Archive for December, 2006|Monthly archive page

Lotta questions to wrap up a year

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

(picked up from girlwonder)

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before?

Travelled to Europe twice in a month. Got fired.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t really like to make resolutions, but I have some goals. 2006 was an anomoly.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My neighbour. We’re weren’t that close, but it’s sad not to see him on his porch anymore.

5. What countries did you visit?

Quebec (it’s a “nation”), Germany, Belgium, USA

(more…)

Booms, puffs and water hazards

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Darwin Awards 2006

Kathy Sierra’s Five Questions

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Since I’m a loyal fan.

0) What’s your name and website URL? (optional, of course)

http://scotchneat.ca, of course

1) What’s the most fun work you’ve ever done, and why? (two sentences max)

Revamping an intranet at a smallish company and having everyone be excited to participate and see new content that they could use.

2) A. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did? (one sentence max)

Dance lessons.

B. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting it off? (one sentence max)

Work for myself.

3) A. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why? (two sentences max)

Speaking another language, and fiction writing because I admire both skills.

B. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max)

Tom Robbins – cuz he’d have a lot to offer in the way of how to write and how to live.

4) A. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?

Smart, loyal and private.

B. Now list two more words you wish described you…

Passionate, content.

5) What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes– three sentences max)

Reading, corporate communications, tolerance.

6) (sue me) Write–and answer–one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)

Q: When were you most happy with your work? Why?

A: When I was able to help people directly and indirectly, with little in the way of systems or organizational obstacles. I knew that I could get things done and that my efforts would be appreciated.

[Bonus: What is one question you wish people would ask themselves?]

Q: What have I done today to make things better?

Book Review: A Minor Planet for You

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

Book: A Minor Planet for You
Author: Leslie Greentree
Rating: 8/8 planets

This collection of short stories really spoke to me. Greentree’s characters are very real people, and she seems able to flesh them out quite easily within the length of a short story. It’s really a series of chapters in women’s lives, overwhelmingly familiar.

There’s no big evil, no epic deeds. The events in their lives are crises of friendship or love or family and how they deal with them. How things can get a little dark as well.

Greentree’s ear/eye finds the story in the real; there was much truthiness in this book. I found myself thinking that I wished I could write like this. Not much metaphor; not much in the way of fancy wordsmithing; but much in the way of quiet drama. She thanked Alistair MacLeod in the afterward, and I can see how he has probably been an influence.

I think I’d like to have tea (or scotch) with the author.

2006, meh

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

2006. Can’t say as I’m gonna be sad to see it go, but as with all years, there was pleasure with the pain.

For me, it was a year when I dealt with some health problems that were made worse by stress (thanks to a job that was bringing me down), and then losing that job (and the stress of that), then finding a new job (a whole new adventure). Most of the time, honestly, I felt like I was moving through each day to get it done. More than any other year, this one the one where my couch and my blanket and my cat were my only place of comfort.

For my family, despite some health concerns there as well, it was a good year. We celebrated my brother’s wedding, and we reached a new and healthy level of being a family. Almost redeemed the year.

And then there’s the world out there.

I’m not sure what I think about the execution of Saddam. I guess the timing is symbolic (and avoids a clause in Iraq whereby he would have been stayed if he reached his 70th birthday). I am sure that Iraq is a clusterfuck. I am also sure that Saddam’s death may lead to worse or further violence, and that I’ll never understand fully the complexities of the region.

Then there’s the continuing funny of George “I’m the Decider” Bush (but in a ha-ha, look how I’m pulling off my own toenail kind of way). There was a collective sigh of relief when the Dems took back a better balance of power, but there’s two more years to go, and he’s still insisting that Iraq is winnable, and monkeys can fly out of his butt…

And global warming? Not so funny. I’m writing this near the end of December and we’ve had a few flakes of snow today, but we’ve been above zero for the entire month. Maybe 2 days with snow so far? As much as I hate the Winter, it’s just become creepy. And we woke to the news that an ancient ice shelf on Ellesmere Island has collapsed, and that we may need to declare polar bears an endangered species because they’re running out of ice habitats where they can survive. This was the year that global warming reached the collective conscience. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth gave us the graphics, but it’s the real-world evidence everywhere that has taken that intellectual disgust or fear and made it uncomfortably real.

In the world of entertainment, we had the racist rantings of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. It’s a family saying that the real you shows up when you’re drunk or scared, gentlemen. Nuff said. But we also had the glory that is Battlestar Galactica. And Hockey: A People’s History.

As for books, my rough estimate is 200 read, which makes it rather difficult to say what was best or worst or… I will say that one should not start reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road just before bedtime, cuz you’ll be up for a while. Jasper Fforde’s The Fourth Bear didn’t disappoint. There were many other books that I enjoyed, but I didn’t write them all down, so bad me.

Whatever your impressions of 2006, I wish you the best for 2007. And for me too :)

A different kind of Chrismukah

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Rick Mercer’s account of his Christmas in Flack Jackets (you have to look it up). As funny as it/he is, it made me teary-eyed.

And I’m wishing all the best to my cousin, who will be doing her tour in Afghanistan starting in January…

Memoir: a narrative composed from personal experience

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

(link from Melle)
Hot on the heels of Stephen Frey’s demise, the real-life family from Augusten Burrough’s Running With Scissors is suing him for falsities and libel.

There’s two conversations in my head here: one about the nature of memoir; one about the real-world consequences from one recognizing oneself in a story that has “truth” associated with it.

Point one goes something like this: if you think that anything produced as non-fiction is actually the “truth”, you’re batshit and naive (and I’m not sure which is worse). All writing is composed, contrived, filtered, manipulated… This sounds very obvious to me, but I guess not so, given the outcries of duplicity that the rabid Oprah fans unleashed on Frey, and the press seems keen to re-ignite with Burroughs. The idea that one is able to return a book and get one’s money back because it’s not the “truth” is kind of absurd. Is that really why people read it? Maybe I’m not in that common class of people.

Point two is something like, even with all those filters and even with a label like “memoir” and even if it’s not T-truth, there is another thing that is truthiness. If you’re of a literary bent, you might wander into the integrity of art, the Platonic ladder, or the soul of the words. Bottom line is that I may glean truthiness regardless of the “truth” one might ascribe to a book. So do I care how much filtering/intervention Burroughs does in his writing? That would be a big NO.

Point three is from the other side, though. Let’s say I’m a girl that lived with a guy when we were teenagers and he writes about me and says I was scruffy and used the word cunt a lot and reveals things about my childhood that I went through therapy to forget. I’m not happy about this book. Even if he went out of his way to “hide” my identity, it’s enough that the common understanding of memoir is that there is truth in it. And therefore people may know me in a way that I had no control over, in a way that I feel to be “incorrect”. I get that anger.

Point four is more about Burroughs himself. He has gone on record as saying that there is truth in what he writes. Which is fighting words if you ask me. Why go there? Why insist on truth, when simply allowing the story to be a story is at once more freeing and more accurate? If the artist insists on truth when he is aware of the filters and fabulation, well that’s a different sin, perhaps. This I can’t answer for him. All I know is that I like his writing, and it has nothing to do with the word “memoir”…

Chrismakuh Curry

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Today was the day of the annual Diva lunch at Diana’s in Guelph. Diana’s has undergone a wonderful re-do worthy of Restaurant Makeover btw–swanky lighting and new paint and flooring. Just lovely.

In any case, the Divas were wonderful as always. What with the business updates, life updates, absent bling, kid pics, charms to ward off evil, and shoe shopping (of course).

The fact that we all ended up at a crazy company during a crazy time gives us the bonds of war buddies. A true fortunate circumstance for all of us. I can see us 10 years from now, eating our Chrismakuh curry, and laughing.

So, that’s a mosque, eh?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Huge buzz for a new CBC show starting in January: Little Mosque on the Prairie.

If the trailers are any indication, it’s like Corner Gas Meets Little House on the Prairie, only with headscarves. Of all the ways to deal with the discomfort felt by Muslims in post-9/11 Canada, this is, well, a most Canadian way to do it. Let’s laugh about it. Let’s get them to curl. Let’s see them as just another quirky family in small-town Saskatchewan.

Zarka Narwaz, the writer/director, is interested in putting the “fun” back in “fundamentalism”, and she has first-hand experience with our prairies–having lived in Regina for the past 10 years.

Some right-wing (American) press thinks it’s “lunacy“, or something, of course. But this lunatic is looking forward to it :)

Seven of Seven

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

For this year’s Buffy review, I decided to choose one ep from each season. Not necessarily my favs of all time or the most important eps. Ones that exemplify why Buffy, I guess. Final choices:

  • S1: Angel. Buffy and Angel kiss for the first time and she finds out who he is. We get a glimpse of Angel’s past. Darla dies for the first time.
  • S2: Becoming I & II. (I know. Kinda cheaty.) Angelus almost succeeds in freeing Al Franken (also known as Acathla). Willow succeeds in getting his soul back. Buffy finds out what she has left to lose.
  • S3: The Wish. Cordy wishes that Buffy never came to Sunnydale. Willow and Xander wear the leather. One of the best slo mo scenes in the series.
  • S4: Who Are You? Faith switches bodies with Buffy and starts to feel again. Willow and Tara get intimate on a spell.
  • S5: Fool For Love. Buffy gets Spike to tell her about how the slayers died (that he killed). We see how Spike came to be, and how he loves Buffy.
  • S6: Normal Again. Buffy gets poked by a demon and finds herself in a mental institution. Maybe the past six years have all been a delusion.
  • S7: Beneath You. Simply for the last scene. Can we rest now?