The Competition Bureau has approved the sale by Loblaw of ten Shoppers Drug Mart stores, pursuant to the March 2014 Consent Agreement that resolved the Bureau’s concerns about Loblaw’s acquistion of Shoppers Drug Mart. Seven stores will be sold to independent pharmacists operating under the McKesson banner and three will be sold to Pharmasave Drugs (Atlantic) Ltd. During [...]
The Litigator – Affleck Greene McMurtry, LLP
To appropriately describe the power of Texts From Jane Eyre and Other Conversations With Your Favorite Literary Characters, the debut book by Mallory Ortberg — the funniest writer on the Internet and the co-creator of the wonderful website The Toast — it seems best to list the places where I laughed while reading it: on the subway, laughing hard enough that the L train glared at me; in bed with a wicked case of insomnia (my chortling woke up my husband); at the Flavorwire office, where we all fought over who got to read the book first.
The beautiful thing about Texts From Jane Eyre, based on Ortberg’s original column for The Hairpin, is that it offers exactly what it says on the cover: the Western canon is parodied and spoofed through the silly modern invention of texting. Ortberg’s comedy is shot through with love and deep literary knowledge, highlighting the silly and outrageous subtext bubbling under classics from Lord Byron to Nancy Drew. It’s hilarious, wickedly smart work that also serves as a fantastic reading list. It was a pleasure to talk with Ortberg at the Flavorwire offices during her recent visit New York.
When did you realize that you were good at writing jokes like the ones in Texts?
I really love doing really stupid jokes. I remember in the sixth grade when my dad showed me Monty Python and the Holy Grail with my best friend and I drove everyone crazy by reciting every scene verbatim. So, I’ve always loved bits. But definitely, in the last three to four years is when I really started feeling like, man, making jokes about literary characters for a short amount of time is what I was put on this earth to do. So glad I found a very specific calling early in life.
I was reading your book at the same time as Megan Amran’s Science… For Her! And both books felt like an extension of the kind of manic female voice that Edith Zimmerman was using at The Hairpin when she was the editor.
Totally, and I think Caity Weaver [at Gawker] or Patricia Lockwood [poet, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals] probably fall under the same umbrella, but they’re all pretty distinct. I wouldn’t say that any of us are clones of each other at all, but there’s definitely that wonderful, unhinged, zany sense of, “I want to be weird and funny and you’re gonna love it.”
Let’s talk for a minute about the Transcendentalists, like Henry David Thoreau and his Concord crew. What was up with those guys?
Somebody could write a long, thoughtful essay about how Thoreau was misunderstood, how the purpose of Walden was never “I’m going to live a life of complete solitude,” and so he shouldn’t necessarily get crap for having people come visit him and bring him marmalade. But I don’t want to write a long essay about that; I want to write jokes about how he steals pies from his neighbors and he talks to his friends late at night in Boston asking them to bring him stuff.
And his parents were pencil factory owners.
He didn’t even make his own cabin, and he literally was just like, “Can I use your cabin for two years, and then get really famous and let me not pay you or anything?” It’s such a dirtbag move, like, “Hey man, can I use your lake house for a while and write my book there?” I mean, it’s fine, but it’s very silly, and people need to treat it with the silliness that it merits. He was like, “I’m not paying taxes, whatever.” I think he owes the world a few apologies.
Did you read every book in preparation for Texts?
Kind of! I had already read all of them. I went to the kind of college that really does say, “Here is the Western canon, read it.” Which is definitely not the only thing you want to do with your English major, you definitely want to reach beyond that, but it was pretty traditional in that sense. So I read the Western canon and have a lot of thoughts about it, apparently.
It was just stuff that I felt really familiar with. I grew up in a house where there was a lot of reading. My parents were both pastors, so there was a lot of Little Women, and European and white North American classics. I love, love, love and have read a lot of other stuff, but the Western canon felt kind of like something I knew intimately. And it was full of so much silliness that it was often — like, I love the Western canon — but it’s sort of silly and it’s full of assholes. Generally people either say either, “Let’s not talk about this because we talk about it too much,” or, “Let’s talk about it very seriously and take it very seriously and Hemingway was very serious and he’s very important.” But these people are goofballs.
The Sun Also Rises is insane.
I cannot tell you how full of joy I am that his granddaughter [Mariel Hemingway] is now like a Zen lifestyle blogger. I don’t know if she blogs [ed. note: her personal blog is titled: “Living a Holistic Life”], but she writes very meditative books with, “Fill your house with lightness, and drink green juices, and stretch,” and he would’ve just gone nuts. He would be miserable. I wish that all of those guys had grandkids who all they did was do yoga and scented themselves and avoided bread. It just would’ve driven them crazy. Like, I wish so much that F. Scott Fitzgerald had like a gay grandson who just taught deep breathing.
There’s a distant relative of his who is a twee musician [Blake Hazard].
Good! May they all have twee descendants. Or simply centered, balanced people who treat the people in their lives well, as sort of like a counterbalance to, “Well I’m going to shoot every animal in Kenya and then die.” Well, where did he die? He shot himself in Florida or something? Who cares? He shot himself.
Do you feel a profound power, running The Toast and being your own boss?
Yes, I do. I really like it. It’s really cool because [Toast co-founder] Nicole [Cliffe] is my favorite person in the world, so I love working with her, and I always want to please her. I love what we get to do. I have a really high sense of motivation, as opposed to just like, “Oh, I feel like writing jokes today.” Being your own boss is really, really fun. I think it’s great. If you want to do it, you should give it a try.
It seems like you just emerged on the Internet fully formed as a comic writer. Where did that come from?
Well, I started writing on the Internet in 2011, and I was doing recaps of The Vampire Diaries for free for a website that I don’t even remember the name. After that I was working in publishing and writing a ton on the side, and I started writing for The Hairpin and then started writing stuff for The Atlantic and Gawker and The Gloss and a couple other places. It certainly wasn’t overnight. I spent a couple years trying to find out what my voice was. Turns out it was just the one that comes out of me when I talk. I was able to spend a lot of time doing it and quit my job and emerged like Venus from the sea, fully dressed in a bathrobe.
Do you get exhausted? You write so many jokes all day long, and you’re really good at it. How do you have that energy?
I conserve all my energy by moving very little. I go into like a physical hibernation. I didn’t know that this is what I loved to do until I started doing it. I think a lot of people have a talent for writing a novel. It turns out I’m just really at my best and happiest when I have to come up with a lot of jokes throughout the day. And write 400 words about them. I don’t know what I did before Twitter. I love Twitter, and it was made for me. I had no idea that it existed and then as soon as it came along I was like, “Oh, thank god, I’ve needed this all along and where have you been?”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Probably still running The Toast. Honestly, this is the type of job I would want to do until I die. I hope that in five years The Toast has more money than anyone in the world, and I have at least one item of clothing that’s made of gold. Cause my dream is, remember the episode of The Simpsons where Homer ends up winning the lottery and he turns into a man that is ten feet tall and is made of gold and is covered in rupees? That’s the goal. That’s the dream.
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Impersonating Miles Davis
October 30, 2014 by
My Miles Davis impersonation
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” – Confucius
So there’s all sorts of hub-bub about Mostly Other People Do the Killing‘s new album Blue (Hot Cup Records), which is a note-for-note re-creation of the acclaimed Miles Davis’ masterpiece Kind of Blue (Columbia Records). Criticism of Blue ranges between “How dare they?” to “What was the point?”
From my bunny point of view, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. According to Confucius, Imitation is one of the three methods of gaining wisdom. While the other two, Reflection and Experience, may sound more respectable, Confucius doesn’t actually state that any one method is better than the other. We may think of Reflection and Experience as better, but it could be that those are just the methods that are easier to brag about. No one wants to brag about having Imitated someone. However, Imitation should be respected, because it shows humbleness in the acknowledgement that others are better than oneself, and at the same time it shows confidence in being able to admit that you are Imitating.
For those not familiar with Kind of Blue, this is what it is in a nutshell:
I’m just a bunny so I can’t really explain what makes the album so great, but I know it has something to do with it being made up of seven legendary musicians who were improvising in a style that no one was yet familiar with— modal jazz. Modal jazz is hard to explain, but it’s basically when improvisation is based on scales (7 sequential notes in a certain key), as opposed to a chords (3 or 4 notes of the same key played together). So Kind of Blue was an album where musicians who had each individually achieved greatness using improvisation based on 3-4 notes, were brought together and were given twice as many notes and twice as much freedom to work with.
There’s a lot more to this, but I’m just a bunny. You can get expert information here. All I can say is that it grooves with a familiar beat, but it’s still unpredictable. The solos sing and are seamless; they don’t come off as a thing apart from the song. It makes me feel happy. It makes me want to close my eyes when I listen.
As for Blue:
Of course musicians should want to follow in the footsteps of Kind of Blue, and ideally musicians they would do it with their own music, but they can only get there through the learning methods of Confucius; all which have drawbacks. Reflection, while noble, limits oneself to his or her existing knowledge. Experience risks having gigs that are painful, both for the musicians and audience. Imitation has its pitfalls too, but if done well, accomplishment is guaranteed.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Jimmy Cobb, the only surviving member from Kind of Blue, as saying that when he first listened to Blue, he thought he was listening to the original. Mostly Other People Do the Killing (a band that is ironically usually described as unique and unorthodox) should be proud of themselves for being able to imitate the album so well. I know jazz is supposed to all about improvising, but by imitating the band got closer to knowing the genius of the album, which is something that will undoubtedly flow into their own original work eventually.
The Wall Street Journal also quotes jazz historian Dan Morgenstern, who said “Why bother creating a masterpiece that already exists?” With this, I have to agree. While this is an accomplishment for the band, I don’t see where it can go from here. Many will listen to the album, but if they want to buy it, they might as well buy the original. This project could be highly successful on tour, because it could be the closest that anyone who wasn’t around in 1959 can get to hearing it live. Unfortunately, bandleader Moppa Elliott, said that the project was not meant to tour, but maybe they will reconsider, and who knows… maybe they can even get Jimmy Cobb to sit in.
A Conversation with Mostly Other People Do the Killing with PopMatters
Filed under: Album Reviews, Jazz Lessons, Journal Tagged: Bill Evans, Blue, Cannonball Adderley, Columbia Records, Confucius, Dan Morgenstern, Hot Cup Records, imitation, jazz, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, Moppa Elliott, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Paul Chambers, Velvet, Wall Street Journal, Wynton Kelly
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Pro-democracy reformers and activists are among the most driven and courageous people in the world. Speaking out against abuses committed by authoritarian governments often brings the risk of punishment, and meaningfully engaging on policy issues even with democratic governments takes dedication, mobilization, and discipline.
Civil society is a key conduit between citizens and their governments…
CIPE Development Blog
Do Something Pointless
October 29, 2014 by
Do something pointless for 20 minutes this week.
Do something devoid of meaning, devoid of effectiveness, something having little or no sense or purpose.
That may be tough for you to pull off. Our American culture has always been purposeful and effective. We pushed West to get more and more land. Manifest Destiny filled our scruffy settlers with meaning and they pushed. Full of purpose and meaning, we pushed for bigger and better and faster and more. We made cars. Then more cars and bigger cars. Rockets were even faster than cars. We shot upward full of purpose into space. We planted a flag on the land of the moon, that beckoning frontier. We have always been an active culture, pushing effectively for bigger-better-faster.
Our wages grew the whole time. Our success grew and grew, we were effective and purpose-filled. By the 1970s we led the world in many ways. We had more food, more money and more success than any other country. Our food and shelter was as big and grand and as fast as any culture in the history of mankind has ever known. And it showed. The 1976 Cadillac Sixty Special was 20 feet long.
And we kept growing. We began to grow in new ways. We’re still growing, pushing effectively, full of bigger and better and faster and more purpose. It means success. It means beating everybody else.
We now lead the world in obesity, pharmaceutical drug use and the percentage of our population with anxiety. We use more cocaine than any country in the world. We have complained of an obesity epidemic for a decade now, and fast food revenue has grown each and every year in that decade. We have bigger-better-faster food. Bigger people, better and faster at consuming more of everything. We have bigger-better-faster sex. We produce 89 percent of the world’s pornography. Our export is an effective and purposeful push for more and faster everything, because that means better living to us.
Imagine riding a bike. You push the pedals to move forward. If you don’t push, you don’t go anywhere. We’re all aware of that, and we think of riding a bike as being about effective effort against the pedals. Turning a wheel is a cycle, yet we tend to be aware of only half of what we’re doing. Allowing is part of that process, acceptance is part of that process, co-ordination is part of that process. Try pushing with both legs and pushing all the time. Give it all that you’ve got, when you feel the pedals push back against you push harder. What will happen? You’ll push off of your seat, standing tall and rigid as you coast to a stop, and tip over in the dirt.
Once upon a time, it made sense to push for bigger-better-faster food shelter and sex. That has been an effective “meaning of life” for maybe 83,000 generations, so it makes sense that it gives us purpose. It worked for our great-great-grandfathers, it worked for our fathers. We want to push west and up, and push forth into society for more of what sustains life.
Yet quite possibly for the very first time in any culture ever, pushing effectively towards more effectiveness and purpose and making bigger-better-faster food, shelter and sex at all times – is not enhancing our quality of life.
What if we learned to value other things as well?
Do something pointless. For 20 minutes this week, do something that means nothing at all. Get nothing done.
Turn your phone off. Find a quiet place to sit down, and make yourself comfortable. Don’t even think. Don’t even try not to think.
Thoughts will come. Let them pass you by. Imagine walking on the streets of Seattle as people pass you by. Do you grab them by the arm and find out where they’ll take you? Maybe you’ll go to Pike Place Market and they’ll buy you a paper sack full of hot fresh doughnuts. Maybe they’ll lead you down a dark alley if you follow them. Yes, you’ll be curious where your thoughts might lead. Don’t try and figure out if the thoughts are going somewhere good or bad, and don’t try shoving them out of the way. Let them walk on by you.
Count your breath. One, two, three, four, then repeat.
You will feel silly. You will feel as if you are getting nothing done. And you’re not. This is a pointless activity, as silly as picking up a heavy object and putting it down repeatedly..
Doing something pointless for no reason may be the most challenging 20 minutes of your week. Don’t do it because it will bring meaning and effectiveness and purpose to the rest of your week.
Do it for no reason at all.
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It is only natural that the world of international development would itself develop and change over the years to adapt to the changing landscape of needs and local capacity.
At a panel discussion at Georgetown University entitled “The Changing World of International Development,” three development practitioners from leading organizations provided some insight into how their work has changed over…
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The latest case study from the forthcoming publication Strategies for Policy Reform discusses CIPE’s experience assisting the advancement of policy dialogue in Senegal that supports market-oriented reforms and private sector development. READ MORE
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Carimin Petroleum Berhad IPO
October 25, 2014 by
Carimin Petroleum Bhd, an Oil and gas (O&G) services provider, is scheduled to be listed in Main Market of Bursa Malaysia on 10th November 2014. The Initial Public Offering (IPO) consists of 60.7 million new ordinary shares and offer for sale of 5.89 million shares at an IPO price of […]
The post Carimin Petroleum Berhad IPO appeared first on 1-million-dollar-blog.
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Last year around this time we were fighting the war on women. Now as we approach the November election all we hear about is equal pay for women. If I were a woman I would be insulted that I was being used as a pawn for political gain.
I was going to write about this equal pay thing, but then recalled I already did a few months ago. I also recalled the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963 and that the EEOC has been enforcing it ever since. The facts never seem to stop the liberal left in its efforts [yeah I know the right is good at this too] to make people feel like victims or entitled. For example, I just saw this on Facebook.
Throwing around misleading information like women earn 77% of what men earn implying that means women are discriminated against is reprehensible.
True discrimination must not be tolerated and we have laws to make that happen. What we need to stop is making fools out of uninformed voters.
CAST YOUR VOTE IN OUR EQUAL PAY POLL ========>>>
Please comment on this topic, but before you do read this and this.
Filed under: Observations on life, Politics Tagged: equal pay for women, war on women
Misogyny: Every Little Bit Matters
October 24, 2014 by
« old Posts
I have been forced, through sheer volume of Twitter exposure, to learn what #Gamergate is.
I’m not a gamer. Never have been. I have no reason to take any interest at all in the internal politics of the gaming community. But there’s this stupid hashtag peppering my Twitter feed, compelling me to find out what the hell it means.
Well, sort of. I know what some of its proponents say it means and I know what basically all of its opponents say it means. To be frank, I don’t care how it started (actually, given that the term was coined by Adam Baldwin, I’m actively bummed to know how it started) or whether the original accusation of bias has any merit (seems like it doesn’t, but I’m not going to do enough research to be able to speak with any authority on that). Here’s what I care about: Gamergate, either by evolution or by design, is rife with enthusiastic misogyny. Its banner has flown above threats of rape, murder and at least one full-on terrorist attack. Feminists are the enemy and silencing them is way up there on the to do list.
If you’ve ever wondered why I have taken such a big interest in the issue of NHL ‘ice girls,’ this is why.
It’s because video games are rife with sexist tropes, and when a woman speaks too loudly about that topic she is driven from her home. Gamergate is a horror show of circular misogyny, in which a segment of the population so values its god-given right to demean women that it responds to any threat to that ‘right’ not by rethinking the practice, but rather by upping the ante and putting individual women in real danger of bodily harm (to say nothing of the relentless psychological abuse raining down on these women).
‘Ice girls’ are one part – a small part, perhaps, but a part – of why some men believe so deeply that they are more human than women are. ‘Ice girls,’ NFL cheerleaders, movie damsels in distress, video game hookers, everyone pictured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition: All are defined entirely by whether or not they’re pleasing to men, and by how men choose to react to them. This isn’t about actual sex workers, who certainly have their place in society; it’s about an overall image of womanhood that we accept, unthinking, because we’re so used to it.
Children of both genders see co-ed crews shoveling NHL ice, with the men in warm-up suits and women in sports bras and hot pants, and see that there’s a fundamental difference between what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, even when that man and that woman are doing the exact same job. Teens see an entire issue of the world’s leading sports magazine devoted to showing pictures of barely-dressed female models, and they learn that the sports world still caters directly, if not exclusively, to straight men. Grown men hear pundits blame women for provoking domestic abuse or muse about the commercial boost afforded by sexual assault charges, and conclude that ‘real men’ are entitled – and expected – to dominate women.
Add it up, and you get a bunch of male video game enthusiasts who simply cannot tolerate a woman trying to exert any influence over the content of those games. You get those same men, absolutely convinced that they are entitled to shut down that woman through absolutely any means, no matter how violent or cruel. After all, these intruders into the gaming world aren’t full-fledged people – they’re just women.
The best way to address this warped view is by preventing it from forming in the first place. No more placing ‘heroic’ males athletes next to scantily clad, seen-but-not-heard women. No more objectification of women in ‘family-friendly’ venues and outlets. No more making excuses for abusers just because we’d rather not view them as such. We have to demonstrate, every day and everywhere, that women are people, just the same as men are. Only by weaving that truth into the fabric of society can we start raising generations that see the world that way from the day one.
That’s not to let adults off the hook for their own bigotries. We’re grown-ups and we’re responsible for questioning and refining our own values, regardless of how they were initially formed. For those who haven’t begun that process yet, a tip: While there’s not always a clear right and wrong in every situation, if you find yourself threatening a stranger with bodily harm for expressing her opinion, then you are wrong. Most of the time, though, misogyny isn’t nearly that obvious. More often than not it comes attached to a grin rather than a snarl.
Rest assured, straight men, that feminists don’t seek to keep you from enjoying the sight of women’s bodies; rather, we’d like for everyone to remember that those bodies belong not to the men viewing them but to the women inhabiting them, and that those women have minds that deserve to be valued every bit as highly as men’s. Unfortunately, the sports and gaming worlds – and, to a slightly lesser extent, the world of pop culture – generally focus on women’s bodies to the exclusion of our minds. Little wonder, then, that those men who are most enamored with sports and gaming feel the most threatened when confronted with women who insist on being treated as more than just the sum of their physical parts.
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