Meme First!

I have been tagged with a meme by Mike.* For those of you unfamiliar with the concept – I’m looking in your direction, Geez – it’s definition time:

The Blog Meme
A blog meme is a type of Internet meme that requires active participation by the blogger and rarely traces back to an originating source. It’s often a series of questions that a blogger answers to share some personal perspective or experience on random topics.

Source: Quixtar Blog.

Aside from using the word “meme” in defining the term “Blog Meme” that definition seems pretty good. So I’ve been asked to answer a series of questions, basically. Here they are:

a) What issues/topic interests you most–non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, there are infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?

Honestly, I have such a great deal of difficulty narrowing the list of my topical interests down to the point where I could accurately specify that some interests predominate over others. I guess it would be fair to say that my curiosity is more likely to be piqued by articles/books/films/websites that concern technology, politics, science, music or literature than it is by knitting or decoupage but, as may already be evident, one of my enduring problems in life has been that I am (too?) easily amused, fascinated and distracted by detailed information on virtually any topic. I generally find such information infinitely more fascinating when I have a great deal of (other) work to do and very little time in which to accomplish it. I think that I could easily be mesmerized by almost any written material on any topic, provided that it is well-written and brings the historical context and the technical detail.

Some of my favourites include: (as previously detailed herein) an enormous and astonishingly entertaining article on – of all things – transoceanic telephone cables by Neal Stephenson; a biography – or was it a work of political history – of Lincoln and his political rivals and cabinet-members called Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin; and a book about the Beatles’ recording history, their pioneering work in the field of pop music engineering and somehow relating that to their general cultural relevance called Revolution in the Head. I am also a pretty big hockey fan, so I’ll read pretty much anything about that. Most recently, I read The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told, Bryant Urstadt’s excellent compilation of (mostly) non-fictional articles/excerpts about a variety of hockey people and events. I am also an enormous fan of Canadian art-rock pioneers the Rheostatics, and it so happens that Rheos’ rhythm guitarist Dave Bidini is a huge hockey fan and an emerging star as an author – Dave likes to write about music in general, the Rheostatics in particular and hockey too. It so happens that he’s also a very nice guy who took time out to help me once when I needed some advice about writing music for an independent film (Dave and the Rheos had previously recorded some stuff for Whale Music, Richard J. Lewis’ film adaptation of Paul Quarrington’s novel) so I’ll read pretty much anything he writes. It helps that he is quite a good writer; his stuff is unremittingly intimate, frequently quite funny and always honest. I recently finished Dave’s newest book, a travelogue of sorts called Around the World in 57 1/2 Gigs. My favourite work of Bidini’s however, is On a Cold Road, a unique book that is part travelogue (where it details the Rheostatics’ cross-Canada tour in support of their much more well-known Canadian counterparts The Tragically Hip) and part recitation of the oral history of live popular music in Canada.

I also confess to a soft spot for works from the social sciences, especially philosophy, economics and psychology. I have some John Kenneth Galbraith on my nightstand that I’ve dipped into a bit but which I’m looking forward to completing when the time is right. I also read with interest (on a recommendation from a friend) Without Conscience by Dr. Robert D. Hare, a book that as I understand it is the definitive work on psychopathy; I strongly recommend this book to anyone who works with people.

b) Would you like to review books concerning those?

I’ll cop a little bit of Mike‘s answer to this question: I struggle somewhat NOT to share my thoughts when I read something that I truly like. Nevertheless, I have to confess to a little hesitancy about it every now and then. When I was in fourth grade, I wrote a book report about a book that I had read that caused some concern among the teachers – the book was about the history of the Manhattan Project and, in my book report, I essentially set out how to build an atomic bomb. I want to be clear that I wasn’t suggesting that I was building such a device, and anyone with half a brain who stopped to think about it should have been able to figure out that this wasn’t much likely. Where the hell is a fourth grader going to get weapons-grade enriched plutonium, for goodness’ sake?

I got banished from the classroom to the library for a couple of years after that. So — caution is a bit of a watchword on the book review thing for me.

c) Would you like to be paid or do it as interest or hobby? Tell reasons for what ever you choose.

To be absolutely honest, I’d have to admit that there is a part of me that would love to get paid for writing what I think, regardless of whether that means I’m getting paid to review books or to write about sports, movies or (in the much more unlikely alternative) where I get my tremendous fashion sense. On the other hand, I am deeply unsure about whether I could put together some product day in and day out. I wouldn’t want to deal with the pressure to produce on a deadline because I can be very fussy about things I’ve written.

d) Would you recommend those to your friends and how?

I have always urged various things I’ve read upon friends, family members and (from time to time) strangers on a train. Before the advent of teh Intarwebs, I did this mostly face-to-face and often primarily when accessorized with a frosty BEvERage in hand, but now the magic of wires, electrons and glowing particles allows me to tippytap away on an idle word toaster and get all up in your face about it from many thousands of miles away. Lucky you.
e) If you have already done something like this, link it to your post.

I have to admit I’m not entirely sure what this question is asking about. I think I’m being asked if I’ve ever done a review of a non-fiction book – in written form. The answer to that is, “No, not since about tenth grade.” I did do something that I guess could be classified as a review of the Rheostatics’ last concert at Massey Hall on March 30th 2007, and you can find that here.

f) Please don’t forget to link back here or whoever tags you.

Mike tagged me with this meme, via Darla from a meme created here. As for tagging someone else (I think I’m supposed to actually pick ten people, but that is SO not going to happen), I am going to go with Joe because now that he is far away in warm and sunny Florida, he is less likely to be angry with me and therefore less likely to want to run me over with his car.


* For some time now, I’ve been referring to Mike (when speaking to Spouse) as “my Internet friend”, as in “My Internet friend visited my blog today and left a comment!” (whispered, I admit it, somewhat excitedly). I totally get that this is somewhat weird and possibly creepy; to me, it feels stylistically very much like being six and having an imaginary friend, which is to say that it’s about the greatest thing since all-day gobstoppers. Well, my Internet friend came to the rescue tagging me with this meme, because what I’ve recently been wanting to write about here is Dave Bidini’s book, but I’ve kind of been internally debating whether or not to do that on the site. This meme has encouraged me to do so, once I’ve got some time to gather my thoughts. Thanks, Mike and the friendly meme-makers!

By junior

Guitar owner and silly person.


  1. I admire non-fiction, but perhaps from a bit too afar and through too narrow a keyhole; likely there’s much more out there (the Stephenson article on cables was fascinating — I thought of it every time they were talking up the recent suspected sabotage) than my filters generally offer up.

    My teacher story is somewhat more benign — while we were learning script/cursive, we started off with easy letters — s, i, a, t, y, r, d, b, o, u, e — so in our spare time, I would experiment with stringing together different letters. “yes” “tad” “rat” … but “you bastard”, apparently, was over the line.

    In 1998, after having written a long, rambling thesis and keeping up a website about old Nikon technology (why yes, the SB-1 was a handle-mount flash; I have the guide number around here somewhere …), I quit the internet for a good long time. Part of it was just having burned out, and part of it was the creepiness of having the guy I was working on transferring my Nikon site to keep calling me up and inviting me to Malaysia (We have a F1 race! Here, have a TITANIUM CAMERA!). This, of course, was after I’d accidentally gone on a date with another man (long story, suffice to say that theVet and I’s first attempt at living together, summer 1997, left the wrong impressions with our neighbors), so I was already a bit wary of strangers.

    “Internet friend” does have a bit of a happy ring to it, though.

  2. I admire non-fiction, but perhaps from a bit too afar and through too narrow a keyhole — the Stephenson article on undersea cables was fascinating, and I thought of it every time they brought up the recent sabotage. Perhaps it’s time to reset my filters to bring more topics to attention.

    My in-trouble-with-teachers story is more benign — when we were learning script/cursive, we started off with easy letters — a, b, d, e, i, o, r, s, t, … so in my free time, I would string together a few into words: “cat”, “dog”, but apparently “rat bastard” was right out.

    In 1998, after having rambled on enough in a thesis for them to accept it, and after maintaining esoteric Nikon knowledge (the PK-13 extension ring couples the automatic diaphragm, allows for 27.5mm of extension (thus matching the 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor), and has an AI aperture transfer lever), I took a long break from the internet. Part of this was fueled by the guy I was working to transfer the Nikon site over to — kept getting creepy vibes from him through random invitations (Come to Malaysia for the F1 race!) and gifts (Here, have a TITANIUM CAMERA!). Of course, it didn’t help that I was coming off having accidentally gone on a date with a man (suffice to say that the theVet & I living-together experiment must have given off the wrong impressions, when she moved out to go to vet school after the summer), so was unnaturally prickly at the time.

    “Internet friend” does have a happy ring to it, though. And I promise to not send odd gifts.

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