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Redheads Writing in Cafes — let’s rock and or roll unless it’s with Jack.

1910-Palm-room-cafeArchtop Cafe has become one of my favourite neighbourhood cafes. It’s located in Bloor West Village and is about twenty-minute walk from my home. There are a few things that make this cafe one of my favourites.  The staff are top notch and make you feel at home right away. There are classics from the 1920s to the 1980s being piped out of the sound system and in the theme of the music, the cafe sells vinyl, both new and used. A few months ago, they opened a section of their basement as a used vinyl shop. Vinyl lovers, you need to check out this place.

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The cafe is a nice size and has quite a few tables, it would be a great place if someone was considering holding a reading. At one point they had live music on Thursday and Friday nights and though they have put that on hold, it may resume again in the fall. Out front during warmer weather, there are a few cast iron bistro tables. The other day, while running errands, we sat out there sipping lattes as we watched the villagers walk by.

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I love that I live in a part of town that has neighbourhoods with their own individual personalities. Each feels a little like the small villages they use to be.  High Park, The Junction, Roncesvalles and Bloor West Village.

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In the basement of the Annette Street, Public Library is the West Junction Historical Society. I need to visit the Historical Society when it’s open to the public as it will assist me with my research. I also need to find a day to go to the Toronto Reference Library. I keep putting it off and need to just suck it up and go. One the problems of living in a neighbourhood that you are in love with and has almost everything you need within walking distance is you tend to not leave the area. Personally, I am also someone who can go days or even weeks without leaving the hood. I would much rather go to places that I can walk or cycle to. If only the information I needed from the Toronto Reference Library was online!

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In other news and in the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing promotions for the new documentary on H.H. Holmes. My friends also know that I’m a bit of an H.H. Holmes aficionado so I often get tagged in things referencing him. I am on the fence about watching the documentary as the topic it’s about has already been debunked several times and I honestly think his great grandson is just trying to cash in on the fame, especially with the movie Devil in the White City with Leonardo DiCaprio coming out and the popularity of the novel.  Every time I hear about the documentary on the History Channel I feel a rant brewing and ready to bubble up. H.H. Holmes was NOT Jack the Ripper! I could get into a whole detailed timeline showing why he wasn’t, or the many glaring and obvious reasons that he could not be Jack, but I would rather leave that fun to you. Seriously, go read up on both of them. Though the history is gruesome, it is also very fascinating and once you educate yourself, you will also realize how impossible it was for H.H. Holmes to be Jack.

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I’m going to end this blog post before I go off on a serial killer tangent.

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Until next time…. stay shadowy.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes – but not actually in a cafe.

Not in a cafe today. Nope. This redhead is not in a cafe, she is, however, drinking coffee right now. I’m gonna need it. Ever try to cram too much into one day or week. Raise your hand or in my case hands. This girl right here. It’s ok, it’s all good important stuff.

Something else I am trying to cram in every day, somewhere after morning coffee and between getting my arse working, is exercise. I’ve made giant steps in cleaning up our diet and clearing out processed foods. Clean eating is cleaning us out to… oh, TMI? Too bad. You already knew what you were getting yourself into by reading my blog. Back to the exercise. I hate it. I have to do it, for a variety of reasons that include life longevity and I need to lose weight, plus I sit on my ass for too many hours in the day. On the weekend, I FINALLY got my bike wheel fixed. I had been putting it off since it burst in the fall. About time, right?

Right.

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As a full-time artist, I have to watch my spending. I’d much rather spend money on things such as food, rather than on public transportation. Now that I have fixed my bike, I can use it to trek to destinations, such as cafes to write in, getting groceries and running other errands. Today, I took it for a run around the neighbourhood and guess what I discovered. I’m out of shape. Way out of shape. After a twenty-minute ride, I was sweating and my legs felt like jello. Oddly, I wasn’t winded, though the wind in my bangs felt lovely. If I’m going to be doing all the things I mentioned above, I need to get my stamina and leg strength back.  I think the last time I rode that bike was a couple years ago. It sadly sat on my balcony, then eventually in my back yard… till now. I knew my limitations and only went a short distance. Each day I will push myself a bit further and build my strength back up. This includes getting up a small hill, yes, I said small hill. I felt like a pathetic failure that I could only make it halfway up the hill and then had to get off and walk the rest of the way.  Who the hell can’t bike up a small hill? Me apparently! Pathetic!

I knew my limitations and only went a short distance. Each day I will push myself a bit further and build my strength back up. This includes getting up a small hill, yes, I said small hill. I felt like a pathetic failure that I could only make it halfway up the hill and then had to get off and walk the rest of the way.  Who the hell can’t bike up a small hill? Me apparently! Pathetic!

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They say it takes 21 days to have a new habit stick. I’m hoping this one sticks faster! I know myself and am taking baby steps so I don’t fail at this. As I mentioned above I’m not a fan of exercise, but I need to explain. The reason I fail at exercise is I have repetitive things. If I do the exact same thing over and over again, I get bored and move on. This is why I don’t want to do conventional exercise. I use to actually run before. Then I hurt my knee and that came to an end. I loved running because you could go off to your own creative zone as you jogged along, I love walking for this reason also. Being at a gym, there is too much noise and I don’t feel like I can do that. I feel like bicycling is the same as running. At least for me, it is. Also, there is no monthly membership and there is no real way to look glamorous at the gym.

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Another reason to start cycling again is to see if I can get some of my other dames to join in. I can finally start that Edwardian Girl Gang but on bicycles. I am also intrigued with events such as the Tweed Ride. Toronto used to have its own event and I hope they start it up again. Even though my bike is super old, it, unfortunately, wouldn’t be considered vintage, just yet.

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Ok. Enough about exercise talk. That isn’t what this blog is about. It’s about me, in cafes, writing. A think I hope to do again soon. For now, I am destined to be in my home and on my couch. There are a few factors keeping me here this week, including all the rain we will be getting… again!

Time to get back to it.

Until next time… stay wobbly.

Redheads Writing in Cafes — why are the crows avoiding me?

Today is the day. If I don’t get a photo of the crows or the Raven, I will need to find somewhere in Toronto where they congregate. Why must they torment me? I can hear them and see them in other people’s yards. When I try to make my way towards them to take a picture, they take off. All I ask is you come visit our front yard and let me get some good photographs of you. What I wouldn’t do right now for my DSLR right now and a zoom lens.

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My intention today was to sit on the covered porch to write, but the temperature suddenly dropped and big, gray clouds started rolling in. I moved to the kitchen table and can actually see a wall of rain heading towards us. Have you ever been outside when this happens, especially when you have nowhere to go? I have, it’s not always a fun experience. I’d much rather be watching it from the safety of inside.

I’ve decided to give myself permission to take a few days off. Not sleeping well due to the futon from hell, I’m tired. When I get home tomorrow, I will likely take a long, hot shower, throw in my laundry and then watch 1950s, sci-fi b-movies.  Maybe I can convince my love to order in. I’ve been away from him for a week and a half and it will feel good to be with him again. I have to say I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive partner. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.

Blogging every day has been fun and a great way to wake up my brain each day, but I’m not sure I can continue to do it daily. I have realized that I definitely need to blog more often. I still have plans to vlog, but for now, will continue to blog. My priority is to get a solid first draft of my novel done, then I can figure out vlogging and the youtube channel I keep talking about.

The other thing that evades me are the books I am looking for. We checked a few places in town and was not able to find them. It looks like a trip to the Reference Library will be happening upon my return. In all honesty, I need to go there on a regular basis to research and write.

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Because of the pending rain, the crows have disappeared again. Off to find shelter and to stay dry. They are intelligent creatures and I’m sure decided that the redhead isn’t going to capture their image. You just wait crows, I may not capture your image today, but I will one day.

 

 

Redheads Writing In Cafes — the ghost hunter edition

I am starting this post by saying how thankful I am for the Toronto Public Library. I’m researching for the novel I am writing and looking for specific stories of hauntings in my hometown. There are books out there, I just can’t find them online.  I can’t even find any information online, which is frustrating, I would think that someone would have blogged about them. I have also reached out to Facebook, hoping someone I know, knows… something. A few names were suggested, one of them is Diane Madden. The Reference Library has her books (for reference only) and once I am back in Toronto, I will be making a trip there to do some further research. In a world of everything being online, it’s frustrating when I can’t find the very specific things I need. It seems more often than naught, I’m finding myself going to the Toronto Public Library to get the information. Our libraries are vital and we should never forget that!

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As I continued to browse through the library website, I found several books by Terry Boyle and John Robert Columbo about Haunted Ontario. All of these books are sitting on my bookshelf at home and though they didn’t include the stories I needed, I was grateful that I could access them online to check. Let’s keep our libraries alive!

The rain has been non-stop and yesterday we had thunderstorms off and on. Toronto even had a tornado warning. I’ve lived in Toronto since I was 18 and only recall this happening two or three times. Right now, it is pouring rain and windy. If it was a light rain I could sit on the covered porch, but even that is getting drenched at the moment. Instead, I am once again in the kitchen.

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Last time we visited we bought our parents a Chromecast. I’ve been introducing them to the wonders of Netflix and all of the 1950s b-movies on YouTube such as The Night The World Exploded (1957). This 1957 sci-fi schlock movie was our rainy evening treat. Tonight I may see if I can find a Universal Monsters movie to watch or a copy of 13 Ghosts. If not, I know I will find something campy that will not disappoint.

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My parent’s dog Flash has bonded with me. I’m not sure if it’s due to me being here for a week or because I gave him a cookie last night or maybe he just likes me. All day yesterday he followed me from place to place throughout the house and last night he decided to sleep in my room, snoring and farting. It’s been awhile since I’ve had puppies do that and it reminded me of my beloved Harley. I really miss both my furballs, I don’t miss the snoring and farting.

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Today is also Father’s Day. I hope all the Dads or Dads to be or Dads who just haven’t discovered they are a Dad yet… that they are aware of… have a fabulous day.

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Stay spooky…

Redheads Writing in Cafes #2

Guilt. Why do I feel so damn guilty walking away from that very large pile of laundry? Why is it taunting me, making me feel like a bad person for ignoring it? I swear it was staring me down as I walked away, it was yelling at me as I grabbed my laptop and exited the building. Why is there so much guilt?

Yesterday I had the honour of being photographed by the amazing and incredibly talented Lisa MacIntosh. Lisa is not only an intuitive photographer but a wonderful human being. She has photographed musicians from all over North America for her Great Hall Series and many inspirational women, including Amanda Palmer, for the ASK series. Being included in this group of women is the biggest compliment anyone has given me. She will be working on the ASK series for the rest of the summer, please keep checking her website to see who else she includes and for more information on the ongoing series.

Lisa and I are both full-time artists, who work for ourselves and mostly work from our homes. We chatted about this and how easy it is to become distracted by the many chores and tasks involved in our households. One of the greatest traps when working from home is this exact issue. When I ignore these tasks, I start to let my imagination go to dark, dark places that include German Expressionist Silent films ala Metropolis, where my laundry and dishes revolt. Remember the below scene. No one wants their laundry to animate and attack them. No. One.

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When the weather is shite, being able to sit on your couch, or at a dining room table, desk or workstation of choice is comforting.  You don’t have to deal with the rain, sleet, snow, ice, wind or unbearable heat and humidity. Better yet, public transit in the rain, sleet, snow, ice, the wind or unbearable heat and humidity. If it’s your thing, you can stay in your yoga pants, pajamas all day or in my 1930s vision, stunning dressing gown. Your time and schedule are your own… until the laundry starts yelling at you or the dirty dishes start wailing or… or… or… Just walk away! Cover your ears, your eyes and just… walk.. AWAY. Trust me, this is so much easier said, than done, especially when you are running out of clean underwear.  This is why I’m in a neighbourhood coffee shop, writing.

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Today I chose The Good Neighbour. A cafe that is a short walk from my home, that has cute, artsy baristas behind the counter. They also have delicious coffee. In a pinch or when I am too lazy to walk to the grocery store, I have picked up a bag of their dark roast beans. Bonus: free WiFi.  The one downfall (or is it), they don’t have any vegan sweet treats (not to worry, Bunners is a two-minute walk away). They do have sandwich items that can be made Vegan on request.

This week I am back to working on short stories. I have two new ones I am drafting and a couple older stories that I need to revisit and edit. I am hoping to get those out the door… erm… via cyberspace by next week. One of them may or may not include sharks.  I am hoping by next week that it warms up enough that I can sit on a patio to write or head to the park with a book to read and a notebook to write out character sketches. Generally, I do all my writing via my computer, character sketches, I prefer to write out by hand. A bench in the middle of the trees and greenery or by the water would be a perfect spot for that. I’m not sure if anyone else experiences this, but when I am sitting near the water, my creativity opens up.

Sitting in this cafe, I have momentarily escaped from the laundry… I have not escaped from the shark that is currently stalking me. It might be time to feed. It. SHARK!  I leave you with this Peter Benchley trivia.  After the success of his book and the release of the movie Jaws, Peter became filled with dread and guilt over the fear he created towards sharks. He spent the rest of his life and his widow continues on with assisting with advocating for oceanic conservation.

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Redheads Writing in Cafes #1

***I have added a new page to the blog. It is called Redheads Writing in Cafes. Here is the first entry. 

Redheads Writing in Cafes #1

I’m a full-time writer. I work for myself. I don’t go into a Corporate office space. I create my own content. I work from home. I am my own boss. This is my perfect job. This is my dream. There is, however, one problem.  When you are working at home, there are…. how shall we say, distractions. I don’t mean the television, Netflix, YouTube or other forms of entertainment. I mean laundry, cleaning, washing that sink full of dirty dishes, figuring out what to make for dinner, tidying up, re-organizing. As you look up from your laptop, you see all the things that need to be done. You still get writing done, but between the tasks that are staring you down and when you don’t complete them…. there is that pesky guilt. Now that the weather is nicer, I plan on finding my way outside my home to write.  In the backyard, parks, cafes.

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As a full-time artist, writing in a cafe every day isn’t great for the change purse… I am considering a Kickstarter to help finance this endeavor. Feed my coffee addiction.  I’m sure others would be willing to give up a coffee a day to support my cup of coffee a day… right? No? Hmmmm….  All kidding aside, many well-known artists have written their novels, screenplays, plays and poems in cafes. There is a wonderful, addictive energy that fills the walls of cafes, not to mention the lovely wafts of fresh ground coffee beans and baked goods. Ok… now, I’m just making myself hungry. Focus. You need to focus.

The point of this new page is to write about what I’m writing about… while I’m in a cafe…. Maybe I could also convince other redheaded writers to guest write or join me in the cafe. I live in a neighbourhood that has cafes a plenty. I am going to try to choose a different one each time I write and let you know a bit about the cafe.

Today, I’m sitting in a cafe near High Park, looking out at the beautiful greenery, dreaming of the 1930s, listening to Edith Piaf’s beautiful voice, flow from the speakers. I am working on my novel as well as researching the 1930s. For some, being in a cafe would distract them. I drink in the energy that surrounds me, which is the complete opposite of when I am at home writing. At home, I need the sounds of televisions and stereos turned off, the windows open, so the sounds of the outside, find their way to my ears.

The cafe I’m in is Hannah’s Cafe and Bakery. They have a really nice dark roast and I’ve had their lattes. The staff is friendly and the cafe itself spacious. Recently we came here for a writing workshop. I’m Vegan and they have soy milk, they have some Vegetarian sandwiches and salads that can be made Vegan, however, the baked goods are not Vegan. Once you are done writing, you can hop across the street to High Park.

I’m lucky to live in such an amazing neighbourhood. I am a brief walk away from the best park in the city, shopping, bars, restaurants and groceries. The hood is also home to literary and art events. There are writers, painters, musicians, visual artists, burlesque dancers, and other artisans who call this area home. Most importantly, there are cafes a plenty and if you get lucky, you may walk into the one with the Redhead.  That might be an idea for a treasure hunt. Find the cafe with the Redhead who’s writing.

Redhead’s writing in cafes.

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“Oh Hi Mark” and why The Room is the best movie of all time

“There are people who have seen The Room and those who haven’t seen The Room.” Neil Traynor

*** There will be spoilers.***

I love terrible movies.  They are my happy place.  The schlockier the movie the happier I am. I show no prejudice for genres and have watched them all from horror to sci-fi to romantic; silent; film noir; b-movies; romance; expressionist; westerns and comedy. If it’s considered a badly made movie, I want to see it. My current two favourites are Plan 9 From Outer Space and The Screaming Skull.  In my heart of hearts I never thought any movie could knock either of those off the top of my list. Who could possibly beat Ed Woods and take his title? Always up for a bad movie challenge,  I was ready, willing and open to seeing if this could take the reigns.

For MONTHS now, our good friend Neil Traynor (1) has been telling us about The Room, insistent that once we watch it, we would never be the same again. Finally we were able to arrange a viewing and as Neil said, it was life changing. It might actually be the best movie of all time. How could this be, you ask? The Room has it all. Love, sex, romance,  action, violence, blood, family values, long drawn out sex scenes, drug intervention, x-files style disappearance of actors, belly button fucking, more long, drawn out sex scenes and best of all, no plot.

I’m serious.  There is no plot. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero! Not only is there no plot, I personally feel that one of the reasons this movie has become such a cult hit, is you cannot, in anyway, describe to someone what the storyline is. There is an amazing Wikipedia page that has a very thorough breakdown of the movie, the characters, many of the issues with the movie and the production of The Room.  However, even after reading the page, you still have no idea what exactly this movie is about.  You just need to watch it.

The Room is Tommy Wiseau’s directorial debut and what a debut it is.  Oh… did I mention that he also produced it, wrote it and stars in it.  Mr. Wiseau is a bit of a mystery man himself. He is famous for keeping his past and personal life secret.  Even the Wikipedia page about Tommy Wiseau, doesn’t reveal very much. Who is this mystery man? Is he even real? A figment of our imagination?  Only way to find out, is to attend one of the many Love is Blind events happening across North America.  If it comes to Toronto or even a city near here, I will be first in line to get tickets.  After all, I need to know why Tommy Wiseau wears two belts. Although… he does have his own YouTube channel, called Tommy Explains It All (https://www.youtube.com/user/TommyExplainsItAll), yet… he explains nothing.  

Social Media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook have helped The Room’s infamy grow.

There are many memes.

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Quotes 

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Montages

and videos of critique.

 

All of this is helping to keep The Room alive. You could literally spend hours, hell, even days watching the many videos being created to celebrate this cult hit.  Oh, and I can’t forget there is a Star Wars Mashup!

The Room has a huge cult following and fan-base.  It also has  a play, a book , a video game,  a Facebook page dedicated to it, a-soon-to-be-released mocumentary, a documentary called Room Full Of Spoons and there is a movie being made about it, that James Franco is producing, directing, writing and starring in.  Sound familiar! How did this movie become such a huge hit?  It rivals movies such as Plan 9 and it’s huge fan base is dedicated and steadily growing. It is a phenomena with many, many unanswered questions.  Like the ones I have, such as:

What happened to Peter the psychologist?
Where can I rent that green screen?
Where can I find that 1880’s industrial shot?
How can it be sunny and smoggy at the same time?
Where did that new guy come from?
Will Denny survive without Johnny?
Will Lisa ever find love again?
Did Claudette survive the breast cancer?

Sooooooo many questions!

Back to my opening statement about this movie possibly being the best movie of all time.  Let’s take a moment to think about this. When I say best movie of all time, what I mean is best terrible movie of all time. When I watched it, I laughed till I was laugh crying.  I was laugh crying till my stomach hurt so bad, that I thought I was going to throw up. We discussed this movie indepth, for hours afterwards, my love and I talked about it as we were going to sleep and woke up talking about it.  All of our conversations for the next several hours have been dominated by it AND we have been quoting the movie. I have spend all of my time researching the movie, Tommy Wiseau and am agonizing over what happened to the actors, needing answers to my questions and searching to find out if a “Love is Blind” event is coming to a place near us. I have been feeling all of the emotions you would after seeing a movie that blows your mind.

How does this movie compare to my current top favourites Plan 9 From Outer Space and Screaming Skull?  The Room is definitely comparable in cult status to both these movies and over the top in terrible. Does it knock either of them off the top.  No, but it definitely ties for top spot.

You have to see this movie. It was even shot so you can watch it 2D or 3D. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V10Px9xbrbU Apparently it wasn’t shot to be a 3D movie, Tommy Wiseau just decided to shoot with two cameras, because he could.  When you watch the movie, don’t forget to say hi to Mark.

(1) Neil Traynor is a Toronto born singer/songwriter guitarist/multi-instrumentalist.

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