Archive for the ‘the fine print’ Category


the fine print: Mary Gauthier’s letter to a young songwriter

April 11, 2014

The music distribution platform called CD Baby has started a series of letters to young songwriters from established musicians. Mary Gauthier is the first to contribute. What I like about this letter is that while the advice does contain a few tips that are specific to music-making, it can also be read as a letter to a young or new maker of anything. I like this passage in particular:

You must learn how to reject acceptance and accept rejection. People‚Äôs opinions of you and your work are irrelevant. The search for love and applause has no place in the creative process. Here is what I know: thriving artists suffer from a feeling of inferiority, a feeling of reaching for something that keeps being just outside our grasp. We make contact with it, and then it turns to smoke. It cannot be held. So our work involves a constant striving.”

Click here to read the full letter.


the fine print: Larry Levis’s The Poem You Asked For

March 17, 2014

This section of 11th ave., the fine print, is where I offer a “chapeau” to writing I find here and there that really touches me or grabs me or hey this is sounding a little rough for prime time. But you get my meaning.

Ordinarily, this would be where I would drone on a bit about why I was so moved or inspired or gob-smacked. But to be honest, I can’t recall. I generally bookmark lovely things I find here and there, sometimes I email them to myself. I am so certain, in the moment, that my connection to the writing will pretty much write itself into a blog post. What happens more often than not is that I find an email like the follow, which has its own lyrical beauty no it doesn’t.


Gyrating bridge 1939

99 per cent invisible

Leek potato kielbasa soup

The Larry Levis poetry page, at Poem Hunter, that I bookmarked Jan. 9, 2014 was almost as mysterious as the above. But The Poem You Asked For fairly jumped up and begging me to click it again. However I found it, I am grateful. It casts the relationship between poem and poet like a love hate relationship, which of course it is.

beat me and took my money,

tore the faded clothes

off my back

Read the full poem here.

And if you like The Poem You Asked For, you might also try the great American poet Billy Collins’s Purity.


the fine print: I’ve looked at Facebook friendship from two sides now…

February 12, 2014

I’m on Facebook quite a lot. Sometimes I judge myself harshly for that. Sometimes I just feel so damn happy that it allows me a regular shot of the wit and wonder of far-flung family and friends. Other times, I hilariously send embarrassing messages to the wrong person, but end up with a drink invitation anyway and isn’t that pretty amazing. But where was I? Oh right. In addition to family and real-world friends, Facebook comes with special friends. I mean that plainly: friends who are special or specific to Facebook. Some are real-world acquaintances, former colleagues, friends of friends and the like. And some who are specific to topics, like the music-mad crowd who share their shuffle playlists each Friday as a hook on which to talk about music. Fills me with joy. No idea who these people are otherwise. Are these and the other “special” ones real friends? Yes. Maybe. Whatever? I have to say, the only times I have really put any thought into this are when other people write about it. And it seems to me that when people challenge the veracity of “Facebook friends”, it is pretty quickly clear that they are a) more visitors to and not committed citizens of the social realm and b) they are also people who complain that they don’t get Twitter and Instagram because “who cares what you ate for breakfast / lunch / dinner” (to which I say, you are following the wrong people).

However, here are a couple of very lovely takes on Facebook friendship. The first is by Ian Brown in the Feb. 8 Globe and Mail, whose “but are they real friends?” hand-wringing is ugh but leads him to a lovely recounting of his 60th birthday and an appreciation of at least Facebook friends’ birthday wishes. (“So thanks, even unto the depth of strangers.”) Wonderful little essay. You can read that right here.

The second piece is by my Gazette colleague and friend Hayley Juhl, on her blog Life’s a Trip, which is an elegant answer to the question of Facebook friends, which she offers as she does all things, with quiet grace, beautiful words and good humour. You can read that here (and maybe consider following her blog, which I hope you enjoy as much as I do).

And then you have a good day. Friend.


the fine print: Rosanne Cash on her life, work and The River and The Thread

January 21, 2014

Rosanne Cash has a new album, The River and The Thread, which is lovely. Lovely. Also lovely, her book Composed: A Memoir. Go listen. Go read. But first, read Cash’s essay on the website The Oxford American. Oh sure, she talks about her dad, Johnny Cash, but that’s just a small part.

Click here to read Rosanne Cash’s essay on The Oxford American. And then go listen to The River and the Thread. This is my fave cut off the album.


the fine print: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

December 11, 2013

I like Ben Stiller just fine. I’m looking forward to the movie, Walter Mitty, in which he plays the daydreamer originally interpreted for film by the amazing Danny Kaye in 1947. Ben Stiller’s version is out Christmas Day. I’m going to see it, maybe even ON Christmas Day (the theatres as surprisingly full on that day so I’m obviously not the only one who takes a breather from back-to-back family (love you all) to sit quietly in a cinema and watch crazy people shout at each other. Well, that was just that one Christmas but where was I?

Oh yes. So The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, coming to a multiplex near you. But take a minute now, right now (it’s very short), and read the original story by James Thurber. It’s only a wee slip of a sketch in its original form. But what a lovely sketch. And if that doesn’t whet your curiousity, how about this: Thurber once rewrote Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven to tell the story from the bird’s point of view. Then again, he was also known or believed to have said: “A woman’s place is in the wrong.” To be sure, Mrs. Mitty doesn’t come off too well here, but I’m wandering again. Read the damn story!

James Thurber’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Merry Christmas.

And here’s a trailer for the movie that I hadn’t seen yet. Maybe it’s new to you, too.


the fine print: this essay will change your life. 17 times over

September 12, 2013

Well maybe not 17 times. What are you? A cat to the power of 2, almost?

With thanks to Buzzfeed, here is a list of essays you need to read. Because autumn – even years after most of us have done with school – is still a time for knuckling under and hitting the books. Funny, right? Anyway, it’s good to learn. You’ll live longer. Or smarter. Or something.

Anyway, essays! Click here and be amazed. 17 times over.

Buzzfeed: 17 Essays That Will Change Your Life.


the fine print: I Wish My Mother Would Call

May 11, 2013

You can shake your fist at Hallmark and FTD all you want, Mother’s Day would be a thing with or without the commercialization, which this year of 2013 comes on May 12.

But what kind of thing is Mother’s Day for you? And you? That’s the thing.

A loving, uncomplicated thing? A day to lavish gifts and gratitude?

A longing thing? For a mom gone, either from this life or from yours?



Or perhaps accepting? And imperfect as you and she and your relationship is, wishing for just a little more time?

Gawker has a personal essay series that features a very moving remembrance of a mother that Dawna Dingwall shared. It’s called I Wish My Mother Would Call and you can read it here. And please do. It’s lovely. It’s written by Joshunda Sanders

If you’d like to wander through a few more motherly remembrances, try this blog I started a couple of years ago and, while not updated much since then, stands strong still in the collected stories of women I know writing about their mothers. That series of remembrances was called Mother’s Day Survivor Guide and you can read those posts here. If you’re a completist, the blog itself is called, and I will not apologize for the title because it still makes me smile at its dorkiness, 50 ways to grief your mother. If you can’t be sarcastically melodramatic to your friends, then what’s this world come to?

Happy Mother’s Day.


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