Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pedal to the Metal - This Saturday

This Saturday, December 2, from noon til 5pm Soap Scum will be participating in another craft show - this one with bands, like Picastro and Aidan Baker, and more.

Pedal to the Metal is at Sneaky Dee's on College at Bathurst, from noon - 5pm

Admission is PWYC or non perishable food item

Come by and check out all the unique wares, have a beer, hear some music.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Binet-Simon Test

Miranda July:

Medical Wonder

I Can-Japan

Fuckin' brilliant. I love these. Creepy, well-constructed auditory narratives.

Anyone with me?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Reading from my novel-in-progress

On Sunday, November 26, I'll be reading from my novel at the illustrious Fictitious Reading Series. I'm reading with John Degen, author of two books of poetry, and a novel called The Uninvited Guest.

I'm really nervous about this gig. I even had a nightmare about it last night - one of those unprepared stress dreams. The equivalent of being onstage naked, but that wasn't the dream. I was lost (in a desert, no less), late, and brought the wrong notes, couldn't read my own writing, and panicked - that sort of thing. Pretty banal, ultimately, but I woke up feeling a bit freaked.

But in my experience, the more nervous I am, the better the energy onstage, and the better the reading goes overall. So this is good, really!

Why am I so freaked about this reading? I'm not sure exactly, but probably because the work is relatively new, the audience there is generally full of people whose literary opinions I respect, it's a small intimate space, and there is a live interview component...

So come out to my reading and delight in my squirming!

My novel, for those of you who don't know, is about Jehovah's Witnesses, tightropewalking, and new wave music. And some other stuff.

Fictitious Reading Series
at This Ain't the Rosedale Library (upstairs in the gallery)
483 Church St. (just south of Wellesley)
7:30 pm

And there are doorprizes!

There is more information about John Degen and me on Kate's Book Blog or at Bloggamooga or on the Fictitious website.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

CT3 This Saturday November 26th!

Come on out to another hip, indie craftaganza! Okay, I just made that word up and it's not very good. But this show will be, I promise! It's Crafternoon Tea #3, a craft and fashion market, DIY den, and charity bake sale all in one. The merch is priced affordably, with lots of items under $30, and proceeds from the sweets go to Woodgreen Community Centre.

It's this Saturday, November 25, from 10am til 6pm, out in Leslieville in the bowels of the Presbyterian Church at 947 Queen St. East (southeast corner of Queen and Carlaw) . Admission is by donation of art supplies or canned goods, or $2.

A good cause, and good gifts! You know I'll be selling my dirty soaps, and hopefully no church ladies will be offended this year!

Here's a sample of my aforementioned new bear soap. Did they ever decide on Grolar or Pizzly or whatever embarrassingly bad names were being bandied about for the hybrid offspring?

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Discoveries at the Victory

Last night's "Sassy Little Craft Show" went really well. There was a steady flow of visitors, sales were good, and people really seemed to enjoy the soap.

I ended up sitting next to Willow Dawson, who illustrates the Violet Miranda comics about female pirates (published by Kiss Machine) . When I first heard about this project, I was a bit alarmed, since my first book was also, in part, a reinterpretation of the illustrious female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. But it sounds like they've written the story from the point of view of the next generation of pirates, which is an interesting perspective, and besides, I guess I don't have any sort of ultimate jurisdiction over the pirates I so enjoyed reinventing. Anyway, we had a really cool chat about different takes on the story, and what drew us to the subject matter in the first place. So I bought the first two issues of the series, and she gave me a female pirate print of one of her illustrations, which is very cool.

The other high point of the show for me was checking out banjo puppets. This guy makes amazing, beautifully expressive creatures, and after a coupla pints I had some in-depth conversations with the monsters, and then took home wee Maurice here with me.

Hopefully my other pal won't be too jealous. His name is 52.

Well, that's one craft show down, three to go!

Today I'm working on a new soap that is a reference to a news story I heard CBC cover last spring - that discovery of the hybrid grizzly-polar bear. You can probably guess what the soap will feature... I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier!

There was some debate around what to call the hybrid bear, but I don't know what the outcome was. I don't remember what shows even talked about the unfortunately-dead bear; maybe The Hour? Is interspecies bear breeding something George Stroumboulopoulos would sort out?

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Sassy Little Craft Show" - tomorrow night!

Hey all you holiday hipsters - come on out to the Sassy Little Craft Show, tomorrow night (7pm-midnight) at the Victory Cafe! (581 Markham, behind Honest Ed's). Admission is free, but please bring a non-perishable food item.

I've been frantically making soap these days, and concocted some new pornographic plastic delights for you.

There's even CanCon: polar bears and same-sex moose!

Below are some pictures of my latest wares. I hope to see you there tomorrow night. It will be fun, you can buy dirty soap, beer, and other delights!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Couple of reviews of dig.

For you readers of wayward armadillo's literary zine dig., there are a couple of reviews of the latest issue, #11, out there right now. One is a mixed review in Broken Pencil (not online yet), which loves Kevin Connolly's poems, but then says that some of the rest of the issue is "rubbish." Unfortunately, the reviewer doesn't back up this antagonistic statement whatsoever, so I've no idea what he or she found so offensive. Oh well. There's no accounting for people's taste.

The other is on Amanda Earl's blog, amidst her post about her purchases and impressions of the recent Small Press Book Fair. Thanks, Sandra, for forwarding me that link.

I had a really good time at the Sunday of the Press Fair at the Victory. Yes, it was much smaller, with fewer presses represented, and the traffic was minimal, since we'd lost the walk-by element of being right on Bloor, and that was unfortunate. But it more comfortable overall, and felt more relaxed and intimate. I had a nice time chatting with Beth Follett, one of the organizers, and getting caught up with Conan Tobias and the Taddle Creek guys, Stuart Ross of course, and I had a fun chat with a guy who was writing a novel which featured a female hockey playing protagonist. Novels and hockey, I think about both on a daily basis...


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm a loser, baby...

Caveat: It's totally gauche to bitch about grant results. Truly truly truly (a la Morrissey).

So I've resisted, for a while. I guess until tonight. But seriously! My novel-in-progress has been rejected for almost every grant imagineable, and more than once. I'm thick-skinned, for the most part, but this now officially stings. I'm beginning to resent my cigar-smoking, too-friendly mail carrier! I'm sure it's entirely his fault.

I'm pretty confident that my fictional skills have improved significantly the past couple of years of focussing exclusively on the novel form, and well, I think that so far, it's pretty good. Workshop feedback has been tremendously supportive, and whenever I've done readings from it, the audience has dug the shit. So what's the problem?

Maybe it really, really sucks. Maybe. But deep down, I just hear someone yelling "It doesn't suck! It's good shit!" But my flaw is that I'm preoccupied with what is measurable - grants, awards, all that non-objective crap that takes us out of our solitude and either elates or slays us.

I guess I got over-confident, and the juries just didn't agree with me. I hate that I worry about this shit. I guess we all do. Right?

But come on - little Jehovah's Witness kid, punk rock sister, Uncle Bowie-wannabe, death, shunning, demon rituals, and Joy Division? What's not to dig here? Tell me you don't want to know what those evangelical types knocking on your door REALLY thought!

I'm feeling vindictive and rebellious already (despite the retirement of my former piercings) - my reading on Nov. 26 will kick ass!! And screw all arts councils! Except, of course, for my last application still pending. I'm sure they're cool. Really.


TWIST OF CAIN - Danzig (that's what I was listening to on the swings at midnight last night. Til the fuzz parked nearby like I was doing someting weird, belting Danzing and Public Enemy lyrics, swinging on the swings. Totally took the solitude and fun out of it. Toto, we ain't in Parkdale anymore...)

DIY for the Young 'Uns

Tomorrow Sandra Alland and I are teaching a workshop in a high school. It's part of Going to Press, a publishing festival at Marc Garneau Collegiate, and part of the youth initiative of The Scream. Students and teachers and librarians from various area schools come in for this event, and there are small press exhibitors, like Stuart, and various workshops. We did this last year too, and it went pretty well but still, we're nervous.

Our workshop is about making your own zine or chapbook, and we bring in a lot of materials for them to use and design their own covers. We've tried the same structure and activities with adults, but they don't seem to get into the hands-on fun-with-glue-sticks element like the teenagers do. I'm not entirely sure why; we love making stuff! Maybe I'm just a victim of arrested development... But still, adults seem more hesitant to play around with stuff than the seventeen year olds. Any theories on why that is? We develop more self-consciousness as we age?

Anyway, tomorrow we'll be trying to convince a bunch of teenagers that long-arm staplers are really, very cool. You heard it here first.


TEENLAND by Northern Pikes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Well it wasn't a tie...

I said I didn't want our team to keep tying... Last night we broke our string of ties; we got killed. 5-1. What's that they say, "Be careful what you wish for"? At one point, our goalie (who made some great saves last night) dropped her stick and I'm pretty sure the centre on the other team KICKED it a little further away. I wasn't the only one who saw this. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that's dirty. But the guys don't call too many penalties in the women's league. 'Cause, you know, girls are all nice all the time...

A rather amusing moment of the evening, I'd say, was one gal's anecdote of her recent game at McCormick, waiting for her designated changeroom to free up from a previous game. Her husband said that there was still one guy in there, and when he named him as a certain media personality, she busted on in anyway...! And recounted that he seemed to be recovering from his game, alone, after his teammates had since dressed and gone home...

Yeah, back when I practically lived at the Rhino, and after a former roommate played on the Parkdale Pocupines, I used to try to insinuate myself into the Exclaim hockey league, at times drunkenly, and thus no, no one ever called me as a sub or anything. They did put me on the email list though. But it's just not the same! Then again, I certainly have more than enough ice time these days.

I wonder if Andrew and his pals still play with the Porcupines.

Ok, more obsessing about writing, less about hockey. Damn addictive personality...


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Small Press Book Fair

Tomorrow, Sunday November 12th, is Day Two of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair!

I'm not sure what to expect from this year; it's the first time (that I'm aware of) that it's been split into two separate days. Half the presses are there today, and the other half is on tomorrow. I guess that means we're effectively splitting our potential total attendence in half too - unless people want to come by on both days, which would surprise me.

It's also in a different location this time - upstairs at the Victory Cafe.

I don't have anything new for wayward armadillo press, but will have copies of dig.#11, and back issues available. I'm looking forward to seeing what new works other presses have on offer.

I'm feeling pretty stressed about how much is going on in the next few weeks: the press fair, four craft shows, a workshop Sandra and I are teaching, a stab at a grad school application, my own writing, hockey four nights a week, a job, and that holiday season stuff... but I'm sure it will all work out. It always does. I'm tired though!

But come out and visit the press fair tomorrow!

Victory Cafe
581 Markham St. (south of Bloor, behind Honest Ed's)


Monday, November 06, 2006

Team of Ties

Our hockey team tied AGAIN tonight! It was 1-1. I have lost count of how many ties in a row we've had. We were playing better together though. Next week - next week we'll win, I can feel it!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

From the Stacks

I'm taking up the From the Stacks Winter Challenge, which is to read five books from your pile or shelf of unread books between now and the end of January. No new books, no library books - the idea is to tackle the ones that you've been meaning to get to...

So here are my choices from my shelves:

Looking for the Possible Dance - A.L. Kennedy
Mary - Vladimir Nabokov
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
The Waves - Virginia Woolf
Spelling Mississippi - Marnie Woodrow

First I have to read Stolen by Annette Lapointe, because it's aleady out from the library. THEN I'll start the challenge.

I just finished Halfway House by Katherine Noel - a very moving and realistic novel about a young woman diagnosed as bipolar, and the impact on herself and those around her. Each chapter was told from a different character's point of view, which is difficult to pull off successfully, but for the most part, it worked. It was an emotionally draining book at times, but worth it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Beautiful South set list

Between memory and internet searches, my pal Lanie and I have compiled a set list from the other night's amazing Beautiful South show at the Phoenix.

Rose of My Cologne
Ol' Red Eyes
Pretenders to the Throne
Song for Whoever
Prettiest Eyes
Never Lost a Chicken to a Fox
A Little Time
One Last Lovesong
When Romance is Dead
Perfect 10
Don't Marry Her
You Keep It All In
Father and I
Love Is
Good as Gold
Woman in the Wall

Highlights for me were: Ol' Red Eyes, Don't Marry Her, 36D, and Good as Gold.

What a great show.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Crafternoon Tea 3

Another craft show this season for Soap Scum! I'll be participating in Crafternoon Tea 3, a great indie craft show and fundraiser in The Beaches. The Beach. Whichever.

It's another really fun and affordable craft show, organized by Nathalie-Roze Fischer, whose funky new shop, nathalie-rose & co., recently opened up in Leslieville (Queen E.).

It's on November 25.

More details later!

A Reading Challenge

I saw this reading challenge via Kate's Book Blog and I think it's a great idea. Basically, it's to read five books from that stack or shelf of books you've picked up and set aside, but have not yet read. I have lots of those - from used book shops, yard sales, giveaways, etc. The timeframe for the challenge is from now until the end of January. No library books, no new books, only ones you already own but haven't read.

When I make my picks, I'll let you know. Some neglected Virginia Woolf I'm sure, but I'm not sure what else.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Last Minute Craft Show

Soap Scum has also been accepted into The Last Minute Craft Show, in the Annex on December 16th.

It's from 11am-4pm at the Trinity St. Paul Centre at Bloor and Spadina (same place as the Small Press Fair usually is).

Free admission, afforadably-priced, unique, handmade goods!

There is a great page on the show's website of all the vendors, so you can get an idea in advance of what will be available.

Chippy - is it a metaphor, or does it mean your teeth?

I have to sneak a hockey post in here every once in a while. For the last three of my league games, I've been playing defense. Due to my intense dislike of responsibility in life, I've always been intimidated by playing defense - what if the other team scores? Then it's my fault?! But we never have enough people to play d., so I volunteered, and ended up doing pretty well at it, overall. Three games, and no goals scored during my shifts. My intensely competetive nature, combined with my aforementioned aversion to culpability, makes me a rather aggressive defensive player. Now I'm starting to like it! There's a powerful, fierce feeling that takes over, that makes me swear like crazy and think "there's no fucking way you're taking this puck in"... and no, I don't get it away every single time, but most of them, and lately it's been more satisfying than playing forward.

But I sure get knocked down more, and bruise easily. One gal this week even got a tripping penalty! I was okay though.

The ref was sympathetic on Monday when we had only one sub on defense - one person, not one more line! He offered, chuckling, to get me the difibulator.

Having said all that, I'd like to play up next Monday - with my new stick I can raise the puck a lot more easily.

Beautiful South - tomorrow!

The Beautiful South gig is tomorrow - I'm so excited!

I've never seen them live and have wanted to for about ten years. I think it will be awesome.

The Caretaker for Hallowe'en

I saw a performance of Pinter's The Caretaker tonight - fitting, isn't it, to do something chilling and absurdist on Hallowe'en?

The acting was great, and though I own a copy, I'd not yet read it. I really liked the stark, wrenching script - set and lighting to match - which produced a chilling and deeply affecting impact. The evasion and omission in the language, and the power dynamics between the characters resulted in an overwhelming sense of futility, but in a darkly humourous and cathartic way. I think absurdism like this is so intensely relevant right now, in this crazy fucked up time we live in.

The play's program quoted the English critic T. C. Worsley as saying "we are in the Beckett climate, but without the Beckett fog." I suppose that implies that Pinter is more accessible than Beckett, and I'm no expert on either, but it was definitely not an impenetrable play. It's not meant to be. Two brothers, one house, a homeless guy who settles in, and the disjointed dialogue ensues. Quite straight forward, really. Nor do I find Beckett opaque - you just have let go of any preconceptions you have about linear reality!

Reminds me of a funny conversation last time I was back home, in Dunnville. My 18-year-old step-bro had just read Waiting for Godot, and Hamlet, and was struggling to compare them in an essay (don't you miss high school sometimes?). He didn't seem to have any trouble with the Shakespeare, but was incensed over the Beckett! It frustrated him, the futility of it all, the inactivity, the perceived passivity, and while he was horrified that I could recite the play's ending (I tried to tell my tipsy self he was impressed), I did manage to convey some parallels around Hamlet's inaction and absurdist "waiting" and themes of futility. He did dash off to take some notes, which was really cool - for me, anyway! Maybe not so much for an 18 year old on a Sat. night.

I need more good theatre in my life. And though I liked tonight's production, Soulpepper is definitely not the answer. Just something staid about it. And male. And white. Still.

I'd rather see more like She's Gone Away, which I saw in the spring. That was impossible to categorize, higly technically skilled, and emotionally virtuosic. We need more like that to inspire us, and bust up our boundaries.