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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I is For Insolvency

or Leonard Cohen

Also, I have some neat news in that jwcurry will be publishing my H is for Hosta or bp Nichol photo/postcard under his micro press, Curvd H&z. The limited edition print run should be 120 copies distributed by jwcurry in the near future. And in case you're wondering -- no, I will not be changing my name to jwmacdonald nor John UU.

I Like Books

Books. I like books. Okay, that phrase might be a tad understated. I love books. I have always loved books. I love everything about books. The codex format of words, sentences, and paragraphs neatly bound in between covers, appeals to me greatly. Books are portable knowledge, alternative entertainment, and even can be seen as accessories to decorate a room. I even like the smell of books.

I like all forms of the written word from comic books of my youth, to the graphic novels I now enjoy as an (ahem) adult. I quite enjoy my share of poetry, novels and novellas, and the occasional how-to books. I even subscribe to magazines devoted to books: Quill and Quire: Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews, and Books in Canada: The Canadian Review of Books. This is just to name two. There are many others. I frequently buy Canadian Notes & Queries, and the Literary Review of Canada, too.

The internet also offers a wealth of free access to websites such as literary weblogs like, Maud Newton's Blog, The Grumpy Old Bookman, Literary Saloon literary weblog on I frequently read the The New York Times Book Review, Guardian Unlimited Books,'s Books Etc.. There are many, many more.

Then there are the books about books. I have books about libraries, and how to build a personal library collection. I own several books on the values of books. I particularly enjoy reading about other people's pleasures of collecting books. The field of interest is wide as it is deep. There is a life time of reading and the discovery of a book is half the fun as the ownership.

This weblog that is hosted on my vanity website is loosely devoted to activities about current local literary readings, among my other interests. If an event sounds interesting and I have the time, I usually check it out. It is only recently that I started writing about these events and more recently photographing the events.

Last year I finally constructed a home library devoted to my collection. I also have some photos of favourite authors on its walls. On the shelves are many kinds of books and there are even free books I found on the streets. I have been given books as gifts. There are books purchased in bricks-and-mortar stores in most of the cities in Canada and afar; online bookstores; direct from the publisher and or author; at antiquarian book fairs; and on eBay; at garage sales; thrift stores; church basements; and even rescued books tossed out with the garbage. I have a perfectly good Teach-Yourself-Spanish book. I don't speak a word of Spanish, but you never know, one day, it might come in handy. Along the same vein, I have a vintage Enlish-Latin dictionary that was owned by my great-great-grand uncle. Again, you never know.

It would be fair to say that I take good care of my books. Like the Hippocratic Oath a medical doctor swears to uphold, I similarly swore to [myself] to "never do harm to... any books. With each new acquisition I carefully remove the DJ (dust jacket) and promptly wrap it in a protective mylar sleave lest it get dirty with fingerprints, chipped, ripped or soiled by an errant coffee mug. I belive that price clipping the inside corner of the DJ is tantamount to sacrilege. Yet I continue to see imported (American) books on shelves with the price already cut off from the corner of the flap. It is done, ostensibly, as to not confuse customers. You see, its crime is that the DJ only had one price labeled in American dollars. Snipped before it gets to store shelves. *Gasp!*

Incidentally, I have received comments at literary events where the author was stunned with the appearance of this mylar cover. If the book is worth writing and publishing, it's generally worth protecting. I believe it a sign of respect to both the book and its author. If only people would be in the frame of mind that were are only temporary holders of books then they may take care not to write over-sentimentalized birthday or Christmas greetings to their Aunt Betty or most favourite niece.

Some people have been blessed with beauty or the ability to not gain weight. I figure I have been blessed with good book-buying genes. I buy books for both reading pleasure and profit. I have whole collections of a few favourite authors. In some respects I am a completist. In other words, I like to have (almost and within reason) everything an author has written: articles written by the author, first editions, first printings, hard covers with pristine dustjackets preferable, soft cover releases if any, signed copies, inscribed copies, stories published in magazines, biographies of the author, memoirs by the author, and recollections of a person who even lived near the author.

I am not only limited to enjoying the physical aspects of the book, however. Books are written by people. To enjoy a book is also to enjoy the author. Hopefully this is the case. And from the authors I have met so far, I have not been severely disappointed.

I am a fan of authors and writers in general. Why? What a life is the life of a writer! It is so glamorously intellectual. What with all the speaking engagements, evening salons with their peers; other younger writers looking up to them for sage advice. Romantic view, eh? The other extreme and probably more realistic: it can be insanely lonely and unappreciative work given that their work actually be published in the first place. Well, it certainly beats lifting heavy objects for a living.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Elderly Persons

The Rolling Stones rocked Ottawa on Sunday evening at Lansdowne Park.

Freelance Ticket Exchange Specialists aka scalpers were out in full force Sunday. I overheard that a pair of floor tickets close to the stage could fetch just under $800 at the closing of the opening act.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

free shipping

I like the sound of this. Booksellers McNally Robinson offers free Canada Post (expedited parcel post service) in Canada. This applies to book orders over $30). I seriously would like to know if other (online) stores offer this service.

Guardian first book award longlist

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

War of the Poets exhibit

From Steven Artelle:
This is the final week to check out our [Ottawa] literary history exhibit, "The War of the Poets: Literary Culture and Community, 1895-2005," at the Nepean Museum, 16 Rowley Ave., off Meadowlands just west of Merivale Road. Admission is free! For museum hours visit

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How many books did YOU sell?

Barry Callaghan's latest book gets sort of a nod in Books in Canada. (I'd provide a link, but BiC is not online.) I say 'sort of' because although Michael Greenstein reviews, briefly, Callaghan's Raise You Five, he finishes the piece off with a demoralizingly flip comment:

"Raise You Five is very much of its time, but Callaghan trumps the Toronto Telegram in these essays that go beyond local interest. With volumes 2 and 3 he should have a full deck: high fives to Barry Callaghan who deserves more than four or five readers."

Well, either I am the number six reader, or worse... included in the number four or five. Yes, the comments are surely meant figuratively but it's a heck of a way to conclude a review. Thanks, I think?

I guess it could always be worse... like this book review of Portable Altamont, by Brian Joseph Davis. Reviewed by Zach Wells:
“This book strikes me as the product of boredom; it’s a colossal waste of time to read, and one can only imagine the hours of human labour irretrievably lost in its production.” via FHOLE

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Ottawa's Greek Fest wrapped up its final night tonight. Some personal numbers from this week to share.
Number of gyros on pitas consumed: 6
Number of baklavas: 8
Number of unpronouncable desserts: 1
Number of kilometers walked to get to Greek Fest: approx 7
Number of photos of dancers with hankies: 162
Number of calories due to honey on desserts: countless thousands

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ottawa Writers Festival Fall Events

From their website:
"The 9th Annual Ottawa International Writers Festival, presented by the Ottawa Citizen, is almost here! We'll be hosting some of the planet's best writers at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, from September 29 to October 6, 2005. The Complete schedule will be available right here in late August, so stay tuned!

Next up, September 12, is Jane Urquhart. As an added bonus anyone who buys their Festival Pass before then will be guaranteed free access to Jane's event as well as the entire Fall Edition of the Ottawa International Writers Festival! "

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Upcoming Events at Collected Works

Thursday, September 8
Poets John Barton and Anita Lahey read at Collected Works - 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 22
Author and rock star Dave Bidini reads at Collected Works - 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 25
Author Sean Henry reads at Collected Works - 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, September 28
Authors Lisa Moore and Jacklyn Moriaty read at The Table - 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 16
Author Mark Foss reads at Collected Works - 2:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 19
Author Tracy Quan reads at The Table - 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 3
Author Shyam Selvadurai reads at Collected Works - 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rideau Heron

at Dow's Lake

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bywords Summer Beat Photos August issue is now online. Catharine Carroll has written about the recent "Bywords Summer Beat (the heat)" in which numerous local poets read at the downtown location of Chapters. (Oh yeah, it has event photos taken by me, too.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

CBC Lockout

Here's the scene this morning on Sparks Street in Ottawa. Strangely different atmosphere from two months ago during CBC's grand opening in early June. Where's the love?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I’m lost in the library, stranded in the stacks.

The first part of the George Bowering section rob mclennan is editing has just appeared in Australia's online Jacket magazine.

"I’m a standing huckleberry wearing stained slacks."
- George Bowering

Photography Forum Poem

Recently came across this post in my favourite photo forum web site. Thought it was sheer poetry:

sorry English
I am Brazilian
athis is my first dslr,

gained it you
with 2 days and

these photos are the first tests,
still are getting used with camera!
what you they find of the photos?
I love you camera

I think the last line is the clincher. Yes, I know that English is the person's second (third?) language. I am not making fun. But 'I love you camera' was great and wrapped up the person's feeling in four words. How poetic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

2005 Man Booker Prize Longlist

Man Booker Prize longlist was announced this morning. Here are the seventeen authors up for the prize this Fall:

Aw, Tash: The Harmony Silk Factory
Banville, John: The Sea
Barnes, Julian: Arthur & George
Barry, Sebastian: A Long Long Way
Coetzee, J.M.: Slow Man
Cusk, Rachel: In the Fold
Ishiguro, Kazuo: Never Let Me Go
Jacobson, Dan: All For Love
Lewycka, Marina: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Mantel, Hilary: Beyond Black
McEwan, Ian: Saturday
Meek, James: The People’s Act of Love
Rushdie, Salman: Shalimar The Clown
Smith, Ali: The Accidental
Smith, Zadie: On Beauty
Thompson, Harry: This Thing Of Darkness
Wall, William: This Is The Country

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Maxine Samuels, Producer

Montreal writer Martin C. Barry is doing a little research on the late Canadian TV and film producer Maxine Samuels, and found my weblog with Richler's comment on her. Paraphrasing from Mr. Barry's email, he said "in retirement before her death in 2001, Ms. Samuels lived in an apartment tower not far from his home in west end Montreal." He goes on to say "it seems she was one of Canada's most dynamic independent television producers, even if she has remained relatively unknown. Richler's comment is not surprising."

He saw my web page for Mordecai Richler who referred to Samuels in a response to being invited to be a member of a Canadian Society of Film Makers. Maxine Samuels, for those who are unfamiliar with her, was one who brought the Canadian iconic 1960s TV-series, The Forest Rangers, to the masses. One of my favourite shows as a kid (I watched in re-runs) -- up there with The Beachcombers.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday Sunset Ballon Ride

Cooly cruising to the canal, we stopped by Carleton University to catch a couple of hot air balloons launch for the sunset vista over awesome Ottawa.

Sunset from Queen Elizabeth Drive looking towards Dows Lake Pavillion, Ottawa.

Friday Night Soul on Sparks

A little musical secret on the Sparks Street Mall I caught downtown on last Friday evening. Frank Lindo Soul Review was the featured act last Friday, August 5th.
"Classic R&B at its Soulful Best"

There are different musical themes on different days:
- Courtyard Romance: featuring the music of southern France, Italy and Spain in Clarendon Court (Wednesdays)
- Sparks St. Soul: featuring hard hitting soul bands (Fridays)
- Sparks St. Swing: featuring swingin' big bands (Saturdays)
All concerts are from 7-10pm and brought to you by

Friday, August 05, 2005

Place Bell Books Closing

Yep, another independent bookstore is closing. They are currently holding a 30% off sale (End of Lease)...even the furniture is up for grabs. A few months back there was a lot of concern and talk of a popular Montreal bookstore closing, The Double Hook. Well, it's happening here in Ottawa. The old Brit, Mr. Hatfield, was interesting to chat with on my lunch breaks. He even lent me a book or two from his personal collection. He once told me recently that I was one of the only people from my place of work that visited his store... sad to say, eh? I went to visit the store on Saturday afternoon to wish him well and get some good deals. It took me 10 minutes of asking but I finally found out his age. The man has excellent genes. No, I won't divulge his age either. Happy retirement!

Shane Rhodes Ottawa reading

On August 9, Tree Reading Series proudly presents Shane Rhodes, an Ottawa poet, reading from Tengo Sed (Greenboathouse Books, 2004) and Holding Pattern (NeWest Press, 2002).

Tree Reading Series. Royal Oak II Pub, 161 Laurier Avenue E., Ottawa. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Open Mic at 8:00 p.m. Feature is on at 9:00 p.m. Call (613) 565-0080 or check the website, Free event.

Further on down the road...
span-o (the small press action network - ottawa) presents Thursday, September 8 a reading by John Barton (Victoria BC) & Anita Lahey (Ottawa) lovingly hosted by rob mclennan 7:30pm; Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeebar, 1242 Wellington Street (at Holland Avenue), Ottawa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ottawa's Sound and Light Show

Every evening from July 5th to September 11, on Ottawa's Parliament Hill, visitors and residents are treated to a free 30 minute bilingual sound and light show. Center Block becomes an enormous projection screen for the show which begins at 9pm; the second show repeats again at 10pm for late night visitors. They even have portable bleachers brought in for convenience. If you can't make it, you can catch a sneak peak online at Parliament's very own "Hill Cam".

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

2005 Glengarry Highland Games

A big Mr. Greg Hadley heaves a telephone pole sized caber at last weekend's Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville, Ontario. Ask any Scot what he wears beneath his kilt and he'll surely tell you - shoes and socks.

I left my kilt at home this weekend in favour of cooler cotton shorts. I may consider wearing it again next year when I lose a couple of inches around the waist. Dang thing lacks pockets you know, and the sporran can only hold so much.

Here are the events in which the competitors participated:
Stone (20Lbs.)
Weight for Distance (56Lbs.)
Weight for Distance (28Lbs.)
Hammer Throw (22Lbs.)
Hammer Throw (16Lbs.)
Weight for Height (56Lbs.)
Sheaf Toss (16Lbs.)
Caber (Regulation)
Challenge Caber (To qualify for this event, the competitor must have successfully turned the regulation caber.)

2005 Man Booker Prize Dates

This year’s Man Booker Prize key dates:

- Wednesday 10 August Longlist announcement
- Thursday 8 September Shortlist announcement and press conference
- Monday 10 October Winner announced at Guildhall broadcast live on BBC 2 and BBC 4.