Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cottage country without the cottage

I  just got home from five days in the wilderness. I have a black fly bite on the top of my head. I thought it was a tumor, but it's itchy. Then I found a similar one behind my ear and another on my leg, so I figured, what are the odds I went to the country and got three tumours? I mean, I'm not exactly Wilderness Woman, but that's crazy.

Highlight of the trip: My sister's boyfriend, Crocodile Dundee (he's Australian), telling a story about a PAWN shop at dinner. The rest of us, staring at him in alarm, thinking that he's talking about a PORN shop in front of my father. 

Second-place highlight of the trip: After my husband leaves to head back to the city for work, Crocodile Dundee breaks out his tighty blacky bathing suit - the one that makes my husband squirm - as a joke. While tanning without my glasses (leaving me near-blind) I see Croc walk past me,  the tighty shorts in my face. I almost grab his butt as a joke, then notice that he's wearing a bright orange sun hat I've never seen on this trip. I refrain from the butt-grabbing, put on my glasses and realize it's an 80-year-old man. Croc is not impressed and begins doing situps with fervour. 

Friday, June 20, 2008

Wanna buy a book?

Over at my publisher-mate Louisa McCormack's site, she's written one of the funniest blog posts I've read in months, about how people react when they find out you wrote a book. Many want to know who your publisher is, more than what the book's about. I guess they just want to make sure you're not going to say Simmons Publishing and that someone – ANYONE – other than your husband or parents thinks that it's a valid book. Fair enough. Can I really blame them? It's actually an easier question to answer than the other popular one: "What's an upside-down dog?"  

My favourite part is when someone says "Oh, I'll take a book, if you want" as though I've got too many zucchinis in the garden and I've already made enough zucchini bread to last a lifetime and what on earth am I going to do with the rest of these tubular squashes, so thank you for saying you'll take one! 

My favourite reaction, though, when I tell someone that I don't have any copies of my book lying around (since it's not like they're Girl Guide cookies) but that they're at Indigo or Chapters, is one of distress or confusion, like I've just told them that they'll have to drive to an island in the Arctic and catch a fish then feed it to a polar bear without getting attacked if they want a copy of my book. So then, I usually end up feeling so badly that I'm inconveniencing them that I offer to pick up the book for them. To which they usually always agree. And then I cannot possibly ask them to pay me back (so NOT Emily Post-like), so then it ends up being a gift, and I slip the receipt into my Taxes file and try to forget about it until Tax Time when the Hubs asks me just how many times I've bought my own book at Indigo – and why. 

A lot of times, okay? What's it to you? It's a write-off anyway, right? Then I bribe him with chocolate-covered peanuts so he won't make fun of me.

I don't actually mind buying my own book. I thought maybe it would be embarrassing if the bookseller noticed it was me on the back of the book, and then he'd be all like, "Oh no one else buys your book so you have to,  huh?" But I think that's being a little narcissistic on my part. I've written ONE book. Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts I'm not. Also, it's clear that makeup and airbrushing does wonders to make the girl on the back of my book look like some long-lost relative of mine, and not me. 

One time, however, the bookseller actually commented: "Good book. Pretty funny."

I wanted to leap over the counter and hug him. I didn't. But oh how I wanted to. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Emily Giffin!

Last night, my friend Marissa and I went to see Emily Giffin at Indigo. We'd been planning it for weeks because we both LOVE her with capital letters and want her to be our BFF. As you know if you read this blog, she is my favourite. author. ever, so I couldn't wait to meet her. 

I captured the event in pictures...

When we arrive, we see the sign announcing her signing. As I am taking a picture, the Indigo manager comes over to ask if we were doing a photojournalism assignment for high school. We decide we love him. Of course, Marissa is a bit of a scandal, being pregnant and all.
When we go to find a seat, however, we see that they're all taken! So, we have to go far, far, back in the store, behind this rope. It may be velvet, but we are very sad that we'll be so far away from Emily...

But then, the Indigo manager rushes over and says "You can't stand there! You're pregnant! Come with me!" Then he whisks Marissa and me away to the FRONT ROW - where there are 5 chairs with these RESERVED signs on them!

Little did he know that being eight months pregnant is a breeze for Marissa. High heels? No problem!

What was a problem, however, was the LCBO, directly across from our seats. 
"I can't sit here!" Marissa says to me. "I can't stare at the wine! It's too distracting! I'm going to want to drink!"
I tell her she's being ridiculous. (Of course, I drank wine with dinner beforehand, while she stared longingly and sipped San Pellegrino. I'm a horrible friend). 

But then, we see how close we're going to be to Emily, and she forgets all about the wine. 

We are VERY happy in our front row seats. 

Then, we realize that we'll be first in line to get our books signed, so we should buy our books now, before the event starts. I go first, so that Marissa can save our seats as I'm paranoid that I'm going to get thrown in the back for not being pregnant. When I come back, I give her my Indigo discount card to use. When she returns, I ask for it back. She stares at me blankly, then tells me she put it in her wallet. She blames it on pregnancy brain. Then she offers me her blue credit card instead. I like pregnancy brain a lot. I'm already dreaming of the new shoes I'm going to buy with my Marissa Trust Fund. 

Finally, Emily appears on stage. She starts to tell this funny story about her friend and this guy that she liked who "got away." Then she says how he was so cute, "sort of like that guy in the back" and points to a guy who's behind the velvet rope (where we were supposed to be) and then she realizes that THAT's the guy. Everyone turns to stare at the guy. He's very cute. He turns beet red because 100 girls are staring at him. 

When Emily takes questions, Marissa says she's going to ask her which of us she wants to be BFFs with. She doesn't end up asking her (because obviously Emily would want to be BFFs with both of us) but when she goes up to get her book signed, Emily asks Marissa what she's going to name her. Marissa says, "Emily." Emily says "Really?" excitedly. Marissa says, "No. Not really." Emily still signs Marissa's book. Then, she signs my book and I tell her that she inspires me to be a writer. She asks if I wrote a book and I tell her and she says she wants to read it. The Indigo Events Coordinator remembers meeting me at BookExpo and says he'll give her a copy!!

I'm sure she'll be too busy to read it (she has not only published 4 books in 5 years but she also is a mom of THREE!) but I'm still so flattered that she would even say she wanted to read it!!

Then we wave goodbye to the Indigo manager and head home from one of the best days ever. 

The end. 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Secrets and Lies

What's a lie? 

James Frey, Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris all have new books out this summer – so Entertainment Weekly checked in with the latter author to find out why he's been able to escape the "you're lying" accusations, when the other two haven't. Recently, in an article entitled, "This American Lie", The New Republic writer Alex Heard wrote: "With some of his stories, especially the early ones, like in Naked...he’s taken every liberty a fiction writer [does]. It makes the story very funny, but also makes it something you shouldn’t call nonfiction.” 

Responds Sedaris: "I’ve said a thousand times I exaggerate. Why is it news when somebody else says it?”

Maybe that's the trick. Call it what it is before anyone else can. In any case, Sedaris is very funny. So what if he exaggerates? I think the stories are funny because of the way he tells them. If I suddenly found out that they were about some fictional kid named "Ben" and not him, I don't really think I'd care. It's the same way that people are constantly asking Stuart McLean if he is "Dave" in The Vinyl Cafe series. He insists he's not, but that doesn't make us love Dave any less.

I think people just don't like to be duped. They want to know what they're reading - and if it's a good story it's going to be a good story whether it's truth, fiction, based on or inspired by true events. Anyway, it made me wonder, is Frey really a good writer? His most recent book is outright fiction and not at all based on any events in his life, so if it succeeds (and it's already a bestseller), then it would have to be because he's a good writer, no? 

I didn't read A Million Little Pieces. At the time of the incident, I refused to support him. But when I heard about his latest novel, I decided to go back and read A Million Little Pieces, to see what I thought, now that it's been a few years. I wondered what I would think of the story as a novel. And you know what? It's not that bad. Sure, if I had read it thinking it was fiction and then at the end found a disclaimer saying the book was true, I'd probably have loved it even more. But I'm a sucker for a true story or any movie that's even remotely based on or inspired by real events.  And isn't that all A Million Little Pieces is? A story inspired by true events? And in that case, it's a pretty good one. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Shot at Love on The Bachelorette...

Are you watching The Bachelorette? This season is SO good. I think the network figured out that not even the most faithful Bachelor addict can tune in for 25 weeks or whatever it used to be, so in this season all the episodes are TWO HOURS and DeAnna sends home THREE guys each week! It's DRAMA with capital letters, let me tell you. This week, she totally lost it with the guys, who -- aside from my boyfriends Jason and Jeremy -- were being IDIOTS.

As an aside, if you are watching A Shot at Love this season, don't you think that Kreepy Kyle and The Bachelorette's Jeremy look a lot alike? Weird.

Kreepy Kyle


I think Jeremy's the keeper of the two, based on his choice in women to marry. I mean, which girl would YOU want to bring home to meet your mom?


Tila ...



But nevermind, both girls want to find love, and so do Kyle and Jeremy. As do all the other boys on The Bachelorette and A Shot at Love. Who are we to judge? Oh come on, we have to judge! That's the point of the show!

On Tila, I think that Brittany's going to win. Even though she said she HATES needles, she got a belly button piercing to show her love for Tila.

"I know I said I HATE piercings so getting my belly button pierced would seem like it was a BIG deal, so just pretend you didn't notice that I already have my lip pierced."

On The Bachelorette I think Graham's going to win.

"I can't be bothered to shave or wash my hair and I don't want to kiss you and I sulk a lot, but I love you, DeAnna...."

Jason is my favourite. Even though he's so sweet (He's a little like Matthew Broderick, no?) and she likes to play tonsil hockey with him and snuggle with him she's not going to pick him because he's a single dad and I think DeAnna wants a fresh start at making a family and to be the guy's only focus for a while, at least. Jeremy will be close - also a kissy-face contender, and she likes Jesse but he's too un-suitable for her, with his crazy sneakers and colourful jackets and shaggy hair. Also he's a pro snowboarder. How long is THAT going to last? Then what? Sneaker salesman? Anyway, her loins quiver for Graham, so even though he's acting like a bit of a dinkhead, she's going to choose him. At least, that's what I think. What do you think?

In the meantime, here's some things the boys need to learn. Really, all boys - on a reality show or not - could use these tips.

1. When a girl's around, don't play some stupid drinking game with the boys and act like a jerk. She's not going to be impressed.

2. When the girl wants to kiss you, don't get mad at her because she's kissing other boys (and girls) too. That's the point of the show. Okay, I guess in real life you can get mad if your girlfriend's kissing a billion people.

3. Don't tell a girl that she's a redneck. Even if she's from the south, it's an insult.

4. When you get alone time, don't talk about how you "really feel a connection" and "really hope" she'll "save a" place in her heart/rose for him/spot on her list/chance to get to know eachother better. Talk about something real. Ask her a question! Sigh.

5. When a girl wants to know how romantic you can be, DO NOT talk about roses. DeAnna gives away a billion roses over the course of the show. Roses are not romantic. They are a prop. However, when it comes to Tila, tattoos are apparently romantic, even though she has 17 already. So go ahead, get a tattoo. Or a piercing. Whatever.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday at the Movies

I can't stop thinking about Sex and the City. Didn't it just feel like you had a DVD in, and it was episode after episode and then when it ended you thought, Oh, I'm sad, but I'll just get up, get a glass of Diet Coke and some jujubes and then pop in the next DVD only there wasn't a next DVD to pop in?

That's how it felt to me. It made me sad.

A side note: I love this Charlotte T-shirt....

Speaking of DVDs and sadness, I've been a run of tearjerkers and not at all by choice. I recently rented The Kite Runner. When it came out, I didn't want to see it because I had just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini's followup) and I felt I needed a bit of a break from Afghanistan. Of course, is there ever really a break from Afghanistan? The soldiers certainly can't say, "You know, I'd like a break from Afghanistan now. Mind if I head to Miami for a week?" or even, "I think I'd like to pop in a DVD now and have a Diet Coke and some jujubes."

We should all be so lucky.

Side note #2: I tried to find a picture of a soldier drinking Diet Coke. I couldn't find one so clearly, they aren't getting any Diet Coke. I did, however, find a Hebrew Diet Coke...

And Diet Coke with Vitamins!

And Antioxidants!

Anyway, I forgot all about The Kite Runner for months until I saw a preview on another DVD and it looked so good. And it was. But it was also so sad. You know that type of sad that you just want to stop watching because it hurts so much to be so sad? That's what it was like to watch the movie. I watched it twice. The sad factor was doubled the second time around.

My PVR doesn't provide much respite from the sadness either. On TCM back in January, they had 31 days of Oscar and I taped many a classic I'd never seen. Everytime we want to watch something, we scroll through the list. They're not exactly light n' fluffy movies, so oftentimes we opt for Tila Tequila or The Paper instead...(gasp!). But every so often we watch one of the movies, and so far, I have not been disappointed. Last night we watched A River Runs Through It with a very young, post-Thelma and Louise but pre-everything-else-he's-ever-done Brad Pitt. It's author Norman Maclean's memoir - and I love a true story.

My favourite of the 31 Days of Oscar flicks so far though is On Golden Pond. Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda in his final film role. I think I cried for about two hours after the movie ended. Katharine Hepburn also has some excellent fashion sense. She is exactly how I want to look when I'm on the shuffleboard circuit in 50 years.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I like this book, you like that book.

One of my girlfriends recently asked me for a few book recommendations. She's a new mom on mat leave, and her new plan is to read for a couple of hours every day while the baby is napping. This is really two accomplishments in one: the first, that she has gotten her baby to nap for long enough to do anything and two, that she's going to attempt to do anything. I'd probably just sleep or watch TV. Anyway, I got to thinking that even though I love reading, it's hard to recommend books to friends. Just because you are friends doesn't mean you like the same sort of books. One of my other friends and I have come to a realization that although we love the same clothes, magazines and even desserts, we do not like the same kind of books. I like books that are rooted in reality. She likes ones based in fantasy and history. Whenever we have lent out a book and can't remember to whom, we know it's not each other.

I find it hard to take book recommendations from friends before I know if they like the same sort of books as I do because it's awful when they say "I just read the most amazing book. You'll love it. I'll lend it to you." And then they do. And then I hate it. And then I don't know what to say. Even though we're all allowed to have our own opinions, I always feel like I'm insulting someone.

My favourite place to get book recommendations is Amazon or Indigo. If you click on a book that you loved, it'll tell you what books other people who bought the book you loved also bought. (Got that?).

For example, if I click on Remember Me?, by Sophie Kinsella, which was one of my two favourite books so far this year, I get this list:

Love the One You're With, by Emily Giffin - which is my other favourite book this year.
Certain Girls, by Jennifer Weiner - which is the followup to Good in Bed, and which I want to read.
Baby Proof, by Emily Giffin - which I loved.
Shopaholic & Baby, by Sophie Kinsella - which I did not read because I have Shopaholic burnout.
Cocktails for Three, by Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella) - which I actually just BookMooched and am going to read. I actually mooched the book twice by mistake, so now I have two copies. I hope it's doubly good.

Speaking of BookMooch, someone tried to mooch Stuck in Downward Dog from me even though I didn't have it listed for mooch. I thought it was pretty ingenious though. I mean, what better source than the actual author? Which made me realize that, like Amazon and Indigo, you can also get recommendations for other books to mooch that you might like, based on the books you have already mooched. And then I thought: what if I click on my own book? I mean, I wrote it, so surely it must be a book that I would read. So what other books might I like?

But when I clicked on the Recommended List, it read like this:

Wicked Widow, by Amanda Quick
Master of Wolves, by Angela Knight
Highlander Unchained, by Monica Mccarty
Kissing Sin, by Keri Arthur.

What? Wicked widows, wolves and Scottish people? These don't sound at all like books I would read. I felt very sad like maybe I don't even understand my own book. So I went back to Indigo, typed in my novel and came up with this list:

Frenemies, by Megan Crane. I loved this book.
The Last Summer of You and Me, by Ann Brashares. Also loved this book.
Queen of Babble in the Big City, by Meg Cabot. I'm addicted to Meg's blog and have read the first in this series, but not this one.
The Men I didn't Marry: A Novel, by Janice Kaplan. I haven't read this one, though it sounds cute. The author also wrote The Botox Diaries, which sounds like a textbook for my day job.

Anwyay, I feel a bit better. So while BookMooch is great for free books, I think its recommendation list gets a little muddled simply because you can't get all books all the time and also some givers make you mooch 2 other books from their list just to make shipping worthwhile. I've found myself in this situation before. In one case, the giver was a 54-year-old man with a clear love of trains, vampires and Harlequin romances. I'm not sure why he had a Marian Keyes book on his list, but he did. As a result, I ended up with my Marian book and two Fabio covers. Then again, when I clicked on Shopaholic, it suggested The Kite Runner. Which aren't anything alike, but which I liked equally, for different reasons, seasons and moods.

So maybe Marian and Fabio do go together after all. Like PB&J. Who knows.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Beauty Tuesday: Obi Wan Kinoki

Have you seen the infomercial for these?

The other day, the Hubs went to the mall to renew our license plates. He came home with the Kinoki Detox Foot Pads. "The registration kiosk is beside the As Seen On TV store," was his justification.

Secretly, I was so excited to try them. I feel like anything that's Seen on TV is a scam of some sort. But I really wanted to believe these would work. I mean, who doesn't want to get the toxins sucked from the soles of their feet while they sleep?

Here's what you do. You take one sticky strip and attach the detox pad, then stick it to the sole of your foot, then repeat on the other foot. Then you put socks on so the toxins don't get all over your sheets. You wear them all night. In the morning you remove the pads. They're brown, disgusting and smelly. And so, so satisfying because you think you're pulling the toxins right out of your body.

Apparently, you're supposed to keep using the pads every other night until they're not as dark anymore (ie you're toxin-free). We used the pads for one week, until we ran out of pads. They were still turning brown.

"We must be really toxic," the Hubs said. I agreed. That must be it.

I bought another box. At the As Seen on TV store, I asked the guy behind the counter if he thought they really worked.

"For sure," he said convincingly.

"Have you tried them?"

"No, but a guy who works here swears by them. He used them for like a month."

"A month? But each box is only a two-week supply. You're supposed to be toxic-free by the end of the two weeks."

"I guess he was really toxic."

"So did the pads run clear by the end? Is that why he stopped using them?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"Aren't they supposed to run clear?"

"I'm not sure. I don't think they ever get totally clear."

"Then how do you know when you're toxin-free?"

"Um, I'm not sure..." He started to look uncomfortable, like I might not want to buy the box anymore. But he was wrong. I was determined to prove that these weren't a scam. Because really, I wanted to believe that they work.

We applied the pads every other night for another week. Still brown and smelly.

"I think we need to wet one and see what happens," the Hubs said.

But I didn't want to. Because I knew what was going to happen.

We poured water from the tap onto a fresh pad. It turned brown.

"I guess the water must be toxic," I declared.

Even so, we're still wearing the pads. We're addicted. We call them Obi Wan Kinokis because it's fun to say and they're fun to use.

I just watched this report on 20/20. They found some lead in the used pads they tested. They're not convinced it came from testers' feet, but perhaps just from their apartment floors. I'm choosing to believe the lead was just one of the toxins released into the pads from the testers' feet. Call me an optimist, but I like the pads. They make me feel good and like I'm being healthy. It's a small price to pay. I know I should stop but I can't.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Yesterday, the major highway that we take to go golfing was closed for the Ride For Heart event. I did not know this because at 6:30 am on a Sunday I can barely manage to put on two socks that match and brush my teeth, nevermind turn on the radio and listen to the traffic report. However, when we discovered this, we immediately tuned into AM 640 on the car stereo. Why? We can see it's closed. We can see the bikes. There are pilons blocking the on-ramp. What more do we need to know? I don't know, but I'm addicted to up to the minute reports on the ones. It was all worth it, though, because we learned, by listening, that the bikers in the event raised 3 million dollars. That's a lot of money for a morning of pedal pushing.

I was happy. Then I was sad, because I remembered I don't have a bike because the first bike I got when I came to Toronto got taken away by the city after the lock froze in the winter and then the street cleaners cleaned it off the sidewalk before I could figure out a way to gnaw off the lock and free it from the bike stand. Then my second bike was stolen from our parking garage by a very mean person. I would get a bike but walking is cheaper, and also, when it rains or is windy or I'm wearing cute shoes or have gone shopping, I have a tendency to leave my bike and take the subway home and then I forget about my bike and have to go back another day to get it. I don't think I deserve to have a bike. I'm not responsible enough. So I cannot ride a bike in bike month. But maybe I will ride my imaginary bike. Or the stationary bike at the gym. We'll see.

So anyway, on our detour we passed a church, whose sign out front read:

"Someday is not a day of the week."
That made my day. It's almost as good as the transport truck I saw on the freeway in San Diego that said:
"Jesus Christ is our Savior, not a Swear Word."