Thursday, November 25, 2010

Finally, cougar-watching pays off.

Today I laughed watching Cougar Town.

I'm embarrassed to say I’ve seen every episode of this show ever made, but to be honest tonight was the first time I remember laughing. I’m not sure why I keep watching, maybe I feel like I owe it to Courtney Cox for all her work on Friends, or maybe I’m just way too optimistic hoping that something funny will happen.
While I have you, here are two things (of many) that have kept me from not laughing until now:

Number 1- Courtney Cox is not a cougar.
The last time Cox’s character did anything cougar-like was the pilot, and she changed her ways immediately after. Since about three episodes in, it’s been nothing but age-appropriate men and sitting around at home drinking wine. That’s false advertising! There’s no cougars on this show; it’s like us 23-year-olds don’t even have a chance.

Number 2- Courtney Cox’s hair never changes.
Come on Cox, even I change my hairstyle more often than this! It NEVER changes, it’s her going-out-hair, her real-estate-hair, her at-home-drinking-wine-hair, and that’s all she does. I haven’t seen that extreme part down the middle since I was 11, and it was in the mirror, and it wasn’t good. What makes you think it’s any better now? If someone doesn’t believe me that her hair looks like the girl version of an 11 year old boy in 1998, here’s proof:

If I grew it out and used body-enhancing conditioner, I’d have my own show by now!

Whether I like it or not, I’m doomed to keep watching this show. I’m committed but I can’t explain why. Congratulations Cougar Town, it only took you 33 episodes and Zach Braff.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kerry Ryan, the Warrior Poet

Today I interviewed a writer.

Kerry Ryan is a Winnipeg poet who just released her second collection, Vs. Her work has also appeared in a number of literary journals, but this latest collection heads in a completely different direction than you might expect. It’s the story of her journey into the world of amateur boxing, as she trained and competed in a white-collar boxing match last year.
I attended Kerry’s book launch at McNally Robinson last week and was fascinated by this young woman who went out punching people in the face and came back to write beautiful poems about it. She was definitely someone I wanted to talk to more, but I thought it would be best to keep a safe distance from her right hook. So we sent each other some emails, and here’s how it all went down.

AP- Hey Mrs. Ryan. I really enjoyed your reading last night; the whole poet-boxer thing fascinates me. How do you decide what to write about?

KR- OK, first off- please call me Kerry. (Otherwise, I feel like you're talking to my mom. :) ).
I'm a pretty lazy writer, so I usually write about things that are close at hand: if it's winter, I write poems about being cold; if I'm traveling, I write about landscape; if I'm spending a lot of time at the boxing club, well, I end up writing about boxing.

AP- You said during your reading that competing in boxing was one of your accomplishments that you're most proud of. Is this what made it a subject important enough to devote an entire collection to?

KR- I didn't set out to write an entire collection about boxing. I started writing the poems as I was training, as a way to process mentally what I was learning in the ring, and also as a way to rationalize my decision to fight. I thought they might one day be a chapbook or a section of a collection. But the more poems I wrote, the more it seemed like a cohesive story and suddenly I had a full length manuscript.

AP- Writing poems while training… isn't that distracting? Do you mean these poems are coming together in your head as you're physically training? You didn't write anything during an actual fight did you? That just sounds dangerous.

KR- Sparring required total focus, so poems were the last thing on my mind when I was in the ring. I started working on the collection during the same time frame I was training for my fight and I came to see writing as part of the process. First, the training was completely consuming, mentally. I really couldn't think about anything else for a couple of months, so it seeped in to my writing life. But I also used the writing to try to get my body and brain on the same page. I've always learned best by writing a concept out in my own words. So, I approached learning to box in the same way.

Check out the rest of the interview with more of my hard-hitting questions by clicking on this post!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Save your money and just punch yourself in the stomach instead.

Last night I ate a Double Down sandwich.
At $7.83, it was the worst most expensive sandwich I’ve ever had. It didn’t come out looking like the commercials; instead it was dry and mismatched. I felt like the luckiest homeless man ever who had found the best garbage to make a meal out of, but nonetheless it was still garbage.
The only thing accurately portrayed in the commercials is how sick you expect to feel after eating. I knew what I was getting into just by seeing the sandwich before, and sure enough I felt like I needed a fresh fruit intravenous to combat the terrible thing I had just subjected my body to. Although I didn’t feel sick until a couple hours after, I instantly felt less attractive after eating it. Ugh… my self esteem is still trying to bounce back.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reunited and It Feels So Good. Coco is Back!

Today I watched Conan.

 Don’t listen to the mixed reviews; Conan lovers will be glad to see him back on TV. The opening video was amazing, showing what had happened with Conan O’Brien during the past year. It was hilarious. Conan’s new set is gorgeous; it might be the biggest one I’ve ever seen, which gave him plenty of room to pace around and even mingle with nearby audience members.

Conan had an all-star lineup for his premiere: Seth Rogen promoting his new movie The Green Hornet, which releases in January, Lea Michele from Glee (which I’m told is a popular show), and Jack White as his musical guest. If you’re a Conan fan, you don’t want to miss that musical number! Not only were his guests famous, but Conan also busted out his most famous moves: he string-danced, hair-flipped, and kitten-purred his way through a stellar episode.

Conan rocked from his very first joke, saying that the audience’s long welcoming applause “lasted longer than my last job.” He also covered beautifully when a very noticeable bang happened off-camera, saying that TBS had rented out backstage to a muffler shop to save money. Based on this first performance, it looks like Conan is back with gusto and will continue bringing awesome to my television. I’ll be right there to see it all- welcome back Coco.

Conan airs on TBS Monday-Thursday at 10 PM. But if you’re like me and don’t get TBS and don’t like going to sleep because that’s when the night terrors come, you can stay up watch it on CTV at 1 AM.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Books and Jazz- Yes they both still exist.

Yesterday I went to a book launch.
The McNally audience 
June “Pepper” Harris, a musician and playwright from Chicago was at McNally Robinson last night to launch her new autobiography, I Used to Be Coloured But Now, I’m Black! Between live jazz music songs, Harris read from her book and told of her experiences.

The evening started at 7PM with quiet jazz music; two guys on upright bass and piano soloed together as Harris walked around and met everyone, welcoming old friends and even shaking my hand. Harris then told a couple stories, and her friend read from the new book.

I Used to Be Coloured But Now, I’m Black! tells the story of Harris’ life so far: her early days of performing in the Chicago nightclub scene in 1962, the racial difficulties she faced, and the world travels her music has sent her on. Harris also read excerpts from her book about these topics, expressively and laughing, engaging the crowd as she shared her memories.
Harris reads from her new book
 She read of her time performing in Qatar and how through her music she was able to connect with the women there, even though they were so culturally different. She was in Qatar on September 11, 2001, and told of the reaction to 9/11 she experienced from both American and Muslim peoples. She also shared her dreams of peace, laughing, “Maybe jazz musicians should be heads of state. There would be no wars- we musicians like to sleep in.”

She read of her blind date in Norway; asked to a classical concert that promised to be too incredible to pass up, but with a man she worried would look like “nine miles of muddy Mississippi back road sludge on a rainy day.” He turned out to be a dreamboat.

She closed her speaking with thoughts on her book’s title. Being one of the first black entertainers in her scene, Harris faced racial prejudice but has clearly risen above it. Her title represents the changing socially acceptable titles for her, but Harris says it hasn’t changed her a bit.
“As a kid they called us Negros. Then they decided that was bad, so they said coloured. Then I was a Black-American, then a Black-Canadian, then an Afro-American, well guess what folks- I’m a woman.”

She wrapped up the event by singing a few songs: a silly, fun song she had written recently called It Ain’t All That Hot Out, a spoken word number about her reactions to finding a giant black snake in her house as a child, and another poem she read while the band continued to back her up. She slipped between her roles of musician and author smoothly, and seemed as comfortable swaying and scatting as she did reading her stories.

Harris sings too!
Harris has clearly been through and seen many things in her life, all the while never taking herself too seriously. She was an interesting and fun person in her book reading, and I Used to Be Coloured But Now, I’m Black! seems like a perfect extension of her personality. 

Listen to Harris kick it on her Myspace page.
Check out McNally's upcoming events here.