Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Recent Reads: Stinking Woman Collapse


A terrific debut novel!  A collection of lovable - and not so lovable - losers, an angry dog, a whack of pot and a stash of cash combine to make this a hilarious backwoods joyride.  The dialogue is spot on, and the characters remind me of the guys my Dad forbid me to date.  I look forward to Brunet's next book.  


Without a doubt, one of the most beautifully written, most evocative books I have ever read (despite the horrific subject matter).  The author's voice is just incredible!


Hmmm... How to make a topic like this sexy?  Answer is that you can't, really.  Reading it felt like I was sitting in a 3rd year economics lecture - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It's dry, yes, but still worth reading. Very informative, very detailed, very thorough, and I like books that make me think, that teach me something.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

FREE today on Kindle: BLOOD AND GROOM

You can download a free copy of BLOOD AND GROOM today (Sept. 13) on Amazon Kindle!  
Here's the LINK


SYNOPSIS

When not talking dirty at her part time phone sex job, or singing cheesy cover tunes in generic suburban bars, fledgling private investigator Sasha Jackson is spending her days trying to figure out how ‘till death do us part’ applies to her jilted client. 

Christine Arvisais was dumped by her gold plated fiancĂ© days before mailing the wedding invitations. Four months later, he was shot in a Toronto ravine during his Saturday morning jog. Christine says she was wrapped in seaweed and bathing in mud when Gordon Hanes went to the mahogany paneled VIP room in the sky. 

Then another former fiancĂ© falls victim to another femme fatale and it appears Cupid’s bow is no match for the Grim Reaper’s scythe. 

As Sasha continues her investigation, she uncovers a pattern of guys who skipped ‘I do’ and now never will. It seems a coincidence, until Sasha learns the real meaning of Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 

With her dad driving her crazy via long distance, and her brother steeped in confusion about his own romantic comedy of Eros, Sasha must figure out who’s whacking would-be grooms before it becomes a case of four funerals and a wedding. 

Reviews for Blood and Groom

“The toughest fictional woman P.I. in Canada.” -Bill Selnes, Mysteries and More  

"Sasha Jackson: she's tough, can drink with the best of 'em, and isn't afraid to bend the rules." (Karen Russell, HowMysterious.com) 

"Fans of strong female characters and fans of detective novels will enjoy this story. This was a fun read, and I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble Toronto’s sexiest new detective can get in to in her second book." (PaulTheBookGuy.com) 

“Edmondson writes a fast-moving book with a hip protagonist. I give Blood and Groom a rating of Hel-O since Jill Edmondson is a new-to-me author and Blood and Groom is a fast-paced, fun read.” (Helen Ginger, straightfromhel.com Blog) 

“Sasha Jackson is one of the best literary characters I’ve discovered of late. She’s an edgy and unconventional ex-musician turned private investigator. Canadian author Jill Edmondson spins a marvelous yarn with a sense of humor. She shines a bright light on Toronto. Biting humor, pop references and colorful characters make Blood and Groom a fun read.” (Amy Steele, entertainmentrealm.com) 

"Blood and Groom is a sprightly read - a promising start to a new series and a fresh writing career." (Joan Barfoot, The London Free Press) 

"Blood and Groom's main character, newly licensed downtown Toronto P.I. (and former rock singer) Sasha Jackson, has enough sass and quirk to hold a reader's interest." (Quill & Quire ) 

"The style is fresh, well-paced and uses dialogue that feels real. Toronto is nicely portrayed as a place fit for dispatching grooms. Edmondson shows the storytelling skill to turn this into a series with room to grow." (The Hamilton Spectator) 

“Blood and Groom is full of down-to-earth people and pithy portrayals of some weird characters. Conversations are snappy. It is a light, fun read and I’d be interested in seeing future stories.” (The Waterloo Region Record) 

"It's a quick, entertaining read best enjoyed with double vodka tonics and morning after grilled cheeses." (shedoesthecity.com Blog ) 

"Parts are very funny -- especially the sex chat and Sasha's nerdy pal Victor, and her gambler dad... Bizarre! Not as bizarre as the ending, with romance and finance combined to deadly effect." (Lucille Redmond, Ireland Evening Herald) 

"A fast-paced, soft-boiled novel with a distinctive voice and a sassy protagonist." (Jim Napier, The Sherbrooke Record). 

"The book is fast-paced... and the tone is the quick and funny style that appeals to fans of Janet Evanovich. There's a lot of promise here and we'll look forward to Sasha Jackson's next adventure." (Margaret Cannon, The Globe & Mail) 

“Jill Edmondson’s Blood and Groom is a fast-paced whipcrack of a book — a a little edgy and a lot of fun.” (Bookgasm.com)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh oh... Netflix: Series #1

I said "oh oh" in the title of this post because I know I have no discipline & if I get hooked on a series, then I'll be glued to the television until I've binged on the whole thing!  These are a few of the TV series that I've watched and enjoyed recently - they all kept me up way past my bedtime!



I marathoned this in April/May after hearing so many people talk about it (I had never seen a single episode).  Loved it, although it was disturbing as hell.  Loved the Jesse character, Hank was great, hate the two wives, and as for Walter... what is there to say?  Gotta admit, though, that on occasion, I found parts of the plot hard to swallow - characters and script didn't always seem to jibe.  Nevertheless, addictive!  And Saul rocked!  I eagerly await his spin-off series!


Rather weak scripts, lots of holes and implausibilities in the plots, and the dialogue is trite at times, but WHO CARES???  It's fun to watch just for the eye candy and fashions!  And I love the fact it's filmed in Toronto - always fun to spot places/things I recognize as parts of YYZ.  Can't wait for the next season.



I hated the Rose Byrne character - vapid, shallow, weak, selfish and a whole lot of other things, but it didn't matter; this was Glenn Close's baby!  Wow, can she do evil!  Cold, manipulative, soul-destroying evil!  Glenn Close was just terrific in this.  I also liked the story arcs ("cases") that ran through the seasons: Ted Danson and John Goodman were wonderful, and were the storylines.  Worth watching.



Without question, the best TV drama series I have ever watched, hands down!!!  The character development is incredible, the storylines within each season but though the series overall were terrific.  It was almost visceral watching this and even a little bit emotionally draining in a way (I say that as a positive thing).  I can't imagine anything else drawing me in as deeply as this did. Wow, just wow!  I'll give it a while, but I know I will most likely re-watch the whole series.  Lem! Shane!  Vic!  Ronnie!  And let's not forget Aceveda and Kavanagh. A five star, two thumbs up series!  


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 5

I'm already a fan of Robert Reich's soci-economic-political views (books, columns), so it's no surprise that I enjoyed watching this.  He makes several important points as he looks at economic patterns and changes over several decades (basically since early Twentieth Century).   His analysis of the changes (women and work, second jobs, declines in unions, etc) in the last ~ 40 years is worth noting.  Definitely worth watching!



















Who woulda thunk that I'd find two documentaries about Bees so interesting?  It's not just about making honey - it's about pollination, farming, the environment, and crop yields.  Glad I saw these films - both were very thought provoking.  





Friday, August 29, 2014

Glass Fusing - WOW! So Cool!

I keep finding so many fun things to do!  

On August 17th I attended a GLASS FUSING class at The Devil's Workshop taught by multi-talented artist (and ad-hoc photographer!) Melissa - check her out on Twitter  .


I've never tried anything like this before - and it was so cool!  It's much easier to do than you'd guess.  Basically, you use a miniature pizza cutter thingamajiggy to score where you want to cut.  Then you use some kind of pliers more or less to snap off the piece you're working with.  You can add layers, paint them, add more layers, and use different colours, shapes and sizes.  These four pictures are from Aug. 17th.  You can see my six pieces (pendants) in their pre-kiln stage.





Today, August 29th, I finally got around to picking up my pieces after being fired.  The firing takes several hours, and then of course the glass needs a lot of time to cool down.  So cool to see how they all turned out!!!  


I like some of the pieces more than the others, but since the whole endeavour was a new thing - an experiment - I've got to say I am quite pleased with the results!  And keep in mind, I was winging it - I had no clear plan or idea of what I wanted to make.  I just wanted to do something creative.  The three blue ones in the centre are my faves.  I really enjoyed doing this and cannot wait to give it another whirl!











Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 4

This was a bit of a disappointment.  Bukowski got drunk, smoke, wrote, got laid, and then did it all again the next day.  Blah blah... worked at the post office... Blah blah... got tons of rejections slips... He got drunk again, used the word "cunt" lots of times, wrote some more... Blah blah... 

WOW!  So many interesting back stories!  This was fantastic - tons of talent, lots of dark insight into the music biz, a sharp look at a different time and place, and some wonderful bits of trivia about so many songs I know and love (Gimme Shelter and Sweet Home Alabama to name a couple).  Highly recommended!

Pretty good, but... It would have been nice to know more about the internal change - did they REALLY renounce all thier prior beliefs?  Or did they just get rid of the outward symbols in order ot make it easier to find a job.  I think there was sincerity to their actions/changes, but a bit more introspection would have been welcome.

I love dogs, so it's no suprise that I liked this (and my dogs are both rescues).  The focus of this movie is on shelter dogs being trained as guide dogs, service/therapeutic pets.  The dogs are trained by women who are in prison, which was interesting to learn about.  There were vignettes of the people who received the trained dogs in which they discussed the positive impact the trained dogs had made in their lives.  A feel good flick.

Ahhh... stories of redemption... people who make a difference.   The film focused on lifers who volunteer in the hospice program, serving other inmates at the end of life.  I was misty eyed several times.  Worth watching.  I wish the movie had explored questions about sentencing, the roles of prison (punish or correct?), three strikes laws, justice and race, etc.  but I guess that would've been another movie entirely.  Worth watching.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 3



This was absolutely fantastic!!!!!  A frenetic stroll through the heartbeat of a place as it morphed and reinvented itself, while setting the scene and defining what's cool.  Five stars!!!!!




Another winner!  I had no idea what to expect and I was too lazy to change the channel.  As I watched, the movie became more and more captivating.  An engrossing story/slice of life.  
Highly recommended!


Interesting yet disturbing.  Scary to have another reminder of just how influential pharma companies are.  And, while I'm not one for male bashing, it's worth noting how the topic is framed almost exclusively as a woman's health problem: something must be *wrong* with her.  
Maybe guys should  just - oh never mind.


A real disappointment.  It was basically just a love fest - and I do adore Calvin and Hobbes, but I didn't need to watch a movie about them.  Better off just rereading some of the old comics.


Meh.  It was nice to see how fond the man and the elephant were of each other, and all warm and fuzzy that he wanted a good home for Flora (and I like elephants), but, dude - what were you thinking when you got an elephant as a pet and then had her in a circus for most of her life?  Glad she got a home, but the owner did little to elicit sympathy.



Monday, August 18, 2014

IMPROV!


YAY!  Tonight was the first class of an intensive Improvisation course I just signed up for.  It feels so good to be back at it!

I've taken many improv classes over the years.  I've done a couple at Second City and did the first four levels of improv training at the now defunct Bad Dog Theatre Co.  In either case, I've been away from it for a few years.  Man, have I missed tapping into that side of my brain, into that type of creativity.  So much fun!



Like so many of the other things I've been doing this summer, it's not about prowess or talent - it's about doing something enjoyable (but if I may say so, I'm not terrible at it!)

We did a number of games and activities (making an offer, saying yes, listening, establishing the space/scene) that I've done before and it was cool to feel so comfortable right from the outset doing these things.  Throughout the course of the evening, I became a peeping tom, a raccoon hunter, a champion bowler, and I spiked some chick's drink with a roofie...  Okay, none of that really happened, but all of it was believable for that moment.  

There was great energy in the room (classmates are various ages, various levels, various backgrounds), and everyone was laughing quite a bit.  Awesome!

I can't wait for the next class!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I ain't no Picasso!

The latest trend around Toronto seems to be drop-in art studios, painting workshops and themed "Cocktails and Canvas" events at bars/pubs around the Greater Toronto Area.  (Painting as a social thing, in a bar doesn't appeal to me at all - I prefer a quieter environment when it comes to being creative).  

Now, like so many other things, I quite enjoy painting (with acrylics)  despite my obvious lack of talent.  Years ago, a roommate and I used to work on canvases together whenever we were bored.  Every picture we made was awful and sooner or later they all ended up in the garbage.

I realized that lately I've missed painting, missed getting in touch with that type of creativity.  So, when I discovered PAINTLOUNGE, I immediately signed up for a couple of workshops.

Now, PAINTLOUNGE is not quite "Paint By Number" for grown-ups...  They give you a sample picture (rated by skill level as "easy", "moderate" or "challenge") and suggest colours and approaches, but you can put your own spin on it.  (You can also go in for solo work and do your own thing.)  They supply all materials, and it's no big deal if you spill some paint here or splash a few drops there - BONUS!

Using a blow dryer to get the background to dry more quickly.

This was Monday night's masterpiece (my picture is on the left).  I wish I had done the background stripes differently - fewer colours and wider bands.  Also my birds look fat, especially the one on the far right!

Again with the blow dryer (but this is from Tuesday night's session).

My painting is on the left - I rather like this one!  I like the colours I used instead of the 
purples and pinks.


I plan to keep up with this whenever I have time (PAINTLOUNGE is not too far from where I live).  I find it totally relaxing and the time just flies by.  I doubt that I'll ever paint anything worthy of framing (never say never), but prowess isn't the point - having fun and zoning out for a few hours is.


* * *
UPDATE - August 22nd:  I had so much fun the first couple of times I went to Paintlounge that I returned today and brought my friend Katrin with me.


Before changing into painting T-shirts and smocks.



Getting started...


Yeah, we totally rocked it!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 2


Terrific!  An important topic and a well done documentary.


Wow!  What a guy, what a story, what a movie!  Definitely worth watching.


This one got to me... and I'm not even a cat person.  If you like animals at all, this is worth seeing.


Even though this is an important topic, the film was dull.


This was good.  An interesting story of exploitation, agribusiness and injustice.  It'll piss you off (as it should).





Thursday, July 31, 2014

Netflix: Misc. Documentaries 1

Just terrific!  Great story, great music, and very well made.  Highly recommended. 

Sad, but thought provoking. Worth watching this for the wake up call (esp. re: environment) it provides.

So-so.  Not quite what I had expected.  It didn't focus only on couples who met via specific dating sites, but also on chat rooms and games.  Even though most of the stories were warm and fuzzy, overall it felt rather dated (pardon the pun).

Skip it!!  Felt like an infomercial-puff piece for The Golden Arches.  Waste of time.

Very good!!  Thorough and frank.  Self-deprecating and wryly funny.  Worth watching.




Monday, July 28, 2014

5th Annual T and T Waterfront Night Market

On Saturday night, a couple of friends and I went to the T and T Night Market.  I went to the first one back in 2010 and missed it the next few years.  It was a treat to go last night, but holy smokes, the event has reallllly gained in popularity!  It was jam packed, and some of the booths had very long lines.

This year, there were considerably more vendors, activities and entertainers than the first time I went.  The event is still primarily about food, and - WOW - what an array!  T and T is an Asian Supermarket, so not surprisingly the food tends towards flavours from the Far East.

I tried something called Tornado Tempura Shrimp, and there is no way at all to eat it gracefully (note the crispy noodles on my shirt).  It was delicious, but I should've splashed a bit more hot sauce on it.  My next treat was a Tater Twist, in this case a purple potato.  It's basically potato chips cooked on a skewer, but these were seasoned with wasabi - yum!  I also sampled an avocado milkshake (didn't really care for it - it's like drinking guacamole), squid takoyaki (meh, but it was interesting to watch it being prepared), grass jelly drink (pretty good), and paprika pineapple (very good - I plan to make this at home).


For entertainment, we caught a bit of the Chinese Dragon Dancers - very cool, and we goofed around in a photo booth.  All in all, it was a fun night and it was cool to try some new foods.  I'll probably go again next year, but will head down earlier and try to beat the crowds.

For more info about the event (and videos) click here: http://waterfrontnightmarket.com/