Thursday, December 15, 2005

like a post-england madonna

Today's soundtrack:
Urban Hymns by the Verve

Well, following D's lead, I headed to in search of my famous twins. The picture is question is this oh-so-flattering shot of me in a sombrero.

Classy, no? Here are the results:
71% Madonna
69% Annette Bening
66% Winona Ryder
65% Virginia Mayo
63% Shania Twain
62% Audrey Tautou
61% Sarah Michelle Gellar
60% Christina Ricci
58% Kim Basinger
58% Hilary Rodham Clinton

Now here's the funny thing. I've been claiming a geneological connection to Mrs. Clinton for years, ever since I discovered that in the early 1600s, a Joseph S- married a Rodham. See, I knew we were related, and this proves it!

I would, however, like to draw attention to the rather non-Edwardian women on this list. I hardly think that Madonna's former wild behaviour fits the doctrines of all that is Edwardian; however, as she is now living in England and wearing more pearls, I suppose I will allow her to remain with only a small sniff of disapproval. And Sarah Michelle Gellar's antics on that Buffy show... tsk tsk tsk... what every happened to wasting away? I would refer Ms. Gellar to Ms. Ryder's far more suitable portrayal of Edwardianism invalidism and lethargy in Dracula.

But then again, I was running around in a sombrero...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

neighbours, pt. 2

Today's soundtrack:
CBC Radio 3 Podcast

Finally got my pictures from the summer. This is of an abandoned church we found en route to the Lake (we weren't lost, just detouring). Lindell took many, much fancier pictures (curse him and his fancy cameras), and if he ever puts up a blog, chances are that you could see them there (guilt, guilt, guilt).

But that was the summer. At the moment, it's still snowing. And even though it's in the rent contract, the neighbours still aren't shovelling the snow. Dusty strumpets.

All this is really an elegant form of procrastination. I'm 100 pages from finishing my thesis, but Christmas lethargy has set in, and all I really want to do is curl up on the futon, sip on hot chocolate, and watch my "stories". But today, I've brought home Butler and other performative studies theorists. Nice and light evening reading, no? It's entirely likely, however, that I'll spend the evening thinking up things to say and questions to ask if any of the major political parties phone here looking for support. I've finally accepted the fact that I'll never be able to give my rehearsed speech outlining the atrocities and hypocrises of the Catholic Church to Pope Benny. Clearly, I have a better chance of arguing Harper into a corner.

In other news, the odd oooeeeoooeee music has been replaced with the squeak-squeak-squeak from the bedroom above our room. Maybe it's time to think about an apartment.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


There is no soundtrack to the day. Why? Because the boys upstairs are playing some weird trance music. A bit of the original oooeeeoooeee of the old Star Trek TV Theme, mixed with some boom ba ba ba of a fake drum kit, and this odd dink dink cowbellish sound. It's been ten minutes and it's not stopping. And the boys are laughing. Laughing! I'm just waiting for the smell of incense to waft down here.

Although the story of the incredibly shrinking woman of D's building is tragic, at least she left something positive within the apartment community. I bet these guys don't even use coasters under their glasses. The horror!

In other news (or perhaps not), I am my mother's daughter. It's official and there's no point in avoiding it. The bananas have gone bad. I'm going to stick them in the freezer. So here's the inevitable question to Nana, Mom, and my quasi-Martha Stewartish friends: does anyone have a good banana bread recipe? The one that includes chocolate?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

day of discoveries

Today's soundtrack:
La Margarita Dijo No de Alejandro Sanz.

It's been an exciting few hours.

1) Have just begun talking to a distant relative that lives in a distant country in a distant language. Well, not really a distant language. I just didn't want to break up the flow of that line.
2) Have just discovered CJUS Radio, the university radio station.
3) Have just found two Post-It pads in my backpack, making it impossible for me to procrastinate further.

So without further ado, to Austenlandia I go (N.B. Austenlandia is not nearly as much fun as Pantylandia).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

a quick tangental aside

D directed me to and I found myself taking all manner of quizzes instead of putting together my course of study for my Ph.D applications. As I result, I have discovered that

I am Mexican Food.
My sexy Brazilian name is Fernanda Cabral.
My musical tastes match those of Jennifer Garner.
In a past life, I was a charming executor of sacrifices, who lived on Cyprus, but died of consumption.

Thank you. That is all.

a debate

Today's soundtrack:
Jumping Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones
La Tortura by Shakira feat. Alejandro Sanz
Hard Road by Sam Roberts

Every night at 10pm, mi compañero and I watch The National. About three-quarters of the way through each broadcast, there is an "At Issue" panel discussion amongst various journalist-types. Now, this has been bothering me for several weeks. What is the gender of Chantal Hébert? At first glance, I assumed male. The eyebrows, lack of makeup, and men's clothes seemed to make it obvious. But then, I heard this voice that wasn't quite male or female. Immediately, I thought that I had happened upon a strange androgynous subculture. I could only assume Hébert is their leader and that the entire operation was based out of Montréal.

Mi compañero, I believe, is not really bothered by this androgyny. I, however, am not so noble. At this point, I had every intention of writing a blog dedicated to the oppression of true identity through the association of gender roles, but let's face it - that is in no way my real intention here. I'll leave that argument to those who study and research without considering the implications on humanity (take that Science!). My query is far more straightfoward, as only English students can be.

Male or female?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

how to be an edwardian lady when you are out on the town

Today's soundtrack:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by Kid Koala

Indeed, it is difficult to know how to act properly in this day and age, especially when one is at a drinking establishment. However, if you keep these tips in mind, you should have no difficulty in acting the part of an Edwardian lady.

1) When preparing to venture out, do not overburden your complexion with make-up. Instead, opt for a subtle, sickly, pale hue of skin that is sure to set the hearts of men aflutter.
2) If you need to quench your thirst, ask the butler or barman for a tonic water because of your "delicate constitution". Those two words will attract men with proper Edwardian sensibilities. If you cannot find the butler or barman, ask the serving wench. Failing that, and if you are in dire need, quietly speak to the scullery maid.
3) If you opt to take a turn around the room, do so only if it shows your figure to the best advantage. Do not take a turn if other, more fashionable women have done so within the past quarter hour.
4) Dance only with those well-established within the community. No matter what your own standing in the society, you should not stoop to dance with a man worth less than five thousand a year.
5) If you dance partner desires further acquaintance with you and your family, ask him to leave a card with your doorman.
6) Avoid open doors, as the drafts are likely to give you chill. However, open windows will do much to give your skin a certain consumptive glow.

Best of luck in courting your very own "Mr Wilcox of Howards End".

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

what "kate needs"

Today's soundtrack:
CTV Noon News

There's a new trend in blogging, apparently. Go to Google and type in your name and the word "needs". For example, type "Kate needs" and a very strange list appears. Inspired by Dave, I've complied my own list.

1) Kate needs a shave
2) Kate needs to be exposed for everything evil that she has done
3) Kate needs a hand... more correctly, she needs a tooth... a few teeth
4) Kate needs to know where I am in my struggle and in my relationship with God
5) Hans has disappeared and Kate needs to find him in order to do the deal
6) Kate needs a kidney
7) Kate needs to be hooked up
8) Also, Kate needs to go "hardcore"
9) Kate needs to leave this homestay by herself as soon as possible
10) Kate needs to be more careful in the future as to who she considers her friends before she does things that will affect her career.

Apparently, I'm having various cosmetic and health issues, as well as working and dating trouble. Sigh.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

welcome to the game

Today's soundtrack:
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Soundtrack by John Williams
The Inner Harbour by Barry Pellett

Mea culpa. I know. It's been nearly a month. Now, I could make up some quasi-comical excuse as to why I've not updated. The upshot of the whole thing is that nothing really exciting and noteworthy has happened. Apparently, this reasoning is not good enough for some people, who insist on my updating by tagging me. Dusty strumpet.

So. Five things that my friends and/or peer group is excited about, but that I just don't get:

1) Dancing at Divas. Although I have no problem dancing around my house to Carole King and Janis Joplin, the idea of being crushed up against scantily-clad teenage girls and metrosexual boys who are bouncing up and down in a drunken frenzy because Usher is being played - again - is simply not appealing.
2) Desperate Housewives. Even mi compañero watches this show, but I just can't get behind it. I understand that it's a satire and that it's supposed to be clever, but the scriptwriting and plotlines pale in comparison to the brillance of Sex in the City. In fact, Desperate Housewives is, for me, the cast of the OC in a few year. Alas. A moment of silence, please.
3) Getting married and having kids. I have nothing against the institution of marriage or the bearing of children, but it seems like everyone is doing it but me.
4) Grammatically correct conversations. Never going to happen. I don't speak in complete sentences or coherent paragraphs. If you do, congrats. But don't think of correcting me.
5) Public beltching, farting, and eating with mouths open (inc. talking with mouths full). I don't understand the culture of rude behaviour that seems to have taken over my generation. Once, while I was walking through a mall in the 'Mo, one of a group of teenage boys walking towards me quite literally burped in my face. Not even an "Oops, didn't see you there". And who really wants to see what everyone else is eating? As for the public farting, either Daniela or Dave blogged about it. I refer you to their eloquence.

And as per the rules of the game, I must forward this onto three people. Do I know three people who blog? J the Mountie blogs. I shall nominate two other non-bloggers that should be blogging: Holly and Lindell. Mwahaha!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

pierre, pendajos, and recalled books

Today's soundtrack:
Bad Day by R.E.M.
Mr. Cab Driver by Lenny Kravitz
Teardrop by Massive Attack

As I lay, trapped beneath a pile of books on health and medicine in the Eighteenth Century, I can almost see the light. I keep repeating that it's really not all that scary, that my thesis will be written one way or another, and that the pendajo recalling my library books will be vanquished in a battle to the death involving Grendel, Uncle Toby and Pierre Pettigrew.

Yes, a word about Pierre Pettigrew. The man is gorgeous. The hair. The little nose. The accent. I'm sure all the poli-sci folk are going to shout at me for this, so let me make it clear that I don't really care for his politics, corporate connections, etc. This is purely asthetic. Although, as D informs me, Pierre has nothing on the Foreign Affairs Minister, who apparently is a real fox.

I wonder if Pierre could do anything about my recalled library books? He'd come sweeping in, hair all flowy, with a substantial GST rebate cheque in hand. Claiming bureaucratic mismanagement, he would deport the pendajo of the recalled library books to Syria, regardless of the fact that the pendajo holds Canadian, or possibly American, citizenship. My books returned to my office, we would "borrow" a government jet and fly off to... but I'm getting ahead of myself here. And there is still that matter of the restraining order*.

Also, I have been marking in-class essays and feel compelled to mention that dangling gerunds are now medically treatable.

* I feel compelled to explain that this is a joke. I explain this not so much for your benefit, as I have no doubt of your intelligence, but for mine. What can I say? El Department of Homeland Security tienen muchos cabrones, and I'd rather not end up like Arar.

Monday, September 19, 2005

why i will never own a green trenchcoat

Dedicated to my former co-workers at a store that shall remain nameless

Today's soundtrack:
Melancholy Melody by Esthero
Un día de enero by Shakira

The other day, on my leisurely walk to my office and I noticed this woman - mid-40s or 50s - ever so slightly hunched over and walking with fierce determination, her green trenchcoat covering everything but her ankles and standard bob haircut. I staggered back in fear as this woman - this green-trenchcoated dominatrix - passed me without a second glance on the crosswalk.

Dear lord, has Crazy French Lady followed me here?

I looked at her hair. Brown. A nice, normal brown. Not magenta. Thank the gods, I have been spared.

To those who have encountered the wrath of She of the Green Trenchcoat, my relief need not be explained. But for the rest of you lucky lot, I shall attempt to do this tale, this mythic battle, justice.

She was simply known to us as Crazy French Lady, not to be confused with Crazy Chinese Lady who would catch the bus in from the other town and talk to her imaginary friend in Mandarin or Cantonese, occasionally getting into huge arguments with said friend in the middle of stores and restaurants. Crazy French Lady did, tragically, speak English as well as French. You may well ask what she did to deserve such a name. Well, she's crazy, French, and a woman. That about sums that up.

Crazy French Lady would come into our store once a month and reduce staff members to tears. Oh yes, tears. You wouldn't think it possible for a woman that barely cleared 5' to drive anyone to distraction, but she did. She would pummel you with questions, angry and cursing at you in French. If you managed to sell her something and didn't place it with the utmost care on the table, she would grab your arm, shaking you and tightening her grip, yelling about how stupid and useless you were. It's always the small ones, the ones you least suspect (this is part of my larger belief that the Ewoks of the last Star Wars movie are only waiting for the right moment to turn rabid and start gnawing on people's ankles). Well, Crazy French Lady decided she wanted to by a fondue set. She made my sister go through every set, making sure that each and every piece was perfect. If my sister even bumped the box on the way to the till, Crazy French Lady would start yelling in French and storm out of the store.

It got to the point where if we even saw a green trenchcoat, we'd all race to the back of the store and leave the new kid to deal with her. We didn't need to learn more curse words in French. But inevitably, one of us would be working alone and she would come in for her monthly visit. I was the only one working and, unfortunately, it was a very slow day and no one else was shopping in the store (re: no witnesses to what I could only assume was my imminent death at the hands of this green-trenchcoated, magenta-haired miniature Stalin). Up and down the ladder I went, fetching every single fondue I could. Then, I had to go through every single box and carefully package everything back up (after all, it had to fit in the box perfectly again). But when I walked over to the till and set the box down, there was a clink. Just one, but that was all she needed. All of a sudden, she's grabbed my arm and gesturing angrily, yelling in half-English, half-French. I stood there, silently saying goodbye to my ankles.

Then, just like that, she left. I put the fondue set that she wanted in the backroom with her name on it. I gave it an extra kick into the corner - for good luck.

Since that point, I've noticed this same trait among all women who own green trenchcoats. I can only imagine that this trait applies to men with bad bowl haircuts as well. I think that if they had caught the gunmen on the grassy knoll, they'd have been wearing green trenchcoats.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

a room with a view

Today's soundtrack:
Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones
Step on my Old Size Nines by Stereophonics
Sinner by Neil Finn

I know that the list has not even a hint of Italy, but I have been nursing a feeling of nostalgia for Florence this evening. It may have started with the comment made by a certain professor that E.M. Forster was boring, or it may have been triggered by the familiar old, hot sewage smell coming from a house I passed by on my way home yesterday, but I have an overwhelming urge to sit back and smile about la dolce vita.

Do you see the bell tower in the picture. Built in the 1890s or so in the Neo-Gothic style so that it would match the rest of the Santa Croce. The Santa Croce is still the home of Franciscan monks and so bells ring out at terce and none, calling the old women to mass and the rest of us from our beds. I was the only one in the apartment with a room that faced the Santa Croce; everyone else faced the Red Garter, an American bar that seemed to be the stop for every Contiki tour that come through that month. So as a result, I was the only one to wake up with the bells. I would roll out of bed at an hour that seems ungodly to me here, quietly make my porridge and open the shutters of the windows in the dining room. If I sat at exactly the right spot, I would be able to watch the sun hit the Southern Gothic features. You see, this photo - this exact scene - is what I woke up to every morning for five weeks.

Later that morning my Edwardian Sister - the very dignified but somewhat constitutionally delicate Lady J - would make our daily commute to our seminar on the other side of the old part of the city. Down a side street, dodging the streetcleaners and men pulling their stalls of t-shirts, being careful not to breath when another alley linked up because of the sewer smell, until we saunter into the Piazza della Signoria. The Uffizi, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Rape of the Sabine, but not a single tourist in site. The entire city was only just waking up. A small round stone, completely out of place with the rest of the irregular cobblestones, marks the spot where Savonarola was burned. We continue on a wider road, reading wall plaques that quote Dante, walking and walking until we see the Baptistry. And then, the Duomo. We pause. Sigh. Take a deep breath and realise the entire piazza smells like a horse. But it's only Lady J, the cart men, and me in the piazza. Bells toll for the next mass.

"Children, I have to tell you. You have no idea. You just don't know".

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

of dr. phil and vampires

Today's soundtrack:
Spain Intro & Spain by Michel Camilo and Tomatito
La Tortura & Para Obtener Un Sí by Shakira
Everyday is a Holiday & Wikked Lil' Grrrls by Esthero
Nautical Disaster & Scared by The Tragically Hip

I am waging a battle against the boys who live upstairs. It has not yet turned into a holy war, but I think it is only a matter of time. It started not long after they moved in. One of them owns a guitar. He also enjoys singing. He does this directly over the hole drilled into my ceiling by various men in toolbelts who, I can only assume, knew what they were doing. Mi compañero thinks that there might be a bass guitar up there as well. Boom boom boom and the sound of Matthew Good (drunk) meeting Ben Harper (stoned) during a catfight.

But I have an effective defense. Dr. Phil. I know, it may sound crazy, but I think it may just work. They seem to start up around the same time each day, which is (oddly enough) the same time that Dr. Phil is on. The music starts up, and Dr. Phil just gets louder and louder. It seems that only Dr. Phil's Texan truisms are enough to silence these boys. Days of Our Lives and Oprah have failed. CSI didn't have a chance, and I think we all watch the Simpsons.

So I left my supposedly-soundproofed suite and went for a walk. When I came home, I discovered something new about my neighbours. They seem to be deathly afraid of vampires. This and only this can account for the massive amounts of garlic they seemed to use this evening in whatever it was that they were cooking. Now, I'm sure these boys are perfectly nice gentlemen. One day, Mr. Guitar Man might be famous. Perhaps this house will be saved from an attack of zombie vampires thanks solely to their prophetic use of garlic. Yes, indeed all these things could happen. But right now, that seems as likely as me finishing my proposal tonight...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

a manifesto of sorts

I want it known here and now that I began blogging before they were even called blogs. This blog, adolescently called "Tortured Souls, Inc" was a wonderful piece of self-indulgence that I have no desire to imitate on this site. Instead, I will use this blog to further the illuminating cause of the Edwardian Sisterhood.

What is the Edwardian Sisterhood? You may very well ask. It is a loose collective of people who would rather have lived in a time of outhouses and kitchen maids, of elegant dresses and delightful boots. I make no claim to being a technophobic person, as I am, after all, using a computer at this very instant. I do idealize, however, the slow pace of life, the lost art of letter writing, and men tipping their caps to ladies.

It is very easy to blame most of this nostalgia on E.M. Forster and Jane Austen (who is not an Edwardian, but honestly, who can resist her?), as well as my lingering frustration towards printers and computers in general. I think of the Edwardian Sisterhood as more of an ideal - completely unattainable, as all worthwhile ideals are. I can't even claim to act as an Edwardian would, as the events at a certain lake in Saskatchewan indicate.

In all honesty, this blog may very well become nothing more than a place to rail against my M.A. Thesis (on Austen, naturally). But there are always ideals...