Maggie Becomes Christmas Ornament

Maggie Becomes Christmas Ornament
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

My own Dorianne Gray? Will she age whilst I stay fresh and sparkly season after Christmas season?


New Blue and La Vie Morte

New Blue and La Vie Morte Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

The New Blue Finally managed to paint the very last room in the house. It's an icy, yet warm and tingly, blue, set off with sparkly white molding...Creamy. Dreamy...'Scuse me, but the IKEA delivery truck is at the door.


Cas-i-NON This Saturday, I joined about 700 of my neighbours to protest the proposed building of a casino/hotel/entertainment complex in the Peel Basin. Funded by Loto Quebec and supported by the Cirque du Soleil, I can't think of anything more crass than building a luxury venue next to one of Montreal's poorest neighbourhoods (Point St-Charles)--a neighbourhood that has but one bank (a Caisse Populaire), no outdoor swimming facilities and two depressed commercial arteries. With almost a billion dollars to invest in this project, Loto Quebec, the Montreal Board of Trade, and the Cirque du Soleil are all touting the economic benefits of this project for the area. As the protest coalition noted in their literature, *any* investment of a billion dollars will have economic impact. What kind of impact, however, is the subject of debate. The protest coalition notes that placing a casino closer to an impoverished neighbourhood would simply make gambling-related problems more evident. I'm not concerned about increases in crime and don't really support arguments that are quasi-moralistic regarding poor folk and gambling--a chacun son dentifrice, as they say. At one point during the protest march, a woman watching from the sidewalk shouted "Combien billets Loto achetez-vous?" While it's true that the majority of Loto Quebec users are from neighbourhoods like Point St-Charles, there's no point in rubbing their faces in it. Complicity shouldn't equal condemnation. My stance against this stupid, monlithic project comes from a different place--a place where mature economic decisions are made. As an individual, I'm allowed to make questionable choices with my income. I can choose, for example, to spend all my grocery money on a new pair of shoes. When a government agency, however, exhibits the same fiscal decision-making process as me, we're in trouble. Loto Quebec should be buying groceries, not adding to its wardrobe.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.


Bathrooms in New York Travelling to New York for the first time in the 80s, I remember the bathrooms of Chinatown. Typically, I'd carefully descend a set of steep stairs, trying desperately not to touch the walls on either side. I'd open the washroom door with the cuff of my coat, hold my nose, and gingerly squat. While the days of disgusting washrooms in NYC are pretty much over--the cleanest washroom I used in NYC this trip was actually in Chinatown--their number hasn't increased to accommodate the number of Sunday afternoon pee-ers. This Sunday, after a brunch of Dim Sum, I walked through the Lower East Side to Tompkins Square where I have fond memories of staying with a friend of my ex's who lived just off the park. Back then, people made their homes in the Square. Today, the grassy bits are fenced off and you can buy organic vegetables from the green market there every weekend. Anyway, desperate for a bathroom after multiple cups of Jasmine tea, I found the Starbuck's north of the park. These days, Starbuck's can be relied on to provide a mediocre espresso and a clean washroom.Walking in, there was a small line up at the facilities. There was also one available table. I told myself that if the table was available after I exited the washroom, I would buy a coffee and read my book for a bit. I would use the facilities again before I left because--as we all know--coffee is a diuretic. I peed, found the table still free and secured it by boldly draping my leather jacket over the chair. I read a few chapters, and decided it was time to leave. As I was putting on my coat, one guy, then two got up to use the washroom as well. Then, a homeless gal walked in through the front door and beat us all to the punch. I was in a politically (in)correct situation. Tompkins Squre had provided shelter to the homeless. Now Starbuck's toilet--which I rely on as well for hassle-free facilities--was certainly going to be hi-jacked by the homeless gal. While the guys ahead of me complained about the length of time she was taking (she was going to be hours), I decided to hoof it to another Starbuck's and leave the lady in peace and the guys alone to stew in their disdain for the sans abri. There were two more Starbuck's on my walk back to Broadway, each with lineups longer than the last. I decided it would be faster and easier to take the subway two stops to Macy's and use the always clean, always available facilities there. Macy's provided the relief I needed. And I didn't buy a thing....


Arrived in New York again on Friday night, after a delay of two hours due to the heavy rain falling in Montreal and New York. My biggest fear when travelling by plane is not crashing, but being seated next to a larger person with whom I will have to battle for personal space--particuarly that of the middle arm rest. That's why I prefer window seats: at least I can burrow into a corner and feign sleep for the duration of the flight. Happily, my seat mate was a young woman flying to New York to meet a young man she had met in Montreal the week previous. Obviously excited about the romatic weekend ahead of her, she immediately endeared herself to me by saying, "You're makeup really suits you. I'm a makeup artist." We soon discovered that we were staying one block from each other on West 43rd, so made a pact to share a cab from the airport, saving us both the cost of a bottle of decent wine. It was a good flight.


Ad(d) Exec(ute) I met my first NYC ad exec. Account manager for the client for whom we're producing CG footage, he looked vaguely like Elvis Costello. He had the requisite glasses but was sans the desired witty intelligence. Sitting in a small bar not far from the studio where we're working, I was surrounded by our client at the post-production house, my business partner, and the ad exec. I normally don't have problems in mixed company. I'm good with small talk, am up on current affairs, and smile readily to put someone else at ease. Regardless, it didn't matter what I said, whatever it was sat in the middle of the table looking for a home. Perhaps it was because I was shocked and amused to discover the pharmaceutical product for which we are producing imagery is made from hamster embryos. Perhaps because it was I described the images on my head: teddy bear hamster-esses clutching their shaved bellies after having sacrificed the contents of their wombs for a product that alleviates rheumatoid arthritis--some of them held small hot water bottles to their empty uteruses to ease the pain. Perhaps it was because I questioned the annual cost to consumers for the drug: $16,000.00. When I changed the subject and started talking about something else, his eyes held mine and wandered simultaneously to the street scene outside, seemingly seeking escape from the hypnotic hamster wheels he saw in my irises.

Shopping in NYC

Shopping in NYC
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Is happiness contained in a Century 21 shopping bag?


Man-hatt-an: "Black on White" or "Shaken, not Stirred" I've the rare opportunity for an extended stay in New York City due to a contract my company just acquired. I've rented an apartment for me and my partner in the Theatre district, which is central to everything, but near nothing in particular unless you adore Times Square. Last week was hot and muggy. Having packed only Fall clothes, I sweated like a little pig and thought twice about sightseeing in the afternoons. I did get some shopping in and I did make it to the newly renovated MOMA, where I rekindled a relationship with those large Jackson Pollock canvasses for which I have a strong, yet inexplicable, attraction. Black handprints on the canvas make me wonder if the artist is caught in the web of paint. Also: Why are all the patrons in the museum white? And: Why are all the guards black? Sitting in the W hotel's "living room" waiting for some folks to join me, I become facinated by the video projection of the street scene outside. Located on 47th street just off Times Square, the video brings the great unwashed indoors. Inside, patrons--like me--don't sense the irony of beaming the image of a homeless man sitting on a concrete block outside the TCKTs counter into a space of cold, hard privilege. I stand at the bar and order a glass of red wine. Beside me are three men, identically dressed (light blue jeans, untucked cotton shirts), identically coiffed (closed cropped hair), and identically shod (Italian loafers). At first, I think they are hotel staff because what they're wearing seems more uniform than style. I realize they, too, are simply waiting for their order: Vodka Martinis.


Favorite Things I

Favorite Things I
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Bocconcini, fresh basil, tomatoes from the garden, freshly ground pepper and a good olive oil are the only ingredients you need for a party in your mouth.

This is one of the many tomatoes growing in the garden this year. I'm growing three varieties: Beefsteak (a standby), cherry (so I can pick and eat them immediately), and yellow Italian plum (because I like to think I have an exotic side). I think this is a Beefsteak, but I'm not sure because all the seedlings got mixed up when I started transplaninting them to the garden.

All will be revealed in the eating.


Please don't eat me!

Please don't eat me!
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Oh, no, Mr. Bill!

Creamy Iris

Creamy Iris
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Is there anything more beautiful than this?


Random Notes on London: A Cranky Visitor's Perspective Was in London last week for mostly business. That meant I could book myself into a reasonable hotel and hire a car to ferry me back and forth from the airport. London is a lovely city, but it isn't home. Some random cranky thoughts.
  • Bank Machines: People line up for bank machines on Oxford Street, just like people line up here to deal with a real human teller. I'm telling you: if you want to make money in London, start installing third-party ATMs. You'll make a killing.
  • Air Conditioning: There isn't any. It's no fun browsing the 4th floor of the Boots or Borders when you're socks are squishy from sweat. Note to Her Majesty: Heat rises.
  • Selfridge's: What's the point? I can't afford any of the fashion there. I don't even want to finger the Alexander McQueens or the Stella McCartneys. My Dad did send me on a hunt for an issue of "Exchange and Mart", which I found at Selfridge's. Cost? One pound, possibly the cheapest thing there.
  • Single Rooms: London is the only city I know of where if you book a single room, they give you a dinky single bed in a proportionately small room. Ironically, the "en suite" bathrooms in these rooms tend to be larger than the rooms themselves, tempting me to sleep in the bath tub.
  • $30.00 Continental Breakfasts. Two croissants. Two pots of jam. One pot of coffee. Still hungry and feeling used.
  • Fried Eggs: Did you know they actually deep fry them? In pots of boiling oil? Ugh!

Still, there are things I love:

  • Bathrooms: The Portaloo is no longer necessary. There are plenty of coffee shops and the "toilets" are invariably clean. Don't ask for the location of the "washroom", though.... They'll look at you funny and then step back as if they can suddenly smell your humaness.
  • Neal's Yard: The seemingly original homeopathic source. Jars of organic rose petals and colt's foot (plant, not horse), essential oils in amber bottles--everything you need for when you need "remedying" (the latter being a word rarely used in North America).
  • Men's men who treat you like you can take it: I'm not talking about women haters or wife batterers. I'm talking about men who unabashedly flex their testosterone without checking to see if there's a lady in the house. Political correctness be damned! If I can be a girly-girl, then there's room for my exact opposite. I love the smell of sweat in the morning.
  • Real women with real bodies: English women are quite frankly more like me. Few are rail-thin and few are beautiful in the North American big teeth sense. But they always seem comfortable in their skins. I think there's a link between this and the lack of gym facilities available in the city.

Tomorrow? Gardening News....


The Best Things About Revenge of the Sith
  • Yoda: His performance actually had the most emotional resonance of anyone in the film. Kudos to the team of 3D artists who brought him to life. They have more acting ability than Hayden Christenson.
  • Ewan McGregor's Alec Guiness: Ewan obviously watched "Kind Hearts and Coronets" over and over because his imitation of Sir Alec's clipped upper class schoolboy accent was pretty good.
  • A Buff Hayden Christensen: Is he our next Keanu? Num.
The Worst Things About Revenge of the Sith
  • Anakin Skywalker's turning point: Darth Sidius: "Young Skywalker, become evil. It's fun. I guarantee it." Anakin Skywalker: "Oh, okay."
  • Padme's Reduction to a Weepy, Preganant, Housewife: Who stands on a balcony dreamily brushing their hair. Nobody. 'Nuff said.
  • Obi-Wan Leaving Anakin to Burn: "You were my brother. I should have more lines to say, but they're getting in the way of the special effects. Good-bye!" .
  • Darth Vader Taking his first Steps a la Frankenstein: Puh-leeze. This should have been caught in the editing room and re-shot.


Starting Your Own Business: Rule 1: Don't Conduct Business from Your Bed So, I'm revising a proposal for a studio in Asia. Because of the 12 hour time difference, last night I plugged my laptop next to my bed so I could check messages for any last minute changes early in the morning, incorporate them, and re-send the proposal so it arrives at a fairly reasonable time. I wake up at 7:30 and see there are some modifications to make. I go downstairs to make an expresso and then hop back into bed, my laptop nestled on the duvet, and proceed to make the revisions. Suddenly, the machine stops. Cold. Or, in this case, hot. The damn fan was blocked by the friggin' goose down duvet (normally a source of great comfort). You can fry an egg on the bottom of the machine. I restart it...power comes on, but it's not reading the disk. Panic. I calm myself down, reminding myself that this is a quality machine and is probably designed to do this when its innerds reach the boiling point. My 17.00$ hair dryer has a similar mechanism, why not a 3500.00$ laptop? I wait 5 minutes. My finger firmly presses the "on" button. Huzzah! It boots and I'm back in business. Lesson learned. Don't mix comfort with work. It could end in tears.


I Really Could Have Used This... ...a couple of weekends ago hiking up one of the gentler rocky mountains. It's a portable device that let's a gal pee just like a boy. There is nothing more vulnerable than squatting with your panties around your ankles. You're hoping that you're well hidden behind a tree and far enough from the busy trail. Most of the time, you get pee on your jeans. There are other devices out there, but this one looks like it...ummm...covers, catches and deviates the flow properly. I know The Whiskey Cafe has women's urinals, but I just go for the standard porcelain commode everytime I go there...I don't really want to touch the plastic funnel thingy. Finally, there are instructions for peeing like a man here. Whenever I think of the differences between the way men and women pee--which isn't often--I am reminded of Camille Paglia, who used this difference to underline that while men learn to aim early in life, women are doomed to merely "muddy the earth beneath them".


My Bed at the Drake

My Bed at the Drake Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Stayed at the Drake Hotel in Toronto on Monday night after spending Mother's Day with my family in the 'burbs.

Refurbished by some guy who gave up his day job to trek in the Himalayas (or something like that) and then returned to do something artsy, this is a totally fun place to stay.

I fell in love with my room when I saw a little stuffed friend sitting there waiting for me. Part sock monkey, part cabbage patch doll, this little guy was a welcome touch to an already well-designed room.

The bars are fun (there are two), the restaurants are great (also two), the beds are super comfy and the toiletries are nummy.

I felt totally relaxed there, enjoying a couple of drinks in the bar upstairs after meeting a friend for dinner and later soaking up some fresh air in the morning before pointing the Bug back towards home.

Not cheap, but highly Maggie recommended.


Fearless/Feckless On a fairly regular basis, someone will say something to me that indicates that they think that I'm not scared of much. A couple of weeks ago a girlfriend was discussing some career changes she was going through and how she ws handling them. She said, "But, I don't have Maggie's self-confidence." All I could think was "I don't have Maggie's self-confidence, either." I didn't say it, of course. Friday night I was having drinks with a friend from my writer's group and she asked why I wasn't submitting more of my work. "I can't imagine you being scared," she said. Of course I'm scared, I thought. Rejection is a horrible, horrible thing. Instead, I replied that, amidst all the other things I'm doing, I'm simply mangaging the flow of rejection. Why try to start and company--fraught with stress, among other things--and a writing a career--fraught with its own stresses--at the same time? The truth is everything scares me. Rejection scares me the most. Rejection says, "I don't want you. Period." Think of Jennifer Aniston. No, really, think about blonde, perky, rich Jennifer who was once hitched to Brad Pitt. Now he's hitched to Angelina Jolie, the world's most impossibly beautiful woman. Pretty Jenny dumped and replaced by uber-mom Angelina. It can and does happen to everyone. But, don't feel sorry for Jenny and don't feel sorry for me. I once read a great short story about how an average Joe wins the love of a beautiful woman. The beautiful woman was tired of hearing men tell her how beautiful she was. The average Joe won her with three simple words, "You're so smart." (Okay, that's kinda 4 short words...or 3.5, anyway.) In the story, the woman isn't really very smart, but it's what she wants to hear. So, officially on the record, I welcome anyone to tell me, "You're so scared." Go on. I can take it.


Coffee-coloured Like Me Sulamon Kathwaroon, Coffee Chef at Romano's If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you'll see an article by my Dad about my grandfather (in the picture above) and the jobs he held in restaurants in London. Those of you who have met me in person know that I'm about as pale as they come, with no distinctive East-Indian features at all. I like to think that my thick wavy hair is part of that legacy, but otherwise, I burn easily in the sun like all other blue-eyed white girls. I always thought it was cool that I came from such a diverse background. On my Dad's side, his father married a woman of Eastern-European descent, and on my Mom's there's French, Scottish and Alsatian (not the dog). Given the sheer number of recessive genes in that mix, I guess the ghost-faces won out. I've begun to realize how different my family must have seemed to other families in the small town of Dorion, where I grew up. I always thought it normal to serve Indian curries on Limoges china (a legacy from my Mom's side), to have a Dad who "tans" much deeper than other Dad's, and to listen to a Mom speak perfect English with an accent that can't be placed squarely in any continent. I guess my only regret is that my Mom never learned how to make butter tarts, a dessert I've always associated with English Canada for some reason...but, no one could surpass her chou a la creme.


Back from Banff The "Writing with Style" workshop has turned out to be one of the best I've particpated in. First of all, the level of storytelling by all the participants was one of the highest that I've encountered. I reviewed a lot of work that was publication-ready, a rare encounter in any workshop. Second, the setting couldn't have been better--imagine walking out to breakfast surrounded by mountains, craggy and capped with snow. Finally, of course, the three authors who ran the workshops (Wayson Choy, Lisa Moore, and Tim Wynne-Jones) were generous and always gave incredible insight into the work we were trying to perfect. On Thursday night, I read two pieces I produced at the workshop. The second was a work-in-progress that turned out to be far funnier than I had intended. As a human, I've always wanted to be tall and exotic-looking. As a writer, I'd like to think of myself as serious and deep. The reading on Thursday indicates that I should re-think my literary persona and perhaps go with the gifts I have. Apparently, I'm a hoot. And short.


Writing with Style? "Writing with Style" is the name of the workshop I'm attending here in Banff. Lisa Moore, our workshop leader has some incredible insight into the writing process and into human beings themselves, and I'm inspired by the discussions we're having and the work I'm doing. Last night, I worked on an assignment that was an exercise in setting tone and atmosphere for an event leading up to a trauma. We were asked to write two pieces: one with a light tone and another with a heavy one. Each foreshadows the same or similar traumatic event. Here's one of the pieces: I stand at the bottom of the stairs and understand instantly why deer stay trapped in the lights of oncoming cars. Fight or flee; they can’t decide and nor can I. Paul is upstairs mopping up the water that came gushing from the bathtub faucet he dislodged with a single blow of his fist. I’ve just come from the basement, where I’ve turned off the water main. I’m wet and there’s still soap in my hair. I hear him swearing at the mess he’s made. He calls down to me for more towels and a mop. Get your own damn mop, I think. No, I better get him the mop. No, I don’t want to go back upstairs. I hear him coming towards the landing. I’ll get them, I say, and his footsteps recede. I turn away from the stairs and I look at the door of the laundry room at the end of the hall. The top of my head feels hot as I choose some clothes from the clean pile on top of the washing machine. I pat myself dry with the guest towel in the downstairs bathroom. Where’s the fucking mop, he yells. Coming, I say, as I snatch the car keys from the hallway dresser. I don’t bother closing the door. I race to the car, put it in reverse and peel out of the driveway. As I make my way to the intersection, in the rearview mirror, I see Paul come running out of the house. Swerving around a car stopped at the stop sign, I don’t know how to avoid the truck coming straight for me.

View from Tunnel Mountain, Banff Springs, Alberta

View from Tunnel Mountain, Banff Springs, Alberta
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.


Am I Bothering You?

Am I Bothering You?
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

Arrived at the Banff Arts Centre this afternoon for a full week of creative writing.

The last time I was at the Centre was when I first started at Softimage. They held a Games Summit that combined veteran game designers with po-mo middleweights (David Braben meets Sylvere Lotinger). It was quite the conference.

I'll be in workshop all week with Lisa Moore, whose saucy and brilliant stories have been nominated for the Giller Prize. She has a way with detail and dealing with mundacity that is unique. Imagine an entire story centring around whether the main character should get her hair streaked: yes, your life can be the stuff of creative fiction.

Hopefully more pics and more news tomorrow.


3D Like Me A computer graphics discussion list I belong to recently listed a number of 3D graphic-related domains currently up for grabs. One of them was "3DMag.com", which got me thinking about registering "3DMaggie.com". Imagine the fun I'd have with taglines and catch phrases like:
  • Multidimensional in all the right places
  • "Don't hate me because I'm well-rounded!"
  • "Does this extra dimension make my ass look too big?"
  • She moved forward when other people just stepped aside.
  • If God had wanted us to have depth, he would have made us that way
  • "Well, Toto, I don't think we're in Springfield anymore!"


Butterfly Says "Don't Touch Me"

Butterfly Says "Don't Touch Me"
Originally uploaded by mellowkitty.

One of several pictures from the "Butterflies Are Free" exhibit at the Botanical Gardens. We got there before lunch and the sun was out in full force over the greenhouse. There was a better than usual display of butterflies flitting and feasting on the flowers and fruit available to them.


Small Purchase I know they're cheap and a bit smudged, but they're purple and they have rhinstones in the corner. If style is really all about accessories, what do these say about me?


Attack of the Killer Sloth Thing What? In this picture, Rosie shows her mettle after being chastised for thinking about attacking her sleeping brother, Nomar. It dawned on me today that Rosie and Nomar perfectly reflect the two sides of me. Nomar is laid-back and adored by all the neighbours--one of them actually feeds him tuna regularly. Rosie was bought on credit and knows it. Most days I fight between a desire to dig into the comfort of a cushy couch and a good book and a fear that if I don't attack my considerable task list with a vengeance I'll die hungry and cold. I wonder what the neighbour's are having for dinner tonight?


HK Sushi http://sanrio.homedns.org:443/hello_kitty_sushi/ Little HK moulds and nori die-cut into HK faces...yet another spin on "eating pussy". Just in time for my trip to San Francisco, where North America's largest Sanrio store lives. I thought I was just going to track down a HK paper shredder; little did I know that my mission would be expanded to such a culinary height.


Mellow Birthday Weekend Spent the weekend at the cottage with some pals celebrating my birthday. We pretended we were at the top of some Swiss Alp in some chi-chi resort and sat in the sun with our books, cocooned in our parkas and sun glasses. It was purr-fect.


It's all about me! (Sorry for the lazy posts, but I've been bizzy.)


Forever Kitty My lovely niece sent me this infinitely fascinating link: http://www.infinitecat.com/#index