Monday, 15 October 2012

Things about which I get aggresively excited

I was at a BBQ over the Labour Day weekend. Amongst the burgers, Prosecco and setting, late summer sun, discussions turned to good movies and then to the German film, The Lives of Others. The mild-mannered artist sitting to my right advanced the opinion that maybe the ending dragged a bit. That is when I found myself waving my finger and yelling in incoherent half sentences - "Are you insane?" "He goes to the archives and realises --" "He's at the theatre and talks to the SAME guy." -- "The little dude is a POSTMAN!" I was half out of my chair at this point, belligerent finger waving like a weapon, so agitated it was all I could do to remember to keep sipping my bubbly wine.

There are some things, books, movies, TV shows that I am loudly, blindly and forcefully a fan of, and this post is my inaugural edition of `Things About Which I Get Aggressively Excited

The Lives of Others (Das Leberen der Anderen in the original German) was made in 2006. It's set in Cold War Berlin and examines the effects of the incessant state surveillance on both the watched and the watchees.

If this sounds like a lame downer, YOU'RE TOTALLY WRONG! It's a fantastic, fast-paced and fascinating film (hee - "F"s) with an ending that will knock your socks off and leave you with faith in the human race, or at least in the decency we can show each other in our personal relationships. It's got luminous performances, sexy subversives and the most unlikely likable character ever. 

If you haven't seen it, get yourself to Netflix pronto and DO not let me catch you slagging the ending.
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Sexy Veggie

A colleague has grown a rather special carrot...

It's the hairy bit at the tip that is truly freaky...

FYI -- One of the Google autofills I got as I tried to find out what that hairy bit is called:

The real concern here, is, what does it say about global health issues  that "hairy tongue" becomes a default Google search. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Canadian Thanksgiving Resolutions

In the frozen wastelands of the North we have Thanksgiving on the first weekend of October. This is more sensible than our American brothers and sisters, I think, because the weather is better, the leaves are prettier and it's a good distance from Christmas, meaning that we can quite happily have two turkey-dominated feasts without them being so close together that you're still working off the Thanksgiving-related turkey farts when you sit down to your Yuletide feast.

Anyway. We have a venerable tradition in Canada where we make Thanksgiving Resolutions, this tradition is as Canadian as feeling unjustifiably smug about our Medicare system and collectively agreeing that Stephen Harper just shouldn't smile

While I may have just made this tradition up, I am sincere in my new resolution... Which is to get better with the blog posts. If anyone is still checking my infrequently updated blog, I vow to do better.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Wintergreen Studios

Alrighty my babies, I know in my last post I promised an entry detailing the delights of my recent trip to Montreal. The meals! The shopping! The booze! The hangover! The amazing spa-ing! The parking tickets that were avoided! Every exciting, delightful detail will be relayed. Before we get to Montreal, though, I have to spill the beans on this most amazing weekend I've just had. Yes, yes, those who are keeping score (rude) that is two weekends in a row when I abandoned my family for selfish pursuits, but really, my family is small and low key and seems to be perfectly content without me, so it's hard to work up a really extensive guilt trip.

This past weekend, through a series of twisty, fate-y turns, I ended up taking a three day writing workshop with Lawrence Hill. Not only was Larry (yes, that's what we were asked to call him) a really good writing teacher -- insightful, helpful, engaged, interested... But it turns out he's a very nice guy, a good listener and a pretty good swimmer.

The weekend would have been fantastic if it had just involved learning about the craft and business of writing from Larry, but it was so much more. The seven other participants (all women) were also amazing... Just this fantastic group of fascinating ladies who each had interesting stories to tell about their own lives. There were no whiners or weirdos in the group (though, I do have a friend who claims that if you can't spot the weirdo in a given group, it's because you yourself are actually that weirdo -- if so, sorry ladies!).

Again, that kind of serendipitous wonderfulness doesn't happen often, but maybe what sealed the deal on the magicality (totally a word) of the whole thing was the setting. Wintergreen studios is a secret hideaway tucked away in the backwoods of Ontario. It's down a long a windy dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Off-grid and built as sustainably as possible, the main lodge and its surrounding buildings (including a tiny little cabin called the Hobbit House that was tucked away in the woods... totally adorbs. I contemplated staying there, but then chickened out because, murderers) were made from recycled materials, and often with straw bales, which is totally the de rigueur building material for the environmentally conscious.The place is the brain child of this brilliant, multi-talented Renaissance woman, Rena Upitis who  bought the land and envisioned the whole wonderful, magical place.

Suffice to say, the food was incredible, the setting stunning, the people nurturing and funny and inspiring and the whole thing was like a giant feast of creativity that will nourish me for months to come.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

So sorry m'ladies and m'gentlemen! I have failed in my self-imposed posting schedule and it's because life reared it's ugly head...

I'm trying to revise my dissertation for publication (gah!); do this ridiculously labour-intensive promotion application for my work (double gah!); work on a new novel (triple gah! but also, fun!); train for a 10 km run (oh my God, my knees, my poor, sore knees); deal with a twerpy toddler who has suddenly decided that going to bed is for suckers (rude) and I also squeezed in a truly fabulous trip to Montreal where I shopped, ate, drank, spa'd and shopped some more. One of the things I bought were leopard print leggings!!

 Anyway, Montreal deserves a whole other post of its own, but I'm hopeful that I will get back to the blogging very soon. I'm actually swanning off for another glorious weekend -- this one in the backwoods of Ontario, where I'm doing a little writer's retreat...

Stay tuned my babies!

Friday, 7 September 2012

A time to write

Carving out time in the day to write can be very tricksome. My work day is obviously consumed by the high energy adrenaline rush of performing my urgent, life or death duties with utmost concentration, effectiveness and precision.

Evenings consist of snack-preparation, meal-making, colouring-book colouring, meal-eating, bathing, bed-putting and then being so brain-drained that the only option available is to collapse in front of Don Draper and Peggy for 45 minutes of vaguely boring, vaguely ominous, beautiful-looking television before crawling off to sleep.

Since I love being in bed by 10 and actually am deliciously excited when climbing under the covers by 9:30, staying up late is not an option. Weekends get eaten up by fun stuff, and when I do get the chance to write (like now, at a friend's cottage, while everyone's at the beach and I'm up here for the kiddo's nap) I work on "quick" stuff, which is usually blog or Internet-related...

All that being said, it can be challenging to actually work on creative-writing. Wah wah, I know, First World Problems.

I've made a new resolution for Fall though... Nights are longer, days are cooler, children are back at school, we're mere days away from a barrage of Christmas advertising ... The time seems right (of maybe I should say WRITE - hardy har har). I'm going to get up at 6 every morning and devote an hour to writing, not blogging or Internet browsing, but actually producing new material. It is time. I will do this. I will.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Caption Contest

Sometimes at work we'll come across a particularly random photo and play a little something called "Caption Contest" --- anyone have any ideas for this one?