Mr. 761 is ex-military. As such, he has a colorful vocabulary that I have found particularly enriching. There are phrases and terms that grad school didn’t teach me (but should have).
The term “clusterfuck” for example.
I can’t help it, I really like that word. It is related to the word “snafu“, which stands for “situation normal, all, er, effed up”. I hate to offend people, but anyone who knows me knows that we all curse like sailors here at Box 761. Or, rather, like airmen. Anyway, clusterfuck (aka “charlie foxtrot”) signifies a few different things, but my favorite definition is this one:
A situation that is totally fucked up, especially as a result of managerial incompetence.
Originally of military origin; a double play on the word “cluster,” both evoking multiple fuckups, as used in the term “cluster bomb,” and evoking the oak leaf or star “cluster” insignia of the [officer] who did the fucking.
Why am I taking you through this potentially offensive vocabulary lesson, you ask? Well, because I have been trying to figure out how to write about CBC Canada Reads, and have been trying to find a way in to the conversation. This topic has kind of taken over box 761, and while I like it and am obviously invested in it, part of me wants Canada Reads to just get their act together so I can write about other stuff — like, the green curry I made for dinner the other night, or how nice it is to have Mr. 761 home on leave from Kandahar. I’d love to write about my ongoing (and quite heart-breaking) search for just the right wall-covering for my bedroom, or my upcoming road trip with the Mr.
I’d like to talk about my trip to Toronto last weekend to see Wicked (not the best show ever, but oh, so steampunkily terrific – full of gears and giant clocks and smoke), what a great travel companion my youngest is, how great it was to see old friends from university days, and about my new boots:
Instead, I find myself getting in another froth about the doings over at CBC.
Last night, an author I know posted on Facebook that he’d been on the CBC Canada Reads site and Lo, (cue angels singing) found the list of the 40 Essential Books up and on the site. His own name was on it, as were, well, 39 others. There was a tag line about Erin “knowing how to read to 6000”, which I assume was the number of votes cast.
Really? That’s all? For crying out loud. There are 34,260,000 million people in this country and only 6000 votes? We should all weep for shame.
When he went back to check again, it was gone. I assume that Ms. Balser or the tech person (if they have one) had been previewing how it was going to look or something? Stupid mistake, and not one you can get away with in this day and age. It was all over Facebook almost immediately.
Then the day finally came. We listened to Jian Ghomeshi’s admittedly very lovely voice read out a random selection of the Top 40, and then when we went to the website like he told us to do (five times he said “go there now” – we counted), we discovered there was no list. It was slated to be up at eleven Toronto time, apparently. It’s a big country, Jian — we were all listening at 11 a.m. Atlantic time. Some authors were named over the air, but not all. Certainly I didn’t expect (or want) you to read out all forty names, Jian, but exhorting us to go to the website when it wasn’t actually loaded was not cool.
FINALLY, it’s up and all is well, right? Nope. Quickly, we realized that while there were indeed 40 books on the list, there were only 37 listed on the poll. Apparently Erin can count to 6000, but not to 40. They took the list down, and when it was up again, those three books were on it, but tagged on to the end, rather than in alpha order with the others. You don’t think that’s going to affect the votes?
Long boring story. I’m boring myself, really I am. I’m just tired of this, this… tiresome slack-ass lack of respect for Canadian authors. Fine, make it like the Hunger Games. Make it so that it’s a mix of American Idol and Survivor, fine. But stop changing the rules in the middle of the game, stop egging them on with orders to “get cracking” (jeez, that still rankles), and for the love of all things holy try to get this stuff right the first time.
You don’t know how to count? Get someone to help. You don’t know how to put a poll up online? Get someone to help. You mess up and only put 37 on the alphabetical list? Fix it AND put them all in order. You might have to type the whole list out again, but don’t you think that they’re worth it? You don’t think that making it to the Top 40 of all books written in Canada in a decade doesn’t rate retyping the list?
Today on Q Jian Ghomeshi sounded like he was trying to make sure we all knew that it’s just this year that Canada Reads will be in this format. I don’t know if that’s because he’s been keeping an eye on the blogosphere/Twitterverse/CBC website or what, but it did sound as if he were slightly apologetic about this. I see that The (Canada Reads) Life of Brian blog addressed some of the issues that I’ve been bitching about, too.
That’s all good. Really it is. But does it address the overall clusterfuck-ishness of this process?
No. I think not. This truly is a bit of a snafu, seems to me.
I had more I wanted to write, but I’m feeling as if this rant isn’t doing any good. I keep writing the same stuff, in different ways. So instead, I’m going to end this post with two things. First, a heartfelt congratulations to all authors involved in this spectacle. Thank you for writing and thank you for playing this game, with grace.
Second, I have a hankering to do a poll (look familiar?). Here are the rules:
- You can vote only once, unless you feel like voting more. (just an aside here… with a Polldaddy poll, you can vote more than once if you change your IP and cookies, or just use a different computer, just sayin’)
- I reserve the right to change the rules, at any time
- There will be three winning answers. I will post two
- If you want this to count, you should get cracking
- Write your own answers. Hell, write your own questions. I want to know.