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Showing posts from October, 2016

who goes there? [part one]

although i came to it late, i'm a huge fan of arrested development. i can thank dom for introducing me to the series a couple of years after its untimely demise, and we've since watched it together so many times that we can quote almost every episode from memory. [and we still occasionally find little things that we hadn't noticed before].

one of the things that i wish had been given more attention, though was buster bluth's history as a scholar. with his oddly specific disconnected interests, it's apparent from the beginning that he's meandered through a number of specialties without ever becoming much of an expert in any of them. although the bluth family's ignominious tumble from financial grace forces him to withdraw from his eternal cycle of grad school programs, we see that he's learned archaeology, eighteenth century agrarian business, native american studies and dance [having taken a class at the university of mexico city]. i have to say that i…

critical failure

i had my first taste of linguistic humiliation yesterday. i. am. so. disappointed. in. myself.

yesterday was the day i finally made a trip to librairie michel fortin, a bookstore dedicated entirely to the wonder of languages and language learning. it's a mecca of instructional books of all sorts, for all levels, and on different themes. you can find exercise books, common phrase books, books with audio cds [and a couple with download codes, which is surely the way to go]. there are massive sections on french, english, spanish and italian, with chinese and arabic not far behind. but you can also find breton, basque and mongolian. and on top of that, there are books of fiction and poetry you may know only in translation. and for those who crave something a little more direct, there are also books about insulting people and making out in different languages. it is packed to the rafters with awesome.

as i was browsing, i noticed that there was a book that combined learning of romance …

making faces :: making scents

right. attempt number two at this post. i literally had this completely finished last night when blogger decided to eat all my work. hopefully it's not so contemptuous of my time tonight.

first of all, you can thank dom for the title of this post, because i was about to call it "making smells" until he convinced me that that had some unpleasant connotations. of course, the world of scent isn't necessarily connected to the world of cosmetics, which is normally what "making faces" posts are about, but since they're often conflated in terms of marketing, i'm just going to moosh them together under this heading.

i find that talking about perfume is a lot like talking about wine: i rather enjoy doing it, but after about three sentences, i know i'm out of my depth. basically, everything that comes out after that is along the line of "i like spices" and nothing more. it actually took me a long time to figure out not just what i liked in a sc…

so the world hates me

i just spent over an hour- nay, over two hours- writing a lovely blog post. it was such a good blog post, you wouldn't believe it. it was the best blog post. and now it's gone. like it never existed.

fuck you, blogger. fuck you right in the ear.

because now, i've wasted two hours. now, i realise that i could have been doing something fun, or productive or basically anything other than what i've been doing, because what i've been doing essentially no longer exists.

and my butt hurts, because i've been sitting in this chair too long.

when i first moved to montreal, the movers i hired lost one thing: the box with all my writing in it. everything i wrote before i was twenty-four is gone. i still think about that a lot. it still haunts me, because it's like i found out my liver had never existed. it's supposed to be there.

and i know it was just a blog post. it wasn't going to change the world. it wasn't going to be the blog post that rocketed me to…

mental health mondays :: vote with your crazy [u.s. edition]

since i did a post on this subject for last year's canadian election, i figured it was only fair, given the amount of blog space i've dedicated to our neighbours to the south, to do a version for the imminent united states election. after all, with issues like the economy and foreign engagements getting buried in an avalanche of hacked emails and pussy, there's pretty much zero chance that either presidential candidate will ever mention mental health.

but that's ok, because it's not really the president who's going to decide these things, but the congress. so while you might want to fire some questions at hillary or the donald over social media [and you might even get a response], this post is intended more for candidates running for senate or congress, the ones who are more likely to come knocking at your door or ringing at your phone in order to win your vote in three weeks time. there may be lots of things that it would take to win your vote [even if you'…

i know all about you

the more i watch political coverage [and, as you've probably guessed, it's a lot], the more i start to wonder about trump's supporters. a friend sent me this brilliant article yesterday, which explains a lot of the frustration and anger that comes out of the people who are supporting the man who promises to "make america great again": poor whites, college educated white men struggling to maintain their tenuous hold on the middle class, evangelical voters for whom the city is a place that embraces everything they stand against. it's a compassionate article that helps explain the position of trump voters in a way that not enough people have done. yes, many of those people, whose anger is being weaponised by this campaign, are scary as hell. but that does mean that they have no business being angry to begin with. 
but there are a lot of other things that need to be said about people who are supporting trump, because if we don't say them, we're essential…

mental health mondays :: all about us

i've fallen desperately behind on a number of projects, which means that i'm very, very late posting this week's mhm. even worse, i don't really have much to say today, but i couldn't let things slide, because october 10th is/ was the world health organisation's "world mental health day".

the theme this year is "psychological first aid". fortunately, this is a subject on which i've already posted, so it's like i have a contribution ready to go. but that said, there are far better articles available from the who.

this week was supposed to be reserved for a specific post, which i'll be doing next week instead. last year, i did a special "vote with your crazy" post on evaluating the major political parties' stances and plans on mental health and suggesting questions for politicians who come canvassing for your votes. so next week's post is going to be "vote with your crazy :: the american version". i'…

the art of the feel

you knew i wasn't going to let this go without saying something [coincidentally, that's the line that donald trump uses to hit on women after he grabs them].

unlike a lot of people, i was actually kind of surprised by this one, not because he said what he said, of course, but that a man so accustomed to media culture would be so cavalier to say such things knowing he had a mic strapped to him. i'm not saying he knew the mic was live, but that's the thing about microphones- you don't know when the sound guy has turned them on, so it's best to assume they could be recording you at any moment. donald trump knows that. he was at least aware that it was a possibility that what he was saying was being recorded, and he didn't give a shit. because to him, what he was saying was no big deal. he knew that if it ever came out, he'd just shake it off as boys being boys, as locker room conversation or something. [in case anyone wondered why those quiet, thoughtful,…

shut up

general reaction seems to be that last night's vice presidential debate was close to a draw, with a slight edge going to mike pence [other than among cnn's panel of independent voters, who overwhelmingly chose tim kaine as the winner]. i feel that's an accurate assessment, although it's largely a question of personal preference. pence absolutely projected the stoic, unflappable, unwavering image that many americans [not just republicans, either] seem to like and equate with strength. for my part, i prefer someone who's a little more mercurial, someone who's able to gets excited about ideas and who's able to expand on them, not just repeat talking points.

so, from my point of view, both vice presidential candidates were pretty disappointing. i found that kaine had a fantastic command of facts and history- he knew pence's voting record better than pence knew his and possibly better than pence knew his own. his opening answers were so smoothly delivered i…

mental health mondays :: talk therapy?

we live in peculiar times, my friends. i could give you hundreds of examples [and you could give me far more], but one of the ones that occurred to me this week with regards to mental health is that we at once encourage people to be more open about their mental illnesses, as a way of normalizing these struggles and to help remove the stigma of having a disorder, while at the same time, our media is littered with stories of the scary psycho, the dangerous psycho, he tremendously inconvenient crazy person, or the person who seems just fine on the outside. to say that our messages on mental health are mixed is like saying some people like chocolate: there's a level of understatement that borders on deceptive.

so what should we be doing in order to have a more rational discussion about mental illness? you think i'm going to be able to answer that? ha ha. i'm flattered. not gonna happen. but i do have some suggestions that i've picked up from my own battles, from stories p…

tongues, twisted

the more i've started learning languages, the more i've become fascinated by what i call the "logistics of language". by that, i mean, the ways in which languages develop, the ways in which they spread, the ways in which they are related and the ways in which they are eliminated. i am fascinated by this chiefly because all of these things are happening at the same time, all the time and, for the most part, none of us know anything about it. consider that: language is not merely the method by which we communicate, but the method by which we think, and we have no idea what's going on with it.

a lot of us know a few basic things about language: mandarin is the most widely spoken, english is spoken in the most countries, greek and latin have had a huge influence on almost all european languages, indo-european is the largest language family. but there's a lot more going on than that. so this post is a compendium of fun facts and graphics about language.

there are …