While it doesn’t always feel like it (three days of snow at the end of February?!), spring is right around the corner. We thought we’d give you a kick-start on your spring reading by rounding up some staff favourites of late. Whether you’re looking forward to a little free time during a March Break holiday or simply curling up weeknights before bed, we’ve got a few great recommendations to add to your “To Be Read” list. (And be sure to read to the end for our latest Project Profile and this month’s Mondegreen.)
Steffani Cameron recommends On Writing by Stephen King
In the last few months, I have been returning to read Stephen King’s On Writing, as I consider it one of the greatest books I’ve ever read about how to write and why to do certain things or not. For style, language, clarity, and motivation, it’s simply the most plain-spoken and effective book on the craft out there. I’ve never done much schooling on the writing front, and a book like King’s makes me glad I didn’t. He’s very good at helping its reader understand it’s a big world of language and style, and there’s no need to homogenize your approach or your language to suit what’s taught in class. Case in point, I often start sentences with And or But and most editors would cringe at it, but it brings a conversational and down-to-earth tone that’s in keeping with who I am.
So, I’d recommend it to anyone who makes a living writing or would like to do so. Or just people who like a good read. It’s both.
Michelle Clough recommends River God by Wilbur Smith
River God is a perennial favorite, one I pull out of my shelf and reread in patches at least once a year. The story is set in the twilight years of the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, around the time of the Hyksos invasion, and told through the eyes of Taita, an improbably talented eunuch slave.
I was always going to love this book because I adore Ancient Egypt, but for me, River God also hits that sweet spot of genuinely good melodrama; yes, everything is a little over the top and broad strokes, but it’s all done so compellingly that you find yourself being swept up in the grand emotions of it all, particularly the poignant love story subplot. It also does a great job of getting into the mindset of an Egyptian man over 3,000 years ago, and it doesn’t shy away from showing the very different morals and values, particularly in relation to women’s rights, slave ownership, racism, etc.
Be warned that the sequels are a mixed bag. Seventh Scroll is a pretty cool adventure tale about archaeologists discovering Taita’s work in the 20th century and seeking the tomb he built; it’s fun Indiana Jones fluff. Skip Warlock and the other direct sequels, however; they definitely lose something over the original.
I read a lot. Constantly. It’s my way to chill out after a full day, when everyone is tucked in bed, and I can just escape for a while. I’m also still hooked on paper and can’t seem to adapt to e-readers!
As I hope to one day break into the world of youth fiction writing, I read a lot of this genre; it’s fun and takes me back to those wild and awkward days! One of the latest novels I read is The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. My 15-year-old daughter Adrienne also read it and we both loved it! It’s not very often that we can both say that about the same novel!
The novel is narrated by Hazel, a 16-year-old cancer patient, who falls in love with a 17-year-old former cancer patient named Augustus Waters, a handsome jock and amputee. The two meet at a cancer support group. The conditions that bring the two together are so sad and they are the most unlikely pairing of Juliet and Romeo, that it makes their love story hilarious, impossible, incredibly sad, and inspiring. Both Adrienne and I read this one in record time and closed the book thinking, “What a great story! I wish it wasn’t over.” It is so unlike any teenage or adult romance story we’ve ever read. The characters had so much going against them, but, in the end, found each other and embraced every moment together. I won’t give away any more of the plot, but it’s a big recommend from mother and daughter.
I couldn’t read this book fast enough. Reminiscent of John Vaillant’s The Golden Spruce (another favourite), Eating Dirt tells the story of one full year of tree-planting in the 20 year career of author Charlotte Gill. The description of her year forms the narrative arc, while interspersed are fascinating tidbits about the logging industry, thoughts on environmentalism, the types of characters you encounter in the bush, on the camps, in the remote outposts where tree-planters are so often based. Having spent one season planting trees in northern British Columbia, I was instantly transported back to that time – the brutal conditions, the long and isolated days, but also the friendships and the satisfaction of doing something so hard core – and frankly the constant inner debate about whether what it is you’re doing is good for this planet or entirely the opposite of that. Gill describes this internal conflict with a beautiful literary style, humour and amazing detail.
Lionel Shriver’s 2007 novel, The Post-Birthday World, poses a question we all ask ourselves at one time or another: What if, at one specific moment in our lives, we had made a different choice? Irina McGovern lives with her partner, the intellectual and responsible Lawrence, in 1990s London. One summer night, she is tempted to kiss a friend, professional snooker player and all-round party guy, Ramsey Acton. In alternating chapters, the story imagines two possibilities: one in which Irina fights off her temptation, and one in which she succumbs to it. I have always enjoyed books and films that tell two (or more!) stories in one (think Sliding Doors, Groundhog Day), but what differentiates The Post-Birthday World from other “what if” stories is that Shriver never telegraphs what she believes to be the “right” choice for Irina, thereby challenging the reader to make that decision for herself.
The House of Sand and Fog isn’t new, but it’s still a great read. The characters are deeply flawed and seem bent on making ever poorer decisions as the story progresses. By telling the story from multiple perspectives, Dubus allows us to understand why each character behaves as they do, and how their individual beliefs, motivations, and backgrounds inevitably lead them into conflict. It’s a page-turner that will leave you by turns sympathetic and frustrated, but always entertained.
Rise of the ESports Hero is a fascinating look at a world many didn’t even know existed, that of professional video game players. It’s a high-pressure, high-stress, and highly paid career for the gamers that’s also a growing spectator sport. We were thrilled to caption this show and to have peered into the intriguing world of pro-gamers; we know you will enjoy it too. A big congratulations, too, to Rise of the ESports Hero on their recent Impact Award nomination!
This Month’s Mondegreen
We enjoy a good Mondegreen as much as anyone! But you can relax in the confidence that, at Line 21, we work very hard to ensure we never create Mondegreens out of your dialogue.
12 large dry corn tortillas
1/2 c water
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
3 chilies or jalapenos
5 T oil
1 c grated cheese: Mexican queso blanco is traditional or you can experiment with what you have on hand – goat cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, etc.
shredded chicken or other leftovers (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add tomatoes and chilies and boil until soft. Drain and mix in blender with the garlic and water.
Heat 1 T oil and fry the tomato mixture. Simmer for five minutes, adding salt to taste.
Cut the tortillas into strips. Heat remaining oil in a clean frying pan, and fry tortilla strips until crispy.
Drain the oil and crack the eggs into the pan with the tortilla strips. Stir so they don’t stick. Add salt to taste and chicken or leftovers if using to warm them.
Place in a serving bowl, then pour the tomato sauce over entire dish. Sprinkle with onions and cheese and enjoy a delicious Mexican breakfast!
Because the list is so long (and really, who plans that far in advance?), today we’re only going to give you the line-up for the next three months. Options for the rest of your “year in film festivals” will follow throughout the year.
DOXA Motion Picture Film Series
Next film : January 21
This series runs from October to February, featuring some of the world’s most outstanding documentaries. Put on by DOXA Documentary Film Festival.
Co-presented by the North Vancouver Community Arts Council and the Toronto International Film Festival. Features a wide range of hard-to-find cinematic entertainment. Films are presented over the entire year.
Features unique films and presentations that illustrate experiences and cultures from all corners of the globe. Festival also includes live presentations, films, photography, live music, and international film and photo competitions.
Excellent for a winter home-working lunch! Or for packing to the office.
1 T coconut oil or 1 T olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried rosemary
¼ t crushed red peppers
2 c canned or soaked/softened chickpeas
2 c stock: chicken, vegetable, or your favourite. Or water!
2 t lemon juice
In a saucepan, melt coconut oil (or olive oil).
Sauté garlic with rosemary and crushed red peppers until the garlic begins to brown.
Add chickpeas. Cook for 2 minutes.
Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
Puree with a stick blender or in a blender.
Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
Garnish with a swirl of olive oil and a sprig of rosemary.
We have one serious tradition at Line 21, and that’s an all-out holiday meal together. In the past, we’ve been on carol ships, up Grouse Mountain, in homes, and in restaurants all around the city, so we bring you some recommendations for a special festive meal with people who are important to you. Happy holidays!
We went to this amazing family-style trattoria last year, and were blown away. It’s an intimate, unpretentious location with absolutely amazing food and incredible service. In our group of around 20 people, we have a number of food allergies and sensitivities, and La Buca was able to coordinate a spectacular meal for everyone, juggling the various diner profiles with ease. Full points all around; a great venue for two people or more.
Up on 4th Avenue in Kits, this award-winning bistro provides a gracious, comfortable ambiance and delicious, high-end food and drink. Warm, delicious, fresh… steak frites or cassoulet, anyone? Great for a small to medium dinner party anytime.
We had a House Wine tasting party at Carolyn’s home one year, and it was amazing. House Wine coordinated cheese and charcuterie accompaniments from Les Amis du Fromage and led us through a very enjoyable and interesting — and delicious — evening. Recommended for a great house party!
A Holiday Mondegreen
We enjoy a good Mondegreen as much as anyone! But you can relax in the confidence that, at Line 21, we work very hard to ensure we never create Mondegreens out of your dialogue.
Festive and flavourful. Photo by Melissa Doroquez by CC BY-SA 2.0
What’s December without a little cheer? In our case, that comes in the form of Carolyn’s favourite celebratory beverage. Couldn’t be simpler. Cheers, everyone! And all the best for a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.
If you love chocolate puffed wheat squares, you will love these. The puffed rice makes them a great treat for anyone with food sensitivities, and you can adjust the sweetness to suit. The antioxidant-rich chocolate and the coconut oil – instead of the usual butter or margarine, corn syrup, white sugar, or brown sugar – also make these healthier than your average sweet snack. And only 4 ingredients!
4 cups puffed rice (if using honey-sweetened puffed rice, omit the sweetener)
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup very good quality hot chocolate mix + dash of high-quality sweetener if desired – but go easy!
1 cup coconut oil
Melt the coconut oil, and mix the other ingredients together in a bowl.
Let the oil cool to the point where it will coat your other ingredients — not too hot, not too cold.
Pour the oil over the other ingredients. Mix well with a spoon. Continue mixing while the oil cools enough to coat the other ingredients. If it hasn’t cooled enough, the chocolate will pool at the bottom of your muffin cups (though this is not necessarily a bad thing!)
Ever hear music lyrics differently from what they actually are? There’s a name for that.
We’re all familiar with the phenomenon of misheard lyrics. There’s the one about Santa’s other reindeer. You know: Olive. As in “Olive, the other reindeer,” misheard from “all of the other reindeer.” There’s the puzzling line “excuse me while I kiss this guy” in Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” The urge to plant one on a nearby fellow seems out of place because it is: Jimi really sang “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” Remember the ELO hit “Blinded by the Light (written by Bruce Springsteen and also a hit for Manfred Mann)? Legions of people misheard the line “Revved up like a Deuce” and believed the song had something to do with a feminine hygiene product.
Quoting these misheard lyrics can be a fun party game. And now, we’re about to give you the means to take that game to the next level. Next time someone starts to tell you that God’s first name is Howard (“Howard be thy name,” rather than “hallowed be thy name”), you can confidently tell them that what they’re referring to is called a ‘Mondegreen.’
Back in 1954, American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in her Harper’s Magazine essay “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.” You can read the story here. Mondegreens encompass more than just misheard lyrics. A Mondegreen is any misheard phrase that’s interpreted as something sounding very similar. We mentioned one in our newsletter last month: the actual phrase said was “Ever been to Riyadh?” but the Mondegreen heard was “Ever been to rehab?”
Mondegreens are captioners’ nightmares, which is why we work very, very hard to avoid them. It just wouldn’t do for us to caption Joni Mitchell’s famous lyric “A gay pair of guys put up a parking lot” instead of the correct wording: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
We’ve written about the particular challenges of captioning music before. Refresh your memory:
Now, speaking of party games… how about sharing some of your favourite Mondegreens on the Line 21 Facebook page?
Project Profile: Highway Thru Hell
Whether you’re a fan of big trucks, roadside problem solving, beautiful BC, or human stories, Highway Thru Hell is a documentary series you won’t want to miss. Featuring Jamie Davis Trucking based in Hope, BC, this series follows the adventures and mishaps that occur on the famous Coquihalla highway in BC’s interior. One to watch and thoroughly enjoyed by our captioning and scripting departments. Thanks to Great Pacific for being our clients!
Highway Thru Hell airs Tuesdays at 7 pm on Discovery Canada. Find them on Facebook.
A huge growth market for Line 21 is transcribing raw footage and interviews for reality TV shows. As you may know, reality TV shows shoot huge quantities of digital footage, most of which is boring or mundane (even to the point of monitoring empty rooms for hours at a time), and then the hours of dross are edited to create one hour episodes of coherent narrative… and can we please make those hours as dramatic as possible?!
The result can be a highly entertaining viewing experience. But most of us aren’t fooled into thinking it’s really “reality”. We recognize the editing that’s required to create the entertainment, and we know that one person’s poorer qualities may be disproportionately featured in order to create a villain, or another player’s momentary naiveté is being exploited so that they appear perpetually daffy. That’s just reality TV. But even shows that are written off as silly fluff are produced, edited, and managed by smart people with useful tools.
Back to Line 21’s task: we transcribe the hours of interview footage, which is then tagged and ordered in a database along with action and background footage so that, when “creating” the lovably daffy character, producers can easily locate material in support of their creation. The tagging and logging saves editors hours and hours of tedious searching for appropriate moments. A simple database search and the material they need is at their fingertips. Not surprising then, that the reality TV industry has developed lots of solutions for transcribing, logging, storing, and managing footage.
Yes, you read that correctly. The RAND Corporation strongly advises the American Air Force adopt reality TV practices to deal with the astronomical (and increasing) quantities of surveillance footage they collect. From the way they set up their monitoring stations, to the ways they tag and database images in their raw footage, American military intelligence has a thing or two to learn from “Jersey Shore.”
It might be funny or ironic at first glance, but step back a moment and recall: the techniques the intelligence community is being advised to adopt were created for the purpose of creating reality TV: a medium in which very little premium is placed on “reality” and a huge premium is placed on “constructed entertainment.” At what point along the road does “reality TV editing” slip into “reality editing”? Is there a dangerous boundary here that someone’s about to merrily blur?
There’s a big difference between going to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, and going to rehab. But when discussing middle east travel plans recently, rehab is what was heard, creating a bit of an awkward moment before it was understood and laughed off. Always be sure you’re listening carefully – in transcription and in regular life!
From Andrew Orenstein, the creator of Malcolm In The Middle and Third Rock From the Sun, Package Deal is about the inevitable conflict and hijinks that arise when a shopkeeper falls in love with a lawyer who has an overly close, dysfunctional relationship with his two older brothers. Check it out on City TV, Mondays at 8:30! Captioners find it laugh-out-loud hilarious. Thanks for letting us work on this show! And congratulations to Thunderbird Films!
Hearty, nutritious, and aromatic with pumpkin spice!
Muffins are very nearly the perfect food. Great for breakfast, a snack, or even with soup, they’re filling but healthy and you can sneak in all kinds of fruit and vegetables to pack them full of nutrients. These ones have a decidedly fall flavour to them with the addition of pumpkin pie spice blend, which gives off that unmistakable aroma that lets us know autumn is definitely here.
2 c flour mix, like all-purpose and whole wheat (for gluten-free muffins, try 1 ½ c brown rice flour and ½ c amaranth flour)
½ c brown sugar
1 t baking powder
½ t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice (see recipe below)
2 mashed bananas (could be frozen/defrosted)
1 c pumpkin or other squash puree (cut squash in half, bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tender, cool, then scrape out the flesh)
¼ c olive oil or melted butter
1 t vanilla
Directions Preheat over to 350 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients with a fork. In a separate bowl blend all wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Note that if you are using gluten free flour, over blending isn’t a problem because you can’t overwork the gluten if it’s not there. So I use a hand blender to add more air into the mix.
Pour or spoon into greased or lined muffin cups, and bake at 350 or slightly lower until cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Pumpkin Pie Spice (great for all kinds of baking and also delicious on top of oatmeal!) Recipe from The Rising Spoon.