Monday, November 30, 2009

As I have really nothing for you...

You have to check this out.

Warty Mammal has this great post up. In it you'll find a link about bad (bad bad bad) toys to give a kid.

It's a riot, endlessly amusing. Go!

Go NOW!!

And while you're at it it check out the rest of her blog. She's never fails to amuse.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Soapbox Time

I've been pretty much incommunicado in the last week or so because of work. I'm swamped, I'm drowning and the last thing I want to do is type some more at the end of the day. Today however, Mr. Jazz sent me the link to an article that made my blood boil.

Steve  Proulx of the free weekly newspaper Voir posted this article on the paper's website on Monday. Here is my translation/summary, as most of you don't read French I think...

Everyone Is Reading It

I'd like to pick up on this post from the Librairie Monet blog called The Economy of Consensus (Sorry folks, it's also in French - Jazz)

The author (a bookseller) and I share the same malaise: the general curiosity about books can be measured in millimetres.

The blogger writes: :
"This summer, on vacation at the beach, I looked at what people were reading. It was predictable: Millennium, Fascination (the French title of one of the Twilight books - J) and Harry Potter. I feel like I have a plastic bag over my head. Are we condemned to all read the same thing? What happens to diversity?"
At the Salon (du Livre - the yearly book fair where all the publishing houses gather to tout their wares - J), I saw the same phenomenon.

The public has thousands of titles to choose from on just about any subject. Volumes from yesterday or today, inexpensive and expensive. Everything is there, the choice is theirs.

Everyone reads pretty much the same things (he then goes on to quote a couple of Quebec novels and authors) And of course those damned sexy vampires. Twilight = Sick. To. Death. Of. It. (For the record, me too! - J)

This infatuation for a particular book is hiding something, I'm not sure quite what. Perhaps a certain insecurity about books in general? Rather than risk being surprised (or disappointment), because we aren't all bulimic readers, we'd rather go with the popular vote.

Everyone is reading it, so it must be good.

Because of this, though, I'm sure a lot of readers miss the opportunity to read a book they'll really like.

A book written for them.

Well, that was an interesting little exercise. I haven't translated in forever.


What really annoys the living hell out of me here is the whole elitist "if you're reading bestsellers you're reading crap" bullshit.

I'm one of those bulimic readers. I'll give pretty much anything a try - from bestsellers to obscure Eastern European writers. I LOVE reading and can't imagine leaving the house without a book in my bag. I freaking get nervous if I do that - even to go to the corner store.


I don't expect everyone to be the same. The point is, these people are READING! Which is better than a huge whack of the overall population. So what if they're reading bestsellers because they're bestsellers. True, there is some bestseller dreck out there, but there's also some good stuff. Does it really matter that they're reading a particular novel because everyone else is?

Besides, for those of us who like obscure Eastern European authors, those bestsellers bring in enough money for editors to actually publish them. They're not going to generate millions, but the millions generated by the latest Dan Brown or Grisham mean that all 300 of us can read Mr. Obscure. I don't like Grisham or Brown much, but more power to them if they get people to read - and enable me to read what I like. Hell, I love Stephen King, the emperor of bestsellers ('cause saying King, the king of... is just too repetitive), so who the hell am I to judge.

All things considered, all of society works the same way, doesn't it? People wear the same clothes, eat at the same restaurants, take the same vacations, buy the same Uggs (now there are some ugly ass boots, but hell, if you like them why should it annoy me?)

Standardization is part of our society and has always been. For all the Brontës (and XUP, I LOVED Wuthering Heights), how many obscure (now lost) brilliant writers were there in the 19th century? I'd venture to think quite as many as today, all proportions being kept.

I can't help but smile at the whole "Read! Read! Read! (but don't read bestsellers 'cause they're not Literature)" issue.

Cultural snobbery drives me insane.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The "Written" Post

Ticknart did it here. And I thought it was really quite cool, so I'm doing it now.  I hope the rest of you will join in. Oh, and in case you have problems reading it, the "translation" is below the images...

It might seem somewhat incoherent, but keep in mind that it was written at the ungodly hour of 6:30 on a Saturday morning - that in itself is a total obscenity. I have no business being conscious at 6:30 on a Saturday - and re-reading this, I realize that I wasn't completely conscious anyway. Which is good, I suppose, it precluded me from writing "neatly"...

So this is it - my handwriting. I told Ticknart I was going to do this and I did get around to it [Kudos to me!!]  - now I have to get around to Geetwits' 5 words - and I'll do that too, I swear. Actually I think this is a wonderful idea. I love writing. I have no problem with what my writing looks like - contrary to a lot of people who seem to think theirs is really ugly - I can't help but wonder what they expect... Actually I love that there are no longer any penmanship classes, when everyone's handwriting looked the same. I love seeing the uniqueness of other people's writing. Even when it's illegible - I work with engineers.

I love the feeling of a pen scratching across paper. And the sound of it too - when it's quiet enoug - like on a Saturday morning at 6:30 ferchrissake when I can't for the life of me get back to sleep!!!!

Maybe that's one of the reasons I've been keeping a journal for 36 years now. The act of writing - as opposed to typing, which I do entirely to much of, is very calming...

I used to write 3-4 letters a week - now I blog. It might reach more people, but it doesn't quite have the same feeling to it, does it. I think I'd be hard pressed to find anyone to write back tome these days - life gets in the way I guess. I'm not sure I could sustain the rhythm myself.

So there you go. Please "write" a post, I'd love to see your handwriting - I promise I can in no way see into your soul through it - I have no notion of graphology (is that the word?) whatsoever.

I just think it'd be really really cool.

C'mon, jump in!!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Thought of the day

Some people are like slinkies. Not much use for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Vant to Suck Your Blood

Have we ever talked about vampires you and I? I think not.

 The original - Vlad Tepes

I have to tell you, I am sick to death of the creatures. Really I am.

I remember reading Dracula the first time - it's one of those books I've read often. I was 12 or 13 I think, and Stoker captured my imagination and ignited in me a passion for vampires. I searched out all the information I could get on them and on Vlad Tepes, the original Dracula on whom the story was based (and this was way before the ease of the internet, when searching for information involved libraries an encyclopedias. Oh my!). We all know about him and his nasty habit of impaling people who annoyed him and watching them die while having dinner (and if you don't you can read up on him here or any number of places on the net - cause libraries and encyclopedias are so old fashioned).

Stoker's Dracula was a blood sucking inhuman monster. As vampires should be. Because once they become vampires, they lose all humanity, they have no soul, they're cold evil monsters. Gotta love a good monster.

And along came Anne Rice. Oh, Anne, Anne, Anne. You ruined vampires forever.

Actually, I quite liked Interview With The Vampire, it was new and different - told from the vampire's perspective. Lestat was a kick ass vampire - although Tom Cruise as Lestat was probably the worst possible casting when they did the movie... Seriously, Tom Cruise???  A vampire? That's beyond ridiculous... but I digress.

The subsequent books kept on with the whole "vampire as poor tortured soul" thing and that's just so far off base as to be ridiculous, cause a vampire? No soul, no feelings - end of story. OK, granted it really plays into the teenage girl and romantic hero thing, but nope. It just doesn't work.

And now 20-odd years after Anne Rice you have the Twilight thing and that TV show whatever it's called and tortured vampires in love with humans and it just drives me batty. Because vampires are supposed to be monsters. M-O-N-S-T-E-R-S. You know, like those things that hid under the bed and in the closet when you were a kid. In adult version.

Why must everything today be benign? Why can't we deal with horror and things that go bump in the night? We can't be safe, we'll never be safe, 'cause if a vampire doesn't get you, life eventually will. Why have vampires gone from fascinating supernatural beings to lovable tortured romantic beings.

Seriously, look at this:

"When you can live forever, what do you live for"

It's just wrong. Teenage girls notwithstanding.  
Excuse me while I hurl...

Monday, November 09, 2009

20 Years Ago Today


The Wall fell. With no bombs or violence, though the crash was heard around the world.

Günter Schabowski
of the East German ministry of Information announced at the end of a press conference devoted to something else altogether that people would now be allowed to cross without hassle into West Germany.

"When? ", asked the journalists

"Immediately " ("sofort, unverzüglich"), he replied

No one really believed it, apparently, until a few hardy souls went to a border crossing and tried.

And the wall fell - if only metaphorically. It fell physically the next day.

It was a heady time. Everything seemed possible. There was hope. Everything was going change. 

It didn't obviously; the wall may have fallen but human nature being what it is, pretty much everything else stayed the same or worsened.

My moments of naivete and idealism are few and far between. I should have known better.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Friday Funny (On Saturday)

A wealthy old gentleman decided to go on a hunting safari in Africa , taking his faithful, elderly dog Killer along for the company.

One day the old dog starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having him for lunch.

The old dog thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep shit now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the old dog exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder, if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young leopard halts his attack in mid-strike. A look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!", says the leopard, "That was close! That old dog nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figured he could put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes. The old dog, however, sawhim heading after the leopard with great speed, and figured that something must be up.

The monkey soon caught up with the leopard, spilled the beans and struck a deal for himself with the leopard.

The young leopard, furious at being made a fool of said, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!

Now, the old dog noticed the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thouht, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sat down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hadn't seen them yet; when they were within earshot, the old dog said...

"Where's that damn monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!

Moral of this story...


Don't mess with the old dogs... age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery! "B.S." and brilliance only come with age and experience.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sometimes It's Hard

A couple of posts back I was whining (as I am wont to do) about the cold after coming back to Montreal from the warm sunny California desert. I'm very much the broken record (for those of  you who remember that particular prehistoric product) in that regard. Always and forever.

In the comments, XUP asked why, if the cold was that bad for me, I didn't go live in the heat?"

And I had to stop and wonder. Why not indeed? As she pointed out, jobs can be found.

Unfortunately it's not that simple. Jobs can indeed be found, but getting a green card to work legally in the US is not so easy. Being someone's illegal alien maid or waitress? Not so much.

And, despite my whining about the weather, I do love Montreal. Unlike lots of cities, and most US cities I've been to, there's always something going on. There's animation, there's life, it's a great place to live. Now if only we could transport the whole city to the middle of the desert...

And then there's that other thing. That thing that means there is no way you can leave. That one thing that makes it impossible... Aging parents. That particular issue was brought home to us with a bang this week when Mr. Jazz's elderly aunt who lives downstairs began having serious issues. My own mother, who lives in another city has health issues (thankfully, my sister lives near her) and Mr. Jazz's own mom is getting on in years.

Moving to the desert sun is simply not an option. Because what do you do? Leave them on their own? No. We couldn't.

I find it very bizarre to be in this position. How can it be that all of a sudden we're caretakers for the people who have always been our rocks? These people who have always been there for us, who have always been so strong? We find ourselves watching those rocks crumble and it's very disconcerting, to say the least.

Finding help, finding a place for her where she'll be safe, knowing all the while she'll be angry that we're doing this, that she'll most likely consider we're ganging up on her, it's heartbreaking. And knowing we have no choice because she has become a danger to herself... it's heartbreaking. It's all heartbreak.

And I can't help but wonder what we'll do when our turn comes. Will we have the gumption - as my mom did - to move to a place of our choice before things become serious? I hope so. Especially as we have no kids to take care of us (not that that's any guarantee, or that I'd ask that of my kids anyway).

My mortality has been brutally shoved into my face. And I don't like it one bit.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Awards keep falling on my head...


Awards abound, they just don't stop coming, oh my!

Before I left  on vacation, Gaelyn at Geogypsy  awarded me the Best Blog Award. Isn't that sweet of her... I don't particularly feel like the best these days as I'm hardly blogging - life has been overwhelming me a bit lately, but nevertheless, here are the rules.

The Best Blog Award rules are:

1) To accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his/her blog link.

2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you have recently discovered and think are great!

Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Honestly though, I just don't have the gumption to link to 15 bloggers. Besides, if it's the best blog, how can every person who gets it have 15 best blogs on their lists. Doesn't best imply just one blog? And mathematically, doesn't it mean that eventually everyone who has a blog will end up receiving the award? Blogland is a very democratic place apparently...

So, ya know what? All those who read this, take it, please... I'd single out Suldog but I recently gave him one and he'd probably come to Montreal and string me up by the toes himself if I did it again...


And then I returned from vacation, and Ian had an award waiting for me, and such nice things to say. I'm blushing...

I's got me one lovely blog it would seem. And another award.

The rules for this one are to pass it on to three others. Admittedly, it's a much more manageable number, and no doubt will take itself around blogdom at a much more leisurely pace.  But again, I feel lazy so take it, all of you. I give myself enough credit that I think if y'all didn't have lovely or bestest blogs I wouldn't be reading you*.

So here's to all of you! Your mission now is to keep me entertained...

To quote Suldog: Soon, with more better stuff.

* See Sully? You escaped two of them!!! When I go to Boston you'll be obliged to point me in the direction of the closest Trader Joe's.