Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu.

Later, 2008. You can suck it. I've got a new year. Its name is 2009.

It seems like I did a lot of stuff this year. At the same time, it would be nice to be a little more stable. I don't mean 9-to-5 and PTA-wise, but maybe income-wise.

So, let's see:

1)This year I went to:

KW
CA
UK
IT
DE
BE
CH
NYC
PE
NL
And Ottawa, which I can't think of an abbreviation for.

2) I'm adding this in later, because I still surprise myself by forgetting: I had eye surgery this year, and lasers vaporized some of my corrupt flesh to alow me to see the light... Something about a plank... I dunno - this is all too Biblical. It's still shocking that I take it for granted, or forget.

3)Having never been crapped on by a bird, I was hit twice this year, and on two separate continents, which I consider excessive. Once was on the dirty corner of Lansdowne and College in Toronto, and the other was in the dirty Liecester Square in London. And each time, the poop hit my hair, not my shoulder or my shoe. Nice.

WTF, birds? I thought we were friends.

4)In June, I happily quit my job (or, as my EI application would state, "I didn't renew my contract"). While I am still wallowing in unemployment, I don't for a second regret leaving the terrible administration at that crooked and self-important school. Everyone (students, teachers, parents) got a raw deal except for the owner of the school.

My claim with the Ontario labour board for unpaid wages is being processed.

5)I finally finished my GD screenplay, which I started in the last year of my Master's, so, in 2005.

Now that it's done, though, I have no clue what to do with it. I watch the cursor mockingly blink at me after the words "THE END."

6)I took a course in commercial and documentary voicework and enjoyed it very much. In the new year, I'm hoping to volunteer for Voiceprint, and I'm going to put together a demo reel so I can try to get an agent and hopefully get some auditions for radio and TV ads.

I'm not interested in or comfortable with all the self-promotion and networking that I'm probably going to have to do. Bah. For some reason, I'm excited about auditions, though.

7)One of the things I was most proud of this year was the little urban garden we had at our old house.
(not an actual photo... idiots)
I'm looking forward to putting in a more ambitious garden this year. Now that we have more room, I'm planning to plant space-sucking zucchini, pumpkins, and summer squash along with beets, carrots, peas, beans, and two types of tomatoes.

I'm collecting jars and I'm going to read about preserving vegetables. Did you know that it takes about 30 litres of water to get one litre of frozen vegetables to your freezer? I'm not comfortable with that, so I'm going to try to offset some bought veg with beauties from my backyard.

8)I had terrible luck with flights this year. I know that's a little near-sighted after all the trouble folks have had this holiday, but still, I spent 16 hours waiting for a trans-Atlantic flight in June, missed altogether a flight to Dublin, and was stranded (at a friend's flat) in Switzerland after an unceremonious cancellation.

(Don't worry. I have some perspective. I know it was lucky I was able to travel at all, but in the context of travelling memories, all the flight BS tainted my reckoning of this vacation.)

9)To change the subject, I fell in love with my ukulele. Duke and I have spent many happy hours together since June. I've lost feeling in the fingertips of my left hand, an unhappy side-effect of my uke callouses. Still, the other side-effect is joy in my many unoccupied hours. Exhibit a: the maniacal grin in photo, right.

I've chastised myself a few times, thinking that I should have been doing something better with my "free time," but I was reminded that I did teach myself how to play a new instrument, and that's not nuthin'. Plus, I can accompany myself singing and heartily irritate my housemates.

My uke heroine, Julia Nunes:


10)Seriously, this year, I have got to lose some weight. I'm starting to get concerned about my heart and my pancreas. I have to eat more veg and less sugar. I have to move more. That's it, really: eat less crap, move more. That's my 2009 mantra.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jiggedy Jog, 2008 Christmas Edition.

I think I have to start being more specific when I write "Jiggedy Jog" to signify my return home.

My Dad's mum lived with us for many winters, and, later, a couple of full years before whe went into the home, and every time we returned to the house Grammy Sweet would say, "Home again, home again, jiggedy jog."

Now, though, even though it's been many years since she left our house and a couple of year since she died, it's hard to drive into that garage without thinking of that little verse.

Anyhow, I am now back on Prince Edward Island and the weather outside is frightful.

"They" were calling for a storm last night, starting at midnight, 20-30cm of snow. I was at a par-tay, and lost track of time, but when I looked outside and saw a hairy storm a-blowin', I bolted out of there, uke in hand. I drove a couple of kids home, and what should have been a 10 minute drive turned into a half hour at 30 km/h in second gear.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sorta Working.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been volunteering at a little company that installs renewable energy systems in homes and businesses. It's run by two men who design and hire people to install the technology. I got in touch with them a while ago, asking if they needed any admin work. It turns out they did, but they weren't sure if they could afford to commit to hiring someone.

So, as a show of good faith, I asked them to let me come in on a "work experience term" (read: volunteer) to learn how the place works and show them, hopefully, how indespensible I am so they'll hire me in the new year, if only part time.

I like it there a lot. They talk a lot about profit margins and returns on investments, but they tell me that telling potential clients about environmental benefits isn't worth it because people really are more interested in saving (or making) money than the planet. Fine by me, as long as they're thinking about saving energy.

Anyhow, I'm mostly doing data entry, but the spreadsheets I'm working on are tracking clients' energy use and costs. Soon, I might even have a handle on what a Kwh means in a practical sense. Does it power a lightbulb or a fridge? I dunno.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Why "Top Gear" Is A Great Show.

Top Gear is the kind of show that would never fly on North American television. It's too long, too niche, and too crude.

It is, however, possibly the most beautiful show I've ever seen. The production value is off the charts. This is what the BBC reaps from each and every TV owner in the UK paying a licence to own their set. (The fee goes toward programming and cuts down on the need for ads, which makes for just one commercial break in each show. The break, it is said, is the exect amount of time it takes to boil the kettle and make a cuppa.)

Maybe that's why it's not being made in North America. We can't afford to make it look that good. Or can't be bothered...

It's ostensibly a car show. Or a vehicle show, I guess, but for me, the love is all about the hosts*. I would like to hear how it came to be that these three men are hosting this show.


The main host, I suppose, is Jeremy Clarkson. He's a giant who likes cars. Powerful cars. Sexy cars. He holds romantic notions about what cars should be and how they should sound. He is fond of superlatives. He likes cars with character and history, and he mercilessly makes fun of cars he doesn't like. He also likes to make fun of his two co-hosts.


Pound for pound, Richard Hammond is the sexiest man I know. (I can't believe he wasn't in The Two Towers. He would have made it to Mordor in 3 days.) He's all about speed. He likes to drive race cars which have about one inch of clearance off the ground. Often, he is paired up to race a car on a bicycle or a dog sled. Needless to say, he's the fit one. He almost died a couple of years ago in a horrific crash involving a car called the Vampire Dragster. (I don't think I could ever get in a car which is so ominously titled.) He survived, but lives with the aftermath of serious brain injury. Watch it here at 48 minutes in.

James May seems to be the voice of reason. The other two hosts tease him and call him "Captain Slow" because he'd rather admire the aesthetics of a vehicle than break the sound barrier with it. He has been quoted as saying, "I like luxury. It's the new performance." He brought foie gras to the North Pole, but also told Jeremy that if he ate the Spam (that he was saving for his victory meal), he'd "return home to his wife and children with a hatchet buried in [his] head." That's what I like: a refined badass.





The chemistry that these three men have is unparalleled. There is an obvious affection amongst them, one that must come from years of enduring challenges together. I don't mean like a rough economy or a dying pet, but challenges that the show's producers have them do.

For example, the Polar Special saw them racing to the North Pole. No kidding.
They flew to Resolute, N.W.T., and James and Jeremy set off in a tricked-out car (Toyota Hilux) while Richard raced them on a dogsled. They were the first pair to drive to the North Pole, and, as Jeremy had to point out, James was probably the first to make it to the Pole who didn't want to be there. Watch here.

They also went to the deep south in America and were, no joke, almost killed by a gang of rednecks.

Other challenges were more local but not less interesting. They had to convert cars into boats, which was interesting on its own, but then they had to drive to France! They had to race across London using car, bike, boat, and public transit, and they had to drive giant cargo trucks through a series of challenges.

Between challenges, the hosts discuss new cars, test speed on a closed track, test features and foibles, use a unique character called The Stig as a control driver, and put celebrities in reasonably-priced cars and get them to drive fast. Michael Gambon nearly flipped the car and had a corner named after him.

I like cars, but am not a connesseur. Their titles have too many single letters and digits and combinations thereof for me to keep them straight. Really, the only car I really know is a Mini. The Coopers, the Cooper Ss, yeah, I know those.

But, if you want to indulge in a little high-brow gear-headedness, Top Gear is for you. You'll be surprised by how entertaining it is.

*And a little for the cars.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Keele and Museum.

I love Keele Station.

The subway platform is beautiful because it is austere. It's got a broad, white, gently arched ceiling that covers the Eastbound platform, two directions of tracks, and the Westbound platform.

Unlike so many other TTC stations, one must climb to reach the subway trains. Because there is fresh air at the end of the bright canal of Keele, there is hope on the outside. It reminds me of proper train stations in London, only without ornate Victorian curlicues and a generous smattering of clocks and yobbos.

Most of the TTC subway stations are, as one would expect, underground, with sickly-coloured grimy tiles and whiffs of dirt and exhaust.

One underground station that distracts the nose by distracting the eye is Museum, with a newly-unveiled interior in keeping with the collection that rests aboveground and which gives the stop its name, the Royal Ontario Museum. The usually utilitarian columns are, here, at Museum stop, larger-than-lifesize replicas of totems of the West Coast Canadian aboriginals, Egyptian homages to gods and monarchs, and Aztec pillars featuring canlendrical references.

Its walls are orangey. Not a gross orange to rival St. Patrick's hospital-ward-green but a subtle orange and buff colour which boldly holds, in standard TTC font (v. sans serif) the huge, three-foot-high title of the station. In the recessed name are hyrogliphics, which makes me want to go to the museum institution of learning above to learn what it says.

My guess is, "stand right, walk left."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Gobsmacked.

Thanks to T for this.



I've watched it probably 10 times already.

And then this, which I will post in a link because I'm embarrassed by how much I like it.

5 more days of murdering chickens.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finger Lickin' Good.

Gack.

Ok, so I signed up with a temp agency. Last week I was like a switchboard wench at Nelvana, which I'm pretty sure is the animation studio behind the genius of the Care Bears. It was ok.

Now, I've got eight days at... um... A chicken murdering plant. It's a poultry plant, and as I walk to work in the office, I have to walk by trucks of very alive chickens drawing their last breaths. Outside the plant, the smell is straight-up narsty. It's like a small butcher that's too busy to clean up chum. I can't believe there are homes downwind. I'm barf myself to sleep every night.

The office doesn't smell at all. Amongst other things, I have to make sure the supervisors get messages from floor workers if they called in to say they wouldn't be coming to work, then there's data entry to say how long the machines were shut down each day. The records go back to August, and they're slowly being entered. I mean, since there's nothing else to do, I have to make that data entry stretch over the next week, so I'm slowly entering it.

Oh, how I dream of a job where I'm challenged and learning things (other than how to transfer calls) and feel like I'm helping, but not complicit in the murder of birds.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still Kickin'.

Sorry for the radio silence.

Some fun things: I went to Ottawa last weekend to see my fam. Ottawa smells so good. I don't notice how sour and dusty Toronto is until I stand in another city and compare. It didn't hurt that there were a lot of leaves down, and I love the smell of decomposing leaves. It makes me want to prepare for the winter.

I missed commenting on my 4th Bloggiversary. It was November 1st. Of anything, this just illustrates that I've got to post more frequently, since that was almost two weeks ago!

Also, I've started a voice class. It's a class in radio and television commercial voice-overs, and television and documentary narration. I'm loving it, so far, and I'm two classes in. It's great, because we're getting experience in a real recording studio, listening to ourselves in headphones and behind a powerful microphone. Hopefully, I'll be able to put together a demo "tape" and maybe work in this field. I've gotten some great feedback from the instructors and the other students.

Some work would be nice; it's still a no-go. I signed up with a temp agency last week, but I'm nervous about what I might have to do. It sounds like a great place, actually, and I won't be screwed out of pay or have to do anything I don't want to.

Today, I'm pecking away at my screenplay. Did people know I was writing one? Yeah, I have been. For effing years. I hit a wall when it came to the final conflict, but I think today I had a breakthrough and now I'm denouementing. I just don't know how the aliens and the evengelical preachers are going to live together, you know?

Kidding.

My 30th birthday is coming up, and all I find myself wanting to do to celebrate is to go away. I just looked at flights to Rio, and they were surprisingly inexpensive. I have a friend there who can house me, probably, and I promise, I won't go to any favelas.

Well, let's face it: I won't go to Rio at all. I have no job, and my father would probably freak out and make me wear a mosquito net 24 hours a day so I wouldn't get Dengue Fever. Dad's just looking out for me, and since he works in health, he sees all the weird ailments people bring home from vacation. No wonder he liked Nunuvut so much - there's a very low incidence of malaria!

Ah, well. I'll just get Brazil out of my system the same way I have for years: I'll listen to some Astrud Gilberto and imagine myself as the Girl from Ipanema.

Tall, and pasty, and 30, and lovely, the Girl from Stratford goes walking. But not for too long, because she's got heel spurs, and she gets those weird blisters on her toes...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vampire Day Nears...

Canadian Blood Services has put out a call for blood.

Apparently the reserves are dwindling so low, surgeries are going to have to be postponed.

I know I like to talk about donating blood, and it's even been recently that I've donated, so I don't want to appear to rant about this.

If you feel you can't donate, or know you can't donate, ask your friends if they can. If they need support, go with them.

CBS estimates that half of Canadians are eligable to donate blood, but less than 2 per cent do.

I'm not eligable to donate until the 25th of November, but then, I'm going to start donating platelets, which will allow me to donate more often. I'm nervous about the process, but glad I'll be able to increase my donations fourfold!



Note: Phlebologists are generally much better looking than this dude.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

So I'm A Little Farther East...

Baby steps home to PEI!

In an epic 6-round-trip night, my housemates and I moved everything out of our sick, dark, moldy, douchy landlord house into our new house, clear across town.

We're so glad to have left. Me, especially, since when we moved my giant wardrobe, we found that the wall and the back panel of the wardrobe was moldy. I had mold in my room for who-knows-how-long and I didn't even know! The panel is now out back, and I have to go to a hardware store today to buy new bracings of some sort.

I'm a handigirl! I like fixing stuff and putting things together. I like hammering and wrenching and gluing and clamping.

Anyhow, I like the brightness of the new house. The cat doesn't know what to do with himself - there are too many windows to sit in! I feel like we've come up from a basement apartment, but really, our old house was just so dark, we barely saw the light of day.

As we moved in, we met two of our new neighbours, which is amazing to us. We never spoke to the old Portugese lady who lived next door at the old place, and the only other neighbours we spoke to yelled at us about our garbage. Too bad the wall we're attached to the other house by is paper-thin, so if we can hear her incessant piano scales and arpeggios, surely she can hear our screeches of laughter. We also met our backyard neighbour and his foot-high-mohawked son, who was quiet and polite.

We've all commented that it feels more like home (the Maritimes) here, but we feel more connected to the city, too. We can see the streetcars from our step, and we're only a short walk to the coveted Beaches neighbourhood of Toronto. everyone keeps pooping their pants over that area - I'll have to go explore it.

Anyhow, our very handsome and congenial landlord is coming over tomorrow to look at our wonky windows and inactive dishwasher, so I should go give myself a facial and tidy up a little more. We're still all boxed in, but things are slowing finding their own places.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pushing Daisies.

Ned was in a priest outfit last night.























Well, prow-meow, Monseigneur. Mercy!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The "Cute, Cute, Dealbreaker Paradigm."

The "Cute, Cute, Dealbreaker Paradigm" is a naturally occurring phenomenon that I have named. I'm sure others experience a similar phemonenon, but none have named it quite so sillily. That's right. Sillily.

The CCDP sneaks up on me, and before I know it, I'm smirking like an idiot. Unfortunately, this usually happens in public, as is its wont.

Let me explain. The CCDP occurs when one is taking notice of an attractive potential partner and creating a mental inventory of particular features that one notices.

In my case, I enjoy rubbernecking at handsome young men. I might notice skillful use of just-enough-but-not-too-much hair product, or an attractive piece of clothing, or a nice smile. As I notice these elements, I inventory them in my mind, like a checklist, by silently reciting, "cute."

I find, though, that as the eyes wander, usually there comes a "dealbreaker," if you will. When this dealbreaker is noticed, I follow up my "cute" recitation by naming what that dealbreaker is.

Here, for example, is what I hear in my head when the CCDP occurs:

"Cute, cute, stretched earlobe."

"Cute, cute, smoking."

"Cute, cute, rattail."

"Cute, cute, neck tattoo."

"Cute, cute, touched his balls."

And so on.

Then, I find the dealbreaker so funny, I laugh or at least smile in public. That makes me look like a lunatic. Maybe that's my dealbreaker.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fixed Election Dates Are BS.

Stephen Harper wants fixed election dates. Actually, he wanted fixed election dates, and then he got what he wanted.

Bill C-16 was passed in November 2006, saying that starting October 19th, 2009, we will have elections every four years on the third Monday in October.

This is another example of Harper's Conservative party looking enviously to the south and trying to put distance between the British Westminster-style of Parliament. Monkey-see, monkey-do.

Here's what fixed election dates get us: very long campaign periods.

What do very long campaign periods get us? Only the very rich parties and candidates able to afford to run.

What will these very rich "representatives of the people" spend their money on? Banners and attack ads and yes men and cover-ups and all the trappings of American elections that span months and years.

So, Harper calling this upcoming election is very prudent of him. He knows Bill C-16 is going to be implimented next autumn, and then he's in for an extended period of time and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Well, maybe this could all backfire for him and a party with some sense might take power and overturn the fixed election bill.

As it is now, and will be for another year, elections are called when the GG dissolves Parliament and the campaign period is a tidy >36 days.

If you can't say what you have to say in 36 days, what's the point of listening?

In modern Canada, one government's Parliament rarely lasts the four-year accepted limit of time. (This is another discussion altogether.) Yes, this does cost us a lot of money since it costs boatloads to run an election in such a huge country. This will probably be the first thing a supporter of Bill C-16 brings up as ammo, but I still get the feeling that it's the lesser of two evils.

Perhaps I'm just happy with the same. Perhaps a change is as good as the rest. I've never been one to be comfortable with the status quo, but all these steps we're taking that edges us closer and closer to our Southern neighbours makes me nervous.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Anniversary, CBS!

I donated blood today. As some of my long-time readers know, donating blood is the first pillar of the Church of Catherine ["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."]

If you're thinking about donating, but are nervous for whatever reason, I'm going to describe the process for you in hopes of demystifying it.

Some history: It's been ten years that the Canadian Blood Services opened its doors to the donating public. It was created after the Red Cross tainted blood disaster of the 1990s.

When you go to donate blood, they first prick your finger to do a simple test to see if your hemoglobin count is high enough. (That means you've got enough iron floating around in your red blood cells.) If your hemoglobin is low, you could get faint after donating, so it's for your own good to check.

If your hemoglobin is low, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not healthy, but a nurse will talk to you about your diet and give you some tips to boost your iron intake. You also have to wait another 56 days to donate.

A donation can be made every 56 days because that's how long it takes for the body to regenerate all the goodness you donate. A donation is about 500 ml, or 2 cups of blood. The average-sized person has about 5 litres of blood, so it's a drop in the chum bucket.

If your hemoglobin is good, you'll be given a questionnaire to fill out in confidence. It'll ask you about any drugs you're on, your travel history, if you've had a cold or come in contact with anyone else's blood, and some family-related questions. There's even a question concerning your history of working with monkeys.

Once you're done with that, you go into a private room with a nurse, who will take your temperature, your blood pressure (squeezy squeezy!), and check that you don't have lesions on your arms. He or she will review your answers from the questionnaire, and then ask you some more questions that have to be done in person. It's all very medical and confidential, and it's important to be honest. They'll be questions about sexual history, and any history of drug use.

After that's done, the nurse will give you two stickers with bar codes on them. After he or she leaves you alone, you choose between the one that stands for "Yes, use my blood," or "No, do not use my blood." This is for those who feel socially pressured to donate or didn't feel comfortable telling the nurse the truth, but know that something about their health or history would exclude them from donating, according to the rules.

The blood is scanned anyway, for tons of viruses and diseases. If something turns up, a health official contacts you and the blood is destroyed.

If all is good to this point, you get to go donate! The first time is pretty nerve-wracking. but tell the nurse it's your first time and they'll tell you what's going to happen. Or I can!

(I keep writing nurse, but they're usually phlebologists, or blood and vein specialists.)

You sit in a reclining chair and tell the nurse which arm you'd like to donate out of. Usually, this is your non-dominant hand's arm, but I've found that my dominant hand's arm has better flow. This is something that you can learn as you go.

The nurse will locate the vein, then clean your arm with alcohol, and then with iodine. When that dries, he or she will tap you!

Yes, this hurts a bit. Sometimes it hurts more than others. I just try to think that it hurts a hell of a lot less than having third-degree burns, or having chemo, or the fear involved with major surgery. That thought usually humbles me enough to stop whining.

I never watch the whole proceeding. I think it might make my stomach turn, so I don't. Some people like to watch every move the nurse makes. The needle is pretty big - 17 or 18 gauge, which is a little bigger than when you have blood drawn for tests, but that's just because they're drawing more blood and want to get it over quicker. Now, I say this needle is pretty big, but it's not a cartoonishly-large Jerry Lewis-style needle. It's normal, honest.

Once the nurse finds your vein, the blood should begin to flow. First, there's a little sac that they use for the testing, and then when that's full, they open the flow into the big bag, which rests on the floor (holla gravity!) in a handy gadget that rocks the bag back and forth. It looks like a little blood bag cradle. The blood bag has an agent in it that prevents the blood from clotting.

The nurse will probably give you a ball to squeeze. Squeezing with your fingers into the heel of your thumb helps move the muscles that allow the blood to move faster. You shouldn't reposition your arm, so sometimes it gets achy. Squeezing the ball helps it to not get too achy.

It usually takes between 5-10 minutes for a donation.

Afterwards, the nurse will have you put pressure on the site, and then put on a bandage. Then, you'll go get your juice and cookies! The volunteers vary in enthusiasm. Some are chatty and helpful, and some are surly enough to make you think the time is court-ordered. I once had two Mormon missionaries as my volunteers! Basically, they're there to make sure you get a little sugar and fluid in you before you go, and you don't feel faint.

Envirogeek's heads-up: they usually give out something to drink in styrofoam cups, so if you think of it ahead of time, pack a mug or some other re-usable cup.

If you can give, and need a donating buddy, I'll go with you. I'll donate with you! I'll just sit next to you and distract you, if you're still freaked out.

A touch of controversy: CBS denies the ability to donate to those who have had sex with a gay man, ostensibly, but not in so many words, banning gays from donating. Since there are so many scans run on the blood, including those of HIV and AIDS, I would think that would cover any concerns. While I don't totally understand the outright ban, I think it would be rash to withhold my donation while I do fit into the range of donors CBS looks for. It would be punishing recipients instead of CBS.

Blood donation etiquette tip: never pressure someone to donate or make them feel bad if they don't. The reasons they don't donate could be very personal or painful. You might notice the careful wording of my the first pillar of the Church of Catherine. Don't ask someone why they don't donate. It's kinda like asking someone why they don't have any children: way too personal and maybe none of your business.

Do you know what your blood type is? I have B positive blood, like only about 9% of Canadians. It means other Bs and also ABs can take my donation. Check here on the CBS website to see what the stats on your type are.

Canadian Blood Services needs 85,000 new donors each year to keep up with demand. Your hour of time and 2 cups of blood can save a life. It can save several lives, actually, since preemie babies only need blood by the spoonful to keep healthy.

Think seriously about this.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two Hours Traffic.

Isn't it funny that in today's Canadian Indie scene, a four-piece rock-pop band seems positively spartan? Where's the thirteenth member? Where's the banjo/euphonium/theremin/cello?


That's one of the refreshing things about Charlottetown's Two Hours Traffic. The density of quality is bound up in four dudes with four instruments (five instruments, if you count a little synth thing, which I guess I do). That's a lot of quality per head.

The funny thing about the night at Lee's Palace, a dingy but dripping-with-cred venue in The Annex, was the insanely high chance of running into someone from Prince Edward Island. It guess it's like when Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers plays in Alberta: all the Newfoundlanders come out of the word-work. Well, this night was like a UPEI alumni reunion. I literally bumped into a guy that was on the UPEI Student Union with me.

I've been to the Palace before, to see Rock Plaza Central and Snow Patrol, but this time I got to see the backstage area. Whoo.

I was lucky enough to get in free because my classmate Mel from last summer had me put on "the list." Then, when I called to ask if she was already in, she said they were backstage with the band and then told me to walk right back in. I was expecting to be tackled at the knees, but it was surprisingly easy to get backstage at Lee's Palace. I just walked in as if I was meant to be there. It was not a gilded room, either, but more a nether-chamber with narsty chouches, stacking chairs, and decades of off-colour grafitti. The band was sitting and chilling.

I chatted with Mel, who I hadn't seen in a long time, and heard about her new job as a designer for a great green building company. I met her man, Trevor, for the first time. They have a B&B and often host indie bands for jam weekends et al. (That's how they know THT.) The drummer asked me where I was from after Mel introduced me as a P.E.Islander, and, like a dick, I didn't ask him what his hometown was. I think I felt out of place and I was afraid I was encroaching on their prep time for the show.

I mostly recognised their music from the R3-30, the CBC Radio podcast that I love. They were great live, and the bass player, especially, was musically impressing me. The speakers were way too loud for my liking, so I couldn't hear everything as well as I'd liked to have done. I knew "Backseat Sweetheart," "Stuck For the Summer," "Jezebel," Heroes of the Sidewalk," and "Better Sorry Than Safe." To bolster my THT knowledge, I bought their latest critically-acclaimed album, Little Jabs.


Tonight, this home-grown band is on the shortlist to win the three-year-old Polaris Prize. The Polaris Prize is awarded to Canadian Indie bands based not on record sales or radio hits, but instead juried by people who have no monetary connection to the music industry. (I see Doug Gallant, Charlottetown music savant, was on the jury. Cool.)

The prize is $20,000, which could help keep any Indie band touring, since the "Progressive" Conservatives cancelled the fund that helps bands like Two Hours Traffic pick up the tabs for travelling, like $41.50 to use the Confederation Bridge.


Also, you'll notice there's a new linque du jour. Alison Fleming worked at the high school with me last year. Her paintings are vivid and urban. She's especially drawn to streetscapes and lonely storefronts. If you're thinking of investing in some unique and fetching art, consider getting in touch with her.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Now You Can All Dine Like Damn Hell Ass Kings.

I want to share with you all one of my favourite meals.

It is called... wait for it...

Rice, Bean & Corn

Oh, Rice, Bean & Corn, I love you.

This is the tastiest, easiest, and cheapest meal you will ever prepare.

Here you go:

Prepare 1 cup of instant rice
mix in one can of rinced black beans,
one can of drained corn niblets,
and one package of taco seasoning (regular or salt reduced is fine)

Um. That's it.

You can get no-name rice. You can get no-name black beans. You SHOULD get good corn and taco mix, i.e. Green Giant and Old El Paso.

So:

<$1.49 for the mix
c.$.70 for the beans
c.$1.50 for the corn
<$.50 for the rice.

For about 4 bucks, you can have 4-6 servings of deliciousness.

It is so delicious, in fact, that my housemate B once ate an entire batch of it after he came home drunk. How he didn't have an assplosion, I will never know.

You can wrap it in a tortilla with some cheddar. You can add some salsa or salsa con queso for kick. You can add a pack of browned ground round (soy meat) to stretch it. You can put more rice in to stretch it, too. I've never tried real meat in it, but it would probably be pretty tasty (RBC con carne). It would probably be great with some cilantro, too, but I've not yet tried that.

Chez nous, our favourite thing to do is to wrap it in a tortilla and brown it on the panini press. (If you have an old George Foreman, it'll do the trick, too.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bravo.

I say bravo for Canadian Tire for choosing to feature the noble ukulele in its most recent series of ads. Nice.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Job Hunt; The House Hunt.

My housemates and I were heartbroken this week after we saw the perfect house at the perfect price in the perfect neighbourhood, only to find out that a single family were chosen over us by the owners.

We are now, no joke, burning candles hoping something falls through with that family and they ask us to take the place. I don't know who/what those flames are exhorting, but it's worth a try.

My housemates and I are a little cheesed off at the poor financial planning of this usurping family. They shouldn't be signing up to rent a house! They should buy a house, pay the mortgage, and at least have some collateral. It's the family thing to do!

Renting is for sad singles, with the folly of disposable income.

Die Zweistens Jagd: Arbeit!

The job hunt is not great. I guess it is, but it's just slow-developing.

I know that this is a transitional time in my life, and I'm going to look back at it as very brief, but since I'm stuck in the middle of it right now, it's hard not to panic.

Should I apply for that job stocking shelves? Should I apply for that retail job?

Probably, but I'm not gonna.

I'm going to talk to Mel about her temp place and see what might come of that. Maybe they'll be happy to see someone with my weird and wonderful background.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Developed At The Film Festival.

I like the Toronto International Film Festival. There's a buzz around town. Some of it are the delirious looky-loos who hunt opportunities to scream at famous people, but I like the communitas of being in a crowd; the feeling of being part of something bigger than one's self.

Also, I love seeing films, and this all springs from the fact that I love to be told a good story.

I even don't mind paying almost twice what I'd pay for a movie in a regular cinema. Of course, for the gala screening, when the director, screenwriter, actors, producers, etc., are there, it costs even more. Sometimes there are Q&As with the creative team.

This year, I saw three films. I saw Ghost Town, Fifty Dead Men Walking, and The Brothers Bloom. I'll discuss them in the order I saw them.

The showing for Ghost Town was a gala, and it was showing at the Elgin, which is the theatre where I saw Avenue Q about two weeks previous. It's cool to see a movie in a proper theatre.

The seating is not assigned at TIFF, so people line up for hours to get first pick of seats. I think this is slightly silly since they guarantee seats until a certain time (at which point they release the seats for rush ticketing), and there are so many good seats saved for industry mucky-mucks, it doesn't make much of a difference.

I went with my housemates to this first showing. It was a little late opening, because the "talent" were late arriving. That was the director and co-writer, the editor, Kristin Wiig, Greg Kinnear, and Ricky Gervais. The director gave a little speech to kick it all off, and then the movie started... with a Beatles song.

(This is a little side subject: it's weird for me to hear original Beatles music in ads and films again. Have the rights been relaxed? Didn't Michael Jackson own a lot of the rights?)

Ghost Town was delightful. It was a good, clean romantic comedy. Gervais impressed me. I know the trailer makes it look like he's just reprising his character from Extras, but he's not. His character is almost agoraphobic. He's anti-social to say the least, but is burdened with helping out a dead dude.

I just thought it was all over a solid, non-saccharine, atypical rom-com. (No zom.) It's out soon and I'd recommend seeing it. The main character was a hero for reasons we don't usually see in a rom-com.



Then, Marianne and I went to the gala of Fifty Dead Men Walking. I can't find a trailer for this one.

This was kinda controversial movie because it is based on a book co-written by an exiled IRA member from the '80s, Martin McGartland, and he wasn't giving his blessing because he said the screen adaption took too many liberties with the truth.

I thought the movie was very good at capturing the fear and panic in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. The streets turned into war zones, and guerrilla tactics were used by neighbours and members of the IRA. Also, the country was occupied by the British Army, ostensibly to keep the peace.

The story was good, but I'm afraid I missed a lot of the dialogue for two reasons. One, although I consider myself to have a great ear for accents, I find it difficult to parse the brogue of Northern Ireland. Also, the dialogue was often overpowered by the score.

Perhaps, since this movie is not meant to be released for another month or so (and that's in the UK), they'll be able to re-edit the audio or do some post cleanup.

Overall, though, I liked Fifty Dead Men. It was moving and brutal. I spent a wakeful night thinking about what it would be like to live in a warzone in the western world. I think I'll wait to give a full-out go see this! to hear if they do any more editing. Keep your ears to the ground.

Oh, and on the gah-lah side of things, Jim Sturgess was there, and he's as flipping adorable in real life as he was in Across the Universe and 21. Good news: he shaved off that wretched mustache. To top that, though, Ben Kingsley was there. I was transfixed, thinking about Ghandi and how much I loved that film. The director was there, too, and I think she's Canadian. She's been going through a lot of BS just to get this film to the screen, with all the legal problems with the author.

Finally, I saw a noon showing of The Brothers Bloom on the Thursday the 11th. I think I saved the best for last.


This film, directed by the same guy who did one of the best films you never saw, Brick, is close of the heels of Wes Anderson for stylized fare. The wardrobe design was especially great. The set dressing was nowhere as OCD as Anderson's, but the characterisation was spot-on.

The story is a pair of brothers who were grifters from boyhood. Stephen (Mark Ruffalo) enjoys preparing overly intricate heists, and Bloom is his younger-brother accomplice (Adrien Brody). Bloom has tired of the lies and yearns to make a "real" story of his life. Stephen lures him back for "one more job" on a wealthy heiress, Penelope (Rachel Weisz). As a mark, she's a little tricky and over-enthusiastic.

Sometimes, the convolutions of Stephen's heist narrative got confused with what was happening in the "un-scripted" storyline and I got a little muddled, but I think when (note: not if) I see it again, it'll be cleared up.

After watching The Brothers Bloom I think I'm going to add Adrien Brody to my Husband List. Yes, this is despite him showing up to the TIFF looking like the Unabomber.

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Lull In The Lull.

Monday mornings are the worst time to be job hunting on-line. Everyone's just started their work week and they haven't gotten around to posting ads yet. It's best to look at the end of the day, but I like looking first thing; it makes me feel more productive.

Maybe I should start having an offset weekend, where I don't bother looking on Sundays and Mondays, so then all of the previous days' postings will be up.

Ah, who are we kidding. I feel like I'm already on some sort of extended weekend.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Earth's Bounty, or, Lazy Fare.


Summer is the time for we Canadians to stuff our faces with all the fresh produce that isn't available to us for the other 9 months of the year. That's a lot of eating of a lot of fresh yum to cram into a quarter of the year, but we manage, we martyrs. (Click on any pics in the post to get an enlargement.)


















I was so thrilled on the East Coast to eat fresh fish, berries and mushrooms.


















Here in Toronto, I put in a little garden in the spring. It cost me less than $20, with the soil, seeds and plants. I put cherry tomatoes, basil, green beans, and sweet peas in a tiny patch of soil (probably 2' by 5'). I staked the tomatoes, dutifully to my green bent, with twigs I found next door.



Then I went to Europe for a month. When I got back, I found a feral thatch of green with tiny, hard, marble-sized tomatoes and bean-looking weeds mixed in with my bean-looking beans. (Just the vines at that point; no blossoms or pods.)

Then I went to the East Coast for that month. I got an email from L which I will quote:

holy eff...i'm shatting myself. i just picked almost 2 dozen ripe tomatoes off the plants!!!! and there are probably the same amount more that are almost there but just a little too orange to pick yet and then like tons more that are green and will ripen soon. come home soon so we can eat
tomatoes all afternoon till we pee orange!!!!!













Isn't she a doll? The answer is yes.

Now that we're taking about a dozen cherry tomatoes off the plants every day, we are enjoying quotidian tomato and mozzarella salads (thanks to Anna and Nico in Toulouse for that idea).

My big goal for my "settling down" plan is to have a pad where I can put in a good garden, just like my grandmother had.


Grammy Sweet had a huge field out back of the Sweet farmhouse where the apple orchard stood. She grew squash, pumpkins and zucchini, peas and beans, gladiolas and lettuce, and radishes, parsnips and carrots. Her carrots were the best I've ever tasted. Those little roots were sucking up all the goodness of the Annapolis Valley's earth, and then she put those carrots on her woodstove and cooked them till they were little more than carrot-shaped puree. (That's still the way my father prefers his vegetables.) BUT: if you could be in the garden when she pulled the carrots, you would wipe them on your jeans and eat them al fresco.

I want to learn how to pickle and do preserves and blanch veggies for the winter. I want to have a root cellar. I want colourful mason jars on shelves.

My little urban garden this summer makes me think that this goal might be doable, but I know I can't leave it for two months to run wild. It'll take some tending. I also have to learn about tomato pruning and so on.

I also have to bring L with me. She's not afraid to dive Despatie-style into the thatch, where I'm afraid of creepy-crawlies.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Update!

Hurrah!

It has been confirmed to me that the subject of Monday's post is, indeed, not interested in making babies with me (or any of my sisters), unless it were in some sort of surrogate fashion.

One of my aforementioned gay boyfriends has seen him out at clubs.



BUT: after discussing my quandry [could I put a gay man on my husband list, or is it disrespectful], my gay bf du jour assures me that it's kosher because my list is a fantasy list with men who have qualities that I someday hope to find in a partner. It's fairly clear that I don't actually plan to marry these men, as if Ryan Reynolds would whisk me away if I met him.

Also, a good lesbian friend told me that her wife list is made up of a lot of straight women, and we can't control the orientation of those we have crushes on.

After sorting out this whole dilemma, I know for sure: I don't know any straight people.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hands Up: Who's The Creepy Stalker?

Anyone who really knows me knows the answer to that one.

Last night, I was blithely riding the College streetcar when Ryan Ward, who played Ash in Evil Dead, the Musical, got on at Spadina.

I quickly took off my ipod, in case he wanted to talk to me and date me forever, etc., and I creepy-like watched what stop he got off at.

Today, in my unemployed state, I decided to take a walk to that area to see if I could spot him again.

Not creepy.

No.

Anyhow, oddly, I ran into another man I didn't expect to: Jeremy, my old roommate! Holy cow! I hadn't seen him in quite some time (like years and months), and we had a quick catch-up. Like old times, said we, as we nursed our violently fived hands. (We had a once-in-a-lifetime high-five chemistry.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Like I Need Another Gay Boyfriend...

This last weekend, I started a whirlwind summer fling.

Now, before your toes start curling, I'm pretty sure my new flame is a flamer, so don't get too excited.

I started watching "The After Show" on MTV Canada.

The "After" part refers to the fact that it follows the show "The Hills," which, as far as I can tell, is a terrible, terrible, show. It's about bikini-clad, forever made-up, Hollywood Hills 20-somethings who discuss the states of their friendships and who's feuding with whom. It is also the kind of show that can easily suck in the unwary, so I have vowed to never watch it.

Happily, "The After Show" only minimally discusses "The Hills" in each show, and then moves on to other pop culture fare. I had sworn off most pop culture as saccharine BS, but the two hosts of "The After Show" are so charming, funny, and honest, it's difficult not to be entertained.

For a long time, I regarded the new-to-the-Canadian-scene MTV with scorn, since its long-established American counterpart is less music and more trash TV. Also, out of loyalty to Much Music, I didn't give much thought to MTV. Now, however, since Much has slipped at an alarming pace into endless reruns of cheap pseudo-celebrity "reality" drivel programming like "Girlicious," and their VJs make me want to pull out my hair, my loyalty is shot.

"The After Show" has caught my attention, and, with it, a new potential member of the Husband List? My problem is, never before have I included a husband on my illustrious list that is so camp. No - he's not camp. He's playful but understated; informed and not boorish. I'm talking about Dan Levy.


Dan is the bespectacled young man whose soft-spoken wit and hipster-geek styling has caught my attention. But: I think I'm slightly broken. Two of my closest friends are gay, and that may be prejudicing me. My gaydar is not good, but there are too many clues to make me think my Dear Dan is gay.

Since my gaydar is so bad and I've been surprised so many times, I think I'm overcompensating by immediately assuming all the men in my life are gay. Still, even I, with my broken detection equipment, am tipped off to Levy's "qualities." (Watch and decide for yourself.)

It would be funny if this is the only time a lovely, winning, intelligent, joyous man who I think is gay is not. (Not that this is an issue. We wouldn't be "an item" if he were straight.)

Anyhow, as is my rule, until I hear it from him, I'm going to assume he's straight.

[Sub-topic: could I put an openly gay man on my husband list? Is that offensive? (I think so - it disregards his sexuality, which is unfair.) I take the list seriously, as you might know, and I think it would trivialize it if I didn't consider sexual compatibility. Still: NPH?]

Well, "The After Show" is going from a weekly show to daily (Monday through Thursdays) today, which is fantastic. More Dan time in my down time. And another potential Canuck member of my HL!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Lovin'.

Warning: I am about to get very juvenile. I have resigned myself to the fact that there is no dignity involved in my reaction to Adam Levine, so I'm going to run with it.

My housemate L had to talk me going to an outdoor concert last night. I didn't want to go (despite the stellar Sara Bareilles/Counting Crows/Maroon 5 triple bill) because I was bitter about Ticketmaster being a world of douche. Our $28 tickets came to $42 after all the bullshit charges. What are they, fucking Air Canada? What the fuck surcharges are they levying? Am I underestimating how much cocaine the CEOs at Ticketmaster can hoover?

It was very autumnal yesterday, but warm. I wore a thin scoop-neck tee and cotton pants (sailor front - me likey). I met L, who is working at the Exhibition in a beaver mascot costume (don't worry; we haven't missed out on the sweaty beaver comments), and we walked in every direction but the right one to find the Molson Amphitheatre. It seemed that every employee at the Ex had his/her head permanently performing a self-colonoscopy, so it was almost by chance that we found the place at all.

We had lawn tickets, which I was kinda ok with before I looked down to see a tiny speck of Sara Bareilles performing (early, for some reason...). My camera has digital zoom, so I got some pictures that turned out pretty ok, when people weren't walking in front of us, or when the rednecks behind us weren't drunkenly using the back of my chair to hoist themselves up from their blanket.

Sara Bareilles was very good. She was at the piano, and her voice is clear and strong. I recognised some of her songs, but I'm at a bit of a disadvantage since I don't listen to a lot of commercial radio. L is a big fan, so that she started early and we missed some of her set was a disappointment. (Who ever starts early?) She ended her set with the Beatles' "Oh! Darling" It was fine, but I've got problems listening to covers of the Beatles. If it ain't broke, you know?

The Counting Crows were up next. They are only peripherally on my radar, and I didn't really take them seriously. They were, however, fantastic. If I ever have a chance to see them again, I will jump at it. The lead singer (Adam Duritz) was animated and seemed to be exuding joy, which is infectious and inspiring.

I thought he looked like a bearded, dreadlocked, more casual version of Robert Downey, Jr., or, a slimmer version of Kevin Smith (w/ dreads). He also gave a nice speech at the end encouraging people to volunteer locally if the problems of the world seem too big to tackle.

They sang lots of songs I knew, and more I didn't know but would like to be more familiar with. They didn't sing "Accidentally in Love," which is one of my favourite songs to play with Duke.


By now, the sun was dipping down. The sunset lit up the CN Tower to the east, and BMO Field where the Toronto FC plays was all empty and in shadow to the west. I was comfortable until the sun went down, and then then the goosebumps set in. L complained a lot about how cold she was, as is her way. She's adorable. I had the scarf I wrap around Duke, so I warmed up with that.


Then Maroon 5 came out.

Then I soiled myself.

Suddenly sympathetic with those teenagers during Beatlemania, I sat, mesmerized and spontaneously ovulating.

I do not like using the word "hot" to describe a man. I don't think it's very dignified, illustrative, or specific, and it's too subjective.

BUT: there is nothing else for it.

Adam Levine is hot.

Smoking hot.

Ragingly hot.

Besides that, Maroon 5 is excellent live. Levine's vocals are spot on, and I am officially going to crown him king of modern falsetto.

I was trying to document the show, so I had one eye on the viewfinder, and one eye on the stage. (This, by the way, was effective on two fronts: I could see the wide view of the stage and what I was taking pictures of, thereby sending my brain not one, but two images of Adam Levine.)

They sang every song I wanted to hear but "I Won't Go Home Without You." They chose from both albums, and added in Chris Isaac's (the deposed king of falsetto) "Wicked Game," which I was underwhelmed by. My favourite, was "Sunday Morning," which sounds so unbelievably good on Duke, it has worked its way up my list of all-time favourite songs.

One complaint: Adam Levine wore a plain white tee, which made him visible to the naked eye, but made my camera overexpose him in a halo of glare in most of my pictures. Plus, it didn't cover his tattoos, whch are expanding and of which I am not a fan (therefore, please: in the future, stick with the slim-cut suits!).

The upshot is, I'm pregnant.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Toothsome Journeys.

I'm back in Toronto, and back to sitting in front of the computer for some time each day, so you should expect some better updating.

Here is a quick outline of the goodness I ate and didn't eat in the last two months.


I could eat these two up!

I ATE:
-beautiful fresh cod in Glovertown (top of the list because it was the freshest, most perfectly done cod I'd ever had)
-lassy (molasses) buns in Glovertown
-fish and brewis in Glovertown (yes, with scruncheons!)
-pan-fried cod tongues in Glovertown
-caplin in Glovertown
-prosciutto and melon in Riva Del Garda
-Limoncello in London (!)
-Katjes Kinder in Germany (Mit Calcium + Eisen!)
-self-picked blueberries and raspberries in Glovertown
-my mother's home cooking/baking, including her bread, in Stratford
-Family-style 4-pasta dish in New York City
-Burrito and pitcher of margaritas in New York City
-my first gelato in Venice (and my second, about an hour later)
-a cornish pasty at a market in London
-Wedgies in Glovertown (seasoned potato wedges, regionally called wedgies)
-The Gahan House's nachoes in Charlottetown
-Atlantic Smoked Salmon in Stratford
-Multiple Double Deckers in London
-self-harvested chanterelle mushrooms, which we cooked in a rice pilaf
-chocolate in Switzerland (and Toronto, and Stratford, after I brought home 400kgs)
-Jaegerschniztel in Nurenburg
-street pretzels in Cologne
-Beer, beer, beer, in all of the above

I DIDN'T EAT (not much! zing!):
-Lobster
-Mussels
-Frosty Treat, Frosty Treat; Place so nice you say it twice
-Dulse
-Ashley's trail mix
-Rosey's mother's crack cake

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Green, Green Grass Of Home.

I love PEI in the summer.

I got home on Monday, and I'm afraid I'm going to hyperventilate I'm breathing so deeply. The air here is richer than in Ontario.

Last night I got home and stood in the driveway, just taking it all in. I could smell sweet grass and trees, bitter farmyard straw and manure, salt water from the Northumberland Straight, and summer's humidity.

The humidity isn't as incidious here, though, without the smog and crush of people and Toronto piss-whiffs. The air is rarely still enough for humidity to be opressive.

Standing in that driveway, I found myself asking again why I live in Ontario? Aren't some things worth a sacrifice? So I struggle to find work on PEI. If I have moments where I think I'm going to burst because it's so beautiful here, doesn't that tip the balance?

I've given myself three years in Toronto. That's not to say I'm going to force myself to stay, but I think three is a good number of years to get to know a place. (Besides, that's how long my phone contract is.) Hopefully by then I'll be gainfully employed for long enough to save a nestegg and make a move home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rewind!

Horray!

Back in Canada!

Again!

My housemates and I got back from our trip to NYC without terrible incident. I'm not bothered to write about it just now, but I'm pretty chuffed that I've been able to post some videos on YouTube for the first time.

My housemates know well the sound of this clanging Venetian bell. I think it's great. I guess it's how you take your dog for a walk in Venice.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Toronto's Never Looked So Good To Me.

Horray!

I'm back in Canada!

My flight out of London was 1.5 hours late, but I didn't miss it, it wasn't 16 hours late, and it wasn't unceremoniously cancelled, so I was thrilled. I did, however, have to sit next to a clueless young mother and her 9-month-old son who excercised his considerable lungs for many hours. Also, she sneezed on me. I think she was trying to avoid her son, but maybe her sleeve or the aisle would have been a better choice.

I am ok so far for jetlag, and I stayed up until 10pm Toronto time (2am London) to try to get back on track.

I have lost all the great ukulele callouses I built up, so the last half hour of playing with Duke has really shredded my fingertips. "Weighty Ghost" (all two chords of it) and "Home For a Rest" both sound grand, though.

Tonight my housemates and I leave for New York City.

Since I had to BUY a whole new flight out of Switzerland, I am $300 poorer than I was planning on, so this trip is going to be a bit of a struggle. I just have to remember I found some fantastic things in Europe and don't need to shop any more.

I have to go do laundry.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

EasyJet Can Suck My Dick, or, Caveat Emptor.

Never has a name been more inaccurate. EasyJet, my arse.

I am meant to be in London right now. My flight last night from Basel, Switzerland, was cancelled and I was left high and dry.

After much tossing and turning upon re-arrival at my dear friend Sarah's place, I have bought another flight with EasyJet for Wednesday the 9th, which seems to be my only affordable option. It cost me $300, and I'm cutting it far too close for my liking for my flight back to Canada on the 10th.

I cannot believe how incredibly impossible it is to talk to anyone at EasyJet. It costs £1 a minute to talk to a computer and go in circles only to be told, matter-of-factly, that they can't help.

This is the thing, though - I really only have myself to blame. The tickets to see Sarah were very cheap: £87, or about $180, all in, round trip. Because it seemed too good to be true, it was.

I have had terrible luck with flights this trip. It makes me never want to leave home again. My AC flight was 16 hours late, I missed my flight to Dublin, my flight to Verona was late, my flight to Basel was late, my flight back to London is now cancelled, which jeopardizes my flight home.

I've had crying jags and screaming fits, and fitful jagged sleep. I am worn out and worried and I want to go home!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Kiwis, Bison, And Poutine.

Trafalgar Square was quite the place to be on Canada Day. They opened at around noon, and the street hockey tourney started soon thereafter. I sat for almost 4 hours watching, with little breaks to get a Moosehead (not really my fave, but it was there), a bison cheeseburger, and to be charged £1.35 for a 56p stamp at a little souvenir shop (I went back and demanded the difference, which the cashier was not going to give me, but I told him he did something shifty and offered him a penny for 80p, which he gave me, begrudgingly).

Everyone was wearing red and white and Canada Day stuff, but all I had was my CBC exploding pizza, which I think I preferred because then only the Canadians would really know that I knew, and we'd have a little private joke.

The rock concert was the night before, which I am sorry I missed. The Trewes played, and so did Kathleen Edwards. On Canada Day, it was like Alberta barfed all over the stage. There were two country acts, which I should say, were very good, but not good party music, I declare! (Yodelling lady kicked ass.) Jian Ghomeshi was there as MC (and apparently he hosted Q in London all week), which was pretty cool for me and my CBC geekiness. I was afraid he'd spot me in my CBC shirt and I'd blurt out that I'd taken him off my Husband List because I thought he was a smug wanker. He was a good host, actually, and it was nice to see someone representing the Ceeb.

As I sat to wait for the show, I struck up a conversation with two kiwis. They (Helen and Jase) were living in Dublin but were visiting London. They were a funny pair. A champagne bottle spewed its contents in the face of a Londoner sitting next to me, so I offered him tissues, and had a nice chat with he and his wife, who worked in the building behind Canada House, which is on Trafalgar Square. I was also trying to convince the lady that was sitting in front of me to grow out her grey. She was nice.

Overall, the day was quite cool. I was a little lonely because I didn't have anyone to sit/chat with for most of the day, and I'm sure there were other Canucks in the same boat, but I was too shy to ask.

No fireworks. Next year, I would like to be in Charlottetown for Canada Day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dream Man?

I forgot: I had a dream that I met Shane MacGowan, but he had a perfectly white grill of Chicklet teeth. I read somewhere that he wanted his teeth fixed - it must have snuck into my subconscious.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

PPS: I Forgot.

AND: I saw Les Misérables with Terry on our first day in London. I really liked it! I didn't know the story or much of the music (damn you, Katie Holmes...), so it was mostly a brand new treat. I was jet-legged pretty bad, so I nodded off a couple of times, but a kid behind me was kicking the seat (hurrah for matinees!), so that kept me awake.

PS: Suck On It!

And I saw Colin Firth at the premiere of Mama Mia! in Liecester Square yesterday. I think we're dating now, but I don't want to get ahead of myself.

Canada Day, London, '08! Also: Back From The Continent.

WOO!!!

Party!!!

There's some kind of bash in London's Trafalgar Square today, so I'm going to get the train in from Kent and see what's going on.

On Sunday I got back from a week on the continent. I flew down to Italy (Riva del Garda), and spent 4 days there. My friends Alan and Liz were there, so they took me to Venice for a day. Venice was a trip. I just liked being on the water again, and I could smell the salt air (the Adriatic smells like the Atlantic Ocean, fyi). I rode the bus all over. The busses, of course, are ferries. Trippy!

We went up into the Dolomite mountain range the next day. This was sea level to over 6000 feet in less than 24 hours. My ears were popping so much! It was beautiful up there - very Swiss. In fact, there was a lot of German spoken up there. We saw the region where marmolade was originated. (I thought this was kinda neat despite the fact that I don' like the stuff.) We were caught in a beastly hail storm. The hailstones were as big as marbles and we had to check the car to make sure there weren't any dents. Alan was driving and we went up and down a ton of ranges with hairpin switchbacks, populated by sturdy truck drivers and homocidal motorcyclists.

The next day I was going to ride a ferry all over Lake Garda, but in the morning I had some sort of George Clooney Proximity-induced fever and didn't go anywhere. Actully, I think it was the perfect storm of a lot of reasons*.

1) I had taken a prescription pain-killer
2) I drank my first cappucino
3) It was hotter than the third ring of hell

Whatever it was, I was pouring sweat, had shallow, clipped breathing, and lost all my strength. I called my friends to come get me and I slept most of the day in their cool hotel room. By gar, it was hot. My mother would have melted.

The next day we drove to a little town near Nuremburg, where, when I asked the girl at the hotel if she spoke English, she said not at all, so... there I was, 10 years out of Herr Zimmermann's German class at UPEI, and I was doing ok! I understood what they were saying and, even more miraculously, I made myself understood! It was thrilling.

I think part of what made me uncomfortable in Italy (and now that I think back to it, Turkey) was that I couldn't understand the language. I felt like one of those colonial pricks, come to enjoy the place but exploit it at the same time with no regard for the local culture except what could be represented in a 3x5 frame.

Anyhow. The next day we drove to Cologne, and we were there for 2 nights. This is because of a hug shopping centre nearby that my friends like to explore thoroughly. Who am I to complain? I got a couple of pairs of shoes and some trinkets, but didn't do a lot of shopping, really. I got to speak a lot of German, which was cool.

Then we took a ferry from Dunkirk, not Calais. I liked that a lot. In Beligium, we bought chocolates and Alan took me to a war cemetary. (Do people know that about me? I love war cemetaries and war memorials.) It was a beautifully kept little corner of the world, and there were soldiers there from all over (Scotland, England, Germany, Australia, Canada, and one lost soul from Egypt, whose marker, out of respect, was further away from the cemetary's cross.)

The ferry passage was about 2 hours long, and we went into Dover, like normal, so I got to see those chalk cliffs.

Now I'm here for another 2 days, and then down to Switzerland for the weekend. Then I'm back here for a couple more days, then home! Whew!


*Yes, I did intend to slip in that Clooney allusion.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Touchdown... Finally.

I am now in England.

"England?" you ask? "Shouldn't you be in Ireland by now?"

Yes, England. I was meant to be in Dublin by now, but my flight was delayed for 16 hours (no, I didn't misstype that - it's a one followed by a six), so we missed our flight to Dublin and had to forfeit the hotel's deposit.

There were raging electrical storms in Toronto (also, I think there were some admistrative fuckups because they gave us a $100 Air Canada voucher and they wouldn't have done that if it were just the weather's fault), and the aircraft and pilot were trapped in different airports.

Damn. I was really looking forward to Ireland, but now we are less rushed and will explore London in the proper amount of time needed. (Well, really, the proper amount of time is 4 years, I'm sure, but 4 days will have to do.)

Terry had a little pod hotel at Heathrow, which was just what I needed: a place to sleep and shower after only sleeping one hour on the floor of the departures lounge of Pearson Airport. I slept my face off, showered the margarine out of my hair (how did that get there?) and then we got the train(s) to Kent, where my friend Ruth picked us up.

We are now kipping here for the next few days while we take in this great city, see some antiquities pillaged from the colonial years, a market or two, some historical landmarks, and maybe see a show.

So: first roadbump sorted. I'm here, anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shorthand.

This'll be quick. I've got 2 hours before I leave.

I quit my job on Friday. This is not because I disliked the job (teaching) as much as I hated that I felt like I was in retail, my integrity was constrantly challenged and undermined, and the administration was draconian.

So: how do you celebrate unemployment? By taking a month-long European trip!

I've added another date on my "Screw Those Kids" Tour '08! I'm going to see my old friend Sarah, who lives in Basel, Switzerland. Sarah and I have been in Europe together before: we were on the Singing Strings ISME '96 trip ensemble. This was when we coined the term "bread and crap" in Germany and Sarah chased defenceless rabbits on the lawns of a British Quaker private school near York. Defenceless save their speed. So... not defenceless, I guess...

I should go shower and actually put my belongings into some sort of carrier. And I have to finish stiching the flag on my backpack, of course.

I'll try to post when I'm away. Everyone hold your breath on that one!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Meet Duke.

Hi, all.

I went home last long weekend. It was meant to drive away my blues, and it did, for the most part, but it also made me more homesick.

I've been back at work for two weeks now, which means there are another two weeks left to conquor.

Then, I'm off on another adventure.

I may have mislead people with my post about Dublin. I didn't mean to write that I'll be in Ireland for a month, but I'll be in Europe for a month. 28 days. Whatever. I'll be in Dublin for 5 days. (I'll spare those who have been to Ireland the trouble of commenting: woefully too short, I know.)

Here's the plan:
June 15th: leave Toronto
June 16th (am): arrive London
June 16th (pm): arrive Dublin
June 20th: return to London
June 22nd: arrive Verona, stay on Lake Garda for 3-4 days (so close to Clooney!)
June 29th: arrive back in UK after driving from Italy along the Rhine through Germany
July 10th: arrive back Toronto.

Yes, there's a gap there. What do I do/were do I go for those 11/12 days before I go home. It's not settled yet. I want to catch a cheap flight to somewhere I've never been, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to want to return to the Emerald Isle after getting a taste.

Now for something completely different:

I got a ukulele, and I love it. It's a pretty cheap one, so it goes out of tune as fast as you can say Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole, but it's such a plinky-plonky bit of summer fun, I really like it.

Its name is Duke. It's cartoonishly small. Actually, it's so small, sometimes it's hard to hold. I need to get a strap so I can take my act on the road.

The chords are not too hard to learn. In fact, because there are only 4 strings, barring is much easier. The strings are vinyl, too, so they're more comfortable than a guitar's. I'm still getting some familiar callouses on my left hand that I haven't had since I stopped playing bass.

I've also found a ukulele hero. Her name is Jules Nunes, and by god, this chick's got talent. She can jam on the uke, and damn, she's got some video editing skills. This is my favourite one (but also check out her "Her Majesty" and her "God Only Knows").

Saturday, May 10, 2008

These Mainlanders Are Cracked.

Last night, in the ongoing spirit of trying new things, I ordered a dirty martini.

That's a vodka martini with olive brine and three olives.

It tasted like cloudy ocean water. It was foul.

What the hell is wrong with these landlubbers?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sniff That Derry Air.

I just booked a flight to Dublin.


I'd be more excited if I didn't feel swindled. Although the round trip flight only cost about $100 each, they were listed for $3. Oh, Ryanair... make the world go away.

I'm going to Europe in June for almost a full month, and my old boss/paramour Terry and I are going to visit Ireland for about a month.

The 2 tickets, return, cost us £2.98, but with all the bullshit fees, it came to £107! Isn't that a hoot! A financially crippling hoot? I'm laughing so hard I could cry.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

So.

Ryan Reynolds, one of the illustrious members of my exclusive Husband List (patent pending), is engaged.

Engaged.

To whom?

Not some Rando. Not some make-up artist, or costume mistress, or craft service wench, or best boy/grip/foley artist etc., etc., etc...

Freakin' Scarlett Johansson.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lil's Wedding.

Finally. The day of my old friend Lily's wedding arrived. I jetted off to California as if it were something I did on a regular basis. I tried to play it cool, but I was glued to the window watching the praries, the desert, and the Rockies pass by.

There are some places I've visited that look like a screenplay called for a stereotypical scene in whatever place... Paris, Istanbul, or Edinburgh. California, like other places I've been, was like a movie set of its stereotype.

Palm-lined streets, surfers, tofu everywhere, the gorgeous beaches, yoga shops, juice bars, terra cotta roofing tiles, sunshine, yankees playing football, grosses of nighttime fully-lit but wholly abandoned baseball diamonds, and trains of enormous SUVs.

And the lush plant life made me crazy. There was an olive tree in the backyard, and there were birds of paradise and climbing flowers on walls.


Here are some pictures from California.

Here are my classmates from Mac. I'm the giant one with the impossibly red face, far left, then Jenn, Lily, Hisako, and Nanette.

This is lame, I know, but I was so impressed with my breakfast. It was at a Hawaiian place that had a patio at Huntington Beach. The red nest on which my stir fried veg and tofu torillas rested was, I think, spun beetroot. It was amazing. I've had naughty dreams about it since.