Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Ready To Move.

I move back to Toronto in another week. I'm having mixed feelings, as one might expect. It's always difficult for me to leave Prince Edward Island. It really is very lovely here, even in the "off-season." Some people find it too small, but I think I'd be pretty happy living here.

I've mentioned it before, but there's nothing that compares to the smell of this Island. Maybe there's a smack of salt in the air, or more pasture-to-lung capacity ratio, I don't know. I know that when I smell manure, I don't turn up my nose, but I think of UPEI. See, UPEI's campus is adjacent to the Atlantic Veterinary College, and when the wind is just right, you can smell the barns. It doesn't smell bad. It smells like home.

I knew moving home to PEI for four months would be dangerous. This island is addictive. To say it has charm might seem demeaning, but there is palpable charm here. People still look out the window when they hear a siren go by.

Sometimes, though, the Island drives me crazy. Church communities are still very strong, so it is sometimes frustrating. Also, the Island has only become what might be by any stretch of the imagination "diverse" in the last decade, so you'll hear comments that you'd never hear anywhere else.

There's very little anonymity here. Not being able to feel alone is sometimes an asset, and sometimes drives me absolutely batty. Here, I am still introduced as my father's daughter. It makes it difficult to be your own person sometimes. Happily, my father enjoys a good reputation on the Island, so I can use that to my advantage, too, if I want to.

Still, Toronto beckons for now. If I don't get into U of T this fall, it'll be difficult for me to justify staying for the summer, unless I get a job. Loving my friends who live in the Big Smoke and loving to play ukulele in a big, happy uke community are not good enough reasons for me to flush money down the toilet every month. Not really, you know? Well, who knows what 2011 will hold. Hopefully schooling, and hopefully in Toronto.

Big thanks to Thea C. for the beautiful PEI pics.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Culture & Heritage.

I hope I have established a new Christmas Eve tradition for myself.

Last night was the first annual Christmas Eve viewing of Hot Tub Time Machine.

While it is flawed, it is also very funny. It is not, of course, a Christmas movie, but it's wintry and festive and there's a lot of cocaine. Come on.

AND: you get to witness the delayed awesomeness of Crispin Glover getting dismembered. Awesome.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thar She Blows.

PEI has been buffeted by a wicked nor'easter for the last three days. There are some places on the North Shore that have lost over 10 feet off the shoreline, and many bridges are now impassible because they've been so undermined.

I live across the Hillsborough River from the Charlottetown, and traversing the bridge in my mother's minivan, I felt a bit like a bobbling cork. The water was so rough, the riverbed churned the whole body of water into a rusty mess, with frothy whitecaps jostling to fight their way under the narrow gap under the bridge.

Even now, at 6pm, the wind in howling. I am going to visit a friend tonight, and once again I'm going to be soaked to the skin again. On the way in to the hospital this afternoon (to volunteer, ne t'enquiete pas), I had to walk at a 45 degree angle to the wind and rain. My umbrella even collapsed. Bah.

Well, it's meant to snow in the next couple of days, not quite in time for Christmas, but I don't really care. We're meant to get 15cm on the 27th, so at least there'll be a little bit of winter here before I go back to TO.

I just hope this storm ends soon. I live on a glorified sandbar, so we can't take too much of this. Thank goodness it's not below freezing, or there would be a huge mess.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Thanks, Matisyahu!

Finally, a truly catchy Hanukkah song!



Happy Hanukkah to my chosen friends!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Elegance.

This is one of the most spellbinding bits of video I've seen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Welcome To The 20th Century, Prince Edward Island!

Wow. The Legislature of Prince Edward Island has voted to allow year-round Sunday shopping.

Sunday shopping. This has been debated about for decades. Literally decades.

It was said that year-round Sunday shopping is unfair to small business owners. They'd have to pay workers for another day, or lose business to their competitors who were open on Sunday.

Don't think for a minute it's out of consideration for the small business owner. It is maybe one percent about the small business owner. The small business owner is a scapegoat, or, more bluntly, an excuse.

For years, Sunday shopping has been allowed in the summer when the godless heathens come to throw their shekels at the golden calf of relaxation, but only up until the end of Christmas, 'cause clearly that's what Jesus would do: buy little Jimmy a $100 plastic Transformers toy and a synthetic fleece housecoat.

This is the centuries-old Sunday-is-a-day-of-rest crap that makes Prince Edward Island the smallest but staunchest Bible Belt in Canada. I don't care who says it's somewhere in the Prairies. It's not. It's here. Here, in the one of the last provinces to legalize gay marriage (and still saw a gay couple almost murdered last month when their home was set on fire). The power of the voting public who also happen to be backward, ignorant hicks should not be underestimated here at home (not just south of the 49th).

The upside is, churches bind together small communities and there's something romantic these days about a parish connection, isn't there?

Well, we now have year-round Sunday shopping. Take that, Holy See!
(Just 'cause it's pretty. And Fabricville will be open on Sundays in March now.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Portmanteaux.

Just a little light-hearted note, since it seems all I want to write about these days is deeply divisive:

I love portmanteaux. A portmanteau is a word made up of two words crammed together. Really common examples are "smog" and "workaholic."

I like the ones that are like "smog" the most - the ones which blend together seamlessly because they share one sound. I was proud of myself a few days ago when I dubbed the rash on my neck my "neckzema." Ah... wordplay releases endorphins. That feels good.

While I love the idea of Movember and applaud its purpose (and facial hair), it is not a good portmanteau. Moustache begins with "must" sound and November's beginning rhymes with "cove," so it's not great, unless you just say that the blend is just the very first sound of moustache, and then it's just a weak blend.

(Anyhow, that's been sticking in my craw for the last 3 weeks.)

Right. Off to statistics class. Off to crunch numbers. Imaginary, imprecise numbers.

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Few Words About Civic Duty.

We're coming up on Remembrance Day, a big day in my books. It breaks my heart every year.

I'm afraid, though, that the day is more likely to be seen as a "day off." People may forget that we're excused from work and school to pay a tribute. A whole day off doesn't come easy in Canada. We have very few state holidays, and how many can you name that aren't centred around the Christian calender? It is clearly for an important reason.

I encourage you to find your local cenotaph which is hosting a ceremony on Thursday and go to the services. If it's hard, good - it's not meant to be easy. It might not be convenient or make you feel good to mourn with your country, but it's important to do so. In person. Don't sleep the morning away. Put on your coat, your poppy, and take part in a unique way to show your patriotism.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hot Downward Dog.

I've been trying out hot yoga this month. There is a studio in town that offers a $40 month-long unlimited package for new clients. Since each session is $16, I'll have saved money if I go three times, so why not? I must have to give it that many tries before I can really know if I like it or not anyway.

Well, hot yoga is the freshest brand of hippie hell. It's also awesome. I'm pretty torn about it. The yoga itself is pretty elementary, but doing it in a room set to 32 celsius.

Within one minute, sweat is pouring off me. My pigtails are dripping, my eyes are stinging with salt, and there's no grip left in my sweaty palms.


If you have to ask if this is a picture of me, you don't know me very well.


In my first session I had to step out of the room for a while because I felt like if I didn't I might pass out. I was down in child's pose and couldn't get a decent breath of air, even if I turned my head. It felt like I was breathing in and out of a shoebox. Really, I was probably just shorting out my body's ability to maintain homeostasis because the air in the room was likely nearing body temperature.

I'm not sure if it's as good as a workout as people might think. I suspect we think it's a good workout because of all the sweating, and usually, sweating means good activity, but it's there somewhat artificially.

I don't buy all the "sweat out your toxins" stuff. I'm pretty sure sweat is just water and some salts and some other trace minerals.

This isn't to say it's not beneficial at all. It is a good activity, yoga, and being all warm and cozy and sweaty isn't exactly unpleasant, but I don't see the heat as essential. It's a good novelty, I think.

I've had a cold the last few days so I haven't been back in over a week. I want to be able to take a good deep breath without coughing before I head back into that workout.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Frost On The Pumpkins.

I went out to the front porch today to get the paper and lingered just to take in the beautiful morning. The title of this post is not very true-to-life. It's unusually warm here this morning, but the air still has a damp chill to it. It felt... Scottish. You know: that kind of rising cold damp that gets into your bones.

Every fall the maple by the hedge we share with our good neighbours the MacDonalds bursts into the most surprisingly bright orange. We've caught people taking pictures of it! Today, a gust of wind blew through that tree and I got to watch a shower of those leaves fly over the yard. The burning bush is also alight. It keeps its leaves much longer, and its colour is magnified because it's right next to the glossy green of the holly bush.

The Town is installing town water, so the street is just healing up from all the digging. It meant that when I arrived home there were gashes of bright red clay on the margins of my street. They've since all been covered over with new sods.

Roadworks are a major problem on PEI. Our asphalt shifts and heaves every spring. The Island doesn't have much bedrock to speak of. It's mostly sandstone, which is basically just compressed sand. That means that it's easily broken and shifted by water that freezes down in the cracks. So, in the spring when all the ice melts, the ground is closer to sand than stone and it dances around under the roadworks, dragging it around with it. Potholes are so common, we don't even blink here. In fact, PEIslanders laugh when we drive off the Island and we encounter a bump sign on a road. Usually, we can barely feel it!

Right. I'm off topic. Maybe I never had one.

The Island is wonderful in the fall. Sure, the cold wind whips over the hill that UPEI is sat on something wicked, but it's all worth it. Too bad the tourists don't stay to see this.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bold Move.

Kids, I've been thinking about my Husband List (tm).

Ages ago, and with some wise councel, I decided that there's nothing wrong with including gay men on my List. After all, I'm missing the point if I don't understand that it's not the specific men on my list that I wish to marry, but rather their collective features of wit, skill, personal compatibility, and, risking shallowness, attractiveness.

So, what I decided was: I can allow myself one gay member of my HL. For years now the sitting member of the Gay Council on my Husband List has been Neil Patrick Harris.

I've been doing some soul searching about this. NPH is fantastic. Fabulous, one might say. He is incredibly talented, funny, well-spoken, and an attractive young man, if you like that buffed and waxed sort. Plus, he does magic.

Still, for a long-term relationship, I don't think "toothsome" would get through to my old age. Mentally formidable would. I think I'd rather sit down with Stephen Fry and eschew the chance to perfect ballroom routines with Neil.

Stephen Fry makes me want to write more. And write better. Be more thoughtful and artful with words.


Maybe NPH will have to take a back seat until I change my mind again (which I inevitably will).

Last year, when Craig Ferguson decided to experiment with the format of regular late-night talk shows, he invited Fry to be his one guest for the evening, absolutely without an audience. It was a little like Charlie Rose, and a little like Tom Snyder in the '90s. It was also genius. Someone's kindly posted it on YouTube.

All this, and I'm not even mentioning Fry & Laurie.

Still, the video below that I happened upon this summer, proved to me that eloquence still exists in our world.


The Intelligence² Debate - Stephen Fry (Unedited)
Uploaded by Xrunner17. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Clever!

I'm in the market for a new iPod, and there's a nifty new generation out there that I've got my eye on.I have an old Nano. I got it for my birthday in 2007. It's almost 4 years old and it is a little creaky. It's a 2GB, which today is laughable. My toothbrush has more memory than that.

The new Nano is as much as $189 for 16GB! Say whaaaa? I'm sure my folks paid about that for my Flinstones model I've been using for three sets of earphones now.

I went on the Apple website to see what the poop was on these new ones. Once you select a colour (crazy kids!), the next page you see asks you what you want engraved on your brand-spankin' new iPod. Careful, it warns you in small print: double-check your spelling! Engraved iPods can't be returned!

Ahhh. Well played, Apple. Respect.

Up the chances that your customers will void return eligibility by making a vanity option free.

Nice.

What would I have engraved? "Thug Life"? Is that your guess? Yeah, you're probably right.

Anyhow, since my old iPod is creaky but still works, I'm in no place to drop $200 on a new gadget. Even if I were gainfully employed, it's not in my nature.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Don't Force It.

Is anyone else over Glee?

I think last week's Britney Spears debacle was the nail in the coffin. Now I'm watching some superficial quick-and-tidy debate about spirituality and the hot guy who used to have a Mohawk is now singing "Only the Good Die Young" as some sort of argument that Judaism is "right?" I'm thoroughly exhausted by this quirky show, and it came on so quickly, I don't know why I didn't see it coming.

And I flipping love "Only the Good Die Young." And it is a great fit for the guy who knocked up the president of the Wait Until Marriage 'Cause God Sez So Club, but shoehorned into a debate over faith? Hm. I don't think so. It's a little too pat.

Now the atheist Curt's father is in a coma. I shudder to predict that the steadfast atheist is going to suddenly jump on the Jesus Train. I hope he sticks to it. (That being said, teenage faith is sometimes a fickle fellow.)

Finally, just to assure you all that it's not the roiling atheist in me getting her back up about this one ham-fisted episode of Glee, let me return once again to my lip-synching peeve. I am utterly at a loss as to why why WHY lip-synchers touch their tongues to their upper lip, outside their mouths, for the sound "l." It looks awful, it feels unnatural, and looks like ridiculous grandstanding.

Wow. Now she's singing Yentl.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mercy.

Where has this video been all my life?



Maybe NBC would have never let Conan do something like this...

I'm a little concerned that we in Eastern Canada aren't going to be able to see Conan's new show on TBS. I think I'll have to rely on downloading it in torrents. UPDATE: The Comedy Network will carry Conan's show starting in November. Rawk.

And, might I add, that I am thrilled Conan is keeping the beard. Is this news to anyone at all?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Radio 2, I Love You.

Growing up, CBC Radio 2 was the lamest of all radio channels. It played classical music almost exclusively, and the only time I tuned in was if it happened to be Saturday morning and I really had a hankerin' for Vinyl Cafe.

A couple of years ago, there was a much-ballyhooed format change at Radio 2. Well, not a total format change, a la that of WKRP mythology.

It still plays classical through most of the day, but the big difference was the morning show and the afternoon/evening drive program. They program a mix of music like I've never heard. It's like there's no genre, but the only qualifier is that is has to be good. I've heard Shad to mambo to Cee Lo to Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson and then to Arcade Fire in one set.

This morning while I was in the shower, they played Joel Plaskett's "Through & Through & Through," a song that you don't hear enough on the radio. Bob Mackowycz, the morning host, said that if Tom Petty was from Nova Scotia, he would be called Joel Plaskett, and then described him as "a heartbreaker in a lobster bib." Come on! Who doesn't fall in love with a host who says things like that?

If that's not convincing enough, they've got Rich Terfry on the Radio 2 Drive show in the afternoons. He's just returning from a tour under his stage name, Buck 65. He was a radio host back in Nova Scotia, and is great.

I don't know if it's the hosts who are responsible for the programming of these shows, but the music mix is exceptional. Kudos.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Starry. Starry Night.

I got home to my folks' place last night at about midnight.

I stepped out of the car and looked up to see the Little Dipper, clear as I've ever seen it.

I know I wouldn't ever be able to say that about my place in Toronto.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Kidding.

I'm totally kidding. You're a ruralist for thinking all we do is go cow tipping.

Now go hop on a streetcar to your big city orgy, you hipster.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Naughty Blogger.

I haven't posted since I moved home. Naughty me.

It seems like a lot has gone on since I got here, three and a half weeks ago. Here's what's in my immediate future:

In the early morning I have to put on multiple loads of laundry and hope everything is dry by a) my phonetics class at 3pm, or b) work at the Confederation Centre box office at 5pm.

While my first load of darks is agitating, I have to march through the Island dew to the shed and remove dead mice from the newly-baited traps I set yesterday. There are sure to be at least one. I hope they held up well under that sprung arm of death. I hate mopping up mice.

So, briefly, here's the scoop on SCHOOL: I wasn't able to get my pre-recs waived for Developmental Psychology, so I had to register at Athabasca, which is fine, I guess, but I'm not keen on taking more distance courses. In the meantime, I am in Phonetics (with a friend, happily), and Statistics, which I've already taken, but I expect a challenge because of the professor's teaching style. (Am I being too cryptic? I'm just trying to be charitable.)

WORK: I've been poached by the Box Office (BO Brigade) from the Front of House department at the Confed. It's a little weird and I had some pangs of being a traitor, but really, it's not better or worse, it's just very different. I like that we spend most of our shifts sitting down since my feet are so bad, but we don't get too see the shows. It's only going to be busy until Hairspray closes.

VOLUNTEERING: Phew. What a struggle. So, the gig I lined up here on the Island turned out to have about an hour a week available. They deal primarily with pre-school kids. Anyhow, I have a lot more time than that to give, so I was disappointed. I called the school board, which is restructuring and in a period of flux (read: chaos), and also the hospital, and eventually landed 2 hours a week in the Speech-Language Department. It's a big help and very interesting to see the hospital side of things - lots of stroke patients, so it's much more focused on swallowing and less on communication (although that is certainly a part of the rehabilitation).

FAM: My Mum and Dad are in Newfoundland right now, hence the mousetrap duties. Before they left, my sister was here with her husband and uncommonly cute daughter. My sister was really sick when she was here, which blows.

WEDDINGS: In my first week home, I attended 2 weddings in 5 days. One had more guests but was loosey-goosey, and the other was more intimate and traditional. It's hard to have a small wedding on PEI, so I was so honoured to be invited to the latter. It's so nice to see people matched up. I played my uke and sang a song at the first wedding. It was lieu of a reading, mentioned in an earlier post. I didn't make too much of a mess of it, but but was I nervous. It was someone's wedding, after all.

Off to bed - laundry and mouse disposal in the morning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Te-ra, Corktown.

Last night was my last uke jam before going home to PEI for 4 months. People are so sweet to me. At the jam, I'm at the List Mistress (or Listress), so I do the stage management for the bigger nights, and just let the MC know who is playing next on the smaller nights. Through this, I've met a lot of the regulars at the jam, and I guess I've become a bit of a fixture, because they were super awesome to me last night.

A big group of them got up and sang a Mark Haines song to me. The song was called "On My Way" and it was all about moving home to Prince Edward Island!

Another one, Margaret Mulligan, made a print for me of a uke player, all framed and lovely!

Well, I got lots of hugs and a request to play. Happily, I have been rehearsing a song, because instead of reading at the wedding that I mentioned 2-3 posts ago, I'm now singing and accompanying myself. Sure, why not, said the groom, who is a maniac and adventuresome and I love it. So many people micromanage their weddings, then this guy comes along. He doesn't even know what song I'm performing! He didn't ask!!! I joked it would be this:

I wish.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Night Moves.

The city smells like a basement apartment tonight. Way too damp and sickly sweet.

I'm always surprised how few kooks are out at 1am on a Monday morning.

A Short Exchange:

Dude in bandanna crossing Queen West to get to me: "Do you have a couple of quarters I have bum off you?"

Me, lying, waiting at a streetcar stop: "Sorry, no. All I have is a [streetcar] token."

[Streetcar approaches, less than a block away.]

Dude i.b.c.Q.W.t.g.t.m., almost ready to pass but heads back towards me: "Oh! You have a token? Can I get it off you?"

Me, finding this ridiculously transparent: "Sweetheart, no. I need it."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Follicular Fortnight.

One of my greasy spoon buddies (yeah, I have a greasy spoon posse) told me about Jon Stewart's goatee before I got a chance to see it myself.

I got out of the habit of watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. It all happened when I when I went back to school in May. I thought I'd ease into a nocturnal life, sleeping late, and taking my news the way most undergrads do: from the hallowed halls of Comedy Central.

Anyhow, when one of my favourite boys decided not to callously cull his facial hair and I missed its unveiling, I was most disappointed with myself.

And now it's gone now, Jon's goatee. (Or, more properly, people, it was a Van Dyke - it had a mustache.) Two weeks. Two thin weeks and 8 short episodes, Jon was in his beard period.

Now, briefly, and hopefully not stepping on the toes of a future post pontificating on the values of beards, I will say this:

I am generally of the school of "Go Big or Go Home" when it comes to beards. Shaving parts of a beard is basically being half-assed clean-shaven, in my books.

Still, for someone who emulates an news anchor in looks if not in content, I like Stewart's chutzpah at returning from vacation with some extra hair. [No, I didn't purposely use a Yiddish word because it's Stewart - I just use that word. Broaden your vocabularies, y'all. Nu.]

Facial hair is verboten [yeah, now some German - chew on that!] for these be-suited men, as verboten as it is for politicians to wear full beards. When Letterman and Conan wore beards in solidarity with striking writers, it made news. As well it should have - Conan's was a crimson blaze of glory - and I'm very pleased he grew it back for his unemployment/road show earlier this year. In fact, last month when Craig Ferguson wore sneakers and later just a tee-shirt under his blazer, he intimated that it was a bit of a coup.

Well, farewell, Jon Stewart's Van Dyke. We hardly knew ye. You stood for something bigger than yourself - you railed against the status quo, if only for a while. I salute you.

Stay tuned for my treatise on why beards are good 'n stuff.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Come-Down.

I am finished. Finished of school for the summer.

I wrote my Physiology final yesterday morning, after not much sleep and not enough studying.

I don't really know how well I did. It's so hard to say, since it was multiple choice and they do their best to confuse you (or test your intimate knowledge, whatever).

There was one question, for example, that asked us to identify the correct statement about the placenta. I quickly was able to cross out three of the options (e.g.: "the placenta allows a direct connection between the mother's and the fetus' blood"), but I was left with two that might have been ok. One of them was, "the placenta begins to produce estrogen and progesterone 6 weeks after implantation." Now, I remembered that this (disgusting) organ starts to produce hormones at about 6 weeks, but I couldn't remember which ones. This is where they get you: it sounds right, but what if the actual hormones are estrogen and any other of the billions of hormones in the human body?

Anyhow, I followed my gut and chose that one anyway, hoping those were the hormones, and after looking it up, I was right!

Unfortunately, I only remember approximately 2 other questions from the 87-question exam, so I can't look any more of them up.

I walked away from the exam, sat behind Convocation Hall and called home. I told my mother I felt like having a cry - not because I was upset, but I needed an outlet for all my nerves. I was shaky during the exam itself from all the adrenaline (a catecholemine, produced in the medulla of the adrenal gland, of course).

Another annoying fact I picked up in this epic class is, heightened levels of cortisol, a hormone released while stressed, impairs your immune system. Since I've been jacked up on cortisol for a couple of weeks now, I expect to get a cold any second now.















The courtyard where I studied for hours and hours.
Two hours.

My back and neck are really sore from being bent over a desk and from schlepping my books back and forth from campus for weeks. I am going to spend the next week recovering mentally and physically, relaxing with my uke and reading Scott Pilgrim (joiner alert!). Then I have to pack up my stuff for storage and get home to PEI for four months.

All I know is: our bodies are amazing. Amazing and disgusting.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Suggestions?

I've been asked to do a reading at a friend's wedding this summer.

Oh, and I have to select the reading. Yeah.

I'm totally up for this, but it's a bit of a challenge. We Sweets are not "wedding people," so I don't have a catalog of romantic verses (Biblical or otherwise) on hand.

Another problem is, I haven't even met the bride and I haven't seen my friend, the groom, in about 5 years. I know (at least the last time I talked to him) that he was very religious (Christian), so I assume he still is, and I assume she is, too.

Still, it's going to be an outdoor wedding, I think. The groom is very "outdoorsy" (no doubt what he would put on an on-line dating profile if he hadn't already snagged a wife).

The reading does not have to be from the Bible. Poems and prose are game, too.

No cussin'. No smut. (I know, I know... no juicy stuff from Song of Songs.)

Help?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Up North."

Earlier this week my good friend T invited me up to his family's cottage. I packed up my ukulele and my textbooks and took off.

It really is nice to get out of the city. Although I don't have to leave the house a lot these days, the heat is getting really oppressive. It's been a couple of weeks now that we've had highs of high-20s/low 30s with insane humidexes. Our house is fairly cool, thanks mostly to an enormous maple tree out back that partially shades us. Still, when the thermostat reaches around 27 and my brain starts to cook, I cave and put on the AC.

Well, it was nice for a couple of days to be on a lake with the breeze and be able to go for a dip. I even got a little bit of a sunburn. This shouldn't be a total shock to anyone who knows me and my lilywhite ass, but it might be surprising since I usually have a slow IV drip of SPF 60.

I guess I didn't have to take my vitamin D tablets that day.

So, I have one more week before my next Physiology exam. It's on the respiratory and renal systems. Both are very interesting, but I will eat my hat if I have to know the solute filtration rate of a kid with a speech impediment. "So, I hear you have a lateral lisp, there, Timmy. If you can just pee in this cup, we can start your session!" Most of the other systems I can see connections, and of course renal heath is inextricably linked to overall health, but in my selfish SLP-prep mind, it's hard to make connections.

Off to start my day. Happy summer, everyone!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hot And Bothered.

Current Weather Updated: Thursday, July 8, 2010, 10:00 EDT - Pearson Airport

A  few clouds

30°C

A few clouds
Christ on a cracker. When will this heat let up? I guess not for another week, save Friday when some rain is going to drop the temperature to a frigid 25°.

I have put on the air conditioning, which I hate for many reasons. I was feeling woozy and I have a lot of Physiology lectures to get through today, so I thought I'd treat myself.

Last night we didn't put on the air conditioning, and I was a delirious, hallucinating mess. When I went to bed at 12:30am, the temperature outdoors in 29°. I woke up sticky, drugged, and with my head at the foot of the bed. Normally, I'd call that the results of a good night out. Not this morning.

Last summer was very mild. Comfortable, even. The only other time I've experienced heat like this was the summer of 2005 when I was trapped in Sodom. Sodom? No... that's not what it was called... Hamilton! It was called Hamilton. That summer, I went to see War of the Worlds just to sit in air conditioning for two hours. War of the Worlds! And it was worth it!

Ok, back to the Respiratory System.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sweet Nothings: Now In 3D!

Just kidding. The only way this could be in 3D was if it were in Braille.

Is 3D such a big stinkin' deal? There seems to have been a lot of movies have been delayed this year to make them into 3D. That is, they weren't originally filmed in 3D and required a legion of code monkeys to toil in a dark programming dungeon to draw relief out of 2D.

I saw Avatar in 3D. It was a cool effect. I heard an interview (possibly with Cameron himself) talking about how old 3D was really extreme and uncomfortable. I remember this was true, when, as a child, I saw a 3D movie and it made me feel ill. The newer 3D is more subtle and you don't notice it as much, just like we don't overthink being able to see depth in real life.

Still (and I know I risk sounding like an old codger), do we need it?

I think the point of a movie is to be told a story. Yes, of course the visuals are important in filmmaking, but the advent of films didn't bury the novel, did it?

Apparently film studios see 3D as some sort of panacea for their income woes. They can charge theatres more to screen their films and the theatres pass on that cost to us.

Do I want to see The Green Hornet? Yes. Do I care if it's in 3D? Yes, I do, because if I have a choice between paying $6 at the cheap theatre or $16 at some Flick Colosseum, sure's shootin' I'm gonna save $10. I will purposefully avoid the 3D version. Even if I had the extra money, I don't think I'd see that as good value.

(The Green Hornet, by the way, was meant to be released this summer but the studio, in its infinite wisdom gave the release date to Grown Ups, which looks abysmal. And if you had a choice for a "summer blockbuster" between an action flick with lots of 'splosions or a comedy full of actors past their sell-by date, which better fits the bill? Then the GH was meant to be released for Christmas, but it's been delayed again into 2011 to - you guessed it - make it into 3D!)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happy Canada Day.

I've been sitting out on our sunny deck, brewing some Vitamin D and studying for my upcoming Physiology exam. (Yes, another one - they're every 3 weeks.)

Somewhere in my neighbourhood there's a live reggae band playing. They moved from "Stir It Up" into a cheery version of "O Canada."

I find myself reveling in this Canada Day. Enjoying the sun and breeze, sitting in Little India while listening to an island band play rasta "O Canada." That's pretty darn Canadian.

I love it here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What A Week...

Damn. Has it only been 7 days since I wrote last?

Three major things:
1) Stats is done
2) New uke
3) Toronto's on fire


1) I wrote my Stats final. It was as difficult as I as I expected, but I can't really say I aced it or bombed it. I just have to wait until the final grades are released. I'm a little nervous, but I did really well on my midterm, so it buys me some leeway.

2) I bought myself a new ukulele. It's a little different than the standard soprano I was budgeting for - a factory second of a longneck soprano became available, so for a little extra dosh I have a soprano-bodied uke with a concert-length neck, i.e. more frets. That's great, since I'm getting better all the time, and I'm able to play up the neck quite a bit now. With my standard soprano, though, my hand get mashed up against the body of the uke at even a barred B (on the 6th fret).

Anyhow, I'm really wound up about it. It should arrive this week. I am so pleased with myself to have saved for over a year. It's very satisfying.

It was cool talking to the guy in Hawaii. He had the greatest accent. It's very soft, and sounds a little like a Canadian native accent, but more Pacific, if that's an adjective. And he pronounced it "oo-koo-lay-lay" and "ook" instead of "you-ka-lay-lee" and "youk." I asked him to forgive my mainlander pronunciation, but I'd sound like a poser if I said it his way. I think he liked me.

3) The G20 is underway here in Toronto, and what an effing shitstorm it is. It's so gutting to see the damage these scumbags are doing. (I'm surprising myself with feelings of "my city!") I hate that most times the media lump all the marching people together as "protesters." The legit protesters aren't running around smashing stores, lighting fires, digging up cobblestones to throw at police, and scaring regular Torontonians.

I was at a friend's condo at College and Yonge for the US-Ghana World Cup match, but we didn't watch any of the game. I was with three journalists (one being the oft-mentioned friend M), two of which work for the CBC. One had itchy feet and said he had to get out into it. He took a camera and his phone and headed down Yonge. He called a few minutes later to say a mob was storming up Yonge, and they'd laid waste to Yonge and Dundas Square. We looked out the balcony and heard them before we saw them.

Here's what I heard: it sounded like a thwang of an arrow being released from a bow, but deeper, louder. I thought maybe they were throwing stuff at streetcar cables, because it sounded like a deep resonance of a tight cable being struck with a hammer. But there are no streetcar cables on Yonge. I had no idea what it was. Then the shattering started. It sounded like dozens of story-tall storefront windows were being destroyed. That's exactly what it was.

Then I put it together - the thwang was the sound of a huge pane of glass being struck but not yet breaking. It was the glass buckling and recoiling, and punching out a burst of sound energy. It was so menacing and ominous.

The mob of black-clad assholes came into view a moment later. They surged into the usually-busy intersection and targeted a Starbucks that was on the north-west corner. People were still inside when they smashed the windows. I suspect they went in and smashed from the inside because there were suddenly chairs and a table being used to smash the glass. I even saw one prick throw something at Fran's window. "Not Fran's!" said M. (Fran's is a Toronto landmark - Glenn Gould ate there early every morning.)

They continued west to Queen's Park and were out of view, but that's where the police all headed, and where the mounted units were. People were worried because four major hospitals are very close to there, including SickKids.

So, my friend on the street called in every few minutes to fill us in, my other friend would tweet what he was telling us, CBC would pick up what she was tweeting and broadcast it! I guess they're a reliable source, being employees. M and I would describe what we were seeing out the window and she would monitor the computer.

We saw a coach pull up and c. 50 police in riot gear get out and stand in formation. We saw panicked crowds running east. We saw a Canadian Blood Services van idling for a long time, as if poised for a triage centre.

The TTC was not running, so I got a cab home after things seemed to calm down. The thing is, we were quite north in the city, so we didn't expect to see what we saw. Yes, College and Yonge is still downtown, but relatively north, really, especially considering where the G20 convention is actually taking place - way down on Front Street.

I'm nervous more shit'll go down today, but I live way over in Little India, quite east. I'm not nervous for myself, but for others and for the city.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Last Hurrah.

My Stats final is Wednesday. I'm having a hard time focussing. I have 3 full days to study, but I have a very ominous feeling that I'm royally boned.

My study partner and I had a very fruitless day yesterday. It felt like we were just going around in circles.

I wish they were these circles:Thanks to Liam for the heads-up on this one!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Surreal Uke Night.

Imagine you were in some sort of cello club and Yo Yo Ma casually walked in the door. Or if at your rec soccer league, David Beckham showed up to dribble for a bit.

It was a normal night at our ukulele jam. We'd all just played a song together and one of the organizers was talking about Arlo Guthrie, and he looked to the door and said, "I think we have a special guest." I only saw a woman, so I thought it was a friend of his or something, but then a man walked in with a yellow fibreglass uke case.

It was effing Jake Shimabukuro, who is a virtuoso ukulele player. He is widely considered the world's best uke player. He plays with a clockwork precision and heartfelt passion.

He said he was in town for a(n apparently pseudo-) Ted Talk and a couple of our members invited him to stop by. Bold!

But it was so so so surreal. It was like we were all collectively tripping, mass-hallucinating Shimabukuro in front of us.

He spoke to us about playing and music and some theory, and he played three or four songs for us, including his arrangement of George Harrison's "As My Guitar Gently Weeps," the song he's most famous for on YouTube.

Here's the thing: Shimabukuro plays his uke like a virtuoso would play a classical guitar. I'm not aspiring to play as well as him, or his style, but by god can I appreciate it. In the meantime, I'm going to keep pounding out Nick Gilder.

My good friend Sunny nearly shat her pants when she saw him. The only thing I can think of that's analogous with Jake showing up for me is if Elton John wandered in off the street to sing with us. She got him to sign her Ohana - her primary uke. I gasped when I saw it - the black pen on the beautiful blonde wood - but she told me she has always said that Shimabukuro would be the only one she'd let sign that uke.

I also got my shitty uke signed. It only lights a fire under me to retire it sooner. I wrote Koaloha again today. Hopefully I'll speak to the guy tonight and have a new uke on its way next week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Uke.

I have been saving my toonies for over a year now with the goal of buying a new uke.

They've really added up! Now I find myself shopping for a ukulele, which is a little overwhelming because of all the choice and options.

I got it in my head that I wanted a Koaloha, which is widely renowned to be a top-of-the-line uke. They're made in Hawaii, have a beautiful stylized sound hole, use beautiful wood (the traditional Koa), and have a reputation of sounding like butter.
The problem is, the standard soprano, which is the size I want, costs about twice as much as I have saved. Bah.

So, I'm faced with the quandary: do I get a darn good uke with the money I do have (probably a Kala or a Ohana), or wait for another year and buy the one I really want?

Well, my friends at my ukulele jam have come through again! One of them wrote to Koaloha about "factory seconds." They are perfectly fine instruments, but have some sort of superficial flaw, like a bubble in the finish, or a misaligned wood grain. I had heard about these creatures, but was timid about asking. I felt like I would be begging for a fine uke at a discount, as if I was pulling the wool over their eyes.

Of course, seconds are a totally symbiotic relationship. Koaloha gets some money for a complete instrument, and I get a slightly flawed instrument at a discount!

So, hopefully soon I'm going to get a call from Brian in Honolulu and we can talk about a new uke!

I should say: Duke is good. Well, not really. Duke was good enough. Duke (my present uke, a Hilo soprano), is actually kinda shitty. It was good enough to learn on, but now that I've improved and heard how good a quality uke can sound. Duke's sound is not good. It sounds like a shoebox with 4 rubber bands strung around it. The nut is too high, so the lower frets are out of tune. It's some sort of shitty plywood/glue amalgam, which resonates like a Birkenstock. I'm really ready to move on, and saving for over a year gives such a great feeling of delayed satisfaction.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thanks, Marianne.

Lovely Mare saw how shitty my day was on Monday and treated me to a movie. It was very nice of her, and it actually did make me feel a lot better. (And the movie holds up on second viewing.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Physiology!

Well, I wasn't wrong.

I was boned. So, I have to shift gears for the rest of the summer.

Here's my plan: I am now enrolled in a 2-credit, 4 month Physiology class and a 1-credit, 2 month Statistics class. I need to take the second half of Stats for my application, which is due in January.

I am managing to pull off a B- in my Stats class, with no small help from a classmate, but I am doing embarrassingly poorly in my Physiology class.

I wrote my second of four tests today and got a 50%. As if.

So, instead of just managing to do "OK" in two classes that are difficult for me, I'm going to not take Stats next semester and concentrate on bringing up my Physiology marks.

This means I have to do one more class this fall, and since it's a second half of a class, it might not be offered. Well, fine. Then I put on my SLP application that I'm enrolled in the January session and will send then grades when I'm done. That's what all the whipper-snapper undergrads do.

All I know is, summer courses are for the birds. They're so intensive, and I am so far out of my comfort zone. It was too much to take on.

Well, I have to go hit Stats now, so I understand what the hell is going on in class tomorrow night. Here's hoping...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Holly, Damn You.

I have to study, and then I tried to spend "a few minutes" playing with my blog template!

Expect more changes to come - for example, I did lose all my links, which makes me unhappy.

But come on... what kind of luck do I have to find a raw sugar background photo for my blog called "Sweet Nothings?"

Subterranean Homesick Blues.

One of my housemates is moving to Yarmouth for the summer, and she's hosting her big going away party tonight.

I'm currently exiled at T's empty apartment, studying for what will surely be an abysmal showing on my next Physiology test.

Last time my roommates threw a party, it went until almost 4am (and, from the sounds of it, mostly right over the ducts that rattle in my basement bedroom's ceiling), so, being a cranky old codger, I left. I really have to be able to cram tomorrow, so I need to be able to sleep tonight.

And yes, I do mean cram, not study. Dividing my time between Statistics and Physiology was unwise. I should taken one or the other, or paired one with a Social Sciences credit that I'd be more comfortable with, or taken neither and become a longshoreman.

There is no way one should do a complete survey of the human body in 13 weeks. Yes, it is a survey, but it's the human body! The beautiful, complex-yet-simple, makes-men-consider-the-existence-of-higher-beings human body!

This exam is on the Adrenal System, Neurophysiology, and about a third of the course's material on the Cardiovascular system. Yup.

Ironically, I'm boned.

I only got a 60% on my first exam in this class, which is below what used to be my set academic goals of at least a 70%, and well below my current "Rah Rah, Let's Get Into Grad School" goal of 80%.

Well, I have tomorrow to really cram. I'm going to sit here until T's kind roommate comes home and takes back her keys. I hope something sticks. All I remember right now is there are actually something called the Funny Channels in the heart. And they're named that because the scientists thought they were funny! How am I expected to memorize shit about action potentials when I know these things? I would rather these people be very serious about this stuff.

Still, if I had free rein to name stuff in the body, I'd let myself have some fun. No long BS acronyms for me! Ugh... I got to get back to the long BS acronyms. Later.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Girl Girl Girl Girl Girl Girl Not Girl.

Elizabeth has broken the streak. She had a baby boy, Lucas, this week. Congratulations!

Well, that's it: no more preggers friends. They's all done popped.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Husband List Member?


I've been thinking about adding Jay Baruchel to my patented Husband List.

There are many criteria for becoming a member of the List. Modesty prevents me from going into too much detail, but take it from me: he fulfills them.

Plus, as a bonus, there's a guy in my Stats class that reminds me of him, and now when I see one or the other, I have happy, warm fuzzies.

What do people think of this? Before you answer, make sure you've seen at least one of the following:
a) Undeclared
b) The Trotsky
c) Tropic Thunder

with recommended but not required materials:
a) Real Time
b) She's Out of My League
c) Knocked Up

Monday, June 07, 2010

Attention Charlottetown Readers!

From June 14th to June 20th, "The Trotsky" is playing at City Cinema. I highly recommend this movie, and, let's face it: there is a real possibility that you'll never get a chance to see it, at least not without a fight.

Don't go into it with a "it's just a Canadian movie" attitude. I don't think there's any need. It's very good. The rating is good on IMDB, but Rotten Tomatoes is not as favourable as I'd like it to be, but it could have something to do with only gathering six reviews. Also: seeing The Trotsky might be the only time in cinema history that a Lada is a punchline, which is bit of a reversal of fortune, since in real life it's rare that a Lada is not a punchline.

For you mainlanders, City Cinema is Charlottetown's art-house theatre. It screens all the indie and foreign films that would probably never screen at the only other Charlottetown theatre - one of the Empire multiplex chain. It's got one screen and 81 (new!) seats and shows two movies a night. It has a competitive membership program and a loyal population of movie-goers. Besides that, it became a regular outing for the Confederation Centre box officers (i.e. B.O. Brigade), and I enjoyed tagging along from time to time.

Bye-the-bye: what is the gentilic for Charlottetown? Charlottetowner? Ugh. That's dreadful. Charlottetownian? I hope it's weird like Haligonian or Glaswegian. I vote for Charlottain.

Finally: have people seen this? It's a 2-minute Adidas ad, re-working the Cantina scene from A New Hope, doctoring it to insert people into the scene in a way that Lucas dreams he could have for those awful "remastered" editions. Besides the seamlessness of the insertion of, say, Daft Punk, Beckham, and Snoop Dog (?), it's really not very good. "Celebrate Originality"? Come on, Adidas. How can you not see the lameness of capitalizing on the institution of Star Wars, a movie that is over 3 decades old, while claiming to celebrate originality? How about calling flippin' OK Go? They make hella good videos with a 200th of the budget because they use their imaginations!

I am utterly baffled, though, as to why Jay Baruchel was involved in this undertaking. An Adidas ad? Really? Does this have something to do with him being in a new, huge Nic Cage movie? Was he tied to some contract to do it? Was it for "the buzz"? That doesn't seem like him...

Ok, I'll close. I could furrow my brow and raise my shoulders about this for quite some time.

GO see The Trotsky!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hormoan System.

My Physiology class is on-line. Every week, 4 new video lectures become available, and the previous 4 disappear. A quarter of the screen is a video of my professor, another quarter is a list of what slides we have to get through, and the other half is the slides themselves. They scroll by like on PowerPoint, on cue with the progress of the lecture.

It's a good set-up, and it keeps you pretty on track. You can't fall behind, or the lectures will disappear.

Well, in the odyssey of super-fun learning that is my life these days, we're deeply mired in the Endocrine System right now. There are a lot of acronyms and cycles to juggle, but it's cool to learn about insulin and adrenalin et al.

Today, I started wading through the hormones of reproduction.

So, I find myself sitting inside on a rainy June day, carefully inspecting a testicle, trying to memorize its exact anatomy.

Sigh. If only my future career and weren't at stake and if only it weren't dissected.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Me, Too!

I so desperately want to be part of a group like this!

Anyone know of 10 other ukulele players (and one bass player) with similar musical tastes and talent who wants to play with me?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Friends Who Might Think I'm Ignoring/Avoiding You.

I'm not ignoring, but I've never really known the kind of brain drain that I'm undergoing right now.

Both Statistics and Physiology are owning my ass, and I can't find a lot of spare time.

I am avoiding phone calls, since they are dangerous and can make time fly by. I can't let that happen these days. Quick little emails might be your best bet if you're hoping to contact me.

BUT: Holly deserves a mention because she recently successfully defended her PhD dissertation, and handed in the final copy today. It was a lot of work, and we're all so pleased and proud! Congratulations!

In the meantime, if anyone can tell me (in a way I can understand) how
P(A|B) can equal both P(A) and P(A and B)/P(B), but they are not the same bleedin' thing, that would be flippin' great.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quick Note.

Of the six children born to people I know in the last c.2 months, all six have been girls.

Wanna know what makes me super excited?

Because of my Statistics class, I know how to figure out the chances of this!!!*

find: Probability (P) that next 6 children born to friends (or sisters) are girls.

P(next 6 are girls)

where P(girl)=.49 (i.e 49% of births are girls)

P(A1)(A2)(A3)...(An)=

P(girl1)(girl2)(girl3)(girl4)(girl5)(girl6)=

P(.49)(.49)(.49)(.49)(.49)(.49)=0.0138

Holy crap! The chances are almost %1.5!

Anyhow, welcome Svea, Tessa, Lily, Julia, and new this week, Ruby and Alexis. I will be making your mothers nervous in no time.

*aka factorial, factorial, factorial.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

I don't know why I'm surprised. When things get too big they have a hard time functioning. Look at poor Saint Bernards and Irish Wolfhounds. They're too big and die earlier than smaller, more efficient dogs.

Anyhow, U of T is the biggest uni. in the country. It has as many students as Charlottetown has residents.

It also has a truly embarrassing online student interface system. I am taking 2 classes with U of T, one, live, in person, in a real classroom with a sentient prof in front of me, and another on-line, through U of T's School of Continuing Studies.

I have 2 different passwords for the 2 separate student pages that look exactly the same, except there is ONE link on each page for ONE class. Why in the name of all that is holy wouldn't I have the same Portal with both my classes listed? I have to exit my entire web browser in order to log in to the other one.

If they're going to use the excuse that one of my classes is through the School of Continuing Studies, that's utter bullshit. It's humiliating that a school as big and as rich as U of T can't consolidate its student portal.

There, University of Toronto: you can suck it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

T.O. B&E.

I got back from running an errand Wednesday to find the side door of the house kicked in. We figure there was a 45 minute window of opportunity for someone to have done that. At about noon.

One laptop was taken, multiple hundreds in cash that my roommate was raising for the Canadian Cancer Society, and, inexplicably, a bottle of daiquiri mix. Losing the Cancer money stung the most. She had organized yard sales and collected most of that money in loonies and toonies.

We were pretty shaken. Knowing a stranger was in your home when you weren't there is eerie. We're fine now, but we're pretty on edge about noises and triple-checking if doors are locked.

The property management company came by later that day to fix the door. Well, the door expert was on vacation, so another minion came and barricaded our door in the same method I would employ if preparing for a zombie invasion.
I like it. It's a rustic arts-and-crafts pre-apocalyptic reckoning of a conventional door. It's all the rage in Brooklyn, too.

If anyone wants to help my roommate get that donation back up to its original status for her Relay for Life team, here's the link, and any donations over $20 are eligible for a tax receipt.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mercy.

Ok, so it's actually worse than I thought. The schoolwork is very time-consuming. Well, maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake.

I think the major problem is my Physiology class. Instead of 3 lectures a week, there are 4, so the first quiz, which is on Monday has 12 lectures on it, not 9. I am currently watching lecture 6. SO, I have 7 lectures to get through by Monday. Oh, and do all the CD-Rom labs, and do the mock quizzes, AND study! I hope I have time to see MacGruber!

Actually, the problem isn't the quantity of the lectures - it's the content. I thought we were going to be talking about muscles and bones 'n' shit, but it's really a chemistry class. I'm (meant to be) learning about net charges of cells and membrane potentials and polarization of this and that. It's much more micro than I thought it would be. I hope we get to the macro stuff soon and this first slog is a good foundation. I just hope I can retain it long enough to make it useful later on. Like on the exam.

Quick note: my best break/treat last weekend (besides visiting with my Confed girlies) was seeing The Trotsky. It was very good. I laughed a lot, and often long after everyone else was done laughing. Yeah, that's how I roll.
Back to the books...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Oh, Dear.

I'm a student again. This might be news to some of you. I've decided, though, that I would like to study Speech-Language Pathology, and this requires me to take some pre-requisite courses this summer and fall; to even qualify I need them. And I need to get high grades, too - it's really competitive to get in to SLP. For example, last year there were over 260 applicants to the U of T program, and there are only 45 seats.

So, this summer I'm studying full time. I'm taking 4 credits, 2 each in Statistics and Physiology. I was dreading stats but kinda looking forward to physiology. Well, I've just finished my first physiol. lecture, which is all on-line. I have a lot of catching up to do. I have the pre-recs to get into this course, but it was all a while ago.

My first stats lecture is on Tuesday night. Phew. Thank goodness B is leaving soon. It would be difficult to study as much as I need to if there was someone fun in the house. Oh! I should post about why he's here. That's next.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Rolling With The Times.

I have to hand it to the firm handling the advertising for Brita Water Filters. They are masters at re-marketing themselves.

Not long ago, I posted my bother at Brita telling us that drinking water straight from the tap was tantamount to lapping from the toilet.

Now, they've hitched their wagon to the "green" angle, saying that drinking water from a Brita will save untold thousands of plastic bottles from going to the landfill. Their reasoning is, you'll refill your glass from a Brita Water Filtration System (tm) instead to using the devil plastic!

This ignores the fact that Brita pitchers are made of plastic, the non-recyclable kind, and the filters are housed in disposable plastic.

It is also a bullshit afterthought that happens to work for them, but it was never - I guarantee never - an objective of theirs. It's like a company that makes stairwells marketing themselves as a weight loss tool.

There are some places in Canada that don't have drinkable tap water, but I wager there are very few that are along the southernmost 100 kilometers of the country. Like I've said before, drink your tap water. It's fine, and delicious, and virtually free, compared to its value. If it's chlorine-y, it's probably because older infrastructure makes your town's officials nervous about breaches. Someone loves you and doesn't want you to get an infection from faecal coliform! Aww!

Greenwashing has become a real thorn in my side. The last time I went to the Green Living Show, I was appalled. There were booths there touting products that had tenuous, at best, right to be there. It was BS like, hey! this lawn mower uses diesel instead of gasoline! Diesel is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel! Cleaner burning. Rad.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fooled Again.

I happened to turn on "The Blues Brothers" last week and saw Ray Charles et al performing "Shake a Tail Feather." I had forgotten about it all together. Here it is:



Only last week, I found this Hanson video. Yes, you read right: HANSON VIDEO. I loved it. While it was a little dance mob-y, which I'm getting a little tired of, there was something a little organic about it, like how you can hear the audio of the dance, i.e. foot scuffs.

Watch:
Thinking 'Bout Somethin'

HANSON | MySpace Music Videos


So is Hanson cool because they payed homage to the cool movie "The Blues Brothers," or lame because they couldn't do something cool on their own?

I found this video because Weird Al tweeted about it. I think he directed it, and yes, he's in the video too. Want to waste 2 hours? Go to YouTube and rediscover how brilliant Weird Al's videos are. Al dressed as a Padawan? Nerd boner!

I am a fan of homage. Hell, I follow Weird Al's tweets, for goodness sake! Also, most of you know about my "Shawn of the Dead" devotion, the ultimate zombie movie homage.

The difference between homage and ripping off is if there's respect; a tribute paid. Ripping off is just capitalizing on someone else's success.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Colbert Bender.

Hello, my name is Catherine, and I'm on a Colbert Bender.

Many of my friends and readers (but why, if they aren't my friends, do they read this tripe?) know I have the kind of benign addictive personality that, when the (extended) mood strikes, will make me consume some sort of entertainment ad infinitum.

Well, it's Stephen Colbert's turn.

This last month has been a blur, and it is owing in no small part to my brother-in-law teaching me how to download torrents. I got all three seasons of "Strangers With Candy," and the short-lived but important "Exit 57," a sketch show with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello (on whom I could also develop a crush, if I could see him in more stuff).

Note: I unwittingly pushed our household over our downloading limit for the month and will have to pay the penalty when the bill comes in. Worth it? Yes. Yes, it is.

Early Colbert.

My earliest introduction to Colbert was on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," where he was not only a correspondent, but I believe was the first Senior Correspondent. Ooh-la-la. This was the Petri dish where Colbert developed his hard-nosed, windbag, right-wing newsman character that he uses on "The Colbert Report."

When he was on "The Daily Show," I especially enjoyed Even Stephven. It was a segment where Colbert and Steve Carell skewered programs in which two pundits berate one another's intelligence because they have differing opinions. This was my first introduction to Colbert breaking down into sobs - one of my favourite weapons in Colbert's comedy arsenal, and it pre-dated "The Daily Show."

There was one legendary piece on "The Daily Show" where Colbert was reporting "from London" on a allegation that Prince Charles had had a gay experience with a servant. Colbert's very uncharacteristic uncontrollable corpsing makes this a real gut-buster. I watched it on a loop when I was in grad school, until my roommate started to worry about me.

In the Comedy Central TV show "Strangers With Candy," Colbert plays Chuck Noblet, a closeted high school teacher who has a secret relationship with Mr. Jellineck, the art teacher. This is so titillating to me. [Sidebar: why is it such mainstream knowledge that many men get turned on by the idea of two women "together," but it's not as mainstream that two men getting it on could turn on a woman? I think this is a much bigger discussion about sexuality and social custom. Maybe that's for a later post.] Somehow, "Strangers With Candy" got away with such filth, I doubt it would go to air today, even on basic cable. The show was modelled on after-school specials, but the main character (a 46-year old ex-junkie whore who goes back to school, played by Amy Sedaris, who is once and again more than thrilled to make herself unattractive as an actor) is based on Florrie Fisher.

Noblet:
Why are you pushing me away?
Jellineck:
I'm not pushing you away. I'm pulling me towards myself.

The Man.


I have long enjoyed satire. It's a dignified sarcasm. Colbert can do satire because he has the looks and the smarts. He looks like any other part-in-the-hair, pin-in-the-lapel newsman, which makes him the perfect sleeper to subvert from within. He is incredibly quick and witty, and seems to have some sort of perfect recall. All this gives him a great deal of power, but he's also very kind. He tells Charlie Rose in an interview, which I strongly recommend you watch, that he doesn't want to ambush people and make them feel like dirt, but wants to point out their silliness nonetheless. He also shows his humility by expressing his wonder that Jon Stewart considers him a peer.
Colbert is a family man and maybe I'm at a place in my life where that's attractive. He's a Roman Catholic and a family man. Well, I can look past the Catholic part. I like candles... Anyhow: he has said he doesn't want his kids to see the Report because he doesn't want them to think he's insincere. He doesn't think kids can understand satire. He's right - you have to balance too many factors to make and understand satire.

I think it would be difficult to have a character that has the same name as you. There are many differences between Stephen Colbert and Sir Dr. Stephen Colbert, D.F.A., but because they look the same and have the same (basic) name, that must be trying at times. Bret and Jemaine from "Flight of the Conchords" said they had the same problem, playing characters which had their own names which they didn't resemble in real life. Anyhow, Dr. Colbert is a corporate schill, an addict, a pretentious windbag, and a closeted homosexual - an amalgam of those he's satirizing, all in one Brooks Brothers-wrapped package. A one-stop-shop.

The Voice.

Colbert has a beautiful singing voice and we don't hear it enough. I think the first time most of us heard it was on the Christmas Special, but from time to time on the Report, he sings with a guest. I love this duet with John Legend, singing a Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney song. (Check out the killer work on the key change.)

When Elvis Costello was on the Report last November, Elvis had a sore throat, but he accompanied Colbert on guitar. There's a moment at the end of the song where Colbert grins, breaking character, and I imagine it's because he had just said to himself, starstruck, "Holy shit. Elvis Costello is three feet away and I'm singing his song while he plays guitar." Colbert's vocal somersaults and bittersweet sincerity is fantastic. Because of the Christmas Special and this appearance on the Report, I started to investigate Costello's music and I was missing out in such a big way. [Anyhow, this is also for another post, but suffice it to say: me+Elvis=happy.]
These are two examples, I believe, of Colbert making loyal friends. Both Legend and Costello both appeared on the Christmas Special.

The Christmas Special.

The Special, whose full title is "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" is a genius send-up of old-school Christmas shows, slapped together and phoned in with shitty production value and hollow sentiment. Colbert so broadly lip-syncs and minces about his three-walled "mountain cabin," there's no way anyone could ever think he really means it. But no, some critics thought he was for real, and gave the Special tepid reviews. I think it's genius, and not only because he sings and dances and hits on every guest under the mistletoe, but because the original music is so so so smart. When my friend Sunny and I performed "Can I Interest You In Hannukah?" at my ukulele jam in December, we brought down the flippin' huppa. It also required me to call Sunny "you Jew" on stage. (I was less nervous about calling her a Jew than I was having the audience think I was a Christian.)

So, to close a conversation that I'm far from finished having, Stephen Colbert is an important entertainer who has nestled his full, lustrous head of hair to my bosom. If he were ever to find himself in Toronto, I would invite him into my home, make him a fresh mojito, and I would play my ukulele and we would sing all night long, probably while his wife frantically describes his kidnapper to the RCMP.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Note To Self.

I can't wear bangs.

I want this to be here in writing so next time I get the urge to cut them again, I will not.

My skin is too oily, my hair is too oily, and I have a cowlick on my widow's peak. These three factors combine to make for god-awful bangs.

I have been cutting bangs about every three years. That three-year cycle consists of:

1) 3-4 months of wearing them with difficulty and too much maintenance.
2) 1 year of pinning them back while they grow out.
3) 1 year of wearing no bangs.
4) 8-9 months of thinking about cutting bangs again.

It's during step 3) that I forget about step 1) and how big a pain in the ass my bangs were, but there's that one picture that someone took of me that night and my bangs look really good even though I know I had just had a shower and it was a day with optimal humidity and within 30 minutes, I looked like I had rubbed Crisco on my head, but maybe if I use a different size round brush and change my mousse, and blah blah blah and suddenly I'm back at the end of step 4) again.

There. For the record.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I KNOW!

Can cashiers please wait more than .2 seconds after seeing me swipe my debit card before saying (in an exhausted tone), "Other way"?

I know it's the other way! I can see nothing's happening! It's not like I'm going to continue to swipe it one way until the card catches on fire and I break down weeping, hand bloodied.

There aren't a lot of options! It's only going to be one other way! I'm not going to try to fold it in half and push it through the screen!

Insert emoticon for frustrated screams!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Spring Is Sprung.

I'm home on PEI. I wasn't sure I'd get another chance this summer since I'm taking courses full-time at U of T this summer, so we thought Easter might be a good time.

It's very warm here - unseasonably warm. It's been over 20 degrees every day, and so so so nice. J and I went for a long walk up on Cavendish Beach on Saturday, and then my father and I went up to Savage Harbour to snoop around a big construction site and we went out to the North Shore there, as well.

The Island smells like new grass, warm sand and salt air. It's perfect timing - no mosquitoes yet, no tourists, no fee for the National Park...

For those of you who've never been to the Island: there's not much in the way of bedrock here. That is, what we have of bedrock is mostly sandstone, which is just very tightly packed sand. All the ice that froze through it in the winter melts, leaving fissures and too much moisture, so it heaves with the slightest pressure. Our roads get very potholed and torn up, and heaven help you if you're driving on an unpaved or ungraded road, because you could end up spinning your tires in slippery clay.

The good thing about this is, though: red soil everywhere! There's nothing better to remind you where you are than going up to your ankle in ground you thought was solid, and pulling out a rust-coloured sock of mud around your shoe.

The sand isn't always red here. On beaches on the South Shore, there's a lot more clay, so they're very vibrant red, but on the North Shore, the beaches can range from red to pink to white. (The pounding of the Gulf eventually washes away the oxidization.) All the beaches are pretty. They're usually scattered with red sandstones, kelp, and seashells. J and I saw a dead seal! (There was a boy there, about 7 y.o., who was very excited about it.)

The soil in Ontario is very black. I find it quite off-putting. I think I feel that it's dirty or something. This is strange, because I spent so much time in Newfoundland growing up, and it's dark there, too. It's funny, isn't it, that black soil is probably much richer for growing things, but some crops love the sandy, acidic soil that we have here on PEI. Our soil and potatoes are best mates.

Thanks to this guy for the photos.