Friday, July 31, 2009

2009 Blog Improvement Project - 13 - Blog Post Bingo

Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness held a second Blog Post Bingo for most of the month of July.

This activity nudges us to vary our usual styles of blog posts, which I think is a wise idea. For the first shake-up, I did 5 of the different types of posts. The second time around, I managed 7 different types. Yay, me!

Kim's initial Blog Post Bingo was held in early February. These are the posts I was able to mark with my bingo dobber:

1 - A Link Post - share a series of links your readers might find interesting

* Here's a list of sites I frequent on the web. *

2 - A Short Post - less than 200 words

* This redirect post pointing the way to my missmakeamovie post clocks in at 19 words. *

3 - A List Post - simple as it sounds, a list of some sort

* My list of tins pictures for Dorte H fits this one. *

A second list post:

My Favorite Female Film Characters From the Past Ten Years *

8 - A Review Post - self-explanatory, I think.

* My review of the HD broadcast of the ballet La Fille Mal Gardee at Empire Theatres across Canada, this past Jan. 31st. *

10 - FREE SPACE - a type of post of your choice (that is not the same as one of the previous posts)"

* My Second Blogiversary post is a once-a-year extravaganza, so I'll count that as my free space. *

These are the ones I posted during the recent bingo weeks, between July 6th and July 24th:

2 - A Short Post – less than 200 words

On my 17th wedding anniversary, I posted a look at my wedding party getting ready, which clocked in at 220 words - a wee bit over the limit, but still pretty short for me.

4 - An Opinion Post – take an event, news, or another blog post and share your opinion on it

I took part in Fleur de Lisa's Manic Monday post for the first time to ensure I was shaking up my normal routine. It included the question: Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?

6 - A How-To Post – You’re an expert in something; big or small, share how to do it

* My post on Using Collage to Unlock Your Story shows examples of collages I've made for three of my works in progress and links to a Jennifer Crusie article on how to create one. *

7 - A Long Post – more than 700 words

My transcription of a long-ago tape-recorded conversation post clocked in at a whopping 1589 words.

8 - A Review Post – self-explanatory, I think

On July 7th I reviewed Thomma Lyn Grindstaff's debut novel, Mirror Blue.

10 - NEW: A Personal Post – something that’s going on in your life, related to your normal blog topic or not

With the arrival of the Tall Ships festival here in Halifax, and especially with the return of the Kruzenshtern, I shared the tale of The Summer of My Sister's Russian Sailor.

12 - FREE SPACE – a type of post of your choice (that is not the same as one of the previous posts)

I joined Mimi Lenox's new meme, The Queen's Meme and this is my first post.

Travis says I sort of meander through ideas for posts as they come to me. But I do like the idea of consciously having a list of kinds of posts for those times when I'm not up for being creative from scratch.

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff says That's really neat, the idea of mixing up types of blog posts. Over the years, I've shifted so much in my blog's focus. I don't do the writing craft-oriented posts I used to. Perhaps I ought to get back to that, to a degree.

Sandy says I'm not sure what a different type of blog post would be, hum, I post places I've been and talk about what to do, what not to do, and show pictures. How would one alter that?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 117 - 13 Views of My Garden

Welcome to my garden!

Stroll around, savour the sights and scents. Some of these blooms appeared earlier in the season, some are out now.

1 - Quince

2 - Forget-me-nots

3 - Peonies

4 - Kolkwitzia

5 - Astilbe

6 - My Jacobite Alba rose

7 - Bellflower

8 - Blackberry blossom

9 - Daylilies

10 - Clematis

11 - My Monster Rose bush which could take over the world! Otherwise known as an American Pillar rambler.

12 - The Aunt Sheila rose (the one we planted in remembrance of her)

13 - Common fleabane and heirloom lilies which I bought at the Cole Harbour farm museum plant sale a few years ago.

Jennifer McKenzie says Your garden shows the love you have for gardening.

Rims says A remedy for all despair :)...see, the view of it is turining me poetic :)

I Beati says My favorite post today. Oh the joy and therapy in this garden.

Wordless Wednesday - 110 - Scroll down for The Queen's Meme

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Queen's Meme - What Is The Meaning of Thyme and Other Deep Questions

The Cooking Meme (What Is The Meaning of Thyme and Other Deep Questions)

1. If you could put thyme in a bottle, what is the first thing that you'd like to do?

I'd hand it over to my mom, with whom my husband and I live. She'd use it to make something incredibly divine, some kind of mushroom-y chicken-y thing. Mmm...I can taste it now...

2. Do eggs really crack or do they merely have a nervous breakdown?

Eggs crack for the most part. They can withstand a lot, but in the right hands they fold like a souffle.

Photo by Ewing Galloway

3. Why are you whipping the butter? What did it ever do to you?

There's a lot about butter that most people don't understand. It doesn't want to be hard. It longs to reveal its softer side.

But it needs the permission of a thorough whipping before it will succumb.

4. Do your spoons spoon in the drawer? Have you ever noticed? And more importantly, if wooden spoons spoon do they get splinters?

My spoons don't really make it as far as the drawer. To be honest, I've got most of my flatware still wrapped in newspaper from our move here 10 years ago. My husband and I dug out a knife, fork and spoon each when we first got settled in Cole Harbour. These utensils just keep moving from the sink to the dish rack to being used while we eat. Sink, dish rack, eat. It's minimalism at its best.

As for the wooden spoons - I used to have some when I lived in Toronto and used to cook. I've never unwrapped them, either. I pop in frozen dinners or eat my mom's exquisite creations. It's all part of my paring down on non-writing-activity in order to claim more writing time in a 24-hour-period.

5. You hear: "Dumpling, my Dumpling, come hither." The candles are lit, the fondue is dipping, the Godiva is pouring, the scallions are steaming and the music is playing.....but wait, the windows are open. Why did you close them?

I don't want the fog to roll in and dampen our smoldering evening...

6. Do you need a recipe to cook or are you a bohemian chef? Show us your reckless and wild side in the kitchen. Don't have one? Here's a recipe I made just for you: You will need a spatula, a whisk, a gallon of Chardonnay, a banana and a rump roast. What is the name of your dish?

First of all - the roast goes up in my mom's freezer. I don't handle raw meat. Blech.

Here's what I cook up with the rest:

Two glasses for the wine
Fill, sip, enjoy

One banana
Peel it
You and significant other each start from one end and eat toward a kiss in the middle

Chase partner with whisk
Change places
Run from partner with whisk
Laugh and drink more wine

Trade whisk for spatula
Repeat chasing, running and laughing
If caught, suffer the consequences
Trade places and repeat

Was there supposed to be a dinner in there somewhere?

Order in.

7. After dinner, the dishes are so dirty that the dishwasher refuses to wash them. What did they say to get in hot water?

They said "Mercy! Mercy!" And the dishwasher relented. Because the dishwasher is me...

8. Is your pot black?

It's stainless steel. At least, that's what I remember...

9. What is the sexiest spice or condiment in your cabinet? What makes it so?

Cajun spice mix. It connects me to any Cajun cousins I might have, and makes me wonder who they could be. And it gives a kick of joie de vivre to a wide range of recipes.

10. How much crock is really in your crock pot?

My crock pot is all crock, all the time. A pot implies cooking, and I'm quite confident the only thing you'll find on the crock pot is a layer of dust from non-use.

Visit Mimi at The Queen's Meme if you'd like to play.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 24 - The Ugly Truth

As some of you may know by now, when it comes to Gerard Butler, I react to him on a cellular level.

This may skew my reaction to a film like The Ugly Truth, which is getting stinkeroo reviews from critics - and enthusiastic endorsement from filmgoers.

Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a successful TV producer but unsuccessful dater.

She inherits Mike (Gerard Butler,) a low-rent shock jock who tells The Ugly Truth on his call-in show. The truth as he sees it regarding the battle of the sexes, that is.

Abby's boss wants the ratings Mike is guaranteed to pull in.

Abby wants to date her new neighbor, hunky doctor Colin (Eric Winter) without destroying her chances before they even begin.

Mike offers to coach her past her own dismal track record if she'll give his show a chance.

Here's the thing. Even though we follow Abby more than we follow Mike, the film is really presented from Mike's male point of view. This is a how-to-find-true-love romantic comedy told through a jaded man's focus - an outlook that is raunchy, obnoxious and unrepentent.

What I find really strange is the derision handed out to The Ugly Truth by critics, when I laughed throughout the movie - and so did everyone in the theatre.

So here's a battle of the critics versus the filmgoers.

Peter Travers from Rolling Stone gives it half a star out of four stars.

"Katherine Heigl once complained that Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, in which she starred, was way too guy-centric and made the women humorless shrews. Heigl owes Apatow an apology. The Ugly Truth, Heigl's new romcom, is the real sexist swill."

Internet Movie Data Base user michelem3 says, "I saw this movie at a preview event last Friday night and it was hilarious. The sold out cinema was laughing hysterically throughout the movie. Butler has great comedic timing complimenting his tough guy persona. If you are expecting to see a typical romantic comedy you will be surprised, because this R rated film is geared toward the men in the audience as well as the ladies. Grab your significant other and be prepared to laugh and enjoy the movie together."

Jason Anderson for The Toronto Star gives it one and a half stars out of four.

"These reluctant co-workers declare a truce when a hunky surgeon moves into Abby's apartment complex and she solicits Mike's advice on how to land him. Imagine what follows as George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion except with a potty-mouthed Henry Higgins instructing Eliza Doolittle on how to dress more like a stripper."

From IMDB user LadyMacbeth75:

"I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. My husband was happy to watch a romantic comedy from the male perspective as well as the female for a change. The typical fairy tale elements seem to go by the wayside here and we're left with a harsher but very funny battle-of-the-sexes comedy for the times in which we now live."

Manohla Dargis from the New York Times writes:

"That tap-tap-tapping sound you hear is another nail being driven into the coffin of the romantic comedy. Which leads to The Ugly Truth, a cynical, clumsy, aptly titled attempt to cross the female-oriented romantic comedy with the male-oriented gross-out comedy that is interesting on several levels, none having to do with cinema."

IMDB user tomjanjess says:

"I have not laughed so much over a movie as I did watching The Ugly Truth. This film was hysterical. It is a must see movie for both men and women. The scene in the restaurant just about sent me into a fit. I could not stop laughing. The baseball scene was just as funny. Guys would relate to a lot of the scenes in this movie. I cannot understand how the critics rate a movie poorly when the audience was roaring with laughter from beginning to end."

Liam Lacey from the Globe and Mail gives it one star out of four:

"If Doris Day and Rock Hudson had made jokes about vibrating panties and fellatio at the ballpark, just think how much funnier their romantic comedies would have been. That appears to have been the brainwave behind The Ugly Truth. The script was written by three women. They try desperately to copy Judd Apatow's recipe for romantic raunch but succeed only in reversing his snigger-to-flinch ratio."

IMDB user tabuno says:

"This romantic comedy had two gut wrenching belly laugh scenes, along with a more in-your-face sexist look at the differences between men and women which in some ways could be closer to the truth than more 'enlightened' people may want to admit. It is understandable why most critics didn't have much positive to say, but these politically-incorrect sexist comments have at their core some resonance in how men and women actually feel and think. This is a movie that says what many of us want to say, but are afraid to admit, but also enlightens the mass audience with some actual relationship truths by the end of the movie. Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler do have their own chemistry and there is a hidden playfulness that comes out that for some critics might seem childishly crude, but in many respects is so real."

As for myself...well...I could watch Gerry on the dance floor for hours but had to settle for a mere few minutes...sigh...

CLICK HERE to watch the set-up scene from The Ugly Truth

Ms Snarky Pants says That looks really cute! Katherine Heigel is one of my favorites.

Shelley Munro says It sounds like my kind of movie. I never agree with the critics anyway.

Anne MacFarlane says Saw it. Laughed but the vulgarity...Actually, I still feel a little "eeew" when I think of it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Poetry Train Monday - 111 - In His Neighbour's Boat

Ride the Poetry Train!

For today's piece of found poetry, I'm heading back into my 1980 diary.

That summer I lived the thrill of my first romantic relationship. This is from an afternoon and evening spent at my boyfriend's house. He lived on a lake and was one of seven kids. Coming from a family of two sisters myself, I just adored being gathered into the mob of his large family.

In His Neighbour's Boat

Mr. Savage found me a
Bathing suit

Philip, Barney, Brigie and I
Went swimming

The water was

I stayed for supper
Clam chowder, which was

Pat lent me his
PA High School grey sweatpants
And an orange jacket

I went sailing
With Philip
In his neighbour's boat

While the neighbour
- Peter -
And Philip
Set up the boat

I held onto Hannah
Peter's delightful little baby

Was a lot of fun
We had to
Watch out for

The waves
They made
Were fun

- Julia Smith, July 26, 2009 / original text July 22, 1980

Dorothy says I loved being part of my friends big families, too.

Shelley Munro says I loved the sense of fun and family you showed us in this poem.

Louise says Loved it, Julia :o)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Stock Sunday - 9

Last week I brought you the story of Rashid Kamalov and my attachment to the Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern.

For today's Summer Stock Sunday, I invite you to take a harbourside spot and enjoy the 2009 Parade of Sail.

Incredible but true - I work right on the waterfront, and headed out among the throng when my lunch break started at 12:00. I snagged a spot beside the wharf where all the navy brass and other dignitaries were sitting.

That meant that I was in the right spot to get a ship's gun salute each time one of the tall ships passed. And Halifax had a gun in place to return the salute. I just loved it.

Two fire boats began their celebratory spray - the signal that the parade was officially started.

As the host country, the parade's lead ship was the schooner Bluenose II. That's her in the background behind the piper.

If you've ever had a Canadian dime in your hand, you were looking at the Bluenose II.

And here's the real thing.

The Pride of Baltimore II gives Halifax its salute.

Our navy guys return the salute with a farewell.

The Netherlands' Europa glides past the Nova Scotia Hospital, a mental health facility on the Dartmouth side of the harbour. I watched the 2007 Parade of Sail from there.

The Amistad heads out for open water.

The rigging of the Picton Castle towers over the crowd as the three-masted barque sails past.

The Picton Castle

US Coast Guard training ship, the Eagle

At this point, my lunch hour was over and I had to head reluctantly back to work. The Kruzenshtern hadn't made an appearance yet, as she always ends the parade as the last out of the harbour.

One of my friends at work dashed out at 2:00, saying, "The Russian one's going now!"

Desperate, I called another woman from my team to cover my position for five minutes so I could dash out and get a final look at the Kruzenshtern.

Ah. There she was. Even missing the top of her foremast, which broke off on the way up the eastern seaboard, between Bermuda and South Carolina, she's still a grand lady.

I hurried back inside, but my manager knew I was chomping at the bit to get back out there. He gave me the okay to watch the end of the Parade of Sail. So out I went again, snapping away with my camera.

The Mist of Avalon leans into the wind, followed by the sloop Fazizi, and in the distance the Silva, whose home port is Halifax.

The Harvey Gamage is followed by the Unicorn, with the Kruzenshtern in the distance.

The Sagres, from Portugal.

This is me standing beside the Sagres when she was moored near the Kruzenshtern. Just wanted you to get a peek at the red-cross-detailing on the front of her sails.

Brasil's Cisne Branco rounds the final corner as she heads out to sea. Following her is my final moments with the Kruzenshtern - can you tell I dread the farewell?

The Cisne Branco.

Until we meet again...

For more Summer Stock Sunday, drop by Robin's blog at Around the Island.

Robin says All those tall ships have me itching to reread the Master and Commander series.

Dina says I enjoyed your series very much. Fancy all those in one place, super ships...

Akelamalu says I will content myself with your great photos of the event. :)