Tuesday, June 24, 2008

muzak meme

The rules are these:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

in no special order ...

1. language city from at mount zoomer by wolf parade

2. waterfall from the stone roses by ... well ... the stone roses!

3. she's so lovely from scouting for girls' self-titled debut

4. common people from pulp's different class

5. "connais-tu le pays?" from massenet's mignon -- this clip is of marilyn horne singing, but my recording is of frederica von stade ... it's the combination of the two for me: von stade singing this song about homesickness helps with my current castlesickness

6. you! me! dancing! from los campesinos' hold on now, youngsters ...

7. walcott from vampire weekend's self-titled album

tagging ...



Saturday, June 21, 2008

my starfucks barrista ...

jared, is a super-talented guy. here's a song he wrote that i just can't stop listening to. i want to learn to play/sing it!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

when i grow up ...

i want to be china forbes.

'nuff said. just watch the vid:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

nerd confessions #387 and #388

nerd confession #387:

(i think this is actually a bike confession, but nonetheless ...)

i'm still afraid of my clipless pedals. i'm afraid that after 4 months of bikeless existence, i'm going to go out for my first ride of the summer, come to an intersection, forget to clip out, and topple over. and in toppling over, i'm afraid that i'm going to rip open my left knee *again. the scar is almost gone from last summer. i'd like to have just one summer during which i don't have to wear a gauzy bandage on my knee and smear myself with polysporin. just one. i've never had great legs, or particularly fetching knees, so it's not that i'm vain (or maybe i am). i'm just tired of what seems to be perpetual left knee trauma, and i dread hearing quips from people who have been around for *all the left knee incidents, should they see me, yet again, sporting a pulpy scabby mess on my left leg just below the hem of my skirt.

it's a ridiculous reason for not getting out on my bike, isn't it?

nerd confession #388:

paul simon's "american tune" makes me cry. every time. i tear up like a sentimental slob and bawl my eyes out. when i first arrived at the castle in january, there was something about listening to it that helped my homesickness (canadasickness?). now that i'm back in kingstunned and anxiously counting down the days till i return to my turret, a job i adore, friends i cherish, and my lovely english boy, listening to it somehow helps, but i have to do it with a box of tissues nearby. put it on a playlist with "bridge over troubled water" and i turn into a giant, sniffling mess.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

dear mexican restaurant next door ...

i'm sure you have lovely guacamole. i'm sure your wait staff are pleasant and efficient. i'm sure you serve smashing mojitos. i've often thought of bellying up to the bar for a few shots of tequila in those moments, like the other day when i finished writing a dissertation chapter draft, when celebration is the order of the day. all in all, you look like a great restaurant. there's been only one thing holding me back from becoming one of your patrons.

the mariachi music.

i'm sure i'd find it atmospheric as i gleefully worked my way through a plate of cheesy nachos. i know the idea behind it is to make the burrito taste more authentic. but i can't stand it.

i can't stand it because i hear it for 10 hours a day, almost every day of the week. you have a few sets of speakers chained to the awning on your back patio that just happen to be right under my living room window, and even on days when it's raining horizontally, and there's nary a hungry soul in sight, i'm slowly lulled into insanity by the sound of the guitarrón. and at 11 o'clock, as your staff are closing, upending the green plastic patio chairs on to the green plastic tables, you turn up the volume and in a blind rage, i imagine waiters in silver-studded charro outfits wearing very, very broad-brimmed hats with tassels waltzing, busby berkeley style, with mops and brooms.

but enough of that. i'd really like us to be good neighbours. i'm here for the summer, and i think we can both enjoy the season and still remain respectful of the other person's likes and dislikes.

i hope you think so too, because i've got your precious little chihuahua and unless there's some peace and quiet tonight, his days are numbered.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


to quote a friend, who once abandoned her blog for four months as she succumbed to the demands and pressures of a term of university teaching, "it's really hard, competing for 'worst blogger of the year award'".

i don't have a note from my mother, or my family doctor, to explain my absence, and the list of excuses i was drafting in my head seems trite. and while i toyed around with this idea several times as i sat in my drafty turret at herstmonceux, writing lectures, grading essays, and snagging moments for work on my dissertation, the idea of hiring a blogsitter seemed extravagant if not a little "yuppie".

instead of a string of excuses, what i do have to offer is a short photo essay of some of the adventures i had at castlecamp (yes G, castlecamp!) which i'm sure will serve as heady material for blog entries in the future. while at the moment, i'm safely ensconced in a flat in kingstunned for the summer, working away at finishing (off) the dissertross, i will be returning to herstmonceux for the autumn semester. i can hardly wait.

along with romantic adventures in
undertaken with my lovely english boy,
i also had a wonderful visit with the lovely one, who had been living in berlin since the start of the new year.
and when not professoring or traveling, i devoted my spare time to musical endeavors, the most famous of which is the herstmonceux ukulele chamber orchestra (HUCO)

more tales from castlecamp and life in kingstunned to follow soon, i promise!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

dear ergometer

this is awkward, isn't it? i had no idea you were going to be at the castle, too.

after what happened between us last summer (the good and the bad), i left thinking that the best thing for both of us would be to spend some time apart. imagine my surprise the first time i walked into the gym to find you sitting there silently, as composed, resolute, and unflinching as you were back in kingston. i will admit that my pride was wounded when i realized that those 8 torrid months we spent together last year seemed to leave no trace on you. it was like i had never happened. me? i still have the scars -- especially from the time i pulled that 2000m piece and fell on to the floor in exhaustion with my feet still pressed against you.

so how are we going to handle this? we both have to be here, and we both have to spend time in the gym. i know we went for a little spin the other night, and it was great (all the good things from last summer, most definitely), but i don't want to fall into the same pattern of loving and hating you with the intensity i have experienced in the past.

what do you propose we do?


p.s. remember this?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

done like dinner

i just sent off those pesky dictionary entries.

*dance dance*

if i never have to tease out the difference between bell's life in london, penny bell's life and sporting news, the sportsman, and the sporting life EVER AGAIN, i will be one very happy periodicals junkie.

with a little help from my friends

CM, G, KK, J&J, A, P ... what would i do without you?

thanks guys.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

thanks, geoffrey!

Hi Shannon,

We needed you in a show on the weekend at an art gallery so you could show off that dress again and you had to be overseas at the time!!

Too bad, but I hope your time there is fabulous.


nothing boosts a girl's morale more than to know that the fact she had to put her "modeling career" (note the inverted commas, meant to signal an ironic tone!) has left a certain lack in the world of fashion. this afternoon, i received the above e-mail from geoffrey, a friend back in kingston who designed the dress that i wore to the end-of-the-year english department christmas party this past december.

oh the glamour. it's killing me.

Monday, January 28, 2008

style sheets

wednesday will be a monumental day -- i've actually sked'd a deadline that i'm going to meet. as many of you know, i was contracted this summer to write a few entries for the british library's forthcoming dictionary of nineteenth-century journalism (now rendered more forthcoming due to my, er, timely contribution), and off to the editor those three darlings will go, bright and early wednesday morning. oooooo. it's going to be a good day.

i've been spending time in my turret, spitting and polishing -- you know? buffing up the prose a little? -- in preparation for this monumental occasion. in doing so, i realized that the spitting and polishing is not unlike giving (or getting!) a pedicure before a much-anticipated date. it's the part of writing (and foot care) i really do love.

the part of writing i really do hate, you ask, pedihistory aside? (and i know you're curious ...) aside from shitty first drafts (cf. anne lamott)? style sheets. i really hate formatting stuff to fit with style sheets. i find it mind-numbing.

thanks to my friend jon, this tune has therefore become the most recent addition to the soundtrack of my life.

Monday, January 21, 2008

castle life, a playlist

should my life at the castle (so far) ever be turned into a rock opera, here is the off-off-off-broadway cast album track listing:

1. never easy/peter murray
2. national anthem of nowhere/the apostle of hustle
3. rock and roll (live)/the velvet underground
4. my british tour diary/of montreal
5. LDN/lily allen
6. parklife/blur
7. if you've got trouble/the beatles
8. a foggy day/dinah washington
9. the aspidistra flies/stars
10. whales sing/the shaky hands

Saturday, January 19, 2008

almost makes me want to get back on an erg ...

almost, but not quite.

there are days when the very liberal feminist in me is horrified at how much i miss the culture of the boathouse.

i can't help but wonder if the dark blues have the same kind of media machine that the queen's boys deploy in their war against mcgill ...

vid props, once again, to andrew rastapkevicius.

any suggestions?

i'd like to appeal to the collective wisdom of my wonderful friends and ask for help compiling a list of things i *must do while resident on the drizzly isle. i'm trying to devote my weeks to lots of hard work, and my weekends to exploring, and as you well know, nothing makes this type-a happier than making a list.

i've covered some ground on past trips (london galleries, and museums -- tho i'm planning on going to the V&A several times while i'm here ... how could i not? -- oxford, cambridge, and henley are fairly familiar territory, as are the innards of many libraries), and i've got the shoe shopping well, er, underway (please refrain from asking "but how are you going to get them (all) back to canada?!"). what i would love to hear about are places/activities you enjoyed while here, or would like to enjoy one day. historic or particularly charming or beautiful places, good restaurants, intriguing bookshops, wicked music stores, worthwhile hikes, anything at all really.

feel free to answer using the comment function below.

i await your responses with anxious anticipation!


why is it that, when talking to friends and family *on skype, we inevitably spend a disproportionate amount of time talking *about skype?

i realize now what the first telephone conversations must have been like:

"can you hear me?" (if you're my mom: "CAN YOU HEAR ME?!!!")

"isn't this cool?"

"yeah. can you say that again? you're voice isn't coming through clearly."

"sorry, the call got dropped."

plus ça change, eh?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

my linguistic influences

we all know about uncle ted, but tonight, while talking to kiki, i found myself reflecting on others who have had a profound influence on my linguistic development.

from CM, who was the initial creator of uncle ted, i've learned to say boy (pronounced "bye") with proper east coast gusto, and between the two of us, we've developed the aural equivalent of a dismissive hand gesture: "pfffbvvt".

from G, i've discovered the liberation that comes with a heartily uttered "goddammit". i've also appropriated her term of endearment for one's workplace: the orifice. we've had lots of wurd fun coming up with possible band names (remember our brief stint as "The MAGIC Markers"?). strangely, during my sojourn across the pond, she has found herself saying "ack" and "narf" a lot.

but i can say wholeheartedly that kiki has been perhaps the most influential in, er, expanding my colourful vocabulary. along with teaching me how to properly savour a well-timed expletive (i think she would have been very pleased with the stream i let loose the other day on the misbehaving photocopier), she has also given me these fantastic gems:

"contraband banana"

"phlegm fatale"

and tonight's treasure,

"Machiavellian sisterhood"

listen and learn, my friends, listen and learn.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

more vicky and al: orifice hours

the second installment in my neo-victorian reappropriation of victoria and albert.

good things

a list of good Castle-y things (in no specific order), excerpted from an e-mail to G:

-My new friends Eric and Rachel who took me to Eastbourne on the weekend. Rachel and I have been having the most amazing music chats both virtually and in real time. Eric is the first person I've met who is as nuts about old movies as I am. I made a reference at the dinner table to other night to some obscure B&W movie, and Eric had *seen it.

-Running outside. I did my first run to the village yesterday (around 5K, I think), and foolishly timed it so that I had to run the last leg of it in the nearly dark. I was running down a little-used road that comes into the back of the Castle property that's lined with hedgerows and the only light I had was the moon, but it was so bright ... Wow.

-Much Ado Books and the Badger Tea Room in Alfriston, both places I visited on Sunday with Rachel and another new friend, Peter. The Badger has to be experienced first-hand if only for the sponginess of the cake and the gawdyness of the china pattern. Much Ado was where I found a first edition of Nick Bantock's The Venetian's Wife, a book that changed my life. I also had to put back (oh the pain!) a first edition of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair.

-I'm no longer afraid of, or intimidated by, Thomas Carlyle. I suppose teaching someone does that, eh? He used to make me feel horribly inadequate, but no longer! In fact (how's this for ego), I pity him.

-My bass. I'm finding it easier to play here.

-A really considerate e-mail from a student, offering to send me a book I had lent him last term that he'd forgotten to return. He remembered that when I'd lent him this book, I'd told him how I was nervous about lending it because I'd lent it out twice before and didn't get it back, and how I didn't want to have to buy *yet another copy. In the e-mail he apologized for not getting in touch before the holidays and then offered to airmail the book ASAP. Books you lend out actually DO come back. Neat, huh?

more good to come ... i promise.

one last transatlantic dedication

this one's for you, J&J. wishing we could hang out with annie and the band at ben's. can't beat the décor there ... no pub here comes close!

Monday, January 14, 2008

another transatlantic dedication

this tune came through my headphones as i was making my way back to the castle on my afternoon run. yo, G. i miss you!

EPs, CM, and a transatlantic dedication

you should definitely have the EP of this dedicated to you, babe.

she's opening for iron and wine on january 19th in paris ... wanna go?

on the water

on saturday, two friends took me to eastbourne where i had my first taste of the sea. (sorry, no pics. i stupidly forgot my camera). as we walked out along the pier, i was surprised at how good it felt to be close to the water -- i had been feeling land-locked and didn't even know it.

along with being overcome by a desire to take an english seaside holiday complete with windbreak and anorak, i also realized how much i missed rowing. i truthfully don't miss the early mornings, but i do miss being in a boat with my hands on my blade and my feet in the stretchers, moving smoothly through sweet water. there are ergs in the castle gym, yes, but ... well ... it's just not the same. what i wouldn't give for just one more morning like this in an 8+ (vid props to former student and fellow rower andrew rastapkevicius):