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Friday, August 31, 2007
The Emperor is Without Clothes. So yesterday, while browsing Mimi Smartypants, I followed a link to "The Reader's Manifesto," by B.R. Myers, and proceeded to read the whole thing. Hmmm, three of my most admired authors are systematically dissected and found to be riddled with artifice. Time was when this sort of manifesto would have me questioning my admiration for the authors, wondering whether I was simply a fashion victim, not really a mature reader at all. But now, you know, fuck it. Do I claim that Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo and Annie Proulx are the most readable writers of the time? No. Sometimes I find myself doing a quick head-joggle and re-read when I'm in the middle of one of their books. Sometimes more than once: it took me two tries to get to the conclusion of "Underworld," but I have never regretted it. That was one of the only victoriously peaceful, transforming moments of my reading life. Heck, I like reading that makes me think, that even makes me appreciate different ways of using my language.If B.R. Myers had gone on to trash Mark Helprin, then all of my current favourites would be shown to be word-blown frontages with little actual merit.
The obvious analogy is music. B.R. Myers likes musicians who play the notes on the page. Others, and I am one, like riffs and improvisations on well-known themes. So to you, B.R. Myers, I say, "Shut it." Your manifesto is really only an opinion piece. You think Hemingway and Faulkner are cleaner writers. Good for you! You wouldn't happen to be English, would you, with that nation's curious habit of denigrating the currently successful?
And to quote a comedian whose name I can never remember, but who had a down-homey, western twangy kind of act, "Son, if we all liked the same things, then everbody'd be after your grandma."
Thursday, August 30, 2007
League Wrap-up: The lawn bowling season ended last night, and the Myrmidons were well pleased to end with a double win. Even more pleased that we won the second game by default, as our opponents jammed out like the snivelling wretches they are. We were somewhat surprised to find that we ended the season in fifth place, which is our usual spot, but since we'd been down a member for more than half the season (Craig and family invaded the UK for most of July), we thought we'd rank lower. The second ranked team, the Diapered Astronauts, put on an unconvincing psych-out attempt when they came up to tell us that we'd be facing them in the playoffs, punch-in-arm, jolly-good-old sport, cannot-wait-til-then, etc. Yeah, yeah. Blow it out your beef drapes. [Oh! Jane.]
Dog-ownership: the Mysteries Continue. How is it, I ask, that the dog who was stricken with gut troubles in the middle of the night (joy of joys), seems to have eaten a pound of rice? Rice hasn't been on the menu. I didn't notice the dog jamming down any rice-centric garbage on our daily walks. Whence the rice, yegods? Whence? (And WHY always in the middle of the freaking night?)
Monday, August 27, 2007
Before I get killed by friends and family who've invited me to join their Facebook friend lists, let me just say that the problem is with ME, not Facebook. Me. The person who has yet to figure out her cellphone, although frankly it is overdesigned and I resent having to memorize an icon formula just to get into my Inbox. More things to resent! Thank you, Progress.
I think I may be too old and cranky for...
  • Facebook. I know it has many, many features and the potential for even more, but all Bag-Brain here sees is a program that adds another step to getting e-mail messages.
  • Movie trailers. They all seem to have been edited for the channel-surfing generation. I am tired of frame-frame-frame-colour splash-etc., seizure-provoking clips.
  • You kids with your rock 'n' roll. Listening to the stereophonic samplings of the kiddies in my work vicinity, my observation on Today's Music is that it sounds like you're listening to more than one thing at a time. Like the radio and TV together. Meanwhile the phone rings and a dog starts barking and your foot itches.

Danyon, you Wonder, you. Danyon has found possibly the greatest Wonder of the Totalitarian World: North Korea's Ryugyong Hotel. Beautiful.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-hun-der... From Esquire magazine, which I love, the Seven Wonders of the Totalitarian World. What, nothing from Cuba? Not even this?
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The urge to say the one perfect thing is of course an impossible urge when you're talking with a friend who has lost a child. Yet the impulse to find something comforting, something healing, to say, keeps pulsing on and on. At dinner last night with Michele and Andrew, on what we realized was two months after their son, Noah, was killed in a freak accident. Here's what I know: I will never know what it's like to lose a child. So forget about finding the right things to say. We talked quite a bit about people's reaction to death, with me remembering some of the amazingly inappropriate things people said to me after my mother died [one schoolmate said, "God, are you STILL talking about it?" approximately three months later]. Michele gave examples of goodhearted people saying some profoundly stupid things to her and Andrew. That's death for you. Our monkey brains get fuddled by it so easily.
While talking with Michele, I remembered something I probably haven't thought about for 27 years. That it was not so hard to go from day to day, but that certain moments would knock me reeling. I hope I didn't commit any stupidities last night, but I'd rather commit them than avoid speaking to my friends. Because that was the hardest thing of all, I remember, the avoidance.
Monday, August 20, 2007
We move wood, we pick up stones. An afternoon of uncomplicated chores was the perfect Zen response to the recent angst. Out to Jean's farm I went on Saturday, and picked rocks, forked hay, and moved fence posts. Oh, and knitted for an hour or so when I first arrived, since Jean and Tyke were out. We all know they forgot about me coming, of course, but such things don't matter so much among old friends. I released the hounds, patted the horses, and then knitted until the dogs couldn't stand it anymore. She's just sitting there! On the deck! Let's go see what's wrong! Let's go again! Later on I went into town to get the barbecue tank filled, and buy some flesh to grill. These days it's almost certainly going to be ribs, and though I didn't have enough time to prepare the long, luscious recipe, I still managed to get the ribs fairly eatable, thank you President's Choice Habanero Sauce.
Another two ends of the movie spectrum: Friday night I met Vin and Schmuke for a movie that had my every skeptical synapse firing: Stardust. "It's going to be a fantasy/sci-fi thing, isn't it?" I grouched quietly as I waited for V & S to arrive. Surprise: Stardust was the most fun I've had at a movie theatre in close to 20 years. A rollicking good story, great blend of subtle and farcical humour, and surprisingly right-on casting. Ten minutes in I already knew I was going to have to own it, and that's as high praise as a movie gets these days from this old bird.
Saturday night, after a nice meaty barbecue dinner, I watched most of "Apocalypto" at Jean's place. So meaty was its violence that I had to look away from the screen quite often. I don't think I'll end up owning this picture, although I do think I'll rent it to watch the ending--it was getting late on Saturday and I'd kept Jean and Tyke up past their beddy-byes already. I think "Mel Gibson" will be my new term for shockingly bloody movie violence--but I did get intrigued by the story, and do want to know what happens. Also I must say that the way the movie was shot was quite impressive--not just the cinematography, but everything--extras wrangling and so forth. Quite a spectacle.
Sunday, muddy Sunday: Next time, CHEENYUS, read the dang label on your dang allergy medicine. I ended up taking a double dose of the old antihistamines because I cannot read for sense (or for dosage) and was quite out of it for about 8 hours. The dogs were thrashed from their day on the farm, so I'm sure we made quite a lovely pastoral scene in the condo: The Sleepers, with TV on.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Learning by example. A good idea. She never visited her younger sister in the small town up north for the first five years the sister and family lived there. When the sister and family moved to a city, she brought her family to visit them for one half day (an afternoon). When the sister and family returned to the same small northern town, she at last did visit them, five years later, when her sister was dying. The intervening years, it should be noted, were full of visits between the sisters, but it was always the younger sister coming to see the elder. The guilt now felt by the elder sister is constant.
There were always such good reasons why the elder sister couldn't visit the younger during the many years of small town life--too busy, kids' schedules, husband on call--but no good reasons when it was too late.
I have noticed, when I am riding my bicycle, that if I concentrate on a perceived obstacle in my path--a narrow rut, an overhanging bush, a garden border--I invariably do something that causes me to lose my balance or bump around like a bee in a bottle. If I look past the obstacle to the path beyond, and leave the negotiating to my body, we sail on smoothly.
I have been concentrating on obstacles, looking down at my feet, for far too long, and have made little life progress as a result. Time to lift the eyes.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Not the Only Dog Around: Well, looky here: another Not My Dog, dressed up as a bar in downtown Toronto. I wonder if the South African band of the same name is still going strong? I was pleased to see that the Toronto venue serves delectable curry. Of course it does. All Not My Dogs make great curry.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Oh, hello. For the last week or so I have been trying to acclimatize to various things: 40 degrees Celsius. Customer service that is actually service. Rude old people in a movie theatre. Hilariously disrespectful children.
The upshot: I'm not such a complete waste of a human being as I had previously thought. Thanks, Schmes.
That time again: some time, somehow, I must acquire a newer vehicle, unless I get all tree-huggy and Zenny and decide to bike everywhere, or astral project or something. The ever-practical Jean has sent me some very interesting news about Hondas and such. Must have good gas use and room for often damp and affectionate dogs. Big ticket buys invariably bring out the ditherer in me, which is such a waste of time on such a silly planet. As always, we will keep this blog informed.
Friday, August 03, 2007
The Crazy I Love. Welcome to Tuxedo Travels, where two men travel overland from Hong Kong to London between April 1 and mid-August, 2007. Wearing tuxedos the whole time. Doing random acts of charity when they can. They admit they won't be saving the world, but they figure, hey, they can at least give some kids a good dinner here and there. Or buy a village some garden fertilizer. I sent some cash to Heath and Doug just for the goddamned hell of it, and also because I smiled non-stop throughout their site. (I should confess to finding the link to the Tuxedo boys on another favourite blog, Broadsheet.)
I've Got Dogs in my Condo and I Don't Know What to Do With Them, so I think I shall take them to Jean's farm. Perhaps I should, you know, phone Jean first.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Things We Rarely See: A large man, wearing a long nightgown, bolting out of a liquor store and trying to hijack a truck stopped at a red light on 14th Street. I am three vehicles behind the unfortunate truck. Just then, police officers arrive on the scene, whereupon the nightied man tries to flee across two lanes of oncoming traffic. He doesn't get more than a lunge or two before he is slammed to the pavement and sat upon. In keeping with his unlikely attire, his hair is electrified bushy, and he is barefoot. I'm not sure his fashion faux pas was the reason the police apprehended him, but I can understand why the liquor store personnel hit the OH MY GOD button when he walked in.
Where the River bends, There the Bodies Go. Just so happens that I live close to a part of the Bow River that is downstream from the weir--the weir that tends to drown a few people every year through accident or alcohol-related ignorance of huge warning signs. This part of the river is somewhat serpentine--there are two prominent bends within a kilometre of each other. So this is where a few bodies (and parts thereof) have been found. I take the rotten dogs to the river fairly frequently, but lately I've been checking the water's edge before chucking sticks for Rivvy and Pipes. So far Riv (who is motivated to retrieve, unlike the wretched Piper) has not managed to bring back an arm or foot. And the only thing I've retrieved is a stuffed Homer Simpson doll. I'm okay with this, by the way.