March 30, 2013

MacEwan Book of the Year: An Evening With Michael Ondaatje

There's something about book events and author readings/signings that I can't pass up. Last Thursday, Michael Ondaatje (the Canadian author of such books as The English Patient and The Cat's Table - but if you didn't already know that, shame on you!), was at MacEwan University for MacEwan Book of the Year event in which Ondaatje won for The Cat's Table (which I might add, I have not yet read - shame on me!)

{MacEwan Book of the Year}
But here's the thing: as excited as I was to go to this event, I cannot truthfully say I am a big fan of Ondaatje's. In fact, not only have I not read The Cat's Table, but the only book I have read of Ondaatje's is In the Skin of a Lion, and I didn't even like it. But I loved the film version of The English Patient! (That counts for something, right?).  What I am a huge fan of though is books, and without authors, we would have no books (obviously).  Therefore, I am generally not one to turn down an opportunity to meet an author, especially a well-known, Canadian author.  Even if I feel a little bit like a poser in attending. Luckily, I was in good company with fellow-poser's Laura from Reading In Bed, and my mom, Sheri.

I'm no stranger to attending book events, in fact, if there was a frequent-flyer card for this, I would have the gold star membership. You see, my mom was a book publicist for 10+ years, so you can imagine the number of times I was gently-forced asked to attend her client's events. And over those years, I realized that it doesn't matter if you're a fan of the author or not - as a book lover, it's FUN to go to these types of things. While I was thinking about what to write for this post, I started to think about all the author's I have met over the years (stay-tuned for a future post) and how it never gets old or tiring to attend these kinds of events. Authors really are the celebrities of the bookish-world. Seeing and meeting authors evokes the same feelings and enjoyment I get out of seeing my favourite (and even not-so-favourite) bands play live. And the opportunities to meet these celebrities seems to be few and far between nowadays, so who am I to turn down the chance to meet one of them?

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But let's get back to the MacEwan Book of the Year night.  I think what I love so much about this program is that it's tradition for the author of the chosen year's book to visit MacEwan campus for an evening of discussion. And luckily for us non-university folk, it's open to anyone who wishes to purchase a ticket to attend!

After Mr. Ondaatje was introduced, he read a few select passages from The Cat's Table. Sometimes at author events, the author just rambles about whatever he/she feels like, but if we're lucky, they will read a few passages out of their book. I say lucky because there's something very intimate about hearing an author read their own words. Only they can truly emphasize certain words and phrases as they were meant to be emphasized and this has often changed my reading experience of the their book for the better. For me, it adds a deeper connection to the story and I love being able to hear their voice as I read their book. I remember this one time where I listened to an author read from her book in her British accent and I then proceeded to read her book in her same British accent. Which is really weird because I can't even speak in a fake-British accent.

{Q&A between Michael and Michael}

After Michael was done reading, Michael Hingston, Books Columnist for the Edmonton Journal, joined him on stage and they conversed in a Q & A, including some audience-submitted questions. I'm terrible at recalling interesting discussion points, but here are a few things I do happen to remember from that night:

  • Michael Ondaatje admitted he's never re-read any of his books after they've been published. While initially I found this fact quite interesting, the more I thought of it, the more it makes sense. I don't even like re-reading my blog posts. Can you imagine re-reading actual books you wrote and are now published and you can never change that one line you cringe at the thought of thousands of people reading? *shudder*
  • When asked how he writes his stories - does he come up with the plot or the characters first? - Michael told us he decides on the time and setting first (ex: France in 1975), then the characters. From there, the story evolves.
  • In response to why don't some of the chapters in his books have titles when others do, Michael simply replied that they don't need titles.

And then of course the best part is saved for last:

{I have to admit, I'm a little underwhelmed by Mr. Ondaatje's signature

Oh yes, and apparently Michael Ondaatje was pretty sexy in his younger years...and if you don't believe me, Laura has proof over on her blog.

March 24, 2013

Saigon Sundays: You Are My Sunshine

I originally posted this photo on Instagram with the caption: squeezing into that ray of sunshine, and my sister commented that Saigon is a ray of sunshine. The truth in her words really stuck with me, because Saigon is, and always will be, my little ray of sunshine.  And in this photo, he reminds me that often it's the simple things in life that make us happy.

March 16, 2013

"But most of all, you need to practise constant, never-ceasing vigilance".

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Part 1 & 2

 Sooo...this past Friday I was supposed to have my last post up for the Goblet of Fire, except, I haven't had any posts up for Goblet of Fire yet. I know, I'm failing at this readalong. #failing. My excuses are nothing new: work, life, sickness, poor time management, etc. But I'm not giving up just yet! I'm only half way done the Goblet of Fire so I'm going to do one post for the first half of this book and a second one for the second half, in attempts to catch up to the rest of the readalongers in Alice's HARRY POTTER READALONG ALL THE GIFS.

And in an effort to make up for lost time, these posts will be sweet and short (bullet-point style!) and of course, spoilers are fair game.

Random Thoughts on Chapters 1 thru 20:

*The Quidditch World Cup = boooorrrring. And it seemed like a lot of work to set up, and a lot of memory charms on Muggles, just for one game! But the tents = awesome and I would totally be up for camping more often than I actually do if my tent looked like the Weasley's on the inside. Although, come to think of it, some people's RV trailers are pretty much like their homes on wheels...

*If everybody already knows what's going to be revealed at school, why can't Harry, Ron and Hermione know? And since they aren't even old enough to enter the Triwizard Tournament anyway, does it matter if they know?

*I think one of my favourite parts is when Hermione is outraged over learning that Hogwart's employs over 100 house-elves: 'But they get paid?' she said. 'They get holidays, don't they? And - sick leave, and pensions and everything?' (p.161).  Leave it to Hermione to make it her mission to fight for the rights of house-elves.

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*"Spotted dick" - and a million young children (and me) reading this book giggled.

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*I honestly thought Harry and Ginny might have a "thing", but Ginny is pretty non-existent in this book so far and then there's this: "...[Harry] had just won the Triwizard Tournament...Cho's face stood out particularly clearly in the blurred crowd, her face glowing with admiration...Harry grinned into his pillow, exceptionally glad that Ron couldn't see what he could." (p.170)

*We meet Professor Moody and while the description of his appearance gives me the chills, "It looked as though [his face] had been carved out of weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what a human face were supposed to look like,and was none too skilled with a chisel." (p. 163), I have a feeling Professor Moody has been employed by Hogwart's to protect Harry.

*Even before the names are drawn for contestants of the Triwizard Tournament, we all know Harry's name will be called (duh). And maybe it's just me, but no one seemed that concerned with HOW Harry's name got in the goblet or WHO put his name in it. They seem more concerned with following the rules of whoever's name is called MUST compete, no exceptions, even if Harry isn't of competing age.

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*Ron, Ron, Ron. Now, after all you've been through together, you don't believe Harry when he says he didn't enter his own name into the goblet?! I get it, you're jealous, but you've always been a *little* jealous.

*We end this first half of the book with Harry preparing for the first task in the Triwizard tournament. Is it too early to predict that Harry will do well in all the tasks??*

I know I've missed many things I would probably want to talk about had I done the readings and these posts on time, but even with my little notebook, this is all I got friends. But on the upside! I have watched the first two movies so far! And I will finish this readalong to the end, goddammit, even if it means I'm still writing these posts long after everyone else is finished (but hopefully not!).

*Edit: I was just looking back at my notes and I see that Chapter 20 actually ends with Harry completing the first task in the Triwizard tournament. Successfully of course.

March 12, 2013

Despite My Best Intentions

Someone didn't want me to work out today.*  One of my new years resolutions this year was "Get Off My Butt", and I have to say, I've been doing pretty good with getting off my butt. Depending on the day, I can sometimes take a bodypump class (my favorite), on my way home from work. Even though I woke up tired and feeling like I was fighting a cold, I threw my stuff in my gym bag planning to work out after work today.  Because those "experts" always say, "don't let a little cold get in the way of your workout", right? Right.

4:50: Leave work (late).

5:05: Arrive at gym, sit in car for a few minutes to catch up on Facebook and Instagram.

5:15: Shit. It's been ten minutes. Damn you Instagram. Head into gym.

5:20: Start changing into workout clothes, realize I forgot my workout undies. Let's be honest here, I have "special" underwear that I like to workout in. Decide that I will suck it up and wear underwear that I have on.

5:23: Start to put my stuff into a locker and realize my gym lock is in my other gym bag. Because why have one gym bag when you can have two?

5:24: Panic because I can't possibly leave my bag and purse in an unlocked locker and I can't possibly bring all my shit into the always-packed 5:30 bodypump class.

5:25: Decide to run all my stuff out to my car. Even though I look like a fool in my workout gear and black boots.

5:26: Throw stuff into my car, which, I should add, is conveniently parked as far away from the main doors as possible because, hello!, this is the busiest time of day at the gym.

5:29: Sprint back into the gym, take off my boots and realize I also threw my gym shoes into my car. For F sakes.

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5:30: Sit down on the front bench and hang my head in defeat. I can see the class has now started, I still need to fill up my water bottle and I still need to go pee.

5:31: Leave the gym trying to look all nonchalant as if I just finished up a workout. Shoulda just gone straight home from work to read Harry Potter.

*By today I mean yesterday, since that's when I wrote it. But I got distracted watching the 3-hour Bachelor Finale and forgot to post this.

March 03, 2013

Saigon Sundays: Sombrero Un-love

One night when we were in Mexico, we wandered into the main gift shop and spotted these mini sombreros. 

 As if on cue, my sister and I exclaimed at the exact same time: "We totally have to get Saigon one!" (We may or may not have been under the influence of multiple margaritas at this time.)

Yup, I am one of those dog mamma's that buys her dog a souvenir while on vacation. Unfortunately, Saigon's sense of humour needs some work.

Of course I couldn't stop at just one photo. While Jim was vacuuming, Saigon hid out by the back door so I took advantage of his scared state. I knew he would be less likely to bolt: pose for embarrassing sombrero pic or chance an encounter with the big, scary vacuum? Sombrero for the win!

March 02, 2013

Share the Love GIVEAWAY via Erin in Wonderland

One of my good friends (in real life, I might add!) writes one of my favourite blogs, Erin in Wonderland, and this week she is hosting a super-generous giveaway to mark her 50th post. At first I wanted to keep this all to myself so that I could increase my odds of winning, but then I figured good Karma is always the way to go! ;) Either way, it's really in your best interests to check out her blog.

The giveaway is open to Canadian residents only and closes Tuesday, March 5th at noon. You can head over to Erin's blog to read the simple rules for entering here.  What are you waiting for? Go enter now! If magazines, candles and Starbucks isn't your thing, then you can always give it to me if you win!
 Good luck!