Monday, May 31, 2010

Eddie braindump

I just got back from seeing Eddie Izzard again!! This isn't at all cohesive, but I want to write stuff down before I forget. I know at one point in the show I was doubled over with laughter struggling to breathe at some throwaway line, and I can't for the life of me remember what it was any more!!!! Plus at least two brand new blog posts were inspired by this show, and I can't remember them either.*

- The experience was far less intense for me because it wasn't the first time. Last time I was agog and in awe of the simple fact that he's real. This time that wasn't there. Similarly, some of the lines I didn't laugh out loud and viscerally at because I knew they were coming. I'm wondering if a significant portion of the audience had also been there at previous shows, because we didn't standing O his entrance this time. Which is unfortunate - I wanted to do it on principle - but maybe we weren't collectively feeling the sheer awe that he is real and right there because we had already been through that just a few weeks ago. Maybe this is a bad idea though, maybe we should have forced ourselves to react like it's new, because we certainly don't want Eddie to think he has to wait another seven years before he comes back so he'll get a proper welcome.

- The show is less scripted than I expected. The set pieces were there, loosely plotted, and the key beats were there, but everything in between was just Eddie being Eddie. I'd thought that more of it was scripted in a way to make it sound unscripted, but it seems it's mostly just Eddie. Which is fantastic, because that's what I'm here for - to spend time inside Eddie's brain.

- Eddie was wearing jeans that were so tight that they showed off his post-marathon leg muscles nearly as well as fishnets. Not jeggings, actual jeans. Regardless of how you feel about that as a fashion statement, you have to admire it as a design achievement! In addition to the expected collection of inappropriate thoughts, I want to have a girl talky conversation with Eddie about these jeans. Precisely how comfortable or uncomfortable are they? (They had some stretch to them, but looked like they had the potential to be uncomfortable.) How many did he have to try on to find that exact look? Were they altered? How often does he wash them? Can he sit in them? Does he really need that belt?

- With Eddie wearing makeup and heels this time (along with the same boy-mode costume, but this time with the astoundingly tight jeans), I noticed that his hairdo is masculine. I had never before in my life consciously realized that short hair styles can be gendered! I've always just parsed them as Other and irrelevant and moved on.

- I just noticed this time around that the giant squid is writing a TripAdvisor review with INK! Yeah, because you can totally send handwritten reviews to websites. (Why yes, that is the most egregious of all plot holes in that bit.)

- The seats in Massey Hall are SO uncomfortable! They make me want to sit with my legs rather wide apart, but I can't do that because the seats are close together and the strange older man beside me is rather large and wearing shorts, and I'm just not going to open my legs while wearing a shortish skirt and rub my bare leg against a strange man's bare leg. Most comfortable would have been to sit knee-crossed-over-ankle, but there simply wasn't room to do that (even if I was willing to be improper and invade personal space), so when I got home I had to spend some time in triangle poses. If it's this bad for me, imagine how bad it would be for people with stiff joints, or especially tall people! Dear Massey Hall, please fix this!

- I don't care what anyone says, there are few sights more beautiful than Eddie making himself laugh

- At one point, Eddie dares God to prove his existence by showing himself, and then offers him various bribes to do so (cash, smoothies, etc.) Today he also offered him 12 virgins, then 23 virgins, then 72 people with experience. My thought: are there 23 (or even 12) virgins in this room, like at all?

- I noticed today that whenever Eddie did his write-on-his-hand oops-not-funny thing, it was always in cases where I wasn't laughing, but I wasn't not laughing because it wasn't funny. I wasn't laughing because I was waiting with rapt anticipation and bated breath to hear what he'd say next. I wish there was some way to communicate "Yes, and...?" to the person on stage.

- (In retrospect, putting my purse between my knees might have helped with the uncomfortable seats.)

- The black-market merch guys were still out there (different guys, same set-up) so I guess that means they did make enough money last time. Either that, or they had a bunch of extra merch left over from the last run and this was their best chance to move some of it.

- At one point, Eddie was on a tangent about how the word sheep doesn't pluralize, and a bunch of all different people in the audience shouted out "MOOSE!" And I was thinking that too, I just didn't shout it out because it didn't seem the moment. But it was just so interesting that so many people were thinking exactly the same thing at that point. There are other words that don't pluralize, but we all thought of the same one, to the extent that probably 7 people felt the need to shout it out (and this at a point in the show where he wasn't asking us to shout things at him).

- The interesting thing about sitting close to the stage (Second row centre!!! Best seats I've ever had for anything in my life!) is how the audience feels different to me as an audience member. The audience as I was experiencing it was me and Poodle, the very enthusiastic group of die-hards in front of us, and the older couple next to me who kept repeating funny lines to each other. The reaction of the audience as a whole was travelling to Eddie in waves over our heads, not touching us at all.

- Overall, the show as a whole was looser and more relaxed than the previous one. I think a significant portion of the audience had seen it before, but even without the surprise it was still entirely entertaining. I would very happily do this once a month at the same price point for a very long time.

"I'm very good at pure logic. I have to be - I'm a transvestite!" - E. Izzard.

*Oh, I just remembered: the line was supposed to be "everyone take a frog and put it on your head" (plot point in Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt) but Eddie either accidentally or deliberately-repeating-a-previous-mistake-that-had-humour-value said "everyone take a frog and put it on one of your heads" or something like that, then took rather a circuitous route back in a way that alluded to Inspector Tiger. I'm obviously not communicating the humour here, but for some reason it just killed me.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things They Should Invent: shyness drugs

From today's Miss Conduct:

Two of my co-workers are expecting. One of the women is friendly to everyone. The other will walk by me without replying to a hello. She does this to many people and only talks to her select friends. One of her friends has planned a dual shower for both (it is suspected that this is the only way people would go to a shower for the second woman). I am not attending because of a prior commitment. I had planned on buying a gift for the first woman and giving it to her at a different time, but some people are planning to buy a joint gift for the second woman. I know I am not the only one who feels uncomfortable buying a gift for someone who does not make any effort to be friendly to everyone.

I've seen this sentiment a number of times before, and what shocks me and baffles me and makes me want to weep every single time is that people think this is snobby and malicious, and don't see that it is so obviously a sign of shyness. (Although props to Miss Conduct for recognizing that in her answer!)

Apparently there are a lot of very loud people out there who have no idea what it's like to be shy. They don't know that eye contact is physically difficult. Seriously, it feels incredibly intense and your first instinct is to look away. They don't know that it would literally never occur to us that a stranger/casual acquaintance might want a hi how are you from us, because they're obviously cool people with their own lives so why on earth would they need us? It's not malice, it's a desire to quietly keep out of everyone's way!

And having it interpreted as malicious makes it even worse for the shy person (and, consequently, even worse for the co-workers who do want an eye contact hi how are you). I do eventually unshy once I feel safe in a particular context, with particular people, but it takes time and external validation. Having it considered malice just makes it worse and puts the barrier towards unshying further and further out of reach. If I were the shy woman in the letter, I wouldn't have thought anything about not getting as many gifts as my colleague. Obviously she's cooler and better-liked, that only makes sense. My feelings wouldn't even have been hurt, I would simply have seen that as the natural order of things. However, because that is so obviously the natural order of things, it would lead me to renew my pattern of eyes down don't disturb anyone. That isn't passive-aggressive, that's just the only response that would ever occur to me. However, if I got just as many gifts as the other woman and was treated as an equally valued member of the team, that might make me feel like they do actually want me and are actually interested in me, which would make me more likely to say hi to them.

I've been working on doing the eye contact hi how are you thing for nearly half my life, and it's still work. Making eye contact with someone I'm not close to is like trying to push like magnetic poles together. I can do it, but I have to struggle against my natural instincts to do so. (I even have a memory of adults getting offended at my lack of eye contact when I was a preschool child. You're a preschooler, doing the only thing that it even occurs to you to do (it feels intense so you look away) and grown adults are taking offence because you're not doing the thing that is so against your every instinct that it would never occur to you. What do you even do with that? No wonder I always felt like the world had a secret set of rules that no one had told me about!) It's like doing the splits. You can train long and hard to get flexible enough that you can do the splits, and if you practice your routine enough you will eventually fall into the splits at the right point. But it will never be natural. You'll never get to a place where you're at home, with no one watching, just sprawled out reading a book, and you end up in the splits.

Anyway, my point: someone should invent drugs that make non-shy people feel shy just temporarily, like for a day or two. So people could see first-hand what it's like when your every instinct has you wanting to walk quickly by, eyes down, so they don't see you and you don't see them. Then maybe we'll all be able to understand each other better and unshy people more quickly.

(And yes, I would be interested in experimenting with the opposite drug to make me feel outgoing, but I'd probably end up becoming an addict.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

How to fix your computer freezing after the latest ZoneAlarm upgrade

After the latest ZoneAlarm update (I got it on Friday, May 28), my computer started slowing and freezing. I'm running Windows XP on a five-year-old computer, 2.8 GHz processor and 2 gigs of RAM. Not the best, but it had served me well right up until that upgrade.

Sometimes after boot-up, nothing would work. Like I'd click on something and after five minutes it still hadn't loaded, and even the Task Manager would freeze. I also started getting errors when launching Sims 3, "Application failed to initialize properly." I tried a system restore to before the ZoneAlarm upgrade, but that didn't help.

The ultimate solution ended up being to uninstall and reinstall the ZoneAlarm upgrade, but not installing all the components. Unfortunately I failed to write down the exact name of the interface items, but there's a window with three checkboxes asking what you want to install. The first checkbox is the regular firewall, I forget what the second is, and the third offers to put a ZoneAlarm security function in your Google toolbar. If you uncheck the second, the third is greyed out.

The first time around (which caused all the problems), I'd chosen all three. The second time around, I chose only the first of the three. The installation went smoothly and there have been no problems since.

So what's going on in Scandinavia?

I've seen a number of articles lately (like this) saying that the situation in Greece demonstrates that the European model of socialism is unsustainable, often implying that this means we should stop aspiring to it ourselves.

These articles focus on Greece, and also cite in passing other European countries such as Italy, Germany, France and Britain.

But I have never seen any of them mention any Scandinavian countries.

Scandinavia is most often held up as the very best example of European socialism, where the concept works better than anywhere else. But I haven't heard anything about how they're doing in this economic crisis. I know something serious happened in Iceland, which I think was related to the kinds of bad debt investments that triggered this whole thing, but I haven't heard anything about any of the other Scandinavian countries.

So how are they doing up there? And why are our media never using them as an example of anything?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More information please: sound cannon edition

Toronto police have purchased four, long-range acoustic devices (LRAD) — often referred to as sound guns or sound cannons — for the upcoming June 26-27 summit, the Star has learned.


Of Toronto’s newly-acquired LRADs, three are handheld devices that can broadcast noise heard from 600 metres away. Their volume can reach 135 decibels, which surpasses the pain threshold of 110 to 120.

The fourth device is a larger model that can be mounted on vehicles or marine vessels and can generate noise reaching 143 decibels, audible from as far as 1500 metres.

Before we even get into the question of whether this is a reasonable/advisable approach to protesters, we have to think about collateral damage. This is a high-density area, and the vast majority of the people in the area will be ordinary people just doing their jobs and going about their lives.

What would the ratio of people targeted by the cannon to other innocent people who just happen to be within range? How many people live within range? Aren't there a number of hospitals in the area? Doesn't the subway go right under it? What happens if a subway driver suddenly feels the need to clamp their hands over their ears? Are they blocking the entire sound cannon range off to cars? If not, what happens if a street full of people driving cars all feel the need to clamp their hands over their ears? How does being near the line of fire of a sound cannon affect children? Dogs? Birds? Wildlife? The scientific experiments that are doubtless being conducted somewhere within U of T?

We need to know this has been given all the consideration it deserves, especially since the Toronto Police are apparently keeping these devices.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Things They Should Invent: do not disturb signs for dogs

Some people like it when random people pay attention to their dog while walking down the street. Others don't - maybe it interferes with the dog's training, maybe the dog doesn't deal well with strangers, maybe they're in a hurry and don't want to have to stop for every squeeing idiot. The problem is, as a squeeing idiot, I have no way of knowing which dogs are which. I don't want to annoy anyone or ruin anyone's training, but at the same time I love your dog and don't want to miss a chance to interact if it will make everyone happy.

So what we need is some kind of standardized, easily-visible convention for leashes or collars or something that indicates to the onlooker that the dog does not want to be disturbed, similar to how service dogs have a distinctive harness. Perhaps it could be something temporary that you could add to an existing leash setup, in case your dog is okay with being disturbed sometimes but not always.

Random idea that came to me while typing: neckerchiefs. Sometimes people put neckerchiefs on dogs (which has always baffled me - it seems random and arbitrary - but whenever I ask dog people about it they say "It looks nice!" as though it's completely self-evident). Maybe a kerchief on the dog's neck or tied to the collar could mean do not disturb.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Band bunny

Someone should come up with a band that dresses like a 60s girl group (shift dresses, heels, pearls) but plays really aggressive hardcore punk and/or metal, and is very good at it. They should be classically trained as well, so they can occasionally commit surprising acts of serious musicianship (c.f. Lady Gaga at Glastonbury)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How to give career guidance to students

From an otherwise-unrelated article:

Unemployment’s on the rise, you need a skill,” a weathered old guidance counsellor says to an androgynous male pupil in the BBC’s new biopic Worried About the Boy. “What can you do better than other people?”

I wish someone had asked me that when I was a kid! (Or, better for my introvert brain, asked me to think over a period of time about what I can do better than everyone else.) If they had asked me that, I totally would have come up with languages. If they had asked me to think about what within the field of languages came easiest and I was best at and I most enjoyed, I would have come up with translation. Then I would have been guided towards a suitable and compatible career path!

"But wait," you're thinking, "you are a translator! You did land in a suitable and compatible career path!" Yes, but I did it without (and, in fact, despite) the advice of the grownups who were supposed to be advising me.

The career advice I received fell into three general categories: 1) Do what you love, 2) Do what can't be outsourced and will make you money, and 3) Do what not enough people of your demographic are doing.

What I loved was music, but I'm no good at it. I'm technically proficient with a suitable amount of practice, but I have no soul. If the world needed session musicians to the same extent it needed typists before the invention of word processing then I would have had a chance, but in the real world it would have eaten me alive.

The most common examples I was given of something that can't be outsourced and would make me money were plumbing and dental hygiene. But I wouldn't have been especially good at plumbing because I'm not good at physical things that need to be perfect (people certainly wouldn't want their plumbing "good enough!") and I wouldn't have been especially good at dental hygiene because you need people skills.

They were also trying to encourage me to go into engineering or computer programming because it was trendy at the time to encourage girls to go into these fields. They tried to push me in this direction because I had decent marks in math and science, but the thing is about 20% of my class was ahead of me, so I wouldn't have been anything special.

In my language classes, I was always top of the class. I was in the top 10% of the candidates for translation school, and on graduation I was second in the class - but that also meant I was the lowest-ranked person in my class who got recruited straight out of uni (yes, only 2 of us got recruited) and now I am thoroughly unexceptional for a translator of my seniority and experience. If I had gone into any of the other fields into which I was being encouraged on the basis that my marks in school were decent, I would have been struggling, if not failing, by the time I hit the workplace.

Because that's the thing that was never explicitly mentioned in all the career advice I received from my elders: you will be in competition with everyone else in this field. There are very few fields in which they merely need warm bodies, so you'd do better to look at what you're better than other people at. I sincerely hope that anyone who might find themselves giving advice to kids who are uncertain about choosing a career will take this into account.

This is new?

Today's Globe and Mail included an article deploring the fact that there are people trying to get you to sign up for credit cards in TTC stations.

My first thought: this is new? They've been doing it at the further north stations on the Yonge line for months and months - maybe even as long as a year! An ungenerous corner of my mind suspects no one made the effort to care until it started happening south of Bloor.

(So what do I think? It doesn't especially bother me, but I freely admit that that might be coloured by the fact that I already have the credit card in question, so any time they spend trying to attract my attention is entirely their loss. I'd certainly have no objection if it went away though.)

In this blog's ongoing tradition of taking credit for everything...

After thoroughly enjoying Google Pacman on my speaker-less work computer, I came home to realize it has sound. This is inconvenient since I usually leave my browser open and on Google by default, so I asked them on Twitter if we can have a mute button.

Shortly thereafter, a mute button appeared. (It's in the bottom left corner.)

I can't find any googleable or tweeted evidence of anyone noticing the presence of a mute button before I sent the original tweet.

You're welcome :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This is not an episode of Scooby Doo!

The OED Word of the Day was Holy Ghost. In the Catholicism of my era, we called it the Holy Spirit. I have seen Holy Ghost in older schoolbooks (I strongly suspect they were Catholic schoolbooks from my parents' era, but I'm not 100% certain about this because I saw it before I was aware of different denominations), but I've never heard it in Catholicism in real life.

I can see how the same (currently unknown to me) word might be translated as both Ghost and Spirit by two different translators, but I wonder which is more accurate? Spirit makes better sense to me just logically, but I'm not fully up on my catechism, and I'm not sure if an atheist's idea of logic is applicable when translating such a religious concept.

The OED etymology only went as far back as Old English, at which time the concepts of Ghost and Spirit overlapped more than they do today. But I wonder which word more accurate reflects the original (Greek? Aramaic?) source text?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Things They Should Study: the impact of gender imbalance on future generations

A while back, I read a book called Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson. So many men died in WWI that there were an enormous number of women of that generation who never married because there were simply not enough men to go around. (I'm trying to find the percentage of missing men but can't - both 10% and 25% come to mind, but there's an anecdote in the book where a teacher at a girls' school tells her class that only one in ten of them will get married.) Apparently this was historically unprecedented (which seems odd to me - there have always been wars - but that's not he point of this post). The book explores the situation of the women who never married, which was rather interesting, but today I found myself thinking it would be interesting to study this situation from the opposite perspective: what impact did this gender imbalance have on marriage and then on future generations?

(To explain what I'm trying to say here, I'm going to have to make a lot of gross generalizations. I'm taking a heterocentric, heteronormative approach, I'm reducing people's appeal as a spouse and as a human being to a number on the classic 1 to 10 scale, I'm presenting as a given the assumption that people are only "worthy" of spouses who are close to them on the 1 to 10 scale, and I'm assuming that children only look to adults of their own gender as role models. I do realize that human beings and relationships are a lot more complex nuanced than that, but I'm just trying to outline the general concept that I think someone should study so it gets silly to insert appropriate qualifiers into every single sentence.)

We can assume that the missing men were distributed evenly over the 1 to 10 scale. So normally only someone who is a 9 or 10 can get with another 10. But with all these men missing, there weren't enough 10 men for all the 10 women, so 10 women ended up with men as low as 8 or even 7. But meanwhile, 10 men never found themselves having to stoop to a 9. So you've got a whole generation of marriages where there are a significant number of wives who are objectively out of their husband's league, but few or no husbands who are out of their wife's league.

The thing is, people might not notice this is happening. The pool of prospective spouses available just…is. It isn't really something you question. For example, I have never in my life met someone, even in passing, who is independently wealthy. (I know that such people exist, I've read about them in books, but I've never met one in real life.) Therefore, if I were to write down everything I want in a prospective mate, it would never even occur to me to write down independently wealthy, any more than it would occur to me to say I want someone with a flying car. That just isn't something that happens in real life.

So because no one notices this is happening, as everyone comes back from WWI and that cohort starts to get married, the 1 to 10 scale gradually gets realigned. 10 women keep ending up with, say 8 men, so eventually a marriage that objectively consists of a 8 man and a 10 woman is assumed to be a fair match. And, as this new normal takes over, people look at the couple, figure they're well-matched by general social standards, there's no way he's a 10 and there's no way she's an 8, so they must both be 9s.

So then some time passes and all these people have children. The children look around, see their parents and their friends' parents and the other grownups around them, and blindly accept these misaligned matches as normal because they don't know anything else. They see the woman who is objectively a 10 and the man who is objectively an 8, and unquestioningly accept that both these people are 9s. So this creates a situation where women have to be "better" than men just to get the same number of points, but this children don't realize this because the whole world has always been like this for them.

So what impact does this have on the children? Does it cause girls to underestimate their worth and boys to overestimate their worth? (Or, alternatively or in addition, does it cause society as a whole to underestimate girls' worth and to overestimate boys' worth?) What impact does it have on the mating and dating game? What impact does it have on the next generation of children?

It was beyond the scope of the book I read, but, as we know about a generation after WWI there was WWII. Did this also result in a shortage of men? If so, did this exacerbate even more this now-socially-internalized idea whereby a woman has to be objectively better to be condsidered a 10 than a man does? How did this affect their kids (i.e. the Baby Boomers)?

Writing this out has given me a theory. Not sure how good a theory it is, but it's a theory that I have. You know how they keep talking about how boys are falling behind in education, how schools aren't serving them well etc.? What if it's really this idea, internalized and multiplied over several generations? Maybe boys feel "good enough" at a lower level of achievement than girls do? Maybe boys are just as happy with a 60% as girls are with an 80% for the same reasons that a man who, just a few generations ago, would have been considered a 6 is now considered evenly matched with a woman who, the same few generations ago, would have been an 8?

I have no idea how much of this is true or valid, but it would be an interesting thing for someone to research if they could figure out a methodology.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Things They Should Invent: non-rude way for businesses to tell customers that they're not quite the target audience

Buying a condo is way too hard and stressful to do myself, and everyone advises me that what I really need is a good real estate agent.

(Which always leads to the following exchange:

Me: So how do I find a good real estate agent?
Them: Ask around!
Me: Um, that's kind of what I'm doing right now?)

I'm told a good real estate agent can take all your preferences and specifications and keep an eye open for places that are a good fit, which does sound like exactly what I need.

However, I know that real estate agents get paid on commission. I know that my budget is very small (in Toronto real estate terms) and I have quite a lot of preferences and specifications and am generally very needy. I do love where I'm renting now and don't want to sacrifice even one bit of quality of life in finding a condo. I do understand that this makes me quite a lot of work for very little return, but I don't want to sacrifice on something as important as housing.

So my concern in finding a real estate agent would be finding someone who is actually willing to and interested in finding me something that meets all my silly little needs, holding my hand, and tending to my neuroses. I don't want to be stuck with someone who is rolling their eyes whenever I show up on call display or who pressures me to lower my standards just to save themselves time. And I'm quite sure they don't want to be stuck with me.

What we need is a standard, non-rude, non-judgemental, purely informative way for businesses to inform customers that they don't think they're a good fit. This would need to be done in a way that isn't detrimental to the customer continuing to receive that product or service from that business (in case they can't find something better). You can't really do this in real life because you'd be accused of discrimination or, at the very least, poor customer service. But, as a customer, I'd really like to know when I'm not wanted. And I'm sure you can think of one or two cases where you wouldn't mind being able to do this to your own customers.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Search Strings of the Day

1. Where to buy a Victoria's Secret bra
2. If you aren't gay then why aren't you married?
3. Stripper problems and how to solve them

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Open Letter to Disappointed Mother in the May 6 Dear Prudence column

Dear Prudence,
I have two daughters, ages 11 and 14. It has been my desire to instill in them empathy, compassion, and an eye for supporting the underdog. My daughters are liked by their peers and are popular. I resent popularity and have rallied against it both at work and when I was in school. There are students who are picked on at their school, and in the past both girls have stood up for these students. What I find troubling is that this morning I witnessed both of them laughing at students who they thought were dorky. I asked what was so funny and got the explanation that the students were weird and had rejected one daughter's efforts to be nice. I wonder what I should be doing or saying at this point so that I don't lose ground with them, and so that we can build a lesson from this.

—Disappointed Mother

Dear Disappointed Mother,

Congratulations on raising two kids who can fit in with the cool kids even though you weren't one of the cool kids yourself! You and your daughters are in a unique position here, and you can do a lot of good for them and for the whole social structure of their school by explaining to them, clearly, specifically, and non-judgementally, where the "weird" students were coming from. Prudie advises you to tell your daughters that kids who don't fit in often struggle to figure out how to behave. But you need to go better than that and tell them why and how they struggle to figure out how to behave.

Tell them about how sometimes the mean kids make fun of people by acting like they're being nice to them and then mocking them for thinking that they actually were being nice to them. Tell them about how you have no way of telling if one of the cool kids is being sincere or not, and the more times they're cruel to you the more empirical evidence builds up suggesting that people's intentions are cruel. Tell them about how this messes up your ability to read people's intentions for years and years and years. Make sure they understand where this reaction is coming from and how it's a natural response to the environment, not random weirdness. Then, since your kids are popular AND receptive to standing up for picked-on students you can use this to empower your kids to solve the problem, giving the picked-on kids a critical mass of positive interaction and validation and ultimately unweirding them.

I know it sounds crazy, but a lot of people who weren't bullied have no concept whatsoever of how this works. You're in a unique position of being able to make people who can effect change in their social circle understand. Please use it.

Today's inspiration

In honour of what is apparently an impending 90s revival (and can I just say: yes please!), Style Notebook is asking people about their favourite 90s fashion film.

Emily Blake says:

Clueless. Oh, I know. I am not cool. My pick is not in line with the ’90s as they are being referenced on runways and in closets today. [...]

However Clueless was [...] where I first saw unadulterated fashion joy being portrayed. These girls were not afraid of looking ridiculous (Dionne’s incredible hat collection is a notable example), not afraid to wear colour, or pattern. They were having fun.

Yes! That's what it is: joy! That's going to be my guideline for taking fashion risks. Yes, flares have been out of style for years, but they make me feel fierce and bootylicious. Yes, it might be a bit much to match my bra straps to my shoes to my earrings to that one stripe on my dress, but it makes me feel like I fricking WON!

I'm never going to be a fashion plate objectively, so I may as well stop worrying about it and go for the joy. I'm cheering for a 90s revival because in the real 90s I couldn't explore as much as I wanted to, because I always had an eye on making safe fashion choices that wouldn't get me bullied. But if I wanted to live like that, I'd go back to high school. The new rule for adulthood: go for the joy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

More information please: what exactly does "sexual assault" mean?

We're being warned about a man connected with a series of sexual assaults on the Yonge subway line:

Okay, I ride the Yonge subway line, am I at risk?

He tends to approach women between the ages of 20 to 40 years old, with slim to average builds, and long, black or dark brown hair.

Between the ages of 20 to 40? Check. Slim to average builds? For slightly optimistic values of "average". "Long, black or dark brown hair"? Check.

Oh, shit, what's going to happen to me?

The man stands behind the victims on crowded trains and engages in what police loosely term “sexual acts.”

Meaning what, exactly? Is he going to try to stick his penis in me, or is he going to wank at me? Or is he going to do something else I haven't anticipated?

As part of the target audience, I'd very much like to know what I'm in for so I can be prepared. I'd like to start thinking about how I might defend myself against whatever these loosely termed sexual acts are. I'd like enough information to be confident in shouting in a crowded train "Stop him, that's the guy!" rather than getting a false positive on some guy who just innocent stumbled when the train changed speeds. I'd like enough information to be able to recognize halfway across a crowded train if he starts doing whatever it is he's doing to someone else.

I feel like the Toronto Police are not giving me enough information to protect myself and my fellow citizens, or to help positively identify the suspect, and I feel like I could do these things better if they'd give me a more specific description of what to expect. Yes, a more specific description is probably distasteful. That's why I want to read about it in my morning paper rather than experiencing it on my morning commute.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Things They Should Invent: subsidize use of Cancon in TV/movie soundtracks

Most of the rules to promote Canadian music and other performing arts industries fall in the category of requiring people to use Canadian content, e.g. a certain percentage of songs played on the radio must be Canadian. I think a more effective approach would be to make it a good business decision to use Canadian music.

One way people often discover new music is when it's used in the soundtrack to a TV show or movie. I've read that TV and movie productions have to pay a considerable amount of money for the rights to any songs they want to use.

So to promote Canadian music, they should set up a fund to subsidize the rights to Canadian music for soundtrack purposes. The artist still gets paid whatever they'd get paid, but there's little to no cost to the production. The subsidy could go to international productions as well as Canadian productions, to give our artists broader exposure. So you want to use the Hip in your guerrilla indie film, you can have a subsidy. You want to use Caribou in a Hollywood blockbuster, you can have a subsidy.

To promote emerging artists (and, ultimately, to save money), the subsidies would be bigger the less often a particular artist has been used. For example, the first person to use a particular artist gets a 100% subsidy, the second gets a 90% subsidy, the third gets 80%, etc. until the artist has been in 10 movies/TV shows and you have to pay full price. This would also mean that other people are doing the work of finding interesting emerging artists to subsidize.

The process would be very simple. A producer would fill out a form saying "I would like to use this song by this artist", and simply get a message back saying "This song is eligible for a X% subsidy. Do you want to use it? (y/n)". If it isn't eligible for a subsidy, it will cost no more than it normally would anyway.

So Canadian artists get money and exposure, producers get less costly music rights, and the program is very easy to administer because grants are awarded first-come first-served and other people are doing the work of seeking out worthy emerging artists.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


1. I'm reading The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, and it mentions how there was a huge wave of ridiculous amounts of merchandise when the show first came out. I remember that and wasn't especially surprised by that at the time, but I can't see that happening today. I can't articulate why, I just can't imagine any new TV show, no matter how awesome, successfully selling that much merchandise. Has society as a whole evolved, or is it just because I'm not longer in child world?

2. After Eddie Izzard's gig, there were these guys right outside Massey Hall selling bootleg merch - T-shirts and DVDs for like $5. (Which I thought was rather rude - Eddie himself was right there inside and could have come out at any time!) But I wonder how big the market for that stuff is? For the t-shirts, you'd have to be fan enough to want a tour t-shirt (i.e. they were the big square black ones with the name of the tour and all the cities, not even the cute and humorous Cake or Death and Covered in Bees shirts), but not fan enough to want your money to go into Eddie's pocket (and be okay with it going in some random guy's pocket) even while you're still carrying the endorphin rush from the three-hour show he just gave us.

For the DVDs, the same fan-enough/not-fan-enough balance applies, plus you'd have to be un-savvy enough not to know how to download the shows for free online, but still savvy enough to have gotten tickets for this sold-out barely-advertised show (and to have enjoyed the show you just finished watching enough that you want DVDs of more so immediately that you can't wait until you get home and can google the thing.)

From what I know of the fandom, that seems like a very narrow slice of the market. I wonder if these guys picked Eddie specifically (and, if so, why), or if they do this for every single show that comes into town? I wonder what their margins are like? In my experience, Eddie fans not only tend to be savvy, but also are rather inclined to care about Eddie personally, to the extent that people would think about whether they're taking money out of Eddie's pocket by buying bootleg merch. (That's not to say no one would ever bootleg, but thought would at least go into it.) I wonder how their margins on Eddie merch compare with their margins on other merch?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Things They Should Invent: relativistic requirements for salvation

Picture this: the most moral 10% of the population goes to heaven. Everyone else goes to hell.

That would be a good motivator for ethical behaviour, wouldn't it? It would also be a good way to get people to butt out of other people's business and work on improving themselves.

Now all we have to do is get the church to embrace moral relativism.

Things They Should Invent: 24-hour walk-in clinics next door to all emergency rooms

This article, which is ultimately about many other things, starts with the author wondering why people bring their kids to the Emergency room rather than to a walk-in clinic.

Solution: have a walk-in clinic right there. In the hospital. Next door to the emergency room. It doesn't have to be part of the hospital administratively, it could be a storefront inside the hospital building (like how there's often a coffee shop and a florist's). Then whenever someone comes into the emergency room with a non-emergency, the triage nurse can just re-direct them to the walk-in clinic, where they'll get treated faster.

Current earworm

(Video is, as usual, irrelevant)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Things They Should Invent: secret sources of water on stage during live theatre

Eddie Izzard started coughing in the middle of talking, so he went off to the wings, got a bottle of water, drank some, and then grinned at us and said "You can't do that in Shakespeare, can you?" Then he went off on a glorious tangent that started with Shakespearean actors drinking water and somehow ended with Laertes killing Ophelia with a bazooka, and all was right with the world.

But it occurred to me: you could totally do that in Shakespeare if the water was in a period-appropriate goblet that happened to be sitting somewhere on the set! Any decent actor would be able to drink water without breaking character.

They should totally do that in live theatre. Whenever possible, incorporate a glass of water or two into the set. It would make the actors' jobs much easier.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Things They Should Invent: reuseable LRTs

One major debate in Toronto transit planning is LRTs vs. subways. LRTs are faster and cheaper to build, subways are more user-friendly.

I'd much rather have an LRT right away than be stuck with buses for years and years and years waiting for a subway for the reasons described here. But I do find the subway a more pleasant way to travel overall.

So what I'd really like them to do is put LRTs in right away and then slowly replace them with subways. I doubt that would happen though - too much duplication of resources.

So what if we could reuse the resources? What if they could create LRT infrastructure that can be removed when we're done with it and used elsewhere in the city? You just take up the rails and install them in a different street, and send the LRT cars over there. They'd still have to budget for workers constantly building stuff, but that's job creation and would fall under the operating budget (as opposed to major kick-start capital investments) if they just had and budgeted for workers constantly expanding the TTC.

And what would we do with the LRT lanes once the tracks are removed? Bike lanes! Good, physically separated bike lanes like in Amsterdam. We sell this to drivers by telling them it will keep cyclist out of their way.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Shutting the fuck up: a risk analysis

Is shutting the fuck up a good idea or a bad idea? Let's analyze this.

We as Canadians have two choices: shut the fuck up, or continuing to inform our government of our wishes.

The government has three choices: comply with the wishes of Canadians, ignore us and do whatever they want anyway, and retaliate by punishing not only Canadians but also the people in developing countries whom we want to help.

So let's look at every permutation:

1. We STFU and the government decides to comply. At first glance this makes no sense - how can they comply if we're not saying anything? But they might take our silence for consent - it's happened before (c.f. making O Canada inclusive, updating sex ed. in Ontario). Or what if this is some sort of mind game where they'll only give us what we want if we stop asking for it? That seems to be what Senator Ruth is suggesting. Do Canadians really want their government to work that way? How could we possibly make our country work if we have to not inform our government of our wishes to make them happen, or stop informing them of our wishes at some secret unspoken signal? Completely unreasonable.

2. We keep talking and the government decides to comply. Optimal outcome. Government representing the wishes of the people. Exactly how democracy is supposed to work.

Therefore, if the government's plan is to comply, the best option is to keep talking.

3. We STFU and the government decides to ignore us. Again, they would likely publicly present our silence as consent.

4. We keep talking and the government decides to ignore us. We're still being ignored, but at least the results cannot be attributed to us, and it is made obvious that the government is ignoring the will of the people.

Therefore, if the government's plan is to ignore us, the best option is to keep talking.

5. We STFU and the government decides to retaliate. That would be like Darth Vader destroying Alderaan.

6. We keep talking and the government decides to retaliate. It would become glaringly obvious that the government punishes people for informing the government of their will, and, while there may be short-term pain, any government that would do this would be unelectable in the future and it would stand as a lesson to any other future Darth Vaders who might want to swoop in.

Therefore, if the government's plan is to retaliate, the best option is to keep talking.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


If you remember from fire extinguisher training, there are three classes of fires. Class A is ordinary combustibles (paper, wood, etc.). Class B is grease/oil/etc. Class C is electrical. You can use water to extinguish a Class A fire, but it would actually make things worse for Class B and Class C fires. For Class B, because oil and water don't mix, it would just spread the burning oil around. And for Class C, water + electricity is obviously a bad idea. This is all really basic. I learned it in babysitting class when I was 12, and I'm sure you all learned it similarly early on.

Conventional wisdom is that installing sprinklers makes it much safer if there's a fire. Question: what happens if it's a grease fire or an electrical fire?

Monday, May 03, 2010

More information please: unilingual judges edition

Apparently some people think unilingual judges should be permitted to sit on the Supreme Court. The people who support this seem to be thinking that requiring bilingualism (and this even though it would just be passive bilingualism) would rule out some of the best candidates.

But judges on all other Federal Courts have to be bilingual.

So under what circumstances would a person be one of the very best candidates in the country for the Supreme Court but not have Federal Court experience? What experience or expertise would they have that Federal Court judges lack? Why, if this experience or expertise makes a person such an epicly better candidate than the Federal Court judges, has is not been possible for any of the Federal Court judges to gain similar expertise?

Are there any actual specific people currently in existence would would be an ideal candidate for the Supreme Court but don't have Federal Court experience? If so, with the understanding that I haven't exactly been breathlessly following jurists' careers, what do these specific people have that the existing Federal Court judges don't?

Justin Suarez

On Ugly Betty, it was a big deal that the Suarez family was nothing but supportive when Justin came to the realization that he's gay.

But on top of that, they were nothing but supportive of a 14-year-old having a romance! Think back to 14. Can you imagine? No over-supervision, no trying to frighten or intimidate your partner, no trying to keep you from spending time together on the pathetic excuse that it could hurt your grades, no Talks, none of that stupid "It's not you we don't trust" bullshit. Your parents see you snogging, and they're just happy you've found someone who makes you happy. At 14!!! Wouldn't that be awesome?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Strategies for translating Eddie Izzard Stripped: giraffes & tigers


1. This post contains spoilers for Eddie Izzard's Stripped. If you're going to see it live and you haven't been spoiled yet, I strongly recommend skipping this post until you see it. (Specifically, this post dissects the bit with the giraffes. If this isn't yet meaningful to you, skip it.) Reading my translation strategies isn't worth missing out on discovering this particular piece of material live.

2. This post does not contain solutions, only strategies. The strategies could be used by a talented native speaker of the target language to translate the material, but I'm not nearly talented enough to translate untranslatable comedy away from my mother tongue.

3. Some creators don't like fans to give them ideas for fear of later lawsuits. So I am explicitly stating that this idea is free for the taking. I doubt you can claim ownership on a mere strategy anyway, but regardless. The original material belongs to Eddie Izzard, this translation strategy is free for anyone to use. If I get wind that it has been used, I will simply be flattered.

This is the scene I'm talking about:

First issue: Does the target culture have charades?

Will the audience recognize what Eddie's doing when he's charading? If so, you're fine and can carry on to the next step. (Just check whether charades is played exactly the same in the target culture, i.e. are the ways of indicating syllables and the nose-touchy "you're right!" sign the same?) If not, that needs to be addressed before we go any further. There are two possible approaches here:

a) Find another suitable game. It needs to be a word guessing game that is played silently, it needs to be recognizable when performed/mimed on stage without props, and, to retain the core humour of the piece, it needs to be somewhat dependent on the verbal characteristics of the words. The piece draws its humour from the fact that mute animals can still recognize homophones and put together syllables to create words. In terms of pure translation, it would be perfectly valid to use a word guessing game that isn't dependent on the verbal characteristics of the words, but that would be far less effective as a piece of humour. So if you're doing this for class, you can totally go for a game that doesn't depend on verbal characteristics and get a solid B- (or maybe a B+ if the prof gives you credit for tackling something untranslatable). But if you're actually adapting it for the stage, don't go there. Better to leave it out of the show all together than to eliminate the crux of the humour.

b) The most awesome callback ever.
Introduce new material early in the set that, as part of a broader gag or story, explains the English game of charades, complete with demonstrations, so the audience has a solid grounding in how the game is played. Then, in the second half of the show, bring out the giraffes. This is incredibly difficult and beyond the scope of translation, and it would be impossible to implement in a traditional translator-client relationship. ("Okay, I've got your translation all ready, I just need you to write five minutes of brand new material that meets these very specific requirements.") But if it could be carried off, it might be the greatest callback in human history.

Second issue: Replace the tiger

The tiger is a tiger in the first place because it's charadable. It doesn't need to be a tiger. It could be any animal, or indeed anything that would present a threat to a giraffe. (Lions, jaguars, hunters, alien abductions, Voldemort...) While the tiger was originally a cop-out in that tigers and giraffes don't co-exist in the wild, there is some humour to be gained from the fact that it is a cop-out. When Eddie performs it at least, the fact of admitting to a cop-out is charming, and there's a laugh or two in speculating just how and why the tigers are in Africa.

So the tiger's replacement needs to have the following characteristics.

a) Be charadable - in the target language. This is obviously the most important factor, because without something to charade the material wouldn't exist. You can't use the tiger charade used in the English version of Stripped because "cravate-grr" doesn't mean anything in any language. You need a target-language word where each syllable has a charadable homophone in the target language.

b) Be something giraffes would need to talk about. Humour could be gained in explaining how something that isn't at first glance a threat to a giraffe is in fact a threat. (If the justification of the threat is kind of half-assed, it could be introduced earlier in the show - perhaps on Noah's Ark - and gain additional humour by being a callback.) Alternatively, it doesn't necessarily need to be a threat that the giraffes announce to each other. It could be food, or a shoe sale, or a celebrity whose autograph they want. If it isn't a threat humour will be lost because the silent scream bit would have to be cut, so it might be useful to introduce additional humour by making the subject of the charades something more surreal than just food. But on the other hand, it's quite possible to overload the surreality. We already have a human performer miming being a giraffe, and then miming being a giraffe performing charades. It's possible that adding something too surreal to all this - like the giraffes have an Elvis sighting or something - might take it too far and lose the audience. I don't have the skill to tell when sitting behind my computer. As a translator, my ideal approach would be to present options - say yummy trees, and an ice cream truck, and a Sith lord, and an Elvis sighting - and let the performer use their professional judgement.

c) Be two syllables long. One syllable isn't quite charades, it's just mime. The humour comes from mute animals recognizing homophones and combining syllables to form words, so you'd lose a lot of that with just one syllable. But there's also the audience's attention span to take into account. A purely visual bit like this requires more audience attention than a verbal bit, because they can't look away from the stage even for a second. (If you've ever taken a sign-language class taught solely in sign language, you'll know how hard this is.) They have to accept the charading giraffes, retain memory of each syllable, put the word together without verbal repetition, and accept that the giraffes are putting the word together through mime rather than through verbal repetition. That's a lot of commitment, and if you lose even a bit of the commitment you crash and burn. Monty Python's "Call the next defend-ANT" bit works because they're constantly repeating the previously guessed syllables out loud, but you can see why it would never work silently. Three syllables might work, maybe, but it's really better to focus your efforts on finding a suitable two-syllable word. In other words, even if you have the most perfect charade ever for Eyjafjallajökull, this isn't the place to use it.

Wherein I finally figure out how to use my Signature Strength

Translation most often falls close to the end of the project cycle. After all, there's no point in paying a translator to translate the first draft if it's all just going to get rewritten again later. However, this often ends up putting the crunch on us. I've been in a number of situations recently where someone before me in the project cycle gave an over-optimistic estimate of how long their part would take them, so I got the text later than I should have. Because printers' deadlines and pre-announced released dates are immovable, that means I have to absorb the lost time and I often end up turning out work that I'm not exactly proud of, because there simply isn't time to do work I am proud of and the client would rather have suboptimal English than delay the release date. However, this makes me very frustrated with the person whose overestimation of their own abilities shortened my translation time, and if I had a say in the matter it would be enough to make me not want to work with them again.

I thought of this when I read Clay Shirky's Rant About Women:

And it looks to me like women in general, and the women whose educations I am responsible for in particular, are often lousy at those kinds of behaviors, even when the situation calls for it. They aren’t just bad at behaving like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks. They are bad at behaving like self-promoting narcissists, anti-social obsessives, or pompous blowhards, even a little bit, even temporarily, even when it would be in their best interests to do so. Whatever bad things you can say about those behaviors, you can’t say they are underrepresented among people who have changed the world.

One thing I've been doing in my own life, primarily out of distaste for the self-aggrandizing jerks and pompous blowhards I've encountered, is I always try to represent my level of confidence and certainty accurately. I try to give safe deadline estimates, not optimistic ones. When I know I can do the thousand words in an hour I say so, but if I'm not sure if I can I say it will take three hours. (Q: WTF's with the wide range? A: I can work much faster when I'm already familiar with the text type and the subject matter.) If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I try very hard not to make declarative statements unless I'm actually certain. I do that in real life too, and I've found that it's given me credibility over time. When I do make a declarative statement, people tend to listen.

Recently we had a client request a very large, important text for an impossibly tight deadline. After some discussion and negotiation, we came to the conclusion that we could deliver it on time by dividing it up among the entire team, but we couldn't guarantee our normal quality level. Normally, if a text is divided up among several translators, another translator who didn't work on it rereads the whole thing and makes sure it's internally consistent. There simply wasn't time for that to happen. But it was so important and the deadline was so imperative that the client agreed to this, and made time in their own schedule to come into work early to reread it and do quality control themselves. Once it was all done, we ended up getting a very happy email from the client, because the text we delivered was of high quality and needed very little revision at all. Which wasn't completely surprising - we do do high quality work - but we couldn't realistically guarantee the quality if no one does a reread. So we give a realistic estimate, exceed it somewhat, and the client is happy. On the other hand, the people before me in the project cycles overestimate their abilities, and it annoys people downstream and is detrimental to the quality of the entire project.

A long time ago, I took the VIA Signature Strengths quiz and found that my top signature strength is modesty and humility. But you're supposed to use your signature strengths, and I couldn't tell how you actually use modesty and humility.

Turns out this is how. And it only took me five years to figure it out.

More information please: bystander effect edition

An elderly man got mugged on the subway and nobody helped.

Obviously, that sucks and that's not the kind of city we want to be. And it's very easy and kind of egotistically satisfying to sit here comfortably behind our computers and dis the other passengers on the subway car and smugly assume we'd do better if we were in that position.

But that's not productive or helpful. That won't get better results if this ever happens again. What we need to do is figure out what the people on that subway didn't know and what stopped them from acting, and get out the information that would have empowered/inspired them to act.

So let's start at the beginning: What do you do if someone is being mugged? Your visceral reaction is "Well, help them, DUH!"

But how do you do that? Yes, you press the yellow strip. But what happens when you press the yellow strip? For example, the news articles in response to this incident mentioned that it doesn't sound an audible alarm. I didn't actually know that, and it's useful to know. Also, does the yellow strip stop the train? I'd assume it doesn't because that would be illogical (you don't want to be stuck in a tunnel when an incident is happening), but it resembles the stop signals on some buses, so it might lead people to believe it would stop the train.

But once the yellow strip is pressed, someone should still help the elderly man. How, exactly, do you do that? The first mental image that comes to mind is physically intervening. But would that actually work? I, like many other people, am nowhere near strong enough to physically restrain one grown man (and in this case there were two grown men). So I wouldn't be stopping them, I'd just be distracting them. Which does have value and buys the victim some time, but I'm not sure if it's the best use of me. So, since I'd just be distracting the perps rather than stopping them, I started brainstorming other ways to distract them. Taunt them? Pants them? Steal their hat and throw it across the subway car like a playground bully? Steal their wallet? I'd probably get hurt. What if they have a gun? Then other people on the subway car could get hurt too - would my taunting and distracting the attackers put other lives at risk? What's the best approach to take? Would my jumping into the fray inspire/shame other people to help, or would it make them go "Meh, she's got it under control". Should I take their picture, or get someone whose phone can email pictures to do that?

Obviously, all these ideas are just ideas. They aren't necessarily good ones, they just popped into my head. What we need is advice from experts, publicized in the media, on what a person who isn't strong enough to restrain a grown man could do to help. What would be productive? What would be most likely to get positive results rather than just getting more people hurt? Often when I've found myself in unexpected situations I've frozen up and had no idea how to react, because I didn't anticipate this. But after I've put thought into what I'd do in a situation, I have ideas and can react well the next time. So let's put aside the temptation to throw blame and work on getting useful ideas out there, so people will know what to do next time.

They've also been trying to convince witnesses to come forward and talk to the police, and I think it would be useful here to give them an idea of what to expect. They should tell them that they're not going to get blamed or get in trouble for not responding (and if they are going to get blamed or get in trouble, they should make it so that doesn't happen). They should get the statements they need, but also find out (in a non-blamey but rather proactive and brainstormy way) why exactly they didn't respond and what would have helped elicit a response from them. Then we can use this information to help the public be better prepared in the future.

So a dyslexic walks into a bra...

I saw Eddie Izzard! (Who wasn't wearing a bra, at least not that I could tell, but I didn't want to lose my chance to be the first person on the recorded internet to use that line in reference to Eddie Izzard.)

I complained a lot about the way this show was promoted. I didn't get an official announcement until several days after the presale had started (when I already had my tickets in hand!) and the promo code was never officially released, at all. But this did have the positive result that the place was a love-in! Everyone around us was fan enough to have been actively keeping an eye out for when Eddie was going to do a show in Toronto, and to guess or hunt for the promo code. When Eddie walked on stage we gave him a genuine, heartfelt, standing O, where we were quite sincerely saying thank you for coming to Toronto. More than that, it felt like we were all on the same side. Even waiting in line for the washroom at intermission, it felt like we were all on the same team. It was a good feeling, and not something I've experienced before.

I was also worried by the fact that I'd been spoiled. I didn't think Eddie would be bringing this show to Canada at all ever, so I sought out bootlegs and later bought the European DVD (with the very sexy SUBTITLES IN 17 LANGUAGES!) and therefore I knew what was coming. I have never laughed so much in my life as the first time I experienced Eddie's material fresh, and I was rather disappointed that I wouldn't get the joy of experiencing material fresh combined with the joy of experiencing it live. But I needn't have worried. Eddie gave us THREE HOURS, and I was laughing or smiling or floating happily the entire time. He started by asking us who Massey Hall was named after, to which several people said Vincent Massey. Then he asked who Vincent Massey was, and Poodle and I (and several other people, I'm sure) said Governor General. But since Poodle is far louder than I am, he focused in our direction and asked what a Governor General is, which Poodle explained. And I'm going to bask in reflected glory and say that WE explained. So that sent Eddie off on a tangent on the monarchy, most of which I'd heard him say before, but it was a natural organic tangent and therefore just felt like he was standing on the stage chatting with us.

And most of the show felt like that. There were the set pieces that I recognized, but most of the in between felt like he was just telling us what was currently in his brain, which is my very favourite part of the whole thing. I recognize his "make is sound like I'm making this up as I go along" verbal tics, but it did genuinely seem like he was making a lot of it up as he went along. He even made himself laugh a few times!

I laughed until I cried until my makeup was ruined (note to self: wear waterproof mascara and eyeliner next time!) and just grinned like an idiot the rest of the time, basking in waves of joy filling the room and the further joy of sharing this joy with the person with whom I most wanted to share it. Having been spoiled wasn't a problem. I didn't feel like "Meh, I've heard this before" - I felt like a co-conspirator.

In a moment of foolishness, I bought extremely excellent tickets for the second round of Toronto shows at the end of May. And after seeing this show, I'm very glad I did so.


Silly personal fannish stuff:

- I laughed for three hours straight. That's an awesome feeling, physiologically. It gives the calm and mental clarity that you normally get from the perfect balance of cardio and yoga and naturopath-recommended supplements, and I haven't had it since I saw Eddie's DVDs for the very first time. After the first act, I was just kind of floating along on this endorphin-like high where nothing mattered. We waited outside the stage door for an hour, and that didn't matter. I haven't eaten since 5 pm, and that doesn't matter. If this were a drug, I'd become an addict. If there were some way to guarantee that I would feel it every time, I would happily wake up at 4 in the morning every day to laugh for three straight hours before starting my day. It's 2:30 a.m. as I'm typing this, and I seriously think I could stay up all night and go straight through all tomorrow if I had to.

- This was actually the first serious fannish experience I've ever had in my life. I never had an opportunity to be fangirl in my teens like most people do (that's a topic for a possible future blog post), so this was the first time in my life I've ever seen That Thing I Love live and in person. As I said to Poodle as Eddie stepped out on stage for the first time, "He's real!!!" It's quite the emotional arc, and rather unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I now understand why Beatles fangirls cried. We waited around outside the stage door (thank you Poodle for instigating that!) and very briefly got him to sign our programs and spoke German at him (to disprove his earlier allegation that we don't understand German - he spoke some German onstage and we and a number of other people applauded, and Eddie said something to the effect of "Don't clap, I know you don't actually understand it.") and probably made fools of ourselves, all of which I understand intellectually was very kind and gracious on Eddie's part and wholeheartedly appreciate and will use as anecdotal evidence of what an awesome human being he is. But it also drove home the fact that I'm never going to get to have an actual conversation with him. Eddie has (entirely inadvertently on his part) been a role model to me for holy shit three years now, and as a result I've accumulated a number of things I'd be interested in discussing with him. Not just squeeing things at him or showing off look at me I speak German like I did today, but actual back-and-forth productive discussion, the kind where we build on each other's ideas and both come out smarter than we went in. I could get a good half-hour of fruitful bilateral discussion on the challenges of and strategies for adapting his current show for non-English audiences alone. And, in the midst of my fangasm and endorphin high, it kind of slapped me in the face that that's never going to happen. Not entirely sure what to do with that just yet.

- Heather Mallick, to whose book title I owe my discovery of Eddie Izzard, was sitting across the aisle from us! I was seriously considering going over and talking to her, to thank her for (inadvertently on her part, but life-changingly for me) introducing me to Eddie. But the opportunity never presented itself - it got too crowded at intermission and at the end of the show, and I would have annoyed and inconvenienced a whole lot of people just to do it. So, Ms. Mallick, if you ever happen to google upon this, thank you! Seriously. Eddie has inspired me and made me a better person in many areas of life, and it is thanks to you that I discovered him. Sincerely, the girl in the red shoes next to the guy who explained what a Governor General is.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

How do people know they can give training?

Sometimes professional training is give by members of the profession in question (rather than teachers/professors/trainers).

The very first time these people give a training session, how do they know that they have knowledge/expertise that the other members of their profession don't?

And how do they know what the people receiving the training don't know about the topic in question?