Friday, September 28, 2007

Getting Screwgled

So Google, which I looovvve as a search engine, has gone one step further in its Google Maps and now has Google Street View. A company called Immersive Media uses "a patented 11 lens camera system that simultaneously takes photos in 11 directions based on a dodecahedron geometry" so now you can see pictures of people or billboards or traffic or whatever at the street level. And boy can you see things. Of course three things happen when a new technology manages to catch people in everything from scratching their butts to scooping dog poop to committing crimes. First, bored people spend way too much time trying to find weird things in Street View. Second, people develop websites to tell the rest of us about what those bored people have found. Examples are The Google Street View Gallery and And third, new words must be developed from this technology. Hence the new word screwgled, a term referring to what happens to the poor people who get caught doing something embarrassing or even illegal on Google Street View.

And what of we Canadians? Will we see our own faces on a close-up level? Well, not really. Seems Canada has these pesky laws about privacy so, although Immersive Media is snapping pics in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City for Google Street View, if the images ever go out there, Google is agreeing to respect Canada's privacy laws and blur out faces and license plate numbers. More boring though the Canadian version will be, much less likely to get screwgled here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A.C. Hunter Library Reading

I will be the featured reader at the A.C. Hunter Library's Monthly Reading Series on Wednesday, September 19th at 7:00 p.m. (that's tonight). I will read from my first novel, this much is true, and from my novel in progress, A Few Kinds of Wrong. This is a series of monthly readings held at the library at the Arts and Culture Centre, St. John's. Hope to see you there.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Emmys in the Round

Well, there is no doubt that watching the Emmys last night could have been worse. I could have been in the audience and been one of the ones seated behind the stage, forced to watch all the boring stuff AND people's asses and the backs of their heads. Really, who came up with this award show in the round idea. The cameras and microphones were one way so half the audience only got to see the back end of what was going on.

I was disappointed in the Emmys last night. Mostly I think the hosting was the pits. I never have seen what the big deal is with Ryan Seacrest and why he's suddenly hosting everything from American Idol to the New Years Eve countdown to radio shows to guest-hosting Larry King Live and now the Emmys. Award shows needs someone with a sense of humour and spontaneity, not a talking head that read off the prompter and whose idea of a humourous segment is him showing up in a historical costume. Ellen Degeneres spent all of two minutes presenting a ridiculous montage of one-liners from the late shows with a tribute to the late Tom Snyder tacked on but all it did was make me realize that she was more entertaining in those two minutes than Seacrest was all night. Barring Ellen as host, I don't think the Emmys would have done to bad to have Elaine Stritch do the job. She definitely was one of the night's highlights when she said, while having trouble reading the teleprompter, "I'm not faking this, I really don't know what the hell I'm doing." I'm pretty sure there was a loud, collective "awww" from the audience when she left the stage. Other highlights included Lewis Black's spot-on rant about television programming (odd though it may have been in a night meant to celebrate the medium), The Roots Tribute, and Jon Stewart giving his friend Steve Carell the award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series when the real winner, Ricky Gervais, wasn't there to accept it (Carell was nominated in the same category).

Fox really went overboard promoting their own shows with an opening song and dance number from The Family Guy which was funny but just didn't seem right there. I LOVE The Family Guy but not necessarily as an opening number. But at least it was entertaining. The same cannot be said for the ridiculous segment where Wayne Brady plugged his new show on Fox, Don't Forget the Lyrics, while having a Kanye West lyric contest with Kanye himself and The Office's Rainn Wilson. What a waste of time.

As for the awards themselves, there were a few surprises. A lot of people seem upset at the James Spader win for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series against James Gandolfini and Hugh Laurie, among others. Well (please don't hurt me for saying this Trudy), I think James Spader is brilliant in Boston Legal and although I would have been very happy with a Hugh Laurie win, I was also pleased with a Spader win. I was very happy for Tina Fey when 30 Rock won for best comedy. I had other favourites there I wanted to win but you have to appreciate it when an underdog gets a nod like that and Fey's thanking the "dozens of viewers" of the show was fun.

I cannot end this post without mentioning the silly bleeping methods of Fox. When something "offensive" was uttered, they did not bleep, they inserted a shot of a big disco ball and complete silence that seemed to go on forever, leaving me to wonder if there had been some major technical difficulty the first couple of times it happened. Where, oh where, was the disco ball when Ryan was standing there in that absurd costume?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We now resume our regularly scheduled blog, already in progess

Okay, so the nagging comments about my lack of blogging updates are starting to get ugly so I am giving in. This first post back after a while away is always easier to put off since it seems a looming, large task just to catch up. I could flippantly say "I was busy" and that would be true--out of town, working on a huge freelance project, enjoying the dwindling days of summer with family--but I won't just say that. I'll catch you up on a few things instead (but reserve the right to save some stuff for later on). Just random thoughts as they come out of my brain. So, let's begin:

The Winterset in Summer Literary Festival was a blast. I enjoyed the panels and managed to get through my own without a nervous breakdown. I was terribly nervous up until our panel but got a crazy sense of calm right before going on stage. I think this was, in part, due to Christine's relaxation exercises and visualization exercises and to the announcement, while we were being introduced, of the New Voices fund and the generous cheque which would be coming the way of each of the writers on the New Voices panel (me, Michelle Butler Hallett and Shannon Patrick Sullivan). Being told you will get an unexpected cheque right before going on stage is a great antidote to stage-fright and I highly recommended it. Once I got onstage I was okay. Everyone said that I didn't seem nervous. I must have done alright because [WARNING: shameless self-promotion alert] Ashley Vardy said in the Gander Beacon that I "kept listeners in stitches" as I "told the hilarious yet heartbreakingly realistic story of a young Newfoundland girl living in Toronto in This Much is True". She went on to call the three of us on the New Voices panel "festival favourites" [End of alert]. So Ashley Vardy, if you ever read this blog, thank you so much for your kind words. Other highlights for me included meeting Michael Enright; the fabulous and tension-filled Winterset Panel; the BBQ at Jennifer's cabin; Helen Fogwill Porter's launch of her book Finishing School which was combined with a tribute the to Newfoundland Writers' Guild; and the writers and publisher breakfast where I sat and ate and chatted with my fellow panelists Michelle and Shannon along with Russell Wangersky and Joan Clark.

The boy stayed with Mom and Dad for the Winterset weekend and after it was all over my friend Kathy and I went to Gander to pick up him up. It was his first time going to his grandparents on his own and he had a great time while I didn't have to give a second thought about how he was and hubby got the new roof on our house (along with Jason, Mike and Steve).

The boy started preschool yesterday. I've been a stay-at-home-Mom since he was born so I think he needs to practice being without me in a structured environment for a bit and two mornings a week should fit the bill. It will be good for me too to have time without him although you couldn't have persuaded me of that yesterday morning when I was having a bit of an emotional breakdown in the car after dropping him off. The boy loved it at preschool but the delighted look on his face when he saw me when I picked him up told me he's still very much my little boy. Wait until Kindergarten next year, I'll be basket case.

Two wonderful people received writing awards recently and I want to shout out a big congratulations to them. Scott Bartlett, a brilliant new writer and a sweet guy, won the The H.R. (Bill) Percy Prize for unpublished novel. Congratulations Scott. You deserve it. And my dear friend and Strident Women creator Trudy Morgan-Cole won third prize in The Antigonish Review’s Sheldon Currie Fiction Contest. Way to go, Trudy! (And happy birthday today!)

I saw the Simpsons Movie last week. It was hilarious and had me laughing from the very beginning to the very end (and I stayed for every one of those credits to make sure I didn't miss a thing). I will definitely be buying the movie when it comes out in DVD. I can't get Spiderpig out of my head! Why oh why isn't it a single on the radio?

I watched a couple of things on TV Sunday night that I want to mention. One was the new Shaye reality show which I really enjoyed. It all looks so glamorous when you see Kim Stockwood, Damhnait Doyle and Tara MacLean on stage but it really looks like a lot of hard work behind the scenes. They're regular people slogging away at it all. They just sound and look fantastic while they're doing it. On the other hand, the other thing from Sunday night was not so enjoyable. I couldn't help it. I was curious. So I turned on the first part of the MTV VMA Awards to see Britney Spears "perform". I use quotes because I think to say someone performed would mean that she would have had to dance or sing and she really did neither. She lip-synced (at least until she gave up and even stopped pretending she was singing) and sauntered around the stage looking uncomfortable. More like the first rehearsal of Dancing with the Stars than anything you'd expect at a music video awards show. You could almost hear her thinking "okay, twirl now then grind, now move your feet this way, shoot, I forgot to move my lips again." I'm sorry for being hard on her. She obviously has huge issues and I hope she gets help. She really needs some people around her who will tell her when something is not a good idea. And Sunday night at the VMAs was not a good idea.

So, that's a little taste of what I've been up to and some thoughts I've had on stuff. Tune back in. More to come.