I’m just going to throw this out there into the ether and hope it’s absorbed by the collective unconscious. Just planting seeds.

1. If you wish to be taken seriously as a writer (or just as a human being), do not pepper your writing with emoticons. 🙂 See? It’s not cute. It undermines any point you might be trying to make.
2. Similarly, beginning a sentence with “um, so, well…” or some combination of such non-words is a great way to sound wishy washy. In live conversation, “ums” happen. They just slip out. We’re not all great live debaters. But in writing, online or otherwise, you have as much time as you need to formulate full sentences free of such detritus. Stand behind what you write! Don’t modify it with uncertainty.
3. The level discourse will never rise if you insist on stringing together five synonymous adjectives every other sentence. As a wise woman once sat me down to tell me, adjectives are not your friends. Use them sparingly. Hyperbole will get you nowhere.

Let’s do the best we can by the words we’ve got, ok?


Don Valley Parkland

August 23, 2010

I almost died to write this story for Saturday’s National Post. I love love love the Brickworks, especially their awesome Saturday farmer’s market, which sells the greatest waffle I have ever eaten in Canada, but man do they ever need better infrastructure for cyclists to get to them.

Right now, unless you take a complicated secret route of ravine paths from Rosedale, you have to bike on the Bayview Extenstion to get to them. I made the extremely foolish choice of taking Rosedale Valley Rd., which is one of those awesome Toronto routes that has a bike lane that doesn’t connect to any other bike lanes – it just spits you out onto the Bayview Extension which is, for all intents and purposes to a cyclist, a highway. With a very busted up and broken shoulder that is not a functional bike lane even though cyclists are technically allowed on the Bayview Extension. And then there are the parts where you have to dodge cars coming off of the Don Valley Parkway. As thrilling as this all was, it’s not exactly ideal.

Of course, once I finally got to the Brickworks in the most terrifying way possible, I realized the less death-defying route I should have taken in the first place. But then I wouldn’t be all hopped up on cyclist self-righteousness.

In other Don Valley secret cycling adventures, this weekend I biked the entire length of the Don Valley Rec Trail, which goes from Lakeshore Boulevard right up to Lawrence. The southern half of the trail is somewhat post-apocalyptic looking (remember that demented Canadian kids’ show The Odyssey? It looks like that), but once you get north of the Bloor Street Viaduct (a bridge whose true beauty is best appreciated from below; riding under it is my favourite part of the trail), it’s positively bucolic. Well, as bucolic as it can be, considering the occasional glimpses of highway. You ride through a bunch of hidden parks, including Lung Cancer Grove. I assume the name is intended to raise awareness of lung cancer, and not as a warning to passersby of the immediate risks of lung cancer within the grove, but you never know in this city.

Summer workin’

August 21, 2010

Some links to some stuff what I wrote while I wasn’t writing here.

Popcorn Panels

Peter, Chris and I were pleasantly surprised by The A Team back in June
. However, I will not be discussing any more movies featuring Jessica Biel on the Popcorn Panel. She’s too beautiful. I mean boring.

Viewed as an actual film, Knight and Day is appalling, but viewed as a documentary about Tom Cruise’s self-image, Knight and Day is a work of genius.

– A notorious lesbian, a film critic, and I talk about The Kids are All Right. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s really just the whitest movie ever made.

EVERYONE IS A RUSSIAN SLEEPER AGENT! This blog post will self-destruct.

Bill Murray as funeral director. I’d hire him.

– And finally, this week we did a live online chat about Scott Pilgrim. I read all six of the books, which I prefer to the movie, but the movie is still extremely delightful. I’m just mad that they cut out the fight scene in Metro Ref and the Stark Existential Horror of Honest Ed’s.


I spoke with Jovanni Sy about his neato show A Taste of Empire, which is theatre as a cooking show. Or vice versa. Please note the sidebar, wherein I discuss the extreme trauma caused by Skylight, in which a character prepares a full pasta dinner, which smells fantastic to the audience and makes everyone hungry, but which is immediately deposited into the garbage. Not a show to be seen on an empty stomach.

Public napping = art

Birds that could kill you dead. This was one of my favourite stories to write in a long time. I got to hold an eagle owl and a Harris hawk!

I took some other photos too.

My Summerworks preview for The Star is decidedly not the most exciting exciting article about this year’s festival, but at least mine won’t get me any libel cases.

The Big Huge Guy

August 17, 2010

Hm. It’s been awhile. I mostly use this blog to keep track of the articles I’ve published and to expound on the various thoughts that flit through my brain about my various professions (this summer, you can add radio producer to that list) and sometimes to share very important otter news.

What I don’t tend to use this blog for is personal life venting. But sometimes big things happen and who cares about personal vs. professional and I’ve been trying to find the words to write about Wayne for two months, which is why I haven’t had any words for anything else.

At the end of May, the Canadian theatre and film community lost a fantastically talented actor and advocate and I lost a dear family friend. You can read all about Wayne Nicklas’ career in this memorial in the Winnipeg Free Press by my pal Randy King. Wayne’s passing is a huge loss to the community, but it’s also a huge personal loss to anyone lucky enough to have known him. He was only 59.

Wayne and his wife Judy (the adorable redhead on the right) are family to me. As you can see, we go way back (yeah, that’s me in the overalls being held by my mom). In our house he was known as the Big Huge Guy. You can’t tell from this photo, but Wayne stood at least six and a half feet tall. But the nickname would be apt even if Wayne had been a little person, due to his Big Huge heart, his Big Huge personality, and his Big Huge sense of humour.

When my parents moved to Toronto from Winnipeg in the 70s, they became an unofficial guest house for all their friends and acquaintances who passed through town from the Prairies. So growing up, we saw Wayne and Judy more often than most of our blood relatives, because they usually came to Toronto a couple of times a year. (Which was fine by me, because Wayne and Judy were more fun, frankly. Also, they were COOL AND GLAMOUROUS because they were ACTORS!) I always got a kick out of seeing Wayne show up in a movie (among many other roles, but these are the most memorable to me, he’s Fairuza Balk’s cop dad in The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, and one of the board members in The Saddest Music in the World – the only movie star he ever got excited about meeting was Isabella Rosellini).

Wayne and Judy picked me up from the airport (and once, memorably, the train station) whenever I visited Winnipeg. They would buy me lunch and we’d talk about life and exchange Seinfeld quotes. Wayne especially liked bringing up Kramer’s unseen friend Bob Sacamento, for some reason – I think he probably just liked the way the name sounded. Wayne had a way of making you feel like the funniest, most clever person in the world: if you cracked a joke he liked, he’d repeat the last line out loud appreciatively and laugh his Big Huge laugh. He was warm, kind, and full of great stories. Even in the middle of summer, Winnipeg will be a much colder place for his not being there.

I miss the Big Huge Guy. Hugely.