lolaraincoat: (slow learner)
So among the several glories of Toronto is the Merrill library, which is a branch of the public library system devoted entirely to science fiction, including an archive of convention programs and zines and other paper ephemera related to fandom, which is an amazing resource. And the Merrill is holding a fundraiser in the form of a SFF short-story contest with a nominal entrance fee.

So, um - I appear to be writing a story to enter into this contest. It's short - probably no more than 2000 words, maybe less - and it's basically just serial-numbers-filed-off Iron Man/Thor/Avengers movieverse fanfic, except set in Toronto. But I would seriously appreciate a beta reader or two. Or three. Or really as many of you as I could talk into reading it, that would be helpful. There's no hurry at all, as the deadline for the contest is next February and I have the first draft nearly complete already. But let me know, and thanks in advance.

*****

p.s. anyone who can think of a better substitute name for Spider Man than Racoon Boy, please speak up right now.



...
lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
.....

Garter snakes and Flemish Beauties. Also, some health stuff, so: warning for mention of bodily fluids. )


.......
lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)
I just got back from the funeral procession, and then the funeral, for Jack Layton. It was kind of amazing. )

Living here in this orderly and sometimes red-tape-ridden city, I often wish for more of what Mexico City has – that sense of desmadre, the feeling that everything is going to tilt over into chaos at any second (but not always in a bad way.) It was so good to be reminded that Toronto can rise to the occasion once in a while, that we too can improvise celebrations of death and life, and make meaning out of disaster.


...
lolaraincoat: (feminist)
The Democrats Abroad with whom we watched the debate again got really rowdy at every mention of Canada in this debate. Canadian oil WHOOO!!!!! Canadian HEALTH CARE YEEEEE-HAW!!!!!1!

Otherwise, three four points:

First, did anyone else notice McCain's completely unnecessary and factually inaccurate mention of the "tragedy in Dallas," i.e. the Kennedy assasination? He had to drag in some comment about Kennedy having had plans to debate Goldwater before he was killed, but that seems implausible at best because Kennedy died just about exactly a year before the election, at which point Goldwater wouldn't have been the Republican nominee, right? So why bring it up? I think it was like when Clinton's campaign, in its waning days, brought up Robert Kennedy's murder - playing on our mostly-unspoken fear that Obama is going to be killed, suggesting that we shouldn't vote for him because he might die if elected.

Second, the pundits afterward kept calling Obama "professorial" as if that were a bad thing. *sigh*

Third, John loves Joe. Joe the Plumber is clearly just a shaky rhetorical screen for his real true once-in-a-lifetime romance with Joe Leiberman. But Joe Six-Pack will do.

eta Fourth, what the hell was all that about Colombia? If you only count legal agricultural imports to the US, the "biggest trading partner" is Mexico. If you add in the value of illegal agricultural imports - some of which McCain or his debate-prep team appears to have ingested - then the biggest importer to the US would be, well, who knows, really? but my guess is, still Mexico. The biggest importer of US-grown agricultural products is Canada. Doesn't everyone know that already? Is McCain already prepping for a post-politics career shilling for South American tourism or something?



...
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
There's still quite a lot of life in the garden this fall. This weekend I gathered up beets, onions, chard, herbs, tomatillos, strawberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. The tomatoes were mostly green but it seemed like time to bring them in to finish ripening. We'll get some more raspberries, squash and tomatillos before frost kills everything, some chiles, and maybe another eggplant. Oh, and the greens from the sweet potato vine, we need to eat those up too. There are figs on the fig tree but the frost will set in before they ripen, same as last year, and they won't ripen if I pick them green. Figs are fussy.

And there's still plenty of flowers: nastursium, mums, marigolds, morning glories, black-eyed Susans, thyme, a few stray roses still hanging on.

Last winter, and this summer too, were colder and a lot wetter than we usually get around here. That meant the grapes and apricots were unusually plentiful but not strongly flavored, unfortunately. And the peppers and tomatoes just hated it - they suffered from the lack of sunlight, and also from the slugs and snails we got in such abundance. (Are those kind of snails edible? Because if so, if they come back next summer I'm cooking them, purely in the spirit of revenge.) But this year's apples - not, alas, apples grown by us, but the local apples - are astonishing: big, crisp, sweet but not too sweet, intensely flavored. Apple trees love a hard winter, someone told me once, and it's true.

A raccoon, or something raccoonesque, has been knock over the garbage bin that the wet trash goes into, to get at the chicken bones (we think.) I am trying to regard this as a good thing: raccoons who are eating our garbage are too busy to be eating the zillion tulip bulbs I just planted. In other urban-farmer-lifestyle news, I've been in touch with these folks, who will come harvest your backyard fruit in my neighborhood if it all gets to be too much for you and donate the results to charity. So next year, if they decide to add grapes to their list, maybe we'll get some help with the horrible arbor that is totally the worst thing ever, I mean it.

Yesterday Fishwhistle cut the grass for what will likely be the last time this year. Tomorrow we'll put the backyard table and chairs in the garage, take down the air conditioners and put them in a closet, finish pulling up the tomato plants, clean out the wheelbarrow, pop some rosemary and parsley into a pot for a well-lit windowsill ... it's been a warm, sunny weekend, but it's time to get ready for winter now.



...
lolaraincoat: (insane troll logic)
So we had our biannual staff lunch at a decent Italian restaurant in a strip mall near campus, at the far north-west reaches of Toronto, and it was the usual strip mall for that part of the world, featuring Lebanese jewelry and Korean dry cleaning and Iranian videos and Ecuadoran Western Union. But in the corner of the strip was a storefront with shades pulled down in front of its big picture windows, and a sign mostly in Cyrillic. The only words I could understand were the phrase "SPIRIT WINE," in big red sans-serif Roman letters. It wasn't a liquor store - no LCBO symbol on it anywhere - so what do you think it was?
lolaraincoat: (green (rosemary))
Hey, look! A post that is not about Remix! Go me!

So, Mr. Adorno, you're telling me that ideological agreement should trump esthetic judgement? )

Reading Little Brother did make me think that I want to read novels about the characters at its margins - the people stuck in off-shore prisons without habeus corpus rights, the teachers unable to figure out what to say to their students about the national-security state, the military recruiters ... I'm just not as interested in the technologically-empowered (white, male, young) activists. Maybe it's just that I feel like I know their story already.

Meanwhile back in the garden... )

All of this gardening was made complicated by my desire to not drive anywhere this weekend, because of the surprise public transit strike that began midnight Friday. There was going to be a strike last week, but then they called it off, but instead the union went out with less than two hours' notice Friday night. Luckily every one of the eighteen guests who came to dinner on Friday (yes, Ratty, it was a potluck) had carpooled or walked or biked or taken the suburban trains from out of town, so they could all get home all right.

My still-new-ish job, it appears, turns into an eighty-hour-a-week monster in February and March and some of April, and last week was still a very long one, but things are winding down now, so that's good. And it's been interesting - so interesting, in fact, that it will have to wait for a less public post.
lolaraincoat: (op art)
Nuit Blanche was both better and worse than it was last year. It wasn't a complete surprise, the way it was the first year. But it has become a civic holiday - and of course it has, as it involves staying up all night in the midst of a huge crowd, taking in avant-garde art and spending no money, in the company of beloved friends and attractive strangers - complete with happy greetings the day before: "Bonne Nuit Blanche!"

I kind of want to go to the one in Montreal in March.

Anyway, our night of art began with Vietnamese dinner in a jolly gang, which was served to us rather slowly, which made the more peckish among us all emo, which in turn led to the observation that all Smiths songs should have been about food. You know,

I am the son, and the heir,
of a hunger that is criminally vulgar ...
I am human and I want to be fed
just like anyone else does


or

I would go out tonight, but I haven't got a thing to eat

and

I wanted a snack, and then I had a snack
and heaven knows I'm miserable now


Well anyway it seemed very funny to us at the time.
lolaraincoat: (crappie)
I was driving from campus to the gym on the only highway that cuts through the middle of Our Fair City, just before rush hour. Traffic was heavy enough that I'd just come to a halt, in the perpetual traffic jam that marks the end of the highway as it empties out onto the street in midtown. Suddenly there was a big jolt and a loud noise: I'd been rear-ended.

I pulled over to the very narrow side of the highway and so did the person who rear-ended me. She got out of her car (a nicer and more recently produced Honda than the Honda I was driving) and carefully edged her way along the shoulder, to lean into my window. She turned out to be a small young woman in very large sunglasses. "Hello!" she said, "I'm so sorry! I fell asleep!"

So I called the cops, and then we exchanged information, and then we inspected the damage, of which there wasn't any, and then I insisted that we stay there and wait for the cops anyway, and then we waited some more, and then three tow trucks showed up in quick succession, each with disappointed tow truck drivers who, upon seeing the no real damage, assured us that there was no point in waiting around for the cops and that we should just go away to the accident-reporting site. The last of these was still arguing about it when a cop did finally appear. The nice young woman told him the same story she'd told me, including the crucial words "I fell asleep."

"Ah," said the cop, and the turned to me and began explaining, at some length, how there was no visible damage and I should just go to the accident reporting center. I said that I understood that and in fact had no intention of even bothering with the accident reporting; I just wanted to make sure that this person, who was falling asleep while driving, did not get behind the wheel of her car again today.

The cop said, yes, that was a good point, and turned to the sleepy young woman, and explained to her at great length that the nice tow truck man was going to tow her car to the nearest parking lot, and she was going to leave the keys with the cops. She wasn't very happy about it, but he was adamant. The discussion was still going on as I drove away.

So that was ninety minutes of social awkwardness by the side of the road, in the interests of doing the right thing.

Also I appear to have a relatively mild case of food poisoning. So, all in all, not a happy day.
lolaraincoat: (feminist)
Marriage and heteronormativity have been much on my mind lately for a number of reasons. What it adds up to, for me, is that marriage as an institution extracts labor from women for the benefit of men. )

I don't have a conclusion for this, really. I just wanted to say, it's been on my mind.




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lolaraincoat: (op art)
I've been meaning to write about all kinds of stuff - interesting music heard lately, the opening of the new scary half of the Royal Ontario Museum, some thoughts on the collectively authored soap opera in which I am a minor participant, an article I'm writing very slowly - but things have been busy, you know? So instead, merely this query addressed to Torontonians:

I need a hat tree. Well, actually I need something to hang my bags on, but a hat tree would do. Where in this area, other than IKEA, would you go to procure a hat tree?

Thank you!
lolaraincoat: (home)
Spring is coming. I have proof. Yes, it's well below freezing out, and yes, most of the snow that fell on Friday night remains on the ground. But The Kids Who Say Motherfucker are once again roosting in the alley beside our house, trucker caps backwards on their buzzcut heads, looking as menacing as they possibly can be while bundled in puffy down jackets. They chirp out their profanities, slap hands, toss their cigarette butts into the street and spit on the sidewalk. We have entered the mating season of the neighborhood youth once again.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Friday night I went to a concert the various student percussion ensembles of The University with the Name That Rhymes with Spork -- the Brazilian escola de samba, the Korean drummers, the Malian dancer-and-drum group, the ensemble working on chanting and drumming from Ghana, the Afro-Cuban group. It was kind of amazing. The samba school was the best I've heard outside of Bahia. The others weren't quite that brilliant, or else my ear is less atuned to their styles of music. But still, they were awfully good: all the drumming and some of the dancing was at least at professional levels. I went with a couple of colleagues and their two kids, who are two and four years old; dancing with them and watching the kids roll around like puppies under everyone's feet was maybe the best part of the evening.

It reminded me, too, of what's so great about Spork U.: you know, we probably don't have enough serious classical string players on campus to make up a good string quartet, and we probably have a football team but I don't know that anyone has ever seen them play. But two dozen well-trained Korean drummers? Fifty gifted African percussionists? A huge, enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience for parade-style samba music? Sure, no problem; we've got that.

A great university can support all those things -- as salsa dance is not the natural enemy of string quartets -- but Spork doesn't have those kind of resources. What Spork U. does have is a truly amazing group of students. And sometimes that feels like enough.

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