Monday, September 29, 2008

From the Yarn Harlot - needed to be shared

September 28, 2008
Dear Mr. Harper

I am pretty sure that I am an ordinary Canadian. I've checked the Stats Can website, and other than the fact that Joe and I earn a little less than the national average and seem to have picked up an extra kid along the way, we're really, really ordinary.

This is why Sir, I was absolutely flabbergasted to learn that you had made a statement that the arts "don't resonate" with "ordinary Canadians". I had suspected, after your 45 million dollars in cuts to the arts, that they didn't resonate with you... but all ordinary Canadians? I listened as you lashed out at artists, claiming that we stand around at "rich galas" complaining that our subsidies aren't big enough, and I could hardly speak. Although Joe and I both work in the arts, we've never been to a gala (though I hear that your wife is honorary chair of the National Arts Centre Gala) and although we both pay taxes, we've never received a subsidy or a grant... so I'm really not quite sure what you're talking about.

Joe and I added up the number of people we know working in the arts. It was virtually everyone we know (with the exception of our friends who work in Health Care, but that's a debate for another day) and not a single one of them are as wealthy as you, although most of them pay more taxes. Sorry. That was cheap. I'm still mad about your tax breaks for the richest Canadians. I'll try to get a hold of myself and stick to the facts.

The fact is that last year your government invested 3.3 billion dollars in the arts, which would be shocking except for the fact that (as reported by ACTRA's national president Richard Hardacre) the arts returned the favour by providing 1.1 million jobs within cultural industries and contributed $86 billion to the GDP. To put that in context, Margaret Atwood noted that the arts industry employs roughly the same number of Canadians as agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil & gas and utilities - combined. I see you Sir, day after day after day, talking quite rightly about jobs lost in manufacturing and the industries named above and how our country needs to make financial investments in their businesses to create as many jobs as we can, and dude... you're absolutely right. Job loss in Canada is a huge thing and boy, should the leader of this country ever be trying to prevent any further loss any way he can... and Mr. Harper... that's what makes your cuts and your statements so darned confusing to me.

I've thought and thought about it, and I've come up with some possibilities for why you're doing what you're doing.

1. You are trying to lose the election, and throwing away the votes of 1.1 million "ordinary" taxpaying Canadians by trashing them, their integrity and their industry in public is just the beginning of your master plan. (In which case Sir, I can only say "AWESOME START.")

2. You had no idea that the Arts industry was an actual industry (I mean, not like cars or oil) or that it employed that many Canadians, and when you walked off stage after making your statement, you had to ask someone why your entire campaign staff was lying on the floor seizing in a pool of their own cold sweat.

3. You're still sort of scarred about that day in kindergarten when the teacher said that Bobby's fingerpainting was nice and didn't say anything about yours, and then on top of it he got the be the carrot in the school play when the teacher knew you wanted to be the carrot and would make a way better carrot than him and ever since then you just haven't been able to see what the big deal is with the whole art thing.

4. Maybe Gordon Pinsent has always sort of annoyed you and this is a revenge thing.

5. You made a strategic decision to say that. You sat down and decided that there were an awful lot of Canadians (a lot more than 1.1 million) who would really, really want to stick it to artists. You figured that there must be an awful lot of voters who don't read books, don't go to the movies, don't listen to CD's, don't dance or watch dance, don't read magazines or newspapers, don't listen to the radio and wouldn't touch the TV with a ten foot pole and therefore don't have the arts "resonate" in their lives.
(Well. That or you were hoping that there were a whole lot of Canadians who didn't know about the 1.1 million jobs/ $85 billion dollar industry thing or were hoping they were stupid enough to be tricked. Good luck with that.)

Some time ago, when I made a political comment in this space, someone said to me that if I were going to state my political position publicly - even if I did so without condemning the views of others, that I should expect to lose the support of people who didn't agree with me. They felt that if I said I wasn't a conservative (or a whatever), that I should expect to lose the readership of conservatives (or whatevers). This person maintained that simply not being on the same page politically was enough to justify not continuing to support me professionally. This is a position I was absolutely stunned to read and still don't understand. I feel that politics belong in public. That ones political positions are a reflection of ones moral and ethical concerns, and that as long as no-one is condemned for their views or insulted for their beliefs, that everyone wins when politics are discussed in the pubs, kitchens and blogs of the nation.

That's something I've kept in mind as I listened to your speeches throughout this campaign. I reflected on how your political positions were reflecting your ethics, and kept a clear head - listening to your positions and promises. I stuck to my position, which is that it is possible to disagree on matters of personal choice while still liking, respecting and enjoying the people with whom you debate or disagree, and I believe that it is unchecked politics, unexamined policy and an unconcerned nation that let politicians run amok and invites corruption of all forms. In short, Mr. Harper... I think that the cornerstone of all good politics is respect. Respect for positions that run counter to yours, respect for jobs that are not like yours, and in this case, respect for all Canadians.... especially as you ask for our votes.

I would submit, Mr. Harper, that suggesting to all of Canada that a particular 1.1 million Canadians who have helped to pay your salary for the last several years and whose money you would like the privilege of continuing to spend, are not "ordinary Canadians" is the absolute definition of disrespect.

Further to that, claiming that you represent "ordinary Canadians" (we'll overlook the number of galas you're at in a year) while the 1.1 million of us who are working in film, music, writing, dance... are not only excluded from your definition of "ordinary Canadians", but according to you "don't resonate" with the people who are.... Well. I think it was rude. Darned rude. The Canada that I thought I lived in doesn't have some Canadians who are worth the efforts of the Prime Minister, and some Canadians who are not. The sort of Canada I want to live in has always had a society based on respect, the respect we are supposed to show each other and the respect that leaders are especially expected - or maybe owed to give their constituents was entirely absent in your statement, and a leader who is that rude to his fellow Canadians, boldly and in public - isn't observing the cornerstone of civil and progressive politics... respect.

In light of that, and remembering that ones politics are a reflection of ones morals and ethics - I'm afraid that not only have you lost my vote (Oh, fine. You didn't have it anyway) but greater than that and with every cell that I posess... I humbly withdraw my respect for you as a leader, and submit that there's just got to be a lot of "ordinary Canadians" who feel the same way.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee


(PS. I am going to consider it seriously hypocritical if you keep playing music at your events, hiring writers for your speeches and getting graphic designers to make those pamphlets that keep landing in my mailbox. If art doesn't resonate... they why are you using so much of it? Just saying.)

(PPS - For the Non-Canadians who are thinking "huh?", Mr. Stephen Harper is our Prime Minister, and the leader of the Conservative Party in Canada. During our last election he formed a minority government, winning 124 of 308 seats, and 36% of the popular vote, which means that roughly 2/3 of voting Canadians didn't vote for him or his party, and chose an option to the left. (There are no options to the right of Mr. Harper.) This is possible because we have a multi-party system. Mr. Harper and the other party Leaders, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois (a federal party that only runs in the enormous province of Quebec), Stéphane Dion of the Liberal Party, Jack Layton of the NDP and Elizabeth May of the Green Party (I'm leaving out others, but they don't hold seats in parliament) have been campaigning since The Prime Minister asked the Governor General to prorogued Parliament earlier this month (that's sort of like dissolving the current session so they can start fresh with a new government after the election) and calling an election for the 14th of October. (We do it fast.) In Canada, we don't have set dates for an election. We hold them whenever the party in power thinks it would be a good time or they run out of time (at least every five years) or whenever a government loses a confidence vote (which is essentially like getting fired.) We have no term limits - you can be Prime Minister for as long (William Lyon MacKenzie King served a total of 21 years as Prime Minister) or as little (Sir Charles Tupper was Prime Minister for 68 days) as the Canadian people allow you to serve.

From Carissa

Atonement- Ian McEwan

A heartwrenching tale of love... It's been made into a movie but as usual the book was 100 times better. McEwan has a simple yet beautiful way of writting making you want more. Definately worth the time to read it. It's a love story set around the time of World War II where young Robbie and Cecilia begin to realize there is something between them. Something that Cecilia's younger sister Briony cannot even begin to understand; one evening a crime is commited and Briony's imagination creates a series of events noone is prepared for. Such an enjoyable and beautiful novel to read...

Spanish Fly

From the Publisher:
Raised by his father in the dying town of Paradise Flats, Jack McGreary has learned to live by his wits. The year is 1939. Drought has turned America’s heartland into a dust bowl, and the world is on the brink of war. Jack’s father wants him to head north to Canada to sign up in the fight against Fascism. But when a pair of fast-talking swindlers named Virgil and Miss Rose blow through town, Jack falls in with them instead. Together, they go on a crime spree across the Southwest, staging a series of inventive and often hilarious cons, while sexual tension between Jack and Miss Rose grows ... Someone is being set up.

I really enjoyed this novel. Read it and watch "Carnival" and you'll feel kike you've had an entertaining education regarding the great depression.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

In Book News

I read this this morning in Shelf Awareness (a magazine for us book industry types)and I thought it was interesting enough to pass along:

Jane Belson, the widow of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams, has given permission for a sixth book to be added to the series. The Guardian reported that And Another Thing . . . will be written by children's author Eoin Colfer, who said being chosen by Belson for this task was "like suddenly being offered the superpower of your choice'."

The book, which is scheduled to be published next fall by Penguin, will "make no claims for Eoin being Douglas," said Joanna Prior, the publisher's marketing and publicity director. "It's not Eoin Colfer writing as Douglas Adams, as was the case with Sebastian Faulks [who wrote as Ian Fleming]. It's absolutely about him being himself--Eoin the author, but with the cast of Hitchhiker."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grind Master

The newest member of the team. A Grindmaster 500 from the 1950's. These things can't be killed! It works better than the grinder we bought in 2003.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good Grief a good choice

Good Grief

The brilliantly funny and heartwarming New York Times bestseller about a young woman who stumbles, then fights to build a new life after the death of her husband.

At 36, Sophie Stanton loses her husband to cancer. Sophie desperately wants to be a good widow,composed and in control. Unfortunately, Sophie is not in control. She is breaking down in the produce section of supermarkets and showing up to work in her bathrobe and bunny slippers.In a desperate attempt to right herself, Sophie moves to Oregon and proves that with enough humour and chutzpah, it is possible to move on after loss.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kay Chornook - Walking with Wolf

Kay reads from Walking with Wolf for a rapt crowd.


Okay. This is going to be next on my list. After reading the book jacket and these reviews I can't NOT read it. I'll let you know what I thought.

About this Book:

On a burn ward, a man lies between living and dying, so disfigured that no one from his past life would even recognize him. His only comfort comes from imagining various inventive ways to end his misery. Then a woman named Marianne Engel walks into his hospital room, a wild-haired, schizophrenic sculptress on the lam from the psych ward upstairs, who insists that she knows him – that she has known him, in fact, for seven hundred years. She remembers vividly when they met, in another hospital ward at a convent in medieval Germany, when she was a nun and he was a wounded mercenary left to die. If he has forgotten this, he is not to worry: she will prove it to him.

And so Marianne Engel begins to tell him their story, carving away his disbelief and slowly drawing him into the orbit and power of a word he'd never uttered: love.

“There is an admirable clarity to his prose, a careful avoidance of the kind of turgid or melodramatic sentences one finds in lesser writers….The Gargoyle does not disappoint….Sweeping, intergenerational, wholly implausible, unapologetically melodramatic, and absolutely absorbing. While reading it I rolled my eyes more times than I care to remember; it was, at the same time, impossible to put down..”
—The Globe and Mail

“You want to be lost in its pages, immersed in the unfolding tale of the human gargoyle and a flesh and blood wraith. In the final analysis, the real tragedy of this book is that it ends.”
–New York Daily News

“It's wildly romantic, a la Diana Gabaldon, but anchored by a 21st-century sensibility that owes more to Chuck Palahniuk.”
–Winnipeg Free Press

“A wild page-turner and a boldly impudent work that flirts with the trappings of gothic romances, historical novels and fantasies while skirting their clichés and remaining defiantly unique.”–Edmonton Sun

"I was blown away by Andrew Davidson's The Gargoyle. . . . A hypnotic, horrifying, astonishing novel that manages, against all odds, to be redemptive."
–Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

“After 44 years of reading anything I could get my hands on, including Moby-Dick, reading Andrew Davidson’s debut novel made me feel as if I were done. The Gargoyle had it all – all I’d ever wanted or needed from a book….[The] characters are rich and knowing, the imagery breathtaking, the voice and rhythm unfailing.”
–The Raabe Review

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel

The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. This is the haunting story of Carrier's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by her daughter, Sarah

I really enjoyed this historical novel. I was engaged right from the beginning and I at one point found myself googleing "Cones of Sugar" to see what that was exactly. I felt emotionally tied up in the characters and by the end of the story I really felt that I had also learned a little more about what it may have been like to live through that terrible period of history.

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

We now have copies of Joseph Boyden's new book "Through Black Spruce" in stock at the Chat Noir Books, drop by to pick your copies I am sure they will be going quickly.

This past spring Jenn and I were grateful to have Joseph in the store where he read from both his books "Three Day road" and "Through Black Spruce". We then ran into Joseph again at Book Expo, where Jenn was greeted with a big hug and I with an advanced readers copy of "Through Black Spruce". It didn't take me long to devour my copy of "Through Black Spruce" and like "Three Day Road"(which rumour has it maybe turned into a major motion picture!!) it has since become one of my most favourite books. Joseph is truly a spinner of tales who creates characters so believable that you cannot wait to turn the page to find out what happens to them next.

From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.

"Through Black Spruce is an arresting novel with unexpected twists and turns. It's also an important contribution to the Native literary voice in this country."
—Tomson Highway, author of Kiss of the Fur Queen

“Joseph Boyden achieves a beautiful balance between his characters and nature, between the hardships of contemporary life and their strong connection to the past.”
—Nino Ricci, Author of The Origin of Species and Testament

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pretty dirty and I loved it

From the Publisher:
Pretty Little Dirty

Lisa sees the life of her gorgeous best friend Celeste as just about perfect: she has a gigantic house, two older sisters to coach her through the hazards of high school, and loving, lively parents. As Lisa's own home has long been a place devoid of joyful noise—her mother has shut herself off in her bedroom for years—Lisa joins the Diamond household, slipping into their routine of sit-down suppers and soaking in the delicious normalcy of Diamond family life. But what begins as the story of two young women living a charmed adolescence, one of mastering dance moves and the protocols of male-female interaction, soon swirls into an intoxicating novel of art, music, and self-destructive impulses as Lisa and Celeste dare each other ever onward.

From Me:
Okay - loved it! Really loved it. It is raw and rough and slightly nasty and that all turns out to be a good thing. I felt like I was reading a real story of real teenage girls when I read this. I often feel like coming of age stories are written the way authors wished life was rather than how raw it often is. This book was a great example of a story that your grandmother would probably not approve of and it's totally worth the read.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Temiskaming Tourist Attractions & George Straatman's new book!

Tourist Attractions in Temiskaming...

Next week the New Liskeard Fall Fairr begins, which we always look forward to attending. since we started gardening, pickling and making our own jams, Jenn and I also like to check out the local Homecraft section.

Speaking of local attractions and events, Barb from the our local Chamber has created a wonderful list of Local attractions for the Temiskaming area. You can download the list by clicking HERE.

In Book News...

We just got in our copies of George Straatman's second book "The Converging: Mark of the Demon". Hopefully sometime in the near future we will also have George in for a book reading and signing!!

“Our day of reckoning will come, though not for some years. Know this; you cannot die unless I allow you to. I can cause you to suffer a limitless amount of agony if I so choose." The Baroness Cynara Saravic to a young Nathaniel Simpson.

After laying waste to the small Washington town of Semelar, the Demon Cynara Saravic leaves the United States with her coveted prize firmly in her grasp. Paving a bloody road of death and despair, that leads her from a remote village in Northern Mexico through the very home of the Roman Catholic Church, Cynara returns to her ancestral homeland of Romania to bask in her triumph and enjoy the spoils of her conquest. The ancient soil resonates with the agonized screams of Cynara’s past victims and these bloody ghosts cry out for retribution. The children of these restless victims will converge upon Cynara, intent upon forever purging her evil from the world. Among them will come Nathaniel Simpson and Jimmy Simms, two men driven to pursue a seemingly unstoppable monster, each driven by their own complex motivations of revenge and closure. Together they will join the beautiful and tempestuous Contayza Prowzi…a living weapon forged in the furnace of long-harboured hatred and vengeance…and confront Satan’s favourite daughter.

As Cynara prepares to meet their challenge, she discovers her greatest adversaries are not the engines of revenge that her past evils have set in motion, but rather love and her own conflicted nature.

George Straatman’s epic horror trilogy The Converging continues with the second segment, Mark of the Demon. Part intense horror and part psychological thriller, Mark of the Demon will plunge the reader into the deepest recesses of Cynara Saravic’s dark and twisted soul


1. Are your books for sale?

Yes the books are for sale.

2. Are you a Library?

No we are not a Library.

3. Can I borrow a book and return it later?

No you cannot borrow the books and return them later.