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backing talkwards

so, it appears that i've finally met my linguistic match: i cannot figure out a way to learn hebrew or arabic. yes, these languages are known for being difficult for english speakers to acquire; their alphabets, vocabulary and grammar are completely alien to begin with, and on top of that, they're written backwards. ok, not backwards. the languages are written from right to left, the opposite of how english is written. [no, i take that back. far more languages are written from left to right, and in every human society, norms are designated by the majority. your languages have every right to exist, but they are fucking backwards.]

although they can be daunting at first, i'm no longer frightened of different scripts. in my limited experience, i've found that russian is easier for me to master than polish. i was lucky enough to be selected to alpha test the forthcoming japanese course from duolingo and, while i can't quite get the hang of the kanji yet, hiragana [whic…

making faces :: reviews you can't use

ah, the horror that is the limited edition. i mean, i understand why companies release products in fixed quantities, because it tends to bring in a lot of money in a very short space of time, but it can get really frustrating. some companies at least go through the planning process with an eye to keeping an item available for a season. generally speaking, i'd say that the highest-end, or so-called "prestige" brands are the best at this, not because they really want their customers to have the opportunity to feel comfortable about their purchase, but because they realise that customers are less likely to spring for a single $75 item, even if they might buy a $50 eyeshadow palette with little thought.

that intro paragraph is my way of saying "i'm sorry that i'm only reviewing this item now that it seems to be sold out everywhere".

i haven't followed kat von d's makeup releases, although she increasingly seems to be a major player in setting the c…

armchair centre back :: premier league over and under [2016-17 edition]

i did a list like this last year, offering my self-important opinion on who was rated too high and too low by fans of the english premier league. now, as i'm watching things unfold, i keep evaluating players, managers, teams and even fans on the basis of what's being said about them. am i an expert? no. but i'm an observer, so of course that gives me every right to hold forth on all my thoughts with the same confidence as someone who's been paid to play and/ or follow the sport for decades. herein lies the wonder of the game.

of course, before i get into it, i feel like i have to observe a moment of silence for my dear swans. it has not been a good couple of seasons. 2014-15 made it seem like we were ready to rise like a soap bubble to the upper level of the premier league bathtub. ok, swansea were never going to be in the upper echelons, because they just don't have that kind of money; but the past two seasons have been pretty wretched sequels to the thrill ride …

presidenting is hard

i'm caught in a new sort of anguish. on the one hand, i'm hearing the apparent leader of the united states tell one of the world's largest journalism organisations that his new job is harder than he thought it would be, and that he assumed it would be easier than his life as a businessman [where, let's face it, he'd long since ceased to be an active daily participant] and reality television star. i mean, one look at the before and after pictures of the last three presidents should be enough evidence that, yes, the job is really goddamned hard. all three of those men began their two terms looking somewhat younger than their actual age, and left looking like elder statesmen. come on, there's a reason they do those presidential portraits right after you're elected.

on the other hand, i'm a little surprised at his candour, which is as close to the man admitting he was wrong about something as we're likely to get over the next four or, god forbid, eight…

homeward bound, or, curious and terrible things i have learned while hunting for an apartment

for some months, dom and i have known that we have to move when our lease is up, at the end of june. after years of struggling with multiple sclerosis, dom is basically confined to a wheelchair, and we live in a third floor walk-up. this is dangerous, but it's also depressing, because it means that he's confined to the apartment 24/7. and what someone with multiple sclerosis absolutely does not need is something to push him more and more towards depression. with the vast majority of montreal leases rolling over on the same date, the 1st of july is a moving nightmare. you'll pay through the nose, because movers cannot cope with the number of customers they have on that day. you'll run hours late, because there's always some hitch that stops things dead in their tracks, that then cascades down to all the others who are waiting for the same movers. you'll face frayed tempers that border on murderous the later it gets, because you have new tenants arriving before …

making faces :: inspired by fire and ice

i don't know why, perhaps because i'm starting to worry that the end of the world is nigh, but i found myself thinking about this verse earlier in the week:

Some say the world will end in fire, 
Some say in ice. 
From what I’ve tasted of desire 
I hold with those who favor fire. 
But if it had to perish twice, 
I think I know enough of hate 
To say that for destruction ice 
Is also great 
And would suffice.

i've always held robert frost at a bit of a distance, although i do love "stopping by woods on a snowy evening" and especially "acquainted with the night". [no self-respecting insomniac can exist without loving that poem. if you don't, you're an insomnia dilettante.] but there's something about the short piece above that strikes me as a kind of saying, like "a stitch in time makes nine", except that it makes more sense. it's almost too short to be a poem, and falls closer to the part of an axiom.

how we get from robert frost to makeu…