What’s Up Wednesday, nearly at the Holidays

December 18, 2013

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blogfest to share the answers to a few simple questions… Join us!

WUWWinterWhat I’m reading:

Nearly finished “Discworld: Moving Pictures”  from the library, and I’ve put a hold on another Discworld library book. Finished “The Ringworld Engineers”, and listening to three other Audible books that I want to finish in 2013: the first Secret Circle book, Dragon Harper, and Magic Bites.

What I’m writing:

Well, I’ve finally started revisions to “Gotta Have that Look”, following a new editing plan to keep myself from getting intimidated by all the Odyssey feedback. Also been doing some world-building for ‘Alien Love on a Kitchen Scale’; that counts as writing, yeah?

What inspires me right now:

Great music (like the Good Lovelies), Futurama, and the hope that snow will melt. 😉

What else I’ve been up to:

Brushing my car off, Christmas shopping, going to buffet lunches. Had a great time at the Vinyl Cafe concert Monday night, even if Mom wasn’t feeling well so I had to go myself. I’ve also started my first critique for the Codex writers. Oh, and I did some drawing exercises over the weekend, trying to get myself ready for the portrait chapter in “Right Side of the Brain”

What about you? Click here to join the hop or check in with some other great writers.

The Vinyl Cafe in Hamilton

December 20, 2012

My mother and I went to see Stuary McLean and the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Tour last night, which is something of a holiday tradition for us. It was a great evening – Reid Jamieson performed, as well as John Sheard, Dennis Pendrith, and a vocal trio dubbed “The Vinylettes”. Stuart retold the classic story about Dave building a snow machine, gave us two brand-new tales, (or at least ones that haven’t been featured on the radio show yet,) and was very funny organizing the prize giveaway just before intermission, with the help of a young child from one of the first two rows.

Stuart has an unfair reputation in some circles for telling long, pointless stories very slowly. Last night I think I really appreciated just how funny he can be, and how good his sense of comic timing is, especially when describing a scene where things are about to go very, very badly. Yes, he’ll dole out one sentence and pause, long enough to let us rev our imaginations into gear, and then drop another little tidbit. But it works. The heartwarming ending is also a big crowd-pleaser, of course.

One fun little moment involved what Stuart called ‘losing control of the show.’ The set-up began before the intermission, when Stuart said that he was giving out a prize for the oldest person in attendance. One lady called out 87, and before taking any other contenders he told the crowd that he wanted to talk with her a moment; Stuart asked her if she’d ever won anything before, she said no, (which could be a natural lie in the circumstances – you wouldn’t want to get passed over because you’ve won something before.)

‘Really, never won a thing in 87 years? I wonder how you get out of bed in the mornings.’ Paraphrased, but that was the sentiment, and we all laughed a little.

Then there was somebody else who won the prize for being 88, and Stuart gave the 87-year old lady his regrets. After the intermission, he checked with his young helper to make sure that everybody had got their prizes, and a sort of chant emerged from somewhere off to audience right. The people wanted the 87-year old woman to get a prize.

Stuart went along with it, making wisecracks the whole time. The woman got a Reid Jamieson CD, autographed by Stuart and each of the performers for the show, and also signed by the delivery kid. Somebody called out that it was his birthday at this point, and Stuart fished out one more prize CD, but drew the line at having anybody sign it. Enough was enough, at that point.

So it was a really fun evening, and definitely helped me get into the Christmas spirit. Less than a week left!

May the muse be with you

December 17, 2012

I feel like I’ve hit my creative stride over the past few days, for the first time since Nano, really. I already mentioned that my Saturday was productive in several ways.

Sunday, I started the block revision of ‘The Storm Mirror’, marking up the first two scenes and then rewriting the next few on the Alphasmart Dana. Then it was down to Williams on the pier, meeting up with Elizabeth Twist and Gale, where I started a new story, “Time Bubble Trap”, partially based on “Project Fast Track” from last year.

Today, I got more of “Time Bubble Trap” on the bus to and from work, writing on the eeePC. We got stuck in traffic for an extra fifteen minutes because the Hamilton Harbor lift bridge was up, but the battery was charged up enough that I could write for most of the extra time! I also read some of a Temperance Brennan book on the Kindle, “Deadly Decisions.”

So I feel like I’m well over the post-Nano crash, and riding a wave of creative energy. The next few days might be a little hard to find time for writing or revisions, though. Tomorrow evening is the Hamilton Writer’s meeting at Chester’s, and that should be fun. I’m going to bring the opening pages of “The Gnomes are Missing” again – this time other people have RSVPed, so I should be able to actually read them.

And Wednesday evening, my mother and I have tickets for the Vinyl Cafe concert at Hamilton Place, which is a holiday season tradition for us that I’m looking forward to.

Hopefully I’ll be able to fit more Block Revision in tomorrow before I have to leave for work.

My Top Ten Canadian Singles

August 20, 2012

Well, the Vinyl Cafe had a show on this weekend where the host, Stuart McLean, picked his top ten Canadian singles. Turns out it was a summer repeat and has already been covered in the blogosphere, but I was inspired to choose my favorite ten songs from Canadian artists too. (I didn’t limit myself to radio singles, as it’s been a while since that’s been relevant for me in terms of music I enjoy.) I graded high for songs that were co-written by Canadians, and included a slight bias against the Canadian songs I already talked about in my ‘Top 10 songs’ blogfest entry, which knocked all of them out of the running and brought up other great music, often by the same artists. (Many of the artists appear in my ‘Desert Island Discs’ playlist.)

And here we go!

1. When I think about first getting interested in truly Canadian music, Lisa Brokop immediately comes to mind. I loved music when I was young, but whether it was church music, borrowed pop, or Christian rock, Canadian content didn’t figure for me. But when I started my country phase in the winter of 1995, shortly before heading off to University, I was getting my fix from the New Country Network video channel on cable, (which later became CMT Canada,) and then local radio stations like CISS-FM in Toronto and CHAM AM in Hamilton. And I really loved the sound of some of the singers from north of the border, like Lisa. ‘Take That’ was one of the first videos that I loved so much that I recorded it onto a VHS tape so I could enjoy it over and over again.

There’s a story that I heard years later that I really love, that Lisa was on tour opening for a big-name band, (Little Texas?) around that time, and didn’t even realize that one of her own songs was hitting it big on the radio until the day that she started ‘Take That’ at a show and realized, to her amazement, that the crowd was singing the first verse along with her. 🙂

But I’m not putting ‘Take That’ on the list, partly because it was written by a couple of American Nashville songwriters. Instead, I’m going to name a song that I really love because it makes me think about writing and Nanowrimo and all of that cool stuff whenever I listen to it: “Write a Book About Me.” It’s off the album “Hey, do you know me” and was written by Lisa Brokop and Kim McLean.

2. “No Change in me”, sung by the Ennis Sisters, written by Murray McLauchlan and Ron Hynes. This is a bit of a two-fer, because I had to get the Ennis Sisters into this list. Murray’s version of the song is also amazing, but the only cut I could find on youtube is this slideshow with rather rough, half-spoken vocals by Ron. But I’ll get back to Ron Hynes later in this list.

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Music I love – Dala, ‘Anywhere under the moon.’

February 7, 2012

My appreciation for Dala has grown slowly over several years. I saw them when they came with the Vinyl Cafe concert to Hamilton in December of 2008, kinda liked the songs that they sang in that show, (some of which were traditional-seasonal, not their own,) and picked up a copy of the CD that they had on sale, “Who do you think you are.’ I gave that CD a few listens, but wasn’t immediately blown away. I remember that I was really starting to love it by the time December rolled around, because I bought a CD of Matt Andersen’s at that year’s concert just hoping I’d come to like it as much. (Not quite, though he’s grown on me somewhat as well.)

I bought another Dala CD, “Everyone is Someone”, off the Itunes Canada store early in 2010, and wasn’t really blown away by anything off the album except for ‘Levi Blues’, which I thought was amazing from the first listen, and still do.

Recently I’ve picked up some more of their music from emusic.com – another studio album, “This moment is a flash”, which I’m not sure what I think about, and a live performance collection, “Girls from the North Country”, which has a few covers like “Both Sides Now” and “The Weight,” and also accoustic versions of some of my favorite tracks from “Everyone is Someone” and “Who do you think you are.” This was enough to get me scouting YouTube for Dala’s music videos and footage of their live performances.

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