Thursday, December 01, 2016

Rephrase this, I think ...

Despite that I enjoy more relaxed diction and phrasing in contemporary reporting, as an editor I feel someone should have given this sentence as second look:

On the reports that [Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk] are expecting their first child, which came after Shayk killed it on the runway for Victoria's Secret Wednesday night.

Yes, I know what the writer meant, but still...

Or maybe it’s just me. I have been marking student writing nonstop for the last week ...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Standard deviation

Since returning from Victoria, we haven't been attending many performances. No theatre seasons, no dance shows, no symphony, etc. So last night was a big treat (for me, anyway) to hear All(Most) Jazz, a small jazz-based ensemble, performing at the Highlands United Church.

The halves were lovely. Some "winter" songs tucked amid well-known repertoire from musicals and the Great American Songbook. The show wrapped up with "Maybe This Christmas" by Ron Sexsmith and "I'll Be Seeing You," a sweet jazz standard featuring this line: "And when the night is new / I'll be looking at the moon / But I'll be seeing you."

All in all, the performances were fun, playful, and merry. Perfect for a November night that promises (threatens?) to bring winter along one of these days soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Vault of lost lyrics, chapter 201

The last few weeks have been tough on people, and even tougher times probably await us. The Pretenders’ Learning to Crawl was the first album I wanted to play last Wednesday, November 9, and this is one of the standout tracks from that still very solid — and angry — record.


"Middle of the Road" (Chrissie Hynde) as recorded by The Pretenders

The middle of the road is trying to find me
I'm standing in the middle of life with my plans behind me
Well, I got a smile for everyone I meet
As long as you don't try dragging my bay
Or dropping the bomb on my street

Now come on baby
Get in the road
Oh come on now
In the middle of the road, yeah

In the middle of the road you see the darnedest things
Like fat guys driving 'round in jeeps through the city
Wearing big diamond rings and silk suits
Past corrugated-tin shacks full up with kids
Man, I don't mean a Hampstead nursery
When you own a big chunk of the bloody Third World
The babies just come with the scenery

Oh come on baby
Get in the road
Oh come on now
In the middle of the road, yeah

The middle of the road is no private cul-de-sac
I can't get from the cab to the curb
Without some little jerk on my back
Don't harass me
Can't you tell
I'm going home
I'm tired as hell
I'm not the cat I used to be
I got a kid
I'm thirty-three, baby

Get in the road
Come on now
In the middle of the road

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Just because

I feel I need something funny and happy today, so ... this.

Courage, friends.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

How I Spent My Friday


So, we're into the thick of the term already. Perhaps it's because I was out of the classroom for a year, but the term seems to be moving much faster than usual. (Or perhaps it is, as one of my colleagues recently observed, that my institution is creeping toward a thirteen-week term without acknowledging that it's doing so — this point feels accurate, actually.)

Anyway. On Friday, October 28, I spent the day at Pages Workshop Volume V at the Edmonton Public Library. This workshop is put on by a partnership of organizations including government, universities, and libraries. It was an excellent event, and I'm so glad I attended.

Here are some not particularly good photos of what I saw. (I should really make an effort not to sit at the back of the auditorium if I'm taking pictures.)

Morning keynote: Neal Wyatt. Neal is an academic, a writer, and a readers' advisory librarian. Her presentation was about reading and adaptation. She argued that we love stories so much that we are being swamped by adaptations and extensions of oral and written texts, to the point that many of us cannot disentangle some read texts from their adapted forms (e.g., Harry Potter). A fascinating talk!

Morning breakout session: Phyllis Steeves. Phyllis gave a powerful presentation on Indigenous literacy. She observed how easily the dominant culture may subsume the concept of Indigenous literacy — e.g., "reading the environment" — to strengthen its own sense of literacy and to diminish the specificity of Aboriginal knowing. I was so moved by this presentation and will be following up on Phyllis's research.

Afternoon panel: Beyond print. Marty Chan was the moderator for an interesting panel on oral storytelling, reading aloud, audiobooks, and videogame narratives. Are these variant forms of literacy or something else? How do these forms complement print literacy? Are we losing print literacy in favour of the aural or the visual? Some interesting questions raised.

Closing keynote: Margaret Mackey. The reason I attended this panel (and cancelled a class) was to hear Margaret speak about the concepts of post-literacy and literacy-plus. As I've said elsewhere, I am a tremendous fangirl for Margaret, and on Friday was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with her one on one. Her presentation was brilliant and challenging. Of course now I have more reading to do. What a strong conclusion to an important conversation.

In short, it was eight hours well spent. I'm grateful to the organizations that hosted and sponsored this event, and will be watching for it again in 2018.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Vault of lost lyrics, chapter 166

I rediscovered this song by accident — hadn’t heard it for years, possibly decades. It’s sugary, sugary pop — and also gloriously, smooshily romantic. What girly girl could resist?


An Everlasting Love (Andy Gibb)

I've been here all your life

Watching your crying game

You were the heaven in my lonely world

And he was your sun and your rain

I was losing you before I ever held you tight

Before you ever held me in your arms

And I won't make you blue

And maybe an everlasting love will do

I've got an everlasting love

So tall, so wide, so high

Above the rumble of thunder down below

It's your love I need

It's the only show

And it's you on an everlasting dream

Can take us anywhere

All the tears are yesterday

We killed the pain

We blew away the memories of the tears we cried

And an everlasting love will never die

Take me out of the cold

Give me what I've waited for

If it's the pleasure of taking my heart that you need

Then it only makes me love you more

I was yours before the stars were born

And you were mine

I could have saved you all the pain you knew

And I won't make you cry

And maybe an everlasting love can try

I've got an everlasting love

So tall, so wide, so high

Above the rumble of thunder down below

It's your love I need

It's the only show

And it's you on an everlasting dream

Can take us anywhere

All the tears are yesterday

We killed the pain

We blew away the memories of the tears we cried

And an everlasting love will never die ...

[repeat chorus and fade] 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Vault of lost lyrics, chapter 23

Suzanne Vega is a fascinating singer-songwriter who writes wistful songs especially well. This is one of my favourites, not only because of the lyric but because of the delivery: so bouncy, lilting, and lurching, redirecting the listener’s attention from what the speaker is actually saying.


In Liverpool (Suzanne Vega)

In Liverpool
On Sunday
No traffic on the avenue
The light is pale and thin like you
No sound down
In this part of town

Except for the boy in the belfry
He's crazy
He's throwing himself
Down from the top of the tower
Like a hunchback in heaven
He's ringing the bells in the church
For the last half an hour
He sounds like he's missing something
Or someone that he knows he can't have now
And if he isn't
I certainly am

Homesick for a clock
That told the same time
Sometimes you made no sense to me
If you lie on the ground in somebody's arms
You'll probably swallow some of their history

And the boy in the belfry
He's crazy
He's throwing himself
Down from the top of the tower
Like a hunchback in heaven
He's ringing the bells in the church
For the last half an hour
He sounds like he's missing something
Or someone that he knows he can't have now
And if he isn't
I certainly am

I'll be the girl who sings for my supper
You'll be the monk whose forehead is high
He'll be the man who's already working
Spreading a memory all through the sky
In Liverpool
On Sunday
No reason to even remember you now

Except for the boy in the belfry
He's crazy
He's throwing himself
Down from the top of the tower
Like a hunchback in heaven
He's ringing the bells in the church
For the last half an hour
He sounds like he's missing something
Or someone that he knows he can't have now
And if he isn't
I certainly am

In Liverpool
In Liverpool

Monday, September 12, 2016


Here’s a picture of the tableau awaiting us when we went to Sunday dinner last night:

Delicious cocktails were soon served, followed by a sumptuous supper of barbequed rainbow trout and, for dessert, apple crisp. Wow!

And then midday today, I received a text and went out my front door to discover this gorgeous object:

Yummy fresh raisin bread! Still warm! SO GOOD!

So, for anyone who took seriously my threat to eat cereal for 20 of my 21 weekly meals, have no fear. C is taking excellent care of me (and Zak, of course). Thank you, Ms C!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Vault of lost lyrics, chapter 195

In the late 1990s I saw Sarah Slean at the Sidetrack Cafe, opening for Oh Susanna, aka Suzie Ungerleider. When Oh Susanna took the stage, Ms Slean came back out to accompany her on the piano for this song. It was a staggering performance from both, and the song has always stopped me dead since. It is alt-country at its peak, the recording is gorgeously layered, and this track is meant to be played LOUD. Relish that deep, dooming final note.


You’ll Always Be (Oh Susanna)

Well, the first time I saw heaven
you stood in my doorway
Scent of gardenia and lily
By your voice I was led into a forest of cherry
When you lay down beside me so softly you did say

You’ll always be my baby, my baby, my baby, yeah
You’ll always be my baby, my baby, my love

Well, you sure got some funny sense of forever
'Always' did end with the summer
I awoke in a bed that’s as wide as the river
And a voice in my head that softly did say

You’ll always be my baby, my baby, my baby, yeah
Now you’ll always be my baby, my baby, my love

Well, six seasons have weathered 
since you stood in my doorway
Now you’re stinking of blood and hard liquor
And you’ve come for a favour
for your sorry sight to cover
And you still got the nerve to softly do say

You owe this to me, my baby, my baby, my baby
You owe this to me, my baby, my baby, my love

Now I don’t need no tailor to sew this suit together
Your yarn is a worn-out old tether
And you better button that collar
for you’re going out to pasture
And I’ll be counting the bounty
when softly I will say

You owe this to me, my baby, my baby, my baby yeah
You owe this to me, my baby, my baby, my love.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

House in Calder

Good morning, and welcome to the first day of classes. Anxious? Why, no, what makes you think that?

Because my thoughts are somewhat scattered, here's a picture:

My father lived in this house for some time during his teens. I know little more of the story than that, but I have the address of this house and can confirm that it is still standing. A tenuous connection, but I'll take it.

And now, back to frantic prepping. Cheers!

Sunday, September 04, 2016

What dreams may come

Lately I’ve been rummaging through “stuff” both material and psychological, and my dreams show me the evidence at night. Last night I went back to my grade six classroom, to the seat I used to sit in, with all my grade six peers around me. I was the grade six me, but also aware of being contemporary me. The dream shifted, as dreams do, but when I awoke, I thought of this newspaper clip (actually published when I was in grade seven), and so here it is.

One thing I've learned: we always miss our friends, no matter how long they've been gone. Seeing them in dreams is bittersweet, but at least they're still with us. in our memories and hearts.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Misty water-colored memories

It’s Labour Day weekend, which is akin to New Year’s Eve for me (Labour Day itself being New Year’s Day, I guess). I’m eager to get back to the classroom but am still struggling to feel grounded. My most recent counselling session raised many old, sad themes and that, alongside other events this week, has left me quite wrung out. But pictures are often a good antidote.

Here's an obviously old photo — it's been in its frame for a couple of decades. It sits on top of my piano now. 

This picture was taken in Brooks more than twenty years ago. Can't say it seems like yesterday, but it also doesn't seem like twenty-plus years.

More importantly, this photo is inspiration to do that Janus thing and look back while looking forward. Alors: here's to what's gone before and to what's coming next. May the road rise up to greet us. Cheers!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Southern exposure

Last night, B, C, and I went to Fort Edmonton to see the film South Pacific. I'd never seen it before, although it was one of my mother's favourite soundtracks when I was growing up. The film was so-so, but there was entertainment before the show started, thus:

The girls providing the accompaniment were impressive percussionists.

When we exited the Capitol Theatre (built 1918) at roughly 10:30 — such a late night for an oldster like me! — this was the scene:

No, the theatre obviously wasn't on fire. I just like the distortion of the exposure.

So that was the Thursday night that was, one rare night on the town.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The vault of lost lyrics, chapter 144

OK, so it’s difficult to imagine that anything involving Rihanna could truly be “lost,” but it is possible that these lyrics have not found most of the small audience of this blog. Anyway. This song has been a touchstone for me lately. If you know the back story, you know why.


“Hard” (Rihanna)

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah yeah ...

They can say whatever
I'ma do whatever
No pain is forever
Yup, you know this
Tougher than a lion
Ain't no need in tryin'
I live where the sky ends
Yup, you know this
Never lyin', truth teller
That Rihanna reign just won't let up
All black on, blacked-out shades
blacked out Maybach
I'ma rock this shit like fashion, as in
Goin' til they say stop
And my runway never looked so clear
But the hottest bitch in heels right here
No fear
And while you getting your cry on
I'm getting my fly on
I see you aiming at my pedestal,
I better let ya know

(chorus) That I — I — I — I'm so hard
Ah yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm so hard ...
So hard, so hard, so hard, so hard

All up on it
Know you wanna clone it
Ain't like me
That chick too phony
Ride this beat, beat, beat like a pony
Meet me at the top
Gettin' loaded
Who think they test me now
Run through your town
I shut it down
Brilliant, resilient
Fan mail from 27 million
And I want it all
It's gonna take more than that
Hope that ain't all you got
I need it all
The money, the fame, the cars, the clothes
I can't just let you run up on me like that
I see you aiming at my pedestal
So I think I gotta let ya know

(repeat chorus)

[Jeezy raps: Go hard or go home
Back to your residence
Soon the red dogs will give the block back to the presidents
I used to run my own block like Obama did
You ain't gotta believe me, go ask my momma then
You couldn't even come in my room, it smelled like a kilo
Looked like me and two of my boys playing casino
Trying to sell they peeping my bag they can't afford it
Tell 'em to give me back my swag, they tryin' to clone me
See my Louis tux, Louis flag, Louis frames, Louis belt
What that make me, Louis Mane?
I'm in an all white party wearin' all black
With my new black watch call it the heart attack
Cardiac arrest, cardiac a wrist
Yeah, they say they're hard
They ain't hard as this
Hard! The one word describes me, if I wasn't doin' this
You know where I be, too hard]

Where dem girls talkin' trash, where dem girls talkin' trash
Where they at, where they at, where they at?
Where dem bloggers at, where dem bloggers at
Where they at, where they at, where they at?
Where your lighters at, where your lighters at
Where they at, where they at, where they at?
So hard, so hard, so hard, so hard ... 

(repeat chorus)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Catching up

Oh dear. It's been a while since I've written here. But since it's Thursday, here are some photos of things from Victoria and environs — things I haven't posted from the last year or so. Throwing back and catching up ... oh, how I love multi-tasking!

1.  There's a lot to look at in Alert Bay. This was a particularly striking piece of modern art.

2. Outside a store that delights me, at Market Square, Victoria.

3.  What a crow looks like from below, as seen from inside the boat.

4.  A character door in Fan Tan Alley, Victoria.

5. My birthday dessert. SO much chocolate!

6. Turtle pond at Beacon Hill Park, Victoria. Yes, those lumps on the log are turtles!

7. One last look at Garrick's Head pub, the night before we left Victoria.

And if you're willing to sit through the slide show, B has more than two thousand additional images of our West Coast sojourn.

More soon! (More writing, I mean.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Toward my hippie-girl street cred

Just for fun, I did two quick tarot spreads with a deck I don't often use. It's a Shakespeare tarot and much more positively toned than most decks. Still, I thought these spreads were fascinating.

First spread
1. Context of the question: 5 of Pentacles: Material trouble
2. Obstacles facing the questioner: 2 of Cups: Love, support
3. The questioner's resources: 5 of Wands: Struggle, competition
4. What precedes the question: 4 of Swords: Serious contemplation
5. The best possibility: The Empress: From the struggle, strength
6. What is to come: The Hanged Man: Judiciousness, biding one's time
7. The questioner's attitude: 8 of Cups: Dejection, retreat
8. The questioner's influences: Knight of Pentacles: Readiness to serve, being of use
9. Hopes/fears: 7 of Cups: Artifice, ephemera
10. Outcome: Knight of Wands: Flight, change

In short, major changes ahead.

Second spread
1. Context of the question: The Hermit: Deceit
2. Obstacles facing the questioner: Strength: The ability to act
3. The questioner's resources: Queen of Wands: Love, possibly the love of material things
4. What precedes the question: 9 of Swords: Death, failure
5. The best possibility: Page of Pentacles: "Pay attention"
6. What is to come: 9 of Wands: Endurance
7. The questioner's attitude: 7 of Swords: Trouble
8. The questioner's influences: 2 of Swords: Balance from going along to get along
9. Hopes/fears: Knight of Wands: Flight, change
10. Outcome: The Moon: Danger, deception, darkness

In short, something bleak ahead.

So much for a light-hearted reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Thoughts about Midway

I know it's not quite midway through the year yet (and it's been a while since I've posted here), but it's midway through mine, alors...

In less than two weeks my sabbatical term comes to an end. It's been productive time. Most importantly, I've rediscovered parts of myself I've subdued for a long time. Still don't know what kind of academic I want to be, or whether I want to remain an academic at all. But I've found the joy of writing again, and that's been beneficial in many ways.

My first real book (that is, not a thesis or dissertation or something written as part of a job) will be published later this year, and another book is partly written. My first paid reviews have been published, and I've been invited to submit two more. And my first magazine article in a decade is poised to be published in July. I've enjoyed the writing and submitting while also, like any writer, being terrified of rejection. As an editor, I fear growing complacent about my own sense of what's "right," so being edited by and learning from other editors has been amazingly valuable. I'm grateful for these chances.

Living in Victoria was wonderful. Living on our boat has been wonderful, too. Actually doing something that many people dream of doing has been a gift. I've learned so much — mostly that I don't want to be a rat — and hope I can recall what I've learned once I've stepped back into the race. Again, I'm grateful this year worked, even though some costs (and I don't mean economic) were high.

Meanwhile, on the quantifiable side ...

LibraryThing: 4340 books catalogued
iTunes: approx 14,500 tracks (the counting system is imperfect)
Books read to date: 75 (quite unlikely to hit 200 this year)

In short, although it's raining this morning in Nanaimo, the sun is with us. Here's to the light!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A few of my favourite things

Last week I threw away a skirt I've owned for more than a decade. It was a reversible double skirt: the inner skirt formed the lining for the outer skirt, either way it was worn. It was a truly clever design, and I've never found anything similar since. You might recognize one or both of the patterns in the image below. (I bought two of these skirts, with different colour palettes, when I originally found them; I threw the first one away a few years ago.)

Throwing away clothing (there was no passing the skirt on to Goodwill: it was in very poor shape) got me thinking about other clothes I've loved and lost. So this week's Throwback is a short list of faves (sadly, with none of my own pictures).

• Denim duster: I bought a distressed-denim duster during my first year in university and loved it to pieces — literally. A couple of years ago I gave away the fabric, which had been taken apart as the potential, but unrealized, pattern for a replacement. It looked something like this (but longer, at least on me):

• Black balloon skirt: It was a gift for my seventeenth birthday and is still tucked in a closet, although long unwearable. It was satiny and swishy, but never quite as balloon-like after the skirt was mis-washed once. It looked a lot like this, minus the bodice and bow belt:

• Red bolero hat: I'm not normally a hat person, but I loved my bolero hat and wore it often during the last year of my undergrad — once with a Flashdance–style cutoff t-shirt and a pair of men's jeans. I also had a black bolero jacket and a red-satin basque (with black polka dots) to complement it. The hat looked something like this, except the body was brilliant red and the band and braid were black:

 • Granny boots: After slouch boots in the early '80s, I owned several pairs of granny boots and loved them all. My favourite pair had kitten heels and silver hardware; I wore them until the heels were ground down to almost nothing. Wish I still had them! They looked a little like these, minus the detailing on top and with delicate, ornamental hooks; and they were all leather, not leather and suede (although I did have another pair very similar to these):

 • Band jacket: Inspired by Sgt Pepper et al., I bought an old-fashioned, navy-and-gold marching-band jacket, complete with braid and brass buttons. Sorta retro, sorta punk. I gave it away when we moved out of St Albert. My parents once had pictures of it.

As I type I'm thinking about so many other clothes I've loved over the years. My wardrobe on the boat is limited, to say the least, and the purging will continue over the next few weeks (I chose many of my clothes assuming that they would remain in BC after we left). Looking forward to rummaging in my closet — and buying a few new things — in a few months' time.