Monday, November 12, 2007

Tagged at 8

I've been tagged by Fancy Maven...

8 passions in my life

My husband

My three kids

Our dog

My parents

My siblings




8 things to do before I die

Publish a children's book

Sing at a piano bar alongside the pianist

Tell some people what I REALLY think of them

Organize family photos

Improve my confidence level

Go back to Saint Maarten, where I honeymooned

Visit Paris and Switzerland with my daughter

Share hugs and kisses a little more frequently

8 things I often say

Love ya

You're such a schnauzer

Ciao babe

Hi booba

How many times do I have to say the same thing!

I can't find my cell phone -- it's SOMEWHERE in my purse

I'm going to tell your Abba

II'll be there in a few minutes...

8 Books I read recently

{How embarrassing that I haven't been reading recently, lately, in the not too distant past, either!}

8 songs that mean something to me

It Had to be You

A Whole New World

Aishet Chayil

Those Were the Days

Dust in the Wind

Time After Time

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

Papa, Can You Hear Me?

8 qualities I look for in a friend


Sense of Humor


Good sense of humor

Sense of adventure



Similar interests

8 people whom I'm passing this on to...but in case you DON'T want to do the meme, at least come up with 8 reasons why you can't or won't :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day -- November 11, 2007

This is a beautiful personal essay I read in today's Toronto Star. I wanted to share it in honor of Remembrance Day, and tip my imaginary hat to all those veterans of WW1, WW2, the Korean War and the war in Afghanistan who have fought, some of them fighting "the good fight" to their ends.

Lest We Forget what Remembrance Day is really about

It's about families who still cry over namesakes they never knew ...

Nov 11, 2007 AM

Harriet Cooper

I always hated my name. Harriet. Not a name you'll find among the most popular girls names.
I never felt it was mine. It belonged to my uncle, Harry, who was killed in World War II.
I got his name for two reasons.

First, in keeping with Jewish tradition, children are named after family and friends who have died to honour their memory.

Second, although my mother and aunts wanted to save his name for a boy, they kept having girls. During her second pregnancy, my mother decided her baby – boy or girl – was going to be named after Harry.

For most of my life, I've worn the name uneasily. How could I remember somebody who died before I was born? Somebody I only knew through a bunch of medals my mother keeps in a drawer and a picture of a fresh-faced soldier, a kid really, in uniform.

My mother never talked about him and I didn't ask, too afraid to stir up painful memories. While I only knew him from a photograph, he was her adored older brother – the only boy in the family.

As I've gotten older, I've become interested in exploring my roots. Harry was one of those roots.
I wanted to know more about the man who gave his life for his country and his name to a niece he would never know.

With Remembrance Day approaching, I called my mother and asked her to tell me about him.
With tears in her voice, she spoke about a quiet, good-looking young man with a sense of humour.

A case of rheumatic fever kept him from completing high school and left him with a heart murmur.

Rather than finish school the next year, he looked for part-time work. He spent his first paycheque on a rose-coloured plate for his mother.

When World War II erupted, Harry enlisted, despite his heart problems. After training, he shipped out to England and then to Italy. My grandparents sent him care packages – cookies, chocolate, cigarettes and gum – which he shared with the civilian families who had even less than he did.

The news of his death came during the High Holidays, when Jewish families celebrate the New Year. Only for Harry, there would never be a new year.

While our conversation left us both in tears, they were tears of relief. My mother finally had a chance to talk about her brother; I had a chance to see beyond some medals and a picture to a real person.

Since then, I've thought about the ways in which my uncle and I are similar – a sense of humour and a belief in giving to others. Even more, I've thought about the ways we are different.
At 20, my biggest concern was doing well at university. His was struggling to stay alive. At 20, I had my whole life ahead of me. At 20, he had six feet of earth in a cemetery in Rimini, Italy, and a Star of David carved into his tombstone, along with the words: "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will always remember you."

Instead of disliking my name, I'm now proud to share his name. I can only hope he'd be proud of me, too.

This year on Remembrance Day, and every day thereafter, I will honour what is written on his tombstone: I will remember Private Harry Silver of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, killed in action at age 20, Sept. 20, 1944, in the battle of Rimini, Italy.

My uncle. My namesake.

Harriet Cooper is a Toronto writer and teacher.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Hollywood Story...about the Writers' Strike

19-Cent Cheques Leave Writers Wanting Change

Nov 04, 2007 04:30 AM
Ken Levine

Special to the Star

Why are Hollywood writers about to go on strike tomorrow? We asked Ken Levine, a Tinseltown scribe and Emmy winner with a near-peerless sitcom pedigree, having worked on Cheers, Frasier, M*A*S*H and The Simpsons. He's also the author of one of the sharper blogs in showbiz:

I got a cheque recently from American Airlines. A royalty cheque. For the past several years as part of their "inflight entertainment"American Airlines has been showing episodes of Cheers, M*A*S*H and Becker that I wrote along with episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier and Dharma & Greg that I directed. Considering the number of flights and years I'd estimate they've shown my shows 10,000 times. My compensation for that: $0.19. That's right – 19 cents (American, so it's even less in Canada.) I figure at that rate, in 147 years I'll be able to buy one of their snack boxes.

An episode of Frasier I wrote is out on DVD. I make nothing. The script is included in a book. I make zilch. Soon you'll be able to download and watch it on your iPod or iPhone at IHOP. The only one who won't make money is "i".

Are you sensing a pattern?

The Writers Guild of America is asking the mega-corporations that own the entertainment industry in America and the galaxy to compensate its members fairly for this highly desired product they create. Just a piece, that's all. More than nothing. And without sounding greedy, more than nineteen cents.

Via-Uni-Time-Corps-Ney would rather have a strike.

I've been through three of them already. Many of the companies I struck are no longer in business. Two-thirds of the people I struck with are no longer in the guild. And unlike actors and directors, when we go out it doesn't just shut down the industry. It slows it. Hair restoration crèmes have faster results.

But as someone who has prospered and enjoyed the gains writers before me have won, I feel it's my obligation to fight the good fight for the next generation. And hopefully in 20 years, when the issue is holograms transmitted directly to the back of viewers' eyelids, WGA members will hang tough for a piece of that pie.

This acrimony between writers and management has been a proud tradition since the 1930s when scribes first rose up and had the audacity to ... well, ask for things. Warner Brothers czar Jack Warner warned that any writer who joined the union would "find themselves out of work forever." And he claimed this wasn't blacklisting because "it would all be done over the telephone." Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox once shouted, "Throw that writer off the lot until I need him again!" Critic David Thomson says Hollywood writers are like divorce lawyers or private eyes. When you want them you have to have them, but later you despise them.
Is it any wonder we "schmucks with Underwoods" have an inferiority complex and assume a defensive posture? We spend our entire careers trying to protect our work from meddling studios, directors, actors, fellow writers, research gurus, networks, and girlfriends of all of the above.

Yes, we're an angry bunch, a self-righteous bunch, but we make 19 cents from American Airlines when management flies in private jets.

I teach a seminar called The Sitcom Room ( It's a fun weekend where I simulate the experience of actually being on the writing staff of a network show. Students rewrite scripts, have real actors perform their work, and learn first hand the realities of the business – little sleep, bad Chinese food, notes. But they eagerly participate, because they love the process, they have a need to express themselves, they want to be heard. Not one has said they want to be a TV writer to make money.

And when they finally do enter the industry, who knows what that industry will be? New delivery systems are emerging so rapidly that even the "unthinkable" was obsolete five minutes ago. These young writers will embrace that future, and through their vision and zeal will make it soar. All they're asking for is their fair share. MyPiece, not MySpace. iShare, not iTunes. NetWorth, not NetFlix.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

And Now a Word from the Peanut Gallery

I've mentioned this book in a previous post -- The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt. It's a wonderful anthology of personal essays exploring various aspects of life and the Jewish woman.
It is funny, and honest, and insightful. I have picked it up, read an essay here and there, then put it down and picked it up weeks later; it's that kind of "pick-me-up" read.

Anyhow, I had the book at work to read over my lunch hour; it was sitting on my desk.

A non-Jewish co-worker passed by, spotted the book, and asked -- in a very Jewish way:

"For that you need a handbook??"