Saturday, February 28, 2015

So True readings tomorrow.

We had a rehearsal Thursday for our next "So True" reading event - 8 moving, powerful, sometimes hilarious stories, and me. So much truth for a mere $10 and two hours of your time on a cold Sunday afternoon - does it get better than that? Details on our website

Beautiful sun today despite the cold, which isn't as extreme. The city is at its most hideous, however, with mounds of filthy snow making the sidewalks nearly impassable. But I'm not complaining. "Je constate," as the French say in a most satisfying expression which doesn't have a good equivalent. I'm stating. Noting, not bitching. Because there's nothing to be done about winter and filthy snow. It is. Even if I have forbidden my Vancouver friends to talk about their @#$@ daffodils.

Last night - the second last episode of the second season of the British thriller "Broadchurch." The first season was superb, the second not so much - plot points wandering all over the map. But still, you can't beat those British TV artists for committed acting, stunning scenery, briskly moving story. Last night ended on a cliffhanger, and I realized I'll miss the finale because I'll be in Ottawa next Friday, so I went on-line to find out how it ends. Thank God for the internet, once again.

My family is mourning the demise of the great Leonard Nimoy, one of the nicest people, apparently, on this planet and any other. I am not a trekkie, I liked him because of his obvious gravitas and kindness and his humble beginnings in the Yiddish theatre and love of Yiddish. Perhaps he was in one of my great-grandfather's plays, who knows, but he certainly would have known who Jacob Gordin was. He speaks online about knowing how to play half-Vulcan Spock because of growing up Jewish in Boston - always an outsider. A lovely man.

And yesterday, Wayson held a Chinese New Year dim sum for his friends. Anna and Eli came, and Eli impressed everyone with his appetite for rice and Chinese beef. Then he and I went to the library where we sat near a sunny window and read many books. We took out one of my favourites, "The story of Ferdinand," the peace-loving flower-loving bull who refuses to fight. If only his spirit could infect our world, dear lord. If only.

Now - many lists. I leave in less than 3 weeks for my 5 week adventure in Europe, and have much to do, including my taxes. The climb to departure day always seems insurmountable. But then it comes around, and off I go - out of the crusty snow, landing in Paris. Seems a dream right now. But I'll be more than ready when it's time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Karl Ove Knausgaard discovers America

The man is a vivid, thoughtful and amusingly neurotic writer whom many can't stand - Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of lengthy introspective non-fiction volumes, disguised as novels, about every moment of his life, was invited by the NYT to drive around America and write about it. The resulting essay is engaging and hilarious, as he spends a few distraught days in a snowstorm in Newfoundland and finally gets to the States. I copied a few of my favourite bits to give you the flavour; the link to the whole article is at the end. Take your time; read it and enjoy.

In the meantime, the brutal, almost unbearable cold here continues, but at least it's sunny. So - could be worse. Today at the Y I watched a woman who must have MS make her extremely slow way down the stairs, and I resolved I would not complain about the cold or anything else. My legs work. What is there to complain about?

Here's the delightful Karl Ove Knausgaard:

When we drove out of Cleveland a few hours later, I was worried; I hadn’t seen anything yet that I could write about. To be able to describe something, you have to feel some kind of emotional attachment to it, however faint. The external has to awaken something within; nothing means anything in itself, it is the resonance it produces, in the soul and in the language, that gives meaning to the thing described. Cleveland meant nothing to me. The air was freezing, the windows of the skyscrapers twinkled, people hurried singly through the nearly deserted streets; outside a car in a parking lot lay a pile of sliced white bread, surrounded by a flock of birds. They took off when Peter opened the car door to take a picture of them; their abrupt departure was like the opening of a fan.

As we drove through the snow-covered landscape, surrounded by cars with smoke fluttering out of their exhaust pipes, under the gray-white sky, past rows of run-down buildings, interspersed with clumps of colorless trees standing in colorless fields, the feeling I got was that something here was over, that something had been emptied out and that nothing new had begun. But perhaps that was too harsh a judgment to pass on a whole country after spending three hours in it?

I’d seen poverty before, of course, even incomprehensible poverty, as in the slums outside Maputo, in Mozambique. But I’d never seen anything like this (downtown Detroit). If what I had seen tonight — house after house after house abandoned, deserted, decaying as if there had been disaster — if this was poverty, then it must be a new kind of poverty, maybe in the same way that the wealth that had amassed here in the 20th century had been a new kind of wealth. I had never really understood how a nation that so celebrated the individual could obliterate all differences the way this country did. In a system of mass production, the individual workers are replaceable and the products are identical. The identical cars are followed by identical gas stations, identical restaurants, identical motels and, as an extension of these, by identical TV screens, which hang everywhere in this country, broadcasting identical entertainment and identical dreams. Not even the Soviet Union at the height of its power had succeeded in creating such a unified, collective identity as the one Americans lived their lives within. When times got rough, a person could abandon one town in favor of another, and that new town would still represent the same thing.

Monday, February 23, 2015

for your viewing and reading pleasure

I have heard from Rosemary Shipton, who has kindly agreed to act as my editor on the new memoir, at least until she can't stand it any more and runs screaming into the night. She read a very rough first draft and had many valuable things to say. Mostly that the first half does not work - scattered, self-centred and boring, was the gist - but the second half is much better. It needs work on structure, on social, political and personal context, on tone, on character development, on plot, on focus.

Otherwise, good to go.

What a gift, what a godsend. I had reached the point where I was buried and discouraged and couldn't see the light. Now I think I can see, a bit more clearly, where I have to go and what I have to do. I could not be more grateful, even as I go back to the beginning and start again.

My student Bruno just sent this - the moving story of one immigrant family which is also the story of millions of families.
Last week I participated in a 3-day Digital Storytelling workshop sponsored by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. The link below is the result – a 2-minute video – offered for your viewing pleasure on this grey Sunday afternoon.

And a wonderful piece from the New Yorker, the confessions of a comma queen. Fascinating about the specifics of grammar - that versus which, serial commas ... I know you are hungry for information about these important matters. Read and learn. 

Oscar was wrong IMHO

It's 8 a.m. the morning after the Oscars, and am I groggy with a television-induced headache? No - because for once, I turned it off and went to bed. It was just too awful - Neil Patrick Harris, joke after stupid joke waiting for applause with a cute smile - what happened to his charm? And all those ridiculous dresses, enough already, enough enough enough. I could feel the way the night was going with all the love lavished on Wes Anderson. Perhaps I missed something - I started to watch "Grand Budapest Hotel" on an airplane and turned it off; it just seemed foolish to me, full of sound and fury - terrific sound and fury, much rewarded by Oscar, but signifying nothing. As far as I could see.

So I had the feeling that the predications would be right, that "Birdman" would overtake "Boyhood," and I was right. "Birdman" is an excellent film, despite its flaws. But IMHO it's hollow flash and dazzle compared to "Boyhood," a beautiful, honest film about being alive that took enormous patience and courage to make. In 50 years, I do not think we'll be much interested in Michael Keaton's noisy breakdown and redemption, but I do think we'll want to see an achingly true portrait of life.

I did get to enjoy the stirring "Glory" musical sequence, loved the always-classy Julie Andrews, thought the remembrance section was the best ever - beautiful artwork of those faces. And then I TURNED IT OFF. And now - off into Monday, fresh and bright. Thanks, Oscar!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Object Lesson

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Friend Suzette and I just saw an unforgettable piece of theatre: "The Object Lesson," starring and by an artist - mime, dancer, actor, magician, comedian - called Geoff Sobelle. Very hard to describe - when I heard the show was about our relationship to our stuff, I knew I had to see it. We are in a room stuffed with cardboard boxes, all labeled - "Stuff my sister doesn't want"; "CD's I might throw away" - you know those boxes, you have them too. Only here there are hundreds of them, some are opened on the floor, and before the show we are welcome to poke through. I saw one that contained a stuffed alligator.

Then we sit on various boxes and bits of furniture as Mr. Sobelle assembles his playing area, pulling lamps, a rug and furniture out of boxes - shoving audience members politely aside to do so - and our journey into memory and possessions begins. It feels as if we are travelling inside his life and his memories - he tells us about a week of his young life, a traffic light that he saw in the distance, then that much later he saw the same traffic light only now he was on the other side of it, older - and then he pulls the actual traffic light out of a box and it works, so we all sit bathed in the coloured lights he has just described. 

He puts on skates, courts a woman in the audience, and makes her a salad on a table top, chopping lettuce and peppers by stomping on them with his skates - then does a hysterical tap-dance, in skates. He gets women in the audience to empty their purses and detail what's in them. And at the end, he does an incredible, inexplicable magic trick - he pulls out a flat box, shows us it's empty, tapes the bottom carelessly, and then proceeds to pull an enormous quantity of stuff, bit by bit, from this box - showing, we soon realize, the whole span of a life. Young man on the make, young husband, then he pulls out diapers and baby toys, then bills, on and on - armloads of books, chunks of brick, and at the end pill bottles, slippers, and chunks of wiring that look like our insides. And then the lights go out. Needless to say, tears were running down my cheeks. 

An hour and a half without intermission, a show I will never forget. He asks at the end of his note in the program: "This thing that is in your hands now. This thing that is yours now. Your property. Not trash - your property. It wasn't - but now it is. It's all yours. What will you do with it all? Do you have what you need? Do you need what you have?"

For an acquisitive society like ours - for an acquisitive species like ours - those are important questions. He says, at one point, "There's a fine line between vintage and crap." Anyone who has ever been in my house knows I walk that line every day. On the way home, I passed my favourite store Doubletake - and did not go in.

Yesterday, a gloomy day of snow, I found a film I wanted to see at the library: "Get on up," a bio-pic about the great James Brown, who had a hideous childhood and became the godfather of soul, though also, as the film makes clear, a deeply flawed human being. It's a wonderful film - produced by Mick Jagger and starring fabulous Chadwick Boseman who nails Brown to perfection. The music is heaven - the actual James Brown.

Unfortunately, "The Object Lesson" ends its run today, but you can watch "Get on up" and I urge you to do so. Over and out from your talent and entertainment scout today.

Tonight, the Oscars. Every year I swear I won't watch and then I do. But this year, Downton is in the middle - some real art in the midst of the glitz. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Deconstructing "Revolver"

You know I am a Beatles geek - but last night, that geekiness went to a whole new level at a two and a half hour lecture on the album "Revolver." Yes, a lengthy power-packed presentation on a few songs, and how fascinating it was. The biggest auditorium at TIFF was completely sold out, lines of people outside waiting for return tickets, and we the lucky ones inside, listening to one of the great musical sagas of the 20th century.

Scott Freiman has spent his life, it seems, digging up arcane facts and bits of audio and videotape for our edification. He's a music engineer too, so it's not a surprise that one of the heroes of the tale is Geoff Emerick, the 19-year old at EMI who became the Beatles' record engineer because he was the only guy willing to work their ridiculously long hours and accede to their rule-breaking demands. Complicated avant-garde tape loops for "Tomorrow never knows", with its lines from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and Timothy Leary? A fatter bass line like in Motown for Paul, though the Abbey Road bosses disapproved? Ridiculous sound effects for a children's song about a yellow submarine? Done and done. All sorts of innovations with the most primitive of equipment - by today's standards, laughable.

I've heard that record countless times but have never really listened to it before. Scott's premise is that it is the greatest rock album ever, greater even than "Pepper" because "Revolver" was the last time the Beatles were truly a family still, working in intense collaboration in every way. Not long after, they were drifting much more clearly into their own spheres. (He was speaking, incidentally, of the British version of the record which has a more interesting assortment of songs. Over here we got a watered-down version. Did you know that? Now you do.)

There were all ages there, many grey heads like mine of course but lots of younger people too, including a 9-year old in a Beatles t-shirt in the front row. Listening to how the band was influenced by John Cage, Bing Crosby, Stockhausen, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder - how would the kid know who these people are? Well, let him learn. A brand new geek is born.

Scott is coming back to deconstruct "Rubber Soul." Can't wait. At the end, I gave him my book, the story of how one girl's life, way back then, was changed forever by the music. Last night, what a treat to be in a huge roomful of people with the same story.

Outside, more snow. Inside, we have water after John spent an hour aiming a hairdryer at the pipes, and now there's a small heater aimed at them going non-stop. A quiet Saturday dawns. I sent a very flawed, hideously dull and skeletal draft of the memoir to my editor Rosemary yesterday. Time to get out my old records and listen anew.

Friday, February 20, 2015


My daughter texted me yesterday midday - "Don't watch the news today." So I knew there must be bad news to do with a child or children, because that's what affects me most deeply. I couldn't help but find out about Elijah, 3 years old, somehow making his way out of his grandmother's home at 4 in the morning and freezing to death outside. The same name, just a little older than my grandson. The heart breaks. My love and thoughts to his family.

Anna thinks he was trying to go home, from what her Eli has done on a few sleepovers with relatives. She said she's thinking of getting a better lock for her back door. Please get it now, I wrote back.

While we're in this sombre frame of mind, here is a most beautiful, vital, important piece of writing, from the marvellous Oliver Sacks who has just discovered he has terminal liver cancer. How I admire his equanimity.

Deconstructing the Beatles

Last night as I went to bed late with more extremely bitter, record-breaking cold outside, a little voice said, "Maybe you should leave a little water running so the pipes don't freeze." And then I went to sleep. This morning - no water. No water for washing, drinking, bathroom, none. I'm waiting for the magical John to come over and tell me what to do. Whatever it is, it will be inconvenient and cost money, because it's my house we're talking about. Love it as I do, this house specializes in expensive inconveniences that have to do with water. My last handyman told me, after watching the series of floodings, leaks and other disasters, that in a previous life I must have offended the water gods.

And now they have completely withdrawn my privileges.

Last night, before all this, was wonderful. Friends Annie and Jim and I went to Scott Freiman's "Deconstructing the Beatles" at TIFF, an almost sold-out show full of film and sound footage and a stream of fascinating information about the early years of our boys. This man knows everything, and as I wrote to him later that night, telling him I'd bring him my book, "Your event is spectacular - your knowledge of music and history, the archival footage and tapes, the rare stuff, the detailed musical analysis, the gossip about personalities - delicious."

Yes, I am going again tonight, for a deconstruction of Revolver. It's too good to miss. Tonight IS sold out. There are a lot of fans out there, of all ages. How I wish they all knew about my book.

At TIFF I'll be able to use the bathrooms - maybe a quick shower standing in a sink.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

the Dalai Lama encounters skiing

Here is a gorgeous story for you, my friends - beautifully written, moving, and hilarious.

And Carrie Snyder has written a particularly beautiful post today, at left, called "I'm thinking about being". Keep up with these blogs, people! What do you mean, you have work and you're busy? There's reading to be done!

Speaking of the meaning of life - my daughter had an ultrasound today. Her baby is a boy, due July 15. She'd wanted a girl and perhaps was briefly disappointed, but I was thrilled. Not only will Eli have a little brother to play with and a mother who has all the equipment a little boy needs, but, I wrote to her, "There are lots of wonderful women in the world but too few men. It's your calling to raise two good, loving men for the planet."

I hope that helped. Welcome to life, little man. It's a difficult and marvellous world out here. I can't wait to meet you. Well, no, I take that back. I can wait. Take all the time you need.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dave Barry on "Fifty Shades of Grey"

My eyes are still damp with tears ... of laughter. As everyone not on planet Mars knows, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey opened this week. This book has sold millions and millions of copies all over the world. It's unreadable - I know, because I tried. And yet women adore it and now it's an extremely successful film. Is this fair? Hell no, but there you go. Trust the wonderful Dave Barry, one of the funniest men in the world, to make sense of it all for us. Read him so you can weep too.

And here are clips from the SNL after party last night. What an incredible gathering. As one of the comments goes, Try not to dwell on the fact that you could have attended this party had you made different life choices. At the end, Macca is jamming "She was just 17" - and there's Dan Ackroyd on harp. Dan and I went to Carleton University together and he had a crush on me. If I'd married him, I would have been at that party too. I will try not to dwell on that fact.


It was surreal last night, the scope of the television menu, jumping from the 40th anniversary party of "Saturday Night Live" and the superb Attenborough nature documentary "Life Story", which were competing at 8, to the delights of "Downton" at 9, and then at 10 back to SNL which went on till nearly 11.30. The best TV can offer - an extraordinary documentary with close-ups of mammals, insects, fish and birds at various dramatic phases of their lives, to the best of British drama featuring Maggie Smith as vulnerable and beautiful as she has ever been, and then to what the Americans do best - celebrate themselves and throw a big extravagant party. A parade of stars, many Canucks - there was my old friend Dan Ackroyd, there were Jim Carrey, Martin Short, Mike Myers and others, and of course the whole thing produced for 40 years by Lorne Michaels. And mourning for departed greats like Gilda Radner.

Macca was much in evidence along with a lot of other famous comedians, actors and musicians who used to be young and are no more; he played and sang and didn't sound great, I know. But he looked wonderful and there he was. Paul Simon who's even older also sang and didn't sound great but we were just as glad to see him. "Nobody retires in America," said Richard who was watching with us. Incidentally, someone who did sound great was Miley Cyrus, who was actually wearing clothes and did a gorgeous cover of "Fifty ways to leave your lover."

Today there's an article in the NYT about an intimate concert the tireless Macca gave the same day, extolling his sweet musicality. So true.

It was a relief to spend the evening in front of the TV because the day was hectic. It was unbelievably cold - so cold that on my brief sortie outside, my eyeballs burned. I do not remember Toronto ever being so brutally, viciously cold. The real pleasure of yesterday was welcoming my housebound daughter and her son for a day of frolic at Glamma's. We read, we drew, we played hide and seek, which consisted of sitting on the sofa with a blanket over our heads while Mamma roared around - "Where could they be? Are they under the piano? No!" - while Eli giggled and squirmed and then, after she'd flung off our  blanket and he'd screamed with joy, saying, "Again!" And we put the blanket back over our heads and hid again.

But the best was going on safari. I found him a small pair of binoculars and another pair for myself, and he asked if I'd get on the Plasma car behind him and we'd go find treasure with our "noc-lears." So I did. We found some chocolate left over from Christmas - treasure indeed.

Happy Family Day to one and all.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Let It Be

Just back from "Let it Be" - a Beatles tribute event. I read the reviews which were glowing before buying a ticket. Four guys who look vaguely Beatle-esque - the guy playing John looks and sounds uncannily like him, in fact, and at times also looks uncannily like Yoko Ono though luckily does not sound like her. Anyway, what matters is that they are extremely good musicians - guitars, piano, drums, vocals - and they played everything live. There was a fifth Beatle, the George Martin guy, in the background playing synthesizer, all the extra sounds like cellos, sitars and full orchestra that they made in the studio. So we got to hear not only early stuff but the later music the Beatles never played live - and these guys did a fabulous job.
The Sgt. Pepper segment
After the Abbey Road bit when John had changed out of his white suit into the army jacket he wore later - and yes, "Paul" in his grey suit was barefoot.

What it reinforced is simply what a superb band they were from the start till the end - tight, always innovative, vocally adventurous and rocking. The highlight of the second act was "While my guitar gently weeps" which has never been a fave of mine but which exploded here. Great great music, warming us on the coldest day of the year. Minus 12 but with the windchill, minus 40. Ye gods.

This was my Valentine's present to a certain woman of whom I've grown rather fond. She looks quite a bit like me. In fact, she IS me. Rock on, my darlings.

why marriage ends

Article in yesterday's Star titled "In hindsight, would you still have married your spouse?" It's about the fact that the very attributes that attract you to someone are sometimes the things that drive you mad after a while. They cite two examples; reading them made me wince. Because they're an apt description of some reasons for the demise of my marriage:

You saw her at a party and were immediately attracted to her magnetic personality. She was the life of the party and you were honoured she spent most of the evening with you. You began dating and said she was always fun to be around. But now that you're living together, you're not so happy to be in her shadow and call her a show off. 

You admired his work ethic. He started at the bottom and proved his worth to the higher ups. You respected that he put work ahead of play and liked that he appeared stable and secure. Now you're married, you argue about how many hours he devotes to his work. You feel you're less important and never his priority. There's very little time for play and even then, it's not much fun.

Nailed it.

However, there's always hope.

white men with guitars=love

Here's a Valentine's Day gift for you all: an amazing assembly of our favourite musicians - George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and more, plus Bob himself - singing Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages." Heaven. Have a wonderful day. I wish you music.
And - what can we say to the following but YES?

Friday, February 13, 2015

We all love Jon. Sun News, not so much.

Oh, the outpouring about the departure of Jon - every news outlet, pundit, columnist, magazine ... it's heartening to know how many admire this fantastic human being. As they all say, it's bizarre that a comedian is the most trusted voice to deliver the news in America, but it's so. Jon Stewart is a wise guy - and the main word is wise.

In further good news, Canada's Sun News network has gone belly-up. The right wing's attempt to create a Canadian Fox "News" is over. How great is that? We all fear that Harper has shoved Canada far to the right - but not so far that it embraced shrill alarmist dogma and Ezra Levant's hysterics. I'm proud of us.

In bad news, this embarrassing idiot still seems for some incomprehensible reason to be here.

The Moth versus So True

Those of you who've read my blogs for awhile know I am a huge fan of the Moth, a competitive storytelling series hugely popular in New York and L.A. I managed to catch two of their events in NYC and felt truly at home in a group of storytellers, my people. The book that came out of the Moth is packed with powerful true tales. Exactly, 100% my kind of thing.

For years, I wished for something similar here; the various local events are just not the same. So I started my own - So True, life stories well written, well told, a tri-annual storytelling event: Our event is limited, though, to writers who've worked as students with me. I'm the curator, the editor, the tsarina, and I don't apologize for the event's lack of democracy.

So learning that the Moth itself was coming to Toronto, with opportunities for all local storytellers, I was thrilled. But then disappointed. First, it's expensive - $45 for a ticket, when the American shows cost $10, as does So True. Why so much higher here? And then I heard the host would be Ophira Eisenberg, a longterm Moth host from New York, and the five readers were TBA.

I'm sure they do not mean to be offensive - the Moth folks are wonderful people. But in bringing their American storytelling event to Canada - so typical! - they are charging more than four times what they do at home, bringing in their own host rather than hiring a local person, and not revealing who the tellers will be. I objected vehemently and did not buy a ticket.

The event is now sold out. It's fantastic that storytelling is a hot ticket. I hope that if the Moth stays in Toronto, that hot ticket will be less expensive, a local person will host, and local storytellers are advertised and become well-known.

In the meantime, have I got a great storytelling event for you! It's not sold out, and it costs only $10 for eight Toronto (or vicinity) writers, EIGHT fantastic true stories and then one from me. I could not be more proud of each reader, and I guarantee, these will be the best stories you've ever heard, or your very small $10 back. (And for my own bit, I think I'll wear my new embroidered coat.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

my new coat of many colours

Forgot to mention yesterday - on the way home from the film, I dropped into Doubletake, another of my many addictions. It has been a long time since I found a genuine treasure there - there's a great deal of competition for limited resources, and my goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible, so am not taking the necessary time to troll. But - this caught my eye. Beautifully embroidered in China, silk I think. A tiny bit small, but I'll make it work. $14.

Please invite me somewhere I can wear it. Don't you think it needs a Louise Brooks haircut, bright red lips and a cigarette holder?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Days, One Night

Met friend Ken at TIFF to see the movie, a welcome escape from the harshness of winter. He and I share a love of France with a healthy scepticism about the French - so this was the perfect movie for us, a beautiful film by the Dardennes brothers, with the kind of slow pace that only a French (or Belgian, in this case) film can get away with.

What is most extraordinary about the film is Marion Cotillard, one of the greatest actresses alive today and justifiably nominated for an Oscar for this film. Her Piaf was unforgettable. Here she plays a very ordinary woman, a Belgian factory worker who was away from work due to depression and, about to return, finds out her co-workers were given the choice of letting her go or receiving a 1000 euro bonus. She has been let go. She's a difficult character and there's no sugar coating her depression, her self-pity, her slide into despair - despite the most loving and attentive husband in the world. I just wanted to give her a shake. Though I know that's what depression is - a catastrophic absence of hope.

And yet she rallies. The film is a journey into the heart of human generosity and kindness and its opposite. In the end, the filmmakers seem to be telling us, we're 50-50 good and bad, kind and mean, generous and selfish. But there's hope. There is kindness and courage and love, and so there's hope.

I laughed at the end, thinking of what an American director would have done with this script. First, the actress would always have been made up and gorgeous, whereas Cotillard, stunning though she is, is always wearing the same tank top and jeans and no makeup. She's an infuriating character, very real. The ending is as happy as a defeat can be. Life is complicated.

It's not the kind of film I'd say, rush right out now and see it, like The Backward Class. But it's the kind that will stay inside, lodged in my heart.

And ... my friends are being gentle and kind. It's as if there has been a death in the family, the announcement from Jon Stewart. People know how much he means to me. I adore him, and the hole in my life, in countless lives, will be vast. However, as my friend Angus just wrote on Facebook about Jon - "The king is dead. Long live John Oliver!" Step up to the plate, John. We beg you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

NOOOO - Jon, say it isn't so!

There are times that feel like a reward for being alive, and today was one. After a terrific class at U of T, I took the subway to Lansdowne and met Anna and Eli in the biggest Value Village on the planet, surely - SO MUCH STUFF! Amazing toys, children's clothes, women's clothes, chachka's - mmm. I've avoided Value Village but if I happen to be over here again, I will make a point of checking out this one.

Anna had a gift for me - she was at her drop in centre today which has a donated clothing depot, and there she saw - two Paul McCartney concert t-shirts! Which she picked up for moi. Be still my beating heart.

And then we went across the street to Gaslight, Sam's new bar/resto. It's really simple, very plain decor, a warm, unpretentious, narrow little space. And it's wonderful. The food was fantastic, everyone was friendly, the owners came over to tell us how much they love Sam - "We do too," I said. At one point, Eli sat at the bar next to the owner, sipping chocolate milk from a straw. A cool two-year old in the coolest new place in T.O. As we ate, I sat between my two favourite males on the face of the earth, one very tall, one very small, both adorable. Lucky me.

Home to sadness however - my third favourite man on the face of the earth, or close, anyway, is retiring! Great grief. What will I do at 11 each night? Jon, how can you do this to us? We need you!

And - another scientific article with proof that writing about your own life and truths is good not only for your mental health but your physical health as well. I should call my classes "Heal with Beth."

Monday, February 9, 2015

Book City on the Danforth, I love you

Just had a meeting with my editor, who's going to read a first, very preliminary draft of the 1979 memoir in a few weeks. Something to aim for, a goal, a pair of eyes and a great brain to help me see what I'm doing. A good editor is a midwife later, but earlier, she's a flashlight - here's your path through the darkness. She's a gardener - prune here, plant here. She's a ... that's enough.

She asked how the Beatles memoir is doing and I told her - not very well, as it has had almost no press. We talked about how very hard it is, even with a big publisher, but especially when you are self-published, to get your books noticed. At least, a certain kind of book. She had been to a conference where a self-published mystery writer told the group she makes over $200,000 a year from her books.

Ha. Ha.

But most, the vast majority of writers do not make enough to live on, if anything at all. That's just the way it is, particularly now the digital world is taking over and no one knows what the rules are.

ON THE OTHER HAND: I just had this very welcome email from an old friend.
I saw your book, All my loving, with all the new releases in the Book City at Carrot Common on the Danforth. Just saw it this morning. The green cover with la tour Eiffel  and two clasped hands just popped. Was very happy to see it. 
Congratulations and Happy freezing cold new year.
Thrilling, you have no idea! How did All My Loving get to Book City, one of the best (and only) independent bookstores left in town? I must go and visit it. Hello, little book - how did you make your way over here? So glad to see you out in the world. Do your best to fly away.

Thank you, Book City, for giving this writer such an unexpected boost in the middle of February.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Professor Jennifer Lopez

Can't resist sharing this: a clip from the new Jennifer Lopez movie, in which, apparently, she is a teacher of classical literature. We know she's smart because she wears glasses. This clip is hilarious.

enjoying Facebook

My 6' 8" son and his friends on Facebook, below. People complain about FB, but I love it - my son's posts make me laugh out loud, and my daughter posts pictures of her son or rants about politics so I know what's going on in her life. I spy from across town. Hardly ever post myself but I enjoy following you, all 109 of my friends. Only 109 friends? Am I not a friendly person?!

Sometimes I use big words I don't understand to make myself sound more photosynthesis.
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