best Deadwood quotes


I’m late to the rumour that Deadwood might become a movie. Late, and extremely excited. Watching this show I used to press pause every five minutes to write down my favourite lines. Shakespearean syntax + facedown-in-the-gutter profanity = goosebumps-inducing dialogue. Here are some of the g-rated gems:

Truth is, as a base of operations, you cannot beat a saloon.

Hereforth, in a calamity, I’ll be sure to send for Jane.

Short of burning it all down, you got to trust someone.

I’d as soon as try to touch the moon as take on what a whore’s thinking.

I’m the simple type of man that, seeing lightning, looks for thunder, and finding thunder understands it as part of the same storm.

I don’t collude and I don’t cahoot.

You coulda just said “Amen,” Reverend.

He may have checked out short a useful amount of blood.

You do not want to be a dirt-worshiping heathen from this point forward.

Wild Bill Hickok: You know the sound of thunder, Mrs. Garret?
Alma Garret: Of course.
Wild Bill Hickok: Can you imagine that sound if I asked you to?
Alma Garret: Yes, I can, Mr. Hickok.
Wild Bill Hickok: Your husband and me had this talk, and I told him to head home to avoid a dark result. But I didn’t say it in thunder. Ma’am, listen to the thunder.


PS: The character of Calamity Jane, played by the inimitable Robin Weigert, served as a kind of personal archetype for me a few years back. I wrote about it here.


good art is contagious: students make fairy tales


It’s that time in the semester when I eat, sleep and breathe fairy tales. The students in the two sections of my Fairy Tales & Fantasies class have had some practice, by now, at identifying the common bloodlines from one variant to another and discerning how the different cultural contexts affect the stories. Class discussion is lively and insightful, particularly for the 8:00am start time.

They’ve also been making their own fairy tales. The Fairy Tale Redux assignment, worth 1/3 of their grade for the term, asks them to pick a tale, any tale, and re-mount it in whichever way they think will best illuminate something new about the story and show off their creative skills.

It’s harder than it sounds. There are time limits, adaptation challenges, group work frustrations, technical difficulties–and I insist they write an Artist Statement that justifies their approach on a theoretical and aesthetic level.

Sara Jo is a philosophy major who signed up for my course because she’s interested in knowing more about deep story structures in human psychology and culture. She is a gift to have in class: deeply curious, intellectually courageous, highly adept at thinking and speaking on her feet.

For her FT Redux, Sara Jo focused on Rapunzel. She wrote a free-verse meditation inspired by a specific claim in the Grimm Brothers’ variant: that Rapunzel sings from her window in the tower, and her song is what first attracts the Prince passing by in the forest. And Sara Jo decided to illustrate her poetry with hand-drawn tarot cards that capture the archetypal significance of key motifs in the story. What more can I possibly say about this?? You need to see it for yourself, right here:

as sibyl, she sang

Mad Miss Mimic book launch, High Park Curling & Lawn Bowling Club, Toronto, May 2015

How do I love thee, JT? Let me count the ways


Justin Timberlake is my boyfriend. Let me be clear: I’m not talking here about some childhood crush. Back in the NSYNC era I wouldn’t have recognized his name, and I had no idea Justin was ever a Mouseketeer. Nor did I care enough about Britney Spears to notice the gentleman on her arm, when they were a thing.

No, I only recently started dating Justin. I first noticed him in The Social Network: his sexy, spoiled-brat Napster maverick completely stole the movie for me. Wait, I thought, isn’t that guy a pop singer? Then came Friends with Benefits. Oh, man, who is this man who looks so comfy in his own skin onscreen? Who does this little song-and-dance imitation of Kriss Kross in a 5-second, comic scene and floors us with his talent?

Justin, I love your pedigree, now that I’ve been googling you. You were raised in front of cameras and you’re utterly at home there. Last night I stayed up late watching this making-of FWB video, and your costars say they’re deeply intimidated by your natural acting ability. Your director says it’s like working with Fred Astaire: you can do anything he asks, effortlessly. But it’s not just your talent I love; it’s the fact that you’re so clearly in it for the joy. The whole time, through all the bloopers and gag-reel material, you’re either laughing your head off or struggling to keep a straight face.

I love your attitude to music. Your songs are so silly! Gossamer-light lyrics and fluting, easy harmonies that offer perfect soundtracks to the Fred Astaire-esque mini-movies that are your music videos. You entertain, Justin, full stop.

What more could a girl possibly want in a boyfriend?

writing wild

writing wild

from Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

And so we go on, all us stubborn, liquored up on soul and riding the mustang of wild voice, go on. In some ways, there is no more to say than that, for practice, practice, living on the edges, creating past the edges is the writer’s center of work. And thus the next step in the practice is to practice, and daily.

notes to self

notes to self

Sometimes I go back in my notebooks and discover words to live by.
I don’t tear them out and pin them to the bathroom mirror, but I probably should.
These little jewels are notes from a voice class with Fides Krucker. As usual her words could be applied to all art practice not just singing.



Returning to the city from an intense revision/editing retreat at Sparkbox Studio, I am noticing that even though I made excellent progress I don’t feel very awesome. Partly it’s sheer brain-exhaustion from wrangling a 350-page project into some kind of coherence. But it’s also the role I’ve been forced to play in relation to my work. A substantive revision uses certain of a writer’s muscles but not others:
I’ve had to be analytical, logical and critical so that I could solve problems in chronology, cause and effect and character development. But all this left-brain heavy lifting meant I had to leave my right brain on the bench. I had to leave aside the juicy, emotional, play-fuelled aspects of writing.

Right now I am deaf to the music of my story and blind to the sparkle of it. The logic is there but I am full of doubt about the art. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to this stage being over.