A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular literature

[BLOG] Some Canada-related links

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  • James Bow celebrates his fourth published novel.
  • blogTO celebrates WiFi in Bay station and shares old pictures of the Junction.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle examines the question of what caused new pollution in Lake Erie.
  • Spacing Toronto examines again the controversy over a billboard apparently unauthorized at Bathuest and Davenport.
  • Torontoist links to a project mapping specific songs to specific places on the map of Toronto, observes after Cheri DiNovo turmoil in the post-election Ontario NDP, and notes Dr. Barnardo’s Home Children as well as the complex life of possibly-lesbian Mazo de la Roche.
  • Transit Toronto’s James Bow approves of Steve Munro’s post suggesting that underfunding and neglect will soon cause serious harm to the TTC and its riders.

[LINK] “What Is a Fringe Festival Anyway?”

Mooney on Theatre editor Wayne Leung reshared today, on the first day of the Toronto Fringe Festival, a a Huffington Post article he wrote last year explaining just what it is about.

I’ll be covering some Fringe shows this year for this publication again, starting tonight in fact. I quite look forward to the experience again.

It costs a lot of money to produce and promote a show and because making theatre is so cost-prohibitive only a handful of professional and established not-for-profit theatre companies can afford to mount shows.

Fringe festivals are all about providing an accessible avenue for independent theatre artists to produce and perform their work in front of an audience. The Fringe is really the essence of theatre; virtually anybody can submit a show to the Fringe and the festivals place no limits on content so shows can be bold, raw and uncensored.

While the Fringe theatre movement started in 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland, still home to the world’s largest fringe festival, the first Canadian fringe festival was founded in Edmonton in 1982. Since then the movement has spread across the continent and the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals currently boasts 23 member festivals across Canada and the United States.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO posts a history of the Toronto Islands, and how a peninsula became an archipelago.
  • Crooked Timber makes the argument that cross-national intelligence undermines national democracies.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that there may be a hundred million worlds in our galaxy capable of supporting life.
  • Imageo shows the startling depth of the drought in California.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the victim of a gay-bashing in New York City allegedly by members of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish street patrol is suing them.
  • Language Hat announces that twenty previously unknown Pablo Neruda poems have been found in Chile.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the increasing walkability of Los Angeles.
  • Registan notes continuing issues for women in Azerbaijan.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog is skeptical of the possibilities that the Donetsk basin in the east could be reconciled to wider Ukraine after this war is over, raising the spectre of Catalonia in post-Franco Spain.
  • Spacing Toronto shares a story of an investigation to an unscenic pair of billboards placed at the intersection of Davenport Road and Bathurst Street.
  • Torontoist notes a local protest by migrant rights’ activists against the shutdown of the temporary foreign worker program.
  • The Transit Toronto blog commemorates the end of the 28 Davisville bus route.

[LINK] “How to Quit Amazon and Shop in an Actual Bookstore”

Blogging at Esquire, Stephen Marche makes a four-point argument in favour of buying books not online but in bookstores.

The movement to boycott Amazon has been picking up speed for several weeks now. In the wake of strong-arm tactics in its negotiations with Hachette publishing, Amazon has managed to offend the actual writers whose books Hachette publishes, including Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson, and JK Rowling. That wouldn’t matter so much if one of them wasn’t Stephen Colbert. He has promoted stickers that viewers can download from his website, which read, I DIDN’T BUY IT ON AMAZON. Amazon has responded by telling customers that anybody inconvenienced by the battle with Hachette should buy books elsewhere.

Until publishers decide to start a competitor website selling books, which eventually they are going to have to do, anyone wanting to follow Colbert’s or Amazon’s advice ought to venture into actual physical bookstores. Unfortunately, by now, purchasing print books in a brick-and-mortar building is something of a lost art, like taking snuff or drinking brandy after dinner. Which is not to say that it’s not worth doing. Quite the opposite. Buying books in a bookstore is one of life’s great, quiet pleasures. It leads to the purchase of better books. It leads to a deeper relationship to reading. It is a joy in and of itself.

[. . .]

A good bookstore isn’t just a place to buy books. The really good ones are bespoke tailoring for your narrative impulse. And that experience, it’s worth pointing out, is available in every town, and it’s free. The real problem with Amazon isn’t that it’s strong-arming Hachette; it’s that it leads readers to buy books that they’ve already heard about. When you pick out a summer novel for yourself online, you’re going to pick the book that everybody else is reading, almost automatically. But the book that you want probably isn’t Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It probably isn’t another James Patterson. A good seller in a bookstore is infinitely superior in every way to a personalization algorithm. Even by entering a bookstore, you’re faced with literally a thousand choices that you’ve never been faced with before. Somewhere in there is something that’s entirely fresh to you, and will reward your soul by exposure. That’s what good books do, and good bookstores, too. They let you step out of your algorithm.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 16, 2014 at 7:51 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze examines the very complicated history of the formation of the trinary system of Fomalhaut.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a report on the study claiming to find chemical evidence of the impact that created the Moon out of moon rocks.
  • Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that no plausible American intervention could have prevented the fall of Mosul to ISIS.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes the predictions of economists that Brazil will win the World Cup.
  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane shares a photo of people scavenging from a hundred thousand books dumped out of a bankrupt bookstore in Ireland.
  • Livejournaler pollotenchegg maps fertility rates in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
  • The Transit Toronto blog notes the arrest of a half-dozen TTC workers on charges of embezzling from their organization.
  • Towleroad notes opposite-sex married but bisexual Anna Paquin’s Twitter posting for pride.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein takes issue with the idea that Jewish Republicans are rare. (Representation is, as a consequence of their distribution.)
  • Window on Eurasia links to an analyst’s concern that the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, currently seeing fighting, might end up becoming alienated from the rest of Ukraine on the model of Northern Ireland.

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto Library offers store-quality book printing to customers”

CBC observes that the Toronto Reference Library now offers a book printing service. While I don’t see any indication that the library will offer more technical and non-prining services like registering an ISBN and the like, this is a decided advance.

You typically go to the library to take out a book, but now you can go to a Toronto library and make one.

The Toronto Reference Library unveiled its newest form of technology at its Digital Innovation Hub — a book printing machine.

[. . .]

What’s new is the ability to self-publish books – whether your own piece of literature, a cook book, dissertation or whatever you choose for a relatively reasonable price of $145 for 10 copies of a 150-page book.

“It’s like watching a birthing,” said Toronto author Nina Munteanu. She was one of the first people to use the machine.

The Asquith Press, costing about $68,000, sounds like a photocopier while it works, but the Plexiglas sides reveal each stage of the book making process.

“You can literally see the cover being made and all the pages being trimmed and glued together and being bound,” she said.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 12, 2014 at 7:29 pm

[LINK] “Grant Morrison’s 9/11: New X-Men’s ‘Ambient Magnetic Fields'”

Sequart’s Julian Darius revisits an issue of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, November 2002’s issue 132, “Ambient Magnetic Fields.” In a well-illustrated essay, Darius makes the compelling case that this one-issue story, set on a former mutant island of Genosha after it had been devastated by a Sentinel attack, is one of the most thoughtful responses in comics to the September 11th terrorist attacks.

In the wake of 9/11, Morrison raised the fact that he’d already dramatized the limits of violence. But as a writer of stories that prominently featured violent action, violence inevitably continued to appear in his work. Of course, this speaks more to the limitations of the genre than to any inconsistency on Morrison’s part. You certainly can’t devote a full issue to everyone who’s killed, and repeating this device would obviously lessen its impact. Morrison is indisputably aware of the dangers of depicting violence as entertainment, and he’s been quite articulate on the subject. But just as indisputably, widescreen mass violence is part of the appeal of the Genosha destruction sequence.

You can read “Best Man Fall” as an apology for so casually killing people, in order to add drama or make the hero look tough. And given the obvious parallels between the Genosha attack and 9/11, you can read “Ambient Magnetic Fields” as an apology for turning genocide into an entertaining cliffhanger.

A sense of unfathomable sadness permeates “Ambient Magnetic Fields.” The story opens with a full-page shot of the ruins of Genosha, as a character says, “I remember when all this was fields and spires and monorails.” Later, Storms speaks of “charred bones and ashes of children.” The story manages to convey the sort of reverence and hushed silence you might feel inside you at a concentration camp, or on the Normandy beaches, or on a Civil War battlefield. The sense that something terrible happened here — a tragedy too large for a single human brain to comprehend, in its fullness.

That the story is somehow able to convey this owes a great deal to the artwork of Jimenez and Lanning. One of the faults of Morrison’s New X-Men is its frequent artistic changes, and many complained that some didn’t measure up to the others. No one could say this about Jimenez and Lanning. Everything looks beautiful, yet this somehow only enhances the plaintive feel of the devastation. The pages’ black backgrounds reinforce the sense of mourning. The juxtaposition of utopian X-Men technology and debris is particularly effective, as when characters stare out of futuristic windows on what might as well be a ruined planet.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm


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