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Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

Remember how my printer stopped printing in black last week? I figured out that it needed a new printhead (the thing that the cartridges snap into).

Kodak, in keeping with their policy of making replacing parts more difficult than just buying a new product, doesn’t make it easy to get one. You can’t buy it in a store or find it to order on their website. In the spirit of Make do and Mend, though, I was determined to replace the faulty part.

Finally I got a number for Kodak tech support, spent 20 minutes on hold, then managed to convince a very polite but not particularly knowledgeable man in India (“So you are saying that you need a new printer head, ma’am?” “PRINThead. I need a new printhead”) that I didn’t want to buy a whole new printer (even with a 25% discount!) and he let me order a new one. It only cost $25 and will extend the life of the printer for another two years or so, but sweet raptor jesus it was an annoying experience.

Also, my efforts to make a “Free Snooki” t shirt are being foiled by my not being able to find iron-on letters anywhere. When I was a kid you could get them at Zellers. I may have to make a stencil and use fabric paint.

AND the poster I ordered for Ben’s birthday, which is this weekend:

"Would you like some teeeeeeeeeeea?"

will not get here until Monday at the earliest.

AND ALSO I cannot get an Archos 70 in this country. Archos, I want to give you $350 in exchange for this product. Why won’t you let me buy the damn thing? It’s not like you can’t get it here. Canada is right next to the US and you can buy them there! Actually, I’m thinking of getting my mom to buy one in Hilton Head and mail it to me, but then I wouldn’t be able to return it if there’s a problem.

OH AND TOO I wanted to post a picture of the delicious vegan muffaletta sandwich I made (eggplant, roasted red pepper, spinach, olive salad in a giant round loaf) but the EEE’s card reader stopped working AGAIN and I can’t find the nano-USB cable that connects the camera to the computer, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations.

Why does life have to be so goddamn difficult?

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Editor’s note: Oops, looks like I forgot to make a post for the podcast…that came out on Monday. Sorry!

60: Stir-crazy.

– You know how people used to think fiction was bad for you? Maybe fiction is bad for you.
– I tried to keep telling myself “This is actually good! You don’t have to bullshit!”
– For some reason whenever there’s a deadline, that’s when your printer suddenly decides that it won’t print in black anymore.
– And I actually wrote that in my notes, with about 87 A’s.
– I think I need to read up on Rimbaud or get really blitzed on absinthe in order to understand it.
– If you’re an expert on Rimbaud: kaythecomplainer@gmail.com
– I’m running around like I’m trying to stop a submarine from exploding!

Link.

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So tonight I was supposed to go to a meeting for an art song group a friend of mine is starting.

I am not there, and this is why:

7:00 – Finish teaching. Huh, it’s raining a bit.  Put on waterproofs.
7:00-7:45 – Bike to the general area of where the meeting is.  Get pretty wet (since my boots aren’t waterproof and my stylish waterproof coat has a hole in it).
7:45 – Realize I have no idea what a) the name of the church we’re meeting at is, and b) exactly what intersection it’s at.
7:45-8:00 – Keep biking, hoping that I’ll recognize the place when I see it.  Even though I’ve never been there before.
8:00 – Stop and try to call my friend who’s organizing the group.
8:01 – Realize my phone is out of batteries.
8:02 – Sidle up to a Starbucks to pick up their wifi signal.
8:03 – Discover that my Ipod, which was in my pocket, is wet and acting really weird.
8:04 – Go into Starbucks, buy a latte, and try to log in to the wifi and get into my inbox.
8:04-8:20 – Wrestle with my Ipod (GAAAAAAAAAHHHH), which is freezing, opening random programmes, opening and closing windows, and generally being really fucking annoying.
8:20 – Finally get into my inbox and comb it for relevant emails.
8:27 – Find the original email invite.
8:28 – Find that the email doesn’t contain the name or address of the church.
8:29 – Say, “Oh, fuck it” and go home, getting soaked to the skin in the process.

Seriously.  If I believed in God I’d say he was trying to keep me away.

Anyway.  I’ve sent an apology email, gotten into dry clothes (EVEN MY BRA WAS DAMP), eaten massive amounts of carbs, and tried to get the dogs to go outside and pee, I’m feeling more or less human again. And my Ipod seems to have recovered from its seizure, thankfully.

Now for some beer and ice cream, I think.

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In which Kay sees a hobo yelling into a payphone, reads the Toronto Sun (Shorter Toronto Sun: AAAAAAAAAHHH!  WE’RE GONNA DIE!), and posts some of the recording she made last week.

The aria is “Son vergin vezzosa” from I puritani, recorded by Paul Talbott with Michael Rose on the piano.

As promised, another piece of egregious trash I have read.

Link.

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1:45 PM – Get on bicycle to go to teach. Notice it’s snowing a bit. Considering taking bike on subway to first lesson. Realize I have no money and no time to go take any out. Shrug, get on my bike, go.

2:10 PM – About halfway to my first lesson, snow suddenly gets much heavier and it’s windy. Curse my fate and continue.

2:15 – Bike gears stop working, so am stuck in 3X6 going uphill.

2:15-2:45 Continue to curse my fate.

2:50 Arrive at first lesson five minutes late, very hungry, and completely exhausted.

5:10 – Manage to grab bagel in between lessons.

8:40 – Finish teaching. Bike towards Tranzac for PRO gig.

9:10 – Eat massive falafel.

10 – PRO gig for a small but appreciative audience. Have great time.

1 AM – Ben and I get a ride home from my friend Chris Warren. Bikes are stuffed in the back seat, Ben and I are stuffed in the front seat.

1:30 AM – Get home, realize we’re both starving, make some food.

2 AM – Madeline decides that since we’re up, it must be daytime, and starts howling at Gus to wake him up.

2:01 AM – I calm Madeline down by throwing a blanket over her and speaking in soothing tones.

2:30 – Bedtime.

10 AM (today) – Wake up and contemplate the future.

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Dear Rita,

Many years ago I read your book Rubyfruit Jungle with great pleasure. It’s not every writer that can make a lesbian Bildungsroman a light-hearted and fun read. Also, if you had never written anything except the title of your first book of poetry, you would have earned my respect, because The Hand that Cradles the Rock is an awesome title for a book of feminist poems.

True, I haven’t followed your later books, largely because most of them were co-authored by your cat, and I am allergic to books which feature animals as either authors or protagonists (or both). So whenever I saw “Murder, She Meowed” or “Claws and Effect” at the library I did nothing except wish you and Sneaky Pie well and move on.

All that changed the other day. I went to the library to pick up R. Crumb’s bizarre rendition of Genesis, which I had put on hold, and happened to see one of your books: The Hounds and the Fury. A quick glance told me it was a murder mystery involving foxhounds and foxhunting, which is exactly the sort of book I always think I’ll like, so I got it.

Well.

Ms. Brown, as someone who has written (according to Wikipedia), some 38 full-length novels, I would have assumed that you had mastered that whole “show, don’t tell thing”. I seem to have been wrong. Not only does this book begin with a detailed description of each character – and why are there so many of them, anyway? – including the foxhounds, the horses, and a variety of wildlife – but peppered through the book are explainy explainy boring statements like this:

Freddie wanted to be like Sister, but she was too concerned with her effect on others. Beautiful as she was, this made her vulnerable. She needed praise to feel feminine, to feel good. Sister woke up in he morning feeling good.

How ’bout something like this instead?

Freddie turned to Jason. “Oh Doctor,” she said, “tell me more about your work.”

Jason smiled down at Freddie, making her heart race with anticipation. Funny, she didn’t even like him much, but his smile made her feel warm. “Well, Freddie, how much do you know about medicine?”

“Oh, not much,” said Freddie, a smile blazing across her perfect face. “I mean, my father was a doctor – but I never took much interest.” Freddie kept her eyes locked on the doctor’s, and her two years of pre-med to herself.

I wrote that last bit, by the way. Yes, it’s horribly cliched and stupid, but at least it gets across the idea that “Freddie is insecure and gets male attention by belittling herself” without a boring descriptive paragraph.

Even when you do actually show a character doing something, you immediately follow up by telling us what that shows about the character. Like this:

“Are you alright?”
“Fine. Tired. […] Sam was in the hospital.” He held back he small detail that Sam had been shot. He was tired and didn’t feel like indulging in speculation with people who weren’t close.

Yes, thank you for pointing out the Gray didn’t tell Iffy that Sam was in the hospital. I would never, ever have noticed that in a million years if you hadn’t pointed it out. No, actually I would have, and I would have thought “Huh, that’s odd. Maybe Gray doesn’t trust Iffy. Maybe he suspects Iffy. Hmm…” and it may have added a modicum of interest to the plot.

There are a lot of other unlikeable things about this book – the constant defense of riches and privilege, the ham-handed and unrealistic race relations, the way you keep sticking references to saints’ days in the middle of things, the fact that you not only anthropomorphized all the animals but made them capable of conversing with each other. (OK, if they could talk, I can see how foxes and dogs would communicate, being closely related species, but why the fuck would an owl be able to talk to a horse? They’re wildly different animals with very different lifeways – horses are domesticated pack mammals, and owls are pair-bonding predatory birds – not to mention cognitive abilities. Both horses and owls are pretty dumb, true, but dumb in different ways: prey dumb and predator dumb, bird dumb and mammal dumb, big dumb and small dumb.)

Also the gender essentialism is pretty disturbing, considering your involvement in the feminist movement. I’m talking about statements like this:

“Once a man takes a position publicly, he rarely backs down or seeks a comprimise. It’s a particular failing of the gender…with great effort, especially from friends, most women can be brought around to seek a comprimise.”

Or like this:

Sybil appreciated Shaker’s thoughtfulness. Her marriage, a disaster, had left her a single mother. She liked her sons to be around real men, and Shaker was about as real as it got.

Never mind that feminists have been trying since the seventies to deconstruct the stifling confines of gender roles, to free us all from the idea that there are sets of behaviours and actions that you must adopt if you want to be a “real man” or a “real woman”. You want your gameskeeper character to be a Real Man, so you make Pathetic Single Mom use him to heteronormatize her sons.

(To be clear, if these two characters – Sister and Sybil, respectively – had said/thought these things as a demonstration of their subtle sexism and hidebound gender essentialism, that would have been fine. If a non-feminist writer had written that, it would have merited an eye-roll or two. But coming from the mouths/brains of the two most sympathetic/lionized characters in a book by an ostensibly feminist writer it makes me think, “What the fuck?”)

Speaking of characters, why, again, are there so many of them? By page 200 I was still flipping back to the list at the beginning to check who Betty was again, and what her relationship to Crawford was. And you do realize that the three private school girls could have been rolled into one? That what they’re there for – to show that Sister is a hip old lady who loves young people – could have been distilled down to a couple of sentences in the middle of the hunt.

But I digress. I read all sorts of awful books, and I could have forgiven all this – it still might have been an enjoyalble read – if it hadn’t been for the egregious Mary Sue that you put at the centre of your book.

I’m sure you intended Sister (Jane Arnold) to be an earthy, fierce, inspiring older woman, full of life and vigour and still sexy in her seventies. You certainly make a point of telling us how fantastic she is on every other page. Sister is perfect. Sister can do no wrong. Sister has a primeval instinct for horses and hounds. She knows everything and can both turn a young man’s head AND beat him up.

Unfortunately, as you have written her, Sister is unbelievable and annoying. I’d like to see her actually interacting with someone without them flattering her. I’d like to see her make a mistake or have a weakness or do something to hurt someone. Because then she’d seem like a human being instead of a slightly older and heterosexual embodiment of Rita Mae Brown’s superego.

I have two possible theories for how this horrible excuse for a book came to be:

1)You have complete and utter contempt for your audience. I’m guessing your publisher’s demographic research has revealed your audience to be privileged but unintelligent women aged 50-75, so you tailored your book perfectly to them, being careful to explain everything clearly so they wouldn’t miss out.
2)You have lost your touch and now write self-absorbed bilge.

I lean towards 2) but the facts could support either case. By the way, the denouement comes totally out of nowhere and there really are NO clues (other than Iffy’s hair not falling out) pointing to who the murderer ends up being. Lazy plotting.

On the plus side, you do say lots of nice things about hounds, which I appreciated, being the owner of two Beagle/Bassets. If my dog Madeline could read I’m sure she would have enjoyed it.

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After another unsuccessful audition yesterday, I spent all of today doing nothing. Nooooooothing. Nothing.

Literally, this is what I did today.
9 – Got up, made coffee and muffins. Moped.
11 – Recorded and edited my podcast.
12 – Grocery shopping. Grocery store resembles a zoo. Why, if I don’t have a traditional day job, do I always end up in the grocery store on weekends? Little old lady tries to get ahead of me in line. I defeat her the Canadian way: by pointedly ignoring her and standing very very close to the cart ahead of me.
1 – Had lunch. Moped.
1:30 – 3 – Read old comment threads on blogs I like.
3 – 5 – Attempted to install Unetbootin on my eee so I could create a bootable usb drive on it.
5 – Fed dogs.
5 – 6 – Gave up on eee, attempted to make bootable usb on the Mac again.
6 – Gave up. Tried to boot eee again and realized I’d messed up something vital once more and it’s having seizures.
6 -7 – Moped.
7 – 8 – Bath. Moped while in the bath.
8 – Restored eee to factory settings. Started blogging….

And here we are. I was going to say that for having done nothing all day I certainly don’t feel very relaxed, but looking back on it I actually did a bunch of frustrating stuff. True, I didn’t accomplish anything, other than buying potatoes and dried beans, but I was certainly doing stuff for at least 25% of the day.

I feel vaguely out of sorts, a bit stuffy, a bit achy in the shoulders, a bit dissatisfied with my lot in life. Is this what it’s like to have a real job where you do pointless and frustrating things on a computer all day while wishing for things that are just out of reach?

If it is, I certainly understand why people get depression and headaches and lower back pain. The symptoms of life my ass. Maybe we should call them “the symptoms of a wasted life”. Seems more accurate.

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