Thursday, November 29, 2007

Love, Tyra

Television is actually quite useful. It turns out that watching America's Next Model last night was time well spent.

I'm about to go for hair and make-up and a professional photograph for some of our professional "pitching" collateral. There was an entire booklet prepared to tell you how you should look and act "natural".

We're supposed to bring a prop. I'm bringing the little pink flamingo I told you about, many entries ago but I was really tempted to go out and buy one of those blow-up versions of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some fun, huh Bambi?

I've been working on some print ads for Disneyworld Resort Vacations this week.

The strong Canadian dollar means that it's now cheaper than ever to take your family of four to Disneyworld.

This is great, provided you have a family of four -- which, happily, many people do.

I am, quite unequivocally, a sucker for all things Disney. I might just adopt me three other people and take advantage of this great deal.

I've been to the parks in LA, Florida and Tokyo. The latter, incidentally, was the only place you could get both hot dogs and egg salad sandwiches in Japan. You haven't lived until you've heard the Country Bear Jamboree in rapid fire Japanese.

During our Briefing session earlier this week, we discovered that all of us, without exception, had our first brush with mortality thanks to the good people at Disney.

For the older ones, it was Bambi.

"Don't turn around, Bambi. Don't turn around." I can remember looking up at my Mother in the dark of The Bay cinema in North Bay, Ontario. Did someone really shoot Bambi's Mother?

Who can forget Travis cocking the rifle and getting ready to shoot Old Yeller? I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

The younger ones have vivid memories of a sobbing Simba pulling the paw of his dead father around his quivering shoulder.

Personally, I still haven't recovered from Dumbo's Mother's incarceration in the wild elephant jail. This scene is cited by a number of sources as one of the scariest movie moments ever.

Do you have a Disney moment to share?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Helio and Julianne 4-Ever!

Who will win the Mirror Ball Trophy? I think watching Dancing with the Stars is seriously reducing my I.Q.

Thank God it's all over tonight -- and I'll be missing it, as I'll be watching Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly watching other people in Rear Window at the ROM.

But, for those of you who find yourselves at home, tune in to watch Celine in all her chest-thumping glory.

For the ultimate in good times, get a load of this:

I don't want to give anything away, but it's Celine and Anastasia doing AC/DC. You've been warned.

Monday, November 26, 2007

There's nothing real about real estate

Staging houses is a real art form, and from the looks of things, most people spend about 20 hours a week watching HGTV.

I saw about eight places on Saturday afternoon -- not counting the two open house lofts in the Merchandise Building that were utterly fantastic and hence completely out of my price range.

About six of the places were beautifully staged. Scented candles burning. A bowl of green apples on the table (with a nod to the original Designer Guys). All clutter removed.

But, even though they were lovingly staged, the personality of the owners often shined through.

We saw a lovely place in Radio City, overlooking my alma mater, The National Ballet School. When we arrived, the two gayer-than-gay owners were just leaving. Both of them were cuter than buttons. The place was everything you'd expect -- a modern and clean design aesthetic, and fastidious attention to detail. You just KNEW these guys would have ten aneurysms a piece if you put a wet glass down on their coffee table top.

But there it was. Their personality. The shrine to Janet Jackson.

The spare room had several poster-sized framed pictures of Miss Jackson, and a triptych of Janet with her dancers during the Rhythm Nation tour. There was Janet on the wall. Janet on the mantle. Janet on the pillow sham. There was so much Janet memorabilia that I thought that one of the departing homo-owners must be one of Janet's dancers, if not the sole-White member of the Jackson Five.

We did our tour. I decided that, while nice, the unit was over-priced (a theme for the day, really) and we took the elevator down to the lobby.

Happily, the boys were waiting there.

"Hey," I said as they came towards us all hopeful and glowing, "What's the Janet connection?"

"Oh," gushed the blonde one, "I just LOVE her!"


Anyway, still looking, but optimistic.

This picture is for my BFF, who had us in stitches yesterday with his assessment of Mr. Big City Broker's marketing campaign.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Smelling like a Rosie

I read this book so you don't have to.

I picked up Celebrity Detox for a bit of mind candy between more serious reads. It took me a couple of hours to make my way through it. I'll never get those hours back.

Here are the highlights:

If you're under 4, and Rosie's child, you can take a bath with her.

Rosie calls things that bring happiness, Yellow. Barbara Streisand is Yellow. Barbara Walters is not.

Rosie believes that Barbara Walters didn't support her during the Donald Trump debacle because Barbara, like The Donald, is part of New York elite -- while Rosie, no matter how famous or rich she is, is still a working class girl.

Working class girls love the Kabbalah. Rosie has a Kabbalah teacher, like that other society maven, Madonna.

Elizabeth Hasselbach from The View was the captain of her college baseball team.

Rosie has a Craft Room in her house and she likes to podge. Incidentally, I also like to podge.

Rosie likes to use the letter "u" in place of the word "you" and "ur" in place of "your". She especially enjoys doing it in freeform poetry.

Anyone want to borrow it?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Kite Runner Flies High

For a time it seemed like I was the last person in North America who hadn't read The Kite Runner.

I'd started it a couple of years ago and couldn't get into it. It was during a particularly stressful time. I found myself reading the same sentence over and over again. All of the poetry was lost on me.

This time was decidedly different.

Don't you love it when a book consumes your life?

You find yourself thinking about it while you're standing in line at the grocery store. You get up extra early to have more reading time. You turn off the TV, to read. That's what The Kite Runner did for me. And Middlesex, a few months ago.

It's been a good reading year.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Room of One's Own

I'm going condo shopping this weekend. Hard to believe, but it's been nine months since I moved into my own apartment. I'm thinking that if I start looking now, I might just find a place before the end of my current lease.

Because I've read The Secret, and I'm all about the power of positive thinking, I'm going to put it out there. Here's my condo wish list:

A boutique building. The 80 story skyscraper is not for me. Besides, I'd be too scared of height to stand on my own balcony. I'd like a tinier building with character. Note to Universe: "Character" doesn't mean Crack Mamas living in the vestibule.

Two bedrooms. I have one bedroom now, which can feel cramped when guests (read: my Mom) comes to visit. I'd like a nice master bedroom, with a good-sized second room that I can use for an office and guest room.

A central location. I know, I know. You can get more square footage if you get outside the city a bit. But I didn't claw my way down here from Northern Ontario to live on Golden Pond. I like Lesleyville, the St. Lawrence Market area and areas east of Yonge and south of Bloor.

A soaker tub. One of the few negatives about my current place is that there's no tub. There's nothing better than a bath and good book to wash the day's troubles away.

Outdoor space. Either a balcony or a tiny yard.

High ceilings. One of my most prized possessions in my 10 foot tall bookshelf that I had custom built. It would sure be great if it fit into my new place.

Buddy friendly. Plenty of windows for optimum squirrel viewing.

And the most important thing of all:

Good energy. You know IMMEDIATELY if a place feels right. You just walk in and you know. That's what I'm looking for.

So, I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Talkies

There are only two reasons to talk to anyone while you're watching a film in a theatre.

1) You are on fire.
2) Your baby's head is emerging from the birth canal.

My BFF and I went to see the Coen Brother's most excellent film, No Country for Old Men, at the Varsity last evening.

Seated in front of us were two white hairs. Two CHATTY white hairs.

There wasn't anything that happened on screen or around them, that they didn't feel compelled to talk about, full voice, in the darkened theatre.

Most of it was completely obvious.

"The dog is dead," one would look at the other and say.

Or, "That's his wife."

Back in the 80s when I saw Gandhi, some guy used the film as an opportunity to recount the history of India for his wife. Let's just say, it's an old country.

Anyway, after about five minutes of waiting for them to wind down, my BFF leaned forward and asked them, quite nicely, to stop.

Didn't work.

More, "Where's he going?" "There's money in there."

Then, a few minutes later, I leaned in with the same request. They didn't hear me at first....because they were TALKING.

Then, finally, BFF used the tried-and-true seat kick. Worked like a charm.

By nearly propelling one of the chattier White Hairs into the screen, he managed to not only subdue her urge to talk, but probably fixed that problem she's been having with her third vertebrae.

With Granny Chatty Pants silenced -- perhaps for good -- we were left to enjoy the film.

Enjoy is an unusual word to use for this film. It's an incredible movie, but be warned. There's a high body count. But you'll be rewarded with some of the most stylish film work I've seen in a long time -- and incredible performances by Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem. Bardem, alone, is worth the price of the ticket.

If you see it, do me a favour. Don't talk about it until the movie is over.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Jennie Garth was eliminated on Dancing with the Stars last evening. There are no words.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Do you ever really know another person?

You think you know them, then they do something so out of character that you're left wondering if you ever really knew them at all. It so shakes you that you start to wonder about your own powers of observation. What defect in your character could have caused you to choose to love an individual capable of such a thing.

I've been thinking about this recently, particularly since I discovered, on Friday, that my beloved former boss and his wife have split up after more than 20 years of marriage.

He was blindsided.

They were childhood sweethearts. Best friends, even. She met a "friend" -- another woman -- and within weeks was spending all her time with this other woman. She moved out of the house and in with the other woman a few weeks ago. This past weekend she moved into her own place. They have two teenaged children.

I was in shock. I can't even begin to imagine what he must be feeling.

But it's not just my former boss that it's happened to. It's other people I know -- my closest friends. It's also happened to me.

Maybe life, like my little red Suzuki Swift, has a blindspot.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Portable Peace

A framed copy of this W.B. Yeats poem hangs in my living room. I share it with you today, in the hope that your week is peaceful. It's called The Lake Isle of Innisfree.

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Everything I know about fashion, I learned from gay men

We won a Silver CMA and, seemingly against all odds, I didn't pull a pratfall on the stage.

In fact, with my freshly coiffed flip, Audrey Hepburn style dress, authentic vintage shoes that my Mom wore a couple of time in the fifties, and perfect jewellry, I was virtually unrecognizable. Pretty even.

I have a lifelong relationship with gay men to thank for how I looked.

If you haven't been on the receiving end of my BFF's speech about wearing white after labour day, you're missing out. Forget Stacey and Clinton. Gay men don't follow the rules -- they MAKE them.

That's why, when my BFF showed up to pick me up for the ballet last night, he felt completely comfortable giving me a full appraisal.

"Nice dress," he said.

"I thought it was very Diane von Furstenburg," I said, proudly.

"Norma Kamali," he corrected. What was I thinking. I was a young Luke Skywalker in the presence of Yoda.

As I reached down to strap on my flats, he tsked. Tsked!

"Heels," he said. "The flats do nothing for that dress."

"But we're going to have to walk down Queen Street!" I pleaded.

"Heels," he said firmly.

So heels it was. He was right.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No nukes

Before I buy the saddest cookbook ever written, I might try online dating.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Shanghai Surprise

Back in the 80s, my BFF and I lived in Japan for two years.

Shortly after we moved there, secured a place to live, and realized that I was teaching at an archly-conservative Catholic Women's Junior College, we went grocery shopping for the first time.

My Japanese at the time was limited to a few jerky head bows and the lyrics of a song that was popular at the time: Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. I was, quite clearly, over my head.

Okay, I'll admit it. After that first turn around the store, I cried.

I'd gone straight from Queens University to the backwoods of Higashi Urawa in rural Saitama prefecture and I was hit with a wave of culture shock like nothing you've ever seen.

Nothing in my previous travels to Europe prepared me aisle upon aisle of canned foods that I neither recognized nor could read.

The store had a live fish section, and even they looked menacing. There were melons encased in coffin-like boxes, tied with little bows, and costing 10,000 yen -- at the time, about $100.

After that first trip to the grocery store, SO and I went straight to McDonalds. When in doubt, supersize me.

All those memories came flooding back to me when I did my grocery shopping at the new T&T Supermarket on Cherry Street last night.

It feels like a western supermarket but if you didn't know any better, you'd think you were in Asia.

There are a range of products from China, Japan, the Phillippines and Thailand. All in-store announcements are made first in broken English, and then in excited, rapid-fire Mandarin. I was one of a handful of gaijin (foreigners) happily perusing the aisles and filling my cart with noodles, curries, Hello Kitty goodies and Asian favourites.

It's funny how something that once felt so foreign and uncomfortable can now make me feel so nostalgic.

A good lesson, perhaps, in embracing diversity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New York, New York

I've been in love with New York city since I first followed Holden Caulfield down its hallowed streets the summer I turned 14.

That's part of why I signed up for a short film series at the ROM entitled "New York: City of the Screen".

The course is run by a professor from Ryerson -- a guy who looks like he can't believe he's being paid to watch and talk about movies all day. He got so excited that he couldn't stop hitting the microphone with his wildly expressive right hand.

When one of the participants in last night's course asked him why he chose to study film, he recounted the story of the first movie he ever saw: The Greatest Show on Earth.

If you haven't seen it, run out and rent it.

It's a Cecil B. DeMille epic about the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus that includes train crashes, elephants, high wire acts and plenty of over the top drama. It's wildly colourful. Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon. Charlton Heston plays a trapeze artist...if you need any more of an incentive.

Our movie loving professor saw the movie 11 times, on 11 successive Saturdays. That made me love him.

Last night's movie was a rare little gem from 1945 called "The Clock," directed by Vincente Minelli and starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker.

It was Judy's first movie after Meet me in St. Louis and Garland and Minelli got married after the filming of "The Clock".

I won't give the story away, but it's a lovely homage to New York, and you can see the ending coming a mile away, which is oddly comforting.

What's wrong with predictability. If you know everyone's going to end up happy, you can just relax and enjoy yourself.

The next film in the series is Rear Window on Tuesday the 27th.

Is there any better way to spend a Tuesday night than with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly? I have an extra ticket, so if any of my little blog reading friends would like to join me for Hitchcock on the big screen, let me know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Recurring Nightmares

When I was a litle girl, we lived in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor of a two story walk-up on Algonquin Avenue in North Bay.

For years, I had the same dream, every three or four month.

In my dream, I'd wake up, make my way down the hall, past my parents bedroom, and into the living room.

Once I got to the living room, the "souls" (and this is the best way I can describe them) living there would emerge from where they were hiding, behind the couch, the rocking chair, and under the kitchen table. They'd simply look at me, or beckon me with their crooked fingers.

I would stand there -- cold and immobilized -- unable to move or run.

Eventually we moved out of that apartment, into a house on Galt Street, and I stopped having that dream. I may have also stopped having that dream after someone explained to me that if you find yourself unable to run in a dream, jumping usually works.

I never did figure out what it meant, but I thought of it this morning because I've been tagged to accept the CMA Award for SickKids at the big Gala at the Harbour Castle on Friday night. It's what an old boss of mine used to call, The Prom.

I've won before, but never had to accept. Usually the clients are more than happy to enjoy their time in the sun.

If we win a Merit, I'm off the hook. But, if we win a Gold or Silver, I have to get up, make my way up the side steps on to the stage, accept the trophy, and make my way down the front front of probably 1,000 souls.


David Bowie once said, "God made Tina Turner to teach women how to walk in high heels." Where the hell is Tina Turner when I need her?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Read this book

Read The Other Side of the Bridge by Mary Lawson. It's one of the best books I've read this year. A real page turner -- very Steinbeckian. Plus, it takes place in northern Ontario. Lawson also wrote the incredibly readable Crow Lake.

When I have more time, I'll write about my weekend in North Bay and the Chalice Ceremony that was held this weekend for my Dad and five other deceased Knights of Columbus members.

Is anyone else feeling the weight of a rainy Monday?

Friday, November 9, 2007

More from the land of woo-woo

So, the other night while I was waiting for my friend HR to arrive from Toronto Island Airport to her hotel at Yonge and College, I sat in the lobby reading someone's disgarded Globe and Mail.

I went through a couple of sections.

As the doors to the lobby opened, and my friend walked in, I looked down and saw that I'd made my way to the Facts and Arguments page. This is where everyday people write about a topic of some interest to them.

I noticed that the topic was about a woman, born without a left arm, who struggled against wearing a prosthetic.

The weird thing is -- my friend HR and I worked with the author of this article at CARE. Me for 8 years. HR for longer. In fact, she used to be HR's boss -- and she had the dubious distinction of bringing down the entire IT network at CARE after sending out a slanderous email about one of our co-workers.

Isn't this weird.

What do you think, Magic 8 Ball?

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I wasn't the only one in Susur Lee's swanky new restaurant celebrating a birthday last night. Dinner is an event here -- and an expensive one at that. But it's designed to be shared and enjoyed slowly.Tapas, Asian style.

To start: I had a Mango Mojito and HR had a Lychee Martini.

I enjoyed the Mojito because it wasn't too sweet and because I was starving to death. Our dinner reservation was at 8:30. Without giving away any secrets to my youthful glow, I'm usually in my pajamas in front of the tube by 8:30. HR was less enthusiastic about the Martini. She said it tasted like bubble bath water.

The food was beautifully prepared and elegantly presented and, as in most truly great restaurants, the serving staff really knew their way around the menu.

We shared the:

Singaporean Style Slaw -- 17 different ingredients. Incredible. I've never had anything like it.

Salmon seviche -- a real palate cleanser. This one was served on a bed of soy sprouts that had a little bit of heaven in them.

Pineapple and avocado salad in a peanut satay sauce. Nice, but not the best thing on the menu.

Carmelized cod. OMG. One of the top 10 things I've ever eaten. It reminded me of the incredible piece of salmon I had at the Gotham Bar and Grill in New York, back in the 90s. That's how memorable it was. Highly recommended.

And for dessert. Wait for it. Yes, we shared the molten lava chocolate cake with bananas and vanilla ice cream. It looked like it came out of Susur Lee's Easy Bake Oven. In short, it was perfect! We practically had a fork fight to finish it.

Anyway, today I'm having peanut butter and banana on dark rye for lunch. Not exactly up to the gourmet standards of last evening.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Reverse Paranoiac

In JD Salinger's "Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenter", Seymour Glass confesses to being a reverse paranoic. He says, "I suspect people of plotting to make me happy."

That's the kind of day I had yesterday. Magical and perfect.

It included:

Innumerable birthday wishes from far and wide.

A lovely card and gift certificate from my co-workers.

A wonderful dinner with incredibly thoughtful presents from my BFF. (Not many people would know how much I'd appreciate audio CDs of Richard Gere reading "The Tibetan Book of the Dead". That's what best friends are for.)

A trip to Stephen's Happy Place -- Holt Renfrew -- for the unveiling of the Christmas windows...and a concert on Bloor Street by Aretha Franklin!

A great movie -- American Gangster.

Running into Jude Law in the lobby of the Manulife, after the movie.

A personal movie made about and for me, by my home girl, Barb.

And you know what the best thing is? It's continuing tonight. My great friend of Chicago hyper-planning fame is in town tonight and taking me to Susur Lee's new restaurant. It's going to be great!

Feeling very grateful today.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happy birthday to me

Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me
Happy birthday, dear ML
Happy birthday to me

I always envied the children whose birthday parties featured sandwiches on coloured bread -- although those children are probably dead now, their lives snuffed out by lethal doses of red dye #7.

Next year I'm buying myself a Barbie cake.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl

There's something wonderful and decadent about watching movies in the middle of the afternoon on a school day.

I spent part of my last vacation day at a matinee, watching the incredibly watchable Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl.

Jealous? Don't hate me too much. I also spent the morning getting a pap smear. I don't see you lining up for that one.

Lars and the Real Girl is the sweetly told tale of a sensitive and damaged young man's relationship with Bianca, a life-size doll he orders off the internet. It's testament to the screenwriter (Nancy Oliver from Six Feet Under) and the nuanced performances of the capable cast, that the story never descends into slapstick. There is a real love story here. The film stars one of my favourite actresses -- Patricia Clarkson.

So it's back to work tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Unexplained

I was in a cleaning mood this afternoon and decided to go through an old shoe box full of junk that I'd moved from place to place with barely a look.

Inside, along with old driver's licenses, business cards and luggage tags,I found a greeting card that I bought at the Cabbagetown Festival several years ago...probably while I was living on Sackville Street.

The strange's a painting of the house where I'm living now.

I know! It spooked the hell out of me, too.

Attention Hit Men

If anyone's looking to take a contract out on my life, here's a safe bet as to where you'll find me. Every Sunday night at 8 p.m., I'll be on my couch, wearing the fat pants, brandishing a bowl of some kind of snack food or other, watching The Amazing Race. Routine is such a source of comfort.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Art of Happiness

I woke up with one of the Dalai Lama's favourite prayers on my mind this morning.

It states, quite simply:

For as long as space remains,
for as long as sentient beings remain,
so too may I remain,
to dispel the miseries of the world.

Talk about a commitment to service -- in this lifetime and many lifetimes.

So imagine my surprise when I found an article in the morning paper about the increasing disconnect between the Dalai Lama's policy of non-violence and the restlessness of young Tibetans who have never known a free Tibet.

Who wouldn't understand their impatience?

But who among us cannot help but be humbled by the Dalai Lama's approach.

In an interview with Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman (who just happens to be Uma's Dad, if you care about such things), his Holiness even stated that he has a "comparatively better heart now" due to his exile.

He said, "When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways -- either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength."

Some people can lose a country and still maintain their compassion and tolerance. Others can break a nail and it's game over.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Canadian Bacon

It's good to be home.

On yesterday's flight from Heathrow, I sat beside a guy who was already 13 hours into his journey by the time he got to London. He was an emergency room nurse who had been visiting his sister-in-law in Sierra Leone, and had some interesting tales about visiting rural hospitals in West Africa.

When we landed in Toronto, he had a 3-hour layover before catching his ongoing flight to Halifax. I can't imagine it.

A few stats from my trip.

In the past 13 days, I have:

Travelled to 6 different cities in 4 different countries

Flown into and out of 4 different airports

Slept in 5 different beds

Flown, taken several trains, a boat, several buses and various taxi cabs

Done two formal presentations

Mimed vomiting at an all night Italian Pharamacia, once

Lost my suitcase, once

Reunited with my suitcase, once

Things I loved: Dutch cheese, being surrounded by people who work in the charitable sector, the wonder of discovery, pasta, every kind of gelato, the gorgeous little evening bag I bought in Venice, the beds at the High Road House in London, Marks and Spencer underwear.

Things I missed: Sushi, peanut butter, Buddy Benson.

I've posted this picture of Miss Piggy because the big news in the UK yesterday was that eating too much bacon gives you cancer. You don't really need to be an Einstein to figure this out. If you saw what these people fry up for breakfast on a daily basis,you'd get cancer just thinking about it.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Little birds are tying bows in my hair

Guess what I'm looking at? You're right. It's my shiny red suitcase. I bet it has a story to tell.

When they called me at 7:30 this morning, and promised to rush it over in a cab, I asked the lovely cockney-accented woman, "Does it miss me?"

"Oh ya, love," she said. "It's cryin' its eyes out."

Thanks for all the positive vibes, and to my BFF, SO, for calmly stating that my bag and my phone would find their way home. You were right...and it has. And, in case you're wondering, I've also put my phone in my purse.

See you in the new world.