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,


Saturday, December 26, 2020

Not really the spirit

 I call this a deranged erasure poem.



"Em em em"



mourn in lonely exile

until ——




thine own                   


            give them victory




our spirits:

disperse the gloom

            and dark shadows

shall come



Make safe

                        the path to misery










Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Forty years later


People of a certain age remember the moment they heard President Kennedy had been assassinated or where they were as they watched the moon landing. People from a younger generation remember learning that Kurt Cobain was dead or that Princess Diana's car had been involved in a fatal accident in Paris.

I remember the night John Lennon was murdered. For me, that was the day the music died.

I'm not a huge Beatles fan, and I'm aware that John Lennon had his own demons (you may recall, wincing, that one of my favourite Beatles songs is "Run for Your Life"). Obviously I never met the man. But I mark December 8 this year, and every year, to mourn someone who added to the net joy in the world. To mourn that that mission was intentionally cut short by a deranged mind. To mourn someone who in some ways inspires me every day.

Today I am grateful that the world contained a John Lennon for even the short time it did. And I commit again to my personal mission to be a force for peace and good. Even in the darkest times. Music represents my rage against the darkness.

There is always light if we turn our eyes to it. Shine on, John. Shine bright.


Sunday, December 06, 2020

Got yer nose

Hey, folks. So here we are nine months into a pandemic, and at present the numbers and the trend are not good. Particularly when I live in a city with a mask mandate (as well as periodic reminders to maintain physical distance and wash hands regularly). 

After a few events of being out in public more than usual, I must issue this following warning.

Wear your mask. That means cover both your mouth and your nose.

Because today I am putting it out there. If I see your nose poking out uglily from the top of your mask and you're doing nothing about it ...

I might flick your nose!

That's it. Back to the advent countdown.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hallowe'en roundup


It's November and also Fall Reading Break at MacEwan. I'm making slow, cautious progress on various projects.

In the meantime, this is a post to record that we had 78 kids at our door for Hallowe'en. More than most people expected, and it was delightful to see people dressed up and smiling. Here are the communopoly pumpkins:

And best of all, there's still leftover candy to munch on.

Here's to getting through November.


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Thursday, six weeks later


This pandemic takes its toll, it does.

 Meanwhile, apparently my burlesque name is Le Le la Cookie. So there is that...

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Halfway check in

Greetings! For those celebrating, Happy Canada Day!

Today my iTunes records that I have 4,460 (out of 17,552) tracks unplayed. So I guess the lockdown has been good for something.

My reading isn't quite as advanced as my listening, but I've been enjoying lots of poetry lately. Also Miss Fisher mysteries (they were novels first!).

Wishing you happiness today and always. Today is a great day for practising gratitude.

Monday, June 15, 2020

This space left intentionally blank

In shock. Moments ago I learned my graduate supervisor and friend Dr Jerry Kachur died a few hours ago. What the actual.

Another reason 2020 can shove off now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Listing slightly

Hello! Welcome to May. Much like April, but with more sunlight.

List-based challenges are popular right now, and most of them are uninteresting to me. Then someone started the “30-Day Song Challenge” on Twitter, and that felt like something I could pursue. So here goes ...
A song you like with a colour in the title: “Purple Rain” by Prince and “Bitterblue” by Cat Stevens
A song you like with a number in the title: “17 Days” by Prince
A song that reminds you of summertime: “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget: “Babe” by Styx
A song that needs to be played loud: “Girl Anachronism” by Dresden Dolls
A song that makes you want to dance: “Dance Apocalyptic” by Janelle Monae
A song to drive to: “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas
A song about drugs or alcohol: “Burn It to the Ground” by Nickelback
A song that makes you happy: “Burning Bridge” by Kate Bush
A song that makes you sad: “And So Is Love” by Kate Bush and “Hey Jupiter” by Tori Amos and “Empty Garden” by Elton John and ...
A song you never get tired of: “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen”
A song from your preteen years: “Mickey” by Toni Basil
A song you like from the 70s: “Whenever I Call You Friend” by Kenny Loggins with Stevie Nicks
A song you’d love to be played at your wedding: n/a
A song you like that’s a cover: “Hush” by Deep Purple
A song that’s a classic favourite: “Hey Jude” by the Beatles
A song you’d sing a duet with someone on karaoke: n/a
A song from the year you were born: “Hair” by the Cowsills and “These Eyes” by the Guess Who
A song that makes you think about life: “Suspended in Gaffa” by Kate Bush
A song that has many meanings to you: “Mad World” by Tears for Fears
A song you like with a person’s name in the title: “Marlene on the Wall” by Suzanne Vega
A song that moves you forward: “Never” by Heart
A song you think everybody should listen to: “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel
A song by a band you wish were still together: “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
A song you like by an artist no longer living: “I Got a Name” by Jim Croce
A song that makes you want to fall in love: “Sweet Dreams” by Air Supply
A song that breaks your heart: “Every Time I See Your Picture” by Luba
A song by an artist whose voice you love: “Blue Moon with Heartache” by Rosanne Cash
A song you remember from your childhood: “I’s the B’y”
A song that reminds you of yourself: “Music” by Cat Stevens
What you see here is one version of the challenge. In a different month, I would likely choose different songs. This version seems a little 80s heavy. I do like that many songs could fit into multiple categories.

What would your 30-Day Song Challenge include?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Not long gone

Grades are due in a week and I'm struggling to get out of bed on any given morning, so what better time to start scanning some old old old scrapbook material? Exactly.

I found the image below in a folder of pages torn out from magazines in the early 1980s — magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat and People. This particular page is from Creem — remember that? Well.

I was trying to imagine where a page like this would be published in 2020. Surely we live in a kinder, less sexist time now. (Seriously! Read those image captions.) But B says no.

Anyway. Whether we're more enlightened or not now, this is an interesting artifact. Maybe I'll post some others. What's turned out to be most amusing about this project is not the pages I saved but their versos — all the ads from the 80s, prices, products, images, styles ... So. Much. Visual. Culture. And I have the soundtrack to support it.


Thursday, April 02, 2020

No fooling

Good morning!

The sun is rising gloriously despite an air temperature of minus twenty, so the world does in fact continue to turn. We will get through this together — although it is a kind of togetherness apart.

Anyway. You might have been waiting breathlessly to know how my music library was faring at the end of the first quarter of this bizarre year. Well, the bizarreness of the year has played to my advantage: I have listened to nearly half the tracks in my iTunes library so far. At midnight on 31 March, 9,861 tracks were unplayed (of 17,465). Listening to music for twelve hours a day means we go through a lot of tracks quickly.

Of course, some of those tracks have been played repeatedly, too, and the music in my Top 25 would surprise no one who has been paying attention over the years. Though maybe the lack of bus commuting and bicycling will eventually change that, too.

Back to your daily day now. And as John Irving urges us, keep passing the open windows.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Like forty years ago

Hello again,

Still procrastinating. Here's a photo from the very late 1970s, taken in my grandmother's kitchen in St. Albert.

I honestly wonder whether photos from the 1960s and 1970s (and later, I suppose) degrade with age. Or is it simply that my parents were truly terrible photo-takers? This photo lived on my mother's bulletin board in her kitchen for years.

Photographs are taking on an increasingly important place in my life as my memories became fainter and are overwritten by memories of memories and conversations about memories. In this image I can refresh my sense of that house, that era — details that feel scarce after so much time.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Marching forward

Hello again!

Just a quick update re stats because ... well, why not? And I'm procrastinating rather than proofreading.

Thanks to the extra day in February, I listened to a few dozen more songs yesterday and can now report that I have listened to almost one-third of the tracks in my iTunes library. So far I've played through about 5,150 songs. Of those, more than 500 have been played more than once. So, once again, statistically speaking, I am on the path to listening to all of my iTunes library before December. And yet history shows it's unlikely that will happen.

Anyway. The sun is returning and the sky is blue, so let us rejoice while we may.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Theatre Unseen


Last Friday night B and I went to see The Invisible, a play presented by Catalyst Theatre. It is a dramatization of untold stories about women saboteurs in World War Two — as a musical. Here's the set (we had excellent seats!):

I enjoyed this play. Heroism in World War Two tends to be masculinized; representations of women who fought back against the Nazis are exceeding rare. The story is serious but is told with light and localized touches, which made the play feel highly topical. I would see it again and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in women, the agents of ungentlemanly warfare, or musical theatre — but it closed in Edmonton last weekend.  Still, a lovely night out!

(And if this play's not for you, perhaps consider As You Like It, which is running on the Citadel's main stage right now...)

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Knew you were waiting

So, it's February and we've been through Groundhog's Day and the Superb Owl (lol) already. Whoops.

Well, without further delay, here's the information you've been waiting for: by the end of the January, I had played more than 2,800 songs in iTunes, putting me handily on the way toward listening to all my iTunes tracks by the end of the year. And yet somehow I suspect I won't. (I also added a few dozen songs to my library in January. Eeeks!)

My most-played track in January was "Know Your Rights" by the Clash. As they say, it's never too late to have a happy childhood. 

And incidentally, the duet I reference in the title of today's post is a sweet one. Go listen to it now!


Wednesday, January 01, 2020

With Renewed Clarity: 2019 in Review

Happy New Year! I hope that your final day of 2019 was bright and that you’re looking forward to a better year starting today. I know I am.

And now, without further ado, my annual review of books and music.

The Textual World
Without question, 2019 was the worst year I’ve had in reading since I’ve been keeping track — and possibly ever. If it were not for reading children’s novels for academic purposes, I doubt I would even have cracked one hundred books. As it is, my total is dismal: 116. Here’s the breakdown:

Books by women: 78
Books by men: 35
Mixed/Unstated: 3

For the first four months of the year, most of what I read was middle-grade or YA, in support of the seminar I was teaching. No seminar this term, and the publication I’ve been reviewing for since 2013 has shuttered, so who knows what I’ll read this year.

I read limited poetry but absolutely loved Kath MacLean’s Translating Air and Emilia Danielewska’s Paper Caskets. I continued to read anything John Scalzi published, and through his endorsement read Mary-Robinette Kowal’s Calculating Stars works — immensely satisfying SFF. I stumbled on a quirky cozy mystery series by Leigh Perry: preposterous in its premise, but spot on in its details about the life of contract faculty. The most unusual book I read was Bibliophile by Jane Mount, a book about loving books, embellished by art representing book spines. If you’re a bibliophile, it’s sure to speak to you.

Sadly, my own book was not printed in 2019 but should be available in the first quarter of 2020. Fingers crossed!

The Aural World
Well. After a second year of intentionally listening to music as albums rather than as singles, I can see some changes in my listening habits. All the dance classes I’m taking are also affecting what I listen to — as are sessions on the bike. But comfort listening still dominates my list. Unsurprising, given the year that was — and, more granularly, given my ongoing experience of bus commuting. Here are my top tracks:

“Not About You” - Haiku Hands
“Dance Apocalyptic” - Janelle Monáe
“Golubka” - Vopli Vidopliassova with Amarilyo
“Sueltala” - Jorge Luis Chacin
“You’re My Best Friend” - Queen
“Whenever, Wherever” - Shakira
“Wash and Set” - Leikeli47
“Burning Bridge” - Kate Bush
“I’m So Excited” - Pointer Sisters
“Voicemail for Jill” - Amanda Palmer
“Hot-n-Fun” - N.E.R.D (feat. Nelly Furtado)
“Take a Chance on Me” - ABBA
“Brand New Lover” - Dead or Alive [single edit]
“Sarah” - Sarah Slean
“Summer Night City” - ABBA
“Long Train Runnin’” - The Doobie Brothers
“An Everlasting Love” - Andy Gibb
“Hungry Like the Wolf” - Duran Duran
“Come Alive (War of the Roses)” - Janelle Monáe
“Dreams” - Brandi Carlile
“Samson” - Regina Spektor
“Sky Full of Song” - Florence and the Machine
“Salsa Caliente” - Grupo Bip
“Sweet Dreams” - Air Supply [album edit]
“Moderation” - Florence and the Machine
“Venus Fly” - Grimes with Janelle Monáe
“I’m Your Baby Tonight” - Whitney Houston
“Tiny Thing” - Jenson Interceptor
“Let Go the Line” - Max Webster
“Con Calma” - Daddy Yankee feat. Snow

Two shoutouts here: the glorious Janelle Monáe and the incomparable Amanda Palmer. You may recall that my birthday present last year was a pair of tickets to see AFP in concert while I was in Vancouver for Congress. I went with my research assistant and friend, Rebecca; it was a staggeringly impressive concert. I discovered Janelle Monáe in a more roundabout way but quickly embraced her — I played the Dirty Computer album all the way through twenty-six times. Expect to see more from both performers on future lists.

Meanwhile, in my ongoing quest toward completeness, I managed to play about 15,000 of some 17,250 tracks in my library, including every track tagged “Holiday” (meaning the household was subjected to A LOT of Christmas music this year). Just over 1900 tracks received at least five plays.

So that’s me. What caught your ears and eyes in 2019?

Once again, I wish you a brilliant, joy-seeking new year — and new decade. And here’s to fun with math!