Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Women, the Pigeons, and Me

Picture this. North York. Nineteen ninety-something.

I am a teenager. Maybe in my early twenties? I'm too old to remember now. I have decided in my foolhardiness to walk from Finch Station (the end of the line) to my parents' house in Thornhill. It's summer. I walk. I walk and walk and walk. This was when the plazas in North York on Yonge north of Finch were in slow decline. I walk up to Yonge and Steeles. Not much farther, I remind myself. I remind myself that I like walking. I feel I am a Friend to the Environment.

Yonge and Steeles is dominated by Centrepoint Mall. This story took place when it was Centrepoint, I think. Not so long ago that it was Towne and Country. This was before Yonge from Steeles to Clarke went through the Korean-Iranian renaissance.

I must have been a teenager because this was before the Depressive Episode, back when I talked to strangers. Er, more than I do now.

Let's begin again. I am walking. A woman stops me on the sidewalk. She has a big dog and a pigeon. (The pigeon is in her hands, not inside the big dog.)

This is not terribly unusual. I mean, the pigeon is unusual, but not the fact that she stops me. I'm often stopped by strangers because I often have a look on my face that says "harmless" and "bother me, I won't hurt you". This woman was looking for a stranger to stop and she found me.

"Please," she says, "can you take it?" She holds the pigeon out to me. It is in shock. (I am too.)
"Uh," I say.
"Please, her wing is broken, and I can't take her-" she gestures with her head towards the big dog. "The dog will go crazy."
"Um," I say.
"Please, her wing is broken, can you take her?" Her eyes implore me. I don't care if that's a cliche. "I can't leave her here," she says.

I can't disappoint this woman. I am young. I have compassion for all living things. Part of my brain is also flashing other messages at me like:

I ignore the messages.
I take the pigeon.

I hold her - though who can say the gender of this particular pigeon - I hold her gently and firmly. The woman thanks me profusely and walks away with her big dog.

I stand there on Yonge Street. I enjoy looking at this pigeon up close, in as much as I enjoy examining any living creature, except slugs. I also wonder if the pigeon will peck me and if I will get a disease. I also begin to feel a simmering string of expletives form (as it always does when I've willingly and knowingly invited stupidity into my life). Sunday afternoon on the border of Thornhill and I've been entrusted with the life of a pigeon.

I don't know what else to do, so I continue walking north towards my parents' house. My internal monologue is strained to say the least. I mean WHAT am I doing holding this BIRD with a broken wing that I cannot fix and really what kind of PREDATORS would there be anyways out by the stunted pines of the ornamental greenery around Centrepoint Mall, and if I were a pigeon, I wouldn't WANT to be carried by a big scary human all the way to THORNHILL, I would just want some corner to feel safe so I could just DIE or HEAL as I (or Pigeon God) wanted me to, and WHO does that woman think she IS just handing off PIGEONS to people anyways, and isn't it perfectly NATURAL for her DOG to go crazy, as a dog would and why do I DO these things and can I somehow blame it all on RANGER RICK?

I've walked past Centrepoint Mall. I stop. There's no vet between here and Mom and Dad's. The only vet is almost right at their street. It's closed on Sundays anyhow. There's no park, no green space, nothing useful to a hurtin' pigeon from here to RICHMOND HILL for the love of... anways. I change my mind. The woman must be far off now. She won't see me.

I turn around.

I walk back towards the only spot of green. The shrimpy pines around the mall parking lot.

I carefully set the Pigeon down under a tree. Animals like to be hidden in corners to die. I don't know how I know this, but I do.

Suddenly, "LIAR!" Much like that scene in The Princess Bride, the woman is back - how did she get there so fast? Was she waiting and watching around a corner?

"I trusted you! Why did you lie? You lied to me! You said you would take her!" She goes on and on. I am horrified. Not actually scared of her (which maybe I should've been), but ashamed of being busted. I feel guilty. I want to say, "pigeons are dirty" and "neither you nor I can help her now", but I don't say those things. I should've said, "why don't you leave your dog and take the pigeon", but I don't think of that till now, years later. I just stammer something like, "Sorry, sorry, I'll take her. I have a long walk. Sorry, sorry."

Are you ready? I take the damn pigeon AGAIN. I walk, holding her, for approximately 3.7 kilometres. I leave her in the bushes outside the vet clinic.

I go to my parents' house and wash my hands. I tell very few people this story. I phone the vet and leave them a message (or was it a note?) that there is a wounded pigeon in their shrubbery. I quietly loathe that woman for a long time.


But wait, there's more!

Fast-forward to now, just a few months ago. I was in Toronto, walking past a little plaza downtown. It is partly the front driveway of a building, and partly some stores. Mostly, it is full of parents watching little kids go round and round on bikes or roller blades. But that morning, a new person held court. A Crazy Pigeon Woman with a Piazza San Marco-scale pigeon brood at her feet. She is tossing them chunks of stale bread from her bundle-buggy. She has a black garbage bag full of bread. I suspect it was given to her in the hope that it would feed her not her pigeons.

Now I know why there's been a severe increase in pigeon crap in the area. It's not a coincidence.

"Excuse me," I say, "Why don't you feed them in the park?"

"There is no park around here!" she retorts.

"Yes, there is. There are three - one on X, Y, and Z, all in a row."

"They're too far," she says.

"No, they're not," I say. They're five minutes from here, I walk it every day." Besides, she doesn't panhandle or stick around the area, meaning she is getting to and from there somehow.

"What do you care?" she says. Our voices are rising. "You're wearing shoes! You don't eat off the ground!"

"Yeah, but why do I have to step in pigeon sh-t on the way to work? Why do you have to feed them here?!"

"Pigeons are just like people, you know. They have feelings! You have no feelings. You're heartless!"

"Fine. I'm heartless," I say. And then I get really mature and add, "At least I have a brain". And then I realize that I am having an argument with the Crazy Pigeon Lady, and that this can't be a good sign, and that also, I'm not winning. I walk away.

And later, as I ponder over my flaws and failings I spot the lapse in my logic. Did you catch it?
It was when I chose to start a conversation with the PIgeon Lady!!!

And lest you leave this entry convinced of my heartlessness, cowardliness, and neurotic tendencies, I'll have you know that I'm not the only crazy one in this blog entry. Here, read for yourself.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Thimble of Magickal Tea - A Fanged Fable of Fright!

Marcella has just moved to the puddly town of Guimpton and something is very wrong. No one else can see it - not her parents, not her spaniel, Spotbottom, not even Old Jake Suspenderson who lives in the rowhouse next door! But Marcella can feel it: the grass curls strangely under her toes, her plastic play earrings crawl up her ears, even her jelly-tots play in her hand and refuse to be eaten. It would all be wonderful, if only Spotbottom wasn't turning so mean..."

There. That's my approximation of all the twee-and-crumpets crap that Neil Gaiman has written with this book. I've just read Coraline. Perhaps I was put off Gaiman years ago by someone who, er, used to influence me, shall we say? But lord knows, I've tried. I really tried with this book, because PHILIP PULLMAN is quoted on the front. (However, he just says to "applaud" for Coraline is "the real thing", by which he might mean, well, anything.)

The only original element in this book is the buttons. Read it and you'll see what I mean. Everything else is so derivative. When it's not derivative, it's plain and cliched. Blarf. I'm ready for a fight, all you Gaiman-worshippers.

Read Lewis Carroll. Read Pullman. Read C. S. Lewis. Read Beatrix Potter. Heck, I'm a big fan of Good Omens. But Coraline? Bah. I'm sure it'll be a nice little animated film one day, but please stop calling it a "classic".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I promise

I promise I won't turn this into "solely" a shoe blog.
But look, a running shoe I would wear!

I'm ba-aack

"Why Ms. Mazal, would you care to explain your absence?"

You might think that being off blogging and jobless would have resulted in a flurry of creativity and productivity, but you would be wrong. I have nothing nothing to report on the writing front. Really. It's embarrassing. But since NOT blogging didn't help any, I'm back to blogging.

However, there is some news.

Two week ago I started a new full-time job. It's nine to five. It's a very short walk from home, and so far, it's great. It's an organization that helps children, so hurray.

I've also started taking a writing class at U of T. I'll let you know more about it, but so far, we've only had one class.

Next week I start volunteering at a literacy foundation called Frontier College.

Otherwise, I've been happily watching the leaves turn, 'cause Autumn is my favourite season. I've been reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Nothing like a pioneer family to make you feel dull, slow, lazy, unaccomplished, ungrateful, and morally lacking in comparison! Laura's knowledge of English grammar at age 15 is more than I have ever learned.

I also just read The Ruby in the Smoke, the first in the Sally Lockhart series by Philip Pullman. It's terrific. It's too bad I didn't hear about it in the '80s. The cover on the edition I got from the library is awful, though. The one in the middle of this Amazon page is my favourite - and the only one I've seen on store shelves here in Toronto.

Oh, and if you've never read The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt, you should. It's a lot of fun. I've been on a bit of a children's lit kick, as you can see.

And lastly, here's a page of fall boots that you are all welcome to buy for me. I like the Nydia, Beta, and the Tamika. I should never ever have gone into the Cole Haan store, because nothing in any other store will measure up now.
Buy us!

Hope you're all having a lovely October, wherever you are.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


What would make me return to blogging before I have reached any goals?
Would it be that I've accomplished something great? No.
Did I get lots of writing done? No. Although, I did revise around 30 pages yesterday.
Did I get lured back by the flattering comments I received? No. (Although, that was tempting. Flattery works here at Fictionally.

No, it was this:
I have discovered via Andre Leon Talley, style maven at Vogue, the name of a shoe designer named Courtney Crawford. Page 240 of the current September 2006 Vogue with Dunsty Antoinette on the cover.

Am I ashamed to be swooning over a shoe by the same man who designed shoes for - gag - Mariah Carey? She of little-to-no style? Yes.

But the gaudy, tacky, vicious, 1980s Versace-esque gold stiletto on page 140, called MAN EATER, really took my breath away. Is it my favourite shoe of all time? No.

But it's enough to bring me back to blogging.

More soonish... or I may have some guest bloggers in for you...

Friday, August 25, 2006

All Play and No Work

All play and no work makes me low on funds. And short on word count.

I'm gonna stop blogging for a while - for as long as necessary to get my writing back in line.
When I've written a good amount, I'll be back.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Gawker's post on the Forbes nonsense

Smart Bitches/Trashy Books on the Forbes nonsense.

It's too nonsensical to write anything more about it. But yes, I decided to blog it anyways.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Well, it could've been soooo good. But it was okay.

Wonderful idea, but the movie was very uneven. Some parts were funny, other parts, the humour seemed to dip to thirteen-year-old boy levels. Colme Feore and Patrick Huard were both fantastic, but even the best actors can be hampered by script and directorial choices.

The script, the credits say, was written by four people. It shows. It seems like the four did not agree on the tone or the pace or even, at times, the idioms of English speakers. I don't know any sister that would say to her brother, "Oh, c'mon, brother...". Although, it may be more common in Quebecois lingo ("ah, mon frere...").

I was really hoping that this would be The Great Canadian Bilingual Movie. A succesful franchise and series spin-off. But it is not.

My friend Natalie the Incredible sent me this link. It is a list folks in "creative fields" should read. It's from a website called Gaping Void.

Had sushi tonight at Ho Su. The company was delightful, the sushi less so. It's slipping every time I go there. My Futo Maki and my spicy salmon rolls both tasted like they'd been sitting around. Not fishy or anything, but the rice seemed a touch stale, if that makes any sense. Only the hamachi nigiri I ordered at the end was really remarkable and delicious. I think Shogun is edging them out as my new fave sushi place. Maybe I should only order Korean Food at Ho Su.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Tonight's Movie

Running out to see Bon Cop, Bad Cop.

Will report later.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Your Sunday "Tough Love" Motivation

J. A. Konrath, thriller writer, has this saying on the side of his blog. It certainly shut up the whining in my head.

Fate is simply a future that you didn't try to change.

Selling Out for 100 Million Dollars

An interesting little bit of news I was previously unaware of:

Colgate-Palmolive bought Tom's of Maine.

Back when I was an idealistic teen, I often bought Tom's of Maine toothpaste in Fennel flavour. It's like cool, hip, enviro-friendly, toothpaste with mountain-climbing, hiker indie-cred! Toothpaste that the Man wouldn't brush his teeth with! I would still buy it (for the occasional change in toothpaste flavour), except that even as it's become more available, the price has never gone down. I think it still sells for around $5.50 CAD. It's a bit hard to justify when you're not rolling in money and plain old Colgate goes on sale for 59 cents.

Even though I'm sure the founders will do a lot of good with their money - I'm sure they'll conserve wetlands etc - it still struck me as a bit sad. I like having a lot of choice. And now, even though the choice to buy the product is still there, the money goes to the same people as if I buy the 59 cent Colgate. I know my logic is flawed, seeing as I haven't bought their product in years, but it affects me emotionally, not rationally.

I can't really blame them. I'm sure most contracts look really really good with $100 million attached.

"Mama, if that's selling up, then I'm sellin' out! Doo doo dee doo dee doo...."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Write from the Hip

I cannot overstress how important it is that you go see Write from the Hip, part of the Groundswell theatre festival.

Why would I have an ulterior motive? What are you implying? Ok, fine, my best friend's play is being showcased. HURRAH!

Since I can't trust you to click on the link, I have cut-and-pasted the blurb here:

"Our Write from the Hip unit will have readings of their plays on August 20 at 8 p.m. Hip participants include Christine Nicole Harris, Patricia Lee, Haley McGee, Martha Schabas, Paula Schultz, and Yaya Yao.
Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can at the door (Suggested amount $10 per person). Limited seating. No Latecomers."

That's Sunday at the Distillery District. Click on "theatre" and scroll down, if you don't see it. Nightwood's at Building 74, studio 301. I'm assuming that's where the show's gonna be.

Be there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Contest and the Sneaky Link

The Contest:

At Writer's Market, there's currently a short short story contest on. Do your best in 1500 words. Entry fee is twelve bucks (USD).

The Sneaky Link:

At Hip Candy, I discovered a sneaky little tool - Work Friendly. Enter a URL and ta-da - it converts the URL to look like a word document! There's a "Boss" button too, which makes the whole page look like an article on time-management. Pretty funny. See? Now you can read my bright pink blog at work! I'm here to help.

My Postcard from Melbourne!

I got my postcard! Ok, technically, I received it last Thursday, but (a) I had a guest staying with me and (b) I have no digital camera of my own, so I had to borrow one. It's taken me a week to post this. I'm very sorry.

I have to say, I love this postcard. I love that it's a real gritty little bit of Melbourne. And I really like the blogger's blog it's from too! It's from Ed at Tomato, an Australian food blog.

Hopefully one day I'll get myself to Melbourne and check out the bar that's hidden via this alleyway. Since it's called The Croft Institute, maybe I'll even dress inspired by Lara Croft. But without the shorts. Oh, shaddup, I heard that.

Thanks, Ed! This is a terrific photo-postcard, and it'll be up on my bulletin board. Happy blogging.

Hm. The only Toronto restaurant I can recommend to foodies right off the top of my head is Edward Levesque's Kitchen. I've only been there for brunch, but I'd have no qualms taking anyone there. The food and the service have never disappointed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Remember two posts ago, when I said I was sleeping at night?
I backslid.
I stayed up all night again. But, I revised another twenty pages of Book One, so it was not all wasted.

This morning did I did laundry, vacuumed and tidied up. Even showered and had breakfast before I went online. I'm inordinately proud. And ready to crash any minute now.

Like the title of the post, I feel "blurry". So more later.

Bonus photo. A shot I took last winter on the way from Gananoque to Toronto. I don't think I posted it, did I?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

You Must Enjoy These

(1) You will watch Guest Room on Sunday August 13th. Check out "Stronger" the weekend after too.

(2) If you are female, you will submit your play to Write from the Hip

(3) You will attend this year's Groundswell Festival. The 2006 listing should be up soon. It's at the Distillery District.

You will have a good time. Trust me.

Circadian Joy

I slept at night.

Those who know me well, know that for the past few weeks, I've flipped my sleep schedule around (as usual), and have been writing all night/sleeping all day. My aunt said, "You're on Hong Kong time".

I finally stayed up a full 24 hours, and went to bed at 10:30pm. Woke up at 10:30am. This is positively thrilling. I did the coolest things this morning - like eat breakfast.

Stay tuned to see if I can sleep tonight too!

No new word count yet. I wrote 1500+ words yesterday, but it's for an online contest.

Right now, I'm busy with a 10 minute lecture I'm supposed to deliver in a week. Not freaking out at all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

And None of You Told Me

When I was away, I missed this bit of news:
The largest used bookstore in the city is going to open where that old boarded-up gothic building in the Annex was.

Bonjour, bookstore! Au revoir, money!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back to Work, Please!

Saturn says:

Stop surfing, blogging, and watching CSI/Rodeo. Get back to work!

If you're wondering, "what's with your cat's face?" - she's a tortoise-shell.
Also known as "tortie". Here, you can learn about her genetic freakitude.

Her coloring is such that she appears to have two cream-coloured eyebrows which give her a look of perpetual worry. That's why I added the "please" in the title. She doesn't look very aggressive, does she?

And for all you dog people, yes, of course I love dogs too. One day I'll be mature enough to own one.


I am currently following the advice from chapter one of The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. It's by Noah Lukeman. It has exercises at the end of each chapter to apply to your manuscript. I'll keep you posted.

Did you know some rodeo guys wear helmets instead of cowboy hats now? Ok, ok, going...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Philip Pullman on Writer's Block

What do you do about writer's block?

"I don't believe in it. All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don't get plumber's block, and doctors don't get doctor's block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?"

A great answer - though the word associations between plumbers and blockages strikes me as icky.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Word Meter

A cool word meter I've seen on other websites from Zokutu Writer's Tools, part of a writers' group website. Their main page is here.

Work in Progress #2 is now at:

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
17,821 / 90,000

I'm not sure if that's inspirational or depressing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Meeta's Postcards

What's For Lunch Honey?: My Postcards

I think that's the link back to the Queen Organizer of the whole affair that I'm s'posed ta post.

A Little Bit About the Postcard Below

I am actually a postcard collector, so it was tough for me to choose from my collection. I narrowed down the postcards to four - the criteria being that both art or image on the front and the artist be Canadian. I then decided that the postcard should actually be from the city I'm in. Then I had to choose between an art card or a somewhat more touristy card. This time I opted for the more touristy. Casa Loma is a Toronto landmark. You can find out more about Casa Loma here.

"What's For Lunch, Honey?" Blog Postcard Exchange

Some lucky blogger will soon be receiving this postcard:

Sorry for the delay in putting it up. My computer was co-opted by Sister In Desperate Need of Computer today. But she lent me her camera with which to take the above picture, so no big deal.

Now, I have to go back to the blog that started the exchange and make sure I'm doing this all right. And I have to mail the postcard out, of course!

More soon.

Oh yeah - W.I.P. #2 - wrote 4000 words last night! Yipee!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Foodie Bloggie Fun

My friend, baker extraordinaire and princess of preserves, "Tam", furnished me with a list of cool food blogs a while back. I started reading What's For Lunch, Honey? and I'm now taking part in this cool blog postcard exchange. Tomorrow I will post my postcard and then mail it. If I was in England, I would've had to say, "post it". At the post office.

Eventually I will share some of the other food blogs too. Or maybe T. will start her own blog. (Nudge, nudge.)

iPod Shuffle, be mine

I think this is a very smart way to market a book. Why, yes, I will plug your book for the chance at an iPod. Do unto others, right?

Win free stuff!
Love freebies? Love books? Love YA?
Read on.




(1) Your choice of either an iPod Shuffle, OR a fifty dollar Amazon.com gift certificate
(2) An autographed copy of REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt
(3) A copy of the August issue of Teen People, which lists REALITY CHICK as a Can't-Miss Pick for August
(4) Free tuition to a session of Lauren's YA writing class


STEP ONE: Simply copy and paste this whole message (including the info about the contest) into any blog, message board, email list, myspace bulletin, or anywhere a lot of people will see it!

REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt is NOW IN STORES!

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of
course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to
watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up
on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if
school isn't panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like
paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old
crushes, and learning to live on your own.

Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares?
Ally's got bigger issues -- like how her long-distance bf can watch her
loopy late-night "episode" with a certain housemate...

Freshman year on film.
It's outrageous.
It's juicy.
And like all good reality TV, it's impossible to turn off.


Check out Lauren on the web at www.laurenbarnholdt.com or on her myspace at www.myspace.com/laurenbarnholdt

STEP TWO -- Email Lauren at lauren (at) laurenbarnholdt.com and let her know you've posted about the contest and the book, and you'll be entered to win the prize pack! The winner will be picked at random on September 1st. The more places you post, the more entries you get. Have fun and good luck!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Utterly Useless Writing Advice"

That's not my title, that John Scalzi's. Scalzi is a science fiction writer. I've never read his work. I found his Utterly Useless Writing Advice on his blog while surfing.

I haven't actually finished reading his advice. It's a long post. Also, I've already made several choices contradictory to his advice. Still, it's worth taking a look at if you hope to write for money... one day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What I'm Reading

Finished the third of the "Maisie Dobbs" books last night. It's called Pardonable Lies. It was the best so far.

Jacqueline Winspear, the author, has a beautiful essay on her website, called Skylarks Above No Man's Land that describes her visits to the battlefields of WWI. I recommend it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Leaps and Bounds

If you've logged onto Yahoo today, you've probably already seen this headline, but I had to share it. I've always wished that sidewalks could be made of wood like they appear in frontier town recreations. They'd be so much easier on the feet - and on the shoes! So the installation of rubber sidewalks in cities across the U.S. is exciting news.

I have time limits for my high heeled shoes. For example, some of my heels are "four hour shoes", some are "six hour". That denotes the maximum time I can walk and stand in them comfortably - for example, shoes for work need to be "eight hour", shoes for an evening out can vary.

Get it?

But rubber sidewalks extend the timeframe on everything. You could salsa for hours and totter home in comfort!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spare Some Words?

I was working on Book 1 last night, when I realized I was missing a chapter. I knew I'd written it, but where had it gone?
I went through my other files and realized I had 30 more pages written in another file (titled naturally "New Beginning"). I had re-written a beginning to my novel and then conveniently forgotten about it.

I need that one chapter, but I don't know if I really need the rest. This is where having a real editor look at it would be handy. Funny or senile that I can write 6000 words and forget about them? I guess it means they're not critical to the story, but the background might be helpful to the reader. Time will tell.

Corporate Shilling

Even though I don't work there anymore, I get emails from Starbucks. Right now they're promoting a sweepstake to go see Corinne Bailey Rae on her European tour. So I click on through and end up (like a good marketing follower) signing up for a 3-day free trial of XM Radio - their satellite radio service. That's what I'm listening to. It's pretty awesome. I can't really afford to really subscribe ($13/mo), but the options are great, and the layout is really simple. Worth checking out the free trial, if only to remind yourself of all the music that's out there that you've forgotten you enjoy.

I am readin Sol Stein's two books:
How to Grow a Novel
Stein on Writing

They're harsh. I'm not reading either straight through - I'm picking bits here and there. The advice is excellent so far, but it is aimed at writing literary fiction.

I'm writing genre. Did I mention that before? Now you know.

I could still apply all of his advice, but I'm wondering if it would be counter-productive, since my goal (with this book) is just to churn it out as fast as possible.

Alrighty, it's coffee time. More soon.

Book the Second

So now what?

Well, besides having too much fun shopping and dining with my sister today, I've been working on book #2.

I started it almost at the same time I started Book the First, but I haven't worked on it much till now.
Beginning word count: around 13 000 words

Am I so confident that book #1 will sell?
No! But what I've culled from all the writerly advice I've read is: send stuff out and keep writing.
Besides, if an editor decides she likes your book and wants to work with you, she'll be even happier to hear you're already working on another.

I'm also starting to research literary agents. It's funny how agents are the least frightening people ever until you need one.

So, book one is under revision (by me).
Book two (draft one) is progressing very slowly.
Book three (that I started three years ago) is staying in its current dormant state till further notice.

Tomorrow I hope to see Harmony Trowbridge sing at The Drake Hotel. You come too.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

You Heard it Here First!

When I was in L.A. I frequently, er, frequented a store on Sunset called "Book Soup". Now, behind Book Soup is another store called, Mystery Pier. If my memory serves, it was housed in little cottage-type building. It specializes in first editions and rare books. It was heaven.

I couldn't afford anything in it, though I was tempted to buy some old Travis McGee books with fantastic covers for my sister.

Anyhow, the owner informed me that he and his son had just been to England (I think to the London Book Fair) where he'd been sold a book. The bookseller told him that if he was not OVERWHELMED by the book, he would not only refund his money, but double it.

He bought two copies. Both he and his son were OVERWHELMED.

He told me that it was not yet available in the States or Canada, but that it would be released here in the Fall.

I just noticed that it is now available for pre-order on Amazon.ca. It is called The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Consider me your harbinger of buzz.

If you have connections in the U.K. and have read it, no spoilers please!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Insomnia Can Be Useful (Draft #1)

Oh, yeah. Here it is. The post you've been waiting for.

I'm finished my first draft! Hurrah!

It is currently 53 813 words and 239 pages long. (Or, 46 187 words too short.)

Anyhow, I've stayed up all night to alternately whine and write. (And eat Junior Mints.)

So I'm a little bit nutty at the moment, but happy. 'Cause once it was done, I had to print it out, of course.

Do you know what 239 pages looks like in a big 3-ring binder? It looks like I haven't wasted the last eight months of my life!

I know it needs a lot of work. I know it is only a first draft. But I'm happy.

Now, how do I get back to that ol' "sleeping at night and working during the day" Circadian rhythms thing?

Also, how long should a second draft take?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shuffling Along

First things first:
My sister (in Jerusalem) is fine and I am grateful.

This is not a political blog, so you won't get much political ranting from me. (Not here, anyway.) I know, I know, it's really difficult to find that on the web.

So, you ask, what have I been doing since I haven't been blogging? I shall tell you.

Escapism, writing, living.

Escapism consisted of:

In Her Shoes, School of Rock, 1/2 of Sunset Boulevard, and none of Grizzly Man.

Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, and James Ellroy's Clandestine. (As previously mentioned.) All three are quite good. 'Maisie Dobbs' is a new British sleuth - a young woman setting up her P.I. practice in the years after WWI. Very interesting, with some unexpected character traits.

I am at over 50 000 words and 218 pages. Hooray. Hooray-ish?

Two chapters to go. I may have said that before, but I keep adding chapters. These last two chapters are the most difficult. Maybe because if I finish, I have to start (ugh, cough cough, whine) REVISING. Blech.

As for living, well... news to watch, bills to pay, jobs to contemplate (heh), etc.

More soon. Hopefully a completed (and too-short-by-half) first draft!
Are you ready?! I didn't think so...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Home. Haven't written all that much since I've been back. I wrote a bit.

Toronto is so lovely. So many people on the streets. So much going on. Street festivals and play festivals and literary festivals, oh my! It's very festive!

Good to see friends, too.

Not that L.A. doesn't have it's perks - they're just two very different cities.

I'm currently reading Clandestine by James Ellroy. I've never read him before. I opened it up in the bookstore, and the story hooked me right away. The book is helping me see Los Angeles as a literary place. Perhaps I'm more comfortable in a place when I've trod through it 'fictionally' first.

I found the book at Balfour Books on College Street. I don't know how I missed this bookstore for the last eleven years. I've been on that block of College Street a hundred times and never noticed it before. I can't imagine how much money I've saved by simply not knowing it was there! I'd heard of "Balfour" before, but I always thought it was on Harbord or Queen. I also bought two early Atwoods and a collection of stories by Guy de Maupassant.

Don't sass me about it. I almost bought a dictionary, a pulp novel, and the whole hardcover set of the Little House books! See, I have some restraint!

Two little links to leave you with:
(1) The red paper clip guy got a house!
(2) Toronto aerospace guy flies ornithopter! I didn't even know that that flappy plane was called an ornithopter.

See? You do learn things here. Occasionally.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Waiting, waiting...

Did you know that Gene Autry was the only person to be honoured on the Walk of Fame in all it's categories? Now you do.


I'm sitting in the Maple Leaf Lounge at LAX. I volunteered to bump my flight till today, so they upgraded me to "executive class" and I'm taking full advantage of the perks.

Well, not full advantage. I don't drink beer at 8:00am. I am drinking green tea. Trying to recharge my computer. I'm sitting in a comfy chair by the vast picture windows overlooking the runways with the palm trees and the hills in the distance. It's a beautiful clear day.

Got some writing done already this morning. Not much further than my last report, but I'm at 45 230 words.

I wish I hadn't availed myself of the mediocre "continental breakfast" at the hotel, 'cause the stuff here looks better. I'm just not hungry. And I'm jonesing for coffee, but I don't want to be all dehydrated on the plane. So it goes.

The last weekend in L.A. we visited Santa Barbara, where b/f treated me to a concert - Fiona Apple at the Santa Barbara Bowl. What can I say, she's amazing. Damien Rice should still be practising his craft in smoky dive bars. He's got potential, and he's cute, (ok, and the Irish accent doesn't hurt either), but he's no Rufus Wainwright. David Garza is worth another listen - he played sort of electro-latino ballads.

We also walked around Santa Barbara, hung out at the beach, and checked out the old Presidio - which was essentially a Spanish colonial fort designed to protect settlers and the Fransiscan missions. We also walked around the Santa Barbara Mission - known as the Queen of Missions. It was the 10th mission set up in California in the 1700s. As I learned in the gift shop, Santa Barbara is the patron saint of contractors, builders, and construction workers, mainly 'cause she re-designed the tower she was locked up in.

The Native Americans of the area (whom the Spanish were converting) were the Chumash.

My last few days in L.A. were mainly packing and bumming around the apartment, but I did head to Hollywood and Highland to buy some last minute tacky souvenirs, and eat Baja Fresh - essentially, fast food we don't have in T.O.

And I went with A. the Housemate to see The Break Up. I didn't read the reviews beforehand. I really enjoyed it. I did laugh, and I also found it poignant and sweet. I understand some of the bad reviews - I can see how someone might compare it to a sitcom highlight reel, but despite the flaws, I think it's a good movie. If you're not going to see it in theatres, it's still well-worth a rent.

Et, voila. That's my last missive from L.A.
I still have plenty of photos to share, but they'll be posted from T.O.
Happy Canada Day (tomorrow) to everyone. Anyone heading to the Islands?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Going, going...

Y'know when you type and type and then you accidentally shut down your browser before saving your new blog post?

So rather than type all that stuff all over again, I will post some pics and go to sleep. Maybe I'll fill it all in later.

This is from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

After trying several times to post more pics, I am giving up and going to sleep. Either blogger's slow or the wireless connection's slow or I'm slow.

So one pic is all there is to see here. I'll be here tomorrow. Goodnight, and try the polenta.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Comments Fix Up

Thanks to everyone who tried to post a comment - hopefully you'll now be able to see it on the blog. I guess I had turned on the "moderate comments" option on Blogger when I just wanted the word verification. I didn't realize I had to approve each comment individually. Sorry about that!

Thanks for all the encouragement and visits.

My sister mentioned Despair.com in one of her comments. Check it out, it made me giggle.

I'm now at just over 40 000 words. Hooray! (No, I'm not writing 4000 words a day. But at least I know I could...?)

B/f & I went to Manhattan Beach tonight to visit the ocean. I liked it, but I wouldn't mind seeing it again in the daytime. Oceans are so lonely at night, aren't they? There were people - families - night-fishing off the pier. I heard one guy say the fish he'd caught was a small shark. (It was quite small.)

There are so many beach communities here still to check out.

More photos tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Silver, Art, Tea

Today: Silver

Walked along Melrose, from Harper almost to La Brea - checking out the little boutiques. East of Fairfax the cheaper shmatte shops pop up, as well as the vinyl collector shops, the skater stores, and the little eateries. Went into the Paris-based Metal Pointu's, where they carry beautiful pewter based jewellery, plated with silver or bronze. It's a very distinctive sculptural line, and the bracelets I tried on had a nice heft to them. They also carried some delicate pieces by the French line Clio Blue - including whimsical plastic bangles inlaid with sterling silver.

Yesterday: Art

Went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art yesterday (LACMA).
Saw the David Hockney exhibit. I really like his static realistic portraits from the late '70s/early '80s, but I'm not such a fan of his newer stuff. One of my favourites from the exhibition was his earlier "A Rake's Progress" - I'd link to it, but I can't find a decent example. Probably 'cause it's still under copyright.

I also saw most of the modern glass exhibit, "Material Matters". There's a discussion with the co-curator on their site.

There are currently five Klimt paintings on display - this was the first time I'd ever seen them "live". The unlimited reproductions do little justice to the originals. Especially the paintings of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The colour - the translucence - of her skin in the originals is stunning. And her expression is captivating. So beautiful and so strikingly different from the modern California ideal.

The same evening, my b/f alerted me to the fact that Ron Lauder had just purchased it for 135 million dollars. I can't fathom that kind of disposable income, but I can understand wanting the painting.

I ate at one of the museum cafes, "Pentimento", where they were advertising an afternoon tea. I was too late for the tea (which seemed worth returning for), but I had a delicious eggplant sandwich instead. They served surprisingly good coffee too.

Day Before Yesterday: Tea

Previously, I had tea with a friend at The Tudor House - a tea room in Santa Monica. It was like a little bit of England on the west coast. Besides a lovely tea, they also offer a little store full of British edibles (or should I say curiosities?): salad cream, pickle spread, yorkshire puddings (frozen packs of 12), awesome Cadbury chocolates I've never seen, and best of all, Elizabeth Shaw Mint Crisps!


And of course, Saturday was our party!

Margaritas, yummy food (marcona almonds, anyone?), and super friends! And of course, everyong BTOB (brought their own beer), so now we have enough left over to have another party.

More soon.
I have worked on my novel since the last post, but not enough to impress you with.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Glamour Glitter and Flashbulbs

So, I suppose that being in L.A. might conjure impressions of partying at trendy hotspots, but the truth of the matter is I'm waiting for the plumber to show up and fix the kitchen faucet and waste-disposal thingy.

It's really exciting.

Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to be writing.

That's why I'm going to go make cornbread.

(running away before y'all can glare at my flagrant avoidance tactics...)

Monday, June 12, 2006


B/f bought How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker (based on his sister's recommendation). I started with the 'sense of smell book', and then onto the 'recovery from brain injury book', and now onto the 'how the mind works book'. The brain is just so fascinating.

Also reading Story-Wallah - an anthology of South Asian writers, edited by Shyam Selvadurai. So far I've only read one story, but I read half of it in the store and it convinced me to buy the book, so I already recommend it.

That's all the news that's fit to print for now...

Lazy Sunday

Palm trees are growin' on me. Not literally.

There are more vanity plates here than I've seen anywhere else. I've seen ones like "BUSYMOM" and "INDABIZ", but this was different:

Last few days have been much fun and no writing.
Tomorrow, I gotta get back on the writing wagon.

I am not going to this Writers' Conference in Santa Barbara, but their links to resources page is cool.

I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, which was fun. Went to a friend's birthday dinner at a rockin' sushi joint.

Was invited to a lovely barbeque earlier tonight at a couple's house in Eagle Rock. I can eat vegetarian a lot of the time, but I don't think I could ever fully give up steak. (Yes, it was kosher steak.) Yum!

Other things I haven't blogged about yet:
The boutiquey shopping area of Larchmont.
Today was the Pride Parade in "WeHo" - or West Hollywood. We actually missed it - not on purpose, more out of just lazing about on a Sunday. Besides, Toronto's Pride is supposed to be the best, isn't it?

And here is a photo of the water lily pond/architecture at the The Skirball Cultural Centre. B/f & I either call it "The Furball" or "The Screwball" -but it's a cool place.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Feelin' Groovy

Well, yes, it's a quarter to three in the morning, but I feel much better. The thought of having to write almost 4000 words a day was unsettling me, so I figured I'd give it a good try right away to see what it would feel like.

This evening's effort, combined with this afternoon's brings the grand total to 4587 words written today.

So hooray, it's possible!

Now I'm going to sleep!

If you're reading this at three in the morning, you should too.

The title of this post reminds me - anyone listened to the new Paul Simon record yet? Any opinions?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lost Parrot

I took this picture a while ago, but I don't think I posted it before. (Did I?)

There seem to be many dogs in L.A. and many bird stores.


I need a new book to read. Any suggestions? I was thinking of buying Larry McMurtry's biography of Crazy Horse, but I could be persuaded otherwise.

On a road trip with my family, I visited the site in South Dakota where a statue of Crazy Horse is being carved into a mountainside. I've been interested in his life ever since. The progress of that statue is fascinating too. The actual carving, the info building, and the proposed site for a university and museum are much more impressive in person than as a (unfortunately tacky) website, but worth checking out.


Wrote slightly over 1500 words today, but that's after a few days of not writing. However, to actually reach my goal of finishing by end of June now, I'll have to write almost 4000 words a day. On that note...

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Tonight is the beginning of Shavuot.

Shavuot celebrates the day that G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people. It's also a harvest festival, signaling the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. It's traditional to stay up all night (what's known as a tikkun) studying Torah, Talmud, and other writings. Then at sunrise, you do a really early morning service.

There's also a tradition to eat dairy, possibly stemming from the notion that Torah will be to our hearts as milk and honey are to our tongues. So, cheese blintzes, cheesecake, ice cream? Bring it on!

There's some more info here from Judaism 101. And I've also referenced Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

Gotta run! Chag Sameach (happy holiday) to all observing!

(And feel free to correct me if I've gotten my information wrong.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I've been sitting at my computer for a few hours now...
I've made popcorn.
I've filled up my water bottle.
I've ambled around the internet doing "research".
I finished my popcorn.
I finished the water.
I have yet to write a word.

It's just amazing how tremendous the fear in my own head can be.
If I can be irrationally confident that every word I'll write will be awful, why can't I be irrationally confident in the opposite way? Why can't I feel sure that every word I'll write will be brilliant?

Ok, ok, ok, here goes...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

L.A. Snapshots - May 29

Memorial Day - yesterday, we went to lie on the grass and read in Griffith Park.

This is Griffith himself:

This is a man who looks like he's been working the Pony Rides for the last 50 years:

And here, families were barbequeing and picnicking on their Memorial Day weekend. (I suppose we should've planned to visit a memorial, but we didn't think about it.) I was very excited when the bass-man and the accordian man showed up, but they promptly disappeared, and I didn't hear any music:

Afterwards we went to Fred 62, a hipster diner in Los Feliz. Celebrity spotting: Katherine Heigl. Actually, all I saw was a pretty, well-dressed, nicely made-up tall blonde, but b/f identified her celebrity status.

Two of the views from our table:

I know, I said I'd go write. And then I kept blogging. You weren't supposed to catch that. Well, that's all for now. Yes, going ...

Alone and Not Cleaning

B/f has gone out to get groceries, and I have been making a lame attempt to tidy the apartment. As you can see, I am now blogging, which means little tidying is getting done.

Finished reading Where is the Mango Princess? this morning. Highly recommended. It is beautiful, harrowing account of a family dealing with one member's traumatic brain injury (TBI). I read two-thirds of the book with my hand clasped over my mouth, 'cause so much of it was jaw-dropping.

I read that Psychology Today article I posted last time, and it doesn't do the book justice. The book reads like a fast education in TBI and recovery as well as a moving argument for universal health care. It is sad, infuriating, tragically comic, and most of all, a testament to the bonds between husband and wife, family and friends.

I want to check out Cathy Crimmin's other books now, especially, How the Homosexuals Saved Civilization.

Probaby going to do some writing now, and then go see The Proposition.

WIP - main document update: 32,503 words

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Movie: Clean

Went to see Clean, starring Maggie Cheung and Nick Nolte. I agree with most of the reviews on the page. I didn't 'lose myself' in the movie, but the emotion I felt by the end was quite deep.

Recommended with reservations.

(The above link is the Rotten Tomatoes one. This is the IMDb one.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Small Steps

Pardon me if I do a little milestone victory boogie!

I've reached 30 000 words and 131 pages in my main document.


Now off to a movie, and then...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Music, Billboards, etc.

EDIT: I meant to post these photos in such a way that you could click on them to enlarge them, but I messed up. I'll try and repost them later. Sorry.
Happy Birthday to my DAD! Why doesn't he get all the fun font colours that my sister got? 'Cause he doesn't read my blog!
I called him. I sent a card. It's all good.

Bought the latest Neko Case album. It's incredible. Of course. Go look at it just to check out the cover art, if nothing else. Creepy and fascinating.

B/f took me to see The Eels yesterday night at The Roxy.

It was great. I don't usually go to concerts of bands I know practically nothing about, but I highly recommend it (especially when er, someone else buys the tickets). Some of their stuff was rockin' surfer-style, and some of it was beautiful acoustic-y ballads. A lot of fun. "Railroad Man" really stuck with me. You can listen to it on the "preview samplers" on their website. And the lyrics are here.

Oh, and that rental car I had for a few weeks? I don't. I hit a parked car. Don't ask. Anyhow, had to return it. So... (rubbing hands with fake glee) - who wants to hear about the L.A. public transit system?!!!

Went for a really late breakfast and excellent coffee at Kings Road Cafe. I had the whole wheat/granola pancakes. I brought one and a half pancakes home to eat tomorrow morning. Yum.

See, it's important to introduce people (like one's significant other) to good coffee, 'cause then they'll scout it out themselves in other cities. Now I can visit L.A., and he's already found the best coffee in town.

Ok, now for some photos of billboards, and then I really have to get some writing done today. (And be kind, these photos were all taken out of a car window.)

Some billboards are all about faith.

Either to remind that the day of rest is on its way...

Or an open invite to join the faithful (at the Faithdome)...

And then there's this, where I wouldn't send my kid...

And then they get a bit wackier. You can imagine that a city full of people reaching for the stars would have a few psychics. But I didn't expect them to be so ubiquitous or so well off. This isn't a good pic, but the sign says that they're specialists in chakra balancing and aura cleansing. Do you really need both?!

I'm not sure why they have to specify European.

Maybe it's translated from another language, but I keep seeing restaurants for various foods "on fire". Here's one example.

It's remarkable how much cleavage they managed to give Paris in this billboard. Notice, she also has a pie-on-fire.

Lastly, apologies for a blurry pic. An older woman pushing a tricycle down the road, with the words: "I'm going out in style!" If by "in style" you mean "crazy". 'Cause you're in the middle of the road and you're gonna get hit by a truck. It's an ad for funeral pre-planning. Makes me uncomfortable everytime we drive by it.

And that's that.
Now off to do the other writing. There's still a lot I want to blog about, but I'll save it for another day. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Work (or Late Night Geological Philosophy)

I have a rental car for a few weeks. Ah, the freedom to get lost in a city you barely know! Well, I had my cellphone and a Thomas Guide, so how lost could I get? Don't answer that!

Anyhow, I drove past some guys doing construction on a house, and I saw a young man psyche himself up behind a wheelbarrow/cart full of smashed bricks, and run and push the wheelbarrow up a steep ramp onto a truck, and dump the stones onto the truck. (Then he probably loaded up the cart and did it all again.)

I felt exhausted just seeing him briefly as I drove by. It's one of those things that you see and think, "how come we can develop nanotechnology, but guys still have to manually wheel broken bricks up steep ramps onto trucks? Am I being bourgeois, empathetic, or futuristic?

Mentally, though, my writing has been just like that. I keep having to take a deep breath, run... and PUSH the words onto the page. Even if I know they're gonna be awful. Even if the scene feels pointless. Even if it's not at all what I intended when I started typing. That's the hardest part.

I'm at 119 pages. Not too bad. You may have noticed that I've stopped reporting a total word count. It's not 'cause I don't want to, but because with all the editing I've done, it hasn't changed as dramatically as I would've hoped. It looks underwhelming to print. And my former word count was a total of three documents. Now I'm not sure how many of the other two I'll use, so I only count my main one (which, sadly, is still only at 27 000 words.)

Just remembered being at an amethyst mine - in Thunder Bay, I think - with my family. You could "pick your own" essentially. My mom and dad and I were just picking up any pretty purplish rocks, whereas my sister was combing carefully through. She walked and walked, keeping her keen eyes on the ground, till she found two stunning pieces of amethyst. One was an especially valuable deep purple in one solid crystal shape.

I feel like now I'm just shoving cartfuls of rocks onto a truck, and then later, when the truck is full, I'll have to dump all the rocks out onto a patch of grass and pick out all the best ones to polish.

There is the urge to edit as I go, but my main goal is to finish the book, so I have to suppress it. I worry that if when l finish the first draft and start "polishing", I'll find that I have only three salvageable pages.

Maybe that'll be my motivation - "finish the first draft, and then you can worry as much as you want!"

Yeah. Heck, with my attitude, maybe I'll get a job at Successories!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Back of a Book

Wrote 1795 words today. I'm at 110 pages. Yay-ish. Still behind my overall quota (to finish by the end of June). Even if I do finish according to my outline, it looks like I may have to fill in a lot of description or backstory, or add another subplot. The novel is not quite hefty enough for where I am in the in the story.

I've also realized that my subplot reveals things about the main plot that I didn't really want the reader to know yet. B/f says Hitchcock (the director, not the orange cat previously featured here), always kept the audience a step ahead of his characters, but I don't know if that applies to my story. All I can do is keep writing and edit or restructure it later.

Why I Don't Read the Backs of Books

1) Much like a movie trailer, the back of a book is a synopses or a teaser that:

a) will likely misrepresent the book to sell it to a greater number of people
b) will likely spoil some element or surprise that I will wish I hadn't known about
c) is not necessarily written by the author
d) if written by the author, is probably written begrudgingly
e) asks you to judge a book by reading a hundred words or so


If you're going to read fifty or a hundred words or so, why not just READ THE BOOK? Open it up - it's not illegal. Start at the beginning - or maybe a few pages in - and read. If the story hooks you or the style intrigues you or the font they chose pleases your eyes, great, buy it or borrow it or whatever and read it. If it doesn't, put it back on the shelf and leave it for another day.

I don't know why people find that so difficult to understand.

After I'd read "The God of Small Things", "The English Patient", and "Fall on Your Knees" I opened up "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry. Within a paragraph, I knew that I could not read another dramatic saga that would make me weep. So I put it down. One day I will read "A Fine Balance". One day when I need a good cry.

Besides, if you check the backs of books that you've read, you'll see that none of them accurately describe the experience you had reading the book.

Now don't get me started on author's photos...

Monday, May 22, 2006

Happy Birthday to my Sister!

I wish I had some really exciting picture for you, but I don't. I'll try to find one soon.

She's 10 hours ahead of me, so her birthday is practically over in Jerusalem, but hey, it's still birthday over here!


A bit of Danny Kaye from the film, The Inspector General for my sister.

(I can't remember if this is the clip you were looking for or not.)

What does an inspector general do?
Inspect generals?


An Inspector General
Generally inspects
That is,
They expect him to inspect
If they’re expecting an Inspector General

An exceptionally generous Inspector General
Who made an exception and had no inspection
Would cause suspicion which in my condition
I couldn’t accept - Thank you

If people unsuspecting
Now accept without detecting
An imposter who’s not posted as a pedigreed Inspector
Could this palpable imposter say a gypsy or a Koster*
Could he possibly get past them by his posture?

In two words:

* - the director of the film was Henry Koster, and I suspect that this is what Kaye is actually saying. Initially, I couldn't figure out what a "costa" was in context, but I think it's an inside joke by Kaye or the writer.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Book: Where is the Mango Princess?

Went to Book Soup, a great little bookstore on the Sunset Strip. Maybe I've already blogged about it?

Bought Where is the Mango Princess?. I don't read the backs (synopses) of books, so all I know is what's on the front, which is that it's about recovering from brain injury. I'd seen it the last time I was in Book Soup, and I couldn't find the shelf it was on this time. When I asked the salesperson, she said, "oh yeah, it's one of my favourites", so I took that to be a good sign.
I'll let you know how it turns out.

Here is a review of the book from Psychology Today, which I haven't read.

I've been shopping way too much. I think spending money gives me a false sense of control. In reality, it's just the thrill of choosing to spend money when I could as easily CHOOSE books from the condo library.

So it goes. (<-- a saying I picked up in my Vonnegut phase.

Haven't done any writing today, so I guess that's next...


The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks.

I remember avoiding this book initially when it came out, 'cause every time I picked it up, I was disappointed that it wasn't a real girls' guide to hunting and fishing.

However, it's an excellent book. A novel constructed from chronologically-linked short stories.

Clean elegant prose, with a gem of a metaphor or a startling turn of phrase on just about every page. Not the sort that makes you roll your eyes as the author tries too hard, but the sort that makes you pause, thinking, "that's exactly the right description (and I've never thought of it that way before)".

It's a quick read, emotionally satisfying and highly recommended.

Found it in the apartment complex' little library. It has a Book Crossing ID on it. It's an interesting idea - mark a book with an id number, register it online and release it 'into the wild' and track its progress.

A sticker on the inside cover reads: "I'm a traveling book and I'm making new friends..."

Banks has another book out called "The Wonder Spot". I might read that when I go home.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cupcakes and Cat (for T.)

Yesterday I decided to accompany the housemate - we'll call her A. - to Beverly Hills. While she had an appointment, I perused a card store, called "The Card Factory". I bought a card made by Sesame Letterpress, based in New York, of course! (Check out their coasters - so pretty!) And I bought a card from sugar bean press too. (Check out their holiday cards!)

Then A. met me at the potentially pretentious, but (in reality) lovely Le Pain Quotidien, where I had an exquisite brioche. When I asked for jam, the waitress brought a trio of full-size jars of rhubarb jam, cherry jam, and a nutella-like spread made of pralined hazelnuts. Yum!

We then meandered over to K Chocolatier, where Diane Kron, the owner is quite generous with free samples!

Not quite satiated on sugar, we crossed the street to Sprinkles Cupcakes, where I bought a lemon-ginger cupcake and a chocolate-coconut cupcake. We haven't tried either yet - they're still in their pretty little box, looking too good to eat.

Later in the evening, we went to a short film fest where we caught a sweet funny little film by Iris Bahr, called The Unchosen Ones.

Then we came home and ate popcorn and made the Ginger Soda from the last issue of Martha Stewart Living. I'll link to the recipe when they put it online. It made the whole house smell like ginger. Aaaaaah.

Oh yeah, and I wrote a lot. In my main document, I've now reached ninety-nine pages. Hooray. I guess I should've waited to post the hundredth page, but 99 looks cool too.

All in all, a nice day in L.A.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


My sister has a great post/link about the five lies procrastinators tell themselves.

If you're a procrastinator, go read it!

Er, now!

Happy Birthday to Clay!

A peony for Clay. (Cut from my parents' garden last summer.)


And a few more photos I forgot to post last time. They're mostly from a walk I took.

A detail from a billboard for the movie "Over the Hedge". They go all out on the billboards here.

A closed shop window reflection.

A yellow rose from someone's lawn. I love yellow roses.

Interesting pharmacy sign.

An old and faded sign in the window of a donut shop that says "Fresh and Tasty". I lied. It says "Fresh Donuts Daily". Click the pic to see.

Everyone drink a toast to Clay! A vos sante! Hip hip hooray! Carpe diem! Salute! L'chaim! Cheers!

(Re-editing apres posting again - trying to get the layout w/ pics right.)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pondering Perfume Packaging

I've written 1500 words today, so I'm allowed to take a break.

Four major fashion/cosmetic companies have all come out with similar perfume bottles at the same time.

This serendipity (or outright stealing, who knows?) occurs all the time in art, design, fashion, television, and film. But I've never seen four perfume bottles all come out at around the same time so similar in feel.

Each bottle is either purple or purply-blue, essentially rectangular with some sort of a curve thrown in. I have yet to smell them all.

Hugo Boss - Pure Purple

Lancome - Hypnose

Elizabeth Arden - Provocative (and Provocative Interlude)

Giorgio Armani - Armani Code

Ok. Back to work.

- a little edit post-publishing - here's a better view of the Elizabeth Arden Provocative Woman bottle.

A few pics for now

A few pics from last weekend's trip to Dodger stadium, in no particular order.

This first one makes me think of the e. e. cummings poem "-in Just", with the "balloon man" who "whistles far and wee". I was taking pics from the car, but I never did see the man's head. Only his feet and the balloons and cotton candy.

I haven't posted pics till now, so I might change these around when I see how they turn out.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Book, Film, Martini, Parasite

It's been a week since I posted, so I'm trying to remember interesting things to talk about. Sorry it's such a long post!

I got a lot of writing done last week, but yesterday I only wrote 500 words, so I have a lot still to do today.

Books read:
In Her Shoes.
A book recommended to me as an example of good chick-lit. Since I am ridiculously sappy, it made me laugh a little, and cry a lot. Pretty good. The beginning was a slow and trite, but it picked up and the middle third was great. I haven't seen the movie, but from what I've heard they changed a lot in the adaptation.

Celebrity (almost) Sightings:
I saw photographers grouped outside a store trying to photograph Courtney Love. Did not see Courtney Love. (Did not make any effort to either.) I think I saw Goldie Hawn at the Sav-on (drugstore) at noon. I dunno.
Anywhere else, I might say, "I saw someone who looked a lot like Goldie Hawn at the drugstore", but in L.A., it's likely to be the real thing.

So last week I went to a bar called Lola's in West Hollywood. It was packed to the gills, and it was a bit surreal. All week long, I was around a maximum of three people (b/f, housemate, housemate's b/f) and then we go to a bar packed with people. Young twenties, early forties, people playing pool, everybody out to have a good time. Some people recklessly cruising around. I wondered, where are all these people during the week? Where do they all come from to converge on a bar like Lola's on a Thursday evening? In L.A. you see so few pedestrians, that when you're suddenly confronted by a crowd in a bar, it's jarring.

I had the Ronnie's Kamikaze martini. I picked it in a hurry, 'cause the bartender was waiting, and it contained Cointreau. It was delicious, but I hadn't eaten much, and on the way home, I was the most inebriated I have ever been in my life. On one martini! Luckily, only my honey was around to see it and I was in a city where no one would recognize me!

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

A meditation on humanity, modernity, bureaucracy, dignity.
I was warned that it was going to be "two and a half hours of an old man dying".
Which it was. Difficult to recommend, yet I'm grateful I saw it. If I hadn't been sitting in a theatre, I never would've sat through it all.
So, if you're going to see it, see it in a theatre, 'cause you might not have the patience to sit through it at home.

The first 45 minutes or so, I was thinking, "hmmm, I could be somewhere else", but about mid-way through I was hooked. In Romania, an old man whose sister doesn't want to talk to him, and whose daughter lives in Canada, feels ill and calls for an ambulance. He's poor, has a reputation for drinking, and no one takes him very seriously. Not the ambulance service, not his neighbors. The only person who shows real concern about his condition is the paramedic who finally shows up.

It bizarrely and sadly reminded me of the Canadian health care system. Don't misunderstand me, I'm for public health care. And yes, in Toronto, you get an ambulance right away if you phone for one, but the rest was chillingly familiar. The over-worked emergency staff, the potential for misdiagnosis, the shuffling around of patients from one hospital that has no beds to another that has no beds, etc.

And it was refreshingly realistic in portraying doctors as arrogant asses with little-to-no bedside manner and no respect for nurses. (Intelligent, pragmatic asses, to be fair.) Again, I emphasize that the medical attention I've received in T.O. has been mainly good/great, but doctors are people, not angels. And as my b/f said, we are so used to seeing them protrayed on television as altruistic heroes.

Also, the reality that old people with no family to accomany them get the least respect and the least attention from the medical community was heartbreakingly realistic. Medical staff seem to think that if there is no family around to make a scene, and if the patient has lived most of his/her natural life, then they are less accountable for the patient's health.

It was a very moving, very cynical, and unfortunately realistic film.

Other Stuff
I've got my pictures up, but I don't know how to post them yet. So once I figure that out, I'll post.

Also, from someone else's blog, I learned about this gross and fascinating little fish parasite.

And that's all the news that's fit to print today. More soon...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Take Me Out to the Ballgame...

So, today my b/f took me to my first baseball game ever.

He said, "It's three hours long, so you can bring a book if you want."
I said, "Pshaw!" or something like that, but I took a book just in case.
And hooray - I enjoyed myself tremendously and did not read the book!

Walking up to the stadium, I was so excited I was giggling.
I couldn't wait for the peanuts! And Crackerjacks!
And we were root-root-rooting for the other team ('cause my honey's a Brewers fan),
but that's ok. I don't mind rooting for the underdog.

It was also free hat day sponsored by "Farmer John". I didn't know who Farmer John was, but I appreciated the free hat. Even though I didn't wear it during the game, 'cause technically I'm now a Brewer's fan. (Well, I suppose that I truly am a Blue Jays fan, but seeing as I really was never into baseball, it's kind of meaningless.) So go Brewers!

It was a gorgeous hot sunny day contrary to what the Weather Network promised. So gorgeously hot and sunny that I got a dorky-looking burn on my arms and neck. Luckily I'd put sunscreen on my face.

I can see why the American public (and the Canadian and the Japanese) have embraced baseball. It's sporty and cerebral, date-friendly and family-friendly. We had good seats - "Field" - if that means anything to you.

It was so beautiful to see so many families - some with such teeny weeny babies too. Is there anything that inspires more hope than 50 000 people all enjoying the same thing out in the sunshine with no apparent meanness or hooliganism? I'm a bit of a sap, but hearing 50 000 people all sing the Star-Spangled Banner brought a tear to my Canadian eyes. We could maybe use a bit more of that in Canada. B/f said he couldn't remember if the concession stand folks stopped serving during the national anthem in T.O., but I hope they do.

The most frustrating thing I did not anticipate was that it was so difficult to see the ball! It was only just before anyone catches it, that you can see it. There was a foul in our section too, but I didn't see it - I just saw people reacting to it.

As for the peanuts and Crackerjacks, b/f had two beers (plastic bottles - who knew?), I had a sno-cone and water. We each had a "Dodger Dog" and we split the most expensive, most delicious salted roasted unshelled peanuts. Then he had a pretzel and I had an amazing discovery - a Carnation chocolate-malt! I will post a pic as soon as I buy that darn cord.

Full and slightly burned (both by sun and by the game), we headed home.

I still barely know anything about baseball - and nothing I learned in high school phys-ed seemed to apply, but it was lots of fun and I'd do it again. Are you kidding? There are still nachos and CrackerJacks and frozen lemonades to try! (I'm just teasing. I think I could get into this game. Although, now I kind of wanna check out a live hockey game too.)

Ok, off to write before we go to the Friend's House to watch TiVo'd Sopranos.
The Friend's House deserves it's own post too. I owe you loyal readers a few posts, but the work-in-progress calls.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hola, Progress

Well, I wrote over 1000 words today, so that's good.
And the last couple of days I've been creating a new outline - working backwards from the chapters or scenes I've already written, and highlighting the chapters that I still need to write.

I've also been doing a lot of revising. I want to hold back on most of the revising till I'm done the first draft, but some of it is necessary - i.e. when I move half a chapter to later in the book.

Feeling positive yet anxious every time I open my files.

Counting all my "newer beginning in first person" plus "older middle section in third person" and "subplot", I now have 25,000 words.

Quite a lot still to write. Then I have to convert all the third person stuff to first person and make sure the subplots weave in properly.


Tonight my b/f and I went to our first beginner Spanish class together. Before I got to L.A. he asked if I'd be into taking it and I said, sure. It's at the Language Door and it was fun. Good mental exercise. Our teacher makes an effort to speak only Spanish to us, and he's dynamic and positive - good qualities in a teacher. I hope I'll eventually understand a little more of the lyrics when I listen to Lhasa and Shakira in Spanish.

I'm off to get some tea and write some more.
Hope everyone (anyone?) reading this everywhere is doin' fine!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hello, Los Angeles!

The first of May! "So," you ask, "what have you been up to?"
I shall tell you.

Wednesday the 26th went like this:

Eat Country Griddle Cakes combo (no meat) at IHOP. (That's International House of Pancakes, for those not in the know.)
Go swimming in apartment complex pool. Aaaah.
Go to Eisley concert at the House of Blues. Sweet, quirky, lovely music. Very talented group. I would definitely buy their CD based on their concert, but I should probably add a whole different post about my musical tastes.
Go home and eat kale and white beans on corn tostadas that my honey has prepared.
Go to sleep.

Thursday the 27th...

take our laptops and work at Cafe Marco (where I am now). Free wifi! Hooray!
Have dinner with cool friend of b/f at the swanky Pace.
I ate the homemade pappardelle with wild mushrooms and leeks and it was divine. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish it, but I wish I could have.

Friday the 28th

Buy challa bread from a kosher bakery. Contend with crochety old lady/bakery owner.

Her (pointing):"This challa is $2.75 and this one is $3.00.
Me: "What's the difference?"
Her: "You taste it and then you tell me the difference."
Me: ???!!!

Go home. Have a yummy Shabbat dinner.

Saturday, April 29th

Go to synagogue. Oh yeah! (Little victory dance).
Come home, have awesome shabbat lunch - smorgasborde style.
Take nap.
Havdalah service at home.
Go see The Room
The Room deserves it's own post. It's a cult hit gaining status as the new "interactive" film a la the "Rocky Horror Picture Show".

Sunday, April 30th

Go to new free wifi bakery/cafe yesterday. Couldn't really focus and didn't get much writing done. I was a grump yesterday. I admit it.
Went to b/f's friend's house to watch DVD special features from "The Room". Watch TiVo'd Sopranos, eat Chinese take-out and chocolate bars, then write while the boys watch TiVo'd "24".

I suppose one could easily ingratiate oneself with people by simply installing TiVo or some other sort of digital recorder.


So, here I am at Cafe Marco again. Out of 11 people in this cafe, 9 are here with their laptops. That's the way it was the last time I was here too. My b/f is at home having a meeting.

So, now that I've blogged y'all up to date, I have to get some writing done. The weather here is lovely, of course. The mornings are hazy and cool till the sun burns through it, and then it's really warm. But the breeze never seems to go away. I'm starting undestand how this could incubate the "West Coast" attitude. Everyday feels like Sunday. Why wear a button-down shirt when a t-shirt would do? Still adjusting.

Although the foliage and the flowers and the fruit trees here are just stunning, I still miss the good old conifers and deciduous trees of home. Every plant here has a desert edge to it - a thickness or a glossiness that puts it just on the edge of "cactus". Also, everyone has a gardener and all the gardens - all the public space too - is meticulously pruned. I miss the unkempt edges. The link is to a photoset on Flickr.

I will post my own photos soon - I just have to buy a cord to connect the camera to the laptop.

Your Daily Cattiness

A perfect Los Angeles specimen just walked in!!!
Female? Transexual? Who knows? But the face is tightened and the dyed hair is full of mousse!
Giant breasts! Off-the-shoulder tight white tee. Midriff showing. Tight tight jeans tucked into white furry mukluk style boots.
I couldn't catch what she said to the guy behind the bar, but I could hear his answer:
"Sweet Sixteen? Aren't you supposed to have that when you're like, fifteen or something?"

Coffee: $2.00
Muffin: $1.50
Wifi: $0.00
Sitting here till Santa Monica v.4.0 walks in: priceless!

Eek - and then she turned around, and she was in fact, a he. And honestly, I don't care if they're real or fake - if you're going to wear a see-through t-shirt, wear a bra! Yikes.


Been editing and re-writing lately. Only about 500 new words down.
Hope to have a more substantial word count increase for you soon.