Friday, December 18, 2009

It's All A Matter Of Emphasis.

Most often, the time I am most sensitive to emphasis is when I am asked,

"How tall are you?"

This is usually a couple of months after meeting a person, when they feel comfortable to address the freakishness that stares down at them day after day.

Before I came home for Christmas, however, someone lobbed another one at me:

"What do you do on Prince Edward Island?"

We tip cows and drink moonshine.

What do you think we do? We visit friends and family. We play games and music. We go to the movies and see shows. We shop. We cook and bake. We have feasts and beers and enjoy each others' company. In other words, all the things I do in Toronto, only with people who seem to know how to live a full life without a million people breathing down their necks.

I am cheesed about this because it's akin to the assumption that there's no work on Prince Edward Island. Of course there's work here - kids need teaching, hospitals need running, government grinds on, there are shops and restaurants and lawyers and farming and fishing and a million tourists to prepare for each year.

Until recently, there just happened to be more jobs in Ontario. That's why I'm there, essentially. There was more chance of be getting work there. Then the bottom fell out of the economy and I'm competing for the crappy jobs that are left with hundreds and thousands of ex-CAW union members. Honestly, I've been looking for decent work in Ontario for a year and a half, and I suspect I would have gotten something on PEI sooner than that.

To sum up, I guess I'm frustrated with the myopia city-dwellers have about rural Canada.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Toronto Scene.

I live in Little India. There's a lot of bright colour and delicious smells and fantastic wares in shop windows. We feel the Hindu and Muslim festivals deeply in our neighbourhood. Eid and Diwali are big flippin' deals.

This weekend is Eid ul-Adha, which, amongst other things, marks the end of the Hajj. It's not the huge party that we saw earlier in the fall for Eid al-Fitr (that night, I had a great vantage point as I was trapped on a streetcar which was slowed by a sea a swiriling sarees and mehndi vendors), but there are some signs up in the windows of shops bearing greetings.

I was walking home from the Lunacy Cabaret tonight and there were hardly any people in the streets. It's cold tonight - it's time for me to change to my winter coat. As I passed by the Ashdale Library, I met a large family coming the other way. A little boy of about 4 had run ahead of the pack, followed closely by another boy, maybe about 6. There was a garbage truck at the curb with a garbage collector at its back bumper. The little boy stopped, looked at the collector, crouched down a little, balled his fists behind him, locked his elbows, and yelled, "Eid Mubarak!" The collector, who looked to be of Chinese decent, smiled back at the kid and carried on in his duties.

Ah, Toronto nights.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Did Fox Sustain Brain Damage?

I thought I couldn't have thought less of the Fox Network than I already do.

When they recently killed Arrested Development, I thought they must have had a collective breath-holding contest and sustained major brain damage.

Anyhow, now I hear that the geniuses at Fox are pre-empting the delightful and hott Glee for FOUR MONTHS to air American Idol in its time slot.

SIXTEEN WEEKS!

I am seriously displeased. Fox, you are in the doghouse in my mind.

(But please start airing re-runs of X-Files.)

Friday, November 06, 2009

Go On, Go On, Go On, Go On.


The Vision Network, in all its wholesome wisdom, has started showing Father Ted.

I wonder if they just knew that the protagonist is an Irish Catholic priest and left it at that. "No need to delve any further into that storyline," says they, "after all, 'tis a lovely tale of a priest and his parishoners."

In the one episode I just watched, it was about a Bishop with a love child in California, Father Ted and his poor idiot sidekick Father Dougal protesting a filthy film and subsequantly making it a blockbuster, a demented old priest using "feck" liberally, and a old lady describing the shape of her husband's "lad".

Not quite The Waltons (which is also a Vision offering).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Really, AMC?

"The Shining" is playing on AMC right now. It started at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

At 2:15 PM, I saw a horrified Danny foresee an elevator door opening, filling an Outlook Hotel hallway with a tsunami of blood. It's 2:45 now, and he's tooling around the halls on his big-wheels. WHERE ARE THOSE TWINS?!? I KNOW THEY'RE THERE!!!

I can't believe they're allowed to air this at this time of day. Care Bears used to have this time slot.

On a related note: was Shelly Duvall considered a good actress? I think she's awful. No matter how genious the movie is and how kickety-kick-ass the novel is, I hate hate hate her performance in this movie. I really would like to be able to find out what motivated them to cast her when her Wendy is so different than the Wendy in King's novel.

UPDATE: It's now 3:45, and they just had all (or from what I can remember, all) of the lady corpse ghost scene with Jack. Sure, her business was blurred out, but that's a lot of rotting flesh to broadcast in the light of day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spitting Images.

I don't really watch what I call "murder shows." There are usually cops and lawyers and brutal, soul crushing crimes. Me no likey.

Anyhow:

This guy from one of the "murder shows" (CSI, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, NCIS, etc.) looks so much like a Cardassian, I thought he must have played one.



He has not, but I think he should have.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.



It was 10 years ago today I moved to England. I was 20. It was my first flight by myself.

I had a job interview the next at a hotel in a sleepy drive-though village in Kent called Hextable. It was my second day - I was sleep deprived and nervous. I used my fingers instead of the tongs to put sugar in my tea in the interview, but they hired me anyway. I was to work in the Utopia Health and Leisure Spa at the Rowhill Grange Hotel as a receptionist. By the end of the day, I had secured a room to let down the road from the hotel for £55 a week, which included a cooked meal every night ("tea").

My job didn't start for two weeks, so I took a train north to Scotland. I couldn't stay in Edinburgh through the weekend because there was some sort of international rugby championship going on and the whole city was crawling with Kiwis. I went farther north. I followed the East Coast. I went north of Tain, but not all the way to John O'Groats, a decision I still regret.

Northern Scotland looked so much like Newfoundland, it was the first of many pangs of deep homesickness I felt while I was in the UK.

My visa was good for 24 months. I was there only 9. I also regret not staying there longer. Now, at 30, I'd love to live in Scotland for a while. Wales, England, Northern Ireland - why didn't I just move and try a new location?

Because I was 20. I have logged a whole decade between who I was then and who I am now.

Still, I tried new stuff. I learned new things. I learned to drive a standard - in my own Mini (it was a POS, but it was mine). I discovered hard cider, haggis, Jaffa Cakes, Cornish pasties, and Ribena. I learned to ring bells in a church belfry. I found Jamie Oliver and Ant & Dec. I learned more "English" than I thought was possible (pikeys and zebra crossings and being "on the pull" and biros and skips and so on and so on). All these and so many more amazing memories came out of the mad adventure of Catherine in the UK.

How brazen and bold was I, a 20-year-old PE Islander, hopping on a plane to London? I wonder if I still have that same spirit, 10 years later?

I think I do. I hope so.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Back In My Own Room.

This afternoon I'm going to move my furniture back in my room. I now have more wall space, as there used to be a door to the furnace room in my room, but as of Jan last year, that's no longer up to Code, so "they" moved it around to the downstairs den area. Then they had to patch the wall and paint it. Then, the paint was peeling, and they had to come back again. It's still peeling a little bit, but I don't care anymore.

Anyhow, from Sept 1st when the door was moved, it was "finished" on Wednesday, the 30th.

I'm glad I get the opportunity to move everything around. Usually, it would be way too much work.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Have You Heard? It's In The Stars.

North By Northwest is on. I wish I could sit and watch the whole thing tonight. It's one of the best movies you've (most likely) never seen.

Also, although not nearly in the same league, High Society is a musical version of the excellent The Philidelphia Story, one of my favourites. No matter how much you like musicals, always choose The Philidelphia Story over High Society.

Still, I love listening to butter + butter = "Well, Did You Evah" with Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.



Best rhyme with "Blanche" ever.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our House, In The Middle Of A Bog.

We've been having some problems with our property management company, who manage our house for our landlord. They're being dicks, to be blunt.

I got back from the East Coast, sad and homesick, to find the downstairs toilet and shower ebbing and flowing with sewage. Finally, the toilet filled and overflowed. I was very upset because I didn't want to be back in Toronto at all, and then the room attached to my bedroom was swimming in poop et al.

(If you feel like barfing, click for an enlargement.)



After a couple of visits, the plumbing was fixed. Then, it was a struggle to get the property management company to pay for the clean-up. Here were some of the comments (and these are quotes):

"Our personnel would not have left raw sewage on the floor. Any chance you could wash it down and chemically sterilize the area. (Javex)"

"Don't know how to answer without potentially alienating you. We could send someone in to clean up, but is it really necessary? You require chemicals and a brush."

"The residue is the by-product of the residence and should not present a health hazard." (As if I'm finicky about cleaning up strangers' shit, but if it's my housemates', it's alright.)

And this one, which had me spitting mad:

"My wife and I raised 4 children and cleaning up sewage was the least of our worries or endeavours. Yes, we have a difference of opinion but that's what makes the world go round."

As if because I don't have children my problems are petty! Ooh, I don't think I've ever been as mad. Why bring that up?

To that, I was terse in my response because after about 10 emails back and forth, he had not once answered my repeated question as to whether they would pay for the cleaning.

Me:

"Thank you for your response. Can you assure me, as per my previous email, that [the property management company] will pay for [the cleaners'] work?"

This was his answer:

"Reluctantly, yes."

What a dick.

Either it's their responsibility or not. It's yes or no. It shouldn't have been such a bitchy little hassle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Red Hearings.

Last November, I filed a claim against my previous employer for unpaid vacation pay. I think today the whole journey may have come to an end. I had to attend a meeting out in Scarberia, and my ex-boss was asked/ordered to pay me back for what I was owed. She has the possibility of appealing, but I hope she realizes I have the law on my side and acquiesces.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Auntie Cate!

My friend Lisa had her second child while I was on the East Coast - this time a boy! His name is Rowan, and I'm so stoked that I was home to meet him. He weighed 6,8, has wispy blonde hair, and (possibly) blue eyes, unlike his sister, Paige. He was, somewhat unexpectedly, diagnosed with Down syndrome the day he was born. His heart is strong (like his mother's!), which is good news, and with some help, he's feeding well. Paige is head-over-heels in love with him, and I look forward to him growing up so we can talk and play like I can with Paige.

Back To It...

Sorry, kids, for the major break from posting. I was away for a month (but not in Mongolia or something - I could have posted), but now I'm back in the city and ready to get back to it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

(500) Days Of Summer.

So... Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I had a crush on him in "3rd Rock From The Sun," and then fell in love with his brooding noir performance in Brick. (Read my 2006 review.) Now, as an aspiring architect-cum-mediochre greeting-card writer guy who falls for the office dish, played by the beguiling Zooey Deschanel, he's a mess - lovesick, confused, angry, and oh-so-endearing.

I love this movie. It was funny as, sweet, and so real, except for this scene I'm linking, which I can't embed (sorry). Click the button all the way to the right if you just want the music, or left for director's commentary. Any movie that has a choreographed dance sequence makes my heart race (except 13 Going on 30 - I hate that movie). I breathlessly watched this scene, and I didn't want it to end.

The storyline is non-linear, but a running total of days in the relationship pops up on dialogue cards, so we can keep track. We know early on that the story doesn't end with Lohengrin's March, but somehow that's ok. Maybe it's because of the finite title. Maybe it's because we can clearly see the pair falling apart. Maybe it's because we've all been there - the obsession melting into apathy.

Maybe it's because he's too good for her! He belongs with me! Ahem...

(500) Days of Summer is a delight. I highly recommend it.

I also saw HP6 and Funny People this week. I might review them from home. I'm on a flight home to PEI tonight.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Son Of A Teacher Man.

When I was teaching last year, I figured something out: a teacher would be less likely to raise a kid who's a dickhead. After seeing dozens and hundreds of other people's dickhead kids, I think a teacher as a parent would be less tolerant of such behaviour in his or her own children.

So, there it is: I'm going to marry a son of a teacher. He'd be respectful, polite, and probably not a spoilt, entitled weasel.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Everything Old Is New Again.

In the history of my too-long academic career, one of my favourite professors is Dr. Shannon Murray, of the UPEI English Department. She taught with enthusiasm, passion and compassion. She valued innovative teaching methods, and pushed us to analyze literature in ways we didn't expect.

I took multiple classes with her, but my favourites were probably the full year of Shakespeare I did with her. (I also loved the Paradise Lost course.)

I took many pearls of wisdom away from Dr. Murray, but I've recently been returning to one again and again.

She thought it was amazing that we once wrote on scrolls of parchment and would roll our ways down the document, but then bookbinding became more popular and we all got used to turning pages.

Then, with the advent of the internet, we are back to scrolling.

Cool, huh?

I think I've found another one: before people wore wristwatches, we carried our time pieces on chains in our pockets.

Now, again, we're returning to pocketwatches. Fewer and fewer people wear watches, but rely on their phones for telling time.

Ooh! Clever!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Modern Life Is Rubbish.

Here in Toronto, we are in the 31st day of a City employee strike. Normally, I wouldn't pay very much attention to a civil servant strike because I don't have kids in summer camp and I don't need any buiding permits. Unfortunately, under the umbrella of City workers are garbage collectors.

That means we're going into our 5th week without any garbage collection.

Things are getting a little desperate here at Love House. There's very little room left in our recycling bin, and there are some Tupperware containers in the fridge that are growing mould like it's a fridge in a high school biology classroom. We don't want to empty them because they'll just sit in the small compost bin outside, enticing the zombie raccoons to come feast.

Outside the realm of my house, the city is getting narsty. I think the zombie raccoons are breeding, if that's even possible. Litter is everywhere in the gutters. The first day of the strike, all City garbage cans were wrapped in saran wrap (no kidding) with signs that read, "Temporarily Out of Order. Please Don't Litter." Yeah. That lasted for about 10 minutes, which is when the first douche tore the wrap off and started filling the cans with garbage anyway. Some are not only filled up, but broken open and spilling over. Some business owners near my work have taken it upon themselves to seal over cans near their shops. It's usually cardboard boxes and lots of packing tape that does the trick, but it don't look so purdy.

The City has set up temporary dump sites, but those sites are simply selected City parks. Some have even filled up and have been closed, and now are shoulder-high football fields of black plastic bags, stinking to high hell and attracting frothing raccoon zombies*.

Happily, Toronto has been unusually cool for summer. It's rarely gotten hotter than 22 degrees, and it rains often. This is not cooking the garbage like it could, and how it did back in 2002, when the last City strike lasted only 16 days. (Unfortunately, the cool weather is also preventing my tomatoes from ripening.)

Also, the general litter in the streets distracted everyone else's eyes from the crumpled American $20 bill I found a couple of weeks ago. Rawk! I'm going to spend it recreating Ferris Bueller's Day Off when I go to Chicago for a friend's wedding in September. (I heard that you were feeling ill, headache, fever, and a 20 dollar bill...)

*Zombie racoon sightings would usually be investigated by City employees. I'm not taking any chances - it's zero hour, people.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

And Away We Go.

When I see a good movie, I get this rush of creativity. It makes me want to run home and write and draw.

Away We Go had that effect on me. I haven't seen such a winning movie is ages.

It's about a couple, played by John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, who are expecting their first child but find themselves entirely unfettered. In a quest to find a new home, they visit what few friends and family they have.

What they find is a dubious cavalcade of parenting practices that have them going from asking themselves if they are fuckups to asking if they are the only normal people left on earth.

Their love and intimacy is so sweet and real, it makes me ache for a relationship like thiers.

It's nice to see Krasinski away from "The Office." He plays Burt. He is a real candidate for the Husband List, but he doesn't have a big enough portfolio of work to be admitted just yet. He does grow a good beard. A good beard. His beard and this movie work in his favour.

Maya Rodolph is great in this movie. She's always cited as excellent in this movie's reviews, and I have to agree. She is a soft-spoken, thoughtful Verona.

This movie has the potential to be too quirky, but it isn't. Its charms are balanced between funny and touching. Some of the stories told in this film are so bittersweet. I love bittersweet.

I don't think Away We Go is playing in a lot of theatres, but if you have a chance to see it, I would highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Is How My Garden Grows.

Holla back, jardiƱieros!

(Click on photo for an enlargement.)

On request, here is an update on my little garden.

I'm certainly going to have zucchinis growing out of my ears in a month's time.

This is a detail of the largest blossom I've got on the zucchini. I hear they're good fried, too, but I don't want to jinx the whole crop by prematurely aborting the veg itself.

I've got 4 big plants and then 2 more that came from seeds but I thought were all dug up by cats/squirrels/demons. The 4 "bush zucchinis" each have about a dozen blossoms and are bursting with deliciousness already.

The sugar snap peas are not looking great. Something's gotten to the leaves, so they just look like sad little squirts of silly string. I hope they're able to grow properly. You can see them (trying to) go up the fence behind the zucchini in the last photo of this post.

As for the tomatoes: wow!

Some are almost as high as me, which, in case those of you who haven't seen me in a while have forgotten, is very high! My housemate, "The Big Tomato" L, was helping me prune them. She's ruthless when it comes to snapping off suckers. I hope it helps the yield, but I'm a little concerned that they'll fall over on themselves anyway.

Little green marbles of proto-tomatoes are appearing. I wager in a couple more weeks they'll be ripe and L will start to bathe her teeth in acid like she did last summer. (Did you know I have some enamel erosion and my dentist told me to steer clear of acidy tomatoes? The Horror!)



This is my rosemary shrub. I have fantasies of my own focaccia. I have made bread twice in my life, but I dream of making my own focaccia with my own rosemary.


If you remember, I planted strawberries, dreaming of fresh, sweet, ruby treats from my own back yard and not bullshit California. Well, my big disappointment was: strawberries only produce fruit in their second year. Blah! I'm a renter! I'm a transient! I don't know where I'm going to be next year! (I could be in California for all I know!)



The cruellest part is: I have to prune any blossoms it does produce this year so it can use all that energy to establish itself as a good fruiting plant next year.

This is my beet box. It's not doing so great, either. Something is nibbling on the greens, and I don't know if the roots are growing to be delicious! I have to wait and see. I do know that the ones in the sun are thriving compared to the ones with less sun - they're all but dead.


Bonus
Here's a creepy peek into the way my mind works: when one of my housemates dubbed it the "beet box" my first thought was (and this seemed to be a rational, scientific thought), "Justin Timberlake is coming over." Yeah. Welcome to my life.


So, in closing, here's a good shot of my dresser drawers-cum-planters. I found the dresser on the sidewalk and kicked the bottom panels out to raise the soil level. You might be able to spot the wild spearmint growing to the left of the frame. It's really invasive, but that's fine by me, because I got all the fixins for mojitos!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Holy Crap: Oscars News.

The Academy is going to have TEN Best Picture nominees for the next awards show. Apparently it's the way it was back in the 30s and 40s.

It's going to make my life a great deal more difficult, as I really like to see all nominees for Best Picture by the time they're awarded.

My Oscars reviews and prestidigitations:

2005 Predictions

2005 Post-Mortem

2006 Predictions

2006 Post-Mortem

2007 Predictions

2007 Post-Mortem

2008 Predictions

2008 Post-Mortem

2009 Predictions and Post-Mortem

My Oscars Date

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Remake Of "The Shining"?

I recently re-read "Pride and Prejudice."

It makes me so happy. It's funny as all get-out, achingly romantic, and bittersweet. It had been about 4-5 years since I last read it, so I needed some help from my go-to Austen guru, Jax.

What, you might ask, is the natural follow-up the euphoria of P&P?

How about the classic horror novel, "The Shining"?

Yeah.

I'm an idiot.

But, by god, "The Shining" is good. It got it for $0.99 at a Value Village and thought it was a good size to read on the streetcar. I'd never read any Stephen King, and I'm not generally a fan of the horror genre at all. To be fair, I haven't read much.

There's no wonder he's known as the master of horror - King is so adept at cultivating dread, I was on tenterhooks before the Torrence family even got to the damned Overlook Hotel.

I was also surprized by how many changes were made in the 1980 film adaptation. Jack, the father, and Danny, the son with "the shining," experienced a lot of things that were not in the Kubrick classic, and other things that weren't in the book at all that were added in the film.

The book was way scarier. Way scarier. Last week there was a raging lightning storm that woke me up at 1am. I thought some reading might lull me back to sleep, but it happened to be the chapter with the corpse lady ghost in room 217. A corpse lady ghost! Jeez god.

Still, perhaps the makers of the movie adaptation simply couldn't do justice to the horrors described in the novel - CGI would now cover it, but the technology of the late 70s wouldn't have.

I couldn't help but wonder who would play Jack Torrence in a remake. It would be a big pair of shoes to fill after Jack Nicholson's iconic performance in the original. Still, if the re-make was true to the novel in a way the Kubrick film wasn't, a new one would be so different, maybe an actor would be up to putting his own stamp on it.

Might I suggest Ryan Reynolds? Too hunky? Ryan Gosling? Still too hunky? I think they would be good, though. Jack has to be about 30, but have chops. Who? Oh! Maybe Joshua Jackson - not too hunky, but should be able to handle the rage cage of the Overlook.

How about Ryan Reynolds? Wait...

(It would be a monumental mistake to remake this movie, I know, but there's nothing new in the world and there's certainly nothing new in the world of cinema these days. {Let's look at movies out right now: Star Trek, Land of the Lost, Angels and Demons (ger-ow), Night at the Museum 2, Wolverine...})

I might have to pick up another King novel.


In the meantime, to cleanse the palatte, I'm now reading Carlo Petrini's "Slow Food Nation." It's basically making me sad and angry. It makes me want to put a push on my dream on moving back the east coast, building my own house with a root cellar and growing an epic garden of heirloom veg.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Two Scots In A Row.

I've been watching more and more Craig Ferguson. His frenetic giddiness is fun to watch. He gets excited and makes effete gestures.

On Monday, I turned it on in time to see this clip, no intro, no explanation - just utter nonsense:



If you're not sure, and think Craig is just a dip, listen to how he eulogizes his father.

Part One:



Part Two:



Also, he addresses making fun of celebrities and his qualms thereof:



Well, I think his show is a real gem. It's not always polished and it's rarely high-brow, and I have a problem with some of the embedded advertizing he's done in the past, but I think all the chinks makes it all the more endearing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Need Some Sort Of Outlet.

I think I have to take up boxing. Or krav maga. Or therapeutic screaming.

Or, I could stop watching movies that get me all hot and bothered.

I saw Angels and Demons today.

Ewan McGregor was in it a lot.

In a cassock.



Bpppt.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wolverine.

So... Hugh Jackman.

Yeah...

I went to see a movie in the two twonie Tuesday matinee yesterday. In fact, I went to see Angels and Demons, but it was sold out.

Oh, well.

Now I don't care if I ever see Angels and Demons. I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine instead. Mercy me.

It was just wall-to-wall hunks. Hunks everywhere!

And, unlike most movies of this type, I followed the storyline.

Not that the storyline was really a concern of mine. I mean, what is up with Hugh Jackman? How is he as good as he is? Triple threat, funny, hunky, father, Australian, tall, hunky...

Gimmie a sec. I got distracted.

In fact, I'm gonna go meditate for a while.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Open Letter To My Acne.

Dear My Acne,

Listen, we have to talk. I know we've been together for a long time. Since about grade 6, in fact. That's a long time. Almost 20 years!

Almost 20 years.

I hate to have to do this, Acne, but I think it's time we went our separate ways. I know, I should have said something earlier, but I had always hoped that our relationship would naturally fizzle and you'd go away on your own.

Maybe it's time I was more assertive. I was never comfortable weilding the proverbial pitch fork of chemical weapons. I couldn't stand the thought of increased cancer risk or peeing hormones out into our water systems so fish grow testicles on their foreheads (or whatever happens). Not just to scare you off. No. While people probably think I'm not that shallow, I am; but I still won't let you change my stance on this.

Please leave me alone. I'm 30, for goodness sake.

And no, before you ask, I'm not cheating on you. I've not taken up with psoriasis or even some rebound exzema if you leave me. In fact, considering your unhealthy addicion to my hormones, the only other condition I'm likely to contract by the time you leave is osteoporosis! (As an aside - I hope you get some help - you are ugly when you're on your monthly hormone bender.)

Did I ever tell you that the biggest lie I was ever told was that I would grow out of you? Get over you? Like you're the fucking love of my life?

Well, fuck you, Acne. You've scarred me in more ways than one. You're put on notice.

Good luck,

Catherine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kings And Queens.

I've been having so much fun at my weekly ukulele jams.

Tomorrow night is another theme night, so I'm going to attempt Go West's "King of Wishful Thinking" by myself, and then Sunny and I are going to sing Rufus Wainwright's "One Man Guy." Sunny sings beautiful harmonies, seemingly effortlessly, and we've sung together many times.

I have to rehearse both songs quite a bit before tomorrow night. Fortunately (?) I'm not going to work tomorrow because my bosses have meetings out of the office and I don't have a key, so I have some extra time. It'll be such a light paycheque next week! Yikes!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Garden Is In.


With aching muscles and grungy fingernails, I'm happy to announce my garden is in.

There's a beautiful big maple next door that shades almost the entire yard. I'm sure that tree is going to save our lives in the heat of the summer, but right now, it's difficult to find a spot with bright sunlight.

Last weekend, I got 8 large ice cream tubs. Now, 8 small tomato plants call them their home. I am glad that I put them in containers because I've had to move them several times to find the sunniest spot. I hope they thrive, but I hear tomatoes don't always do well in pots.

I also put in strawberry plants, only to find that they only produce fruit in their second year. Bah. I really really really wanted strawberries this year. Anyhow, the cool thing is, I have them hanging from the deck, planted in burlap bags. Hopefully, they'll trail down.

I have sugar snap peas in next to our neighbours' fence, zucchini next to that, and a big wooden box full of beets. (Hereafter referred to as the "beet box.") In smaller 2 litre buckets, I have basil in. I'll probably have to thin that because I put them in too densely, I think.

I have to get netting to cover the tomatoes because the neighbours say raccoons pick the fruit off the vines and leave them to rot without even eating them. Dicks.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Is Sprung.

It's nice that Southern Ontario follows the calender for seasons. Once the calender says it's a season, it is that season.

The crocuses have come and gone, and now daffodils are out. A lot of tulips are almost up, and forsythias are in bloom. Once in a while, you'll go by a bed of hyacinths and catch that great smell.

This morning it was raining, and it smelled like a spring in England - cold and humid.

I spoke to the super at a nearby apartment building (they had recently laid a new driveway with bricks and there was a stack of leftover bricks by the back door), and I'm going to start ferrying home a brick or two a day. I want to build up a garden bed in the back yard.

I want to put in

(of course) tomatoes
mint
basil
sweet peas
snow peas
garlic
zuchinni?
cosmus

There's a big maple in the neighbour's backyard, which apparently blocks out most of the light and sucks all the moisture out of the ground. This year's garden could be a challenge.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Wagon Trail.

The modern version of the Mormon wagon trail is the TTC Pape and Don Mills 25 bus that I have to take to volunteer every week.

It's a long bus ride - 25-30 minutes. I usually read or listen to music.

Somehow, though, it is the main artery of the Mormon Missionary Corridor.

Missionaries get on the bus with the express purpose of chatting to commuters about their faith. It's a captive audience.

In January, I spoke with Elder Clift, a Mormon missionary into his second year of the manditory two-year missionary service. He had his tandem missionary partner with him too, but after boring him for 10 minutes about the frustrations of studying world religions at a graduate level, he was looking over my shoulder at other people who don't know anything about his faith.

Two weeks ago, another missionary got on, solo, but I was boxed in at the back and he didn't get to me.

Today, on the ride home, there were five (!) missionaries standing on the east side of Don Mills road, but I was going south, so I thought I was safe. No. One stop later, four clean-cut (Brigham) young men got on my bus.

I got off at the next stop and waited for the next bus.

I don't have a problem with the Church of Mormon (especially if the ones I saw looked like this), and I don't really have much of a problem with their missionary journeys - in fact, I think it's a great feature to strengthen one's faith - but I just didn't have the energy to talk to folks who might want to educate me. I took multiple courses on North American New Religious Movements, so I'm good, thanks.

So, when I get gloomy and think about how fruitless my hard work for my Master's was, I can take comfort in knowing I know more about Mormons than the average person who rides the 25 bus.

And I guess I can bore Mormons.

Hot dog.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mercy.

(click to enlarge - yeah!)



First Ned, now Ewan? I thought the secular world was supposed to seduce me away from the church, not the other way around!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Jimmy Or Jeremy?

I loved Conan's show. Now he's done and Jimmy Fallon has taken up his mantle. I watched the first show, which was embarassingly awkward, but they've since become simply fantastic.

Jimmy's replayed every day at 5pm, so I've gotten accustomed to watching him.

Now comes my dilemma.

I've written about my love of Top Gear in the past. BBC Canada has switched around their schedule and the once-sporadic Top Gear is now on daily. At 5pm.

Sorry, Jimmy, but I've jumped the pond.

I may not always care about the cars they're reviewing, but I love the way those limey boys do it with style.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Gonna Be On CBC!


Well, sorta. I'm not going to be on CBC. You won't hear my voice.

I wrote a question in to Radio3's weekly countdown of Canadian indie music, the R3:30 a few months ago, and they're going to answer it on-air this Friday! I'm even going to get a "prize pack"!

(I have no idea what this prize pack entails - it could be a mug or a slide whistle or some belly button lint. Actually, I was joking but, now that I think of it, CBC is in a bit of a state, bless them, so lint is probably about right.)

The R3:30 goes out live on Fridays at noon Eastern; streaming online. On Mondays they publish (?) a podcast with highlights. There's no guarantee that I'll be on the Monday podcast, but the question will be read on Friday's show!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

UPEI Unbound!

Bah. My engagement at UPEI has been cancelled. There weren't enough students who signed up.

Well, stink. I was hoping to get out of this city and be home for 2 whole months this summer.

Le sigh.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thanks, Buddy!

I had so much fun last week at my ukulele night.

Each Wednesday is my uke jam night. Every month there's a theme night, and since this month's was on the 18th, the theme was "Luck."

I wanted to tie in a Irish music theme with me being so lucky to have been born in Newfoundland.

I decided to play Buddy Wasisname and the Other Feller's "Song For Newfoundland," a beautiful tune extolling the beauty of our easternmost province.

The crowd for the theme night was bigger than usual; about 45-50. They caught on to the chorus quickly, and I could hear them singing along as I went through the song. It sounded so good, in the last chorus I stopped strumming and we all sang a capella. I got really choked up, hearing a room of (mostly) Torontonians singing that Newfoundland is "home sweet home to me."

It was fantastic, and reminded me that familiarity and affection are not the same thing and I'm not home here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

UPEI Bound!

Things are in the works for me to teach at UPEI this summer.

The course is the 200-level special studies course called "Sights and Sites - From Mecca to Graceland: Spiritual Journeys" and is based on the work I did with my Master's research.

I'll be teaching about secular pilgrimages to places we might not consider spiritual, like PEI, Broadway, or Jim Morrison's grave.

I designed the course a couple of years ago, but then got into college and couldn't teach.

Well, I'll hopefully be teaching. It all depends on if there are enough students. If there isn't high enough enrolment, the class'll be cancelled.

So, folks: spread the word. If you know of someone who needs an elective, tell them about this course.

If anyone wants a syllabus, email me or leave a comment, and I'll send one along.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Compy Dirt Nap.

My compy is well dead. It had sicknesses and noises and reboot coughs.

It's now in at the local and hopefully-not-scheister (but smells like cigarette smoke nonetheless) computer repair shop. I'm kinda afraid they're going to look at it and charge me to tell me it's stone cold busted and there's no way to repair it.
I guess since my generous brother-in-law gave it to me as a hand-me-down and I've only spent about $70 on USB peripheral stuff, I could drop $100 on repairing it. It's still a hell of a lot less than buying a new one.

I'm sad I'm losing photos and all the totally legal songs I have in my iTunes. Oh, well. This life is illusory.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

They Bought It.

On Saturday night, I went to see a live improvised version of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

I was pretty NRVOUS, because, as I told my housemates,

"I tend to hate improv, but I tend to fucking love Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

I liked it, but mostly, I'm sure, because of my undying love for the original.

The improv parts were ok, but the suggestions from the audience were not great, so the performers didn't have a lot to work with. The guy who played Cameron was fantastic, even though, through audience suggestions, his father was Bill Cosby and the Ferrari was the cab from Ghost Dad.

It basically made me think of what my sister and I acted out in our basement.

Ok, we never did that, but we totally could have.

Monday, March 09, 2009

I Surrender.

That photo has been haunting me.

Jason Schwartzman is the newest member of the Husband List.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Now I Can Attempt a Kolvoord Starburst... But Won't.

I am now a regular platelets donor. It's a little different than giving whole blood, and cool.

When you donate platelets, a machine next to you spins your whole blood in a centrifuge, takes the platelets (and a little plasma), and returns everything back to you in the same tube.

It takes a hell of a lot longer. Whole blood usually takes less than 10 minutes, while most people take around 45 to donate platelets. I take more than 60 because my veins are so small! (Today the phlebologist told me my vein was only a little bigger than the 16-gauge (c. 1.65mm) needle they used! Augh!)

The upside of the time sacrifice is being able to donate every 14 days instead of every 56. That's 4 times more donations, which is worth the extra hour a fortnight.

I'm usually pretty emotional about donating, but last time I donated, I got an even bigger reality check. I saw the phlebologist filling out a blue tag and asked her what it was for, since I'd never seen one. She told me it was to identify my donation as bound for SickKids, the Toronto children's hospital. What do I have to moan about, huh?

When you donate whole blood, gravity draws your donation from you, where your 2-unit bag of blood is rocked gently in a cradle on the floor to keep it from clotting.

When you donate with apheresis, the blood is drawn out using pressure. Trust me, this feels cool. It feels uncomfortable if the machine is set to draw more blood than your veins will allow. This is what happens in my case, so while my hematocrit (the amount of solids in blood) is high enough to say I should be done in about 40 minutes, my wee veins makes it go an hour.

You're sat in a loungey chair with a machine next to you which looks positively medieval. There are whirling wheels and multi-coloured tubes, resevoirs, and humming and clicking. Because your blood has to travel so far, a little bit of anti-coagulant is mixed in so it won't seize up. Like a lot of people, I have a reaction to that anti-coagulant. It makes my lips numb and I feel like my entire body is vibrating, like I was strapped to an outboard motor. To remedy this, the nurses make you chew some Tums. It's the calcium! This morning, I had yogurt and milk on cereal, so today my reaction wasn't as servere.

Finally, the ladies and one dude that work in at the apheresis clinic are awesome. Can you imagine trying to find a tiny tube in an opaque hunk of meat by poking it with a needle? That's what these people do for a living, and they're good at it!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Oscars Date.

You might say there are plenty of great men I could take to the Oscars as my date. They're more or less the same.

Oh, are they?

I say no. For years, when I have fantasized about being nominated for an Oscar for my crackerjack screenwriting skillz, I've always known who my Oscar date will be.

Jason Schwartzman is the kind of non-threatening awesome guy who would be a great date.

Here's why:

1) He knows the biz and could make me feel at ease around, say, Bill Murray or Angelica Houston.

2) He's a screenwriter and would be just jealous enough of me to keep the power balanced on the date.

3) The two of us would look hilarious walking down the red carpet; me in my 4-inch heels and him, three apples high.

4) His hair looks so glossy and soft, I can't wait to run my fingers through it when we're fumbling at the Vanity Fair Party.

5) He's a Coppola, so it's like dating royalty.

6) He's a musician and I could introduce him to the Canadian indie scene.

7) He's so flipping handsome, but in an unassuming way. Except in this photo, where he's smokin' hot and looks like my T.



8) Finally, and most importantly, he must be a funny guy. His timing as an actor is genious. I just can't see that not translating to his real life.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Baby Steps.

I'm pleased to announce that I'm getting paid at work now. It's half of what I asked for, and it's only 15 to 20 hours a week, but it's a hell of a lot better than working for free. The co-owners of the place made a point of telling me that I'm not getting paid what I'm worth, which was nice to hear (and oh so true.) I think it's worth sticking it out there, because renewable energy systems are more and more mainstream and demystified.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Post-Oscar Post-Mortem.

Usually, I post before the Oscars with my predictions.

Here's the thing: my computer, while kindly gifted to me by my brother-in-law, is too old to find the wireless internet in my house, so I had to buy this USB-port modem thingie. It worked well enough. It was not aesthetically pleasing.

Well, while downloading a new Zac Efron wallpaper last weekend, I caught it on a bit of furniture and snapped the bugger off. Soldering fell out of the little casing. It was over.

So, I find myself having to beg, borrow, or steal an internet connection. I'm now on B's compy on his last night in town.

As for the Oscars, it was the best one I'd ever seen. Huge Assman did an amazing job hosting, and I was tickled by the format changes.

Here's what I jotted in my notebook on Friday, hoping to get a computer to post my Oscar predictions. This was one of the few years where I chose the winner!

Here's my list (note the tie):

1) Slumdog Millionaire
2) Milk
2) The Reader
4) Frost/Nixon
5) Weekend at Bernie's
6) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Post-amble:

1) A colourful fairytale with a happy ending. And choreographed dancing. A cute boy.
2) A brilliantly performed biopic of a truly inspiring lead character. It is also a great ensemble.
2) I can't decide if this is better than Milk. I go back and forth. The Reader was a visually beautiful, complicated, multi-levelled story of lust, denial, and reading.
4) Don't get me wrong. This is not the fourth-best film. The top four are so great. It is a great suspenseful film, and I love plays to film. This was a carefully-directed character study. Fantastic.
5) Weekend at Bernie's is about two men who molest and carry around a corpse for a weekend. It is awesome.
6) A cloying tale of a tragic man who is born a tiny arthritic prune and lives a full life despite it. He should have been tied in a bag and thrown over a bridge. And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What A Day.

9 years ago today, I was working at Hoyt's Cinema in the collossal mall called Bluewater. It was the opening weekend for Toy Story 2 so I was running around, cleaning up swimming pools worth of spilled popcorn, emptying garbage bins, and making an hourly gross of lattes in the cafe (I could make a foam you could stand a spoon up in). I was dead tired, but happy to be making my ₤5 an hour.

Oh, to be employed again...

Today, I spent the morning with B, my oldest friend. Then, I went to volunteer in the afternoon, and then had a meal and dance party with T.

I can't think of a better way to spend a day. What a way to start a decade!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now.

It was a year ago today I got my eyes zapped. I'm still so thrilled about it, and especially now since winter is nasty and glasses steam up and contacts dry out. It was scary, but it was worth it!

Bird's Eye View.

I thought this video was well done, and it is:

(Adele's Chasing Pavements)


But today, this was featured on YouTube:

(Oren Lavie's Her Morning Elegance)


I appreciate the work and planning that would have gone into these choreographies.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Inertia!

I love watching the grey melted snow slurry wash back and forth along the grooves in the streetcar floors as the driver speeds up and stops. It's soothing.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinny, Chin, Chin.

I forgot to tell the story of my housemate L and her early-morning visit to Emerg.

My housemates threw a Hallowe'en party last year. I had to go to bed early because I had to write a test for the government early the next morning.

When I got home, mid-morning the next day, I found that my housemates had just gotten back from the hospital!

It turns out my housemate L, who is famous for her ability to sleep n'importe d'ou, n'importe de quand, got ready for sleep in the wee hours, went to bed, but then decided to make one last trip to the bathroom.

She must have been asleep, we have decided.

Well, she fell as she walked down the hall, and evidently didn't put out her arms to break for fall. Her chin took the brunt of the force.

My other two housemates heard the noise and went into the hall to find L, stunned, lying in a widening puddle of blood.

They soaked a couple of towels with blood and decided it wasn't going to stop on its own, so got a cab and raced to Emergency.

L got 6 stitches in her split chin. (I think she could have taken a 7th.) It was gory. I saw a cellphone picture of the split once it was cleaned up, and it honestly looked like another mouth.

While she was healing, we all reserved the right to tease her. We called her a lot of names, but my favourites are Gashley Olsen, and the inspired, genius, artful... Chinneth Falltrow.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ugh. Really? Benjamin Button?

Gah. Now I have to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Thanks for nothing, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I assume it's something about boxes of chocolates and Lieuts. Dan.

Ok, that's flip. I don't want to see it because it looks like it's trying to hard to be an "Oscar film."

Hook, line, and sinker.

So, for the noms for Best Picture, I'm on my way. Tomorrow I'm going to see Slumdog Millionaire, which I've been trying to see for a while. Today, I saw The Reader, which was very good, indeed. I'd already seen Milk and Frost/Nixon. I liked them both very much. Both were far more suspenseful than I thought they would be.

I also saw Waltz With Bashir, which is at times beautiful, rarely funny, visually interesting, and, in the end, chilling. It was strange to see a subtitled film that I didn't know the language at all. Bashir is Israeli, and I think the only word I could make out was the Hebrew for "Lebanon." If you're a war/history buff, this might be for you, but bring a zip-loc of prozac with you.

I was sorry to see Happy-Go-Lucky so under-represented on the nominee list.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Voiceprint, Here I Come.

So, hurrah!

I passed my audition with Voiceprint, the broadcaster who records people reading Canadian newspaper articles, so starting next week, I have a weekly date to go in and read!

I have an hour to go over the articles, and then I go into the booth to record them. I'm glad they're not live, because if I trip up, I can start the sentence again and the engineer can stitch it together.

Really, I'm looking forward to the practice. Early next week, I'm going to go record my demo for commercial voice work. I hope it goes well.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Uke Support Group.

Last night was the inaugural meeting of the Corktown Ukulele Jam. It's where the Ukies meet!

One of the girls in the group said it's probably how people with odd sexual perversions feel when they find a chatroom filled with other pervs.

(I would never pretend there's anything sexy about a uke. A uke is the opposite: Wholesome, pure joy that you can share with kids and geezers and everyone in between. Sorry. That somehow sounds like a multi-generational orgy invite. How did that happen!? Damn!)

Anyhow...

Now I've found a support group! I walked into a room of about 30 (!) people with the coolest collection of ukuleles I've ever seen. Actually, the people were all really cool, too. They were so funny and talented.

There was a big spread of age, athough I'd say the average was probably about 10 years older than me. There were almost as many women as men.

There was open mic, and people sang and played. One guy's picking was amazing. I need to learn!

It seems there's a lot of nostalga in the uke world to play olde Tin Pan Alley ditties, but I don't know them. I've spent more time playing Ben Folds, Elton John, and Joel Plaskett.

Anyhow, it's so cool to me to have a place to go once a week and jam with other uke players. You know I've only ever met one other uke player since I started in June?

Well, it was a thrill to be there, and I'm looking forward to it being a weekly date.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Man Alive, It Was Grim.

Know what I have a hate on for? The Norwalk Virus.

Norwalk and I had a tango on Sunday. One of my housemates was sick early all Saturday morning, but we thought it was food poisoning, so maybe I didn't take all the precautions I could have.

By late Sunday morning, I was dizzy and weak, but it was in the afternoon that it all let go and my body started to voilently reject all the fluids it held.

It was bad for about 8 hours, and then I slept my face off. I can't believe how much it took out of me, though. Having a much-needed shower on Monday winded me, and putting my pajamas in the washer made me have to nap.

I think today, three full days later, I'm feeling almost 100%, and I think I have an appetite again. I've been psychotically thirsty for three days, interspersed with strange pastrami cravings. (?)

I have heard stories of Norwalk on cruise ships. That's horrifying. Horrifying!

Monday, January 05, 2009

A New Years Treat For You.

I wasn't super hot on the song "The Old Prince Still Loves At Home" by Shad when it was on R3-30 on CBC Radio 3, but now that I've seen the video, my mind is changed. It's very savvy.