Yeah, but do they have liner notes, huh? Do they?

Wow, only a day into hols and I’m already… well, as Bertie Wooster might put it, if not actually disgruntled, I am a long way from being gruntled.

See, I’d popped over to check my TV Tropes watchlist earlier and noted an edit on the Seltzer & Friedberg page, which I have spent some while nurturing from bare crumbs into a tasty snarkeriffic treat…

…past tense. The mods had ‘wiped and locked’ the page — basically, removing all individualistic content and replacing with the version — citing concerns over ‘negative’ writing. Or ‘juvenile’, as per a first draft of the replacement text on the talk page.

Which… yeah. OK. Not to start ranting outright here, but S&F were responsible for Epic frelling Movie, ferPetesake. I don’t quite see how society at large is benefited by protecting them from negative feedback. As I pointed out in my huffy talk-page note, that way ultimately lies ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space: Ed Wood’s misunderstood masterpiece.’

Whereupon I wound up with the classic threat to take my Internet and go home, so there! — but on solemn reflection I don’t think it’s worth quite that level of huffy. Still peeved that that much work can be wiped out without my input, though. Granted, the wipe doesn’t necessarily redound onto my particular contributions, but it’s still hard to avoid the personal. Why, thank you, mods, for that lovely acknowledgement of many hours spent working hard to improve your wiki. Thank you so bloody much.

I’m also a bit discouraged to discover that once again, my particular writing talents are the… trapezoidal-or-something… peg in the square hole. At least it’s never dull, trying to find a compromise between reason and snark on the Net.

Vacation: I haz it again!

….well, technically I still have eight hours or so of work left to go, but hey, not sweating that little detail. (Primarily because I’m too busy sweating everything else, it having hit 42*C out there this afternoon. Having to walk home alongside a major highway in a heatwave: just one of the many, many little details I did not think through before moving to Brampton.)

Anyhoo, yeah, it’s been awhile. I’ve taken a few long weekends since this whole stress-o-rama started at work, but those were for, y’know, reasons. My main concern this upcoming week is to have as little purpose as possible, for as long as possible. And in the meantime, there will be chocolate.

And I can start it all early, that’s what really gets me. Back in my old department a week off would require a tense scramble first of all to find someone to replace me, meaning I’d just now be tearing my hair out listing all the things I hadn’t had a chance to fill my replacement in on, because I was frantically trying to get things done to the point where I had time to acknowledge her existence. Followed by an entire week spent fighting the urge to remotely check my email… and discovering, when I did give in around Thursday night, that I’d accumulated about 500 or so. Approximately 175 of which would be my replacement forwarding something and asking if I knew anything about it. Another 98 would involve Extremely Urgent Projects, with deadlines of, say, Monday, that never even got read.

Whereas here in Soft Home, I announced three weeks ago that I was taking this week off, and my buyer was all "Oh…OK."  All the deadlines just naturally resolved themselves around Tuesday noon, so by now I’m mostly about making sure I don’t have much to do the week I get back. With long, leisurely pauses to attend sample sales.
Not that I’ve been devalued, exactly — when I mentioned I was ‘thinking of moving’ the other day I had to add  ‘Apartments! Not departments!" really quick to prevent a major buyer meltdown — only that, well, you find yourself a lot closer to earth when the CEO is no longer just down the hall. Yes, I’m highly respected and completely irrelevant all at the same time! And it feels goooooooood.

So… I’ve got no money ’cause I’ve just paid the rent, but I do have this spacious, well-appointed — and let’s not forget air-conditioned! — apartment as a result… hello, pretend hotel suite!

I wonder how Pizza Pizza guys react when you call them ‘room service’…

Did I mention it’s in *really* nice font?

So I have just seen the final version of my… *ahem* the Bob & Ray CD liner notes. Which my article appears in. Which OH DID I MENTION I AM INSANELY HAPPY ABOUT THIS?

Because I so am. Tempered only slightly by the Grandshoes’ refusal to get into the spirit of the thing during a recent visit, especially once they found out I wasn’t getting paid. Yes, yes, I was probably a bit naiive and should’ve held out for more than a ‘cultural critic’ credit. On the other hand, I now have liner notes, whereas you guys have a weekly trip to Swiss Chalet Chick’n’Ribs to argue over who ordered the vegetables and why they don’t allow you an extra baked potato with your value meal.

…um, sorry. I do realise they’re, like, eighty-nine. The Peterborough Experience generally tends to have that effect on me — kind of the same effect that Idol forums do. Eventually, I snap and start blurting random stuff in self-defense of my sanity. Because there is no straight-faced way to handle the news that your elderly Aunty has run right out and bought wedges of actual sod to replace the burned spots on your Grandfather’s lawn, and they are now in her trunk. The sod, not the burned spots. Oh, and by the way, could I look up The Magic Google to find out how one installs fresh sod?

Anyway, liner note squee. It’s beautiful, really. Elegant font and everything. My words, in actual print — this remains a significantly different feeling from seeing them online; I don’t know why that should be exactly, but there you go.

And I will never have to proofread them again. This thing is becoming the adult equivalent of that speech on Canada geese I gave in the eighth grade, that made it to the school semifinals; a beloved memory of a literary success, except that why, exactly, is becoming increasingly fuzzy.  "The Canada goose is the most popular goose in Canada…"

Especially since this thing is designed to be read and appreciated almost exclusively by experts. (Face it, not a huge market out there for ‘Ooh, Bob & Ray? Sounds fresh and funky! I’ll make a playlist!") You know ‘pee shyness’? I think I have article shyness, sort of. I didn’t quite expect anybody to be looking.

Still… my words. In elegant font. On account of I am a ‘thoughtful’ cultural critic.

Life is good.

When Joy and Duty clash…

So I’m on a course of kidlit lately, and have just finished Kate Douglas Wiggin’s celebrated Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Also New Chronicles of Rebecca, which tells additional stories within the timeframe of the original.

There I am, reading along, enjoying the new insights that emerge when you reread a childhood favourite… when it hits me: this all sounds familiar. Very familiar. To wit:

Eleven-year-old Rebecca Randall, not beautiful save big, expressive eyes, is placed aboard a stagecoach for the long drive to her new home — a small  village on the Atlantic seaboard — during which she charms the kindly but rather slow-witted elderly driver with her nonstop, lively, original chatter, featuring hilariously inappropriate references to the adult melodrama she’s fed her starved young imagination on up to now.

She is being sent to stay with her maiden aunts, in place of her capable older sister, who was to help with the housework. One aunt is grimly practical, to the extent of dressing Rebecca very plainly; the other is softer-hearted and sympathetic, and insists that the girl have at least one pretty dress.

Upon arrival at their distinctive homestead, Rebecca quickly acquires an unimaginative but devoted best friend in the little girl across the way. Rebecca’s sensitivity to romance and drama, along with a natural gift for leadership, make her the hit of her stolid community — albeit not without getting into a lot of whimsically funny ‘scrapes’ along the way. 

In one notable incident, she has to endure unjust punishment from her mildly incompetent teacher, who forces Rebecca to stand at the front of the schoolroom with a boy she detests but who nevertheless has a mad crush on her. There’s also a notably malicious young miss whom Rebecca clashes with frequently.

Eventually, Rebecca is sent away to high school, where she widens her horizons and begins to look forward to a brilliant career. Unfortunately, a series of family crises — including the failure of the investments that had been providing her aunts with a comfortable income, and later the death of one aunt — apparently stifle that career before it can begin, and as the book closes, she has put her own dreams on hold to look after her family…

…Why, no, she doesn’t have red hair. Whatever makes you think that?

My copy of the Annotated Anne of Green Gables makes polite noises about L.M. Montgomery being ‘inspired’ by Wiggin (whom Lucy Maud had evidently read and enjoyed) but c’mon now. This isn’t ‘sharing many similarities’, this is the same damn book with some actions and attributes switched around.
Further musings under the cut…

I am so incredibly ticked off right now.

Not at the G20 protesters, so much. The peaceful ones were only exercising their just and justified rights… and the subhumans smashing into a Starbucks then casually grabbing a bottle of water from the counter (rampaging against the system is thirsty work, evidently) would only be energised further by my rage. Frankly I refuse to give them that satisfaction.

Also, I’m not that stupid. Go ahead, kids, have your fun; in a couple of weeks all evidence of your righteous crusade will have been removed, except that the ‘elitist pigs’ will now have a legitimate reason for their repression. Way to establish yourselves as a viable alternative, there.

No, my rage — and it is intense — is directed entirely at the *fith foul foul filth* officials who brought this on Toronto in the first place. Who thought it would be just a fabulous idea to transform one of the world’s largest, most vibrant cities into a battleground. Those *foul fith foul foul filth foulers* damn well knew this was going to happen, and they went ahead and did it to us anyway.

What the hell kind of benefit do we get from this, guys? The G20 leaders are blathering away in their cocoons about improving quality of life for Joe Random GTA Resident, while he’s left alone to deal with the soul-scarring fallout in their wake. Where’s the honour in worldwide media reports of smashed windows and burning police cruisers? What’s the point of spending 1.4 billion to protect, say, 100-odd people if you can’t keep their constituents safe?

(The efforts at spin control do provide some moments of grim humour. My favourite is CP24’s note: "Mayor David Miller says violent protesters not welcome in Toronto." Hear that, violent protesters? No complimentary pillow mints for you!)

As I write this, CP24 is now reporting that PM Harper has scored a ‘big win’ by convincing the other leaders to halve their deficits by 2013. Asked if this sort of agreement requires the leaders ‘sign on the dotted line’, the reporter chuckled and added ‘Oh, with all these cameras around I’m sure a handshake will suffice," over shots of Obama looking all urbane and first-black-President-y.

Speaking on behalf of all Torontonians, may I be the first to reply: Wheeeee. I just hope Harper enjoys his last year or so in office, ’cause this Liberal stronghold has a long memory.

In the end, the pithiest comment on the whole mess came from a random Twitter-er: "Next time, guys, can you please just use Skype?"

OK! Enough with the weirdness, back to the… Bob & Ray obsession. Never mind.

Damnit, I keep running into material on Bob & Ray that I wish I’d found before I started writing this threatening-to-become-widely-disseminated article. First there were those Baillett New Yorker profiles, and now Gerald Nachman’s Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, which contains a chapter on B&R as an adjunct to Jean Shepherd. (Whom I may now need to check into more closely, as well.)

The facts still line up. It’s just that I worry that I’ve made them sound almost completely personality-less in RL, which turns out to be… well, not exactly true. But still.

This is still not the definitive account. Nachman’s research has clearly been rather slapdash and his POV is largely Larry Josephson’s, meaning it’s as much about Josephson’s efforts to ‘rescue’ their legacy from the scrap-heap of comedy history as anything else. With occasional mild asides from Bob (but, oddly enough, not Ray’s family) suggesting that that they at least were perfectly OK with their legacy as-was, thanks.
Josephson is an erudite and witty man, and he obviously respects them and deserves the same … it’s just that legacy-keeping has a tendency to lead inevitably to head-patting (cf. Charlotte Bronte’s biographical sketch of her deceased sisters, which similarly sets my teeth on edge).

There’s some quite interesting commentary from writer Tom Koch as well, discussing his perhaps-a-bit-too-unsung contribution to the mythos. Also one amusing anecdote from — of all people — Jonathan Winters, who describes falling in love with what he assumed was B&R’s totally ad-libbed style and thus being ‘wiped out’ later, as producer of his own TV specials, to discover he couldn’t just haul them on-set and tell them they were now Minutemen being interviewed by Washington. Apparently, his idols just sort of stared at him. For some time. Oh, to be a wall-oriented fly with a time machine…

At any rate, just to set the record straight: Both Bob and Ray had perfectly interesting personalities, I’m… almost sure. At any rate, they remain a fascinating case study in the attraction of opposites. Bob was — is? — reserved and precise, artistic but also ‘studious…a ‘creature of habit’; while Ray had more ‘flair’, ie., was a walking Irish stereotype: ‘basically sweet and outgoing’ but nevertheless possessed of a ‘volcanic temper’, stubbornly refusing to give in to his failing body almost to the end.

…and in the end, I suppose, despite best efforts all ’round, their legacy will still be irretrievably theirs regardless.

This is your brain on catnip.

Anybody else remember an old YA series — I believe it was by Andre Norton — in which it turned out that felinus domesticus were actually stranded descendants of kitty-shaped aliens, who had returned to rescue them because humans were about to go boom?

I ask merely because there is a short crack, under one of my living-room baseboards. And for the last while my own fuzzy buddy, Jasmine, has been spending more and more time crouching and staring at this crack. Hard. Without moving a muscle. After half-an-hour or so she stretches, shoots me what could easily be interpreted as an Ominous Glance, and stalks off to resume normal cathood for awhile; then it’s right back to plumbing the mysteries of the woodwork.

I would chalk this up to one more example of inexplicable LOLcattery (this is, after all, the same feline who excitedly paws at the screen whenever In the Night Garden comes up on TreehouseTV) but that’s the thing — this isn’t random. It’s a crack, and it could reasonably be assumed that something might be coming out of it that would attract a cat’s attention. Especially a teenage cat. 

But there isn’t anything, as I discovered when I tried crouching along with her for a full ten minutes. Even ran a ruler under there, just in case the somethings had run and hid at my approach. Jasmine gave me a seriously annoyed look at this; evidently, I was cutting into her quality chatting time with the mothership. Or whatever.

I just hope that when the crisis comes, she remembers all those steak tidbits. Not to say the faithfully cleaned litter box. After all, (pace Dave Barry) she’s sitting right here as I type and hasn’t yet tried to stwqqwdfdsgfghpw

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