Monday, April 01, 2024


Well. So that was the first three months of the year. Wheeeeeee! Time sure flies.

The last three months have been up and down — delightful lunches with friends, but also the loss of friends. Some amazing celebratory days, but also days filled with sad news. Here's hoping the next three months will be somewhat duller and more mundane

But anon. Here's the data for which you're surely waiting breathlessly:

• Library total: 28,500 (approx)

• Played to date: 6,580 (approx)

• Tracks with at least 5 plays: 15

So. Belated Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and look out for happy April fools today.

Monday, January 01, 2024

2023: It's over

Hello! It's 2024 — how did that happen? Seems like just a few days ago I was posting about all the hits of 2022. Well ... something something something time moving faster ... something something something getting older ... you get the idea ... 

And so, without further ado ...

Music in 2023

  • Florence + the Machine: "Mermaids"
  • Sonic Youth: “Superstar”
  • The Dobbie Brothers: “Long Train Runnin’”
  • The Cure: “Lovecats”
  • LP: “One Last Time”
  • Tears for Fears: “Mad World”
  • Queen: “You’re My Best Friend”
  • OMD: “If You Leave”
  • Michael Murphy: “Wildfire”
  • Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’”
  • LP: “Someday”
  • ABBA: “Summer Night City”
  • Peter Gabriel: “Solsbury Hill”
  • Kate Bush: “Burning Bridge”
  • Billy Ocean: “Loverboy”
  • Amanda Marshall: “Dark Horse”
  • Simon & Garfunkel: “The Boxer”
  • Cat Stevens: “Music”
  • Steppenwolf: “Magic Carpet Ride”
  • The Lovin’ Spoonful: “Summer in the City”
  • Supertramp: “The Logical Song”
  • Prince: “17 Days”
  • John Parr: “St. Elmo’s Fire”
  • Simple Minds: “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”
  • ABBA: “Take a Chance on Me”

Unless your 2023 was very, very different from mine, you'll likely understand why there are so many old familiar tracks on this list. I continue to commute to work primarily by bus and use music for dopamine management. Is that strategy working? Well ... 

Here are a few runners-up ... 

  • The Beaches: “Turn Me Loose”
  • The Dream Academy: “Life in a Northern Town”
  • Loverboy: “Queen of the Broken Hearts”
  • Luba: “Every Time I See Your Picture”
  • Heart: “Magic Man”
  • Max Richter: “Summer 3”
  • Regina Spektor: “Loveology”
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees: “This Wheel’s on Fire”

And I should note two honorary mentions:

  • “My Shot” by The Roots Feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz and Nate Ruess from The Hamilton Mixtape — which, had I found it earlier in the year, would likely have made my Top 25; and 
  • “Summer Renaissance” by Beyoncé from Renaissance — which was just so clever and fun, although I played mainly away from the house.

There are now almost 27,700 items in my Music library (27,689, although that number may include some non-song files). Of these, 5,616 remained unplayed at the end of the day on December 31, 2023, roughly 20 percent.

For the record, this may be the last year I can provide a data-based breakdown of my listening habits. Today or tomorrow we are migrating my music storage to a new system. Fingers crossed!

Books in 2023

Here's the number you're all here for. My reading tally for 2023 was 120 books, not counting picture books or short Orca nonfiction.

  • • 74 books by women
  • • 37 books by men
  • • 9 books by multiple authors or by nonbinary authors
  • • 27 works of nonfiction (i.e., not fiction, poetry, or drama)

I read several books by each of Ben Aaronovitch (magic-based mysteries), Nghi Vo (Asian fantasy), and Iona Whishaw (historical mysteries set near Nelson, BC). Some of my standout reading experiences this year include Babel by R.F. Kuang, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (the Netflix adaptation, less so), and In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté. Hoping for more from several of these authors in 2024.

I edited four books published in 2023: two contemporary novels, one historical novel, and one volume of poetry. I'm currently working on two more projects that will be published in 2024, and another that will be published (fingers crossed) in 2025.

My brain is very very tired, so that's all I can think of right now. I'll probably add more updates tomorrow or later in the week.

Here's to a kinder, gentler year ahead — at last!

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

For my erstwhile commonplace book

Since I barely have the concentration to read lately, much of what I do read is fairly accessible — mysteries, bestselling fiction, middle-grade and YA, etc.

I'm not surprised to find the following passage in a middle-grade novel; just surprised by its acute relevance more than a decade after its original publication.

"They were afraid of the riots and the turmoil, the messiness of democracy. ... Democracy, my young friend, will always be at the mercy of those who say things run much easier and smoother without it! Just let us do our jobs, they say, without all this turmoil."

— Carol Matas, Behind Enemy Lines, page 67


A fine idea to remember in these increasingly authoritarian days.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Play, play, play

 G'day, and welcome to December! It's not exactly a brown month anymore, thanks to some snowfall last week, but we now inhabit a land of icy peril. Drive with care.

Last night, we went out, driving with care, of course, to a play. Last week we had seen MacEwan University's Legally Blonde: The Musical, which was frothy and fun. Yesterday we saw Indecent at Studio Theatre. Wow, what a play.

The set design was excellent. The acting was excellent, The script was excellent and powerful — moving, thought-provoking, timely (although the play is set in the early twentieth century). It was hands down the best play I've seen in years.

Last night was the closing night of its run, and if you missed it that's a shame. Bravo to Studio Theatre for this fine piece of work.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Meanwhile, there's the accounting to do


So, it's November. In the last two months I have travelled to Kentucky and Regina, and in a couple of days I'll be in Vancouver. That's my reason for not writing for ... months ... y'know.


We counted 291 people at our door on Hallowe'en. And there was tequila. Here's a picture (of the door, not the tequila):



Next thing on the order papers is solstice. Wondering whether I can get myself organized for that, at least.



Tuesday, August 01, 2023

omg it's August


I had such plans for this summer. And now it's almost over!


In case you're wondering, as of today, I have exactly 26,600 tracks in my iTunes audio library. Of these, about 11,430 are currently unplayed. So there's that.

As I recently remarked on Twitter: Today I think all those eccentric professors in popular culture must have got that way after a turn or two at university administration.  This week I feel this acutely.

And that is all.

Wishing you peace and ease ...


Saturday, April 08, 2023

The more fool I

Last week was April 1, and I owed you, or at least myself, some stats. But I didn't make time to post them, although I wrote them down on a piece of paper. So here, belatedly, are my stale stats.

As of midnight on Friday, March 31, there are approximately 26,400 tracks in my iTunes. Of those, approximately 17,100 were unplayed — or, if you prefer, roughly 9,300 had been played at least once. Only 5 tracks had had more than 10 plays, and the most played album at that point was Dance Fever by Florence and the Machine.

Hey, and in case you're interested, a book I edited last year was officially published on April 1. Two books I edited last fall and during winter 2023 will be published this fall, and one I just finished editing will be published as an ebook in the next month or so. I am currently editing two other books, both of which will be published in 2024.

Words, words, words. And music.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Knew you were waiting

 Howdy howdy!

Welcome to February! January certainly sped by — unless you're one of those people who felt January crawled by. Your mileage may vary, I guess. Either way, here we are in the second month of the year, and what do we have to show for it?

I have stats!

From January 1 to 31, iTunes played at least 3,710 tracks, roughly 16 percent of the library. 

And I read 11 books.

So. Onward!

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Let's look back at it all, shall we

Hello, 2023! Welcome. So glad you're here. Let's get to the stats, stat.



Top 30 Plays in 2022

  • LP, “One Last Time”
  • Shakira, “Whenever, Wherever”
  • ABBA, “Chiquitita”
  • Kate Bush, “Burning Bridge”
  • Prince and the Revolution, “I Wonder U”
  • Tears for Fears, “Mad World”
  • Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams”
  • Pitbull feat. Anthony Watts & DJWS, “I Feel Good”
  • Lil Jon, “Work”
  • Holy Boy, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”
  • Tina Turner, “The Best”
  • Dee Gees, “Shadow Dancing”
  • Florence and the Machine, “Free”
  • Hadise, “Dum Tek Tek”
  • Prince, “1000 X’s & O’s”
  • ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”
  • Andy Gibb, “An Everlasting Love”
  • The Doobie Brothers, “Long Train Runnin’”
  • OMD, “If You Leave”
  • Jennifer Lopez, “Papi”
  • Florence and the Machine, “Dog Days Are Over”
  • George Michael and Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting”
  • Jorge Luis Chacin, “Sueltala (J. Verner Total Dance RWK)”
  • Cat Stevens, “Peace Train”
  • Max Richter, “Summer 3 (2012)”
  • Billie Eilish, “everything i wanted”
  • Janelle Monáe, “Dance Apocalyptic”
  • Jim Croce, “I Got a Name”
  • Rosanne Cash, “Blue Moon with Heartache”
  • Simon & Garfunkel, “The Boxer”


Plus one: Regina Spektor, “Loveology,” which didn’t actually make the cut but almost certainly would have done if I’d bought the album when it first came out.


Once again this year, I listened overall to complete albums more than to random tracks. My most-played album was Florence and the Machine's Dance Fever, which is brilliant! It's the next thing I'll play today. Other top plays include LP's Churches and Prince's HITnRUN Phase One, which is currently my go-to album for difficult days. At present I'm listening extensively to Regina Spektor's new one, Home, before and after, and various albums by Max Richter. Looking to fill some gaps in my collection with gift certificates I received in the last couple of weeks, too!


According to last year's post, one year ago today I had approximately 22,450 tracks in my iTunes library. Today that figure is approximately 26,200. So, a substantial change — and I was able to listen to most of those tracks (roughly 83%) despite many problems with iTunes. 


What were you listening to this year? If there's something great that I missed, let me know!



Reading in 2022

Well, unsurprisingly, like many people, I found that my attention did not bounce back in 2022 — particularly after the nasty surprise of shifting back to online teaching in Winter 2022 — so my reading stats look somewhat dismal. I'm genuinely surprised that I finished 100 books. Most of what I read was genre and gentle, but there were a few standouts:

  • Ryka Aoki, Light from Uncommon Stars
  • Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Club and sequels
  • T.L. Huchu, The Library of the Dead


My year-end total was 115 books. Of these, 83 were by female-identified authors, 27 were by male-identified authors (bizarrely, a substantial chunk of them in December), and 5 were by nonbinary authors or multiple authors. I plan to continue to read the work of Ben Aaronovitch, Iona Wishaw, and Guy Gavriel Kay in the new year — and will hope for another volume in the Thursday Murder Club series.


What tickled your fancy this year? Let me know!



In other textual news...

For us, the pandemic was not over in 2022, so we did very little of what we might have done in the Before Time. We did see one play at the beginning of December, and went to one small live-music event at the end of November; we also went to a book launch in Victoria in May, and I attended a few others early in the fall. We saw no movies in theatres but did watch a few on streaming services, including Knives Out and Glass Onion.  We continue to consume mostly comedy — it's about all my brain is prepared for these days.


So once again, here's to the new year. Not to pressure anyone or anything, but I'm hoping it's better than the last few...



Saturday, December 31, 2022

Two images of 2022

 This is all I'm prepared to say until tomorrow:

1. Afternoon of September 3


2. Morning of December 22

Make of this what you will.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Hallowed figures

 Welcome to November! We had beautiful Hallowe'en weather — and fittingly, as we turned the lights out at ten o'clock, snow began to sift down.

But in more important news, we had 283 trick-or-treaters at the door. Wow!

Here are our pumpkins!

That's all for now, folks.

Monday, July 25, 2022

A year in a life







Saturday, January 01, 2022

Happy to see the backend of last year


Happy new year! Welcome to 2022. As writer Steven Brust observed, hoping this year will be better than 2021 is a low bar to clear — and it’s also all too plausible that 2022 won’t make it over. But that’s all in the future. Today, while the year is shiny and fresh, I’ll be hopeful.


You’re presumably here for the revelation of my 2021 textual consumption. Well, the news isn’t great — but you were expecting that, weren’t you?



I listened to comforting music like the world was ending this year — because at times it felt like the world was ending. So no surprises in this list.


2021 Top 31 lol

Kate Bush, “Burning Bridge”

Shakira, “Whenever, Wherever”

ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”

Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams”

Janelle Monae, “Dance Apocalyptic”

Janelle Monae, “Turntables”

ABBA, “Chiquitita”

Holy Boy, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”

Billie Eilish, “everything i wanted”

ABBA, “Summer Night City”

Tears for Fears, “Mad World”

Andy Gibb, “An Everlasting Love”

Janelle Monae, “Coma Alive (War of the Roses)”

Rise Against, “Savior”

LP, “One Last Time”

Olivia Newton-John / Electric Light Orchestra, “Xanadu”

LP, “Someday”

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”

Jorge Luis Chacin, “Sueltala”

Prince & the Revolution, “I Wonder U”

ABBA, “Fernando”

Haiku Hands, “Not About You”

The Doobie Brothers, “Long Train Runnin’”

Meg Myers “Running Up That Hill”

Sheena Easton, “You Could Have Been with Me

Deep Purple, “Hush”

George Michael and Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”

Max Webster, “Let Go the Line”

Queen, “Killer Queen”

Teena Marie, “Lovergirl”

Knife Party, “Destroy Them with Lazers”


While I was intentionally listening to familiar music much of the time, I was also too familiar with some of the library and therefore actively seeking new sounds. I added A LOT of music to my library this year. I owned approximately 18,200 tracks on January 1, 2021. That figure is approximately 22,450 today, and only 420 of them were unplayed by December 31. More than 900 songs in my library were played at least 10 times, including 17 full albums, and 134 were played at least 20 times. My top 31 tracks were all played at least 30 times.


In summer 2021, the Prince estate released a new album, which I’m still getting to know. And in addition to the LONG-awaited new ABBA album, the fall also provided a new Brandi Carlile album and a new LP album. These were my big purchases; otherwise, most of my acquisitions were dance/EDM or backfilling holes in artist catalogues. 


And with that, it’s time to reset the playcounts once again and hope that I can continue to track playcounts in 2022. Apparently the iTunes software isn’t keen on users being able to track their listening (although Apple is certainly keeping track).


Here’s to aural pleasure! What caught your ears in 2021?



This was another dismal year for reading, as my concentration continues to be poor. Still, I managed to read 126 books and am grateful to have hit even that. Here are some stats:


• 96 books by women

• 25 books by men

• 5 books co-authored or co-edited

• 17 books of poetry (plus some verse novels)

• 23 nonfiction titles

• 3 graphica titles (plus several comics I didn’t count)

• 1 novel that I edited


Here are the most noteworthy titles I read:


The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer (MG fiction, illustrated)

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer (MG fiction)

No Modernism Without Lesbians by Diana Souhami (nonfiction)

South Away by Meaghan Marie Hackinen (nonfiction)

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue (fiction)

Knot of Shadows by Lois McMaster Bujold (novella)

Tell the Birds Your Body Is Not a Gun by Rayanne Haines (poetry)


Oh, hey, also I wrote an open-access grammar textbook, which will be uploaded into a OER repository later in 2022.


So, yeah. What books did you adore in 2021? 


Once again, cheers! Here’s to 2022. Please be better than 2021.


(And wow, the Blogger WYSIWYG interface sucks now, doesn't it? Jeez.)


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Six-month perspective


With time being so strange now, it seems like summer was years ago. But for the sake of perspective, I would like to remind us that this was the day we were having on June 28, 2021:

 And this is day we're having today, December 28, 2021:



In case you've forgotten, June 28 was not as hot as June got, and today's low is not as cold as forecast. So. Let the arguing commence.

Back again soon.



Monday, November 01, 2021

The aftermath


Last night's Hallowe'en was tremendous fun. And more importantly, we had 209 kids at the door! I believe that is a record, but my record-keeping has been spotty, indeed.

The mild weather definitely helped. Here's how the evening looked from the sidewalk out front:

  And now, onward to solstice. Cheers!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Friday, July 02, 2021

On reflection

 Hello, and welcome to the second half of the year. 

Yesterday was July 1, and for us it was a quiet day. For sundry reasons, we stayed close to home and did not partake in the celebrations. Better all around to leave space for others, I felt — although we did go to a local park and watch kids run around, and that was fun and restorative. But indicators suggest that the weeks ahead may not be at all calm. I do hope that metaphorically (and literally) cooler heads prevail.

Meanwhile, stats! As of June 30 at midnight, about 3,300 tracks in my iTunes library were unplayed, out of roughly 19,100. That's a feat I have never accomplished before.

Also, since it's the things you count that count, last weekend I downloaded a cycling app that tracks my trips' distance, duration, elevation change, and more. Stats galore! Now I just need weather cool enough to use my bike again.

Wishing you peace!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Happy to see you again

 Hello all,

After a very difficult week, I had the chance to go for a long bike ride this morning and took this photo of the QE2 planetarium:


My first visit to the planetarium was on my birthday in 1974. It was a kindergarten field trip. I remember only flashes of the day now, but the planetarium seemed a magical place when I was five. 

The City of Edmonton has undertaken extensive renovations to the site and people should be able to visit again — after decades of the building being closed to the public, as far as I know — once the pandemic ends. I will plan to visit, for auld lang syne if no other reason.

I suppose, while I'm at it, I should post this picture from a couple of weeks ago:


Another Edmonton landmark at another of my favourite places (Borden Park), although this artwork was installed only recently. This was my first chance to see it in person.

Grateful for my bike and warmer mornings!

Saturday, May 01, 2021


My paper is not finished. Hoping that other academics are also a little "delayed" by the challenge that is the ongoing pandemic and thus are generous in their interpretation of "today" as the deadline.

In other news, as of April 30, I had played approximately 13,300 of some 18,600 tracks in my iTunes library, leaving roughly 5,300 songs still to be heard.

More soon, I hope.

In solidarity!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Is What Follows Mostly True?


Three years ago today, B and I went to the Timms Centre at the University of Alberta to hear Michael Crummey present the CLC Kreisel Lecture. Here's a photo:


B took this. My photos of the event all looked like badly lit blobs.

I just finished reading the book that was made from this lecture, Most of What Follows Is True (published in 2019), and it was just as insightful as I remember the lecture being. 


But now I have many questions about the enterprise of writing historical fiction. Hmmmmm.

Still not Covid-y,


Saturday, April 03, 2021

Quarter time


Earlier this week we arrived at the end of the first quarter of the year. Time, now so meaningless, seems to be at once accelerated and elongated. Strange days indeed.

Still, some things are normal-ish, including my somewhat obsessive record keeping. And so I am here to report that by the end of March I had played through about 10,700 songs out of about 18,300. Remember too that about 1,300 of the unplayed songs are holiday music for the other end of the calendar. So once again I will acknowledge that at least the pandemic is good for something: encouraging me to listen broadly to my collected resource of digital music.

Not much else to report. March came in like a lamb, left like a blizzard — not exactly a lion, though — and has turned into a dry and windy April. Hoping for rain soon. 

I wish peace and good will to all, no matter what you're celebrating this week — or even if you're not celebrating at all. Cheers.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Antonia Sophia


Argh. Some humans are very very bad at peopling. In a holding pattern right now. In the meantime, here are some images. The first was taken in Riverdale, Edmonton; the second was taken somewhere in Edmonton; the third was taken at 7711 in 1970.


Sunday, March 14, 2021

Seeing the pandemic from LIW's eyes

 Good day,

My title is obviously fanciful: Laura Ingalls Wilder did not write about a pandemic. But because I am re-reading various books in the Little House series in support of my teaching, I happened upon this passage:

After the October Blizzard last fall, they had all moved to town and for a little while Laura had gone to school there. Then the storms had stopped school, and all through that long winter the blizzards had howled between the houses, shutting them off from each other so that day after day and night after night not a voice could be heard and not a light could be seen through the whirling snow.

All winter long, they had been crowded in the little kitchen, cold and hungry and working hard in the dark and the cold to twist enough hay to keep the fire going and to grind wheat in the coffee mill for the day's bread.

All that long, long winter, the only hope had been that sometime winter must end, sometime blizzards must stop, the sun would shine warm again and they could all get away from the town and go back to the homestead claim.

Not a perfect analogy, obviously, but it resonated yesterday. Edmonton enjoyed a beautiful spring day: sunshine, melting snow, people out walking and greeting each other ... For a few hours I felt hopeful.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Obligatory anniversary post

Since posts like this are everywhere this week, here's mine. 

One year today, everything changed utterly. March 12, 2020 is the last day I was in a classroom with students face to face. The next day — Friday, March 13 — I was supposed to have a three-hour afternoon class with editing students. A third of them indicated before noon that they would not be attending class because of the mysterious virus they were afraid to contract, so I shifted the class to a series of online posts, notes, and readings. And thus it would be for the remainder of academic year 2019/20 and thus it remains for academic year 2020/21.

The pandemic has destroyed my brain. I experience all the things people talk about: brain fog, lost memories from the early months of the pandemic (March–May), unrelenting depression. On an average day I have about 80 minutes of good brain time; but my average work day is still ten hours long. So a lot of what I do is either extremely slow and inefficient or of dubious quality. Not ideal for someone who does intellectual labour.

We still don't know what the fall will look like — how can we? The situation is so changeable. Right now I am slated to go back to working on campus by the end of August and may be teaching in person the week after Thanksgiving. But lots could happen between now and then, for good or for bad. The larger context of Alberta post-secondary institutions is grim, and many students cannot afford to continue their studies next year. 

Until then, trudge trudge / whee whee.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Poor resolution


Hey there,

So much for that resolution to write more. In my defence — not that anyone's asking — I've been writing in other areas of my life QUITE A LOT. So.

It's the first day of March. One sixth of the year is over. And I have listened at least once to approximately 44 percent of the music currently in my iTunes library.

So that's something, right?

À bientôt,



Saturday, January 16, 2021

But who's counting

 Hello again.

So much for resolutions, eh?

I did, however, want to record — for myself, if no one else — my music stats for this odd, odd year. 

At the end of the day on January 15, iTunes had played through 2,396 songs, which equals 6 days, 12 hours, 33 minutes, and 42 seconds (6:12:33:42). As of this morning, songs played more than 14 days ago are falling off the "Recently Played" list as usual. So.

Taken another way, iTunes has been playing close to twelve hours of music a day for the first two weeks of this year. 

And, for what it's worth, here's a little more breakdown: 2 songs have had 4 plays each; 15 songs have had 3 plays each; and 87 songs have had 2 plays each. 

So, there's some insight for you. I'll be back with more music stats in a couple of weeks. Until then, keep your eye on beauty.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

In review: 2020 in pictures

 Hello again! One of my many resolutions is to blog more regularly. Let's see how quickly this one goes sideways.

Until then, here are some photos from my phone. Tra la!

1. Just before the boom was lowered: This is from late February 2020, early morning at Allard Hall. We were hosting a Greater Edmonton Teachers' Convention event. I drank too much Monster Ultra.

2. Emily doesn't understand why the humans don't leave: Spring sometime. Time is basically meaningless at this point.

3. This is how we go to concerts now: But what a glorious concert it was! The first of several at-home with Sarah Slean events.

4. Beauty is all around if you look for it: And sometimes people bring beauty to you! Thanks, C and C's momma.

5. Roll to the end of the world: Or at least the edge of northeastern YEG. I did a lot of cycling in Summer 2020 — but now I regret every day that I didn't go out.

6. Sure is hot here: Edmonton is notoriously not a hot place, so I like to record the days — such as this one, August 18, 2020 — when the temperature cracks 30C.

7. Suddenly last summer: From the last week of August until Christmas Eve, school was relentlessly busy, but I did carve out time (see what I did there) for Hallowe'en. We even had a traditional tequila shot — on the porch, appropriately distanced.

8. Courtesy of Nik: Why, yes, I do wear a skirt when I ride my bicycle. Sometimes. This was a gorgeous Saturday at the end of September. We had coffee and went for a long walk.

After October there are few photos in my phone. Maybe there will be more events worth photographing in 2021. One can only hope.


Friday, January 01, 2021

Back at ya, 2020

Well, so that was that. Even after more than nine months of working from home and living this muted life, every so often I am still caught off guard by the strangeness of how we live now. I miss actual people SO much. 


So let’s see how a global pandemic affected my consumption of cultural products, shall we.



The year in music

Not commuting to work really changed my listening habits. By year’s end I had listened to dozens of albums more than five times through — some more than ten times through. My top-played songs were played much less frequently than in past years, but nearly 2,000 of the tracks in iTunes had been played at least 10 times, and for the first time ever, I ended the year with fewer than 1,000 songs unplayed: only about 600 unplayed, in fact, of some 18,200 tracks in total. (That tally includes all the tracks tagged “Holiday” — more than 1,300 —which exacted quite a toll from the household at large.) 


I added almost 1,000 songs to my library this year. Much of that total came from re-ripping CDs I own that had been only partially ripped; the balance came from new purchases and free downloads. 


Top 25 plays

Jorge Luis Chacin, “Sueltala (J. Verner Total Dance RWK)”

Kate Bush, “Burning Bridge”

The Clash, “Know Your Rights”

Janelle Monáe, “Dance Apocalyptic”

Janelle Monáe, “Turntables”

The Dresden Dolls, “Girl Anachronism”

ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me”

Sonic Youth, “Superstar”

Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams”

Rise Against, “Savior”

Sheena Easton, “You Could Have Been with Me”

Prince, “17 Days”

Vopli Vidopliassova with Amarilyo, “Golubka”

Meg Myers, “Running Up That Hill”

Janelle Monáe, “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”

Haiku Hands, “Not About You”

The Killers, “The Man”

Knife Party, “Destroy Them with Lazers”

The Mowglis, “San Francisco”

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”

Billie Eilish, “everything i wanted”

ABBA, “Summer Night City”

REO Speedwagon, “Keep on Loving You”

Queen, “Killer Queen”

Siouxsie and the Banshees, “This Wheel’s on Fire”


This year’s list certainly demonstrates some comfort listening, but also some attention to newer artists and genres. Many of the songs that had at least 20 plays this year reflected intentional listening for one of my research/writing projects and so perhaps will not be repeated. I guess we’ll see!



The year in books

One might think a pandemic would be an ideal time to catch up on one’s reading. Turns out, no. Not only were my days unbelievably long from mid March through Victoria Day; when my workload finally lessened, I found my brain broken and often incapable of sustaining more than fragmentary attention. Not an ideal trait in a scholar or an editor. 


Still, by the end of the year I had read 151 books. As in previous years, a good proportion of these books were middle-grade or young-adult titles, as I continue to teach and research in this genre.


Of the books I read in 2020,


• 109 were written by women

• 33 were written by men

• 9 were edited collections or written by multiple authors.


And I’ve adopted a new reading strategy, recommended by my pal Garry. Unless there is something urgent (and come on, what is actually urgent these days?), I try to spend about half an hour reading before I get out of bed in the morning. This decision has definitely made my days better AND increased my overall reading — so probably a habit to keep.



Oh, and television...

In other kinds of textual consumption, we didn’t get into binging on Netflix anymore than usual. We did bit by bit watch Schitt’s Creek, which, in the end, I adored, as well as The Great Canadian Baking Show, which I liked but didn’t love. We have started watching Letterkenny, Taskmaster, and QI, as well as picking through various panel shows and YouTube channels. Haven’t seen a movie in a theatre since December 2019, of course.




Well, that’s it for now. How did you fare last year? 


And happy new year! Here’s to something brighter and safer in 2021.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

More mangling


On the verge of the new year, here's another deranged erasure poem. Enjoy!




"What? Who?"


What child

                                                            is sleeping?

            Angels?                                   Sweet.

            ) her                 at                     peek (

This                 is                     the

                        guard               and

Ha ha,