Saturday, February 28, 2009

Words to live by?

Inspiration can be found in the oddest of places, in the oddest of ways.

At work, my department recently moved from the 8th to the 11th floor and got shiny new cubicles, er, rather pods (sounds a little Invasion of the Body Snatchers), complete with magnetic low-rise walls. Since we previously had bulletin boards and therefore oodles of push pins, these new magnetic walls meant pretty new magnets to affix all the schedules and charts and calendars to the walls. One of my coworkers shared her magnetic poetry with me and I selected words at random, mainly the bigger words because they were the longer magnets.

After putting up all my necessary paperwork, I found three words randomly left over that I pushed to the top of my wall. And what did these three little words say?

Beat all crap.

Sure, it's not quite Eckhart Tolle but I couldn't have planned that better if I'd tried. Not the worst accidental motivational phrase, if I may say so.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the Oscar goes to...

Approximately three months after the state of California voted "no" to gay marriage, Oscars are given to Dustin Lance Black for Best Original Screenplay for Milk and to Sean Penn for playing gay politician Harvey Milk.

Could Californians become, to quote Mr. Penn, "Commie homo-loving sons of guns"?

Live from the Kodak Theater

I don't know why I watch the Oscars every year. Sure, it's fun to look at the pretty dresses but after the various Red Carpet specials, the ceremony itself is always, well, fairly blah. Of course it would help if I'd actually seen more than two of the nominated films (I've only seen Ironman and The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger deservedly got his Oscar, complete with a very touching speech by his family).

Hugh Jackman is entertaining enough as host, but I didn't need to see Beyonce. There hasn't been a whole lot of funny in the show yet either.

Every year, I feel compelled to watch the show. I think it hearkens back to my youth, when I would beg my mom to let me stay up to watch and I'd inevitably fall asleep long before they got to the good awards but it was exciting when I was able to stay up to watch Silence of the Lambs clean up. Tonight, really, I just want Kate Winslet to win and if she doesn't, I might just walk away forever.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chick lit/schtick lit/ick lit

There's a new book coming out by German author Charlotte Roche called Wetlands. According to an article in Maclean's the book is causing quite a stir due to its graphic nature - the book is about a woman recovering from hemorrhoid-removal surgery who "boldly charts her bodily secretions and sexuality."

Awesome. More woman-produced drivel. What happened to female authors anyways? Since when did women have to write either stuff'n'fluff chick lit about shopping and getting married or nausea-inducing explicit sex lit, which apparently shows women's liberation? You know, there's a reason Margaret Atwood has been writing for 40 years and is still writing; why Margaret Laurence wrote for over 30 years; why Alice Munro has 40 years of work behind her and may or may not have retired; why Carol Shields wrote for over three decades; and why all these women have received countless awards, honours and positive criticism for years. (Hint: it's because they're good. They can write. And it's worth reading.)

At one point, in the Guinness Book of World Records, the top three best-selling books of all time were written by women:

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (what is it about women named Margaret who can write much good?)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
(Apparently in 2003, the Guinness Book of World Records became the best-selling book of all time, but I know I read about these women and their books around then, so their record must have stood until 2003.)

With this kind of history of women writers, why oh why oh WHY do we have so many Sophie Kinsella wannabes? I always considered Helen Fielding and Bridget Jones's Diary to be the starter of the chick lit phenomenon. And where is Helen Fielding's brilliant writing career? (Insert sound of crickets here.)

It saddens me greatly but I guess this is just a reflection on the nature of book publishing now. Ever since Dan Brown darkened the bookshelves of the world with the written-at-a-grade-one-level tripe that is The Da Vinci Code, publishers have been looking for the next "Da Vinci Code" or next "Shopaholic" or next "Devil Wears Prada". To me, this means it's about the quick buck and not about leaving a legacy of beautiful words and stories, of cultivating the next crop of brilliant (women) writers, of creating the classics that will be read two generations from now.

I understand that there will always be flighty, fluffy, beach-ready books out there (hello, VC Andrews and Jackie Collins) but where are the new literary voices? I really hope it's just because I'm out of touch enough with the book world to not know about them yet (since I work in the magazine industry, I could tell you more about staff changes at Rogers than about the latest and greatest from the book world) but I do try to keep up. It just feels like there's not enough material of consequence by women out there.

I've always had a bit of an aversion to chick lit, but it's gotten worse lately, mainly because I've been reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and it is just so beautifully written and engrossing and everything that The Da Vinci Code wanted to be and never was. I hope to find more books like it in the near future, written in the recent past, and to be fully enjoyed in the present, with nary a wedding dress, sale at Louis Vuitton or Vogue magazine in sight.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Making the move

It's official: I will not be homeless on March 1. I signed a lease last night for a great one-bedroom apartment in a high-rise building at King and Dufferin. With any luck I will be able to move in on February 28; this will be confirmed on Tuesday. Very very excited about this. I've always hated apartment-hunting and I'm glad I found a decent place so quickly. My fear was that I'd still be looking for somewhere to live a week before I moved and would end up taking some dump out of desperation.

Now, though, I must move forward with packing. Ugh. Overall, I'm pretty good at packing and actually don't mind the actual act of placing my belongings in boxes and wrapping mucho layers of packing tape around said boxes. It's getting the boxes that's the irksome part. I hit up Shopper's today and got a few, which is great, but I will need many many more. And before I pack, I should really go through all my stuff and determine what doesn't truly need to be "my stuff" anymore. This is something I loathe almost more than clowns. I don't know why really; there is something so liberating and refreshing about getting rid of unwanted/unnecessary/useless stuff (I have already donated three bags of clothing!) but it's just so hard to get myself motivated to do it. I guess this is where my inner procrastinator really shines through. Case in point: blogging for the first time in awhile to complain about packing instead of actually just sucking it up and packing. Bah.

Somehow it will all come together, though. Things like this have a way of doing just that.