So, I Want to Take Out a Conjunction on Someone


I’ve been putting this off for almost year.

I thought it would go away and I could let it go. It wouldn’t and I couldn’t.

I have a visceral response every time I get in the car and hear it. Or turn on the TV and hear an interview.

It’s someone starting their answer to a question with the word “So”.

  So interview caption words2So interview caption words1So interview caption words3

I hear it mostly on the radio in an interview (in the car). Sometimes I see it on TV if it’s a panel or forum or interview show.

The interviewer asks a question (any question) like: “How can we stop global warming?”

The guest says “So… the research shows that … blah blah blah science jargon..”

The interviewer follows up with: “and what was the first clue you were on to something?”

Guest: “So… in the timeline of incoming information and analysis, we can say that ….…”

And SO on.

My reaction goes like this:

I feel immediately like I’m being talked down to. Like the whole tone changed, it’s gotten formal. All because of one word.

I’m thinking of what’s going through the interviewer’s mind and that goes something like: “I’m sitting here talking to a pre-recorded message while they’re selling off the CBC Broadcast Centre which is alright by me because this building was the beginning of the end for public broadcasting and it’s run by accountants and lawyers and managers who got hired just because they can talk it up in meetings and, really, who cares about what this dweeb is saying anyways. They probably just want to be a media celebrity like Malcolm Gladwell and have also forgotten my name if they ever heard it in the first place.”

Why, oh, why does this affect me like this? After all, I’ve got used to “like” and “you know” and “uptalk” – though “iconic” still rankles. (is there anything not iconic nowadays?)

Beginning a answer with “so” is not to be confused with using the word properly. As in direct reference to something you just said in order to continue a thought. Or even starting a question with “so”. When they still taught grammar, phonics, and cursive writing to kids, the word “so” was introduced as a conjunction. A conjunction is a connector word. It is not a word meant to start a sentence, whether it be a plain statement or , worse, an answer to a question.

That’s the grammar crime. I know, I know, language gets bent and mutates all the time but when someone starts an answer with “so” I feel something bad.    

The very first reaction, if I could freeze the first millisecond after I hear it, would be disgust or revulsion. As if I’d just seen somebody with suspicious stains on their pants. Something distasteful but something the person is not aware of. At least not aware of the effect they’re having on people.

My next reaction is some kind of pity.

As it goes on, I get irritated and angry.

It’s the same feeling I get when someone looks over my head when they talk to me or, worse,  when they seem not to have listened to what I’m saying and carry on the next line in a conversation with a completely different subject.

Maybe it’s the repetition of the word that gets me. In any given interview, once a person starts this way of answering, you can bet they’ll keep on doing it for every question. Repetition drives me crazy.


The Ascendancy of “so”

In his 1999 book The New New Thing, Michael Lewis writes: ”When a computer programmer answers a question, he often begins with the word ‘so.”’ Anand Giridharadas , in the New York Times, also says “Microsoft employees have long argued that the ‘so’ boom began with them.”
They get a badge for it.

It has spread to academia, self-help authors, scientists, professionals of all kinds, and now to the great unwashed who want to get on the bandwagon of moronic speech.

‘The word is a marker of cause and result,’ says Dr Penelope Gardner-Chloros of the department of applied linguistics and communication at Birkbeck College. ‘Someone who starts an answer with “so” is marking that what he’s saying is coherent with what came before — the question. He’s saying what he wants to say, like a politician — but trying to make it sound like it’s an answer to the question.’

Mark Mason in the Spectator continues the thought:

“If this is the case, then So-sayers are planting the seeds of their own linguistic destruction. As the technique grows in popularity, we will come to recognise it more easily. It will take on the status of Harrison Ford’s tests in Blade Runner, used to tell androids from humans. Hear someone start an answer with ‘so’, and you’ll know you’re about to be spoonfed some pre-cooked PR-speak. A more sophisticated version of the old joke about knowing a politician is lying because his lips are moving.”

Those who defend this crime say it’s meant to draw people in, to include them, to show that they’ve heard them.

Galina Bolden, a linguistics scholar who has written academic papers on the use of “so,” believes that to begin a sentence with “oh,” is to focus on what you have just remembered and your own concerns. To begin with “so,” she said, drawing on her study of a database of recorded ordinary conversations, is to signal that one’s coming words are chosen for relevance to the listener.

The ascendancy of “so,” Dr. Bolden said, “suggests that we are concerned with displaying interest for others and downplaying our interest in our own affairs,” she said.

I say it’s just the opposite. To me, it’s as if I’m hearing the beginning of a recorded message, as if a robot is talking, as if I’m hearing a computer say “working” before it accesses a file.



Speaking of recorded messages, here’s one from John Rentoul of the Independent on Sunday, author of The Banned List: A Manifesto Against Jargon and Cliche. He explains why he is not so impressed on BBC Radio’s Today show.

Click on this link to hear it:


The Algorithmic Age?

So digital-life-smaller

Like the Bronze Age or Steam Age, this term has entered the lexicon to describe how our world has changed thanks to computer programming. It’s all about smartphones and Facebook and iPads affecting our everyday lives.

Mostly, I don’t care what other people do with their toys. After all, they’re off in their own world. But my rant here about the abuse of a poor little conjunction is symptomatic of the effect of all things digital on everyday language. And it’s because of those darned algorithms.

Christopher Steiner in Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World:

“”Algorithms have pretty much pervaded everywhere these days. Use the web, you’re using algorithms. Engage with the financial world, you’re engaging with a world driven by algorithms. Look at any image on any screen, use your mobile, satnav and any other piece of technology and you’re in the world of algorithms. From markets to medicine, the 21st century is being shaped by the power of algorithms to do things faster, cheaper and better than we humans, and their reach is getting bigger every day.”

So… once again, has the medium become the message?

If our world is mediated through computer code and the devices it governs, will it also determine how we use words and ultimately how we think?

The bottom line is that computer code and the devices it works on is more important than human communication. The cart is driving the horse. I feel like the old coot who cares about the correct use of language. But it seems silly to be a brainiac in science or technology or any area of academe and have to filter all that knowledge and all those ideas through “leet” speak or the latest mobile phone vocabulary.

Why not cultivate as rich a way to express yourself as what you have to express?


Today’s Listening: (it’s been a while)

1. This Sporting Life by Godley and Creme fr: “L”
2. Call Any Vegetable by The Mothers of Invention fr: “Absolutely Free”
3. I’m an Old Cowhand by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks fr: “Striking it Rich”
4. Spring to Come by John Butler Trio fr: “Flesh and Blood”
5. La Luna by Lucy Schwartz fr: “Life in Letters”

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A Little Cat We Called Nimbus

Nimbus May 10 14_0006_resize

She came just after last winter’s ice storm. And she stayed.

We never knew where she came from and, at first, she was just another of the several feral cats we feed.

Soon, we had to give her a name like we do with all of them and we called her Nimbus because she was looked like a little black  cloud. That was not her nature, though. She was an endearing little cat who loved affection but also her independence.

Nimbus at door 40_resize

Every morning she’d be waiting at the back to door to greet me or would coming running up to me from somewhere in our back yard. All day long, she’d be on the deck in one of her favourite spots. When we went out, she’d always make herself present for rubs and food.

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  And she was likely the last thing I’d see when locking up the house for the night. She was a fixture.
She was becoming our cat now.

As the cold weather approached, we worried about how Nimbus would fare in the snow and below-freezing temperatures. We got her a house from the Toronto Street Cats Project and put it out for her in November.

 Nimbus in house nov 29 2014_resize

It turned out that she loved her house. Just after Christmas she started to spend more and more time in there. For the last few days, she hardly came out. When she did, she’d sometimes fall over. Enough. We took her to the vet’s last Friday and there didn’t seem to be any clear diagnosis. She got some shots for the more obvious symptoms and we’d keep an eye on her. Brought her home and she went right into her shelter.
Yesterday morning she came out one last time. I picked her up and she was gone in under a minute. At least she wasn’t alone.

We’re a little more alone now.
It seems we keep setting ourselves up for this kind of heartbreak, and, knowing this, keep on getting attached to these creatures.
Why do we do it?  To us, they’re just irresistible I guess.
That doesn’t make the heartbreak any less painful.

I hope we did what we could for Nimbus. There’s no end of missing her.


Nimbus close_resize

Today’s Listening:

1. I Do It For Your Love – Bills Evans and Toots Thielemans fr: “Affinity”

2. I Will – by Tony Furtado and Alison Krauss fr: “Bluegrass Goes to Town”

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Rocks from the Moon – 20 Years’ Worth



This is one of those “gotta use words” moments.

Today marks a 20 year anniversary of not drinking. It’s a big milestone for  me (and I don’t know if I’ll get another quite so significant).

I’ve not been the best member of the group that helped me so much initially (A.A.) , but they’ve never left my consciousness. Every day, there is a chance to use what I heard and learned there.
I was fastidious about going to meetings the first five years. 3 a week, a weekly meeting with my sponsor every Saturday morning for breakfast.
Aside from taking a daily job out of town which all but prohibited attendance (excuses, excuses), I found myself drawn to another path, another life line. That was Tibetan Buddhism.

 Dzogchen tantra
I was surprised to find out how much A.A. and the basic, beginning, practices of Buddhism had in common.
There was a common surrendering or “taking refuge” decision that had to be made. And maintained.
When I asked my teacher at the Buddhist temple about what to do about a “higher power” (a necessity in A.A. which often takes the form of your version of God, Supreme Being, or just something bigger than yourself), he said “pray to your intuition”.
You have to keep in mind that teachings and guidance from a Buddhist teacher are very specific to the student and for someone else might have been quite different (maybe more concrete!?)

Over the last two decades, many aspects of my life rose and fell, went to hell and came back. I managed to stay off the drink, but found that was no guarantee everything was going to be smooth sailing.

I’m reminded of a documentary I saw about Ron Sexsmith  (“Love Shines”) in which Steve Earle says (snipped a bit):

“I think melancholy and despair are both components of the blues. You know, at the opposite, dark, deep end of the blues is despair. And, you know, you can’t stay there. Its just, we’re not constructed to stay there. Melancholy can be befriended and be tamed and can be harnessed. For artists, the advantage that we have is that beauty comes out of our melancholy and even our despair. But you have to be able to bring the rocks back from the moon… or nobody knows that you were there.”

The Loneliest Place on Earth

I think that if there was anything big to learn from 20 years of sobriety, it would be a sense of obligation to report honestly on the dark places you can get into – and then let others in the same boat know that there is a coming back. For those lucky enough to never have gone there, one can make an attempt to describe and explain what it’s like. In my experience, this is never completely achievable.

At this point, there’s not much in this world that really gets me going. This world has its laws and rules and mechanisms for “success.” There are only so many combinations of sinking balls on a pool table.

Success can be measured, reasoned out, and measured again. Your life’s report card may be money, status, power, love life, artistic acclaim. To me, they all seem like a distraction or a way to get high.
Which doesn’t mean to imply I that I don’t need a bit of those things to get by. Render unto Caesar and all that.
It’s just that I don’t put a lot of value on them. They’re impermanent and there is no solid ground, really.

I’ve got 20 years worth of moon rocks. Not all are fit for public consumption. It’s been a roller coaster ride. Neither the ups or the downs are to be taken too seriously.

So, I’ve been asked “how do I feel, 20 years on?” The answer: better.
Mostly, so very grateful to those who have always been around to support me. Thank you.


It’s the only game you win by giving up.

Today’s Listening:

1. On the Cool Side by Ben Sidran fr: “On the Cool Side”
2. Cotton by The Mountain Goats fr: “We Shall All Be Healed”
3. Wind by Circus Maximus fr: “Circus Maximus”
4. Ghost Town / Poem for Eva by Bill Frisell fr: “Ghost Town”

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FIFA Flags – Watch THIS, Spot.


I had a chance to see the Argentina/Netherlands Word Cup football/soccer game last Wednesday. It was the first one I’d ever seen.

And what a great way for a non-sports fan like me to watch it. I was visiting a friend in the country, far away from the choked streets teeming with FIFA Galactic Cruisers and their horns and flags. Nightmare stuff for me.

 Fifa car traffic st clair

There were large glass doors beside the television where I could look out and take in a bucolic view of trees and fields and chickens and hummingbirds. Lovely evening.

The game itself didn’t hook me but I found it kind of useful.

It let me slip into some day-dreaming about the FIFA fans and their unabashed promotion of their favourite teams. All those whipping flags on all those little cars a-wavin’ in their exhaust. The horns honking as if their Honda Civics all had Tourrette’s Syndrome.

 Fifa car flag st clair

Let me tell you, I have no interest in football/soccer.
I do have an interest in other people being interested.

Fifa streetcar 

And here is the crux of the business: I was experiencing what Kenneth Burke called “Perspective by Incongruity”.

In brief: You put together two things that don’t normally belong together and you get an enriched perspective of the two elements

The Mona Lisa framed in potato peelings. Foreground and background.

So while the TV was blasting out the game, my attention was drifting out the window, just openly aware of nature on a summer afternoon. (Sky Meditation is possible during a televised football game, after all.)

I thought that, as much as I cannot tolerate sports, I have a love of books. When an author like Dennis Lehane writes a book such as “The Given Day“, I don’t even mind if a large part of the subject matter is sports.

I’ve come to think of book awards as sporting events. You’ve got your draft picks, your regular season, your play-offs, and your trophy. The only difference is that with, real sports, the players get to duke it out themselves. With book awards, you get the panels. Poor devils who don’t have the time to read all the entries anyways.

And there are the literary blog sites which could not exist without the word “award” on their pages. (Even if they are called “Shadow Awards”)
You may have gathered by now that I don’t give a damn about book awards. In fact, I think they have a backwards effect of making writers write for awards. Besides, the books that win are never books I admire are almost always awful. Where do they get those panelists from?

Not to be ruled out as a total crank, however, I would like to join in with the spirit of the World Cup fans and suggest the following:

Authors’ Flags!

Why don’t literature aficionados do what their ball-kicking brethren do and stick authors’ faces on flags?

We’d have pictures of poets and novelists attached to people’s cars and bundle buggies. Heck, stick them on dog coats as they drive, walk and shop around the Annex and Riverdale. Not just on the occasional postage stamp.

Why aren’t books as good as soccer? Why don’t people tip over cars and fight in the streets and bars over the Giller Awards?

FIFA fans vote with their Hondas.  And I will give sports one break – they may be the only unscripted media events going.
Sure, there are rules and uniforms but how the teams get to the ending is always uncertain. That’s why we have bookies.
In the meantime … 

richard w on dog coat 2 murakami on dog coat margaret and alice on chickens

Get the picture?

Today’s Listening:

1. Dear Diary by The Moody Blues fr: On the “Threshold of a Dream”
2. Mr. Apollo by The Bonzo Dog Band fr: “Tadpoles” (and various anthology albums)
3. Mad Men’s Season 7 Episode 6 “The Strategy” closing credits music originally composed by Jean Constantin for the Francois Truffault film: The 400 Blows. This version was arranged by David Carbonara (Mad Men’s incidental music composer).

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Joni is as Iconic as a “Smell Mall”


And just as “Award-Winning”, too!

Tell me, does this:

Iconic Joni RED

equal this: ???

Iconic mall RED

Allow me to elaborate:

Every day I hear someone’s name prefixed by “iconic and award-winning”. It’s just gotten stupid.

Iconic Chronic Abuse

When a radio host is introducing a guest to me they shouldn’t start off by making me angry. But they do, every day.

Unfortunately, I’m hearing it on my dear old CBC Radio.
I hear it daily on “Q”, although I generally like Jian Gomeshi. I hear it on “The Next Chapter”, although I generally like Shelagh Rogers’ show, too.
Heaven forbid, I’ve heard it on Current Affairs and News shows. They should know better.
(Let me say that I’ve never heard the deplorable word on “Writers and Company” with Eleanor Wachtel. )

Is it to impress the audience? Is it to puff up the guests on these shows? How great and special do they feel when everyone, and I mean everyone, gets the “I and A-W” treatment?

iconic a-winning Jeep

“Iconic” is a word that has gone recently from being inaccurate to being meaningless.

Do people even remember what the word “icon” means? Can you even call an icon “iconic”?

Iconic Intelligent Life

“Award-Winning” is the PhD of the media world. If “iconic” is a kind of description, then “A-W” is the credentials.

Billboard Magazine even has an Icon Award – in case there weren’t enough categories already.

Iconic Billboard Prince

But it gets mundane very quickly.

Gomeshi and others use the same stock phrases over and over again, day in day out.  “award-winning” “iconic” etc.
Why would he repeat himself so much? Is it part of his signature style or is it unconscious. Is it laziness?

It’s not just Jian.  Repetition is the sin that every media genre is committing.

Repetition is not reinforcement.

Repetition is marketing torture or laziness or unimaginative. Or something in the DSM-5.

Reinforcement (a strong skill in radio) is used properly to remind an audience (especially in the world of “live”, no-rewind, no skip-back radio) of something that is of key importance. Even then, reinforcement can be achieved without using the same word or phrase. How do you it? The answer is: care, attention, imagination and diligence.

It’s the difference between the journeyman skills of a writer/speaker  and an art.

If the idea is to sound “hip”, then they’ve failed. “Hip” becomes pedestrian when these expressions become automatic conventions. A droning effect.

When everything is “award winning” and “iconic”, nothing is.

Can’t things be made to sound interesting without using tropes?

Iconic HiltonNo Surprises?

I had a classmate in grade 8 who was hopeless with English composition. He didn’t care, except that he wanted to pass.  To encourage him, our teacher assigned him a very short essay in which he’d have to use  a word he’d never used before. For some reason, Edward found and used the word “desolate”.
Come the day when he had to read his composition to the class, Edward used “desolate”about seven times in three pages of writing. His house was “desolate”, he felt “desolate”, the walk to school was “desolate”. I don’t know, maybe his hometown was called Desolate, too.

It was bizarre. Then it was annoying. Then it was rather pathetic.
That’s what I think of when I hear “iconic” and “award-winning” today.

tweet ADHD

My Challenge: to Broadcasters and Marketers and Copy Writers Everywhere

Do a whole radio show, or article, without mentioning “awards” or saying “award winning” once and without using the word “iconic”.

If that’s too hard, could we have a rating system? An announcement at the beginning of talk shows such as: The following program uses the word “iconic” x amount of times.
We could call it the “iRating” (!)

In George Orwell’s “1984”, the destruction of words is predicted:

“In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words — in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston?”

I vote for “iconic”. If it’s award-winning.

Iconic Elvis cropped

Today’s Listening: (not Elvis):

1. Dreamsville  by Henry Mancini fr: Peter Gunn soundtrack
2. Something’s Wrong by The Walls fr: Hi-Lo
3. Mustt Mustt (Lost in his Work) by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brooks fr: “Mustt Mustt”

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Jan 14, 1998 – June 24, 2013

Who was taking care of who?


dinah_kitten2  dinah_2007_1407_1_resize

dinah_david_resize cat_2007_00869_resize

Hope to see you next time around, my sweet friend.

Today’s, and Every day’s, Listening:

How I Remember You – Michael Franks

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City Chickens, Country Chickens

City Chickens
city chickens_22_resize 2
Country Chickens
country chickens_0379
City Chickens are wired – right to the ground Country Chickens are wire-less, but well-grounded.
City Chickens live in Condos or Co-ops Country Chickens live in coops (no hyphen)
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Sideways City chickens have no room for a soul
country chickens_0121
Country chickens have souls and giblets


Oscar city chicks_0033 (3)

City chickens don’t taste very good

chickens buy happiness

Today’s Listening:

1. When Sly Calls by Michael Franks fr: Passion Fruit
2. Until the Real Thing Comes Along by Fats Waller
3. Ooh Child by Valerie Carter fr: Just a Stone’s Throw Away
4. I Will by Alison Krauss and Tony Furtado

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Helena’s Menu

I know so many people having birthdays this month. I was just looking back in my journal (now digital) and seeing what my first April entry was. It was on this date! 39 years ago! 39 – the age Jack Benny said he always was.

The entry for April 17, 1974, was a scanned image. No text.

It’s a scan of an order slip. The kind waiters used to drop on your table in Chinese restaurants and on which you were expected to write down what you wanted for dinner.


This one brings back some great memories of food and friendship and makes me laugh.

My girlfriend, Helena, would take me into these “hole in the wall” restaurants and introduce me to stuff that you’d never find on the English menus. Still won’t.

The usually gruff waiter would slap down a piece of paper and a pencil and stalk off into the kitchen. Helena wouldn’t consult me, but often say “you probably won’t like this” and apparently write down an order for something mysterious. I don’t think I was ever disappointed.

We lived in different towns in 1974. I was in my first year of university and she was in her last year of high school. So what was I to do if I wanted this great Chinese food and she wasn’t around?

My solution was to carry around copies of these order slips in my wallet and produce them when served in a restaurant. It took more than one waiter aback that I nonchalantly handed him my order written out in Chinese characters. What I didn’t know at the time was that the writing had a distinctly feminine style to it. More baffledom for the waiter.

The old technology dictated that  I had to photocopy these slips. And in the early 70’s, even photocopiers were not that easy to find.

That order slip is from one of the last times I saw Helena, but not the restaurants and the staff working in them.

One thing I learned is that there is a great loyalty from customers to the cooks and even the waiters in the Chinese restaurants of those days. Chefs come and go – waiters, too.

After Helena:

Last night I was sitting in my favourite hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant eating a dish that is not on the English menu. Most of what I order is not on the English menu.Flourish Restaurant front

Not many Anglos come here. Not many Anglos know about it. Not that much has changed in 39 years.

The woman that runs this traditional BBQ restaurant always tries to talk me out of ordering what I want. “Canadians don’t like this!”.

The first time, I had a real fight on my hands. In other restaurants, I have been flatly refused or told they couldn’t make it. Now, 20 or so years after successfully ordering this dish in the Flourish Restaurant, the Flourish Lady (as I’ve always called her) still gives me the run around. She tries to talk me out of it, even after she has yelled my order to the back kitchen!

Every time, for decades. Our bit of fun.

Oh, and Helena? Another scanned image I put in my journal from those days is this one:


Today’s Listening:

1. Wouldn’t It Be Loverly by Diana  Panton
2. I Wish We Had Our Time Again by John Hartford
3. Made in Japan – Gojo Ohashi Bridge by Amos Garrett
4. Can I Make It Last (Or Will It Just Be Over?) by Boz Scaggs

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glint oakville_2005_0264_resize

At the end of winter, new, strange, glints of light are catching my eye.

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It’s a twixt time. Transitioning between the grey, black atmosphere of true winter and the clear blue yellow light of spring.

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When you know, but can’t see, the maple sap is rising. The squirrels and birds seem to know. They are digging and beginning to sing.

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All I know is that the light is different. Will it take?

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The tricks that all these transitional states play upon one’s mind – as in the place between dreaming and waking, falling asleep.

glint oakville glint oakville 2006resize

I see these glints in unusual places, like below in the corner of a kitchen window.

 Glints Winnett Mar 14 13_0036_resize

Not so much the usual sunsets and panoramas, but in the details of artificial objects like office building glass, hallways, a bit of flooring.

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My working class reflections of consciousness.


    glint winnett mar 14 13_0035_resize


Today’s Listening:

1. As If By Magic by Glenn Cardier fr: Stranger Than Fiction
2. Have You Met Miss Jones? by George Van Eps fr: Mellow Guitar
3. Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most by Betty Carter fr: The Audience
4. Bar Inglese by Marcos Valle fr: Jet-Samba

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Books by Fruit



fruit book apple


I just got back from the Indigo store at the Yorkdale Mall and I feel sick.

How is it possible to spend over an hour in a bookstore and not find one book to buy? Good Lord, there is no end of books. Why so few that I’m interested in?

Is it because they don’t stock any authors I like?

Usually they don’t. Or if they do, it had better be on a bestsellers list or won some award. Or fit nicely into some easily digested category such as “Lifestyle”.

Is it because it’s more of a fashion boutique than a bookstore?

A little bit, yes. Well, a lot, yes.

The merchandise seems to be as important as the books judging by the prominent places reserved for displaying soap, candles, bags, novelty items etc.

I’ll admit it bothered me no small amount that I had to line up behind someone screaming at the cashier about returning a pair of socks. In a bookstore?

Is it the calibre of writing these days?

Unfortunately, that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.

Walking down the maze of aisles and shelves, I began to get into a fugue state. It was a bit like when your mother took you to a department store as a small child and told you to wait in a chair while she checked out the ladies department.

I was briefly lifted out of this delirium by a bright little yellow paperback with the word “lemon” in it’s title. I thought it was absurd and forgot about it till I got home.

I had actually brought a list of new books and writers that I’d make note of from radio interviews and CBC podcasts, notably Writers and Company and The Next Chapter. Indigo stocked none of these.

In the end, I picked up a mystery novel by a writer I knew and trusted.

The cashier asked if I had “Plum Rewards Card”. More fruit.

But when I got home, the “lemon” thing came back to mind. For the heck of it, I searched Amazon for books with “lemon” in their titles.

The result was 496 book titles in fiction and literature alone.

Some of my favourite titles include:
1. Vampires in the Lemon Grove (by Karen Russell)
vampires in the lemon grove cover

2. The Sour Lemon Score: A Parker Novel ( by Richard Stark) Sour_Lemon_Score 2
This was published in 1969 and would now feature a cell phone as well as, or instead of, a handgun. As the gun was indispensible to American TV shows (still is), the cell phone is now de rigueur.

And I really like this one:

3. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel (by Aimee Bender) particular sadness of lemon cake cover 2

– the blurb says: “On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake.”

Good grief!

4. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder (by Joanne Fluke)

– I can see a whole series happening here along the lines of the “Rabbi who..”and “the Cat who…”

Now, I wrote this before checking it out, thinking the fruit “series” idea was too nuts, but, lo and behold, Ms Fluke has already done it:

– Apple Turnover Murder,
– Red Velvet Cupcake Murder,
– Strawberry Shortcake Murder
– Peach Cobbler Murder
– Cream Puff Murder (where’s the fruit, Joanne?)
– Gingerbread Cookie Murder (ginger is a rhizome, not a fruit – Joanne is breaking her training now)
– Cherry Cheescake Murder
– Key Lime Pie Murder
– Plum Pudding Murder
– Carrot Cake Murder
There’s more, (14 of them, I think) and that’s more than enough. Interestingly, these mysteries are written by someone who also writes cook books and you’d think she would know better than to serve up endlessly repetitious themes to her customers.

Perhaps a palate freshener would be the curiously titled “Fruit: A novel about a boy and his nipples” by Brian Francis

. fruit-a-novel-about-a-boy-and-his-nipples

Perhaps not.
(actually, I’m told this is really a pretty good book)


Let’s make one big book and get it done with.

Something with “vampire/coming- of-age/murderous childhood/set in Italy/fruit name/colour name/survivor…” kind of book.

Indeed, this sort of thing was done by Alan Coren in his 1976 collection of comic essays: Golfing for Cats.

golfing for cats 2

A little something for everyone.
But not at the Indigo. I checked.

I would have been better off if I was in the market for socks. Or body lotion. I mean, a bookstore is where you go to buy that stuff, isn’t it?

Maybe  I need something like “Chicken Soup for the Jaded Reader” – like a hole in the head, I do.

Today’s Listening:

1. August Day Song – Bebel Gilberto
2. Girl Talk – Ben Sidran
3. The Nights are Cold – Richard Hawley
4. Treasure Island – Bob James

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