Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Case You've Forgotten

Long story, but I've been listening to a friend's iTunes collection on random for the last two months. I completely forgot about this bit of lovely from Radio Free Vestibule until I heard it again yesterday. I remember hearing this song when I lived in Vancouver. Back then, a small part of me thought the lyrics might be true. Having lived here almost ten years, I can report that they are, mostly, in fact, true.

I don't want to go to Toronto
I don't want to go
All of the blocks are square
None of the streets are twisted
None of the streets are paved with bricks
There's too many elevators in Toronto
Not enough stairs in Toronto
Not enough stairs
All of the food in Toronto is made of edible oil products
They don't have bagels in Toronto
They have doughnuts
Doughnuts made of edible oil
I don't like doughnuts
They don't have bagels
I don't want to go to Toronto
People don't have faces in Toronto
They have cigarette ads instead
They listen to your phone calls
There's a tower in Toronto that controls people's minds
It's illegal to possess brightly coloured balloons in Toronto
Illegal to own brightly coloured balloons
All of the children in Toronto must wear suits
Even the girls
Three piece suits
The buildings in Toronto have no windows
I don't want to go
Everyone lives in sub-terrainian caverns
Filled with doughnuts made of edible oil
I don't want to go
Nobody goes to the bathroom in Toronto
They have a special operation
They have it removed surgically
There's a tax on all wicker goods in Toronto
There's huge buildings with no windows
And streets with no curves
And inside you find little girls in suits
Running around with black balloons
And munching on edible oil products
The kids don't have names
They have numbers which are assigned to them at birth
They're called three hundred and eighty seven point seven
Four hundred and twelve point nine
And they all have cigarette ads instead of faces


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Consider Signing up for The Freelance Writing Business (starts April 20th)

Hello. If you live in Toronto, like my journalism, and are thinking about trying to freelance either part or full time, I would recommend my course, which begins April 20th at U of T SCS. A bit more information available through the link below.

(link to course and registration info).

Classes tend to be small enough so that students receive plenty of feedback, and I tailor courses based on student feedback. Please email me any questions you might have: ryan [dot] bigge [at] utoronto [dot] ca

I will return to regular programming forthwith.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ponderous Thoughts

Chris Scott calls The Book of Absolutes “ponderously titled.” He then goes on to write the following:

* “postmodern zanies”

* “emit distinct whiffs of reactionary powder”

* “He has many other devices tacked to his banner.”

* “The opening concessive clause of this clumsy sentence is a misplaced modifier of Mill's work.”

* “Postmodernists arrogate terms like relativity and evolution from physics and biology, overlooking the fact that in the humanities they are at best metaphors, at worst tendentious amplifiers of left-wing posturing.”

* “Thus, from a heterodox scattering of isms, a new and terrible orthodoxy slouches towards Parnassus, trumpeting its Nietzschean transvaluation of values from the tops of ivory (or red-brick) towers.”

* “in what may be termed the negative side of his Thomist dialectic”

Pretentious? Ponderous? Moi?

I did like this, however:

“lays siege to cloud castles”


A Well Written Novel, Except When It’s Not

Here are two hallmarks of a Globe and Mail book review of a major new novel. The first is fawning over the author until reader nausea is induced:

I should admit to being a fan, to having done all the same things that people do upon first reading Fugitive Pieces. I read pages aloud. I underlined passages, went back and asterisked them, then went back and underlined them again.

And I waited for a second novel. But none came. It has been 13 years. Now, finally, like something exhumed from the distant past, comes The Winter Vault.

Has it been worth the wait?

It has.

The second is a brief burst of valid criticism near the end of the review that has the potential to undermine or even contradict all the fawning praise that has preceded it, followed by an immediate retraction/justification/rationalization:

The Winter Vault is a beautifully written though somewhat difficult book. Michaels's prose is sometimes faulted — wrongly, I think — for being too lyrical or overly poetic, the kind of thing that has no business in a novel. Indeed, we feel Michaels sometimes straining against the form of the novel, and such strain is not easily borne in every instance. A single example may suffice. Avery is watching Jean as she gazes out over the changed Ontario landscape: "Her head, he was sure, was bursting with thought" — even granting poetic licence, it is an unfortunate line.

But The Winter Vault can justify its excesses.