Friday, March 30, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Cover(s) Revealed

So the new book cover has been revealed for the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. At least, it's the cover we'll be getting in Canada. It is designed by British artist Jason Cockcroft. However, south of the border, Americans will get a different cover, designed by Mary GrandPre. This one shows Harry with his hand reaching upward and a wraparound featuring "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named". I like the U.S. cover better. There is also an adult edition cover (for those adults who are embarrassed to buy a kids' book (I am not--all mine have the original covers and I love them all)).

And if that is not enough variety in covers for you, Unconfirmed Sources has one that plays off on Daniel Radcliffe's recent, well-publicized, nude scenes in EQUUS

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Do Women writers lack imagination?

Well, well, well, some recent news out of the UK has set about a bit of a controversy. The UK has a special literary prize just for women called Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and it seem that the person in charge of choosing this year's winner, Muriel Gray, was a bit miffed with many of the submissions this year. Referring to the majority of entrants, she said "There were lots of books we rejected - about personal female issues, the loss of a child, the break-up of a marriage, thinly veiled autobiographical things of no consequence - because they weren't expansive enough,". She went on to say "They are writing small personal takes on what it's like to be a woman. They don't seem to be dreaming big dreams." and "We found too many lazy writers who think that it's enough just to chronicle something going on in their lives. It is mildly depressing".

I don't know the specifics of the books she is speaking about, and she has the right to her opinion. It must have been frustrating if she found this to be true time and time again. But I have to question what she is saying on a couple of levels. First of all, I think men are probably guilty of this too. I think writers write what they want to, what moves them. Lawyers write about stories concerning the law and cops about crime. If you think closer to home rather than expansive, then that is what you are going to write about. Sometimes stories that are precise and close and relatable can be the most powerful. And sometimes you'd like to get away from that. Either way, if an idea calls to you and wants to be written, if it grabs your interest and makes you want to know more, then you're going to write it. You write what intrigues you and makes you want to uncover the story inside. In these cases it is often the characters that make the story and not necessarily the plot.

Maybe it is the fact that women tend to be the domestic ones in the house. No matter how much a man takes part in the lives of his children, no matter how many soccer games he attends or times he helps get them to bed, it is often the mother who takes time off work to attend to a sick child, who takes them to birthday parties, who wrestles with guilt when she is at work and not with her children, and is the person a child runs to when he/she scrapes a knee. Not always true, I know, and I don't mean to say it is always true, just that in my experience and the experiences of my friends, this tends to be true (just as all books written by women do not focus on domestic issues). Is it any wonder then, that we turn to such themes to express ourselves?

I wonder how many genre novels the Orange Prize jury considered? Female writers of fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries or thrillers, certainly don't focus on domestic issues. Their canvasses, especially those of sci-fi and fantasy are often alternate worlds with great sweeping vistas. Gray herself is a horror writer.

And what books did make the longlist? Well, congratulations to Lisa Moore whose book Alligator is there. Definitely expansive and a prime example of how women don't always restrict themselves to "smaller" issues.

If nothing else, Gray's statements are creating discussion. My favourite is from 50 Books (scroll down to "Women's Books Are Too Trivial" to read it).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Movie theatre closing in Gander

The only movie theatre in Gander is closing. This makes me sad. I have little in the way of the buildings of my youth to hold onto. My elementary school is gone, my high school in Carmanville burned down a couple of years ago, my parents no longer live in the home I grew up in. Now the place we saw movies when I was a kid will be no more. And it's not like these days when a movie at a theatre is just one of the choices. No, when I was a kid, oh God, did I just do that? I just said when I was a kid. Imagine a weak voice saying "when I was your age, sonny..."

Anyway, back in the day, the movie theatre was the only visible source of entertainment other than the two channels we received on the TV (one in my case because the reception from the gigantic antenna on our roof could still only pick up one channel—CBC—think about it). No DVDs or VHS or cable TV or Internet or video-enabled iPods or text messaging or videogames (and you could buy a sodey pop, a bag of chips, a bar, and a small car for a penny and we washed our clothes on rocks in a river).

My most vivid memory of that movie theatre is when a bunch of us piled into Robert Goodyear's van and went to Gander to see E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. I was a mere infant, of course. I'll never forget the looks on the faces of the people in the mall parking lot as we piled out. If I recall correctly, there were 13 of us in that van, all smushed in for the hour it took to get from Aspen Cove/Ladle Cove to Gander.

Poltergeist made me scream in that theatre, but more so made my friend scream which caused us to jump every time she did. That girl could holler. So many nights we made the long drive so I could visit my boyfriend, now hubby, Vince, while he attended trade school in Gander. Me, my brother, and Vince's sister Kem. We lost the heater in the car one night and nearly froze getting back home, my brother all bundled up in the back of the car in a blanket while Kem and I kept putting our hands over the heater, hoping that we could make it work on will alone and saying "I think there's a bit of heat there now" until we finally admitted that wouldn't happen.

The time we went to see some other movie, I don't remember, that night Christina, Vince's niece, was born in the hospital in Gander. We squeezed Christina's dad Rick into an already overcrowded car so he could see his baby girl (is it any wonder I don't remember the movie with a night as special as that?). The time Vince and I went to a movie with Mom and Dad—Risky Business with Tom Cruise. Anyone remember the sex scene on the train with Rebecca De Mornay and Tom Cruise? Vince and I looking at each other out of the corners of our eyes, afraid to make direct eye contact, afraid to look at the screen, wanting the uncomfortable moment of watching this with my parents to be over.

I could go on and on. Yeah, it makes me really sorry to see that old theatre close.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'll just let them stay a little while

Remember how I decided I would let the characters in my novel in progress, tentatively titled A Few Kinds of Wrong, come visit for a literary booty call while I worked on Unnamed Fun Novel? Well yesterday I was having coffee with Trudy who unintentionally gave me permission to continue with something in Wrongs that I was unsure about and the characters started screaming for me to get back at it. They were relentless and I was not great to be around yesterday evening. My mind kept wanting to be there with them and not in the "real world". Finally I sat down with pen and paper and whispered that they could stay for a few minutes only and that once I wrote a bit of a scene and knew where it was going, then that would be it and they would have to go away again. But they stayed for hours and now this morning they are still there.

I explained to them that I cannot have a committed relationship at this time. I need to see other stories right now and have some fun. I know that the main character in Unnamed Fun Novel is not happy. I can picture her tapping her fingers on a table and rolling her eyes, saying "You cannot be serious. I'm here with all these exciting people and really interesting things going on. I mean I got shot, for God's sake. And you want to hang out with misery guts there and her crying and her 'poor me, poor me'." And I want to say "But BJ and Jennifer are having a really big fight now and I'm finding out a lot more about both of them so I just have to see it through and then I'll go back to you."

And I think I have figured out why the transitioning between novels has been so hard. Like I said before, I have never had this problem. I can, and have, worked on three different projects in one day, slipping in and out of each one with very little effort. But I think the problem here is one of tense. Wrongs is in the present tense and Unnamed Fun Novel is in the past tense. The characters, as this post proves, are alive and well and living inside my head. It's getting them down on paper in their respective tenses that is the problem. Part of me is tempted to see if Wrongs would be better in the past tense just to make the process easier and because the present tense is harder for me in general. But I know the present is the right one and that is not the answer, at least not right now, at least not at this point in the process. I'll just have to keep trying and let the work guide me.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Truly recycled paper

If you've been here before, you know how I love my pens and paper. I am obsessed with pens and paper brings me joy. A blank page is full of possibility (sometimes too much possibility and can be overwhelming). But I am not sure how I feel about Elephant Poo Poo Paper. No, this is not some clever name, this is a literal title because the paper is made of actual elephant poo. Rather, I should say, the paper is made of stuff they take out of elephant poo.

The makers of Elephant Poo Poo Paper gather up dried elephant dung from elephant conservation parks then bring it back to a factory where they rinse the poo off and keep the fibrous materials from the grasses, bamboo & fruits the elephants eat. The next step (and, in my opinion, the most important) is putting it in what they call "a giant pot of boiling water to ensure the fibers are super clean". If you're interested in the rest of the process you can find it in the section of their website called "Turning Poo Poo Into Paper". For me, the only relevant parts of the process are how they clean it up so I would want to touch it.

I don't know if I would want to touch. I'm sure it must be clean and I'm not saying that I won't perhaps purchase this sometime as a novelty item (my nephew would love it if I gave him paper made from elephant poo), but I don't know if I could ever write on it without thinking that it had been through the digestive system of an elephant. It is a true form of recycling and the makers tell us that a portion of their profits go to "meaningful elephant welfare and conservation efforts to assist the Asian elephant" so it seems to be a positive thing.

If you can get past the poo.

If you would like to purchase some of the products you can visit their Poo-tique On-Line Shop.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Thousand and One Words

As if his Product of Newfoundland (including Postcards from Newfoundland) and Walking on the Littoral Edge are not enough enjoyment to blog readers out there, Robert has created A Thousand and One Words.

People are encouraged to submit photos and to make comments on the submitted photos. The NL blogging community is no stranger to great photo blogs. NL photogs give us riches where this is concerned and I, for one, can't get enough of it. I love the photos. The thing about Robert's idea is that we get to see photos from a variety of people in one place, and we get to make comments of a word or two. He says it is not "a photo critique. It's an opportunity for fun and self expression." and encourages people to submit "a single word, sentence, poem, essay or, should you be so moved, even a novel inspired by the visual presented". So check it out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

There comes a time I can know too much

I like blogs. I like finding out what certain people think about politics or music or writing, what kinds of new things they find on the Internet that I may love or hate, something interesting in the news, or just something in a blogger's life. But I expect them to generally give me something at least conceivably interesting, or a post that I can appreciate how a family member might enjoy catching up on.

But there comes a time I can know too much and there comes a time one should ask the question: why would anyone else care? Some may disagree with me and for them, I will tell you about, the answer to the burning questions on everyone's mind: What am I eating for lunch? How many people are ahead of me in line at Starbucks? and how big was the pimple I just squeezed? is "A global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: What are you doing?" Literally, what are you doing at this moment? Like I would twitter that I am drinking a Tim Hortons medium with two cream while typing this blog post as my son naps and my dog licks himself. There, aren't you enlightened? Aren't you pleased that I told you that? Later, I could tell you what I am making for supper or that I have vacuumed the floor (if the day goes well, both of these chores will be done, if not, I'll have a dirty floor and a hungry kid). I mean I know blogs have made us fascinated with what goes on in the lives and minds of others but they are usually censored for some modicum of something interesting.

Now this scintillating info is not just available on the web. No, you can get and send your twitters via text messaging and instant messaging, although the twitterblog tells us that the IM is having troubles since it is so overloaded with twitterers. So, now instead of just having to send and receive text messages and phone calls, 24 hours a day, while in restaurants, classes, movie theatres, or just hanging around the coffee shop, cell phone addicts can now get dozens of twitters as well. So, if I am a twitterer (this is the correct term according to a list of twitter terms) and if we're having a coffee sometime, you'd have to excuse me for a moment so I could tell others that I am having a coffee with you. Arrrgh! My mind is going to explode. I weep for us all.

I am a geek. I love technology. I blog, have a web page, can text message when need be, drool over PDAs, take apart computers, beta test software, and have even written a couple of programs for PDAs. I went back to school so I could make technology my living. Maybe I am too old to appreciate it but dear God, isn't this twittering getting too much?

What am I doing now? I am banging my head on my desk and getting a headache.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

They keep calling me

I've said before that I keep a variety of writing projects on the go. It allows me to write me when the mood strikes, no matter what the mood. Because I received a project grant to write A Few Kinds of Wrong, I spent a winter of working on restricting myself to working on that one novel (interrupted only by editing another novel and writing a short story). So, I was looking forward to getting back to my other work, in particular, a fun book to write with a character who is so rich and fun and unpredictable that it's just a joy to spend time with her (and all the other characters in the book). This is quite a contrast from Wrongs which is darker and is about death and grieving, pain and healing. So after hanging out mired in the grief of one character for so long, it's no wonder that I wanted to get back to some fun stuff. I printed out the 120 pages I have already written in Unnamed Fun Novel (so much for the paperless society), enjoyed rereading it, know right where I want to go next, don't have a clue where to go after that but know, without a doubt, that I'll figure it out. I should be face and eyes back into this book by now.

But every time I start to write, the other characters from Wrongs call me. I've finished the first draft of Wrongs but there is much to be filled in, things to research, things to move around, and they want me to work at it. They come to me in dreams and most of all songs. I've switched the songs on my MP3 player from the soundtrack of Wrongs to that of Unnamed Fun Novel. I had to. The kind of slow, sticky, sad, music from the Wrongs soundtrack makes the character in Unnamed Fun Novel roll her eyes and huff off somewhere far away. But songs keep coming on the radio and television and movies that make me think of Wrongs. Scenes and conversations continue from characters I wish to let go of for a while, just to let them sit in a drawer so I can get distance before starting on the next draft. They should sit there quietly and wait for me. They're not and I don't know why.

Part of me wonders if it is because I have been exclusive with this novel. We have had a committed relationship instead of me just bouncing back and forth between books. And while I have liked and loved characters from my other books, I think the subject matter and tone of Wrongs, along with this commitment, have made me feel connected to it more than any other.

I know the solution to my problem. As always I have to write through it. I have to put my pen on the paper and find my way back to the characters in Unnamed Fun Novel. But I think I have to tell myself that when that other crowd calls out to me, I'll allow myself to visit them, to jot notes about them, hang out a little and say hello without getting too immersed. Like a literary booty call. At least until I find my way back to the other novel, at which time, I will be able to work on them both again.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Auctions to boggle your mind (and maybe turn your stomach)

It's hard to visit ebay or other auction sites, and not find something that makes you shake your head, either at how much money someone will spend for inane things or how many inane things are out there to sell. If you're not an ebayer, you can check out what I'm talking about at a bunch of websites including, but not limited to, Weird Auction and Disturbing Auctions.

A fine example that people will pay money for anything is this week's bid for one packet of Sweet and Sour Sauce. As of this writing, the bids are at $21.25 US. At the nineteenth bid the seller threw in "2 ketchup packets, and 1 straw, the winning bidder will now get 5 salt packets, 5 napkins, and 2 brand new Happy Meal Toys". How can one resist? Now, this kind of auction is obviously about the fun, but what of a handbag fashioned from an actual bull scrotum or this horrific clown lamp (well, any clown anywhere, anyhow is pretty horrific to me--there, you know of my fear of clowns--and there is plenty to be scared of here, here, here, and here). Maybe clowns don't do it for you, then you can have some revolting "wedding trolls" the perfect gift for that newly married couple you just have to send a passive-aggressive message to. Or, let's say you once had a premature baby, how could you pass up a memento preemie doll (awww, Mom and Dad you could have paid the reserve price of $239 US for this fun souvenir of those first terrifying moments of my life when you were waiting to see if your 3lb, 14 oz newborn would live or die).

As for me, I'm going to go to my fridge and get that baggie full of ketchup and sweet and sour packets and make some extra cash, maybe take a nice vacation. Aruba, here I come.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Vagina Monologues

No, it was not the hoohoo monologues, last night I saw The Vagina Monologues for the first time. It was spectacular. I was a bit iffy about going. I didn't know if a couple of hours of talking about vaginas would be entertaining. Boy, was it ever. I laughed and was moved and was very impressed with the four actresses who performed the show. Sheilagh Guy Murphy, Terri Andrews, Tessa Hutton Crosbie and Amy House seemed perfect for the task. They performed with zest and even though it was the Arts and Culture Centre with a big stage and large theatre, it seemed very cozy and like we were all part of this. Winks and nods and pointing and sometimes someone would break down laughing on stage or act particularly pleased with a reaction from the crowd and it was actually a very intimate evening.

This was an estrogen laden event. My friends and I suggested a little game where you get points for spotting a man in the theatre. They were a scarcity, but they were also helpful. At one point in the show, the audience was encouraged to shout out a synonym for the vagina (my least favourite word in the english language) and while the women weren't getting the volume up, one man yelled it out strong and long, leading to claps and laughs. There were a lot of those impromptu claps, where people were so impressed by a certain line we couldn't help showing some spontaneous appreciation.

There was only one drawback to the night. I am not sure if the warm, moist air in the theatre was supposed to be a symbolic representation of the vagina or not, but the theatre was stifling. Not much call for air conditioning in March in Newfoundland, I know, but it would have been welcome there last night.

The Vagina Monologues is funny, touching, uncomfortable at times, but most of all I think it was empowering in a lot of ways. I left feeling a greater appreciation for a body part that, as the performers pointed out, we rarely get to see ourselves and for a part that I don't think about too often to tell you the truth. I saw The Vagina Monologues last night for the first time, and I have a feeling it won't be the last.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The napkin fiction project

We've all heard the stories of writers scribbling on a napkin. I recall a bar in Churchill Square where I jotted down a couple of things about a novel in progress on a napkin once. But for some reason, I tend to turn to ATM receipts to note something important, if i don't have one of my trusty moleskines. I also try to have 3x5 index cards (or a hipster PDA) in all the backpacks, purses, and other bags I switch back and forth between. But anyone can find themselves with a thought they need to record and nothing to write on. In a pinch, I once wrote on a diaper. And I'm not someone who writes a lot of notes while I'm working on projects. Grocery lists, to do lists, and dates for birthdays I do try to record but not so much notes about the fiction I am writing.

Esquire magazine took this idea and decided to see what someone would write if given a napkin for the task. They sent 250 napkins in the mail to writers from all over the US and received nearly a hundred stories back. They are interesting (though sometimes not) because of what people decided to do with them. The work on the napkins range from minimalist to crammed with stuff; some were quite organized with beautiful handwriting and illustrations, and some were not. There was even a napkin novel.

So what do you write on and what exactly is it you write? I know something that writer Kenneth J. Harvey has written notes on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Stand Up in Kandahar

Check out CBC television tonight at 8:30 (NST) to see Mark Critch, Shaun Majumder, Irwin Barker, Tim Nutt, and Erica Sigurdson in Stand Up in Kandahar, a one-hour CBC TV comedy special shot on location at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. Yes, this was show where there were rocket attacks before and even during the show. Mark Critch was in the middle of his act when the missile warning went off. I heard tape of it on the radio this weekend and Critch was in fine form, continuing to be funny as the audience and performers headed to bunkers for safety.

Sounds like a great hour of TV.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Make Sure You Proofreed, Proofrade, Proofread

*So when a publishing company in Alberta decided to print a TV guide and business directory pamphlet about Sioux Lookout to be distributed to hotels and other local businesses in the town, it probably seemed like a good idea. After the directory was out there though, it was realized that something was amiss. The booklet said that the town was "full of drunks", "a dirty little town," and that people living there should move. Seems that the publishing company who made the brochure took the info from Wikipedia and didn't "fact check" it. I'm thinking fact checking wasn't the problem. You'd figure that a simple perusal of the text would have raised some red flags had anyone bothered ("hey, Charlie, isn't this supposed to say good stuff about the town?").

There are a couple of lessons to be learned here, both very simple: proofread and don't take online encyclopdias that can be edited by anyone as your main resource for information.

Of course, after this came out, wikipedia is now seeing more additions to its entry about Sioux Lookout. A blogger from Sioux Lookout is keeping track of these on his blog.

*Edited according to comments made by Mac about my original post where I mistakenly said that the town of Sioux Lookout actually had the publication printed. They did not. (Only I could screw up a post about how not to screw up.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Daylight Savings Springs Ahead

I know you're sick of every person on tv, radio and the Internet telling you to move your clocks ahead an hour tonight, like you're not smart enough to grasp it the first few hundred times they tell you. But you may not have heard that you'll need to do it for your computers, VCRs and other electronic devices which automatically change you over to Daylight Savings Time. See, they're not programmed for this new change. They're programmed to change three weeks from now. And if you don't turn off the automatic DST settings on such equipment, you'll have to change it again in three weeks when the devices will move your clocks ahead an hour.

And what's all this for again? To conserve energy, right? Well, that might not really be the case. An Austrailian study into this says that it doesn't and, in fact, may increase energy consumption. In 2000, Australia extended DST by two months and Ryan Kellogg and Hendrik Wolff of UC Berkeley's Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics found that "the decrease in evening electricity demand and the increase in morning demand almost perfectly balanced each other out".

So who benefits from DST changes like these, or from DST at all? Of course, we get that extra hour of light in the evening, but in March it just means we can see that dirty snow piled up outside for longer. The golf and bbq industries love it. Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time tells us that in the US in 1986 when an extra hour was added to DST, the golf industry reported an added $200 million in green fees and equipment sales while barbeque retailers reported a $200 million to $400 million increase in sales.

So tonight don't forget your electrical devices in your clock changing and think of future golf games and barbecues to come. And if you really want to feel like you're doing some extra energy conservation, buy some of those energy-saving bulbs and replace the regular ones in your home or buy a digital thermostat so you can be more precise about the amount of heat you're using.

And enjoy the extra hour of daylight tomorrow. Here where I live it looks like I can watch the rain for an extra hour the next couple of days.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Even more congrats to NL Writers

Along with a spot on the Giller Longlist last year and an ever-growing list of "Best of" honours for Kenneth J. Harvey's masterpiece, Inside, this week the book was nominated for the Winterset Award and now has won the prestigious Rogers Writers' Trust Award for fiction. To see the recognition this novel has received, visit his blog. Congratulations Kenneth. I am so pleased for you. It is well deserved.

Also, congratulations to the other nominees of the Winterset Award, Russell Wangersky's The Hour of Bad Decisions (I highly recommend this book as well--I loved it) and Ken Babstock's Airstream Land Yacht (shortlisted for the 2006 Governor General's Award for Poetry).

And to my friend, Paul Butler, whose wonderful novel NaGeira, was on Donna Morrissey's shortlist of books she considered for Canada Reads.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day

It is March 8th so it's International Women's Day. As they say, we've come a long way, baby. But there is still much farther to go. It's easy to measure where we are as women in terms of what we experience. Work and pay inequality, the lack of more women in political roles, and violence against women are some of the key issues the women of Canada have to deal with. But it's the international part of International Women's Day that make us think about the issues of women all over the world. And there are plenty. Sometimes we need some stats to make the point so here are some.

From Amnesty International:

  • At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in her lifetime. This figure comes from a study based on 50 surveys from around the world.

  • Every year, millions of women are raped by partners, relatives, friends and strangers, by employers and colleagues, soldiers and members of armed groups.

  • Violence in the family is endemic all over the world; the overwhelming majority of victims are women and girls. In the USA, for example, women account for around 85 per cent of the victims of domestic violence.

  • The World Health Organization has reported that up to 70 per cent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.

  • Small arms and light weapons are the main tools of almost every conflict. Women and children account for nearly 80% of the casualties, according to the UN Secretary-General

And from the UN:

  • Violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world.

  • It is estimated that between 113 million and 200 million women are demographically "missing." They have been the victims of infanticide (boys are preferred to girls) or have not received the same amount of food and medical attention as their brothers and fathers.

  • The number of women forced or sold into prostitution is estimated worldwide at anywhere between 700,000 and 4,000,000 per year. Profits from sex slavery are estimated at seven to twelve billion US dollars per year.

  • Globally, women between the age of fifteen and forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war combined.

  • At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Usually, the abuser is a member of her own family or someone known to her. Domestic violence is the largest form of abuse of women worldwide, irrespective of region, culture, ethnicity, education, class and religion.

  • It is estimated that more than two million girls are genitally mutilated per year, a rate of one girl every fifteen seconds.

  • Systematic rape is used as a weapon of terror in many of the world's conflicts. It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women in Rwanda were raped during the 1994 genocide.

  • Studies show the increasing links between violence against women and HIV and demonstrate that HIV-infected women are more likely to have experienced violence, and that victims of violence are at higher risk of HIV infection

And bravo to Governor General Michaëlle Jean for visiting Afghanistan to celebrate International Women's Day. As she told the people of Afghanistan: "we, the rest of the women around the world, took too long to hear the cries of our Afghani sisters, but I am here to tell them that they are no longer alone. And neither are the people of Afghanistan."

So on this day, I celebrate women all over the world, past, present and future. I celebrate how far we've come and hope and pray for how far we have left to go. If you feel like that too, why not visit Amnesty International's Act Now campaign and sign up to stop violence against women.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I love/hate Musicovery

You must, must, must go to Musicovery and become addicted like I did and sit in front of your computer in the same clothes for two days while your child screams "no more music!" (I'm kidding Mom, Sam is fine and happy and I have indeed changed my clothes, this is more a figurative description of how hooked I am on this wonderful, cursed thing).

You just go to the page, click on a mood and wait to see a bunch of music you can play right then and there. You can move around the branches listening to different music, based on the mood you're in. It's the variety that is the wonderful/hideous thing. It keeps you there, clicking and listening because there are songs you have never heard before or ones you forgot and now have remembered how much you liked them at one time or another. I mean I have a screen up now that has, to name a few, Prince, Seal, Van Morrison, Lenny Kravitz, and Lynn Anderson's Rose Garden, another had Coldplay, U2, The Clash, Chris Isaak, and 50 Cent.

If you love music and have moods, got to Musicovery and don't get mad at me when you look up and three hours have gone by, you've missed an important appointment, and your kids have drawn a crayon mural on your wall (no, Mom, Sam didn't do that either).

Via Adam Fire Fist

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Designer Superstar Challenge and Living NL

Well, at least Monday nights at 11:30 (NST) is free time for me now. Studio 60 is gone and now Ambrose Price is no longer on the Designer Superstar Challenge. I'm not into designing in any, way, shape or form so for me, Ambrose was the only bright spot in the show. He is a joy. As soon as he opened his mouth, it was so much fun. Just as I said at the beginning of the show, he has this great confidence with a smattering of insecurity. He was very impressive in some of the challenges and he made it to the top five. I think he should be very proud of himself. He said he may go to interior designing school and I think he should (since I'm so sure he cares what I think). He obviously has talent and a passion for designing so why not back it up with some formal education in the field.

And you can still see Ambrose from time to time on Krysta Rudofsky's show Living NL. As long as I brought it up I might as well blog about it because I've been meaning to. I have admired Krysta Rudofsky ever since she started her talk show on Rogers. I can't remember if it was called Out of the Fog then but I remember a leopard print couch was part of the original first few shows and I thought what a gutsy person she was to try something so different in this province. She went on to impress me on Out of the Fog, especially during political things like the various political debates (municipal and provincial) on Rogers. She was always very knowlegbable about the issues and didn't back down from pushing and asking tough questions. She never backed down from Andy Wells and always got her point across.

So when I heard she would have her own show on CBC, I was pleased. It is described as "a local guide to better living in Newfoundland and Labrador" and boy do I like it. It worked out perfectly because it comes on in the evenings in the time slot formerly taken up with Entertainment Tonight. I learn something different with every episode of Living NL. And while ET drones on about "she who will not be named", I'm enjoying finding out all kinds of new things I didn't know about what's available in the place I call home. If you've missed it or are wondering what it's all about, the most recent shows are always available online.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

A Busy Week in NL Arts

You know, typically, the arts community in most places goes fairly quiet from January to May, especially around here because you can never be sure that some horrible snowstorm won't shut your event down. I'm not sure if it's just me or not but I feel like there isn't much of a lull around here lately and I say hoorah! This week, the first full week of March, is a perfect example. There's loads of stuff on the go here. I can't name it all. Go to The Scope or The Town Cryer or The Tely Go Guide or The Express (Out and About) sites to find out everything, but I'm going to talk about more of the writing/theatre stuff because that's mostly where my interests lie. Some highlights of the week to come are:

WANL Monthly Reading Series

This month WANL celebrates the Newfoundland Writers’ Guild as Guild Members read from their latest anthology A Charm Against the Pain. That's tonight, Monday, March 5, at the LSPU Hall Gallery at 8:00 p.m. As a recent new member of the Guild, I can tell you that it is a wonderful group of talented writers who are very supportive of new writers. It includes members that are pioneers of Newfoundland and Labrador writing to newbies like me.

Featured readers will be Roberta Buchanan, Lillian Bouzane, Lily Bursey, Libby Creelman, Danette Dooley, Anne Ferncase, Michael Bruce Lockhart, Janet McNaughton, Alison Melvin, Jennifer Morgan, Hilda Chaulk Murray, Marilyn Porter, Esther Slaney-Brown, Georgina Olivere Queller, Geraldine Chafe Rubia, and Joan Scott.

(And as if that is not enough for one night, while at the Gallery you can see Michelle Stamp's new exhibit Portrait Works, which includes portraits of many well-known Newfoundlanders.)

The March Hare

After returning from a tour of Ireland, the annual March Hare, a clebration of words and music, hits St. John's, Gander and Corner Brook this week.

In St. John’s on Wednesday, March 7, the March Hare will be at The Martini Bar (above Peddler’s, George St.) at 8 p.m. It will feature Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, John Steffler, Agnes Walsh, Susan Gillis, Emiko Miyashita, Larry Small, Anne Ferncase, Boyd Chubbs and Matthew Byrne. Admission is $10 or $5 for students.

The Hare then moves to Gander on Thursday, March 8 at the Knight’s of Columbus, Airport Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. where it will include Pat & Joe Byrne, Fergus, Tom Dawe, Phil Patey, Agnes Walsh, Isabell Blackmore, Stan Dragland, Pamela Morgan & Anita Best, John Steffler, Lorner Crozier, Pat Lane, Allan & Matthew Byrne, Susan Gillis, Dave Shaw, Bernice Morgan, and the Breakwater Boys.

Then it hits Corner Brook. Artists including Nick Avis, Lloyd Bartlett, Elinor Benjamin, Cleve Best, Breakwater Boys, Allan & Matthew Byrne, Joe Byrne, Pat Byrne, Lorna Crozier, Stan Dragland, John Ennis, Fergus, Final Approach, Susan Gillis, Jennifer Hedd, Pat Lane, Ruth Lawrence, Randall Maggs, Emiko Miyashita, Bernice Morgan, Pamela Morgan, Charlie Payne, Daniel Payne, Linda Slade, Larry Small, Gerald Squires, John Steffler, SWGC Actors, Agnes Walsh, and Des Walsh will be at the following locations:

Friday, March 9:

1:30 p.m., Sir Wilfred Grenfell College—March Hare Anthology and CD Launch

4:30 p.m., Glynmill Inn—Book Launches: Larry Small and Agnes Walsh

8:00 p.m., Casual Jack’s Roadhouse—Readings and Music

Saturday, March 10:

2:00 p.m., Columbus Club—Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Matinee

8:00 p.m., Location to be Announced—Pittman’s Fancy

Sunday, March 11:

2:00 p.m., Location to be Announced—Sunday Soiree

Women’s Work Festival

A festival of women playwrights, the Women's Work Festival will take place over four days this week, from the 5th to the 8th. RCA Theatre, White Rooster Productions and She Said Yes! Productions are joining together to host this event with all proceeds going to the Naomi Centre, a shelter for women between 16 and 30 in need of safe and supportive temporary shelter.

As part of the festival, a Play Reading Series is scheduled for three nights from March 5-7, 2007 at 7 pm nightly at the Eastern Edge Gallery. On March 5, Sex, the war of by Lois Brown, and Connecting Rooms by Florence Button of Carbonear will be presented featuring Kay Anonsen, Robert Chafe, Sandy Gow, Brad Hodder, Ruth Lawrence, and Sara Tilley. On March 6th, Family, or, 63 Steps by Agnes Walsh will be read by Robert Chafe, Amy House and Ruth Lawrence. Then on March 7th, The (In)complete Herstory of Women in Newfoundland and (Labrador!) by Sara Tilley will feature Mary-Lynn Bernard, Robert Chafe, Sandy Gow, Ruth Lawrence and Sherry White.

The finale of the festival will be the 2nd Annual The Ladies of Misrule, held at 8 pm, March 8th at the Masonic Temple on Cathedral Street. The evening will include a celebration of several pioneers. Kay Anonsen, Tessa Crosbie, Sheilagh Guy Murphy, Amy House, Katie Pittman, Joan Sullivan, Simone Savard-Walsh and others will salute the work of writer Cassie Brown, music hall entertainer Biddy O’Toole, poet Len Margaret, traditional singer Bride Judge and others. As well, there will be a dessert buffet.

And, because I should add something not really writing related, one of my favorite local musical acts, Oddly Enough, are performing at Roxxy's Saturday night, March 10th.

No reason to be bored around here, I'll tell you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

RIP The Mind Boggles

One of my favourite blogs, The Mind Boggles, is gone, deleted from the universe. You can find all that is left of it, in Google's cached pages. I'll miss it a lot. It was a great blend of humour, pop culture and the life of Helmut.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hoohoos and Peepees

When my son was born, I already knew, from parenting books, magazines, classes, and television shows, that I should use proper names of body parts around my son. That meant all his body parts. In the early days I used cutsie terms for his "boy parts", gleefully using these silly nicknames as much as I could because they sounded cute and because it would be wrong for me to use them later on when the boy was old enough to understand. Calling these parts by nicknames would make them seem more silly and less important and if, God forbid, someone would inappropriately touch these parts, he would know how to explain it and the judge would not have to try to discern what was meant by "he touched my wonka wonka". It also helps prevent any shame in talking about these body parts (although I could use a little more discretion from the boy). So we are very careful to use only the correct names. We gently remind family and friends of this when necessary. My son still makes up names for them but we correct him as well. I think we are doing the right thing. After all, no one calls his arm a "dangly" or his nose his "little sniffer". This all makes perfect sense to me.

Until I see that the world does not agree. Yes, child-care experts agree, but others don't. True, others think that George Bush was worth re-electing and that homosexuality can be cured but, still, I wrongly expect more from adults. People are censoring the use of the proper names of body parts. The Vagina Monologues has been renamed The Hoohaa Monologues. Can you imagine seeing that on a big billboard? I think I would find that much more offensive, on many levels, than The Vagina Monologues.

And even more disgusting, The Higher Power of Lucky, awarded this year's Newberry Medal for excellence in children's books, has been banned in many secondary schools and public libraries because of one word in the book. This disgusting word, terrible enough to have the book removed from school and library shelves is *gasp* "scrotum".Yes, that very part of my son I try to teach him the name of, try to tell him is important enough to be given the right name, is cause to ban a book.

Now, I've discussed censorship here before. I disagree with it. To quote a line wrongly attributed to Voltaire, "I may disagree with what you have to say but I will defend to the death your right to say it". So, when any book is censored, let alone a book so good that a jury gave it a very prestigious award, because of one word, that angers me. It also confuses me. What word should have been used? There are plenty of nicknames one can use to describe that body part. I could list a bunch and then make make up a bunch more and you'd get it. But why use them when there is a perfectly good word for it? Maybe the author could have chosen a different body part, but I didn't read the book and I sure didn't write it. If that author chose "scrotum", I cannot say she was wrong. I guess the Newberry people didn't think so either.

So, don't forget to teach your children the right names for all body parts but if you're performing an Obie Award-winning play, or if you are writing a book for children over 9 years old, make sure you make up nice names for those parts. No need to expose people to those nasty old words. Use hoohoo or peepee and make squeamish people, afraid to discuss the body, happy in their ignorance. In the meantime, if you forget what the real names are: you can ask my kid.