Nicole's blog

Etching and Cross-Hatching

Recently I took a weekend-long etching/intaglio workshop at NSCAD. I made this garlic print:

I love etching! I loved how meditative it was to scrape lines onto a plate. I loved learning about cross-hatching. I loved the process of sketch to plate to acid bath to cleaning to inking to wiping to printing to cleaning, etc. etc. I've been trying to get that old-fashioned, early 20th century feeling in my illustrations as I try to figure out how to illustrate my kids' books. So now I've tried a few more pen and ink cross-hatched drawings. They don't turn out as well as actually etching, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Below, some of my drawings.







"We will sample it judiciously!"

"When Olena was a girl, she had called them lie-berries--a fibbing fruit, a story store--and now she had a job in one. She had originally wanted to teach English literature, but when she failed to warm to the graduate study of it, its french-fried theories--a vocabulary of arson!--she'd transferred to library school, where everyone was taught to take care of books, tenderly, as if they were dishes or dolls."

--from Lorrie Moore's "Community Life," Birds of America (1998)

Unfortunately, Nicole

Unfortunately, Nicole never considered the fact that she could get pregnant while doing alcohol and drugs while having unprotected sex.
Unfortunately, Nicole has a reputation.
Unfortunately, Nicole has gone over the edge.
Unfortunately, Nicole suffered a set back last month.
Unfortunately, Nicole was having a wardrobe malfunction.
Unfortunately, Nicole lost to that fugly Serena.
Unfortunately, Nicole seems to have an incredible memory, or maybe because she's just hungry for gossip.
Unfortunately, Nicole didn't make headlines again until February 2001 where it was made public that she and her husband were separating.
Unfortunately, Nicole was only cancer free for two months, and then found out that the cancer had metastasized to her lungs.
Unfortunately, Nicole did NOT offer her placenta to Tom.
Unfortunately, Nicole came in 15th in the time-trial.
Unfortunately, Nicole has a girlfriend Melanie Mayron and, as they say, drama ensues.
Unfortunately, Nicole is the cutest baby ever and no-one can stop fussing.
Unfortunately, Nicole is not in these photos.
Unfortunately, Nicole was too young as the minimum age requirement was 13.
Unfortunately, Nicole had chosen all peonies for her wedding flowers.
Unfortunately, Nicole is not a serious student of music.

Wild Caraway Restaurant and Café

Best restaurant in Nova Scotia. Right next door to the blue house, right here in Advocate Harbour:

Venn Diagram

The Berth House

In response to Bookninja's 're-masculate' contest, the goal of which was to 'masculine-ize' a chick lit. title, behold, The Berth House, by Andi McKay.

Here's the synopsis: Donahue “Huey” Rare is the first boy in five generations of Scot’s Bay, Nova Scotia Rares to reject the family carpentry business and head to the high seas, despite the family sea curse. In his youth, Huey apprentices with Mr. Comeau (“Mr. C”), a salty Acadian sea captain infamous for his sea chanties and mean-spirited blind parrot, Chico. After a decade at sea fighting pirates, Germans and sea monsters, Huey returns to Scot’s Bay with his crew of misfit sailors to prove his worth, winning the love of the village hooker, Ruby. When a harrowing fire set by a new American carpenter threatens the berth house his father and brothers built, only Huey can save the village. But will he?

(note #1: I'm posting this here because, what happened to this contest? Seems they got a bit of press in The Guardian and that was that. Away into the ether)

(note #2: You can read the ridiculous synopsis to the extremely ridiculous original Birth House, which has one of the worst, most sexist covers ever, here)

2008 Diz Musical Year in Review, Part 1

I bought lots of music this year. Not an exceptional amount, but here's a quick review of some of my purchases.

TV on the Radio, Dear Science (2008)

Fucking awesome. Fantastic combination of layered and textured sounds, good lyrics, wide variety of songs - from full on rock & roll to orchestral ballads. Music that is absolutely of this time, absolutely a reflection of our world today. Not a misstep on this album. Crank and dance.

Elliott Brood, Mountain Meadows (2008)

Not an extreme departure from 2005's Ambassador, Mountain Meadows is a more mature, stronger album in that there's barely a weak track here. Foot-stomping, death-country from a band that got started in Windsor, Ontario. Love the organic quality of their songs--earthy toms and bass drums, layer upon layer of guitar, banjo, raspy vocals. You absolutely will sing along to "The Valley Town" and "Write it All Down for You." Please, please, please come to Halifax. Am dying to see you live.

Jolie Holland, The Living and the Dead (2008)

Not as good as her previous Springtime Can Kill You (2006) or Escondida (2004) or at least I haven't gotten into it as much. Sadly, some of the songs border on a Sheryl Crow quality which makes me think, despondently, that she's trying to appeal to some mini-van mom audience. But hell, who hasn't whored herself out to mini-van moms? They do buy things after all (I'd slap a pink purse on the cover of my book of short stories if it meant a publishing contract). So, the death-country, whistling quality is diminished. Good tracks here, like "Palmyra" and the title song, but they tend to get boring after multiple listens. Still doesn't diminish my mad girl-crush on Jolie (that voice! those tattoos!) and hope to see her when she heads to Halifax for the In the Dead of Winter festival in January.

Canadian Federal Leaders' Debate Drinking Game

This Thursday, October 2, from 10 pm - 12 am (ADT), the federal leaders of all parties (yes, even the Green Party!) will hold their televised leaders' debate. Now the debate is quite fun as is, but to make it even more fun, I'm working on a drinking game to accompany the yelling and name-calling. Below is the game so far. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments section (the French debate is October 1, but as my French is comme ci comme ça, there's more potential for drunken fun during the English debate).

Federal Leaders’ Debate Drinking Game

Drink every time:
• Jack Layton says “working families.”
• Stephen Harper says “economic crisis.”
• Stephen Harper says “strong leadership.”
• You have no idea what Stéphane Dion just said.
• Someone does a knuckle point (one drink/point)
• Elizabeth May goes over her time limit and gets cut off.
• Harper says “ordinary Canadians.”
• Someone else says THEY are an ordinary Canadian.

Take two drinks if:
• Someone says “gliberal” in reference to the May/Dion deal.
• Harper denies climate change.
• Harper mentions “rich artists” or “art galas.”
• Gilles Duceppe mentions that Quebec should be an independent country.

Finish your drink if:
• Harper smiles (note not grimaces).

The Batman

The Dark Knight is set to be one of the biggest grossing movies of all time. Gross! Saw it last night, for free (due to lax payment issues). I suppose I could have driven to Moncton to add two movies to my choices, but adding an hour and a half round trip for a maybe movie and a yuck movie didn't seem worth it. So my choices were The Batman, The Mummy and The Stepbrothers. I guess gals don't go to movies in Amherst, but then what would that be? Mamma Mia and Traveling Pants? Mamma's Saggy Undies. No thanks.

What a piece of shit. Of all the pieces of shit released this summer, this has to be one of the worst. I bet geriatric Indy was better. At least it became a comic strip and wasn't based on one. People do what they're told. Everyone has seen this movie, you should too! Is it any good? Does it matter? Nah. What matters is being part of the crowd, no matter how miserable it makes you! Follow follow follow. Bah bah bah.

You know why the plot made no sense? 'Cause it didn't have to. They market these movies to international audiences, so it doesn't matter if they're fucking mumbling their lines and the edits cut so quickly you're like, 'what the fuck just happened and who that hell's that?' All they have to do is have a bunch of loud explosions and things with wheels that go fast and sad music at sad parts and happy music at happy parts and guns shoved in people's mouths and punching and cutting and angry, crazy threats and you've got a fucking movie, man, that'll screen in Nowheresville, Idaho and Nowheres District, China. Boom! Smash! Mumble! Burn! Boob! Growl! Boom! The end. That's Batman. What a piece of mindless shit.

There were a few cool shots and some nice set design. But that's it. I miss good movies in theatres. I really, really do.

You Are Not a Writer

No, you're not. I know you may think you are because you can hold a pen and put words down on paper with that pen. Or maybe you can type and you think it's magic! and wonderful! and creative! when the words you type turn into sentences, and those sentences turn into paragraphs. You might think, heck, if I can write a paragraph, I can write a story! But you know what? You can't write a story because you 1. never read them and 2. don't know what the heck a story is.

You are not a writer if you:
-think there's no difference between fiction and non-fiction. If you read a story and want to ask the author, 'did this happen' or 'is this true' then you're not a writer
-wrote a poem/menu/newsletter 18 years ago and your mom/co-worker/boy (or girl) friend-at-the-time thought it was great
-have had kids and think, heck, I created life, I can create anything!
-watch more TV than read
-have no sense of humour
-think 'I'm gonna write me a book' and start writing said book for, like, a week here and there, and then abandon that idea like you do all creative ideas in favour of another creative idea like making bracelets or bread or T-shirts with funny sayings
-like the above, get a new! unique! creative idea every couple of days or weeks that you think will sell! sell! sell!
-think you'll make money and be a famous writer like what's-her-name
-make fun of other writers who'd rather write than drink or watch a bad movie
-don't swear
-can't spell
-don't know anything about English grammar and/or think grammar is full of patriarchal rules made to be broken
-think 'why do stories always have to be sad and depressing?'
-think a story actual does not need a problem or suspense to be interesting or a story. In fact you think random words on a page are a story, that it's literature's patriarchal rules that say a story needs a problem and how dare someone published and/or educated tell you otherwise

And finally, you are not a writer if you tell people you are going to be a writer. Writers write. In a room. By themselves. They write because they have to, not 'cause they think it'd be kinda cool to try writing for a while. They would write even if there was no one left on the planet. In fact, they'd be happy no one was on the planet 'cause finally they wouldn't have to deal with wanna-be writers asking them, 'can you read this thing I wrote yesterday while I was waiting for the bus?' They'd finally have some peace and quiet. They'd finally write.