Welcome to the official website of best-selling author Linda Kupecek.

OH, THE TRIALS OF KIJIJI

I love Kijiji. I have been clearing and decluttering my basement through Kijiji. I have met some truly wonderful people through Kijiji (Nick and Candace, are you listening?) and I have been tremendously heartened by the kindness and generosity of so many people (many of them younger than I am) who have graced my doorstep through Kijiji, and become tentative, or firm, friends.
The downside of Kijiji is that you also meet the truly awful people (e.g. the con man who works for the health services department who showed up with two toddlers, who he must have rented for the occasion, and proceeded to try to steal a number of items from my basement) and then, the simply clueless.

This last description applies to my experience today. A young woman emailed and asked to see jewellery, evening bags, compacts, clothing and much more. I obliged, hauling up stuff from the basement, to arrange in the hallway for her perusal. She was to come at 6 pm. At 6:30, she emailed that she was delayed in traffic. Fair enough. By 7:30, I had to feed my starving loved ones, and put dinner on the table. OF COURSE, the doorbell rang after the first bite.

The young woman had brought with her a boyfriend who looked as if he maybe knocked off 7-11s for a living, but then, a toque makes anybody look suspect, even if you are Canadian. She spewed germs indiscriminately into my foyer, despite my screams of “Don’t Breathe On Me! I AM A CAREGIVER!” And …… after all that ….. she foraged in her purse, saying she hadn’t had time to go to a bank machine, and pulled out a five dollar bill and few coins, and bought an eight dollar purse and a two dollar compact. Which totally justifies, right, her asking me to haul out three boxes of stuff for her to look at.

Hey, I want to buy stuff for a dollar, too. But, I like to think that I don’t ask people to display for my pleasure a huge pile of goods, when I know perfectly well that I have TWO CENTS to spend. I have been there. I know what it is to shop on the cheap. But please, young lady, don’t come back to my house!

I have met some great people through Kijiji. We chomp our way through Chinese food, we send loving emails, we exchange great links on collectibles. It is a great life when you can connect with kindred spirits.

This is what I must remember. OM. OM.

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CORNED BEEF, CABBAGE AND THE ARTIST

Today, I bought an unusual item (for me): corned beef. And a more mundane item, half a cabbage.
Anybody who has ever dined at my place knows one great truth. I am a great hostess, and a lousy cook. I particularly can’t cook anything that has ever walked on four legs i.e. red meat. I can at least communicate with a chicken and get it to cooperate and contribute to the evening. In my book, The Rebel Cook, I offer excruciating examples of my culinary disasters.

So why on earth would I, the greatest kitchen klutz of all time,especially with red meat, buy corned beef?

Because, reading the ubiquitous recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, which usually involve corned beef and cabbage, I was transported back to my youth, when I was a young artist attending what was then the Banff School of Fine Arts (and which is now the Banff Centre). Musicians, dancers, painters, actors ….. we were teenagers or young adults, and a combination of our age and the mountain air and the rigorous schedule of classes, made us hungry all the time! Relentlessly hungry!

We ate in a communal hall where huge platters of the daily offerings from the kitchen were passed from one end of the table to another. This was the first time I had ever tasted corned beef and cabbage. I can remember it now, forty years later. The incredibly tender corned beef, and the salt and pepper cabbage. We cleaned every platter. This was one of the favourite dishes in my circle of young artists (unlike the soggy chocolate pudding which one wag dubbed Beethoven’s Last Movement ……)

So, for some crazy reason, I am hoping to replicate or at least, remember, the gorgeous platters offered up by the kitchen of the Banff School of Fine Arts, not so much for the Irish, as for the artists of my youth.

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THE ACTOR’S LIFE

Many years ago, I was a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, in addition to being a member of ACTRA in Canada. One of the advantages of being a SAG member was the wonderful magazine which I received. I have never forgotten a profound article written by a female performer who was also a psychologist, in which she spoke of how actors must remember that in many ways, ours is a noble profession, and, as such, we should honour it, and not dismiss ourselves.

I was reminded of this when I watched the SAG Awards last night. I was so happy to see so many fine actors honoured. I especially loved Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech, in which he spoke of actors around the world showing up on set, delivering lines, doing their best, working for the good of a project, no matter what.

I mused on how this is so true. For many people in what would be considered the regular work force, a day off for the flu or a cold or a hangover is not a big deal. In the world of the actor, this is not an option, unless you are at death’s door. A theatre jammed with paying customers? You show up and try to reach the upper balconies no matter how horrific and tomblike your voice may sound. (This is why most actors, including MOI, have gone through major voice training.) A film set, with a crew of dozens, maybe a hundred, expensive equipment, and a tight schedule? You don’t put your hand to your forehead and fade away. You show up, no matter how much your maladies resemble the plague. (Huge stars excepted, of course.) Actors show up, say their lines, and go home and collapse afterward. Most of the time, they are quite wonderful in the role.

So last night, I was a little disappointed that in SAG Awards. Not for the awards themselves, but for the riffs from the actors, some of whom seemed somewhat apologetic about their chosen profession (“I get to be a kid” or “I have big boobs” and other self-deprecating one liners that got laughs. )

I didn’t laugh. I thought the SAG Awards were intended to honour actors and the acting profession. Where was the honour here?

I no longer work as a performer, but I still honour the life of the performer. I hope the producers and organizers, next year, try to infuse the evening with more respect and less apology for being an actor.

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THE MYSTERIES OF KALE

I may be a writer of mysteries, but I am also aware of mysteries in my everyday life. For example, last night, a friend came to dinner and raved about my kale.
This is a mystery to me. As the author of The Rebel Cook: Entertaining Advice for the Clueless(TouchWood Editions, 2006) I have established myself as a klutz in the kitchen. A klutz with a lot of laughs and charm, but no way a real chef.
So to have somebody actually ask for a recipe from me was a major event, worthy of a small parade, or at the very least, a glass or two of chardonnay.

So here, is my recipe for kale, shoplifted from other, real cooks, who know what they are doing.

THE REBEL COOK KALE:
Wash the kale well, and tear off all the little curly parts. Throw the stems away.
In a large skillet (I use non-stick) melt butter (or margarine) and olive oil until it is foamy. Add as much garlic as you can stand. And kosher salt. (A little goes a long way with kale.)
Don’t let the garlic burn (I always do and have to start over, oh bother, as Pooh would say) and then add the kale.
Stir it around so that it knows that somebody is watching. Cover it, and let it do its thing for a few minutes. Then check again, just so that it knows it can’t get away with anything.
After about one minute, it will turn a brilliant dark emerald green. In another few minutes, it will turn dark, dark green and start to become crisp. This is when you should turn off the heat, cover it, and pray with all your might that it is time to serve dinner.

People who hate kale love this recipe. Go figure. I always think I am lucky to get it onto a dinner plate, and I always, always have doubts that it is edible. But so far, the votes are pro-kale and pro-Rebel Cook. I am sure it is a hallucination on my part.

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THE GRIM WIFE

One of my favourite tv shows is The Good Wife. I love it for the smart writing, the interesting characters and the great acting. But, oh my goodness, has it ever taken a dive (in my humble opinion) in the opening episodes of this season. The writers (the glorious Kings, for whom I have great admiration) had established terrific characters and relationships in earlier seasons, especially Alicia and Peter, and Alicia and Kalinda, and Kalinda and Cary.
Will any of us ever forget Sexy Boots Kalinda (as she is known to her fans) played with great panache by Archie Punjabi, stomping into a Home Depot type store to buy a sledgehammer (which she uses rather effectively in following episodes)?
Kalinda has been set up as a strong, mysterious person with a troubled past. I think most Good Wife fans were expecting a terrific payoff when we finally discovered who was stalking her, and what her fears were. Oh dear. Oh yucch. The story devolved into something worse than expected.
As one of my fellow screenwriters said, “I just don’t believe it. I am not so much offended by the crassness, as by the fact that I don’t believe these people in this relationship.”
But, hey, I am not going to give up on The Good Wife. Like a lemming, I am going to continue to watch every Sunday, because I am Always Hopeful. Hopeful that there will be a big payoff for the Kalinda storyline and that Kalinda will rise again, and not sink into the morass of cliche. Hopeful that Archie Panjabi’s career will survive this. Wondering what sort of conversations have gone on between actors and writers (not that actors have much sway in this, as a former actor, I know this oh so well…)
I just want good taste and good writing to triumph. Let us put these episodes behind us and never speak of them again.
Linda

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BUTTON BACK

I have a new phrase to offer to chiropractors, massage therapists, and physicians: BUTTON BACK.
It is excruciating. It limits movement. All that pain, and it is caused by a person, a button collector like MOI, spending way too long bent over a big tray of buttons, sorting and ooh and aahing and thinking and trying to decide which to keep and which to move onto another home.

After a few hours of this, lost in the meditative world of the button collector, one feels so relaxed. And so doubled over with excruciating back pain. As I write this, I am bent over like Quasimodo, only with none of the rewards of being a famed literary character. I am just me, an author with a modest bestseller and several other well regarded books to me name, lurching around the house and the computer with Button Back.

Maybe I could launch a line of Button Back health products: Button Balm, Button Back Beautiful, and so on. It would be a big hit with the button crowd. Of course, the only place I could sell this stuff would be at the National Button Society Show in the U.S. every August. I figure I have almost a year to figure this out.

On the other hand, maybe I should just do some yoga, and think of buttons.

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BUNNIES AND SQUIRRELS

For as long as I can remember, we have had squirrels in our back yard. Our neighbourhood has many beautiful old trees, and there is a community of squirrels that happily play along our street, summer or winter. They have lots of personality, which is putting it in a very kind way. I suppose I could be less kind and say they are noisy and have a tendency to jump from tree to roof. This sounds very cute, unless you are sound asleep and suddenly, what must have been a really overweight squirrel lands heavily on the roof about your head. YOW.

Now we have more homesteaders. For the past few months, a rather large rabbit has been hanging out in our backyard. The first time I saw him (or her) I opened the garage door, saw this large thing on the lawn, and screamed. (I am a nervous sort of person when I encounter large, strange living things on my lawn.) The rabbit got frightened, too, and ran away. I was disappointed it wasn’t wearing a little blue velvet jacket.

Now, there are two rabbits. I think they hang out in the wildflowers at one end of our garden. They don’t seem to be doing any harm. They basically just sit on the lawn and look like a Duhrer print.

I don’t know which I prefer. The rabbits are quiet but sort of boring. The squirrels have loads of personality and are very energetic, and even though they work out by leaping from tree to tree to housetop, I think they should take dance lessons instead. Less intrusive. Plus, the squirrels have very bad table manners and leave half eaten crabapples all over the sidewalk, which is messy and inconsiderate.

I hear somebody spotted a cougar in their backyard the other day, so I guess I should be grateful we have only bunnies and squirrels to deal with.

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Labour Day

A long weekend is always welcome, even to a self-employed freelancer. I usually work nonstop during a long weekend, because the phone isn’t ringing with distractions. I have always done my best and most intense writing on holidays. (I blush to admit that sometimes I have forgotten that not everybody feels the same way, and have made absentminded phone calls on Sunday evenings, trying to clear up some obscure bit of information. I really, really hope that everybody I have done this do has forgiven me by now. I suppose it is like people calling me to confirm a dental appointment at 7 a.m., after I have worked until 4 a.m. and fallen into bed in the hopes of sleeping til 11 a.m. Ah, we all follow our own path. Mine is just a bit more irregular than those of others.)
Labour Day is special in other ways, a reminder of how unions have created better and safer workplaces in every industry, including mine in the cultural industries. I also love hearing my elders’ stories of the Labour Day celebrations in the Drumheller Valley in the 1930s, when every Labour Day was an occasion for free ice cream, games, races and laughter.

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WHY WE SHOULD WRITE OUR OWN OBITS

I am addicted to The Good Wife. So I was dismayed to read of the recent death of Tony Scott (one of the producers) , in what was apparently a suicide leap. What dismayed, upset, enraged me even more was an incredibly stupid and meanspirited article which began by belittling his talent and substance as a director, then went on to glorify his famous brother, Ridley Scott. What sort of death notice is that? Sure, I suppose that in the big picture, various aspects of the career should be noted, but for pete’s sake, the man just died! Don’t belittle him before the body is in the grave, the ashes are in the urn, whatever. I wondered if the meanspirited (or just plain stupid) journalist had an axe to grind with T. Scott, maybe some history.
I came to two conclusions. First, that we should all prepare our own obits, just in case our nearest and dearest go MIA, and some distant acquaintance is the one to sum up our life’s achievements. And secondly, mmmmmmm, that I have a vivid imprint of Tony Scott’s name on the credits of tv shows and films, but ….. is this significant? ….. have no idea of the name of the meanspirited writer who chose to belittle him in death.

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The howl of The Party – Steve Franken

I recently read that Steve Franken passed away. I took a few moments to thank him, silently, for the howls of laughter he generated as the drunken waiter in the Peter Sellers film, The Party. Every time I watch the dinner scene, as he staggers around the table with what looks like a Cornish game hen on his platter, I scream with laughter. When he pours the wine through a guest’s long ponytail, I am helpless, making so much noise that the neighbours are probably concerned there is mayhem happening in our house. What a gift he left the world through this performance alone.
I am going to put that DVD in my player this evening, and do my form of homage to the late Steve Franken, with extremely loud, lively, weeping laughter.

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