Monday, February 27, 2006

Movie Reviews: A Triptych.

Part I

I saw Romancing the Stone this afternoon for the first time. I really enjoyed it. I spoke to Lisa soon after and she said, "Isn’t it amazing that when that movie was made, Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner were considered the best looking people around?" I laughed. The first time Douglas turned to the camera, all straggly and Indy Jones-ey, my first reaction was to recoil a little and go, “huh.” All in all, worth seeing.

The Oscars are on Sunday. I always like the Oscars, because I get to think about movies without seeming too obsessed. I hate that this year, I didn’t see all 5 best picture nominees. I passed on Munich when it was in the cinemas here in Charlottetown and the week after it left screens here, it was announced as one of the best pics. Bah. I hear it’s long and a real downer, anyway. Fuck that noise.

Part II

I went to see Capote by myself. I love going to movies by myself. It makes me feel very cosmopolitan, independent and strong.

Capote is the portion of Truman Capote’s life while he was writing what ended up being his last novel, “In Cold Blood,” which he called a “nonfiction novel.” He was excited because he thought that he was inventing a new kind of writing; bridging the gap between fact and fiction. He was interviewing (primarily) one man who was accused of murdering a small-town family to fulfill research for his novel. The accused was an articulate, meek man, and Capote soon made a connection with him.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character study of Truman Capote is absolutely captivating. Conniving at times, extroverted at times, genius and naïve in turn, it was an enjoyable (and sometimes brow-furrowing) movie. I don’t want to give too many details because I don’t want to ruin your experience if you haven’t seen it. I won’t deprive you of those small intakes of breath not quite big enough to call gasps.

Part III


Clooney! Jesus, I cannot tone down my deep, deep affection for The Clooney. It's visceral.

This is me, Stanley Kowalski-esque, at the bottom of a staircase wearing a ripped sweaty tee-shirt, yelling in anguish: "CLOONEEE!!!"

I went to see Good Night, and Good Luck at City Cinema, the rep theatre in Charlottetown. Lisa was my date.

Good Night, and Good Luck was the story of TV personality Edward R. Murrow’s reaction to Senator McCarthy’s Anti-American Activity trials of the 1950s. The parallels with today’s American administration attitude of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us,” are not lost on most.

Clooney (Even when we’re married, I’m going to call him Clooney. “Clooney! Thank you so much for this yacht! Clooney, did you know that your Italian villa is tax-free because you're so handsome? Clooney! It's your turn to give little Asher and Felicity their baths!”) wrote, directed and starred in this film. In high-contrast black and white, which makes for seamless integration of archival footage.

This is a different character study from that of Capote. It’s a less in-depth look at these non-fictional characters. It’s almost voyeuristic. There are a lot of characters that, by the end of the film, we know what they’re thinking, but I think it’s more a testament to the high quality of the actors rather than a crackerjack screenplay (no offense, Clooney). No, maybe it’s screenplay and actors and direction.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Veritas Vincit.

For those familiar with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and now on his own, Stephen Colbert, you will probably enjoy this clip. Let it completely load up before watching it. I used to watch it over and over again in Hamilton, and now that I've found it in a longer, different format, I'm going nuts with it again. Also for your enjoyment, this photo. It is a million times humiliating.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Deep Breaths.

I'm so much better today. Not so much as a sigh. I think I got it out of my system.

I feel I should, though, make a clarification today.

That I'm sad and lonely doesn't mean I don't want people to ask me out if I'll be an odd one out. It doesn't disable me from conversation and company. It also doesn't mean that my friends can't talk about their boyfriends/girlfriends/husbands or treat me with kid gloves, as if I'd burst into flames.

Also, because this has confused people in the past, I have to try to explain: being sad that I'm lonely doesn't preclude me from being happy for others' happiness. It just reminds me that I'm sad, and sometimes, in the perfect storm of stress and emotions, the sad side of the scales tips and I have to be careful what I say or where I am. This is why sometimes, being by myself is best. This is rare, though. Most times I'm fine.

Thanks for everyone's kind words. I think I have to post stuff like that because when I'm in the middle of it, I don't feel like there's anyone I can talk to. I know that might not be true, but when I feel like I'm totally alone, a venting of stress on-line is very helpful. It makes me feel that someone is listening.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Insert Leonard Cohen Lyric Here.

Today was just terrible.

I started crying in the shower, and it didn’t stop for much longer than a half hour at a time. I haven’t had a day like this since the 12th of September.

I spoke to my sister, which was nice, and she did make me smile. Marilyn’s awesome and I really miss her.

Last night I went for drinks with people at the Gahan House. I met Mike’s girlfriend for the first time. Well, the first time I was in anything close to a healthy mental state, anyway.

The whole night was in pairs. Hell, everything is in pairs, it seems to me. Husbands, fiancés, girlfriends, weddings, and double-date Dominican vacations were discussed. The only other single person at the table was constantly (teasingly?) persuaded to be set up on dates by another one of my girlfriend’s husband.

(Why doesn’t anyone ever ask me, “are you dating anyone?” Do they assume I’m not, or do they assume I’d bring it up right away and talk about it incessantly? Which one’s worse/more insulting?)

The aforementioned healthy state left me today.

Today, knowing I’d make myself hysterical if I just sat home sobbing, I went into Charlottetown. After an unsuccessful retail therapy session, I went north. I drove to Cavendish. I parked and walked to the waterline. The surface of the water was virtually glass. I’ve never seen the Gulf so calm. There was no wind, but it was cold, so I flipped up the collar on my coat. I walked along the water and leaned on beached slab ice, continuing to cry (even though I can assure readers that I did take time to appreciate how beautiful the beach was).

It’s been so long since I’ve had an “I’m lonely” post. I liked being left alone up on the beach. It was cathartic to loudly cry in an open space like that.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I Heard That You Were Feeling Ill; Headache, Fever And A Chill.

I turned a corner yesterday afternoon. I got a little bit of pluck back in the afternoon, but my sinuses still stung and it still felt like my eyes were pressurized.

This morning I'm into the coughing and phlegm stage of the cold.

I had a hankerin' for soup. I dug in the cupboard for some instant chicken noodle, but couldn't find any. I did, however, end up making a package of leek soup that looked like it was bought for a bunker in preparation of Khrushchev pressing the red button. It is a delight and I'm not kidding. It's salty and hot and creamy (in that way that leek soup is creamy). And it's not even St. David's Day!

Hindsight: why did I never learn to blow my nose? Is this something that can be taught? I think it's more like an empirical fact. "Some people can roll their tongues and some can't." I'm very bad at blowing my nose. It's inefficient, messy, and it makes me choke and gasp. Is this what it's like for everyone and I just don't know that this is what should be happening?

Snot B Gone!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Plague O' My House.

I feel like crap. Between the sore throat, sneezing fit, chills, sweats and aches, I'm not sure what to call this bug I have. It's not a flu, I don't think (and besides, I got the jab), but it's one mother of a cold. I sound like a cross between Amanda Gallant after a rigorous summer of teaching swimming and that spotty teenager on The Simpsons.

Oh, and did I mention the snot? God, there's snot everywhere!

Happily, the Tundra is taking a vacation south this weekend, so I have an excuse to not go outside (like I ever need an excuse these days...). It's
-30ish with the windchill. Jebus.

Anyhow, this is making me a little light-headed, so I'm going to go have a lie-down. Coming soon: a review of "Good Night and Good Luck" and "Capote."

Friday, February 17, 2006

In Memoriam.

Florence Pearse
1936-2005
Beloved aunt, she will be missed.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Smells Of Summer.

My summer perfume of choice is Coppertone. I love its scent. It is one of those nostalgic smells that reminds me of beaches and green grass.

I am one chromosome away from being albino. My eyes are blue, my hair is blonde(...ish), and my skin is transparent. I wish I had lovely milky white skin like Nicole Kidman, but mine is more pink, like, I dunno, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Because of my sensitivity to the sun combined with my concern over my skin's health, last year I began to experiment with self-tanners. I was sitting for days at a time in my apartment, toiling over my thesis, recoiling from Hamilton's stinky summer conditions and southern Ontario's 8+ UV scale, getting pastier and pastier as compared to my friends who were beginning to look downright Latino.

I bought myself a new bottle of tanner this week and used it yesterday for the first time this year. I wanted to add a little colour to my face, since really that's the only part of me exposed this time of year (sigh).

I forgot about that smell. The cream itself smells fine, but it's the chemical reaction afterwards - the cream actually changing the colour of the top layer of skin. The reaction produces this... smell. It's not totally offensive, but not all that pleasant, either. It's like a non-offensive body odour. Sour, but earthy.

The upshot is: I don't want this chemical reaction smell to usurp the Coppertone smell as a familiar summer scent. I suppose I can use Coppertone to mask the smell, but isn't that a bit like junior high boys bathing in cologne instead of using deodorant? I guess not. Maybe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Is That A Cake, Or A Meringue? No, It Is A Cake.

I’ve been finishing a lot of books lately. I had some sleep problems last night, so I finished two while waiting to drop off. I wrapped up “Hoot,” a gift from Christmas. It was very good young reader’s book, and I see they’re making a movie out of it featuring my husband, Luke Wilson. No, this will not be a forum to debate which Wilson brother is better looking, because there’s no debate, it’s Luke. Note I write “best looking,” not “most talented.”

I also finished “How To Walk In High Heels; A Girl’s Guide To Everything,” also a Christmas gift. Mother Effer, this was quite the tome. It was ok, but a lot of the time, it was just reading common sense stuff, like how not to flash people getting out of a car in a miniskirt. It also had stuff like, “How to change a tyre” (yeah, it’s British) and how to dance the tango. I read so much British fiction, it was actually strange to read Hoot, which is set in Florida.



Last week, I finished the best book I’d read in a while. It was called “Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Around The World.” It was written by Ewan McGregor and his best friend, Charley Boorman. Both avid motorcyclists, for years they fantasized about driving their bikes all the way around the world. It usually takes at least a year to plan that kind of trip, but with Ewan’s busy acting schedule, they didn’t have a lot of time to mess with. They also wanted a video record of the trip, and help in case they got in trouble. They decided the best way to get everything done was to try to make it into a television show. They hired a staff of about 8-10 people, got sponsors, all the paperwork, jabs, training and 2 heavy BMW bikes, and in about 4 months, they left London for a trip east to New York, the long way round. Over 30,000 kilometers, 12 countries, in 4 months.

The two men drove with their cameraman, Claudio Von Planta, on their own. One day behind them was their support crew in SUVs, which included two producers, a doctor, another cameraman, and sometimes interpreters and fixers.

The TV part was made into a 10-part series that aired here in Canada on the Outdoor Life Network. I saw a few of the episodes when it was on, but when I saw the DVD was on Amazon.ca for just over $20, I knew I was about to immerse myself even further. (Down and down I go, round and round I go, in a spin…)

I read ahead in the book, and then watched the episodes as I went. The book gave a lot more detail than the TV series, which edited out fights, shrinking penises, and depressive episodes.

In the end, I was extremely satisfied. No, it’s not just because I want to make babies with Ewan McGregor. (In fact, now, knowing how moody he can be, his wife can keep him.) He and Charley were incredibly likable in this series, and the cameraman, Claudio (who failed his motorbike driver’s license on the day before they left and had to meet them in Prague.) did a fantastic job of capturing the adventure. There were mobsters with Kalashnikovs in Ukraine, Ewan splashed gas in his eyes (twice!), Charley tore muscles in his shoulder, one of the SUVs rolled over in Mongolia, and impassible cataracts of melting snow in Siberia. Watch this video of both Ewan and Charley for a taste of the adventure.

If anyone wants a lend of the DVD, or any of the books mentioned, let me know. Form an orderly queue.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Weight-Loss Tip.

Never wash your jeans. Forever hauling up your stretched-out jeans boosts self-esteem.

Ok, so it's not real weight loss, but I'll take what I can get.

And I like to justify not doing laundry.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Altruism and Mormonism.

I’ve been slacking a bit in my dedication to the Church of Catherine. I am trying to feel better about myself, but it’s slow going. I’ve also neglected the (so far) one and only pillar of the Church of Catherine: donating blood. The pillar is worded thusly: If you are able to give blood (physically and emotionally), you must do so as often as you can, to the best of your ability. See August 16th, 2005.

I’ve not donated blood to the best of my ability. I was eligible to donate again in October when I was living in Ottawa. I could have donated twice since August. I don’t want to make excuses because it was naughty.

I finally went in to the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Charlottetown to donate. It took forever. It always takes forever. (Not the administrative stuff - that was quick.) As far as I could tell, it took about 25 minutes to drain the 2 units. I was squeezing that ball like it was going out of style, willing the blood to pour faster so I could take the aching needle out of my arm.

The best part was afterwards. They ask you to go sit in a room for 5 minutes after you donate, have a cookie and some juice to make sure you don’t get dizzy. Sometimes there are volunteers there to chat with you. This day, there were two clean-cut young men there in shirtsleeves. I said hi, they recommended the raisin bread, and I just sat down. Another donor came in and asked where the boys were from. One said Utah (my ears pricked up) and the other said Washington State.

I ate my buttered bread and asked what brings two young men so far to volunteer at a blood donor clinic in Atlantic Canada. The blonde one said they were missionaries. I said, “oh, you’re Mormons,” or something to that effect. We started chatting. Mormons, you see, have a mandatory two-year missionary service when they turn 19 (21 for women). As not to sound like a weirdo Moroni-lover, I told him that I have a couple of degrees studying world religions.

I realized something, so I grabbed the opportunity. “Are there any formal pilgrimages in Mormonism?” I hadn’t thought of it, but I hadn’t investigated official pilgrimages of Mormons while I was working on my thesis. He said, “No, I don’t think so.” By the time Mormon missionaries are actually in the field, they’ve gone through years of formal religious training in preparation, so I guess he’d know. (I’ve looked it up since, and although there are some cities that are considered holy and historically important, I still don’t think it’s a formal spiritual thing.)

So, I convinced the idealist youth that they were on pilgrimages, even if their missionary time wasn’t to a specific religious destination. There were trials, journeys, spiritual enlightenment, and a strengthening of community ties. Check, check, check.

Oh, and by the way, I’m a Mormon now.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Clinton Kelly, You're My Hero.

There's this moment. It's in the opening. You know, the titles. The titles of What Not To Wear.

What Not To Wear is one of my favourite shows. It's a show where people nominate fashion-challenged friends for a $5,000 makeover in New York City. They also get their hair (and makeup, if applicable) done by two very talented and expensive experts. Generally, it's great. The hosts are Stacey London, a black-haired skinny urban princess, and Clinton Kelly, a tall blonde drink of water who dresses like my fantasy boyfriends. They work well together, and with some tough love, the guests always feel better about themselves.

The show is on Friday nights, but I was pleased to find that it's in syndication every day at 1pm on TLC. I watch most days, because my 16 months without a TV made me miss a lot of episodes and it's a good chance to catch up.

In the titles, there's a moment where Clinton ushers a frumpy redhead through a door, and she emerges in a fantastic outfit, looking amazed and happy. Directly after she emerges, Clinton quickly looks off to the left, supposedly at Stacy, crinkling his baby blues and opening his mouth in an explosive laugh. Oh! He's so happy that the redhead looks so good!

It's only a split second, but it makes me so happy. I love to see it, and most times, it makes me laugh too. Watch for it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Notice:

-Tidied up and shifted some stuff on the sidebar.
-New Linque du Jour. Warning: jolly timesuck.
-New friends' blogs added.
-Decided Suzuki is going to be a permanent resident of the sidebar.
-Check out all the nooks and crannies of "Harvest Homes." Very cool.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lucky, Lucky. You're So Lucky.

I bumped into Ms. Wendt yesterday. Ms. Wendt was my grade 11 photography teacher. I probably hadn’t spoken to her since then, making it a nice round 10 years. Jesus.

Ms. Wendt was such a unique teacher. She was a good teacher, but somehow she was too kind and enlightened for the monotony of public school. She seemed to have been better suited to wandering a beach on the Costa Brava of Spain, contemplating life and sipping green tea. She has fair skin and curly shoulder-length blonde hair that was mostly in ringlets with comparatively little frizz. (She seems like more of an Earth Mother type than someone who would spend a lot of time worrying about frizz, so her curls are probably just very good luck.)

I loved that photography class. It served me well, too. I learned and retained a lot.

Photography is this fantastic marriage of science and art. The photographer aims the viewfinder at the desired subject, light is bounced off that subject flips through a lens into the guts of the camera, reacting with chemicals on the film. When that film is washed with more chemicals, the areas that were struck with light washes away, leaving a negative miniature image. That treated film, when dried, is loaded into a projector that pushes light through the clear areas on the film onto a light-sensitive paper. That positive image flashes on the paper for a few seconds, and then the paper is washed with more chemicals (which develop the areas on the paper where light struck), then rinsed in water, and then dried. Ter-daa! A photograph, easy as that! Both elements of science and composition have to be spot on, or the product won’t be quite right. Ahh… a sensitive geek’s dream.

Ms. Wendt, or Liza, as I remembered was her name, asked me what I was doing with my life and I was forced for describe in extreme condensed form 10 years of my life. It sounded like this: “I ain’t got no job.” I told her I’m considering going back to college to learn something practical. She asked what, specifically, and I told her that I’m very interested in alternative and ecologically-sound building methods, like strawbale, and earthships.

I’ve been thinking about studying the design of homes built out of ecologically sound materials. I believe that there will be a huge demand for alternative building methods in the future. Conventional materials and construction cannot sustain a cost-effective energy lifestyle, and the dent they leave on the environment is unconscionable. I also believe that the demand in the Maritimes will mushroom as people seek ways to lower extortionate energy costs.

When I mentioned these interests of mine, she immediately lit up. Apparently her partner, Kevin, worked in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, last summer building a strawbale shed for a lady, and was thinking of constructing one this summer for himself.

She said he knew a lot of people in the Maritimes that knew about strawbale construction, and invited me to give them a call this week to see if he could help me out.

“Holy crap!” says me. Paulo Coelho was right! Maybe the universe is conspiring in my favour! This could be a very useful happenstance. I need to know what I need to study to design homes. Architecture? Drafting? Alchemy? Feng Shui? Can I do the designs and then hand them over to math people or do I have to exhume my math skills that have been buried for years?

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Pet Peeve #253.

My cousin James’ wife recently gave birth to twin boys. My mother in on a gift-buying binge for them, as usual whenever a family member breeds. When we were in Halifax, my sorta-aunt Donna was looking for baby clothes for a new boy of a friend, too. She was also in the process of crotcheting baby blankets for her two pregnant daughters, but was overwhelmed because she felt the need to make four blankets: two pink and two blue. Not knowing the sex of the babies, she felt she needed two of each colour, just in case.

The three of us went to Winners, a perfect place for a great selection of infant’s clothing. Mum went to Newfoundland yesterday, and she’ll be there for about 3 weeks. She wanted to bring some stuff back to the new babies. She needed two of everything, of course. I found a matching pair of those t-shirt things that snap in the crotch – garments I from now on shall call “pooper-pants”. The ones I was holding up were white, red and yellow striped. My Mum wrinkled her nose and said, “Are they too feminine?”

It’s time. It’s time I address this annoyance on my soap box, a.k.a. Sweet Nothings. I think I can officially count this compulsion to strictly clothe infants in pink or blue according to his or her sex as another pet peeve of mine.

What the hell kind of difference is it going to make if a boy wears pink, or at least, not blue. And if a girl wears blue? Are people afraid their kinds will turn out to be… horror of all horror… homos? If a boy has a pink baby blanket, do people think his first words would be "hello, goigeous!”? And a girl will be drawn to flannel and crew cuts? Jesus… I think we’re giving these kids a little too much credit, aren’t we?

This is actually a much bigger debate. It involves gender and gender identification. Ok, to dork it up here for a moment: do we remember the episode of Star Trek: TNG where the Enterprise encountered the society with no gender? It made the Starfleet crew really uneasy. (That’s right: all philosophical and academic debates can always come back to ST:TNG.) I think the preoccupation with engendered-colours is not for the sake of the child, but to save face for the parents. Like Picard’s crew, people feel a great deal of dis-ease if a person’s gender cannot be immediately identified.

Why, though, should we expect to know the sex of an infant? (A side thought: is this why some parents pierce infant girls’ ears?) Why should we know, and what difference does it make? This baby is only just alive and we need to know his or her sex? These persons have no secondary sexual characteristics, no decipherable language, no skills or feelings or opinions. Hell, they can barely focus their eyes! Why is there a concern that he or she will grow up somehow confused because he or she wore the “wrong” colour in the months after it exited the womb?

I think this idiocy has gone too far. I look awesome in pink. I also look good in blue. I hate that a man with the same skin tone, eye and hair color as me would shy away from pink because it’s “for girls,” or worse, far, far worse, “for fags.” Some girls I have met are in the same boat, refusing to wear pink because of all it stands for. “It’s too girly,” they say.

Sure, I guess I have no need for gender-identification through symbolic colours with the hips and D-cups, but still… (I know this weakens my argument that infants have no gender identification and should not symbolically assign them a sex. Uncle.)

I know that somebody that has any background in gender studies would be able to tear this Peeve of mine full of holes, but I want people to think about this. I’ve learned enough about symbology in my two Religious Studies degrees to understand that it’s not just a colour, just like it’s not just a cross, and it’s not just a flag, but it’s got much deeper meanings, such as gender and religion and country. Still, isn’t it a bit ludicrous to assign so much importance and distraction to specific wavelengths of light? What a bland world we deserve to live in. Wouldn’t that be so much easier? I’d have one less pet peeve.