Monthly Archives: June 2012

Happy Canada Day!

This is one of  my favourite holidays. I only cry on Canada Day and Rememberance Day. Not even Christmas can get me this emotional. I guess that I’m pretty patriotic. So, I raise my glass to Canadians everywhere and to everyone who loves their country as much as I love mine.

Here’s one of the best Canadian songs ever: Canadian, Please.

P.S. Yes, I’ve berated myself for not reviewing a book by a Canadian author for this occasion…but, I’ll be sure to have one reviewed for Remembrance Day.

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Arbitrary pics 2: Butterfly Gardens, British Columbia

A few pics from the Butterfly Gardens in Victoria, B.C.

All pics are courtesy of John Hunt

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This is SO going on my reading list…

Book of words

With a book dedicated to analyzing psychopaths, a group that often brings to mind stereotypical terms such as ‘deranged,’ ‘emotionless’ and ‘dangerous,’ it is hard not to be attracted to it.

I was half expecting to read about the infamous Jack the Ripper or some other brutal serial killers, only to have author Jon Ronson dig deep into the mind boggling business for psychopaths.

“I remembered those psychologists who said psychopaths made the world go around. They meant it: society was, they claimed, an expression of that particular sort of madness.”

Starting off with the most widely used diagnostic test for psychopathy, the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which the book’s title is based on, Ronson laid the foundation with an ‘official’ definition.

“Psychopaths are predators who use charm, manipulation, intimidation, sex and violence to control others and to satisfy their own selfish needs,” Bob Hare, creator of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist…

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Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler

Steven Tyler‘s autobiography is not for the faint of heart. Goody-goodies stay away…or expect to put in a lot of time, because you will not be able to read this book all at once and will spend a chunk of time shaking your head in dismay.

It took me a long time to read it. I kept looking for depth (the guy’s well into his 60’s, so if he wasn’t deep before, you’d think that with age, he may have gained some). And some parts of the book are so far from where I want to be that I couldn’t even go there in a book. I had to keep coming back to it, determined to finish it.

Not that there aren’t any readable parts, but they are few and far between; especially after the first chapter and during the first half of the book. The writing has a strong tendency to lack heart. It seems like you’re just reading a long list of stuff that happened to a giant ego that’s proud of having done some seriously deranged things; things you’d rather not know that other people actually do. (Read parts of Chapter 2, for example, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) It’s mostly empty and devastating: this happened, then that happened, after that the other thing happened….crime, sex, drugs, music, sex, drugs, crime, sex, sex, sex, drugs, drugs, music….really…sad, disturbing and boring.

And, now, for the positive side of it all. There are parts that are interesting and, even, have heart, which are the parts that draw you in. For example, when he writes about the fairies in the forest around his parent’s cottage or trying to communicate with aliens when he was a child…clearly, he was imaginative right from the start…or when he writes with passion about music in the first chapter. Or, the honesty in describing detox:

“While you’re going through detox, you’ve got to believe in something other than a pill craving and fuck me and fuck you and I’ve got to have it. You can knock the idea of some Higher Power, but you’ve got to believe in something or you’re just going to sink back into the muck. You’ve go to try and see things from a different place. I’m now thirty light years away from that person I was the, yet twelve years later I sill had to get tweaked again.”

On page 243, he talks about how he came up with the lyrics to “Dude Looks Like a Lady” (interesting because you get a glimpse of the creative process) and why he stood behind them (“…in a commercial world, it’s good, and not only is it good, but it gets under the hood of what everyone hides: the gay thing”). Chapters 11 and 12, may also be interesting as he talks about what touring is really like (exhausting, pricey and you’re little more than a money making machine) and what being married or having a significant other in the industry is like (ultimately, it’s a case of back to being lonely). In a nutshell, the second half of the book is better; more real.

Oprah recently did an hour-long show interviewing Steven Tyler. They talked about the book, among other things.

(Note to self: don’t read rock’n’roll biographies if you can’t handle it.) (Further note to self: lighten up!)

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Right, so just when I was sure that there wasn’t any intelligent literature for teens, someone proved me wrong…cool.:)

We broke up because he left the inner layer of his camouflage coat in my hall closet and I don’t shoot animals, or hook them. 

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (art by Maira Kalman) is one of my new favorite young adult books.  I’m really picky when it comes to young adult books, probably much more picky than I am with adult books which means on a scale from one to ten – I am a giant horned cactus of picky.

Anyway, Why We Broke Up is the perfect, perfect, perfect young adult relationship book.  Did I say perfect?  It’s unbelievable.  I felt like I was in high school all over again and nearly fainting when a guy wrote on a piece of notebook paper “I can’t stop thinking about you.” Granted, I never used my locker so there wasn’t any ruled paper notes slotted into the blue metal…

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The Three Little Pigs, read by Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken reading a children’s classic…relatively amusing…sorry for the quality.

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Adieu mes quinze ans by Claude Campagne

I’ve never been a fan of North American literature for teens. It lacks intelligence. Especially, in recent years…if I see one more book that involves vampires or werewolves; over-the-top, special-effect-type drama; situations that wouldn’t happen in real life…well, I don’t know, I suppose my head will explode or something. Luckily, there are alternatives.

“Adieu mes quinze ans” is a book for teens that I first read when I was 7 or 8 years old and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve guarded it fiercely in my (unfortunately) reduced book collection all these years and return to it regularly. It is a book that involves mystery, but it unfolds gently, with honesty, tenderness, intelligence and respect for its characters and reader. Within the first chapter, the reader is drawn into the story….

Fanny is 15 years old, attends a Lycee 7 km from her home and takes care of her 20-year-old brother, William (who works as a carpenter), and their grandfather (a retired sailor), whom they call Captain. They live simply, in a town called Fauvembergues; in a house they call Sundial, a small part of the property that used to be owned by local gentry.

One day, Captain invites a Norwegian girl to live with them, but is elusive about why. Fanny becomes worried about the changes this stranger will bring to the peaceful home. Right away, it seems to Fanny that Ingvild may take over everything she loves. Including Yann, a young man who is new to their town and has slowly become a part of their family. Seems like everyone is captivated  by Ingvild. Especially, Yann.

And, then, there’s that letter from Yann’s mother that questions his decision to stay in Fauvembergues…”wouldn’t you do better to give up your search altogether? There’s nothing but disappointment waiting for you my boy. I told you that that man was only informed about certain…” And that’s all.

It seems that only the Captain and Yann know what’s going on.

All that Fanny knows is that something very profound has been set in motion. Something that needs to be handled with care and that will change her and Sundial in unexpected ways.

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