Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Idiot Box is highly addictive

The Idiot Box, as my mother liked to call it, is a highly addictive piece of furniture, if you weren't aware. Before Christmas (I'm not sure if I mentioned) but I started watching Deadwood. I'm going to be totally honest here. I totally didn't want to watch this series. Oh, I know Molly Parker is in it, but I was pretty sure she was going to be the only girl, and given that it's set in yonder year in the wild west (or south, depending on your geography), I was certain there would be no makeup, pretty outfits, or even cute boys for her to look at, let alone kiss. I'm not saying that there must be makeup or outfits or boys and kissing in every show I watch, but well, one of the above would be helpful. As is showering, which I was sure they didn't do in Deadwood.

But, the Hubs wanted to give it a shot, and I figured I'd give it a try too since we weren't watching any shows together ever since the OC ended, we caught up in Entourage, finished Everwood and I stopped watching Heroes in Season 2 because I think it's boring.

But guess what? (I'm sure you can guess if you've watched this series), there IS a cute boy (hello Timothy Olyphant)...

(You are even more handsome when you shave. Too bad there are no electric razors in Deadwood).

There are also lots of pretty girls (well, mostly they're all hookers, but they have pretty dresses and wear makeup and everything!). Also, it's based on reality, which is cool, because that means I'm LEARNING something. Right? Well, sort of. Anyway, it's one of those shows I can't believe I didn't want to watch.

Anyway if you're rolling your eyes like I was, thinking "Ths sounds dumb dumb dumb, why is she writing about it? Why am I still reading this blog entry?" this will entice you. You know how in most shows they never kill off the main characters? Well, that's totally not what happens in Deadwood. Oh no, in Deadwood they kill off main characters in nearly every episode. Which, of course, is sad because then the characters you loved or loved to hate are gone, but good because you're always afraid someone's going to die. And who doesn't like to be afraid?! I, personally, love it. Rather than saying..."Yes, the crazy POLAR BEAR is attacking him and it looks like he can't get out of the tree trunk thingy, but he will, of course, because he's a main character. He CAN'T die."

Can you guess which OTHER series I am now now hooked on? And I said it wouldn't happen. Yes, LOST. I wasn't interested. Our neighbours kept trying to give us their Season 1 DVD but we kept saying no. Uh-uh. No way. Not interested. You can't make us watch it.

But the, before they left to go halfway across the world for Christmas, they made us take it. They said they wouldn't get on the plane if we didn't. So for the sake of their families eagerly awaiting their arrival (and the "Let's Hug it Out, Bitch" t-shirts they were bringing), we took the DVD.

After all, we didn't want to be ungrateful neighbours. But we weren't going to put it in the DVD player. Oh no we weren't.

And then, we got sick.

And lucky for LOST we couldn't make it to the video store to get Season 3 of Deadwood so we were forced to give it a shot. Because really, what else can you do when you're sick but lie on the couch?

And now, I'm hooked. We've watched 16 episodes in 3 days, and we would've watched more, if it were up to me, but the Hubs had to go to bed at like 6:30, so I had to find something else to do, which was probably a good thing since all that sitting on the couch is likely not good for my physical activity level, but it IS good for my attention span. I cannot think of ANYTHING else when I'm watching LOST. I LOVE it. The only part I don't love is as I explained above, they don't kill anyone real off (only characters you've never met before) so you're never really scared that someone might die. I think that's a flaw in the show.

Anyway, our neighbours swore we'd be hooked on Season 1 by the time they got back. I have a feeling if things don't change we could be finished all three seasons by the time they return. If only we weren't getting distracted by...

Guitar Hero 3!

When I bought it for the Hubs I thought maybe I'd play it a few times. After all, who can resist a little Pat Benetar? But the rest of the songs were so boy-ish. I mean, Alice Cooper? Social Distortion? Cream? Kiss? And who's ever heard of the band Mountain?

But then, I passed a few levels and got to play a Killers song!

And then the Stone Roses!

And Weezer!

And it seems, now, I'm a bit hooked. But the best part, really, is that the better you play, the more money you get paid, which you can spend in the store to buy CUTE outfits for your character! Without leaving the couch!

It's too bad that Guitar Hero 3 wasn't out yet when the plane crashed onto the island in Lost. Because with the wireless guitar, it totally would've kept Walt busy so that he wouldn't have to go and set fire to the raft so that now they can never get off the island. (Which, even if they build another raft I totally think whoever goes on it is going to die, because don't they know there are SHARKS out there in the ocean? And that Locke's compass is broken?). Sheesh.

Still, it would've made them happy. Just like it probably would've made everyone in Deadwood happy too, and get along and stop killing each other.

After all, who doesn't love a little School's Out?

Although I guess they would've needed a DVD player.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Three Days Grace

There are just three days left of the year, which has me feeling full of anticipation, and full of happiness. And also full of panic.

The anticipation is because 2008 is full of possibilities and successes and happiness in the making.

The happiness is that 2007 was one of the best years yet. Because my first novel came out. Something I'd worked on since 2004. When 2007 was so far away that I couldn't even fathom it. When I started writing Stuck in Downward Dog, I was still single, though happily dating the Hubs-to-be, and we had just moved into our first home that we'd bought together, after getting engaged. Then came 2005 - my favourite year yet. I got a promotion at work and the Hubs and I got married and I signed a contract with my agent and the Hubs bought me my desk, as a reward. Which is where I still sit and write on my laptop.

Then came 2006, which was thrilling and new, selling the book and working with an editor and rewriting the book and changing it to make it (what I think is) better.

Finally it was 2007. I remember this time last year thinking that it was getting so close. That in a few days it would be the year that my book came out. I had no idea what that would involve, how the final book would turn out, whether I would forget to thank anyone in the acknowledgements (as far as I know, I'm still happy with them), what the cover would look like, if anyone would review the book, if anyone would read the book (even people I didn't know did!), if anyone would hate the book (some did), if anyone would love it (some did, and to those who wrote me to tell me, I'm still touched).

Thankfully, 2007 was also a year of good health and family and friends and a job that I love and that pays me and allows me to buy tuna juice for Mr. Baz, who is also healthy.

But that brings me to panic. For the things I haven't done in 2007 that I wanted to (thankfully skydiving was not on the list since it's pouring now and who wants to skydive in the rain?) and the realization I have only 3 days left. And then there's the panic of what 2008 will bring. 2007 was so good, that maybe that means 2008 will be bad. Surely all the years can't be good, can they? Of course I know the answer to that. But the thing is, I can't do anything, not really, about the bad stuff that might happen in 2008. I can control some things, of course, and for that I'll do my best. But I can't live in fear and panic of what I can't control.

Which has me thinking about my resolutions for 2008. I'm not usually one for resolutions, but this year I'm making them achievable. Some are practical such as this one: I'm going to try to floss my teeth once a day. This seems ridiculous, I know, to astute flossers like this guy I know who flosses 4 times a day, but for me, it's a huge step, as a recovering non-flosser. And I figure, if someone can manage to floss 4 times a day, surely I can do it once. Other resolutions are a bit more sentimental: I'm going to try to live in the moment. To enjoy exactly what I'm doing while I'm doing it, rather than making lists of everything else I should be doing or will do when I'm doing whatever I'm doing. This sort of ties into spending my time wisely, and not doing things because I think I should, but because I really want to. Even flossing. I could dread it, but if I think about how it's going to stop my teeth from falling out, then I should love it, right? Okay, a little ridiculous, but still...

What are your resolutions?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What I did on my pre-Christmas vacation

Because I'm gearing up for 11 days off work (as perhaps you are, too!), I have been very busy. Like a bee, but without the sound or the stinger if you get too close. Here's why I've been busy: Because when you get 11 days off work you cannot just wait until they happen and then try to cram everything –  see friends and see no one, eat bad for you food and really good food (that you finally have time to make), do so much and do nothing at all, watch a million movies and walk a million miles, have totally fun and totally relaxing time - into 11 days. You have to prepare.

Otherwise, before you know it you've relaxed but got nothing done, or seen a bunch of people but seen no movies. You haven't done it ALL.

And I want to do it all.

Because 11 days is really not that much time at all, when you think about it. By the time you pack up the presents and drive to another city and open the presents and do the dishes and make cranberries (do you really make cranberries? Or are you really just cooking them? I suppose you're making cranberry sauce. Right. Moving on...) and sleep a bunch of times and listen to the same stories even more times and then go to someone else's house who you don't even know but your parents do and they tell you that you do and your eyes glaze over while you meet people you will likely never see again and wish you were at home instead watching a movie and then feeling guilty for wanting to be antisocial, well then half your 11 days is gone.

So... in preparation, here's what I've been doing:

...Baking a lot of cookies. And then eating them. For some reason I either thought I had way more people that I liked and wanted to give cookies to, or I just made everything really tiny, but I've got a lot of cookies in my fridge. So I've been eating them, like every day. Several times a day. Then, yesterday, I made a pie for a potluck at work and I felt my body rebelling against chocolate. I'm pretty sure this has NEVER happened before, so I'm not sure but I think what it means is that I'm officially done eating sweets. I really can't believe I'm saying it, and I offered to make dessert for Christmas dinner and at this point I'm thinking that I'm going to give everyone an orange and tell them to go nuts. (I do believe that was a mixed metaphor). Still, what this means is that I am now done one thing I usually do AFTER Christmas, leaving me much more time for other fun stuff. Like:

...Watching Biography. So far I know more than I used to about Bonnie Fuller, Mary Kay, Joe Bonnano, Robert F. Kennedy and Benjamin Franklin. I'm saving Jean Pare (you know, the spiral-bound cookbook lady) for right before I go on my Christmas open house tour. I feel it's going to be a kiss-ass 50+ conversation starter.

...Trying to figure out what the Hubs got me for Christmas. It's in a very large box, the biggest of all under the tree, and I DO believe that good things come in big packages.

...Trying to figure out if the transvestite on Dirty Sexy Money is actually a man or actually a woman...I've been thinking about this for weeks and keep forgetting to it. Aha. Candis Cayne (nee Brendan McDaniel).

...Wondering if I should start watching Lost over the holidays. My neighbour has been going on and on FOREVER about how amazing it is, and last night he said I wasn't going home until I took Season 1 with me. I'm all for TV on DVD (I'm saving Deadwood Season 3 for the holidays), but I'm just not sure about Lost. What do you think? Is it worth watching now that I'm like five years behind or will the hype spoil it?

...Waiting for the Magic Oven Pizza to open next door! First Booster Juice, now Magic Oven? My street is like a cornucopia of excellent dinner choices. Which is a good thing because this shawarma spot went out of business...

Apparently people didn't want their shawarma and their pizza too.

As my dad would say, Too bad, so sad. And more space for another Thai place!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mara goes blue...or green...or maybe stays yellow.

The big news on the Stuck in Downward Dog front is that Mara's lost weight! Well, not really (she still loves her smoothies and like any good mom I love her just the way she is) but this spring 2008, she'll be coming out in a slightly smaller version, which is perfect for carrying in your handbag! It will also be slightly less expensive (but not CHEAP! Mara's not a hoochie mama wearing clothes from one of those stores on Yonge Street that displays their clothes on the OUTSIDE of the store. Oh no she's not.). The BOOK will be cheaper - which is great news if you haven't yet bought your copy OR if you loved the book so much (or me, I'm talking to you, FAMILY! ie people with the last name GUERTIN or SIMMONS), that you want to buy ANOTHER copy of it! I think it will cost about $16.95 instead of $22.95 -- or so it says on Indigo, but with discounts and US pricing and all that, maybe it'll be like $4.00! And who doesn't have $4.00 to spend? It's the price of a cup of coffee! (OK maybe a coffee at Starbucks. Still.) It's like feeding a child in Ethiopia. Actually, if you have the choice, you should totally give your $4.00 to a child in Ethiopia. I don't mind. They need it more than Mara does -- she's just going to spend it on more smoothies.

But if you DO have more than $4.00 to spare, then you should buy the new version because there's a chance that the background colour of the cover will be a different.

I love this idea! But I want to know what you think ... so email me or leave your comments below for your top colour choice for the background. If my publisher chooses your colour, you'll be entered in a contest to win the new version of the book! And if you don't want my book, then maybe I'll give you another author's book that you like more. Like Tom Perotta's latest, The Abstinence Teacher. I'm reading this right now, and loving it. It's for my bookclub. Good choice, whoever picked it! Oh! It was me. Nevermind. That was totally conceited of me. Well, I didn't write it, so it wasn't that conceited.

Moving on. Or back. To my book. Since they're reprinting it, there's also the chance for me to fix any mistakes in the book for this new printing. And that's where you come in. Because I CANNOT bear to read the book again. I haven't read it at all since it came out. Even when I have to choose my passages to read at readings, I do so with one eye closed, and I skim the pages, getting the gist of the passage without looking close enough at the details. I don't want to find the mistakes. But I know, there probably ARE mistakes, I just don't want to know about them. Because I would feel sick. So... if you've read the book and found any mistakes, email me (or post in the comments) and let me know! And then I can tell my editor and she can fix them. And then I will feel sick, but very thankful to you for telling me.

Now, you might be wondering, What kind of changes can we REALLY make with the book? Well, funny you should ask because I was having this exact conversation with my alter ego, Chantal. So I thought I'd share it with you, and then you'll know what to look for:

Chantal: Can you change Mara's name to Maya, because I totally thought her name was supposed to be Maya and it was annoying to me while I was reading the book. Actually, it annoyed me so much I just stopped reading.

Chantel: No. Mara's name is Mara. Just like my name is Chantel, even though one time I went to an event where they give you one of those "Hello, my name is..." stickers and when I told the woman in charge how to spell my name she said, "You should spell it 'Chantal' because it would be easier for others to spell." Um, what? Leslie, Lesley. Kathryn, Katharine, Katherine, Catherine... you get the idea.

Chantal: Oh, okay, good point, I don't want to change my name to Chantel. I think that's stupid. Moving on... In the end, I wanted Mara to find a hot guy so she could just make out with him instead of going to yoga. Could you add that in?

Chantel: No. It's not about getting the guy. It's about getting a life. If I change the ending, we'll have to change the tag line. And I like the tag line. It's like my high school tag line: Holy Cross. Home of the Raiders. If we suddenly became Home of the Nuns, we would've had to change all our crests and letterhead, and likely our green uniforms to black and white ones. Besides, Mara probably will find a guy now that she's happy with herself, but I wanted to leave the type of guy up to the reader instead of telling you EVERYTHING. Because what fun is that?

Chantal: Hmmm... I really want you to change something. How about in the middle of the book when Mara "walked across the street" but it says, Mara "walkes across the street". That seems like a mistake.

Chantel: Oh no! That is a mistake! What page is it on?

Chantal: I don't know. I just made it up.

Chantel: Oh. Well say it was a mistake, then you should totally tell me, because with one eye closed, I likely won't find it. And that would suck for Mara to walkes across the street again. Even if she is thinner and cheaper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hubba Bubble Bubble Yum

In my free time, I create crafts for HGTV and Food Network. Usually, the process goes like this: the producers ask for ideas for particular sections and then I send in my ideas. Then, a few weeks later, if the producer likes anything I've suggested, she assigns me the crafts. However, sometimes I run into a problem. Because you know how when you're trying to come up with ideas, you're supposed to brainstorm right? Well, a few weeks ago, that's what I did. The producer had asked for craft ideas for kids. So, channelling my inner second-grader, I sat down and made a big brainstorming cloud and thought of all the ideas I could. But as you know, with brainstorming, some of the ideas are good, but some are bad. Very very bad.

But what makes them bad, in my opinion, is that the ideas I get assigned are usually the ones I have no clue how to make. This was the case this weekend. I even checked the email I'd sent her to ensure I had ACTUALLY come up with these ideas. I had. They were there. Now if only I could figure out how to create them.

Because the first idea was this:

Edible Christmas trees. Edible. Christmas. Trees. What was I thinking? Was I thinking that if you put a bunch of broccoli on a plate you could convince kids they were Christmas trees and they'd eat them? Was I going to decorate the broccoli trees with say, dried cranberries and Cheez Whiz?

I have no idea.

No idea what was going through my head. So instead of coming up with anything remotely healthy, I turned to sugar. Because a spoonful of sugar makes everything alright! Here are my trees. They may not be healthy, but they're cute, right? RIGHT?

Then, I moved on to a Forest in a Jar.

What?! I know.

So I started scouring the kitchen for everyday items that COULD resemble items in a forest. Unfortunately, because I don't cook, the pickings were slim. Thankfully, I bake, so there's always SUGAR in my kitchen. Voila!

Finally, I moved on to something I actually knew what it was. Only I had no idea how to make it.

Bubble gum!

Fun right? Ha. That's what you think. It turns out that you need gum base for bubble gum. What's gum base? you're thinking (or maybe you're not because you're sooooo smart). I discovered, even though you can buy bubble gum at the grocery store, convenience store, even the dollar store, you cannot buy gum base at any of these places. Oh no you can't.

But eventually, after chewing a pack of gum to manage my stress levels and with the hope that it would will the gum base gods to me, I found the gum base and made the gum. And now I have a newfound appreciation for Bubble Yum and am on a mission to stop people from chewing their gum for five seconds (until it loses its flavour) and then spitting it out. Because do you know HOW LONG IT TAKES TO MAKE A PIECE OF BUBBLE GUM?

And you thought bubble gum was just fun.