Friday, October 24, 2014

Russell Brand gets Harper

I'm just reading that there's been a new shooting in the U.S. - and I'm thinking of what Russell Brand says in this brilliant, infuriating diatribe - that when white people are the mad shooters, it's not "useful" violence and so arouses less frantic media and political attention, unlike when men who are connected to Islam wreak havoc, which serves a different agenda.

He can be difficult to take, but he is speaking the truth. Watching Stephen Harper through his eyes is unforgettable, and what he says about Obama - on the nail, it is to weep.

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Russell Brand The Trews (E174). Reaction to the violence in Ottawa involving the killings of two officers. Canada's prime minister has called the most recent...
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A. L. Kennedy writes for us

I'm just about to take "On Writing" by A. L. Kennedy back to the library, wanted to share a couple of quotes with you. She writes about seeing one of her published books for the first time:

Although I've seen a number of my own books by now, I always experience the same little shock when I unwrap them and they look so ... well, like a book - a book that anyone might have written - a proper book, by someone else.

One minute they're a buzzing pain behind your eyes, then they're a screen full of gibberish and rewrites, then they're mangled papers in coffee- and red-stained heaps and then suddenly they've scrubbed up nicely and are off to meet the readers. Or the pulpers. Either way, that first moment you meet what is effectively a neatly bound section of your own mind is certainly an excuse for a short pause, maybe a cup of tea and perhaps a bit of hefting, before you slot it into the shelf with all its brothers and sisters.

I love that - "a neatly bound section of your own mind." May you all have that experience. And here's a beautiful diatribe about art:

When we make art, art to which we commit ourselves, art which isn't simply a commercial artefact, a pose, a gesture toward a concept, when we go all out and really create, we do a number of remarkable things. We take on a little of what we usually set aside for the divine - the troubles and delights which spring from overturning entropy and bringing something out of nothing. We excel. We offer something of ourselves, or from ourselves, to others. We allow and encourage a miracle - one human being can enter the thoughts and life of another ...

What we make can reveal us to ourselves as greater than we were and help us practise addressing the world with courage and - because it is practical to involve such a thing - with love. As the listener, the viewer, the reader, the recipient of art, once again we are, of course, encouraged to be greater.

Booth 1033

The ZOOMER SHOW - Booth 1033. That's where I'll be on display tomorrow, under the sign that reads "BETH KAPLAN, AUTHOR." I'm right opposite the Rose Theatre from Brampton, whose impressive display features videos of their performances, and I am very close to the Main Stage where the Beatles tribute band will be playing tomorrow at noon.

During my childhood, when we were travelling and strangers asked my scientist father what he did, he used to reply, "I'm in the soft-shell crab business." I understood - he just didn't want to get into an explanation about cell biology and experiments with yeasts. Well, today is as close to a purveyor of soft-shell crabs as I have ever felt. The Zoomer Show is for businesses, heavy-duty businesses with giant displays of cars, storm windows, sliding shelves and drawers for clutter management, at least one funeral home, various spas and the Reliable Living Centre - what a great name. Nothing like a little reliable living.

And tucked in a corner is Beth Kaplan, author, with two card tables and folding chairs provided by her handyman John, blow ups of her book covers scotch-taped to the curtains, her collection of Beatle t-shirts on hangers, a framed picture of Paul McCartney that she has cherished since 1964, and some books. I am author, hear me roar.

 Before.
After. That's the blur of Michelle, my trusty assistant, who's guiding me through all this. Tomorrow, the books themselves will be out of the boxes and on display. Woo hoo.

My student Carol told me yesterday that she had a booth at the Zoomer Show once to sell her memory game LifeTimes. "People are mostly there to pick up free stuff and don't want to buy. But it'll be great exposure!" she beamed. We already met the guy unloading stuff for the Rose Theatre, Brampton, who wanted to talk all about his love for the Beatles and who certainly did not want to buy a book. So. It'll be an experience, in all likelihood a never-to-be-repeated one. Beth Kaplan and her soft-shell crabs. Buy one today!

Day Tripper, ABBAMania, yoga, food&more. Zoomer Show TO Oct 25-26. Free tickets: $12 @door
I'm feeling awful, so am thrilled that our set-up took an hour and now I have the day to finish editing Sunday's pieces while sitting in the sun. I will move as little as possible. It will be a busy weekend - soft-shell crabs all day Saturday and possibly part of Sunday (though secretly I hope not), then Sunday afternoon, So True, at which I'm doing a 20 or 25 minute spiel.

Go lie down, girl.

However, they're ripping up the street right outside the house with pneumatic drills today, who knows why, and the noise is terrible. Yesterday I got out of bed to go the the Metro Central YMCA's 30th anniversary celebration - I've been a member there for 29 years. Think I'll go to my beloved Y and sit in the steam.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

So True stories, Sunday

We just had a rehearsal for our reading event on Sunday, and at the end, Jason said, This is our strongest group of stories yet. Well, I'm not sure, because the last two groups of stories were pretty damn strong. But there are wonderful tales to be heard on Sunday. Eight students reading powerful and beautiful true stories, and then little old me.

That is, if I have a voice. I'm a bit better but still croaking and snuffling. Phooey. Come anyway. I'm very proud of these writers. God knows what I'll come up with.

The best $10 show you'll ever see.

Our country is recovering from its horrible shock of yesterday, and coming to terms with the fact that the shooting was not a revolution, not an armed group of vicious terrorists - it was one crazy man living in a homeless shelter. The shooting a few days ago - one very disturbed young man. Yet the tragic disasters perpetrated by these lunatics will cost our country billions in new security precautions, and perhaps result also in a loss of civil rights. Yes, there was the heart-warming spectacle of politicians praising our great country in unison. But tomorrow, they'll be whipping up hysteria and paranoia, which win elections.

We are at war. We have just sent planes to drop bombs on people somewhere far away. How hypocritical to be surprised when violence erupts on our front door, even if it's not a jihadist plot, it's just a crazy man with a very big gun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

jihad in Ottawa?

It's 1.30 on Wednesday afternoon in a horrible new world in Canada. Nobody knows anything except there was shooting on Parliament Hill and people are dead and the CBC is going nuts.

Canada has thrown its lot in with the United States in bombing small angry nations in the Middle East, and angry, disaffected young men, even in our once-peaceful nation, have an angry new cause. We will all suffer as a result, and Stephen Harper will triumph. That's all I can think as I hear of this hideous tragedy - that it plays right into the paranoid, evil hands of Stephen Harper.

I had a cab driver yesterday, a grey-haired man from the Caribbean who said another driver, a Muslim, told him that he agreed with ISIS because it is only following the Koran. The driver said, "I said to him, that book tells you to kill and maim in the name of your god and you READ that book? You believe in that book? What kind of human being are you?"

He looked at me in the mirror. "I hate religion now, all of them," he said wearily. "Destroying lives all over the world with false promises to stupid people."

They say that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. So let's take a hard look at the success rate of bombing and invading Islamic nations.

Sad. Seriously depressing.

Luckily, for the first time in days, there's a bit of sun in the sky. I have found a patch shining into my bedroom and pulled a chair over to sit in it. No matter how bad things get, there's delight in a patch of sun.

PS Great op-ed in support of John Tory in the Star today - by Zanana Akande, "past president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and a former NDP MPP and cabinet minister." If Zanana Akande likes him, then I can too. My mind is finally made up.