Posts Tagged ‘Chloë Filson’

Precious readers, I am working on getting all my ducks in a row, as they say.


These are my sister-in-law’s ducks. She teaches violin and viola lessons, and she puts a duck on a student’s head when she is trying to get them to practice good posture as they play. So you see, the ducks have a purpose in life other than being adorable, which they also are.

This post is a quick status update re: this blog and my personal creative (ad)ventures.

It has been a bit slow on this blog for the past few months. You may have noticed. Full confession: I’m rethinking the blog almost entirely, but slowly. What I mean is, I’ve been rethinking but not redoing, as of yet. So maybe something interesting will happen to it in the future—that fabled future—you know the one—the one in which I have “more free time” and “more energy to spend” on such a project. I’m sure you are all awaiting the same future.

Let me reassure you, though, that in the present my real life feels artful. Maybe I’ve just been living the dream instead of blogging it. Some exciting things that I’m currently involved in are

  • designing a book jacket,
  • redesigning a website for a local religious community (lots of copy-writing on my end, and consultation with the team),
  • working full-time (building e-books!) and doing some freelance publishing work,
  • singing in an adorable little choir,
  • organizing a weekly study/discussion group,
  • doing some occasional creative writing (for funzies!), and
  • writing a graduate project report (essentially a thesis without the oral defense). Yikes, this is the big one.

I’m terribly lucky and grateful to be doing so many things that I love, but, as you can imagine, this stuff adds up; my time and energy are naturally being channeled in these directions.

I’m not giving up on blogging, don’t worry. In fact, I intend to blog about each of these things as I complete them or as they become public and available in some way. I just wanted to explain why it’s been quiet around here.

I hope you’ve all got exciting things going on too! What kinds of projects do you have in the works? I’d be interested in hearing about them.


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That may sound extreme, but consider the meaning of “fair trade”:

Fair trade is an organized social movement that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. (Wikipedia)

True, Canada is not a developing country. But its book publishers are facing difficult—nigh hostile—trading conditions, and the sustainability of Canadian cultural production is in the balance.

When we buy from local bookstores, we are supporting local business. When we buy books from Amazon, we are buying from a giant multinational corporation. We know this. We also know that Amazon is successful because they offer excellent customer service and they make everything extremely convenient. Fine. I can appreciate a business doing its business well. (Now, Wal-Mart is also doing business well… if “business” means driving down prices and running local stores into the ground in a race to the bottom. Reminds me a little of Amazon….)

Now, this paragraph will seem unrelated, but bear with me…. Vancouverites are especially conscientious buyers. I’ve come to appreciate this during the year I’ve lived here. The little produce store near my (admittedly too expensive) apartment offers more organic, fair-trade fare than many of the supermarkets I frequented when I lived in other provinces. There are so many vegetarian and vegan restaurants here, and so many sustainability-oriented organizations and businesses! All I ask is that we extend our critical purchasing behaviors (purchasing power) to the arts, and support what local artisans and artists we can.

I hone in on Vancouver for a reason: this city is the home of Douglas & McIntyre, the largest independent (that is, Canadian-owned) book publisher in the country—which announced last week that it would be filing for bankruptcy.

The Globe and Mail broke the story and then elaborated on it (rather melodramatically). The National Post captured reactions, such as this comment from a literary agent in Toronto:

“This is a business that is legendary for complaining, and people saying the sky is falling, but I think that there is some truth to the concerns,” says Kaiser. “You cannot easily manage all of the changes going on in this industry as an independent.” (National Post)

My cohort (I study publishing) freaked out a bit:

Speculations about the future of D&M (significant ones in this CBC article) are not entirely hopeless, but other Canadian publishing companies, authors, libraries, and readers (that means you, probably)—not to mention D&M’s laid-off employees—are reeling from the blow. Steph, of the blog Bella’s Bookshelves, may have summed it up best:

Dear D&M, I’m rooting for you. You are beautiful, you are smart, you are important. Canada loves you.

I am reeling too. I reeled more intensely a few days ago, but still, there is some reeling. I love books, all forms. I own many shelves of bound paper, but I am also a frequent user of my e-reader (so don’t go thinking I’m biased toward one form of publishing or another). I also study publishing, and I spent my summer proofreading and building ebooks for a delightful independent Canadian publisher (this one—huzzah!). So all of this is on my mind.

I also recently attended Mini TOC [Tools of Change] Vancouver, a conference about digital publishing, at which interactive-book designer Talent Pun wryly observed that book publishers are having to become software companies or perish, today. And they don’t know how to market software yet. And many may not survive long enough to learn.

Don’t mistake me for one of the fear-mongers; there is some hand-wringing going on in publishing, but the end of the world is not nigh. Matt Williams, VP of House of Anansi (second-largest—nope,  now the largest indie Canadian book publisher), wrote the best response I’ve seen to this ruckus on Anansi’s blog, Inside the House. (If you only check out one of the links in this post, choose that one.)

Still, D&M represented Western Canadian and non-Toronto-centric publishing. There is something to be said for that.

Forgive the jumble of thoughts.

Canada’s fair trade organization highlights the principles behind the term “fair trade”, and I ask you to focus on that as well:

Fair Trade is a … way of doing business. It’s about making principles of fairness and decency mean something in the marketplace.

It seeks to change the terms of trade for the products we buy – to ensure the farmers and artisans behind those products get a better deal. Most often this is understood to mean better prices for producers, but it often means longer-term and more meaningful trading relationships as well.

For consumers and businesses, it’s also about information. Fair Trade is a way for all of us to identify products that meet our values so we can make choices that have a positive impact on the world. (Fairtrade Canada)

Sounds laudable to me. And desirable. And doable. Let’s think about justice, and let’s act justly. I reflect on the following words, written by Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Baha’i Faith (the Faith I strive to live by), all of which are comments on our responsibility to promote justice, in both little and big ways:

The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.

Be fair to yourselves and to others, that the evidences of justice may be revealed through your deeds…

Observe equity in your judgment, ye men of understanding heart! He that is unjust in his judgment is destitute of the characteristics that distinguish man’s station.

No radiance can compare with that of justice. The organization of the world and the tranquillity of mankind depend upon it.

(quoted in this section of The Advent of Divine Justice by Shoghi Effendi)

Justice is a value I use as much as possible to steer my purchasing decisions. It’s difficult, and not always possible, because we do not (yet) live in a just world—and I’m certainly not perfect at it—but it is vital that we try.

I realize I have been messily tossing book retailing and book publishing all together, as though they were one business. This is not the case, though they are interdependent.

But think of it as more opportunities to practice justice in our daily lives: we all have the power to choose which retailers or vendors we buy from, and we also have the power to check publishers out. Buy the book you want, obviously, but choose local stores and homegrown publishers if and when you possibly can.

I might be preaching to the choir, here, and I am okay with it. Solidarity!

Let’s end on a hopeful—nay, enthusiastic—note. Books are not dead, nor is publishing, despite the moaning and wailing. For one thing, there are lots of interesting conversations happening about the future of content (for what are books if not beautifully prepared textual and visual content?). Here are a few of the most exciting:

What can I say now but this: happy reading!

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Did you all see that Book Week game thing that’s been going around on Facebook? (What is Book Week anyway?) I evidently jumped on the bandwagon, because below is my contribution to the game (and you’ll notice I have masterfully blurred the names to protect the innocent). You’ll also notice that a game emerged…

Well, if you read those comments, you can see what happened. In this post, I present to you the fruits of our labour: a crazy story that makes no sense, made up of 33 sentences from all kinds of books.

I dedicate this whole thing to William S. Burroughs, because that crazy dude would have loved this sh—.

Without further ado:


Mama’s Contemporary Decay

by Chloë Filson and Pat Crosby, kind of

Visible speech diagrams and voiceprints have confirmed that these actually are recorded voices.

“God forbid it, Lord!” he said, “That must never happen to you!” After the death of the Duke of Kent, she declared she stood, with her daughter, ‘friendless and alone, in a country that was not her own’.

“Is that really what it says?” asked Sri. His hair, according to the ancient custom of the Persian nobility, flowed to His shoulders. “Well, when I took my sheep through the fields some of them might have died if we had come upon a snake.”

“In the first place,” said the Rector, looking rather grave, “it would be nonsensical to expect that I could convince Brooke, and make him act accordingly.” At the end of these two years he had become able to walk and help himself a little, though unable to provide for his own necessities.

She unwittingly licked her lips, although he did not believe it was from fear.

People might want to write down in their journals any new thoughts about their timeline progression during the next week. This was one of the hardest times in my life. Any doubts, ask for help.

She is the creation of something else altogether.

The paths are paralleled with and perpendiculared by wood and wire fences that hold cows, and sometimes sheep, and all this is minutes away, all there, from our house, our house behind which there’s even a hiking trail that reaches, just about reaches, the huge rock.

Mama and I were both in the kitchen, much cosier there than the dining room, and though still not out of her dressing gown, Mama was eating a third slice of toast, her appetite returned at last. Along with a few Egyptian pounds my mother had saved, we had enough to buy another house.

“Sorry,” said Mr. Zik.

Answer: Roasted Garlic!

There is another kind of pleasure that arises neither from our receiving what the body requires, nor its being relieved when overcharged, and yet by a secret, unseen virtue affects the senses, raises the passions, and strikes the mind with generous impressions; this is the pleasure that arises from music.

If you have any questions about how to use this service, check out the FAQs link under the title. That’s always been my way. Brush alternate thumbs down and outward, with a light strike. He laughed, stroking her thick hair.

Serve steak with peppers and onions.

They reason that a triangular or pentagonal room is inconceivable. Organic chemists have synthesized molecules that behave like motors, molecules that mimic nature’s process in bioengineering, and others that hold promise for new molecular devices in computing. This image makes it easy to comprehend the social bases of the contemporary decay of the aura.

Depending on the enzyme, the co-factor may be an ion of a metal element such as copper or iron,r an organic molecule needed to assist the reaction in some particular way. Certainly, others were interested in the synthesis of RNA; but they were split in interminably argumentative factions, bickering among themselves about their favoured hypotheses.

I think old Nick put those marks on her neck. At that moment the bottom fell out of Arthur’s mind.

Describe the clinical presentation of a child with non-perforated appendicitis and with perforated appendicitis. Andy grinned.

The End.


Here is a fun addendum: during the game, Pat discovered that his copy (mass-market paperback version) of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale had no page 52! It wasn’t missing any text—just a page number. We have photo evidence of the pagination fail:

Hope you enjoyed this whole thing. We sure had fun.

Ten points for each sentence whose source you can guess!

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Being BFFs in the digital age means—if you are both creative types (or think you are)—that much of your friendship will be public (in that it will be accessible online). This is especially true if you do not live in the same locale as your BFF. And it may also mean that when birthdays come along—as one has now—that they are celebrated in public.

So, yes: happy birthday Samuel!

Much of our best-friendship is accessible online. Not our childhoods, or our summer-camp years, or our amazing dinner parties, but some things. Including:

Below is another example of our hilarity that I haven’t yet had the chance to post in any kind of relevant way, and I will now be using this post as an excuse to do just that. It is a survey, put together by Samuel, and emailed to me to fill out, after I reminded him to keep me in the loop about his travels (apparently he had gotten a few too many such emails? and this was his reaction?):

With that, I sign off, because I can wish Samuel a happy birthday in no better way than by celebrating his sense of humour in public. He will JUST LOVE that.

(Samuel, please also attend the mail slot at your parents’ home this week, for no particular reason…)

Samuels are what August Fifths were made for.

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With thanks to Samuel the Also FunnyBFF, email correspondent, and collaborator on this blog post.


Drop everything.


Auto shows in China


ransom negotiations


I think me having your phone number right now is a human right.


Object Permanence Vegetarian Potluck


reminder about your commitment to my blog


Imminent danger.


Gingerbread Fortress!


Just because I’m too cheap to text you while I’m roaming doesn’t mean I love you any less.


Hair gel, deodorant and your heart


my writings on food and foodlessness


UTMOST IMPORTANCE: Predict things right now


classy poo


Australia redesign


An email about a fundraiser or petition or something


I just want to celebrate, so come make me dinner.


Remember when you were writing that low-key story about people that just happened to also have epic robot fights?


I feel like our obnoxiousness level has been dipping of late. We need to work on this.


Prime Minister Batman


You know what time it is here? Do the math.




Bread Problems for London


Mongolian girls


Dear Samuel, this is a funny thing that you should send to all of your friends when you aren’t at work. Love, Samuel


Tasering our way to the zombie apocalypse


So that you can fasten knives to the bottom of your feet.


This time it’s war.


The plot thins.


Please tell me that for once I discovered something amazing on the internet before you.


Clapping playlist – essential for saving the world


Remember the photo with the poo in the background?


future in-family jokes predicted




Your forthcoming membership in Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists™


My life is such a big deal right now.


The First Annual Epic Dry Run Bike Ride of Bonding to End All Bad Experiences for Moms Everywhere








Dispatches from the Continent that Brought you Black People – Episode 1








Memorial Service Black-Tie Farewell Party Vegetarian Potluck


teeth in China


Don’t worry, we saved the paintings.

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