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Friday, November 30, 2007

Reader-submitted entry

(Click the image if you can't read it at this size.)

Man, I love you guys. You're sending me cartoons now! Thanks, Anonymous Jail Boss.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Relax. You don't have to read to be well read"

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Bragging about your own lack of literary knowledge.

No, this is not about Ickler. This is about Russell Smith. The man is driving me nuts.

The Globe apparently has no standards for its Style section these days. This is today’s column, and the title of this post is the headline. My comments are in bold text.

I am so thrilled to have discovered Pierre Bayard's How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read: It gives an argument to support what one has intuitively felt all one's life and, more importantly, it gives one an excuse to judge, and judge quite harshly, all those ecstatically lauded, good-for-you Canadian books - on the Giller Prize short list, for instance - that you can't bear to even begin.

Note that even though Russell is trying to establish his Everyman credentials – literature is so tiring! – old habits die hard and he cannot resist the use of the word “one” as a pronoun. Naturally, this is not because he is a stodgy old Brit with a pipe and a wig; it is because he is a hip young fellow from Toronto. When you're as hip as Russell, it's OK to have entire paragraphs with only one sentence. Compound-complex sentences are hot.

This has been a real problem for me. I mean, I would love to come out and say, oh, come on, are all these sad historical novels really the best this country can offer? But I can't, because I haven't read them, so I technically cannot judge them. I feel like saying, "Well surely my complete absence of desire to read our most highly rewarded books must count as a mark against them." But that bespeaks arrogance and I would be criticized for that, so I don't.

Obviously, Russell follows his own rules about direct quotes. I mean, who needs quotation marks? Not Russell! This could have been saved with the use of italics, but what a tiring waste of energy that would be! A real problem, to be sure.

I’m very proud of Russell’s restraint here. I think I’ll try it out: I’d like to say that my boss is a swinger and so am I. But that would get me fired, so I won’t say that. Boy, this is fun!

So along comes the brilliant Bayard, professor of literature at the Sorbonne, with an armoury full of sleek and shining arguments for not reading and nevertheless forming coherent opinions on books. I know it sounds like a joke, but it's quite a serious book, with all kinds of geeky French-style new ideas such as the inner book, the screen book, the virtual library and so on. It's way more fun (I'm guessing) than another reflection on family, memory and loss in the light of the Holocaust. (I don't know, of course, because I don't read books like that, but now I can say that we are all talking about virtual books anyway and that my unread virtual book is just as valid as your read one.)

I TOTALLY GET IT. Russell is a man of the people! Stuff from France is geeky! He’s not one of those fashion snobs: he doesn’t take his cues from other countries’ trends. I feel like wrapping myself in a Canadian flag.

This brings up some of the responses I have had to my recent rantings about the value of fiction. I received several letters from readers who said, What are you talking about? I try to read fiction (say my angry readers) and I find it too dull. It's always crushingly depressing and slow and it's about women in the past. It feels relentlessly good for me, as if I should feel ennobled by feeling sorry for people to whom bad things have happened. Well, this is simply the sad result of the propaganda created by our media. If you read the bestseller lists and listen to the CBC, then you form a completely distorted view of what fiction is.

Again, Russell’s at his hottest when he can’t figure out how to use quotation marks. Who finds fiction dull? His readers or Russell himself? Who can tell? That’s true sexiness for you. I could just rip that ascot off him.

You think it's these morality tales of good victims. You aren't told that there are fun stories out there, many of which actually take place in the present and many of which contain amusing and politically incorrect characters. You will never hear either about all the fun genre books with huge followings, about all the science fiction and crime novels and thrillers that could teach many of our most revered writers a thing or two about pacing and intrigue. Those books are not rewarded in this country; they are not included in "Heather's Picks" and they never show up on major prize short lists.

Right. Nobody ever mentioned that there are OTHER books out there! This is called “breaking news”. Russell has discovered something that was previously unknown: Some books have huge followings even though Russell has never heard of them.

But they are out there. In fact, if you hang around a group of Canadian fiction writers, you will hear them excitedly discussing all kinds of exciting books - all the Lorrie Moores and Michael Chabons of the United States, all the Gautam Malkanis and Irvine Welshes of Britain ... all the books that don't make it to your mom's book club, the books you can be forgiven for not knowing about if you're a devotee of Canada Reads. (It will also give you the impression that these Canadian fiction writers don't have a whole lot of time for the work of their Canadian peers, and that impression may well be correct.)

Got that? When you hang around Canadian fiction writers, they’ll talk about books. What’s that? You don’t know any Canadian fiction writers? Clearly, you’re in the wrong social circle. You probably don't even live in Toronto!

But back to Bayard and non-reading. One of his most charming arguments is that to be really well informed one cannot attempt to read all the books. Because of the volume of books, the task is simply impossible. One is a much better educated person if one takes the attitude of a librarian - if one knows enough about each book to know where it fits, how it is to be categorized - that is, not just what it is about and to what genre it belongs but what opinions are generally held about it. Knowing a great deal about books in general, and having skimmed a writer's work before, could enable one, for example, to guess pretty accurately about what reading the new Giller-quality work would be like. It might therefore also permit one to say to oneself, "I do not enjoy that book," without having to go through the soul-improving exercise of actually reading it. I am all in favour of this.

What a fabulous suggestion! It’s not important to read a book as long as you know what OTHER people have said about the book. This is good news for reviewers. It’s also good news for pretentious people who use “one” as a pronoun.

There is a danger here, even from Bayard's point of view, and that is that the book I would be talking about would be simply the "screen book," a false idea of a book based on what I have heard from others. Although one's "inner book," the book that one has made for oneself by interpreting one's own life in light of the actual one, is probably the most lasting and important one for all of us. That's the one I trust, and I have strong inner books created from skimming the most popular Canadian authors.

Yes, I suppose that if you don’t read a book, there would be a danger that you wouldn’t know what it’s actually about. Who said there is no point in stating the obvious?

At any rate, Bayard has made life much easier for Canadians. He has given us the tools for a rebellion.

A rebellion, yes, but not the type Russell has in mind.

My dad called it years ago:

Mandolins are hot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A visit from the Enges

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Hey, are you Megan from CBC?"

I am pretty sure I did a double-take the other day when someone asked me this. It has been three years since anyone recognised my voice, and it stopped happening regularly about five years ago. I almost said "no" to the guy.

Radio reporters usually don't get "recognised" in the same way TV reporters do. After graduation, about ten of us got summer jobs with CBC Radio, and I remember that one of my more obnoxious classmates bragged about being recognised all the time in PEI. I still think that if this was true (and I doubt it), he must have been wearing CBC T-shirts all the time and repeating his name constantly, hoping to catch the ear of innocent bystanders. He's now a producer for a national show, and he does a weekly feature that airs on the local station. Even if I'm exhausted, I always get out of bed right away when I hear his voice: I can't stand his smarmy accent.

There are people who need to know who reporters are to do their jobs -- I'm one of them. However, normal people in most parts of Canada do not recognise radio reporters. Most people wouldn't know Shelagh Rogers if she walked in the door. (Full disclosure: I turned into a screaming fangirl when she came to town. I almost cried. She was travelling with Jonathan Torrens, and I was one of the few people who wanted to meet her instead of him. Yes, I am a loser.)

Hmmm. Do you Americans know who Jonathan Torrens is? Do you get Trailer Park Boys in the States?

I will admit, though, that things are a bit different in the north. It's a small place with no media competition, and radio's a personal medium. People do start to feel like they know you. I worked for the station Up There for two years, and people called me "CBC". Yes, this is weird.

Get out of my way. I'm a celebrity now. You're blocking my access to my adoring fans.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How can I ever change things that I feel?

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Media bias.

I joined an Internet discussion with other members of my family the other day. The original topic was American politics, but (of course) it quickly morphed into a discussion of media bias.

There are days when I'm really glad that I live in Canada. We have our own political weirdos, of course, but we do not have nearly as many angry pundits or attacks on the media. I follow American media trends, and it seems that there's no way to win: every reporter who doesn't loudly proclaim a right-wing bias is continually accused of having a bias. They can't ALL be biased, and I don't see how they can be biased to the right AND to the left.

I first need to get one thing out of the way: I am about to discuss the non-editorial section of the newspaper. People who write editorials and columns are paid to have opinions. In fact, they're often hired because of their bias. A good newspaper will publish a range of opinions on the left and the right. The reader is expected to know this, but obviously this isn't as clear as it probably should be. In large papers like The Washington Post, there is a literal wall between the editorial and news sections of the paper. In other papers like Name Of Paper Withheld, reporters write editorials. (You tell me if this sounds like a good idea.) The goal is to keep bias out of the news: a noble goal, to be sure.

Nobody ever pretends that reporters don't have opinions. In fact, they ought to have opinions. Ideally, a beat reporter will know everything there is to know about a topic. He or she has met with experts and discussed every possible angle of the issue. He or she should know that whatever the problem is, it has nuances and cannot be summed up in a slogan or in a "The Issue: / We Say:" heap of garbage on the editorial page.

Hmmm. Perhaps MY biases are showing.

The point is that a reporter can't be expected to have no opinions. Much has been made of the fact that as a group, reporters' voting trends skew to the left. (Don't e-mail me to tell me about the conservative reporters you know. I am talking about trends here.) Conservatives scream that this is what happens when communists take control of the media. Liberals scream that this is what happens when people educate themselves about the issues.

I don't worry much about voting trends. Many reporters refuse to vote on principle, believing that they give up this right when they become journalists: it would require them to think about which candidate they want to win, and that could bias their coverage.

Believe it or not, media bias means much more to the media itself than to the average Joe on the street. An accusation of political bias that turned out to have merit would have significant consequences for the reporter and probably for the entire news organization. Reporters cannot afford to open themselves to accusations of political bias, especially if they work for a decent publisher or producer. They would never work again. (Ever hear of Mary Mapes?) If anything, they are expected to bend over backwards to keep political bias out of their coverage.

So I get annoyed when people toss around the word "bias" when they really mean that they didn't like a particular story. You cannot assume bias from a single story or interview. You need a pattern of bias in context before you can even start to suggest that a reporter is biased.

However, I do see a different type of bias that is having a negative effect on news coverage: the laziness bias.

I can already hear some of you scoffing. "YES! They're lazy, so they call their friends at the Obama campaign!" This isn't what I mean at all. I'm talking about all stories that aren't about politics, the sort of story where you aren't looking for bias.

Reporters are taught to write what they know. In general, this is a good idea. However, it means you will only see a small sliver of real life on the news. For example, they might need an expert to talk about women's issues. There are any number of people they could call, but they'll go for the tried-and-true interviewee every time. This person will say exactly the same thing she said the last time she was interviewed.

This is GREAT for the reporter, but does not offer any real benefit to the public. I already know what the tried-and-true expert is going to say, no matter what the issue is. It would be really nice to hear from someone else for a change.

This is where reporters are most biased: when they're rushed for time and need a quote from someone right away. They always know how the tried-and-true expert will fit into the story. They always know that she'll talk, no matter what the issue is. Who has the energy to look for someone new to interview when there's someone just BEGGING to talk about the same old thing over and over?

Now, this is not what most people mean when they say the media is biased. They usually mean that the reporter intends to show one side in a good light and the other side in a bad light.

As always, there are some subtleties here that make it hard for me to say that this isn't true. This is indeed sometimes the goal. For example, perhaps the reporter has dug up some documents that show that one political party has bilked the government out of millions of dollars, paid off political allies and tried to silence the opposition. It would be pretty hard to tell this story without making someone look bad. And no decent editor would allow such a story to see print without at least contacting both sides for comment. As I've tried to explain above, true political bias in the news is rare, at least partly because it would be so obvious that the editor would catch it.

I'm going to give you a handy guide to detecting bias in the media.

  • First, throw out your ideas about bias in favour of a political party.
  • Then pay more attention to the person who is actually quoted in the story. Is it the same person you've heard from over and over? If so, is the person saying anything new, or is it the same old thing?
  • Does the person work for an organization that consistently presents an argument on the left or right of an issue? If so, is he or she presented as the "expert" or as one side of a complicated story?
  • Are there statistics in the story? If so, where do they come from, and how did the statistician compile the numbers?
  • Who is the "expert"? Is he or she legitimately respected as an expert by his or her peers?
  • Who is the victim (also known as the angel)? Does he or she really look like a victim? Is his story realistic? When you think about what he's saying, does it sound plausible, given everything else you know?
  • What are the real motives? Are people speaking in sound bites ("NO BLOOD FOR OIL!") or are they trying to tell the reporter that the issue is complicated ("This isn't about gay marriage. Gay marriage has become the flashpoint, but from our perspective, the true issue is the inerrancy of Scripture. Let me explain what that means.")?
Hmmm. You're right: this is too much work. It would be easier to just continue to say that the media are biased. Carry on.

A few moments in the life of Steve and Megan

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We need to talk.

Reader-submitted complaint: No, seriously. This David Hasselhoff thing needs to be addressed. It seems like you LUV him.

Okay, guys. You are making me very sad.

I'm going to try to explain this again, but bear in mind that humour impairment afflicts many people. There's no shame in admitting that you have it.

I really do love David Hasselhoff.

I can see that you're already looking for the "Post A Comment" button, but please wait a moment. It is possible to love something for its tackiness without thinking that it is true art. I would have thought that anyone who watches Eurovision would understand this, but apparently not. It's OK. We can still be friends.

Please watch this Hasselhoff-free video:

You LOVE this, don't you? Admit it! YOU DO! Everything about it is PERFECT, from the costuming to the choreography to the special effects to the bouncy, happy way the guy sings lyrics like "As the filth from Rome who rape our country and who terrorized our people for so long". You're already thinking about posting it on your own blog.

Now, I am pretty sure that you do not love this clip because you think it is a cinematic masterpiece. You love it because it's so all-around campy that you can't feel otherwise.

Now, I want you to watch this Hasselhoff-free video:

Someone in my family actually bought this CD about ten years ago, and it also featured a track by Leonard Nimoy. I don't recall what he was singing, but I remember that we laughed until our sides hurt.

Bill Shatner's a lot like David Hasselhoff in that he's a colossal joke. Both of them are now in on the joke, but there was a time when they weren't, and videos from that time are just plain hilarious. Shatner now stars in a TV show: his entire role is to make fun of his public persona.

The point that I'm trying to make is that you can like something for being really awful. And so I leave you with this:

This one time...

Reader-submitted complaint: Hey! What's wrong with band camp?!

Nothing. Is someone overly sensitive today?

I've never been to band camp. It would wreck my ironic hipster image.


The truth is that I am far geekier than anyone who went to band camp. I have been to Bible camp more times than I can count for many different kinds of workshops, camps and conferences.

I went to Bible camp for about eight years. It's how I met a lot of the people I was friends with throughout my teen years. I even ended up going to university with one of them -- he is now a clergyman in a town near Bay Roberts.

Other than my parents, I think my overseas readers will be the only ones who will know who this is. Jonathan partnered up with my best friend for some time after Bible camp in 1994 (I can't bring myself to use the word "dated"), but that eventually didn't work out. In any case, the three of us went to Halifax to go to school together, and my friend discovered that yet ANOTHER boy from Bible camp was more to her liking.

If I'm giving the impression that Bible camp was all about hooking up, it sort of was. Parents: do not let your kids go to Bible camp. Nothing good can come of it.

My dad was almost always at Bible camp when I was there. I am what extremely annoying church people call a "PK", which is short for "preacher's kid". If you already knew what a PK is, please don't say so. It will completely destroy my mental image of my readers as ironic hipsters. I would really rather not know that you have covered your guitar case with Jesus Was Way Cool stickers, and I'm better off without knowing that you have a Real Men Love Jesus tattoo. Way to tacky up your own religion, guys.

If there were band camps when I was in high school, I wasn't aware of them. Perhaps a reader can enlighten the rest of us. Is it like Bible camp? Do you know it's geeky and yet wear it as a badge of honour?

For Mom

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Comment feed

I added a comment feed over on the right. What do you think?

Some people like to see all of the recent comments in one place, but others think it clutters the sidebar. It does indeed make it a bit harder to access the blogroll, which gets a lot of use.

Good? Bad? Meh?

grrrr...I mean, uh, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sorry, did I say I was cool?

Reader-submitted complaint: Kenny Loggins? Seriously? I may have to come up with a better term than "tragic".

Well, yeah.

Did I mislead you into thinking that I'm cool? I also own a Donnie Osmond CD.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Steve, Megan, and one cup

There is a horrible, horrible video out there called "2 Girls, 1 Cup". Reaction videos are all over YouTube. This is ours.

Everything old is new again

Somehow, I have been tagged yet again for the "seven weird things" meme. I am not sure that this is fair. Aren't I weird enough in daily life? My blog's weird, isn't it? Show me another blog that's like this one. Do it right now, while I'm drumming my fingernails impatiently to demonstrate how valuable my time is. I'm very busy and important, you know.

Isn't there some sort of rule that the tagger is supposed to do the meme too? And who are you, Dr. Bad Ass? I suspect a scheme to boost your Google search ranking by getting me to link to your blog. I demand a cut of the profits!

Hmmm. Seven more weird things about myself. Hmmm.

1. I am picky about coffee cups. They need to be the right size: I would rather fill a small cup several times than drink lukewarm coffee from a cup that's too big. They also need to have a lip: otherwise, small drips of coffee trickle onto the table. It's just gross.

2. This morning, I almost called CBC to complain about their music selection. Every so often, they will do stories about vehicles. This is fine, but what's not fine is that they always, without fail, play this song after the interviews:

Now, I'm not saying this is a bad song. I actually like it. However, it is not as if this is the only song about cars that has ever been recorded. Heck, there's a BAND called The Cars, and they have a song called Drive! There are a LOT of choices here, CBC. Pick one.

3. Speaking of driving, I avoid driving if I can possibly help it. I walk everywhere I can. When I do have to take the car, I use as little gas as possible. This means no idling to warm up the car. In fact, I sometimes drive with the window down so the inside of the car will be -20 just like the outside. This keeps frost from forming on the inside of the windows, which would require me to turn the heater on yet again. It's a vicious cycle and I'm keeping myself out of it.

4. I love, love, love iTunes. If not for my iPod, I would probably be on some sort of probation at work for hurting someone. Steve got me a set of speakers for Christmas, but he says I can have them for work now, and I am really excited about it. My playlist makes me happy.

5. Speaking of the playlist, this is the latest addition:

The most-played item is Randy Travis's Forever and Ever, Amen. I am not a country fan in the way Steve's dad is, but I've liked Randy Travis since I was eight.

6. I have the speakers and the iPod because using my work computer to play CDs causes strife. Seriously. I tried to explain this to someone today and failed, so clearly I don't understand it all that well myself. As best I can determine, some people feel that people who have speakers on their computers are somehow special. (I need speakers to do some parts of my job.) Using the speakers to play music, therefore, is rubbing this special status in everyone else's face. This is entirely separate from any noise issues, which I would completely understand. It is also unrelated to streaming Internet radio, which can create a tremendous drain on the company's network.

7. The other night, I Facebook-poked a boy I knew from Bible camp, and I immediately thought better of it. Well, he's not just a Bible-camp boy, but I only looked him up because a few Bible-camp boys had looked ME up and friended me. And I say "boys", but they're all in their thirties now. (This is a very odd little world that could only exist on the Internet.) I went to a lot of Bible camps and conferences when I was a teenager, so this was probably inevitable. Now I'm thinking that I really should keep my pokes to myself.

That's seven things. Does anyone want to be tagged?

To anticipate your question: No, I have never been to band camp.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Hat tip: Stacey.

Happy birthday, Holly

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Whacks on, uh...

Reader-submitted complaint: I don't know if we can be friends any more. The Hoff intimidates me.

Who, this guy?

I get this a lot, so you'll have to believe me when I say that I understand how you feel.

First, there's denial. You don't want to believe that anyone could be so sexy. You're afraid of your feelings, so you tell yourself that they're not real.

Next, there's anger. You lash out at me personally, blaming me for perpetuating an impossible standard. You know you'll never be as hot as David, and it upsets you.

Then you start bargaining. You tell yourself and others that it's possible to, for example, convince me to take him off my Facebook profile. It will never happen. You might as well hurry along to the next stage:

Depression sets in when you realise I'm not going to stop. You know you'll never be as hot as David, and it makes you sad. The key here is to stop eating onion dip straight from the container and get to the last stage:


(Link possibly not safe for work.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tell me more, tell me more, like does he have a car?

Reader-submitted question: Does Rebecca Eckler post on your blog?

Like what the fuck to you care? I mean really it is like you are stalking her and shes a PERSON damitt!!! I am so completely applaled by what a loser you are! It sounds like you read her books adn that makes you a STALKER!!! You are all LOSERS!!1! I;m just saying.

Rebecca is in Cancun and like I siad before I don;t know her and we arent feriednds and she didn't do the blog swap and she doesnt' post on my blog. She is a WEORKING MOTheR and she neesds her rest!

And like woudl you all just cool it with asking about my ex-freind who works for a newspaper and is a bitchy blonde because I am TOTALLY not to going to tell you who it is because some people dont' deserve to be freinds with me. I mean if someone doesnt always want to hand out with me all teh time on my schedul that means they are a bitch and especial if they never ask about the baby. But i am already on the high road here and so I am not going to stop to her level and say her name even though I JSUT KNOW she would do it to me in a seocond!!! I am classy, get it.

Si O really wish you losers would all just stop asking me about her when you all KNOW she doesn't post here. I mean why WOULD she. I know who posts here dammit and none of them are super-hot or super-skinny like she is they are all ugly fatties whho could probably kill her just by sitting on her.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


It seems like everyone else is, but I am not participating in National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), not really, anyway. Well, sort of. Okay, so I am. Sort of.

The idea here is to post every day during the month of November. No problem! Although some of my readers mock me for it (my readers are harsh), I decided over a year ago when I set up my blog that I would be posting every day. Since then I've averaged about two posts a day and have only missed a few days when I was living out of hotels. So I didn't really need an outside reminder to post every day. But there are prizes, and I'm always up for prizes.

I read a lot of blogs. A lot of blogs. Many of the people who are participating in NaBloPoMo decided to do one post for every letter of the alphabet, but I notice that, halfway through the month, they're starting to lose steam. ("O is blog writing.")

I've been asked quite a few times how I come up with ideas for the blog. I'm not really sure, but it seems like ideas are everywhere. There's a new David Hasselhoff photo that must be shared with the world, or Name of Paper Withheld has printed something that's so dumb it cries out to be slagged, or something really silly has happened to me.

I tell people that the more they write, the more they will be able to write. I know, this feels like an immense leap of faith when it seems like you have no ideas, but it's true. I don't think I'd be able to force myself to do a post for every letter of the alphabet, but if it helps you to write every day, go for it.

I am already thinking about taking myself off the NaBloPoMo list, though. I am pretty sure that's where the spam is coming from. Well, I'm positive about the Korean one: I have stalker data on him, including a map to his town. The spam is annoying and something I've never had to deal with before. Stupid spammers! I better get a prize after all of this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Just a suggestion..."

Reader-submitted question: How about a post about how you have a good man?

No, Steve did not submit this question. (I double-checked to make sure he had not hacked into my reader's e-mail account.)

This is an interesting one. You see, I am a bit out of my element here. I do indeed have a good man, but I usually don't post about him.

Steve and I have been together for 15 years. He is my best friend and, except for our son, the most important person in my life.

I am not a mushy person: I do not go on at length about my relationship with Steve any more than I do my relationships with Stacey, Glen or the Capitalist. In fact, I get a bit uncomfortable when others go into too much detail about how much they luuuuurve their significant others. It reminds me of my old roommate, who insisted that she was in love with an 18-year-old with a half-shaved head as she carved the name of a hot guitar-playing Marine into her wrist. That was a weird year, eh, Overseas Readers? (Maybe there's a reason all of my friends from university left the continent.)

One of my dear friends is at the beginning of a relationship (yikes, no, not a relationship, call it something else!) and mentioned that the other person is taking up a lot of his head space. This is an interesting observation, because I'm not sure what it would be like to NOT have another person taking up a lot of head space. I don't talk about it a lot for the same reason I don't talk about the fact that I have blue eyes: it's just part of my life.

Yes, I do indeed have a good man. Thanks for your question.

Take no prisoners, only kill

Reader-submitted complaint: I don't like Fleetwood Mac. And I NEVER liked that Landslide song. And there should be no such thing as a Fleetwood Mac fetishist. Those words should NOT go together.

Ah, how the pendulum swings!

You don't like Fleetwood Mac? How unfortunate. So I'm guessing you don't like it when I make references to their music. In fact, you must hate this whole blog.

You will probably be relieved to learn that, as far as I can Google, there is no such thing as a Fleetwood Mac fetishist outside this blog. You will be protected out there on the Interweb. It's only here on my blog that you'll have to be concerned.

I'm happy I could put your mind at ease. See, everyone wins.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The blog swap

Some people have expressed concern about being "tracked down". If their readers are anything like mine, this is definitely a possibility.

I am taking down parts of two posts tonight: the poll in the post below this one and the list of participants in Wednesday's post. If you want to vote in the poll or bookmark any of the other blogs, do it today.

Most of my readers know that I am generally opposed to removing posts, but I am going to do it today out of respect for the participants who truly want to remain anonymous.

Seeing double with the wrong one

Reader-submitted question: I can't stand not knowing. Which post was yours?

I can't tell you that! The whole point is to be anonymous!

However, when there's a lack of information, people start to speculate. A few readers have created short lists through intense detective work. I set up this poll to find out what you think. You can vote for more than one entry if you're not sure. The full list is here. Feed readers: You'll have to come to the blog to vote. I know, this is an arduous effort, but you're up to the challenge, aren't you?

UPDATED: Gone, sorry.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Once again, I fail myself

I wimped out on the blog swap.

I had prepared a post about something I did the other day. Something really really stupid involving an indiscreet observation to another person in the heat of the moment.


(NOTE TO THE FORCES OF EVIL: Nope, not that, either. Sorry for getting you all excited.)

This indiscreet observation had a cascading effect that I tried to stave off with my normal passive-aggressive mix of "Don't worry about it" and "Look, it's all fixed!" protestations. I really wanted the person to forget what I'd said, but clearly that's not possible.

I thought the blog swap might be a good opportunity to write about this. The blog swap is anonymous, you see. Much like Post Secret, the point is to write something you don't dare to write on your own blog. As there are very few things I don't dare to write on my own blog, there were only a few options. Unlike many bloggers, I harbour very few lingering desires to complain about work on my blog: I write about work only occasionally and even then it's usually superficial. So complaining about my day job was out. Besides, I already had the perfect topic.

I took some time to write about what happened the other day, but cut the post at the last minute. There are indeed some things I don't dare to write on my blog, and apparently I don't dare to write them on other blogs, either.

By the time I cut the post, I was up against a deadline. I drafted something silly in 20 minutes and sent it off. If you explore the other blogs that took part in the swap, you'll find it, but it doesn't have my name on it.

Some day I will re-write and post the other one. Some day.

Blog Swap: I Will Wait For You, But Please Come Soon

Today's guest poster will remain anonymous.

When I come home each night, pausing at the garage gate as I wait for it to open, I look up at the balcony and I see you leaning over and smiling at me. Your eyes are wide and happy. You're waving to me to hurry up. Park the car, come inside. We'll kiss each other hello, I'll run my hands through your hair. You'll throw some food on the grill (baby back ribs, please), I'll make the side dish (mashed potatoes with tons of garlic, of course) and we'll enjoy a bottle of wine outside while we talk about our days and learn new things about each other. We'll make each other laugh. Hurry up, get up here, now. I can't wait to see you.

But you're not really there. You're a ghost. You left weeks ago to get your head together because your demons were destroying you from the inside out, eating both of us alive. I can still feel your presence as palpably as I did the day you left, no matter what I do. I hear a joke, and it's your laugh that rings in my ears. I wake up in the morning and I feel you next to me in bed, but your shape disappears when I go to curl myself around you. I leave the gym, and I look across the street. You're sitting at one of the café tables at the coffee shop, reading a book and waiting for me. You've bought an iced coffee, and we share it.

You're everywhere.

The comforts these visions of you bring are only temporary ones. I have you and lose you over and over again, every single day. I am addicted to the way my heart swells when I feel your presence, when I remember the way your thighs or your hands or the nape of your neck feel, the way your voice sounds when I walk through the front door and you say, "Hey, Sugarpop!" but coming down from the high is a devastating experience. And yet, I can't stop it. I don't want to stop it. I don't ever want to have to work to recall the bliss I felt when you were near.

I don't think you understand or believe how achingly I miss you. I don't think you understand how you destroy my heart when I cry and say, "I miss you. I miss you so much" and my pain and honesty are met with the hum of my cordless phone. Sometimes you say, "Look, I just called to catch up." It's then that I wonder if you must hate me, and what it was that I did. You were once so kind and now I don't know you. Your heart is hard, and I've never seen you this way. We were best friends. Not in the cliched way couples say that. No, you were my best friend. The person I always ran to when something happened. The first person I wanted to tell something. The only person who could cheer me up when I was sad. You made me laugh to the point of tears. You were -- you are -- my favorite person in the world. I love talking about you and anyone who knows me could see it. I was completely taken. We made a lot of people sick.

I don't feel that I have the right to ask you how you feel about me, so I don't. Do you still love me? Do you think about me as much as I think about you? I don't think you know how much I would die to hear those words from you again. I don't think you know that I would prefer to be stabbed repeatedly over this. It wouldn't hurt nearly as much. I know you're in pain, too. I want to fix you. I want you to be you again, I want you to be okay and I want you to be everything I know you can be, if only you would believe in yourself and see yourself the way I see you. If you saw yourself with my eyes, you would know you can do anything. You would never doubt yourself.

I wonder if I should move on. I've pondered the idea an uncomfortable number of times. But each time, I reach the same conclusion: I can't. You have to destroy us, because I never will. I believe in us. I believe in you. I believe what we had together was as good as it could ever get. You made me a better person, you brought out the best things in me. I like to think I did the same for you. We look out for each other. We were a team and I liked how we were both so openly committed to that. I loved how we worked together, how we compromised. You made me believe again. You made me unafraid to go after the things I wanted and unafraid to be me. You reveled in the things about me that I never thought anyone had noticed. And I reveled in everything about you, even the things you suspected I disliked about you (you were wrong). I put you first. I have never felt a love so full and real that nothing could destroy it or alter it.

I am yours to destroy, baby. My heart belongs to you and no one else. And it scares me to death. But the thought that you might never be in my life again scares me so much more, because you are my match. If I am not yours, I am no one's.

I'll keep waiting for you until you come home. I'll keep looking up and seeing your smiling face and maybe someday soon, you won't be just a ghost anymore.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A quick note about tomorrow’s post

I am participating in a blog swap. The next post will have been written by someone you don’t know, and I won’t tell you who it is. I will be posting anonymously on someone else’s blog. I don’t know which one, and I won’t tell you, either. And good luck tracking me down: I fully intend to include a few subtle grammatical errors so you won’t be able to figure out that it’s me.

Tomorrow’s post could be funny, serious or weird. I don’t know what to expect, so this is fun.

UPDATED: Here is the list of participants:

UPDATED AGAIN: Gone, sorry.

They just keep coming

Reader-submitted question: Where do the reader-submitted questions come from?


Am I missing a Fleetwood Mac reference, or is this serious?

Readers submit them. Seriously.

Some of them come in through the comments box. That's probably the easiest way to send me questions. Others come through e-mail or MSN. A few come through face-to-face contact with readers, but most of my readers live outside Name of Town Withheld.

You can never know why other people do things, but the people who ask questions appear to fall into a few broad categories:

People who want something from me. The Fleetwood Mac fetishists are obviously members of this group, but I can't forget the passive-aggressive folks who are trying to force me to address my issues. I mean their issues. THEIR ISSUES.

People who need grammar advice. You guys are great. Without you, I might start to think that I have not made any lasting impression on the world.

People who have legitimate questions. I love you guys too. I often feel like I put all of myself into this blog. You remind me that I don't.

People who are hoping to change my blog. I usually think these are funny. Sometimes I'm not sure if they're questions or complaints, so I have to take my cue from the person's tone. Admittedly, this is an inexact science, because although the complaints tend to be over-the-top weird, they are not personally offensive. I think this is because almost all of the complaints come from readers with legal training who have forgotten how to relate to other human beings.

HA HA! That's just a little joke! Don't sue me!

Keep the questions coming. They make my day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dear Santa,

Thank you for all of the presents you gave me last time.

This time I would like a DS and some DS games. And one Game-Boy with Game-Boy games. And that is it.

Love Michael
Transcriber's Note: He is sure going to be disappointed on Christmas morning.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm so confused

I was bored the other day, so I uploaded a photo of myself to one of those face-recognition websites. You know the type: the software analyzes your face and then tells you that you look like Angelina Jolie. I usually don't do them, because I am afraid the site will tell me I resemble Pete Doherty. I don't need that sort of stress in my life.

I'm not sure why I did it this time. It's not as if anything has changed. I never take photos of myself, but I do have screenshots from vlogs.

It appears that I look Oriental. I'm not sure if the MyHeritage people are having some fun with me or if this is serious. I've always thought of myself as looking very European.

Here are my celebrity look-alikes:

Clara Bow was an actress in silent films. I don't think I look like her. Maybe my hair looks a bit like that. I do wear tops like the one in this photo, though.

Yoon-jin Kim is an actress on one of the few shows I watch, Lost. I've seen a lot of her, and trust me, we do NOT look alike.

Nia Long: What??

Jang Nara: I think the program is broken. I see no resemblance. She's a Korean singer.

Bunko Kanazawa is apparently a prolific and well-known Japanese adult-film actress. I stole that description from Wikipedia. I have never heard of her, but I am not familiar with the Japanese adult-film industry.

Lee Hyori: Yet another Korean singer. I own a sweater like that, but I try to keep it on my shoulders. That's just me, though.

Kimberly Stewart: Now, this is just mean.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

Hat tip: Kate Nova.

Please read this article by Captain Trevor Greene, a fellow King's journalism alumnus.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What's in my MP3 Player?

These guys get points for trying to edit their own music video. I imagine it must be very difficult to make a living as a musician without a slick marketing team.

Friday, November 09, 2007

This is hilarious


I'm choosing to believe that this is poorly-written satire. I'd rather laugh than cry.

Celebrity journalism

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: Reporters are celebrities! Yes, we are! YES, WE ARE!!!

I'm noticing a disturbing trend: reporters who think that they are famous.

This is the cover photo from today's paper. Note that the editors have turned a run-of-the-mill non-event (art class) into a cover story simply because a reporter took part in the class. What? A reporter's getting naked? Hold the presses! That's TOTALLY different than every other class, when some nobody gets naked!

Seriously, you'd think it was the high school's paper.

Earlier this week, I was subjected to the latest in a series of CBC contests. The contestants are CBC reporters, and the judges are CBC reporters. As you can imagine, the listeners are on the edges of their seats. Who will have the best cranberry recipe? Who knows more 1960s trivia?

This, of course, is because reporters believe that other reporters are fascinating, much more exciting than those boring old "newsmakers" out there. Why interview a stranger about something significant, interesting or new when you could just talk to the guy in the next cubicle about what he brought for lunch?

It is the logical extension of reporters interviewing other reporters. This is called a "debrief". When a story breaks, there often isn't time to edit a packaged story, so the host will interview a reporter. The reporter talks about what he learned in his interviews. This, naturally, is WAY WAY BETTER JOURNALISM than, I dunno, letting the people with first-hand knowledge of the issue explain the details.

I know, I'm hot when I talk like a crazy person. You aren't the first to notice.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Random Weirdness x7

Unfit Mother has tagged me to take part in this meme. Here are the rules:

  • Link to your tagger and post the rules. (Done.)
  • Share 7 facts about yourself, some random and some weird. (Oh, dear.)
  • Tag 7 people at the end of the post and list their names. (More work?)
  • Let them know they were tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs. (Seven comments in ONE DAY? What is this, a place of debauchery?)
Seven facts about myself. Hmmm.

Here's the problem: I am a very boring person. Facts about me are certain to be rather boring, especially if they are random and/or weird. Unfit Mother has no idea what she is unleashing upon you.

1. I am very picky about curtains. I searched several cities before I found the ones hanging in my living room. They have multicoloured stripes and are tab-top style. We then picked the wall colour to match the curtains.

2. At work today, I learned how to turn a playing card into a crack pipe.

3. I have had an elliptical exercise machine in my living room for the last four years, and I have wanted to get rid of it for almost all that time. Steve believes (wrongly) that we could sell it. I believe (correctly) that we should just bring it to the dump.

4. Today I weighed myself and measured my waist. I have gained four pounds but lost an inch since the last time I weighed and measured myself. I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it a success or a failure? Wait, this is me we're talking about. The smart money's on "failure".

5. I'm a huge Survivor fan. On Thursdays, I leave work before 5:30 so I can be home in time to watch the show. I order pizza so there's no cooking or cleaning to do. (Yay, Domino's!)

6. Although I tell people I'm from Newfoundland, I've now been living in Name of Town Withheld longer than I lived in that province.

7. I thought for a long time about who I should tag. In the end, I decided to tag some of the people who write blogs I read every day but haven't linked to over on the right.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Megan is rings like a bell through the night; would you love to love her?

Reader-submitted question: How do you feel about the idiots on Facebook who do not understand verb tenses? I recently saw "Susan Smith is hangover." The last time I checked, it would be impossible for Sue to be "hangover." Do you get as angry as I do and actually call these guys on their stupid mistakes?

Signed TOIUOT (Tired Of Improper Use Of Tenses)

I probably get more angry than you do, but no, I don't usually call them on it. Facebook idiots are civilians. They are not targets for Little Miss Know-it-All.

Facebook contributes to the problem by requiring all statuses to be in the present progressive tense, like this:

  • Megan is bleeding to love her.
  • Megan is looking out for love in the night so still.
  • Megan is going her own way.
Present progressive means that the action is continuous and is happening RIGHT NOW. You can usually write sentences in the present progressive, although sometimes you'll need to stretch a bit: "Megan is thinking that the walls need a new coat of paint" and so on.

Some people don't understand this. These people end up with something approaching the title of this post. You stare at it for a moment, furrow your brow, and wonder if you should gently explain how to use the word "is". However, I do not recommend this, because your friend may change his status to something like "[name of friend withheld] is a little concerned that people are checking his status for grammatical errors -- you know who you are". You probably wouldn't want that.

Your hangover friend, however, is in a different category: a person who does not even understand the difference between verbs, adjectives and nouns. This person needs remedial help and should probably stay off the Internet entirely for the next few years while he studies grade-four English.

Facebook statuses do cause me a lot of grief, but fortunately it is not for the same reason. Most of my friends have figured out how to use the present progressive tense, so I don't have to pull Little Miss Know-it-All out very often. I am more concerned about the people who provide far too much information about themselves. This is a bit like the semipornographic photos of your former roommate, except that you can't avoid statuses. For a while, I was getting an updated list of one person's evening plans in much more detail than Prudence McPrude could handle. Even now, I squirm when I look at this person's status. I don't want to know that she's (wink, wink) tired, and I don't want to know WHAT the heck "crack filling" could be.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dieting advice you only thought you wanted to hear

As a wise reader told me: Everyone wants to know about the magic bullet, but really the magic is the SOUL: the free will, floating above the appetites of the physical nature.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I climbed a mountain and I turned around

Reader-submitted complaint: It's not possible to have a serious conversation with you.


Oh, you're saying you don't like this.


I disagree. I think it's very possible to have serious conversations with me, but when you try to steer things in a particular direction, I get uncomfortable and resort to bad jokes.

See? It's all your fault. (I could pass for a journalist, couldn't I?)

Are you visiting from Aurelia's blog?

You're looking for one or more of these three links:

Okay, now *I* call foul

I was trying to be open and transparent and all that Web 2.0 stuff. And then I discovered THIS on Facebook just a few minutes after I posted the poll.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I'm so afraid of the way I feel

Steve has asked me to do a poll about his new hair cut. I am sick today and vulnerable to suggestion, so here goes.

First, look at this photo. It is the way his hair looked yesterday morning. It was long and shaggy, but somewhat more fashionable than my dad's 1973 'do.

Now, look at this photo. It is the way his hair looks now. He went to a stylist who cut his hair and then convinced him to bleach random hairs on the top of his head. I do not want to know how much this cost.
I have made my opinion known, but Steve is a believer in the wisdom of crowds.


Honestly, I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often. People are far too generous when reporters ask really dumb questions.

Welcome, discipline enthusiasts?

I've been linked somewhere, but I don't know where and I'm too freaked out to investigate. Is it the House of Pain or the Wife Beaters for Jesus?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I call foul!

Reader-submitted complaint: You misquoted me! I demand a retraction! WHERE ARE MY MEDS?

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Coffee will be on me.

This came from a friend of mine who is also a former journalist. I apologise for the misquote. It's an honest-to-goodness misquote, not an editing error or the result of putting similar complaints together. It is entirely my fault. I was trying to answer a few similar questions at the same time, and put more effort into finding an appropriate Hoff photo than I did into accurately reproducing the original complaint.

The reader has offered me a choice between identifying with "post-modern ironic sort of downtown Toronto wannabe" or "hopeless girl from a small outport town who doesn't get it". Again, I'm not sure which of these things is worse. However, if forced to choose between them, I have to say that the "wannabe" puts the first option completely into unacceptable territory.

I know a few Toronto types like Ms. Eckler over there on the left side of the page, and while they are extremely annoying, they cannot help themselves. They drink nonfat soy lattes and spend significant amounts of time thinking about their social statuses. They are to be treated with a mixture of disdain and pity. Disdain because they are pathetic creatures, and pity because they really believe they could never be anything else.

The wannabes are even worse. You can always pick the wannabes out of a crowd, because they do not actually like nonfat soy lattes or brown lipstick. There are not many of them in Name of Town Withheld, because they quickly discover that they do not have to pretend to be total assholes to be successful here.

So no, I'm NOT a post-modern ironic sort of downtown Toronto wannabe. If I show signs of becoming one, please whack me over the head.

This leaves me with "hopeless girl from a small outport town who doesn't get it". Hmmm. I am reluctant to say that I identify with this label. Isn't there usually a third option on these things? This feels like the sort of question Stephen Colbert asks his hapless guests.

I will admit that I have lived in small towns most of my life. Even Halifax is not particularly large, and when I lived in Quebec, we were in a suburb of Montreal, not the city itself. For more than half of my life, I've lived in towns with fewer than 3500 residents. I was terrified in New York City. Heck, Calgary feels overwhelming. However, I've only spent a few years in outports. And do I have to admit to being an out-of-it loser who can't get a joke?

Complaining Reader, you win. I am a hopeless girl from a small outport town who doesn't get it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint

Reader-submitted complaint: Your blog has perverted my mind. The first thing I saw when I came here was a big picture of David Hasselhoff without any underwear on. I'm not sure why I came back. Then the other day I was talking to a friend about her church and she said she was into Christian discipline. I was certain she was going to tell me about her sadomasochistic rituals.


Who would have thought that a blog written by the most prudish person I know would arouse such perversions in its readers?

I really am the most prudish person I know. This is significant, because I know a lot of people who you might think would be candidates for this title. I'm not going to name names, because I'd get another reader-submitted complaint. (And the people who would complain about this are harsh. They don't restrict themselves to my disclaimer.)

Actually, I have to rephrase that. I'm not actually prudish. This has taken me a long time to figure out, but I am not a prude. Yes, I am in shock, too. I think I was happier before I knew this. I don't want to believe it.

I love you guys. I really do. I'm sorry that I've corrupted your lily-white minds. I didn't mean to do it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


"Maybe if we tag-team her she'll take all of the Hoff pictures down."

Reader-submitted complaint: You have a very dry sense of humour. I can't decide if you're a pitiful girl from the sticks or if you're an extremely cool, ironic Toronto type.

Well, I can't decide which of those things is worse.

You are not the first to say that I have a dry sense of humour. This is why I had to banish Uriel, after all: my own cousin thought that I was picketing outside vaccination clinics and sacrificing muskoxen in the name of banana-based proofs for the existence of God.

I have also had a number of questions about my true opinion on this photo and others like it:

Yes, that is David Hasselhoff. Yes, he is almost naked. Yes, he appears to be halfway into or out of some sort of drag outfit. Yes, I adore this photo.

I really don't know what to tell you guys. Isn't it obvious why I love the Hoff?

Trick or...I mean, uh, NICE OUTFIT!

What is the proper etiquette when it's October 31 and you're not sure if a person is wearing a costume?

I was at the coffee shop yesterday, where two women caught my eye.

One was wearing a straw-blonde wig and far too much eye makeup. However, I wasn't able to determine what she could possibly be dressed as: Britney Spears? (Nope, no Cheetos in sight.) Paris Hilton? (Nope, no crabs in sight.) I watched her surreptitiously for a while, trying to figure out if this was her normal outfit or if she was making some sort of post-modern statement.

The other was dressed as a naughty A&W lady. No, this does not make sense, which is why I thought at first that it must be a costume. However, I quickly remembered that A&W ladies are not exactly a common fetish like nurses or police officers, so I then thought that it must be the woman's work uniform. That was before I realised that this particular outfit would likely be some sort of health-code violation if worn by a professional in the food-service industry. It was also not the sort of thing any normal person would be wearing at this time of year in Name of Town Withheld.

I mentioned this to a friend while we took our kids trick-or-treating, and it turned out that she had had a similar experience earlier that morning. However, she hadn't been confused: she had been fairly certain that the person was in costume. (It turned out to be the person's normal clothes. Yikes.)