Friday, June 30, 2006

Townie funeral etiquette

Oh, don't be offended by the title, I was born a townie and my mom is a born and bred townie but since my formative years were around the bay (and my accent reflects that) I will always be a bayman. Anyway, I am just wondering what is the etiquette for a funeral procession in town. I met a long funeral procession yesterday in Topsail and the person in front of me slowed down so I went to pull over but everyone passed me. Then I started to drive slowly past the funeral but the person behind me stayed so tight behind me, I think he could see what was in my trunk. I have met funeral processions in St. John's too and have always been at a loss what to do. I come from a small community and we pulled off the road when a funeral procession was on the road (either side) as a sign of respect. Easy to do in a place with around 300 people in it. Funerals are not a daily occurrence there. So when I came back into St. John's, I wasn't sure what to do when I met a funeral procession. From the actions of others, I gather we do nothing but I've always felt uncomfortable about it and now is my chance to put it out to you.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Da Vinci Code

I went to see the Da Vinci Code last night. It lived down to its reviews. I mean, it wasn't the worst movie I ever saw, not even close. It was just that the dialogue was awful, as it was in the book, and I don't think even Tom Hanks could pull it off. At times it seemed that he wasn't even trying. And the directing was equally bad. Overdramatic with lots of close-ups of Tom Hanks who was supposed to be looking either scared (claustrophobic) or in deep thought. These two were distinguished by sweat on Hanks' brow for the fear part and squinting and brow furrowing for the thinking. It was like Ron Howard just spent his day saying (to Hanks) "okay, now squint here, you know, like you're thinking hard trying to figure something out. Oh, and furrow your brow." and "Tom, Tom, that was great old buddy but can we just do it one more time with more squinting. I think we need more squinting". The whole thing seemed very amateurish, from the writing to the directing to the acting. This is very surprising considering the track records of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.

Dan Brown's writing was never good (I've read two of his books in spite of that) but he doesn't have to write well because the storylines are great. He writes mysteries of religious history and for a Religious Studies major who is fascinated by religious history, like me, they are a great yarn. Obviously millions of others thought the same about the Da Vinci Code book. But for the movie, it is just too much information to pack into a movie and much of the 2.5 hours in the theatre felt like one long RS lecture, albeit one packed with generalizations and iffy theories. As much as I enjoyed that, hey I've paid a lot more for RS lectures at MUN, it wasn't enough to stop me rolling my eyes several times at some of the lines that thunked. The ending was anticlimactic as the whole movie dragged out with lots of historical theories, codes, and practically a PowerPoint presentation on the Last Supper and Mary Magdalene, then the payoff takes about ten minutes and we're left wondering why we went through all this. It was like you watched a chef cook a big, elaborate meal for a couple of hours then he said, "here, have a cracker".

BTW, if you liked the book, check out Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. They are the guys who sued Dan Brown for stealing their ideas. I read the book many years ago and as soon as I started to read the Da Vinci Code, I thought that it all seemed too much like their book (the courts, however, disagreed and rejected the plagiarism claims). If you'd like to read about the theories without all the melodrama, then pick this one up.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Favourite Character in NL Writing

You still have a couple of weeks plus, to get in your vote for your favourite character in NL writing in Paul Butler's poll at his Word from the Edge forum. "Any medium for fiction--novel, short fiction, stage, radio, film--is included." Votes so far have been for:

  • Sheilagh Fielding from Wayne Johnston's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (my choice)
  • David Purcell from Rare Birds by Ed Riche
  • Saul Stone from House of Hate by Percy Janes
  • Gordon Pinsent's "The Rowdyman"
  • Keith Kavanagh from Down to the Dirt by Joel Hynes
  • Moranna MacKenzie from An Audience of Chairs by Joan Clark
  • Sylvanus from Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • Bobby O' Malley from The Story of Bobby O'Malley by Wayne Johnston
  • Ray Guy's Sylvester Codpiece Sr

So go to the forum and cast your vote (oh and put it in a comment here too so we can know who you're voting for).

**Updated to say: you don't need to register in order to post (I know--I administer the forum and delete much spam every day).

Friday, June 23, 2006

Scope: New weekly newspaper

Looks like St. John's is going to get another weekly newspaper, the Scope. This one calls itself an alternative weekly similar to Toronto's Now Magazine and the Montreal Mirror. It is going to focus on "local arts, culture, and current affairs in the St. John's region". I look forward to checking this one out. Anything that lets me know more about what is going on around here is a good thing and I wish Elling Lien and his staff all the best in this endeavour. Hopefully, if it starts to do well, it will expand to include more about what is going on past the overpass.

The Ex/

Not sure how long this will be up there but right now, if you visit the online edition of the Ex/press, and scroll right to the bottom, you'll see a little article about the release of this much is true.

Note: The site is replaced daily with new news so this is no longer available.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Dirty Pictures

Anne Budgell of CBC Radio's Radio Noon has set about an effort to make us realize what a dump we are making out of our province. Radio Noon is accepting photos of litter and posting them on their website. The pictures cannot help but make you sad about how people ignore this province's beauty and carelessly toss things onto the land and into the sea. Well, generally "carelessly toss" things; someone obviously went through a lot of trouble to dump a car wreck onto a beach, as shown by a picture sent in by Alison Dyer. People are encouraged to take pictures and send them along to Radio Noon, all in an effort to get us to clean up our act. Bravo!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Little things I love

Christopher has a list of little things he loves and has asked for some from others. His list it great. Here is mine:

From the Simpsons episode where Homer's house is run by a computer much like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey: " Mmmm, unexplained bacon".

The opening bass riff in Heart's Baraccuda (I saw them at Paradise Rocks a few years ago and in the instant they started this riff, the sky opened up and poured--a really warm rain.It was a brilliant moment).

From Seinfled:
Elaine: "I've yadda yadda'd over sex before. I met this lawyer, we went out, I had the lobster bisque. We went back to my place, yadda yadda yadda, I never saw him again."
Jerry: "You yadda yadda'd over the best part."
Elaine (with a brilliant smarmy look):"No I didn't. I mentioned the bisque."

The slight sound of an inhale at the very beginning of "Long Day" by Matchbox 20.

The use of my favourite word "nonchalant" in the second line of the second verse of Paul Carrack's "When You Walk in the Room".

The amazing one word sentence in Wally Lamb's book, She's Come Undone:

The line at the end of the movie "Sleeping with the Enemy" said by Julia Roberts: "come quickly...I've just shot an intruder.”

Speaking of Julia, the line from Steel Magnolias from Olympia Dukakis that had me laughing out loud while tears were still streaming down my face from one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in any movie (IMHO):"Hit this! Go ahead M'Lynn, slap her! "

Speaking of Steel Magnolias:
Clairee: "I've just been to the dedication of the new children's park."
Truvy: "Yeah, how did that go?"
Clairee: "Janice Van Meter got hit with a baseball. It was fabulous."
Truvy: "Was she hurt?"
Clairee: "I doubt it. She got hit in the head."

Okay, this is addictive. I must stop now. Anyone else want to try?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Codco DVD Petition

Just wanted to remind everyone about the Codco DVD petition RJ has created. RJ has talked about it on the radio (national and local). Mack Furlong on CBC Radio's Weekend Arts Magazine has a Codco DVD update every weekend. The numbers are up to 1431 which is great but more is always good. So if you've been putting it off or waiting to sign, sign now, do not pass go (or divert to any other blogs), go directly to the petition and sign!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Getting the clay on the table

It doesn't really matter if you outline your stories, write every day or only when the muse calls to you. What really matters is that you get the clay on the table. A sculptor doesn't try to place his clay on the table in such a way that it looks great as soon as he has all the clay there. No, he plonks it down without caring much how it looks at that time. Only when the clay is on the table does he start to mold it and shape it, making that ugly lump into something beautiful. A writer should feel the same way.

You can't edit a blank page so you have to get your words out and then you can fix them up. As Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, you have to give yourself permission to write shitty first drafts (if you only buy one book about writing, I recommend Bird by Bird be the one). Don't worry about anything at this stage in the process. Just get it out. Punctuation, spelling, word choice, phrasing, even plot can be changed later. That's the shaping part. First you have to get the words down on the paper.

When you're getting that clay out, don't listen to the editor in your head, don't wonder what your aunt or your ex-boyfriend will think of this if it gets published. Don't even think of publication. That stifles you and makes you nervous. Don't let anything stop the flow of words and ideas onto your page.

My first drafts are usually full of this: [?]. A question mark in brackets follows anything I'm not sure of. Inside the bracket marks I will also put whatever I need to change/research/double-check later. I don't stop the flow to find out what the name of the character I introduced in the first chapter was, I just put [?that character who hit his mom?] there instead. If I use the same word four times in a paragraph or use a word or phrase I think sounds lame I'll write or type [?better word?] after it. If you wait to find the perfect word, those other words after it might not come out the same.

Lots of people say they want to write a book. I think many of them probably can. The thing that stops them from doing it is the idea that the writing has to be perfect. It doesn't. But it does have to be written or typed or recorded or whatever your method of writing is. So turn off the editor in your head, let yourself write a shitty first draft and get the clay on the table. It will work. Of course, that means that you will eventually have to get to the part of writing I hate, the editing part. But don't worry about that now. Just write and enjoy the freedom of not having to get everything perfect as you create.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

This much is really true

Since I was a little girl of about seven, I think, I wanted to have a book published. I wanted one that I wrote with my name on it. I wanted to touch it, smell it, and see it. Well, yesterday I did just that. I got a call yesterday afternoon that my book was back from the printers. The amazing Kim at Jesperson Publishing actually drove to my husband's work to drop off my copies so I could get them ASAP. I think she was almost as excited about it as I was. Then I opened up the package and there it was: real, three-dimensional, a book with my name on it. When I opened it up, there were the words I had written and rewritten, looked at and edited so many times that I could not stand to look at them anymore but they no longer looked like those words because they were there in a real book, not on printed out copy after copy of my manuscript.

And it looked so fantastic! So much better than I had ever imagined. Vibrant colours and an eye-catching cover photo, raised title letters and a raised pink envelope on the back cover to set it all off. Rhonda at Jesperson really did a brilliant job of laying out the cover and the print. It was almost too much to take in. Hubby took a picture of me opening the books up and one of me holding the first copy I touched. I'd show you, I really would, but husband, while taking the picture, failed to say "Tina dear, please don't smile quite so much and arch your eyebrows that way. And take your hair out of your eyes. You really do look quite insane, more like you're holding the head of a recently slaughtered archenemy than your book."

So the book is back from the printers and is at Jesperson's office. They will be disbursing it to Chapters and other local bookstores very soon but you can contact them to get it directly from them, if you'd like to get it sooner. Helmut, yours should get to you soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Losses and gains

There is something strangely reassuring about the fact that this evening, after a funeral this morning for a wonderful friend of mine that left this world way too soon, I have a baby shower to attend. The world turns round and round and the cycle continues but I will miss you, Bob. They don't make them better than you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Web spinning

I have updated my web page to more reflect my writing and me than just my web design (and include an excerpt from the book). It is an uncomfortable thing for me, to be honest, to be all "me, me, me". Anyone who knows me knows it's usually about everyone else but there it is, you have to play the game if you want people to read the book. Plus, I tried to make the website something I would like if I was a reader (which I am, of course, a voracious one). I like to know as much about a writer as possible and read lots of books about writers, their habits, how they come up with their ideas, etc. That is what I want to include in this blog too.

And the last few days have been interesting on the blog front too. Both RJ and Helmut were kind enough to talk about my blog and my book on their blogs and I think Helmut became the first person to order my book. That has been both very exciting and slightly scary since, as I said, I'm not too comfortable with the focus on me. It also means people will soon be reading the book and that is a bit scary too. Will people like it? Hate it? Or even worse, I think, feel nothing about it? Of course, the answer is all of them. Everyone is different with different tastes, likes and dislikes so the chances of everyone liking a book are zero. Just go to Amazon or Chapters and check out reviews of very popular books and you'll find people who thought it was the best book ever and others who thought it wasn't fit to read. I already got what I think is the best review I could get about my book from one of my friends, a reader of my manuscript, who told me "I cannot wait to share this book". That's all I could ever ask for.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Morning After Dog Meat BBQ

(There is a little known law of nature that should a mother, who has to get up with her child, go out one night with her friends, say to see an "underground punk band" at a local bar, and should that mother not get to sleep until 2:00 in the morning, said child will wake unusually early later that morning. The child will not be placated with toys and will want to get out of bed NOW. Explanations like "Mommy needs her sleep" will not help.)

So, Dog Meat BBQ. I went to see them at Roxxy's. First of all, let me tell you that the name of the anti-christ was revealed and it is Bert Reynolds. I know, I know, you were thinking George Dubya. The method of revelation was a bit disappointing since it consisted of each of the audience members voting for who they thought was the anti-christ, placing our votes in a plastic Value Village shopping bag and awaiting as a random piece of paper was drawn from the bag and the announcement was made. Still, there was no one disagreeing with the possibility of Bert's anti-christ status.

Dog Meat BBQ were, themselves, fun. I don't know how else to describe them. They are very different, for sure. Lyrics full of humour, angst and satire; brilliant arrangements with a beat that made it impossible for me to sit still. The band has a bit of a cult following (my friends included) and these people know at the first notes or words of a song, what's coming and get very excited. Some songs, such as "Lunar Detox", "Swing Low, Big Paddy Wagon", and "I Hate My Job" ("I hate my job, I hate my job, I hate my fucking job" with an excellent beat-how can you not like that?) cause a frenzy when they begin. People love these guys. I'm not sure I would listen to a CD of them around my house (although there were some tunes that I could definitely hear over and over again), but these guys live are brilliant and are totally having a blast, bringing their audience along for the ride and sweeping them up in the pure enjoyment of it all. The band's enthusiasm for their music is what sucks you in. My friends told me that the arrangements differ a lot and that is genius too, taking songs and playing them several different ways so you never know what you're getting each time you go to hear them. One particularly enjoyable song, with much chatter ensuing after it ended, had my friend Ken lean over and tell me that it had been very different than the way they usually play it. I was like a visitor in a different land, having people who knew the culture explain these things to me.

So, I liked them and I will definitely go see them again. I'm joining the cult of Dog Meat BBQ.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dog Meat BBQ

Some friends are going to see local punk band, Dog Meat BBQ tonight and have asked me to come along. I have listened to them go on and on about this band for years but they often seem to play on long weekends and I am usually around the bay then. Also particularly interesting tonight is that the band intends to, on this the day of the mark of the beast, reveal the true identity of the anti-christ. I mean, who wouldn't find that interesting? I think they are playing at Roxy's but am not sure. So, I may go, if for no other reason than to find out the beast's identity. I'll tell you tomorrow if I go (or when I find out from my friends). In the meantime, hit the link up top and see if they interest you. You can find samples of their music on the page (although it hasn't been updated in years).