Down With OPB: Brat Worse, or Minnie See, Minnie Do.

Minnie Brandon has just been banned from Santa’s grotto – her fourth one. She goes down in a spectacular blaze of glory, dismantling the holiday display which causes an avalanche of presents to rain down on her fellow brats.

 But this isn’t a one-off. She also mugs every female parishioner at her christening, dumping out the contents of each purse onto the altar; sticks a honey sandwich (EW!) in the tape player of a delivery truck; orders sixteen identical designer coats from eBay; and, thanks to mistaking it for a “dolly”, yanks down a store mannequin into her tight, unyielding embrace.

But forgive her Father, for she knows not what she does: she is only two years old. 

Then, there’s Becky who:

  • throws a tantrum in a toy store because she wants a toy pony, not the toy wagon
  • wrestles with an elf employed in Santa’s grotto because she doesn’t want her Christmas wish read out loud
  • purposefully smashes someone’s BlackBerry to bits
  • throws another tantrum because she wants fire-eaters and jugglers at her party
  • writes letters to financial institutions with ridiculous suggestions (i.e. barterting a minor member of the Royal Family to the U.S. in exchange f for J. Crew clothing) to aid the current financial crisis
  • shoves an entire serving of carrots at once into her mouth to make it look like they’ve been eaten
  • impersonates an art professor
  • tries to get a diagnosis of “sleep-shopping” and the effects of having to stop shopping cold turkey (as she has been forbidden to shop in the face of said financial crisis)
  • lies to and continually hides things from her parents
  • uses phrases such as “sooo cool!”

Don’t forgive her Father, because Becky should know better: she’s twenty-nine years old and Minnie’s mother. And, apparently, has not grown up since the first installment of the Shopaholic series, even though this blatantly immature behaviour has gotten her in deep trouble every time. But then if she did  learn her lesson, there wouldn’t be six books (and counting, judging from the open-ended ending – say that five times fast) or money in author Sophie Kinsella’s pocket. On the back of this book, People magazine refers to Becky as “plucky and funny”. Ha! More like a “fucked-up dummy.”

But why should Becky learn her lesson? Because in the end, things always work out. Tremendously. Even though she’s too stupid to live. She already affects the people around her (usually quite negatively) but now she’s inflicting her selfishness and childishness on her daughter, who also wants to buy whatever she sees and does whatever she wants, fuck the consequences. But instead of disciplining her child, she gets affronted when someone (actually, several people) have the sheer nerve to suggest that Minnie is spoiled. Ok then, lady. And if that isn’t bad enough, her husband is surgically attached to his BlackBerry – so I kinda don’t blame her for smashing it – and treats his family as an afterthought, because he is soooo consumed with work. I was expecting Becky to leave him at the end, but instead she throws him a surprise party (where she wanted the fire-eaters and jugglers), so now everything’s kosher, two thumbs up, Ebert and Roper. Yech.

Godspeed, li’l Minnie.

And now that I have finished shitting all over someone else’s work, I confess that I am a big fat hypocrite. After reading this series, and trying but failing to read Twilight (it bored me so, and I’m just not into fantasy fic or whatevs it’s supposed to be) I threw away my goal of being a SRS literary writer and thought that I could make money writing something as stupid as these books. Really, these things take no brain power to read. I finished Mini Shopaholic and Gossip Girl: It Had To Be You in two days, Lauren Conrad’s second novel, Sweet Little Lies in one. And they are best sellers. So in my moment of temporary insanity, I decided that integrity was overrated.

I must warn you: this shit is bad. I got up to 95 pages ’cause I could feel my soul (what’s left of it) ebbing away bit by bit. I’m gonna post the first chapter after the jump. But I’m not gonna tell you how long ago this was written, because it’s embarrassing.

Disclaimer: not responsible for loss of brain cells or will to live.

Read the rest of this entry »


Down With OPB: I’ve Gotta Toothache.




This is your brain.


This is your brain after you read a Lauren Conrad novel.


Sorry, I lost track of what I was saying. ‘Cause I just finished a Lauren Conrad novel.

Down With OPB: Designer Fables, or “Everybody Loves Serena.”

I know, I know. I should be ashamed of reading a YA novel, and a Gossip Girl novel at that. But dude – I have to travel to Vaughan from Brampton – and back – EVERY WEEKDAY. In total, it’s a four-hour commute per day. It doesn’t exactly pass the time to read Hemingway and Doysk Doishk Docksy Douch you know: that guy. ( I know I could Google the name but I’m lazy am trying to feign ignorance. Even though I was an English major. An HONOURS English major. And no, I’m not a squeegee kid now.) Not that I would read Hemingway and “you know: that guy” on purpose – yech. Besides, no YA novel I ever read when I was actually the target age had the word “cocksucker” in it. So there.

No, I’m not being defensive at all.

Anyway, even though I watch the show out of a half-baked interest (and because it comes on right after 90210) my curiosity about the novels was piqued. Even though I think the show is really boring, what with all the usual fare of nighttime teen dramas: backstabbing, betrayals, etc. It’s been done and gets old really fast. And there’s no likeable characters.

Serena would be boring if she weren’t so slutty. Blair’s obnoxious. Chuck skeeves me out with his perma “come-fuck-me” growl and squinty eyes. Jenny’s a brat. Nate’s a slut and he’s still boring. Dan’s an annoying “please like me” puppy dog when he isn’t being one of those brooding writer types. And Vanessa…what’s worse than being boring? As for the parents? They might as well have the wa wa wa voices like the adults in Charlie Brown.

But Cecily Von Z.’s It Had To Be You, the “how it all began” prequel wants you to think differently of these characters:

Serena: preternatural goddess that every boy wants. (All hail the Aryan princess!)

Blair: second banana brunette with an inferiority complex thanks to being best friends with a preternatural goddess that every boy wants

Nate: preternatural god that every girl wants

Dan: he’s a poet and didn’t even know it!

Jenny: budding artist with a heck of a budding chest (but is a curly-haired brunette, not a corset wearing, blonde-extensioned vamp with racoon eyes)

Chuck: international play boy, bien sur


Parents: wa wa wa wa wa wa

Speaking of unintelligible communication, here is the jist of the novel:




And oh yeah: Serena loves Nate.  Nate loves Serena. Blair loves Nate. Nate loves Blair. (But his heart belongs to pot.) Jenny loves Serena. The boys at summer camp love Jenny(‘s breasts). Dan loves Serena. Vanessa loves Dan. Nobody loves Vanessa.

And Chuck loves Chuck.

I mean, I do watch – and love to hate – the TV series – so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Nor can I complain when I read the very first Gossip Girl novel, because I totally reserved it at the library. What? I told you I can’t buy any more books. I have NO MORE ROOM. And that was after I gave away THREE FULL BOXES of them. And I can’t afford to buy any more because I am saving for a MacBook Air.

No, I’m not being defensive at all.

Down With OPB: Status Ho.

If you’re to believe Candace Bushnell (you may have heard of her; her first book was called Sex In New York, or something and I think it might have been turned into a TV show, though I don’t think anyone watched it) you would believe that Manhattan is a cold, loveless island full of cold, loveless people who only pair up to fulfill their (sometimes deviant) sexual desires – or to obtain high societal status. Of course, she’s a better judge of this than I am, since she’s a born and bred New Yorker, but that just makes her book of 4 short stories all the more depressing. The title is self-explanatory – the 4 short stories are about 4 blondes living in New York and desiring things outside themselves to fulfill themselves on the inside. Does it work? Well, let’s see!

In “Nice ‘N’ Easy”, Janey Wilcox is your stereotypical saline-enhanced blonde bimbo who modeled once, but has no discernible skills beyond that. Since she aspires to own a house in The Hamptons, but cannot afford to do so herself, she goes through a series of men, each more repugnant than the last, hoping that one of them will buy one for her. But then she realizes it isn’t worth being treated like shit, so she ventures out to get a career of her own, only to fall back into the one in which she originated: she’s picked to be the face of Victoria Secret, then promptly buys her own damn house in the Hamptons. You feminist, you.

In “Highlights (For Adults)” this wholly unlikable couple, Winnie and James Dieke, hate each other and they hate their lives, and the only thing they have in common is  that they’re both journalists. Winnie hates James because he’s weak and unambitious. James hates Winnie because she is strong and  too ambitious. So repressed is their dislike for one another they self-medicate with a coke habit (James) and anorexia (Winnie). Long story short (or, short story shorter?) she doesn’t think he’s good enough for her, he thinks she thinks he’s too good for him, so they cheat on one another, then continue on in their miserable marriage. Business as usual!

In “Platinum”, Cecelia is married to a prince but she’s miserable. Suffering from depression, to be exact, as well as bulimia. She’s being chased by the paparazzi, controlled by her evil gay publicist, and thinks that he and her husband are conspiring to kill her. So she runs off to gay Paree with an aging, promiscuous actress in search of liberation, independence, and happiness without all the glamorous trappings of a life she thought would make her happy.

And finally, in “Single Process”, a columnist who’s pushing 40 goes to London on the pretext of researching the difference between romantic relationships there and in New York. But she’s really there to find a husband because she can’t be 40 and unmarried. YE GODS! So she collects all this information, but it’s more for herself than the article. The unnamed protagonist manages to find a relationship, but leaves it when she realizes that she’s in it for the wrong reasons: she’s not really in love and does not want to be stuck in a loveless marriage (which she witnesses while visiting a friend).  She finds love at the end, though,  in one of those it-happens-when-you-least-expect it twists: on the plane ride back to America. And he’s an Englishman! Bravo, lady.

Hey, maybe love in New York does exist…provided your significant other isn’t also from there.


Once again, I’ve changed the name of this blog.

That’s because I now want to do more with it than just the Writer’s Block exercises. Which is not to say that I won’t be doing those anymore; I still plan on completing every one.

But lately I have been getting ideas for stories that have nothing to do with those exercises, as well as the desire to do mini-reviews on the books that I’ve read. So, because of that I feel the need to change the name of this blog, as it has become about more than those exercises.

Plus, I love to read as much as I love to write. After all, my love of reading (obviously) is why I can write. So it only makes sense that I incorporate both loves into this blog. And the way my brain is working, I’ll probably get more creative with this blog, so I figure it’s a good idea not to make the title so static.

Choosing a new title was not easy, and is probably why I burned out as an advertising copywriter: it took me ALL day. I know it’s punny and most likely on the cheesy side, but judging from a lot of the posts on this blog, it seems that’s kind of my schtick. Cheesy or not, I like it. And hopefully I stick to it.

And now, for shits and giggles, here’s the rejected titles:

  • Pens & Paperbacks
  • I Know, Write?
  • Black, Write and Read (the “black” referring to my race…hahahaha)
  • Read, Write and Blog
  • Read, Write and Block
  • Sideshow Mel (the “Mel” referring to my name….hahahaha)
  • Writer Sunblock (because that’s what Writer’s Unblock sounds like when you say it fast…hahahaha)
  • Literary Gumbo (it was taken)
  • Litterati (already taken, and yes I stole it from The Simpsons episode when Lisa joins Mensa and Carl says “Let’s make litter out of this literati!”…hahahaha)
  • At A Fifth Grade Level (refers to my reading level when I was in First Grade and the year I discovered I could write)
  • Reading In The Dark (yeah, I dunno either)
  • Overdue Library Books (yeah, I dunno either)
  • Overdue
  • To Mrs. Zeagman, Thanks For Everything! Melissa Henry (Mrs. Zeagman was the fifth grade teacher who told me I could write. The title, of course, refers to the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar. Which I recommend watching, btw)
  • In The Write Direction (feel free to throw shit at me, I deserve it)
  • Tales Of A Fifth Grade Something (if you don’t know what THIS is a reference to I’mma shoot you)
  • Writing Under The Influence (I almost picked this one, but it’s been used on the internet before and Read, Write and Hack hasn’t…because no one else out there is as stupid creative as I am. Or creative stupid…I mean stupid creative! Creatively stupid! Stupidly creative! Ok, I’ll stop.)

As I mentioned, I will be doing reviews on the books I’ve been reading. Because I don’t have a car and the commute to work is long, I have lots of time to read. And a lot of these books are trashy shit that I take out from the library because they pass the time like a mofo (and I have neither the money or room – my bookshelf is packed to capacity – for new books).

Which, once again, introduces another new segment: Down With OPB (Other People’s Books). Again, feel free to throw shit at me. And not just because I referenced a hip-hop song from 1990, but because technically, I don’t have a book. I could have called it “Other People’s Writing” but OPW doesn’t work as well as OPB. So I bullshitted a little. But gimme a break, I write fiction. So I guess you can say that bullshit’s my schtick, too!

Stranger Than Fiction: “Who’s John Lennon?”

This happened about five or six years ago when I worked at a music store.

On this particular day we had received delivery and were putting away the merchandise we’d unpacked in its appropriate section. Whenever we did this, if we weren’t sure of which section the CDs we’d stock went, we’d either consult the inventory database on a computer (which, at the time, was so ancient it took forever) or we asked one another. While this usually only happened with obscure artists, ambiguous artists (i.e. who could fit into pop/rock or alternative) sometimes this could happen – depending on the employee’s taste in music – with genres with which they weren’t familiar.

Now when you work in a music store it helps (obviously) to have a broad knowledge of music, particularly the top 40, since listeners of current, mainstream music are usually the dominant buyers (or at least they were in our store.) You’re not expected to know every type of music, which is why it helps (again, obviously) to have a staff with diverse tastes in music, so if one person doesn’t know what the customer is looking for, they can hand it off to their co-worker.

And then there’s the music artists that everyone knows, regardless of their tastes in music, because they’re icons. Even if you haven’t heard much of their music (which is unlikely), even if you don’t like their music (which you don’t have to just because they are icons) even if you don’t even think about them until you have to, you know who they are, because they aren’t just a part of music history: they have made it.



Because they are music staples. Elvis. Bob Marley. Michael Jackson. The Rolling Stones.

Or, say, the Beatles.

So there we were, putting away stock when my twenty-one-year-old (at the time) co-worker had one of those “Which section does this CD go” questions….while holding up a John Lennon CD.

“Um…pop/rock?” I responded, unable to say it, regrettably, in anything other than a condescending tone.

“But I don’t know who he is!” she protested, thankfully not insulted by the way I spoke to her, just petulant.

“But-but- he was in the Beatles!” I spluttered.

“But how am I supposed to know their names?”

Ok. Maybe I could have accepted not knowing Ringo Starr’s name…maybe even George Harrison, as the combination of the Lennon-McCartney ego made them the Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland of the group, respectively. But not knowing John Lennon?

Who uttered the infamous – and  misinterpreted – soundbite “Bigger Than Jesus”? (Calm down everyone, he was pointing out the ridiculousness of worshipping them rather than Him).

Who had a nekkid sit-in with his wife (who inspired a quirky – well, they all are – unforgettable song by the Barenaked Ladies?)

Who went on to a very successful solo career, which spawned many hits, including “Imagine”? (I know, no one knows that song, and it’s no “I Got My Mind Set On You“, but that’s  all I have to work with)

Who was gunned down in New York right in front of his apartment by a Catcher In The Rye-obssessed, mentally disturbed, morbidly obese man, who had only that morning taken a picture with Mr. Lennon and had the singer sign a copy of his latest (and last) album, Double Fantasy?!

Yeah, I could see how she hadn’t heard of him.

Stories From Yesteryear: The Border

I wrote this one back in high school. Unlike the other stories here, which lean on the humorous/sarcastic side, this is dark and contains sensitive subject matter. Particularly: sexual abuse. Thankfully, I’ve never been sexually abused, so the depictions in this story are most likely highly inaccurate. I was only 17 at the time, too.  However, my teacher at the time didn’t seem to have a problem with it as she gave me a 10/10.

Read the rest of this entry »