Friday, August 31, 2007

Maureen is happy...

What is making Maureen happy? Her TIFF pick envelope ended up in box 70 of 75 and the number drawn out of the hat (well, box) was 66. That means she has a better than fighting chance of getting all her first choice movies. Yippee! Let's hope she didn't make too many mistakes on her selection form at 4:00 am this morning...

Festival Time

So, it's festival time again and I'm up late trying to make my picks which are due by 1:00 PM tomorrow. Not that I'm guaranteed to get my first choice picks, but I've been incredibly lucky the past few years, which, of course, makes me think this is the year that my second choice picks will be more important or even relevant...

I blogged last year a bit about the festival and I'm always faced with the what-kind-of-festival-do-I-want-to-have question when trying to make my selections from the 350 plus films they're showing.

Do I go for the avante guard? Foreign films? Base it on trying to stick to one theatre for a few films in a row, rather than dashing around Toronto? Do I try to maximize the number of celebrities I see? I mean, is seeing The Assassination of Jesse James only a week or so before it's released, but seeing Brad Pitt in the flesh during the introductions, worth passing up on Alan Ball's new movie Nothing is Private? How does one decide these things?

And to get more absurd, do I choose to see Michael Clayton, which opens Oct 5 (in NY, LA and Toronto) but have a possible Clooney sighting -- he is going to be in town, but will he show for the second screening? -- or see My Kid Could Paint That, a documentary about a six year old girl whose paintings sell for big bucks. I'll see Michael Clayton regardless of the festival, which makes me think I should go for the documentary... And what about the new Elizabeth film which looks amazing... Is it worth missing Jason Reitman's (Thank you for not Smoking) new film Juno that starts Michael Cera who's in Superbad right now??? And the only other screening of Juno is the same time as the new Coen brothers' film No Country for Old Men.

A few films in the festival, I want to see regardless of the fact they're opening in theatres soon. First is Across the Universe, mostly because it just looks so cool and if it gets reviewed badly I don't want the reviews to spoil my possible amazing movie-going experience. Of course, seeing a trippy film like that at 9:00 in the morning may not be so trippy... The other is Eastern Promises, David Cronenberg's new film. It's the film that Toronto's NOW Magazine picked as "THE FILM" of this year's festival, plus the reviewer seemed to think that it'll get slashed to pieces once the US censors see it... And I'd rather see it uncut.

So, back to my picking... Must get this done... I know. Tough life.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

What's in a name? (and numbers)

I found this name analysis thingy on Mel Francis's blog

Boy, guess I should have done this before I wasted 20 years of my life becoming and trying to be an accountant, huh?

Your number is: 3

The characteristics of #3 are: Expression, verbalization, socialization, the arts, the joy of living.

The expression or destiny for #3:
An Expression of 3 produces a quest for destiny with words along a variety of lines that may include writing, speaking, singing, acting or teaching; our entertainers, writers, litigators, teachers, salesmen, and composers. You also have the destiny to sell yourself or sell just about any product that comes along. You are imaginative in your presentation, and you may have creative talents in the arts, although these are more likely to be latent. You are an optimistic person that seems ever enthusiastic about life and living. You are friendly, loving and social, and people like you because you are charming and such a good conversationalist. Your ability to communicate may often inspire others. It is your role in life to inspire and motivate; to raise the spirits of those around you. Words? Me? Latent creative talents? Like waiting until I'm freaking 40 to try writing???

The negative side of number 3 Expression is superficiality. You may tend to scatter your forces and simply be too easygoing. It is advisable for the negative 3 to avoid dwelling on trivial matters, especially gossip. I LOVE gossip.

Your Soul Urge number is: 3

A Soul Urge number of 3 means:
With the Soul Urge number 3 your desire in life is personal expression, and generally enjoying life to its fullest. You want to participate in an active social life and enjoy a large circle of friends. You want to be in the limelight, expressing your artistic or intellectual talents. Word skills may be your thing; speaking, writing, acting, singing. In a positive sense, the 3 energy is friendly, outgoing and always very social. Ah, yup!

You have a decidedly upbeat attitude that is rarely discouraged; a good mental and emotional balance. Not sure about this... I think I'm pretty unbalanced. LOL

The 3 Soul Urge gives intuitive insight, thus, very high creative and inspirational tendencies. The truly outstanding trait shown by the 3 Soul Urge is that of self-expression, regardless of the field of endeavor. Aw, shucks. I truly hope this is true.

On the negative side, you may at times become too easygoing and too optimistic, tending to scatter forces and accomplish very little. Often, the excessive 3 energy produces non-stop talkers. Everyone has faults, but the 3 soul urge doesn't appreciate having these pointed out. AND DON"T POINT OUT MINE!

Your Inner Dream number is: 9

An Inner Dream number of 9 means:
You dream of being creative, intellectual, and universal; the selfless humanitarian. You understand the needy and what to help them. You would love to be a person people count on for support and advice.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Negligent blogger

I'm not sure how you writers who are mothers do it. I've had my 9-year-old niece with me for the past week and barely looked at my e-mails never mind doing blog posts or anything resembling actual writing. Didn't even do any reading.

Okay, so when my niece is in her normal habitat, at home, she's got her toys and her friends and stuff like that, and when she's at "Camp Auntie Maureen" there are supposed to be tons-o-fun activities all of which involve Auntie Maureen's participation, so it was pretty much non stop from the time we woke up until we fell asleep next to each other each night... So, I know it's not like simulated motherhood... but still... Wow. No time to do anything but deal with her this past week.

Not that I'm complaining. We had a great time and I hope to get back into the blogging swim of things soon. I owe Sara Hantz a guest blog... must do that! And I didn't post on DWT last week either.

Boy, am I a slacker or what?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Scourge of the City

This photo just taken from the stairs leading up to my third floor office, looking out the window to the roof of the next house.

Have I mentioned how much I hate racoons? Sure, they look cute, but wait until you have them living (and crapping) under your back deck. Then tell me how cute they are. (At least I don't have them living in my roof, like my brother and sister-in-law do. The other half of their semi-detached is being renovated right now and the builders keep leaving holes for them to get back in.)

Eileen Cook has a hilarious post about squirrels today. Got me wondering what this racoon is up to!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Writing and acting and directing (Why Sean Penn is smart)

I'm watching the Sean Penn episode on the biography channel and he just said this amazing thing that really rang true for me, and yet again articulated why I think being a screenwriter might suck. Or at least be frustrating.

He was talking about his clashes with directors. And he said something like this: It's been a source of great frustration working with directors as an actor. A director who doesn't write his own material is confusing to me, because as an actor you question whether he should be the one to tell you how this story should be told. Why would his ideas be better than mine?

Okay, I'm going from memory of what Penn said, but it articulates really well the conflicting creative forces at work on a movie... And the screenwriter is typically the one who has the most knowledge of the story, but the one whose opinion is most ignored when it comes to actually making the movie. That's why I'm not sure I"d like to be a screenwriter (as if I could just snap my fingers and be one... ha!) Or why I'm pursuing writing novels vs screenplays when I'm so clearly a movie buff...

Oh, and some funny trivia about Sean Penn. He got fined (as did the hotel) for smoking during a press conference at last year's TIFF. I think he's back again this year. Will be interesting to see if he can keep from smoking this year.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Release Day!

Stepping back from my crankiness to congratulate two writer friends and fellow TKA clients on their release days!!!

Bev Katz Rosenbaum's BEYOND COOL is out today. If you've got kids 11 or over (is that about right, Bev?) or would love a fun read yourself, check it out!

Also, Debrah Williamson's mainstream fiction book, PAPER HEARTS, is out today. I'm going to be chatting with Debrah tomorrow, either here or on DWT.

Living off the Grid

My power was out most of yesterday and again this morning for about 3 hours. I swear. Some days I feel like I live in a 3rd world country.

I don't know what it is with the area of Toronto I live in. I had a few days last winter (a very cold stretch, too) where I didn't have power. Less than a block away, people had power. Just not me. Realy got to know a few of my fellow work at home neighbours as we fought over the one plug at our local coffee shop to charge our phones and laptops.

That time there'd been a big storm and a tree was down near me. And another one a few blocks north. And there were trees and power lines down all over the city... So I gave them the benefit of the doubt.

But this time... I wish they'd just fix whatever's wrong. This morning it went out at 7:00 am. Came on at about 7:20 for maybe three minutes and then went out again. (I have lots of things, including my alarm system and my doorbell that scream when the power goes off or on... so I notice each time.)
Did that a couple more times until I gave up and got out of bed about 9:45 when it came back on for about the fourth time in 3 hours. (I went to bed about 3:00... so with my 7:00 am rude awakening this morning. I'm going to be cranky today.)

I'll be crankier if the power goes out again. I'm lost without my computer. (Not to mention my air conditioning.)

Fingers crossed it'll stay on long enough for me to input a whack of changes to my ms and print it again.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I write paranormal, in Spanish, anyway

Someone was googling one of my book titles the other day... Interesting... Anyway, I checked out the links one gets and found this link.

Apparently, whoever did the translating for this Spanish language website announcing this year's GH finalists, had a few problems with some of the categories... Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, appears to be "with paranormal elements". And I think the inspirational one is mislabeled as "for adults". Kind of implies the opposite, don't it?

More Bio Pics

Okay, so I'm wishing I'd learned a bit more about the new Jane Austen movie before letting myself get so excited about it. I just read a review and I'm not so sure anymore...

But I did go to a wonderful bio pic this week. la Vie en Rose.

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to hear Edith Piaf's song, Non Je Ne Regrette Rien, (I don't regret anything) again without tearing up. I've heard that song before, who hasn't. Believe me, even if you think you haven't, you have. But I'd never listened to the words before, and, when she sings it at the end of the movie (and when the songwriter sings it for her, initially) there are subtitles so you don't even need to understand French for the meaning of the words to dig into you.

Edith Piaf wasn't even 50 when she died, but if the movie is even partly accurate in it's portrayal, she looked and had the health of an 90 year old for the last five or so years of her life. Certainly one of those "Don't drink or do drugs" stories. And the actress who played Edith from a teen through to the end was astounding. A little over the top, perhaps, but I have a feeling Edith was a little over the top herself.

Speaking of movies about singers that could be "don't do drugs" PSAs. I saw a poster for El Cantante at the theatre and looks like it's finally being released. I saw this film last year at the festival. And, well, didn't like it much. Instead of repeating myself, you can follow this link if you're interested.

According to today's Globe and Mail, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe will be screened at this year's festival. I expect it will be a gala, and I don't typically go to those, but if it's not, I'm there. Even if it will be in theatres soon after. It looks so cool based on the trailers (which have been playing for months, already) and I think she's an amazingly creative director. Fun, fun, fun.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Jane (and James)

Is anyone else excited about the soon-to-open movie Becoming Jane? I'm not sure what I think of Anne Hathaway (thought she was the only, but serious, weak link in Brokeback Mountain) but James McAvoy is an actor I really like. And the movie looks, well, romantic and sweet.

I'd seen McAvoy in a couple of films (including the Narnia one) without really noticing him... But then at last year's film festival I saw him in no less than three films. They were calling him the "it boy" of last year's TIFF. And it was just coincidence that I selected all three films he was in. This year, he's in one that I know of -- an adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement. LOVED that book. Hope I can get a ticket to the movie.

Anyway, back to James (we're on a first name basis, since I saw him in 3 films in a week) and last year's festival. Two were wonderful, and he was wonderful in them. In particular, The Last King of Scotland. Forest Whitaker deservedly got a huge amount of attention for his performance in that movie, but I think people overlooked McAvoy's character -- the narrator and core of the film, as a result. His performance was riveting and held the movie together.
The other lovely film was Starter for Ten. Very different film, and not groundbreaking, but kind of a combination coming of age/romance story that I found entertaining, but it didn't do much at the box office. (At least it wasn't open for long in Toronto.)

The third was Penelope, which I still don't think has been released (and for good reason in my opinion.) I really wanted to love this movie. Loved the premise. Loved the first half. But just didn't work. Now, watch. It'll be released later this year and do really well, proving my taste isn't everyone's. LOL) Update: I just checked and they list the US release date for Penelope as August 17, 2007. I actually blogged about why Penelope didn't work for me last year on Drunk Writer Talk.

All that to say... looking forward to this Jane Austen bio pic. Anyone else?
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