Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shaye reality show

Shaye, the pop trio made up of Tara MacLean and Newfoundland and Labrador's own Damhnait Doyle and Kim Stockwood, will have their own reality show airing on CHTV later this year. I heard Kim Stockwood tell CBC Radio's Jeff Gilhooly this morning that cameras have been following the group around for six months, showing how they juggle motherhood, family, friends and music. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this in the months to come but I think it sounds interesting. I bet the reality show will show us how unglamorous the life really is, like the time Damhnait tells that the ladies were feeling pretty good about themselves on a visit to the Humber Valley Resort when, as Damhnait tells it: "just as life planned it we pulled up to the theatre and through the poring rain we read the sign welcoming the province’s own “Shayne” (no permalink to the diary entry I quote but it is Sunday, October 22, 2006). I think it is the ability of the members of Shaye to be totally honest about the realities of public life that will make this show a "real" reality show for a change.

Shaye's next CD, Lake of Fire will be released on February 6, as a physical entity although you can buy it now at iTunes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

WANL reading in Gander

WANL is having a free reading in Gander. The time is 7pm on Wednesday, Jan 31. The place is the Atlantic Room, Irving West Hotel and that is special to me because the Irving West Hotel is named after my Great-uncle Irving, a businessman from Aspen Cove who was so admired by businessman Harry Steele, that when Mr. Steele bought the hotel in Gander, he named it after Uncle Irving. Uncle Irving has since passed away but the Irving West Hotel and his picture in the lobby remains. So, if you go to the reading, think about that as you go in and look for his picture. A picture of him (with me) is on the wall behind me as I type this.

But, I digress (I digress a lot, hey?) The WANL reading features local writers Isabel Blackmore, Arch Bonnell, Michael Cahoon, Kathy Connors, Rod Golf, Kathleen Hogan, Norah Martin, Philip Patey, Margaret Penton, Dave Shaw, Dave Snow, and Eric West.

Like I said, it is free and everyone is welcome to the exciting evening of readings by new and established local writers. For more information contact WANL at 709-739-5215 or e-mail

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy

If you love British comedy, you probably already know who Dawn French is. One half of the French and Saunders television show (where the sketch that launched AbFab came from and one of the funniest spoof shows ever), Dawn French is a hilarious talent. Youtube is great for many things and comedy fans are lucky to have the series Dawn French's Girls Who Do Comedy on YouTube. In the show, French interviews a wide array of talented women in comedy. Included are some of my favourites like Julie Walters (who was brilliant in Driving Lessons, recently shown at the MUN Cinema Series), the outrageous Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Kathy & Mo (Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney), Tracy Ullman, Jo Brand, and Jennifer Saunders. French gives a lot of insights into her own comedy as well. Thanks to YouTube, those of us across the pond can now see this great three-part series.

The whole lineup of female comics interviewed includes: Morwenna Banks, Sandra Bernhardt, Jo Brand, Eleanor Bron, Kathy Burke, Margaret Cho, Denise Coffey, Phyllis Diller, Jenny Eclair, Mo Gaffney, Mel Giedroyc, Whoopi Goldberg, Sheila Hancock, Helen Lederer, Miriam Margolyes, Penny Marshall, Kathy Najimy, Sue Perkins, Miss Piggy, Joan Rivers, Rita Rudner, Jennifer Saunders, Sarah Silverman, Linda Smith, Laura Solon, Jessica Stevenson, Meera Syal, Wanda Sykes, Lisa Tarbuck, Catherine Tate, Tracey Ullman, Julie Walters, Ruby Wax, Victoria Wood and Gina Yashere.

I have included the links for each of the online episodes below or, if I've screwed that up somehow, you can just search YouTube.

Episode 1 (1 of 3)
Episode 1 (2 of 3)
Episode 1 (3 of 3)

Episode 2 (1 of 3)
Episode 2 (2 of 3)
Episode 2 (3 of 3)

Episode 3 (1 of 3)
Episode 3 (2 of 3)
Episode 3 (3 of 3)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

Remember a while back when I told you about Aweberg, a film about a guy who who went iceberg climbing in Makkovik, Labrador? Well, you can see that film this weekend in St. John's and a bunch of other great short films too at the local presentation of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. It takes place this weekend on Saturday, January 28th and Sunday, January 28th. Doors open at 6:30pm and the show begins at 7:00pm. You can see films about snowboarding; ice climbing; cycling 8000 kilometers across Asia; disabled veterans, severely injured during the war in Iraq, travelling to the Rocky Mountains to participate in an adaptive winter sports program, as well as many more films. Tickets are available at Bennington Gate (Churchill Square), Free Ride Mountain Sports (Water St.), and Wallnuts Climbing Gym (Old Pennywell Rd.) or at the door (2nd floor of MUN's Inco Innovation Centre). But be warned, the organizers of this festival are friends of mine and they tell me that tickets for Saturday night are going fast so don't put off buying them for too long.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Poetry in the library

Every term, ten poems are displayed throughout Memorial University of Newfoundland's Queen Elizabeth II Library and also on their website. The poems for Winter 2007 are on display now and include works from the first poet laureate for St. John's Agnes Walsh, recent writer-in-residence at MUN, Don McKay, Shoshanna Wingate, Susan Ingersoll, and Wade Kearley.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Postpartum depression on Scrubs

Scrubs is one of my favourite shows on TV and one of the only comedies ever that I can guarantee I will have at least two or three out loud laughs (usually more) during each episode . This episode had me in tears in more way than one, having experienced postpartum depression myself (although I too called it "the weepies"). I was literally laughing and crying at the same time while watching it. It also contains the single best line about Tom Cruise I have heard since South Park's infamous Scientology episode.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Farewell Freestyle

Well, it looks like Freestyle, CBC Radio One's quirky pop culture show is being replaced by a new arts magazine hosted by uber-cool CBC personality Jian Ghomeshi. I'll be honest here, I didn't like Freestyle when it first came along and bumped the Roundup off the air. It was so scripted and phony and quite often silly. The truth is that maybe no show can make me 100% happy in that slot because it is between Anne Budgell's Radio Noon and Ted Blades' On the Go, both local programs and I love the local CBC programming.

Allow me to digress for a moment. I remember how my father always listened to CBC Radio. I hated getting in the car after he'd driven it because the radio would be tuned to CBC and I had to quickly change to another station for fear I would hear too much and fall asleep before I could get some Joan Jett and the Blackhearts coming through the speakers. I thought Dad's listening habits were unbelievably boring (sorry, Dad but you know this and I am getting to the part where I agree with you soon). Then my son came along three years ago and I knew I did not want him exposed to television all day long (my own previous habit had been to have the telly on no matter if I was watching it or not). So I started listening to radio in the house and after listening to the same ten songs over and over and over on FM, I turned the dial to AM and somehow to CBC Radio. This was around the time that I was coming out of the writing closet and thinking about trying to get published, while my friend Kathy was exposing me to theatre and other things in the local arts scene. The local shows filled me in on that same arts scene and on NL writers and political goings on. They hooked me. Soon, I had CBC Radio on most of the day. I even listened to the gardening Crosstalk on Radio Noon even though I don't garden, with the hope I would hear some advice on how to get rid of the earrwigs I hate so much, or get some tips on lawn care for hubby.

It was the local shows that interested me the most and that is still true, but I find myself listening to more and more of the other CBC programming as well. I tell my son that one day he will think his mommy's listening habits are horribly boring and that I won't be able to persuade him any differently until he is mature enough to see how great knowing more about his world can be (without even having to click a link). I accept that this will happen and I listen to the same ten songs on FM in the car so he can be exposed to things like Justin Timberlake's Sexy Back (which my son unfortunately loves) and so I can find new songs to add to the soundtracks of my writing. So Dad was way ahead of me and it only took me thirty-odd years to figure it out (see, Dad, told you I'd say you were right).

Back to Freestyle. As I said, I didn't like it at first. Then it started growing on me and they started to interview people like RJ about his Codco DVD petition (hey, why don't I have a Codco DVD yet?) and Craig about being a movie buff in Iqaluit. They talked about stuff you couldn't hear anywhere else and made great blog fodder (I got more than one blog post idea from Freestyle). I even started to like the hosts, in particluar Kelly Ryan, but then she left the show just before Christmas. And now we get the news that Freestyle will be no more. I'm okay with it and Ghomeshi's show could be even more interesting to me because it will be about the arts. But let's hope he includes stories about the arts east and west of Toronto. It will be interesting to see what this new show will be like. For now, farewell Freestyle and thanks for all the weird and wonderful things I only heard about from your show.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Don't read things to me before I have had my first cup of coffee

If you would like to spend a Sunday morning, as I did this morning, listening to your spouse read things from a web page he/she stumbled upon, while laughing after each line, then refer your spouse to Brian Taylor's Fascinating Facts, Trivia, Interesting Thoughts.

*Warning, if you are reading such things out loud and laughing, and the spouse who has to listen to it has not had her/his coffee and is not in a very good mood on such a Sunday morning, she/he may growl at you and roll her/his eyes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The cover that never was

Somewhere around November, 2005, my publisher wanted to add my book to an international rights calendar and had to do a quick mock-up of the cover and a blurb for the book. I knew nothing about this until I set up my web page then googled my name to see if the web page came up in the results. Lo and behold, there was the cover and the listing in the online catalogue, complete with the original title. I immediately contacted the publisher who gave me the explanation. For a few moments, I thought the book had been released without my knowing it. Anyway, here it is, the cover that never was.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Weather Bonk

Want a combo of weather forecast, current weather conditions, webcams, google maps and satellite images a la google earth, all in one page? Do I hear a hell, yes? Well, click on over to Weather Bonk and enjoy. This site is becoming one of my favourite links, despite the fact that the weather of late around here is summed up in one word: COLD.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday morning delight

What a fantastic way to start a Monday morning.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Shawn Majumder on 24

I haven't watched the television show 24 since season two. Not that I don't like it, just that it involves such a commitment. If you miss an episode, you can get lost. So, I just let it slide. But I will be watching tonight because our own Shawn Majumder will be on the show this season. He will show up in tomorrow night's airing of hours 3 and 4. Yes, the great Newfoundland comedian, so often tapped to play Latino roles on the hilarious Cedric the Entertainer Presents a few years back, star of This Hour has 22 Minutes, will play a terrorist on Fox's 24. The show premieres tonight and tomorrow night on Fox. Only problem is that my Desperate Housewives comes on at the same time as 24 tonight, but that is what video tapes are for, right? Shawn Majumder is worth missing the housewives for anyway.

Friday, January 12, 2007

iPhone unveiled

What surfs the web, does email and text messaging, can show video, takes pictures, and plays music? Well, okay, lots of things, I guess, but iPhone does it prettier. Not just prettier but cooler and easier. I mean, this thing is gorgeous (this video is not the best but I love hearing the oohs and ahhs from the audience--you can get the official Apple video of the keynote speech here ). Steve Jobs unveiled the new iPhone at a huge launch this week and it is the talk of the tech world. The big differences between iPhone and other devices that can do similar things are the wide screen, touchscreen navigation and input, and oh, yeah, the price. You'll spend $499 (USD) for a 4 GB version and $599 (USD) for an 8 GB version. It also has room for a SIM card so you can store more. There are some downsides and potential problems with the iPhone though. All may not be as rosy as Steve Jobs let on in his keynote address at the launch.

Let's start with the name. iPhone is actually a VoIP device launched recently by Cisco. Cisco is suing Apple for Trademark Infringement so we'll see where that goes.

Then there is availablity. When the iPhone was launched, it was not to tell you that this thing is here now, just that it will be here sometime. Tech guru and CBC technology columnist, Tod Mafin, points out that the iPhone will not be available in the US until June while Europe won't get it until a year from now. Who knows when Canada will get it.

As mentioned before, there is the price. Of course, die-hard geeks will jump onto this bandwagon as soon as the product becomes available, but it is quite pricey (T-Mobile in the States is currently selling the Blackberry between $99 and $249 US). Many people will probably wait until the price goes down to buy Apple's iPhone and to see if there are any problems to be ironed out.

I for one, will be looking to see if the product lasts or will it have the same kinds of problems as the iPod with hard drive failures, batteries that seem to die shortly after the warranty is up and cracked screens. See, the screen is the cool thing about the iPhone but since Apple admitted to the problem with the Nano screen and since there are plenty of other people who have found their iPod screens cracked, I would be concerned about paying a huge amount of money for what is basically one big screen. It is supposed to be a phone and you should be able to cart it around without fear that the screen will break under regular use. A new industry has sprung up in making protective devices for iPods but that won't be so easy to do with something that is all screen, a screen that needs to be touched in order to navigate or to enter text. So, I'll be waiting to see what happens with those potential problems before I will purchase the iPhone. Oh, and some lottery winnings so I can afford it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie gets record ratings

As I previously discussed, Little Mosque on the Prairie debuted this week on CBC. It got record ratings so CBC must be pleased. I found it funny, even laughed out loud a couple of times, but some things fell a little flat for me (the overacting local who was terrified when he stumbled on a prayer meeting and quickly dialled a terrorist hot line and was put on hold, for instance). I find it hard to base my opinions about any show on the pilot as there are so many things to introduce in that one half hour. All in all, I give it a thumbs up.

There were moments that seemed uniquely Canadian, like the reference to sending a potential terrorist to Syria (which I assumed was a reference to Maher Arar's horrific experience), but much of the show could probably translate to the US and other markets, which the CBC must be considering. There was even a blowhard, right-wing radio talkshow host, a la Rush Limbaugh to show us how inane being close-minded can be.

I have to say that there were parts where I could see myself doing something like was portrayed in the show. When the woman in the airport overhears the Muslim man on the phone using (in this case, perfectly innoncent) words like bombs and blowing away, I could see myself hearing that and being suspicious. I think my ears would perk up. While I probably would not report it to the authorities, I would notice it and maybe be a little nervous if I got on the plane with him. I think the media has taught us to be afraid and Little Mosque on the Prarie also showed (in maybe a little over-the-top way) how the media can fan the flames of fear amongst the public. So, the show made me laugh a couple of times but also made me look at my own preconceptions. I consider that a good half an hour and I will watch it again.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie

So tonight I will be watching a new CBC show you have probably heard about called Little Mosque on the Prairie. The previews look funny but I hope it is not like a lot of previews that show you all the good parts of a television show or movie and then when you see it, there's a huge letdown because you have already seen the best parts.

This show is notable because it is about "a small Muslim community living side by side with the residents of a little prairie town"; it deals with stereotypes and prejudices on both sides, with humour; and it is getting huge buzz from around the world. Hollywood is taking note. News outlets all over the world from New York to Australia are talking about this CBC production. The crowd from Paula Zahn's show on CNN even visited the set of the show.

People are interested in seeing the interaction of cultures portrayed as not just something that is funny but maybe as something we can learn a bit about as well. Nothing is better than satire for showing how silly prejudice and preconception are and there is probably good reason that the groundbreaking All in the Family is being mentioned in reference to Little Mosque on the Prarie. Big shoes for the CBC sitcom to fill but, like All in the Family, Little Mosque on the Prarie (seems to be) about being able to laugh at our differences and our incorrect assumptions while making us realize that we are more alike than we a different. If the show can do that, and make me laugh, then bravo indeed. The big question, though, is will people be offended or amused? In this day of political correctness and rioting over cartoons, one can never be sure which way it will go.I'm interested in finding out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

No more web design

It never fails. I tell hubby on New Year's Day that I have decided to give up the web design "business" and in the next few days receive multiple requests to design web pages, including from Michigan. Those silly gods of irony. (I am hereby declaring publicly that I will not accept any large offers from international publishers who want to publish this much is true in their country , I will accept no awards from any short fiction contests I enter, and will not be accepting any lottery money or dream homes that I may win).

I have declined the new business and taken down the web design portion of my web page. The reasons are many. First of all, was that I was getting no new business (ha). Then there is the fact that I have freelance work coming my way in technical writing and quality control. I also received a grant back in November to work on my next novel so that has to be a priority. Also, I am still procrastinating editing the next novel to be submitted to my publisher. All this plus the job of mother keeps me quite busy. Probably the biggest reason, though is that what I charge is just not worth the effort I put into it. When I started it, it was helpful to have the bit of extra money but I see now that it is not really worth it, especially if it gets in the way of the other things I am doing (for more money). I will finish a website I am designing for Michelle Butler Hallett, author of The shadow side of grace, and do her website maintenance but that is it. At least that is the plan. Never say never, right?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Those strident women

The monthly meeting of the strident women went off well today except that we missed Christine who is sick. Not the same without her but we managed to have a good time, starting at a low boil talking about weddings and stuff, then working up to some really cool literary gossip and nitty-gritty. I suggested we get to the nitty-gritty from the get-go next time. Perhaps one of us can have a juicy story to tell that will get our collective ire up and running. We all waited to hear about Lori's maunscript submission until she told us that she sent it out into the world. She did a great job of describing how that felt. I have my fingers crossed. If her manuscript is even half as interesting as she made the story sound, then I have no doubt that I'll be able to report good news about it here soon.

Also, on the theme of weddings, hubby and I went to one last night. Congrats to Paula and Pat. It was a beautiful wedding, a delicious supper (made more so by catching up with old friends from out home), and a fun dance afterward. My son stayed at his aunt's house all night and she cooked brunch for us when we came to pick him up around noon. Good deal, hey? Keep the boy all night, let us sleep in until 10:00, and then cook us brunch. Thank you, Kem. All in all, a great weekend for me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Benefit for the Artist Emergency Fund

Due to high demand, the Artist Emergency Fund, administered through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, is short of funds. The Artist Emergency Fund is available to any worker in the arts and cultural community experiencing catastrophic circumstances. The Resource Centre for the Arts Theatre Company has generously offered to donate the proceeds of their preview of "In On It" by Daniel McIvor on January 31, 2006 to the Artist Emergency Fund. Please show your support by attending if you can.

IN ON IT - L.S.P.U. Hall - January 31st - February 3rd, 2007

“In On It” is a funny, touching, whirling narrative that interweaves three stories: you’ll see two lovers trying to make a relationship work. You will see a man who is terminally ill and making plans for the end. And you’ll witness two men trying to write a play. All three stories come together in this brilliant piece written by 2006 Governor General Award winner Daniel MacIvor (who recently staged his new play “How it Works” at the Magnetic North theatre festival in St. John’s) to create an immensely entertaining and poignant play that deals with trying to feel in control of a world where accidents happen. Where your relationships, your work, your play… your entire life can change suddenly, completely, and irrevocably. The play is directed by Mark White, and is performed by Jason Card and Philip Goodridge - two actors who will play 10 characters in the span of 75 minutes… characters that will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly let you "In On It" - on just how precious and fragile life can be.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker

I can't really call it an earworm because there is absolutely nothing annoying about it to me, nor a brain itch. It is just that I simply love the bloody song and go around singing it (complete with the strong objections from my son--"no, Mommy, no singing, Mommy"--with hands outstretched as if fending off some horrific monster) or listening to it over and over. It is "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in my Hair)" by Sandi Thom, from her album Smile...It Confuses People. You can find it on her website. The Audio section only gives you a one minute clip but if you click on Video you can hear (and see the video for) the whole song.

Most of the songs I listen to these days are the soundtracks to whatever I am writing but there is nothing in the in-progress novel to warrant including this one in the soundtrack. In fact, since the beat and simplicity of this song make me so darn happy, it could be a hindrance to the writing because the novel is a bit dark and the main character rather moody and unhappy and angry and grieving. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Before 2006

Before 2006:

All in all, it was a fabulous year with some sadness along the way. I can only hope that 2007 will be as wonderful (without the sadness) for everyone out there reading this. I don't think I can follow up this year with anything much better than last year, but I hope it is healthy and happy and that maybe there are some other fun and exciting firsts for me.

Happy New Year everyone!