Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Entrevue en Français à Radio Canada et BC Book Week!

Ever since my interview on CBC Radio last Tuesday with Danielle Marcotte, I’ve caught myself thinking in French from time to time. It’s wonderful. The French language is a sensual language, with full-bodied vowels and sharp consonants that slide off the tongue like a French kiss. Speaking French is like making love. It’s intense, lyrical, interactively fun and ultimately satisfying.

Alors, merci, Danielle! Merci!

So, what was I doing on CBC Radio, you might ask? I’d been invited by Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine to join editors Karl and Stephanie Johanson and fantasy author Janine Cross in a series of readings, mine from my short story, Virtually Yours (selected for “The Best of Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine”) as part of the Main Street Literary Tour (one of the events of BC Book and Magazine Week 2009). My interview with CBC focused on this event. It was a blast!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Laugh Your Way to Health & Success

The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease—Voltaire

Laughing makes you stronger, friendlier and sexier, says psychologist Steve Ayan in an article in the April/May 2009 issue of Scientific American Mind, entitled, “Laughing Matters.” LOL! Who would have thought, huh? Ayan contends that “seeing the bright side of life may strengthen the psyche, ease pain and tighten social bonds.” Cheerfulness, he tells us, is linked to emotional resilience—the ability to keep a level head in difficult circumstances.
Oh, and it’s also very sexy.

It seems that we’re hardwired for humor; but in different ways, depending on whether we’re extroverts or introverts. Allan L. Reiss and a team of researchers at Standford University School of Medicine demonstrated in 2005 that extroverts reacted to jokes primarily through the prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex and introverts through the amygdala and the temporal lobe—pleasurable emotions originating from different parts of the brain in these two groups.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Home is Where the Heart Is

You are environment; and environment is you—Nina Munteanu

In a recent Scientific American Mind article, entitled "Building Around the Mind" Emily Anthes recounts the story of how prizewinning biologist Jonas Salk came up with the polio vaccine in the 1950s. According to Anthes, Salk’s progress was slow in his dark basement laboratory in Pittsburg, so he decided to travel to Assisi, Italy, to clear his head. Amid his ambles within the cloistered courtyards and elegant columns of a 13th Century monastery, Salk was struck with fresh insights, including the one that led to his successful polio vaccine. Salk was convinced that he’d drawn his inspiration from the contemplative setting.

With the belief that a building’s architecture strongly influenced the mind, Salk teamed up with architect Louis Kahn to build the spacious Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. The institute functioned as a scientific facility devoted to stimulating breakthroughs and encouraging creativity through architectural design.

“Half a century after Salk’s inspiring excursion, behavioral scientists are giving these hunches an empirical basis,” writes Anthes. “They are unearthing tantalizing clues about how to design spaces that promote creativity, keep students focused and alert, and lead to relaxation and social intimacy.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It’s my birthday today … and I’ve decided to express the REAL me…

A friend of mine recently gave me a rather rude birthday card that described an Aries (the ram) person a little too well. Giving me the card suggested that I was possibly some or ALL of these things…

The card listed these traits: restless, reckless, impatient, temperamental, opinionated, BOSSY, lustful, impulsive, headstrong, blunt, brash, jealous, self-centered, impetuous, irresponsible, quick-tempered, self-indulgent, confident, competitive, argumentative, self-absorbed, volatile…

Well, she REALLY DOESN’T KNOW ME AT ALL! (big pout…stomps foot)

For instance, where does it say in there about my incridibl inteligenz?

Or that I’m a gifted guitar player and can sing "Bobby Magee" with a raunchy voice?

Or that I can speak three languages well and four languages terribly?

Or how I can even get the mailman to laugh?

Or that I’m destined for greatness and will likely become famous on the planet Vega 11209 for my incredible LOLquotes?

Or my mystical ability to motivate co-workers to do my work?

Or my consummate multi-tasking abilities (I can stand on my head and chew gum at the same time)?

Or how I can coax a Plymouth Acclaim to career on two wheels?

Or about my totally rad fashion sense and brilliant bling?

...Okay…maybe she knows me a little… (silly grin)…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Hitting a Moving Target—What is Normal?

“We have an epidemic of attention deficit disorder—or at least, we have an epidemic of diagnoses of that condition. And the culprit most often named? The use of computers,” wrote Hugo and Nebula Award winning author Robert J. Sawyer in the March 20 (2009) issue of the Ottawa Citizen entitled, All Screens Are Not Equal. “But is there really something wrong with huge numbers of young people today?” he goes on to pose. “Has computer use rotted their brains?”

“Or is it—perhaps—that there’s something wrong with how we’re defining normal?” taunts Sawyer.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Facepalming with Jean-Luc Picard...

I freaked myself out, after watching the bleak and thoughtful apocalyptic "Knowing" (by Alex Proyas, director of "I, Robot") the other day--I think it was April 1st too, so that didn't help (I'll post a review of it eventually)--then I experienced a spate of interesting anomalies, including a self-inflicted one, like locking myself out of my office. I think karma was kicking in as I engaged in some very weird conversations with friends and family. Then my friends started to look at me strangely (well, they do that anyway, but they were doing it more). Several of them were doing the "FACEPALM" thing after I'd say something...

What? You don't know about facepalming? You obviously haven't been reading the Urban Dictionary or met Jean-Luc Picard... He is the consumate facepalmer.

Well, let me edify you on this very serious subject. According to Moondog in the Urban Dictionary,

To facepalm is: "the act of dropping one's face/forehead into one's hand. Usually accompanied by a thunk or a cry of "d'oh!"

Seungsation defines facepalm as "the only logical answer to a stupid question or statement." And gives this example:

Guy 1: " Dude, how to I get my Siege Tank into Siege-Mode?"

Guy 2: *facepalm*

The Wiktionary give this definition for facepalm:

to facepalm (third-person singular simple present facepalms, present participle facepalming, simple past and past participle facepalmed):

1) to bring the palm of one’s hand to one’s face as an expression of mixed humor and disbelief or disgust or shame, for example, when one is caught off-guard with a particularly bad pun.
2) To bring one’s face down to one’s cupped hand or hands.

If that doesn't give you a good idea of context check out these keywords that The Urban Dictionary uses for facepalm: headesk, idiot, stupid, plam, retard, lol, lmao, epic fail. Well, that pretty much sums it up for me.

Oh, one last thing. I think facepalming is a sign of intelligence. After all, Jean-Luc does it all the time. And cats are apparently good at it too.

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Are All Canadians Fringe Dwellers?

When I agreed to participate in a study of Romanian writers by the University of Bucharest, I didn’t expect that it would lead to meeting another Canadian writer. That is how fate works…and serendipity. I was talking about seeing life through a different lens in an earlier post, written while still sleep deprived: viewing the world turned upside down or careering on its side. WOOEE!

Then PhD student, Marilena Dracea, at the University of Bucharest who was studying my written works introduced me to a fellow Canadian writer. That in itself is a wondrous thing—that someone half across the world would introduce me to someone in my own country. His name is Shane Joseph. Joseph has written several books. One is entitled Fringe Dwellers. It’s a collection of short stories about the marginalized people in society, those who for some reason or another have suffered some kind of prejudice or treatment as lesser individuals: widows, divorcees, immigrants, unemployed executives, the aged, the young, the poor, those with a perceived mental or physical “infirmity”. He writes about people who once may have led a normal life until a twist in the road—an epiphany, decision, stroke of fate—sent them into the fringes of society.