This is a totally work-safe video.

It is also the suckiest/awesomest thing ever. And book-related.

Wow, eh?

It reminds me of a high school talent show.

Or the faux videos Dawson on Dawson's Creek used to do, where all his friends totally couldn't act and the camera work was questionable.

(Yeah, baby. That's a Dawson's Creek reference. Next I'll hit you with a little Les Miserables/Joey Potter action....)

Have good weekends....


happily ever after, you say....

Ok. I may have told you this one before, so I apologize.

But, briefly, when I was in first year, I wrote a paper about the downside of Elizabeth Bennet's happy ending. My point was that Elizabeth, like Sophia in Tom Jones, had to sacrifice everything she stood for and believed in to fit the author's idea of a happy ending. Which, in turn, fit the expectations of their time.

Drop Elizabeth in 2009, and Mr. Darcy's a snob she best wave off. (Ten years on I kind of think the world is lacking in Mr. Darcys, though.) And Sophia? Tom Jones is a ridiculous, Don Juan-lite figure. If he'd been a little more strategic and a little less accident-prone, he'd have been the John Mayer of the 18th Century. Girl: Walk Away.

Similarly -- spoiler alert -- Marianne Dashwood is a victim of her happy ending. Yes, marrying Colonel Brandon sets her for life. Even though he's 19 years older than her. And poorly drawn. And boring as all get-out.

I'm obviously not the first person to say that in the last 200 years. Sorry. And don't even get me started on my dislike of Edward Ferrars. He goes bumbling through the book, all, "Oops, did I lead you on? Did I not mention I'm engaged? Well, if I'm lucky, I'll get dumped, and we'll get married and I'll irritate the hell out of you forever, Elinor!"

But here's an excerpt from near the end of the book -- as if Austen herself were really reaching to tie it all up with a neat little bow:

Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to
discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract by her conduct her
most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in
life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively
friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another -- and that other, a man who
had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment whom,
two years before, she had considered too old to be married, and who still sought
the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!
I have a feeling that, in late-18th/early-19th century parlance, the flannel waistcoat is the rough equivalent to the windbreaker.

In other news....
  • The next book club selection is Obasan. No date yet set for discussion, but the next hostess is crossing her fingers the novel gets the TSS Cool Seal of Approval.
  • I love this bit from the April Vogue profile of Beyonce Knowles: "One senses that Beyonce wants to join the very small pantheon of pop superstars -- Cher, Diana, Barbra -- who went on to big dramatic-film careers. If she stays away from silly movies like Obsessed, she might actually have a shot at it...." Yow.
  • I'm taking a low-brow (?) detour, reading Love the One You're With. Basic premise so far? Happily married woman happens to pass an ex-boyfriend on a random street in New York, sending her into a spiral. Excerpt?

"My favourite movie of all time is probably When Harry Met Sally....
What I had yet to learn, though, is that things are seldom as neat and tidy
as that starry-eyed anecdote you share documentary-style on a couch. What I
figured out over time is that almost always, when you hear those stories
from married couples, there is a little poetic license going on, a romantic
spin, polished to a high shine over time. And unless you marry your high
school sweetheart (and even sometimes then), there is usually a not-so-glorious back story. There are people and places and events that lead you to your final relationship, people and places and events you'd prefer to forget or at least gloss over. In the end, you can slap a pretty label on it -- like serendipity or fate. Or you can believe that it's just the random way life unfolds."
(p. 7-8)


books! books, books, books!

I've been doing some serious book shopping lately. And, sort of the best kind -- travel guides, text books for a course I'm taking this summer. I had to order the texts online, so it's like a present waiting at my doorstep each day.... A present bought by me for me.... Still. Presents.

So far, I've received this one and this one.

But the one I'm most excited about is called Supermedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World.

Sends a chill down your spine, right? A chill of excitement?

Ok. Turning off the geek chatter now. Must focus entirely on Lost season finale.



She was stronger alone, and her own good sense so well supported her that her firmness was as unshaken, her appearance of cheerfulness as invariable, as with regrets so poignant and so fresh, it was possible for them to be. p. 127


a little book-keeping

I know, third post in a day. But for those who read brilliant title to go here via RSS feed, you may not have noticed some link editing to the right of the site.

Gone is Mahspace. My colleague Bill Mah gave up his blog months ago in the name of workplace time management.

Added is The Keepin' It Real Book Club blog, a thoughtful evaluation of all kinds of books. Not at all limited to the newest paperbacks or hardcovers suggested by Oprah, these guys take on anything and everything.

Also, Austen Blog...She's Everywhere (Insert mockery, I know.) Believe it or not, there is new news about Jane Austen pretty much everyday. Pretty unbelievable given her death about two centuries ago.

(Dear Seth Grahame-Smith: I picked up your Austen-Zombie mash-up this weekend and died a little on the inside just by reading the first couple graphs. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in search of more brains." Seriously? Seriously! Blarg.)

Last, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. It's smart, it's quirky, it's cheeky. And whoever thinks people who read romances are stupid has never read these chicks.

Speaking of romances, did you catch May's copy of The Walrus? I didn't either. And, I only got through some of this article about the history of Harlequin. I honestly don't know what's wrong with my attention span, lately.

But if you only get one thing out of the link to The Walrus, you must take a quick skim through the gallery of past Harlequin covers. So artistic! So sexy! So.... oddly specific....

on mourning music

Sometimes, when I walk down Jasper Avenue or along the aisles of the grocery store, I find myself humming. Or whistling.

I don't really do this on purpose; in fact, sometimes I'm kind of embarrassed to hear myself. But in a way, I think of it as a moment with my grandfather.

I know that sounds silly. My grampa passed away 15 years ago.

He was a military man who loved music. He made mixed tapes for everyone in his life -- his family, his neighbours, friends at the local Legion, even waitresses who mentioned in passing a fondness for Edith Piaf. Growing up, we always knew when he was coming home because we could hear him whistle as he made his way down the hill.

I just finished The Year of Magical Thinking, which I technically did not enjoy. I found it depressing, found myself thinking about my grandfather, about loss, about death. I found myself crying randomly, over tiny things.

But today, when we discussed the book in book club, I found myself defending Joan Didion.

At worst, reading her memoir of grief feels voyeuristic, like reading a diary after the writer has given in, completely, to sadness and self-pity.

At its best, however, the book is like a love song with a chorus of questions running through it.

In a way, nothing particularly tragic happened to Didion. Her husband, in his 70s, passed away at the kitchen table. She, at about 70, struggled with grief and loss and a dreadful kind of sadness that made it nearly impossible to truly believe her husband was gone.

That is life.

But it's an interesting idea that a full-blown, all-of-a-sudden tragedy, when a young person gets shot to death for example, draws out our greatest sympathies. We might think of a person wallowing in the day-to-day tragedy of life as self-pitying, or self-indulgent.

As much as I did not enjoy the book, that seems a little unfair.

a random Shakespeare moment you can't live without

Mercutio: True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy;
Which is as thin of substance as the air,
And more inconstant than the wind, who woos
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence,
Turning his side to the dew-dropping south.

Juliet: O, swear not by the moon, th'inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable...