Monday, November 26, 2007

from genericeltica to harry belafonte

My first Christmas song purchases this year...

"Calling on Mary" - an original song from Aimee Mann

Allison Crowe's 6 song album - this is stripped down and very un-produced, which is its appeal. (As a work friend said the other day, there's something different about hearing music the way it comes out, as opposed in post-production.) She has a full album as well.

"Mary Mary" Harry Belafonte - I'd actually never heard this song before last year, by Sarah McLachlan

"Behold That Star" - The Christmas Revels -- gospel song

"Mistletoe" - Colbie Caillat , who's all In and Popular right now--I heard her first on Myspace! (Heard and thought was boring. But this is a nice, original Cmas song.)

One of these 12 songs for 6$ generic Celtic Christmas albums that you can usually buy off a booth in gift stores!

And last week I bought a couple songs off Donna Summer's HORRENDOUSLY tinny, horribly accompanied by generic keyboards Christmas album. Only for her voice, would I accept such crap. Too bad, because she does interesting things with the end of O Holy Night.

And un-Christmassy, the new Alicia Keys. I wasn't crazy about her last album, but haven't given up yet.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Calgon Take Me Away!

We had our employee special sale last week-- so I was careful to buy two Entertainment fictions (Crusie, and Wicked), one literary fiction (Pahmuk), one political read (Stiglitz), one non poli non-fiction (Wild Swans), one cooking book, and one writing book (about style.)

Today I started the Jennifer Crusie romance, which is potentially a bad idea because she will eat up my homework time. But I had all this school stuff on my mind, and I was royally annoying myself. This is the true meaning of escapism--when you need to read or watch something to escape your own mind.

I never really became conscious of the NEED for escapist literature until I had a job I DETESTED as a student painter. I would come home and read Georgette Heyer novels, and it was the only few hours of joy I had before having to go to bed and wake up to a hated job again. They helped me SURVIVE.

I couldn't read non-fiction today, to escape, cause that just would have drawn me back into School Thoughts. I tried an Oprah magazine yesterday, but all these info bits were too short to keep my mind tethered, keep it from wandering off.

The music in my mp3 player didn't work--I tried to make myself sing along with the lyrics to Jesus Christ Superstar, but The Brain kept waaaaandering away.

I tried watching tv last night,but that only worked for Ugly Betty--which is sufficiently dramatic and crazy to dominate my gray cells. But that's just one hour.

Enter: The Expert Entertainment Novel. It drew me in from the first page, and it will last for so many hours at a time, that eventually the things on your mind just fade, fade, fade away. I read it at the freezing 211 bus stop, I read it in the 211 traffic, I read it while waiting for the light to change to green, I read it while spending an hour petting Master William (brother's away for the weekend). And finally, I feel better.

... Jennifer Crusie is Calgon for the mind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Glamour and the Globe

So my school friend (more of a war buddy, really--one of the four who survived stats together last semester) didn't win Miss Canada, but she won Miss Earth! It's all very exciting. So if you see her on CBC or CTV this week, remember that I know her, and that makes me famous by association. Which is all that matters, at the end of the day.

She's been missing class for a few weeks, and oddly enough when she returns this Monday the topic will be Feminism. ;-) Presuming that she still had to do her readings while out there, the real money shot would be a photo of her reading Foucault while waiting to go on stage for the bikini contest.

La Dolly

Someone's finally posted a bunch of songs from Dolly Parton's last album. It was a cover album, of songs from the 60s and 70s. I love bluegrass, so I'm pretty happy to hear stuff bluegrassized--done well, of course, by La Dolly.

So here is:
1.Twelfth of Never - Dolly and Keith Urban
(He's the best duet partner I've heard her with, since Kenny. Wow.)

2. If I Were a Carpenter - Dolly and Joe Nichols

3. Both Sides Now - Dolly with Judy Collins and Rhonda Vincent

4. Where Do the Children Play - Cat Stevens plays guitar, but I also posted his original version which I had never heard. Yikes, that man's pretty electrifying to watch!


Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Good-Humoured Christmas Chapter

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!" (Dickens' Pickwick Papers)

So. I enjoy Christmas. When I was in my late teens my family and I attended a church that kept Old Test holidays, so we didn't keep Christmas for about 7 years--and this is one of the most beneficial things I got from that church experience. We had 7 years of collective playah hating--of trashing the materialism and lack of values of the holiday... it was a very deconstructionist period in my life. And now that that's out of my system, I can enjoy myself.

My family and I have since kept Christmas (usually in January or February, and then we called it Winterval or Festivus - the airing of grievances!) but with no pressure, no expectations, no disappointments and fights, no turkey dinner, no hours of prep and cooking and stress. Christmas became an excuse to get together and eat chips and shortbread cookies and hang. Once you strip away the bullshit, you can take a new enjoyment out of such things.

And since my husband grew up in that same church, this is something my in-laws *get* as well. I buy a few presents for my sisters-in-law and co., but it's all very low scale. The only other presents I buy are for the managers at work, and that's fun. We hang up stockings in the office and stuff them with treats and junk.

I think the other thing that kept Christmas down-graded in my life was this working retail--you just can't commit to stressful dinners and events and parties when you have one day off in the biggest retail week of the year. Fernando works at a hospital, so he only gets Cmas or New Years off. Usually I sit alone at home and watch A Christmas Carol and eat. If Fernando's home then we watch Heidi and eat veggie burgers.

So all in all... it's just a Not Big Deal. (I don't mean the commercialism and materialism etc. aren't problems. But my philosophical beliefs don't tend to drive my day to day emotions.) The first year I am no longer working for a retail store, I will do a little more than veggie burgers--maybe fly out and spend Christmas with my mother for the first time since I was, like, 16.

I love the catalogues, I love all the new products coming out, the new albums, the new books, the gadgets... I love going to the Basket Company to see all their cool crap and buy a couple stocking stuffers. I love going to 10 Thousand Villages to buy a couple decorations. I like to curl up in my jammies with catalogues and maybe a Christmas magazine. The most money we spent in past was buying the handmade decorations that Fernando's foster mother made (a big source of income for his foster parents.)

I absolutely DETEST the cold, so the coming of Christmas provides me with a sort of gentle lead-in to The Horror The Horror. Because of my behaviouralistically built in positive associations with the lights, the stories, the movies, the music, and the baking... If I have enough energy left over from school then I put up my little fake tree and decorate it. I feel all warm and fuzzy until January hits me in the face with a snow shovel.

And the final reason I love Christmas: A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite books ever, and this is the time of year I get to enjoy it. It's fun to have certain things that you only enjoy at one time of the year. I either reread Dickens, or listen to my Patrick Stewart audio while baking, or watch Alistair Sims, or Mr Magoo. And my ALL TIME FAVE audio version, with Mr Pickwick on the B side! (Ooh I'm ready to write my first hiphop-reggae Christmas song! "Mistah Pickwick on da B side...")

The nice thing about Dickens is that you get to enjoy Christmas, and honour your philosophical/spiritual beliefs. ;-)

``Spirit! are they yours?'' Scrooge could say no more.

``They are Man's,'' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ``And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy."

``Have they no refuge or resource?'' cried Scrooge.

``Are there no prisons?'' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ``Are there no workhouses?''

Friday, November 16, 2007

Earning My Keep

Ahhh the meeting I organized is over. Besides the 6 professors, about 25 students came -- the room I booked was packed and steamy. People seemed to appreciate it, were super nice about thanking me. And there are a lot of profs who are very student-oriented, happy to support the whole "let's get together and talk" thing. It is a nice dept to be in, as far as people go - it's very friendly.

I'm just sitting in the empty grad lounge, waiting to leave for the train, checking for any last minute student requests before I go home and ignore the computer... turn into a zombie and eat well earned fake cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Photo: My hand blurry, because it's shaking incessantly. I seem to have developed a shake.

Now, to accompany my "Crapitudinous Week" post... here are the little things that kept me going:

[Oh wait-- forgot to mention, under bad things, that I missed taping 2 of my fave shows.]

- Foucault
- that my sister in law's dinner was a success
- The Police concert with my brother
- the return of the Earl Gray tea nibs chocolate bar at Snax
- discovered that The Last Chapter 1+2 are free on my cable box
- appearance of Aretha Franklin's Nessun Dorma on itunes
- an A short paper in SEA class, to counter Soroka's B+ obsession
- when I missed the train the first time, I ran into a Great Buddy on the bus
- when I missed the train the second time, I got a nice seat on the bus
- on the 211 from downtown last night I sat next to a sci fi geek and a string theorist discussing physics (when I got up to leave I thanked the sci fi geek, who was still there, for an interesting eavesdrop)
- booked the perfect room for the round table
- movie in SEA class
- the Kettle chips I'm eating

And to crown it off, when I went to Papillon to do groceries, they not only had my fake cream cheese, but have started carrying the fake cheese I used to only get at the Health Tree (which I rarely go to). OMG my grocery bags are full of cheese and bagels.

Here's why the Whine

Sigh bleh bleh. I'm not sure what made this week crappy... it was just the general crapitude of life.

It started with my Foucault short-paper writing marathon last weekend. I loved Foucy, and it was a blast to delve back into the old modern and post-modern theories (from my Eng Lit days) -- and delve I did. To understand this boy I was referencing my critical dictionaries, my philosophy Intro Guides, and I had to use Sparknotes for each chapter of the book. The end result was worth it--so many creative ideas, new ways of looking at things etc. I'd like to read Disc and Punishment one day... ONE DAY.

But this took up the weekend and was very stressful. I barely got the paper in on time, and I'll probably just get a B+ anyway because I have NEVER been able to break out of the B+ box with Soroka. To Soroka, I'm just a B+ kinda gal.

In between all this was a reunion dinner with old church folk--the teens, most of whom were younger than me, but I knew some of them anyway. It was a dinner I promised my sister in law I'd go to (I know how it sucks to organize something, and then fear that no one will go) -- but I promised it back when I had no papers due that weekend. Then the course schedule changed, and I ended up with Foucault.

So Fernando and I went out but I had remembered the wrong restaurant. Fernando figured it out, and we crossed the street to the right one. Sigh. I made the rounds and said hi to everyone, and left about an hour later.

Couple hours later I'm back in bed with Sparknotes and Foucault and jammies. Ahhh!

Got the paper in. Watched tv I think... I was feeling depressed by then, because I knew I still had other things i needed to get on the computer and do, and didn't want to do. Couldn't go to bed til they were done! Then Fernando and I ended up in a massive argument. It's our Classic Argument. It's like Argument #3 and we've had it for 10 years. I think we manage to fix it about one increment each time... maybe in 30 years it will be gone. Or will only take 5 minutes to get through.

So then i did whatever the work was I needed to do, and then I don't know... I think I went to bed later than I wanted to. I just kept watching more and more tv. Fernando and I were watching back to back episodes about a show of a couple with 8 kids. !! I don't know... amazing what sucks you in when you're depressed.

Next day: I ate a totally crappy lunch at the cafeteria, served by a lady who was being a jerk to her employee. I guess that was the only bad thing, besides being tired.

Tue: Caught up on sleep. Did some odds and ends work that needed doing. Went to work to make up a few hours. Bleh bleh bleh.

Meanwhile I was stressed out about booking a room for a round table discussion which I organized, but which I only knew the date for at the last minute (thanks to the wonder that is Professorial Organization). That hung over me from Friday til Wed.

I just missed the train twice this week. I think I messed up the time on my watch -- I usually have it set exactly for transportation purposes, but it was no longer in synch.

One of those times was today--which meant taking the bus on a morning when the radio was all "OMG THE TRAFFIC IS SOOOO HORRIBLE!" I was 10 min late for teaching my conference. Plus 2 blocks out of my house my feet were soaked cause I forgot and wore the wrong shoes for rain. Wet socks. Wet feet. All day.

I saw about 4-5 students this week, 30-45 minutes each talking to them about the midterm, how to do better for the final, looking over their upcoming papers. (This wasn't inherently bad, I like them much -- but it takes a lot out of a gal.)

Tomorrow is this stupid round table, and of course I'm stressing about -- will people come? And how much pizza should I order? Do people want pizza? Where do I get the drinks?

Then it's back to work on Sat. And then... Sunday should be okay. Just homework.


You know. I live in a great country, I'm a rich girl, I have this nice warm home, and lots of jammies, and food to eat etc. I have friends with MORE on their plates than me, and with bad personal problems etc. But still... there's such thing as a Shitteous Week, even for me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In fact it's a gas

I've been fighting the blahs lately, not sure why. Possibly just because there's so much to do, and I'd like to chuck it all and read a book. I feel fine when I'm Doing Things, like in class, or reading a good school book, or teaching, or working; but when I'm home I just collapse. Bleh!

But I see that Aretha Franklin has finally released an album which includes her covers of Jumping Jack Flash, and Nessun Dorma. So life can't be all bad. Where there is Aretha, there is hope.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A lotta tv, a little christmas, and no homework

Alright - a little more Christmas music trickling into iTunes.

Rick Springfield
Colin James

Umm. I think I can give Rick a pass. He sounds like he's in pain while singing.
Colin's pretty zippy--he's sounding more and more like Harry Connick Jr, which is a little disturbing.

Why would I even give Rick Springfield the time of day (except for "Jessie's Girl"?) Because I just haven't been able to bring myself to do homework today. I watched Open Water on tv. Showered. Tried to sleep but had leg cramps (I've had them for three days.) Tylenol eventually kicked in and I fell asleep with Nombly on my back. Got up. Supper (spaghetti sandwich.) Watched an episode of The Last Chapter II on Illico. Watched the first episode of The Last Chapter I on Illico.

Then I did some work on adjusting my grades--so I was able to pretend to be working while watching Beauty and the Geek (excellent episode, I might add.)

And now here I am, listening to Rick Springfield's Christmas With You.

The good news is the battery on the computer will soon run out, and I'm too lazy to plug it in. I'll have to go back to my room and read homework. After I listen to this Neil Young song I haven't heard in forever.

Defending the Arts!

Just sitting here in a post grading stupor. Well actually, I've been grading on specific days over the past week or so--tonight I just finished up the last of it, entering grades, merging spreadsheets etc. I've been sitting on this bed for hours, my bottom is SORE.

Grading 78 exams is tiring, to say the least. I don't mind grading that much, but not in these quantities... no one can like it in these quantities. Especially when you're trying to put Helpful Comments etc. which only 1% of your students will read. At least that's the advantage to grading final exams--no comments necessary.

I still have the mini tv in here from when I was sick, so I watched Henry V and Almost Famous while doing all the technical stuff. I can't wait to graduate and get to working on my Henry V story!!

Today in my pseudo-theory course I was trying to defend the point that Fiction isn't just Made Up... that nothing can come into an author's mind that doesn't already exist. All people look at is hobbits, and they don't see how connected to the world literature is--hell, even the mass market stuff.

The topic came up because we were debating whether much of what we experience as "the brute facts" of reality is as constructed as a work of fiction. My final view was that there has to be Some sort of difference, at the very least because we've given it that difference; my example being that Israelis and Palestinians fight over UN documents more than they fight over Israeli and Palestinian literature. But I still think the lit is only another step removed away from the histories and the UN documents. If these things didn't resonate, if they didn't hold some sort of reality for us--whether it's in fantasy form, or in the theme, or in the structure of the writing--then we wouldn't read them. Art wouldn't matter to us, or captivate us.

Kind of reminds me of when I was 20 and trying to argue with my step-mother that taking obligatory English classes in Cegep isn't useless, even for an adult student returning to school in aircraft maintenance. ;-)

Well... if poli sci-ers can't appreciate how *real* Lord of the Rings is, then poopoo on them! They don't know what they're missing. :-)

(Another day you'll find me defending empirical sciences just as strongly. Really, everyone needs both an Arts and Science education!)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Aches Away!

Alright, the chills and muscle aches went were gone yesterday, and the headache pain receded. Up to 30 mgs now... see if it happens again!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Day two of my muscle achee and chills. I've been on a constant dose of Tylenol-Codeine, because if I come off, I have a major chills attack. Last night I had to put on flannel pajamas, and three thick blankets before I could get warm (and it was 18 degrees during the day--so the apartment was warm.) Eventually the chills wore off, though maybe because I had enough dope in my system. Then I was finally able to do some of my readings for school.

I stayed dopey all day today, but when I woke up from my post-school nap, I had the chills again. Three blankets, monkey jammies, and the space heater under my blankets--and I was like that for 15 minutes before I felt warm.

I'm okay now, except that throughout all this I've had one of my intractable headaches--the one that feels like someone is boring into my skull, and pain killers don't help. So no homework tonight, no grading--I've brought the mini tv into my room, and I'm watching my taped shows. I keep massaging my head, which helps a bit--the muscles around my skull are super tender.

Okay my battery's about to run out and I'm too lazy to plug in the computer. bye!

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