The Scary Closet

There’s something about this time of year that compels me to clean up and get organized. Most people do that in the spring, but for me, it’s always a fall ritual. The other day, I emptied the scary closet.

You probably have a scary closet like this one. It’s jammed full of odds and ends, and you’re not really sure what’s in it. No one opens the door, and when someone does, that person might scream. (Or things might fall out.) Until a few days ago, I had a scary closet, but not anymore.

What did I find in that scary closet? Well, there were a couple of wooden yardsticks, which jumped out at me as soon as I opened the door. (At least they didn’t yell “BOO!”) There were a lot of clear plastic dry cleaner bags and those zippered plastic bags from sheet sets – I probably saved them because they looked useful. (They didn’t yell “boo” either.) Instead of using them, I jammed them into the closet, where they collected dust and spider webs. Out they went! I also found stacks of old Christmas cards. I used to make gift tags with them the next year, but haven’t done that for a long time. Into the recycling box they went. There were a couple of mismatched lamp shades, which had marks on them, so they headed out, as well.

It wasn’t all junk, though. Part of my herd of vintage sewing machines is stored in there, so I revisited all of them. (Even sewing machines need to be patted once in a while.) I found a brand new set of sheets for the bed. Really nice ones. I don’t remember buying them, much less stashing them in the scary closet, so they were a welcome discovery. I also found the extra links for my stainless steel watch, the ones I’ve been looking for since it got too tight. I took the pieces to the watch guy and now I can wear the watch again. (ha!)

I also found boxes of photo albums – so THAT’s where they went! – so Mr. Math and I spent some time this weekend going through them. Some of the pictures made us laugh, others made us smile. A few were bittersweet, as the people in them have passed away. (I should send some of the old school pix to my niece and nephew, just to torment them!)

In a box labelled “MISC”, I found my old camp blanket from Girl Guides, which had all my badges sewn on to it. Miscellaneous indeed. We used to take a cheap blanket and cut a hole in the middle to make a poncho, then wear it as an extra layer at night around the campfire. Of course, camp ponchos had to be embellished! Those grey cotton waste blankets used to be really common (and cheap) but I haven’t seen one for sale in years. I’d forgotten about my skating badges, although now I wonder how I could have blotted out the memory of that endless stream of Wednesday afternoons after school at the rink. (I was a lousy figure skater, just didn’t have enough verve on the ice. I think the badges were awarded out of pity.) My badges from Brownies and Girl Guides were there, along with the two cords I earned in Girl Guides (the All ‘Round cord and the Canada cord). We used to swap regional badges at camp from our respective areas, so I have quite a collection of those – and still a few to swap from my own troop’s area. It was kind of fun to spread them all out and try to remember what the various merit badges were for. Mr. Math was fingering the blanket, so I’ve washed it up and donated it to his collection of polishing cloths.

I also found a fabulous poster for KISS OF FATE, one that NAL produced for me for booksignings. It’s on foamcore and is 19″ by 29″. That was one of my favourite Dragonfire covers, so now I have it displayed in my office. :-) Here it is with a copy of the actual book:

KissofFateposter

So, do you have a scary closet? What’s stashed away in yours?

Thanks to ORWA

This past weekend, I travelled to Ottawa to teach my Business of Writing workshop at the Ottawa Romance Writers (ORWA). I had such a good time! Thanks to everyone at ORWA who made this possible, all of those who attended my workshop, and all of you who facilitated the event. It was wonderful to see some familiar faces, as well as meet some writers new-to-me.

I’d particularly like to thank Shirley, who was my liaison with ORWA and my fairy godmother while I was there.

Thank you all!

Metropolis

It’s funny how certain ideas recur in little clusters. When I was in Atlanta last week, we went to the Margaret Mitchell Museum and somewhere along the way, someone talked about the disintegration of film masters like Gone with the Wind. I came home to discover that Mr. Math had picked up a copy of Metropolis. This movie is a favorite of mine. It’s a silent film made by Fritz Lang. According to the Wiki, it’s the first full length science fiction film, and, at the time it was filmed in 1925, it was the most expensive movie ever made. It’s also a love story set in a dystopian future (2026), and one in which love heals all wounds. (What’s not to love about that?) The eye candy is interesting too – it’s always intriguing to see how people envision the future. I like also that Fritz Lang and his wife, Thea Von Harbou, wrote the screenplay together. She actually wrote a book first, and the screenplay was derived from it. (Wiki says the magic and occult segments of her book were left out of the film. I’d really love to read that book!)

Metropolis was heavily edited after its initial release because it was long, then suffered disintegration of the film masters. The films and records were scattered during the Second World War, so bits and ends were even harder to locate than is usual with old films. The end result was that a number of scenes seemed to be lost forever and the plot progression was jumpy.

The interesting thing about these old movies is that different versions were cut from the master for different countries and territories. And over the years, some of those regional masters and films for Metropolis have been discovered. Restorations have been done over the years, incorporating found pieces, and digitizations have also been done to preserve what exists.

The version of Metropolis that Mr. Math brought home was the 1984 restoration by George Morodis, which featured a pop soundtrack. (I doubt that the release date was a coincidence.) This version also added scenes (discovered in far-flung collections) and straightened out the chronology of the story, some of which was conjecture without having either Mr. Lang or the script at hand. The film was tinted, as well. There’s more content, but the film speed is faster. I remember seeing this movie when it was in general release, at the Carleton Theatre in Toronto (which was where one went to see arty stuff, back in the day).

Recently, longer versions of Metropolis were discovered in New Zealand and Argentina. There’s a newer restoration from 2010 which adds 25 minutes to the running time, courtesy of these discoveries. We’ve ordered a copy to watch it, too, and I’m excited about more Metropolis.

If you want to read more about the history of this film, here’s the Wiki.

If you want to see more about the 2010 restoration, here’s the website for it.

What’s your favourite old movie? What’s your favourite dystopian-set love story? Are there different versions of your fave old movie available?

The Juice

Last week, there was a bad storm here, as in so many other places. Our variant was an ice storm, combined high winds. Trees and tree branches came down and took power lines down with them. We were without power for just over 24 hours, which made me both realize and appreciate a few things.

The hydro guys and electricians were working really hard (around the clock) to get everyone’s juice back, and I appreciate their efforts. They were on top of things.

It’s a very good thing to have a gas fireplace that doesn’t have an electrical ignition. Ours was just wonderful and kept one corner of the house cozy. Because we live in an old house, there are several fireplaces that were built for burning coal. They’re too shallow for wood fires and sit unused, but (as usual after a power failure) I’m wondering if another one should have a gas insert put into it so we can have another source of heat when the juice is out. Hmm. I also thought about what it would have been like to live in our house when it was new. (Here’s a hint – much more chilly!)

It’s amazing how quiet the house is when there isn’t any power. There are so many little motors and pumps running at any given time. I don’t notice the sound of them, until they’re silent. My friend actually said she knew the power was out in the middle of the night because the silence of her house woke her up!

I’m getting really good at freezer triage. I made a list of what I knew was in the small freezer, and put it in order-of-eating. We ate well that day, thanks to the barbeque, and our wastage was minimal overall. The larger freezer in the basement stayed shut and remained cold, so everything is fine there. Plus we learned that frozen spring rolls can be successfully barbequed. Live and learn!

I discovered that the new cell phone (which isn’t that new) doesn’t know everything it needs to know. I’ll have to teach it more email addresses.

Of course, we got nothing done that day other than talking to electricians and moving tree chunks to the boulevard for the city to pick up, so it’s great to have everything more or less back to normal. There’s no better way to start the day than with a hot cup of coffee and a hot shower!

But you know, I’ve never written a scene in a book with a power failure. Hmm…