by Yule Heibel on January 7, 2004

We’ve had snow. Lots of snow. And it has been cold. Very cold.

This is not what I moved here for, but the high-low extreme climate spikes seem to be more routine these days no matter where you go — last June we had a 3-day heat wave that sent 35++Celsius temps our way. Might not sound like much to you, depending on where you live. But it was a lot here. Everything is relative.

Snow. In Victoria. Lots of snow: 8 centimetres the other day, about that much again today (i.e., about 3 inches each time). This city doesn’t know from snow plows. People have brooms, not shovels. Now it’s raining.

Naturally, I’m annoyed at everyone who says, “Isn’t it beautiful?” There’s something about very cold weather that really turns me off. We will be seeing our usual 9-10 Celsius again by tomorrow or Thursday (10 C is about 50 F), which means that till then I’ll have to survive somehow. Meanwhile, all these hardy souls who moved here from Saskatoon and Edmonton are giddily channeling their Arctic selves.

Which reminds me of a crazy news item I heard on the radio today. Even though the BSE infected cow found in Washington State came from a dairy herd in Alberta, Canada has closed its borders to American dog food (yup, you read right), which is wreaking havoc with an upcoming event, the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, a race that runs about 1600 kilometres (1000 miles) from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, the Yukon. Here’s a link to the story. So: the US closed its borders to Canadian beef, and Canada closed its borders to American fowl and pork. Given that it’s more or less a continental market, that sure does make a mighty heap o’ sense, that does…

And while I’m on the subject of stupidity….

I have to stop reading some things altogether. Blogs, books, etc. I became so upset a few days ago with some of the stuff going on, the sheer stupidity, the talk of “wisdom” and “playful” references to chastisements, the alleged thoughtfulness of some, the alleged rectitude vs recklessness of others, and so on, that I almost lost it and nearly wrote an open flame of every asshole (male and female) who has ever pissed me off for being stupid. Oh yes, they are legion, and they’re out there, and they probably don’t read what I write, but they have blogs and would probably be vain enough to seek out their new inbound links on technorati. But in the end, I just read a couple of novels, which is uncharacteristic for me since I don’t read that much fiction. But anything, I thought, was better than reading more blogs. Not true, as I learned.

Among the books I had at my disposal was one that I had hoped would be the equivalent of a Ludlum — something like The Bourne Identity, which I’m not too proud to admit I found to be a pageturner when I read it 20 years ago. It was silly and contrived braincandy, but fun to read. The book I read the other day, however, was no Ludlum — the latter is a literary genius in comparison. The book in question was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which was without a doubt the worst book I’ve ever read in my life, and that’s saying something ’cause I’ve read some bigtime trash. I remember the guilty pleasure of reading The Valley of the Dolls when I was about 11 or 12, but I honestly cared more about the characters in that cheesy book than the yuppy idiots in Brown’s. I had heard that this book was a bestseller, I had heard that there were “controversial” ideas within regarding the role of women in Christianity, but the premise is so utterly silly (and boring!) that it leaves me wondering what on earth people are thinking in making this book the subject of serious debate (I think another blogger actually attended what might have been a scholarly/religious meeting on this “tome” — hey, if you need to waste time, I’ve got some heavy-duty housecleaning that needs doing…). It makes me wonder how it can become the kind of bestseller that makes the author rich enough to buy a small country and all its inhabitants, if he so wished. Has the world gone mad? I mean, who the hell cares if Jesus and Mary Magdalene got it on, or if they had kids? And why saddle an operation like Opus Dei with something as benign as “guarding” this “secret” (or not guarding it, trying to “destroy” it) when Opus Dei is up to so many more interesting real life tricks? Cripes, if you’re going to accuse them of shady dealings, at least get on with it and find something interesting to shove in their shoes.

At least J.K. Rowling doesn’t ask us to believe that Harry Potter really exists. But then, creating that tension properly is one of the essential facts of fiction. Dan Brown’s eagerness to convince exposes all his abundant weaknesses. He’s a lousy writer.

Then there was Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow. Now that’s an interesting book, quite horrifying in a clinical sort of way. Imagine the story of a Nazi death camp doctor who disappears into a new identity in America after the war, but imagine the whole thing told backwards, from the doctor’s last incarnation spiralling back all the way through his time in America, to his time at war’s end, to his time as an assistant to Dr. Mengele. Imagine a kind of Doppelg


Anonymous January 7, 2004 at 1:41 pm

has there been a new tempest in the blogosphere teacup? I’ve been pretty out of it.

I happen to be reading Coetzee’s Disgrace right now. At this juncture, half way through, it doesn’t seem to deserve its sky-high praise.

P.D.’s an excellent mass market novelist. I’ve read one of hers. How’s the new Harry Potter? I haven’t cracked it yet. I’m Pottered out.

maria January 8, 2004 at 12:40 am

I thought I was the only one who thought that the emperor had no clothes when it came to the high praise for the Da Vinci Code … what a yawn it was — on just about every level.

I had a long day at work and couple of computers that are now misbehaving terribly, so I don’t have the energy to go into why that book irked me so much … but am glad I wasn’t the only one to go gaga.

I hope the snow melts soon. Since I was working, I have not followed blogs these last couple of days, so I am wondering what I missed…?

Yule Heibel January 8, 2004 at 1:52 am

I actually haven’t read the latest Harry Potter myself. Everyone here read it in record time, and I thought, hang that, I’m not doing this.

Yes, that Dan Brown book really annoyed the heck out of me, too. It doesn’t deserve going into, but I thought it was symptomatic of a lot of other ills. It was so stupid! Good thing I don’t have money for travel right now, otherwise I’d be so p-o’d if I went again to London’s Temple Church or to Pei’s Paris pyramid and had to remember Brown’s idiotic fantasies. That’s part of what really got to me, his ability to infect a whole range of cultural products with his idiocy. That, and the whole stupid new agey “feminine power” thing. Oh yeah, let’s not have any real political change, let’s just chant and sway and “see” things… Bah, humbug! And in the end, let’s reify (literally!!) any and all revolutionary religious impulse into the bodies of supposed “descendants,” where said impulse can safely be diffused into Hollywood-esque admiration of perfect (and kitschy) physique. Gaaaah!!!

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