Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Bishop's Man by Linden Macintyre- A Book Review

       A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to reading a book I have intended to read since it was published and won the Giller Prize in 2009, The Bishop's Man by Linden Macintyre.

Brief synopsis:
Too see the full synopsis click here

The year is 1993 and Father Duncan MacAskill stands at a small Cape Breton fishing harbour a few miles from where he grew up. Enjoying the timeless sight of a father and son piloting a boat, Duncan takes a moment’s rest from his worries. But he does not yet know that his already strained faith is about to be tested by his interactions with a troubled boy, 18-year-old Danny MacKay.

Known to fellow priests as the “Exorcist” because of his special role as clean-up man for the Bishop of Antigonish, Duncan has a talent for coolly reassigning deviant priests while ensuring minimal fuss from victims and their families. It has been a lonely vocation, but Duncan is generally satisfied that his work is a necessary defense of the church. All this changes when lawyers and a policeman snoop too close for the bishop’s comfort. Duncan is assigned a parish in the remote Cape Breton community of Creignish and told to wait it out.... 

My Thoughts

      As a literary work Macintyre's The Bishop's Man, is simply the best written novel I have read in ages. It stands far above most popular fiction in the simple yet strongly delivered and beautifully written prose. The story is captivating, almost following the format of a mystery novel with its frequent allusions to MacAskill's past. The plot's subtle yet intricate twists and turns kept me captivated from start to finish. Not only was the prose and plot of the story well composed, but the material it dealt with was also intriguing considering its basis in the factual sex scandals of the Canadian Church which were grasped onto especially vehemently by the media around the time of the book's publication. The book is most certainly worth the read and I highly encourage you to read it as a remarkable piece of Canadian literature.

Words on the Fiction in Relation to Reality

      I remember sitting in church (a thing I did a lot when I was younger) listening to a sermon about The Bishop's Man encouraging parishioners not to judge the whole Catholic priesthood based on the book. While I think it is a fair point that the priest made that day, stereotypes and assumptions rarely turn out to be good things or help anyone, I think the Canadian Church messed up in not taking action against those priests who did wrong others especially given the opening Macintyre's book made for such an act of repentance.

     Since the publication of the book the various sex scandals that the Canadian church was involved in have once again died down in the media. Whether this matches a decrease in scandals or simply indicates that the Church has figured out an even better way to make everything stay "hush hush" remains to be seen but in the end "innocent until proven guilty" most certainly holds true.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Irish Cream Tea

     This is something, I'll admit that I did not come up with entirely on my own I'd had Irish Cream Coffee at coffee shops and cafes and other such places which didn't serve alcoholic drinks but it wasn't until about a month ago that I tasted the real thing. I've always loved Irish Cream flavour coffees and such maybe because I have a slight bias toward it as my heritage is Scottish, Irish and Welsh. But none of the flavoured coffees I've had before prepared me for this. My boyfriend had been telling me about how much he had loved flavouring his coffees with an Irish Cream liqueur in the past so for new years we made a trip to the LCBO, I picked up sparkling wine and he picked up Irish Cream.

Photo credit: Carolans Media
Just so you know what the bottle looks like :)

     Shortly after that, being out of coffee we decided to mix some with Red Rose Orange Pekoe tea instead. Its amazing. You don't need to add much, about as much milk or cream you would add to your tea anyways and in my opinion you don't need to add any sweetener either because Carolans Irish Cream (my favourite brand) has honey in the mixture already.

     Take the Irish Cream Tea challenge and tell me what you think!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Death Comes to Pemberley

      Death Comes to Pemberley is the most recent adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, to make headlines in both the literary world through P.D. James' novel and on the small screen through the BBC's adaptation of James' novel. As a rule books are better than movies or in this case television, however Death Comes to Pemberley is most certainly an exception to that rule.

      As a lover of literature I have read and revere Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for its literary merit as a novel with beautifully written prose, extensive character development and dry wit. When compared against Pride and Prejudice, James' novel simply falls short. She alters Mr. Darcy, one of the pivotal characters so completely that there is little trace of his stoic, subdued reserve. I could understand a minor modification of Darcy's character as all adaptations inevitably alter characters, however James' transformation of Mr. Darcy is not believable. If you've read Pride and Prejudice or are familiar with the characters you'll find that this new Mr. Darcy carries more traits of Bingley then of himself. Aside from the unbelievable transformations inflicted upon Mr. Darcy the novel also moved too slowly for me and to be clear, it wasn't slow in the way that classics are with their in depth descriptive details its was slow in the, "Could somebody else be murdered now? I'm getting a bit bored here"way.

The cast for the BBC mini series
From left to right: Wickham (Matthew Goode), Mr. Darcy (Matthew Rhys),
Elizabeth Bennet (Anna Maxwell Martin) & Lydia Wickham (Jenna Coleman)

     Though the mini series adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley also began with an unbelievable characterization of Mr. Darcy, he did regain some of his stoic and reserved nature as the show advanced making his character more believable. The miniseries' plot also corrected the novel's slow and forgive me, boring, progression of events, by rearranging their order into a more captivating order. Though the novel, Death Comes to Pemberley didn't live up to my expectations, the miniseries is worth a watch if, for nothing else, to see the finery of the colonial period. 

A brief synopsis of Death Comes to Pemberley's plot 
To read a different view of the work visit these blogs: My Jane Austen Book Club & London Calling

Now I'm curious have any of you read or seen the recent adaptation Death Comes to Pemberley? What are your thoughts on Austen and/or the adaptation?

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Radioactive Demons and an Imagine Dragons Timeline of my life in 2013 (Part I)

     The Indie band known as the Imagine Dragons has without a doubt been my favourite band for almost a year now, and if you know anything of them or their music you might recognize the title of this post as a blend of two songs from their Night Visions album, Radioactive and Demons. For me their music intertwines the struggles of depression with a sense of optimism and as such was one of my strongest anchors throughout my trials during 2013.

     I first came across the Imagine Dragons when a friend was listening to their most popular song Radioactive. It was 2012 and I was struggling through a chemistry lab report with no idea what was really happening, I spent a couple days struggling through the work nearly ripping my hair out, playing Radioactive on repeat and the chorus became a sort of mantra for me "this is it the apocalypse, I'm waking up I feel it in my bones enough make system glow, welcome to the new age.. I'm radioactive, radioactive". I was never a fan of chemistry but it was an essential part of my desire to become a doctor or scientist and so I suffered through it with the attitude that it would not beat me. And I did overcome chemistry and its struggles during first term, passing the course with a respectable grade.

    I was about halfway through second term in first year when Demons became the new theme song for my life. I had just experienced the sorrows of my first break up and was struggling to keep up with school when my life felt like it was falling to pieces. "Don't get too close its dark inside its where my demons hide" "I can't escape this now unless you show me how" "when your dreams all fail.. and the bloods run stale", and these lyrics became my new mantra as I struggled with the reality that my dream of becoming a scientist or doctor was neither where I was headed nor what I wanted do.

    The last straw for science came shortly after reading week following a chem lab which will forever be ingrained in my mind, not because of its experiment but because of how inexplicably boring it was. The experiment required me to watch a little metal magnet shaped like a pill spinning around until a colour change in the chemicals occurred, I never understood what the experiment's purpose was nor do I expect will I ever understand it. That was the last chem lab I ever went to and about a week later I dropped chemistry altogether.

    Not long thereafter I left science completely when I realized university level biology held no real interest for me during a genetics class that felt more like statistics. Which brings me academically to where I am today, a second year liberal arts student listening to the Imagine Dragons and working towards an entirely new dream of becoming a history professor.

     If you're in science or math or engineering or business or even arts and you feel as confused as I did or if you just want to share you're experience with changing career goals feel free to comment, I'm full of advice on switching programs and faculties and would love to hear any of your other stories!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Student House Hunting We Will Go

     Its about that time of year again when the snow has stopped being pretty and the windchill is strong enough to freeze your feet to the ground despite the fact that you are wearing two pairs of socks and boots. What does this have to do with the title of this post, well relatively nothing except that when my boyfriend and I walk to houses or apartments to view we will likely freeze in our tracks.

    Okay back on track, so as mentioned I've begun the monumental task of trying to find a place to live in this coming fall with my boyfriend as both of our leases will be up by then. Both of us would preferably like to find a place relatively soon to soothe our minds and just give us reassurance for the future. Alas (yes, alas I like that word okay) here lies the problem, the majority of ap
artment buildings and places I have emailed don't actually know if they'll have any apartments available for the fall because Ontario's law only require the current tenants to give a 60 day advance notification of termination. This means that the majority of places I have emailed have told me to contact them in July... sigh -.- Thats all fine and good for them but my stress level most certainly does not appreciate it..

My general sentiments & also the first meme I've ever made ...
Made with the help of meme generator that is :p

    Ah well I suppose you've had enough of my ranting about housing for today.. Have you had any housing woes? Maybe you couldn't find a place like me, or you found the perfect place and the neighbours were crazy I'd love to hear what you have to say and I always respond to comments so we can commiserate about housing woes together :) or rather :/ or just... never mind I don't know what my computer expression is but I'd still love to hear from you :) and that is definitely a smiley! ;)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

A Letter to the Weather

Dear Canadian weather,

     Why are you so cold today? I mean really I know you're in the Northern hemisphere and I know you shouldn't be as warm as you've been getting because of global warming but could you give us Canadians a bit of a break? I mean its forty below outside with windchill and I have to walk to class this evening when its going to be even colder with the setting sun, so could you just cut us some slack, and maybe warm things up a little, give Jack Frost the cold shoulder? I know the winter's beautiful and the trees look so pretty covered in flakes of snow but the wind isn't pretty and it doesn't feel nice to not be able to feel my face in the wind gusts so could you tone it down so that I can complain about it being too hot instead of too cold?



Also here's some pictures I took last night of the blizzard :)

Sunday, 5 January 2014

On Sherlock and the BBC Adapatation

      If you've never seen Sherlock the BBC television series which first aired in 2010 than you are really missing out. I first encountered the series during my first year of university when one of my friends from the same floor suggested it. After several hours spent watching and re-watching Sherlock I can most definitely say I am a huge fan. That being said I unfortunately haven't gotten up to date with the latest episodes yet.. I know, I know *cringes* .... But at least that means this post won't have any spoilers right?!

     If you are unfamiliar with the storyline of Arthur Conan Doyle's original book Sherlock Holmes than here's a quick summary: there are two main characters Dr. Watson a medical doctor from the army, and Sherlock Holmes, a private detective of sorts whose keen sense of observation and quick analysis of crime scenes gives him superhuman deduction capabilities. Together the pair visit crime scenes and aid or rather take over Inspector Lestraude's criminal cases in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Photo credit- Virtuouso by: Alicexz
     BBC's most recent adaptation of Doyle's book follows Sherlock and Watson's escapades in the 21st century. Normally I dislike when adaptations modernize stories however I have to give BBC credit, their modern adaptation of Sherlock is fascinating, despite its modernization and thankfully alters relatively little of Doyle's story. The BBC's main changes occur to Sherlock, rather than his original addiction to heroin, in the series he is a smoker, his personality is definitely a degree or two colder and he is portrayed as a sociopath, an attribute which certainly deviates from Doyle's original character.

    In response to the BBC's depiction of Sherlock as a sociopath I read an interesting article called Stop Calling Sherlock a Sociopath! Thanks, a psychologist, written by psychologist Maria Konnikova. In the article Konnikova insists that sociopaths and psychopaths are in fact the same thing as opposed to Sherlock's statement in the first episode of the first season, "Don't call a person a psychopath when what he really is is as sociopath". According to Konnikova Holmes lacks too many of the clinical characteristics of a sociopath to be one. But I suppose in the end whether you're watching BBC or reading Doyle's book, Sherlock Holmes is fictional and should perhaps be accepted as such without getting one's stomach into too much of a knot over whether he's a sociopath or not. What do you think, does it matter if Sherlock's a sociopath?

  However, despite Konnikova's perhaps over dramatic response to Sherlock's characterization I am very intrigued by a recent book she wrote titled, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes in which she analyzes Doyle's Sherlock and how the average person's thoughts compare to his deduction skills. Considering the conflicting views posted by reviewers I simply cannot wait to pick up this book and share my thoughts with you!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Beginnings

      For the new year I could make a resolution to eat healthier, exercise weekly, write a book or something of that sort but I probably won't. Its not that I don't try to eat healthy or that I don't try to exercise... wait pause there a moment, I might try and eat relatively healthy (I am one of those rare people who has loved salad since I was a kid) but lets be honest here, I don't really try to exercise. I know its benefits and such but who are we kidding its freaking cold outside I don't want to walk to the car (if I had a car) let alone put on my exercise clothes and go for a run or even walk to the gym.

     As for the book, I've always loved writing but being in second year university in an arts program doesn't leave a lot of time for writing anything other than research papers and essays. So instead I think I'm going to make a realistic resolution and write this blog of my ramblings and scattered thoughts instead.. at least one post a week... maybe more often during the really busy times at school when I'm procrastinating.

    Some people hate writing but I have always loved it, it calms me down and goodness knows I could do with a dose of calm in the hectic academic world, let alone the general chaos and abstract thought process that my brain tends to follow... Oh look a squirrel! Just kidding its nighttime now and hopefully all the squirrels are in bed, for some reason I'd like to imagine they are all tucked in nice little squirrel sized beds hugging miniature teddy bears....

      I think on that note its probably time to halt (not just stop, because halt sounds like a more purposeful word) tonight's ramblings. Good night world.

Photo credit: Clip Art etc.

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