October 31st, 2011

Deathmatch? On the Rose-coloured blog?

Yep, it’s true–I’ll be a part of the Literary Deathmatch this Sunday evening, along with co-combattents Dani Couture, Carolyn Black, and Grace O’Connell. If you’ve hung out with me at literary events before and witnessed my hugging patterns, you’re probably wondering when I stopped liking those people and, of course, I haven’t–they are all awesome humans and writers and I in no way wish to see them die.

But it’s going to be a fun night with cool people, and I heard rumours that at the last Toronto LDM, there was a cupcake-throwing contest, which sounds as hilarious as it does non-literary. Anyway, as usual, I got sucked in by my desire to do what the cool kids are doing.

If you aren’t familiar with LDM, here’s an amusing video–you see why see why I couldn’t say no? And here’s the link to Sunday’s event details if you’d like to come out and enjoy the silliness (or just try to eat a cupcake before they all get thrown).

March 30th, 2011

Yikes!

Two grade-eight girls on the bus, talking about what high schools they want to go to. Dressed in eighties reflux: side ponytails, jelly bracelets, identical pink plaid shirts hiked up and tied to reveal their bellies. Both with very loud voices, very severe speech impediments (of the sort probably caused by extreme orthodontia, but I couldn’t see for sure). Crowded bus, but very quiet. School names redacted because I have already forgotten them.

Girl #1: And if I don’t get into School A, I’m totally going to School B.
Girl #2: Yeah?
Girl #1: That’s an art school too.
Girl #2: Yeah?
Girl #1: Because with an art school, you get aaalllll white.
Girl #2: Yeah?
Girl #1: Yeah. I mean, I don’t mean to be racist, but like, black people? What can they do.
Girl #2: (pause, then very firmly) Sing. And dance and rap and stuff.

I doubt the conversation meant much; the girls had already classified most of their classmates as skanks, hos, bitches and sluts, all of whom are ugly. I can’t even imagine where in Toronto their current school might be, that they only know white people so far.

I also feel really bad for *really really* disliking those two girls. They’re just kids, right? I feel like I should have gone and sat with them and explained diversity or something. They probably would’ve stolen my purse if I’d even made eye-contact.

When I was getting off the bus, I walked down the aisle and realized everyone was listening, and that these two guys in their early 20s were adding little comments to the dialogue, making fun of them. I felt better that those dudes agreed with me, and then terrible that the girls were being mocked by exactly the demographic they most wanted to impress.

Life in the city is weird.

March 21st, 2011

A few random entertaining things

1) When I read a book, I read every word–the copyright page, the credits and acknowledgements, even a skim through the index to see how it’s done (professional interest; remember, I work in the word mines too). Sometimes I find cool stuff hiding in these odd spots, and feel it my duty to bring it to the attention of the non-obsessed. For instance, this, from the copyright page of Matthew J. Trafford’s The Divinity Gene, which has cool stuff on pretty much every other page, too:

“These stories are works of fiction and as such do not purport to be factual or representative of reality. Where stories use the names of ‘real’ corporate, media, political, or historical figures, they do so to denote figures, images, and the stuff of collective dreams. They do not denote, or pretend to provide information about, actual 3-D persons, living, dead, or otherwise.”

The stuff of collective dreams–I love it!

2) Yesterday, driving in the car, Rebecca in the passenger seat, Mark driving. Please keep in mind that I’m still really sick, and pretty heavily drugged.

RR: What is a (reading with great difficulty of a billboard) “microcarbonated lager”?
MS: Microcarbonated lager? Search me.
RR: It was on the billboard.
(pause)
MS: Hey, what kind of beer did you buy?
RR: (struggling yet more with the pronounciation) Microcarbonated lager.
MS: No, you didn’t, because you just heard about it for the first time right now.
RR: Oh. (pause, then thoughtfully) I thought we were doing a little skit. (pause) You actually wanted to know what kind of beer I have in my fridge?
MS: Yes!
RR: (finally figures out what is going on, dissolves into laughter)
MS: And still I have no answer.

March 17th, 2011

Sick Daze

I stayed home sick on Monday, but attempted to go to work Tuesday with poor results. So here I am at home again, yesterday and today, in my yoga pants, surrounded by wadded up tissues and corn chip crumbs, moving boxes and my taxes. I do not like. Such a boring lifestyle causes me to dwell unduly on the small events of my day and, since those events are all I have, I share them with you:

Excursion of the day was to drug store to pick up new kind of cough syrup (mucus control–who says I don’t know how to party?) After purchasing it, I was so happy to be out in the world with fellow humans and desperate not to go home that I went out into the mall that the drug store is part of and sat on a bench to read an article about Mo Ibrahim. It was an a pretty good article. Then an old lady asked me for a dollar. In shame-faced honesty, I have to admit that I don’t usually give when asked. I have a hard time finding anything in my bag, and things can go *really* badly if you say “sure” and then realize you don’t have any change on you. I have been yelled at and chased, and while I know that most panhandlers really just want a little help, I often get nervous and say no. However, this lady was teeny and gentle looking, so I found my wallet, and gave her the loony.

She thanked me and joined me on my bench. Then she asked me if I like tunafish, and I said yes (one of my favourite canned foods, actually), which was a mistake because she said she would give me some. I said, of course, that that wouldn’t be necessary, but she insisted on giving me two cans of tuna wrapped in a Canadian Tire flier. I think they were probably worth more than a dollar. She also told me a receipe for tuna salad that would be great if I liked olives. Then I started coughing again and she told me to drink some orange juice, patted me on the shoulder and left.

Also yesterday, and this is not a small event at all, YOSS went live. YOSS is the Year of the Short Story, and it’s going to be/already is great, as are the masterminds behind it (Sarah Selecky, Matthew Trafford, and Jessica Westhead, short-story wizards all). It’s a great time to read, reread, buy, order, talk about, review, celebrate and share short stories, and to remember why we love them. I am trying to celebrate by writing a new one, which hasn’t happened in a few weeks owing to various craziness, illness, the horrible horror that is moving (have you ever counted all your tank tops? yeah, no one should have to do that). Anyway, judging by the coherency level of this post, I probably have a fever and this story won’t go all that well, but let’s just see…for YOSS!

February 17th, 2011

Rose-coloured reviews a nice day (and the movie *Somewhere*)

After finishing a stressful project at work, I’m taking a few days off to rest, read, write, and bum around. It’s magically warm in the city right now, and I have a busy weekend ahead, so it’s been really nice to float around in my own happy cloud. I get sick of my own company though–I’m much less of a solitaire than writers are supposed to be. So midafternoon today I headed out to a Starbucks, hoping to write there and also eavesdrop on a few angst-ridden teens (yes, I timed my excursion to coincide with school getting out).

I was totally not in luck, winding up in a cafe filled with sullen old people (“You’re sitting in my seat. I left my things there!” pointing to a stir stick) and shrieking toddlers. I wound up between two fellow laptop jockeys, so had no choice but to work for a while. Then I lucked out when an old woman passing in the street glanced in the window, spotted the fellow beside me and came in (Toronto is far more like a small town than most people give it credit for). I think she was his mother, and they proceeded to get into an argument about whether he was doing enough to help his brother find an apartment. Then they looked at some places on Craigslist, but nothing was really resolved. Then she left, and we all got back to work.

Starbucks bonus–on my way out, I finally found a table of young teens and as I passed, one who was *maybe* 14 dropped her head into her hands and exclaimed, “Worst life *ever*!”

Then I did a little gift shopping for a friend, and went to have dinner in a food court. While I was eating my ginger chicken, a man and a woman approached me to ask if I would take their picture. There was nothing scenic about this underground food court (why, yes, I *am* happy with how I’m spending my vacation, thank you), so I guess they just wanted to be captured together. They both spoke imperfect English, but she was Asian and he maybe Middle Eastern. They were unhappy with the first shot, and really also the second though they were too embarrassed to ask me to take a third (I wouldn’t have minded). I thought they were a couple, but as they were walking a way, I heard her ask him for his email address. What was their story, I wonder.

Then I went to the bathroom, and as I entered a woman brushed past me on her way out. The woman behind her announced, “You have toilet paper on your shoe” in an Irish accent (ok, honestly, she could’ve been Australian or Maritime Canadian–I’m terrible with accents). The first woman did not stop and, slightly put out, the possibly Irish woman chased her into the hallway yelled, “YOU HAVE TOILET PAPER ON YOUR SHOE!” before coming back in to wash her hands. In this very same bathroom, I also witnessed a woman scrubbing her hands as if preparing to perform surgery, whilst singing a merry tune.

Then I grabbed some mango frozen yoghurt and went to the movies to see Somewhere. I’d read a review that said the film revisits director Sophia Coppola’s obsession with celebrity, but I always thought she was obsessed with people. Sure, Lost in Translation was about people touched by fame, but it was also about being stuck in your own stupid skin, which is what The Virgin Suicides was about (VS is also one of the few movies that comes close to being as enrapturing as the book on which it is based. Close.)

Anyway, stupid reviews aside, I knew I would like a quiet movie about a dad and his kid set in sunny LA, and I was right. This movie is a gentle confection, sweet not like sacchrine but like cherries. It’s about the theme mentioned above, but also about the simple solace of *doing things*–characters in this movie drive cars, ice skate, dance, play piano, play Wii and Guitar Hero, play ping-pong, cook, make masks, play guitar, and do a host of other things that require attention, often for minutes-long takes. It’s lovely to watch the characters shake off their misery (no one’s particularly happy here) and immerse themselves in the task at hand. This is also the first time I’ve ever seen video games portrayed in the movies as not the refuge of sullen dolts, but lots of fun. A milestone, I think.

The movie has no soundtrack until the 80-minute mark (I happened to glance at my watch), so we hear what the characters hear. They listen to music sometimes, whole songs even, but incidental noise looms really large, especially since there’s little dialogue. In the pole-dancing scenes, you hear the rub of flesh on pole, and in the Guitar Hero one, the click of keys.

Since the stars, Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning play it *way* understated, the cinemetography is the real star here, and the film is glorious to watch. All kinds of weird shot of models watching down the hall silhouette by the sun behind them, or the stars goofing about underwater. There was also a mysterious theme about plaster that I didn’t really get. Early in the movie, Dorff’s character Johnny breaks his wrist and spend most of the rest of the film with it in a cast, which he rips off towards the end–symbolism of butterfly emerging from chrysalis?? God, I hope not. Johnny also has a plaster cast made of his face for some movie special effects thing (never explained) and a cast of his hand made when he is welcomed to Milan (again, not really sure why). If anyone knows what the plaster theme meant, please let me know.

But really, who cares? This was such a quiet, gorgeous, incredibly sad film–this was the sort of film I would make if I could. I didn’t care too much for the epiphany at the end, but I suppose they had to give us something.

And then I trotted home, typed this up, and will write a few other little things, before cheerfully to bed. Tomorrow I’m trying a new ballet class!

February 1st, 2011

Very important question

I found a pack of gum sitting on a subway seat. No one was nearby. The pack was still in its original cellophane seal, seemingly untampered-with. It is a good kind of gum.

Can I chew it? Or is probably poison gum, part of some elaborate trap for naive young transit-takers?

November 28th, 2010

Teenage boy behind me on the bus, on cellphone

Hello.

(long silence)

Because it’s Sunday, retard.

(silence)

You thought it was Saturday? You’re kidding right? That’s so funny.

(mean cackling, followed by long silence)

So where did you go to the bathroom, then?
(silence)

The mall is closed but Zellers is open? That’s weird.

(silence)

The mall is closed because it’s Sunday night, remember?? Just wanted to mention to you, tomorrow is Monday, which will be followed by Tuesday…just tryin’ to help you out.

(silence)

You gotta stop eating paint chips, man.

(silence)

Wait, are you in the bathroom right now?

(silence)

That’s weird…(discussion of a hiphop concert that is boring and goes nowhere) Listen, why don’t you call me back when you get outta there? I just feel weird talkin’ to ya while you’re…yeah, ok, goodbye.

(sound of phone snapping shut, followed by more cackling)

October 18th, 2010

Dear Readers

I’ve gotten a couple really nice emails and blog comments of late, both about Rose-coloured and *Once* and I just wanted to say here that I appreciate it–it’s really generous to take time out of your day to tell a writer you like his or her work. (I especially want to say this to those whose contact info came up wonky, so I couldn’t send a personal note).

And to the three readers who arrived at this blog somehow by googling “film body massage,” I am so sorry for the disappointment.

October 12th, 2010

Do you ever get that feeling

…when you are driving or bussing or walking in the dark past a lit-up building, that there’s probably a person looking out each window? And that if you could get close enough and slow down enough and somehow make eye contact with all those people…it would matter somehow? The *how* I’m not sure of at all, but I always get that flash of sadness that I can’t do it.

September 29th, 2010

It’s the frosh questionnaire!

Do you remember when you started your first year of university, you had all these new friends you didn’t really know, plus you missed your friends from high school, plus you had your own computer for the first time ever (I was a special case of lame/inept, and had had to share my father’s *email address* until I moved out)? So when those inane “Getting to know you” questionnaires came into your inbox, it was actually pretty interesting, and lots of people actually did them.

And then they came around every fall, and it got less interesting–people’s favourite beverages didn’t change that much from year to year. And gradually people stopped responding, because they actually knew their friends better than some lame email forward could help them with.

Unless you are me, and you just started writing your own questionnaires. Cause I liked the idea of just being able to ask a bunch of random questions all in a row and get answers–if it were socially acceptable, that’s what I’d do at parties! So I did these all through uni, a new one each year, and actually far beyond that, though I’ve fallen off recently.

But this year, I am filled with frosh nostalgia and the desire to procrastinate, so here it is: RR’s 2010 Frosh Questionnaire! I’ve tried to make it a bit bookish, given the ostenisble nature of this blog. But it is the actual nature of these questionnaires to be pretty random, so…

In case you’ve never seen one of these before, there are no rules but guidelines are: cut’n’paste it onto your own blog, onto Facebook, in the comments section, or in an email. Delete my answers, put in your own. If you think a question is dumb, or prying, or just not applicable, delete it and put in your own question, then answer it. If you’ve known me a while, you might see a rerun question from an earlier version–some things never cease to be fascinating, plus even old friends evolve.

If you post this somewhere, let me know so I can come read and be fascinated by the minutiae of your life. Minutiae is what I love!

1. What did you do on your last birthday? Went to giant Catholic church in Montreal, wandered around, then swam in hotel swimming pool. In the evening, tried to eat in restaurant that seemed, judging by service, to be front for crack house. Abandoned ship after a hungry hungry hour to go to Porgugese chicken place. Put a birthday candle in chicken breast. Judged evening a success.

2. Name something awesome about you that you’ve never been able to market properly. I don’t get bored easily. I’m happy to eat the same thing every day for lunch, I love talking about the weather, and I can kill up to 30 minutes just looking at stuff in the drug store. I think this is a good quality to have, but I can’t think of a way to phrase it in a job interview or on a date.

3. What book do you have to resist trying to force other people to read? I’m currently reading Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting, and that will certainly go on the list. And a lot of lesser-known John Update stuff–especially the Bech books, which are justifiably famous on the internet, but in real life I’ve never met anyone who likes them.

4. How good a swimmer are you? Good enough not to drown, bad enough to occasionally drift out of my lane at the pool without noticing. And I can’t dive at all, which caused me to fail my red badge 4x, and then to drop out of swimming lessons entirely. But I actually do like to swim.

5. Ideal pet? Small orange cat. But I like most pets, really.

6. If you don’t have to compromise with other diners or pay for extra toppings, what goes on the pizza? Standard vegetarian–tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms–plus extra sauce. But I’m happy to pick off anything but olives or pineapple (the taste remains on the cheese with those)–pepperoni-lovers enjoy sitting next to me.

7. Can you, in your own estimation but also the viewpoint of the real world, sing? No. I can’t even stay on-key for *Happy Birthday.* I’ve only recently gotten self-conscious about this, though; I used to not care.

8. What are you wearing right now? Blue rosebud slippers from Chinatown, black yoga pants that I got for my 31st birthday, orange t-shirt that says “Aloha” on it that my friend J brought back from Aloha State Park in New York the summer I turned 13, navy blue hoodie my dad bought for my brother also somewhere in the early 90s. When my brother refused to wear it, it became mine.

9. When, in your opinion, is it appropriate to chew gum? Anytime one is not eating, singing, public-speaking or playing a wind instrument. Making out is open to debate with one’s partner.

10. What book did you read as a teen that made you realize how smart and misunderstood and *deep* you are? For sure The Bell Jar (and I had that black rose cover, too!) I actually still like that book, but also in that category was The Paper Grail. I’m not sure why I thought that, even if I didn’t understand *one word* of the book, if I finished it that made me smart.

11. What magazine would you never buy yourself but always sort of hope is in the stack at the doctor’s office? One of women’s ones that are printed on the cheaper newsprint and feature health scares, chocolate recipes, and diet tips.

12. Can you bake a pie? It was a point of pride for my mother that I learn how, so yes, technically I can, and have done so a number of times, always in company of talented bakers. I don’t like to flirt with pastry too much when alone, though–it frightens me.

13. Who lives next door to you? What is your relationship like? I used to have a friendly, slightly flirtatious relationship with my next-door neighbour, but since the onset of his paranoia, mainly I listen to him talk about how the other neighbours are out to get us both. Actually, he doesn’t talk to me as much now that he has that friend from SpyTech. I never spoke to any of the other neighbours. It’s a somewhat strange building.

14. What is the easiest way for you to learn a new skill? By someone telling me how to do it and possibly demonstrating, while I sit passively and take notes. Later, I will try it out on my own and practice until I get it. I am the person traditional schoolrooms were built for, but this actually applies to getting directions, cooking, assembling furniture–I like being told what to do.

15. What is that book you keep meaning to read and haven’t, and feel bad about every time it comes up in conversation? Oh, so many of these, but one is Consolation by Michael Redhill. But someone loaned it to me today, so I’m moving forward, at least a little.

16. What are you listening to right now Danny Michel.

17. Do you remember what you wore on the first day of high school? If so, what? If not, substitute some other important day when you remember what you wore. Faded blue-jean shorts and grey t-shirt with tiny flowers on it (from Northern Reflections, natch). I wanted to blend in with the lockers as much as possible. I was much shyer back then.

18. What are you doing tonight? Let’s go, Blue Jays!

19. What’s the last thing you ate? A whole bunch of grapes. They were about to go bad, so I had to eat them lest they go to waste.

20. Why did you do this questionnaire? Because I like to talk about myself, and as bait for other people to talk about themselves, which I also really like.

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