lefty says sad, yuppie be shameful

Now, I don't actually shop at Greenwoods, but learning one of Edmonton's independent bookstores is closing its doors is always sad.

It's also hypocritical to get too upset about it, lefty or not. I must confess I'm a Chapters shopper.

Yes, I make the random trip into Audreys, and I check the offerings at Wee Book Inn at least once a week (because who doesn't love used classic books? and why pay full price when you know there are 1,000 copies of Jane Eyre floating around out there?).

In Ottawa, I positively lived off Perfect Books. When I lived there, I honestly did not shop for books anywhere else. Even after I moved away, staff at the bookstore remembered me for the weekends I would come back to visit my brother and his partner and drag them to the store. After an hour, Mike and Sarah would wait -- slightly irritated but patient because I was a guest -- by the door while I did my best to fill up the regular customer card that could land me with five, 10 and 25 per cent off my more expensive purchases.

But here in Edmonton, I'm a Chapters girl. It's so sad, eh? I don't know what's happened to me. I feel like I accidentally bought into Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail, where he explains people want good books and good coffee and they want it cheap. Is that what I want? I'm not sure.... I like that Chapters has more choice than anywhere else. I like my discounts (how embarrassing) and I like sipping a Starbucks coffee (gawd, I sound like such a yuppie), and I like listening to the banter of idiots.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Do you think anyone wanders into a place like Greenwoods asking if the staff have ever heard of "Bronty"? Or asking if they've maybe got the book based on the movie "There Will Be Blood?" I don't think so. Classy independent bookstores do not draw morons, they draw snobs. And snobs are not funny (unless they are wearing berets). And on a Sunday afternoon when I want coffee and the New York Times and a game of Cranium and an environmentally-friendly shopping bag and the fastest-possible access to the latest Sophie Kinsella novel, I also want to be peripherally entertained by stupid people.

All of this makes me a bad person.


go, go, go!

Yay! The Jane Austen Book Club is finally out on DVD!

But how did Hugh Dancy get tossed off the cover?


So, there are many brilliant pundits out there putting forward great big thoughts on what this particular provincial election means to Alberta, and we're all trying desperately to believe it means something, even though -- to be totally honest -- Albertans really are going to usher in a fourth decade of Tory Power.

Thus, I must admit my attention isn't actually drawn, at all, by the real news of the day when it comes to Steady Eddie and the other boys stomping around Wild Rose Country promising change but not too much change since everything seems to be working so well anyway.....

Instead, I offer up Joel Kom's joke blog again. For the record, his entire blog is not a joke. In fact, he's one of the pundits with the great big thoughts to put forward. But about once a week he goes off on a wild rose tangent you've just got to love.


oh dear

Even I know this isn't a good thing.

I'm not sure I imagined Becky Bloomwood as being so stylish. I always figured she'd have lots of pencil skirts and jackets and then the odd fadish pair of shoes or accessories as illustration of how much ridiculous time and money she spends on shopping.

Of course, the bigger affront here is setting things in New York. It would be like filming Bridget Jones in Vancouver.


some thoughts from the edge....

  • I fancy myself a chick flick connoisseur. That's right, connoisseur. I was thinking about my chick flick know-all last night when playing the Disney version of Scene It (lost it). But I hate, hate, hate Pretty Woman. (The channel formerly known as TBS is showing it ad nauseum today.) Modern-day Cinderella story, my ass. This is a story about a man who picks up a prostitute, and yes, she's pretty and Julia Roberts, but it completely skirts the actual issues of drug addiction and fear and sexual abuse that go hand-in-hand with the sex trade.
  • The previous book club selection created a couple hours' worth of discussion today on what exactly feminism is, what it's place in our society is, etc. Apparently I am the only one who -- rather breathlessly -- feels Carol Shields has changed her life.
  • The next book club book is What is the What, by Dave Eggers. Already started it. Love the language. Will update later.
  • Still wallowing in pain. Thus, spent much of the evening re-reading Pride and Prejudice as security blanket.



So maybe I'm bored. But check this out -- dreamy, no?

As I wrap up Cat's Eye, I have a couple quotes to share....

"... chivalry in men is idiocy in women: men can get out of a rescue a lot more easily, once they get into it." (p. 320)

"Most mothers worry when their daughters reach adolescence, but I was the opposite. I relaxed, I sighed with relief. Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized." (p. 133)

*Spoiler warning*

I've just read the part, in the present, when Elaine sleeps with her ex-husband. I find this fascinating and blurry. I find it cloudy and unreasonable and despite the author's best explanation I can't understand it.

"I don't feel I'm being disloyal to (my husband), only loyal to something else; which pre-dates him, which has nothing to do with him. An old score." (p. 414)

Epic tales of a man's life always seem to have adventure, world-conquering adventure. Women's epics always seem to have sex. And not even wild, random sex with multiple partners like you might find in a different kind of men's epic novel. Rather, it's slightly experimental but ultimately sad and unfulfilling.

another heart

Have I mentioned often enough that I love, love, love Jennifer Weiner? She put the first chapter of her next book up on her blog, so thought I'd share.

happy red-heart day

So, I'm kind of broken.

I mean, not unfixable or anything. Just sorta.... broken. My back is sick, so I have to lie around lots. On my stomach. The lying about is interrupted by 15-minute ice-downs. It's all very fun, I've gotta tell ya. I'm currently eating Pringles and watching a "Valentine's fantasy" episode of As the World Turns. Mock freely. I'm trying to figure out what makes the Valentine's fantasy episode all that different from the, say, Monday episode. The storylines seem to be more outlandish, believe it or not. Also, the actors are overdoing it even more than usual. One guy is trying to pull off a Cary Grant 'tude. Eek.

Anyway.... caught a few links to share with y'all.

For those keeping track of my house of dreams, I offer this website. So cool! So now my house'o'dreams would include bookshelves-turned-stairs, a mural of Audrey Hepburn in the kitchen, and a garden of tomatoes. Goh-geous.

Totally unrelated to weird book obsessions.... Have you met Bill Mah yet? Wanna man-date him?

If he's not the journalist for you, try Joel Kom. He possesses a shocking amount of Calgary Olympics knowledge matched only by his Alberta political trivia.

Happy Valentine's Day, people. Think of me, lying here, whining to myself, as you go off to candle-lit dinners and other adventures.


the end

I think we can all agree this is the end of literature. The death knell. Everything that is wrong with technology, plus torrid romances.

(Also, I'm done with sharing a Czech word of the day. Partly because it's embarrassing that my progress is stumped by my inability to pronounce or remember many things. Partly because I can recognize the word for passport -- pass -- now, and can order a drink. So I'm good. Right?)


so.... you came back

Thank you, readers, for putting up with my Czech obsession. Word o'the day is "di-ko-yoo", or thank you.

Um, also apologies to anyone who is Czech who happened to come across this website. I think I'm butchering your language because I can't quite mimic what I hear.

(Wouldn't it be awesome if my blog became a what-not-to-do in a Czech as a second language class somewhere? Or if children in a classroom in Prague were laughing at me right now?)

Quick share: This is awesome. Just awesome.

Now, I've got to get back to Lost. Very important. Lots to discuss with co-workers tomorrow.



"this one"

[Quickly, on books.... How do I count the ways I love Jennifer Weiner? And on media.... What to say about this? I really have no comment. I could say something about the time men have on their hands to objectify women, but it's not like I've never objectified a man before. I guess.]



(Czech word of the day, means "okay" or "fine.")

A video to share. So hopeful! Too hopeful?


word of the day....

proseem: please

(Warning: these are not correct Czech spellings. This is just how I hear it on the CD. And I was wrong about beer. It's actually bevo. So now I can say "bevo, proseem," if for some reason my body is taken over by aliens and I wish to drink a beer. I can also say, "oochet, proseem," which means I want the bill. I plan to keep y'all posted on my slow learnin', so proseem bear with me.)

In other news.... I'm professionally jealous of John Ghazvinian, who's written an entire book about something I've always wanted to write a book about -- or maybe just a few stories -- oil in Africa. This is similar to how I felt when I found out about Carol Off's book, which was also on a topic I'd planned to explore one day. Apparently I lack original thought.

And this story for some reason made a friend of mine very angry. Now, I don't want to steal her thunder, as she may take this time to post a comment on why she hates things. But in the meantime, I have to say Roy MacGregor's piece on a small-town hockey team losing its players to a bad road accident 21 years ago is exactly the kind of feature story a national newspaper should be covering. Because of the tragedy at Bathurst. Because mothers and fathers all over this country put their kids on buses on days when the weather is too bad to go anywhere, but we're Canadian and we muster through and hope for the best. Because MacGregor's a beautiful writer and this particular story brought me to tears. And I'm not a big one for the tears.


You know you're curious....


Czech this out! 2

Apparently the key languages anyone could ever want to know are French, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Spanish and German. I have to assume this since tapes and workbooks and phrasebooks dedicated to these languages hog the vast majority of Chapters' foreign language shelves.

Tucked into "other languages" lies two tiny Czech phrasebooks and one Czech phrasebook/CD. Well, the phrasebook/CD was tucked in among "other" until I bought it today. Now I'm listening to the CD and feeling overwhelmed. Apparently any language that doesn't sound like French or English makes my head swim. So far my memory only allows me to remember "ahoy" (hello) and "beero" (beer).




Today is the first of my three-day weekend, payoff for working last weekend. And it’s a gorgeous day in Edmonton -- yes -22C, but the sun is out and if you could ignore the snow you’d want to wear a skirt. (Can I say how much I look forward to wearing my summer dresses again? I really miss summer.)

So, right off the top, I offer the best Saturday morning mix I can think of:

Love Today, MIKA
When the Night Feels My Song, Bedouin Soundclash
I Am Your Tambourine, Tift Merritt
Anyone Else But You, Moldy Peaches
Kaboom!, Ursula 1000
Wake Up, The Ditty Bops
Non je ne regrette rien, Edith Piaf
Soon We’ll Be Found, Sia
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’, Scissor Sisters

I know, my “eclectic” music taste is questionable. My brother, who is far more talented in this area, would come up with something much better. But I like dancing around my living room on Saturday mornings. It’s my thing.

On that image, let’s go to books.

Despite my ever-growing pile of must-reads, I’m re-reading a favourite Atwood.

To read Margaret Atwood immediately after reading Carol Shields is to step through the looking glass. Yes, you’re still pondering on feminism, but you’ve tilted. Forward? Sideways? Certainly not backwards. If both are angry to start, then perhaps Shields’ voice is vaguely uncomfortable and confused by its anger whereas Atwood’s voice embraces the anger, spins it, makes it bizarre while stabbing at the truth.

Cat’s Eye is set in the late 1980s and the late 1940s at once. At once Elaine is the girl who sits awake at night picking the skin off her feet to give herself a pain to focus on, and at once she is the middle-aged woman hyper aware of what others think of her while at the same time somehow lost without the anchors of husband and home.

(Why must women be hyper-aware of what they think other women think of them? What is that? Do men do this?)

At the start of the book, your heart breaks for young Elaine who doesn’t know the games that girls play. You search through your own memories, hoping you never did such things to other girls -- never made them rethink every word they said over the day in a desperate search for the one thing they said wrong.

But I always find the wanderings of modern Elaine more fascinating, as she trips through a Toronto that’s utterly changed from the one she knew as a young person.

(Why does the bulk of Canadian literature sit in Toronto? Why do all the greatest literary minds live in the GTA?)

From the book, a comment on the author herself (I think):

“Well, what about, you know, feminism?” she says. “A lot of people call you a feminist painter.”
“What indeed,” I say. “I hate party lines, I hate ghettoes. Anyway, I’m too old to have invented it and you’re too young to understand it, so what’s the point of discussing it at all?”
“So it’s not a meaningful classification for you?” she says.
“I like it that women like my work. Why shouldn’t I?”
“Do men like your work?” she asks slyly….
“Which men?” I say. “Not everyone likes my work. It’s not because I’m a woman. If they don’t like a man’s work it’s not because he’s a man. They just don’t like it.” I am on dubious ground, and this enrages me.
(p. 101)