Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What's in a Name?

Christine d'Abo who recently sold to Ellora's Cave -- yeah, Christine! -- tagged me for a name game. I've reluctantly agreed to accept the challenge (LOL), even though it means revealing my middle name. Not that I don't like my middle name. It's original. The only other person I know who has it is my mom. Her middle name, too. In fact, I suspect my Grandmother might have made it up. (She claimed it's Welsh.)

Here goes...


Maureen McGowan

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first three letters of your name, plus izzle)

Mauizzle. (Everyone must address me this way from now on. Or else.)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three of your last)

Mmcg Hmmm... Well, there's a director called McG, right? Not sure how it's pronounced with the extra M.

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (fav color and fav animal)

Coral Puppy Take that. (Not sure if coral's my favourite colour... but I'm wearing it right now and just LOVED how well it went with puppy.)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, Street you live on):

Luverna Hurndale I must be the matriarch who's been on the soap since the 50's.

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name, first 3 letters of mom’s maiden name)

Mcgmadaf Ooooo. I like that, even if it's a little vowel deficient at the start.

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (favorite color, favorite drink)

Coral Martini Not sure if that sounds like a superhero, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it on a menu somewhere.

8. YOUR IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, any letter of your middle name, 2nd letter of your moms maiden name, 3rd letter of your dad’s middle name, 1st letter of a sibling’s first name, last letter of your moms middle name)

Agawse Doesn't sound Iraqi to me... And not sure I like the idea of making fun of another language anyway.

9. YOUR STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/body spray)

Jil Sander #4 Huh? Since when do perfume names make good stripper names. (I guess I do like a boringly named perfume, though.)

10. YOUR WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother & father’s middle name)

Luverna Edward. Yeah, cause that name would help me blend.

Okay, I tag.... Diana Peterfreund, Mel Francis, Margaret Moore

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Playing possum...

Proving once again I am completely lazy and incapable of coming up with an original blog topic, I was inspired tonight by the always funny Eileen Cook, who is blogging on hated foods.

The squirrel warning reminded me of a radio show I once heard. My parents used to own a houseboat in the Ozarks (don't ask) and I went down there a few times. While on the "boat" the radio station choices were limited, but we did get one station loud and clear from Versailles Missouri. (Pronounced Ver Sail's)

Mid morning each day, we tuned into our favourite program -- the call-in recipe show. Always entertaining, one day topped them all. The day a man called in with his roast possum recipe. The "recipe" was basically:

First ya skin it
Then ya rub in yer spices -- rub em in real good
Then ya roast it

Then the announcer made the mistake of asking the caller where one might find a possum. The caller replied, in a tone which made the stupidity of the announcer's question clear, "You go out and shoot you one."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscars -- Writing and Acting Etc.

Just a few more comments about the Oscar nominations--because I can't stop myself.

First, in the best foreign language film category, I would be remiss as a Canadian (and an avid movie-goer) if I didn't mention the film Water, by Deepa Mehta.

Ms. Mehta had a lot of trouble making this film. She was kicked out of India (where it was filmed) more than once, I think, and picketed a number of times because of its controversial subject -- the treatment of widows in the Hindu culture. The movie is set in the 1930's -- which is not that long ago -- and I think this is a film every woman should see. But while its subject is serious and sad, the film isn't all darkness and depression. It really has a lot of hope and humor, too. (and even a little romance.)

I was super annoyed last year at whomever it is in Canada who picks which film to put forward for the Academy Awards. (It's my understanding that each country can make one official entry to this category.) Last year, Canada put forward the French language film, C.R.A.Z.Y -- which didn't get a nomination and I was angry that Water hadn't been put forward in its place. (Don't get me wrong, C.R.A.Z.Y. is a good film, too. I saw both at the 2005 TIFF, but Water is better.) What I didn't understand is that Water wasn't released in the US until 2006, so couldn't be put forward last year. Phew. At least it was put forward, now, and got the nomination it deserves. With the other great films in this category, I doubt Water will win... But at least it's getting some well-deserved recognition.

Because I'm a writer, albeit not a screenwriter, I should also talk a bit about the writing awards. (Always listed at the very bottom of the nominations.... like the writers don't really matter. What's up with that???)

“Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” is up for best adapted screenplay. Huh? I loved this movie, but don't get this nomination, at all. To me, it's like nominating Survivor for best writing at the Emmys. Sasha Baron Cohen is clever... but really, how much of this film was "written" other than his stand up-ish stuff. Doesn't seem right to me.

Of the other films in this category: “Children of Men”, “The Departed”, "Little Children”, “Notes on a Scandal”.... I'd have to go with Little Children. I know I'm not a screenwriter, but I'm not sure if adapting a foreign language screenplay (Infernal Affairs) into an English language screenplay is all that much "adapting" compared to adapting a complex novel. It bugged me a few years ago that Cameron Crowe (who I'm a big fan of, generally) took a writing credit on Vanilla Sky. I've seen the original, Open Your Eyes, and thought he should have taken a translation credit, not a writing one... I admit I haven't read the novel Little Children , (but would like to), but this was a very interesting film and I loved the way the screenwriter integrated some narration into it in a clever way. Children of Men and Notes on a Scandal were both excellent films as well, but I want Little Children to win. (It won't though. Too dark. Didn't make enough money.)

While I'm talking about Little Children, it would be amazing if Jackie Earle Haley won for best supporting actor. A creepy performance to be sure. But amazing. It was driving me nuts while I was watching this movie, trying to figure out where I'd seen him before. Turns out he hasn't worked for a while. The two films I remember him in were the original Bad News Bears, 1978, where he played the love interest for Tatum O'Neil and then in Breaking Away, 1979. If you haven't ever seen Breaking Away, rent it. It's worth it to see a very young Dennis Quaid, in what I believe was his first film performance. But a great film in other ways, too.

The original screenplay nominations are: “Babel” Written by Guillermo Arriaga; “Letters from Iwo Jima”, Screenplay by Iris Yamashita, Story by Iris Yamashita & Paul Haggis; “Little Miss Sunshine” Written by Michael Arndt; “Pan’s Labyrinth” Written by Guillermo del Toro; “The Queen” Written by Peter Morgan.

I would be happy if any one of Babel, Little Miss Sunshine or Pan's Labyrinth win this category. I think Little Miss Sunshine deserves recognition because it seemed so tightly written to me -- particularly for a comedy where often scenes are added just to be funny, but don't advance the story. I want to see it again to study it more, to think about it rather than just enjoying it... But the other two were more complex and also amazing, so I'm torn... I'll be ticked if either The Queen, or Letters from Iwo Jima wins...

Okay, I promise to stop talking about the Oscars for a while.

Oscars -- Best Picture Nominations

Here's my take on the nominations for "Best motion picture of the year", all of which I've actually seen...


Loved this film. Have already talked about it a few times... It's a fairly depressing, but I think realistic, look at the world today. How not listening and jumping to conclusions can lead to tragedy. This director, Alejandro González Iñárrituis, is amazingly talented, as is the writer, Guillermo Arriaga. This writing/directing pair also did 21 Grams, which if you haven't seen, you should. Rent it. Tonight.

I need to post a photo of Alejandro, too. Just 'cause he's so damn cute. That should count for something. (He'd get my vote for best director, based on his looks, alone.)

“The Departed”

Loved this film, too. Interestingly though... although Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg have been getting all the awards attention re: this movie... It was Matt Damon who blew me away in this film. Okay, they were all good, I just thought Matt was super interesting and unexpected. One of the most charming bad guys I've seen on film and (I'm quoting Molly) you could see his ulcer's growing through changes in his smile.
I need to see Infernal Affairs -- the movie this was based on... (Back on the Matt topic. He really had a good/interesting year. The Good Shepherd was not a perfect movie, but his performance was perfect and so different from other roles I've seen him play. Why are all these award granters ignoring him? His buddy Ben even got nominated for a Golden Globe.)

“Letters from Iwo Jima”

I actually saw this film. I'm not big on war movies, so the idea of sitting through a war movie in Japanese with subtitles was daunting... But I did enjoy it. Don't think I'd pick it for a best picture nomination, though. It was certainly an interesting history lesson -- I hope at least some of it accurate -- regarding that battle from the Japanese side, but the whole story structure etc. just seemed a little too pat to me, a little too easy. (and it got nominated for writing, too???? Maybe the Academy just authomatically nominates anything Paul Haggis worked on, now?)

“Little Miss Sunshine”

Loved this movie and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that it got this nomination. I'm actually hoping this one will win. Not because I necessarily think it's better than some of the others -- just that it would be so much fun to see it win over those other more serious, more likely to win, films. I do love an underdog. This is already out on DVD. Rent it. (It will be a nice emotional break after 21 Grams which is pretty heavy.)

“The Queen”

Again, really, really enjoyed this film, (more than some people I know... Molly?) but not sure it deserves a best picture nomination. Helen Mirren's performance was fantastic -- she'll surely win best actress -- but the film as a whole wasn't that exciting or interesting to me. Films like Volver, or Pan's Labyrinth or Notes on a Scandal or I'm sure there are others... (this is just off the top of my head) seem so much more deserving to me.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Which piece of wisdom to believe?

We've been talking about what kind of writer we want to be over on DWT... and I realized the real answer for me, many days, is simply PUBLISHED. I want to be the published kind. The kind who can tell her friends where to buy her books. The kind who actually gets paid (even if it's only a pittance compared to the effort expended). But my urgency some days is admittedly wrapped up in wanting better answers for my family and friends, when they ask, "How's the writing going?" with increasing trepidation and pity in their eyes. I'm a proud person. I hate that.

In the publishing world, it's sometimes hard to sort out the "truth" amongst the many myths and slices of wisdom and rules and archaic business practices... And two conflicting "pieces of wisdom" I've been thinking about a lot lately are these:

1. If a book is good enough, it will find a home.

2. Even really great books don't get published and not all books published deserve to be.

Somehow, I've managed to exist believing both of these things, even though, they contradict each other on the surface. One of the writing instructors I had when I started writing novels, told me that it takes Talent, Persistence and Luck to get published. (I've also seen this listed as Talent, Timing and Tenacity... but you get the idea.) But my instructor said that, in his opinion, 2 of the 3 is enough.

This, to me, explains the really great books not finding homes (talent, but either no luck or no persistence) and the mediocre or even crappy books getting published (no talent, but luck and persistence combining.)

I, and a few other writing friends, have recently suffered a few disappointing setbacks... situations where it looked like good things were about to happen and then they didn't. At times like those, it's so easy to assume we suck. That our writing just isn't good enough. If it was, our books would find homes, right? We've been persistent, after all! But I'm still fighting not to get trapped by that self-doubt, however strong it may pull some days. My books, some day, will find a home.

That said, I'm also still fighting to not start house-hunting for my book in neighborhoods I don't think it belongs in. (That sounded snobby or like I'm pro-segregation.) But, my point is that there are lots of neighborhoods for people to live in, many kinds of houses. Some people want a big yard in the suburbs, some people want to walk to work -- and similarily, there are lots of publishing neighborhoods. I think I know which one I want my books to live in, which one would best serve the books, my career aspirations, etc. and I don't see the point in setting up home, taking the time to decorate etc., in the wrong location, just so I can say I'm published. (Although I concede I may find myself eating these words some day. Perhaps soon.)

Jenny Crusie, in her great inaugural PRO-retreat keynote a few years ago, likened getting your first publishing contract (or, if you're already published, a book really taking off) to getting struck by lightning. As much as I hate this idea, (too much given over to luck, with super-low odds) it's also what I live by.

I just need to keep putting more lightning rods out there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lead or supporting???

Does anyone know how actors end up in lead or supporting actor categories for award shows?

I mean, why were Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead category for Babel where Adriana Barraza was in supporting? She certainly had a bigger and more pivotal part than Cate, anyway, who spent 90% of the movie practically unconscious.

And more to the point, why was Beyonce in the lead category when Jennifer Hudson was in supporting?
I'm glad that it gave Jennifer Hudson better chance to win, (since she didn't have to go up against Helen Mirren) but she was definitely the lead of Dreamgirls -- which I finally saw tonight.

She was a revelation. I'd heard she was good, but she actually made me cry. And I don't get how anyone could say Effie isn't the protagonist of that movie. How does that put her in a supporting role category?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Decisions, decisions

Okay, what evil-powers-that-be put the Golden Globe awards on the same night as the second part of the premiere of 24? Evil. Evil! (Shakes fist at the heavens.)

And the second episode of "Little Mosque on the Prairie" is airing in Canada tonight, too... And I thought the pilot episode was pretty funny--by Canadian sit-com standards, anyway.

How come, after 6 or so weeks of NOTHING on TV (during which I was able to discover Nip/Tuck and Battlestar Galactica on DVD) is everything I want to watch on on one night? (Oh, and BSG is on tonight, too... but I'm still a couple of seasons behind there.)

Thank goodness for "time shifting". I won't be able to catch all 3, but should be able to see both the GG's and 24 -- if I stay up really late watching one on the Vancouver station, thus breaking one of my new years resolutions about watching TV past midnight.


(But I love the Golden Globes... drunken acceptance speaches... fabulous!)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Grey's Anatomy

Okay, so I waxed poetic (I wish) on the first season of Grey's Anatomy on the DWT talk blog... but suddenly want to add something more current on the topic.

I've read criticisms on other blogs etc. of Izzie's character. "How can we sympathize with a character who's beautiful, smart and then inherits 8 million dollars from a man she was barely engaged to?"

I beg to differ....

Is someone immune from pain because she's pretty? Because she has money?

I find her character one of the most interesting ones on that show. (Okay, Christine is hands down the most interesting character, but I also like Izzie... and George....)
Izzie's total white trash. Grew up poor. But because she was smart and pretty, (Yes, I concede it took both, but that, in itself, is interesting) she became a doctor.

Then she falls in love with a dying man. Dying man dies and turns out to have money he bequeaths to her.

Some say this makes things easy for Izzie. I think it adds to her difficulties/complexities. She doesn't NEED the money. She's conflicted by having it. She's full of guilt and sadness and feelings of not being worthy and getting by on her looks....

I LOVE this character.

Deeply complex.

I'm done....

Bad blogger

I've been such a blog slacker.... Sorry. Deep in revisions.

Interesting that Beckham has signed on with an LA soccer team, eh!

Fascinating. Smart.

Should open lot of opportunities for him in other areas of entertainment and may actually make soccer break through as a true professional sport in the US. (Although many thought Gretzky would do that for hockey in the US, and he really didn't...)

But Beckham is cuter....

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Messiness is next to...?

Probably not godliness, but who cares?

I was inspired by a great article by Margaret Wente in Saturday's Globe & Mail. Inspired because she's a great columnist, sure. But also inspired by the positive boost to my self-esteem. (But obviously not inspired enough to think of an original idea of my own for this blog... My apologies, Ms. Wente.)

Confession: I am a messy person. (Stop laughing, Molly.) I always have been. Although I know where things are when I want them, generally, I live in what looks to organized people, as a state of chaos.

If you're one of those hyper-organized people, brace yourself. I'm about to post a photo of my desk. Well, part of my desk.

Are you still breathing?

I've heard some of the theories put forward in Ms. Wente's column before. That actually being too tidy, too organized is a huge waste of time and merely a procrastination technique for people so inclined. I've also taken solace in the idea that many creative and brilliant minds of the past were very messy/outwardly disorganized people. Albert Einstein said if a cluttered desk is an indication of a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk indictate. (Roughly paraphrased quote.)

On this I rest my case.

Did my proclivity for a cluttered desk help my image/reputation in the business world? (Can't. Stop. Laughing...)

But now I'm my own boss. It's working for me. Mostly. So I'm not about to change and am trying, really hard, not to beat myself up for it.

What about you? Messy or neatnik?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The things that make us tear up

The strangest things make me tear up. I do admit that I tend to be more emotional and sentimental than even my closest friends might realize... But I surprise even myself, sometimes.

Like this morning when I picked my paper off my front porch to see this photo with the headline: Le Nouveau Pierre Trudeau.
For you Americans who might not know... Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minster of Canada for, well, most of my childhood and into my early adulthood. (With a short, less than one year break in 1979-80, he was PM from April, 1968 to June, 1984.)
And if he were still alive, he'd now have a grandson named for him. Story here. Little Pierre is Pierre-Emmanuel, not Pierre Elliott, but they both have the initials PET, initials as well known to most Canadians as JFK are to Americans.
I try to avoid politics while blogging and while many Canadians west of Saskatchewan, and east of BC, (Okay, I'm singling out Albertans, sorry), will probably take exception to this, I think PET was a great Prime Minister. Sure, I do understand why some Canadians hold him responsible for much of the divisiveness in Canada, today, but I also think he's responsible for clarifying Canadian values, for helping us understand and be proud of who we are.

Multiculturalism, Bilingualism, Tolerance, the idea that the state has no place in the bedroom, our Charter of Rights, our constitution, our relationship to the US, (to roughly quote him: sleeping next to an elephant, you're bound to get the occasional kick). Although some major Canadian defining policies (our international role as Peace-keepers and diplomats, universal health care) were enacted before he took office, these programs grew up and took root during the Trudeau years. PET took office the year after Canada turned 100 and I daresay our place in the world was largely defined during his tenure as PM.

So, seeing little Pierre today made me cry a little. (Big softie. Get to work.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What Happened to Winter?

The superstitious part of me thinks this post is a mistake. That a cold front will descend the instant I push the "Publish" button.
But it's freakin' balmy in Toronto this winter.
Okay, those of you in the south or on the coast have different definitions of balmy... But it was 10 C in Toronto yesterday. New Year's Day! That's 50 F for you 'mercans. That kind of weather is typical here in October or April, not January.
The average daily maximum for this time of year is about -1 or -2 (29 or 30F) and we often get a week in the -20's around this time of year. I'm still wearing my fall jacket. I've been sleeping with my window open a crack. It's crazy.
We do often get a "warm snap" in Dec or Jan when the temperature pushes above the freezing point and all the snow melts to a slushy mess, but the strange thing this year is that there hasn't really been a cold snap. There hasn't been any snow. We did have a week back in late November where I broke out my winter jacket, but I haven't even looked for my boots yet.
I've heard economists say that global warming is good for my home and native land... That everyone in Texas and Arizona will be baking and wanting to move north. That the wheat fields in Kansas will become desert, while more and more (now permafrosted) land in Canada's north will become fertile and more desirably habitable... And we do have something like 2/3 of the world's fresh water in Canada...
Don't know about all that. All I know is I'm going to enjoy this warm weather while it lasts!
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