Tag Archives: Theresa @ WPL

When Selling (Is) Your Life

Recently I came across a book entitled A Life Sold, Or, Whatever Happened to that Guy Who Sold His Whole Life on eBay? The book (published in 2010) details how Ian Usher sold off all his belongings on eBay after his wife left him.  The sale included his home, car, clothes, personal belongings and even his friends (or at least introductions to them). With the money Usher received from the sale, he decided to travel the world armed with his bucket list.  He ran with the bulls, met Richard Branson, acted in a Hollywood movie, fell in love with a Canadian, and even purchased a Caribbean island. Disney has also optioned this book, so you may find that his story makes it to the big screen some day!

I’m not about to sell my whole life, but I did recently set up an online store from which to sell vintage items. Selling online obviously allows you to increase your market, as the Winnipeg market can often be limited. In fact, I’m finding that most of the  online sales are coming from all over the United States, not even Canada. Though I was hesitant about creating an online store as I thought it would be a lot of work, I set it up with siblings so that we each take responsibility for a different part of the store.

If you have crafts or other items to sell and want to start your own online store, you’re likely going to choose either eBay or Etsy.

eBay has been around much longer than Etsy, and is primarily known for its online “auction” function.  When you sell an item, people can bid on it while you have a reserve bid in place.  There is also a “buy it now” feature with eBay if customers want to avoid the bidding option. eBay is definitely still the most popular online selling site, and it has been a favorite with collectors. You can find almost anything on eBay–from rocks, to used books, movies, and clothes, to expensive art glass.  If you’re at all interested in selling items on eBay, check out Starting an eBay Business for Dummies and eBay for Dummies. Both books are recently published, and provide you with all the information needed to start selling such as how to build a store and how to set your prices and policies.  Armed with these resources, you’re sure to set up an online presence on eBay that will help you maximize your selling potential.

Etsy is another viable option which began as an online commerce site for crafters and crafting supplies. Etsy doesn’t have an “auction” function so you just list your price. You can find a wide range of handmade items on Etsy such as lip balm, purses made out of book covers (like this Jane Austen one), cards, jewelry… the list really is endless. If you make crafts you might want to consider Etsy as a venue for increasing your visibility and expanding your market. As well, in the last few years Etsy has become a go-to place to shop for vintage items (defined as any item over 20 years old), including fabric, clothes, patterns, glassware, pottery, jewelry and more.

We decided to start an Etsy site as we weren’t interested in the auction option, and we’re definitely finding it easy to use and set up. If you’re at all interested in starting on Etsy, the following titles will help get you going: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Selling Your Crafts on Etsy, How to Sell Your Crafts Online: A Step-by-Step Guide to Successful Sales on Etsy and Beyond and Starting an Etsy Business for Dummies.

Whether you decide to use Etsy or eBay is really a matter of personal preference, but the titles above may help you decide what option is better for you. Don’t forget to spend some time browsing on Etsy and eBay to see where your items will better fit in. And keep in mind that there are other online sales options out there you might want to consider, although Etsy and eBay do get a significant amount of traffic.

You might not have a whole life to sell, but you’re sure to find success with online selling, one sale at a time!

Theresa

Aside

The holiday season always has me feeling nostalgic, and this year was no exception.  Indeed, that feeling of nostalgia is what prompted me to pick up 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up by Julia Eccleshare.  That, and … Continue reading

Short Takes: My Favorite Short Story Writers

murnoRecently, with the announcement that Alice Munro was the recipient of a Nobel Prize in Literature, I began thinking about the short story writers that I have loved most.  I first read Alice Munro when I was in high school, and absolutely loved Lives of Girls and Women.  I don’t often re-read books, but this book is one that I have revisited many times.  The stories are all about one character, Del Jordan, and the writing is so beautiful that you realize that not only is Alice Munro a great Canadian writer, she’s a great writer, period.  Of Del falling in love, Munro writes, “His face contained for me all possibilities of fierceness and sweetness, pride and submissiveness, violence, self-containment. I never saw more in it than I had when I saw it first, because I saw everything then. The whole thing in him that I was going to love, and never catch or explain.” Other short story collections include Dear Life and My Best Stories, although a search of our library catalogue will also point you to many other novels written by Munro. Even if you think you’re not a fan of short stories, give Munro a try and she will likely change your mind!

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger was published in 1953 and is another title that I ninehave read and re-read numerous times.  The stories centre around different characters, but themes recur between the stories.  Phoniness is one theme that recurs, as well as the theme of children being wiser than the adults around them.  A high school teacher got me hooked on Salinger and Nine Stories, as far as I’m concerned, is Salinger at his best.  Though all the stories in this volume are great, stand-outs are “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”, “For Esme- With Love and Squalor” and “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut.” In “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” one character is described as “a girl who for a ringing phone dropped exactly nothing. She looked as if her phone had been ringing continually ever since she had reached puberty.” After reading these short stories, I remember thinking about them for days after.

carvI got hooked on Raymond Carver in university when I was taking an American Literature course and immediately loved Carver’s attention to detail and his knack for turning out accurate and real dialogue.  His stories deal with infidelity, death, isolation, loss and relationships between lovers and are set in mundane settings such as diners and trailer parks.  Will You Please Be Quiet, Please was Carver’s first short story collection, and in 1993 Robert Altman made a film of several of his short stories entitled Short Cuts.  This film starred big-name actors such as Robert Downey and Julianne Moore and is definitely an interesting film to watch.  Lyle Lovett as the bakery owner is particularly well cast.

The authors listed above are all very different (but equally great) masters of the short story genre.  And there’s no better time to discover a new author or two than when the nights are getting colder and darker, and there’s nothing better to do than cuddle up with a good read.

Theresa

Back to School: Resources to Help Parents Navigate the School Year

It’s getting dark earlier, the weather is getting cooler and the kids are back at school. It’s hard to believe, but summer is over already and we’re into yet another school year. In order to help you ensure that this school year goes smoothly for both you and your kids, the library has a number of resources that are sure to help you out!

lunch 2Most parents dread having to make lunches again, and with an increase in children’s allergies, we don’t even have our stand-by lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Parents need to be more creative in sending healthy lunches that their children will actually eat! The library has several new books hat will assist you in making delicious yet healthy lunches for your kids. Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love by Katie Sullivan Morford provides many lunch ideas sure to please the fussiest of children. As Morford writes in the introduction, “This book is a toolbox full of fresh ideas to help you break from the lunch-box rut that plagues the best of us.”  If you have a child who needs to eat gluten-free food, then the book for you is Stealth Health Lunches Kids Love : Irresistible and Nutritious Gluten-Free Sandwiches, Wraps and Other Easy Eats by Tracy Griffith. Full of recipes for tacos, rolls, pita sandwiches and wraps, this book provides many ideas for non-gluten child friendly lunch recipes.

If you think that your child needs a bit of assistance in the studying department studythen you might want to check out School Made Easier: A Kid’s Guide to Study Strategies and Anxiety Busting Tools by Wendy Moss.  Aimed at kids between the ages of 8 and 13, this book is for kids who leave work until the last minute, get nervous about homework and tests, and require some strategies to combat these problems.  It was well reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly, so you might want to give this book a try if any of the previous issues apply to your child.

facebookThere are also a few resources which might help you navigate social media and Internet use for your child for another school year. Several online resources discuss safe Internet behavior for children and it’s worth your while to go over these with your children, as it’s been my experience that schools teach Internet safety sporadically, depending on the school division. Internet Safety Resources is an RCMP website on Internet safety that includes resources such as Surfing Safe Means Surfing Smart, providing common-sense tips for children using the Internet and focuses on tips such as not providing personal information, no chatting with strangers, etc. Another interesting read is Talking Back to Facebook: the common sense guide to raising kids in the digital age by James P. Steyer. What effect does excessive use of social media have on our kids? How can we limit use by our kids? Parents need to be aware of the impact of social media and its impact on our children’s lives.  Though my son doesn’t have a social media presence (he’s only 9) I’m shocked at how many kids already had social media accounts — in kindergarten! If we’re more aware of the issues surrounding our children’s use of social media, then we can teach our children about appropriate use.

Another book worth reading is Bullied: what every parent, teacher and kid needs to know about ending the cycle of fearbully by Carrie Goldman. This book will provide you with strategies to use if your child is enduring bullying. Even if your child hasn’t been bullied, this book is still useful as it discusses how children should respond when they witness acts of bullying. Reading this book will definitely provide you with more information as you discuss this topic with your child.

If you need any other resources that might help you and/or your kids survive this school year, don’t hesitate to ask your local library’s staff!

Theresa

Getting into the ‘Swing’ of Things: All Things Golf

golfI used to say that golf was a dumb sport and that I just couldn’t see the point of chasing around a little white ball. It certainly wasn’t a sport that I would waste MY time on. And I didn’t, for many years. Yet my negativity towards golf could also be attributed to an event that happened when I was in grade seven. Back (and I do mean way back!) when I was in grade seven we had an event called Bonus Week, where you signed up for different activities all week. Choices included riverboat cruises, horseback riding, camping – the opportunities were plentiful! My friend and I decided that we were going to learn to play golf, so we signed up for that activity on one of the days it was offered.  As it turned out we were the only two students who signed up for golf, and neither of us had ever golfed in our lives!  The day of golfing we showed up at Kildonan Park, keen and excited to get some instruction from the teacher who was assigned to the golfing event. Well, the teacher didn’t show up (I guess having two students sign up didn’t warrant him attending!) and, instead of just going home and enjoying a day off, we decided that we should probably go ahead and golf 18 holes on our own, with no clue as to how to golf. It took us six hours to muddle through all 18 holes and I’m sure we frustrated many golfers in the process. Yes, we finished, but I was done with golf after that day. I pretty much agreed with Mark Twain who stated that “golf is a good walk spoiled”.

Fast forward to many years later. A friend decides to take golfing lessons, and coursesmyself and a few other friends decided to take lessons with her. I discover that this golf thing, when you have a bit of an idea of what you’re supposed to do, isn’t so bad. In fact, I find myself kind of enjoying it! Golf lessons evolve into weekly outings at the golf course with three other friends, and I find that I’m excited about golf nights and excited when I occasionally make a half-decent shot.  I also find that I’m actually buying golf books and borrowing them from the library!  Whether you’re a beginning golfer, you’ve never golfed before, or you just like watching golf, the library has a wealth of materials for you.  1,001 Golf Holes You Must Play Before You Die has pictures and descriptions of many world-wide golf courses for anyone thinking of planning a fantasy golf trip. Fantastic photos for golf aficionados to enjoy!

Looking to improve your game?  The library has golf tips and other instructional golf books, golf magazines, and even DVDs such as David Leadbetter’s set of instructional golf DVDs.  There are books specifically for women golfers and even some great titles on teaching children to golf.  A few recommended titles are the DVD Better Golf for Kids and a book entitled Golf: From the Tee to  Green.

triThere are also great biographies about golfers.  A fairly recent title is The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods about the six tumultuous years Hank Haney spent coaching Woods.  An engrossing book about being a caddie is John Dunn’s Loopers: A Caddie’s Twenty-Year Golf Odyssey.  Another title of note is American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Modern Age of Golf  – an interesting non-fiction read about how these three golfers made golf the popular game it is today.

The library also has some great golf movies.  One of my all-time favorites is Caddyshack, and Happy Gilmore with Adam Sandler has some laughs too.  The library also carries a Disney movie entitled The Greatest Game Ever Played, about an amateur player golfing in a big tournament.  Another biographical golf movie is Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, starring Jim Caviezel.

Even though the only hole-in-ones I’m going to get are at the miniature golf course, I’m glad that I’ve discovered the game of golf.  There’s nothing better than making a shot with perfect loft, or making par on a hole, or just enjoying the scenery while chatting with friends along the course.  If you haven’t tried golfing before, give it a try.  You just might find that you like it too!

Theresa

10 Interesting Things I Learned From Databases at WPL

Winnipeg Public Library pays for databases that everyone with a library card can access for free.  These databases are intended for anyone with an information need (adults and children) and they include a wealth of information  for both research and leisurely information pursuits.  Here are 10 things I learned today by accessing our databases:

ancestry

1. I was recently wondering about my heritage, and was asking my siblings if they knew what my paternal grandfather did for a living.  No-one knew, and there are very few living relatives left to ask.  I decided to check on Ancestry Plus (available in-library at all locations) and immediately located a voting list that listed my grandfather as being a millworker.  I’m now curious to do much more research on my family tree, and Ancestry Plus is a great place to start!

2. I remember seeing Husker Du at the Royal Albert Arms when I was much younger, and I was curious as to which year this concert wfpoccurred.  I checked out the Winnipeg Free Press Archives (available in-library at all locations) and discovered that they played there for 2 nights in 1984.  This also means that I went to see them at the bar before I turned 18, and this is a fact that I’ll never share with my son as he reaches his teen years!  The review of the Husker Du show was on a page that also included ads for restaurants and other businesses, many of which don’t exist any longer.  One ad is for Mother Tucker’s restaurant, and they’re advertising a sirloin steak dinner for $7.95!

3. Career Cruising is an extremely popular database that provides acareer wealth of information about various careers, educational requirements, resume building and even provides assessments to help point you in the direction of jobs and careers that would be well-suited to you.  I took the assessment out of curiousity and the results indicated that were I not currently a librarian, fields that might be well-suited to me would be lobbyist, criminologist or proofreader- interesting!  Many job counselors use Career Cruising with their clients and it’s definitely a database that’s worth checking out, whether you’re a high school student looking for career options or you’re looking to change careers.

4. We have several streaming music sites, including Naxos Music.  

beely

I was interested in seeing whether Naxos Music had any bellydance music, as this can be difficult to locate.  A search on Naxos Music revealed many CDs of bellydance music that could be streamed for free, and this is a database that can be accessed from home as well!

5. My son loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and I was curious about what other authors he might be interested in.  Using Novelist jacketPlus, I was able to search for these books and then click on ‘author readalikes’ and ‘series readalikes’ to discover other items he might be interested in.  Results included Gordon Korman, Tom Angleberger , Jordan Sonnenblick, Knights of the Lunch Table, Big Nate and Zombie Chasers – some good choices for my son to try.  Novelist Plus is a great resource to use for reading recommendations both for children and adults.

6. A colleague of mine is moving to Peru for a year, and I was curious to csimagelearn more about Peru.  Our database Lands and Peoples contained an article about Peru, and I learned a few things I didn’t previously know (all food-related, which means it’s close to lunchtime and I’m getting hungry!).  I discovered that most stores and businesses in the large cities close at noon and reopen at 3:00, as the mid-day meal is the largest.  The potato is a staple food in Peru and other popular dishes include anticuchos (main ingredient is beef heart) and seviche (raw fish marinated in lemon and lime juice).  Cuy (guinea pig) is also eaten in Peru, often barbecued on skewers.  As an owner of three guinea pigs named Max, Arthur and Felix, I quite hope that my colleague will not partake of cuy!

7. The Mango Languages database is an awesome resource for learning languages, and it includes a multitude of language choices.  In addition to mangoFrench, Spanish, Italian, Polish (and many others) Mango also includes Pirate.  I discovered that ‘buddy’ in Pirate is ‘me matey’ so I just might annoy everyone I know by calling them ‘me matey’ from now on.  Judging by how often Pirate is accessed on Mango, I won’t be the only one!

8. When using Consumer Health Complete, I discovered that there is untitledan actual disease called Rabbit Fever (or tularemia).  This is a bacterial infection that can be spread to humans by small animals such as rabbits and mice, and can be transferred by the animal or by a tick or fly bite.  If eating wild game, it should be cooked thoroughly so as not to transmit disease – so, if you’re eating rabbit, make sure you cook it thoroughly.  However, as a bunny lover who has been known to feed carrots to backyard rabbits , don’t tell me if you’re cooking up some rabbit stew!

9. In the database Columbia Granger’s Poetry database I searched for popoetry about Winnipeg, and located an absolutely lovely poem entitled Winnipeg – At Sunset, written by Emily Pauline Johnson (or Tekahionwake).  You can even listen to audio of the poem being read aloud.  My favorite stanza of this poem is:

Twilight is lingering over the rim
Of prairie and sky,
Its purple and amethyst, born in the dim
Horizon, to die.

tita10. I was curious about the Manitoba connection to the sinking of the      Titanic, and did a search on the Canadian Reference Centre database to locate articles about this.  I found an article entitled Titanic – The Manitoba Story from a journal entitled Manitoba History.  Very interesting article about local people who died in the tragedy.

Spend some time exploring Winnipeg Public Library’s databases, and you just might be surprised at the interesting things you discover!

-Theresa

Making it Reel: How to Start Your Own Movie Club

movieA number of years ago a friend suggested that we start a movie club.  I had been a member of a book club in the past but sometimes had trouble finishing books in time for the meetings, particularly if I didn’t enjoy a book.  With a movie club there is little to do in advance as members watch the feature together and then discuss what they watched afterwards.  It also helps that I’m a film fanatic and love watching movies of all genres and from all eras!

The movie club that I belong to just had its ten year anniversary (hard to believe!) and we’re still going strong!  In terms of starting a movie club, there is no right or wrong way to begin.  However, I’ll fill you in on ways that we’ve run our movie club over the last ten years:

Number of participants.  We have 6 members in our movie club mostly because 6 people can sit comfortably in all of our homes (we rotate hosting duties).  In the past we would get together for both dinner and a movie which could be difficult with additional members.  However, if you’re comfortable with more members, go for it!

Food.  When we first began the movie club, it was more like a dinner/indian foodmovie club, where the host would serve dinner first and then we’d watch a movie.  We did this for the first 6 years or so, until people wanted it to be a bit more low-key and serve snacks only.  Dinner and a movie can be kind of fun as you can then cook a meal that matches your movie in some way.  For instance, you could show the movie Monsoon Wedding and serve an Indian feast.  Or you could show a British movie and cook shepherd’s pie and trifle.  The possibilities as to how you can pair movies and food are endless!  We even once paired an activity with a movie where the host picked The Big Lebowski, and we went out for pizza and bowling first to set the tone!

mildredWhich movies?  Over the years, the host has typically selected the movie and could pick any movie at all.  It didn’t matter whether the host had seen the movie previously or not.  Sometimes I picked old favorites, sometimes I selected movies that were on my ‘to-view’ list.  I’ve picked Mildred Pierce, Belle de Jour, Diabolique, Lost Highway (among others) and other film club members have selected titles such as Capturing the Friedmans, The Virgin Spring, Network and Faces.  We had many lively discussions about the movies afterwards, but often the host would do a bit of research on their selected movie prior to movie club.  There are many great books to consult for movie ideas and information on those picks.

Last year, we decided to change the format a bit.  Every member of the moviecult club takes a turn picking a theme, and then for the next 6 months all the movie selections have to fit that theme.  The first theme we did was Canadian movies, and we watched some interesting movies that I might otherwise not have seen (such as Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain). Currently, the theme that we’re doing is cult movies.  When it was my turn to host I showed a double feature with Rock’n Roll High School and John Water’s Polyester.  Another movie club member recently showed Withnail and I as her selection.  The library has several great books on cult film that provided us with discussion ideas as well as ideas for movies to show.  500 Essential Cult Movies, 101 Cult Movies You Must See Before You Die and the classic Cult Films  were books that I looked through when picking my films.

If you’re interested in movies and want to start your own film club, I hope I’ve given you some ideas about how to go about starting one.  If you’re interested in the idea of a club, but not so keen to start your own, the library also has a film club that you can attend!  The NFB (National Film Board) film club takes place at several WPL locations- check out our newsletter for more information!

It’s a Wonderful Movie: My Top Picks of Christmas Flicks

charlieWhen it’s cold outside all I want to do is curl up and watch my favourite Christmas movies, cuddled up under a blanket with my kit-cat Hubert keeping me warm. Of course, the reality is that I seldom have time to do just that, and try and sneak a Christmas movie in here and there as the Christmas rush descends. With several weeks still to go until Christmas, I’m hoping that I can still find the time to watch a few of my all-time favourite Christmas movies and shows. If you’re looking to do the same, here are some titles worth considering.

My all time favourite Christmas movie is Desk Set starring Katherine Hepburndesk set and Spencer Tracy. Katherine Hepburn plays a Librarian in a research library, and Spencer Tracy is the efficiency expert hired to implement a mainframe computer into the workflow of the library. Katherine’s character Bunny and her colleagues think this means they’re being phased out and will lose their jobs. Set during the Christmas season, this movie is funny, sweet and comical. The most Christmasy part of the film is when all the librarians are chugging champagne at work as they celebrate Christmas with the other departments in the organization. If only we could all have champagne at work around Christmas! An interesting bit of trivia is that this movie script was penned by Nora Ephron’s parents.

connAnother favourite is Christmas in Connecticut, starring Barbara Stanwyck. Her character (Elizabeth Lane) writes a regular column on domesticity in a woman’s magazine. Her articles revolve around motherhood, cooking and other housewifely tasks. Her boss and those reading her column assume that Lane is the epitome of the perfect housewife, when in fact the reality could not be further from the truth. She lives in a small apartment and is without the husband and baby she pretends to have. Her house of cards is set to crumble when a nurse writes to Lane’s boss and asks if a returning soldier can spend a homey Christmas with Lane and her family. Not only does the boss agree, he decides that he too would like to experience a traditional Christmas. Watching Lane try and keep up the pretense of being the perfect housewife in a borrowed farmhouse is funny, and her character is endearing. Definitely worth watching.

The Christmas season is not complete without watching a few other classicmiracle flicks. Miracle on 34th Street is about an executive named Doris who has become rather jaded by life. When a department store Santa claims to be Kris Kringle and convinces her daughter of this as well, Doris believes the man to be insane. Is he insane, or could he be the real thing? It’s a Wonderful Life is another film not to be missed at Christmas. In fact, this movie is the perfect film to watch on a snowy Christmas Eve. George Bailey tries to commit suicide on Christmas Eve, but is shown by angel Clarence what life would have been like had he never existed. White Christmas is a musical with a great number of hits (White Christmas, Sisters) and stars Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Their song and dance act teams up with two sisters to perform at a failing Vermont inn, run by their former commanding general. Even if you’re not a fan of musicals, this movie is worth a watch.

oliveThere are many animated shorts suitable for kids and adults alike. Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman is an animated short with no dialogue – only music. A boy builds a snowman that comes to life, and they go on adventures (including a visit to the North Pole). Excellent animation with an imaginative story. Another animated film that’s become an annual favourite is Olive the Other Reindeer. Olive is a dog who thinks she’s a reindeer when she mistakes “All of the other reindeer” in the Rudolph song for “Olive the other reindeer”. She runs away from her owner after she mistakenly thinks he doesn’t want her any more and sets out to find Santa and help him deliver Christmas presents. Olive meets many interesting characters along the way, and Drew Barrymore is excellent as the voice of Olive. Of course, what Christmas could be complete without the classic animations: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (not the Jim Carrey version!).

I wasn’t going to mention A Christmas Story, as this is on almost everyone’s list A_Christmas_Story_1983_R1-cdcovers_of favourite Christmas flicks. Yet, I found I had to include this gem. Directed by Canadian Bob Clark, this movie makes me laugh every time! Who could forget the leg lamp prize, the handmade bunny outfit or the kid getting his tongue stuck on the frozen pole? This story is told from the point of view of Ralphie, who wants nothing more than to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Have to watch this movie each and every Christmas, and now my son is old enough to enjoy it with me as well!

If the previous titles aren’t to your liking and you’re more of an action aficionado, I do have one more suggestion for you. (And it is set on Christmas Eve!). How about a little Bruce Willis in Die Hard, anyone?

Laughs and Levity: My Favourite Comedy Films

Lately, with the days being dreary and cold and life very busy, the last thing I want to do is read or watch something heavy and depressing. (Anna Karenina, anyone?)  Instead, I’ve been in the mood to add some levity to my days and watch movies that make me laugh.  Here are some of my favorites that make me laugh every time:

Though any of Christopher Guest’s movies make me laugh, my favorite is This is Spinal Tap, the mockumentary about a British heavy metal band.  I remember seeing it in the theatre when it first came out–some people in the audience actually thought Spinal Tap was a real band!  One of the funniest moments in the film is when they want a huge replica of Stonehenge on stage, but instead an 18 inch version of Stonehenge dramatically appears in the middle of a show, versus the 18 foot model they wanted.  And all because they wrote down 18” instead of 18 ‘.  Many other funny scenes in this movie as well–definitely worth watching!

Peter Sellers can be hilarious, but he’s particularly funny in The Party. He plays Bakshi, an extra in a movie who is mistakenly invited to a dinner party for the actors and executives, when really he should have been fired!  The party is held in a fancy home where he inadvertently wreaks havoc all around him.  He floods the bathroom, makes a woman’s wig fall off, falls in the pool and unwittingly causes many other mishaps.

Caddyshack still makes me laugh, mostly because Bill Murray and Rodney Dangerfield are great in this flick.  Bill Murray’s ‘eating the chocolate bar’ scene is hilarious, and Rodney Dangerfield’s one-liners are great.  When introduced to the judge’s wife, he says of her “Hey baby, you must’ve been something before electricity.”  The humour in Caddyshack might be juvenile, but sometimes that’s exactly what I need.

Lots of Woody Allen’s older movies make me laugh, but none moreso than Manhattan Murder Mystery.  Woody Allen has great facial expressions in this movie, he’s not paired up with an embarrassingly young actress, and there’s some great funny dialogue (for a murder mystery!).  At one point in the movie, his wife (played by Diane Keaton) tells him she needs to go back to her shrink, and he says, “You don’t have to see your shrink, there’s nothing wrong with you that can’t be cured with a little Prozac and a polo mallet.”

A Christmas Story is another movie that always makes me laugh, even though I’ve seen it many times!  The fishnet stocking leg lamp, the Christmas dinner in the Chinese restaurant, the boy getting his tongue stuck on the pole–MANY funny scenes in this flick.  A bit of trivia: did you know that director Bob Clark was Canadian, and that he also directed the horror movie Black Christmas (a far cry from A Christmas Story!)?

If you prefer your comedy in smaller bites, sketch or sitcom comedy might bemore your thing.  I particularly enjoy British comedy.  Little Britain is not for the faint of heart nor politically correct (you’ve been warned!) but has some hilarious characters (the Fat Fighters lady, Bubbles, Vicky Pollard).  Ricky Gervais’ The Office and Extras are very funny as well, and are sure to fit the bill on a dreary day.

If you too are in need of adding some levity to your days, check out the American Film Institute’s list of 100 top comedies of all time. Remember, though, that what’s funny is very subjective.  What I find funny you may find offensive, or not funny at all.  For instance, the movies Dumb and DumberAnimal House and  Slap Shot are on many ‘best comedy’ lists–I hated them!  Same with the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup, one of my husband’s favorite movies.  Watching it felt like torture!

What movies make you laugh?

Shades of Autumn: A Fall List of Fun Things

It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  P.D. James
It definitely feels like summer is hanging on by a thread as we’re heading into a  cooler fall season.  Kids are back at school, vacations are over and the threat of winter snow is looming closer.  Though autumn is my favorite of all seasons, it’s unfortunately often the shortest, most fleeting one .  Lately, I’ve been thinking of some of the things I’d like to do this fall to make the most of the season.  Check out my list of a dozen things to do this fall and hopefully you’ll find a few things on this list that you’d like to do too!

  1.  Go on a fall hike.   What better time to go on a hike than in the fall when the leaves are changing and the colors are breathtaking?  If you need some help finding great Manitoba hiking spots, feel free to check out these books on hiking.
  2. Learn how to can and preserve.  Of course this assumes that you were left with a bounty of fruits and vegetables from your garden, but if not, you can purchase some from an outdoor market.
  3. Pick apples.  I was hoping to do that this year, but my tree yielded NO apples!  If you had more luck than me, try out some of these great apple recipes.
  4. Head to a pumpkin patch and pick out your own pumpkin.  Then check out these books on cooking with pumpkin or carving pumpkins.
  5. If you’re a football fan, have some friends over to watch a game and try out a new chili recipe.
  6. Start thinking about next year’s garden and plant some mums and bulbs.  Get some ideas here.
  7. Make a Halloween costume for yourself or your kid(s).  Plenty of ideas to be had in these books, and some of these require more imagination than sewing skills.
  8. Do some fall decluttering and get rid of unwanted items around your house.  This weekend (September 8 and 9) is the City of Winnipeg’s giveaway weekend .  It’s amazing how quickly your unwanted items will become someone else’s newfound treasures!
  9. Try out some new slow cooker recipes, so that after a hard day of work you can come home to the aroma of a yummy, fully cooked meal!
  10. Explore a small town and enjoy a fall supper while you’re there.  Travel Manitoba has a list of fall suppers held throughout the province, most of them all-you-can eat suppers for a modest price.
  11. Check out a festival.  This weekend is Manyfest, a festival held in downtown Winnipeg from September 7 to 9.  If you need a break from all the activity, head down to the Millennium library and spend some time relaxing in the park, or borrow some DVDs, music or books from the library!
  12.  Register for a running or walking race. There are plenty to choose from this fall!  A listing of some races can be found here.  Who knows? This might even inspire you to enter the marathon next year. You can get some training tips here.
  13. If lists make you feel thoroughly exhausted, let’s make this a baker’s dozen and end off with a very relaxing way to spend an autumn day.  Pick a cool fall day, spend the day in your pajamas and read a library book or two!