Thursday, December 31, 2009

BenchMark: Spring Eternal

Some time ago, I started a blog theme covering the Liberty Village art benches.  I got a bit sidetracked, as seems to often happen with my blog topics, and after covering 3 of the benches, somehow the topic got lost.  So with renewed enthusiasm I am picking up where I left off and will continue my series on the art benches in Liberty Village. If you missed my past blogs on "The Benchmark Program" or want to refresh on what they are and the ones already covered  you can read them here.

I will add that this year 4 more new art benches have been added within our village.  I think that is fabulous and I applaud our BIA for the initiative. 

I am going to present one or two of the Liberty Village Benches in my blog every Thursday morning in each of the following weeks. So stay posted for future installments!

This week we are going to have a look at Bench #10 on the BenchMark Map, at the corner of Liberty Street and Jefferson, kitty corner from the Liberty Cafe and locatedon the south east corner of the Lambert Stadium property.

Titled "Spring Eternal", it is a cheerful summer reminder at this time of year.  It is another of the benches created  by Miklos Legrady, who has 3 works of "bench art" placed in Liberty Village.  I will cover his next two benches in the bench blog coming next Friday as they are a pair of adjacent benches and should be covered together.

Spring Eternal is sponsored by CLEAN AND BEAUTIFUL CITY

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflections As The Year Draws to a Close

I have always spent the last few days of every year in a reflective mood and always start the first few days of the year asking myself what do I need or want to accomplish in this  coming year.  This year I have been very pleased on the whole and  find myself with a great deal of feelings of grattitude and accomplishment.   Life is good.

Obviously, it could always be better - for instance, my ad in Craig's list for a "significant other"  has remained unanswered this entire year!   But in other ways the year has been spectacular!  This year has been the year I vaulted myself forward in a major way with my writing objectives and got my first draft done for my novel - thanks to NaNoWriMo. I have had a great deal of success in areas of my career (finally got around to the "badge of honour" - my PMP certification) and have racked up an award winning year as far as nights out listening to live music and just having fun.  One could not ask for (much) more.  Well... as I said earlier ...

So it is clear that one objective for next year is to progress this messy collection of 53,000 odd words into something I might allow someone else on the planet to read and critique.  I have so much excitement for the concepts and ideas that I have played with in the novel that I will probably be able to ride on that excitement as an incentive to get past the next nasty bit - the realization that there is a heck of a lot of work required to get the darned thing presentable.  I hope I can manage it given that I will not be quitting my day job.

Next year I must also  prepare for some major traveling in 2011.   I have only 1 more year to get ready for my Camino pilgrimage through Spain.  That means hiking the Bruce trail to get my hiking legs in shape and to get used to the weight of a heavy pack.  I will also need to start planning finances and equipment.   I may also even try and sneak in an extended Cuban trip next fall to breathe in the culture and take those Spanish lessons.  My trip this month just whet my appetite in that regard!

Another objective for next year is to figure out what to do with my new condo which apparently will be ready for me sometime next winter.  More on that in an up coming blog!

This is also the year I (for the first time) announced myself in a group setting as officially working on writing a novel.  Interesting to think that there are so many more writers now, as it is so easy to "self publish" - via the internet, if a novel is too ambious a project for you a blog is easily done.   You are then entitled to call yourself a writer.  Nevermind that you don't get paid - that is why other folks who do get to insert the adjective "Professional" in front of a noun describing an activity one might do as a hobby or as a vocation.   This year, I officially became a writer (unpaid, of course LOL)  as I have a draft of a novel ongoing and also have been publishing a blog for a full year now.  Can you see me smiling?

To throw some cold water on the idea of being a writer go here.  I like the first sentence in the last paragraph "Any real writer will tell you, you don't quit your day job to pursue writing. "  I guess I am on the right track.   

Thinking about writing got this tune rolling around in my brain.  

 From Wiki:
"Paperback Writer" is a 1966 rock song recorded and released by The Beatles. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single. The single went to the number one spot in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. Written in the form of a letter from an aspiring author to a publisher, "Paperback Writer" was the first UK Beatles single that was not a love song (though "Nowhere Man", which was a single in the U.S., was their first album song released with that distinction).

Paperback Writer
(John Lennon, Paul McCartney)

Paperback writer (writer, writer)

Sir or Madam, would you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on a novel by a man named Lear.
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

It's a dirty story of a dirty man,
And his clinging wife doesn't understand.
His son's out working for the Daily Mail,
It's a steady job, but he wants to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Paperback writer (writer, writer)

It's a thousand pages, give or take a few.
I'll be writing more in a week or two.
I can make it longer if you like the style.
I can change it 'round and I wanna be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

If you really like it, you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here.
But I need a break, and I wanna be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

Paperback writer (writer,writer)

Paperback writer (Paperback writer)
Paperback writer (Paperback writer)
Paperback writer (Paperback writer)
Paperback writer (Paperback writer)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Bbaaa - aaaacccckk

Do you remember the character Russell Casse (the pilot) in the film Independence Day?

In the film Independence Day, humanity triumphed over the aliens as our race faced a dire end as our existence on this planet was threatened  by the monstrous weapons in the "death ships" slowly orbiting the planet and destroying everything in its path.  It has been well over a decade since that movie was released in 1996.  I remember watching it many times as it was a family favourite and each time there was an uplifting feeling at the end when the main characters watch debris from the mothership enter the atmosphere like fireworks.  We always cheered as the aliens had their asses kicked in this movie.

I felt a similar emotion at the end when watching the movie Avatar, but I was rooting for the Aliens this time.

While the movie is being praised mostly for its special filming and 3D effects and the animation, that is not the most interesting aspect of the film, in my mind.  Not to say that the visuals were not stunning and well worth the price of admission.   As far as the visuals are concerned, it is in the same league as the Star Wars movies, perhaps even in its own league given the innovative filming techniques.   For more detail on the techniques check out wiki - suffice to say if these filming techniques catch on we should have some interesting movies coming up in the next few years..

I dare say that this is a movie I will want to see more than once and in a theatre equipped with the IMAX 3D because of the excellent 3D effects.  

Warning:  SPOILER ALERT:  skip the next paragraph if you have not seen the movie and want to be kept in suspense about the plot and outcome.

It is a great movie full of action heros and villans. As you learn about the Navi way of life you come to identify with this alien race and how they value every living thing on their planet so when the battle scene arrives you identify totally with the poor Navi and want the nasty humans to get an ass whipping in the battle for the Navi's home and sacred ground.  Of course we cheer on  Jake Sully, our hero, who ends up changing sides and organizes the Navi to defend themselves and overcome the invaders.

There is so much symbolism in this movie that we go away from the theatre thinking about nature, biodiversity and how we treat the planet and the creatures which inhabit it. It the scene where they were bulldozing the home tree there is some pretty obvious parallels with the bulldozing of the Amazon Rain forest and the displacement of the Brazilian natives who live there.

That the film has been in production since 1996 is pretty amazing. James Cameron, who gave us Titanic, is certainly a director of great vision and talent.  He wrote the scriptment upon which the film is based.  Avatar was officially budgeted at $237 million (although rumoured much more was actually spent) and has grossed an estimated $232,180,000 Worldwide on its opening weekend, the ninth-largest opening-weekend gross of all time, and the largest for a non-franchise, non-sequel and original film. Two more sequels are planned.  They will be carting their profits away in wheel barrows for sure.

It is is another movie for my all time favourites list, right beside Independence Day.

For trailers and video clips go here.  For the official film website go here.

Oh ya - the opening title - I am back to blogging after a long period of intermittent and infrequent activity.  Last month's excuse was the NaNoWriMo and this month it was my Cuban holiday and then Christmas which kept me occupied elsewhere, but now I am back at it and am going to try and do some daily blogging for a while to get back into the swing of things. Of course in a few weeks I will be working on my 2nd draft of my NaNoWriMo novel, so maybe not daily blogging at that point... but we will see.

Hope everyone out there in the blogsphere had a wonderful Christmas (or other) holiday!  The first leg in our holiday season is now over and leg 2 - New Years - is nearly upon us!  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A bit of this and that - is it December already?

RIP NaNoWriMo 2009

It certainly has been a while since I have written a blog - the entire month of November saw only 4 blogs and now we are one week into December and this is my first blog of the month!  However, as you know I have been a bit busy with the NaNoWriMo thing.  If you have been returning to my blog to check my progress you might have noticed the little icon to the right creeping up in its word count until last weekend it exceeded the magic count of 50,000 - the number of words necessary to say I had "won" NaNoWriMo.

Before I write anything more about the experience, let me first stand on a soapbox and announce that I will not be selling autographed copies of this work in any of the coming months.  It was an exercise in speed writing a first draft - nothing more.  While I am still very excited about the ideas I generated in the month I recognize that I have a major job ahead to turn this first draft into anything I would let any of even my most trusted friends read, let alone submit to a more critical audience.  I plan on letting the draft marinate until at least mid January when I will dust it off and decide how to proceed.

I was able to use the "speed writing technique" to develop lots of plot ideas although it certainly is not my preferred manner of writing.  I  learned to leave my "inner editor" outside and just write to build on ideas and this was very freeing but left me with an uncomfortable sense of disorder and a lack of satisfaction relative to my novel.  I am sure that I will need to rewrite it in its entirety.  However maybe many of the ideas contained in the current version would have been lost as I backspaced and rewrote paragraphs if I were not speed writing.  

I have in the month of November gained a new respect for authors and the difficulty they have in practising their craft.  I was listening this morning to a podcast featuring Joyce Carol Oates talking about her novel The Gravedigger's Daughter.  She said that she found the first 6 weeks of writing a novel the most stressful and difficult.  I am encouraged that maybe the 2nd draft might be somewhat easier.  I won't be giving myself any deadline on that exercise for sure!

And Joy of Joys - I have planned a sort pre-Christmas holiday at a resort in Varadero Cuba!  I had originally thought of flying into Havana and staying at a Casa Particular (a sort of government regulated "home stay" program)  however discovered that I could buy  one week at a 4 star all inclusive 45 minutes from Havana for about the price of air fare alone.  I am feeling of need of pampering and there are advantages for a single lady to stay at a place such as that... So I will leave my Casa Particular adventure for my next visit to Cuba - when I plan to stay at least 3 weeks in order to take some "immersive" Spanish lessons.  This particular resort is about an hour closer to Havana than the other Varadero resorts so I will be able to go into Havana and sight see as much as I like (I have direction for taking the bus!)  - but of course I will be lured by all the other "all inclusive" activities at the resort.

I am leaving in 1 week - so will only be able to manage maybe one more short blog before I leave town.

RIP  Québécois Filmmaker Gilles Carle

I first became acquainted with Gilles Carle one day when listening to the CBC Radio morning show, The Sunday Edition.  Gilles Carle had been one of Quebec’s most talented filmmakers with a career spaning from the 1960s Quiet Revolution and the Québécois cultural explosion until the mid 1990s when the effects of Parkinsons disease caused him to retire.  The radio documentary focused on Chloé Sainte-Marie , his companion of 28 years, who had been caring for this increasingly frail man in their home since the late 1990s.  She was obviously still very much in love with this man 34 years her senior.   It was a heart warming story of love and devotion and I must admit I am a sucker for such things.  In the week before his death Chloé opened  a long-term care facility in his name for sufferers of Parkinsons. The Maison d’hébergement Gilles Carle was inaugurated Nov. 7.

It was very appropriate that they rebroadcast the documentary today to mark his death and as a testament to Cloe's continued devotion to him to his dying day.  A state funeral was held Gilles Carle at Basilique Notre-Dame in Old Montreal on Saturday December 5th.

There is no entry in the English Language version of Wiki for Gilles Carle however there is one in the French Language version, which if you go here you can see a Babelfish translator version in English.

You can view films by Gilles Carle online at the National Film Board Site here.

Chloé Sainte-Marie is a great artist in her own right and has several albums to her credit.  Her most recent album launched just this year, Nitshisseniten E tshissenitamin (Je Sais Que Tu Sais), sung in its entirety in Innu. The words and the music are of the song writer and performer Philippe McKenzie.  The Innu are among the First Nations of Canada. They have maintained a vibrant folk music culture, which of course involves dance and percussion-based music.  Chloé brings her own special touch to these songs.  Having discovered it for the first time today and having listened to the samples on iTunes, I have added it to my Amazon Wish List.

I quite enjoy her album Parle Moi, which I have in my personal collection.  This video following is from Parle Moi and features some nice graphic artistry as well, which I understand was filmed in her attic studio in her home. 

Where the Hell is Matt?  A Good Times Video

Now for a completely different tone, I have been doing a lot of browsing of "backpack traveller" web sites and warn everyone that my wanderlust will only be contained for a year or two more.  I have bumped into the "Where is Matt" internet videos on more than one occassion, and in case you have never seen one - here is his 2008 offering.  I find watching his videos make me very happy thinking about the travels which might be in my future.

My "Be Happy" Inspirational Video of the Month:

If you are intrigued then here are a few more things to check out:

Where the Hell is Matt - his web site:

How he got people out to dance with him badly
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