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Archive for January, 2010

Welcome to a new series on – you guessed it – my favourite things. When it comes to things I like, I’m still pretty teenager-ish; I like to rank and list them. I find lists of things quite delicious, actually.


I love movies. When I was a kid I dreamed of being a screenwriter/director – my childhood and teenager diary entries are filled with details of my Oscar acceptance speeches, what I’d wear if I appeared on David Letterman, and fake articles of me being interviewed in Premiere magazine. I’ve since given up the film making dream, but I still love movies.

My Top Ten Favourite Movies*:

1. Annie Hall: From the fashions to the dialogue to the shots of Manhattan to the squirmy, uncomfortable and downright adorable Diane Keaton (why do you think my son’s name is Keaton? Seriously.), this is Woody Allen at his nebbishy, hilarious, bittersweet best. It’s been my favourite movie of all time ever since I was fifteen – in my grade 10 yearbook photo I’m wearing a white shirt, tie and men’s vest, totally a la Mademoiselle Hall (no one got it, though – they thought I looked like a private school girl). I have this poster hanging in my front hallway (copyright 1977 United Artists Corporation, by the way). (Hannah and Her Sisters is a close second for my favourite Woody Allen movie.)

2. Harold & Maude: Another very formative movie for me in my teen years – I think I first saw it when I was 14, and then my beloved and very inspiring English 11 teacher, Ms. Laidlaw, once screened it in class (much to my heart-stopping delight, she also screened Hannah and Her Sisters!). The story of a 20-year-old cutie nerd who likes to pretend to commit suicide (much to the horror of his Grey Gardens-type mother) who falls in love with a wacky 80-year-old lady, Harold & Maude made me want to live in a converted train car, own a Hearse, crash funerals, be wild and carefree, and one day name my daughter Maude. Also, the Cat Stevens soundtrack is totally kickin’.

3. The Graduate: Speaking of soundtracks, does The Graduate not have one of the best soundtracks ever? Maybe it’s just because I’m a massive Simon & Garfunkel fan. Anyway, Dustin Hoffman is brilliant, I wanted all of Mrs. Robinson’s clothes as well as her house and all its interior decor, and the sexual innuendos were both tantalizing and mysterious to my 13-year-old self. Also, I do believe that this movie started my love of hotel bars.

4. When Harry Met Sally: Of all the movies I’ve watched in my life thus far, this is probably the one I’ve seen the most. I’ve seen it probably, oh, hundreds of times. It’s my sick day movie, my Christmas movie, my sisters movie (the three of us have watched it together many a time) and my general comfort movie. I’ll never get sick of it. It’s so quotable, so loveable. Billy Crystal is a genius. It has everything. Also, as  teenager I of course wanted to look and act just like Meg Ryan (partly because she was married to Dennis Quaid, and I had a huge crush on him).

5. The Double Life of Veronique: Could Irene Jacob be any more fabulous? This is another movie I first saw when I was a teenager and fell in love with it (what is wrong with me? see below). I love stories involving doppelgangers. And I really love the cinematography – everything is so yummy and warm and candlelit-looking. There’s this one scene where Veronique comes home and opens a package in her hallway, and the sound of it is so wonderfully crinkly and full of promise – that whole scene gives me that lovely, dreamy soothed feeling, which I also get when I watch someone writing slowly on a chalkboard, or gently rummaging through a box full of pencil crayons (you know that feeling? I’m getting it just describing it!).

6. Big: There’s such an element of enchantment in Big. The idea of a child in the grown-up world, finding credibility and power by being in a man’s body, is so fascinating. Plus, his toy ideas were so cool. What kid didn’t watch that movie and think: hey, they should totally get kids to design toys. That would be awesome!

7. Hannah and Her Sisters: Woody Allen again. (I really am a huge Woody fan.) How much did I want Max von Sydow’s loft apartment, with the wall of books? This movie also started my love of e.e. cummings and my lifelong desire to go to New York City (still haven’t made it there – but one day I shall!).

8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: I have the authentic 1986 poster in my living room, hanging over the TV. The tag line reads: “Leisure Rules.” That sums it up, I think. Young Ferris may have been a snot, but he sure knew how to have a good time.

9. Moulin Rouge: (Christy enters the modern period – this one was made in 2001!) I’m not usually a fan of big, loud, brassy musicals, but I could watch this all day. Maybe it’s because of Ewan McGregor and the way he smiles so passionately and gleefully when he sings. (Let’s face it, it is because of Ewan McGregor.)

10. Sideways: I loved how episodic this movie was, and also Paul Giamatti’s character Miles’s struggles to be recognized as a writer. And as if the part when “two tonnes of fun”‘s husband runs jigglingly, nakedly out to Miles’s car isn’t one of the funniest scenes in cinematic history. No matter what they say though, I’m a fan of merlot.

* The first five movies in this list have been my top three favourites since I was fourteen or fifteen. Is this a problem, I wonder? Looking at this list, it’s pretty much like I don’t think any good movies have been made since 1990. Either my tastes are solid and unwavering, or maybe I am mentally stuck in my early teens. Maybe the majority of these movies have stuck with me so vividly, so intensely, because I saw them during my most formative and influential years. I was so impressionable then, and now it takes something pretty darned spectacular to become one of my favourites. Hmmm… there must be some sort of developmental psychology theory behind that.

Oh, and there are three further movies that deserve an Honourable Mention as the Goerzen Girls’ (my sisters and I) most oft-quoted movies: Coming to America, Innerspace and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. “Just let your Soul Glow, feel it oh-so-silky smooth, just let it shine through…” “Gee, so tiny” “Bit of a knot there, Russ.” Something about them just stuck in our shared lexicon – we’ve been saying those same quotes for more than 20 years now!

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Because I’m in the midst of a good ol’ fashioned de-clutter. Or attempting to, anyway. I’m trying to start off easy by focusing on certain areas of my apartment like the shelves above the desk, the craft nook, my closet and the magazine bookshelf (which is a beast and I think might topple over at any moment and bust a huge hole in the floor – that’s what years worth of Sassy, Victoria, Bust, and Children’s Literature Association Quarterly will do!).

I decided to start with the shelves above the computer desk in the kitchen. I took all the stuff off them and dumped it on the dining room table. That was three days ago. Not much has happened. I could blame it on the fact that it’s very difficult to de-clutter when you’re dealing with a non-napping baby, but that’s only part of the problem. Okay, so it’s been a busy few days, but sooner than later we’ll want to eat dinner at the dining room table again! By the way, that black thing smack dab in the centre of the top of the photo? That’s a joystick, recently unearthed, that I bought a while ago to play games on my Commodore 64 simulator. Alice in Wonderland and Impossible Mission, are you kidding me? The highly pixellated games of my childhood! That’s going to be my reward for cleaning up, I think. I wonder if I’ll remember how to defeat those scary electrifying robots in Impossible Mission

I’ve always been a cluttery person. When I was a kid (maybe up to age 10 or so) I actually kept a very neat, tidy room. I can remember fluffing and tidying my prized stuffed animal shelf, and dusting my ceramic ornaments. After that, I don’t know what happened. My parents divorced and room cleanliness all went downhill. I can remember having to clear a path in the sludge of Archie comics, dirty underwear and other random things to get to my bed when I was a teenager. My husband Josh remembers the legendary bathroom that my sisters and I shared when he and I first got together: there was such a crusty pile of used towels on the floor that you could no longer see the linoleum, and a bottle of Advils that had dumped out probably months earlier littered the floor like little crushed red molehills. I guess that goes beyond clutter – that’s just downright disgusting messy, isn’t it?

Being married to Josh definitely keeps that in check, but I am still a clutterbug. He puts up with me so well. Oh gad, I can’t even think about tackling my closet…

Reading: Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor. Actually, I’m not reading it quite yet, but in a few minutes when I go to bed I’m going to crack the cover. I love the promise of a brand new book – it’s like dipping your knife into a new jar of peanut butter. I’ve really been enjoying Laini Taylor’s blog, too – extremely inspiring!

Listening to: Rich Terfry (it took me so long to figure out what his name actually is – I thought it was “Register Fry” for the longest time, and so did my best friend Heather!) and Tom Allen on CBC Radio Two

Watching: Over Christmas I became a total Food Network addict. How awesome are Top Chef Masters, Chopped and Iron Chef America, anyway? Michael Pollan wrote that cooking has become a spectator sport… and that’s okay, right?

P.S. I’ve typed all this while wearing a sleeping Keaton strapped to my chest in an Ergo carrier. Works remarkably well!

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Mama Dates

A trusty breast pump + an easygoing baby who doesn’t mind taking a bottle from time to time = a fun night on the town for mama!

Tonight (along with my friends Maryn, Wendy and Kim) I took in ‘Nevermore,’ a play at the Arts Club Theatre about the life and death of Edgar Allan Poe. *sigh* What could be better than catchy musical numbers, elaborate costumes (I wanted all of them!), great storytelling and Gothic influences? Not much, I tell you, not much.

Before I had Keaton I worried about losing my lifestyle, which involved being busy with social plans of one kind or another pretty much seven nights a week. At the same time, though, a lot of the time I felt really overextended and busy and way too pre-planned, and amongst all the coffee dates and get-togethers and plays I craved some sort of slowness. Having a baby has dramatically cut down on my nights out (but not really my social life – luckily I have many baby-friendly friends!), but I sure do like taking in an arts event or a pub quiz once in a while – hence, the mama date was born! Now my nights out are something to be savoured and enjoyed. Yay. I thought I might feel some mother guilt, leaving my babe for a night. But you know what? I don’t! Mama dates are so important, essential, restorative and recharging for me – I feel like I can be an even better mum to Keats afterward.

I couldn’t do this without my wonderful husband Joshua, who I’m encouraging to take some time for daddy dates – going to work does not equal time for yourself. (Are you reading this, Josh? Go see ‘Avatar’ on Thursday night, seriously!).

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Bibs ‘n Bias Tape

Gee, 13 days have gone by without me posting – not that it really matters, but I was really trying to keep up with regular posts. *sigh* I guess a bit of a January funk and a busted computer can get in the way. Fortunately homeopathics (for the funk) and a new brain (for the computer, although sometimes these days I feel like I could use a replacement, too!) seem to have fixed both problems.

Two of my dear friends have had babies recently – Andrea in Germany, with little Linus Leopold Reinig (how perfectly German is that!), and Maija more close by in North Van, with her little girl Molly. Following my current embroidery obsession, I thought I’d put together a couple of customized, reversible bibs:

And the other side (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of that 1960s bedsheet!):

After a good deal of my usual percolating (ie. procrastinating), I set to work. Decided to just dive right in and try out a few things I’d never done before: three strands of embroidery floss instead of six (I like the daintier look!); fusible interfacing, which, after the bibs were done I realised really wasn’t necessary; and, most of all, bias tape for the bib strings and binding. I tried making my own using one of those bias tape maker thingies, but I then decided that was much too advanced for my current stage of crafting.

So yeah, the bias tape is uneven in places, and some of the stitching is a little wonky, but they’re done! (Finished in just the nick of time to meet up with Maija and Molly for babytime at the library and a coffee date.) I was helped greatly in applying the bias tape by Amy Karol’s fabulous little video. I’m notorious for not finishing things, and I’ve come to the conclusion that making gifts for people is the perfect way to finish something. If I’m just making something for myself I either don’t ever get started or don’t finish. When I do give a handmade item as a gift it’s always the extra, “topper” gift. I don’t feel like my stuff is good enough to ever be the main gift, and I wonder if I ever will. Maybe after I take some sewing lessons…

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Word.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been a word person. I talked early, I read early, I wrote early (not that I’m trying to paint a picture of myself as some sort of child prodigy – I definitely wasn’t!) – it’s just that words and language are my thing. I lap them up. I love spelling them correctly without having to use spellcheck.

In many ways my life thus far has revolved around words: I’m a bookworm, I’m a writer, I work in communications, I’m a freelance copywriter, I mentor kids in creative writing, and my degrees are in English. I’m a total punctuation and grammar cop – a misused apostrophe on a sign really, really gets to me. One of my fondest workplace memories was spending almost a whole morning consulting various style guides trying to decide how we should punctuate a new event series: “Global Citizenship Speakers Series” (apostrophe on Speaker’s? Plural Speakers? Okay, so we had a little extra time on our hands). But what I’m getting at is that I am a nerd, through and through.

While we’re on the topic, here are some of my favourite words:
– special
– decoration
– cake
– picnic (this one seems to be a perennial favourite with many people)

And some of the words and sayings that really bug me:
– touch base
– going forward
– shits and giggles
– tookus & bupkis (although I generally love how Yiddish words have worked their way into the lexicon, these two really get on my nerves for some reason)
– anyhoo
– I won’t even go into even lamer sayings like “talk to the hand,” etc. because fortunately that awful little trend has passed (I think), and we don’t ever have to mention it again.

Words that I sometimes have a hard time spelling are:
– occasion
– obsession
– recommendation
– accommodation
– Catch a theme here? “Occassion” and “Obssession” kinda look right, too, don’t they?

And some of my favourite books on the topic:
The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

I suddenly feel the urge to copyedit something, anything… see you later!

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Keaton, Keats, Keaters, Keatsos, Keaton Keatonovich, Keats McGee, Keatonia, Keatsomatic, The Keatsomatic Bubble, Keatsmeister, Keatling, K-Rock, K-Tel, MC K.

“By the time [my wife Patty] was calling me Horn F., we were already several months into the rival declension of Bug [their 6-month-old daughter]: Big Bug, Biggy Bug, Biggity Bug, Buggy Do, Biggy Do, Biggy Dooley, Biggity Big Bug, Bogo, Biggo, Bugadooley, Boger, Bobey, Little Bober, Bolo, etc.”- From Room Temperature by Nicholson Baker

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Honouring the Jar

My husband Joshua’s Grandma Violet has a legendary collection of cookie jars from the 1940s and 50s. They are amazing. Last year, with the passing of Josh’s Gramps, dear Vi decided to distribute some of her jars, one to each grandchild. Josh got this awesome walrus one – do you not love its awesome old-fashioned cartoon-ish styling? It’s kinda Betty Boop-esque, methinks. I adore the little bird on his head. I saw it sitting on the top of one of our bookshelves, sadly empty – its purpose in life unfulfilled.

I couldn’t stand to see it like that so I decided to honour Violet’s jar by engaging in a little late-night baking of oatmeal chocolate chip raisin cookies. I moved it to the hallway table – I love the idea of being able to just walk by and snap up a little cookie out of the jar. (Although that could get a little dangerous.)

So here’s another Commitment for 2010: to always keep the walrus’s belly full of home baked cookies. Hmmm… let’s see if I keep it up. This batch is already almost gone (and I only made it yesterday morning! We are Cookie Monsters!), but there’s already a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’m excited to make. All this after so much holiday indulging that Josh and I vowed to only eat salads for the next two weeks. Oh well.

P.S. Do you like how my photos on this blog are absolute shite? Good thing our new Panasonic Lumix is coming in the mail soon. Notice how I’m blaming our current camera on my lame photography skills.

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