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Archive for September, 2009

It’s funny sometimes to think about all the technological advancements that have happened in our lives. When I was a little kid,  I listened to music on a little plastic record player. I called my best friend Snuffy on a stationary rotary phone. I handwrote all of my school assignments.
But slowly but surely, these things began to change. Records became tapes which became CDs which are now non-tangible digital files. Rotary phones became touchtone phones which became bulky yet portable cellphones which are now so small women everywhere spent half of their days rooting through their purses to find them. And computers . . . well they’ve gone from taking up entire rooms to being small enough to carry on our person*.
Anyway, I often wonder, with the kind of leaps and bounds we’ve experienced in the last couple of decades, what will happen in the next decade of development. I mean I like to think that the stuff we’ve got now is less crazy than the stuff in a Life Magazine gallery I came across recently . . .

tvglasses(1963 TV glasses by Hugo Gernsback)

But who knows? Maybe my kids will look back at my now state-of-the-art iPod and laugh at how quaint it is in the face of their new streaming audio Cochlear implants. 

Not being an inventor/engineer it’s hard to anticipate how things will go from here and sometimes progress takes longer than expected (I’m still waiting for my hoverboard, Robert Zemeckis!), but it’s still pretty interesting stuff. What say you, blogging audience? What technological developments can you see taking place in the next ten years? Guess now so we can all marvel at your forward thinking/intellectual sorcery in 2019!

**As an added bonus, two more of my favourite pictures from the dumb inventions gallery**

babycageThe 1937 Baby Cage! Attaching to the frame of any modern window, the cage was designed to allow infants to get fresh air and sunshine. I guess the idea of taking them for a walk in a pram paled in comparison/excitement to shoving them into a rickerty modified chicken coop suspended over a busy street. You go, baby daredevils!

curvedbarrelThe 1953 Curved Barrel Shotgun! If you’ve ever been in a trench shooting at Germans and thought “You know, I have way too much face to be doing this!” then this gun is for you! (It can also be used for shooting around corners.)

*Funnily enough, the save icon in many computer programs is still designed to resemble the floppy disk, the last version of which was produced in 1999 and the drive for which no longer exists on most modern computers.

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coupland

As you might know from reading my blog, I am a Canadian and proud to be one. There are many reasons to be proud of Canada. It’s a beautiful country. We’re down with gay marriage and universal health care. It’s awesome here.

However, what is not awesome here is our messed up version of Canadian celebrity, specifically when it comes to the world of words. There is a system that has been established over the years with publishers which pushes certain authors forward. If your writing or your style fit a certain bill, they brand you “theirs” and show you off to the world as an example of Canadian literary success.

One of the authors that has benefitted from this virtual literary caste system is the author Douglas Coupland. Coupland was something of a post-modern poster child in the 1990s as he wrote a number of snappy pop culture books that sold reasonably well in the national and international literary market. He was also deemed something of a nomenclator as he added the terms “Generation X” and “McJob” to the modern venacular.

Woo for him.

In any case, the way our system is designed here, once an author is in the upper echelon, they are pretty much guaranteed that everything they produce from then on out will be a success. While on one hand, this quaint insular system is nice because it promotes national talent, on the other, it  also  screws things up because, once someone is pushed to the forefront, they stay there. Whether or not they turn out to be a flash in the pan or they lose all inspiration doesn’t matter. Name recognition is a greater force than merit, so once you’re in, you’re in.

And, unfortunately, it seems as though Douglas Coupland knows this and, as a result, it seems he has pretty much given up trying when it comes to his writing. His last three books have consisted of two sequels (one of which he wrote himself into as a character – megalomaniac much?) and a book where it turns out that the entire story didn’t actually happen but was instead the result of someone’s adult education writing assignment.*

In any other case, mining old material for new and using a cop-out ending like that would be cause for concern. I can almost guarantee that, were I to have handed in any of these three texts to my old creative writing professor, she would have handed them back to me with the words “try harder!” written in big, bold, red letters on the front.

But coming from a notewothy author like Coupland, this literary laziness is perfectly acceptable. In fact, it’s lauded. It’s nominated for literary prizes. It’s worthy of fame and acclaim and works as a platform for other endeavours. Want to make a movie? Sure! Want to design a park? Great! Want to produce, not one but two pretentious art photography books depicting plastic loons drizzled in Maple Syrup? Fan-freaking-tastic! (In fact, why don’t you do a follow up book called “Turds in Tuques”? That’ll be super-subversive!)

I don’t know if it’s because people are still residually dazzled by his decade-old successes or because people are too afraid to admit they don’t get it anymore, but as far as I’m concerned, someone needs to cut through the unyielding circle of sycophantic f*ckwittery that surrounds the man and tell it like it is . . . so here goes.

Dear Mr. Coupland,
As someone who read and enjoyed your earlier work, I am writing you to today to ask that you stop believing your own hype and go back to writing decent fiction. If it takes a while to write another book, so be it. Do not let people confuse you into thinking that you are an industry first and an author second. This is very wrong. Read, recharge and renew yourself before you ruin your legacy with watered down knock offs of your original successes.
Please.
Thanks and best wishes,
Girl

** This is basically the post-modern equivalent of  the old “It was all a dream” ruse, a trick Coupland actually pulled in “Girlfriend in a Coma” where part of the book turns out to be based on someone’s apocalyptic coma dream. *sigh*

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It’s the obligatory catch-up post after abandoning my blog for two months!

torontopostcard

How I Spent My Summer Vacation*

1. I went to the organic market about a dozen times. This probably means I am about a step away from being one of those bizarre hipster/hippie hybrids (“I love Interpol and hydroponic radishes!”), but the food was amazing and definitely made our summer meals more kickass.

2. I ordered books off Amazon for the first time. I loved it as it combined my two favourite things: mail and books. I have actually been reading my butt off this year and to date, have managed to plow through 53 different titles. I keep a book journal, so I’ll go through some of it and make some recommendations in another post.

3. I got my haircut short after finding my favourite hairdresser of all time again. When I couldn’t track her down in the spring, I thought that it didn’t matter who cut my hair. Boy was I wrong. Not only did the other girl I went to not do what I asked her to at all but when I asked her to fix it, she practically threw a fit at me. So after a little internet detective work, I managed to track her down and got a kicky new cut. Nice!

4. I saw my friend Sally act as a Raptor in the Toronto Fringe Festival Production of Jurassic Park. The show was great and Sally kicked ass, especially during her special kitchen tango.

5. I went through a bunch of our apartment and cleared out old clothes/toiletries. While doing this I discovered two things:
a. I owned a lot of stuff with the price tags still on that now no longer fit (Whoops!)
b. My husband hordes Irish Spring soap. I couldn’t tell you why Irish Spring, but should there ever be a zombie apocalypse, at least we can face it smelling Mountain Fresh!

6. I helped Sally make the wedding invitations for her and Jack’s Nightmare Before Christmas wedding and they turned out pretty awesome.

7. I went to see a double screening at The Bloor which was hosted by Edgar Wright, who was in town directing the Scott Pilgrim movie. Although I was unable to participate in the filming (I got called back, but couldn’t go), it was cool to get to see him in person. He is very small and British.

8. Some friend of ours (Zoe and Wash) had a baby so we went to see him when he was 5 weeks old. Very very cute but, in spite of the rash of pregnancies in my group of friends, it’s still something I am not ready for. I’m hoping to practice being an aunt first. 😉

9. I went to Sally’s bridal shower where I discovered the world’s tastiest cupcakes and made a seriously kick-ass paper plate hat. Is there such a thing as a professional paper plate hat designer? Because I would be totally down with that.

10. I managed to get the worst mosquito bites of my life. They were superbad considering:
a. I got bitten 4 dozen times at our wedding last year and none of those bothered me.
b. They were almost all on my feet. The thought of taking a belt sander to them to end my itchiness was seriously considered.

11. I went to a party with a bunch of my old retail compatriots (including Henry who managed to land a teaching gig – woohoo!). It was back in the suburbs where I grew up and it was one of the first times in a long time I felt comfortable being there. I think I associate the area with a lot of my painful, growing up stuff so it was nice to do something fun.

12. We seriously considered getting a dog. A friend of ours tipped us off to a free bulldog puppy and, as Boy is a huge bulldog enthusiast, we spent the morning having angsty phone call after angsty phone call. But, at the end of the day, we realized that we aren’t quite ready for the responsibility and expense of a dog. Maybe in a few more months. . .

13. I celebrated my late twenty something birthday. Not only was I lucky enough to be able to celebrate 4 times, but Boy gifted me with a brand new iPod since I filled up my old one. It’s purple and awesome.

14. Boy and I went to our first TIFF screening. We got tickets from a friend of Henry’s and we were both super-excited until absolutely everything went wrong. First the movie projector broke and then someone pulled the fire alarm 20 minutes to the end of the movie and we never got to see the finale. Then after we were kicked out of the theatre (to make way for George Clooney!), we decided we would go for pizza, but when we got to where the pizza place should have been, it was gone. Talk about Murphy’s law!

Anyway, I think that’s pretty much everything remotely interesting that’s happened in the last could of months. Hopefully, I’ll be a little more focused on things around these parts in the coming weeks.

Cheers!

* Does anyone else remember the Tiny Toons Special How I Spent My Summer Vacation? When I was younger I loved that specially, specifically the part where Elmira went to some sort of African Lion Safari rip off and tramautized all the animals. Oh cartoons . . .

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Head Cold, Baby!

Now that I finally have some time after the chaos and craziness of the summer, I was going to sit down and write a post about everything that’s been going on since my last update. However, instead because I’m currently ill, I decided to have a bit more fun and write a song for everyone’s enjoyment.*

It’s to be sung to the tune of  “Love Shack” by the B-52s** and I think it’s pretty good considering that I am currently on three different types of drugs. Here you go!

b52s

If you’re next to girl who’s sneezing up a storm
Then you know that you might  . . . get a Head Cold! Head Cold, yeah!
I’m heading down to the pharmacy,
Looking for the thing to cure me,
Something to cure me, cure me
I got me a pill and it’s as big as a whale
And I hope I can swallow
With this Head Cold
I got me some drugs, think I’ll take about 20
So hurry up and see me doped up funny!

This head cold is a stupid old flu
That makes me feel exhausted.
Head Cold baby, Head Cold Bay-bee!
Head Cold baby, that’s where it’s at,
Oh, Head Cold baby, that’s where it’s at!

I say . . . Woo . . . Stay away fools
‘Cause snot rules with this Head Cold!
Well it’s here in my head and it’s messing with my brain
Makes me wish I was dead ‘cause it’s really getting old.

Tissues on my mattress,
Tissues in the Rocket***,
Tissues on my desk here,
Tissues in my pocket

This head cold is a stupid old flu
That makes me feel exhausted
Head Cold baby, Head Cold Bay-bee!
Head Cold, that’s where I’m at!

Sneezin’ and a Coughin’, Hackin’ and a Wheezin’
Feelin’ less than pleasin’
Cause my body is freezin’.
My whole head’s spinning!
My whole head’s spinning with everybody
Moving around and around and around and around!
My whole head’s spinning, bacteria is winnin’ baby!
Folks run away when they see my sick face
My whole head is spinnin’ bacteria is winnin’ baby!
Stupid little cold! Stu-pid little cold!

I’ve got decongestants,
Each as as big as a whale
And I hope they don’t fail!
I got me some drugs, think I’ll take about 20
So c’mon and see me doped up funny!

This Head Cold is a stupid old flu
That makes me feel exhausted,
Head Cold baby! Head Cold bay-bee!
(Head Cold, Head Cold)
Head Cold, that’s where I’m at!
 
Bang, bang, bang on my head baby!
Knock a little louder baby!
Bang, bang, bang on my head baby!
I can’t hear you
Bang bang on my head
Bang bang on my head baby
Bang bang
You’re what?… Sore Throat, busted!

Head Cold, baby Head Cold!
Head Cold, baby Head Cold!
Head Cold, that’s where it’s at
Head Cold, baby Head Cold!
Sick baby, that’s where I’m at
Sneezin’ and a Coughin’, Hackin’ and a Wheezin’
With my Head Cold!

* I make up many a song at home out of boredom, much to the distress of my lovely husband, Boy.
** Do you think the guy from the B-52s who did this song and Rock Lobster puts on that crazy voice for show, or do you think that he really sounds that way at home? Because if I were his wife, that would scare me.
*** For those who are not Toronto based, we used to refer to taking public transportation here as “Riding the Rocket”. I am not fully sure why they abandoned this slogan as it made the ride to work seem a bit more magical.

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