ve been having. Needless to say, a lot of what I’m experiencing is probably a side effect of the methotrexate, which doesn’t make it any easier to take. I’m also getting frustrated because I can’t seem to loose a single pound. Eating better, riding my bike, dance class, pilates, and still over the course of the last few months, I am the same chubby -bloated sick-looking girl I was when I started. I’m very frustrated about all of that but I have to say that if it’s the medicine at least I know that I’ll be off of it in the next six-to-eight months and maybe then the weight will start coming off. I can’t stand looking at pictures of myself though, which is annoying because everyone and their uncle seems to update Facebook with a million different albums. Anyway. I really liked this doctor very much and feel like she’ll be extremely helpful when it comes to this particular problem that won’t seem to go away. I have to say that even now that the disease is in remission technically, I’m dead sick of all the treatments. It’s been three years of different medications, difficult side effects, and I’m just plain tired of it all. And the mood swings with everything else combined has just about caught me by the fray of my last rope.

May 5th, 2007

My First "Public" Appearance

Yesterday morning I visited a grade 3/4 split class in Scarborough and read to them from the latest abridged classic, Around the World in 80 Days. They had done quite a bit of work with the abridged Frankenstein earlier in the year and were apparently all very excited about having me come in that day so they could ask me some questions.

What a rush! Most of the kids in my life are ones that are related to me: a niece, some nephews, my little cousin, and the majority of them are quite small, baby-sized, in fact. So it was such a treat to be around kids who were young enough to have a sense of wonder about things, to ask such cute questions like, “What’s your favourite colour?” and “When is your birthday?”, that we as adults, don’t necessarily even contemplate anymore because we’re all so concerned about paying the mortgage and getting the house fixed.

Truthfully, they were lovely kids, very well behaved and very excited about meeting a real-life ‘author’ even if I don’t necessarily think of myself in that way. Afterwards, I signed autographs. How hilarious! If I could do this all the time, I totally would: it was good for the heart.

May 2nd, 2007

There’s Nothing Like Sunshine…

And a royalty cheque to brighten up your day.

Sigh.

This Friday I’m doing two really fun things:

1. I’m taking the day off so we can go see Spider-Man 3 in the afternoon on opening day (I’ve already bought the tickets. Ahem). I know, it’s silly, I’m a grown lady, but I love the movies that much. And it’s kind of a tradition for us to see them opening weekend.

2. But even more importantly, I’m going to a friend’s classroom to read to the kids. A while back, they read my abridged Frankenstein, and sent me letters. According to them, I’m their favourite author, which makes me giggle because it’s so cute. And I didn’t even write the original…Mary Shelley did. Regardless, I’m going to take in Around the World in 80 Days to start them off on another abridged classic and keep them interested in reading in general. I’m really looking forward to my very first in-class appearance. How fun is that?

April 25th, 2007

#28 – The Raw Shark Texts

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts. Delightful and charming, Hall speaks with a lovely British accent that sounds Manchester-ish, which always reminds me of Coronation Street. However, I could be getting that totally wrong and making all kinds of assumptions. It’s just that he sounds a lot like my old neighbour, Andrew, whose family was from Manchester. Soooo. His speaking voice reminded me of Andrew, which was lovely considering I haven’t seen and/or thought of him in a while. It’s nice to miss people in that way, without even realizing it, like an echo that sort of bounces off your memory but only when you’re within hearing distance.

Annnywaaay.

Before Hall read a very short excerpt (just the first page) he mentioned that he had set out to write a book that had elements for all readers: a love story if that’s what you like, a thriller for those readers, maybe a dash of mystery for that crew. All in all, it’s quite a mash-up of styles all sewn together with his lovely, literary voice. He also laughed because he said that in every country, except Canada, the book starts off on the first page. Ah, but here, we got to start with the Aquarium fragment (which you can read here if you can figure out the puzzle), which was bound into lovely looking booklets for the party.

I read a review in the Torontoist yesterday that mentioned that maybe the in some ways marketing of the book ‘overshadows the text itself.’ And it’s true that rarely have I seen so much buzz about a book, from packages being stolen off of porches to conceptual shark boats being built in amazing art spaces, alongside the wiki, the puzzle, and high profile bloggers, there’s an incredible force of nature surrounding The Raw Shark Texts, and that it’s a first novel makes it even more exciting.

But, I’d have to disagree that it takes away from the book at all, I think, because so much of it comes from the spirit of The Raw Shark Texts itself. Every single thing that I’ve seen and/or read about the novel feels very much akin to the text, which is a hard thing to achieve in this cold, cruel market-infested world.

When Eric Sanderson wakes up one morning with no idea who or where he is, he finds a note from the “First Eric Sanderson,” telling him to contact Dr. Randle, who will help him with his condition. From that very first moment, a story of massive proportions, both imaginary and real, is set into motion.

As Second Eric Sanderson (SEC) bumbles through life suffering from a dissociate fugue and attempts to piece his life back together, he discovers he’s being chased by a Ludovician, a conceptual shark that feeds on human knowledge. While he races for his life outside of the jaws of the shark, SEC finds fragments of his former self, when he was in love with a beautiful girl who died tragically while they were on vacation in the Greek islands.

See, something for everyone.

Yet, Hall’s ability to not only manage the wild and even outrageously imaginative parts of the book remains perfectly clear throughout the novel. Not only is it believable, but it’s real, even if the story is perfectly unreal: there’s great emotions, high chases, wickedly fun references and post-post references, and lots of fascinating characters, not the least of which is a very adventurous cat named Ian. In addition to the great writing, there are visual aspects of the book (flip shark pages included) that don’t seem incongruous and/or like devices. On the whole, The Raw Shark Texts manages to be literary, adventurous, sweet and fascinating all at the same time.

And it’s so not the kind of book I would normally read, but I’m very glad I did, even if now before I go to bed, I try not to imagine a conceptual shark under there swimming around in my dreams, eating up my memories, and spitting them back out again.

April 15th, 2007

Alissa York Effigy Launch


On Tuesday night, my RRHB and I, along with a bunch of our friends, went to the Toronto launch of Alissa York’s Effigy. For the first time in many, many months, I attended a literary event where I hadn’t had the pleasure of reading the book first. Usually, it’s Zesty and I at these kinds of things, but it was so fun, and I had such a good time that I was triple-upset that we were too late to get into the Michael Ondaatje launch on Friday night—I was looking forward to more literary-inspire good times.

There’s no getting around how lovely and friendly Alissa York is—she’s smart, charming and utterly fascinating. My favourite thing about Pages’s This is Not A Reading Series is the fact that the authors are on stage with another person, sometimes a fellow writer, and sometimes a media personality, another journalist, it all depends on the book. In this case, it was Elizabeth Ruth, and in all honestly, I think the two were perfectly matched. Ruth’s questions were smart, probing, and always on topic. It’s a hard balance to achieve especially if anyone’s been to Harbourfront lately and endured some of the “interviews” they’ve got going on at that reading series (Zesty, I’m looking at you).

Some of the conversation I pulled out and wrote down was really inspiring, especially considering I admire York’s writing (Mercy and Any Given Power, both wonderful, both moody and both delicious) but also because I’ve got quite a crush on her spirit. One of the more intriguing things that she said had to do with separating the writing mind and the everyday mind. And I think this was a lot of what Gowdy was trying to get at too, aspects of humanity, dark and desperate places, just because your imagination goes there (and bravo that it does) doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll go out become a a taxidermist, like one of the characters in Effigy.

It’s such a common thing for people to mistake actors for the roles that they play, but people do the same with fiction: they’re always plugging through the depths to find the autobiographical elements, when as York points out, that there may be wide gaps between what a writer is thinking and feeling and what he/she is writing.

The other point she made that has stuck with me over the past few days is how when she’s writing, her goal is to make people feel things versus simply thinking about them as their passively reading. I can’t help it: I feel everything. That’s just the kind of person I am, hell, Al Gore’s slide show made me a puddle for days afterwards, and the key to a great book in my mind is its heartbreak factor. All in all, it was a bloody brilliant evening.

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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